#GrammarSeries – The purpose of parallelism

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Parallelism in grammar occurs when there is a similarity of structures used in sentence construction. The usage of parallelism in your writing makes the information you are presenting easier to process for your readers. 

Inappropriate parallelism, on the other hand, disturbs the flow of thoughts when reading a piece of writing.

When two or more parts of a sentence are similar in meaning but different in form, a faulty parallelism can be said to have occurred.

Let us take a look at the following examples;

Ali is swimming, driving, running and to dance.

The above sentence sounds odd, doesn’t it? Now check out the sentence below.

Ali is swimming, eating, running and dancing.

The above sentence sounds a whole lot better, doesn’t it? Now, here is what happened.

In the first sentence, the verbs are all in the present continuous form except the last one ‘to dance’ which is in the infinitive form while the verbs in the second sentence are all in the present continuous form.

Be mindful of this when you write.

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How to write when you don’t feel like

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Let’s be honest, there will be times you won’t feel like writing. You’ll be tempted to do every other thing except to write. Sometimes, you may not be in the mood for days or even weeks. You just can’t explain why don’t ‘feel like’ writing. Somehow, inspiration seems to have taken a long hike and you’re not sure when it’s going to return. 

Well, if you intend to be a good writer, one who is known to make impact, you need to know how to write whether you are in the mood or not. The best writers are those who are able to master how to write in ll seasons; whether they are in the mood or not. 

We want you to be one of the best writers the world has ever known. Here are some tips that will help you to write even if you are not in the mood. 

Allow Yourself to Write Crap

Yes, you read correctly! Allow yourself to write crap. Sometimes, the reason you don’t feel like writing is because you feel what you will produce will not be good enough. “So why write it,” you wonder. Other times, you don’t write because you over think things; How should I start? Will the story be interesting enough? Will people want to read it?

You need to stop over-analyzing and write. Ignore those voices that keep telling you that what you want to write will not be good enough. Who said so? You never know how good what you have to write is until you finish. And even if it is not as good as you want it, you can always edit and fix it! 

It is possible for you to start writing and the first few paragraphs won’t make sense to you. Instead of getting frustrated, just keep going on. The victory is in the process. Finish, review and learn where you need to review.

Motivate yourself 

If you say you are not in the mood and you know that you definitely need to write then do the needful and motivate yourself. What puts you in a good mood? What gets you excited? Note them and do those things.

You may need to take a walk, listen to music to motivate yourself. The best motivation however is thinking about the number of lives what you want to write will bless. Your message should motivate you. Your purpose should stir you to write.

Even if like this man you have to search for motivation;

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Don’t stop until you find it😌

Eliminate every form of distraction and time yourself

It is bad enough that you do not feel like writing, the last thing you should do is to allow distractions. Your children are running around the house, the TV is on and you’ve been surfing the internet for almost an hour. Why will you feel like writing?

Find someone to stay with your children, leave the house, go for a power walk and go back home to write or look for a park, co-working space where you can have some peace and quiet and write. Distractions are not good for anyone much less a writer.

What are some of the ways you get yourself to write when you are not in the mood. Do share!

Seven blogging tools for bloggers with zero graphic design skills

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Isn’t it amazing how you do not have to be an expert graphics designer before you can design an image that would truly capture what your blog post is about? We think it is!

There are image creating tools that are easy to use, easy to navigate and produce high quality images all at the same time. Rather than resort to downloading images from stock photos that may not really capture the line of thought in your posts, you could actually be doing the design yourself without the help of a graphics designer.

You need to check these tools out. They are awesome resources for bloggers.

  • Canva – Apart from the exciting fact that this tool is free (to an extent), Canva is a surefire way of pretending like you have awesome graphics design skills as a blogger. Once you select your image dimension, you can pick from a blank canvas or preset design template, and quickly customize the graphic. There is an extensive library of free options to choose from.

  • Ribbet – Even though this tool has not been around for so long, it is gradually gaining some level of recognition. The degree of simplicity attached to the usage of this tool is simply unbelievable. It is a platform for simple photo editing and collage creation. With this tool, you can customize images for your blog posts without limits. All you need to do is drag and drop your photos into the pre-set collage templates.

  • Quotescover – You can tell the function of this tool from its name. If you are a blogger with an uncanny ability for churning out witty quotes, this is the tool for you. It is really simple. Add your own text or choose from their extensive library of quotes, pick an image and font, and publish. That is all!

  • Smushit – This is one tool that really does a good job of ‘smushing’ pictures with large file sizes. This tool helps to reduce the file size of images preventing your blog from loading pages on time. It would literally increase your blog’s page-load times.  The best part of this tool is that the quality of your pictures does not reduce with the file size. It remains intact.

  • Google Drawings – This is one fun tool for bloggers who love to have fun. All you need to do is upload an image, label it and add a few fun shapes. With that, you would have created a .png image with a transparent background. All you need to access this tool is a Google account and then you are good to go.

Some of us may never learn how to use Photoshop but we still would need to design a thing or two right?

#WriterSpotlight – ‘Writing is my most potent form of expressing myself.’ Blessing Okoro

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We just love it when we find writers who receive a vision to write a book and follow through with that vision despite that challenges that comes their way. Blessing Okoro is one of such writers. For two years, she nurtured a dream given to her by God to write a book. Several obstacles, including having to re-write her manuscript, tried to prevent her from achieving this dream, but she kept pushing. Not only is Blessing a published author, she is also proof that succeeding as a writer requires passion, grit and above all, following the purpose of God.

Enjoy our interview with her.

Hello Blessing, please introduce yourself.

My name is Blessing Ofure Okoro. I am an inspired writer, speaker, and blogger. I enjoy the soothing feel of words in form of quotes, poems, inspirational write-ups and Christian literature. Having written consistently since the day I started blogging in my hostel room while I was a student at Covenant University in 2013, I believe that the grace of God and the power of consistent writing have made me the refined writer I am today.

In terms of work experience, I have worked over the last three years as a Management Consultant and an Auditor in two international professional services firms. I am currently an IMBA student in France and I remain passionate about gleaning an international corporate experience.

When did you discover your love for writing?

It was at the age of 11, I had read a poetry book and developed the urge to write like that. This is the major storyline in Chapter 2 of my book. My love for poetry was very emotional, and it was more of an innate talent that needed to be awaken. Later on, I discovered my love for experiential write-ups which were inspired by the Scriptures, my daily experiences, the inspirational books I read and my understanding of the topics I remain passionate about (such as dream actualization, purpose, and Christian living). Looking back today, I would say that it has been an amazing journey and I look forward to greater years of discovery.

How has your writing improved over the years?

My writing has improved through prayers and the strength for consistency. When I started sharing my poems, write-ups and other pieces on my blog, blessingshares.com in 2013, that was a major milestone. Those steps of putting my written pieces out there continuously, getting comments and reviews, doing writing collaborations with other Bloggers, reading other write-ups to learn how to write better, and even writing on days I did not feel like it – all these and more have led to huge improvements from when I started out as a writer. For all these and more, I am certainly grateful.

Congratulations on the launch of your book ‘They told us to dream.’ How did you feel when you held the published copy?

Thank God for the miracle. When my book was released in November 2017, I said to myself, ‘The achievement of a dream is a miracle!’ It’s amazing what God did, I really cannot take the glory. I had almost given up on the dream, but God helped me. It was over two years of nurturing the dream of becoming an Author – through it all, it is a reality today and I give all the glory to Jesus Christ.

What inspired you to write this book?

It was more like, ‘Who?’ It was God because the nuggets shared in the book were extracted from the stages and lessons of my dream-filled life. Having to put all of those experiences into coherent words that flow properly and getting to inspire another dreamer to achieve greatly – it is definitely an inspiration only God could give. The reason I decided to encourage a fellow dreamer was that I was tired of seeing people give up on amazing dreams, just because they lacked the relevant knowledge and drive to achieve those dreams. In the words of one of the reviewers, “It is a powerful book of deliverance. I see it releasing people to dream big dreams and live fulfilling lives.” I see the book as this and more and I pray everyone that has read and will still read the book will be inspired to achieve their dreams in grand style.

You must be a dreamer yourself, what dreams of yours are you pursuing presently?

Currently, my MBA Degree. I had this dream since 2014. Thank God for its season of fulfillment.

Can you tell us what you hope to achieve with this book?

In a broad mission statement, I pray the book will get to every ‘dreamer’ out there to ensure they turn each dream they ever have into reality. In terms of a specific value proposition, I hope to ignite a dream experience among dreamers (particularly the youths) in various countries of the world – an experience that will make every dreamer realize that although living out a dream can be a real maze, you are not alone – let’s go on making an amazing maze and achieving our dreams per time. In terms of goal matrices, I aim to sell over one million copies of this Dreamer’s Digest worldwide by the grace of God.

 

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What do you love most about being a writer?

The freedom from writing your own words. The blessing of inspiring others to live their best lives. The calmness brought from written pieces. Writing is my most potent form of expressing myself – Yeah. I love that people appreciate the talent of writing. I found this out recently when my book got published, people were so amazed and happy for me – it was a major experience when I fully realized that I love being a writer, you know. Having the God-given gift of writing and inspiring others – that’s priceless and for that, I am truly grateful.

We know you enrolled with our writing coach. Can you tell us how this experience helped you, especially with achieving your writing goals?

I mainly enrolled for the timeline coaching. I had a one-hour session with Adedoyin Jaiyesimi to explain my self-publishing journey and to come up with a timeline towards the book release. It was a good coaching experience, I enjoyed her listening ability and the knowledge shared. More importantly, the timeline document Adedoyin came up with were value-adding, the timeliness of the service and also her flexibility to update the document when we needed that. I will say it helped me to have a date in mind and even when the lags came, I kept on pushing up until my final book release date on the 19th of November, 2017.

Tell us how the publishing process for your book went and the lessons learned.

Hmmmm. I can have another book on this. Matter of fact, I have to prepare a course to share my lessons and the pitfalls budding authors who are self-publishing need to avoid. It was a journey of literal highs and lows. The highs were the miracles each day: for the wisdom for each stage of self-publishing, for the five-star reviews on Amazon, for having the books printed in less than a week, after many years of having that dream and so on. The lows cut across: having to rewrite my first manuscript, experiencing time lags during the layout phase because of the rigor and so many disappointments that I have forgotten as at today. You see, God’s grace was sufficient for me. It was majorly two years of learning, unlearning and relearning. I will do a summary of the lessons at this stage.

My high-level lessons are: book cover going in for printing should not be in Photoshop, the manuscript going into print should be in A5 and sign your contracts with clauses that say, we are not done until the book is printed well. More subtle lessons but highly important are: pick a catchy title that will give people an epic reaction, tell everyone you are writing a book at every single stage of your journey and get a book budget projection plan.

Where can readers get a copy of your book?

Yes! Thank for this question. The book is available on Amazon worldwide. The paperback can be delivered nationwide in Nigeria when you order on the official website theytoldustodream.com

For inquiries on bulk orders and orders in general, you can follow my official Instagram page blessingshares_official or simply send a mail to ofure.okoro@gmail.com.

What’s your advice to writers who have been working on a writing project for so long and are getting tired?

Four potent points to run with:

  • Add your book writing dream to your prayer list daily- you need a miracle;
  • It’s possible you are knowledge drained – pay for relevant coaching and apply the knowledge gained;
  • It is a tiring journey – as long as you’ve started, just keep going – that’s a major cure for the exhaustion;
  • I will love to hear your story, you could send me a mail or contact me via my business page, BlessingShares on Facebook.

In conclusion pray, keep going and never give up.

 

#WritingQuote – “Read everything you can lay hands on.” Michael Moorcock

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“My first rule was given to me by TH White, author of ‘The Sword in the Stone’ and other Arthurian fantasies and was: Read. Read everything you can lay hands on. I always advise people who want to write a fantasy or science fiction or romance to stop reading everything in those genres and start reading everything else from Bunyan to Byatt.” — Michael Moorcock

This is one mind-blowing quote from an unusual author. Initially, this quote might not make a whole lot of sense until you take a deeper look at it. How do you get better at writing a science fiction by reading other books that are not science fiction-related?

The answer is you get infinitely better because ideas that come from reading books in genres that are way different from your genre of writing would be invaluable when infused into your writing.

For instance, if you are a fiction writer and you read non-fiction books or even fantasy books, you would be able to get both realistic experiences and ideas from non-fiction books to add to your fiction writing with a sprinkle of weirdness coming from fantasy books. Isn’t that dope? 

The main point of the quote is this: as a writer, you have to learn the art of diversity and versatility. Do not allow yourself to be stuck in one kind of writing. You have to be an adventurous reader to write adventurously.

#GrammarSeries – Learn the difference between compliment and complement

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Time to up your grammar game Sparkle Writers! Today we are learning the difference between compliment and complement because there is a difference!  

Funny enough, these almost similar words get some writers confused when they write too. Fortunately, we are here to help you the best way we can.

What exactly is the difference between ‘compliment’ and ‘complement’? It is simple.

Apart from the obvious ‘i’ and ‘e’ difference between both words, ‘compliment’ means to express praise or admiration for someone or an expression of praise while ‘complement’ means to enhance or complete something else. Pretty easy! Let’s see some examples. 

COMPLEMENT

Black complements white in this painting.

It is often said that the woman complements the man in most marriages.

COMPLIMENT

She falls in love with every guy that compliments her beauty.

Most women do not know how to compliment their husband’s strengths.

Now you know the difference. See you next time for another exciting grammar experience.

 

 

PickOfTheWeek – Hope when it seems impossible

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How do you feel when you have literally given up on something happening and in the midst of that dark cloud, a silver lining shows up?

How do you feel? Probably pure joy. 

That’s one of the feelings a writer described on today’s PickOfTheWeek . We hope you love this week’s articles. 

The first is by rockcalvary and we love this post because it captures the realities of our heart when people we term as important don’t see us the same way. Has this ever happened to you? 

farmto tableLove makes people say stuff though. When we saw this post we didn’t know what to make of it but then we understand that the promise of forever means a lot to people. What have you said or done in the name of love? 

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The next post is for those who usually wait for inspiration to do work that has to be done. It is easy to wait to feel like doing work but it is not ideal. We honestly have nothing else to add. Thank you Oluwadara for this. farmto table (2) The last piece for today struck a chord and if you read our introductory post, you’d understand what we mean. Sometimes all we need is a little light at the end of the tunnel. farmto table (1)

5 tips to help you coin the best title for your book

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How many of you reading this post right now were not drawn to it by the title? You probably clicked the link to this post because the headline triggered your interest. The same situation could be obtainable in a bookshop or library. The first thing that catches your attention in such a place could either be the title of the book or the design of the book cover.

Titles are not to be chosen haphazardly. Titles are like the sun around which the entire writing revolves round and if it is done wrong, your book will suffer for it. We have some tips to help in guiding you towards the choice of a title. They are as follows:

Avoid one-word titles

This is relevant because one word titles would make it difficult to distinguish between your book and other online articles with the same word in them. For example, if your choice for a title is “Thrones” and somebody wants to search for your book on the web, it would be almost impossible for your book to come up on the first page because there are so many articles on the web containing “thrones” in them.

Give your readers a hint.

This simply means that your titles should be crafted in such a way that it gives a hint of what the book is about and creates suspense in the mind of the potential reader at the same time.

Avoid duplicates.

This involves surfing the web to know if your intended title has already been used before. If you do not do this, you might find yourself as the author of a book with the same title as some other renowned author. The implication of finding yourself in that spot is that your work as an author would, most likely, be perceived as lacking originality.

Capture your niche.

This simply means that your title should encapsulate the genre in which your book belongs. Do not title a fiction book like it is a science fiction book or a memoir. Make sure the title gives your potential readers a clue as to what they should expect from the book.

Make it simple and easy to remember.

You definitely do not want to give your book a title that people would struggle to remember. Make sure that your title is simple and can roll off the tongue easily.

We really do hope these tips helped you!

How to create custom WordPress designs without prior coding knowledge

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Hi there blogger!

We saw this superamazing post on  Wpbeginner and we know that it is going to be a great resource for bloggers who use WordPress sites. We may even try it on our WordPress site but note that Wpbeginner already tried the plugins.  Enjoy!

Do you want to customize your website? Or even create a completely custom design without writing any code? No need to pinch yourself, you’re not dreaming. It’s definitely possible!

There are two really useful WordPress plugins that makes it easy for beginners to customize their WordPress sites.

Beaver Builder

Funny name, I know. When these guys first contacted me to try their plugin, I didn’t take it very seriously. But then, I tried their free demo, and I was blown away – because I literally built a responsive, mobile-friendly, custom WordPress website in 20 minutes without touching a single line of code.

If you are struggling with customizing your website, then you need Beaver Builder.

See full tutorial on how to create custom layouts with Beaver Builder.

CSS Hero

CSS Hero allows you to easily customize your existing theme with a simple point-and-click interface. If you want to customize your existing site design rather than creating something from scratch, then check out CSS Hero.

See full video tutorial on how CSS Hero makes customization easy.

When you try out these plugins, do let us know. 

“Don’t be limited by painful experiences. There is treasure to be found in darkness.” Amaka Chika-Mbonu

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We had our first Insagram live chat with Amaka Chika Mbonu on Tuesday and if you missed it, we can tell you for free that you missed a lot. Aside from the fact that we thoroughly enjoyed the conversation with Amaka, those who joined the live chat had the opportunity to ask her loads of questions which she responded to in detail. 

For those who missed the chat, and even for those who caught it, we decided to do a recap and also highlight the salient lessons learnt from that interview. 

What the chat was about? 

If you remember we featured Amaka Chika-Mbonu on our #WriterSpotlight series last year, when she released her book, ‘How To Get Your Wife To Swing From The Chandelier In A Red Negligée’. Amaka recently celebrated the first year anniversary of her book and we wanted her to share her journey with us.

During the chat, she mentioned that it took her 18 months to write the book. Can you believe that?

Here are highlights from the lessons we learnt from our live interview with Amaka Chika-Mbonu;

On relationships.

  • Follow your heart and take your brain with you.
  • If he doesn’t have integrity, core values and skills that align with you, then it won’t work.
  • Take the bull by the horn, and don’t be hindered by the culture of silence that tries to shame a woman.
  • Look well before you leap.
  • When two entities (people) come together, there must be rules of engagement.

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On writing.

  • Go for your dreams, get yourself together and go for it.
  • Keep on doing what you’re doing and keep going not matter how challenging the journey may be. 
  • Use social media – Social media is a friend to someone with a low budget. Also find a team who can help you in marketing, so you can make money off your intellectual property.
  • Be passionate about what you do. Passion counts better than expertise.

On life in general.

  • You have to be convinced in your heart about things you do.
  • You should get to the stage where you can just go for it.
  • There is a purpose behind every pain and there is treasure to be found in darkness.

We hope you enjoyed this. Don’t miss the next chat and if you have not registered for our writing class, what are you waiting for? We have just a few slots left. So register as soon as possible!