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

Blessing Okoro

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.

 

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#WriterSpotlight – “I hope and pray for a moment where individuals will see me and say Ifeoma, your book changed my life.” Ifeoma Ugboma

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Hey Sparkle Writers! Are your ready to be inspired by another writer? Our guest on today’s Writer Spotlight published her first book after being inspired by a story she wrote when she was eleven years old!  Enjoy our interview with Ifeoma Ugboma.

Hello Ifeoma, please introduce yourself

Hello, I am Ifeoma Irene Ugboma, a beautiful (smirks) young woman from Bende L.G.A of Abia state. I am a Christian but of course I am open to any other religion around the globe. Ifeoma is a young writer, a student studying Radiography and Environmental Science & Resource Management at University of Uyo and National Open University respectively, certified health and safety supervisor, oil and gas document controller and first aid administrator although I am not yet practicing in these fields. My aim is to gather up these skills so that I can be eligible for any job in the labour market whenever I am ready.

I am a voracious reader but a reserved and lazy writer (laughs); literally lazy because most times when I want to write, something will just surface and I will postpone it. You know that kind of stuff but nonetheless writing is one of my hobbies. I love tourism and to top it all, Ifeoma loves singing.

You are a writer, girl child advocate, educator and peace advocate. How do you combine all these roles effortlessly?

Yes I am and I think I am doing well by God’s grace. I always tell friends and family members that there is no greater force that can drive one towards the path of success and accomplishment except passion.

I am passionate about the wellbeing of the girl child, writing, and peace advocacy and it’s something I see myself doing effortlessly because I love it and when you love something, doing it wouldn’t be a problem at all. I try to adjust my academic schedules so that my extra curricular activities can fit in and I thank God who has been giving me the strength and the support I need.

What do you love most about writing?

Writing makes me a psychologist and a creator. It is quite awesome for someone to create. So writing gives me the platform to be a psychologist and a creator. And the part I love most is how the characters you create in abstract exist in reality. This is the part where you read reviews from readers telling you, “This is/was my life story ” and sometimes, your readers merge their lives with that of your character and they live your book.

I love that writing gives you the ability to change something or someone with the writer’s abstract ideas

You published a book, ‘Echoes of Mercy.’ What inspired this story?

Echoes of Mercy is a story I wrote when I was 11 years old, being a lover of books and someone who loves to scribble stuff from a young age. There was this woman I knew back then, she came to the children department of Christ Ascension Church and cried to our head teacher to let the children pray for her because her marriage was at the verge of being destroyed. Our Sunday school teacher took some of us, the prayer warriors then to her house to pray for her. Even though I couldn’t understand every detail of her story, I knew that the husband wanted to leave her because she was too ‘churchy’. Her story struck my imagination. I wrote down moments with her in my diary then I grew with it. Even though I didn’t know what later happened in her life, that particular incident and my desire to let people out there know that God can still do wonders if you stick to Him was what inspired me and I tried to imagine how it all began in the life of that woman, the kind of man she was married to and how to deal with the husband if I was God and that was Echoes of Mercy.

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How long did it take to finish writing, editing and publishing and what setbacks did you encounter while working on your book?

Eleven years old back then and now I am 22, so you can imagine. I decided to make that story into a book last year September. I wake up every morning to write down ideas and the best way to develop the story and when I was done, my publisher recommended an editor who did a great job and the book was out on December 30th 2017. So, it took me four months to develop the story and get it out there for people to read. Setbacks?  Of course I had setbacks, from writing and trying to meet up with the deadline I had set for myself. There were times I had blocks. I ran out of words, the right words to express the emotions I needed the readers to feel. Then editing, I had to pay for that and he charged professionally regardless of the fact that this Ifeoma is a student. Then time was another setback. I wanted Echoes of Mercy to be out before December but fate is always a double edged sword. I thank God who made it a success

What three lessons did you learn about publishing in Nigeria while working on this project?

Honestly, I am super impressed. My publisher and the entire Words Rhymes and Rhythm team were awesome.

First is professionalism. He didn’t do any hasty work. He gave his professional advice on the cover page, on the about page and the rest. This will make every of their published work top-notch and that is absolutely fantastic. 

Then transparency, they are transparent enough to make sure you get the value of whatever amount you are investing in your publishing work.

Lastly, they are united. They are in the quest to help young and aspiring writers to achieve their goals. That is to say they have been motivating people like us and that is fabulous

Echoes of Mercy is free on the OkadaBooks platform, why is it so?

It is free on Okada books because I wanted it to be in every heart. And with the testimonies lately, I think I have achieved that and I am hoping to get the message across to as many people as possible.

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Who is your all-time favourite writer in Africa and why?

I love Chimamanda Adichie. That woman is an icon. I love her writing and lifestyle. I mean it is absolutely beautiful for one to remain true to her roots no matter the heights attained.

Since you have other roles, how do you fit writing into your schedule?

It is not always easy, especially when one has to manage two courses and other activities but writing is what I find myself doing even during lectures. I plan my days. When I know I am going to have a busy day, I write in the morning but other days with less activities, I write anytime of the day

Where can readers get a copy of your book?

It is available on Amazon and OkadaBooks. We are still working on getting the paperback available in book stores nationwide.

What’s your ultimate goal as a writer

My goal is to be able to solve real life problems with written words. I hope and pray for a moment where individuals out there see me and say “Ifeoma, your book changed my life,” “Ifeoma, your book made me who I am today” and so many other heart warming compliments. That will make me fulfilled as a writer

 

 

 

#WriterSpotlight – When it comes to writing, Eketi Ette is on a roll!

Hey Sparkle Writers, you are not ready for the amazingness our interview with Eketi Edima Etti contains! Our first #WriterSpotlight for the year is loaded with wisdom and wit. If you have multiple passions you certainly would learn a thing or two from Eketi. 

Enjoy her interview with us.

Hello, Eketi. Kindly tell us about yourself.  Where do I begin?

I am your average girl next door. The first child of the family, Christian, vivacious, lover of life and people. I am a multi-passionate person. I have several passions and I’ve tried my hands at acquiring the skills to go with them. So, I’m a lawyer, author, editor, content creator, farmer, entrepreneur, MC, actor and social media manager. It’s a lot, I know.

How long have you been writing?

Since I was four years old. Blame my mother. She started me on the path by making me write letters to her and my father at least once a week. However, I didn’t take my writing seriously until 2011. That’s when I decided what I did was worth giving more time and attention to.

How has it paid off for you?

It has, in ways I never imagined when I started out. The most important part of it all has been the journey of self-discovery it’s taken me on.

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You are well known for your funny and highly engaging stories on Twitter, what’s your source of inspiration?

Life and people. The one recurrent comment I hear when people read my stories is that they can relate to them. Our world is filled with very interesting people and their lives are interwoven tapestries of compelling stories.

What genre of writing do you focus on and why?

Fiction is my major genre. My head is an interesting place and my imagination constantly demands that I give it a chance to express itself in words.

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Your book ‘Chinda Ella’s is making waves online. Tell us about it.

It’s a humorous Nigerian parody of the popular fairytale, Cinderella.

What inspired you to write the book?

I love fairytales and folklore. So, one day, I was watching the latest Cinderella movie. When I got to the scene where she fled the palace leaving her shoe behind, I was struck by something I’d never noticed before.

According to her Fairy Godmother, everything was supposed to change back to what they were before, at midnight. But the shoes didn’t change. Why?

I was like, “Lai lai! Dis tin na scam!” And then it hit me—why don’t you write a Nigerian parody of this story, using this scene as the cornerstone? Make it as outrageous as possible.

And so, Chinda Ella was born.

 

Last year, you were named one of 100 most influential Nigerian writers under 40, how did you get to that point?

Honest answer? I don’t know. I didn’t set out to be influential and I wasn’t expecting the nomination either. I guess, when you’ve been at something for long enough, people notice. It does feel good though, being noticed.

What do you love most about being a writer?

The fact that I utterly enjoy doing it. Every time I write, I do so for the love of words and the ease with which they come to me.

What’s your advice to an upcoming writer?

First, write. You get better at your craft when you keep practicing. It is in doing this that you find your unique writing voice and style. Secondly, don’t write for praise, especially the kind on social media. Write first for you, with your audience being the secondary consideration.

Lastly, don’t you dare compare yourself to another writer. Do you.

 

 

#WriterSpotlight – For Adebisi Olaniyi as long as there’s life, the ink will always flow

 

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It’s the last Thursday before we close for the year and we have an amazing writer, Adebisi Olaniyi to end this segment of #WriterSpotlight with us. She’s got a heart of gold and it shows through her words. Her desire to use her words to heal hearts is commendable and you’d learn from her. Enjoy her interview with us.

Hello Adebisi. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

I am Adebisi Olaniyi. A Christian, a wife, a mother and a teacher.

How did your journey as a writer begin?

I have always loved to write, in my secondary school days, I wrote articles, poems, songs, and stories. I was always one of those who wrote the good essays. I knew there just had to be something with me, talking and writing. I made a consistent effort to develop my desire to write. I was a member of the literary and debating society, drama club and I readily made myself available for every opportunity to speak and prepare an article. I actually have a novel unpublished, I wrote that book before I got into the university and the title plays in my head all the time “The Recorder’’ I just might bring it to life. I like to put my thoughts in writing, where my mouth fails me sometimes, my pen never does. There’s no story as to how I started writing but for as long as I can remember I have always loved writing, It is a gift that has been expressed at every stage of my life.

What do you love most about writing?

I love the fact that writing helps me realise myself and also helps others realise a part of themselves. It is healing for me and healing for the reader, I like the fact that writing is selfless, more than anything I seek the joy, satisfaction and change of someone I may never meet. Every time I put a pen on paper, it is so that a life may be excited, hopeful and changed with the knowledge of those words.

In what ways has your writing grown since you stated writing?

It has a better structure, I know my audience, I have my message. Recently as a way of living love I started a poem series that has people’s names as titles. That has been widely received, many people have asked for their poems as well and that is refreshing. I recently made a poetry delivery at a send forth and people felt the emotions in the words, some were in tears and daily I am relating well with the power of words. Soon I just might take those deliveries to weddings. I see how people are moved by my words and how I have learnt overtime to organise my thoughts for every audience.

Where do you get inspiration from when you want to write a story?

My inspiration comes from God and His creation, most things I write about are usually in line with His word, lives and lessons I’ve learnt over time.

There are people who believe that writing can never be financially rewarding. What are your thoughts about this?

The most noble and life changing visions are never truly measured by money but the heart. It is true that you may not get ‘gbem’ money from writing but there are people who have made a honest and comfortable living from writing. Write because you like to write. Write because you have things to share, write because there’s a void to feel. You see the heart of riches that comes with writing far exceeds any financial compensation at least for my kind of writing. The lives that find company, The hearts that are renewed, The legs that get to work simply by reading your words. No writer should choose that over money. It may not be as financially rewarding as we would hope but its price is far above money.

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You authored your first book ‘Pointless’. What inspired that daring title?

Pointless was a word divinely received. It was after the book had being written that the title formed its essence. God was simply saying at the point of purpose, at the point where love should be expressed, if we are living less than the intentions of the creator, then that would be POINTLESS.

What major lessons have you learnt since you published the book?

That there’s a meeting place for all humans and it is in the heart of love. We are all equal with different abilities, we need each other and more than anything we need to love beyond what we see. Love is big and deep. Writing has helped me to understand what God truly intends for us and I am trying to live that in the gift of everyday.

What do you want your book to achieve?

If I could make it happen, the book would be free but I can’t afford that right now. But I have given a good number as gifts to people. I hope that the world will see and receive the message in the book because if we all receive the message as purely as God intended, we would be better people and the world will be beautiful again.

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What is your ultimate dream as a writer?

For hearts to be happy, merry and changed through the words I write. That through the words I have written many years from now, people will know my cause and interest even when they may never meet me and live believing that there’s love in their heart bigger than the pain in the world. You know nothing brings joy than a book or write up that fulfills its breathed purpose in the lives of others.

 

Do you think you will ever retire from writing?

No I won’t, God helping me. As long as there is life, The ink never stops flowing.

Aside from writing, what are your other hobbies?

Teaching, Cooking, Dancing, Acting, Composing, Speaking, and most recently designing.

Any advice for other writers who have stalled in publishing their books?

Writing is a call to heal and share. What do you have that is worth sharing? What purpose do you seek to serve? Entertainment, motivational. Whatever it is find your art and stay consistent. Your motivation should be in those you seek to share with. Writing is personal and until you find your own reason, you may not get around it, many have lost the sense of their reason and are frustrated and lost in their own art. Once you know why, you just keep going and don’t stop for the sake of those who always need your reminder. So whatever you have in your hands now, please put it out there, someone needs to read it. No better time than now when the world needs the comfort and company of inspired words.

 

To reach Adebisi or buy her books visit her instagram page, @prime_pen or blog.

 

 

#WriterSpotlight – “Everyone has a story. Don’t be afraid to share yours.” Affiong Ene-Obong

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There’s something powerful about a writer who has a WHY! We love Affiong Ene-Obong because she knows why she writes and the reason is powerful. Find out in today’s #WriterSpotlight.

Hello Affiong, please introduce yourself

I’m Affiong Ene-Obong, a lawyer, author, poet and content creator. I’m a young lady who earnestly desires to inspire, impact and transform lives with my talents, spreading light and love across the world. I’m a member of The Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Rivers State Chapter, Poets In Nigeria (PIN) and member of The Sea View Poetry Club, Port Harcourt. I’m an advocate for young people living with disabilities. My first book, ‘A Life Called Forever’ is a collection of inspirational poems beautifully written to inspire, impact and transform lives; spurring others to live their best lives amidst life struggles, obstacles and detours. My second book; a debut novel encourages women and kids with special needs to live their best lives giving them love, wings and showing them their roots.

When did you discover that you had a passion for writing and why did you decide to follow this passion?

I discovered I had a passion for writing as a child. I had beautifully written essays and I was commended for my effort so I decided to hone my craft.

You authored the book ‘A Life Called Forever.’ What inspired this book?

My book, ‘A Life Called Forever’ was inspired by my earnest desire to fulfill God’s purpose for my life. I told Him to write His stories on my heart so I could share with the world.  The poems were composed to spread His light and love across through the words He gave me.

I write for those who see light in words and hope in my self- expression. In my opinion, writing is an act of faith and not a trick on grammar. Everyone has a story. The art of writing gives anyone the ability to express oneself freely, sharing stories with anyone, anywhere and that’s what I love.

What challenges did you think you were not prepared for in the process of putting this book together?

The challenges were minimal but with perseverance, I pulled through. I was determined to share stories with the world.

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What do you love most about writing?

I have been able to share my stories with the world and lives have been transformed to the glory of God. Writing has become not just a passion, but a medium of communication. Writing has grown in leaps and bounds over the years because I haven’t stopped learning and improving.

What is your ultimate dream as a writer?

My dream as a writer is to inspire impact and transform lives with words and ultimately make the world a better place.

Do you think you will ever retire from writing?

Writing is a passion, it’s a gift. I live to write; I write to live.

Aside from witing, what are your other hobbies?

Aside from writing, I like researching, editing, singing, studying and I’m an art enthusiast.

What do you love about The Sparkle Writers Hub?

The Sparkle Writers Hub is a platform for writers to hone their craft, connect with others, learn and grow. Sparkle Writers Hub coaches, trains and motivates and encourages writers to believe in the talents they possess.

What advice do you have for people who know that they have a message to share but fear keeps holding them back?

Everyone has a story. Don’t be afraid to share your stories. The world wants to hear your voice and your words could be louder than your voice. 

 

 

#WriterSpotlight – “The depth of poetry isn’t necessarily in big words but in the mastery of stringing words together to make art.” Femi Peters

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Hello Femi Peters, please introduce yourself

I’m a man of many parts but a single core, Jesus. I’m a writer, blogger, author, and an entrepreneur. I value relationships. I am married and a serial father.

When and why did you start writing?

I started writing way back in secondary school. I remember helping classmates and friends draft love letters to their crushes and girlfriends. Then I wrote a couple of short stories in the university. I took a shine to it when I started blogging in 2007. I write because I believe a have a message to communicate.

Permit us if we are wrong but you recently entered the writing scene with the introduction of your book ‘Notes to My God’. How has the reaction been?

The reactions started with my first blog that has the same name as my debut book. It pointed that I was solving problems, that my poems were needed. The reactions from the book has been astounding, humbling and has spurred me to write more.

We hear it took 10 years to put this book together. Why did it take you so long?

Well most of the poems came between 2006-2009 but other factors came into play. I had to overcome self doubt and other people’s opinions. I had to journey from getting a publisher to self publish amongst other factors.

We know you are a blogger, when did you start blogging and what’s the biggest lesson blogging has taught you?

I started blogging in 2007. I learnt a lot of lessons, the biggest of them is that I am a solution to someone’s need. Consistent writing betters your gift. Blogging opens you up to a wider audience for a myriad of purposes of which critiquing is one.

Poetry can be therapeutic. Has it been that to you?

Poetry is beautiful in many ways. It is therapeutic for me in the sense that birthing a poem sometimes stems from a prevailing thought and I could start as a quest and end with result.

What’s your take on writing poetry that is becoming relatable as opposed to what poetry used to be? Words many people couldn’t understand because it was too ‘deep’

There are different types of poetry, different kinds of expression. The depth of poetry isn’t necessarily in big words but in the mastery of stringing words together to make art, art that convey a message.

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What do you think in your own words make a good poem?

For me what makes a good poem is one that is fluid, rhythmic, memorable and stoking.

What has putting together Notes to My God book taught you?

It has taught me go after my dreams, that my gift was given to be shared and that God is waiting at the point of our use.

Are there plans to release another book soon?

Yes, I’m working on a couple of books actually and one of them should be ready for early 2018

What challenges did you think you were not prepared for in the process of putting this book together?

For one I was hoping I would remain behind the scene and churn out the work but I find that I have to be out there speaking for the book as we are Siamese twins of some sort.

Where can readers get your book?

It’s available at Glendora, Ikeja City Mall, Patabah bookstores, Adeniran Ogunsanya Shopping Mall,  Jumia.com.ng and the Kindle edition is available on Amazon.com

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

It’s never too late to put it out there, stop procrastinating. The world needs to hear your voice. Your book is the solution someone is waiting for.

 

#WriterSpotlight – “Your craft is your strongest voice in the midst of unending unrest.” Todimu Ikuyinminu

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Sparkle Writers, are you ready for today’s #WriterSpotlight? Our guest, Todimu Ikuyinminu. is a writer, poet, thespian and … a wack poet! Yeah, we asked him why he calls himself that. Find out why as you enjoy his interview with us. 

Hello please introduce yourself.

I am ‘Todimu George Ikuyinminu which is clipped as T. G. ‘Yinminu, a postgraduate degree holder of English from the English Department of the prestigious University of Ilorin. I am a professional creative, content developer and thespian who has led at different capacities and performed brilliantly well. However, I remain trainable and always open to knowledge acquisition.

Your IG handle is ‘The Wack Poet’ what inspired the title?

About theWACKpoet, erm… each time I am asked to explain why I chose this moniker, of all the more pleasant ones I could have adopted, I laugh at myself. The reason is because, in all honesty, I did not spend time to consider the choice of it. Now, don’t get me wrong, I actually thought about it but I am saying I did not realise that one day someone will ask me the rationale behind it. Well, there are two reasons for the choice of this moniker.

The first is the literal meaning of it, “the wack poet”. I have always been a shy fellow and it took a lot of time, and comments from readers, for me to be confident about my craft. Hence, I surmised that if I accept my own weakness(es) before the public spells them out to me, it will be easy for me to distance myself from the negative vibes that may come. However, ever since I summoned courage to exhibit my content, I have not received “bad feedback”. On the other axis, theWACKpoet is an acronym. It is a simple sentence, so to speak, it is simply saying: The Witty, Astute, Calm and Knowledgeable Poet. On a general note, I feel all creative writers must possess at  least one of the qualities coded in the meaning of “theWACKpoet”. A few people get this even without knowing what theWACKpoet means.

You are a creative writer, poet, public speaker, dramatist, artistic director, how do you combine all these?

First off, let me align myself with these words of the renowned poet of blessed memory, Maya Angelou who said, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

I hope you will agree with me that all these ‘shades’ of my ventures listed above revolve round the humanities; which is my educational background. They all revolve around entertainment and creative output, therefore to me, if I am writing (a speech, a lecture, a poem, a play, a dialogue) for instance, I am also indirectly preparing content for the stage; the audience; the readers; the viewers; the participants, as the case may be. For me it is always like “using one stone to kill five birds”.

However, I am able to combine all these because I feel that man is best at whatever he is talented/skilled at and loves to do. It is like being a roadside mechanic in Nigeria. A roadside mechanic in Nigeria can repair a Renault car this minute and work on a Mercedes Benz car the next minute. I hope the analogy is clear. So, in short, every venture I am engaged in indirectly helps become better at the other ventures. For instance, acting on stage gives me more confidence to face the crowd when I’m speaking at an event. Being a creative writer gives me more insight into creative/artistic directing thus as I imagine and block scenarios, I represent them to the best of my knowledge on stage and with the actors.

tg yinminu in action

In your bio we see that you have a bias for poetry, why is this so?

At a point in my growth, I never thought I was capable of writing poetry. My creative impulse started when I was in Junior Secondary School, and at that time I used to write short plays in a 60-leaves exercise book. I would give the books to a few of my classmates, mostly females, they would read and then recommend it to their friends. Then, I came about one of my neighbour’s poem, Dr. Gbenga Owojori (Ph.D a scientist) when I was in SS3. I took the poem and “edited” it. I enjoyed “editing” the poem so I decide to write one myself. It was an exciting experience. And that was how I started writing poems in exercise books hidden under my clothes in my wardrobe.

I recently got to know that writing poetry is hereditary for me because my late paternal grandmother used to write poems, and I also have a younger brother who has also been captured by the loving, soothing, and peacefully troublesome embrace of poetry.

The bias for poetry is inexplicable really, poetry is something I can do even under pressure. It is an attraction that is as easy as breathing in and out for me.

Your poetry house Aranbada hosts a poetry festival, please tell us more about it.

Let me say something brief about Aranbada Poetry House (APH) before I talk on Aranbada Poetry Festival as it will shed light on the question asked. Aranbada Poetry House is founded solely based on the need to create a platform that encourage creative arts, and creative writing, in the new generation of African (Nigerian) writers/artistes. The youth of today face many silent problems, these border on the scarcity of genuine art materials that will inspire and guide their creative ability. Aranbada Poetry House, seeks to ignite the passion for art and creativity in this generation of youths who are lured by the fantasies of the modern world to the detriment of the arts, creativity and its tendencies.

Aranbada Poetry Festival is just one of the platforms APH is offering, others include Aranbada Poetry Series (Poetry Anthology), Aranbada Poetry Magazine (poetry events, poets features), Aranbada Poetry Tutors’ Campaign, and Aranbada Poetry 1/2Hour set to kick off soon. Aranbada Poetry Festival (APFest) is a biennial art event. APFest is open to all artists, and the only criteria to partake is for the person to be an artist. APFest is more of a breeding platform for artists to interact with one another and meet mentors. Interestingly, the coming edition will, as planned, have great artistes like Professor Femi Osofisan, Professor Olu Obafemi, Professor Tanure Ojaide, Olulu and other established artists in attendance.

With the right funding, the vision of APFest is to be a national art event.

How was the reaction to the first edition?

The first edition was a huge success. It had many emerging artists in attendance and an audience strength of about 160. The first edition was held in honour of Professsor Olu Obafemi, my mentor and the President of the Nigerian Academy of Letters, thus it received widespread acceptance from scholars in the academia so much that some lecturers in the host university partook as performers at the event.

You are quite outspoken on social media how has this helped improve your writing skill?

Social media, a place where anybody can be somebody. Unfortunately, I am not really as outspoken on social media as I am in person. However, one cannot underestimate the power of the social media in the 21st century clime, my presence on social media has affected my writing immensely. As a budding writer, there was a time I could not summarise my thoughts, I would write poems and I won’t stop until I literally left no room to probe the creative interpretation of the reader but when I got exposed to the social media, I had to start compacting my writing hence I got better at the use of stylistic poetic devices.

Social media also affords one the opportunity of freely accessing the works of other writers. For instance, recently, I decided to study the works of @desolape on Instagram and soon enough I composed a poem in the same fascination she has, but not in the same style she employs though.

Also there is the role of poetry prompts that circulate on social media. This at least challenges one to practice more.

Many believe writing is not financially rewarding what’s your take on this

Without mincing words, writing is not a venture that one should expect much reward from, which is quite discouraging for many emerging writers. When you sit to analyse the rate at which young people dabble into the entertainment industry just because of the fame and perceived fortune that comes with it nowadays, one would want to almost conclude that there will not be young creative writers in the nearest future, and same applies to the sciences. All the impressionable minds are running to the entertainment industry to make watery music which further destroys all sanity and decorum that the typical African society treasures.

As much as I am of the opinion that writing should not be about the financial reward but be a purgative enterprise that seeks to help shape our society better through the codification of reasonable heartfelt expressions and perceptions that will inspire the reader(s), I am not against getting some financial reward for it. It is quite disheartening that the Nigerian system has no established structure to boost the intellectual industry, thus many intellectuals lose focus and are made to diversify. I have come to the conclusion that indeed there are many creative artists in Nigeria that can mentor and raise more for the future but the mentors do not have time to do so because even the mentors are busy chasing their daily bread not to mention the fate of the mentee.

What’s the one thing you wish every creative could hear

Your craft is your strongest voice in the midst of unending unrest. Stand by it, guard it, groom it and most of all, use it. Stay true to it, it will set you free even if the world is not ready for freedom. Mind you, the leaders of today are those who have stayed true to their voice, the future already started the very day you were matured enough to think about your future.

What’s your ultimate dream as a writer?

I am sure every writer’s dream will be to be successful and renowned, yes we all want that, probably win a Laurette, or a prize. However, my ultimate dream as a writer has always been to be a writer that inspires emerging writers. It is like being a pastor who has raised many “spiritual sons”, or a Commandant who has raised many combatants ready to take on the battle field and conquer the world.

The ultimate dream is to sit in the nearest future, look back and count my blessings; the many writers that would have picked the ultimate pen because “if T. G. ‘Yinminu can do it, I can do it too”.

 

 

 

#WriterSpotlight – “With a few words carefully strung together, a broken spirit is uplifted.” Olamide Oti

Shine 100%

She’s a lady of few but powerful words! Olamide Oti speaks from a place of wisdom and this interveiw is a must read. This is #WriterSpotlight. Enjoy!

Hello Olamide. Can you please describe yourself in a few words?

Passionate

When did you discover that you had a passion for writing and why did you decide to follow this passion?

I discovered my passion for writing in 2013, few months after I made a decision to follow Jesus. I would say I was compelled to follow this passion because for the longest time I had always wondered what I was good at doing and once I found it I could not let go.

Can you tell us what you love most about writing?

Words are beautiful and powerful. With a few words carefully strung together, a broken spirit is uplifted.

In what ways have you grown as a writer and poet since you started writing?

I have grown in the way that I express myself, discovering my style and not trying to be like anyone else.

Shine 100% Which author/ poet (dead or alive) would love to spend a day with if given a chance and why?

Jackie Hill Perry. I love her heart and the fact that she’s a complete woman.

When you are struggling to find inspiration, can you share some of the things that you do find that inspiration to write?

I get quiet before God, I remind myself that the words come from my Father’s heart, I watch spoken word videos and I read as well.

What will you say has been your biggest achievement as a writer so far?

I would say it’s keeping my eyes on purpose.

Where would you like writing to take you in the future?

To the place where I write about the future of nations. To the gathering of Kings and Queens.

What advice do you have for people who know that they have a message to share but fear keeps holding them back?

Dive into the perfect love of your Father where fear loses its hold on you.

 

#WriterSpotlight – “I love the impact I get to make on so many lives. ” Kikelomo Woleosho

kikelomo-woleosho-6.jpgIf you know Kikelomo Woleosho from social media the way we do, then you must know two things about her- she’s a simple and beautiful woman. But that’s not all about her. She’s the Founder of the brand that takes the most breathtaking pictures of babies, Red 19. Today she talks to us about her book, “Kikelomo” and why she wrote so freely and opened herself up to readers. Enjoy. 

Hello Kikelomo, please introduce yourself.

Kikelomo is a passionate photographer who specilises in Children, Maternity and Family photography and currently runs RED19photography.

She has taught photography to over 300 adults and teenagers. She is a graduate of Chemistry Education from Lagos State University and a recipient of the World Bank scholarship for women in business.

She strongly advocates for the protection of children. She recently released her experience with sexual abuse in her free book KIKELOMO to educate people. She is the convener of Sexducate, a sexual education event.

You shared a very sensitive matter in your book, Kikelomo, what inspired you to do this?

KIKELOMO is a memoir of my experience with child sexual abuse and the struggles that followed suit. I realised that abuse usually does not stay in the past. It has a way of crawling in the future of the victim and if not properly dealt with, can destroy them.

I knew that sharing my own story will further open the eyes of parents to the effects of sexual abuse on the children so they can put more effort in protecting their children. It will help abused persons understand the effects abuse is presently having on them and the steps they can take to ensure they have the victory.

What was the writing process like for you and was there a point when you said ‘Oh No! I really can’t do this anymore’ and closed the manuscript?

The writing process was smooth initially. I was surprised about the amount of information I remembered. Then I started having relapse into masturbation and I couldn’t control my thoughts as they were running too wild. From seeking therapy, I found out that the writing was triggering old wounds and awakening me sexually. I put a stop to the writing for a while. I was not sure I would go back to it sooner than I did because I didn’t want to go back to the issues I had overcome.

Some months after I stopped, the Holy Spirit instructed me to go back to the book. He said children are being abused daily and I should not hold back from writing.

It was then I knew that the book was not my idea but GOD’s idea and I needed to see it to the end even if it means I will relapse till I finish. Interestingly, I was able to manage my body better during the completion of the book.

 

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What has the reaction been like since you released the book?

I have been getting great feedback. Testimonies from abused persons. It just suddenly seemed like everyone had been abused as a child. Parents say they now understand the need to protect their children better.

One of the first things we loved about the book was the cover design. There’s something pure about it, why did you decide to use your face for the book cover?

The cover design was shown to me by the Spirit of God. I asked Him to show me what He had in mind since the book was His idea and He did. I worked with the designer through the design prayerfully and with description till he was able to produce what I was shown. I also asked my online community what they thought about different designs similar to the final cover and they made suggestions. As soon as I posted the last cover, everyone went for it.

The cover is DIVINE. What advice would you give to writers who are having issues deciding what kind of design to go with for their book cover?

My only advice is to pray. That’s the only place I get inspiration from.

There is a common belief that getting a book published is expensive because of the different elements it involves. Is this really the reality?

KIKELOMO is my first book. I paid for different stages when I got there. The stages I could do myself, I did. I am still learning the realities there in publishing.

What advice do you have for a writer who really wants to get published but is low on funds?

Do as many things as you can by yourself. Maximize relationships around you. This is a reason why you must read Dale Carnegie’s “How to win friends and influence people” and Herb Cohen’s “You can negotiate anything.” You can take the option of printing only on demand.

What do you love most about being an author?

The impact I get to make into so many lives.

Your book is free of charge! Something a number of people can’t wrap their head around, why did you make that decision?

The book KIKELOMO is not my book. It is for God. He wrote the script years before I was born and placed me into the story to take the lead role. I know the book is a solution and not a profit making scheme and He confirms it to me daily from the responses I receive every time.

How can readers get a copy of your book?

The book KIKELOMO is free on www.okadabooks.com. Signup on the site. Search for the book. Download, read and kindly send me feedback. 

 

 

 

#WriterSpotlight – “I have a story to tell in a way nobody else can say it.” Oyesiji Oyedolapo

 

md4We have a musician and writer in the Hub today! Who’s excited? Oyesiji Oyedolapo is a bundle of skills. As a musician and writer, he is setting loose his creativity in the most simple ways.  

Hello Oyedolapo, please introduce yourself

I am Oyesiji Oyedolapo, a native of Oyo State and a graduate of Sociology and Anthropology, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, State of Osun. I just finished my postgraduate program from the same institution and department, specialized in Criminology. I write inspirational articles, poems and songs. I’m passionate about what I do. I love God and His people. I’m a fan of creative albeit simple write-up and I see writing as a gift God blessed me with.

How did you discover your love for writing?

I have always kept a diary since I was little but I wasn’t bold enough to share it with people. I’m the reserved type so I try to capture my thoughts and pen down my imaginations even the awkward ones. I use my mind a lot. Smiles.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I get my inspiration from God and everything around me.

We know that apart from writing you are a singer. Do music and writing have anything in common?

Yes, I believe they do. Music entails giving rhythms to words. So I believe a lot of deep and creative efforts must be geared towards the two. A good musician should strive to be a good writer, that way it will help in letting the story out the same way it was conceived.

Did you face any challenges in your journey and how were you able to overcome them?

I had fears at first and it almost crippled my writing. It took me a while to come to terms with the fact that I write well; that was the beginning of my freedom.

What do you love most about what you do?

The ability to bring people into my world, that’s amazing. I call it walking people through the architecture of my mind.

As a creative person, what are some of your frustrations with the way art is viewed in Nigeria?

The good thing is the awareness for art is getting stronger and I believe in years to come it would have gotten much better. So, let’s stay with the positives for now. 

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Creative people are more often than not taken for granted because people do not understand the amount of time and effort they put in their work. What do you think can be done to change this?

Lol. Yes, you are right, especially those whose write-ups seem simple. With time people will come to appreciate it. The writer must keep on writing and setting loose the creativity.

What is the most important lesson writing has taught you?

That I have a story to tell in a way nobody else can say it.

What advice do you have for people who know that they have a message to share but fear keeps holding them back?

Break out of the fear. The world needs to hear that story locked up in your imaginations. It is beautiful and you are beautiful.