#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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#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.

 

 

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!

#WritingQuote – “Write like it matters and it will.” Libba Bray

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”Write like it matters and it will ” – Libba Bray, Author of Going Bovine

Do you know that readers can sense pretense, lack of depth and laziness from your work? When you write like you don’t care or you do a lazy work, it shows and gives you a bad reputation.

Our question for you today is this, “How do you write?” This is a question that you need to reflect on. It is very important because the way you write matters a lot. If you write with the mentality that your writing does not possess the capacity to transform minds, then your writing would not go so far. Why? It would reflect. Something about that work would be off. 

You have to write like your writing matters. You have to write like you have an important message to pass across (which you really do by the way). Put some work into your research, get your facts right, don’t do a careless job because you never know where your work could get to.

You have to write like you know your writing is going to do amazing things to the minds of the people who would eventually read it. In summary, write like it matters and it will.

Interesting facts about Blogger you never knew!

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Most bloggers are either hosting their blogs on WordPress or Blogger. How much do you know about these sites?  Today’s post is dedicated to interesting facts about blogger.com. It’s always good to know what you can or cannot do on these platforms. Do you agree? Here we go.

Do you know that blogger.com cannot create unlimited blogs using a single account.? You can only create a 100 different blogs. Crossing this limit would mean that Google will restrict your access and can delete your blogger account as well. We don’t think anyone would really want to create 100 blogs though. 

You can publish 50 posts per day. However, after crossing the 50 mark post per day you would have to enter captcha which is a verification process of Google used to check if it is a human being doing the post or a machine. Even Google doesn’t trust you to be that efficient! 

Google never deletes your post. You can create as many posts as you want.

Your blog can contain an unlimited amount of comments.

Using custom domains like .com, .org, gives room for flexibility. It also enables movement of your blog from Blogger to WordPress if Google deletes your blog without any reason.

Google can suspend your account if there is any violation of the terms and conditions of their services. If Google suspends your blog, the chances of recovering the blog are almost non-existent. Be warned! 

Culled from www.geteverything.org

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#PickOfTheWeek – Is there anything like a perfect fit in love?

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We’ve discovered that Tuesday’s are one of the most popular days on the blog probably because that’s when we feature all the amazing writers we meet on social media. We figured that’s your way of saying thank you!👍👍👍

Four incredibly talented writers are on our Pick this week. 

Let’s start with Muhamad Gbolahan’s piece. 

farmto table There are a number of reasons we love this. Maybe its because he points out that we would not always have it easy or because he reminds us that even in those tough circumstances we need to find light at the end of the tunnel. 

The next piece is by WriterZues 

farmto table (3) We say this over and over but once in a while it is good you hear it from another source. Never be afraid to pour your heart out on paper. 

Victory goes on to give insight about love and finding the perfect fit. 

farmto table (2)What do you think about it?

The last piece on our #PickOfTheWeek is by Blessing 

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Hard work really isn’t a crime but even if it is Blessing thinks we should be ready to commit that crime over and over again. Thank you for reminding us of this truth Blessing! 

Want to be featured on our next #PickOfTheWeek series? Simple! Tag us when you post on instagram. 

This is how to write clearly

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Have you ever read books that mentally wore you out? You know, those kinds of books that leave you confused? If you have, then it would not be too difficult to appreciate a good book that takes you, seamlessly, from one part of the story to the other.

What this means is that clear writing is pivotal in making your piece understood by your readers or audience. You definitely do not want someone reading your article or write up and coming out of the reading experience with a headache. Sigh.

We would be giving you tips on how to make your writing better and clearer.

Have a plan 

It is important that you have a plan before writing. A plan includes some sort of guideline to help you in your writing. This is important because a plan helps you to fix in and delete what needs to be in your writing as well as what needs to be deleted from your writing. Whenever you eventually finish writing, make sure you arrange it in such a way that there is a logical flow of thought. Make sure you include everything that needs to be covered within the scope of your writing.

Read through over and over again 

You need to read through your work to make sure there is a flow of thought in your writing as a whole. You need to be detailed enough to include linking words if the need arises. Linking words or transitional words help to link words, phrases, clauses and paragraphs together in a coherent way. Examples of transitional words are; in addition, equally, identically, however, although, then again, after all and so on.

Have someone else read your work

This is crucial because there are things that might not catch your attention even after reading through a couple of times. It might take someone else to point out that flaw or that idea that you unintentionally left out. Be open to ideas and corrections from other people. This would help a great deal in your writing.

We do hope these tips are helpful.

 

“Rejection can be life sustaining if you look at it as fuel for the fire” – Bernice L. McFadden

 

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It’s not every time you get to talk to a writer who has authored nine critically acclaimed books, including SugarThe Warmest DecemberGathering of Waters (one of The New York Times Editors’ Choice Books of 2012), and Glorious, which was featured in O, The Oprah Magazine and was a contender for the NAACP Image Award. This writer, Bernice L. McFadden is a three time Hurston/Wright Legacy Award finalist, as well as the recipient of multiple awards from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA). 

Isn’t that AMAZING? 

If you have ever been rejected as a writer, you need to read this interview. Bernice got seventy five rejection letters for one book!

You see why this interview originally published on Writers Write is a must read? Bernice shares her journey as a writer and there is a lot to learn from it.

Before the Book

My home life was very tumultuous. And I spent a lot of time in the library. That was a safe haven for me…I sought refuge in books and in writing…I knew I wanted to be a writer since I was about nine. I would steal my mother’s Jackie Collins books and mimic them. That was kind of like erotica. My mother would read this and be horrified. 

Enter the Agent

When I was about twenty-five I started submitting on a regular basis. I submitted Sugar for over ten years and got over seventy-five rejection letters….I didn’t give up because this was what I really wanted. I sent my first agent a query letter on February 9, Alice Walker’s birthday. A magical day for me…When I got an agent it took him two weeks to get me a two book deal.

Favorite Book You’ve Written

I love them all differently. If I had to pick I would say Sugar because it was my first. The Warmest December is also a favourite because it was about my family…Tony Morrison wrote a blurb for it, so that was a big thrill.

Describe Your Writing Process

I write and research at the same time…I’ll read things I that I find inspiring… I read a lot of poetry. I like lyrical passages. I spend a lot of time walking because a lot of the writing goes on in my head before I put it on paper. Today I walked so far I didn’t know where the hell I was. It’s a lot of research, a lot of reading and a lot of walking.

Knowing When a Novel is Finished

At the begging of my writing process I feel like I have people coming to visit. Like one or two people. When I am really engrossed in the writing my house is full…All I’m doing is recording what I hear. As I get close to the end my house starts to empty out. It feels melancholy and lonely without the character’s voices.

Hardest Sentence, First or Last

…The first sentence. It’s always tough getting started. Even though I’ve been doing this for eighteen years when I sit down to start a new project I’m a novice again. I’m unsure.

Advice for Writers

People feel that rejection is a horrible thing. Rejection can be life sustaining if you look at it as fuel for the fire. You should think, “I’ll show you.” It’s your dream and you should have it. Your time will come…Learn, acquire the skill. Your time will come. 

#GrammarSeries – The difference between lose and loose

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The words ‘lose’ and ‘loose’ are so commonly confused probably because they are spelled almost the same way and sound almost the same way too. The difference between them goes beyond the presence of the double ‘o’ in the second word as we would soon be seeing.  

It is really simple.

‘Lose’ is a verb used to mean to be unable to find someone or something; to fail to win (a game, contest, etc.); or to fail to keep or hold (something wanted or valued). 

On the other hand, ‘loose’ is an adjective meaning not tightly fastened or attached.

Examples:

The trousers seems so loose around my waist

The leash should be loose around that dog’s neck.

It is painful to lose your wallet at the market square.

It would be tragic if Chelsea loses the game to Real Madrid

I hope I do not lose the money I was given yesterday.