Monday, November 23, 2015

Establish a Successful Career as a Freelance Writer

Hello Writers and Bookaholics and Bloggers. I trust you had a great weekend.

There is good news for freelance writers. I am pleased to introduce to you, The Ultimate Freelance Career Guide. It is an online portal that gives you a list of Tips and Advice, Research materials, Communities and Unions, etc.

Are you a freelance writer or intend to be? Then go to the The Ultimate Freelance Career Guide online. Please leave a comment to tell us if you found this resource useful.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015


The Association of Nigerian Authors has declared Dami Ajayi's classic, Clinical Blues second prize winner of the 2015 prize for poetry.

According to the judge's report, "The long listed entries underwent another round of assessment to arrive at the final result. Based on objective criteria of poetic quality, Four collections of poems finally made the shortlist, for the ‘quarter final’ in the 2015 ANA Poetry Prize competition. The collections are: Servio Gbadamosi's A Tributary in Servitude (Winner),  Dami Ajayi's Clinical Blues/ Nwachukwu Egbunike's Blazing Moon (1st runner up), and Terseer Samuel Bak's Euphoria of Sophistry (2nd runner up).

Clinical Blues was published is in 2014 by WhiteHouse and is available for sale online at AMAZON: And at and at partner bookstores nationwide.

A critical review of the winning collections is available HERE.

Congratulations to the winners. And congratulations to my good friend, Dami Ajayi.


The Association of Nigerian Authors has declared Satans and Shitans part winner of the 2015 prize for prose fiction. Bongel by Maryam Bobi shares first place with Obinna Udenwe's Satans and Shitans.

The winners were drawn from a shortlist of five novels. In the shortlist were Jacqueline U. Agweh's A Pelican of the Wilderness, Maryam Bobi's Bongel, Michael Afenfia Don’t Die on Wednesday, Mnguember V. Sylvester Long Shadows, and Obinna Udenwe'sSatans and Shaitans

According to the judge's report, "Satans & Shaitans is a laudable work of crime fiction, with polished diction, commendable research into Islam and Christianity, and, above all, a bold statement of conscience regarding one of Nigeria’s most puzzling crises of development today."
And of Bongel,
"This is an intriguing story rendered in a technically commendable literary language, leaving no one in doubt that the author manifests a great talent. The theme of women emancipation through education in northern Nigeria common to Zaynab Alkali’s fiction is taken up by Marym Bobi in this novel and given a fresh, stirring pyrotechnic, bringing hope to us that there are emerging voices capable of sustaining the great tradition of Nigerian fiction."
The prize judge E.E. Sule has a published report on the ANA REVIEW WEBSITE. CLICK TO READ.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Great Reads: Recommendations for the Week

The best way for every writer to start a new week is to read. And so I want to recommend new interviews and essays and fiction that will definitely stimulate your creative process. Enjoy.

1) What better way to start the week than with Colum McCann's Letter to The Young Writer. This beautifully instructive letter was published in The Story Prize blog. I just discovered this blog and thoroughly enjoyed reading most of their posts. So you wan to read this letter, CLICK HERE.

2) Running The Room by Pia Z. Ehrhardt. Beautiful and engaging fiction about the daughter trying to cover up for her cheating mother. I loved, loved this story. Pia writes fiction that stays with you for a long, long time. Click to read this story on Zoetroupe.

3) The Ride by Iquo Diana Eke: A non-fiction piece about mourning and loss. Iquo writes beautifully about the mourning process of a mother. I am recommending this not just for the vividness of the prose but for the importance of the story. Read The Ride on Kalahari Review

4) Why do you write? If no one ever asked you this question, you probably asked yourself. Probably in moments of introspection or in moments of doubt. Judy Croome answers this question and more in her open Letter to A Young Nigerian Writer. It's a timeless post and even the comments are helpful too. Click to READ.

5) THE RUMPUS INTERVIEW WITH CHINELO OPARANTA: Here Chinelo Oparanta discusses her writing process and her new novel, Under the Udala Tree. Her first book, a collection of short stories titled Happiness, like water won the 2014 Lambida Literary Award. The Rumpus Interview can be read HERE. For those who don't know her, her short story was shortlisted for the 2013 Caine Prize.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Longlist for the Annual Etisalat Prize for Literature 2015

Have you heard that Etisalat Prize for Literature has finally announced its 2015 longlist? The news went out in Lagos, Nigeria on:the 12th of November, 2015:

The longlist of nine books was drawn from over 100 titles submitted from all over Africa.

The longlist for the 2015 Etisalat Prize for Literature are:
Ifeoluwapo Adeniyi (Nigeria), On the Bank of the River

Penny Busetto (South Africa), The Story of Anna P, as Told by Herself
Z P Dala (South Africa), What About Meera
Kurt Ellis (South Africa), By Any Means
Paula Marais (South Africa), Shadow Self

Fiston Mwanza Mujila (Democratic Republic of Congo), Tram 83
Masande Ntshanga (South Africa), The Reactive
Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria), The Fishermen
Rehana Rossouw (South Africa), What Will People Say?

Aa the press release stated, "The longlist was selected by an esteemed three-member judging panel: Professor Ato Quayson, Professor of English and inaugural Director of the Centre for Diaspora Studies at the University of Toronto (Chair of Judges); Molara Wood, writer, journalist, critic and editor; and Zukiswa Wanner, author of Men of the South and London Cape Town Joburg."

According to the press release, here are the judging panel’s comments:

Professor Ato Quayson: “The range of submissions for the Etisalat Prize this year represents the vitality of literary writing on the continent, and the longlist is a selective showcase of the best to be found.  The subjects covered in the longlist are so fascinating and varied that it would take another novel just to describe them all.  Magnificent!”

Zukiswa Wanner: “The books on the longlist evoked many emotions in me as a judge and as a reader for the originality of their plots and the beauty of the language used.   I know I shall be revisiting and gifting to friends many of them long after the winner has been announced.”

Molara Wood: “The longlisted books push the boundaries in their themes and inventive use of language. This is a rich array of bold new writing on what it means to be human in the world today, by irresistible African voices.”

The judges select a shortlist of three at a retreat in the Seychelles this December. Shortlisted writers will go on a multi-city tour. 1,000 copies of the shortlisted books will be purchased by Etisalat to be distributed to schools, libraries and book clubs across Africa.

The winner will receive £15,000, an engraved Montblanc Meisterstück pen and will attend an Etisalat sponsored fellowship at the University of East Anglia, mentored by Professor Giles Foden, author of The Last King of Scotland.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The 25th International Radio Playwriting Competition 2016

Credit: Picassa Web Album
The long-awaited 25th BBC InternationalRadio Playwriting Competition 2015 opened on October 1, 2015. The competition will close on 31st January, 2016.

Sponsored by the BBC World Service and the British Council, this International Playwriting Competition is also organised in partnership with the Commonwealth Writers and co-produced by The Open University.

This playwriting competition creates several opportunities for budding and professional writers of non-UK residency. And so, if you live outside the UK and think you can write, then see full details and rules for applying HERE.

For tips on how to start writing and how to make your characters come alive, see these tips, notes and videos on writing for radio by CLICKING HERE.

Simple Works Best

Photo Credit: Picassa Web Album
Mastering simple sentences teaches you how to use effect.

Learning to write in simple sentences will help you capture the meaning you want—and not lose the power you want your words to have--and this will help you evolve from that to tackling complex sentences with great skill and efficiency. In your rewrites, as you get better, you will learn to merge several simple sentences into one complex one with amazing results and good flow. If you can punctuate properly, don’t mess up your tenses, and can keep your words simple and your expressions fresh, then, you’re already a master. Not easy to do, I tell you. Some of us agonize over several rewrites before we get there (probably because we didn’t learn the basics first).

After knowing what I now know about writing, I wondered what a Pulitzer Prize novel was like. What was their magic? Do the writers of these books have some kind of genius that I can’t reach? I had a look at Adam Johnson’s Orphan Master’s Son and Donna Tartt’s Gold Finch, two Pulitzer winners. And this is what I saw.

This is an excerpt from The Goldfinch (the very second sentence in the entire book).

“I’d been shut up in my hotel for more than a week, afraid to telephone anybody or go out; and my heart scrambled and floundered at even the most innocent noises: elevator bell, rattle of the minibar cart, even church clocks tolling the hour, de Westertoren, Krijtberg, a dark edge to the clangor, an inwrought fairy-tale sense of doom.”

(The text has been put in quotes to show that I am quoting a line from the book)

This is a very long sentences, a complex one, which needs to be understood in it’s simplest parts. You could even call this a merger of several simple sentences. The writer (Donna Tartt) used a semi colon, a colon and commas to join several simple sentences, punctuating properly. Let’s break down this sentence and look at the component simple sentences to see if anyone has more than 12 words. (I have put the word count in brackets)

I’d been shut up in my hotel for more than a week, (12)
afraid to telephone anybody or go out; (7)

and my heart scrambled and floundered at even the most innocent noises: (12) elevator bell, rattle of the minibar cart, even church clocks tolling the hour, de Westertoren, Krijtberg, a dark edge to the clangor, an inwrought fairy-tale sense of doom.

The longest part is the third part, which has a list that comes after a colon, and so we will count only up to the colon and leave out the list. The number of words in the three simple sentences that make up this complex sentence is 12, 7, and 12.

So Naipal’s rule for beginners is a good one for getting to write amazing sentences. Don’t take it as a hard-an-fast rule. If you have thirteen or fourteen words don’t fret. I think it’s a rough estimate.

Why not pick up The Orphan Mater’s Son and The Goldfinch and you’ll be amazed at the clear complex sentences that say a lot.
You should never overdo your writing with complex sentences. You should give breathers between them, use simpler ones between them. It’s better to write only simple sentences than only complex sentences. In the latter, the reader will keep slowing down to take it all in. You’ll notice that the previous sentence doesn’t exactly flow into the next. So Naipal is right. He knows what he is talking about. Simple sentences help the flow of your work. Complex sentences show your skill as a writer. But don’t do too much showing off of your skill because you will lose good flow.

For those who care, here are Naipal’s rules for beginners in very short form (I’ve summarized them because I think there’s something in there for all writers, not just beginners.) My comments are between double asterisks.

Do not write long sentences. 10 to 12 words is enough. **Learn this, and you can merge them into beautiful complex sentences in your rewrites.**

Each sentence should make a clear statement. It should add to the statement that went before. A good paragraph is a series of clear, linked statements. **This talks about good or smooth flow.**

Do not use big words. The use of small words makes you think about what you are writing. Even difficult ideas can be broken into small words. **For me, any writer who can simplify a difficult idea shows he knows it well, and I marvel at his/her power of understanding.**

Never use words whose meanings you are unsure of. If you break this rule, you should look for other work. **LOOOOOL**

The beginner should avoid using adjectives except those of color, size and number.**If you stick to this, you are likely to learn to SHOW and not TELL.** Use as few adverbs as possible**this encourages the writer to think of strong verbs, and strong verbs show while weak verbs joined with and adverb mostly tell. Great rule.**

Avoid the abstract. Always go for the concrete. **make it clear; lose the poetry**

Every day, for six months at least, practise writing in this way.

Simple Works Best was written by Charles Opara. He writes prose, poetry and non-fiction.