Friday, July 31, 2009

Writing Sites

Publishing Basics

A great site for self-publishers (and with some help for subsidy/vanity

publishers), with hundreds of articles, blogs, and other resources.

This is a must bookmark site, especially if you are working on writing fiction or poetry of any kind. There are some great resources here; I particularly liked the structure of the mystery novel article. Plus it has lots of poetry markets and daily updated news from the publishing world.

A new UK screenwriting site, with articles, interviews, downloads, course

reviews and much more; looks like this is shaping up to be very useful!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Chiedu Ifeozo: Bookaholic Blogger of the Month

Three adjectives that best describe you
Calm, caring, hardworking

Which talent would you most like to have?
Sometimes I do wish I could sing

Why did you write ‘Homecoming’?
Back in 2005, I was a bit worried about returning to Nigeria. I wrote 'Homecoming' because in those days in between the end of academic life and the start of real life, it’s very easy to feel lost, and not know what your next step would be. 'Homecoming' speaks about finding yourself in a place that you least expected or a place that you once dreaded. It speaks about the memory of a place that has familiar sights yet feels slightly strange. I wanted to speak only about the first moments, the arrival that somehow also symbolizes the end of one journey and the beginning of another.
What is the last thing you read that made you laugh?
Nene Ezeala’s facebook note, “Blue or Green”.
Who is your perfect audience?
Two years ago, I had no audience but God. I wrote down these words on blank pieces of paper and stored them away in a drawer. I have never had to think about my perfect audience because the truth is I am exceedingly grateful to anyone who takes some time to read my work.

What is the worth of a poem?
I would be the first to admit that having never studied literature; I cannot really give a definitive answer to this question, as I am only just learning the worth of a good poem. However, for me, poetry should be about life, it should be engaging and vivid, making it easier for the reader to relate to the words. Rhyming is good, but a good melody doesn’t trump a powerful message or a passionate tale.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
That’s a weird question, but i guess being poor, sick and alone is a very low point. Thankfully, this is not something I have experienced.
How does being a Nigerian influence your writing?
Nigeria is an intriguing and unique country, one that has bred many creative individuals. As a contemporary writer, my environment is reflected by my words, like an artist or a photographer i try to use descriptive words to paint scenes in a readers mind. Being Nigerian, I can’t help but notice the many issues affecting our society and I try to write about them.
When is the best time to write for you?
In the morning, when the house is quiet and other than the hum of my laptop, I can almost hear myself think.
What is the motive behind Poetry for Charity?
Poetry for charity is a project which aims to bring together several writers from various regions of the world using the facebook social networking website, with a common aim of donating their poems and spoken word pieces to be added to a collection. All the revenue raised from the sale of the book would be donated to 3 different charities for every edition of the collection. Through poetry for charity we have been able to encourage a new breed of writers, and support worthy causes. The charity anthology is printed using the funds raised from the sale of my first book. We have had over 60 contributors from 26 countries around the world, including writers like Jumoke Verissimo, Tolu Ogunlesi, Tosyn Bucknor and Wilson Orhiunu as well as upcoming writers like Nene Ezeala, Jeffery Jaiyeola, Seun Olaniyan, Latifa Ayoola and Ayotunde Awofusi, with their help we have been able to raise about N114,000 from the first volume. The charities supported by the first two volumes of the anthology are With love from friends (WLFF), These Genes, Against illiteracy poverty and AIDS(AIPA), Stepping Stones Nigeria, Crystal Vision, and Little saints orphanage.

Facebook and you?
Facebook has been instrumental in my drive to promote my work. I joined facebook in 2005, but i wasn’t really into it then and i only posted my first note, “The people”, on the 27th of September 2007. I would readily admit that I couldn’t do without the facebook platform, but i feel that it’s the people whom i have been able to interact with on facebook, who have made the platform a pivotal part of my day. The support network on facebook has encouraged me from the very start and i would always be grateful for their kind words, advice and criticism concerning my work which has helped me to develop as a writer.

Name your five favourite writers and why?
Jumoke Verissimo: for her powerful poems that leave you with deep thoughts
Chimamanda Adichie: for her vivid, real life stories
Tolu Ogunlesi: for his witty and outstanding wordplay and his great poems
Joy Isi Bewaji: for her ability to use descriptive words to paint scenes in your mind.
Jude Dibia- Unbridled is one of my favourite books this year

Life outside poetry...
I work as a systems engineer and when i am not at work or writing, I try to relax by listening to music, watching movies, or going for a swim.

Your house is on fire, what will you take with you?
My laptop
What is your most treasured possession?
My oldest notepad, most of the entries are typed out on my laptop anyway, but its worn out pages mean a lot to me.

Best decision in writing career
I’m relatively new to the literary scene, so the first and most important thing i had to do, was to read the work that other writers had published. The research helped me a lot when i set out to do the same.

Greatest challenge
Getting people attracted to contemporary poetry, getting them to see it as a different form of writing, when they already consider poetry to be boring, complex and un-relatable.
What would a story about your life be called?
Staring in the Eyes of Hope

What is your greatest fear?

Do Nigerians read?
Short answer, yes. Long answer, yes, but they may not want to pay for it and therefore its presentation and language is key to getting them to see the value in the words that they read. In my humble opinion, we’ve always had a culture of telling stories, creating and using proverbs, and there has always been an audience for this. Getting people to become interested in reading a book, should be done using many various platforms, Speech, Audio, Print, Graphic Novels, Photo books and Web blogs. Also, a true study of the audience is important. We shouldn’t just be asking, do Nigerians read? But also what do Nigerians like to read? And how do they traditionally interact with writers and orators. I believe we can build a better reading culture by attracting the Nigerian audience to what feels familiar to them.

What is the first piece you wrote and when?
That’s a good question, I lost many pieces when i was younger during a period when we moved house often, but I think the oldest piece i still keep is titled “The little Goldfish”. It’s a very simple poem about a goldfish who longs to venture outside its bowl, and if I remember correctly I wrote it when I was probably 12. It is actually included in my first book “Thoughts on a page” because of its distinct analogy to everyday life.

What does Taruwa mean to you?
Taruwa, means a lot to me, it is a source of encouragement, confidence and friendship. Lydia Idakula Sobogun contacted me in February 2007 and gave me an opportunity to present my work to an audience. It would become remembered as the first time I would ever read my work in public. Suddenly I had to own my words like I had never done before. We definitely need more spotlights such as Taruwa.

What is the meaning of your name?
“God helps me”

How do you overcome writer’s block?
I listen to music, relax and take each day as it comes.
Final words on your epitaph
Life is a gift, and he used his gift to help other lives

Friday, July 24, 2009

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in elan

Hot off a worldwide book tour, a recent appearance on CNN’s African Voices, and a reading for fans at the Silverbird Galleria earlier on in the week, Chimamanda Adichie is prime media gold.As the foremost fiction writer to come out of Nigeria in the past decade, she has made the Nigerian experience coffee table discussion among literary critics, bookworms and fans spanning the different continents of the world.

Her critical acclaim came with her first novel Purple Hibiscus, winning the coveted Best First Book award at the 2005 Commonwealth Writers Series. Her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2007.

With a new book recently released, The Thing Around Your Neck, she took time out to sign my copy and chat about her views on natural hair, the importance of reading and why she does not own a pair of jeans.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Manchester Fiction Prize

The Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University is launching The Manchester Fiction Prize – a new literary competition celebrating excellence in creative writing.

The Manchester Fiction Prize
is open internationally and will award a cash prize of £10,000 to the writer of the best short story submitted. The competition is open to entrants aged 16 or over; there is no upper age limit.

A bursary for study at MMU will also be awarded to an entrant aged 18-25 as part of the Jeffrey Wainwright Manchester Young Writer of the Year Award*. Eligible entrants are asked to indicate on the entry form if they would like to be considered for the Manchester Young Writer of the Year Award in addition to the main prize.

For more information go here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Mixed Martial Arts Writers Wanted

CONCEDE is looking for talented writers to provide high quality commentary and reporting for our website network launching July 1st 2009. If you have good writing skills and are passionate about MMA, please contact us for more details regarding this position. The ideal person should have excellent communication skills, have a solid writing ability, be self-motivated and be willing to come up with innovative article ideas. This position will pay $25 -$50 per article used. It will also be a great way to gain exposure to the MMA community.

Please contact or

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Literature is life, live it:: Unoma Azuah

Three adjectives that best describe you

Quiet, Ambitious, Long-suffering.

When and why did you decide to become a writer?

The stories my grandmother told me as a child made me fall in love with tales and the imaginary world. Consequently, I decided to stick with it because I enjoyed it. I was a very melancholic child, so I kept journals as an outlet for the many emotions I was battling with as a child with many unanswered questions. Journaling now became a habit that landed me on a springboard for writing generally.

What is the secret to being a fine writer?

Hard work; willingness to learn new tricks; willingness to be receptive to criticism; patience, perseverance and studying the masters continuously. And of course the talent has to be there.

Your first story written

My first written story is a very didactic short story set in my university dormitory then in Okpara Hall at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. I think it was entitled “Bright Lights,” something like that. I assessed some of the trends on campus then, romance, and desperation for money, parties, sex, etc. I don’t know where I kept it. I’d be ashamed to publish it. I guess I was trying to vent per all the so called “immorality” that I witnessed as a student then.

Greatest achievement in writing career

I think that the greatest is yet to come. However, I still glow with pride whenever I am reminded that my debut novel Sky-high Flames won back-to-back literary awards in 2006 both in Nigeria and the US.

What do you think of Nigerian writing, are we there yet?

We are blessed with a huge amount of talented writers. Unfortunately, a good number of us are yet to get the outlet needed to display our awesome creativity, if you ask me. The publishing scene in Nigeria is pathetic to say the least. And this is because the economy is in shambles. Vanity presses run amok while it is near impossible to find independent publishers who are scouting for good materials. Where they exist, they are few and far between. So we will get there someday.

What is your philosophy of life?

Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you.

What is the motive behind the title Length of Light?

That title came out of the fact that I celebrate my characters no matter how dark or evil they maybe. There is always a good side to every person regardless of what becomes their fate. Therefore the redeeming qualities of my characters are symbolic of light which cannot be trapped, has not specific length and is endless.

Is the world ready for our stories?

Why not? And if they are not, we should force it on them. Laugh out loud! Can’t wait for them to be ready.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Nothing really: my creator is a perfect God.

Your house is on fire, what will you take with you?

My manuscripts and my certificates. Laugh out loud!

What is your advice to young writers?

Read, read, and read!

What would a story about your life be called?

Embracing My Shadow. I hope to have it out when I am 50.

Who is your perfect reader?

A reader that is voracious.

What is African literature to you?

A minefield of unique creativity and history.

Longest Writer’s block; why and how did you break it?

I got my longest writer’s block when I relocated to the US. For more than two years, I could barely write anything. When I did finally write, it was mostly abstract poetry.

What is the last thing you read that made you laugh?

A cartoon in the Vanguard Newspapers about how NEPA bills are consistent but never the NEPA itself.

What inspires your writing?

Life, living and people.

Which of your works was the most challenging for you to write?

My poem entitled “Home is Where the Heart Hurts.”

What is the meaning of your name?

My Igbo name which my grandmother gave me is Unoma. It means a child born in a good home. So Unoma means good home. My Tiv name which my father gave me is Nguemo: God is with me

How does being a Nigerian affect your work?

It makes some people curious, while it makes some others want to stereotype me and try to put me in a box.

What does it mean to be a writer?

Loneliness and hard work that may not fetch you a fortune in your life time..

Final words on your epitaph

Literature is life, live it!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Talk is not Cheap!

If you love debating, this may be your opportunity to become a star by your words...and maybe for once, talk is not cheap.

WAPI in August
will feature performances from underground artists & auditions for the latest TV Reality Show – The Debaters!

Inspire Africa in collaboration with the British Council and other partners will be bringing to you a TV reality show – The Debaters. The Debaters will run for 13 weeks and will engage 14 participants in live debates on current social, political and economic issues in Nigeria. The 14 participants will be selected at auditions in Kano, Lagos & Port Harcourt.

A brand new Toyota Avanza + 3 million naira cash are some of the prizes to be won!

Details for auditions:
Lagos Regional auditions: 8 & 10 August 2009
Time: 9am – 4pm

National audition & Lagos WAPI event: 29 August 2009
Theme: 101 ways to get high without drugs
Time: 11am – 5pm
Venue: British Council, 20 Thompson Avenue, Ikoyi

Wapi screening & Regional auditions: 12 & 13 August 2009
Time: 9am – 4pm
Theme: 101 ways to get high without drugs

WaPi Kano Event: 15 August 2009
Time: 10am – 4pm
Venue: British Council, 10 Emir Palace Road, Kano

Port Harcourt
Regional auditions: 17 & 18 August 2009
Time: 9am – 4pm
Venue: British Council, Plot 300 Olusegun Obasanjo Way
Port Harcourt

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Alice Walker's Letter to Obama

Dear President Obama,

If word reached me that you were being tortured, I would instantly feel tortured myself, because I would be. Torture is something an entire society feels, whether we are within earshot of the screaming or not. People don't like to believe this, but there is no way human beings can remain unaffected by what is done to other human beings, or even to animals who are not human. If I heard this about you, I would do everything in my power to come to your aid, not simply because I know you to be rare and necessary to our planetary survival, but because you are simply a person, with feelings, aspirations, sorrows and dreams. And you have children. If I were a child and knew my parent was being tortured, day after day, what would I myself become?

Finish reading with a poem Dying on her blog.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Love is...

Toni Morrison is a beautiful writer whose work hangs on your neck till you are through; she uses language in such a creative way and that's one of the reasons I call her a writer's writer. Here is what love is in Bluest Eye:

Love is never any better than the lover. Wicked people love wickedly, violent people love violently, weak people love weakly, stupid people love stupidly, but the love of a free man is never safe. There is no gift for the Beloved

I put this up on Facebook and got loads of responses...

I think love gets people tickled a lot asides all the sweet things that they say about it; I also think it hurts a lot. The subject of '
love's hurt' made my buy a book recently and I paraprased thosed lines on y FB status; the responses were intriguing. Here it is:

Love hurts...not because it wants to but because it is love's nature to hurt (just as it is the nature of a scorpion to sting): it hurts when you give off a part of you, let alone all of you.

So, what does love mean to you? Share with us your best love quotes and ideals, in fiction or reality.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Happy Birthday Prof!

Happy birthday to Professor Wole Soyinka as he clocks 75 today! Kongi is not only a writer but a freedom fighter and cultural hero who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986.

We love his works for many reasons, but we love him more...There are several events organised to commemorate his birth, so we thought we should ask you: which of Soyinka's works do you find most remarkable? What strikes you most about WS? Do you have any personal experience with him? Then share with us....

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Calls for Submission: Granule Magazine

For readers and contributors, Granule is 100% more nourishing than sleep… A submission-led literary periodical with a mission: to inspire and have you howling with joy.

Compiled from a variety of penmanship – including short stories, poems, reviews and lists – we celebrate, encourage and applaud. Wit, inventiveness, art, absurdity, simplicity, all expressed in words and complemented by mercurial visuals; all from the underground. Your ‘everyday’ will be endowed with pop, fizzle, fun, positivity and zeal. Low-brow and independent, Granule is a short-run tactile beauty and something to cherish. Stop stopping and start starting. Welcome all, welcome to Granule.

WRITERS please send your work to
Contact Name: Administrator

Saturday, July 11, 2009


As Chimamanda reads from her latest book Thing Around Your Neck at Silverbird Galleria today by 4pm, CORA's (Committee For Relevant Art) quarterly Art Stampede will hold at the National Theatre on Sunday July 12, 2009 by 1.30pm.

The stampede is a discursive platform at which the burning issues of culture production in our country are discussed by an audience which includes painters, poets, actors, singers, TV scriptwriters, fashion designers, essayists, novelists, drummers, sculptors-the entire community of culture producers. This edition of the Stampede has, as its theme: 'LEGENDS and LEGACIES' and is designed to explore strategies through which the work of legends and heroes of Nigeria art and culture sector can be adequately documented and preserved for the benefit of succeeding generation of artists as well as the Nation in general.

The Stampede will also be used to commemorate both the one year memorial of the death of Mr. Steve Rhodes, the renowned music composer and arranger, who is also the patriarch of all of contemporary Nigerian arts, as well as celebrate the playwright and memoirist Wole Soyinka who clocks 75 on July 13.

Among the Speakers expected are the Federal Director of Culture, Mr George Ufot; the Director General of the Lagos State Records and Archives, Mr Uthman Bolaji, the actor and Delta State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Mr Richard Mofe Damijo, the veteran art producer and manager, Femi Jarret, the Founder/CEO of the African Movie Academy, Peace Anyiam–Osigwe (also of the Anyiam Osigwe Foundation) and , Mr Femi Odugbemi, former President of the Independent Television Producers Association of Nigeria, ITPAN, and director of the DXWorx Studios, who has done documentary film on some of the veteran artists, including on Steve Rhodes.

The Stampede is a combination of dialogue, music and other artistic performances. It will involve participation of a number of distinguished artists located in the city.

For more information email:,

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Esquire's Fiction Contest

Esquire is a men's lifestyle magazine (not the point I want to make, just an intro). Esquire has an ongoing fiction contest but I can't apply as it is only open to legal residents of US (sad, ain't it?). Well, for those based in US, the rules are here and plan to write, who knows? All the best!

Quick question: when will Nigerian magazines organise contests asides the contest of 'Who wears what best?' on their pages (not all of them though) and raising money through all these catwalks...something to encourage writers? Don't misquote me, some have quality content and I read them but just this little snag... Am I making general assumptions? Do you know any Naija magazine that has organised any such competition? Let us know!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

EC Osondu wins at last

Sometime last month, we interviewed EC Osondu here...he actually hit the bull's eye this time around--he won the Caine prize.

Read the winning story here.

What can we say? Congratulations Osondu, more ink in your writing pen and your fear won't come true (inspiration no go flee)!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Farafina Trust Creative Writing Workshop Sponsored by Nigerian Breweries

Farafina Trust will be holding a creative writing workshop in Lagos, organized by award-winning writer and creative director of Farafina Trust, Chimamanda Adichie, from September 17 to September 26 2009. The workshop is sponsored by Nigerian Breweries Plc. Guest writers who will co-teach the workshop alongside Adichie are the Caine Prize Winning Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina author of DISCOVERING HOME, the PEN/Faulkner Malamud Award Winning writer Nathan Englander author of FOR THE RELIEF OF UNBEARABLE URGES. Guardian Fiction prize winning author of TRUMPET Jackie Kay, Booker-nominated English author of NOTES ON A SCANDAL Zoe Heller and others.

The workshop will take the form of a class. Participants will be assigned a wide range of reading exercises, as well as daily writing exercises. The aim of the workshop is to improve the craft of Nigerian writers and to encourage published and unpublished writers by bringing different perspectives to the art of storytelling. Participation is limited only to those who apply and are accepted.

To apply, send an e-mail to

Your e-mail subject should read ‘Workshop Application.’

The body of the e-mail should contain the following:

1. Your Name

2. Your address

3. A few sentences about yourself

4. A writing sample of between 200 and 800 words. The sample must be either fiction or non-fiction.

All material must be pasted or written in the body of the e-mail. Please Do NOT include any attachments in your e-mail. Applications with attachments will be automatically disqualified. Deadline for submissions is July 30 2009. Only those accepted to the workshop will be notified by August 30 2009. Accommodation in Lagos will be provided for all accepted applicants who are able to attend for the ten-day duration of the workshop. A literary evening of readings, open to the public, will be held at the end of the workshop

Monday, July 6, 2009

On the Penguin Prize for African Writing

Well, it is not news that the Penguin Prize is opened for submissions. However, it has come under so much criticism because of its rules. Toyin Adepoju, Nigerian academic states his issues with the prize; Nnedi Okorafor is also unhappy with the rules.

Toyin Adepoju's Grouse:

1.Submissions in the children’s literature, science fiction or fantasy genres will not be considered

Why? I am really puzzled by this.

The iconic work of the following African writers challenges such a criterion. Christopher Okigbo's poetry, in which he journeys to the goddess’ underwater abode, is fantasy writing. Ben Okri is primarily a fantasist in his entry to and from the alternate world of the spirit children, the ogbanje, in The Famished Road, which opens with an endless road which is “always hungry”, and a king who is animal, human and spirit. The same goes for Amos Tutuola’s palm wine tapper pursuing his deceased palm wine “tapster” into the “Deads Town” and Daniel Fagunwa’s hunters who travel in forests in which mind boggling creatures abound, as well as Bessie Head’s A Question of Power, where the protagonist is in constant internal warfare with characters who are either God...

Penguin issued the works of the US writer H.P. Lovecraft, one of the greatest masters of metaphysical horror. They also issued the stories of the Argentine Jorge Luis Borges, distinctive for his metaphysical narrative riddles, most of which are gems of the improbable, like the story of God's dream visitation to the tiger and the poet.

Fantasy writing is one of the most powerful genres for exploring the deepest issues about the meaning of life and alternative conceptions of reality. One reason why I am not too enthusiastic about much African writing is the very limitation suggested by this Penguin prize criterion-a focus on realist writing that severely limits the range of possibilities available in the literature.

2.Serious narrative non-fiction that examines and explores African issues and experiences for both local and international audiences in an engaging, thought provoking and enlightening way.

Why? Must an African write about Africa? So many non-Africans have made their names writing about Africa. I,for one, am an African who has a keen interest in comparative mysticism, African, Islamic Asian, European. In being assessed for such a prize, why should the non - location of the work in relation to Africa be an issue? Are we not observing a move here towards cultural ghettoisation? With such a restriction, should the prize not be titled instead as a prize for Africans writing about Africa, instead of simply being a prize for African writing?
Are Plato, Kant, Descartes, or the more recent Paul Davies, Martin Rees and Stephen Hawking , all scientists and philosophers who are great or impressive writers, writing about Europe, Germany, Greece or England per se? No. They are writing about the human condition from their backgrounds as Europeans, a background that is not definitive of the subject matter of their works.

Nnedi Okorafor has six reactions to the stipulation "Submissions in the children’s literature, science fiction or fantasygenres will not be considered"

My first reaction: No science fiction or fantasy genres? WTF?! Well, why the heck not?!

My second reaction: So…just how many Africans are even WRITING fiction directly, openly categorized as “science fiction” and “fantasy”? Sooooo many that this has to be said?

My third reaction: Would novels like Famished Road, Icarus Girl, or Wizard of the Crow be rejected?

My fourth reaction: A prize with this kind of stipulation is openly disrespecting science fiction and fantasy as literature. Good Lord, I felt like I was back in my PhD program again.

My fifth reaction: This will do wonders in inspiring African writers to write science fiction and fantasy (I’m being sarcastic).

My sixth reaction: Well, the judges for the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature were open-minded enough to choose my fantasy novel Zahrah the Windseeker.

Rules are made by humans, for humans and not humans for rules, not so? We are wondering the mentality behind the rules as they'd rather restrict creativity instead of promote it. What do you think?