Monday, February 28, 2011

The Battle: Writers and Critics

Last day in February! How did it go? Any plans for March?

When writers finish writing, the work is no longer theirs. I think. It now belongs first to the publisher, for polishing, shredding and sending to the public. Then, the critics, those awful looking creatures begin to tear your baby apart…into unknown pieces. They begin to say awful things about your baby that you nurtured in the sacredness of your room, nights of lost sleep. They begin to say things you never intended.

We do not have any nice words for you. It is no longer yours! It only has your name on it. The only rights you have to it are those that come from royalties. The possession that exists now is not that of a mother’s love for a child. It is a love you need not cling closely to...that's if you don't want to be hurt! 

When writers come out and take critics up…it baffles me. Do you think your work is perfect? Besides everyone will say different things about your work…will you go around responding to every negative comment. Then, where will you have the time to write. Oh, I forget you have your publicist. And I also forget many writers don't write for critics, they write for people ;)

In some corners, it is thought that critics should stick with certain standards before criticizing works. Standards like: what elements does the story exhibit? What does the writer set out to do? Was the purpose of the writing achieved? Some even suggest the use of literary theories like realism, Marxism, post-colonialism, etc. as measures…they only forget that every judgement however critical it attempts to look is a bias, a preference. Thus emphasizing the Roman proverb “there is no arguing about taste.” And oh yes this one, many critics buy books with their money and think they are free to write whatsoever they want because hey, it was their money that bought it. If they didn't enjoy the work, they'd say. However. 

Thus begins the battle. The fighters: writers and critics. The battlefield: The text. The weapons: words, hurled left, right and centre. 

What do you think?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Writing Opportunity: The Bridport Prize

The Prize is open to anyone, including non-UK applicants, over 16 years. Entries must be entirely the work of the entrant and must never have been published, self-published, published on any website or public online forum, broadcast nor winning or placed in any other competition.

SHORT STORIES: 1st prize = £ 5000 (approx. 8000 US$, 5900 € ) 
POEMS: 1st Prize = £ 5000 (approx. 8000 US$, 5900 €)
FLASH FICTION: 1st Prize =£ 1000 (approx. 1600 US$, 1180 €)

Fees: Entry fee is £5 per flash fiction, £6 per poem or £7 per story (you can send as many entries as you like).

Closing date for receipt of postal entries: 30th June 2011 5.30pm
Closing date for online entries: 30th June 2011 Midnight GMT

Read more information here. Have a nice weekend people!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Commonwealth Prize 2011

If you've ever been shortlisted for anything, you will understand what these writers are going through at the moment: they've been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize. Now, they have to wait till 3rd of March, May 16 and May 21 for the announcements in different categories. Nigeria is powerfully represented. All the best writers!

Regional shortlists:

Africa Best Book:
The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna (Sierra Leone)
Men of the South by Zukiswa Wanner (South Africa)
The Unseen Leopard by Bridget Pitt (South Africa)
Oil on Water by Helon Habila (Nigeria)
Blood at Bay by Sue Rabie (South Africa)
Banquet at Brabazan by Patricia Schonstein (South Africa)

Africa Best First Book:
Happiness is a Four Letter Word by Cynthia Jele (South Africa)
Bitter Leaf by Chioma Okereke (Nigeria)
The Fossil Artist by Graeme Friedman (South Africa)
Colour Blind by Uzoma Uponi (Nigeria)
Voice of America by E. C. Osondu (Nigeria)
Wall of Days by Alastair Bruce (South Africa)

Canada and Caribbean Best Book:
The Sky is Falling by Caroline Adderson (Canada)
Room by Emma Donahue (Canada)
The Master of Happy Endings by Jack Hodgins (Canada)
In The Fabled East by Adam Lewis Schroeder (Canada)
The Death of Donna Whalen by Michael Winter (Canada)
Mr. Shakespeare’s Bastard by Richard B. Wright (Canada)

Read press release here.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Saraba Fashion Issue!

Oh yes, you read right...the next issue of Saraba Mag is about fashion!

To interrogate fashion and what is fashionable, we are publishing #8 of Saraba. As usual, our concerns are beyond the superficial details of everyday life. We are asking previously unasked questions, contemplating questions about art and life that may remain unasked were we silent.

There is so much to write about 'Fashion' that it is impossible to make a list. So we ask you to draw the line yourself. 

Send us work that interrogates fashion in ways that we wouldn't have contemplated - let this be as much about dress as it is about life. See an example in Suzanne Ushie's "The Serious Guide to Becoming a Seriously Unfashionable Writer." 

We'll accept entries until 1st of March 2011. If you'll feel better, let us into your head before you submit.

Read our submission guidelines. Please use our submission manager ( 


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Writing Opportunity: Breadloaf Writers Fellowship

All applicants are expected to submit an application and their supporting materials online, except for fellowship candidates who shall complete an online application as well as mail a copy of their book(s) to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference office.

To note: Applicants submit their top choices for workshop leader upon acceptance to the Conference, noting it on their deposit/confirmation form. Participants are assigned to a workshop based on our commitment to giving all attendees one of their choices. We recommend that you print a copy of these directions so you can refer to them as you fill out the online application. The directions contain important details needed to fill in the title, file, and comments fields correctly.

Application directions followed by a link to the online application:
Fill in your contact information and create a password to use.
Writer name: use this space if you write under a penname.

Submission title: write in the title of the work you are submitting with your application. If it's an excerpt from a longer work, please note either the chapter title or title of the manuscript, either is acceptable. If you do not have a single title for your manuscript (for example, if you have a title for each poem or if you're submitting two or more shorter prose pieces), please create a title to use just for this Bread Loaf manuscript; the title field is limited so it may not be possible to enter the title of each poem or story. If you like, you can simply write in "poems for Bread Loaf application." Do not submit more than ten pages of poetry or 6,000 words of prose. (Fellows should note the title of their most recent book.)

Genre: choose the genre for your application from the drop-down list. If you are applying for financial aid, you can apply in only one financial aid category. (Descriptions of the financial aid categories can be found in the Admissions section. The FAQ page can help you decide which financial aid category is best for you.) If you are applying for financial aid and would like to be considered for a spot as a general contributor in the event that you do not receive an award, you will need to make a separate application in each category. Nevertheless, you will be able to use the same e-mail and password for both applications.

2011 Deadlines
All applicants are strongly encouraged to apply early.
Notification letters will be sent via e-mail in late May.
General Contributor and Auditor Applications--March 1
Financial Aid Applications (including fellowships)--March 1
Middlebury College Student Scholarship Applications--March 19
Fairbanks International Fellowship or Tuition Scholarship Applications for African and Caribbean Writers--April 2
The Fairbanks award supports a writer living in Africa or the Caribbean to attend the Conference.
Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753, Phone: 802-443-5286
More info here

Friday, February 18, 2011

Call for Submissions

To celebrate Dambudzo Marechera’s posthumous 59th birthday this year I will be putting together an ebook anthology entitled “Remembering Marechera”, consisting of essays, reviews, short stories, poems, etc. that follow this theme, to be published by StoryTime Publishing. To this end I invite your submissions until the 6th of April 2011.

Theme: “Remembering Marechera”
Word count: 1000-5000 words (less for poetry if needs be)
Format: An attached Word doc/docx, times new roman, 12 point, single spaced.
Submissions: By email only to:
Deadline: 6th of April 2011

The project will depend on the quantity and quality of submissions I receive, and if all goes well it will be distributed through Amazon’s Kindle platform in a variety of formats (and possibly print too depending). I look forward to reading your submissions. If you have any queries please email me at the submissions email.

In the project so far: Emmanuel Sigauke, John Mwazemba, Beaven Tapureta, Joseph Chikowero, Sylva Nze Ifedigbo, Tinashe Mushakavanhu, Sarudzai Mubvakure, Thando Mgqolozana, David Mungoshi, Masimba Musodza, Fungai Machirori, Afam Akeh, Uko Bendi Udo, Ernst Schade, Alex Magaisa, Jabulani Mzinyathi, Isaac Neequaye, Abigail George, Austin Kaluba, Karen Stally, Zukiswa Wanner, Tendai Tagarira, and Franziska Kramer.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Writing Lesson: Killing Your Babies

Yes, you’ve done the research. Gathered all the necessary materials. And you think everyone has to know that this story was worked on, that everything has to be included. This is a lesson about letting go. I remember this was what an instructor called “Killing Your Babies” at the DADA Books Writers Workshop in 2010. Remove every unnecessary word…it doesn’t matter how beautiful they look. Ask yourself: what is this word doing here?

We know it is hard to start cancelling out, except on your to-do-list; it is tough to use the Backspace or delete key on your computer…it reminds you of the red marks in your exam sheets. Only that here it is not a sign of failure. It is a sign of maturity. Few people can close their eyes and kill their babies.

How can you? Ascertain what you want to discuss; think about it deeply and write your first draft. Keep it away for a while. Then, return to it. Hopefully by now, all those attachments to the words would be gone. So, begin to cut off. If you still can’t cut off, then let someone whom you trust his/her editing skills do it for you. Or just keep it away longer. The next time you go to it, you would likely be ashamed of it. Ashamed of those babies you once kept.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Love is in the air!!!

Happy Valentine, may it bring you true love!

What makes a great love story? Really, what is it: that the two characters fight for their love? Death? Sex? That they lived happily ever after?  That it makes you crave for love or cringe when you hear the word?

You tell me what makes a great love story?

We do not know by what standards, here are Guardian Book's Best Love Stories (2009).

Famous Love Stories in History and Literature

Best Love Stories of All Time on Reader's Digest

Good Reads: Best Love Stories

Happy Valentines Day!

With Love,

The Bookaholics

Friday, February 11, 2011

Writing Opportunity: The Tibor Jones Pageturner Prize

So, it's Friday. Thank God it's Friday. Here's some prize you may be interested in...if you have an unpublished book.

The Tibor Jones Pageturner Prize was born out of a desire to discover and promote new and exciting writers, to celebrate compelling new voices in fiction. Entrants for the prize must have completed, or be close to completing, a novel. The fiction can embrace any genre, the story and the writing should be distinctive, absorbing and, above all, Pageturning.

The winner will receive representation plus £1000, and will be announced at the 2011 London Book Fair.
All submissions must be sent via email to

The Rules: 

  1. Entries for the 2011 Tibor Jones Pageturner Prize can be submitted from Tuesday 4th January 2011 until Tuesday 8th March 2011. Any novel submitted after the deadline will not be eligible for entry.
  2.  A shortlist will be released on Monday 21st March 2011.
  3.  The competition is open to writers of any nationality writing in English. There is no restriction on theme or style.
  4. You may enter multiple times but novels will be considered as separate entries so typically a single submission of your strongest pageturner is preferable.
  5. The winning novel must not have been published previously in any form. If you enter your novel in other competitions and you win, please notify us and withdraw your submission.

Deadline: 8 March 2011

Check here for more information. All the best!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Writing Lesson: Time and Place in a Story

The plot and the characters are important; the setting equally is. There are several times when the setting itself could be as strong as a character with a personality in the text. When thinking about the setting of a work, you may ask the following questions:
  • When does the story take place? What time of the year of the day is it? (If it’s night, don’t make it seem as if your character is dressed up to go for work except they are on night shift!)
  • Does the weather play a meaningful role in the story? (Please do not go around writing about summers and winters when your characters are in Nigeria)
  • Where does the story take place? A physical known place or does it exist only in your imagination? (If it’s the latter, the more reason you should make it so believable that the reader wants to pay a visit!)
  • Does the setting have a major role to play in the story? Does a change in setting it alter a character’s life or progress action?
Now, start painting those settings!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Why Write?

It is a new week. May this week bring you good!

On Facebook last week, my friend, Adebola Rayo went down memory lane with a nursery rhyme as her status “Sandalily Sandalily…I’m a teacher in my country…I’m a lawyer…I’m a Doctor” I sang that song as a child, knapsack on my back, 50k (the grey coin with a palm tree representing the country’s buoyant agriculture) in hand and dreams of a bright future. As a child (in Nigeria), you either dreamt of being a doctor, lawyer or accountant. Nothing more. That day, I asked: what would a writer look like? She replied: "dada hair, nicotine stained fingers, dark shadows from sleeplessness, cup of coffee in your hand" (She joked) Maybe, many parents wanted to prevent their children from such dark fates. So, Sandalilly, we all sang and acted our dreams...

You are a writer in your country...everybody knows you well (No!)

Only few writers ever get least if we look at the titles that come out every year. Paupers, many writers. Yes, that’s the stereotypical image…why write? And yes, I forget to add that I fear that writing is fast becoming a “last resort.” Yes, you heard me…like teaching. Nobody wants to teach. And people just think: “Oh yes, I think that I can write…let's dust up those skills!” It's an easy thing to say rather than "I'm in the favour market." Some just need to add writer to their list of titles. It's hip, isn't it? Only that they do not have any piece of writing to their names, safe the blog posts.  I blog, therefore I am a writer! Now, I agree there are some bloggers who write very well. Time, I guess would make it known that not everyone that writes is a writer. 

Okay, now this post is just a question: why write? Out of love for writing, necessity, or it’s your job…what you do for survival. Writing is not just some divine gift…that comes on you like the coming of the Spirit on the Disciples. Neither is it only a nudge in the deep of the night of a small voice in your ears. Yes, there is the muse and all that gibberish. But it’s nothing lest you put pen to paper!

Tell us: Why write?

N.B. Read on why Chioma Iwunze Writes on her Blog

Friday, February 4, 2011

Writing Opportunity

If you are a writer in a school in Britain? This may be a chance you want to grab.

Are you a student writer? Would you like to win £1,000, a trip to the Norman Mailer Writer's Colony and the chance to have your work published in British GQ?  Announcing the British GQ Norman Mailer Student Writing Award 2011.

The Winner
The winner will recieve a £1,000 cash prize, have his or her work published in a future issue of British GQ and be invited to spend a month in the summer of 2011 at the Norman Mailer Writers Colony, a residential educational centre based at the legendary author's former home in Provincetown, Massachusetts. All travel, accommodation and expenses will be covered.

About the Norman Mailer Writers Colony
The purpose of the colony is to nurture the development of future writers by using Norman Mailer's contributions to literary culture as a guiding force. Norman Mailer (1923-2007) was a giant of American letters, the author of more than 40 books, including The Naked And The Dead; The Armies Of The Night; The Fight; Tough Guys Don't Dance and the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Executioner's Song.

How it works
Entries, which must be no longer than 3,000 words, will be accepted by email only to before 31 March 2011. All entrants must be current students at British educational establishments. All entries must be original nonfiction. Students may submit work in any of the many sub-genres of creative non-fiction: memoir or autobiography, essay, literary journalism, profiles of people and places, and so on. Whatever its subject, the best work will be true material presented with compelling literary merit. Entries must be submitted as MS Word documents and should be double-spaced. All entries must include name, home address, name of college/university, e-mail address and phone number, including mobile phone.

More info here. Read last year's winning article here. Norman Mailer's Writing Tips

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It's February Baby!

First we peeped at 2011. Wake up, January, 2011 is over...February has come. Maybe you have broken many of your promises, strayed off many of your resolution...don't beat yourself for too long. Bookaholic Blog says try again, re-write that story, read that book, adhere to that deadline. Start on time. There is still time. 

May February bring you love ;) Bookaholic Blog brings you writing news :-)

World Bank 2011 Essay Competition 

Young people are on the move. Improvements in transportation, technology development and increased international trade, as well as issues such as unemployment, war, health and economic hardship have prompted more young people to migrate within and across national borders in search of work, education and a better quality of life. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates that young people between 15 and 30 years of age account for about one-third of all migrants

Nearly all young people are affected by migration in some way. Some are migrants themselves or are considering migrating abroad or within their home country. Others experience migration through the departure of friends or family members, and still others, in receiving countries, encounter the political debate on immigration and integration policies in their country and may experience cohabitation with new immigrants. Young people are major stakeholders in migration and yet youth are largely absent in the debate on international migration policies and the effects of migration on development.

Deadline: March 17, 2011. More info here.