Monday, October 13, 2014

Upcoming Event: African Literary Evening


Hello friends. Hope you've had a good week and a relaxing weekend. I mentioned in my last post that I was working with a friend to put together a literary event in London this November. Well, we're almost ready! So if you are in this part of the world, and you love books, writing, literature, poetry etc, and you would like to meet some really amazing, talented writers, then come along! I'll be there too ;)

Here are the full details of the evening:

Accomplish Press in conjunction with Femy and Remy Ltd and Nigerian Writers, presents an evening of reading, conversation and inspiration with the best of new generation African Writers. 

The event will be a mixture of literature, poetry and spoken word performances, as well as a panel to discuss issues relevant to writers in the UK.

Featuring: A panel of African Writers, Publishers, Journalists, Poets and Book Bloggers.

Abidemi Sanusi
Nuzo Onoh
Ola Nubi
Sade Adeniran
Kémi Ogunniyi
Irenosen Okojie
Kiru Taye
Abimbola Dare
Adura Ojo
Tolulope Popoola
Tundun Adeyemo
Amanda Epe
and many more.

Topics:
•Is it possible to make a living as a writer?

•The future of publishing in the UK: is it traditional publishing, self-publishing and collaborative publishing or hybrid publishing?

•Beyond print; moving with the digital revolution: ebooks, podcasts, audio books and short films

•Who is our audience? Our community or beyond?

•Genres: moving beyond expectations placed on African writing

Hosted by: David G. Balogun

With readings and spoken word performances from: 

Ola Nubi - she will be reading from her soon-to-be published novel

Adura Ojo - she will be reading from her newly published collection of poems, “Life is a Woman Breaking Eggs”.

Amanda Epe - she will be reading a chapter from her new book

Tolulope Popoola - she will be reading from her book as well as a couple of flash fiction stories.

There will be a variety of books for sale, and an opportunity to network and chat with the panel and other guests informally over snacks and drinks in the bar afterwards.

Date: Saturday, 8th November 2014

Time: 5pm to 8pm

Venue: The Proud Archivist, 2 - 10 Hertford Road, London N1 5ET http://www.theproudarchivist.co.uk/

Tickets: Early Bird £5, General £8

Please register and order tickets via Eventbrite:
http://www.eventbrite.com/e/african-literary-evening-tickets-12822098241

I look forward to seeing you there!


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Reflections

Hello friends,

It's been a while. I've been working, travelling, juggling motherhood with everything else on my plate, so it does happen that updating my blog takes a back seat sometimes. But I do miss having a journal, and I want to reignite that small but important aspect of my life. Actually, what I really miss, is writing in a diary, with a pen and having hours of time to myself to just scribble down my thoughts uninterrupted. But in this stage of life I'm in, time is such a luxury, so I'll have to make do with blogging once in a while. Hmmm.

I travelled to Nigeria in March and returned to the UK in August with my family. We were based in Port Harcourt for the four months, with a couple of trips to Lagos. I have to say that it was one very weird and eye-opening experience for many reasons. We are considering moving back sometime in the future, so this was a trip to "test the waters" and see what it would be like. But by the end of the trip, I returned to London with very mixed feelings. 

Some aspects of the trip were funny. I experienced culture shock, as usual, even though I still went back to visit in 2012. Upon arriving, the simplest things struck me as different. Seeing people carrying lots of cash around to pay for goods. Seeing people immediately count any amount of cash you give to them. Seeing Nigerians everywhere I looked (living in multicultural London, you see such a variety of nationalities). Seeing the huge and very obvious gap between the rich and poor. And so on. But for my three year-old, it was very amusing to watch her adjusting to a very different life from what she knew. For example, the fist time the electricity went off, she came to me and started apologising. She thought I had turned off the TV because I was upset with her. I laughed and laughed and after trying to explain that "sometimes the light goes off in Nigeria", seeing her confused face just made me laugh some more. She saw a cockroach for the first time and asked me, "What animal is this?", more laughter. We took a walk down the street and saw some muddy gutters and she said "Mummy, look! There are puddles in the road." Oh dear.

Now, actually living in Nigeria was unsettling. I think, in the past when I went back for visits, I didn't fully immerse myself in the day-to-day things that people did, so that didn't affect me. Or maybe because I was usually only staying a few weeks, so it was just a case of "I'll be out of here soon" so I tended to overlook a lot of things. But after a while, certain things about Nigerian society become obvious. The police. Where do I start from? The terrible customer service. Again, legendary. The roads, the lack of constant electricity, and the simplest things that I used to take for granted. The government? Who? Sigh. The religious fanaticism that is simple unbelievable. The level of dishonesty. The terrible work ethic. Then, the culture. The culture! At some point, I began to wonder if I had really grown up in Nigeria. Or if I had changed so much, that Nigeria was now a foreign place to me. I actually started doing research, asking people lots of questions, and taking notes so that I could understand my own people again. In fact, I started watching Nollywood films everyday, because I wanted to know (or remember again) what was normal and acceptable in Nigerian society. And what I found was (mostly) not pretty. In fact, a lot of things were downright disturbing. For one, the immense pressure on Nigerian females to suppress themselves and fit into a mould of cultural expectations was quite alarming. I didn't understand it for a long time, why some of the ladies based in Nigeria that I interact with online had some weird ideas about relationships, marriage, sexuality, ambitions, etc. But after returning to Nigeria, I started to understand. Then, realising how much misogyny and patriarchy is so deeply rooted in normal day to day life, made me bristle. I wondered, how do women put up with this? How do they cope? How do they not question these things? 
Case in point: I was watching a Yoruba Nollywood movie with my niece. One of the characters mentioned a proverb, "Omo to da, ti baba e ni, omo ti o da, ti iya re ni" which translates to "A good child belongs to the father, but a bad child belongs to the mother." Immediately I heard it, I was like "Why? WHY does the father get credit for a good child, and why does the mother get blame for a bad child? Aren't they jointly responsible for the upbringing of their children? Why doesn't the mother get any credit if the child turns out good? Or am I missing something here?" My niece tried to explain the proverb by saying that it means a woman has to do everything she can to make sure her child is not bad. But then, I argue, so what is the father doing? If a child is becoming bad, does he sit and fold his arms? That led to a long argument and discussion, and in the end, I realised that women in Nigeria have a very long way to go.
I could rant so much about so many other examples that I came across, but I wonder if it would make any difference. Maybe a little. Anyway I read an article on Sabi News by Joy Bewaji (click here to read) that sums up a lot of what I saw. The article is witty and funny but also very very sad. A year ago, I would have been naive enough to believe that she was exaggerating, but now I know better.

Well, the upside of going to Nigeria is that there is plenty of inspiration for crazy flash fiction stories (lol). Stuff that would strike people as unbelievable happen every day in Nigeria. You don't have to look far to see, hear or experience drama. So hopefully, when I need inspiration, I can dig into my Nigerian experience and come up with something. I'm hoping to publish another collection of flash fiction stories before the end of the year. Fingers crossed.

In the meantime, I've been busy working on Accomplish Press. We've completely redesigned the website and updated our publishing focus and services for writers. If you're interested in taking your ideas from inside your head to books reaching your audience, then check us out @ Accomplish Press. We can help make your publishing dreams come true. We're also co-hosting an event for writers in London in November, and I'll be sharing more details about that soon.

If you're still reading this blog post, thanks for staying with me. I appreciate it and I hope you'll leave a comment. Or two. Or come back again. Cheers and have a great weekend!

Friday, August 01, 2014

Flash Fiction: Looking for Something

I've had lots of varying reactions to this story. I find it amusing that some people don't understand what's going on with the main character. I think the clue is in the title of the story. Here it is, published on Magunga:

Flash Fiction: Looking for Something by Tolulope Popoola

As always, I hope you enjoy reading!

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Flash Fiction: The Flight

I wrote this story a little differently initially, then I was approached by an acquaintance who also writes flash fiction stories. He wanted a submission for Flash Fiction Ghana to celebrate their anniversary. So I tweaked the story a bit and sent it to them. Here it is published on their blog:

Flash Fiction: The Flight by Tolulope Popoola

The stories I've been writing these days seem to have a common theme. Hmmm.

Anyway, enjoy reading!

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Flash Fiction: Counselling Swap

Hello friends,

It's another flash fiction story, published on Brittle Paper! I hope you enjoy reading it.

Counselling Swap by Tolulope Popoola

Aside: the story was inspired by true events I overhead while visiting friends. Life huh?

Friday, June 06, 2014

Book Excerpt: When You Let Go by Unoma Nwankwor

Hello folks! Hope you've had a good week and you're looking forward to a relaxing weekend. Today I'm sharing an excerpt from "When You Let Go", a new book by Unoma Nwankwor. Enjoy!


About The Book 
An answered prayer. An unforeseen betrayal. A family healed by grace. 

Amara and Ejike Dike had been married for six glorious years. Amara was convinced Ejike, was the perfect gift from God. Loving, charming and very easy on the eyes. They had a beautiful life. Well, not so beautiful. Amara’s inability to bear children made her feel like a less than the perfect mate for her husband. Then after many years, God lifted her faith and had finally heard her cry. The Dikes couldn’t be happier. A surprise visit from Chinelo, Amara’s long lost cousin, turns Amara’s world upside down and threatens to turn her once-perfect existence into ashes. 
Ejike loved his wife with a passion. They shared a burning desire and faith in God that burned deep. However Chinelo’s appearance would open a Pandora’s Box that had purposely been kept shut. Faced with the loss of all she holds dear, Amara finds herself at crossroads. Would she lean on God’s sustaining grace to let go and travel the rocky path to forgiveness? Or would she throw everything to the wind and walk away? When You Let Go is a novel about people who know what the Word of God instructs but struggle with actually doing it when the chips are down.

Excerpt

This was working out better than I thought. Amara had been gone for a little over half an hour. She had tried calling Ejike before she left but couldn’t get to him. Chinelo smiled because that meant Ejike had no idea that he’d be coming home to her.

As soon as Amara left the house, Chinelo took a quick shower and put on her blue jean mini skirt and a sheer white blouse. Despite the black tank top underneath, it still had the effect she was going for.

Moments later, she could hear the garage door opening. That must be Ejike. Amara couldn’t have made it back so soon.

Chinelo put her hand on her blouse and adjusted the twins on her chest. Even if God hadn’t done anything else, He had endowed her with a good cup size and a figure she could always count on. She hiked up her skirt a little and sat on the sofa.

“Showtime, phase one,” Chinelo whispered under her breath.

The adjoining door to the garage opened.

Chinelo snickered when Ejike stopped dead in his tracks. He blinked a few times, then regained his composure. She felt the emotion in his eyes as he made a quick sweep of her body. Scorn. Discomfort. But she noticed that didn’t stop him from staring at her legs a second longer. That was what Chinelo had counted on—she knew he was a leg man. She remembered it was Amara’s legs he salivated over first. It was nice to know that being a church man hadn’t affected his sight.

Chinelo did a sweep of her own. Now that Amara wasn’t home, there was no need to steal glances like she had done at lunch the other day. Ejike Dike was still the most beautiful man she had ever seen. His neatly cut hair and lean but toned frame could be lethal on any sane woman’s hormones. His dark eyes always seemed to have the ability to see right through someone. Chinelo also noticed his style hadn’t been affected by the years either. He had on dark blue khakis and a Tommy Hilfiger, multi-colored T-shirt that hugged his muscles like it was made especially for him.

Chinelo stood up and reached out to grab his portfolio and the bottle of wine he brought home. “Where is Amara?”
Ejike walked past her and scanned the room with his eyes. Chinelo felt her blood rise. He just walked by her as though she didn’t exist. She couldn’t lose her head though. She was on a mission. This man hasn’t seen anything yet.
“Well, hello to you, too,” Chinelo said.
“Hi, where is Amara?”
“You trust your wife now. She’s always trying to rescue people. She had to run out for a bit to meet with a client.”
Chinelo made an attempt to reach for his portfolio again. This time he let her have it. She walked to the staircase and set it down at the foot of the stairs. She would have taken it into the study, but this time they had was valuable before his goody two shoes wife returned. She was not about to leave him alone. Every moment was precious.

About The Author 
Born in Akron, Ohio to Nigerian parents.UnomaNwankwor spent her childhood and early adulthood years in Port-Harcourt, Nigeria. She is a romantic at heart and is passionate about telling stories of faith and hope about love. She hope to capture her readers through stories that are faith based with an element of love. After all, “and now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” ~1 Corinthians 13:13 She is the published author of An Unexpected Blessing (2013) and The Christmas Ultimatum (2013) and many published flash fiction and short stories. Her work has appeared in Africa Book Club and the Kenyan Ezine ;Wamathai and well as numerous radio shows and blogs. She is currently working on her next novel A Scoop of Love (October, 2014). Her readers are in love with her unique way of telling stories that capture the essence of her present home base; Atlanta Georgia and her Nigerian culture. She calls them her God-given stories and strives every day to be a use her gift to His glory. 

To find out more about Unoma, visit her
Website: http://www.unomanwankwor.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/unwanwkorauthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/unwankwor
Email: unwankwor@kevstelgroup.com

To buy a copy of "When You Let Go" please visit:
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Book Review: "Honour Among All" by Vivian Kay

Book Review: "Honour Among All" by Vivian Kay 

Genre: Contemporary Christian Fiction

Rating: 4 (out of 5) Stars

I read a copy of Vivian Kay's book, "Honour Among All" and I have to admit, it gave me a lot of food for thought. I had to read it one more time before I felt like I understood a lot of the complex issues the story was dealing with. It's a Christian fiction novella so it was written with Christian themes. The main premise of the book was about swinging (wife swapping) in the Christian community, but it was also much more than that. For me, one of the main issues was: how do we interpret God's word? Do we follow it to the letter, or do we twist it to fit our own agenda?

The story centres around Ladi and Moni, a Christian couple who have been married for about nineteen years, and they have a teenage daughter. As someone who is married myself, I dread that phase that is sometimes seen as inevitable in a marriage: when the excitement of the newly-wed stage goes away, when the couple are no longer spending time together, when pressures of career and raising children become the priority, when life gets in the way, etc and the whole thing fizzles out and starts to feel like a relationship of convenience rather than a fulfilling lifelong partnership. I get that, I really do. That keeps me on my toes because I never want to end up feeling like I lost the plot in my marriage. So I really empathise with Moni in this story. Her marriage is in trouble. Her husband had an affair. She's struggling to forgive him. Their anger and bitterness towards each other is affecting their daughter. There's no more trust, and pretty soon, other unresolved issues pile up until they are at breaking point.

Enter Ladi's friend, Debo who introduces him to swinging, promising him that it is fun, harmless and a marriage-saver. Apparently, swinging works for him and his wife, Adele. He convinces Ladi to give it a try. Ladi, who is desperate and bored, quickly agrees to it, but then straight-laced Moni (who only ever dated one guy her whole life) is reluctant and not easily convinced by it. Ladi practically had to manipulate and bully her into going along with the idea.

You'll have to read the book to find out how the story goes. But I have to say that I applaud Vivian Kay for bringing this issue up. I never knew it existed in Christian circles and I found it hard to believe that people could justify their lifestyles because apparently "God has more important things to worry about, than who we are sleeping with." Really?

I must also commend the author on the way she handled Moni's own issues, because she's not completely innocent either. Thankfully she had a wise mum that she could run to, who called her out and gave her advice when she needed help.

Vivian Kay handles all the different issues deftly and with maturity. The book is not longer than it needs to be, and the reader is reminded that all our actions have consequences, not just for us, but also for our loved ones. Highly recommended.

To purchase a copy of "Honour Among All", go to:
Amazon (Kindle) or
Barnes & Noble (Nook) or
Kobo

Vivian Kay is a debut Christian author weaving stories in Canada's banana belt. When she is not writing or daydreaming about writing, she's cooking, playing scrabble or snuggling up with a good book. Vivian loves to hear from her readers so please stop by at http://viviankay.wordpress.com/ or Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VivianKayAuthor or on Twitter: https://twitter.com/VivianKayAuthor

Friday, May 09, 2014

Interview with Vivian Kay, Author of "Honour Among All"

Interview with Vivian Kay, Author of "Honour Among All"
Hi folks! Today, I've got an interview with Vivian Kay, she's a Christian and a writer. She's written a book titled "Honour Among All" and I read it a couple of months ago. You know, just when you think you've heard it all, and nothing can surprise you any more, there comes a story like this. I was shocked that the premise of her story, even though it is fiction, is actually based on real-life. I'm going to do a review of the book very soon, but for now, meet the author:


Please tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a wife, mom and debut Christian author weaving stories in Canada’s banana belt. When I’m not writing or daydreaming about writing, I love to cook, play scrabble or snuggle up with a good book.

Your new book, "Honour Among All" is a Christian Fiction novella with a twist. What prompted you to write this story?
The prompt to write Honour Among All came in November 2013 after hearing a real-life story of Nigerian Christians involved in swinging (wife-swapping). My initial thoughts were that the practice was not wide-spread amongst Christians. After doing a search and finding a web site catering solely to Christian swingers, I knew I had to write the story.

My first reaction when I read the book was to drop my jaw in surprise. How did you create the characters and storyline?
I found a support website for Mormon couples who were ex-swingers. Reading their candid stories and visiting a couple of swinger chat rooms really helped with shaping the characters and storyline. Given that I wrote the first draft in a month and the book was completely written two months later, I also believe as a Christian writer, that I couldn’t have done it without God’s leading.

"Honour Among All" is Christian fiction. Do you see yourself as a 'genre specific' author? What attracted you to this genre?
I do see myself writing only Christian fiction. As a reader, I’ve always found books in the genre uplifting and life-transforming.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing this story?
The most challenging aspect of writing the story was the research. Visiting swinger chat rooms was not something I had ever imagined myself doing. But I wanted the story to be authentic.

Did you learn anything about yourself as you were writing "Honour Among All"?
I learnt how important it was to know the source of my convictions and the courage sometimes needed to stand by them.

What do you hope your readers will take away from reading this book?
In as much as I wanted "Honour Among All" to be entertaining, the core message is that of redemption and restoration through the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ.

Why do you think your book "Honour Among All" is relevant in this day and age?
Like I had mentioned earlier, swinging is a modern-day issue in the Church and my prayer as I wrote the book was for it to minister to the few or many looking for a way out.

As a writer, do you experience writer’s block?  If yes, how do you deal with it?
Yes, I do. I often step away from the work and find something else to do.

Which do you prefer, writing with a computer, a mobile phone or old fashioned pen and paper? 
Most of my writing is done on a computer. I do carry a notepad with me at all times.

Have you always enjoyed writing? Did you see yourself becoming a writer as a child?
Even though writing has been a big part of my life for many years, I didn’t see myself becoming a writer.

What’s the best perk of having published your novella? 
It’s reading the feedback from readers.

Did you experience any challenges with the writing and publishing process?
Due to the topic of the book, it was difficult to find beta readers and someone to edit the book. At one point, I had questioned if I was doing the right thing.

What influences your writing?
Stories I hear, books read and definitely scripture.

What was the last book you read?  
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. I’m working on the sequel to Honour Among All and I needed to read a book where one of the characters suffered from amnesia as a result of an accident.

Who are your favourite authors and what books have spoken to you most? 
I love books by Francine Rivers. She was the first Christian author I read. Her book Redeeming Love is an all time favourite. I’ve also enjoyed books by Abimbola Dare and UnomaNwankwor.

E-books versus physical books. What's your preference?
Physical books have an advantage since I love their feel and smell.

What is next for you as a writer? 
I’m currently working on the sequel to Honour Among All.  It’s another novella titled Secret Things.It’s the story of Debo and Adele, two of the characters from Honour Among All.

What are your words of advice for aspiring writers? 
While learning the craft of writing is important, it’s also important to write those stories that engage both your head and your heart. Give readers characters who make them feel something.

Where would you want to be, ten years from now?
By His grace, alive, in good health while writing stories that bring joy to me and others.

Thank you for your time.
Thank you for the feature. And all the best in your writing journey, too.

To purchase a copy of "Honour Among All", go to:
Amazon (Kindle) or Barnes & Noble (Nook) or Kobo

To interact with Vivian Kay, please contact her on:

Website: http://viviankay.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VivianKayAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/VivianKayAuthor

Saturday, February 08, 2014

I'm Officially an Adult

Hello friends. Yes, I know it's been a while. I've been busy behind the scenes, so I have neglected this space. I do apologise, I didn't mean to. I've been juggling a lot of stuff in my personal life and in my business life, but I'm grateful and I wouldn't have it any other way.

On the personal front, I became a mother again (yay!) so I had to take time off to go on maternity leave (lol!), take time to bond with my new baby and adjust once again to a whole new set-up in my household. It's been very interesting going from mum-of-one to mum-of-two. At first I didn't know what to expect, whether things will be the same as the first time around, whether things will be different, whether I would feel more confident because I've done this before. But like all things, somehow there is more grace provided for the new challenge. It's not easy because my workload has increased, but then my joy and blessings have increased too!

On the writing and business front, I've been busy too. I've had some more flash fiction stories published on Brittle Paper; see
I also did a feature on my journey from Blogger to Author  as well as a couple of interviews with Konnect Africa and Busayo Sotunde

I've been working on Accomplish Press too, in the months before I took a break. We've completely redesigned the website and updated our publishing focus and services for writers. If you're interested in taking your ideas from inside your head to books reaching your audience, then check us out @ Accomplish Press. We can help make your dream come true.

As for the title of this blog post, well.... I came to this realisation as I was sitting in a taxi the other day. For the past couple of weeks (or months) I'd been thinking about how much my life has changed and evolved. In the beginning of my life story, I was the child, needing the parents to do their job and look after me. Now I look at my life and I'm the wife and mother, looking after my children and taking care of my parents. Isn't that something to think about? To realise that the carefree days of childhood are over, the awkward growing up phase of teenage is gone, and the self-discovery phase of the twenties are gone too. Now I'm a proper adult, with responsibilities that aren't going anywhere. I may take a break from working or from my responsibilities from time-to-time but I can't rewind time and go back to being a child. Scary! One thing I know, this adulthood business is not for wimps.

Well, that's it for now. Thanks for reading my blog and I wish you a wonderful weekend and a brilliant month of February.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Book Giveaway for November!

My writer friends and I are pleased to present the Naija Sister Writers Giveaway! One very blessed reader will be able to win not one, but four great books written by four Nigerian female writers.

1) An Unexpected Blessing by Unoma Nwankwor
2) Daughters Who Walk This Path by Yejide Kilanko
3) The Small Print by Abimbola Dare
4) Nothing Comes Close by Tolulope Popoola

 All the books are paperbacks (not e-books) signed by the authors and they will be shipped to you directly! If this sounds too-good-to-miss (because it is), then read on, and click to enter the contest!



Terms and Conditions

  • The contest is open to all regardless of country of residence, throughout the month of November 2013.
  • Please note that contestants are required to complete all steps in this giveaway.
  • By entering this giveaway, contestants agree to abide by the picture requirement.
  • Completing each step earns contestants ten points:
  • Please follow the authors on Twitter. Twitter handles are: @YejideKilanko, @TolulopePopoola, @bimbylads, @unwankwor
  • Please tweet about the giveaway or share the link on Facebook
  • Please note that the winner will be required to send a picture of the gift package when received. By submitting your picture to the NAIJA SISTER WRITERS giveaway, you agree to allow your image to be used for marketing purposes by the contest sponsors.
  • Please enter using the entry box at the bottom of the page.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you for entering the competition and all the best!

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Flash Fiction - Old Flames

“I would like you to meet my fiancée, Gbemi.” Tony said by way of introduction. I had seen the lady when she walked into the hall on his arm. 

I smiled at her as I took the hand she offered. 

“Hello Gbemi. It’s lovely to meet you,” I said. 

“Same here,” she replied, also smiling. She was very beautiful, tall and slim, with an oval face and high cheekbones. “Tony has told me so much about you.” 

Has he now? I wondered, my heart beating faster. Did he tell her the whole truth about us? Our complicated history… 

I realised she was still talking. “Sorry we didn’t get a chance to talk at the engagement party, but I’m sure we’ll be seeing you at the wedding.” 

“Unfortunately, I can’t attend.” I said. “I’m relocating to South Africa in a few days’ time.” 

Tony’s face fell. “Really? For how long?” 

“I’ll be there for a year, at least.” I replied, fidgeting with my necklace. 

“Oh that’s a shame. I was hoping we could catch up afterwards, you know… all three of us… it will be just like old times…” 

This guy could not be serious. 

I cut him short, laughing nervously. “Noooo, that won’t be necessary. You’ll be newly-weds, I’m sure you won’t want a third wheel coming along.” 

Gbemi was about to say something when I spotted my date coming towards us with my drink. I seized my chance to escape. Intense memories were about to suffocate me. 

“I have to go now, congrats again on your upcoming marriage. I hope you have lots of beautiful kids!” 

I smiled at both of them and walked away quickly, hoping I sounded more confident than I felt. 

I put thoughts of Tony out of my head and moved on with my life. I told myself that I should be happy that he was getting married. After all, I was the one that broke up with him when things were getting too serious. 

I finalised my plans, travelled to South Africa, and buried myself in my work. Then, four months later I got his email saying his wedding had been cancelled.

(c) Tolulope Popoola 2013

Monday, May 13, 2013

Updates: Flash Fiction, Reviews and Guest Post

Hello friends,

I've been a bit down in the last few weeks, but still busy trying to keep working on different projects. In the meantime, here's an update of some of the things I've had published (fairly) recently:

Flash Fiction on Brittle Paper:
I've had a second story published on Brittle Paper here: Because of Him

If you missed the first one, here it is: Betrayal (a prize goes to anyone who can name the song that inspired me to write that story)

Guest Post on The Creative Penn:
I had a guest post published on The Creative Penn (yay!) about Creating an Author Press Kit. Click to read it here: Book Marketing: Creating Your Author Press Kit

Vitabu Books featured "Nothing Comes Close" as their Book of the Month for April. Read the feature here: Vitabu |Book of the Month

Book Review by Under the Neem Tree:
Many thanks to Ndeye, the blogger behind Under the Neem Tree, a blog about books by authors of African descent and books written about Africa. She wrote this lovely review of Nothing Comes Close: Nothing Comes Close - A love story with an African Twist 

Thanks for dropping by! Wishing you a wonderful week.

Tolu


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

On Writing: Finish What You Start


One of my biggest problems as a writer is finishing what I’ve started. I always have lots of different ideas in

my head at the same time, so I have a hard time committing to one project. Perhaps you’re like me and you have folders full of abandoned novels and short stories on your computer? Or maybe you started a few blogs, but gave up on updating them as often as you wanted to? 

Sometimes, an idea comes to me and I rush to my laptop or to start working on it. Or maybe I’m out and I only have my notebook to jot in but the idea gets me excited and I can't wait to start. But somehow, I get distracted or run out of steam. And then I abandon that project and start another one. 

Perhaps someone else has that same problem? You’ve got plenty of great ideas, but unfortunately, your motivation disappears just as the inspiration fizzles out and you’re left with a bunch of outlines and first drafts that aren’t going anywhere. Here are some tips I’ve come across that have helped me with finishing my projects: 

1) Don't Start Random New Projects:  It’s extremely tempting to start working on a new idea when it first pops into your mind. But you must resist the urge to begin anything new when you’re already swamped with unfinished work. You have to put a stop to that habit to break it. Otherwise, you’ll keep repeating the pattern and all new projects will lose its appeal and end up in the unfinished heap along with everything else. 
Instead, find a notebook, or create a document on your computer, to store ideas. Whenever you have a new idea, put it in this “idea bank” while you’re working on something else. When you’re ready, you can always come back to the ideas in that bank. 

2) Assess Your Current Projects:  Go through all your current works-in-progress. Make a list of the ones you feel are most valuable; then separate them from the ones you may come back to later, and the ones that don’t have any merit. Be realistic with each project. Is there anything that’s just not worth completing? Are those characters so clichéd that they’re not worth holding on to? Is the plot of that novel so weak that it would not hold up an 80,000 word story? Rather than keeping old projects hanging around, clear the useless ones out, and free up some space in your head and your laptop for new and worthy ones. 

3) Choose One Project to Focus On:  Now look through your list of useful ideas, and pick one to work on. You have to make one project your priority. This doesn’t mean that you can’t work on anything else, but it does mean that your “priority project” (whether it’s a novel, a blog or a newsletter), is the one that’s going to take most of your time and energy. You might have different criteria for choosing which project is your priority. You could choose to start with: the shortest project (for example a 3,000 word short story, not a 100,000 word novel). Or you may want to pick up the project that you’ve already put the most time into, so that’s probably getting close to finished.Whichever project you choose, commit to seeing it to the end, before choosing another one to prioritise.

4) Set Some Targets:
If you’re working on a blog, you can decide to set an hour every two days to work on your posts, and schedule them for publishing. Some small writing projects could be finished in a weekend, for example a short story. Most writing projects, though take more time to complete and you won’t be able to finish them in a day, or a week. You’ll need to set some targets to keep you on track. For example: completing a major section of a novel, writing a set number of words every day, finishing a first draft of a novel in six months, or scheduling a certain number of posts for your blog each week. Make sure you hold yourself accountable and reward yourself when you achieve your targets. 

5) What do you do with your “finished” project? It’s worth thinking about the goal for your finished project. If you’re working on a short story, what do you plan to do with it when you finish it? Would you save it for an anthology? Submit it to a magazine? Or enter it into a competition? If you’re working on an ebook, would you publish and sell it on the Kindle store? Would you offer it for free on your website? What about the novel, what’s it going to do for your writing career when it’s finished? Picture the end result that you want to achieve and work towards it.

Remember, half-finished projects are not going to do anything for you. Nobody will buy an incomplete novel. You cannot submit an unfinished short story. Whether your writing ambitions involve hitting the New York Times bestseller list or living from the income from your books, you do have to finish writing what you start so that they can add value to your career.

(c) Tolulope Popoola


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Flash Fiction: My Discovery

I had to know the truth. They had lied to me. A simple enquiry before a routine blood test had revealed that I wasn’t who I assumed I was. 

My best friend had been in an accident and I wanted to help her by giving blood. I knew the hospital where the ambulance had taken her, my family used the same one. It was the first time I went alone, and when I informed the nurse in reception about my mission, she went to retrieve our family’s file. That was when I saw it. 

I stormed out of the hospital and raced home as fast as I could. The wind rushing past me on my scooter echoed the thoughts in my head. I should have known; I’ve been so blind and stupid! How could I not see it? My parents, no they were not my parents or were they? I called them Mum and Dad. They looked after me, taught me all I know and told me I was their precious daughter. But look, as it turns out, they’ve been keeping secrets all my life. 

No wait, since I was two years old when they brought me home. They had kept the truth away from me for fourteen years. 

I tore through the open gate, flung the scooter aside, raced up the stairs and in through the front door. Mum, or should I still call her that, was setting the table for dinner. 

She looked up, smiled and was about to say something when I blurted out: 

“Am I adopted?”


(c) Tolulope Popoola

Image credit: neconebooks.com

Thursday, April 04, 2013

On Writing: Having a Mentor

When I first decided I was going to be a writer, there was a whole new uncharted territory ahead of me. I’d gone through school, university and the early part of my working life doing subjects in Accounting, Economics, Business and Finance. I knew very little about creative writing as a job so I really had a lot to learn. I’ll always be grateful to the people who encouraged me along by patiently teaching me things I needed to know. They are my writing mentors. 

Image credit: http://www.sheffield.ac.uk
In any new venture or endeavour we want to take, it’s always helpful when we have someone who has been there, to teach us. This is very true in the writing business as well. It can be a lonely job, sitting at your desk for hours working on something, but you don’t know if it’s any good. It can be frustrating trying to learn about a new industry but you just can’t seem to get the hang of it. Or you get bombarded with so much information that it’s simply easier to get discouraged and give up. Here’s where a mentor can step in to keep you on the right track, and help you feel like you’re not alone. 

Benefits of having a writing mentor 

1) Getting impartial feedback on your work - A writing mentor is someone who can read your work and tell you what they really think about it. They can help you by giving constructive criticism. It’s easy for anybody to say your work is nice, but it’s not really helpful feedback. A writing mentor would be able to tell you what’s good about your work and what needs improving. This type of good feedback is exactly what you need to grow as a writer. 

2) Inspiration - A writing mentor should be someone who has achieved some goals that you’re aiming for. That way, they can encourage and inspire you to do the same. They can help you clarify your dreams, give you realistic ways of doing things and motivate you to keep going when you feel it’s too difficult. 

3) Avoid mistakes they’ve made - We all make mistakes when we’re learning something new, that’s very normal. But you can learn from the mistakes that someone else has made so you don’t have to repeat them. A writing mentor can show you what pitfalls to avoid, so you don’t waste time and effort (or even money) doing things that will not benefit you. 

4) Increase your confidence - A mentor would give your confidence a boost when you need it. It’s very encouraging when you get great feedback from somebody you admire and trust. 

5) Connections and Opening doors - A mentor could be someone who has built good relationships with other people in the writing and publishing industry. That could be useful if you need an introduction to certain people. 

6) Help you achieve your dreams - If you’re attempting something new, there will be lots of people who won’t understand it and would criticise or even tell you that it’s impossible. However, a mentor will be someone who will tell you that it is possible to achieve your dreams. He or she would be proof that you can follow your dreams and make them come true. 

7) A mentor may open your eyes to possibilities -  A mentor could show you ideas and opportunities that you may not have been aware of. They might be able to push you beyond your own knowledge, give you ideas to boost your skills and help you match your strengths to new tasks. 

So how do you choose a mentor? 
For me, I started by reading the blogs of writers I admired, and I set up a Facebook group to meet writers like me. Soon, I developed friendships with some of the people I followed and it grew from there. You can of course, have more than one mentor if you want. 

If you need help with writing and crafting stories, find someone that you admire their style of writing. If you need help with getting connections in the industry, look for someone who is well established and popular. Bear in mind though, that a mentor like that would be quite busy so they might have limited interaction with you. 

You can start online. Look for writers on Facebook or Twitter. Check their bio and read their blogs. There is no harm in asking – the worst they can do is say no. Don’t be a stalker, if they don’t respond to you, move on and find someone else. 

Every mentoring relationship is different. Try to have something useful to offer your mentor too, so that it is mutually beneficial relationship. You may decide to meet in person, or not. Nowadays you can interact with people in many different ways, so while it is great, you may not need to meet your mentor in person. I've made friends with so many people who have been helpful to me in my work, even though we've never met in person.

And of course, being friendly and polite goes a long way!

(c) Tolulope Popoola