Va va voom

Va va voom!

As you aspire to be an author, you should view life itself as a writer would.

All experiences, both your own and other people’s, whether happy, sad, frustrating or tragic should be seen and examined as potential material for you to use. I am not saying you should exploit people’s pain, but your pain and the pain of others could be a good fodder for your books.

I am such a follower of this rule that most times when friends and family are discussing around me, if they don’t want to see their story in my next book, they warn me not to share or write about it (Yes, I’m baddoo like that…lol).

This is especially important for anyone who plans to be a novelist or a fiction writer. Everything around you should be seen as a potential subject for a new story.

In order to make the most of what is happening around you, you should try to use all your senses all the time. Nothing should escape your observation. You should become an inquiring person. Ask yourself questions about why things are being done, the background to
events, the circumstances that surround them and the reaction of both those involved and those merely observing.

There are ideas for stories, if only you can recognize them.

The truth is that even if you write fiction, your story must be believable enough for your readers to relate to. Except you want to go all out and become a fantasy writer, then your stories must have the believability
factor. That way, your readers can relate and bond with your characters.

A reader had this to say about my bestselling book, Beyond Now



“I find it classy and very warming, its more like you are speaking to lives!! Not disgusting, the choice of words are gud and you were diplomatic in choosing places not some random people that will write places that never exited in a City

This is a typical Nigerian life but highly classic
Loads of love, am not just a mentee( not sure if this word exists) but am now a fan🤟🏼😇😇”

You want to get to the level where readers can gush about your books and become instant fans! Create that va va voom effect always. That is the height. That is when you’ve done your job.

In my book, The Smart Writer’s Handbook, I asked some questions which will help you gain clarity in writing your books and turn readers into instant fans.

I leave you with this; “your readers are the tank in your writing vehicle. You want to constantly fill that tank up with quality fuel.”

I have been conditioned

I have been conditioned….

I would have beaten my son black and blue this afternoon, but…

This afternoon, when I got back from church, I decided to have a cup of beverage before food got ready. When I was done, I asked my 4 year old to take the breakable cup to the kitchen. He did so.

A few minutes later, I asked him to take something else to the kitchen and the next thing I heard was the sound of something breaking. I quickly ran in and saw the cup I just used on the floor, in broken shards.

After he explained what happened, I realised it was a mistake. I quickly swept up the broken shards.

While sweeping, a thought occurred to me. In the days of our parents, the child would have been beaten black and blue for breaking that cup, and that is what we have been conditioned with as adults.

Even now, as grown as I am, I still feel extremely guilty when I break things. Why? I’ve been conditioned to feel that way.

That particularly is not where I am going with this. I want to tie this in with failure.

Most of us have been conditioned to feel extremely bad and disappointed in ourselves when we fail. We have been conditioned to see failure as the enemy rather than a helping hand.

Failure, for some of us usually means giving up. When we fail at something, we refused to try again. We see it as the end of the road.

Today, I want to challenge us to a different thought process. What if we see failure as feedback? Failure is just trying to let you know that you can try to do things in another way. You can think outside the box, change your methods, your approach, and then experience a different reality.

Failure is our friend.

Let’s begin to view it that way and it will make all the difference in our approach to our works and how we view life.

Of course, I’m not advocating mediocrity, but sometimes after trying all we could, we could still experience failure. What then do we do? We should see it as feedback and act accordingly.

Does this make any kind of sense? Let me know your thoughts.

Ready to Rumble

I am ready to rumble….

Today, I turn 16 and this is the day I plan to get my very first kiss.

16 is already looking a lot promising than 15. For one, I’ve got my very own Clyde.

I met Tony last week in church. His family just moved into the neighborhood and thankfully, his dad chose my church for the whole family to attend.

We saw each other for the first time during our youth Sunday school hour and immediately our eyes met, I knew he was the man for me.

My virgin heart did a little flip-flop and i had this delicious tingling all over my body. That was all it took. That was the beginning of our roller-coaster relationship.

Tony is such a perfect gentleman. We don’t go to the same school, so it’s not been easy to find time to be together. We try to meet in Onome, my best friend’s house after school. Onome has a room to herself and her parents are usually not home, so that plan works some of the time.

My biggest challenge with Tony is getting him to kiss me. Even utilizing every feminine wiles I possess, he refused to. After much coaxing, he promised to kiss me on my sixteenth birthday, and here we are.

Tony is older than me, he’s 18 already and a part of me still feels he sees me as a little girl. Well, all that will be remedied today. I’ve been practicing with my old barbie doll and I think I’ve got the hang of this kissing business.

Bonnie is so ready to rumble. All I need now is my Clyde to figure that out.

I’m tired of Tony being my imaginary boyfriend. I’m tired of thinking up fantasies in my head.

Tony, don’t you see me looking at you?

I’m 16 now, and ready to rumble.

#fiction
Maggie Smart, bestselling author of BeyondNow.

Love Letter

Love Letter

Dear Maggie,

I have been observing you for long and I must confess, my heart throbs every time I see your face. Your smile captivates my spirit and I live to put a smile on your face.
I can’t but love you. If loving you is a crime, I want to be jailed forever!
Sincerely yours,
Your secret admirer.

I smiled as I finished reading the crumpled up paper. It had been shoved into the tiny opening above my desk. It was the first thing that caught my eye as I sat down to prepare for the day’s lectures.

“What does it say, Maggie?” My best friend, Dammy asked, bouncing up and down on her toes in excitement. I ignored her, trying to figure out where the note came from. Who wrote it?

My eyes made a quick stroll round the class. Could it be Elisha? He had never made a secret of how he felt about me. I saw that he was looking at me funny, but when our eyes met and I smiled, he quickly looked away. No, Elisha was too shy to pull this off.

I dismissed him as I took another casual stroll. My eyes landed on HIM but I quickly looked away.

In my heart, I knew who I wanted it to be, but my mind shied away from the thought cos I didn’t want to be disappointed. I didn’t want the soft fetters of my tentative hope cut off. Could he be the one? Does he secretly love me?

My eyes refused to obey the command of my mind, and it took another casual stroll to where he sat. He was talking and laughing with his friends, paying me no mind. My treacherous heart did a somersault as our gazes suddenly collided. He winked at me and gave me the most beautiful smile. I turned away quickly.

Could he be the one? Does he love me secretly? I’ll have to do a little bit of investigation today to figure out who wrote this letter.

“Oh, let it be Ahmed. Oh, let it be Ahmed.” My heart beat in sync with those words over and over again.

#fiction
Maggie Smart, bestselling author of  BeyondNow

Wishes, Hope and Action

Today, I want to share with you the power of wishes, hope and action.

In the beginning of this year, one of my wishes was to get more speaking engagements. I wanted to hold my own physical events and also be invited on various platforms to speak. I put a picture up on my vision board documenting that goal.

That was my wish, but did I fold my hands waiting for the wishes to come true? No, I took action.

The first thing I did was to invite an influencer in my field over to my city. The influencer posted about the meeting and it drew crowd. Those who didn’t know about me got to know about me through that particular training. That was a strategy.

The second thing I did was to keep feeding my following. I kept sharing and sharing, and sharing, most times, for free without expecting any remuneration. That was intentional.

Did I get those speaking engagements? No, but I was creating a ripple effect. People were noticing.

This December alone, I spoke at two different places, and I have started booking engagements for next year.

I had this to say about the first speaking engagement:

I went, I saw and I conquered

So, I have not shared about my speaking event at The Literary Festival because I’ve been swamped with work, and I also lost most of the pictures I took (story for another day).

However, now I have a little breather, so, let’s gist.

I was invited to speak as one of the panelists on a particular topic. I got to the venue, took some pre-talk pictures, was introduced and I did my thing. The panel was fun and I was thrilled by the opportunity to share my knowledge on starting out as a writer and dealing with some of the challenges we face as creatives.

After the talk, we took more pictures, connected with some new prospects, and I took my leave.

Later that night, I received a call from the convener. I assumed she wanted to appreciate me for coming, but alas, she was inviting me to come and speak again the next day on Self-Publishing. This was not part of the plan, but apparently, I made such an impression, they needed to learn more from me.

On Saturday, I passionately shared my journey to Self-Publishing. I got a lot more prospects and was able to share about my book, The Smart Writer’s Handbook.

Saturday was not the main gig, but it turned out to be the best time ever. I was called back because of how eloquent I was in sharing.

You see, you need to be so good you cannot be ignored.

My first speaking engagement was a hit back to back. I met some amazing people and expanded my network while doing what I love doing.

If you read through, you might have learned one or two things from that post.

Dear, it is not enough to hope and pray, you must take action and make sure everything you are doing is taking you one step closer to your goals.

Be so good you cannot be ignored.

Love,
Maggie.

P.S: before the end of the year, I am going to keep sharing about my resolutions for this year and how far I came in achieving them. Stay alert for my blog posts.

Becoming a Beta Writer

Becoming a “Beta” Writer

There’s no magic recipe here. No ginormous secrets. The fact is to become a better writer, you have to read better.

John Obidi, my mentor in matters of industry domination, reiterated this to me about a week ago. Coincidentally, that was exactly what I talked about in this week’s episode of The Authors Platform.

There’s no shortcut to becoming a better writer but to read and write more.

I once had a coaching student who I was working with on her writing ability. When she approached me and told me what the issue was, I gave her weekly writing and reading targets. She didn’t understood why I did that at first. She probably thought I would sit her down and start teaching her the rules of writing or something, but I’ve learnt that the best place to learn is in the place of doing.

Following my instructions critically, she was able to record exponential growth in her writing and speaking abilities.

Do not be too lazy or too busy to dive into and loose yourself in the pages of a good book. You never know what you might learn and how that knowledge can affect your growth as a writer.

Read and write more, and you will become a writer you are proud of, hands down.

Go to this LINK to check out this week’s episode of TAP where I talked more on reading as a writer. Don’t forget to subscribe to the channel to get more tips on how to standout as an author in the industry.

Keep winning….

I had a Dream

I almost gave up on my dream.

I am reading the book, The Alchemist presently and it made me reminisce of years past. I remembered that once upon a time, I almost gave up on my dreams.

Years ago, when I released my first book Wild Child; it was a paperback novel and I was so excited. There’s something about seeing your name on the back of a book cover. It inspires you, motivates you and just makes you so very proud of yourself. Oh, I was proud of myself all right.

I released the book into the world, launched it successfully and made the production money back just from the launch (oh, how that encouraged me), then it became time to actually sell and I became stumped.

You see, when I was working on the book, I had this vague idea that once I release my work into the world, marketing angels will just spread the word, the world will know about it immediately, and just like that, I will become an instant bestselling author. Alas, that turned out to be so far from the truth.

I launched and then I couldn’t sell. I took it to bookstores, talked to people about it and was able to sell some copies but nowhere near the 1,000 copies printed. To cut the long story short, I had to give away most of the books.

This eventually crippled my desire to pursue my dreams of becoming a writer. I didn’t see the need to write books I had no means of selling. I was truly crushed and couldn’t go on. For years, I hung my writing tools and refused to pen anything down. It took another visitation from the God of Dreams for me to awaken once more to my true potential. I knew at last that I could do nothing but write so I had to figure out ways to make it work. I finally did, and today, I am a bestselling author.

You see, sometimes a huge disappointment might have made you give up on your dreams. Maybe, you think the journey to success is too long, or maybe, you think the rigors of the journey are more than you can bear. I want to encourage you this day and tell you the journey is all part of the learning process. The journey makes the victory much sweeter and enjoyable. When you can look back on all you’ve gone through and you finally arrive at your destination, then you are excited that you made it.

Won’t you rather have a story to tell? The journey is good, and it is exactly what makes success worth having.

Don’t give up on your dreams. Fight to keep it alive and you will be glad you did so.

I wish you a sweeter journey to success.

Love,

Maggie.

Daily Lines 3

Prologue

The shadow moved restlessly where it stood. It watched the door across the street like a hawk watching for a lost and abandoned chick. The door still opened and closed too much for its liking. The shadow needed relative quiet and scarcity of movement to carry out its mission.

Photo by Barbara Alçada on Unsplash

The door opened yet again and voices carried over the wind. “Good night, Mama D. I hope your shift won’t be as difficult as mine. Watch out for the patient on bed 6 though. That one is touch and go.”

“No problem.” The one referred to as Mama D replied. “I’ll go read her case files now. She will be fine, eventually.”

“I really hope so. She’s been through so much. Her husband is a rock for standing by her despite it all.”

“That is what marriage should be. For better or for worse. We only pray it’s more of better and less of worse.”

“Yes, you are right. Speaking of marriage, how is your daughter? Hope marriage is treating her well?”

“Yes, my dear. She’s expecting her baby very soon. I am planning to go to her place when she delivers. That’ll be the first time I’ll be seeing her since she got married.”

“Yes, I believe you said she lives in the East with her husband? That must be tough. I hope her pregnancy wasn’t a difficult one?”

“Not as difficult as that. I only regret that I couldn’t see her more often to help. It is well.” Mama D sighed deeply.

“It is all for the best. As long as she’s happy in her marriage, then you have a lot to be thankful for.”

“Yes o, my sister. You are very right. I must go in now.”

“Okay. Good night. I pray you have a lovely shift.”

“Thank you, my dear.”

The door opened and closed once again and Mama D went back in. The other party she was speaking to cross the road and came within striking distance of the shadow. The shadow shrank back into the corner and prayed the bundle it carried not stir. The shadow relaxed fractionally as the woman moved away, entered her car and drove off.

The shadow’s eyes once more trained on the door across the street. The movements had reduced drastically and it watched for a few minutes more to be absolutely sure. After five minutes of watching and nothing happened, the shadow moved cautiously out of the darkness and approached the light.

Anyone observing would see it was a young woman carrying a bundle in her arms. She approached the door carefully, ready to bolt at any sign of life. Nothing moved or stirred.  She got to the door, opened it and carefully laid the bundle in her arms just inside the door. She closed the door, banged on it loudly, and ran back to the safety of the darkness. She merged with the shadows once more, became one of them, and watched as events unfolded.

 

This is a new story I am working on which will be released in December. I am excited about this because it is a matter close to my heart.

Can you guess what’s going on? What do you think is this woman’s story? What do you think the next scene will depict?

Take a guess and if you guess right, you’ll have a chance to win my bestselling book, Beyond Now. Take a wild guess people!!!

Daily Lines 2

Daily Lines

This is the second edition of Daily Lines. To read the first one, please go HERE

I’ll be sharing excerpts of some of my novels from time to time using the hashtag #DailyLines. This is in a bid to share my works with my readers and intimate you with some of my best books.

I will also share excepts from some of my favorite books, scenes that resonate with me and inspire me. I hope you’ll follow me on this journey and also share it with your friends.
I’ll also love to read your thoughts. Feel free to holla.

This is one of my favorite scenes from my bestselling book, Beyond Now.

++++++++

I followed him through the restaurant to the table reserved for us. Chris was seated there already, looking like a fine, tall glass of wine. He was dressed casually in jeans and a T-shirt. He looked good enough to eat. I sighed. I hope this will not be too difficult. My emotions are raw enough as it is.

He stood up and smiled as soon as he saw me. He had always been the perfect gentleman and that was one of the things that adhered him to me all those years ago. I steeled myself for the onslaught on my emotions. You couldn’t read what I was feeling on my face though, I was very calm on the outside.

“Hello, Chris.” I smiled.

“Bella. Wow, you look absolutely stunning.” He stared.

Exactly the kind of reaction I was looking for. I smiled again, cool as you please and sat down. He sat too, still staring.

“Thank you, Chris. You don’t look too bad yourself. How have you been?”

“Thanks. Not so great.”

I was not about to ask why. I think I have an idea though. “Hmm hmm.”

The waiter came to take our orders.

I ordered for a plate of Gizdodo and a bottle of water. Chris ordered same. I raised my eyebrows but said nothing. I was not in the mood for chit-chat.

“So…” I began, looking at him.

He sighed deeply. “Bella, I have so much to tell you. I don’t know where to start from.”

“Why don’t you start at the point where you said to my face that you were not the father of my baby? That would be a very good place to start.”

He sighed again and closed his eyes briefly. “Bella, I need you to be of an open mind and hear me out.”

I looked at him closely. I had never seen him this way. He looked genuinely worried and subdued. I decided to hear him out.

“I’m listening.”

Our water came and we paused as the waiter set everything up. He left and Chris started talking. I took a sip of water and sat back to listen and watch every of his facial expression closely.

“You must understand, Bella. That day you came to the house, I went completely out of my mind. Keep in mind that I was a teenager, barely out of high school, and you came to tell me I was to become a father? I didn’t even know who I was as a man, I was so not ready to be a father.

“All I could feel was panic, and all I thought to do was deny you and deny the existence of any pregnancy. I took the coward’s way out, I admit that. The fact is, if the situation is to repeat itself today, and the circumstances were exactly the same, I probably will do the exact same thing. I can’t sit here and lie to you and tell you I would have taken a different action. The truth is we were children and we were in over our heads.”

“Is that supposed to make me feel better? You sit here and you talk about us being children blah blah blah… I ceased being a child the moment I walked out of your room that day. I had to give birth to a baby when I was little more than a child myself and I had to do it all on my own. Don’t sit there and talk to me about you being out of your mind. Please.”

“I know, Bella. I’m not trying to justify my actions. I am trying to explain why I took those actions. I was not ready to shoulder that kind of responsibility.”

“And you think I was? I was seventeen years old Chris. Seventeen! How do you imagine I handled that? Unlike you, I didn’t have a choice. I couldn’t run away and pretend it didn’t happen. The baby was growing inside me.”

“I know. I’m very sorry.” He hung his head.

“Look at me, Chris. You’re sorry? Sorry? What do you imagine being sorry can solve? I’m sick of men making mistakes, then coming back saying they are sorry, and thinking that would make everything better. Your sorry isn’t worth shit.”

 

To get the full story, go HERE

HOW TO CREATE WINNING CHARACTERS FOR YOUR NOVEL

HOW TO CREATE WINNING CHARACTERS FOR YOUR NOVEL

Your characters are the mainstay of your novel. They are the bedrock. Without compelling and interesting characters, your novel is dead even before you begin writing. That is how important your characters are.

A character breathes life into a story; the complexities, the dynamism, the personality traits, the admirable or non-admirable qualities, these all work together to create a compelling and lovable character.

We have different types of characters just as you have in movies. You have:

  • The main character (this is who your story revolves around. Your main character might be more than one)
  • The supporting characters (as the name implies, they are there to support your main character. They could be round, flat, dynamic, static, etc)

Now, we’ve established how important your character (s) is, how then do you create a winning/relatable character?

I have some steps here to guide you through the process:

Appearance

What does your character look like? Tall, dark and handsome or a plain Joe? A drop dead gorgeous woman or a motherly woman? By the way, your characters are permitted to look ugly. Every character must not be Miss World, everyday people are not like that and the goal is to create a character every of your reader will feel some affinity with.

Character traits

What is the character of your character? What makes him/her tick? What character defects does he/she have? Is he too self-centered? Is she too demanding? Nobody on earth is perfect so make sure your character isn’t too.

Relationships

This is where your supporting characters come in. what type of relationships would your main character keep? Who are her friends, family, co-workers, and lovers? Who are his buddies, colleagues, or siblings? What type of friends does your character keep? Is your character a very social person? An extrovert or an introvert? Define your characters by the company they keep.

Photo by Julian Howard on Unsplash

History

A person’s history goes a long way in defining who the person will become. A character from a very rich background is likely to have a healthy respect for money and how it is spent. A character that has been to jail is more likely to distrust people. An orphan will likely have the innate fear of getting close to people. These are generalities, they are by no means absolute. A reader will love to know the background of your character.

Communication

How does your character communicate? Our personality to a large extent can be determined by the way we talk. What kind of words does your character use to express himself? Does she favor colorful words? Does she have distinctive words in her vocabulary? What is her style of speech? How about the sound of his voice; deep and commanding or soft spoken? Make sure your character’s communication style is distinctive and unique.

Relatable

It goes without saying that your character has to be relatable. I mean, we all love Superman, but how many people in life are born with superhuman strength? We love Edward Cullen in Twilight, but we have no idea what/how a vampire should be. Granted, you are writing fiction, but as much as possible, you need to infect a dose of ‘relatability’ in your characters. Let them feel like every day humans so the average Joe or Sally out there can see a piece of them in your character. Hence, they will find it easy to fall in love with your character.

Empathy

Develop your character in such a way that your readers can empathize with him/her. What physical/mental weakness must your character overcome? The goal is to make your readers feel something for your character. The more they empathize, the more they relate with your character, and the more your character is loved, which is the goal.

Thoughts

What are the inner workings of your character’s mind like? How does he/she think through a problem that has to be resolved? Is her internal thoughts different from what she says or do? Does this create conflict in her everyday life? You can make this as complicated as you want to bring another form of dynamism to your character’s traits.

Goals and dreams

What goals does your character want to achieve in your story? What is his passion in life? A person’s ambition usually goes a long way in determining his actions and informing his decisions in life. Do well to explore that option very well.

 

With these points, you can go on to develop an all-round ad very interesting character that any reader can fall in love with.

That is the goal – if your readers do not love your characters, then that story is going nowhere. Take time to develop your character and you will be glad you did so.

To read the post where I wrote about writing a captivating book, please click HERE