“If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!” – Richard Branson
“Never say No to what your gift says YES to.” – Steve Harris
I remember vividly the first time saying ‘yes’ changed my life and determined the course of my career.
It was the year 2012. I had just graduated from the University and I needed to do something with myself. I didn’t want to be idle, and I was ready for any opportunity, including marketing even though I had never marketed anything before in my life.
I got a marketing job at a jewelry company in the city of Ibadan. When I went for the job interview, I had no idea what it entailed, but because I was determined to work, I jumped at the opportunity. I remembered clearly how I combed the city of Ibadan looking to sell pieces of wire jewelry ( a type of jewelry which was very unknown at the time). I persisted and kept at it though and that led to the second opportunity which I said yes to and which permanently changed the trajectory of my life.
It was still the same company. The company had a jewelry arm and also a magazine. At that time, I already discovered my talent and love for writing but I had not fully explored it. The manager for the company then approached me and pitched writing for the magazine. I immediately jumped at the offer (at least it beats roaming the streets in the sun). I said yes happily, even though I had never written professionally and I had no idea what I was doing. That single positive response changed my story.
From that point onwards, I started recognizing the power of my talent and how I can milk it to live a full life. Today, that is what I do fully.
A lot of times, I have said yes to opportunities even though I had no idea what I was doing and this had given me access to a lot of people and expanded my horizon. The first time I was approached to write a children story, the first time I was approached to transcribe, the first time I was approached to ghostwrite a book, the first time I was approached to speak at an event….there have been many firsts and those firsts have helped me explore who I am to the fullest.
Saying yes can lead to success and it can also lead to failure, but the joy in life is in trying and being willing to take risks and fail if need be.
Yes is a powerful word which I am learning to explore in my life. I have discovered that life is too short to be lived halfway.
Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary – Jim Rohn
I have always found a recurrent opinion about people I work and interact with, and it is the fact that they get impressed by the level of knowledge I possess and the words I use when I talk or tell stories.
I could always be found to use unpopular words and sometimes even I get impressed by the type of words I use. By the nature of my work, I deal in words and because of that, I need to constantly deposit into my bank of words. Consequently, I read a lot.
One of the things you’re most likely to see me doing is either writing or reading. From the point when I knew me, I had always had a love affair with books. I started with reading the Pacesetters Series to James Hadley Chase to Harlequin, and now there is a lot more diversity in the content I consume.
What all these do for me is give me a lot of reference points to telling stories for my clients. It gives me the ability to talk about anything without having to first do endless research. If I need to do any research at all, it is to expand the knowledge I already have. This has constantly played out in my work, ergo, clients are impressed by my capabilities.
I meet a lot of writers who say they don’t read and I wonder what they write about if they don’t. You cannot write in a superior way if you’ve not honed your reading skills. There is a lot of competition out there and you need every arsenal in your power to win the battle. How are you different?
Again, if you want to be paid superior fees for your services, you have to be prepared to do something extra, go the extra mile and be better than everyone. That is the standard.
Your fight is different – John Obidi
I urge you today to fight in a way which will guarantee your victory.
In the course of my career as a writer and in my journey as an entrepreneur, I have had different brand identities. Years ago, when I first decided to make this a serious business, I worked with a designer who came up with a logo and business card for me. The first two pictures you see is the result. That was in 2012/2013.
At that time, it was safe to say I had no clue what I was about. What I knew was that I had a talent for writing, and I was willing to explore that talent and watch where it would take me. I had no clear cut destination, but I was determined to go on the ride. Different experiences later, I had a better understanding of what I was about, but even with that clarity, I still had a long way to go before I was to come into the full expression of my talent.
Years later, I decided to rebrand, give my company a new name, and again, my designer and I came up with what you see in this second picture. That was in 2016.
This time, I was seemingly less oblivious and more in control of the outcome I want. I plowed on. In the course of that journey, I discovered what I am truly capable of, and most importantly, I discovered what I shouldn’t waste my time doing.
Since the beginning of this year, I have explored further a larger scope of our capabilities and our deliverables as a company, and to that end, I knew a new brand identity has to be created. This time, I decided to make it more permanent in a way, so I reached out to my trusted friend and badass brand creator, Fola Folagbade of Pholar Studios. Together, we came up with an exquisite identity which I can’t wait to show you all.
Why change at all?
Before I do that though, I have to intimate you with the name change, why I chose that name and the problems I hope our services will solve in society.
Over the years, I saw some things that saddened me and at the same time made me very angry. I saw a dearth of excellent writers and a lot of mediocrity. I saw people who call themselves writers just to put food on their table, unwilling to actually do the work that will make them exceptional. I heard clients complain about giving their works to people and having to scratch everything and pay me to redo because of lack of excellence.
I was really tired so, I decided to put systems in place that will ensure that people have access to excellent writing whenever they wish it. This was what birthed Maggie Smart Media Company.
What do we offer?
The “media company” encapsulates all the deliverables our company provide for our clients. Our services include:
Transcription (audio to text and video to text)
Other book deliverables (book review, book description, and writing of blurb)
To this end, I and my team of writers are determined to work together to provide the very best services for our clientele. Hence, our new brand identity reveals the heart behind delivering our services.
Anyone who has worked with me would say one thing about me; I am interested in a client’s work and my interest goes way beyond just the service I am providing at the moment. The gist of the matter is that I care, deeply.
I want to extend this same care to you and your work. I’ll love to work with you in any of the capacities mentioned above. Just reach out, and we will get the ball rolling.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!!
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.
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.”
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
On Facebook, I asked writers following me to ask any questions they wish to be answered, and the first question goes thus:
“How can I possibly write a book that captivates its reader from start to finish?”
THIS is my answer:
The ideas, the inspiration to write and the motivation must, of course, come from within you.
It starts by being true to yourself.
First, you need to choose the type of writer you want to be. Do you gravitate towards fiction writing or would you rather be a non-fiction writer? If fiction, you decide on your genre. There are lots and lots of genre to choose from. From romance to horror to mystery to historical to detective genres, you have a wide range to choose from.
You can start by experimenting on different levels. Start with the kind of books you like to read. What type of books gives you joy? What type of books inspires you? What type of books would you like to see your name on?
Then, you move on to the point you want to address specifically in the book. This is also important for fiction writers. Your story must revolve around a central theme. What topics are you passionate about or very good at? Start from there, and explore.
For the non-fiction writers, this is pretty easy as you can just focus on your area of expertise. Decide what you’re very good at, and then start writing to further develop it and up your game.
Another thing that is absolutely necessary is that you decide who you want to write for before you even write the first word. What kind of people make up your target audience? What specific problems do you want your book to solve?
For fiction, what kind of books would you like to read that has not been written yet? Or how can you add your own stamp on a previously written idea?
This is very important as it will help you sell when it comes time to. So, before you pen anything down, decide WHO you are writing for.
Ask yourself these questions:
For fiction writers.
I. How can I make an existing story better?
Have you read The Twilight Series and The Fifty Shades of Grey Series? I heard that The Fifty Shades of Grey actually started as a fan-fiction. The author, E.L James, loved The Twilight Series so much that she wrote stories on her blog channeling the characters in the series. Today, her books are bestsellers and have been adapted into movies.
So, do you have a story you particularly love? Think of a way to make it better and appear in a totally different light.
II. What can I tweak or add to make a good story different?
Should I add an element of supernatural to a perfectly modern story? Can I modernize an old school story? Be creative with this and you’ll find a way.
III. Is there a story that has never been written before?
Who knows? You might just be the one to write that story.
For non-fiction writers
I. What will save people a lot of time, effort and help them make money?
II. What value can I give that has never been given before?
III. What is it I wish I knew when I first started? (in my business or career)
IV. How can I write a pre-existing book with a different perspective?
Once you know what to write and who you’re writing for, you can continue.
Another point that is truly essential to you writing a captivating story is Research.
Research is key. If you want to write a book that your audience will find captivating, you have to do your research thoroughly. That is non-negotiable.
If you want your book to go far, solve the exact problem you want it to solve, and continue to resonate in the minds of the readers long after they have read it, then you cannot joke with your research.
Think of Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad; think of Anthony Robbins’ Awaken the Giant Within; think of Dale Carnegie’s How to win friends and influence people; think of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series; think of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series – these are all bestsellers. What made them different from the millions of other books out there? The ability of the writer to give you exactly what they promised – that cannot be achieved without in-depth research.
Do you have enough knowledge about the topic or story you’re trying to write? Do you have enough information/understanding of the subject you intend to tackle?
These days, readers expect a high degree of legitimacy and detail in their books. They want to feel that when writers describe exotic locations, the firepower of a deadly weapon or the complex inner workings of an exclusive trade or profession; that they know what they are talking about.
They expect you, as a writer, to be familiar with every aspect of the world you are narrating. So when it comes to tackling your book, you have to be honest and ask yourself: do I know enough about the setting, the era, the lifestyles or professional environment of the characters to be able to write a book which is substantial? Do I have enough information, know-how to tell people how to better their lives and career?
Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to know everything in this world before you write a book, but you have to be ready to do your research and get enough information, enough knowledge to share with your readers.
If you’re writing a historical drama, do you know what people wore in times gone by? Can you describe their homes, customs and lives in detail? If you’re tackling a crime story, do you know what happens in a postmortem or how detectives investigate a murder? If your heroine works as a reporter, can you recreate the atmosphere, language and backdrop of a newspaper office? Can you say how the job of a reporter differs from that of, say, a sub-editor?
If not, then you’ll have to do some research. It may be time consuming but any period spent getting that information is critical in giving your work credibility.
Many new writers often see research as a chore. But it does not need to be burdensome or dull. It’s often fascinating and you’ll find yourself having great fun learning new or unusual things.
If you get on the internet and couldn’t find what you are looking for, then look for someone who knows what you want or scrap that idea all together. It is better to not write that part than to write a non-convincing scene or book.
In these days of instant worldwide information at the touch of a button, it’s possible to find out just about anything; just do your research.
This information is culled from my book, The Smart Writer’s Handbook. You’ll get a lot more in-depth knowledge from the book. In fact, all you need to write and publish your first book. You can get the eBook HERE.
If you have any further questions, please ask below and I’ll answer them all soonest….xoxo