Ellwyn’s Blog

Time Management, What’s That?

Sorry I’ve been away, but here’s what I’ve been up to.

Okay, so I’ve returned to the classroom full time and I’m struggling to carve out space in my day for writing posts like this one.

Let me rephrase my original statement, I’m finding it difficult to carve out space in my day for creative writing. I’ve been writing plenty of lesson plans.

Right before I went back to work, I adjusted my daily schedule to look like this.

I wanted to direct my efforts on finishing up the ever-growing pile of manuscripts I’ve accumulated over the years. Pretty efficient right?

I thought so. I also believed I’d be able to tweak the schedule to encompass everything I wished to do in a week when I returned to work.

Well, it hasn’t worked out. I forgot how drained I am after working all day.

Image by mathey from Pixabay

(A wonderful impersonation of me when I get home from work! WAKE UP!!)

To get back on track, I’ve brainstormed strategies to include creative writing along with all the other stuff I need to do in my day.

Here’s what I’ve come up with: I need to stop cramming so much stuff into my schedule! At this point in my life, this should be a no-brainer, but every so often I must reexamine what I’m doing and remember this important tip.

I’m a slow learner sometimes!

Another simple trick I’ve come up with is to bring my laptop or journal to work and write during my lunch hour at least one day a week.

I’m also going to set up my folding table again with all the supplies I need to complete one manuscript at a time. This includes adding a timer and setting it for hour increments followed by a break. I was doing this several months back, and it worked splendidly.

List of Supplies:
Different colored pens
Pencils
Sticky notes File folders that have storyline ideas and research Robin Woods’ Prompt Me Novel (Tons of great ideas for writers in this workbook.)

I do have a writing desk, but I use it for composing lesson plans for other authors, book reviews, and loads of other things. Are you seeing a pattern here? Yeah, my mind is always going. Dare I say, visions of sugarplums fill my head even while I’m awake.

How do you carry out your creative writing schedule with a full-time job?

Marigold By: William G. Howard

Book Blurb:


In the year 2270, the Lyceum Mechaniska laboratory has produced androids—part robot, part human—called “InOrganics.” Marigold is one such creation, built with the purpose of assisting individuals who have experienced emotional or physical trauma.

However, Marigold has been acting strangely, even aggressively. When Marigold is accused of murder, she is in danger of being terminated. Despite what scientists believe, she is innocent of her crimes and is now on a mission to stop a virus from being released and adhere to the last words of a dying man by finding “the Pink Bunny.”

Detective Chabox Brignadoc has long been suspicious of Lyceum and the company’s behind-the-scenes behavior. Brignadoc must determine if Marigold is actually guilty of murder or if she’s the victim of conspiracy.

In an adventure that spans two continents, both Marigold and DCI Brignadoc are in a race against time to expose a deadly secret that could change the face of humanity forever.

About the Author:

William G. Howard’s fascination with storytelling began in childhood. After graduating from Temple University, he taught in Philadelphia for twenty years before semi-retiring in 2013 to devote himself to writing. William is a member of the Bucks County Writers Group and author of The Eye of Hermes: A Minerva Novel. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife Bonnie.

You’ve Published Your Book, Now What?

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/illustrations/board-school-immediately-soon-1647323/

First, let me say, congratulations! It’s no minor success to self-publish your own book.

I’d like to share tips and resources to help you on your writing and publishing journey. 

Debut children’s authors often ask me how to proceed after they publish their book. FYI: Start building excitement about your book before it’s published. Check out this article on Reedsy for tips on how to prepare a successful book launch.  

Don’t despair. You can still get the word out. This is a tricky process that takes time to learn.

One little caveat before we dig in, most of us won’t become international best-selling authors. Sorry about that, but there it is. As a child, I had visions of my stories inspiring major motion pictures with A List stars. Ah, youth!

Why am I telling you this? I don’t want you to grow discouraged when the sales aren’t flooding in. Writing for youngsters is a labor of love that involves commitment. A robust platform that garners a significant audience won’t happen overnight. I’ve been at this for six years, and my numbers are modest.

Alright, here’s the list of tips and resources:

1. Patience:

I have trouble with this one. The public doesn’t understand the time, dedication, and money it takes to produce a picture book.

One Halloween, a parent suggested I give out my books instead of candy. As you might imagine, I stewed over that remark for a while. There’s a popular misconception that most authors earn a lot of money. If only!

They say once you’ve self-published, you’re a business. For me, self-publishing is an expensive hobby. Don’t get me wrong, hobbies are entertaining and an enjoyable form of self-care. Extra-curricular activities keep our minds and spirits healthy.

To quote Master Yoda, “Patience, you must have my young Padawan.”

2. Time:

As you know, you must carve out time to write; you must also carve out a flexible timeline to succeed.

3. Define What Success Looks Like:

As I mentioned earlier, most of us won’t become international bestsellers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find success. Although my book sales aren’t lighting my bank account on fire, my stories touch reader’s lives. How do I know this? Reader reviews and the personal letters they write to me.

4. Connections:

We all want book sales, but personal connections are the strongest form of currency. You can’t sell books without them. Many experts recommend authors pay for ads on Facebook and Bookbub and run Giveaways. Do that if you can manage it but also connect with people. Invest in them.

Sometimes, I’ve found that if I pay someone for a service, my relationship with them is stronger. Another investment in people is sharing their content. Reach out and ask them if you can help spread the word about their product or service. For example, I interview authors, review picture books, and post book spotlights on my blogs. These relationships are generally reciprocal. Self-published authors usually cheer each other on.

Connect with your target audience. My genre is children’s books. I write books for children, but parents and educators fall under that umbrella too. Children read the pictures; adults read them the words. To network with educators and other children’s authors, please join my Facebook group Lemon Drop Learning.

5. Lesson Plans:

If you wish to connect with children, you must connect with educators. How do you accomplish that? Offer a lesson plan, coloring worksheet, or activity that coincides to your book. Take it from a former Pre-K Head Start/Kindergarten teacher. A quick supplemental activity goes a long way in the classroom. Whether it’s an action rhyme or a literacy lesson, each of my picture books has targeted projects that extend their story.

If you’re interested in lesson plans for your books, please visit my website for information.

Happy Writing!

Additional Resources:

Magic Beans Book Store

Once Upon A Storytime Live

Whispering Stories

Amelia’s Writing Corner

Interview With Author Tony Olaniji

By way of introduction, here is Tony Olaniji’s bio:

When a fun-filled childhood of oral storytelling, acting and music intermixed, and later morphed into an adulthood of organic artistic giftedness, the result is a unique blend of imaginative wonder!

This mash-up describes Tony Olaniji, an enthusiastic storyteller, story consultant and writing instructor.

He’s also an award-winning screenwriter, piano player, children piano trainer and filmmaker. Over the years, he’s helped budding writers gain an enhanced understanding of the science and structure of storytelling.

He’s been a part of various children-themed initiatives like The Green Festival, a signature feature of the Lagos Book and Art Festival (LABAF) in Nigeria. He has also lectured at film festivals and workshops.

Tony trains writers, both children and adults, and also critiques children’s book manuscripts.

His new children’s storybook is titled Kíyèsi: A Collection of African Stories for Children. He’s totally committed to the mission of producing edifying literature to displace the toxic ones that are prevalent. 

He holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Lagos State University and lives in Lagos with his wife, Biodun, and two daughters, Ebun and Itunu.

Hello, Tony, welcome to Angel Kiss Publications. Thank you for agreeing to do this interview.

Thank you for having me.

When did the writing bug ensnare you?

Sometime around 2002 in Lagos, the urge to write began to blossom in me when I saw the advert of an impending film festival that had a screenwriting competition.

I submitted a screenplay to the competition. It was the first time I would engage in any form of creative writing. 

The organizer of the competition claimed he had many friends in Hollywood. He even showed us a video of these friends confirming the authenticity of his film festival.

Unfortunately, he was a swindler. The festival was supposed to be held in Lagos. But without prior notice, he changed the venue to Abuja—this was after he had raked in a huge sum of money from the entry fees we paid and after we had submitted an avalanche of screenplays to him.

He knew it would be difficult for most of us in Lagos to travel to Abuja within the short notice of change in venue. Eventually, the competition was called off and he disappeared with our money and intellectual property.

After I got over the disappointment of being swindled, I re-read the screenplay I submitted to the sham screenwriting competition.

The story, its world, characters and their interactions intrigued me. From then on, I believed I could create stories, and I’ve never looked back since then.

Is writing your full-time profession?

No. I’m a keyboardist, I teach screenwriting and I also teach children to play the piano.

How long have you been writing?

It’s been nineteen years now, even though, I wasn’t totally committed to it because of my full involvement in music—I was on the payroll of a church as a keyboardist.

Have you won any literary awards?

Literary? No. But I won the Goethe Award for Script & Film in 2006.

How many published books have you written?

One. Kíyèsi: A Collection of African Stories for Children.

Which genre do you write?

Children.       

What do you find most challenging writing for this genre?

Having to write for a dual audience (mother and child) is a challenge I have yet to completely overcome.

Also, while concept, conflict, characters and theme come to me naturally, tone is the major issue I face when writing for children.

I always write many drafts before I could discover an authentic and accessible voice.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on five other children stories, including captivating picture book biographies.

Where do you find inspiration for your characters?

I find inspiration for my characters among children around me, especially, my two lovely daughters.  I also find inspiration in the Bible, and my childhood memories.

What has been your most rewarding experience since publishing your work?

There’s a joy that swells up in you when your name changes from a writer to an author.

For me, it’s like I’ve finally given birth to a baby after carrying it as a pregnancy for some years. This is an experience I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.

What advice would you give to authors just starting out?

Be true to yourself and your passion!

Don’t write to please people; learn all the writing conventions but let them serve your story—they shouldn’t dictate how you write.

There’s a uniqueness about you that can’t be found anywhere else; that’s what you need to develop and give to the world.

Is there anything else you’d like your readers to know about you?

I have some bilingual books (Yoruba and English) that I’m working on. But, I’ll release them after the five picture books I talked about earlier.

What message are you sharing in your books?

I share the message of hope.

What are your favorite books?

I love Zero by Kathryn Otoshi, Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’O, Stuck by Oliver Jeffers, Stellaluna by Janell Cannon, You Are Special by Max Lucado and some others. 

If you could create an author’s group with writers from any time period, who would you invite?

CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, Elechi Amadi and William Shakespeare.

Who has influenced your writing the most?

Elechi Amadi, Melanie Anne Phillips, Robert McKee and John Truby.

When you’re not writing where can we find you?

When I’m not writing, you can always find me among Christians, playing the keyboard, learning and teaching the Bible.

A movie producer wants to turn your book into a movie and you get to make a cameo. What would you do in the movie?

I would play the role of Mr. Bayo, in one of the stories, The Delicious Trip. He’s the guide who teaches the kids how to pay attention to instructions.

An elf named 12-25 approaches you. He’s sneezing, wheezing, coughing and there’s a strange tattoo of a snoring dog on his cheek. What do you do?

I’ll get him a magical antibiotic.

What are your most effective marketing strategies?

I’ve not done any marvelous work as regards the marketing of my book. As you know, this is the most difficult part of the book industry. I’m just starting out on Amazon Ad. I’ll wait and see how it goes.

Do you have a website/Facebook page, etc?

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

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tonyniji/

Where can we find your books?

Amazon: https://amzn.com/B08MVGDZFS

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ww/en/ebook/kiyesi

Thank you, Tony, for spending time with us and sharing your story. We wish you continued success and lots of luck!

Tony Olaniji’s Featured Book

Available On Amazon

Let’s embark on a voyage into an enchanting world of adventures!
This inspirational storybook is a collection of seven thrilling African tales for children between the ages of 4 – 11:

  • A famished boy on an important journey is torn between completing the journey and eating the edible car conveying him to his destination.
  • A gymnastic mantis must confront a bug-hungry rooster that threatens her debut acrobatic show.
  • A sheep has a skin disease that has turned her coat coarse and uncomfortable. To be cured, she needs a wool-cut. But the only barber that can help is in the jungle—a leopard.
  • After losing his father’s favourite calabash to a mysterious river, a troubled boy needs wisdom to not pick an evil calabash from the many options the river offers him as replacement.
  • Disdained at home and bullied at school, a brilliant but depressed pupil applies the wrong solution to her misery.
  • A boy must apprehend his father’s he-goat after it becomes destructive from tasting a forbidden drink.
  • A man suffers negative consequences from abusing the powers a pair of magical slippers confers on him.

Divided into two sections, this captivating anthology introduces kids to new narrative experiences and morals in excitingly new ways.

The era of wonderful storybooks isn’t over! Kíyèsi: A Collection of African Stories for Children is proof!