A great time for new beginnings – announcements, sales, and more.

Happy Easter lovies!

Hope you’re enjoying this seasons as much as I am. I know it’s been a while since I shared anything on here, so I’m really grateful to see you’ve stuck with me through the silence.

And what better way to break that silence than by bringing you some good news!

2022 Releases:

God Seeker – Coming June 14th

The God Seeker Collection by Xyvah Okoye is finally complete, and now the omnibus, God Seeker, will be availabe in ebook and print from all major digital and print retailers. Distribution of the individual books in the colection will remain exclusive to Amazon, with the ebooks available to read for free on Kindle Unlimited.

Tutu Bento and the Nuband – Coming October 3rd

I’m proud to announce that Chartus.X has acquired the rights to “Tutu Bento and the Nuband” by Selassie Agroh, and will be publishing this juvenile fiction story in October 2022. Selassie’s debut novel follows the 10yr old Tutu and his friends as they come together to form a band in the hopes of winning Nubia’s annual music competition and starring in the Festival of Sounds.

Fun-filled and fast-paced, this is a story you will not be able to put down.

Cover to be revealed.

Age of the anathema, #2 – Coming this winter

The sequel to Xyvah M. Okoye’s young adult fantasy novel, Tainted, is due to be released at the end of this year. With the title and cover reveal set for May 13th, more updates on the release will be communicated. You can also keep abrest with the goings on and more info on her books at http://www.xyvahmokoye.com or by signing up for her monthly newsletter.

If you haven’t yet read the first book in this gripping fantasy series, it is available to read for free on Kindle Unlimited.


Sales! Sales!! Sales!!!

From the 31st of April to the 5th of May, all the books in Xyvah’s Events to Emotions Poetry Series will be available to download for FREE on Amazon. This collection includes 2 poetry volumes: A darker shade of light and When hearts run on batteries.


Submissions

Currently, we are not accepting any manuscript submissions for publication. However, our editors and affiliates are still open for commission if you need services like proof reading, editing, book reviews, cover designs and character illustrations.

Based on the volume of work we currently have, we forecast that our submissions will reopen at the third quarter of the year towards 2024 publications.


5 Ways to save on self-publishing

As many are aware, traditional publishing isn’t the only route to getting published. Indie and self-publishing are also very viable options for getting one’s words to the hands of readers. Despite the stigma surrounding self-publishing, it does not mean a book is less than par or poor quality (unless the author wishes it to be so).

No matter the route an author takes to get published, there are a number of ingredients involved in publishing a book, and leaving some out–or accepting poor substitutes–will affect the quality of a book. Such things include, but are not limited to, editing, a professional book cover, a good blurb, and proofing.

Continue reading “5 Ways to save on self-publishing”

Outlining

Welcome to 2022.

Since it’s a new year, I figured it’s only fitting to start off the year with the dreaded O word.

If you’re a writer, you might have shipped yourself into one of two categories: plotter or pantser. And for some, plotting, outlining, structuring their work is a way of life. But for some others, they prefer to discover the story as they go along.

No way of doing things is right or wrong. There’s just what works and what doesn’t.

So why are we talking about outlining?

Continue reading “Outlining”

Creatives & Mental Health

Taking care of your biggest asset...

As a collective, authors, writers and creatives in general are often the solitary sort. And with the days getting colder and darker, this can have adverse effects on one’s health – both physically and mentally.

So I thought it might be helpful to remind creatives (and others) of a few ways they can take care of heir mental health.

1). Exercise.

You may not need to join a gym, or even go for a walk in the cold, but did you know that standing counts as exercise?

Yes, standing. Just by standing every 30mins or co, you are getting your body to move, helping your cirtulation, and improving your mental health. So stand, walk round the room, then go back to whatever you were doing.

2). Get fresh air.

Now, I already said it’s cold, and if you’re like me, you’re probably not built for that sort of weather. But fresh air helps. It really does.

It helps clear your mind and improves your state of thinking. So go stand at the door for a few minutes. Or stick your head out the window once a day.

3). Eat healthy.

A cup of hot chocolate may keep you warm, and with the festive season, sweets and cakes and puddings may seem like a great way to improve your mood. But after a few hours, the crash from your sugar high will leave you feeling worse than before you had them.

And it’s not just sweets. Eating fresh, healthy foods help to boost your immune system and unfog your mind. Which in turn helps your creativity.

So these are three tips I hope might help. And if you really are struggling to cope during this time, there are people out there willing and trained enough to help. Call a friend. Hell, call 10 till you feel you’ve got the help you need. And it if isn’t enough, call a hotline, or your doctor.

Just remember, you’re not alone. You don’t have to be. Take care of you.

Get feedback!

It is commonplace for new writers to be protective of their work. And there’s nothing wrong with that… except that it robs a writer of opportunities to improve their craft and story.

Feedback from peers and mentors is invaluable, especially in the early stages of your writing career.

When you open your work up to others you trust and admire, others with knowledge and experience in the craft, you put their expertise to work for you. Now, that’s priceless!

Some simple ways to get feedback include:

a. finding a mentor

b. finding a critique partner (or partners)

c. joining a writing group

d. sharing free content on your blog or social media (though I would only recommend this to those with a thick hide).

The honest truth is, getting feedback can be brutal sometimes… but the key is to pick out the useful, constructive advice, and run with it. In the end, it’s all about your success.

Dear “Author Who Cringes At The Thought Of Socialising”…

I get that authors are busy… but so is everyone else.

We all have 24hrs in a day, and if you as an author can’t make time for someone who has taken their time to contact you after spending their time reading your book, then at least hire or assign someone (PR Manager) to do so. Because it’s just rude.

This is where social media helps.

I understand a lot of authors are very reclusive, but if something about your book struck deep in your reader, deep enough for them to want to reach out, there should at least be a platform for them to do so.

A lot of people recommend an official author page or website. And these are helpful resources. But they aren’t always practical. It’s better not to have a facebook page than to have one which isn’t active, where you never respond to messages (I learnt that the hard way).

Some publishers and book distributors such as Amazon and smashwords offer author pages. On Goodreads, you could start a blog if it’s something you’re interested in. And if you pick a couple of sites you know you’ll be active and available on, that is easier to manage, less overwhelming and generally better than having an official site and accounts on every social media platform. Plus, your audience knows exactly where to find you.

P.S. if having all those platforms works for you, then go for it. If not, I hope this helps.

Can Your Readers Relate With You?

The number one reason readers buy books is because they know the author.

This doesn’t always mean the reader is a friend of the author. Sometimes, the reader may have read other books by the author, heard them speak or interviewed on a podcast, radio or television. They might have visited the author’s blog or followed them on social media. A connection is made, and this drives readers to the author’s books. 

This is the reason for the “about the author” section in books. Readers want to know who the book came from. They want to know the author is an actual person, just like them. That automatically makes the author relatable. They’re human. And once a reader can connect to an author on that level, it becomes easy to persuade them to buy your book. 

Who the author is plays a big part in the success of their book. If a specialist gynecologist were to write a book on menopause, it’s more likely to be bought by people experiencing said ailment than if a baker who experienced menopause wrote the book. This is simply because the specialist is just that. A specialist! 

Who you are affects how people receive your book. 

Growing up, I never truly belonged anywhere because of my mixed heritage (and the discrimination I faced due to it). For many years, I struggled to fit in because I was too light to be black. Then I moved to the U.K. where I was too dark to be white. And this was part of what formed the basis for Age of The Anathema. I’m a mixed-race author writing about people being persecuted for being mixed race. And one comment I got back when Tainted came out, was by a mixed-race woman who said: “… finally, we have someone who will speak up for us.”  

She bought and read the book because the author was relatable. 

So, as an author, stop and ask yourself:

“Can my readers relate with me? Or am I just another author to them?” 

Glasses: Also a writing tool

 "...And one sunny spring morning, I awoke to find my glasses missing a screw."
***

To all those who wear glasses… you know what it’s like when your glasses just don’t sit right.

For those fortunate enough to never experience such discomfort, wearing glasses that don’t sit right can be really frustrating, especially when you’re writing.

Besides typing, I like to write, draw, and doodle in my notebooks. And recently, my glasses keep sliding off my face. But I get ahead of myself. It all started when…

I travelled for a few months, and got locked down abroad without my spare glasses. One sunny spring morning, I awoke to find my glasses missing a screw. (#crying)

It relieved me to find the screw about an hour later. I fitted it back, thinking that was over and done with.

Until my glasses started zooming in.

I’d be reading, and after a couple of minutes, my glasses would creep down my nose, toward the page. It got steadily worse, and by the time I returned after the travel restrictions were lifted, I was literally having to hold my glasses in place.

Clearly an inconvenience.

And for those wondering, I don’t wear contacts because my eyes water a lot.

Anyway, many reading and writing blogs touch on tools, apps, and equipment creatives need. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen any which touch on glasses. And I know I’m not the only creative who wears glasses (or has had an interesting experience with them).

Glasses are a tool to aid your sight. They’re meant to make your visual experience better, not worse. And I know there are a lot more issues that occur with glasses than them just not sitting right. Things like getting the right prescriptions, and the right shape of frames to fit your face, and the right size so the lenses cover at least 70% of your field of vision. And let’s not even go into tinting and glares.

So, there are many, many things to deal with when talking about glasses. This is just to remind you that glasses are also a writing tool, and as a reader, writer, or just a basic human being, remember to get your glasses sorted.

“When writing a novel, do you add a hook near the beginning of the book after the manuscript is completed or when you start writing it?”

Tell the story the way it tells you…

Sometimes your hook may come right at the beginning, other times, it may come when you’re done with the manuscript… possibly even after you’ve submitted it.

I think when it comes to the technicalities of how to write a hook, different authors have different preferences.

A hook, for those unaware, is basically a sentence (or a group of sentences) that draws your readers in to reading your work.

Based on this, I personally prefer to begin with a captivating sentence and/or add my hook within the first two paragraphs.

This way, a promise is made right at the beginning and the anticipation of the promise fulfilled keeps the readers engaged.

Three ways you can do this:

a). Create curiosity.
Let your first sentence/ paragraph make readers curious. Intrigue them. Your first line should generate questions that lead them to read your book/story for the answers to.

b). Connect emotionally.

If your words can stir up feelings in your readers, more often than not, they will stay connected and stick with the story till the end.

c). Introduce a character.

I’m a sucker for this personally. I read a book beginning with a perculiar character and I can’t help but read on to discover more about them… two of my personal favourites are:

“There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.”

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C. S. Lewis

And

“Kell wore a very peculiar coat.”

A Darker Shade of Magic, V.E. Schwab

There are in fact a number of other ways to write a great first sentence hook but I think it best for each author to practice and find what works best for them… I also think it’s important not to neglect the story and what it wants to do… let the story tell you.

So, to answer the question, sometimes my story is born from a sentence, such as:

“I died a thousand times that day.”
Jenée, Xyvah Okoye & Chiedozie Omeje

Other times, I’ve gone half way through my manuscript before returning to rewrite the first paragraph.

To be honest 🙈 there was a case where I finished the manuscript completely and ended up getting my hook in on my second edit of it.

🤷🏽‍♀️ it all depends on what works for you. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to do it right the first time. It will come when it’s ready… let the story tell you.