Exploring the Breath, Range, Character, Scope and Reception of Cyprian Ekwensi’s Writings

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Ekwensi one of Africa’s most prolific writers who died late last year and was buried early this year, maintained a vibrant writing activity throughout his life, publishing a collection of short stories, Cash On Delivery, his last work of fiction and completing work on his memoirs, titled, In My Time for several years on to his death. With over twenty novels, collections of stories and short novels to his name, Ekwensi’s thematic preoccupation equally covered the Nigerian Civil War from the perspective of a journalist and life in a pastoral Fulani setting in Northern Nigeria.

Ekwensi’s first published work was the novella, When Love Whispers, published in 1948, ten years before the great African novel, Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, appeared in London. He was inspired by sorrow over his unsuccessful attempt to court a young woman whose father insisted that she makes a marriage of convenience to write it. This short, light romance formed part of what became known as the Onitsha Market school of pulp fiction, and its success inspired Ekwensi to continue in that same mode.

Ekwensi had already distinguished himself by the several short stories he had written for broadcast on radio. These he later put together, within ten days, while on his way to Chelsea School of Pharmacy, London, to realize his first novel, People of the City, which Nigeria’s premier newspaper, The Daily Times, published in installments before it appeared in book form in 1954. but which was not published in the United States until 15 years later. People of the City (1954) was the first West African novel in modern style English to be published in England. It’s publication thus marked an important development in African literature with Ekwensi becoming one of the first African novelists to receive much exposure in the West and eventually the most prolific African novelist.

The fact that Cyprian Ekwensi started his writing career as a pamphleteer is reflected in the episodic nature of People of the City (1954) a collection of stories strung together but reading like a novel, in which he gives a vibrant portrait of the fast-paced life in a West African city, Lagos. People of the City which recounts the coming to political awareness of a young reporter and band leader in an emerging African country is filled with his running commentary on the problems of bribery and corruption and despotism bedeviling such states. In it and several others, Ekwensi explores the lure, thrills and challenges of urban life, and the extreme permissiveness and impersonal relationships permeating the lives of migrants to the city, where close-ties normally fostered by the extended family system of their traditional societies constitute a serious check on the deviant lifestyles that find full expression in the city.

According to, Bernth Lindfors, none of Ekwensi’s numerous works is entirely free from amateurish blots and blunders. Lindfors therefore concludes that he could not call any “the handiwork of a careful, skilled craftsman.” On his portrayal of the moral irresponsibility in city life, Bernth Lindfors, argued that “because his sinful heroines usually come to bad ends, Ekwensi can be viewed as a serious moralist whose novels offer instruction in virtue by displaying the tragic consequences of vice. But it always seems as if he is more interested in the vice than in the virtue and that he aims to titillate as well as teach.” While this view may be contested, it is undeniable that he always strove hard to reach his audience in the most immediate and intimate style. Indeed, it was to maintain this that he clung to those themes that afforded him the mass readership he so much craved

In a 1972 interview by Lewis Nkosi, Ekwensi defined his role as writer thus: “I think I am a writer who regards himself as a writer for the masses. I don’t think of myself as a literary stylist: if my style comes, that is just incidental, but I am more interested in getting at the heart of the truth which the man in the street can recognize than in just spinning words.”

Ernest Emenyonu, a Nigerian critic noted for his sympathy towards Ekwensi, charges that Ekwensi “has never been correctly assessed as a writer.”

Another sympathetic critic,the long-standing American convert to the study of African Literature, Charles Larson, describes him as one of the most prolific African writers of the twentieth century. According to Larson, Ekwensi “is probably the most widely-read novelist in Nigeria–perhaps even in West Africa–by readers whose literary tastes have not been exposed to the more complex writings of Chinua Achebe and other more skilled African novelists.”

Kole Omotoso past President of Nigerian Association of Authors and Drama professor at University of Ibadan confessed a lifelong fascination with him after reading his novelette The Yaba Round about Murder as a child, for, as he confesses, it taught him the importance of space in writing fiction. Omotoso goes on to state that Ekwensi’s major importance in Nigerian writing is because he believed in himself and ‘made us believe in ourselves.’ The pan-Africanist slant of his writings and his publications being mostly in Nigeria were found commendable. When many other African writers were in self-exile, he chose to remain in his native country, rather than live abroad where publishing opportunities are more abundant.

While some scholars discounted Ekwensi’s novels, others valued their social realism. Charles R. Larson put his work in historical perspective: “Local color is their forte, whether it be Ekwensi’s city of chaos, Lagos, or Onitsha … ; the Nigerian reader is placed for the first time in a perspective which has been previously unexplored in African fiction.”

Placing Ekwensi’s work firmly in the popular idiom, Douglas Killam explained their importance: “Popular fiction is always significant as indicating current popular interests and morality. Ekwensi’s work is redeemed (although not saved as art) by his serious concern with the moral issues which inform contemporary Nigerian life. As such they will always be relevant to Nigerian literary history and to Nigerian tradition.”

Ekwensi told stories that, like well-cooked onugbu (bitter leaf) soup, left a pleasant after-meal tang on the palate. Through his works Ekwensi told us that a work of fiction does not deserve that honourable name if it does not at first sight-…-arrest the reader like a cop’s handcuffs….. I read many of Ekwensi’s books, and save for ‘The Drummer Boy’, which was a recommended text when I was in junior secondary school in Plateau State, the others were read because they are what a book-hungry soul needs for sustenance. Who can, having been initiated into the cult of Ekwensi, forget the revenge-driven Mallam Iliya, the sokugo-stricken Mai Sunsaye, the skirt-besotted Amusa Sango, the raunchy belle, Jagua Nana (they don’t create women like that any more, whether in fiction, on the telly, and probably in real life); and the heart-rending Ngozi and heroic Pedro? They are my friends for life.

Ekwensi did much more than create ‘airport thrillers’. He told great stories that live on in the hearts of all who encountered them. ( Henry Chukwuemeka Onyeama a Lagos-based writer and teacher)

An Ibo, like Chinua Achebe, Ekwensi was born in 1921 in Minna, Niger State, in Northern Nigeria, but attended secondary school in a predominantly Yoruba area, Ibadan. He is very familiar with the many major ethnic groups in his country, and thus possesses a knowledge often well exploited in his novels. He went on subsequently to Yaba Higher College in Ibadan and then moved over to Achimota College in Ghana where he studied forestry. For two years he worked as a forestry officer and then taught science for a brief period. He then entered the Lagos School of Pharmacy. He later continued at the University of London (Chelsea School of Pharmacy) during which period he wrote his earliest fiction, his first book-length publication Ikolo the Wrestler and Other Ibo Tale (1947) , published in London. His writings earned him a place in the National Media where he rose to Head of features in the Nigerian Broadcasting Services and ultimately becoming its Director.

Several events in Ekwensi’s childhood contributed later to his writings. Although ethnically an Igbo, he was raised among Hausa playmates and schoolmates and so spoke both tribal languages. He also learned of his heritage through the many Igbo stories and legends that his father told him, which he would later publish in the collection Ikolo the Wrestler and Other Ibo Tales. In 1936 Ekwensi enrolled in the southern Nigerian secondary school known as Government College, Ibadan, where he learned about Yoruba culture as well as excelling in English, math, science, and sports. He read everything he could lay his hands on in the school library, concentrating on H. Rider Haggard, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Walter Scott, and Alexandre Dumas. He also wrote articles and stories for numerous school publications, particularly The Viking magazine.

During the later part of his stint as a forest officer Ekwensi started yearning for the city. So beginning in 1947 he taught English, biology, and chemistry at Igbobi College near Lagos. To his classes he read aloud manuscripts of books for children, Drummer Boy, Passport of Mallam Ilia, and Trouble in From Six, and short stories. Finally, after decades of supplementing his writing career by working in broadcasting and doing other public relations work, Ekwensi gave up his day jobs in 1984 to pursue writing full time. He returned to writing adult novels, picking and choosing from his personal “archive” of earlier written manuscripts much of which he revised into the novels Jagua Nana’s Daughter, Motherless Baby, For a Roll of Parchment, and Divided We Stand, which were published in the 1980s. For example, in For a Roll of Parchment he recounted his trip from Nigeria to England, as he had in People of the City. He did, however, update his material to portray post-World War II Nigeria, with its faster paced life.

Sex, violence, intrigue, and mystery in a recognizable contemporary setting most often in the fast-paced melting pot of the city were common diet in Ekwensi’s works especially in Jagua Nana, in which a very worldly and highly attractive forty-five year old Nigerian woman with multiple suitors falls in love with a young teacher, Freddie. She agrees to send him to study law in England on the understanding of their getting married on his return. Around this beautiful and impressive prostitute, Ekwensi sets in motion a whole panoply of vibrant, amoral characters who have drifted from their rural origins to grab the dazzling pleasures of the city.

And the novel itself shows us the seedy underbelly of the big city, Lagos, where Jagua’s favourite haunt, the Tropicana bar, sets the scene for much of the story.

Sometime, back in the 1950s the Onitsha Market ‘literary’ mafia, strarted producing and marketing openly, a semi-nude picture of a buxom Igbo teenage beauty, with the sassy caption, “Beateam mee lee” – I dare you to beat me!

Those were the prudish days of high moral values in Igboland and indeed Nigeria , of Elizabethan fashion with cane-wielding primary school teachers and headmasters. The offending picture sent shockwaves right down the spines of the public who, nonetheless, rushed to buy copies. Men who turned up their noses at the pictures in public, secretly bought, viewed and relished copies. And..school boys did odd jobs for parents, and the money they earned were saved up to the one shilling cost of the picture, which they used to purchase it and then usually tucked it away, in-between books, away from the prying eyes of parents or the class teacher, from where curious peeks of the treasure could be sneeked occasionally, at its owner’s risk, even in the middle of a lesson. Noted for churning out almanacs, with pictures of the famous, unfolding events, folk art, as well as such literature as those of Ogali A. Ogali, author of the legendary “Veronica My Daughter”, the mafia knew where to draw the line. Sex, however, sold any day and age and the mafia knew this. But nobody wanted to be identified with anything even remotely pornographic. “Beateam mee lee” was therefore, at the time, the mother of all daring.

It was against this backdrop that Ekwensi took the Nigerian literary scene by storm with the publication of the raunchy Jagua Nana. Ekwensi’s most widely read novel, Jagua Nana, published in 1961 returned us to the locale of People of the City but with a much more cohesive plot centered on Jagua, a courtesan who had a love for the expensive as reflected in her name itself, which was a corruption of the expensive English automobile, Jaguar. Her life personalizes the conflict between the old traditional and modern urban Africa. Although Ekwensi had earlier shown the direction of his works with the publication, in 1954, of People of the City, it was Jagua (the lead character in this novel) that built the Ekwensi legend and assumed a life all its own, becoming a folk hero of sorts. Jagua dared the reading public. Ekwensi the artist, also had the magic of picking out names of his characters that were instant hits. They stuck like glue in the reader’s memory and helped animate the fictional personality. Bold, defiant, imaginative and rendered with uncommon technical finesse, Jaguar Nana totally established Ekwensi as the ultimate chronicler of Nigerian city life.

Published in 1961, the novel Jagua Nana, tells the story of an aging prostitute named Jagua who tries to provide for herself security in her later life through her relationship with a younger man. Yet while this young man is studying law in England, Jagua involves herself in various activities, some dubious, some not. Jagua Nana, witnessed some improvement in plot quality and control, unlike what obtained in People Of The City, chronicling the adventures of an ageing prostitute in Lagos, in love with her work and the expensive lifestyles, but who ends up in grief and disappointment.

Ekwensi’s attempt to dust her up later and usher her into some form of happiness and fulfillment introduces the quest motif in his work, which manifests itself fully in the sequel, Jagua Nana’s Daughter (1987), where Jagua, after a long search, was able to reconnect with her educated, socially elevated daughter, who had also had her own fair share of loose life. Both daughter and mother were at the same time engrossed in a quest for mutual fulfillment and healing until they met fortuitously. In the end, after she suffers sufficiently, Ekwensi allows her to have happiness.

As was to be in several of his other novels, Ekwensi’s moralizing is evident and reform is possible for some characters. For example, in the later novel Iska Ekwensi portrayed a young Ibo widow, Filia, who moves to Lagos after her husband’s death. There she tries to lead a respectable life. While she tries to get an education and responsible employment, she encounters numerous obstacles, which allow Ekwensi to show readers a wide range of urbanites. Yet this novel, published by a European press, could not compete for popularity with its predecessor, Jagua Nana, which caused controversy for its frank portrayal of sexuality. When an Italian movie company wanted to film Jagua Nana, the Nigerian government prevented this effort fearing negative media portrayals of the country.

Talking about what inspired him to write the work in an interview, Ekwensi said: I was a pharmacy student at the Yaba Higher College those days and I lived in the same compound with a young man who was very romantic. He would never miss his night club for anything. We had a night club then, called Rex Club, run by the late Rewane – the two Rewanes are dead now, by the way and one of them was at Government College, Ibadan while the other one was a politician.

Now, many years later, I was called upon to do a programme for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) about night life and I found out that I had so much material about this subject that I could really build it into a whole book. That was the inspiration.

Yet another of his novels is Burning Grass (1961) a collection of vignettes giving insight into the life of a pastoral Fulani cattlemen family of Northern Nigeria..The novel and the characters are based actually on a real family with whom Ekwensi himself had previously lived. For after studying forestry at the Yaba Higher College in Lagos during World War II, Ekwensi began a two-year stint as a forestry officer which familiarized him with the forest reserves,from which he was enabled to write such adventure stories in rural settings as Burning Grass..

“In the days in the forest, I was able to reminisce and write. That was when I really began to write for publishing,” he told Nkosi. The several months spent with the nomadic Fulani people, later became the subjects of Burning Grass.where he follows the adventures of Mai Sunsaye, who has Sokugo, a wanderlust, and of his family, who try to rescue him. While seeing his protagonists through varied adventures, Ekwensi portrays the lives of the Fulani cattlemen. This early work, considered one of his more “serious” novels, was published by Heinemann educational publishers and reissued in 1998

Two novellas for children followed in 1960; both The Drummer Boy and The Passport of Mallam Ilia which were exercises in blending traditional themes with undisguised romanticism.

Between 1961 and 1966 Ekwensi published at least one major work every year. The most important of these were the novels, Beautiful Feathers (1963) and Iska (1966), and two collections of short stories, Rainmaker (1965) and Lokotown (1966).

Beautiful Feathers (1963) reflects the nationalist and pan-Africanist consciousness of the pre-independence days of the 1950s and how the young hero’s youthful commitment to his ideal leads to the disintegration of his family, thus underscoring the proverb alluded to in the title: “however famous a man is outside, if he is not respected inside his own home he is like a bird with beautiful feathers, wonderful on the outside but ordinary within.”

From 1967 to 1969, during the Nigerian civil war, when the eastern part of Nigeria attempted to secede, Ekwensi served as a government information officer the experiences from which he used to write the 1976 picaresque novel Survive the Peace. which realistically portrayed the activities of a radio journalist in the wake of the civil war in Biafra.who in his effort to reunite his family, encounters the violence, destruction, refugees, and relief operations that such chaos engenders. Through flashbacks, Ekwensi also depicts the war itself giving a post-mortem on the just-concluded , interrogates the problems of surviving in the so-called peace. It looks for instance at the pathetic fate of James Odugo, the radio journalist who survives the war only to be cut down on the road by marauding former soldiers.

In such early works as the collections Ikolo the Wrestler and Other Ibo Tales, and An African Night’s Entertainment, the novel Burning Grass, and the juvenile works The Leopard’s Claw and Juju Rock, Ekwensi told stories in a rural setting.

Ekwensi continued to publish beyond the 1960s, and among his later works are the novel Divided We Stand (1980) in which he lampooned the Nigerian civil war, the novella Motherless Baby (1980), and The Restless City and Christmas Gold (1975), Behind the Convent Wall (1987), and Gone to Mecca (1991).

Ekwensi also published a number of works for children.such as Ikolo the Wrestler and Other Ibo Tales (1947) and The Leopard’s Claw (1950). In the 1960s, he wrote An African Night’s Entertainment (1962), The Great Elephant-Bird (1965), and Trouble in Form Six (1966). Over time, Ekwensi produced other books, mostly for children, which though they may not have been internationally acclaimed, were nonetheless well known and read all over Nigeria and Africa. They included Rainmaker (1965), Iska (1966), Coal Camp Boy (1971) Samankwe in the strange Forest (1973), Motherless Baby (1980), The Restless City and Christmas Gold (1975), Samankwe and the Highway Robbers (1975), Behind the Convent Wall (1987), Gone to Mecca (1991), Masquerade Time! (1992), and King Forever! (1992). In 2006, he completed work on two other books; “Tortoise and the Brown Monkey”, a short story and “Another Freedom”.

Gratifyingly Ekwensi is still writing, He has published several titles as When Love Whispers, Divided We Stand, Jagua Nana’s Daughter and King for Ever! all related to earlier works.

When Love Whispers like Jagua Nana revolves around a very attractive woman with multiple suitors. But whilst she thinks she has won the love of her life her father expects her to get married to an older man in an arranged marriage.

Divided We Stand (1980) was written in the heat of the Biafra war itself, though published later. It reverses the received wisdom that unity is strength, showing how ethnicity, division, and hatred bring about distrust, displacement, and war itself.

Jagua Nana’s Daughter (1986) revolves around Jagua’s daughter’s traumatic search for her mother leading her to find not only her mother but a partner as well. She is able to get married to a highly placed professional as she, unlike her mother, is a professional as well. She thus gains the security and protection she desires.

King for Ever! (1992) satirises the desire of African leaders to perpetuate themselves in power. Sinanda’s rising to power from humble background does not prevent his vaulting ambition from soaring to the height where he was now aspiring to godhead

In the decades since Ekwensi began writing, the Nigerian readership has changed. Unlike the days of the Onitsha Market fiction, when books were printed inexpensively and sold cheaply to suit popular tastes at the turn of the millennium few publishing companies controlled the choice of books published; book prices made books often go beyond the reach of the masses, restricted mostly to schools and libraries, which cater to nonfiction and instructional materials. With various forms of media increasing in popularity, the incentive to read has fallen. With fewer people reading for pleasure, novels are in little demand. Because of these circumstances, creative writers suffer. Of this downside, Ekwensi told Larson, “Journalists thrive here, but creative writers get diverted and the creativity gets washed out of them if they must take the bread and butter home.”

At a public lecture in 2000, quoted by Kole Ade-Odutola in Africa News, the elderly but still vivacious Ekwensi expressed his desire to “build and nurture young minds in the customs and traditions of their communities” through his writings. He explained, “African writers of the twentieth century inherited the oral literature of our ancestors, and building on that, placed at the centre-stage of their fiction, the values by which we as Africans had lived for centuries. It is those values that make us the Africans that we are–distinguishing between good and evil, justice and injustice, oppression and freedom.” In tune with the times, he had started self-publishing his writings on the Internet. Despite the vagaries of the African publishing world, at age 80 Ekwensi was still pursuing his goal because as he wrote in his essay for The Essential Ekwensi 15 years earlier, “The satisfaction I have gained from writing can never be quantified.”


Beier, Ulli ed., Introduction to African Literature (1967);

Breitinger, Eckhard, “Literature for Younger Readers and Education in Multicultural Contexts,” in Language and Literature in Multicultural Contexts, edited by Satendra Nandan, Uinveristy of South Pacific, 1983.

· , Volume 117: Caribbean and Black African Writers, Gale, 1992. Dictionary of Literary Biography

Dathorne, O. R. The Black Mind A History of African Literature. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1974.

Emenyonu, Ernest, Cyprian Ekwensi. Evans Brothers, 1974.

Emenyonu, Ernest, editor. The Essential Ekwensi. Heinemann Educational Books, 1987.

Larson, Charles R., The Emergence of African Fiction. Indiana University Press, 1971

Larson, Charles R. The Ordeal of the African Writer. London: Zed Books, 2001.

Lindfors, Bernth, ‘Nigerian Satirist’ in ALT5

Laurence, . Margaret Long Drums and Cannons: Nigerian Dramatists and Novelists, 1952-1966 (1968).

Mphahlele, Ezekiel

Palmer Eustace. The Growth of the African Novel. Studies in African literature. London: Heinemann, 1979.

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Creative Writers Use Inference to Say More by Saying Less

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All creative writers use inference, whether by choice or by accident. So you may be thinking, "If I can do use it by accident, why should I study it?" You should study it because you can use the technique more effectively if you understand all the ramifications involved.

This is inference:

Mary was in labor. She had a monkey.

This is the type of headlines you read in the Inquirer and other such magazines. On the surface, one could assume the following:

1. A woman had mated with a monkey and got pregnant
2. She went to the hospital to give birth
3. Her baby was not a child, it was a monkey
4. It was a historical event
5. This event would open new doors to the medical community and scientists
6. The news media would hound the monkey child through its life
7. Documentaries would have been unduly created
8. A movie would be in the making

Thoughts would flood your mind. Did the woman go on a safari? Was she attacked by a monkey or an ape? Where was her husband? Or was she even married? How will her family accept the monkey baby? Does it have any human characteristics?

Or, you could read it the way I was thinking when I wrote it: Mary was in labor, and she owned a monkey. Do you see what inference can do?

Mystery authors quite often mislead the reader by dropping clues that can be read the wrong way. Inference is also used in riddles, jokes and some games.

Inference creates a mental puzzle for the reader to solve. The reader's mind will always jump past the immediate and form its own conclusions, based on the information they have been fed. If the writer wants to, he can change the mental image in the next sentence.

Another example:

The bride collapsed in tears, and could not be consoled.

We might think:

1. The groom did not show up for the wedding
2. She tore her wedding dress
3. Someone dropped the wedding cake
4. The organist or preacher could not be there

We could imagine all sorts of things, but what I'm actually thinking is that her father died of a heart attack during the wedding. From what I said, however, it is illegally that anyone would forgive that meaning. And that the reader will infer their own meaning into the given evidence and come forth with their own conclusion. In other words, they will supply the lack evidence by their own definition of what would cause a bride to collapse in tears.

Inference is a great tool. You can infer that a man is in love with his best friend's wife without ever saying it. You can further infer that they are having a love affair, that the husband knows nothing at all about it, but hubby is about to find out. If you introduce a gun into the equation, you can infer someone is going to die as a result.

Use inference wisely to say a lot by saying less.

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Article Writing 101: The Perfect Author Resource Box

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If you want to really make your article “SELL” then you’ve got to craft the perfect RESOURCE BOX. This is the “author bio” that is below your article body and it’s also known as your “SIG” (short for SIGnature).

Here are the essential items that should be in your RESOURCE BOX:

  • Your Name: You’d be amazed at how many folks forget to include their name in the RESOURCE BOX. Your name and optional title should be the first thing in your resource box.
  • Your Website Address: in valid URL form. Example: http://Your-Company-Name.com/
  • Your Elevator Pitch: This is 1 to 3 sentences that encapsulates the essence of what makes you and your offering unique. Also known as your USP (Unique Selling Proposition).
  • Your Call To Action: You’ve got them warmed up and now it’s time to lead them to BUY from you or visit your website. This is where you “Ask For The Sale.” Best to only give (1) specific call to action.

Here are some optional items you could include in your RESOURCE BOX:

  • Your Ezine Subscription Address: While getting your interested visitor to surf your website is nice, capturing their email address can help you begin the confidence/trust process. If you’re going to do this strategy, include a URL for your ezine subscription address and do not use an email address for the “join” address.
  • Your Contact Information: Such as your business phone number or how to reach you for interviews or your press/media kit. Keep in mind that article marketing is a timeless strategy and you may not have an easy ability to retract what you put in your article once it hits major distribution.
  • A Free Report: This could also be part of your call to action or your free bonus report that further enhances your credibility as the expert on the topic of your article.
  • Your email autoresponder: I’m not a big fan of this strategy due to the fact that spammers will text-extract your autoresponder address and add it to their spam list. Perhaps this strategy was best for the 1990’s and has now run its course.
  • An anchor URL that is related to one keyword or keyword phrase that you want to build SEO strength for. Example: if I wanted to build search engine relevance/strength for the term “Article Writing,” I’d link up that term in my resource box to my website. This is an intermediate to advanced level strategy and should not be abused by over-doing it. Keep it simple.

What NOT to include in your RESOURCE BOX:

  • A listing of every website you own. There is no faster way to dilute your credibility than by posting a half dozen irrelevant URLs that have nothing to do with each other. Best to only post ONE URL that is related to the topic of your article.
  • A listing of every accomplishment you’ve achieved to date. No one cares. Keep your resource box brief and to the point. Yes, your resource box should be benefit oriented so that the reader finds value in reading it rather than your ego being justified.
  • Advertisements or pitches for products that are not relevant to the topic of your article.
  • Keep the size of your resource box so that it’s no larger than 15% of your total article size. Too often I see resource boxes that are 50% of the size of the total article and this is abusive.

Your Perfect Resource Box Conclusion:

The BODY of your article is where you “GIVE” and the RESOURCE BOX is where you get to “TAKE” for your article gift of information. The resource box is the “currency of payment” you receive for giving away your article. Be sure to include your name, website address, your unique selling proposition as briefly as possible and a simple call to action.

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Marc Harty’s Seven Point Formula For Creating a Winning Online Press Release

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Marc Harty’s 7 point formula.

#1 Headline

Keep your headline short and make sure you have your keyword phrase in your headline. This is key and something that even the experts miss or forget to do. The earlier you put your keyword phrase in the headline the better.

#2 Summary

Two or three sentences… What is this press release about? What are you talking about? What is the topic?

#3 Intro Paragraph

If you know anything about copywriting you know that the purpose of the headline is to get you to keep reading. The purpose of the summary is to get you to keep reading to the intro paragraph. The purpose of the intro paragraph is to get you to read the rest of the release.

I like to ask a question. I don’t want to get right into talking about myself. I want to add some context. I want to say these day’s things are tough in the economy whatever it is, but something that can build rapport with people.

This isn’t just a press release, its common sense and copywriting 101. Build that rapport with your audience.


You’ve probably seen this on the news or in a press release. There is somebody quoted. If you’re doing a press release that somebody is you, but it doesn’t have to be you.

For example, if you’re using one of my techniques and piggybacking on current events, maybe that quote is something that’s out there in the media. Maybe it’s a third-party, a research study and you’re quoting the person who’s in charge of that study.

About 99% of the time, I write the quote for my clients and let them okay it. This isn’t Shakespeare. You don’t have to say something that goes on and on or that will live for 300 years. Make it pithy, short and sound bite worthy.

#5 Support Points – Facts

When I first started in copywriting I learned the distinction between facts and claims. If I say we’re number one, that’s a claim. If I can say we’re number one, because we sell more units or we’ve generated more revenue, now I’ve taken that claim and made it a fact.

What can you do that are support points that are fact-based that you can talk about in terms of your story or topic for that press release?

#6 Call to Action

I would say most people that do press releases do not have a call to action and if they do it goes something like this: “Visit our website blahblahblah.com. Call our toll free number blah-blah-blah.” I don’t know about you, but I am not incentivized. I’m not motivated to move further in learning about this business, service or company, because I don’t know what’s waiting for me. It seems kind of pedestrian.

In press releases people were taught to be non-promotional, because it’s a press release. It needs to be editorial and that’s true. One of the differences in press releases is you can’t use the word “you” in copy, because it needs to be written in third-person.

#7 About

This is a paragraph your company, not the subject of the press release, because you may have multiple products. And it can also be about you if you’re an author or speaker it can be about you.

This is an opportunity that if you have some credibility, if you’ve been published in a specific magazine, as seen on CNN whatever those things are, those are the opportunities to put in that about section.

This about section is consistent from release to release, which is good, because now part of your press release is already pre-written for you and it’s not going to change. It doesn’t have to be long. I usually do three or four paragraphs. Also put in your link to your website.

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Source by Bret Ridgway

Online Freelance Work Example Freelance Bid Proposals

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When seeking out freelance work, the proposal is the meat and potatoes of your effort to get hired and get paid. If you’re a writer, the proposal is also a showcase for your skills because your skill in selling yourself is reflective of your ability to write on behalf of your client.

A good proposal should be concise, powerful and persuasive. It should also have a logical flow which answers the following questions:

o What will you do?

o Why will you do it in the manner you describe?

o How will you do it?

o How much will you charge?

o What are your payment terms (including up front fees)?

o When will you do it?

Start your proposal with an introductory paragraph summarizing any information that has already been discussed. This is important to show you understand the desires of the client. Sometimes the client may only read this portion (it happens) so make sure you get the most important points in the introduction.

Here’s an example freelance bid proposal.

Your contact info


Client’s contact info

Dear Client,

After reviewing your requirements, I’ve researched the aspects of the project as you’ve specified. As I see it you’re looking for a web site that provides (feature), (feature) and (feature). I believe we are best suited to provide you with the solution you’re looking for that will not only (insert benefit) but will (another benefit). Below you will find my ideas to carry out the solution you seek.

With our combined 20 years of experience developing these solutions, I am confident you will be most satisfied with the work we do. We feel that designing a web site is for more than just making money. Our background in design and marketing will lead to a website that helps you gain new customers and keep the ones you have while presenting your company with the image you envision.

You will find our bid for this project and payment terms on the following page. This quote is good for 30 days from the date presented. Upon acceptance, we are ready to start immediately.

Freelance job proposals can be very simple, one page documents or can span several pages. It depends on the complexity of the job and on the client. The best way to figure out what is required is to maintain good communications with your prospective client. As you get more projects under your belt, you’ll develop an archive of proposals, which you can use to build proposals for future projects. Experience and efficiency come with time and action so get started today and write that proposal.

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Source by John Le Bleu

Insight, Oversight, Foresight, and Hindsight for Writers

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Looking for a different angle on your fiction or nonfiction? Consider the concepts of insight, oversight, foresight and hindsight for your fiction character’s point of view or as the angle for your nonfiction topic. They may prove to be the unique twist you’ve been looking for.



Insight is defined as the power to see into a situation (penetration), to see the cause and effect within a specific context, or the act of understanding the inner nature of things (intuition). Some other synonyms for insight, besides penetration and intuition, include, instinct, sixth sense, profundity, sagacity, sageness, discernment, deduction, and wisdom.


Insight can reveal itself abruptly and unexpectedly. For example, when faced with a difficult problem or dilemma, your suddenly know exactly what the solution is. You have an epiphany or an “Aha!” moment. In fiction, your character may have these on a regular basis, giving her the reputation of being a psychic or something. Or the insight may be part of the plot, where everything becomes clear to the reader, though not overtly of course. For nonfiction, the writer might use their personal insight on a topic or field of study to explain things for his or her readers. Or the writer may show readers how to develop their own insight and how to use their insight in their personal, work and social lives.



Oversight is defined as observant and conscientious attention; strict supervision or management; or an unintentional omission or mistake. Synonyms for oversight include: disregard, neglect, a slight, boss, overlook, superintend, supervise, or to watch over.


In fiction, your character may be an overseer who manages slaves in the field, who is a strict disciplinarian in the work place, or a high-ranking government employee responsible for keeping the masses in line. For nonfiction you may be writing articles or books on government oversight committees, asking who is overseeing the government, discussing government regulations or clinical supervision. Nonfiction writers could also create an oversight system which they teach to their readers, or even show readers how to set up their own oversight protocols for their workplace or charities.



Foresight is the act of foreseeing or seeing a development beforehand; prudence; or the act of looking forward. Synonyms include: caution, carefulness, good sense, care, forethought discretion, unusual perception, creative discernment, prescience, vision, exercising good judgment, common sense, circumspection, to be farsighted, or to be a visionary.


In fiction your character might be a futurist (someone who looks at all the present and past facts and trends to predict future events) or a religious or spiritual person who has a gift for keen foresight. For nonfiction, writers could interview futurists about their economic and political foresight, they could offer their own foresight into any field based on their expertise, or they can teach their readers how to develop their own foresight based on the facts and trends of current and past events.



Hindsight can be defined as retrospect, the awareness or discernment of the nature, makeup, or disposition of any event that has already occurred, or the penchant for seeing past events as being more predictable than they actually were at the time. Synonyms might include: 20/20 vision, 20/20 hindsight, Monday morning quarterbacking, experience, realization, knowledge, learning, looking back, recollection, remembering, the knew-it-all-along effect, memory distortion, or creeping determinism.


In fiction, your character may have failed to see the signs or clues to their predicament, but in hindsight now sees the error of his or her ways, or the character may be using hindsight as a means of reflection to re-examine his life. Nonfiction writers can use hindsight to discuss how our memories can be faulty or how they may have been affected by our belief systems and our personal histories and biases. Writers could also teach their readers how to use hindsight to re-examine their belief systems or to reflect on and re-examine their lives. Both fiction and nonfiction writers can make use of Monday morning quarterbacking and the knew-it-all-along mentalities. Better yet, consider how hindsight can be used to inform foresight in either your fiction or your nonfiction.

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Source by Joan Whetzel

Walking by Faith: The Story of Andrew DeVries

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Athletics had always been the most important thing in my life. In fact, at age fifty-five, standing six-foot-six, I had just tried out for the Michigan Senior Men’s Olympic Volleyball team, and there was a good chance I was going to make it.

Then tragedy struck. In a motorcycle accident, I shattered my left leg. Doctors prescribed amputation. Prior to surgery, as I lay in the hospital bed discussing with family and friends what life would be like without a leg, a young physician’s assistant named Sarah Scholl said, “Andy, what kind of golf balls do you play?”

That was an idiotic question, but I told her, “Titleist Pro V1.” The next morning, a 12-pack of Titleist Pro V1 golf balls was by my bed. Sarah’s gift gave me a glimmer of hope.

When I awoke after the operation, I was surprised to look down and see two legs and ten toes. Fortunately, the doctors had decided that my leg had enough circulation to try to save it. But months of rehabilitation lay ahead. In a subsequent operation, I almost died on the table.

When it was time to move to a rehabilitation hospital, Sarah wheeled me to the ambulance. “I have a favor to ask of you,” she said. “My father died some time ago. When I get married, I want you to walk me down the aisle.”

“Sarah, it’s doubtful I’ll ever be walking anywhere. Besides, you don’t even have a boyfriend.”

“Someday I will,” she said.

Hope and love

At the rehabilitation hospital, where I had pretty much reconciled to living the rest of my life in a wheelchair, I got a call from John Wilder, my volleyball coach. “Congratulations, Andy, you made the team! You’re playing in the Senior Olympics.”

I told him about my accident and waited for him to say he’d miss having me on the team. But Wilder shocked me: “You get better. I’ll play you if you can just stand up.”

His words ignited a spark. I went at rehabilitation with a vengeance. Seven months later I was able to show up for the Senior Olympics. Although I could barely stand, John kept his word: he put me in the game.

When it came my turn to serve, I looked at my wife, Kay, sitting in the stands. She usually shunned my athletic events. I couldn’t blame her; I had always put sports before her in my life. But today Kay was not only present, she was beaming. As I gazed at her radiant smile, I lost it, right there on the court. Suddenly I understood why God had allowed this accident. He cared that much about our marriage.

I collected myself enough to serve. We won that game and the next. As the competition intensified, the coach had to take me out, but our team went on to win the gold medal.

Life from death

Back home, my health continued to improve. Then, suddenly, my liver shut down. In a major surgery, doctors bypassed it with a shunt. That saved my life, but unfiltered blood reaching my brain caused my hands to shake so violently I had to sit on them. I applied for a liver transplant and waited.

A year went by, then two. No call from the transplant hospital. How does one pray for a transplant? For me to live, someone else had to die. What makes me better than someone else’s husband, or someone else’s father?

One day it occurred to me that this wasn’t the first time someone needed to die so I could live. Jesus had done that for me. If God loved me that much, I could trust him with my future.

In what seemed to be a divinely inspired conversation, Kay and I learned that Indiana had twice as many registered organ donors as Michigan. So we rented an apartment in Indianapolis and applied for a transplant. Within two months we received a call: a man had died in an accident; I was one of ten transplant candidates who would benefit.

Through the valley

The speed of my recuperation amazed the doctors. For the first time in five years I subscribed to a magazine in my own name. But I pushed rehabilitation too hard. While doing sit-ups, I ripped the incision in my abdominal muscles. During emergency surgery, doctors put mesh inside my abdomen and sewed the muscles in place. A tube was inserted up through my nose and down into my stomach to pump out fluids.

After surgery, I had to sit in bed in one position without moving and without food. Time passed so slowly that the second hand on the clock seemed to stand still. A day dragged by…two days…three days…how much longer would this agony last? I had never felt so hopeless and miserable.

Around 4:00 a.m. of the fourth night-the longest night of my life-I cried out to God: “Lord, take me! I can’t do this any longer.” Kay was by my side, where she had faithfully been ever since my accident. She murmured, “Nor can I.” At that point Kay and I completely gave up. We were at the absolute bottom of the valley-the blackest hole we could imagine.

Fifteen minutes later, our surgeon unexpectedly entered the room and said, “I woke up in the middle of the night with the feeling something had changed.” He looked over my vitals. “We can take the tube out.” By the end of that day I was walking. One month later, I went back to work full time.

Jumping and walking for joy

My left leg had no nerves, so I figured my volleyball days were over. But my exercise therapist had an idea. She strapped my knees and ankles together so I could jump rope. I worked up to two jumps…then six…then twenty! I was so excited I phoned an old volleyball teammate: “Hey, Tim, I can jump!”

“That’s great! We’ve got a volleyball tournament in Milwaukee in two weeks. Come and play?” That seemed far-fetched, but two weeks later, at the last minute, I decided to go. When I showed up, my old teammates stood and cheered. It was an emotional scene.

The first five games were tough, but in the sixth game I got a perfect set and a legitimate kill. A few minutes later I blocked for game point. That taught me an important lesson: Don’t waste time wishing you could do the impossible. Just do your best and sometimes the impossible happens.

After the game, I thanked my old coach, John Wilder, for inspiring me in the beginning. “You’re the one who deserves the credit,” John said. “You never gave up.”

“Actually, John, I did give up, but God never gave up on me.”

In 2009, seven years after my accident, I received an e-mail from Sarah Scholl: “I have a boyfriend-will you come?”

What a joy it was walking-not wheelchairing, but walking-Sarah down the aisle.

Andy DeVries is a director of development at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

A complete journal of his journey is posted on caringbridge.org under the name “andydevries.”

His website has had more than 25,000 hits.

2011 Andy DeVries

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Source by Michael J. Dowling

Sewing – Tools and History

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The practice of sewing, as in using thread and needle to attach various kinds of material, has been dated to at least 20,000 years ago. Sewing is practically a universal occurrence, and the actual beginnings of it stretch back to the beginnings of history. It predates the weaving of cloth by many centuries, and was used to stitch together hides, furs, and bark for clothing and other uses.

Early sewing needles were made from bone, wood, or natural needles taken from plants as Native Americans did with the agave plant. The earliest verified sewing needles made from iron date back to the third century B.C.E. and were found in what is now Germany. Chinese archaeologists report finding a complete set of iron sewing needles and thimbles in a tomb dating from the Han Dynasty (202 BC-AD 220) in China. This is the earliest known example of a thimble in history. The thimble was developed to assist early sewers to push needles through thick hides and furs, and was first made from bone, wood, leather, sometimes glass and porcelain. Later thimbles began to be made from metal, and before the 18th century dimples in a thimble had to be punched into it by hand. The thimble also became an object of beauty with thimbles made from precious and semi-precious stones, and precious metals.

The first thread was made from plant fibers and animal sinew, which was used to sew together hides and furs for clothing, blankets and shelter. Later it was found that fibers from plants and animals could be spun together to make thread. The ancient Egyptians made thread by spinning these fibers together, and devised methods of dying the thread using berries and plant matter. In China and Japan, silk fibers taken from the cocoon of the silk worm was spun to make very fine thread.

For most of the history of sewing, it was done by hand. From the simplest stitches to ornate decorative work was done with a needle, thread and a steady hand. It remained so until the first patent for a machine that “emulated hand sewing” in 1790 in England. It is not known whether there ever was a machine built from the 1790 patent.

The first functioning sewing machine was issued a patent to Barthelemy Thimonnier in France in 1830. It used a single thread and a hooked needle to make a chain stitch similar to the one used in hand embroidery. The inventor was nearly killed when enraged French tailors rioted and burned down his garment factory because they feared the machine would cause unemployment. In 1846 the American Elias Howe was issued a patent for his machine, but the mass production of the machines did not happen until the 1850’s when Isaac Singer built the first truly successful sewing machine. With needle, thread, thimble and machine, the art and craft of it has not only formed items for our use and comfort. Sewing has helped form civilization itself.

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Source by Alan Beggerow

The Late Colin David

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Colin David’s mortal body left this world on 25 Feb., 2008, but his soul breathes in his art and people. Colin was one of those good adroit painters who fashion human anatomy with their skill and imagination. Just like Ustad Allah Baksh, Sadqain, Shakir Ali, Saeed Akhtar, Colin portrayed women figure as a special element in his painting. He was a superb draftsman with a technical perfection that is all too rare. According to an art critic Marjorie Husain, Colin used to paint non traditional style in the restricted ambiance of Ziaul Haq era which consolidated his position as most popular artists in time.

Colin was born in Karachi in 1937; he began his art education at the University of Punjab when the fine arts departments opened its door to male students in 1956. According to Niilofer Farrukh he once ran away from home because his father, a journalist, did not allow him to take up Art as a profession. Colin David was among the first group of three young men who were taught by Khalid Iqbal, and by Anna Molka Ahmed who was hugely pleased by the talented trio. She included them in many of the Department projects and in later years, spoke of their success with pride. After doing masters Colin got opportunity to study in UCL where he was guided by sir William Cold Stream, an artist who painted in “Euston Road” group style. There Colin got opportunity to paint from life and found his artistic meter. It was a time when Naz Ikramullah was taking a course of Lithography at the Slade, and Colin mentioned meeting her in letters home.

Returning to Pakistan in 1962 Colin rejoined the faculty of Fine arts department of Punjab University, and remained there until 1964, but differences with Anna Molka Ahmed caused him to leave the department and join the National College of Arts, where Shakir Ali was the Principal. Colin remained there, an integral part of the college for 25 years.

In those times of experimentation Colin developed a unique, distinctive style which showed his own inclination. His first solo exhibition, a collection of figure studies in oils painted with great luminosity was held in Karachi in 1970 at “The Gallery” where Colin hailed great appreciation. His work in the genre of the nude inspired new art collectors. The element of design in a form of “figure” always creates balance and harmony in his compositions. Sense of space was an important subject in his paintings. Colin explored the female figure as a symbol of beauty and presented “women as a women”

Colin successfully portrayed the sensitive studies of children at play. In one of his painting he portrayed a child while eating toffee while un wrapping it, chubby fingers persevering, and an expression of total single mindedness on the child’s face. It increased the UNICEF interest in his art. Many of his art pieces went to foreign art collectors.

It was ironical that in his life many times he was obliged to hold exhibition in his home and unnamed spots for selected audience since he was unable to show his work publicly. Once he said “In the earlier stages of my career when figure painting was artistically acceptable, my exhibitions were always highly successful. The public understood and appreciated my work. They still do of course, but it means my exhibitions become elitist.”

In last days of Coulin, despite of bad health he continued to work and exhibited his art work in Karachi and remained popular.

Time goes, you say? Ah, no! Alas, time stays, we go.

– Henry Austin Dobson

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Source by Sehrish Ch

Editing – The Most Important Step in the Writing Process

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Whether you’re writing an essay, a book, a marketing brochure or website content, the most important step of the writing process isn’t in the planning of what you’re going to write, and it’s not in the choice of tone, style or language; the most important step is in fact the editing. As a writer therefore it’s important to appreciate the significance of the editing process and to some extent be able to edit your own work.

The editing process is a systematic way to get the best out of your writing; it involves recognising weaknesses in your use of language, plot, characterisation, dialogue etcetera, as well as identifying the strong areas and realising themes that can be expanded. The editing process should also include the basic proofreading elements of checking for spelling mistakes and grammar errors.

It is often difficult for a writer to edit their own work well as the more time they spend on their writing the closer they become to it. An editor requires a certain amount of distance from the work they are editing to ensure they can get the best from the text they are working on. It is often the case that a fresh pair of eyes will quickly pick up inconsistencies or errors that the writer has missed, because the writer knows what they are expecting to read and their mind generally fills in the blanks or skims over the mistakes. This is why using a professional copy editor is often preferable to trying to edit yourself. This doesn’t however mean that a writer cannot be involved in the editing process; in fact it is often better if the process is a joint effort between writer and editor, allowing for the editor to make suggestions or prompt the writer to think of alternative ways to convey their message. The writer can subsequently develop their own work, in their own style as a result of the editor’s comments.

Many writers find that although their first draft of a manuscript, poem or essay, holds all of the basic elements that they which to express in their work, it may be many edits down the line before they are finally happy with the finished result. This is not a reflection of the writer’s natural ability or technical skill, indeed a good writer is one who is willing to edit, edit and edit again; this commitment to a project will pay dividends in the end, causing a writer to produce work that far surpasses the efforts of a first draft.

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Source by Jo M Roberts