By afric.iWRITE | 1:38 AM
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7 things I miss doing; Now that technology has taken over.

by Uloma Emenyonu

  1. Letters: I miss the days of writing letters. Those days you had to write your friend or loved one, it would take weeks to get to the person; sometimes they were never even delivered. The funniest one was if you had to write your friend or loved one who lived in the US or UK, that took about 3 months or so, and then before you received the person’s reply, it would be another 3 months.
If you were in the boarding house like me, it was BIG deal to receive a letter. It meant you were special.
The best were the love letters. How I used to love getting them nice love letters, especially if it was from a toaster I liked. I would read them over and over again and then keep them safely stuffed somewhere. Again, if you were in a boarding school like me, it was big deal if the letters were ever found by nosy friends. In my school then, those chics would read them in front of the whole class and people would either jeer at you, or secretly wish they were you.
I miss those days, when we used to ‘tap’ people’s stamps, so we could use them to write letters. We even used to go as far as trying to re-use old stamps. We would carefully use an eraser to wipe out the black marks on the stamp; and trust good old NIPOST, those letters never got delivered.

 2.     Birthday Cards: I don’t remember the last time someone sent me a card for my birthday. Thanks to text messages, and phone calls, those gestures have gone extinct. Now, with facebook? Forget it. And don’t flatter yourself by thinking that your friends all remembered your birthday. If not for facebook birthday notifications, trust me, you wouldn’t have been such a celebrity on your birthday. I really really miss birthday cards and those days i used to just spread them out on my dressing table, or hang them in my room, then when the month was over, i would keep them somewhere safe so that my friends could see them when they came over.

3.  The days of “no-cell phones”: Believe it or not, there were times we had no cell phones. Those days that you could set out to visit a friend without knowing if he or she was in town. Sometimes you would wait at the person’s house for hours, without knowing that he or she was just next door.
It was worse when you travelled all the way from the east to visit your friend or relative in Lagos, only to find out that they had moved house, or that they travelled.Those days were sweet believe me.
Now with GSM, we know this can never happen, but still, we miss those days

4.Making international calls through NITEL
Do you remember the time we used to depend on NITEL for our international calls? Those days if you ever ventured to use your NITEL line at home to make international calls, your parents would hear “nwi”. The NITEL bill for that month would be enough to pay school fees for you and all your siblings for a term and your father would still have change to buy your mother a new wrapper.

If you wanted to make an international call, you had to go to NITEL, and buy a call card of ‘God knows how much”. This call card entitled you to about 4 to 5 minutes of airtime. Then, you had to stand on one long queue,  longer than a traditional BRT queue from Oshodi to CMS on a Monday morning. And then when it got to your turn, you had to speak, and then wait for the person on the other side to hear it, before you could now speak again. Tough one I tell you, but I do miss those days all the same.

 5.    Making Local Calls with NITEL
Who remembers this line: “ All trunks are busy, please call again later”, and then the dial tone would be gone. Those were the days of land lines. And mind you, not all of us had land lines. Some of us used to go to our neighbor’s houses/ offices, or father’s offices to receive phone calls. Then, your caller would call and someone would come to the house to tell you when next the caller would call again. And then, you would abandon any prior plans and go to venue of the call to sit by the phone.
If you had mischievous people around you, they would use another phone within the house and tap your phone calls. Funny what we put up with, but I loved it.

6.    The days of Tally Banking
There was a time visiting the bank was a whole day’s job. If you ever had cause to visit a bank, it would be good not to make any other plans for that day. The Banking halls were always filled with an average of 30-100 people ( I might be exaggerating here). You would be given a tally and then you would wait for the whole day for your turn. Most times, your turn would come just as the cashier wanted to go for lunch; and that lunch usually took hours. By the time you finished from the bank, you would be hungry and very very tired.

 7.    The Type writer:
I don’t remember the last time I saw any of those noise makers of those days; the type writer. Where if you finished typing a line, you had to shift it back. Those of us who studied Business studies during our J.S.S days had to learn how to use it. Woe betide you if you made a mistake. You had to look for Tipex to clean it off, or you would start all over again. Then if you wanted to make more copies, you would place a carbon paper underneath your paper and put another paper. Most times they never came out clear. But we loved them all the same
The last time i tried to use a typewriter, my wrists nearly broke from punching those keys so hard.
We're so used to the computer now, but i still miss the things of old

Uloma's days at Alvan Nursery School (I guess)
There are so many more that i don't remember, but i do miss those days a great deal. i'm sure you miss them too

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By afric.iWRITE | 3:35 PM
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Writing and Publishing In The Age Of Social Networking

Written by Myne Whitman, and Published by Saraba Online Magazine, Issue 7.

"Myne Whitman tells the pros and cons of self-publishing, social networking, and all their in-betweens."...EI

It was August 2009. I had decided to start writing full time a few months earlier. I had joined a writing group and somebody suggested blogging. Since then, my blog has proved indispensable. I had started by sharing my work-in-progress and as feedback poured in, I was encouraged and inspired to continue. I love being read and that is the opportunity I appreciate most of all from blogging. Since I want to get better, blogging is the perfect way to sample a variety of opinion. Not all criticism is constructive, of course, and it is helpful that I can discuss these comments with my writing group. I have also taken part in several writers‘ blogfests, which are useful not only because of the writing involved but the critique from fellow writer-bloggers. This way I‘ve received professional feedback on my writing exercises, scenes from my WIP, and short story drafts.

In addition to my writing group and blogging, I polished my writing craft and style through freely available online writing courses. The critique from my writing group showed that they were taking effect on my work. Soon, I wrote =The End‘ to my WIP, which had grown from a novella to a complete manuscript, and I began to shop for publishers. I queried traditional publishers in the United States but their replies showed that they preferred a story set in the US, which was their major market or if it had to be African, then literary fiction. I really wanted to tell a contemporary Nigerian story which Nigerians would love, something simple and easy to read. So I looked to Nigeria. But there were not that many publishers and the few I discovered appeared resource constrained.

So I began to study alternative means of publishing. I researched Lulu – whom I actually used for an initial eBook – Authorhouse, and other so-called Vanity Presses. I kept an open mind as I read the testimonials of those who had used them in the recent past. I found that most of the successful ones were full-time writers and they‘d had a prior audience before self-publishing. As both of these factors described me too, I saw that this avenue was worth a try. Others factors I considered included the fact that the publishing world has begun to come to terms with the internet age and self publishing was becoming a valid choice of getting books to an audience. The print-on-demand technology and the advent of eBooks and e-readers like kindles and Nooks meant that the cost of producing books were no longer too exorbitant for an individual.

My decision was made when I considered my blog followers. Most of them had been reading A Heart to Mend as excerpts on my blog and I wanted to give them a chance to read the whole story. I also found out that most publishers would not accept a manuscript that had been published online. I knew that this was just a first outing and there were several more stories to come. So I said, traditional publishers could come later if necessary, self-publishing it is! My research had shown that I needed a way to take some of the burden off and I chose AuthorHouse because they assign an author a production team. I also liked that they had access to the major retailers in America, Europe and the UK and a lot of author resources to guide one through the stages of
marketing and publicity.

The main advantage of self-publishing for me is that as the author, I have full control over the content, design, and marketing of my book. I also decide when it goes to press and I retain all the publication and subsidiary rights. Thus, I was free to penetrate a niche market like Nigeria, which a commercial publisher would have ignored. (I know of several books by Nigerians, set and written in Nigeria but published in the UK or USA, which are yet to be distributed in Nigeria). I also believe that my book had a greater chance of success because I was very committed to promoting it, more than say, a publisher who has hundreds of other titles. In terms of sales, A Heart to Mend has been doing relatively well and I get most of the net revenue. I want to point out that apart from the commercial success, there‘s also that deep satisfaction of knowing your creative work is out there making and contributing to conversation. A Heart to Mend was published in December 2009 and I am always amazed by the number of people who have read the book from all around the world.

On the flip side, self-publishing is expensive and requires a capital outlay to begin with rather than an advance you may receive from a traditional publisher. Even when my book came out, I had to invest further time and money in the publicity and marketing. If I had been published traditionally, I could‘ve left all that to the agents and publishers and gone back to my next project.

Not so with self-publishing. I had to put in a lot of effort and energy to get A Heart to Mend buzzing. A hurdle to be aware of is that a lot of media organizations still do not review, distribute or feature self-published books.

You can understand why I will always be grateful for the vehicle the internet provides to a writer and published author like me to get my book out there. Setting up an active blog and publishing my book has served a double purpose for me; finding out the target audience for my kind of writing and building a platform too. If not for the social networking channels, A Heart to Mend would never have gone viral the way it did. It was through the support of bloggers that I did my first blog tour for A Heart to Mend with the attendant publicity. By the end of that blog tour, I was getting requests for interviews and features almost daily. I put up chapter one of the book on a free reading website and it became a massive hit. It remained in the top 10 for three consecutive months!

The beauty of the internet was that I could remain in my work room with just my laptop and a connection, and meet up with these dozens of interviews. As time went on, I continued networking with other writers and self-published authors and I as I shared what I had learnt, I picked up some good nuggets from them too. I set up a Twitter page and opened up my Facebook profile for use with my pen name. As I became more adept at using the word-of-mouth tools on those two sites, the visibility of A Heart to Mend quadrupled. I learnt how to interconnect these media, how to set up scheduled tweets or how to update Facebook via RSS feeds, etc.

The challenge of using social networking is that of distraction. For me, Facebook has proved the most addictive. I find that sometimes while updating my pages, I may stray into something else entirely and so on, thereby wasting precious time that could have been put to better use. One day I took a break from writing and as usual, the first point of call was Facebook. The site was down, and I kept refreshing it for almost five minutes before it dawned what I was doing. I laughed at myself, left a message on Twitter about my addiction and went to check some other things. I had to really think that day but it is what it is. Apart from work, Facebook is also the only place I can keep in contact with all my family and most of my friends.

Finally, I think the reason social networking worked so well for me as a writer and publisher is because I am a social person. During the times I am not writing, I enjoy the company of other like-minded people and being able to use the internet and social networking to connect to more and more people in my writing life is a thing of learning and also of pleasure. At the end of the day, I have to find a way to strike a balance by ensuring that my internet use is mostly purposeful and in a way that is linked to my writing and also setting out a specific time for my writing itself without any distractions. That way, I still get a lot of writing done while remaining in the social circles.

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By afric.iWRITE | 2:59 PM
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Saraba Issue 7 Explodes with Myne Whitman, Kola Tobosun, and Others

Recently, I got a short word from EI of Saraba, and I was glad to read the name of a freind of mine, Myne Whitman. Below is what he said to me.

EI: Saraba, an electronic literary magazine is in its 7th Issue. In these

issues, we have exlpored themes as diverse as Family, City Life,

Economy, Niger Delta, Religion/God, and Technology.

Our goal, from the onset, has been to encourage young emerging writers

- although our contributors have ranged from unknown writers to

well-known ones. We are proud to assert that our contributors are

mainly young writers, whose writig are previously unknown, and whose

talent and promise are overt in their works.

We have published writers mostly from Nigeria. But in addition, our

contributors are writers resident in London, Paris, South Africa,

Malawi, Zimbabwe, Kenya, India, USA, Zimbabwe, Russia, Cameroun,

Australia, and so forth.

Our 7th Issue, which is our most recent, was released on 30th

November. It is our proudest effort till date. In the Issue, we

question what technology means to us, and whether it can even be


Writers in the issue include Sokari Ekine, Myne Whitman, Unoma Azuah,

Kola Tubosun, Temitayo Olofinlua, Damilola Ajayi, Omar Abdul-Jabbar,

Uche Uwadinachi, Ironkyo, Emmanuel Iduma, Yemi Soneye, Olusola

Akinwale, Deji Toye, Mark Lalude, and Adebiyi Olusolape.

It includes an interview with Russian digital artist, Vladimir

Gerasimov, as well as a feature of his illustrations.

The issue can be downloaded from

Our Issue and Chapbooks are published on and can be

downloaded free. We call on literary enthusiasts and the general

reading public to explore the wide talent on offer.

We encourage reviews, links and critical acclaims of our work. Our

site is compatible for discussion and sharing.

Join us in creating unending voices
d'INK: Please, lets support EI and Saraba.

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