Monthly Archives: August 2013

Commentary: Tweet, tweet!

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Social media is a powerful tool in our modern 21st Century world, but with the advantages of technology, there are also disadvantages as well. When minds are focused on the excitement and pull of reality shows, it becomes increasingly hard to convince anyone to attend a book fair or festival. Personally, the amount of Facebook posts from the LABBX fan page and Tweets from the Black Book Expo profile reveal the attempt to alert others, but then a lukewarm response. I’ve seen this with other festivals as well. Don’t believe it? Do a search and find out for yourself. As they say, “numbers don’t lie”.

It’s been a year or two since I’ve started to seriously use all avenues of social media. From Facebook to Twitter, Google Plus to Pinterest, these sites have been useful in promoting writers workshops, empowerment luncheons and yes, even the expo itself. Yet, I have also seen and have been discouraged that not too many people have utilized it to help get the word out. For example, if you go to Twitter and type in Book Expo America, you will be amazed that months after that event is over, people are still discussing it and talking about it. (use a count of how many tweets show up) If you do a search on say, the Harlem Book Fair or the Sonoma County Book Festival, there aren’t as many tweets posted by participants or attendees mentioning the time and place.

According to a study, more African Americans are increasingly using Twitter more and more than any ethnicity. The Pew Internet & American Life Project estimates 28% of African Americans use Twitter compared to 12% of Whites and 14% of Latinos. In a two year jump from 2010-2012, the same report notes a fifteen percentile jump for African Americans, from 13% to 28% in comparison to white users whose margins were lower; 5% to 12%. The report as well as CNN and the Huffington Post contend smartphones which make up 44% of users.

By this example, the argument that people don’t know how to use the internet is weak at best. Literary events outside of Book Expo America receive their fair share, but when it comes to community oriented book festivals, the interest doesn’t seem to be there. With the printed word slowly transitioning to digital and e-books fading into the vast distractions of a tablet, the pool to create new readers and book lovers is shrinking fast. Within the next few years as this trend continues, not only bookstores cease to exist, but perhaps community based literary events as well.

For anyone who believes this is an unfair assessment consider this; the ratings for the ABC hit show Scandal weren’t the greatest at first, but somehow, it was a popular trend on Twitter which increased their viewership (over 250,000 followers on Twitter). So if we can take the time to discuss a television show which is beloved by many, why is it a challenge to tweet about the literary events that we complain are lacking in our communities? Why don’t we take that same energy to use a tweet about a book signing, a possible store closing, etc. Why must we spend so much time arguing online about which diva has the nastiest weave but won’t post about an upcoming book fair?

As more and more African Americans lean on Twitter, the literary community must learn to adapt to this change. Let’s look at these numbers for a second for Twitter and Facebook: (as of August 2013)

Book Expo America has approximately over 31,000 followers,/ over 14,000 on Facebook
National Book Club Conference – no Twitter/ FB 3,356
Harlem Book Fair – 213 followers/ 1,387 FB
National Black Book Festival – 290 followers/ 12,104 FB
Los Angeles Black Book Expo – 2,699 followers/ 3,122 FB
Black Writers on Tour – No TW page/ no fan page on FB
Leimert Park Book Fair – 1, 389 TW, FB 116
Tucson Festival of Books – 4, 265 TW, 6,635 FB
LA Times Festival of Books – 5,529 TW, 10, 012 FB

(if there’s any literary festivals missed here with Twitter and Facebook pages, please use the comments section to list them)

I was reminded by someone who has experience in marketing that it takes about eight tweets a day before readers take notice. Perhaps this is what should be done next, since individual authors have already taken that advice to heart. The producers of literary festivals such as yours truly, must take that next step and use this trend to our advantage in getting the word out for our events. One other note; in their ‘down time’, Book Expo America tweets perhaps once a day, and on one particular week, eight to ten times. Something to consider when keeping the word out about your event is crucial, even when it has just passed.

Competition online and off is alive and frequent which distracts from the attention of the audiences organizers need to target and lure them to these festivals, that a heavy dosage of posts on sites like Twitter and others is a must. However, one person or organization cannot do it alone.

This should be an effort and concern to spread the word about our book events for all involved in the literary community. Failure to address this problem will be at our own peril.

Charles Chatmon
Authors N Focus Extra

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The Experienced Bliss of an Author

Let me share some experiences I’ve had with several events in the past. Now for those of you who don’t know, I’m also an author of two books which I won’t need to mention because I want to emphasize with those books I’ve traveled to different functions, literary and trade shows and have found some positive results and other results that weren’t as enjoyable.

As a young author just beginning to start on this journey of going out and selling to make a ‘name’ for myself, I had to go to places where it seemed like a good idea at first, only to regret it later in frustration. For one, business mixers were a mixed bag for me. In my first year I went to a dinner inside a hotel where I went on stage to read my poetry, received a few claps of approval, went behind my table awaiting the big result in terms of sales and then…..nothing happened. Well, actually something did. When the dinner turned into a party, the lights of the ballroom where I sold my books turned dim and loud music blared all over. It was impossible to speak to passers-by, and even had one person lay their drink on my table. (yes, this will happen to you too new authors) Needless to say the expected number of sales I anticipated from this one ‘mega’ church in the Los Angeles area didn’t turn out the way I had hoped. I took it as a lesson learned. An experience that would never happen again. Too bad to say how wrong I was.

Two years later in a prominent late summer festival in Los Angeles, I was one of many authors assembled under a tent. My fellow colleagues who had their books published the same time as mine, were aggressive in their methods using that guerrilla marketing which was supposed to work. All it did as author after author walked up to a passer-by holding out a card, opening the pages of a book, speaking to them as they walked past, did more to discourage a potential reader from entering the tent than it did in gaining an interest. Imagine at least five authors walking towards you at the same time with business cards or flyers in hand in your direction. I’m sure a sensible person would turn and flee as those approaching the tent did. I tried to do my best by just sitting and waiting for someone to check out my book. However, it was chalked up as another lesson learned, but definitely the hard way.

Large events such as trade shows don’t necessarily produce a great number of sales. There are people passing by who claim they don’t have the money to buy a book but who would rather purchase jewelry or other items instead. It can be discouraging for that new author who has an interesting book to feel deflated by the lack of snide comments or disinterest. Other authors who share the same area may also feel the sting of disappointment, falling back on each other for support when the crowd around them doesn’t feel in the buying mood.

Now the best times have been when it’s been an outdoor festival and the weather is good. Personally, there was one annual event taking place over the weekend where I ended up moving a lot of books into the hands of interested buyers. More than once I would meet someone who read my works and liked them, telling their friends. I often find that once the sales start flowing, the camaraderie with fellow authors flows better too. What made the weekend enjoyable was the fact there was music along with entertainment that kept the crowd engaged.

A huge side note and warning to all who read this: one of the organizers of the event told me that they planned to cut out the entertainment the following year due to a concern the focus was more on that than on the books themselves. Now there may be an author turned media personality who feels quite the opposite, but I can tell from witnessing the decline of what was once a great event based on the decision to move the festival closer to the community and when it returned to the venue that generated its success, the city of Los Angeles had a taste for something more. The entertainment aspect of a literary festival may be a good thing, but at what cost?

As authors we wear our hearts on our sleeve at times. It’s something to be expected since we expect to receive a reward, a payoff for all the hard work we put into our fiction and non-fiction works. There’s always some information to be passed down or the next great genre waiting for creative minds to produce stories based from it. What no one can predict is the excitement and disappointment of a huge literary festival, a small gathering of book lovers and clubs, the huge numbers of trade shows, business mixers, etc. Yes, the promises of crowds are a great motivator for new authors to take their time and sell their books. They cannot prepare them for the reactions of the public who may or may not be into a certain work.

What I’ve found in dealing with my experience in selling other people’s books at a farmers market in Northern California is this; the sale shouldn’t be the thing. If you go to a festival or trade show hoping you will get one hundred or so people to buy the book, disappointment will follow. If you keep your focus on just gathering numbers for your mailing list, your blog, or social media pages, even if the number of sales doesn’t materialize then at least there will be new names added to a growing list. Even at the L.A. Black Book Expo, I pulled out my revised mailing list and was able to have new people sign up. The early success of my mobile bookstore was a result of having a clipboard and having people sign. That’s how my numbers grew and that’s how the curiosity grew concerning yours truly.

It is the perception as experienced authors and literary professionals, we espouse wisdom for our figurative Mount Olympus to share with the new and aspiring author, but in the examples given in this piece, authors such as myself who have done this for a while hit our peaks as well as our valleys in this literary journey. I imagine there will be many who will and continue to go through the same experiences. If I had sound advice to give it would be this; learn the lesson and build from it.

The next year after my experience at the late summer festival under the authors tent, my mindset was determined on creating a better display at my table. More than anything was my determination to succeed, sell books and enjoy myself with a better attitude this time around. At the end of the three weekends at this festival, I wound up selling thirty books. By the way, did I mention I write poetry which is considered a genre where books don’t sell? I just wanted to share that with you.

From this end, the journey in my twelve plus years has been sweet. It is my hope new and aspiring authors will also enjoy in this bliss as they move forward.

Charles Chatmon
Authors N Focus Extra

Clinton E. Galloway – Anatomy of a Hustle: Cable Comes to South Central L.A.

South Central Los Angeles for the past twenty five years (some would wage longer than that) has been the source of media, particularly movies dealing with the gang violence of the past. What if a different gang conspired to deny the community of a basic need, thereby depriving them of a source that would cause South Central to thrive past the difficulties it faced? In his book, Anatomy of a Hustle: Cable Comes to South Central L.A., Clinton E. Galloway, the gentleman you see in the video above details his personal struggle with a certain ‘crew’ in the city’s political office. We don’t say it often on ANF Extra, but this is a must read.

Who is Clinton Galloway, CPA?
Clinton is an accountant and a business manager who has been living in the Los Angeles area for nearly forty years.

How long have you been writing?
Clinton began writing his book seven years ago after his brother, Carl, passed away. Clinton felt it was time to tell their story.

What inspired you to write your book?
Anatomy of a Hustle: Cable Comes to South Central is the true life account of how the Galloway brothers were barred from the cable business by Tom Bradley and his minions. It recounts how the brother fought all the way to the Supreme Court and won, but were given only $1 in compensation.

What steps did you take to publish Anatomy of a Hustle?
The book was published by a small LA-based publisher which is concerned with social consciousness.

What’s your favorite part in the book?
“As my brother and I were escorted past hundreds of citizens, on our way up the steps to the Supreme Court of the United States of America, we could not help but be affected by the fact that the highest court in the land was going to hear our case. Our small group of regular citizens had brought the second-largest city in the nation to task before the highest court in the land.”

Outside of writing this book, I understand you’re involved in other projects. Would you mind sharing what those are with us?
The author is currently in discussions about a potential documentary based upon the book and the Supreme Court case.

Do you plan on attending any events soon? If so, please tell us where you will be?
The book’s publicist is currently arranging speaking engagements in San Francisco and Atlanta.

How can the readers contact you if they would like to receive a personal copy? Do you have a website?
Please visit http://www.anatomyofahustle.com/

What advice do you have for someone just starting out as an author?
Write for yourself, not the approval of others.

Is there anything else you would like to say in closing?
Please Google the case of Preferred Communications vs. The City of Los Angeles to see numerous references to my case. You’ll notice that the Galloways never got any support by Black Civil Rights organizations. (bold ANF Extra)

 

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Poetry Reading at AC Bilbrew 2013

And now a treat for the Authors N Focus Extra fans…….

Author / poet Charles L. Chatmon was part of the Devos Book Signing and Discussion at the AC Bilbrew Library in Los Angeles, CA August 10, 2013. Here are a few selections from his books The Depths of My Soul and The Voices of South Central.

Yes, he runs this site too 🙂

The Gloria J. Carter Interview

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Miss Gloria J. Carter is the author of A Heart to Live in Troubled Times: Psalms of Exhortation and Comfort. In this interview, she gives us a rundown of her latest book, among other things.

Who is Gloria J. Carter?

I am a native of California. I was raised in the East side of Los Angeles. I have four adult daughters and two grandchildren. I am the sixth child of ten siblings. My parents are alive, married, and in their eighties. When I was nine years old, a lady in the neighborhood prayed with me to ask Jesus to come into my heart. Over the years, I strayed away from the Lord and begin to live a very wayward lifestyle filled with toxic relationships and drugs. In the late seventies, I was introduced to Jesus again by some acquaintances of mine. From that day, my life began to change for the better.

How long have you been writing?

I have been writing since junior high school. Because I was an introvert, writing was the only way I could express my inner most thoughts and feelings. It also brought me the peace and the comfort that I so desperately needed.

What inspired you to write your book?

A Heart to Live in Troubled Times: Psalms of Exhortation and Comfort was inspired through my relationship with the Lord. Through this relationship the Lord gave me the title of the book. He then began to give me inspirational words through my own true life experiences. As a health care provider, mother, grandmother, and at one time a wife (I was widowed in 1995), I would spend hours writing about the many obstacles and challenges I faced on a daily basis. Whether at home, on the job, or communicating with people in general; the Holy Spirit would take real life situations and give me encouraging inspirational words in poetic form; which related to the short stories of true life events.

What steps did you take to publish this book?

The first step was writing my experiences down on any piece of paper I could get my hands on. Napkins, paper bags, toilet tissue, scratch paper or anything I could find to write on at the time. This eventually transformed into my manuscript. I searched everywhere possible to find a publisher who would publish my book the way God gave it to me. Although not really knowing what I was doing I brought a couple of literary books which had an insurmountable list of literary agents in them. I sent cover letters to a few of the agents and made numerous phone calls, but I was rejected. Whenever I purchased books I would search the back cover of the book to see who the publisher was. I would contact them but they were only interested in authors who were already published. I even went to an event where a publisher was speaking. I later contacted the company and they seemed to be interested. They read my manuscript and told me I was an excellent writer.

But during the process, they began re-writing the manuscript. They wanted to change everything about it. I could understand adjusting, suggesting, or even changing some things because I had read that this was part of the editing process. But, by the time the publishing company got through rearranging my manuscript, it sounded like they had written it instead of me. This particular company did not work out for me. That’s not to say it was a bad publishing company, it was just not right for me.

While surfing the internet my daughter came across Tate Publishing and Enterprises. What impressed me the most about this company was the scripture taken from Psalms 68:11. “The Lord gave the word and great was the company of those who published it.” My daughters encouraged me to contact them. And so I did. I was asked to send a copy of my manuscript on a flash drive. Once the company received it they got back in touch with me. They thought my book was a great idea. Tate Publishing and Enterprises and my daughter assisted with the editing of this book. I thank God for it.

What’s your favorite part?

My favorite part in the book is the short stories on “Beauty” and “Don’t cry for me anymore”.

Outside of writing this book, I understand you’re involved in other projects. Would you mind sharing what those are with us?

I am a home health care provider; I go into the homes and assist families with sick and aging loved ones. In addition to home health care, I am involved in street witnessing. Street witnessing is very important to me. It allows me to share God’s unconditional love and forgiveness. I am currently writing my second book. I am also working on inspirational calendars, greeting cards and refrigerator magnets. I will be making them available in the near future.

Do you plan on attending any events soon? If so, please tell us where you will be?

I am currently working on book signing and speaking engagements. I will inform the readers as they become available.

How can the readers contact you if they would like to receive a personal copy? Do you have a website?

They may contact me by email (ahearttolive@gmail.com), by website www.ahearttolive.com, or by mail at (P.O Box 47645 Los Angeles, CA 90047).

What advice do you have for someone just starting out as an author?

My first advice would be to never give up. No matter how many denials you receive, just know that there is a publisher who has a market for your book. Don’t stop writing. Keep moving forward by faith. Pray and trust the Lord for guidance and direction. Be prepared, have your copies ready. Also, make sure you have your manuscripts on flash drive. Learn to endure with patience, it will happen. That door will open and you will be published.

Is there anything else you would like to say in closing?

I would like to thank my heavenly Father, my Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ and the Holy Spirit for moving through me to write these inspirational words of Exhortation and Comfort. I pray this book will bring healing and comfort to all who read it.

Thank you Gloria!

The Dr. Letitia Wright Interview

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Without question, Dr. Letitia Wright is well known in the Southern California area. Her television show and other projects have gained attention in media and in publishing.

For example, this is her bio:

As America’s Crowd Funding Strategist, she teaches workshops for Small Business Administration, is the Los Angeles Crowd Funding Examiner and Guest blogger for other Crowd Funding sites. She also holds a monthly crowd funding mastermind and consults privately with clients on their own crowd funding projects. She is the author of the upcoming book “101 Tips to Successful Crowdfunding: From Someone Who’s Been There, Done That and Got the Cash”. 

Dr. Letitia S. Wright, D.C, is a celebrity, international speaker, talk show host, author, director and movie producer. As the host of the Wright Place TM TV Show, now in it’s 14th season with over 362 shows previously broadcast on television to over 6.5 million homes each week in Southern California on Direct TV Channel 64.Now seen nationally on DISH ON DEMAND network in 60 million homes, The Wright Place TV Show continues to provide resources for Entrepreneurs. Dr. Wright also directs infomercials for some of the hottest products on TV today. Dr. Wright has spoken to crowds as large as 3,600!

She will teach a workshop on the very issue which will be discussed throughout this interview. For now, let’s find out all about her and what she has planned.

How long have you been writing?

Six years.

What inspired you to write?

I wanted to create something for people to get to know what crowdfunding is so that they could have a resource that was easy to understand.

What steps did you take to publish 101 Tips to Successful Crowdfunding: From Someone Who’s Been There, Done That and Got the Cash?

I self published and raised the money with crowdfunding before I even published the book, I even had $1,100 extra. I had it professionally edited and made limited copies. Crowd funding is changing so much, it’s now time for a new one.

What’s your favorite part?

The section where I give people idea to raise the money.

Outside of writing this book, I understand you’re involved in other projects. Would you mind sharing what those are with us?

I am the producer and host of the Wright Place TV Show, now see on Dish on Demand Networks in 60 million homes. That show is for business owners who want to get some information on how to stay ahead of their crowd. It’s also available on demand on my website.

Do you plan on attending any events soon? If so, please tell us where you will be?

I have a lot of events where I am speaking or teaching on crowdfunding and even hold events at my office. I have a crowdfunding bootcamp that is being held September 29th and people can contact me at the website for more information. This bootcamp is for people who want to raise $25,000 or more.

Do you have a website?

Anyone can contact me at www.wrightplacetv.com or just call the office at 909 235 9744.

What advice do you have for someone just starting out as an author?

Make sure you have money to market your book. Without marketing there will be no sales because no one will hear about your book. Selling out of the trunk of your car is over-rated. This is a business, treat it like one.

Is there anything else you would like to say in closing?

Crowd funding is a great way to grow an audience and get your book paid for before it’s even published. I encourage everyone to come out to my workshop. Don’t leave money on the table!

Thank you Dr. Wright for this interview!

 

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The Olayinka Aikens Interview

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Olayinka Aikens is a California native. The founder of an Oakland based PR and events firm, Chocolate Candy Media, she is a frequent contributor for online and print publications and she operates TheChocolateFashionBlog.com. This talented author enjoys the art of writing as we’re about to find out from her.

How long have you been writing?

I started writing when I was eight years old and never stopped. English was my best subject in school. My 7th grade teacher was the first person to really recognize my talent. He encouraged me to write no matter what. I cannot imagine life without writing.

What inspired you to write books?

My first book, Smooth Operators came to me in a dream. My second book Unfinished Business is the sequel.

What steps did you take to publish your books?

I self-published both of my books and I usually hire editors. When I started writing Smooth Operators, editors kept telling me they didn’t know where to put me.

The urban novels had yet to come about and I wasn’t quite romance. I was ahead of my time and a bit of a nomad so I went on to self-publish to learn the business.

What’s your favorite part in either of your works?

My favorite part of Unfinished Business is when one of the characters suffers a great loss and has a moment where he breaks down and shows his vulnerability. A lot of men are afraid to do that for fear that they will look weak or less than a man. This character is an alpha male so for him to be emotional was a huge turning point.

Outside of writing your novels, I understand you’re involved in other projects. Would you mind sharing what those are with us?

I mentor students to encourage them to go to college and learn about technology. I also work as an active member of my sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, Inc., on various community based projects. In addition, I like to show people how to write their own novels. Sharing your knowledge makes you a better writer.

Do you plan on attending any events soon? If so, please tell us where you will be?

I have so many things going on personally and professionally I have to play things by ear! I’m hoping to conduct some writers workshops real soon at some of the Los Angeles area libraries for aspiring writers.

How can the readers contact you if they would like to receive a personal copy? Do you have a website?

People order books and keep in touch with me through my website. www.olayinkaaikens.com. There is a contact page where they can send me email or inquire about projects and receive more information.

What advice do you have for someone just starting out as an author?

Write every day and use life as your best tool for creativity. Most of what I write comes from experiences and people I know. I change names to protect the guilty (laughs) but a lot of the material comes from real life situations. Fifteen minutes of writing a day is best to keep up the momentum.

Is there anything else you would like to say in closing?

As important as it is for authors to write, it’s important for readers to read. Literacy is very important and I encourage readers to keep reading and supporting their favorite authors!

Thank you Olayinka!

 

Kim Robinson / Devos Book Signing August 2013

Author Kim Robinson (The Roux in the Gumbo) along with Author Willie Bruce (The Kings of Credit) read from their books at the Devos Book Signing and discussion at the AC Bilbrew Library in Los Angeles, CA August 2013. Author/poet Charles Chatmon and Paul Higgins round out the panel.

Kim’s website: http://kim-robinson.com

Highlights of the Sky’s The Limit CDC Back to School Program

Here are some of the highlights from the Sky’s The Limit Community Development Corporation’s Back to School Backpack Giveaway, August 10, 2013. Authors N Focus and the L.A. Black Book Expo were on hand with the help of Piccolo’s Books to facilitate a book drive also held at the L.A. Harbor Boys and Girls Club.

The Darrius Garrett Interview

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Darrius Garrett is a multi-talented actor, motivational speaker and author. His book, Diary of a Freedom Writer: The Experience has caught the interest of many, including capturing numerous awards and also reaching #1 on the New York Times Bestselling List. Here’s your chance to know him here.

How long have you been writing?

I discovered writing around 1991 but have been writing professionally since 1997 co-writing a New York Times Bestselling book entitled: The Freedom Writers Diary (Broadway).

What inspired you to write Diary of a Freedom Writer?

I wrote Diary of a Freedom Writer: The Experience (Tate Publishing) because the previous book Freedom Writers Diary was written by us (The Freedom Writers) anonymously. Then the movie Freedom Writers provided a face to our words but the face was not ours. Since many people appreciate part of my story that was portrayed in the movie “Freedom Writer” through the character Marcus; I wanted to share my full story of change, struggle and redemption with the world.

What steps did you take to publish this book?

It took a few years to write Diary of a Freedom Writer. I ultimately wrote the bulk of the book while homeless with my wife and three daughters during 2011-2013. I would watch them sleep in our small single hud space which it influenced me to reflect on my past an provide my best writings and perceptions of my past.

What’s your favorite part?

I really like the chapter called Summer Madness because I speak about the deaths that happen over the summer and how it affected me and there are many that are still going though the same things so when they read my book they realize that they are not alone and there is a way out. Beyond that I really can appreciate each and every chapter for a different reason as I am truly proud of this body of work.

Outside of writing Diary of a Freedom Writer: The Experience, I understand you’re involved in other projects. Would you mind sharing what those are with us?

My hands are in a few things, I am currently writing a new book called Secret Touch & A Flower from Autumn, I am also an actor and just finished the second season of a show I am a part of where I play the role of a Football player name Dante Lavonte on a show called the “Kroll Show” with comedian Nick Kroll on Comedy Central. As a motivational speaker I am currently open and seeking all speaking engagements to help motivate people with my story as well as I am trying to raise money to go into the Juvenile Jails worldwide and provide my book Diary of A Freedom Writer “The Experience” to them so that I can help inspire & mentor them since I am a product of the jails myself.

Do you plan on attending any events soon? If so, please tell us where you will be?

Currently open for all book signings and speaking events.

How can the readers contact you if they would like to receive a personal copy? Do you have a website?

Yes. My website is www.darriusonline.com

What advice do you have for someone just starting out as an author?

Please don’t give up on your dreams. We all have stories the needs to be told and read by others. There is room for anyone that is dedicated and willing to take the time and put their stories on paper.

Is there anything else you would like to say in closing?

Yes. I ask that people go out and support Diary of a Freedom Writer “The Experience” as the readers purchasing the book and talking about it to friends is very much needed. Feel free to schedule me for appearances by visiting my website. Also I can be found on twitter under the handle @herbanprince. Thank you so much for the opportunity to share my story.

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