Monthly Archives: May 2014

The R.J. Tolson Interview



We are blessed here at ANF Extra to interview a young man who has built a mini empire in the world of publishing. His name is R.J. Tolson, and before long, his is a name that’s sure to garner lots of attention as he’s already built quite a resume for himself as the CEO of his own company. He took time out of his busy schedule to discuss his present (and future) plans with us.

How long have you been writing?
I have been writing since I was 6-yrs-old and I just turned 21 today, 5/15, so 15 years.

What inspired you to write this book?
There are many books that have made a difference in my life, most prominently Aristotle’s Metaphysics, Plato’s Republic, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, D.J. Machales Pendragon, C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, and J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.

What steps did you take to publish Chaos Chronicles Book 1: Zephyr The West Wind?

Originally I had been posting my chapters on a website called Wattpad, where I quickly had a reading count by thousands. By the time I finished, and before I took off the novel from the website, I had millions. I decided to hastily self-publish, only to find a few months later by chance that one of my online readers happened to be a publisher at the Universal Kingdom Print publishing house. I signed on with them, and re-published Zephyr. The republishing process took almost a year, as the book was dwindled down from 800 pages to 400. In reference to self-publishing, I think it is a great platform for literary work that has revolutionized the way literature can be spread across the world. It’s a great start when done wisely.

What’s your favorite part in the Chaos Chronicles Book 1: Zephyr The West Wind?

The scenes that involve Zephyr and his encounters with the embodiment of his true self, Sora. It makes readers think deeply. Such scenes not only push readers to think about the characters, or even just themselves, but how they both relate to each other and how they may relate to others.

This excerpt from Zephyr The West Wind, Chapter 4, is a favorite, too.
“The Barghest was a black oversized dog with gray hairs that covered it’s whole body. If it were just that, maybe I wouldn’t have been so scared. The demons face was similar to the shape of a monkeys while it’s pointed ears stuck straight up into the sky. It’s mouth was so large that it had to keep it’s head below the rest of it’s body so it would not tire out, and it’s mouth was filled with human like teeth only five times larger and sharper. The yellow eyes, combined with the completely blood red face and gray hairs just seemed to paralyze me.
Of course, that was one of the natural effects the Barghest had; It shocked it’s prey into paralysis and ripped them apart before the shock wore off. I guess you could call me lucky, but the demon seemed to want to take it’s time with it’s new food. It slowly walked on all fours towards me as it wagged its scruffy tail, until it was only a few feet from me. The Barghest itself only stood as tall as five feet, but the intense glare of hate it gave and feeling of fear only made it seem bigger.
The Barghest whipped it’s head up as it stared at the dark blue sky and opened it’s grotesque mouth, letting out a loud ear piercing sound. As it howled, the sound seemed to strike fear in the surrounding area as it was so quiet after the demon closed it’s mouth the only sound that I could hear was the growl from it’s muzzle. Oh great, I thought to myself. Everyone else is just as scared as I am, but they were all just spectating. Lucky them.
Before I could continue my thoughts, the Barghest opened it’s mouth, crouched it’s legs, and lunged straight for my head.” –

Outside of writing this book, I understand you’re involved in other projects. Would you mind sharing what those are with us?
I’m the CEO of RJTIO and divisions RJTINC, Forever Trust Charity and RL Infinity International, and President of Sages of Essence and Living Writers.

Do you plan on attending any events soon? If so, please tell us where you will be?
Emmy & Tony Award winning actress and Academy Award & Golden Globe Award nominee Cicely Tyson and the Tyson Community School of Performing & Fine Arts have invited me to be a guest speaker on Friday, May 16, 2014 at the Tyson Community School Secondary campus in East Orange, NJ. (Note: this event has already taken place)

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

What advice do you have for someone just starting out as an author?
First, I suggest you do your research. It will save you a lot of time and money in the long run, as well as give you far more opportunities because you will know what to look for. I also advise posting your work on a safe social literary website like I did, because you will be able to get feedback on your book and see what it feels like to get both bad and good criticism, as well as ideas and a chance to improve your writing before putting it out into the world officially.

Is there anything else you would like to say in closing?
In all honesty, looking back on the journey it feels like it went by way too quickly. I remember coming up with a way to make money using the limited resources I set for myself, and the skills I could use in making my ideas a reality, and then things took off. Now, it wasn’t easy. I learned a lot of my ethics and drive from my Grandfather, a great businessman in his own right. I worked all day, especially during my “free time” during high school, which at that point was hard considering all of my friends had been doing activities. And as I advanced in the business world, I found because of my age, and sometimes my race as well, that people often looked down upon me. Coincidentally, they still do, and from that I learned to take each of those experiences and make it a challenge. From those continuous challenges, I was able to get to where I am now through hard work, hope, and determination.

Eloise S. Woods, Esq.


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Face of Hope: Carol Guscott



Here is the author of Face of Hope: The Carol Guscott story willing to share her experiences with us.

Who is Carol Guscott?
My name is Carol Guscott;–author, speaker, and Christian woman living in Orange County, California.
I like gardening; planting vegetables and herbs, writing, telling story, cooking, and listening to music and classic books.

I believe that life has a spiritual dimension and that I’m a carefully design element in a mysterious mosaic of life. My passion is to offer hope and encouragement from my experiences through my writing and speaking.

How long have you been writing?
Seriously for about ten (10) years. It took eight (8) years just to write and get my first book, a memoir, ~Face of Hope: The Carol Guscott Story published.

What inspired you to write Face of Hope: The Carol Guscott Story?
Afflicted with blindness and disfigurement, I was destining never to hold a job. I persevere in my search for meaning in all that I had experienced since my sudden blindness. As I go about making contact with people, they would say to me, you have a great story to share with the world—you are to write. After careful consideration I affirmed that my new life’s does gives me different insights; different sorts of understanding, and different sorts of wisdoms! So maybe these people who are telling me to write are right about my future as a writer. Sensing there’s no going back to the old life I had lead that was a life I could not return to with blindness, I saw my need for the new career path as a writer. With a passion I embarked on writing my life’s story in a book, ~Face of Hope: The Carol Guscott Story.

 What steps did you take to publish Face of Hope: The Carol Guscott Story?

As I suddenly found myself on a journey for a new career, I knew I would not get there all by myself. Seeing that I needed expert help if my goal to get my story publishes is to be realized, I embarked on a searched to find an expert writer.

At every opportunity I got I shared with the important people I meet my desire to have my story a book. One encouraged me to get a handy recorder and record my story on cassette tapes….

I went to the school for the blind to receive rehabilitation. I who had never sat at a typewriter or computer keyboard before was now learning to type. At school I shared with one of my teachers that it’s my desire to tell my story in a book, and I want to find someone good at writing to partner with me to make me a success. She told me her best friend Gigi is a good script writer, she works for a Hollywood studio, and Gigi would be an excellent choice for me. My teacher assured me that she would get her friend Gigi to write my book.

That weekend Gigi and I talked by telephone, and the following weekend Gigi journeyed to my apartment and interviewed me.

Listening to the radio I heard comments that the actor Paul Riser, and others Hollywood celebrities received millions of dollars in advance from a New York publisher named Rob Weisbach of the publishing house of Simon & Schuster and the books didn’t sell for the publisher to make back the money given.

In a conversation with my Oscar winning actress friend, Helen Hunt, I mentioned I wish my story be a book, and asked if she knows of a publisher could contact. Helen told me Rob Weisbach had published her co-star Paul Riser’s book, and she promised me she would contact Rob on my behalf. Rob called a week later, and He asked I send him my first five manuscript pages. With a Vision of Success dancing in my head, I contacted Gigi. She journeyed to my home for the second time, to interview me….

Hours later on leaving my apartment, I urged Gigi to do her best with the writing. Gigi assured me that she would indeed give it her very best. With that said, she departed my home to write the five manuscript pages for publisher Rob Weisbach.

Two weeks later Gigi returned with her specially crafted five pages manuscript for Rob Weisbach, emphasizing that the writing of the five pages took her two whole weeks, fourteen days to write, and that they are her best work ever.

I sent the pages to Helen, and she forwarded them to publisher Rob in New York.

Days later Rob Weisbach called to inform me my five manuscript pages were received, but are not good enough for him to consider me a book contract. A better job could be done, and he will find someone in Los Angeles to assist me to get my story well written.

Days later I received a phone call from Mim, Rob’s recommended help. Mim told me she’s instructing a writing class at Della Reese’s church office in Los Angeles, and I should come visit her as she wants to see me.

On a Saturday afternoon I journeyed by cab to Los Angeles to meet with Mim. At the end of her teaching session, Mim and I sat apart from the group to talk about the matter of her writing my book.

I discovered Mim’s a highly sought after ghost writer—she was presently working on three books: writing the actress Victoria Principal book, changing the ending of the book, ~Finding Fish by Antwon Fisher, and writing a another.
Mim told me her husband Victor is an actor, and he don’t work all the time, therefore, she has to work for those who can afford to pay her well for her services. I am to go home and write my own book.

With the writing skill I acquired at blind school, like a mad woman I went home and write, deleted, rewrite, and rewrite, and more rewrites. My efforts were so that my manuscripts became my heart on the pages. Knowing I needed help to polish my book for publication, I bought a book about publishing a book. AS I’m blind, is can the pages and slowly went through the list of editors offering their services for hire.

Days later I hired an editor, but to find she has eight people’s work she’s editing. Months turned into years working with her….
Having a four hundred pages manuscript in hand, I journeyed to the Mount Hermon Writer’s Conference to get me published. My manuscript was critiqued badly; the critiques all say to me,” Your manuscript is too big; you need to reduce its size. People are not interested to know every detail of your life from the day of your birth to the presence. You have a good story, but it could be great if the size reduced, and the writing improved. You should consider your book chapter’s magazine articles!”

I find the critique so very harsh that every time I try to get my mind around the critiques I wiped out big time.

At home I was so devastated over the bad news I got at the Mount Hermon’s writer’s conference that even when lying in bed sweet sleep couldn’t poured into me as I was filled to the brim with bitter yearnings.

I dismissed all I was told of my manuscript, and spent my nights and days sending out query letters and book proposal to agents and publishing houses throughout America, and countries of England and Canada. The task exhausted me, and in the end I failed big time; I found no success anywhere.

In time I affirmed the critiques at the conference were right, and it’s time for me to take the next step forward. I hired a second editor, one of the Mount Hermon’s Writers conference critiques. When I sat with this lady she had told me she could be of great help with the manuscript, and make it a success.
A year and a half passed with us tirelessly working together to improve my manuscript.

When all the work was done on the manuscript the honeymoon I experienced with Hollywood celebrities was cooled. I sought to find Rob Weisbach whereabouts. I sadly learned from Helen and research I did on the internet that Rob Weisbach is no longer with the publishing house of Simon & Schuster; the multi-million book deals he contracted with celebrities did not make a profit for his company, and he’s departed and was trying to re-invent himself.

A literary agent who acquires memoirs for the chief editor at HarperCollins contacted me. After he read the manuscript, he offered his services to be my agent—he assured me he would get me published by the New York publishing house of HarperCollins. He sent me a contract, and I eagerly signed.

He forwarded my manuscript to the editor at HarperCollins New York office.

Weeks later, agent Michael enquired of my built-in-audience, the amount of people I have on my mailing list waiting to buy the book upon its release. The HarperCollins editor sent me a questionnaire seeking to know if I’m capable to sell at lease fifty thousand books for HarperCollins, the minimum amount of books for a new author to sell for HarperCollins. Realizing I don’t have a big audience, and most likely incapable to sell 50,000 books, I was dropped from HarperCollins new author lists.

I knew I had a great story worthy of publishing. I vowed I would get publish by some means.

A book contract from a small Christian publisher in Kentucky arrived in the mail. I signed the contract, and two years later my book was released.

What’s your favorite part in Face of Hope?
I would say it’s the story of me hanging out with Hollywood top celebrities. The relationship I had with them was like a romance–their presence enlightened the book…. Without them being in it, the book would otherwise be of a sad story.
Outside of writing this book, I understand you’re involved in other projects. Would you mind sharing what those are with us?

I’m only a speaker—I tell stories on my feet at different groups whenever the opportunity comes, just to promote the book.
Do you plan on attending any events soon?
No—don’t have anything on the calendar…
 How can the readers contact you if they would like to receive a personal copy? Do you have a website?
One may contact me via the internet: YouTube, Facebook, and on my website,
What advice do you have for someone just starting out as an author?
To any new authors, the book publishing business is a difficult business to be in. It works well if you are sophisticated enough, and have a huge audience waiting in the shadows to buy your book.

 Is there anything else you would like to say in closing?
Writing a book is a team effort—it is more complex than what one sees at first glance. The writing of a book is sending a statement saying we can all write new chapters for our lives.


A Blueprint for Deception

Note: the following is taken from Thoughts On A String

This week, due to our new partnership with the L.A. Southwest College English department, the L.A. Black Book Expo joined with the school for their annual Say The Word celebration of poetry and spoken word. Our segment, not necessarily of that genre was a panel discussion with two lovely ladies, Ms. Robbie Butler (Ms. Single Mom: Yes You Can!) and Cheryl Dorsey (The Creation of a Manifesto: Black & Blue). Our topic was based on Richard Wright’s “The Blueprint of Negro Writing”. The title for our version; The Blueprint for Success.

As moderator, I enjoyed the information between Cheryl and Robbie as they talked about their books, experiences and advice to the young people who stayed to hear them both. One point mentioned by one of the ladies stood out in my mind during the conversation in addressing a blueprint for the next generation: be honest. This is something I have to agree with wholeheartedly. When it comes to this art of crafting stories or disseminating information to a reading public, the only requirement as a writer that your audience requires is that you share the facts from your heart what you know to be true, no matter what the subject. In keeping with the tone of the conversation, the true blueprint for success as a writer is to express truth in your writing. It may make a few in power uncomfortable and even as we hear in church, ‘step on toes’, but for this twenty-first century literary crowd, the only way a writer can achieve success with his or her fans, is just be honest.

Many people know about James Frey, the author of A Million Little Pieces which put him in the spotlight especially after winning an endorsement from Oprah Winfrey that caused his sales to go up. After it was found out most of what Frey wrote in his memoir wasn’t true, the following clip shows you what happens when you cross the path of a person as influential as Ms. Winfrey herself:

Now this would be the ‘death knell’ of a writer, any writer to be placed in a platform such as Oprah’s Book Club where she’s promoting the work because she believes it and wants it to be successful. Once it’s been revealed it is less than what she or even her fans expected – the trust factor between reader and author are severed, never to be sown again. However, it does take a bit of ‘clearing the air’ as Ms. Winfrey and Mr. Frey have done.

So while reader and author can reconcile on some level, the trust factor, the one quality needed to gain and build a fan base in this competitive market, is hard to get back. To be fair to Mr. Frey, he has rebounded in a way, writing at least two books since that incident. Also to be fair, he’s not the only one as this link reveals and also the following author mentioned below.

Margaret B. Jones ( Margaret Seltzer, real name) is another author who built a trust factor with readers when her book, Love and Consequences: A Memoir of Hope and Survival came out in 2008. When it was released, her account growing up as a half white, half Native American child who became associated with one street gang based out of L.A. I recall when this book was touted on local media in Los Angeles, how this now proved to be unbelievable story captivated the literary world. Ms. Seltzer under her alias was invited to hold book signing in bookstores, interviews on the radio, etc.

In this deservedly scathing article by L.A. Times writer Sandy Banks (penned the same year), she blasts Seltzer’s work as truly as it was meant to be – fiction. Part of the blame goes as Ms. Banks mentions, to her publisher who didn’t take the time to fact check Margaret B. Jones’s background. Unlike James Frey, once she was exposed as “fully white, grew up with her biological parents in the upscale San Fernando Valley community of Sherman Oaks and attended Campbell Hall, an affluent Episcopalian day school in the North Hollywood area of Los Angeles.” Even Motoko Rich of the New York Times offered her own critical opinion of Ms. Seltzer’s work. This proves you don’t have to be Oprah to spot a fictitious book under the category of non-fiction to smell a fake, but once you do and you’re a part of media (although they have their own trust issues of their own. Look up Jayson Blair), authors who take the fraud route have no chance of redemption, ever. Trust factor blown, never to recover.

By the way, this is the only video of her on the internet where in her guise as Margaret B. Jones, she describes life in the hood. Six years later (she was even outed that year), we know none of this to be true. Unlike Frey, she has not recovered as an author and perhaps never will.

As I stood hearing Cheryl and Robbie yesterday at L.A. Southwest about honesty in your writing, I wondered in our increasingly growing literary community of writers and authors, how much of our written works is factual and how much is sensationalistic? It’s hard to tell and even for publishers, unless they have fact checkers on staff, they can get caught up in the fabrication as well. With this in mind, readers should remind themselves whenever they purchase a book it should come with the mindset of ‘buyer beware’. Either the author wrote a book with engaging subject matter they can believe in, or if it’s found the contents of the book are a hoax, their time and money may be lost. It’s all a matter of trust.

Charles Chatmon

Authors N Focus Extra

First Comes Love, Then Comes……TC Wheeler!

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TC Wheeler comes to us from Queens, New York and is the author of “First Comes Love, Then Comes….”. The CEO of her own TC Wheeler Publications, she definitely has a lot to tell and we’re glad she took time to share it with us.

Who is TC Wheeler?

A vision and a past time that turned into a profession/best seller. At 25, TC Wheeler; hailing from Hollis Queens, New York, is making a name for herself. Instead of going the traditional route, and finding someone to publish and sell her book, she took matters into her own hands and birth TC Wheeler Publications. Through her love of books and writing, TC has made characters come alive, life lessons told, and added a little comedy to it all. Even though she has just recently popped up on the scene, this woman is no stranger to the limelight. As modest as she is, others has submitted her works into numerous contests and local papers, and hands down, she has stirred the pot and caught people’s attention. She has done speaking engagements around the east coast, motivated others to follow their dreams, and help people change their outlook on life; just by her words on paper. TC is a very powerful writer and a very remarkable woman. With her comedy and her real life point of views, she has fans all across the board. TC explains that her main goal with this publication is to give those who feel their voice isn’t loud enough a microphone; and that is what she plans to do.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing for about 15 years but took to writing seriously about 5 years ago.

What inspired you to write your book First Comes Love, Then Comes…

I’m an avid reader. I started to grow jaded of the books I was reading. It came to a point where the stories were all the same. So I took it upon myself to write something different. Every story was the same…I needed a different ending.

What steps did you take to publish your book?

First I had to do something about reading the same stories, so I took it upon myself and wrote a remarkable novel that is appealing to all

Once done, I then edited the novel myself

Next I recruited a professional editing service to double check my editing and then instead of mailing my book to numerous publishing companies that will only pick it up when they felt like it, I took it upon myself to birth my own publishing company.

After the birth of TC Wheeler Publications, I then placed my book in numerous book fairs, added it to the Book Expo of America, as well as several promotional sites, media and blogs. I also became partners with Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and other various bookstores and sites.

What’s your favorite part in the book?

I really can’t say what my favorite part is because it’s a spoiler alert. Once you read, you will know exactly where my favorite part is!

Outside of writing First Comes Love, Then Comes…., I understand you’re involved in other projects. Would you mind sharing what those are with us?

I am involved with a group that is to inspire young women to express themselves through writing as well as helping them on the road to entrepreneurship. I am also in the process of helping other authors get their work out to the public. I am also apart of several youth programs in and around my area.

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

In May, I will be at the Book Expo of America in New York City. Check my blog periodically, I’m always popping up in various locations and blogs.

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

I can be contacted at and I can also be contacted at

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

No matter what anyone says, NEVER give up your dreams. God always have a plan for you, never ignore his call.

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

If there’s something you’re tired of seeing the same thing over and over, do something about it! In life there will always be obstacles, once you hit them, don’t give up. Trust me it’s not the end of the world. It’s just the beginning.

If you’re planning to attend Book Expo America at the end of this month, be sure to say hello to TC!