Commentary: Dare to Be Different

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YOU’RE AN aspiring author with dreams to break into the world of literature. You have an idea in your head, ready to write or type it out, sending it to an editor, obtaining a copyright for your idea all the way to publication. You find out your book – the baby you’ve been working on so diligently – is the same as Barbara the Bookseller’s in genre, characters and plot. Yet, you plan on jumping the ‘Imitation Lit’ bandwagon so you took a chance and now you have to face the fact readers would rather prefer Barbara’s book to yours. You decided to ‘write for the market’ and wound up with lower book sells than Barbara, who is making a killing.


This is one example of aspiring authors who dared ‘write to the market’ or ‘write to the trend’. Remember when vampires were the big rage? Charlaine Harris was the talk of the literary world around 2008 when the HBO series ‘True Blood’ aired, based on her Sookie Stackhouse novels. Alan Ball, the producer of the show according to the story, browsed through the bookstacks of Barnes and Noble, found Ms. Harris’s Dead Until Dark (the first installment of the Stackhouse series) and from that, True Blood began to take shape. Of course the success of the show prompted other aspiring authors to take a bite of the vampire genre (as well as regular television networks) and added their own spin to it. Eight years later, no one is really talking or writing much about vampires any longer. While the attention has shifted to dystopian societies under the Young Adult genre which spawned the Hunger Games and Divergent series in both print and movies, no one is for sure where the next big genre will be. This is where you, the aspiring author can take advantage.

 

Perhaps you have a manuscript languishing inside your hard drive or laptop. Maybe it’s buried under a mountain of notes or hidden in a folder. Whatever the reason aspiring author, this is the moment, this is the time for you to revisit your project and write. It may take time and although you may or may not reach the status you desire in the literary world, taking the first steps to create that first, different masterpiece is within your reach should you decide to take it.

It’s easy to write “Imitation Lit’ novels or stories. Consider the number of books flooding the market with the same plot, characters and writing styles of a J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, Zane, Omar Tyree and others. If you go to any bookstore, you’ll see Imitation Lit in full display with titles that identify close with the genre. For example, we had an Authors N Focus Facebook group page where we had so many authors writing in the same genre with the same style of book covers posted on our photo gallery, with links that described the same ‘cautionary’ tales……do you begin to understand our decision to abruptly end the group. There was no one who dared to be different, no one who offered a genre different than the one we observed on our timeline daily. If you want to stand out, write a novel or non-fiction book that has a different slant on a familiar story. Otherwise aspiring author, your hard work will be part of a market already saturated with sameness, which is what you need to avoid at all costs.

Readers will reward you if you have a fictional tale or non-fiction subject that is interesting, funny, and makes them feel it was well worth it to spend their hard earned money on your book. Not only will they support you, but the possibility they will share your work with friends, family and other book lovers or book club is high. No one can really tell whether or not your first work will be a success, only you aspiring author can ensure it by putting in the work, trusting only your voice, seeing your vision in your manuscript and all within it. You cannot write like Barbara the Bestseller, but you can write like yourself, so now is the time to stand out, make your literary dreams a reality and be different. Dare and trust yourself to be that way.

Charles L. Chatmon
Authors N Focus Extra

Email: chazz@authorsnfocus.com

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Write to Live Your Dreams (for Aspiring Authors)

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I read a book by Les Brown who is a motivational speaker and author called Live Your Dreams. Published in the 1990’s, there is an excerpt in which Mr. Brown laments the loss of one aspiring author who had an idea for publication – only to see their life end and manuscript unfinished. It reminded me of Prince who planned to write his memoir and unfortunately, it will never be completed. All of the stories that could have been introduced by potential new and outstanding writers will never see the light of day, for they are hidden deep in the grave. This is the reason why I needed to publish a book so that readers can see what thoughts I had on my mind, what’s on my heart to share.

The years pass by so quickly. I remember celebrating the release of The Depths of My Soul fifteen years ago, happy that I finally achieved a goal of publishing a book. It wasn’t on the top of my list when I made the conscious decision to become a writer, it was a goal that eventually entered my mind. With the release of another book on the way, I am determined to share my artistic gifts before it’s my turn to rest in the grave.

I encourage all aspiring authors to follow your heart, take that leap, write and then work to get your book published. There is no greater feeling in the world but to see your name, your completed manuscript in print. I’ve ran into many authors who have a story to tell, hard at work on their project only to see life get in the way of their dream. You shouldn’t let this happen to you, make whatever plans you have to see your dream come true.

Distractions can be a nuisance. My rants against social media are a reminder I need to take the time and work on my own stuff. It’s far too easy to be seduced to the call of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat or any other service that takes up too much of your time. You’re a writer, so it makes sense for you to….write. Forget about who’s following you or unfollowing you, who’s on your friend’s list and which elementary, junior or senior high school friend (and crush?) is on your search list, if you want to make your dream come true as an author, you have to write. Time is much too short.

For those of you who are ‘aspiring’ to write that first book, please make the conscious decision to do it right now, RIGHT NOW! Don’t wait until you lay on your deathbed lamenting the time you could have used to reach your dream. When I started AOL nineteen years ago, there was an woman who posted her works on a message board. Now she’s become a well-known bestselling author with two movies based on her literary works. That can be you so-called aspiring author if you decide to focus working on your project. The decision is yours. I can say no more but I wish you well. It’s up to you to make your dream a reality.

Charles L. Chatmon
Authors N Focus Extra

The Rising Outrage of Fandom

Via a friend’s Facebook post, I happened to peek at an article called ‘Fandom is Broken’. Written by a movie critic named Devin Faraci (thank you sir!), he mentions Anne Wilkes from Stephen King’s Misery, who forced author Paul Sheldon to bring her favorite character back to life by writing a manuscript which appealed to her needs of reviving Misery Chastain back to the land of the living.

More importantly, Mr. Faraci in detail reveals the challenges for writers and other creatives to deal with an overwhelming horde of fans who insist the character(s) they love should always have a happy ending, no matter what. I will agree with the author of the piece that real drama does not operate like that, nor does good, solid storytelling. In the 21st Century, fandom is built like a fast food restaurant where you ‘have it your way’. Last time I checked, good stories are not Burger King.

In today’s ever connected social media world, writers are indeed walking blindfolded on a very narrow tightrope in building and nurturing a fan base. It’s important for writers to communicate with them, but their fans should not dictate what the next creative project should be. Hard as this may sound, fans become fans because they like a writer’s work or simply like the writer. Fans also become invested in a character like Misery Chastain, like Anne Wilkes. If something happens to change the reader’s perception of their favorite character like Captain America, fans will take up internet arms to display their displeasure, outrage, total disgust of where the author is taking the storyline. I would suspect a decade ago, fans didn’t have a feeling of ‘entitlement’, that they were just as content to see how a story would play out amid the twists and turns along the way. Fans used to have more faith in their favorite writer to ‘stick the landing’ and make the story count. Today, even bestselling authors on their own blogs complain about the immature treatment they receive from a group of people who claim to love a certain writer’s work, but raise cane about it.

This is movie related, but there’s no better example of fandom running amok than what happened to director (and writer) Joss Wheldon because of a particular comment in Avengers 2: Age of Ultron. He wrote a scene in which Natasha Romanoff, AKA the Black Widow (through flashbacks) was subject to a variety of procedures that left her unable to have children. This left an emotional toll and in one fateful statement, she mentions to Bruce Banner (aka the Hulk), “You know what my final test was in the Red Room? They sterilized me, said it was one less thing to worry about. You think you’re the only monster on the team?”

The internet went bananas, especially on Twitter. Social Justice Writers were outraged! The headlines from at least two sites prove that!

Io9: Black Widow: This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

The Daily Beast: Avengers: Age of Ultron’s’ Black Widow Disgrace

The reaction to the Black Widow’s admittance of her sterilization set off a firestorm heavily criticizing Wheldon to the point he was forced off Twitter. Submitted for your (dis)approval, here is the screenshot from disgruntled fans who had plenty to say: (watch how Wheldon handles the responses with class)

In one fell swoop, Natasha Romanoff became Misery Chastain. A sterilized, ‘monstrous’ Misery Chastain who became a talented superspy who could kill when needed, but not bare children. Paul Sheldon had it so lucky! He only had to deal with a psychotic, mentally disturbed Anne Wilkes who under different circumstances, could have created a profile on a Fanfic website and continued her own adventures of Misery. The 21st Century ‘fans’ are looking for symbolism, not story. They’re looking for ‘representation’, not plot. They are unwilling to be less excited to delve into the challenges a certain character must go through in order to overcome, and more excited that Misery needs a girlfriend because it would be a huge boost for the lesbian community that Misery has……..

This is madness. Enough, seriously!

Writers of fiction are not social activists because we the public feel they should be. They have a choice to present deeper issues (not just social) that are a part of their world, not because we feel they should represent ours. Keep in mind in fiction these are characters, protagonists who we root for and feel we have much in common with as readers. An antagonist is a character we cannot wait to see their comeuppance. In the world of ‘real life’, berserk fans who send nasty tweets to their favorite writers because of a scene in a movie or passage in a book they despise like, need to slow down and understand it is fiction you’re reading or seeing, nothing else. The author’s job is to make readers actually read a book and/or create engaging characters that we have empathy for and want to succeed. Opinion pieces that focus on anything not relating to the character, such as representation, image, etc, is a huge waste of time. Sorry to state the obvious. Not that it’s any less important, but it’s not the writer’s job to push for a doll of Black Widow or to promote her in other departments he or she has no control over. The best they can do is write a story and hope you enjoy it. That’s all.

I invite you to read the Fandom article linked on the bottom of this entry so you can see and judge for yourself whether or not you’re one of the fans guilty of contacting your favorite author on social media for the sole purpose of complaining and not constructively criticizing their work. I feel authors appreciate constructive feedback that will help them become better storytellers in the future. In today’s uncompromising fandom, criticism borders on outright insanity which authors definitely don’t need or deserve.

Charles L. Chatmon
Creator, Authors N Focus Extra

Birth.Movies.Death:Fandom is Broken

The Deeper Side of Lisa Ridgeway

 

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We start our tenth year on ANF with an interview with an up-and-coming author, Lisa Ridgeway although she is no stranger to the written word. You’ll find out what Ms. Ridgeway has in store for her fans and book lovers as we’re about to find out more of ‘The Deeper Side of Love’

Hello Lisa, please tell our audience a little about yourself.

My name is Lisa Ridgeway. I’m an Author, Poet, Editor, Motivational-Speaker and Facilitator. My previous book: “Dancing with My Heavenly Father, is a collection of spiritual-poems; designed to encourage, uplift & motivate. In conjunction, I’ve established a weekly spiritual-devotional; aimed to inspire & enrich the mind.

How long have you been writing?

Professionally, I’ve been writing for 20 years.

What inspired you to write “The Deeper Side of Love”?

My book: “The Deeper Side of Love” is a reproduction copy from the original-version; which I wrote, in 1996.

What steps did you take to publish your book?

Being a writer for many years, I’ve now learn the ends and outs of book-publishing; in regards to my latest project, (as well as other books I’ve done; and assisting fellow-authors).

Throughout the years, I’ve weaned my skills in editing, copywriting and collaborating with graphic-artists, to design book-covers. I’ve now learned; first and foremost, to research publishing companies to find the right-fit for my publishing needs; and to make sure, they offer the best quality service (for book-publishing).

It’s my desire to maintain creative-control, when developing my book(s). Furthermore, I study what readers are looking for in a book and focus on how to reach every genre.
It’s my desire to ultimately start my own publishing company; and assist up & coming authors in developing their book(s).

What’s your favorite part in “The Deeper Side of Love”?

When the (young woman Roxy) comes into the understanding of what true-love looks like verses, being deceived by what she thinks love is. Also learning to love one’s self even when you feel as though, you’re not worth loving.

Below is one of my poems (not in my current book):

THE COLOR OF MY SKIN
Why does it seem I’m hated because of the color of my skin?
Why do people treat me differently; never trying to find out what lies within?

People who don’t know the contents of my character; hate me…not for who I am but what they fear about me.
They don’t care what matters to me; they look at me and see what they wanna see.

I’d hope this hatred would have ended long ago; but instead it seems to linger wherever I go.
I’ve tried explaining it to my kids; why it seems people have a problem with the color of their skin.

I recall one day my son came running into the house. He was upset and crying. A kid called him “Nigga.” He asks: “Mommy…why don’t he like me; why did he call me that name?”
And for some reason my innocent little son hung his head, as though he felt some type of shame.

I was angry and sad; yet…at the same time, damn mad.

Then it occurred to me; people don’t like us because we’re one of a kind.

We come in different shades of brown. Our women have full lips and full hips; you know…the ones that are round.

Our men are built like none other; their physics are quite unique.
As a matter of fact our men are what other women seek, between the sheets.

We’ve seen adversities and know how to come through;
God has given us staying power; how to be overcomers and pull through.

We have strong arms; strong backs and strong legs; we know how to stand.

When I look at the ones who’ve come before us I’m proud of those who’ve paved the way.
The ones who had courage and strength so, we could see better days.

They are the reason why…we’re free.

We’ve springboard off the shoulders of those who suffered long ago.
Unfortunately these senseless acts of hatred are still prevalent and reminiscent. There are some who still hate and won’t let it go.

So to those who judge me because of the color of my skin…that’s alright with me; but if you really want to know who I am and how I came to be.
I say to you…you must first learn to look within.

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

I’ve assisted a fellow-author, in developing his latest book-venture. Currently, I’m in the midst of collaborating a daily Spiritual-devotional book. Also, I’m working on my next book-project.

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

Tentatively; I hope to attend the: Black Writers on Tour April 30th.

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

At the present, I don’t have a website; hopefully it’ll be up and running by early summer. However, if anyone is interested in purchasing my latest book; or Dancing with my Heavenly Father (my former book), they can contact me. I can be found on Facebook & Instagram (Lisa DeDe) Ridgeway. Also, they can email me at: deeperside1996@gmail.com or lsrdgwy@yahoo.com.

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

First & foremost I would say, never give up on yourself. Even when you get discourage…keep forging ahead; you’re worth it! Learn all the aspects when it comes to publishing your book; it’ll greatly benefit you in the long-haul. Fine-tune your skills, work hard to develop yourself & your book(s). Attend workshops, further educate yourself in developing your writing-skills and always get your works COPYRIGHTED before you allow others to view it.

Thank you Lisa for this interview. Everyone, please support Ms. Ridgeway by buying a copy of ‘The Deeper Side of Love’ right now and be sure to attend the Black Writers on Tour April 30 at the Carson Community Center in the city of Carson, CA to show her some of your love for her talent.

Recap of the Successful Compton Urban Book Expo

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Just like that, it’s over.

The inaugural Compton Urban Book Expo took place at the Douglas Dollarhide Community Center over the weekend. Judging from the reactions of authors, organizers and local politicians, this is one literary festival that plans to be around for a long time. KLIQ Radio founder Devonte Styles and station manager Shelly Ward were the organizers of this fine event with the support from the city of Compton to make this expo happen as it encouraged literacy in the Hub City and beyond.

Held inside the spacious multipurpose facility, the community center became an ideal venue for authors to set up and sell their books to the public. A panel discussion “The Blueprint for Success” was held before the expo with several authors sharing their knowledge and experience from subjects on publishing and marketing their works on social media. A children’s area was provided for free face paintings and other fun activities for the youth. Authors were given the opportunity to speak on the microphone and pitch their books to attendees on hand.

Not only did Councilwoman Emma Sharif add her support, but it caught the attention of Assemblyman Mike Gipson of the 64th District as well. For entertainment, local hip hop artist Ms.Toi made an appearance with Isabell Izzy Requena, a participant on the television show X-Factor and the founder of the Miss America Belize Pagent. Returning to books, most of the authors in appearance either veterans of past literary festivals or first timers excited to be a part of the first annual event in a city known for negative news and the rap group NWA.

The Urban Book Expo is a great win for the city of Compton. It has put them on the map as far as a destination for literacy and the hard work and dedication of Mr. Styles and Ms. Ward cannot be mentioned enough. It takes cooperation, effort and foresight to make a community literary festival happened and the reactions on the expo’s Facebook page show the excitement, the promise and anticipation of great things to come. Hopefully it will produce more creative and non-fiction authors who will also produce literary works that are straight outta Compton.

Charles L. Chatmon
Authors N Focus Extra

Commentary: The Sting of Criticism

A list of resources for new and aspiring authors

When you become a writer, expect criticism. In fact, be surprised when you do not receive any at all. Chances are there is someone in this big blue world who will not like your book, your article, your poem, your essay, it doesn’t matter. Criticism is inevitable. You cannot run from it and as a writer, you definitely can’t respond to it as much as you would like to. A recent example occurred when I was doing research on a favorite book of mine written by someone close to me. The reviewer made some pointed comments, disparaging the novel as well as the book cover. It was very unflattering of the author’s work.

Personally, I’ve critics tell me to my face the reasons why they didn’t like any of the books I wrote. At first those comments stung and I felt the need to defend my work. This stage of my writing career, I understand their comments are simply opinions in which they have the right to express them or post them online. The big mistake writers make is they treat these opinions as gospel – when in fact it’s only one reader’s view of your work, not the majority. Writers have to consider it’s one person’s voice of disapproval while others who have read the book or article may be in total support of what they do.

Criticism is a two edged sword, not only does it cut down your work, but it may also fall into being personal with the author as well. For example, if the aim is to criticize the work, then just focus on that, not the author’s personality, their online persona, their looks, none of that is necessary. Yet, critics will indeed take it that far with the author when there’s no need to. This is not to say writers do not have fragile egos and it’s permissible to type or say abusive words towards them. Writers would like to discuss what is on the printed or digital page. Anything outside of that boundary is not constructive for both parties.

Criticism is inevitable in a writer’s life. The way to overcome it and not let it sour your attitude if you’re a writer is to just simply take it as it has been mentioned earlier – an opinion. While you may never be a James Patterson or J.K. Rowling, rest assured in the beginning of their writing careers and even now, they have their share of critics who are never satisfied what they produce and would prefer someone else as their ideal author or writer. Every writer has a critic, every last one of them. As a writer, you should be so lucky. You have someone’s attention and that’s not so bad.

Charles L. Chatmon
Authors N Focus Extra

The Marion L. Jones Interview

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Our lives are filled with rich, inspiring experiences that deserve to be written in a book. Marion L. Jones is one such author who has undergone a crisis in his life and with some help, hopes to inspire others as he explains in his first book, Poems From Within Me, A Recovering Addict. His second book, The Full Picture of Marion Levi Jones has just been released but for now, let us focus on his first book.

Who is Marion Levi Jones?

I’m a just a man that love what I do and enjoy helping others who are or were like me in the struggles of addiction. Now ten years ago I was cracked out…my little brother called me a crackhead. God had seen fit to give me another chance at life. Through my writing, even when I was still under the influences of drugs, He kept His hands on me. See, I was lived in abandoned houses and cars and ate out of garbage cans…didn’t have to live like that but I chose to. The devil had me just that bad thinking no one loved me. Lost my dad at the early age of five and it sent me to a place of numbness. It took me to the age of 50 to realize the root of my downfall. Once I came to myself and asked the Lord to save me from the enemy’s hands and sincerely ask forgiveness he went to His Father on my behalf to get me back on the right road. Now I’m saved and love the Lord with all my heart. I still have a long way to go but not where I used to be and know that I’m not going back. I can fight the devil with Him by my side. I became a father again to my children and a big brother to my siblings and a son to my mom. I’m so grateful for that. It’s about recovery from drugs, alcohol and suicide, to help others to see that they’re not alone in this battle.

Mr. Jones, how long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since 2008, I was in a rehab center and God woke me up three nights straight at 1am in the morning. I never wrote before but after those three nights, I never stopped. I didn’t even know how to use a computer but I learned quickly and I was off and running.

What inspired you to write your first book?

My first book was Poems From Within Me, A Recovering Addict and that was me getting to understand what got me in this mess and showed me how to look at me inside out. Writing it made me open up and let the hurt of all those years come to surface and deal with them one by one. I knew I had to share this with the world.

What steps did you take to publish Poems From Within Me, A Recovering Addict?

I went through so many changes to get my book perfected, tried many self-publishing companies but they didn’t treat me right or messed up my book in the process. Now with the second one, I had a publisher who was willing to help me but fell short and ran out on me. So out of frustration I threw my book in a drawer for months not looking at it at all until I got hurt on my job which took me out and I’m still out. I won’t go back till 2016. It gave me a chance to finish it with the help of a friend from California that was willing to put her book aside to get mine done.

What’s your favorite poem inside the book?

God of the Valleys

The 23rd Psalms

Most of us know the about or have read the 23rd Psalms

The most recognized chapter in the Old Testament

and the equivalent to John 3:16 of the New Testament

We are used to being called and treated like 2nd class citizens

But being in the Lord…you are not a 2nd class but a true child of God

The Lord will watch over you

Know how to keep your surrounding still…while there’s chaos all around

He will walk with you

Even when they come to sleigh me I will trust in Him

He will welcome you

Even in my valleys and can’t see my way out I will trust Him

If the Lord is your Sheppard…you have nothing to worry about

I don’t care what the new trend is or new fashion…

I know the God will supply all my needs

As long as we trust in Him as our Sheppard…He will supply your nourishment

When you’re hungry He will feed you When you’re in need of thirst He will give you drink

He knows how to calm the rages waters so you won’t drown

Even when you think all is lost His rod will fight the enemy away

When you are lost and way out into the deep

He uses His staff to bring you back in your right mind

The Lord Is My Sheppard I Shall Not Want…

You read the rest

Copyright 6/5/15 MLJ Recovery

What’s the one thing you want the readers to learn from Poems From Within Me?

I want them to learn that they are not alone in their journey but know that God is just waiting on them to call on Him. To those that are saved, this book reinforces them through their valleys.

What makes Poems From Within Me stand out from the rest?

It’s my personal walk, not just hearsay but my living testimony…my relationship with the Lord and they can have it too. Maybe Chapter 2, really there is none… all of them will grab you one way or another.

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

I do motivational speaking at rehabs and shelters; I talk to people trying to get back in the world from being incarcerated…I don’t sugar-coated the message because I want them to know it might be their last chance and tomorrow not promised to anyone.

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

I have a book signing at my home church coming up and one in Carson California…well a meet n greet in November. One in Baltimore coming up real soon.

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

Email me at levijones55@yahoo.com

Facebook under Marion L. Jones and inbox me

Books are $15.00 with your address.

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

If it’s about you and you think it can help someone else, write it but it starts with what’s ever in your heart.

Where do you see yourself five years from now if you continue writing books?

Five years I want to be able to have traveled to different seminars talking and helping lost souls…My motto is Saving Souls Today, One Day at A Time.

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

Hold on to God’s Unchanging Hand.

Marion L. Jones with his latest book, The Full Picture of Marion L. Jones

Marion L. Jones with his latest book, The Full Picture of Marion Levi Jones

We’d like to thank Mr. Jones for this interview. Please like or follow us on our social media pages and our website, http://authorsnfocus.com to keep in touch with the authors who are keeping their books and lives in focus.

Until No More says, I Just Want To Write!

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With her latest book, I Just Want to Write!, Not only is Until No More becoming a name in the literary world, but she’s making her mark as a reporter and talk show host. In this interview, Until shares her views on writing, poetry and her upcoming projects.

Thanks for taking time out to speak with us. Let’s know more about Until No More. Who are you?

My name is Quanda R. Graves but I’m better known by my pseudonym “Until.” I am first and foremost a poet as well as a journalist and literary columnist for the California Crusader Newspaper that coincides with my Youtube Channel and assisted blog entitled Until TV.

How long have you been writing?

I have been writing for over twenty years (20).

What inspired you to write your book I Just Want to Write!?

What inspired me to write my book entitled “I Just Want to Write!” was this book called “Round the Corner” by the Bankstreet Reader Group, published in 1965. It was the first book I had ever purchased at my first book fair in my elementary school at 6 years old; in which I still possess, that still provides great inspiration.

What steps did you take to get your book published?

The steps I took to publish my latest works (which is my first edition) was the following: 1.) I wrote the book 2.) Found two editors 3.) Sought out a Graphic Design artist to manifest my vision for my book cover. 4.) Filed a DBA (doing business as) for the name I created for myself as I chose to be a self-publisher “Black Swan Publishing” 5.) Purchased my ISBN number under my company’s name. 6.) Purchased formatting, Distributing, ebook and paperback copy services from Create Space. Let them post it on Amazon. 7.) Created my own website attached to my Paypal and did my marketing and PR with the contacts I have. Not all in this order but that is the just.

What’s your favorite part of I Just Want to Write?

My favorite part was the whole process. Because I love to learn, there was a lot that I was enlightened by. The research I had to do was crazy, but enjoyable. I have a poetry edition and you state for me to share one or two of my favorite poems, that’s hard because I have more than a few in this book. The three favorites are “Writing Heals” and “My Pen’s Position” and “My Life as the Sheet”.

What’s the one thing you want the readers to learn from your book?

What I want people to learn from my book are a few things: 1.) It’s never too late to follow your dreams. 2.) Never place your dreams in the hands of someone else without staying connected. 3.) Put in the work with anything you do because the rewards are endless and last but not at all least 4.) Have fun.

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

I am involved with many other projects. Thanks for asking, no I don’t mind sharing them. I have created my company called Quanda’ Significance LLC, which specializes in greetings and decorative gift ideas and I’m currently in the process of getting ready to launch my very first line of greeting cards with my first theme called “Sometimes I Wish” this July of 2015.

I am also gearing up to create my own poetry segment that will be featured on my Youtube Channel called Until TV – slogan: You never know what you’ll see, on Until TV.

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

I am, however I’m still working on the particulars for each event I’ll be attending. But to read excerpts of my book, to find out my next move, events or interviews you can always visit my book blog called “I Just Want to Write!” at http://www.ijwtw.blogspot.com

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

I have a website and readers can purchase my book and/or contact me on website at www.untilnomore.net .

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

The advice I have for someone starting out as an author is, keep a notebook to write down all of your ideas, be organized. Hone down all that you want to do, make a plan. Once you do that, make a list of all you need, find out the cost and begin pursuing your checklist.

Where do you see yourself five years from now if you continue writing books?

Five years from now, I see myself as a well-established writer in not just books but in many genre’s I’m constantly indulging in, like greeting card writing, speech writing, essay writing and so on. I do many things, but to be honest, it all reverts back to writing. My joy is writing, so writing whether it be five year from now, ten years from now or more, writing in every way that I desire, I’ll just be—a WELL –respected and established yet loved writer.

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

Yes. I wish you and many others great success, happiness and joy in your writing and other endeavors you pursue. Many blessings Love Until…

The Sabata-mpho Mokae Interview

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Sabata-mpho Mokae is an accomplished South African author, poet and journalist. He took time out of his busy schedule to speak with us. In our interview, we hope to find out more about Mr. Mokae and his published works.

Greetings Sabata, please share your background for our readers.

I’m a South African writer. I write in English and Setswana (a language spoken in five southern African countries by over six million people). I live in a city of Kimberley, known more for being the first place in the world where diamonds were discovered and mined. On a daily basis I work as a journalist for Independent Media’s DFA newspaper, also one of the oldest papers in the country.

How long have you’ve been writing?

I have been writing for as long as I can remember. I do remember writing some things – it might have been poems or just fiction pieces – when I was in high school. But I know that in 1991 I stumbled upon a novel “No Longer at Ease” by one of Africa’s most celebrated writers, Chinua Achebe. The story was so interesting, even to a young mind, and his storytelling so flawless that it ignited the storyteller in me. After reading that book I started to seriously attempt writing.

What were the inspirations behind each of your published works?

The first one was a biography of Sol Plaatje, a pioneering South African writer and political activist. He was the first African to translate William Shakespeare into an African language and the first black South African to write an English novel. He was also one of the founder of the African National Congress, currently the governing party in South Africa and the oldest political organisation in the African continent. His life, works and what he stood for inspired the book and continue to inspire me. My other works are inspired by the realities of life in the post-apartheid South Africa; our new struggles and even our aspirations.

What inspired you to write in different genres such as poetry, biography and novel work?

I don’t want to confine myself to one genre even though I feel comfortable as a fiction writer. I don’t write a lot of poetry and my only collection of poems, Escaping Trauma, came after a decade of writing poetry. Writing a biography came naturally to me as a journalist. At times you write a feature story about some important person and still feel like you should have not stopped where you did. Right at that moment you need to write something longer about the person. When I started writing fiction I was experimenting. That’s why I was so pleasantly surprised when my first novella won two national awards. But what I know is that I had fun when writing it, especially because it’s in an African language. Both my Setswana novels are being translated into English by translators in the United States. But also writing in Setswana, among others, is being the opposite of what apartheid intended me and others to be. African languages were not official languages in South Africa. Attempting to Anglicise us also meant culturally confusing us. A culture carries values, indigenous knowledge and history. Making people forget their language means making them forget all those things. Writing in a language that the apartheid regime marginalised is showing apartheid a middle finger. But it’s also about cultural pride and the dignity of a people.

What were the steps taken to publish books such as The Story of Sol T. Plaatje to your current youth novella Dikeledi? Did you self-publish?

The first one was published by the in-house publishing house of the Sol Plaatje Trust and because I was working for the Trust, it was fairly easy to be published by them. I had been commissioned to do research by the Trust and in my spare time I wrote the book. Once I was done they looked at it and decided to publish it. Dikeledi was published by Geko Publishing, the publishers of my first novel which had sold fairly well nationally. The publishers had assured me they’d publish anything that came from me and they did. The one I self-published was Escaping Trauma, a collection of poems. This was because most of those had already been published in several anthologies and journals. Getting them in one volume was mainly getting all my cows in one kraal. They were enough to fill a volume.

Please tell our readers why it is important to read South African literature from authors such as yourself? What can we learn in the States by reading your books?

The post-apartheid South Africa is an unfolding story. It’s the story of a nation that’s picking up the pieces after apartheid. Ours are stories of a cosmopolitan Africa, a rising Africa, a now post-Mandela Africa. My generation of writers speak truth to power, travel the world and find inspiration for creativity wherever they go. They also write about Africans and possibly for Africans in Africa and the Diaspora. They know and are enraged by what happens to young black men in America. They’re aware of how Native Americans and Aboriginal Australians live and know that their struggles are our struggles too. Many African-Americans who came here found that we share stories, we find inspiration in each others’ stories. So these are stories of people trying to make ends meet, fighting racism, wanting to live normal lives despite the odds that are against them, reclaiming their space in the world and working to regain the lost dignities.

Do you have any other literary artists in your family? If so, could you share with our readers who they are?

The other writer in my family is Gomolemo Mokae, a medical doctor who decided to leave medicine for literature and writes in two languages like I do. He also wrote television dramas.

Are you involved in other projects at the present time? If so, would you mind sharing them with us?

I’m translating the children stories of a celebrated South African storyteller, Gcina Mhlophe, into Setswana from English. I’m also working on a new book on Sol Plaatje’s letter with England-based historian Dr Brian Willan. In the next few months I and Dr Lesego Malepe, a retired professor in Boston, Massachusetts will start co-writing a series of children’s books aimed mainly at South African and African-American children.

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

This year I plan to stay at home and write. I want to make up for lost time. I have been too busy for my liking. However, I have trips planned for Ghana and the United States in September and October.

What are your plans for promoting your works and yourself in the United States? What will you need to “break through?”

I’ll be going to Oakland, California in October to promote my new book “KANAKOTSAME – in my time”. I hope to get it to bookstores and independent booksellers in the Bay area. I’ll also go to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to do the same and deliver a lecture or two. Basically I need access to the US reading community. Hopefully I’ll get invitations to literary events in the US, which will help me to interact with readers and fellow writers in the US.

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

At the moment they can go to my publisher’s website www.gekopublishing.co.za. I’m on Twitter (@mokaewriter) and Facebook (Sabata-mpho Mokae). Otherwise my email address is mokaes@gmail.com.

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

Writers are witnesses to the truth. Know your truth and be truthful to it in your art. Write the books that you’d like to read; that’s the only way you can be sure others will read them.

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

The world is one village with diverse people living in it. The best way to know others is to read about them.

The Lisa D. DeNeal Interview: Dead Lies

Lisa D. DeNeal

Besides being one of the biggest fans of Scandal and other favorite television shows, Lisa D.De Neal is an outstanding journalist and new author. She’s here to share her latest work, Dead Lies with us.

Let’s know more about Lisa D. DeNeal Please tell us more about yourself.

My name is Lisa D. DeNeal and I am a freelance journalist and published author from Gary, IN.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing for more than 20 years.

What inspired you to write your book Dead Lies?

“Dead Lies” was inspired by my work as a freelance writer for a daily newspaper called the Post-Tribune. I decided to create an alter ego in the lead character, Adam L. Davenport and create a story line blurring with what I’ve dealt with over the years. Adam loves what he does, but has to deal with a percentage of citizens in his hometown where he is reporting stories. Many don’t like him because they don’t like the newspaper. He catches a lot of hell from critics.

What steps did you take to publish your book?

I started the manuscript about five years ago and set it aside until last year. I finished the manuscript, edited the work and my sister told me about Createspace. After doing the research, I decided to self-publish through Createspace. I chose to do all of the editing and layout myself and chose the cover and not have to pay for it.

What’s your favorite part of Dead Lies?

I love the flashback sequence between Adam and his ex-wife, Eva, who is a staff photographer for The Daily Perspective which is a rival newspaper. I had fun putting that together.

What’s the one thing you want the readers to learn from your book?

With “Dead Lies,” I want readers to see that lies don’t ever die. The truth is going to come out one way or another.

What makes your book stand out from the rest?

While there have been published novels about journalists, but I decided to focus on what a freelance journalist goes through personally and professionally.

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

I am taking notes on another novel involving a debt collector and how his personal actions may result in a debt that he can or cannot pay. I also freelance for a couple of magazines.

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

I don’t have anything on the horizon yet.

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

You can email me at miss_lisa_67@hotmail.com. “Dead Lies” is available on amazon.com and createspace.com.

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

Write. Whenever you come up with a story idea, write it down. Don’t give up. Keep writing until the end.

Where do you see yourself five years from now if you continue writing books?

I would love to write and produce the film adaptation of “Dead Lies” and a couple other films.

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

Thanks for the opportunity to promote “Dead Lies” and I hope readers support it.

Here’s hoping we’ll flood our Twitter accounts advertising the Dead Lies movie coming out one day! Thanks to Ms. DeNeal for the interview!

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