Archives

Being a Good Literary Citizen

In a few months, American citizens will elect a new president, a new leader who will set and direct the country’s agenda for the next four, maybe eight years. While I don’t want to talk about which candidate has my vote (I promised when I started my blog four years ago that I would avoid the BIG THREE–politics, sex and religion), I do want to share that I take my citizen duties very seriously and will be at the polls bright and early on November 8th.

Being an American citizen is not the only citizenship I claim. I am also a literary citizen and I take those responsibilities just as seriously. At least I have, starting this year. Let me explain…

Earlier this year, the Writers’ League of Texas (WLT) sponsored a panel discussion on the topic:  what is means to be a good literary citizen. The panel was moderated by the president of WLT and panelists consisted of a book publisher, authors and an ex-literary agent. One by one they shared their views on the topic with remarks ranging from the use of social media, book reviews, networking, attendance at conferences/festivals, mentorship, community outreach, bookstores (retail and online) and more. I should stop at this point and explain that the moderator defined the word literary to include all aspects of writing, publishing and marketing, this being a more expansive definition than the usual application.

I spent a lot of time after that session thinking about how being a good literary citizen plays out for me. What, in fact, it means to me and that brings us back to 1) deciding that I was indeed a literary citizen; 2) what that looks like for me in practical, everyday life; and 3) my commitment level to that role.

So since I have decided I am a literary citizen, an invested member of one of the world’s greatest fraternities, and because I want to be a good literary citizen, this is how it plays out in my life.

As a good literary citizen I PLEDGE to

pledge-of-allegience

  1. As a reader – attend books fairs/festivals; buy books from local bookstores and online; support my library with attendance at hosted events and by utilizing their many services; write and post book reviews; use social media to promote authors, books and festivals; encourage young readers; read aloud to the young (and old) ones in my family; give books as gifts.
  2. As a writer – tell the best story I can; commit to continuous improvement in my craft; maintain involvement in writing/critique groups; honor my writing time; focus on my writing goals; find ways to keep the creative juices primed; be open to changes in the industry.
  3. As an author – support the players (readers, writers, book clubs, writers groups, non-profit literary groups, libraries, bookstores, literary publications, events and programs, etc.) in the literary field; promote, advocate or comment on legislative regulations and business practices impacting the literary world; protect the image of the written word; teach young and adult writers about the craft.
  4. As a publisher – publish quality books at a good value for readers; share stories that entertain but also cause readers to think and feel; work to improve the literacy rate by sharing my love of reading; embrace new technologies and practices; support the host of players that make this the absolutely best industry to work in.

I  know this is a mouthful (or rather a pageful) and I reserve the right to adjust and update these duties as I collect more experiences in this great experiment we call literary. But I’d like to hear from you. What are your thoughts about being a good literary citizen?

Photo courtesy of Wesley Hitt/The Image Bank/Getty Images

An Undetermined Future

Last night while I was meeting with my critique group…a 25-year-old gunman was setting up his perch in a downtown Dallas building. Ironically the building was part of a community college, a place of learning and expanding young minds.

Last night while I was driving home…the young man pointed a high-powered weapon down a busy city street. Ironically that street is only a few blocks from where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated and ironically it’s the same street where a peaceful protest (organized to call attention to the proliferation of police-involved shootings/murders of black men) was winding down.

Last night while I slept…the Army veteran shot and murdered five police officers and wounded seven additional officers and two civilians. Ironically our government trained him on the use of weapons and gave him the opportunity to perfect his training by sending him to the battlegrounds in Afghanistan.

Early this morning…the murderer was killed, blown to pieces by a special delivery bomb. Ironically his motives for killing (hate, anger, frustration, arrogance, fear, injustice) remain solidly intact and are shared by many—black, white, yellow, brown and others.

Later today…the hate will continue. The killings will continue. The violence will continue. The country will remain dysfunctional and divided. UNLESS…all people are seen as individuals. Unless all people are seen as equals. Unless all people are free. And UNTIL racism is rooted out of every system, institution, policy and practice, and until hate is replaced by love.

Racism

My Acceptance Speech

The totally awesome and completely fabulous Shehanne Moore chose me for the EPICALLY AWESOME award! Woo-hoo! Claps! Cheers!

Epically Awesome

Thank you, Shey for the acknowledgement. Truly, I am smiling like the cat who slurped all the cream.

In accepting this award, I agreed to answer a few questions so others in the blog-o-sphere might learn a bit more about me. I also agreed to recognize five other bloggers who in my opinion are Epically Awesome. But before I unveil those five…

What made you choose your current blogging platform? When I first decided to start my blog, I checked out several writers’ forums and the overwhelming recommendation for a blogging platform was WP. So here I am.

Introduce yourself and tell us about your blog? I am a writer, author, blogger, reader and world citizen. I enjoy writing novels, novellas and short stories the most. Blog posts, articles, social media content and marketing materials come in second…a distant second. My blog reflects three of my favorite interests:  reading, writing and spirituality. Seems like complementary topics until you get to the third one. But I think some might be surprised to learn how fundamental spirituality is to creative pursuits.

Are you a once-in-a-while blogger or a daily one? I started as a weekly blogger but I am now juggling four major writing projects as well as two writing-related organizations. That workload forced me to scale back to blogging once or twice a month. I really hope I can jump back on a weekly schedule later this year.

Do you wish to publish and if so, what type of book? I am published. Yeah!!! Both traditionally and self-published and it was an adventure following both paths. I traditionally published in romance but switched years ago to paranormal and mainstream fiction as a self-publisher.

What is your favorite thing to do besides write? Read. Read. Read…and movies, of course.

Thanks again, Shey for the opportunity to share with you and others. I had fun answering the questions and now for the five bloggers who I think are Epically Awesome…

Pam Fields – who is epically awesome because she works hard every day to promote understanding, love and acceptance of all people. This is especially important in a world where hatred kills every day. https://pamyfields.com/

Faith Simone – who is epically awesome because she is totally transparent and honest about her writing journey and I love her for that. https://faithsimone.com/

Lizzie Newton – who is epically awesome because she reminds us that it’s okay to embrace our dark side. Really, it’s okay. https://elizabethnnewton.com/

Annette Rochelle Aben – who is epically awesome because she reminds us help and love is as close as a prayer (thank you angels!). https://annetterochelleaben.wordpress.com/

Carol Balawyder – who is epically awesome because she is so pure and giving, a model writer and a great human being (wish there were more of her). https://carolbalawyder.com/

They (if they chose to accept…cue the Mission Impossible theme music) will recognize the blogger who nominated them, link back to the nominator, post the graphic of the award, and answer the questions above. I hope the above EPICALLY AWESOME bloggers accept because I would love to read their answers and learn even more about the wonderfully epic people they are.

Have an awesome and epic week, one and all and happy summer!

June is Black Music Month

Every June we turn the spotlight on black music and black musicians in observance of Black Music Month. This June it’s especially meaningful to recognize the contributions that African-Americans have made to the music world. Why? Because of the recent death of Prince and the great legacy he left for us. It’s reported that Prince left scores and scores of unpublished music that his estate will have to sort through and release at will. This in addition to the extensive treasury of songs and films he’s already shared with the world.

Where were you when you heard of Prince’s death? I was in a writing class and the instructor had just given us a writing prompt. The room was silent except for the scratch of pens on paper. Heads were bowed and foreheads crinkled in concentration when the instructor, a noted journalist and HUGE Prince fan read a text about Prince’s death. She cried out and that was the end of class and the end of a great musician. This happened on a Thursday.

Prince’s death took me back to another Thursday when I learned of Michael Jackson’s death in June 2009. That was another shocking newscast that immobilized me for hours. I remember friends and relatives calling but I don’t remember what we talked about. Which was the same with Whitney Houston’s death in February 2012. Her death was the hardest hitting of the three because she was my favorite. I loved to see her perform. She was so passionate and sincere. Her voice, her style, her presence, her smile…all amazing!

But let me get out of my heart for a moment and into my head. I have a dear friend who is a numerologist. If you’ve been following my blog for a while you already know about Cindy. Cindy has studied numbers, patterns and the spiritual significance of such for the past thirty years, and is quite the expert. I, on the other hand, have a very rudimentary knowledge of numerology but let me share a little bit of what came to me as I pondered the deaths of Prince, Michael and Whitney (for how could one not think of them collectively?).

Michael died first in 2009. Three years later, Whitney died. The number of years between the deaths of Michael and Prince was seven. In the spirit realm, the numbers three and seven both represent completeness. Cycles completing (God created the heavens and earth in seven days); the beginning and the end connecting (Father, Son and Holy Spirit); closing one door, opening a new one (the seven year itch). So we have three mega talents dying within a seven year period. What that tells me is we’ve completed a cycle. Again, I’m not the expert but I’m pretty sure Cindy and other numerologists figured this out and saw it coming after Whitney’s death. They may not have known the “who” but surely the “what” (an iconic death) and “when” (the year) and were therefore less shocked than the rest of us.

So now I’m back in my heart and thinking I need to end this with how I started—a focus on Black Music Month and Prince. Below is a link to one of my favorite Prince songs. I present it, along with my loving thanks to Michael, Whitney and Prince for so many hours of pleasure, in honor of Black Music Month.

When Doves Cry

And to all black singers, musicians, songwriters, producers, composers, and engineers…thank you! A million times THANK YOU!!

More To It

My niece graduated from college this month and is fortunate to have landed a job in her field of study—journalism. I am so proud of her—chest out, big grin!

Grad Photo 3

I hesitated about using the word fortunate because she worked really hard. She studied long hours; took advantage of internships; formed alliances and friendships; sought and enacted the advice of counselors, professors, TAs; and the list goes on. As I was typing this list, thinking about the work she had put in to reach this monumental goal, another list started scrolling through my mind. I’ll call it the more-to-it list because there’s more to reaching a goal, any goal than taking action steps. Read on to see what I’m talking about…

  • Fight back – when you’re sucker punched (and you will be), it’s natural to cry for a short while, but then come out swinging.
  • Sleep through problems – when seemingly insurmountable problems arise (and they will), go to sleep. Let your subconscious work out the solution and when you wake, enact it.
  • Different is normal – exploit that in you which others label as different. It’s that difference that leads to success.
  • Minority rule – when you know what’s right for you, stick with that. Your life is not majority rule.
  • Playtime – all work makes one a grouch. Strive for a balance between work and fun.

The great thing about these more-to-its is they are available to all of us. Not just college students in pursuit of knowledge. Not just college graduates, but all. So go for that goal, initiate that plan, while remembering to enact these more-to-its when needed. So please excuse me as I head off to enact the more-to-it of playtime.

Congratulations to all Graduates!

 Congrats

Hello Boys & Girls, I’m Back!

When I posted an entry on January 18, 2016, I did not know then it would be my last post for a while. Back then, I had plans of running a series for Black History Month (February), Women’s History Month (March), and National Poetry Month (April). Back then, I had plans to post every week on something related to reading, writing or spirituality. But…

–a short story deadline;

–increasing responsibilities at work;

–my mother’s health;

–a publishing deadline;

–and managing a non-profit

all combined to take over my life, causing me to not only abandon my blog but other responsibilities as well.

When January closed out, I still had hope that I could maintain my planned posting schedule. By mid-February, my hope was shaky but the intent was still there. When February ended, my intent to post had died and poor ole hope (I think I can! I think I can! I think I can!) was on life support. At the beginning of March, I faced reality. I had no extra brain cells to even think about composing a post, let alone searching for graphics, proofing and responding to comments. Feeling sad, really sad, I threw in the towel.

But…

God spoke to me during one of those “dark moments of the soul” (of which I’ve had many lately) and I am happy to report:

–I finished my short story;

–I quit my job;

–my mother’s surgery was pushed back to the fall;

–the publishing schedule (for volume II of Voices from the Block) is on track for a June release;

–my non-profit work is back on track.

So here it is, the end of April and I am so happy to say “I’m baaacccckkkk!” and boy have I missed you all!

In scanning through my Inbox I see I’ve missed some really great posts and I can’t wait to read them. It may take me a few weeks to totally catch up, but thank you all for being diligent in providing great content.

I don’t know what the future holds for me and blogging, but I do know that for now I am grateful and happy to be back in the blogging community. I really missed you all!

In Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

martin-luther-king_tcm7-122217This three-day weekend marks the recognition of one of America’s great leaders, a humble man who led Americans–black and white–out of darkness and into light, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Like many, I honor this man for selflessly giving his all, including his life, for the humane treatment of African-Americans. I can think of no better way to show my appreciation for the sacrifices he and others involved in the Civil Rights Movement made than to live my life on purpose, to dream big, to achieve big. I can do no less than to continue to fight for those less fortunate, than to vote, than to point out and eradicate injustice and inequality in my sphere of influence.

With much gratitude to this man of God for bravely treading the path of righteousness, I share with you one of Dr. King’s many prolific speeches, a speech given to the American Psychological Association on September 1, 1967.