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New Year, New Book

It feels good to start the new year with an accomplishment and that’s exactly what the release of “Voices from the Block” is…a major accomplishment.

 

voices-from-the-block-ebook-november-2016

 

I was heavily involved, along with three other writers, in bringing volume two of “Voices” to life, and I can honestly say that even with my first self published book in 2013 (with a high learning curve to overcome) I never encountered so many delays and production issues. It’s like Mercury Retrograde shadowed this book its entire twelve months of production. If it wasn’t one thing, it was another. But, finally, it is here!

Like volume one, volume two of “Voices from the Block” is a compilation book of poems, short stories, creative non-fiction essays and for the first time ever – fiction starts. “What is a fiction start?” you ask. A fiction start is a way for an aspiring author to showcase a work in progress by publishing the first few scenes of their fiction novel in an anthology. This allows the author to garner readers and build interest in the story even while it is in the draft stage. Basically, it’s a tease!

In this volume of “Voices,” readers will encounter four new writers, all members of the Writers’ Block. As well, three veteran writers/members have returned to put their stamp on the project. In spite of the production issues, I am extremely proud of this collection. As Toyette, one of the co-authors in this work said, “It just keeps getting better and better,” and I couldn’t agree more. There are some really strong pieces in this anthology and the feedback from early readers has been amazing. If you’d like to check out the first few pages of the book and judge for yourself, click on one of the links below.

AMAZON

BARNES & NOBLE

In March, I plan to spotlight some of the writers whose works appear in this anthology. Please stay tuned to learn how they kept the vision alive. And now…on to the next goal of 2017–write, write, write!

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

Unforgettable Mothers in Literature

One of the many things I am grateful for is my love of books and reading. I credit my mom with this love because I grew up watching her fill her leisure hours reading, and because our house was always filled with books (books, books everywhere just like my house now). This weekend as we celebrate Mother’s Day, I thought it would be fun to swirl books, reading and mothers together to create a short list of unforgettable mothers in literature. Take a look at the list below. Perhaps you’ve already met these mothers, and if so, you know that they range from heavenly (like my mom) to warped. But one thing they all exhibit is the very thing that mothers are known for…love. If you haven’t met these mothers or if you want to reacquaint yourself with these women, this is a great weekend to pick out a book, kick back and enjoy! 

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Reading!

 cover_whatcamebefore_1[1]  “What Came Before He Shot Her” by Elizabeth George

th[8]  “Voodoo Dreams” by Dr. Jewell Parker Rhodes

thX3WKPC9W  “The Living Blood” by Tananarive Due

th[3]  “Dolores Claiborne” by Stephen King

41sVNRTt5cL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_[1]  “A Worn Path” in the collection “A Curtain of Green” by Eudora Welty

9780312193379[1]  “Some Soul to Keep” by J. California Cooper

thYPD60P7E  “The Book of Ruth” (Bible) inspired by God

Inspiration Continued

On Thursday, July 16, writers around the world were inspired by NaNoInspiredDay. On that day, writers encouraged each other by posting words, quotes and actions meant to inspire:  to inspire words, to inspire the completion of works, to inspire turning on the computer or picking up the pen, to inspire the prioritization of writing, etc. I found the inspired postings on Twitter and Facebook did just what they were intended to do–inspire. I was inspired to honor a truth concerning a short story I had been struggling with. I was inspired to write more words. I personally did not post anything on Thursday, but I am today. A friend sent me the link below and I am sharing it with you in an effort to keep the inspiration going. Click on the link and after you’ve read the 25 quotes, let me know the ones that move you. The ones that moved me? #2, #3, #9, #13, #16 and #25. Be inspired! Happy writing!

http://www.buzzfeed.com/juliapugachevsky/quotes-that-will-make-you-want-to-take-more-risks-with-your?utm_term=4k9bccy&sub=3100213_2642780#.ss6zqWWVqV

Hear Lovenia Roar!

LoveniaLLovenia Leapart, Writer, Author, World Citizen

Meet one of the most courageous writers I know…Lovenia Leapart. Some years ago, Lovenia and I belonged to the same writers group. We clicked on so many levels that even though time has marched on and many miles separate us, we have remained connected. I am so proud of her and all she is accomplishing, so much so that when I considered women writers to profile this month along with the woman history-maker that they admire or were influenced by, I thought of her. Below is Lovenia’s article and I’m sure you’ll be as impressed and inspired as I am.

Wrapped in Rainbows

Most people know Zora Neale Hurston almost exclusively in terms of her writing, but not many know her as an adventurer. At a time when most women lived lives of quiet domesticity and it was extremely rare for blacks to travel internationally, Zora Neale Hurston, driven by her deep and enduring curiosity about people and culture, traveled alone throughout the deep South (reportedly carrying a chrome-plated pistol for protection), and spent time living in Jamaica, Haiti and Honduras. It was through reading Valerie Boyd’s exceptional work (aka masterpiece), Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston, that I was able to really gain a true understanding of the fearless kind of way in which Ms. Hurston lived. And ironically, soon after reading this work, I found myself entertaining opportunities to go abroad to live and work. Needless to say, I had to deal with a myriad of fears that threatened to keep me from doing what my spirit was calling me to do. But having read about Ms. Hurston’s travels, it was clear that there were times when Ms. Hurston found herself quite outside of her comfort zone in these foreign lands, and at a time before cell phones and internet access could have cushioned the fallout from any number of misadventures. Reading that, I thought, if Ms. Hurston could follow her heart’s urgings and live so boldly in her day, in this time of modern technology surely I can find the internal wherewithal to do the same.

I did. So off I went to China, not knowing a drop of Chinese and not having the slightest idea about what to expect from myself or the culture. And the trip blew my mind so wide open that I have been irrevocably changed by the experience. So, beyond sharing a love of the craft of writing, I also feel a “kindred connection” with Ms. Hurston that now includes a passion for adventure, exploration, and discovery that comes from traveling and living internationally and off the beaten path.

It often takes tremendous courage and internal fortitude to break away from the herd and go after one’s dreams and live life on one’s own terms. To honor that, Evelyn Bourne and I have created a podcast called Working Your Mission, which is an interview series that highlights people who are making a living doing work they love. Through this project, we hope to provide inspiration and useful advice to others who would do the same. I think all artists have within them an innate level of fearlessness (otherwise, we simply could not do the work that we do) and I’ve come to believe that allowing that fearlessness to unfold in areas of our lives beyond our work not only makes us better artists, but ultimately, more fulfilled and self-actualized human beings as well. Zora Neale Hurston certainly did that, and the bold and courageous way in which she lived her life continues to give me inspiration to do the same.

Lovenia is the author of the paranormal romance novella, Marked by Temptation. She is currently at work on the sequel, as yet untitled, and is planning to release her novel, Consolation Prize next spring. She partners with Evelyn Bourne on the Working Your Mission podcast series.