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Here’s Lei…Another “Voices” Author

I am proud to present another author whose work appears in the anthology, “Voices from the Block,” Lei Scott.

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Lei is a poet, songwriter, creative non-fiction memoirist, and a jazz singer. She and I met over ten years ago when we were both volunteers for a community program called, the African-American Read-In. When the Read-In ended, our paths diverged and then one unexpected day, we reconnected through our writers group, the Writers’ Block, www.writersblockinc.org. When I first read her pieces in “Voices,” I was blown away. Her storytelling ability is amazing. In fact, I’d call her a natural considering she hasn’t taken many writing classes and has never attended a writing conference. She is a neophyte to the literary world. Below is the interview I conducted with Lei. I hope you enjoy learning more about this young lady and that you’ll get a chance to read some of her writings.

  1. What prompted you to pursue writing as a creative outlet? I didn’t pursue writing, writing pursued me and there was nothing creative about it. At the age of eleven, my mother made her transition. Pen and paper called me, luring me to unleash the pain into written words. This was a way of escape for me. I could take it out of me and pretend the ugliness ’round me was only words on paper.
  2. How do you get in the writing mood? Most of the time, I don’t get in the mood. The mood gets in me. When “it” calls, I better answer. Sometimes I’m defiant, especially in the middle of the night when I’m sleeping “real good.” But this never works out for me because no matter how awesome and wonderful I think the idea is and I just know I’m going to remember “it,” in the morning, I seldom do. However, while I don’t prepare myself to get in a writing mood, my favorite writing space consists of a beautiful bright sun, mountains, the view and sounds of water flowing, birds chirping in lush green trees and a nice cold or hot something to drink in my hand.
  3. How do you know when a poem, short story, novel, etc. is “finished?” When there is nothing left to write, a peace comes over me announcing “it is done.”
  4. What or who has been your greatest writing influence? Ann Fields (I promise I did not pay her to say this!). Ann is a great mentor and has supported and encouraged me as I take my baby steps. She is knowledgeable and well skilled in her writing craft. She just doesn’t write words, she creates visions with her words. She is a beautiful sister with a big heart. I appreciate her and everything she has done for me and the Writers’ Block, Inc.
  5. Do you have a preferred writing form? Poetry, short story, scripts, essays, etc.? I don’t know yet, I’m just starting. Before this is all over I plan to put my creative hands to whatever spirit brings to me to write, and taste all the flavors. I feel blessed that there are so many forms to choose from and the universe is infinite.
  6. What are your future writing plans? Keep growing, writing, expressing, cleansing, healing and sharing my spirit through words and music until all the hurt is gone and every heart is smiling. Looks like I’ll be writing for a very long time.
  7. What do you say to people who tell you, “I want to write a book?”  I get excited and talk about Ann Fields and the Writers’ Block. I say “go for it” and “everyone has at least one book in them.” I don’t say anything negative or discouraging. They will find out how challenging it can be at times and when they reach those stumbling blocks I hope they have their own “Ann Fields and the Writers’ Block” in their corner.
  8. What was your first thought when you held your first published work in your hands? Thank you God, we did it.
  9. What was the most challenging thing about the publishing process for you? This was my first published piece. Exposing myself to others, during the critique process, and listening to, what I felt at the time, as judgement on my life and creativity was hard. I learned to grow thick skin and keep on writing. What was the most rewarding? Realizing that I actually completed the process, I didn’t give up or give in.
  10. How/What do you feel about the future of publishing? Publishing has become easier with the ability to self-publish. I see an increase in self-publishing as we move into the future, opening doors for writers who might not have had the opportunity to be read. The challenge of getting out to the masses may still exist and the major publishing companies may still control who makes it to the top. But making it to the top and bringing in a bunch of shekels is not always the most important thing – using the gift God gave you is. Write on Writers, Write on, Lei Scott.

So, you’ve just met Lei Scott. I told you she was impressive. And I think you’ll be even more impressed after you’ve read some of her writings. Excuse me now while I go prepare myself for her upcoming songwriting workshop. I know it’s going to be as awesome as she is. Happy reading! Live creatively!

A Continuation of Women and Poetry

A few weeks ago, I was pleased to introduce Danette Cross, a fellow author in the recently released Voices from the Block. I am continuing my series on women writers who are also poets as a nod to Women’s History Month (March) and National Poetry Month (April). This time out I am super excited to feature Kisura Usiku.

Kisura Pic

Kisura writes poetry and fiction and freelances in her spare time. When she’s not writing, she’s making the world a better place through her role as Special Educator in her local school district. In Voices from the Block she has the most diverse offering–a poem, a fiction start (the first few scenes of a novel in progress) and a creative non fiction essay.

I asked Kisura a few questions so we could get to know her better and below are her responses. I hope you enjoy reading her comments and learning more about this dynamic young writer.

  1. What prompted you to pursue writing as a creative outlet?

I’m not sure if I’ve ever pursued it…writing sort of strolled up to my house one day, knocked, and when I opened the door, writing moved in. I guess that means we just clicked. Writing showed up and the connection felt like the most organic thing that’s happened to me.

  1. How do you get in the writing mood?

Reading, listening to great music or watching other creatives work…I also get into the mood to write via emotional pulls: if someone pisses me off or if I am overwhelmed with love, lust, bitterness, rage or snark…I write it out.

  1. How do you know when a poem, short story, novel, etc. is “finished?”

It’s different for different forms for me…with a short story, I enjoy writing endings that leave you wanting more…you know, that’s the end of that conflict, but there’s something lingering or something that makes a reader wish the story went on. A poem, I know it’s done when I’ve conveyed the message in a way that vibrates…like the message echoes in the head of the reader. It’s difficult to pull that off, at least it is to me, so sometimes I will leave a poem unfinished for awhile because I’ve lost the mood or I’ve gone through the emotion that has caused me to pen the poem in the first place. I usually come back to it when the emotion resurfaces.

  1. What or who has been your greatest writing influence?

Um..well there are quite a few and the list is still growing, but some of my favorite writers are Alice Walker, Zora Neale Hurston, Lucille Clifton, Gwendolyn Brooks, Toni Morrison, J.K. Rowling, Amy Tan, John Steinbeck, Gillian Flynn, Colleen Hoover, Paula Hawkins, Caroline Kepnes, Robert Dugoni, Robert Bryndza, and quite recently: Yaa Gyasi and Angie Thomas.

  1. Do you have a preferred writing form? Poetry, short story, scripts, essays, etc.?

No preference…just write what moves me.

  1. What are your future writing plans?

I plan to finish and self publish a labor of love: a book of poems about, for, and to my husband…as my first self published book. I have no intention of marketing or doing anything that falls within the traditional realms of publishing/self publishing with this book and will only publish one copy…it’s personal, just for him, but an accomplishment for me because it will be my first published book. It’s the most romantic gesture I can offer…and he deserves that and then some. From there I’m working on a mystery and a literary fiction novel…

  1. What do you say to people who tell you, “I want to write a book?”

Ha, me too, let’s stop talking and do it.

  1. What was your first thought when you held your first published work in your hands?

I still can’t believe it…I held it in my hands and just looked at it and thought, WOW! I’m in here (regarding Voices from the Block)? I half expected to open it and discover that I was the victim of some cruel joke and my writing was cut out of the anthology at the witching hour.

  1. What was the most challenging thing about the publishing process for you? What was the most rewarding?

What isn’t? But if I had to pick I’d say the most challenging thing to me is finding a great cover designer and editor. The most rewarding is avoiding clichés while writing.

  1. How/What do you feel about the future of publishing?

That’s a question that goes against me living in the now…LOL. How do I feel? I feel that I am the future in publishing…not in a self centered way, but in a visualize and manifest my dreams, law of attraction type of way…so I see published works in my future. As for the industry of publishing: it’s controversial…the big five have clout but there is a growing eclipse with self publishing and indie authors. It’s no longer looked down upon…and that’s a great thing for ALL writers in my opinion. You get total control over your art from start to finish…

To check out Kisura’s writings, click here! And I’ll be back in a few weeks with more women as poets.

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.

 

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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!

Tour through Blogland

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Thank you, Carol Balawyder for inviting me to be a part of the Tour through Blogland experience. Wow! What a pleasure to participate. The exposure to interesting blogs, writers and writings has been enormously enriching.

Carol Balawyder Carol Balawyder, Writer/Author

Carol and I met, obviously through our blogging and in the year we’ve been online cohorts, I have discovered that she is a diverse writer with publishing credit in women’s fiction, memoir and crime writing, making her an accomplished fiction and non-fiction author. On top of her writing talents, she is also a welcoming and supportive person. I have enjoyed learning about her and her accomplishments, and I am so glad our blog paths crossed. I can’t wait for the day I meet her in person! I know it will be a blessing. Until then, I continue to enjoy her features on www.carolbalawyder.com and I hope you’ll take the time to link over and familiarize yourself with her and her latest works, Getting to Mr. Right and Missi’s Dating Adventures.

gettingtomrright_kindle_small15Missi's Dating Adventures

I’ve read both of her books and found them to contain insightful commentary on some of today’s relationship issues…and not just romantic relationships. Her works are important and engaging and I think you’ll agree with me once you have read them. Thanks Carol for inviting me into your world and for your contributions to the literary world.

Carol and some of the rest of you know that I’m not big on rules so I was glad to see that there were only a few requirements to participate in a Tour through Blogland. They are:

1. Pass the tour on

2. Give the rules to the other blogger and a specific Monday to post

3. Answer four questions about my creative process

Okay, simple enough; I can handle that. So without further delay, I present to you a blogger/author who I greatly admire and to whom I am passing the tour opportunity, followed by my responses to the creative process questions. I hope you enjoy!

meet-the-author

Serena Wills:  Poet, Essayist and Inspiration/Self-help Writer

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When I thought of all the bloggers with whom I could share this experience, Serena rose to the top. Not only because of her recently released poetry book, Reconstruction:  Pieces of Life, Volume 1, A Poetry Book, but also because she is an amazingly productive, multi-faceted and inventive writer. Also, I settled on Serena because she lives her life as we all should:  combining grit, faith and goal-nurturing to overcome adversity (that occasional blip that happens in every person’s life). Read her poetry book and you’ll get a glimpse into the challenges she has had to overcome and how she overcame them.

Reconstruction

Click here to access her site, and we can all look forward to her Tour through Blogland post in April or May (set date to be communicated).

Questions about My Creative Process

  1. What are you working on at the moment? My friend Renita likens the job of today’s writers to the juggling team of Vova and Olga, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljnmYQ5NJjQ. Their job is to keep all of the balls, clubs or whatever they are juggling in the air. So, like Vova and Olga, I am juggling many items that include:  a blog; a memoir; marketing and promotions for “Fuller’s Curse” and “Voices from the Block;” a non-fiction personal development book; a children’s book; the programming for a non-profit organization; and involvement in three writers groups. I try to work smart to keep all of these from crashing to the floor, but some days it’s a real struggle. Now, really, truth be told, what I should be working on is “Tremont’s Curse,” the sequel to “Fuller’s Curse,” but that’s an entirely different juggling act that is too exhausting to think about right now.
  2. How does my work differ from others in my genre? This is a tough one because I write in so many genres. “Fuller’s Curse” is a horror fiction novel. “Voices from the Block” features two mainstream short stories. And “The Devil Went Down to Georgia, Again” is a dark short story to be featured in an upcoming anthology (spring 2015). Plus, as I shared earlier, I have a children’s book in the illustration process, as well as a memoir and a sequel in the drafting stage. So I’ll lump all of my works together, strip away the genre classifications, and say that the main focus with many of my works is to blur boundaries and pummel perceptions in an effort to make people think about the labels we attach to people, places and things. I attempt in my writings to push readers beyond the obvious to see what else can be gleaned even if it makes them uncomfortable.
  3. Why do I write/create what I do? Stories, ideas, characters, questions, titles come to me and will not depart until I have locked them down on paper. I have had an idea for a play incubating in my head for 10+ years and yet I cannot remember what I ate for breakfast. So why do I write? Because I don’t have a choice. I have to write. Even before I was born, writing chose me and I choose to answer the call. Why do I write what I do? Because I am a creative who is fed by life experiences, and those life experiences translate into written works that take the shape of different genres and forms.
  4. How does my writing/creative process work? The creative process is as mysterious as the Bible so I’ll just respond to the writing process. As stated earlier, ideas, questions, titles, characters and such flow to me like city water through pipes. Idea generation is the easy part. What’s hard is committing words to paper:  making myself sit down to write, anchoring myself to the chair, and creating the right string of words. So like other writers, I have learned tricks to make the writing process less strenuous. Like…ending a writing session at the height of dialogue or action; outlining the beginning, middle and end of a scene (I write scene by scene in linear order); reading a quote or inspirational piece at the start of a writing session; setting up a reward system for number of pages written, scenes completed, etc.; capturing story notes on a separate document that I refer to when I’ve written myself into a corner; writing and editing the same scene a minimum of four times; making my final story edits the old school way (on paper with red ink); and mostly, praying a lot for help.

And the Women Keep Coming

Today reflects the third installment of highlighting women writers during Women’s History Month (March).

Today I introduce you to one of the most diverse women writers I know…Sharron Pete. Sharron is not only a great short story writer but also an accomplished article writer and novelist. In essence, she writes well in either long or short form.

Sharron, along with six other talented women writers, is one of the featured contributors in the recently released Voices from the Block:  A Legacy of African-American Literature, a compilation book of poems, essays and short stories written by some of the most prolific members of the Writer’s Block.

Read on to meet this talented young lady…

Sharron Pete

When did you know you wanted to write? 

Since I was a child, I have always written stories and poems. I’ve always loved to read and I enjoy the aspect of developing characters that others can enjoy. I began to write more seriously (i.e., entering contests, submitting articles) as an adult when I was searching for a way to explore my creative side.

What was your first written work?

The first thing I ever wrote for public consumption was a short piece about my travels overseas and how it deepened my relationship (and dependence) on God. I wrote it in response to a weekly challenge contest sponsored by Faithwriters.com.

What is your inspiration for writing? Or, where do you get your ideas for your stories, poems, etc. 

I see myself as a writer whose main objective is to help spread the word of God to others. Not through a preachy, hit-you-over-the-head message but instead through flawed characters and everyday life experiences (big and small) that we can all relate to.

What are you currently working on? 

Currently I am revamping my blog. I have a passion for helping others see how God works in their everyday lives and my blog (still very much under construction) aims to do this. I’m also exploring the world of freelance in small bite-sized pieces as I manage my typical day-to-day obligations.

Women’s History Month Presents…

I opened Women’s History Month last week by stating my plan to present and honor several amazing women who I have had the pleasure of working with recently and who I am sure are planting historical footprints. Last week, I featured Faith Simone (www.faithsimone.com), a poet, short story writer, novelist and blogger. This week, I am happy to present Bennye Johnson, an essayist and poet. Both Faith and Bennye, as well as the women to follow in the coming weeks, are contributors to an anthology which will be released this month. It is titled, Voices from the Block: A Legacy of African-American Literatureand it features poems, short stories, essays, original works by seven talented African-American women. Without further delay…

Bennye Johnson 

Bennye Photo

When did you know you wanted to write?

Bennye:  I knew I wanted to write when I was in the second grade. I mentioned to my second grade teacher that I wanted to write because I loved reading Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. My teacher, who was my neighbor as well, encouraged me to write short stories. I wrote short stories for her, and she praised me and encouraged me to be a writer.

What was your first written work?

Bennye:  As stated earlier, the short stories I wrote for my teacher/neighbor were my first written works but Marriage, Money and Mistakes in Voices is my first published work. Like most writers, I have also kept a journal on and off since my teen years.

What is your inspiration for writing? Or, where do you get your ideas for your stories, poems, etc. 

Bennye:  I am inspired by life in my writings. Because I understand the power of words, I enjoy having the opportunity to pen my thoughts. This is an avenue of expression for me and hopefully encouragement or heartwarming for others.

What are you currently working on?

Bennye:  I am currently working on the expanded version of Marriage, Money, and Mistakes, a creative nonfiction work that examines the mistakes (money and otherwise) we make in marriage and how to avoid them. Look for it later this year.

Fuller’s Curse Official Launch Event

I hope you’ll join me at the official launch event for Fuller’s Curse, my latest novel. Please see details below.

FULLER’S CURSE

LINKING the PAST to the PRESENT

Date:  Saturday, September 28, 2013

Time:  4:00 – 6:00 pm

Location: Freedman’s Memorial Cemetery; Dallas, TX

Bordered by I-75 (3600 block), Lemmon Ave., and Calvary Street (3000 block)*

Cost:  Free

Dress:  Come as you are

RSVP:  None required

Join the family and friends of author, Ann Fields as we explore the link between the past and the present as depicted in her latest book, Fuller’s Curse. At this special event, enjoy:

  • historical tours of the grounds and sculptures;
  • a reading from Fuller’s Curse;
  • genealogy discussion/drawing;
  • African drumming;
  • book and Scentsy displays;
  • refreshments and more

Questions/Comments:  call 214-263-7791

Sponsored by family and friends of author, Ann Fields.

*Park along Calvary Street or the parking lot of Emanu-El Cemetery.