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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.

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

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!

October Approaches

…which means it’s time for the Granbury Paranormal Expo in Granbury, Texas.

This year’s expo marks many firsts. For the first time in five years it will be held outdoors. For the first time in five years it will be free. For the first time it will be held on the downtown square. For the first time ever, it will feature a Zombie Pub Crawl. To read more about the Granbury Paranormal Expo, see the press release below from one of the organizers, Brandy Herr.

Fifth Annual Granbury Paranormal Expo Kicks Off Halloween Season

Street Festival Brings Together Paranormal, Horror and Sci-Fi

The Fifth Annual Granbury Paranormal Expo will kick off the Halloween season on October 1, 2016 from 10 am to 5 pm with a street festival in the middle of Granbury’s historic downtown square. This festival is free to the public and will feature ghost hunters; psychics; horror, sci-fi, cosplay and fantasy vendors; and much more.

“We are considering it to be a ‘Comic Con’ with ghost hunters,” said Brandy Herr, co-founder of the Granbury Paranormal Expo. “We wanted to bring everything together into one big event to ensure that we have something fun for everybody!”

alex-vincentThis year’s special celebrity guest will be Alex Vincent, best known as Andy Barclay from Child’s Play 1 & 2. He will facilitate a Q&A session about his work on the horror franchise. Joining Vincent as a guest speaker will be Shelley Kaehr, Ph.D., aka “The Past Life Lady.” And finally, the Austin Ghost Tour Gals will also lead a special session on ghost hunting.

 

For the animal lovers, Tugg the Superhero Bull Terrier will be making a special appearance to promote his comic book series. tugg

Several restaurants on the square will be showing their support for the Granbury Paranormal Expo by hosting a Zombie Pub Crawl, a separate, ticketed event to be held the evening of October 1.

For more details, visit Granbury Paranormal Expo and the Ghost Scribes.

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I’ll be there as a vendor, promoting Fuller’s Curse and the Ghost Scribes, a collective of paranormal/supernatural fiction writers who write good books about bad people. If you’re in the area, stop through. If this year’s expo is like last year’s (and it will be), it’ll be great fun.

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

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!

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!

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 Becky Roar!

Unfortunately Women’s History Month (March) has ended but I’ve found a way (aha!) to keep the spotlight on women history makers while also acknowledging National Poetry Month (April).

National Poetry Month

I am blessed to have met several women poets who are amazing wordsmiths and lovely survivors. Two in particular are Becky Baggett and Serena Wills. I asked these two poets the same question I asked Lovenia Leapart and Carol Balawyder, two women writers that I featured in March. That question: what woman/woman writer influenced you and/or your literary career? Both Becky and Serena agreed to answer the question in article form and share their articles with me. I, in turn, am happy to share them with you. First up is Becky.

Becky blogs at Sweet Alchemy Poetry Farm and there you can enjoy some of her poetry as well as her article on Adeline Hornbek, pioneer and woman history maker. Click here for a treat…https://sweetalchemypoetryfarm.wordpress.com/

Poetry