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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.

One Month Wasn’t Enough

Last month we celebrated Women’s History Month and this month we celebrate poets and poetry during National Poetry Month. Because LIFE has been hectic since January, I wasn’t able to post my usual features on fabulous women authors and women groundbreakers. So without consulting the gods, I decided to carry over March and mix it up with April to feature some amazing women poets, some of whom (who vs. whom, anyone know?) I happen to share publishing pages with in Voices from the Block.

So without further delay, the first featured woman poet,

Danette Pic

Danette Cross

Danette is not only a soul-stirring poet, but also…

  1. a gifted vocalist
  2. an inspirational blogger
  3. an expert proofreader
  4. a newlywed
  5. and an all around good person. She’s one of those rare people you easily bond with because she has such an accepting, loving spirit.

I asked Danette to share a bit about herself as a creative person and here’s what she had to say from her soul to her pen to you…

  1. What prompted you to pursue writing as a creative outlet? I love creative expression and realized over time that writing repeatedly gave me the most comfort to the point that I, on occasion, crave the feeling of a pen in my hand.
  2. How do you get in the writing mood? I try to create a relaxing environment, sometimes with instrumental music. This allows my thoughts to flow uninterrupted.
  3. How do you know when a poem is “finished?” A poem is finished when the thought is resolved in some way. Typically, it stops “speaking” or “doing”.
  4. What or who has been your greatest writing influence? My love for reading and words as well as various poets and authors, like Maya Angelou, e.e. cummings, Emily Pound, Victoria Christopher Murray, Francine Rivers, Frank Perretti, J. California Cooper, Donna Hill and Cornel West.
  5. Do you have a preferred writing form? Poetry, short story, scripts, essays, etc.? Poetry. It’s my way of getting my thoughts on paper without strict grammar rules.
  6. What are your future writing plans? More poetry and hopefully some storytelling.
  7. What do you say to people who tell you, “I want to write a book?” Go for it and take it seriously. Use other critical pairs of eyes to produce a good read.
  8. What was your first thought when you held your first published work in your hands? “Wow. I’m printed on a page.” I was blown away, humbled and exposed. My secret was out. 🙂
  9. What was the most challenging thing about the publishing process for you? What was the most rewarding? The most challenging was adhering to deadlines. The most rewarding was completing each step along the way.
  10. How/What do you feel about the future of publishing? 2 things. 1.) I am excited for those who self-publish. Why wait on some select group to approve your work when you can approve yourself? 2.) I hope physical books last forever versus electronic everything. I love hardcovers and am fond of paperbacks.

A big thanks to Danette for opening herself to the world both through this interview and through her lovely poetry. You can learn even more about Danette and read some of her beautiful thoughts by visiting her blog at frolicfinagle.tumblr.com.

Thanks for celebrating women, poetry and more with me. I encourage one and all to go out and discover a new poet this month…maybe it’s you!

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.

Worth Sharing

I love listening to NPR. They have some of the most interesting shows and interviews. During one particular broadcast of All Things Considered, the reporter filed a story on The American Scholars’ pick of the Ten Best Sentences. These are sentences in fiction and nonfiction books that made the editors at The American Scholar pause and marvel at the beauty of words. I think their picks are remarkable and worth sharing. So if you’d like to read some beautiful words and sentences, if you’re ready for your heart to race and for the world to be righted, click here.

Until next time…to the best of life, to the best of living.

Naming Rights Contest

In April 2013, the Naming Rights contest kicked off. This was a contest aimed at securing book reviews for Fuller’s Curse. In exchange for a written review published on any book review site, one lucky reviewer would win the opportunity to work with me to name a future character(s).

The contest dates ranged from April 23 to October 23 (six months) with the winner announced on October 28. Well folks, today is that day so drumroll please….

Elizabeth Klein

…you are the winner!

I’ll be contacting Elizabeth soon to discuss one character in Trémont’s Curse (book two of the Curse series). After our initial conversation, she’ll receive a character analysis sheet and then the fun part for her begins–coming up with names for consideration. We’ll decide on a final name together and then everybody joins in by reading Trémont’s Curse…and guessing which name Elizabeth contributed.

For everyone else who submitted reviews, I can’t thank you enough for your time and effort. I enjoy reading your reviews (yes, I’ve read them several times) on Amazon and Goodreads; they really warm my heart and propel me to keep striving.

Some of you may be wondering why I focused on book reviews for this contest. It’s because book reviews have replaced hand-to-mouth sales (or maybe it’s mouth-to-hand sales, I have already forgotten). If you recall the old days when independent bookstores graced neighborhoods, the sales associates in those stores sold books via hand-to-mouth. Meaning, they would actually put a book in the customer’s hand and talk the book up. Unfortunately, with independent or small bookstores being squeezed out by conglomerates and e-tailers, hand-to-mouth is being replaced by book reviews. Hence, my focus on obtaining book reviews. As is the focus for most authors.

So again, I thank you all, and I believe your reviews helped Fuller’s Curse land in the featured spot on Amazon’s Literature & Fiction bookshelf on October 22.

Sending love and light to all…

Freedom to Read/Write Day

At one time in this country, it was illegal for slaves to read or write. Anyone caught teaching a slave to do so was punished, and the slave too. Punishment ranged from a whipping to dismemberment to death.

As a descendant of slaves, I thank God those laws were overturned. I can’t imagine my life without books or paper (okay, a PC and Word); just thinking the thought makes me ill.

So to celebrate the freedom to read and write, I will observe “Freedom to Read/Write Day” on Thursday, July 4th. I hope you will join me in the celebration by downloading my latest ebook, Fuller’s Curse.

Fullers Curse Front Cover Promo

It will be available for FREE all day on the Fourth of July at Amazon.com. As you’re reading my book (or any book for that matter), I hope you will spare a prayer for those who are still prohibited from learning to read or write. Yes, in this day and age, degrading laws and customs still exist.

Don’t forget…download (to Kindle, PC, or SmartPhone via the Kindle app) Fuller’s Curse for free on July 4th, and enjoy the freedom and pleasure of reading.

Happy “Freedom to Read/Write Day”!