Tag Archive | author

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

Tour through Blogland

tour-through-blogland-2[1]

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

    swpic

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.

Introducing…

3HoneyCover

I thought I would start the new year by doing something I’ve never done before–review a book on my blog. Yes, I have featured authors in the past and I have featured books, but I have never posted a book review along with an author/book feature. So this is new for me, and it’s way too early to say whether I will continue this practice or not but for now I want to introduce you to an author I’ve known for a while and always admired–Sean C. Wright. When I learned Sean had a new book out (beautiful cover above), I wasted no time buying and reviewing it. I hope my review inspires you to read more of Sean’s works and to visit her entertaining website and blog Oh, No Typos. Happy new year! Happy new readings! Happy new beginnings!

 

Title: Honey Riley

Genre: Fiction, African American Literature, Women’s Literature, Supernatural

Length: 52 pages

Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=honey+riley

 

Honey Riley is about a biracial clairvoyant who uses her precious gift to keep others out of danger, but is blind to the gift when it concerns herself. Her heroic life often rings of pain, but Honey never wavers in her strength for her loved ones and the people she helps. Honey’s legacy starts just after The Civil War and weaves through the mid 1980s.

 

Ann’s ReviewHoney Riley by Sean C. Wright

This short novel of less than 100 pages conveys a lot. It is the story of a spiritual gift that travels multiple generations, and like most gifts, it can be a blessing and a liability. But the gift is only the foundation of the story.

 

The cast of characters, mostly women, and how they serve (or not) the gift create the framework of the story. I think it interesting that most of the characters use the gift for the good of others, to serve and protect. But a few allow the gift to destroy them. I also think it clever how the name, Honey Riley and variations of it, is handed down with the gift.

 

This is a vivid story that is reinforced with a bit of history and bold, colorful descriptions. Beware: this story is not easy on the emotions. Readers will experience anger, triumph, sadness, joy, satisfaction, fear and more. You will not arrive at the end feeling encouraged or hope-filled, and you may feel  the story should have ended before its actual stopping point, but regardless, you will have been glad you spent time getting to know Honey Riley.

About the Author
SeanHeadShot
Sean C. Wright is native to Dallas, TX. See all of her published works here:  http://askdavid.com/reviews/book/african-american-fiction/9736. Get to know Sean at www.iwrightaway.com.

My Bucket List

Recently, a friend posted her author bucket list–a list of things she wants to accomplish as an author/writer before she dies. Her post at FaithSimone.com inspired me to think about what I want to “check off” as an author/writer before I “check out.” I’ve always kept a list of goals as a career guide and because of that it took me a while to understand the difference between goals and a bucket list. But once I separated the two in my mind, I had a ball creating my wish or dream list.

Below is my list. What about you? Do you have a personal, career or professional bucket list? If so, feel like sharing?

images9B25AQGJ

1. To have publishing credit in multiple categories/genres: children’s, screenwriting, romance, horror, etc.

2. To attend at least one of the premier literary awards ceremonies: Nobel Prize, National Book Award, Academy Awards, etc.

3. To buy a writing retreat; a private oasis where I can visit, think, dream and write.

4. To have lunch with Toni Morrison and Stephen King, individually.

5. To establish a scholarship for young African American creative writers.

6. To establish a stipend-based award for adult African American creative writers.

7. To read at least one book by the “important” novelists. (Thanks to Carol Baladywer for expanding this list.)

8. To attend an international writers retreat and/or conference.

9. To attend a major literary event in NYC, the mecca of the US publishing industry, such as the Harlem Book Fair.

Happy National Poetry Month

I’m a little behind in sharing my well wishes for an extraordinary and exciting poetry month. There are many events and programs planned throughout the month of April which will highlight the gift of poetry and its importance to humanity. I, too, am planning to shine the light on poetry through my weekly blog posts. In my posts, I’ll focus on the poet laureate position, presidential inauguration poems, poems as songs, and poetry giants. So without further ado, my first nod to National Poetry Month…

When I first heard the title Poet Laureate I was intrigued. I had just learned that Gwendolyn Brooks, a Black woman, like me, had been appointed poet laureate for the United States. I was so proud but also ignorant. What the heck is a poet laureate? I wondered. What do they do? I don’t remember what life event was going on at the time that prevented me from researching answers to my questions, but here it is years later and I now have the answers.

First, poet laureate is an appointed position. The Librarian of Congress selects a status poet to the position. A status poet is one who has published a collection(s) of poems, has achieved some level of recognition for their work, has probably won awards for their writings, and is involved in promoting the art of poetry, and more.

Second, the position’s length of term is one year but some terms have been extended at the pleasure of the librarian such as with the current poet laureate, Natasha Trethewey. While in the position, the poet laureate is responsible for pushing the agenda of poetry. It is up to the poet laureate to determine how this is achieved but most conduct readings, lecture, host literary events, conduct radio and TV interviews and programs, compose poems for the nation, etc.

Third, there is not only a poet laureate for the United States but also for each state. Well, for many of the states; a few states do not have a poet laureate position. Responsibilities and requirements at the state level may differ from the national role.

NTrethewey

Trethewey, our current United States Poet Laureate claims Mississippi as her home state. She is the author of four books, one of which Native Guard won the Pulitzer Prize. Her work tends to focus on history, tragedy and mixed race issues; all subjects that have touched and therefore shaped her life. Below is a list of her other titles:

Domestic Work

Beyond Katrina

Bellocq’s Ophelia

Thrall

This April during National Poetry Month, I encourage you to take some time to check out one of her books. Her words will move you beyond belief.

Until next week, happy reading and writing of poetry.

(Photo copyright Jon Rou)

Featuring Women Writers for Women’s History Month

In previous weeks, I introduced several women writers who are featured in the recently released anthology Voices from the Block: A Legacy of African-American Literature . This week I am pleased to introduce yet another–Toyette Dowdell. I met Toyette years ago and know her to be a highly skilled writer. I consider it an honor for my work to appear with hers in Voices. I can’t wait for you to learn more about this gifted writer through her interview below, and if you’re interested in meeting Toyette in person, she and many of the other contributors to Voices will be at Absinthe Lounge at Southside on Lamar, Dallas, Texas, Saturday, April 5, 7:00 pm.

When did you know you wanted to write?
Toyette: I was an insatiable reader as a child and wrote lots of short stories and plays when I was young, but I decided I wanted to pursue it more seriously after watching the movie Purple Rain by Prince. I said to myself, “Prince wrote a movie so I know I can do that!”

What was your first written work?
Toyette: My first written work was a youth mystery patterned after the Encyclopedia Brown series. My first published piece was a play I wrote that was performed on stage when I was a freshman in high school.

What is your inspiration for writing? Or, where do you get your ideas for your stories, poems, etc.
Toyette: My inspiration for writing is to make other people feel the way I do when I read a really good book which is to be totally immersed in the story. My writing is all about entertaining and engaging my readers. I want them to be caught up in what’s happening and if there is a little bit of thought provocation then all the better.

What are you currently working on?
Toyette: I am currently working on a mystery thriller based in Texas about a female Texas Ranger.

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.