Tag Archive | writing

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.

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.

Black Literary Facts – 2014

Another February has come and with its arrival another opportunity to meet more Black writers and receive an introduction (or maybe re-introduction) to their works. Some of these writers I have met; others I have not. But, all impressed me with their talent and/or successes. I hope you enjoy reading about these impressive writers and that you’ll be inspired to read some or all of their works. Enjoy Black History Month and Black Literary Facts!

Leslie Esdaile Banks – With more than 60 works to her credit, Banks is best known for her Vampire Huntress Legend series and her romance novels.

Eleanor Taylor Bland – As a mystery novelist, Bland’s focus was to “give voice to those normally without a voice.” Marti MacAlister is the heroine in her eleven-book MacAlister detective series.

Charles W. Chesnutt – Author and essayist, Chestnutt wrote novels and short stories dealing with race and social identity during the post Civil War.

Donald Crews – A two-time Caldecott Honor winner, Crews authored the children’s books Freight Train and Truck.

Eric Jerome Dickey – This New York Times bestselling author has penned over twenty novels that feature strong female characters in lead roles.

Percival Everett – He is a poet, novelist and short story writer as well as the recipient of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, Believer Book Award, the PEN and numerous other awards.

Sharon G. Flake – This writer is a Publisher’s Weekly favorite. She is a young adult literary writer whose goal is to give hope, foster beliefs and encourage dreams.

Ernest Gaines – A National Endowment for the Arts recipient, Gaines has had several of his novels adapted to film, the most popular being The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and A Lesson Before Dying.

Marita Golden – Author of 14 works of fiction and nonfiction, she has received the Black Caucus of the American Library Association Honor Award and the Literary Award for Fiction for After.

Eloise Greenfield began writing children’s book because “far too few books told the truth about African-American people.” Her writings reflect her seriousness in telling the truth of her people.

Francis Ray – Romance novelist and short story writer who penned more than 50 books. She was an award winning, bestselling writer as well as the creator of a foundation to help victims of domestic abuse.

bell hooksAin’t I a Woman? is the title of this author’s work which greatly influenced contemporary feminist thought. She has also written literature for young people.

Elliott Eli Jackson – This author, poet and speaker writes nonfiction books, blogs and essays on spirituality and healing. He is a frequent speaker at conferences.

Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is a Harvard professor and the author of 16 books. In addition, he is affiliated with The Root, a daily online magazine.

Jesse C. Jackson – A young adult novelist whose stories focused on minorities forced to integrate a white environment is best known for Call Me Charley and Tessie.

Etheridge Knight – This poet wrote multiple books of poetry during the time of the Black Arts Movement. He was engaged with such notables as Amiri Baraka, Haki Madhubuti, and Sonia Sanchez.

Alain Locke – A Rhodes Scholarship winner, Locke’s writings and focus was on African and African American literature and writers. He wrote The New Negro, which is a classic.

John Marrant – In 1785, his pamphlet, A Narrative of the Lord’s Wonderful Dealings with John Marrant, a Black, was published and was so popular it was reprinted many times.

Brandon Massey – This award winning author of horror and suspense has published novels and short story collections. His works also appear in anthologies.

Richard Bruce Nugent – A popular figure during the Harlem Renaissance, his novel Gentleman Jigger was published in 2008, 70 years after it was written.

ZZ PackerDrinking Coffee Elsewhere was this author’s international bestseller. She has published frequently in The New Yorker and Granta.

Gordon Parks – Best known as the most important black photographer of our time, he is also the first African American to write and direct a Hollywood feature film, The Learning Tree based on his novel.

Alvin F. Poussaint – This author has written several nonfiction books on parenting, crime and other contemporary issues. In addition, he has an impressive list of articles on the same topics.

Willis Richardson – A playwright during the ’20s and ’30s, Richardson is considered a leader in the Negro Theatre movement. His plays were performed around the country and received countless awards.

Carl Hancock Rux – He is an award-winning poet, playwright, novelist, essayist and recording artist. His work, A City Reimagined: Voices of 9/11 in Poetry and Performance is a tribute to 9/11.

Ishmael Reed – A poet, essayist and novelist, he is best known for Mumbo Jumbo and Flight to Canada. Two of his books were nominated for the National Book Awards and other prizes.

Brenda Jackson – This USA Today and New York Times bestselling romance author has penned more than 100 novels and has more than three million books in print.

Angela Davis – Author of Women, Race, and Class and Are Prisons Obsolete?, Davis is best known for her work in social, civil and women’s rights.

May Miller – Her poem, Blazing Accusation is well known and was written after the 1963 bombing in Birmingham. She is also the award-winning playwright of The Bog Guide and Within the Shadows.

Welcome to National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month and to celebrate both poets and poetry, I pulled from my bookshelves some of my favorite local or regional poets’ volumes of poetry to share with you. You may not have heard of some of these poets because many do not have the notoriety of Sonia Sanchez or Nikki Giovanni. But in the southwest region, they are loved. So I present to you (drum roll please) “One Poet — One Line,” poets and one line from one of their treasured poems. Enjoy!

My hair has many blues like inner city streets, yet it thrives like ghetto hymns, never facing defeat” —Che’

“I am that which is good and positive tempered with my own humanity” — Herman Wilson II

“Down in the dumps is not my home Good-bye old friend; I’m moving on” — Doris House Rice

“Death came to remind me that earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal” — Evelyn Dees Kelly

“With strings and borrowed trumpets their genius reigned despite denial, bringing the world jazz” — Lisa Brown Ross

“The forecast in my eyes is rain pouring, from seeing the blue oceans through the lens of past happy days” —Pari Danian

“Life is a canvas waiting to be painted by the colors of our own choosing” — Irene P. Zucker

“Thank God it’s not just me, or eventually I would fall” — Pam Fields

“The beauty of giving Is to give from the heart” — Le’Juana Searcy

“Set your Self and your Spirit free; Give your Self permission just to ‘be'” — Martha Switzer

“If my tears can wash away your ignorance, I’ll cry you a river!” — Nichole L. Shields

“It’s past time We live past our feelings…Put aside our petty differences Reach out to each other in love.” — Jeanetta Britt

“With each morning comes a new day – a new chance to make peace with the world and all its people.” — Hugh M. Bouvier

“Pain wore her face like a road map…” — Quraysh Ali

“Put faith before doubt. For everything in life will work out.” — Sharon Jones-Scaife

“I am of no color For in many eyes I do not exist” — Katherine Smith

“How ya livin’, depends on the choices you make, how ya livin’, depends on what you ask for when you pray.” —Rudy V

Women’s History Month – Kate’s Influence

Meet Kate Policani – Author, Writer, Blogger, Journalist and More

Kate Policani

In the spirit of Women’s History Month, I asked Kate to share a little something about the woman writer who influenced her most, and below is her offering. Fascinating! Read on…

“When considering my favorite women authors, Jane Austen is the first name that comes to mind and one of my favorite authors of all time. She is a classic author holding the status of a staple of English literature. But her writing means more to me than just classics that we all read and metaphorically dissect in high school English class. Her books, and not just the ones made into movies, provided me with a wealth lacking in my culture.

Austen’s work has a wealth of culture. When I first read them in my teen years they supplied me with rich, mature subjects at a time when I was surrounded by shallow media. The stories brim with dynamic relationships and overflow with emotional intelligence. I loved, and still love, the simplicity coupled with the complexity of life. They were the opposites of my full, loud, busy life with scant substance.

My love for Austen’s books and the modesty of the period spurred me to seek other authors from her era. Bronte, Burney, and others provided me with entertaining stories as well as insight into my own culture’s downfalls and virtues. I lived in a culture where I had to cling to and protect my own innocence from intruding media filled with pornography and violence. It seems life is more violent and explicit now, at least in public, than it was through their eyes.

Austen and her contemporaries struggled with life as second-class beings, dependent on their fathers and husbands for freedoms most of us take for granted these days. Their culture was very different but their desires were the same: to be loved, to be respected, to protect those they loved, and to succeed in life. All this, Austen conveyed through story and character in a way that brought the struggles to life. As women who can own property, can be educated equally with men, and can make legal decisions ourselves, we can learn a lot from Austen’s work about strength and resourcefulness. We can remember that the freedoms we have aren’t something that women have always enjoyed, and we can be grateful to those who won those freedoms for us.”

Thank you Kate for sharing your thoughts about the woman writer who influenced you. You are not alone; there are many Jane Austen fans, and isn’t it wonderful to know that even generations later, she is still shaping lives with her masterfully crafted words.

To learn more about Kate’s wonderful collection of books and writings (and purchase a copy or two), visit her at:
Kate Policani.com
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads

Encountering the Written Word

Words, writing, and books….these are topics I can talk about for hours, and typically do with a friend who is as into these topics as I am. Recently, this friend and I were talking, trying to determine if we could live one day without encountering the written word. Not necessarily in book format but in any form. We decided we couldn’t but to help us reach that decision, we walked through a “normal” day. Below is a sample of a normal day for me and as you’ll see, I could not avoid the written word all day (of course this makes me happy).

A Normal Day:
I wake up and start journaling my dreams and thoughts. Words. Before I finish journaling, I want coffee. So off I stumble to the kitchen to make a few cups. Since I’m a coffeeholic, there’s no bumping into written words since there’s no need to read directions. All that’s required is action (an aspect of writing that we’ll leave for another day) and barely any thought.

Resettled in my favorite chair, the bed or the sofa, I sip coffee, finish journaling (is one ever finished journaling?) and decide to catch the morning news as I wait for my computer to boot up. Turning to a local channel, I see words on the screen. Did you catch that? …words on the screen.

My cell phone dings and by the sound I know it’s an incoming email—words. I turn off the TV and turn toward the computer to check email and then write, write, write. Nothing but words. (Okay, so maybe that’s cheating since I am a writer and that’s what I do most days.)

Some hours later, it’s errand-running time. I turn off the computer and dash out of the house. Again no words, but lots of action. As I’m running errands, I read billboards, road signs, traffic alerts, etc. Words, words, with a few numbers thrown in (yuck to numbers!). I sign my receipt at the grocery store (one of my errands) and see enticing words offering me a percentage off of this, a percentage off of that, words and numbers (yuck to numbers!).

Back at home, I settle back into my work, writing, which is not work at all except when it comes to editing (yuck to editing!). My stomach growls and it’s getting dusky outdoors so I know it’s time for dinner. But it’s also time to exercise so I grab a quick snack and off I rush to the gym or track. No written words required. Just action and sweat. In an hour, I am back home and seriously scouring the fridge for a real meal. I throw one together which does not require written words except when I decide to try a new recipe, then it would be an encounter with written words. But trust me, that doesn’t happen often. I try to spend as little time as possible in the kitchen.

To end the day, I watch TV–no words unless I accidentally hit the subtitle button or view certain commercials such as those featuring class action law suits against drug companies or Meow Mix or the starving artist art show. Finally, after the evening news, it’s time to read myself to sleep–words, words, and more words. Hmmm…are there words in my dreams?

What about you? Can you make it through a “normal” day without encountering any written words? If so, how in the heck did you do that?

You Can Dude It!

One night at dinner, I sat beside my nephew, who was two-years old at the time, and thought I’d help him eat his spaghetti. I picked up his fork but when I began twirling it in the mound of pasta, he very aggressively took the fork from me, looked me straight in the eyes and said, “I can dude it.” Even with his two-year-old speech in development, I and the rest of the family clearly understood that he aimed to feed himself, which he did.

Okay, now hold that story in your head… I promise it has a place here.

Recently, I launched this site and heard from many family members, friends and associates who shared so many kind words with me. And while I appreciate all the beautiful remarks and sentiments, one comment in particular made me pause.

In short, the comment credited me with “being courageous, using my talents and never giving up on my dream,” and ended with the notion that not everyone can achieve. After considering the comment I was surprised to feel a burning in my chest which signaled anger. But, why was I mad? I thought about that all day and discovered my anger boiled down to us, humans. Why do we sometimes feel that accomplishments are bestowed only on the “talented tenth?”

Because that is so not true.

I am not one of the talented tenth. I am not above any other. I do not have extra brain cells. Nor do I have a stronger link to God than anyone else. The only reason I’ve been able to “use my talents” and showcase my stories to the world is because I am operating in my life purpose.

When I started this life-purpose journey, the first thing I did was fast and pray with the intent of hearing from God the designs He had for my life. After a week of seeking God, He answered very clearly, “Your ministry is writing.” To this day, I have not forgotten that writing is my life’s purpose. Writing is what I am here to do. To do anything else would be equivalent to slapping God and me in the face, and yet that is what I did for many years before I finally convinced myself, “I can dude it!” Soon after embracing that belief, I grabbed my fork (the equivalent of belief in my life purpose) and jabbed it in the plate of spaghetti (the equivalent of giving up the security of a bi-weekly paycheck) with the intent of feeding my purpose (writing and all that goes with it, including launching this site).

And guess what? If “I can dude it,” you can too! You can do that thing that God designed you to do. Don’t know what that thing is? Ask Him; He knows. He is after all the One who created you, and He is so eager to share His plans for your life.

Don’t forfeit another day of your life’s purpose. Seek God. Learn your life purpose, and firmly plant it in your heart and soul. Then, dude it.

It is not my intent with this post to put anyone on blast, but I truly feel these words need to be shared. If you’re offended, my apologies. Charge it to my desire for everyone to live a purposeful life.