Archive | December 2017

2017 Year-End Reflection AND 10 Reasons Why I Plan on 2018 Being Even Better!

Soon, the year 2018 will roll on in. Looking back to all that I’ve accomplished, in spite of the struggle and medical hardships (yup, maybe I’ll share that someday), I can finally admit that I’m amazed and proud of myself.

Before I sat down to type this post, I had to think back on every single thing I did in order to own this feeling and not dismiss it. My mother and father raised me to always strive to be better. So, I blame them. Thank you, Mommy and Daddy. Thank you ever so much. Lol.

For most of you that know me on a more personal level, you know it’s hard for me to express such affirmations and truly, TRULY own them.

So, without further adieu, here are 10 Accomplishments in 2017 I’m MOST PROUD OF:

1. Attended various local author events at bookstores, libraries, and conventions.

2. Republished Forbidden as an e-book (now if only I can finish it up as a paperback)!

3. Independently published my first middle grade book (Waking Dream Series). Due to the fact that I struggle with marketing books like other Indie authors, I’ve decided that WHEN (not if) I become traditionally published, I’ll still put 100% into social media and marketing, but I hope that I’ll have more time to dedicate to writing. Being an Indie author is HARD! And yes, the stigma of independently publishing books is slowly disappearing it isn’t completely extinct!

indies what we are

Read more about Being an Indie Author here.

4. Celebrated my sons’ birthdays (17, 5, and 2).

5. Wedding Anniversary – 🙂

6. Submitted several manuscripts to agents and publishers! Sure, I received rejections! But if you don’t try, you won’t succeed!

7. Applied for artists grants.

8. Sold my FIRST PAID short story, “Bondye Bon” to FIYAH Literary Magazine. Learn more so you can purchase your copy in January here!

9. Created YouTube Channel that’s in need of some serious, serious attention! 😉

10. Connected with more bloggers, readers, writers, and friends all over the world!

With you and your stimulating social interactions, I’ve become a better writer!

Thank-you-word-cloud

 

 

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Stellaluna, The Evolution of Picture Books, and the Excuse of Short Attention Spans

Short Attention Span_Meme

 

Earlier today I visited my local Barnes & Noble to purchase The Book. This book shall remain a mystery until a future post. 🙂

Anyway, I enjoyed a lovely conversation with a grandmother who is also a writer. She popped into the bookstore to purchase the gorgeously illustrated and beautifully written picture book, “Stellaluna” by Janell Cannon for her adorable granddaughter.

stellaluna

Picture books like “Come on Rain!” by Karen Hesse and Patricia Polacco’s “Chicken Sunday” are much longer in comparison to the picture books that are being published today. And it’s sad. I’ve drawn my own conclusions about why that might be.

come on rain by hesse

There’s no doubt that editors and agents are paying close attention to chicken sunday polaccotheir intended audiences. Perhaps, they’ve drawn conclusions that the kids of today have shorter attention spans and that they’re unable to listen through a ten minute read aloud (and fellow teachers, let’s not forget accountable turn and talk time, amiright)? Last year, I sent a survey home to parents asking about obstacles that keep their student from reading. Parents didn’t disappoint. One parent in particular explained that her daughter is distracted by so many “toys and gadgets” such as her cell phone, tablet (where she plays app games such as Candy Crush) and video games. Despite this parental feedback, I was still confused because even as a kid when I had my video games (Legend of Zelda, Ogre Battle, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Final Fantasy series — oh yes!) I made time for reading. My parents also instilled in me the importance of prioritizing.

Another reason why I think picture books have shrunk is because they aren’t made for cheap. Publishers have to pay the illustrator and the author (if they’re not working with an author-illustrator). One other favorite picture books is “Amazing Grace” by Mary Hoffman and illustrated by Caroline Binch. Reading Rainbow introduced this book to me. I love how the character-driven story shares a universal message about following your dreams despite resistance from others.Amazing Grace by Hoffman

I miss the picture books of long ago! I miss the the graceful use of figurative language! And don’t get me wrong, I understand that publishers need to make money. Otherwise, they can’t feed their own families, pay their bills, and so on. According to Kidlit.com, picture books are a $50,000 investment for a publisher!

BUT, I do think that if a book is great and interesting, the length SHOULD be an afterthought! And if a reader is really engaged then they’ll just keep reading.

just-keep-reading-just-keep-reading

However, there have been times when I’ve relied on Quick Reads for my little ones. Mo Willems’ “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” is a great solution when I’m cramped for time!

Don't Let the Pigeon_Willems

 

Start with Conflict to Connect with Your Story

Yup. Uh huh. I so had to REBLOG this fellow artist’s blog post because it speaks a truth that a lot of us are afraid to admit. 🙂 So cool.

Know Your Narrative

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Let me invite you into part of my story.

When I was growing up, no one told me that I was good enough. My grades weren’t good enough; my social skills weren’t good enough; my looks weren’t good enough; who I was as a person just wasn’t good enough.

It’s not that anybody came right out and said, “you’re not good enough,” but this was the message that I internalized from my environment.

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Man vs. Self – A Guide to Writing Internal Conflict

REBLOGGED R. Morgan Stories post! *New follower alert, Morgan!*

R. Morgan Stories

One of the classic conflicts in literature is Man vs. Self, where the characters have to face the inner demons lurking in their psyche. However, as much as an internal conflict is a pivotal tool for a strong story, it can also be the most taunting aspect, especially when the author has not necessarily gone through the inner conflict they want to represent on their character.

From a psychological point of view, I want to present some different internal conflicts that various authors have proposed. While not all of us can relate to every single one, being able to understand how they work and how they manifest on a character can give us authors many more tools to play with while writing.

Disclaimer: I am not a licensed psychologist and while I encourage playing with different theories while developing characters, take it with a grain of salt if you decide…

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New York Literary Magazine: A Series of Unfortunate Events

Wow. REBLOGGED! Thanks to Foz Meadows for alerting fellow writers about the NYLM scam! I spied one of these emails, but sensed it was a scam and I’m so GLAD I didn’t pay the entry fee! Sometimes, being in a crappy mood pays off.

shattersnipe: malcontent & rainbows

It’s not every day that I’m indirectly accused of ruining someone’s business, but 2017 has been a hell of a year.

On Christmas Day, I – along with many other writers in the SFF community – received an email from something called the New York Literary Magazine, informing me that I’d been nominated for their Best Story Award. For a number of reasons, both the email and the site to which it directed me pinged as fishy, not least because nominees were directed to pay a submission fee in order to be eligible for the award itself. In response, I ended up writing this Twitter thread about it. Many other writers chimed in – some of whom had paid the fee, most of whom had not – and the whole thing was quickly reported to Writer Beware as a scam, or at the very least as an operation to be…

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What Do Recurring Themes Say About You as a Writer?

recurring dreams

According to HowStuffWorks.com,

Many people have the same or a similar dream many times, over either a short period of time or their lifetime. Recurring dreams usually mean there is something in your life you’ve not acknowledged that is causing stress of some sort. … In this case, the dreams tend to lessen with time.

I’ve had recurring dreams, but the main point of this post is to discuss recurring themes in writing. I think that the themes we express creatively, like dreams, often reveal a lot about us.

A little while ago, I needed to go back and look at some work I did over a decade ago. I ended up pulling out floppy disks (yup), flash drives, and paper copies of work.

floppy neckchain

Ahhh. Floppy disks — as retro as Flavor Flav.

flavor flav

You see, there’s a grant that I’m really interested in winning (finalists won’t be announced for quite some time) and when I attended the workshop to learn more, the facilitator shared that applying artist were encouraged to reflect upon past work (none could be older than 15 years) and analyze it critically in order to improve the work.

I found short stories, novellas, poems, flash fiction from when I was a teenager. I also noticed a trend in writing themes I’ve maintained over a decade late. Here’s a taste:

Death

Family — blessing or curse

Love Conquerors All

Immortality

Oppression of women

Words have power

Evils of racism

All those years ago, I didn’t know that these stories fell into the speculative fiction category. Heck, I didn’t even know that I was genre writing. I just wrote because it made me feel better. I wrote in order to channel my passions and sometimes despair in an artistic manner. The themes I write about often transcend what’s happening in our current world. In other words, the settings I create don’t exist based on the world as we know it now. At times, it’s comforting to speculate. And at times, it’s downright terrifying too.

Speculative Fiction Diagram_Annie Neugebauer

This diagram (thanks to Annie Neugebauer) for this great visual of how far-reaching speculative fiction is. And the possibilities seem endless. 

I’m actively looking for an agent that will help me to reach my next goal: a home with a traditional publishing house. Some of my friends and families say, “Hey, just write a memoir. Or write in a hot niche category that will get you published quickly. Once you get your foot in the door, then, you can write whatever you want.”

I considered this route. Sucked on it like candy, before spitting it out. I realized if I write something I don’t love, or something that isn’t a part of me, I’m not being true to who I am.

It’d be like one of those cringe-worthy romance-comedy (less on the comedy part) movies where The Girl (me) changes who she is so the School Hunk (publisher/agent) notices her and takes her to the prom (publishing contract). And heck, maybe a year or so later they’ll get married and have a bunch of kids (royalty check + sequels and New York Times Bestseller List).

Reaching my goal as a successful Indie author has been hard. I’m a face-to-face kind of gal. I sometimes kiss with my eyes wide open, break out into random songs, or dance in the rain, and marketing from behind a keyboard isn’t my idea of a “good time”.

So, back to the recurring themes . . .

My first PAID short story, “Bondye Bon” will be published in Fiyah Lit Magazine’s Ahistorical Blackness (January Edition). I remained who I am. The story includes themes such as death, family, oppression of women, the evils of racism, and so much more.

Writers, what themes often appear in your writing? What do you think they say about you and your craft? Readers, what kind of themes do you especially enjoy appearing in the stories you read? Please share in the comments!

 

The Priceless Importance of Leaving a Book Review!

I have a lot of New Year’s resolutions for 2018 and I plan on sharing them in upcoming posts!

One of goals is to write more often on this blog, even if it’s really brief. Another goal I have is to write more book reviews. It’s important to support other authors. Books are important and I’m going to make sure my actions speak this truth.

After all, I had mentioned that I would be doing reviews for books (for example, Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older) I recently read. Unfortunately, I was also in the process of republishing my first book that was orphaned after my publisher went out of business. And then when I tried to be an Indie publisher (mind you, with a full-time job, and three sons) I got disheartened with how poorly I felt I was doing compared to other authors like this guy. My husband ADORES Chris Fox. Chris has a lot of good advice, but he’s no longer in the trenches like little old me so . . .

Anyway, if you write reviews, you’re awesome sauce.

If you’re an avid reader and aren’t putting in that extra effort, please consider it! Writers NEED YOU!

review or pie

I’d prefer the review any day, hands down, because then I can reward myself with a slice of pie.