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Want to be a Great Writer? Then Don’t Focus on Writing. (Do This Instead)

Writing is an art that cannot be mastered by everyone. It is a blessing that will help you shape your career or your passion. You always wanted to be a writer, but you weren't sure how to go about it?…

What I Am
What I am is what I am

I’m a black romance writer. That can mean different things, depending on where you place the emphasis. I could be a writer of black romance. I could be a romance writer who is black. I am both however, and for…

Daddy’s Eyes
Through My Daddy’s Eyes

Hello All, With the blessings of APOOO and Blogginginblack, I’m reposting an article I wrote for APOOO’s In the Limelight to help celebrate Black history month and Black literature. Each day in February a different author is posting an article, and they…

Future
What Does The Future Hold?

“The future is now.” Nam June Paik One of the big shocks I got as a new writer was learning how little the author, creator of the product being bought and sold, controls in the whole process. I mean outside…

Great WriterWhat I AmDaddy’s EyesFuture

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Great Writer

Want to be a Great Writer? Then Don’t Focus on Writing. (Do This Instead)

Writing is an art that cannot be mastered by everyone. It is a blessing that…

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What I am

What I am is what I am

I’m a black romance writer. That can mean different things, depending on where you place…

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A Reading Child

I love the idea of a Reading Child, I guess that’s why I ventured into…

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Great Writer

Want to be a Great Writer? Then Don’t Focus on Writing. (Do This Instead)

Writing is an art that cannot be mastered by everyone. It is a blessing that…

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Future

What Does The Future Hold?

“The future is now.” Nam June Paik One of the big shocks I got as…

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Reading

A Reading Child

I love the idea of a Reading Child, I guess that’s why I ventured into…

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Great Writer

Want to be a Great Writer? Then Don’t Focus on Writing. (Do This Instead)

Writing is an art that cannot be mastered by everyone. It is a blessing that will help you shape your career or your passion. You always wanted to be a writer, but you weren’t sure how to go about it? If your answer is yes, then we feel you.

Everyone who has a basic knowledge of grammar can write, but not everyone can become successful. This is because writing is not the key to success; it is the system you build around it, that will take you to places. You know what Hemingway, Jacobs and other great writers had in common? A honed writing system that they followed diligently in rain or shine. If you want to become a successful writer, then stop focusing on your writing and follow the three aspects mentioned below:

Gather material

You decide to write! But what are you going to write about? Even though you have a lot of options and topics in front of you, where do you gain the information or the courage to start writing?

Now you know the importance of gathering enough material. All writers, including Hemingway, requires equipment. Lucky for us, because we literally have the world at our fingertips; hence we can browse through anything and everything. Here are a few ways to gather material:

  • Learn from life experiences
  • If you have no relevant experiences, then you can learn from the experiences of others’.
  • Read a lot of books and articles.
  • Follow famous writers and their focus on their style and implement some interesting ways to your writing style.
  • Gather information from the comments sections of other writers.

Gather material

Write

Although we’ve mentioned not to focus on writing, you cannot really dodge it to the gutter. You have to write. You cannot compete in the World Cup if you do not practice how to play cricket!

Once you’ve gathered all your material and ideas, it is time for you to put your thoughts on paper. This needs to be a regular practice and not once in a bluemoon. Setting a goal to complete a particular number of words daily will solve half your problem of procrastination. By setting a specific time and number of words to achieve per day, you can be diligent in your work.

Sharpen your skills

If you always wanted to be a writer, then you probably have skills for it and its only time that you sharpen these skills, and you’re all set to write your heart out!

Don’t fall prey to the idea of “reading and writing a lot“. Although it works to some extent, most times, it becomes stagnant. Take up a course or read books on how to improvise, do your homework and most importantly, keep your mind relaxed and develop the ability to think clearly.

The writing styles are different for bloggers, novelists, poets etc. Find you forte and work on that by getting proper guidelines from mentors or books.

What I am

What I am is what I am

I’m a black romance writer. That can mean different things, depending on where you place the emphasis. I could be a writer of black romance. I could be a romance writer who is black. I am both however, and for some, that’s a problem.

Black romances are hardly mentioned in the mainstream. One college professor is teaching a group of students about romantic fiction. She mentioned a range of writers and genres, including a final class choice between an erotic romance (with a gay romance subplot) and an inspirational. Though the class began with Monica Jackson’s novella, “The Choice,” as a discussion on the definition of romance and the eight elements of romance, a full-length novel by a black author was woefully missing from the list.

Not really a problem or surprising, you think. Except the class is majority African-American females and is being taught at a Historically Black College. Yet the idea of including a full-length romance by a black author did not occur to this professor. To be fair, once it was pointed out to her, she did add a Beverly Jenkins title to her list. (Sorry, Loretta Chase.) Still, it’s disheartening that the need to add a multicultural book had to be pointed out at all.

We genre writers are invisible to the mainstream readership. It’s not just romance. Science fiction, mystery, horror—if you are known to be black and populate your stories with black people, you are shelved and marketed away from the mainstream culture. The Powers That Be have determined that your work is “Other” and as such, mainstream readers “can’t relate” to you or your characters.

For the last few months, I’ve been wandering the World Wide Web, occasionally making posts and comments regarding black folks who write and where their books can be found. Some people don’t have a problem with it. Some people say it’s just a marketing thing. Some say it’s a niche. But when you have black characters written by black authors shelved in the black section, while black characters by white authors are shelved in regular fiction, I think everyone can admit that there is an imbalance occurring.

Can anything be done? I don’t know. Should anything be done? I know some people don’t think so. We’re fine where we are, where our readers can find us. Is it wrong to ask for more, to want to reach more readers, to want to actually make a living writing fiction? So why shouldn’t I want to be placed in a high-traffic area? I think I’m safe in my assumption that there are black readers who read white authors and regularly visit genre sections. Why can’t there be white readers who read black authors?

I just wanna be a writer, darn it. If I have to use any adjective, I’d like to use successful. Not ethnic, not multicultural. Seressia Glass, successful writer. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem as if marketing will allow me to be anything else.

Daddy’s Eyes

Through My Daddy’s Eyes

Hello All,

With the blessings of APOOO and Blogginginblack, I’m reposting an article I wrote for APOOO’s In the Limelight to help celebrate Black history month and Black literature. Each day in February a different author is posting an article, and they have been FANTASTIC thus far. Gwen Bolton, Donna Hill, LaConnie Taylor-Jones, L.A. Banks, Bettye Griffin…Get on over there and read up on the articles.

I’m reposting here because I’d like for you all to comment and help add on to the list I started. Sooooo, if enjoy the article and don’t be shy.  I can’t log on from work, but I’ll be by in the evening to answer your comments.
Through My Daddy’s Eyes
I moved over the summer from Chicago to Phoenix. My parents came down to visit me a few weeks ago for a break from the blizzards and down right nasty weather they were having in Central Illinois, and also to visit their favorite middle child. Nothing out of the ordinary there. They’ve visited before and will visit again, but this time was quite different. I made a discovery of something I should have known, but never truly occurred to me.
I had a box of history books setting beside the kitchen table with the top off—I’d intended on taking the box upstairs to the bookshelf in my bedroom and yes the box is still in the same spot—and don’t get me started on the boxes in the garage. Anywhooo, my dad doesn’t really read novels or even non-fiction books. He’s more into technical guides, financial magazines and such.
I walked through the kitchen and he was sitting at the table with his back to me. I didn’t pay him any never mind. Everything was good. I walked back through the kitchen to the front of the house maybe an hour later and was shocked to see him still there in the same spot. Sooooo being the loving daughter I am, I asked him what he was up to—okay, so I’m nosey.
He turned around with the excitement of a child on Christmas morning. He began telling me stories about Blacks from the Old West and showed me the book he was reading—yep one of my history books. I have a nice collection of Black history books. He was going on about how he knew our people had done more than pick cotton… Yes, he’d “heard” stories, but here they were in black and white with documented proof. I saw this pride as he poured through the books, and I literally wanted to cry.
This is SAD in so many ways. My father is only 64 years old and is well educated, but what education did he receive. He had a great job, is retired and living well, but doesn’t know much more about our history outside of the usual Black history facts put on television or the radio.
Truth be told, my parents taught us about our history, but it was family history. How we could succeed because those before us in our family have fought the fight and paved the way. If they could make it through slavery, through Jim Crow, through riots, then we have no excuse. But I wish he had known we as a people did more than be oppressed. I don’t blame him. Information is only becoming readily available, and my parents did an outstanding job with what they had.
Every February I start seeing request regarding what good Black history books are out there. I’m Black 365 days a year. We should care about where we come from and where we are going every day. And for those who read this who aren’t Black, you should also know our history because it is yours also. The world would not be as it is without Black accomplishments.
Black history month is GREAT. Use it as a time to get started down that path of knowledge. Remember our parents and grandparents who don’t know.
Here are a few books to get you started.
If you don’t read non-fiction, read Beverly Jenkins’ Historical Romance Novels. Yes I said ROMANCE. She bases her novels from events, people, places in our history and gives references in case you want more information. You learn our history in a FUN way. You don’t even know. Really. When you finish, you’ll want to know more.
Now onto Non-Fiction
Sex and Race by J. A. Rogers—This is actually a series and tells of Blacks throughout the world through history and tells you were to find the supporting documentation. In Volume I you’ll learn about England’s Black Queen and a whole lot more.
Atlas of African-American History by James Ciment—I LOVE this book. I bought it for my children but we all enjoy it. This actually starts out in Ancient Egypt and covers Africa. Think about it. African History is ours. This book is easy to read and also filled with lots of maps, time lines, pictures…Fantastic child-friendly without talking down to adults book.
The Destruction of Black Civilization: Great Issues of Race from 4500 B.C. to 2000 A.D. by Chancellor Williams—I won’t even lie to you. This is a HEAVY read but worth it.
The Black West by William Loren Katz & Black People Who Made the Old West by William Loren Katz—These two books have quite a bit of repeat information, but I still like them both. They are easy reads.
Black Women of the Old West by William Loren Katz—If you haven’t figured it out yet, I like William. LOL. This is a short book and shows Black women have done more than be mistresses and bed warmers to the slave holders. This is also an easy read and very child friendly.
Empak publishing also puts out a series called A Salute to: Then whatever they are saluting. For example A Salute to Black Scientist and Inventors. Or A Salute to African Kings and Queens. These books are short, easy read, excellent for young children.
Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage by William Loren Katz—How many of you brag about that one drop of Indian blood you have? Well, here is a place to start learning bout our connection Native Americans.
Remembering Slavery: African Americans Talk About Their Personal Experiences of Slavery and Emancipation by by Robin D. G. Kelley (Foreword), Ira Berlin (Editor), Marc Favreau (Editor), Steven F. Miller (Editor)—I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this book because it is written from interviews with former slaves. Many of the interviews had been recorded and I believe you can order the recordings. I haven’t read this in quite a while. Anyway, former slaves tell their accounts. And before you say slavery was such a long time ago, my granny can tell you about former slaves she knew, so it’s not too long ago.
Welllll, that’s a good start. Go learn about our history and share the knowledge.
Future

What Does The Future Hold?

“The future is now.” Nam June Paik

One of the big shocks I got as a new writer was learning how little the author, creator of the product being bought and sold, controls in the whole process. I mean outside the writing of the book. Some authors might even argue that we have to struggle for that once the editor makes comments. But that’s a whole other subject, the editioral process that is. Back to the future- I’ve been interested lately in a few developments that appear on the surface to be possible changes in how much the author controls. Recently I read about the new Amazon e-reader Kindle. Now Amazon has a new avenue for authors- you can directly make your book available for sale in Kindle format and get 35% of the sale price. In fact, you set the sale price and control other aspects of your book. Now I’m not saying this beats getting a big contract, loads of publisher support, etc. Fact is it’s a new twist on self-publishing. But without all the expense of printing and so on and so forth. You can choose to publish your story as a serial, load artwork with your text and lots of cool stuff.

I recently read another article about a writer who is creating a network of authors who are publishing stories in blogs. Naturally this caught my eye since I’m doing that right now with my serial mystery A Darker Shade of Midnight The downside is I haven’t been able to post installments as often as I like because I’m working on a mystery. However, the fun part has been writing the story exactly the way I want to, no rules just writing. Another downside- I simply haven’t had time to create an entire online world using Second Life, Facebook, MySpace, etc. as suggested by Alison Norrington, a chicklit author from Ireland. Booksquare has a great post talking about Alison’s innovative approach. I love the title of the post- even if I did get that old Janet Jackson song stuck in my head for a good twenty-four hours.

Anyway, I love imagining the future, especially one that gives me choices and control, and yet another Janet tune will now clang in my brain for hours

Again, obviously not going the traditional route takes some mind stretching guts, even entrepreneurial spirit. But this appeals to me. Consider the number of authors and books available these days. We all know the odds are against more than a handful hitting the big time of bestseller lists, serious bucks, glitz and glamor awards, etc.

Once I stripped away all those dreams and faced reality, what did I have left? My love of creating- writing, finding the images to match and stretching outside the box others try to shove me into against my will. If I had the time I would take LaShaun Rousselle and create her on Second Life. Then I’d build the little town of Beau Chene, Louisiana and happily populate it with the charcters from my serial. Alas, I only have so many hours in the day. But it’s great to dream about it. As it is I created the blog with fun links and story related facts. I’d love to add music files for readers to sample and more.

I love the future. I can imagine all kinds of cool changes. But what a lovely surprise to discover that the future is now!

Postscript: I’m working on the new episodes of my online serial. For any of you reading A Darker Shade of Midnight I apologize for slowing down, but this mystery novel I’m writing must be obeyed. However, I will be posting the two new episodes soon.

Next week I’m off to Sleuthfest. I’m excited since this will be my first mystery authors conference. See you later!

Reading

A Reading Child

I love the idea of a Reading Child, I guess that’s why I ventured into the young adult realm for a minute, and it has been so fulfilling…today I received an email from a mother of a thirteen year old, about two months ago the mother checked out my website, decided she wanted to interview me. she read my book, then she allowed her thirteen year old to read it…today I read the review of that thirteen year old, and I had a lump in my throat all day, she told me what she loved about the book and what she didn’t. What touched me most was in the didn’t love section of her review, it was about how a couple of the characters were behaving, and reading about their behavior made her realize how she didn’t want to behave…I loved that…

As a mentor one of the first things I ask, is, “What are you reading”, if the answer is nothing, off to the bookstore we go. Nothing pleases my heart more than to see the expanding of a young person’s mind once they enter the wonderful world of the written word.

I am also the mother of reading children…well actually they are men, twenty-two and twenty-eight and self-supporting makes them men…woo hoo…anyway…they are both readers…many ask why and I say, ‘They had no choice’…I read to them invitro…as babies…toddlers…and we went to the library together until they were done with high school…and we talked about what they had read…which meant I read a lot of kids books…

Three of my favorite memories of my kids reading involve my youngest son….I remember, we were living in Hawaii and he was eight years old…on Saturday after he and I did chores, went shopping and finally returned home…daddy was away on business…big brother at fourteen was not trying to hang out with us…we came home, I told him not to go outside, I was going upstairs to take a shower….when done I looked everywhere for him…even outside where I told him not to go…after several minutes…I heard giggling…I looked in the bathroom downstairs and he was ensconced on the floor with pillows and a cup of juice, giggling as he read a book he had picked up from the library….The other time was one day we were at the doctor’s office, he was sixteen and had decided to read, ‘The Art of War’…several of the doctors walked by and each one of them stared at my son…feeling a bit perturbed…protective Black Mama and all, I asked, ‘What was going on’…one Doctor said, “I have never seen a boy his age, sitting anywhere, reading a book…that was a proud mama moment…the third moment was in 2005, we were in the middle of hurricane season and my husband, my son (now almost twenty) and I were stuck in the house for almost three days without electricity, during that time, my son and I were lying on the floor, near the fireplace, swapping books, arguing about books…but most importantly reading books…

So, Share a Book With A Young Person, They Just Might Become A Reading Child–How Cool Is That!

Blessings,

angelia

Writing

The Writing Life

It’s 8am and the ground is covered with snow. It could be about five inches or more.   The pine trees’ branches are heavy with white tufts that bend them low.  It’s cold outside, but warm inside and a perfect day to write. The sun that peeks down through the trees easily trick the eye and mind into believing that it might not be as cold as you know it is. But experience teaches that it is best to stay inside, put on a warm sweater, grab a cup of tea and allow that spark of imagination to instead hit the page.

The writing life isn’t always an easy one. It is quiet and often filled with moments of introspection—and many days of alone time. But on days like these, when the mind begins to wander off into distant places, writing becomes an elixir and a friend that cracks the silence like a clap of thunder on a stormy night.  A room where I now sit alone, will team with voices and motion, all competing for a chance to tell a story—any story.

The excitement may prompt me to turn on, very low, but not intrusive, some classical music.  Although neither necessary or unnecessary, it adds another dimension to the spiritual din that fills the room.  The characters nudge me along, whispering words that almost seem as though they are not entirely my own.

Every action inspires an idea…from picking up a glass of water to drink, to picking up a pen to make a note.  Some flashes of inspiration are directly related to the action, others find their way on the page through a series of journeys that started from the glass of water, and end in a magical world that lives under the sea.

As writers, we see and hear things the average person cannot begin to imagine. Hours will float by seeming like only minutes to us.  And during that time, we are the life givers, the resuscitators, the let-there-be-light creators of our work and of the world we’ve brought into existence.

For the real writer, one who is dedicated to sharing the story of characters come to visit, writing becomes a virus.  It is the type of virus that infects our soul without robbing it of its health and vitality.  And no matter how many times we fall prey to it, something is born from it. And in the end, we are rejuvenated.

I love to write. My life is writing. And although a very slow and deliberate writer, I believe that if even one person receives something from those who people my pages, then their whispers have not gone unheard…their story has been told.

For those who write and for those who are readers, welcome to the writing life.

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