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african american female author

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Four Golden Rules of Being a Writer

Writing is art. Not the kind displayed in galleries, where patrons reflect on the intentions or musings behind the piece. To view our art, one must crack open a book, turn its pages and allow the artist to take you on a journey through the power of the written word. The writer is an artist. Our canvas is the blank page. With a stroke of our pen or rhythmic taps on keyboards, we paint with words, driven by passion to tell a story. When a writer paints from the heart, readers lose and find themselves within the pages. The content becomes real — a part of the reader, perhaps inspiring action or stirring up memories.

Hopefully, the information below proves helpful to those who share a love and passion for the written word.

1.  Stories are everywhere. Ideas are in everything. Writers write and write some more. Just start writing. Don’t get caught up in trying to the write the next great American novel or bestseller. Simply give yourself over to the creative process and write from the heart that which compels.

    • Don’t worry about the clean up when you’re writing a section or a scene. Transfer everything that’s playing in your head onto paper or a laptop. Somewhere during this phase, you’ll probably look over your piece and may even consider it worthy of the trash bin since, at present, it doesn’t resemble the literary masterpieces you’ve come to love.
    • Writers understand that writing takes time. Allow your canvas to fill up with the basics—ideas and thoughts.

2.  For me, once I’ve gotten a scene down, I must go back  and begin to flesh it out. This is where I begin to carve out the characters and scene. It is important, as the writer, to paint the picture. Whatever you imagine in your mind, the reader should be able to recreate a similar image from what you’ve written.

    • Not every detail of a leaf is necessary when it’s not the focal point of the scene or story. However, if detailing the leaf illustrates a character lost in thought or an artist’s keen eye for detail, perhaps an in-depth description is of importance.
    • Details add dimension to your canvas. Paint with sharp or subtle contrasting strokes to evoke a sentiment or emotion.

3.  Dialogue is key. How the characters communicate is just as important as the setting, if not more. Their interactions, vocal inflictions, little nuances that are specific to them add dimension and depth.  Adding these elements heightens character awareness.

    • Visualize and act out some of the conversations. Make the conversation real. So real, the reader feels as if they’re overhearing or eavesdropping on a private conversation.
    • Conversation adds color to your canvas. Paint with a vivid palette and watch your canvas come to life.

4.  Edit, edit and edit some more. You’ve finished your piece and are ready to shout, dance and jump for joy. Do all of those things, but recognize you are far from done. Your writing is nowhere near the masterpiece it can be and will be without proper editing.

    • Masterpieces take time to develop. Editing is where extraordinary things happen. To me, this is where creativity truly kicks in. You’ve gotten the story down, cleaned portions of it as you wrote, but now you it’s time to switch hats and become more critical of your piece. I can easily spend double the amount of time it took the write the piece in editing it. This is a potentially never-ending process, yet the most important.
    • Before you display your work, consider seeking the services of an editor. Their objective eye can provide insight into making your piece something truly unique.

Masterpieces are created, birthed from a thought and guided by ideas. Don’t rush the steps; don’t rush the process. Readers deserve great stories. How about we paint a few for them?

*Originally a guest blog featured  in October 2011.

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Watch Me!

watchme

Ever have someone tell you what you couldn’t do? How your dreams were too big? How what you wanted to accomplish was a veritable impossibility? How did what they share about your dreams, your aspirations make you feel? Did they empower you or did they make you doubt your ability? No matter what was said nor the message conveyed or who said it, those words had an impact. All words do. How you choose to allow those words to effect you is of importance. It is a matter of cultivating the graveyard of dreams or nurturing the birthplace of the greater tomorrow you envisioned.

This is one of the primary reasons why it is important to protect your dreams, your passions. It is also one of the reasons why many choose to keep their dreams private. In sharing, there exists the opportunity for someone to utter words that will snuff the kindling passion birthed in your gut, creating a mountain of doubt were only peaks and occasional valleys originally existed. Yet there are others who, upon hearing the naysayers list of reasons for caution or redirection, use those words as further motivation. Instead of snuffing out, the contrary occurs — the spark to succeed in spite of.

Regardless if whether the comments are external or from the internal monologue that, at times, plagues each of us, the internal response should always be the same: watch me.

Some people in their sharing of advice or counsel, honestly believe they mean well. They believe they have your best interest at heart. Cull through their words, determine what serves you. If there are words of truth, keep them. Analyze and see what adjustments, if any, are necessary. All words which do not serve you nor your intended purpose, shelve or dismiss.

When others put limitations on the heights we can attain, there is a moment of defiance each individual feels. In those moments, you believe in the possibility of your dream. So much so, you can taste it and may have even imagined what it feels like to walk in it. Remember these moments and set out to bring your dream or next greatest achievement to fruition making it your reality. Develop a plan, endeavor to accomplish something every day that places you one step closer to your goal. Outline your steps. Your intention will drive your outcome.

By sheer will, perseverance, hard work and determination, with eyes set on an what can be, move forward and walk into your tomorrow. Enjoy every success of each completed phase. When you've accomplished your task, achieved your dream and are able to live in its reality, there is a no need to gloat. Your success will adorn you and will serve as a catalyst for shifts in the lives of others you, directly and indirectly, impact. Make sure to listen to the stirrings of a new dream, a new height and move forward blazing a trail for yourself and others. And if you're ever privileged to hear another's dream, be on the receiving end of a 'Thank you' and not a 'Watch me'.

So what do you wish to accomplish today? Tomorrow? In five years? Ten? Think about it. It isn't selfish to desire a better life; it is disheartening to deny yourself the possibility of experiencing one. In receiving and achieving, you're able to give and inspire.

* Originally posted on BlackHairKitchen.com March 29, 2013 *

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Fifty Shades of WHAT?!

50sojf

I do not recall what serendipitous happenstance or celestial alignment led me to LV Lewis, but all I can say is I'm glad it did. Before I continue, I must issue a bit of a disclaimer:

I'm a member of a small subset of earthlings who fall into the category of not liking the original bodies of work.

That said, back to LV. Just typing those two letters has me smiling and happy dancing in my chair while humming the chorus to Steve Wonder's "Jungle Fever" (I kid you not).

To rephrase a portion of my Amazon review: I'm hooked, I'm a fan, I'm all in! Chick had me at the Kente necktie featured on the cover and kept me with a female protagonist who is no slouch and despite the "ghetto" label in the series, she is anything but. Keisha is an intelligent, gifted sister who ventures into the music industry as co-owner with her college BFF, determined to succeed.

The man blessed to catch her eye and tug at her heart is an intriguing fellow, but not because of wealth or bewitchingly, mind-numbing good looks. Tristan brings to the table confidence that oozes from their initial run-in to her abrupt departure. He appears sure of himself and what he wants. Nothing deters him ... not even Keisha's initial reluctance to his offer. Also endearing are the strokes of vulnerability LV uses to paint Tristan. His is a heart carefully tucked away from himself and Keisha, although it becomes quite evident to the reader.

Both characters, it would seem, appear to hide from the truth of their emotions based on issues in their past. Interesting dynamics also arise in this D/s relationship between a caucasian man and an african-american woman. Just how will that work? I'll tell you this much, LV does not shy away from addressing the basics. Love that.

The chemistry between Keisha and Tristan is sizzling from the opening pages until the end. I shall refrain from going into any further detail. Read for yourself and enjoy.

My recommendation:  Grab a copy today.

By the way, the story doesn't end there. Here's the cover for Exit Strategy, which is due to be released shortly. Can you say fiyah? Click on the sexy cover to visit LV's website and read the first two chapters of Exit Strategy.  

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MR Interview with Jamie Fleming-Dixon of ForColoredGurls.com

Michelle was recently interviewed by Jamie Fleming-Dixon for ForColoredGurls.com to discuss her novels It's Simple and Never Said It Was Easy. ForColored Gurls.com was founded when Jamie noticed that mainstream magazines for teens and young adults did not feature and showcase enough positivity and/or substance in their messages nor did they include a significant representation of women of color. Only recently have these glaring disparities gotten mildly better. Jamie's immediate remedy to this issue was to create For Colored Gurls (a play on words from the 1975 stage play for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf by Ntozake Shange).

Her website is about inspiring and empowering women to live their most fabulous lives now so it is fairly easy to see how Jamie and Michelle would have lots to discuss since they share a common passion to empower women of color regardless of age.

Click on the ForColoredGurls logo below to read Michelle's candid interview with Jamie.

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