Monday, April 29, 2013

It Only Takes One

Well, I got my feet wet over the weekend--I had my first book signing in eight years. It wasn't really a book signing, as much as it was an event with vendors, and I happened to have books that I was going to sign and sell. But you know what? I had a great time. I met some great people, made some great connections, and met a vendor that may change my life as a writer as I know it.

The vendor that sat next to me, to my right, offered all kinds of advice regarding events that I could participate in and sell lots of book. I believe her, so I'm going to look into it. I shared my table with another writer, who seemed to also have a good time. I also spent much more money than I should have (there were some great vendors there).

There was one vendor that made relishes, pestos, and salsas. When I tell you they were good, that is an understatement. There was also another room where they were doing manicures and pedicures, but I could never leave my table long enough to take advantage of any of it. I know there was some aroma therapy going on in there too because I received a coupon for it. Oh, yeah, and I sold some books.

Overall, it was a good experience and a great way to get re-acclimated to striking up conversations with strangers to sell books. But the highlight of the event was the one contact I made that truly has the potential of changing my life as a writer. That's all I'm going to say about it. Great annual event, Duke's Academy's Educator's Empowerment Seminar. Look for it in 2014.

Simply TRB        

Monday, April 22, 2013

Nigerian Sister, Friend, and Writer

Last night I had dinner with a dear friend who I hadn’t seen in about three or four years. The circumstances of our meeting each other are really funny, but I won’t go into it. I will just say, as a result of our conversation(s) I invited her to visit a writers’ group that I am a member of, BWWP (Black Writers With Purpose). She joined and happily attended several meetings. There was no doubt that she enjoyed herself, and that the camaraderie motivated her to write. During National Poetry Writing Month one year, she even participated in a Poetry CafĂ© with me at a local alternative school.

As I was getting to know her I visited her home and even got to know her two sons, the youngest of which is autistic. I admired how driven she was to aid her son in living the best possible life. I appreciated that she nurtured and encouraged her oldest son’s natural talents, and that she insisted he work hard for what he wanted. As a writer, I loved that she dealt with the difficulties in her life by writing. That is what we share in common, and the fact that she is Nigerian and my paternal family’s origin is West African.

The circumstances of our reconnecting are also noteworthy. A couple of weeks ago I decided to send an email about the re-release of my book, Every Time I Close My Eyes, to all of my Yahoo contacts. Low and behold, shortly after doing so I receive a call from my long lost cohort. She decided to use the last known number she had for me after she received the email, and the rest is history. 

I was glad our paths had once again crossed because as a woman, a person, I’ve learned so much from her. I’m moved by her knowledge of all things African (that may just speak to my ignorance of Africa). I could sit and listen to her talk about Nigeria, as well as other African cultures, for hours. We won’t even talk about the food that she has prepared for me the times that I’ve visited her home. I love that after all of these years, I visit her and her oldest son, who is back from France, where he graduated from college, is no longer a mature, responsible, teenage boy, but a very handsome, astute, well-balanced, college educated young man. I was marveled by the fact that her youngest son is speaking, that he plays the drums, is a whiz on the computer and all things technical. I respect that she raised him as a “normal” child, but along the journey learned all that she could about autism so that she could make sure her son would have a “normal” life. That was not all that had changed. She is now a married woman. I thought that would change the dynamics of our visit, but it didn’t, he’s a great guy.

After cocktails, and then dinner, we settled down in her family room and we talked. We talked about writing and all the things that happened in our respective lives that led us to become writers, and the things that continue to facilitate that desire. I’m excited that I’m going to be a part of her publishing experience (she will be published this year). I know, with all that has transpired in her life the last few years, seeing her words published will add a new dimension to her life. I’m hoping it will fulfill her lifelong dream of being a published author and fuel a desire to write more. I’m still excited for myself, but even more so for her because I know well the feeling of accomplishment and pride after birthing a book that is quality through and through. All I can say now is I hope she’s excited, too.

Simply TRB   

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Maxwell = Muse

I actually finished Every Time I Close My Eyes in 1998 after coming home from my first Maxwell concert. I can't tell you which song I heard first, but I immediately began trying to figure out who this brother was because I was so moved by his music. I was living in Germantown, MD, and struggling with coming up with an ending to the story. I was tapped out. I heard Maxwell was going to be in concert in Washington, D.C., so I quickly bought two tickets and invited a friend/former co-worker to go with me.

Let me tell you, I fell completely in love with the man and knew that I had found my muse. I went home after the concert, and for the next 4-5 hours I wrote three poems, two songs, and I finished the story.The concert made me realize I had purchased Maxwell's second CD, the next morning, after only a few hours of sleep, I went in search for his first CD and anything else "Maxwell." I have been a die-hard fan since that time. 

Tuesday and Wednesday of this week I listened to Maxwell on Youtube (ain't Youtube great). It brought back all of the old feelings I had for him. Those who know me well know those feelings hadn't gone too far away. By Wednesday evening I felt "some kind of way" and really needed to write. I was back in that zone--filled with emotion and wanting to write "with" my heart (forget writing from my heart). I'm still there. I thank Maxwell for that. 

I could say some other stuff, but it would make me sound, uh...very "stalkerish." If you didn't already know. There is a very fine line between adoration and stalking. As a matter of fact, I don't want to scare Maxwell, so I won't say I adore him. I actually admire and respect his work, and in a very quiet place in my heart I look forward to composing some music along with or for him (you to to put it out there, right).

In the mean time, I'll continue to appreciate my muse, Maxwell, for what he does for and to me and I look forward to working on Daddy's Big Girl a little more tomorrow. 

Simply TRB  

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Had a really stressful day today. It's 10:52 p.m. and I'm getting ready to stuff some Tilapia with spinach and Parmesan. I'm also going to have a glass of wine. I wish I had enough energy to write. I don't so I thought I'd blog instead. One part of my day was really great today, though. Someone at work received their copy of my book today and asked me if I would sign it. #feltreallygood She told me she loved the cover! #feltevenbetter She mentioned to two other people in the room that she was holding my book. By the end of the day I had received an email from one of the other people telling me she had just ordered my book, too. Before I left work for the day I had received an email from another co-worker telling me she had purchased an eBook version of my book. #ahamoment I also met a fellow author, Michael D. Harper. The title of his book is Junior (Volume 1). Can't wait to read it.

So, really, now that I think about it, I had a really good day. I was so focused on the few things that aggravated me during the day that I overlooked those sprinkles of goodness. I'm a little ashamed of that because I gave in to the negative. Didn't even attempt to fight it off.

Well, I haven't written since Sunday, so I need to get back on it. I think I got a little comfortable after I fixed an outline that I had somehow lost control of. It's my next story for publication. The outline was written a few years ago, right before I decided to write another story without the benefit of an outline. How's that one working for me? I might not have an outline, but I have a bunch of research. #loveresearchforastory

Another reason I haven't written in the last few days--reading up on and working on marketing and promotion. I'm mentally exhausted. I think I'm actually overwhelmed. By Friday I'll be back to normal and back on the grind. In the last week or so, I've learned the writing part is easy, the marketing and promotion part not so much. Any help would be appreciated.

(Disclaimer: Not going to proofread what I just wrote in this blog. I'd rather have a glass of wine and something to eat--even though it's 11:13 p.m.)

Simply TRB

Monday, April 1, 2013

Our Language (On the Road Back to GA from FL, 03/29/13)

I don’t know about other writers, but to me it seems like being a writer is like speaking a foreign language. I was always told, you know you can speak a foreign language when you begin thinking or dreaming in that language. As a writer, I find that no matter how personal a situation is I’m always thinking about how it might make a good story or a good scene in a story. Of course, I alter things a little, 'to protect the innocent,' but the nucleus of the story or the scene comes from something personal, emotional, or something that I've seen or overheard. I find that absolutely fascinating because I do it all of the time. I’m always thinking about writing. I find that fascinating, not just about myself but about other authors, as well. When I'm speaking with an author and he/she asks me to repeat something that I've said that's really funny or poignant, I know it’s because he/she wants to use it. Sometimes I’ll jokingly say, “Don’t use that because I might want to use it in a story.” So, I know other authors are always in tune to what’s going on and what’s being said around them, too. We're always thinking about writing, thinking in 'our language.'

Do you find that you do the same thing? I'm convinced a lot of  writers base tidbits of information in their stories on someone in their life; someone they met; or someone who merely crossed their path. I was recently listening to NPR and I heard an author say she based a character on either her mother or grandmother, but because of her beliefs she wouldn't allow the character in the story to die because the character was based on her loved one. She didn't want to feel like she was influencing the life (or death) of her loved one. I get that.

Another thing that I do that I think is interesting is, sometimes I’m more motivated by sadness to write than I am by happiness. What is that about? My take on this is, perhaps because it’s so cathartic to write that this is my way of releasing that sadness. Sometimes I write about what has made me sad (or how I feel) or sometimes I’m just motivated to write, and the final product could be about something that doesn't have anything to do with what has made me sad or how sad I feel. I don’t know that I’m equally as motivated to write when I'm happy. Perhaps that’s because I want to hold on to the happiness, and just keep it to myself. I don’t know. Of course, my writing isn't always motivated by sadness. Sometimes I’m just excited about writing--getting back to a story to see what's going to happen. This is more often the case. Sometimes a great scene pops into my head and I just want to see where it goes. Often, I’m curious to see what direction the characters are going to take the story. It’s like I’m reading the story for the first time (if you know what I mean).  

My best thoughts come to me in the car, though, driving back and forth from Georgia to Florida. Some years ago I bought a digital recorder. Now I just use the recording app on my smartphone. When I begin to think in 'our language' I just talk away my time on the road.  

Simpy TRB