Quiet Before the Storm

Whether you are a full-time writer or write only at night when the tides are no longer restless, the moon is at its apex, and your house is finally quiet, sometimes you need to step back from your craft to do it real justice. You may need a moment of calm before the storm—a moment before you dive back into your writing.

Calm Before The Storm GIFs | Tenor

We sometimes look at our work and feel frustrated or disappointed with what we have written. The small can on the floor beside your desk overflows with discarded ideas that won’t see the light of day—or you’ve stopped counting the number of drafts that are saved on your computer. My son is an emerging musician, and he is his harshest critic. This is the lot of most creatives; even when the work we’ve produced is truly extraordinary, we will always find fault with it.

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Creatives cannot help but compare themselves to those who have succeeded. He/she will look at their body of work and wonder, “Do I have it in me?” That Doubting Thomas will be even more present when you’re exhausted and have not given yourself a chance to recharge.

Bruh I'm so annoyed I'm going ghost for a while I'll be back I need to  recharge my battery's | Off Topic

They say, “Life is too short.” So, if you are going to dedicate your time and energy to something, make sure it’s worth it—make sure you love it. Perhaps, this may be true, but you can’t do right by your work if you are burned out from life. Sometimes it’s good to do things that have nothing to do with your writing, but are also stress relievers, e.g., jump double-dutch (if you still can!), watch Pride and Prejudice 😉 (the Keira Knightley version is my favorite!), bake (I love banana chocolate-chip bread), or talk with a friend.

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Have you been fighting against the storm that is your writing? Are you unhappy with what you’ve written and realize that you need a break? I invite you to share your experiences! Thanks for visiting, and come again soon, Creatives!

Ibukun! Blessings!

S-

My First Rejection of the Year

Hello Ebi! Hello Fam! Happy Belated Valentine’s Day! I hope COVID did not stop you from spreading the love to your family and friends.

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Yesterday was equally pleasant and disappointing for me. Just as I was about to get engrossed in another HBO Max series, an email notification popped up on my phone. It was from the agent that requested a partial submission. I was excited and reserved at the same time. It was as if I already knew that the email would not bear good news—and I was right. It was a rejection. But it was one of the nicest rejections I’ve received. The agent still loved my story, but there was one thing in particular that needed work—something that’s not impossible to repair.

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Unless you’ve been in the game for a long time, or perhaps you are a professional editor—you may not always know what to look for or, more importantly, know what’s missing from your novel. While I wait for a response to my other queries, I decided to do another beta reading with an individual who should help me flesh out the things that we as writers sometimes miss.

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For example:

  • Show not tell (this is the one I need to work on in certain areas – be more descriptive about what your character is doing instead of the character telling the reader what they are doing.)
  • Grammar/Proofreading (self-explanatory)
  • Point of View/Voice – 3rd person, 1st person, etc.
  • Character Development – Who is your protagonist, antagonist? What makes them unique/hated or both?
  • Genre – Sci/Fi, Fantasy, Romance, Horror?
  • Setting – Where is your story located?
  • Stakes – What does the protagonist stand to lose?

It seems that Amachi’s Hope still has some things that need to be tweaked. But I also know that not everyone feels the same way, and the agent said as much. In meanwhile, I’m looking forward to hearing the opinion of my newest beta reader! 😊 Have you received any rejections for 2021 yet? Were they filled with helpful advice or did you delete them as quickly as your mouse would allow? I invite you to share!

Ibukun! Blessings!

S-

Writers: What’s your MC’s favorite food?

Hello Ebi! Hello Fam!

As a child, Amachi’s favorite food was spicy amala (Àmàlà). For those of you who are currently scratching your heads, amala is a local Nigerian food native to Amachi’s people who are Yoruba. It’s a dish made out of yam (àmàlà isu), cassava flour (àmàlà láfún) or unripe plantain flour (amala ogede). It can be served with different types of soups such as Efo riro (made from veggies and a combination of meat, fish, etc.)

Image result for amala and efo riro royalty free

Depending on the kind of story you have written, you may find that your characters have developed a taste for certain types of foods. It may be meals based on real ingredients and pulled from cultures and environments that are a part of the human world. Or perhaps, you’ve created not only a fictional milieu but cuisine that’s only native to your protagonist’s society. It’s another kind of worldbuilding that makes your book more layered—giving the reader other opportunities to connect with your characters and their story.

Image result for read honey gif

There’s a scene in my novel where another character (Morenike) talks about his wife’s cooking:

“The scent of the previous night’s ounje lingers in the air. The spicy aroma makes his stomach rumble. No one cooks better than Fayola.” -Amachi’s Hope

If you are familiar with the anime/manga series Naruto, he madly loves Ramen noodles. In his early years, long before he becomes the Seventh Hokage (leader of his clan, The Hidden Leaf), it was one of the first things Naruto wanted whenever he came home from a long mission. Ramen noodles are not a make-believe dish. But it’s a perfect example of how we can link characters with food and vice-versa.

Image result for naruto ramen giphy

Does your MC have a favorite food—is it a snack, meal, delicacy? Are they always found eating that food at some point in your story? Have they learned to perfect the creation of their chosen vittles? 🙂 I would love to hear about it!

Thanks for visiting, and come again soon!

Ibukun! Blessings!

S-

My Experience with DVCon!

Hello Ebi! Hello Fam!

This past weekend I attended DVCon, (a significant extension of #DVPit which is an annual pitching event on Twitter, directed at un-agented, marginalized writers and illustrators). This two-day virtual writers conference (no pitching btw) consisted of numerous writers, agents, editors, etc., who imparted their experiences and wisdom on the literary world as it relates to the marginalized creator. I watched live workshops on YouTube and communicated with folks on Discord. It was the first conference of its kind, and from what I saw, it was more than successful.

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My favorite panel was called: “Write or Wrong.” Five authors on their second or more literary agent answered questions and shared their thoughts regarding why they had to change agents, tips on finding a new agent, etc. I discovered that not everyone finds the right agent the first go around. As you know, I don’t have an agent yet, so looking that far ahead seemed foreign to me. But after listening to the authors share their anecdotes and disappointing encounters they’ve had as marginalized authors, I walked away feeling more confident about the literary process. (At least when it comes to choosing a literary agent.)

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Here’s what I learned:

  1. It’s okay to have more than one agent in your literary career.
  2. Don’t let your desperation for wanting or having an agent, allow you to tolerate bad behavior from an agent.
  3. Follow your gut, especially if the agent is not a good fit. Don’t ignore the red flags.
  4. Example of a Red Flag: Microaggression – indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group. One incident is a mistake; more than one is intentional.
  5. It takes courage to move on. It does not mean that your writing career is over.
  6. Believe in yourself and your work!
  7. Make sure you can trust your agent with the reading and understanding of your contract.
  8. Research possible agents, e.g., Google may share information on fraudulent behavior.
  9. Ask your agent questions when deciding on representation, e.g., How do you see me growing? Is your agency positioned to do certain things for me?
  10. Make sure everything is in writing.
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As you can see, this was an eventful session. I hope DVCon happens again next year, and I have an agent! 🙂 Go to YouTube and search DVCon. I’m sure the videos from the event will be available for future viewing. It’s worth your time!

Ibukun! Blessings!

S-

Writers: What are you reading this week?

Hello Ebi! Hello Fam!

One of my goals for this year is to finally tackle the long list of books I wish to read. Diving into the world of a fellow writer is a great way to keep your mind and imagination active—not to mention the calming effect it has on you as you await responses to queries and submission requests! (UGH…) This week I am reading Nnedi Okorafor’s Akata Witch.

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor: 9780142420911 | PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books

I have not read anything for Ms. Okorafor since the Binti series, so it was a delight to delve into her vivid and colorful imagination once more. This story does not move from Earth to space like Binti but from Earth (Nigeria, to be exact) to Leopard Knocks, a world like our own but not. It’s filled with juju, spirits, creatures, secrets, and other things that I am looking forward to discovering.

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Sunny Nwazue, the main character of the story, is a twelve year-old girl trying to figure out who she is meant to be. A difficult task when you are an albino, an outsider (she spent most of her life in the States before her family returned to Nigeria), and what looks like a seer. Sunny saw a vision of the end of the world in a candle’s flame. It was not something she would soon forget. Unfortunately, Sunny was too close to the flame, and her hair caught on fire—like she needed any more drama in her life.

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Thankfully, Sunny makes friends in this story. Orlu and Chichi will lead her on the path to a life-changing discovery—one that will transform her in more ways than one. Sunny is a Leopard Girl, an individual with mystical abilities. I look forward to finding out what kind of power(s) she will wield. Whatever Sunny faces as the story moves on, it seems like she will not be alone. Between her vision of an apocalyptic future, a river monster, and a leaf person, Ms. Okorafor has once again grabbed my attention. I’ll be finished with this book before the week is out! LOL!

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If you are looking for your next great read, pick up Akata Witch. I’ll be starting the second book in the series Akata Warrior right afterward! What are you reading now? I invite you to comment and share!

Ibukun! Blessings!

S-

What makes a writer “normal”?

Hello Ebi! Hello Fam!

Imagine how painfully dull it would be if everyone’s stories read the same. If every story started with “Once upon a time” and ended with, “and they lived happily ever after.” There was a time when going outside the norm as a writer was frowned upon. People only wanted to read about happy endings where the princess found her prince or the hero survives a life-threatening experience, very Disney-like. The person who wrote such a story would have been considered a normal writer.

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What’s a normal writer—was there such a thing? He or she would have written a story with “sugar, spice, and everything nice.” Where the characters always walked away into the sunset. But as the world changed, so did our stories and how we as humans looked at the world.  We were forced (depending on the genre) to be a bit more realistic. Happy endings are now found in different ways, e.g., the end of a war, the death of an antagonist, a reunion of a torn-apart family, etc. It is what makes stories so exciting and compels the reader to come back and read other stories created by a particular creative.

I Love Happy Endings GIFs | Tenor

Every writer has a different style, voice, and approach when it comes to creating a novel, novella, short story, poem, etc. Less repetition equals less yawn factor—but when someone chooses to write a story that has been written before, we as writers give it our flavor, our own je ne sais quoi, e.g., Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

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As a writer of fantasy, I have never considered myself normal. Nor can I say the same about any of the writers that are out these days. Readers, regardless of age, are much more demanding. They want to be entertained, surprised, perhaps even moved, which can make writing for an audience a nerve-wracking experience. If the literary agent doesn’t feel these things, one will never get their work past the literary bridge’s guard.

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Do you see yourself as a normal writer or one who knows there is nothing “normal” about their writing? Do you perhaps feel like your story needs a “kick in the pants” something to make it more attractive to a reader, an agent? If so, I welcome you to share! 😊

Ibukun! Blessings!

S-

Finally! My First Submission Request!

Hello Ebi! Hello Fam!

If the past two weeks are any indication, 2021 may be another difficult year. But at least my very first day started with a bang—I received my first submission request from a literary agent!  AHH!

2802383-the+rock+finally | As Heather's World Turns

I don’t know what made me do it. I had no intention of sending out a query request on the first day of the year, but there was something about this agent that compelled me to press “send.” I discovered her on my new best friend, the Manuscript Wish List, and searched the terms “diversity and #ownvoices.” When I read her detailed wish list and checked out her agency, I felt that we could be a good fit for one another. It is more important than ever that I connect with an agent that recognizes the continued need for diverse voices in literature, loves fantasy, and will appreciate my character’s journey.

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When I sent out my query and the first three pages of my manuscript, I did not expect to hear anything back for at least 6-8 weeks. (This is considered the average response time.) So, you can imagine my excitement when, within two hours of sending my pages, the agent responded! She was “really into it” and wanted to see the first three chapters!

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I have not heard back from her yet. But I hope she continues to be excited by Amachi’s story and decides that she wants to help me start a new chapter in my writer’s journey! In meanwhile, I sent out my second query on Sunday afternoon. This agent usually responds within 2-3 weeks! I’m claiming a positive outcome for this query as well. I believe that 2021 will be my time! 😊

Have you sent out any query letters this month? If so, I’d love to hear about it! How many have you sent out so far? Have you received any requests? Either way, good luck to you! Perhaps, I’ll have some exciting news to share in the coming weeks!

Ibukun! Blessings!

S-

Writers: What’s the difference between a goal and a resolution?

Hello Ebi! Hello Fam!

Happy New Year, writerly creatives! I quietly tiptoed out of the Year That Should Not Be Named, with the least amount of fanfare possible. I’m grateful for my health and strength (as well as those of my family and friends), and I’m looking forward to a new year with the least amount of negative energy and drama.

Tiptoe GIFs | Tenor

I did not have resolutions for ’21, but I do have goals. But aren’t resolutions and goals the same, you wonder? They are similar, but goals tend to be more serious and may take longer to achieve than a resolution.

Had the Year That Should Not Be Named, been normal, I might have had my usual list of resolutions that I wanted to address for 2021 e.g., Weight Loss, Exercise More, Travel, Get Organized, Finally Attend a Writer’s Conference etc. But the Year That Should Not Be Named forced many of us to re-evaluate our POV regarding friends, family, and personal goals.

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As a writer, my goals for ’21 and beyond are as follows:

  1. Novel Goals – Obtain representation from a Literary Agent for Amachi’s Hope, Begin editing/revising my second novel
  2. Social Media Goals – Work on developing a following (or more of a following) for my blog, Twitter, IG, and FB pages
  3. Career Goals – I would love for writing to become my main career. Many of us cannot dedicate all our time to writing (not if we want to eat! LOL!) Right now this is just a beautiful dream, but ya never know.
Silhouette Design Store: Set Goals And Crush Them | Inspirational quotes,  Work quotes, Positive quotes

Maybe you haven’t started your novel yet, and your goal is to write one this year. Perhaps you’ve been putting of self-publishing your book out of fear of failure. If the Year That Should Not Be Named has shown us anything, it’s life is too short to worry about the “What ifs?” Whatever ‘writerly’ goal(s) you have, now is the time to pursue them. Let’s keep that positive energy moving forward!

Ibukun! Blessings!

S-

Writers: Should you Query in December?

Hello Ebi! Hello Fam!

As you may already know, I began querying Amachi’s Hope again this year. I did not approach it in a gun-ho manner (hitting up a bunch of agencies at one time), but only two that I discovered during pitch competitions on Twitter this Fall. Though they did not turn out as I had hoped, I was pleased to see the exposure brought to marginalized writers such as myself.

watch me while i bloom | Books & Writing Amino

I discovered a few other literary agents that I want to query, but I am hesitant about whether I want to do so in mid-December. Several agents are currently closed to queries—likely due to current workload, end-of-year deadlines, holidays, etc. But not all of them follow this protocol. That’s why reading an agent’s submission requirements are so necessary. The last thing I want is for my work to be buried in a slush pile at the end of the year.

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I did some research, and agents have different thoughts regarding the query process during the year. Does timing matter? Here’s what I discovered:

  • August and December are considered “slower” months, and agents use those times to catch up on submissions
  • Avoid sending queries just before, during, or after a major holiday (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s)
  • Avoid sending queries the week after a major writer’s conference, e.g., SCBWI NYC
  • Avoid querying the week after NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month); agents will likely be receiving a deluge of unedited manuscripts
  • Others say send your query and manuscript when it’s the “best you believe it can be.”

So, I’ve decided to hold off querying until after the new year. It will give me more time to peruse the Manuscript Wish List and discover more literary agents that may be a good fit for me.

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If you decide to continue querying this month, Good Luck! This is my last post of the year, so I hope to hear some great news about your writerly journeys in January!

Happy Holidays and Ibukun to you and yours!

S-

The Writer’s Abracadabra

Hello Ebi! Hello Fam!

Abracadabra, or “Avra Kehdabra,” is a well-known term. One cannot hear it without relating it to some form of magical connotation or being transported to childhood memories of Mary Poppins, Aladdin and The King of Thieves, non-fiction books on how to mystify your friends with tricks or even a dark spell in the Harry Potter series “Avada Kedavra!”

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But avra kehdabra also means, “I will create as I speak” in Aramaic. And there have been many times where I wish I could conjure up a thought and a literary masterpiece would appear before me! It would be edited and polished, and I would already have agents and publishers clamoring to get their hands on it, LOL!

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I guess my melancholy mood comes from the rough week I had and the two rejections I received over the weekend. But they weren’t outright “give up on writing!” rejections. Instead, they were supportive and offered great advice on beta readers and the Writer’s Digest’s Guide to Literary Agents blog. Another even suggested that I query another agent within their company in the new year.

This time, I will take my advice and be optimistic about what the future holds. Two rejections are small fries in comparison to what many others had experienced before they were discovered! I am making this day my Motivational

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Ibukun! Blessings!

S-

Writers: We’ve Made it Through

Hello Ebi! Hello Fam!

This has been one hell of a year. We’ve had more loss than gain, more sadness than happiness, and yet I think it’s fair to say that we’ve all managed (in different capacities) to endure. As we approach this out of the ordinary holiday season—one where most of us are missing those we love—I am ever grateful that my family and I can celebrate, even though we are far apart. Not all of us can say the same.

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But as a writer, I am also grateful for the ability to express my thoughts through words—to build worlds, envision characters, concoct plots, introduce diversity, create love where there is hate, find understanding where there is confusion, and now more than ever when traveling seems quite difficult, we can “…boldly go where no man has gone before!” (Thanks Star Trek) For many of us whose quarantine restrictions are stricter than others, books and other forms of literature are a lifesaver.

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I have a long list of books that I want to get, and it grows daily. I’ve promised myself that I will start checking them off in the new year. Here are a few:

Amazon.com: Daughters Of Nri (The Return of the Earth Mother)  (9781916042933): Reni K Amayo: Books
Reni K. Amayo – Daughters of Nri
Reni K Amayo (@renikamayo) | Twitter
Reni K. Amayo – Descendants of the First
Amazon.com: Rebel Sisters (9781984835062): Onyebuchi, Tochi: Books
Tochi Onyebuchi – Rebel Sisters
Amazon.com: The First Sister (1) (The First Sister trilogy)  (9781982126995): Lewis, Linden A.: Books
Linden A. Lewis – The First Sister
Review | 'Black Leopard, Red Wolf' | The Gazette
Marlon James – Black Leopard,
Red Wolf
The Sorcerer Of The Wildeeps: Wilson, Kai Ashante: 9780765385246:  Amazon.com: Books
Kalashante Wilson – The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps

If you are one of those individuals who relished the rush of Black Friday sales and the thrill of the deluge of shoppers in your local department stores, you are likely frustrated with having to cyber-shop. But perhaps you’ll consider adding books to the list of things you’ll want to get for your family or friends. Now that the cold weather season has arrived, this is the perfect time to climb into your favorite chair or sofa, wrap yourself into your favorite plush blanket, and dive into a new world 😊

I hope you have something ‘writerly’ to be grateful for this year! Wishing you and yours a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday!

Ibukun! Blessings!

S-

Writers: Age Is But a Number

Hello Ebi! Hello Fam!

Last week I was gifted with a fire drill in my office building. My co-workers and I traversed over twenty-one flights of stairs, and I knew that I would suffer for it later.  My knees were Jello afterward, and for days I was in anguish. My legs were incredibly sore, moving was a real chore and my youngest leaned on my leg. This caused me to yelp like my dog did when my son mistakenly stepped on his tail. LOL!

Courage The Cowardly Dog Gives an Angry Thumbs Up
Thanks a lot!

I did not start feeling better until yesterday. Every time we have fire drills in my building, I go through the same thing, and it’s a frustrating reminder that I am not a Spring chicken anymore. But when it comes to writing, age does not apply. It’s rather inconsequential when it comes to publishing. Many writers did not receive recognition until they were in their 30’s and up.

Paperback The Bluest Eye Book
Toni Morrison – The Bluest Eye (1970) –
Age 40
The Last Samurai (novel) - Wikipedia
Helen Dewitt – The Last Samurai (2000) – Age 44
J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (1997) – Age 31
Amazon.com: The Hobbit (9780547928227): J. R. R. Tolkien: Books
J.R.R. Tolkien – The Hobbit (1937) – Age 45
Devil in a Blue Dress (Easy Rawlins Mysteries)
Walter Mosley – Devil in a Blue Dress (1990) – Age 38
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Octavia Butler – Patternmaster (1976)
Ms. Butler was in her late 30’s when this was published.
(1st novel)

So, as you can see, success is never out of your reach. Even Laura Ingalls Wilder found it at the age of sixty-five when she published the Little House on the Prairie children’s book series between 1932 and 1943. I continue to embark on my journey to publishing, and I hope you will do so as well—no matter how young or old you are!

Ibukun! Blessings!

S-

Writers: It’s a New Day!

Hello Ebi! Hello Fam!

Millions of people in our country and I are still riding the wave of euphoria from Saturday’s election results. It was groundbreaking in so many ways—between the record number of votes (in-person and mail-in) and the states that flipped parties, it’s historical. But what’s even more important was the election of not only President-Elect Joe Biden but the selection of our country’s first woman of color Kamala Harris (Indian/Jamaican) in the second-highest position in our government, Vice President.

Kamala Harris Thank You GIF by Election 2020 - Find & Share on GIPHY

For women of color, little girls of color, women, and girls in general, this is a pivotal moment not just in our country but in the world. It shows once again that nothing is beyond your reach if you are willing to work hard for it. The infamous “Glass Ceiling” has been shattered on a whole new level, and now we have President Obama, Michelle Obama, and VP Kamala Harris to look up to! (There are many POC who have left their mark on our society, but I’ll only refer to the Obamas and VP Harris today! LOL!) I cannot imagine how lovely it must have been for VP Harris to share such a monumental occasion with her sister, niece, and other family members.

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Of course, this event resulted in a search for books written by POC who had strong opinions about the state of the government and politics. I’ll just be adding these to the growing list of books I would like to read!

Becoming
by Michelle Obama

The First Lady’s Memoir – Mrs. Obama talks about her origins, discovery of self, and her thoughts and experiences in the WH. I’m late but I look forward to reading this!

A Promised Land
by Barack Obama

This is not President Obama’s first book but it is the most recent. It comes out later this month and it’s Vol. 1 of a 2-part series. According to writer David Remnick of the New Yorker, Obama discusses his views on the “ongoing American debate over health care: the root of the problem, the countervailing interests, the ambition, the setbacks [and of course] the politics.”

Frederick Douglass
Prophet of Freedom
by David W. Blight

Mr. Blight introduces the reader to Mr. Douglass in this Pulitzer Prize winning book. As a slave Mr. Douglass was taught to read by his slave owner’s mistress, and the rest, as they say, is history. He became one of the most prominent figures of his time, speaking not only against the horrors of slavery but on black civil and political rights.

Our Time Is Now
by Stacey Abrams

She was approximately fifty thousand votes from becoming the next governor of Georgia (2018), founded Fair Fight Action, an organization to address voter suppression, and largely responsible for the incredible increase of voters in her state in preparation for this year’s election—contributing to the Biden/Harris win. 

A Political Companion to W. E. B. Du Bois (Political Companions to Great American Authors) by [Nick Bromell, Charles Mills, Lewis R. Gordon, Anthony Reed, James E. III Ford, Melvin L. Rogers, Robert W. Williams, Alexander Livingston, Arash Davari, David Haekwon Kim, Vijay Phulwani]
A Political Companion of W.E.B. DuBois
by Nick Bromwell, et al.

During grad school, I noted that Douglass and Dubois didn’t always see eye-to-eye when it came to the black man’s betterment. However, they were both activists fighting against slavery and for the civil liberties denied to black men and women. DuBois was also a significant contributor to political thought. This book includes essays from new and established scholars.

I hope you find these books galvanizing and thought-provoking. As we embark on a new day in politics, government, health and our world, I look forward to better days ahead!

Ibukun! Blessings!

S-

Writers: Viva la Democracia!

Hello Ebi! Hello Fam!

Viva la Democracia—Long Live Democracy! I came across this term today, and I thought it was so fitting since Election Day is on Tuesday and all that!

This past weekend was extra special. My oldest had two significant milestones: He celebrated his nineteenth birthday, and he was able to VOTE for the first time. Since he was away at college and missed the deadline for absentee voting, we brought him home so he could vote in person. It was so exciting and uplifting to share that experience with him. Strangers were giving him socially distant shout-outs and congratulating him on this big step towards adulthood and, more importantly, allowing his voice to be heard.

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As he marked off his ballet and slid it into the machine to be counted, I could not help thinking of the many men and women (black and white) who died for the right to vote or because they wanted to be a voice for the voiceless.

Vote Voting GIF by Laura Smith Art - Find & Share on GIPHY

Voting, as most of you know, is a privilege, and sometimes we forget why. I came across a few books that I would like to read on the black vote and women’s suffrage. If you haven’t already read them, perhaps you will do so in the future.

African American Women in the Struggle for the Vote, 1850-1920 (Blacks in the Diaspora)
by Rosalyn Terborg-Penn

Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All
by Martha S. Jones

'Suffrage at 100' cover image
Suffrage at 100
Women in American Politics Since 1920 Edited

by Stacie Taranto
and Leandra Zarnow

Finish the Fight – The Brave and Revolutionary Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote
by Veronica Chambers

The Dream Is Lost: Voting Rights and the Politics of Race in Richmond, Virginia (Civil Rights and ...
The Dream is Lost—Voting Rights and the Politics of Race in Richmond, Virginia by Julian Maxwell Hayter
(This is a local author!)

Give Us the Ballot—The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America
by Ari Berman

As we move closer to Tuesday, I hope you have or plan to “Exercise your Rights” as they say and vote in this year’s election. No matter who you are or what you identify as—this is one of the most critical elections of our time. Though I am not what you’d call a “political” person, I felt it only right to use my small corner of the social media platform to incite or maybe sway interest in the importance of voting. Never believe that your vote does not count, because it does! Do your thang!

Vote GIFs | Tenor

Ibukun! Blessings!

S-

Writers: Are you PITCHING today?

Hello Ebi! Hello Fam! Today was the #DVpit event on Twitter, and for the first time in, I don’t know how long, I put my hat in the ring! For those of you who are not familiar, the term “pitch” has nothing to do with baseball. In this instance, pitching is when you want literary agents or editors to know about your book, illustrations etc. You can either pitch in a query letter, in an elevator (if you happen to be next to an agent who’s interested in your genre LOL), a writers conference, or in this case Twitter.

Do you see my hat? no? that's because i threw it in the ring - Dwight -  quickmeme

Pitches come in different sizes. In #DVpit, your novel’s description is meant to tantalize, making the literary agent or editor want to know more. On average, the pitch should not be more than 280 characters (yes, characters, not words). Summarizing your entire novel in such a small way seems impossible, but it can be done.

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Should the agent or editor show interest, they <3 “like” your pitch, and you, in turn, will go to their Twitter page or website and find out their submission requirements. This can be anything from the first five pages of your “completed” manuscript, first 50 pages or the entire thing. Then the prayer, nausea, and constant coffee drinking begin LOL! But seriously, I was nothing but nerves today. I think I edited my pitch, then query letter, numerous times over the weekend.

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A lovely representative from one of the literary agencies was kind enough to give me a quick critique of my pitch, and I walked away feeling much more confident about my choice of words and my chances of being seen. As of 4:42 pm, I did not receive much of a response, but I found three agents I am excited about contacting.

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If you plunged into #DVpit today, I hope your words reeled them in, and you got a bite! Have you ever pitched before? I invite you to share your experience!

Ibukun! Blessings!

S-

Scene: Lovecraft Country

Hello Ebi! Hello Fam!

The Cthulhu (Khlûl′-hloo). I’ve seen t-shirts, memes, masks of all kinds for years regarding this creature. But besides being grossed out by the sight of it, I had no interest in knowing its origins until it was brought to life in the Lovecraft Country series on HBO. Don’t get me wrong. I am still not a fan of horror. However, I do enjoy Sci-Fi/Fantasy and write (as you know) in that genre. Were it not for my husband, drawing me into Matt Ruff’s dark world. I would have missed out on a great series.

Impatient cthulhu loading icon GIF - Find on GIFER

Partly influenced by the work of H.P. Lovecraft, the series is vastly different from his racist views. Ruff and Misha Green (showrunner) explore and confront systematic racism, the Tulsa race massacre, the lynching of Emmett Till, and many other horrors during the Jim Crow era – while including supernatural elements.  

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!

Some of the scenes were difficult to watch:

– Ruby shedding her skin. (I barely peeked through my fingers.) It was hard to compare her gory metamorphosis to that of a butterfly. I would instead refer to it as a transformation of one’s inner self, removal of inhibitions, or a chance for Ruby to tap into freedom without consequence;

Lovecraft Country – Strange Case (S1E5) – BLACK WITH NO CHASER
“I enjoyed the entire day, using the only currency I needed: whiteness.” Ruby-

– Christina allowing herself to be beaten to understand better what happened to Emmett Till. (Even though I’m still unsure if that was her real purpose) and Leti watching as Tic’s ancestor burned alive during the massacre. 

Fire home GIF - Find on GIFER

Last night was the finale, and I hope HBO plans to move forward, starting with Tic’s son George’s life. It looks like Montrose Freeman and Letitia may have done an excellent job raising him since he wrote the story of his family’s origins. I’m seriously considering a royal blue wig or embracing the image of warrior Hippolyta this Halloween.

Lovecraft Country' soundtrack: An episode-by-episode guide - Insider
“I am…”

If you have not watched this yet, please do so it’s worth it. But if you are a scaredy-cat like me, don’t do it alone! LOL!

Ibukun! Blessings!

S-

A Writer’s Transformation

Hello Ebi! Hello Fam!

Fall is now in full swing. We are enjoying brisk walks, visiting pumpkin patches and apple orchards, wearing our favorite cozy sweaters, and dipping that piece of buttered cornbread into a piping hot bowl of chili. We have made it through to the last quarter of the year, and just as seasons change and trees transform (I so enjoy the shades of burnt orange, mustard yellow, and burgundy), we too experience transformation. In this instance, I refer to the writer’s transformation.

beauty family GIF by PAWORKS

With each word we write, regardless of the form we chose to write in, we undergo a metamorphosis. It can be small or large, but we are never the same. As creatives, we chose to share a part of ourselves with the world by writing books, short stories, and even music—and once it’s given, we can never take it back. But why would you want to? Do we not create because we are compelled to do so? Is it not human nature to want to make a connection—to leave a mark?

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When I note the success of writers like N.K. Jemisin, J.K. Rowling, and Stephanie Meyer, I wonder if they started putting pen to paper because of a love for the written word, a wish to become famous one day, or both. Being picked up by a literary agent and eventually a major publishing house is a grand dream indeed. But such a thing will never be gifted to you. As you know, the writer’s journey, like the hero’s journey, is a bumpy road, riddled with moments of joy and disappointment. It is those very things that contribute to a writer’s transformation.

season 2 GIF

A creative on Twitter talked about some of her earlier works and how she cringed after reading them. I laughed because I feel the same way sometimes. “OMG! I actually thought I was ready to be published? UGH!” But I know for sure that my writing has grown in leaps and bounds. I would be more concerned if I did not change at all.

What ‘writerly’ transformation have you experienced? Are you more confident as a writer—less fearful of sharing your work with others? Perhaps, you aren’t quite there yet? Regardless of your level of transformation, I would love to hear about it.

Thanks for reading my thoughts, and please come again soon!

Ibukun! Blessings!

S-

Does Music Insight Creativity or Distract from the Process?

Hello Ebi! Hello Fam!

Yesterday, I signed into my computer and brought up YouTube on my monitor. The songs I listen to started to play, and I ‘vibed’ to them as I edited my manuscript. Some people find music distracting while working, but I find that it gives me energy and gets my imagination moving. When I hear music like:

  • James Blake’s Retrograde; 
  • Robert Frobisher’s The Cloud Atlas Sextet (I discovered it in the movie); 
  • Solange’s Cranes in the Sky; 
  • Katy Perry’s Wide Awake; 
  • Civil Twilight’s Letters from the Sky; or
  • Ed Sheeran’s, I See Fire;

my thoughts travel to places only found within my mind’s eye and evokes emotions that seep into my words and characters.

GIF music - animated GIF on GIFER

For those who believe in writer’s block, music can also be an excellent remedy. It can loosen you up mentally and physically, and help you break through to the new ideas awaiting you on the other side. I am a visual person, and if I close my eyes and listen to certain types of music, I can picture characters and scenes in my head. For example, my novel is influenced by Yoruba culture.  As a Caribbean woman, I enjoy music steeped in the rhythm and beats found in my culture—which is quite similar to African tunes. Music like Kes’s Hello (Folklore Riddim), Yemi Alade’s True Love, Wiz Kid’s Smile or Koffee’s Toast draw me into a world where I can smell curry chicken, taste mango, peel cassava, feel warm breezes upon my skin, or see swaying palm trees on an island.

Palm Trees GIFs | Tenor

I saw a movie called The Photograph a few months ago, and the soundtrack is exceptional. There were times where the music said more than the words spoken by the characters. Especially, when a scene was particularly emotional (love, hate, despair, joy, etc.) I shared what I thought would be great music for my novel’s soundtrack in an earlier blog post. I may visit that topic again once Amachi’s Hope is published!

What are your feelings regarding music and writing? Do you feel as I do, or would you rather silence while creating? I invite you to share your thoughts! Thanks for visiting, and come again soon!

Ibukun! Blessings!

S-

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