Frustrated in 2022

Today is Martin Luther King’s birthday, and just as he had a dream, I too have a dream to see Amachi’s Hope on the shelf of my local bookstore! Most of our goals are attainable if we are willing to work hard for them. But from time to time, we grow frustrated with how slow things take to happen.

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So how do we deal with the frustration?

  1. Surround yourself with positive people who have similar goals or others who only want to see you succeed.
  2. Stay active, even if it’s not something related to your writing.
  3. It’s okay to take a break; mental health is essential.
  4. Try not to compare yourself to others. Everyone’s path to success is different.
  5. Don’t want to take a break? Find other ways to keep your creative juices flowing.
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Like most of us, we create a list of resolutions each year. Many of us are full speed ahead initially but lose momentum. Try to remember all the blood, sweat, and tears you’ve dedicated to your project thus far. The last thing you want to do is give up on the end game. For me, the goal is traditional publishing.

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Yup!

What are your ‘writerly’ goals for this year? Have you already reached your goal for 2022? If not, continue being resolute in your plans for the year, and don’t give up!

Ibukun! Blessings!

S-

Just Do It Already!

Hello Ebi! Hello Fam!

I know that Monday was to be my last post of the year, but I had to share this! No I haven’t received “THE CALL” yet. But one thing that can cheer a writer up while waiting for a “Yay or Nay”, is seeing their words published in a local online magazine! Thanks to the Life in 10 Minutes Project, that became a reality!

So Exciting! 🙂

https://www.lifein10minutes.com/your-10/2021/11/23/just-do-it-already

Ibukun! Blessings!

S-

I’m Still Open at the Close!

Hello Ebi! Hello Fam!

It’s December already, and we are weeks from Christmas and a New Year! It’s hard to find the right words to describe these past two years—with all the downs and ups. But each year, I start with the same wishes: Health and Strength for me and mine and to FINALLY be blessed with a literary agent. 😊

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Since this is my final post for 2021, I am still open at the close. (Thanks, Prof. Dumbledore!) I continue to be open to the possibilities as we approach the end of the year! I received a request for my full manuscript a few weeks ago. I hope it’s an indication of greater things to come. So, while the Jeopardy theme song plays, I’ll continue to query like most of us do.

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In the meanwhile, I reminded myself of a few things:

  • It’s essential to surround yourself with positive people who understand the struggle of trying to getting published.
  • Beta readers are those second and third pair of eyes you did not know you needed.
  • Screw up your courage and participate in a pitching event like DVPit. The agent of your dreams may be waiting for you. And if you don’t get ‘likes’ at those events, that’s okay too.
  • Don’t get down on yourself when you see others sharing their “I got representation!” posts. Your time will come.
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So, my peeps, I wish you all the writerly blessings you can carry. I hope this year was an eventful one, and all or some of your goals were realized. If you learned something new each time you read my blog, then I feel accomplished! And if this year has not been as fruitful as you hoped, I’m sure 2022 will be brighter!

Happy Holidays to you and yours!

See ya in the New Year!

Ibukun! Blessings!

S-

A Writer’s Sigh of Relief… For Now

Hello Ebi! Hello Fam!


Happy Monday!  I cannot believe it’s November already! The madness that was DVPit has passed and I got one “Like” from an agent, which I am more than happy with! I cannot imagine the insane amount of people who pitched their books and illustrations on October 25 and 26. So, I know that not everyone gets their pitch seen. But I hope that most of my writerly folks, received a bite.

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I nervously sent along my query letter and the first ten pages of my manuscript. And right afterwards, I received a request for my full manuscript in response to a query I sent just before DVPit. 

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So whether it was the remaining fire energy or warrior’s spirit left over from the Hunter’s Moon, or just all my hard work paying off (I’m good with both!), I am a happy camper!

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I submitted three different pitches on the 25th but it was the first one that caught the agent’s attention. Thanks to a great pitching vid I saw on YouTube, it really helped me to tighten up my pitch. I ‘quote tweeted’ the pitches I really liked. And I must say there were some really great ones out there. 


Now that we are in November, I’m sure a number of agents are closed or about to be closed to queries for the rest of the year. They are likely plowing through our letters and manuscripts searching for the next Rowling, King, Steele or Okorafor LOL! 


If you are still pitching, I wish you the best. If not, keep querying as I definitely plan to. You never know when the “Odds will be in your Favor!” 🙂

Have a positive and creative week and come again soon!


Ibukun! Blessings!
S-

Pitching and Stress: Two sides, same coin

Hello Ebi! Hello Fam!

There are different forms of stress. There’s your everyday stress (work, family, etc.), and then there’s your ‘writerly’ stress. You know, it’s the anxiety we intentionally put ourselves through by asking someone to take a chance on our work. AHH! This week’s writerly stress will be brought to you by (drum roll please) pitching! LOL!

As most of you talented, un-agented, marginalized, writerly folk know, Monday, October 25th and 26th is #DVpit a/k/a DiverseVoices, Inc.’s pitching event where we’ll once again (illustrators too) get the opportunity to squeeze out a pitch for our books in no more than 280 characters.

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This is my second year doing this, and like many participants, we hope beyond hope that we’ll get a like from an agent or editor! 

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Until then, the closer we get to the day of reckoning (I know I’m dramatic), the tenser we feel. “Is this pitch good enough? Do I have too many unnecessary words? Can I get away with abbreviating that?” Earlier this week, I compared preparing for this to getting ready for a job interview. And in a way, it is, but here you have to wow the reader enough to make them want to see more. It’s like a minute version of a query letter.

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YES! PLEASE! 🙂

But when you get that coveted like <3 (prayin’ for myself and all my writerly folks!), it will be worth it, especially if it leads to representation. 

So, to all of you feeling that tension before the storm know that this kind of stress is only temporary. You’ve done your best, and you are ready. I hope to have some good news to share next week!

Good luck, writerly fam!

Ibukun! Blessings!

S-

Switching Genres: Yay or Nay?

Hello Ebi! Hello Fam!

Last week, I found myself dealing with a writerly conundrum. It continues to be quite frustrating as it affects my chosen genre and whether I should change it.

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For many years, Amachi’s Hope has been written and promoted for the Young Adult audience. My MC goes from childhood to twenty, where she stops aging. Most of her descendants face life-changing situations as young adults and only one as a full-grown adult.

Decades ago, the age range for young adults was quite broad, as it fell between 14 – 21. But as the years progressed and the perceptions and experiences of everyday life changed, the YA range was adjusted to 12 – 18. This causes me to think of the Harry Potter series. Harry was 11 in the first book and 17 by the last book. Yet, an insane number of adults have read and are very much enamored by the Wizarding World. Why? Because it’s more than just the story of a budding young wizard. (Go, Gryffindor, LOL!)

Gryffindor Kitty | Cute animals, Cute baby animals, Cute cats

Then in 2009, (thanks to a call for fiction similar to (YA) that could be published and marketed as an adult), a new genre called New Adult came forward. It covers the age bracket of 18 – 30, and the storylines, of course, are more mature, e.g., developing sexuality, leaving home, etc. The Magicians series turned fantasy television drama on SYFY is one of my favorite examples. (Forevah Quentin!)

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So Fillory! LOL!

Though there is implied marital unrest in my novel, and Amachi is twenty when she stops aging, I don’t believe her story or those of her descendants fall entirely under the New Adult umbrella. Now a literary agent may disagree, and I, of course, would welcome that conversation. LOL! But for the time being, I plan to continue on the path before me.

Some writers change genres after they’re published and developed a following. But what happens if you are not published yet? Have you struggled with switching genres when your book has already been written and promoted? If so, I invite you to share your story.

Thanks for visiting, and come again soon!

Ibukun! Blessings!

S-

** After some thought, I decided to change my MC’s age to 18. I think it’s better considering some of her YA issues, e.g. unrequited love. 🙂

“Writing a book is so easy!”

Happy Fall Y’all!

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Now that we are in a new season, I cannot help but think of all the time we’ve put into developing our craft. So, when I hear or read someone saying that “Writing a book is easy,” I roll my eyes. They have yet to experience the hours, days, months, and even years it takes to create and perfect a book. Goodness knows I have more than paid my dues!

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It all starts with an idea–something that hasn’t been read before or perhaps revamping or giving new life to something old.

Then you think about your chosen genre:

-Sci-Fi

-Fantasy

-Romance

-Horror etc.

Decide on your target audience:

-Children

-Teens

-YA

-Adults

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The type of book:

-Picture book

-Chapter book

-Novel

-Graphic, comic

-Novella

Length:

It can be anything from 10 pages to the size of the next Chronicles of Narnia!

If you are a pantser, you are creating freely without any set plan in place, a/k/a flying by the seat of your pants! LOL! But if you are a plotter, you plan the chapters or scenes of your book before putting it all on paper. I followed this process in my writing group, but I always went rogue and steered back to being a combination of plotter + pantser = plantser.

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After all that toiling, you finally have a finished product, or so you think. Now you face editors, proofreading, beta readers, and other forms of ‘writerly’ stress! Will I self-publish or go the traditional route? How will I market my book to the public? Social media, book readings? The whole process, just the magnitude of it, can be scary. But the results will be worth it in the end regardless of the direction you choose.

So, to the naysayers out there, I ask that you respect the craft and the process. If you have a story simmering in your mind, think about writing a book yourself. Trust me when I say your POV will change for the better.

Thanks for coming through, and I invite you to visit again!

Ibukun! Blessings!

S-

Happy ‘Procrasti-Labor’ Day!

Hello Ebi! Hello Fam!

Not only is today Labor Day (Thanks to all our hard-working folks out there!), but surprisingly enough, it’s also Fight Procrastination Day! LOL! Whose idea was it to create a holiday against procrastination on the same day when we’re not supposed to do any work? I am beyond amused! Since it is Labor Day, I won’t write much. However, I could not help creating a name for this special day, Procrasti-Labor Day! Silly, I know!

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Are you one of those people who have looked at the calendar and was like, “Oh! It’s Labor Day. I guess I’ll start writing again tomorrow.” or do you see it as what you hope will be a productive ‘writerly’ day? Will you add another chapter to your book, a stanza to your poem, a scene to your screenplay? Will you revise your query letter, continue editing your manuscript (for the billionth time) or decide that turning off your computer for the day may be a smart move?

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Regardless, we all know that procrastination is a dangerous thing, and if you let it drag on long enough, your ‘writerly’ flame may be snuffed out.

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So, if you’ve decided to take a break today, think about what you want to do tomorrow. Yesterday, a member of the writing community on Twitter mentioned that she was saddened that so many people were giving up on writing. They were tired of the rejections and disappointments through the years and opted to move on. ☹

If you are using this day off to consider your next move, I hope you keep pulling yourself up that steep hill—keep pressing on. I tell myself that every day, plus I have the support of family and friends! (They hold me accountable!) I won’t ask you to share your thoughts today (since it is Labor Day and all), but I hope you enjoy your Procrasti-Labor Day until next time!

Ibukun! Blessings!

S-

Writers: How do you deal with rejection?

You send a query.

You wait a few days or sometimes weeks.

An email pops up.

Your heart speeds up with excitement.

You take a breath, release it and click on the mouse.

Then your heart plummets.

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Hello Ebi! Hello Fam!

In life, we face rejection in all its forms: ” Sorry you didn’t get the job.” “Let’s break up!” “We are sorry to inform you that…” And then there’s the infamous, “I couldn’t connect with your story.” or “I wasn’t drawn in.” or “I decided to pass.” Grrr! Sometimes you want to stand on the roof of a building and yell out, “What do you want!”

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But you already know that gets us nowhere. This querying process is a pain in the ass and frustrating. But thankfully, I’ve been lucky enough to receive ‘gentle’ rejections. You know the ones that try to weaken the blow? “We know how hard you worked” or “We know this process is highly subjective…” etc.

It doesn’t make me feel better, but at least the agent was considerate. I know. I need to get over myself. It hasn’t been that long since I started querying. But sharing helps me to pause and start again.

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In what way, you ask?

Well, this weekend, I continued researching agents and remembered what was told to me more than once… “Your project may very well be perfect for someone else.” I’m holding on to that!

Are you querying? How is your process going so far? Have you been rejected, or did someone bless you with a request for a partial or complete manuscript? I’d love to hear about it!

Thanks for coming through, and visit again soon!

Ibukun! Blessings!

S-

“The moon is round.” Now what?

Hello Ebi! Hello Fam!

I came across a quote that said,

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“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” – Anton Chekhov

Details are essential in just about everything we do. They can make a difference between passing or failing a final exam, having an unforgettable wedding, or creating the perfect hairstyle! But in this instance, details can also make or break your story.

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Like many aspects of writing, it takes time to develop the ability to flesh out your details—to help your reader experience every tiny part of your characters’ journey. When I think I’ve added just enough info, a beta reader or editor says, “This is great, but I feel like I need to know more… see more in this scene.” ARGH!!

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What’s the difference between detail and backstory (history)? Sometimes it’s easy to mesh the two because you want the reader to know your characters, the environment, etc. But when you offer too much info, you can bombard the reader and perhaps lose a fan in the process. ☹

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I read in an article that just because the writer knows all their characters’ tidbits doesn’t mean that the reader needs to. So, details or backstory should only be shared when necessary, like medicine, only given in specific doses. I learned that the hard way! 

Are you a detail junky? Do you divulge too much information in your stories, just enough to keep your reader wanting more or somewhere in between? I invite you to share your experiences! Until next time!

Ibukun! Blessings!

S-

A Writer’s Boundaries

Hello Ebi! Hello Fam!

Ya know. There are so many boundaries out there and each have been or are made to protect a person, place or thing from what may be perceived as a threat.

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But what about the boundaries that new writers put up when we courageously step out into the sometimes harsh world of publishing?

I’ve learned through the years that a thick skin and open-mindedness helps when you choose to navigate literary waters. And though you may want to shield yourself behind your writerly boundaries, (maybe questioning if you’re meant to be published) doing so will never get you before an agent or the public eye.

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So today, as I continue to query and pray that an agent will love Amachi as much as I do. 🙏🏽 I ask that you not let your boundaries become permanent. Chip away at them and allow the light of opportunity to seep through!

I came across this quote and I believe it to be true… “Talent knows no boundaries. It overcomes all barriers that hinder the way to success.”

Ibukun! Blessings!

S-

Writers: Create what you want to read!

Hello Ebi! Hello Fam!

“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.” – Albus Dumbledore  (J. K. Rowling)

“You’ve got to make your worlds. You’ve got to write yourself in.” (Octavia E. Butler)

Last week I came across the above quotes. After reading them, I glanced to my left and scanned my shelf filled with books from different genres: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Romance, Horror, Historical Fiction, etc. As I browsed through the titles, I wondered, did some of these writers get up one day and decide, “It’s time to create the kind of story that I want to read?”

Perhaps that is what happened with Rowling and Butler. But even now, with so many different types of books and genres out there, you still may not find a story that truly grabs you. Maybe you want to dive into the adventures of a family of civets 😊 or a story about the ruling class during the time of King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. Regardless (I’ve said this before, and I’ll repeat it), if you want to read it, why not create it?

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If there’s a world that you want to visit that exists only in your imagination, craft it. If there are cultures or people you want to see in a novel, put pen to paper or lay your hands on those keys and start typing away. You may even develop a new genre. We can’t always wait for others to mix the ingredients for the perfect piece of literature. Your favorite literary “cake” can only be made if you bake it!

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Even though my genre has become more popular through the years, I won’t let it deter me from telling my story my way or sharing my characters. I’ve come across many literary agents that say, “Sometimes I don’t know what I’m missing until I see it!”

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If you are fed up with not seeing the kind of book you want to read, do something about it. Are you in the process of writing a new book—one that’s never been seen before? I invite you to share your experience thus far and visit again soon!

Ibukun! Blessings!

S-

When something old becomes something new!

Hello Ebi! Hello Fam!

After too many years to count, the fam and I are on vacation! We plan to hit up Universal and visit folks we haven’t seen in a long time. Those “folks” included my aunt (it has been over 20 years!) and it was lovely! That reunion reminded me how something old (in our case it’s our relationship) can become something new. Reconnecting with her showed me how an old story can be transformed into a new one.

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How many times have you stumbled across a short story, poem etc., that you wrote? It was written so long ago that you completely forgot about it. Your prose either brought a smile to your face or you cringed because you were a less seasoned writer back then. LOL!

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Seasoned!!

Those old works can bloom, placing you on a new journey. You now look at them with fresh eyes and realize that “It wasn’t that bad after all!” Then all of a sudden it’s… EUREKA! This is just what I was looking for!

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Have you come across previous writings that evolved into your best work yet? If so, I invite you to share. Remember, you became a writer for a reason. Looking back at your old work can be just the thing to reignite your ‘writerly’ flame!

Ibukun!  Blessings!

S-

Writers: What are your favorite literary gifts?

Hello Ebi! Hello Fam!

There are so many sites that offer fantastic gifts for your love of everything literary. But one of the best places to find awesome literary gifts is a massive comic-book convention! In 2018, the fam and I were at the infamous NYC Comic-Con. Everywhere you turned, vendors were exhibiting their wares—art, jackets, backpacks, t-shirts, fudge, you name it!  So today, I’m sharing some of my favorite “bookish” gifts!

If you didn’t already know, I am house Gryffindor all the way!  

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While I was at the Con, I came across an excellent vendor who sold specialty teas. Each tea was related to a particular literary universe or fandom. The tea I purchased is called Brew of the Brave, which was for house Gryffindor. It tasted great, but the caffeine kicked my butt!  Check out this site if you are interested in fandom teas! Tea and Absinthe. https://www.teaandabsinthe.com/tea/brew-of-the-brave-tea

Aside from my two favorite Gryffindor sweaters (I dressed up as a student of Hogwarts, btw), I have a beautiful wand that was given to me by my hubby. I hope it has Dragonheart string within it, just in case I need to use it!

There’s this great store called Box Lunch in my area. They had a wonderful Gryffindor tea set. It’s out of stock now, but I’m sure it will reappear during the holidays! Visit: www.boxlunch.com

Harry Potter Gryffindor Dinnerware Set - BoxLunch Exclusive

This is the perfect cup for the introverted reader! Check out: https/www.lennymud.com Maybe this cup will give me the courage to try my brew again!

Here are some other literary gift websites to check out!

https://www.theliterarygiftcompany.com/

https://booklovergifts.com/

https://www.uncommongoods.com/fun/by-interest/reading-gifts

I hope this post was useful and maybe a little entertaining 🙂 Thanks for visiting and come again soon!

Ibukun! Blessings!

S-

Memories of writers past

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As we recognize the true purpose of today’s holiday, we cannot help but remember all those who have sacrificed their lives in the name of freedom. But today, I have also thought of writers who have passed but left their mark for generations to come. Today, I’ll share the names of some of my favorite authors who are no longer with us. Perhaps, you may already know of ‘em. If not, use this time to embark on a discovery of a new writer or genre!

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Octavia E. Butler

Ms. Butler, an African-American science fiction writer and multiple recipient of both the Nebula and Hugo awards, passed away in 2006. After reading her book Wild Seed in my twenties, I knew I would endeavor to become a traditionally published author in fantasy one day! Thanks for leaving your mark on me and many other writers of color Ms. Butler.

E. Lynn Harris

I remember reading his books in my twenties as well. Mr. Harris invited readers to discover the trials and tribulations of a gay, man of color who was not ready to come out to the world. He wrote ten consecutive books—all of whom made the NYT bestsellers list. Mr. Harris was one of the best African-American, gay writers of his time. He passed away in 2009.

C.S. Lewis

After being transported to Narnia in the movie (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) and meeting the majestic Aslan, Thomas the Fawn, and the siblings for the first time, I was compelled to read the entire Chronicles of Narnia series. This book is one of my favorite fantasies, and it’s a perfect example of world-building and the development of layered characters and storylines. Mr. Lewis passed in 1963.

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Judy Blume

Goodness, I was in the fourth grade when I read The Tales of the Fourth Grade Nothing for the first time. After that, I was pretty obsessed with Judy Blume. She was an important part of my growth as a young reader. A few of my favorite books were Superfudge, Deenie, Forever, and Wifey (which my 8th-grade friends and I read in secret, LOL!). Ms. Blume is alive and kicking at 83 years young, but I’ll never forget her books from my youth.

Do you have a favorite book from a writer that’s no longer with us or whose book was written long ago? How did he/she affect you as a reader, a writer, or both? I invite you to share!

Thanks for visiting, and come again soon!

Ibukun! Blessings!

S-

Images that inspire me as a writer

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Even when we’re passionate about writing, there are times when we need an extra push—something or someone to keep us going. Having images that inspire is a great way to stay positive and keep your goals in sight. Here are some of the images I refer to:

This my book cover. Whenever I see this image, I am reminded of how I felt when I completed my manuscript. Though I am not traditionally published yet, I have every reason to believe that I will be one day! 🙂

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Ah yes. B&N. The book lovers and authors dream. I have pleasant memories of perusing their shelves and running my hands over the cover of a brand new book. I still love going to this store, but it will be even better when I see my book on one of their shelves! I’d even be happy with my local book store!

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Like a flower, writers must keep growing—and this GIRL will continue to do so! I’ll continue drinking from that well of knowledge. Like the UNCF always says, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste!”

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Similar to butterflies, we writers also experience change or metamorphosis. We start as a novice to one day becoming an expert. (At least that is my wish!)

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Obviously, this is not my family picture. But when I look at pictures of my immediate family—especially my three boys, I have more incentive than ever to get published!

What images incite optimism in you? Whether you’re dealing with writer’s block, stewing over a negative review or you’re questioning whether your editor’s suggestion will make or break your story—just take a minute, close your eyes and let all your positive images comfort you.

Ibukun! Blessings!

S-

Getting Rid of Characters

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I remember a scene from the movie Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. A villain named Peter Pettigrew killed student Cedric Diggory in front of Harry. Cedric’s spirit asked that Harry not leave his body behind with Voldemort and Pettigrew. When Harry grabbed the portkey (goblet) and returned to where the crowd awaited them during the last part of the Triwizard Tournament, Cedric’s father wailed when he discovered that his son was dead. ☹ Killing off or removing a character is not always easy, but it is essential if you want your novel to march on.

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As a child, we were taught that all stories are written with a beginning, middle, and end (like a stop light but backwards!)—or if you want to be more technical, the Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution/Denouement. (If you want a quick break down of the “5 Elements of Plot,” check out this link: https://www.authorlearningcenter.com/writing/fiction/w/plot-planning/7309/5-elements-of-plot-and-how-to-use-them-to-build-your-novel

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It is towards the end or at the Climax that we decide to eliminate a character. It can be a person, place, or even a thing that’s beloved, hated, or some cases, both. But whatever you decide, making this significant change in your story can either be a gleeful experience (“Finally! He needed to go!”) or painful like this tiny excerpt from my book Amachi’s Hope. Though it hurt to do so, I had to sacrifice Morenike to allow the story (and his children) to move forward. ☹

Shuddering as if palsied, the deadly haze rushed into Morenike’s body and destroyed every positive thought and feeling on contact. Bleeding, Morenike fell, closed his eyes, and slipped from the living world. No goodbyes, no final words. He died believing that his greatest fear might come true: the death of a loved one by the hand of evil.

It sucks to remove a favorite character. But there has to be something to break the monotony. During my earlier versions of Amachi’s Hope, I realized that I always gravitated towards happy endings. I had very little loss in my story. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with that, but you will lose the reader’s interest. Plus, in a YA/Fantasy novel, it’s not realistic. There has to be an anchor that holds the reader or bait that reels them in. “He’s dead?! My goodness! What will happen next? Will his children survive?” As a reader, I know I’d want to know more.

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Amachi’s Hope is a novel that shares the experiences of her kin, and none of their journeys move forward without a major incident occurring in their lives. It is a form of growth or, in some cases, transformation. As we know, a metamorphosis of any kind does not happen without some sacrifice. Did you kill off a character in your book or short story? Was he/she loved or hated? I invite you to share!

Come again soon!

Ibukun! Blessings!

S-

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