Poets: Here’s Your Chance to Be on T.V.!!!

Are you a poet and/or spoken word performer? If so, I want to share with you an opportunity to showcase your phenomenal talent on national television! First, I should say that I am in no way affiliated with or endorsed by Lexus Verses and Flow. I follow them on Twitter, and discovered that Verses and Flow are now holding auditions for next season’s shows.  I’m thinking about trying out, and since I know a lot of my followers are poets, I want to give you that opportunity as well.

If you are not familiar with the show, it is known for showcasing dynamic spoken word poets and musicians on a national level. You can check out some of their featured poets here.

In order to apply you need to submit a video link of you performing along with a written version of one poem.  If it seems like something you might be interested in click here for the submission application and guidelines. Please make sure to read the rules and regulations carefully, so that you won’t be disqualified. Best of luck!

Feeling a Little Like Macklemore

So the other day I was scrolling through my newsfeed on Facebook (the absolute definitive source for foot-in-mouth syndrome) and I came across an author avidly defending a tweet in which she compared self-published literature to the slush piles of major publishing houses. This author spewed out about 24 paragraphs on Facebook to explain away a mere 140 characters on Twitter. I’m not here to cast stones, so I won’t reveal her name or go into all the ways I both agree and disagree with her. I will say that I was a little offended. She let the air out of my tires, so to speak. She also got me thinking.

You see, I like to indulge in the fantasy of comparing my own budding self publishing efforts to that  of unsigned musicians. Don’t judge me. I like the idea of emerging as an underground artist having struggled to get my ‘demo’ into the hands of discriminating fans, most of whom obtained it at bass pulsating smoke filled clubs. Independent artists have ‘street cred’. They come up the hard way and they have a fan base that makes the industry labels take notice. Indie artists have more control over their work and the respect of their peers since they’re able to focus more on authenticity and less on commercialization. All that being said, the overall goal is to get signed. Because when you get signed, you have a money machine behind you that’s able to reach far more people than any unsigned artist ever could in clubs across the nation. The difference is that the independent artist doesn’t wait for the labels to give them permission to make music. They make the music, and put it out there to succeed or fail.  Then, if they’re lucky, the labels come to them.

I’m not a musician. Please don’t get that confused. I was just momentarily caught up in an analogy that went on a little longer than I anticipated. But, I’m a writer who’s new to the game. I believe I have something to say that other people need to hear. I believe that what I have to say is relevant whether a major publishing house agrees or not. Self-publishing is changing the publishing industry in ways that have authors, editors, agents and publishers up in arms. Writers now have the privilege of putting their work out there and letting readers decide if they want to see more. Writers also have the responsibility of producing quality work that makes readers ask for more. Publishing power has shifted. More of it belongs to writers, however the majority of it belongs to readers; and that’s exactly how it should be.

Macklemore said it best:

Money, stay on my craft and stick around for those pounds,
But I do that to pass the torch and put on for my town
 Trust me. On my I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T s**t hustler,
Chasing dreams since I was fourteen with the four track bussing
Halfway cross that city with the backpack, fat cat, crushing

Labels out here,
Now they can’t tell me nothing
We give that to the people,
Spread it across the country

So let’s put our pens up like the ceiling can’t hold us.

“When Love Arrives”

Sarah Kay and her poetic partner Phil Kaye offer a new spin on spoken word poetry. They are story tellers, forsaking traditional rhyme and clever word plays for mellifluous performances that put one in the mind of peeking into a friend’s journal. Artistic creativity is as individual as the timbre of your voice. No one can create quite like you, so don’t let anyone box you in and tell you it must be executed a particular way. Your art is just that: your art. Hope this inspires you!

Who are some of your favorite spoken word artists?

Lovenia Leapart is in Our Author Spotlight!

Author Lovenia Leopart

Author Lovenia Leopart

What’s your name or pen name? 

Laura Lynn Monk (romance) Lovenia Leapart (Fiction)

What are your genres?

Romance & Fiction

What have you written? 

 Marked by Temptation (romance) and Girls Don’t Play Guitar, available for pre-order.

51GgXhmtCrLWhen did you begin your writing career?

In 2004 when I decided to get a MA in English/Creative Writing

Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How do you make time to write?

Part-time, but I’m in going through the somewhat extreme process of trying to turn it into full-time.

What’s your writing process? (Number of days you write per week, a.m. or p.m., specific music you play while writing, or anything else that you feel is a vital part of your creative process.) 

I like to write during the day, mornings are ideal (hence my strong desire to make the transition to full-time).  My ideas for characters are often birthed while listening to music, especially while driving.  When I’m writing dialogue, I often have instrumental (or very soft vocals) music playing in the background.  When I need to render an emotional scene, I like to listen to music that helps me get into that emotional space.  But when I’m working on plot, I need silence and I often work that out while walking.

Do you keep a journal? If so, for how long? Do you find it helpful for your professional writing? 

Not really, though I know I should and that I’m breaking a major writers’ rule by not doing it.  That being said, I do often do morning pages as prescribed by Julia Cameron in the Artists Way (my creative living bible)

What’s your inspiration? 

Music and Life

What kind of legacy do you expect your writing to leave?

I have no idea, but whatever it is, I hope it includes messages of inspiration.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

To read and write as much as often as you can.  And to continually surround yourself by things and people that affirm your aspirations.

What’s on your bookshelf or in your e-reader library?

Who Asked You – Terry McMillan and A Week in Winter – Maeve Binchey

headshot-1280x848

What are you currently working on?

My novel, Consolation Prize

Latest release and book blurb?  

Girls Don’t Play Guitar, which is a short story in an Anthology entitled, Our Lives in Sketches.

Blurb –“I was twelve years old when I first experienced my own soul.” This line from Lovenia Leapart’s“Girls Don’t Play Guitar,” captures the spirit of this collection of short fiction by new and emerging writers. The stories survey a variety of issues affecting African American women through the theme of searching for one’s self and identity.

LivesInSketches_1024x1024

Tell us about your main character? What actress or actor would you cast to play him or her in a movie about your book? 

The main character in Girls Don’t Play Guitar is a female jazz musician who has had to go against the grain and embrace the calling to play the guitar during a time when being a woman and and having an interest in jazz music meant either learning to play the piano or being a vocalist. A good actress for this part would be Jada Pinkett Smith, I think. The main character in Marked by Temptation is a librarian who’s recently been laid off.  She’s smart, full-figured, and a bit too shy for her own good. I think Sanaa Lathan would be great for this role.

How can we purchase your work?  

Girls Don’t Play Guitar at Plenarybooks.com (publisher’s website) and Marked by Temptation at Amira Press (publisher’s website), Amazon, or Barnes & Noble online for download as it is an eBook.

How can we stay in touch with you?

Website: http://www.loveniais.com/

Facebook: Lovenia Annisa

Let’s show this Author some love! Click one of the share buttons below!

Breaking the ‘Kardashian Habit’

No, I’m not here to spout the evils of reality television. I have no desire to rant about how the prevalence of reality shows are slowly spoiling the cultural appetites of an entire generation. I’ll leave that to the literary and artistic snobs more versed on the topic than I will ever be.

The other day was Kim Kardashian’s birthday and I happily wasted some brain cells by watching a few episodes of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. While watching, I noticed something that disturbed me. Well, I noticed a few things that disturbed me, but that’s not the point. My point is that the entire cast seems to have a cell phone perpetually glued to their hands. No matter what they are doing, a cell phone has at least some part of their attention. Whether they are driving, having dinner or even using the restroom a cell phone is nearby. What disturbed me was that I realized that I often do the same thing. I have the habit of being more involved in the cyber world while out and about, than the real world.

I’ve decided that I need to break the Kardashian habit for the sake of my writing. Writers are by nature studier’s of human behavior. When I’m constantly engaged with my phone, I miss the opportunity to engage with the people around me. I do my artistic creativity a disservice when I perpetually indulge in the singular universe that my cell phone provides. The world around me is ready and waiting for my full attention.

My observance can mean the difference between flat stilted dialogue and dialogue that leaps off the page. It can mean the difference between generic descriptive narrative and a reader’s total immersion in a vision I create. It can mean the difference between true authenticity and regurgitated dribble.

Art imitates life and it’s hard to do that if we’re not studying the real thing. So, cell phones down and heads up. Hello world.

 

What’s your artistic kryptonite? Let us know in the comments below!

The Brightness of Your Light

Source

Source

Your light shines so bright

I am astounded by your beauty

Each prism of glass holds a reflection of the very best parts of me

It is no wonder that I couldn’t see all of you clearly

I’ve been deceived by dancing shadows and the trickery of subtly changing seasons

As a mother it is my preemptive duty to protect you from outside danger

To instinctually keep at bay the lurking circle of predators and thieves

I thought I did that

How could I be expected to see the threat that lived inside of you?

I was blinded by my clairvoyant vision of your future

I could not see the hurt buried so deep that it imploded and exploded within you

I’m sorry

But you didn’t tell me either

I know you’re sorry too

Your future is still waiting

I will get you there

I will push you and pay in blood and sweat

And yes even tears to get you there

I will pull you until my limbs stretch farther than they were ever meant to go

We will broaden your scope of sight

You will be brave

We will travel back in time to arrive at your future

We will defy nature and return to a suspended space

When I breathed for you

When you gained nourishment within my body

When my heart beat set the rhythm for your first fluttering of life

And you will be born anew

My promises are true

We will get you to your future

And then I will continue to bask

In the brightness of your light

Touched by this poem?

Click the Facebook “Like” button in the upper right hand corner of your screen to get immediate updates on future content!

Ann Fields is in our Author Spotlight!

Author: Ann Fields

Author: Ann Fields

What’s your name or pen name?

Most of my works are written under my real name, Ann Fields. However, my romance novels are written under my pen name of Anna Lawrence.

What are your genres?

I started my writing career in 1990 as a romance writer. I wrote four full-length romance novels and one romance novella for a Mother’s Day collection. All published by Kensington Publishing Company or Black Entertainment Television. Then, I woke up one day and realized romance writing was no longer a challenge so I took a screenwriting class and wrote a couple of screenplays. I learned I don’t like screenwriting nearly as much as novel writing so I turned to mainstream writing and ended up writing several novels as well as many short stories.

What have you written?

My published works include:  After Hours, Second Time Around, Love Everlasting, Bouquet and Give and Take. Unfortunately, these titles are out of print. I do however have available my latest book, Fuller’s Curse, a short story in an anthology titled The Writer’s Block:  A Legacy of African American Literature, and a non-fiction book on time management for writers titled, Stop Stalling and Write.

When did you begin your writing career?

I bought a new car in 1990 and wanted to pay it off sooner than the payment terms so I thought about ways to earn extra money and decided to do what I love — write. So even though I didn’t acquire my first publishing contract until 1995 I count 1990 as the start of my writing career because that’s when I made the conscious decision to follow my passion.

Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How do you make time to write?

I alternate between writing full and part-time. Since 2010, I have been writing full-time but recently, I needed more money to market and promote my book so I took a short assignment. As soon as I wrap up the assignment, I’ll be back writing full-time and marketing my works. In the meantime, I am writing and marketing part-time in the evenings and weekends. To acquire more time to write, I refuse more social engagements than I accept and I prioritize my life. Finally, I try not to allow anything to interfere with or upstage my writing time. When I’m writing, I write.

What’s your writing process? (Number of days you write per week, a.m. or p.m., specific music you play while writing, or anything else that you feel is a vital part of your creative process.)

When it is time to write, I draft a scene per writing session. The next time I sit down to write, I edit and refine that scene and draft the next scene. And so on and so on… I find this method works best for me rather than trying to write a certain number of pages or words per session. I also monitor my energy level. When I feel myself starting to tire, I wrap up that writing session. I find that works best for me rather than try to force the writing. As far as my writing environment, I prefer to write in silence and I am lucky that I can write anyplace–coffee shop, library, home, etc. I do have one requirement (other than my laptop) and that is to have my ratty, old black sweater with me. I’ve had that sweater forever and it’s been with me during the writing of most of my books.

Do you keep a journal? If so, for how long? Do you find it helpful for your professional writing?

I am a journal writer. I find it very therapeutic and comforting. It is the only occasion I can be 100 per cent honest, 100 per cent of the time. I received my first journal–a diary really–when I was in seventh grade. My first “boyfriend” gave it to me as a gift. I wrote in it but fell more in love with article-writing for the school paper and writing short stories. So the journal was demoted. I picked journal writing back up in the early 2000s when I started trying to find my true life path. Now, I rarely miss a day journaling. What’s interesting is that I use less stream of consciousness writing nowadays and more targeted writing related to my dreams, spiritual impressions and ‘dejavues’. I guess my journals have become a way to understand the deeper meaning of life and purpose. I don’t really know if there is a connection between journal writing and my professional writing. I guess some of the spiritual truths I uncovered in journaling have found their way into my novels but again, I really use journal writing as a way to learn more about Ann and this thing called life.

What’s your inspiration?

My inspiration to write comes from my desire to fulfill my life purpose. I am on this Earth to write. My ministry is writing. I am unhappy when I allow too many days to pass by without putting words on paper. I can’t imagine life without the power and magic of words, or reading a great story, or writing a passage that makes my soul sing, or creating a character that feels as real as my family. I get so excited when I start a new project and the excitement comes full circle when I type ‘the end.’ It feels good to create, to go from an idea to a finished manuscript. There’s no joy like it for me.

What kind of legacy do you expect your writing to leave?

If I can make readers think… If I can challenge a reader’s paradigm… If I can entertain or touch a reader’s emotions…then I claim that as my legacy. I also enjoy working with aspiring writers and helping them achieve their writing dreams. If I can lead one person to write one book or direct a budding writer through the publishing process or introduce the joy of creative writing to kids…then that too I consider a worthy legacy.

Author: Ann Fields

Author: Ann Fields

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Don’t expect too much too soon. It takes time to learn to write at a level that is worthy of publishing. Then, it takes time to build an audience, to connect with readers. Give yourself lots of time. Use your “introductory” time to learn the craft of writing, learn the business end of writing and familiarize yourself with marketing.

What’s on your bookshelf or in your e-reader library?

I am a broad reader. On my bookshelf and e-reader, you’ll find thrillers, horror, mainstream, women’s fiction, children’s, and teens. I also enjoy reading poetry, short story collections, non-fiction and greeting cards.

What are you currently working on?

The sequel to Fuller’s Curse occupies my writing mind currently. I had not planned for Fuller’s Curse to be a sequel but midway through the rewrites, a second storyline came to me and next thing I know the Tremont family is demanding I write their story. So I am working on Tremont’s Curse, and really liking where it is going even though I am a year out from ‘the end.’

Latest release and book blurb?

Fuller’s Curse

Deborah Fuller-King is a bored homemaker who finds new purpose for her life when she adopts her daughter’s school project—completing the Fuller family tree. In search of her roots, she travels from Dallas to Partway, Texas where in the 1860’s Charles Fuller, a newly-freed African American slave, founded the town that was originally named Fullertown. There, her genealogical research reveals some terrifying information about her family—part fact, part legend. While delving into the facts, hoping to disprove the legend of the BlackHeart, family members begin to die horrible deaths—one by one. Alarmed and frightened, Deborah turns to the one person who knows everything about the family…Mattie Fuller.

Ninety-something-year-old Mattie knows the answers that Deborah seeks, but she’s not ready to share her knowledge with Deborah. Not yet. She could tell Deborah all about the curse that shadows their family, but to share the information would unleash a hell storm that would destroy the entire Fuller clan. Instead, Mattie confides the only thing that can be done to save the Fullers—a sacrifice so complete that it would free not only the Fullers, but other cursed families.

Does Deborah have the courage to complete the saving act and thereby end the Fuller’s curse?

Fuller's Curse

Tell us about your main character? What actress or actor would you cast to play him or her in a movie about your book?

I actually have three main characters in Fuller’s Curse. Deborah Fuller-King is a dedicated nurturer to a workaholic husband and a college-bound daughter. She appears simple on the surface but is actually complex because of her emotional depth brought on by difficult life experiences. The major decision or act in the storyline rests on her shoulders. She carries the heavy load in the story. The actress who could bring her to life on the screen is either Alfre Woodard or Viola Davis. Mattie Fuller is another character on which the story pivots. She is a strong presence. Quiet, short of words, but larger-than-life. Of all the characters in this book she came to me first and in vivid form. She is a presence to be dealt with and therefore would require a really strong senior actress to pull her off. Maybe Ruby Dee. Rounding out the top three characters is Hope King. She was the quietest of the three characters; I had trouble getting her to open to me but she, like her mother, is surprisingly complex. I really like KeKe Palmer for the role of Hope.

How  can we purchase your work?

Fuller’s Curse is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online e-tailers as well as independent bookstores across the nation. Stop Stalling and Write is available on Smashwords.

How can we stay in touch with you?

www.annfields.com

https://www.facebook.com/AnnFieldsAuthor?ref=hl

https://twitter.com/ann_fields

http://www.linkedin.com/nhome/?nuxComplete=true&trk=nux-full-home

Do you have additional questions for Ann? Leave them in the comments section below!

Are you a published author? Click on the “Calling All Writers” tab to be featured on Faith Simone.