It Takes A Village

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I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to meet and/or talk with a handful of highly successful authors and most of them have this one thing in common: they are an active member of a writer’s group.  I think that as newbies aspiring writers often think that authors are reclusive anti-social creative literary mavericks. While that may be true at times of inspiration, most authors have a broad network of support. Just read the acknowledgements portions of some of your favorite books and you’ll notice that the authors have pages upon pages of people to express gratitude towards for making that book possible. Why should any of us be any different? Learn from the best and make an effort to connect.

Here are 3 reasons why I think you should connect with a local writer’s group in your community if you haven’t already.

1. Unbiased Critique: While sharing your writing efforts with Pookie and them may give you a nice ego boost, it won’t give you the honest critique you need. Your family and friends care about you and this can color their assessment of your efforts. Chances are they know exactly how much your writing means to you, and are hesitant to criticize your efforts because they don’t want to discourage you. A writing group of your literary peers will have no problem telling you that your book about toenail jam may have limited marketing opportunities.

2.Networking Opportunities: When you join a writer’s group you’ll have the opportunity to meet like-minded individuals. You’ll meet people who take the craft of writing seriously. You’ll also likely meet published authors and have to opportunity to pick their brains regarding the business aspects of professional writing. Not only that, most organizers of writer’s groups keep their fingers on the pulse of the industry and share information regarding upcoming literary events and conferences.

3.Inspiration and Encouragement: Being a writer is far from glamorous most of the time. And for every one writer that ‘makes it’ there are hundreds more whose work may never see the light of day. Sorry to be a downer, but it’s true. Being a part of a writer’s group can give you the encouragement you need to never stop writing. No matter what. Because for true writer’s, this whole thing is a calling. Just like believers go to church to keep on keeping on in their walk of faith, writers get together to encourage each other not to give up. Listening to other people talk about their agents and contract negotiations will help you remember that it is possible, and it does happen for some people, so it can happen for you.

But Faith, how do I find a writer’s group to join? I’m glad you asked. There are several ways to skin a cat. I was a part of a remarkable group in Dallas called The Writer’s Block Inc., which I discovered through word of mouth. Tell people you are looking for a writing group and you’d be surprised what may happen. Also, there is Google of course. Type in ‘writing groups’ or ‘writing critique sessions’ plus your zip code and explore the many options that come up. Lastly, there is my favorite method of connecting whenever I move to a new area: MeetUp.com. This site is great for networking for any reason, but it can also help you locate a writing group specific to your needs. Want to be a part of a fantasy fiction group? Memoirs your thing? Children’s books anyone? They’ve probably got it, and if they don’t you can easily start a group yourself. Just go to MeetUp.com, type in your area of interest and zip code, then you are good to go.

It takes a village people, so go find yours!

P.S. I did not mention on-line writing groups because I prefer face to face interaction, but if that’s what floats your boat, by all means go for it.

Photo credit: Foter.com / CC BY-SA

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Second Sight

Have you ever been so in love with someone that you lose sight of yourself? Or been so in love that you can’t see the object of your affection for what they really are? Well, I can say yes to both of those questions and this poem is about my personal experience with love, the loss of love…then love again. Hope it speaks to you.

Second Sight

When it all began

I looked at him skeptically

Thinking could he be someone with purpose?

Created and divinely designed

Especially for me?

I looked in his eyes

And thought I saw a reflection of me

I saw ambition and goals coupled with integrity

I saw hope and desire

Along with the drive to reach

What I thought was our combined destiny

I believed I had finally found love’s sweet melody

I floated on the wind

And heard his name whispered in the breeze

I saw what I wanted to see

It was only a matter of time

Before it all began to unwind

And the view from my eyes

Started to lose its shine

But me being me

I stubbornly towed the line

Ignored the warnings

And decided that I would fight

For what I felt was mine

Love is patient

Love is kind

No where does it say that love

Requires you to lose your mind

However I lost mine for a minute

Which I guess is easy to do when you are trying so hard

To find… To find…

To find

Any sort of truth coming through his eyessearching-1_l

Like I said I saw what I wanted to see

I did not see the lies

Did not recognize the game

Until it was too late

I was already wrapped up

Drowned and covered in my own shame

It was in that moment

That he saw himself reflected in my eyes

And he had to look away

Because he couldn’t stand the sight

Love is patient

Love is kind

And there is someone who walked the earth

To find…to find…

To find…me

Someone that whispers

Late into the night

Oh so quietly

I’ve been waiting for you

Sweet child love of my life

He showed me what I did not deserve

What I felt couldn’t be right

I saw myself reflected in His eyes

And I looked away because I couldn’t stand the sight

But everywhere I turned he was there with His grace

Telling me that His banner over me is love

And then He wiped the tears from my face

He covered my shame and my pain with His blood

Picked me up and set me in my rightful place

So now I see this love thing

Without any compromise

Reflected through His eyes

And I can’t look away

Because it is such a beautiful sight.

Did the poem above speak to you? I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to leave a comment below! 

Photo credit: kevin dooley / Foter.com / CC BY

Ashley Love Is In Our Author Spotlight!

Ashley Love

What’s your name/pen name?

Ashley Love

What are your genres?

Poetry, Inspirational Memoir

What have you written?

On Sept 1, 2013, I released a preview eBook of Tainted Elegance: In The Key of Love. That will lead up to the actual book that will be released on Valentine’s Day 2014. My inspirational memoir, Blooming Quest will be out in December 2013 in print and eBook formats. I am also working on a book with the Co-Founder of our organization, Poets Against Bullying, titled Fearless Poets Against Bullying. It will be released in Summer 2014.

When did you begin your writing career?

I have written my whole life. I had poems published in anthologies as a child, but started really focusing on my writing career two years ago.

Are you a full-time or part-time writer?

I write anytime I have something on my mind. I would like to say full-time, but I also have to work on Poets Against Bullying and get prepared for our upcoming events.

How do you make time to write?

I bring a tablet with me everywhere I go and jot down ideas when they come to mind. After my babies are asleep at night, I then bring those ideas to life.

What’s your writing process?

I write whenever I feel the need to put something down on paper. I try to at least write three times a week for about an hour. Evenings are the best time for me to write because my kids are settled down. If I need to really focus on writing, I will get my laptop and head to a café where there are fewer distractions and I can give my writing the attention it needs.

Do you keep a journal? If so, for how long?

Yes, I keep a journal in my purse where I write down ideas, feelings, things I see, etc. I have kept journals since I was like 5. I used to ask for journals and pens for Christmas instead of toys.

Do you find ‘journaling’ helpful for your professional writing?

Yes, it helps me keep up with my ideas.

What’s your inspiration?

My kids are my inspiration. They make me push forward every day to be the best person, mother, and writer that I can be. They keep me going when times get rough and they know how to make me smile (even though it is sometimes only because they have done something super bad and want to butter me up before they break the news to me).

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

I want to inspire people. That is my main goal. I want to leave a legacy of inspirational words that continue to touch people’s lives after I’m gone.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Never give up! This industry is tough and people will chew you up and spit you out, without thinking twice. Have confidence in yourself and your work and keep trying, no matter what! Don’t ever get too cocky that you are the best, and always be open for improvement. You can do it, but it takes patience and perseverance.

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

Lots of poetry books and stories from friends of mine. I love reading so I try to get all of my friend’s books, if possible. With my schedule right now, I have very little time to read like I used to–Hopefully that will change in the future, so I can get more reading time in.

Tainted Elegance Cover

What are you currently working on?

I am working on the final touches on my inspirational memoir, Blooming Quest and my poetry book, Tainted Elegance: In The Key of Love. I am co-writing a book on bullying and abuse called Fearless Poets Against Bullying and am already working on the second book in the Tainted Elegance series.

Latest release and book blurb?

Tainted Elegance: In The Key of Love is the first book of the series,  Tainted Elegance. It is filled with poetry that is true  to the heart and was written to inspire others going through the same life turmoil as Ashley has gone through. It’s focus is not only on love  between two people, but loving yourself. It is a wonderful collection for anybody that loves poetry from the heart and based on real life  experiences.

Here is a poem from Tainted Elegance: In The Key of Love

Footprints of Life

As I stepped my feet into the sand,
I thought about my life and how it’s been.

The struggles and pain tried to break me down,
But thanks to my faith my feet are planted firmly on the ground.

The people I trusted to stick by my side,
Withered away as the seasons flew by.

Those to whom I tried to lend a helping hand,
Turned their backs on me and disappeared like tiny grains of sand.

The tide picked up and the wind grew fierce.
I couldn’t help but face my biggest fears.

I was out on the pier, no shield from the wind.
The ferocious waves kept crashing in.

The careless breeze filled my eyes with tears,
As I stood there in that moment looking back on the years.

My struggles slowed, as I learned to let go-
To enjoy the breeze and in my life put God in control.

Even as my feet hit rock bottom many days,
I refused to let the pain get in my way.

As I walked by faith and not by sight,
I peered back at my past, which was slowly fading out of my sight.

As the eager sun shone upon my face,
I finally got to feel loves warm embrace.

As the years passed by-my life almost complete,
I’m thankful for the memories I will always keep.

From sunrise to sunset and all that was in between,
I learned many lessons and accomplished many dreams.

I stand in the ocean looking back at where I’ve been,
My footprints are still etched crisply in the sand.

Here is a description for the memoir Blooming Quest via Amazon:Blooming Quest

“Ashley Love’s first book to come out in print, Blooming Quest, takes the reader on a journey as she searches to find love for herself, create a plan (for getting out of the financial, emotional, and physical rut she was living in), and eventually see progress and growth. Ashley does not go on this journey alone. She takes the reader on the journey with her.  She guides you in setting goals, eliminating negativity, creating stability, and welcoming growth.

As a single mother of three, Ashley has been through tough times and turmoil. She allowed her negative surroundings to influence her to the point to where she was almost homeless. Although her morals and heart was in the right places, she allowed people to pass boundaries and abuse her kindness. She became frustrated and decided to make THAT change for the last time to follow God’s lead for her life and start destroying some of the weeds that had overgrown in her garden of life.”

Tell us about your main character? What actress or actor would you cast to play him or her in a movie about your book?*Alt. for poets: what type of music would you set your poetry to if you were performing it?*

For my poetry, I like soothing music that fits the rhythm of the poem. As for someone to play my character, well in Blooming Quest, since it is a memoir they would be playing me. I am silly, but very focused. I would have to say Reese Witherspoon. I think she could get my character down to the tee.

How can we purchase your work?

You can get Tainted Elegance: In The Key of Love on Smashwords and Amazon

Blooming Quest will be available in print and as an eBook in December 2013.  For updates on Blooming Quest and to buy an advanced copy starting December 1st, go to my website!

How can we stay in touch with you?

Website: http://www.writerashleyl.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/writerashleyl
Twitter: https://twitter.com/writerashleyl
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/writerashleyl

Didn’t you just love that poem? Get another sneak peek of Tainted Elegance: In The Key of Love here!

The World is Waiting

If there is something that you love to do, that you think about doing all the time, that you’re good at doing: please do it. There are people who will benefit from your gift. I look at musicians, teachers, entrepreneurs, painters, writers, etc and I think about all that we would be missing out on if they sat on their talent. That song you played at your wedding? Someone had to perform it. That wall art that inspires you? Someone had to conceptualize it. That power suit you wore to get your dream job? Someone had to design it. That hair product you couldn’t live without? Someone had to create and  market it. That poem read at a loved one’s funeral that you will cherish forever? Someone had to write it. My point is that you never know how your talent will impact someone’s life. If you have a gift (and everyone does), by all means USE IT!

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At the risk of sounding extremely corny, we are all connected to one another. There is no contribution too small in the cosmic scheme of things. Besides, when you are truly called to do something, even if you try to resist, it will still be a nagging desire in the back of your mind. So give into it, and watch your world change for the better.

I love to write. I can’t help but to write. I plan to write until the day I die. I’m not me if I’m not writing. I’m not me if I’m not thinking creatively. Writing is my therapy, my joy, my frustration, my outlet, my preferred form of expression, my get right, my compass, my stress relief, my revenge and my victory.  If I’m not writing, then I know some part of my spirit is broken and I need to change something quick and in a hurry.

Make time to do whatever puts a pep in your step and  light in your eyes. You may not be the best at it, and you may make a few mistakes along the way, but no one can do it the way you can. So do the world a favor and get to it already.

Photo credit: Noukka Signe / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Ashea Goldson Is In Our Author Spotlight!

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What’s your name or pen name?

Ashea Goldson

What are your genres?

My genre is predominantly Christian fiction. However, I also write women’s fiction, inspirational non-fiction, poetry, children’s books, and inspirational screenplays.

What have you written?

As far as novels are concerned, I have written The Lovechild, Joy Comes In The Morning, Count It All Joy, Let Joy Arise, and my latest release is Scorched. I have written two volumes of poetry, one children’s book, and one screenplay which was released as an independent  full length feature film this year. I am also about to release Resurrecting The Real Me, a non-fiction book about finding your purpose.

When did you begin your writing career?

Although I couldn’t tell you a date when I began to write seriously, I guess I could say it officially began when I signed my first traditional publishing contract in 2007. My first book was released in 2008.

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

I have recently transitioned into full time writing. Previously, I had worked a full-time day job, where I was a business owner and educator. I wrote in the evenings, on weekends, holidays, vacations, in the car, whenever and wherever I could, etc.

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 try to write every day, although there have been some days that have not worked out that way. I prefer to write early in the day, although on occasion I get inspired to write late at night. When I’m writing usually I prefer total silence. Sometimes, however I need worship music to help me with the spiritual element, or romantic music if I’m writing a love scene.

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

No, I don’t keep a journal. I used to when I was much younger but I haven’t in the past twenty years.

What’s your inspiration?

Writing is unequivocally my calling so therefore I am compelled to write. I can only say that God gives me that push and that creative flow so that I can share the gift with others.

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

I hope to leave a legacy of God’s love being the number one source of restoration, healing, peace, and overall satisfaction. Nothing can separate us from His love and I hope that my books carry on that message forever.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

I have so much advice but I will try to narrow it down to what I believe are the top three of the most important things.

  1. Since completing the manuscript is just the beginning, don’t forget to market your book.

  2. An author must study the craft in order to realize  his or her strengths and weaknesses, and therefore be able to grow as an author.

  3. An author must be well read in various genres in order to know what good literature actually is.

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

I have quite an extensive book collection so: In terms of Christian fiction I have books by fellow authors, like Reshonda Tate Billingsley, Victoria Christopher Murray, Rhonda Mcknight, Tia McCollors, Sherri Lewis, Shawneda Marks, Shana Burton, Stacy Hawkins Adams, Kendra Norman, Dwan Abrams, Tyora Moody, and Dee Stewart, aka Miranda Parker (rest in peace) along with many others. However, I also have books on my bookshelf from other genres as well. I enjoy the classics, like books by Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, Jane Austen, Langston Hughes, Shakespeare, etc.  Then there are books on my shelf by John Grisham, Nicholas Sparks, Kimberla Lawson Roby, Eric Jerome Dickey,  just to name a few. I also love non- fiction so I also read books by Pastor Creflo Dollar, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Joyce Myers, Dr. Myles Monroe, Joel Olsteen, etc.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently completing novel #6, When Kingdom Comes. I am also writing two screenplays simultaneously.

Latest release and book blurb?

My latest release is Scorched.  Nila, a beautiful Indian girl, still bears the scars from the fire that claimed her abusive husband’s life. When she finds herself accused of murder, will Malcolm be able to save her from her mother-in-law’s fury, or will she, in law and love, be burned again?

scorched 2Tell 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 Scorched is Nila who is beautiful, courageous, and resilient. If she had to be cast in a movie, perhaps I would want Rosario Dawson or Vanessa Hudgens.

How can we purchase your work?

My books may be purchased wherever books are sold, including Black Expressions Book Club.

How can we stay in touch with you?

I may be contacted at asheagold@yahoo.com or I may be found at http://www.asheagoldson.com/, Blogtalkradio,Facebook, Twitter,and Linked In.

Let’s show Ashea some love!  Besides all major book retailers you can also purchase her books on-line through Amazon here, Barnes & Noble here or Books-A-Million here.

Nothing but Respect

Very touching tribute

Chris Martin Writes

I was never in the military. I never served multiple tours in Afghanistan. I’ve never had to spend sleepless nights in a bunker somewhere on the other side of the world listening to continuous gunfire and explosions. I’ve never had to spend months or years away from my family wondering if I would ever see them again. I’ve never spent holidays and birthdays alone, far away from the ones I love the most.

Unfortunately, there are many brave men and women who have, and who are still serving right now. I have the utmost respect for anyone who lives a life of sacrifice. True heroes don’t wear capes, football pads, or memorize scripts for the silver screen. The true heroes in this world wear dog tags, a shield on their uniform, rush into burning buildings to save lives, and stand in front of a classroom full of kids who don’t…

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