Saturday, December 1, 2018

On Writing: A New Book Release




Today I finally released my new novel Love Without a Limit for pre-order through KDP. Now this is a test because I have never set a book up for pre-sale on KDP, but so far so good. I figure this way I can gage how well the book will do when it finally releases in a couple of weeks. The funny thing is with KDP it doesn’t seem to allow you to pre-sale the print copy. I don’t know if that is going to help or hurt, but I believe it will be okay.

So, what have I learned as a new author on how to release a new book. It’s simple, tell as many people as you can before you release the book. You can’t expect to not mention your book at all then on release day hear crickets because no one knew you were writing a book. I learned that the hard way when I was with a less than perfect publisher a couple years ago. Still though, it’s not just telling people about your book it’s about building relationships with people who you want to be an avid reader of your work.

Some of the things I will be doing for the next couple of weeks is setting up ads, promos, and interviews with industry friends and colleagues that will help build sales of my book. I already had my marketing and promotion plan drawn up months in advance so all I have to do now is contact the parties with the link and get to going. Writing the book was a hard but marketing and promotion will be even harder because I am an introvert naturally. However, if I want to be successful in my writing career, I have to bust the bubble and get out there amongst them.

If you are reading this, I just want to say thank you for your support thus far. If you would please one-click my new release available for pre-order now and wide December 20, 2018.










Thursday, November 22, 2018

O to Be Thankful...




This year has been an interesting year. Even though I am totally thankful for all of the many blessings that the good Lord has bestowed upon me this year, it has been a bit bittersweet. Still though I have to be committed in being thankful and continue to give thanks to God for He has been better than good to me. I never thought I would make it past my 40th birthday but this year I celebrated 42 years on this earth. Folks talked so bad about me marrying a Nigerian and just knew we would be divorced in a year, but we celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary this year. My biological father reached out to me a couple days before my birthday and I hadn’t heard from him in almost twenty years. I mean I could go on and on with the “buts” however the bottom line, God has been gracious and merciful towards me and each and everyone of us to be honest. Because of His grace is sufficient, I am thankful.

So, what should we be thankful for on this day and every day. Be thankful that you woke up this morning because you didn’t have go get up this morning, but you did, oh yes you did (as the Queens of Harmony would say). Be thankful that you are clothed and in your right mind on today because there is someone some where who is battling a debilitating mental illness in the hospital right now. Be thankful that you have water to drink every day because somewhere on earth there are people who a dehydrated beyond repair and have no water supply. Be thankful that you have a roof over your head because there is someone in California who just lost theirs to a horrible wild fire.

We all have so much to be thankful for. So, this holiday just say thank you. You don’t have to qualify, quantify or personify it just say thank you. A spirit of gratitude builds great character. It puts God on notice and He will continue to bless you most tremendously. Remember to much that is given much is required. Be thankful for all that you have, have had and will have.
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Monday, October 15, 2018

Don't Quit Your Day Job!



Recently I was working at my day job when I encountered a horrible customer. I work at a call center and most times the customers I speak to on a daily basis have problems with their services or just have questions. This call though was by far the worst call I had ever had in my career. The customer basically berated me so much stating how worthless I was and that this care package for their college student was a matter of life or death. Of course, they were exaggerating but I felt empathetic of their issues and closed the call the best I could. But by the time I got to my car, I was in tears. Right before I left the office the management team was hunkered at the entrance and I voiced my issues and concerns with the call holding back my tears. They gave me the encouragement and confidence I needed for that moment. But I had it made up in my mind, I was not coming back to be belittled, berated and judged by people who feel entitled because they don’t have to do the job that I do.

Flash forward to later that day when I found an article about my job site and hurricane Florence evacuees. This seemingly unimportant business has taken it upon itself to evacuate 50 of our employees and bring them to Columbus, OH because our NC site is in the eye of the storm. Later that night I had a dream and the Lord basically showed me how I could be of more service there and that I could not quit my day job. This job not only helps to pay my bills, but it allows me to follow my dreams as a writer. It helps me to still be a contributor to society with my disability as well. There had been some management transitions that I at first was not enthusiastic about, however this action of the company to help families in need touched my heart. Not many companies would do what they are doing during such a traumatic event.

So, I say this, if you are at a job where it can get frustrating to continue on, remember this. What is your dream and how is your current position helping you to reach it? If you are in the same boat as me, working on a dream, then maybe you should chuck it up my friend and keep that job because you don’t know where it could take you. I’ve been able to work efficiently at Contact Us for over 4 years with my limitations. The management has been spectacular at assisting their employees in the things they need to not only further their careers but cover their families. I am so glad that I have a place where I can assist a multitude of customers who need our services. Even though I am educated in psychology and social work, I have been able to utilize my education to help my clients. Yeah, it may be a “stupid job” to those who feel it’s beneath them to do, but it’s mine and I won’t quit my day job.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Character Spotlight: Destiny Karen Price



In my first book the third main character, Destiny Karen Price, is a woman of God whose life has been riddled with chaos. She watched her mother destroy her family and then herself. She fell to the seduction of a man who could never truly love her. Yet on top of that, she has to deal with a mental health disease that could hinder all of her future goals. Still though, Destiny triumphs because her praise and worship help to fulfill her purpose and destiny.

I named this character Destiny Karen Price because to get to your destiny you have to pay the price of purpose. What is the price of purpose? It is to go through many tests, trials and tribulations to get to the promises that God has over your life. Purpose builds character. As Destiny walks in her purpose she is attacked on every side. She doesn’t realize that because of her faith in God and commitment to be like Christ in everything, the enemy wants to destroy her. She has an exceptional praise that is pleasing unto God and brings comfort and edification to the people of God. As a worshipper of the living God, Destiny has to go through the storms of life because her testimony will set captives free.

She knows what it means to be a virtuous woman of God and a good wife as presented in Proverbs 31:10-31. She knows that being a dime piece ain’t nothing but a being a piece of change, a coin, to be collected and bartered with. She knows that being a control freak is a sign of the spirit of Jezebel which profiles the most demonic spirit on earth and cannot be allowed to wreak havoc among the people. Still though, she thinks her purpose is only to be a gospel singer. She wants to sing to the Glory of God, be a wife to a good man and social worker for her community. She wants it all, but it will cost her. Even though she steps into her calling easily she begins to realize that the calling on her life has consequences that she does not want to deal with. But God will get the glory out of her life anyhow.

Destiny’s story was developed as a mirror to my life. Because of my calling, to prophesy and edify the people, I have been through many tests, trials and tribulations. I have been tested in my faith and have even turned away from God at times because the walk was just too hard. Still though, God has been blessing me and gave me this story to tell people who may not know who God is that He is indeed a good God. Each of the characters in this book mirror a time in my life where I went through certain trials and tribulations. This book series will take you on a journey into the lives of three women who at first don’t know who they are or what their purpose and destiny will be. They believe that getting married is the end all and be all, but God has something in store for each of their lives that they must come to terms with first. Find out if Destiny meets her destiny in my premiere novel Dimes, Profiles and Wives. Then in the late fall, continue following her story and the stories of Sharon and Tracey in Dimes, Profiles and Wives 2: Love Without a Limit.

Check out the book here:


Saturday, August 25, 2018

Buckeyes and Books




Two of my most favorite things are the OSU Buckeyes and books. However, due to the acts of his employee, Zach Smith, our head football coach Urban Meyer has been suspended for three games. This is because of Meyer’s lack of reporting of Smith’s domestic violence situation. Now, before I state my opinion, let me first state I am and will always be a Buckeye for life. The Ohio State University is where I received my Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology in 1999. However, the irresponsible actions of our coach and all those involved are deplorable.

But before I get on him, the person who holds all of the blame and should have been given more consequences is the employee, Zach Smith, who was hitting his wife. We could argue that the wife is holding a grudge and wants the entire university to pay for her pain. I get that, she is angry and upset. Still though, her husband, who she chose to marry, should have been the sole heir of her rage. Not his employer. You don’t see the other big companies and institutions suspending top executives for possibly knowing about a said domestic violence situation and not attempting to do anything about it (such as firing the bad employee). But alas, here we are, and Coach Meyer is out for three games.

I am not trying to excuse anybody for committing the heinous act of domestic violence. Domestic violence is a sore spot with me because I witnessed my mother go through it at the hands of my biological father as well as going through a situation with myself in the past. To many times this issue is pushed under the rug and women, and some men, continue to be violated by their significant others. Now that the issue has been dragged across the country through the media, what can be done about it? Meyer should have at least reported the situation to the authorities, so the couple could get some help and their children didn’t have to suffer any more than they have been. That is his “crime” in this incident. Too many times we look the other way when someone is being hurt and it’s about time that someone is made an example of. Too bad for him, Urban Meyer had to get the rut of the penalties with the entire university following behind him.

The time is now to act. We have to protect the victims. I know, my Buckeye faithful, are indeed furious about what has happened and how it may affect our upcoming football season. However, a crime was committed, and policies were violated which is why Urban got to deal with the reprimands. Still though, what is going to happen to the husband and the millions of other perpetrators who attack their significant others. I think we let this slide too much, and too many times someone pays for it with their life. Laws need to be changed, upheld and solidified to deter this heinous act.

No one deserves to be beaten, especially by the ones who say they love them. We should be demanding that better laws are created and upheld by those who are supposed to protect the innocent are followed. Everyone surrounding Mrs. Smith let her down. For that, I as one of the Buckeye faithful, sincerely apologize. I don’t think anyone has actually sincerely said that to her. It may not mean anything coming from me, but I understand her pain and empathize with her. The Buckeyes will always be my team though, but this situation has tarnished our prized university. Still though, I’m a Buckeye till I die, and with that, let’s go BUCKS!!!

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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

On Writing: Healthy Writers are Happy Writers


We, as writers, have to be cognizant of our health: physically, mentally, socially and spiritually. One of the things that I was guilty of was living a mostly sedentary lifestyle. I would sit at my desk more than 60% of the day whether it be at work or at my home office. However, over the past year I have become diligent at becoming more active. I walk at least 1.5 miles, 4-5 times a week and consume no more than 1800 calories a day. I don’t sit for extended periods of time any more. Every hour I get up from my desk and either walk around, do 5-10 squats, or just stand up for a couple of minutes. These little bitty changes have been crucial to living a healthier life as a writer.

Writers must take care of themselves just as much as any other professional. We have to do it even more so because we tend to be alone at our respective “offices” composing works for hours at a time. Mentally we have to be strong enough to survive being by ourselves a lot. To that end, sometimes it can get very lonely. We have to remember, as writers, to keep our minds clear and positive. Falling into a funk of depression can easily happen. The question then becomes how to get out of that funk or avoid it in the first place. I wish I had an answer on how to totally avoid it but getting out of it is doable with help from peers, professionals, family and friends. Having a support system during your writer’s life is crucial because it wards off the feelings of loneliness and seclusion.

Socially writers tend to be loners and don’t like to be out and about spending quality time with others just doing simple things. But we cannot continue to be hermits pounding away at the keys of our laptops and shutting out the world. Human contact and socializing are important for everyone. Writers still need to be able to communicate with their outside world just as much as we do with the characters we create on paper.

As far as spiritually, time needs to be spent on this aspect of our lives just as much if not more than anything else. Our spirit man should be healthy so that we can take care of ourselves physically, mentally and socially. It starts with our inner man and who we believe to be in charge of our lives. Myself, as a Christian, I don’t go more than a couple days without tapping into my spirit through prayer, supplication and Bible study. It works wonders for every aspect of my life.

In conclusion, I must say that a healthy writer is a happy writer. But it takes work to get there. We cannot sit idly by as our lives past us sitting at our computers. Life must still go on and you never know, taking control of your health may lead to great story lines and better writing. So, if you were like me and lived a sedentary lifestyle where you don’t like to socialize, go to Bible study or listen to the advice of a good counselor, maybe you should start. You never know how beneficial it could be to you as well as your future readers.






Tuesday, July 31, 2018

On Writing: 7 Years a Book



The very first book I wrote took me 4 years to complete. The second one, which is the second book in the series, took me over 7 years to complete. I know, I know, you’re asking what took me so long. Well in a nutshell, I had no idea what I was doing. I had to take the time to learn how to write. Yes, it takes time to learn the craft of writing a novel. You don’t just do it willy nilly then expect someone to read it. You have to sharpen your skills and create the best work you can. It also helps that I was not signed to a publisher or they may have dropped me like a hot potato after the first year.

Still though, I think the time I spent was well worth it. With the first book I did not plan it out at all. I just wrote from the hip and let my characters tell me where to go with the book. I rewrote it so many times though because it had to make sense as a person sits down to read it. The second book I actually plotted out with an outline and stuck to it for the most part. To that end, all the other books I have planned and started already have an outline that I will be following when it is time to finish those stories.

Now don’t get me wrong, 7 years is a long time to write a book. But, I must admit life did get in the way. I got married in 2014 however, before then I was in the most tumultuous relationship I had ever been in. The latter relationship gave me the inspiration to write a short story based on actual events. My marriage helped me finish the second novel and many of the romantic scenes are based on actual events. I did get frustrated with myself for a long time writing the second novel though because it seemed like things kept happening that would stop me from writing for months at a time. Still though, it is probably best that I am self-published so that the only person who can give me a deadline is myself.

My advice to new writers: don’t get frustrated that is taking you so long to finish one book, no matter how many pages it is. Take your time, learn what it takes to really make a quality book and get it done. Now I wouldn’t recommend taking my route, but hey what ever you feel is the best for you to do, just do it.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

On Writing: Yes, You Need an Editor




Once upon a time, I paid $800 to have my masterpiece Dimes, Profiles and Wives published through Xlibris. I was so excited to finish the book and finally have a “publisher” who wanted my work to sell to the masses. In my haste to see my piece de resistance in print, I allowed the book to be sold on the open market without any editing. That was the single worse mistake I have made thus far in my writing career.

Now granted, I wrote a compelling story worthy of four stars from reputable editorial reviewers. However, not having the work edited made a “mockery” of an otherwise good book. If I was to do it all over again the number one thing I would do is hire an editor. I didn’t know then that I could go to Fiverr and hire an editor or do what I did for my next novel, ask for recommendations in the many Facebook groups I belong to.

My editor from Critique Editing Services took my work, polished and cleaned it up so that it would be ready for readers to feast on. I know a lot of new authors believe they do not need an editor, but trust me, yes you do. If Stephen King needs an editor, so do you. If Maya Angelou needs an editor, so do you. If Zondervan Publishing needs editors to produce the most famous book on earth, you need an editor.

Why? Because you do not have the ability, expertise nor skill set to effectively and efficiently rectify errors in your own writing. You my dear will miss something as simple as the spelling of your own name or verb tense agreement if you do not hire an editor. And no, your auntie and them cannot edit your work unless they have the unique skills for the task at hand.

So, what really happens when you hire an editor. First off, they are not going to take your work and do a total rewrite of what you’ve taken so long to create. If they do, run, that’s not an editor, that’s a thief. There are four specific types of editing that you will need for different stages of your book. Those types include proofreading, line editing, copy editing and development editing. Depending on your writing level and necessary changes you should at least have a copy editor look at your work. If you know you haven’t written a solid piece, then development editing is what you will need. Finally, a proofreading and line edit will be necessary upon completion of the initial edit. I know it sounds like a lot, but a good editor will tell you what they can and cannot do and what it is they believe you need after giving you a free quote.

I will shout it until the end of my writing career: Yes, you need an editor! My advice is to go out there, after you’ve written your best work, and hire someone who you can work well with and believes in your vision. As I went through my process of editing with Critique Editing Services the relationship with my editor was friendly and we got the work done. Now I can send it on to the proofreader (another editing company) and get Love Without a Limit, Dimes, Profiles and Wives Book 2 ready for the open market. 




Wednesday, June 27, 2018

What's the Hardest Thing to do as an Author?




This question has been asked numerous times over my career and today I was sitting in my living room trying to decide what else I needed to do with my writing career to make it successful. I have concluded that the hardest thing to do as an author is to let others know about your gift. Now don’t get me wrong, the task of writing a story is indeed one of the hardest things to do as an author, but marketing and promotion of our stories hails in comparison.

There isn’t a day that goes by that I am not trying to figure out how to promote and market my work. I sometimes get a headache just thinking about it because naturally I am an introvert and don’t like to tell people about my business. When I finally decided to create a Facebook author page I was scared to death. I didn’t want to have “followers” but I knew they would be vital to my future career plans as an author.

Marketing and promotion are hard things to do for any business, so just imaging how hard it is for a single person who has poured their heart out on three hundred blank pages. To a degree, writing my books have been easy compared to getting the word out about them. But alas it does get easier as I learn what works and what doesn’t work.

One tactic I used to do was join Facebook groups and “promote” with link dropping in all of them several times a week. Um, that does not work. Then I decided to start using Facebook ads to promote my books and although I would get likes and people actually saw the ads, nobody was actually buying my work. So that was wasted money. Then I decided to finally try Amazon’s marketing tool and to my surprise every time I did a campaign I sold at least one book. However, I would sometimes spend upwards of fifteen dollars to sell one copy, even though a couple Kindle Unlimited copies were being “purchased” as well.

This month the I have sold ten copies of my latest book using Amazon’s marketing campaign tool as well as selling books out of the trunk of my car. I think I may have found my sweet spot, but it did not come easy and it will not be easy going forward. Still though, I am satisfied that I am selling my work to new readers who are actually reading it (my KENP count has been to the last page of the book so far). So, what’s the hardest thing to do for an author: marketing and promotion. Just know you will have to spend some to make some but do it without going into debt and you will be alright.


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Character Spotlight: Sharon Denise Douglas


It’s time for another character spotlight from my novel Dimes, Profiles and Wives. The second book in the series, Love Without a Limit, is due to come out by the end of 2018. So, who is this character Sharon Denise Douglas? Sharon is the character that readers will love and hate.  She is the woman who grew up in the streets but turned her life around. Currently she is one of the most valuable assets to her law firm due to her tenacity. She’s only in her early thirties and is being groomed as a junior partner.  Her claim to fame is this though: I don’t need a man; a man needs me to be all he can be. As the ideal trophy wife, she’ll add so much collateral to her husband just by her name alone. So, she thinks and lives her life wearing a thick mask she’ll never really take off.

The problem with Sharon is Sharon is not her real name. Niecey Walker wasn’t born with a silver spoon in her mouth and her father is not deceased. He’s locked up in the federal penitentiary for being a drug kingpin in her home city of Baltimore.  But you’ll never know that unless you get her to remove her mask and funnel underneath her many layers. Does she even know who she really is? Maybe, but it will cost her dearly as she finds out.

Sharon’s character is based on a lot of fake friends and associates I’ve encountered over my life time. Most of those women had one thing in common: they could fake it until they made it. Half of the time women who deem themselves to be the trophy have serious problem with being in control. The spirit of Jezebel engulfs their life and creates havoc for those who really love them. Taking control over all their situations, even to the point of living a life full of lies, becomes detrimental to women like Sharon.

She is a Delilah in hiding with the worst case of control issues likened to Jezebel. All in all, Sharon is double trouble. Still though the man she has in her cross hairs, Marcus Anthony Washington, is enamored by her beauty and assertiveness. Bull will he meet his demise from falling for her? Find out if she ever reveals her true self in Dimes, Profiles and Wives.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Ode to Mental Health Awareness Month, May 2018





The month of May is Mental Health Awareness Month and I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge it because millions of people, as well as myself, combat mental health diseases every day. Enduring mental health disease has been a rough road for us however it can be done. I want people to understand that life does not come to an end just because you have a mental disease. I am a living witness that you can have a quality life while sustaining your disease.

What I have found to be effective and most helpful over the years, is to have a community of health care professionals, family members, loved ones and friends surrounding me at all times. If you do not have a health care professional that can treat your disease it should be a priority that you find one. You can find a health care professional, whether it be a licensed counselor, social worker, therapist, psychologist even psychiatrist, without having health insurance or low income. It is imperative that you have professionals in place to diagnosis, treat, and monitor your mental disease so that you do not hurt yourself or others. Most cities across the US have a local mental health department that can assist you with little financial burden. For instance, in Columbus, Ohio for Franklin County NetCare Access can help you in a crisis and get you set up with the professionals. Other places have organizations to aid you and refer you to the best match for your needs.

While you are researching your health care options you should take a good look around your inner circle of family, loved ones and friends because they are the ones who know you best. They can assist you with finding a professional who has your best interest at heart and advise them on things that you may not be able to advise them on. For instance, when I had my first Bipolar episode my mother and sister had to take over the reins. I was not healthy enough to help myself and they were a godsend. So, be sure your inner circle has your back and best interest in mind. You don’t want anyone who will enable you and encourage you to stop/refuse medications, treatment or therapy because those the three entities will be your life saver.

Now, I know there is a lot of stigmatism associated with mental disease, especially with everyone running to the conclusion that the people who commit mass murders have these issues versus being the epitome of evil. However, having a mental health disease is not wicked and does not stop life from going on. It should not give anyone the insecurity that they are not worthy of being treated with respect and love. I have had people in my past, even those in my inner circle, who I have discontinued being in a relationship with because they thought they could get over on me because of my disease. That included friends, lovers and even clergy members. I know it’s tough out here in the world, but our mental disease, which is our cross to bear, is not any different from living with a physical ailment such as diabetes or sickle cell anemia.

In conclusion my post today is just to give recognition to a disease that deserves to be taken seriously and not thrown around to aid political juggernauts in creating fear throughout the world. People living with real mental disease are not malicious, vile or revolting. We are every day citizens who go to work or school and contribute to our communities. We are not monsters, but real people who have feelings and should be treated with as much respect as anyone else. If you know someone in your circle who is living with a mental health disease give them a hug today and let them know that they matter to you and you love them.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

On Writing: Overcoming Obstacles Three



As I continue the topic of overcoming obstacles in writing, I want to address procrastination. We all do it. Procrastination is probably the number one obstacle that writers face every day. How many times have you got ready to write, opened your laptop but ended up on Facebook for an hour instead of finishing your last chapter. Better yet how many times did you decide to research a topic again for the umpteenth time knowing you already have enough information to create a good scene instead of writing the scene.



It happens to even the best writers in the game. So how do we overcome this dastardly deed? First things first you must realize that procrastination is a habit and with all habits it can be broken. However, it is not a habit that can be stopped automatically. There will be a lot of effort on your part to develop new good writing habits. It is not so easy to “just do it” like Nike professes. With any habit you must develop healthy behaviors to overcome the unhealthy ones. I know, I know I went there, but you do want your writing career to be a healthy and productive one, right? So, treat it as such. You must find out the underlying reasons why you procrastinate when it comes to your writing. There could be several, but I will look at least three here.



One reason may be because you are afraid. You could be afraid of failure, have a fear of success, or fear of losing autonomy however, you should not let those fears stop you from writing. Ask yourself what you are afraid of and why. Get to the bottom of the presumed fear so you can work towards combating it successfully. Another reason why you may procrastinate is because you want to be perfect. Perfectionism goes hand in hand with procrastination because you have developed this warped sense that you must be perfect in your writing or even have the perfect atmosphere to write in before performing the task. Still another reason could be that you don’t like what you are writing. You may have developed a dislike for what you are creating because you are uninterested in the subject or it doesn’t confirm to your positive outlook on life.



But don’t fret, there are steps you can take to overcome procrastination. The first step is to take inventory of when you are procrastinating. Buckle down when you find yourself doing the act. I know it’s hard to admit when you are procrastinating but if you actively recognize when you are in the midst of that habit you can get back on track. Then you must figure out how you are procrastinating. Are you surfing social media, reading a fiction book for “fun”, organizing your desk or just eating another Snickers bar. Once you figure out how you’re doing it you can catch yourself and adjust. After these two seemingly basic steps have been adjusted then you can move on to creating an environment conducive to your writing needs. Make sure you set aside a space that is dedicated only to where you write your magic. That place could be the kitchen table after dinner or your desk inside your office. Once you are in that space you have to allow yourself time to write. Make it a priority to hash out the exact time of day you will be writing. After you commit to doing this seeming simple tweaks, you will finish your masterpiece and become a productive writer.

 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

On Writing: Overcoming Obstacles Two



Earlier this month I started a series on overcoming obstacles in writing. I began with discussing writer’s block however the mother of that obstacle is writing anxiety. Writing anxiety is the feeling of tension, worried thoughts and sometimes physical changes (such as higher blood pressure) which occurs when a person faces a writing task. It is the major negative feelings writers have when they attempt to write. In its extreme form some people become physically ill sometimes vomiting and getting headaches or body aches.

Writing anxiety may cause you to avoid writing at all costs. You might feel nervous or unable to write anything (writer’s block). You may self-sabotage any efforts when it comes to writing. One may also have symptoms that include excessive worry and unnecessary stress associated with the performance of writing.

So, how do you fight writing anxiety? First you need to find out and know what your triggers for the anxiety are. Is it due to deadlines, meeting them or creating them? Is it due to competitiveness or is it due to fear of failure? It could stem from social, professional and even academic factors. You might feel pressure from your peers, publisher or teachers. After you pinpoint the triggers of why you feel anxious when it comes to writing then you can effectively fight it. Often the anxiety you feel is situational and you should pay attention to situations that cause it and avoid them.

Some ways to combat writing anxiety include getting a writing buddy or peer that will help you feel more relaxed as you write. That person should be someone you like and trust who is encouraging and wants to see you succeed. Another way is to avoid being isolated by becoming apart of a writing group. Often writers are loners but that is not necessarily healthy. Instead of isolating yourself join a local writing group where you can leave your office (home or otherwise) to meet with like minded writers.

The best way to fight the obstacle is to identify your strengths as a writer and person. This will help you reverse the negative thought patterns that feed your anxiety. Another thing to do is to think of writing as a craft that requires practice for you to master it. As you think of writing as craft you can deem yourself to be an apprentice of sorts learning to become the best you can be at the craft. Also, you should try to change your writing mode sometimes and not get stuck in a rut. Better still, do what you want your audience to do with your finished project: read. Reading will help you overcome your anxiety and give you something different to do for the time being while developing your creativity.

Writing anxiety doesn’t have to be debilitating and stop you from completing your career goals. These were just the basics but good insights on how to overcome this obstacle. Once you conquer the monster you can create your masterpiece and finish the task at hand: writing.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

On Writing: Overcoming Obstacles One





There are various obstacles that may arise while writing. It doesn’t matter if your trying to write one paragraph or a full-length novel, we all have faced mountains while constructing our master pieces. What I’ve learned to make writing ideas flow from my mind to paper is to always keep writing tools (i.e. pen and paper) with me at all times. I literally purchased a half dozen small 5x7 60 sheet journals from Dollar Tree to help with this. I keep one journal in my purse and carry it with me everywhere.

Another thing I do is I keep word processing tools on all my devices. I have MS Word not only on my laptop but my Android phone and Kindle as well. This way, I can work on my projects any where no matter how small of a change or addition I need to make to one of my works. I do those updates in real time. MS Word is easy to download on most devices and sometimes for free, especially with the subscription to Office 365.

Writers block is a real problem for most writers. Still though, you cannot allow it to stop you from writing. My best advice is if you ae going through one of those times get up, walk away from the project and leave the premises. You could go for a walk, which is what I usually do. While you are on your walk pay attention to everything around you; the way the air smells, how the clouds form, what color the first person who passed you is wearing. You should try to formulate a story in you mind. When you get back to home write in your journal about what you witnessed on your walk. About a few hours later try to create a short scene about your walk. That little exercise should give you a break from the project and exercise not only, your body but your mind as well.

There are various writing obstacles that we all have faced at one time or other during our process. They include writing anxiety, procrastination, lack of confidence, lack of productivity, lack of motivation and even perfectionism. I will be looking at all these issues in future posts to try to give you some help along the way. We all have books to complete and get out in the world that could possibly help the next person.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Focus Lens: Black Panther, the Movie




As I sat there with tears rolling down my face listening to Killmonger utter his famous last words “Bury me in the ocean where my ancestors jumped from ships because they knew death was better than bondage” my mind raced while my heart ached. I wasn’t crying because the character was such a great person, he was indeed the villain in this poignant film. I was crying because Michael B. Jordan’s character embodied the unfortunate plight of the African American male in America. He represents everything that the African American man has faced and still faces as an orphan in a distant land where he has never been accepted.

Killmonger’s name itself tells you the essence of the man. He is in the market or trade to kill, destroy life. Now that is saying something. A man who’s only lot in life is to kill is who the writers of the comic book chose to be the representative of the African American male. He returned to the fairy tale land Wakanda to challenge the king and utopian nationalistic lifestyle he revered. Wakanda was the homeland he once fanaticized about returning to and being welcomed with open arms. Instead he was mocked and had to fight to claim his rightful place among his people.

His challenge was based on the fact that his father was murdered by the now king’s father, his uncle. He had a birthright to the throne and he fought to the death to claim it. Once he claimed it he had an intention to utilize the wealth, knowledge and technological advancements of the country to “free” displaced poor people all over the world, especially those of African descent. The theory was admirable, the execution not so much.

If I could pinpoint who he is, Killmonger would be the “nigga” that returned to Africa to destroy her. Now don’t get me wrong, his intentions were great but severely flawed. His hatred and anger clouded an otherwise honorable notion to free the world of poverty and oppression. His character could be studied by the academics for years to come giving them some light into what is the problem with the African American man? First things first, the man his too tired of the oppressive atmosphere he is surrounded by daily here in America. He is fed up with trying to fight for equality in a place where they do not even believe he is man. He is also weary of well doing when he could fight like Killmonger did and kill off those who threaten to end his inheritance. Not all African American men fall into the same category as this character so please stop thinking they do. However, the ones who are often forgotten and shunned now have a voice in Michael B. Jordan’s character.

All in all, the movie is a wonderful expression of our love for Africa and true desire to have our roots unearthed. Black Panther has already made history and is the first African American directed film to earn $1 billion worldwide. That is the power of my people. Still though, Disney owns it but is currently developing STEM programs for youth in our communities which is sorely needed today. That’s a step in the right direction. It just goes to show the world our art is valuable and can impact lives everywhere.


Monday, March 5, 2018

Giving the Real: Birthday Wish Come True?




Tomorrow I will be 42 years young, Lord willing. I am so happy to report that I am living life to the fullest and have survived every attack the enemy has thrown at me thus far. But no one really understands the reason why I am so excited. After I turned 30, I had it set in my mind that I was not going to make it to 40. I was very depressed and battling bipolar disorder, in and out of mental health wards across central Ohio. I had devised several plans on how to kill myself and the enemy had me bound. My mind was not right, and I was barely surviving for years.

Not only that, but when I turned 27 I was involved in a life-threatening car accident 10 days after my birthday. Even before then, when I was 21, I downed a half a bottle of sleeping pills then laid in my bed with the door blocked by my dresser listening to Anita Baker ready to die. I often wondered why all this centralized thought of destroying myself was even there. It didn’t matter what I did though, because God has a plan for my life and it shall come to pass no matter what I do.

One of the things I used to wish for when I was a little girl was to see my father for my birthday. I had the recurring fantasy that he would come back into our lives and everything would be alright with the world. However, when I came of age and had my first intimate encounter I remembered an awful atrocity that has framed my life and health since. I realized that I am a victim of CSA. My father was the perpetrator and it shook me to my core.

This past weekend, just 3 days before my birthday a stranger commented on one of my Facebook post that my biological father was searching for me and wanted to talk. Again, I was shaken to my core and went into a fit. However, I reached out to my brother and sister immediately to help me nullify the episode that the enemy was hell bent on putting me through yet again. My husband, mother and favorite aunt camped about me and prayed feverishly for my strength. To date, I am just fine and walking in the victory of my savior Jesus Christ.

As a child I wanted nothing more than to see my daddy for my birthday, but after I realized the horrific act he executed I did not want him in my life and my family protected me the best they could. Now don’t get me wrong, I have forgiven my father for his sins against me, but the wounds are still there and very present. They have affected every relationship I have ever been in, even the healthy one that I have with my husband of almost 4 years. However, I am not foolish nor willing to offer reconciliation currently in my life. He may not understand it or admit that he raped his own flesh and blood, but it’s my life and I must live it in the healthiest way I know how. I hold no ill will towards the man and often pray for his healing and redemption.

One day I may call him, just to finally hear his voice again. Until then, I will use my medium of writing to contact him. I hope my testimony will show other CSA survivors that life will go on. I have a degree is psychology from the Ohio State University and studied for a master’s degree in social work from Howard University. I am a published author, poet and song writer. I am married to a good man and every month I stay committed to taking the medication that helps me conquer bipolar disorder. I want CSA survivors to know it does and will get better and you do not have to be a victim forever. I am redeemed and finally free of the cloud of depression and self-hate that bewildered me for many years.

Now, I love who Toya Raylonn is, who she was and who she is becoming. I know that God loves me unconditionally and that my father here on earth is alive. That’s all a daughter can ask for considering the cards I was dealt with. My birthday wish was finally granted in a strange way and I’m glad about it. Still though, I am moving on and will continue to live my life in God’s peace.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Character Spotlight: Deborah Miller




Inside the short story Fool for Love, Deborah ‘Debbie’ Miller is the main character who loves God but has gotten impatient in her faith. She wants to be married, like yesterday. Although she knows that God has not forgotten about her, she still isn’t grown enough in her faith to be still and know that her husband in coming. To that end, she finds herself frustrated and lonely to the point that she starts searching for her husband in her own way. The problem with a woman seeking the husband is plain and simple: it is out of order. Why you ask, because it clearly states in Proverbs 18:22 “a man that findeth a wife findeth a good thing”. It didn’t say anything about a woman finding a husband.

Debbie doesn’t realize being out of order and allowing her flesh to dictate her actions will lead her down a treacherous road. When she meets Antonio his baritone voice puts her under his spell. If you allow the devil to speak to you, and you listen, you best believe nothing but trials and tribulations will follow. From day one she is put into a world of trouble and basically positions herself to be defiled.

She learns the hard way that allowing your flesh to take over your actions can cost you your life. Yet, there is a God who will never leave you. Even after we turn our backs away from Jesus he never leaves our side. God is still in control and working on her behalf. Debbie finally realizes that only God can give her the love that never fails.

This story was hard for me to write because I went through some the same trials Debbie faced first hand. Fool for Love is an inside look at one of the most tumultuous times in my life where I stopped walking in faith and faced calamitous consequences. Of course, names were change and the story was embellished a bit, but the story line is real. So, with that, I hope you look at Debbie before you step out of order and become the casualty of being a Fool for Love.



Check it out here:


Thursday, February 1, 2018

Fool for Love: An Inside Look




The story behind Fool for Love is based on actual events. Debbie, the main character of the short story, has been suffering from extreme bouts of loneliness and low self-esteem. Although she looks to God for her present help, a lonely night spent flirting on a chat line leads her down a treacherous road. When she meets Antonio, she doesn’t realize that he is the devil in disguise.

Debbie could be anybody out there who has ever been so lonely that they settle for the first person that shows them attention. She follows God, has a prayer life, and attends church frequently. She has friends, a close-knit family and a community surrounding her that she should be happy with. But she has gotten bored with life and wonders where is her Boaz. Due to increasing desires of her flesh, she turns her back on God and falls into the trap set by the devil with Antonio.

Her misery begins the first time she meets Antonio, but she still won’t turn back into the arms of the Lord. Unfortunately, several disheartening events take place that eventually put her life in harms way before she finally returns to Jesus. Debbie remembers that God’s love is deeper and more everlasting than any man’s. She learns to love herself first with the help of her family, friends and health professionals.

Sometimes we become a fool for love when we allow our flesh to take over. The devil can really throw you into a pit when that happens. Often it takes a life-threatening incident to make us realize the real love God has for us. Still though, there is always hope that He will always love us, despite all our shortcomings.

Check it out here:
Fool For Love


Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Character Spotlight: Tracey Ann Simmons


My first novel, Dimes, Profiles, and Wives opens showing you the life of Tracey Ann Simmons. I developed this character arc based on my past life as well as the lives of close friends and acquaintances. She is the dime piece in the story.

What is a dime piece you say? She’s that "it" girl, the girl every man wants on their arm. Tracey's a vixen who knows how to use her beauty to conquer men. The problem with this type of woman is she’s just for play. No man really wants the “it” girl as a wife unless he’s willing to deal with all the other men chasing her as well as her whorish ways.

A dime piece type of woman is riddled with self esteem issues and likened to Gomer from the book of Hosea in the Bible. She thinks the only way to get and keep a man is by using her body. Sex is a weapon and she knows how to use it well. She’ll even prostitute herself out to get whatever she wants.

In the book Tracey has a good man on the hook, Charles “Chucky” Alexander Pryor Jr. Still though, she can’t have just one man, especially one as boring as an accountant. Throughout the story and series, you’ll find out what it takes for her to become a Proverbs 31 good wife. Will she finally grow into a woman of virtue or remain a piece of change?

Check out the book here:
Dimes, Profiles, and Wives

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Dimes, Profiles, and Wives: An Inside Look

     You may be wondering what is the meaning behind the title Dimes, Profiles and Wives? A dime, or dime piece, sounds simple enough right. Hip hop artists always want one in their stable and most women with perfect hourglass bodies fit the bill. But who is this woman really?  She’s the kind of girl that pretty much can get any type of man she wants with little or no effort. Shoot, all she needs to do is walk out of the house and somebody, somewhere is gonna take notice.  She’s that it girl, the girl everyone wants to get with. A man could spend a lifetime dating these types of women only to realize she is never gonna just be with him alone.  She may have him, Charlie and Tim wide open and none of them is the guy she really wants. When she finally does decide to settle down though, her man will always be satisfied.

           So when was I a dime? I’d have to say during my late teens early twenties.  Shoot, I had so many men chasing after me I had to hide from them.  I remember a few times while I was a student at OSU having two dates in one night.  How I got through those nights was a wonder, but I did it effortlessly it seemed.  That was until they both showed up at my dorm one night.  I had to get some help from my girlfriends, but I got out of that dilemma pretty much intact. Still though, I wouldn’t recommend that to anybody, male or female, young or old.
           The second type of woman is the profile chick or the trophy.   You know her, she keeps a list of what she wants from a man and sticks to it. She will not date anyone who does not fill her application for love.  This is the girl that men love and hate.  She is the woman always telling a man they will never measure up to the type of man she deserves, even though  she’s staring her Boaz right in the face. This girl is a trip and a half because she wears a thick mask that nobody has been able to remove.  But she got her stuff together, on paper.  She’s that independent woman who most times finds herself alone because no one can satisfy her long list of superficial desires.
     
     I found out that I could be this mess of woman too.  In my late twenties, to early thirties I had a list nobody could meet.  One came close though and we still remain friends to this day, from a distance.  Back then he was the only man to come close to meeting my every inclination, yet we did not end up together.  Meeting the criteria and being the one you are supposed to marry is not the same thing.  I found this out the hard way. However, it was a lovely relationship, so close and yet so far away.
       
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Then there is the wife.  She is the ideal Proverbs 31:10-31 woman of virtue from the Bible that all men should want to make his own.  This woman is the kind of woman men want to bring home to meet their mother and keep for a mate.  She is not a dime or profile. She is not easy, fake or a door mat.  No, she is the woman who has been preparing herself to be the wife a man needs to get through life with as a help meet.  She knows God, follows after His heart and shows true wisdom.  She is full grown, healed and whole.
        
        I prayed, prepared and changed the broken woman that I was to become a Proverbs 31 good wife for years. Now I can say I am married to a Godly man who I waited for patiently and actively. We have been together for over three years and our love continues to grow daily. Becoming a good wife was a hard path to follow, but I continue to walk on it daily. I want to share the lives of three young women who live the their lives as one of these types of women: Dimes, Profiles and Wives. As you turn the pages of my premier book I hope it will keep you intrigued and praying that you become the latter in God’s timing.


Check out my first novel here:
Dimes, Profiles, and Wives