Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Authors On The Rise is proud to bring you an interview from author Roy L. Pickering Jr. He is the author of, Feeding The Squirrels and Patches Of Grey. He is also the author of many short stories: Proverbs For The People (Kensington Books), Role Call (Third World Press), The Game: Short Stories About Life (Triple Crown Publications), and Prose to be Read Aloud, volume one.
Dee Dee: When did you write your first book, and how long did it take you to complete?
Roy: My first attempt at a novel was undertaken when I was in high school. I abandoned it after a few chapters but showed enough commitment to convince myself that I had full novels in me some day. This was later proven when I completed Patches of Grey. The first draft took me a couple of years to finish as it was written while I was first a full time college student and then a full time working stiff. I continue to be a student of life with a 9-5 gig. Patches then went through a substantial amount of revising over the course of a year as the literary agent who represented me submitted it and obtained feedback from various publishers. After parting ways with my agent and having grown weary of the pursuit of publication, I put my novel aside for awhile and returned my focus to something I enjoy far more than the query and submission process – writing. Much changed in the world of publishing as I worked on novel # 2. Self publishing rapidly grew as a viable alternative to the traditional route, as did the number of success stories that resulted from it, and what had once been something I held my nose up at transformed into an acceptable option. I knew I would eventually get back into the hunt for an agent and publisher once my second novel was done, but in the meantime rather than letting Patches of Grey collect dust as a manuscript in a drawer, I decided to put things in motion towards the day when people beyond a select few would have the opportunity to read it. Last year I reached the end of my journey, at last holding a printed copy of my first novel in hand. Since then I’ve learned that it wasn’t really the end of a journey, but the beginning.
Dee Dee: Several of your short stories have been published in anthologies. Please tell us about them?
Roy: I’ve written somewhere between 50 and 100 short stories over the past couple decades. They have been published by a wide variety of print and online publications. As you noted, several of them have appeared in anthologies. It is often the case when I find out about an anthology seeking submissions that there is a theme to it. I like to write on a wide variety of topics and in a range of styles. Therefore no matter what the theme is, a story or two of mine frequently fits the bill. The Game: Short Stories About the Life sought gritty, urban stories and they accepted two tales of mine that can be described as such. Prose to Read Aloud is an anthology put together specifically for students who enter competitions. As the title indicates, the stories chosen would potentially be read aloud at such competitions rather than silently to yourself, so I evaluated my body of work with this in mind and submitted a piece that fit the criteria. Most recently one of my short stories appeared in Ménage à 20 which is an anthology of “tales with a hook”, as in a surprise ending. I had plenty of pieces to choose from since one of my earliest short story writing influences was the master of the twist ending – O. Henry. On occasion I will write a new story specifically for an anthology. An example is the one I wrote for Proverbs for the People. Each story in it was to be inspired by an African proverb, so first I selected a proverb and then I wrote a tale with it in mind.
Dee Dee: Which do you enjoy writing more: short stories, novels, or other?
Roy: As a young man I believed that I would probably write novels but not short stories because all of my ideas seemed far too big to fit into short story format. I subsequently learned that I was capable of story ideas of various sizes, with short stories being much easier and taking far less time to write obviously. If I was only allowed to write one or the other I would go with novels, but fortunately I don’t need to make such a choice and enjoy jumping back and forth. I’ve also traveled the middle road and written a novella that is published exclusively in electronic format by SynergEbooks. I’ve yet to jump on the ebook bandwagon as a consumer but I certainly don’t mind if that’s the way someone ends up reading my stuff. Feeding the Squirrels is about 60 pages long and basically was written as a literary experiment. Each chapter of it is a story unto itself, independent of the others but sharing a narrator. It was assembled as a series of short stories appearing in no particular order. In the end I decided to tie up the various loose ends for it to read as a single cohesive story. The experience was a rather interesting hybrid of short story and novel length writing.
Dee Dee: How do you go about creating your characters and plots? Do you start with the character or the plot?
Roy: I’m not sure I can put into words how I go about creating characters and plots. They simply appear in my mind, sometimes when I’m trying to conjure them, other times when I’m not. Then comes the hard part - taking the story from my head and effectively placing it on paper. Character and plot tend to be conceived simultaneously, although it is also fairly common for plot to come first, after which I make decisions about the characters who will be put through its paces. Far less frequently if ever do I have a character in mind first and then try to figure out a storyline to put him or her in.
Dee Dee: What aspects of your own life are woven into your books?
Roy: Many aspects of my life are woven into the stories I write. For example, the setting of Patches of Grey is the Bronx, NY where I happen to have grown up. I'm more of a write what you know kind of author than the kind whose books show off the extensive amount of research I've done. Although I haven’t to date written fictionalized accounts of incidents that happened to me or to someone I know, I’m constantly borrowing elements from my day to day, especially in novel length material where so many details are required to flesh out the various characters. So I'll borrow a physical characteristic here, a personality trait there. I do not write formulaic stories within a genre that don’t have anything in particular to say about the world but are merely trying to entertain within the parameters set by the formula. Nor do I write with intent to hammer readers over the head with a message of personal conviction. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. My goal is always to engage readers with a narrative that has them caring for the characters and wondering what will happen next, choosing favorites, taking sides, becoming involved with the story just as I love to be when I’m absorbed by a great book. The plots of my stories frequently revolve around social issues of importance and interest to me, yet I avoid being preachy. Very little of what I write could be described as light-weight brain candy that doesn’t nudge readers to form opinions or re-evaluate what they thought they believed. I strive to make readers think about things that often roll around in my head, so in that regard there is often an autobiographical element to my writing. But I don’t neatly provide answers as I see them to be. Instead I utilize the plot to pose questions for people to ponder for themselves.
Dee Dee: Do you have a favorite character from one of your books or short stories? Why is that person one of your favorite characters?
Roy: I wouldn’t say that I have a favorite character, except perhaps that whatever I’m currently working on tends to be my favorite story and set of characters at that time. But I suppose a few characters stick for longer than others. One who comes to mind is from a short story entitled Harry. He is a homeless man who has decided he has nothing to live for and no hope for a brighter future, so he intends to commit suicide, only he finds that can’t muster the courage to end his life any more than he can summon the drive to improve it. Another character who has popped into my head now that I’m thinking about it is a teenager from a small town who is treated as an outcast in large part because he is an albino, leading to dire consequences in my story Crosses to Bear. The narcissism of the narrator in Feeding the Squirrels necessitated that I explore this aspect of my own nature to create him, making for an interesting writing experience. The longer I think about this question the more characters will come to mind, and you only asked for one, so I’ll stop here.
Dee Dee: What advice would you give to a struggling author right now?
Roy: Marry well above your station, of course. All kidding aside, I recently wrote a blog entry called Advice for Aspiring Authors - http://lineaday.blogspot.com/2010/04/advice-for-aspiring-authors.html - so pretty much anything I can think to say on the subject can be found there. The final line is: “You want to write…write”. Along with reading (a lot, and plenty of variety rather than sticking to a genre or to a small set of favorite authors), there is no more effective way to improve your craft. And in theory, the better you write the better your chances are of getting a lucrative publishing contract and becoming an overnight literary sensation. Unfortunately it rarely works out quite so neatly. Many authors will learn that arduous writing is the relatively easy part, to be followed by promotion and promotion and promotion. Being a PR person comes more easily to some than others, and some have more money and time to put into it than others, but it’s a necessity in situations where Oprah is not so kind as to recommend your book to her faithful followers.
Dee Dee: What is one thing you wished you knew before you published your first book?
Roy: I wish I knew that I’m not a particularly good editor, especially of my own writing. I needed to weed out a fair amount of errors before going back on press with a corrected reprinting of Patches of Grey. It can be drudgery to seek out those little errors you made that managed to elude Spell Check, but it is part of the process and no segment can be glossed over if your goal is to put out a book you can be proud of.
Dee Dee: How much input do you get from fans and critics? Do they influence your writing?
Roy: Early on as a student and then a fledgling writer I did a fair amount of workshopping with my fiction. From time to time someone would provide a useful tip, but for the most part I’ve always had great confidence in my own voice and tended to overrule suggestions and stick to my guns. I know what I want to say and how I wish to say it. Therefore I don’t overly concern myself with rules and guidelines, because for the most part I don’t see them as having much place in the writing process. I do believe you should be aware of them, if only so when you break them you realize that’s what you’re doing. But there are an infinite number of ways to tell a story and get your points across, and my focus has always been on figuring them out for myself rather than seeking advice on the best way to go about it. Does this sound arrogant? Perhaps it is. In order to bare your soul on paper and then lay it out to be dissected by strangers a certain amount of arrogance is probably required. If you are easily humbled you won’t stay in the writing business for long. If rejection and criticism tears you up, find something else to do with your talents. I may not get much input from readers during the writing process but do love to hear from and interact with those who have read my work. Patches of Grey has received numerous wonderful reviews, not only from reviewers with book blogs but also from bookworms who read it and posted their thoughts on Amazon or at GoodReads.com, or who have sent me emails saying how much they enjoyed it and how thought provoking they found it to be.
Dee Dee: What is your latest book release? Do you have plans for another book or short story?
Roy: I am nearing the end of the first draft of my second novel – Matters of Convenience. An excerpt from it can be found on my blog - http://lineaday.blogspot.com/2009/04/brief-excerpt-from-first-draft-of-novel.html. If I stick to schedule it should be in final form by year’s end. Sometime between now and then I’ll need to plant the seed for novel # 3. An upcoming project that I’m looking forward to is videotaping a reading from Patches of Grey. I am just about ready for my YouTube close-up. If it goes well, in addition to the print and ebook versions that are currently available for purchase perhaps I’ll produce an audio version of Patches as well.
Dee Dee: What do you want your legacy to be?
Roy: That I had something to say and chose not to keep my mouth shut.
Dee Dee: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with us. Continue to inspire. Be Blessed!
Roy's ten favorite things:
Restaurant: Olive Tree in Greenwich Village, NYC
Social networking site: Twitter - twitter.com/AuthorofPatches
Season – Summer
Favorite past time: Playing tennis
Elementary school teacher: My fourth grade teacher Mr. Moachio comes to mind. He wasn’t my best teacher. In fact, he was probably the worst and was fired several years after I was in his class. But memorable, that’s for sure, and I’m a big fan of memorable.
Color: I’ll say grey (with the English spelling) since it’s in the title of my novel.
CD: Kind of Blue by Miles Davis
Dessert: Tres leches cake
Favorite place to relax: The beach, preferably in the Caribbean
City or state: “The true New Yorker secretly believes that people living anywhere else have to be, in some sense, kidding.” ~ John Updike
Some links: http://www.RoyPickering.net - my web site http://lineaday.blogspot.com - my blog
http://www.synergebooks.com/ebook_feedingthesquirrels.html - my novella Feeding the Squirrels
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0578005816/ref=nosim/porfessionalp4-20 - print version of Patches of Grey
http://www.amazon.com/Patches-of-Grey-ebook/dp/B0039PU9X6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1267023916&sr=1-1 - Kindle version
Monday, April 5, 2010
Authors On The Rise is happy to bring you an interview with Author M.G. Hardie, who is known for his realness and speaking on taboo topics most won't.
Hardie is regarded as one of the foremost American minds for Real Political Analyst and Social Commentary. Hardie is known as an expert on Race, Pop-Culture, and Hip-Hop. He is a public intellectual, visionary, and student of human nature. He advocates equality, social justice, and personal responsibility. Hardie's debut book,EveryDay Life, was named The Best Kept Literary Secret of 2008 as well as winning a Reader Views Literary award in Humor and a Afr'Am Literary award for Urban Title of the Year 2009.
Dee Dee: When did you first start writing?
M.G: I began writing in high school. I am a poet by nature-something that really comes out in my newest book, It Ain't Just The Size.
Dee Dee: Why did you write your books,Everyday Life and It Ain't Just The Size?
M.G: I wrote EveryDay Life to give real men a voice in the market. I wrote It Ain't Just The Size because I was tired of hearing that blacks don't read, black literature has little value, men don't have feelings, or that black women are hated. I had enough of the one sided discussions between men and women. So I wrote these books to help people, to bring people together and to bring about a greater understanding. And because my new book is filled with truth, it can be a tool that can help people approach those difficult discussions.
Dee Dee: How do you come up with the ideals for your stories?
M.G: For my new book I spoke to and had discussions with various people and then I interweaved truth into the story. All of my stories and characters are based on things that have occurred in the lives of real people, but as I drive the story the characters confront some really tough issues. The situations discussed in the book actually occurred.
Dee Dee: What sets you apart from other writers/authors?
M.G: I think that all writers are unique. It Ain't Just The Size tackles some very tough questions, questions that no one else will touch. I am trying something new, and bringing something different to the literary table. I packed my new book with all kinds of literary goodness because times are hard, so I decided to give the reader more bang for their buck. When a reader finishes reading It Ain't Just The Size, not only will they be treated to a great love story, but at the same time they will get some great poetry as well, plus they will be compelled to go out and pick up about 20 other books to read.
Dee Dee: What do you want people to take away after finishing your books?
M.G: I want people to feel entertained, empowered, and have a better understanding of themselves and people they may be in a relationship with. To understand that men do not hate women, that men do not want to be single, that men have feelings, that men can and want to love. I want readers to see what happens when men and women finally start being really honest with themselves. And that each of us needs to be our own advocate, we can make a difference, we do matter.
Dee Dee: What words of advice do you have for aspiring authors?
M.G: Write your emotions out and study your craft.
Dee Dee: What advice would you give to authors struggling with rejection?
M.G: Be persistence and continue to strive toward your goal.
Dee Dee: Have you ever suffered from writers block?
Dee Dee: Yes I have.
Dee Dee: How did you get over it?
M.G: Oh, that answer is in the new book and it will surprise you.
Dee Dee: When do you like to write?
M.G: You can always find me with post-its in my pockets, or jotting down lines on the cell phone. You never know when inspiration may strike.
Dee Dee: What aspects of writing do you like and hate the most?
M.G: I love being creative, painting pictures and molding sentences.
But I hate the publishing process. The Cover, the editing, the racialism, and the politics of the business.
Dee Dee: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us. We wish you much success with your books! Be Blessed!
M.G's 10 favorite things:
Color: Brown and Blue
T.V Sitcom: Martin, Seinfeld,
C.D. The Chronic
Food: Anything with Barbecue
Drink: White Russian
Favorite Past-time: Playing Basketball, Poetry, Comedy, Speaking, Activism
Book: The Cartoon History of the World
Clothing: Casual, Sports clothes
Movie: The Lion King
City: San Francisco
Motto: There's no such thing, as too much Truth.
It Ain't Just The Size
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Authors On The Rise is pleased to bring you an interview with Shalonda “Treasure Williams- a woman of purpose. We are proud to interview her and talk about her mission, upcoming books, and her ten favorite things.
Dee Dee: When did you write your first book? What inspired you to write it?
Shalonda: I began writing a few books, lol. But, the first book to see publication was written in 2007. This was "Love Walk Meditations: Back To The Basics". What inspired me to write this book was My Great Creator. There has always been something on the inside of me that's loved to help uplift others. My conclusion was that God had placed it there since my beginning, so as I watched others touch with words, I felt compelled to do it as well. In my own way and with what God gave me.
Dee Dee: What message do you want people to take away after reading one of your books?
Shalonda: A message of love and hope. The first two books were all about one group of people; the Christian body. However, the more God grows me up the more my heart is touched for the masses of hurting people. I asked to see others the way God does and I was so moved by what I saw when I got my head out of the clouds. People hurt, people need comfort and uplifting. I was born to do that and that's what they should feel when they are done reading one of my books.
Dee Dee: Which of your books is your favorite and why?
Shalonda: Currently, I have a favorite in formatting and I have a favorite in message. "A Heart's Thoughts" is my baby because I put it all together from beginning to end and it was the one I self-published first. I am so proud. I love my approach in it as well and the message it gives. I love "PurposeFull You" because it is the start of who I am as a complete person. A motivator and a lover of people. Now, to be totally honest, I believe that the one that is turning out to be my most favorite is the one that I will release on April 30th entitled "Let's 'GO'. It is a combination of the two. Self published with such a powerful message, filled with care but TRUTH!
Dee Dee: How long does it take you to write a book?
Shalonda: It honestly depends on how focused I am on that particular project. The times vary seeing as I'm never working on one thing at a time. LOL!
Dee Dee: You speak a lot on purpose, do you believe everyone has one?
Shalonda: I do! I do! I do! If I could marry that thought, I would. Why? Because, when a person is helped to understand how vital the "smallest" role is, the better off we all are. When a person is made to see that what they bring to the table is needed, they do their part with a whole lot more excellence. The camera person is just as important as the news anchor. If it weren't for the one doing the taping, who would see the anchor. Yes, everyone is purposed to play their role and do it BIG!!
Dee Dee: Do you think people are born writers or is it something that can be taught?
Shalonda: Both. I have always had a natural ability with writing certain things. However, there are others that have learned the formula for writing and have made great strides. Now, writing something that is so dynamic that it takes the world by storm, takes a little of both.
Dee Dee: Name three people who inspired you/Why?
Shalonda: Tyler Perry and others like him- Because I listened to his story and I admire how a man can spend his savings on a project that flops and then pick his self right back up and keep pushing.
Jesus(Yashua) - After learning more about him, I realize the message that he was purposed to give us. I can recognize what I possess. I can love everyone without bias or judgment, because that's what he did.
My mom(Agnes) - She worked, she gave, but most of all she remained humble. People took who she was as a sign that they could run her over but she stood and remained a woman that didn't let others steal her cheerfulness.
Dee Dee: What inspires you to continue writing?
Shalonda: The fact that there are so many more that need to read what God births out of me. Everything I write will not be for everyone, but those who are feeling it, was meant to read it and it is meant to change their lives.
Dee Dee: Finish this sentence: People would be surprised to find out I am...
Shalonda: Very mushy. LOL! Everyone sees this no nonsense woman. That part of me is real. But, so is the fact that I cry at the drop of a dime. Especially when I'm fighting for a cause.
Dee Dee: Where do you hope to be with your writing ten years from now?
Shalonda: I will have at least ten best sellers. I see myself standing behind the table at one of my seminars and conferences, signing books with a message that is true to each individual. I do that even now. I pray for a message for each individual that will speak volumes to their heart and circumstance.
Dee Dee: Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to speak with us. We wish you much success. Continue to inspire! Be Blessed!
Holiday - Christmas
Animal - A cat by the name of Mickey
Plant - Bradford Pear (A tree that changes from flowers to spring leaves to fall leaves. Cool!)
Movie - SO Many. I love a lot (Brown Sugar, Philadelphia, Green Mile, The Notebook, etc.)
Song - "India's Song" "Praise Him In Advance" "Our God is An Awesome God" "I Am Not My Hair"
Actor - Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington & actresses - Angela Basset & Ceciley Tyson
Teacher when you were in school - Mrs. Morgan from 6th grade
Spiritual quote - "No weapon formed against thee shall prosper"
Dessert - Hot Dutch Apple Pie and Vanilla Ice Cream
Car - JEEP Commander
Bio: Author, Life Coach & Motivational Speaker, Shalonda "Treasure" Williams, was born in Savannah, GA in 1981. Now the privileged mother of four, she comes from a line up of eleven siblings. As the youngest, Shalonda has decided to break out and live with a cap of purpose that is to help lift other to the 'GO' position. That is the position of Get Over to Get On with life. Shalonda is the author of three published works. Including two in her Love Walk Meditations Series and the starter to her Love Walk Motivation Series. In her upcoming books, this author will journey with those that need her slight nudging into knowing just how purposed and powerful they are. Shalonda is the Founder and Owner of Love Walk Motivation Services where her mission is to uplift and motivate through the power of love and compassion.
Other Info: If you have ever desired to be a motivator or a writer or even if you are seasoned, please feel free to enter the Motivating Yourself In Just 21 Days Contest. Get the details at http://shalondatreasurewilliams.webs.com/contestrules.htm
Feel Free To Listen To Shalonda on Motivation For Today Blogtalk Radio. Visit http://blogtalkradio.com/motivationfortoday for show times and dates. Listen to the upcoming shows for your chance to be entered to win an autographed copy of "Let's 'GO': Get Over to Get On With Life".
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