Sometimes a good book really is all you need. They have the power to transform, take your mind off of troubles, whisk you to fantasy lands, and even if for a mere hour, allow you peek into the intimate details of someone else’s life. So we’re saluting the authors who keep us on the edge of our seats and leave us wanting more–sharing with you our favorite scribes who put pen to paper and uplift voices for the unheard.
Clutch: Who or what inspired you to become a writer?
AL: My mother always urged my brothers and me to use our imagination to create toys, school projects, artwork, cards, and poems. As a result, I developed a passion for making handmade cards with artwork and poetry. I gave them to family and friends. They always offered positive feedback about my creative efforts and encouraged me to pursue and share my talents with others. My poetry writing blossomed in junior high and high school. In my senior year, my Advanced Placement English teacher convinced me to submit one of my poems to a poetry contest sponsored by Prince George’s County Public Library. To my surprise, it won and was included in a collection of poetry by local high school students. This honor showed me that I was a writer.
Clutch: If you weren’t a writer, what do you think you would be doing?
AL: I would use my legal training to serve creative folks as an intellectual property and digital media attorney.
Clutch: In your opinion, what’s the one thing one must possess if they want to become a professional writer?
AL: The passion to write.
Clutch: How has the Internet and Social Media helped you as a writer?
AL: The Internet is a major research tool that I use to develop my novels and artwork for my book covers. It grants me unlimited, free access to places, people, and information that are located all over the world. It is one of my best writing friends!
Social media has allowed me to develop brand awareness as an author. It is the foundation for my cost-effective marketing strategy that supports my books, products, and healing arts services (i.e. yoga, mediation, Reiki healing touch, and expressive arts). Most of the social media that I use is free or less than $20 per month. Examples include social networking sites (i.e. Facebook, Myspace, Linkedin, and numerous Ning.com sites), blogs (i.e. Blogspot.com) and microblogging tools such as Twitter and Utterz, content sharing through AddThis, podcasts and Internet radio shows (i.e. Gabcast.com, Gcast.com, and Talkshoe.com), inexpensive web site hosting (i.e. Register.com), YouTube videos, Flckr photo sharing, and Meetup groups. These tools have helped me:
1) Learn what it means to be both a writer and life entrepreneur
2) Join writing organizations and online communities for creative support
3) Develop and nurture a reader audience
4) Produce positive media coverage in electronic and print media
5) Participate in book readings and signings
6) Increase book sales
7) Generate new clients for my healing arts services
8) Build information sharing online communities of like-minded people
9) Identify volunteer opportunities to share my gifts
One of my greatest social media experiences was attending the first Blogging While Brown Conference held in July 2008. This experience exposed me to new social media tools and created so many connections with social media professionals and enthusiasts. It also inspired me to continue growing as a writer, entrepreneur, and social media adventurista.
Clutch: Tell us about your current book?
Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (iUniverse, Inc. – August 2007) is a Lorraine Hansberry-inspired novel that tells the story of Karma Francois, a thirty something Oakland-born BoHo B.A.P. (Bohemian Black American Princess) with Louisiana and urban debutante flair. The novel begins with Karma’s life in an uproar. Her relationships and the museum curator career that she struggled to form in New York City have crumbled, leaving no viable options to rebuild. Relocating to Washington, DC, Karma struggles with denial, depression, and debt. A lack of full-time employment opportunities forces her to craft a gypsy existence as a Jill of Many Trades: yoga teacher, art consultant, and freelance curator at Howard University Gallery of Art. Unable and unwilling to appreciate this job as gifts, she wallows in a pool of lost identity-and doesn’t see a way to keep from drowning. When she looks in the mirror, Karma sees a woman whose choices have dishonored her true character. Now, for the first time in her life, Karma must learn to see herself for who she really is.
Clutch: What advice would you give to up and coming writers?
AL: They should develop the capacity to surrender their egos to the creative process, maintain an open heart, learn and practice patience, and be open to constructive criticism. They should also read and write regularly. Some of the books they read should address writing. I think they should share their work publicly with others by blogging, submitting their work to magazines and e-zines, attending writing classes and workshops, and participating in writing groups. In addition, they should assemble a team of support that includes cheerleaders, editors, coaches, teachers, and mentors.