So I was contacted two weeks ago for an interview with VoyageATL Magazine and today the interview went live. What a way to kick off bday month!
You can check out the interview at the link below.
So I was contacted two weeks ago for an interview with VoyageATL Magazine and today the interview went live. What a way to kick off bday month!
You can check out the interview at the link below.
Title: The Cursed Queen: Mystical Tales Series 1
Author: Carlo Ocaya
Publishing: Coming June 19, 2019
*I was gifted a copy of this book from the author*
The Cursed Queen is part of Ocaya’s Mystical Tales series, a fantasy, mystery novel full of adventure and magic. The story takes place on a hidden Island called Ophen and the world is reminiscent of Bright; the movie starring Will Smith, where humans, orcs, elves, and fairies co-exist. In this book, there are short people called Hervecs, big, colorful skinned people called Broncords, animal people called Naiths, and magical people called Elves.
Yuna Queenertia has just awakened from a coma and does not understand who she is or where she is. She lives with a woman named Marianna Waterglow, who calls herself Granny, a woman named Anna and her daughter Samantha, who everyone calls Sam. Sam is hilarious and I enjoyed how the author has developed her character. (I admit I liked her better than Yuna. She just seemed more real to me, like a real little girl.) I enjoyed the tension surrounding Yuna’s confusion about who she is and why she is not allowed out of her room. The anticipation makes you want to keep reading. We soon discover that Yuna has silver hair and that because of this hair she is cursed. The people throw stones at her and treat her badly. As the book progresses, we follow Yuna, Sam, and their family on a journey of self-discovery as Yuna searches for her memories. We are taken back to her childhood for some backstory, introduced to more interesting characters with interesting abilities and discover many twists as secrets are revealed.
I do wish there was more that tied in with Yuna’s hair though. A lot is revealed but I felt that it became more about the Wraiths (a terrorist group in the magical realm), than it was about Yuna’s discovery. I would have liked for the story to dig deeper into the history behind people with silver hair more than it did. But, this is just book one so who knows what Ocaya’s got up his sleeves! I think it’s fascinating to depict someone with this hair as someone who is cursed because normally gray and silver hair is indicative of someone with wisdom.
I can see this book as a movie and would recommend it to young adults. I just feel like children would love it. Yuna’s History and Tradition teacher, for instance, is a Hervec with a long mustache that reaches to the floor, a long robe and glasses. I think this would be funny to see on the screen. Then there’s the funny little fairy Yuna and Sam meets in search for Anna. I can’t tell you much else without spoiling the book, but there’s a youthful, fun, innocence about this book that I love. Although the anticipation of Yuna discovering her memories wrecked my nerves (lol), this was a fun, adventurous read.
Plot Movement / Strength: 4/5
Entertainment Factor: 5/5
Authenticity / Believable: 5/5
Thought Provoking: 4 /5
Overall Rating: 4 / 5
Carlo Ocaya was born and raised from the island called Saipan (No, not Spain, Saipan). Staying within his hometown for the first 19 years, he decided to join the Marine Corps and was sent to the U.S. mainland in California.
During his time in the military, Carlo began writing his first few drafts of the Mystical Tales series. He got the idea of his first book by the thought of his home. The setting of the island was meant to contain similar features as his homeland with the people and settings slightly altered. His adventure towards the states is what has created and developed his future ideas on books.
He went to school overnight in order to study the basics of writing and further his knowledge on grammar and literature. It wasn’t until the next few years that he gained the confidence to publish the book.
Independent and thriving, Carlo uses his knowledge from software engineering class to further develop his website into what it is now. He continues to further his education by learning the tricks and trade at San Diego Mesa College.
Now residing in Santa Ana, California, he stays with his brother and goes to school full time. Carlo hopes to partake in future book events and display his writing, skills, and books to others.
His first book, Mystical Tales: The Cursed Queen, will be featured within LA Times Festival of Books and San Francisco Bay Area Book Festival.
My name is Sophia Tsegaye; I am an Ethiopian American living in Cincinnati, Ohio. I was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
I published my first book “She Is My Mommy!” in March 2019 through CreateSpace. Holding my book for the first time was rewarding. Carrying a task to completion was my first goal, and I felt fulfilled. It has kindled the desire and the strength to go forward with my second book. And now I am working on my third one.
I am married to a wonderful and supportive husband for the last fifteen years.
Yes. I have three awesome boys, ages 14, 12 and 3.
Growing up, one of my many challenges was speaking up. Both in Middle and High school, I was known for being timid and introvert. It continued well into my graduate class. For example, I would know the answer to a question, or want to voice my opinion, but could not make myself to say something. It was like being present and absent at the same time.
Later on, I realize that the only thing that was holding from communicating was the fear of making mistakes.
Now, I know that making mistakes is all right, you learn from them and move forward.
Living a simple life, being grateful and exercising kindness make my life easier. I try to see the positive in people. I believe that it is wise to listen to your conscious before you speak. We often forget that a calmer tone conveys a message more effectively. I think that we all have the choice to decide whether to make our life easy or difficult. It is a choice we need to make every day. If you always feel you are a victim and everybody is onto you, then you will remain a victim of your own conscious.
If you do not control your temper, you will be treated as the perpetrator even if you are on the right.
If you are not kind, then you will miss the heart-warming reward that you get from it.
The most difficult thing as a writer is writer’s block.
The most exciting thing is when you are in that creative zone, and you have no control over your writing.
When I write, I let myself go to places I have not visited for a long time. I navigate through my thought and dig deep into the desire to correct the wrong, to encourage the weak, to give a voice to the timid, and the like.
I want to show the reader that she or he is not alone in any circumstance. Happiness, fear, triumph, sadness, friendliness, and depression are a part of life. Therefore, what we need to do is find a way to fix the problem. In my books, I encourage children to learn to ask for help.
I love making pieces of jewelry and cooking.
Unfortunately, bullying is a real and dangerous issue. I try to focus on this issue in my books and demonstrate the effects it can bring.
My boys have experienced bullying, and I have also heard of various incidents in the school. I have seen firsthand how bullying can break the spirit of a fun loving and active child.
As a parent, we should teach our kids empathy at an early age. If we see our child push another child, we should be able to explain that it is wrong.
We have to encourage our kids to communicate with us, or the school personnel if they feel unsafe or overwhelmed. Schools have councilors, and they should use these resources.
And I urge parents to listen to their kids. If a kid voices concern then parents should intervene immediately.
Yes, I would visit the past if I could. Would I give some advice to my young self and try to change the past? I do not think so, because those experiences made me the person I am today.
I would advise my younger self to trust her instinct and be comfortable in her own skin. And of course, tell her to take it easy, enjoy life, and laugh more.
Sophia E Tsegaye, is a stay-at-home mom, with three boys who keep her busy. She’s a children’s book writer, living in Cincinnati, Ohio.
I enjoy listening to what happens in school. Every day, my boys will come home with new stories, but unfortunately, not all are pleasant. I use their stories as a learning experience, and I guess this is how my books were born.
Many little kids are fascinated by school buses and animals. Hence I chose to have a school bus and animals as the characters.
There are different approaches to explain to kids about being unique, being different and being accommodating, so I try to bring these issues through my books.
The first book “She Is My Mommy!” is about transracial adoption, and the second book “Your Jokes Are Not Funny!” is about bullying.
Kids can be simple and yet complex. They ask us complex questions and are satisfied with the simplest explanation.
I believe in teaching kids empathy at a tender age.
You can reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
This is the time of the year where we step back and analyze where we are and where we want to be. The time where we consider if the goals, we set at the beginning of the year have been realized and if there are any changes or improvements that need to be made. This is also the time of the year when I share with you the lessons I’ve learned from the year. Usually, I do this closer to the end of the month but my family is moving so things are busy around these parts. Last year, I had an entire list of lessons learned. This year, I only have one.
December is when I do a lot of reflection. An entire year has passed. What changed? What remained? What needs to be added onto or removed? 2018 has been filled with amazing growth for me personally as well as professionally. At the end of 2017, I was celebrating my move to Georgia and one of my books in a brick and mortar bookstore. At the end of 2018, four of my twelve books are in three bookstores and I’ve just purchased my first home. I attribute this to learning one valuable lesson. A lesson that I do not think we ever stop learning but that gets easier the more we love ourselves, a lesson that I’ve learned and that I will keep learning, a lesson that has changed my mentality and thus also, the way I do things. To further illustrate this point, let me first tell you about an experiment.
Named after Solomon Asch, the Asch Conformity Study was meant to study conformity in people (how we behave according to other people’s desires and standards) and was conducted in the 1950s. The participants were shown three lines on a piece of paper and a fourth line. The participants had to simply match one of the three lines with the fourth line. Most of the people were accomplices in on the study with only one or two real participants. According to the study, 76% of participants picked the wrong line after the majority of the room picked the wrong line. The study was groundbreaking in studying conformity in groups and has been repeated many times throughout the years. (You can find examples of the study on YouTube.)
As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to fall into conformity by doing what everyone else is doing in an effort to achieve success. The problem is, entrepreneurship is about authenticity and there is nothing authentic about conformity. Everyone wants to be an influencer. The only question is, what are you influencing people to do? Who are you influencing people to be?
We talk about embracing being unique and different but at the same time, we secretly want a seat at the table. At the same time, we don’t really want to be different. We want to be like everyone else because not being like everyone else comes at a cost that we are not courageous enough to pay. It is the cost of standing out instead of standing in. It is the cost of rejection and being misunderstood. It is a beautiful sacrifice that many of us, despite what we say, are not willing to make.
But you can’t want to be like the world and be different from the world at the same time. Either stand for something or fall for anything.
In the midst of the Kevin Hart situation, I think it’s important for us to all remember how important it is to be ourselves and to stand on our own integrity. And if we must influence, I hope it is to influence others to be undeniably and unapologetically themselves.
I. The biggest lesson I learned 2018 is to be fully myself even when who I am is not accepted by others. There are people who will think I’m foolish about certain decisions but it is my decision to make and my lesson to learn. I’ve learned to trust Yah more and to trust his will for my life. To make decisions without explaining myself or feeling the need to defend my position.
…and I hope the same for you.
What I enjoy most about being an Independent artist is the freedom to produce work that speaks to who I am, to not have to pull back, slow down, or sugarcoat my beliefs because of someone else standard. The right and the freedom to live freely in every sense of the word. To be true to myself, to my authenticity and do not have to apologize for it. I don’t have to tap dance around the truth for a check, I don’t have to scratch my hair unless it itches, and I don’t have to laugh unless something is actually funny. I’ve never been part of the “cool kids table” and I am not about to start now. This is freedom.
I hope you walk into 2019 not afraid to shine or to fail, understanding that both experiences shape you. It can be liberating to choose yourself, armed with the power to move forward without guilt, without arrogance, and without pride but with a deep love for yourself that is so strong that you can quickly realize when anyone or anything devalues you, even if that someone is your own self. The biggest challenge is not the war we fight with others but the war we fight with ourselves. To quote the African proverb, “when there is no enemy within, the enemy outside cannot hurt you.” Kill the enemy within. Slay your demons, silence the doubt, and walk free.
Its late but Friday is not over people! Well, not for some of us anyway so we’re going to squeeze this article on in.
Today, we have a special fun fact for you. My maiden name is Hereford and I have a mother, brother, and sisters who still carry this last name. In fact, I’ve met very few people with this name I was not related to. Unlike Johnson, Brown or Jackson (no shade to those with these last names), Hereford is not as common. So when I came across this man online, I was noticeably interested. My mother says that my grandfather, her father, is from Alabama and that Sonnie looks like her dad. This has prompted me to do more research on the man and to plan a visit to Alabama to discover more. It’s possible we had a Civil Rights Activist in the family and didn’t know it. In 1961, Hereford was one of the plaintiffs suing the Huntsville school system to end segregation, and in 1963, his son, Sonnie Hereford IV, was one of the first four black children to enroll in a previously all-white public school in Alabama. But, let’s start from the beginning.
Dr. Sonnie Wellington Hereford III was born on January 7, 1931, in Huntsville, Alabama. The family had no running water or electricity and Sonnie had to walk seven miles to school. The school, next to a garbage dump, didn’t have a library or cafeteria, much like most black schools at the time. Hereford was a farmer but developed a love for education. Even though his school had no library, the teachers were invested in him as they were in all their students. Though lacking in resources, black schooling at the time was exceptional, involving a strong community spirit and discipline. Teachers took on more than just a role as a teacher but they were also mothers, fathers, and mentors. For this, Sonnie received a good education and decided he wanted to become a doctor.
Sonnie graduated first in his class and applied to the University of Alabama for their pre-med program. However, Sonnie’s application was denied because of his color so he enrolled at Alabama A&M University instead. Hereford graduated from A&M in 2 years and went on to receive his medical degree from Meharry Medical College. He began his career at Huntsville Hospital in Huntsville Alabama and went on to play important roles in the struggle for Civil Rights. Not only was he a doctor but he also helped to aid men and women attacked during the Selma to Montgomery march, welcomed Martin Luther King Jr., to the city in 1962 and helped to integrate the city at various establishments. In fact, school desegregation is what Sonnie became most known for.
Sonnie IV was among four children chosen to desegregate schooling in Alabama and on September 3, 1963, Hereford took his six-year-old son to school but they could not get in. Instead, a mob waited for them and none of the other children were admitted to the other schools either. Sonnie didn’t give up, he returned but the school was locked down and guarded every day with armed troops. Eventually, Hereford contacted the federal judge and over time an order was issued to desegregate the schools in Huntsville. On Monday, September 9, 1963, Hereford successfully enrolled his son at Fifth Avenue School making Sonnie Hereford IV the first African-American student admitted to a previously all-white public school in Alabama. That following week, Sunday, September 15, the church bombing occurred in Birmingham killing four little girls at the 16th Street Baptist Church.
Sonnie Hereford continued to go on to inspire change and even co-authored a book, Beside the Troubled Waters: A Black Doctor Remembers Life, Medicine, and Civil Rights in an Alabama Town.
Sonnie died at 85 years old, two weeks before the ribbon cutting ceremony at the Sonnie Hereford Elementary School in Huntsville Alabama, named for him by the Huntsville board of education. The school ranges from Pre-K to sixth grade.
I was interviewed by Atlanta’s African American Book Festival a couple months ago. Check out the feature at the link below! Also, for you Atlantians, be sure to register for the first inaugural AAABF festival this summer. “The Atlanta African American Book Festival is a great opportunity to showcase your work. Vending at the Atlanta African American Book Festival is an investment in your community, business, and personal brand.”
ps. I was a little nervous so I made some mistakes. The Aftermath was not my first book, just my first novel. My first book was a collection of poetry. Also, the deer thing was weird but I didn’t know what to write at first lol. Reedsy also listed The PBS Blog among the Best Book Review Blogs for both 2017 and 2018 so far.
I’ve heard it over and over again: “The more you write, the better you become at it.” I get it. It’s practice. The more you do something, the better you become at it. When it comes to writing though, I think there is more to it than that. You can write and write and write but if you’re not correcting your mistakes as you write, you are not necessarily going to become a better writer.
My new author tip for you today is this:
Learning and applying what you learn as you write makes you a better writer not just writing for the sake of writing. You don’t have to write every day to become better. Understanding what needs to be improved on and correcting it as you write, makes you better. Otherwise, you’ll keep making the same mistakes and thus, produce the same kind of work. This means that if you’ve been producing mediocrity unless you correct yourself, you’ll just continue to write and produce mediocrity. It’s that aged old saying, “insanity is repeating the same thing and expecting different results.”
I have been writing and publishing books for over ten years. In this time, I have remained true to my authenticity, my morals and values. I have sat down to write what I wanted when I wanted. However, my years in publishing doesn’t mean that I am a better writer. What makes me a better writer today compared to ten years ago is if I have been applying what I’ve learned to the skill. I measure my progress not by how many books I’ve published or how many years I’ve been publishing or how many reviews I have. I measure my progress based on how well I’ve been able to correct the mistakes pointed out to me.
With the help of my beta readers and the WordPress blogging community, in general, I’ve been capable of recognizing and understanding so much more about writing than I ever have in the years prior. While I have a long way to go, the books I published in the years I’ve been blogging are noticeably better, in my opinion than the ones I published before starting this blog. I credit this to nothing except for applying many of the things I’ve learned from others who are more knowledgeable and skilled than I am, to my work. I believe that as authors we have to be very intentional about this and very aware of what works for us and what does not work for us. Don’t just assume that people are always hating on you or don’t understand you or don’t like you. Consider all feedback as constructive to the process.
In these past few months (where I’ve had the opportunity to speak with people face to face, consultants, bookstore owners, and their reviewers,) I’ve come to understand that the more aware I am of my strengths and weaknesses, the better I can build on those strengths and improve on those weaknesses. The more aware I am of what needs to be corrected and the more intentional I am to actually correct it, the better I become as a writer. Not just writing alone, but learning and applying that knowledge to my writing and to the publishing process as a whole as I learn and as I grow.