I wrote this poem in honor of my dad last year, inspired by a real experience. I was listening to Pandora and Yolanda Adams “Open My Heart” came on. I usually turn the station because the song reminds me of my dad who died of cancer in 2000. This time though, I allowed myself to feel. I allowed myself to grieve. I put this video together when I first published the poem to this blog but I am just now getting it uploaded as I am getting my YouTube grind back! Listen to the poem below, read the poem hereand be sure to subscribe for more poems!
Welcome back to Introduce Yourself! Check out the new badge! Yasss! Let’s get started with our first interview of the year. I would like to extend a warm welcome to Ann Harrison-Barnes.
What is your name and where are you from?
My name is Ann Harrison-Barnes and I am from Rochelle, GA.
Okay. You in my neck of the woods. Georgia stand up. What do you hate most about writing advice? What do you love?
The one thing I hate most about writing advice, is the fact that there is too much of it. What one writer says can contradict what someone else says on the same subject. For example, two or three people have different advice about adverbs. What I love about writing advice is the fact that I choose which advice to follow me, and I take it and let it inspire me. For example, K. M. Weiland stated in a previous episode of her podcast entitled Helping Writers Become Authors that the reason your villain does the bad things he’s known for in your story, has to do with another character he loves with all his heart (pardon the paraphrase).
I feel you on there being too much advice out there and most of it is not even good advice. Ann, what was your childhood dream?
As a child I always dreamed of being a recording artist. I loved country music and I love to sing. However, when I was five or six, I had no idea that music would be the inspiration I needed to become a writer. I could tell you a story of how music has influenced my writing over the past few years, but we’d be here all day for that one. LOL
Since we’re already talking about music, what kind of music do you like?
I like mostly instrumental music such as classical, movie scores, new age piano etc. for writing. However, I have one particular country artist that I like to listen to for healing and sometimes for writing inspiration.
Does blogging help you to write?
Blogging helps me to write in several ways. It helps me to learn more about my fictional characters through character interviews. It also helps me to get my heartfelt thoughts out into the world, but I keep my blog positive and put my negative thoughts in my journal. It also enhances my professional writing style, so that if I land a freelance writing gig, I can be proud to show off specific posts as writing samples.
I love that. You said you keep your blog positive and put the negative stuff in your journal. Your a wise one. Let’s talk about your writing journey. When did you publish your first book? What was that like?
To be honest, I published my first book back in July of 2016. I was excited, because after getting help with formatting and the book cover designed for me, I was able to publish it on my own. This book has since been updated and is now available on Amazon. Each book that I publish is exciting. I’ve heard many people say that it’s almost like having a baby, without the physical pain that a mother goes through. I must say, I believe it, because you have to nurture your creative baby and get it ready for publication. Then comes the waiting time until it’s been launched or borne (as it were), for all the world to see.
Nice. Married Ann?
I’ve been married twice. The first time for seven and a half years. I divorced my first husband, because he verbally and emotionally abused me. I’m currently married but separated from my husband, for the same reason. We’ve been legally married for a year and a half.
Oh. I am so sorry to hear that. Abuse is a real problem in our world. If you had any advice for someone enduring any form of abuse having experienced it yourself, what would you tell them?
My advice for someone who is in an abusive relationship is to find a way out as soon as you can. The longer you stay in that relationship, the worse it will be for you in the long run. I can’t speak to child abuse, but no one deserves to be belittled, humiliated or beaten. Don’t let the abuser’s charms fool you, he or she is only using them to pull you back into his or her web. I found healing from other sources, but if you feel that you need the services of a therapist, don’t hesitate to get the help you need, because everybody’s healing process is different.
Thanks so much. I am sure someone who needs to hear that is listening. Any babies Ann?
I do have a beautiful daughter, who I love dearly, although she can be sassy at times. She loves to brag about being taller than me.
LOL. I love it. What’s the most difficult thing about being a writer? The most exciting thing?
The most difficult thing about being a writer can sometimes be the revision process. However, I am loving this process in my current novel. The most exciting thing is the fact that I can allow myself to let the creative juices flow and find whatever source of inspiration that fuels my creative fire. Although I am totally blind, I refuse to let my disability stop me from doing what I’ve been called to do, which is share the message of God’s love through something as simple, yet as deep, as a story.
I can tell by your answers you’re a great writer! What genre do you write in and why?
I don’t put my novels into one specific genre. I write in the Christian fiction genre, along with mystery and thriller, and I sometimes add a little romance. I know that online distributors and bookstores have to know where to place eBooks or paperbacks on the physical or virtual shelves, but I like to add a little of this and a little of that, to make the story interesting and compelling.
Thanks so much Ann for spending this time with us. We enjoyed you!
Ann Harrison is the author of four books: A Journey of Faith, A Stepping Stones Mystery, Stories Outside the Box, Maggie’s Gravy Train Adventure, an Electric Eclectic Book, and Inner Vision, an Electric Eclectic Book. She has also been published in several anthologies. Aside from her work as a Christian fiction author, Ann is a professional writer, and she also crochets bookmarks and book covers to promote her books. To learn more about Ann and her work, visit her website at http://www.annwritesinspiration.com
Before you abandon your blogs to turn up tonight (tee hee), I’d like to introduce our schedule for this year. First, I’d like to thank and welcome our newbies and our die-hard supporters, the people who like our every post and share on social media. You guys are awesome and I do not take your contributions to the growth of The PBS Blog for granted. If you are new to this blog, please be sure to take this time to look around and familiarize yourself with the place. There are four years worth of material here to help you get to know me better and my writing.
Bloggers and Blogging
If you are not sure how the blog works or if you are thinking of starting a blog of your own, I invite you to visit the Blog Tips page HEREwhere I have archived my tips on blogging. I highly recommend you skim through them if you are new to the WordPress platform and are thinking to start a blog of your own (new writers, blogging is a great way to connect with readers!)
Writers and Writing
If you are a writer (especially an Independent writer) and you are looking for encouragement, resources or a better understanding of writing from an Independent/Self-Publishing perspective, I invite you to visit the Writer Tips and Resources page HEREwhere I have archived my tips on all things writerly and links to resources from others (particularly those more knowledgeable in the field.)
I will publish reviews of books I’ve read to this blog again. I have not been as consistent as I was in 2017 (because of amazon‘s constantly changing review policies and my constantly changing schedule) but I am back on it dagone it. You can view my new policy here. (Does not apply to books I read on my own for leisure, just review requests.)
2018 has been a year of self-reflection, self-understanding and focus. This means that I intentionally focused on myself. Not in a selfish way but in a way where I can better understand me in order to help you. Long story short, in 2019 I will be refocusing on my services to others, armed with the fresh revelations that have come from getting to know myself better. I want to do more for aspiring authors, new bloggers, writers and the like. I am excited and motivated with the drive and desire to serve.
Now, let’s get to the point so you can get out of here.
While I have segments going on throughout the week to keep this blog afloat, this is not a niche blog. Meaning, I do not just post about one thing. Do know this schedule does not include any random, off topic posting I may do when I just feel like writing.
Everything starts back up next week, 1/7 – 1/11
Introduce Yourself Author Interviews – I will keep Mondays open for author interviews. To learn more about how to get featured on this blog, CLICK HERE.
No Whining Wednesday – No Whining Wednesday will continue with quotes and empowering notes that help to keep you from whining, criticizing, or complaining! Learn more about NWW HERE (scroll down for the archived articles or follow the No Whining Wednesday tag).
Throwback Thursday – I miss how we used to jam ya’ll! Throwback Thursday will be in full swing next week. Throwback Thursday is when I post old school music videos to the blog. I have 3 categories so everyone gets a lil something something from it.
1. Throwback Jams (old school music the 80s on back)
2. 90s Throwback Jams (jams from the 90s, obviously)
3. and Early 2000 Jams (music from the early 2000’s)
Black History Fun Fact Friday – Throwback Thursday Jams and Black History Fun Facts are the most popular on this blog so they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Black History Fun Facts will return in full swing. (I have written tons of Black History articles on this blog that should keep you busy reading if you are new to PBS. CLICK HERE.) I noticed we dragged a bit in 2018 so I need to step it up in 2019. There’s been a lot of talk about The Year of Return (1619-2019 makes 400-years for Blacks in the America’s per captivity) I may just start the year off talking about that.
Not included is poetry because I don’t have a special day for this. I will continue to publish poetry pretty much whenever I feel like it. If you would like listen to my poems, subscribe to my YouTube Channel HERE. I also host an Annual Poetry Contest, founded in 2017. We have had two amazingly talented winners so far and some outstanding runner-ups and it’s almost time to get things started for our 3rd Annual Contest!
The PBS Blog now contains affiliate links. This means should you purchase anything from these links, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. This allows me to keep this blog up and running. I will never link to something I haven’t personally used or disliked so don‘t be shy, click on the book cover to this month‘s featured book (Michelle Obama‘s Becoming) in the sidebar and thank you for your support!
Today, I’d like to extend a warm welcome to A.H. Washington. Let’s get started!
What is your name and where are you from?
As stated above, my name is Aundriel Washington, and I am from New Orleans, Louisiana. Very nice to meet you
Aundriel. What would your perfect writing/reading room look like?
My perfect writing or reading room would be all white, silver, and glass. The walls would be white with silver crown molding. I would have a glass desk with a white fluffy chair.. White and silver roses would fill a glass vase. My decor would be silver framed images of white dragons surrounding the wall. The floor would be white granite with fluffy round rugs.
What is the most annoying habit that you have?
The most annoying habit that I have is that I bite my nails.
Are you employed outside of writing?
Currently, I am working as an eighth grade English Language Arts Special Education Teacher. I was an elementary school teacher for four years. Middle school is very different.
Oh, excellent. Another teacher in the house ya’ll! What do you think you’ll be really good at?
I think I would be really good at counseling others. I love to talk to people and I love to help them see that they are better than they believe they are. I have had my battle with major depression and I know how important counselors and therapists are.
That’s awesome. If you had one piece of advice you would like to give to someone who is sad right now or struggling, what would you tell them?
Normally, when I am sad, I try to look at one of the most joyous times in my life. I would tell that person struggling to look to a time when they were very happy. Think of who was involved and how that person or event made you feel. Go to that time and hold on to it as tight as you can in order to bring a smile to your face. If it is only for a moment, it will remind you that you can be happy or have joy despite your trails.
Excellent. Aundriel, any siblings?
I have one sibling.
What was your childhood dream?
As a child, I dreamed of becoming a model, singer, and actress.
Ooh. Nice. What skill would you like to master?
I wish that I could learn to draw. My middle daughter draws. I continue to remind her if you don’t use it, you lose it.
What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?
The most amazing adventure that I could go on would be to take a trip to Santorini, Greece and Rome, Italy. I want to bath in the white sand in Greece and I want to visit the Colosseum.
What’s your favorite food?
My favorite food is seafood. I love craw-fish and shrimp!
Nooo. Don’t do it lol. Favorite colors?
My favorite colors are aquamarine and white.
Let’s talk about writing a bit. Who is your favorite writer?
My favorite author is Colleen Houck, the author of the Tiger’s Curse Series.
If you could shadow your favorite artist, who would it be?
If I could shadow Danai Gurira and Tom Welling. I loved Smallville, the CW series. I had been trying to meet Tom Welling for years since the show has been off the air. Well, I finally got a chance to meet him this past September at Dragon Con.
I bet that was exciting! If you could, would you visit the future?
If I could, I would visit the future. I would love to see what else we come up with.
Neat. What about the past?
If I could visit my past, I would go back to the day my mother died. The doctor would not think that I am too young to visit my mother in ICU.
Aww. I’m so sorry to hear that.
Thank you Aundriel for spending this time with us. We enjoyed you!
A.H. WASHINGTON is the author of the debut novel, Palera Dawn. As an elementary and middle school educator, A.H. has spent the past decade writing fiction stories independently and with her students. She spends her summers with her husband and children. A. H. is a fan of Dragon Con and other fantasy, science fiction conventions. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
Facebook: Aundriel Washington (group name Palera Dawn).
Wow this is the last interview of the year! What a year! To review all the authors we’ve introduced to you on this blog you can visit the page HERE. If you would like to add your name to this awesome list, CLICK HERE.
Increasing your self-understanding is an essential part of using your knowledge to help others. You cannot be effective working with others unless you thoroughly understand yourself. Take this time you have off work to spend some time with yourself. Sit alone. Log off. Take a walk. Treat yourself to the peace of solitude and organize your thoughts. Write. Read. Pray. Embrace the quiet and the revelations that come with meditation. Be still knowing you are still moving. Listen and act on what you hear by responding. Seek a deeper understanding of yourself. What characteristics were you born with versus what you acquired throughout your life? What is going on in the world around you? How do you fit in? What can you do to better yourself and the world?
Here are six harsh truths to take with you until we meet again.
If you don’t know yourself, you cannot run a successful business because you won’t know what your goals are or what your purpose is.
You can’t run a successful business with low self-esteem. You cannot grow obsessing over what people think. You will never please everyone. Someone somewhere will always see something wrong with what you are doing. You can lay down and let people walk all over you and there will still be someone complaining you are not “flat” enough.
You can’t genuinely be there for others if you don’t know yourself. How can you give me what I need if you don’t even know what you need?
If you don’t know yourself, you will always be a victim constantly blaming other people for the things going on in your life / it’s always someone else’s fault.
You will unconsciously set limitations that aren’t necessary. This will hinder your growth.
It will be hard for you to be yourself when you don’t know yourself. This will most likely cause you to imitate others. This is unhealthy.
Photos of this weekend’s signing at the Greenbriar Mall are now uploaded to the site!
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.
The Asch Conformity 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.
Today I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Sharon Cathcart. Welcome to The PBS Blog! Let’s get started.
What is your name and where are you from?
I’m Sharon E. Cathcart. I was born in Portland, Ore., but now make my home in the Silicon Valley, Calif. In between, I’ve lived in Lawrence Township, Indiana, and literally all around the San Francisco Bay.
Are you employed outside of writing?
I’m the global grant coordinator for a major medical device firm.
Wow. That’s neat! What was your childhood dream?
I wanted to be a veterinarian. I love animals, and that was the best way I could think of to help them. However, I have dyscalculia (which is like dyslexia, but with numbers) and so my math marks were not high enough to qualify. I still help animals, though, by volunteering with our local humane society and caring for a colony of feral cats. I also donate all of my royalties from “Hugs and Hisses” to Humane Society Silicon Valley.
I love that. Speaking of writing, when did you publish your first book? What was that like?
In 1995. I was still working for the DoD and was tasked with writing the history of Sixth U.S. Army, which was decommissioned that year. The resulting work, “Born of War … Dedicated to Peace,” was given as a souvenir during the closure ceremony. It was kind of amazing, to be honest. I’d said for years that I wanted to write a book and suddenly I was holding one in my hand. However, when that job went away, I stopped thinking of myself as a writer for a very long time. I didn’t publish anything again until 2009 (that’s when my first novel, “In The Eye of The Beholder,” was released).
I’m glad you got back on the wagon. What skill would you like to master?
I would like to be able to draw (I can manage stick figures, and a passable horse head, but that’s about it). I would also like to be a better swimmer. I get claustrophobic when my face is in the water, so I’m really lousy.
I get it. What state or country do you never want to go back to?
Indiana. I lived there whilst attending the Defense Information School (I used to work for the Department of Defense as a public affairs specialist), and I tell people the same thing whenever they ask: “There were three things I loved about Indiana: the Connor Prairie Living History Center, the Indianapolis Zoo, and seeing Indiana go away under the airplane.” The main thing that sticks with me about living there was the day I looked something up in the phone book (remember those?)
Lol. I do.
…and found the KKK openly listed. I don’t remember what I was trying to find, but I sure remember that. It colored my feelings about the entire state – and not in a good way.
Doesn’t surprise me. Since you brought it up let’s go there. What are your views on racism?
Racism is a systemic thing, to me. It is about policies and laws that punch downward against people who are not in the majority. Any damn fool can be prejudiced/bigoted, but it takes political power to create racism.
By the way, I firmly believe that any white person who doesn’t recognize that the US is a white supremacist system is deluding themselves with willful ignorance. We all need to speak up against injustices like racism. If “social justice warrior” is an epithet, it’s one I’ll wear with honor. I spend a little time tackling racism in “Bayou Fire,” where my hero is an abolitionist in Jacksonian-era New Orleans – an unpopular position at the time, to say the least. I firmly believe we need to be speaking out today, and that’s why I created that personality trait for him.
Nice. I’d like to read this book. You said it takes political power to create racism. How so?
One has to be in a position to create systems designed to keep others down … and that means political power. We see numerous voter suppression laws being enacted, and attempts to roll back hard-won civil rights … because those holding the power are afraid of losing their hegemony. Holding the power to back up bigoted beliefs with action is what creates racism.
What songs have you completely memorized?
Just about everything by The Beatles and David Bowie. I’m not kidding.
So I guess I don’t have to ask what kind of music you like…
I have found something to like in every single genre except Chinese opera (which, even according to fans, is an acquired taste). My love show tunes, classical, bluegrass, just about everything you can imagine. My favorite artists are David Bowie, Ramin Karimloo, and The Beatles.
What’s your favorite color?
My long-time favorite is purple. However, I’m also fond of teal, which is the color of most of my author branding.
Are you married Sharon?
My husband, Jeff, and I have been together for 18 years and married for 16. It’s a second marriage for both of us.
Congrats! What’s your favorite TV Show? Movie?
My favorite film of all time is “Tom Jones,” starring Albert Finney. It’s the story of an 18th Century English rake, and is absolutely hilarious. You need to watch it just for the scene where he and one of the female characters are eating dinner; no one says a word, but the tension is fantastic!
What TV channel exists but really shouldn’t?
Please don’t get me started on TLC. I remember when it was “The Learning Channel.” Now it seems like it’s “The Lowest Common Denominator.” I’m not a fan of so-called reality TV, with the exception of cooking competitions.
I love cooking competition shows! I have to ask. Top Chef or Hell’s Kitchen?
Hell’s Kitchen. I kind of adore Gordon Ramsey. He puts on an enormous display of temper, for sure, but you can tell he really cares about food.
Ha! I am in the middle. I love Top Chef but I just got into Hell’s Kitchen and I can tell Ramsey is fair in his decisions.
Speaking of Ramsey’s temper, what do you think of the bullying in our schools? How can we do better?
I was one of those kids who was bullied, pretty much from 6th grade on until high school graduation. Teachers need to take it seriously rather than blowing it off as “they’re just jealous” or “they’re teasing you because they like you.” Kids are not stupid; they know the difference between a buddy teasing you and someone being actively cruel. Parents need to teach their children to be kind rather just laughing off their aggression as “kids will be kids.” The teaching has to begin at home, and classrooms need to reinforce it.
We agree there. What advice would you give your younger self?
It is going to get better. Find the drama kids sooner. Don’t hold people at arm’s length because you’re afraid; everyone is struggling and you will discover that most people are genuinely kind.
Thank you Sharon for spending this time with us. We enjoyed you!
Sharon E. Cathcart is an award-winning author of fiction featuring atypical characters.
A former journalist and newspaper editor, Sharon has been writing for as long as she can remember and always has at least one work in progress.
Sharon lives in the Silicon Valley, California, with her husband and an assortment of rescue pets.