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 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.
When 2018 started, I told myself that I would step outside of my comfort zone by trying to get my books accepted into bookstores, a challenge for an Indie Author with no large following and no large publisher backing her. But I did it and now I am making it a goal to get my books into libraries and in schools. And if it’s Yah’s will, I hope to do some public speaking. Before this year ends, I’ll be sending my email list my personal goal-setting chart and they will get to see exactly how I set my goals and the action steps I implement to achieve them. Today, I am taking the time to reveal some basic things you can do to prepare your books to be accepted at bookstores and how to go about the process and it’s yours free. All you have to do is subscribe to my email list HERE to access the PDF. You will get a welcome email and the document will be in that email. Please be sure to check your spam / junk folders if you do not see the welcome email in your inbox.
Some of the things covered in the document.
Know Your Why
Unless you are already famous, people aren’t gonna be checking for your books at bookstores in the same way they do online. In order for people to walk in and not look over your book, they must have some prior knowledge about who you are (more on this below). Be sure you know why you are doing this. Getting in bookstores and libraries is not some fast track to fame or money maker. That’s not what it’s about. Getting into bookstores is only a big deal to Indie writers because many of us aren’t backed by a big publisher so getting onto the shelves of brick and mortar stores gives us a greater opportunity for the possibility of hosting book signings at those stores, meet new people (who we probably would not have met online), and expanding our brand far and wide.
Get Your Name Out There
As you’ll see in the document, it’s not very difficult to get into small, local, Independent bookstores on consignment which means that’s not really the challenge. The challenge is selling those books which is difficult to do if people don’t know who you are. I am still trying to get my name out there and I have identified some areas where I could do better. However, you don’t have to be a celebrity or famous to start. You can start with social media and drive traffic through your blog and social media accounts. The most effective thing, though, is to get out and attend local events. Is there a book festival in your hometown? Go. Is there any event that matches what your books are about? Go to those events. Here, you’ll meet people who may be able to help you, work with you, recommend you, and help you to get your message out.
Target Stores that Match Your Audience
I approach black-owned bookstores because my books are about black history. There are exceptions where I’ll take a chance on a non-black-owned store (such as Tall Tales Book Shop…I love their store set-up), but for the most part my target is populations where the majority of the readers are Israelites (Blacks) and women. Why? Because my books are about the lives of Blacks in America and the lives of women. It has nothing to do with “race” and everything to do with positioning myself to be at the places where my ideal reader is.
Technology is Still King
Don’t overthink it with the bookstores though and forget why the Indie Revolution started in the first place. It’s good to attend events and get out and network with people face to face but don’t forget technology is still king. You don’t want to create a situation where your presence is needed to make you money as perfectly put by Cici aka “The 6 Figure Chick” on IG. That is, you don’t want to only bring in income when you do an event. Keep that online presence going. I am of the opinion that Indies with books in the store should do so as a supplement to the online business, not as the business itself.
A website, email list, social media, and a payment method are among the foundational basis of an online business (and if you’re an author with books on amazon be sure to have an Amazon Author Central Page set-up. You can learn how to do that here). Your website is your home, your email list is your connection, your social media pages (includes blog) is your traffic and interaction, and your payment method/shopping cart (including amazon) is how you get paid. If you meet people in person, it won’t mean anything without a way for them to keep in contact with you. Update your blog and social media pages regularly and continue to be consistent. Remember that your success is not the same as everyone else’s and being authentic doesn’t have to mean doing what everyone else is doing. Be you. Be disciplined. Be consistent.
Read more by downloading the entire PDF Document when you subscribe to my email list HERE.
Pictures from Friday’s signing at Tall Tales Book Shop are now available on my website HERE. Thank you to everyone who came out. If you’re in the ATL area, my next signing is December 22nd from 2-5p EST at the Medubookstore at the Greenbriar Mall.
I’ve been away a while so I just wanna say I appreciate those of you who continue to support this blog. Even if you haven’t been around or liked/commented / shared in a while I still appreciate you. I don’t trip about that. I know how busy things can get and in that process, how easy it is to forget but you all are still here and I appreciate that. It is not lost to me how central The PBS Blog has been in helping to advance and shape my career. It wasn’t until I started this blog in 2014 and when I released the first book in The Stella Trilogy in 2015 that people really caught onto my work and that I met many of you and for that I am thankful. (Probably should have done this sooner right? Technically, I’ve had blogs before but none of them as successful as The PBS Blog). I mean, over 2,600 subscribers ya’ll! Sounds good to me. Not nearly as much as some of you but I’ll take it. Even when we make it to 10,000 subscribers, I never want to be so big that I can’t be grateful. I hope to maintain the same level of humility no mater the “numbers.” I’ll still thank you.
Funny thing, so I saw the movie Downsize. Far as action I thought it was pretty boring but putting my entertainment eyes away and using my spiritual eyes I get what the writer was trying to convey. Basically, Paul (Matt Damon) and his wife Audrey (Kristen Wiig) decide to abandon their stressed lives to get small and move to a new downsized community after learning that a scientist discovered how to shrink humans to five inches tall as a solution to overpopulation. So yes, by downsize they literally mean downsize as in “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids!”
I enjoyed the beginning of the movie but as we get into Paul’s life as a small person it loses my interest. I won’t say more because I really could just give away the movie. But from a more spiritual (less entertainment only minded), perspective, I can see the potential. The grass is not always greener on the other side and we should appreciate what we have. (I‘m kinda stretching it though to make my point here on how I appreciate you all…movie was boring…sorry lol).
Anyway, thank you!
p.s. I’ve talked about Grammarly before to help you edit your blog posts but if you use it AND ProwritingAid? Sheesh. Yass. It has gotten rid of plenty of those extra words I use. (Like “that” and “so.”) I can‘t afford a professional editor to edit my every blog post but using Grammarly and ProWritingAid together is a great help. Try it people!
Join me THIS Friday, November 30, 2018 from 12:00-1:00p EST for a book signing and reading from Even Salt Looks Like Sugar at Tall Tales Book Shop in Atlanta. If you’re in the area I would love to have you. Enjoy snacks, laughter, reading, conversation and of course, you can get you a pic or two for the gram 😉 Don’t have this book yet? Get it here for just $2.99 on Amazon and thanks so much!!
(Yes, I am still trying to make this book free eventually and proceeds still go toward helping to fund next year’s poetry contest!)