Negroes are born
they are boys despite age
Negroes are sign language
using symbols to communicate
born without land
what King referred to as
they are sojourners
wandering from person to person
in search of themselves
Negroes are born
their umbilical cords
their screams muffled with injustice
their bodies sold
and bellies stuffed with lies
Negroes bleed death
and cannot recognize their own corpse.
But we are not Negroes.
We are soil and Earth
lips that sing
mouths and song and praise.
We are bodies and flesh
veins and blood and salt
We are salt
of the Earth.
We are crowns and rubies and pearls
eyes and nose
vision and smell.
We are scripture and fire
and dripping honey
We are blood, teeth, and bone
We are people
brave. proud. strong.
But we are not your
Since B&N was sold (no panic neccessary….related article links below) and since Instagram went down (again), the time is right to repost this message. It’s long but I recommend reading all the way through. It was originally published December 5, 2018 after Facebook went down. Since then both Facebook and Instagram have had continual glitches, Google Plus is no more and Createspace is now Kindle Direct Publishing.
After experiencing multiple problems with Facebook the other day, amazon admitting to accidentally sharing people’s personal information, and reading Derek Murphy’s email about hacks, author websites and updating passwords, I think it’s time to publish a post that has been sitting in my drafts (and in my heart) for some time. It has also been a while since I’ve dedicated significant time to this blog and as we come upon the end of the year; I think it’s a good way to get us thinking about potential changes in 2019.
Be careful putting all your eggs in one basket.
When the stock market crashed in 1929, it shocked people. They couldn’t believe they couldn’t get their money out of the banks. It was like in the movies when there’s a natural disaster or alien invasion. Right before it all comes crashing down, life is perfect. A family is sitting at the table eating breakfast. Soccer moms are dropping their children off to school and dads are hoping for that corporate promotion. And then it happens, right there. You are at the breakfast table eating a bowl of cereal and your kitchen floor splits in half with your toddler on the other side of that half.
This is how quickly things change.
Life before the crash was great. People were doing well. People bought stocks with easy credit. During the 1920s there was a rapid growth in bank credit and easily acquired loans. People encouraged by the market’s stability were unafraid of debt. People were comfortable. So comfortable that they weren’t prepared when it all came crashing down. Not everyone was as affected though. The great depression didn’t affect poor people as much as those who had wealth because poor people were used to having nothing. Many of them were also already growing their own food, and already self-sufficient. They had to be innovative and entrepreneurial to survive.
“There is a bitter and yet wry statement which was made by blacks about the depression. They said in the south that the depression had been going on for ten years before black people even know about (laughs)… knew it existed.” – Maya Angelou
Social Media has made it possible to make millions with online-only businesses. No longer do you need a college degree or fancy training to start a business online. Social media and e-courses changed that. Writers can now publish their own books without a traditional publisher. Independent Publishing has been around for a long time, but Print on Demand took it to another level. Print on Demand services are platforms where authors can upload manuscripts easily and quickly online and order print copies of their books. Platforms such as Lulu, Kindle Direct Publishing and Bookbaby are examples. Not only is it easier than ever to publish books, but it‘s easier to make millions from social media alone. Professional Instagrammer or YouTuber are legit business titles now. College kids are dropping out to become YouTube stars and Insta-celebrities. Because of advanced technology you don’t need to understand code to build a website yourself or need a fancy camera to shoot a movie anymore. With a basic understanding of video editing you can do this with your iPhone.
Life is good.
But remember how quickly things change.
Social Media is changing. People are more outspoken about privacy and data use. Facebook is being more strict about limitations so it’s difficult to do any promotion without buying ads (and although we do it anyway, we’re not supposed to use our personal pages as business pages). Algorithms don’t show everyone‘s post and Facebook is losing readers because of problems like the one I faced the other day (where I couldn’t log in). Facebook is constantly down and Google+ and Createspace have already closed down. Although Social Media looks good now, I wouldn’t be surprised if it, like the stock market, drastically changed so that users have to either pay for accounts or it unexpectedly closed down completely. Poof. Gone. Tragedies often happen suddenly.
“By the mid-1800s, most countries wanted to standardize transactions in the booming world trade market. They adopted the gold standard. It guaranteed that the government would redeem any amount of paper money for its value in gold. That meant transactions no longer had to be done with heavy gold bullion or coins. It also increased the trust needed for successful global trade. Paper currency now had guaranteed value tied to something real.” (Amadeo, K. 2018, 17 April. History of the Gold Standard.)
The history of paper money is worth the research and is too extensive to go in depth here but in short, the dollar began its decline on being backed by gold when the Gold Standard was suspended and even more after the Stock Market Crash of 1929. Paper money was only receipts that represented a certain amount of gold. When the Gold Standard was suspended more receipts were printed, printing receipts caused hyperinflation and money hasn’t been the same sense.
What does this mean / have to do with authors?
“This isn’t 1955 where we can use a typewriter and write a book every year and a half and make money to live off of while we do book tours. Might as well get in the horse and buggy business.” – Kristen Lamb
Putting your eggs in one basket is a phrase which means that one should not concentrate all efforts and resources in one area as one could lose everything. For Authors, putting your eggs in one basket could mean many things.
❌Holding onto Outdated Information about Book Publishing
I know you see celebrities going on book tours and all that but don’t let that make you look down on Self-Publishing because it has changed the game. Traditional Publishing is not the giant it used to be. Sure traditionally published authors still get tons of publicity but the digital era is here and while huge bookstore chains like Barnes and Noble are struggling, Indie Bookstores and Indie Publishers are thriving. The key to Self-Publishing is in the ebooks big publishing companies thought would never work. “In a dismal twist of fate, NY helped self-publishing transition from ‘shunned last-ditch of the hack wanna-be writer’ into a viable and respectable publishing alternative.” (Kristen Lamb) Don’t let your perception of success cloud your judgment. The Big Six (or is it 5 now?) is not all it’s cracked up to be. And since we’re talking about not putting our eggs in one basket, nothing is as it’s cracked up to be. Amazon can be in the same boat as Barnes and Noble.
❌Using Social Media to build your business without a website
Investing in a business website is one of the most basic ways of running a successful business. Instead of just create a Facebook page or Instagram account, consider also creating a website. It’s not expensive and can even be a one page website but it’s good to have. You can also use your blog as your website as we discussed before (because it doesn’t make much sense to spend money on a full website if you have one or no books out). Using social media without a website is putting your eggs in one basket because social media is not stable. Likes does not mean sales unless you have somewhere to direct people to purchase your books. Social media is not the final destination or at least it shouldn’t be. Social media is a doorway that must lead to a place. Your website is that place.
❌Only marketing and promoting your books online
“Social media is an important part of your business but it shouldn’t be the ONLY part of your business.”
– Cici aka The Six Figure Chick
By only focusing on promoting and marketing and selling books online you are leaving money on the table and I don’t mean to sound like it’s all about money. It’s obviously not but for writers who want to make a living out of publishing books, money is pretty important. Although people talk about the death of print, radio and traditional media is still a big deal. There are still many people who aren’t tech savvy, still many people who prefer to visit libraries and bookstores, still many who prefer print books, and still many who want to see you in person or hear you speak. If you are already outspoken, this is an extra good thing for you. You’ll have no problem networking at events and meeting new readers. If you’re an introvert (like me), events help you come out of your shell and meet new readers who can follow you online. My social media pages don’t have many followers but my numbers go up after every event. While I don’t think requiring your presence to make your money is wise (because I mean, the technology is here), scheduling at least one public appearance (such as a book signing) every now and again is a good way to meet your readers face to face.
❌Only publishing books. (Neglecting other ways of making long-term sustainable income as an author)
I recently attended the inaugural We Buy Black Convention in Atlanta where hundreds of black-owned businesses convened to support one another. There, I met Real Estate Super Agent Lisa Puerto, one of the featured speakers during one of the business talks (Jay Morrison was another speaker and Dr. Boyce Watkins was another speaker but I missed them). Long story short, my husband and I loved her passion so much that although we aren’t into real estate, we were ready to buy her book when she finished and got to chat with her after the segment.
Here’s the thing that surprised me though: her table was basic. Black table cloth, books and business cards. It looked similar to my table at the signing at Nubian books earlier this year! (see pic) There weren’t any fancy fixings but her line stretched down the hall and her business cards were getting picked up like candy. She had wowed us with her passion alone and her voice was big enough to outdo any banner. I say all of this to say I’ve learned that public speaking is how we as authors get the message out about our books. Instead of promoting the book, we could promote the message of the book and help people to understand why it’s worth their time to read our stories. It’s why celebrity authors go on book tours where they get to speak to the audience and despite how we feel about her, Omarosa sold the mess out her book just by talking about it!
The book is important, but it is not the only way of making money as an author. Once you’ve established yourself as an author and have made waves with your books (please do this first), you can expand into other things such as teaching, coaching, and public speaking, as additional income sources. Only writing books is another form of putting your eggs in one basket because you’re limited to just one income stream. If you write full time (no day job, spousal support, no side hustle, e.g.) this is especially important. In striving to make a living from writing alone (once you’ve been established for a while), it’s a good idea to expand your brand beyond just writing books.
❌Not having an email list
Email lists aren’t for everyone (and certainly not before you have built some kind of audience to send them to), but could be useful if there is no more social media (blogs included). This will make the email list of great value alongside your website. It becomes another way for you to connect to your audience on a personal level. While I don’t have many subscribers, I can say with the integrity I have more subscribes than unsubscribes and I am learning more and more how to better manage my team. Every business has an email marketing to accompany their business. I don’t know why writing has to be any different. Do you want to know why people don’t take Indie writers seriously? Because we assume the basic rules of running a business doesn’t apply to us. Yes, you can opt not to do certain things as there are no rules, technically. However, there are basics and you can‘t opt out until you fully understand the basics. A website, email list, social media, and a payment method are among the foundational basis of an online business. 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 is how you get paid. These are the basics.
❌Publishing on Amazon exclusively while neglecting other retailers
I think relying too heavily on Amazon is a mistake. I think a smart person would definitely have their books on Amazon but that they will also explore other retailers. It‘s about balance. Say what you want about them but having books on Amazon is just good business sense (you have to look at it the way readers do…they will search for your book on Amazon first before anything), but that doesn’t mean we have to only have books on amazon. One of the most valuable ways to sell your books is through your own author website! The reason Amazon is winning is that mostly we are promoting it. Our books may be present on other sites but if we aren’t promoting those links alongside Amazon, we cannot expect to see sales through those channels. How many times do you promote links to your book on Kobo? Barnes and Noble? Smashwords? Your own author website? If you’re honest with yourself your answer would be like mine, very little. If something were to happen to Amazon, do you know of any alternative ways of publishing? Have you educated yourself or are you only sticking with the zon? Publishing only on Amazon is putting your eggs in one basket because if amazon suddenly crashed it will take your eggs with it.
❌Private Business Social Media Pages
Setting your Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook author pages to private. I simply don’t understand this. Not only is nothing private online, but you are losing out on potential readers. Unless your goal is not to sell books or reach readers, it is a good idea that your author pages are public. They don’t necessarily have to be business pages but it’s not a good idea if they are private. Here’s why:
A reader comes across your page from whatever source. Someone has referred them to you or they liked your bio. They go to your Instagram page to see more of your work and get a feel for who you are but your page is set to private. They go to your Twitter page, it’s set to private. They go to like your Facebook page and hit the private wall. Few people will send you a request. Most people will leave and not come back. Why? Because if you’re using social media for any kind of business (and if you wrote a book, you are in business) potential readers/clients shouldn’t have to follow you to see what you offer.
Private business pages force people to follow you just to see what you are about. If you are that afraid of scammers and trolls then you should probably not be on social media. I’m just being real with you here. If your social media pages are business pages, if you are trying to connect with readers and clients, why is your page private? That is just not good business sense unless your goal is only to reach the choir.
❌Wasting time arguing about whether Self-Publishing or Traditional Publishing is better.
These debates are a waste of time (this is coming from the person who thinks nothing is a waste of time) and forces authors into putting their eggs in one basket. Publishing Independently works for me but I won’t sit here and say I will never traditionally publish a book if it came time for it. There’s a time and place for everything and I am at a place where Independent Publishing works well for me. (Indie Publishing is also thriving right now). I cannot say this won’t change because I cannot predict the future. There’s nothing wrong if you suddenly went the traditional route or if you decided to self-publish because the value doesn’t change. You are still worthy no matter how you publish. By making this out to be some competition we lose sight of what really matters and create self-imposed limitations. This bullet point differs from the others and may seem out of place but that’s why I must mention it. It’s a low-key way of putting your eggs in one basket. Self-Publishing is one basket and Traditional Publishing is another basket. You are not limited to just using one. It’s okay to keep your options open.
This post will be too long to cover every single area of how we leave money on the table by putting all our eggs into one basket but here are some additional areas:
❌Not developing a business plan for your writing business / not legalizing your writing business
❌Not listing your books on Goodreads or creating an Amazon Author Central Page
❌Discounting your books / products online so much that it undermines your business
❌Not discounting your books / products at events and conferences. (People aren’t going to pay $20 for a Self-Published book from an unknown author. Unless you’re already a celebrity or very good at persuasion, most people won’t take the chance. Discount your books when you sell them in person!)
Consider not relying on one way of doing things. People say that you don’t own social media but that is true for everything online. You don’t own that blog no more than you own that email list, no more than you own those social media pages.
I have to say, when Facebook tripped, as it often does, I was so happy that I at least have a website and email list to direct people to. If I had to rely on my Facebook page only, it would have caused me to panic as Facebook not working would mean losing all my contacts. Social media is an excellent tool as I can sit here and write to people all over the world from my computer. But traditional media still holds weight and that face-to-face “old stuff” still works as an option to connect you to your readers. People thought farming was old too until it was the poor black farmers whose homegrown food fed them during the depression. The same thing for social media. Those who neglect digital are doing themselves a great disservice as well. Balance is the key to all of this.
The eleven sons of Jacob survived and flourished because their brother Joseph, who had become second in command to Pharaoh through his gift of properly interpreting the Pharaoh‘s dream, had created storehouses throughout Egypt where the people could come and buy food. When his brothers left Canaan for Egypt, they could find refuge. Could we learn from this? Could we be the Joseph’s of our day? Or will we wait until the famine wipes out all we have?
Let’s just say May was a trying month for me. I had a birthday but otherwise inwardly, mentally, I struggled. And while I am not ready to talk about it, I want to use this as an occasion to lift you in case June is that month for you. In case July is that month for you. In case August is that month for you, and so on.
This is the story of a boy, his father, and a donkey. The man and his son went to town with the boy riding the donkey and the father leading it. They came upon a group of people who criticized them, saying, “hey, what are you doing? How could you let your father walk? He should be on the donkey!” Listening, the man and his father switched places. Now, his father rode on top the donkey and his son walked. They walked and came to another group of people who criticized them, saying, “how dare you have your son walking!” The boy and his father then tied the donkey to a pole, and both carried the donkey. They came to another group of people who laughed, saying, “that’s so silly! Why would you carry the donkey? Haha.” Eventually, the donkey fell off the pole and it exhausted both father and son.
I have summarized a story many of you already know or have heard before. Sometimes it is not the father and son but the husband and wife. The moral of the story is you can’t please everyone and if you try by listening to everyone, you will find yourself confused. As an Indie Author, I want you to remember your journey is and always will be unique. While I can give you an insight into my experience and while your experiences can be very similar, it will never be exactly the same. If everyone did things the exact same way, there would be nothing original. Your purpose differs from mine so your experience will be different. I’ve heard so much about Self-Publishing and I just have to shake my head because I have lived the complete opposite of the advice I read. If I heeded everything I read I would be just as silly as the father and son who thought it would be wise to carry a donkey on a pole. While this is a fictitious story it is also real. How many of us are carrying donkeys because people disagree with everything we do? All the father and son had to do was keep moving and block out the noise. And that’s all you have to do.
For a short stint in High School, I tried out for the track team. My gym teacher begged me to do it because she admired how I ran. What I learned is if you start out fast, look behind you or beside you it will slow you down and burn you out before you make it to the finish line. You got to stay in your own lane, keep your eyes in front of you and pace. Start off steady and pace, breathe. This is how you win. You gotta find the pace right for you and ignore what other people are doing or saying because it can discourage you from what you are doing. It is the equivalent to starting a race by going fast. Starting too fast is a common mistake. When someone runs at a pace that is faster than his or her capabilities, it’s entirely counter-productive. Fatigue will set in and force the athlete to slow down later. This is how you lose. At the end of the race you are moving slower when you should run faster. If you paced and stayed the course in the beginning, you would win.
Independent – Free from outside control; not depending on another’s authority.
*We need help with promoting this year’s contest! If you would like to help me to promote, comment below and I will send you a copy of the flyer. I prefer to send it to you so that it’s not pixelated or grainy from screenshots. You can also reblog the original post (Click link above) Tweet or Facebook out the link.
I am scheduling one more interview that will go live before taking a break from this blog but you can still send your questions in so they can be scheduled for when I return.
Are you an author? Looking for more exposure? Learn more about my Introduce Yourself FeatureHERE.
My name is K. McCoy, and I am from Fort Myers, FL.
What’s your favorite color?
My favorite is blue.
What’s the most difficult thing about being a writer? The most exciting thing?
I would have to say that the most difficult thing about being a writer is finding time to take care of all the other things that help me with sharing my written work and meeting my scheduled deadlines. The most exciting thing about being a writer is hearing how people interpret my work once I have shared it.
I love that part also. It’s fascinating how people can have different views on the work. Why is writing important to you?
Writing is one of my strongest outlets – my favorite creative releases. It’s part of my therapy, to be able to share my thoughts with others through storytelling. That is why writing is important to me.
What do you love about yourself?
My quirkiness is what I love most about myself. Took a long time before I could say that outloud, but it’s true.
Got it. What kind of music do you like?
I like almost every genre of music, but lately I have been listening to Lo-fi the most.
Life is not always pretty. We all experience hardship every now and again. What is your best advice for reducing stress?
Learn how to protect your peace in a peaceful way. By that I mean, learn to recognize and acknowledge behavior that may prevent you from flourishing – from being around people who do not have good intentions, overworking your physical self, to questioning habits (internally and/or externally) that you have personal and discussing how to process and handle them. Essentially, do no harm, but take no shit.
I like that! I’m gonna have to borrow that one.
A friend of mine says it at the end of her podcasts (Angela Page, Love Your Rebellion).
“Do no harm, but take no sh*t.”
– Angela Page
K, outside of writing, what are some of your passions?
Singing and learning other languages are a few of my passions outside of writing.
Oh cool. Are you bilingual? If so, what other languages do you speak? If not, what other languages would you like to speak?
I wish that I was bilingual! At the moment, I speak a little conversational Spanish and Korean. I would really like to learn more about both languages, as well as Afrikaans and Creole.
Korean, nice! What would your perfect writing / reading room look like?
A small studio, within the perfect distance away yet near a beach. With plenty of windows that let lots of sunshine in and full of intricate and inspiring artwork from my friends.That also comes with a cleaning service, a fully stocked fridge of water and healthy food. As well as a list of take out locations too!
That’s nice. What job do you think you’d be really good at?
I think that I would make a great Music History curator. Especially if I got the chance to study more of World Music!
What skill would you like to master?
I would love to master learning different languages so that I can become a polyglot.
That’s interesting. What kind of environment or situation do you think will benefit ones usage of several languages?
I feel that I would benefit by being able to connect more with my bilingual and polyglot friends as well as travel to more places in the world more comfortably with the use of several languages.
In your own words, what is love?
Love is universal acceptance of all things. Abundance of happiness that you welcome into your life to make better, not whole.
Are we to accept all things though? What about the not-so-good things in the world, are there any limitations? Does love have limits?
No, we do not have to accept all things, in my opinion. To protect our peace and to not cause harm to others, there must be limitations. The idea that love can have no limits is a fairy tale at best. I feel that love does have limits. It must, in order to save us from ourselves.
K. McCoy wants to live in a world where indie vinyl record shops can be found in every city and sweets don’t come with so many calories. As an Independent Author, she is now putting the finishing touches on her first novelette, MAGIX, which will be released this year. Her stories are those of awkward cute meets, sassy women who take no ish, and sweet declarations and discoveries of love. Her poetry covers mental health, self-love, body positivity, and quirky traits that are to be celebrated.
When she is not baking or playing cards against Humanity with her friends, you can find her writing down new ideas and concepts somewhere sunny or discovering new music on online.
Thanks a lot for the opportunity to introduce myself, and I hope I do your space proud. So here goes.
When I was a child, I asked one thing of God. I asked that I never live a boring life. I just know the minute I made that prayer that God leaned back, smiled, and said: “Okay, buckle up Mr. Adventure!”I guess you really need to be careful what you ask for. You just might get it. My name is William Ablan (not my real name, of course). I write under a pen name for one reason. About seventy-five percent of what I write about happened, and doing so under a pen name gives me the chance to put some distance between me and it. More on that later.
Okay Mr. Adventure, what was your childhood dream?
I was raised a cowboy, and I can do all the cowboy stuff to include riding, roping, branding, and so on. I’m the son of a rancher but realized at an early age that wasn’t the life I wanted. My eyes were fixed on the stars, and I wanted to ride a rocket into space (still might someday). I took my degree in the second most useless thing in the world and then couldn’t find a job.
Aww. That sucks. What then?
Two months later they called, and I spent the next twenty years being a police officer. As I said, I wanted adventure, and I got it. I worked not only the streets but undercover narcotics, plainclothes investigations, protected VIPs, been an Undersheriff and a Chief of Police. I can’t say I regretted my time working in Law Enforcement. During that time I’ve been assaulted several times, stabbed twice, and shot at a few times. It opened my eyes to the dark side of the human race.
It also showed me that there’s good in everyone. Sometimes, you have to dig to find it, but it’s there. Sometimes the last person on Earth you’d think would be at your side are the ones trying desperately to save the life of a stranger, or going into a dangerous situation and doing something heroic. Or something as simple as being vulnerable to try to talk to someone. The good is there, and when people let it out, it’s dazzling.
With, you being a former law enforcement officer, I have to ask. What do you think of police brutality in the black community? How would you solve this problem?
Any brutality isn’t good. I think I’m ill-equipped to answer that question. The towns and counties I was a police officer in had no black community. That said, it still happened, maybe not to blacks, but certainly other races. I knew Hispanic cops that got themselves in a bind being racist against whites, and the reverse is also true. But I also knew Hispanic cops who brutalized their own and the same concerning whites. The first time I was around a lot of blacks was when I was in the military. I never had any problems and count a huge number of blacks among my best friends.
What’s the answer? I wish I knew. Part of me says better training and better screening of potential police officers. I suspect the truth is simply being a better human being. I only know one way to get that, and that involves God.
William, what are your thoughts on race in general?
The genealogy stuff factors in with my views on race. I don’t get it. From what I’ve been able to learn, my ancestors got ran out of almost every decent country around, got here, and ran into more of my ancestors who did their best to scalp them. Somehow they managed to get along long enough to produce me. I’ve got blood connections to almost every people who have ever walked the Earth with the possible exceptions of China, Japan, and India (and it wouldn’t surprise me too much to find out it’s folded in there someplace).
Now an admission I wish I didn’t have to make. My parents were rather racist, especially against whites (and here I am, half white) I found their views disgusting. They openly expressed hate, and I thought that’s not logical. By their thinking, I’m having to hate part of me. I guess I’ve extended that thinking to all people since I have a pretty good idea of what became me.
Let’s talk about writing a bit. Why did you start writing?
I started writing because I’m into genealogy. I always heard stories about some of my ancestors, and with very few exceptions, none of them left more than the barest records of what they’d done and who they were. In some cases, the stories I heard weren’t true.
I can understand that for sure…
An example is my great, great grandfather. The story I heard was he was in the Confederate army, had been captured, and spent the war in the Union POW camp in Allentown. Now, granted, the POW system back then was a mess, but if you spent four years someplace, you would think your name would turn up. I could never find anything from the Confederate Army reference him either. Then one day, I got an unexpected break. Turns out he was never in the Confederacy, but in the Union Army. And he was an officer to boot. Where did the other story come from? Near as I can figure that since he was from North Carolina, they made it up so he wouldn’t get beat up! Later, he and his family came out west with the Mormon’s, and he was a General in their militia. I’d love to have known his stories and heard what he had to say.
What a story.
So, that’s why I started writing. I’ve not only been in places where history was being made but in some cases, helped shape it. I didn’t want my great, great grandchildren trying to figure out who I was. I’d leave a record for them.
But writing it down involved taking a step away from myself. Some of the events were still pretty raw and I had to report the best I could. I invented a character and inflicted my adventures on him. And a really funny thing began to happen. I discovered writing was healing.
I take it you are religious William…
Yes. I’m a Christian. Now why I’m a Christian involves what I could know I’m capable of being. In the Bible, we read the story of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. The Pharisee stood in the temple telling God how cool he was, and that he did this and that. Basically, he was telling God that God was lucky to have him on his side. The Tax Collector didn’t do that. The Bible tells us he stood there, admitting again and again that he a sinner. The Bible tells us it was the Tax collector who went away justified before God because he was being honest with God.
Well, I was the Pharisee. As a Police Officer, I saw it my duty to protect the world, and while I never abused anyone, took bribes, or such, I was viewing myself as the perfect person. It’s easy to do. What I didn’t realize is there was a monster in me.
One day, I ran into it. We were in Saudi Arabia, a few short days from invading Iraq. We had a Platoon Sgt who was horrible at best, incompetent at worse. He thought you pushed combat troops the same way you push recruits (you don’t, in case you’re wondering). He went down with us saying he wanted to get the purple heart. By day two, we were all willing to help him.
So, we’re breaking down and getting ready to move up to the border when he comes up and starts screaming at me about something. To this day I can’t tell you what he said. All I know what something in me said, “Screw him!” as he turned and started walking away, I suddenly felt a hand on top of mine. A friend of mine was whispering in my ear, “Will, he’s not worth it.” My pistol was halfway out of its holster. My friend had stopped me from doing something incredibly stupid. Had he not been there, you and I wouldn’t be having this conversation right now.
You got some stories in you William!
I got a glimpse of the monster in us, and it terrified me. I realized I was no better than some of the people I’d sent to prison for murder. It was a very humbling encounter. That night, I prayed, maybe for the first time in ages. I asked God that if he got me out of this intact, and my mind sane, I’d serve him. And I thanked him for putting someone in my life for stopping me from killing that man.
It was six months before I started trying to keep that promise. Today, I can’t imagine ever having been the guy who almost killed a man.
Enough heavy stuff.
Okay. Let’s switch it up a bit. Tell us more about you, what foods do you like? Music? That stuff.
I’m a huge fan of hamburgers.
Lol! Yes to hamburgers!
While I love County-Western music, and Rock, I spend most of my time listening to Classical music, especially when I’m writing. I’m into some of the newer stuff that has a classical sound to it (think the soundtrack to Tron by Daft Punk).
Umm.. no idea who that is but carry on.
And if there was a single artist I could shadow, it would be the country artist Charles Russell. I’d enjoyed spending an afternoon with him riding across the open plains. He wrote about and painted the land he loved. I guess it’s his passion I’d want to tap into.
What genre do you write in?
I write what can best be called Police Adventure. I published my first book last year. It’s called the Cross and the Badge, and to a large degree is about learning to live with the pains of the past. My next book is a direct sequel called “Dead Friends.” I’m aiming for a release date of 1 Sep.
Congratulations on the new release! I don’t think we discussed what you are doing now.
My wife and I live in a not so little town anymore called Greeley, Colorado. Some of my fondest memories is time spent with her. Like when we’d be coming back late at night from a gig she’d played (she played in a Country-Western band), stop under a star-filled sky, and talk until dawn.
I’ve children and grandchildren and could acquire great grandchildren here real soon. I’ve threatened my grand kids with death if they do that to me anytime soon. I’m too young to be a Great Grandfather.
And I like to introduce myself as a Writer who moonlights as a Systems Administrator. I’ve been working in Information Technology for over twenty years now. People consider me an expert (definition of an Expert – Someone who knows nothing about everything…)
…in Virtualization, Information Security, and Disaster Recovery. I must know something about it. I also teach it.
If you had a superpower that could chance the world, what would it be?
It’s odd that one of your questions would be about having a superpower and using it to change the world. I think I discovered I had a superpower while I was a police officer. It was the ability to change lives, often times for the good. Granted, there are people I sent to prison. I thank God we have prisons to put some of those people in (some of them were a lot dangerous or crazy or whatever. Suffice it to say, they killed people and enjoyed it). But often times I was able to intervene in things and get people the help they needed to get them off the path that led to those places. I guess if the superpower had a name it would be called “caring.” I found myself being a mentor, a counselor, and an encourager. As I see it, I’d been placed in a unique position, and I’d be a fool not to try to help people out.
While I hung up my guns over twenty years ago, I still find myself helping people. As part of my church, I find myself working closely with veterans, gang members, and people life has beat up. And I suppose in some crazy way, that answers one of your questions about what love is. I know there’s the love I have for my wife, children, and grandchildren, but this is the kind of love Jesus has I suppose. The kind of love that tells someone that they’re important and not something to be feared or cast aside. I always remember that one of the miracles he performed was with a leper. A leper was someone who should never be touched. Before Jesus healed him, he touched him. He acknowledged that person as important. To me, that was a true miracle.
So, you don’t need to be able to fly, or have knives come out of your wrist to change the world. Sometimes you just need to stand up and try.
Thank you William for spending this time with us. We enjoyed you!
William R. Ablan is a graduate of Adams State University in Alamosa, Colorado where he majored in Astronomy and Physics. Because of the tough job market, he spent the next twenty years in Law Enforcement where he’s worked as a Police Officer and Deputy Sheriff. He’s also held several important positions to include Undersheriff, Chief of Police, and Regional Emergency Manager for the San Luis Valley. He’s also an eight-year U.S. Army combat veteran where he served as a Military Policeman where he worked undercover narcotics and investigations. He’s been decorated several times for heroism and performance in both Law Enforcement and the Military.
He’s currently the author of “The Cross and the Badge.” His second book, “Dead Friends” will be released September 1, 2019. It’s what he calls, Autobiographical fiction in that the majority of the cases happened, but he’s taken some literary license with the facts to turn them into a work of fiction.
Will hung up his guns in the 90s, and has work in the Information Technology field since. He’s considered an expert in Network Security, Cloud Technologies, and Virtualization.
He resides in Greeley, Colorado with his wife Julie and works with veterans through his local church. He has children and grandchildren, and currently lives in dread of possibly becoming a great grandfather.
If you follow my social media (my personal accounts) then you know why I was excited yesterday. I am Soul got approved for stocking at Barnes and Noble at its Marietta, Georgia location, making this the fourth store to carry one or more of my books. This may not mean much to you but, briefly, here’s why these things excite me:
Poetry is not like other books, it’s hard to sell and yet I am Soul has been selling since its release in 2017. I don’t mean selling a lot. I mean consistent sales over time. (Much like consistent book reviews. They may not all come in on the day of release but if they trickle in every now and again for months or even years, that’s still good!)
I am Soul has remained relevant for two years even though I’ve published other books, something I have not been as successful with before. (No matter how long it’s been since publishing your book, it is always relevant. It can never be unwritten or go out of style. Make sure it doesn’t. Keep promoting it. Keep it fresh.)
I am not backed by a publisher. I am my own Publisher.
I don’t have a lot of money. Everything I make goes right back into the work. (In the beginning, you will have to invest in yourself. Although I’ve been publishing awhile, this is still the beginning for me).
I don’t have a lot of social media followers (if that’s important).
I gave a short testimony on my socials on being prepared but I will go in more detail here since we have the space (no worries, I’ll keep this short).
When I walked into Barnes and Noble yesterday and spoke with the manager, a few things she said stuck out.
“Oh, you have books.”
She seemed surprised.
When I shop my books around I carry the container you see here. It’s just something I got from Walmart many years ago. It only looks new because I cleaned it off. Don’t wanna embarrass my mama by going outside with something that looks like who did it and why did they do it. In this plastic container box are books, bookmarks, business cards, a PayPal Here card reader (because you never know if you meet someone on the street who might wanna buy a book. No cash? No problem! I can scan you right here lol), my author seal stickers, and a writing pen.
Eventually, after some convo, the woman asked to see one of my books so she could look me up.
“Most Self-Publishers come in here and they’re not in the system,” she said.
We’ll go into detail about what this means and how to get in the system later (I am putting something together to help Indies with that). For now, just picture walking into a B&N and picking up a book. You carry it over to the counter. Well, when the ISBN is scanned, what happens? If the book is in the B&N computer the information about pricing and everything comes up. This makes things easier on the store. How so? Because they can easily scan the book when someone picks it up, just as they would with any other book. (You can Self-Publish books with no ISBN but then you can’t sell it at stores.)
After going over the details and her agreeing to stock my book, I signed the copies we would leave there.
Me: “I’m gonna go ahead and sign these.”
“Yes, please do. We sell a lot of poetry. It’s making a comeback.”
“You have stickers?”
(she meant something that lets the reader know the book is signed….Queue my author seal!)
Me: “I do.”
“Got a pen?”
Me: “I do.”
Everything she asked me for, I had on my person. I am not saying I am always this prepared. I am not perfect or special. And it’s not like she wouldn’t have given me a pen if I didn’t have one. But by already having one I presented myself as an organized professional serious about her work because…
…and I am not just talking about physical preparation. I am also talking about mental preparation, spiritual preparation (faith), and time.
Time is part of the preparation. Time to research. Time to learn and understand. Time to ask questions. Time to write, publish, revise, improve, write and publish again. Time to make mistakes and learn from them. Time to put things in position so that when the time comes, you are ready.
At the recent signing, I had to recite a poem on the spot. I prepared for this. I knew one day it would come so when it happened I was ready. I was nervous, but I had a couple of poems in my head I knew by memory just in case. I was only prepared this time because I’ve dealt with not being prepared. Years ago, at a conference, I was asked to recite a poem. It was one of my audience favorite poems. I stood up there, said a few lines and forgot the rest! It was an old poem. A poem I should have never forgotten the words to. I was so embarrassed. I wanted to run out of the room. Instead, I quietly returned to my seat, ashamed. Prepare!
I’ve been publishing my books since 2008 but it took six years before I really got my books seen by people outside of my immediate circle. Six years to realize how much I didn’t know. Many of you are already way passed where I was when I started. You are much further along than you think. I’m just catching up.
Prepare for where you want to be. Get in position because if you are not ready when it comes it will make no difference. If the universe wants to pour into your cup but you are not even holding a cup, it will make no difference how long you’ve been standing there. You weren’t ready when what you said you wanted, arrived.