No One is You And That is Your Power

Langston Hughes and Gwendolyn Brooks at Hall Branch Library, Chicago, IL, 1949. Credit: George Cleveland Hall Branch Archives, photo 146, Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection.

I still go to libraries.

I got my first library card at the Hall Branch Library on 48th in Michigan on Chicago’s south side. I was thirteen years old and still needed my mother’s signature. I wasn’t into Black History back then. I chose this library because I wanted to check out books, and it was down the street from my grandmother’s house.

Here’s where it gets interesting.

Dr. George Cleveland Hall

Yesterday, I discovered Hall Branch was named for the renowned African American surgeon, social activist, and civic leader Dr. George Cleveland Hall (1864-1930). It was the first Chicago Public Library location with a Black branch manager, Vivian G. Harsh, who served as its first manager. We will get deeper into Hall’s background on this Friday’s Black History Fun Fact, the last one of the year.

In 1949, Langston Hughes and Gwendolyn Brooks visited the Hall Branch to celebrate the publication of The Poetry of the Negro Anthology.

On July 7, 2000, the Friends of Libraries USA (now United for Libraries) and Illinois Center for the Books designated Hall Branch as a literary landmark. This was in recognition of its promotion of African American literary culture by serving as a meeting place for such writers as Arna Bontemps, Gwendolyn Brooks, Lorraine Hansberry, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Claude McKay, and Richard Wright. (Learn more about the Chicago Renaissance of the Black Belt Here).

I thought I had picked this library at random and for no particular reason. I had no idea it was so rich with Black History or that it was this hub for Black writers.

This helped me to see how unique each of our journeys are. No one has walked in your shoes or experienced what you’ve experienced. No one is you, and that is your power.

Everything is a stepping stone to get us to the place Yah has destined for us, every path like a thread weaving and connecting everything together.

It would be years before I learned who Langston Hughes and Gwendolyn Brooks were, and many more years before I would publish a collection of poetry of my own.

Little did I know I was building on the same foundation as those who came before me.

Talk about the power of purpose!

Also, I still got that library card!

Have you read My Soul is a Witness? I am striving for 20 book reviews at minimum before the year is out. If you read this book, I would appreciate so much if you reviewed it! Go to the page here. Scroll down to Write Customer Review, click that, rate and review. Boom. Done.


Authentic Support

As an author, I am always thinking about ways I can add value to my audience. It’s easy to point the finger when you don’t see people being as supportive as you think they should be, but I am the person who will always look at me first. In doing this, I have thought about what support means, not from an author/entrepreneur perspective, but from the perspective of the reader/audience member. Why? Because I was a reader before I was a writer.

This has led me to think about the importance of authentic support.

I think authenticity is important even when supporting others. No one can be bullied, into supporting. It has to be in them to do it. It has to be part of who they are. People have to be passionate about whatever it is they are supporting.

Authentic – true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character 

It was easy to get upset with people for not being supportive until I realized the truth: People support what is true to their personality, spirit, or character. It doesn’t matter if we are of the same family, organization, or group. People will support what is in alignment with who they are. It has to speak to them.

There must be some connection or commonality between the supporter and the movement, some kind of bridge connecting the two that makes the support worth it. When I think of it this way, I am more at ease with those who don’t support me because I realize it’s not personal. If the support is to be genuine, the person must first feel some kind of connection to whatever it is they are supporting.

I can’t speak for others, but I know that in my experience in the Indie Author community there is a lot of talk about being supportive but the thing is, people, don’t support just for the sake of supporting. I know we would like to think of it this way but that’s not the truth. If I am being real with myself and looking at this from the reader/audience/observer’s perspective then I have to admit that we support what we believe in. If what is being offered isn’t in agreement with that belief, we will probably be less supportive.

I learned that if I am being my authentic self, then I will attract authentic support.

Be Authentic: Message to New Indie Authors

In, building connections as a writer on social media, it’s important that you are authentic in those interactions. What does this mean? It means to be genuine and true, to be real but what does this mean? To be genuine and true is to be yourself in a way that does not force others to accept you, but brings together those who share the same passion as you do. People can tell if you are sharing something just to sell your books or sharing something because you deeply love it and you care about sharing that love with others for their benefit. You genuinely want to educate people, inspire people, empower people, or you want to make them laugh, or help them to heal or evolve. What people get out of getting to know more about you? What value do you offer that helps to make their lives better? This is what building relationships are about. It’s not so much about the book itself, it’s more who you are, who we all are and how your book seeks to make us better. It doesn’t matter if you write fiction or non-fiction, in what way are we better from reading your book? This answer is revealed in your genuine interactions with others. People can tell if the information you are sharing is not authentic. We can tell if you’re sharing something just to sell your book versus sharing something because you want us to be better.

The problem is not that “artistry” doesn’t sell. There is no debate to be had about writing as an art and as a business. It is both. Integrity is everything and I personally believe no one should ever compromise that. Even more so, I believe it is this very integrity that makes us interested in an artist in the first place whether that artist is an author or musician or painter. There’s this debate about wanting to make real money from writing or treating it as an art I do not understand. There is no competition to be had. It is possible to be a serious businessperson and artist at the same time. The problem is too many new Indie authors aren’t authentic about the art enough to build trust among readers to the extent that we care about supporting that author’s work.

This isn’t about trying to find anyone to read our books. You are in search of people who share your passions, goals, and belief system. You aren’t here to force people to share those passions and beliefs but to connect with those who do. This isn’t about trying to make people like you. This is about genuinely connecting with those who do. These are authentic connections. It doesn’t matter how many times you talk about your book if I know nothing about you or share your vision or if I don’t care about what you are bringing to the table, I am not buying the book and I am not the reader you want. You don’t want me. You want the reader interested in the value you are bringing. To get here is to start with offering value where being yourself is not a gimmick.

If you would like to take the step toward helping your potential readers to get to know more about you and your passions and how you can help to make us better through your writing, be sure to take part in my Author Introduce Yourself Feature, specifically designed to help us to get to know you better. Learn how to do so HERE and stay tuned for tomorrow’s featured author.

Also, don’t forget that FOUR of my books are on sale for the month of February. If you are into Black Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction or poetry, choose your favorite book by clicking HERE and pay just 99cents from now through 2/28. 

We Feel

Image Credit: Unsplash

We think and we feel and leak emotion in black ink in hopes to build bridges of commonality with others. Those who aren’t afraid to feel. To admit that last night had us hungover in our own feelings and that we sought to heal on paper. So, we sat there. Knee deep in tears from thoughts that marinated too long. The liquid-shaped hurt that rose from someplace we vowed to keep hidden for fear feeling wasn’t allowed. And still, we slipped up and let our thoughts hit the page where readers are left now to sit and mourn thoughts accidentally left on WordPress readers because someone left us a cracked smile. A “LOL” that came out just as twisted and crooked as reciting letters instead of coughing up a belly of laughter. You see, we don’t expect you to understand. You text in a language only your computer understands. For us? We cry out loud, dripping puddles of emotions we miracle into coherent sentences. For those of us who aren’t afraid to bleed real on the page. We feel.

Be Yourself on Social Media

Social media has created an environment where people who live in their mother’s basement can post pictures of traveling the world so that the world will never know they’re homeless. Couples can smile and cuddle under the flash of a Selfie while sleeping in separate beds. Writers are encouraged to show snapshots of their lives so readers can see the real but is it? Real? We want people to Like Us and Follow our life but most of what you see online is superficial. Just because you don’t see much of me doesn’t mean I am unhappy. You don’t see me posting lots of pictures of my life because I actually have one. Not many pictures of my husband because we are truly happy so I don’t feel obligated to prove it. I’ll post them when I feel like it. No images of food because I cook in real life. There’s nothing wrong with sharing a piece of yourself online but it does not define who you are. If you’re not into getting personal on social media that doesn’t mean you’ve doomed a failure. Just because they (I still don’t know who they are) say you have to tell us what you had for dinner last night doesn’t mean that you must if that’s not who you are. My social media of choice is Twitter but only because I like it. I Tweet and Retweet when I want to and to be honest I’m not thinking about how it makes me look. I’m not thinking about what people think of me, I’m just doing what I enjoy doing. The point is that the uniqueness we all talk about is important to have is really simple. It just means that you are being yourself. This automatically sets you apart because this “Yourself” is different from anyone else. Not even Twins have the same fingerprint (and as a Twin I can tell you we can be very different. Tracey and me are two different people who happened to be born five minutes apart). If the expert says I should post more about my favorite food, I get it. Try and be relatable but is this me? No, it’s not me because EC does not talk about food. My point is that advice must be filtered or it will have you behaving in ways that aren’t you. I am not saying not to be strategic but that you can still be successful without getting extremely personal if that’s just not you. If you remember nothing else remember this: in a world of sameness you’re either different or invisible so you may as well just be yourself because YOU are unique and beautiful and all the words I didn’t say.

True to Yourself


This is a repost. I thought this would be a good time to remind us of something very important when navigating the online world.

Stay true to yourself.

The major similarities I see that unites all social networking forums is that you’re bound to have people who are not being honest about their intentions, and what they plan to achieve by taking part in the online community. Of course, we have to expect that any time there’s an opportunity for people to wear a mask you’re going to have these kinds of situations. This is, after all the internet, and is filled with people who wear a façade. People whose fingers do not transcribe the truths concerning the inward man. In a world as endless as the internet, it is easy to get lost in the hype moving throughout the cyber world. It’s easy to pretend, and to become someone other than who you are. If you’re just naturally wicked, it is also just as easy to pretend to be a good person, though your heart is a web of lies and deception.

When you’re gliding along the social world, it is easy to get distracted from your primary goal and what you set out to accomplish. Further, it is just as easy to start to take on the same thoughts and opinions of those you’re around the most. This is perhaps the most important aspect of online writing that I believe is important for new and experienced bloggers. For the mimicking of purpose to fit in can creep up on you if you let it. By creep I mean that changes do not enter our lives all at once but piece by piece. Slowly and with great patience change chips at you until you have  adapted into something or someone else.


Blogging, probably more than any social platform is exciting, educational, and inspiring. However, just like every other social platform the truth is that there are more snakes out here than there are angels and they are not your friends, buddies, pals, or playmates. They’re not here to take you to the movies and hang out with you because you liked their post or followed their blog. In fact, they may just be writing your death letter while sending a smiley face.

For instance, in the blogosphere, there are those who often complain that they are not interested in gaining more followers, or networking and such and such. While this isn’t the thought process of most, I am convinced that some of you are not being true to yourself in regard to what you really want from your blogs. Some of you actually care about gaining more traffic but for whatever reasons, you’re afraid to admit it.

Truth is, I think someone can still care about growing their blogs or company without compromising who they are. I believe a person can genuinely care about increasing subscriber rates, expanding networks, and building relationships while maintaining their integrity. I believe there are people who care about these things not because they want people to praise them, and not because they bask in the attention from others, but simply because they’re reaching people, even if only two out of two-hundred are actually paying attention.

In updating this post, I came across two very interesting articles. One from the blogosphere and the other from an article posted from LinkedIn:

Amazon’s New Reviewing Rules – Could it Affect Authors in the Future?

10 Things Successful Entrepreneurs Don’t Do (Themselves!)

You may be asking yourself, what do these articles have in common?

The first article speaks about Amazon’s changes in reviewing products and the other talks about the importance of investing in third party sources to help to build your business. One of my favorite excerpts is:

“Time is an entrepreneur’s most valuable commodity. Yet one of the biggest problems for small businesses and startups is that the founders are wasting their time trying to do it all. We euphemistically say we “wear lots of hats” but the truth is that entrepreneurs are often trying to save money by doing it all themselves. This can be a huge mistake. There are some things that are better done by professional and are better delegated or outsourced.” – Benard Marr

This made me stop to think about the Indie Author Community and how it relates to the first article concerning receiving free items in exchange for reviews. I started to think critically about this and happened upon the epiphany that Self-Publishing didn’t get its stigmas from poorly written books alone. No, there is something else to it and it is possible that Marr is on to something.

Close up portrait of a young african american woman looking out window when working on laptop

If Independent Publishing is just as important, if not more, than any other entrepreneurial business, and if it is to be taken just as seriously and handled with just as much professionalism, why is it that Self-Publishers invest as little money, time, and effort as possible in this very important field? Why is it that everything must be free for us to trust it? The first article is very interesting in that we may be coming upon a time where authors have to pay for reviews or invest some kind of payment. While I hope not, article two is a great conversation starter into why this may be the case for our future considering Self-Publishing is an act of entrepreneurship.

Amazon is changing things obviously because of the level of fraud out there, and we can be sure that giving away books for free in exchange for reviews is bound to change with every 5 star rating given to an obviously crappy book. While I’m hoping this won’t be the case, the truth is that amazon has a reputation to uphold  and like every other wise business person or company, understands that  free does not always guarantee quality. It’s the reason we pay more for name brands because we know that what we’re getting is top quality.

How does this relate to being true to yourself?

I like thinking differently and speaking on subjects that make people scratch their heads. It is what makes me who I am. I don’t have to be like you, think like you, or agree with you. This is an attitude we should all have. Otherwise, you can be easily influenced by others opinions and thoughts. In short, you have no vison and no goal, and the reason behind your actions is empty.

So, you wanna start a blog? Then do it with authority. Own your words and stand by your decisions and your goals. So what if you’re a nobody, so was Oprah at one point in her life. So was Stephen King, and so was your beloved JK Rowling. Pay no mind to what others say or think of you and never ever depend on man to validate you. Stay true to yourself and why you set out to embark on the journeys to which you find yourself. People fall in love with other people, not echoes. What is success? You choose. Dare to be different. Change the game.