A Poem is Born

Photo by Marc Schulte on Unsplash

Not all poems are conceived in light

Some of them are buried in darkness

Surrounded by dirt and soil

gritted teeth

and clenched fists.

Sometimes the lyric is a resurrection of rage

a fire that is only quenched through spilled ink

on blank pages.

Sometimes poems are tears

because not all compositions are conceived

in well-lit rooms

some poems are seeds that only grow in darkness

or did you not know that is how seeds grow?

Hidden, covered and planted in the dirt

the sun coming in from someplace outside of itself

water pouring in from someplace outside of itself.

Some sonnets are crushed grapes

crumpled and left for dead

or did you not know that is how wine is made?

Something fermenting

festered and developing into something worse.

Some poems are nearly dead

before they reach the light.

Or did you not know that is how Messiah rose?

from the grave

from the pit

from the earth.

When you feel that you cannot write

that your life is a laughing contradiction

thrown back into your face

a joke everyone gets but you

when your hands tremble with uncertainty

too weak to hold the pen

too fragile to unvirgin the page

Write anyway.

Because not all poems are conceived in light

some of them, the best of them

are buried in darkness

and covered in dirt.

until suddenly, like a sprouting seed

a poem is born.


REMINDER: Don’t forget to preorder Keep Yourself Full in ebook below. Free with Kindle Unlimited.

Keep Yourself Full is a spiritual handbook that focuses on our return to self-love. It is a reminder that self-care nourishes the quality of our lives and makes us fit to be of service to others. Through my testimony, I give examples of how we self-abuse and how that differs from self-love, why it is essential not to take things so personally, why we must establish and enforce healthy boundaries, and how assumptions kill relationships. We learn that by investing in our well-being spiritually, physically, mentally, and professionally, we can be of service fully to others. It cannot be ignored that we treat others how we feel about ourselves. When we realize that what we do to others, we are equally doing to ourselves, we can use this awareness to heal. By treating ourselves better, we treat others better. Keep Yourself Full is about keeping ourselves filled with love and all that is good so that we are overflowing with enough to share with everyone else.

CLICK HERE TO PREORDER

CLICK HERE TO MARK AS WANT TO READ ON GOODREADS

Advertisements

Small Growth is still Growth

It’s hard running a small business. Independent Artists (authors, publishers, musicians, filmmakers, etc.) aren’t backed by huge companies and corporations and many of us don’t have millions of dollars in the bank. In fact, most small business owners still have 9-5s because, like you, we have bills to pay and families to provide for. But the truth is most people only see the result, the finished book, the mastered track, the Indie film. You don’t see the prayers that go up, the tears that come out, and hope that what you are doing is not in vain. You don’t see the depressed spirits of artists who lack support and feel like giving up. Sometimes it can be so overwhelming that it doesn’t seem as if you are making progress at all.

That’s why noticing small growth is important to me. I don‘t post about my work for applause, fake pats on the back or to look important. I post and get excited about it because baby steps still move us forward. Even when it’s something small and even when it may seem silly to others I am free and I have the freedom of celebrating where I am on the way to where I am going. It’s time we stop waiting until we’ve become Bestsellers to see the value in our work.

In these moments let’s remind ourselves that progress does not have a price tag, it’s not a social media meme, and it’s not a popularity contest. If you went from $0 to $10, you have progressed. If you went from no book sales at a signing to five books sold, you have progressed. If you’ve gone from wanting to publish a book to holding that book in your hands, you have progressed. Even if you’ve only moved from the bottom of the bookshelf squeezed between books where hardly anyone will ever see it, to the top of the poetry section (yours truly) you have progressed! Stop waiting to be some kind of celebrity before you realize the value in your work. Growth is growth no matter how small or seemingly insignificant.

If you love poetry, black history, or self-care literature and you are in the Marietta/Atlanta area, I’d appreciate you investing in me by stopping by this B&N (address below) and purchasing a copy of my poetry book, I am Soul or grab and review the ebook on Amazon here. (Listen to my poetry on YouTube here).

Thank you for your time, attention, and support of a small business owner. Remember that support begets support.

Store Location:

Barnes and Noble Booksellers

The Avenue West Cobb

3625 Dallas Hwy

Suite 40

Marietta, GA 30064

Lessons from a Book Signing

It’s time for another post on lessons from a book signing. I try to learn something new from every event I do. I also enjoy seeing if what we learn online applies when in direct, real life, person-to-person contact. Here’s what I learned from Friday‘s Book Signing.

  • Practice Makes Perfect

 

While I am not perfect by any means, consistency and practice really do help us to get better. Cliche as it is now, the saying is true. The more book signings and events I do, the better I get at pitching my books. I am a naturally shy person but author events help me to be more open. It is the chance for me to learn how to communicate what my book is about without being scripted (which is easy to do when you’re behind a computer), but that you only have seconds to do in person. For example, I had the chance to sit and think about what I wanted to say here, how to say it and the words that would best sum up this experience. In person, the time is much, much faster. There is no time to sit and think about what to say. There is nothing but your knowledge of your product and why you think it‘s worth the time and money investment. They even asked me to recite a poem on the spot! I am thankful to Yah I was ready.

 

It’s also not just about selling books but genuine interaction with the people. There were many people who bought books but did not take pictures because they didn’t want to and I did not force them. Some people didn’t buy books at all, but they sat and talked with me and laughed and we shared some interesting conversation. I met a new poet who told me about some open mic spots to hit up and a young man who referred me to a Barnes and Noble in the area that accepts Self-Published Authors. The best way to get started making change is to begin where you are.

 

  • Competing Against Cell Phone Attention Spans

 

In person, you get to see the distractions we compete with up close and personal. People‘s attention spans are short already but add to it the mobile device and it’s easy to get discouraged. Many of the people who walked past my table were glued to their mobile device or already talking on it. This makes me much more conscious of this when doing business online. Knowing that the interest in the smartphone is a big deal is one thing but seeing it empowers me with so many new ideas and thoughts on how I, as an author can keep this in mind when interacting with readers.

 

  • Don’t Try to Sell to Everyone (Don’t Sell At All, Connect)

 

The same thing about finding your target audience online applies to offline as well. While the time is faster and you do have to pull people away from their phones, discernment is important as well. I am starting to pick up on who to reach out to (literally) and who to let walk by. This may sound funny but it’s not just about getting a sale. Some people purposely crossed the street to avoid my table (lol), some people purposely focused on the ground and avoided eye contact, and some people were not on the phone. They just pretended to be to avoid me. These are examples that “I don‘t want to be bothered.” Just like not everyone will want to buy your book online, not everyone wants to buy your book in person. Some things I picked up on from people who wanted to buy my book or was interested in learning more:

 

  • They hesitated and stared at the book cover while walking by
  • They stopped by
  • They spoke to me
  • They asked questions
  • They stopped when hearing what the book was about

There are ways of knowing if you should reach out to people and if you should not. I hope to use the experience from Friday to help me at the Atlanta book signing in July.

  • Some Writing Advice Does Not Apply Offline

 

Every time I meet with people face to face it‘s a different experience than being online. What may surprise you is that I find writing advice (not all, but some) we use online does not apply to offline. There’s no screen, no script, no hashtag, nothing but good ole fashioned communication between two people who may share a genuine interest. In real life people do want your business card to learn more about you, they do ask about your website, and they want to know if they can follow you online. This means that while some advise against business cards, author websites and social media, this is not true when you are face to face with the people. In my experience, no one asks to follow your blog or if they can sign up to your email list (unless there’s already a sign-up form present and you ask them). While I think both are important and are necessary for Indie Authors to have (and both have helped me tremendously), in my experience when talking to the people in person who don‘t already know me, the basics they want to know is:

 

  • Do you have a card?
  • Do you have a website?
  • Can I follow you online?
  • Can I pay with my card?

 

Applying this means:

 

  • Having business cards with me
  • Having a website for people to go to
  • Being present on social media
  • Having a card reader on hand

 


If you did not get to stop by or you are not in the area, remember that I am Soul, my latest collection of poetry is 99cents in ebook through the month of April in honor of National Poetry Month. Also, if you are in the Atlanta area this summer, I’ll be at the Atlanta African American Book Festival in July. I’ll be premiering my first Non-Fiction release, Keep Yourself Full (of course I’ll still have my other books present as well) and other author swag. Don’t miss the chance to connect. See you soon ✒📚📸

View more pictures from this signing here
Connect with me on IG here, Facebook here, and Twitter here
Visit me on the web Here

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. 

You Are Somebody

Someone gave birth to you. Pushed you out into the world like they knew you were somebody. Wrapped you in all the passion that led them here and anointed your body with a name fit for royalty. Do you know your name? Have you sought its meaning? Do you know your own somebodiness? And even though you made mistakes, consistently proving the universe wrong (like you aren’t worthy of this name), it is still yours. No matter how many times you fell, your somebodiness didn’t leave you. It was there all along, far before you were formed in your mother’s womb. And even when you were so depressed that you ain’t think you were fit to live, you did it. You did it because you are somebody. Your value does not fade just because you are a little scarred, a little blue. You are still somebody. We only work within the confines of how we perceive ourselves. We cannot be successful until we believe that we are truly worth it. We cannot be successful until we believe that no matter how insignificant we feel, we are still somebody.

“Number one in your life’s blueprint, should be a deep belief in your own dignity, your worth and your own somebodiness. Don’t allow anybody to make you feel that your nobody. Always feel that you count. Always feel that you have worth and always feel that your life has ultimate significance.” – MLK

Your Books in Independent Bookstores

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.

Talking Movies: The Hate You Give

Great breakdown. I have some of the same thoughts. Love the book, not too crazy about the movie. It was just okay in my view as well.

jhohadli

I mostly talk books and writing on this site, but if you’ve followed the site, you know that I’m just a lover of the arts, period, and have opinions on things (not just art). I’ve talked movies here before – Rozanne Roxanne and Annihilation, Room and other movies, Suffragette, Queen of Katwe, Bazodee, Creed, Birdman and Foxcatcher, Spotlight, and others. So, let’s talk, The Hate U Give – for my review of the book, click this link; now on to my review of the film.

hate220px-The_Hate_U_Give_poster

The Hate U Give continues the grand tradition of the book – however imperfect – being better than the movie. Yes, there are exceptions but the generalization exists for a reason. It’s inevitable perhaps that something of the nuance of a story stands to be lost in the translation from page to film.

In the Hate…

View original post 865 more words