Handsome does not conjure the strength succulent enough
to uncover the sun underneath his skin.
Shame on those who sexualize him.
Who sees his body as cheap and public.
Who does he think he is, being darker than a brown paper bag?
Sometimes they notice him
like the sun swinging in the sky
and still, he is only handsome for a dark-skinned guy.
They do not know that he is the color of the gods.
I will describe him the intensity of ebony
a precious rarity.
How’d he get so lucky?
Who bathed him in sunlight?
This black hardwood-colored flesh.
He is black keys on a piano.
Play a song for me.
Whisper truth through lips thick and sensual
remarkably soft and pliable.
This espresso-colored body.
Dangerous when diluted.
Potent when raw.
They do not know any better.
How do you greet someone so breathtakingly gorgeous?
It will take them a minute to get used to the truth.
That not even the bite of winter can dare diminish
It’s easy to get caught up watching everyone else publish their books when you are still writing yours. In the Indie world, people publish frequently; some writers are churning out hits every month. And as we sit there, watching them hit Best Seller’s Lists and USA Today Best Seller’s list, we must fight the urge to rush our WIP (Work in Progress) just for the sake of getting something out there. Some people write best-sellers in a few weeks or months and some people, a few years.
It’s not just watching others publish that can make an author anxious, but it is also excited readers. Authors love their readers and rightfully so! Without a reader, there is no book, so authors cater to the literary needs of their tribe, listening to feedback, praise, criticism, suggestions, and recommendations. But, even in this instance, the author must hold ground!
Authors, lean in close…
No matter what these people say to you, stand firm because the compliments are captivating! Readers know how to stroke the ego. They are truly good at what they do. Do not underestimate it. Suddenly, you are the best author they’ve ever known (yes, more than Toni Morrison and Ralph Ellison, JK Rowling, and Maya Angelou), and your book will give them life. Like, literally give them life. They will die without your next read.
It is going to be okay. I can assure you, the reader is not going to die.
Simply smile, nod, and inform them the next book is coming, but it is not here now.
Trust me. Everyone will live.
Take as much time as is necessary for your masterpiece. Make sure it is as polished as you can afford to make it, and then, when no one is paying attention, it is done.
Your people will love the surprise!
Here are classics that took longer than a few months to write:
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1 Year)
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (2 Years)
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling (6 Years)
The Lord of The Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien (12-17 Years)
Mary Granger is a gifted musician who sees visions of music and moves her hands to the tune of the song she hears in her head, like playing an invisible piano. The children call her “Mad Mary” because she doesn’t understand their jokes. She is nervous, and her mannerisms read like someone with autism or some other disorder. But Mary’s music is extraordinary and came as a way of dealing with the trauma of sexual abuse from her father, James.
Then, there’s the archangel Gabriel, who has been on Earth for a thousand years and is depressed about whether he will ever return to his glorious state. He returns to heaven to find it in chaos. His father (“God”) is gone, and so is his brother Rigel. The angels have adopted a “do what thy will” attitude. Gabriel is searching for a saint who can help him enlighten the world.
Mary and Gabriel meet when the angel is swept away by Mary’s music, which draws her to him like a magnet. Mary is a child, about eleven-years-old, and Gabriel wants her to sell him her music. The child, Mary, can’t sell the music because it takes her away from James’ abuse. Witnessing the act, the angel causes significant pain in the man’s stomach and makes a pact with Mary that he will own the rights to her music in exchange for protection.
He believes Mary’s music is the key to restoring his light and promises her fame and fortune in exchange.
But when Mary is an adult and works as a paralegal, still bound by the contract, Gabriel doesn’t seem to be as kind as he was when she was little. He kills, and people close Mary start to die.
There is a lot to unpack in this book, including the biblical connection between Mary and Gabriel, the angel that came to tell Mariam she was pregnant with the Messiah. And because I believe there are fallen angels who many celebrities worship for fortune and fame, becoming miniature versions of gods on Earth, i.e., stars, I enjoyed the realistic premise of this book. However, the plot in Catch the Moon, Mary is not predictable and gets more profound as the story unfolds.
Catch the Moon, Mary is gracefully written. I was immediately caught up in the poetic writing style of this author. From the first sentence, I was pulled into brilliant prose and description that made reading easy. I felt part of Mary’s world because the writing was like feeling the music, not just reading it. As a poet, I love this. The entire book is written with this kind of artistic expression. The author is unique in her descriptions, so that not one sentence is ordinary. Waters does not just tell us the sun is rising, but that “suddenly, the sky was rimmed with yellow flame as dawn cracked over the horizon like an egg.” She does not just tell us Mary’s music is good, but that, “her music pulsating like breath.”
I was not a fan of the musical notes used instead of Chapter Headings, but it makes sense, given the author’s writing style. As I said, this author is no ordinary writer!
Introduce Yourself is back! Please help me extend a warm welcome to VALI BENSON. Vali, welcome to the PBS Blog!
What is your name and where are you from?
My name is Vali Benson. I was born in Champaign, Illinois, the home of the University of Illinois. After graduating from U of I, I decided to go west to get away from the brutal winter weather. I now live in Tucson, AZ, where I am very happy with my husband, two sons, and grandchildren.
Brutal is right! I am from Chicago so you ain’t never lied there. Vali, got a favorite drink?
Iced tea is my favorite drink, but it has to be super sweet. When I am writing, I need my sweet iced tea. Oddly enough, I do not like ice in my iced tea, and I always chuckle when I hear someone refer to the drink as “Ice” tea. As far as cocktails are concerned, I love a spicy Bloody Mary.
Nice. Favorite food?
My favorite food is escargots. Growing up in Illinois, I would have never dreamed that I would say that, but I absolutely love them. The first time I had escargots was on my honeymoon, and the only reason I did it was that I didn’t want to appear unsophisticated to my new husband. Thank heaven I had no idea what they were at first, or else I would never have tried them.
Let’s talk about writing. When did you publish your first book? What was that like?
My first book, Blood and Silver, was published on April 3, 2020. To be honest, it was surreal. I had completed a lifelong dream of putting my ideas and feelings into an actual book for others to consume. I was numb and excited. At the same time, it was extremely frightening because my innermost thoughts were now fair game for all to criticize. I still cannot believe that I can call myself a published author.
That is awesome. Congratulations and welcome to the world of publishing. That Blood and Silver cover is dope!
What genre do you write in, why?
I generally prefer to write young adult fiction. This is probably because that genre had such an impact on me as a girl. I was not the most confident child, so when I could read about fictional characters that were around my age, it made me feel secure. If my books can instill others with those valued feelings of pride, confidence, and acceptance, I know I will have done my job.
Wonderful. What do you wish you knew more about?
I dearly wish I was more tech-savvy. Computers and I have never really gotten along, but I am sad to say that I am being left behind by the changing times. The day has come when I have had to admit that technology no longer consists of luxury; it exists as a necessity. I better start swimming, or I’ll sink like a stone.
Do you have a favorite color Val?
Blue has always been my favorite color. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I have blue eyes, but I think it is because I am a believer in infinite possibilities. When I was a girl, there was nothing more infinite to me than the big bright blue sky.
Blue is a beautiful color. We love sharing historical fun facts on this blog. Who would you say is your favorite Historical figure?
Jacqueline Kennedy. She was so much more than just First Lady of the United States. Of all her accomplishments, it is her character that I admire most. The way she handled the traumatic events surrounding her husband’s death with the whole world staring at her still amazes me. Her grace, poise, and dignity amid unimaginable catastrophe is something all people, not just women, should aspire to emulate.
Beautifully articulated. What do you think of the world we live in?
The world we live in is truly what we make of it. It all depends on perspective. I choose to be positive and focus on what I cherish in my life and not worry about the elements that are out of my control. One factor to remember is that advancements around our world might change, but people and human nature do not.
What don’t you like about yourself?
Ever since I was a little girl, I have let others’ opinions affect me more than they should. I do not like that I put so much stock in what others think of me. The great thing is, I am getting better at only worrying about how I view myself.
What’s the funniest movie you’ve ever seen?
I love so many funny movies, and comedies are my favorite genre. But one that sticks out to me is Tropic Thunder from 2008. The performances are completely hilarious, and the writing is pure genius, but the film always conjures good vibes. The first time I saw Tropic Thunder, I really needed some cheering up, and it did exactly that. Plus, a bald Tom Cruise in a fat suit always cracks me up!
What is the worst advice you’ve ever been given?
Have low expectations for yourself so you won’t be disappointed.
I’ve heard that one before too…
I understand, in theory, what the person was trying to convey, and they meant well, but the advice was directed at my own performance. It gave me the feeling that no matter what I did, it would not be good enough, so why even try. The adage goes, “If you don’t believe in yourself, nobody else will either.” It was a long time before I believed in myself due to this piece of warped advice.
Thank you Valie for spending this time with us. We enjoyed you!
Vali started and sold two successful businesses before she decided to pursue her real passion for writing. She published several articles in a variety of periodicals, including History Magazine, before she decided to try her hand at fiction. She grew up in the Midwest and now lives in Tucson with her husband, two sons, and two grandchildren.
Last week, I asked for support of Black-Owned Businesses in a campaign that runs from June 19, 2020 (today) through July 6, 2020. I added that those who RSVP to join the campaign, called My Black Receipt, will be in the running to win a free signed copy of one of my books.
I got no support and no email with an RSVP screenshot for a free book.
What I Got:
6 email unsubscribes
2 Abuse Complaints
1 Nasty Email Reply
I was told I was discriminating against other races and religions and that I had gone “too far,” for asking people to support black-owned businesses.
Instead of talk about that, I thought I’d re-introduce myself. I realize some of you are new to me, so you may not fully understand the extent of my work.
My passion for the state of my people isn’t something that sprang up while watching protests on the news. I am not a “jump on the bandwagon,” kind of person. Supporting black people and black businesses is something I have done for many years. For me, it’s not about “white vs. black.” It has never been. It is about good vs. evil and right vs. wrong.
I write Black Historical Fiction and Poetry. My work targets black readers and aims to raise the consciousness of all people interested in understanding the plight of Black America.
The reason I say “Black America” is because Israelites/Blacks/African Americans have lived a different experience than the rest of the World, and for years that experience has been virtually unknown to non-black people. My goal is to expose those unknowns and free the mind of the black man, woman, and child.
I strive to manifest the restoration of the forgotten past to a forgotten people through book publishing and education.
In doing so, I hope my books can provide a roadmap for all people who find it difficult to be liberated in their own lives. I understand this isn’t easy to do considering the level of misinformation, deception, and religious ideologies that have enslaved us for so long.
I believe that faith without works is dead, so being actively involved is fundamental to me. Black readers are those I target and have targeted long before the Black Lives Matter movement. We are the people for whom my books are written, and these are our stories.
Those familiar with my work understand this statement by no means alienates other nationalities of people.
In the words of the Messiah Yahoshua, who I believe was a black man, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel .” (Matt. 15:24) It is to the lost sheep first and then to the nations. I believe black people are those lost sheep, and before I can liberate the minds of non-black people, I must work to free the black mind first.
I won’t apologize for this.
I have promoted people of all races, belief systems, and countries on this blog and social media, but I have also spoken about my love for black people. Anyone surprised about this either has not been paying attention or doesn’t know me very well and, therefore, are not members of my targeted audience.
And that’s okay.
I am not worried about those who leave because I would rather “die on my feet than live on my knees.” I would rather lose support standing for what I believe in than to sell myself short for a pat on the back. In the words of MLK, who so many non-black people are so apt to quote, “there comes a time when silence is betrayal.”
For anyone to say my request for support of black businesses is abusive and discriminatory is proof of the very abuse and racial discrimination blacks face every day from people who do not understand what it’s like and what it means to be “black” in America.