Here’s the Proof

13230259_10103033031507396_5067888276534347001_n

Very few things in this process get me as excited as seeing my work in print. I got my proofs of The Book of Isabel yesterday and they look so good. Sure, I have tiny reservations here and there about the cover finish but overall I cannot complain too much.

It feels rewarding to see something like this come to life. I wrote this book about a year ago and when I was done the process of making a book began. I love the cover art. I feel like it looks even better in print than it does digitally. Continue reading “Here’s the Proof”

Inside 30 Days

Life is crazy. Life is crazy busy. My life is crazy busy.

I feel like I just woke up from the haze of spring semester at Barnard College. So many things happening. So many events and so much work. Let’s also not forget that my woman just graduated from The Tepper Business School at Carnegie Mellon University. Life is has been such a blur and yet, somehow, I have found the time to get this book done.

I mean, I wrote this book last year but I’m talking about the other things that need to happen with this novel. The editing and the managing. I’m waiting on a final proof and this book comes out in less than 30 days. Continue reading “Inside 30 Days”

Reality Numbers Check

On the eve of book two, I’m forced to think about how hard this whole self publishing thing is. Writing a novel is not easy by any stretch of the imagination. It’s probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and now to have done it a second time, I have think about lessons learned while being realistic.

I recently received an amazing shoutout during the #blackcomicschat show on Friday. This is a podcast/twitter chat that comes on bi weekly that I love to listen to and during one of their segments, they were giving shout outs to loyal listeners. One of the podcasters, who also runs the Blerd Book Club that I was featured in February, gave me and Hanging Upside Down such a favorable shout out that it pretty much made my night. I’m paraphrasing here but he said something to the effect that my book was one of the best books he’s read in a while and he’s wondering how I’m not making more money on this. I think he even mention wanting to know my numbers on this.

The numbers are what they are. I suppose it really depends on your point of view. I knew that being a self published author would have it’s challenges. I wrote about the things I’ve learned about this industry in the Huffington Post a while back. I knew that writing a book without a publisher would mean I would have to sell books from the trunk of my car so to speak. Then there is the audience I wrote this book for: men. Generally men do not read unless it has to do with sports. So where does that leave me and the numbers?

I’ve been reluctant to share this with people because I’m really not sure how to feel about this. On one hand, I wrote a book and I did that because I wanted to and less because I wanted to make serious money on it. So in that respect, I don’t care all that much. However, numbers sometimes really speak to people in the industry. I was told that unless you sell 5000 units, the industry doesn’t really look at you. So you can understand that when I admit to only moving 210 books that it makes me a little uneasy.

I suppose that unease comes from that fact that I feel people think I’m this highly successful author that’s selling books like hot cakes. What I can say is this, I’m willing to redefine what I consider success by simple continuing to write. The fact of the matter is that I appreciate everything that comes my way. I continue to get favorable ratings on Goodreads and Amazon. I’ve also been featured on the Black Girl Nerds website, which is such a highlight for me.

I don’t makes excuses but I think I’ve done pretty well considering that I have a full time job that I enjoy and I’m the only person promoting this book. I may not have the industry behind me but I can tell you that I know about 85% of the people who’ve bought the book. I think this is great because I get to interact with those people who’ve actually read the book.

So to be honest, I am aware of the number. I remember passing 200 and the end of December. I know that this is a long road and perhaps when The Book of Isabel comes out, I may see a spike in sales, but the reality is, I may not. I’m not there yet. I still know people who will say to me… “oh yeah, I should get your book.”

I don’t take it personally. I just keep writing.

Book of the Month #BlerdBookClub

12717849_10154025228454040_7293463402603023995_n

I’ve been teasing this on Social Media for sometime now but I finally have a date for my guest appearance on the Blerd Book Club chat. Assuming that you have no idea what I’m talking about, I will fill you in on some details of how we got here.

I joined the Blerd Book Club in December when it was recommend by a few writer and host Thelonious Legend. Because I’m a devout listener to Black Comics Chat (a dope podcast) we ended up following each other on Twitter. Once he found out that I wrote a book, he asked me to join the club because every month they read a new book and I can nominate Hanging Upside Down for any given month if I chose to. Of course I was sold.

12195763_10154008417704040_8527905421711099943_nI nominated the book in January but lost to another amazing book called The Mark of Noba. The second time around proved to be a better result. My novel was chosen as February’s book of the month. What that means is that my book is recommended to the members of the book club to read so that they can gear up for a discussion the following month.

So the following month is now upon us and the book discussion is happening on March 13 at 4pm EST. So how this works that the link below takes you YouTube and on this day I will be there along with some peeps and we will discuss Hanging Upside Down. Even if you miss it, you can watch it anytime after the fact. The hashtag to follow along on Twitter is #BlerdBookClub

It should be a great discussion in which I hope to really get deep into some themes about masculinity and identity. I plan on talking very briefly about The Book of Isabel and my work behind that. I would also like to talk about my on going project of Naked City. Lastly, I plan on releasing the title of the Third Book.

I’m very excited about this and I hope you check it out.

I’m Not Required Reading, But I Will Be


I know that I’m doing a lot. Outside of having a regular job that I love, I am a writer who’s trying to make himself better. There’s tons of work that comes along with that. There are dues to pay and mistakes to make and then correct. I know that I’m not required reading right now, but I will be.

I’m reading more that ever. I’m meeting with a few writers to assess what I could be doing better. I’m meeting with other writers to help them understand this process. I’m writing short stories and adding final touches to my second novel. I listen to audio versions of classic books outside of the normal books I read and I’m reading graphic novels.

I consider this training because I know that I can better. I know the words I use and the stories I choose to write solidify who I am as an artist. I don’t have the fancy book deals. I don’t have the agent or the MFA sheepskin on my wall. What I do have in a sense of determination and willingness to keep going.

Often, I’ve thought about quitting. I measure my success higher than anyone can think. I can at least say I wrote one book. That is more that many people.

Often, I’ve thought about packing it up and fading into the background. Closing up all social media outlets and just becoming that dude that gets up everyday, goes to work, comes home, sleeps. Wash. Dry. Repeat.

Often, I’ve thought about how no one really gives a shit about what I write. Want to know what I do when those thoughts creep in? I write some more.

I know that I’m not required reading right now, but I will be.

I’m not very well known. I don’t have 10k in followers. I don’t campaign my work to the all knowing authority in books. I don’t even know if such a thing exists but that will not stop me from getting better and writing my ass off.

No. I don’t sleep. I write.

I go to work to take a break from writing. I eat better so I can write some more. I write because I require myself to. Perhaps I don’t do it everyday and when I don’t then read and prepare. I want to better at all of this. I want someone to pick one of my books and say, damn.

I know that I’m not required reading right now, but I will be.

Final Stages of Book Two

BOI Cover blog

This is the 3rd week of February and I feel like six months has passed since the new year. I guess that’s not a bad thing. I’ve been busy plugging along with edits and revisions to The Book of Isabel. I’ve finally reached the final stages where I can take a breath and hand it back over for proofing.

I feel as if I took this time to read more and soak up some general knowledge from writers and authors that I listen to podcasts or read on blogs. I also took time to really get into test reader feedback of my novel, which has been spectacular. I enjoy the fact that I’m really beginning to hit a groove with this whole writing thing.

Last night I finally added my acknowledgements and dedications. I almost felt myself getting emotional because I know who I’m dedicating the book to and why. Many people know that cancer changed the way I view life since it has impacted much of my family and friends. When I think about the people I lost and have almost lost, it almost brings a flood of emotions to me. I can almost feel the eye sweats.

While Hanging Upside Down is a very personal piece of work, The Book of Isabel represents the spirit of my youth that is very much tied to those people I’ve dedicated the book to. I hope that people who read the book will be able to understand the book’s underlying message.

I’ve also come to the realization that in finishing this novel, I’m adding to my journey towards being the author I want to be. I really don’t know if I’m going to be this best selling author. I don’t know if I will be more than just an author that people don’t know about. I certainly don’t know if I will more than the person that people will say “Yeah, I need to read his work” but then never really do.

What I do know is that none of that matters to me anymore. I don’t know if its because of the anti-establishment sentiment I’ve been feeling lately or if I simply have no more fucks to give. What I do know is that I love the anonymity of all this. I love that people are still surprised that I’ve written two books with a third one on the horizon.

I suppose that as I start completing the the final stages of the book, I’m also completing the final stages of me. Make no mistake, I’m writing for me. If I was writing for fame or the need to be in literary magazines then perhaps I would drive myself crazy. Maybe, one day, I will make it there and maybe I wont.

In either case, the final stages of who I am is almost complete.

Reading Out Loud

In need of Shave

Last night I decided to be more engaging with the world. I created a video about the ahem finer points of reading your work out loud. This was all based on a tweet that I made a few days ago about how reading your work like you’re performing an audio book helps with evaluating the flow of your story.

I’m all about the flow of a book or a story. I think it’s one of the most important things that makes a book interesting. If a book is easy to read, regardless of vocabulary, the reader enjoys it more and absorbs the message better. I’m a firm believer that anyone should be able to pick up a book and read it from cover to cover. That is why one of the questions I ask my test reader is, “Does the book flow?”

I will also admit (again) that I have gotten in audio books. I find myself imagining what it would be like to have someone read and perform Hanging Upside Down in this medium. I’m sure I can do, but there are some really great voice actor that can do it much better than I could. That, of course, makes me think about the general flow of my writing even more. That’s why tone and dialogue become so important.

I’ve gone through five audio books in about 6 weeks. While three of those are Star Wars books, the other two were Dracula by Bram Stoker and Kindred by Octavia Butler. Both of these classics got me really to love how words sound and thus lead me to read my current project, The Book of Isabel, out loud.

This explains the video I created last night. I will admit that I’m a bit goofy and it’s awkward to hear myself but fuck it. I need to start having fun with the work that I do. Enjoy the video and leave some feedback.

 

7 Years of Blogging

R62a7train-1

On that rare occasion that I post two blogs in one day, you know that I must a have a good reason. I’ve been doing this for seven years. That’s crazy to me considering there are times where I wanted to stop blogging. But, I keep this going because writing has become my life.

I’m drugged up because I had two wisdom teeth pulled. I planned on going to work today but then I woke with pain and I’m like nah, I need to rest. So if this post seems somewhat different from usual ramblings then blame the good stuff I’m on. Let me just give into the drugs now and tell you all that I love you (this is how you know I’m either drunk or high).

Here I am in Year Seven and I’m working on my second book. I’m working on submitting short stories to places that accept them. I’m contemplating workshops to attend. These things are a far cry from what I was before all this started. I would’ve never guessed I would be two books deep at this point in my life.

In the back of mind is book three. I know it is crazy but at some point this year I will have to start writing that. I know what its about and I have written a little piece of it a few months ago.

What else can I say? I hope that you’ve read or will read Hanging Upside Down. I no longer ask people if they read it. The best thing I can do is move on and encourage people to support The Book of Isabel. All I can say about this book is that my style is evolving and I have extremely enjoyed the challenge of putting this particular story on paper.

I’m happy about the process. Not many people will read it and I know that. But that does not mean that I will stop and that is why I’ve been doing this for so long.

Behind the Cover

BOI Cover

My plan had been that I would wait 6 months before The Book of Isabel comes out to debut the cover. I didn’t have a date in mind but I knew that I had to stick the plan. So last week, when I was in Miami, I posted the cover on social media.

I explained in a previous post that I started out with my own vision of what I wanted and when I gave that vision over to a graphic designer, this is what came out. The point of this cover to produce something flashy. I wanted this cover to be very different from Hanging Upside Down and yet I wanted the two books to connect.

First, I want to thank Sam Wilson, a fellow Syracuse Alum, who worked with me on this. He is the graphic designer that deserves the credit for making this cover look so good. After the first book came out, we talked about a possible collaboration and when I had a vision of the book, he took it and made it tangible. I appreciate his patience with all the tweaks and edits that I’ve sent over to him. Sam is a true professional.

The book itself is about Luis (the protagonist from the first book) and his version of who Isabel is. So when the reader gets to know and understand her, it is through his lens which is why she’s bare on the cover. The words in the background are the same words from Hanging Upside Down that sparked her creation in the first place.

The cover was not initially meant to be sexy. I wanted to show the importance of words when thinking about Isabel or any other character in the book for that matter. I consider all my characters to be a blank slate or naked until words fill in the all the blanks.

The Book of Isabel is slated for release in June, you can get more info about the book on Goodreads.

2016 Goals

2015-16

I’ve finally had time to mull over all the goals I want to set for this coming year. I don’t like resolutions because they lead to a false sense of ambition. That is why so many people flood to the gym in January only to give up by March. My goals are achievable and some are harder than the others but they are promises I make to myself.

As usual, I looked at the past year and noticed that I’ve achieved 60% of the goals I’ve set last year, which always seems to be the case.  This is not something that I set out to do. Life has a way of making us veer off course, but in any case, here we go…

I feel like I’ve been really slacking in my blog writing. I know that anyone would tell me that writing a second book as well as a bunch of short stories is understandable but the past few days has shown me that I simply need to blog more. Not just here, but on the Huffington Post and The Commons. It gives me a little more focus on what it is I do. Even after all these years, I still feel like I’m building more of an audience which I hope will lead me to getting a press pass at the NY Comic Con.

I also need to be mindful that I have indeed set a tentative date for the release of The Book of Isabel. I really need to make sure that I make that date. It may sound simple enough but there’s so much coordination in getting this book out that I want to make sure I don’t repeat the mistakes I made with Hanging Upside Down. While doing that, I want to take the plunge into the short story world and actually try to get some of my work published. I’m not exactly sure all the details but I did open up a Wattpad account so I can begin exploring that process.

All this writing makes me want to continue to work my craft. I don’t take any of this lightly and I feel that I can get better at it. This is why I will continue to make an effort to read more. I’ve read more in 2015 than I have in quite a long time. I’ve also gotten into audio books which helps me catch up on books I should’ve read a long time ago. Of course more reading leads to more writing and I also feel I need to do a better job at really getting into writing workshops. I would be a fool to think that I cannot improve.

The other thing that I’ve done more is travel. Seeing the world is essential to any writer. Seeing more of America is crucial to any American writer and while I do plan on traveling in 2016, the goal is to visit more sporting stadiums or arenas. I will keep it real, I would much rather to the baseball stadium thing but, I will include football and basketball just in case I travel to a place off season. There is something about seeing how other city’s celebrate their sport that I find interesting.

Switching gears, I’m quite sure that I’ve made it quite clear that I’ve changed my dietary habits. I’ve been a pescatarian for about 6 months now and I don’t plan on changing that but it does lead me to think about my health in general. I’m not getting any younger and I know that I need to start taking better care of myself. I’m already scheduled for oral surgery in January and I know I need to see my doctor for the routine check ups. For some reason I feel that I need to put my medical well being into the forefront.

Every year I put debt reduction to the list an every year it remains there. I suppose this is a long term goal that will remain on this list for the foreseeable future. Which brings me to the last item on my list. As my girlfriend prepares to graduate from business school there is a distinct possibility that I will be moving out of Harlem. Not sure where to yet, but I have some ideas.

I think 2016 will be another big year. I hope you set some pretty big goals and I thank you for indulging me to share mine with you.