With A Heavy Heart…

My brother passed away suddenly and unexpectedly this week. He went in for routine surgery, got through the surgery without issue, and was in recovery doing well. The nurse had just checked on him and spoke with him, walked away from the bed and the doctor walked over to check him and found him unconscious. They tried for over 30 minutes to revive him, but God (swt) had a different plan.

He was 53 years old…

I am posting a video that he did as an “infomercial” for one of the home based businesses he had during his life. I don’t care about what he’s saying, it shows him playing his bass — one of his favorite hobbies — and as far as I know is the only recording we have of him playing his guitar.

Rest in peace, Tony. I will surely miss you brother…

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Avoiding “Crash and Burn”

Ok, Ok…

I have realized that Superwoman I am not. Hehehe…the Inspired & Independent Book Club is reading a book titled Chasing Superwoman. It is a memoir and details the author’s realization that she had been trying to be Superwoman — lawyer, mother of 3, wife, Sunday School teacher, and the list goes on.

Today, as I realized that I haven’t written a blog post since last week, was the day I decided to stop trying to be Superwoman too. There is a need within myself to get my book written. CampNaNo has been the fire I have needed lit under my feet to get moving on the manuscript and stop procrastinating more than writing. I have been dedicated and diligent in the process and have been enjoying the new found focus on this manuscript.

That said, I am going to have to curb some of my other online activities…at least while I am working on the first draft. Once I get the words out of my head and heart and onto the page, then I can return to a more full online life. So that means instead of posting 5 days a week, I will have to cut down to one post a week. There will still be the monthly Saturday Shorts, but by the next time that is due I hope to have completed my first draft. I am also sure that there will be additional postings some weeks — I can never tell when something hits me that I need to share on the blog.

The Book Club will continue in full force without any changes. As a writer, I am constantly reading anyway. Hosting the Book Club hasn’t significantly impacted my writing, so I will leave that as is.

Now that I have spoken that into the universe, you know I will figure out a way to post more often…

I will be posting a new post each Wednesday. Be prepared — it could be long LOL! I am a writer after all and I love words, but not being able to post but one day a week may leave me with a short story load of information to share…

Off to write more in my manuscript… You may get a second post today. This one is more of an announcement than information, and I can’t have that!

Return from Temporary Hibernation

I went into hibernation over the last couple of days. I had to…I was nearly 10,000 words behind on the CampNaNo challenge. It is important to me that I win CampNaNo, especially this being my first year participating. What is most important, though, is that I get my manuscript completed. CampNaNo is just the challenge I need to get this book written.

Over the last few days I have been writing. Not so much during the week — just bits and pieces. There’s something about a writer when they prepare to write: life seems to get in the way. Everything that life could throw at me came hurling past me. Anything that would distract me or cause me to procrastinate became a roadblock in my path to 15,003 words — the total word count needed by yesterday in order to be on track.

I am happy to announce, however, that I met and surpassed yesterday’s word count total goal! 1,667 multiplied 9 times gives you 15,003 (yesterday was the 9th day of the month). The CampNaNo Word Validator has validated my total word count at 15,677!!! That’s 674 words more then needed to reach yesterday’s goal, leaving me with only 993 words to complete today and stay on target to reach 50,000 words by the last day of June! Best yet, I really feel good about my manuscript. I am not taking these 30 days to dump garbage onto the page just to say I won CampNaNo. I am putting the time and effort that any serious writer would put into a first draft. It is coming along nicely, if I may say so myself…

I have found that once I put butt in chair and get to writing, the words have come flowing easily. There’s no writer’s block, nor do I find myself struggling to get a paragraph down. This is the first draft and therefore I don’t expect it to be perfect. My method for moving through the pages:

  1. Write without editing. I know you’ve heard this before.
  2. Each day when I prepare to write, I re-read the previous day’s writing for content only. This will get the creativity flowing in my mind so I can continue where I left off. I do not re-read the entire manuscript. That will have me wanting to edit and it is not time for editing yet.
  3. I keep writing nonstop and try not to pay attention to my word count. I don’t want to create a habit of only writing until I reach the day’s word count goal. So I ignore my word count and just write until I am ready to stop. It is then that I verify my count — if I have enough words I stop, if not I plug along some more so that I can keep up with the daily word count. EXAMPLE: I was using Microsoft Word yesterday when I was writing. It keeps a running word count total for you at the bottom of the screen. I knew exactly when I reached the 15,003 words needed but I hadn’t completed writing out my thoughts when I hit my target. So I kept writing until that thought was completely written out. I ended up with an extra 674 words by continuing to the end of the thought…
  4. I also print my manuscript when I go to read it. This serves two purposes for me: a) it takes stress off of my eyes from reading a computer screen for too many back-to-back hours, and 2) it gives me a “legacy” of the writing that went into that particular manuscript. The manuscript is printed on hole-punched paper, and then is added to a notebook with the prior’s day printout. When the manuscript has been completed, I will have a keepsake so to speak of the various iterations the manuscript went through over the course of time to “The End.”

It may be a little hokey to retain the various drafts of the manuscript along the way, but I am a keepsake kind of person. I have an avid scrapbooking/paper crafting hobby complete with a scrapbook shop for folks to come hang out and create with me. If you know anything about scrapbookers, you know that they don’t let one iota of “scrap” paper pass through their hands without salvaging it for one project or another. To toss my printed manuscript would be to toss an unimaginable amount of scrap paper and I couldn’t have that now could I? I foresee myself turning my manuscript draft pages into beautiful art journals commemorating their journey to publication. That would be a wonderful way to honor the draft pages while retaining a beautiful keepsake that is not only the original manuscript, but also a beautiful piece of art.

I am excited now to complete my manuscript! Now I’ve got a wonderful new idea to further the publishing experience for myself and make it a beautiful and lasting memory. I will share the transformation of the draft pages into a beautiful art journal once I get to that stage. For now, I need to concentrate on getting at least 1,667 words down on the page each day. Light duty on this Sunday thanks to yesterday’s marathon writing session…

Time to share…
What do you do with your printed manuscript pages? Do you retain them for posterity once the manuscript has been completed? Do you toss them in order to prevent clutter or for other reasons? Will you now create beautiful masterpieces with them now that I’ve thrown that idea out into the world? Share with us what you have done or what you are planning on doing with your printed draft pages.

Burn Out!

WOW! Never thought it would happen to me, but it did! Burn out!! Not from writing  —  from   L-I-F-E…

No, I’m not being suicidal. I’m being tired! Full time job outside of the house, full time writing career, full time mother, full time wife, owner of 2 small businesses, writing for 4 or 5 different blogs (I’ve lost count LOL!)… Does it ever end??? Whew! I need a vacation and FAST!

In all honesty, I do this to myself all the time. I have a disease that doesn’t allow my mouth to say “no” and doesn’t allow my mind to ever close from its creative activities. There is always some idea that comes to mind that will help me in my life. But with a new idea always comes new tasks to add to an already too full plate.

And it’s CampNaNo June, which I am determined to win. I think that is what is really making me feel burned out. The pressure of writing 50,000 words in a month. Now, I am absolutely certain that I write 50k words in a month with no problem. No doubt about it. I have to — writing for several blogs, working on my manuscripts, and writing poetry. But the pressure that is on now is writing 50k words in one manuscript all in one month’s time. Yeah I write 50k words in a month, but never on one subject or in one manuscript…

Burn out.

I know it’s from sheer overwhelm. I work at my peak when I have too many tasks on my plate. My subconscious mind, however, keeps reminding me that I am 2 days and 505 words behind not counting the words for today. The day is still young so I can’t count that as “behind” unless I don’t write any more today. That puts me at 3,839 words behind. But what makes it worse is that I am at a particularly difficult part of the manuscript. It’s a memoir, so in this section I am talking a lot about my mother and father who are both deceased. The memories are good ones, but the fact that they are no longer here is what’s making the writing difficult. I am nearly 4,000 words behind! I don’t need this kind of difficulty in writing right now…

So, what do I do to circumvent this burn out? I wrote 1,162 words this morning and then ended the chapter. Those 1,162 words are what made me less than 3 days behind. I couldn’t bare to write any more about mom and dad…not right now. It was making the writing laborious. This is the very first, clunky draft anyway. I can always go back during the editing phase and add in whatever I need to enhance that chapter. If I continued to try writing in that chapter today, I would not get any writing done.

I have read many authors who do the same thing. Either finish the chapter off quickly, knowing they have to edit the manuscript anyway, or start writing a different scene or section of the book and come back to the difficult writing later. Because I am a pantser, there’s no way I can write a different scene or section and come back. I haven’t done any planning or outlining so I don’t know what the future scenes and sections will hold. I could always have gone off and worked on some poetry or maybe one of my other manuscripts; but I know me, I would never get back to writing this one… For the next 24 days I need to stay focused on writing this one manuscript. I want to win CampNaNo and I want to have a completed, clunky first draft in my grubby little paws by June 30th. If I don’t stick to deadlines, I will never get this book written and published!

Some writers take a break from writing when they hit a difficult patch, either by writing something else or walking away from writing altogether. Oooo, that would be a book killer for me! I would never want to return to writing that manuscript knowing where in the manuscript I had left off. Walking away at the difficult part for me would ensure that I would never return to finish writing. And I definitely would not return from writing something else, something less emotional. However, some authors have what it takes to walk away and come back later. I just am not cut from that part of the cloth…

Whatever you do, as always, you need to keep writing!

Time to share…
What do you do when you are burned out from so much going on, including your writing? How does writing sensitive passages affect your writing ability? What do you do when burn out begins to sabotage your writing practice? 

Oprah Has Done It. Again…

Good morning! Oprah has gone and done it again. She’s started a new book club — Oprah’s Book Club 2.0. On top of that, she’s already picked out 60 or so titles that will be a part of the club. I signed up because I love reading and it’s even better when you have folks to discuss the reading with. Now I will be reading at least 2 books each month — one for the Inspired & Independent Book Club and one for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0.

O’s new book club promises to be an interactive experience on top of the normal “book club” experience. She held up a hardcover edition of the book for this month — Wild by Cheryl Stayed — stating that she (Oprah) still believes in books. I agree — I much rather have a physical book in hand to read then read from an electronic reading device. However, the demands of time and travel have me reading most titles these days from my Kindle Cloud Reader on my iPad. It’s more convenient for me to read from my iPad during my commute to/from work then to lug yet another book along with me on the trip.

Oprah has provided her readers with notes and comments about her favorite and least favorite parts and passages of the book. These notes can be accessed through special “Oprah Editions” of the book being read if you purchase the electronic edition. If you are reading from a traditional book, the same notes can be accessed on Oprah’s book club site. It’s a great idea to incorporate the notes in the electronic book editions so folks who are reading from eReaders don’t have to stop and go online to get to the notes. A great added feature to the club and to the books themselves — keeps everything in one place for the readers. It appears that she is trying to provide the best of both worlds for her book club — staying true to the traditional book club while bringing it into the 21st century technology-wise.

I encourage avid readers to sign up for both the Inspired & Independent Book Club and Oprah’s Book Club 2.0. There will be a lot of banter between members and many many great reads. Looking forward to the discussions…

Saturday Shorts: The Cougar Chronicles

THE COUGAR CHRONICLES

Chapter One

     Tee and I became fast friends in college. Both ambitious and not willing to settle, we made and executed a plan in college that would make us both business owners upon graduation. Tee opened up Pree’s Place, a local hangout for spoken word lyricists and indie music artists that we affectionately refer to as “Pree’s.” I launched Diamond Marketing Services, a full service marketing firm. Tee became my first client and I was appointed to the position of Chief Marketing Officer for Pree’s. Together we have managed to set the DMV on its ear and raised the bar when it comes to African American owned and operated establishments.

     Shaheed was a part of our lives from the beginning. Two college girls more interested in planning the future than hanging out in clubs and getting drunk, he was always hanging around as we pined away hours in our studies and on business plans. At his eighteenth birthday, Shaheed attempted to let me know his feelings, although I didn’t immediately get it. A properly raised Muslim, he would have never approached me before he was able to support me fully. Although not yet able to do so, Shaheed’s full scholarship guaranteed that he would soon become Dr. Shaheed Siddeeq, allowing him to provide for wife and family as his chosen path teaches him. Me and Tee just giggled at his attempts to let me know he wanted to be my man and kept it moving. Now gainfully employed and owner of a massive warehouse loft, Shaheed was prepared to pursue the woman he wanted to share his life with, me…

     I hopped up out of the bed realizing there were things that I needed to accomplish today before the ladies hit the streets this evening. I needed to get to my spa appointment, get some groceries up in MaiVen before a sistah starves to death, and a few other errands. I needed to get moving so I wouldn’t have to rush around., It’s a good thing Shaheed and I finished our lovemaking in the shower in the wee hours of the morning — all I needed to do was get dressed and boogie.

#

     Thursday night. Ladies night. Me and the girls had plans to meet up at Pree’s Place and hang out a while with Tee. Arriving home from the spa with a fresh ‘zil, mani and pedi, I made my usual beeline to the master bath to get the shower started. Brazillions are a marvelous pampering treat but the wax remnants must go immediately!

     Can’t have them hanging around on this sweet snatch… I mused while selecting a pair of black lace thongs, matching lace bustier, and black lace stockings.

     Laying my selections across the bench in the dressing room for easy access, I undressed and went to get into the shower. Just as the shower door opened so I could step in, the phone rang. I answered using the hands free system that Vintage installed earlier this year throughout the house.

     What a convenience. I exhaled as I instructed them system to answer.

     It was Shaheed, calling to check on me as he often did. There was no doubt that he was passionate about his lady and he was making no mistake about letting me know that I was what he was in hot pursuit of. His deep bass filled the bathroom, making me smile gently.

     Hello babygirl. Just checking to make sure you got in. What’s on your agenda for the evening? Will I be seeing you? Shaheed realized after he had already spoken that he hadn’t given Laila a moment to answer one, no less the series of questions that he barraged at her.

     Giggling, Well hello to you too. Let’s see… Where do I begin with this interrogation? I’m not sure what question to answer first. May I have your assistance Dr. Siddeeq? I teased.

     Baby you know I mean nothing behind all that. Just trying to check in with my lady, show her some love, and put my bid in for at least a visit tonight if not a weekend visit. His attempt at being apologetic.

     Me, Tahisa, and Kat are going to hang out with Tee at Pree’s Place. I’m sure we’ll have dinner there — can’t beat Tonesha’s cooking… After that I’d planned to come back home and do something with this head of mine. Needs some maintenance and I can’t seem to squeeze out the time to get to the head shop. You doing anything this evening, or are you laying low?

     I was thinking about playing in those locs of yours. Why don’t you head over here. I’ll help you wash your hair. Shucks — I’ll even give you a reason to have to wash it…

     I bet you will. I’ll have to take that under consideration. Wouldn’t want your neighbor digging up a reason to knock on your door every thirty minutes to make sure you and I aren’t doing anything… 

     I couldn’t keep it together after that. I burst out laughing so hard I couldn’t catch my breath. Miss Synetta Ferguson. Four kids, three baby daddies, and living in the Friendship Lofts where doctors and lawyers make their homes because Terrance Littlejohn, the Raven’s first round draft pick and star quarterback, thought he could turn a hooker into a housewife. Now he’s baby daddy number three, paying about fifteen grand a month in child support, and supporting ‘Netta and her kids without the baggage of being her husband. It’s a shame all she wanted was the money — Terrance really loved her and those kids and would have given her the world as his wife…

     Well consider this, Shaheed’s voice boomed in, snapping me from my thoughts of Synetta, Consider that I know you had an appointment with Suhailah. Consider that I know that means she completed a brazillion on that sweet sacred spot which I’ve been blessed to be allowed to finesse. Consider that you already know that means a tongue lashing coming your way of only the very most passionate kind. Shaheed’s voice became a bit more suggestive as he closed.

     And what a magnificent tongue lashing that would be, I thought to myself. Shaheed was a very intense and passionate lover. Not once has he failed to ensure my total pleasure well before hitting his own home run. Far more well endowed than the average brother, Shaheed packed a jewel that would make the most frigid of women return the passion in stride. I had not been sexually satisfied by anyone to the degree which Shaheed pleased and satisfied me. Wave after wave after wave of cosmic orgasm courses through my body each time we make love. Not ever have I been, and stayed, as wet as he keeps me — pussy oozing sweet nectar in anticipation of his entry as well as during his incessant stroking. Shaheed’s cock was always a challenge for me to receive, even though we’ve been dating for months. Once our relationship became sexual, there were not many nights we did not make love.

#

     As they continued to banter, Shaheed started to hear the voice of his inner critic. He was a virgin when he first made love to Laila. No other woman has he touched nor did he intend to touch. He felt badly about having sex prior to marriage. He was taught that was sacred and to be saved for marriage. But Shaheed knew that his plan was to marry this woman. That eased his tension about having sex outside of wedlock. He was certain that he and Laila would one day marry. However, every now and then he felt guilty that he did not wait. Laila knew this was an issue for him, but he tried earnestly to prevent it from coming between them. Today was one of those days where it was bothering him. He could feel the prickly little hairs on the back of his neck standing up, agitating him and making him become distracted. He couldn’t let Laila catch wind of this — it would mean a discussion that often lead to negativity between the couple. That is not what Shaheed had in mind for this weekend…

     Quickly returning to reality, Shaheed picked up on what Laila had been chattering about. She’s on that kick again about her stomach and it not being washboard flat. No matter how much he reassures her, Laila is highly self-conscious about this “flaw” in her figure. It’s the one thing that she looks at and equates with getting older.

#

     Aw girl, come on now with that nonsense. Shaheed chimed in. You know that your body is flawless in my eyes and that’s what matters. I’m your man and as long as what I see — naked or clothed — pleases me, then there’s nothing to concern you about your shape. Have I ever made you doubt that it is you alone that I desire? 

     I couldn’t deny that. Shaheed had made it painfully clear to the world that I was his lady. Me, Laila Diamond, and me alone. Lochern was in an uproar. All the slinky little hoochies trying their best to bed Dr. Siddeeq. Some for the money and glamour of being Mrs. Dr. Siddeeq and some for the sheer glory of being fucked by such a beautiful specimen of a man… I have no doubt that I’m the only one being loved down by the good doctor — too many skeezers in his city flat out angry about our relationship.  They sling too many slurs and accusations about cradle-robbing and me being a black widow to be getting any attention from Shaheed. If any of those cunts were getting so much as an iota of conversation from him there’d be some scuttlebutt scurrying around about it. Rest assured they would not fail to let me know that some bitch was getting some of my time…

     You? You barely pay any attention to me! I see how you be looking at the skanks walking through the mall… I giggled at him playfully. I know full well that he’s a man so he’s going to look, but never has he disrespected me by gawking and sleezing at them. I expect him to look, even pointing out some petite little thing that I feel is his M.O.

     Finally caving, I know baby. But you know I got that thing about this pouch of mine.

     That pouch of yours represents three successful pregnancies and too many losses to number. Shaheed was determined to get Laila to understand that having birthed three children is an honor and accomplishment in which a pouch is to be worn as a badge of pride. He wanted her to understand that beauty is not physical for him.

     He always reminds me that my pouch is from my babies. That’s good and bad. Makes me feel good because he sees it for what it is; but at the same time it makes me feel bad because it’s obvious that Shaheed wants to be with me long term. Marriage even. Marriage means kids and with all the medical difficulties it is for me to have children, that’s just something I wouldn’t put myself or my body through again. Too painful. And besides I’m too old! Knowing that makes me hesitant about getting deeply involved with someone who loves kids, wants kids, and doesn’t have any of his own.

     You are too sweet to me. Thank you for always knowing how to pick me up when I’m down on myself.

     How could I do anything other than that? You are my lady and you need to know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What I behold when you are in my sight is more beauty than I’ll ever need. I just wish you would understand that and stop berating yourself.

     Silence. I mean — what could I say to that? It’s not often I am at a loss for words. I know, I know. I just don’t like it. It makes me look old and fat.

     You’re not old or fat. Now, you’re P-H-A-T phat, but not fat.

     Haha! There you go again trying to weasel your way in by showering me with compliments. Keep ’em coming — it’s working!!!! Hahahahahahaha! I’ll see about swinging by this evening before I head home. I really need to get these locs done up… I’m gonna hop in the shower, the water’s been running this whole time. Keep your cellie on your hip in case I need you.

     Aw now you know I gotcha on that. Never too far from my phone, especially when my lady’s out in the street without me.  Then he blew kisses at me and we hung up.

     I hopped in the shower as the phone rang again. This time, I let it go to voicemail — it couldn’t be Shaheed again that fast. It was time to get this brazillion wax off my sweet mound. As I worked Tangy’s Body Butter into a nice lather, I could hear Rodney leaving me a message. He was going to be at Pree’s tonight. Ummm. Rodney. His smooth and sultry voice left me yearning to feel him inside me just one more time…

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Syndication! YES!!

Thank goodness today is Friday! I’ve been holding onto this news all week…

The W.I.N. at Writing blog has been syndicated!!! I was approached last week by the Books Editor of Before It’s News, a web-based news portal that gets 10s of 1000s of visitors daily. The Books Editor asked if I would be willing to allow them to syndicate my blog and pull my feed for the Books section of their site. Well you know I said “heck yeah!” It is truly a honor and a blessing to know that my articles are found to be news worthy by my readers and that Before It’s News feels like the information found here can be beneficial to many more people. Thank you to Sebastian Clouth, Books Editor, and Before It’s News for finding the value in my blog.

Now that W.I.N. at Writing has been syndicated, I would love to start having a guest blogger once a month to write an article either on the topic of self publishing or memoir writing. However, if you’d like to submit an article on another topic related to the writing industry, I would be open to hear your suggestions as well. I am currently developing this part of my blogging life; but, if you are interested in being one of my guest bloggers in the future, please post a comment below and we will connect and get you scheduled.

On another note, the Inspired & Independent Book Club officially kicked off today! It’s not too late to join us in this month’s book reading — Chasing Superwoman: A Working Mom’s Adventure in Life and Faith by Sarah DiMickele. The Book Club has divided the book into 4 easy-to-read sections and one section is read each week. We then post our thoughts on that week’s section, with no spoilers if you read ahead, and at the end of the month we give a summary of our reading experience with the book in its entirety. Hop on over and join us. Christine and I have already posted our thoughts on the first week’s reading section.

Lastly, today is Day 1 of CampNaNoWriMo. I am doing CampNaNo this year, at least the June camp…haven’t decided if I’ll do the August camp as well. That’s 50,000 words written in a 30 day period. I am in a cabin with 5 others and we will be supporting and cheering each other on throughout the next 30 days of intensive writing. I hope to be able to finish my first draft by the end of camp, which I’m sure will be more than 50k words. That’s my goal so that I can then start the editing process and get this book published by the end of the year. If anyone is willing to read the finished first draft manuscript sometime in July of this year to give me your input, please let me know.

Whew! Lot’s of news for Friday Frivolities… More is better, so I ain’t complaining LOL!!! Have a GREAT weekend and I will “see” you all on Monday!