All posts by clara54

Former professional nurse... Author, Lifestyle Strategist,columnist and women's' advocate who mentors those on a journey of self discovery, self love; passion and purpose.

Special Guest Interview With CEO And Publisher of Dream Quest One ~Andre West

DreamQuestOne120x120Maya Angelou — ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’

I really got serious with my writing in 2000, whereas, before, I’d write stuff and put it away in my file cabinets. Submitting my poems and short-stories in competition, in hopes that one of my babies just might get published, was a bit intimidating. I felt awful whenever my work came back solidified in a cold detached form letter.  One day, I opened another rejection to another submission, only this one differed from the usual cold form letters, in that small side-notes of encouragement were written along the edges of the paper.

The editor had taken time to encourage me to keep writing, telling me that I was an “excellent” writer!  Since, then, I’ve written numerous articles, stories and poems and even managed to write and publish a book or two. My writing definitely improved.  And I never forgot that rejection letter.

How fitting that on the last week of National Poetry Month,  Clara54 gets to interview the person whose kind words kept me from throwing myself a ‘pity-party’ and motivated me to keep writing… Please join me in welcoming CEO and Publisher  of DreamQuestOne, Mr. Andre West to the blog:

Welcome, Andre! We haven’t met personally, but I feel like I know you through  your creative ‘rejection’ of my short story and now, our  LinkedIn connection.

Can you share a bit of background with my readers?

Clara, first and foremost, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for being a gracious host and for interviewing me to be featured in your prestigious Clara54 Writer’s Blog. I truly admire and respect your undaunted encouragement, warm-hearted inspiration and endearing support for the fine arts and writing community.

I appreciate that, Andre. Thank you.

About me, hmmmm? Well, uhhhh, mmmm, okay! In my early childhood, besides playing with Lincoln Logs and Army Men toys, I remember reading books and learning Mother Goose nursery rhymes. Particularly, I really loved the times when my mother would read bedtime stories to me. So about the age of five or six years old, I began reading books on my own. This is when my mother would let me read bedtime stories to her. She enjoyed my reading so much that I would read her to sleep. Of course, it was supposed to be the other way around. Heh heh! Enthusiastically, and with childlike confidence, I wanted to read stories and nursery rhymes to my dear mother, in order to show her that “I can read.” In doing so, it made me feel great to start and finish reading a complete book. As a child, my favorite book to read was “The Bike Lesson” by Stan and Jan Berenstain. I guess you could say that I was hooked on phonics at an early age. I still have my old favorite book to this today!

I’ve learned that a picture is worth a thousand words. Noticing that many children’s books contained illustrations, I saw that those pictures only reinforced what I had already read. My imagination teleported me to far off places in the universe, where I may visit kingdoms by reading just words alone. Therefore, in my youthful mind, pictures had become redundant. Not that there was anything wrong with a colorful illustration, but pictures seem to replace words I could be reading. I then asked my mother to get me books without pictures. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a word is worth a thousand and one pictures, I imagine. Mother brought me all sorts of new and exciting tales to read.

My imagination began to grow and develop as my mind opened to new concepts. I lived with my family at a government housing project in the row houses called the “The Village” at the A.B.L.A. Homes, in Chicago, Illinois. Located on the near West Side, I lived right across the street from Fosco Park. Donnie, my big brother and I use to play in the dirty field, ride bikes, skateboard, roller-skate, fly kites, and even ice-skate during the winter months at Fosco Park. We always had what we needed, so being poor didn’t bother us that much. We hardly even thought about it sometimes, but we knew the deal. Occasionally, we use to eat maple syrup and bread sandwiches back then. Hey, it kept us alive. I’d still eat one today, but I prefer wheat bread.

As the years went by, I was considered a “gifted” child at Medill Elementary School. I really didn’t know what “gifted” meant, since I didn’t receive too many gifts back then. All I remember, is that a few other students and I had to take more advanced classes than homeroom peers. I went to different instructors for reading, music and art classes. At this time, my reading comprehension, vocabulary, and verbal skills were considered above average. I didn’t understand what that really meant. All I wanted to do was have fun and play with my friends. Although it was nice taking a break from the monotony of being in the same classroom setting all day.

So from first grade through junior high school, I remember attending Junior Great Books reading classes. We read stories such as “The Velveteen Rabbit,” “The Ugly Duckling,” and “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Then we discussed what happened in those stories, as a group. It helped develop the essential skills of reading carefully, thinking critically, listening intently, and speaking and writing persuasively. I enjoyed participating in those group discussions and did very well in English grammar. We wrote essay compositions and poems for classroom exercises and homework. I never stopped reading books. My teachers would always praise my ability to produce interesting creative writing. I felt great while writing, whether it was a short story or a poem, transforming thoughts and feelings into words, conveying messages to readers, or producing a desired outcome or effect. I love writing. It’s that simple.

At school, I remember having my essays, stories and poems posted in classrooms and hallways. I continued writing but there was something else about me. I always wanted to fit in with the popular students. And being smart was not very popular in these circles. Also, there were some negative influences from family members, and so-called friends that steered me to mischief at times. So I became shy and timid about showing my gifts and talents in writing to those around me. I tried to please everyone as I grew up. In doing so, I was never fully able to express myself or “be myself,” so to speak. I usually wrote a story or a poem or two, as required from my teachers. Once in 5th grade, I kept a composition book filled with essays that I wrote throughout the school year. There was a time when I went home with a note from my teacher to my mother. She told my mother that she didn’t believe I had written a certain composition and ‘please don’t do your child’s homework for him.’ Well, my mother didn’t help me. I wrote the story while sitting alone in my room. The night before turning in my homework, my mother couldn’t believe I had created such a great story. Nonetheless, I wrote it. Unfortunately, at the end of the school year, my composition book thrown into the trash. I really regret throwing those stories away. My mother said she wanted to keep that book, too. Usually, I write a story or poem when inspired or motivated by a profound person, a memorable place, a wonderful thing, or an outstanding event in my life.

Mrs. Smiley, a strict and disciplined school librarian, at Gallistel Language Academy, once pulled me aside. She said, “Andre, you really have a talent for creative writing. Keep it up. I want you to remember that.” She even wrote her wonderful praise to me in my elementary school graduation autograph book. At the time, writing a book became somewhat of a dream that might be possible. But I never went deeper into the thought of it.

Why do you write?

There was always the fear of rejection that haunted me for many years. I always sought approval from others for fear of being criticized. I was also afraid of failing and succeeding. Thinking disaster would come to bring me down and out, of my introverted comfort zone. I was scared too, of taking risks, making mistakes, letting go, and living life as I believed in my heart. Sometimes family members mean well, but they may also discourage one from pursuing her or his ‘calling’ in life. They may sound like Glum from Gulliver’s Travels saying, “You’ll never make it”. They are called, “dream-killers.” All the wasted time I spent trying to be whatever someone else wanted me to be, has passed. I got tired of being afraid to venture off into the unknown. In spite of any opposition from others or within, I choose to write because I feel more alive while writing. I’m able to express myself freely and creatively through the art and craft. In my heart, I’ve always been and always will be a writer, a poet and a dreamer, but not in that exact order. I’ve always loved poetry and writing even through high school and college. I wrote more stories while taking English courses. Upon receiving an A.A. degree in Liberal Arts Education and Business Administration, I continued pursuing a degree in Finance. To support myself I have been a landscaper, a front-end maintenance worker for a major supermarket chain, a postal mail-carrier, and a computer information systems expert. “In whatever job I choose to do, I like to do it right or I won’t do it all.”

What does Poetry mean to you?

During high school, I occasionally wrote poems and stories about my life and the things that I have done. In the year 1986, there was a local writer’s newsletter, which sponsored a poetry contest. Inspired by a girl, whom I liked very much during my sophomore year of high school, I entered the following poem.

“Imagine This”

Sweetness is for her, body’s motion on a staircase

About seven feet down the lane, staring upon that lovely face

Looking upward as a matter of fact

Walking forward to be exact

 

Gracious is her style, thus owning one principle

Glorious is she, who audaciously attracted me

A host to her mind, the waiter for her heart

Frequency of the wave, the commencement of a start

Imagine this,

Knowledge of love, it has no definite flaws

Throughout friendship we understand

there’s certain common laws

Thresholds of peace, insinuations I may

Intimations I may. Instilled visions of rhymes

Instituting our day

Imagination,

is a powerful tool. Don’t interpret me wrong

I’m nobody’s fool

There is just so much that you must see

Imagine this, you and me

Though this is the beginning and not the end

Imagine this,

my marvelous friend.

By © 1986 Andre La Mar West

To my surprise, I won an honorable mention and received a big red dictionary. Clara, that contest really gave me a healthy dose of inspiration and confidence to continue writing poetry. I began reading and sharing poems with students at school. When a poem makes your feel as if your head is spinning and you are falling off planet Earth: that is poetry to me. When I can read or write a poem that makes me think and feel like I’ve been turned right side up, to me: to me that is poetry. If it moves me to feel pure emotions such as; joy, anger, empathy, sadness, love, hate, pain, ecstasy, fear, or enlightened, because its composition is a true self-expression: that is what poetry means to me.

Andre_West-DreamQuestOne

Are you all enjoying this interview as much as I am?!  Want more ? Great, because we’re not finished… Part two of my interview with Andre West continues next week! I wanted to give you all of Andre’s powerful writings, publishing and living life as an artist insights!

You don’t  want to miss part two of this interview. Andre shares his vision for Dreamquestone and gives us his take on winning poetry and writing contests. In the meantime, you can access Andre’s site to get the 411 on upcoming submissions – http://www.dreamquestone.com/rules.html

Happy writing!

Nurturing The Creativity In Children

This morning, I’m sharing a special post with you guys. Don’t worry, I will see you all on Friday for our usual conversation.

I love when parents recognize and nurture the creativity in their children. This video was sent to me by artist and poet, Henry Jones. His daughter is expressing her love for math from a school homework assignment.

Math-numbers-girls~ oh my?!

Homework Piece Titled: My Favorite Trig Function Is

Thanks for sharing Henry! Know any girl mathematicians? Child geniuses? Are you nurturing the creativity in your child? Feel free to share.

Eye On The Poet: Krissy Mosley

Happy Friday!  So, technically, I’m not back on the blogs until next week, but I have some great April guests lined up for y’all, in celebration of National Poetry Month.

I love meeting wordsmiths who takes the ordinary and molds it into something meaningful and extraordinary. Please join me in welcoming the poetess, Krissy Mosley to Eye On The Poet~

 

index

Poetry Manifesto~

I am electric

My creative flows – makes up who I am, and who I am becoming

I am art

I am these poetic currants

I am studying me

I am growing my art’s intuition

I am my art’s path toward my true self

I am loving  all of its ups down’s – the ins and outs of art making

Poetry lets me breathe

I am alive

I am much more than words alone

I am this journey to my oceans

I am the lungs to my pen

I am she who writes of freedom

I am she- listening to the howling winds

I am thirsting for life’s utmost peace

I am beating, loving and reaching….♥

Krissy Mosley

index2Writing way down in my spirit brings me happiness

Blogging for three years, recalling historical events through Poetry

Poet for Mother Bethel A.M.E Church, Phila, P.A.

Author of Short Edition of Poetry “Seventh Fire”

M.J. Master Jurisprudence Health Law Degree, Widener School of Law,

Follow me https://visionariekindness.com/

Twitter @krissymosley83

Did you all enjoy reading Krissy’s Poetry Manifesto as much a I did? Make sure to visit her blog for an awesome reading experience and follow her on Twitter! Y’all can thank me later:)

Everyone get out there and enjoy the spring weather this weekend and join me next Friday for another celebratory post in honor of National Poetry Month. I can hardly wait to introduce you to a giant in the world of poets/ poetry and writing contests!

Today’s Quote:

It is precisely the possibility of realizing a dream that makes life interesting.” – Paulo Coelho

 

Five Profit Making Techniques For Your First Book

thbookssHappy Easter, Authors!  It’s so exciting for a writer to finally finish a first book and put it out there for readership, rave reviews and purchase. I mean, I would love to see Unleash Your Pearls in the hands of women and men alike, getting all inspired and feeling the “ish” of just how deserving of God’s blessings they are.  Wouldn’t that be something?! Well, rest easy for now, my lucky readers, we’re still at the publishers, but  once we launch, you will get the memo:)

First time authors put in their dues, with the nail-biting that’s a nimble away from becoming a habit, the nighttime nightmares, sweating tears and negative fears, non-withstanding; it is the desire of first time authors to give readers the best extension of themselves through their art. Oftentimes, these authors find themselves in a quandary because at the end of the day, they know their validation and financial sustainability as authors come from their book sales.

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Nowadays, more books are being published by first time authors than ever before and most authors realize that unless you are a celebrity or a bestselling Terry McMillan, the first  months of your book being out there, more than likely will result in few sales. This can be a daunting experience. As writers we have to get pro-creative to cultivate a satisfying book profit outcome. I don’t know about other authors on the scene with their first books, but I’m looking to land the bestseller list for my pearl and so can you.

Here are five profit-making techniques for your first book~

  1. Book Blurb… If you know you have a great book to offer readers. You have to start grinding and get your book into the hands of the people. Use your blog to promote your book by offering brief excerpts from time to time. This technique is one used by many authors to bring awareness to their upcoming book launch. It stimulates the reader’s interest in your book, without making them feel pressured to buy and if your book just happens to be bestseller worthy, like my (Unleash your pearls), for example, then, all the better:)
  2. Offer a free copy of your book to another blogger in exchange for an honest review on Amazon.com or on their blog…I’ve done this for many  bloggers turned authors. As an Amazon book reviewer, I know this works! Not only have authors benefited from my reviews, they have seen an increase in book readership, as a result.  Of the many reviews I’ve done over the years, only one author asked that I change the ratings authors depend on  4 or5 star ratings for their books to make a profit and I do understand this, but, I am honest in my reviews and therefore, my review are not coerced. I do book review at my writer’s blog still, when time permits.
  3.  Use your social media to announce your book’s launch, links of purchase and any other information complimentary to purchase, for example, where reader can pre-order a copy before it launches.
  4. Connect with colleagues on Linkedin… Of course, use all of your social media resources to talk about your book, but I love the connections I’ve made with like-minded professionals on Linkedin because I’ve gotten asked to participate in business ventures, joined esteemed group in my genres, appeared on blog-talk radio to promote my work and had work accepted that will bring awareness to my business brand from which my book is based. The stellar folks you meet on Linkedin can be your book’s game-changer!  You can’t always receive and not be willing to give in return and that’s why I  appreciate LinkedIn connections~ Good business practice.
  5. Finally, as a new author, you just have to make your name known, by any lawful means necessary. Get out there and tell people who you are and what your book can do for them before it launches. Be pro-creatively active, y’all and take your book to colleagues, connections, readers, reviewers and critics alike. Bring the food to the influence table! Get to know your local librarian or bookstore owner, talk about your book and set up a reading.Be that ‘expert’ panelist or guest blogger on popular brand websites or blog talk radio spots. Join a twitter chat or host a webinar.

Whether your brand teaches, entertains, motivates , inspires or encourages another to aspire to be the best person s/he can be, in order to make your book a success, you can do what needs to be done to get your book in the hands of readers. There are many creative avenues from which to sell your great book and introduce your expertise and brand to the world. Get on the good foot, new authors, time’s-a-wasting because people all over the world are waiting to read your awesome book!

Did you find this post helpful?  Do you know of other savvy ways new authors can ensure their book sale? Please share in the comments. We’d appreciate your resourceful tips.

I want to give a special thanks to all of my new and seasoned followers for being a part of Clara54 Writers Blog. Y’all bring the Sunshine! I’m taking a brief spring break and will see all of you in a few weeks. In the meantime, keep on grinding and make those book sales, people.:)

Support For Children In The Performance Arts

Happy Friday, Creatives!

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Today, I’m sowing seeds for children who have a passion for the arts! My girls did a fan-fantastical job in their recent solo and group performances this past month. They love to dance, but competing and performing doesn’t come cheap! I’m supporting the go-fund me fundraising campaign for Pure Performance Arts (P.P.A.) in Michigan. Won’t you join me in helping these children accomplish their dreams?

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This is the fundraising campaign for Pure Performance Arts (P.P.A.) : https://de.gofund.me/pureperformance&rcid=35ccc7f8e84a11e5a60abc764e0525d6

You can see the hefty prize tag of competition and the goal of the fundraiser… May I offer my sincere “Thank you” for your kind donation?:)

Let’s also send condolences and prayers to Ms. Robbie & her family (Welcome To Sweetie Pies) for the loss of her grandson, Andre.

Today’ quote:

“The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true.” – John Steinbeck.

 

Women Artists Who Dared to Create From A Room Of Their Own

I want to  dedicate this post to all women, irregardless of whether they’ve been written up in the pages of history books. Women, by their mere existence, create history that is unforeseen and untold every single day that they live and breathe~ so for all women, let me say, Happy Women’s History Month!

The novelist,George_Charles_Beresford_-_Virginia_Woolf_in_1902 Virginia Woolf wrote in her famous essay, A Room  of One’s Own, “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” Viewed in a broader sense, the essay could reference any author’s need for poetic license and the personal liberty to create their art.

The artists I’ve chosen to honor for Women’s History Month, in essence, created from a room of their own. The “room” for the most part were of their own choosing, but sadly, one  young girl had no say in the literal sense.  Nonetheless, these women (and many more) craved out an impressive body of creative works that became a historical legacy.

1f30f05d-b3d0-4f97-a720-e238d5d018f7-originalMaya Angelou had me at I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. She was brutally raped as a little girl and only shared this secret with her brother, Bailey. When her uncles found out, the molester was killed. Maya did not speak for 5 years, blaming herself for the molester’s murder.

7f3df4e8-d3f7-31df-921d-cc3810d0eed7ANNA 13-year-old Jewish victim of the Holocaust… Anne Frank went into hiding from the Germans with her family and another family for two years in a small annex above the office where her father once worked. It’s reported that Anne, her mom and sister died in the concentration camps and only her father would survive to publish her diary, written while in hiding. 

Anne wrote in her diary that she wished her writings to live on in life. How prophetic her words were.

k2-_5b518c7b-c8ff-4653-9263-14c828b2365a.v2.jpg-14c1e4e6ef225f4d3e85fd206095436e0ca8323a-optim-450x450

thnikkiNikki Giovanni has often been called a “Revolutionary” poet. All I know is her writing are often based on fact and it is those poems that touches the sensibilities of a nation of readers, including myself. A prolific writer, activist and highly guarded educator, Ms. Giovanni is currently a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech.

My very favorite of her many works includes: Those Who Ride The Night Winds, poems about the mass murders of young black boys in Atlanta totaling more than 29 young children killed. Ms. Giovanni poems, in my opinion, are a loving eulogy to the memory of those children.  thIf you haven’t read any of Nikki Giovanni’s work, you are missing out on one of our greatest literary contributors.

220px-Pearl_Buck I read Pearl S. Buck’s, The Good Earth in High School. The book introduced me to another culture and people with a different way of living. Although American, Ms. Buck lived in China for a while and associated with Chinese culture and tradition. I was impressed by the humanity of The Good Earth as it relates to a country’s change affecting regular people.

51zRzieodBL._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_Ms. Buck died in 1973, but her Pulitzer prize novel lives on. 

In another life, I opt to come back as Lorraine Hansberry! Not only was she the first African-American woman playwright, she was the first woman of color to have a play produced on Broadway! A Raisin in the Sun was inspired by Poet Langston Hughes poem, Harlem that asks, ” What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the Sun?”

Ms. Hansberry’s play would later inspire Nina Simone’s song, “To Be Young, Gifted and Black!” You know what they say, “The Play’s The Thing.” Lorraine Hansberry was the “ish” and sadly, gone too soon… The playwright died of pancreatic cancer in 1965. Sheer Brilliance!

Here’s a special clip for y’all:)

And:

thtoni Toni Morrison’s-The Bluest Eye,Tar Baby, Song of Solomon, Beloved and Sula.

thzora Zora Neale Hurston’s  “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” Their_Eyes_Were_Watching_God_us

thalice When Alice Walker was a little girl, she was playing in the backyard with her brothers, one of whom accidentally hit her in the eye with one of the pellets from his BB gun ( I remember those. My brothers got them for Christmas) . That accident never stopped Alice from living her dreams. One of the biggest dream in history was:

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I’ve had several books from these historical women on my bookshelf,  in what I can only describe as a stationary library for many years and felt that I could never part with any of these great works, but, alas, I have and I don’t regret passing them along (donations) to new readers and creatives and curious children who just might dare to dream:)

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. I know that the works of these and other women history making artists are sitting on your bookshelf, vying for a little Women History Month love shout… Please share a few of your fave with us.

Writer’s quote for today:

“Only I hold the pen that will write the story of my life.” Tia Kelly