Category Archives: guest post

Motivational Speaker and Author Marion Levi Jones


Happy Monday creatives! I hope everyone enjoyed their Easter weekend. Also remember it is National Autism Awareness Month.

I wanted to end April on a positive note with enriching food for thought for those feeling overwhelmed in the struggle that comes from living life experiences. My guest today is motivational author and someone who has been there and survived that- Mr. Marion Levi Jones. Please join me in welcoming Marion to Clara54’s Writer’s Blog.

I’m here to help others who were like me, to encourage, to motivate and lift their spirits to become better than they were when out in the streets. Show them that they’re not alone and here for a purpose greater than themselves. I was lost for over 35 yrs since my dad died but it took me until the age of 50 to hear a click and to get it right. God kept me even in my mess to become who He wanted me to be. Now I’m giving back. Was able to write about my drugging days in my first book Poems From Within Me, A Recovering Addict.

Then how God changed me spiritually in my second book The Full Picture Of Marion Levi Jones. Eleven years clean and just last year became a Deacon in my church. So, if you need someone like me that will tell it like it is, please let me know.

Marion L. Jones  books share his story of how he made it through his trials and tribulations caught up in addiction. He informs his readers how there is always a road leading to a way out.  His first book Poems From Within Me was completed in 2006, a gift he says was given to him by The Almighty.

Contact the author @ Levijones55@yahoo.com

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!

Build a Powerful Author Brand to Break Through the Noise By Kathy Meis


Happy Friday, peeps! And I mean that in the most loving way:) So, I feel like I’m having this weird, mystical, amazing season in my life where all the stars are aligned and my cup runneth over with meaningful connections. One such connection is Kathy Meis, who is founder and CEO of Bublish,Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 1.13.09 PM the world’s first complete publishing solution with integrated brand-building and discoverability features. Kathy is the “ish” in the book publishing/marketing and promotion arena. Today, Kathy shares five simple steps to help craft an effective author brand.

kathy photo

Did you know that readers are fifteen times more likely to purchase a book from an author whose name they recognize? In a sea of content, readers flock to what they know. That’s why it has never been more important for writers to build an author brand.
What is an author brand? It is simply your promise to readers.
Authors are often uncomfortable with the idea of creating a brand around their writing. Yet, by being part of the social conversation, most are creating some type of brand whether they’re aware of it or not. Unfortunately, if they’re constantly asking readers to “buy their books” on social media, the brand they’re creating is that of a salesperson. Why not be more deliberate about the process and create an author brand that speaks to your audience and allows you to present yourself to the world as the talented creative writer that you are? In today’s crowded book marketplace, taking the time to craft an effective author brand will lead to a more engaged audience and ultimately more book sales.
If readers were asked to describe your author brand in a few words or phrases, what would they say? Do you know? If not, perhaps it’s worth taking some time to find out. Here are five simple steps to help craft an effective author brand:
1. Discover your brand. Explore and define your life-long aspirations, passions and goals as an author. When you start in a place of honesty, you will build a brand that is genuine and resonates with readers. Think of this part of the process like writing a mission statement for your writing career.
2. Ask hard questions. What makes your work compelling? What differentiates you and your writing in today’s book marketplace? How do readers perceive you and your work? Is that perception aligned with the perception you desire? Do the books you create and the way you market them help you cultivate your author brand and achieve your goals? How do you add value to your community of fans? This step needs to be interactive. Ask your readers for feedback. Figure out how your current readers see you. Then, decide if their feedback is aligned with the brand you want to build. If it is…awesome, the next steps are easier. If it is not, it’s time to stop and figure out why.
3. Create a plan. Map out a clear, long-term road map to help you reach your goals. This should include the types of books you will write (not necessarily just genre, specific qualities are important too), when you will release them, the way you will share them with the world, and the types of actions you will take on a regular basis to demonstrate the qualities and values for which you wish to be known. This step is all about creating a voice for your author brand. It’s about articulating what you’ve learned through steps 1 and 2. You’ve gathered information, now you need to put into a plan. One part of that plan is a road map for your career. The second part of that plan is a promotional content strategy that let’s the world know about your author brand.
4. Choose your platforms. Now that you’ve discovered and articulated your brand, it’s time to figure out the best places to communicate your brand’s message. Research social and real-world communication channels that target your audience. For example, if you write business books, you need to spend time in targeted LinkedIn group. If you write genre fiction, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are great places to explore. If you write young adult, you need to find a way to reach your audience on Instagram and YouTube. Execute your content plan, which you developed in Step 3, across the platforms that your audience uses. By the way, Bublish can help you share your stories and build your brand on all these platforms, so I hope you’ll check us out.
5. Commit to long-term execution of your plan. Building an effective author brand takes a long time. It requires commitment and consistency. Don’t give up on your road map just because you’re not seeing results quickly. In fact, let’s be clear, you will NOT see results quickly. However, if you craft a solid plan and commit to it, you will achieve your goals as an author.
I wish you the best of luck on the journey. Enjoy it. Embrace it. Being an author is hard work, but it’s an amazing gift.
Kathy Meis is the founder and CEO of Bublish, the world’s first complete publishing solution with integrated brand-building and discoverability features. With more than 25 years of experience in the media and publishing industries, she has served in a wide variety of editorial and management positions at some of the industry’s leading media companies, including CBS and Forbes, Inc. She is a founding partner of PubSmart, a publishing conference in Charleston, South Carolina, as well as a professional writer, editor, and ghostwriter. Kathy speaks and blogs regularly on the subject of book promotion, author branding, social marketing, and discoverability. She has appeared at many conferences, including Book Expo America, Women in Media, GrubSteet, PubSmart, and IndieRecon.

Awesome tips, Kathy! Thank you.

Are you focused on building your author’s brand? What tip/s from Kathy will you incorporate into your brand building?

 

Writer quote for today:

“All writing problems are psychological problems. Blocks usually stem from the fear of being judged. If you imagine the world listening, you’ll never write a line. That’s why privacy is so important. You should write first drafts as if they will never be shown to anyone.” — Erica Jong

 

 

 

Congratulations Clara!


thmy poetry

Yes, I’m aware that April is National Poetry Month, but I couldn’t resist sharing this special shout out with you guys 🙂 Happy Friday, creatives!

Today, I’m sending out a big ole congratulations to my nine-year old granddaughter and namesake, Clara Elizabeth. I was informed by her mother, my daughter-in-law, that Clara recently won first place at her school for her book of poems!

The award ceremony is May 18th and I will be posting pictures of the event. In the meantime, I want to share one of her poems (unedited) with my audience!

NIGHT.
Dusk has fell,night has come,
now comes out the dark from hell,
the stars from above light up the sky,
like a dove shining bright,
creepy shadows climb up the walls scaring bacteria out of your jaws, dusk has fell, night has come,
close your eyes,day is done

What do you think? Does this child have creative potential? And what proud parent/grand parent doesn’t think this about their beautiful little darlings? 🙂

Always treat yourself special…

Introducing Chicago Author and Journalist, Karen Ford


Clara,

“Thank you for your assistance in helping writers reach an audience and for your willingness to introduce me to your audience. ”  k

Happy Mother’s Day come Sunday to all moms of the world! In response to sentiments from my guest author today, I found the greatest authentic quote on my LinkedIn page:

“You don’t need a reason to help people.”  Zora Neale Hurston.  Come get acquainted with Chicago author and journalist, Karen Ford as she provides insights from her  book, Thoughts of a Fried Chicken Watermelon Woman. Make sure to pick up a copy in support.

Karen Ford

Women of an indiscriminate age are seen as faceless, sexless shapes with almost no value save being wives, mothers, caregivers or comic punch lines. But it’s even worse for Black women. There is no place for us in film or television. (It’s ironic that the only middle-aged Black woman prevalent in film today is actually portrayed by a man.) With the exception of traditional gospel music, we’re not part of the music industry. We’re not broadcast or print reporters or columnists. Other than Maya Angelou, Terry McMillan and Toni Morrison, we’re not widely read. So we remain voiceless.

The other side is that the average Black person in America is voiceless as well. When a subject pertaining to Black people comes up, media people reach out to Dr. Cornell West or Rev. Jesse Jackson or Rev. Al Sharpton. Not to denigrate these gentlemen but they do not speak for me or the millions of Americans like me. We are not a monolithic people and I, for one, take great offense at being treated as such.

When a tornado strikes a small town or when someone shoots up a school, reporters talk to the victims. They speak with the people involved. They don’t call their stock individuals who speak for the White folks involved. Why should it be any different for Black people?

Bio:

Karen Ford is the author of Thoughts of a Fried Chicken Watermelon Woman (Total Recall Press 2014) and the blog, Caviar & Grits (www.caviar&grits.com). Ford serves 3rd Vice President of the National Writers Union, UAW 1981, the only trade union for freelance writers. The union is comprised of over 1400 writers in every genre.As a freelance journalist for over 20 years, Ford has written for a number of local, national and international publications including the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Parent magazine, the Citizen Newspapers, Screen Magazine and Lutheran Woman Today. Her corporate clients have included the University of Illinois, the Chicago Labor Education Project, the Illinois Business Development Authority and the Women in Business Yellow Pages. She has written political ad copy for several local and county candidates and co-authored the book Get That Cutie in Commercials.Karen Ford received her BA with a focus in political science and her MS in public service management from DePaul University. She has a certificate in union organizing from the AFL-CIO Organizing Institute and a certificate in teaching community college from the Encore Organization of Harold Washington College. Ford is married with four children and loves to read, dance, cook and travel in her spare time. She lives with her husband in Chicago.

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Thoughts of A Fried Chicken Watermelon Woman  is Available on Alibris.com, Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and BooksAMillion.com.

Author Contact info:
Karen Ford
773-509-5058

 

 

 

More Sites Seeking Your Writing Pearls


Happy Saturday, creatives!  This weekend I’m spending quality time with my grandchildren. I hardly get to see them because my son and daughter-in-law live out of state.  You can imagine the “grandma” bubble of joy I’m in right now:)

My post is short, but serves up three grand resources for newbie & seasoned writers who are looking to get their creativity on!

Angie’s | Stories, Art, Essays, Philosophy, Psychology, Fiction

    Angie accepts poetry and story submissions from every caliber of writings. And gives you an opportunity to make influencer connections around the globe with other writers and authors. Your work published on this site also builds your brand credibility.

    DREAMQUESTONE.COM Andre West, Editor/CEO

    Andre accepts your poetry, prose and short stories for fiction and poetry contests where you can make a profit from submitting your creative pearls.

    imageGuest Blog Post Submissions

    Ms.Nikki Skies is a writer, lecturer, workshop facilitator, Dana Foundation Arts Fellow and playwright with a jamming, soulful poetry/story site that I’m still languishing over. Ms. Nikki is seeking guest blog post submissions! Go here for more info : https://lnkd.in/b7Pb-zb

    I’m hoping these sites get jump-start your creative juices, even on rainy days like today, in my neck of the woods. Chili today! 🙂

     

    In Honor of National Poetry Month:The Works of Poet & Artist, Henry L. Jones


    Good Morning Friday! I’m blessed to be back on the blog this morning. Please send up an extra prayer for the victims of last night’s Tornado. Today, I have a special treat for all of my readers and new friends who happen to stop by:)

    Mr. Henry  L. Jones, a former Chicagoan, is an artist and poet whose works over the years have garnered him much praise and accolades… Please enjoy his artistic offerings in celebration of National Poetry Month.

    STRANGERS FOR PRETENDING
    Strangers walked by
    wearing masks
    layered with makeup
    no promises
    make love to me
    don’t look into my eyes
    or try to touch me
    make the skin warm
    and move the heart
    let me pretend
    to be alive real
    the fears
    of my childhood
    lost in stolen innocence
    who understands the shame
    of the hidden child who hides under the stairs
    and looks at
    who walks by
    keeping quiet
    as people pass
    laughter fell
    from their lips
    dripping greed
    to cannibalize
    their flesh
    mouths eat
    and bite
    till the pain
    becomes pleasure
    dry lips become wet with desire
    but nothing seems
    to fill their emptiness
    souls so vacant
    but many residents.

    Henry L. Jones
    (From Run into Blackness: Feeling My Poetic Gumbo, Pneuma Publishing International, Inc.)

    Martin Luther King painting King without a Crown by Henry   Jones

    Henry L. Jones in his art studio                                  Run into Blackness Image                                       Henry Jones standing by sculpture Mother Earth in Scarritt   Bennett exhibit

    Meructio by Henry Jones                                                              To Dance without Heartache by Henry Jones

     

    Henry L. Jones is an award-winning artist and writer who struggles. From those struggles, he discovered a healing power from his ability to create artwork. His art delves into the forces, which shape things whether social causes, spiritual transformation or community affairs. Jones uses the journey of art to find answers about the causes of social issues, such as poverty, violence, injustice, history and other plights. He wants to understand why events happened in the past and how they’ll impact our future.

    In many of his artworks, he blends experiences and images with references to his Black heritage (both Diasporic and mainland African cultural links). Then, he’s able to tap into the forces using his art technique which he coined “gibbing” to visually portray interacting forces, provocative images and colorful patterns. Gibbing is a way of painting, which enables him to take in experiences and then unleash them as an artistic expression. It is his core creativity. This involves applying paint with his hands instead of brushes to translate the messages.

    Jones is a contemporary Griot seeking ears and eyes to hear and see his stories of redemption, hope and healing in his artwork. He’s an award-winning artist who’s received awards, juried exhibit invitations and grants. His art has hung in museums, galleries, universities and cultural centers. Jones is a Fisk University alumnus and a native Detroit-er and transplant from Chicago.