Special Guest Interview With Andre West~Part Two

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Happy Friday Creatives! I hope you all have a great weekend and a happy Mother’s Day.  Thanks to each and every one of my  followers for your continued support at the blogs. Let me state for the record~ “y’all totally rock!” So, let’s not waste any more time chit-chatting.

Welcome to Part II of my two-part interview series with Publisher and CEO, Andre West.

Andre, Please share your vision for Dreamquestone from its inception to now.

First of all, I’ve always dreamt of doing great things in life, Clara. I created, founded and established the Dream Quest One Poetry & Writing Contest. This unique dual poetry and writing competition went ‘live’ online, on March 17, 2005. There were several ideas that went into play upon my choosing the name Dream Quest One. Upon checking for internet domains, I found that I couldn’t use Dream Quest, for it was already taken. Therefore, I choose the next best domain for me, http://www.dreamquestone.com . My mission is to inspire, motivate and encourage anyone having the desire or love for poetry and writing, to continue doing so without fear of failure or success. The Dream Quest One Poetry & Writing Contest is semi-annual. It has closing deadlines in the summer and winter, each year. We are now in our 11th year of this successful mission. Visit the website for details on how to enter at http://www.dreamquestone.com/rules.html . In the near future, I want to offer more valuable content, which is helpful to the constantly changing world of writing and publishing. I have the foresight to see additional contest categories, increasing monetary awards, and no entry fees. Also, I am looking forward to seeing Dare to Dream being published in hard copy print magazine, someday.  In addition to writing, I want to do my part in fighting against social problems such as neglect, child/spousal abuse, poverty, addictions, and education. This is my dream. I want to write a novel or two, which the world will enjoy reading until the end of time. That is also my dream. I want to reach out to millions of people in the process of reaching for my star. To fulfill these dreams is my quest. I remember a song titled, “The Impossible Dream,” lyrics by Joe Darian, from the 1972 musical film, Man of LaMancha. Ms. Crotty, my eighth-grade teacher, had our class learn and sing that song for graduation day. It is a beautiful piece of lyrical art, which will forever be one of my favorites.

I submitted a short story for competition many years ago, but I didn’t win. You did something in the rejection form letter that can be a motivating factor for many new creative’s trying to share their works, in hope of making a name for themselves or building a life through their writing. You told me that I was an “excellent” writer and although I didn’t win the contest, you wrote; “Don’t let the sun go down on your dream unless you choose to be a star.”  That quote kept me from throwing myself a ‘pity party’ and kept me determined and persistent in my writing goals. So, thank you Andre West🙂

How do you manage to take that “woe is me” attitude from people who might lose a writing or poetry competition and turn it into a positive?   And since we’re on the topic, what‘s the best advice you can give to writers entering writing and poetry contests?

You’re welcome, Clara. I know there are many others like me. Having allowed negative thinking, criticism and fear of rejection to hold them back from becoming the poets & writers they truly are. There are writers and writers who need to know that dreams are not just for other people. Dreams are not just for people who have already “made it,” so to speak. Dreams are for you and me! The little people, having the courage to dream out loud, without fear of failure or success. I remember going on job interviews and not getting hired or called back for one reason or another. Sometimes I was told, they will keep my resume or application on file. Every time I didn’t get the interview or job, I became more confident to get even better at my presentation during interviews, and to appreciate my value as a person. I remember my mother telling me that, “Someone needs you in their workforce right now. You have to be persistent and keep striving for excellent until you get hired. Someone will be leaving a job today, someone will be quitting, someone will get fired, someone will expire, someone will be getting a promotion, and someone will retire. I know this isn’t about entering contests. It’s like a parable. I am trying to explain the dynamics of taking a “woe is me” attitude and turning it into a positive. Just always be true to yourself, let your hair down and never give up! Also, as Sinclair Lewis profoundly stated, “It is impossible to discourage the real writers – they don’t give a damn what you say, they’re going to write.”

The best advice I could give writers entering writing and poetry contests is to always be true to yourself. Put your heart, mind, and spirit into the body of your works. It gives life to it and creates an inner voice that may be heard and felt by the reader or audience. Your unique voice is powerful and sets you apart from all others. Many folks might believe that submitting their poems and stories near the contest deadline, will give them a better chance of winning. I suppose that one may think that judges do not read entries until after the deadline. On the contrary, the earlier you submit your poems or stories, the better chance it has to be read and thoroughly digested by the judges. The early entries may be given more benefit of doubt in how poems are interpreted and stories are perceived. Also, simultaneously, you might choose to send the same poems and stories to other competitions. If your entries are short listed or in case you win elsewhere, you may have time to withdraw it from another contest, and receive an entry fee refund. As more entries come in closer to the deadline, stories and poems are read more quickly. This is because most entries are received on the last day. Your story or poem may be hurriedly read, and more harshly criticized for any reason to be rejected.

Making mistakes in formatting your poems and stories according to the contest guidelines can cost you some points. If you are required to leave your name off your entries, use a certain font type, and font size, please do. Center your title, which should not be put in quotation marks, italicized or underlined. Make sure you use line spacing in compliance with contest rules. Don’t forget to use good grammar, spelling and punctuation. When a poem a story is presented in a professional looking manner, it can’t help being noticed and standing out from all others. Although there are more things you can do to improve your chances of winning a writing or poetry contest, those a just a few which may help, dramatically. Clara, you have my utmost gratitude for hosting me on your award-winning blog during National Poetry Month. I thank you for the opportunity to show my love, strengths, vision, and hope through your platform for writers, poets and dreamers like me.

My pleasure, Andre. Thanks for your time. I appreciate it!

Thank you for having me, Clara! You are a beautiful soul.

Here’s the current Summer 2016 competition information.

THE DREAM QUEST ONE POETRY & WRITING CONTEST is open to anyone who loves expressing innermost thoughts and feelings into the beautiful literary art of poetry and/or writing a story that is worth telling everyone! Guidelines: (1) Write a poem, thirty lines or fewer on any subject, form or style. And/or (2) Write short story, five pages maximum length, single or double line spacing, on any subject or theme, fiction, nonfiction, or creative nonfiction. Multiple and simultaneous entries are accepted. (www.dreamquestone.com)

Postmark deadline: August 17, 2016.

Prizes: Writing First Prize is $500; Second: $250; Third: $100. Poetry First Prize: $250; Second: $125; Third: $50. All contest winners works will be published online in the Dare to Dream pages, on October 9, 2016. Entry fees: $10 per story, $5 per poem. To send entries by mail: Include title of poem(s) or story(ies), name, address, phone#, email, brief biographical info. (Tell us a little about yourself) on the coversheet; add a self-addressed stamped envelope for entry confirmation. Fees payable to: “DREAMQUESTONE.COM”- Mail to: Dream Quest One Poetry & Writing Contest, P.O. Box 3141, Chicago, IL 60654. Visit http://www.dreamquestone.com for details on how to enter!

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Brief bio: Andre L. West is creator, founder, and editor at the Dream Quest One Poetry & Writing Contest. He is a poet, a writer, and a dreamer from Chicago, IL. Andre’s mission through Dream Quest One, is to inspire, motivate, and encourage anyone having the desire or love for poetry and writing, to continue doing so without fear of failure or success.

 

 

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.

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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~

 

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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.

 

A blog where writers find support, share writing info and concepts. information about their works of fiction, memoir, short story, poetry, plays and other genre of writings

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