Five Quick Tips to a Better Novel

Please remember, this is my personal experience that I choose to share to help aspiring authors see what worked for me. Remember, I’m only here to give insight, not tell you what’s right or wrong. 😊

5: ASK YOURSELF: WOULD YOU CALL OR HANG AROUND YOUR CHARACTER?

FullSizeRender.jpg

Characters can make or break your story, regardless of plot. You’ll need to entice your readers to read from start to finish. Note: You won’t win everyone over. Your book won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. Unfortunately, some readers won’t know till they open your book, despite being hooked initially by the blurb and/or cover.

Okay.

Number one: YOUR CHARACTER IS EITHER A MAIN, SUPPORTIVE, OR FILLER

Main: The character which the story revolves around.  

Deuteragonist or what I like to simply refer to as Supportive: The ones closest to the main, the sidekicks.

Tertiary or what I like to call fillers: They don’t have much of a role and aren’t seen often.

Lets get this out the way. Every book will have a character who says “hello,” and they’re just there as someone who had to take the job. The server, car salesperson, mail person etc... We're not worried about this person and what they bring to the table accept to do his job and go. We don’t need a full description or any background info. Sounds obvious, but some authors need this to be pointed out. It’s okay. We don’t judge here. Now, if you give a description, make it no more than about two things, and place them strategically so the reader doesn’t feel time is wasted on a sudden detail dump.

Now, to focus on your main characters , or the ones that actually push the story forward, should be more than wallpaper. If they’re bad, make them bad. If they’re worthy of being hated, make them irritating. Don’t straddle—go all in. Listen, my lead character in my latest book is easily hated. This is a huge gamble, because he’s obviously the star of the show and the one readers will have to be in the car with, so to speak, more than anyone else and for the whole ride. He’s what we call a douchebag. And honey, nothing is worse than having a straddling douche bag, because it comes across as apologetic. I don’t like my character’s ways, but he’s my douchbag, and at least I chose a side for him and know what I feel about him. It’s too bad that he’s the protagonist and A-hole, but I can’t apologize for this. This is who he is, and it’s up to me to win him over with the readers. However, you’d prob opt to hang out with him because, you’d want to tell him off, test his arrogance, or simply see what’s so good about his life. Hell, you’d probably wanna sleep with him to see why the women put up with him. That’s at least something I can offer my readers: He can sex your brains out. But what if my reader is a man? Maybe he can relate to my character from wild days of the past or wishes he could be so brazen like my character. Ya never know. Just make your characters more than wallflower. If they’re too boring to write for and about, then they need to be demoted to a filler character or scratched completely. Or! Maybe they’re not right for this part, this book. Maybe that character is best for another book of yours. See, I treat my books like movies. Your story needs to be a clean and cut visual with characters we trust to pull off the story. If they can’t  do that effectively, give them a personality transplant/lift or set them free. 

4: KNOW WHEN TO CHART

FullSizeRender.jpg

I just saw someone on IG mention that they found themselves outlining so much, that it became more of a hindrance than helpful. That could definitely happen, just like trying to hold all the details you think you’ll remember in your head. Here’s the thing. You’ll need a balance. I find that I’m guilty of trying to hold everything in my head now, whereas before, I charted in my first trilogy. Charting is helpful for character background bits and phenotype descriptions. Lord knows you don’t wanna give a character brown eyes when they were blue before. And what about that character you said was an only child but suddenly has a sister?  🤭 Your readers will remember better than you, because their job is to retain. 

But let’s discuss plot outlining. How do I do it? I write a few main things that need to happen to push my story forward, and to give it that twist. I choose not to jot paragraphs down when it will be written anyway, or thrown off by my characters. I do a gist of it so I know what’s up, but I save the rest for writing when it’s actually happening. Your characters have a way of helping you write that spot you dreaded to pull off with skill, because remember: A good story ties itself up almost seamlessly. With every book, I’ve decided on the plot twist, climax, whatever, then dreaded how to make it happen flawlessly. However, when I got to the part, the characters had a way of showing me how it was gonna be done. Isn’t that amazing? Because I trusted them along the way, they were there for me. Why? Because I was present in the moment, every step of the way. Outlining more than a little bit can work well for others, just not for me. I prefer to let it flow as I carry the gist of the twists and climaxes with me. See, there’s no right or wrong way, just your way. Just be careful not to let outlining rob you of the grace because you become so enthralled with the technical. 

3: BEING TOO VERBOSE

Remember when I said filler characters don’t get a lot of play? Okay, let’s explore how to do this. 

Remember when I said filler characters don’t get a lot of play? Okay, let’s explore how to do this. 

Ex: 1) The server’s brunette hair shook when she said, “No. We don’t serve shrimp here.” 

You want two character descriptions?

AVOID:

The server’s brunette hair shook when she said, “No. We don’t serve shrimp here.” Thinking, she fluttered her long lashes as she pushed the tip of the pen against her chin. She said, “But we do have crab.”

TRY: 

Ex: 2) The server’s brunette hair shook when she said, “No. We don’t serve shrimp here.”  Fluttering her long lashes, she pushed the tip of the pen against her chin. “But we do have crab.”

NOTES:  

—Avoid using the tag ‘said’ twice, as readers can tell that the same person is still speaking. That will instantly make your work more polished and professional. 

—Avoid stating the obvious. No need to say, that the server was thinking of what to recommend. The fact that she fluttered her lashes and pushed a pen against her chin is a general sign of thought. Also, did you notice the bonus of pointing out her long lashes if you were dying to give one extra description? That’s fine, just do it strategically.  

—Avoid swerving and get right to the point. State what she did instead of putting in fillers of ‘as she.’ Be direct. Your readers will thank you. We, as writers are all guilty of violating what we preach, but the violation should be modest. No one is perfect. 

 2: SAY IT BETTER

FullSizeRender.jpg

Did you know that it is common for writers to spend countless minutes on a sentence? Isn’t that insane? To others, yes, to us, no! Writers who care about their craft truly want to make an impact on the way something is expressed. Sure, we can be trite with our expression, but writing is artistic, and the sooner you embrace that we paint pictures with words and not with brushes, you’ll change your perspective. 

Think of it this way. You have a painter trying to show you that a man is heartbroken. His woman left him. He doesn’t choose to spell it out by putting the woman in the painting, but instead, he’ll put puzzle pieces in the painting for you to connect the dots. He’ll put him in a dark room, slouch his posture, have empty shot glasses, rub his chest, frown, clutch a feminine item that once belonged to his ex-lover, etc... you’ll be convinced that it’s heartbreak, not job loss. 

But when we write, we need to paint a scene. Some things are great when it’s basic, but some things need to be elevated. Impactful moments call for impactful writing.  

Example: 

After Heidi’s boss request that she stay late, she returns to her office, slams the door, and plops in the chair.  

Boom. Why does this work? It’s not major to the plot. It’s a moment. We get the point. You gather that she’s frustrated by the door slamming and chair plopping. The reader can figure out that Heidi’s pissed. No one will care about this scene after a few paragraphs unless it’s paramount. 

But when does saying it better count?

Example: 

A devastated man has lost his woman. PIVOTAL!

You won’t care too much if I say it like this: 

Coming home from work, he walked through the apartment, looking into each room, only to find that the unexpected had occurred. Chantel took everything from the apartment. Wiped it clean of anything that would remind Jasper of her. He decided to call his friends for comfort.  

So many missed opportunities here!

Just something to consider . . . 

Feeling like two anchors were tied to his ankles, Jasper’s feet barely crossed the threshold of his apartment. After he hung up his coat, he twisted from side to side to release the tension in his torso, as he anticipated Chantal’s floral scent. Though an embrace from her would be the massage he needed to rejuvenate him from a day’s work, Jasper immediately sensed that something was off. By now, the rhythm of Chantal’s clacking shoes would’ve greeted him. The aroma carrying her spices from a pot simmering in the distance should’ve been hitting his nose like a heavyweight boxer in the ring. The silence spoke volumes when usually her choice of music did. Paralyzed by the silence and neutral-smelling air, his suspension raised with his brow. 

Jasper’s instinct told him that something was off. Chantal would’ve called to tell him that dinner would be late. Besides, where was the note? The note that would put all his suspicions to rest. Jasper eased down the dark hallway, with one slow foot hitting the wooden floor at a time. Anticipation made him want to run to each door, but dread kept him creeping. Starting with the first door to his left, he placed one large hand against the wood and swung it open, slowly, hoping to see Chantal in a peaceful slumber. Yes! Maybe she’d fallen asleep. Instead, his eyes scanned a dark room housing a made-up bed with her sewing machine missing from the corner wall. A tight knot bubbled in Jasper’s  throat. Did she take it for a repair? Possibly. A ray of hope shot through his system like a puck during a game of high-striker. Their bedroom at the end of the hallway would negate his doubts. Of course Chantal’s belongings would be there. The sewing machine had probably been acting up. Besides, Jasper hadn’t seen Chantal sew in weeks, and he probably fell asleep or tuned her out when she tried to explain that. Relaxing by steadying his rapid breathing, Jasper removed his hand from the door and carried on down the hall. Taking easy strides toward the closed door, Jasper’s heart hit his chest so hard, he thought it’d bruise. It was the moment of truth, and all fears would be put to rest or confirmed. Stretching out a shaky hand, Jasper palmed the door and pushed it gently until it couldn’t swing back anymore. Alarmed, Jasper felt his legs wobble beneath him, becoming as sturdy as spaghetti noodles. His mouth went dry, as all the moisture his body had to spare migrated to his eyes. Hazy eyed, he managed to see a note propped against the base of her lamp. 

********************* 

So, you see that I’m gonna end it here. As a writer, I can go on and on. But, do you see my point? I really hope this helps if you struggle with balancing the give and take of details.  

1: RECOGNIZE YOUR FLAWS

FullSizeRender.jpg

Whether it’s along the way or after you publish a book, don’t be afraid but empowered, to call yourself out on your weaknesses. I’ve published an ebook only to update it repeatedly while it’s on the market. Stroked Eagle was under a deadline and that harmed me. I’d decided to do the pre-order thing. Not a good idea! Life happens, but yet I still had to have something for the readers by said date! That’s a horrible feeling to be under the gun like that. Those little mistakes that are easy to overlook were plenty more than what’s acceptable to be. Basically, what I’m trying to say here, is don’t be afraid to offer your best, your perfection, for your readers. This was an example of me checking myself and not letting anything slide.

Back to weaknesses. So, every writer has a weakness. Know it and do something about it. Don’t keep carrying on the same mistake book after book. Readers who follow you will appreciate your progression as an artist. Imagine your favorite singer releasing the same quality album over and over, performing the same way over and over. So what can you do?

If you can’t identify your own area of struggle, look around for insight. Could it be your review(s) from constructive criticism? Could you ask someone to point it out? Does your editor tend to correct you more than a few times regarding the same issue to the point where you see a pattern? Be strong and honest with yourself. It can only make it only yourself, but your book better. Ultimately, you can google for answers to your sore spots, YouTube it, or simply, ask another writer. However, we all know, bookworms make the best writers. So, keep reading! 

 

Happy writing, guys! ✌🏽 

Top 10 Ways to Remain Youthful

No. I didn’t say ‘young,’ because we cannot stay young forever. However, remaining youthful is not age-related and can be achieved at any time. Let’s put genetics to the side, since there ain’t a thing you can do to change it, but you can fight it. You don’t always have to let what is bound to happen take place.  

Again, my top tens are never researched based unless noted, but experience and common sense based. I guess you can say it’ll be my primary research. Anyway, I hope you find this list helpful, because this is coming from a girl who had next to no discipline but woke up with the realization in her thirties that this decade does not play. These things have helped me so I think at least one thing will help you. 

Let’s get started.

10: MAKE ROUTINE YOUR FRIEND 

Listen. Listen with both ears. If you wanna be successful in real life, you need routine. Ain’t no success with potluck schedules. Whatever you do, make sure you do it every day if possible. Lack of routine equals flat or delayed results. Lack of routine equates to a perfunctory commitment. I’m a 100 percent kind of person or nothing at all. Yes, I’m an extremist, and even I cannot get away with not having a routine. Make time to commit to anything from this list or off, that works for you. Make it possible. So, I feel good with you not deciding to implement anything on my list, if you simply decide to take this bullet. Establish a routine! Then, it’ll be second-nature like brushing your teeth, and then before you know it, you’ll see results.  9: USE SUNSCREEN

Listen. Listen with both ears. If you wanna be successful in real life, you need routine. Ain’t no success with potluck schedules. Whatever you do, make sure you do it every day if possible. Lack of routine equals flat or delayed results. Lack of routine equates to a perfunctory commitment. I’m a 100 percent kind of person or nothing at all. Yes, I’m an extremist, and even I cannot get away with not having a routine. Make time to commit to anything from this list or off, that works for you. Make it possible. So, I feel good with you not deciding to implement anything on my list, if you simply decide to take this bullet. Establish a routine! Then, it’ll be second-nature like brushing your teeth, and then before you know it, you’ll see results.

9: USE SUNSCREEN

FullSizeRender.jpg

Man, really, this shouldn’t even be on the list! Who’s not using sunscreen religiously in 2019? I’m still paying the price and playing the reversal game from not using it in my twenties. Don’t go crying about your skin asking where your beauty went next decade if you’re not using sunscreen today. I don’t wanna hear it. Doctors were wrong about eggs being the deadliest food in the 90s, but they aren’t wrong about sunscreen. And black people, I don’t wanna hear about our skin not needing it because of our melanin. That’s about as foolish as the black myth that we shouldn’t wash our hair frequently. Stop. Just don’t. As beautiful as melanin is, it alone cannot fight the harmful UV rays of the sun. Don’t forget that skin cancer is another issue. A lot of people in my family age gracefully but are highly susceptible to skin discoloration because clearly, they don’t or didn’t use sunscreen. A lot of women may think that makeup with SPF is enough. No. It’s not enough, nor can you add makeup SPF plus your sunscreen SPF to equal a total of ideal protection. Just doesn’t work that way. Is it great that your makeup has it? Perhaps. But remember, you can’t wear a dab and think the buck stops there. You’d look like a clown bout time you slather on a decent amount. Just buy the sunscreen and be done with it. And if you feel good this far about not using it, take your gambling tail to the casino and do it there, not on your skin. I promise you a decade or less later, you’ll see that the house won. 

8: DON’T BE SUCH A DUD

FullSizeRender.jpg

I’m not even joking with you here, and I’m a jokester. Why aren’t you letting loose more? And please don’t assume people with resting bitch faces are not jovial or fun. This is not about facial expressions. I’m talking about genuinely not enjoying life at least for 20 minutes a day, and I’m selling you short here. We can’t get an hour of solid fun in a day when this is your life? Ladies, listen. We take aging and beauty seriously. Men can get wrinkles and we just eat it up. Let us get one and we go bat crazy. I don’t forget how much we women tend to put the world on our shoulders, and sometimes men will let you do it! It doesn’t matter if it’s a coworker, spouse, family member, or significant other. Men know we’re strong and can handle a lot. Children see the cape on your shoulders as well. It’s up to you to snatch at least an hour of fun your way a day! It may be time to start telling people ‘no’ so that you can finally tell yourself ‘yes.’ If you’re not laughing or having a good time, you’ll get old inside and we’ll see it. If an hour of Netflix is all you can get with your children on your shoulder and your man in your space—take it! Is that fun? Then you’ve won. But if you close your eyes at night day after day and you can’t say that something made you laugh  or that you’ve had fun, I will be praying for you. No one else is gonna ensure this step for you but you. Seriously, why aren’t you laughing more? (Psst. Stand-up comedy is available everywhere! Why do you think God invented comedians?)

7: TAKE CARE OF YOUR TEETH

FullSizeRender.jpg

Okay. Forget dental insurance. If you have dental insurance and steady income, your butt better be in your dentist chair every six months. For real. Many people get comfortable until their teeth hurt or turn yellow. If I could’ve done something aside from a lack of sunscreen in my twenties, it would’ve been more trips to the dentists, because of why? 👆🏽 That’s right. Refer to number 10. Routine. Let the dentist tell you that your teeth are okay. Don’t assume they are because of an absence of pain. Ever have your dentist come in with the clipboard and tell you that you have a cavity when you’ve felt nothing? That’s good! Well, not having the cavity but just that it was caught in time. Pain is bad. Okay, why are teeth even on the list? Take a guess. If you didn’t, let’s not hope you’re guilty. Number one, teeth are like the white in our eyes. The less white they are, the older they make us. White teeth are associated with youthfulness, yellow are not. Makes sense. Listen. I’m not giving up on my coffee and tea, but for sure, when my teeth get yellow, it’s the coffee. I brush more than once a day, but I fail every single time to rinse my mouth out with water or to water-bristle clean after my caffeine fix. Hence, the off-white teeth. Sometimes my boyfriend looks at me and tells me my teeth are yellow. Fool, I know this! Well. What’s a girl to do? Panic not! Make a hydrogen peroxide and baking soda paste and place them over your teeth for about ten minutes a day until you see results. One time I did this and his sister saw me and asked how I kept my teeth so white. I used to get teeth compliments a lot back in high school because I didn’t drink caffeine. But, hey, I love my coffee and she ain’t going nowhere, so we gon work this out.   I’ve never done professional whiting. I even bought the kit and showed it to my dentist and ended up letting it expire. So trifling I am. Guess it’s because I know I can fix it any moment.

6:  EAT NUTS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE 

FullSizeRender.jpg

Nuts have so many benefits that will make you feel youthful, because they fight the things that can deprive you of feeling healthy. If you don’t feel healthy, you won’t feel young. Periot! Yes, periyot! Hey, I’m an author and can make up my own words. Anyway, I’ve read over time how a daily serving of nuts can help with many issues. They can cut the risk of diabetes and cancer and help with age-related weight gain. Just don’t eat too many in a day. I can take or leave nuts, especially if it’s not on a dessert or salad, but we gotta do better when we don’t feel like it once we hit adulthood. If you’re no longer in your twenties, then you know it’s a second job to take intentional measures to preserve your health and beauty. We just don’t recover as easily as we did in our twenties. What are you waiting for? Go buy a bulk of nuts! How you decide to incorporate them is up to you. 

5: REDUCE OR ELIMINATE PROCESSED FOODS

FullSizeRender.jpg

Yeah. You knew it was coming, didn’t you? Where do I start? If you’re in America, you know how easy it is to get fast food. If you go to the grocery store, you know how many carts are loaded with processed foods. It’s our way of life, unfortunately. Even if you eat right, chances are, your friends don’t, along with family members. Hell, you just probably started eating right. Our society functions off the bottom line, meaning, we’re a profit-driven society. If it don’t make money, it don’t matter. If it makes tons of it at any costs, it stays. That being said, refined sugar is a drug. This is a bullet we all have to take. If we’re carrying extra weight, it’s more the environment in which we live than us. Sounds like a bag of bologna? No, not really. Look around. We are an immediate society and before in-home computer research became available, we all believed what the TV told us. Parents didn’t know better like they do now. I’m an 80s baby. It was okay to eat cereal and other boxed items. Hear me out. You may find it hard or easy to eliminate processed and fast food altogether. But at least, try to reduce it. Make sure you can look your doctor square in the eyes and tell her/him that your processed food intake doesn’t outweigh your non-processed food intake. We know too much processed food can wreak havoc on your weight. But your weight is between you and God. You can be skinny eating all the trash or overweight/obese eating healthy. Just know, that nothing means nothing if fast food and processed foods are your majority intake for fuel. This may be a sensitive topic for some, but I can say that I’ve lived on both sides of the fence per point made. What you eat shows up on your skin and affects your level of youthfulness. Don’t believe me? Do the opposite. 

4: BAKING SODA

FullSizeRender.jpg

You need this in your life. Not just for food—in fact, I don’t use it for my food but more for not consumption reasons. You need it for cleaning carpets but you need it for your teeth and skin. Skin?! Is she nuts? Not like point number six, but I’m right. I scrub my face with it at least once a week. Too much can cause discoloration, because it’s a bleaching agent. If you have unwanted dark spots, and if you don’t have vitamin C, use this. Mix it with lemon juice or hydrogen peroxide. Voila! Skin will be bright! It helps with dullness. Youthfulness! 

3: ABOVE THE NECK MATTERS

FullSizeRender.jpg

You only feel as good as you look. True or false? Look. You can be in the house wearing your shield-me-from-the-world gear. You may not have showered. You may feel funky. Regardless, I will say this: Good skin and hair will make it less problematic. If the pizza man comes and you answer the door with healthy hair and vibrant skin with on-point brows, you’re a winner. A cheat to feeling better than we do is to maintain good brows, hair, and skin, which can also make you feel better when alone. Even if you have to do a messy bun, fight against letting your hair becoming unhealthy. Aside from needing a trim, I have a natural wash-n-go wet styling that can be achieved in ten minutes or less, usually five. Shiny, healthy hair offers a sense of youthfulness. You’ll need a good or at least new pair of flat irons to make your hair look its best when straightened. Achieving shine or a curl can be tricky because of the cuticles not being able to capture the light as easy as straight(ened) hair. Gel is an option, aside from a great leave-in conditioner. And there are times when clean hair shines on its own.  Okay, so shiny hair, check. Hair also should smell good and be cleaned. Smelly hair or dirty hair is a no-no. This is not debatable. Even if your hair doesn’t smell like coconuts, it cannot smell. 🙅🏽‍♀️ Brows. Do what you need to do, but if you’re not blessed with natural, gorgeous brows, then you’re like me. I have to be highly cognizant of my brows. They always need to be filled in. Bummer, I know, but lemme tell you. I don’t walk around in my house without brows. Not zappening! I did use a Z. Brow tip: Obeying the brow rules really helps. I see extra long brows and it kills a look—fast. In my twenties, my mom used to  laugh at my “hooks.” I didn’t get it, till a coworker pointed out that I needed to not drag my face down by drawing them too far down. She had on-point makeup and brows daily so I was there for the advice. Offended? Puh-lease! Be offended when women don’t speak up when they know better. Also, I did compliment her brows first and complained of wanting hers. Anyway, I was in my late twenties when this happened. Needless to say, my mom don’t laugh at me now. Lastly, you’ll need a good mask. Your face is the place! It’s the focal part of you. Forget facial features and A-symmetrical beauty. If your skin isn’t cared for, nothing matters. Regardless of how you may judge your beautiful self, remember, skin is always in. Luckily, it’s not a matter of revealing physical skin. I mean, a healthy, clear complexion! If you are currently struggling with achieving nice skin, worry not! Breakouts happen to everyone. Hell, I’m in fight mode right now. Ughhhh. Only you know what’s best for you. Just abide by the sixty-second rule when washing your face for optimum results. For me, only using edible products work best on my face. No, I don’t have sensitive skin. Lastly, no woman should be armed without her Aztec clay. See, don’t you feel fabulous already? Say it with me: If you take care of yourself, age ain’t nuthin’ but a number. Aaliyah tried to tell y’all!

 2: GOODBYE, SUGAR

FullSizeRender.jpg

R.I.P. high-fructose corn syrup and sugar. I’m better off without it. I just regret not saying bye to sugar long time ago. I’ve lived off this junk since childhood and this crap ain’t good for no one. It’s just not. I got the damage to prove it. You know how many cavities I’ve had to pay for messing with this shit? Cuz that’s all it is. I don’t care how pretty it is. It didn’t matter how many times I brushed my teeth. My hips aren’t happy. My skin was beginning to cuss me out. It’s banned from my house. No one has raw sugar and definitely not refined up in here. We don’t even cook with it. When I baked occasionally in 2018, I didn’t use it. Nahp. 🙅🏽‍♀️ This stuff is trash! When I eat foods with it, it’s sparingly. I normally go for stuff with it’s own sugar. It’d be hard to escape it altogether, because it’s almost everywhere, like sauces and drinks. Luckily for me, I tend to drink only water. Still, this is America, and sugar is basically everywhere. Yup, I gave up my processed and sugary snacks by about 95 percent. Honestly, my body just can’t take it anymore. Even if my body never reflected that, knowing that I don’t eat like I used to is good enough for me. That’s the way it has to be. Even legit, solid foods turn to sugar if it’s a refined carb. Look at how much you’ll take in even unintentionally! It ages you. I didn’t see it, but I felt it. My skin was dull but still fairly clear. Only you can put your own foot down, but once you do, you won’t wanna pick it up anymore.

1: EAT RIGHT AND EXERCISE

FullSizeRender.jpg

You just can’t skip this step. You may all the rest, but not this one. It’s a process, but it’s mandatory. This whole list is not about looking like a supermodel, but feeling like one. No one wants to feel their age, and that’s okay. But you don’t want to hang your head in shame when you tell people your age. This post ain’t about wanting to be someone you’ll never be. It’s all about being fabulous in your skin and being the best you you’ve got. Unfortunately, it won’t happen any other way. We have to take care of ourselves. It’s a daily struggle. You only get one life, so live your passion, and take care of the body and soul that houses the person living their dream. Otherwise, everything begins to feel like a nightmare. Whenever I go to the gym, I make sure to bring my mom. She’s 69, and I’m 39. We women have to look out for one another. I can’t get healthy and leave my mom on the sidelines. That’s not an option. I refuse to let her age without a fight. If she can lift weights, then so can I. She gave birth to me, but I want to help give her life. So, I know I said doing number 10 at the least—routine. However, if nothing else, eat more balanced and/or restrict some things from your diet, and don’t forget to move that body. 

 

Please drop some helpful tips to add on to this. I can learn from your tips as well! 

The Day I Made My First Book Trailer

IMG_8603.JPG

Howdy!

Okay. So I finally did it. This may not be new to some authors like it was for me, but to budding authors or veterans who aren’t tech savvy, this may come in handy.  

Was it that hard? Mmm, not so much, just a bit tedious. So let’s get started on my steps.

IMG_6998.JPG

1.) I used my iMac. 

If you follow me on IG, you’ll see that of my three magical machines, this is my top dog, baby. If you’re familiar with Apple, they have countless apps, free or otherwise. I used free a app for creating trailers and videos. 

2.) I used stock photos for free. 

I like pixabay and pexels. Notice how everything so far is free. Why? Because you’ll want your money to go to two places: those of which you have zero competence in and marketing. For example, I could but I won’t create my own book cover.

3.) I used royalty-free music. 

Again, didn’t have to pay. I’ll have to find the names of the video app and music site. I added it to the bar under my photos in the movie program.  

4.) I incorporated the photos and phone app

I took the stock photos and used my phone app, Phonto, on my Apple phone, to create and manipulate the message to fit the photo, which was obviously, all relevant to my book. Example: gambling takes place in my book, very lightly, but the whole book is high stakes, so I used a photo to represent the two and linked the written caption to relate to my characters’ lives.

5.) I arranged the best way that made sense. 

FullSizeRender.jpg

It’s tricky to try to tell the story or premise of your book in such a short span that makes sense to your readers without shouldn’t go over one minute. If you can do 30 secs, that’s very good! People have short attention spans. But you want the trailer to motivate the reader to buy.  

6.) Not one thing will create a sale. 

It’s not just marketing, it’s building relationships with people or popping in places that create sales. So don’t think a trailer or teaser alone will do this. Someone may study your teaser, trailer, reviews, and your personality before making a purchase. It really runs that deep for some people. Some are good with just your cover alone and blurb, or one teaser. I think reviews, of course, help. Don’t think many authors will argue with me here. Other reviews help to put new customers’ souls at ease when people are taking a chance on you. 

7.) What’s next?  

How many trailers should you make?  

That’s a personal decision, but I would say from my personal stance, I would do it once here and there. Maybe three a year. I feel too many would lose an effect versus teasers. Also, I wouldn’t argue with the idea of paying someone to do a professional trailer for me. I mean, if it’s done right in the first place, do you really need to do anymore for that same project? Kind of like movies. You know from one good trailer if something is right for you or not. But I will make a book trailer for book two soon.

On the other hand... 

FullSizeRender.jpg

Teasers to me are a marketing strategy that never get old and take no time away from people, since they’re only catching a glance or an admirable longing stare. Think about it! Beautiful teasers are captivating and draw you into looking for more than seconds. You don’t even mind the time it takes to study and appreciate them. But if they don’t captivate you, you don’t spend more than two seconds to find out what the caption even says. We just don’t. 

I feel the that for the readers who already have that book, know the genre isn't their preference, or know the book isn’t their type, won’t watch the second trailer for that same book anyway. You can only hope that subsequent trailers for that same book will draw new eyes when the first post didn’t. So feel it out, because what works for one person won’t work for all. 

But on the upside... 

FullSizeRender.jpg

If all this savvy talk and lack of money to hire someone is getting you down, I did find that collage teasers are that beautiful medium between a teaser and a trailer. They offer a still frame like a teaser but with multiple images that tell a story like trailers instead of the one-dimensional glimpse like a teaser, hence the term, teaser, but no one will have to feel obligated to sit the whole thing through like a trailer. So there’s that! 

If you have any questions, I’m always here!  

 

FullSizeRender.jpg

Top 10 Ways to Finish Writing a Book

Am I a Stephen King expert? No. But do I have a certain amount of expertise on the subject as a published author? Yuh damn right. So, take my advice or not, let’s get into it. 

How can you stop saying “I’m writing a book,” for years, versus saying, “I wrote a book.”?

You don’t know? I do.  

10: WRITE WITHIN YOUR WHEELHOUSE

FullSizeRender.jpg

I mean it! You wanna write a western romance but you’ve never watched one and you hate them? Okay, it’s totally up to you, but if this is your debut book, you’re a brave little soul. I’d nix the western aspect unless I conducted tons of research first before bridging the two. You are free to do and start things the way you wanna, but I always say, be smart, especially when it comes to your passion. You wanna make the best impact possible. You wanna promote with the upmost confidence. There’s a certain ease that comes with writing what you know and running with that. Please don’t think I’m promoting narrow-mindedness or fear. We are creatives and you should always steer your own wheel, but just don’t let readers smell a wreck. 

FullSizeRender.jpg

The last thing you’d want is for your beautiful tone and story to get lost in the sea of murkiness. I mean, look at Debbie right here trying not to fall to her death all unskilled-like. I don’t know about you, but if this is what uncharted territory looks like, then give me the path most traveled. Okay, I may sound like a scaredy-cat, but my readers appreciate the art I’ve created, because I wrote what was coursing through my veins. If you’re committed to the concept of walking on uncharted territories, then go. Just put on your best walking pair and get going. But don’t cry when you get bunions.

9: HAVE A VISION

FullSizeRender.jpg

You see this goof troop up here? 👆🏽

Yeah, him. That should be you. You should be happy that you can write knowing that your brain has envisioned scenes ahead of time, that you can see where this thing is going, that your characters are mapping the way. Where is your roadmap? A jot here, a jot there, everywhere, jot-jot. Look into this man’s computer screen. Now, I don’t know what the hell that is, but it looks like conceptualization. If you don’t have a concept as to what will drive this book, who will steer it and where will it crash (climax, plot twist?) baby you gon crash. And this crash ain’t the good one. See, every book has a crashing moment, but it’s a good one. But without any vision, yours will be a bad one. Find out the ‘why’ behind the book before you get going. Otherwise, it’ll become a “Why read this?”

8: HAVE NO EXCUSES  

Now I don’t know who put this little girl in front of this lion like that, but they set this girl up. But, guess what? This needs to be you. Hug a lion. No, don’t do it for real, but really, hug a lion. Yes, your head may get bitten off, but that’s just a dang excuse. Why didn’t you write today? Okay, so you think that’s gonna fly with me when this little child put her life in danger to hug a lion? She can now say she’s hugged a lion and has lived to tell the story. If she’d let any excuse fly, she couldn’t say that, now could she? Hmmm? Hug a lion.  7: KILL WRITER’S BLOCK

Now I don’t know who put this little girl in front of this lion like that, but they set this girl up. But, guess what? This needs to be you. Hug a lion. No, don’t do it for real, but really, hug a lion. Yes, your head may get bitten off, but that’s just a dang excuse. Why didn’t you write today? Okay, so you think that’s gonna fly with me when this little child put her life in danger to hug a lion? She can now say she’s hugged a lion and has lived to tell the story. If she’d let any excuse fly, she couldn’t say that, now could she? Hmmm? Hug a lion.

7: KILL WRITER’S BLOCK

FullSizeRender.jpg

Look at this nice lady having the nerve to smile like that while you can’t produce. Have I been there before? Yup. Here’s what I think. Writer’s block is really the author waiting for the right answer of what to write next and to come and hit them on the head. This is the part where the characters freeze up and them bastards go silent on us. Ohhhh! So you had all that yickedy-yack the first time, but now you’ve nothing to say? Ain’t this rich?! So, what happens? We sit for weeks while the characters are PMSing and we get stuck with the blood. Mudda chuckas!!! Listen, this is when you sit down and write one sentence and even if you keep scrapping it, re-write until that one sentence sticks. Then go from there. One may say, you can’t force it. I’ve preached that. But, listen. You lose precious time that you’ll never get back. Sit down in a quiet space. Write! It’s actually your head coming between your heart and hands. I promise you. The words are there. Writer’s block is purely mental, a block in thinking, and the last time I checked, our thinking took place in the head. Luckily, you still have a heart which houses the passion. Now write. 

6: NOURISH THYSELF

FullSizeRender.jpg

Wait a minute. Wait a hot-ham minute! I didn’t say like this. Kids, out! Where the parents at, again?!! I’ll venture to guess these are siblings thus giving them the benefit of the doubt, cuz that kid ain’t coming around my future daughter with eyes like that. Boys... sigh. I digress! Listen. You see these kids are happy? Hell! Everybody posted been happy except for shaky Debbie up there on the makeshift bridge and possibly you! These kids are making time for themselves. Do you? Do you write hungry, tired, and unsexed? Okay, you don’t need the sex, or do you? Hey, it could only help, but coaches tell athletes no sex. If you write romance, the fork only splits two ways here. Either you can go have sex for research purposes and write about the moves and feelings in the book, or you can refrain and let the characters play out your fantasy, get you hot, then the readers will, too, and then go do something about it. Listen. Sex or no sex, that ain’t my business, but you need food and sleep. Oh! And coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. Your characters don’t wanna be duped cuz you ain’t got your act together. Wrong them, and the readers will know. 🤷🏽‍♀️Dass all I’m sayin’.

5: HAVE MULTIPLE TOOLS

FullSizeRender.jpg

Fools. Not like this. Dang. Y’all so dirty. I meant writing tools that follow you wherever you go. I write on my phone using the Word App, and I use my laptop that goes in my fashionable backpack. I leave my other laptop that’s too big to carry in my portable bag and my desktop at home. Take a trusty laptop and your phone for just-in-case moments. Ever have a poppin’ scene in your head but just don’t have anywhere to put it? Not me, cuz I got my tools. Ever been somewhere where you need to be invisible or you’re treated that way? Whip out your phone or your non-needing internet laptop and write! No excuses! You should be able to write in a pool on your phone with your arms resting against the concrete-rimmed wall. But just don’t drown the characters. Please! 

4: START HUNTING AND GATHERING  

FullSizeRender.jpg

No. I’m not talking about food, because according to point number six, you should’ve eaten by now. I’m talking about hunting and gathering your editors, book designers, book reviewers, and tribe. You’ll just need to put some clothes on first when you do. Listen, do it about right here, when you now have direction of the book, something to work with material-wise, and confidence that you’ll finish the book. Now that you’ve built a fictional world, you’ll need to start building one that you can touch. Enter, a new kind of world. That’s right. You done got all comfy with thinking our lives are just typing sprees, huh? Nope! A-haaaaaa. Fooled juh. Start outsourcing your needs. Have a list on standby. What can you hire others to do to make your dream a reality? You’ll need a team. I have one. I have a team of people whom I pay, and a team of readers, or ARC reviewers. These people will review your books for free to start placing them in an unbiased lane in which your book will take off in. They are readers who will give you an idea of how other readers may receive your work. The giggles stop here. Find an editor and proofreader who’ll glam up your work. No, I didn’t say will write for you or steal your voice. I’m talking about people whom you trust and can work effortlessly with. Mutual respect, trust, and understanding. If you don’t know who you can call and depend on when it’s time to outsource and recruit, you’d better get on that. Don’t wait until the book is completely written. Some people need to be booked. I’m guilty of that with reviews, but I am willing to wait in line. However, you wanna be mindful that everyone has a life beyond you, even bookworms and those who need your money.  It’s hard, but try to plan accordingly. You’re self-published and still a professional. 

3: GET YOUR SUBSCRIPTIONS

FullSizeRender.jpg

Nope. Nah. Sorry. Netflix, Hulu, and the like won’t cut it. I’m talking about places that will embellish the dream or foster it. Maybe one to Adobe for PDF, Books and Main Bites for romance authors, BookBulb, Shutterstock—WEBSITES. Look. Whether it’s free or not, you’ll need to know who’ll be taking out your money per month/year and have your ends right. One hiccup could through you off or delay progress. Commit to who you can afford and make it work. You’ll be pumped to have platforms to show off your work and pics to tell the story, that you’ll continue to write. When people are expecting something, you’ll have a better chance of making it happen. I promise! You’ll be amped up by seeing your world with a visual and not just with words. You’ll salivate at the thought of someone telling you that they’re reading your book. You’ll get beside yourself picturing someone with a pint of rocky road at beside turning your pages. If you’re not subscribing, you’re gonna be subjected to social media only. If they pull the plug on that, there goes your connection. 

2: BUILD YOUR SUBSCRIBERS 

FullSizeRender.jpg

Well, looky here. This woman should be working on her schoolwork, but she’s signing up to be a part of your tribe! She wants to see what you have to say. Just don’t spam her or him! Look, if social media pulls the plug, you’ll need to know how to get in touch with your readers. If they’re fans, they’ll wanna formally hear from you. Choose your mail service and set it up. I struggle with the template I want to use for my newsletter, but please, don’t let anything come between you and building your tribe of readers. When you do signings, and you will, hand someone a freebie, get a face-to-face purchase, always snag an email. Ask them to sign up on your website. Take them there or enter it for them. I like doing it digitally. I don’t have to worry about deciphering handwriting and it’s instant. Again, rely on social media for interaction, not the connection. Yes, you connect with them there, but you cannot lose your base because they leave social media or social media pulls the plug. You should have a way to connect to readers via email. They’ll be able to see what’s new in your life via the newsletter as a whole and all at once. You’ll stay in their minds shall they choose to leave social media, temporarily or permanently.

1:  GET THE WORD OUT!

FullSizeRender.jpg

Loooook. I hate to be morbid. I really do. But baby, it’s time to market that book. Even if it’s incomplete or complete, you gotta get the word out. Everyone should know you’re writing a book, and they should know it’s out! Why do you think there’s a skello sitting on top of those books? Hanh? Cuz the author stopped caring or never did. The book died, lost traction! Well, pull it back on the road, but don’t let it happen! Don’t just sell your books, but sell yourself. Put yourself out there. Also, determine where you want to sell the books. Spread your wings beyond Amazon while including them. Just don’t let the time run out like that hourglass beside the book. Look! There ain’t even no sand in that glass! Sand—snatched! Time ain’t coming back, hence the skull. But it never has to be like that for us, unless you ignore your own book. When you preplan all these steps, I assure you, the book will get written. You’ve paved the way for it like a parent does for college when their child is still in pampers. You should be so meticulous in planning, that if your book talked back like a child and said, “Mommy (or daddy), I’m not going into production,” you’ll look at it like, “Da funk you mean you ain’t going into production?! Do you know how long we’ve been planning for this moment?” If you can’t say this, then my friend, you will be hustling backwards, and no pimp has ever lined his hos on the corner without having the block picked out first. 

Top 10 Mood Lifters

FullSizeRender.jpg

Let’s face it. You can be living what you think is your best life, but every now and then the darkness creeps in and pisses all over your bliss like rain on a wedding day. (Alanis Morissette, anyone?) For some, it happens more frequently, and it can also take more of a toll on some than for others. Now. While I took a few graduate classes in community counseling, let’s get things straight: This is just a list of ten ideas that can help and serves as a plate of advice. Nothing more, nada less! 

10: SOLITUDE

You may live with a roommate or family. You may be married. You may have kids. Or, you may live alone. In that case, you probably already have too much alone time, so this pointer may not be the best medicine for you. However, it this bullet applies, then listen up. Solitude is not scary, it’s gorgeous. Here is a time that you don’t have to front like everything is okay. In a state of solitude, we can talk to ourselves, pray, or sit in silence and watch our surroundings. Personally, I love sitting in my car alone while mumbling to God my worries or concerns. Or, I may say a legit prayer to the good Lord. Then sometimes, I appreciate sitting in a parking lot as I bask in pity of what made me down in the first place, then I whip out my phone and go into solution mode. Corny, but I find the internet has a lot of answers and solutions. Research keeps us armed with knowledge and can lend to problem-solving. What I’m trying to say is, sometimes, we don’t need to tell everyone everything. Some things are best between you and God, you and yourself, or you and one other person. Why? Because the world can’t save us, so we need to lean into our own strength sometimes, and let’s be real: Other people have their own problems. Unless you’re at a breaking point, perhaps you should work it out on your own as long as possible. You are smart, resourceful, and a warrior. You got this. You are forced to listen to and face your emotions. Scary at first, but after a while, it becomes second nature and beautiful to be honest to and with yourself. 

9: KEEP LEARNING

What does learning have to do with being a mood lifter? A lot, actually. Try learning one more thing today than you knew yesterday.  You never know when this new birth of knowledge turns into a hobby. Being enlightened can also translate into making more money or helping others for free. It can give us purpose for a new direction in life. Learning something new every day can keep you on your toes, and that’s got to count for something. A year from now, you’ll be able to look back and see growth in your own character. So, Google or read, but please. Learn. 

8: DO NOTHING  

That’s right. Sitting on my ass is a healer. I’m a doer and a Gemini. Put that together and you get relentless energy and a brain that doesn’t sleep. Oh yeah, I’m a writer so, there goes that. When I feel overwhelmed, I back off everything. You know what? I’d rather see myself as a temporary slacker who has her mentality in check, than to keep achieving but rotting in self-care. So, go ahead and bask in the ambiance of slow energy. It’s like being asleep but still being awake. Your energy will recharge like a phone on a charge or that Roomba vacuum that needs to touch down at base before going again. You don’t hate on technology recharging, so don’t when you need to.

7: RUN A SIMPLE ERRAND

Go find a reason to make a grocery run. Even if you don’t want to or can’t afford to shop, take your lowest budget that you can afford, go to a store like World Market, Homegoods, T.J. Maxx etc... and spend a simple five to fifteen dollars on something simple. Browse the store briefly to take in a new scenery and to make the most out of something out of your control and responsibility before you snatch, purchase, and go. Enjoy being somewhere of which you’re not in charge. You’ll feel better bringing something small home that’s easy on the wallet while treating yourself with something minor.

6: SOCIALIZE/NETWORK

I’m a writer, full time that is, so it’s beyond easy to sit at home in isolation. It’s easy for me to blur the lines of meeting my characters’ needs versus my own. Don’t. Your life is real and needs true interction. Too much solitude is not healthy. Those who didn’t need solitude on point ten surely need this point. Listen. People can grate our last nerve but can also be the best medicine. Isn’t it fun to laugh with a stranger? Isn’t it fun to meet people at a place at which you have the same interest? Come onnnnn. You get to learn a little history about a person whose name you didn’t know minutes beforehand. Besides, isn’t it the greatest when you realize you have something in common with that person? The more people you know, the better. Let’s face it. You never know who you’re gonna meet and what they can do for you. Hopefully, you’re able to put a smile on a stranger’s face and do something for them down the line as well. How dope is it to be a mood lifter for someone else? 

5: MUSIC

I don’t know about you, but my car is my oasis. It’s my place to be myself while the music mentally takes me away and the wind blows against my face. It helps that I’m in love with my car, but it also helps that the work of one creative can move my thoughts along. I find myself thinking of plots and getting into the emotions of my characters. Then, I wanna go home and write vigorously. Thank you, YOUTUBE and all artists who give me something to listen to on my solitude car rides. 

4: BE A BIRD OF THE SAME FEATHER

Sometimes, it’s good to find your flock and spend time with them. A flock is not just a set of friends. A flock can be a group of people who share the same interests. I love to be with bookworms and writers. We don’t have to explain ourselves, because we get it! How nice is it to be with people who can gab about the same things that bring you happiness without having to deal with adversity? I’m telling you. Get out there in your community and find your flock. Say, ‘yes’ to the feathers!

3: HAVE A RECKLESS MOMENT

Okay, we’re not talking about recklessness that can have lasting effects. I’m talking about a day of throwing your cares of consequences away. Skip the gym, eat through carbs, have too much wine, drive long away from home and come back when the sun goes down, binge-watch Netflix/Hulu/cable, go to the movies and order a bucket of popcorn, go out with friends to a restaurant and order dessert, you get the picture. Pick the deviation that you can handle and recover from with ease. When you wake up, you’ll feel a lot better! You can’t keep your hair pinned in a bun seven days a week, can you? Your neck would get a kink. Well, since this isn’t literal, your brain forms a kink and it’s called crankiness. Imagine living a cranky life. Nah, that’s a hard pass.

2: DO WHAT YOU LOVE  

Indulge in your favorite hobby or passion. It’s all about you, baby, and that’s how it’s got to be. This is your life. If you don’t care enough about yourself to take some me-time and to draw boundaries with others to respect your natural high, then it’s your fault. And if you don’t follow through with this step, then you’ll never live your best life—guarantee it. The moment you take yourself out of your own element, then you’ve already lost yourself. Sorry. No sugarcoating. 

1: MAKE TIME FOR OTHERS

Loved ones or otherwise, you need a circle of supportive greatness—period. One person can be your everything, so be sure to nurture your clan. This is a struggle for me, because I have to make sure no one I care about feels left behind. According to my boyfriend, I need to step it up, but you know what? While I do my best not not abuse their generosity, my clan knows I’m doing my best but my self-care comes first—that’d be physical and mental health and my books. For me, my passion means nothing without having love around me. However, above all, taking time to pray and to stay in touch with God is number one salvation. My brain becomes overwhelmed and prayer has been the only thing that sets any anxiety back to a flatline. Shooting the breeze on the phone with friends is like a strong hug that blankets my soul. Thank you, friends. Spending time with my boyfriend makes me feel loved. And, family, from mom, brother, boyfriend to extended, keeps me grounded into an untouchable bliss that I must protect at all times. They are the reason I breathe. If I lose base with them, book sales and writing wouldn’t mean anything. But if they’re good, I’m good. 

 

Top 10 Hip-Hop Songs

Thank you, New York, for birthing the best rappers! And that’s my vote! 

FullSizeRender.jpg

When I’m in the car, I like to hear these songs the most on repeat from various hip-hop artists. Listen, maybe they’re all from NY, maybe not, but don’t challenge me here when I say, NYC rappers got that untouchable swag. Period! 🙅🏽‍♀️Case closed.  

If you’re in my area, there is a big, fat chance that you’ll look over and see me in my pony with a volume of lyrics that can be heard with upmost clarity with the windows cracked or all the way down. Yeah, I’m her. The annoying car neighbor at the traffic light. 

So, who made my list of frequently repeated in my car? Well, without no particular order, let’s get started!

10: Digable Planets—Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)

FullSizeRender.jpg

Why? Do you not remember them or this song? While not natives of NYC, or at least not all three, I have to say I hated this song as a kid. I didn’t get it. It was too underground for me. However, things change when you’re an adult and there’s an appreciation to that. Things you hated as a child but love as an adult become new to you again. I can’t explain beyond the fact that the bass line from the get and the horns that join in and reappear during the chorus is the catch of the song. Shout out to the first verse! 

9: Nas—You Owe Me

FullSizeRender.jpg

Nas and Genuwine did good here. It caught me right from the bat in college. I like the congo-sounding drum and Morris Day-ish vibe I’m catching. And if you don’t know Morris Day and his music, shame on you!

My favorite part?  🎵I put the shackles on your feet•I think you owe me some🎵 

8: Fox Brown—Hot Spot

FullSizeRender.jpg

The beginning catches you and then the beat keeps ya. It’s simple beats with hot lyrics. It’s a fun song. Besides, who can forget a video with memorable highlights? You got women wearing dominatrix-esque outfits topped off with white tennis shoes dancing lethargically  while serving up raw attitudes as they emanate a silent girl power vibe. Come on! We even got Foxy sitting in an ice throne-like chair that would even make Daenerys T. jealous. Is this not the hot spot? Who wouldn’t wanna party here? 

7: L.L. Cool J—Doin’ it Well

FullSizeRender.jpg

 🎵I’ma call you Big Daddy and scream your name, matter fact I can’t wait for your candy rain🎵 Now, I may not have it on repeat as the other songs, but the beginning is dope, especially before, Go Brooklyn, Go Brooklyn, Go Brooklyn! Come on. L.L. Cool J made it uncomfortable to play this song around your parents. Don’t lie! I still feel naughty hearing that lady moan on her parts. This song was so naughty as hell, and I loved it! The video was dope, too! Unfortunately, it temporarily cost him his marriage to Simone, but ain’t it fun rapping with them tho?

6: Biggie Smalls—I’m F****** You/Sky is the Limit 

FullSizeRender.jpg

I hated Juicy. I still do. But I do love these two mellow songs. I had to name both because honestly, I couldn’t choose, and since he had a huge impact on the HH community, I could give him that. He can have two! Let’s start with IFYT ft... that other artist. I ain’t gonna lie, can’t take no one’s contribution away. He did put a little sumthin sumthin extra on that song, and I don’t care for his vocals, but it fit the song in that particular era. I love the musical arrangement on that song more than the lyrics. However, I will say that on his other song, SITL, the lyrics are dope and of encouragement. If you’ve ever had a dream, then you should be able to relate to this song. If you’ve grown up poor, same thing. I also can’t help but reminisce over my late brother, because when Biggie flows on this song, I think we all paint our childhoods in our minds. And there’s my brother. When Biggie painted that picture when he rapped about his jeans and the alligator... I’ll drop the mic for him right there.  #memories I feel ya there, Bigs, I do. 

5: Kanye West—Diamonds Are Forever, Flashin Lights 

FullSizeRender.jpg

Okay, okay, okay. Let’s get something straight. Kanye West lost me when he hooked up with J. His everything was off for me, and I couldn’t support him. His music wasn’t the same, and I just couldn’t. Now, I hear he’s appearing to find his way back home again. Maybe I can start bumping his new stuff. Who knows? But in the meantime, I’m more than happy to take his old material, because let’s face it: I could put about ten of his spins up here. DAF has everything. His momentum, his energy, the beat, the arrangement—all of it! The lyrics! Verse two!!!! Genius. And the next song, FL, well, the beginning of the song eases with strings and then the beat joins in to make something magical. I can’t wave enough wands to duplicate his trick, but with lyrics like, “I'm just saying, Hey Mona Lisa, Come home you know you can't Rome without Caesar.” Man come onnnn! The whole verse two is a flow I couldn’t create in ten years even in a room of solitude. Lyrical genius! Hands. Down. 

4: Kanye West—Jesus Walks 

FullSizeRender.jpg

Okay. Every time I play this song, I can’t choose my favorite line. It’s all good. It’s all . . . good. As a believer, I can relate to wanting to talk to God but not feeling like you can because it’s been a while. Thank God I don’t go long without prayer so I rarely experience  that feeling anymore. I can relate to the whole song. It almost makes you wanna cry when he says, “To the hustlers, killers, murderers, drug dealers even the strippers (Jesus walks for them)
To the victims of welfare for we living in hell here hell yeah.” My goodness and Amen to that. The grace is real and to me, this is Kanye’s most creative and meaningful work. How a rapper can sing about Jesus without angling it toward gospel listeners while staying in his lane is almost unheard of. Without crossing over or compromising his style, he got the message across just as effectively as any gospel singer. If that’s not talent, what is?! Thank God he’s getting back to what I feel will be Old Kanye. This is the one I supported. 

3: Migos—Bad and Boujee

FullSizeRender.jpg

I couldn’t promise you guys that the whole list would be of rappers from NYC. Migos, from Lawrenceville, GA made a song that hooked me when I heard it on its first rotation on YOUTUBE: Bad and Boujee. This song. Who made this beat? I mean, they can mumble through the whole song and I wouldn’t care. Gimme that beat. I just like when he said, “I’ll take your bih right from you. I’m a dog—woof! Grrrrr.” Yeah, he said ‘bih.’ If you can get over the crude lyrics, you just might be able to appreciate the happy-haunted chords and beats that taunts the song like a clown going trick-or-treat. Did that make sense? No? Good. Now you’re forced to turn on the song and fall in love for yourself. You’re welcome, Migos.

2: Kanye West ft. Nas—We Major

FullSizeRender.jpg

Do you remember this song? It’s like the gem in the middle of the dessert that nobody picked up because it didn’t get noticed. Was it because it wasn’t released on the radio? I don’t know, but that’s the beauty of unreleased singles, ain’t it? That you get to determine the appeal to it while not have to worry about it being overplayed on the radio until it’s hated. Doesn’t matter, this song is blasting in my car while stuck in traffic and my vehicular neighbors have to endure it. 

1: Kendrick Lamar —Alright 

FullSizeRender.jpg

The flow. The pace. The beat. The rhythm. The lyrics. The resonance. The uplifting. The rawness.

The only reason you need me to explain why this song is it for me, is because you haven’t heard it for yourself. If you have, we shouldn’t be having this conversation, should we? 

 

And that is it. Hip hop is not meant for the faint of hearts or those looking for rose-colored words. It’s a form of expression that’s best painted with a battered-tip brush covered in colors, old and dry, new and wet. It doesn’t get cleaned or sanitized. And that’s what makes the art is produces a priceless gift to the world.

Who Am I?

FullSizeRender.jpg

The little man in the background surely wants to know. I’m a writer, Gemini, and a city lover who needs her coffee. Don’t ever take me to the country, unless it’s in another country. I like to drive into DC to clear my mind. I squeal when I can drive past the neighborhoods in which my characters reside. Don’t let me drive past the National Harbor on my way to the MGM casino. Oh no. That’s where my readers’ book boyfriend Jackson lives. I swear I can pull over and knock on his door. Ladies, that man can do his thang in bed. Just ask Brooke! These people are very much alive to me as the crust is between your toes. Hmm what else??? Don’t ask me to kill bugs. That’s what my man is for; it’s in the contract. No kill bug, no bootie. Don’t ask me to help you move. If I’m a true friend, I’ll prove it another way. If you really wanna read my book but your budget is tight, I won’t make you put my ebook on layaway, just ask! I may have another ebook just laying around somewhere...🤔🤥.Well. I’m an amalgamation of crazy, and my books will reflect that as well.

Speaking from the Heart

Speaking from the heart, there’s days when the sun can’t shine any brighter. You have your mind made up with 100 percent certainty, that you should unequivocally do things one way, and you gather your faith like dirty clothes on the floor that needs to be laundered, and place it all in one machine, because that’s where you know you’ll get results. 

Then there’s other days when your mind takes you all over the place, like a tour guide, making you feel like you need a map in your own God-given territory. What happened to the laundered clothes that were dropped in one place? Did they not get cleaned? Did someone pull them out when you had your back turned for one moment? Sometimes, that’s all it takes is that one moment of doubt. Doubts. Are they okay? How long should you have them? 

FullSizeRender.jpg

Doubts. I believe they’re okay. They give us a chance to reassess, to determine if we still want those same clothes after all. If nothing goes your way, or if dreams unfold slowly, if you find yourself still standing firm with the case of detergent even when the washer appears broken, then you’ve just learned how badly you still want that dream, how strong your faith really is, and that no obstacle will make you choose a different laundromat. That, my friend, is faith.   

Speaking from the heart, you’d better keep hold of that bottle of detergent, because one day, when you don’t expect that washer to click, it will, and you will learn the power of faith and that dreams come true to those who refuse to leave their spot. 🖤🖤🖤

FullSizeRender.jpg