Wednesday, March 31, 2010
"And then we heard the Thunder"...the title/theme for Medgar Evers College 10th National Black Writers' Conference. And the thunder was indeed loud and boomed like like Toni Morrison, Amiri Baraka, Kamau Brathwaite, Sonia Sanchez, Cornel West, Bernice L. McFadden, Tayari Jones, Donna Hill and so, so many other authors and poets and literary contributors.... Colored, negro, Black, African American and 'other'...and proud. I was beaming with pride. Beaming is actually an understatement, I was having an out of body experience.
The National Black Writers' Conference is a yearly event is a celebration of African Americans'voice in the literary world. Not just African American's but a people long time considered to be minorities. But here...we're the majority. And we have a right to celebrate our purpose and selected mission in life. They are, we are, chosen for greatness. And greatness need to be celebrated in every way.
As a student at Medgar Evers College, I never had the chance to indulge in this remarkable festivity,as I always had an exam to tend to. But the thought of all this literacy under one roof brought me back to volunteer. I always imagined it to make blood rush through veins and beat against the roof of your skin, so hard, that you want to scream with joy. And that's the very emotion I felt being at the VIP reception on Saturday March 27th. The reception in which author/educator/historical figure Ms. Toni Morrison was honored. And an honor it was.
As Dr. Cornel West stated: "Who will celebrate us, if we don't do it ourselves".
Though I was merely a volunteer at the event, my excitement was irrepressible when I had the chance to schedule car service for Ms. Sanchez...call her and hear her poetic voice. It couldn't be contained when I had the chance to meet her, hug her, speak with her and hand her a copy of one of my own poetry collections. I was elated. No, no...I think at that moment I understood what Michael Jackson fans experience.
I spent 4 days at the event. Giving my time to help make sure that it went as smoothly as possible. I helped with honoring those who have contributed to my passion for writing, my passion for poetry, my passion for literacy. From a timid child in Trinidad, to a dream seeker in New York. This is my path.
While gathered in the room to honor Ms. Morrison, I stood in awe. I practically forgot that I was there on duty. Not to mix and mingle, but I was in a trance. And even more in hypnosis when I had to replenish Ms. Morrison's table with h'ordeuvres. She was quiet, she was still, she was precious. I wanted to reach out and touch her face, to feel her words, to steal some of her magic and to be reminded that while a picture holds a thousand words...words can give you a million more pictures. As I placed the tray on her table, Mr. West reached over for a bruschetta. It brought me back to reality...they're just as normal as we are. Lol!
The hostess of the evening Ms. Susan Taylor (of Essence Magazine) opened the floor with some beautiful remarks, that made you feel all the glory of honoring Ms. Morrison. Then Ms. Sanchez had the honor of dedicating a poem to Ms. Morrison, and she recited it from paper...ha! I felt like I won a prize. I'm a devout paper poet. Spoken word isn't my gift, so reciting always came as a challenge, but words, no matter what or how displayed can move you as long as you believe in what you're reading or hearing. And I was moved. It was spiritual, it was historical, it was slavery, it was rising out of slavery, it was becoming, it was Toni Morrison.
I thank the staff and the committee at Medgar Evers College, who take the time to bring awareness to the role of African Americans in the literary world. I'd also like to thank them for allowing me to be a part of this magnificent event.
All of the greats under one roof to celebrate this heavenly structured literary mind. And it was a celebration I'll NEVER forget.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Aside from our personal and mutually professed love for Prince, The Artist Formerly Known As Prince and just the symbol that represents him all, we have something else in common, a love for writing and a love for bringing a story to life with words.
I've browsed through your website, and felt like I opened a vault to treasures. Seeing all of your listed and accredited titles made me feel like a kid in a candy store. I’m not sure which to choose first. Quite tempting! An early congratulations to all of your published successes.
It is evident that your passion for writing allows you to put out books with quality stories for all genres. You have written books for those of us "of age", and for the likes of my 15 year old niece Sapphire, who is "becoming of age". This widespread of novels shows your caliber of commitment.
In this interview I'd like to talk about your adult novels, especially the upcoming novel "Hollywood Deception" and your Young Adult (YA) series "The Lip Gloss Chronicles."
Onika Pascal: As we can see, your 'rap' sheet is quite a few pages long. Before we get to those, can you tell us how it all began? What made you want to publish a book?
Shelia Goss: I've always wanted to be a published writer. I've been writing since I was nine years old. I've always had a vivid imagination. When I was a freshman in high school, I got a chance to meet Maya Angelou. The seed or idea to be published was planted after hearing her recite from her book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. My original plan was to wait until I retired to pursue a career in publishing but God had other plans for me. I was blessed to get a book deal in 2006, while in my thirties, and the rest as they say is history.
OP: As you know, my blog is all about a see through soul. Would you be willing to let my readers know your inner feeling about your first published book?
Shelia: My Invisible Husband is a book close to my heart. I wrote that book during the time I was unemployed so when the book got picked up and the majority of the readers embraced it; it meant more to me than anyone knew.
OP: You have many books in the form of series…The Invisible Series, the Women in Hollywood Series, The Lip Gloss Chronicles... what inspired you to publish books in sequels?
Shelia: Actually, between, you, me, and your readers, I didn't write them as a series. When I decided to revamp my website and put my books in a certain order; only then did I come up with the idea to group my adult books in a series. LOL I did intentionally write the young adult books as a part of The Lip Gloss Chronicles series.
OP: How do you transition between each series? What makes each different?
Shelia: When I write my women fiction stories, I talk about issues that adults deal with. When writing books for young adults, I make it a point to talk about issues teens face, but unfortunately there's a gray area because a lot of teens are trying to grow up too fast and find themselves dealing with grown up issues.
What makes writing for adults different than teens? Mainly, situations and dialogue. Adults have more experience under their belts so how they deal with situations would be in a mature way as opposed to a teenager in a similar situation.
OP: You’re way past first book and doing amazing things with your writing. Where would you like to see your writing take you?
Shelia: To the silver screen. I would love to see any one of my books made into a movie;whether it be a feature film or made-for-TV movie.
OP: You have novels for adults and for Young Adult. What sparked the desire to bring out novels for young adults?
Shelia: I got tired of hearing friends complain about their kids reading books meant for adults. I decided to write stories geared towards teenagers. In each book of the Lip Gloss Chronicles, the stories are told from one of the main characters point of view as they tackle every day issues--from boy problems to cyber bullying. I've actually wanted to write a young adult book since I was a teenager myself.
OP: When I think about it, I can picture the Lip Gloss Chronicles series as a TV miniseries. Can we make a petition to have these created into made for TV series?
Shelia: Please do. I'm all for that. My young adult books are entertaining, yet, each one has a message. Both the teens and their parents will be satisfied with the series.
OP: I’m still working on my first novel and here you are with novel number 9. How does it feel? What goes through your head when you think about how far you’ve gotten?
Shelia: I feel blessed. To have 9 books released in 4 years is a blessing. I thank God for opening the doors for me and allowing me to work my dream job.
I think once you complete your first novel; writing your second one will be easier. You have to come up with a system that works for you.
OP: Schedule for April 2010, is the release of your 9th novel, “Hollywood Deception” The synopsis prepares us for “two friends, one woman, and one deranged fan”. I’ve read the excerpt and it has an air of suspense and excitement…a page turner it seems to be. Can you give my readers an inside peek to what’s going on in Hollywood Deception?
Shelia: Hailey Barnes is an ex-model/now talk show host. Hailey is a drama magnet. The story opens up when she finds out her on/again off/again boyfriend is getting married. On top of that drama, she receives threatening mail from a deranged fan. The paparazzi won't leave her alone. Her life is one huge Hollywood production. With interesting plot twists and sexy leading men, Hollywood Deception is an exhilarating read.
OP: With so many characters and so many different plots. How did you come about creating Hailey, the protagonist in Hollywood Deception?
Shelia: Hailey was a minor character in one of my previous books--Double Platinum. She was the best friend of the male lead--Casper. Although she was a minor character, there was something about her that screamed--give me my own story. LOL
A year later, I wrote Hollywood Deception.
OP: Will you be willing to let your readers/audience know what’s coming next from you?
Shelia: I am currently working on several books; but the one I'm wrapping up now will hopefully be out in 2011. I will be sure to let you know when I have more details. I'm also working on book #4 in The Lip Gloss Chronicles series. Readers will get introduced to three new characters and there's a real good plot twist in book #4 concerning Jasmine.
Readers can get more information about my books by visiting either my main site: www.sheliagoss.com or the young adult book site: www.thelipglosschronicles.com.
Shelia, I wish you longevity, continued prosperity and success with your writing. You are necessary, as you keep us entertained…both adult and young adult. Thank you for your contribution to the literary world.
Books have been an important part of my life. Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to share with your readers.
For more information on Author Shelia M. Goss please visit the links below
Shelia M Goss - Author & Entertainment Writer
Main website: www.sheliagoss.com
Film Review website: www.filmreviews2go.com
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
I'm not quite a social media junkie. And I'm really not quite a socially inclined junkie...us introverts have somewhat of a tendency to remain indoors. Despite my delinquency around the world wide web, I was an avid myspace fan. Today that account rests somewhere in the virtual cemetery of the triple double u. May it rest in peace. Though buried, myspace helped reveal some things to my personal life that I didn't really want to know, wished I hadn't known, but in a way, thankful I stumbled upon. It carved my path away from being naive. I owe myspace more gratitude than I truly give it. But its best to let some sleeping dogs lie.
While on myspace, I started getting invites to other social media outlets. Hi5 and others that will go nameless, simply because honestly, I can't remember them. I've never really been on hi5 or any of the other social media stomping grounds. I always felt it kind of odd to put your business all over the net, so a I selected a few places, and that was good enough for me. Since myspace, I fell into blogging, blogspot, then FaceBook ...the official, yet very much welcomed and adored, black hole of idleness. Its at these outlets I stand on my soapbox and type all the glory of words to express my see through soul to friends who were at the lost and found for many, many years. And I'm now becoming a blogger on wordpress (see me at onikapascal.sunkissedmommy.com)
A special shout out goes to FB for reuniting me with many, and allowing me the opportunity to block and delete many as well :)...who said life doesn't have an off/on & "to be filed as trash" button. At times I'm quite lethargic when it comes to updating, entertaining and socially mingling, but its like being one of the zombie children in the 1984 movie "Children of the Corn"...I just told my age with naming that movie.
Since FB...the mother of alllll social interaction (bow down and give your due respect), I have found a new well of idleness...TWITTER. Its logo is that of a bird...be free I think it says to us. Free to say what's on your mind, free to follow others who are like minded, or free to follow gossip...every town must have a story teller, right?
But of late, I realized that Twitter has devalued my competence for constructiveness. It has taken over my days and time for pen and paper. I'm so virtually blinded, that my pen has given me the side eye a few times and I haven't noticed. But it will always, ALWAYS be my love.
While I have found the social web to be a rabbit hole of mysteriousness, and a well of information...whether folks intend it to be or not, I have come to the realization that the saying, "yo get what you go looking for" is true. But at times you can't help it. The www helps you to realize just how small the world really is. Every one is connected to each other some way or the other. OMG! Could it be the confirmation to the theory that we are really all brothers and sisters??? OK! That was a bit dramatic. But in hindsight, we really are all connected by the power of the mouse. One click & you see what I'm talking about.
I have found friends. Friends who are friends of friends and friends who know people that I dare not call a friend. But that's how it goes. And when you come across that revelation, there is the option to go unseen. Where as in real life, it can't be done. A virtual avatar practically has more power than you do. And the good thing about it is, is that you're its own god.
There are times I have used to outlet to be something to escape to, then at moments I just want to run from it all. But the social bonding one (I) develops with complete and total strangers, leaves you feeling selfish for walking away. So you always seem to return to leave a quirky message that read: "hey there. Stopping by 2 say hello", or some sort of coded message that is shortened to give way to the limited text space allowed.
I can go on and on about the social media party rooms, but I'll leave it to the discovery of the clueless. But I WILL tell you to be totally careful with what you put on to these sites...personal information should be limited at best. meeting folks is one of precaution. Take care of befriending any and everybody...stalkers, pedophiles, POINT BLANK..NUTS AND PSYCHOS, surf the web and gather at these outlets. If you're a parent, be careful with your little ones and monitor their accounts, if they're allowed to have one. If not, be careful and surf these websites for their pictures, names, email addresses etc...stay on top of the game.
And this brings me to the end of my blog. I have two more pit stops to make before I call it a night...I'm a celebrity in my own right
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
I am so happy these past few days. No, nothing's different. I still have some woes in between my toes. I'm still not $5000 stable in my bank account after every pay day and each bill is paid. I'm still waiting on a decision from the application committee at the law school I desire to go to, I'm still fumbling around the dark in the friendship department and I'm still...well single lol.
But those are the petty things. Life forces me to grow up and take charge at the drop of a dime...literally a dime. But it is what it is. Some years ago I would've been crying my eyes out, but I've manned up since then. I handle things differently now.
No matter what we go through, no matter what we face each day, be reminded that we're women. We're ALIVE, we're whole. Make life yours.
I woke up to a message yesterday, that my poetry was published in the online publication of ALIVE Magazine. I was elated. I was already smiling and by the time I read the message I was grinning. Totally! I haven't promoted my poetry in a few months well. Haven't given up, but trying to focus on my novel. So seeing that I've been published in ALIVE, I feel rejuvenated. And what better way than being featured in an article that celebrates women??
Thank you to the editors at ALIVE for selecting my submissions for this special issue.
In this March 2010 issue of ALIVE magazine, women are celebrated. The articles are vibrant, inspiring and uplifting. I urge you, if you're ALIVE, to click the link, sit with your coffee, tea, juice, put your feet up and enjoy the articles. I surely did.
We're going to constantly face daily frustrations. Life isn't ever that easy. We have to make it so for ourselves. WE can do that by simply being happy with what we have. Feeling ALIVE in everything we do, no matter what. We can face each day with an attitude of victory ... I'm starting to sound like Joel Osteen...but you get the jist!
I hope you're encouraged and inspired to take a step toward something you've been avoiding...take the challenge and make it your best.
Song of the day..India.Arie's "Private Party"...enjoy
Monday, March 1, 2010
Like milk and cookies to a sweet tooth, what Ebony and Ivory was to Stevie and Paul, you’re pen and paper to the literary world…an attractive combination. And it’s a combination that delivered 6 novels into the literary world. Novels like "Exposures","Better Than I Know Myself" , “Far From the Tree”, “Tryin to Sleep in the Bed You Made”, “Gotta Keep on Tryin”, “What Doesn’t Kill You”, all in a time span of 1989, with Exposure being your first novel, to present.
And now…”Uptown”…your most recent release. (available at amazon.com and at Barnes and Nobles
Win a copy of UPTOWN: Post the link to this blog on your FB or Twitter pages; leave a comment here for the authors and a winner will be selected by Friday March 5th
This is truly an honor. Welcome to my see through soul, and thank you for the time taken to let myself and my readers into your world.
Onika Pascal: In 1989 I was scanning the pages of my encyclopedia collection, feeding my mind with all sorts of wonders of the world, and you ladies were breaking the surface of the literary world. “Exposures” your first novel. What was the plot to this gem?
DeBerry and Grant: We met each other while we were in the fashion business, and advice to writers always says write what you know, so Brett Larsen, the main character of Exposures is a fashion photographer, daughter of a multi-married socialite mother who is on the down slide and granddaughter of a transportation magnate. The story focuses on Brett’s struggle to succeed in a highly competitive business, and find love in her life while navigating her dysfunctional relationship with her mother, her family’s secret and disturbing past which comes back to threaten her in ways she could never anticipate. We actually both re-read Exposures recently and while we have grown as writers, the book is still a fun read.
OP: After the release of “Exposures”, did you know that you’d be in the business 6 novels later?
DBG: After publishing one book, we were sure we were on our way to a long, happy publishing career. Our commitment was tested to the extreme, however. We worked on what we thought would be our next book, but our agent was unable to sell it. Editors said they liked our writing, just not that book, but they all wanted to see what we did next. That’s not the answer you’re looking for after you spend a year working on a project. But we were encouraged by the fact that editors still wanted to see more from us. So we regrouped, did a lot of talking about the kind of characters we’d really like to write about, and came up with the story that became Tryin’ to Sleep in the Bed You Made. That whole process took five years, but we stuck with it and have been writing and publishing regularly ever since.
OP: As an aspiring writer, I decided to use a pseudonym as well. My middle name as my first and my first name as my last….Onika Pascal. Not many people believe my first name to be Pascalle (it’s male), and I’ve always wished Onika was my first…writing afforded that for me. As I read the snippet for “Exposure”, I saw that you used the pseudonym Marie Joyce. How’d you decide whose name would go first?
DBG: Well, Virginia’s middle name is Joyce, and Donna’s is Marie. You don’t get to use your middle name very often so a pseudonym seemed a great place for them. We decided on Marie Joyce because we liked the sound better than Joyce Marie. The only reason we didn’t use our own names from the beginning was because the publisher didn’t think readers would “get” a novel written by two people. Our next publisher, however, let us be open and notorious as ourselves. And as for whose name went first, that was a decision about sound as well. DeBerry and Grant is easier to say than Grant and DeBerry (try it out loud—too many t and d sounds together), so we went with it.
OP: From the runway to the pages of entertaining story lines. A transition fit for a story line itself. How’d you make the changeover?
DBG: Fashion was really the strangest transition for both of us. We were both English majors who always loved to read. Virginia even taught English for almost ten years. Donna worked at a newspaper and had always wanted to be a writer. When we seriously decided to write a book, we brought together all of our feelings about storytelling. As for the business side, we bought a book about writing a novel and getting it published. We wanted to see how to present our work, how a manuscript should look and find out the steps we should take to get a book deal. We were very fortunate. We found an agent who was willing to work with us very quickly. Once we gave her the synopsis, character sketches and sample chapters for Exposures, she sold it in two weeks!
OP: Co-authors! I find myself battling to put a story out on my own. How do you do it as a team? Do ideas clash? How do you agree on how the story goes?
DBG: We realize this is not always the case, but the elements that make us best friends also work for us when we write together. We are alike in a lot of ways, but totally different in many others. Those characteristics keep the mix lively. We start every story with what we call “What iffing,” tossing ideas around until we get a flow we like. If we disagree, we keep talking until we find common ground. Egos are left outside—what we care about is telling a story that keeps readers needing to turn the pages to find out what happens next. We always say we are the author, not the authors. It has always been important that we write with one voice.
OP: Was it popular back then to have novels written by co-authors? How was your duet taken by agents and publishers?
DBG: There were some teams writing when we started—Judith Michael a husband and wife team, for example—but in fiction they had always gone by one name. Agents and publishers were OK with it, as long as you produced work that flowed. Collaborations in music, film and theater are quite the norm but for some odd reason, publishers just didn’t believe that readers would accept a two-headed, four handed writer. We were early in the trend to put both names on the cover. Our editor liked the idea of a novel, “By and about best friends,” so we’ve been out in the open ever since. Good thing—keeping secrets is boring.
OP: I browsed your website for a bit and noticed you list of tour dates. All I can say is wow. This must be a very exciting journey. You’ve done this so many times...is there ever a time the rush feel different?
DBG: Sometimes the travel gets hard—flying used to be fun. Now is a lot more drudgery—take off your shoes, put the liquids in plastic bags, pull out the laptop, blah, blah. And waking up in a different hotel room, in a different city every day can be crazy making. Yes, we’ll get tired on the road, very tired—Virginia even fell asleep during a reading once! But getting to meet readers is still great. We are honored that folks take the time to come see us, because we know everyone is busy. Through the years there are people we have come to know and we look forward to seeing them again. And there are new people who have just found us and want to say hello, or give us a hug. That never gets old.
OP: I for one am glad that you have made the contributions that you have thus far. Though you have many titles under your belt, can we talk about “Uptown”? “Uptown” is the latest addition to the family. I’ve read the excerpt and definitely felt prominence, money, greed, family conflict. Can you give a better insight/ background on “Uptown”? Let the readers know what they’re about to get into.
DBG: We have all watched as politicians, athletes, and business people crash and burn when their dirty laundry gets aired in public. We wanted to see what that feels like to those involved. We chose the world of real estate as the setting for Uptown because the real estate boom was the gold rush of the 2000’s. Newer, more lavish homes and luxury towers went up in places where they had never been built before—including Harlem, but not without controversy. And buyers as well as developers went into mega-debt to get in the game. We realized we had the perfect two characters to take us into that world. Dwight Dixon and his domineering and antagonistic father, King Dixon were characters from Better Than I Know Myself that readers loved to hate, and their family business was Harlem real estate. So in Uptown we explore both the family dynamics that weigh on Dwight and his cousin, Avery Lyons who grew up like a sister to him, as well as the pressure to be successful, at any cost, and the personal toll it takes.
OP: From “Exposures” to “Uptown”, how has your writing style changed to fit with the “fashion” of today’s novels? Has it changed much?
DBG: Maybe because everything around us happens in a nanosecond, readers now want to get into a story quickly and be grabbed from the word go. Through the years our style has become leaner and faster—Exposures, if we wrote it today, would be 100 pages shorter. Also, we have received some pressure to be more gritty and sexually explicit. We have always dealt with adult situations, but it is not our style to give the blow-by-blow details, so to speak. We like to set up the situations and the emotions for the characters, get them and the readers in the mood, and leave you to fantasize the details. That’s the beauty of reading. Mind play is half the fun.
OP: I’m fairly new to the reading, writing scene and I anticipate seeing you ladies around for quite a while to come. But I have to ask, after all these years, your team work stands strong, can you tell us what keeps you both in-tuned with each other?
DBG: Our friendship is at the base of everything we do, and even if we were not writing the friendship would be going strong. As writers we respect each other’s abilities and opinions. Those things are true of our friendship as well, plus we crack each other up regularly. How cool is it to be able to hang out with your friend all the time, travel together, share your successes, be encouraged when you are hitting a rough patch and you’re making a living doing what you love? Doesn’t get much better than that.
OP: You both have a prosperous longevity within business. And it is truly inspirational. What bit of advice, about the industry, can you give to aspiring writers?
DBG: Up and coming authors must remember that while writing is a means of personal expression, publishing is a business—it’s about the bottom line. Whatever sells the most is what you will see in your bookstores and there is no allegiance to authors just because they have published before. Of course this isn’t an excuse not to write the best book you can because being a good storyteller will be what keeps readers coming back. And just like when there was a shift from CD’s to downloads in the record business, publishers are trying to figure out how to make a profit in this new day. At one point we even found our writing career in jeopardy as a result of the state of flux. The economic struggle that resulted sparked our last book What Doesn’t Kill You (now out in paperback). It’s about a woman who loses her long time job and has to re-evaluate everything in her life as a result. Sounds serious, and some parts are, but our narrator—Tee Hodges has a way to see the humor even in her challenges. That book was the way we made lemonade out of some very big lemons. The good news—there are more ways than ever to reach out to readers and let them know about your work. Take advantage of the access the internet provides Readers are always on the look out for fresh talent, they are very welcoming and love to spread the word about they’re new discovery.
OP: And in looking forward to seeing many more from you, can I ask what’s next for DeBerry and Grant?
DBG: We have plotted out a book that we can’t wait to get on the page. It’s too early for specifics, but like Uptown it is about a timely topic and how it affects all of us on a daily basis. We’re looking to have some fun writing it and hope it will keep readers talking.
Ladies, again, thank you for this opportunity to interview such a magnificent duo. You are very much cherished and appreciated for the words you bring to us. Much continued success and a lifetime of stories to tell.
Please visit the following social media outlets for further information on DeBerry and Grant
ALL NOVELS BY DEBERRY AND GRANT:
Titles: Uptown, Tryin' to Sleep in the Bed You Made, Far From the Tree, Better Than I Know Myself, Gotta Keep on Tryin', What Doesn't Kill You, & Exposures as Marie Joyce
Win a copy of UPTOWN: Post this link to your FB or Twitter pages; leave a comment here for the authors and a winner will be selected by Friday March 5th