Yves Brown McClain: Literary Fierceness

Let the transition begin…

Posted by Wildflower In Bloom on November 21, 2011

FALL TREE © Richard Mcguirk | Dreamstime.com

My last post was about how I was at a point in my writing where I needed to get a clear direction. I haven’t euthanized my WIP, by the way. There are elements to the story that I wish to keep, and I do believe the story is still entertaining, but I may have to gut it (again) so that it becomes the story it was meant to be.

As far as blogging goes, I’ve decided to launch a new blog, with a new URL. This is for a few reasons: Instead of revamping this blog, I created a new URL under my name because it is keeping with the branding that I’m trying to build. Who’s going to buy a book by ybmauthoress? Exactly.

The new blog will allow me to be a bit more personal, but be in line with the common themes I’ve picked up on in my writing and will also (hopefully) do the things I wanted my writing to do. You can find it under www.yvesbrownmcclain.wordpress.com. There are some things I’ve written here that will fit in well with the new blog, so you may see a few older posts on the new blog. I hope you all head over there and check it out.  If you like what’s there, please follow it and leave lots of comments!

As for Literary Fierceness, as of right now, I’m not shutting it down. But the posts here will be more sporadic. Thank you all so much for the support you’ve shown me for the past ten months. It truly has been a learning experience.

Posted in Announcements, Writing | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

RIP, Wild Oats?

Posted by Wildflower In Bloom on November 19, 2011

CEMETERY © D2xed | Dreamstime.com

So, I know I’ve been MIA for a while. (I see your eyes rolling and I hear you sarcastically mutter, “A while? You’ve been off the grid for about three months!”) Allow me to take a few moments to explain.

I’ve been having moments of personal reflection lately. And during this period, I wasn’t able to blog like I should. I felt that my direction was wrong, so I stopped rather than continue down the wrong path. In regards to my writing aspirations, I knew the talent was there, I tried to stay on top of industry knowledge, I set up my blog and social media accounts to build this platform. I even have a novel and novella under my belt. But it felt all my effort was for naught because every step forward I took, I got knocked back several. My novel’s release had been pushed back an embarrassing number of times. So, I took my issues to God and waited for an answer.

After some time, this is what was revealed to me about the novel:

“Be original. This story’s been told already.”

And I’m like, “Okay, but I’ve been working on this story for years! I’ve invested time and money on this novel. I have a cover for crying out loud. Do I just toss out all those years of work and go back to the drawing board?”

Again, “Be original.”

So, I thought about it further and I had to admit that my novel was feeling like a combo of a few of favorite TV shows: “Sex and the city”, “Girlfriends”, and “Single Ladies”.  I had identified chick-lit as the genre and my writing steered in that direction. So, if chick-lit isn’t my thing and all the themes that lie therein, then what should I be writing?

“Who said you had to be in a box? Be original.”

So what does it mean for the story “I” had deemed to be my breakout? I really don’t know. It hasn’t been revealed yet. But I recognize that “I” was trying to force it through.

As I continued to meditate, I realized that my proudest and most humbling moments are when something I’ve written has encouraged, motivated, empowered, or inspired someone. Perhaps with my novel, I have focused too much on the (mis)adventures of my MC, the jokes, the shoes, the drinking, and yes, the sex, instead of what the core of what the story was about. What initially motivated me to even write the story to begin with.  Healing a broken heart. Or, how do you mend a broken heart? (I know, that’s Al Green)

So, I find myself at an impasse. I can put this story in a vault, never to be seen or heard from again. Or just set it aside for awhile as I have a few other ideas that could not only entertain, but also do those aforementioned things and return to the story once it has been revealed how it shall be told. Or do I wait?

Decisions, decisions…but I think that just may have been my problem all this time. I felt the need to hurry and make a choice. So this time I won’t force it. I will be patient.

Posted in Books, Encouragement & Motivation, Purpose, Wild Oats, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Writer Promo: Check out this Live Internet Radio Interview

Posted by Wildflower In Bloom on October 31, 2011

Just wanted to take a few moments and promote a good friend of mine who is doing her first live internet radio interview today at 12 noon. Yolanda Washington is a Science-Fiction writer and poet who is working on her first novel (one of her characters bears a striking resemblance to Idris Elba, so I’m already sold :-) ) and one of the posts on her blog, From Laser Beams to Sociology, caught the attention of another writer, Quinn Barrett, the author of Invisible Snow. Quinn will be interviewing Yolanda to discuss the connections between science fiction and sociology. Here is the link to the show: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/wisebearbooks

If you’ve been following for a while, you know that Yolanda is a regular on my blog with her comments and encouraging words. She has even guest-posted for me. We connected through LinkedIn several months ago and since then, she’s become my critique partner, a cheerleader on this writing path, and overall,  a really great friend. So, if you’re free at noon, please check out the Internet interview. You can even listen to it later if you’re not able to catch it live.

Congrats, Yolanda! You’re movin’ on up like The Jeffersons, lady!

Posted in Announcements, Author Interview | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Writer Wednesday: Teasers – To Post or not to Post?

Posted by Wildflower In Bloom on August 31, 2011

I once lurked around a discussion board about writing and publishing. One poster mentioned posting an excerpt to a story she was working on. To say the discussion went bananas after she wrote it is an understatement, they went ape —-. So many of the writers said they would NEVER post a WIP (work-in-progress) on their blog or website because once it goes live, it’s published.  Once published, you’ll have a hard time snagging an agent. I felt so bad for the poster who made that statement. Poor thing, they had ripped her a virtual new one.

Last month, I bought a copy of We Are Not Alone The Writer’s Guide to Social Media by Kristen Lamb. The topic of posting WIP excerpts comes up in her book. She makes a compelling argument why it’s generally a bad idea to include WIP excerpts as one, some, or all of your blog posts if you’re not yet published. I’ll briefly touch on a few of them. (*start plug* if you want all the reasons and details, I recommend purchasing her book, it’s a really good read *end plug*)

  1. Difficulty getting an agent if you post too much
  2. The feedback may not be honest enough
  3. The feedback may be TOO honest or just flat out mean-spirited
  4. Frustrating the reader who wants to buy the book only to find it isn’t available yet

However, there have got to be exceptions to the rule (isn’t there always?). I managed to find a few. Established authors can get away with it. I recently read a few not-yet-published teasers on the Facebook page of an accomplished, published, and bestselling author.  Considering she has an agent, a book deal, six best-sellers, and a loyal fan following, I’m sure these teasers won’t hurt her a bit. They’ll only make her fans beg her to publish them not now, but RAHT now. Even if she doesn’t publish them right away, her fans will wait. I’m sure it helps that they’ve got six books to choose from to pass the time while they’re waiting.

The second exception is the self-published/independent author. This person has complete control of his/her work from the roota to the toota. He or she is his/her own agent/publisher/marketer/PR person. Sylvia Hubbard would be my example of Exception #2. Not only does she offer a few of her novels for free, she also does what is called a Live Story in Progress (LSIP), where she posts pieces of her story on her blog as she writes them. This method has been met with success. Her fans can’t wait for the next installment and are more than willing to buy the completed version once she formally publishes (I am one of the fans eagerly awaiting her most recent LSIP to be published). However, Sylvia has her own publishing imprint.

I would have to agree with the posters who slammed that poor lady on that discussion board and Kristen to an extent. If you don’t have an agent and/or not published, it probably isn’t wise to post teasers to your book. You never know what might change in your story (the title, the characters, maybe even a huge chunk of plot). It may seem innocent enough to give potential readers a taste, but in reality it can be a setup to fail and a setback for you. However, if you meet one of those two exceptions, then you may be safe to tease away.

Writers – Have you ever posted an excerpt from your WIP on your site/blog? How was it received? Do you think teasers for unpublished pieces are helpful or harmful?

Readers – If you read an excerpt on a writer’s site, do you expect for it to be published (as in the next few months). How would you feel if it’s a long way from being published? Do you still support the writer or do you feel you’ll get tired of waiting after awhile? Of course, this is assuming you liked what you read. ;-)

Posted in Marketing & Promoting, Publishing, Writer Wednesday, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Blog Interview with Morgen Bailey featuring…moi!

Posted by Wildflower In Bloom on August 30, 2011

Hi! Today’s post will be very brief. I just wanted to announce that I’m being featured over at Morgen Bailey’s blog today. My first interview…woot-woot!

Let me give you a little information about Morgen Bailey. She is a fiction writer out of the UK (so this means I just went international…BOOM!) Her blog is full of great information, such as blog interviews (such as the one I’m being featured on), author spotlights, guest posts, podcasts, writing tips, as well as her own work as a writer. Her blog interviews are open to any blogger/writer in any genre, so if you’d like to subscribe or even be featured on her blog, check out her Blog Interview page.

So, to check out my interview, please click here to go over to her page. Let me know what you think!

Peace & Blessings

Posted in Announcements, Author Interview, Marketing & Promoting | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

The Sky Is Falling!

Posted by Wildflower In Bloom on August 29, 2011

Who doesn’t know the childhood fable of the chicken who believed the world was coming to an end and proceeded to shout that line over and over throughout the course of the story?  Thing is, there are real “Chicken Littles” that exist in our lives today. You know who they are, something is always wrong in their corner of the universe. That dark, gloomy, sky is always dropping on their head, and they feel compelled to let you know just how rough/dramatic/troublesome their life is. Man problems, child drama, daddy issues, job conflict, the list goes on and on and on…it just seems like Chicken Little is never having a good day. Furthermore, Chicken Little doesn’t want you to have a good day either. By the time you’re done dealing with Chicken Little, you’re likely exhausted mentally and sometimes, physically.

I knew this one girl that every time I found she was going to be around, I groaned. I remained cordial, even though every time she opened her mouth I wanted to scream, “Please go somewhere and get your life together!” She was a nice girl, but there was always some dramatic course of events going on in the background of her life and it drove me up a wall.

Now, we’ve all had our share of rough times. Some more than others. Her, more than most. Trials and tribulations are a part of life, and I completely understand it. However, it was as if she allowed her unfortunate series of events to overtake her life and the mood of the room would actually change as she pulled us into whatever issue she was having that day.

However, women aren’t the only ones who suffer from Chicken Little Syndrome. It can happen to men, too. There’s this one guy that whenever I’m invited to go around him and his family, I decline. I try hard to hold on to my peace and quite frankly, I do not have enough time and space in my life for joy-robbers. Sorry.

Oprah Winfrey has a good quote that I include in my email signature. It is, “Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.” I love it because if we only surround ourselves with the Chicken Littles, what do you think will happen eventually? They’re like drama vampires — they suck all the joy and energy from you and then you become one. That’s why it’s so important to be around people who are going to motivate and encourage you, but it works both ways. Iron sharpens iron.

So, do you or have you ever had a Chicken Little in your life? What have you done to deal with him/her/them?

Posted in Encouragement & Motivation | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Testi-Friday: Let’s Get Ready To Rumble

Posted by Wildflower In Bloom on August 26, 2011

Monday, I went back to school for another year of taking my prerequisites for admission into a nursing program. This semester, I’m taking Anatomy and Physiology. I was admittedly nervous for a few reasons. First, I hadn’t made it through a real science class since 12th grade. 13 years ago. 
Side note: I took a science class during my first round of college, but it was an easy course about rocks and volcanoes (basically, if your major didn’t require you to take biology, A&P, or chemistry, you took this class) so I don’t count that as being hard-core science. 
 
Secondly, I attempted this course before. Last fall, I was riding high off my cakewalk through Patient Care Tech (basically CNA meets Medical Assistant meets Phlebotomist) training and *foolishly* assumed that I could handle the full-blown A&P course because I had always been a good student. Thing is, I couldn’t make it to class on time because I couldn’t get off work early. A few weeks into the semester, I walk into class and an exam is taking place. I was totally and completely unprepared. I had forgotten about it and I NEVER forget about a test. The next time I went to campus, I stopped by student accounts and dropped the course. I then convinced myself that I didn’t need this career change. Looking back, I punked out because my career path towards nursing got hard. Despite that I performed very well during externship and could really envision myself as both a nurse and a writer. Simply put, I gave up (punked out).

As I continued to reflect, I remembered being in a similar position in high school. Like I said, I was always a good student. However, I was particularly bad-ass in math. I took two math classes in 10th grade just so I could get into AP Calculus in the 12th grade. Turns out Calculus was the real bad-ass, not me. About six rounds (weeks) into the fight (semester), I got knocked out. I couldn’t get the concepts and my grades reflected it. So, I cried, screamed, begged, to get out of the ring (class) because I already had four belts (math classes) already. However, my school wasn’t having it. I had to fight (take math) each year. So, suck it up, take this ice, and get back in there. So, I did. And I survived. It actually got better. A lot better. Unfortunately, I had to repeat calculus in college because I didn’t earn enough AP credit. So, I didn’t win, but we’ll call it a draw.
 
So, here I am, years later, prepping for another fight (the rematch with A&P) and trying not to flip out and give in to the fear of failure and not being able to handle it. Trying not to let the pressure get me. For nursing programs, passing is NOT good enough. It’s very competitive because they’re limited-access. Applicants have to go in on point, game tight, stuff completely together.
 
Here’s what I realized with my calculus class. When I repeated it, I was prepared. I knew where I was weak, so I paid extra attention to those areas. And I took my bad-ass math championship belt back. This time shouldn’t be different. I know where I need to focus (the first being take the class on a campus closer to work). I’ve got my supporters. I’ve got faith. I’m ready to work. I’m ready. A&P, you’re going down!
 
Okay, so you may be wondering what does this have to do with writing or the stories I’m working on? Not much, honestly. It’s a moment of transparency, really. Because I think we’ve all had failures in some, way, shape, or form. This is just a story of how I dealt with one of mine. I hope that it helps someone who may be going through something similar. Failure can make us better, it’s just a matter of what you do with that failure. Do you crawl out of the ring or do you get back up and keep swinging?

Posted in Encouragement & Motivation, Testi-Friday | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Writer Wednesday: Killing Your Story Softly #2

Posted by Wildflower In Bloom on August 24, 2011

Killing your story softly 

I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember. However, I’m a reader first. I love reading books as much I enjoy writing them. I have found from both the reader’s and writer’s perspective that there are things an author can do to a book that could place it in urgent care, ICU, or just flat out kill it altogether. Based on feedback from both writers and readers the Killing Your Story Softly (KYSS) Series was born.  So, you ready? LEGGO!

 ***

KYSS #2: Cause of story death was determined to be lack of edit

Here is a re-enactment of a conversation an anonymous writer had with her friend who is also a writer. Writer A wrote a story, Writer B was acting as a critique partner. The dialogue isn’t word for word, but you’ll get the point.

–START SCENE–

Writer A: I think I’m ready to get this thing published.

Writer B: You’re ready. It’s a great story.

Writer A: Thanks. I think between your comments and my red sharpie, I’m as ready as I’m gonna be.

Writer B: Trust me on this. Don’t do it. You could shoot yourself in the foot if you don’t have it edited. I’ll give you my editor’s number. She’ll catch things that we missed.

–END SCENE–

Okay, I’ll admit that writer A was me. (Gasp!) If you go through previous posts, you’ll find how much I believe in NEVER editing your own work. So, why was I now taking this hypocritical stand?

Well, the piece I put together was short. Coming in at under 24K, I felt the word count was low enough that between me and my sharpie, the critique of Writer B, and my endearing Beta Babies that were doing a test read, I could circumvent the professional substantive edit.

Second, I was anxious. I really wanted to give “the people” (the millions of imaginary fans I’d envisioned downloading my novella in droves) something to read. Put a little literary gem into the universe while I completed revisions on my full-length novel and put THAT one through the professional edit.

Writer B was having NONE of that. Despite it’s length, it needed an edit. If not for typos and grammar, at least for structure and flow. Without proper editing, I was taking a huge chance that the gem I was putting out would turn out to be a cubic zirconia, not a diamond.

I once read an book by an author whose work I really like. But, the story wasn’t edited very well. She grossly misspelled a well known fashion label. I was able to move past it because the story was good but it was almost like that movie Showgirls where Jessi (I know that’s her Saved By The Bell character name) called the dress she was wearing “Ver-sayse”. Epic fail. The typos I remember about as much as the plot itself. Thing is, not every reader is as forgiving as me. For some, this can be considered a critical error. Critical story errors can turn people off and not only will they never read another book of yours, they’ll tell their friends.

Am I suggesting you run every piece by a professional editor? Not really. If you’re posting a flash-fiction piece, a poem you came up with at 3am, or a writing exercise on your blog or website just for fun or to give your readership a “lil’ something something”, just as long as you pull out your sharpie, read it aloud, and hit spellcheck, you can get away with it. Besides, at the frequency blogs are updated, there’s not a lot of time for it. And most of us don’t even have the resources.

BUT for work you want to publish AND/OR sell, skipping this step could be a shot to the foot or worse. Now will that editor catch it ALL? No. I’ve put the novel I’ve been working on through a professional edit before and she caught the vast majority of my mistakes. But, she missed a couple of tiny things, like a comma here and there. Stuff like that won’t kill you as it didn’t interrupt the flow of the book. However, cracks in story development, plot holes, typos, and tense-jumping might pronounce your work DOA.

So, I’ve been in touch with a few potential editors to go through my novella. So, while I’m not able to cross that published bridge yet, it’ll be worth it to wait because I really want this story to be known for its plot and characters, NOT for that major story flaw halfway through it or the little annoying things like redundant words or not being descriptive enough. Oh, and to Writer B? Thanks again. You saved my writing aspirations from potential death or brain damage from lack of edit.

***

Now it’s your turn. My beloved readers, what things have you come across in books that have made you scratch your head or just throw the book in the garbage? For my writer peeps, what pitfalls are you avoiding so that your work will be its best effort possible? I’d like to know. Perhaps your story pet peeve will make the “KYSS of death” list. Happy writing and happy reading :-)

Posted in Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Delusions of Superwoman

Posted by Wildflower In Bloom on August 22, 2011

My son recently had his tonsils & adenoids removed. (He’s doing perfect, by the way). So of course, I took time off work in order to care for him. However, I assumed that I would be able to squeeze in some work on one or both of my WIPs during his downtime. I reasoned that he was going to be on meds and would sleep for longer than normal periods of time. He sleeps, I write. Right?

Wrong. DEAD wrong. I barely touched my computer. Why? Because I was exhausted. Perhaps a little delirious. Definitely deluded. I stayed in the hospital with him during his overnight and in between the nurses coming to check on him and the fact he kept wiggling out of the pulse ox meter attached to his finger which caused it to beep (loudly) every thirty minutes, I may have gotten about two minutes of sleep. Okay, maybe two hours, but not straight sleep.

About 10 days after the procedure, I’m talking to my friend about my writing plans gone awry. She says that she wasn’t surprised that I wasn’t able to do it. Well, I was! I had the best laid plans in my head as described above. I proceed to tell her that I AM capable of working, writing highly-anticipated best-sellers, going to school, having a family, rescuing kittens from trees, crocheting sweaters, and baking fabulous pound cakes in under 24 hours. Yes, she caught on to the fact that I was being a facetious smart-ass. (I’m still laughing over walking rescue-turned-therapy dogs in my sleep, thanks Yolanda)

Of course, my baby came first during this period. That’s my mommy instinct to make sure he was okay above all else. So I wasn’t really that upset about not being able to write. I just kinda wished I was able to. I recognize that I tend to do this – make these goals, that in any other situation would be attainable, but for me and the many hats I wear, can be unrealistic. And off I go on the midnight train to Deluded-ville…so far, I’ve been able to get a return ticket back to Reality City.

As women, we tend to play a lot of roles. Wife. Mother. Powerful working woman. Caregiver (of a parent, sibling, grandparent, etc.) Student. Community activist/volunteer. Mentor. Friend. Oh, and don’t let us have a dream/vision/something we’ve always wanted to do that doesn’t lead to a big payoff right away (i.e. write that novel, start that business, finally get in the studio and make that album,etc.) Sometimes, it can be hard to balance because we want “Superwoman” (the Alicia Keys version, not Karyn White) to be our theme song. Unfortunately, trying to juggle so much can at best, lead to the occasional dropped ball, and at worst, we not only drop ALL the balls, we trip and fall over them and bust our heads on the ground.

So, how do you balance? How do you set reasonable goals? How do you avoid boarding that train to that deluded place where Superwoman reigns supreme?

Posted in Encouragement & Motivation, Relationships | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

This book would make a great movie…

Posted by Wildflower In Bloom on August 5, 2011

Taking a popular book and turning it into a movie or tv show happens all the time, sometimes with great success, sometimes not. I can mention the obvious Twilight and Harry Potter series. Then there’s I Am Number Four, The Nanny Diaries, Rizolli & Isles, Lipstick Jungle, Sex & The City (a good example of book to TV show to Movie ) – It even happens to books written by African-Americans and/or featuring predominantly African-American characters. Precious, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Waiting to Exhale made it to the big screen. Disappearing Acts was on HBO. Zane’s The Sex Chronicles got a series on Cinemax. Steve Harvey’s book Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man is filming as we speak. Helena Andrews, who penned Bitch is The New Black just got a movie deal for her book optioned by none other than the super-fab Shonda Rhimes. And yes, the screenplay will be written by Helena.
I don’t know of a writer who doesn’t play Fantasy Casting Director with their books, wondering if their novel, memoir, or self-help book has what it takes to grace either the silver or small screen. We’ve imagined who would play who in the movie version of our book. What can I say, writers dream big. I’d like to suggest a few books, both fiction and non-fiction that would make good movies or TV series.
Flyy Girl — Talk about 80s nostalgia! It’s hard to come by a black woman who didn’t love Omar Tyree’s coming of age novel about a girl in the hip-hop era. Even he knows it should be a movie; the follow up to Flyy Girl, For the Love of Money is about Flyy Girl becoming a movie.
The Strawberry Letter: Real Talk, Real Advice, Because Bitterness Isn’t Sexy — I envision Shirley Strawberry’s compilation of letters from people seeking relationship advice that have become very popular on The Steve Harvey Morning Show becoming somewhat of an ensemble movie, like Valentine’s Day or He’s Just Not That Into You (also started as a book) where the characters don’t all interact with each other, but they’re all connected. I can only imagine the drama, comedy, and hijinks a well-written screenplay played awesome actors could create.
Your Degrees Won’t Keep You Warm at Night: The Very Smart Brothas Guide to Dating, Mating, and Fighting Crime — Written by Damon Young and Panama Jackson, the title alone to this dating and relationship book has me envisioning movie trailers and promo posters. Again, another ensemble cast is in order.
Scenes From a Sistah, Getting to The Good Part, Tastes Like Chicken — this series of books by Lolita Files featuring best friends Misty Fine and Reesy Snowden can easily be the replacement to the void left behind by Girlfriends.(see Gotta Have Girlfriends). However, this show would need to make its home on either HBO or Showtime. Network TV and basic cable won’t do this show justice.
Casting The First Stone — Love, Honor, and Betray — Kimberla Lawson Roby’s eight-book (to date) series of stories centered around Rev. Curtis Black could be the perfect hour-long drama series. Lies, greed, sex, scandals, cheating, gossip, power struggles, scheming, money, love, and church. Whoo! I’d tune in every week. Hey, Brothers and Sisters just got cancelled…10pm every Sunday is appropriate AND perfect.
Those are just my thoughts, and I know there are more out there that I haven’t thought of. So, now it’s your turn. What book do you see making an excellent movie or tv show? If you think a book is better suited for television, what station would you put it on and why?

Posted in Books, Marketing & Promoting, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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