Author Interview: Antoine ‘Inch’ Thomas

Me with 848 Web Series Team

I have been following Antoine ‘Inch’ Thomas for quite some time now and I think he is an exceptional man. I had the pleasure of meeting him for the first time last month. It was a real treat, because I got to spend time with him and the rest of the 848 Web Series team. Inch is one of the most down to earth and humblest men I know. Besides being incredibly talented as a writer, actor and filmmaker. If you haven’t read any his books, or watched the 848 Web Series, I highly recommend it.

1) Where did you grow up? How was your childhood?

I grew up in the Northeast Bronx, New York City, a housing development called Edenwald Houses. My childhood was fair…my mother was a single mom raising six children on her own. My older siblings were dipping and dabbing in drugs. Mom was on welfare, no real male role model around…just my mother, mostly.

2) What was your dream or aspiration?

My dream was always to own my own business. Nothing in particular..a store perhaps, but something that I could call my own and run it how I wanted to run it.

3) Who did you look up to or admire? Who was your greatest influence?

I had no one that I wanted to be like except the neighborhood drug dealer. There were a few, but one or two stood out to me for various reasons. For those reasons, primarily materialistic reasons, and me growing up poor, I wanted what they had. I wanted to be them.

4) What has gotten you through hard times in life?

My faith in the almighty Creator has gotten me through the times when most people were expected to crack or break. I am a practicing Muslim and I have been so for 23 years. Islam the religion, is perfect. People ruin it!

5) What kind of music do you like or listen to?

I listen to hip hop and R&B music.

6) What is your favorite movie and why?

One of my favorite movies of all time has to be “Scarface”. The story of a Cuban immigrant who made something out of nothing. According to him, all he had was his balls (courage) and his word (honor). Sometimes that’s all that we need.

7) Who are your favorite authors and books?

My favorite authors are different from my favorite books because an author can write an awesome story, but once you get big headed and appear as if your shit doesn’t stink, Fuck You! But a few of my favorite stories are: The Coldest Winter Ever, True To The Game, Dutch, B More Careful, Block Party, Do or Die, Standing At The Scratch Line (My all time favorite), Gangsta, Kiss The Girls, and Flower’s Bed.

Some of my favorite authors are: Treasure Blue, Al-Saadiq Banks, James Patterson, John Grisham, Thomas Long, T. Benson Glover, and Michael Whitby.

8) Tell us a little bit about the books you’ve written? How did you come up with the ideas for them?

No Regrets, the first book that I’ve ever written was inspired by my own childhood. Flower’s Bed, the novel that set off my company is a story about a young lady and domestic molestation. I wrote that book to grab the attention of the readers. Unwilling To Suffer is a hood love story inspired by a personal experience and That Gangsta Shit, an anthology was created to introduce my authors on a level smaller than debuting a full length novel.

9) How long does it take you to write a book?

I wrote my first book in eight days, it’s first draft. Flower’s Bed took me three weeks. Black Rose’s took sixteen days and Unwilling To Suffer took me six months to complete.

10) What are some of the things you learned from writing books?

From writing stories, I’ve learned how to read and write better, I’ve enhanced my vocabulary and I’ve also learned how to improve on story line.

11) What inspires or motivates you?

My will to succeed and win motivates me to reach for the stars. I feel like I have so much potential that I almost wasted running around in those streets that now I try to be an example for the ones headed down that same route.

12) What would you do differently if you had a second chance?

If I had a second chance, I wouldn’t do anything different because everything today for me is the way it is because life was the way that it was.

13) How did you come up with the concept for the 848 web series?

I am a huge fan of “The Wire”. I enjoy the tv show “Power”. I was intrigued by how so many people were so excited about, the following week’s episode of “Empire”. I absolutely admired the show, “Money & Violence”. So I grouped all of those elements together along with incorporating my preparation for writing a novel and boom, 848 was born. I always say, nothing too ratchet, something easy on the tongue, something familiar, easy to remember and something unordinary.

14) What do you want people to take from your books and 848?

I want people to know that the man behind my books and 848 had one time given up on society and life. There was a time when I thought that I would never be shit, so why even try. And here I am today, with maybe not much financially but I am so happy that I made it this far and how other people can see me as a source of encouragement. Hope, for lack of a better term.

15) Do you enjoy acting or writing more?

I enjoy acting and writing equally. I really enjoy coming up with the ideas of how a scene should be played out, camera angles etc.

16) What are you most grateful for?

I am most grateful for a loving family. I love my children with all of my dear heart.

17) Where do you see yourself five or ten years from now?

In five or ten years, with enough hard work, determination, sacrifice and consistency, I see myself on the big screen.

18) What advice would you give the youth today?

To the youth of 2015, although it may sound cliché, never give up. Never give up hope because God is real. We cannot enjoy the rainbow without first enduring the storm. We must experience hardship in order to truly appreciate success.

19) Are you currently working on a new book or project?

Right now, I am still in the production stages of rounding out the end of Season 1 of 848.

20) Lastly, what advice would you give a novice writer?

When it comes to being an author, the READERS, MAKE you, or they break you, figuratively, of course. NEVER, release material that you aren’t 100 with, from its title, the cover, down to every page, every chapter, every paragraph & every sentence. Begin EVERY story with some action, or over the top drama. Be descriptive in your sex scenes, & graphic when there’s action or violence. Exaggerate, but make everything believable & imaginable. Be unpredictable with your story & lead folks to believe one thing, then give them something they wouldn’t expect. Make your readers sympathize with your characters, show compassion… many will empathize automatically with them (when one actually went through it as well). Make them connect with your character, the best way that you can, then bring your character to a low point. Once you’re there, your readers will begin to have hope of a rise. Once YOU feel that way, drop your character into some deeper shit, where the only way out, IS, up…then you give him or her a triumphant rise.

Give your character issues (health, education, family, financial & morals), within the story itself. Make folks LOVE your character and write your narration, and most of your dialogue in correct English. Proper English. Everyone speaks different, but we understand what we read, and interpret it, the way that we talk. So a country nigga and a bitch from Boston can read the same story, & identify exactly the same understanding as the writer, from their experiences, but will actually be hearing it, in their own lingo.

Most importantly, appear to be tangible. Many authors are arrogant and seem surreal so readers look at them as fake & don’t want anything personally to do with them. That creates a barrier, a gap, or a form of distance, between reader & writer, yet the idea is to be on one accord, so the overall understanding of a story and the author behind it, is fundamental and very simple to connect. Be as friendly & sociable, literary wise, as possible. You never know what a simple smile, a wave, handshake or response to an email or inbox, can accomplish.

Be available & WILLING, to do signings. Every signing may not be advantageous, financially, but it can be filed as a learning experience, it can be deemed a rehearsal for future events, and it’s also a form of promotion. Folks may not have the money at that time but they’ll remember your presence and when they return and you aren’t there, they’ll purchase your material because you were kind. Be open minded and patient. Stay hopeful. Believe in yourself and your work. Forget anything negative that anyone has to say, be thankful for the compliments you receive, and be appreciative for any constructive criticism. Without it, we’ll never know where to improve!

Wow! What an incredible and generous interview. Thank you so much, Antoine ‘Inch’ Thomas.

Antoine ‘Inch’ Thomas was born and raised in the Bronx. He’s talented, impulsive, and a passionate writer who thrives on being creative. You can fallow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God’s Promises

It was about three years ago when I attended a Christian Writer’s Conference. I took a class taught by Cindy Sproles about how to write devotionals. I took many classes, but this particular class stood out for me the most. I guess it’s because Cindy is an amazing woman of God, and she taught with such love. She was also the one who introduced me to the concept of writing devotions using God’s promises.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

She told us to get “Our Daily Bread Promise Box“, which contains 240 promises from the Word of God. Cindy said for us to use this as an exercise and practice writing devotions.

I admit, I haven’t done this for a while, but this morning something tugged at me to go look in the box. I nearly cried because it read, “All things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” Matthew 21:22.

This Scripture is particular encouraging to me right now because this year has been challenging for me. With all the struggles I’ve been faced with, I kind of lost my way for a bit. But in the past couple of months, the Lord has wooed me back. I also have some amazing Godly friends who earnestly pray for me (you know who you are, thank you).

Last Friday, I had a spiritual breakthrough. I began the day with a meaningful telephone conversation with a friend of mine. It was deep and fruitful. We talked about the power of prayer. I don’t know why, but that conversation sparked something in me.

Then in the evening, I met up with a sister in Christ for dinner. She’s known me for years and has witnessed many chapters in my life. We hadn’t seen each other in over 2 years. But we always manage to pick up where we left off as if no time passed. God used her to remind me of who I am in Christ and all of His promises upon my life.

It was as if I had amnesia and forgot… but as she spoke, memories flooded back, reminding me of everything God has done throughout my life. Miracle upon miracle. I felt something break, and a peace come over me. A peace and assurance that I haven’t felt in quite some time.

I say all this to say, that no matter what you are facing or going through right now, no matter how deep the pain, no matter how lost you feel. God is with you, He is by your side, and He promises to never leave you or forsake you. I am a witness. So be encouraged today.

Please let me know how I can pray for you today. Leave your prayer requests in the comment section below.

Pilar Talks Books

Hi friends, welcome to a new segment I have created, in which I will be discussing and/or reviewing books on my YouTube channel.

So, instead of just reading my reviews, you will now be able to see me discuss books on a weekly basis.

Just to give you a brief summary, I read two books this week. One was an advanced copy of Caught Up by Shannon Holmes, courtesy of Akashic Books. And the other was 9: based on a true story by E. James.

The stories were different, but equally as good. I also included a shout out to Nikki from 9: based on a true story.

Thanks for watching this week’s segment of Pilar Talks Books. Have a great week.

Fakes, Frauds & Opportunists

I haven’t been in the urban genre circle for long. But in my short time, I’ve had certain people tell me to be careful, because not everyone in this business is your friend.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

What’s interesting is that these same people, who I believed had my best interest in mind and had my back, were the very ones who stabbed it.

It is a sad shame when people portray an image of themselves, only to find out they were frauds.

Some people come into your life with an agenda and that is, to use and exploit you. I call them opportunists. They study and watch you from the sidelines, to figure out what you can do to help them. They seek and prey upon good, selfless and giving people.

They will say anything to get you to do what they want, until they’ve exhausted their use of you. As soon as they believe you have nothing left to give or offer them, they no longer have any interest in you. They will act as if you never existed.

They are manipulators, schemers and users who only care about themselves. They are out for themselves and what they can get, even if it’s at your expense. They will use their words masterfully to convince and deceive you with their lies and deception.

They will smile to your face, but speak negatively about you behind your back. Thereby, turning others against you in the process.

This is what I’ve experienced recently, and it was a hard, painful, costly, but valuable lesson for me to learn. One of which opened my eyes to the reality that people aren’t always what they seem, appear or what you would like to believe. They put on a good front and hide behind their mask.

You are probably wondering how I wound up in the urban genre circle? Well, I’ve always enjoyed watching mafia and gangster movies since I was a teenager. I never knew about this genre until about approximately nine months ago. I enjoy the raw, real, grittiness of the writing.

I am not familiar with the streets or the game… this isn’t the world I was raised in or grew up around. I guess because of that, it always intrigued and fascinated me. But never did I fathom that I would fall prey or victim to it in the process of helping others.

What is the solution going forward? I’m not quite sure, but for one, I’m definitely going to be more careful and not be so trusting. Trust and respect is earned, not freely given. But, I am the type of person who genuinely seeks and wants to see the good in people, until they betray me. I’m not interested in being chewed up and spit out by the people in this business. I don’t want to become heartless or ruthless as a result of getting burned by selfish people. All I’m interested in is reading, reviewing books and promoting authors who I believe craft unique plots, interesting characters and, are great writers. That’s it.

All that other “stuff” doesn’t interest me. So I humbly request that those with their personal agendas stay as far away from me as possible, because I’m not in this genre or business to be used, abused or exploited by anyone who wishes to utilize my gifts and talents for their benefit. I’m a professional and I take my work and time seriously.

Have you had a similar experience?  How did you go about handling it?

Author Interview: Dutch

It began several months ago, when I wrote a letter to Dutch telling him how much I enjoyed reading his book, Above The Law.  Little did I know it would blossom into a beautiful friendship. I have a deep respect and admiration for him. Not only is he a phenomenal writer, he is a genius and wonderful person. I am blessed to know him and call him friend. It is with great pleasure to introduce to you, Kwame Teague, aka Dutch.

1. Where did you grow up? How was your childhood?

I was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey. Normal ghetto story, grew up too fast. DJ’d, stole cars and sold drugs. Cliché.

2. What is the most memorable event you experienced as a child?

When I was three, I ditched my babysitter and went to the store. Everybody thought I got abducted. I came back and got my ass whooped.

3. What was your dream?

To be Scarface (lol). Who else? I also wanted to go into politics and be president.

4. Do you remember a teacher encouraging you in school?

Yep. My third grade teacher, Ms. McGeorge. She’s the one who said I’d be president (she may’ve told us all this).

5. Who had the greatest influence on you growing up?

My Uncle Hakim (God bless the dead). He was cool and didn’t take no shit. He spoke six languages and when he died in his 80’s, he looked like he was 50.

6. When did you realize you were a writer?

When I was twelve. I wrote a story about selling drugs.

7. Were you into reading books as a child? What book stood out for you?

Yes, a lot! Still do. I think that is the most important thing for kids, reading. My favorite book is Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.

8. How were your teenage years?

I was selling drugs, State to State. Delaware, Baltimore, Virginia and North Carolina. I wasn’t a king pin, not even close, just young and wild.

9. Was Dutch your first book published?

No. Ghetto Sam is my first book.

10. What did it feel like to be a published author?

To be published gave me a sense of accomplishment.

11. How did it feel to become an award winning, critically acclaimed and Essence #1 best selling author?

To win awards kept me humble.

12. What is your philosophy in life?

Act as if you are right, but know you can be wrong.

13. What gets you through difficult times?

My belief in myself.

14. Who are some of your favorite authors?

Wahida Clark, Al-Saadiq Banks, Eyonne Williams, Stone Ramsey and DC BookDiva (who is just so damn sexy).

15. Besides being an incredibly gifted writer, and prolific author, you are currently fighting for your innocence. Can you share how that is going?

I’ve been incarcerated for twenty-one years, and trying to prove my innocence. I’m currently raising money for a top notch lawyer, but I need all the help I can get!

16. What do you believe constitutes good writing?

Good writing paints a picture, takes few words and makes you think.

17. How did you become the talented writer that you are?

Working hard and eating Wheaties. No really, I love life, so I see the beauty and the ugliness in it.

18. What did you do to hone your skills?

Live, love and learn.

19. What is your principle goal when you began penning books?

To make you think, challenge what you think and make you wet…

20. What is your writing process?

Listen to music and then ask what if…

21. Do you use an outline?

Very rarely.

22. Do you write every day or only when you are inspired?

I write ten pages a day.

23. How long does it take you to write a book?

Thirty days on average.

24. How did you develop the confidence as a writer?

Because I’m confident as a man.

25. What is your vision?

To be free and free minds along the way.

26. Was there a particular book that you enjoyed writing the most?

Good question… I have a book called God that I haven’t released yet. God is my favorite.

27. Lastly, what would you tell a novice writer coming up in the industry? What advice would you give them?

Build your brand and open up the overseas market! The American market is saturated.

Bio: Hailing from Newark, New Jersey, Kwame Teague is the award winning, critically acclaimed, and Essence #1 bestselling author of the street classic Dutch trilogy. His other novels include Above The Law, the Dynasty trilogy, ? (pronounced Que), The Adventures of Ghetto Sam and the Glory of My Demise and Thug Politics under the pseudonym Dutch. With a passion for writing, Kwame is hard at work on his next novel.

Author Interview: Treasure E. Blue

It’s an honor to have had the opportunity to interview this prolific author. He is such a gifted writer. I’m enamored by him. I love his heart, authenticity, transparency and humility. I am grateful he was willing to do this interview with me. Besides being an talented writer, he is an amazing person too. Without further ado, I present to you, Treasure Blue.

1) What was your childhood like?

It was adventurous, me being the youngest of four. Didn’t really know bad, until the foundation of my family fell apart after my mother became afflicted with mental illness, alcoholism and a few tragic events. After that, sadly, it became one big horror show. I was eleven.

2) What was your childhood dream?

To have peace, have a family and lasting happiness. Didn’t necessary turn out that way, but still try.

3) Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

No. I started very late. I always been above average with words, verbally, but I was an excellent liar. All one the same if you ask me. It started when I joined the military at 17, many of my fellow soldiers didn’t know how to express their sentiments/loneliness/feelings to their loved ones back home and would ask for my help. I ended up writing and embellishing their entire letters, and me being an opportunist, I began to charge them per letter – ten dollars a pop. I must have proposed to at least two dozen of their girlfriends for them. Lol.

4) When did it become a reality for you?

After years of people telling me I had a gift, and should explore it as a career.

5) What helped you develop as a writer?

Reading. Period!

6) Were you always a reader?

My mother was a public school teacher and a great disciplinary. I was a rather rambunctious young lad that stayed into trouble, and would always get beatings because of my youthful transgressions. So, by 13, she realized it was to no avail, so she switched tactics by putting me on a punishment. No going outside to play with my friends, no company, and I had to read an entire novel, and write a detailed essay on the story. When I tell you that was ten times worse than a beating, it was. It was no way around no how much I tried to get around, so I read. Thing was, and unexpectedly, I began to fall head over heels for stories, reading. I became intoxicated.

7) What books influenced you and your writing?

The Count of Monte Crisco by Alexandre Dumas. My first full read from punishment from my mother. The heavens opened up for me.

8) What are some of your favorite authors or books?

James Baldwin, George Orwell, Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, James Patterson, Walter Mosley, Donald Goines, Stephen King, just to name a few.

9) Do you find writing to be therapeutic?

In the beginning, yes, today, not really, because it became business, and business is work.

10) How did you develop confidence as a writer?

I started my writing career as a screenwriter, so I guess I removed all doubt and became confident in my writing by beating out and pitted against dozens of other wannabe writers in a contest I entered and won in New York City’s West Village. I was way advance than them after reading their work. After I won the Blue Ribbon, I believed.

11) How did Harlem Girl Lost come about?

I went back to college at John Jay University in Manhattan, and our professor said that an author was having a speaking engagement in the school and were serving food and drinks. I was hungry and struggling with child support and finances back then, well, I think I was homeless too, so I heard food, so I went down there after I finished the test. That author wound up being Shannon Holmes. I was impressed and honestly didn’t know urban fiction made a comeback. Long story short, I bought and read his novel B-MORE CAREFUL and loved it and felt I could write far better. I read the book in one day, the next day after that, I began writing Harlem Girl Lost.

12) How did Random House pick it up?

I became avidly into publishing and committed to it fully. It was all or nothing and I gave up EVERYTHING, my job, women, partying, drugs, alcohol, and to a certain extent, my own children. I ended up selling 65,000 paperback copies of Harlem Girl Lost and it was everywhere, breaking all kinds of records, ringing many bells. I hooked up with the best agent in the business Tracy Sherrod, the same person who presented the world to The Coldest Winter Ever, Sister Soulja. It was a bidding war with about six major and mid publishing houses and Random House won.

13) How do your ideas come?

Unfortunately, my mind doesn’t shut down, even when I’m sleeping I’m thinking, processing, and plotting. Hence why I’m so eccentric at times.

14) What is your writing process, routine or ritual?

When I’m under contract, all the above, when it’s for me, and just me, I do it when and how I feel like it.

15) Do you use an outline?

Sometimes.

16) How long does it take you to write a novel?

Under contract or under deadline, very fast. I want to get to the money.

17) What is your goal as a writer?

I’ve reached many goals that I could ever imagine. I’m satisfied. I’m actually ready to begin the next chapter in my life. Real estate. I think I lost the allure of writing and publishing these days.

18) What do you want to communicate to your readers?

I do not merely want you to read my stories, my goal is to make you feel my stories.

19) What do you think makes you a better writer?

I do not, and I’ll repeat do not write from my head, I write from my heart.

20) Who was you biggest influence in life?

My mother and father.

21) What is your worldview?

Be confident in your own skin at all times. But that comes with growth.

22) What do you want your readers to get from your books?

Reality. Life on life’s terms. You will always be as sick as your secrets. Expose them with someone you trust, or it will poison your future.

23) Talk to us about your other books, i.e., A Street Girl Named Desire, Fly Betty… how did they come about?

Painful memories of my past and others I knew.

24) Do you ever speak to the youth?

Always. This is the reason that I write in the first place.

25) Lastly, what advice would you give a novice writer?

If you’re writing for money, instead of the passion……. YOU FAIL. Thank you for having me.

Thank you, Treasure Blue. It was an honor having you.

Many have called Treasure E. Blue the reincarnated Donald Goines. This prolific author without doubt is one of the most shocking and controversial writers that we have seen in decades. Blue’s background is as almost as compelling as his mouth-dropping debut novel entitled “Harlem Girl Lost”. Using the streets as a means of survival, he soon found himself involved with some of Harlem’s most notorious elements. Retiring from the game at the tender age of sixteen, Blue, who dropped out of High School after being banned from the entire Board of Education system, in New York City, managed to become one of the youngest people to receive his G.E.D. in New York State. Joining the military at seventeen, he developed a voracious appetite for books going on to read well over 2000 novels. After serving his country honorably, he joined the New York City Fire Department and worked as a Supervising Fire Inspector in the Bronx. Blue is a father of 4 and won praise for his screenwriting skills. He is also an active member of the American Studies Association. Blue has an uncanny way of not only telling a story, he makes you feel it emotionally as well.

Dynasty by Dutch

Paperback: 245 pages
Publisher: DC Bookdiva Publications
ISBN-10: 0578029464
ISBN-13: 978-0578029467
Price: $15.00
Purchase: DC BookDiva Publications | Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description

National Bestselling Author Dutch debut’s “Dynasty”, the first urban soap opera! The Bells and Simmons are family. The Bells, a crime family in New York, have the cocaine market on lock. The Simmons, hailing from the South, reign supreme in heroin. Talks of joining forces are suddenly stalled when family patriarch Guy Simmons is gunned down. Suspicions fly. Jealousy breeds. The body count rises. Guy Simmons has created a legacy he wants to pass on to his two sons, Kevin and Tyquan. However, his womanizing ways have spilled over and jeopardizes all he’s worked for. The mothers of his sons hate each other. Like mother, like son. Guy s shooting has ignited a new brotherly beef; a beef that could have deadly repercussions, especially when you have a family where the enemy may lie within.

Review

This is the second book I’ve read by Dutch. I believe he is an excellent writer and storyteller.

Dynasty is rich with intrigue and drama, containing some interesting twists which will surprise you.

Dutch draws you in immediately from the start, and you won’t want to put the book down. His characters are rich and vibrant, the story is detailed and believable. He is a gifted writer, who has an uncanny ability to teach as well as entertain you.

Dynasty is about two families, the Bells and the Simmons, but centers around the main protagonist, Guy Simmons. The surprises that are set off as a result of Guy’s decisions will have you reeling.

All in all, Dynasty is a fabulous read. I highly recommend it and can’t wait to read the sequel, Dynasty II.

Hailing from Newark, New Jersey, Dutch is the award winning, critically acclaimed, and Essence #1 bestselling author of the street classic Dutch trilogy. His other novels include The Adventures of Ghetto Sam and the Glory of My Demise and Thug Politics under the pseudonym Dutch. With a passion for writing, Dutch is hard at work on his next novel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Art of Disguise

Sometimes I think life is one big masquerade. Everyone is playing a different character and acting out their prospective roles. Some have mastered the art of disguise better than others.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

Some people are good at projecting an image, by dressing a certain way, splashing on cologne, wearing designer sun glasses, and driving nice cars.

They look successful on the outside; flashing their pearly whites evidenced by their barrage of selfies on social media.

However, nothing can disguise a tormented soul, a troubled mind, a broken heart, or the scars of an abusive past. The perpetual pain they live with day after day, hoping, longing and praying for it to go away.

They don’t want their secret being known. So they disguise their pain and shame for fear of being found out. They want to maintain their image by appearing to have it all together.

Those preserving their image, are the ones that are the loneliest and most isolated and disconnected because they avoid, hide, mask and disguise their pain, instead of facing it.

If they would risk being vulnerable, they would be surprised to see they are not alone, and that many walking around are in the same predicament.

Life has a way of bringing us to a point where the truth reveals itself, no matter how much you try to hide behind make up, jewelry, clothes or perfume.

You can only hide for so long, before the stench of what is shattered and broken inside manifests. It’s best to address it and heal from that which is provoking you to adopt the art of disguise before it wreaks havoc upon your life.

Are you hiding behind a mask, or an image you want to portray to everyone around you? Are you playing a role, but hurting inside? Let’s talk about it in the comment section below.

Author Interview: Novelist Blacc Topp

Every now and then, you come across someone who is unique and special. I have had the pleasure of discovering this talented and creative author a few months ago. I began reading his first book, The Hustle Chronicles and was hooked ever since. I can’t get enough of his writing. I devoured all of his books.

Besides being an amazing and gifted writer, he is one of the hardest workers I know. When you read what his typical day looks like, you will respect his grind. It is an honor to introduce to you, Novelist Blacc Topp.

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1) Tell us a little bit about yourself? Where did you grow up? What was your childhood like?

My name is Blacc Topp and I grew up on the south side of Dallas Texas in a neighborhood called Dixon Circle. My childhood was ideal until my father lost his job at Boeing Aircraft and that’s when things got rough. We went from a three bedroom two story house to living in the back of a laundromat bathing from a mop sink.

2) Were you always a reader? What kind of books did you read?

I started really losing myself in books when I was about 8 years old. I started out reading the newspaper with my father, helping him to sound out words. He only had a third grade education so we were learning together, you know? My first real book treat was the Fat Albert and the Gang collection that my father bought for me at a yard sale.

3) Can you remember when you first knew you wanted to be a writer?

Not really. I don’t think I ever really thought about it until I started penning it. My mother had dropped a book and I kind of got bitten by that bug but, never pursued it.

4) Was there a major life changing event that catapulted you to write?

After my mother passed, I was doing some digging and found some things that made me want to put it on paper. There were literally hundreds of letters that I’d written to her over the course of my incarceration and also journals from my teenaged years.

5) Were there any writers you read who influenced you and why?

I don’t think that any writers really influenced me. I think I admired some writer’s work but, not enough to influence my style one way or another.

6) What are some of your favorite authors and books?

Whoreson by Donald Goines, Pimp The Story of My Life by Iceberg Slim, The Falconhurst series by Kyle Onstott, almost anything by Stephen King, Sydney Sheldon and Walter Moseley. The list goes on and on.

7) Do you have a favorite genre?

No. I just like good, tight, cohesive writing.

8) Who were your biggest influences in life?

My father probably influenced me more than anyone. As I stated before he only had a third grade education but, he was a genius. He could pull a motor apart and put it back together again. He would literally work from sun up to sun down trying to put us in a better position.

9) Did you have any teachers who encouraged you to write?

My 9th grade English teacher Mrs. Van Hooks always encouraged her students. She was a great teacher.

10) Did you always know you were a fiction writer?

Well, coming from a background in music, we wrote our songs with a sort of fictional flare. In a song, you only had four minutes to tell a story. In literature, you have 70,000 plus words, so it was a win win for me.

11) What does your typical day look like?

I’m out of bed by 4am, at the gym by 4:30am, work out until 6am, shower, on the clock at my job by 7am. I work there until 5:30pm. I’m back home by 6:30pm. I shower, kick it with my wife and kids until 8:30 or 9 when they go to bed and then I write from 9pm until midnight or 1am. All the while I am marketing and promoting for current and future projects. Go to sleep and then it’s back to the same routine again.

12) What is your writing process and practice?

I prefer to wait on my mojo. I see people write articles saying that the best way to become good or great is to write everyday no matter how you feel. To me that leads to fluff. If you write when you really have something to say then it’s effortless.

13) Do you prefer to write out your novels in longhand or by computer?

It depends. When I’m at home I prefer the computer but, when I’m at work I generally write in longhand and transfer it to the computer later.

14) Are you particular about the type of notebook and pen you use to write with?

Notebooks are either 1 subject spiral or legal pads. I only write with fine point felt tip pens though.

15) How long does it take for you to write a novel?

It really depends on the extent of the research that I have to put into a particular book. On any given day I log between 1,000 and 3,000 words. So if it was absolutely necessary I could bang out a full length novel in 60 days, but I never rush myself.

16) How do you come up with the ideas to write about in your books?

Most of the stories that I come up with are from personal experience or bits and pieces of characters milling around in my head.

17) When did you decide to write The Hustle Chronicles series?

The Hustle Chronicles came about from trying to escape the pain of losing my mother. I tried to think whether I had ever been a good son and I started writing the Chronicles as a way of recollecting.

18) How did Tainted and Tainted Too begin? Was it a character, or a particular image?

Tainted began by remembering what a friend from my neighborhood had gone through and Tainted Too was just a continuation of that story with my own twist on it.

19) How did Corporate Amerikkka come about?

Without going into specifics, I went through a similar situation a few years back. I decided against retaliating the way that I was expected to and decided to let the courts handle it. In Corporate Amerikkka, Tristan took it to another level you know? Showed the powers that be that violence only begets more violence.

20) Which books were your favorite to write?

All of them. I immensely enjoy the entire process of building characters and bringing them to life.

21) What project are you working on now?

I’m currently working on two projects simultaneously, the third installment to Tainted and the prequel to The Hustle Chronicles called Gage.

22) What do you believe constitutes good writing?

I think good writing isn’t mechanical you know? It’s organic, it flows naturally and you feel it. Good fleshed out characters in believable situations.

23) How does one become a good writer?

That’s a question that I don’t believe I’m qualified to answer. I actually think good writers are born not made.

24) What is your goal as a writer? What do you want to convey to your readers?

I want my readers to expect quality from me because they know that I’ll deliver. I want to be your favorite author’s favorite author. I want the name Blacc Topp to sit on the tongues and coffee tables of every reader in the United States.

25) Where do you see yourself in ten years?

In ten years I’ll be the most successful and sought after African American author in recent history.

26) I’ve read all of your books and can see them becoming movies? Is this something you would be interested in?

I write from the perspective of movies. Meaning if I can’t visualize a particular scene in my head I’ll scrap it. So I suppose I would really love to see my novels make it to the big screen.

27) Lastly, what advice would you give a novice writer?

Write until your fingers bleed, find a lane and stay in it, mind your own business, write from the gut and follow your heart. If you can’t read your own work and enjoy, then it’s possible that no one else will either. Go hard or go home and write on!!!

*       *       *       *       *

Thank you for this wonderful interview, Novelist Blacc Topp. I look forward to reading more of your magnificent work.

Please be sure to order his books at www.novelistblacctopp.com. You can also follow Blacc Topp on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

Why Affairs Happen

You see it all around you, in commercials, advertisements, billboards, movies and books. Everyone is looking for love.

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We search here, there and everywhere for the “one”, the one who will complete us, and finish our sentences.

I am one of those people who searched for love her entire life, only to find myself in jacked up situations. Instead of finding love, I got a whole bunch of other stuff I didn’t want.

What is it that we long for? What is it that we want? This proverbial love we all desire, seems elusive and out of reach.

You would think that when you get married this tug or yearning would go away, but it doesn’t.

Why do you think romance novels do so well? Most of the readers are married women. This should tell you something.

You meet someone, you fall in love, you get married, you have children and then all of a sudden, you wake up to find… where did the love go?

I don’t know about you, but when I look back over the course of my life and the various relationships I’ve had, I see the same pattern repeat itself.

In the beginning, everything is fresh, new, and exciting. Slowly, but surely, the excitement dwindles down to nothing and you are left with the usual monotony.

This is when affairs happen. But, what people fail to realize is that affairs are never a solution, they only complicate matters, and destroy lives.

Think about it a minute… you are in a miserable marriage, you meet someone and connect with them, you start messing around to get what you think you need, only to find out that what you need doesn’t come packaged in a human being.

No, unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. There is no quick fix solution in filling the void and emptiness you feel.

I’m not religious, so I won’t ever preach to you, but I can tell you this… God is the only one who can get into the crevices of our hearts and give us the love we long for.  No human being will ever be able to do it because we are broken and imperfect.

In the short term, you may think you are getting your needs met or your desires fulfilled, but in time, the illusion lifts and you see the truth for what it is. Affairs become routine and monotonous too, so instead of having one problem, you’ll have two.

So if you are contemplating a quick fix to your misery, do yourself a favor and think twice before indulging.

Have you ever contemplated having an affair? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Be Original

This generation seems focused on being someone other than themselves. I don’t know if it’s movies, music, social media or all of the above. But people want to be someone they aren’t, instead of being original.

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Yes, I am aware of the fact that there is a risk involved in being “yourself”. But why would anyone want to be a carbon copy of someone else?

God created us in His own image. He knit us in our mother’s womb. He made us an original, not a duplicate. There is no other human being on earth like us. That’s powerful.

But, instead of basking in this truth, we try to emulate others.

I’m not going to lie, I’ve struggled with this in certain respects. In that, I was always different. So I struggled with wanting to fit in and be like everyone else, so I wouldn’t stand out.

However, now that I’m older, I see that God didn’t create me to fit in or be like everyone else. He made me different for a reason. He created me to be exactly the way I am, an original.

Artists don’t look at the world around them in the same way as others, which makes them creative. We have our own slant on things, which makes us unique.

There is beauty in uniqueness, and in not being like others. Originality and creativity are attractive qualities to possess. But it takes courage to allow ourselves to be who we truly are.

Think about it? What would it be like if every butterfly you saw looked exactly the same? Wouldn’t that be boring?

Well, the same goes for humans; variety makes life interesting and diverse.

We need to embrace ourselves, and even accept our imperfections, because even our imperfections are unique and original.

Part of living on earth is discovering who we are, what our divine calling, destiny and purpose is. So as we are in the discovery phase, we should allow ourselves to express our unique flair or signature in whatever we do.

We can’t look at what others are doing better than us or more successfully. We have to focus in on honing our own skills, gifts, talents, and all of which encompasses who we are. The discovery process won’t happen if we are too busy comparing ourselves to others around us.

Everyone has their own lane. Take the time to discover yours and be original.

Do you struggle with being you? Do you find yourself becoming discouraged because you compare yourself to others and how well they are doing in comparison to you?