Category Archives: blogging

An Open Letter To the Industry from Kwame Teague (Author Dutch)

I’m not one to publicly disclose my personal associations. However, I thought it imperative to make an introduction prior to publishing this open letter. I have been in contact with Kwame for quite some time now and we have become close friends. I’ve been able to benefit from his brilliant mind and visionary concepts, especially when it comes to the urban literature industry. I have come to respect him a great deal. I truly believe and am in support with what he is presenting in his open letter. I hope you do too.

 

A Letter to the Industry by Kwame Teague

To my brother and sisters of Urban Lit,

I salute  you, I salute us. Here’s to our tenacity, our drive, our passion, our hunger, our HUSTLE. Together we have taken this street lit to another level. In just over ten years, we’ve created a MULTI MILLION dollar industry… for everyone else, but ourselves.

Take it from someone who was here from the beginning, day one, one of the first born so to speak. Like Hip Hop started in the basement, we started in the trunk, car trunks, selling our joints hand to hand until we created a buzz, and this buzz blew! Before you knew it, everywhere you looked, someone was reading a street joint.

But then the majors heard about us, the big publishing houses, the MAINSTREAM, and they cut checks, big checks, six figure checks, and we thought we had it made, we thought we had arrived.

But there was a catch.

You see, the majors didn’t step in because they were feelin’ our vibe. They saw us as a THREAT. We were upstart independents, making the game bend for us. We had proved we didn’t need them. We had our own publishers, our own distributors, our own blooming industry, and they said, “We have to stop this!

It wasn’t racism, it wasn’t a conspiracy, it was just good ol’ American business. Because those six figure checks weren’t for book deals. No. They were buying our shelf space, our real estate! They signed the best sellers, took the space, then fell back. Genius. Now, of course, we didn’t see it then, some of us still won’t see it now, but just because we can’t see the sun rise over China, doesn’t mean it won’t shine.

We got played.

But, the question is… Where do we go from here?

Now… this part of this letter isn’t for my brothers or sisters of urban lit, it’s for my brothers and sisters of like minds. The Gods and Goddesses who know how to create, and once awakened, we never sleep again. If this is above your head, I still love you, but run along, this is grown folk bizness.

Again, where do we go from here?

I don’t have all the answers, but we do. We need to come together A.S.A.P., combine forces, let go of the petty jealousies and squabbles and figure out how to get the millions back that we created! Because if we don’t, we’re going to die a slow death by a thousand cuts or suffocate because our one market has become a gas chamber. We must come together. The milk industry did it. The movie industry did it. The mainstream publishers did it. Why can’t we?

If you feel like I feel and think like I think, then hit me: Kwame J. Teague #0401897 P.O. Box 600 Nashville, NC 27856 or email me at dutchthegame @ gmail.com. Let’s form a voltran and take back our millions!

I love y’all.

Peace.

At A Crossroad

Have you ever found yourself sitting back and evaluating your life? Well, this year has been one of those for me, as I find myself at a crossroad.

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Crossroads aren’t necessarily a bad thing. Yes, they make us feel uncomfortable and force us to face the unknown. But, none of us knows what lies ahead, life is one big leap of faith anyway.

Growing pains never feel good, neither does facing the truth about yourself and the choices you’ve made that have lead you to where you are today.

Let’s face it, we all want easy, simple, and less complicated. However, life will never hand us a box of chocolate covered strawberries neatly tied with a bow on top. I’ve learned that things will get messy before they get better.

So what do you do in the meantime?

For one, don’t run. Running won’t solve anything. Sit with your feelings, look at it for what it is, analyze why you are where you are, and if there is something you can do differently not to repeat the same pattern.

Second, get help. It’s okay to seek counseling when life feels overwhelming. Some people may not admit it to you, but everyone goes through rough patches in life. None of us are exempt from difficult or hard times.

I can’t tell you how much the rooms have helped me throughout my life. It’s a gift when you are afforded the opportunity to learn about yourself and receive unbiased support.

Pain is a signal, a sign for you to pay closer attention. Be brave and courageous. Face it. Delve into those areas that hurt the most. Don’t be afraid. You’ll be surprised at what you discover, and how free you’ll feel as a result.

Do you find yourself at a crossroad today? If so, how are you coping or dealing with it. Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Are you coming to the online event of the year?

The Self-Publishing Success Summit starts MONDAY — are you going?

Here’s the scoop, in case you missed it:

Over the past few months, my friend Chandler Bolt gathered 35+ world-famous authors & entrepreneurs for a one-time-only online event.

And you can get in for free:

https://xe172.isrefer.com/go/spss/pilar/

The list of speakers keeps growing.

So far it’s Brian Tracy, Jeff Goins, Joanna Penn, Michael Port, Hal Elrod, Russell Brunson, Ryan Deiss, Joseph Michael, James Clear, Pat Flynn, Charlie Hoehn, Ty Cohen, Nick Loper, Jaime Tardy, Hollis Carter, and over 20 more top entrepreneurs and bestselling authors.

If you want to become a bestselling author — and use your book to build your brand, following, or 6-figure business — you don’t want to miss this.

But get your ticket fast.

Because after the event, the only way to catch these speakers is to buy the All-Access Priority Pass — which costs $297.

So hurry and get your free ticket now (takes 10 seconds).

https://xe172.isrefer.com/go/spss/pilar/

Pilar Arsenec

P.S. I can only hold your spot for a few more days, so get your ticket now.

https://xe172.isrefer.com/go/spss/pilar/

This Quiet Madness

Have you ever wanted to give up? You look around you and everything looks grey? A sense of hopelessness envelopes you, that you can’t seem to shake it off?

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Well, you are not alone. Throughout my life, I have struggled with the torment composed of invisible scars. I’ve danced to the same tune more times than I care to admit.

It’s a combination of hopelessness, worthlessness and despair rolled into one. Unless someone goes through it, they won’t understand. So it’s like you are walking through life, on the outside looking in. Disconnected, disoriented, and in a bubble.

I get it, I do. You wonder when you will ever feel “normal”? Whatever normal is. You try hard to mask the gnawing pain with a smile. Sometimes someone will *see* and a wave of shame will come over you. Pushing you to hide, avoid and isolate even more.

This quiet madness is as real as real can be. No one knows how you truly feel or what you are going through. These invisible whips and chains torture you daily.

The incessant voices inside your head telling you, you don’t matter. You are worthless, you have no value, and you are failure.

Yes, yes… I know all too well what this is about. I’m living it right now.

Are you surprised? Don’t be. Most people don’t know the road I’ve been on, or the suffering and pain I’ve endured.

These invisible scars are hidden from the naked eye, but this silent disability is alive and well. It frames my life, and experiences.

I long for the day where I can truly be free. I envision the day where I can fly. Where I won’t be subjected to people’s opinions, or criticisms. Where I can be me and accepted and loved unconditionally for who I am without judgment. Or perhaps reach the point, where it won’t matter anymore.

This journey of mine has been a long and hard one. There have been times I have wanted to give up. But as hard as it is, by the grace of God, I continue on. I am grateful for the praying friends God has graciously placed in my life who know of my internal struggle.

I am writing this post today for those of you who may be struggling too. Depression and anxiety are real. It’s considered a disability. Please join me in trying not to beat yourself up. Know that you are not alone, that God is with you and somehow, someway, you will heal and overcome. Be encouraged even in the midst of the storm. God promised to never leave or forsake you. I’m gripping on to that word for dear life. I hope you will too.

If you are struggling, please let me know in the comment section below. You are not alone. Let’s pray for one another. There is power in prayer and community.

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.

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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.

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.

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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?

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.

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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.

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?

 

The Stigma of Shame

I have been doing a study on shame. It’s been something I have been avoiding to delve into for quite some time. Why? Well, who really wants to start digging up old doo-doo.

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Shame is one of those things you would rather just hide, ignore or bury, than have to face or look at. Shame is much more pervasive than guilt.

The stigma of shame is something humanity struggles with, if some realize it or not. We all mask it differently. God forbid we feel naked or exposed… that will only bring about more feelings of shame.

Some people think it is guilt they are feeling or struggling with, when in actuality it is shame. Shame is deeper and stems from messages you were told as a child. Shame is connected with self loathing and disgust of one self.

Those who have suffered from sexual abuse, carry the stigma of shame in its most palatable form.

So what do we do once we know that shame is pretty much controlling and navigating our existence? Well, we delve right into the abyss and unravel its mysteries.

There is a passage of Scripture that I always identified with, the story of the man with a withered hand. (Mark 3:3) This man walked around hiding his hand, until Jesus who had compassion, healed him on the Sabbath. He told him to stretch forth his hand and he was instantly healed.

Sometimes we have to risk exposure in order to heal. Yes, it is humiliating at first, just as it was for the man with the shriveled hand. He had to expose it in front of everyone in the Synagogue. He had to demonstrate courage to overcome his shame and allow Jesus to heal him.

It’s sort of like the pus of an infection, if you keep covering it, it will only get worse. You have to expose and clean it, in order for it to heal. Same applies to the inner infection of shame.

If you struggle with shame, know that you aren’t alone. If you desire to heal, then you must be willing to risk and face the Goliath in your life. Once you do, you will experience freedom. This is something I’m striving for and want in my life.

Do you struggle from shame? When was  your earliest recollection?

Do You Feel Empty?

Are you thirsting for something more? Is there an ache in your soul? A restlessness? A sense of something missing?


I have read the Bible and there is much to be gleaned from it, but the one thing that always stands out for me is how Jesus treated women.

Like the Samaritan woman at the well, for instance. Jesus asked her for a drink of water. She responded “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus didn’t allow social customs or barriers to stop him.

What comes after astounds me. Please read it for yourself:

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,  but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

“I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” (John 4)

Jesus did not judge her. He did not criticize her. He did not throw anything in her face or use what He knew against her.

Here is another example, the woman caught in adultery.

At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them.  The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.  In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”  Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.  Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

 “No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8)

Again, Jesus did not judge or condemn her. Time and time again, I see Jesus’ unfathomable love and compassion poured out to women.

It comforts me to know, that no matter how sinful, dirty, broken and bruised we are… we can always come to Him and He won’t reject us.

If we lived in this world long enough, we are broken in some way. We have a void. We are all chasing after something, thinking that it will somehow satisfy us or fill the emptiness in our hearts. But, it never does.

I’m not religious. I believe in Jesus. I believe He died for sinful me. I believe He loves me when I don’t even know how to love myself. My faith in Him is what has gotten me through every crazy storm in my life. If it wasn’t for His grace and unconditional love, I don’t know where I would be today.

I don’t have the answers, but this I know… nothing and no one in this life will satisfy your inner longings. You can chase for an entire lifetime, thinking success, money, fame, etc… will fill the emptiness. But only God has the ability to do that.

Do you feel like you have been chasing after things because you feel like something is missing in your life?