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Author Interview: Raynesha Pittman

 

I first met Raynesha Pittman on Facebook. I watched her from afar and was impressed by what I saw. Fate had it that we would connect, and when we did, it was if we knew each other all our lives. I am extremely proud of this talented young lady and believe this is just the tip of the iceberg of her successful literary career. It is my pleasure to introduce to you, Raynesha.

1) Where did you grow up? Did you have a good childhood?

I grew up on the east side of Los Angeles in a area known as the Low Bottoms. Now at thirty-three years old, looking back, my childhood was okay. If you would have asked me this sixteen years ago, I’m sure the answer would have definitely been different. Growth of the mind does change the memories.

2) Did you always want to be a writer?

I have always written to express myself or to entertain my friends. Writing wasn’t the shocker, but being published….now that was the shock.

3) Who was your greatest influence in your life?

My father and maternal grandmother. My father was not the ideal role model or law abiding citizen, but he was my dad. The life lessons he thought me are held near and dear. And my maternal grandmother is the reason why I am not a female version of my father.

4) What motivates you?

I was raised by two street hustlers, so being a go-getter was ingrained in me at an early age. But when that self-motivation begins to run low, my family immediately gives me a refill. I look at my babies faces, and watch my husband work two full-time jobs, so I can stay home to write. I also watch my mother fight her battle with Lupus with so much strength and determination that it recharges me. My family is my largest motivation.

5) Who are some of your favorite authors and what are some of your all-time favorite books?

My list of favorites is long, but John Grisham is number one. I love all of his work that I have read, but there’s something about The Rainmaker that makes me read it at least once a year.

6) Was there a book that changed your life after you read it?

No, not really. I’ve read a lot of eye openers that brought light to issues I’ve faced or a few to bring me to tears, but nothing powerful enough to excite change.

7) What was your experience like self-publishing your first book, Kismet?

Self-publishing was a headache and wasn’t the route I originally wanted to take. When the publisher I initially submitted it to fell through on promises, my alternative was to publish the work on my own. The rainbow that followed that storm was that the publisher walked me through self-publishing. And with a phone call to K’wan for more information, I was able to put it out myself.

8) What are some of the valuable lessons you learned by writing and publishing your first book?

Editing is key!

9) If you had to do it over again, what would you do differently?

I’d definitely hire a professional editor and a couple of proofreaders. I entered the industry trusting everything I heard and it was a very expensive mistake.

10) How have you honed your craft?

I research more and I don’t attempt to publish everything I write. A lot of what I write are skill builders. I take my non-fictional day and turn it into fiction or a medication commercial turns into a story using the side effects. It keeps my creativity going. I’m also in a lot of writer’s groups and I take lots of notes.

11) How did you go from being a self-published author to signing with Write 2 East Concepts? How did that come about?

When I reached out to K’wan in 2010, he wasn’t taking submissions. In 2011, he opened them up briefly, but my writing wasn’t where it needed to be to get signed by him. In 2013, he reached out to me and asked me if I was still writing because he hadn’t seen me mention it. I said yes. He told me to submit a story and the rest is history. He released Dog Food in July of 2014 and Dog Food 2 May of 2015. It still feels like a dream to me!

12) Do you have a writing routine and do you write every day?

No, I do not, but I do write daily when and wherever I am. With eight other people in the house having a real routine would be perfect, but with six of those eight being busy children who need me constantly, I write when I can steal time from them.

13) How do your ideas come for your books?

Life’s seasons and reasons. Everything that catches the attention of my six senses is a story waiting for me to tell.

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

It depends on what is going on around me. I’ve written one in three weeks and the longest was three months. It really depends on how much time I can sneak away from my responsibilities to my family. Even with pulling all nighters, there’s never enough hours in a day.

15) What are some of your goals you would like to accomplish in the years ahead?

My biggest goals are to be signed by a major publishing house and get my books on the shelf EVERYWHERE! I’m working hard to be able to cross those goals off my list so I can make new ones that are even larger.

16) What is the hardest thing about writing and publishing?

Writing isn’t hard when you love to do it. My issue with self-publishing is that I don’t have a marketing team or a promotion staff doing my leg work. I’m a one woman team and if I don’t do it, it doesn’t get done.

17) What would you like to see different in the industry?

The crab in the barrel mentally needs to be done away with. It’s easier to uplift than to breakdown. Hopefully, we will all realize this one day.

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

I write in different genres but as a whole, a new understanding or view on the issues I touch on. If I wrote to entertain then I hope the book accomplished that goal.

19) Lastly, what advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Study your craft, read contracts before signing them and if you don’t understand the lingo, get a lawyer. Finally, never let anyone stop you from living your dreams. Giving up should NEVER be an option!

Thank you, Raynesha. It was a pleasure to interview you!

Raynesha Pittman grew up as one of Los Angele’s many troubled youth which led her into serving four years around Los Angeles juvenile corrections centers, placements, and camps. She first recognized her love for writing while incarcerated. Her first manuscript was written to her mother in hopes of giving her insight to what Raynesha was going through as a teen, but never published. One positive thing Raynesha had during her troubled years was book smarts, her ticket out of the hands of correctional facilities. She was an honors student since kindergarten, certified gifted in the third grade, and was sent to Woodland Hills, California for a more challenging education, yet she had to be placed in advance placement classes there too. Her temper and fighting had her removed from the enriched schools, but that didn’t stop her. She graduated high school at sixteen years old and received acceptance letters to five out-of-state universities which she later declined offers to due to still being on probation until eighteen years of age and not being able to leave the state. California State University at Los Angeles and Northridge accepted her last minute application with open arms. After attending school for a little over a semester she discovered she was pregnant and decided to put her role as a mother first. She moved to Tennessee for a new start with her boys and received her PTCB national certification in July 2010 after three and a half years of being a licensed Pharmacy technician. It was while working in a pharmacy, she met Michael Antonio of Payne Publishing, Inc., who encouraged her to write a book. She took his opinion to heart and wrote her debut novel, KismetRaynesha currently lives in Tennessee with her husband and their six children.

Raynesha Pittman is the CEO, Founder and a author at Conglomerate Ink, an Urban Literature publishing company established November 2010 to help authors expose and share their talents of storytelling while developing discipline in their craft. In May 2011, Raynesha was offered the opportunity to help promote literacy nationwide by childhood friend, author and now publisher Terry L. Wroten by joining the West Coast Authors Movement also known as W-CAM where Raynesha not only fills the position of an author on the team, but is also over website design and management and acts as W-CAM’s Southern liaison due to her living in the South. Her greatest literary achievement came in January 2014 when she was signed to Write2Eat Publishing under the legendary K’wan Foye.

You can follow Raynesha Pittman on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Book Review: The Vanishing Act by Mette Jakobsen

Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher:  W. W. Norton & Company (September 17, 2012)
Language:  English
ISBN-10:0393062929
ISBN-13:978-0393062922
Price: $23.95
Purchase: Amazon | B&N

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description

On a small snow-covered island—so tiny that it can’t be found on any map—lives twelve-year-old Minou, her philosopher Papa (a descendent of Descartes), Boxman the magician, and a clever dog called No-Name. A year earlier Minou’s mother left the house wearing her best shoes and carrying a large black umbrella. She never returned.

One morning Minou finds a dead boy washed up on the beach. Her father decides to lay him in the room that once belonged to her mother. Can her mother’s disappearance be explained by the boy? Will Boxman be able to help find her? Minou, unwilling to accept her mother’s death, attempts to find the truth through Descartes’ philosophy. Over the course of her investigation Minou will discover the truth about loss and love, a truth that The Vanishing Act conveys in a voice that is uniquely enchanting.

Review

The Vanishing Act is a well written and captivating story with mixture of fantasy and philosophy. This story is like a beautiful painting whose brush strokes are poetic and descriptive.

The central theme is about a twelve year old girl named Minou and the disappearance of  her mother. One day her mother puts on her best shoes, takes her big black umbrella and walks out the house never to be seen again.

Everyone thinks she is dead, except for Minou. She does not believe her mother is dead, but will return one day. She keeps a journal, building a case with the reasons why she believes her mother is still alive.

While Minou was walking on the beach, she comes across the body of a dead boy. She runs to tell her father. Her father comes and carries the dead boy to their home. He decides to put the dead boy on the bed in Minou’s mother’s blue room until the ship arrives in three days. In the interim, he opens the window to make sure the boy’s body remains frozen.

Minou’s father is a philosopher from the descendant of Descartes searching for the absolute truth. Both Minou and her father struggle to find answers and figure out what happened.

Her father believes the key to finding the absolute truth is somehow connected to the dead boy’s body. He thinks he will get the answer (as does Minou) by sitting with him for three days until the ship arrives.

Minou and her father live on a small, remote island surrounded by the ocean. I get the impression the island is in the middle of nowhere. The only people living on this isolated island is Minou, her papa, a Priest, Boxman the magician and his dog, No Name.

You never quite know where any of them come from (except for Minou) and/or how they wound up on the island.

However, there is mystery surrounding Minou’s mother’s arrival to the island as well as her departure.

Minou’s mother disappears the following day after performing in Boxman’s magic show, called “The Vanishing Act“.

The only item found was one of the shoes she wore the day she left.

There is an underlying melancholy theme throughout the book. Between Minou’s complex and troubled father, who was traumatized by a war. The disappearance of her free spirited, artistic mother with a troubled past. The pretzel making Priest and his inability to sleep in the dark. The mysterious Boxman the magician and his lost love named Cosmina.

The Vanishing Act keeps you guessing and coming back for more.

I enjoyed reading The Vanishing Act and recommend this thoughtful novel to everyone.

In conclusion, I want to personally thank Erin Sinesky Lovett from W.W. Norton & Company for sending me a complimentary copy of this book to read and review.

Mette Jakobsen was born in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1964 but now lives in Newtown, Sydney. She has a PhD in Creative Writing and a BA in philosophy. In 2004 she graduated from NIDA’s Playwrights Studio and several of her plays have been broadcast on ABC national radio. The Vanishing Act is her first novel.

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