Tag Archives: Stephen King
By Ordinary Servant | Published March 4, 2017
Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999—and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it—fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.
I’ve had this book on my book shelf for awhile. I was intending to read it, but never got to it until a week ago. Now I could kick myself for not reading it sooner.
In my opinion, On Writing is one of the best books on the craft of writing. Novelist Stephen King gives you the nuts and bolts of what it takes to be a writer.
If I were to sum up the book in a few words, it would be… “Read a lot, Write a lot.”
What I found encouraging (since I don’t have a college degree), is that Stephen King says it is not necessary to attend college to be a writer. He doesn’t deter people from attending college, he just says you don’t need a degree to write books. You just need to read a lot and write a lot. Every day. Without fail.
Writing requires work, discipline and perseverance to succeed. There are no short cuts.
On Writing is a goldmine filled with helpful nuggets. It is the kind of book you want to have in your library to refer to. I highly recommend it.
Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His recent work includes The Bill Hodges Trilogy, Revival, and Doctor Sleep. His novel 11/22/63 was named a top ten book of 2011 by The New York Times Book Review and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller as well as the Best Hardcover Book Award from the International Thriller Writers Association. He is the recipient of the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.
By Ordinary Servant | Published June 10, 2015
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?
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?
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.
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.
By Ordinary Servant | Published May 25, 2015
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?
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!!!
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Thank you for this wonderful interview, Novelist Blacc Topp. I look forward to reading more of your magnificent work.
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