Monday, September 23, 2013

30 Week Blog Challenge- Week 4: Favorite Books

Let's talk about books!  Last week I had to really think about my favorite movies and TV shows.  But this week I have to pick out my favorite books.

I have been a lifelong avid reader.  I started out checking out books on tape and picture books from the library.  I remember receiving the Dick, Jane, and Spot books. (I'm not sure what the proper title is). After awhile, I was annoyed with them.  Are those still around?

Over the years, I loved going to book fairs, and attended my last one in the 8th grade. Librarians knew me by name.

I have read a lot of books over the years.  This would be a super long entry if I wrote about EVERY single book I've read.  Some of my favorite authors include Sarah Dessen, Susane Colasanti, Nicholas Sparks, Walter Dean Myers, Sharon M. Draper, and others.

I remember this book from the 5th grade.  It's Fall Secrets by Candy Dawson Boyd.  It's about a girl named Jessie who attends a performing arts school in California.  Jesse is under pressure to perform academically and is jealous of her older sister Cass.  Jessie finally confronts her insecurities.  I no longer own this book and I have no idea what happened to it.  I read it a few times and really liked it.

Another childhood favorite was the Baby Sister's Club series by Ann M. Martin.  No, I did not read the entire series.  I think the series ran from 1986 to 2000 (I think, I am currently fact checking it).

I read the series up until the 8th grade. By then, I was getting bored with the characters because they were frozen in time.  They were stuck in the 8th grade in the same old town.  I wanted them to go to high school, do more exciting stuff.  Ann M. Martin published a spin off series called California Diaries.  I purchased the first two books in the series.  I didn't get to read the other books, but saw them on Amazon.  I'm guessing that it didn't do so well.  When I started learning about book publishing  trends, I found out that massive series like BSC is no longer popular.  Now days it's all about trilogies.  It gets to a point where you have to move on.

In 2000, I discovered Sarah Dessen books.  The first book I read what SOMEONE LIKE YOU and I was hooked.  I also read  KEEPING THE MOON before graduating.  After that, it was a few years before I discovered her other novels.

In 2005, I began to wonder if Sarah Dessen pulished any other books.  Thanks to the internet, I discovered her website and blog.  I have read all 11 books thus far. Because of her books, I still read young adult fiction. 

THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS series got me back into reading for leisure.  After graduating high school and going to college,  I stopped reading for leisure, mainly because I didn't have time to do so. But in 2005, I discovered the books and saw an ad for the movie on TV, I had to see what it was all about.  I've read all four books in the series and SISTERHOOD EVERLASTING.  SISTERHOOD EVERLASTING was so sad because Tibby dies and the friendships were distant.  

Other books that made me sad was Sarah Dessen's DREAMLAND and KEEP HOLDING ON by Susane Colasanti.  Dramland is about a girl name Caitlin who ends up in an abusive relationship and her boyfriend introduces her to pot.  In Keep Holding On, Noelle deals with bullying from her school mates and even from her own mother.  

I read a lot of contemporary young adult fiction.  Over the years, I have read books that are too light and fluffy and predictable. After finishing reading light and fluffy books, I walk away feeling unsatisfied.  I like to read books with substance and a positive message.  One book in particular is Saron M. Draper's Copper Sun.

Copper Sun is a historical fiction novel about a girl who is captured and is sold into slavery.  She fights for survival during her journey to America, during her time on the plantation, and when she escapes to freedom.
Yes, this novel covers a very dark time in history, but I learned quite a bit.  For instance, I didn't know much about indentured servants.  Also, in school we were always taught that slaves escaped to the North, but I didn't know that many sought refuge in Ft. Mose north of St. Augustine, Florida (Spanish Territory).  Amari and others who escaped South instead of North because they were least likely to be captured and returned to the plantation.

Those are just a few highlights of books I've enjoyed over the years.  Unfortunately I can't write about all of my favorites. There are a lot of books I didn't like. But that's the way the cookie crumbles.  What are your favorite books.  Feel free to leave a comment.

Have a good day everyone!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

30 Week Blog Challenge: Week 2-Favorite Movies

Hmmm, favorite movies?  My all time favorite movie is Comming to America starring Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall.

This movie is halarious and never gets old.  I can watch it a million times and crack up laughing.  Sometimes when people ask me, so what's your favorite movie?  I say Comming America, and sometimes I will get a blank stare.  Some people don't know about this movie despite being a classic.

Keeping with the theme of classic 80's movies, I like Ferris Bueler's Day Off.  I find it interesting that these friends hatch an elaborate scheme to get a day off from school to watch a baseball game. There is alot more to the story.  I also like Pretty In Pink, Breakfast Club, and Back to the Future.

I have watched enough cartoon/kid friendly movies growing up, but I love Shrek.  Although it is intended for children, adults can appreciate it.  I think some adults love it as much as the children.

Let's see what else?  There was a little known TV movie which appeared on ABC Family called Pizza My Heart.  It's a modern day Romeo and Julliet story involving two young people from rivaling families who happen to own a pizza resturaunt.  I downloaded it from iTunes and watched it. I thought it was a cute movie, but kind of cheesy.

I like movies with a possitive message and make you feel inspired.  Historical based movies like Roots or The Butler helps us to learn something about history that we may not learn in a textbook. After watching The Butler, I started to feel different.  Some see these types of movie as mere entertainment.  Others don't bother to watch them at all. At times, I would think, how is movie going to help me?  Recently I came to realize that if you don't take the time to learn about your history, no matter who you are, how will you know where you are going?

Well that wraps up this entry. Have a great day everyone.

30 Week Blog Challenge: Week 1-15 Facts About Yourself

Because I had so much fun with 30 Week Blog Challenge Week 3, I decided to back track and catch up.  Here it goes.

  1. I'm 5'7
  2. I wear a size 11 in shoes.
  3. Favorite color is purple.
  4. I use to write for
  5. I was scammed by (Something I'm not proud of).
  6. I am an avid reader.
  7. I have been to two foreign countries: Mexico and Canada.
  8. I like to watch House Hunters/House Hunters International.
  9. Aspiring author.
  10. I can't cook.
  11. I have read every Sarah Dessen book published so far.
  12. I recently started listening to KPop music.
  13. I think pandas are cute.
  14. I love chocolate.
  15. I can't sing.
Random stuff, I know.  

Have a good day everyone.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

30 Week Blog Challenge-Week 3: Favorite TV Shows

I know that I am late for the party on this blog challenge but after reading a post over at Anywhere Is, I decided to jump in anyway.  I need to make my blog more interesting so that more than one follower, you who you are, will read it.  However, I do receive a lot of random hits.

I'm legally blind and one of the questions I am often asked is, do I watch TV?  Duh,I do, but I'm not a TV addict, but I watch my share of reruns, Family Feud, and my favorite House Hunters and House Hunters International on HGTV.  Some may think that it is boring, but I find it interesting. Although I don't own a house, I figured that I can store away some facts and use them when I am ready.  When I go to look at apartments, I find myself thinking in house hunters' terms, especially using terms such as "dated".

These days, I really don't have a lot of favorite TV shows.  Last year, I discovered The Mondy Project, New Girl, and NBC's Parenthood.  I use to watch The Office from 2008-until it went off the air this year.  After Michael Scott aka Steve Carell left, I lost interest and sporadically watched the show.  I also watched The Carrie Diaries but I'm not sure if that will be coming back on the air. I can't even say if I like it.

I also watch The Game on BET.  Since Tia Mowry left, things aren't quite the same.

Ten years ago when my family switched to satellite, I discovered a Canadian TV show called Degrassi: The Next Generation.  This was the early days of Drake as Jimmy Brooks. What I loved about the show was the diversity. I use to park myself in front of the TV every Friday night.  The show had a plot, interesting characters, and storylines that had you hooked.  As time went by, characters moved on, went off to college, etc.  I got to a point where I became bored with the show.  Plus I'm too old to be watching high school dramas.  Besides things were getting too crazy for me. And I just didn't like the new characters.

I grew up during the 80's and 90's, I feel like there was more to watch on TV.  Also, there were more quality tv shows on the air; and parents could allow their children to watch them.  Growing up I watched Full House, Sandford & Son reruns, The Cosby Show, 227, A Different World, Amen, Family Matters, Martin, Hangin with Mr. Cooper, Growing Pains, Step by Step, and other shows.  I agree with Ronni from Anywhere Is.
"I think I get frustrated with TV now because it’s so homogenous. When I was growing up, there was a lot more diversity. Entire shows with casts of color and no stereotypical b.s.. Black people were professionals, their children were going to college, and the parents were active and caring for their children. Now, everything is quirky with a few actors of color on the fringes, with thinly veiled racism or stereotyping, and I’m so BORED with it. OR everything is paranormal and dark."
One particular show I can't stand is The Boondocks.  It is so stereotypical and I can't understand why people like it so much.  I also don't like reality shows where black women are depicted as stereotypical.
For instance, shows where they are constantly bickering and catfighting. This may increase ratings, but this can cause other cultures and ethnic groups to think that all black women are the same. Although I am black, that doesn't mean I have to support non sense.

 Back then, there shows that exhibited blacks in a more possitive light. The parents were professionals and the families were carring.  In 2011, there was a short lived sitcom on BET called Reed Between the Lines starring Tracee Ellis Ross and Malcolm Jamal Warner.  The show had an 80's sitcom feel to it, problems solved in 22 minutes.  I liked this show because it gave the African American family a possitive image for a change.  Although the Reed family was blended, they loved each other, but after one season it was gone.

I'm not too crazy about reality shows.  Back in the day I use to keep up MTV's The Real World.  I kept up with the show through my early 20's. I use to get excited about what city they were going to next. After awhile I lost interest.  Things were just getting out of hand.  I have no idea what season they're in right now.

There are very few reality shows I can tolerate. If it involved constant bickering and catfighting, I'm switching the channel.  When I get fustrated with TV, I pick up a book, listen to my iPod, or turn on an audiobook.  TV is not that imporant to me, it is a way to pass the time.

I know people who are into Doctor Who. I tried to watch an episode, but I was lost and bored.I may have nerd tendecies and considered a nerd by some, but I am not into science fiction. I have also heard a lot about Scandal starring Kerry Washington. I watched a few episodes during a marathon a few weeks ago. The storyline gets you hooked, but I haven't decided that if I like it yet and will keep watching it.

My all time favorite show is Gilmore Girls. My family doesn't understand why I watch it. I catch reruns here and there.  The show had crazy quirky characters and an interesting storyline. Plus Rory was really smart, a bookworm like myself (although she was more into classic literature), and an aspiring journalist. So I considered her to be interesting.

Last but not least, I am happy to see Arsenio Hall back on TV.  When his original show was on in 1988-1994, I use look forward to when school was out because my parents would allow me to stay up and watch it with them.  The show is still fun, funny, and exciting.  I have something to look forward to before going to sleep.

I know this post is long.  Hope you enjoyed it.  Please, don't be shy, leave a comment.

Have a great day everyone!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Pub Day: Big Brother, Little Sister

Good afternoon everyone!,

Well, today is pub day again.  This time I self published a children's story called BIG BROTHER, LITTLE SISTER on Smashwords.  What is the story behind the story?

Eight years ago, I took a correspondence writing course from the Institute of Children's Literature. My first assignment was to write a story based on a picture. There was a picture of some bears, a plant about to fall over, and a tub with a rubber ducky.  Not making sense?  I understand.

I was still unsure what to write about.  One day, I was at my grandmother's house and I was flipping through the channels when I came across an episode of Reading Rainbow.  A little boy was upset because his baby sister was getting all of the attention.  From that moment on, I knew what to write about.

A year later, I thought my story was good enough to publish. So I sent it to several magazines and unfortunately it was turned down.  After several of rejection letters and slips, I became discouraged and stopped sending my work to publishers and writing.  The year before I was scammed by  I was in school at the time, my time was consumed by writing papers and studying for tests.

Now eight years later, I am finally able to finish it on my own.  Self publishing has been an interesting journey.  My first ebook, THE STORIES WE TELL WHEN DRINKING COFFEE hasn't done so well. I have been watching its progress online and only 15 people downloaded a copy.  After looking at the charts closely I realized that those 15 downloads were samples, not the entire book.  I decided to offer the book for free for a limited time until October 1,2013.  If you haven't had a chance to check it out, you can do so here.  I hope BIG BROTHER, LITTLE SISTER does better since it is a stand alone. This set back won't stop me this time, I am determined to write better stories.  I am sure other authors have had their ups and downs.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Friday, September 6, 2013

I'm A Published Author-What happens next?

Good morning everyone! I have a special announcement.  On Wednesday Spetember 4, 2013, I self published a short story collection called: The Stories We Tell When Drinking Coffee: A Collection of Short Stories and Flash Fiction.  It is available on Smashwords.

I am proud of myself for seeing a project through and not thinking about if people will like it, read it, if it is something people want to see, hear, or read.  Those thoughts crept in but I pushed them back.  I have been doing that way too long; listening to self doubt and nay sayers.  It was back in high school when I had a teacher who said that I didn't have what takes to be a writer.  I don't expect to receive overnight success, fame, fortune, NYT Bestseller's list.  I just want to get my stories out there and for people to enjoy.

How did I get into self publishing? I signed up for Smashwords two years ago, but never did much with my account.  I would read author bios, download some books here and there, and recently started reading author interviews.  I had some of my stories saved and I decided to go back and clean them up  and add to them.  Well, I made the decision to publish them.  I proofread my work Tuesday night, and tossed and turned all night.  I woke up at 4:00 am to upload my ebook.  I encountered problems with the upload of my Word file.  After a few tries, I went back to bed.  Several hours later, I tried again and the upload didn't go through.  I was frustrated after using two different internet browsers. Finally by the afternoon, the file went through.  I had to change my Word 2010 file to Word 97-2003 doc. file.  I previously had it in rtf, dot, and Open Office.  Why didn't I figure that out hours ago?

The next day, I had to fix outo vetter errors, my book cover size, and add an ISBN.  I spread the word about the ebook on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.   I priced the book at $1.99 but I haven't sold a single book. This morning I decided to lower the price to $0.99.  I know that some would say I'm selling myself cheap, but we will see what happens.

This experience was nerve wrecking and still is.  It doesn't quite feel real.  I have been writing truck loads of web content for the last three years, and things have been a bit sour in that department since the summer. Looks like the writing is on the wall, I need to ease away from content farming and focus on my own projects.  I don't know where self publishing is going to take me, but I have to stay possitive.  It's scary to think what if no one never buys your books? Then what?  I'm sure that all authors go through these same scary feelings.

I realize that not everyone will think my stories are good. I will admit, I have read a lot of stories that I wasn't impressed with.  Some readers like romance, some like thrillers and suspense, and some perfer mysteries.  We all have different tastes and reading preferences because that is what makes us unique.

I also did an interview with Smashwords.  You can check it out here.

Have a good weekend everyone

Monday, September 2, 2013

Busy Busy Busy

It's been over a month since my last post, and every time I attempt to write a new post, something happens.  So here's what has been happening in my world.

  1. I won't be able to write product reviews for a while until I become a level 4 writer.  I am a level 3 (Expert) at Knoji.  You need a total of 250 articles in order to reach guide status.  I have only reached 189 articles.  It's a long way to go and I hope that I don't fall on my face trying to reach that goal.
  2. With this situation at Knoji and other changes in my writing life, work has been scarce.  I have been putting in applications all over the Web for new writing gigs.  So I applied over at  I honestly thought that I wouldn't hear from them.  To my utter shock they wrote me, and they wanted to publish two articles for the Style and Fashion section in order to become an official Examiner.  This is shocking to me because I am not that fashion forward.  We will see where this takes me.
  3. Since writing gigs have been scarce all summer, I realize I need to be working on my own projects instead of solely depending on writing assignments.  I have been away from the fiction game because once upon a time, I felt like my stories were a load of crap.  I know, I know that's a horrible thing to say about myself.  So I decided that I should dust off some flash fiction and short stories I have written in the past and clean them up and add a little something.  I signed up for Smashwords two years ago, and never published anything on it.  In case you are wondering, Smashwords is a website where you can self publish your books in ebook format.  I'm am usually quiet about writing projects, but I will say that it is a collection of flash fiction and short stories.  I just need to edit, make sure that it is formatted correctly, and come up with a cover idea. I have my work cut out for me, but let's hope for the best.  The thing about self publishing is that it is up to you make things happen.  Kind of like life. Once upon a time, I had a teacher tell me that I didn't have what it takes to be a writer.  That has always stuck with me.  This statement has made me determined to push forward in the writing biz despite spending hours in front of the computer for long hours for low paying writing gigs.  When I would get stuck on my unfinished novel or some story, I would wonder maybe the teacher was right after all.  I know now that I have a choice. I can silence those negative voices in my head.  Stay tuned for updates.
  4. My YA Books Etc. blog has a follower on Bloglovin.
  5. Someone left a comment on this blog.  That has never happened before, besides my friend and only follower wrote a comment a while back.
  6. What else?  I think that covers everything.  I hope that I will be able to post more often.
Have a great day everyone.