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Friday, December 20, 2013

Meet Our Author - Kai Storm

Hello, 
I am Kai Storm, author of Alani's Bigger Hustle, Alani's Hustle Gets Bigger & You Just Don't Know. I do some freelance writing for a Christian magazine called, Elation Magazine. I run the author feature section for Elation called, KAI'S CORNER, I have written pieces in the book called, Sistah's With Ink. I have an upcoming piece in a collaboration book called Lipstick 3. My first book is being turned into a short film for the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. I have 2 kids, I'm married and I somehow find time to sit, chill and give thanks for all that I have and all I have worked for! As you read all of this you might be wondering to yourself....HOW DO YOU POSSIBLY KEEP UP WITH ALL OF THIS OR HOW DID YOU EVEN GET THIS FAR?

PERSEVERANCE!

It sounds obvious but that's what it is with me....anything in life that you really want you work hard for and when people around you see your and/or feel your perseverance they either want to get down, help you or get out of your way, lol! Anyone that stays in your path with bad intentions gets handled by karma for sure. Never worry about them and when you are down, your strength and perseverance gets you right back up! To be honest with you, it's funny for me to talk about my writing career as I didn't really think of it as a career until I was published, before then it was just my release; my oh-so-needed mental release from....EVERYTHING! Now 3 books/3 years later it's a career and I am doing everything I can to keep it going! I'm learning a lot and still have more to go and I love every bit of it, even the low moments when I'm out all day and only get to sell 3 books or I have to chase a store to pay me for my books, it's all part of the hustle! #alanishustle!




Saturday, December 7, 2013

Social Media and the Urban Author

Most likely if you are reading this blog, you have some type of social media account. Social media is an excellent way to communicate to the masses, quickly, easily and inexpensively. It has been an absolute blessing to the urban author... most of the time.
More and more often, I am seeing some downright ign'ant  ish <---no typo* on FB, Twitter, IG, and other social media outlets. The most surprising thing is I have witnessed grown men participating in this foolery. I probably sound a little sexist, but I am from the old-school where men don't participate in bitchassness. I see that is another quality lost via modern technology but that is another post. 
I must admit, I do get amused... Okay - I am freakin' entertained some days by the ignorance and nonsense and have even messaged a friend so they can be entertained for free and laugh with me while watching the fuckery unfold. Years ago, I may have even participated in the madness.
I've seen some people take the position of, Well this is me, if someone doesn't like it, they don't have to buy my work. And if that is how they feel, than that is their prerogative. However, if your goal is to be a full time (insert your title your networking on social media under) and be respected by everyone (not just your social media clique) then we need to do better expressing ourselves. 
I have stopped following many, many people after seeing insensitive remarks that were even to stupid of a statement for even me to tolerate. They may have a great novel out there but I'll never know it. There are a few where I've seen their books on the free giveaway days on Kindle and still wouldn't download it. I refuse to support any people with obvious intolerance to others  regarding race, religion or the sexual preference of others, even if their view is the same as mine, but intolerant to others. I think unless the service you are providing is geared strictly to the pro/anti view of one of these subjects, your opinion is really here nor there to others. Why would you risk losing potential sales with narrow minded opinions or views? That specific person you are referencing could possibly be the key to your success or financially helpful to you. Unless your opposition of what ever it is your disrespecting, is so strong, that you wouldn't accept financial gain from such a person, you are really just showing your narrow mindedness and doing your self possible financial harm.     
The English language has the largest number of words, more than any other language. I am almost positive, you can find better ways to express your self, so that you are making your point clearly, without coming off as ignorant or disrespectful.
I am not writing this blog because I am judging, I am writing this blog post from personal experience! When I started my editing service over seven years ago, I too was one of the entertainers and stupidly, entertained, for free, my peers with angry rants, judgmental tirades and personal attacks which had nothing to do with my business. I am a very passionate person and unfortunately, it doesn't take a whole lot to get me going. I am writing this to hopefully enlighten some of my peers on how I have grown, in hopes some of you will to.
I am always seeing how people complain the urban literary industry is not taken seriously. How can it be when the ignorance is rampant? If you'd like to be considered a professional, respected as a professional and recognized as a professional, you have to be professional!
I can honestly tell you that this behavior may get you a lot more comments or likes, retweets, and all that good stuff but I assure you it does not get you any respect. At least not from the people who could possibly enhance your career. If you are happy with your place in the industry, or feel like your work is so phenomenal, you don't have to respect anyone, then by all means, carry on. However, giving respect to get respect is not just a saying. I have had countless conversations with leaders in the urban industry about this and everyone of them draws the same conclusion and has the same opinion, it does none of us any good. The most good that comes from social media fuckery is getting some entertainment for free. 
If your still feel as though you can say and act however you want and you could care less what anyone thinks, think of it this way, most of you reading this blog are authors. Most of you are in the business of selling your work. Well, when you're putting on social media shows, you're entertaining for free. If your friends, fans, followers want to be entertained, make them pay for it by buying your book. Don't complain about the lack of comradeship among authors if you are not one of the comrades. 
I am not implying you must like everyone of your industry peers. I have a few myself I don't care for in the least. However, I stay in my place and respect my lane. I refuse to contribute to the negativity myself and so many others in the industry complain about and so should you. 
My blog, my opinion.


   

Dear Novice Author

Dear Novice Author,
When you pay an editing service to edit your manuscript, it is probably best to allow them to do their job. Why would you pay a professional editor, and then not heed the edits to your work, because, you like it better like this, or so-and-so said, I should write it like this, and totally ignore your editor?
If you are not a pioneer in the urban industry, exercising your creative control is probably not in your best interest. (Actually, I've never seen the urban pioneers making up new rules. I do see them doing their best to be as professional as the other genres.) It actually defeats the purpose of you hiring a professional service. If you want to make up your own rules or not abide by literary industry standards or Style Guide rules for fictional writing, here is what you should do. Go huddle with cousin Pookie and 'em, or the 99-cent-I'm-an-editor-but-my-own-work-is-unedited-editor, and share your great new method of how words, sentence structure and stories should be relayed, and have them complete your edits for you, much quicker, and for a much smaller fee.
Ask a trendsetter in the industry, someone who has been successful in book sales and is a career author, do they ignore their editors advice. Go ahead, ask them. I have worked with authors in the urban industry such as K'wan, Al-Saadiq Banks, Vickie Stringer and many others who have award winning, best selling books and they listened to my suggestions, once the rule or the reasoning behind it was explained, and applied it to their work. Why wouldn't you do the same? Are you more knowing than established professionals in the industry? If so, share your secret with all of us so we can all raise the bar.
It always baffles me how some novice authors know better than the editors they pay, but when the book is criticized for the blatant errors, poor structure, and many other issues - the author, the editor, and ALL of the urban industry is judged. It is a guarantee, for sure, the author is not going to shout that creative control theory when them book clubs and critics get to slammin' their arses for poor editing. They will however, whisper to anyone who listen, "Well I paid so-and-so to edit it." They will forget all about the unacknowledged/refused changes the editor suggested they make.
Another important thing the author must do is have your work proofread! Just because your manuscript has went through the editing process, you MUST have it proofread after typeset and before going to print. 
The bottom line is, if you want to be respected as a professional in the literary industry, you must adhere to professional standards. I am disgusted by the lack of professionalism in the process of self publishing in the urban genre, as well as the lack of accountability. I see everyone being blamed for the lack of respect of urban fiction, other than the unprofessional author who is continuously behaving and putting forth unprofessional work. I suggest if you want the respect, YOU behave professionally in regard to critique, go through the proper process in order to self publish, and accept accountability and learn from mistakes as opposed to defending them. 



Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Need Some Editing Before Editing?




<<<< ------ Need a copy? Amazon has them available now for just $2.99!


In Need of Editing before Editing! 

AUTHORS- WTH???




Just sharing a brief excerpt of an email to me from one of our 21st Street fabulous editors...

"There are a LOT of problems with this manuscript. I am almost done fixing up the grammar and such, but stylistically, with the plot errors and the way the story is laid out, it's going to need some major overhauling on the author's end.... " 

and 

"There was literally almost no sentence punctuation throughout the whole manuscript, few paragraph distinctions made, no quotation marks anywhere to indicate dialogue, and no chapter headings at all...."

and

"....there are major issues that need to be addressed before this goes to print. I don't want to make any of major changes myself because I don't know what the author intends (especially as far as chapter headings and such) and I don't want to put my voice in this author's story...."

This is not the first time I have got an email such as this, nor will it be the last. For the first time recently, I had to TURN DOWN a PAYING customer because the manuscript was so poor- we would have had to re-write almost every single sentence and that is not what we do. 

The editors we have are TERRIFIC- however, it is up to you as authors to research and learn how to write a book if you are serious (and paying for editing indicates to me that this is something you are taking seriously.) 

Research via reading, the library, the internet if FREE. Utilize these free outlets and at least try to develop your writing. We are an EDITING SERVICE, not miracle workers. Research what an editors ACTUAL job description is. Our editors go ABOVE and beyond their job description for 7 out of 10 scripts without complaining (and I GREATLY appreciate them and their dedication and hard work.) 


We will do are very best to polish and assist you in putting out a great story. The better you give us to work with, the better the end result can be. We can also refer you to some great developmental editors if need be. When it gets to the point that there aren't even periods or question marks at the end of a sentence- that's a little ridiculous. If you're in need of an editing service, please check out our site for more information. www.21StreetUrbanEditing.com. I am also always available for questions via email at Niccole@21StreetUrbanEditing.com


Come on writers. Respect your chosen craft.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Another one of my favorite articles... We got a Black President - Now what?


We got a Black President…Now what?
  Now that Obama’s in office has young America stopped voting? Who and where are our Senators? Here I go again with my statistics.
  On February 23rd, 1870 the first African American was elected to serve in the United States Senate. Since 1870, there have only been five (yes, I said ONLY five) other African Americans ever to serve in the Senate and only seven Hispanics.
  How come this is something that young America, especially young African Americans and Hispanics are not more concerned about? The United States Congress is the legislative branch of the Federal Government. Shouldn’t we be more involved?
  Not surprisingly, President Obama is the first and only President to appoint an African American to Senate. Of the only six African Americans, President Obama was the fifth and won his election by the popular vote. That goes to show you right there that your vote does count!
  The fact that Illinois has a high rate of voters as well as a high African American population may account for the fact that the last three Senators, Carol Mosley Braun (1-3-93 – 1-3-99), Barack Hussein Obama (1-3-05 – 11-16-08) and Roland W. Burris (12-31-08 – incumbent) were all from the state of Illinois. Come on America, let’s take a page out of Illinois book and start voting for our Senators as well.
  On February 3rd, 1870 when the amendment was ratified and everyone was given the right to vote why hasn’t this advantage been taken yet? What are you waiting for young America? You think just because we got a Black President, everything is all good now? Why aren’t we exercising this right? This is a privilege we are being given. Many people died and are still dying to this day just to make sure we maintain this right. Have we become that complacent that we are leaving all of the decisions regarding our future to the few people that decide to get out there and vote?
  It just absolutely blows my mind that these statistics are true and correct. How can we not be more aware of who are government is.  I wish this article would have been my topic last month and maybe I could have encouraged just a few of you to vote. Hopefully, this time next year you will remember this article and get out and vote. You may think your vote doesn’t make a difference but it does. When it comes to our Alderman, Mayors and Senators, the popular vote makes a big difference.  I hear constant complaints regarding discrimination. How can we even have the nerve to complain when we are not using our right to vote and starting in our backyard by getting the proper people in place to insure that discrimination does not happen?
  I said all of that to say…If you didn’t get out and Vote, you have no “Right” to complain about anything.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Choosing a Child Care Provider... or an Editor!



I often get the question, “How do I choose an editor?”
I often equate it to finding a childcare provider. Sounds silly, huh? Let me explain. When an author creates a manuscript it is much like a pregnancy. The author is creating, growing and producing something from within side of them. They prepare for the birth, which would be the release of the book and then they continue to help it grow which would be the marketing and promotion. So I suggest, finding someone with the same qualities you would want in a childcare provider for your child.
First of all, you want a professional. You will want someone whose references you can check and confirm. You will not want to hear what their best friend or sister thinks about them but what actual clients of their service think.
You will want someone firm yet caring. You need to work with someone who is not going to be afraid to reprimand mistakes and tell you about them, but will also be able to do it in a kind way. This will insure productivity as opposed to putting the author on the defense.
You will want someone educated in that field. Unfortunately, there are no licenses or boards governing the conduct or education of editors. There are no mandated continuing education classes as there are with most professional careers. It is up to the editor to stay active in educating themselves and keeping up with changes. A lot of people think that since they can spot typographical errors in their favorite books, that they can be an editor. This is not true.
Ask your editor what Style Guide they will be using. Most fiction uses The Chicago Manual of Style but some publishers such as Triple Crown Publications prefer The AP Style Guide. Your script needs to have a consistent style so it is imperative that one of these is used. Your editor should also include with his or her service, a style sheet that is specific to your writing. If they don’t know what this is or don’t do this, don’t use them.
As with any type of service, make sure that your editor provides you with specific contracts detailing their obligation to you and your financial obligation to them. When making payments via Pay-Pal, be sure to mark it as payment for a service should there ever be any disputes. If you are paying via check or money order, be sure to designate specifically what the payment is for in the memo section.
Lastly, make sure you have an open line of communication with your editor. There are a few terrific editors out there who can help introduce your baby to the world in style. Unfortunately, there are also several want-to-be editors who are looking to take advantage of people and their dream. Make sure you are as careful and as thorough as you would be if you were choosing a childcare provider and you should be just fine.
You can check out our editing service at www.21StreetUrbanEditing.com or if you have any specific questions, you can always email those to questions@21StreetUrbanEditing.com
Niccole Simmons
Co-Founder of 21st Street Urban Editing & Publishing

One of my Favorite Interviews... Author Terry Wroten


“Being sentenced to ten years in the California State Prison at the age of fourteen was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.”
Imagine my surprise upon hearing this coming from twenty-five year old debut author, Terry L. Wroten.  At the age of ten, Wroten who was a resident of South Central, Los Angeles joined the infamous 4trey gangster crips street gang.  At the age of thirteen, Wroten was shot six times by rival gang members. At the age of fourteen, Wroten was taken into custody and charged with three murders, robbery and assault. Inevitably he was exonerated of the three murder charges but was sentenced to the California Department of Corrections for a period of ten years for the other charges. At age twenty-five, Wroten is the most anticipated street literature author coming from the West Coast.
At the time of his incarceration, Mr. Wroten was illiterate.  He would have to have cell mates read him letters from his mother and also write his letters to her.  He was unable to even address an envelope. He spent the first two years of his incarceration in a juvenile detention center where he began to learn how to read and write.  A few months short of turning sixteen, Wroten was transferred to Tehachapi State prison.  Here, the older inmates would help Wroten with his reading and writing. Sometimes the guards would even give him a hand.  An older cellmate taught him how to use a dictionary at which time he learned how to look up words he couldn’t understand and inevitably expanded his vocabulary. Wroten reports that his comprehension skills seemed to almost immediately become enhanced upon learning how to utilize the dictionary.  After being stabbed while engaged in prison riot at the age of eighteen, where inmates and correctional officers were injured. Wroten was placed in the Segregated Housing Unit (SHU) for term five years for battery on a peace officer.  It was at this time he read the book entitled “Gangsta” by K’wan and thought that he could write a similar tale. This is when he started to write.
In 2007 at the age of 22, Wroten was released to a half way house in order to become un-institutionalized and learn how to find his way back into society. He had a counselor which he reported to daily. After several meetings the counselor told Wroten that if he could not find gainful employment soon, he would be revoked and sent back to the penitentiary.  When the counselor questioned Wroten about what he was able to do or what kind of skills he had, his reply was, “I don’t know how to do shit but read and write.”
Wroten’s counselor then asked to review some of his writing.  Upon completing eight years of his ten year bid, he had approximately seven manuscripts completed.  While being placed back in custody on a parole violation, Mr. Wroten had the opportunity to finish his scripts for a total of twelve completed novels upon his release. His counselor was extremely impressed by the content of Wroten’s stories and felt as if his writing was comparable to other urban street lit. authors. 
Wrotens counselor decided to try and help him find a publisher.  After being incarcerated at the time of the internet boom, Wroten was completely unfamiliar with how to use a computer or the internet. The first thing the counselor taught Wroten was about the social networking site, My Space.  It was there that they reached out to the inspiration behind Wroten’s writing, author K’wan. K’wan recognized the talented young man’s writing skills and for two years the two corresponded while preparing for the release of “Natural Born Killaz”.
Now that Wroten has signed a book deal under K’wan’s publishing house Black Dawn Inc. he is hoping to open some doors for others on the West Coast. As of now, the East Coast has a strong-hold on the urban fiction-street lit. genre. Wroten also aspires to show kids in urban communities that may be going down the path that he once did, that illegal hustling, selling drugs and gangbanging isn’t the only way.  He currently does free motivational speaking at high schools and community centers in the Los Angeles area.  Also, Wroten has penned an anthology; out now, with authors K’wan, Jrod Nider, JM Benjamin and Randy Ski-Thompson titled “The Massacre”. His debut novel by Black Dawn Inc. entitled “Natural Born Killaz” is also available now.
Mr. Wroten is also hoping to break into the film industry.  He is currently in the process of writing screen plays and continuing to work on manuscripts.  He also wants naysayers of urban fiction to know that had it not been for the gritty street tales urban fiction portrays, that he most likely would have remained illiterate and a lifelong menace to society.  Wroten went on to point out that most characters in urban street lit do tend to redeem themselves at the end of the novel.  “This is something we can relate to, not Judy Blume, Stephen King or JK Rowlings. This is what life is. I’m just bringing it to the frontline,” he stated humbly.
As the author of this article, I do have to say that Mr. Wroten humility was a pleasant surprise.  Having a little bit of background information before speaking to Mr. Wroten, I assumed I would be talking to a rough and gruff thug; however, Mr. Wroten was kind, soft and well spoken whose passion and desire to write, not for fame and fortune but to find a way out and to inspire others was made evident throughout the entire interview. His gratitude and thankfulness to author K’wan for giving him an opportunity to fulfill his goals is inexpressible. His desire to be a role model and help others is also like nothing I have ever seen before.  
If you would like to contact Terry L Wroten, you can reach out to him at authortlw@yahoo.com or Facebook
Niccole Simmons
21st Street Urban Editing & Publishing, LLC
niccole@21streeturbanediting.com