Solitude

Solitude, please embrace my life.
I need to hide, to step away.
From those who cut me like a knife.
Solitude, please embrace my life.
No more hurt, pain, or tears of strife
In my dark corner I will stay.
Solitude, please embrace my life.
I need to hide, to step away.

The Value of Writer’s Conference

My suggestion of the day for any new writer: Attend a Writing Conference

It will motivate you, inspire you, and get you writing in the right direction. I just attended a three day conference at Mott Community College, and I have been more productive this week than any week so far in the summer. I was able to write my thoughts, receive a critique on a piece, hear new ideas, and walk out of there with a new sense of focus. Attend a session, and try to find one near you that is a reasonable price. Lucky for me, this one was free because I attended for professional development, but I am sure there is a way for you to get focused as a writer without emptying your pocketbook.

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”

-Socrates

Losing My Book Signing Virginity

Dated March 24, 2013-Delayed Post

Yesterday, I had my first book signing. It was an eye opening and amazing experience. So, for those thinking of joining the literary world and writing their own book, this post is for you. Read, learn, and enjoy:

Lesson #1: Your idea of the quanity of books will not match your publisher.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s just that your vision and focus will differ for your first signing. I had a vision of there being a line near the door for people to want my book. A publisher will have a cautious view on your book sales. I learned this difference of opinion two days before my book signing. I had an idea of a number of books for the signing, and my publisher had a different number in mind. There was much discussion on what the correct number should be, but untimately, if you don’t self-publish, the publisher has the final word. If you are a new author, you need to learn the word “compromise”. Later on, I will discuss how my publisher compromised for me also.

Lesson #2: Putting the Word Out Works

You have to use all the different avenues out there for you to talk about your book. Almost every medium that I chose worked to bring people in. Use social networks like crazy! I posted on Facebook often, especially the week leading up to the signing. I made an event for the book signing, I wrote about it all the time in my status updates, I made an account just for the author side, and I created a Twitter. You have to post all the time, but you have to find a way not to be super annoying. You have to post with fun words and in different ways, but you have to always post. Most of my friends are on Facebook, so I posted more there, but my students do Twitter, so I posted more trendy there for them. I made posters, I posted where to find me on social networks in my classroom, and any opportunity that people gave me to talk about the book, I did. And it worked for my first signing.

Lesson #3: Find the Right Outfit for You

I wandered around the mall for two hours looking for my signature style. Everyone has an idea of what they would like to wear on their big day. It ultimately is up to your style, but once you find it, buy it. I was looking of a diva shirt, something that would stand out to people without looking tacky. I found it in the last store, just before the mall closed. I decided to buy a black shirt, with a beautiful white tiger on it. It jumped out at the book signing attendee, and let you know that I was trying to stand out in a cool way. Every author should go out shopping the night before their first signing and find that amazing style just for you. Keep some of your style classy, and wear something that is comfortable. You will be walking around, and sitting, and hugging people, and getting as low as you can to talk to children. Your outfit has to be something you won’t sweat in, something you that no matter what you are doing, you are looking great and comfortable. If you are female, don’t go overboard with your make up, or overdo your hair. Be classy, but not flashy. Oh, and don’t do scented things on your body, people might be turned off by it.

Lesson #4: Bring an Author Kit

Bring the following with you: 1. Good ink pens: Most people tell you to do traditional black or blue ink. I chose purple, because it is my favorite color and the cover has that color. Your pens have to be able to flow quicky and neatly. Pay the extra money to have a set of good pens (have more than one, people will take your pens). 2. A bottle of water: You will need to sip on water often because people will talk a lot to you. Everyone is excited to speak to you, and you should speak back. 3. Mints: Your mouth will get hot because of all the talking. Don’t take the chance of having breath problems. Keep mints on you, so when you have a break, you can pop one in your mouth. People can’t get mad at you for taking care of your breath. 4. An extra pair of shoes. After all things are done, you want to relax. I brought along a silver pair of converses, which were chic and trendy, and changed shoes as I walked out. People noticed the silver shoes more than my glittery wedges that I struggled to wear while reading my poetry. 5. Treats for attendees: This one is a debated topic, and I totally understand why. If you don’t bring things, you look cheap. If you do bring goodies, there will be people just there to eat your free food and walk out without buying the book. So, here is my suggestion: Find someone who is just starting in the bakery business. Someone who is working at home, and trying to get his/her name out there. Have them bring goodies to the book signing, and advertise their business. That way, you don’t spend your money, you are helping someone else start his/her business, and building up good karma. It’s a win-win for everyone, plus you aren’t loosing money. 6. Book marks and business cards. You need to have these at both front corners of your table. People will pick these up like crazy! Save some bookmarks for kids who come. Make sure to speak to the children, and to authograph the bookmarks for them. It will make their day. If you write his/her name, a small message, and an authograph, the kid will be overjoyed. Other items to consider: A table cloth, tape, paper, a emailing list clipboard, extra books, a picture of yourself and a picture of the cover. Bring along a friend or family member to introduce you (thanks Carrie Shay), and bribe someone to be your photographer so that everyone who purchases a book gets a picture with you (Thanks Shelby).

So, I bet you are thinking, how did it go?

For me, it was one of the best experiences of my life. Due to all the hard work of emailing my publisher, the location, and getting the word out, I had an amazing turnout. I sold out of my books…twice. The compromise with the publisher lead to her bringing more books than she originally agreed to, and those sold out in 30 minutes. She apologized to me, and said she didn’t really know how serious I was about being successful in writing. I understood, most people are all about talk in being a famous writer. I am not. Do to putting the work in with all the things above, I sold around 40 books in my first signing. I took lots of pictures, talked to many people, and now know this is what I want to do with my life.

Last bit of advice, you need a tagline as a author. I leave you with mine:

Simply Love Life!

If you have questions, feel free to email me at authorjessycamathews@gmail.com

The Sultry Lyricist is Now on Your Internet Radio Dial!

I had yet another amazing experience, being a guest on Indy Radio. It was an opportunity that I could not refuse. Come on, all male panel, talking about poetry, going through the lightning round of random questions about life with thousands of listeners? How could a girl turn that down! It was a great time, loaded with surprises and fun for everyone involved. If you didn’t hear it, take a listen at the link below. Let me know what you think of my radio debut, supporters!

 

I experienced my first author interview on the microphone recently. It was a great experience! To share my story and to encourage others to take the step in becoming authors is quite the blessing. Are you thinking about taking the plunge? Listen to my story, along with two other authors of the Flint area, and be inspired to pick up that pen, scribble on that paper, or tap on those keys.

http://manasunriser.blogspot.com/2013/06/authors-discuss-writing-and-their-books.html

Being Keynote Speaker Has Changed My Life

On June 5th, the class of 2013 blessed me with the opportunity to do #52 on my bucket list. I was able to speak in front of thousands of people by being their keynote speaker. It was an amazing opportunity, and the process of getting the speech done was quite the chore.

You see, it was a totally different style of writing compared to what I was use to. I had to write with even more perfection than ever because if I made one slip, everyone in that audience would know that I was a screw up.

The whole process began in March. After classes finished for the day, and right before I went running to change to get ready to coach, three girls from student council came into my room with grins on their faces. I knew that they were up to no good, and I paused to stare at them.

“Ladies, what are you up to?”

Ashleigh was the first to speak.

“Oh, nothing. We were hoping you could do us a favor.”

For those of you not involved with high schoolers on a daily basis, when you hear that phrase, you really don’t know what “favor” is coming next. It might be a letter of recommendation to begging for a dollar, you just don’t know. With much regret, I had to follow up with the statement, “What do you need, ladies…”

Allia, who has the loudest voice of the group (actually, of the whole senior class) stated the request to be commencement speaker. I was shocked, and I gave them a funny look before I replied.

“Are you sure that you want ME to speak? Ya’ll know that I am kind of crazy.”

The girls giggled and assured me that I was the right choice. I accepted.

It took quite a bit of time to figure out what I wanted to talk about. Actually, I didn’t come up with the final concept of my speech until a week before commencement day. I couldn’t find a way to express myself the way that made me happy. I looked up famous quotes, read other speeches, watched videos, but nothing made me feel that it was the right angle.

Finally, while laying in bed, it struck me. I picked up a pen and my purple pen at 2:00 AM. It’s odd when inspiration hits, because when it does, I can’t help myself and I had to write. I had to write, and it doesn’t matter the time. I started to brainstorm, and draw circles with themes to work with, and suddenly things started to come together.

I stuck to what made me the person who I am. I am a poet, and I would make sure to let the world know that I loved my kids and was confident enough to express myself the best way I knew how. I wrote off and on for many hours, and slowly, the final product was developed.

I read it to my juniors, and they said that it was the “realest” poem they had heard, and I realized that I was ready.

I must say that it was one of the best experiences that I have had in my life. It was life changing, because people let me know afterwards that I had a voice that needed to be heard. I had never had complete strangers come up to me and say such kind words. I received emails, hugs, praise, and notes that made me realize that the skills that my family and Carman-Ainsworth provided me helped me to become a unique individual.

Walking up to that microphone made me feel reborn as a writer and a role model. It let me know that when the opportunity comes, you have to take it and enjoy each part of the moment.

The best part of the whole thing came after graduates walked through the congrats tunnel. After students turn their tassels, all the teachers go to the back, line up, and clap for the new members of the real world. Students are always so surprised when this happens, and it always leads to hugs, high fives, and well wishes.

One senior that I had never met before ran up to me and gave me a hug. As long as I live, I won’t forget what she said to me. While hugging me, she leaned in my ear and said, “You are my inspiration. Thank you, and I am going to work to be just like you.”

This event has changed my life.

Greetings of the Front Door

Today I have started my day super grouchy. I won’t get into the specifics, but I got out the wrong side of the bed and can’t shake it off. I know I can’t be the only one who has just woken up in a foul mood, and to be honest, this doesn’t happen often. Usually I have a positive spirit about things. I can hear the older mothers of the African American churches saying to me, “Praise the Lawd that you woke up this morning, and celebrate another day.” I just don’t feel like it today.

One moment that made me smile was meeting up with a co-worker at my front door. Steve is quite the character, and you never really know what is coming out of his mouth at times, which I find quite entertaining. He does have the ability to know when I am in a grouchy state of mind, and he won’t let you get away without saying something to try and brighten your day.

Today, Steve greeted me at the front door with compliments. Yesterday, my team played his daughter’s in the semi-finals in a district match at my school. My team lost 4-1 due to some crazy mishaps, poor choices in marking up, and, more importantly, the brutal heat took out my number of subs.

I had to think so much in that game that I went home afterwards and took a nap. Actually, I took two naps because the heat and coaching had wore me out so. Steve must have realized that, because he had nothing but positive words to say about my coaching and my girls play yesterday.

“I know you can’t be frowning about what happen yesterday, Jes. Not with the good job your girls did on that field. You did a great job coaching yesterday.”

If there is anything that can get me out of my mood, I hope it’s the words of Steve. I am proud of my team’s efforts yesterday, and I am proud to be their coach, in good times and in bad. Maybe if I think of yesterday and I can make my today better.

Cross your fingers.

Becoming Focused Once More

Today, my former student posted a picture on her Facebook wall. I thought that it summed up my feelings for the past month when it came to my writing. It stated, “I lost my focus but not my mind.”

I am not surprised that she posted such a message. She is quite a wise child for her age, and she is probably the most creative soul I have always taught. I agree with this statement completely.

There have been a number of events and reasons that have gotten in the way of my creative thoughts and expressing myself on paper. I was coaching, I was promoting the new book, I was teaching, and I was just trying to survive. But I realized that I was starting to lose myself within the chaos. So, I made some choices.

My seniors are gone now, so I made the decision to make sure to sit back and write for at least 20 minutes. Writing for school doesn’t count. Writing the commencement speech I need to give a week doesn’t count. Writing more voting forms for soccer don’t count toward my 20. Be it at lunch time, or after the bell rings, I have to this week sit back and write something.

So today, I am admitting that I lacked focus, but I am getting it back. I have made the decision to not do summer school, and work on me and my writing abilities. Sometimes, you just have to take a break and be you, and do you. I am going to buy a new laptop tomorrow, and the two of us going to make sweet things together.