Like buses…

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 …You wait for one post and two arrive at once.

I’ve been in Atlanta since June, so I do have an excuse (sort of).

During this time, I’ve been blessed to visit New Orleans and attend the Essence Festival for the very first time. Lots of celebrities were present and I did manage to listen to Alicia Keyes talk about the AIDS crisis, Mary J Blige sing her heart out and observe many just mulling around (sometimes aimlessly). I kept my cool though (unlike when I met Will Smith way back in 2008!)

* So there is something up with my computer today and I can’t post any pictures. Just know that a very nice picture would have gone here! 

 The history of New Orleans is fascinating. The Spanish and French influences in the architecture make it like no other US city I have ever been to.  Such a short visit this time, I did get to attend a drumming session in Louis Armstrong Park. If you get a chance to visit New Orleans make sure you check it out. These men and women meet every week in the spot where hundreds of years ago, African slaves danced and sang songs of their homeland.  When asked if they make every Sunday, one of the participants said; “We try never to miss a  Sunday.”  What heartfelt dedication.

What about the food? Well, the influences of those ancestors forcibly removed from Africa to the USA during the time of slavery is very real and present. I tried Gumbo for the first time and this immediatly reminded me of a Nigerian dish called Peppe Soup. I also had the best hot dog I have ever tasted  (please trust me on this) situated across the road from Louis Armstrong Park, called Dreamy Weenies!

 * picture

So I am back in Atlanta (home away from home) and continuing to sample what this city has to offer. The weather has been great, except for the almost daily rain…  I guess there had to be a reason for all the lovely trees.

Unlike many of it’s residents, I’m not driving whilst in Atlanta so have been getting around on the MARTA train and bus system. Now I am used to the fast and plentiful London transport system, so let’s just say that when the local bus only runs once every hour and not on the weekends, this becomes VERY INTERESTING.

But I am enjoying this ride.

Atlanta has the sunshine, the odd celebrity walking around any given area-but the best thing about here?  The people.

I like to just talk to people, find out their story. Is this because of blatant nosiness or fodder for a future book? Who knows?  But I have met so many wonderful people on this journey so far. In New Orleans I met a former 1960′s civil rights worker, now a retired Pastor who was once babysat by Mahalia Jackson; the man who drove my hotel shuttle bus each day, disclosed that he had once been tortured by the Taliban in  Afghanistan.  The list is endless and I get to add to it every single day.

It’s the southern hospitality that keeps bringing me back to Atlanta, without a doubt- oh and the sunshine!

So, as the title of this blog post suggests, you’re getting two posts for the price of one.

Next up, writing coach Rosemary Dun let’s us in to the world of First Drafts & The Alchemy of Teaching Creative Writing…

Enjoy (and sorry for the lack of pics- they were good too- blame the computer or slow internet connection!!)

Thank You For The Rainbows Dr Maya Angelou

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“You may write me down in history          10344813_690940090972459_7465878395489131365_n

With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise. “

Earlier this year, I decided to purchase the entire volume of Dr Maya Angelou’s autobiography. Since then I have devoured each word, marvelling over the prose and vivid descriptions of her subjects; gasping periodically at the scenarios of a life lived by this one woman.

I am currently on volume 3:  The Heart of A Woman. Only this morning, I sat on the tube reading it with a smile on my face (as usual) as I read a passage confirming Dr Angelou had lived in the very area of London I now reside. This small minute detail thrilling every part of me; in some way ‘linking’ me with this wonderfully courageous, spirited and amazing woman.

When the news broke of her spiritual ascension I knew that although the world of literature and humanity as a whole had lost something beautiful,  heaven had gained a new freedom fighting, deeply loving, witty, humble and courageous human being.

Rest in Paradise Dr Angelou.

 

An Author’s Take On Traditional vs E- Publishing!

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Helloooo,

What’s your view on the E-publishing phenomenon? I thought it best to ask someone in the know, so my May interview is with Author/Realtor and ordained Minister Timmothy B McCann! –

Here are his views on the self publishing phenomenon!

Attention writers of every elk! You stand on the precipice of an amazing day in writing, where you can curse the light or embrace its warmth. Why? Because you can contribute to the world in a way you have never contributed before.

Would you find it hard to believe that the next Anna Karenina could have gone to the grave with its author? Would you find it shocking that an agent could have passed on the next Madame Bovary and said “This is not plausible?” Believe it or not a tale as powerful as War and Peace sits on a five inch “floppy disk” somewhere and the world will never hear the story. Why? Because of access.

The e-publishing phenomena is the greatest thing to happen to writers since Gutenberg invented the printing press. And before you consider that to be a hyperbolic statement allow me to explain.

Prior to Johannes Gutenberg creating what would be later known as “movable type,” disseminating information was very difficult. For approximately 4,500 years before the printing press, ideas were engraved or tediously written on surfaces such as stone, clay, papyrus, wax, and parchment. Can you just imagine how mind-numbing it must have been for a creative mind moving at the speed of light? To have to have the patience to share a story when it could take hours upon hours to write the first draft of a single paragraph? When some experts say we can mentally process over 600 words every sixty seconds, would you have the patience to carve one or two words a minute into stone?

Well, just as man made a monumental leap from stone to clay. From clay to papyrus, wax and eventually parchment. And from parchment to computers, we are in the midst of taking yet another leap when it comes to the dissemination of our thoughts and ideas.

As a writer, there is nothing worse than to have the following thought: The creative side of me is saying I should write it like this because I don’t think there has been a book writtenthis way before. But the commercial side of me is pushing me to write it like that because that is what the editor/agent feels the public will want to read. Regrettably, the way this is resolved by many writers is to simply sacrifice the creative side of their nature begging them to do this and simply do that in order to get published. This is literary blasphemy. Timm B. McCann

The advantages of e-publishing are as follows:

INTIMACY: Because you do not have the corporate behemoth known as a publisher standing between you and the public, you can create stories that an editor may not know how to pitch to the powers that be in an editorial board room. FINANCIAL: Imagine this. Imagine receiving 70% of the sales price of your book in weeks! AVOID THE BOX: You can write anything you like whenever you like. This is frowned upon by publishers. For instance I have a book of love stories  -Nine Faces of Loveplus a book entitledWhat Does It Mean to be a Christian Part 1.  How many publishers would allow such a thing?  RIGHTS: You own them all!

My fellow writer you have the opportunity to tell your grandchildren you stood on the precipice of literary change and took advantage of it—without cursing the light of a new day. Why? Because you now have access and access is power. This is a moment we’ve never seen before and my parting advice to you is simply, carpe diem!

 

Thanks Timm!

 

Timmothy B. McCann is a bestselling author and currently owns and operates a real estate brokerage and E Publishing company in Atlanta Ga. He has taught a course on the collegiate level entitled “The Art Of Commercial Fiction” and before E – publishing, penned four novels with Harper Collins and Kensington Books; Until… AlwaysForever and Emotions