Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Writer's Block

The best part of every author is in general to be found in his book, I assure you. -Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

Black History Salute

In honor of Black History Month, I will be featuring a total of four, one every week, of Black American's who have contributed to the creative arts community.  Stay Tuned!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Writer's Block

The writer is committed when he plunges to the very depths of himself with the intent to disclose, not his individuality, but his person in the complex society that conditions and supports him. 
-Jean Paul Sartre (1905-1980)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Writer's Block

There is one last thing to remember: writers are always selling somebody out. -Joan Didion (born December 5, 1934)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Writer's Block

I keep six honest serving men. (They taught me all I know); Their names are What and Why and When and How and Where and Who.   
-Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Personal Branding

I was sitting in a workshop several weeks ago and the facilitator brought up the topic of “Your Personal Brand”. She talked about the subject from the perspective of branding yourself to be more marketable to employers. However, I processed and adapted the information to strategize a plan to build my personal brand in relation to my passion and other areas of expertise.

In doing this, I thought about the ideas and goals in relation to fueling my brand as both a Writer and Entrepreneur and focused the direction of that brand toward creativity and wordsmy strengths!  Now that you have insight into the building of my brand, please feel free to use the following equation I developed to help in building your own personal brand and strategy:

You+Your Passion+Your Skills=Your Brand

It takes you to build your brand.

It takes passion to build your brand. What do you love to do? It is often tied to your natural ability (in my case writing). There are no stupid or small passions!

It takes recognition of your passion coupled with your skills (the thing we learn to do well) to market you and take your brand to another level. Based upon my passion of writing, the following skills (associated with creativity and writing) would help to fuel my brand:
  1. Free use of my imagination
  2. Restructuring of goals to create new ones
  3. Combine ideas and information in innovative ways
  4. Seek out new information and people with expertise
I hope this has been informative and given you a little insight into branding.

With that said, what do you feel is your personal brand and how can you adapt your passion to fuel that brand? 

Other Related Links:
Oakland County Michigan Works! Centers

Brand-Yourself: Become Remarkable

Writer's Block

Writing is turning one's worst moments into money.
-Georges Simenon (1903-1989)

The Freedom Writers

I was channel surfing recently and came across the movie The Freedom Writers. For those that do not know, the movie is based upon the real life story of Erin Gruwell who is played by Hillary Swank. Gruwell goes to teach in an inner-city school and encounters at-risk students who are limited by their social economic status and divided by race while struggling to survive.  In her quest to understand her students and their unique individual stories, she develops an unorthodox teaching method that involved the use of writing as an outlet to produce change in themselves and their environment.

I remember sitting in class and a professor that I adored because of his passion for teaching and him working hard to instill that same passion in us, informed the class that we would be watching a documentary based upon the true-life story of Erin Gruwell and The Freedom Writers. At that time, the movie had not been released, however had been gaining a lot of momentum and publicity in anticipation of its upcoming release.
The documentary went more in depth into the lives of The Freedom Writers and Erin Gruwell, the teacher that inspired them to write. I remember sitting in class and not being able to contain my emotion. To be honest, there was no dry eye in the room. You may ask, why was I weeping? Well, it was because I love to write and understand how powerful writing can be for the writer. In addition, I had never been through what those teens endured, but I could still identify and feel their desperation, pain, passion and perseverance to survive…bleeding through! It was a while later after watching the documentary before The Freedom Writers came out in theaters, but I still remember being moved to tears in the same way.  This is a must see for those who love writing and words as much as I do and are additionally looking for a movie to inspire themselves and/or their students.

The writing that came from these students produced a publication called The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens used writing to change themselves and the World Around Them (1999). The proceeds of the book go to The Freedom Writers Foundation that seeks to change the educational system one classroom at a time by providing educators with transformative tools to engage, enlighten and empower at-risk students to their full potential (http://www.freedomwritersfoundation.org). What a powerful mission!

I do not want to give all the details because I want each of you to read, see and hear for yourself. I have included clips in the “Speak Your Piece” (in the upward right corner) section highlighting The Freedom Writers movie and other related clips. Please click on the link above for additional information in relation to the Freedom Writers Foundation and leave your comments below. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Writer's Block

Writer's aren't exactly people, they're a whole lot of people trying to be one person. -F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Writer's Block

Journalism allows it's readers to witness history. Fiction gives its readers an opportunity to read it. -John Hersey (1914-1993)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Writer's Block

The pen is mightier than the sword.
-Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Scrapped...SOPA and PIPA!

White House will not support SOPA, PIPA
See attached link for details:

Writer's Block

No tears and the writer, no tears and the reader. 
-Robert Frost (1874-1963)

Your Stance: SOPA and PIPA

I believe the question on most people’s mind is, what is SOPA and PIPA and what does it mean to the public? Especially for those who have adapted the usage of the World Wide Web into their daily life and/or business affairs? 

First, I would like to start with the meaning of the acronyms SOPA and PIPA. SOPA: The Stop Online Piracy Act and its senate companion PIPA: Protect IP Act. There has been major buzz associated with SOPA and PIPA that have created pandemonium within the social media networks and formed dividing lines in regards its support. In Jared Newman’s article featured in PC World, he states, “Enter SOPA, in the U.S. House of Representative, and PIPA, in the U.S. Senate. Both bills are aimed at the foreign website (click link to see specific sites) that infringe copyrighted material. The bills are commonly associated with media piracy, but may also apply to counterfeit consumer goods and medication. 

You probably do not have to think too hard to identify someone (outside of foreign site offenders) that is or has been in violation of copyright infringement known as piracy. So, if you are thinking, not me! Unfortunately, you too made the mistake when you burned a copy of your favorite compact disc to play in your car.  I know that sounds extreme, but it is true. When pondering the consequences associated with pirating, it actually seems like an insignificant punishment in comparison.  SOPA and PIPA provide two methods in which they seek to enforce legislation against violators that in my opinion seems rather extreme.

I have listed below both methods these bills seek to use in fighting copyright infringement on foreign websites pulled from the article “SOPA and PIPA: Just the Facts” (Newman, PC World): 

1: The U.S. Department of Justice could seek court orders requiring internet service providers to block the domain names of the infringing sites
·         For example, Comcast would prevent its customers from accessing
sites in violation, although the underlying IP address would still be re
2: It would allow rights holders to seek court orders requiring payment providers, advertisers, and search engines to stop doing business with an infringing site.
·         In other words, rights holders would be able to request that funding be cut off from an infringing site and that search links to that site be removed

The methods of policing and upholding the legislation involved with both bills would in my opinion limit the freedom that World Wide Web users have and put the power of censorship into the hands of the government and your internet service provider... at the subscribers expense!

So my next question is, who is in support? Well according to Bill Chappell’s article  titled “Q&A: Congress, SOPA And A Fight Over The Web”, he states, “Essentially large media groups support the proposed bills— corporations such as Time Warner and News Corp., and industry groups that include the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America, and the U.S. Chamber of Congress. They say they’re losing billions of dollars each year to counterfeiting and file-sharing enterprises based overseas. (http://www.npr.org/2012/01/18/145423947/q-a-sopa-congress-and-a-fight-over-the-web)

That means popular sites such as Face book, Google, YouTube, Craigslist and Wikipedia just to name a few; who are non-supporters of these bills (see links below for additional non-supporters), risk changes if passed…or becoming non-existent! How can you police millions of users on various sites like Face book, when their business is based upon file sharing via sources from all around the world? I believe it would be a monster to try to do and spoil the fun involved in using sites such as Face book. The fall-out from this could prove to be devastating to both supporters and non-supporters alike.

Bottom line…in my opinion, its about money and greed! Let’s not forget, with the disguise of protecting intellectual property and creative license. 

Based upon what you have read, do you think that SOPA, PIPA, and the methods involved with enforcement are taking it too far? In addition, do you feel you would support both bills if you were one of the corporate giants losing money, or right holders being violated? Lastly, would you continue to use Face book and other popular sites like it, if changes were made that limited and/or prohibited file sharing of post?

 Other Related Links:
Sopa, Pipa: What you need to know
The White House Blog
Obama Administration Responds to we the people Petitions on SOPA and Online Piracy

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Writer's Block

The most original thing a writer can do is write like himself. It is also his most difficult task. -Robertson Davies (1913-1995)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Writer's Block

Writing is one of the easiest things: erasing is one of the hardest. 
-Rabbi Israel Salanter (1810-1883)

"Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell Book Review

I first heard about the book titled “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell while in service this past summer. My pastor made mention of the book and stated it was a good read for the next generation. I intended to read the book then; but forgot, until recently remembering while at the community library.  It is no secret that the community library is one of my favorite places to spend time. I find that the quiet environment and vast amount of information available at my fingertips creates a very creative and productive working environment. Anyway, back to my point! To my surprise, only one of the many copies the library owned was still on the shelf. I quickly grabbed the book and went home to read. I blew through the first three chapters and was not able to put the book down. There are many interesting points that the author discusses within the book that outline factors that distinguish those who dominate in their area of expertise from those that do not. I wanted to take the time to share a few key points that I thought were interesting and encourage you to read the book.

First, let us start with the definition of an outlier (p.3):

1: something that is situated away from or classed differently from a main or related body
2: a statistical observation that is markedly different in value from the others of the sample

It does not take rocket science to indentify people the book classed as an outlier. Just in case, you were wondering, people such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and the Beatles are among that group. However, with a little common sense, you can identify many who were not mentioned such as Oprah that fit the criteria associated with being an outlier. I do not want to give away the entire book because there are other underlying factors that show commonality in the lives of outliers.

 For example, in chapter two, titled “The 10,000- Hour Rule”. According to Gladwell and researchers (2008), “the magic number for true expertise: 10,000 hours” (p. 40). One can draw many conclusions as to the validity of this hypothesis, but I believe the chapter and book as a whole offers clear-cut facts to support this idea. In fact, “the emerging picture from such studies is that ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert— in anything” (Neurologist Daniel Levitin, 2008, p. 40).

This was such an interesting idea that I took it upon myself to read several short autobiographies of those who I considered true experts in their field to test the theory. I have to admit that, I too found that the majority of those who are known as experts in anything, worked to achieve success at a level that many are not willing to do. Gladwell states according to Neurologist Daniel Levitin (2008) that, “In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice skaters, concert pianist, chess players, master criminals, and what have you, this number comes up again and again…but no one had yet found a case in which true world class expertise was accomplished in less time. It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to know to achieve true mastery” (p. 40). 

In my opinion, that is what separates outliers from average people. The story of (your) success or achieving greatness at whatever you feel you are called to do is not achieved over night…as media and reality television likes to paint otherwise! That means there are no shortcuts to lasting success and mastery in your field. If you read the stories of these individuals and many like them, you will conclude that it takes hard work, sleepless nights, dedication, favor, being at the right place at the right time and the attitude that of I will keep pushing no matter what obstacle I face. In that case, I had better get busy if I want to be classified among the great!

I hope I sparked your interest in reading this book…very good read! Please click on the link (http://www.gladwell.com/outliers/index.html). The author answers questions and explains in more detail what “Outliers” is about. The site also includes excerpts from the book (including the 10,000 Hour Rule) and details about other books from the Gladwell Collection. Lastly, please see the “Speak Your Piece” section displaying video clips (located in the upper right corner) from the author. Enjoy!

I appreciate your comments. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

What Does Your Journal Say About You?

According to the dictionary (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/journal), a journal is defined as a personal record of occurrences, experiences and reflections kept on a regular basis. From my observation, a journal is an expression of your innermost thoughts and feelings expressed through words and/or art for the more artistically inclined. I have been journaling and participating in the creative process since I was a teenager. I have used journaling as an outlet to express myself and to dump the cares of this world. I believe your journal tells a story and reflects who you are as a person.

Do you journal...if so, what was your most recent journal entry about and what do you feel your journal says about you?

Writer's Block

It is a sobering thought that each of us gives his hearers and his readers a chance to look into the inner working of his mind when he speaks or writes. - J.M. Barker

Several Wrong's Don't Make Mr. Right- Part 1

This is a series of short stories about the fictional character Ginger and her dating experiences post her promise from Richard who is her childhood best friend. This story is written from first person point of view. Enjoy!

I met Richard at the age of eight while riding my bike down the sidewalk stretch of the four-house minimum I was allowed to travel without supervision. I was so crazy about Richard the moment we locked eyes. He was the youngest of three siblings, however seemed more like the only child because of the age gap. Although he was a boy, we shared many common interests such as video games, basketball and bike riding. We also shared the same carpool to school and during summers, we were inseparable. My mom and dad, being new to the neighborhood, were extremely glad that I had met such a good friend early on. There only concern was that he was a boy and that I preferred playing basketball and other physical sports with Richard as opposed to playing Barbie’s and teatime.

 Many years passed before Richard started to see me differently. I knew things had changed because he began to act awkward in my presence as if he really liked me. His interaction mirrored more of a relational driven one as opposed to friendship based, but he still honored and respected my boundaries. One day while eating dinner with my parents, I asked if I could go on an actual date with Richard. There response in unison was, “Heck No”! I was upset because I was a senior and had already been given the speech from my parents when I was twelve and exposed to things that would make them blush, at school, via the internet and on television. I had also witnessed many of my classmates fall into the traps of unprotected sex and having to deal with the stress associated with the consequences of growing up too fast. In that, I had made a decision early on to stay focused and not put myself in these kinds of predicaments…but the answer was still “No!”

By that time, I had traded in my basketball for pom-poms and Nike’s for stilettos. I had blossomed into a beautiful young woman and I knew it too. My parents, especially my dad, were very protective and monitored where and whom I associated. They often said, “It was not me that they did not trust, but the world we live in”. What a bummer! Although I was graduating in June and capable of making my own decisions, I still could not date Richard outside of us going to Prom. I could not understand why because I had grown up with Richard as my best friend and he frequented the house many times growing up as if he was family. However, my dad still made it a point to ask 21-questions and walk around the house with his gun holstered on his hip. I was so embarrassed, but in the back of my mind knew it would soon be over because I would be leaving for college in the fall.

It seemed as if the last semester of high school flew by and I was standing in the mirror admiring how my prom dress fit like a glove. I was so happy to be in that moment and most importantly glad to share it with the one I loved…Richard! Richard always treated me with respect and displayed similar character likened to my dad. My dad was my hero, so Richard was special to me. After I took one last look in the mirror, my dad walked into my room and looked at me with a look of approval. He peered into my eyes and told me how stunning I looked and to remember who and whose I am? I hugged him as he escorted me downstairs where my date stood waiting in the foyer. Richard looked as handsome as I imagined he would look in his tuxedo. I walked toward Richard as he looked toward my dad. My dad grinned as he closed his jacket hiding his gun. Richard let out a sigh of relief and seemed more relaxed. At that moment, he reached for my hand to place the corsage on my wrist. My mom snapped a picture and continued to take more as we drove off in the limo.

We walked into the prom looking as if we were royalty. All eyes were on the two of us as we parted the crowd to take our seats. We looked around the packed room until we spotted our group of friends already on the dance floor. We excused ourselves from the table and went to join them on the floor. Richard was a great dancer while I was rhythmically challenged. He had tried to teach me to dance on a few occasions, but I could only manage to stumble over my two left feet. That did not stop Richard. He just smiled and pulled me closer while he continued to lead.

After we both broke a light sweat on the dance floor, he escorted me unto a beautiful balcony just off the ballroom. As we stood looking at the moon and then at one another, I thought to myself how in the fall we would be separated by different colleges on opposite ends of the country. Richard hesitated but then started to speak and a single tear fell from my eye. He gently wiped the tear from my cheek, got down on one knee, and pulled a velvet box from his pocket. I looked at him and said, “What are you doing?” Richard responded and said, “Something I have wanted to do forever Ginger”. I started to cry as he opened the box and placed a heart shaped Amethyst and diamond encrusted necklace around my neck promising that we would marry after we finished college. Richard got off his knee and we embraced one another and sealed it with a kiss. 

To Be Continued... 


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Writer's Block

An original writer is not one who imitates, but one whom nobody can imitate. -Francois Rene De Chateaubriand (1768-1848)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Writer's Block

If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job well.  
             Martin Luther King Jr.
US black civil rights leader & clergyman (1929 - 1968)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Has Reality Television Gone Too Far?

What do you think about shows such as Mob Wives, Love & Hip Hop, Housewives of Atlanta (and other cities around the globe), Basketball Wives and so many others that depict the modern woman as drama queens, gold diggers and whores? Do you feel that these woman, who are mothers themselves, can be considered role models for both their children and the women of all ages that flock to watch them on these television shows?