Day 3…

I refuse to rent space in my mind as to how many errors my editor may find. But after five passes of my own plus a software edit… it’s time for a short hiatus.

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Another step closer. Its headed to the editor tomorrow. God is awesome!!!

Dream the dream that God gave you. Pursue the dream that God gave you.

Day 1, 2016

Last night I heard a message in church… what you love is a clue to your assignment. If you don’t do it, God will give it to someone else to do; so don’t waste time.

This was me the first day of the year…

Writing New Years Day 2016

Is a writer ever finished?

This is the year that dreams will come true… Happy New Year!!!

Another Social Media Site

I’m trying my hand at another social media site, Pinterest. That’s now six plus two FB pages… smh… Is this how it is supposed to be for a writer? Have any of you tried Pinterest? How do you use it?

I’m using one board to collage images from my book. Hopefully it will help build mental pictures for readers and generate interest.Take a look.

Today My Son Got A Lesson In Color

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In his innocence, when walking out of Flemington Porsche, I asked my son if there was anything he noticed while inside.

He said, “Nothing.”

But of course he noticed  the $194,750 price tag on the 911 Turbo S.

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After I pointed out to him that none of the sales consultants acknowledged us during our 15 minute visit, he remained oblivious to my point. From his perspective, the salesmen were helping others. But I pointed out, two reps were chatting it up in the corner and didn’t give us so much as a hello.

He smiled, “Oh.”

I smiled in return. “It is the world we live in,” I said. “Don’t focus on race but be aware and prepared for what you will face as a black boy/man.

His innocence is not the result of me not teaching him, it’s his clean unscathed Spirit. Like his father at age 13, he looks for the good in people first.

Maybe it was the way I was dressed.

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Are You A Man or An Ostrich?

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There are no broad strokes that can be applied to racism or the people who commit the heinous acts. Other than what you’ve gleaned from the barrage of news and social media sources – How real has racism been in your life?

I can hear you… Here we go again. When are black people going to let it go? Why do we harp on and give attention to racist idiots?

But I volley back – Why do you insist on shushing the topic?

The New Racism

Nigger, Cracker, Chink, Wop, Kike, Wetback, Dot Head, Jap, Sand Nigger, Mick, White Trash, Hajji… Which have you been called? Or even if under your breath, which have you used?

God led action, real discourse – not idle prayer – heals marriages, redirects unruly children and can heal this country of the lingering ghosts of racism. To fix it, we must walk in discomfort.

A Cry Among Men – The Novel, tells the story of an unsuspecting black investment banker’s brutal encounter with racism at the hands of a white man. The tragic fallout affected his family and everyone else around him.

How passionate should we be about seeing generations of hate destroyed?  Regardless of your ethnicity, racism will someday touch you or someone in your life. But it affects people in different ways. Some internalize, while others become racists themselves.

Whether subtle or brutal, as a reader of this post, how has racism affected you? How did the incident(s) make you feel? What action did you take? How would you support someone who has experienced racism? What can our country do to end racism?

Ostriches don’t bury their heads in the sand, but the myth serves as a good visual for those who believe avoidance will save their life.

Thank you for reading…

What Makes You Read A Book?

Many believe a writer’s voice on paper should replicate the voice they hear during normal everyday conversation. I don’t.

During my college years at VSU, I had a Shakespeare and Expository Writing professor named, Dr. Garnett Lloyd Mack. He was the epitome of a brilliant scholar. By the time my senior year arrived, I had come to appreciate his philosophy on elevated writing.

Written words are to embrace the reader.

My blog post, How Did You Get Your Style, not only compared screenplay writing to novel writing but talked to some extent about words. Words are available to everyone, so how do great writers use them to make their work great? How much time should a writer spend on one sentence or paragraph to make sure it’s the best use of words and tells that unforgettable story?

I don’t possess an endless vocabulary like Michael Baisden or Cornel West appear to have, so I use a thesaurus. Oh my, have I committed the ultimate writer’s sin? Every writer wants to write that page turner people can’t put down. I realize I can’t please every reader’s taste, but I have changed countless sentences, countless times in hopes of elevating my writing for you, the reader.

Some readers can only stomach middle school level writing, while others prefer spicier, intellectual, more sophisticated writing. There is nothing wrong with the later, but when reading a 350 page novel, having a dictionary nearby may make you want to puke.

A Cry Among Men – The Novel is a fictional look at Don Wilcox’s horrific encounter with racism. It is a different perspective of the times in which we are living. In telling the story, I don’t try to mimic Tony Morrison or Maya Angelou or James Baldwin. But as a writer building his literary legacy, what will make you want to read more? Or dismiss it as less than quality reading?

Of the sentences below, I give two ways to craft a sentence in a story. Neither is wrong, but which writing style keeps you on the page?

A) It was the place where lots of money is made and the rich became richer and more powerful.

B) It was where many say morally offensive amounts of money, headlines and economic power are created or transferred on a daily basis, moving us nearer to an oligarchic society.

——-

A) Many were happy with the idea of progress while others laughed.

B) There were those who applauded the notion of progress while many cachinnated at the idea.

——-

A) She’d perfected tatterdemalion.

B) She was a rough, run down woman.

——-

A) Don sat in darkness and stared out the window.

B) Fraught with self inspection, Don sat in darkness and stared out the window.

——-

A) She stepped in and owned the truth for them.

B) She agreed.

As always, thank you for following and reading my blog and if you haven’t done so, please also follow me on:

Twitter: @cerskinefilms

and like:

http://www.facebook.com/cerskinefilms

http://www.facebook.com/ACryAmongMenTheNovel

A Cry Among Men – The Novel coming soon…

When Everything Else Fails… Write!!!

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My son gave me this pen for my birthday last week then he asked, “Are you gonna use it, dad?”

“Yes, baby boy,” I said. “I love it. Thank you.”

You should have seen the smile on his 13 year old face, because he knows his daddy’s dream.

But I ask you writers out there – When was the last time you used a pen for something other than signing your name on a check, an agreement, a bar or restaurant receipt? This is a tool, our tool to use when everything else fails or even before it fails. That MAC or Dell or HP or iPad or note app on your cell phone will fizzle and without a pen we are SOL.

The pen and pad are our survival. Those notes in the middle of the night, a scribble while driving, on the train or plane; or pretending we’re focused in a meeting while we’re actually crafting our story or an idea that will become the next great piece of literature or film.

No matter what happens to the technology in our everyday lives, with a pen, our ideas will never die…

A Matter of Style

Writing A Cry Among Men – The Novel has become this perfect imperfect journey. Writing, editing, rewriting and more editing have neared incessancy. And because I refuse to publish a disappointing representation of quality, I have yet to hand it off to an editor.

In the beginning, writers steal words outside of their own vocabulary or a style (I’ve done both without plagiarism) from well known produced or published writers but the focus always leads back to developing your own style, a voice with your name on it.

Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, Elif Shafak, Paulo Coelho, Helen Oyeyemi and Patricia and Alana Raybon have enamored the book world with the way in which they use words to tell a story. In film, screenwriters such as Oliver Stone, Spike Lee, Aaron Sorkin and Quentin Tarantino all put an original spin on their work.

Seven screenplays later, most rewritten more than 10 times, a short and now a novel, I can assuredly say, I have developed a distinct style that I can call my own, one that I hope will gain a loyal following.

In A Cry Among Men, I show a snippet of the same scene in both the screenplay and novel formats. They are drastically different in format, length and wording but sub-textually, they are the same.

The presence of a woman who has no direct or obvious relevance to the story speaks very clearly to the fulminating hell that Don is in.

Screenplay (Semi-finalist – Final Draft, Big Break Contest)…

Don takes a seat next to HAPPY HOMELESS WOMAN feeding pigeons.  Even in her state, life is good.

HAPPY HOMELESS WOMAN

                              Hi, you want some bread to feed the birds?

                                                                         DON

                              No, thanks.

HAPPY HOMELESS WOMAN

                              What a beautiful day.

Novel…

     He took a seat next to a woman who had been feeding pigeons most of the day. Her name, Millicent Rodgers. Once a very wealthy socialite, she’d been without a home for nearly two years following a suspicious house fire, which occurred during her brutal divorce from a wealthy commodities trader. Though he was never implicated in the arson, the slithering bastard buried every asset they had in over thirty different shell corporations and left her penniless. She had no family. No dog. No cat. Her remaining friends were the alley rats. The diseased pigeons. She’d perfected tatterdemalion. All of her worldly effects were stuffed into one frail pull cart. Her dingy pink dress, once red, drooped over her cramped shoulders. Black and gray Ralph Lauren mules were cracked  with heels run over towards the inside. Her dirty blonde hair was unkempt, partially matted, the rest straggly giving in to the appearance of head lice. Periodically, she’d make her way into a drug store, not for meds, but to steal red nail polish; a desperate attempt to make herself feel pretty again or to hide her dirty jaundice colored fingernails or recapture her dignity. Nothing was worse, though, than the distinct smell of a combined mixture of dirt and musty urine that clogged the air around her.

     Her circumstances, a place the world routinely views as destitute and hopeless, didn’t hide an incredible sparkle in her eyes or the peace surrounding her.

     “Hi,” she said to Don with a warm smile.

     “Hello,” he said.

     “Do you want some bread to feed the birds?”

     “No, thank you.”

     She looked away, closed her eyes and softly nosed the air. A smile appeared again. And the twinkle in her eyes grew brighter. “What a beautiful day God has given us. Did you realize that no matter what kinds of blows life throws at us, God will always be with us?”

     Boggled by her introspection, Don stared at her without a response. That was okay by Millie, as her friends used to affectionately call her.

     “God hears our cries,” she said, “and when it’s time, his angels will come swarming down from the heavens to rescue us.”

     In a blink, Don had found himself face-to-face with life’s perfect irony. Relevance had trumped irrelevance.

Who knew but God that my two obsessive years of writing A Cry Among Men – The Novel would further develop my style, my authentic voice as a writer.