I Got A Book Deal – Now What?

You read that right, kid! In today’s post I’ll be explaining the process and what comes next for me. I hope you’ll stick around!

I used to imagine myself living all sorts of lives: a doctor, an adventurer, a journalist, maybe an astronaut? Little by little, those dreams transformed into this nebulous thing, a sort of hovering cloud of possibilities that enlivened me as they frightened. There was too much, you see. Too much to do, too much time, too little time to become the right version of future me.

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Eventually, I realized all I really wanted – needed – was to dream. There would never be a life for me that would be fulfilling if I had to be the same person every single day. Sure, the outfits might change, but I would still be doing the same things, learning the same lessons, and wondering the same thing: what if?

If you haven’t rolled your eyes yet, here comes the kicker! I realized a few years ago that I needed to create. I needed to learn from other people and put those lessons into practice so that I would be brave enough to go after the seemingly impossible. I worked with my friend Jesse Kadjo to write for her food blog, I branched out into freelancing, and settled into writing full-time with the end goal being providing for myself as an artist. To put it mildly, it was agonizing!

 

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What no one tells you about creative endeavors is that once you start putting your imagination into practical practice (i.e. to survive) it becomes a job rather than an escape. You start to overthink it and second-guess your worth. Thankfully, I had help along the way in the form of interviewees on this blog, and outside of it, who reminded me that to truly create you have to forfeit some control. So, I accepted what I could not change – artistic limitations, access to influence, style limitations – and focused on what I could expand. I read more than I had since college and listened to hear. I went to conferences, I made friends who write, and I did my best to stay true to myself. When I heard no after no, I realized I would have to get tough if I wanted to see it through.

Here’s the good thing about rejection, though: it forces you to re-evaluate your intentions. I had to consider who I was writing for, why I was writing, what I wanted, and where I wanted to be. With those answers in mind, I was connected with Chelsea Lockhart, the founder of Written In Melanin Publishing. Chelsea began her company in 2019 to work primarily with Black authors to spread stories featuring diverse characters. We connected on Twitter, and instantly bonded (thank you social media!!). With my answers in mind, we spoke at length about working together. The decision to join was an easy one once I realized Chelsea wanted me as ME. That has been the best lesson thus far: those you’re meant to work with won’t want to change what makes you special. They’ll honor it. Even better, Chelsea asked me to come aboard as a co-host of her Melanin Chat show on YouTube where we talk to authors and artists about their endeavors.

The journey has been long and winding, but it isn’t over yet. I’ve secured a piece of the future and that feels wonderful. But, that nebulous cloud is still hovering, urging me to take another step in an uncharted direction. For what it’s worth, I’m no longer afraid to walk blindly. I hope you’ll stick around to see what comes next as this space continues on as a place for me to share not only my journey, but the inspirational stories of others.

Art GIF by Tessi Eng

Wherever you are, whatever you do, may you do it with joy!

Friday Media Prep: Mermaids, Moms and Movement

Every Friday I will feature the books, movies, TV shows, and other works of art that have been inspiring me, or that I’m looking forward to experiencing. Please share your suggestions below!

Hello, hello, you beautiful people! To round out this wonderful week, I want to send you of with some programming and reading that just might inspire you to get moving, get creating, or get up from a funk. Below you’ll find my selections for the weekend. Saturdays and Sundays are my time to settle back into what I need for a happier life, and these suggestions have got me thinking deeper than before. Enjoy! And as always, stay strong.

Siren

Image via Freeform

This show on Freeform honestly had me at the diverse cast and black mermaid. I remember flopping around the lake near my childhood home, dreaming I was a beautiful lady of the sea – I even have the video footage to prove it! But, this show isn’t your average damsel in distress romp. The mermaids are powerful and ferocious in their own right and striking beyond comparison. Throw in commentary on conservationism, the autonomy of the female body and gender stereotypes, and you have the perfect show for a chick like me. You can stream the first season of Sirenon Hulu before season 2 premiers next year. I also recommend reading this article on Black Girl Nerds for a deeper dive (*wink wink) into the symbolism of the show.

Motherhood

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Elena Scotti for Amazon

As a newlywed who is constantly being pressured to have a popping belly, this title instantly stood out to me. However, after reading Stassa Edwards’ wonderful review of Motherhood Sheila Heti, I’m now dying to cop it. The book focuses on a creative woman’s ambivalence about having a child. Can you remain true to yourself while also being a good mom? Do you have to sacrifice everything or is there middle ground? Does one choice make you a bad person? This topic is rarely presented through the lens of a woman on the cusp of a decision so life-altering, which I truly appreciate in my current state.

Serena Williams all over the place

Serena Williams Harper's Bazaar July issue cover
Image via Harper’s Bazaar

I have been a fan – dare I say obsessively – of Serena and Venus Williams since Venus jumped onto the scene as a young, lanky teen. To see a girl with braids, beads, brown skin and muscles playing a sport I considered off-limits for people like me was life-changing. When Serena hit the courts it was basically game over. Serena didn’t have the type of body people wanted to accept as feminine, which truly affected me deeply. I can’t even count the number of times she was called some variation of ugly in an attempt to rob her of her glory. Yet, she stood tall and continued to kick that booty. Now, she’s a wife and mother who refuses to slow down or be defeated. You can catch Serena in the newest issue of Harper’s Bazaar, playing in the French Open (3 AM EST) or over at her new clothing line. I’m trying to grab a few of her lovely pieces.

Uppity Women Unite!

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Every Friday I will feature the books, movies, TV shows, and other works of art that have been inspiring me, or that I’m looking forward to experiencing. Please share your suggestions below!

Good morning, my fellow badasses! I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling particularly bedraggled. This last week left me feeling stretched thin and dusty, so I decided to return to a book that really pumped me up when I first read it.

Uppity Women Speak Their Minds by Vicki Leon is a collection of quotes from unstoppable women of various time periods and cultures. The short read is from her Uppity Women series, and it touches upon the struggles they faced to survive and thrive regardless of their lot in life. What I loved about the book then, and as I rediscover it now, is how easily I could apply their desires to my own life. If nothing else, don’t we all simply want to live life on our own terms? Through highs or lows, prosperity or struggle – the human desire to fight on never ceases to amaze me.

 

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While some of the featured ladies might have a bad rap today (Marie Antoinette), we can still learn a little from their stories. Being uppity doesn’t mean you have to be a snob – on the contrary, I think it means knowing your worth, holding onto it, and demanding you be treated with the respect we all deserve. You also uplift others, because you know their shine can never dim yours. I’m not suggesting you transform into some kind of tyrant, but I do encourage you to hold your head high in the face of those who would rather you shrink.

I hope you’ll give the book a read! It’s short enough to finish over the weekend, but just weighty enough to stay with you for quite some time. Let me know in the comments what you’re reading this week! Enjoy your weekend!

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