It is week 29 on “The Next Big Thing Blog Hop”, and I was tagged by the phenomenal Fiona Zedde. The purpose of this blog hop is to expose folks to writers and their work that perhaps they haven’t heard of, whether a new release (story, novel, novella, etc) or a Work in Progress (WIP).
According to the rules of the hop, I will be answering some questions (the same ones for every other blog hopper) about my newest release, The Secrets of Mercy (June 2013, ebonyLotus|Publishing). At the bottom of the post, I’ve listed an author who will do the same thing in their blog on Wednesday, February 6th.
The Secrets of Mercy
Where did the idea come from for the book?
The idea for this book was birthed from my passion for drawing awareness to the continuous problem of domestic violence and my love for the stories of the slavery time-period.
What genre does your book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Lynn Whitfield would be perfect for the role of “First Lady”, a black slave woman that lives the life of a white plantation mistress, Suzzanne Douglas could play the role of either “First Lady” or “Sylvia” a former slave woman who shares an unlikely bond with her mistress. Sally Field would suit the role of Mistress Vivian Purvis quite nicely. Either Rachel True or Lisa Bonet is the image I see for “Yuna”, the daughter of “First Lady” and “Master Butler”.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
The Secrets of Mercy follows the lives of four southern women as they each define for themselves and pursue what it truly means to be free in a world of slavery and abuse.
What is the longer synopsis of your book?
News of emancipation reaches the southern town of Mercy where within its boundaries four women journey to define freedom within their lives. They endure abuse, tend to unrequited love and ache from broken families. Suffering too long, only their dreams, desires and secrets hold them up each day.
Sylvia, a cook on the Purvis Plantation, hungers in silent desperation for a life with her sons who were sold years ago and for her husband who sleeps beside her filled with fury in his fists. She is not the only bruised soul on the plantation. Mistress Vivian Purvis moves about Mercy with a veneer of perfection, a fabricated likeness of the perfect wife to one of the town’s wealthiest and distinguished men. He, too, is lined in a pretty caul to conceal his brilliant misimpression. In their suffering, the two women discover they can help each other stand up and heal.
The resounding news marks the lawful end of slavery for Blacks, yet, on a neighboring plantation, they do not scatter and run, they do not gather up their children and move their free limbs in a joyous, gallant departure. Instead, they are trepid not eager, frighten not dotish. The deaths of Blacks brave enough to leave the plantation behind have their legs stiff with fear as they watch their neighbors kick up dust pulling their belongings behind them. There, with sharp eyes and long ears resides First Lady, a black slave and the Master’s mistress, who lives in luxury and exploits her position among the other slaves. When the comforts of her life begin to dwindle at the onset of emancipation, frenzied and despondent, she strives to maintain the past to secure the future for herself and her daughter, Yuna. A woman with her own desires, Yuna, struggles against her mother’s manipulations and stingy love for a different life all her own.
In Mercy, secrets hide in sluggish water and misfortune roams upright, and without restraint. When freedom rings, each woman finds she is a prisoner grappling for some of it. Within their journeys, they discover the passageway to freedom resides within.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
The Secrets of Mercy will be released by press, ebonyLotus | Publishing.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Nearly 6 years! Many start overs, “I quits”, “I can’t do this” “I CAN do this!” and sleepless nights.
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
The inspiration for this book came from a combination of the lives of the women of my family and hearing the stories of other families whose lives have been impacted by domestic violence. Frequently, domestic violence seems to be family heirloom passed on from generation to generation. In the early years of my life, my great-grandmother told me stories about the life of her great-grandmother, Priscilla, who as a slave endured many types of violence at the hands of masters, strangers, and loved ones. The imprint of the stories of my ancestors on my creative memory and bearing witness to domestic abuse in my own home and those of many of my friends, I knew it was my duty…my honor, as a writer, to give voice to those beaten into silence. I wanted to tell a story that not only told the truth about domestic violence and its limitless boundaries across class and race during slavery, but also illustrate the friendships and relationships that called upon the strength needed to endure and survive.
Next Wednesday, check out the blog of Maliika Marsh to find out about her Next Big Thing!
While in San Fran, I found one of my favorite stores, Papyrus. There, on clearance I found this single golden bound refillable notebook. Decided to buy it and continue fulfilling one of my 2012 goals into 2013, writing more personal letters. I have 2 penpals and may get more this year. Even simmering an idea for women’s shelter letters. Here’s to moving from the inbox back to the mailbox with the #goldennotebook. “B personal” in 2013. -B
They lied. They said that starting is the hard part. The middle is where the challenge lies. Standing at the top of the mountain of pages and words looking back and thinking you’ve come to far to quit and looking ahead feeling that you just don’t know if you can make it to the finish line. Yep, they lied.
I’m at that part that I know (intuitively) is the middle of my novel…and excuse my french when I say, its scary as hell. I’ve attempted writing this book many times in many ways. Pieces here and pieces there. But this time around, no outline, just intuition and the joy of being a pantser. I know how far I’ve come. I lay out my book in print format simply for the ego-driven joy of seeing it that way and knowing the page number that I have made it to. I’ve successfully written my way to page 154 of what a reader would be holding in their hand. That pleases me.
Yet, the scene I’m wading through right now doesn’t feel write. It simply feels like words written to be pushed along. I dare to back up and return to the last place I felt “the heat” because I’ve made it this far and darn it, Im determined to keep going forward.
For my break, today I picked up what is becoming one of favorite “writing books”, Alderson’s Plot Whisperer, and wouldn’t you know it (of course you would , I landed right on the page talking about middles and how to handle them. She talks about this being a good place to describe the world (my words, not hers) of your character. This is good, because I have been thinking quite a bit lately about the fact that I have not been doing very much description. Its my weakness, I believe, my editor disagrees. Some days, it flows like poetry and others, Im heavy in the pages of the thesaurus looking for some variety and flavor. I question whether this is the best time for me to work on description, but where I am in the story, the timing is perfect. Its me. Its all me. Its me standing in my way. Move, will you!?!?!
I dare to skip ahead, as I am kinda proud of the no holes draft I have so far. So Im going to simply try to place my mind in this new place and time that my character is currently in and paint it with words for the readers. How dare I’ve driven her there and yet to explore the place myself. Is that wrong? Yes.
Its a Langston Hughes kinda lyric in the winds today. Feels determined to be heard.
Black stomping in on dark brown clouds.
An overcast hovering over Justice’s hooded mind.
Funny how the hood still plays its part, once white with two holes for seeing and reciting the hateful lines in a wrongful script.
The weather won’t let up. The rains are drowning out the Truths of a child’s call.
We, the people, pick up the receiver a bit too late to help
But still in time to say something.
This feels like a Langston Hughes kinda morning, y’all
Where the lyrics of a people’s activism glide in the wind, feeling determined to be heard.
Determined to be heard.
(…to be continued, in movement)
(c) 2012 Brook Blander
Its been a very long time since I bought this book. To be honest, its been long enough for me to have forgotten when I bought it and even where. But apparently, it came into my life for a reason, and the season for it has finally arrived.
In my latest venture to redesign my studio, complete with painting and needed window treatments, I had to move all of my books out of my studio and into another room to maneuver books cases and shelves. Being very particular about the workings of this space now, I took the time to go through all of my books one by one and categorize them before bringing them back in.
I ran across “This Could Be a Novel”, a sort of sectional journal for all the main elements of a writing a novel…character sketches, dialogue, etc. The time of finding it could not be more perfectly aligned as I am finally finished with all of my design projects and working away at getting my novel written. What is it about, you ask? Well, with each writing session, Im discovering the answers to that very question.
You see, Im writing without an outline on a novel that has changed directions several times. While many very right-brained (or is it left brained?) writers would frown upon that, I am taking the journey or writing this novel as a spiritual one. Im praying and meditating for guidance on what to write next, and I am, (what I believe is channelling), writing the most intimate details of the lives of my characters.
While I use the colored notecards in a treasure box method of outlining and brainstorming, Ive decided to utilize its compartmentalized way of organizing along side my notecards. Why? Especially if the notecard method is working? Well, because I have no outline of the course of this story, lots of information comes at me from many different directions. I may have and idea and write it out on the notecard, and then a few hours later, the same idea comes, but totally reversed details. Which method leads you to writing a better story? I don’t know, but having more than one method of capturing the possibilities sounds like a winner to me. Who knows…it could actually be the telling of two different books in the end.
My point…capture everything, and keep it organized in whatever method works for you. You never know when you’ll get more than one idea, try one and it doesn’t turn out the way you intended. You can always quickly return to the other idea(s) awaiting you.
Until the next word,
Let me explain.
National Novel Writing Month is a month dedicated to reaching for a writing goal of 50,000 words. The rules are write freely, crap and all. That 1667 words per day. Thats a lot of words…especially if they are words that you are writing just to hit a word count goal. For me, thats not what writing is about. And for me, thats not what participating in NaNoWritMo is about.
For me, participating in NaNoWritMo is about working towards my goal of being a writer that WRITES, producing my greatest work on a daily basis. If each day I hit the one thousand six hundred and sixty seven words, thats a bonus, a great bonus. But if each day, I write six words, well, those six words, I know, are six words of my defined greatness.
NaNoWritMo to me, for me, is a community of energy of simply writing. Its a cheerleading team cheering you on to your goal. That goal, you can make yourself. That goal, doesn’t have to be word count. That goal, can be to simply write. In my opinion, thats the best goal to have, especially if you are writing a novel for the first time. NaNoWritMo is an energy flowing around the world to write. I can get with that. Its many people doing for one month something that they’ve put off doing their whole life. I like that too. For many, making the time to write, no matter how many words, for one month out of the year is Bucket List worthy and this is their shot at crossing it off. Im totally cool with that. And to those that want to finish a 50,000 word first draft of a novel in 30 days, go for it, if that is what you want to do. To each his own.
As for this writing woman, its about riding the energy wave being fueled by writers all over the world and using it as yet another motivation to write daily. Yesterday, I wrote 21 words. Today, I wrote 2162. Both days, I feel I’ve been successful in reaching my goal. What people need to remember here, (and in life, if I may dare to go that far) is that everything that is setup with a certain motivation doesn’t necessarily have to be your motivation. Use it however you need to, in the dosage that works for you. Take from it the parts that accommodate what you are in need of and leave the rest. Its that simple. Lastly, don’t cancel it out because its intended motivation and your motivation are not the same. (Yeah, that was deep.)
So there, I really don’t care about winning…all I really care about is writing.
Until next time…
Its a truth be told in restarted letters kind of day
A voice in a cast iron skillet, I’ve got something to say kind of day
Its never the right time to quit, but Im watching the hands on the clock of my life kind of day
Its an offer me water, boiling hot, killing the germs of bad words kind of day.
Its tears on a tissue meant for whipping my behind kind of day
Its not fit to carry my thick girl weight, a scaled back kind of day
Been chained to a fence, cant say my name in another language kind of day
Ive flip the stations on a TV hoping to catch my interest kind of day
Sell me your products that I need to remedy the disease of the last thing I bought from you kind of day
Casper’s a friendly ghost but I want my great granny’s spirit here with me kind of day
I jump at the sound of the chimes dancing just as I asked them to kind of day
Write whats in your heart not your distorted thought-filled head kind of day
Pull the plug out of the claw foot basin of my soul kind of day
Leave me alone and let my pains drain away kind of day
The breath traveling through my lungs skip the last part of the trip kind of day
Pull the covers up over my head, its scary as hell out there kind of day
Wondering if the Universe hears my cry kind of day
That kind of day.
Sometimes life happens, and you simply don’t want to do anything but stay in bed and mope. On those days, you’re still a writer(or whatever your love is for). On those days, when you push yourself to do what you love, even for 5 simple minutes, that’s when you learn what you’re made of and what your true calling is, and why you are here in this life.
I tossed back the covers and wrote, even if I did nothing else today…even if only for a little while…even if only for me…even if the words are never read. I wrote to breathe. And I encourage you to take time to do what you love, even if only for yourself every now and then.
A Breathing, Human, Real-Life Writer from the Heart…Because I Must Be
Today is the first day that I have sat down, wiped everything from my to-do list, and am reclaiming my Wednesday Writing sessions. I’m sitting here at my kitchen table, no clue why I chose to sit here, vs going into my studio, with my three journals stacked next to me. One, I have been writing in for over a year, and Im about 3/4 the way through it. One, I recently found the lined pages that I have been searching for for over a year, so I intend to christen those today with simply a quote of inspiration for myself. And lastly one that I purchased last week with intentions of dedicating it solely to my two current projects. I also have Stephanie Dowrick’s Creative Journal Writing book that I have been enjoying for the past few weeks. Its inspiring to me as a journal writer and with my current project about journaling. So I keep it handy. From there, two of my favorite pens, a black and a purple fine tip sharpie. Laptop, which my family refers to as “the little croissant” in front of me. Im ready.
But I don’t begin…
Oh how I dream of the days that I will be more able to push my writing button inside and like the old days of Inspector Gadgett, say “Go go, gadget WRITE!” Until then, I’m going to sit here, with my hand on the keyboard, an open document in front of me and wait. Cause that’s what we writers sometime have to do…