Sunday, June 30, 2013

Is there enough support within the African American Literary Community?

This subject is pretty close to where I live.  I have looked at this problem from both an analytical as well as a business perspective; and although the two don't seem to meet in the middle, there is a way for them to coincide and reside in a place for everyone to be happy.

An author friend once told me that it was great that I supported so many authors through any means possible, but at the same time, I have to support myself.  Maybe my calling is to be a promoter of sorts first and an author second.  But I'll save that for another article.

One of the least as I see it is the lack of support that self-published authors give to one another.  Don't get me wrong, I see other authors that will mention another author's work and at times even give it high praise, but that is clearly not the norm. In this ego driven industry, we are all striving to be the best, and we know that clearly, everyone can't earn that title because otherwise the competition wouldn't be anywhere near as fierce... if indeed there would be a need for competition at all.

Only now am I learning to promote myself shamelessly because I need for people to know who I am.  It is important for people to realize that there is so much talent that lives within me.
It is also important for me to create a legacy where I am not ashamed to pay it forward and let another author's work shine just as bright as mine.  Ultimately, what I am trying to do is change the way this game is played so that it is less cut throat.  But then again, we all know that for some of us, this isn't a game but a way for us to get our money and support our families; and if supporting our family means  putting out our work by any means possible over someone else, then that's what we'll do.  I get that too...probably more than you know.

Last year, I penned an article that addressed this very topic.  Do we see this lack of support in this challenging industry changing in the future or will it remain the same indefinitely.  As book clubs like Oosa pay it forward daily with thought provoking questions, I dare wonder if it is at all possible for an author to put forth a quality product, do what it is necessary to survive in this industry and still have something left to offer the support that another author may need to get to where they are trying to get to.

Is it really possible or are we destined to compete and get minimal results for our efforts?  Or is it something as simple as the best rising to the top and the minute resting at the bottom?

Clearly, there is no right or wrong answer to this question.  But read the article below and if you are inclined, weigh in with a response.

Read the article, "Is there enough support in the African American Literary Community" penned November 18, 2012.

~ J.L. Whitehead

Monday, June 24, 2013

Open Letter To My Brothers

Years ago, I wrote an article that ran on several publications.  Every now and then, I feel the need to re-run it because I believe that the words are profound.  At the time that I wrote it, I was of the mindset that we as a people have lost our way; and when I say we as a people, I mean everyone, not just African Americans.  I started to think about how we could reclaim ourselves and begin the task of tearing down old ideologies and creating new ones...ones that will enrich our lives as opposed to taking from it.  I thought about it carefully, and this is what I came up with:

Open Letter To My Brothers

            Observance.  Some of us do it more than others.  Some of us have the capacity to do it on larger scales. We’ve observed everything, from the injustices that have been inflicted on races and cultures deemed as the minority, to the triumphs and celebrations of those same communities.

            Observance.  It’s a strong word that carries a different meaning to some of us, and yet, it’s something that I’ve repeatedly had to do over the years since observance and objectivity should, but oftentimes does not, run hand in hand.

            I’ve watched my brothers from all races transcend stereotypes…watched them as they loved and lived, and I thought, without trying to come off preachy, maybe I could compose an open letter to them and perhaps open an eye or two.

            Now I don’t believe for one moment that I’m some know-it-all guru, perhaps looking to be the next Dr. Phil.  Those are shoes that I couldn’t begin to fill on my best day.  Still, I’d like to think that me approaching fifty buys me some wisdom, or at least my interpretation of it anyway.

            When we elected President Barack Obama to office, we were all in agreement that it was time for a change.  However, at the time, I didn’t realize the depths of how true those words would be.  You see, it really is time for us to change not only how we view ourselves, but how we view our race as a whole.  For African Americans, we as a people have been divided for far too long, probably for as long as we as a people have been in this country.  It was always us versus us - field niggra versus house niggra, light-skinned versus dark skinned, haves versus have nots…and the list continues.  And what better way to conquer a race of people than to have them divided amongst themselves?

            We’ve been taught to degrade our women in music, television and literature.  At times, we don’t allow for anyone elses opinion but our own, as if an opinion that conflicts with what we believe somehow translates to we are not being respected, no matter how articulate the words presented are spoken.

            Somehow, we as African American men have brought into the hype that we don’t have value - as if somehow, we are not deserving of a high paying position outside of sports or music which directly impacts our right to live in affluent neighborhoods, afford a comfortable lifestyle and leave a legacy to our children.

            Somehow, we’ve taken the terminology of respect and morphed it into something that we are deserving of, but yet we don’t always feel the need to give it.  This is not to say that all of us live by these principalities, but enough of us do that it warrants a letter.

            So here’s a thought…and take from it whatever you may.  What if we begin and end everything with love?  As simplistic as it may sound, it really isn’t as easy as it seems to be.

            You see, you start off by loving God, or whatever you deem God to be.  It doesn’t matter what you call God.  What works for me may not work for you, but one thing is certain that most of us can agree on. There is something much larger than ourselves at work in our lives.  So let’s start with loving that.  For me, that something is God.  With that being said, it doesn’t matter what your experience with traditional religion has been.  Positive or negative.  Religion is just man’s way of worshiping God as we know Him.

            Love yourself.  Don’t let anyone dictate your worth - and if they try, you don’t have to accept it, because no matter what you do, there will always be someone who will think that they are better…perhaps even having a false sense of entitlement which to them translates in their mind that they are better, smarter and more deserving than you. Give yourself your props, take your knocks and keep on going.  If you get hit hard and it knocks you off kilter, dust yourself off and keep it moving.  The world will keep turning whether you are on it or not, so hang on with your head held high and know that you were created in the image of love.

            Love your woman or life partner.  This applies to straight and gay alike. At the end of the day, the person that you’ve committed yourself to is the person that you should be laying down with, and at one time if not presently, they should have your back.  So cherish them.  Hopefully, you’ll get that love and adoration right back.

            Love your children if you have them.  Teach them, nurture them, lead them. Sometimes, we may associate a bad relationship with them, but they are innocent.  They had nothing to do with whatever happened with their mother, so love them because the simple fact is they need you.

            Love your people.  Greet one another.  Look each other in the eye…especially at work.  Take a stand and lead in your community.  Step up and love outside of the box, because believe it or not, someone, somewhere will always have it worse than you.

            Brothers…and by brothers I mean all of you.  Black, Asian, Latino, White or whatever culture that you belong to…gay or straight, it doesn’t matter.  It really is time for a change.  And it starts with you.  Love God.  Love yourself.  Love your life partner - whether it is a he or she.  Love your children.  Love your people.

~  J.L. Whitehead

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Writer's Megaphone presents author and motivational speaker Deborah Parker

Anyone who knows me personally is very much aware of the fact that I am a big fan of paying it forward.  Paying it forward is such an easy thing to do.  It costs you nothing and the personal rewards in doing so is great!  There are people that have come into my life for the sheer purpose of obtaining whatever exposure they could obtain from me.  There are those that have stayed around and forged a business relationship with me and out of some of those relationships, true friendships were formed.  Still, there are others whose work simply

inspires me.  Anyone that decides that they want to change the world in a positive way is number one in my book because there are too many people that will pull you down and perhaps glorify issues and circumstances that need not be glorified.

Author and Motivational Speaker, Deborah L. Parker
Today, the Writer's Megaphone puts Author and Motivational Speaker, Deborah L. Parker on a positive blast.  She is not in my immediate circle, but upon learning just a little bit more about her, I realized that she is more than deserving of having the spotlight shined on her.

Ms. Parker's brand is motivational speaking.  She is also the author of four books that address the very topics that she lectures about.  In a world where lack of self-esteem runs rampant in our culture, Ms. Parker strives to make a difference...a difference that is very much needed.

So what motivates a motivational speaker and how did she come to do what she does?

JLW:  In general, before someone becomes a motivational speaker, a circumstance may have occurred that prompted them to make a change in their own lives.  It could be something life altering or something simple.  If this is the case for yourself, what was the circumstance?

DLP:  One of the main events that pointed me in the direction of  motivational speaking was a cancer diagnosis just as I turned 50 years old.  I relied on my faith and inspirational messages to get me through the treatment.  Then I started sharing it would fellow survivors and others going through adversity.

JLW:  You speak very candidly about you beginnings as the oldest child of a single parent being raised in the home of your grandparents.  How important is the structure of family in American culture today and where do you see it going?

DLP:   Family is the launching point for our adult lives.  It is there we learn to be who we are, with our good and bad. And most importantly we learn to love and care.  The support and security of family is an anchor in our childhood.   Today families do have some different challenges as we move away from our loved ones and may not get the value of frequent face time as often as we’d like. Technology helps us stay connected but nothing can replace a good old family dinner.

JLW:  If you had to describe yourself in one word, what would it be and why?

DLP:  Creative. I’m always looking at situations in nature and people for a message to turn into a lesson.

JLW:  What inspires you?

DLP:   I’m inspired by the grit of my ancestors. They found a way to “make a way out of no way.”  When I find myself wavering in my purpose, I reflect on the determination they displayed to survive.

JLW:  What is your speaking schedule like and how can someone get in touched with you to schedule an appearance?

DLP:  My speaking schedule includes events with business networking groups, conferences, religious organizations, women’s associations and African American programs. 

To learn more about Ms. Parker please visit her website listed below:

Ms. Parker can also be reached for speaking engagements at (703) 463- 0363 or by email at

I want to personally thank Ms. Parker for allowing me to feature her on The Writer's Megaphone!  I sincerely wish her the best in her endeavors as she moves forward to enrich the lives of those that she touches.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Writer's Megaphone shouts out Spoken Word/R&B Performer, Shivice Brown

"Just Wanna Be Heard"

It takes a special person to overcome adverse circumstances and turn it into treasure.  It takes an extraordinary person to pursue a dream, capture it, and intertwine a message of redemption and empowerment so that no woman should have to endure what she endured.

As most of you may know, I have a soft spot for a woman who finds the courage to leave a circumstance that could have easily gone in a different direction.  This particular woman didn't just survive, she surpassed and excelled.  If you click on the links included with this piece, you will know what I mean.  Spoken Word/R&B Artist Shivice Brown is enjoying the good life now, but one look into her baby browns and you will see that there is tenderness blended with toughness.  Life had not always been so sweet for this woman.

Shivice Brown

She tells her story to anyone that will listen, giving voice to millions of women that have been the victims of rape, sexual molestation and physical abuse.   The lyrics on her debut CD are graphic, filled with emotion multiplied to the tenth power.  You can almost see the tears cascading from her eyes as she glides from song to song effortlessly.

Read the review of "Just Wanna Be Heard"

It's not the fact that she survived her issues with domestic abuse and lived to tell about it.  It's not even that she pursued her musical career and produced a CD.  It is the fact that she managed to marry the two subjects at hand, lending her voice to all women who find themselves in circumstances that they never thought that they would find themselves in.

In April, 2011, I interviewed four women for The Examiner publication asking them to describe in full detail their own personal issues with domestic violence and abuse.  Shivice Brown was one of the participants on the panel.  Enclosed, you will find the links to the 3 part series entitled, "What goes on in the mind of a battered woman?"

Being that she is a spoken word artist, Ms. Brown thought it prudent to present to us the lyrics to one of the songs featured on her CD.  The lyrics are powerful as you will soon see.

And as a result of all of this, I am proud to shout out Spoken Word/R&B artist, Shivice Brown!

Save Me
As I look at 34 years of my life, I look at a rescue team of angels encamping all around me waiting and blocking bullets, blockin’ thoughts and drama and unforgiveness my mama, standing in the need of prayer with the business at hand planning for her daughter to be there. 

What I have allowed is the very thing that you will forgive BUT you have to go through this rest yes! the very thing that you will attest. 

 I am a God that do not lie so why cry, why be concerned why ask why?

 Your past is created to be burned, be lived in and not repeated, be a reality and not a formality yet you say your life is hopeless, helpless, useless, feelin unblessed. See whatever I create, I touch, I formed is the best.
But God why little ole’ me I have done everything that was against your will… Yes but when you look to the hills from which cometh my help you see a wealth cultivating, insinuating some may say even saturating a peace that passeth all understanding.

But …but.. but I don’t have the ability to be what you want me to because everything that is  in me is  a dark past of some enemies .

See… see… see I’m not equipped to make this trip and.. and.. and.. I’m not finished cause I want to still dip and dive and while we are talking GOD you messin up my high. I will ask you save me another time and by the way where were you when I needed to be saved in my mind instead you comin to me while I’m on cloud 9. 

I was raped I was beaten I was heatin’ up a space of defeatin.

A Red fiery heart not taking part in love or emotions just hopin’ that I catch the bastard that bust me open stole my virginity which feels like for infinity. Yes!,, but let me make you a place to be a friend of me for eternity. I chasten who I love so why not began with me.

 Well I say try me, lets walk to this sacred place where I say that you will learn about your very essence in the process of being a blessin. I will make it as if it never happened so that you will tell your testimony and not selling your body in exchange for  money.

You are already an over comer you are more than a conqueror So that your life will be what I planned, a destiny , a place of a beautiful man to become your king but please wait on your master.
I can show you how I feel for you faster than what your king can. “I am a jealous GOD” that’s what he says to me.   

But As I live in this place of danger a space of pollution resting in a race of no dilution.

I think my thoughts are provided a place for pollution you know like New York air causing asthma and never the solution?!. 

My mind is a warp zone for the streets to become just a yellow tape with white stripes.
Why Lord is my life such in turmoil of dilution and no solution in all this pollution.

God please save me cause I’m about to birth some children of anger, rage, hatred, malice, unforgiveness a generation of maturation while my mind is going thru this situation.

GOD Please Save me! Save me GOD! Forgive me! Create in me a clean heart and renew the right spirit within me. Blot out my transgressions and my iniquities. GOD please Save me!!!! 

But most of all what I need you to do is … SAVE ME!!! FROM ME!!!

To find out more about Shivice Brown, click on the link below!

~ J.L. Whitehead

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Writer's Megaphone introduces Spoken Word Artist Kristel Irby

Ms. Irby responded to my Facebook request for authors who wanted to participate in the Writer's Megaphone experience.  It has always been my belief that everyone aspires to and deserves to have the spotlight shined on them at one point in the lives, and I always believe in paying it forward.  If I am known for anything, I would like it to be that.

Ms. Irby has an interesting story to tell.  She is of mixed raced descent: half African American and half Jewish.  This woman has a lot to say...words that will flow freely from her like clear water cascading over the Niagara Falls.  I will feature her later in the week as she is the author of a book of poetry entitled, As Clear as Kristel.

Author Kristel Irby

For now, we will open up the mike and allow Kristel Irby to present a poem from her book.  The piece is entitled, Smokey.  This piece is about a friend of hers that she had lost to drugs, and then rediscovered again later in life.


It only took one light that night
My temptation got the best of me
My destiny cloudy

Like an ignited chimney
Tricking me as I lick and inhale
The poisons of the stick that I 
tripped out on

Laced with disgrace
And everything that is wrong
I sing the same old song
As so many

Hum, Hum
Stuck with a bad habit
It's been too long

Lost in a line
With limited time
It's high is the past lives of
So many singers
So many entertainers

And now presently
Of so many we love
Who need to be saved
And now I hum with them

I hum a hit
Their misery plagues my brain
My life hasn't been the same

It only took one light
On one night
That led to a lifetime of a fight

~ J.L. Whitehead

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Writer's Megaphone puts author and entrepreneur Krystol Diggs on a positive blast!

I've had the honor and privilege of sharing an acquaintance with author Krystol Diggs.  We've known each other for several years, meeting by chance online when we were both at a crossroads in our career path.  I knew about her book, Through Her Eyes, and there were many times when I wondered what was going to become of her.

As time went by, I was pleased to find out that she not only continued to write, she actually started her own publishing company.  I sat back and watched as she put out books, continued her schooling, looked for work and became a woman that would not only make doing it all her mantra; it became her life.  There is a saying that goes a, "A writer, writes." This saying holds true for any author that is in the literary industry for the joy of writing and not to make money!

Krystol Diggs
Ms. Diggs formed  Krystol Diggs Publishing and released several titles under her brand; a feat that is no easy accomplishment in this highly competitive industry.  The key to success is somewhat don't give up.  No matter how many knocks you take, you get back up and keep it moving forward.

She took a moment to answer several questions about herself, and I for one am so glad that she did.  The Writer's Megaphone is proud to put Krystol Diggs on a positive blast!

JLW:  We initially met several years ago, and as a fellow author, I've watched you spread your wings and grow within the literary industry.  What have been some of your triumphs and pitfalls?

KD:  Some pitfalls have been trying to decide what is best for me as an author. My first novel Through Her Eyes came out in 2008 and it was a flop due to the company I was with. It sold great, but I didn't reap any benefits from it. In this industry it's hard to know who to trust.
JLW:  What initially made you want to go into publishing your own work?

KD:  I decided to publish my own work after a bad publishing deal that I got myself into with my first book. I wanted to learn the business the best I could and be my own boss. It took some time,  but I eventually achieved that goal.

JLW:  What would you say is the main thing lacking within the African American Literary Community?

KD:   I would say what's lacking is support from our own kind. It's a shame that many authors won't support each other because they are too busy competing with one another. I could care less what the next author is doing whether they are a big name or not. If I support you it's because I want to, not because someone hyped your book up. Even the greatest writers still have mistakes.

JLW:  What is one thing that your readership doesn't know about you?  
KD:  Hmmm, good question. My readership doesn't know that I dream about my stories prior to writing them. I guess my imagination is just that deep, lol.

JLW:  What are your literary plans for the Summer and Fall of 2013?

KD:  I have three books to complete this Summer and Fall:  I'll Never Tell, If It Ain't Broke, and Hot Like Fire, and that is it for the year. I'm also a screenwriter and film maker. Once I finish writing those books I will start shooting my second film titled Coming Out Of The Dark.

So there you have it:  Krystol Diggs up close and personal!  She will no doubt be featured here again as we find out how she intends to make a name for herself in the film making industry.

Krystol Diggs

Keep it moving Ms. Diggs!  Or rather, keep it moving...forward!!

To find out more about Krystol Diggs and her books, please click on the link to her website below:

~ J.L. Whitehead

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Writer's Megaphone goes one on one with author Rick Gualtieri!

When I reviewed Bill the Vampire a couple of months ago, I was surprised at two things:

1. How much I truly enjoyed the storyline as well as the well-developed characters.

2. How amusing a situation that involves life and death could be easily portrayed as satirical, taking the reader into a realm that clearly departs from the norm when dealing with the paranormal.

Author Rick Gualtieri

The story was loaded with one-liners that produced everything from a minute smile to an outright chuckle, and as I turned the last page, I had to give it to Mr. Gualtieri.  He had taken a genre of the paranormal into a different least different for me.

I reached out to Rick to find out a little bit more about his work and his persona.  To my delight, I found that he was just as amusing in our correspondence as he is when he breathes life into his characters.  If I had to describe him in four words or less, I would call him "quirky with a twist."


JL:  How would you describe the genre that you write in and why do you write in it?

RG: I’m a multi-genre writer, but I guess my main focus (for now) would be considered horror comedy.  I’m a big fan of movies such as Army of Darkness, Big Trouble in Little China, and Ghostbusters. All of them have the commonality of being a potentially terrifying situation that’s confronted by protagonists who just don’t take it all that seriously.  I really like that mix. Rather than go down the slapstick route, I’m writing about scenarios that have life or death consequences and can, and often do, get very bloody. The difference between it and true horror, though, is that rather than screaming and running away my heroes are too busy mocking it to realize just how bad things are. It’s almost like if you were to take the hosts from Mystery Science Theater 3000 and actually place them inside of the movies they’re reviewing. It could end badly for them, but they’d probably have a lot of fun before that happened.

JL:  How did you land your contract with your publisher?

RG: The founder of Wayman Publishing is also an accomplished author. I first became a fan of her blog and then later her books (she has an incredible voice).  We began corresponding via email where I learned that not only was she a good writer, but she had a good head for marketing and an amazing work ethic. I eventually shared with her some of my work and things just sort of progressed from there.

My agreement with them is kind of non-traditional in that it’s more of a cross marketing relationship than a true publisher/client one, but it works for me and my somewhat anal-retentive nature. I’m very happy to be a part of the Wayman family.

JL:  If there was one thing that you would want your followers to know about you, what would it be?

RG: The funny thing is I’m pretty open online (a little too open if you were to ask my family), especially via twitter and email.  If asked, there’s very little I won’t discuss (short of maybe spoilers for my books).  I do get a lot of emails that start out with things like “I’m sorry to bother you” or “You’re probably too busy to read this”.  I would say don’t worry about that.  Outside of maybe spam, I’m happy to hear from people - and that includes someone who really hated my books and just wants to tell me so.

But that really wasn’t the question was it?  Okay fine.  Something I want people to know about me...Ah, I have one. I can’t stand seafood, any kind of it.  What does that have to do with writing? Nothing really, but hopefully it’ll keep people from preemptively mailing me tuna steaks. 

JL:  What advice would you give to new and aspiring authors?

RG:  The common advice is to keep writing and keep getting better at it.  I won’t rehash that since hopefully they’ve heard it by now.  Instead, I would tell them to make sure they’re actually ready to act like a professional before they hit that publish button. Keep their ego and temper in check.  Writing is a long road for most, one in which there’s most likely going to be a lot of disappointment along the way. They should be prepared for that and learn to take their victories and defeats with a little dignity.

JL:  What is next for Rick Gualtieri?

RG:  I just released Holier Than Thou, book 4 in my Tome of Bill horror/comedy series.  Since then, I’ve been busy plotting out the rest of my year.  I’m currently working on a couple of projects including Devil Hunters, a sequel to my horror novel Bigfoot Hunters.  After that, I’ll be diving back into the Tome of Bill.  From there, we’ll see.  I have a lot of stories to tell.  It’s just a matter of which ones are desperately trying to escape my mind at any given time.
Aside from that, I am continually striving to learn in this industry and improve myself. I’m not sure where that will eventually lead me, but I’m excited to find out.
You see?  This is what I meant by quirky with a twist...and delightfully so.  By the time that he reads this, Mr. Gualtieri will know that I am looking forward to reading the remaining books included in the Bill the Vampire series.  Now that the stage has been set, I really want to know what is going to become of one of my favorite characters.  So how about it Mr. Gualtieri?

To read the review of Bill the Vampire in it's entirety, click on the link below:

To find out more about the books listed above, click on the link below:

~ J.L. Whitehead

Four Brothers Publications annouces the release of "Plantation"

The past is past. It should stay there. Childhood memories are powerful things. Siblings Tarek, Indigo, and Drake spent every summer at th...