New Book, From The Inside: A Poetry Collection, Out Now!

I’m happy to announce my new book, From The Inside Out: A Poetry Collection, is out now! After sitting on this project for a few years, I finally decided to get over myself and hit the button.

About The Book

From The Inside Out: A Poetry Collection examines the power of love and its impact on our lives. When combined with action, commitment, faith, hope, persistence, and pride, love can transform our relationships, our communities, our world, and each of us. We can find “Glory” when we “lose [ourselves] in the beauty and wonder of life and love.”

As these poems illustrate, this journey may require a little work, a little discovery, and some growing pains…. For love is an inside job. And we love from the inside out.

From The Inside Out is available for purchase at Amazon. Tell a friend, then another friend, and then another friend.

Much gratitude for your support. Peace, Love, and Many Blessings!

Prevail: Happy 7th Anniversary!

I cannot believe it’s been 7 years since the release of my first project, Prevail: Poems on Life, Love, and Politics. It’s arrival marked one of the brightest and darkest periods of my life.

Two weeks prior to its release, I found myself jobless. A total WTF moment that sent me reeling… Spiraling down. I was singing a tune that was akin to the jazz standard “Good Morning Heartache,” except in this case it was “Good Morning / Good Afternoon / Good Night Depression, Anxiety, Shame, Low Self-Esteem, and Lack of Confidence.” It took awhile to grow through it. While I didn’t realize it immediately, it proved to be a blessing in disguise.

This reality check gave me the chance to do things I always wanted to do. Publish my work. Write, write, and write some more. Perform. Connect and work with other artists, creatives, and organizations committed to the arts and social justice. Complete my MBA. I did what I had to do. About a year or so later, the landscape had changed. My outlook was much brighter.

Life is a trip. At times, you may feel ill equipped for the journey. You may even hate certain portions of the journey. But it’s necessary. It lays the foundation for what’s too come. As I say, “No matter what happens in life, we must PREVAIL!“ Much love and gratitude to all who’ve been there with me and continue to support me throughout this journey. You are true blessings!

Prevail is available at Amazon (Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle) and Barnes & Noble.

A Writer’s Joy: A 2015 DC Metro Scholastic Writing Awards Reflection

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In March, I was honored to be invited back to recite poems by one of the American Voice nominees, Emily Zhang, at this year’s DC Metro Scholastic Writing Awards. Sponsored by Writopia Lab and the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, the Scholastic Writing Awards recognize DC Metro Area middle and high school students whose writing has earned Gold Key, Silver Key, Honorable Mention Awards, American Voice nominations, the Busboys & Poets Senior Portfolio Scholarship and the Edward P. Jones Young Writer Award.

You could not help but be affected by the positivity and creative energy in the room. Being amongst so many talented young writers was a joy. I saw myself all over again. Seeing and hearing how much literature, language and writing has inspired these young men and women truly touched me. When you are blessed with the gift of writing, it unites you with such a vast community. A community where we feel deeply connected and happily at home.

Writing gives you the freedom to explore worlds. To change minds. To explore feelings–both familiar and unfamiliar. To get inside the lives of characters and their experiences. To dispel myths. To reflect on social, political, cultural and historical events and the impact they’ve had on generations past and present. Writing gives us the opportunity to make the unknown known. To tell our truth. To cast away our fears and simply live. Writing is everything and more.

The approach, style and genres in which we write may vary. But it’s our love of writing, our foresight, insight, perspective, curiosity…and desire for understanding, respect and freedom for all that brings us together.

Lessons Learned from Publishing – New Article on 2025 Solutions Site

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I’d like to thank 2025 Solutions, LLC for publishing my article, “The Path to Publishing: 7 Lessons Learned.” In it I share some valuable tips that I think will be helpful to writers with dreams of publishing their works.

Publishing my first book was by no means an easy feat. But what fun would it be if it was easy? Challenges and all, I’m happy that my journey led me here. And I’m thankful for the support I’ve had along the way. There’s great hope for the future and all it has in store!

No matter what your dreams are, if it’s what you truly want–go after it. Don’t let anything hold you back. It’s your time. Make it happen!

Next Event: Baltimore African American Book Festival – October 11, 2014

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Okay artists, writers, poets/spoken words artists, and book lovers: If you didn’t know, the Baltimore African American Book Festival (BAABF) is this Saturday, October 11, 2014 from 10AM-5PM at the Enoch Pratt Free Library.

Presented by the National Literary Network Organization and the Enoch Pratt Free Library, the BAABF will feature Trice Hickman (Best-Selling Author), Sheri Booker (NAACP Image Award Winning Author), Troy Johnson (AALBC.com Founder), Nikki Woods (Tom Joyner Morning Show Producer, Nikki Woods Media Founder, and Author), and Ella Curry (EDC Creations Founder). Other events include panels/workshops, kids activities, and live spoken word. The event is free and open to public.

I’ll have a table (#10) selling copies of Prevail and Exotic Shifter and will perform during the Spoken Word Hour from 1PM-2PM. My blogger buddy Marc Polite (Author, Blogger, and Founder and Editor in Chief of Polite On Society) and will be one of several authors appearing at the event as well.

So if you’re looking for a FREE event full of great edutainment, come check out the BAABF this Saturday in Baltimore, MD!

Peace, Love, and Many Blessings!

~ BuddahDesmond

Wise Words from Craig Stokes

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Image courtesy of Craig Stokes’ Facebook page.

I was recently introduced to Craig Stokes through his #ImABrand webinar, sponsored by iBlack, the leading lifestyle portal for Black professionals in the DC area. Stokes is a phenomenal, multi-talented TV host/personality (“Style Minute” and “Craig Stokes Presents: The Show”), lifestylist, and motivational speaker. Throughout his presentation, Stokes shared several bits of motivational wisdom in the form of #StokesNotes. After doing some additional research, I came across several #StokesNotes that left a great impression on me (especially the one shown above).

When we talk about our self-esteem, self-worth, and self-confidence, the focus is often on the external factors (such as family, friends, our community, our environment, our culture, and the media) that have negatively influenced how we feel about ourselves. Too little focus, I believe, is given to the part we play in these beliefs.

As humans, we have the tendency to get in our own way. We thwart our own progress by not looking within…by not first believing in ourselves. How can we expect to achieve our dreams if we don’t think we’re worthy of them? It’s time to take back our power. Our dreams have value. They matter. We have value. We matter.

For more #StokesNotes, go to Craig Stokes’ Instagram and Facebook pages.

The Blogger Week Unconference 2014: An Engaging, Informative, Highly Valuable Event

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I had the pleasure of attending the Blogger Week Unconference in May, and I must say that it was one of the best professional events I’ve attended in some time. Hosted by Black Bloggers Connect, the Unconference was part of Blogger Week 2014, a multicultural festival of bloggers, journalists, and social media mavens. Blogger Week 2014 featured both digital and in-person events such as Google Hangouts, Twitter parties, panels, workshops, and networking events.

The Unconference featured 13 engaging discussion panels and breakout sessions led by industry notables. Topics included: digital monetizing, social media strategies, the business of beauty blogging, personal and executive branding, PR, blogging in the Pan African world, using your blog to affect politics and cause change, and the power of blogger collaboration (to name a few). There truly was something of great value for bloggers, journalists, and social media mavens at all levels at the Unconference.

After blogging for 9 years and being on social media for at least 5 years, I’m far from an expert. I’m always looking for ways to learn more, improve, streamline, and enhance. So I welcome and am grateful for events like these. I honestly believe I got more value out of this one-day, $25 (early bird) event than I would have if I’d gone to one of the high-priced multi-day events.

One of the other elements that made this event so commendable were the people. There was a warm, inclusive, welcoming community vibe at the Unconference. Almost immediately, I felt comfortable and at home. It was like I was with my best friends and family. I connected with some really cool, intelligent, and talented people doing wonderful things. I would be remiss if I didn’t give some shout outs: Taiye Oladipo,MPH, Marc Polite, L. Laura Burge, Marquita Goodluck, Ananda Leeke, Caribbean Soultrekkers, Ni’cola Mitchell, and Vino Noire.

The Blogger Week Unconference is highly recommended! Thank you Jessica Ann Mitchell and Black Bloggers Connect for organizing such a FAB event. I look forward to attending many other Black Bloggers Connect events in the future.

Blogger Week Unconference Takeaways:

  1. Quantity is not important. It’s about the connection or relationship you have with your followers.
  2. Be authentic. Use your personality. Your voice is key. If you have passion, brands will come to you.
  3. Don’t lose sight of why you’re doing this, as it will keep you focused, motivated, and moving forward.
  4. Make yourself your brand. Know your key differentiators (what makes your brand unique) and use them to your advantage.
  5. Try to keep your brand consistent across platforms. Make contact information present. Be accessible. Responsive.
  6. Honor your word/commitments. If you can’t do it, be honest about it.
  7. Don’t be afraid of your potential. Own it. It’s going to take work.
  8. Be your own hustleman. Create a social calendar for yourself and get yourself out there.
  9. Make sure your message is simple but encompasses all aspects of yourself/your brand.
  10. Give the people what they want.
  11. Partnerships (meaningful, long-lasting, mutually beneficial) can help you solidify your brand. But be sure you’re partnering with organizations that represent your brand.
  12. Don’t pitch people your problems, pitch them your solutions.

Takeaways from the 2014 Conversations and Connections Conference

This past weekend, I had the chance to attend the Conversations and Connections Conference in Washington, DC.  Organized by Barrelhouse magazine and sponsored by the Johns Hopkins University Master of Arts in Writing program, this was not the typical conference. Conversations and Connections is designed to help writers better their craft by providing practical advice on writing and publishing in “a comfortable, congenial environment where you can meet other writers, editors and publishers” (Conversations and Connections).

Panel sessions were varied in topics that were universal and genre-specific. Panelists/presenters typically had an informal and candid style which was most engaging. The keynote speaker was award-winning and New York Times best-selling author Marisa de los Santos (Love Walked In, Belong to Me, and Falling Together), whose charismatic, humorous, and insightful talk was a major hit with attendees.

One of the other highlights of the conference was the Speed Dating with Editors session.  During this session, writers had the chance to get feedback on their work, find out about valuable writing resources, and learn about where they should consider sending their work.

For $70, the Conversations and Connections conference is a great value for any writer committed to enhancing their craft, getting published, and connecting with other writers, editors, and publishers.

Here are some takeaways from the sessions I attended:

Get Off Your Ass and Write: Stop Making Excuses and Start Being Productive (Rosalia Scalia)

  1. Always have a notebook and pen handy, as inspiration can hit at any moment.
  2. Discipline is about practicing good habits. It’s not about forcing yourself to do things you don’t want to do.
  3. Make time to write each day.
  4. Know your craft. Study it. Research it. Practice it.
  5. Read widely and without prejudice. This is what feeds the well.
  6. Characters drive the plot. You need to know your characters well. Know what choices they will make to move the story along.
  7. Taking a different point of view may help you tackle problems you encounter with your writing.
  8. Learn how to use the tools to become the writer you want to be.
  9. Create a relationship with yourself. Make a commitment to your work in order to achieve your goals.
  10. The ultimate goal with writing is raising it to the universal level.

The chemistry of the poetic line: Line Breaks and Poetry (Jim Warner)

  1. Line breaks affect how you read/hear poetry.
  2. Originally, the form of a poem was determined by line lengths.
  3. There are typically two ways to interpret line length: the way the head sees the line and the way the line is spoken.
  4. The goal of poetry: to channel the original energy of the source of inspiration for the poem.
  5. Make a break that is not obvious. Go against the breath.
  6. The chemistry of the line comes in revision.
  7. Know why (and be able to explain) the choices you make in your writing.

Keynote Speaker: Marisa de los Santos

  1. Poetry foregrounds the quality [of music] in language.
  2. Listen to your characters (this is your primary job).
  3. Set out a time to write that works well with your schedule.
  4. Be present in whatever you’re doing (be in the moment).
  5. Everything feeds everything else.
  6. Every book makes its own rules.
  7. If you’re having trouble with a story, you may be having trouble with the characters.
  8. You walk with faith that your story is going to lead the way.
  9. Find your way and do it.
  10. There’s no one right way to write.

Is Fiction Dead?: The Rise of Creative Nonfiction (Cathy Alter, Jenny Sullivan, and Tim Wendel)

Scenes

  1. Good scenes get readers involved immediately.
  2. To write a good scene, think of how you would put it in an email to a dear friend or family member.
  3. You can never go wrong with descriptions. Descriptions put the reader there with you.
  4. Create a sense of space that people can relate to.
  5. Interview others about events/experiences that you’re writing about to make them come to life, to make them real.
  6. Precise details can make a scene pop.
  7. Use attribution.
  8. Research.

Character

  1. Well drawn characters are three-dimensional.
  2. First person narration, if it’s necessary, lends credibility to what you’re writing. It creates authenticity.
  3. The goal: to tell the story without the need to be in it.
  4. Be flexible.
  5. Think about writing in third person. It’s more interesting to write from someone else’s point of view.
  6. Action = character. What they do on the page creates who they are.
  7. If the action is not building, the story won’t go anywhere.

Dialogue

  1. Dialogue builds characters beyond what descriptions can do.
  2. Can tell you a lot.
  3. Let the character’s voice come through so you don’t pass judgment.

Revision

  1. Be ruthless with your work and think about what is truly useful to your story. If it makes it harder for the reader to follow along, take it out.
  2. Read your work aloud.
  3. Scrub, scrub, scrub. If it sounds like (or is) a cliché, take it out.
  4. Take a break away from your work. You’ll see things you did not see before that you can improve upon.
  5. Don’t wear your writer and editor hats at the same time. It can damage your voice.

brenda.trinidad@gmail.com

I’ll Be Reading at the DC Metro Scholastic Writing Awards – 3/11/2014

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It’s with great happiness that I announce I’ve been selected to read a few works by this year’s American Voice Nominees at the 2014 DC Metro Scholastic Writing Awards!  Performing, giving back, and highlighting some of the Greater Washington Area’s up-and-coming writers—does it get any better than that?

Each year, students in grades 7-12 are encouraged to participate in the The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.  Almost 200,000 students enter their art and writing “for review by panels of art and writing professionals, and compete for recognition, scholarships, and publication opportunities” (Writopia Lab | Scholastic Writing Awards).  2.5 million students have been awarded over $25 million in cash awards and scholarships since 1923.  Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards Alumni include Sylvia Plath, Truman Capote, Robert Redford, Joyce Carol Oates, and Zac Posen.

Writopia Lab was selected by the Alliance of Young Artists and Writers to serve as the Scholastic Writing Awards Regional Affiliate in the Greater Washington Area.  The Scholastic Writing Awards serve as not only a celebration, but also a platform for students to creatively express themselves with their budding talents.

The Scholastic Writing Awards will be held: March 11, 2014 | 6:30PM to 8:30PM | Artisphere’s Spectrum Theater | 1611 N. Kent Street Arlington, VA 22209.  The event is open to the public.  If you’re in the area, please come celebrate the brilliant talents of some of the DC-Area’s most promising teen writers.

Congrats to all of the nominees and winners!

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Many Blessings, BuddahDesmond

Thank You, Langston Hughes!

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Today is not only the first day of Black History Month, but it’s also the birthday of poet, novelist, playwright, and activist Langston Hughes (1902-1967).  Hughes is one of the reasons why I write poetry today.

Growing up, I spent countless hours in the library losing myself in Hughes’ masterful poetry.  His poetry was jazz.  It was blues.  It was filled with so much spirit and life.  He captured the richness of our culture and history so eloquently.

Even given the social ills of the day, his work was evidence of his hope for a world where unity and equality trumped racism, inequality, and injustice.  Though the times may be (somewhat) different, the relevance of his writing remains strong.  The same can be said for the influence and inspiration of his artistry.

Thank you Langston Hughes for not dimming your light.  We honor you for your greatness and the blessings of your many contributions.  Here’s to you!

I, Too, Sing America by Langston Hughes

I, too sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

Tomorrow,
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
Then.

Besides,
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—

I, too, am America.