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.

Surrender (From the Forthcoming Chapbook, “Exotic Shifter”)

come to me
let me show you the way to my heart

come with me
let us escape to an intimate place where we can express
our love without restraint

stay with me
never let me spend another night alone

lay with me
so that our bodies, souls, and minds can unite as one

let us let go and let the wonderful beauty of this
bond take us where it may

let us go deeper than any lovers in the history of loving
have ever gone
let us go beyond giving each other our all
let us surrender
to the unwavering, insurmountable power of love

© 2014 BuddahDesmond

“Exotic Shifter,” My New Chapbook, Coming Soon

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Good news: my latest project entitled, Exotic Shifter, will be available soon! In a previous post, I mentioned that I’d been working on two new projects. The first being a chapbook, Exotic Shifter, and the second being my next full-length volume of poetry (with a tentative release date some time in late 2015/early 2016). Well, we’re in the final stages of the editing process and the chapbook will be heading to the printer any day now.

Exotic Shifter is primarily about love and relationships. As my grandmother says, “Love is a metamorphosis.” Love changes things… Well, love changes everything. It’s impossible that we go through life loving anything or anyone (ourselves, others, our communities) without being changed. The poems featured in Exotic Shifter examine the transformative power of love (and/or how we can be transformed once we learn to love ourselves and others better).

Exotic Shifter will be published by 2 Pens & Lint, whose tagline is, “A New Direction In Poetry.” As their website states, “2 Pens & Lint strives to create an atmosphere where poets can build and maintain financial stability through the art of poetry while simultaneously using their poetry as a catalyst for change in their communities and broader society.”

2 Pens & Lint is a company that is completely supportive of the art of poetry and ensuring that poets have the resources they need to continue enhancing their artistry, their platform, and their business (which in essence will impact their communities and the world). This is why I decided to pursue publishing my chapbook with 2 Pens & Lint.

Exotic Shifter will be available for sale on the 2 Pens & Lint website and from me at upcoming events. Stay tuned for more details!

As always, I thank you kindly for your continued support. Much Love!

Exotic Shifter Cover Illustration: Patricia Swann (my grandmother, who also created the cover illustration for Prevail)

New Event: The 2014 Center Black LGBT Writers’ Forum

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It’s with immense pleasure that I announce another great event in August – The 2014 Center Black LGBT Writers’ Forum. This event will be part of The DC Center’s 2014 OutWrite Book Fair, which runs August 1-3, 2014.

The Writers’ Forum will be moderated by Wyatt O’Brian Evans, and writers/authors Cheryl Head, Michelle Sewell, Rashid Darden, and BuddahDesmond will serve as panelists. Panelists will cover a variety of topics surrounding the writing life, such as the creative process, publishing, strategies for success, along with sharing passages from their newest works.

The Writers’ Forum takes place Saturday, August 2, 2014 | 1 PM | The DC Center (2000 14th St, NW, Washington, DC 20009) | Facebook Event Page

The event is free and open to the public. So if you’re in the area, stop by!

Until next time… Peace, love, and many blessings!

Next Event: The Ask Rayceen Show – August 6, 2014 in Washington, DC

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I’m excited to announce that I’ll be performing in the Listening Lounge at The Ask Rayceen Show. You’ll be able to catch me in my element – singing and reciting poetry. Hosted by the FABULOUS Rayceen Pendarvis, the event takes place Wednesday, August 6, 2014 | 7PM (Doors open at 6PM) | Liv Nightclub (2001 11th St NW, Washington, DC | Above Bohemian Caverns).

Esteemed authors LaToya Hankins, R. L. Norman, and Wyatt O’Brian Evans will be featured in the Authors’ Corner. If you haven’t had a chance to pick up a copy of our books, you’ll be able to do so at the event. Poets, spoken word artists, and poetry lovers are also in for another treat as there will be a Poetry Slam. The winner will receive a $100 cash prize.

Best of all, the event is FREE and open to the public!

Check out the calendar for The Ask Rayceen Show for next few months.

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So if you’re in the area on any of these dates, please check out The Ask Rayceen Show!

Until next time… Peace, love, and many blessings!

Happy 2nd Anniversary to “Prevail!”

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I cannot believe it’s been two years since the release of my first volume of poetry Prevail: Poems on Life, Love, and Politics. Seems like it was only yesterday when I saw the email that the book had gone to the printer. And roughly 10-14 days later, it was available to purchase. Seeing my work published, especially this collection, was a major milestone. I went through a lot to get to that stage. And my what I’ve learned in the time since it was published.

I was trying to do everything when Prevail came out. To maintain the little bit of sanity I have left, I had to pump my breaks. I realized that if I broke my goals up into smaller pieces, execution wouldn’t be as difficult. This allowed for quick wins, which in essence brings you closer to achieving your ultimate goals (versus trying to attack everything head on all at once).

My goal this year was increasing visibility in the DC metro area (i.e. attending more events, performing, and making connections/building relationships). I went after some opportunities, while other opportunities came to me (all of which I’m extremely grateful). I’m in the process of planning for events for the latter half of the year (I’ll be sharing news about this soon). Aside from releasing my next two projects, the goal for 2015/2016 will be increasing visibility in other regions of the country.

After going through the publishing process with my first project, I feel like I could teach a course or two. There’s no need to spend a lot of money buying packages through an on-demand or vanity press when you don’t have to. Doing it yourself may be a more cost-effective option, especially if you have access to the right resources. Whether you self-publish or get picked up by a publishing company (indie or mainstream), you will still be on the hook for marketing/promoting your work. At this stage, I’d rather have more control over the finished product and how its marketed/promoted.

Information about my next two projects is forthcoming. In the interim, be sure to check out my previous posts about Prevail. And if so inclined, buy a copy of Prevail, write a review, and tell a friend!

Thank you for your support. Until next time… Peace, love, and many blessings! ~ BuddahDesmond

Buy Prevail from: iUniverse | Amazon (Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle) | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million (Paperback | Hardcover)

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.

Buddah’s Upcoming Projects and Events

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Hello All! I know it’s been a few weeks since my last post. Outside of my crazy work schedule, I’ve been revising, editing, and selecting poems for my next two projects. The first project is a chapbook which I’m pushing to release later this year.  The second project is my next full length volume of poetry which I’m hoping to release in late 2015/early 2016. Titles for each project will be forthcoming. I look forward to sharing more details as the process moves along.

I also have a few events coming up this month. I’ll be doing a reading at Open Mic at Busboys & Poets (Shirlington) in Arlington, VA | 5/12/2014 | 8PM-10PM. The open mic will be hosted by Joseph LMS Green and the featured poet is Dasha Kelly. I’ll be the spotlight poet for the evening. Tickets for the event are $5 and can be purchased the day of the event (beginning at midnight) via Busboys & Poets/Eventbrite. I’ll also be doing a reading as part of the 2014 DC Black Pride Writer’s Forum in Washington, DC | Grand Hyatt Washington (Lafayette Park Room – Independence Level) | 5/24/2014 | 12:30PM-1:45PM. If you’re in the area, please come out and support!

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

~ BuddahDesmond

Happy National Poetry Month 2014

npm2014POSTERCourtesy of Poets.org (from The Academy of American Poets). Designed by Chip Kidd.

Happy National Poetry Month! If you’re a lover of poetry, hope this month affords you lots of time to read some of your favorite poets’ works, attend (or participate in) a few poetry readings, and/or write some poetry yourself (the NaPoWriMo Challenge, perhaps?). I’ve been doing all of the above. On my Facebook page, I’ve also been celebrating by sharing snippets of poems and performance videos of some of my favorite poets’ works.

Like music, singing, art, cooking/baking, poetry/writing is like a lifeforce for me. It speaks/sings to my soul. It doesn’t matter how often or how little I write it or how long I’m away from it, I always find my way back to poetry. Like writer Marisa de los Santos says, “Poetry foregrounds the quality [of music] in writing.” And how amazing is it when a poet’s words are not only singing on the page but singing/speaking to your soul?

If you haven’t already, check out posts on a few poets who’ve deeply affected me and inspired my work:

  1. Maya Angelou
  2. Langston Hughes
  3. Nikki Giovanni
  4. Sonia Sanchez

Here’s to you poets, and those who love them! Hope you have a beautiful National Poetry Month!

In love and poetry, BuddahDesmond

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.