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Monday, November 23, 2015

Writing Related Injury

I haven’t been writing as much as I’d like. And that’s due to a swollen muscle in the outer elbow of my right arm.

A couple of months ago when I was writing Spinsterella my arm swelled up and I couldn’t bend my elbow. Pain shot through my forearm to my wrist. I had no choice but to stop taking care of SJS DIRECT’s business and take care of my health. So all the videos, blogs and book promotion I planned had to wait. This is the arm I do everything with from eating to writing with a pencil to combing my hair with.

Now this wasn’t my first time dealing with this kind of injury. I experienced it before in 2011 when I was writing The Thetas. I was on a similar roll with that novel writing close to 11,000 words in a few days. I was the process of finishing the first act of that novel when I was forced to stop due to a similar injury in the same arm at the same place.

I’ve been on a major roll lately. This year alone I’ve written the books for the Isis/E’steem Crossover, a second Edition of Stop Simpin, the novel Spinsterella, and all four of the books I’m planning on releasing for next year along with the three blogs I write every week. So for the year I’ve probably written over 300,000 words.

And for the 20l6 Kickstarter I’ve been trying to draw a character model a day. While I want to keep the creative momentum going while the ideas are still in my head my body is saying enough. At 42, I’m not as physically capable of doing repetitive tasks like I did in my 20s and 30s.   

Now my mind still wants to keep writing and drawing. But my body can’t seem keep going at the same pace I’m thinking. So it shuts down. I’m one of those guys who I expects a lot from myself. And sometimes I expect far too much. As the one man running SJS DIRECT all by myself on a threadbare budget these days I try to do everything in the hopes of pushing myself to the next level. But even I have limitations. 

Truth is I work hard. Sometimes too hard. But the reason why I push so hard is because I want to get these stories on the page. It means a lot to me to share my work with readers and if one story or one blog can reach one person and give them information that can give them a different perspective on a subject I feel like my writing has made a difference in their lives.

With God’s help, lots of asprin and alcohol I’m trying to recover from the pulled muscles in my right arm and I’m trying to get business back on track. Next year I’ll be getting closer to publishing my 50th book and I’m hoping to be healthy enough to celebrate achieving that milestone.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Spinsterella Prequel Brainstorming

I’m really pondering writing a Spinsterella Prequel as my next novel. I think readers would be interested in seeing how a teenage Matilda Crowley became Mad Matilda and how she became part of the Goth subculture.

 Yeah, I know Spinsterella has only been out for a month, but I really like this character and I’d love to explore her origins in a YA novel. I think a lot of tweens and teens who are Goths or interested in the Goth Subculture would be interested in reading a story about the Baby Bat years of Mad Matilda.

There’s a bunch of questions I’d love to answer in depth about Matilda’s past like: What made her choose the Goth Subculture? What did she feel comfortable with becoming a Goth as opposed to other subcultures like Hip-Hop at the time? What was her family like? Who were her friends back then? What was life like living back on Sugar Hill 25 years ago during the Crack epidemic? What made her feel so stressed about being biracial that it caused her to almost have a nervous breakdown?

In answering those questions about Matilda’s past I believe there’s a great story about the dark side of being light skinned/biracial. Most Black people often believe that there are all these so-called priveleges to someone Black having light skin or being so-called biracial and I’d love to write a story where I show why that isn’t true at all. Light skinned Blacks and biracial Black people not only face discrimination from Whites and nonblacks but Black people as well, but no one ever wants to discuss this intra-racism and how it affects brothers and sisters.

I’d also love to explore the whole concept of race and identity in the prequel. I’ve often explored the concept in other novels I’ve written like The Thetas, but I’d like to think I could explore it from a different persepective in the Spinsterella prequel. Oftentimes Black people think they have to follow one kind of culture and one kind of narrative to be considered “Black”. Unfortunately, those roads often lead to Black people not becoming themselves, but stereotypes.

With the Matilda character I’m pondering what happens when a biracial person has the courage to decide to turn away from the paradigm of the Tragic Mulatto and go their own way and create their own identity. Are they Mad? Or are they making more sense than we think?

After getting all the grief about the Isis: Wrath of the Cybergoddess and Isis: Night of the Vampires Covers and Isis’ skintone I felt I had to tackle this whole lightskin/darkskin issue I felt I had to tackle the topic in a story to show how it effected people. That was one of the reasons I wrote the Original Spinsterella and the upcoming Isis: Imitation of Life. But I belive a Spinsterella Prequel would really go the most in depth on the topic and make a definitive statement about Skintone, race, and what many think is the Black identity.

One of the big inspirations I had in writing the original Spinsterella was something actress Persia White said on a radio show in 2009 or so about being so dark inside because she was light skinned. That got me thinking about the dark side of being a light skinned Black person.

The other thing that inspired me to create the Matilda Crowley character was Tia Mowry’s relationship with her father. Tia Mowry has a very close relationship with her White father and the love between them goes far beyond the color of their skin. I’d love to develop the relationship between Matilda and her father Jason in the next story and show how they became close during this troubling time for her. In that relationship I’d be exploring Matilda’s conflicting feelings for her father, being told she’s “Acting White”.

I’ve got a lot of ideas for this project. I’d love to write it as a Tim Burtonesque kind of teen comedy. Something just like the original Spinsterella filled with dark humor, satire, and ironic wit, the staples of the Goth subculture. And I’d love to make a commentary about how backwards the monolithic view of what most Black people consider what being “Black” truly is. What is really “Black” should be defined by Black people and feature all the shades and textures of our culture not something that makes White people feel comfortable.

From a business standpoint I’d love to put a Spinsterella prequel into production is because A little YA novel I did back in 2013 called The Thetas is still one of my biggest hits. That story about the origins of then 19-year-old John Haynes supporting character Colleen Anderson while she pledged the mysterious Theta Sorority proved to be quite popular with women of all ages and all races. I’d like to think readers Goth and nongoth would be excited to learn all about what would make a girl want to become a part of the Goth Subculture.

All of this is brainstorming right now, and nothing is concrete. But this is a project I’d love to get started on. But I’ve got a Kickstarter planned and four other books in the queue. We’ll see what happens.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

John Haynes Concept Model sheets for the 2016 Kickstarter

 More Concept Model sheets for the SJS DIRECT 2016 Kickstarter Trying to draw a figure a day to get back in the hang of things.

But with these two concepts I'm trying to show the difference between John's Casual outfit which he usually wears in Isis series books and the business outfit he usually wears in The Temptation of John Haynes and the E'steem series books.

Gonna try to get E'steem,  The Eastland Witches, and Drac up next week!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Concept art for Isis: Bride of Dracula

Been really busy on FOUR book projects. So I haven't had time to write a blog. But one will be coming soon. Soon as I find a topic to write about. But here's a concept sketch I drew for the Isis: Bride of Dracula cover. This is one of three figures I have planned for that cover so I have to draw two more model sheets for it along with model sheets for the other three books!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Kickstarter 2016 Progress Report

I’ve been busy all this week prepping for SJS DIRECT 2016 Cover Kickstarter. (Yes, that’s the title.) And for that project I’m planning to raise funds to pay for the covers for three or possibly four titles.

I spent all of last week writing the final book in the project, a sequel to Isis: Night of the Vampires. Next year’s titles will include:

Isis: Bride of Dracula- A follow-up to Isis: Night of the Vampires Where the goddess next door and John Haynes take on the Lord of the Vampires,

John Haynes: The Man Who Rules the World- The sequel to The Temptation of John Haynes, 

E’steem: The Witches of Eastland- An E’steem series adventure with a mix of horror, fantasy and comedy, 

And Isis: Imitation of Life- A fantasy flashback tale set in the 1930s inspired by the 1934 film Imitation of Life dealing with Intra racism, racial identity and the role of Negro women in the pre-Civil Rights era.

Some readers have been asking me to write YA fiction for Black males and I’m finally ready to add more of those stories into my catalog. Both Isis: Bride of Dracula and John Haynes: The Man who rules the World feature an intelligent Black male hero who is authoratiative, assertive and has strong masculine traits.

All four of the titles have their first drafts completed and I’m in the middle of revisions right now. I’m planning for an April 2016 launch for the four titles in the SJS DIRECT Cover Kickstarter and I want the titles to be the best quality possible.

I’ve talked to an artist and the tentative budget for the project is gonna be about $2500 if I do four books, $2000 if I do three. This year there will be eBooks as part of the rewards in addition to the paperbacks. If we can surpass the goal for funding the project I may be able to afford to provide some cool bonuses like a print featuring all the characters or do something really cool like offer donors a copy of The Temptation of John Haynes with a brand new cover for helping me raise fund past the intital goal!

There’s still a lot for me to do regarding this project like drawing up model sheets and creating page layouts for the .PDFs. So things may change between here and January. But I’m working hard towards a January launch for the SJS DIRECT 2016 Kickstarter. At that time I’ll announce the artist for the project and list all the rewards for everyone.