Author Archives: Heatherdawn

New Shipment is IN

Presenting the revised book cover for Imbroglio, The Ties of Love and Lies.
(Click photo to watch video)
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My shipment is in, so get your copy now! You don’t want to miss the enthralling story that’s within…

Thanks for your support!

A New Look

ImbroglioRevisedFrontCoverDiggyImbroglio has a new look!

Here’s the latest journal entry in the life and times of a self-published author. After much deliberation, I decided to add the subtitle, “The Ties of Love and Lies” to my book to give its unusual title a little more… let’s say… support. A little encouragement for the reader who strangles, chokes, and simply gives up trying to pronounce or spell the title, the new subtitle captures the essence of how both love and lies can bind a person’s heart and will. This addition, of course, required new fonts, and since I was at it I figured, “Why not have the designer update the graphics with a little embellishment, too?”

I used BookCoversLab.com, and although they are a very talented group, it was a difficult process trying to get the designers to understand what I wanted to accomplish via email correspondence. (I had no idea that was the sole means of communication when I signed up for their services––which happens to be located overseas. If you’re thinking about using them, be forewarned.) Anyway, with a little help from some local folks I could reach out and touch and my own Photoshop software, we got the cover looking pretty good. It gives off a different vibe now versus the original, but overall I’m satisfied.

Onward!

Author Tips

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These tips are to help the aspiring or stagnant author eliminate making the statement,
"I wish I had known or done that before." They are a compilation of my own experiences
and what works for me, as well as resources I've come across along my journey.
Check back periodically for more.

Tip #1:

Pray. Ask God for the wisdom, time, discernment, and discipline to find the balance necessary to write.
Without Jesus, everything we do is nothing. (John 15:5)

Tip #2:

Use whatever you have around you––phone, tablet, voice recorder, scrap pieces of paper, etc.––to note ideas as they come to you.
Don't worry about how it will fit into your story. That will come.

Tip #3:

Commit to transferring those ideas above to one document on a regular basis and back it up.

Tip #5:

Start thinking about your target audience and book promotion now. Several websites provide free book promotion and marketing tips,
which is very helpful in writing your vision and plotting your goals. BuildBookBuzz.com is one that provides a wealth of resources.

What Would You Say To A Young You?

Dear Little GirlI’m about to be very transparent as I pummel the following prose into submission. So, in the lyrical words of Chris Brown, “Please, don’t judge me.”

If you do, I promise I will… just have to get over it.

(Did you see what I did there?)

Okay, all bad jokes aside. Please, keep reading.

As I was putting the finishing touches on my Imbroglio manuscript, I pulled out my college English notes to refresh my memory on some grammatical rules and came across an essay I’d written. The assignment was to write a letter to me as a youth. I read it and nearly cried. The words were even more poignant in September of 2015 than they were when I wrote them in 2002.

The letter begins, “Hey, little girl! I am so excited to have this opportunity to communicate with you. I would bet that you are sitting in your small wooden rocking chair reading this letter. As I sit here thinking about you, I remember that you are a very busy seven-year–old and I wonder what you were doing before you settled down to read. Maybe you had just hurriedly removed your school uniform, anxious to get to the letter you discovered waiting for you when you got home. Maybe you were outside playing with the neighborhood kids that come by because they like how you can come up with fantastic things to do. Maybe you were in that huge pool in the backyard, letting your imagination take you on a wild adventure, swimming relentlessly except for the occasional break to the kitchen or to eat fruit off of the trees. If you were swimming, I am sure you stopped for only three reasons: your Nana told you to, the sun went down, or you caught a stomach cramp. (Whatever the reason you emerged from the water, I am sure it was long after your fingers and toes had wrinkled up like prunes.) Maybe you just returned home from tap, ballet, or piano lessons. Or maybe you just finished eating some of Nana’s delicious cooking. Nevertheless, thanks for taking some time to hear me out.”

How that imagery sparked nostalgia and made me recall the beauty of endless childhood wishes, sense of possibility, and freedom of adult burdens, as well as the precious moments I’d ignorantly taken for granted back then.

Have you ever seriously considered what you would say to a young you? What advice would you have? Any encouragement? Any admonition? If you haven’t given this concept any real thought, I submit to you a challenge, for as you continue to read (and hopefully enjoy) what I wrote, you’ll see I had plenty to say to me.

In the next paragraph of my letter, I get right to it:

“Let me warn you. This letter is stocked full of advice on things I wish I had known or realized when I was your age. You may not want to hear these things now, but if you would receive my words they would make a world of difference in your life. I wish that I could be there in person to give you a big hug before I tell you these two things: you’re okay and I am proud of you.

No matter what you think others think of you, you’re okay. I do not recall anyone ever telling you that you were not good enough, not smart enough, or not cute enough. I also do not recall when or how you arrive at these conclusions. Maybe it happens because you are the only black child living in a predominantly white neighborhood, and you look different. All of your friends’ hair is straight while your hair is curly. Maybe it happens because the only people you see on television who are supposed to be truly beautiful look nothing like you. Maybe it happens because you do not learn about all of the great accomplishments made by your people until later in life, and you cannot imagine any black role models that are successful, smart, and attractive. (l know that your own family does not count––and will not count until much later. ) Maybe it happens because society has not come around to portraying true images and roles yet, and you are fooled into believing such things as the great Egyptian ruler Cleopatra looking like a white woman with violet eyes. I have news for you. There will come a time when society will openly appreciate your beauty and the beauty of other non-Caucasian people, as well. Most importantly, one day you too will appreciate your own beauty.

When you grow older, you will find that you are your own worst critic. Listen to me. Stop getting in your own way. The worst thing you can do is compare yourself to what others look like, what others have, or what others are able to do. You will struggle with comparing yourself to others even when you are grown, but don’t let it consume you or deceive you into believing you are second-rate. Even if your talent and capabilities are not where you’d like them to be, know that you are talented and are capable. Believe it. Even if it seems that you’ll never be who or what you would like to be, do not give up and do not stop trying. Even if it seems that you should have accomplished some things by a certain time frame, understand that you walk the path of your life at your own pace and no one else’s. Know that God has given you a hope and a future, and that He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.

Little girl, you will not be a failure. I know that new tasks may sometimes seem too difficult to you, and you believe that you will fail even before you try. (How do I know these things? I just do.) My encouragement to you is do not make your decision before giving the task a try. You will be surprised at how good you can be and with practice, how much better.

Although you may look back and wish you had made different choices, I commend you on the choices you will make anyway. They are part of what makes you who you are. Also, maybe things may not happen when or how you want them to, but be patient. One of life’s lessons that you’Il learn over and over again is that things may not happen when you want them to, but when they do they will be right on time.

Cherish every moment that you have with your family who loves you dearly. Appreciate the fact that you know both your mommy and daddy and that they are married. Understand that not every little girl has two Nana’s, two Papa’s, and a grandfather. Know that not every little girl gets to meet her great-grandmother. Praise God that you are not abused, starving, or lacking necessities. Unfortunately, there are so many kids that cannot make these same statements. They see and feel so much pain that they do not get to enjoy their childhood like you do. Realize how very blessed you are.

I wish I could take away the pain, personal dejection, and disillusionment you will feel as you grow older and experience life, but I cannot. Some things you will just have to go through. However, I leave you with this song of encouragement by contemporary gospel duo, Mary, Mary:

‘When you get up in the morning
Look yourself in the mirror
And say, “I love me!”
Even with all your flaws
And all of your downfalls
Just do your best
’Cause to Him you already are!
Little girl, Little girl,
God made you so beautiful
Little girl, Little girl,
I just though that you should know…’

P. S. Enjoy all those homegrown fruits and vegetables, and savor Nana’s cooking while you can. In fact, try staying in the kitchen while she is cooking and learn what she is doing instead of running away. And next time, when she is out planting, digging, and picking in the garden, ask her what she’s doing and why she’s doing it. Believe me, you’re going to wish you had in the future. Again, God loves you, and by the way, I love you, too.”

Happy to say, I got an “A” on the paper. But I really got an “A” in life–– “A” for Acknowledgment of my shortcomings and growth and for a prophetic Advisory that would still be relevant thirteen years later. My life has certainly taken some unpleasant turns, and I’ve faced significant failures, disappointments and set-backs. But today, by the grace of God, I’m pressing forward, operating outside of my comfort zone, sharing “me” with the world and being blessed by the responses and the delight people have with my imagination. I’m taking risks. I’m following my own advice.

Is there something you need to say to that younger you, today? Something that will release that gift or talent or wisdom you’ve suppressed and make it available for others to experience? There’s no better time than now.

Perhaps, you should write yourself a letter.

A Call For Help

Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 10.53.16 PMOn Sunday, I received an email from Mark Coker, the founder of Smashwords, with a subject headline that caught my eye. It read, “Help End the Book Embargo Against Cuba” and it included a request to visit the following link https://petitions.whitehouse.gov//petition/end-book-embargo-against-cuba and consider signing his petition.

I’m asking you to do the same.

Why? If you care about people being oppressed and mistreated, here is a small step you can take to help in a big way. It won’t cost you anything except the few minutes of your time to click on the link, read the short petition, and sign your name. On March 21 and 22, President Obama will be taking a trip to Cuba, and shortly thereafter, his administration will announce modifications to the embargo that will likely loosen some of its restrictions. We want to encourage President Obama to lift the embargo against books and educational materials.

Here are some of the points Mark Coker makes:

“Cuba has an adult literacy rate of nearly 100%, about 20 points higher than the US.”

“Cuban publishers have difficulty acquiring even the basic raw materials of bookmaking like paper and ink.”

“Cuban readers don’t have easy access to books published by American authors and publishers.”

“Books promote greater cross-cultural understanding, economic development and free expression.”

For those of you who’ve read my book, Imbroglio, you know that I touch on some of the horrible living conditions of the Cuban people as a direct result of their government’s political regime and the effects of the U.S. government’s embargo. Without delving too deeply into the country’s politics, I’ll share just a bit about those conditions for those of you who may be unaware.

With their state-controlled agriculture, the country struggles to feed itself, forcing the government to import approximately 70 percent of the island’s food which, of course, amounts to higher costs. The government employs a ration system for Cubans to receive a portion of food and commodities which they can purchase at their local bodega at subsidized prices. However, these rations are often out of stock or frequently delayed, and since the average Cuban salary amounts to around $20 a month, be the person a janitor or a doctor, many local residents aren’t able to afford the higher marketplace prices. Consequently, many go without, typically consuming one meal a day. The country operates with two different currencies, where many establishments accept one type and not the other, resulting in the broadening of the haves and have-nots, and there is so much more. For those interested in reading further, I have included links at the bottom of this blog.

What you may be asking is, with the much bigger problems the Cubans face, how will ending the book embargo help? History has shown that when people are enslaved, oppressed and otherwise mistreated, knowledge, wisdom and information have been the keys to effecting positive change. With political relations warming up between our two countries, we are primed to do just that.

Please take a moment to join me in the opportunity and then share this with others you know. 100,000 signatures are needed by April, 8, 2016, so time is of the essence!

For more information about Cuban and U.S. relations and their economy, visit:

A Brief History Of U.S.-Cuba Relations

Amid Reforms, Cubans Fret Over Food Rations Fate

Cuba Looks To U.S. Farmers For Help With Food Crisis

Reform On The Range: Cubans Heed The Call To Farm

Ration Book in Cuba

 

Penetrating the World

IMG_2160I have fantastic news that I’m overjoyed to share! After a string of disappointing attempts to get my paperback on Amazon through CreateSpace (from which I have taken hiatus) followed by a week of confusion about why my novel didn’t display with the correct formatting (for which I recently received an email from Amazon KDP that it was on their end) I can finally say I have gone global! My book is now on Amazon Kindle, available for immediate download worldwide to your phone, tablet, or computer.

On top of this, a reader just shared with me that she enjoyed my book so much that she would sleep with it in the bed. That way, when she awoke, she could continue reading. I’ve added this to my list of special comments, right next to the one where the reader admitted to reading my book on the toilet. That, my friends, says, “I can’t put it down.”

However, the comment that is most uplifting is about a sharp, 85 year-old avid reader who had given up her passion for reading due to an endless barrage of health problems. The woman––who hadn’t picked up a book in years––informed the friend who had purchased my novel for her that my book restored her desire to read and encouraged her to start “living” again. After calling the friend over so they could discuss the book, she closed the hours-long conversation with, “I loved it so much, I’m going to read it again.”

Yes. I’m still doing my happy dance.

God is so good.

Meet the Author

Imbroglio is my exciting debut. Birthed as catharsis during a tumultuous time in my life, I penned this story for others like me in search of an undying love. I'm currently working on the next phase of this project to bring to fruition an audio book, a book trailer and, for those who want to watch it on the big screen, a feature film. What's after that? The sequel, of course!... I mean, perhaps... LEARN MORE >

The Story. Defined.

im·bro·glio / im-‘brōl-yō / n. (pl. -lios)
1) A perplexing and intricate state of affairs: Shannon Moore––professional, headstrong, and blazing her own path––starts doubting the solidity of her life and future when a charming encounter and a chain of perplexing events overtake her. Ensnared in love, lust, and a spiritual odyssey among unsavory dealings, she plunges into a heart-racing journey of intricate twists and turns, and her dangerous state of affairs provokes more questions than answers.
2) A complicated situation: She's plagued by the warnings: “Don't get involved in something you really don’t want to be a part of” and “Things aren't always what they seem...” Throughout the imbroglio, she clamors for freedom in the form of salvation and love, both of which have been strangers far too long. SEE MORE

Get Your Copy

• Price: $10.95 plus shipping

• Paperback: 192 pages

• Category: Romantic Suspense

• Book Dimensions: 5.5” x 8.5”


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