Some frequently asked questions are answered below
Q: This is your first book. Where’d you get the idea to do a collection of poems, instead of a full-length novel?
A: Yes, it is my first book! I’m super excited because this has been a long time coming. I’m proud of myself for finally publishing if nothing else. I’ve been writing since my teenage years. However, I still consider myself a beginning writer. I wrote a lot of poetry then, I started shifting toward short stories around sixteen. Nineteen, I began the try and tackle a novel. Yea, very ambitious for such a young age. LOL. All I knew then was that I had a lot to write and poems went from short stories to now I have three chapters of a book, why not? Pulling these pieces together into a collection gave me a collage and reflection of a then and now. Some are experiences of my own, but many are based on observation of life, relationships and what others spoke me either verbal or non-verbal. It was what I needed to share.
Q: Are the stories old or new?
A: Both. Some go back to the early ’00s, and others were written quite recently to fill out the collection. In all, it took me 15 years to write a book. . .and not a thick one at that! However, 30 for $10 figures out to 33 cents per poem— not bad. Especially, since this is original and there is so much in creatively developing a poem. There are so many styles. You can be structured or unstructured. Rhyme or don’t rhyme. I love it! It’s freedom in words.
Q: Did you have any goals for this collection when you wrote it — to get published, or just to finish, etc.?
A: Of course, I wanted to get it published. Even back to some of the earlier ones, I wanted to reach people. More than that, I’ve always been someone who writes just for myself. I keep a journal; I write to be clear my mind, I write to look back and reflect, I write to assess an understanding of the current and maybe how to move forward. Needless, to say, writing is therapeutic and for a person with an imagination such as mine can be adventurous, while making a very important statement. I knew I was destined to do this, it took some time. In that time, I was ok writing because it just made me feel great. To release on one end and in other spectrums see the extension of my creativity.
Q: How did you begin writing? Did you intend to become an author, or do you have a specific reason or reasons for writing each book?
A: I began writing because I was not a big speaker of my feelings. I was very reserved growing up. An observations and analyst, never really to judge but it was my nature as an intuitive person and one that could read emotions well. I was drawn to write fiction, It naturally just came to me the development of characters and a plot of intrigue, drama or adventure. It was like as soon as I was able to make complete sentences. It was on. LOL. I’d watch TV shows and movies and find stories within those stories. I’d want to make another scene or write the one watching over. I was inspired by them to write poems or stories on the subject matter.
Even though these are words on paper. I take it all in, the mastery to create the scene as if it were being enacted on a stage. I make sure to convey tone and symbolic body language. I never want my reader to wonder. It should all be there. They should be transported into the story. These are more than words…These are truths, joys, trials and tribulations. Fiction with fragments of realities and life experiences. Many of the stories shed light on pressing and or current issues. To share the central idea for the reader to empathize, it is my job to explain, give all the facts, the emotions, in order to formulate a discussion or a thought from it.
Q: What authors do you like to read? What book or books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?
A: A fan of many authors indeed. Too many to list. They range in categories of Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Science Fiction and Young Adult Fiction category. My Favorite Authors and Idols are the late great Maya Angelou, Zora Neal Hurston and Nikki Giovani. All extraordinary women of color who’ve wrote works that have transcended anything ever written that resonated with me. All great women authors. With many contributions between them. The main contribution was a common thing, them. They were the spark to an era of women writers and natural leaders. These were an example early on that a woman had power in words and art was truth. It made a believer out of me that one day this was possible for me to write and express in a way with no boundaries. As words are limitless.
Zora was probably the most influential, one of the founders and birthers of an era in the Harlem Renaissance. A witty and outspoken artist who saw fit to make work that showed African Americans in great forms and how the past had predicted the future. Present Day Authors and books I enjoy are Marry B. Morrison. Kimberla Lawson Roby, E Lynn. Harris, Damiah S. Poole, and more. Books from these influential authors have been read since the age of 15.
The love of Nicholas Sparks as a writer and his creative, inspirational stories that can always enable the shed of a tear. I am bit of a Sci Fi/Fantasy geek, nerd, whatever you want to call it for the Twilight Saga. I read all four books from this magnificent writer within 2 weeks. I was taken by the awkwardness and intrigue set in the character Bella and the mysterious yet chivalrous Edward. The love triangle added a twist, and I did root like many girls onward with the Edward or Jacob theme.
Q: Could you describe the mundane details of writing: How many hours a day to you devote to writing? Do you write a draft on paper or at a keyboard (typewriter or computer)?
A: I’m currently working on my first full-length novel, I Use to Love Him. I work on a laptop, and I try to write two pages a day or 1,000 words. I do a small edit at that time. Upon finishing the chapter, I go back and edit or re-write if necessary, before going on to the next, treating it. I do this to make sure that not only did I follow my outline but to ensure that the content from chapter to chapter is consistent. For example, the transitions of locations and what character is speaking. There are many in the novel, I’m currently writing. I want my readers to follow along.
It is necessary for me to keep an “idea book” — a notebook in which I list imagery, ideas, overheard bits of real-life dialogue, and anything else that seems like it might come in handy in some future story, script or novel. I probably have racked up many of these over the years. I’ve always been known to be obvious when my wheels are turning. LOL. Even if for some reason, I didn’t have my idea book, a memo app on my phone, a napkin, anything would do. I simply don’t want to lose the inspiration.
Later, when I’m launching a new piece, I go through the idea book and pull out those bits and pieces from the past that seem like they might fit. Some do — and the others go right back in limbo. (At least, for now.)
Q: Do you write every single day?
A: No…Not all. I’m a mother of two and head of household, enough said. Talk about finding the time. LOL. I typically do a couple of things in a course of a week, try to grab my idea book to see if something flows. When I’m working on a story, I set times like after the kids are in bed to try and do an hour of writing. But I don’t make myself feel bad if I didn’t. Usually I write when I am inspired. For poems, it is definitely that way. Stories again, it takes me pulling out the bits and pieces that have traveled into my idea book or sometimes a topic discussion that has sparked the imagination of a story. I can give the muse its due when it is not forced.
Q: Any writing rituals?
A: No rituals. However, music in my ears is always a great writing companion.
Q: Ballpoint, uniball or fountain pen?
A: Ballpoint. Purple-ink preferred.
Q: Do you meet your readers at book signings, conventions, or similar events?
A: Well, so far…I don’t know who they are yet. LOL. My circle of readers is small, outside of my family and close friends, there is no one else beside the ones that following me on social media. I hope to acquire more fans that love what I do. I hope to meet them at book-store reading/signing events and elsewhere. My aim is to perform poems or do readings thus allowing for immediate feedback from my listeners/readers. I enjoy that immediate feedback. My preference is to recite, to make eye contact. Book stores, art galleries, coffeehouses and theater spaces afford an intimate atmosphere and forum to discuss it afterward.
Q: Aren’t writers supposed to be solitary?
A: The act of writing can be a private existence; I enjoy my privacy, but not really solitude. I love to do familiar activities and try new things, and I’m certain my work is the better for it. My children keep me active and quite often. We love to be out in the elements. I love to go to movies, musical concerts, theatre shows. Dance and Yoga are ways that I get my fitness in. I don’t like a dull day at all, but when I’m ready to express in the written word, yes…I am often found in a corner, at a table or in a chair in my mind and lost to the outside world.
Q: Can we recognize your hometown of Temple Hills, Maryland in the collection?
A: Not specifically.
Q: What’s the worst job you’ve had?
A: I worked at a shoe store in my early twenties. Working with the customers wasn’t really the issue nor the staff. It was the management and this crazy model that we had to follow as salespersons. Bring the shoe the customer wanted but bring 4 other options and the options had to be a flat, a boot, a dressy casual/cocktail hour type, etc. It wasn’t a bad idea but the worst was the un-organization of the stock room. A room that had two levels and stairs that were uneven. I almost tripped over my feet and boxes several times. I did it for a while. I got pregnant with my second child and it was hard for me at 4 months to handle the tasks.
My manager was not empathetic at all. I would ask the customer the questions about other shoes before going to get them to not waste the trip or bring up more than they wanted. Some customers didn’t like that you were trying to upsale to them or would be gone by the time you came back from traveling through the stock room to get the ones they asked for, reason being now you must grab the four others and they weren’t as organized to find.
Q: Tell us some more about your book, The Invitation: To journey through a conscious mind?
A: It’s diverse collection of poetry and the result of an entire life’s work experimenting within my vocation. I wanted to show truth, meaning, hope, possibility and a succinct hint of humor all a part of the essence of humanity. The works shed light on relative issues that we’re all faced with in our lives, and the tedium that makes up our existence. I use inspirations wherever she can get it, to show another side or all sides of a topic.
The Invitation: To Journey through a conscious mind, is an ode, an inspirational movement in relation to a generation of poets that carved their names in literary history. I wrote to show the existence of things that have been written to have a turn one day. To those that haven’t yet and still need to. To the inner workings of relationship and life. And above all the existence of you, in your own skin, on the journey of a world positive in its giving sometimes and other times negative. It’s just that of which it states. An invitation to join and emote in the conversation. That’s ok to “be” and have thoughts or experiences like the ones that unfold. Furthermore, in the end that one is not the only one and there’s a strengthening that can begin from all of that.
Any creative mind will revel in the inspiration that lies between these pages, it’s full of daring attitude, and celebration for the authentic. I have a unique look on love and an eye-opening perspective of life.
Q: Are you planning to adapt any of your stories to the screen?
A: I’ve begun to start the process. I’ve written two screen plays. Nothing is produced yet. I plan to direct and co-produce them. The goal is to have a production studio of my own to produce my work and other artists work out of.
Q: What’s more important: characters or plot?
A: Characterization, hands down. Plots can be developed. You essentially gain the plot after you develop the characters, in my experience. If they are copiously and genuinely identified, then the rest will grow organically out of them. If not — then start over.
After I do a rough synopsis from pulling the pieces and bits I’ve been inspired to add to my idea book together, I do some very basic outlining. I don’t always know the ending when I begin. I know what I want to convey and the outline helps me plan it out, even if it is rough. Because there are always tweaks when it comes to me. I’ll re-read and tell myself, “No. Tyfany you have to come better than that.” The characters in many instances gage me in the direction of where the story is leading. I like it that way because, sometimes there is just more to tell. Too much for one story and now you have the option to place a cliffhanger and create a series.
Q: How hard is it to establish and maintain a career in fiction writing?
A: Very hard, not just because of the rejection that comes with shopping your pitches around. But it is also the level of creativity that must be there to create a story from beginning to end. One that lives outside of your brain and now you must tell in a way for others to follow. Sometimes our stories sound better to ourselves. LOL. Honestly, I’m not the only author that has wrote something that you immediately went, ok this is crappy.
Sometimes the inspiration is from an action of someone else’s body language. Now, it is your skill to writer that as if the reader was right there witnessing it with you. You need to have a strong ego. You need to believe in yourself. You need to keep going and write on.
I spent the last 17 years working and editorial jobs of various kinds, treating my own writing — fiction writing — It was a hobby and a passion for me early on. It was a way to say the things I thought but dared not speak in the circumstance. Along the years, it was what my dream job would be. I felt destined to do it. I worked in many positions from Administrative, Human Resources, and Legal Secretary that allowed me to do writing but in a more technical or business sense. The work of forms and databases, oh what’s not the love? LOL. I loved the stroke of my pen more. It was matter of time before being a writer and author would come to fruition.
This is my life’s work, ambition, dream and mission, and prayerfully, I’ll get somewhere with it. At least, that’s what I’ve been telling myself lately. We’ll find out in the months ahead as the release of what was very private to me is now going to be out in the world. It feels nice to just share it.
Q: Are you going to keep writing and doing only part-time work, or do you see yourself eventually going back to a full-time, corporate-type job?
A: The plan for now is to keep working full-time and see where it leads me. I’ve been working on developments for a business. I’ve always been on a mission to be an entrepreneur someday. My business plan is very solid and other aspects are coming along well. I plan to start working to create the best portfolio of work. My aim is to launch next year into full swing as a start-up under an LLC.
I can’t quite my day job. I have responsibilities and priorities to take care of. I’d be very grateful if it all works out for my good and lead me in positive direction to do so. But until then, I must keep grinding for myself and my children.
Q: Any last thoughts for our readers?
A: Thanks for reading this interview, and I hope you’ll check out The Invitation: To journey through a conscious mind, because I said so. LOL. No seriously, you will enjoy it!