THE ART & THE ARTIST

  Image: Los Angeles, CA    Published, 2015

Image: Los Angeles, CA

Published, 2015

Within a piece of poetry, illustration, narrative, video game, and film; there are intricate beams of energy stimulating the expressions and overall message. Art in itself is "Life". To be alive is to be conditioned to accepting one's existence. In the Bible, it is stated that God breathed life into man, and that man is created in his likeness. As human beings, we are gifted to carry the ethereal waft into our creations.

I recently left my beloved adopted home, Los Angeles, CA to come back and continue my business in Florida. During my stay in LA, I took in different venues, sites, people, and art of all mediums! One of my favorites is the comics store "COOL CATS". 

I also traveled to the Hammer Museum to refresh my mind. Believe it or not but finishing a book can be pretty stressful. Prose writing is my gem; I love it of course. Anyway, as my significant other and I walked through the exhibits, we were captivated by nearly all of them in some way. Whether we liked or disliked an artist's direction for a particular portrait or canvas did not take away from it being art. 

Art is what I like to believe for those who believe in the impossible. In art, you need a lot of faith. You can see and feel things that some people may not. The human imagination or "Spirit Cube" is meant for us to expand and sometimes burst open. 

I've learned over my twenty-four years to appreciate a man and woman. To love even the worse of them because it usually leads to them coming to terms and becoming better. I'm a writer that pray's that everyone can appreciate art in its purest form. One that is truly holy, a testament of grace and that asks and tells us about the human life, experience, and nature.

CREATING A SOMEWHAT DECENT SETTING

  Image: Slave cabins   at Oak Alley Plantation    Published, 2017

Image: Slave cabins at Oak Alley Plantation

Published, 2017

The struggle is real when it comes to creating a world of pure fantastical lore, or one at the height of a high-tech revolution, or even a story that takes place in Los Angeles’ booming nightlife. Storytelling can and will take us through the trenches. There are many times—and I do mean many—that I’ve either been stuck trying to create a climactic situation where my hero is pulled into some unfortunate event, or, I’ve been trapped trying to set the mood for the reader. By God’s grace, I discovered that one of the main problems weighing down both aspiring and experienced writers alike is creating a setting.

The setting of a story, the narrative specifically, gives your characters a place to call home. It gives them a chance to visit a deceased loved one or recall a memory about a time that they received their first kiss. It is impossible to do this without first creating the environment for the characters to live in, and that’s the hard part. Generating the right setting with all of the right background and details can be taxing on us writers. There are countless ways to produce a great setting, but that also takes time to figure out. I know a handful of writers that build their worlds from general ideas that they’ve picked up here and there. I do not doubt their world-crafting ability, but once I read their stories, I saw a significant amount of detail left out. The element of livability lessened because they did not take the time to study what they wrote about in their books. One of my favorite authors, Terry Brooks, told me at a convention that, for him to write his books in a way that allows readers to fully immerse themselves in his world, he studies history and politics. If you’ve ever read his Shannara book then you can see how history and politics shape that world, and thusly has a direct connection with the setting.

I think that, as writers and creatives, we want the reader to see every single detail. That isn’t bad, but it sure ain’t good. Take this sentence as an example:

The green, bushy leaves rode on the cinnamon branches that hung loosely on a pine tree that Pope Von Durkraken planted at the height of the 1800th revolution, before the aftermath that left only one single tree left.

This may leave most readers exhausted by the end. If I were to fix it up by pointing out focal points and add a little movement to the scene, the reader’s imagination will have room to put in work and get its gears turning. Here's an example:

A line of ants climbed through the maple of a large tree. Elana placed her hand on the withered bark as the wind fanned its branches. She smiled at the sound of the leaves as if hundreds of hands clapped for her to perform another sonnet. It seemed impossible that only one tree remained in this broken forest. Her instructors in college told her stories about how Pope Von Durkraken gave his life trying to keep the land green. Elana looked at the tree. It no longer had the good health of copper hue but one of deep gray.

All I did was add physical interaction with the environment, make it a personal experience with the protagonist, and showing two of the five senses. It becomes easier to do as long as you continue to practice, train, and study every day. If you are making writing into a career like me, then you want to treat your craft like your life depends on it.

So, get your pen, pencil, phone, or pad and get to writin’!

THE AROMA

  Image: House of Blues, New Orleans   Published, 2016

 Image: House of Blues, New Orleans

Published, 2016

 

I enter into a sultry building filled to the brim with men and women, all different demographics and origins. What brings them together, you ask? The answer is the night, and it has long kept a promise. Tonight, there is one goal they want to achieve. I can smell what they seek in the air. Its scent is one of many fragrances. A dominating aroma, one that my elders riveted in centuries before my birth. This aroma is almost as old as time itself.

Yes, in the times one can’t fathom to understand, did the irresistible aroma empower tribes, kingdoms, and nations in its strong scent. The spices enthralled every generation; warriors clanked their blades, and the women danced in the rain, enjoying the enticing chill of a single droplet. Whether they wore cloth, robe, jewelry, or armor, the aroma took them. It is surely an intoxicating scent; it fills you with a dangerous thrill like you are driving at 200 miles on a 55-mile speed limit.

My brothers and sisters want to obtain this thrill, this McGuffin. Though they are in heat, they do not want to procreate. They say, “I do not have time for love tonight.” The sun has set, and now they relinquish all control of their inhibitors. They cheer with the coming of the moon’s luminescent light. Intertwining to the rhythmic beats, they repeatedly perform an action. The lyrics of the song seem to supply the aroma’s potency. I can sense its alluring nature attempt to pull me in; it wants me.

It speaks to me. “Come here and partake in the variety. Tonight you are amongst kings. Live like royalty, take what you will, and sample the delicacies, as your ancestors once did.”

I hear my brothers’ chants. Each one is high off our instinctive human nature, the feral side effect of this aroma. Each one searches, vigilantly, for a courtesan. Some may already have a queen at their castle, but tonight she is out of town. My brothers begin their mating signs. They flex their power by showing their wealth, strengths, and intellect. All this is done under the influence of a simple, but a highly influential bottle. My brothers’ display of, well, manliness captivates the women of man. It is not enough to sell them, but their presentations entice them.

I fight the hypnotic spell that the aroma plays on its victims. As a man of faith, a God-fearer, I am no longer tied to the physical plane, though I am a part of it. However, the cravings may arise from the black etchings in my heart. The savory smell of the aroma, the unquenchable thirst I know that I will not be able to fill. I know this because I have tried, countless upon countless of times. Divine text from the Hebrews, the powerful of all text, aids me to remember who it is I serve. I am a man of faith, and through my faith; I serve the almighty King of All Kings, the Almighty God. So, I hammer down on my urges, I strike with a diamond crafted tool, pummeling every fraction of darkness inside me. It will not take me tonight, nor will its ally.

At the end of the night, I do not succumb to a tradition taught to me by my forbearers. Ever since the fall, I have seen countless victims suffer from the aroma. The most powerful hex it casts on my brothers and sisters is that it makes them reject moral ethics and law.  

MILLENNIAL WRITERS, WELCOME TO THE NEW AGE

  Image: New Orleans     Published, 2016

Image: New Orleans

Published, 2016

 

"I've known rivers: I've known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins. My soul has grown deep like the rivers."- Langston Hughes

 The world has undergone a cultural shift that has opened the masses to a wider spectrum of art. It wasn't that long when being creative was seen as a disappointment. I remember when I used to walk the halls of a rural Alabama high school, football was and still is life there, and I never seemed to fit in. That was seven years ago, and that once scrawny gamer with zero athletic skills is now a much bigger non-athletic writer. Our society and societal views of today have not only changed me but every writer that has the gull to pick up the pen. The world is changing, and as the new generation of writer, we have to acknowledge that change to help everyone see with clear eyes, the future that is different for us all, and the past that gives us wisdom so that the present can be that much greater. The question is, what makes a millennial writer so darn special? 

 I'm in the midst of my mid-twenties and as of late, I've been pondering the thought of how culture has impacted my writing, and most importantly, myself. Every day I interact with over four thousand people on Facebook, a thousand on twitter, eight hundred on Instagram, and two thousand or so on LinkedIn. I have other social media accounts but let's stick with what we have here. Social media has routed the world in a highway that could compare to the Rainbow Bridge (Thor, 2011). We are granted access to peak into the lives of politicians, activists, musicians, actors, doctors, web developers, evangelists, and your ever so popular social media stars. This connection allows us to interact and learn from people, who twenty years ago would not have known what a Kickstarter is, that are not in our personal lives. Technological advancements continue to evolve and reshape society. The advantage this plays on being a writer is that we have numerous resources to gain information and inspiration. I've made friends in Africa and South America. These "pen pals" make my writing so much easier, for when I'm researching about any topic for a book, film, or comic they help me in any way they can, especially if it deals with their culture. 

 As millennials, we are tossed into a fast paced, constantly on the go, society. Everything is given to us in split seconds and then it is gone, at least until someone retweets it. Creative influences strike us like thunderbolts, each one leaving us scarred with a new idea that has the possibility to change lives. I'm a sucker for Kindle and how my digital library grows by the day. Today, everything is either digital or readily available in some way.

To be clear, being a writer in this century has its ups and downs. One of the downs is that it is harder to gain good readership or even to find a literary agent/editor. Everyone can be a "writer" today, all they have to do is start a blog and then not commit. The writing industry is pack with aspiring writers that don't take the craft seriously. It makes it difficult for those that want to become published, those that want to be professional writers. But as for the upside, there are endless venues to explore to fill one's original pallet. I for one enjoy taking pictures of my travels. I use a Canon T3i, a standard filmmaker camera, and it lets me relive those moments. I incorporate these places in my stories, such as in my short story series, Drinks on Me, which focuses on Downtown LA's nightlife. I'm able to see and experience what those around me are going through as I observe my surroundings, and begin the storytelling process. Writing for me is the expression of my faith and the screams that bang on the intangible fabric of my soul.

A STORYTELLER'S VOICE

  Image: New Orleans    Published, 2017

Image: New Orleans

Published, 2017

 

There are so many layers to writing a book, novel, comic, short story, or blog for updating purposes. Each consists of its quirks and structure to give an understandable and easy read. Readers are pulled into stories by the plot and themes laid throughout the storytelling process. Today I’m here to tell you about one of the most important parts, the spirit the intrigues readers and immerses them in your story, the voice of a story.

What’s voice? Well, the voice is a person’s unique way of forming words and the emotion that follows them. In real life, you can tell who is talking by the way they enunciate. In stories, the way the author/writer forms sentences, and paragraphs that accompany the three act structure are the definition of voice. The voice, or, Storyteller’s Voice, is the writer’s autograph, their Instagram handle, or their personal hashtag if you will. The mighty vocals that stretch through a manuscript can be heard from even the hard of hearers if one has perfected this skill. It is because the voice connects the author, the story, and the reader in a complimentary relationship that causes the reader and even the writer to forget that what they are either writing or reading is story. A fictitious character will be alive, breathing from the exposition to the rising action, all the way to climax, leaving the reader yearning to make it over the hill to see how the tale ends.

Bringing out your individual voice isn’t as easy as some may think, in fact, a lot of people fail. You know those stale or generic books and films that have no enthusiasm, creativity, or liveliness to them? Yeah, those are the ones that lack the writer’s voice. During the 1950-60s, the world of literature had phenomenal authors who place their distinctive fingerprints on their novels. C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, William Faulkner, Dr. Seuss, and Harper Lee set the bar of instilling spirit in storytelling. When I read them, I feel as though I am at a campfire with one of the shamans of old, being enthralled by the story they are telling. Storytelling is as much spiritual as much as it is intellectual, and as a writer, you must support both.

I was in a situation during a reading of my manuscript for WWOAH (World Without A Home): Vol.2 that had me distraught. My project manager and fellow author/creative writer, Damien T. Taylor, told me that he did not feel my story, that it did not have a unique tone that was able to pull him in. If you didn’t know, all writers are sensitive about their work, and so I went through of series of self-critiquing until I thought of the best idea possible, ask for guidance. I contacted Troy Denning, Star Wars & Halo Author, about my plight. He was nice enough to give me great advice and referred to me a great book, which I call the Golden Ticket that is called Story, written by Robert Mckee aka “The Master of Film.” I’m also a screenwriter, so this book was needed even more. As soon I went through the pages about archetypes over stereotypes I was captivated immediately by the things I did not know; how young writers love to be individuals and deny traditional structure even though they don’t have an understanding of how writing works, or how a writer that has something to share rather than to flaunt will ultimately be successful are only a crumb of the wisdom I’ve acquired. Whether if it is narrative or film, a story is universally the most influential art form, so it deserves your best work and respect.

Some ways you can improve your voice is to read the classic stories from writers and even films that set the bar. Practicing different styles to strengthen your own will not only make you a powerful writer but also strengthen your knowledge and confidence. Last but not least, have a critique partner to build you up or give you the honest truth. Have faith in yourself and your voice, if you don’t, I’m sure I won’t hear anything about your work for a while.