According to USA Today's Best Selling Books List of 2018, Michelle Obama's, "Becoming" is ranked number one in a list of 100! Now my question is, are you really surprised? Many times, this list is filled with fiction reads but this memoir of our former FLOTUS stood out amongst the crowd and is has even remained #1 on Amazon since the book debuted in November 2018.
Now I must admit, I enjoyed some of that success as well as my first novel, Discovering Lita literally debuted just a week earlier on Amazon. With Black Friday sales on the horizon and Christmas season fastly approaching, "Becoming" was on many people's shopping list. How I benefitted from this was while my readership shopped for Discovering Lita, many of them bought "Becoming" as well which increased the likelihood of those unfamiliar with my work seeing it under the infamous title "Customers who bought this item also bought"... The end result was the former FLOTUS' book popping up in on my book's page. That was a pretty cool victory in my eyes.
But what's even cooler is that my dad, gifted me with "Becoming" and in my opinion, it was a very pleasant read. I didn't have specific expectations for the book, but what I found most interesting was her detailed description of her road to the White House which really started from childhood. "Becoming" was not a short read but it's length is very necessary in understanding the Michelle Obama we are familiar with today.
"Becoming" also made me think of my own story and as an African American woman who grew up on the South Side of Chicago from humble beginnings as well. I did not experience the consistency of a two parent household with a stay-home mom per se, but I can relate to the love of family that carried us through while growing up in the inner city with limited resources and opportunities in comparison to our Caucasian counterparts. But that's what makes this book so unique is because even with all of the odds stacked against Mrs. Obama, she still managed to become one of the most famous and admired women in America.
So I looked at this picture of myself the other day when I was a little girl saying my Easter speech at church and I started thinking about the "Becoming" journey I've been on my entire life. This picture speaks volumes to me as it is a reminder of where it all began. For those of you who read "Becoming" did the book make you think of your own personal journey?
Circa 1988 with my mommy on Easter Sunday
November 7th is the official launch of Discovering Lita and I'm extremely excited but also humbled by the feedback I have received from all of you so far!
To show my appreciation, if you purchase a paperback copy of Discovering Lita between November 7th and Saturday, November 10th by 11:59pm CST, you will be entered into a random drawing to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card on me! This is exclusive to my mailing list ONLY. You can join my mailing list here.
Once you make your purchase, please email the following information to firstname.lastname@example.org:
1. First and last name
2. A forwarded email or screenshot of your receipt that indicates the date you purchased Discovering Lita (feel free to block out your address and/or any identifying information that you may feel uncomfortable sharing)
3. Email address (you will receive your e-gift card via email for you to use instantly if you want)
I will announce the winner on Sunday, November 11, 2018 no later than 1pm CST via my email list and social media pages (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram).
Thanks again everyone and happy reading!!!
I can't even begin to describe how much fun we had at the Ladies Night Pajama Jam at the Hyatt Midway Hotel in Chicago this past Friday! When you get amazing women, PJs, music, a buffet dinner, open bar, manicures and pedicures, massages, line dancing and sex toys together, you're bound to have a wonderful night. And to show my appreciation to all the beautiful women there, I gifted them with the first full chapter of my book, Discovering Lita! If you missed it, well I won't sugarcoat it, you really missed a great evening. But not to worry, here are a few images from the event. And be sure to follow me on my social media handles to see video footage!
I believe there's a connection between writing women's fiction and self care. I focus a lot on women making themselves a priority through my writing; whether it's a novel, marketing and advertising and/or public speaking. Whenever I read women's fiction, I find there's an underlying premise: said woman is typically trying to find some sense of balance that results in her either limiting herself or coming to the realization that she needs to prioritize herself. Unfortunately, women have played second fiddle to men for centuries and we've come to a point in history where many women are no longer accepting this as status quo. Women are demanding more pay, demanding more respect from family and friends and no longer feeling the need to be treated as objects of a man's desires, starting and successfully running businesses, and just treating themselves to the necessities as well as luxuries of life instead of waiting for someone to give them permission.
You don't have to be angry or trying to prove a point in making yourself a priority, you can just do it because you have every right to and trust me, you become a better person for it. One thing I've recently done in making myself a priority is being more cognizant of my food choices and actually signing up with a personal trainer. Before taking on this fitness challenge, I had been working out consistently for 3-4 days a week but not really eating the best so I decided to do something about it. I make time for it in my schedule and I make sure that my family is aware of my goals and respect them due to me giving so much of myself. Just in one week, I lost 5lbs and gained muscle, whoo hoo!. Nothing compares to witnessing what self-care can do.
What will you do to make yourself a priority today, this week, this month or this year? Trust me, when you prioritize YOU, everyone around you is better for it!
So... since I write women's fiction and the majority of my followers are women, I thought it would be befitting to share with you my top 5 reasons you might need a girls night out ASAP!
1. You need a night to just eat and drink as much as you want with no judgment.
2. You need a break from everyone and everything that's pulling at you like work, kids, significant other, siblings, parents, in-laws, bills, you name it!
3. You need to connect with other women you can be yourself around and no one is sizing you up and down comparing themselves to you.
4. You need to enjoy being a woman and embrace the things that are of interest to you.
5. You need to just act a fool and dance like no one is watching!
So, join me and some phenomenal ladies at the hottest ladies night of the year and purchase your tickets here.
So much has been going on! I know I mentioned before in my blog that an agent has taken a liking into my work and asked if I would be interested in doing a R&R (Revise and Resubmit) of my manuscript. For those that aren't familiar with this phrase, this can surely be music to a novelist's ears as it speaks volumes as to how much an agent sees potential in your work and how they feel it can be marketed to the masses. This is not typically a guarantee of representation but it surely lets you know you're on the right track.
Over the past three weeks, I have been diligently working on my manuscript per the agent's suggestions along with diving a little deeper to see what I could also tweak to make this story even stronger. It's not always the easiest thing to finalize your revisions as you're always thinking is there anything else I could add or take away. But, I am trusting the changes that I've made as I believe it will be something my readers will enjoy and relate to.
So to treat myself for finishing a few days earlier than I anticipated, I enjoyed a fun-filled weekend with family and friends. I had an opportunity to visit the set of Windy City Live right here in Chicago. And yes, Ryan Chiaverini and Val Warner are just as beautiful in person as they are on camera :). I also had an opportunity to participate in a book discussion with the beautiful and talented, Tayari Jones, author of American Marriage and Oprah's Book Club 2018 Selection. I was so blessed to enjoy some live music not once, but twice this week! And anyone that knows me, knows I enjoy live music so that was truly a treat. I capped off my weekend spending time with my love on a gorgeous yacht sailing Lake Michigan. So I took to heart the saying, "Work Hard, Play Harder."
So much has been going on with me this summer. I'm in the process of trying to publish a book, my family and I moved back to the city from the suburbs, I'm making sure everything is in order for my kids as they will be transferring to a new school this fall, and let's not forget the everyday maintenance of my own sanity. But the beauty in all of this is just watching my kids enjoy their summer and most importantly, their childhood.
My daughter said she wanted to attend a dance and theater camp this summer and because I believe in nurturing my children's creativity, I quickly agreed. Even though she's gone practically the entire day and I so miss her, I know it makes he happy doing what she loves and continuously honing her craft. My son is not in camp, but he too is enjoying all of what the summer has to offer like going to the beach, playing with his cousin more often, going to the museum, frequenting the library, and attending festivals and events.
I remember my summers as they were fun as well. My mom was a teacher so she didn't have to work during those glorious months from June until September which allowed her to take us plenty of places. We were also very active in our church so we went on many trips in which our church sponsored. I remember being carefree and no longer worrying about getting up in the mornings and preparing for school. Everyday was a new adventure and I see that with my own children. What are some of your summer time childhood memories?
Do you know what's so cool about being a women's fiction writer? I get to host cool events like this and ladies, this is just for you! I'm talking about great food, open bar ALL night, vendors, adult novelties, great music and dancing, PJs and an overnight stay in the amazing Hyatt Place Midway Airport Hotel in Chicago! Purchase your early bird ticket by this Friday, July 6th and get $15 off! All attendees will get an exclusive first chapter of my upcoming novel, Discovering Lita and early bird ticket holders will get an amazing gift bag stocked with goodies! I can't wait to hang with you ladies! Click here to purchase.
Hey you guys! I've been really excited to share with you my experience at the Writing Workshop of Chicago that took place this past Saturday, June 23, 2018 at the Congress Plaza Hotel in Chicago. First, I will begin by saying this writing workshop is a great experience for novice writers like myself but also experienced writers who are looking to hone in on their skills, meet new people, make valuable connections, stay abreast on an ever-changing industry and also get feedback from veteran writers.
I'll rewind so that I may give a recap for those who are new to my site. I've always enjoyed writing and reading and for as long as I can remember, people have always told me I should write a book. Well, not to say I didn't believe in myself, I just never gave it a second thought. I've always enjoyed writing for the fun of it and a way to share my thoughts and feelings in a safe space. I've explored so many other creative outlets in my life and for some reason, writing a book just wasn't one of them. Well, about two years ago, a psychic told me he saw some major writing in my future. We'll get on the topic of me meeting with psychics another day but even when he told me that, I guess I didn't take it too seriously because I was thinking, well, the email I sent him to inquire about his services was probably just well written and he wanted to appear being good at his job, lol. Anywho, last August, I literally woke up one day, and it hit me like a ton of bricks, "Angie, it is time to write a book", and I literally pulled out my computer and started writing that day. I even knew exactly what I wanted my book to be about and I think what really sparked this new venture of mine was for two years, I unplugged from social media, I unplugged from going to a lot of events, I unplugged from constantly being busy and I just basked in that time by myself and time with close family and friends. I ventured into some DIY projects and shopping at thrift stores became my favorite past time. This time allowed me to be in the present moment and it's amazing what can happen when you're fully present showing up for life everyday, hence how I became aligned with writing this book.
Now that you have some backstory, we can dive into this writing workshop. Being in the present moment has allowed me to work in tandem with life and not against it so when thoughts and ideas come to me, I let it guide me and I flow with it. So like I said, I started writing my book in August and I finished the first draft in April. Even with taking some breaks in between, I continued to stay inspired. During this time, I began searching for writing groups so that I may learn more about the world of writing, gain feedback and "find my tribe" so to speak. I'm no stranger to attending conferences and workshops so I researched writing conferences and immediately, I stumbled across this particular writing workshop that I attended this past Saturday. For some reason, I thought I would have to purchase a plane ticket somewhere but thankfully, this one was in Chicago! It was the beginning of April at the time and my manuscript was about 80% complete and the workshop was scheduled for June. This was perfect because it gave me time to finish the manuscript and actually have it edited by then. I didn't think too long about attending the workshop because I didn't want to talk myself out of it. I was in the present moment and I felt this workshop revealed itself to me for a reason so I purchased my ticket which gave me motivation to get everything in order by June.
Fast forward to the day of the workshop, manuscript is completed and edited, I now have a book cover, website, and social media pages. Oh, I was ready. I've had some experience in owning a business for five years so I took everything I'd learned about business and applied it here but I continuously did my research on what to expect while attending a workshop such as this. I brushed up on my knowledge of pursuing self-publishing as well as traditional publishing routes, what questions to ask, and how to gain the most out of my experience because I really wanted to get my monies worth and I was extremely serious about the craft.
I arrived about thirty minutes early just to make sure I had enough time to check in, scope out the conference rooms and take care of any last minute necessities such as going to the bathroom, lol. I would advise when attending these conferences, always bring a sweater as typically the rooms are chilly and one thing I decided to do was actually bring a lunch instead of going out to lunch. I'm so happy I did that because the time it would've taken to walk to a restaurant, wait in line and wait for my order would've taken up my time. In addition, I met with an agent for about ten minutes during that time and I probably would not have had that opportunity if I was trying to find something to eat. I also did some posting on social media during this time to keep my followers up to speed on what was taking place. This is all apart of your marketing and branding and should definitely be a priority when you're trying to carve out a name for yourself and what you do.
When attending a writing workshop, typically you will be informed of various authors, agents and editors that will be in attendance before hand. As the attendee, you have an opportunity to meet with agents to pitch your fiction book if it's completed or pitch your idea if you're in the middle of writing a non-fiction piece. There are also opportunities to get critiques on query letters and the first ten pages of your manuscript. Now, these add-ons do come with a cost but you'd be surprised, it does not carry a hefty price tag. At this particular workshop, a 10-minute pitch with an agent costs $29, in-depth critiques of 1-page query letters were $69 and in-depth critiques of the first ten pages of a manuscript was $79. I decided to go with pitching the agents. I already had a finished manuscript of over 80,000 words, I was in the midst of building my social media following and mailing list, and I had a book cover so I decided to take a stab at pitching an agent. I've never queried an agent before seeing this is my first book but I'm more inclined to wanting to meet with people in person to "sell" myself so to speak as opposed sending an email. I'd read so many horror stories about people sending query letters for years and either getting turned down or no response at all so I thought this would be a perfect opportunity. I paid to meet with three agents and it was well worth it!
Meeting with agents is so important in my opinion because it gives the writer an opportunity to really show the excitement of the work you've produced and what better way to do that in person. But again, do your due diligence and review each agent's bio, the genre in which they represent and/or looking to represent, know a little bit about the history of the agency in which they come from, know a little bit about the agent's personality and what they like, educate yourself on where the agency is located and if they have local offices in your city/town and be sure to only give them what they ask for. This is not the time to read your synopsis from a piece of paper or try to give them a full manuscript unless they ask for it. Be yourself, have fun and give them a reason to be "wowed" so that the next statement that follows is: "I'd love for you to email me the first 50 pages or your full manuscript." And this is exactly what happened to me. Now I won't say which agent was my favorite, I'll keep that to myself :). But all I can say is we had amazing chemistry and I look forward to connecting with her soon because believe it or not, you as the writer are interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you. Instead of meeting with three agents, I ended up meeting with two and one editor due to one of the agents having a last minute emergency. Again, no reason to panic, meeting with an agent or editor is still an amazing opportunity that doesn't come around too often and it's a good decision to take advantage of that opportunity.
There was also a cool segment during the writing workshop called "Writers Got Talent". If anyone wanted to participate in this part of the workshop, you were to bring 15 copies of the first page of your manuscript and the featured agents on the panel would randomly choose a writer's first page, read it aloud and make critiques. Now due to the overwhelming response, they were unable to read all of the entries of course (which was communicated before hand) but it was still a good experience seeing how an agent reviews a writer's first page and decide within a matter of seconds if they would like to continue reading or not. I submitted my first page and I was really hoping it was chosen due to the fact that one of the editors I was scheduled to meet with was on the panel. I felt that would've been a perfect segue to my pitch but it just wasn't in the cards. Some of the attendees thought the agent's critiques were pretty brutal, but honestly, I didn't. It just reminded me of attending a writers group and how people critique your writing on a regular basis. So I'm thankful for the writing group I'd recently joined as it prepared me for that moment.
So, the end result, was me meeting some amazing up and coming authors as well as established ones, exchanging business cards and other information, and I even received a text from one of the attendees the day after the event. We'll be having coffee soon :). As far as my pitches, believe it or not, two requested the first 50 pages of my manuscript and the other requested my full manuscript! I read that when this happens, this is sort of a big deal in the first phase in getting your foot in the door so I'm running with it. So for being a first time novelist, how do I know all this? Google. Lol, and I am absolutely serious. Everything you need to know is on the world wide web so I make the time to research, do the work and let the stars align. I'm a firm believer I will get this book out there one way or another, it's just a matter of which route I'm going to take and as for now, I'm keeping ALL options on the table and seeing where being in the present moment takes me.
I will be sure to keep you abreast of any callbacks from agents or editors. In the meantime, I will continue to share information about my upcoming novel and what I'll be writing in the future because I really like doing this and I think it's worth it. I believe if you have a story to tell, then tell it. No one can dictate to you whether you should write a book or not and if you decide to write that book and people take notice, then that's an added bonus!
Brian Klems, author of "Oh Boy You're Having A Girl"
He was a special guest instructor with a wealth of knowledge and he always wears pink shirts to his speaking engagements. Can you guess why? :)
I think I've been in a season of facing my fears lately because all of the signs continue to point to me making decisions that are out of my comfort zone. With regards to my recent Father's Day blog entry, I decided to really take inventory of that area of my life and take action.
It's funny how I would see and talk to my father often but still not work up enough nerve to ask him why he never apologized for the past or even express to him how his absence affected me. In my effort to move on and understand my him, I thought I was responding in the most appropriate way by not dredging up the past. But, the interesting thing about trauma or things that rock your foundation to its core is that, no matter how much work you do on yourself, there will always be triggers in your life that will bring those past hurts to the surface. You can either ignore them or face them head on. So after I blogged about Father's Day, it hit me that there was no reason at this point in time to not address my feelings with my dad. We had both grown and our relationship had grown too and there was no need for me to feel rejected or dismissed by my dad. Even if he had exhibited those actions when we talked, I had to prepare myself to release all expectations and desired outcomes and just express what had been bothering me all those years.
Needless to say, our conversation went very well. I think I provided a healthy balance of truth but it was shared in love and thankfully how I felt didn't fall on deaf ears. My dad not only listened to me but he said those two very precious words, "I'm sorry." The reason this was so important to me is because many times when you confront someone about how they've inflicted hurt upon you, it's not always received well and the other party may respond in a way in which they feel they are being attacked. My dad didn't do that at all and in all my life, I never heard so much sincerity in his voice. I felt his love, compassion and his heartfelt apology through the phone and that was all I needed.
So what now? Both of us have agreed to continue to work on our relationship and my dad said he was so appreciative of me being honest with him because he truly didn't know that I still held on to some of that hurt and he apologized for that as well.
Writing has always been my friend and has helped me sort through so many things in my life and this situation was no different. My spirits are up right now because for so long, talking to my dad and reliving the past was a fear of mine, but I'm really glad I conquered that fear and it was just an added bonus that my dad helped ease that fear.