Finding Sanctuary Cover Reveal

Reposted from Field Order Press.com

My debut novel, Finding Sanctuary, started out as a writing assignment for grad school. What later became my first chapter was a hastily written draft that I snatched off the printer minutes before I had to make the commute to DC for class. I didn’t give much thought to my characters or the setting I placed them in, let alone the tone or cadence of my writing. The following week, my professor handed back my writing assignment and asked to see me after class. I just knew she was going to tell me that my assignment was garbage, and that I would have to redo it.

I was wrong.

“Your characters and this scene are so vivid,” my professor said. “I was reading this wanting more.” (You could have bought me for a penny.) “This is your thesis,” she told me. I couldn’t fathom it. I was barely halfway through the master’s program at Johns Hopkins University, and my thesis was the furthest thing from my mind.

I left class that night imagining the possibilities for the characters and world I hastily created. Eventually, Finding Sanctuary sprang to life. It wasn’t instant. It took time to cultivate the essence of the story, but when I finally hit that writing sweet spot, I could see everything — from the beginning to the end of the story and all that was in between — so clearly.

Well, almost everything.

Envisioning what I wanted the cover of Finding Sanctuary to look like was much more difficult than I thought it would be. I bounced around some ideas with CP Patrick and the Field Order Press team, grateful that they gave me the latitude to come up with ideas. “It’s your book baby,” CP Patrick told me in one of our many phone conversations. “Take your time. Have fun with the process. You’ll know your cover when you see it.”

I tossed around a couple of ideas, but I was fixated on having some sort of artistic rendering of the distinctive row homes in South Baltimore, where much of Finding Sanctuary takes place. When we had our first concept call with Molaundo Jones of The Clever Agency, I mentioned a couple of ideas, one of them being a map of historic South Baltimore. I also considered the mid-Atlantic region as the story spans between Virginia and Maryland.

Molaundo was very thorough and patient during our concept call, listening to me as I vacillated between row homes and maps. It took CP nudging me before I even mentioned the third idea I had. Since Finding Sanctuary tells the story of three generations of women, I thought that could be a concept to consider for an alternate cover image, albeit far-fetched.

When Molaundo sent the renderings of the cover concepts we pitched, the concept I thought had the least potential was the one that took my breath away. As CP had told me – I’d know my cover when I saw it. And I did. Silhouettes of the three different generations of women, each a different shade of brown against an endless blue background — that was the cover I wanted for Finding Sanctuary. I couldn’t stop staring at it. These characters that I didn’t give much thought to in the beginning seemed to come to life in the drawing. Especially Ella, the woman holding the baby. The women that I birthed on the page and introduced to Molaundo only by way of synopsis, were exactly as I had envisioned them. Molaundo and his team even nailed it with the positioning of the women on the cover. Where and how the two women stand bears significance readers will understand when they read Finding Sanctuary.

Seeing the cover of Finding Sanctuary was a very surreal, emotional moment that marked an important milestone in this journey. It’s humbling to have a team of talented people who are so invested in my story. I’m ever so grateful to CP Patrick and Molaundo for shepherding me through the cover design process. I couldn’t be more proud of the finished product.

Finding Sanctuary will debut this fall. I hope readers will love the cover and novel as much as I do!

Cicada Files Archives: May 25, 2004

Pure Terror

Tuesday, May 25, 2004 @ 2:05 PM

Today I am in tears.  I have to go to the store to run a few last-minute errands before I leave for Nassau tomorrow, and the cicadas are out in my neighborhood in full force.  I am too afraid to go outside.  There are literally dozens of cicadas flying into and out of the tree in my front yard.  One cicada is perched outside of one of my front windows screeching; another one is clinging to my bedroom window screen.  I am so afraid that if I go outside something’s going to land on me, or in my hair.

I just took a look outside my window again, and they’re still busy flying about.  I shudder to think what I may find if I open my door.  A couple of cicadas landed on my car to pay their respects to their dead comrade who’s still stuck in my windshield wiper.

Everyone keeps talking about the cicadas reaching their peak next week.  I cannot believe that all of this activity is just a prelude to even more heavy cicada traffic.

I just heard another male screeching in the window right where I am now.  Ugh.  I think the cicadas are getting back at me for my anti-cicada journal, and have decided to set up a protest and picket line around my house.  Who’s been leaking my journal to the cicadas?

Book Recommendation: THE TRUTH ABOUT AWITI

Muse

aWITI

“[I]f one believes–or at a minimum has a bit of curiosity–regarding the connection between the mind, body, and spirit, specifically as it relates to traumatic experiences, the theory of spiritual retribution is difficult to ignore.” C. P. Patrick

Publisher Synopsis:

There is a commonly held belief the tropical storms and hurricanes that form off the coast of West Africa are not natural disasters, but rather they are retaliation by restless spirits impacted by one of the darkest chapters of world history—the trans–Atlantic slave trade.

Awiti’s destiny was forever changed the day the slave raiders arrived at her village. She made a life-altering decision with the hope of being reunited with her family, only to discover her effort was in vain. For centuries, her sadness raged within the winds and rain, resulting in tropical storms that devastated the South. But there is more to Awiti than creating hurricanes, as those who…

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“The Four Jesuses” Reading Postponed

4J Postponed

It all started out beautifully.

I submitted my two-act play, The Four Jesuses, to the DCBTF earlier this year. I was delighted to learn that the DCBTF chose my little play to be in the DCBTF’s 2015 New Works Reading Series! Being a first-time playwright, I was excited to have the opportunity to share my work with the theatre community.

I have been writing all my life. Poems, short stories, essays…you name it, I’ve written it. Writing a play has been something that I’ve wanted to do for some time, and finally I had.

The process of putting on a play is new to me. I was looking forward to learning about auditioning, the workshop process and what it takes to produce a play. I was excited, energized and inspired.

That was a few months ago.

Over the past few months, I have been on a roller coaster ride with this festival. My flier, logo and other promotional materials never made it onto the festival website, and no one could confirm for me the actual start time for my reading. There’s so much more I could say, and so much more proof of the foolery and ninja nonsense I have had to deal with, but I won’t get into that. I am trying to temper my words and not lay blame, but it’s hard, especially when my reputation — which is vested in this — is at stake.

Everything started to unravel at warp speed yesterday when I went to the venue for a site visit. The RISE Demonstration Center’s facilities staff advised me that they did not have a signed contract from the festival organizers, even though my fellow playwrights and I were given a schedule of dates and times for our readings. The Executive Director of the Center called me, very apologetic, and told me that without a signed contract from the festival organizers, they could not allow us to use the facilities. She graciously offered to allow us to use the outdoor pavilion instead. However, there were four readings scheduled for the same two-hour time slot on Sunday, and they’re calling for rain. So multiple readings taking place in the outdoor pavilion in the evening…in the rain? There are too many things that could go wrong with that scenario. According to some playwrights, they have gotten word from the organizers that everything’s a go for Sunday. As of this writing, I, personally, have not received such confirmation.

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The past 18 hours have been the most stressful and disappointing in my life. Multiple attempts to contact festival organizers have yielded nothing. And thus, after talking to my talented and supportive cast, I have decided to postpone my reading. I do not want to put anyone in any sort of physical, legal or other kind of jeopardy. I am working on scheduling an independent reading, and as soon as I have preliminary logistics locked down, I will let you all know.

I thank all of my family, friends, colleagues, fellow writers and my new friends in the DMV theater community for their love, encouragement and support. To Tawanza Anthony, Johnnie Leon Hill, Rikki Lacewell Howie, Melanie Burwell, Teneisha Brown, Quentin Briscoe and Albert Prater Jr.: Thank you for believing in me and my play to want to invest in my dream. I am humbled by your talent, dedication and support.

To quote a line from The Four Jesuses Program that I now will not be handing out tomorrow, “The late Dr. Maya Angelou once said ‘Try to be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.’ Thank you for being rainbows in my life, and for brightening my path in so many beautiful and delightful ways.”

Inspirational Quote…

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and I could say “I used everything you gave me.”

Erma Bombeck

Of Movies & Memoirs

It’s been a couple of months since I last posted to my blog. I apologize to my five — no, four — faithful subscribers for being out of the loop. But you know how life gets in the way of our best intentions.

I have a couple of writing projects in the works right now. so I am rather excited about them. I’m slowly easing myself back into the novel I started working on for my thesis at Hopkins. Truth be told, in order to get it done in earnest, I’m going to have to clear my slate and fully immerse myself in the writing process. More on that later.

I also have had the honor and privilege of helping out a couple of my talented friends on their creative projects recently. Matt Bowden, my friend and classmate from the Writing Program at JHU, is working on a documentary on The Crown Seekers, a New Orleans gospel quartet group. Back in March, Matt and the producers held a screening for the project, By and By: New Orleans Gospel at the Crossroads at Maisy’s in downtown Baltimore. (Remind me to tell you about Maisy’s pizza later.) Matt solicited feedback from those of us in attendance. Of course I was so fascinated by the whole thing — the music, the filmmaking process and all — that I churned out a four-page dissertation. I grew up listening to gospel music, and have such an affinity for and appreciation of the genre. Matt’s work on this project is phenomenal. I cannot wait for the movie to come out. Click the link below to check out the trailer for the film and as well as a special message from the film’s creators Matt Bowden and Joe Compton:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/byandby/by-and-by-new-orleans-gospel-at-the-crossroads/widget/video.html

Then there is the new memoir written by my friend and Twitter brother, Clay Rivers, I was humbled when Clay asked me to be a part of the editing process. Clay is a gifted writer and has an amazing story to share. I am so proud of him for taking the plunge into the waters of self-publishing. Clay is releasing his book Walking Tall: A Memoir on the Upside of Small and Other Stuff, and I must say it is a fantastic, page-turning must-read.

And in other news, I recently started writing for MadameNoire.com, and my first piece, “What’s Better for Your Hair? Hot Comb vs. Flat Iron” went up last week. This week I’m working on three more pieces for MadameNoire.com, including a couple of celebrity interviews. Stay tuned…