Dr. Wale Ajao shares his inspiration for the illustration in Adunni Dares to Dream

“Adunni Dares to Dream” is a story about a young girl who grew up poor in the village in a time when expectations were different for girls than from boys. Girls were (and in many places still are) expected to help in the home or on the farm and learn to become a mother and homemaker someday. They simply were not a priority when it came to formal education. It was rare for girls to develop a determination to break those gender barriers, even more so for a girl in a poor family. This is what makes Adunni’s journey very compelling.

This is my first time illustrating a book for this age range so, naturally, I assumed the book would have to be colorful, clear/clean/crisp, and easy for a child to digest what’s going on.

In hindsight, I may have been wrong but that was the summary of my strategy.

I harked back to my college days when I was in charge of the art department in our student fellowship. We used to make a lot of posters using cardboard cutouts. I’d make a sketch of the illustration and then figure out what colors of cardboard we would use, and then cut them accordingly.

Using Adobe Illustrator to digitally make the basic shapes really brings back those memories. Each illustration was to look as if it was made out of cardboard cutouts but I couldn’t resist adding a little bit of realism (a shadow here, a gradient there, and a bevel here) which I believe gives it a unique look even if that strict cardboard look is missing (meh…maybe on my next book).

Again, the idea was to use simple shapes with fine gradient colors and a hint of caricature here and there. I hoped the real kicker would be the use of patterns. Nigerian attire is very rich with patterns and instead of highly detailed backgrounds, we have patterns. Some of the patterns in the attires are based on real cloth patterns. If you look at the photo of young adult Adunni, you will see that the pattern on her dress was applied to the illustration of Adunni. I hope this blends well with the touching story Taiwo wrote and the decision to include some of the original language.

Overall it’s been an eye-opening collaborative experience all the way. And we are proud to announce the birth of this book which is our first-born baby as it were. Like a real baby, it takes a village to raise it and this book has been no exception.

We hope you love it…er…her, and she grows into the phenomenon that the inspiration for her truly is. We’ve seen that phenomenal inspiration in action and we hope you do to.

Talk About It Thursday: My First Book Launch by Leslie R. Weeks

MY FIRST BOOK LAUNCH          

          

While preparing this blog caption I remembered back, to when I was a child.  I remembered when my first story came into fruition.  Although I didn’t have any siblings, I kept myself busy by playing with my array of dolls, making my dolls clothes and writing short stories.  I enjoyed writing, because I had to use my imagination. Since I was an only child I had a lot of time to think and analyze things. I put a lot of thought into my writing.  Even so, after writing and reading my short stories, I would either fold the papers and stick them in my desk drawer, or toss them in the garbage.  I never shared them with anyone.

As an adult, I continue to use my imagination while writing. It’s relaxing for me to write and act out each character’s emotions.

About three years ago, I wrote an inspirational novel entitled, Behind My Smile, about three long time girlfriends.  I thought long and hard about how much I wanted to inspire my readers. I wanted to give someone hope about a hopeless situation.  I wanted to let my readers know that they were not alone facing challenging issues. 

The Journey to get published- One day a lady and I were casually talking about things we like to do. I mentioned that I had a 500 page manuscript that I had a desire to get in book form, and published. She informed me that she knew a book publisher. That was a streak of hope going in the right direction. The news excited me. We exchanged contact information and the next day I contacted the publisher. Fortunately, the publisher lived in the same city I lived in. Shortly after, we set up a meeting with the editor.  It was an exciting experience for me to go through the publishing process.  I felt very much involved during the process.  I described how I wanted my book cover to look.  The publisher was able to locate a picture that was very close to my description and perfect for my cover. I proof read my final copy about three times.  The process took about three months to complete, which included getting the book registered with Amazon and Kindle.   When I finally received that long awaited phone call from the publisher that my books had arrived, I was so excited.  The next day, I held my book in my hand. I was so proud. I was excited to see my name on the cover, and my words on the inside of the book.

About a month later, I had my first book signing.  My publisher was kind enough to suggest a nice location in the area to have my book signing. The room was beautifully decorated, and light food and drinks were served. Family, friends and church members attended.  I felt very special when my girlfriend of twenty years and her husband, traveled from Georgia to celebrate with me. I read a few excerpts from my book and offered a Q&A after.

I feel so good when I tell readers about my book. I get a lot of admiration about being an author. People feel that writing a book is a big accomplishment and they are always eager to have me sign my book for them.

I encourage anyone who feels the motivation to write a story to just do it!

Blessings to your future endeavors!

 Leslie R. Weeks has been a regular writer for company newsletters and was chosen to write a movie critique column. She has written several published honeymoon excursion articles and has also written book critique articles for a Christian-based magazine.

Though born and raised in New York, Weeks currently resides in North Carolina with her husband and children. Her favorite pastimes include traveling and baking from scratch. She gives all honor and praise to the God of the Bible. Follow Leslies on Twitter @LeeLeeJTM

A Letter to My Readers: Wonderful Readers by Suzette D. Harrison

Hello Dear Readers:

Have I told you lately that I appreciate you? Shame on me if I haven’t, because I absolutely do!

You are a divine force gracing my life for our collective good. I’m honored to serve you my writing. You honor me when indulging in the offering and granting me your honesty. You mince no words when telling me your truth. You did, you didn’t like what I brought to the table? Whatever your truth, I learn from you even as you receive me. I love being enlightened by your perspective and point of view. Iron sharpens iron. Talk about sweet synergy!

I’ve been blessed to meet many of you, Dear Readers, not merely through the mutual indulgence of my work, but often face-to-face at book events or signings. Now, that is a thrill for me! Then there are my beautiful social media queens and kings with whom, through social media, I interface daily. We’ve shared laughs, and tears. You make me think. You encourage me to be a better me. I like my readers, really and truly. You are my beloved community.

There have been days when my joy was running low, and God used you to bring rainbows. An email. A tweet. A Facebook post for me. Your kind and supportive words are sweet fuel and fire. They reignite and inspire. You are replenishing.

I believe, Dear Ones, in reciprocity. The social media games we’ve played, complete with prizes, are my simple way of expressing appreciation. My monthly “Readers’ Row” feature is my opportunity to highlight readers who’ve impacted this here life. These little ways of giving back are pure delights that make my heart bright. I pray they’re well received, for they’re meant as simple but genuine blessings.

I’ve said it often, I’ll say it again. Precious Readers, you are the backbone of the literary community. Without wonderful readers, my works would sit somewhere lonely and unnoticed, collecting dust on a shelf. And I’d be crying in a corner ready to eat dirt and worms. Thank you for allowing my written works into your world, for sharing your time with them and with me. Thank you for embracing my characters and their crazy offerings, their strengths and their frailties. For connecting with those crazy characters so much that you felt inspired to write a review, my ‘thank you’ seems too simplistic. Yet, I truly do!

So, Dear Reader, this here author is determined to give you more, to give you good, to give you better than I gave before. Writing is a gift. Writing is both beautiful honor and joy. Me? I’m a work in progress. Daily growing and learning. But I’m a tenacious kind of woman, and I promise you I won’t give up. I’ll keep honing and stretching, sharpening and polishing this gift until it brightly shines. As God gives it to me, I’ll give it right back to you. Our author-reader relationship is precious. I pray, for you, it’s refreshing. I’m dedicated to writing. Stay dedicated to reading. We’re loving literature together. And that there is more than mighty good!

Peace & blessings,

Suzette

Suzette D. Harrison, a native Californian and the middle of three daughters, grew up in a home where reading was required, not requested. Her literary “career” began in junior high school with the publishing of her poetry. While Mrs. Harrison pays homage to Alex Haley, Gloria Naylor, Alice Walker, Langston Hughes, and Toni Morrison as legends who inspired her creativity, it was Dr. Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings that unleashed her writing. The award-winning author of Taffy is a wife and mother who holds a culinary degree in Pastry & Baking. Mrs. Harrison is busy cooking up her next novel…in between batches of cookies. Learn more about Suzette D. Harrison and her work at www.sdhbooks.com.

My Character Twin with M. C. Walker

My Character Twin

Who is Monica Charles? Monica Charles is a single thirty-something outspoken, free spirited, ambitious, and a bit eccentric modern day woman. Monica creates her own rules and follows her gut instinct. I’m still learning to trust my gut and break only a few rules. When I wrote the novel One More Thing. I wanted to create a female character that a variety of women could relate to in modern society. She fun and youthful, she has an identity of her own and people will be able to who she is and whom she is becoming as a woman. It was important for me to have Monica to be relatable not just physical characteristics, also in substance. I didn’t want a one-dimensional story of just two lovers rekindling a romance. I wanted to explore the layers of their lives. A lot of times in fiction we meet these perfected characters with presumably good lives that are faced with real world dilemma’s. I don’t think readers always want that perfect life on the page. They want messy, complicated, and real characters who are still trying to figure it out one day at a time. I know I am and so is Monica.

It was my intention to make Monica ugly beautiful. Stunningly beautiful on the outside and a bit of a puzzle on the inside. Like, me she is slow to open and express her true feelings until she is comfortable. Monica is a complex young woman with big dreams. She readily expresses herself through dance or creative expression via body art. Although we live in a society where tattoos are common. Not everyone is receptive to people with piercings and tattoos. Monica and I are twins at the core. She is a hopeless romantic, not in a prince charming way. However, her spirituality centers her and allows her to believe that love is a possibility. It’s not an elusive creature that we pursue aimlessly throughout our lives. Love is possible at any age.

I am very ambitious and stubborn about my goals. For a long time, I felt like I needed confirmation from those around me to pursue my dreams. When all along my confirmation was inside of me. Monica doesn’t care what people think or say, she follows her gut. Her gut is never wrong. I believe we all have a gift and it deserves to be shared amongst the world. Monica has always dreamed of being a dancer since childhood. I wanted to give her a dream that is not only realistic, yet challenging on many levels. I wanted to create a character that believes in creative expression. The arts are very near and dear to my heart and I’m all about living purposefully. Monica and I are twins when it comes to matters of the heart the most. I am a giver in the relationship. I give all of me to my partner until there is nothing left. Monica is a little bit more guarded with her heart, yet she doesn’t give it away easily. Once she’s in sync with her partner there is no turning back. We both share the desire to take a risk and allow love to open endless doors of possibilities. Do I believe you can have more than one love in your lifetime? Of course. Monica and I are both strong women whom are on a journey of self-discovery and love. Every year of our lives will demand a different version of ourselves and it’s up to us to meet or exceed our own expectations. Live out loud unapologetically.

M. C. Walker is a native of Atlanta, Georgia who at a young age was always nestled in a corner reading a book or at a local bookstore. She is an author, publisher, blogger and ghostwriter. Walker released her debut novel One  More Thing on March 31, 2017. Learn more about M.C. Walker and her work at www.mcwalkerwrites.com.