"Read My Lips" is the new initiative began in November 2006 to encourage reading and writing among those both young and old. We want to help feed a passion for the written and spoken word to help individuals continue to mold the future. Want to know how you can be featured? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 601.896.5616.
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Saturday, March 24, 2007
Shadow Play Publications is pleased to announce the return of Conversations Magazine and the release of the first issue of 2007! The April 2007 edition of the Conversations Magazine celebrates the arts like never before, including those making moves with the written and spoken word. Inside you will read interviews with Kristine Mills-Noble, Elissa Gabrielle, Emanuel Xavier, Candice Dow, Bill Holmes, Roz Bailey, Marc Marcel and our feature, HBO Def Poetry Jam Poet C-Bone Jones!
We have also added a new feature to the magazine: our Book Club spotlight. Our interview for this issue is Linda Washington-Johnson, President of the Jackson Mississippi Readers Club.
DON'T WAIT! Get your issue today either by mail or in your inbox. Click on the links to the right of this post.
Monday, March 19, 2007
K. Elliott is the new force to be reckoned with on the urban market.”
—Carl Weber best selling author of Baby Momma Drama, The First Lady and She Ain’t The One
K. Elliott knows life’s about choices. He learned this the hard way. Before self-publishing his first novel Entangled, before moving 50,000 units, before becoming an Essence Magazine bestselling author, Elliott was jailed over a bad choice.
After graduating from High School, the Charlotte, N.C. native attended Central Piedmont Community College. It was 1992 and his life was full of promise. The only problem, Elliott didn’t recognize his own potential. Had he known his true value, maybe he wouldn’t have dropped out. Maybe he’d have resisted the streets and their seductive lure. But to Elliott, the idea of academics didn’t compete with fast earning potential of grinding in the streets. Not understanding he had other choices, he totally immersed him self into the drug game. He found quick success.
K. Elliott’s new hustle proved quite lucrative, placing him on the cusp of living a truly good life. At least that’s what he thought until 1993 when his house was raided by law enforcement. Now under arrest and confined to the Mecklenburg County Jail, the Charlotte native could only helplessly watch as time passed him by. The sudden uncertainties surrounding Elliott left him feeling devastated.
Yet what seemed tragic at first, ended up working to his benefit. The mundane pace of jail life actually gave Elliott a sense of solitude. Everything slowed down. There were no bills to pay, no contacts to make, no car, no home, no girl to love. Stripped away was any notion of material wealth. All that remained was time to think.
So he sized his young adult life up to that point and found it to be a waste. He recalled family members who’d been imprisoned for most of their lives because they wouldn’t stop hustling. Realizing he was following in the footsteps of convicts, Elliott finally learned.
On the outside he appeared to be the same hard-head. On the inside though, he’d had an epiphany. Although Elliott didn’t quite know how he’d make it, he finally recognized his own value. With that he decided, no matter what, he was leaving the drug game behind for good. All he had to do now was wait to see how his charges would pan out. Upon his release, Elliott took a cabinetry job and re-entered Community college with a burning desire find his place in society. He maintained an overall 3.0 G.P.A. and did especially well on writing assignments. He’d, in fact, always enjoyed writing but had never taken it seriously until one day his English professor recognized his talent and encouraged him to pursue a career in that direction.
Bolstered by this encouragement, Elliott made writing his passion. He pursued class-after-class, workshop-after-workshop, honing his craft. Finally in 2001, Elliott put down the hammer and nails for good and harnessed all his training and drive into his first novel. The manuscript received offers from Triple Crown Publications and Kensington Publishing. But Elliott, now older and more experienced, had learned his lesson. Finally understanding his true value, the new author financed his own project. Forming Urban Lifestyle Press, Elliott printed 10,000 books and went back to those same streets where he once moved cocaine. But now his “powder” was entitled Entangled. With twisted plots and colorful language, Elliott quickly hooked his clientele. Sales skyrocketed, propelling his first novel to the Essence Magazine Bestseller list. Currently it’s surpassed 50,000 units in sales and continues to be a success. Additionally he’s penned his second work, Street Fame (2005), and co-authored The Ski Mask Way with famed hip-hop artist 50 Cent for G-Unit Books (2007).
Elliott’s success has sent him multiple signing offers from major publishing houses. However, he’s yet to find one to match the value he’s gains from pushing his own project.
Bestselling author K-Elliott will be making his first trip to Mississippi Friday, March 30th through Saturday, March 31st in a series of events arranged by Conversations Book Club. For all the details, visit www.thebestbookclub.info or email us at email@example.com.
She is indeed one of the bright stars on the literary scene today. Bestselling author Kimberla Lawson Roby has been thrilling critics and fans alike for some time now, and if her newest book LOVE & LIES is any indication, that record isn’t changing any time soon. The title, released in January 2007, has made numerous bestseller lists and was a New York Times extended list bestseller for four consecutive weeks. Additionally, during its first week of publication, it was # 4 on the Wal-Mart bestseller list for all hardcover titles in the country and will appear at # 1 for hardcover fiction in the May (2007) issue of Essence magazine! All of this and her publisher, William Morrow/HarperCollins recently announced a new four-book deal in which they will be releasing two books a year, both in 2008 and 2009.
Our conversation with Roby shows that with persistence comes reward.
Kimberla, thank you so much for taking out the time to talk with CONVERSATIONS. You came to my attention because of the powerful brand you have built behind your name. What does it feel like to look back on all the success you have had?
It's all truly a blessing and such an amazingly wonderful feeling. I still remember how I couldn't get my first novel published and how I had to move forward with starting my own company and then publishing it myself. However, since then, God has allowed me to have seven additional books be released from a major New York publishing house.
From the first book did you believe it would work for you as an author?
I'd always hoped and had faith that everything would work out and thankfully, it did.
What about your family? Did they support you right from the beginning?
Absolutely. When I received tons of rejection letters for my first novel, my mom kept saying that too many people locally were reading copies of the manuscript and were saying they couldn't put it down and she just didn't think I should give up. Then, my husband asked me why couldn't I just start my own company and publish the book myself, especially since my background was in business. My family and closest friends supported me then and continue to do so and it makes all the difference in my life.
The reader seems to come of each with each novel that you right, emerging with a feeling of self-awareness. Is that your intention when writing? What do you hope each book conveys?
Yes, it is always my hope that readers will be able to relate their own lives to my storylines and then walk away with self-awareness and/or solutions to whatever problems or obstacles they may be trying to overcome. Either that, or I'm hoping they can relate the story to what a family member or friend might be experiencing. Additionally, I'm always hoping to convey a strong message in terms of moral and/or family values. I'm hoping readers will see how important it is to do the right thing and that there are always consequences whenever we choose not to.
Sometimes when you reach a level of greatness it's hard to stay true to yourself. How do you remain grounded?
What keeps me grounded is the way my mother raised me. She raised me to have such great confidence in myself and to always believe I could do anything, but at the same time she made sure she taught me the importance of being down-to-earth. I've always been that way and no amount of money or success in general can ever change that. I always tell people that "I'm just Kim and that writing books is nothing more than the way I earn my living. I tell my readers that in the end, I'm no different than they are.
We are celebrating the successes of women in this issue. Tell us about the story your female characters tell and how you feel as though women have excelled since you have been publishing books.
In my novel, CHANGING FACES, there are three female characters with very different issues. Whitney is a hundred pounds overweight and is struggling with trying to lose it, Taylor is a successful attorney but is ignoring serious symptoms of a female illness, and Charisse, thanks to her childhood issues, pretends to be holier-than-thou but in reality is one of the most underhanded people you could ever meet.
In terms of how women have excelled, I think they have in a huge way---in the publishing industry and with so many other wonderful careers.
We hear in the mainstream media sometimes hear how women are still disadvantaged and not given the opportunities that men may have. What are your thoughts about how women are portrayed in the arts, whether its books, movies or music videos?
I think there are certainly more opportunities for women today than say even ten years ago, but I still think society has a long way to go. Unfortunately, women seem to have to work harder to have the same success as some men.
Any advice you have for those who need a little guidance in what to do with their finished manuscript?
Have faith in God, have faith in yourself and have faith in what you have written. Additionally, you should begin sending query letters to agents that are interested in representing your particular type of work. Also, read everything you can to learn the business of publishing. I always suggest that aspiring authors begin with HOW TO GET HAPPILY PUBLISHED by Judith Appelbaum.
Kimberla, what would you like to say to your fans?
Thank you all so much for supporting me over the last eleven years. Being published and then being blessed to have so many thousands of readers nationwide is an amazing joy and I sincerely appreciate all of you.
Thanks again for your time. We sure appreciate it. How can readers find out more about you and purchase your books?
Readers can visit my web site at www.kimroby.com.
Friday, March 09, 2007
30's the new 20
I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California.
When did your love for the written and spoken word begin?
I think my love for the written word came before my love for the spoken word. The reason I say that is because I always wanted to be a writer. I don't remeber growing up with dreams of being a poet. It just kinda happened that way.
Can you tell us some of the earlier influences for you?
I was influenced by people who changed the game. People like Marcus Garvey, Nikki Giovanni and perhaps my biggest influence was the work of Ice Cube.
We talk to artists alot about the support they received before and after the success hit. Tell us about your experience with this.
My family has never told me that I couldn't accomplish what I wanted to. They've always been so supportive in that way. They push me and inspire me to be as successful as possible. I come from a family of people who tell you like it is. It's hard to be a bad entertainer in my family because I have aunts, uncles and cousins who would come snatch me off stage and let me know the post office is hiring. But seriously, my family has been my number 1 support system throughout my entire career and one day when my work produces six figure dividends I'll show them how much I appreciate all the love and support.
Being someone who is used to fighting back from trials and difficult situations, tell us about the car accident you were in and how it changed your outlook on life.
People ask me all the time, "How did you get that scar on your face?" I was asleep in the passenger seat of my cousins two week old Nissan Sentra and a drunk driver hit us head on. I wasn't wearing a seat belt at the time, so I the impact through me into the windshield and I've been scared for life every since that day. The doctor told me that had I been awake at the time of the accident, I would not be here today. Hearing that made me realize just how fortunate I am to wake up everyday. After the accident I felt like I was walking with a shield around me. Not because I felt invinscible, but because I felt protected. I just felt like God was strolling with me and it gave me courage to share my life story with the world. I know I'm only breathing because God has a plan for me.
I was first introduced to you through your cd FEEL THE PASSION and I was struck at how you seem to create the perfect relationship of spoken word and hiphop. Do you think that has contributed to your "crossover" appeal with music lovers as well as those who love spoken word?
Feel The Pa$$ion was actually my fourth spoken word C.D. and it was certainally me getting closer to the hip-hop side, but you have to understand something. At the end of the day my music is still considered spoken word because I'm a so called Spoken Word artist. I walk a thin line between spoken word and hip-hop as do many poets and for me it's because HIp-Hop is what I identify with. The only problem with that is people want to put you in a certain category and if you're talented at what you do but don't fit into any of the categories, the decision makers fear introducing a new category for you to shine in. We just have to continue to penatrate their ears with quality material until they see the light.
I know you had the privilege to be a part of Russell Simmons DEF POETRY JAM. Can you tell us about that and how it opened doors for you?
When the Def Poetry Jam call came I was very suprised, because I never even sent them my audition tape for consideration. I just figured there would be Poets from all over the world sending in tapes so I didn't bother. They actually saw me on a tape someone else submitted. They call me and said something like, Russell Simmons and H.B.O. would like to invite you to tape season III of Def Poetry Jam. I was like, "I'm there. When do we tape? Two days later I was headed to N.Y.C.
I'll never forget the love people were displaying for Poets. The fans treated us like rock stars. I mean I was hanging out in VIP admiring beautiful women with Smokey Robinson he told me my pen was lethal and that it was nice to meet me. I think one of my favorite moments was when Jill Scott told me I was handsome. (laughs)
Do you think you write more for yourself as a form of therapy or for the masses?
Writing is very theraputic and it relaxes me. I guess it's safe to say I write for therapy and hope the masses benefit from it.
There are some powerful messages in your poetry, one of the more important ones being how men should treat women. Do you think that hiphop has done much to change the way females are perceived and treated?
Before we sit back and judge Hip-Hop for calling women Bs, we should first sit back and question where the inspiration comes from. My message is not so much about how men should treat women, it's more to do with how women should respect and treat themselves. How do I start a campaign requesting that the B word be erased from the Hip-Hop dictionary when Too Short is one of my favorites? How do I start that same campaign when I turn on Maury and see 22 year old Kiesha from Kansas testing 5 men to find out who's the father of her child. Mine is a message of self esteem, self pride and self knowledge.
As an artist, how much responsibility do you feel to include a real message in your poetry?
Sometimes I feel it's important to include a message in my work, because I've reached a level in my career where people pay attention to what I'm saying, but then there are those times when I'm not writing for the masses. There are times when I just write to relax and when that's the case, I'm just allowing my pen to have some fun.
You had such critical acclaim with the first project. Tell us about the new project and what inspired it?
I am currently working on my 5th c.d.
I have recorded 25 songs for the new project and from that I'll select 10 or 15 of the best and then it's a wrap. I haven't titled the project yet, but this one was mostly inspired by the feedback from Feel The Pa$$ion. People who heard Feel The Pa$$ion heard me get closer to my Hip-Hop roots and they loved it. I'm still walking that thin line but this time I concentrated more on making timeless music. I'm gonna come back to Jackson, MS to promote the new project this summer. Look for me.
You will be in Mississippi Friday, April 13th and Saturday, April 14th as part of events celebrating National Poetry Month. This is your second trip to Mississippi, the first being two years ago. Are you surprised at how universal and widely received your poetry seems to be no matter where you go?
No not really. People love C-Bone Jones. The ladies especially. I think they like that i'm crazy, sexy, cool. (laughs)
What can we expect from you later this year?
Expect to hear a Word Play mix-tape, expect to see the C-Bone Jones Live D.V.D. and expect to see me opening my own recording studio.
Just expect to see me SHINE.
Thank you for your time, C-Bone. If our readers want to get more information about you or would like to purchase your cd, how can they reach you?
For booking or to order c.d.'s you can reach me @ www.myspace.com/wwwmyspacecomcbonejones or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, March 08, 2007
The first time I heard of Sean Simmonds was through BET on a Sunday morning. His video for "Won't It Be" was on and I just had to keep it on the channel and watch. Though I caught it in the middle, I knew at that
point Simmonds was a powerful inspirational voice that was going to make a difference. I then visited his website and found out more about him and his vision for "TRUE STORY". During our
conversation together I was hoping he would reveal more about his goals and more.
I wasn't disappointed.
Sean, thanks again for taking out the time out of your busy schedule to talk to us. I have to ask you: though you have had success before the debut album hit, what has it been like to have all eyes now just on you?
I must say it’s been different, considering I have always been with a group, however I don’t mind it. I feel like God has prepared me with how to handle the attention.
Tell us about your life growing up. Was music a big part of your family, and what did you enjoy listening to?
Before my parents separated, my father was a dj and he would play a lot of music around the house from Al Green, Marvin Gaye to Bob Marley. That music had a strong influence on me even to this day. Not to mention Micheal Jackson and Stevie Wonder. It wasn’t until my teen years that I was exposed to the Fred Hammond’s of the world.
Can you remember the time when you heard something on the radio and you said to yourself 'That is what I want to do'?
Well it wasn’t on the radio it was on T.V. when I saw Micheal Jackson perform Billy Jean on the American Music Awards and he did the moon walk across the stage. That was my confirmation that music was what I wanted to do.
Alot of our guests talk about where they draw their inspiration from. Who was it in your life--family or otherwise--that stood out to you as a living leader?
I must say my mother. She withstood so much adversity being a single parent mother and living with sickle-cell anemia she has been my inspiration.
When the decision was made in your life to pursue your dream, how did you begin the process?
Well to make a long story short, it was just a matter of letting God lead. I experienced a lot of rejection and at times that can be reason enough to give up but when you let God be God and let him be in control, rejection and setbacks don’t seem so bad.
Were people supportive of you venturing into the music business? What was some of the advice you have gotten about the pros and cons?
The people that mattered the most like my family supported my decision 110%, however I had to experience a lot of growing pains with the business, no one was really there to guide me I had to learn a lot on my own but it definitely has prepared me for where I’m at now.
Though I'm not a singer or songwriter, a know that alot of the artist's success rides on finding the right time and niche for your sound. Was this something you had to consider when putting together your solo project and why did you think the time was right for you?
I wouldn’t say it was finding the right time for my sound but more for my message. Over the last 6 years the world has experienced some things that a lot of people are having a hard time dealing with, for example 9/11, Tsunami’s, Hurricane Katrina etc so I think the timing of my record is perfect considering people are looking for a lifeline and my music provides that lifeline of hope.
Listening to you music, Sean, rings to me like inspirational talks with the public. I noticed on your website you mentioned you don't want to come across as preachy, but how do you think you were able to put together such an intricate array of songs that can appeal to so many listeners?
It’s about having a “real talk” approach behind trying to convey my message and singing about topics that relate to the everyday person.
You work hard in your music to make sure that women are encouraged. What message do you have to artists that may not be as conscious as you when it comes to how women are treated and described in various music genres?
We need to know that women play an important role with the development of our younger generation so it’s important they are encouraged and treated with respect so that our kids reflect something positive.
I don't think that readers always think of the work that goes into releasing a project like yours. Now that the album TRUE STORY is out, what is a typical day like for Sean Simmonds?
Wow, it consists of interviews both radio and magazine, promo appearances, answering many emails daily (that’s a must, I love talking to people who have supported me and the record) And as an executive being on the phone a lot.
Not only are you recording artist with Xist records, but the President as well. What do you look for in recording artists that may be interesting in being a part of your label?
Well to me it’s not always about how well someone sings, because there are a lot of great singers. Its about delivery, and a humble swagger or confidence, of course without being arrogant because that is something I cannot stand. And last but not least it’s about their conviction and message behind their music. There has to be something unique about them that separates them from the rest of the pack.
What's next for you, Sean? Can we look for a tour? What about the next single?
Absolutely! I’m looking to embark on a radio promotional tour very soon as well we are in discussions to put a tour together with some other artists. The next single will be Soul Glo, which will probably be released this fall also be on the lookout for the video for that one too.
Do you have any advice for those who are reading this that might be interested in pursing a career as a singer or songwriter?
Just make sure you study the business, and continuously work at perfecting your craft.
Thanks again, Sean, for taking out this time with us. How can your fans and others find out more about you and Xist Records?
You can always out what’s going on at www.xistrecords.com. I return all my emails so don’t hesitate to reach out.