Aray Brown is a new independent author/poet. Her first book “Expressions OF Me” was officially released on October 2013.
Ever since she was little she always wanted to be a writer. She began writing at an early age, her short stories consisted of cartoon characters such as She-Ra and He-Man. Later on she decided to delve into something more real and personal. Despite the trials and tribulations she endured in her life, she wrote her first novel “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore”, a tell all book centered around the life and times she spent with her grandmother while her mother was in prison. It was never published. She then went on writing more unpublished novels, honing her craft so to speak. She didn’t dabble into poetry until later. It all started with a pen and paper then escalated to her very own YouTube channel (1,551 views and counting). Then finally self publishing her first poetry book. If it wasn’t for a certain r&b artist she wouldn’t have the courage to showcase her poetry. She always wanted to do it but she hated her voice at that time. After watching his videos off and on, she figured if he can do it then so can she. After that, a star was born. Writing has always been her passion and will continue to be, until her last breath. She is currently working on her second book, her first novel, entitled, Blood Is Thicker Than Water.
Your first book: Expressions of Me was released in October 2013. Tell us a little about it.
It’s a collection of poems that I have written throughout my life. It’s about love. About fear. About heartache and hope. Some of them speak to the people and deal with real issues that plague our society (like aids, education, domestic abuse, etc.)
For me it’s like why not poetry. It has become a vital part of my life. To put my thoughts and feelings down on paper, it allows me to express myself in such a way that I’m not able to verbally. At the end of the day it’s therapeutic. It’s a gift that I don’t take for granted.
I just spent some time watching your spoken word performances on youtube. It’s very inspirational. For those readers out there that might not be familiar with spoken word poetry, can you explain it a bit for us?
Spoken Word is poetry that is written but performed for an audience. It is more aggressive and “in your face” than traditional forms of poetry. Even though I have showcased my poems on youtube, I have yet to grace a stage. My time will come though. Just hope I don’t get stage fright.
What impact does your spoken word have on your written poetry?
Like every poet, when I recite my poems I try to pour my heart and soul into it. Especially if it pertains to me in anyway. So to answer to your question, a huge impact.
What I really like about your poetry is that it has ups and downs, just like real life. Do you draw your inspiration from your own life? If so, how?
Inspiration comes from everywhere. But my own life experiences have played a part. I haven’t had that much life experience(I’m a hermit) but the things I’ve dealt with firsthand are reflected in my poems. We’ve all experienced first love, unrequited love, heartache and getting over the loss of a loved one and being stuck with nowhere to go. The best thing about being a writer is that you can write through your pain. All of them have a powerful message and they reflect me in some way.
Poetry often comes from the poet’s own conflicts. What conflicts have you encountered in your life that lends itself to your poetry?
The stresses of everyday life. The trials of tribulations of not only what we women go through but what we people deal with as well.
This blog is about the struggles and triumphs of being an “Indie”. What motivated you to do Independent Publishing, rather than seeking a traditional publisher?
I just decided to do it. I had always planned on going the traditional route, but for some reason it didn’t work out as planned. And although I think there are more advantages to Traditional more than the Independent, I do like the full creative control aspect of it. I have say over the whole process and it’s a good feeling. I wanted to get my book out there and I wanted to make a name for myself. Independent Publishing was the best move for me.
I know that promotion has been the hardest thing for me, as an Indie Author. One thing that you do (that I’m not brave enough to do yet), is use YouTube as a platform. What tips do you have for someone who is shy or a little insecure but wants to make Youtube videos? How did you overcome these things and decide to put yourself out there on YouTube?
I was shy and insecure. I’m still shy. Before youtube, I would showcase my poems on my blog. And of course tweeted it and shared it with as many people as I could. But I wanted to do more. I knew there was a much broader audience out there and I wanted to reach it. But I had one setback. I hated my voice. At that time I was an admirer of this guy who had this amazing voice. Needless to say, after watching his videos, he gave me the courage to do it. He was my inspiration, in more ways than one. The only tip I would have would be to just do it. Find your inner strength. If God gave you a gift you have to share it with the world or else what good is it?
Your poem; Epiphany III ends with the lines: “You only get one shot to live this life. Live it to the fullest, give it all you got”. How do you do this in your own life?
I try to live my life by that mantra but I sometimes I fall short. I just try to do the best I can do. Spend my time doing what I love, spending it with the people I love and doing God’s will. Epiphany III has to be one of my favorites. It depicts apart of my life I wasn’t proud of that time.
Finally, what’s next? Do you plan on releasing more books of poetry or are you working on a different type of work?
I’m currently working on a mystery/suspense novel. It’s about a woman who tracks down her mother’s killer, killing off people one by one, while losing herself in the process. There certainly will be more poetry books in the future for sure. After all I’m poet. I can’t deny that part of me. But for now, I’m leading towards my first love. I have a lot of up and coming projects coming so stay tuned
Where can my readers connect with you?
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1ckMyQc
D.w. Jackson was once a soldier in our country’s National Guard. After a little over a year spent in deployment, he returned home to work as a pipeline surveyor and eventually a correctional officer for the state of Oklahoma. Then, he became an adoptive father, fell ill and wrote his first novel. D.W. Jackson is a true Indie Author success story; selling around 35,000 books in his first year. Today, I set down with him and pick his brain for the secrets (or magic) that have led to his success. I got all the answers I wanted, as well as a few good laughs.
Q: Tell me a little about your books and what kind of novels you write.
A: I write Fantasy. Right now, all my books are in the world of Kurt; a large fantasy realm with the basics from Elves, dragons and magic. Though most of the magical races are a bit different than normal and so is the magic. It is a diverse realm with many countries and various societies including one completely dominated by women where men are treated as slaves.
A: That’s hard to say. Definitely not my main character. I put that poor bo through the ringer. I think I would have to pick Tuck. He’s a good natured elf with a flair for jokes.
Q: haha…Poor Thad…
A: [He’ lost a foot and an eye. [He’s] been tortured over the years. He’s had it bad.
Q: You’re working on the Re-Awakening Saga right now. How many books are there in the series and how many more do you plan to write?
A: Right now there are five out with one more in the main first arc and two other side stories. I am planning on at least another 13 more books in that realm right now.
Q: You’ve done a lot of things in your life. Is writing the one thing that you’ve enjoyed the most?
A: That’s hard to say. I have enjoyed most my life. I’ve traveled the world, served in the army with some of the best the US has to offer, took a year and went on a heck of a road trip all over the US. I’ve had a blast.
Q: That does sound like a blast. Does your writing reflect any on your time in the service?
A: Of course. Any service man will notice it and many have emailed me, mentioning it. It makes it much easier to describe how the soldiers even in Medieval times might interact with each other.
Q: Are there any occupational hazards to being a novelist?
A: Lack of Sleep. Forgetting that you have a life outside of your computer screen…I haven’t played my XBox in nearly a year. I think being a writer might be more time consuming than those guys who spend their times in their mother’s basement, eating cheetos and playing D&D.
It’s simple. Everyone can get lost in a book and everyone can get lost in thought but it’s dangerous when you’re writing a book and you get lost in it. As Chong once said, “There’s no way out, man.”
Q: You’ve been a great inspiration to me, personally. You’ve had a great first year and built a great series from scratch. What advice would you give to a new Independent Author?
A: I don’t know much about success. I was lucky. I published my first book and it sold but I would tell every new and aspiring author that connecting with your readers after they read is important. Keep up with a blog, put your email address in the first page of the book, pay attention to your author page on Amazon. Make the reader feel invested, not only in your stories, but you as a person. Don’t let them see you as nothing more than a book cover.
Q: That’s very good advice. Okay, last question. What’s next? What can we look for on the horizon from you?
A: Well, March will be the last book in the first arc of the Re-Awakening storyline (“Master Mage”). Other than that, I have so many other plans going on, I can barely keep them straight. My goal is to put out at least 8 books a year.
Q: Very nice. We’ll be watching to see what you’re up to.
A: Oh, that’s easy…I’ll be working.
If you want to know more about DW Jackson, you can find him here:
You can get his newest book: Stranded Mage now or get caught up on the entire Reawakening Saga series via Amazon.
With Darkness Within released, I move forward to the next book in the series, Light Without. However, I feel like I have opened some sort of creative floodgate and ideas for new projects just keep flooding out of my brain. I have at least 5 books in my immediate thoughts and when I set down to write Light Without, these other projects jump in my face for attention.
So, I was wondering how many projects I should work on at a time. I know I can write one book while outlining another but could I write 2 books while outlining 3 more? I’m sure this is a personal preference but I thought it would be a good idea to get an idea from other indie authors on the matter. How many projects do you work on at a time?
Yesterday’s writing began slowly. In the past few days, the feeling that I was being propelled forward has shifted. Now, I feel as if I’m simply trudging along. Having only written 900 words the day before, I sat at my computer and stared at my screen (probably looking for my muse).
My character started by pondering the aspirations and motivations of a light bulb! :0 I never, ever thought I would be writing about the inner dialogue of a light bulb…Now I have and I’m surprised because it actually worked! As my character postulates that she must be going crazy, so do I!!!!
That scene came surprising easy to me and worked very well within the story. As I created the header for chapter 25, my mind becomes stagnant again. I stare at the white screen for a while before deciding to do something that is almost forbidden in NaNoWriMo land…I went back to the beginning and re-read my entire story!!!
I ended up completely re-odering my story. I moved six chapters of my story to the middle and wrote an additional 4,000 words to tie it all together nicely (at least I hope). I understand, now, the dangers of going back and editing when you are on such a tight deadline. I can’t really feel like I wasted a night’s worth of work because I wrote 4x the total word count for the previous day, in addition to the changes I made.
I know that we’re not technically supposed to “edit” but it was necessary to build suspense and mystery and to moving forward with the story line. I will have plenty more editing to do in December as I get ready for the release of the book (hopefully before Christmas). I may be a rebel but I don’t regret it! It’s just another insane leap down the Nanowrimo rabbit hole!
***Word count update: 23,892.
You can check out my novel, which is now published (preliminary copy) at LeanPub: https://leanpub.com/darknesswithin