Backdrop Pt. 2, In the Interim: The Gap after the Publication of My Book and the Birth of My Nephew

It’s the last week of March. I’ve been meaning to keep my blogs current, but I will have to divulge the “why” on another blog entry. As for this one which is long overdue, I have to fill in the gap on what happened after my book was published along with the birth of my nephew.

Shortly, after those two events happened simultaneously, I was asked to come and speak at my Alma Mater, Jackson State University (JSU), to the graduate class of publishing and marketing. I shared my experience with them about being a self-published author, the marketing ordeal, etc. Overall, I admitted to having fun with marketing my book once I found my footing. I told them the various software, tools, and methods that I used and felt would be easier for me. At the same time, it helped me really tap into my creativity on another avenue. Some asked questions; others asked about the book cover, formatting, and all. One of my old instructors asked me, “Why did you choose self-publishing instead of traditional?” I answered, “Most traditional publishers do not feel that poetry will sell. However, with self-publishing or independent publishing, it opened so many opportunities for me. I got to connect with other “indie” authors, writers, graphic designers, and the other creative individuals. In the beginning, I had no idea how to market my book. I reached out, asked others about the methods used to promote their book, and they were all too eager to share their knowledge with me. It was so exciting to be able to ask for help or ideas that these individuals just opened up and advised on what to do. It wasn’t a competition. Once I had what I needed, I just had to apply what they revealed; for the most part, it worked. A couple of students acknowledged that I inspired them to write or even publish their books, poems, or whatever. When my presentation was done, I passed out my author information, encouraged them to contact me if they had any questions or needed help, and I exited that class with a smile on my face. For the first time in a long time, I held my head up. I didn’t look down at the ground as I was walking. I corrected my posture, strutted, and told myself, “I am somebody. I do matter. There are people who are looking at me, admiring me; though, I don’t know who they are. I still want to give back, plant a seed, and hope the seed takes to their soil like so many others before did for me.”

A few weeks later, I connected with my other poetry groups. I didn’t even know there were so many poets in Mississippi. (Lol, I guess they were in hiding.) Years ago, before I graduated from JSU, I had met with a group of poets called the MS Society of Poets, or as I call them, The Belhaven Poets. Why? Because they meet at Belhaven College. I wanted to become a member, but for monetary reasons, I couldn’t join at the time. Yet, I was invited to come and share my poetry. And I did. They were in love with my poetic babies. Before, I didn’t want to share because I’ve always met such negativity, skepticism, and rudeness about my poetry or how I write it. Afterward, one of the poets pulled me to the side and said, “Your poetry is something else. It’s very thought-provoking; it provokes awareness: emotionally, mentally, etc. Don’t you dare stop writing! Continue to write! Continue to be you as you’re fashionably are! Don’t let anyone take that from you! Who cares what others think or say. These are your words; let them unfold and tell your story! No one can stop you except you!” I was so shocked when she said that. But those words left an imprint. It’s funny I haven’t thought about those words until now, as I’m typing this blog. I forgot her name, but I will never forget her or what she planted inside me.

My other group is the Anonymous Poets; I love these poets. There is nothing but a handful of them; they still meet anyway. These are more seasoned, experienced poets. And I’m the only “young’un” as they refer to me. Deep down, I know it makes them happy to have a “young” poet among them. Perhaps, it makes them feel young at heart. Besides, I’m really an old soul myself. What others do or what they are into, I’m just not into it. Just the simple things do it for me.

 

Whenever I meet with them, I feel right at home, spiritually. It’s an indescribable feeling to be among the same individuals who share your passion, who crave the words and emotions that need to be expressed without ridicule or judgment. We’re all there to just share our thoughts, our vision: to just birth creativity and let it be. Not tearing it to shred because it doesn’t fit one’s “criteria.” Poetry is energy; it flows, and it comes from within our hearts, our spirits, our minds; the very thing that comprises human beings. It’s been a while since I’ve been with them, but I will return to that welcome table. Count on it!

In a couple of my previous entries, I talked about my 1st Author Vendor Event with Ms. Gigi, and the Jackson Expo, my 2nd Author Vendor. Now, I’ve caught up to what happened last year. And, well, lol, that’s last year.

This is 2018; I got to get caught up from January to now.

Hope you’re ready for it.

Backdrop Pt. 1: Results of the Book Signing

I promised to do a couple of catch up blog entries from the publication of my book, the birth of my nephew, and everything in between. I will not lie; I was hesitant to share this part of my journey. But it’s important. Later, I will explain why.

December 8th was the day I scheduled my book signing. It was at Yazoo City’s public library, Ricks Memorial. The book signing would be from 9 a.m. to 1 pm. However, that morning, Mississippi got snow! That rarely happens down here. Even if it snows, it never sticks. Anyways, I was a little late because I had to drive carefully and all. (I’ve never driven in the snow before, so I had to be more cautious driving than usual). I got there, set up the table, and waited for people to come. Yazoo City is a very small town, so I wasn’t expecting a big crowd. If three or four were to come, I would’ve still been grateful.

The reporter from the Yazoo Herald arrived; Ms. Cathryn was her name.  She interviewed me; then, I found out something interesting about Ms. Cathryn. She is currently writing a book, and she asked if I would be interested in reading it. I told her, “Sure, I would.” It made her smile. After the interview, she took a couple of pictures and posted them on Facebook to help get the word out and around about the book signing.

Time was passing by so quickly, and I realized that no one was coming. I was sorely disappointed and hurt. I kept beating myself up like, “Did I do something wrong?” “I did the flyers, hanged the flyers myself in community markets and local business owners, and I talked to the newspaper.” ” Did I miss something?” My first book signing to me was a failure. No one came. There were patrons in the library, but no one showed interest. When 1 o’clock came, I packed up in shame.

Just before I left, a miracle happened while at the library. I saw a lot of creative art pieces on display by a local artist. I connected with her, Ms. Melodie Patterson.  Days after the book signing, she asked where she could purchase a copy of my book. I told her where. Next thing, she took a picture holding my book. I just wanted to cry. I couldn’t believe it!

Shortly, she personally invited me to come to her private school and speak to their students. I just froze and thoughts began to swallow me whole. But I prayed, and I let God use me as an example to encourage, inspire, and motivate the next generation.

I spoke on a lot of things; I will mention 5 highlights:

  1. Keep God first in everything that you do. Let him lead and guide you.
  2. It’s a process. Once you start the process, you have to go through and endure the process. Don’t rush it.
  3. There is no age limit on growing up! As long as you are living, you are going to keep learning things and growing from them.
  4. Find and walk your own path. Nobody can walk yours for you, and you can’t walk theirs.
  5. Be yourself. You will be miserable trying to “people please” everyone. Pursue your passion. Make yourself happy.

One of the students wanted to talk to me about publishing a book similar to the format of Anne Frank’s diary. I was amazed; she’s 14. The student talked, laughed, and giggled. She even invited me to her graduation in 3 years. As she was leaving, she muttered, “It just feels good to talk to someone who is just like you. Someone who really gets you, and you’re able to be yourself.” I just sat there. I couldn’t believe that I had that kind of an impact on someone especially a teen. I’m so used to being in the student’s seat. It felt weird being on the other side of the table.

Ms. Melodie was just as shocked as me. She revealed that the student never talked to anyone, and she, herself, didn’t know that the student could write. She smiled at me and said, “You made quite an impact.” I was humbled. Those students at the Thomas Christian Academy are full of creative talent and life. Just being around them breathed life into me.

Let me back up a little.

Again, I was not going to share this, the result of the book signing. But a friend of mine reminded me how it’s important to share successes as well as failures. Most people will share the successes and not mention the rejections or failures that they encountered along the way.

In this case, people need to be able to relate to someone who is not just succeeding but failing. Yet, within failure, there is growth, perseverance, and strength of will/character. You never know who’s looking at you from the shadows, behind the curtain, or out among the crowd.

I never knew anyone was looking at me or even noticed me. I’m so used to being invisible, voiceless, unheard. Being a published author has blessed me to connect with other creative individuals like myself.

So yes, my book signing was not what I wanted. However, it became a blessing in disguise. There was something I missed: the schools, the churches, and a few more. I didn’t get to them in time. I will relaunch another book signing. I won’t miss anyone this time. If I have to visit the schools and churches myself, that’s what I’m going to do. I don’t want to just touch lives, I want to change them too.

All I have to do is plant a seed…

But I’m making sure it’s a positive one. So many people invested in me over the years, and most are not here to see what their wisdom and guidance has helped shape the woman I am today.

This is a journey; it’s my journey. I’ve spent my whole life running from it. I’m not running anymore. It’s not about me. There’s a bigger picture now (always have been). What I do, what I say ripples to other people. It affects them some way. I want to make sure it’s a positive way. We have enough negativity in this world.

That ladies and gentlemen…

That’s how a seed is planted.

 

 

*My goal was to have all my ends tied up with the backdrops. But I won’t make it before the new year, 2018. That’s ok though. Pt. 2 to the backdrop blog entry will be the next entry at the beginning of the year. A reflection of the journey I’ve started.*

2018 on the Rise: New Goals, Making Dreams a Reality

2017 has been full of challenges and growth. I remember when I started this blog. It started out as encouragement and support for a family member. And it grew from there. Also, my blog became another outlet for me to stay productive in my writing. Although I fell off for a while, I am still able to pick up and continue one blog at a time.

Even though I’m still working on becoming a Copy Editor, I’ve decided to go back to school to get my Master’s Degree. It’s a one-year program. Of course, the program will not open up til August 2018, the fall. So I’m working toward getting everything together to attend. Then, I’ve been doing a lot of research about creating my own literary journal to help the creative community. I’m looking into Graphic Design, so I can learn how to do it myself. If I had the funds to pay someone else to do it, I would; however, I don’t. Plus, it will help me get back into my creative flow.

Concerning my book, I have a few author vendor events coming up, and the first one takes place in February. I have a couple of book signings scheduled. I’m very excited yet nervous at the same time. Now, that I just got hired for my new job, I will be able to promote/market my book like I want.

So many promising avenues are opening up and providing countless possibilities. I will say that becoming a published author was not in my plans. But I just thank God after 20-something years of people asking, encouraging, and poking me, it came to fruition. With my book, I was able to connect with so many authors, writers, and poets too.

I am so proud and proud of myself! 2017, thank you for the preview of what’s to come. 2018, let’s make it happen! Let’s not wait! Chapter 30 is blank and ready to be occupied with memories, adventures, and experiences. Time to make my dreams a reality!

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!!!! Welcome, 2018! I pray it’s wonderful!

Jackson Community Expo

Yesterday, I was invited to participate as a vendor at the Jackon Cash & Carry Supermarket. This was my second event as a vendor. I really wasn’t feeling my best; but, I just made the most of the opportunity. There were a few entrepreneurs; it was great! I was really nervous. Of course, Ms. Gigi pulls me to the side to try to talk some sense into me. It worked (for the most part).

I didn’t sell any books, and that’s ok. I was just glad to collaborate with other people and learn about business. Ms. Meredith McGee was also there as a vendor. She pulled me to the side and shared a lot of knowledge with me. Basically, she told me about how to get exposure, what to do, what to say, and who to connect and reach out to. I enjoyed the knowledge that she shared with. By the end of the event, we both decided to swap our works and review them. It feels good to work with other authors as we continue to uplift and genuinely support each other.

Also, another young lady stopped by my table. I was so amazed at the fact she was excited about wanting to purchase and read my book. She was like, “Girl, it’s amazing to be a published author. In fact, it’s a blessing. God is going to take you places with this book. So you might as well strap in and get ready. I feel it is very vital as an African American to know who you are dealing with ‘image’.”  And her name was Jasmine as well.

I guess God is getting ready to take me places; I am scared and uncertain of the “where.” But I am trying to work on my faith. I know God has never let me down, abandoned nor forsaken me. To me, I’m just a small town, countrywoman just trying to find my way, trying to actually live life instead of existing, and find out who I am. And somehow I keep getting pushed back to “Square 1.”

Overall, I enjoyed the meet and greet with the other vendors. Hopefully, things will pick up. Still working on local promotion.

Next entry will begin to fill in the gap as the backdrop to catch you guys up.

Before I forget, I just updated my author/poet website: mcjasz2205.wixsite.com/jnmcghee.

I’m still working on linking my WordPress blog to my website, so I won’t have to keep starting new blogs. I will figure it out soon.

More updates to come.

Until then:

“Speak your truth, Live your truth! Use your voice.” © – Jasmine N. McGhee

 

Book Signing for December 8th – Secured!

Hello, everyone! I’ve been so busy trying to schedule a book signing. So I was finally able to secure a time, date, and location. This will be my first, official book signing! It will take place at a local library on December 8th from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (The rest of the info is on the flyer that’s at the end of the blog). I’m so excited yet nervous at the same time. Also, the Downtown Marketplace in Yazoo City, MS will be selling a few copies of my book in their store! They were really nice, helpful, and supportive.

Other than that, local promotion is going pretty good. It started off on a rocky, uncertain start. Once I found my footing, it picked up some. But all praises and glory go to the good Lord. I’m just so happy and humble that he has truly blessed me beyond words. As I prepare for this book signing, I’m hoping everything turns out ok.  The flyer is ready; I’ve been printing and hanging them in local businesses.

My goal was to do at least two book signings before the end of the year. However, it was so many other writers and authors trying to do the same thing around the same time.  So I just told myself to do this one; and, at the beginning of next year, I would try to schedule another book signing.

Thanksgiving is tomorrow! I can’t wait to eat to my heart’s content. I have so much to be thankful. This year has been filled with ups and downs, false starts, detours, etc. Overall, I can say that I have so much to be thankful for. My new nephew, my heart, Deon’tae – my D-Baby. I’m a published author; I’m connecting with other like-minded, creative individuals.

So Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

After everything slows up, I’ll do a couple of backdrop entries about what happened after the book was published along with the birth of my nephew. 🙂

I promise.

Book Signing Flyer #2.jpg