Netflix’s American Son is an American Fail

Netflix’s American Son centers around an educated Black mother and her estranged white FBI agent husband and their son who is in trouble with the law. For the most part of the film, the audience does not much more about the son’s whereabouts other than he was pulled over by the cops with two other Black friends. Written by trial lawyer Christopher Demos-Brown who is a playwright, the film is less a movie than a too-generously funded play.

In trying to attack stereotypes head-on, the story of this film only furthers them. For instance, this film is based on the myth of the single-Black mother raising a troubled son whose father isn’t around for whatever reason. The myth of the single-Black is not busted in this film, only seasoned with a different form of bias and perpetuated.

From the beginning, Kendra, the mother, has a falling out with the sole cop helping to give her information on her son. While some of the dialogue feels real, most of it seems forced. Instead of coming off as a concerned mother aware of a biased policing system that does not value the lives of Black men, she comes off as a person looking for any opportunity to use the race card. Everyone knows the culture of law enforcement inherently denies Black men equal protection, but this film does not approach the issue in a manner consistent with that lack of equal protection.

Moreover, Kendra spends over half the movie arguing with her estranged husband. He comes off as a jerk who may be a little racist. She comes off as too racially aware to have ever dealt with a man such as him. Yet they stayed together for almost 18 years? How? There is a weak attempt made to explain their union when the two discuss the things they like such as hard work. But is the love of hard work enough to bring together an educated Black woman who is aware of racism and a white FBI agent who is racially indifferent, if not outright racist? That would be a stretch.

While arguing with her husband, Kendra goes off when he uses what she calls “white trash” language, bemoaning the fact that she did all she could to keep her son from using “slang.” She basically contends that she whitened their son up so the world could accept him. Their son is rebelling because he wants to be some sort of artist even though he’s basically a genius and his father wants him to be more practical. It is an age-old tale of parental oppression, and it fails here.

The writer is attempting to point out the prejudices in America that makes being Black a hazard. The writer attempts to raise a play to the level of motion picture. The intentions are there, but they lead to a hell of racial biases and failures.

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A Review of Emeka Ossai and How He Preys on Self-Publishers and Authors

During a recent search on YouTube while trying to find information on how to sell my self-published books, I came across Emeka Ossai, a charismatic young man originally from Canada who now lives in Mexico (I believe). In my opinion, Emeka is the last person you should spend your money with, if you take writing seriously.

Emeka does a series on YouTube on how he lives a passive income lifestyle through publishing on Amazon. He claims that he wants to help other authors reach the same success he has, and to do this, he offers some free guides and courses the author has to pay for.

During an email conversation in which I confronted Emeka about the errors in his free guide, he wrote, “Why do you think I don’t write my books? I’m not an author, I hire people (ghostwriters) to write my books for me and I publish them under pen names. I’m a publisher not an author.

Summed up, this is Emeka’s business plan that he sells to self-publishers: hire a ghostwriter from Upwork or another site, publish your book with great keywords and swap reviews with other writers and sell your books. Basically, if you’re a serious writer like me, Emeka’s course isn’t for you. His course is for people who want to make some quick cash by publishing something they got from someone else.

Not to be misunderstood, there’s nothing wrong with hiring a ghostwriter. But when your goal is to use double-talk like Emeka and prey on self-publishers, it’s wrong.

For instance, in my recent emails with Emeka, he claimed to have published over one-hundred books under various pen names. When I challenged him, he named one book that I doubt made any money. When I challenged him on this, he wrote, “I already told you that was my 2nd book ever that book is shit.” He then directed me to watch his videos for the names of other books. I watched a bunch of his videos, but I haven’t heard one name of a book yet.

Emeka is all smoke and mirrors. He claims to have had so much success self-publishing, yet there is no proof of it. He gathers self-publishers for his upcoming “annual” Cancun retreat/summit and have them pay a ridiculous sum of money to participate. He claims to have the key to self-publishing success, but he is really just a charlatan using a bunch of videos to entice self-publishers who want to share their work with the world and make some money in the process as they deserve.

Emeka isn’t a “successful” self-publisher. All he knows is black hat tactics and rhetoric. Don’t spend your money with him. Everything he’s telling you, other successful self-published writers like Joanna Penn, Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant tell you for free, and they can be trusted. Joanna Penn even opens her books to show you her sales.

Steer clear of Emeka Ossai.

How to Get a Book Deal

Every writer wants to know how to get a book deal, so she can officially be an author. Every writer wants to be the next great American author and sell more book than James Patterson. So, we ask, how do I get a book deal?

Recently, my novella Operation Soul Cast was picked up by a small publisher called Solstice. Believe it or not, getting a book deal is not as glamorous as one may believe. It’s actually a lot of work. 

To this question of getting a book deal, it is not impossible, but it is a science. You not only have to write a grammatically correct book, you have to write one strong in plot and rich with interesting characters. There is no secret formula to getting published. You just have to put your best pen forward. 

Until next time, keep writing. 

#authoruproar #imquerying 

Manuscript Anxiety

I once read somewhere the hardest part of writing comes after the manuscript is complete. Later, I read that all first drafts were trash. I thought the people who wrote those things were idiots. How wrong I was.

Some people have problems putting words on the page. This is why most manuscripts are never finished. I don’t have this problem. However, the closer I come to finishing a manuscript, the more anxious I become.

When you write 90,000 words, you think, “Geesh. I just wrote 90,000 words.” There is a certain level of pride that comes along with that. Then, you think in utter horror, “Damn it. I just wrote 90,000 words.” That means you will have to revise, edit, proofread and polish a 90,000-word manuscript. Needless to say, that is quite the endeavor.

I have an awesome Science Fiction novel I am this – close to completing. But I don’t have $3,000 to pay a professional line editor or any editor to work magic on it. In my manuscript’s current form, I’d be laughed out of every publishing house on this side of the universe before it ever sees print. This is why editing and revising are so vital.

I have been writing Carbon Copies since September of last year. When I put the final words on the page this week, the real work will begin. I will have to read for consistency and make notes along the way. Then, I will have to go back and make the necessary changes which include rewording, rewriting, organizing, deleting and fleshing out characters and scenes. Then, I will have to proofread for grammatical errors front to back at least twice. All that should take at least three months.

Writing is a full-time job. If you want to be a writer, you don’t necessarily have to LOVE the process. You have to at least LIKE it though or have an appreciation for it like red lights. We’re not fans of them, but we do appreciate the fact they prevent others from slamming into us. A manuscript in its first draft is like the bones of the house with a foundation to build upon. The revising, editing and proofreading are what make the house a home. They are the paint, the cabinets, the windows and everything in between.

I write this to give insight on what it’s like to write and be serious about it. Take what matters to you and leave behind what doesn’t.

A Personal Reflection on the Business of Self-Publishing

As a self-published writer, I find myself seeking tools that can not only help me sell more books but that can also help me in my writing process. To help other writers braving this unforgivable landscape we call self-publishing, I am writing this blog “The Business of Self-Publishing.”

The greatest advice I can give to you that was given to me is, keep writing. You should always be writing.

Other than that, self-publishing is a business. In business, people will always sell you things or at least try to. Your job is to decipher what you do and do not need. Believe it or not, you are in control of your greatest need: your ability to write. In addition to my writing skills, I have KDP Rocket (for identifying keywords to sell books), Autocrit (for editing) and I am thinking of adding Novelize for an easier writing process). I have not taken any workshops or bought much more than the things I mentioned.

When I initially set out on this self-publishing journey, I underestimated how hard this thing would be. I took for granted the ability to write good stories and sell them.  What I needed was a reality check, and that is what I got. There is a process to publishing, and that process is different for different people. You must perfect your process.

As I said, self-publishing is a business. It means you must have capital if you want to sell. You don’t need a lot of money, just enough to buy good covers, get some promotion and cover cost of materials, whatever they may be.

I have not been blogging much, because I am preparing to launch another two books. Stay tuned. I wanted to check in and let you all know where I’ve been and to tell you to keep going. You’ll make it.

#selfpublish #indieauthor

 

Increasing Book Sales With KDP Rocket

Today, I’m talking about increasing book sales with KDP Rocket. It is a program that is not a subscription that allows you to get inside knowledge on keywords so that you can have a greater chance of your books being found on Amazon by readers. You’re probably wondering why this is so important.

OK. Keywords are important if you want to maximize your ability to sell books. For instance, if you’re writing a book about a warring kingdom, it would be great to know that 1 million people a month through Amazon search the keywords “bloody kings killing.” Would you ever have thought to make that phrase part of your keywords? Maybe not.

On top of this, KDP Rocket tells you who your competition is, how many books they sold and how much money your keywords generate in relation to book sales. You’re wondering now, does it work? Many authors have said it does. Personally, I do not know, but this why I brought it yesterday for $97. There was a hiccup and I never received my pass key (license), but I emailed Dave Chesson, the creator who is a very accessible guy and who apologized, and he sent me my key.

So, I am doing an experiment. I know that shorter ebooks tend to do better than longer ebooks. I also have gathered data from KDP Rocket concerning book sales and competition within a certain genre. I am writing a 20,000-word novella using this information to see if it outperforms my other books. However, there are other variables to consider:

  1. Whether the story is appealing to the market
  2. Whether the book cover is intriguing
  3. Whether the marketing was sufficient
  4. And other things I can’t think of

I am very confident in my writing and storytelling capabilities. I have written some great pieces. If KDP Rocket is all it is cracked up to be, I should see a tremendous jump in sales. I know what the market wants, I know my competition and I know my keywords. Stay tuned, Loyal Reeders, and see what happens.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck is not your normal self-help book, and it is not for the faint of heart. This book doesn’t coddle you into feeling better or amp you up into believing you can do anything. Instead, it tells you how life is and suggests that you just deal with it.

As writers, authors and blogers, we create these posts or books and hope someone will read them, pray someone will give a fuck about them. What if they don’t? Do we give up writing or do we change gears?

I have always been a believer that in order to achieve goals, I must write them out and go for them. I had never been the type to weigh the consequences. As Mark Manson put it in Not Giving a Fuck, life is a series of problems and when you decide what success you want, you also have to decide what pain you want.

That means that everything comes with a certain stock of pain. As science puts it, for every action there is an equally adverse reaction. Simply put, take the good with the bad. Or as Troy Maxon in Fences would say, take the crookeds with the straights.

Success in writing, whether blogger, author or freelancer, is not easy. You will lose a lot to gain what you want. It is called sacrifice. This is why ninety percent of us fail. Because we lack the fortitude to keep on in the face of adversity.

But what is failure? It is an abstract idea really. Do we fail by society’s standards or our own?

Becoming Writer: Formal Education as an Author Versus None as a Writer

Yesterday, a fellow blogger asked me a good question about formal education as a writer versus no formal education as a writer. A lot of writers struggle with this. Some see education as the end all, be all that will make them a best-seller. Others who don’t have this education sometimes feel inadequate.

It took me four and a half years to get my bachelor’s degree which is in the field of Professional Technical Writing. Unlike beginning authors without training, I have a pretty good grasp on grammar and the technical parts of writing. I learned much of this in high school though and a small amount of it in college.

You don’t have to go to school to be a writer. Writing is a craft. Reading and writing will undoubtedly make you better. You just have to read books on the craft of writing and study hard on your own. Don’t just throw something together and think it will sell. You must edit and proofread meticulously.

Being in the Creative Writing MFA has put me in contact with some great influential writers. You can build similar contacts by going to writing workshops or joining groups.

Publishing houses and literary agents tend to take formally educated writers more seriously. If you can get some of your work published in magazines or anthologies, this will open doors for you.

You don’t need a degree or two like I have. You just need to write good stories, and send them to publishing houses and agents who will read them. If your work is good, the book deals will come.

This Year So Far as a Writer

This year has been one of the most successful and stressful for me as a writer. I am in my third semester of a Creative Writing MFA program that requires a bunch of reading and writing, I have done a poetry reading, gotten into a car accident, written a novella, published a novella, worked on several novels and short stories AND had a new baby this year named Zuri.  She’s lovely.

In February, I did my first poetry reading, compliments of The Poetry Foundation here in Chicago. Because I don’t view myself as a poet, the whole ordeal was stressful, but it was fun and it paid handsomely. As I stared out at the crowd from the podium, I stuttered a bit while wondering what I was really doing there. The reading was a complete success.

The MFA program has been kicking my ass daily. I have had to read August Wilson’s Century Cycle. Although the plays are insightful, having to answer questions about them has been overwhelming. I still have a 12-page paper due and I have to take two more tests before the semester ends. So far, I have gotten A’s on all the assignments.

My collection of literary fiction short stories “The Book of All Things Beautiful” is available for download on Amazon. Click the link or search my name, Jermaine Reed, and look for the book that has someone sitting with a red umbrella. You can’t miss it. The stories are wonderful.

My new Science Fiction novella “Operation Soul Cast” will be available for download or for print May 1, 2018. It is a wonderful story about minds being cast into different bodies and bloody outcomes.

My car accident has been a headache. I have two Nissan cars, and for some reason the insurance company has gotten them mixed up. It really boils my blood. It’s like they shoot me as much paperwork as they can to deter me from continuing my claim. But they won’t deter me.

As an up and coming writer, things have been rough. I don’t find time for writing. I MAKE time for writing. Life will give you every excuse to not write. You have to bypass the will to make excuses and write. Put words on the page.

Today, I hosted my fraternity Phi Rho Eta, Incorporated’s 9th Annual Mock Trial Competition. As the event’s coordinator, a position that consisted of finding participants, helping to raise money, finding a venue and all sorts of things, I nearly broke down. The anxiety almost had me. The event went well though. I would not have had it any other way.

I hope this piece helps someone find the courage to write their next line, next story, next novel.

#indieauthor #writer #selfpublish

How to Write a Book

Recently, I have been working my ass off, writing, finishing my MFA and going to school while also helping to raise my three daughters. The question I am constantly asked is, “How do you find time to write?”

I don’t find time. I make time. That’s the difference. Life will give you a million reasons why you have to put off writing. You’re busy. You’re eating. You’re working. Something came up. The list is endless. At some point, you have to find the resolve to say, fuck this. Today, at this time, for the rest of this month or year, I will write.

The one thing that all successful writers have in common is they write. They put words on thr page. Whenever someone declares, “This is the book that will make me rich,” they’re most likely wrong. And to the classics, the best sellers, we have all read them and thought, “Why this book? It is nothing spectacular.”

Most up and coming writers are too critical of themselves. They write and think, “This is trash.” Newsflash, all first drafts are trash. However, they are the foundation on which you build. In this way, think of your manuscript as the bones of a house. Editing and proofreading are the paint and construction that makes the house beautiful. It is not done with one draft. It’s done with many.

Anyways, my new book “The Book of All Things Beautiful” is temporarily available for free download on Amazon. Hurry. The offer expires soon. You can search my name, Jermaine Reed, on Amazon and the book will come up. Or follow the link below.

Thank you.