What inspired you to write your book?
I originally wrote a screenplay and after discovering Urban Literature from a book I read called Hoodlum by K’Wan. I began researching how to self-publish. I then converted my screenplay Crew Love into my first novel in 2009.
What is your favorite character /lesson in your book? Explain why?
My favorite character is Black Love, he is a Attorney turned Private Investigator. He is my favorite because he is the first character that I’ve written for since switching genres from Urban Fiction to Crime Fiction. I feel as though I’ve grown as a person and it reflects in my writing.
Who is the intended audience for your book?
Anyone who has a passion for the written word. My goal is to write fun, entertaining stories that anyone can relate to.
What do you want readers to take away or say about your book when done reading?
That was good! When is part two coming out?
Name a few of your favorite books.
Not sure if you meant that I’ve written or that I’ve read. I’ll go with what I’ve read. Off the top, I’d have to say Eric Jerome Dickey’s Gideon Series, A Wanted Woman (another Eric Jerome Dickey novel) and Policy Kings “An Informal History” by Nathan Thompson.
Who are some of the writers that have influenced your writing?
Donald Goines, Eric Jerome Dickey, K’Wan, Walter Mosley.
What are your thoughts on the publishing process and getting your book to market?
My thoughts, it’s most definitely a grind and although I have been doing this since 2009 I am still carving my niche.
Where is your book available?
Amazon.com or www.bleedingpenpublishing.com
You are also a graphic designer, how can someone look to get their Book cover designed reach you?
Just like purchasing one of my titles they can reach me at www.bleedingpenpublishing.com about getting a book cover done.
How can readers find out more about your book, upcoming titles, and events?
Recently, Baltimore has experienced the riots. The Hand I was Dealt is based in Baltimore. Explain why you chose to set the web series in Baltimore and what makes Baltimore a unique city?
We chose to shoot the web series in Baltimore because it’s a strong city and people there are always so alive. While shooting the final episode the riots began to break out and we actually got some footage of a few of the protest. Baltimore always shows us love so it’s only right that we show the same love back.
Baltimore, because Silk and I have done a lot of business in the Baltimore, we have owned bookstores and we also filmed Black Barbie in Baltimore as well. We’re both from NY but our heart belongs to the city of Baltimore. We know the city, so it’s easier for us to find the right locations. Also, throughout the show you will see a different side of Baltimore, we filmed everything in the city but you won’t see the row houses and dirty alleys, it’s more to see in Baltimore besides what everyone saw in “The Wire” & “The Corner”
It just so happens while we were shooting the very last scene of episode 10, we ran into the protesters, so we filmed a little bit of it and we will show that, not the riots but the peaceful protest. The world scene enough of the looting.
After years of writing, selling and publishing books, what made you venture into film?
Well we always wanted to do films and bring our stories to the big screen but some times its all about timing and i think now was the perfect time for The Hand I Was Dealt
Prior to filming this Web-series, Silk and I wrote and Directed 2 films (No Way Out and Black Barbie) and I wrote and directed a short film (The Naked Monster). The filming itch was there. My fans always told me they could envision my words. Lately the book industry has not been as lucrative as it was in the pass, so we are trying to put more energy into the film industry
How did the web series “The Hand I was Dealt” come about?
I had the script already done went and talked to my partner Tra Verdejo and we worked out all the details and a month later we had a finished product. We put in a lot of hours behind the scenes to make this project come to life.
Silk called and told me about the project, we were trying to figure out our next moves. We both have our own companies and projects but our work chemistry is straight magic so when he called me I was like I’m all in, let’s do it. Real talk when we were filming Black Barbie back in 2011, Silk had an idea about a web-series, the timing was right
How did you come to the decision to act in the web series as well as direct?
We felt that we needed to be the directors because no one knew the story line better than us and we knew exactly how things needed to play out and be shown on the screen. As far as acting it’s just something that we love to do and continue to get better at.
We are Bosses, so unless a big time Director comes along, we would handle it ourselves. No one knows your vision better than yourself. It’s the same attitude we had in the book game. We are independent with the mentality of a major company. The acting part is fun, but like Silk said we are getting better at it.
Is the web series an original script or based on any previous books? Characters?
This web series is an original script. Just wanted to give the people something fresh and new.
Silk wrote it as a web-series. We didn’t want people to compare it to anything or say the book is always better than the movie / web-series.
What was the biggest challenge getting the web series completed?
The biggest challenge in getting the web series done for me was getting everyone on the same schedule. With everyone being so busy everyone has to work on each other’s schedule and some times that can a hassle. Also finding these locations was a challenge
I agree with Silk, getting everything and everyone scheduled was crazy because we had people from NY, DE, MD, DC & VA. Also the promoting of the casting call making sure the right agencies knew about it so we could find the right actors.
What was your favorite scene shooting in episode 1 of the series? Why?
My favorite scene in episode 1 would have to be the opening scene with Macho and Missy that’s the scene that gets everything started.
My favorite part from Episode 1 was the whole Big Time scene, when he pulled up in the red car looking for Zoe. It just reminded me of the good old hustling days in the hood.
When will the second episode be released? How frequent and how many episodes in the series?
The second episode will air Tuesday 5/12/15 and an episode will be aired every Tuesday at 8PM
Watch episode 1. Additional Episodes will be shown here
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“Reach: 40 Black Men Speak on Living, Leading, and Succeeding,” edited by Ben Jealous and Trabian Shorters, foreword by Russell Simmons
c.2015, Atria $15.00 / $18.00 Canada 275 pages
Where do you go from here?
You’ve been looking at your life and everything around you, and that’s the question you’ve been asking: what next? What will you do with the rest of your days? In the new book “Reach,” edited by Ben Jealous and Trabian Shorters, foreword by Russell Simmons, you may find some guidance.
What you see is what you do.
That’s natural. Says Ben Jealous, “…imitation has always been the first step for those who achieve great things.” It’s easy to emulate positive behavior and success, once you see it done – which is what you’ll find in this book.
When D’Wayne Edwards was sixteen, he lost his beloved older brother. That, says Edwards, “really encouraged me to pay attention to my gift” of drawing and design. Realize your “true potential,” he advises.
Says actor Louis Gossett Jr.: learn that you can play Superman.
Shaka Senghor was still a teenager when he was sent to prison and “was on course to become the best predator I could be,” until journaling helped him look at his life and “the most absurd stuff you can imagine.” Write down your thoughts, he says. Read them and “understand that [they] have power.”
Read, says Dr. Eddie Connor. “We’ve got to promote books instead of prison bars…”
Ben Jealous advises taking risks. Learn math, says Emmanuel Cephas. Broadcasting executive Ron Davenport says to “Be in the room where the decisions are made.” Learn to fail, says aviator Barrington Irving, but don’t let it be an option. Name your future, says Van Jones. Become involved in politics, get an education, and cultivate empathy. Be financially literate, and promote entrepreneurship. Be a role model, and ask for mentors. Work collaboratively, and lift up future generations who come after you.
And above all, stay hopeful. Loss of hope, says Reverend Tony Lee, can “sabotage [your] faith.” Says Yusef Shakur, “without… hope, poverty becomes overwhelming.”
Says Senghor, “… hope, man – hope is the saving grace.”
Wow. Though it’s only a few ounces of paper and ink, “Reach” truly packs a punch.
There’s a lot of takeaway in this book, for starters. Editors Ben Jealous and Trabian Shorters invited 40 black men from all walks of life and achievement to tell their stories and share what helped them succeed. While it’s natural that there’d be some repetition, you’ll find dozens and dozens of short chapters to uplift and inspire.
I loved that in this book – but there was one thing that bears mentioning: pay attention, and you’ll start to notice that many authors here were raised in fatherless households. It truly struck me as further proof that there are no excuses not to succeed.
While I think anyone will be glad they read this book, I can definitely see it being a great gift for any young man on his way to high school, college, or post-college life. It will give him something to think about on his path to success. For him, “Reach” is a great book to have, wherever he goes.
“Letters to an Incarcerated Brother” by Hill Harper
c.2013, Gotham Books $27.50 / $29.00 Canada 400 pages
You figured you had a lock on things.
Sell or steal a little something. Hold for somebody, “borrow” a car, gain respect. Make a little money and it’d be all good, right?
Now that lock you had… has you. You’re in prison and it’s a whole new world in there, one you’re not sure you can survive. But when you read “Letters to an Incarcerated Brother” by Hill Harper, you’ll see that you have choices.
It’s no secret that there are more people in American prisons than ever before. “In less than thirty years,” says Harper,” our prison population has mushroomed.” But though statistics show that offenders are likely to return, Harper says “there is hope and there are solutions.” This book lays them out.
When Harper was contacted by an old friend who landed in “county,” he admitted to the young man that he “didn’t know what to say.” Harper believes himself to be a problem-solver. He had no answers that time, but he quickly discovered some.
First, he says, find mentorship. You can’t go it alone, so look for someone you want to make proud. Consider prison as a place to “make… tune-ups and adjustments” in your life, but remember that “you need to be prepared to change.”
Stay patient, even though it’s hard and even though you don’t always understand what’s to come. Sometimes, “it’s more important for you to simply understand you.” Learn to keep your mind free, even if your body is not.
Get as much education as you can: get your GED, look for college coursework that’s available to incarcerated students, and read. The time you spend in prison shouldn’t go to waste; use it to better your mind.
Stay in your children’s lives any way you can. Keep away from prison gangs and trouble; it’s only going to make things worse. Learn not to take things personally. Understand that real men do ask for help when they need it. Eliminate disrespectful words from your vocabulary, particularly in reference to women. Set goals. Learn to apologize and embrace change. Be a leader. And do not “micro-quit.”
In his introduction, author Hill Harper lays out several goals for this book: among others, to show the importance of education, to offer inspiration through example, and to explain how to “beat the odds and avoid returning” to jail.
Definitely, those goals are attained but that’s not all. Harper offers words of wisdom from influential contributors to support his ideas. There’s guidance here, help and resources, and he displays gentle patience, even deference, for his friend – but Harper’s nobody’s fool. He’s not afraid to call the man on his lies and half-truths, and he’s not afraid to show frustration. Such realism makes this one powerful book.
This isn’t just a reference for inmates, though. It’ll also be a great help for families, as well as a caution for boys who are headed for trouble. If that – or encouragement, sense, or inspiration – is what you need, “Letters to an Incarcerated Brother” has it locked up.