Category Archives: The 2nd Act!

LASHAUNDA HOFFMAN-Update!

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LASHAUNDA HOFFMAN

{LaShaunda has a new book out on how to  promote your business online

‘Building Online Relationships’ is available at SORMAG 

 LaShaunda Hoffman has been on fire for the last few months, forging new paths! Let’s talk about her journey!!

 

SORMAG has become a very recognizable name in the online promotion field? Tell us how you started and what has sustained you on this journey?

I started SORMAG – Shades Of Romance Magazine as a tribute to my favorite African American romance authors. I honestly didn’t think it would last as long as it has. We celebrate 15 years this September.

I wanted a place where readers could stop by and learn about the latest books and meet the writers who write them.   I decided an online magazine would be the perfect avenue for my dream. Inside the magazine we feature books, author interviews, and articles about the craft and business of writing. We have a little bit for the readers and those who write books.

My love of books and promoting them has been the driving force behind SORMAG. I truly believe there is a book for everyone and I’m making it my business to introduce readers to their book.

SORMAG is free digital magazine I invite you to become a subscriber.

http://bit.ly/1zudAdC

We also offer it in print format for a small fee. http://www.magcloud.com/user/sormag

LASHAUNDA HOFFMAN AND  BRENDA JACKSON

Tell us about Virtual Tea with LaShaunda? It sounds so inviting!

Online book promoting can be overwhelming at times. Virtual Tea with LaShaunda is my way to help writers in their book promoting journey. I offer private one on one session, or group sessions.

These are hands on training and you do a lot of work each week. Together we create a promotion plan that will help you reach new readers online.

If you would like to learn more about Virtual Tea with LaShaunda

http://conta.cc/1LMZP1P

A large part of promotion seems to include being an encourager, getting people to believe in themselves and their work. What are 3 tips you can give.

LASHAUNDA TEE C AND CURTIS BUNN

My first tip – Get Passed The Fear – Fear can stop you from doing a lot of things, writing, promoting, selling. It stopped me for years, until I realized I wasn’t doing what I loved. I was hiding behind the fear and not going after my dreams.

My second tip – Believe in your dream. Write it down, create a plan and do the work. Dreams can’t come true if you don’t do the work.

My third tip – Promote your book . No one can buy your book if they don’t know it exist. Don’t be afraid to tell people about your book.

 

Your hard work has made you promotion royalty. What advice do you have for people who are struggling with not becoming an immediate success?

Success takes time. Yes there are a few who have instant success, but for those who want to make a career of this. It takes time. Create a plan for your career. Know what success looks to you. What it looks like to someone else might not be the same for you. I had a hard time with that because I was looking at other’s success compared to mine. However God showed me the amazing things I’d done and I was a success because I was still here helping others. It was never about the money.

If success means lots of money for you, be prepared to do a lot more work to get to it. Remember that plan I was talking about. Set your money goals and work toward them. Don’t talk about it, DO IT.

LASHAUNDA BANNER

You will be joining the ranks of a published author soon. Tell us about your book. How does it feel to be on the other side of the promotion table?

Building Online Relationships – One Reader At A Time is my gift to writers who are struggling with their online promotion. These are the lessons I’ve learned while building SORMAG and my online presence. Each chapter is a lesson to help writers build a promotion plan to reach new readers daily.

I told you how I let fear stop me for many years. My dream has always been to be a published author. I’ve written a few fiction books, but the fear kept them in my closet. I started this book in 2011 and put it aside for a little while. My mother’s death reminded me that I wasn’t living my dream of being a published writer. She was my number one fan and I’d let fear keep me from letting her see my name in print. I promised myself that I would finish this book and kick fear in the butt.

I will admit I’m a nervous wreck about being on the side of promoting my own book, but I have my lessons and I’m doing them one at a time and I’m reminding myself daily that is dream I want and I have to do the work to see it come true.

Thank you Jeanette for this opportunity to share my experiences, if anyone has any questions, feel free to contact me – http://lashaundahoffman.com

LASHAUNDA HOFFMAN BONDING THRU BOOKS

LaShaunda C. Hoffman took her love for books and turned it into an award winning online magazine, Shades of Romance Magazine. Her mission in life is to introduce as many books as she can to readers. She’s happily married mother of three who believes in dreams and working hard to achieve them.

Catch her online: lchwriter@gmail.com SORMAG – http://sormag.blogspot.com, See Ya On The Net, her personal site – http://lashaundahoffman.com , Facebook -facebook.com/lashaunda.hoffman or Twitter – lashaundaH.

TIA ROSS-A True Renaissance Woman!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA[UPDATE: BLACK WRITERS WRITE TIME RETREAT is happening in Palm Springs, CA,  July 14-16! Find out more information at BlackWritersEvents.]

 

Tia Ross is a Renaissance woman with an impressive range of skills and diverse experience across multiple vocations. She has a 17-year track record of delivering stellar results across enterprise, nonprofit, academic, and government sectors. Her primary areas of focus and interest involve information architecture, IA design, web content optimization, technical documentation, and communications design. She also specializes in event planning and production.

Tia owns and manages three companies: PenTechnical, a small freelance technical communications agency; Boss Meetings & Events, an independent event planning company; and Black Writers Events, a legacy-defining series of conferences and retreats. Through legendary events such as Black Writers Reunion & Conference, Tia has empowered countless individuals with the knowledge, skill, and confidence to pursue their dreams of becoming authors, playwrights, screenwriters, publishers, and literary entrepreneurs since 2000.

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Tia holds an arts degree in writing and an applied science degree in computer information systems–software and database programming. Tia’s early work as an editor earned her a nod from Writer’s Digest Magazine in 2003 as one of the “Top 37 Book Doctors in the U.S.” and a 2008 NAACP Image Award for best nonfiction book along with countless bestseller awards for her clients. She was recognized with a series of “Best Website” awards for web design and content architecture, including twice winning a spot on the Writer’s Digest Magazine “Best 101 Websites” list. Tia was awarded the Platinum Page Award for being most instrumental in contributing to the lives and careers of African-American writers and literary entrepreneurs, chosen as a Woman of Influence in Publishing by Written Magazine, and nominated for an Influential Black Women in Business Award for her work in the literary community.

Born in Los Angeles, Tia grew up between southern California and northeast Texas, where she picked up a rather authentic “Southern Belle” accent and lost the “Valley Girl.” An audiophile with an undying affinity for hi-fi audio, she’s into cycling, swimming, traveling, and adores spending leisure time at the beach. She is “Mom” to two awesome young men.

Let’s see what’s going on with Tia…

You created the Black Writer’s Reunion Conference (BWRC), the most successful writer’s conferences for African American writers and authors. Tell us how you came up with the concept and how you implemented it so successfully?

Memphis Vaughan Jr. of TimBookTu.com and I first toyed around with the idea of a writer’s conference for our online communities in the late 90s. I’d just formed the first 501c3 literary arts association to organize online for Black writers and he was featuring up-and-coming authors on his site (and still is, 17 years later). I thought it was too soon to launch the event. A year later, members of my organization wanted a meet-up, and Charene Thornton, one of the members, began coordinating the event in Atlanta. I felt that if we were going to dedicate valuable time and resources to it, then we needed to also incorporate education, book promotions, contests, and other key conference components. BWRC TIA TERRENCE 2001We were already this big, very close-knit family of writers by that time, so I gave it the name “Reunion & Conference” to acknowledge the family gathering as an equally important component of the event. Its success was borne from the fact that it was, and continued to be, a collective family effort in support of the vision I shared with them and our mission to continue to build upon the nurturing community we all cherished.

You are a master at networking and negotiating, both valued skills. When working on a project with so many variable components, how do you determine which people will be a fit?

It’s become kind of intuitive for me now, but I learned to look at people’s track records. Their brands speak volumes. What have they been doing to support fellow writers to date? Are they already contributing members of our community, networks or extended networks? What do they expect in return for their contribution? How supportive are they of fellow writers or are they in it simply for self-gratification? How have they treated people who’ve come to them for help? The answers tell the tale and make it easy to identify those whose motives mesh with the organization’s goals and mission and to weed out those whose don’t. Someone who strictly wants to make money off of us will not fit in.

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Bringing writers together brings with it the inherent possibilities of egos going viral. How did you manage to keep this to a minimum while cultivating a spirit of camaraderie?

I simply don’t cater to egos. I treat everyone as equals, and I extend to new speakers and workshop facilitators the same respect and gratitude that I extend to those who’ve been with us since the very beginning. I’ve never bought into the belief that we need so-called “big name/V.I.P.” authors for our events to be successful. Writers do not attend our events to meet anyone who is only there because they were paid to be and otherwise has no interest in them or their writing dreams and goals. People come to Black Writers Events’ conferences, retreats, and workshops to learn, to be inspired to take their talents for writing seriously, to be enlightened on how to nurture and develop those gifts and be profitable, to find and build support systems, and to be empowered on the spot by those who have the knowledge and are present because they want to give back and serve as teachers and leaders within an organization that supports them in return. These are the true VIPs to me . . . without any airs. When there is a noticeable, distinct lack of pretense and arrogance at our gatherings, camaraderie and fellowship naturally ensue.

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What do you believe the BWRC conference accomplished and what do you see as the next level movement?

BWRC was all-encompassing of the best of what one hopes to find when s/he attends a writers’ conference. Tananarive Due said it best when she said BWRC offered “the kind of organization and nurturing available to African-American writers that has been available to white writers for years.” For some reason Black writers had lowered standards when it came to events by us and for us, as if we expected schedules to run late, equipment to be broken, conference materials and handouts to be poorly put together, meager menu offerings of primarily high-cholesterol, high-calorie finger foods, and for our events to be hosted at 1- or 2-star venues where the bill hadn’t been paid before we arrived. TIA BWRC sessionBWRC changed the game by making top-notch event production at world-class hotels and resorts the new standard without gouging attendees’ pockets. The next level can only dictate that Black writers and readers demand the highest standards across the board for all events we patronize. One of my favorite quotes: “The minute you settle for less than you deserve, you get even less than you settled for.” I apply this to everything in life, and specifically with regard to black writers conferences I’d add another favorite: “Never settle for less…even if you have to wait a while.”

What do you mean by “wait a while”? Is there something else over the horizon for BWRC?

One of the main reasons I stepped down from BWRC was due to the workload. Finding venues and producing outstanding conferences requires significant amounts of time and energy, and when you’re raising two sons, working a day job plus moonlighting as a freelancer, and trying to effectuate new career and business endeavors through a degree plan course of study, something has to give. I was overwhelmed, so I stepped back from the conference. The late, beloved Gwynne Forster praised the conferences since the beginning, continually encouraging me to keep supporting emerging black writers no matter what and, as I fully expected, I dearly miss the camaraderie of the Black Writers family. So, I am working on creating new events that are less labor- and resource-intensive and require less capital to produce but are equally rewarding for all involved. I’m also relaunching Black Writers Alliance with plans to offer structured critique groups, literary support services and other membership benefits for published and professional writers, editors, publishers, to name a few, and those who aspire to be. The door is open with various opportunities for interested individuals to get involved on the “ground floor” posted at BlackWriters.org.

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To find out more about Tia or Black Writers see below:

Tia Ross:

http://tiaross.com / http://linkedin.com/in/tiaross / http://twitter.com/tia_ross / http://plus.google.com/+tiaross

Black Writers: 

http://blackwriters.org / http://twitter.com/blackwriters / https://plus.google.com/+BlackwritersOrgEvents / http://facebook.com/blackwritersevents

 

 

DAMITA SHANKLIN-Making History Engaging the Community

Damita Shanklin the founder and publisher of Ujima Magazine. UJIMA is an online magazine that focuses on the Black community in Austin, Texas. Ujima has served the community for six years. Our purpose it to tell stories of the “everyday hero” who can then inspire others.

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GREETINGS!

You have such a heart for people. I am not surprised that you are doing exactly what you do! So let’s get started…

What was the impetus for starting UJIMA magazine?

My background is in Social Work. I did casework for 17 years. I came to a point where I wanted to do something different. At the time, I was given the opportunity to work for the NOKOA Newspaper and that is where I discovered I liked writing stories about people and what they were doing. After looking at the magazines available, I noticed there was not a magazine that highlighted the Black community and there was not a magazine that had a Black person on the cover every month. I wanted to share stories of people doing positive things and making a difference. I want our society to know that we, as a Black community, have dreams, we are educated, we have fun , but most of all I wanted Austin and the surrounding communities to see the positive gifts we share that make up the community we live in. We have something to give and my goal is to inform people about those gifts and dreams.

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Who should read/subscribe to UJIMA magazine? How can they benefit from it?

When I started the magazine, I wanted it to be a place for our Black community to learn about each other, get ideas and know about people who make the community grow and flourish. I still want that. But I now want the magazine to reach anyone interested in people and what is happening in the Black community. The benefit of reading or subscribing to Ujima is you always learn something new about someone in our community as well as resource information that may be beneficial to you or your family. Ujima also has many voices from writers who speak about certain issues that surround our communities. These issues range from technology, finding your passion, beauty, self-reflection, entertainment and more.

 

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How have you seen the industry change in the last few years? How have you adapted?

Publishing and media has changed over the last years in general. Many well known magazine have stopped printing and have moved to the online world. I can’t tell you all the stories of how Ujima has adapted and continues to adapt to the changes. Ujima was a printed magazine until April of 2014.   This was a very difficult decision but it had to be made. We are now online and I am very happy with how well Ujima is doing. Our readership has grown tremendously as well as our hits to the site. But we still work hard at following our mission and make sure we provide good information and introduce people that continue to make an impact in our community.

UJIMA MAG COVER 2 SHAMETRASuccess comes in cycles, when you are experiencing a down cycle or challenge, what steps do you take to get through it?

To get through difficult times I pray. I then look at the issue and decide what my options are to move ahead. I speak with my team and then make a final decision as to how I will proceed. I like to really take time to make a plan and move forward. But what gets me through is I know I can’t give up. It is not an option for me to allow Ujima Magazine to disappear. People think that if you aren’t making a lot of money or being seen, you are not doing anything valuable. I believe you can’t give up because it is not what other people feel you should be doing or what they feel is success. You have to continue to do what works for you and if you feel you are contributing to this world and making a positive difference it is success to me. Always do what feels right to you because you will not be happy living up to someone else’s idea of what should and should not be. (Ok, I’m off my soapbox now)

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  1.   What do you consider your most significant accomplishment?

  My biggest accomplishment is having a magazine that has been      around for six years and making it work.

 

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a magazine like    UJIMA?

I don’t know about advice, because I started this magazine without any training just the love of writing and people. But I will say if you do decide to do a magazine or any type of business don’t ever give up on that dream. If you have to start small and grow, do just that. People will get into your head but always go with your gut and surround yourself with people who support you because the negativity will bring you down. Live your dream. Be your dream.What’s next for UJIMA?

The plans for Ujima is to continue our online presence and make it the best online magazine it can be. We will start taping our Ujima TV again soon and I will also begin doing my podcast in the near future. So look for those things in the future. Ujima will remain a positive presence in the community and ensure we tell stories that are positive, inspirational and impactful.

Contact info:

Ujima Magazine — https://ujimamagazine.wordpress.com/

Facebook.com/UjimaMagazine

Twitter  @UjimaMagazine

My email is Damita@Ujimamagazine.com

I appreciate this opportunity to let you know about Ujima Magazine. I hope you visit our site and join in our conversation.

 


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TONI SIMMONS HENSON-Our Stories, Our Voices! Revisited!

 

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The 2016 Atlanta Black Theatre Festival will be held in October, visit http://atlantabtf.org/ for more information!

LISTEN TO WHAT TONI HAS TO SAY:

Theatre Producer, Toni Simmons Henson grew up in Hillside, NJ in the backyard of Broadway. Her passion for theatre stems back as early as when she was 8 years old when she and her sister, Wanda Simmons, the writer and age 9, produced plays in their backyard and basement for neighborhood kids.
In 2004, Henson became the Executive Director of Drama Kids of Princeton. Drama Kids is the US franchise of the Helen O’Grady Acting Academy.

ABTF TONI Jared Brodie

The Australian based academy is the largest children’s acting academy in the world. In just a few short years, under her tenure, the Academy enrolled over 750 students and produced over 80 plays and presentations. The program grew to five locations and two summer camps. The explosive popularity of the program attracted national publicity including articles in Entrepreneur Magazine and the cover of the Princeton Packet Weekend Magazine. Henson received two awards for distinguished achievement.

In 2007, Henson moved to Atlanta and founded Micah 6-8 Media, LLC. Under that company, she produced two hit plays entitled Once Upon a Dream by Khristi  Adams and Big Girls Gotta Eat, Too! by Melissa  Blackmon and Wanda Simmons.  Big Girls Gotta Eat, Too! toured four cities and was a part of the 2012 DC Black Theatre Festival.

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In 2012, Henson founded the Atlanta Black Theatre Festival where over 200 artists perform 40 plays in four days. This annual event attracts thousands of theatre lovers from 24 states and three countries.  In 2014, Micah 6-8 Media, LLC was nominated and awarded first runner up as Emerging Business of the Year by the DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce for the Festival’s “significant contribution to economic development and community impact.”

The festival hosts an annual event gala that has honored theatre legends such as Taurean Blacque, Melba Moore, Pearl Cleage, Alia Jones-Harvey and American Theater Hall of Famer, Woodie King, Jr.

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Henson holds a B.B.A. from Howard University and an M.P.A from New York University. She has been married for 25 years to Antonio Henson, V.P. of PNC Bank and together they have four children.

The 2015 Atlanta Black Theatre Festival is October 8th-11th. To find out more about the festival go to

www.atlantabtf.org

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STACY HAWKINS ADAMS-Author, Speaker, Coach

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A little bit about Stacy Hawkins Adams–she is an award-winning author, journalist and book coach who weaves tales in fiction and nonfiction that help readers gain confidence in their own stories. She has penned eight faith-based novels that highlight women’s friendships, personal growth and unconditional love, and one nonfiction devotional book. Her recent novels include “The Someday List,” “Lead Me Home” and an anniversary edition of the acclaimed “Watercolored Pearls.” Stacy also serves as the parenting columnist for the daily newspaper in Richmond, Va. and is a sought-after speaker. Her tenth book is slated for release in fall 2015.
Stacy Hawkins Adams ComingHome Cover
Let’s hear what Stacy has on her mind…
You have been a successful author for a while now. How have the changes in the publishing industry impacted your career? What is the hardest writing career decision you have made?

Thank you for featuring me, Jeanette. I’m honored to share my work with your audience, and also that you’ve followed my writing journey so faithfully over the years.
In answer to your question, I’ve found the changes in the publishing industry since my first book was published in 2004 to be exciting. The explosion of social media gave me and other authors a new way of connecting with our readers, in addition to traditional book signings and book club events, and that has been wonderful. The rise of ebooks was unfamiliar territory, but has turned out to be a great avenue for reaching new readers, and for creating a venue for self-publishing that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible. I am among the many traditionally-published authors (with agents and contracts with publishing houses) who is also delving into the self-publishing arena with a few projects; so it has been great to explore and benefit from both paths.

The hardest writing career decision I’ve made so far has been one that I haven’t regretted: Limiting my author travel in favor of being a fully present mom. Because my family and I live in an area with no extended family, I made a decision early on in my career to limit frequent travels to promote my books until my children were older. I do travel some, especially in the four-to-five-state region around Virginia, where I live; but I try not to be airport-bound for at least six weeks at a time. I might have made a different decision if my parents or in-laws were living close by to assist with their care, but my daughter was 6 and my son was 3 when my first novel was published, and I wanted to enjoy that season of their lives, as well as the many that have followed. In the early years of my career, they traveled to many author events with me. As they’ve grown and their important school and extracurricular activities have limited their free time on weekends, I’ve altered my schedule to be a supportive mom, while also doing my best to connect with my beloved readers. But “mom duty” has taken precedence, and I have no regrets about that choice. Being able to connect with readers on Facebook and Twitter, and through my author newsletters and special events has been a wonderful way to stay in touch with them, and when my “babies” fly the coop, so will I! Lol

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With the many challenges and changes in the publishing industry, do you find yourself redefining your definition of success?

Yes! Like many new authors, I started out with a definition of success that didn’t include anything less than having all of my books chart the New York Timesbestsellers list. Over the years, however, I’m come to realize that success for me actually means reaching as many readers as I who can who will be empowered and transformed by the words I’ve written. By that standard, success is achieved every time a reader emails me, or shares with me at an event how she (or he) made a better choice, or renewed their hope, or re-established a relationship after reading one or more of my books. It’s humbling and amazing. These days I still aim for that New York Times status, mind you! But if I’m raising healthy and happy children, doing work I love, and feel confident that my written and spoken words are making a positive and powerful difference, then I am blessed.

The message of hope in your books is almost like a ministry of sorts. Do you find that in today’s society where people are almost overwhelmed with negativity, that people are still receptive to the concept of hope?

Yes, I do find that people still crave words of hope, and they often tell me that the ones I share reach them at just the right time. I think the message of hope is still relevant because many people are overwhelmed with negativity and with pressure in our society to be “all that” – rich, famous, beautiful and perfect. I do my best to share themes, plots and characters that remind readers that despite the difficult or challenging places life sometimes brings us to, there are ways to push through, and there are God-sent earthly angels to walk with them. I think words of hope also remind others that even when they feel like they’re the only ones going through something, they’re not, and that can be encouraging.

Stacy Hawkins Adams Some Day List pixBeing a master at multi-tasking, how do you manage your various writing, speaking and coaching activities while maintaining a busy schedule with your family?

It is indeed a challenge, but when you’re doing something you’re passionate about, and that you believe is truly making a difference, it doesn’t feel burdensome. I just do my best to prioritize each day what needs to come first and what will have the most impact, and then pray for patience from others and for grace with the rest. I also don’t do all of these things at once! If I’m in a book-writing season, I’m likely doing very little public speaking; and I only teach my six-week teleconference courses twice a year, for example.

There are many people can’t wait to publish their bestseller, in your coaching sessions how do present the writing industry in a realistic light?

I tell them the truth about the competition in getting published by a traditional publisher and also the odds stacked against them as a self-published author. I give them info on how many books are published each year, and sometimes each month. There’s a lot being published! We talk about the realities of being a writer and also needing to wear the marketing and business hats. Even so, I tell them to follow their hearts and write the best books they can, for whatever audiences they’re meant to reach. The rest will come as their schedules and personal efforts allow.

What do you want to be your literary legacy?

Wow, what a great question. I guess I’d like to be remembered as an encourager – through the written word (my books and other writings), through the spoken word (my speaking endeavors, personal coaching and mentoring) and through my deeds as an author, journalist and writing coach.  I hope I’ll be remembered for writing books that helped readers find joy in their journeys and grow into the people God called them to be.

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What can our readers look for from Stacy Hawkins Adams in 2015?

In addition to re-releasing my very first three novels in ebook form this year (Speak To My Heart, Nothing But the Right Thing and Watercolored Pearls), I’m also writing a couple of short stories that will be released in ebook form. And my 10th book – the third novel in the Winds of Change series – is slated for release in the fall. So I’m spending a lot of time in my “writing cave,” and while Watercolored Pearls is already available for purchase, I can’t wait to share these other projects with readers.

 

 

Learn more about Stacy and her body of work at www.StacyHawkinsAdams.com and connect with her at www.Facebook.com/StacyInspires or www.Twitter.com/SHAdams.

 

The Front Porch Divas!  Distinguished. Intelligent. Vivacious. Ageless.

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You will know one when you see one!

A Front Porch Diva is smart, confident and strong. These women are over forty and fabulous! They may be of a certain age but the calendar neither defines or constrains them.

Divas come in all shapes, sizes and shades and have a swag uniquely their own. They love God, their families and their pleasure of choice. A Diva has a caring nature, a giving spirit and an understanding heart but don’t let her soul skills fool you. she  recognizes bull when she hears it!
From Type A personalities to textbook introverts, they still rock. Blessed with a healthy dose of mother wit nothing gets past these ladies. When it comes to the business of others, the Divas have mastered how to hear and not hear, see and not see, speak and not speak…and they keep more secrets than the CIA-unless someone is at risk. Then all bets are off.

Some may be described as classy, some sassy and even sexy. She can also be all three…at the same time.

Think Angela Bassett, Michelle Obama, Lisa Price, Mara Brook Akil, Carla Harris

Get the picture? I’m sure that you know a few Front Porch Divas.

Maybe you are one?

2015 UPU Conference- A Game Changer !

Whew! Urban Playwrights United Conference! Every year I say that the annual Urban Playwrights (UPU) United Conference can’t be topped and yet, every year turns out better than the previous year. 6th UPU Conference in 2015 was  no exception! Warning: This is NOT a “sit back and relax your on vacation” type of conference. Attendees hit the ground running! Many are warned weeks before to rest up!

The conference this year came with a special surprise! National touring playwright/promoter, Angela Dunlap was in attendance for the entire conference. She even sponsored a synopsis contest with the prize being the opportunity for the writer(s) to create a full script which she would consider producing!!

Our other special guest was the UPU perennial favorite, actor DeEtta West from UPTV and AspireTV! (Watch her most recent Christmas movie this Sunday night (12/13) on UPTV!

 

Not only did we reunite with old UPU friends and colleagues but we met new ones. Playwrights and producers from Michigan, Ohio, Rhode Island, North Carolina, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Texas descended on Columbia the capitol city of South Carolina for a four day information-fest covering the craft of playwriting, fine points of directing, successful producing, effective networking and marketing techniques.

The Thursday afternoon opening included and overview of the national organization of urban playwrights, directors and producers but quickly moved into a mini-course on developing multiple streams of income including a dynamic presentation by founder, visionary Vanessa Lynn on how to ‘write for hire’. Following this presentation was UPU Board member, Professor Ursula Robinson’s dynamic ‘Directors Intensive’ workshop where we learn in depth methods of not only directing our work but how to get the  most out of our actors.

The highly anticipated and competitive Two-Minute Play Competition team assignments were made next. This exercise teaches the attendees to work with others and about collaboration. Each team is composed of a producer, writer, director, technical director and marketing manager. They have approximately forty-eights hours to write, market and produce a two-minute play. If you don’t believe that the competition was fierce, check out the promos, pictures, videos and posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Assistant Principal Robyn Rease-Burdette, conducted early morning coffee groups about faith and theater and Art in public schools.

The conference included several field trips. One was a tour of Walk on Water (WOW) Productions studio, managed by UPU members Tangie Brickhouse-Beaty and Donna Johnson where additional workshops were conducted including one on Marketing and Budgeting by Tangie Brickhouse-Beaty.

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Winston-Salem State University professor Andre Minkins covered the difference between musical theater and music in theater, children’s theater and one person shows  including audience participation.

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UPU’s version of Shark Tank Pitch with panelists DeEtta West, Gail Lyles and Angela Dunlap.  The field trips continued to South Carolina Educational Television and to Township Auditorium where manager Aundrai Holloway gave a presentation on touring theater productions and negotiating power.

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Saturday was spent on the campus of the gracious South Carolina State University with a very informative presentation on Small Business Development by Charles Robinson, who explained that the creatives in attendance were in business and how the Small Business Develop Centers can help in establishing their businesses started on the right foot.

 

 

DeEtta West and yours truly discussed the power of effective networking and how positioning yourself can benefit one’s career.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arizona cultural theater takes the stage

Image-from-Borderlands-Theater-500x333Milta Ortiz, moved to Tucson with her husband solely to write the documentary drama play titled Más, about the banning of Mexican-American studies in the Tucson Unified School District.

Ortiz, Borderland Theater’s marketing and outreach director, is passionately working with her husband, Marc Pinate, the theater’s producing director, to bring the theater centerstage to new audiences in Southern Arizona.

Borderlands Theater has undergone various changes since being founded 30 years ago by Barclay Goldsmith. But the emphasis of the theater has always been on the border voice and telling native stories, a mission that continues to thrive under Pinate’s direction.

The proximity between Mexico and Arizona has continually had a distinct influence on the culture and people of this state, and it is this culture that has distinctly begun to shape the performing arts in the southwest.

Niche regional theaters continue to establish giving voice to community members and often minority groups in cities around the country. As the Penumbra Theater gives voice to the African-American community in Minnesota, Borderlands Theater gives voice the Hispanic and Latino community in Arizona.

Más debuted as the first play for Borderlands Theater’s 2015 season. The play brought together people of all ages and cultures, which was unique for the theater whose typical patrons are liberal retired white individuals.

“We are now really interested in targeting that younger population, that hip audience and of course the Latino audience,” said Ortiz, “For very complicated reasons they are not going to the theater so our mission is to say the theater is for you, it is about you, you can partake in the theater experience.”

For more information on Borderlands Theater, visit borderlandstheater.org and to read the full story written by Morrena Villanueva visit  Arizona Cultural Theater Takes Stage .

#arizonatheater #culturaltheater #Mas #borderlandstheater #morrenavillanueva #jeanettehill #jwhillproduction #theater #ourstoriesyourvoice #arizonasonoranews

Jeanette Hill

JW Hill Production

 

VAL GRAY WARD IN ONE WOMAN SHOW AT LOGAN SQUARE

        **ONE NIGHT ONLY**

LOGAN CENTER FOR THE ARTS PRESENTS ACTRESS/PRODUCER

VAL GRAY WARD IN ONE WOMAN SHOW

MY SOUL IS A WITNESS

Homecoming Performance Sunday, November 1, 2015 at Logan Center

**ONE NIGHT ONLY**

val_grayward“Actress, producer, cultural activist and internationally known theater personality Val Gray Ward headlines the one-woman show, “My Soul is a Witness,” for one night only in a dramatic homecoming performance Sunday, November 1, 2015. “My Soul is a Witness” will feature the works of James Weldon Johnson, Langston Hughes, Mari Evans, Richard Wright and other African American literary giants, 17 characters, music and love poetry. This special performance is presented by the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts in partnership with the DuSable Museum of African American History. It will take place at 5:30 pm at the Logan Center, located at 915 E. 60th Street. General admission is $20/$10 students; $5 discount for groups of 10 or more. Tickets may be purchased at tickets.uchicago.edu  or by calling 773-702-ARTS.”

Star Studded special guests are musical director and arranger Robert “Baabe” Irving and Emmy Award-winning vocalist Joan Collaso. Ward will be introduced by renowned poet Sonia Sanchez and welcomed home by Julieanna Richardson of The Historymakers.

“Val Gray Ward has made major contributions to the cultural life of Chicago and America through her work as dramatist, founder and principal creative force behind the Kuumba Theatre,” said Bill Michel, executive director of the Logan Center. “We are delighted to welcome her back home to Chicago by sponsoring this special presentation.”

For full story Val Gray-Ward One Women Show

 

#valgrayward #theatre #chicagotheatre #onewomenshow #jwhillproductions

Don’t Call Me Brother! Wins at the Atlanta Black Theatre Festival

Austin area Playwright wins Atlanta Black Theatre Festival award for her Black Lives Matter themed play!

 

DON'T CALL ME BROTHER!
DON’T CALL ME BROTHER!

Multiple-award winning playwright Jeanette Hill has garnered another award. This time for the Festival Favorite Award Best Reader’s Theatre Series for her black lives matter themed play, ‘Don’t Call Me Brother!’ at the 2015 Atlanta Black Theatre Festival (ABTF) held at the historic Morehouse College from October 8th through the 11th.

Jeanette Hill is the founder and executive director of JWHill Productions LLC, a creative arts organization. JWHill Productions LLC uses the stage to tell original stories depicting the resilience of the African American people, spirit and culture. This is Ms. Hill’s fourth award in the last three years for her plays.

The Atlanta Black Theatre Festival is fast becoming one of the premier outlets for quality black theater for audiences, actors and playwrights across the nation. In its fourth year, guided by executive director, Toni Simmons Henson, it continues to grow in both numbers and quality of productions. The 2015 Atlanta Black Theatre Festival received submissions from forty-two states and two countries.

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Ms. Hill was honored to have AspireTV, whose principal owner is Ervin ‘Magic’ Johnson as the presenting sponsor for her staged reading and panel discussion. The play’s theme resonated with AspireTV because of its timely and relevant subject matter. ASPiRE is dedicated to deliver enlightening and entertaining programming to African-American families that reflect positive images of the African-American community.

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The staged reading was followed by an informative panel discussion, ‘The Conversation We Need to Have’. The panelists included -National Order of Black Law Enforcement (NOBLE) member Rafiq Ahmad, Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Labor, Office of the Inspector General Atlanta Regional Office; Timothy Tukes, a junior at Morehouse College and a 2015 All-Star Student Ambassador for the White House Initiative on HBCUs; Andre Minkins, Associate Professor at Winston-Salem State University; Reemo Rod, actor, co-owner of 3511 Media; Trebor Randle, Special Agent in Charge Georgia Bureau of Investigation-Child Fatality Review Unit and playwright Jeanette Hill. Clark Atlanta University instructor Eric J. Little, actor, director and writer moderated the panel.

Don’t Call Me Brother! addresses the impact of current events on individuals who carry the dual citizenship of being African American and working in law enforcement.

‘Don’t Call Me Brother!’ is the story of recently promoted Assistant Police Chief Andrew Merritt, whose close ties to the police force and to the black community come into question with the suspicious death of a black youth by a police officer, he is at a crossroad. Where is his loyalty? Each side wonders if they can trust him? More importantly, who can he trust?

It takes an amazing group of talented actors to bring a story to life and the ‘Brother’ cast did just that!

Derrell Lester, Eddie Oliver, Curt Keller Williams, Schelle Purcell, Tiffany Roberts (director), Kelvin Rowe, Noah Artis and Stephanie J. Williams.

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Testimonials!

What people are saying about ‘Don’t Call Me Brother!:

“This play captures exactly both the internal and external challenges that African Americans in executive law enforcement positions live with everyday. ”

     Patrick Ockletree, Assistant Chief, Austin Police Department

 

“Especially enjoyed the way the family dynamic was shown in the play. We seldom think about the impact these situations have on police officers of color. ”

         Earline Carter

This play should be seen in every major city in the United States!

Steve Savage, KAXI-FM Community Radio Station Manager

“Don’t Call Me Brother! is a voice carrying a message that some may have missed. It encourages us all to think critically about our role in creating the change we want to see in our community.”

Charles Robinson, Director Travis County Adult Probation

 

 

Jeanette Hill can be contacted at jwhill@jwhillproductions.com

 

 

www.jwhillproductions.com