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Writers’ Tools – Visit With Roz
  • Writers' Tools

    Writers’ Tools

    An important storytelling tool for authors is the book’s cover art. It should be part of the story. What do we want it to say? When someone picks up the book and looks at the cover, it should be an introduction to the story and an invitation to learn more. The prospective reader then examines the back cover. The blurb on the back cover should be a compelling statement of what your book is about. The statement should be as pointed and concise as you can make it in the small space available. In the section about the author, briefly tell what you want readers to know about you.

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    My Writing Life

    There are certain questions I always get from readers and last week during the Ask Me Anything event I was asked, where do I get my story ideas. As with most writers, my ideas come from (1) examination of my world view on a particular subject or event, (2) observation of how a person or group interprets and acts on everyday events and (3) consideration of ideas, events and actions I wonder about.

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    writing about family

    Discovering your family’s past is empowering. You may be opening the door on a mystery or solving a puzzle, while also giving strength to your personal identity. For African Americans, the search often slows or stops when reaching back to the time of enslavement. There are ways, however, to pierce this seemingly impenetrable curtain. Some of the southeastern states, most of those that fought for the confederacy, still have limited records, e.g. South Carolina. Check the websites in these states and some of the cities. My great grandfather who was born into slavery in Cheraw, SC, ended up in Apalachicola, FL, before migrating with his family to Battle Creek, MI.…

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    Author Events

    Since the beginning of the year, I’ve participated in three author events; two writing workshops and a three-member author panel. They were lively and valuable discussions. Participants had many questions. One of the questions pertained to sharing drafts. Do I share my drafts with others for feedback during the writing stage? I don’t share my drafts because I’m not comfortable with that process. It is okay, however, if the author is honestly looking for constructive feedback and can trust the person or group providing the feedback. Some of us may interpret any feedback as rejection. I’m not sure, but I may be one of them. Periodically, I’ll share additional questions…

  • black author of tj sloane roz johnson giving a talk
    TJ Sloane,  Writers' Tools

    Book Event June 6

    Hey Team, On Sunday, June 6, 2021 at 2:00 p.m., we’re having a zoom discussion of my latest book, T.J. Sloane. Registration is free and a link will be provided prior to the event. We’ll be discussing T.J.’s life, issues and fears. Ask me anything about T.J. Sloane, my previous books or my life as a writer. Receive my email updates by joining list HERE

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    Can I See Him?

    As I tell my story I have a picture of the character in my head. I see him move about his home or job or making a point during a conversation with a friend. I melt at his smile and feel his displeasure. But, is my reader seeing him as I do? Does the reader see his closely cut hair? His coffee-brown color? How the color of his eyes changes when he makes love? This is a huge undertaking. Huge. How can I best achieve this goal? Here are a few tools I use. (1) When I first call up a character, I name him or her. Then I begin…

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    Introducing Characters

    Since beginning my literary career, it has become more difficult to just sit and enjoy a book with a box of cheezits or bowl of nuts. I, now, constantly examine the techniques authors use in telling their stories: character development, time passage, plot development, scene description, etc. After reading Toni Morrison’s JAZZ for the third time, I discovered more of her brilliance. The technique she uses to capture the essence of her main character at the very beginning of the story is by having a storyteller describe, to someone, the character’s actions (story within a story). These actions reveal the character’s state of mind. When we meet Violet, described running down snow-swept Lenox…

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    Have You Started?

    How’s that writing project going? You remember, the one you resolved to begin: the essay, poem, song, novel, biography, picture book. Are you following your plan? Do you even have a plan? I cannot overstate the importance of planning. A plan tells the story of your goal. Each step of the plan is a chapter filled with purpose and action. A well-prepared plan lights the way to your goal, step by step. It fosters development of necessary skills and habits. Your plan must be tight, legal, ethical and comport with your belief system and societal standards. Lax planning gives you an out when times get tough. With a plan you…

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    Your History (cont’d)

    as continued from THIS POST As you record your family’s history, remember to tell the stories of the institutions that enriched your journey and how they affected your life. If you don’t provide the historical record of these institutions, then others may attempt to do so without complete and authentic information. For my people it was necessary for our survival to create institutions that eased our struggle for equal rights and forward movement. Tell your story of the secondary schools that prepared students for their next level, whether it was the work-world or higher education. The HBCUs, many which continue to deliver superb performance, educated the majority of the black…

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    Book Clubs

    Through my interaction with book clubs, I learned often clubs emphasize different types of books. Some specialize in historical, ethnic, female-only, biographies, non-fiction/fiction, political, social issues or other single-theme works. However, I believe it broadens the readers if they sometimes go outside their normal themes. For instance, for those groups who may read only books by female authors, why not read a work by a male author and discuss how women are portrayed in another cultural context. (Memoirs of a Geisha, by Arthur Golden or A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini). For those groups that specialize in historical works, try reading the biography of an important person whose life impacted historical…