The Publishing World

 

 

I would like to extend my apologies for taking a little under a month to write a new post. My head has been in the clouds lately. We’re almost half way through 2016 and I feel stagnant. I’m standing on my faith that God has a plan for me, but I nonetheless feel out of sorts. Between work and school, most days I just want to cuddle with my imaginary boyfriend, eat snacks and watch old episodes of Law and Order SVU.

Back to your regularly scheduled program…

As some of you may know, I recently published my third book,”Twenty Something.” I went the route of self publishing all three of my novels, but I recently realized that I just don’t have the gusto to promote myself and my work. That is pretty evident with my lack of blog exposure. I have attempted to utilize my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts, but have been unsuccessful in my attempts. Maybe I’m too lazy, or maybe I simply lack marketing knowledge. In all honestly, probably both.  Nonetheless, I have decided to try an alternate route. There are several self-publishing companies that offer marketing services. For about $1,000 or more, these companies create press releases and several other author and book exposure propositions. I have been researching these companies and looking into authors who have published genres similar to mine in hopes of gaining a better understanding of the overall process. I also have looked into larger published companies such as Harper Collins, but most of these companies do not take unsolicited work. I finally realize that I can’t do this on my own. I’ve tried to write, edit, sell and promote my books on my own…it’s too much. I just want to focus on one task which is writing.

Over the past few weeks I’ve seen just how vicious the publishing world can be. I’ve sent out several query letters and so far I have been declined twice. It can be a bit discouraging, especially since publishing companies and/or agents don’t give you advice or an explanation as to why they chose not to accept your work. I know I have talent, but when you are denied back to back you begin to question yourself and your abilities. Regardless of the doors that have slammed in my face, I am still hopeful. My plan is to reach out to Simon and Schuster and see what their services entail. My one desire since I decided to write a book has been to be on the New York Times Bestseller list and alone that isn’t happening I’m very hopeful that one day I will be… Stay tuned for updates!

If you are interested in reading more about my books and/or making a purchase please visit my website www.amberjgraham.com 

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Just Writing

I’m not sure what is wrong with me. I feel drained of my creativity and I don’t have any eagerness to write. I feel lost, almost as if writing is no longer for me. I don’t know how to resolve the issue, or how to make a come back from this rut I’m stuck in. I’m beginning to question whether writing is even my gift. It’s almost like my thoughts are constipated. I’ve even been struggling to write blog post. I get annoyed when I do try to write, I don’t know where to begin or where to end. I want to give up on writing, but I know that isn’t an option. I guess I’m just tired of trying, of being stuck in the same place. I know that this feeling will pass,that it is only temporary, but in the mean time I don’t know what to do.

 

Sugar Daddy or Trap Queen?

 

I’m a centimeter away from either selling drugs, or getting a sugar daddy. Having a sugar daddy is probably more plausible. Right?

I recently completed entrance counseling to hopefully complete my current Criminology degree program at Cleveland State University.  I can’t say that I wasn’t shocked by how much money I’ve borrowed for my education, but I was somehow still shocked. If that makes sense. Why are educations so expensive? No, I’m sorry let me rephrase that, why are pieces of paper so expensive? I will literally be spending the next 10+ years paying off these loans for a degree that may, or may not be beneficial to my life. The current interest rate for federal direct subsidized loans for Undergraduate students is 4.29%. 4.29 %, that’s higher than the interest rate of some credit card companies. Meanwhile, I can barely keep all of my month to month bills paid. And, why in the hell are the monthly payments so high? For some reason the government thinks $300.00 a month is reasonable. Ha! Why not though? My fancy degree apparently has me making millions of dollars a week,right?

I’m not sure if I would have been better off not going to college and not having debt, or if I’m better off with a degree and this pile of thousand dollar debt. Why should I even have to ask myself that question? Why isn’t free college a thing? Or,at-least more cost friendly tuition rates. We live in a country where college is force fed, yet its not affordable for most American people. That makes a whole lot of sense. But, who am I kidding?  I know why its so expensive, the government likes raping our pockets. Keeping us poor.  Like seriously!  They love the sh*t.  It almost makes me want to fake my own death and move to a remote island. As a matter of fact,refer to me as Maria Cosmosa from this point forward. But, on a serious note, I sincerely hope that someday, one day soon we get a legitimate student loan forgiveness program with affordable repayment plans. More importantly, for future generations, I hope that tuition rates decrease.

Well, on the bright side, at-least I don’t have Sallie Mae breathing down my neck at the same time that Uncle Sam is pick-pocketing me!

 

 

Have a laugh as you count your own student loan debt, we’re all in this horse manure storm together!

Black Suffrage in 2016

Many of you may not realize this, even those of you who are Black, but Ghettos were created to isolate members of the Black community. Ghettos were created to limit the growth of Black people and to make them feel inferior. It isn’t by accident that a mass portion of the Black community lives in poverty stricken neighborhoods.  I’m currently taking a course that is focused on the study African Americans . The course covers the plight of  Black people from slavery, to the migration from the South to the North. It was through my research in the course that I uncovered information about how Ghettos came about and how poorly mistreated Africans Americans have been over the course of history and still are. One portion of my research truly caught me off caught. I came to the conclusion that the education system is more segregated now than it was over 10 years ago. Black children in inner city schools are learning less cognitive skills than their White counterparts from more suburban areas. Many inner city schools where the population is predominately African American do not have adequate resources and students are not exposed to the same opportunities.  Furthermore, regardless of how educated a Black person is they are two times more likely to be unemployed than a White person merely because of race. We have advanced since the early 1900’s, but education for Black children is still far from equal.

With that being said, this is why it is so important for African Americans to vote. Our voices need to be heard.  We can not allow someone like Donald Trump to rule any country. We can not allow others to keep deciding what is best for us. We can not allow people to keep making decisions with our supposed best interest at heart.

When I started writing this post I had every intention to go further into detail, but I will keep my words to a minimum. Speaking from a Black woman’s perspective , we’re fighting to survive in a system that was designed to see us fail. A system that was designed to undermine our intelligence and designed to keep us barricaded into one area.

 

 

Finish Line

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On April 29, 2016 I officially finished my no meat challenge. In the beginning it was a struggle simply because for the first time in my life I was unable to eat meat, poultry or seafood. After the first week I got beyond the desire of wanting meat but towards the end I had an urge for chicken strips. Now that the no meat challenge is over and I actually can have meat, I don’t have a desire for it. I ordered chicken strips from Famous Dave yesterday, they were good but I felt bloated and more full than I usually do. I didn’t like that feeling. I noticed that by only eating vegetables I would get full but I would become hungry relatively quicker than I would if I had a meat that included meat. I found that having a smoothie with my meals solved that problem. Overall, not having meat in my diet wasn’t as difficult as some people made it out to be.

I’m not sure if I’ll continue to eat meat or if I’ll become a full pledged vegetarian.  My digestive system improved drastically and I felt better energy wise. I’m not sure if I actually lost weight because I was eating a lot and I mean a lot of veggie pizzas. For a while I felt a difference in my pants sizes but I’m not sure if that’s because they were too big to begin with. I realized that not eating meat isn’t difficult but finding things to eat that aren’t pasta and/or bread was difficult seeing that there aren’t a large variety of vegetables that I enjoy.  I really love spinach, broccoli, and salad other than that I don’t have a lot of go-to vegetables.

I’m proud of myself because I stuck to my guns and didn’t fold when things got difficult. I’m proud that I was mentally strong enough to even try something like this. I think my next challenge will be not eating bread or potatoes for a month,we’ll see!

 

 

Skin Deep

 

 

It’s February, which we all know, whether you like it or not is Black History Month. I debated about writing a post like this for several reasons. Black History Month, slavery, race, the Black Lives Matter movement, etc. are very controversial topics/issues among Americans. Nonetheless, let me go ahead and exercise my First Amendment Right, FREE SPEECH.

I’m sick and tired of people asking me,”are you mixed”, “what are you”, are you foreign”. These are some of the most ignorant questions I’ve heard people ask. My birth certificate states that I’m African American but the history of my families roots is a different story and frankly, it is nobody’s business, unless I choose to make it their business. I hate when people pose the question “what are you?” I’m a human. What are you? I’m fully aware that ignoring race is a part of the problem but I can’t help but to stop and think… why does race pose such a problem and/or create such a threat?

Some Caucasian people look at me funny because they think I’m too dark to be White and some Black people look at me funny because they think I’m too light to be Black. Can’t I just be Amber? Why is it that we are so color struck despite the obvious history of our country? I truly don’t understand. I wasn’t raised to judge people based on the color of their skin, or appearances in general. I hate being judged because I’m a Black woman and it’s not always by the White community. I feel as though someone always wants me to prove my blackness, or as if I always have to validate my intelligence because of my blackness…it is exhausting.

I find it interesting that people still use terms such as “The White Man” as if the entire race of white people is still trying to oppress Black people. I understand where the term came from but come on! As a Black woman, I have broken myself from the institutionalized  chains that “The White Man” controls my every move. I will not be intimated into thinking I’m “less than” because of my Black skin. I will not be forced to feel inferior because of my Black skin. I will not behave a certain way because of my  Black skin. I will not like anything any more or less because of my Black skin. And I certainly will not let who I am as an individual be charged to who people think I am because of my Black skin.

As people, I think it is important to recognize our difference and rejoice in them.  We need to start conversations. We need to address race as an issue. We can not expect to move forward if we constantly sweep everything under the rug and act as if praising Black people for one month out of the year compensates for the years and years and years of oppression that our ancestors were forced to endure in this very country.And I speak for myself when I say this, Black people have to learn to free themselves. If the system won’t educate us, we must educate ourselves. We must learn to invest in ourselves, we have to free ourselves from the illusions that we can’t own businesses or be doctors and lawyers. We have to free and rid our children and our generation of statistics. We have to free ourselves from this mental imprisonment that we were once forced to take ownership of.

Now…I’m curious as to when we’re going to come together and create a better tomorrow for our children? When are we as a community going to unite and stop allowing these police officers to kill our babies? When are we going to unite and teach our babies not to kill our babies? When are we as a human race going to show compassion and understanding towards PEOPLE…regardless of their skin color. In case you didn’t come to this conclusion…we as PEOPLE have a lot of work to do both separately and collectively.

I’m tired of being hated simply because of my skin color. I’m tired of being uncomfortable in certain areas or around certain people because of the color of my skin. I’m tired of being told I’m acting light skin. I’m tired of being told I’m acting White because I speak proper English. I’m tired of being forced to fit into a bubble because of the skin I had no choice in choosing. I’m tired of reversed racism and I’m tired of being tugged at. I hope that one day and it might not be any time soon but one day I can just be Amber. Amber the author. Not Amber the light skin girl, not Amber the “I think, she thinks,she’s a white girl”,Amber. I just want to be Amber, not being judged by my skin, not feeling forced to prove myself in every arena of my life because of my skin and not being pressured to live up to someone I’m not because of my skin.

 

I leave you all with this question,”Can you laugh at yourself without attributing it to your race…Can you own up to good/bad habits without attributing it to your race?”

 

 

I Love Food!

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Today I tried a new recipe that I found on Pinterest, Mexican Zucchini Burrito Boats. I’ve never had zucchini so I figured this would be a great way to try it. I also really enjoy Mexican food. I’m going into week three of not eating meat and I’ve been trying out new recipes. I followed the recipe exactly the way it is except  I didn’t use cumin because I’m not a big fan of it and I also didn’t season my cilantro with salt. After the zucchini was finished baking I did a taste test. The stuffing for the zucchini was delicious but I didn’t like  the zucchini which isn’t a big shocker. I figured that I didn’t like it which is why I never tried it. But you never know if you like something or not unless you try it.

The recipe was really easy to follow and I love cooking with colors so I was pleased with the different produce that I used. I provided the recipe below in case you guys would like to try it.

In order to make the recipe you will need the following items:

Produce

  • 1 (15 ounce) can Black beans
  • 1/2 cup Cilantro, fresh
  • 1/2 cup Corn, kernels
  • 1 Jalapeno
  • 1 Red bell pepper
  • 1/2 Red onion
  • 4 Zucchini, large

Condiments

  • 1 cup Salsa

Pasta & Grains

  • 1 cup Brown rice, cooked

Baking & Spices

  • 1 tsp Chili powder
  • 1 Salt

Oils & Vinegars

  • 1 1/3 tbsp Olive oil

Nuts & Seeds

  • 2 tsp Cumin

Dairy

  • 1 cup Cheddar/monterey jack cheese

 

INSTRUCTIONS

Start by greasing a 9 x 13” casserole dish then set aside. Slice each zucchini in half lengthwise. Using a melon baller or metal teaspoon, hallow out the center of each zucchini. Lightly brush the tops with one teaspoon of olive oil then place them skin side down in the casserole dish.
Next warm the tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and the peppers and cook for 2-3 minutes. Then add the rice, corn, and beans along with the salsa, chili powder and cumin. Stir everything together and continue to cook for about 5 minutes then remove the skillet from the heat and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400°F and then stir in 1/4 cup of the cilantro and salt to taste to the filling. Spoon the filling inside of each zucchini until they are all full. Sprinkle each half with cheese then arrange them in the dish and cover with foil. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes then remove the foil and set the oven to broil. Cook them for 5 more minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown.
Allow them to cool for 5-10 minutes then top with fresh cilantro and serve. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.