Author Q and A: David Harris

Author David Harris wearing glasses and smiling

“Dreams can come true if you put God first, and are willing to work hard to make them so.” – David Harris

Blaque: Welcome back to another edition of author spotlight. My guest for today is author David Harris. Welcome David!

David: Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to share my creations with the world.

Blaque: You are very welcome. It’s a personal treat for me to have the opportunity to speak with so many amazing authors all over the world. Let me start this interview off by asking, where are you from?

David: I am from the small town of Grifton, North Carolina.

Blaque: Wow! Another North Carolinian. I’m in the city of Greensboro.

David: It’s nice to meet another author who is also from North Carolina

Blaque: Yes, it is always exciting to meet someone else from your neck-of-the-woods. So, how many books have you published to date?

David: I have published twelve books to date.

Blaque: Impressive! Where is your favorite place to write?

David: The kitchen table is where I prefer to do most of my writing.

Blaque: Out of the books you have published, which is your favorite, and why?

David: “The Bible and Slavery” is my favorite book that I have published, because it reveals what slavery is and it’s true origin.

Blaque: What is your favorite food?

David: Tuna is my favorite food.

Blaque: What kind of child were you growing up?

David: I was a very inquisitive child growing up.

Blaque: As authors, we all want to feel like we have contributed something to the world of literature. What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment as an author?

David: Completing all twelve EBooklets in a timely fashion, and receiving thanks from those who benefited from them is my greatest accomplishment as an author to date.

Blaque: What is your favorite color?

David: My favorite color is blue.

Blaque: Where do you get most of your story ideas?

David: I get most of my story ideas from the bible.

Blaque: As an author, I’m sure you are also a reader, so what is your all-time favorite book?

David: The Holy Bible is my all-time favorite book. To be more specific, (KJV 1611) is my preferred version to read.

Blaque: If you had a million dollars to donate to a worthy cause, which would it be, and why?

David: If I had $1,000,000 to donate, I would donate it to the National Jewish Hospital for Children. I’ve been a regular donor for many years, and like giving to kids.

Blaque: That would be a great cause to donate that amount of money to. I’m sure the children would greatly appreciate what those funds could do for them.

David: Yes, I’m sure of that as well.

Blaque: What is your favorite genre of music?

David: I really enjoy old southern gospel music and classical music like, Debussy, Bach, Mozart, and Dvorak.

Blaque: Do you have a favorite character that you’ve created?

David: Yes, I do. Her name is Sheba from my soon to be released book, “A Song for Zipporah.”

Blaque: What show(s) did you enjoy watching as a child?

David: I had many favorite shows I enjoyed watching while I was growing up, but “Little House on the Prairie” was my favorite of them all.

Blaque: What is your goal as an author?

David: I’d like to tell my story, share my passion, and make a good living doing it.

Blaque: Cookies, cakes, brownies, and the list goes on. Such deliciously sweet treats. What is your favorite dessert?

David: My favorite dessert is banana pudding.

Blaque: When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

David: When I’m not writing, I enjoy painting old houses, and doing minor home repairs.

Blaque: Are you a cat, or are you a dog person?

David: I prefer dogs any day over cats.

Blaque: What makes you uniquely you?

David: What makes me unique is that I have a good memory of dates, birthdays, ages, and account numbers.

Blaque: Well, it seems that we both have that unique talent. LOL.

David: Wow! Interesting.

Blaque: What is your all-time favorite movie?

David: “Ben-Hur” is my all-time favorite movie.

Blaque: If your best friend could describe you in one word, what would it be?

David: If my best friend could describe me in one word, it would be daddy.

Blaque: How would you describe your personality?

David: I’m easy to get along with, but not a push over.

Blaque: What is your favorite holiday, and why?

David: Veteran’s Day is my favorite holiday. It recognizes those who served and made sacrifices for everyone.

Blaque: I can certainly understand why that would be your favorite holiday. If it wasn’t for our veterans, we wouldn’t have our freedom.

David: That is correct, so that is why they should be celebrated.

Blaque: Having short-term and long-term goals is very important. Where do you see yourself in five years?

David: In five years, I plan to retire and travel around the US.

Blaque: What are you currently working on?

David: I’m in the final stages of completing my 200 plus page historical fiction story entitled “A Song for Zipporah.” She was the Ethiopian wife of Moses. The book fictionalizes how life was for her prior to encountering him and culminates with a wonderful musical wedding.

Blaque: Finally, describe your latest book in just ten words.

David: Hmm… It is very creative, very inspiring, and mystically thought-provoking.

Blaque: What a way to sum things up! So, do you have a way for readers to check out your published books?

David: Yes, readers can check out my website here, where they will find all of my published books.

Blaque: Well, if you are looking for some interesting reading material, then check out author David Harris’s books full of knowledge, helpful scriptures, and his insightful thoughts.

David: Thanks so much for speaking with me today. I hope someone can find wisdom from my stories.

Blaque: I hope so as well. Until next time. Happy writing!

** Note **

If you are an indie author, and you would like an opportunity to spotlight on my blog, visit Author Spotlight, and follow the instructions to submit your interview. I look forward to speaking with you soon.

Author Q and A: Dr. Theresa Snell

 

“Choose  Your Mood” – Dr. Theresa Snell

 

Blaque: On today’s author spotlight, I have the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Theresa Snell. Welcome.

 

Dr. Snell: Thank you so much for having me Blaque Diamond.

 

Blaque: It’s always great to have another author to spotlight on my blog. There are so many authors out there just waiting to be discovered. It looks like you write children’s books. Is that correct?

 

Dr. Snell: Yes, that is correct.

 

Blaque: Well, you are the first children’s author I’ve ever featured so far.

 

Dr. Snell: Wow! I feel honored.

 

Blaque: I also write children’s stories, but I don’t consider myself a children’s author. I just like to make sure that children are included in the wonderful world of books.

 

Dr. Snell: Yes, reading is important for any age. The younger the better.

 

Blaque: I agree. Let’s jump right into it. What inspires you to write?

 

Dr. Snell: I began writing in response to my eldest child’s need for “one more story” before nap time. I noticed that my stories became his most frequent requests, and he was quite adamant that I not change the details. Writing them became a defense mechanism. After finishing my doctoral research on stress and coping skills, I felt compelled to offer a small trick or technique for kids dealing with frustration, worry, and low self-esteem.

 

Blaque: What is your favorite season of the year, and why?

 

Dr. Snell: Despite this year’s massive ragweed invasion, Fall remains my favorite. Though we are turning toward the darkest time of the year, humans choose to fill that time celebrating the past, expressing gratitude for the present, and hoping for the future. There is a magic to the ending of a year and brilliant colors against an otherwise barren landscape.

 

Blaque: We all have things that rub us the wrong way, so what is your biggest pet peeve?

 

Dr. Snell: Tardiness. I consider promptness to be a sign of respect and worry when those I care for are late. It is incredibly frustrating to me to make a commitment, to honor it, and then not to have that courtesy reciprocated. As a mother of champion dawdlers, I understand delays, but a text takes only a moment and saves me from looking up at every sound for the person I am counting on.

 

Blaque: Hmm . . . That is one of my biggest pet peeves as well. What is your favorite holiday, and why?

 

Dr. Snell: I love Halloween. In my home we explore the history and traditions behind every holiday we celebrate. There is so much hope in Halloween, that the light will chase away the dark. There is a history to the holiday that stretches back the the Celts, which still influences us today. The frivolity of costume shopping and trick or treating is fun and something . . . other than the daily routine. It doesn’t hurt that it is also one holiday without cooking requirements.

 

Blaque: Where do you see yourself in five years?

 

Dr. Snell: A writer writes. I hope in five years, I still call myself a writer, a storyteller, a teacher, a less terrible piano player, and a collector of hobbies. There is always a new adventure- even in the mundane.

 

Blaque: Who has been your biggest supporter on your writing journey?

 

Dr. Snell: I am imagining my mother and husband battling it out for the title of “biggest supporter” even now with my friends encircling them. I am so blessed in my friendships and family. Once I learned to ask for help, a floodgate opened to me.

 

Blaque: What kind of child were you growing up?

 

Dr. Snell: I was a girl of moods. I was an introvert, lost to the written word and a bubbly cheerleader for ten years. My family had an informal list of movies they recommended I avoid to save themselves from the wracking sobs. They probably experienced whiplash when my excitement overflowed and I began speaking too fast to follow. I loved every holiday except Easter, and I only hated that because I am truly dreadful at finding hidden things. I was drawn to theatre-to its drama and its discipline and considered studying it in college before the lure of anthropology, sociology, and psychology drew me in a different direction. I always needed to understand the why behind every action.

 

Blaque: Do you prefer writing your first drafts on paper, or on the computer? Why?

 

Dr. Snell: My notes are always handwritten in a notebook. From there I begin scratching out a rough draft. The rough draft is most often translated to computer until I am frustrated by not being able to hold the pages. I print the pages and, sometimes, my first draft.

 

Blaque: What is your zodiac sign?

 

Dr. Snell: I am an Aquarius. And boy, am I.

 

Blaque: I love to hear people’s answers to this question. If you were trapped on a desert island and could bring only one person, who would it be, and why?

 

Dr. Snell: I would bring my husband on any misadventure. I am the idea lady and he is the get-it-done man. My practical skills are seriously lacking. I can learn anything, but why not bring someone who already knows what to do?

 

Blaque: LOL. I see your point. If you were offered an all-expense paid trip anywhere in the world, where would you go, and why?

 

Dr. Snell: How long do I get to stay?! For a quick trip, I would love to visit Alaska. It is something so foreign from my norm. For an expedition, I would want to trek again through Europe. I would love to have more time in Budapest, or the area surrounding Prague.

 

Blaque: Do you have any other talents besides writing?

 

Dr. Snell: I draw a little, sing a little, and play a little piano.

 

Blaque: Is there anything you do a lot of? LOL.

 

Dr. Snell: I crochet a great deal. I am a collector of hobbies. Last year I had a wood burning kit and a driving, yet unrealized desire to learn to sew. This month I signed up for piano lessons.

 

Blaque: I see. LOL. I have always wanted to learn to crochet. I used to weave when I was younger, but I have never got the hang of crocheting. As authors, we all have made mistakes that we are not so proud of, what is the worst writing mistake you’ve ever made?

 

Dr. Snell: The worst writing mistake I have ever made is to stop writing.

 

Blaque: Wow! That’s a new one. No one has ever said that in response to that question. It’s usually marketing or editing related.

 

Dr. Snell: I’m sure, but that was definitely my biggest mistake.

 

Blaque: What is your favorite genre of music?

 

Dr. Snell: I lose cool points all the time for questions about music. I jam out to country and like to listen to the stories of blue grass. I dance to  anything. Kidz bop plays out of my speakers a little too often for my sanity, but I did have my six year old rocking out to Les Miserables this week, so, score!

 

Blaque: LOL. You still have your cool points with me. My music taste is all over the place. I just like music in general. My IPod is full of everything from Frank Sinatra to Chris Brown. I listen to it all. Music is therapy. If your best friend could describe you in one word, what would it be?

 

Dr. Snell: I hope my friend would describe me as accepting. I value my friends’ differences and enjoy discussing their passions. I suspect, however, that my sarcastic best friend would describe me as organized since my schedules are a source of much teasing.

 

Blaque: When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

 

Dr. Snell: Enjoy is a weak word for my need to read. I enjoy field trips with my kiddos and other homeschooling families, traveling, movies with magic and wonder, crocheting, dancing, comedy clubs, and local events in my community.

 

Blaque: It is always an amazing feeling to learn that someone has purchased a book you have written, but how does it make you feel when a reader tells you that they enjoyed reading your book?

 

Dr. Snell: A compliment, genuinely given, makes me blush still. I feel thrilled when I hear my stories helped get an idea across.

 

Blaque: What is your goal as an author?

 

Dr. Snell: My goal as an author is to continue to write. I would like to write words worthy of reading and find an audience who wants to share it with me.

 

Blaque: If you could talk to your younger self, what would you tell him or her?

 

Dr. Snell: I want to tell my younger self not to worry and not to doubt. I look back and see a girl searching rather than seeing; running rather than being. I am enough as I am, and knowing that has been a gift of adulthood.

 

Blaque: What has been the hardest hurdle you’ve had to jump over while embarking on your writing journey?

 

Dr. Snell: As a writer, a huge hurdle has been that I tend to become lost in the big ideas and forget the details, or so lost in the details that I delay the writing.

 

Blaque: That was such an informative interview. I enjoyed getting to know you, and I’m sure your readers will enjoy it as well.

 

Dr. Snell: I Thank you so much for having me. I hope they enjoyed getting to know a bit more about me as well.

 

Blaque: It’s always nice to get to know the person behind the books. Even though we are authors, we are still people all the same.

 

Dr. Snell: That’s true.

 

Blaque: So, before we wrap up this session, leave the readers with your contact information so that they can reach out to you.

 

Dr. Snell: Sure. Readers can visit my website here.

Both of my books are available on Amazon, so purchase your copy. Be sure to leave a review! It is greatly appreciated.

 

I can be found on Twitter and Facebook if you would like to keep in contact.

 

Blaque: Well, I think that just about does it for me today. Until next time. Happy writing!

 

*Note*

 

If you are an author, and you would like to be featured on my blog, visit Author Spotlight, and follow the directions to submit your interview.

Breathe Deep Dear Dragon Book Cover

 

 

 

 

 

Look Deep Dear Dragon Book Cover

 

Writing Tip for Beginner Authors 1

Picture of a silouette of a person writing

 

Well, we all have to start at the beginning. No matter how talented we think we are, there is always room for improvement. It can be the smallest thing that could turn a reader off from reading your book. A misplaced comma, the use of nouns too many times, or the hum-drum of reading, he said and she said after every time a character speaks. That would drive me insane, so I know it will drive your readers insane if they see these simple, but reoccurring errors in your writing. No one is perfect, even though we would like to believe we are, so mistakes are going to happen, but if you follow this simple tip, you could possibly gain yourself a new reader. Now, I’m not proclaiming to be an expert on writing, not by a long shot, but this is an error that I have made in my own writing. I’m sharing with you tips that I have learned on my own journey to writing. I don’t want anyone to make the same mistakes I have, so I’m sharing things with you that can help improve your writing. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m flawed. LOL.

 

Pronouns

 

Become friendly with your pronouns. All too often, we continuously use nouns instead of inserting a pronoun. Using a pronoun will not take away from your writing one bit. If anything, it will help smooth it out. This was something I had to mentally repeat to myself constantly every time I got ready to write something new. When I would go back to read my own work, I would shake my head and ask myself, why did you have to repeat your character’s name so many times? I even decided to test myself and see exactly how many times I had written a particular character’s name. To my horror, I had written it two-hundred times. Wow! But that wasn’t the shocker, I had written this particular character’s name two-hundred times, but there was no telling how many times I had written any of the other character’s names. The kicker was, I was in the process of writing a short story.

 

Using a pronoun instead of the noun can help to enhance your writing. What seems like such a simple mistake could potentially lose a reader, if it is not addressed properly. For instance, read the following examples below, and tell me what’s wrong with them.

 

Example 1: Joseph loved to cruise around town in his new car. Joseph was so proud of his new set of wheels. Joseph worked tirelessly to pay for his new means of transportation. Knowing that he had worked so hard to purchase his own car, brought a satisfied grin to Joseph’s face. Joseph knew that hard work and determination would get him what he wanted, and it did.

 

So, according to this example, what is wrong? Does this sentence flow freely? Does it make use of pronouns? No. Count how many times “Joseph” was used in the paragraph. This paragraph is only five sentences long, but “Joseph” has been used five times. “Joseph” has been used at least once in each sentence. What do you think about that? Does that seem right to you? It doesn’t to me. What can be done to help this paragraph flow more smoothly? Replacing the proper nouns with pronouns. Now, read the same paragraph again in this corrected example. Notice how it is much easier to read and follow the paragraph.

 

Corrected example 1: Joseph loved to cruise around town in his new car. He was so proud of his new set of wheels. He worked tirelessly to pay for his new means of transportation. Knowing that he had worked so hard to purchase his own car, brought a satisfied grin to his face. Joseph knew that hard work and determination would get him what he wanted, and it did.

 

Here is another example of not making use of pronouns.

 

Example 2: The dog sniffed at the discarded can. The dog circled around the can before nudging it with his nose. As the dog pushed the can, it began to roll away from the dog. The dog moved closer to the can. Every time the dog pushed the can, the dog moved closer to it. Finally, after a long while of pushing the can around, the dog abandoned the can and turned his interest to a plastic bag fluttering about on the ground.

 

What’s wrong with this paragraph? Has “the dog” been used too many times? How could this sentence be corrected to make it more readable? Read this corrected version.

 

Corrected example 2: The dog sniffed at the discarded can. He circled around the can before nudging it with his nose. As he pushed the can, it began to roll away from him. The dog moved closer to the can. Every time he pushed the can, he moved closer to it. Finally, after a long while of pushing the can around, the dog abandoned the can and turned his interest to a plastic bag fluttering about on the ground.

 

Read this next example. What can be changed to make this paragraph better?

 

Example 3: Mrs. Brown stood at the chalkboard writing the day’s vocabulary words on it. Mrs. Brown always wrote the words down in advanced before her class arrived. Mrs. Brown was a fifth-grade teacher, and Mrs. Brown loved her job. Mrs. Brown continued writing on the board until Mrs. Brown heard her classroom door squeak open. Mrs. Brown turned from the chalkboard with a smile on her face and greeted her first student.

 

Does that look correct to you? I think not. We already know the paragraph is about Mrs. Brown, so why do we need to constantly repeat her name over and over again. It is unnecessary repetition. Replace some of the Mrs. Brown’s with ”she.”

 

Corrected example 3: Mrs. Brown stood at the chalkboard writing the day’s vocabulary words on it. She always wrote the words down in advanced before her class arrived. Mrs. Brown was a fifth-grade teacher, and she loved her job. She continued writing on the board until she heard her classroom door squeak open. She turned from the chalkboard with a smile on her face and greeted her first student.

 

Don’t those example paragraphs look and read much better? Yes, they do. So, next time you are in the process of writing something, be sure to check that you are taking advantage of your pronouns. Do a quick search of your document to see exactly how many times you have used a particular noun. Can any of those nouns be replaced with pronouns? If so, do so. You want to improve the readability of your work as much as possible. Use pronouns, pronouns, and more pronouns. Don’t worry, they won’t get mad, if anything, they’ll thank you. LOL.

 

If you’re not sure of what a pronoun is, check out these examples:

 

She, he, they, it, we, I, me, us, you, her, him, them, that, anybody, anyone, anything, each, everyone, everything, everybody, nobody, no one etc.

 

These are just a few examples. There are lots more for you to discover. For more in-depth descriptions on pronouns and their uses, a simple Google search will help you to find the pronoun that best suits your needs. Until next time. Happy writing!

 

Blind People and Computers

 

Picture of a computer screen

 

Those two words don’t even belong in the same sentence. Are you crazy? Blind people can’t use computers. They can’t see, so how can they use a computer? There isn’t any braille on a computer, so they can’t use one. You must be nuts. Maybe you may need your head examined for you to think such a preposterous thing. These are just some of the things people may say to you when you tell them that blind people indeed can use computers. How is that you wonder? Simple. An assistive technology software called a screen reader.

 

And what is a screen reader you ask? It is a software that converts the text on a computer screen into synthesized speech for a blind or visually impaired person. Whatever text is on the screen, this screen reader will read the text back to the person in speech. So, the text has been converted to speech that is spoken aloud. This can be pretty distracting or annoying for someone who is not used to this type of technology, so to be courteous the blind or visually impaired person uses headphones to listen to the speech in privacy. They don’t want the wrong person hearing the wrong thing, right? Especially, the naughty email that they plan to send to their spouse. LOL. Unfortunately though, not all blind people are courteous, so sometimes you will hear their annoying synthesized computer voice while you’re trying to watch your favorite TV show, or driving to your nearest destination. There are different configurations that can be done to make the software more personalized for the user. Everyone doesn’t use a computer the same, so they can alter the settings to fit their personal needs.

 

The blind or visually impaired person types the same way that any person with sight does. With this text to speech software, what they type is spoken aloud letter by letter. Depending on how fast of a typist they are, the words or letters can be spoken fast or slow. As a blind person myself, this technology has made life a lot easier for me. I am an author, so having access to a computer is very important to my success. The fact that we can do a lot of the same things that a person who can see can do on a computer is marvelous. We can search the web, send emails, create word documents or excel spread sheets, and anything else we want. Of course, it takes some training to figure out how to use this technology. You’re not going to wake up blind tomorrow and be able to install the software on your computer and just be able to use it. No. It doesn’t work like that. It requires a lot of time and patience. There are so many keystrokes to learn and commands to do things that a person with sight would just do with a mouse.

 

Technology has advanced so much that this assistive technology is now available on mobile phones. Yes, blind people do use phones also thanks to this awesome text to speech software. Majority of blind or visually impaired mobile phone users are I phone users. Apple had the bright idea to design their products with the disabled in mind. Instead of having to buy a screen reader software, Apple has their own built-in screen reading software called Voice Over already installed on any Apple product they make. Having a screen reader software on a mobile phone is similar to how it works on a computer. Of course, the commands and keystrokes have been adapted for touch screen use though. Instead of learning commands, the blind or visually impaired person learns touch screen gestures to get what they need done. Before phone companies started including assistive technology already built into their phones, blind and visually impaired people had to buy a separate screen reader software and install it on the phone so that they would be able to use it like a person with sight does.

 

Some of the popular screen readers for computers are JAWS, which is an acronym meaning job access with speech, Window-eyes, Voice over for apple computers, NVDA, which is an acronym for non-visual desktop access, and a pre-installed software on windows computers called narrator. On mobile phones, the popular choices for screen readers are Voice Over for I phones and Talk-Back for android phones. Narrator, NVDA, and Voice Over are free screen readers, but there is a price for JAWS and Window-eyes. To access Voice Over or Talk-Back on mobile phones, all you have to do is go to the settings section of your phone and find accessibility, then click on the text to speech software for which ever phone you have to turn it on, and there you go! Your phone is now able to speak whatever text is on the screen. If you are familiar with the voice of the GPS in your car, then that is what a screen reader sounds like. Beware though, that means you can no longer hide those dirty text messages from your secret lover that you thought your blind spouse couldn’t read, because they actually can. So, if I were you, I would start deleting them really quick.

 

Well, now that you know that blind people can use computers and you’re not crazy, what else can they do with them? Yeah, yeah, yeah. We can send emails, create word documents, and surf the web. Is that all? Of course not! Thanks to screen reader software, blind and visually impaired people can keep up with the latest and greatest. We can shop online, post to social media such as Facebook and twitter, and read online magazines and newspapers. We can even fill out online applications, take online courses, and so much more. I can even type this post I am typing now for this blog. See how amazing it is? Lol.  Thanks to advancement in technology, we are able to keep up with the best of you. No more running circles around the little blind woman, because she is running right beside you. Want to watch a YouTube video? Well, I can too. Let’s check the menu of the hottest Italian restaurant in town! I can do that too. Assistive technology has made all of this possible. Now, if only they can work on that car for the blind. I will be first in line to receive my driver’s license. I’ll see you on the road! So, the next time someone asks you if a blind person can use a computer, your answer should be, of course they can!

 

I hope you enjoyed this fun and informative article about how a totally blind or visually impaired person can use a computer, despite their vision loss. I always like to educate others who are not informed on the way I and other blind and visually impaired people live our daily lives. Life had to be adapted to fit our situations, but thanks to the adaptation, we are able to live life just as anyone else does. It has been an interesting learning journey for me, and I’m looking forward to see what else technology has in store for the blind and visually impaired people of the world.