Name:  Queen of Spades

Age:  Um…how old do you think I look? (lol)

Where are you from?  I’m originally from Mississippi, but I’m currently residing in New Jersey.

A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc?

I’d like to do a slight variation from this: a sprinkling of meat and potatoes (basics) with a glass of fruity red wine (fun).

Five basics about me:

1.  I’m from a small town called Summit: population-slightly under 1,700.

2.  I was raised by my grandparents.

3.  I’m a first generation college student and the first in my immediate family to hold two bachelor’s degrees.

4.  My favorite season is Fall with Spring being a close second.

5.  I was born in September, but that’s not the only reason why Fall is my favorite season.

Five fun facts:

1.  Although it is now alright to do single spacing after periods in a sentence, I still tend to do double spacing.  To me, it just seems to look better.  It’s one of those old habits I can’t quite let go of.

2.  Confession: I am very particular when it comes to the type of pen I use for writing.  If it isn’t a Pilot Precise V5 Rolling Ball (Extra Fine point) or a Pilot G2 Retractable Gel Roller, then the pen will not be used in my journal or for writing my poetry or stories.  The pen can be used for other miscellaneous things, though.

3.  I set my clocks up to ten minutes fast.  It’s a habit I picked up very young when I would have to go down the road to catch the school bus.  My eyes would think it was later, even though my brain knows to subtract ten minutes.  Needless to say, I’m almost always on time.

4.  My love for blue goes deeper than it being one half of the colors of my sorority.  I’ve always been a fan of it.  I love how serene it makes me feel, plus it can go with almost any color.  For me, it’s not only the “new black” it is better than black, particularly since black can often convey negative emotions as well as powerful ones.

5.  Despite their dip in popularity, I still would like to have my current poetry books and future writings available in hardcover as well as paperback and electronically.  I have a soft spot for hardcover.  There’s just something about the ambiance of physically holding the work that technology cannot replace.  

Fiona: Tell us your latest news!

Well, Fiona, Spaded Truths: Themes and Proclamations got released this past December.  I recently sent my other poetry collection, Private Pain: Amidst These Ashes, for beta reading.  If all goes well, Private Pain: Amidst These Ashes, should be slated for a February release date.

In addition, I have been writing short stories.  I plan on putting a collection of them together and calling the end result Continuous Drips.  I tentatively put the release date for winter 2014, but I’ve been feeling extremely inspired, and the stories have been flowing freely.  I’m not sure if it is enough for me to bump up my release date, but it is definitely worth some thought.  Most of my writings have been poetry, so this will be my first attempt at releasing work that is different. 

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing around the age of eleven.  The writing began due to some turbulence going on in my life.  I felt as if I had no outlet to vocally express myself.  I began to journal, and the journaling led to writing some poetry. 

Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Although I started writing at eleven, I didn’t consider myself a writer until in high school.  I was invited to write editorials as well as share my poetry as part of the high school newspaper.

Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?

I was part of this Internet poetry community called International House of Poets.  A fellow poet and I thought it would be a good idea to put together an anthology of different styles of poetry from different types of poets.  The end result was Soulful Branches: Simply Words.  It has everything: haiku, dark poetry, erotica; you name it; it has it!  Although it was beautifully done, there were a few downsides.  The major one being that although this fellow poet and I funded and hosted the project, we could not control the cost of the final product.  By the time we figured it out, it was too late. 

Many people had asked me for years when I was going to do a collection, and I had put it off.  However, due to my experience with that particular company, I wanted to find a more affordable way to get my product out there.  The end result was the first Spaded Truths, and I did that one via Lulu in the fall of 2005.

Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?

I can’t say I have a style, per se.  I aim to have a “connectability component” with my readers.  I don’t get overly caught up in the lines having to rhyme or have a certain rhythm; if it comes out like that, terrific.

Fiona: How did you come up with the title?

Spaded Truths: Themes and Proclamations is actually a revamp of the original Spaded Truths.  Spaded goes along with the last part of my pseudonym (the spade).  Truths comes from certain issues that I feel strongly about and/or things that embody my truths. 

As far as the “Themes and Proclamations”, the “Themes” cover twenty-six different words from A-Z while the “Proclamations” cover my thoughts as it relates to each themes.  I expand on both in the form of a poem.

Fiona: Is there a message in your poetry collection that you want readers to grasp?

(2nd link: Spaded Truths banner)

With Spaded Truths: Themes and Proclamations, the overall message is simple: “The greatest injustice you can do to Self is not live in your truth.”  This collection is just an extension of that statement, and everyone’s definition of what his/her truth is different.

Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?

Some of the poems are very loosely based on events that happened in my past while others cover certain current events that I felt strongly about.

Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

It is a mix of it all.  For example, there is a write called “Mistaken Identity” that is slightly based on an experience I went through.  “Critical Condition” was the combination of experiences from a few people I knew.

Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?

Wow!  That is a tough one.  The top three would be “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker, “Black Feeling, Black Talk” by Nikki Giovanni, and “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou.  Each of these has a quiet strength, yet also possess a revolutionary feel. 

Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Y. Correa, most definitely.  I first met her in the Goodreads group, All Authors Blog, and she came up with this idea to be part of the All Authors Blog Blitz.  She has really been supportive and has provided great feedback and knowledge-from editing to marketing.  There had been a period of about seven years where I had stopped actively publishing, so when I decided to begin again, I realized there were so many things to learn and there were so many outlets present that I didn’t know about before.

Fiona: What book are you reading now?

I am almost finished reading Vermin by Adrienne Silcock.

Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

There are quite a few, but I’ll try to limit to three for time.  One of the great things about being a reviewer (I also do reviews for The Review Board) is the opportunity to read different genres of works by different authors. 

Alyssa Auch is one.  Lunula really impressed me.  Another is Nicola McDonagh: the way she conveys her stories as well as the pictures that accompanies them just stay with you.  I also like how she sounds when she reads the stories: she definitely has the voice to do audio books as well as print.  I’m a fan of the engaging ambiance of Beem Weeks.  He mainly does historical fiction, and Jazz Baby is the blueprint of the deep South (Mississippi) done right.  That read just makes you feel like you are sitting on the porch while listening to your grandma tell stories of way back when.

Fiona: What are your current projects?

Lol…as a writer, reviewer, or magazine contributor?  I guess you’ve already picked up that I wear many crowns.

I think I already cover the writer aspect: Private Pain: Amidst These Ashes and Continuous DripsPrivate Pain: Amidst These Ashes does lean a bit controversial and touches on some pretty sticky topics, so it won’t be for everyone. 

As reviewer of The Review Board:  The Review Board does do reviews on webisodes, movies, TV shows, and music, but the main focus has been books (particularly indie).  Since The Review Board does take all genres, we’ve been getting a lot of requests.  My reviewer name is slightly different from my author pseudonym.  I go under the name No Labels Unleashed.  There’s plenty of reading and reviewing: spring and summer is pretty much booked for 2014 already.  Exciting times! 

As Magazine Contributor:  I’m also a contributor for All Authors Magazine.  I host a column called A Queen’s Ramblings.  In the upcoming January issue, I talk about this piece I wrote entitled “Misfortune” and the mechanics of whether it was actually a short story or not.  I also did a special article (part information/part comedy) on the pros and cons of doing book review swaps.

Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

The writing community I’ve encountered on the Internet, mainly from Goodreads and Koobug.  Actually, some of them have proved more supportive than my family members.

Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?

Eventually, I would.  I am very patient and know that it does take time.  However, I don’t want to be one of those people who do it as a career and end up not liking it once the transition takes place.  I don’t want what I love to ever feel like it’s a chore or a burden, yet I have seen some people who took the risk and have never picked up a pen again.

Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Since Spaded Truths: Themes and Proclamations served as the revamp (changes) to the original, I would have to go with “no.”

Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

The answer is similar to my response to “When and why did you begin writing?”

Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?

This is going to be a tricky one; I’m not sure what the rating is on this website.  In other words, I need to find one that won’t be too overly risky for the audience…lol.

Here is an excerpt from “The Anger of Kindness”, a poem featured in Spaded Truths: Themes and Proclamations:

Kindness is on the verge of being extinct.

 

The Anger of Kindness

 

All I wanted
Was to know what it was like
To touch lives.
To deliver a smile
Or put a light in someone’s eyes.

 

I never really
Asked for much
Except for a simple “Thank You”
And someday,
For the love to be returned.

 

But the more I give,
The more you take;
The more I care,
The more you forsake.

 

Although you’re careless
And treat me as if I’m
Just a word:

 

I’m much more than that!

Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Not necessarily with writing overall.  With the next project, Private Pain: Amidst These Ashes, the challenge was to find the balance between censoring and authenticity.  I didn’t want to overly censor because I felt like it would dampen the intensity associated with the experiences outlined, yet on the same token, I had to judge how much I could get away with simply because of the emotions involved.

Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Indie or traditional?  Traditional: Stephen King.  I fell in love with his work when I was 12 years old and haven’t stopped reading him sense.  The attention he puts into detail; the way the images cling like Super Glue to the imagination-phenomenal.  

Indie: I have to go with Perri Forrest.  I consider her a mad scientist when it comes to her work.  Her timing with scenes and the way she paints her characters in her works are always beautifully done.  She definitely “writes life into fiction.”  I respect the way she refuses to be placed in a particular box (genre and/or race), and I applaud that all the way.

Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?

No, not yet.  It may pick up in the future.

Fiona: Who designed the covers?

(Private Pain: Amidst These Ashes)

(Spaded Truths: Themes and Proclamations)

(Eclectic: Skin Edition)

Private Pain: Amidst These Ashes, Spaded Truths: Themes and Proclamations, and Eclectic: Skin Edition were designed by Anthony J.F. Minter.  He also designed the paperback covers of Eclectic: Beyond The Skin and Reflections of Soul.

 (Eclectic: Beyond the Skin e-book cover)

(Reflections of Soul e-book cover)

The electronic covers for Eclectic: Beyond the Skin and Reflections of Soul were done by Fancy Face Kreations.

Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?

The hardest part was getting it properly formatted for electronic distribution.  I had been so accustomed to just doing print books.  I think I’m getting the hang of it, though.  I make sure to not use the same file for my print book that I do for my electronic book.  I made that mistake before and had to spend time revamping and reloading.  It’s better to do it right the very first time and not take short cuts.

Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

At times, you have to walk a fine line, especially if some of the things you’re writing about stem from actual experiences or the experiences of others.  With Spaded Truths: Themes and Proclamations, I know there are certain issues and topics where people may not agree with what’s stated and may decide this will be a collection they stay away from.  I had to decide whether I’d be fully okay with it.  I am.  I am proud of the presentation of this work.  Even the most controversial things have to be talked about.

Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?

1.  Build a meaningful relationship to the person you are networking with.  Don’t just hit the person up when you want a favor or when you need something.  Try to build a lasting rapport. 

2.  Be selective in the type of social networking sites you are a part of.  Figure out how much you are going to utilize each site/method.  Just because it’s out there doesn’t mean you have to sign up for it.  It’s better to have a select few networking places you’re dedicated to than to take on everything and end up not having time for any of them.

3.  Put EXTRA eyes on your work.  I know that’s probably been said a trillion times, but in my experience as a reviewer, I still see works out on various publishing platforms (Amazon included) where the writer doesn’t take time to spell check, correct grammar or format properly.  I’ve also encountered the attitude, “If the works good, errors here and there will be overlooked.”  That’s not necessarily the case.  If there’s one or two errors, maybe, but if there’s enough of them throughout the write, the reader is going to take more time proofreading than enjoying the story.  Invest the time to give the work another look, even if it means delaying the launch of the work.  In this instance, it’s best that the work be presented accurately than timely.

Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I love you and thank you for your support.

Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?

I cannot recall.  I was (and still am) such an avid reader.

Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?

I love reading (you probably picked up on that).  I like doing abstract sketches.  I do a bit of gaming via Facebook as well as on Xbox.  I lean towards strategy games and fighting games.

Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?

TV show wise: I am a fan of Scandal.  It’s not because of the forbidden love affair between Olivia Pope and the President but because of all of the other storylines that are involved.  I also like Dexter.  The show is officially over with, but I’ve been playing catch up via Netflix.  I’m currently on Season Five.

I like different types of films, but I am drawn to documentaries, action/adventure, horror, stand-up comedy, and situational comedies/dramas.

Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music

Favorite food:  French fries are my weakness.
Favorite colors: Blue and gold.
Favorite music: My tastes are pretty eclectic.  Although rhythm and blues and pop are my top ones, I also listen to rock, alternative, blues, classical, and jazz. 

Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?

That is a tough one.  Right now, writing is my secondary income.  In the past, I have done restaurant and retail management.  Although I am accustomed to doing management roles, I was not a fan of all of the hours I had to put in.  That, and my workaholic tendencies, made for a pretty bad combination.  I didn’t fully gauge when it was time to slow down until my health became impacted.  In addition, the company I worked for changed ownership and decided to bring in its own people, so a lot of us lost our jobs.  Where I’m working at now is a lot calmer in terms of atmosphere but doesn’t provide that level of challenge and performance I had become accustomed to in the two fields I originated from.

I wouldn’t mind going back into management or a field that has guidance or mentoring components.  I love to help people, but I’m not a fan of all the office and backdoor politics that people in the higher levels of management tend to adopt.  At this stage, I’m even open to just going into business for myself.  There is practically no security in working for someone else anymore.   

Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?

Blog: A Queen’s Ramblings
http://queenofspadesthepoet.blogspot.com

Website: Queen of Spades, Life Writer

http://authorqueenofspades.wix.com

http://authorqos.com

My Other Networking Spots:

Twitter:  @authorqspades ( https://twitter.com/authorqspades )
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/authoressqueenofspades
Amazon Author Page: http://Author.to/QueenofSpades
Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/nolabels
Koobug: http://www.koobug.com/queenofspades
About.Me: http://about.me/authorqspades