Tag Archives: authors

Aunt Sadie’s Angel: Book Review

Aunt Sadie’s Angel: A Review

Author: Lisa-Jane Erwin

Illustrator: Lauren A. Brown

Copyright 2015

220 pages

 

Whatever you learned about Heaven in Sunday School…forget it!  Aunt Sadie’s Angel re-imagines the heavenly kingdom as a celestial organization, complete with bureaucracy, professional challenges, political jockeying, miscommunication, and the stresses of doing an eternity of good work.  Author Lisa-Jane Erwin presents the story of having to put aside a lifetime of differences in order to provide care for a young girl.

Elderly Aunt Sadie, only weeks away from being spirited to the Pearly Gates, is throwing paradise into confusion.  The head wing-maAngelsker is not prepared, there is the uncertainty of who her guardian angel is, and worst of all, when Aunt Sadie’s mortality expires, and the granddaughter she is caring for will be left alone.  Angels are scrambling to figure out who her father is and what angelic side of the family will watch over her. Rivalries and responsibilities are called into question, all under the watchful eye of the Most High.

Lisa-Jane Erwin’s writing is clear and direct, painting a heavenly landscape as a place divided by occupations, importance, and activities.  The story reads like a tale told around the fireplace on a Saturday evening, inviting the audience to be spellbound and asking for more.  It requires the reader to suspend preconceived notions of Heaven and the behavior of angels.  Some may find it refreshing to find heavenly residents to continue to have the same human foibles as they did on Earthly plane.

Suitable for younger readers, complete with strong messages of faith, responsibility, and a commitment to serving a higher power.  A common read for a youth group or a summer reading selection.

You can get your copy of Aunt Sadie’s Angel at Amazon.com and lisajaneerwin.com.

Guy A. Sims is the author of the novel, Living Just A Little, and the crime novellas, The Cold Hard Cases of Duke Denim.  He is also the head writer of the Brotherman: Dictator of Discipline comic book series and the Brotherman graphic novel, Revelation.  

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Hey Scholastic! Keep the kids writing!

“Writing is an extreme privilege, but it’s also a gift. It’s a gift to yourself, and it’s a gift of giving a story to someone.” ~Amy Tan

“If you really want to know yourself, start by writing a book.” ~Shereen El Feki

“If a nation loses its storytellers, it loses its childhood.”
~Peter Handke

Kidswrite.jpg

Kids are Authors is a wonderful writing contest for K-eighth grade students, sponsored by Scholastic, Inc.  You know Scholastic, don’t you?  The book fairs. The order sheets stuffed in book bags. Scholastic is a major staple of the American educational system. The Kids are Authors contest is designed to encourage students to work in teams (an important value) to write (my favorite activity) and to illustrate (my brother’s favorite activity) their books…not just a story…but an eventual published book.

What a thrill for kids to see their works in published form. It’s motivating. It’s encouraging. It lays the groundwork for the writers of the future. Unfortunately, after this year, the Kids are Authors contest is coming to a close.  Like a good book, it has reached the end. (Say whaaaatt?)  Yes, it has come to an end.  For almost a decade, kids from all over sat down, fired up their imaginations, and wrote, re-wrote, and wrote some more.

So what does this contest mean to the kids?  Here’s story (don’t pardon the pun).  A small group of students from the Rose Hill Boys & Girls Club (New Castle, DE) entered the contest and wrote/illustrated the book, The Story of Velma.  Their book was based on the real-life Dr. Velma Scantlebury, the associate director of the Kidney Transplant Program at Christiana Care and the first African American female kidney transplant surgeon. Out of 1,000 entries, the Rose Hill kids were the only ones recognized in the state of Delaware.

 

Rosehill

Rose Hill Boys & Girls Club kids and their book (Oh yeah!)

 

Okay…kids wrote a book.  Big deal!  IT IS A BIG DEAL!  We hear hundreds of stories of children without direction, without discipline.  Kids spending hours in front of the TV or gaming systems.  Kids not having any sense of who’s making positive impacts in their community.  These young authors made a commitment to a project, identified someone of note, did the research, cooperated and collaborated…and most of all…had a finished product that they, their families, and community could be proud of.

If you are a writer or artist, you know how important opportunities like this are to the kids.  All of us who spend hours working on our craft remember how it was when we first started out.  You know the feeling when there is encouragement after crafting the first poem, story, or painting.

Let’s get together and encourage Scholastic, Inc. to keep that feeling going in our your authors.  You can help the next generation of writers by sharing this with friends, posting it with the hashtag #WriteOnScholastic or by dropping and encouraging note to Scholastic.  Maybe Scholastic cannot sustain the program, but it is important to let them know the program has significant value to the writing community.

Guy A. Sims is the author of the novel, Living Just A Little, and the crime novellas, The Cold Hard Cases of Duke Denim.  He is also the head writer of the Brotherman: Dictator of Discipline comic book series and the Brotherman graphic novel, Revelation.  

 

 

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REDEFINING FAILURE by Guy A. Sims

I don’t believe in failure. It is not failure if you enjoyed the process. ~ Oprah Winfrey

Thank you Oprah!  The above quote is a great way to start.  I’m writing in response to a blogpost by a very intelligent and talented young man (I’m classified as an old head so I can say this) named Roye Okupe.  I’ve never met him but I have read his works and several articles on his interesting journey.  In his latest entry, Creating An AfricanSuperhero: Don’t be afraid to fail, Okupe shares trials many creative artists and individuals have experienced when reflecting on where they are in their artistry.  After reading his perspectives, I found myself in agreement, saying my man is right, as he described personal revelations on his comic character and the market.  If I had his phone number I would haveI would have texted him a quick been there-done that just to let him know he’s

Printed with permission by artist.

Printed with permission by artist.

not alone.  I concurred with what he expressed but what bothered made me really sit back and ponder was the use of the word fail (or failure).  Don’t get me wrong.  Okupe used the word correctly, appropriately, and with clear and concise impact.  Even his closing sentence, “I will always do my best not to allow fear dictate my future, because I would rather fail while chasing my dreams than look at myself as a failure 20 years down the road because I didn’t try”.  I knew exactly what he was saying.  I just think it is important for artists, especially those of color who desire to further their culture, to think differently about what failing means in relationship to their artistry.

One of the greatest challenges we have as artists is to realize that failure and success are concepts that have no authority over our work.  To put it like this, failure is an artistic impossibility and success is an uncharted and unreachable destination.  Our minds have been trained to respond to the extremes; winning, losing…failure, success…fame, obscurity.  If we stay locked into these concepts we’ll continue to measure our work with incongruent scales.  For example, if one team scores more than another, you have concrete values to work with. On the other hand, works of creativity are often judged by a standard defined by a momentary marketing-based appraisal.

Printed with permission by artist.

Printed with permission by artist.

This is not to say one should dismiss criticism, opinions, or sage advice.  The acceptance of constructive criticism as a means to build on skill should be part of the tool kit of any artist.  To deny your work and label it a failed effort based on someone else’s assessment is to deny your very essence.

 

 

When my brothers (Dawud Anyabwile and Jason Sims) and I developed Brotherman, many people told us straight to our faces: How y’all gonna make a black superhero and They’re not going to let you sell those in comic book storesBman3 or (one of my favorites) If it’s not blessed by Marvel or DC then it’s not going to make it.  There were more statements, everything from how Brotherman looked, to being drawn in black and white, to having an all-black cast, to the size of the book.  It would have been easy for us to give it up and go back to doing whatever we were doing back in ’89. Fortunately, our spirits and persistence was fortified by lessons taught by our parents.  We stood firm in the knowledge that we had something to give to the world, not simply individuals or niche groups.  We had something inside of us that needed to be expressed.  Most of all, we knew that everything we did connected to the next link in the chain.  Because of Brotherman we have met so many talented artists, new friends, and fans.  We have had opportunities come our way unrelated to comic books.  We work, not from the framework of success or failure, but through growth, impact, and the knowledge we can do more.

I really appreciated the part in Okupe’s piece where he shared how someone called his animation, not only rubbish but complete rubbish.  Undaunted, he took the animation and used it to serve as the foundation which brought his book to fruition.  Check it out here.

As artists, we have to believe that everything has its time and place…and we don’t have control over that.  The book you produce that sells ten copies may one day find itself in the hands of someone you do not even know.  They get inspired and one day they reference you as their motivation.  Perhaps that’s what your book was supposed to do all along.

We are preparing to launch out latest work, the Brotherman: Revelation graphic novel.

No one can show how it will be received or how many will sell.  What we do know is that once it is fully realized we will have impacted the world…a fact that transcends failure or success.

I am thoroughly impressed by the work of Bro. Okupe.  I read his book, E.X.O: The Legend of Wale Williams with my youngest son who now has picked up pencils and paper to draw what’s on his heart and mind.  I look forward to one day sitting down with Bro. Okupe to discuss the kinds of things that further what we are trying to do.  From there, both of our universes will be expanded.

To me, that is the scale to measure our artistry by.

Guy A. Sims is the author of the forthcoming Brotherman graphic novel, Revelation. He is also the author of the romantically romance novel, Living Just A Little, and the crime novellas, The Cold Hard Cases of Duke Denim.     Contact or comment at guysims.com or @guysims6 

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