I am pleased to announce my debut novel
Dreams of the Heart
is NOW AVAILABLE for sale!
My writing journey has been long and at times tough, but God has blessed me and my family so much through my creativity. I am beyond thankful to EVERYONE who has played a part in this publication.
Author’s Open Letter
Speaking about my novel Dreams of the Heart has not been easy. Despite all my excitement and enthusiasm, I still seem to lack the words to fully encompasses what my story is about. Of course, I know, and I course I believe that anyone who reads my novel will be emotional inspired. Yet still describing my story has become my post completion challenge.
As a part of my marketing strategy I was ask what novel can Dreams of the Heart be closely compared to. As a reader, you have probably seen this often. Phrases like “Twilight meets Pride and Prejudice” or “Wuthering Heights meets Maximum Ride”. Or my favorite, “For Lovers of Nicholas Sparks’ “The Notebook”. It has been hard to find those comparisons. First let’s be honest, Nicholas Sparks ability to pull a heart into a story that cannot duplicated. And Twilight was epic, despite what naysayers think and I would never use its imagination and drawl as a marketing tool for my stories.
So where does that leave me. As a true book lover and story engager I have looked for proper novel comparisons and found none. So, I have turned to my next love, music. Dreams of the Heart was bred in music and love. I listened to music all the time, especially when writing. I can recall all the music I listened to while writing Jamice’s story. Every line written portraying Greyson’s hunky description was fueled by a song of sexy inspiration. Relating Dreams of the Heart to music is more accurate. The beginning of my story is a mix of “It’s Alright” by Ledisi and “It Never Rains” by Tony! Toni! Tone’, which are songs that long for happiness’. The middle story and crux of my novel; the core of who Jamice is, would be a mix of Usher’s sinful repentance of the 90’s and Jagged Edge’s bargaining for love in every song they made on their debut album. Chapter 21 of my novel was written to one song on repeat for 2 days. “Alone” by the RnB great Joe. Jamice’s best friend and their ride or die relationship is a mix between Luke’s “I Wanna Rock” and Destiny Child entire Survivor album. Sasha is fierce and strong, and all woman.
Dreams of the Heart has music woven all throughout its story. Please while you are reading my new novel, listen to some music. Try some Anthony Hamilton, Brandy, Luther or even Joe. If none of those artist work well or you, at minimum, please listen to Ledisi. All of her albums from “Lost and Found” to “The Truth” can in many ways tell you what Dreams of the Heart is about. The story of love and healing is one that will move the most stubborn spirit to follow their heart. That is my dream, to motive someone to love and then share that love with someone who has lost hope. New analogy “Dreams Meet Hope”, how’s that for marketing!
Writing is a skill that many have but few enjoy. When I discovered that my friend Diondra had a love for writing, I immediately became a supporter. Learning about someone through written words can give you great appreciation for the person they are.
An avid reader, Diondra is a devoted Christian, teacher, awesome singers, and a writer. Her new website shares some of the most amazing experiences and heartfelt emotions. I encourage you to take a look around. Check out diondrasplace. Here is the link to my favorite post thus far https://www.diondrasplace.com/9-movies-to-look-out-for/
So I have been reading a lot lately. After my first semester at Kent State, I had to purge some of the technical habits that were blocking my creativity. I went on a high level binge of paranormal fantasy books. I update my reviews on goodreads.com often, so to access my full list of reviewed book please visit Fun Stuff tab.
However today I must call out a series that has surprised me and wrapped me in paranormal fiction delight. After looking for a gargoyle story for more than 4 months, I had given up. It seemed that the creativity on paranormal creatures were limited to Vampires, Werewolves, Faeries, Casters, and of course Angels. Most that know me well understand I love a good vampire romance (thanks Twilight) and stories of Faerie Warriors disarm me every time (thanks Sarah Maas). Despite my continued love affair with the “out of this world” element, I yearned for a gargoyle story. Maybe it’s because I grew up in the early 80’s and have fond memories of short lived tv series “Gargoyles”.
Well I found what I was looking for in the Revelations series by Randi Coley Wilson. The series follows Eve Collins who has just become aware she is something special and has an important part to play in a war she did not even know existed. Her protector Asher St. Michael holds all he secrets and is tied to Eve and her destiny in more ways than one. Now she has a gargoyle clan of her own and must train and fight to be everything everyone else expects her to be. The story has love, hate, fights, faeries, and magic all in one and I am tickled that I came across it when I did. The world the author has built is somehow magical although it clearly has an urban real-world setting. The character’s descriptions and abilities stretch the imagination even for the fantasy genre, but they are very real in their emotions. The plot of each installment twists and turn just enough to hook you in and make you root for the good guy AND the bad guy. Eve and Asher’s intense bond throughout this saga is engaging and keeps you thinking of romantic and forbidden love.
Currently I am on book 3 of 5 on the series. And while I do tend to read series that follow the same characters, I rarely find myself reading them back to back within 1 weeks’ time (except Sarah Maas books). I read the first book Revelations in about 1 week, and immediately read book two finishing it in under two days. Now I am on book three and I had slow myself down to do some of my own writing. To read my full review of each book, but visit my Fun Stuff tab and click in the image of the book.
At the End of the Line There is Creativity
Writing is a passionate tool I use to share stories and feelings with the hope that it will help someone, even if it is only myself. When I began this journey, it was just a release of my dreams and nightmares. Writing this novel was a method of decompression. Somewhere along the line it became a fulfilling piece of me.
In the end, I am glad I made the choice to completed the story and share this small piece of my creativity. I am very pleased with the final product and I hope you will be too.
I am thrilled to announce that Dreams of the Heart is officially set for publication October 10th, 2017.
My single hope is that this story will inspire someone; move them to heal and love again. We were all created in love so we all deserve a little.
Please click here learn more about my debut novel, Dreams of the Heart.
Your Environment Your Mind
By Tanela Hicks
Sometimes putting your mind where it needs to be is just the thing that can put YOU where you need to be.
As the Midwest moves through a cool and rainy summer, I am reminded of the fresh beauty I saw while vacationing a couple years ago in Boston. Now I should preface everything that follows by admitting that I have an unfounded love for this city. I have no ties to the city and have never lived on the east coast, but for reasons unknown I have always loved Boston. It was April the weather was perfect for walking, thinking, and writing. The views from my hotel were not great but the moment you stepped into the heart of the city everything around me changed my perspective. Before my visit I was in a dead stop on my projects and my overall was at a low. The change of scenery had a strong effect on me as wife, mother, and writer.
Your environment can change your view and your view starts in your mind.
The weeping willow trees in the Boston Public Garden were transparent yet extremely bright and alive. A lighter green than expected and only semi bloomed, these trees did more for me than any advice column or spa day could have ever done. The swayed and swung as if they had direction but knew there job was to stand still. I would like to think they did it for me, but I know that it was really God’s design and plan. In life sometimes standing still is exactly what God wants us to do. He wants use to allow him to move and groom us for his will and purpose. The pond that quietly moved below the trees provided moisture in the air and calm to the sound of the wind. Despite the quiet scene, I remember that day it was quite busy. There were children playing in the park. Groups of tourist were rapidly walking through the park, missing the nature beauty. But then there was a couple sitting privately hug together in a sweet embrace that rejuvenated my romance and gave me the inspiration to hold my own husband’s hand (after I took the picture of course).
Don’t Lose the View
Taking the time to sit and see things through a different lens ultimately changed my life. In that moment I sat there a promised never to lose that soft heart and soul that God gave me. I promised to once again start using the gifts God gave me to help, move, and inspire others, just as that couple done for me.
We spent a total of 6 days in the city. The memory of the trip still stands strong with me, and now 2 years later I still go to this place when I feel the need to surround myself with beauty and inspiration. Especially when writing. I no longer have to physically be there, its impact was so strong that it has made a permanent mark in my mind. This place gives me happiness; it gives me peace, and reminds me of my promise and Gods vision.
Great Music New Natural
"We Are KING"
“We Are KING” by KING is easy eclectic listening. The album opens smooth and defined with Right One. You have a good understanding as to want type of music you are about to listening to; which in my book is a huge plus. Throughout the album you hear a lot of airy soft sounds which makes it a through and through album. The song order and transitions are seamless. I review enjoyed all the instrumental work. It is full on technique yet somehow not cluttered. I was so engulfed listening to the music that I had to go back through and focus on the lyrics. While there is nothing revolutionary lyrically the words in most the songs are very dreamy and vivid. Red Eye and Love Song are forward and pull you into a vision that a full of color and beauty. My only wish in this debut is I wanted to hear more of the group’s vocals. Maybe an a capella song or two would have been nice. These ladies are going to go far if the keep their niche and sound intact, but expand their vocals and of course exposure. Great job Ladies!
"Awaken, My Love!"
~ Childish Gambino
So, the winner of the year for odd and efficient goes to Childish Gambino AKA Donald Glover and his album “Awaken, My Love!”. Childish Gambino’s sound is intentionally alternative, almost not natural, but somehow still shines. The obvious Prince influence is all over this album which makes it intriguing. If you are looking for a standard hip hop rap album, this is not the album for you. If you are looking for deep lyrics mixed with trippy 70’s rock, then Awaken, My Love! is perfect. A mix between Lenny Kravitz and Andrae 3000, Childish Gambino’s lyrics are very socially conscious with songs like Riot, and Boogieman hitting all the relevant social tones of 2016. I could listen to it through and through, even opting to do it again, but mainly because I wasn’t sure what I heard. Stand Tall and Redbone were positive hits for me. The album seems to be weird for weird sake. I would have loved to hear some more jazz like instrumentals from him. Like his other albums, this was not produced for the masses, but for those who like creativity and accept the unexplainable. Good job Donald!
Anyone that knows me knows how much I love to read. I enjoy a wonderfully made story. The creative demonstration from an artist, writer, or musician is always something exciting and beautiful to see. Maybe it’s because I a writer and I enjoy the seeing the creative process unfold, or maybe creativity just inspires me. Either way I cannot get enough. Currently I am reading several books. The Barrier Between- Collector Series Book Two by Stacey Marie Brown, Always Watching- Elite Guardians by Lynette Eason, and Aerie by Maria Dahvana Headley are on the top of my currently reading pile.
I am a die-hard Sci-Fi, paranormal fan. Imaginative stories with faraway lands and magical creatures take me away from the sterile corporate world I currently work in. If you add in some time travel it is like Christmas for a book lover girl like me. Because of this automatic pull I have created a strong motivation to stay diverse. I purposefully and regularly read “normal & mundane” stories. Most recently I read 2 of 3 books in the Hidden Identity series; which is a Christian fiction mystery series by the fast story teller Lynette Eason. I thoroughly enjoyed it and you can read my reviews for each book on my Review page.
So, that wasn’t too hard, right? Read a book with no werewolves or magic…. check. Now read some Non-Fiction Tanela.
I LOATH NON-FICTION! Again, my persistent thoughts on the cultural benefits of staying diverse with my entertainment choices force me to read at least one Nonfiction book a year. Thanks to my good friend, I had the chance to read a good one this year called Bringing Up Boys by Dr. James Dobson. The author has revealing and relatable concepts on raising Christian boys. I enjoyed it enough to chat with other mothers about it, but still not enough to write my standard review. See Non-Fiction is not evil, right, you just should easy into it. I still have a few others on my Non-Fiction list for the year, which includes Shonda’s Rhimes Year of Yes, but since I technically have made my quota for the year, I’m all set right?
Here comes the entire reason for writing this post. The accidental click on Anna Kendrick’s Scrappy Little Nobody changed tone on non-fiction. While I was clicking out of a different book on Amazon, I accidently selected Kendrick’s new memoir. Let me preference the rest of this mini fandom by acknowledging I am a little bit of a default fan. I have loosely followed Kendrick ever since the Twilight movie days because I thought she did an amazing job in those films. I have since, seen just about all her work and recently moved her to the actresses to watch category in my moviegoer pop culture mind. Okay, back to the book. So, I listened to the preview on Audible of Scrappy Little Nobody, narrated by the author Anna Kendrick (great idea) and I immediately felt her story as something I wanted to hear. She was so honest and transparent that I forgot I was reading about a celebrity. When she said in the first chapter that she wished she could call her book “A tweet, but longer.” I was sold. I downloaded the full book and started listening immediately finishing in just a few days. You can read my full review of Scrappy Little Nobody on my Review page. It’s an awesome book for all anyone.
My experience with this memoir has taught me a big lesson and I am kind of ashamed to admit it.I LIKE NON-FICTION I JUST DIDN’T REALIZE WHAT IT COULD BE TO ME
This is shamefully because that is what I do. I Google everything about everyone; me and Wikipedia are virtual close friends, and I love learning about with world and people around me. I enjoy nosing around facts on topics from “last TV show to air on UPN” to “Aesop- real or fake storyteller” (FYI- that topic has a very interesting history, look it up). So, why have I never been moved to read a story about another person? True I still think that books like “How to Live a Better Life” would be of NO interest to me, but I am not considering reading Soledad Obrien’s book “The Next Big Story: My Journey Though the Land of Possibilities” and “Self-Inflicted Wounds: Heartwarming Tales of Epic Humiliation” by Aisha Tyler, which I have recommended and purchased for others, but never took the time to read myself. Crazy! Thanks to Anna Kendrick and her witty and revealing story telling about acceptance of one’s self, and perseverance I am excited to see what I can learn from the eyes and pens of other interesting people in the world. Non-Fiction has a Niche’ for me, and now I am right there in it.
Today I went to get some new music and after hard deliberations, I chose #MYNAMEISJOETHOMAS by the ever faithful Joe Thomas and Seat at the Table by the talented and highly unrated Solange Knowles. Please enjoy my thoughts and opinions on each album and then go out and make your own choice. Dig into the music, embrace the creativity, and bring forth a new and refreshing attitude.
Joe Thomas has been giving ladies passion and love through music for over a decade. He sings deep and from his heart delivering that grown and sexy music. Joe’s newest album titled #MYNAMEISJOETHOMAS is a solid and much needed nod to RnB. From the beginning he encourages the leap into love with “Lean Into It”. My favorite songs, “Wear the Night” and “Lay You Down” are for adults only and remind me of the woman that I am after work, wife and kids. Joe also gives us a little something new as he always does with “Hollow” and “Love Centric”. They have a mild country rock feel that once you focus in; you realize it fits him well. This unfortunately that is not the case with one of the two hip hop songs on the album. “Happy Hour” featuring Gucci Man is overly done and loud; creating an immediate frown on my face. The deep flat key of the chorus helps a little, but Gucci Mane just does not fit on this album. On “I Swear” the lyrics are a little more palatable and the music arrangementis a lot better. Overall the selling factor of Joe’s new album is his ability to tell women what they want to hear all the time from their man. Joe Thomas is singing apologies and providing the make-up playlist. The theme of forgiveness in his lyrics is the strongest quality throughout all his music. On this album, “Tough Guy” and the hit “So I Can Have You Back” show that men do have soft places in their hearts. My vote for the next single goes to “Lay You Down”; just in time for cozy love season and Valentine’s Day. I will be grooving to this album for a while and even when I put it down, I know Joe will be right there to hug me back into his musical heart.
Break out your star fruit and incense for Solange’s new album Seat at the Table. It is filled with strong lyrics and expressive declarations. The hit single “Cranes in the Sky” brings sweetness to an otherwise socially charged album. Songs like “Don’t Touch My Hair” and “F.U.B.U” remind you about self-love and changing our own circumstances. My favorite songs are “Don’t Wait” and “Weary” and hearing Tweet mixed in on the vocals throughout the album was a treat. The biggest miss are the extended interludes. While I can see this type of urban eclectic album deserves some spoken word, I think the interviews and journal like dialogues were a little too much. Overall I love what Solange has put together. She has returned strong and meaningful. I’ll be keeping Seat at the Table in my rotation for a while.
Music plays such a big part in history. It becomes extremely important in times of stress, hurt, or despair. Some of the biggest performers emerged or reached their height after a time of social or economically change. Music often can transcend problems and ill feelings and that is why I hold on to a tune in my mind and heart. Gospel, RnB, classical, or jazz; it all has the ability to assist in the revision of my mind and spirit.
SHAKESPEARE and Dreams
I am excited to share with you some recent work and reveal some of my novel work.
SHAKESPEARE Magazine features uplifting content on life, fashion and inspiration. The owner Rebecca Strong of RJS Fashion provides people everywhere with a piece of herself through her unique jewelry and accessories collections. In addition to running a business, she spreads positive words and fashion tips in her publication. I am honored that she has allowed me to be a contributing author again this month. Please take a look at the fall 2016 free edition of SHAKESPEARE Magazine. Click here to download your own copy now.
I have had a lot of people ask how my writing is going, and I would like to thank them for their continued interest. Writing is going well and the Lord continues to bless me with new and refreshing ideas to write about. I have two additional projects in full swing and just like with my first, my goal is to share the story. Dreams of the Heart is my first novel. It is completed and ready for the right agent to come and help me by getting it into the hands of readers everywhere. This story holds a special place in my writing journey. The characters in the story are as familiar to me as my true friends are. I have cheered for Jamice’s breakthroughs and prayed for Sasha’s revelations. I know that it may sound a little crazy, but one of my favorite quotes says:
“Writes aren’t exactly people. They’re a lot of people trying to be one person.”
~F.Scott Fitzgerald author of The Great Gatsby
Today, I will be sharing a little of my heart with you. To read the first two chapters of Dreams of the Heart click here. Writing is a compulsion that does not go away. I will continue to write and share for as long as I can and as long as GOD allows.
National Novel Writing Month
Learning Myself Through My Writing Goals
By Tanela Hicks
My history with National Novel Writing Month is a little give and take; love and hate. Just like getting use to a new car, or understanding a new computer system, it took a while, but we finally understand our role in each other’s life. NaNo (as it is affectionately called) is there to be a motivator and a tool to help drive my writing career and I am here to use it. Simple.
Just as an overview, NaNo to me is the celebration and awareness of the craft of writing. There is an entire culture that pushes you to meet your writing goals throughout the year. There are camps for young writers, weekly encouragement from published authors, and tons of advice. During the month of November specifically it is “Campaign Time”. To keep it simple, if you are participating in the organization sponsored activities, you can enter a contest to complete 50,000 words in 30 days. At the end of the month you can submit what you have written for critiques, publishing help, and more. This contest not only serves as incentive, but drives project productivity. It’s a wonderful opportunity and totally free…or not use.
My first year being a part of the NaNo community I was very excited. Being the over organized person I am, I made a word count spread sheet to compare against their suggested rate of process. Yes, there are formulas, and programming in this spreadsheet that automatically told me the messages like “Great Job” when I meet my daily goal or things like “Words Waiting” when I slacked off.
When I started in November 2013 with the NaNo, I actually had already completed the bulk of what “Dreams of the Heart” would come to be putting me well past the 50,000 benchmark the website set. So my big goal was to write every day. As you can see I did not succeeded at that, but overall I was thoroughly invigorated with the creativity process. I ended the month with approximately 18,000 thousand words and completed my first rough draft. Then came 2014 and I hit a huge drought. “Dreams of the Heart” draft one was complete and I was deep into rewrites. There were many complications, but my biggest headache was deciding on the level of adult content. The main character and I “fell out” multiple times the first half of the year over elements of the story that needed to be PG edited. As a true woman of faith and a new deacon’s wife it was very hard to determine what was right and what was wrong. I ultimately learned through experience and prayer to let the story direct your path no matter what. Once I settle on that school of thought, me and “Jamice”; main character of “Dreams of the Heart” become best buds again and my massive rewrite moved forward.
Writing novels, short stories, articles, or anything creative is not an easy task and those that can or even try to do it are special people. Reflecting back on my beginnings with NANO and “Dreams of the Heart” makes me smile and thank God for this talent that he has given me. I have learned so many lessons. I have applied advice received from that community and others to my two projects still in progress. Surrounding myself in a community of like-minded writers; all pushing towards similar goals, truly helped propel me to complete my first novel. If you are looking for a guide or catalyst this year for your writing try it. I will not guarantee you will hit the mark of 50,000 words, but you will learn something about your writing and a lot about yourself.
For more information on National Novel Writing Month Click Here