I was born a writer. I started writing at age three, and have always been very prolific. I suppose my impatience is what really made me an "indie" writer, because rather than wait for other methods, I started making and selling chapbooks of my writing, using office supply stores for binding and such. Then when ebooks came out, I joined another website but it was so complicated I never got one ebook of the ground. I've sold a very few ebooks on my own using only email and social media, but I'm very excited about having this new opportunity to hopefully get much more of my writing out there!
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Well, I haven't uploaded a book yet, but I heard about Smashwords just a couple of days ago from Carlin Ross of www.DodsonAndRoss.com, whose ebook "How to Make a Girl Come" was released here on Smashwords and is inspiration for my longtime interest in writing about sexuality. Smashwords so far appears to be very user friendly for both the author and the reader, with its many formats. I'm looking forward to good things here!
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Immediacy and release. I have a lot of things going on my life and in my mind, and being a born writer it's wonderful to be able to put them on paper. From journaling with pen and ink as an angst-filled adolescent to posting on Twitter and Facebook as an indie multi-media artist and now hopefully creating a varied and vibrant library of ebooks here which interest and engage my audience, I feel so blessed for this creative outlet of the written word (and I type super fast, too)! Second greatest joy of writing is the positive feedback I get from my readers.
What do your fans mean to you?
My fans remind me that my work is important. Suffering from depression my whole life, and having a short attention span, sometimes when I'm really down I forget that what I do matters in the world. It is so healing and uplifting to me to open my email and receive a message of Thanks from a reader, especially when they share a little of themselves on how a specific essay or museletter I wrote touched them, helped them feel better, or otherwise made a difference. Then I feel I'm the one who got the reward. I'm the winner. It is really a blessing to me how that happens! My readers are very important to my development as a writer as well, because I choose topics and create the content of my books based upon not only my needs to heal or be entertained, but what I feel they desire also, to heal and be informed or enlightened as well as entertained. My readers are my coaches, my teachers, my inspiration as well as my students and in some ways the co-creators of my work.
What are you working on next?
Until I've learned enough from reading Smashwords' Guidelines on publishing here, I've created a temporary storefront of my ebooks at http://cxbooks.eventbrite.com. This is where you can get my ebooks via email for now, until I've uploaded the ebooks here at Smashwords. What I'm doing now also is developing new ebook titles and editing or revising the older titles. My previous ebook titles have been about raw foods, spirituality/inspiration/motivation/personal growth/self-help, and being a creative artist. My immediate next ones will be more spirituality essays plus much, much writing about sex, sex, sex - particularly from the standpoint of being an incest/sexual abuse survivor with an eating disorder and also recovering from religious oppression and homophobia. You know - the usual!
Who are your favorite authors?
Wow - this'll take a while!
These are the most inspiring:
Doreen Virtue, PhD www.angeltherapy.com Sanaya Roman & Duane Packer, PhD www.orindaben.com Louise Hay www.louisehay.com Cookie Mueller Betty Dodson & Carlin Ross www.DodsonAndRoss.com Kamala Devi www.KamalaDevi.com SARK (Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy) www.planetsark.com
Dylan Thomas made me believe in poetry. Lots and lots of lesbian non-fiction anthologies I read in my early 20s (circa early 1990s), published by Naiad Press, Bella Books, Alyson Publications, and the like.
So many more, as I've owned hundreds of books over the years and worked in several bookstores.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Napping, spending time with lovers or myself, daydreaming, and/or doing joyous work in music or other forms of creativity. These days as I'm grieving the death of my spouse-type partner Tom, while recovering from a major depression, I'm trying to get back on my feet and do joyful work again. I'm hoping that writing and posting my ebooks here will get me there, or at the very least be a productive release and good venue for sharing my journey which will hopefully assist others on theirs.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Online doing searches for particular topics as I'm led by inspiring/motivating entrepreneurs or teachers/healers.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Wow, that's a great question! I've never been asked that before. I can remember the first song I ever wrote, but story? I think it's interesting, because I'm not much of a fiction persun at all. Let's see... Being a multi-media artist and believing there are many ways to "tell" a story, as there are many different ways to learn and be taught I'll share two stories. First one was non-verbal, but it was an erotic drawing I did when I was very young - between 4 and 8, I think. I remember a classmate saw the image, and teased me and I felt very embarrassed and ashamed. I think that was my first attempt at telling a story with paper and pen/pencil. The second story, which was written, happened when I was around 13 years old. I'd discovered Nancy Friday's "My Secret Garden: Women's Sexual Fantasies" and wrote a series to mail to her (never mailed them). The one I'm recalling now was based on a possibly true story of how real-life former lovers Grace Jones and Dolph Lundgren met. My story had them meeting back stage and getting it on. I remember enjoying writing that story, but then being ashamed of having it around, and tearing it into tiny little pieces and flushing them down the girls' bathroom toilets of my junior high school. You may notice a pattern here in the themes of sexuality, erotica, and shame? Having been reared strict Fundamentalist Christian, and having been sexually molested from a very young age, I got loads of shame and have been spending my life unloading it all!
What is your writing process?
I am rather prolific and don't need coaxing to write when I feel I have something to share. Where I do need to remind myself to set up structure and discipline is when it comes to formatting my words into actual books and marketing them according to the current trends. Following directions is tough for me as rebellious persun, so I need to work on that. My process is essentially to write often and follow the rules to get my writing out there!
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Again, I have two answers!
Having been reared by strict Christians, I suppose the first "story" I ever heard was from the Bible. Most of my experiences as a child having to do with Christianity were frightening and shaming somehow. Or they just didn't make any sense. The second story that had the most impact on me was a children's book whose title I haven't been able to find, but what I do remember is it took me to such a magickal place in my imagination, that I never saw the world the same way again, and I wanted to go find that again and again and I never did. My attempt at writing is to find that effect and get it across, as well as seek to find similar experiences as an adult writer and reader.
How do you approach cover design?
Begrudgingly! If it were up to me, we wouldn't need them, but I know that people do judge a book by its bright and colorful cover, so I'm here to learn. I do know something about graphic design, so hopefully it will be easy enough for me to find and create covers for my ebooks that my audience will find appealing and attractive enough to buy the book. I'm still not at the place of staking a super high importance on book art unless it's a physical product. I know that for me, when I'm printing out an ebook, the cover design isn't a high priority for me, especially as it only uses up ink! I'm hoping my readers feel the same. If it's content you want, that I got. I brings the content, yo!
What do you read for pleasure?
New Age spiritually uplifting books. Books on advanced sexual practices (for example Taoist and Tantric techniques). Erotica, and more...
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Brooklyn, New York USA, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and Willingboro NJ USA. Brooklyn made my writing tough and clear, Haiti made my writing beautiful and clear, and Willingboro made my writing prolific, passionate, and urgent, as I lived there most of my life and most of the influential things happened to me there.
When did you first start writing?
At age three. Although I was born in Brooklyn, NY, USA, I spent age one to four in Port-au-Prince Haiti. In Haiti, children start school as soon as they start to speak, so for me, I guess it was three. My first significant writings were written in Haiti, and were love letters to my first serious crush, a grown ass man named Renault (Not his real name). (The renaissance negresse, she has always preferred the more mature gents!) Years later, at a mutual friends' wedding, when I was in my early 20s, I saw him again, and was reminded of why I liked him. He was still quite the cutie-pie! But where was I? Oh yeah. Love letters. Those were my first significant and detailed writings. Under age four and before American kindergarten!
Where has your writing been published?
Anthologies: 1) When Falls the Coliseum: A Journal of American Culture (or Lack Thereof) (Ed. Scott Stein, Free Reign Press/September 2011) 2) Dykes With Baggage: A Lighter Side of Lesbians in Therapy (Ed. Debra Riggin Waugh, Alyson Publications/December 2011) 3) The Butch Cook Book (Ed. Lee Lynch, Nel Ward & Sue Hardesty, TRP Cookbooks, June 2008)
Magazines/Periodicals: 1) Labyrinth: The Philadelphia Women’s Newspaper (Editor/Journalist/Poet circa 1990-1994) 2) We'Moon: Gaia Rhythms for Womyn 1999 (Mother Tongue Ink) 3) The SandM Utopian Guardian: A Journal of BDSM Possibilities (Circa 1990 – 1994) 4) We'Moon: Gaia Rhythms for Womyn 2001 (Mother Tongue Ink) 5) Goddessing Magazine (Date Unknown) 6) Philadelphia Gay News (PGN) Columnist (Early 2000s)
Online: 1) Hair To Stay Magazine (Erotica - Late 1990s) 2) Skrewtips (Alternative Health Advice Columnist – Mid 2000s) 3) Wisdom Magazine (New Age Spirituality/Self-Help/Personal Growth/Inspiration/2009 to Present at http://tinyurl.com/CXWisdom)
Self-Published Print Books (ARtivist Publications) 1) secrets & lies: poetry and other words (2004) 2) Making of a Woman/Artist: a book for every black girl and every black woman who has ever wanted to be an artist (2004) 3) “You’re So Articulate!” And Other Things White People Should Never Say to Black People (2005) 4) Expanding Your Capacity for Joy: A Raw Vegan Comfort Book, Sourcebook & Journal (2009) (ebook soon available here at Smashwords or right now at http://cxbooks.eventbrite.com) 5) The Opposite of Fear: A Food, Mood & Progress Journal (2011) 6) This is What a Millionaire Looks Like: Inspiring Essays (2011) 7) Affirmations for Survivors – SELF-LOVE: Guided Meditations by Amethyste Rah (CX pseudonym) A Companion to the Audio Recording (2011) (ebook soon available here at Smashwords or right now at http://cxbooks.eventbrite.com) 8) Affirmations for Survivors – SPIRITUALITY: Guided Meditations by Amethyste Rah (CX pseudonym) A Companion to the Audio Recording (2011) (ebook soon available here at Smashwords or right now at http://cxbooks.eventbrite.com)
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.