From Seedling to Story: A Biological Metaphor for Novel Structure and Creative Growth

By Self-Love Literature Contributing Writer, Taylre R. Malloy

Books are a lot like plants. Wouldn’t you agree? Tiny seedlings sprout into developing plant embryos, in the same light that our stories grow from a powerful thought or idea.

I promise you I haven’t gone totally plant crazy! The connection between growing your novel and growing your garden is synonymous. Below are a few reasons why.

From Seedling to Library

During the summer of 2020, I transformed my library into a garden. As an avid writer, reader, and plant enthusiast, for me, novel growth symbolizes plant growth. The origin of this metaphor first began on a lovely Sunday afternoon while repotting my Golden Pothos plant. My bamboo bookshelf quickly became a cozy growing site for my favorite novels and one of my most beloved plants, the Golden Pothos plant. Since then, a beautiful love affair between my garden and my books began.

Landscaping Phase

For me, editing my novel is a lot like landscaping. We start with an initial empty plot of land. Or in this case an empty page, both brimming with the potential of possible new life.

After freshly tilling the soil, like most uncharted landscapes, your story may still be unformed and muddy, waiting to take shape and root itself from the ethereal realms of the plant world into the physical ground. This is where the magic begins.

In the novel-writing process, the brainstorming or soil tilling part of your book is where the magic begins. This phase can be challenging. But don’t give up. Get your fingers dirty! Break a nail, or two. Tilling the ground for new crops in the spring may feel challenging. The same goes for your novel during the brainstorming phase. So keep up the great work.

While breaking new creative grounds, keep in mind that your growth options are unlimited. In this stage of growth, think of your novel as a tiny seed waiting to sprout. With great love, planning, attention, and care, this seed will grow exponentially.

Sprouting Phase

In both gardening and writing, knowledge is power. A gardener studies where to get the best sunlight, and which areas of the garden are too dark to sprout or maintain life. I like to think of this phase of your novel as the market research phase.


If you’ve ever cultivated a garden, you know that before you can even think about planting new seeds, you must assess the landscape.


During this phase of the novel-writing process, it’s a good idea to research various aspects of the industry and genre. If you’re seeking to submit your novel to agents and editors, now is a good time to assess the literary landscape for potential bountiful niches and areas to shine.

Seedling/ Germination Phase

In both gardening and writing, knowledge is power. A gardener studies where to get the best sunlight, and which areas of the garden are too dark to sprout or maintain life. I like to think of this phase of your novel as the market research phase.
If you’ve ever cultivated a garden, you know that before you can even think about planting new seeds, you must assess the landscape.
During this phase of the novel-writing process, it’s a good idea to research various aspects of the industry and genre. If you’re seeking to submit your novel to agents and editors, now is a good time to assess the literary landscape for potential bountiful niches and areas to shine.

Flowering Phase/ Ripening Phase

In gardening, this initial idea stage is called germination where the embryonic roots, stems, and leaves become planted in darkness with the hopes that new life will eventually sprout. Like your garden, when you’re drafting a book, the possibilities for new growth are endless! To grasp how complex and intricate some aspect of a story will turn out to be is known as creative foresight.


Creative foresight comes in handy when landscaping any barren landscape into stunningly lush conditions. Like a purple hydrangea flower in spring, what starts small can grow to be much more elaborate than expected. The same rule applies to our plot. A single infinity stone lost to the cosmos could turn out to be the one small tool needed to save the universe from Thanos.

Some of your creative decisions will be right, and others will be tremendously awkward, demanding correction for the proper growing conditions within your story.

When the seeds of your garden are in place, you experience the zen and tranquility of effortless growth and cultivation. The same goes for the structure of your novel. Everything is in place, your plants and ideas are flourishing, and harvest is coming! Awe, the joys of gardening and novel writing.

Flowering Phase/ Ripening Phase


Like a garden, a book is never really finished. There always something else you plant. Do I hear book sequels? After a few years, the tasks that gardening and writing our novels remain the same. Our creativity evolves with every weeding, fertilizing, and shifting of our garden/novel.
When spring aka publication day finally comes, you will dance around barefoot in the grass, (or stand before an enthusiastic audience of future readers, all waiting to read your new novel). This moment will be nothing short of glorious.

Rolling with the Punches as a Small Business During COVID-19

By Elena Stewart

As a creator and small business owner, you may have found yourself on tenterhooks since the start of the pandemic. Even though we can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel, you may feel just as uncertain as the world is still dealing with COVID-19. For this reason, it’s important to look beyond business survival in the pandemic. Here are some great tips from Self Love Literature on how you can keep your creative business relevant and accessible in the new normal.

Back to the Drawing Board

Adjusting to the new normal is a must — that is a given. The real challenge is in doing it right. By leveraging available resources and maintaining a good mindset, you can create a solid plan for your business to keep it going and growing in the pandemic and beyond.

  • If your small business has been hit hard by COVID-19, pull up your bootstraps and look to resources for everything from assistance to good business advice.
  • Among the most important things you should look out for are actionable ways to adapt your business at this challenging time.
  • You’ll also want to keep your mindset in check, as it can be all too easy to get caught up in the seeming hopelessness of the situation.Writing is a wonderful way to nurture the mind-body connection, and you can also treat yourself to some self-love books that will help you find peace and balance when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
  • Keep your focus on innovation as it’s the ultimate tool for business resilience.
  • To gain tax benefits, consider setting up your business as a limited liability company (LLC). This structure also protects your personal assets, but an added layer of protection is also filling out an operating agreement template that outlines your company’s rules and practices.

Embrace the Option to Go Remote

COVID-19 has undoubtedly driven home the point that working remotely is not only a feasible way to do business but maybe even the preferred way. With this in mind, it’s more than wise to look into the ways and tools that successfully help you work from home.

  • It can be safely said that taking your business online is the best way to survive the pandemic and even grow into what comes after.
  • If you work with a team, communication is king, so when working remotely, make sure to take measures in improving remote work collaboration.
  • Aside from collaborative tools, you will also get mileage out of a number of remote work tools, so explore how these can enhance your toolkit and support your business.

Invest in Longevity

It can be said that the paradigm shift brought on by COVID-19 is likely not temporary. This, in turn, makes it important to keep looking forward and always find opportunities to support these new ways of working and doing business for the long term.

  • The online way to do business is here to stay, so for your business to flourish in this day and age, it’s time to take steps toward digital transformation.
  • With this in mind, it’s wise to think of your work arrangement for the long term and start creating a productivity-focused workspace for yourself by investing in ergonomic furniture and upgrading your equipment.
  • Of course, if you have a brick-and-mortar business, it’s also smart to look into ways to safely reopen to your public.

Suffice it to say, the creative business world has been considerably changed by COVID-19, so it’s possible that how things were done in the time before will no longer serve you as you move forward. The transitions may not be easy, but know that the resources and tools are there to help you.

Visit Elena’s site at: elenastewart.com

Photo via Pexels.com

The Rise of the Cross-Genre Novel: The Artistic Merge into Genre-less Fiction

By Self-Love Literature Contributing Editor Taylre Malloy

For most writers, many critiques, rejection letters, and feedback often revolve around the precibus of cross-genre fiction.

As planet Earth’s industries evolve at a rate faster than the speed of light, when it comes to the rise of cross-genre fiction, the current publishing industry still expects writers to write within the box.

Whether your story is too romancy. Or not sci-fi enough to be considered true science fiction. Or in my case, too advanced to be considered teen-based young adult fiction. From whichever lens the industry chooses to perceive your story, always remember that there is no box, category, or genre that can define your story. Or it’s potential. Here are three reasons why.

True Stories are Shapeless

Since the dawn of time, the term genre fiction has referred to books that fit into cookie-cutter-like categories such as science fiction, romance, mystery, fantasy, horror, historical, young adult, etc. But take a closer glance at any bookshelf today, and you might be surprised to see how much the lines between genre fiction and mainstream fiction are blurring.

Like gravity, our writing is sometimes boundless, shapeless, and container-less, and full of real-world concepts and perspectives that flow from one genre to the next like water.

Good fiction is a very subjective concept, especially in the writing world. Fiction that holds meaning to one reader can seem utterly unappealing and boring to another. Beautiful writing lives in the eyes of the beholder and whichever form your writing takes, just know that it’s your words and story that hold meaning.

Genre’s are selling points, not death sentences

Although extremely helpful when it comes to the marketing aspect of your novel and the industry alike, keep in mind that your novel’s genre is not everything.

Similar to a conveyor belt in a factory, genres can often feel like air tight boxes novels are placed into and then sorted by the publisher aka converyer belt into neatly assorted packages. Though necessary, the industry has developed a gridlock perception of what genre- fiction is, and rather than allowing a novel to take the natural form of whichever container the story chooses writers often spend far too much time wondering exactly what box their story fits in. Or how their novel will sell within the industry. Rather than focusing on the joy of creating their story.

For example, though the protagonists of New Adult fiction are generally older than young adults. Try not to spend all your time writing fiction targeting a specific audience. Receiving a rejection letter from a publisher based on whether or not your Young Adult Sci-Fi novel is actually New Adult can be challenging to understand exactly where your story belongs. But keep in mind while writing that fitting into the lines just to appease genre was never your main goal.

Cross-Genre Fiction Promotes Industry Diversity and Thinking Outside the Box

Despite what the industry tells us, versatile novels should be rooted in their ability to connect to readers of all interests and backgrounds because some stories are just that freaking awesome! A great novel redefines the concept of art by not fitting easily into a category or genre, yet still telling a great story. By creating stories that an audience would not consider a specific genre alone, it forces that industry to re-think what genre truly is and how to evolve beyond it.

Whether your story takes the form of a childish scribble that somehow ended up in between worlds of middle grade and young adult. Or a prophetic montage of emotions seductively strung together in an epic Sci-Fi/romance novel. No matter the form your story takes, the ability to connect to your audience through your story is the ultimate goal.

3 Afro-Futuristic Novels To Explore in 2020 That Will Transport You Into A New World

By Self-Love Contributing Editor Taylre R. Malloy

When people think of science fiction as a genre, they usually think of books about dystopian societies occupying other planets with all-powerful sentient cyborg technological advancements, written predominately by white men in their late forties.

These books are widely considered masterpieces of science fiction and literature, but at the same time fail to depict the entire saga of humanity’s possible futures. Afro-futurism depicts the future as told from the eyes of the African diaspora. Below are three stellar Afro-futuristic novels destined to transport your imagination into new realms.

Wild Seed By Octavia Butler

“In an “epic, game-changing, moving and brilliant” story of love and hate, two immortals chase each other across continents and centuries, binding their fates together — and changing the destiny of the human race.”
-Viola Davis

I first encountered Octavia Butler’s Wild Seed during my senior year in high-school. Although Wild Seed was not on the approved book list for my AP Literature course, I quickly became addicted to the novel’s breathtaking story line, supernatural Afro-futuristic language and scenery, and cosmically addictive characters.

As a breathtaking love story across dimensions, space, and time, Wild Seed reconnects souls from past, present, and future. Exploring power dynamics between two divinely cosmic beings, Wild Seed depicts the inter-dimensional story of Doro and Anyanwu.

As with the lives of most immortals, relationships, love, and memory pass through Doro and Anyanwu’s life like sunsets. Each navigates the world in their own supernatural way, fusing and gaining experiences from mortals, and always knowing that immortality itself comes with a price. Their superhuman gifts connect them and like gravity, Anyanwu and Doro are drawn to each other. Not even time can sever their bond.

As a true speculative fiction hybrid, Wild Seed welcomes readers immediately into the supernatural world of black immortality. For 3700 years, Doro has survived this plane by inhabiting the bodies of the souls he has taken. Doro occupies his time by gathering humans who also have special talents like his. These special humans, whom most would consider witches due to abilities like telepathy or telekinesis, are bred in order to create more meta-humans like Doro. Over the centuries, Doro has yet to meet anyone who even comes close to being his equal. That is until he finds Anyanwu.

Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora

Being the ultimate science fiction nerd, I read Dark Matter during my junior year in college and I’m certainly glad I did. As an anthology, Dark Matter features a plethora of out of this word writers and seers such as Octavia Butler, Nalo Hopkinson, and Stephen Barnes.

In, Derrick Bell’s The Space Traders, we learn of a rather interesting future in which Bell imagines that extraterrestrials offer to give the United States significant advancements in modern technology if all people within the African diaspora can be taken away to outer space and to a planet much more peaceful than Earth is due to factors such as racism, white supremacy, and systematic imperialism.

In light of the recent Black Lives Matter protests worldwide, these stories offer powerful ways to re-imagine the world through new lenses in order to transcend the pain and suffering of all races systematically affected by imperialism and white supremacy.

This awe-inspiring anthology concludes with a breathtaking essay by Octavia Butler called, The Monophobic Response, in which she deeper explores Afro-futuristic concepts involving aliens and the beauty of Black life in galaxies beyond our own.

War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi

The year is 2172 and climate change and nuclear disasters have rendered much of earth unlivable and only the lucky ones have escaped to space colonies in the sky.

In a war-torn Nigeria, battles are fought using flying, deadly mechs and soldiers are outfitted with bionic limbs and artificial organs meant to protect them from the harsh, radiation-heavy climate.

Two sisters, Onyii and Ify, dream of more yet their world requires their sacrifice. Their lives have been marked by violence and political unrest. Still, they dream of peace, hope, and a future together in a world of peace.

I fell in love with this book during the summer of 2020, as I fought the system for my own freedom. Through modern America is often a reflection of a 400 year battle for freedom against racism and white supremacy, War Girls illuminates this same battle as two sisters fight an entire war just to find their peace. I found this novel in particular to be a great representation of the past, present, and future of afro-futurism as a whole.

3 Amazing Crystals To Help Cure Writer’s Block

Amazonite (Light Blue Crystal ) Clear Quartz, Sodalite (Dark Blue Crystal)

For as long as I can remember, crystals and gemstones have always been a great tool to help me connect deeper to my writing, world building, and characters.

There are many amazing ways to benefit from the healing energies of crystals while writing or engaging in the creative process. Wearing crystals in the form of bracelets, necklaces, or pendants can help you focus your mind on the task at hand and set your intentions.

I’ve used many of my crystals as creative writing companions and indeed their supernatural properties surely take me deep into my imagination and into creative writing bliss. Placing a crystal, or two, on my desk while I write, has been proven to help me focus through writer’s block, creativity slumps, and brainstorming new ideas. Below are three creativity stimulating crystals to help cure writer’s block and unleash your inner creative juices.

Clear Quartz Crystals

Whether you’re a creative writer, copy writer, blogger, poet, or journalist, words play a huge role in our lives. If you’re experiencing moments throughout the creative writing process where your just won’t come, placing a clear quartz crystal on or near your writing desk can help your thoughts to flow more freely.

Madagascar Clear Quartz Crystal

Clear Quartz comes in a variety of shapes and sizes and has many benefits and like most crystals, clear quartz is all around us! From timepieces to lasers to jewelry, clear quartz is an amazing conductor of energy, which is why it’s powerful to have nearby.

Whether you wear your clear quartz on your body, carry it in your pocket, or have it sitting near you at work or at home, notice the clarity it brings while in meetings, drafting a new idea, or while editing your novel or poem.

Crystal Clear Thinking Crystal Set: Madagascar Quartz (Cylindrical Shaped Crystal) + Rough Clear Quartz Crystal ( Smaller three Crystals)

Clear Quartz is also great for bringing clarity when you feel overwhelmed, confused, or hazy. Hold your clear quartz in your hand while you reflect and see what insights arise. Quartz can also help you focus on a large creative writing project so having it around you during the brainstorming processes is a powerful way to become electrified by the supernatural clearing effects of clear quartz.

Polished Clear Quartz Crystal Point from my Garden!

Amazonite Crystals

Amazonite is extremely beneficial to all levels of consciousness. The stone itself assists in manifesting new creative insights, universal love, and promotes creativity on all levels.

Amazonite assists with the removal of writer’s block by fostering a deep understanding and knowing when it comes to manifesting your ideas and concepts.

My favorite rough Amazonite Crystal from my garden!

Amazonite promotes inner peace, self-expression, and aids in peaceful confrontation. This crystal especially helps me speak and write my truth through difficult or emotional scenes and perspectives. Amazonite is also known to help reduce stress and worrying when it comes to creative deadlines or writing edits by lending you the ability to communicate efficiently and go with the flow like water.

Renamed after the Amazon river in Brazil, Amazonite can be found in the United States, India, Madagascar, Namibia, and Russia.

Dating back to the ancient Egyptians, Cleopatra and other scribes of royalty wore Lapis Lazuli and black obsidian crystals to improve communication with higher deities. Pharaohs favored lapis lazuli the most, and judges wore Lapis Lazuli emblems to honor Maat, the goddess of truth.

In ancient Egypt, the seventh chapter of the Egyptian Book of the Dead was said to be engraved on Amazonite. Malachite crystals were also powdered and applied to wounds to prevent infection and clear quartz crystals were placed on the dead to help guide them into the afterlife. The uses of Amazonite in both the ancient and modern world are endless!

Sodalite Crystals

If you’re struggling to find the right words for your scene, try writing with a few pieces of sodalite near your writing desk or around your neck.

Like many throat chakra crystals, Sodalite encourages rational thought, objectivity, truth and intuition. Sodalite also is a great communication stone to wear around your neck or wrists in the form of jewelry while writing and helps tremendously with the verbalization of deep thoughts, perspectives, or feelings.

Anti-Writer’s Block Crystal Set: Blue Kyanite (Long Slender) Rough Sodalite (Two rounded crystals)

Sodalite inspires emotional balance and calms the mind and nervous system from panic attacks by enhancing self-esteem, self-acceptance and self-trust. In addition to boosting your creative confidence, sodalite balances the metabolism, boosts the immune system, and overcomes calcium deficiencies making it a great crystal to keep your energy levels high.

If you’re aware of your Chakra’s, crystals can help amplify your throat chakra and can boost creativity and confidence associated with each creative gift the throat chakra vibrates within.

For example, blue stones like Lapis Lazuli, Kyanite, and Sodalite are associated with pleasure, communication, and the throat chakra. Blue or throat chakra stones will help to balance that energy field while you create, thus stimulating the throat chakra even more.

Sodalite Crystals (Rounded Blue Crystals) + Blue Kyanite Crystal (Long Slender Blue Crystal)

As we become more in tune with ourselves and our environment, we can express what we think and what we feel freely. Thus making the creative writing process even more enriching, transcendental, and powerful. So grab a crystal, or two, or three, or four the next time you’re at your writing desk and reconnect to your story again.

The Death of Creativity: 5 Ways Corporate America and School Turn You Into a Cyborg

By Era Writer – Self Love Literature Contributing Editor

With all the changes our world is currently undergoing as a result of the COVID19 Pandemic, the traditional corporate workplace has undergone a much needed update.

I must say that working from home is awesome, depending on my internet connection and choice in pajamas. So awesome that even beyond the COVID 19 Pandemic, many Creatives are asking a very powerful question, why go back to the corporate cubicle…ever? At least physically that is?

Not only has the COVID 19 Pandemic allowed millions of people the opportunity to leave the 8 by 8 confinements of their office or cubicle and return home. It has also sparked a century old debate as to whether or not the traditional corporate model creates free thinking individuals. Or mind-controlled cyborgs. Below are five reasons why.

Both school and corporate America are programmed into us from an early age.

From the early stages of our development, we have been told that knowledge is power. We spend a majority of our childhood tucked away within the traditional schooling environment, only to be told that obtaining a college degree will buy you a golden ticket into Corporate America and financial freedom. A college diploma is perceived to be a golden ticket into prosperity and from the moment we step into school we are groomed by our educators to follow one path.

Though many successful entrepreneurs are perceived as high-flying intellects and all-around business savvy weirdos, who somehow found financial freedom outside of the traditional 9 to 5 workweek. The truth is that most of them didn’t even graduate from college, or from Corporate America either.

Both school and corporate america are designed to teach us to follow someone else’s order. Bells, cubicles, lunch hours, break rooms, and even office politics are all examples of how school is an exact replica of the corporate environment, only much more energy sucking.

Many entrepreneurs walk among us, yet school and corporate America tend to suppress them.

Everyone is an entrepreneur! Yes including yourself. But most of us just don’t know it yet…and for good reason, as the knowledge of entrepreneurship is not for just anyone. If a majority of Creatives became privy to the knowledge it takes to leave Corporate America forever, the System would crash overnight.

The truth is, Corporate America needs employees to work for it forever, and thus the training of employees is set into motion long before we ever become adults. Likewise, the process of creating workers begins quite prematurely when most of us attend grade school during our initial ages of development in the one place no one suspects, that’s right…school.

Like school, corporate America promotes conformity and an overall lack of originality.

Have you ever wondered why we hear about so many entrepreneurs dropping out of college? Strange phenomenon indeed. This is because the current education system in the United States and the United Kingdom drums into us from a young age the necessity to assimilate.

By forcing children to think within the box, the education system willingly produces employees for the corporations. Thus these young minds later become integrated into the corporate matrix, and if they work hard enough they’ll soon develop a limited perspective on entrepreneurship, just like their parents. The cycle goes on.

School and Corporate America punish free thinkers by glorifying followers and idolizing droids.

It may be hard to imagine school curriculums as powerful, mind-controlling organizations whose main agenda is to mold the minds of entire generations of thinkers to obey the corporations at all costs.

At the same time, many disobedient and often deviant thinkers are punished by the current education system, thus enforcing the pressure to conform. Those who abide by the rules in school are rewarded with compliments, grades, and further opportunity. On the contrary, the students who rise up against this type of manipulation are deliberately made into examples for other students not to follow. The same goes for the workplace.

Both school and corporate America are highly experienced in the art of mind control.

From birth, the greatest lesson the current education system teaches us is that in order to achieve perceived future success and advancement, one must excel through the use of standardized examinations and coursework. Thus the cycle continues. This programming is foolproof and has been going on for generations.

So if you find yourself questioning, do I have to attain a master’s degree in order to leave my corporate job and become a successful entrepreneur, as you daydream about your budding start-up? Think again. Research highlights that many of the most affluent entrepreneurs who’ve made a life outside the system do not have a college degree. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Mark Zuckerberg, a few notable college drop-outs to call attention to, and Richard Branson never even made it to college. The list goes on.

The truth is, true success is not about how much you can memorize in school, or how high you think your climbing along the never-ending later of Corporate America. True success comes from within and is all about the cultivation of your own unique gifts and talents.

We spend so much time in school and Corporate America that we often forget who we are. Now that we have time away from our corporate environments, it’s important to get in tune with your creative gifts. It is through the cultivation of our unique gifts and talents, and not someone else’s, that will free us from our corporate jobs forever. So build your empire.

Fight The Power: 3 Feminist Friendly Books That Empower You To Say No to The Patriarchy

A revolution is brewing! All across the planet, a new kind of Feminine Consciousness has sparked! Fortunately, we now live in an era where countless movements, novels, organizations, and media strive to open our minds daily by reminding this world of the beauty and courage it takes to be a woman.

Within the Age of Information, the gift of the Divine Feminine has never felt more empowering. But with this great power, comes great responsibility and awareness of the past, present, and perhaps future events that have helped uplift the divine consciousness of women worldwide.

Whether you consider yourself a feminist or you’re new to the term altogether, there can be a lot to understand when it comes to the world of black feminism, feminism, intersectionality, and the women’s movement as a whole. Below are three Feminist-Friendly books that empower you to stand up to The Patriarchy, and in doing so say yes to a new future in which all human beings are represented equally.

Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches By Audre Lorde

I remember as if it were yesterday! The first time I read Audre Lorde’s, Sister Outsider: Essay and Speeches, I felt like I could conquer this Universe!

It was the summer of 2010 and I just arrived back to my dorm room from my Black Feminism Class, in just enough time to escape an afternoon rainstorm, and I couldn’t be more excited to escape the patriarchy and read.

As one of the most prolific female thinkers within the realm of Black Feminism, Audre Lorde writes with a daring honesty and majesty that echoes her inner truths. It is this very honesty that empowered me as a young writer to always speak my truth.

By definition, Audre Lorde defines feminism as womanism. This bold and magical term was first coined back in the 1980s, as a result of the deep sense of exclusion felt by Black women within an alternate gender movement. Audre Lorde is most certainly one of the names that often come up in discussions about Womanism, and for good reason.

In Lorde’s eyes, womanism is a social theory based on the history and everyday experiences of women of color, especially black women. It seeks, according to womanist scholar Layli Maparyan, to “restore the balance between people and the environment/nature and reconcile human life with the spiritual dimension.”

Born in New York, at the height of the Harlem Renaissance, Audre Lorde’s very existence as a queer black female writer symbolizes a cultural movement steeped within the African-American Feminine identity. Often targeted by society, the African American Feminine identity is one of many that womanists seek to uplift against the current injustices worldwide.

As a queer black woman, Lorde gravitated to the feminist movement with concerns that were very different from her heterosexual white female leaders. As a result, her acute awareness of this difference informed a lot of her politics, thus fueling her identity as a writer, speaker, poet, woman, and political activist nationwide.

Feminist Fight Club: An Official Survival Manual (For A Sexist Workplace) by Jessica Bennett

According to the Oxford dictionary, feminism is defined as the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes. Yet for so many women of color, the feminist movement fails to provide the necessary inclusion when it comes to the liberation of black culture within a post-racist America. The movement surrounding feminist principles is one striving for ultimate equality between the sexes in all aspects of life.

When Jessica Bennett and her female colleagues noticed pervasive sexism at their workplace, they formed an alliance, a Feminist alliance more formally known as Fight Club, and I couldn’t think of a better way to fight back against The Patriarchy.

Every month, a powerful group of women vowed to come together against all odds to discuss their experiences, share advice and tactics, and provide support. Bennett, an award-winning journalist and critic who covers gender issues, sexuality and culture, explains that a Feminist Fight Club is, a group you call your squad.

This amazingly beautiful and powerful group is not just for fluff, but is more like a global network of women who seek the tools to fight back daily against The Patriarchy. The Feminist Fight Club is an army of women who support you, who advise you, who lift you up when you need it, your unconditional professional support system, your girl gang.

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay is a best-selling author, teacher and all-around feminist bad-ass. On an average week, she teaches three days-worth of classes at Purdue University. The other four days, she travels the country doing professional appearances and book signings.

First published in 2014, Bad Feminist became an instant best- seller, and for good reason. Women (and men) all around the planet are eager to help raise awareness about the feminist movement and most importantly balance the scales.

In today’s political climate, everybody has an opinion on what the word feminism means. So much so, that it could make a woman feel bad about being her natural self. Lorde’s, Bennett, and Gay’s novels are just a few books that have helped change the way women, especially Millennial women, looked at feminism worldwide. Share these works with others so that the message of woman-empowerment can continue to grow into the future!

Self-Love is a Superpower: Three Books That Will Inspire Inner Confidence

In the age of information, when self-doubt becomes the new kryptonite, inner confidence is everyone’s superpower. But can you imagine what life would be like if you had unlimited confidence? If you learned to embrace your true self (including your imperfections, mistakes, and cellulite).

For starters, you would finally be free to be your true self and build unshakable, sustainable inner tranquility. You would begin to feel liberated from childhood traumas, and practically immortal to past heartaches and pains. Below are five books that build inner confidence.

In the age of information, confidence is vital to maintaining a balanced mind, body, and spirit. When we feel confident in ourselves we are more equipped to demolish our goals and optimize our potential. Confidence gives us that extra shield from the world when we face rejection, financial hardships, and heartache. Like Kryptonite for Superman, doubt deactivates who we are. But confidence in so many words is your superpower! Below are three books that will help you boost your confidence meter in no time.

Like She Owns the Place: Give Yourself the Gift of Confidence and Ignite Your Inner Magic by Cara Alwill Leyba

The truth is that confidence isn’t about living up to anyone’s expectations—it’s about affirming, every day, that you’re an effing boss. It’s not the result of being skinny, making a six figure salary, finding your dream partner, or drinking a green juice every day. It requires patience, dedication, forgiveness, bravery, and an incredible amount of self-compassion.

You’ve probably read that “confidence is a choice,” and while that’s true, it’s more accurate to say that confidence is a series of repeated choices to accept yourself. To choose pride over insecurity. And to fearlessly show up in the world as the truest expression of yourself.

It took me a long time to overcome all the BS. It took me a longer time to develop a rock-solid sense of inner-peace and become intimate with my intuition. To achieve real confidence that lasted longer than a sugar rush.

My goal with this book is to share with you how I have arrived here, how I’ve helped my clients arrive here, and hopefully save you years of pain, shame, and uncertainty. Because, girl, I know how rocky this road can be. I’m going to show you how to block out all the noise around you, and how to free yourself from the opinions and judgment of others. I’m going to teach you how to trust your gut, reclaim your life, and rock what you’ve got. 

I’m going to show you how to own the place.

Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be (Rachel Hollis)

With painful honesty and fearless humor, Rachel unpacks and examines the falsehoods that once left her feeling overwhelmed and unworthy, and reveals the specific practical strategies that helped her move past them. In the process, she encourages, entertains, and even kicks a little butt, all to convince you to do whatever it takes to get real and become the joyous, confident woman you were meant to be.

Rachel Hollis may have started out as a Hollywood party planner, but she switched gears when she founded The Chic Site, an online platform focused on helping women improve their lives in the form of small, actionable steps.

Her book takes the same approach when it comes to diving into the mindsets that get in the way of self-esteem and how to turn them around. Hollis begins each chapter with a specific lie she once believed about herself, then analyzes it and provides tools for like-minded women to stop believing it. One chapter begins with the lie, “I’ll start tomorrow,” followed by the ways Hollis found the motivation to always keep promises she makes to herself.

With unflinching faith and rock-hard tenacity, Girl, Wash Your Face shows you how to live with passion and hustle–and how to give yourself grace without giving up.

The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance

In this book, broadcast journalists Katty Kay (BBC and NBC News) and Claire Shipman (ABC’s Good Morning America) draw practical advice from their own life experiences, as well as those of other prominent women in media, business and politics. They combine these ideas with research in genetics, behavior, cognition and gender to arrive at self-esteem advice for women of all ages. “The newest research shows that we can literally change our brains in ways that affect our thoughts and behavior at any age,” the authors write. “A substantial part of the confidence code is… our choice. With diligent effort, we can all choose to expand our confidence. But we will get there only if we stop trying to be perfect and start being prepared to fail.”

Library Love: Five Reasons Why Libraries Are So Important to Humanity

I love libraries! I mean really, it’s kind of hard not to! Free books, coffee, and information often housed within neat, well-lit, and historical spaces. Wonderful nooks and cozy crannies to explore, and not to mention some of the best writing spaces in the world!

Not only was I able to finish my first young adult science fiction novel inside my local library. But I also work in one. So as a writer and an avid library-lover, I’ve been blessed enough to enjoy the best of both worlds! I hope you can also! Below are five reasons why libraries are so important to humanity.

We are Living Libraries

Just like a smartphone, the human mind has been endowed with the exact same ability to access tons of information. Like the internet, libraries help us activate information and remind us that knowledge is power. Libraries also help us spread and share knowledge with the world and the ones we love the most.

UNAM Central Library – Mexico City, Mexico

Not only are libraries places we go to learn something new about the world. Libraries are information ciphers that help connect us to our self. Libraries are reservoirs of knowledge strategically placed within the community to help us see the world from a different perspective. Libraries help us explore various parts of society and most importantly they help provide enlightenment and understanding where doubt or fear once lived.

Peckham Library – London, U.K.

In the infamous words of New York Times best-selling novelist and American Library Association National Ambassador for Young Adult Literature, Jason Reynolds, “If my body is a temple, like my mama said, then it is possible that my body could be a library, maybe what librarians really are, are architects, and your libraries are warehouses where we build human libraries.”

New York Times Best-Selling Novelist, Jason Reynolds

Libraries Encourage Sacred Creative Spaces

Over the years, I’ve grown to appreciate libraries because they expect little from the individual, yet give so much to the community. Libraries offer a safe space for creativity, curiosity, and inspiration to blossom. When you walk into your local library, you’re often greeted and welcomed. If there’s no greeting, no worries! I’m sure if you wander around long enough you’ll find a great book waiting for you!

Library of Alexandria, now Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Egypt

Unlike schools, libraries don’t come with a curriculum and textbooks. But instead free Wi-Fi, endless aisles of books, and cozy fireplaces to warm your entire being!

In the library, there are no teachers to tell us what to read and think, nor parents to tell us who to be in this life, just librarians who mind their business.

Libraries Encourage Time Travel

Whenever I browse the aisles at my local library, I find myself awestruck by the entire science fiction and fantasy section. I skim for books that will give me the chance to experience an epic revolution on an alien planet. Or quench my thirst for a breathtaking coming of age novel post humanoid invasion. Browsing for something new to read in the library has become a ritual.

Libraries encourage wandering, which in library-land we call browsing. You know that in-between worlds sort of mental space in which you find yourself one with the shelves as you scan each opening for a new story that is destined to take your mind into worlds your imagination has yet to explore.

Philological Library, Free University of Berlin – Berlin, Germany

Libraries Are Resilient

People often flock to libraries in the heat of economic downturns because libraries are resilient. Fundamentally operating as a safe space for budding creatives, readers, and knowledge seekers, a library serves as the perfect place to get people out of their house and into an uplifting and productive environment.

Vườn Ao Chuồng, Vietnam Library

People from all backgrounds come to the library to get out of their norm and into their imagination. Libraries offer cozy cafes, hand painted lattes, and amazing pastries. They house a wealth of other resources to. As such, libraries serve as a databases for humanity, making them a vital ingredient to humanity’s future.

Libraries Are Technology Detox Zones

I love libraries because they give me an excuse to turn off my cell phone and sit in silence, one of life’s most cherished pleasures.

Cerritos Millennium Library – Cerritos, California, USA

In the Age of Information, escaping technology can be an impossible mission as technology is all around us. Though most libraries do have free WiFi and materials to help connect you to the internet, they also encourage patrons to disconnect from the digital world and simply decompress.

Seattle Public Library, USA

There have been times when I came into the library with the intention of spending an hour or two on the internet doing research, only to end up falling in love with an amazing book and my phone never seeing the light of day. Libraries provide the tranquility necessary for people to hear themselves think and most importantly the inspiration to put those thoughts into action. It is this very ability that has helped many great writers like Karl Marx, Betty Friedan, Era Writer, and many more to create their best work inside their favorite library. The only question left to ask now is, what does your library mean to you?

Five Creative Writing Hacks to Create the Perfect Writing Space in 2020

When you close your eyes and imagine your most creative writing-space, what type of atmosphere do you visualize? For me, my imagination instantly takes me across the planet to the Utopian island of Bali, swinging somewhere on a hammock while drinking an exotic passion flower tea overlooking the rain forest. However my bank account quickly zaps me back into reality.

The truth is, where you write makes a tremendous impact on how you write. Like water, nutrients, and sunlight for plants it is important to remember that your creative environment affects pretty much everything. It took me a long time to discover this truth. But when I finally did have that “ah ha” moment, I didn’t waste anytime building my very own creative space. Creating the perfect writing atmosphere is never to hard, so no worries! Below are five creative hacks to help you create the perfect writing space in 2020.

My Dream Writing Desk

Creative Tip #1 Find Your Zen

Are you a fan of writing in a noisy, yet super cozy coffee shop? Or do you prefer writing through the roaring laughter of your kiddos on a sunny Saturday afternoon? Or do you prefer to write alone in your office? Whatever the distraction, its important to realize that finding your zen is key to exceptional writing!

This may not seem like a total revelation for most writers. You know those out of this world type writers who can write in virtually any circumstance. If you’re one of those writers then you can just skip this tip. But for those select few writers who need that extra dash of tranquility to reach their creative zen, this ones for you!

To find your creative zen, you don’t need to look far. All you need to do is ground yourself, take a few deep breathes, and ask yourself a few questions. Do you like to write in quiet spaces? Or are you okay with noisy ones? Do you like to write alone within the comfort of your home? Or are you a bit more extroverted? Are you okay with writing in public? Or do you prefer to write in spaces that are a bit more conventional like a library? Or your own personal work space? Are you open to writing in nature? Or do you prefer to write at a desk?

Now that you have grounded yourself, it is important to note that all of these questions gave me deeper insight into the type of writer I truly am. What I discovered after answering these questions is that when it comes to the perfect writing environment, I enjoy the best of both worlds. I appreciate variety in my creative space so at times I can vibe out in a nosy coffee shop. But I also love the thought of coming home and being able to write in the comfort of my own personal office or work space.

Super Cool Writing Space that I love!

Finding your zen is simple and it doesn’t require you to go out and purchase fancy incenses, candles, or tranquil decor. Although, if you like those, that’s great! Finding your zen is all about getting in tune with your inner creative being, your story, and your environment.

You do not need to become one with your creative space, you only need to connect to yourself by finding comfort and peace within whatever writing space you’re in. For me, this begins with lighting a candle, or playing my favorite music in the background while I write. I also love to brew a warm cup of tea to get my creative juices flowing.

Writing while its raining outside is a great way to reconnect me to my creativity and I’ve found that connecting with whatever season it is while writing can help you generate fresh new details into your story. For me, there’s something about the rain that instantly takes me to a distant planet and deeper into my creative zen space!

Feng shui aside tips aside, tapping into your creative zen doesn’t necessarily mean yoga at your writing desk or even meditation. Instead, try tapping into that state of mind that allows you to be calm and creative, even while writing in a high-stakes situation.

Whether it’s in preparation for an impeding publication date. Or getting into the zone to check off your writing to-do list, your surroundings, vibe, and energy definitely play a pivotal role in your creative process. Finding your zen ultimately begins with embracing whatever writing environment your in, focusing on your story, and finding what works for you.

Creative Hack #2 Feed Your Creative Mind

A story is a seed, and like a plant, you must use your imagination to water and nurture your novel. It’s important to always remain curious and open and stay hungry for inspiration as you embark on the writing process. I use my creative space not just as a space to get work done. But to also remain open to the creative process and brainstorm new writing topics and ideas. This magical process of creative receptivity helps us all stay inspired and there are a million ways in which you can feed your inner creative genius.

Expressing yourself through creativity is a superpower, and owning your creativity is akin to unleashing your superpowers to the world. As important as it is to express your creativity, you also need to designate a “safe space” within your personal home for creative purposes. For me, this area is my office and I do my best to keep this space pure and designated only for novel writing purposes.

I use sage and other incenses and aromatherapy tools to purify my creative space and jump-start the creative process. I have found that lemongrass essential oil is a great way for me to push myself into the creative process quicker. Having a window within your creative space can seem like a distraction, but if you’re like me having a window can help you breathe while you work through the writing process. There’s something about natural sunlight and the blue sky outside that helps me focus and relax.

Creative Hack #3 Show Up to Your Creative Space

A little secret about us Creatives, you’re muse is always with you, even when you can’t feel it so make sure you don’t show up to your creative space daily and try not to stand your muse up!

When you create, your whole self is showing up for that moment of creativity. Just simply showing up to your writing space and sitting there, even with a blank page staring back at you, helps tremendously. When you’re truly present in the creative moment, distractions minimize and you become acutely aware of your ideas. From this place, you are able to create from new perspectives and more importantly you are ready for inspiration the moment it sparks!

Creative Hack #4 Listen to Your Soul

Your soul is where your creativity resides, where emotional desires are at play in union with the bigger picture of your life. Your soul is creative, but it isn’t crazy. Unlike persistent stereotypes of highly creative people, you soul wants you to know you are safe, sacred, and serene.

But let’s get real: getting in touch with your pure being is a little more complicated than plugging in a GPS and following an automated voice. It takes a bit of work. For creativity to reach your soul and resonate deeply, keep these six points in mind.

Creative Tip #5 Shake Things Up a Bit!

In some areas in life, routines are necessary. But in the world of creativity, routines often kill your creative vibes before they can come to life. Even during the moments when you feel trapped in writer’s block, keep writing! Try to look at your story from a different angle. If you write on a computer, try switching over to writing in your journal. If your writing by hand, try typing your work just to increase your versatility.

One of the most profound ways for me to feed my creative mind is to break away from monotony. If you normally write in the morning, try writing at night. If you write at night, switch your time to sunrise. Within the Age of Information we face enough monotony, so try not to bring this creativity killing vibration into your creative space. Discipline is great, but always remember that routine kills creativity.

4 Lessons in Creativity That Writing Children’s Books Have Taught Me in 2019

One of the greatest gifts that 2019 has bestowed upon me is the opportunity to publish two self-love children’s picture books, Mother Africa, and The Universe Within. The writing, editing, printing, and distribution processes of each book has offered me great enlightenment about the publishing industry, children’s book market, and about myself as a writer. Below are four wonderful lessons that writing children’s picture books have taught me during the year 2019 and beyond!

My very first children’s book Mother Africa, published July 6, 2019

Inspiration is limitless.

From a self-love poem to a self-published children’s book, the inspiration for The Universe Within sparked while writing alone in a coffee shop during my lunch break. The writing process for The Universe Within taught me so much about life and creativity. Like all living creatures on this planet, we are all born of the same creative and supernatural spark that formed this universe. This creative spark exists in everything, and if you open your heart wide enough you’re able to see this sacred spark of consciousness undulating through all living things.

Writing children’s books helped me tune into the divine creative fire deep within my soul, thus activating my creative awareness and story-generating abilities. Throughout my world-building process, I was able to create many stories for children that where about virtually any concept. That’s the beauty of children’s books, the imagination is endless and inspiration can come from anything. The sky was never the limit!

Me holding the very first copy of Mother Africa

Our childhood reflects our imagination.

One of the most valuable lessons that writing children’s literature has taught me is that real-life writes the most magnificent stories! Living in the world of children’s picture books has taught me to not just narrate my life, but to also create it. Most importantly that same act of creation is happening all around us whether we are aware of it or not.

Speaking of creation, the concept for my latest children’s book, The Never-Ending Homework, manifested from a funny interaction with my niece Samirah while working one lovely Sunday morning during a thunderstorm. The story came to me so fast! I was writing a short story for a local publication when I heard a special knock on the door. To my surprise, it was my niece Samirah, and like most kiddos, she wanted to play!

Me reading the very first copy of Mother Africa to my niece Samirah

Through the half-cracked door, Samirah peered at my writing desk and smiled before entering. “Auntie Tay Tay, wanna play dolls with me?” She politely asked. I smiled from over my laptop screen and told her sure, and before I knew it Samirah was already making her way over to explore. She began to question why I sit behind my computer desk all the time and soon revealed that she wanted to play more often, but we couldn’t because I’m always doing homework.

After explaining to her that I was actually writing a story and how much I truly enjoy writing, she became more interested in the writing process. It was at that moment when I suggested to her that we should write a story together about homework and thus The Never-Ending Homework was born! Stay tuned for more information on this lovely little book in May of 2020! Did I forget to mention that my niece Samirah Shareef will be doing the illustrations!!

The Universe has a plan for your stories.

My second children’s book, The Universe Within, published August 6, 2019

As a writer, I don’t know if anyone has ever told you that your stories and experiences matter and that the universe has a plan for you and every book it inspires you to create and share with this world.

This lovely lesson really touched my heart at the end of this year when I was able to pitch both of my children’s books to my local library. Thankfully my job as a library specialist gave me a platform to share my stories with the world. I’m so blessed to have this experience and most importantly share it with others.

Creativity is power.

The inspiration to write my second children’s book sparked in January 2019. Perhaps from a miracle within the universe, I was given the inspiration to create The Universe Within for a reason, despite the challenges within my life, and I was convinced that the story would inevitably go on to inspire young readers worldwide. Building self-love and confidence in young readers has always been my goal, especially in a world full of so many hurdles.

When I found out that The Universe Within would eventually circulate through other libraries and into a wider audience, I felt as joyful and bright as the sun. The entire experience from a self-love poem to a self-published children’s book has truly empowered me as a story-teller and I’m very excited to create more children’s books in the future. My message to you is to keep creating your stories because you never know whose life they will change and who your stories will reach!

Vulnerability Leads to a Masterpiece.

My very first children’s book, Mother Africa taught me a great deal about vulnerability. You’ll never know how beautiful your art is until you put it out into the world to be experienced by others. While writing Mother Africa, it felt like I was naked and somewhat exposed to the world because this was my very first children’s book and prior to its publication, I didn’t have any publishing experience. Self-publishing in so many words can feel like jumping headfirst off of Mt. Kilimanjaro and into the sky! At first, the jump is scary, but the more you give in to the fall, the quicker you learn to fly. Despite the fear of flying, I continued along my publication process and in turn, my children’s book came to life!

I received the first copy of Mother Africa by mail and couldn’t be more thrilled to see my story bursting with life. My first children’s book had finally materialized into form and from here the process of self-publishing became my creative spark. My mission is to help ignite this spark in others along the self-publishing journey.

The Art of Resurrection: Three Books That Helped Me Break Free From Corporate America in 2019

Six months ago, my life was upside-down. Like many professionals, I felt trapped within cubicle land and all I could think about was escaping the soul-sucking abyss, more formally known as Corporate America.

Over the years, the corporate life had made me far less of a creative, and more of a zombie. Deep down I knew I was living out of alignment with my true self. But didn’t quite yet have the confidence to break free. Like Neo, I had taken the blue pill and didn’t know how to recover from it.

Longing to tap into my own creative gifts and talents, I began to crave a career path more aligned to my soul mission. I dropped the credit savvy financial life and entered a reality full of world-building, character development, and creativity. The bland, sterile audits I once generated for local financial firms soon became bold new sentences and paragraphs. And it wasn’t long before this very blog post was born. Below are three books that have helped me break free from corporate America

UnF*Ck Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Life By Gary John Bishop

Unf*ck Yourself is one of the first books that brought me back to life from the Corporate environment. Joining the ranks of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, You Are a Badass, and F*ck Feelings comes this refreshing, BS-free, self-empowerment guide that offers an honest, no-nonsense, tough-love approach to help you move past self-imposed limitations.

UnF*Ck yourself helped me get out of my mind and into my heart. Encouraging me to live life on my terms, and most importantly creatively, this book helps free your mind from the chains that most corporate environments place upon you. I highly recommend this book to all those Creatives out there seeking a practical guide to following your passion.

Escape from Corporate America by Pamela Skillings

I remember as if it were yesterday as I gazed at this lovely book upon my desk within my 8 by 8-foot cubicle as I processed claims. Throughout my corporate journey, self-love reading has become my new mantra and self-help books are my new superpower. For me, the creative and spunky worlds that I discovered between the pages of books become a source of freedom.

This is a great book for all those Creatives out there who feel their corporate career has left them stressed out, burned out, or just plain depleted. Written by career expert and corporate escapee Pamela Skillings, Escape from Corporate America inspires the cubicle-bound and the corner-office-cornered to break free and create the career of their dreams–without going broke. So the next time you feel like escaping the Cube life, simply pick up this book and gain some amazing perspective that will surely guide you along your path to freedom.

You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero

What if I told you that the right book can bring any once defeated soul back to life from the corporate environment? I read this book while recovering from my corporate black hole and I must say that this little book is very refreshing.

In this amazingly entertaining how-to guide, bestselling author and world-traveling success coach, Jen Sincero, serves up 27 bite-sized chapters full of hilariously inspiring stories, sage advice, easy exercises, and the occasional swear word, helping you to identify and change the self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors that stop you from getting what you want, and help you create a life you totally love.

By the end of You Are a Badass, you’ll understand why you are how you are, how to love what you can’t change, how to change what you don’t love, and how to use The Force to kick some serious ass thus jump-starting you on your escape from Corporate America.

The Gift of Rejection: How Rejection Helped Me Transcend Doubt as a Writer

As a writer, over the years, I’ve come to realize that rejection is not a curse fatefully bestowed upon us by the writing Gods themselves, but rejection is in fact a very valuable gift. Like most writers, I’ve experienced rejection in my life at least one thousand times or more. Facing rejection in writing is tough, but the emotions that come as a result of rejection is even tougher. The grappling thoughts of what if I’m not good enough, or when will I be a good enough writer swarm like a sea of molten hot lava inside your creative mind.

All of these questions force a writer to contemplate the power of their words and future stories. But I’m here to remind you to never give up! Below are three brilliant writers who were initially rejected and their words of empowerment that helped them reignite the spark to write again.

J.K Rowling

J.K Rowling received over 12 initial rejection letters for her Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, before ever getting the okay to see her work on the shelves.

On a delayed train ride from Manchester to King’s Cross Station in London, the unforgettable characters Harry Potter, Ronald Weasley, and Hermione Granger were born to the mind of a young temp named Joanne Rowling. Later changed by publishers to Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone, one of the greatest children’s stories of all time would soon be known to the world.

But finishing the book was only the beginning. Rowling knew she would need to convince editors and agents to believe in her work as much as she did. Like most writers, her first attempt ended in rejection. Despite receiving 12 more rejections she belief that Harry Potter was a story people would read, thus Rowling remained motivated despite her initial setbacks.

It took an alleged thirteen attempts for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to finally gain acceptance from a publisher. Hitting shelves on July 26, 1997, to publishers surprise the book became an immediate success. Overnight, Rowling was catapulted from her small apartment in Edinburgh to worldwide recognition. Her words of enlightenment when it comes to rejection can be magically summed up in the following quote.

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

-J.K Rowling

Tomi Adeyemi

Tomi Adeyemi, a 25-year-old Nigerian-American novelist, wrote her first novel when she was 5 years old. She loved writing, and herself, so much that she decided to create her fictional twin named Tomi, but it wouldn’t be until she was 18 years old when she wrote any other African American characters. For Tomi, this love of portraying her people, culture, and their magic would soon become the foundations of her popular YA best-selling novel, Children of Blood and Bone.

“You can make something out of every unfinished story and every rejection if you work at it.”

-Tomi Adeyemi

Now dominating the New York Times Best-Seller list for over 51 weeks, Children of Blood and Bone was rejected by 60 agents, ten of whom offered feedback. In Adeyemi’s words, “what I got from most of them was, ‘You have something, but I can’t sell this’.” Adeyemi noticed that the books that had lit up the young-adult world in her childhood, such as “Harry Potter” and “Twilight”, were of a different time, and young readers were looking for something new, fresh and exhilarating. “I realized we were in a whole new world,” she says and as a result she continued her journey toward publication and is now working on completing her world acclaimed series.

“If you want to write, just believe that you can, because it’s about perseverance.

-Tomi Adeyemi

Isaac Asimov

At the inquisitive age of 15, Asimov applied to Columbia College but was rejected because the institutions “quota for Jews for the coming year was already filled. Hoping to become a doctor, Asimov applied to five medical schools in New York, but was rejected by every last one of them. For good measure, he reapplied, and was turned down by each of them once more. He also applied to Columbia’s graduate school for chemistry, and was later denied entrance. But this did not stop Asimov, but helped guide him along his one true path.

Though applying to college can be equally intimidating as querying a literary agent, the two experiences go hand in hand. Ironically, Asimov who was initially rejected by some of the most notable institutions in Higher Education went on to write over 20 novels and short stories which later became the foundations for blockbuster Hollywood films such as Bicentennial Man and I, Robot.

Despite rejection, Asimov went on to become one of the most prominent names in Science Fiction. His prolific thoughts on rejection are reflected within the quotation below.

“You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you’re working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success – but only if you persist.”

-Isaac Asimov

As a writer, rejection rarely comes without an explanation (Assuming that the agent has time to reply to your query at all). But the next time you experience rejection try to keep in mind some of the quotes from your favorite writers and most importantly never give up. Below is an example of a recent rejection letter I received from my dream literary agent. But no worries, the show goes on!!

A Screenshot of my latest Query sent to my Dream Literary Agent, only to receive a lovely Form Rejection Letter

“This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don’t consider it rejected. Consider that you’ve addressed it ‘to the editor who can appreciate my work’ and it has simply come back stamped ‘Not at this address’. Just keep looking for the right address.” 

– Barbara Kingsolver

Why All Modern Writing Systems Date Back to Africa

By Taylre Rene Malloy~Self-Love Literature Contributing Writer

The ancient Egyptians, along with many other early civilizations, knew the healing powers that creative writing generates and attribute all forms of modern written expression as a gift from the ancient Kemetic deity, Tehuti.

More naturally known as the Kemites of ancient Nubia, the Egyptians classified writing as a sacred act, and thus it became important to document and communicate information about spirituality, government, and society within sacred texts. These written scripts could be used to record information. The most famous of all ancient Egyptian scripts are hieroglyphics and through the use of hieroglyphs, scribes were able to preserve the ancient knowledge, history, and ideas of ancient Kemet across the temples, tomb walls, and papyrus scrolls. These papyrus scrolls were used as blueprints during the reconstruction of the dynasties, healing rituals, and mummification.

The Creation of Writing: The Medu Neter 

Did you know that the ancient pyramids across Africa are the world’s eldest books? The word ‘hieroglyphics’ is a Greek word meaning hieroglifikos. Hiero meaning sacred, or holy. Glyph meaning carving. The ancient Egyptians, however referred to their writing system as Medu Neter, or The word of God, as they believed writing had been given to them by the Kemetic deity Tehuti, or Thot (later translated by the Greeks).

Tehuti enlightened human beings with the knowledge of writing and the power of words. Like any benevolent deity, he spread his knowledge liberally. But it was a responsibility he expected of his followers to take the gift of words seriously as words held more spiritual power than most know. Tehuti teaches us that words can hurt, heal, elevate, destroy, condemn, influence and even raise someone from death to life again.

The Power of Words: Tehuti’s Sacred Knowledge

In ancient Egyptian philosophy, words also hold great spiritual energy and were not originally intended for literary or commercial use. Instead, writing was used to provide a means by which certain concepts or events could be brought into existence. The Egyptians believed that if something were committed to writing it could be repeatedly made to happen, by means of manifestation.

The great gift of Tehuti was the ability not only to express one’s self but to literally be able to change the world through the power of words. Before that could happen, however, before the gift could be put to its full use, it had to be understood by those brave enough to seek the origin of its power. Many believed that through the power of words, one can even transcend death. The Egyptian Book of The Dead is a powerful collection of spells that enables the soul of the deceased to navigate the afterlife.

The first funerary texts were the Pyramid Texts, first used in the Pyramid of King Unas of the 5th Dynasty, around 2400 BCE. For the Egyptians death was not the end of life but only a transition from one state of consciousness to another. In an attempt to understand the true meaning behind the words of Tehuti, the original Kemetic name translates to The Book of Coming Forth by Day. The books true purpose, is to instruct the deceased on how to navigate the dangers of the afterlife by enabling them to assume the form of mythical creatures and to give them the passwords necessary for admittance to certain stages of the underworld.

The Egyptian Book of The Dead

Fascinating knowledge to say the least. It is for this very reason that the ancient writing systems of Kemet and Nubia offer much promise to the transcendence and upliftment of humanity no matter the era of time.

Censored: 5 Banned That Teach us to Stand Up to the Powers That Be

By Taylre Rene Malloy~Self-Love Literature Contributing Writer

Welcome to Banned Book Month! By definition, censorship is the regulation of speech and other forms of expression by an entrenched authority. In honor of this year’s banned book week starting September 22nd – 28th, I want to highlight a few of “The Greats” currently on the blacklist whose contents, themes, and universal messages are scheduled for deletion by the Powers That Be to never be read by the public again.

In these times, we the Enlightened must ask ourselves, if knowledge is truly power, then why would a government go to great lengths to censor it? Below are five books currently on the Banned Reading List and five reasons that reading these books can help free your mind.

1984″ By George Orwell

Having repeatedly been banned in the past for its social and political themes, George Orwell’s 1984 is by far one of the most challenged novels in U.S history.

Book censorship, in particular is the strategic removal, suppression, or restricted circulation of literary, artistic, or educational materials, ideas, and information on the grounds that these are morally or otherwise objectionable in the eyes of The Powers That Be. The overall intent of censorship, in any form, is to act as “a kind of safeguard for modern society, typically to preserve norms and values, thus suppressing books that are considered dangerous to a society’s political power.

Who challenged it? First challenged in 1981 by the parents and members of the school board, Orwell’s novel, 1984 was widely considered to be far too “communistic” to read in local school systems. As the ALA argues, these challenges pose a threat to freedom of speech and choice that Americans hold dear and are worth standing up for, yet till this day the ALA continues to censor students from reading 1984 nationwide.

Because 1984 offers insight to those under the leadership of oppressive regimes, this book has been banned and even burned in most countries. The censorship initially began with Stalin in the 1950’s as Stalin claimed Orwell wrote the novel with his administration in mind. Recently, China banned all copies of 1984 from being distributed within their country due to the novel’s heightened scrutiny of mass censorship via technology by corrupt political systems, a society that the world is becoming far too familiar with even today.

As Big brother-like companies, political system’s, and Internet giants make it their obligation to monitor the masses, we The People are pressured to conform to stifling societal norms and oppressive political regimes. When the young are banned from books that teach them how to think for themselves, we automatically subject them to Big Brother policies designed to control them and their future. However, with recent talk on lifting the ban on this book for good, there’s still hope for a brighter future.

The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas

Banned and challenged by The American Library Association shortly after its publication date “The Hate U Give,” by Angie Thomas tells the fictional story of Starr Carter, a 16-year-old African American girl, who is caught between two worlds: the world of the affluent school she attends and the world of the crime-ridden neighborhood of Garden Heights where she lives.

The two worlds viciously collide in the aftermath of the fatal shooting of Starr’s childhood friend by a cop. When the events of the night come into question, Starr must decide whether she will use her voice to rise up against The Powers That Be or remain silent.

Who Challenged It? Inspired by the Black Lives Matter Movement and the 2009 shooting of Oscar Grant, the book was released in February to massive praise, including an unprecedented eight starred reviews.

Yet in Katy, Texas, one parent was unimpressed by Thomas’s frank portrayal of her teenage characters. Thus the Katy Independent School District superintendent decided to overturn the district’s policies in order to pull the book from shelves.

Despite push back from local librarians, till this day the ban remains in place at the expense of any teens who might have hoped to find Thomas’s novel on the shelves in their school libraries. Inspired by the banning, on November 27, 2017, Angie Thomas Tweeted “I’m saddened to hear that a school district in Texas banned #TheHateUGive, but I’m also empowered – you’re basically telling the kids of the Garden Heights of the world that their stories shouldn’t be told. Well, I’m going to tell them even louder. Thanks for igniting the fire.”

Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley

In the Age of Information, the Internet gives humans unlimited access to the largest resivours of knowledge humanity has ever known. Within the palm of our hands, upon the shelves of our libraries, and within the databases of our schools, the internet opens the portal into another realm where the world’s most powerful information can be found. But what if you lived in a society that attempted to censor the internet? Well in Aldous Huxley’s novel Brave New World, this very reality is obsolete.

Who Challenged It? Banned in Ireland when it first appeared in 1932, and removed from shelves and objected to ever since, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World is still very popular today. The novel warns humanity of a dystopian future and is often protested over its sexually explicit scenes, “offensive” language and “insensitivity.” Till this day, the book remains banned in all school libraries for young readers nationwide.

“Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe

Regarded as one of the seminal works of African literature, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe follows the life of Okonkwo, a leader and local wrestling champion in Umofia—a fictional group of nine villages in Nigeria—and his experiences with British colonialism and Christian missionaries. The story reveals the negative effects of white-rule on Okonkwo’s small village, most expressively when he decides to commit suicide instead of being tried in a colonial court.

Who Challenged It? Studied widely in Africa, Europe, and North America, Things Fall Apart has nonetheless received criticism for its portrayal of colonialism and its consequences, and has reportedly been banned in Malaysia and Nigeria. In 2012 it made the list of novels that were challenged in Texas schools for its portrayal of European Colonialism.

Achebe is the essential novelist on African identity and, while Achebe favors the African culture of a pre-western time, he attributes its destruction to the “weaknesses within the native structure.” For this reason, the book is highly Challenged by American school districts countrywide.

“The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games has been challenged for many reasons landing it number three on ALA’s Banned Book List. Banned in 2011 from all schools, The Hunger Games was deemed anti-ethnic, anti-family, and politically insensitive. Various claims were made insisting that the books programs teens to rebel against society creating revolutionists. The main characters, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, are certainly revolutionists indeed as they are forced to fight to the death then a war against their government.

Set after the apocalypse where only North America remains and is split into 13 districts and the Capitol, The Hunger Games tells the story of anarchy and social revolution against a corrupted government. When the 13th district rebels, it is destroyed and the Capitol forces the remaining 12 districts to compete in the Hunger Games, an annual reality T.V. show broadcasted through Panem where two children from opposite genders are placed in an arena to fight to the death.

Who Challenged It? The Hunger Games has been challenged for insensitivity, offensive language, violence and for being anti-family, anti-ethnic and occult/satanic. I can understand some of the reasons why this book was challenged, yet I don’t think it should be banned altogether.

Anytime a book is banned you must read it. There’s a reason a specific government, society, or institution wants to hide a book from the people. Such book contains knowledge that could shift the entire political system as we know it. If the dominate political system in power seeks to hide knowledge and control its citizens for the worse, books like these will inevitably be targeted. Despite the ban, and against all odds, it is up to us to continue to read them.