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Saturday, September 7, 2013

Shawn at 40

This Monday is Shawn’s 40th Birthday.

I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m taking steps towards getting to the next level.

I’ve come a long way and made a lot of progress in 40 years. And I’m working hard to keep moving forward.

All my life I’ve had to work hard. When I was seven I had a brain aneurysm. Most people who survive aneurysms come out of that with severe brain damage. Others who have aneurysms wind up dead instantly. Thankfully I survived the operation in one piece.

When I got back to school, a lot of the kids called me crazy and retarded. That made me want to work hard towards doing well in school and winning awards. My mother wouldn’t let me be a victim, and I didn’t want to be one myself. I wanted to prove to everyone that I was just as capable as the other kids in class. By the time I was finishing High School I was on the Honor roll, and when I got to college I had made the President’s list. Eventually I got that award when I graduated at the top of my college class in 1994.

In my quest for academic and professional excellence I’ve run into roadblocks. Bullies, Hoes, hoodrats, teachers, and jealous co-workers and supervisors. People telling me there was something wrong with me. People telling me I should settle for SSI and government programs. People telling me I should give up.

I refused to listen to them then. And I refuse to listen to them now.

Am I where I want to be? Not Yet. But I have faith in God that I can get there.

When I couldn’t find a full-time job in 1994 after graduating college, I gave myself one: Writer. And in between the day jobs I had and lost over the course of that almost twenty years I still kept writing. Four novels, six novelettes, three screenplays, three non-fiction books and two seasons of a TV sitcom. Along with three blogs a week.

In the last five years my writing has gained a small following. Over 160,000 hits and flirting with 1,000 hits a day. Some other writers like my writing so much have asked me to guest blog for them. Others asked me to write articles for their pages. I even had a column at for a short period in 2010.

When I couldn’t get my books published with a trade publisher I published them myself. Over the last five years I’ve published over 35 titles in paperback and eBook format. When I first started self-publishing in 2002 I had to use a POD publisher Now I make my own books from scratch and teach others like Lawrence Cherry how to make their own paperbacks and eBooks.

I’m still not where I want to be as a writer. I still don’t have that best-selling novel. I don’t have a brand. But I am making progress.

And I’m not where I want to be as a publisher. There are still things I want to do to improve the quality of my paperbacks and eBooks. I still can’t hire out the comic book artists for covers; that’s a big goal for me. I’m still trying to find an effective way to reach readers in promotions, especially young Black kids. I know there’s a way to reach the young brothers and sisters, and expand my reading audience.

Yeah, my books and eBooks aren’t perfect. I still need to work on quality control issues like editing. But I’m still learning and growing. Publishing like life is a marathon, not a sprint.

I thank God for the chance I got to publish my books. I remember a dark period I had from 2002-2008 where I had no money and was living on $2 a day from family. A time where it looked like I had no chance of ever getting my writing out there. During those hard times, I spent my time in my bedroom/office trying to figure out how to make money work for me instead of working for it. Knowing what I wanted to do, but not having the money to do it. At one point writing revisions of All About Marilyn on loose-leaf paper because the laptop I had died and I couldn’t get a job to get the money to buy another one for close to a year and a half. Working hard for a civil service job most people didn’t want me working at trying to make the money to buy the tools I could use to publish books. Losing that job and still following God’s plan where he wanted me to keep going.

I wish more people would see the artistry
and complexity in this novel. It's one of my
best stories! 
There are books I wrote I really wish more people could have discovered like The Temptation of John Haynes or A Recipe For $ucce$$. I wish little Black girls would discover the Isis series and what a great heroine she is. I really wish people could see the nuances in my writing and discover the depth richness and complexity I put in my stories. I wish people would come to appreciate the artistry and craft I put into my novels. I have a lot of great stuff to offer readers, and I wish they’d find my work.

I’ve come a long way from where I was 40 years ago. From sharing a one-bedroom apartment on Park Avenue with a single mother and three other siblings in the South Bronx to an apartment in an OK neighborhood in the South Bronx. I’ve had and lost jobs. And still looking for full-time work somewhere. Still working towards that big break; trying to get that best-selling novel. Working hard towards the day where I can hire brothers and sisters and help them get to that next level as well.

 I’ve come a long way, and I’ve still got a long way to go. My money is at its lowest point, but I’m still hanging in there. A little older, a little wiser and whole lot smarter. Trying to inspire and uplift brothers and sisters with a story. Hoping they’ll get ideas from my writing that will change their lives and start taking their own steps towards moving forward.

There are still lots of things I want to do. Things like publish an Isis graphic novel and produce an All About Nikki Pilot and an All About Marilyn movie. Maybe even write a comic book or two. I know I’m getting older, and time isn’t on my side. But I’m trying to make the most of the time I do have to accomplish those goals before I’m called home by God.

At 40 I’m not giving up. I’m still trying to keep going. Things look hard at the moment, but I can't give up.  I’ve still got so much more I want to do.


  1. Have you ever been anywhere other than new york? What about texas or georgia theres plenty of jobs in both states especially for minorities....

  2. Donate blood and plasma for money

  3. Sale a kidney in the black market overseas........

  4. Get a career in health care examples care taker,live in care provider for older people. Be some body payee represenative examples mentally ill or disable,ssi,handicap.. ....there always hiring....

  5. Try your local temporary employment agencies for work. Some of them offer a temp to hire after 90 days.....

  6. Get your local phone book and check for jobs....

  7. Are you that kid again? Thanks for the help, but I got this. If you wanna help me buy a paperback or an eBook.

  8. Try telemarketing jobs that pay hourly,these types of jobs can pay up to 20.00 an hour. Some offer entry level positions and will train.

  9. Here's an eBook for ya. It's free today.

    Again, Thanks for the help, but I'm good. The best way you can help me is to buy a book or an eBook.

  10. I stumbled on this blog by accident, I like it.