Support Shawn's writng with a donation

Friday, May 31, 2013

America Do The Math! $10 an hour Service Jobs Cannot Revive the U.S. Economy!

I was reading somewhere that fifty percent of Americans are now working for $10 an hour. Down the road that’s bad for the American economy.

Worse, most of the new jobs being created are low-wage part-time jobs in the service sector. And most service sector jobs like fast food, retail and customer service are engineered to turn over in 90 to 180 days.

And the value of that $10 isn’t what it used to be. $10 in America is worth about $5 in 1990’s money and $2 in 1970’s money.

The American economy is on a trajectory to collapse. When one does the math the economic system is just not making enough money to sustain itself. When half the people in the country are making a dollar or two more than minimum wage, that’s not enough money to sustain the United States economy long-term.

People making $10 an hour in jobs that only last anywhere from 90 to 180 days aren’t going to be able to build our economy. A person working in a retail, fast food or customer service job isn’t getting the skills they can build on to take to another employer or start their own business. Six months into a job a person is barely learning how things go in a company; that’s not enough time to build valuable work experience.

And with the way jobs turnover in two to four years in the American job market, American workers aren’t developing the experience necessary to develop proficiency in a trade or a craft. Most people these days know next to nothing about the businesses they work for or how their work relates to other businesses or even their own customers!  It usually takes five to ten years to get the kind of experience where someone is a skilled craftsperson in their work, and today’s job market and its high turnover isn’t helping to create the kinds of workers with the kind of expertise.

Businesses that pay $10 an hour that create jobs that are only designed to last 90 to 180 days aren’t going to be able to sustain the economy long-term. Usually most retail, fast-food or customer service businesses go out of business in 10-15 years. That’s not the kind of business that can help Americans pay for a 30-year mortgage or even a five-year car note or start a family.

That’s why so many people under 35 are still living at home with their parents. Even with a college education, they just don’t make enough money to start living on their own. Compound these low-wage jobs with six-figure student loan debt and it’s a recipe for disaster for the United States economy.

A person making $10 an hour working for 20-25 hours a week isn’t going to pay enough money in taxes to sustain a government and pay for services like roads, fire departments, law enforcement, or traffic lights.

Nor will they make enough money to pay for entitlements like Social Security, Medicare. Senior citizens on fixed incomes have no idea that the money that pays for their retirement benefits is coming from the taxes of those young workers.

And they don’t make enough money to pay for big ticket items such as cars, homes, or expensive high-end appliances. Again, it’s hard to even think of buying a home or a car when you don’t even have enough money left over after paying for a week’s worth of trips on mass transit or putting gas in your car.

Long-term this service-based American economy will eventually cripple not only America’s economy but the global market as well. Americans If 50 percent of middle-class Americans aren’t making enough money to buy the cheap imported goods from the third world, then where are those foreign manufacturers going to get the millions of consumers to buy the products that keep their factories that manufacture those cheap goods running?

And if there is no American middle class to buy cheap imported consumer goods to pay for the cheap labor factories, where are the American companies going to get the money to pay all those wonderful seven figure salaries and bonuses American executives enjoy?

Americans are so disconnected that they have no understanding of how everything in their economic system is interconnected. If one part of the U.S. Economy falls apart, the entire thing will eventually fall apart. Low-wage part-time American workers can’t make enough money to keep rich American businessmen profitiable. Low-Wage part-time American workers can’t make enough money to pay the taxes that allow government to sustain itself.

For all the educated eggheads out there no one is smart enough to see this.

The American service economy created in the early 1980s is clearly unsustainable now. It’s an economic model that’s clearly obsolete. Services can’t be sold or exported. They’re intangible. They have no long-term value. They can’t be used to build wealth. It’s an economic system that does not create jobs that enable people to develop skills to create tangible goods and services.

The service model only creates consumers. Consumers who now only buy goods and from companies who produce cheap imported goods, not American manufacturers. So none of the money stays in the American economic system.

Without a manufacturing base to supplement services, the American economy won’t be able to compete in the global marketplace with countries like China and Russia. The value of the American dollar is dropping every day while the value of foreign currencies go up. Ten dollars in Euros, Rubles, or Chinese money buys more than $10 in American money. So all an American workers wages in those service sector jobs is not helping them get ahead, but left behind.

When half the country is working for $10 an hour or less and the money has less spending power than it did 20 years ago, sooner or later America is going to go bankrupt.

As long as a growing majority of Americans are working in low-wage service sector jobs they can’t get the skills they can use to develop a craft or to develop a business that produce goods and services that can be sold and exported. Unless American companies start creating the right jobs, America’s economy will never pull itself out of the slump it’s been in for almost seven years.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Not all Sex is good Sex

Not all Sex is good sex.

Most Real men like Shawn know this fact. Most foreign men know this fact.

But in America men are raised to believe that all sex is good. And they’re socialized to believe they should take whatever pussy that’s offered to them from women and appreciate it.

No matter how beat up it is. No matter how worn out it is. No matter how dirty and diseased it is. And no matter what type of woman it’s attached to.

Thanks to the false teachings of Madison Avenue and Hollywood, many men think that a woman’s vagina is a rare and precious commodity more valuable than gold and diamonds. And because they believe this lie, whenever any woman offers them a chance to have sex with them, they believe they have to take it.

Instead of saying no.

Again, not all sex is good sex. Because sex with the wrong woman can ruin a man’s life.

How can bad sex ruin a man’s life? Bad sex can ruin a man’s life by taking away his personal power. When a man says yes to bad sex, all he’s doing is sending a message to a woman that her vagina is worth more than intangibles like his dignity and his self-respect.
When a man says yes to bad sex all he’s doing is telling a woman that she can use her pussy as a tool manipulate and control him. The man who takes bad sex from a woman gives her the leverage and the upper hand in the relationship. That’s power she’ll make sure a man never takes back over himself.

Men, it’s okay to say no to bad sex. I dare to say it’s better for a man to masturbate than put his penis in the vagina connected to the wrong woman.

Most men need to understand being born with a vagina between her legs doesn’t give woman license to be a horrible human being from the neck up. No man should have to tolerate all sorts of disrespect and abuse just to get that rare chance to have sex with her.

Most American men don’t understand that that they can do better than sticking their dick in any old vagina. That they can have better sex. And that things are actually in his favor when it comes to choosing a woman for a sexual partner.

The man who controls his dick can get more pussy from a dozen women than the man who is being controlled by his dick by one woman. A man who has his personal power and intangibles intact will attract the attention of the women around him because he radiates more confidence.

What most American men don’t understand is that women outnumber men in the United States. In fact there are four women for every one man on average. In some areas there are seven to ten women for every one man!

So a man doesn’t have to settle for less when it comes to sex.

There are numerous opportunities for a man to have sex every day. Only he doesn’t capitalize on them. Why? Because he doesn’t see them. And because he’s afraid of hearing the word no.

Because most men are afraid of getting rejected by other women, they often stay in a toxic relationship with a dysfunctional woman settling for bad sex. Begging that one woman for an opportunity to have sex. Giving her leverage and power in the relationship. Allowing themselves to be controlled by her vagina.

Not understanding that either which way he loses. And that it’s better to be alone hearing no from a hundred women than begging and pleading the one he knows to say yes to him. The time he wastes begging her for sex with her is about the same he’d take to ask that hundred women.

Sure a man may get a lot of heat for turning a woman down when she offers him pussy. He may have to deal with shaming language and ad-hominem insults like being called gay in the short term but in the long term he gets his peace of mind. He keeps his personal power.

Plus he gets the opportunity to pursue other women. Women who are more compatible with him. Women who would be willing to give him good sex. Again, there are more than a dozen opportunities to meet women every day. All a man has to do is start taking advantage of those opportunities to have a happier, healthier, sex life. A chance to have good sex with women who will be willing to share themselves freely with him. Women who will want him as much as he wants her. Women who will enjoy sharing the positive energy of a great sexual experience.

Men, you deserve a sexual experience where you can not only a physical connection, but a spiritual, mental and emotional one too. Don’t settle for less when it comes to sex.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Why Shawn doesn’t like taking the bus.

 Back in the 1980s, when I was a kid, taking the bus was something I didn’t mind doing. Even though all I saw on most of my trips were burnt down buildings and abandoned lots here in the South Bronx most adults still acted in a civil manner. You could usually get from point A to point B without incident.

Nowadays it’s one of the things I dread doing in gentrified New York City.

Why? I never know what to expect when taking a bus here in New York City. On an everyday trip Negroes and Hoodrats can be found arguing on the bus, fighting on the bus and farebeating by jumping on the bus through the back door. Hell, I’ve even seen people even take drugs on the bus.

There are certain bus routes I now try to avoid these days due to all of the ignorant and downright dangerous behavior transpiring on them. I’d rather walk than take a ride on the Bx15, the Bx32 or even the BX1 or BX2 bus routes because of the chances of some ghetto ass ignant Negro or Hoodrat starting some drama or acting out are usually extremely high.

Again, sometimes it’s just more peaceful for me to just walk to where I’m going. If I have to take certain routes I do my best to find an alternate route or just avoid public transportation period.

And the phenomenon of Black people acting out on the bus isn’t just exclusive here to New York. On YouTube Videos I’ve seen Negroes and Hoodrats acting out on the bus in Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta Houston, Memphis, and as far away as Los Angeles.

Somewhere Rosa Parks looks down from Heaven and shakes her head in disgust at her people.

Sixty years ago Negroes had to ride the back of the bus under Jim Crow. Sometimes they paid and didn’t even get to ride. A White racist bus driver would pull off as soon as they walked to the back to board. And there was nothing they could do about it but pick up their bags and walk all the way home.

But today now that Black people have the right to ride on any part of the bus that we want, we’re loud, ignorant, and obnoxious during our bus trips. We’re fighting, arguing, and smoking weed and taking heroin. I’ve witnessed Three generations of Black women (Grandmother, mother and daughter) farebeat by getting on the bus through the back door. Spitting in the face of all those everyday people who participated in the Civil Rights movement and fought so that Black people could have the dignity of being able to do something as simple as ride a bus in peace and get from point A to Point B without incident.

Brothers and Sisters, Too many people marched, fought, and died so you could have the right to ride public transportation. When you’re getting loud and disrupting people’s rides, arguing with other passengers and getting into fights with them, you dishonor their memory and their legacy. People like Rosa Parks didn’t go to jail so women like Sha’dia Lane could get in fights with Bus drivers like Artis Hughes. Stop acting like a bunch of ignorant niggers on public transportation and show them some respect. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Amanda Bynes- Life Imitates Art

Way back in 2007 when I wrote the screenplay All About Marilyn, I based the character of Tabatha Strong on former actress Amanda Bynes. In the story, Tabatha Strong was a young child star who guest starred on Marilyn’s sitcom, All About Nikki.

12 years later, Marilyn is a broke washed up actress while Tabatha grows up to become a popular star with an addiction to crystal meth. On reading about Amanda Bynes’ story it saddened me to see how life imitated art.

Amanda Bynes has gone from a child star with a lot of potential to a deeply troubled young woman.

I always thought Amanda Bynes had a lot of promise. Her acting was always strong and she had a great screen presence. She seemed like a natural performer with great comic timing. I thought she would be well on her way to the next level as one of the top comedy actresses by now.

But after a series of bizarre tweets (I used to follow her old twitter account), confessing to liking “chocolate”, and hooking up with a rapper she got weird. All of a sudden she announced her retirement and got in a series of car accidents.

Then she moved to New York City. And her behavior got stranger and stranger.

Unlike Marilyn who came to New York and made efforts to change her life for the better in my story, Amanda seemed to continue following down Tabatha’s path and got worse after she moved into the city. If I wrote a script for an All About Tabatha book it’d probably play out like Amanda’s life right now.

And the story would end with her tragic death from a drug overdose.

Amanda’s behavior got weirder and weirder after she came to NYC. She’s walked around naked in a spray tan salon, gotten cheek piercings, dyed her hair pink, threatened to sue every tabloid in the world, posted something online about losing weight to become 110 lbs, and written about hip hop star Drake murdering her vagina.

And in between these disturbing episodes she’s been evicted from several apartments for marijuana use and kicked out of gyms for marijuana use. People have allegedly smelled marijuana smoke from Bynes’ apartment and witnesses allege that they’ve seen her rolling joints and smoking them.

All of her behaviors fit the pattern of a schizophrenic.

And marijuana is known for triggering psychotic episodes in people with families with histories of mental illness. I’m not making excuses for her, but Amanda’s schizophrenia could have been triggered by her marijuana use. Many schizophrenics have their first episode after smoking marijuana.

Marijuana use is what schizophrenics use to medicate their symptoms. Before moving onto harder drugs like PCP and Crystal Meth.

Clearly, there’s something wrong with Amanda Bynes. Recently, she threw a bong out of a window and reports were she seen was acting in a disturbed manner before police arrested her and took her in for a psychiatric evaluation.

I don’t know if she’s got schizophrenia, but her behavior over the past two years clearly shows symptoms of some sort of mental illness. Her behavior seems to become more and more erratic with each passing day. If anything, her behavior parallels the behavior of another former child actress Maia Campbell.

Campbell’s life spiraled downward when her mother author Bebe Campbell Moore passed away and she couldn’t care for her anymore. Without her mother to watch out for her, Maia started using drugs and when her money ran out, was prostituting herself and starring in pornographic movies. A YouTube Video posted several years ago clearly shows how mentally unstable she is during one of her schizophrenic epsiodes.

However, while many laughed at Maia Campbell’s schizophrenic episodes many more are sympathetic to Amanda’s mental illness.

Sadly, that’s Hollywood in Black and White.

I feel bad for both girls. I hope they both get the help that they need from mental health professionals.

A long time ago I thought I’d be reading about Amanda’s Oscar win. Now I have the sad feeling that I’ll be reading her obituary. Amanda Bynes is clearly on the road to self-destruction that took the lives of many a child star grown up like Corey Haim and Dana Plato. If God doesn’t intervene in her life, she may be the next former child star to die in a tragic fashion. I really wish life didn’t imitate art.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Shawn James is NOT Copying Tariq Nasheed!

Okay I got a comment from someone saying I copy Tariq Nasheed. And that I call myself a writer.

I see the insult in between the lines of the comment. This is someone trying to minimize the work of this blog by saying I’m just like someone else. Someone is jealous of Shawn’s intelligence and the knowledge he’s trying to share.

And jealousy is a female trait. So whoever this is needs to check themselves if they’re male. Because their Mangina is showing.

By this idiot’s logic I guess Tom Leykis, The Iceman, The Advise Show and Tommy Sotomayor are also copying Tariq Nasheed.

And I also guess guys on YouTube like Dan Freeman, 5723Michael, Thugtician, RealManAllen, Barbarossa, GameMentor, Heavenlytruth11, akwesi100, BigBKELTheGREAT, Stardusk, GeneralBacklash5Star, SuperBlackDragonRage, MrSuperboy222 and a dozen other men are also copying Tariq Nasheed too.

And I guess women like JiaIreland, Madame Ree, and Colonel of Wisdom are also copying Tariq Nasheed on YouTube.

Or maybe it’s just like minds think alike.

Whoever this is needs to unplug themselves from the matrix. And stop trying to hate on me. There’s been a Men’s movement going on for the past few years now. This is bigger than me.

Here’s the deal: Shawn doesn’t need to copy Tariq Nasheed.

I’ve been writing hard no nonsense articles since I started my first blog in 2006. And I’ve been writing about Men’s issues since 2007 or so, but focusing on other topics as well. All one has to do is go back in the history of this blog and read about the topics I’ve posted on like Montana Fishburne and Black men in dresses- Entertainment or Emasculation? to see that my content is original and all mine.

And growing up I’ve had a lot of experiences where I learned valuable life lessons. Lessons I feel I could share with the audience of readers and provide teachable moments from.

When I wrote that blog about avoiding the Trick Bag at the Workplace, it’s because I ran into that experience on the job at City College Science Library five years ago when my co-worker tried to put me in the Trick Bag.

And When I write a blog telling blog telling brothers to be on the lookout for Washed Up Black women it’s because I’ve run into a dozen of them on my jobs at City College, Americorps* at STRIVE, 13 years ago, or on the street in my south Bronx neighborhood.

Hell, I’ve seen them on TV. What was Lynn Searcy on Girlfriends? A washed up broke ass Black Chick reinventing herself as a Boho. And What is Persia White, the actress who played Lynn Searcy? Just check her background and find out that life imitates art.

Maybe instead of looking to take a swipe at a brotha, maybe you should take the time to LEARN something from Real men like myself who know better. Who have experienced these situations FIRST HAND growing up. Who have made these mistakes and want you to LEARN from our life lessons.

With these blogs, all I’m trying to do is impart some wisdom on all the men out there Just like Tariq Nasheed and all the brothas on YouTube are trying to do.

And for me this isn’t a dick measuring contest. Having talked to brothers on YouTube Twitter, and Facebook, we’re not competing with each other. We all have one goal: Making better men out of the next generation.

And how we do that is by sharing information.

I see what’s out here when it comes to Black manhood. A second generation of Boys are growing up without their fathers. And without the guidance of a Real Man, they’re growing up to become soft, effeminate, and WEAK thinking they were made to please women instead of understanding women were made by God to support them. .

And on the course we’re on with Single mothers raising boys in their emasculating, woman pleasing dysfunctional way of thinking, Black men will be 90 percent Homosexual by the next two generations. And the Black race EXTINCT in 50 to 100 years.

All while the Simps and Manginas twiddle their thumbs. Or act like there isn’t a crisis going on regarding manhood and masculinity. Because they think pandering to women will get them more pussy.

Not understanding that women outnumber me n 4 to 1. I learned that way back in 1991 by reading the newspaper. Way back before Tariq Nasheed even self-published his first book The Art of Mackin.

That’s right. Shawn has been a man going his own way before it was called MGTOW. Because MGTOW to me is just a man going God’s way.

I’ve been writing more about Men’s issues recently because God told me to. He sees His leaders, men becoming more and more marginalized in a Matriarchal society that’s bordering on anarchy. And He sees society led by women becoming more and more chaotic and dysfunctional with each passing day. If I or any of the men I’ve mentioned can wake up men or women and get them to understand how men and women in America are outside the order of God, then I’ve done my job.

If anything I’ve written in this blog offends you, it’s because it’s making you think. And being the sheeple that you are, you hate to use that head of yours for anything but a hatrack. You don’t need any asprin for that headache, once you get used to using your brain for thinking, the pain will subside.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Is DC Comics The Next Hostess Foods?

Last year, Hostess Foods went out of business due to years of inept management, obsolete products, high prices and no leadership. A strike by a union who also followed the same archaic approaches to business such as demanding raises from a bankrupt company finally put the nail in the coffin for that storied brand.

When one looks at Time Warner’s DC Comics’ it’s easy to see the same pattern of failed business approaches that led to the demise of Hostess Foods just a year ago.

Many in America will be surprised if Time Warner finally pulls the plug on publishing DC Comics. But I won’t. I see the numerous parallels between Time Warners’ DC Comics and Hostess Foods. And it’s only a matter of time before the storied brand that publishes Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, and DC Comics superheroes goes the way of the company that produced Twinkies, Wonder Bread, and Sno Balls.

Like Hostess, DC’s editors are inept, incompetent and mismanaging the brand into obsolescence. One of their Publishers Dan Didio has no publishing experience. The other co-publisher Jim Lee ran his own publishing imprint Wildstorm into bankruptcy in the 2000s. And a third Bob Harras ran Marvel Comics into the ground during the 1990’s.

Compare DC’s decade of dysfunctional editorial management to Hostess who had six CEOs in eight years. Thanks to the high turnover and more importantly the lack of vision, Hostess wasn’t able to create new products for the new generation of consumers who were eating whole grains, gourmet cup cakes and cake pops.

Because DC Comics isn’t being led by a publishing professional with an understanding of the changing post 2008 publishing marketplace, the catalog of over 3,000 characters is being mismanaged. A heavy focus on an obsolete late 1980’s early-1990’s model of storytelling has stagnated sales and creativity at DC. The dark, angry shock and awe model of storytelling which focuses on death, events, and gimmicks, is the comic book equivalent of selling the high calorie-high fat horrible tasting processed Hostess cup cake to a generation of health-conscious consumers who are demanding whole grains, and fresh gourmet desserts.

And Like Hostess’ CEOs there’s a heavy focus on short-term sales at the expense of long-term growth. Gimmicks like the New 52 get sales of DC Comics short term, but eventually those numbers fall back to the record lows before the gimmick in two to five years.

Instead of focusing on developing a long-term plan to rebuild the DC Comics brand for the 21st Century, DC’s editors like Hostesses’ executives only focus on short-term stunts to grab peoples’ attention for a moment.

And Like Hostess DC’s products are clearly obsolete. The publisher continues to focus primarily on producing 32-page comic books in a world where readers want their comic book content in two ways:

In a low-priced DRM free digital format they can trade and share,

Or in a collected format such as a trade paperback, or a hardcover omnibus.

And Like a pack of Hostess Cup Cakes, the price of a DC Comic is just too high for consumers to buy. Before Hostess went out of business in late 2012, a single pack of two cup cakes cost $1.39. A box of Twinkies cost $4.29.

Entenmann’s Hostess’ competition offered a FRESH cake for $4.29. and they offered packed cakes for $2.99. Targets’ Market Pantry brand offered a package of FRESH cinnamon rolls for $3.99.

Today a DC Comic in print or digital format costs $3.99. A competitors’ self-published eBook like from my SJS DIRECT imprint with anywhere from 72-400 pages costs anywhere from 99 cents to $3.99. And just like the case of the Entenmann’s and Target brand Cinnamon roll, the consumer is getting a higher entertainment value per dollar by purchasing the eBook from the self-published author than if they bought the DC Comic.

The Bakers’ Union was the final nail in the coffin for Hostess. Holding onto archaic way of doing business of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s they decided to go on strike. Not understanding that the products they were producing were obsolete. Not understanding that the company was bankrupt. Not understanding that the company was going through massive turnover in management. Yeah, they didn’t have a pay raise in years and they were facing an 8 percent pay cut, but they had no understanding of how dire the situation was regarding their employer.

Like the old employees in the Baker’s Union, The out-of-touch older comic fan has no idea how dire the situation is at DC Comics. Nor do they have an understanding of how dire the situation is in the comic book industry. The median age of a comic book reader is inching up from 35 to 40. The danger zone where corporations discontinue products because there aren’t enough customers to buy them.

Many casual readers haven’t touched a comic book in over 20 years. Many former Hostess customers admitted they hadn’t bought Wonder Bread, Twinkies, or any other Hostess product in over 15-20 years. So they never shared them with their kids. That means an entire generation of children who were born after 1994 never heard of a Twinkie or understood what the red, yellow and blue balloons stood for on the Wonder Bread bag.

And the reasons they gave for not buying Hostess products for their children were that the products tasted horrible, made them sick, and that there were better options available for them. Moreover, the nutritional value in a processed, high-calorie, high-fat, high-sugar Hostess product was terrible compared to the whole grain products provided by competitors.

Compare this to those casual DC Comics fans. Fans who grew up with the product have clearly stated they could not share it with their children. Their reasons for not buying DC Comics are that the stories are horrible, filled with disturbing gory illustrations depicting horrific violence, and that there are better entertainment options available for them. And the Social and moral values promoted in DC Comics currently were not what parents wanted to share with their children. Families want DC Heroes to return to being beacons of truth and justice and icons with a clear understanding of right and wrong, but publishers continue to give readers dark amoral characters who live in a gray area.

What’s even sadder about the DC situation is that Hostess still had a distribution network of thousands of retail outlets like grocery stores and supermarkets to stock their products in before they went out of business. Comic book publishers don’t have anything close to that network anymore. People stopped stocking comics in supermarkets and grocery stores over twenty years ago. Today there are less than 1,000 Comic shops in the United States and that number is shrinking. Just a few weeks ago Jim Hanley’s Universe in New York City closed its doors in Midtown and moved to the East Side.

But comic fans continue to believe that their numbers are great. That they can buy all the comics out there. That they have some sort of value. That 100,000 sales is a huge number.

It’s barely a blip on the radar compared to what comics did in the 1940s and 1950s when titles sold 5 million copies a month. Or during the 1980s when mid-tier books sold 250,000 copies a month.

The picture at DC Comics looks grim. But DC Comics doesn’t have to go out like Hostess Foods. There’s still time to save their publishing business. It just requires their management to adapt to the changing marketplace. The Post 2008 publishing world runs under a different business model. And DC Comics needs someone in charge who understands what products work in that marketplace. What today’s customers want. And how to sell them to today’s generation of readers.

Will Time Warners’ executives wake up in time to hire that person? I guess we’ll have to wait until the next Chapter in the DC Comics saga to find that out.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Commencement II- The School of Hard Knocks Sample Chapter By Lawrence Cherry


The Commencement Journey Continues

I am currently putting the finishing touches on the second installment of the Commencement series. I was hoping to finish the book by June 1, 2013 and so far, I seem to be well on my way toward my goal. It was not without a lot of blood, sweat, and tears that it got done.

However, I have mixed feelings about publishing it. Most authors have apprehensions about their finished works. In my case, I am praying about whether or not the final result is pleasing to God, and whether or not people will get the true message or even want to hear what I’m trying to say. I am also concerned that the sequel may not even be as good as the first book, despite efforts to make it better. Some days I feel this is my ministry, and some days I feel like I’m totally out of His will.  But I know I just need to trust that He will lead me in the right direction.

The working title for the book is “The School of Hard Knocks: The Re-Education of Jim Reid.” As you can probably guess from the title, it follows the character Jim Reid and chronicles what happens in his life after his arrest for narcotics possession. If you read Commencement, you know Jim let anger and bitterness about his circumstances cause him to lose his faith, and in the end, himself. In this book he continues on his self-destructive journey and we are left to wonder if someone who seems so hardened against the Word can ever be saved?

This next installment is a bit grittier than my last book and contains more mature content. Please note: Mature content does not mean obscenity! As a Christian and representative of Christ, I have no intention of including things that glorify sin. Yes there are characters that commit sin, but I do not engage in descriptions that glorify such. My intention is not to shock, but to represent an accurate portrait of the life style Jim falls into, the people he encounters, and the consequences that follow.

If you liked Commencement, I am hoping that you will like this book as well. I don’t want to give much more of the story line away. In any case, here is the first chapter. Let me know if you want to read the rest. Peace.

Chapter One 

               Today was the day that Jim would begin to rebuild his life. As he sat in the Medical Review Officer’s place awaiting the results of his drug test, he kept going over the plan in his head. “Once I get the green light on this test I can get my job back, pay off my bills, and this time I’m going to keep my shirt tucked in. I’m only gonna party once or twice a month, and even then on the weekends – that’s it.”  Jim’s right knee began to bounce up and down as he waited for the officer to find his file.

               The medical review officer assigned to his case was a middle-aged white man named Dr. Brewer. He was a tall and heavy-set old man with what little hair he had left on the sides of his head. He wore thick black-framed glasses, which weren’t helping much as he was squinting at his computer screen and typing slowly as if he could barely see what was in front of him.

               “This old man needs to hurry up,” thought Jim. Jim didn’t have any more patience for the ‘waiting games’ that had taken over his life. Ever since he was arrested for drug possession it was as if he had been in a state of suspended animation. He couldn’t do anything except wait. First, Jim had to wait for his case to be put on the court calendar, then, wait through the numerous pre-motion hearings and adjournments. He had to wait all through the court appointed six-month drug rehab program and wait for the arbitration hearing from the MTA. Jim had to wait to be tested and there was more waiting for the results. While he waited, his bank account balance got lower and lower which caused his frustration and anxiety to grow commensurately higher. Jim was tired of waiting. He just wanted his life back.

               As the doctor typed on his keyboard, Jim just kept going over his plan in his head: get the green light, get my job back, pay off my bills, keep my shirt tucked in. He’d done a lot of stupid things before like buying too much stash at once, and buying from obvious fronts. That’s how he got arrested in the first place. Since then he’d learned a lot, especially when he went to rehab and found his new best friend, Smoke.

               “Here we are” said Brewer interrupting Jim’s train of thought. He’d finally pulled up Jim’s file.

               “Finally,” said Jim to himself. He took a deep breath. This was it.

               “I’m just going to get right to the point. The sample you gave us tested positive for cocaine metabolites,” said Dr. Brewer as he swiveled the screen of the computer around so that Jim could have a look. “I’ll print out a copy for you to take with you if you need it.”

               Jim’s cocoa complexion went ashen. His well-made plan and the world he had been building for himself crumbled.  Dumbfounded, he put his hand to his mouth, stroking his facial hair as he studied the screen. All the words, numbers, and graphs seemed to swirl together all over the page and none of it seemed to make any sense.

               “This can’t be right. I hadn’t done any coke for at least two weeks before I took this test” Jim contemplated to himself “I was taking all that herbal stuff to detoxify and everything. Even that drug store test Smoke gave me came out negative,” he reflected silently. Jim had to express his concerns to Dr. Brewer.

               “I’m not understanding this” began Jim trying to keep the agitation and frustration out of his rising voice. “I’ve spent six months in rehab, and when I got out they basically said I was clean. How can this test say that I’m testing positive for cocaine?”

               “Mr. Reid…” the doctor paused for a moment as if he were searching for a tactful way to explain things to Jim. “All I do is report the results of the test.” The man sat with his hands folded his face neutral. There was another silent pause between them before the doctor broke it with his own question.

               “Are you taking any medication for a medical condition that could produce a false positive?”
               “Not really.” Jim began to search his brain for excuses and lies. Then it came to him. “But in the rehab they was giving me that methadone stuff. Do you think that’s why this test came out positive?”

               “Methadone is in a different class of opiates. It doesn’t usually show up on the tests that we administer here. According to the report, there were traces of benzaylecgonine found in your sample. Benzaylecgonine is a byproduct of cocaine, not methadone.”

               “D**n it!” thought Jim. He slumped back in the metal chair, rubbing his hands over his face and let out a deep sigh. He had it all planned out: Do rehab, pass the drug test, get his job back and keep his shirt tucked in, but life had thrown him another curve ball he hadn’t been prepared for. Every time he thought he had everything under control, something would happen that would pull the rug out from under him.

               “If you really are that concerned about the validity of the test, you could have your split-sample sent to another lab for testing. All you would have to do is provide written notification to our office within the next 72 hours”

               “I’ll think about it”

There was no way he was going to put himself through this again for the same result.

               “And just so you know,” continued Brewer, “the results are confidential. Other than your present employer, no one else will be allowed to see the results; that is, unless you give written consent.”

               Jim knew how that worked. If and when he decided to apply for another job, part of the application process would include forms that would ask him for his consent to see such records, and if he refused, he wouldn’t get the job. If he gave consent he wouldn’t get the job either. Jim had to think hard and fast. There had to be a way to keep this drug test from ruining his chances to keep his MTA job.

               “I just don’t get it. I mean I passed all the drug screenings they gave at the rehab. Doesn’t that count for something?” he asked disingenuously. Jim knew he had Smoke on the inside providing special help with those tests.

               “That may be, but as an agency of the Department of Transportation, the MTA has to conduct it’s own testing, the results of which supersede those of any other agency. That’s federal law.”

               “I guess I better look for another job now, huh?”

               “Look, Mr. Reid, I just work for the medical review office that serves your employer. I don’t know a lot about their disciplinary policies or procedures with regard to your suspension. All I am obligated to do is provide them with your test results and based on such, it is unfortunate that I will have no choice but to recommend that you not be allowed to resume your position as a motorman. What your employers do with that information is up to their discretion. They could decide to terminate you or they could place you on a modified assignment while you get counseling and support from their Employee Assistance Program.”

               At his last meeting with the union rep, after the arbitration, Jim was told in no uncertain terms that the court ordered rehab would be his second and only chance, provided he passed this current drug test. Unfortunately things stood as they were. His job security with the MTA had completely vanished. He was back to where he had been shortly after his arrest. Maybe he was in an even worse position.

               One by one, questions began to trickle into his conscience: How would he continue to pay the maintenance on the co-op? Where would he get another job? Who would hire him now that he had a record? More questions came and Jim didn’t have answers. The only thing he was certain of was he had to get out of this office before his head exploded.

               “Since there’s nothing left to discuss, I guess I’ll take my leave” said Jim rising to leave. “Thank you for your time.”

               “I’m sorry I couldn’t be of more help”, said Brewer handing him an envelope with the printout inside.

               “Yeah, right” thought Jim. This dude was probably glad to get another brother out of a good paying job.

               “Remember you have 72 hours to contact me should you want another test. My card is in the envelope”

               “Thanks. Like I said, I’ll think about it” said Jim. He took the envelope and stuffed it carelessly into his pocket before heading out of the office.


               By the time Jim reached the street it was raining. Since he didn’t have an umbrella, Jim pulled his ball cap out of the inside pocket of his barn jacket and put it on. Then he turned up the lapels of his coat to help stave off the April rains. Now if he could do something to shut off the incessant flow of questions that were pouring into his mind: What happens if you don’t get a job? Are you going to have to sell your shares in the co-op? If so, where are you going to live then?

               Jim picked up his pace as he headed toward the subway, deftly maneuvering through the crowds on the sidewalk. The thoughts and questions were becoming jumbled into a loud buzz in his brain that was giving him a headache. There was a newsstand near the entrance of the subway station. Upon noticing it, Jim decided to get a newspaper to read during his ride. It would help to keep his mind focused until he could get home and get to his stash. Jim felt like he needed some weed to help him get his head together.  Then maybe he would talk to Smoke later. He might know something or someone that could help him out.

               As he was walking down to the platform, he heard a voice call from amongst the din inside his head.

               “More drugs? Isn’t that what got you here in the first place? Why can’t you stop? Is it because you’re a drug addict?”

               Jim almost stopped in his tracks. “Drug addict?” There was no way that he was a ‘drug addict’.  Drug addicts were the toothless guys wearing oversized thrift store clothes, begging for money outside the local McDonalds. Drug addicts were the dirty, smelly people who sat in a stupefied nod on park and subway benches in between fixes. Drug addicts were the shady characters in the supermarkets who asked if you were going to pay for your groceries with cash and if you said yes, then they’d offer to pay with their benefit card in exchange for your cash. They were homeless, they were lost, and they were beyond hope. Jim didn’t think he resembled anything like that. No, he still had his co-op, lots of his own clothing in the closet, some money in the bank and a lot of potential for the future. There was no way he was an addict.

               It wasn’t long before the D train arrived. After waiting for other passengers to exit, Jim boarded it, and quickly found the coveted seat at the end of the bench near the door. Once he was comfortable, Jim took out his paper. He didn’t bother reading many of the articles. He glanced at pictures for a few pages until he got to the entertainment section. There he noticed an article about a famous rapper who had been caught in possession of marijuana. According to the story he was arrested and released shortly afterward. Jim knew this particular rapper had been caught in such escapades before. None of this interfered with his ability to produce rhymes that often went double-platinum. He was just another recreational user. Just like Smoke and just like himself.

               In rehab, Smoke had helped Jim to see that there was a big difference between a ‘recreational user’ and an ‘addict’: the difference being that the former was able to keep his/her shirt tucked in while the latter was totally strung out. The recreational user knew how to keep things together. They did drugs, but drugs didn’t do them. It was just something one did every once in a while to wind down. Only squares didn’t understand it.  Jim liked the way Smoke broke it down: “Some people knit, some people do crossword puzzles, and some people do a little weed every now and then. Not a big deal.” Addicts on the other hand, couldn’t stop.

               Jim could stop whenever he felt like it. When he was in rehab, he only smoked every other weekend, and snorted maybe like once in a couple of weeks.  He could count on one hand how many times he had snorted. Then when he got out of rehab, he stayed clean two whole weeks before the big test. If he were a real junkie there would have been no way that he could’ve accomplished that. Thinking of this filled Jim with a smug self-satisfaction.

               “Yeah, what about that test? Didn’t you fail?” he heard a voice echo inside him.

               It was yet another hard question that escaped from Jim’s subconscious to confront him. Jim read the same three lines of an article trying to ignore it. He finally closed his paper and looked up. It was his stop. He’d been so caught up in his own head that he’d almost missed it. Jim bolted from his seat through the doors and then up the subway stairs with the rest of the crowd that was exiting the station.

               “I don’t care what that test says. I am a not a junkie.” He knew Brewer probably thought he was a junkie. His old friends would think he was a junkie, but who cared about them anyway. They didn’t matter. Not like he was hanging with them anymore. Smoke thought he was all right. Jim was all right.

               “No, I am not a junkie” was Jim’s mantra all the way home. He just kept repeating it to himself until he got to his stash and got lifted. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Shawn's advice to a Single Mom

There’s a Single mother who’s been posting comments in the Why Real Men Avoid Single Mothers blog. I wanted to take the time to address her specifically. Because she doesn’t see the mistakes that are keeping her single.

What’s keeping her single isn’t the fact that she has a child. While her child and the drama associated with single motherhood is an issue for most men, what’s really turning men away is her personality and her attitude.

Now she says that she makes lots of money, has a great job, and has a dynamite body.

The first mistake she made was leading off by saying she makes lots of money. That’s a total turn-off for a guy. Nothing is more emasculating for a man than hearing from a woman about how much money she makes.

Want to make any guy’s dick get flaccid in a second? Talk about how much money you make. You could be the most beautiful woman in the world, but once you start bragging about how much money you make it’s game over.

When women start talking about how much money they make it’s clear they want to get into a dick measuring contest with a man.

And no Real Man is going to deal with a woman who tries to compete with him in a dick measuring contest. No, he’s just going to move on. Most men want a partner who will help him, not a rival who will compete with him. He’s got enough of those at his job, and he doesn’t need to come home to another.

The second mistake she made was talking about her job. The last thing a Real Man wants to hear about is a woman’s job. When women talk about their job it’s a sign that she has next to no social life. That she lives at the office and lives through her kids.

The last thing a guy wants to hear about is your job. Again, it’s like you’re trying to get into a dick measuring contest with him. That’s a total turn-off.

Besides, guys who want to spend time with you want to get away from the office. The last thing we want to deal with is someone talking about work all the time. Because that person is going to be a chore to be around.

The woman a man wants to be with is someone he spends time with to relax and have fun with. It’s hard to have fun with someone who is always thinking about work.

I’m a writer. But when I’m out and about socially I don’t talk about writing with other people. Nor do I talk about my books much. Sure I could get a sale or two by talking about books and writing, but I save the shop talk for other professionals.

No, I find topics like movies, art, culture, comedy and current events to talk about with people who I want to be social with. By talking about these things I give people a clearer picture of who I am as a person outside of my work. That picture tells them if I’m interesting enough to want to spend time with.

Talking to guys isn’t a job interview. No one cares about your degrees, your job or how much money you make. Having a Master’s Degree and knowing how to type 55 words a minute isn’t a selling point in social situations.

Having a great smile is the strongest selling point in social situations. Want to draw men to you like a magnet? Have a great smile. That tells us that you’re open, friendly and available.

Men remember a smile. And they take time out of their day to talk to women with a smile on their face.

I suggest this woman try practicing smiling in the mirror at least twice a day. Smiling will help her start to radiate positive energy. And that positive energy is going to attract positive people to her like the good men in her community.

Having a sense of humor is a selling point in social situations. Another big draw to a guy is a woman who can tell a great joke. So many women these days are just…bland. They don’t know how to laugh or how to make anyone else laugh.

And it also benefits a woman to be pleasant, and friendly, and kind. Those three things are considered valuable assets for a woman to bring to the table for a man. In a world where men are constantly being torn down every day, they want to come home to a pleasant, friendly woman who can help build them back up by helping them melt their stresses away.

And the biggest selling point for a woman is the ability to cook. Want to really leave a powerful first impression on a man? Know how to cook several spectacular dishes.

A woman who can make some great fried Whiting or amazing Lasagna to me shows me more about her than her six-figure job, her Luxury car, or her big house.

I don’t know if this is the same woman, but she leaves a comment saying that she just wants to have a no-strings attached sexual relationship with a man.

Basically she’s just telling me she’s given up. That she’s desperate. And that she’s willing to lower her standards.

What she doesn’t understand is that sex for women is completely different than it is for a man. Men can fuck just about any woman that offers him her body and not be fazed emotionally. However, Women tend to invest their emotions into sex. When they offer a man their body, they’re actually offering them him herself. So while a woman says there are no strings, there actually are strings when they ask for sex with that stranger.

From the sounds of her comment, she’s desperately, anxiously hoping to make a human connection with a man. And is willing to take a bad connection with anyone rather than be alone.

I say she’s selling herself too short.

Long-term that’s not a good look for her. All she’s doing is showing men that she’s willing to compromise her character just to get a nut off. That’s a terrible trade off of her personal power for physical gratification.

When a woman lowers her standards like that, all she’s going to do radiate the negative energy that attracts low-grade losers to her.

And I believe this woman has worked too hard to build herself up to allow herself to be torn down by that kind of bum.

I’d definitely advise this woman to keep her standards up. If you’re a class woman, stay classy. Because not all sex is good sex.

And a woman getting involved in jumpoff situations when she has kids sets a bad precedent for them. Your kids indirectly learn from your actions. And when they see strange men having sex with mommy, they think it’s okay to have multiple sexual partners when they grow up.

I know from personal experience that the body does get a little out of whack when one hasn’t had a sexual release for a long time. You get edgy, anxious and tense. But getting involved with any old dude for a sexual release isn’t going to help her long-term. A good dick attached to a bad man just makes things worse.

If she really needs a sexual release, I suggest she masturbates. Masturbation will help release all that sexual tension and help her relax. It’ll help get her hormones back in balance and mellow her moods.

Plus masturbation will also help you get in touch with your body and help you become more in tuned with it. When you know how you like to be touched, you can share with your man how you like to be pleasured.

And the best thing about masturbation is that you wind up clearing your head. So you won’t wind up making irrational emotional decisions like hooking up with mediocre guys for bad sex.

There are some great shower attachments out there with nice long flexible hoses that’ll take that edge off. Set the nozzle to spray, apply them to the clitoris and have one of the best orgasms of your life!

Yeah, you’re a single mom. And it’s a hard situation dating after divorce. But that doesn’t mean it’s a lost cause. It just means that you have to change your attitude. When you change your approaches to life, you change who approaches you. Like attracts like, and positive people are attracted to other positive people.

“You’re gonna be a rapist”- Mangina Shaming Language To The Extreme

“You’re gonna be a rapist!”

I was told this on two occasions in my life:

When I was 15, and I was in Park West High School and I was being pressured by a Hispanic guy about having sex. When I wouldn’t let him hook me up with a girl he wanted me to talk to because I wasn’t feeling her, he told me I was going to be a rapist.

When I was 23, and I was working in a Food Emporium, I was on a break and getting a good look at Tyra Banks in the Sport Illustrated Swimsuit Edition like any Real Man would. And some Spanish delivery guy comes in and says “you’re gonna be a raper!”

25 years after my first experience encountering this shaming language I’ve never raped a woman. Nor have I ever thought of raping a woman.

Nor would I have to. Ever since Junior High school girls have been offering me pussy. Hell, since I was a teenager, they’ve been coming to me talking about sex before I can even ask them their names.  

Perhaps these Manginas were projecting their own desires onto me.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to understand what Shaming Language is. And how Manginas use it like a weapon to attack other men.

Thanks to the dysfunctional way they’re raised, Manginas fear their own masculine energy. And some even fear their own sexuality. And when they see a man expressing a healthy interest in sex, they use shaming language to make those men feel bad about having their sexual feelings or a healthy interest in sex.

There’s nothing that scares a Mangina than a man who is confident and secure in his own masculinity and comfortable about his own sexuality. The man radiates strong masculine energy and strong sexual energy will attract the attention of all the women around him.

And the Mangina is scared shitless about that fact. Because he wants all those women to pay attention to him.

The Mangina fears that if a man is radiating that strong masculine energy and strong sexual energy He’ll have competition for the attention of the women he’s hovering around in his social circles. And he fears that those women start to notice that man, they won’t pay any attention to him. So he has to do something drastic to eliminate that man from the social scene.

When a Mangina tells another man he’s going to be a rapist, it’s a sign that he’s terrified of that man’s sexual energy. In fact he’s so scared that he’s pissing himself. Whenever he sees that man, he’s looking down at his own penis and realizing he just doesn’t measure up to a Real Man.

Rape is not about sex. It is an act of violence about power and control. Sick men rape women. Men with lots of issues regarding the way they were socialized to be around women. Insecure troubled Men like Manginas.

A Real Man is always in total control of his sexuality. He understands his mind controls his body and that his body only acts on his thoughts. He can be in a roomful of naked women and while he may be sexually aroused by the sight of their nude bodies, he won’t act on that sexual urge in a violent manner towards those women.

Because he understands that sex is an expression of love between him and the woman he’s involved with.

When I was told that I was going to be a rapist, I quickly realized that the problem was with men I was speaking to, not me. That they were projecting their own insecurities about their own sexuality onto me. That they were trying to bully me into acting on my sexuality on their terms.

I control the terms of my own sexuality. And I control how I act sexually. By myself and with women.

For me, sex is supposed is one of the most intimate connections two people can have. It’s an act of love that’s supposed to draw people closer to each other. It’s supposed to be fun. I want to feel happiness in her connection with me. I like to see a woman smile when she’s having sex with me. I like to hear her laughter when we’re intimate. I want her to enjoy the pleasure of the sexual experience with me as much as I enjoy it with her.

I don’t want to hear screams when I’m having sex with a woman. I don’t want to hear her crying when I’m having sex with her. I don’t want her to endure pain or be traumatized during a sexual experience with me. I don’t want her to associate violence with sex with me. My penis is not a weapon.

Rape is one of the worst things to happen to a woman. It’s an ugly invasion of a woman’s body meant to humiliate her and make her feel worthless. An act of violence meant to disconnect her spirit from her body. And for a cowardly Mangina to say that a man is going to be a rapist because he’s afraid of competing with him for the attention of a pool of women shows how twisted and sick these males are.

A Real Man has numerous options for relieving his sexual urges including masturbation. He never has to put hands on a woman to take her body away from her by force to get a sexual release. It’s a weak male who uses violence to get sex, and an even weaker one that tells another man that he’s going to be a rapist if he doesn’t act on his sexual urges in a way he finds appropriate.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Is the 99 cent eBook ruining the game for other writers?

There are some writers today complaining that the 99 cent eBook is ruining the game for them.

I’m sorry but that’s bullshit.

This isn’t a new argument. In fact, it’s just another re-hash of an old argument that goes back as far as the early 2000s.

Back then when iUniverse was self-publishing authors books in paperback for the low price $99 at the start of this century, there was a group of authors from publishing houses ranting and raving about how self-published Print-On-Demand books were going to ruin the game for them. How Print-On-Demand self-published authors were producing lots of poor quality books and how they were going to ruin the book market for everyone.

Ten years later, most of them and their books are gone. Their self-published paperbacks went out of print after a year or so, and the mid-card authors with titles from the publishing houses who whined and moaned about the books of POD authors went out of print six months before them.

And in the Mid-2000s there was another group of authors (myself included) ranting about how the Street Lit authors were ruining African-American book market. How authors were producing lots of poor quality book and how they were ruining the book market.

Five years later, The Street Lit craze is just about over. And most of the authors who came in for a fast buck are gone and most of their titles are out of print.

But I’m still here.

What happened to me? Over the past five years as I’ve adapted to the changing publishing landscape I learned a lot of hard lessons. And the first of which is authors who bitch and moan about insignificant things like how a book is published, who publishes a book, or the price of an eBook are usually people who won’t last long in the business of publishing. All the time they take to whine and complain about the quality of someone elses’ writing or the quality of their books is time they could be taking to do things to improve their own.

The only person ruining the game for them is themselves. These writers are their own worst enemies.

Many writers can publish a book, but most of those writers lack the business skills to sell a book. That’s why most of these authors who bitch and moan about other writers fall by the wayside. Instead of working on a business strategy to sell their books to a targeted audience they’re online looking for someone to scapegoat for the failure of their book.

What these people are afraid of is competition. And because they’re intimidated by the millions of authors out there with books just like theirs, they do things to hate on the next man, like saying that 99 cent eBooks are ruining the game.

Because it’s ruining the game for THEM. What they want is for the competition to go away so they can have a bigger chunk of the marketplace to take up space in and do nothing with. Basically, these authors are TOO LAZY to put in the effort and WORK towards building an audience for their books.

Now I’ll admit there are a lot of terrible eBooks out there. But I’ve read eBooks that cost $3.99 from trade houses that were absolute garbage. I’ve read $2.99 eBooks from some of these Black authors that were total crap.

But I’ve also read eBooks for free on Smashwords that were great. And I’ve read some 99 cent eBooks on Kindle and Barnes & Noble that I’d recommend others give a try. There are some great writers out there, and sometimes, a low price is the only way unknown authors like myself can get readers to notice us and give us a try. There are close to five million books published in the United States in a calendar year and in order to get the attention of those customers, a publisher had to do something to get readers’ attention like cutting the price.

I’ve been in publishing for over a decade now. And I can tell you 99 cent eBook isn’t ruining the game for me. In fact, if it weren’t for a 99 cent price tag or free promotional programs like Amazon’s KDP Select, I wouldn’t have been able to expand my reading audience.

A 99 cent price tag is only one of the tools I use in promoting books and getting them in the hands of new readers. As a publisher, I use it in combination with other promotional efforts like seasonal campaigns, free promotions, social media like blogging, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, along with the release of new titles. My mission as a businessman is to always be on the lookout for new readers, and finding new ways to reach them.

Because new readers are the lifeblood of a publishing business. It’s new readers who build the word-of mouth that sell books long-term.

As a businessman, I understand many readers won’t try a book by some authors because they’re by a new unknown author. Others won’t try a book because it’s self-published. So I have to give them some sort of incentive to try my work.

And I’ve found that when I priced my eBooks at 99 cents or offered them for free, people came and tried my work. And when they liked what they read, they went to buy other titles in my catalog.

All these self-published authors need to ask themselves: What is the real price of an eBook? How much is a story worth if there are no customers to demand it? And what value can be put on a story if no one cares about it?

Sure there’s a $3.99 price tag on your eBook. But if the customer doesn’t want it enough to pay that price for it, then it’s not worth anything in the marketplace.

We writers sometimes value our work higher than what it is actually worth. If you’re an unknown among five million other unknowns, you can’t go around insisting people pay $3.99 for your work in digital format. Until you can establish enough of an audience that knows you and your work, you can only charge what the market will bear.

In economics, the price is what the customer is willing to pay for a product. And until an author can build enough of an audience where they can establish a set value for their work that the market will pay, then maybe it’s only worth 99 cents right now.

Let me tell you a story: Five years ago I put a $9.99 price tag on my first eBook All About Marilyn on Kindle. It didn’t sell for a year. I dropped the price to $4.99. No sales. Dropped it to $2.99 no sales. And this was a book which was critically acclaimed with numerous positive reviews from book clubs and readers.

But no one was willing to buy it because:

1) I was an unknown author to them,
2)Because I was an unkown author to them the book had no value to them.

A year later I put a $2.99 price tag on the digital version of The Temptation of John Haynes. Even with great five-star reviews the book still did slow sales.

That same year I put a $2.99 price tag on the Fabulous First Season of All About Nikki. The book didn’t sell for six months. In fact the paperback still hasn’t sold a single copy to this day.

But when I lowered the price of all those books to 99 cents, people started buying them. In fact, All About Nikki-The Fabulous First season has become one of my best-selling eBooks thanks to that 99 cent price tag.

And moving All About Marilyn to KDP Select and offering it as a free eBook has led to that book becoming the #1 ebook in screenwriting every time I offer it.

Last year I started the Isis series with Amari's Revenge. Again, offering the title for Free on KDP Select to give readers an incentive to try the books. To my surprise readers have come back for other titles in the series buying four and five eBooks at a time to finish the story!

An author has to take the time to build their brand. To get the customer paying the price of $3.99 or $4.99 an author has to sell persuade enough people that their books have a value at 99 cents. Once a writer gets 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 or 100,000 readers, then maybe they can leverage a higher price for their books from their customers. But until they can establish that brand name, I say start at 99 cents. See where that takes you, then raise the price on the next book. Hook the customers, then see if they value your writing enough to pay more for it.

Don’t hate on 99 cent price tags on eBooks. Learn how to make it work for you.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Shawn’s Five-Year Plan

30 titles in Five years. Hard to believe I’ve published so many books and eBooks in such a short time.

Time flies when you’re working hard.

When I lost my job in 2008, God told me to keep going. And over that time I’ve set a lot of goals and met a lot of my goals. And even as I struggle through hard times, I’m still working towards getting to the next level.

Way back in 2007 when I had my first blog I wrote a list of things I wanted to accomplish. And when I ran down the list, I found that I accomplished all those goals.

So I decided to write out another long-term plan. I don’t know if I’ll accomplish these goals, but it doesn’t hurt to put them down on paper.
This is what I’d like to do over the next five years:

Keep a nine-to-five job. I’ve been working longer in self-publishing than full-time for someone else. Every nine-to-five job I’ve had hasn’t lasted that long. I’d love to have a job for three, five or even ten years, and build a savings.

The main reason I’m working for myself is because it’s hard for me to find work. And when I do find work, I get sabotaged by ratchet Black females and jealous Mangina mangers. While self-publishing has been a rewarding experience, but I’d like to have a more stable income so I can do some things like get out of the ghetto of the South Bronx.

And If I had full-time employment I feel that kind of stability would give me the capital to work on new approaches for promoting books and developing new book products like a comic book/YA novel hybrid. Yeah, I work days so I can build my own business on evenings and weekends, but that’s what you’re supposed to do. The work you do on A nine-to-five job is supposed to help you build your own business. I just get tired of the stop all the work I started at one point because I run out of money and don’t have the connections to expand my audience.

Purchase 4G internet access.  Right now I’ve been hustling for the internet. Thanks to these ridiculous two
Do a book signing at another bookstore. -year contracts I’ve been priced out of owning a cell phone or an internet hot spot. If I had a more stable income, I could buy a USB modem with some 4G internet access. That would allow me to spend more time on writing and target my book promotion to those peak periods on Twitter and Facebook instead of spending an hour or two just trying to get e-mail over Wi-Fi.

In addition, 4G internet access would allow me to make more YouTube Videos. I’ve been wanting to expand my presence online by actually reading some of my blogs I’ve written or read chapters of my books. I believe showing a people a face that goes with the content will allow them to form a connection with me and allow me to build the Shawn James brand.

Expand my book promotion outside of the internet. Right now most people know my writing from my blog, and my promotions on Twitter and Facebook. A few from my comments on YouTube videos and the YouTube Videos I’ve done.

Most of my book promotion is done online because my resources are limited. I’d love to do more promotion, but money is tight. And most promotion like newspaper ads and flyers don’t sell books. Especially in ghetto neighborhoods like mine where people just don't like to read. I’m thinking of ways to get my titles exposed to a larger audience.

Even though the Harlem book Fair in 2009 and 2010 was a bust, I’d like to think there’s a way to reach that larger audience of readers.

Have a book make a best-seller list. My books are known by readers and my blog is building an audience. But I’d like to have a book on the best-seller list. If I can get 100,000 hits on my blog, I know I can sell 100,000 copies of a paperback or eBook.
I really enjoyed doing the book signing at the Monroe College bookstore back in 2010. And I’d like to do more book signings. I really enjoy socializing with readers and I like seeing the looks on their faces when I share my stories with them.

Release all my paperbacks with updated covers. Yeah, I know paperback sales are…nonexistent. But I’d like to think one day a Shawn James book will be on the shelf of a Barnes & Noble. And when I get the chance, I’d love to update the covers with quality art from professionals.

Some people have complained about the covers on my books. But with my limited budget, I have to draw them. And Yeah, I know my art ain’t the greatest. If I ever got the capital I’d love to update the covers of my paperbacks and eBooks with something more eye-catching and visually compelling.

I know my limitations and I’m not afraid to ask for help. And in asking for help I’d love to help comic artists get their work out there seen by a larger audience of casual readers. People who have never been to a comic shop.

I’ve seen a lot of comic book art that I think would fit the stories I tell. And I’d love to have their work on updated covers of some of my books like the Isis series. When I see the work of guys like Bill Walko, Terry Beatty, John Byrne, Darryl Banks and Josh Howard I can envision it on the cover of my titles like All About Marilyn, All About Nikki, The Temptation of John Haynes or A Recipe for $ucce$$. I think their art could make the difference in sales.

Expand the comic book art medium into the literary market. One of my goals is to get the art of comic book artists seen in other mediums. I feel that with the comic book market contrtacting, one of the ways the artists can adapt to the changing market expand their exposure is on the covers of paperbacks and eBooks. I think this could be the next hot market for comic artists.
I’d love to re-release the Isis series paperbacks with color interiors featuring comic book art as covers, and interior illustrations in between the chapters. As a life-long comic fan I love comic art and I feel it pops. It’s got a lot of color and I feel it can really make that younger tween or teen reader pick up a YA fiction book like the Isis series or All About Nikki on the bookstore shelf.

Publish an Isis graphic novel.  Back in 1999, I wrote Isis with the original plan of turning it into a comic book. The “Bad girl” craze was in full effect back then, but my goal was to create a positive Black female superheroine.

Instead I wrote a contemporary fantasy novel that mixed Egyptian mythology with African-American history.

I’d love to see that original vision make it into comic book form. Many have told me Isis reads like a comic book, and I’d love to see it drawn out and adapted into comic panels. Again, unfortunately, I just don’t have the capital.

With Isis catching the attention of readers over the past decade in paperback and eBook, I’d love to finally get that graphic novel out to readers so they could see what I imagined in pictures. With the comic book market changing, and readers wanting more products like graphic novels and trade paperbacks, I feel Isis and the Isis series would be a good fit for today’s casual readers who want to read a bunch of comic books in one single volume. And a great way to reach readers who don’t buy comics in comic shops.

Get an interview on broadcast media.  I almost had an interview on online radio for All About Marilyn if it weren’t for jealous insecure family sabotaging me. But I’d like to have another opportunity to promote my work in broadcast media. Whether it’s blogtalk radio, or broadcast radio, or a cable talk show or even a local newspaper or a newsletter, I’d like to have the opportunity to talk about my books and share my stories with a larger audience. I feel the more exposure my work gets the more readers will take a chance and try it.

Produce an independent pilot of All About Nikki.  The feedback I’ve been getting on All About Nikki screenplay eBooks from readers all over the world has been incredibly positive. The All About Nikki eBooks get double digit facebook likes on Smashwords and sell very well with online retailers like amazon and Barnes & Noble. And I’d like to capitalize on that momentum by producing a pilot episode.

Unfortunately with me being out of work, I just don’t have the money to produce it. Hell, I don’t even have the resources to start fundraising for it.

But looking at the deals Byron Allen made for Mr. Box Office/The First Family and Tyler Perry made for House of Payne and his other sitcoms gives me hope for producing a show outside of the Hollywood system. I feel All About Nikki could be the next That’s So Raven or True Jackson VP if it made it to television. This generation of tweens and teens are looking for the next big sitcom to watch and Nikki could be the next big hit with them.

I believe All About Nikki is the perfect program for a producer, a teen sitcom that evokes memories of classic Black sitcoms like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and The Cosby Show with older viewers and has characters younger viewers can relate to and identify with. It has a small cast and a low budget. It’s a cheap show to produce per episode like the Disney/Nickelodeon  sitcoms and has a growing international audience. So it can be sold to audiences all over the world and make high profits in proportion to cost.

Produce an All About Marilyn film. Yeah, this is a 99-1 longshot. I know the script is 135 pages long. And the Artsy material isn’t exactly a box office blockbuster with car chases, explosions, and superheroes.

But women all over the world seem to love Marilyn’s story. The eBook is #1 in screenplays/Screenwriting whenever I offer it free on Amazon. It beats out other screenplays every time I offer it. During one KDP offering in 2012, All About Marilyn had 750 downloads over the course of two days!

Is there potential for box office there? Is there potential for a large viewer turnout on Lifetime? Who knows? But it’d be fun to produce an independent production of All About Marilyn and see how the script reads.

Host an official website. I’ve been asked by some why I don’t have an official website. Well, my money is real tight. So I can’t afford hosting a site right now. Blogger works for me in promoting what I do…writing.
Would I like an official Yeah. But I think the name is taken. So while I’d like to have an official site, I’m gonna need a lot more cash to buy the name from that singer or from whoever has that title. So until then, it’s blogger for all your Shawn James writing on the web.

These are some of the goals I’d like to accomplish over the next five years. Can I do it? I’d like to think I could.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Why Shawn Dropped Out of the American Job Market

In the news we’ve heard that over 25 million people who have dropped out of the American Job Market. People who have exhausted their unemployment, run out of money and run out of hope. People who have given up.

I’m one of those people. Let me tell you why I dropped out of the Job Market.

Since October of 2008, I’ve spent thousands of dollars on Civil service exams, job training in computer repair and A+Certifications. All in the hopes of finding employment somewhere in IT or someplace like CUNY as a CUNY Office Assistant. And after almost four years of searching, I realized that there was nothing out there.

I practically exhausted my unemployment and most of my savings chasing ghosts. I thought I was doing the right thing by going out and looking for work, but there just comes a point where you realize it’s all bullshit.

The definition of insanity is doing the exact same thing and expecting a different result. And running around submitting the same applications to the same places over and over again and waiting for them to say no was as I saw it, crazy.

And from what I’ve seen in today’s job market I’m gonna have to say most of these employers are CRAZY. Certifiable. Their lists for qualifications for some of these positions border on ridiculous. I read some of these job listings these days and it’s almost as absurd as the laundry list of criteria Black women have for their ideal man. No Real Human being can ever meet these employers’ unrealistic criteria for working for them. When you have people talking about they want people with Bachelor’s Degrees for entry level jobs at McDonald’s there’s something clearly wrong with the way Human Resource managers are trying to recruit employees.

I’d go as far to say that most managers are living in a bubble. Most aren’t looking to work with Real People, but some ideal perfect person. Many think educated means smart. Others mistake ass-kissing for professionalism. And a few surround themselves with cronies and relatives so they can continue to delude themselves that they’re superstars while the business crumbles around them.

After dealing with rude, obnoxious unprofessional HR people like those I encountered at The City University of New York I realized that I was wasting my time. None of these people really wanted to hire outsiders. In fact, they had become so insular about their hiring practices that no one from the outside the organization was getting in. From what I’ve seen, hiring in America has become corrupted by nepotism, cronyism, and favoritism.

And from my personal experiences a little racism and discrimination too. A Black man no matter his education or qualifications can just forget about working at a 9 to 5 these days. It’s not even worth his time to even waste filling out the application. The American workplace has become a social club.

It’s not about what you know, but who you know these days. Nowadays who gets hired is not based on work experience and skill, but on how someone sates a boss’ ego. A person could be grossly unqualified for a position, but if they know a manager somewhere, and they know how to say just the right thing to stroke his ego, they’ll have that job. Sure they could be fucking up every day and doing stuff like coming in late, or screwing up a business, but if they know how to socialize with management, they’ll remain in that job for years.

Moreover, it’s becoming more and more unethical. After what I experienced at an interview for an IT assistant position at CUNY, where the job description was changed on the fly, I realized no one cared about what I had to offer. These job interviews are just a formality people were going through so they could hire whoever they wanted.

In late 2011 early 2012 I just realized that in spending all this money looking for a job was wasting time. And my time was just too valuable to spend with people who aren’t interested in what I’m trying to offer them.

Time is something you can’t get back. It’s something that’s more precious than money. And every second I spent chasing someone elses’ job was a second I could spend doing more productive.

Like focusing on my books, my writing and my publishing career.

Every second I spent looking for someone elses’ job was time I could have been spending focusing on my writing and my publishing career. The more time I spent focusing on myself the further along I could get on that road to the next level.

And 2012 was a year where I had some of the strongest growth in the eBook marketplace, and expanded the audience of my blog. I learned a lot of new things and I was even able to teach other writers some of what I learned. Even though I’m still struggling, I am making progress.

The way I figure it the time I spend working for myself could eventually pay off with a best-selling book.

I dropped out of the job market because I began to understand how Every second people spend working for someone else is just time they’re wasting Every second I spend looking for a job is time I could use more productively doing other things. And every dollar I spend trying getting ready for an interview to go out and talk to people trying to sell them on why they should pay me is a dollar I could use towards selling them on buying a paperback or an eBook. If no one wants me to work for them, I’ll work for myself. No one can fire you if you own your own business.