Hey everyone, welcome to 'Book Insight Fridays!' I hope you guys are ready for what’s coming because this is surely to be my favorite content to share. Book Insight Fridays came to mind due to people not fully knowing an author and how they write their books. So it’s only fitting that I become one of the first authors to share how I write my content, why I write it and what my goals are with publishing the books that I do.
One of my goals is to share some inside scoop on notes I take before I write my books (which are interesting in itself), to do lists at certain times of my journey, projects I plan out ahead of time, podcast notes and how I decide my content. There’s so much so share and it’s going to be a fun ride, I promise you that.
Those two books you see when you first come onto my website, you will get to see I’ll say 90% of my notes. That’s fair right? I can’t let you see everything, there are some things I gotta save for myself (books I have planned, books I may not write) so I don’t want to get you excited for a book and I don’t write it.
I want you to not just see my books, my podcasts, my YouTube videos and that’s it. I want you to become immersed in this journey I’m on myself. I want you all to see the good, bad, ugly and indifferent. I want you to see what goes into being an author, blogger, podcaster and motivational figure.
None of this is easy, it’s hard, very hard. Everyday, there’s something to do and honestly, I work a good 350 days a year on this whether I’m thinking about things, processing things, watching the world, reading other books and content, watching documentaries to get my juices flowing, my mind and brain are always chugging away.
With that said, those books at the top of this blog, you’ll start to see what’s in them, in the coming weeks so I hope you enjoy seeing a lot of it! Here are 50 questions about me that you can read to get to know me better!
1. When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer?
It never dawned upon me, I’ve been writing poetry since I was 13 years old. It just happened after a vacation to Los Angeles a few years ago where I was thinking of what would be the next phase of my life. I knew I wanted to do something that would impact others and I thought to myself, I should start writing and now I'm on this crazy, amazing, journey.
2. What works best for you: Typewriters, fountain pen, dictate, computer or longhand?
My laptop and iPad are my go-to devices and my iPad goes with me most places. Having Google Drive on my Chromebook, iPhone and iPad I can re-read anything on the go and also type my books. Having everything synced helps me immensely, as long as I have Wifi or hotspot on my phone wherever I go.
3. What inspires you to write?
My life situations, things going on around me, things going on in the world, people’s stories and experiences in their lives, being an observer of world events going on daily. I am very quiet and observant so I can get a book idea from anywhere honestly.
4. Where and when do most of your book ideas come?
Honestly, at the most random times my book ideas come to me. Most of them come late at night when I'm in bed before I go to sleep. I'll be in the dark thinking, the light bulb goes off and before I know it, I'm writing the book idea, potential chapters, characters names and a synopsis. But I do get them in the shower, when I'm eating, listening to a life story, it comes randomly. It's a gift and a curse with that, trust me.
5. How often do you write?
I try to write a good 3-4 times a week whether it’s a book or short poems that I keep for my own reading later on. When I take long breaks, I spend more time reading and letting my brain recharge so I'm fresh when I get back to it.
6. When do you write the most? Are there certain times of the year?
Yes, I write the most from May-September which is a surprise to a lot of people. Those are the warmer months but it's when I have the most focus. There are no TV shows, there's only baseball for sports (I don't watch my team every night) and my brain is much fresher during that time. So most summers I'll bang out 5 books along with editing, formatting and putting them on pre-order.
7. Do you have a set schedule for writing, or are you one of those who write only when they feel inspired?
I don’t have a set schedule, whenever I feel like writing I will do it. I can be on the train riding home from work, sitting at work on my lunch break, or at home (where my books are mostly written). Most of my inspiration is already there. Once I write down everything I want to write about in a specific book, I've already written the book in my head, I just have to type it out and make sure it flows and it sounds good to keep the reader engaged.
8. How hard is it to sit down and actually start writing something?
When I first started writing my books it wasn’t hard, I only cared about writing. Now, it’s a totally different story, social media engagement, social media postings, recording audio books, recording podcasts, writing scripts for podcasts, writing my blogs weekly, it becomes challenging. It’s all about time management these days. Some projects have to get sacrificed to get other ones done. A lot of things are done ahead of time (blogs and podcasts).
9. Do you aim to complete a set number of pages or words each day?
Not really, I just start writing, I let things flow and then when I’m ready to stop, I do. I don’t really force the issue with my writing. It’s only because I have a book where I have my chapters planned ahead of time and I have notes written on what I will be writing about so that makes it much easier.
10. Writers are often associated with loner tendencies; is there any truth to that?
Yes very much so, part of it is because I’m a writer, I'm an Aquarius and I’m an only child. I’m honestly used to being a loner and it doesn’t really bother me. I’m comfortable making myself happy and writing. My best friends totally understand and respect my space so that's what makes it so much better for me when I start writing.
11. What, according to you, is the hardest thing about writing?
Staying mentally focused with the amount of technology that’s around. Cell phones, iPads, television, and especially social media. The good part is I can buckle down when I need to and get the work done.
12. What would you say is the easiest aspect of writing?
Getting into a zone and knowing what you want to write about. When you have the story line, plot, characters all in place, everything flows smoothly. That's why I spend a good amount of time brainstorming before I start writing the book (the key to me writing my books).
13. Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
I read a lot because it fuels me and it gives me ideas so that's the great part. I would say Tom Burrell, Matt Desmond and George Orwell are my favorites at the moment but that changes as I read more books.
14. Over the years, what would you say has improved significantly in your writing?
I would say my writing has improved over the years which is fulfilling to me. But I think the readers should decide that. There's one person who has read all of my books and she's a radio host. I'd ask her, she will give you the honest truth. The story ideas that I come up with, the story lines that I’m able to create in my mind and it allows me to put it onto paper is the crazy thing.
15. What are your main goals with writing books, do you have a certain amount you want to write?
The main goal is to bring forth more discussion on all of the societal issues going on in the world. My mantra is, "to change the world, one book at a time." The goal is to write 60 by the end of 2024 and then retire to go focus on other things (and yes I literally have all of my books planned through the end of 2024).
16. Any advice you would like to give to aspiring writers?
Write what you know and love, not what’s trendy and hot right now. The market changes constantly so don’t feel like you have to cater to what’s hot at the moment. Learn as much as possible about the business and budget yourself to where you’re not spending too much. Follow your passion and don’t let anyone change your focus and your vision.
17. What did you want to become when you were a kid?
I wanted to be a lawyer, then I realized how many years of school I’d have to do and I changed my mind quickly. I had aspirations of being a sports broadcaster or analyst (I was on YouTube with my own sports show at one time) but my laptop crashed and the dream faded and here I am, an author sharing a vision on changing the world one book at a time. I almost became a host on Fuse TV many years ago which would've been amazing but I got nervous when the lights came on.
18.Tell us about your writing style, how is it different from other writers?
All of my books are in prose format, it’s not the traditional book that you would pickup and read. I was able to incorporate societal issues and poetry prose into books. My goal is to stand out from the other writers and authors and carve my own path in my writing.
19. Do your novels carry a message?
All of my books have some message, it’s a matter of figuring out what it is and utilizing that to impact others and change the world that we live in. I write about various things from men’s struggles to women’s issues, domestic violence, alcohol and drug addiction, America, racism and many other subjects. I don’t shy away from a little controversy and getting you to critically think a little about the world around you.
20. Are there any books that you are currently reading and why?
Oh there are so many but I'll name two, Brainwashed by Tom Burrell and Evicted by Matthew Desmond. I have a long list of books I've read and I have a lot more to read this year alone.
21. Is there anything you are currently working on that may intrigue the interest of your readers?
So I'll just give y'all the rundown of my projects. The Kids With Guns series will finish in June, in September I'll be releasing The Man Who Lost His Soul and in December I'll be releasing Living Life to the Fullest (all on pre-order in all major bookstores). This summer I'll be writing the five book series The Private Investigator series (releasing 2021), in the fall I'll be starting the 12 book series A Woman's Worth (releasing 2022) that will tackle women's issues in today's society but in a positive light. That's all I'll give you, I can't tell you all of the projects I'm working on but some big projects are coming in the next few years, that I'll say.
22. Who are your books mostly dedicated to?
I dedicate my books to my grandparents who are no longer with us, and people who deal with tough times in their lives. There’s always a way to make things better in life and being there for each other is so important.
23. Who is the most supportive of your writing in your family?
I would say my parents but at this point, they can't keep up with me anymore because I have so much going on. When I'm in my zone, they know not to call, text, or bother me much.
24. When you were young, did you ever see writing as a career or full-time profession?
Definitely not, it was either a lawyer or sports (granted most of my friends saw me doing something in sports). Go figure I had sports jobs the majority of my life. Writing was a past-time for me and very few people knew I wrote poetry but it was for fun. Now I'm deep into a career with this and it takes up most of my time when I'm not working my day job.
25. Do you have a day job other than being a writer? And do you like it?
I work in the medical industry on the back end. The job is manageable, it pays my rent, allows me to eat, go to the gym, save and pay other bills but it's not my end all be all.
26. Does your day job ever get in the way of your writing?
It doesn’t, I’m always working whether I’m on the train traveling to work, before I start work, during my breaks, riding on the train going home, there’s always something to do. Plus, I work 35 hours a week but in 4 days so I have 3 day weekends which allows me to get a lot done.
27. How do you see writing? As a hobby or a passion?
It was a love/hate relationship hobby ordeal between ages 13 to 33. I published my first book at 33 years old. Now I'm at 24 out of the 60 to date. The brand continues to grow and the passion is there.
28. Is it true that anyone can be a writer?
I definitely think so, it’s what you’re good at and how you’re able to express and formulate your thoughts onto paper. It’s about self-awareness (stole this from Gary Vaynerchuk).
29. People believe that being a published author is glamorous, is that true?
It definitely isn’t, it’s a lot of hard work, especially being self-published. Everything falls on you, every decision, every investment. You’ll have successes and failures, it’s part of the process. For me, I think of the book idea, formulate my thoughts, write it down in a book, go to Canva to make a book cover, write a synopsis (sometimes I write it after I finish the book), write the book, edit and proofread, format it, post it on all bookstores, marketing and promotion, book reviews and that's just the book aspect of it. I have a podcast, recording audio books myself, writing these blogs weekly, it's a lot to grow and build your brand and standout from the rest.
30. Do you like traveling or do you prefer staying indoors?
I like the combination of both, traveling is fun and exploring different places. I also like to stay indoors and relax too, my days are long and catching up on rest is always helpful.
31. How does it feel when you don’t get the recognition you deserve?
It only makes me work harder, that's all. I stay thinking, processing how to grow my brand. They say that nothing happens overnight.
32. Have you ever marketed your own books yourself?
As a self-published author, that’s what I spend most of my time thinking about and doing. It used to be fun, now I let the experts do it more than anything these days with all that's on my plate.
33. Are you satisfied with your success?
I don’t think I ever will be satisfied for numerous reasons. I’m competitive with myself and always challenging myself to do more, write more, write impactful books that will forever live on when I’m long gone. I’m trying to be legendary as a writer and author.
34. Is writing book series more challenging?
Very much so, I have been fortunate enough to have completed 4 different book series to date. The Struggles and Growth of a Man, Code Blue, The World We Live In and Kids With Guns with 3 more major book series coming in the next 3 years. Developing story lines, evolving characters and keeping readers engaged is the biggest challenge. I want to write great books, but in the midst of it make sure that I’m sticking to talking about social issues that are going on in the world.
35. What do you do in your free time?
I listen to music everyday (I’m eclectic when it comes to my music), I go running (when the weather permits, living in New York is a struggle), I play basketball, I watch my TV shows when I can and I love to watch sports (basketball, football and baseball). Spending time with my family and friends I do occasionally but most of the time I’m always working on a project and definitely reading new books that interest me and can inspire me.
36. Did the thought to give up writing ever occur to you?
I go through it at least once a month but I keep going. I say I'm going to quit but then I end up right back at my computer writing but honestly I can see myself retiring at the end of 2024. That will be an 8 year run with 60 books published.
37. What is your motivation for writing more?
Knowing that I can impact people and make people think about the world and what’s going on around us. I'm motivated by knowing that my books can reach people in different parts of the world and my stories can resonate with them in some way, shape or form.
38. Which book would you want adapted for the silver screen?
The Code Blue series I would want to be adapted into the silver screen (I actually have written short films for a few chapters from Part 1 of the book). I think that series hits hard on racism and real issues among citizens and police officers in America.
39. Have you ever written a character based on the real you in some part?
Let’s just say Robert has a few personalities traits and thoughts like me from the Struggles and Growth of a Man series. Not many people know that unless I tell them but just a little tidbit from my writing. Gary from the Code Blue series has the morals and values like me but I had to write him in a way where he's a protagonist and an antagonist (you'll have to read the series to understand where I'm coming from with that).
40. When can the readers expect your next book in print?
The rest of this year is June, September, and December for new books. Next year will be February, April, June, September and December. Keep a lookout for the pre-orders of my books, I post them early on all major bookstores.
41. How big of a part does music play in creating your “zone”?
Let’s just say there isn’t a book that I have written that didn’t involve music and getting into a “zone.” Music plays a huge part in my writing and depending on my mood, I’ll listen to electronic or ambient music to get me in a good flow. A lot of times I don’t want to listen to words, I just need a smooth flow to the music to relax my mind and allow the thoughts to come.
42. Do you need to be in a specific place or room to write, or you can just sit in the middle of a café full of people and write?
I write my best at home, sitting at my desk in my comfortable chair by the window. Long as my laptop is updated and charged, my headphones and phone are charged, I'm good to go. I can’t sit around people and write, they would be nothing but a distraction.
43. Some writers create a bubble around themselves until they’re finished with their project – how true is that in your case?
That’s very true, I’m a hermit when it comes to my writing. I will make sure that I do everything I need to before I sit down to get my writing done. I don’t like to be disturbed much so I sign off of social media, turn on my music and get to work.
44. Do you mentor?
I mentor up and coming authors whenever I can. I try to give them insight on what I've done, what has worked for me, my failures, good and bad investments, etc. I want to do speaking engagements in the future but time will tell with all that I'm working on.
45. How long do you take to write a book?
It depends to be honest. If I'm in a zone, I can write a book anywhere from 5 days to 2 weeks. Living Life to the Fullest releasing at the end of this year I wrote in 5 days literally but then a book like I Woke Up A Black Man took a month. I had to run some of my chapters through a close coworker Rob I'm cool with and he gave me some insight. I also had to run the book idea and concept through my great friend Eden and we talked about different things and she gave me her insight and read the book before it was published (something I NEVER do but had to with a controversial book) so I'm thankful for those two and I definitely included them in my thank you's at the end of the book.
46. How active are you on social media? And how do you think it affects the way you write?
I'm on Instagram (aquarianmelo) but I take breaks from it so don't go on there hoping for daily posts lol, YouTube (jamellcrouthers), and my Podcast (The Aquarianmind Podcast on Anchor, iTunes, Spotify, Google and Stitcher).
47. Are you single, dating, married? Do you have any kids?
Ahhh, the personal questions, it was a matter of time. I'm currently single, not dating and focused on my books, podcasts and so many other things. I don't have kids but I do love them, they're the coolest. With all of that plus a full-time job, I'm just sticking to what's going to get me far in my career. Plus I don't have plans on staying in New York for the forseeable future and I will be moving to California to grow my brand.
48. What would you say is your favorite book or series, the hardest book or series you wrote and a book/series that you'll be publishing in the future that will surprise people.
Favorite book series was The Struggles and Growth of a Man, it tackles men's issues and its something that isn't discussed enough in today's world. I worked on talking about the social stigmas we face and writing story lines that are relatable to readers. The hardest was The World We Live In series. That was 19 different characters, 5 book series, developing story lines, a lot of raw emotions that went into writing it, addressing so many societal issues in those books and I wrote Parts 4 and 5 at the same time (a little tidbit most don't know). A book that's coming in the future is Who Influences Your Children. It's going to be an interesting one, that's for sure.
49. Where do you see the future of writing and authors?
I think it's going to continuously grow as time goes on. I just hope more societal issue books get written that's for sure.
50. Where do you see the challenges in authors growing their brands?
The challenges are social media and authors getting too engulfed in that. The other challenges are budgeting and utilizing the right websites and people to help them grow their brand. The future is bright though and I see a lot of self-published authors becoming more successful and not needing bigger publishing companies. Authors are starting to take control of their content and that I truly love.
Be good everyone and go accomplish your goals!