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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Another one of my favorite articles... We got a Black President - Now what?

We got a Black President…Now what?
  Now that Obama’s in office has young America stopped voting? Who and where are our Senators? Here I go again with my statistics.
  On February 23rd, 1870 the first African American was elected to serve in the United States Senate. Since 1870, there have only been five (yes, I said ONLY five) other African Americans ever to serve in the Senate and only seven Hispanics.
  How come this is something that young America, especially young African Americans and Hispanics are not more concerned about? The United States Congress is the legislative branch of the Federal Government. Shouldn’t we be more involved?
  Not surprisingly, President Obama is the first and only President to appoint an African American to Senate. Of the only six African Americans, President Obama was the fifth and won his election by the popular vote. That goes to show you right there that your vote does count!
  The fact that Illinois has a high rate of voters as well as a high African American population may account for the fact that the last three Senators, Carol Mosley Braun (1-3-93 – 1-3-99), Barack Hussein Obama (1-3-05 – 11-16-08) and Roland W. Burris (12-31-08 – incumbent) were all from the state of Illinois. Come on America, let’s take a page out of Illinois book and start voting for our Senators as well.
  On February 3rd, 1870 when the amendment was ratified and everyone was given the right to vote why hasn’t this advantage been taken yet? What are you waiting for young America? You think just because we got a Black President, everything is all good now? Why aren’t we exercising this right? This is a privilege we are being given. Many people died and are still dying to this day just to make sure we maintain this right. Have we become that complacent that we are leaving all of the decisions regarding our future to the few people that decide to get out there and vote?
  It just absolutely blows my mind that these statistics are true and correct. How can we not be more aware of who are government is.  I wish this article would have been my topic last month and maybe I could have encouraged just a few of you to vote. Hopefully, this time next year you will remember this article and get out and vote. You may think your vote doesn’t make a difference but it does. When it comes to our Alderman, Mayors and Senators, the popular vote makes a big difference.  I hear constant complaints regarding discrimination. How can we even have the nerve to complain when we are not using our right to vote and starting in our backyard by getting the proper people in place to insure that discrimination does not happen?
  I said all of that to say…If you didn’t get out and Vote, you have no “Right” to complain about anything.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Choosing a Child Care Provider... or an Editor!

I often get the question, “How do I choose an editor?”
I often equate it to finding a childcare provider. Sounds silly, huh? Let me explain. When an author creates a manuscript it is much like a pregnancy. The author is creating, growing and producing something from within side of them. They prepare for the birth, which would be the release of the book and then they continue to help it grow which would be the marketing and promotion. So I suggest, finding someone with the same qualities you would want in a childcare provider for your child.
First of all, you want a professional. You will want someone whose references you can check and confirm. You will not want to hear what their best friend or sister thinks about them but what actual clients of their service think.
You will want someone firm yet caring. You need to work with someone who is not going to be afraid to reprimand mistakes and tell you about them, but will also be able to do it in a kind way. This will insure productivity as opposed to putting the author on the defense.
You will want someone educated in that field. Unfortunately, there are no licenses or boards governing the conduct or education of editors. There are no mandated continuing education classes as there are with most professional careers. It is up to the editor to stay active in educating themselves and keeping up with changes. A lot of people think that since they can spot typographical errors in their favorite books, that they can be an editor. This is not true.
Ask your editor what Style Guide they will be using. Most fiction uses The Chicago Manual of Style but some publishers such as Triple Crown Publications prefer The AP Style Guide. Your script needs to have a consistent style so it is imperative that one of these is used. Your editor should also include with his or her service, a style sheet that is specific to your writing. If they don’t know what this is or don’t do this, don’t use them.
As with any type of service, make sure that your editor provides you with specific contracts detailing their obligation to you and your financial obligation to them. When making payments via Pay-Pal, be sure to mark it as payment for a service should there ever be any disputes. If you are paying via check or money order, be sure to designate specifically what the payment is for in the memo section.
Lastly, make sure you have an open line of communication with your editor. There are a few terrific editors out there who can help introduce your baby to the world in style. Unfortunately, there are also several want-to-be editors who are looking to take advantage of people and their dream. Make sure you are as careful and as thorough as you would be if you were choosing a childcare provider and you should be just fine.
You can check out our editing service at or if you have any specific questions, you can always email those to
Niccole Simmons
Co-Founder of 21st Street Urban Editing & Publishing

One of my Favorite Interviews... Author Terry Wroten

“Being sentenced to ten years in the California State Prison at the age of fourteen was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.”
Imagine my surprise upon hearing this coming from twenty-five year old debut author, Terry L. Wroten.  At the age of ten, Wroten who was a resident of South Central, Los Angeles joined the infamous 4trey gangster crips street gang.  At the age of thirteen, Wroten was shot six times by rival gang members. At the age of fourteen, Wroten was taken into custody and charged with three murders, robbery and assault. Inevitably he was exonerated of the three murder charges but was sentenced to the California Department of Corrections for a period of ten years for the other charges. At age twenty-five, Wroten is the most anticipated street literature author coming from the West Coast.
At the time of his incarceration, Mr. Wroten was illiterate.  He would have to have cell mates read him letters from his mother and also write his letters to her.  He was unable to even address an envelope. He spent the first two years of his incarceration in a juvenile detention center where he began to learn how to read and write.  A few months short of turning sixteen, Wroten was transferred to Tehachapi State prison.  Here, the older inmates would help Wroten with his reading and writing. Sometimes the guards would even give him a hand.  An older cellmate taught him how to use a dictionary at which time he learned how to look up words he couldn’t understand and inevitably expanded his vocabulary. Wroten reports that his comprehension skills seemed to almost immediately become enhanced upon learning how to utilize the dictionary.  After being stabbed while engaged in prison riot at the age of eighteen, where inmates and correctional officers were injured. Wroten was placed in the Segregated Housing Unit (SHU) for term five years for battery on a peace officer.  It was at this time he read the book entitled “Gangsta” by K’wan and thought that he could write a similar tale. This is when he started to write.
In 2007 at the age of 22, Wroten was released to a half way house in order to become un-institutionalized and learn how to find his way back into society. He had a counselor which he reported to daily. After several meetings the counselor told Wroten that if he could not find gainful employment soon, he would be revoked and sent back to the penitentiary.  When the counselor questioned Wroten about what he was able to do or what kind of skills he had, his reply was, “I don’t know how to do shit but read and write.”
Wroten’s counselor then asked to review some of his writing.  Upon completing eight years of his ten year bid, he had approximately seven manuscripts completed.  While being placed back in custody on a parole violation, Mr. Wroten had the opportunity to finish his scripts for a total of twelve completed novels upon his release. His counselor was extremely impressed by the content of Wroten’s stories and felt as if his writing was comparable to other urban street lit. authors. 
Wrotens counselor decided to try and help him find a publisher.  After being incarcerated at the time of the internet boom, Wroten was completely unfamiliar with how to use a computer or the internet. The first thing the counselor taught Wroten was about the social networking site, My Space.  It was there that they reached out to the inspiration behind Wroten’s writing, author K’wan. K’wan recognized the talented young man’s writing skills and for two years the two corresponded while preparing for the release of “Natural Born Killaz”.
Now that Wroten has signed a book deal under K’wan’s publishing house Black Dawn Inc. he is hoping to open some doors for others on the West Coast. As of now, the East Coast has a strong-hold on the urban fiction-street lit. genre. Wroten also aspires to show kids in urban communities that may be going down the path that he once did, that illegal hustling, selling drugs and gangbanging isn’t the only way.  He currently does free motivational speaking at high schools and community centers in the Los Angeles area.  Also, Wroten has penned an anthology; out now, with authors K’wan, Jrod Nider, JM Benjamin and Randy Ski-Thompson titled “The Massacre”. His debut novel by Black Dawn Inc. entitled “Natural Born Killaz” is also available now.
Mr. Wroten is also hoping to break into the film industry.  He is currently in the process of writing screen plays and continuing to work on manuscripts.  He also wants naysayers of urban fiction to know that had it not been for the gritty street tales urban fiction portrays, that he most likely would have remained illiterate and a lifelong menace to society.  Wroten went on to point out that most characters in urban street lit do tend to redeem themselves at the end of the novel.  “This is something we can relate to, not Judy Blume, Stephen King or JK Rowlings. This is what life is. I’m just bringing it to the frontline,” he stated humbly.
As the author of this article, I do have to say that Mr. Wroten humility was a pleasant surprise.  Having a little bit of background information before speaking to Mr. Wroten, I assumed I would be talking to a rough and gruff thug; however, Mr. Wroten was kind, soft and well spoken whose passion and desire to write, not for fame and fortune but to find a way out and to inspire others was made evident throughout the entire interview. His gratitude and thankfulness to author K’wan for giving him an opportunity to fulfill his goals is inexpressible. His desire to be a role model and help others is also like nothing I have ever seen before.  
If you would like to contact Terry L Wroten, you can reach out to him at or Facebook
Niccole Simmons
21st Street Urban Editing & Publishing, LLC