James : When did you begin to write?
Carl: I began writing poetry on March 16, 2007; two months before I graduated from high school.
James : When did you first discover that you were a writer?
Carl: I discovered I was a writer after successfully publishing my first book of poetry and receiving many book reviews from it. Before publishing a book, writing was a hobby and interest for me.
James : How much did you write before you were published?
Carl: I wrote over 70 poems before I ever published my first book of poetry. Inside of my first book, I chose the poems that seemed appropriate for that season.
James : What is your favorite part of writing?
Carl: My favorite part of writing is inspiration and aspiration. I love to inspire and encourage others with the things I write about. I find issues that we face on a daily basis, then look for ways to make us take a second look at the situation. Writing is all about turning the ordinary to extraordinary! Along with inspiring, I write to aspire and attain new goals in writing; as well as become proficient with my grammar and choice of words.
James : Tell us about your latest release.
Carl: My latest release, Poetic Expressions Vol. VI, has been recently published in June 2013 through Bowker. The book is currently for purchase through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound. Poetic Expressions Vol. VI includes riddles, sonnets, short stories, and poems filled with excitement, laughter, and relaxation.
James : Wow! This book sounds really good. Are you planning on writing more in the years to come?
Carl: Writing is something that interests me and something I do enjoy doing. Yes, I plan on writing more books with new themes as well as attending a lot of writing courses through different schools. Currently, I am attending Chicago School of Poetics, but did Therapeutic Writing Institute and UCLA Berkeley Institute prior.
James : So far what is your worst criticism/attacks, and how have you overcome it?
Carl: My worst criticism/attacks lie within my book reviews. Two attacks I had to learn to overcome were being told that my writing is boring and being called a homosexual because of the themes I write about. One thing that helped me to overcome these attacks was authenticity. I had to become real about myself and who I was and what I was as a writer. Through many years of self-introspection, I have found it to be comforting to know that all writers write with one goal in mind ---- to inspire the reader!
James : What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Carl: Being very proficient and active in promoting a passion towards poetry, I can say that one of the greatest accomplishments I am proud of is establishing a poetry club in 2008 and running as Chairman. This club taught me a lot about reaching out to my local community and it gave me opportunity as well as venues, where I could host different events and inspire my local community to become active in poetry writing.
James : What does your writing process look like?
Carl: My writing process is very scary, yet delightful and fulfilling to me. Before I write, I make sure to have a cup of Hazelnut coffee, a medium point pen that has a good grip to it, and looseleaf paper. Yes, looseleaf paper because writing inside of a journal becomes a pain when the binder strap is in the way. First, I set the atmosphere for writing. I look for a quiet place to write and I make sure to meditate before I begin. Starting off with the first page, I write down whatever comes to my mind; literally, every single thought. I write down the rhymes, word plays, expressions, phrases, and all. I scribble all over the first sheet of paper. Then, I take another coffee break, close my eyes, meditate, and come back to that same sheet of paper two hours later. This time, I create word maps meaning I put similar words, similar themes, and similar phrases into different groups. These groups help me to come up with a title for my poem. If the poem is written about something that I have not yet experienced, I do some research on the idea and I check to see how everyone else feels about it. I want my writing to feel real! After giving the poem a title name, I decide what style of poetry I would like to write. If my thoughts are hot in my head and I just want to write down something quickly, I’ll choose free verse or blank verse. If I want to challenge myself and stick to a rhyming scheme, I may choose quatrain, sonnet, terza rima, or Chant Royal. It all depends on the urgency of my message.
James : How did you get published?
Carl: When I first danced into the book publishing era, I had to do a lot of research on a couple of things. I visited bookstores and looked at the inside of books to see how they were layered out (i.e. preface, foreword, table of contents). Then, I research the book standards and ISBN information. This lead me to Bowker Book Publishing Services. All of my books are published through them and all fees were paid by me. I did not receive any assistance and each book costs me approximately $3000 total. This cost included ISBNs, EAN barcodes, copyrights, manufacturing of books, book standard fees, and marketing of books through Kindle, Nook, and other ebook networks.
James : How do you come up with title of your books?
Carl: Interesting question. A dear friend of mine, named Anna Maria
Clark, helped me come up with the first title of my first book. I wanted a catchy name with a catchy book cover that would attract an ordinary person walking into a bookstore. The name “Poetic Expressions” came from me expressing my passion and appreciation to those who write poetry, advocate poetry in their local area, and support me in my passion for poetry. After the first book, I learned about volumes and I decided to create volumes on my books instead of separate anthologies. Each volume contains a different theme with a different, inspiring book cover. The cover image on the volume of the book gives away the type of theme that book has. Before starting another volume to my book, I would assess my poems and look for similar themes in them. I would wait until I had about 25 to 30 poems to squeeze inside of a book. The majority of my books are 60 pages and less and this was done deliberately. Why? I thought about the reader. I didn’t want them to feel like they were carrying a brick or attending a college class.
James : Can you enlighten us a little more about your books?
Carl: As mentioned before, each volume is centered around a theme of poetry. On Goodreads, I do constant book giveaways to foreigners because I also want them to be given the chance to view my books. Whenever a new release is brought to the public, I share 10% of my finalized manuscript on Kindle, NOOK, and Kobo Books for free.
James: Tell us your guiding principle that governs your life?
Carl: When it comes to writing, I have three principles I live by. The first one is never stop a person who becomes interested in writing how they feel. Let them write until their hands fall off, until they catch writer’s bump calluses, until they are fulfilled and satisfied. Don’t destroy the dreams of a new-born writer! My second principle is become real with yourself when you write! Don’t write a lie and don’t write about something that you haven’t already experienced. I love one of Shakespeare’s quote that says “To Thine Ownself Be True”. Let the world, let your audience, see who you truly are and you’ll be amazed at how many lives you touch. My last principle is God directs my steps in writing. In other words, I allow Him to place me into a position to write down the thoughts that He gives me and shape them in a way where those reading would understand, acknowledge, and change. Writing is powerful, writing is transformational, and writing can change lives!
James : How have you cultivated these values?
Carl: All three principles are cultivated with positive affirmations that I say daily to myself. Literally, I spend 15 minutes in my bathroom mirror staring at myself, reminding myself of who I am as a writer and what I have become. I want my writing to be a testimony to others and a passion to others, so everything I write about and everything I say, I make sure that my life aligns to it.
James : Do you have any advice for writers looking to get published?
Carl: I have plenty of advice to novice writers, but there are two things I would like to give them regarding publishing. First off, publishing a book, whether through a press or on your own, requires a lot of time, effort, and money. If any one of these objects is lacking, please do not swim into the book publishing era until you have them. You will need time because creating a manuscript and following a publisher’s guidelines for your manuscript takes a very long time. I have spoken to various novelists, writers, and poets who are authors and they all tell me that it takes me months, sometimes years, to complete a manuscript. Money is definitely needed … ISBNs, copyrights, book fees, marketing a book is all expensive, but worth it in the end. Some advice I would like to share pertaining to book reviews is don’t let them consume you or change your mind towards writing. Yes, you want to know what your audience and you want to know how you become a better writer. Take book reviews with a grain of salt and as constructive criticism. Dust yourself off and get back up and write again. Change a little, but never change your personality or passion towards writing.