Tag Archives: creativity

A Unique Review

A review by iloveuniquebooks.com

Blood of My Shadow is a book that covered all the shenanigans that takes place in the underworld where drugs are freely ferreted across borders by cartels. Granted that lots of books have been written in the past that gave insight about the drug world, however the author, Jovon Scot told the story in a unique and indebt way. The reason is not farfetched considering that he was an active player in most of the activities and was able to have firsthand information as well as observed everything from close quarters.

Another good attribute of Blood of My Shadow that helped in making it more “real” and pulsating is the way Jovon Scot begins the chapters with time, date and venue in dateline sort of. Once again, in helping to project the worldview of the characters in the book, the author would bring everyday life theories in explaining the motive or why the characters chose to act the way they did.

In terms of overall character development, the actors in Blood of My Shadow does not really ‘jump in your face’ so to speak. That is one area the author should have done better. The characters ought to have been more dramatic with salient unique attributes that would easily set them apart. This is not to say that they are all bland, not even in the least. However, the point is that they should have been more developed.

Another important aspect of written works whether fiction or nonfiction is the plot. It is the storyline that will determine whether a story will be thrilling or otherwise and that’s another major area Jovon Scot was able to score a bull’s eye. The book has a rich plot that seamlessly flowed from the beginning to the very end.

Another factor that helps in transforming literary works into becoming evergreen classics is the ability to make readers to identify with it, and Blood of My Shadow did well in that area. Readers that know how the underworld of drug racketeering works will easily agree with the events that took place in the book as factual while others who had no prior knowledge will be able to gain an insight beyond what is peddled in the mainstream media.

On a general perspective, Blood of My Shadow is amazing and such well detailed book can only be written by someone who was once actively involved as an insider.

Blood of my Shadow: The Rise & Fall of the Syndicate

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“Blood of my Shadow: The Rise & Fall of the Syndicate” will be released as an ebook and paperback in approximately four weeks.  As I’ve mentioned before, the author, Jovon Scott, is an inmate who I met while researching my last book, “Supermax Prison:  Controlling the most dangerous criminals.”  Jovon sent me several pages of his manuscript written in the urban novel/street lit genre.  Since I consider myself to be a writer of creative nonfiction, this has been an interesting venture for me.  

Jovon’s imagination shines through his writing like a flood light on a dark night.  One might say that I was hooked.  I edited 50 pages of the manuscript and waited for his response.  Jovon was excited about working together — Jovon as the author, and I as the editor.  Our efforts gained a contract with “History Publishing Company” out of New York.

I’m including the verbiage from the back of the book.  Hope you enjoy.  This is book one of a six book series.

The Syndicate lives by a set of rules and principles that not only govern our longevity in the underworld, but shapes who we are as a player in the game of chances.  Death is synonymous with the culture we live in; blood is only repaid in blood.  We are Penumbras, mere fractions of a shadow.  But when united, we become one full and complete shadow, absorbing the magical and spiritual strength emulated by a total eclipse.  And when Penumbras die, they become the Blood of my Shadow.
Mona Moore, Sole Proprietor of the Sheridan Syndicate.
***
It was in a 6 x 9 foot cell where the author, Jovon Scott, discovered how writing frees the soul and  opens a breeding place for creativity.  This is a work of street lit, focusing on the underbelly of urban culture.  It is here where the author combines lessons learned on the streets of Chicago, an unharnessed imagination, and an ability to spin an exciting story.  Blood of my Shadow is a narrative about control and power, accompanied by sex and violence, a lustful lifestyle, the willingness to die for a cause, and the hope of a lasting legacy.

 

 

   

Blood of my Shadow

I’ve been missing for a couple of months; editing a first for me, an Urban Novel.  Jovon Scott, an inmate in an Illinois prison, asked me if I would edit his work.  While I’ve always written nonfiction books, I was intrigued by Jovon’s imagination.  It is quiet remarkable.  A few months have passed and the manuscript is near completion, and we have a verbal commitment from a publisher.  I’m including a few pages which you might find interesting.

Blood of my Shadow

 by Jovon Scott

edited by Larry L. Franklin

About the Author

     “Writing is the avenue that changed my life, and I don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon.” Jovon Scott
***
     Jovon Scott is 30 years of age and began his incarceration in an Illinois prison at age 19. He has a projected parole date of 2033. Jovon was raised on the slum streets of Chicago in an area better known as the Robert Taylor Projects where unemployment reached 95%, an African-American population of 96%, 40% single-parent families, and a public assistant family income of $5,000 per year. It comes as no surprise that Jovon turned to street gangs that offered a means of survival, a family-like environment, money, drugs, sex, and respect.

Jovon gives credit to the gang culture for forcing him to want more out of life, and a willingness to pursue it with gusto. Discipline was front and center in the street gangs of the 1980s and 90s. Being self-educated, Jovon continues to prepare himself for a more favorable future upon his release.

It was in a 6 x 9 foot double-occupancy cell where Jovon discovered how writing frees the soul and opens an imaginary reality, a breeding place for creativity. “Blood of my Shadow” fits into the genre of urban fiction, focusing on the underbelly of the urban culture. It is here where Jovon combines lessons learned on the streets of Chicago, an unharnessed imagination, and his ability to spin an exciting story.

Prologue

War is a cause and blood is the ink used to write the markings on the wall. Blood spills on both sides – those who are innocent and our enemies as well. There will be casualties determined by providence, leaving us unable to choose who stays and who goes. We live by a set of rules and principles that not only govern our longevity in the underworld, but shapes who we are as a player in the game of chances. Everyone sitting at the table is family, willing to die for one another. Death is synonymous with the culture we live in. Blood is only repaid in blood.

     We are Penumbras, mere fractions of a shadow. But when united, we become one full and complete shadow, absorbing the magical and spiritual strength emulated by a total eclipse. And when Penumbras die, they become the Blood of my Shadow.    

Mona Moore, Sole Proprietor of The Sheridan Syndicate

***

The Sheridan Syndicate engaged in illegal activities for profit. While sometimes referred to as the mafia, mob, gang, or the underworld, The Syndicate had no equal. Under Mona Moore’s leadership, the organization had accumulated some $100 billion in capital; provided the umbrella under which criminal activities operate; and all for the sole purpose of granting the means to an end – control and power. The Meddstone Drilling Company and the Royal Diamond Casino & Resort were legitimate business organizations that provided cash flow and an avenue for money laundering. They too fell within the scope of the Syndicate.

The extravagant lifestyle and accumulation of wealth were mere byproducts. Underground drug traffic, money laundering, robbery, murder, blackmail, political misdeeds, investments, and inflows from outside investors led to the ultimate goal – control and power, an addiction that Mona Moore wholeheartedly admits.

While Mona maintained tight control of the Syndicate’s operations, her twin sons, Ty and Sky, assisted her. The enforcers, Kema and Anisa, protected the family and added to the core of professionals who ran the organization. Business associates, criminals, soldiers, policeman, politicians, investors, and other centers of influence made the system work.

In addition to the federal government, the Caudras and Mendoza Cartels were the Syndicate’s largest competitors. It was their job to destroy, lock up, or kill members of The Sheridan Syndicate. The Cartels were controlled by the Carlos Caudras family, the Mendoza brothers, and a large supporting cast. Drug traffic had broadened domestic terrorist activities, reaching into the international communities. Blood spilled could fill a river running from the east to the west coast, spilling over into the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean.

This is a fictional story about control and power, accompanied by sex and violence, a lustful lifestyle, the willingness to die for your cause, and the hope of a lasting legacy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Knock my socks off book”

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Perhaps one’s taste in books changes as much as their favorite ice cream or the potato chip of the day.  I tend to pigeon hole my favorite authors into one of three categories:  lyricist, storyteller, and knock my socks off.

The “lyricist” chooses words that mimic the streaming of musical notes; creating the sadness of a love affair gone bad; the intensity of a raw, dark murder; or the joyful sound of children playing in the sand box sharing gentle hugs as they close out another day.  It’s the flow, the beauty of the written word.

The “storyteller” writes words as if they are carefully chosen hues, creating an succession of colors rapidly moving together, jumping from one shade to another to another.  The image grabs hold of you, unable to stop until the tale has been told.  It’s the page turner, reading one leaf while turning onto the next.

The “knock my socks off” combines the talents of a “lyricist” and the “storyteller;” a byproduct of our brain’s emotional center; the limbic system — hypothalamus, thalamus, hippocampus, amygdala, pituitary gland — working in concert to create the next great book.  Only then can the lyricist and storyteller “knock my socks off.”

Fiction or Nonfiction, characters need depth.

IMG_0088I was in a small room waiting to see my pain management doctor.  There, taped to the wall, was a series of bright yellow faces staring at me, ten of them as I recall, each with a particular facial expression, indicating the level of pain that I was experiencing. At the time, the pain in my lower back was at a level six with surges reaching number ten.  Being a writer, my mind began to wonder.  Could I produce a chart showing the ten levels of emotional depth for the characters in my stories.  Fiction or nonfiction, characters need depth.  Number one would indicate the most depressing feelings possible, like my dog had bled out on me, vomited, empty her bowels, and died in my arms.  Number ten would represent the happiest of all feelings:  I went home for a quick lunch and ended up getting lucky.  Each number, from one to ten, would represent a particular depth of feelings.

I’ve had people ask me how to write a memoir if they haven’t suffered through hard times, how to write about war when you’ve never been in combat, or how to produce a fictional character with depth.  Now I’m not an expert on such matters, whether it’s about me or a make believe person.  Years ago, I would have registered a two,  maybe three on the depth chart.  Now, things are different.  

When I had been diagnosed as having PTSD brought on by horrific memories of childhood sexual abuse, I began what became longterm psychotherapy.  I’ll never forget the first time my therapist made a particular statement followed by, “How do you feel about that?”    “What do you mean, how do I feel?”  I asked.  “Just what I said,” she answered, “tell me what you are feeling.”  “Well, you either feel good or bad,” I said.  “Now I’m feeling bad.”  “Can you be more specific?” she asked.  “Do you feel sad, happy?”

It took several sessions before I could even answer the question:  “How to you feel about that?”  I was so lacking in feelings that I sometimes imagined that my two daughters had died, and then I would measure the depth of my feelings.  Empty feelings, that’s what I had.  I asked my therapist why I wasn’t able to feel like other people.  She assured me that I was a loving, compassionate man and that, in time, I would experience a whole range of feelings.  The journey was not easy.  It required a lot of hard work, emotional suffering, and a willingness to keep an open mind.  Well, it turned out that my therapist was right.  In time I became a different person, and I should say, a different writer.  I was able to connect with my feelings as never before.  I am now a level eight with surges to ten.

I remember the main character in my first book, “The Rita Nitz Story:  A life without parole.”  After several interviews Rita became upset with the directness of my questions, and accused me of being just like the prosecutor in her case.  “You’re all  the same,” she said.  Six months passed before she granted me another interview.  I had completed enough interviews that I could have finished her story, but that was not what I wanted.  I though about her background of sexual and physical abuse, the men in her life, dysfunctional family, etc… and realized that given her background, her behavior was quite normal.  Without realizing it, I was showing empathy, a characteristic that I had learned in therapy.  You can’t get into a character’s head without empathy.  Otherwise, you, as the author, become too much of an outsider.  And compassion, let’s not forget about having feelings for your character, and an open mind.  Empathy, compassion, and an open mind, all things I learned in therapy, opened the door to a deeper relationship between Rita and myself.

A character, whether yourself or fictional, doesn’t have to have a load of experiences or accomplishments to have depth.  Every person has a story, has depth.  What about a person that is superficial, seemingly empty, devoid of feelings, without material accomplishments, etc….?  I would argue that the person who holds all of these characteristics and seems to have no meaningful life, is a character with depth and has the potential for a great story.  And don’t sell yourself short.  With empathy, compassion, and an open mind you will find that you could be the character in a great story.

Go to the movies:  a great place to study characters.  Go see Blue Jasime written by Woody Allen.  Cate Blanchett does a magnificent job of playing a a New York socialite.  Although this is a great movie, I have to admit that Cate Blanchett’s character made me deeply depressed.  I found myself so sad that a person could be like her character, and not know how to correct her shortcomings.  She didn’t have to be like that, I thought.   But all of the character’s shortcomings is what made this into a great movie, in my opinion.  Now, apply that to our writing.

Fiction or Nonfiction, characters need depth.  Depth is not measured by a resume. Writers need to have empathy, compassion, and an open mind.  Then, and only then, will we see the depth in every character.  Yes, even when writing about yourself.  If you find this a bit weird, or unattainable, I suggest looking into meditation, therapy, and soul searching as a means for finding the empathy, compassion, and the open mind that all writers need.

When I first heard the words in the dark black night. Part II

7301_100437136820483_587807534_nI feel like I need to elaborate on my previous blog — “When I first heard the words in the dark black night.”

I just finished watching a concert of Jason Mraz on my television.  It was so obvious that Jason goes to that well of creativity which I referred to in my previous blog — “When I first heard the words in the dark black night.”  Without thinking, Jason pulls buckets of that liquid-like gel of creativity from the all too familiar well.  I couldn’t help but feel overcome by an urge to begin writing; looking and expecting to wallow in that substance that I call love.  How could any rush of that magnitude be called anything but love, God, or some spiritual force.  Of course I could be a bit more scientific and say that it was an excess of endorphins that I experienced.  But since this is my blog, I will call it love.

When I want to explain a difficult concept, I turn to the use of metaphors.  Lets imagine that we are sitting in the living room with our children or grandchildren.  I’ve done this many times before.  For the moment, the conversations have stopped as music fills the room.  The children, two, three, or four years of age, begin dancing in an unplanned, uncontrolled, creative way of moving about the room.  They’re dancing to the tune of a different drummer, some might say.  No inhibitions, no self-made boundaries to restrict the freedom of movement.  This is creativity at its finest.  Now watch the same children twenty years later.  Self imposed inhibitions, lower self esteem, someone is watching me, etc…  The well of creativity has been hampered if not closed.  The great artists are like children.  They play in that liquid-like gel that I call love.

A good musician has a command of the techniques used to sing or play their instrument.  A truly great musician adds creativity to their performance.  When I was a music major at the University of Illinois, we had a saying:  You are either a musician or a mechanic.  A musician plays with feeling.  The mechanic is merely a musician without feeling.  Writing works the same way.  Not only do we have to master the craft of writing, but to be a great writer we must visit the well of creativity.

When I feel the rush of creativity knocking on my door I must do something.  After each of my two previous books I quickly began working on my next manuscript.  I had to write another book.  I had neglected the marketing aspect of my books.  Now I’m trying to get into social media and build my platform — all things that we are suppose to do if someone is going to buy our book.  As a result, I haven’t begun writing in a serious manner for a few months.  My well of creativity is running over the top and leaking in numerous places.  I don’t know how much longer I can hold off.  So, what do I do?  For the moment, I’m going to concentrate on the marketing of my book and write more blogs.  Maybe the blogs will allow the creativity to simmer for awhile.  Perhaps I’ll sing to my dog, clean out the garage, or feel my soul begin to die.