BLACK HISTORY MONTH SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW – JOE ROBINSON CURRIE

At what point in your life did you discover that you were destined to be a comic book writer?
Hmmm destined, I’ll say this. There was a Comic-Con I had just attended in Chicago. It was my first one and it was like going to Disney World. I had never seen anything like it. The very next week I was having lunch with a friend and he suggested we start a company and create our own comics. I think I started writing comics that day.
How long have you been writing comic books professionally and do you work for an outside comic book company/studio, freelance or own your own company/studio?
About 25 years now. My company is called Strictly Underground Comics, It serves as an imprint under the umbrella of StreetTeam Studios.
What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of being a comic book writer, and even more specifically a black comic book writer?
Being an independent publisher I have complete freedom to tell any story I want. As a black comic book writer It’s telling stories that otherwise will not be told.
Do you create full time, or do you have another full-time job? What is your educational background?
I have a day job. I went to Columbia College in Chicago. I skipped my 4th year and took the money that would have been my tuition and started Strictly Underground Comics.
What tools of the trade do you most like to create with?
Just a basic pen and a legal pad, once I have the story the way I want I move to the laptop and put it all down. Make what ever edits and changes I need to and so on.
Who are some of your biggest comic book writer influences?
Oh wow Stan Lee, Warren Ellis, Dwayne Mcduffie, Grant Morrison just to name a few.
What style(s) does your comic book writing take and how much has black culture and history influenced your style?
I think you can definitely see and feel that in the work that I do both my parents made sure that I had knowledge of self and my history. So yeah it’s a pretty big influence.
What inspires you to create and how do you strive to reach your readers within the black community by reflecting themselves in your work?
Inspiration comes from all over the place. It could be a book I’m reading. Sometimes it’s music or sometime simply walking down the street. As far as how I reach black readers. I think it’s important to see yourself reflected in a medium that really didn’t have you in there. I’m a black man and I have a certain perspective and vision and it’s important to have those visuals and stories.
Do you have a particular project or projects which stand out as your favorite(s)?
I like them all. Because being Indie you know the sheer sacrifice and energy it takes to get it out. So when It’s done I can reflect back on it. So nah I don’t have a particular favorite.
As a black comic book writer, do you feel a personal responsibility to the black community to create content which not only entertains, but also uplifts and educates?
I think I have to be conscious of what I’m saying. So yeah that’s definitely in my mindset when I go in.
What does your creative schedule look like and how many hours a day do you create?
There is no particular time where I sit down and just go. It’s all day.
How do you best meet the challenge of juggling your day job (if applicable) and/or your family, against your writing career?
That’s difficult at times. You just do the best you can. Doing this creative stuff. Is challenging and can absorb a lot of your time. So I do my best.
Do you listen to music when you’re creating? If so, what type?
Not all the time but I do at times just to have background noise. It varies. One day Rock, One day Hip Hop. Trip Hop some R&B it depends on what I’m writing. Like now I’m listening to Mr. Lif lol.
What is the most difficult part of your writer process?
Trying my best not to edit myself or tone it down. If I’m hitting a topic then I need to really hit it and not try to sugar coat it. Ya know.
What do you do to recharge your creative batteries?   
Just relax, step away from all of it do something different for a while then you get that urge to get back to it.
What have you found to be the most challenging thing about breaking into the comic book industry, especially as a black creator?
If you mean like the big two or a major publisher. Then I really think those days are just done. I think the independent route is the way. Breaking in is simply creating an ip and putting it out. If you don’t have the funds to publish. You can run a crowdfunding campaign for it and if your property draws an audience your off and running.
How does your work resonate with the black community and what do you want your legacy within the black community to achieve?
I think it hits at least I hope so lol. Legacy wise. I just hope I leave a positive mark on the industry when it’s all said and done.
How and why is it important that black people are represented in this medium and how important is it that black creators work together to encourage, empower and educate the black community through their work?
I think it’s very important as black creators to be just as visible as our IP’s. As far as black creators working together. I think that’s important as well. There are a lot of obstacles and hurdles you have to go through and over. I have my own company but I’m also under the StreetTeam Studios umbrella which is the home of six more creators. I think people see that unity and it does resonate.
How long does it usually take you to complete work on a comic book piece/project?
It can be anywhere from a couple of months to a couple of years.
How many comics have you written?
About 18.
What are the names of some of the titles you’ve written?
“Something” “Prodigy” “PUNXofRAGE” “The Almighty StreetTeam”
What does artistic success in the comic book world look like to you?
I think you would like the work you do to be received well from your audience.
What upcoming project(s) are you working on, which you can share with the readers?
Almighty StreetTeam #2 is the next immediate project on deck. There are other things in the works. but that’s next.
Where can the readers continue to follow your career? Do you have a website or blog?
PUNXofRAGE.COM Instagram, PUNXofRAGE

Thank You John F. Allen for the interview. Shout out to StreetTeam Studios Crew!The PUNXofRAGE Radio Crew Strictly Underground and all the people that have supported me on this journey. Thank You

BLACK HISTORY MONTH SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW – SIDNEY HOLMES

How long have you been producing artwork professionally?
I’ve been creating art pieces ever since 2012.I joined this on-line group called, http://www.fineartamerica.com.
At what point in your life did you discover that you were destined to be an artist and how has your artwork resonated within the black community?
The year of 1995, senior year of High School I met a professor by the Name of John Wade who taught me to enhance my ability, once I grasped what he was saying it just became second nature. I taught myself how to spectrum and Color Theory est.
Do you create full time, or do you have another full-time job? What is your educational background?
I create part-Time because I work two full-time jobs but on my off days, I dedicate that time to my work. I’m a Certified Med Aid.
What medium(s) do you create with and is there a favorite?
Mediums, that I don’t have, but I would like to consider myself as Universal. I like challenges. Whether it is oils, Acrylics pencils or Watercolors I like to adapt.
What style(s) does your art take and what black cultural aesthetics do you incorporate?
Some People say that my style is different and Unique, for the most part I stand out on my own. I like all Cultures, not just African art.
Who are some of your biggest artistic influences?
My favorite Artists is Leonardo da Vinci, he helped shape the art world and saw it for what it was.
What inspires you to create and how important is it that your work encourage, empower and educate the black community?
I look at People, shapes and things I just picture what if? So I become curious and start to sketch and paint.
What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of being an artist and do you feel it is your responsibility to use your gifts and talents to inspire the black community and the world?
The end result of the Piece itself when it’s finished. Makes me feel good about my accomplishment.
Do you have a particular piece or pieces which stand out as your favorite(s)?
My favorites are Brazil, The Franchise Confrontation I have others just to name a few. Blues Man.
What does your creative schedule look like and how many hours a day do you create?
My schedule for painting is busy. I paint on my off days. How long it takes to finish a piece depends on the Size and how I am into the Piece.
How do you best meet the challenge of juggling your day job (if applicable) and/or your family, against your artistic career?
My Schedule is pretty busy for the most part I keep Calendar updates on the wall and iPhone.
Do you listen to music when you’re creating? If so, what type?
Music helps enhance my creativity smooth jazz preferably, takes to another dimension.
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
The most Difficult is keeping my Brushes clean because I have so many that I forget to clean them.
How many pieces have you created and how long does it usually take you to complete work on a piece/project?
So far, I’ve created over 250 Pieces I know the number isn’t much but it’s still growing.
What does artistic success look like to you?
The art industry tends to fluctuate back and forth but over the years I’ve been successful in my accomplishments. But the key is to keep painting and selling yourself.
How important is it that black creators work together to encourage, empower and educate the black community through their work?
We as blacks must learn that we must set an example for others and making it our priority.
What legacy do you want your work to represent and resonate in the black community and the world?
That I was self-taught and that I wanted to improve the quality of Life, help create new ideas.
What upcoming projects are you working on, which you can share with the readers?
I met this female guitarist ‘(Jackie Venson)” and some abstract work
Is your work exhibited in an art gallery? If so, where can the readers find it?
I haven’t presented my work in any Galleries yet because I’m working on a website
Where can the readers continue to follow your career? Do you have a website or blog?
http://www.fineartamerica.com look for Sidney Holmes or google.

BLACK HISTORY MONTH SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW – JD MASON

How do you best meet the challenge of juggling your day job (if applicable) and/or your family, against your writing career?
Commitment is everything. I don’t making writing an afterthought. It’s as important as showing up in any other aspect of my life and making the time to do it is probably a bit more important, because it’s easy to make excuses NOT to write. I set personal goals for myself. There are no magic formulas or answers. I make up my mind that I’m going to write a chapter a night, or five chapters a week, or 1,000 words a day or whatever, and I stick to that. If something gets in the way of me meeting that goal, well, that means I have to make it up and instead of writing 1,000 words that next day, I have to write 1,500 or 2,000. The excuse of not having time, really is just an excuse. We make time for what’s important to us.
What genre(s) do you write in, is there a favorite and which do you feel have had the most important impact on the black community? Traditionally, in mainstream media, blacks have been vastly marginalized in Speculative Fiction and fiction in general, how do you see that changing and what impact will your work have on making those changes?
I started out writing mainstream women’s fiction (relationship drama). Overtime, that changed and I started introducing more speculative aspects to my work. I don’t think my readers noticed, but if they did, they didn’t complain. I’m not writing in several genres; women’s fiction, mystery/suspense, romantic and dark fantasy. I do see a change in that more black writers are offering more stories in speculative fiction. And I think that one of the main reasons we’ve been marginalized in the industry is because the publishing industry has had no idea how to capitalize on it financially. They don’t believe that black folks read speculative fiction and consequently, have not spent a lot of time focusing on it. Not an excuse, but my opinion. The publishing industry isn’t big on taking risks. They tend to go with what they know works, and across the board, not just with speculative fiction, they’ve never really known how to market/publish black writers and/or relate to black readers. I like to think that, as a writer, I’m offering readers a chance to step outside of their comfort zones to try new things. Most of my audience does not read speculative fiction, but some have given my books a chance and the responses have been surprisingly nice.
Who are some of the major writing influences who most inspired you?
Walter Mosely is my literary hero because Walter rights what he wants to write. He’s never been one to stick with what works and dares to venture out into any all genres. I believe that’s the core of what a creative writer should be. Fearless, daring and willing to take risks.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
As with most writers, I think I’ve got to “feel” what I’m writing. I’ve been doing this for over 20 years and so, I think I’ve developed a good instinct on what “feels” right. My stories have to inspire whatever mood I’m trying to create in me, and if they do, then I’m confident they’ll inspire that same feeling in others. If I don’t feel it, then I have to let it go and try something else.
How many books have you written?
Over 25. I started with McMillan/St. Martin’s back in 2002 and have been writing ever since.
As a black author, do you feel a personal responsibility to the black community to create content which not only entertains, but also uplifts and educates?
I’ve always considered myself an entertainer first. Mainly because I see value in it. People read fiction to escape their reality and I’ve always believed that it’s important to provide that to my readers. I’ve always seen my writing as a way to celebrate experiences from the black perspective; love, hate, joy, pain, magic—and if someone happens to learn something from what I’ve written, all the better.
Is there any particular book that you’ve written that you’re most passionate about?
I wrote a series of books some years back called my Inherit the Crown series. The series actually tanked, but that had more to do with me than the story. Poor execution on my part and the publisher took a chance on it and lost big time, so they lost interest. I recently received the rights back to the stories and am about to re-release the series again. This is a huge risk for me because it could very well tank again. It was a terrible blow to me as a writer to have to suffer through that failure before, and I feel kind of crazy for putting myself on the line again, but I truly believe that the story is good and that it deserves one last chance to show me that. I may not sell a lot of copies or win over huge audiences, and I may be the only person in the world who loves this series, but honestly, that’s all that matters. If readers truly think it sucks, then I’m about to find out.
What does literary success look like to you?
It used to look like making the New York Times/USA Today bestseller lists, selling 50K copies of a book and making crazy money. When it looked like that, though, I was miserable. I found myself comparing my success to others and I was never good enough. Now, it looks like loving what I do. Writing what I love. Having some stranger reach out to me and say, “Hey, I loved that book”. It looks like being unafraid to fail and to try new things.
What legacy do you want your work to represent and resonate in the black community and the world?
I want people to look back at my body of work and say, “Wow! How the hell did we miss that?”. I want them to see that I believed that black people could live every type of life imaginable from billionaires to dragons to saviors and do it better than anyone could imagine.
What are some of the upcoming projects you’re working on?
I’m re-releasing my first dark fantasy series that I mentioned earlier; Of Gods & Shadows, Of Dark Creatures, and Of Doom & Light. I’m finishing up the fourth of my novellas in my black dragon series; Talos: The Forged in Fire Series, Book 2 (Eshe: The Fire Breathing Series, Book 1, Demir: The Forged in Fire Series, Book 1, and Oriana, The Fire Breathing Series, Book 2 are all available now). I have a total of 9 books planned for this series and I’ve fallen behind schedule. I’m working on revisions for a new novel “The Pearl of Dumpling” that I’m super excited about and hope to release later this year.
How can the readers learn more about your work and follow your career?
Website: https://www.jdmasonauthor.com Website:https://www.sistersanddragons.com/

DAY THREE: The Best is Yet to Come Blog Tour!

The Best is Yet to Come Blog Tour Train is moving FULL STEAM AHEAD! Check out today’s stop, guest blog post Sheila’s Guests & Reviews!

Click the book cover above for purchase details!

The Best is Yet to Come Blog Tour Train is moving FULL STEAM AHEAD! Check out today’s stop, blog post at Sheila’s Guests & Reviews!

DAY TWO: The Best is Yet to Come Blog Tour!

Click the book cover above for purchase details!

The Best is Yet to Come Blog Tour Train is moving FULL STEAM AHEAD! Check out today’s stop, author interview at Book Reviews by Jasmine!

Click here to read the blog post!

Codename: Knight Ranger Official Blog Tour Master Link List

Codename Knight Ranger Official Blog Tour Banner

KNIGHT RANGER POSTER ART 2My blog tour in support of Codename: Knight Ranger launches Monday, 2 November 2015! Check out Seventh Star’s announcement here. This blog post will serve as the master list, and I’ll add live links to the each post as soon as I know they’ve gone up.

It’s going to be an exciting week and I hope you come back frequently to check it out.  I want to thank all of the book bloggers who volunteered to be a part of the fun.

The complete blog tour is as listed:

Monday, 2 November 2015
On Cloud Eight and a Half (Guest Post)

Tuesday, 3 November 2015
Author Interview with Pete Welmerink

Wednesday, 4 November 2015
Armand Rosamilia Guest Post
RJ Sullivan Top 5 Post
Book In The Bag Author Interview/Guest Post

Thursday, 5 November 2015
Darkling Delights Author Interview

Friday, 6 November 2015
Beauty in Ruins: Science vs Superstition, Military vs Monsters? (Guest Blog)
Sheila’s Blog (Guest Blog)
Bee’s Knees Reviews

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Please check in regularly to see the list fill in, and leave a comment below as the tour progresses and to let me know what you think.

Thanks & remember TBIYTC!!!

Sign Up For The Codename: Knight Ranger Blog Tour (Urban Fantasy/Spy-Fi)

Tomorrow Comes Media invites you to return to the world John F. Allen introduced in The God Killers, in a week-long celebration of his latest urban fantasy release, the Urban Fantasy/Spy-Fi novella Codename: Knight Ranger! The tour runs from November 2, 2015 through November 8, 2015, and you can sign up by clicking HERE!

KNIGHT RANGER POSTER ART 2Synopsis: Captain Alexandre Cornelius “Neal” Du Bois is a US Army Ranger and decorated war hero. When his unit is ambushed by supernatural hostile forces while in Afghanistan, only Neal survives. When he wakes up in a secret government facility, Neal discovers that his whole life has changed forever.

A shadowy government agent named Elijah Bishop arranges for Neal’s brain to be transplanted, without his permission, into a bio-engineered body capable of amazing feats. Armed with advanced body armor and weaponry, he becomes the epitome of the Ultra Soldier.

To protect his family and those closest to him, he must let the world and everyone he loves believe he is dead. With assistance from Dr. Avery Clarkson–the scientist responsible for his new body–Neal reluctantly utilizes his superhuman abilities to work for Bishop and his organization called G.E.N.E.S.I.S. (Global Espionage Network of Elite Supernatural Intelligence and Surveillance), in order to track down those responsible for the slaughter of his unit and keep the world safe from supernatural terrorist forces.

JohnAllenAuthorPhoto_NewAbout the Author: John F. Allen is an American writer born in Indianapolis, IN. He is a member of the Speculative Fiction Guild and the Indiana Writers Center. He began writing stories as early as the second grade and pursued all forms of writing at some point, throughout his career. John studied Liberal Arts at IUPUI with a focus in Creative Writing, received an honorable discharge from the United States Air Force and is a current member of the American Legion. John’s debut novel, The God Killers was published in 2013 by Seventh Star Press. John currently resides in Indianapolis, Indiana with his wife and son.