0 comments on “#BlackHistoryMonth Treat: How Playwright Lorraine Hansberry Inspired My Novel, Love’s Troubadours”

#BlackHistoryMonth Treat: How Playwright Lorraine Hansberry Inspired My Novel, Love’s Troubadours

LT-ALandLorraineHansberry

My debut novel, Love’s Troubadours was inspired by a speech given by activist and playwright Lorraine Hansberry in February 1964. She spoke to a Harlem-based group of aspiring young, gifted, and African American writers about the power to love in America. In her remarks, Hansberry stated,

“O, the things that we have learned in this unkind house that we have to tell the world about! Despair? Did someone say despair was a question in the world? Well then, listen to the sons of those who have known little else. If you wish to know the resiliency of this thing you would so quickly resign to mythhood, this thing called the human spirit … Life? Ask those who have tasted of it in pieces rationed out by enemies. Love? Ah, ask the troubadours who have come from those who have loved when all reason pointed to the uselessness and foolhardiness of love. Perhaps we shall be the teachers when it is done. Out of the depths of pain we have thought to be our sole heritage in this world-O, we know about love!”

She referred to African Americans as troubadours, the descendents of people who used the power of love to live through and overcome despair and insurmountable odds. She went on to urge the audience to seek wisdom from African Americans because of their capacity to love.

I first read about Hansberry’s speech in Salvation by bell hooks in 2001. Salvation discusses how African Americans have used the power of love to transform their lives and communities. hooks’ writings caused me to question how I could use my gifts as an artist and writer to promote love as a healing tool in the lives of individuals and communities in America. I answered that question by writing Love’s Troubadours, a novel that tells the story of Karma Francois, a 30-something museum curator and yoga teacher who loses her job, discovers family secrets after a loved one dies, and begins a healing journey as she relocates from New York City to Washington, DC. Learn more about her in the video below.

Karma learns many life lessons as she comes face-to-face with the choices she has made in her life and relationships. Watch the video below and learn about some of them.

Throughout her journey, she uses journaling, meditation, mindfulness, poetry, spirituality, therapy, and yoga to heal and love herself. Hansberry’s wisdom on mindful living inspired the way I wrote about Karma’s healing journey:

 “I wish to live because life has within it that which is good, that which is beautiful, and that which is love. Therefore, since I have known all of these things, I have found them to be reason enough and–I wish to live. Moreover, because this is so, I wish others to live for generations and generations and generations and generations.”

Watch the video below and learn how Karma’s healing journey transformed her idea of love in her life.

After reading Hansberry’s book, To Be Young, Gifted and Black, I made a conscious decision to use my novel’s characters to celebrate the beauty and diversity of people of African descent. Watch the video below and learn about the diverse characters.

 

Listen to a chapter excerpt from Love’s Troubadours that illustrates the diversity of African Americans when Karma walks into Mocha Hut, a coffee and tea café in her U Street neighborhood, and eavesdrops on a conversation.

 

0 comments on “Happy #CreativityThursday: Writing E-Books”

Happy #CreativityThursday: Writing E-Books

Ananda writing in her journal at Love Café on U Street in DC in 2004
Ananda writing in her journal at Love Café on U Street in DC in 2004

Happy #CreativityThursday!

I’ve been writing books since 1992. I started with poetry chapbooks which opened the door to women’s creativity workbooks. All of this writing laid the foundation for blogging which began 10 years ago and the publication of my first novel, Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One in 2007 and my two memoirs, That Which Awakens Me in 2009 and Digital Sisterhood in 2013.

Photo Credit: http://ebookreadersoftware.wordpress.com/tag/publish-ebooks/
Photo Credit: http://ebookreadersoftware.wordpress.com/tag/publish-ebooks/

For the next six months, I have decided to write and publish a series of e-books. Today, I found a great article about publishing e-books on my digital sister and fellow author/blogger, Shonell Bacon’s LinkedIn page. It gave me some great tips for publishing my e-books. Click here to read it.

Do you have any plans to write an e-book? If yes, what resources are you using to write it?

What creative projects are you working on this spring and summer?

0 comments on “Happy Creativity Thursday – Honoring The Creative Legacy of Lorraine Hansberry”

Happy Creativity Thursday – Honoring The Creative Legacy of Lorraine Hansberry

Lorraine Hansberry - Photo Credit: Associated Press -
Lorraine Hansberry – Photo Credit: Associated Press –

Happy Creativity Thursday!

Today, I am thinking about one of my creative sheroes, Lorraine Hansberry, a Chicago born and bred activist, writer, and playwright. Hansberry is best known for her 1959 Broadway play, “A Raisin in the Sun.”

be-young-gifted-black-lorraine-hansberry-paperback-cover-art

My first taste of her literary genius occurred while reading her play, “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black.” I adopted her as a creative shero and inspiration for my first novel, Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One, after reading bell hooks’ Salvation: Black People and Love which contains many references to Hansberry’s work. Click here to read how she inspired my novel.

Tracy Heather Strain - Photo Credit: www.thefilmposse.com
Tracy Heather Strain – Photo Credit: http://www.thefilmposse.com
Photo Credit: www.vitaminw.co
Photo Credit: http://www.vitaminw.co

Over the years, her words have been medicine for my creative soul:

…life has within it that which is good, that which is beautiful and that which is love. Therefore, since I have known all of these things, I have found them to be reason enough and—I wish to live. Moreover, because this is so, I wish others to live for generations and generations and generations.”

Her wisdom on life has inspired me to live fully. That’s why I was excited to financially support the Lorraine Hansberry Documentary Project fundraiser (ends on July 19)sponsored by Peabody Award-winning documentary filmmaker Tracy Heather Strain and VITAMIN W. Since 2004, Strain has been working to make the Hansberry documentary a reality. Strain’s film will cover Hansberry’s life on the South Side of Chicago in the 1930s, her life in Greenwich Village in the 1950s, and her final days of living with pancreatic cancer in the 1960s. Click here to watch a short video about the project. Please consider supporting the Lorraine Hansberry Documentary Project fundraiser by July 19. Click here to make a donation. Any amount helps. I gave $10.

Photo Credit: www.fem2pt0.com
Photo Credit: http://www.fem2pt0.com

Many thanks to Fem 2.0 for sharing information about the fundraiser on its web site!

0 comments on “Happy Yoga Monday! 4/29”

Happy Yoga Monday! 4/29

Happy Yoga Monday!

I love writing and reading stories about characters who practice yoga. One of my favorite yoga-inspired fiction books is Yoga Mamas by Katherine Stewart.

Yoga Mamas, one of my favorite yoga fiction books
Yoga Mamas, one of my favorite yoga fiction books

Yoga Mamas is a great chick-lit book to read during the spring or summer seasons. It tells the story of four pregnant women who take an exclusive prenatal yoga class at a Soho yoga studio in New York City. The main character Laura is the book’s narrator. When the book begins, it seems like the only things Laura has in common with her three chic, well-to-do, Prada-wearing mothers-to-be is her pregnant belly and a yoga mat. They do lunch (like the Sexy and the City gals) and become fast friends as they share stories about their lives and partners. You’ll travel with them through their NYC and Long Island adventures. You’ll also witness the unravelling of a juicy secret that gives birth to scandal (it’s a good one….). So pick up the book and read it!

What are your favorite yoga-inspired fiction books?

Photo Credit: http://dccy.org/dc-yoga-week
Photo Credit: http://dccy.org/dc-yoga-week

I love the DC Yoga community. Why? They come together each year to offer yoga lovers an opportunity to practice free and $5 yoga classes during DC Yoga Week. This year, over 40 yoga studios are participating in DC Yoga Week which will be held on April 29 through May 5. The week closes on May 5 with Yoga on the Mall at the Constitution Gardens by the Vietnam War Memorial.  The event will begin at 11:00 a.m. and end at 1:00 p.m. Three of my favorite studios, Embrace Yoga, Flow Yoga Center, and Tranquil Space are participating in the week-long celebration. Smith Center for Healing and the Arts is a partner for the event (FYI – I work at Smith Center as an artist-in-residence). Click here to learn more about the events.

If you are in DC, are you planning to participate in DC Yoga Week?

Does your city celebrate a Yoga Week?

OM #YogaMonday OM!

yogacalmPS: Need yoga inspiration? Check out my yoga Pinterest board.

If you would like to read about my yoga journey, check out my memoir That Which Awakens Me on Amazon.com. It is available on Kindle

My debut novel Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One features a main character who works as a yoga teacher in Washington, D.C. Click here to visit the Love’s Troubadours’ Pinterest board which contains some great information about the novel. You can purchase the book on Amazon.com.

0 comments on “Happy Creativity Thursday – 3/14”

Happy Creativity Thursday – 3/14

That Which Awakens Me: Kreative Grooviness by Ananda Leeke
That Which Awakens Me: Kreative Grooviness by Ananda Leeke

Happy Creativity Thursday!

Every person is born with a spark of creativity that can awaken them to an amazing life. Throughout my life’s journey, I have witnessed my spark of creativity expand through the nurturing support of other artists. Today, I am remembering Tasko Bey, an amazing master artist I met while working as an artist-in-residence for Smith Center for Healing and the Arts at Howard University Hospital. When I met Tasko, he was a patient living with cancer and a graduate student in Howard University’s Master of Fine Arts program. Prior to attending Howard, his work was exhibited at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Our first expressive arts sessions turned into a mini workshop where he served as a teacher and coach. He even gave me homework. For the next two years, he utilized our sessions as teaching moments. In 2005, he urged me to pick up a pencil and draw and use a paint brush to paint my first series of paintings. He showed me how to tap into my intuition for creative guidance and encouraged me to experiment with watercolor, gouache, and acrylic painting.

Photo Credit: http://columbus.utrechtblog.com/2012/03/
Photo Credit: http://columbus.utrechtblog.com/2012/03/

I fell in love with acrylic paints. As a result, I created a series of paintings that I later used to illustrate my book covers for Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One and That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetical Memoir of Self-Discovery. One of my favorite paintings from this series is “That Which Awakens Me: Kreative Grooviness.” See photo above. It hangs in my sunny yellow kitchen and reminds me of Tasko and his passionate love of art. Click here to watch a video about the painting (starts with an introduction to another painting and some of my collages) and my art studio. Enjoy!

Do you draw or paint?

Who or what inspired you to begin drawing or painting?

What do you like to draw or paint?

0 comments on “Happy Creativity Thursday – 3/7”

Happy Creativity Thursday – 3/7

Ananda at Walter Reed
Ananda at Walter Reed
Artwork at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center - 4th Floor
Artwork at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center – 4th Floor

Happy Creativity Thursday!

Today, I am celebrating the amazing wounded warriors, military families, and hospital staff I get to work with as an artist-in-residence for Smith Center for Healing and the Arts each week at Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

Photo Credit: Leigh Mosley - www.leighmosley.com
Photo Credit: Leigh Mosley – http://www.leighmosley.com

I’ve been working as a Smith Center artist since 2002. My work at Walter Reed began in 2010. Since then, I have grown to deeply appreciate the many sacrifices our military women, men, and families make on behalf of the United States of America. I have also been able to witness the fantastic creative expressions of military women, men, and their families. What a blessing!

Art supplies
Art supplies
Wounded warrior's water color painting
Wounded warrior’s water color painting

wr-artwork3

Click here to see photos from my Walter Reed experiences. Enjoy!

When I am not working at Walter Reed, I am always on the look out for creative inspiration. I find it in books, films, magazines, music, social media (Pinterest), web sites, and yoga. This month, I am getting a lot of inspiration from Poets & Writers magazine.

March 2013 issue of Poets & Writers
March 2013 issue of Poets & Writers

What are your sources of creative inspiration?

PS: If you would like to read about my creative journey, check out my memoir That Which Awakens Me on Amazon.com. It is available on Kindle.

My debut novel Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One features a main character who works as a museum curator and art consultant in Washington, D.C. Click here to visit the Love’s Troubadours’ Pinterest board which contains some great information about the novel. You can purchase it on Amazon.com.

0 comments on “Web Site Relaunch of My Novel, Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One”

Web Site Relaunch of My Novel, Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One

Love's Troubadours - Karma: Book One
Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One

Happy Monday,

Five years ago I launched my web site for my debut novel, Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (2007). Last year, I realized the site needed a makeover. Click here to check out the new look (very simple compared to the old site). Let me know what you think. And be sure to read the book summary below.

Book Summary:

Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One tells the story of Karma Francois, a thirtysomething Oakland-born BoHo B.A.P. (Bohemian Black American Princess) with Louisiana roots and urban debutante flair. The novel begins with Karma’s life in an uproar. Her relationships and the museum curator career that she struggled to form in New York City have crumbled, leaving no viable options to rebuild. Relocating to Washington, DC, Karma  struggles with denial, depression, and debt. A lack of full-time employment opportunities forces her to craft a gypsy existence as a Jill of Many Trades:
yoga teacher, art consultant, and freelance curator at Howard University Gallery
of Art. Unable and unwilling to appreciate these jobs as gifts, she wallows in a
pool of lost identity-and doesn’t see a way to keep from drowning. When she looks in the mirror, Karma  sees a woman whose choices have dishonored her true character. Now, for the first time in her life, Karma must learn to see herself for who she really
is. To purchase a copy on Amazon.com, click here.

Enjoy!

Ananda

PS: Watch the short videos from my 2007 book party.

0 comments on “Ananda’s #BlissDom12 Conference Pinterest Treats for BlissDom Attendees: Fierce Living From Your Creative Heart”

Ananda’s #BlissDom12 Conference Pinterest Treats for BlissDom Attendees: Fierce Living From Your Creative Heart

Ananda's 2012 Creative Heart Mantra Statement

The #BlissDom12 Conference is two days away.  I AM SO EXCITED!!! It’s my first BlissDom experience!  I am gonna have big fun meeting new people, seeing old blogging friends, networking with brands, hanging out at the great events, listening to the keynote speakers, and learning a lot about video and photography from some amazing speakers.  I am also facilitating a workshop session on “Fierce Living from Your Creative Heart” on February 24 from 2:30 pm to 4:00 pm.

Happy to be going to BLISSDOM
In preparation for the session, I created a Pinterest board with 40 different pins that include photos, images, videos, and links to creative inspiration and information that I hope will encourage my workshop attendees to open their hearts and embrace fierce living.  Each pin includes a question that invites reflection and comments.  To learn more about what’s on my #BlissDom12 Fierce Living from Your Creative Heart Pinterest Board, click here to listen to my Cinchcast audio blog.  Feel free to check out my board and leave a comment.  If you are unable to attend my session and/or #BlissDom12, you can still use my Pinterest board as a source of inspiration in your creative life Enjoy!
Love's Troubadours by Ananda Leeke

PS: I will be signing copies of my novel, Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One on February 25 at 11:00 am at the Barnes & Nobles booth at BlissDom. If you are in Nashville, drop by.  Click here to purchase the book on Amazon.com.

1 comment on “Ananda’s June 12th book reading at Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library”

Ananda’s June 12th book reading at Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library

My June 12th book reading at Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library in DC was a lot of fun. I discussed my new book That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery (November 2009 – Amazon.com) and debut novel Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (August 2007 – Amazon.com). The audience was fantastic. They had some great comments and questions! Click here to see my Flickr photos from the book reading: http://www.flickr.com/photos/anandaleeke/sets/72157624260508400.

My stylist Sharon Malachi a/k/a Butterfly LP recorded a video of me after the event. It gives highlights from my Summer in the City weekend adventures. See below.

Many thanks to the Washingtonia Division staff of Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library staff for helping me organize a great event!

PS: I made an infomercial about my Summer in the City events the night before my book reading and posted it on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.  Check it out.  Hope you will join me at some of the events.  My next book reading is July 10 from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm at Flow Yoga Center (click on the link to register for the event at Flow)  in DC. Click here to learn more:  http://anandaleekejulybookreading.eventbrite.com.

2 comments on “My promotion tips for authors who are planning book talks and signings”

My promotion tips for authors who are planning book talks and signings

Here are some of my promotion tips for authors who are planning book talks and signings. If you have tips, please share them. Thank you in advance!

1) If you use Facebook and LinkedIn, create an event for your book talk and signing. Post it on your personal profile, book page, and/or Fan page. Also post it on any group pages that serve as your audience. Make sure you invite all of your friends to the event. Ask them to share the event on their pages. They can be your ambassadors of goodwill and PR!

For LinkedIn Users: Once you post your event, you can share it with members of groups you belong to. That helps to promote your event to a wider audience.

2) Create and send an Eventbrite invitation to your email list on Yahoo, Gmail, or AOL. I used Eventbrite a few days ago and plan to use it again for my July and September events. Here is my invite: http://anandaleekebookreading.eventbrite.com.

3) Hold a Twitter chat (haven’t done this one yet, but have watched some friends do it) or UStream.tv live chat before the event (have used this before; it gives folks a chance to see you and ask questions).

4) Talk about your event on Twitter and get a group of your followers to retweet your event notices. Let your peeps help you. They love it. It feels good to be able to ask for help and then show appreciation.

5) Post your event on your blog and social networking sites where you have blogs. Ask folks to spread the word.

6) Ask your fellow bloggers to post notices about your event and book on their sites. You may need to swap some guest posts or event promotions, but it is worth it. Sometimes folks post your events without a request. That’s a true blessing too. It happened to me recently when the Hell in a Hand Bag blog posted about my event. Many thanks to blogger extraordinaire  Original Najeema for the post and tweets on Twitter.

7) Consider doing audio blogs with excerpts from your book and posting them on your web site, blog, and social networking sites. You can use www.cinchcast.com or www.utterli.com. I use Cinchcast a lot these days. Check my page out: www.cinchcast.com/anandaleeke.

8) Create a short video commercial about your book events and post it on YouTube (used for my book release in November 2009 – did a 7 day countdown in December 2009), Vimeo, or Blip.tv. You can use your computer’s web cam, cell phone camera, digital camera, or a flip camera. Share a summary about the book and read an excerpt. Post the video on your web site, blog, and social media sites. Ask your friends to share it with their friends as posts on Twitter, Facebook, and other sites.

9) Connect your book and event to a national observance or local event. I tie a lot of my book events to national observances. For example, I am having a book reading during June which is Black Music Month. My novel Love’s Troubadours and memoir That Which Awakens Me discuss Black music. So I have been tweeting about the music in both books this week. I also mention my book web sites and book reading dates. In addition, my book reading is happening during DC Digital Week. So I am hosting a free yoga class to support the Week. During my class I will read a short excerpt from my memoir because it is yoga-inspired. I will also share that my novel is yoga-inspired too. I am teaching the yoga class in a park that I discuss in my book. So I will mention that too. My memoir includes insights about my social media journey. So that will be included too.

10) Share what you learn from the book promotion process with others. It helps you establish social capital and participate in the gift economy author Tara Hunt discusses in her book The Whuffie Factor (one of my favorite books). When we give and share, we will be blessed. That’s the universal law of give and take!