Thursday, November 25, 2010
I'll autograph all three copies of my books with a message of the winner's choice and gift box the books in an attractive package for Holiday giving.
Here's what the lucky winner will recieve in the gift box:
In the aftermath of a horrible tragedy, Isis the long-lost daughter of Osiris, has committed a heinous crime. Because she didn't receive guidance from her father, the elder gods show mercy on the young goddess by stripping her of her powers and imprisoning her on an uncharted island in the South Pacific.
Osiris and Isis reunite with his long-lost child to begin the difficult process of establishing a familial relationship. Hoping to guide Isis towards the greater destiny she's supposed to fulfill, her parents begin teaching her the ways of the gods. However, Seth's herald E'steem lurks in the shadows offering the young goddess freedom for a price. Caught in the middle of a never-ending war between the gods, Isis must choose to either return to the troubled world she knows all too well, or take a journey down an unknown path where faith is her only guide.
The Cassandra Cookbook
Cassandra Lee’s lifelong dream is to take over the Downtown Brooklyn bakery with her name on it when her parents retired. Her dream turns into a nightmare near the eve of her wedding when she learns corporate giant ITC Foods has plans for the store and her low down down low fiancé Gerald is caught in the arms of another man.
Cassandra perseveres, acting as her parents’ agent working with ITC rep Simon James to complete the deal. As their professional relationship gets personal, Simon reveals a secret that devastates Cassandra. Sending Cassandra over the edge, Simon must come up with a plan to heal her broken heart and make her dreams come true.
All About Marilyn
Marilyn Marie is desperate to break away from Nikki Desmond, the rich spoiled rotten character she played on the hit 1990's teen sitcom All About Nikki. Scraping by for years on work in two-bit made-for-video productions and handouts from friends, the 34-year-old actress anxiously waits for the big break that will jump start her stalled career. Tragically it comes on the set of the movie SELL OUT when she's attacked by Hollywood's current it girl Tabatha Strong.
While recovering in the hospital, Marilyn prepares for the greatest role of her life: Being herself. However, the ghost of Nikki Desmond continues to haunt her as she travels to New York City with a new face and a new lease on life. Eager to move on, Marilyn realizes she must reconcile with her troubled television past if she wants to have a future in the real world.
This is a rare opportunity for a lucky reader to get a complete set of titles from me personalized with my autograph and a personalized message. Surprise a friend or loved one with a very unique gift from an obscure, self-published author that may become a rare collector's item one day. Hey, it's better than giving someone a sweater! Each copy will be brand new, unread and crisp as it came off the printing press. Each of these books retail from $12.95-$14.95 at online retailers unsingned. You can get the whole set in this auction for a song!
Shipping will be $4.00 for the set. I only accept payments via PayPal and payment is due three days after the end of the auction. Good luck!
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Shawn’s going to be on the radio.
SHAWN’S GOING TO BE ON THE RADIO!
I'm hoping everyone who reads my blogs tunes in!
Saturday, February 27, 2010
I was gonna post the APOOO Book Club review of All About Marilyn, but I want to wait for that review to be posted on their site. So I'm posting this article about Marilyn's cover art instead.
All About Cover Art
(WARNING! LOTS OF PICS!)
Stop the presses! There’s a Nekkid lady on the cover o’ Shawn’s new book! Cover your eyes! Think of the children! THINK OF THE CHILDREN!
I know that's the reaction of some to the All About Marilyn cover. However, there’s nothing sexual or titillating about the art on this cover. These pictures relate directly to the story in the book.
The concept for the All About Marilyn cover is an art nude leaning towards an abstract style. The bright red lips are supposed to draw people towards Marilyn’s face where the story of her picture is told. I deliberately drew both pictures with a minimal lines so readers would only be drawn to those red lips.
I got the inspiration for Marilyn’s cover reading the newspaper back in April 2008. Art photos of Carla Bruni (You'll have to Google Carla's pic cause I'm THINKING OF THE CHILDREN!) were featured in a New York Daily News article. The nude picture was modified with awkward black censor bars over her breasts and her hands which covered her genitals. Those censor bars and the sensationalized copy kept us from seeing the artist’s orignal vision; taking our eyes away from the model’s face, the composition of her body language, and the real story in the picture.
By censoring picture, the photographers’ orignal vision became perverted. The black bars distorted the details in the photograph’s story, forcing the viewer to come up with an incorrect image of what they saw in the facial expression and the composition of her figure. And when it came to Americans, a simple art nude becomes sexualized and with the simple addition of a pair of black bars and a sensational cover story.
Understanding how some Americans sexualize art that features nudity, I decided the censor bars would be an integral part of telling Marilyn’s story. Along with the half-face, they keep the picture of who is Marilyn Marie incomplete. This unfinished image of minimal lines and red censor bars draw the viewer’s eyes to the red lips of her face which tell the story of a strong, confident black woman who is being kept from revealing the truth about herself to everyone.
Developing this concept took multiple drawings and many, many, many tries to get right. Art is a very instinctive process; it has to “feel” right. It took a year to finally created something I felt comfortable presenting. The cover concept for this “Abstract Sista” front and back are a combination of pencil Ink, colored pencil, acrylic paint, a laser printer, and Photoshop.
This was the first design I came up with for the All About Marilyn cover. Don’t have a color jpeg, (old computer died) but it was hand-drawn, and handpainted. Featured in the back matter for The Cassandra Cookbook on page 264, I actually considered using this art before all the negative reviews about the cover for The Cassandra Cookbook made me rethink it. Looking at it now, great googly moogly it looks like crap. Her entire body looks like rubber and her right foot looks broken.
Cover concept #2 was still very rough. Sketched up some new art with cleaner lines. I used Microsoft’s ancient Picture it! software to clean up the censor bars and the filmstrip concept. I went for a full abstract concept on this, wanting to focus only on line, composition and form so the reader’s eyes would be drawn only to the red lips on the white page. In this concept, decided to give the back cover the abstract theme, making it All About Marilyn; her story would be between the pages of the book.
This art was to be final, (again) but after the Harlem Book Fair of 2009 I seriously rethought Marilyn’s cover concept. I was really getting heat about my interpretation of Cassandra Lee on the cover of The Cassandra Cookbook and I didn’t want Marilyn’s story dragged down into that light-skinned/dark-skinned nonsense, or worse some people implying that the character on the cover was white. I didn’t want those narrow minds misinterpreting my art and perverting it the way they did the Bruni photo.
Worse, I didn’t want to be branded a sell-out when my intention was to make the cover art about lines, composition, and form. These fundamentals of art are often hard to see when color is added to a drawing; this is why many art photographers prefer to shoot their models in black and white. With those two colors and the shades of gray, we get a better understanding of the story the photographer is trying to tell through the lines of the body and the body language of the model. And to my chagrin, those blasted censor bars didn’t line up front and back. So it was back to the drawing board. again. This time I was for a looking for a compromise that would allow me to maintain my original concept and satisfy the reader.
Cover Concept #3 I took this design through five Lulu test copies up to the final finished product. Went with high key style on the abstract art so the colors wouldn't distract from the my original concept.
With the help of Adobe Photoshop Elements Software, the red censor bars line up on the front and the back of the cover. From head to toes, Marilyn is the same size front to back. I smoothed out the rough spots in the art (dust, specks, an unevenness of the hair from front to back), and brightened things up (I had a literal headache trying to denote the difference between the CMYK red that prints on POD presses and RGB red that’s on every computer monitor)
I made sure the white letters could be more readable on the back, and I placed the notation “A Screenplay beneath Marilyn’s breast bar because I felt it was more discrete than the awkward placement on the bottom bar with my name in the second concept. I took a risk and added color to Marilyn’s skin tone hoping I could maintain the integrity of the message of the art. Hopefully, the red lips on the face will be the first thing people look at.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Category: Writing and Poetry
We are Pouring Tea with The Cassandra Cookbook Author Shawn James and we are adding some lemon in this water for taste to get our members the answers they have been waiting for.
Yes, we have the juicy details right here on My Space just for our reader’s and fan’s. We ask this Author a lot of questions, by opening the doorway to this Author’s world we get your questions answered, so please join us! Sit down and pour yourself a cup of tea while TBGB’s Book Club welcomes you into the doorway of Mr. Shawn James.
TBGB: Tell us about Shawn James the Writer.
SJ: Shawn James is an easy going guy, who spends most of his time writing stories, novels and screenplays. He works seven hours a day, six days a week, with breaks scheduled in between; for errands, meals and sleep. When he has a day job, he works six hours a day, six days a week, after work on his writing. His mission over the past fifteen years is to create positive stories about the experiences of African-Americans; that will inspire readers to take action towards changing their lives for the better.
TBGB: Now, Tell us about Mr. James the Author.
SJ: Shawn James the author is a hardworking businessman; whom works tenaciously towards promoting his self- published books about the positive experiences of African-Americans. He networks with book clubs, book stores, bloggers and anyone who will read or buy his work.
TBGB: How did you become a Fiction Novelist?
SJ: I have been writing stories since I was nine years old. I started out wanting to copy the art in my brother's comic books. But I couldn't draw so well so I decided to use words and pictures. Professionally, I've been writing novels since I graduated college in 1994. It was a great way to relax.
TBGB: How has becoming a writer changed you if any in your life today?
SJ: I spend a lot more time in front of a computer than I should.
TBGB: What has inspired you to write The Cassandra Cookbook?
SJ: I wanted to create a positive story about the experiences of African-Americans in the workplace.
TBGB: What about the novel did you want the reader to identify with?
SJ: I want the reader to identify with the experiences the characters have in the story. It's easy for many of us to be like Simon and get so caught up with facts, figures, policies and procedures that we forget about the valuable people that give a company its true worth. It's also easy to be like Cassandra and be so wrapped up in their works that they lose their identity and sense of self worth that they sell all their talents and skills short.
TBGB: Is there anything about writing this book you didn't like?
SJ: I really enjoyed writing this book. In fact it was so much fun working on this book that I lost 30 pounds!
TBGB: Our member's had some interesting questions about the cover of this book, who is the Artist? And what made you decide on a drawing for the cover?
SJ: I'm the artist who drew the cover. Before I write, I sketch out what my characters look like so I can have a point of reference when I'm writing their descriptions. Since I couldn't afford a cover artist, I thought that sketch would best tell the story of the Cassandra cookbook.
TBGB: I believe the character on the cover is holding a bouquet of flowers and appear to be of masculine form and the book is about something totally different did you find it difficult to come up with a cover theme to match your story line?
SJ: Errr.... That's not a bouquet of flowers. That's supposed to be a chocolate muffin with a candle in it, and that masculine form is Ms. Cassandra Lee. From what you're telling me, I really stink as an artist. Really, really stink as an artist. I have got to get a pro for that next cover.
TBGB: Our bag.
TBGB: (Laughing our butts off.)
TBGB: I bet you get alot of questions concerning the cover of this book does any one question stick out the most as silly or ridiculous or is all of the questions about the same?
SJ: I don't get that many questions about the cover, because people are so excited about the plot and storyline that they pay very little attention to the cover. But I'm gonna have to revisit that cover and replace it one day.
TBGB: We really enjoyed reading this novel; please tell us about why you decided to put so many twist and turns in this storyline?
SJ: The twists and turns in the story came about organically. Some of them like the scandals and corporate backstabbing were inspired by things I saw transpire on many of the jobs I had in real life.
TBGB: This novel seems to have some bearings on today's economic situations how does this now play in advertising your book?
SJ: I wanted to detail the elements of success in the business world. While I was doing research on numerous corporations I quickly learned that many of them started as simple mom-and pop operations or small one-person businesses. Many were started during economic downturns. As I learned the secret ingredients these companies used to expand themselves, I began developing a promotional campaign detailing Cassandra's recipe for success. In Cassandra's story are tips and advice the reader can use to advance their own career.
TBGB: Wow, this IS awesome!
TBGB: How does your family and friends support you with your writing?
SJ: My family supports me 100% In fact; my brother and sister helped me with my table at the Harlem Book Fair this year. Monroe College published an article about my books in their Alumni newsletter.
TBGB: Please see further details relating on this newsletter by visiting Monroe College website to see if you can request an archive issue or back copy relating to Mr. James.
TBGB: Now, some of our member's want to know are you single?
SJ: I'm single and I'm available.
TBGB: Now I will pass this on to the 3 members’ who wanted to know. Smile.
TBGB: Where do you promote yourself the most in book stores or through book clubs?
SJ: I do most of my promotional work online. This is how I've contacted many of the Black Book Clubs and many Black Book Stores. I've also done some networking with book vendors on the street, but the web is the primary way I promote my work.
TBGB: Do you believe Authors have to promote themselves or do you believe the publishing company should do it?
SJ: Authors have to promote their own books; it’s the only way the public is going to know about them. At the publishing house, the advertising budget is small and the few promotional dollars are spent on the Best-Selling Authors. Everyone else, especially first time authors have to hustle to get the word out about their books.
TBGB: How is writing books for publishing companies different then musicians singing songs for record companies?
SJ: As far as I know in book publishing an author signs a contract giving the publisher permission to print the book in North America. They're paid an advance on the first print run of 5000-7000 copies. If those sell well, the author begins earning royalties of ten percent of the list price on sold copies. I don't really know how it works in the music industry but I think the songwriter gets paid royalties on songs they write and publish. This is why registering copyright is so important, as it on public record who owns the song.
TBGB: Wow, Readers please pay attention on how an Author gets paid. Book Clubs especially. We can help by advertising the feature Book-of-the-Month on our websites.
TBGB: If you were to give advice to a struggling Author what would you say?
SJ: Hang in there this is going to be a rough ride. Grow a very, very thick skin. Get used to hearing “No” more than “Yes”. Get used to hearing “No” than your “Own Name”. Listen to criticism, because it can only help your writing get better. Don't quit your day job! and save money. Save lots and lots of money.
TBGB: What are some of the new projects you are working on and what are some of the projects you have already out?
SJ: My first novel, Isis is available at online bookstores right now. It's an action packed fantasy story that utilizes Egyptian mythology and African-American history to tell the story of Isis, the daughter of the Egyptian god Osiris who after a horrible tragedy has to reconcile with her family.
In addition to Isis, I have two unpublished projects I'm planning on releasing.
All About Marilyn is an original screenplay about a typecast 1990's teen star that at the age of 34 must reinvent her so she can move forward in her personal and professional life. I was reading about the numerous struggles black actresses like Jurnee Smollett to Halle Berry have to face in trying to find work.
My next novel, The Temptation of John Haynes is a Christian, fantasy novel about a man whose soul Lucifer seeks to take by making him a CEO of a major corporation. If the beautiful she-demon he places there as John's assistant can get him to compromise his personal and spiritual beliefs he'll make her a member of his elite cadre of demons.
Both of these projects are on hold until I find another full-time job. I'm hoping I can find some work soon because I really want to share these stories with readers.
TBGB: Yeah and we would like to really read them!
TBGB: How do you feel about book clubs swapping online for books?
SJ: Not a fan of it. It takes royalties away from authors.
TBGB: I know a few of our member’s were guilty of doing this from websites like Paperbackswap.com, etc. and they are STRONGLY advised not to do so, it violates our membership rules. We ARE here to support our Authors. Our President is very strict on this rule. (To any Authors who have dealt with this from our book club please bring to the Club President attention.) We know none of us is perfect but MISTAKES can be corrected to build a stronger bond with our supporting Authors.
TBGB: Do you think book clubs help Authors with sales and promoting?
SJ: Definitely. If it wasn't for book clubs like TB&GB no one would know about my books. Without Black Book Clubs there'd be no way for most authors to get the word out about our books.
TBGB: Well, thank you Mr. James for the compliment.
TBGB: What can we do to improve the relationship between Authors and Book Club?
SJ: You guys are great, some of the best communication, and support. Everyone is friendly courteous and professional. Other book clubs could learn a thing or two from you!
TBGB: Well, thank you again our Club President will appreciate that. We will pass it on to all our members.
TBGB: Is there anything you would like your fans to know?
SJ: In addition to writing novels, I'm writing screenplays. I've entered some screenplay contests, and I'm working developing scripts for a TV series.
TBGB: Well, we wish you all the luck on that we really do.
TBGB: Is there anything you could tell us exclusively?
SJ: Cassandra Lee's story is actually inspired by the story of the real life Sara Lee Bakery, which the owner named after his daughter. He later sold the bakery and the name went on to become an international brand that manufactures everything from cheesecake to handbags!
TBGB: Wow that is good to know.
TBGB: If you could change one thing about the book we just read what would it be and why? Or are you completely satisfied with The Cassandra Cookbook?
SJ: I would definitely correct all those typos I missed. I really would change the cover as well.
TBGB: Laughing, I think overall this is really a good book. We really enjoyed reading this book. It brought some good topics to the table. We will recommend reading this novel to everyone.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
A BOOK REVIEW FOR THE CASSANDRA COOKBOOK BY SHAWN JAMES.
Category: Writing and Poetry
Title of the Book: The Cassandra Cookbook by Shawn James
Publishing Company: Virtualbookworm
ISBN: 978 1602642294
Member Reviewer: Anicia Walker, Lisa Valadez and Chris Michael
Book Read: June Book Read
Book Rating: 3 Tea Bags and a enjoyable story
The Cassandra Cookbook is based on a character by the name of Cassadra Lee. She is a hard working individual with some big time goals of her own. She bakes up her own recipes for success. Wanting to own her parent's business located in downtown Brooklyn, she also is in the middle of planning on getting married with in days of taken over her dream job to the man of her dreams of course. She muli-tasks while keeping a level head, what else could she ask for?
She has worked very hard on her Culinary Degree to help with her parent's bakery that has been in the family ever since Cassandra was a baby. Now, that her parent's are looking to retire in the near future here is her chance to put her Degree to work, why else did she get it? Well is wasnt for to hang on the wall in a small cramp office for a home for dustmites that's for sure.
While Cassandra is called to the bakery which seem like a last minute business meeting a request by her parents. Cassandra is all to thrill, she assumes this is the big day. The day her parents will turn over the keys and she becomes the boss. She had several ideas on those new pasry donuts, the ones she dreamed of baking herself she had even included whip cream cheese as a filling. Hmmm, tasty.
However, her dreams turns into a nightmare as her parents expose the truth as to why they called Cassandra into this private family affair. She is given a hard cookie to swallow, she cant bare to hear that her parent's had plans and ideas of their own.
Who told them to start thinking about all these bigs ideas without including her! Her mother and father reveals plans on selling the bakery to a big corporate gaint once they become retire! What! She cant believe this, how did she miss this? Didnt her parents see how much she love the bakery as a child? Maybe they have been tasting to much sugar this morning!
Now devastated she goes home to find comfort in the arms of her fiance who is at home finding comfort in the arms of another man! Just days before the wedding could anything else go wrong?!
Cassandra finally is convinced life has sold her an uneven oven she can't bake in without getting lumps in the middle. What to do next? She must somehow try to get her life back on track but how?
Soon things start to turn around for Ms. Lee. She becomes the representative assigned to handle her family affairs and find some answers to her questions. She start dealings with a handsome stranger, named Simon.
Well how do Cassandra turn her apples into pies? You can find out more once you pick up this great fiction novel.
A very good book read for this group, we were not to thrill about the cover it almost turned us away from the read as well as the typo errors which made it difficult to get back on story line but when we got caught up with this tasty morsal it became a good book to eat oops I mean a good book to read.
We enjoyed Mr. James imagination into betrayal and Corporate giant power and as we continue to read, we wanted Ms. Lee to become a success in the end.
We found this novel both entertaining and enlightening we hope you can enjoy this book as well.
Monday, July 20, 2009
A pinch of hard work. A dash of determination. The recipe for this story is very simple: Shawn James tries to create a sweet commercial fiction novel infused with tasteful bits of dark comedy. The end result of the project came out far better than I expected.
I’m not a commercial fiction writer; I’m just a guy who uses African-American fiction to explore concepts and ideas African-Americans don’t usually read about in the hopes of opening up Black people to new ideas. In my first two books, The Changing Soul and Isis, I explored the psychological effects of the ghetto and Egyptian mythology as it related to the African-American family. Having completed both a contemporary African-American novel and a fantasy novel, I was looking for a new challenge. So I decided to write one of those entertaining commercial novels I often read between writing books. With my combined decade of writing experience and reading experience I felt I was ready to try creating a story in the genre.....
The movies Strictly Business, The Apartment, and Clockwatchers and the Simpsons episode “Homer’s Enemy” were major inspirations for this project. I loved the dark satirical comedy Clockwatchers used to make comments about the workplace and how human beings interacted within it. I always got a laugh out of the clever social comments early episodes of the Simpsons made about life in America. Strictly Business was a movie I simply enjoyed watching; the performances were good and its heart was in the right place. The Apartment was an old film that had a tremendous impact on my writing and the development of this novel. After watching Billy Wilder’s great film I realized the workplace had a tremendous impact on the human condition. Watching these movies gave me ideas for a humorous novel that made social comments on the African-American experience in the workplace.
I started writing up a draft of a book called Integrity Sucks. It was a simple straightforward story about the African-American workplace with lots of commercial appeal. I copied the storytelling model of all the movies I had watched to the letter. Following that storytelling formula was my biggest mistake. Most of those movies I watched often showed the workplace from a White perspective. The White view of the workplace was often jaded and cynical; the total opposite of the point of view I experienced in the African-American world of work.
I wanted my story to say something about the human condition within the African-American experience, not be a re-hash of white stories with black characters in it. So I started thinking about my own experiences in the world of work. From what I observed in the workplace, most African-Americans aren’t angry or a bitter about their jobs. African-Americans often see employment as an opportunity for growth and change. To blacks work is a place where poor men and women often oppressed by racism and discrimination have an opportunity to find their true value and actualize their untapped potential.
Focusing on the positive experiences of the African-American workplace I began re-writing Integrity Sucks into The Cassandra Cookbook. The new story I planned would be the recipe for Cassandra Lee’s success working on a licensing deal with ITC Foods. Basically a recipe is a process of combining raw ingredients together through a series of steps to get a certain finished result. Depending upon the experience of the person, combining these raw ingredients together causes them to change chemically, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. While Cassandra had experience in the area of baking and customer service, she was inexperienced in the area of licensing. She has to combine her experience with Simon who is inexperienced with people but experienced with the business of marketing. As these two raw talents work together, romantic chemistry swirls around them. This causes them to change, some sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. However, as she and Simon learn from each other’s experiences they achieve their goals. Simon is promoted to ITC’s baked goods Product Manager and Cassandra expands her business into the Cassandra Brand name.
On the surface of the book would be about a business deal to expand the business of two companies; however the deeper story would be about the personal growth of the people working on the deal. Throughout the story the main characters learn what people are worth. On the quest to preserve the integrity of her family’s business, Cassandra learns how valuable she is. Working towards his promotion, Simon learns what makes the products his company produces valuable are the people behind them. It’s only when he discovers Cassandra’s value as a person, is he able to complete the deal.
With my plot and theme in place, I researched successful business people and their companies so the fictional black owned businesses of ITC Foods and the Cassandra Bakery could be as realistic as possible to readers. ITC Foods was inspired by the Parks Sausage Company, one of the oldest black owned food distributors in the U.S. Established in the 1950s it makes all types of sausage and meat products. The story of the Sara Lee Bakery was the inspiration for the Cassandra Bakery. In the 1950’s the owner of the Sara Lee bakery actually named the store after his daughter and sold it to a corporation. If he only knew his daughter’s name would become synonymous with a worldwide conglomerate that produces everything from cheesecake to handbags!
With the ingredients for writing the cookbook in place I got to work developing Cassandra’s recipe for success. I had a lot of fun writing this story, more fun than I had working on any other novel in my fiction writing career. I looked forward to sitting in front of the computer every day during the two years it took to write Simon and Cassandra’s story. I hope you learned something from reading it.