Posts Tagged With: History

MWN Author Spotlight with Eric B. Willis @EricBWillis


EBWillis
Today, the Motown Writers Network is putting author Eric B. Willis in the spotlight.

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in Detroit. I now live in Waterford, Michigan.

Tell us your latest news?

I’m currently involved with two family history writing book projects and a third one that’s waiting in the wings. My goal is to publish my second book towards the end of the year. Also in July, I will be attending a Willis family reunion in Hampton, Virginia and looking forward to sharing and receiving feedback about my current book.
When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing as a child. However, around 1997, it was reignited shortly after I began researching my family history. It was my desire to leave a legacy–to share the information that I’ve discovered about my family history–about their triumphs and tragedies, and how their survival in America continued to exist despite their tremendous odds as a black race of people with African, European, Indian and Asian ancestry.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

After I began writing about my family history and black history.

What inspired you to write your first book?

I didn’t know much about my Mississippi paternal lineage–my heritage. Also, there was an oral family historical account that was passed down about two brothers from France who traveled to this country, but I wanted to know more.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I used all four writing styles in my book–primarily expository, narrative, descriptive, and persuasive to a smaller extent.
How did you come up with the title?

The first part of the name The Willis Handbook came about over twenty years ago during a non-related discussion at a Willis family function–which was before I became a genealogist and began writing the book. The second part of the name relates to intersecting related memoirs and historical events into a family’s genealogy or a person’s biography in order to assist with reconstructing their lives and to produce more of a connection with my readers. Also, adding photographs, historical records, pedigree charts, and maps helps me to achieve this goal as well.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I want to encourage people of all ethnicities to become family historians and writers. Afterward, they would be able to reach out and teach their current and future generations that many of their ancestors and relatives–being aware or unaware of God’s presence and guidance–did experience many successes in the midst of their sacrifices and failures.

How much of the book is realistic?

The non-fiction book not only chronicles 168 years of my family history, but it also includes related and extensive information about African American and American History–covering such events as the American Civil War, early Black communities and educational institutions, medical histories and epidemics, the Civil Rights Movement, etc. Its use is also a genealogical and scholarly reference source. It’s like a treasured heirloom meets an encyclopedia.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Yes to both. The work details many experiences in my life, my family and other black family lives, and the lives of those who have had major influences–directly or indirectly–and from a local, state or national perspective.

What books have most influenced your life most?

Besides the Bible which also includes an extensive genealogical record, books that are inspirational and history-related.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

It would be a challenge to just narrow it down to one writer. So, I would have to choose Alex Haley, John Hope Franklin, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Darlene C. Dickson–my first writer’s group instructor.

What book are you reading now?

Grace of Silence: A Memoir by the National Public Radio (NPR) journalist Michelle Norris. It’s about her family’s complex legacy and understanding those who reared us.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

I’m interested in reading Allyson Hobb’s book A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life as a part of my research for my current writing project.
What are your current projects?

I have two active writing projects– a book about my maternal cousin who was involved with racial passing–living his life as a white Jewish man and a family history about my maternal lineage. I’m also assisting a client with writing and publishing his family history.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

The Detroit Public Library’s Burton Historical Collection staff was very helpful to me early on in my research.
Do you see writing as a career?

Yes, I do–in addition to being a genealogist, an artist, and an occasional actor.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

That’s a good question, but I would not change anything.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

As a child in elementary school, around the forth grade, I was given an assignment to create a hardcover children’s story book with illustrations. It was about a boy’s involvement with various sports. I remembered the covers being made of cardboard and wrapped in a vinyl sheet material with a sport-like pattern.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

My second non-fiction book begins with my genealogical quest to uncover the truth behind my maternal great grandfather’s birth in the segregated town of Huntsville, Alabama during the late-19th century. His mother is black but his father is white. However, along the way, I discovered a cousin who was involved in racial passing. As a result, my goal is to take the reader on a journey through an array of notable jazz musicians, the religion of Judaism, American union leader Jimmy Hoffa, renowned entertainer Sammy Davis, Jr., and a discussion of race.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

I really love the research phase of the writing process, but it can be very time consuming–reviewing documentation and artifacts, reading, interviewing and traveling.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

I actually have two favorite authors–John Hope Franklin and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Being a descendant from families with deep southern roots and my interest in history, I enjoy reading the works of these noted American historians, educators, and authors of southern history and racial politics.

 

Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?

As a genealogist and writer, I have to travel to various locations to research and obtain non-digitized information that’s not available via the Internet. I enjoy pouring through old photo albums, records at court houses, libraries, etc. If possible, I prefer to travel and conduct face-to-face interviews for gathering information for the book.

 

Who designed the covers?

I’m an artist as well, so I designed my book’s covers.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?

From a sentimental perspective, having to remove the last chapter because the size of the book had surpassed 900 pages. The chapter consists of information I’ve accumulated over the years during my genealogical research of my Willis family and during the time of the book’s completion, I was not able to establish to my satisfaction the people represented therein were related to my family. However, there is a possibility that there may be some Willis familial connections, but additional evidence is required.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

Besides the wealth of information about my family history and my culture’s history, I’ve learned about the existence of so many other family members across the country–what a blessing.

 

Also, consistently dedicating some time each day towards the project kept me engaged which eventually led to its completion after ten years. Some of the days consisted of one to several hours of researching (which took on various forms), writing or both. A mixture of researching, writing and sharing contributed to my excitement level.

 

Do you have any advice for other writers?

My advice is to devote at least a half an hour to the writing process even if it’s involving researching for material. Research other successful authors within your genre to determine what contributed to their success while also maintaining your own sense of writing style. Connect (in person or online) with informative writer workshops in your region. In reference to researching and writing your family history, begin with interviewing your older relatives first because once they make that transition–that valuable information may be forever lost.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? I truly appreciate your support. Also, I believe it’s important for us to know and share our family histories–to maintain that connection with our past, present, and future generations–and to learn from the past, live in the present, and build for the future. To know our heritage is like a tree with roots.
 

whbfrontcover

  • Name of Author: Eric B. Willis
  • Name of Book: The Willis Handbook: An Intersection of Genealogy, Memoirs and History of a Black American Family – 1835-2003

 

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Motown Network Author Feature ~ Christina DC Brownlow Reyes

1331908014462Where are you from?

I am originally from Conant Gardens, Detroit, Michigan
Tell us your latest news?  

I am presently writing the sequel to The Man from Conant Gardens:The Master’s Legacy. It is called. “Laura Darling: The Rose between the Weeds”
When and why did you begin writing?    

At 14years old. I was afraid at first because I was considered dyslexic, but when I wrote a short sci-fi story, which although I never finished, but my grandmother loved it, and told me, I found my niche, my talent.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?

In college, I had to write a short using one of the biblical stories as a theme, my college professor read out, and said that ”whoever wrote this has a lot of creativity, and that takes talent”
What inspired you to write your first book?     

I was venting. My mother and I had words one day, so in order to get myself together, I vented by writing, and then I couldn’t stop.
Do you have a specific writing style?

I like telling stories in third person, but as if the person in the story, left memoirs behind, and someone is reading from them to someone else, Like the book, “Family” by J. California Cooper.
How did you come up with the title?       

I did personalized it, because of the area I lived in, and because it had a certain flow to me.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

What happened to the children born from the Slave-owning Masters? Not just what happened to all the slaves? I want to narrow the spectrum that no one talks about? The illegitimate children who could never really claim their father’s name.
How much of the book is realistic?

There are a lot of historical facts inside. A lot of fictional facts as well, but the historical facts provides the timeline of slavery and the civil war.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

No. Not really
What books have most influenced your life most?    

Kindred-Octavia Butler, Uncle Tom’s Cabin-Harriet Beecher-Stowe, Jubilee-Margret Walker, The Known World-Edward P.Jones
If you had to choose, which writers would you consider a mentor?

J.California Cooper is a great mentor of storytelling, Octavia Butler ventures out of the norm and into a sci-fi and historical fiction, which is very crafty and risky, and .George McNeill give the historical readers the other side of the coin, meaning by show the whites in power having struggles during the antebellum times.
What book are you reading now?

Plantation-George McNeill. His book illustrates a different perspective, that life in the Big House has problems as well as the plantation itself.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

Edward P. Jones and Robert Hicks are two historical writers, one White and one Black, that give the reader two different side of the antebellum era and Civil War. Historical readers, as all readers, need a two-headed coin to an argument or discussion.
What are your current projects?

Laura Darling; The sequel to The Man from Conant Gardens,  and its conclusion; The Battle among Men

 

 

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

My lifelong friend Everett Bryant
Do you see writing as a career?

Yes. I writing this series, hoping to see them in the movies/film
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Nothing. Like a good cook, it has the right ingredients for all.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Just by daydreaming in my room. And then writing to make storytelling a reality.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Laura Darling, a free slave, and passing for a white man, revenges Conant Gardens after the Civil War, by committing an eye-for and-eye atrocities against the whites, until they realize that the negroes have a formidable alliance with someone the cant beat. The KKK backs off from attacking Conant Gardens until the turning of the century.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Well, many don’t know that I am dyslexic, so to write an entire novel without help, is on its own a challenge, and finding the right words to say something well is always challenging, So by reading other authors work, I create my own toolbox of vocabulary just like they did.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Kindred-Octavia Butler is a great crafter in her art of storytelling. She takes historical fiction and puts a taste of science fiction in with it. A good cook tries things, she is a great cook.
Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?  

Just traveling to book  different venues/conventions, mentoring on the writer’s craft, and meeting new authors.
Who designed the covers?

I use Various designers
What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Research. That takes time and patience.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

Be your own master of description.
Do you have any advice for other writers?

Learn the ‘Writer’s Craft’, which is like a gourmet cook.  A good cook Develops their own ingredients, (characters, writing style, words of description) and then tell a good defined story.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Always Read books from other Authors other than your own work. By doing this you can brainstorm about the story you want to write, organize the way of telling the story, develop and build a toolbox of necessary elements ie. Vocabulary.

 

 

New BookCover

 

  • Name of Author: Christina DC Brownlow Reyes
  • Name of Book: The Man from Conant Gardens
  • Author Website: conantgardens.com

Amazon Link:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/s/ref=mh_283155_is_s_stripbooks?ie=UTF8&n=283155&k=the+man+from+Conant+Gardens+

 

 

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BLACK COMIC BOOK DAY 2014 (#bcbd2014) #Detroit Feb 1st 11am @detroitlibrary RSVP now

comicbookday2014detroit

https://www.facebook.com/events/413107302122475/
http://blackcomicbookday2014.eventbrite.com/

BLACK COMIC BOOK DAY 2014
Saturday, February 1, 2014
Detroit Public Library
MAIN BRANCH
5201 Woodward Ave
Adam Strohm Hall, 3rd floor
5201 Woodward Ave
Detroit, MI 48202
http://detroitpubliclibrary.org/

BLACK COMIC BOOK DAY is an annual event that happens all across the United States!

Once again, we will be celebrating it here in Detroit!!

This is also a smaller event that will be a fundraiser for
Midwest Ethnic Convention for Comics and Arts – MECCA,
which will be
September 2014 at Wayne County Community College in Detroit.
https://www.facebook.com/events/732182073462764/
Http://facebook.com/midwestethnicconferenceforcomicsandart
Http://MECCAcon.weebly.com/

Along with M.E.C.C.A,
this is also a yearly event,
and we are very excited to bring it to you once again. This year, BCBD will be held at Detroit Public Library’s DOWNTOWN BRANCH, on WoodwardAve in Midtown Detroit.

*** Tables are only $40 for the first 15vendors! ***
Tables are being swallowed up, and they will not be held or reserved for anyone!!

Cost of admission is free,
and we STRONGLY encourage you to bring your children.

We will have many vendors, all from the Michigan area, who will be vending their books, posters, tshirts, and other merchandise pertaining to black comic books.

PARKING:::
Free on Saturdays!!
Parking is in the employee lot off Putnam St.

*************************
*************************

If you are a COMIC BOOK WRITER, PUBLISHER, DESIGNER, ARTIST, etc, and are interested in vending at either event,
please contact:

Maia Crown Williams
Amonyet Enterprises, CEO
(313) 451 0297
amonyetenterprises@gmail.com

Categories: MWN Events Only, Reading Events, Uncategorized, Writing Groups | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BLACK COMIC BOOK DAY 2014 (#bcbd2014) #Detroit Feb 1st 11am @detroitlibrary RSVP now

comicbookday2014detroit

 

 

https://www.facebook.com/events/413107302122475/
http://blackcomicbookday2014.eventbrite.com/

BLACK COMIC BOOK DAY 2014
Saturday, February 1, 2014
Detroit Public Library
MAIN BRANCH
5201 Woodward Ave
Adam Strohm Hall, 3rd floor
5201 Woodward Ave
Detroit, MI 48202
http://detroitpubliclibrary.org/

BLACK COMIC BOOK DAY is an annual event that happens all across the United States!

Once again, we will be celebrating it here in Detroit!!

This is also a smaller event that will be a fundraiser for
Midwest Ethnic Convention for Comics and Arts – MECCA,
which will be
September 2014 at Wayne County Community College in Detroit.
https://www.facebook.com/events/732182073462764/
Http://facebook.com/midwestethnicconferenceforcomicsandart
Http://MECCAcon.weebly.com/

Along with M.E.C.C.A,
this is also a yearly event,
and we are very excited to bring it to you once again. This year, BCBD will be held at Detroit Public Library’s DOWNTOWN BRANCH, on WoodwardAve in Midtown Detroit.

*** Tables are only $40 for the first 15vendors! ***
Tables are being swallowed up, and they will not be held or reserved for anyone!!

Cost of admission is free,
and we STRONGLY encourage you to bring your children.

We will have many vendors, all from the Michigan area, who will be vending their books, posters, tshirts, and other merchandise pertaining to black comic books.

PARKING:::
Free on Saturdays!!
Parking is in the employee lot off Putnam St.

*************************
*************************

If you are a COMIC BOOK WRITER, PUBLISHER, DESIGNER, ARTIST, etc, and are interested in vending at either event,
please contact:

Maia Crown Williams
Amonyet Enterprises, CEO
(313) 451 0297
amonyetenterprises@gmail.com

Categories: MWN Events Only, Reading Events, Uncategorized, Writing Groups | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Event: Bill Loomis: Author of “Detroit’s Delectable Past 6/19 6pm #Detroit Historical Museum via @freep

Bill Loomis: Author of “Detroit’s Delectable Past — Two Centuries of Frog Legs, Pigeon Pie and Drugstore Whiskey” will be featured as part of the Detroit Historical Society’s Scholar Series, 6 p.m. Wed. Detroit Historical Museum, 5401 Woodward, Detroit. 313-833-1805. www.detroithistorical.org. $10; free for Detroit Historical Society members.

Upcoming book and author events http://www.freep.com/article/20130617/ENT/306170019 via @freep

 

 

Categories: MWN Events Only, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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