Friday, March 12, 2010

Answered the Call

I tried everything I could, on my own.

They said I couldn't do it...

The bank turned me down so many times, they see me passing and go:
Brandi, what do you want? Whatever it is… No! Not a chance! No!

I’d say, hey I was just trying to get to the trashcan. I had to pass your door.

I didn’t see what the problem was. It’s not like I was asking for a hand out, I was asking for a hand up.

I needed $1,800 to get started. I wanted buy more books, bookmarks, posters, among other little things. It's my career.

Most great businesses fail in their first year because lack of capitol.

Not this one. I refuse to fail. I knew what I needed and instead of giving up. I improvised. I picked up my cell phone and went down the list.

I got 18 friends who invested in me. (Well, it took only 10 to get to the amount I needed) And Within 3 days, I had pledges for all of the money! :-)

One of My friends joked that he should hurry and win the lottery so I don't have to ask so many "little" people for help.

Sure, some big shot millionaire can just give it to me. And I’ll be an instant success. All over the place. Quick.
But the gift is: can you get 18 people to believe in you, when you have nothing?

Thank you for believing in me.

My heart is full.

P.S. A lesson revised.
Do not ever ask rich people for money. Poor people will get together and help yo’ ass.

It’s more of them anyway.
B nice.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

How Many Books?

You ever played Spades? Good! Then you know how the game goes...
Wednesday, A lady asked me, why don’t you go on the Daily Buzz?
You’re doing pretty well, she said.

I appreciate her recognizing my hard work and the growth of my book, Crumb Snatchers.

Then she fired off a list of things I should be doing to further the growth.
She meant well. She wants to see me live nicely.

Before anyone else starts…

I’ve thought about these things. Even romanced the ideas.
I like the morning show the Daily Buzz. I like Kia Malone, the host.
I’m trying to accomplish goals. I need to better my infrastructure before I take that step.

It’s not fear. Or carelessness.
A lot of the things I’m doing, (which may seem like a hard, alternate route) I have to do.

I am playing my cards. I didn’t get any Spades or big face cards this hand.

Like, I would like to eat a tender, honey-glazed rack of ribs and buttered, cheese potatoes, but I had to microwave up two scrambled eggs last night. No rice. Drink water.

I don’t ride with the windows down all the time – wind batting me in the face – because I like it; the a/c in my car is broke.

I didn’t put that old shirt on because I liked it or it was my favorite, it was the best one I could salvage.

I don’t necessarily like going to the laundry mat with the drunk, smelly (sometimes bloodied) bums but I need clean clothes.

I liked the cable, I had.

I like champaign too. But this Kool-Aid will just have to do.

And Brandi does not turn down help.
If Brian Harris (owner of BMW) came to me with an offer, I will not turn him down.
You will not hear, No, thank you Sir. Let me go home and think about taking this fully-loaded, limited 2011. Peanut butter ostrich leather seats.

I’m being patient. Putting my funds behind my dreams.
Playing my hand the best way I know how.
I’m going to let my partner across the table, God pick up the books.
When we called the number of possible books I said none, He told me just play He had me.

When the time for the big show comes, I’ll be ready!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Easy Money...

Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents, which in prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant. - Horace

An older lady walked up to me one day at Wal-Mart and told me to go back to school and be a writer.

That job’s not for you, she said. You’re talented, God gave you a gift.

I like my job. I’ll write. I replied in a nonchalant way.
I hadn’t picked up my ink pen since I graduated.

She lost all-of-her-mind. Period. Or that’s what I thought.
The people messed up and gave me a job where I made over 40k a year. Doing stuff that came easy to me. EASY. I’m 24, the world is finally in my hands.

No major bills. Completed school with a Master’s. No kids. No husband. Just me. And all my little heart desires. All I had to do was: wake up, arrive on time, and keep a low profile, do no hero work. Done.

An automatic check in the mail at the end of the month.
I can catch a flight to New York and pick up some shoes on the weekend and be back in time for work on Monday. Friends want to go out? The tab’s on me. Order whatever.

Someone has a birthday coming up? You can have whatever you like. The bill’s on me.
I feel like wearing new clothes. Something new every day this week. The cashiers at the mall know my first name.

Yup! This is the life. I’ll write when I get back from Disney World. I'll write when I come back from Vegas. I'll write when I come back from London. I'll write when I come back from Cabo.

Or that’s what I thought. After a few months I lost the job. Losing the job didn’t make me sad. Losing all the EASY money that came with it had me upset.

I had to keep moving. Can’t cry for long. OK! OK! I’ll write! I figured I’d finally start on my book. I needed to make money and no one else was hiring.

Long has the wishes from my mom gone up for me to be a writer.
I want you to be a writer, she requested.

Ma, I’ll write, I’d say. One day.

In undergrad, I said I would write a book.

Since I have no job, I might as well. I wrote my book and started off in a new path. Without the money and security. The benefits or guarantee of a meal every night.
Did I say, without security? Everything’s uncertain. The only thing I know, everyone says God gave me talent and I must use it. I was just going to use it later.

Everything I listed above was taken from me. The freedom to travel – my love. Shopping, dining; so much for a social life. Bye. Bye.
There have been times where I have gone weeks without a dime in my pocket.

Can't I get the easy money and write later?

Just with a bit of wonder, why did God take my job, my easy money from me…

My cousin had an answer for me.

God didn’t want you complacent baby, she said.

What do you mean, I asked.

If you still had that job, would you have created your book, she asked.

I pondered her question for a few seconds. With no real answer in my head to give her, I searched her eyes.

See, since you had no money, you had to figure out creative ways to make some, she said. God didn’t want you to be complacent he has something bigger for you to do.

It’s not like I was running from writing. OK, maybe I did. A little. Well, a lot. I just didn’t think it was me. Can I be an author? I didn’t even graduate at the top of my high school class. Most likely to be picked on, pass that award. Awkward. Really? Brandi, an author?
Stop. Kidding. Now.

There, I admit I ran away from writing.

I read. I read a lot. I can devour whole books in one night. I am a reader. I didn’t think it was special. I figured everyone else did the same thing too. I remember, when we were little my sister would read to us and while she was in the first paragraph, I completed the whole page.

You read too slow, Kell, I complained.

Well, OK, Brandi, tell me everything you just read, she’d say.

I’d spit it back out to her almost word for word.

Wow, you did read that, she’d say in amazement. I looked shocked because she’s the Brain. I’m just Pinky. She’s always been the Brain. Her and her report card full of A's.

I just never thought reading and writing dated each other.

My cousin hit me again. Yeah! When God gives you a gift he doesn’t want us to hide it. Sugar keep trusting God, she smiled.

He shook me up. I figured it out.

He put me on a new path. The path everybody’s been telling me to take from the start.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Everything’s Not Perfect, But It Is…

A street kid once asked me, “Do you have any doubts?”

He looked me dead in my eyes. I looked back into his, and said, “No.”
He nodded his head. I gained approval and he stamped my ghetto pass.

We were inside a packed gym and I was presenting my book.

When I started my quest to be a best-selling author, I knew I didn’t have much. Actually, I didn’t have a lot of things. I refused to let that stop me.

I thought about things like this:

I don’t have the money to buy my own product and sell, but my Father does. He owns the bank. What if he doesn’t want me in his bank, yet? He’ll open up other people’s wallets for me. Then we just killed two birds with one stone. He’s not setting me up to go to the bank and get turned down, he’s setting me up to think outside the box, other ways of getting money.

I don’t have the advertisements, but my Father told me to focus on making great works and people won’t be able to hold that in. They’ll speak of it everywhere. Word-of-mouth.

I’ll feel inferior with my faded and dated clothes, but my Father owns the clothing store. And he created the world-renowned tailor, who will make my garments.

I don’t know where to go, but my Father knows the way. He will guide me.

I’ll need consultation because I don’t know everything I’m doing, but my Father has that too.

People will criticize me, but my Father has assured me I will not be pulled down. All before me, doing anything artistic has faced criticism and answered all of the best answers in the world. I will not even have to say a word.

A lot of people won’t follow their dreams because they say they don’t have certain things.

Now, that I think about it, that kid asked a great question. My heart doesn’t bear doubt.
That’s why my answer to him was flawless.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Breakfast for Champions

Today, I spoke at Children’s Charter School. They invited me to be the guest speaker for their honors program. I felt delighted! I arrived an hour early and read a snippet of my book to the kids. Breakfast for all of the honor students in grades K-5 started at 10 a.m. Parents packed the place with cameras and gifts. And the energy was high. It was a cool experience for me.

Here is the transcript of my empowering speech:

First, I want to commend you all on a job well done.
As a matter of fact, I think this needs to be taped for 106 & Park because you don’t see this often. Brilliance is not celebrated often in this society.
But, let me tell you guys, around the world they celebrate their honor students.
Right now, it’s a 13-year-old boy at Morehouse College with three majors.
That’s three major subjects he’s studying and he’s making top grades.
I think that’s amazing!

The way you got here this morning, studying, doing extra homework; I want you to stay on that path. Whatever you did, keep doing it.

I also want to encourage you to find the smartest kid in your class and hang out with them. Because you’re good now, but hanging out with the smartest kid in your class will make you better.

And if you are the smartest kid, you hang out with some older kids who are smarter; some of the richest people in the world told me that advice.

We, but, well, everyone in this room; I don’t want us just to be rich, we need to be wealthy. There’s a difference. Rich is just financial. Wealthy is when you leave here and go find your friend who didn’t make the honor roll and you encourage them. Help them to get here too, for next semester. That way, the top is not so lonely.

That’s exactly what someone in this room did with me. And trust me, I am mightily grateful. I was doing everything but the right thing. And he (Mr. Williams) came, he didn’t just tell me, ‘I am wrong’, ‘I am wrong’, he spent time with me. He tutored me in math and science. Whatever I needed help in, he helped me. We even had fun. When he went to the movies or the skating ring with his friends, he took me too.

That showed me that you can make the honor roll and have fun. It became the blueprint for my work ethic. Work hard, you get to play hard. But, keep it on repeat.

And for that, I am eternally grateful. When I am sitting next to Oprah, he’s (Mr. Williams) going to be right there with me.

Last, Be nice to everyone because you never know who they will be.
Continue to work hard. Be blessed. And thank you.

[End transcript]

My very first honors speech. ;)
I didn't see that one coming...

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Foot in the Door

The FedEx man had less than 15 minutes to arrive.

I needed my books!! And I couldn't be late to the librarians meeting!

The delivery was just as important as my own presence for my meeting.

Books in my hand meant money.

FedEx always made it to the house at 9:30. My regular delivery guy even knew to load a few boxes in my car.
He knew my hustle and he loved to see when my orders were big!
My meeting started at 10:30. I had to make it with books. He made it in the nick of time. When my delivery came, I was ready to leave. We didn't talk much because of the rush. Business, you know.

Excitedly, I hopped in my car and made it up the highway.
It's official I told myself, I am an author, with my first book and I’m going meet the librarians.

My name was boldly printed on the agenda next to my book title. I was up for discussion! There were only two authors (including myself) and a handful of other important people there to present.

The audience was mostly women sitting wall to wall in the large room. The energy in the room was high.

The first author went up. I learned she worked a job a few years and had been in the game (literary world) a while so I sat back and played the rookie.
Yes, A rookie, but I planned to lead off my book presentation as if I was a top draft pick that made the starting line-up. I had to tuck my stage freight away.
As I walked to the podium I thought, I am now, the LeBron of writing. Franchise. No bench warmer. I have million dollar ink-pen endorsements.

Before I went up I prayed a silent prayer. Lord, please don’t let me trip, stutter or fall.

The first author was good. She was really good, and sometimes it's hard to go after good. I decided to feed off of her and the crowd energy.
My words came out of my mouth as I planned them in my head and several were eager to meet me afterwards.

One came up, grabbed my hand and said, "So nice to meet you. You know, we usually don't have authors over."

“Yes, I heard,” I replied with a smile.

"Let me buy a copy of your book."

“Why, sure!”

“I’ll read it first and see if it will be something our kids will be excited for,” she continued.

“I think you're going to like it,” I grinned.

She skimmed through the pages.

“I like it already,” she smiled back.

“When you are finished reading it can I come to your school? And do you order books?”

“You know what, you can because I think you will be great for our kids. Is your schedule be open? And, yes, we would order your book for the kids.”

“Yes, it is,” I beamed. My skin glowed even in the old recessed lighting and my heart did summersaults.

“I think that will be great.”

“Me too!!”

That day, I gained entry into three schools. I did well; most of the librarians worked at schools for younger kids and they were getting riddled with information packets, order forms with some companies even offering books for only a dollar.

My heart skipped another beat. I thought it was going to have me out of breath. I had to talk it into calming down. If I didn’t catch my breath we both were going to be in trouble.
OK! OK! Keep still, Heart!! We did great!

On my way skipping out of the door a lady stopped me.

“Brandi, can you please sign your poster for my kids,” she asked. “You know, we usually don't have authors here.”

I take it as an honor, where do you want me to sign?

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Change of Heart

She said she wouldn’t do it. Absolutely not. No way. No how.

“I do not promote authors,” she said. “Once I promote one, they will all be coming knocking down the door.”

Listening intently to her, I tilted my head slightly to the side.

“I’ve been doing this for over 20 years, Brandi. And I treat everyone the same.”

I understand. Really, I did understand.

I traveled a long way to meet the head librarian. I needed to get information on how to continue to promote my own book. Being a dependent isn’t what I’m about. I’ll educate myself and keep moving.

Besides, it is MY project. It’s only going to work if I get behind it.
I held no qualms with this lady. She rose from her seat and told her secretary a few words. Looking down in my lap, rubbed my hands together and plucked at a button on my skirt.

She came back in and I looked up.

“Well, what’s your book about,” she asked with interest.

Figuring this was my window, I climbed through. She was only giving me a minute and I had to make the most of my time.

With wise words I told her about the story. She listened.

“You know what, I have a meeting tomorrow. All of my librarians from the entire district will be here to meet with me,” she told me.

Looking at her, I nodded my head for her to keep talking.

“I’ll talk to just a few about you and see what they say. Thanks for meeting me, and you have a nice day, but I just don’t promote authors. I don’t have the time.”

Politely, I thanked her. Before I left my seat I took a copy of my book and slid it closer to her on her desk.

“You can keep this copy,” I said.

“Well, thanks, I can show them this,” she said. “I’ll call you.”

I left my seat and walked out of the door. I did everything I could do, I told myself as I drove down the road. Networking here, networking there.
Confidently, I went after something I thought could help me.

This was just another lead that died. I’ll have to start fresh tomorrow and search for someone new. Try again, Brandi.

Just then when I pulled up to a red light, almost home my phone started ringing. I answered.

“Brandi, I want you to come to the meeting, you’ll be only one of two of my featured authors. And I really don’t do this, but I think there’s something different about you.”

Well, Thank You, I will be there.