David L. is the President and CEO of Total Package Publications, an independently-run publishing company with major distribution that includes Baker & Taylor, Walden Books, Amazon, and most recently, Ingram. His first novel, Over Your Dead Body has been received with critical acclaim and multiple awards and has been optioned for a movie deal with a Los Angeles-based independent film company. Over Your Dead Body accurately details the unfortunate occurrences of separation, followed by divorce and forces every married couple to “look in the mirror” and ask themselves the question: “Is My Marriage In Trouble?” It is by no means to glorify separation and divorce, instead, to highlight a cautionary tale of what could happen if one allows their relationship to get to the point where there is no “turning back.” David L.’s second release, Chalk Outline Confessions has also been receiving numerous nominations for its ability to capture the realism and graphic display of the suspense and thriller African-American genre. His most recent release, My Life Is A Movie is an engaging, coming of age story about a teenage female going through the trials and tribulations of growing up in the late 80’s.
David L. has expanded his literary services recently and has begun working with enthusiastic authors seeking a publishing outlet to showcase their craft and share in his passion for writing. In addition to his novels, David L. has also published various articles and has written as a guest columnist for various periodicals ranging from race relations in the U.S., self publishing do’s and don’ts, to working with troubled youth in the community. David L. holds a Bachelors Degree in Communications and Human Relations as well as a Masters Degree in Social Work with a concentration in Clinical Administration. David L.’s area of expertise includes couples therapy, family crisis intervention, and marriage counseling.
What would you like readers to take away from your book?
I would like all of my readers to understand that every action will almost always inevitably cause a reaction of some kind. Consequently, everyone has to answer to something that they have done either recently or sometime in their immediate past. My characters, although fictional are based on real life individuals from both my earlier years as well as young adult life. Additionally, sometimes things happen in life that we cannot control. We as individuals instead of concerning ourselves with what we cannot control should master those things that we can control. With the right amount of planning and self control, many of us can and will make better judgment decisions that dictate our course in life. The overall theme that I continue to stress in my novel, My Life Is A Movie can be summed up as: peer pressure and karma is a b***h no matter who you are!
Why did you choose to write this book?
First and foremost, I would like my readers (regardless of age) to understand the enjoyment of nostalgia. My book was written during the timeframe of 1988 – an era of simpler, yet complex times nonetheless. Where now we have cell phones, back then we had ten cent pay phones on every corner. Where now most of our youth stay inside and take up much of their valuable time with X-Box and Play station, back then kids were outside playing tag, wetting cars up with fire hydrants, and girls stayed jumping rope in front of their buildings. Secondly, I would like my young readers to know their past as much of their current hairstyles and clothing accessories are clones of yesteryear. To all my thirty-something and up readers, I challenge you to not lecture, but instead remind those same youth that you can relate to their needs, wants, and aspirations because that was you not too long ago. Thirdly, and most importantly, I would like everyone to enjoy a coming-of-age story reminiscent of the classic, Cooley High movie from the 70’s era in which I take you on a time travel trip to a place in Brooklyn, New York where I once resided and lived my formative years doing all of the aforementioned rites of passage.
What did you learn while writing this book?
I learned (or more accurately was reminded) that no matter what life has dished out for you, change can be implemented as long as you have breath in your body. Many of the characters in my novel faced insurmountable odds as they dealt with the obstacles that often plague our teenage youth: dating, family drama, negative peer pressure, drug experimentation, gang involvement, etc. My education on the previously-mentioned areas of concern reminded me that no matter how much things change, they also remain the same. My goal is for all of my readers (especially all of you young readers out there) to keep in mind that you will inevitably travel down various roads in your life. Choose wisely as some of those roads will include road blocks and detours. Other roads will be bumpier and can even lead you into oncoming traffic!
What was your favorite scene/chapter from the book?
Without giving too much away, 3 of my favorite scenes in my novel (too many to limit it to just one!) are (in no particular order): 1st scene - during a dice game in which Donovan gets into a physical altercation with another classmate. I enjoyed writing this because it showed just how quickly in life good friends can quickly become hated adversaries. Back in the late 80’s, there probably wasn’t as much gun violence. Instead boys would be boys and “duke” it out. Whoever lost the fight lived to see another day! 2nd scene – Kayla meets her potential love interest at a nearby club. This was an especially memorable part of the book for me because I included many of the hit records that were out during that time in my formative years: Eric B. & Rakim – Eric B. Is President; Rob Base & EZ Rock / It Takes Two; and Big Daddy Kane – Ain’t No Half Steppin’. 3rd scene – hospital scene with Donovan and his “little friend.” I can’t give too much away, but trust – even some of you self-proclaimed “I keep it real” hard cats will possibly drop a tear over what happens!
What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?
For all of you non-writers out there that either always wanted to write a book or think the writing business is as simple as picking up a pen and paper: this is not an overnight hobby or spur-of-the-moment idea! I first realized I wanted to write and had the GOD-given talent to do so way back in grade school. While everyone was playing Atari and trying to get a paper route, I was making and selling comic books to the neighborhood kids. Not just writing them. I was coming up with the storyline, cover design, character outline – everything! I was about eleven or twelve. That eventually evolved into other writing projects such as the school newspaper. I would write about current and controversial topics that plagued my community on an ongoing basis. I appreciated the reaction of my peers and the positive feedback, so I kept writing. Eventually, my articles turned into full-scale stories. In conclusion - I take my craft seriously!
What is the best lesson you have learned from another writer?
I continue to take bits and pieces of information from writers that I've had the fortune of meeting throughout the years. I continue to be amazed over how similar the publishing industry is compared to the music industry. In the murky world of publishing, distribution and niche marketing is key. No matter how well you’ve written a body of work, no one will ever know about you unless it is distributed and promoted correctly. Secondly, you need to establish a core fan base. Readers can sometimes be very fickle and possibly forget about you when that next “hot” author comes out. My goal from the very beginning was, and still is to stay humble and appreciative of those that supported my vision from day one. A special “shout-out” to those that I am referring to right now…you know who you are!
What is the toughest test you've faced as a writer?
My toughest test faced as a writer is to continue to write great bodies of work and not allow complacency to become a barrier to my overall goals of taking over the literary world! There may be times that the politics and shadiness of the business may cause me to become eager to retire prematurely or focus primarily on my other authors, however, I would be doing my readers that have supported my vision throughout the years a disservice. In other words, I'm focused on putting out a novel annually. Not because I have to, but because it is one of my self-imposed decisions in order to remain relevant to my core fan base. So far, I am 3-0 with another novel coming up sooner than you think!
What was the best advice you’d ever gotten about the publishing industry? The worst?
Unfortunately, everything I’ve learned about the publishing business (both good and bad), I had to learn the hard way. That means taking my “bumps” and “bruises” without the benefit of someone putting me under their “wing.” Fortunately, that allowed my growth process as both a writer and eventually a publishing force to adapt and solidify my ongoing knowledge of the business. Because of this, I’ve taken on a very active role in other author’s careers as far as coordinating author workshops in the community, offering free tutorials just by visiting my author blogs on my website and replying to random email inquiries for those trying to get into this business of writing.
Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?
Do: My advice for up and coming authors is to invest in yourself. You are your own best salesperson. More importantly, begin promoting your work well before its release date. Create a buzz. Create demand and impatience. You can’t have a fan following without it. Always strive to be as humble as possible and treat every potential book purchaser the same. A bad reputation for being standoffish and apathetic to your audience can and will be your downfall. During book signings, smile and personally greet everyone whether they purchase your book or not. The ones who do not purchase your books today may not be financially able at that moment; however, a smile will leave a lasting impression. Last but definitely not least, create your own “lane.” This means be as original as possible and develop a style you can call your own. By doing so, you can almost guarantee more leverage in obtaining radio and print publicity and a following that will keep your name alive for many, many years to come!
Don’t: Avoid the people in your life that begin their sentences with words like: “can’t,” “won’t,” and “never.” If I had listened to those same individuals, I wouldn’t have any books out right now. You can be either your best adversary or your own worst enemy. Develop a strategic plan and keep your focus. No one is going to do it for you.
What is your author fantasy?
One word: Oprah! I know undoubtedly that with her impact and my writing prowess, there is no way I can’t sell six digit numbers.
What is something readers would be surprised you do?
When I’m not writing, I am looking for every opportunity to brand myself and take my writing skills to the next level. Activities that I’m constantly involved in include public speaking in the areas of race relations, self-publishing, and effective marketing and my personal passion – working with at-risk foster care youth in the community. I’m often asked what the last book I’ve read was and my answer is always the same: “the time it takes me to read someone else’s book, I could be hard at work writing my next one!”
One book that you have read more than once:
Message To The Black Man by Elijah Muhammad. One word: classic!
One book you would want on a desert island:
4 way tie: Over Your Dead Body, Chalk Outline Confessions, My Life Is A Movie – and coming soon: Represent – all by me!
One book that made you laugh:
Any of my books! I enjoy incorporating well-timed humor in all of my novels…and will continue to do so as long as there is a logical place for it somewhere in the book.
One book that made you cry:
No book has ever made me cry. More importantly – I would never admit it!
One book you wish you’d written:
Tie: the sequel to my first and second novels: Over Your Dead Body & Chalk Outline Confessions…the fans have spoken so don’t be surprised and be careful for what you ask for because you may just get it!
3 books for children:
I’m basing this on the assumption that the terminology “children” refer to those youth probably under the age of at least twelve. In that case, I recommend any book that offers both invaluable insight about who they are as a person and at the same time, teach them about knowledge of self. Although I am unable to offer and specific examples, the one book that comes to mind for me is Lord Of The Flies, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, and Black Boy by Richard Wright.
What do I know for sure?
I know for sure that as long as I stay focused in my writing and persevere towards my master plan of literary domination, only positive outcomes can be achieved. I also know that a well crafted novel can only remain in the shadows for a pre-determined amount of time. In other words, get ready for big things to come your way in the very near future!
Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?
The next and long-awaited book by David L. will be titled: REPRESENT. The overall concept of this book is to show my readers what happens when family gets in the way of better judgment. Trenton “Innocent” Barnes receives life for his role in the numerous executions of rival drug lords, but he’s determined to not let that stop him from monopolizing the game. Enter youngest sibling Prentice who has just been given sole responsibility of not only taking over the “family business,” but convincing his newly-acquired troops AND his competition that he is up to the challenge. A word of caution: this is not your typical “hood book” that glorifies street life and random, senseless killings and the ending will leave you salivating for more!
How can readers get in contact with you?
Snail mail: C/O Total Package Publications P.O. Box 3237, Mount Vernon, NY 10553
My Life Is A Movie
Kayla Brown is living the classic struggle for acceptance and respect at the crossroads of her life: the upcoming senior spring dance, graduation, and a new love in her life that everyone seems to dislike. Her circle of friends include Tamika, clearly her opposite in every conceivable way, and Donovan, Tilden High School's star athlete as well as Tamika's boyfriend. Kayla's journey as she encounters dating, family drama, and tragedy clearly demonstrate how choices dramatically impact one's immediate future and the lives of those around them. She also believes the world revolves around her and very much like a critically-acclaimed movie, everyone should be paying attention to her every move! The overall theme of the book strategically shifts from playful to cautionary with each passing page. As in real life, Kayla, Tamika, and Donovan are engrossed in drama, danger, and at times, misfortune. Decisions are ultimately made, and as result, repercussions are inevitable. More importantly, see how each central character deals with their individual misfortune and the unexpected in their own unique way.
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