Hi Tamara, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I am Tamara Wellons-Blanks, born in Albany, GA, raised and residing in Cordele, GA. I have been married, presently divorced and the mother of three beautiful daughters. My daughters are Tamiya, Tia and Tamryn. Tamiya and Tia are twins and they will be graduating in 2017. Tamryn is the youngest and a high school freshman.
I am a member of the Cordele Institutional Church of God in Christ in Cordele, GA. I graduated from Crisp County High School. I am a certified Electrocardiograph Technician. I attended several colleges, obtaining credits in business administration and management and working full-time. Eventually, I had to stop college and work full-time to take care of my daughters. Being a single mother has not been easy, but it is definitely worth it. I would not change one obstacle that slowed my progressiona because no matter the issue, I never stopped striving. I finally realized I needed to start applying the skills and knowledge I had obtained, instead of having it to the side waiting for the next opportunity for school. After coming to that realization, I was able to obtain employment in management, business administration and secretarial work in different businesses. I can honestly say, walking around with knowledge and skills are no good unless you decide apply them.
Writing has been one of my dearest passions nearly my entire life. I never stopped writing poetry, short stories, jotting down ideas, no matter what I was doing. The dream and long term goal of becoming a published author remained alive within me. Whenever I felt an inspiration, I would write. Knowing inspiration could come at any time, I have always tried to keep a pen and journal or notepad with me.
My parents, siblings and family have always been supportive. We are not the perfect family, but we love each other and when one is in need, we are there for them. In our family, we are taught to work hard for what we want and to have faith and strive to achieve it. My life has never been perfect or easy, but to look back at where I have come from...all I can say is God is real and God is good all the time, through each and every good and bad circumstance.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I want to be a successful published author. I want to inspire children to become more involved with reading and learning to expand their knowledge. I want to inspire more adults to read. I guess one could say my ambitions for my writing career are using my passion and for purpose. Writing is my passion, I have written many days without purpose, however I now have a purpose with my passion. If I can publish a book that can intrigue a reader, or even better a non-reader, my purpose for writing is beneficial.
Which writers inspire you?
Edgar Allan Poe, Stephen King, Maya Angelou, Zane, Langston Hughes, Alice Walker, Frederick Douglass, Mark Twain and Harper Lee. Each of these writers have their own unique style and usage of words that captures my attention. I am also inspired by the way they use(d) their platforms for greater good. If one was to read the biographies of these authors, they would be intrigued by the obstacles they have faced and overcame. Some were rejected continuously, however they never stopped writing and being persistent. Others used their writing to uplift, encourage, entertain and/or bring the ignored realities to the forefront that need attention. Keeping it short, they are inspirational because they make me think, "What and how can I write to keep readers interested in my work now and later? What can I write that may possibly bring a positive change? What can I do that will not just benefit me but others as well?" These writers have made and are making an impact with their creativity, their humbleness to contribute to positive change and individuality. Also, the writers that I have the pleasure of networking and speaking with personally. To see first-hand of writers that have tenure in their writing careers is very inspirational. To witness their drive, dedication and growth encourages me to keep pushing.
What are you working on at the minute?
I am presently working on several projects, which include another chidren's book, Biblical ABC Learning 2. I am also working my first series, entitled Single Mother Diaries. Presently, I am unsure of the number of installations, however I have eight diaries that I am working on so far. Last, but not least, more poetry compilations.
What genre are your books and why?
Children/youth is one genre of books. I feel it is important for children to begin reading and enjoying books as soon as possible. I am able to give more options for children to read and learn and that is a blessing. Poetry is another genre. I like poetry because there are so many creative ways to express yourself or convey a point. There are many quotes and memes about writing, but the one that sticks out the most with me is, "Poetry is a way to tell a story without using complete sentences." I enjoy writing urban fiction. I like this genre because in my opinion, it tells the stories of some realities, giving them a fictional twist for intrigue and delight.
In 10 words or less can you create a quote that describes you and your writing?
Keepin' It Roaring
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
My most recent publication was a poetry book containing no characters, obviously. But I would like to hear James Earl Jones read the Poetic Mind section of Poetic Compilations of the Heart, Mind and Soul. We already know he has a resounding voice and I think he would nail that section in Spoken Word!
When did you decide to become a writer?
I have always been passionate about writing pretty much my entire life. My first love was poetry. I enjoyed writing short stories, essays, book reports, just anything that allowed me to be creative with my pen or pencil. I entered poetry contests and actually won several times. I decided I wanted to become a published writer around 15 or 16 years old. Now, 20+ years later, after marriage, three kids, divorce, more education and experience in business, I am finally a published writer/author.
Do you write full-time or part-time?
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
I accomplish the most writing at night, when everyone is asleep. I also try to get a few lines or stanzas written throughout the day, but I spend daylight hours mostly networking, promoting, editing and brainstorming. I probably have a dozen notebooks, literally, that I use for notes, ideas, jotting down professional connections, etc.
Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?
No I do not. I prefer to concentrate on the content of the project(s) I am working on, as opposed to the amount of words/pages per day.
Where do your ideas come from?
I love reading and I do not limit myself to specific genres. I also have a vivid imagination!
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
It all depends on the type of project I am working on. If I am working on poetry or a children's book, it is more of seeing how far creativity takes me. However, outlines and plot creations are very necessary when I am working on projects with characters.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I think I have evolved creatively a good 20%. I know that 20% does not seem to be a lot. However, there is so much more to writing than just, writing. You have to think of book covers, bios, target audiences, marketing techniques, promotional tactics, illustrations and so much more. In the beginning, I was thinking creativity goes beyond just writing a book. Now, as my journey progresses, I KNOW creativity goes beyond just writing a book. I am proud of my little 20% (lol). I have so much more to learn and I am looking forward to the challenges.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
The hardest thing for me sometimes is my choice of words, depending on the type of book. I have to remind myself, "I am a writer because I can express myself, my way. Regardless of my choice of words, there will always be something bad found in the good and something good found in the bad."
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
My latest book is a poetry compilation so I am going to piggyback off of the previous answer. My choice of words in some of the poems.
What is the easiest thing about writing?
The easiest thing about writing for me is going through the thought process, creating ideas.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Depending on the type of book, eight months minimum to about three years, so far.
Where can you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
I do not want to limit myself in writing, so I can see myself having books published in a variety of genres to reach more readers. I want my name, Tamara Wellons-Blanks or Dandii_Lion to be an option in as many genres as possible. If I am not already operating a bookstore, I can see it being in the making. Either an online bookstore or an actual bookstore in my hometown of Cordele, GA, if not both. I can see myself having a readers group for kids. I want kids to become more interested in reading.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
My advice to my younger self would be to be more responsible.
Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
I would like to meet Cicely Tyson. She is one of my role models. Her vitality, her persistence, her will, her humbleness, the list goes on, are all admirable characteristics. She takes a powerful stand as a black woman. I would like to know about the obstacles she faced and overcame being an african american woman. Everyone has a different story, a different motivation and I would like to know her story, personally. Just to be in her presence would be an inspiration blessing.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why? I know this is so way back and weird, but, "The Fall of the House of Usher" by Edgar Allan Poe. This story has been one of my favorites and most intriguing since I was in high school. I am amazed with his use of imagery and personification as he tells the story of the Usher family house. The offset relationship between the brother and sister. The lover willing to save the sister. It's depressing, intriguing, hopeful for love, somewhat suspenseful and maniacally genius. I still read this story today.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Above all else, keep God first in all that you do. Don't be afraid to learn or seek help/advice. Never have the mindset that you already know everything, there is always something more to learn. The only limits are the limits you place on yourself. Be humble, be consistent, be supportive and never stop reaching for the goals you have set for yourself.
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