Book Signings and Speaking Engagements

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Book Signing/Discussion at Barnes and Noble 4/14/2012

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.313755342024392.70896.220861371313790&type=3

Book Signing at Barnes and Noble 3/10/12

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.293467594053167.66312.220861371313790&type=3

A Celebration of Black History at UMDNJ 2/28/2013
Hosted by the Student National Medical Association & the Minority Association of Pre-medical Students
Teaching my workshop, Poetry & Prose Electric at the Stay Focused Magazine Writers Retreat
May 4, 2013

I am so grateful to Sister McQueen for inviting me to her church home and treating me like family. My husband and I had a blessed time! — at the Deliverance Evangelistic Church in Philadelphia 2/25/2012.

 

http://www.decministry.org/Flash/Long%20Version/index.htm

Women

Book Signing at Women With A Vision Restoration Weekend
5/12/12 — at Doubletree by Hilton in King of Prussia.

New Hope Pville

New Hope Community Center in Pleasantville, NJ (2012)

2012 ARTS & AUTHORS EXTRAVAGANZA at The Mansion in Voorhees

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City Of Atlantic City’s Black History Program – I was so humbled that they decided to honor me, however it is my Heavenly Father who deserves all the honor, praise, and glory! (2012)

StephenDunn

Stephen Dunn and I at the Challenge for the Delusional Poetry Reading at Stockton College 3/7/12

http://www.murphywriting.com/challenges-for-the-delusional-winter-poetry-prose-getaway-anthology.html

Raymond Tyler and I at Pistol Pete’s Steakhouse (2012)

http://www.themusicandentertainmentreport.com/399112_392291727504086_1455594809_n

The Music and Entertainment Report  WNJC 1360 AM with Raymond Tyler (2012)

http://www.themusicandentertainmentreport.com/

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Poetry in the Park at the Hopkins House in Collingswood 5/21/12

WOD

Women of Deliverance Conference in Atlantic City (2012)

https://www.facebook.com/womenofdeliverance

Stay

Premiere of “Stay Focused Magazine” at Manna Enterprises (2012)

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.331113466955246.73834.220861371313790&type=3

PeterM

Peter Murphy and I at the Winter Poetry & Prose Getaway (2012)

http://www.murphywriting.com/

collingswood

Collingswood Book Festival 10/6/12

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.396641470402445.89604.220861371313790&type=1

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 My husband, best friend, and biggest supporter

Poetry Reading-Center City Philadelphia

Reading, Book Signing, and Discussion at Girls’ Night Out (2011)

Creative Arts High School

Moonstone Arts Center 10/25/2012

The Little Wellness Arts and Music Festival 11/11/12

Saturday 1/12/2013

Deliverance Evangelistic Church 2/3/2013

Community Life Fair

https://www.facebook.com/BeUnltd

Community Life Fair 4/2013

My daughter and I at the 2013 Arts and Authors Extravaganza

The 2013 Arts and Authors Extravaganza 8/18/2013

Photo Credit: The Umbrella Syndicate

https://www.facebook.com/TheUmbrellaSyndicate

2013 Arts & Authors Extravaganza

Discussing Pictures in Glass Frames at InsideOut Beauty Studio’s Holiday Event

Standing with the owners and operators of InsideOut Beauty Studio
https://www.facebook.com/InsideOutBeautyStudio
Location: 2115 N. 63rd St. Philadelphia 19151 Phone Number: (215) 878-2200

Rowan Radio Interview

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“Shawn Jones joined host Stanley El to share a wealth of wisdom in an interview of life experiences and expression. Jones, an author, aspires to help uplift others through her writings. She hopes that her books can change people’s lives. Her book, which she described as a Devotional Book, is comprised of Jones’s personal devotions, beginning with her birth. In addition, Jones teaches dance and also tutors.”

You can listen to the interview here:

http://wgls.rowan.edu/player.php?podcast=http://www.rowan.edu/today/data/cast/AD20120620.mp3&name=The%20American%20Dream

Reframing Self: An Image Workshop by Shawn R. Jones

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Reframing Self:  An Image Workshop by Shawn R. Jones

 

 

Tomorrow I will be running an image workshop.  The purpose of this workshop is to find out how participants feel about themselves.  First, I am going to give them a questionnaire to fill out anonymously.  Then, I am going to have them hand the  questionnaires back in.  Next, I am going to shuffle them, and read some of the answers.  Last, I am going to focus on answers that  reveal poor self-images and openly discuss them with the group.  My goal is to broaden the narrow definition of intelligence that  solely focuses on academic achievement  and  dispel superficial definitions of beauty.

 

5 questions out of the 10 from my questionnaire:

 

1.  What do you like about yourself?

 

2.  What would you change about yourself and why?

 

3.  Do you think you are beautiful?  Why or why not?

 

4.  What is a healthy lifestyle?

 

5.  What makes someone successful?

 

I will share the outcome in my next post.  Prayerfully, it will be a success.

 

When I Break at Dawn

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Students will choreograph a dance to this poem in my dance poetry workshop.

 

When I Break at Dawn

 

I sleep among the same stars.

I am the spotted moon-

Crescent shape, my soul doth quake

Deep in midnight’s cocoon.

 

I dream about the same dreams.

I am the castle in the sky,

But not the fairy-tales of all is well…

I ask my Father, “Why?”

 

I rise with the same Son,

And yet I break at dawn-

An insecurity of reality-

A hope of change moved on.

 

I dance to the same songs-

I am the twine-flexed child

Of fantasy.  I cannot be

A dancer in this shroud.

 

I pray to the same God,

Though I am spotted, flexed, and twined.

And tomorrow morning when I break –

I’ll break with all mankind.

 

Shawn R. Jones

Girl Talk

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My mother and I did a workshop together at Creative Arts High School in Camden for a beautiful group of young ladies called “Girl Talk.” When we walked into the room, there was a lavish spread of tacos, chicken, garden salad, fruit salad, juice, bottles of water, salsa etc… and after we spoke, they presented us with flowers and awesome gifts.  We really felt special!

 

My mother spoke first.  She talked about her childhood and early adulthood.  She described the beatings she used to get from her parents and how she would pretend she was deathly afraid of the switch.  She demonstrated how she would shake and look as crazy as she possibly could to avoid getting hit.  Next, she explained how difficult it was for her being a teenage mom who was in a relationship with an abusive boyfriend.  She told them to run as far away as they could from any guy who is possessive and controlling.  Then, she explained how she was book smart, but not street smart, and as a result would end up in some awful situations, asking herself, “How did I get into this, and how am I going to get out it?”

My Mother in the early 70s

The last issue my mother covered concerning her private life was her mother’s death. She explained that her mother was murdered by a man she had only known for seven months.  “Just seven months,”  she repeated.  “He shot her three times before killing himself.”  The girls looked at her in disbelief.   My mother continued, ” You know…I was living in my mother’s house, depending on her to a great degree, and then, she was murdered.  I was all alone.  I had to take care of my three year old, and I had a younger sister.”

My Grandmother

At that moment, my mother got really serious. She pointed at the group, squinted, and twisted her mouth slightly before she spoke.  I knew that she was about to get real with them.  She said, “You know, I was twenty-one when my mother died.  And when she was murdered, I didn’t  have anybody to really help me out.  My mother was gone and I had this little girl to take care of.  It was like the rug was just pulled up from under me.  You know, before you know it, all of you are going to be grown.  You don’t have as long as you think you have before you turn eighteen.  You need to start preparing.  By the time you’re 18, you’re either going to do one of two things.  You are either going to sink or swim. You have to have a plan.”

 

She further explained that they have people who care about them.   “You have a support system today that I did not have when I was your age, so you can make it through.”  She said she knew they could make it through since she had made it through with very little support, other than a welfare check that she was really grateful for. She described how, in spite of all she had gone through, she graduated from community college and then from Rutgers-Camden with honors.  She encouraged them to stay in school and told them whenever they have problems, communicate with the adults who truly care about them–adults like counselors and volunteers who lead Girl Talk.

 

I spoke next.  I talked to them about supporting each other instead of judging one another. I explained that I have been guilty of judging people more often than I would like to admit.   “We don’t know what people walk up out of every morning or return home to every evening.  We  just don’t know, ” I explained, “so keep that in mind when you are dealing with people.”   I continued, “I don’t look like what I’ve been through, and my mom doesn’t look like what she’s been through.  You can’t look at people and see their story, so just be there for each other.”                                                                                                                                                     

 

 We love you, Girl Talk!

You have blessed our lives!!!

My Mother : )

“Inspired by the Past, A Tribute to Our Future”

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I was so grateful and so humbled when I received an invitation to the event titled, “Inspired by the Past, A Tribute to Our Future.”  The affair was held at the Westside All Wars Memorial Building, formerly known as the Soldier’s Home.  When I was a child, the Soldier’s Home was an aging building where I went for summer day camp.  Even though the building was recently renovated, so much felt familiar to me when I walked in.  I could still hear children running and screaming across the floor and see counselors in their green t-shirts rounding us up and making us sit against the wall.  As my husband and I walked through the building, I squeezed his hand saying things like, “The bathrooms are still back there” and “This is where I got my concussion.”  Every section of the new building held old memories.

 

 City of Atlantic City’s Black History Program 2/23/12

 I was so happy to see people I had not seen in years.  Childhood friends, family, and former teachers were there.  At moments I could not speak, so overwhelmed by their support.  Oh, and the program was wonderful!  Dancers, actors, and singers entertained the audience.  The performances were filled with passion, and I felt so blessed to be a contributor.  I read the poem below that I wrote a few years after my father’s death.

 The Seed is Watered

Pop, I have studied men

on the street of your generation

to recreate your smile

and admire that 70s bop,

although I knew it was

a feigned coolness

in a world that didn’t care

if you walked upright or not

because it was determined

to stop the new seed anyhow

or bend you like putty

one way or another

until your manhood, your family,

and your race could not be revived.

For this, I have cried

too often for your shortened life.

 

Pop, I have heard your voice

in the tone of anointed pastors

and thought, that’s how my dad

would have said that, if

he had said that, if

he had broken free…

if he had made the choice, if

he had continued to live,

if he could only see if.

Pop, I have unearthed you 1,000 times

and birthed you from Mary’s womb,

given you power, prosperity, peace,

and divine wisdom–I saw

possibilities in you.

I reconstructed you

on the faces of distinguished men

and finally in the eyes of

your grandson who reflects

your charm and intellignece

in the absence of

homemade adversity-

just everything you wished to be-

plus male poetry walking straight

in God’s destiny

breeding generations of saved men.

The world will not win.

 

 

The Seed is Watered  is my favorite poem to read aloud.  This is the first time anyone has ever seen it in print.  The audience was very quiet as I read.  Afterwards I sat down and watched the remainder of the show until it was my turn to speak again. I thanked them for honoring me, and I explained that one does not succeed alone. I pointed out my husband who was standing at the back of the room manning my book table.  I told them we had been happily married and devoted to each other for almost 25 years, and they applauded more loudly for that than they did for my poem. lol  Next I talked about my mother.  She stood up and waved.  Her expression reminded me of how proud she was when I graduated from high school.  I remember hearing her scream over all the other voices in the crowd and seeing her strong arm wave hard through the air.  Oh my goodness, I still tear up just thinking about it.   She was so proud watching me get my plaque that evening.  When I talked about what a wonderful mother she has been, I got choked up because I truly value the close relationship I have with her.

 

My Mother and I at the Black History Program 2/23/2012

Thank you so much Jaymi and Dawn for being so supportive!!!

 

 

Tanya, thank you for always being there!

Visit Tanya’s blog  http://lexawrites.com/

 

Thank you for your love and support, Atlantic City, New Jersey!!!!!!!

  Thank you for welcoming me home : )

Why did You Share Family Secrets in a Book?

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After six years of working on my book, Pictures in Glass Frames, I was excited the release date had finally come, and believe me, it was a long time coming.  It was supposed to be released October 2011.  Then the release date changed to November 2011.  In November there was yet another delay.  Pictures in Glass Frames was finally released on my husband’s birthday, December 2, 2011.  I figured it was fate.  After all, the book is dedicated to my husband.  It all made perfect sense to me.  Everything went quite smoothly for awhile.  I sold a lot of books from my personal collection and had a number of speaking engagements lined up.  Barnes and Noble even picked up my book.  What could possibly go wrong?

 

Well, have you ever heard of a bookless book signing?  Well, of course not.  For one, “bookless” is not even a word, and two, how could someone ever have a book signing without any books?!  Well, that is exactly what happened to me at my first Barnes and Noble book signing.  Below is a photo of my husband and son at my first Barnes and Noble event, trying to relax me after we discovered there were not only no more books left in the store, they had also sold out at the distribution center!  At the time it was a little alarming, but customers were eventually able to buy my devotional.  Luckily, many of the customers had already purchased their books on-line, so I was still able to sign some books.  Did I ever worry?  Did I ever sweat?  Well, maybe for a few seconds, but I knew God had it all figured out.

 

While God was working it all out, I kept smiling and greeting people I had not seen in years.  We had a wonderful reunion at the front of that Barnes and Noble store!  Some of my friends were extremely disappointed and upset for me.  I spent a lot of time convincing them that I was okay.  I was so touched and so humbled that so many people came out to support me.  How could I be upset when I was surrounded by so much love : )  Oh, and of course God worked it out.  Because of the inconvenience, I got to do another signing at B&N.  It was a blessing because at my second signing I held a discussion and Q&A session, which made for a very moving and productive afternoon.  Forty people came to the first signing and fifty people came to the second. Consequently, many were blessed with a copy of Pictures in Glass Frames.

 

Barnes and Noble 3/10/2012

 

Let’s rewind.  Forget about the B&N adventure because that happened 3 months after Pictures in Glass Frames was released.  I had a great publisher, and the book was out, so I figured things could only get easier from that point.  Well, my publishers, Ambassador International, gave me a publicist and sent me a marketing plan.  I read it over and the plan stated that I would try to do 50 speaking engagements a year.  I thought maybe it was a typo or something!  Then I started getting daily e-mails about query letters I should send to this person and that person.  I was like, well, it was a lot easier writing the book!  Then once I spoke at one affair, the phone calls and e-mails kept coming.  Oh, and the very first time I had to speak in front of an audience, I was nervous.  It wasn’t that I was not used to an audience because  I had danced all my life. But speaking and dancing are two different things, so I prayed and asked God to give me confidence.  I know this still may seem odd to some because I have done several poetry readings, but I was not as nervous reading  poetry because poets are cool.  You know, sort of relaxed.  Pictures in Glass Frames is a Christian book, and I certainly did not want to misrepresent God in any way.

My son and I

Thankfully, God made it clear that I would do just fine as long as I continued  to be myself.  I realized that as long as I didn’t put on airs, folks would be comfortable with me. Me, put on airs?  lol.  Anyone who knows me well, also knows I am too clumsy to pretend to be sophisticated. The straighter I try to walk, the more I trip, and the more eloquently I try to speak, the more I stammer.   Thank God, I can now say I am completely comfortable speaking no matter how large or small the audience.   I have totally accepted the fact that I  bounce when I walk, and when I speak I am more animated than sophisticated.  Now I am just as comfortable speaking in front of  a crowd as I am dancing in front of  crowd.  That’s God  : )

Barnes and Noble 4/14/2012

Animation works

Back to the release of Pictures in Glass Frames. Since its release, my fellow writers and friends have asked me tons of questions through facebook and e-mail.  Today I have decided to briefly answer some of those questions:

 

Where did you get the idea to write a devotional? I was a member of the writing ministry at my former church.  The leader of that ministry gave us an assignment to write a devotion a day and share it with everyone in the group.  I fulfilled the assignment and ended up with over 100 devotions.  I shared the devotions with members of our writing ministry and anyone else I talked to who was having a difficult time.  Their responses  encouraged me to move forward, and the more I wrote, the more I became comfortable sharing intimate details of my life.  Telling my  family’s secrets and sharing my private thoughts was a sacrifice I had to make to help others.  At this point, you are probably thinking, well what about her family?!!!  Well, that is probably the most popular question I have been asked.

 

Why did you share family secrets in a book?  My mother is also a public speaker/health educator, and the past couple decades, she has shared her life story.  Over the years, I have seen her transparency change lives.  And of course she has always been open with me, and she is completely comfortable with everything I have shared in Pictures in Glass Frames.  My husband and children, on the other hand, are much  more private than my mother, so before I sent my book to publishers, I had the three of them read it.  As for my deceased relatives, like my father, I did not share anything that I do not believe my father would be uncomfortable with.  He and I were supposed to write a book called, “Moving Fast Backwards” about his on-going struggle with a heroin addiction.  He wanted to tell his story, so he could help others. He also mentioned that it would make a great movie. lol

 

Barnes and Noble 3/10/2012

 

Have you ever considered writing under a different name?  Someone asked me that question at Barnes and Noble last Saturday.  I have never consdiered writing under a different name, and I don’t intend on ever using a  name other than my own.  Even though much of the material in the book covers sensitive family issues, I don’t have any shame about anything my family (including me)  has done in the past, and I don’t hold any malice towards anyone in my family, living or deceased, which leads to the next question.

 

Were you upset with your mother or grandmother when your mother  first told you about the abortion attempt.  My mother and I are very close, and we have been close all my life, so I have never gotten upset about it.  My mother did what she was instructed to do, and arguing with her mother was never even a consideration.  I don’t have any negative feelings toward my now deceased grandmother either. I have no idea what I would have done in 1968 if my college bound daughter came to me and told me she was pregnant.  I didn’t live my grandmother’s life, so I don’t know what experiences in her past made her do some of the things I would not agree with today.

 

How did you feel while you were writing the book?  I was shocked at my reaction to my own words.  I had to do some research, concerning my grandmother’s murder.  Now, my grandmother was murdered when I was three, so I never cried about it because I remember very little from my life during that time.  However, after talking to my mother, my uncle, and the lady who witnessed the murder, I cried like my grandmother was recently murdered.  It really surprised me.  It was one of many emotional surprises I would encounter while writing Pictures in Glass Frames.  After awhile, I realized that I was being healed and restored as I wrote.  God is so amazing!

 

Why didn’t you self-publish?

I didn’t self-publish because I wanted to reach a wider audience.  Ambassador is an international publisher.  It would have been difficult to get my book overseas had I self-published.

 

Are you writing another book, and is it a devotional?

I am writing another book, and it is a devotional.  I am also working on a poetry book.

 

Is your next devotional going to be as personal as the first one?

Thus far, my next devotional is more personal than the first one.  I am still working on the first draft, and at this point I do not know what I will add in and take out.  I will be praying about it.

 

 

I really would love to tell you so much more, but if I do, this post will become a book, but if you have any questions, feel free to leave me a comment : )  You can ask anything you want.  I am open to answer questions about both the business and private side of writing.

 

Click this link to see a few photos from my second book signing/discussion at Barnes and Noble in Cherry Hill.  About 50 people attended:  https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.313755342024392.70896.220861371313790&type=1

 

Here are photos from the first signing at B&N: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.293467594053167.66312.220861371313790&type=3

 

 

 

Teaching Writing Without Writing

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I walked into a classroom of butterscotch, caramel, and chocolate smiles and eyes glassed over with excitement. I knew I had to make my entrance big and memorable, and I knew I had to keep up the momentum for the short time I was there.  I had one hour to teach a group of 5th-8th grade students something significant about writing.  I knew I could not make them all good writers in the time given, but I could make them better writers.

 

Wearing a huge smile, I took big steps to the center of the classroom, and sat on the small stool.  I introduced myself briefly.  Briefly because when you are teaching a workshop, especially when you are teaching children, it is important for them to know that they are your primary focus.  Everything they say and think during that time is important to you.  You want to be a welcomed visitor in their world.

 

“Hey…why do you have out journals and pens and pencils?!”   I asked  with a shoulder shrug and hands thrown high.  They looked at me strangely.  I continued, “Put that stuff away!  You won’t need any of that stuff while I ‘m here today.  You are going to learn how to write without writing.”  At that point, they cheered.

 

We talked about journaling.  They explained that sometimes they cannot think of anything to write.  Sometimes the teacher tells the students to write about what they did over the weekend. One student explained, “I didn’t do anything over the weekend to write about.”  She continued to explain that they are required to write half a page.

 

I said, “Oh, so you just sat there like this all weekend.”  I sat still on the stool, looking straight ahead.

 

Another student called out, “You’re still doing something.”

 

I said, “Exactly. Now let’s see how we can get half a page out of what I’m doing right now.”

 

The students realized they could describe how I sat on the stool in a half page or more.  I blinked.  I smiled.  I thought.  I slouched.  I watched the traffic go by etc…  So, I thought  to myself, already, I have made them better writers.  They now know there is always something to write about.

 

Next I told them, “Imagine that I am your reader, and I do not have an imagination at all.  I can only see what you write.  Well, in this case, I can only see what you tell me, since I promised you would not have to physically write.  We are going to start with a simple sentence.  The man ran.”

 

I  reminded them several times that I did not have an imagination.  I explained that I could only see a man running in a space with nothing around him.  Well, when they finished dressing our man up, he was the coolest looking dude in town.  He had on name brands that I had never even heard of, and he was running to the Adidas store in the Cherry Hill Mall because he was late for work.  The students did argue for a bit about what colors he was wearing, but for the most part, our writing without actually writing, went smoothly.

 

A few moments later, one of the students called the man, “Weird.”  I explained that weird was not a descriptive enough word.  Weird can mean many things.  I told them I was leaving the room for a second, and then I was going to come back in “acting weird,” but they had to describe me without using the word weird.  They had to show how I was weird.  Well, when I came back in the room, they were laughing so hard, they could barely speak. I was acting as weird as I possibly could, which wasn’t that difficult for me, oddly enough.  I walked in rather quickly. I was a bit jumpy, and I kept looking behind myself, twitching.   I walked from one side of the room to the the other.

 

One student called out, “Crazy!”

 

And another yelled, “Paranoid.”

 

I said, “What am I doing that makes me crazy or paranoid?   Remember, we are pretending that your readers have no imagination.”

 

One student yells, “Erractic!”

 

I say, “Yes, I like that one!”

 

The rest of the students describe my behavior quite well, and I think to myself, yes, I have made them betters writers, and they had fun.  The next time I visit their classroom, they may not mind using paper and pencil.

 

A few tips on teaching children how to write descriptively:

1. Leave your ego outside of the classroom.  Do not worry about looking foolish.

2.  Become an actor/actress during that time.  Act out what you want them to write.

3.  Make it interactive.  Make some of the students actors/actresses.  Have them act out what they would like their peers

to describe.

4.  Walk around the classroom.

5.  Talk to the quiet students in the back.  Get them involved.

6.  Have fun!!!!!!