W.D. Foster-Graham, author of the Mark My Words series
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For ALC member and author W.D. Foster-Graham, an early love for reading and the desire to tell the stories he wanted to read inspired his first series of novels. He thanks his husband and son for their unwavering support.
Read W.D.’s story below!
My dad loved to read, and when I got my first library card, I immediately took up after him. I would leave the library with a stack of books up to my eyes and sit down with him and we’d both read voraciously. So I fell in love with the written word at a young age.
My undergraduate degree is in Psychology, and during that program and even afterwards, I was just having fun writing psychological profiles and creating characters – virtues, flaws, idiosyncrasies, how this this person would respond in a given situation, things like that. A pastor friend of mine looked at them and told me that I should put these characters into a book. Now, I had only had written short stories before – but then when I thought more about it, I realized that I needed to do it. The stories I had always read about African American men – down and out, unemployed, on drugs, in jail, or dead – that wasn’t the whole truth. I knew plenty of African American men who were highly successful and I wanted to build a character out of that knowledge. That became the basis for the Mark My Words series.
I was very naïve with the first book – I assumed people would just buy it because it was good. Then through the ALC I realized there was a whole process and that I would have to step out of my comfort zone. But I believe in the law of attraction – if you’re thinking about success and positive, that’s what you’ll receive through people or different events that take place.
Through the ALC webinars, I learned how to design my own covers, build a website, and sharpen my skillset regarding marketing tools. I learned how to develop a Twitter following and now I have another community of writers and followers there too. This is my business now – I have to do more than just sit down and write.
Another important piece that the ALC helped me realize was the process involved in finding the right editor. For me, it was more about does this editor share my vision; do they have the cultural sensitivity I need for this series? The editor I decided upon was very conscientious and deadlines were met consistently. And she didn’t overhaul any of it – just tweaked it here and there.
If I may share some advice with other authors, it would be this: Being African American and also LGBT, I could have focused on the fact that those factors can be challenges Instead, I looked at them as being my strength. Just step on out there. Instead of sitting around complaining about what you’re not reading, write it yourself. Visualize the end result. And support other authors. Each of us has a unique story to tell. If we don’t tell it, who will?
Allan Beckley Christopher is a self-made, African-American multimillionaire. Starting out with nothing but family, very high intelligence, ambition and drive, he succeeded against the odds. He dealt with racism, discrimination and the naysayers, Black and white, who were convinced he would never make it as an entrepreneur in the 1960s. Opening a fix-it shop in southside Chicago, through hard work and determination he turns it into a multi-million-dollar corporation. He’s “made his mark.” With the advent of his sixtieth birthday, his character, his past and his beliefs come into focus, honor and question as his story is told through the eyes of his family--including his four LGBT children--and with it his impact on their lives.
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