Gem of the Week – Faydra Deon

Faydra Deon is a creative author of many talents. Discover newfound realizations, inspirations and a jazzy reading list.

Having published several books, were they mostly poetry or different genres?

The books I’ve published are in several different genres, because I’ve actually published half of my current catalog under different pen names as well as my own name. None of the books I’ve published are poetry. I’m actually new to poetry in the sense that I really wasn’t aware that I had a poetic voice inside me.


Maximum Axioms

How did you come about publishing your first book?

I’ve always planned to be a published author, but I wasn’t really interested in publishing traditionally. I actually have never been interested in publishing traditionally, and this was probably when the indie movement was just a thought in one person’s head; not mine but someone’s. I didn’t like the idea of signing a contract that gave away so much of my rights to my own intellectual property to some entity that would only publish on their schedule and as it suited them, so it just happened that when I was ready to publish my first book it was in the midst of the indie revolution. I started my own publishing company and published my first book, which was the root book of the axioms project. This was back in 2011.


What inspires you most and what would be an ultimate dream for your creative pursuits?

This is going to sound morbid, but I’m inspired by death.

I’m inspired by death in the sense that I don’t want to go to my grave never having gotten all this art out of me and made it available to anyone and everyone who might be interested in what I have to offer. My writing is a gift given to me by my Creator, and gifts are meant to be given, not kept to ourselves.

One of my axioms is “some people say tomorrow is not promised, but then they act like they’re going to live forever.” I know there’s no forever in this world for flesh-and-blood beings, so I’m inspired to be as creative as I can before I die. It’s why I have my hands in so many things: web design/develop, graphic design, publishing, editing, blogging, writing books, teaching, etc.

The ultimate dream for my creative pursuits is to have my work affect people’s lives in a positive way. On the one hand, I want to be a best-selling author. On the other hand, I want to leave a written legacy that people look at and say, “That chick has something to say, and it was amazing!”



Who are some of you favorite authors and how did they influence you?

I don’t have favorite authors as much as I have favorite books by really great authors. My all-time favorite book is “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison, then “Kindred” by Octavia Butler, then “Long Distance Life” by Marita Golden. Then, in no particular order: “Temple of My Familiar” by Alice Walker; “Parting the Waters” by Taylor Branch; the entire Clifton Chronicles by Jeffrey Archer; “For colored girls who have considered suicide/When the rainbow is enuf” by Ntozake Shange; “The Feast of All Saints” by Anne Rice; “Milk In My Coffee” by Eric Jerome Dickey; “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee; “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe; “Native Son” by Richard Wright; “Climbing the Stairs” by Padma Venkatraman; “Night” by Elie Wiesel; “In the Time of the Butterflies” by Julia Alvarez; “Casanegra” by Blair Underwood, Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes; the Fearless Jones series and “Futureland” by Walter Mosley; “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” and “A Lesson Before Dying” by Ernest J. Gaines; “Chiefs” by Stuart Woods; “The Hiding Place” by Corrie ten Boom; “A Time to Kill” by John Grisham; “The Hills Were Joyful Together” by Roger Mais; the Blue Hamilton series by Pearl Cleage; “Bailey’s Cafe” by Gloria Naylor; “Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine” by Bebe Moore Campbell; and about three thousand or so more.

Great writing influences me to pursue becoming a great writer myself. I’d like to think I have the mindset to emulate greatness, even though I’m not looking to imitate other writers in terms of style or audience, etc.. Greatness is my goal, and not for the arrogant sake of being thought of as great, but I would like to be thought of as a writer who went hard after her craft and who is willing to learn and take constructive criticism to become the best writer I can be.


Speed round: 

Favorite place to write?

I don’t have one favorite place. I write anywhere an idea hits me. I’ll start writing in the middle of a conversation with someone. Haha.

If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?

I’d rather not read anything if I don’t have my choice from everything, but if I have to choose I’d say supply me with enough of what I need to write my own book day-after-day for the rest of my life, and I’ll go back to the beginning and start reading my never-ending book when I have writer’s pause and then write some more when the intermission is over. Haha.

If you could be fluent in any other language, what would it be?


If you could write anything that would come true or re-write history, what would the topic be about?

If I could write anything that would come true AND re-write history, both at the same time, I’d write a world where every human being manifests the ideals that “we are all acceptable as we are, we are all connected without exclusions and we all share equally in all the resources that exist in every aspect of life.” That would be the book that I would write.


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Here’s my 2 cents…

Gem of the Week – Suzanne Schmid

Enjoy a refreshingly one of a kind pirate adventure with Suzanne Schmid. “Throw the Captain Out to Sea” is a kids song that not just for kids. Suzanne writes from the soul to share inspirations and tickle the imagination.

1. How long have you been writing/performing music? What other styles of music do you like to perform/write? Do you perform in festivals, open mics or with other groups?

I feel that I have always been a songwriter. I grew up in the 80s in Upstate, NY with limited television and just a few radio stations. My siblings and I often came up with silly songs while we played. We were the kind of kids who were always singing or rhyming, and we still do this today – especially my brother and I. I would even make up rhymes and songs while walking around the neighborhood with the family dog. Often the songs were songs about or for the dog, and the rhythm matched the rhythm of my feet as they hit the pavement.  That habit continued into my early adulthood.

However, I officially started writing music in 2012, after watching this great performance of Laurelyn Dossett’s, “The Gathering,” at Meymandi Hall in Raleigh (Laurelyn is a very accomplished singer-songwriter from Greensboro, NC).  I was captivated by something Laurelyn had said on stage about her process for writing this beautiful winter-themed song-cycle. She mentioned how excited she was to receive, in the mail, her music transcribed for orchestra even though she couldn’t really read the music. After the show, I asked Laurelyn how someone could write such beautiful music without being able to read music. She looked at me with a puzzled look and said, “you just strum the guitar and find the chords,” or something to that effect. Later I realized what a silly question that was. People have composed music throughout history without requiring music theory classes. Duh! Anyway, I have always wanted to “write” music … I just didn’t know how to start despite the fact that I do know how to read music, having grown up playing violin in the school orchestra. I took that brief conversation with Laurelyn as a kick in the pants to stop making excuses and to figure out how to get the melodies and words out of my head and onto paper. A few months later I found a guitar teacher in town named Eric Haugen and he helped me on the path to songwriting.

I don’t have much experience performing in front of people. I have performed a few times over the years for various groups, but mainly as part of a music camp performance experience. I have performed some children’s songs for my son’s elementary school classroom. I would like to start performing more this year, but it does require a lot of time to plan, schedule, form a band and rehearse. Since I work full-time and have a full-time family, there isn’t much time. I do like to join local jams when I have time. I like getting together with the students and staff from the PickNBow camp in Durham. Chapel Hill guitarist, Danny Gotham, has organized this camp for the last several years. After the 2014 camp we decided to keep the fun going, and we get together as often as we can. Getting comfortable with Open Mics is a big goal for the rest of 2016. I just attended an Open Mic workshop held by singer-songwriter, Jon Shain, this weekend and I took a bunch of notes on what I need to do to prepare. So I am ready to go. I am going to visit some Open Mics out of town where I don’t know anyone and then work up to ones in town where I do know people. In August my family and I are going to road-trip and hit some Open Mics I have heard about from my singer-songwriter friends. I am hoping that by September I will no longer be an Open Mic Novice.


2. Looks like the inspiration for the song “Throw the Captain Out to Sea” was for your son’s 5 year birthday… Do you have any other similar inspired songs? If so, are you planning to release on CDBaby, YouTube or other outlets? 
I’d love to write more for children because I find that they (and their parents) are an appreciative audience. I must admit that despite this desire, I don’t gravitate toward songwriting for children. I do love singing songs written for children though. I also love songs that were not specifically written for children, but are meant for people of all ages. This is why I really like the Old Time genre of music. A lot of the Old Time melodies are very familiar and accessible. Additionally, Old Time lyrics tell a story of long ago and are a great way to get kids thinking about how things used to be for folks. My kids love the music sung by the Carolina Chocolate Drops. I have played their CDs in the car on many occasions and have taken my eldest song to Chocolate Drops shows. Additionally, we are fans of Joe Newberry and Dom Flemons who are big-wigs in the Old Time genre, and my sons know a lot of the music they perform.

This year I am working on a full length album, “The Field Hand,” with Jon Shain as producer. The Field Hand will contain 9 original songs and 1 cover. We have finished recording, and it will be out later in the year and will be aimed at the adult market. It is mostly a folk album, with some forays into Reggae, Old Time, and Rock. I have a lot of guest performers on this CD, and I can’t wait to receive the final mixes from engineer (and bass player), FJ Ventre (Good Luck Studios). I will release it on itunes, Amazon, CDBaby … (the usual places)

3. You were the Captain of the recording session. How was the recording experience with Billy, Eric and the crew? How did you meet/bring together such wonderful players? 

I had this plan to put out “Throw the Captain out to Sea” with an illustrated book of the same name. However, since I started The Field Hand project, my resources (time and money) have been pretty stretched so the book has been placed on the back burner. I recorded “Throw the Captain out to Sea” at Nightsound Studios in Carrboro. I had worked with Meghan Puryear, an engineer at Nightsound, to record a demo for “Slept all Night” (which was recently re-recorded at Good Luck Studios for “The Field Hand” CD). I knew my teacher, Eric Haugen would provide all the guitar tracks and I had already planned to ask Gabriel Pelli (of the Old Ceremony/Onyx Club Boys) to play fiddle on the song. Around that time I saw that Billy Jonas of the Billy Jonas Band (a family-themed band) was fundraising for his CD, Build it Back Again. My family loves Billy’s music and we see his band whenever it is nearby. I contacted Billy to negotiate an arrangement through his Indiegogo page. I was pretty floored when he agreed to record vocal and percussion on the song. In fact he told me he was in town and offered to meet me that week! However, being new to recording, Eric recommended that we lay the guitar tracks first and we later arranged for the engineer to transfer the guitar tracks to Billy who has a studio in Asheville. I was pretty surprised to receive 9 vocal and
percussion tracks back from Billy and his band-mate, Sherman Hoover! I was only expecting 2 tracks. They put so much work into this song and I couldn’t believe how great their parts sounded together.
Working with Gabriel Pelli was fantastic too. Gabe added this fantastic old-time pirate fiddle part in an open tuning, and I think it added a very unique touch to the song. His professionalism and originality were the reasons I asked him to help me with The Field Hand this year. He has such a great sound. His bandmate, Dan Hall (also my son’s drum teacher), helped out on drums as well. I tried to keep it local and I think that’s the best part of the project for me. Every time I listen to “Throw the Captain out to Sea,” I think of my musical friends and idols who live right nearby!

4. Any fun/interesting stories while performing or recording the song that you can share?

After the guitar tracks and my scratch vocals were recorded, Meghan sent me the rough tracks. At the very end of the mix was the sound of someone moving a squeaky chair and clearing his throat. Perhaps it was the pirate captain, with something else to say? No, it was just Eric, of course, but it sounded so funny and appropriate. My kids would play it over and over again just to hear the funny sound at the end. I was almost sorry that Meghan cut it off before we sent it for mastering, but Billy and Sherman’s pirate-y ‘Arrrr..’ sounds that you hear at the end of the song totally make up for it


5. Speed round:

-Favorite pirate movies?
I have to admit that I haven’t seen too many – I like the Johnny Depp Pirate of the Caribbean movies.

-Favorite pirate cartoon?
Peter Pan?

-Favorite seafood?

-Favorite place to sail?
I don’t sail too often, but I’d love to sail near the coast of North Carolina, of course. I was born in the Caribbean – in Jamaica, so I would love to sail there as well. But it would have to be on a big pirate ship of course!

**For sea-fairing pirates that can’t consume rum, finish the final favorite drink:
Yo ho ho and a bottle of Orange juice … to prevent scurvy.

If you enjoyed the interview and the YouTube video, check out the studio mix at CDBaby. It’s a real treat for the ears!!

Download “Throw the Captain Out to Sea” by Suzanne Schmid on CDBaby

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Here’s my 2 cents…

Gem of the Week – Candace Coles

Enjoy beautiful messages and beautiful sounds of Candace Coles. Her endearing voice touches the soul and fills your heart with joy and inspirations. Experience the spiritual journey of a wonderful talent that is Candace Coles.



” Candace Coles, is as versatile and refreshing a singer as they come, with a particularly fearless demeanor and impressively nimble soprano voice. As comfortable getting lost in fat, swanky beats as she is in introspective, confessional numbers, Coles offers new twists on the genre.” ~
Brooklyn Academy of Music
Here’s my 2 cents…