Wednesday, September 10, 2014

GUEST BLOG POST by Ben Burgess Jr


          I get asked often, “What inspires you to write? What motivates you?” There are so many answers to that question. I’ll try to explain some.

          My biggest inspiration/motivation is my daughter. As a parent, I want nothing but the best for my child. I look at her as an extension of myself. I didn’t have a great childhood. My parents didn’t have a lot of money, I was insecure about myself, I lived in poverty, and I missed out on opportunities due to a lack of funds. While my childhood wasn’t the best, I had a great role model, my Mother. I watched my Mom struggle to pay bills, work two jobs, put herself through school all the way up to her doctorate, and moved us out of the bad neighborhood we lived in into a house in the suburbs. She did all of these tasks on her own. My Mother did the best she could to push for me to have better opportunities than she did. She pushed me to want more out of myself and to become the best person I could be. That is exactly what I want to do for my child. I want to instill in her that strong work ethic and will. I want her to realize that with hard work and dedication, she can do anything she puts her mind to. I want her to see how I juggle being an NYPD detective, personal trainer, Father, and author. I love her and I want to be that positive role model she looks up to like my Mother was for me. Every achievement, every award, every acknowledgement I receive, I want her to understand that I put 100% into everything I do. I pray that it pushes her to be a great person.

          When I was a child, I had a teacher tell me, “You’ll never amount to anything. You’ll just be another drug-dealing thug like the rest of the people in your neighborhood.”(That’s the light version of what she really said.) I had two choices. I could’ve proven her right or proven her wrong. I chose the latter.

As an adult, I still face those who put me down and I fight to prove them wrong. For every five people who praise my books, there’s at least one who despises it. It’s those people, the ones who tell me “You can’t do it. You’ll never be good enough.” That motivates me to keep trying and to keep pushing. When I wrote my first novel “Monster” I tried to publish traditionally. Many publishers and agents believed my book was too dark. I received tons of rejection letters and I was told that my work wasn’t good enough, it didn’t have mass appeal, and it wouldn’t do well in sales. I could’ve given up, but I wanted to prove them wrong. I decided to ignore what the publishers and agents told me, and self-published. “Monster” did very well. It was on the Amazon best sellers list for a few months, is used in two high schools in NYC for their reading curriculum, and received very good reviews from credible book reviewers.

While I had those positive aspects, I also had negative ones. There were those who told me that “Monster” was nothing more than porn and smut. Some readers didn’t see the true message in my work and while it hurt (Still does), I had to understand that everyone will not like me or the topics I write about. Again, I wanted to prove those people wrong. I entered writing competitions and I’ve won the 2013 Readers Favorite Book Award for Urban Fiction, the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award for African American Fiction, and I was a finalist for both the 2014 International Book Awards, and the 2014 National Indie Excellence Awards. Recently, I’ve won the 2014 Readers Favorite Book Award for my latest novel “Wounded.” I’m very happy for winning the award and the reviews that came with it.

          As I’ve grown as an author and matured as a man, I’ve learned through my literary journey that while turning negative things into positive ones is a good motivator, the most important motivation and inspiration comes from within. Writing to prove people wrong shouldn’t be why I write. If anything that should be a small source of my inspiration. The real reason why I write and what I can never lose consciousness of is that writing makes me happy and I believe my words can truly help people. When I receive a good review or I get an email from a reader explaining how my book helped them, that’s my real inspiration. That’s what helps to keep that “fire” burning, to encourage me to keep doing what I’m passionate about.
          In conclusion, I know I still have a long ways to go in the literary world, but as long as I have the “fire” to keep pushing my limits and trying to reach as many people with my books as I can, I know I will make it. I have to continue to write outside the box and, write about topics that will make people think and change their perspectives. With hard work, I know I will continue to be successful as long as I don’t lose that FIRE.


Ben Burgess Jr is the author of the award winning novel "Monster", the poetry book "Times Have Changed and Life is Strange" and the new novel "Wounded" He is an active performer of spoken word poetry. Ben Burgess Jr uses his love of writing to inspire and influence youths to strive for what they believe in, and to never give up on their dreams. His poetry book "Times Have Changed and Life is Strange" and his novel "Monster" are currently used in schools on the lower east side of Manhattan. Ben Burgess has a BA degree in Business Management, and a MA degree in Educational Leadership. He is the proud father of his daughter Jaelynn and is active in trying to improve urban neighborhoods and communities.

I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Ben Burgess Jr's latest novel, Wounded.  Here is my **FIVE STAR ** review:

"Wounded” is an emotional and raw novel that takes you on the journey of Samantha Miller, a lesbian stripper and her path of self-destruction. Sam has had a hard life since her childhood. The abuse she has suffered during those impressionable years has made her blinded to love. Sam has no faith in men and throughout the book, you can see her harsh feelings towards them as she delves in and out of relationships with women. She is constantly on the hunt to find her next victim to ‘turn out’. Love is nowhere on the agenda until Sasha comes on the scene as a bartender at the gentleman’s club where Sam dances. Cultivated by Sasha, Sam makes it her mission to conquer Sasha in her bed but Sam is the one who gets caught up. One night changes everything between Sam and Sasha.

This book opens up a discussion regarding many issues in today’s society in regards to rape, LBGT lifestyles, and hate crimes. Sometimes we don’t determine who we love whether it is the opposite or same sex. When we do fall in love, we fall hard. The more we deny the feelings we have for a person, the more it seems to pull us in. We see in this gripping lesbian fiction book that our past shapes who we become in the future and only we can change the way that journey ends.

Ben Burgess Jr, who is also the author of Reader’s Favorite Award book, Monster, does an impeccable job in developing the plot. Readers are left on an emotional rollercoaster as they turn the page of this novel. This story also makes you conscious of the way you treat anyone from the LGBT community. Sam and Sasha’s character was developed so well, you felt every emotion they were experiencing from pain to happiness to heartbreak.

I applaud the author for embarking in this journey from the outside looking in. Great job!


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