“My great, great-grandfather, Roger, started the business in California back in the late 1800’s. Eight years after he tasted his first self-grown grapes and after several failed attempts, Roger Frances Winery was born.” – Brelyn Michele Clover

Everybody is an entrepreneur today. I salute you. I believe in you.

What I’m not a fan of is the misinterpretation that being an entrepreneur means:

  • I’ll never have to work for anyone again
  • I am my own boss
  • All I need is one client and I can get the ball rolling

Here’s the truth:

  • You will always be working for your target market (at least until you build your business up to the point where you’re making a passive income)
  • You are your own boss, but your moves are made according to your target audience (which essentially means you aren’t your own boss)
  • Getting one client is great. Keeping that client is better.

As someone who has built multiple businesses and failed multiple times, I had to bust these same myths myself. Entrepreneurship is very exciting. In fact, it’s rewarding. All the times I’ve started a business (writing business, nail polish business, sandal and sock business, etc.), I’ve hit roadblock after roadblock and had opposition like crazy.

But I knew what I was signing up for. I never once thought money would just fall from the sky and into my pockets. I was excited at being my own boss, but realized that I would always work for someone being self-employed. Owning a business where employees are involved is another thing. But running your own business typically means you’re self-employed. And just like self-publishing, self-employed means you are doing  a lot of the work yourself.

The Clovers are all about entrepreneurship, in ways you can’t imagine. Since it’s fiction, there may be a few things that come off like they skyrocketed to the top with their businesses, but even when inheriting a company, it’s still hard work involved. As you read Battling Brelyn, you’ll get to see that. Entrepreneurship is more than bells and whistles. It’s more like scrubbing a floor with a scrub brush because the mop hasn’t been invented yet.

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What Real Work Looks Like

“So, I was thinking of revamping Bodies by Brelyn to an online platform where people can take virtual classes and get health and fitness resources for a monthly fee.” – Brelyn Michele Clover (taken from my new book, Battling Brelyn)

I think my biggest pet peeve today is my culture’s insensitivity to work ethic. While many people quote today’s culture influencers, those who have a strong work ethic and give hustling hard a whole new meaning, I’m not sure they understand the dynamic of what it takes to really work hard.

My parents are baby boomers. All I saw growing up was hard work. It’s the same thing that made me get a job at the age of twelve. It was instilled in me and it made me push through a $4/hour job. Many people in our culture today have no idea what real work looks like.

So many people liked the story of the man who walked to and from work every day. It touched everyone so much that he was blessed with a car and money was raised to assist him with his financial woes. I wonder how many people took his story and used it as inspiration to fuel their own work ethic.

First, real work is not, nor will it ever be you launching a business or product and believing because a celebrity tweets about it, that you’ll be great. Real work starts with a mindset and continues through daily, consistent and progressive efforts that show value and brings volume.

I say all this to say: real work has to be put in. My new series touches on entrepreneurship and work ethic on a different level. You get to see Brelyn work through real, entrepreneurial issues and her parents never once show her how to do it. She was raised in it, so she knows it, but you will get to see her work through building the business herself. If my fifteen-year-old protagonist can do this, I believe teens and young adults today can tap into that same thing.

I mean, even T.I. took his son to the studio where he first started rapping instead of taking him to the fancy one he has himself. After all, isn’t the bottom where champions are made?

Where’s Your Grit?

As I rooted for Tony to win on the season finale of American Grit, I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. My heart sank when he fell. I mean, he was a one man team for weeks. Every time he looked like he was about to faint and give up, he pushed through and made it to the next round.

To be honest with you, I was extremely bothered that he didn’t win the $250,000. And in that instance, I realized I was being a bit selfish. Here it was, a man in his early forties who pushed and pushed to get to the end and I was upset because he didn’t win money. Isn’t that why everyone was on the show?

Wrong. Well, sort of. Everyone was on the show because someone saw something in them and believed they had “American Grit”. Essentially, they hoped to win the final prize. Every episode, John Cena said “All we ask, is all you’ve got.” And Tony gave all he had. How often does God ask us to “give all we got”, yet we ring out before we get to see what’s on the other side of victory?

Or, we feel like because there wasn’t any money on the other side, we weren’t victorious? You see, Tony was able to push through week after week by himself because there was something greater than him moving him along. He had a greater purpose. He wanted to make his mom and daughters proud. There was no mistake in him losing because he didn’t lose.

Sure, if he would’ve held on just a few seconds longer, he would’ve won the money. Week after week he said he wasn’t sure if he could do it anymore. At his age, he felt his body couldn’t handle the wear and tear; yet each week, he pushed through.

Do you see the analogy I’m getting at? While I’m extremely proud of Tony for pushing through to the end, especially when he thought he couldn’t go any further, I realized that God was sending me a message.

The trials I’ve encountered since taking my leap of faith at the end of February have been overwhelming and at most times, left me wondering when the next dollar was coming in. But I hear God telling me to “hold on” just a little while longer. I know if I drop like Tony did, God will pick me back up because my victory is “promised”.

Now, don’t get me wrong – victories do come in stages and any victory we gain is amazing. In the midst of each physical challenge, Tony gained something that money couldn’t buy. He pushed past his mental and physical limits to get to the finale. Maybe his journey was about God restoring the strength he had when he was in the NFL so he could realize that he still had it. Or perhaps, the NFL journey prepared him for American Grit.

Either way you choose to see it, the physical journey was just a piece of the mental one; and while everyone’s journey is different, all journeys are about mind over matter. I do know one thing – I want every blessing that God has for me. And while I might not win every single battle, I refuse to drop off when I’m just a few seconds away from victory.

So, hold on my friend. You may not see it now, but keep going. Don’t give in. Tony is still a winner, because he has greatness on the inside of him. So do you. Even during your hard times you have to remember, money isn’t everything – the journey is.


The Denial of Depression

“God, I don’t want to die. My heart started beating faster. Please. I can’t imagine my Mama standing over me crying.” – Brelyn Michele Clover (taken from my new book, Battling Brelyn)

Sadly, it’s something that happens a lot in today’s culture. There’s a stigma attached to depression that causes people to withdraw from getting the help they need. As a millennial, I haven’t met one person in my age group that hasn’t suffered from depression in some way. Whether they experienced it in college or after dealing with the loss of a parent, it happened. And it continues to happen.

My concern is the denial part of it. During my years at Temple University, I had several nervous breakdowns that I couldn’t explain if I tried. I had no idea what was going on then, but I knew I needed to seek help. Most of my depression came from anxiety and worry. I literally couldn’t find balance. I praise God for seeing me through some of the darkest times in my life.

I had a friend who suffered from depression after the loss of her mother. To this day, she can’t seem to get a hold back on life. She’s sought out help and has had psychological treatment. I continue to pray that she’s able to see how God can use that situation and bring her into a new place. I take nothing from the way she feels, because I never lost a parent and I wouldn’t try to say I understand, because I don’t.

What I do understand is that our society, and others, face depressing thoughts and situations every day. I would be remiss not to touch on it since my new young adult series touches on it more than once. Brelyn has depressing thoughts throughout the book, most tied to her experience with Lupus and how it may affect her life for the long-term.

I even think of the amazing R&B Divas Michel’le when she openly discussed dealing with depression and the many affects it had on her as she struggled to find balance as a mother and artist.

Do you know of anyone who suffers from depression? What are some ways that you’ve encouraged them to seek help? How do you think we as a community can stop denying it and make it easier for us to support each other?

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A Family Empire

“We were children who still volunteered at hospitals and shelters; who still shopped at Old Navy and ate at chain restaurants. We put up more money than we spent and had to make sure we tithed ten percent to our church.” – Brelyn Michele Clover

I love the TV show “Empire”. Most of us dream of building our own someday. What I love about my new YA series, The Clover Chronicles, is that it Chronicles the life of the Clover family, namely the four children and their journey being a part of a wealthy family. When I started this idea back in 2013, it seemed far-fetched to me.

Not because I didn’t believe I could write a story about an African-American family having a billion-dollar business, but because I wasn’t sure how I could bring it all together and not make it sound like something that was far-fetched (or now, with “Empire” being such a huge show, something that wasn’t already being done). The truth: everything in entertainment has been done before, regardless of the format it’s in.

What I love about the family empire I’ve built is that the family’s foundation is built on their Christian faith. I also chose to have Papa Clover, the family’s patriarch, inherit his grandfather’s winery, which was already worth billions before he was even born. Every family story will have its ups and downs, but it’s the characters that people fall in love with that makes the family real to the reader or viewer.

The Clover family has three key things that makes them who they are. This is also why readers will love them:

  • No matter what they face, they pray together and they stay together
  • They don’t compete with each other. They encourage each other, oftentimes, forgetting about themselves in the process
  • They give more than they receive. This isn’t literal, but their values are built on a strong work ethic and caring for others. Each character’s passion for people shows through in the story.

Of course, in book one, you will get to see this mainly with Brelyn. As a teenager battling Lupus, her compassion to see Saith, her crush, is all based on a moral foundation she got from her parents. She doesn’t just want to help him because she likes him. In fact, she pushes against her feelings for him for quite some time. She helps him because seeing a boy her age in a wheelchair doesn’t sit right with her.

What are some things that you would like to read (or see) when it comes to family sagas? Do you feel like there is a void in entertainment (publishing, TV/film) as it pertains to shows that embrace family values?

To read an encounter between Brelyn and Saith, click here.