Terrence "Weasel" Smith
Hello Readers and Writers!
Today we would like to introduce you to an author who has used a tough upbringing to motivate him to improve his life and those around him. Instead of falling to the harsh realities in his childhood and young adult life, this talented writer worked hard to become a college graduate and accomplished author, beating out many prominent figures for best-selling spots! Top that off with his first film which he executive produced and long-standing service to his community. This man inspires us greatly!
Introducing Terrence "Weasel" Smith!
RL: When did you first begin writing?
TS: I began writing in college at the University of Arkansas in 2009 before I transferred to Texas A&M University in College Station. I had an English course where my professor challenged me to breakdown stories and convey messages within them. I scored the highest grade in the class and she commented on how perceptive I was in understanding underlying messages. So in 2013, knowing that I could do it, I started writing my first book in which was a biography.
RL: You have been dubbed 'Mr. Southeast Texas', talk to us about how you earned that moniker and how your upbringing in Beaumont, TX influences your writing?
TS: I was dubbed 'Mr. Southeast Texas' by the fabulous news anchor Vanessa Holmes who hosted me on her segment a couple of times. In fact, she was the first person to give me a chance to catch people up on the great things I had been doing behind the scenes for the community for years. This was sad because a lot of people knew the great things I was doing and did not help use my story to motivate at-risk kids. She was so shocked a person that did so much was never given a platform such as hers and gave me the name because of the list of things I accomplished being from a poverty-stricken community with little to no help. My upbringing influences my writing because it helps me offer a different perspective than other authors. The material is more heartfelt and I paint depictions that help the reader feel apart of the journey with me firsthand. I give the readers my thoughts and do not have a research team like best selling authors, or use quotes from other people in my books that derive how tough my environment was coming up, so I use the energy in the writing to be the best and survive among the other great writers.
RL: Your first book, 'The Highs and Lows of a Black Man Journey: My Story to Texas A&M University', did well on the bestsellers' list, outpacing releases by a couple of prominent figures. Can you tell us more about the experience of that achievement?
TS: The Highs and Lows of a Black Man Journey was me showing people my pain, my struggle, and how I wanted to be the first person from my environment, family, and much more to break the cycle of settling for less when I knew I had more to give. It was like a diary to all the races that people like me could do anything they could do if I was giving the same amount of resources etc. I wanted to show diamonds could be produced from rhinestone neighborhoods if given a chance to do great things. So I was showing others to look at life from a different angle while also making the best sellers list and beat out prominent figures. The experience was a great one but didn't equal to more money since I self-published. In fact I felt my publisher owed me more money for accomplishing such a huge thing however I learned the business side of things and made me a better author and person. So the experience was bittersweet because I was becoming known nationwide but I was still broke and confused on why things weren't as I expected.
RL: Tell us about your path in publishing.
TS: Well this answer will be one many people coming after me are going to love and can get some gems from. I reached out to several traditional publishers when I first came up with the idea of publishing a book. I personally knew I had the material to publish traditional however politics blocked that from happening and I had to self publish with AuthorHouse. Being in the industry, I do a lot of research on other authors and publishing companies find it very disrespectful that most traditional publishers give deals to celebrities, people with millions of followers on social media, and most people who do not write their own books. Back in the day it was not about any of those things, it was about the actual material from authors that allowed for traditional publishers to give them a deal and market the material, etc. Now the only ones getting deals don't necessarily have the great content but have the name to sell much like big-time authors such as Robert Greene and Malcolm Gladwell. Most people that are young couldn't tell you how they look but can tell you about their powerful work. AuthorHouse was the company that I choose and I went through them to publish my book even though I felt my material could have been published traditionally.
RL: 'Whatever It Takes to Make It', your second release, conveys a message of absolute self-belief in the face of mitigating circumstances. How did you conceive the story's subject matter, as well as the character of Tyler Pennington?
TS: I have so many unique stories in my head that I can just make into books in one take in which is a gift from god. I created the subject matter by looking at our first African American president Barack Obama and how he went to Harvard. I wanted to create a story that showed people that he is not the only type of African American who could go to an ivy league school. They have individuals that grow up in the "hood" who can go to ivy league schools if they had parents that pushed them and people around them supporting them and helping them realize the potential they have even if they got to break a cycle and do something different than the norm. I wanted this story to motivate all walks of life; for those who didn't have to struggle they could understand it's always someone with less than them that deserve to be where they'are at in life, and the ones who grow up around the struggle it's no excuse to give up because the struggle builds character. The character Tyler Pennington is myself and what I went through trying to go to college and be successful. I just made the book broader and showed my writing skills.
RL: Are there other writers or works that you draw inspiration from?
TS: I do not look at other writers for inspiration, however, I use their writing style as motivation to keep me giving the world more realistic and authentic materials that will always help me stand out in a room full of authors.
RL: How does your work rebel against the status quo?
TS: My work rebels against the status quo because I make people uncomfortable and make them face the truth and harsh reality of what's really going on in the world that's untold. Most authors try to manipulate readers for sales, The Breakfast Club interviewed a big-time author and they actually used those words, however, I don't care if I sell 2 books of 200,000 books because rather someone by my material are not the value and power of my books will always remain. My thinking is different which is a breath of fresh air in today's climate.
RL: What single piece of advice would you give to someone hesitant to go forward with their first book?
TS: The best thing I would tell someone that is hesitant to go forward with their first book is to understand you have nothing to lose. Everything is subjective and your book will not be for everybody so do not worry about people judging your or the critics. The biggest thing to understand is that if you put out a book, do not do it because it seems cool rather do it because you have something to say and if you do, that those who are supposed to read and listen to your message will.
RL: What is your writer's survival kit when it's time to get down to business?
TS: My writer survival kit is just piece and quiet and Microsoft word on my phone. My stories just flow out and I always do the first draft with my heart and raw emotion. Then I try and edit with my mind so basically solitude and my phone and I will make it happen as a writer.
RL: Not only are you very busy with other entrepreneurial endeavors, but you're active in your local community also. Can you tell us more about these additional projects, both creative and community-based?
TS: I do back to school drives every year (this year will be my fourth) where I give away backpacks, hygiene bags, and other supplies to ensure kids in the community have the essential tools they would need to start the school year off right. Also I am working on my second movie which is in pre-production now that I will release to the world independently. My first movie is available on Amazon prime video called "Second Chance by Betrayal" in which I executive produced and starred in as well. Hopefully this year I can start the Whatever It Takes to Make It scholarship that gives a $1000 scholarship to help pay for books.
RL: What can readers expect from you in the future?
TS: My next book called Fortune 500 Dad will be dropping later this year and readers can be on the lookout for it. This book will be powerful and shed light on great dads and breakdown how to be a great dad despite all the odds against us from how the system is designed to failed relationships. This book will put me in another category when done so all my fans and supporters need to know I appreciate them for being so patient.