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After the death of their parents, Derrick and Arriane are whisked away to Maine to live with their aunt. Years later, they find themselves back in their small hometown of Cooper’s Pointe, and residing with their older brother, Lucas. What neither of them knew was that Lucas, who was already slowly heading towards self-destruction when they left, had become far worse than they, or their aunt, could have expected.

Skylar is popular. The idea of popularity has consumed her for years, but the stigma of her past continues to haunt her. When the handsome bully from her younger years- and ex-best friend- comes back into town with a slew of problems of his own, Skylar has to consider her options: get revenge, or learn to forgive?

The Struggle of Me is a touching story highlighting the individual pains of Derrick, Arriane, Skylar, and Lucas. Will they defeat the obstacles that hinder them or will they be defeated by the struggles that bind them.

My review:

“The Struggle of Me” was written by several authors under the Umbrella “Write to Read Project” and it is hard to believe that the segments of the story should have been written by several different authors – so skilled is the editing that it reads just like one story by one author.
17 year old Derrick and his 15 year old sister Arriane come from a dysfunctional family, the details of which we find out more about in the course of the story. Told from changing perspectives we get insight into the thoughts of several characters and we witness how the sibling’s recent move to live with their older brother Lucas alters their life. Derrick struggles to settle in the new school, while it seems that Arriane is happier here, that is until a nasty incident with her addicted brother Lucas.
As to be expected from this premise there is a fair share of teenage angst in this book and despair. One of the achievements is the heartfelt and slightly sad portrayal of the kids’ desire for home and belonging
But, there is also a love interest for Derrick and unexpected support to make this an inspirational and lovely read with a beautiful message of hope that leaves you feel positive and feeling good.
Through the tool of changing narratives and perspectives we can witness different perceptions of the same situation, adding more insight and making this a rewarding reading experience, the sort of book every child from a difficult family background should have read and re-read to not feel alone and hopeless in their situation.
In my eyes this is a great achievement and I hope that many young adults will find access to this story to aid their personal development and healing.
Highly recommended.

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Interview with Chamera Sampson:

Tell us about the “Write to Read Project”, how did that come about?

Towards the end of 2011, I was busy writing away on a book of poetry I was compiling as well as doing a lot of reviewing. It felt good being busy, but I needed to do something that made an impact. For months, I fooled around with ideas for charity projects. I don’t know where the inspiration sparked but I figured it’d be so much fun to start a project for charity in an inventive way.

Write to Read started off as an impulsive idea but the goal was always present. I wanted to make a difference in at least one child’s life. I wanted to help one more person gain a love for reading. Unfortunately, many children are not exposed to enough books to gain that appreciation and I knew I couldn’t be the only one who craved the opportunity to serve and help.

There are several writers just for one story. Who are the writers, how did you all meet and who has the final say?

This project started off with almost twenty people, I believe, and grew to add a few more. So many others not credited for the writing of this story helped us think of plot ideas and posted pictures for inspiration. In the end, The Struggle of Me ended up being penned by seven people, and surprisingly, not all of them have aspirations towards a future in writing.

The writers for this project are, in no particular order, Ressa Empbra, Wanda Hartzenberg , Adeeb F., Alishia Ruly, Tanisha Webb, Diara Williams, and myself, Chamera Sampson.

Ressa, Wanda, and Alishia have been my Facebook friends for several years now. I know each of them in this regard only, though I cherish them and their love of books. Adeeb actually helps out on my young adult book review page, Mera’s YA Book List. It is through reviewing that I know most of them actually.

Only Diara and Tanisha I know in person. They were high school friends (and college as well for Diara) and it thrilled me to no end that they decided to help out.

As for who has the final say, I guess that would be me, though throughout the long, arduous process, I took everyone’s comments in mind.

What was it like to write individual pieces and then glue them back together? Was it a logistic nightmare? Describe the process.

Nightmare? Gently speaking, no. It was instead like a slightly unsettling dream, though there were times when I ended up screaming. I remembered this game I used to play in high school. We’d pass a piece of paper around and each student would write a line. It was amazingly fun for such a simple game. I figured we could almost do the same via the internet. Social media is both a blessing and a curse. It helped us out fantastically however. Each of us wrote parts and labelled them part one, two, etc. There was a time when everything became confusing and just all mixed up, but we figured it out in the end.

When it came to making everything connect and flow as one, after the writing was done, I had to make some hard decisions in cutting out some parts of the story and writing new parts.

Luckily, with the editing, I had lots of help from Ressa and Wanda. Both worked wonders on what I’d already edited and we went over the story so many times. I was lucky to have snagged the two for the project’s writing, as both have experience editing, and we all ended up catching the little mistakes.

Why did you choose the story of a dysfunctional family?

It just sort of happened. When we were discussing plots, the idea of some sort of tragedy taking place in the main characters’ lives was a prominent idea. That started off with death. The problem of drug abuse was at first a secondary conflict but prominently came further into light as we free wrote. I was wary of the topic because I have very close family members who struggle with that problem. I write as an escape and I wasn’t sure how I felt about writing about a problem I see every day, but I’m happy I sucked it up and accepted it into the plot.

We all have a little dysfunction in our families and though the problems Derrick, Arriane, and Lucas face may be on the harsher side, I feel that everyone can relate.

Which charity are the proceeds going to?

Proceeds from Write To Read will be donated to the organization, Reading is Fundamental. I love the organization and what they stand for. Here’s an excerpt from their website as they do a much better job at describing what they do than I possibly could.

Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) is the largest children’s literacy non profit in the United States. We prepare and motivate children to read by delivering free books and literacy resources to those children and families who need them most. We inspire children to be lifelong readers through the power of choice. RIF provides new, free books for children to choose from and make their own. The seeds of inspiration in these books have motivated children to follow their dreams and achieve their potential. Yes, it seems incredible for a book to launch a life, but it happens every day as hungry, inquisitive young minds reach out and grab hold of the new people, places, and ideas that books bring them.”

You can find out more about the organization at rif.org.

Tell us a little about yourself. How did you come to writing in the first place?

I’m a mere 21, but I’ve loved writing since I could handle a pencil and paper correctly. I have journals and old word files filled with writings of my youth and I end up smiling every time I read them. There was never the question of should I write creatively. The question was always, should I do so publicly. Of course, I went for it, and though it’s not supporting me yet, it helps me in so many other ways. Every time, I look at my list of published works, I smile. I know that there is something left of me in this world and no one can ever take it away.

Hopefully, some boy or girl will read this and do the same. My biggest wish is to inspire someone for the better. Hopefully, I’ll be able to do that.

Did much change during the writing process or was the story pre-written and strictly laid down beforehand?

Oh, nothing was pre-written. We all just free- wrote. There was a sort of silent path the story was meant to go, which is while after all of the writing was done, I wrote the ending. But the fact that we didn’t plot out the story at all, really, was what made it so much fun. I think it’s also how so many sensitive topics came into play, because we all put a part of ourselves into the story.

What do you like most about writing and what least?

Most writers would say they love everything, and they dislike nothing. We all know that isn’t the complete truth, especially when you are self-publishing.

Editing is a nightmare. There’s always something that you miss. Somehow, I still manage to love it.
It’s all worth it though because you’re creating these people, these worlds, that others are connecting to. People others are falling in love with and as you’re writing, you realize that you are falling in love too. It’s the best feeling in the world, and I hope I never stop feeling it.

Another thing I love is my writer’s hands. I’m laughing as I write this but I love my hands. They are almost always covered in ink, because I prefer writing on paper with pen, and my fingers, they are very strong.

What is your writing environment like?

Different. I have places where I write but I don’t have a particular place. I write a lot of the time on my bed, laying down with a spiral or composition notebook and a pen. When I’m feeling romantic or stereotypical, I write at the table with only the light of the sun pouring through the windows and a never ending cup of coffee or lemon tea. And when I want to write on the computer I sit at the desktop, challenging myself to sit upright, and I type away, usually with light music playing, something from Adele or Katie Herzig.

What is your writing process like?

I like quiet but when I need to be inspired I play music and take a break. I don’t write the same way every time. One thing that is constant however is that I don’t make full plots. I’ll plot out half of the story or none at all. I like to surprise myself. I just go off of my ideas. That’s how the whole Write To Read idea even started and I now have three titles to my name so I’ll say it’s working pretty good for me.

Who are your cover artists?

I design all of my own covers, including the cover of The Struggle of Me. It can be a struggle finding the stock photos but it’s worth it in the end. I get final say on everything and I follow my thoughts. However, shout outs to the amazing Rue Volley, who captured the beautiful picture of model Shannon Morgan for my poetry book, Dreams, Smiles, and Bloody Tears. Shout outs to Lord Ash Photography for the beautiful picture of model Samah for my recently released novella, In My Face. Shout outs to Julie B. of xstockx for the capture of herself and a male companion for the cover of The Struggle of Me.

I try to find new photographers and models for each new work I do and I’ve been fortunate so far.

Who are your favourite authors?

This list could go on forever. However, I can manage to list just a few. Firstly, Sarah Dessen. She writes in a style that will always be seen as beautiful. She inspired me as a young teen and she often touches on subjects that hold an emotional value for me. Then, Sonya Sones, who writes in verse. I have plans for several novels in verse and she is my inspiration.

Then, there’s Cassie Clare, new to my list, there’s poet Pablo Neruda, Stephanie Perkins, Aprilynne Pike, Kelley Armstrong, and of course, William Shakespeare. This list would be way too long to continue.

What and / which book would you take on a lonely island?

Just one? How can I ever decide? Can I bring my Kindle?

Who are your favourite indie authors?

Love this question! Can I say myself? Just kidding, but I have to say Nadege Richards, Alivia Anders, Sarah M. Ross.

I love these girls! I’ve been big into NA lately and I love Tammara Webber’s Easy. I’m in love with the writing of Dalya Moon, Anna Adams, and Tess Oliver. In fact, I love them so much that I would Kindle lend my copies of their works to anyone who asked.

What are you reading at the moment?

I just finished “Destined” by Aprilynne Pike last night. It scares me how she writes. I sometimes thinks she knows about a secret world of fae and trolls.

This morning, I finished “Between Friends” by Amanda Cowen for an upcoming blog tour, and today, I’m going to start Abby McDonald’s YA novel, “Getting Over Garrett Delaney”.

What else would you like us to know about you and your projects?

Mainly, I want everyone to know that I write not only for myself but also for them, and I have no plans of stopping anytime soon.

For The Struggle of Me I want everyone to know that I hope they buy it, even over all of my other works. I’d love to be able to at the end of these two years, hand RIF a big fat check to buy new books for children.

Also, The Struggle of Me and In My Face are only .99 cents for e-readers. Dreams, Smiles, and Bloody Tears is only 1.99.

What are you working on right now?

I have two projects I’m working on publishing this year. One is a fantastical, action novel that I’ve been working on for about two years entitled Wanted and the other is a slightly paranormal, contemporary novel (it makes sense in my head) entitled Inked. Coincidently, both of these could fit into the New Adult category, not because of overly sexy scenes but because the main characters are all around my age, and are trying to find themselves. I began writing them both before NA became as popular as it is now. I’m hoping everyone will love these two projects. I have lots of other things started but it’s too early to mention them all. I can however mention that I am also working on a YA novel in verse, entitled Plain Jane, about a high school girl who feels like she’s less than she actually is. Also, the second Write To Read project will be a collection of poetry from a lot of different writers and is as of now untitled. It should be out this year.

When and where will we be hearing about it?

You can find out about all of these projects and more on my author blog, Chamera Writes at

http://chamerawrites.blogspot.com/

Short Biography:

Chamera Sampson was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1992. An avid reader, she always had a fond love of the written word. From an early age, her love manifested into poems, stories, and plays. She is a book reviewer and blogger for Mera’s YA Book List, and loves talking to other book fanatics. She is currently attending university in her hometown. When she is not writing or doing course work, she reads, blogs, and makes silly videos with her friends and siblings for Youtube.

LINKS:

FACEBOOK- https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chamera-M-Sampson/285850854776844?ref=tn_tnmn

AMAZON- http://www.amazon.com/Chamera-M-Sampson/e/B008L3M7FE/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_3?qid=1368469031&sr=1-3

GOODREADS- http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5822550.Chamera_Sampson

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