Earlier this spring, KYA Publishing & Toronto Urban Book Expo (TUBE) founder, Stacey Robinson and international Speaker, Author, Poet, Resume Wizard, to name a few, and ElevatedWaves Publishing founder, Jameel Davis, gathered in Toronto, ON for a weekend, to collaborate the planning for the 5th Annual Toronto Urban Book Expo, which was held on Friday August 3rd at Toronto Public Library’s Parkdale Branch, during Toronto’s Simcoe Day weekend (also the weekend of the annual Toronto Caribbean Carnival).
The Toronto Urban Book Expo, “highlights published and self-published urban writers and their books—it also features publishers of urban fiction, and guests from the Canadian literary and international urban cultural communities, selling Canadian Urban Fiction, African-American Fiction, Caribbean Fiction, Multicultural Literature, Motivational Texts, Autobiographies, and Diverse Children’s Books,” said KYA Publishing founder, Stacey.
During the collaboration meeting with Robinson, Davis agreed to host this year’s expo and suggested the weekend consist of more than just a book fair for literacy lovers. “It should be a retreat.” The Toronto Carnival Retreat , in connection with the 51st Annual Caribbean Festival Parade, better known as Caribana. I’ll coordinate it,” said Davis.
“The Retreat can run August 1st-6th. I can arrange for attendees to attend a Caribbean Lunch, Party Cruises, Writing Workshops, Music Festivals, Nightlife and more. This would be something fresh and exciting for KYA Publishing and the Toronto Community, as well as for traveling Canadians/Americans.”
Stacey, who was thrilled with the idea, agreed to move forward with the Toronto Carnival Retreat.
“Not only will this year’s event, feature published and independent writers selling their books at a free and family-friendly book fair with Live hip hop, R&B, reggae, and soca provided by Toronto’s DJ Majesty, but attendees of the Book Expo will now be able to experience a range of other activities with ElevatedWaves Publishing, while they celebrate the 5th year of the event.” Said Stacey.
During the weekend, Robinson chaperoned Davis around the city of Toronto, touring the CN Tower, Toronto City Hall, The Real Jerk (one of Toronto’s most popular Caribbean restaurants, prominently featured in Rihanna’s music video featuring Drake), Air Canada Centre (home of the Toronto Raptors & the Toronto Maple Leafs), Rogers Centre (home of the Toronto Blue Jays) and the Parkdale Library, home of the 5th Annual Toronto Urban Book Expo.
“This partnership with KYA Publishing is a great way for ElevatedWaves Publishing to integrate with the Canadian cultural community, and also encourage my American peers to expand their reach as well’, said Davis during his meeting with KYA Publshing.
“ElevatedWaves is a great partner for the Toronto Urban Book Expo,” said KYA Publishing founder Stacey Marie Robinson. “Both companies are dedicated to celebrating writers, celebrating culture, and by joining forces it will only make the weekend more fulfilling for all participants!”
Before heading back home to Cleveland, OH (United States), Robinson, arranged for Davis to appear on Vibe105TO “VIBE DRIVE” with I AM Chris Dubbs, to speak on his Love for Toronto, the Caribbean Culture, the Toronto Urban Book Expo and his published work. Click Here for Video.
The Toronto Carnival Retreat
Through his newly established collaboration with KYA Publishing, Davis returned to Toronto, on Wednesday August 1, 2018, to begin what he said to be, the Toronto Carnival Retreat. Guests, kicked off the retreat with Jus Blaize at his official Caribana Celebration Event, Wednesday On the Roof at Rebel Toronto Complex.
Captured in this video created by Davis, is former professional boxer, three time world heavyweight champion, Lennox Lewis.
The Toronto Author Seminar
After a full day (Thursday) of social media blasting and street hustling (promoting) for the Toronto Urban Book Expo, Davis arrived to Parkdale Branch Library early Friday morning, to setup for the Toronto Author Seminar he coordinated that afternoon before the Expo.
“There are many writers and individuals who aspire to become authors and don’t know where to start. There are also those, who have started the process and don’t know how to finish, as well as those who have finished work, but who are struggling with marketing their work and attracting readers. The Toronto Author Seminar was created for those individuals,” said Davis. “I have inspired and helped many people across the world to become authors and it’s only fair that I help those in Toronto who wish to have their own book in their hand.”
Toronto based writer and author of Deeper Reflections of Life, Stacey Ann Berry, reached out to Davis and asked to co-present the Toronto Author Seminar with him. Berry, a phenomenal woman to work with said Davis, was able to share her remarkable publishing experience and provide Key Toronto-based-resources to seminar attendees, which Davis didn’t have direct access to being that he’s an American. On her new Instagram account Deeper Reflections of Life, Stacey provided a list of eight key takeaways from the seminar:
- Don’t focus on making a sale, make an impact and build connections with key people.
- Your personal story sells your book
- Document what you love to do
- Take readers on your journey
- Use a publishing platform that is suitable for your book
- Be impactful and intentional
- Use your creativity to market and brand your book
- Hire a great editor and graphic designer
The Toronto Urban Book Expo
Hosted by Jameel Davis, This year’s, TUBE welcomed over 40 writers from Canada and the United States, both young and emerging, who displayed their talent, connected with diverse readers and networked with other writers, said Stacey M. Robinson. “It was a great opportunity and experience for black authors.”
Featured Speaker, Andrée Vernon BEd, MEd, Education influencer, Life Coach and Author, captivated the audience with her life changing story and inspiration behind becoming a writer. Davis, assisted writers at their stations and invited as many as fifteen writers to participate in the Open-Mic/Author Pitch Session he conducted.
“You would be surprised, how many authors refused to participate because of their fear of public speaking,” said Davis.
“When I first published my book “How Success Became My Focus ,” all I did was sit behind the table, hoping someone would come along and pick up my book. Not only because I was afraid, but because that’s what I thought I was suppose to do after attending book signings and witnessing other authors do the same.”
After a while, I lost interest in being part of book expos and hosting book signings, because very few people would come to my table. I often wondered why.
As I continued to write, working on my next book and writing poetry, I was invited out to recite one of my poems at an open mic event here in Cleveland, OH a couple summers back.
Although. I was already relatively known because of my service to the community and because I am a great writer, I was afraid to recite (without reading) my poem in front of the large crowd. It’s a tough thing to do. I soon built up the courage and recited my first spoken-word piece titled, “I Don’t Deserve To Be Shot Down,” which corresponds with my book, How Success Became My Focus. The poem had touched everyone in the room deeply and I received a standing ovation from the audience.
Leaving the stage, the woman in charge of the event, Juanita Brent, approached me and asked if I could attend poets only night the following week as a featured poet, and if so she would compensate me. I agreed, I went and I delivered.
My career as a speaker and poet began after that moment. Schools, organizations and radio stations have been requesting my presence ever since and I have been selling copies of my books without having to physically promote them.
I decided to incorporate the Open Mic and Author Pitch Session into the Expo as a way to get authors from behind their table and to get them in the habit of public speaking. Someone had encouraged me to use my voice and I now live to encourage others to use theirs.
The expo ran from 4:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M., I only sat down for 10 seconds.
Many authors are just how I started out. Trapped behind a table, afraid to speak.
I shared with authors that, “stories sell, not your product(s) or service. You can have the largest banner and the most attractive book cover and readers will walk by you.
If you are a fiction writer, who is speaking for your characters in your book? How can I as a reader, know they are in there?
If you are a self-help writer, How can I as a reader, know that you have information in your book that can help me personally, if you are just showing me your title and cover?
As writer looking to expand your reach, you must come out of your comfort zone and speak. Public Speaking is an essential part of your career as an author.
Here is what KYA Publishing and Stacey Robinson had to say about Davis on their instagram page, after having him as a partner for the 5th Annual Toronto Urban Book Expo:
“This brother right here is full of wisdom, talent, and creativity and we are SO grateful that he has collaborated with us! Originating from #ClevelandOhio, Jameel has been a positive force within the #KyaPublishing team and has brought a vibrant energy that we are grateful to have access to!!
We look forward to continuing to work with Jameel, his company @ElevatedWaves, and watching our Literary Community grow. THANK YOU Jameel for everything: you are a true professional and an inspiration!!
51st Annual Caribbean “Caribana” Festival Parade
More than a million tourists from across North America visited Toronto to take part in the Caribbean Festival Parade. It was only Venom Carnival’s (band) second year “On The Road” of the Grand Parade and they placed 5th in the internationally known island-themed celebration and Band Competition.
Lisa Fraser, there are several Bands that take part in the Grand Parade every year and each band have themed sections with dancers “playing mas,” which requires partakers to be clad in colorful, bedazzled costumes. They each represent a particular theme, often related to nature, Caribbean history or Caribbean mythology, showcasing things like distinct birds, flowers and native tribes. The sounds of calypso music, along with its more racy and rambunctious cousin, soca, a blend that fuses East Indian and African beats, and chutney, which utilizes traditional East Indian rhythms, waft out from the speakers of trucks that lead the way for the parade floats showcasing each individual mas camp’s theme. Masquerade players dance on and around the trucks, lead mas players walk front and center showing off their one-of-a-kind costumes.
Each band and their masqueraders are judged by their creativity when they cross the judges section.
On the Road with Venom Carnival Band and the Frolick Mas section, was Jameel Davis. Intrigued with how the annual event is pieced together, from the bands and their masqueraders, creation of costumes and floats, to customized semi trucks with loud speakers and Caribbean food, Davis was able to witness first hand, the meat and potatoes of caribana thanks to his newly established partnership with Stacey Robinson, social media manager for Frolick. With his newly found passion for video recording, Davis was able to capture warehouse footage where the costumes and floats were being created and was able to capture captivating moments from the road for Venom Carnival and Frolick Mas.
West Indian Food
”Would you like some breakfast”? A West Indian woman asked Davis, on the afternoon of the Caribbean Festival, while touring the Parade assembly area for bands and their masquerades. Sure, what kind of breakfast you have? Pancakes and Bananas? He replied. “You must be from the states,” she said in return. No, our breakfast is for the drinkers, it keeps them full for a very long time. They can drink as much as they want after they eat our breakfast. Davis said, sure, I’ll have some. How much? $7.00 CDN she replied.
After two hours of sleep the night before and having to be at the meeting location for Frolick Mas by 8:00 A.M., Davis was ready to chow down on some West Indian cuisine: Soy Fish, Plantains, Green Bananas and Dumpling.
“She wasn’t lying, I was full for the rest of the parade, which ended around 6:00 P.M.”
Float Boat Cruise
To wrap up his long week in Toronto and before heading back to Cleveland the following day, Davis took sail on the Northern Spirit for the FLOAT BOAT PARTY CRUISE. The Northern Spirit is one of the largest vessels in Toronto and a favourite choice to comfortably entertain large groups on her three beautiful decks.
Davis enjoyed breath taking views of the Toronto Harbourfront and Toronto skyline, while vibing on the top deck of the sold out cruise ship. He enjoyed the sounds of R&B, Pop, HipHop & Soca music, played by two of Toronto’s core Djs, one on the top deck and one on the second deck.
“I haven’t been on an actual party cruise in a long time. I mean, I’ve been on the Good Time III and Nautica Queen in Cleveland. But it’s, nothing like the FLOAT BOAT cruise on the Northern Spirit. It was a beautiful and fun experience. The people welcomed me with open arms and smiles. I felt free.” Said Davis.
What an incredible collaboration and experience for Kya Publishing , Stacey Robinson, Jameel Davis and ElevatedWaves Publishing, for the Toronto Carnival Retreat featuring the @TorontoUrbanBookExpo.
ElevatedWaves Publishing, was able to achieve our goal of meeting new members of the Canadian writing community, connect with our new and existing Canadian/American readers and get involved with the entertainment and arts community. KYA Publishing and Stacey Robinson, made this possible. We are truly grateful of her and her organization, and happy that she trusted us with the execution of her wonderful literacy event.
A special thank you to Venom Carnival/Frolick Mas for taking us on the road with them for the “Grand Parade” and for allowing us to capture highlights of the (Caribana/Caribbean Festival). We look forward to them having us next year.
Toronto Urban Book Expo Participants; Speakers, Writers, Readers, Volunteers, Media, Parkdale Library, thank you all for allowing us to be your host, we look forward to crossing paths with you in the near future. You all are beautiful works of art and we Love you truly. We wish you well in all of your future Endeavors.
“If Money Is The Motivation, Then What’s The Reward?” And If you don’t speak for the characters in your book, who will?
Until Next Time — Jameel
To the City of Toronto, thank you for having such a beautiful city and for treating us as if we were your own. We will be visiting again soon. Not just for your Caribbean Festival. Thanks for having us.