Saturday, November 22, 2014

READING REVELRY

So, I’m on writing hiatus. I needed a break, some serious time away. The last week has been a non-plotting, non-spellchecking, non-#wheretoplantakiss thinking week. And I desperately needed it. I used the time to catch up on some reading. Well into the first book I realized how much I missed reading. I know that moving forward I need to do a better job of scheduling reading time between the writing times.

I started my reading revelry with The Sound of My Life bySuzette R. Hinton. It’s the inspiring, autobiographical journey of Ms. Hinton’s quest to find her voice. Through personal insights, using the analogy of sound, her story encourages everyone to examine their lives and tune into the sound of their authentic voice. It was eye-opening, a quick read, and indicative of the author’s energy and spirit.
I moved on to As I Live and Breathe by Cassandra BakerDurham. I absolutely adore Cassandra and consider her a friend so I was excited for this story and it did not disappoint. It’s the story of a young woman’s healing journey as she survives kidnapping and rape and regains her life, learning to love again. The story is grounded on a foundation of family and faith and was a delightful read.

My next book was Forty Acres by Dwayne Alexander Smith. New to the publishing game, this is Mr. Smith’s first book and he has clearly made his literary mark! It was a gripping political suspense thriller, profoundly thought-provoking with a plot that was unique, dark and disturbing. I loved it!

I then took three days to catch up on Jasmine Cox Larson Bush and Rachel Jackson Adams. Authors Victoria Christopher Murray and ReShondaBillingsley have done it again with their third collaboration Fortune & Fame, reminding us why we love these church first ladies. Although I’m not quite sure I like Rachel. Just when I think I do she does something that grates on my nerves! It took me three days because I decided to re-read Sinners & Saints when I realized I hadn’t read the second installment Friends & Foes. It was great reading that kept me smiling. For me, when it comes to faith-based writing these two women lead the pack.

Last night I closed the book on SINergy by Iris Bolling. This one had me ignoring Big Daddy, MeeMi’s sweet baby, and a long list of things I needed to accomplish. This is the first book in her Brooks Family Values series and all I can say is I love everything about this this family. Iris brought some serious drama topped with some steamy passion. Adept at painting a detailed picture for her readers, I can already see this one on the big screen!


Walter Mosley’s Rose Gold is next on my reading list. After that I want to read Driven by the Drama by Val Daye. Then it’s back to the writing grind. I have to start thinking about my meeting my next deadline. Until then, I plan to thoroughly enjoying my hiatus. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY'S BEST OF 2014

So excited to share that my novel, CRAVING TEMPTATION has been selected as one of Publishers Weekly's Best Books of 2014!
 
 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

TWELVE DAYS OF PLEASURE

IT'S RELEASE DAY!! GET YOU COPY NOW!!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

ARTWORK FOR SALE

I once told an artist friend that her work couldn't sell if she didn't ever show it. I need to take my own advice. I love to paint. It relieves my stress and helps me to write. One of my most favorite people in the whole wide world use to encourage my efforts. I use to love being her student. I aspire to one day be as good. So, here it all is and it's for SALE!
 







Wednesday, October 08, 2014

SLUT

I have Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. They are part of my marketing strategy and keep me connected to friends, family, and book fans. Since I stepped up my participation I’ve been “friended” by a number of men. Most are respectful, no malice or ill-intent associated with their connecting. A very select few have actually become great friends that I have much respect for.

Several have “messaged” me to tell me how pretty or beautiful I am. One or two have asked to be “good” friends, wanting to converse about my likes and their own interests. Two men out of Africa were hoping to find a wife. And one or two individuals have just wanted to be my sugar daddy or in one case he was looking for a sugar mama. Typically, once I make it clear that I have a Big Daddy and neither they nor I will ever disrespect my favorite guy, we have no problems.

And then there is that one. I connected with this person on Facebook and only after seeing that he was “friends” with others I was associated with. His first message was nondescript, a simple “hello”. My response was short and sweet, hello back and a line of appreciation for connecting. After that I ignored most of his messages since he didn’t seem capable of taking the hint that I wasn’t interested in what he was offering. And since his messages weren’t frequent I mostly forgot that he existed. Until today.

Today he messaged me with one word: SLUT. Did this fool really just call me a SLUT? And here is where I had some issues.

This man clearly doesn’t know me. He doesn’t know that on the wrong day had he been standing in front of me when he uttered that word that he might have actually lost a testicle. He doesn’t know that my own tongue can be viperous and I would have had no problems verbally castrating him. He doesn’t have a clue that I’m the wrong woman he would want to disrespect because I no longer sit passively by and allow a man to throw barbs at me for his own selfish pleasure. I’m not the woman he wants to play that game with. He will lose and in ways that he can’t begin to fathom.

But then, I wanted to know more about this individual who didn’t think twice about calling me out of my name and so I went to his Facebook page. He is located in the Middle East. His page is filled with racist propaganda against women and others not of his religion. Most of his postings needed to translated and truth be told, knowing what is going on in the world today, his rhetoric might be considered suspect.

We are no longer “friends”. I have blocked him completely but not before sharing one last short and sweet message with him.

I am a wife and mother and grandmother. I love God and although I sometimes struggle with my faith and occasionally fall short, I strive to live a virtuous life. I am a writer. I love what I do and I work hard to do it well. My husband and my sons would not appreciate you calling me a SLUT, any more than you would like some stranger calling your mother or your sister or your wife a bad name. Then again, you might not care. Keep your testicle…this time. Next time trust that you might not be so lucky.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

NO LONGER AN OPTION

In February of this year Ray Rice, a 27-year old professional football player with the Baltimore Ravens assaulted his fiancĂ©e, Janay Palmer, in a hotel elevator. Rice was arrested and subsequently indicted for third-degree aggravated assault.  Not long after Rice and Palmer were married, Rice entered a pretrial diversionary program, avoiding jail time and the NFL gave Rice a two-game suspension for his bad behavior.

After initial outrage over what many deemed a simple slap on the wrist, the league subsequently revised its policy regarding how it will handle future domestic violence cases. And then video tape of the incident became available to the public. People were outraged to see Palmer punched so viciously and the NFL had to do some serious back pedaling. Rice’s contract was subsequently terminated and the NFL has suspended him indefinitely.
 
Comments on social media have run the gamut. Some have said Palmer deserved it for provoking Rice. Others believe castration would be a more fitting punishment than suspension. Everyone and their mother has tossed in their two-cents expressing everything from support to outrage and moral indignation.

I personally do not believe that was the first time Rice has hit Palmer. Nor was it the last. Like many women in abusive relationships Palmer has since come to the defense of her man, claiming the media is at fault for blowing this all out of proportion. She even apologized publically for her actions related to the initial assault. She has proclaimed Rice a good man who should not suffer the hurt and shame they are now going through. I don't know if Rice is a good man or not. I know he punched the woman he claimed to love in the face and then dragged her out of an elevator. I also know that if it had not been caught on camera we would not be having this conversation because Janay Palmer would never have told. 

It breaks my heart to see so many young women who accept a man's bad behavior without question. We are not teaching our young women that they have value that extends past their private parts. Nor are we getting the message across that they don’t have to settle for relationships where they are blatantly disrespected or abused. If young girls today think it’s okay for a man to put his hands on them, or for them to put their hands on a man, then we are failing them all. If a woman doesn’t know and understand that love isn’t supposed to hurt then she is being taught the wrong lessons. And if we are saying those things and they still are not hearing or learning those lessons then we need to shout it louder and say it more often.

My late grandmother was never short on relationship advice. She would quote one adage after another.
  • A man can only treat you the way you allow him to.
  • Throw a punch at a man if you want but don’t be surprised if he punches back.
  • If you don’t believe you deserve better, then how will he?
  • A man only has to hit you one time. Then all you have to do is wait for him to fall asleep. (My personal favorite!)
Grandma’s advice made a whole lot of sense until I had to put it into practice. I discovered early on that maneuvering a relationship with an abusive partner is like maneuvering a minefield with a ton of weights. Every step is potentially dangerous. And every step is petrifying. And every so often that step can come with no repercussions at all. As I think back though, what my grandmother never said was that it's okay to leave. And leaving isn't failure. And his issues are not your issues.

But women in abusive relationships stay. They readily dismiss those moments when harsh words, or a vicious slap leaves them broken and battered. They stay in situations others would turn and run from. They defend bad behavior and continue to love their abusers, believing that things and people can change. And an abused woman can justify a man’s bad behavior as if her life depends on it because sometimes it does. Right or wrong some women will stay. I know I did. I stayed until staying was no longer an option.

I wrote a book once about a man who was abusive and the woman he abused. There’s a passage where someone asks “Why do you think she stays?” And the matriarch answers.
“At first, she stayed because she was scared. Angelette won’t nothing but a baby when Graye bought her home. Y’all know that. Came here running from something, thinking that Graye was going to make it all better. Then she stayed cause she loved him. Problem was she hadn’t done enough living to really know what love was. Just knew that Graye wasn’t as dark as what she’d been running from befo’. Thought that was love. After a while she just stayed cause this was all she knew. She knew what to expect. Knew what to do, when to do it, and if it got messed up, she knew how to fix it. Now…now, she stay cause she don’t have any other choice. Graye done beat all her choices out from under her and she think she ain’t got none left.”
Palmer will stay because she's still young. She will stay because she loves him. She will stay because it's all she knows. She will stay because she thinks she can fix it when it breaks. She will stay because she hasn't yet learned that she deserves better. She will stay until staying is no longer an option. 

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

THE BUSINESS OF WRITING...MY WAY


 
I am getting back to the business of writing. And I’m not talking about the marketing or the editing or those details that enable the craft. I mean I’m getting back to the business of being vulnerable, of opening myself up and allowing all my shit to spill out onto paper. Lately, writing has been a host of challenges. More times than not I find myself dealing with deadlines that tax my creative spirit. Or editorial comments that have transformed my words and my story into something that no longer feels like it belongs to me. When the writing has needed to be cotton-candy like and tied with a pretty pink bow. That kind of writing has been more the norm lately than not. And I’m consciously making the decision to leave it all behind for a while.
I live to write stories that are haunting to one’s spirit. Stories that linger like the sweetest memory of times long lost. I need to get back to the business of writing that put me here in the first place. I need to spin words that might be dirty and ugly, speaking truth that touches someone’s heart in a way no other words before have. Stories that come in damaged boxes, with torn paper, and no pretty bow at all.
My books Rested Waters and Graye are those kind of stories. Both are tales that dig deep holes and will take you places you’d prefer not to go. Stories with characters that are flawed and endings that aren’t neat and perfect.
I need to write what’s in my heart because there’s a story pulling hard at my spirit, determined to be told. So I’m getting back to the business of writing...my way.