Friday, April 03, 2015


I loved the show EMPIRE starring Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard. Everything about the weekly program was on point, from the storylines to the music and casting. But as I sit here re-watching the season finale, I can’t help but think that the writing team got something horribly wrong.

EMPIRE wasn't just a rags to riches story. It wasn't just a story about one man’s or one woman’s drive for power. It was a show about family dynamics. We were rooting for Cookie AND Lucious. We wanted to see Cookie reconnect with her sons, to be the mother incarceration denied her.  We were excited to have Cookie reclaim her man and her position as the family matriarch. And then just like that, the writers snatched that from us, leaving us wanting more...and better.

They got it wrong. Without a doubt, Cookie and Lucious should be our television Barack and Michelle. They should be that power couple kicking ass and taking names as they fight tooth and nail with and for each other and not against each other. There should have been no doubts about Cookie having Lucious' back, even as she put a pillow over his face, frustrated and disappointed with his bad behavior. Cookie should be Lucious’ queen and even with his dirt, he shouldn’t have had any problems letting her, us, and everyone else know it.

With EMPIRE’s massive following, this should be the golden opportunity to demonstrate the sheer power of a black family standing together on that foundation of family, even as they pursue their individual ambitions. We applauded Cookie for beating the disrespect out of her wayward son and we would have applauded her beating the disrespect out of her man. Because Lucious Lyons is HER man, heart and soul, and viewers will always come back for a good love story, anxiously waiting for however many happy endings we can get.

As the writer’s sit around the table, hashing out next season’s story lines I pray that they turn things around and put EMPIRE back on track. They need to get it right. Cookie and Lucious are the fictional BeyoncĂ© and Jay-Z, the black Romeo and Juliet, a modern-day Mark Antony and Cleopatra, and I really want to see them joined in hand and heart, conquering life together, even in those moments when they might be apart.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


Friday, June 26, 2015 at 6:00 PM - 

Saturday, June 27, 2015 at 11:30 PM (EDT)

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Friday, March 06, 2015


Quality television is back and in full force. Shonda Rhimes presented one of the best, most thought provoking episodes of Scandal Thursday night. It was epic and jaw-dropping and I’d wager that there wasn’t a dry eye as the closing credits ran across the screen. Shonda Rhimes is a beast! She had many of us caught up in our feelings as we sat on the edge of our seats to see how the storyline would play out and how our beloved Olivia Pope would fix what was broke. And for all the naysayers, Shonda is proof positive that black, female writers can tell stories that appeal to the masses. She’s been doing it since the first episode of Grey’s Anatomy and with the success of Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder, I don’t see her stopping any time soon.

Then there’s Mari Brock Akil and the success of her show, Being Mary Jane. Much like I follow ABC faithfully on Thursdays, I’m a BET addict on Tuesdays, catching up with the antics of Mary Jane Paul played by Gabrielle Union. It’s a different kind of vibe and Mari brings a whole other voice to her stories. But just like Shonda, Mari is doing her thing!

And now the men have jumped into the fold! Lee Daniels has a whole nation fiending for his Empire on Wednesdays. Empire is breaking the bank with its numbers and those who haven’t declared themselves #TeamCookie are far and few! I can only imagine the withdrawal when the season finale eventually airs.

John Ridley, of Twelve Years a Slave fame, has now added American Crime to the lineup. Ridley is giving us a crime drama that is sure to have folks talking around the water cooler as he deals with race, class and gender politics head on. Ridley’s anthology has already been met with wide acclaim from critics. It is superb storytelling with award-worthy acting. The first episode had me caught up and yelling at the television screen. Thursday nights just keep getting better and better!

Quality television is definitely back and in full force! We are getting stories that not only pull at our heartstrings but stories that have a whole lot of us rooting for actors of color and stories that are putting black writers in the television writing rooms once dominated by white males. I can only hope that television is just the tip of the iceberg and movies aren't too far behind. Then maybe, just maybe, they’ll move the books by black authors off those two shelves in the back of the bookstore and put them front and center at the door when readers walk in. Too much writing talent is going unrecognized in the literary world and just like what’s happening now in television, I would really like to see that change. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015



    Advance Praise for PLAYING WITH FIRE

    “At the heart of this narrative is a two-pronged love story. One is a standard romance; the other is an absentee father’s role in his son’s life…But at its core, this is a page turner that will please and, hopefully, lead to a follow-up. The characters are compelling, the heartbreak is palpable and the tension runs high.” – RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars

    “Mello delivers a fascinating tale of family deception while looking inside the soul of a man who grew up without a father.” – Publishers Weekly

    "Mello lives up to her reputation of providing quality reading material. Curl up with a cup of hot chocolate, tissues, a blanket and get lost in Romeo's story as he is PLAYING WITH FIRE in more ways than one." - Romance in Color

    "Ms. Mello has a gorgeous vocabulary used to describe the many delicious hues of skin we encounter in the story. Cocoa-kissed complexions and dark chocolate draped muscles make for enjoyable, moist and artistic reading." - Romance and Smut

Sunday, February 22, 2015


This past Saturday I celebrated my birthday and the release of my next book, Playing with Fire. As I make my way home I had to take a moment to acknowledge some very special people who helped make the entire weekend a major success.

First and foremost, my heartfelt gratitude to all the fans and readers who took time out of their busy schedules to come hang out with me. Thank you! Your support has been a blessing and I know that if it were not for each and every one of you buying and reading my books I wouldn't be where I am today.

I have to shout out Ms. Cynthia Culp-Miller, sister-friend extraordinaire. From start to finish, Ms. Cynthia has been a formidable force to be reckoned with. The unofficial President of the official Deborah Mello Book Club, this woman knows how to make things happen, and when my anxiety level was at an all-time high, nervous energy pitting my stomach, she was a rock. She kept me smiling and standing and her generous spirit just makes my heart sing! I consider it an honor and a privilege to call her my friend.

I have to thank all the family and friends who showed up to party with me. Your presence was a blessing and I am immensely grateful for your support. I have much love for all my cousins and aunties who rallied the troops and came dragging friends along with them.

Gratitude also to Mr. Sam Yi and the staff at Churchill Grounds Jazz Bar. Your Southern hospitality went above and beyond expectation. The evening was absolutely incredible and the performance by Matt White and the Super Villian Jazz Band was a memorable moment. As well, much appreciation to everyone at the Crowne Plaza Midtown Atlanta. From sales to housekeeping everyone was so gracious and kind and all of my guests were made to feel at home.

And I have to give a little wink-wink to Big Daddy! It’s amazing what can be accomplished with the perfect partner and companion by my side! I love you immensely and value your opinion like no one's business! 

Playing with Fire will be officially released this Tuesday, February 24, 2015. Everything golden about this weekend is embodied in Romeo Marshall’s story. It’s a tale of friendship, family, and love against a backdrop of beautiful music! I really hope you’ll buy a copy and I look forward to hearing what you all think.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


I am all things Empire, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, and Being Mary Jane. And recently someone asked me why I’m so obsessed with television’s new hit shows.

I’ve read the pundits who cry foul, outraged at the perceived stereotypical representations of these black women. There has been the usual outrage and admonishments, some even boycotting the productions to prove their point. And although I can relate and take some of those comments to heart, I am still an avid fan and supporter of all four shows.

Why? Because I know that Cookie Lyon does not represent every black woman in America. Neither does Olivia Pope or Mary Jane Paul or Annalise Keating. But these characters and the black women who portray them do represent facets of the African-American culture and the diversity of our spirits. But most importantly they represent women who have rarely been showcased on mainstream television. They are black females in varying forms of regalia. They are characters who cross the spectrum of intelligence, socio-economic status and who deride the previous stereotypes of black women who were once portrayed as asexual mammies. They are formidable characters who have people sitting up and taking notice and engaging in conversations about how we want to be defined, if it is necessary to define us at all.

I support these shows because suddenly black actors are being gainfully employed. Black writers are being given a voice, their works playing out for mainstream America to see and read. We have a presence where just mere months ago there was none, the complaints then being that there were no black women on our screens to even think about critiquing or criticizing. And they come with stories that actually bear emotional weight and resonate of a human experience.

Much like black romance, black female characters are rarely seen as credible. With books, black romance novels are relegated to those three shelves in the back of the book stores because it’s assumed that no one is interested in reading about black love, if our audiences can read at all. And if we don’t get read then why bother to publish us in mass numbers? Readers and writers of black stories would whole-heartedly disagree and argue that putting us in the front of the store, on more than one shelf, would quickly prove those assumptions wrong.

So I support these shows because I know that to not do so will quickly bring us back to television where black women don’t exist, the anomaly only talked about. Where stories about black women and their experiences aren’t being told. When seeing characters who look like me and my black sisters is a rarity and not a norm. If people aren’t watching then the assumption will be the same as that of black romance novels so why should television executives bother. It’s not perfect, but then nothing ever is. And there will always be someone with more complaints than praise. You just can’t make everyone happy.

And the talent! How can you not acknowledge the talent that Taraji P. Henson, Kerry Washington, Gabrielle Union, and Viola Davis are bringing to the table? We’re getting characters who have dimension! They’re richly layered and are being played with professional nuances that are without doubt, award-worthy. These women are playing these roles, giving us the good and the bad of themselves to make us either love or hate the women they are portraying. They are invoking emotion that has the twitter-sphere blazing and critics castigating. They are not going unnoticed and I think that’s a very good thing.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015