Sunday, December 24, 2006

December 24, 2006: Happy Holidays to You From the Bahamas!

The announcement that I spend Christmas in the Bahamas is generally followed by a cavalcade of folks hatin' on a sistah. Yes, as I look out the window, I see palm trees swaying in a gentle breeze. I've traded in my winter coat for a deliciously brief --but not obscene -- sundress. Last night, I got re-acquainted with my friends Bacardi Anejo and Coke at a house party. So, on the surface, it seems like I've got it made in the shade.

However, I tell folks please, don't envy me. The holidays are the holidays. And you know what I mean. Small wonder that more Swedes tend to kill themselves during the holidays than at any other time throughout the year. Just one of those useless factoids you learn in college. Just how you go home to your folks and get grilled, trust me, the same thing happens to me. Only it's warmer here. My relatives still expect me to bring home "a nice boy" and give me "The Face" when I arrive empty-handed. I keep getting asked, "So Wendy, is this 'The Year.'" I know they don't mean The Year of Living Dangerously. Instinctively, I know they're asking if the new year is the year that I'd actually settle down. I'm getting it especially now that I turn forty in three days. Aunts tend to say, "Gyal, don't eat too much peas and rice. Man don't like woman who too fat." My mother tends to supervise the installation ofanything electronic that I bring home, not letting the fact that she is the least technical person on the planet to get in the way.

I say this to say that "The Family Coakley"and "The Family Thompson" is more or no less dysfunctional than The Family Stone, one of my recent favorite Christmas movies. The older I get, the more I come to love and appreciate my family's quirks and well-meaning comments. Because the truth of the matter is, I am unmarried. I do weigh more than I would like to. Invariably (as much as I hate to admit it sometimes), I do get something valuable out of my mother's seemingly endless critiques. And I'm sure if I died in the house, someone in my large-ass family would find me and mourn me. I don't really get that in America. America can be very big and sometimes rather impersonal for a single Black female.

So, as you guys make your way home for the holidays, believe me when I say that I know that, geography aside, your relatives are going to tax your patience. They're going to make you want to reach for that extra glass of hooch. But think, as I am now, of my friend Catherine, who lives in Denver, was in D.C. visiting, and, because of the blizzard, was only able to make it home yesterday. And love your family. Appreciate them. Because they're probably the only people with whom you can be your true, unguarded selves ... whether you want to be or not!

Merry Christmas. Happy Hanakkuh. Happy Kwanzaa. What ever you celebrate. Much love to you all.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

December 19, 2006: Film Rights to "What You Won't Do for Love" Optioned

Being born on December 27, I've always been sensitive about getting my birthday gifts, along with those for Christmas. But those days are over, folks! Just I just got the best Christmas-slash-fortieth-birthday present ever.

Rainy Friday Films, Inc. of Chicago has optioned the film rights to What You Won’t Do For Love, my second child! As they say in Publishers Marketplace and Publishers Lunch, I stuck “a nice deal” with Detra D. Thibodeaux, Rainy Friday Films' President and CEO, to make the book into a cable television movie. Child, God is good -- all the time.

To say that I'm ecstatic isn't the word. This whole experience is clearly a case of luck being when opportunity meets preparation. You all know I've been going through some seismic career shifts. Here are the facts. Kensington Books, my publisher at the time, had decided to not offer me another book deal. Additionally, though Book Expo America (BEA) was held in D.C., and I'm a local author, my publisher decided not to have me sign in the Author's Pavilion, which would've provided invaluable visibility. Nonetheless, I attended BEA at my expense and took in many of the interesting events that were going on throughout the conference. One such event was a rather interesting luncheon featuring TV anchor Lynn Sher, former New York Times theater critic Frank Rich, and political pundits Arianna Huffington, Pat Buchanan, and Andrew Sullivan. It just so happened that I took the seat next to Ms. Thibodeaux at that luncheon. We got to talking, and the rest, as they say, is history.

I am very hopeful at this point in my life as a writer. I do pray to see Chaney and Devin come to life. I also believe that this is just the beginning. It just goes to show the veracity of something JadeAlex, one of the commenters on Blogging in Black offered in response to my posting this month:

We are formidable and persistent. Our future is bright. This is a great time to be a writer!


Thursday, December 14, 2006

December 14, 2006: Black Unity, the Cultural Mulatto, and Jamaican Lite

Quite the interesting week we’ve had as a people! First of all, there was that Wall Street Journal article Dividing Lines: Why Book Industry Sees the World Split Still by Race, in which the author, Jeffrey A.Trachtenberg, raised the issue of whether or not the last bastion of racial segregation – bookshelves – would forever limit our earning potential as writers. I wasn’t even aware that we folks rated with the WSJ. Then, of course, there was John Ridley’s December Esquire magazine piece, The Manifesto of Ascendancy for the Modern American Nigger, that literally left me with my mouth hanging open in complete surprise. As I head to The Bahamas to spend the holidays with my family, I begin to extrapolate the themes raised in the two articles (i.e., stunted potential, black unity or the lack thereof, positive versus negative representations of us as a people, etc.) into my own life as a writer.

As you know, I’m famously of West Indian descent. I think it’s the law that you must be if you’re black and born in Brooklyn! My Bahamian parents moved to New York, had my sister and I, and, craving warmth, the beach, and possibly an endless supply of rum drinks, did the reverse migration thing and headed back to Nassau. Thus began my life as a cultural mulatto, straddling two worlds. When I moved back to the States – this time across the Hudson to Jersey – I was subject to some of the dumbest questions people could ask about a country that’s only a ninety-minute plane ride from Miami. Here’s a sample: “Do you wear grass skirts?” “You’ve actually been on a plane?” and my personal favorite, “Say something native.” Back in Nassau, I’d be accused of being too American, especially about how I “tawked” about my “dawg.” Nonetheless, as much as I do love America, the Bahamas is my ancestral home… the facilitator of my Muse. This is why multicultural characters predominate in my fiction. Unfortunately, this warrants me very little support from my fellow Bahamians.

You can read the rest at my December 14, 2006 posting at Blogging in Black.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

December 5, 2006: What You Won't Do For Love in Mass Market Paperback TODAY!

Hey, y'all.

Just a shorty to kvell, which my Jewish friends tell me means to swell with pride. My second baby, What You Won't Do For Love, hits the stores today in mass market paperback. Sure, that cuts my royalties practically in half, but if all of you reading this go out and purchase a copy, then I'll be able to make the shortfall up in volume.

How's that for refreshingly honest? :-) Seriously, thanks for the love and support over the years. I sure do appreciate it.

More to follow...

Friday, December 01, 2006

December 1, 2006: NaNoWriMo - I WON!

Hey, my peoples!

I've resurfaced, after having much of the month of November on lock down, trying to finish my NaNoWriMo novel.

It was hard as all get out, and I'm sick as a dawg (a cold), but I did it. I hit 50,000 words about ten days before the end of the competition. I could've uploaded the novel and gotten credit for having written the 50 grand, but I wanted to finish. I started to get scared, though, that something would happen (just 'cause you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not after you), with computer crashes, cable service outtages, etc. So, on November 27, I uploaded the novel to the National Novel Writing Month website and won with a total of 73,652 words.

I was stoked, but for me the goal was not just to write 50,000, but to finish. Finish, I did on November 29 at 9:07 pm. I was hacking, and sneezing, and unable to breathe properly, but I did it!

I am very pleased with myself ("No shit!" I can hear you say). To finish a novel of that size in a month was just crazy! I was telling my friend, author Karyn Langhorne, who also won the competition, I have no excuse now to not get peddle to the metal and bring all of those ideas that I have to fruition.

My only regret is that I couldn't have fulfilled my promise to blog every day. If I was serious about my promise to eat a bug if I hadn't blogged daily, I guess I'd be having an interesting dinner this evening. But I figured, one challenge at a time. And finishing the novel was the more serious one. I'm off the hook. No mucking stables, or cleaing kitty litter boxes, or dog sitting, or watching small children.

Thank you, Lord! For everything...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

November 15, 2006: NaNoWriMo - Day 15

This is the beginning of Week 3 of NaNoWri, and I have to ask myself, like the British singer Julia Fordham: Where does the time go? Next week will be Thanksgiving, and the following week, I -- hopefully -- will have a 50,000 word novel.

I'm well on the way. I have written 36,051 words. That means I only have 13,949 more words until I reach my goal. My fear is that there's more story than words I need to reach the deadline. But I'll worry about that later.

I'm soldiering on.

Wish me luck...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

November 14, 2006: Review Ambivalence (Taking a Break From NaNoWriMo Posts)

I’m the original pop culture vulture. Give me music, movies, TV, and books, and I’m happier than your average plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills! Of course, in George W. Bush’s America, where a dollar is tighter than my Sergio Valentes from 1978, I sometimes need guidance on what movies and programs to see, and what CDs and books to buy. So, from time to time, I check out reviews in periodicals like People magazine and Entertainment Weekly. Of course I don’t follow the reviews like a sheep. After all, Chuck Arnold from People roundly panned Kanye West’s The College Dropout, which turned out to be, and continues to be, one of my favorite CDs of all time. I do, however, appreciate reviews as something of a roadmap. Until the reviewer takes on one of my books. Then I’m not so objective.

To read the rest, check out my November 14, 2006 posting at Blogging In Black...

Monday, November 13, 2006

November 13, 2006: NaNoWriMo - Day 13

I'm still soldiering on as I head into Week 3, which begins on Wednesday, the 15th. I still remain confident. My buddy, Karyn, who's doing NaNoWriMo along withe me, is doing spectacularly as well, with 21+ thousand words.

I just pray that both of us can maintain the momentum.

More to follow...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

November 12, 2006: NaNoWriMo - Day 12

Not to gloat, but here goes:

25,785 words, baby! I'm a little more than halfway there! And we're only only twelve days in.

I remain overjoyed about my progress and hopeful about finishing within the allotted time frame. This is so awesome. Every day, I'm so happy that I signed up for this challenge. I'll reiterate: every writer needs to try this just once.

What a rush!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

November 11, 2006: NaNoWriMo - Day 11

Again, real life intruded today, and I didn't have a chance to visit with Tim, Jonathan, and Ally today. I plan to make that up tonight and see if I can extend my word count even further.

I did, though, visit with Baltimore chapters of Delta Sigma Theta and Alpha Kappa Alpha for a Roses and Violets Literary Showcase. I hung out with sorors and those other Greek sisters -- just kidding; DST and AKA have a long-standing but gracious feud going on -- read from mt two babies, Back to Life and What You Won't Do For Love, and listened to readings from fellow Black Greek sisters. What a night!

Well, back to the grindstone.

Soldiering on...

Friday, November 10, 2006

November 10, 2006: NaNoWriMo - Day 10

21, 668 words... and counting.

No rest, even on a holiday! I'm hoping that I can finish the book in 50,000 words.

Which reminds me, Happy Veteran's Day to those who've served so that we can all be free and safer. You have my eternal thanks and gratitude.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

November 9, 2006: NaNoWriMo - Day 9

I'm feeling guilty. I wasn't able to write anything today. And I feel it. Feels like I'm jonesing for a drug or a drink. It also feels like I missed catching up with old friends. My equilibrium is seriously upset. Thankfully, tomorrow's a holiday, so I'm hoping to get back on track and to continue to knock this thing out.

Speaking of people feeling like old friends, on a sad note, I was SHOCKED to hear that Ed Bradley died today. For as long as I can remember watching 60 Minutes, he's been a fixture on the show. The most recent story I saw him do was the one in which he questioned the veracity of the accuser's story in the Duke lacrosse rape case. My most recent favorite of his -- he has such an impressive body of work to choose from -- was the profile of Chris Rock. He played the clip from Never Scared of Chris Rock pretending to be Ed Bradley interviewing Michael Jackson. Nothing like immortality than to be interwoven into a joke! I'm going to miss Ed Bradley -- with his fine, articulate, earring-wearing self.

Well, no rest for the weary, and I sure am weary. Back to work on my baby.

See you tomorrow...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

November 8, 2006: NaNoWriMo -- Day 8

I am so proud of myself. This process continues to amaze me. I go into the second week of NaNoWriMo with 18,654 words.

I don't know what it is that's making me soldier on. Maybe it's the characters, with whom I'm in love. Maybe it's the challenge. I don't know. I think every writer should try this. Seriously.

Keep watching this space. And check out the NaNoWriMo web site for more information.

Until tomorrow...

Monday, November 06, 2006

November 6, 2006: NaNoWriMo - Day 6





I'd think Eddie Murphy was talking about The Kid here, not necessarily James Brown.

It's Day 6, and it's smooth sailing. I'm in love with my characters, and they're speaking to me so fast that it's hard for my typing hands to keep up. Hopefully, when this is all done, it'll be in good enough condition for me to share.

Well, this post, too, is going to be a shorty. More to follow...

P.S. This is a record! I don't think I've posted six days straight since I started blogging! Now I have no excuse to not keep it up when NaNoWriMo ends.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

November 5, 2006: NaNoWriMo - Day 5

Not to gloat but...

Uh! Uh! 12,530 words! In yo' face!!!!

I'm cranking on, and I'm so proud of my accomplishment. I really love the characters of this book. The novel is called Triptych. Even though it's pronounced like the things that Triple A gives out when you're about to hit the road, a triptych is a three-paneled painting, in which the panel in the middle is the most crucial to the message that the artist is attempting to convey.

My novel, Triptych, is set in beautiful Nassau, Bahamas. It concerns a man, Jonathan, who has cancer, and his cousin, Tim, a recent widower. At the center is Ally. She used to date Tim eons ago, even lost her virginity to him. Now, though, she's married to Jonathan. To keep her happy, Jonathan has an interest request for Tim, whose loyalty to his cousin makes him fulfil this request, at the expense of his still-fragile heart.

And, to quote Frrest Gump, "That all I'm gonna say about that."

Oh, well, I'm off to novel. Watch this space for more developments...

Saturday, November 04, 2006

November 4, 2006: NaNoWriMo - Day 4

It's like buttah, baby!

My fingers are flying over the keyboard.

Like Lloyd Banks, "I'm on fire. Up in here."

Okay, I'll stop with the similes and metaphors.

I'm proving Chris Baty's theory that the first week tends to be smooth sailing. I'd been stealing time here and there since this past Wednesday, November 1, when the contest started. But I hunkered down today and worked like a fiend. I did a word count, and I have 10,022 words so far. And they're strung along in coherent sentences and decent dialogue. And tomorrow's another FULL day.

I'm so excited and happy that I took on this challenge. I think that every writer should do it at least once.

Well, I'm going to go back to the drawing board. Pray for me...

Friday, November 03, 2006

November 3, 2006: NaNoWriMo - Day 3

Hey, y'all!

True to my promise, I am posting to tell of my progress in meeting the NaNoWriMo challenge. I'M SO LOVING THIS! It's so great to write for myself again. This takes me back to when I was writing Back to Life -- at my own leisure, no contracts, no editor (other than my own internal one), no one to please but myself. I know it's selfish, but hey, it's very good for me. I may have to have a cigarette afterwards!

And I know this may get my Black Girl Card revoked, because it is soooo dorky, but I go to the National Novel Writing Month site -- -- to check out my profile, check out how my two buddies are coming along on their journey, and update my word count. It's bizarre to see a bar graph of my daily progress, and to see the bars go up and up. I'm awake later than I usually am (writing, of course), and I arrive at the day gig bleary-eyed, but I'm having the best time. And of course, Starbucks is a friend of mine!

So, Day 3 and the challenge is still new and exciting. I hope this post will sustain me when I hit the inevitable wall -- which I'm told is guaranteed to happen.

By the way, I haven't received any comments or e-mails from anyone else with interesting tasks for me to complete if I don't end up with 50,000 words at 11:59 pm EST on November 30. But the way things are going now, I won't need them.

Until tomorrow...

Thursday, November 02, 2006

November 2, 2006: NaNoWriMo - Day 2

Well, as promised, I'm reporting in on this, my second day, of the NaNoWriMo challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in thirty days.

I have to say that I am having the best time. I went up to the website (i.e., and put in my word count. My last count from yesterday's session was 2487 words. I haven't counted, but I'm sure I'll have a lot more than that by the end of today.

I have two buddies on my list. The first one is Dinah, with whom I work. We bring our laptops to a quiet, secluded part of the building complex and write. Chris Baty, the director of NaNoWriMo, says that just being in the company of other people can turn on the creative faucets. Writing has been such a solitary pursuit for me, so I couldn't understand how just sitting in someone's company would make me a more productive writer. But I think I could be wrong. We shall see. The other buddy is Karyn, a local writer who is three books in. We've planned to have an "I Finished NaNoWriMo" dinner when this is over. I'm up for that.

I think the difference for me from last year was that I made a detailed outline. I know you're shocked by this revelation, but I am very anal-retentive. :-) I think knowing where I am in the process is helping me tremendously, as opposed to flying by the seat of my pants, like last year. And I love my characters. I run them over in my head while I'm riding on the Metro to work. It's like, when I do finally sit down, they know what they're doing, and I'm just typing their actions into MS-Word.

Well, this is going to be a short one. After all, it is only Day 2. I'm sure on Day 30, I would have so much experience with this process, enough to fill two other blogs. So, for today, I am confident that I won't be cleaning any kitty litter boxes, mucking any horse stalls, or watching any hyperactive four-year-olds. But still, keep your dares coming in the from of e-mails ( or comments under these blog entries. If you're doing NaNoWriMo too, drop me a quick line. maybe we can swap words of encouragement.

Until tomorrow...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

November 1, 2006: NaNoWriMo - Day 1

Hey, everyone.

In the vein of my mouth writing checks that my body can't cash, I have, again, signed up for the National Novel Writing Month challenge. For the uninitiated, the National Novel Writing Month extravaganza, or NaNoWriMo, is a month-long contest of wills to see if you can finish the month of November with a novel consisting of 50,000 words. Check it out at, if you are a glutton for punishment and cannot find anyone in your life to flagellate you.

I have decided again to bang my head against this particular wall, because a) I love to write, and b) I want to know the answer to the Al-Pacino-in-The-Devil's-Advocate question -- Can you summon your talent at will? I tried last year and failed miserably, and I'm like that kid in the playground who keeps confronting the bully on the off chance that this will be the day that he/she falls under the weight of my mighty fist. I have also committed myself to blogging EVERY DAY OF THE MONTH OF NOVEMBER to chart my progress. You heard it here, folks. And if I don't keep that commitment, I'll eat a bug!

No, not really. But to make sure that I finish as one of the winners of NaNoWriMo (i.e., to complete the 50,000 word dare), I have promised to do some pretty heinous things if I don't. In his book, No Plot? No Problem! A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days, Chris Baty, the director of NaNoWriMo, says that, to motivate myself, I should commit to doing the grossest, most unpleasant chores that I could that I could think of for friends and family. Quite a few friends of mine were only too happy to volunteer their basest tasks for me to complete. Here's a sampling (with friends like these, who needs enemas?):
  • My friend Renee has two cats. If I fail at NaNoWriMo, I will be obligated to clean out her kitty litter box -- at the end of the week.
  • My friend Marcia has a stable full of horses. If I fail at NaNoWriMo, I will be obligated to muck out the stalls of ALL of the horses.
  • My friend Pam has a four-year-old son. She knows that little children give me hives. If I fail at NaNoWriMo, I will be obligated to watch her son on a Saturday after he's been fed a steady diet of cartoons and sugar.

Other "friends" are thinking up things for me to do. I'm like, "Bring it on!" This is what I need to write THREE x 50,000 this month. If you can think of something horrid that you'd want me to do if, by some off chance, I fail at NaNoWriMo (KEEP IT CLEAN AND INSIDE THE REALM OF POSSIBILITY, PLEASE!), send me an e-mail at or comment here under this post. If, God forbid, I fail, I will post a picture of me fulfilling your uncomfortable-but-in-good-fun task up on my photo site on However, as I'm going to succeed spectaularly, the point is "mute," as one of my ex-coworkers used to say.

So, come with me on this journey. We'll laugh. We'll cry (I'm sure). We'll have fun. And most importantly, I'll have a novel consisting of 50,000 words by midnight on November 30.

As my agent says, more to follow...

Saturday, October 14, 2006

October 14, 2006: Publishing: Fantasy Versus Reality

At last Saturday’s 2nd Annual Capital BookFest, I participated on a panel on writing and getting published. Right out the gate, the moderator, Gregg Wilhelm of Baltimore’s CityLit Project, asked me what I knew now as a published writer that I wished I knew before the book deal.

Deep question. I mean, when folks meet me, they tend to ask me about my process (“Drink – coffee or Bacardis and Coke – until the Muse allows me to channel her.”), how long did it take to write my latest book (“Time is a fluid concept – especially for West Indians, like me.”), and what was it like to meet Eric Jerome Dickey (exceedingly insightful). So, Gregg’s question gave me pause. After I stopped stuttering like Ralph Kramden inside, I ditched my internal talk points and spoke from the heart. Here’s what I said under pressure.

Visit Blogging in Black's October 14, 2006 entry to continue...

Thursday, October 12, 2006

October 12, 2006: Sending Shouties!

Hey y'all.

This is a shorty to say thanks to everyone who came out to the 2nd Annual Capital BookFest this past Saturday in Largo, MD. It was a cold, rainy day, but, according to Kwame Alexander, one of the organizers, the attendance was twice what it was last year. So, next year, it'll be off the charts! God willing...

I hung out with so many of my colleagues: Lyah Beth LaFlore, Karyn Langhorne, Lori Bryant-Woolridge, Bev Shaffer (the Brownie lady!), Patricia Carter Sluby, Jonathan Luckett. And the folks on my panel -- Mondella Jones, Gregg Wilhelm, and Ralph Eubanks... we killed! The place was packed. I hope folks there were able to take away something useful from what we were laying down. And, hey, if I missed mentioning anyone, please forgive me. I'm in serious C.R.S. mode lately.

Now -- focus on me -- I told you in the last post about Blogging in Black, the blog for us, by us... or is that FUBU? Anyhu, I digress. My piece on the blog appears on Saturday October 14, hopefully at 12:01 am, but please give me the West Indian-ten-minutes-past-C.P.-Time curve if it's not up the minute the clock strikes the new day. I'm still honing my acerbic wit (that's the Brooklyn-Jersey part of The Kid). So, stay tuned. You'll be able to find me at Blogging in Black on the fourteenth of every month. Don't be a stranger, and support us!

All right. I'm going to dig out my warm coat now. And then maybe I'll go take Dogzilla for a run in the newly fallen leaves. I just love autumn!


Saturday, September 30, 2006

September 30, 2006: Up in Your Errea in a Big Way!

Once again, I'm getting around. Sadly, not in a deliciously slutty way. But it's all good, because I get to meet folks who enjoy my work -- Back to Life and What You Won't Do For Love, lest ye forget -- and to connect with a wider circle of authors.

The supremely talented author Kwame Alexander has invited me to participate on a panel at the 2nd Annual Capital Bookfest on Saturday, October 7 at The Blvd at the Cap Center in Largo MD. My panel, which runs from 11:05 am to 11:55 am, is called The Business of Books: On Writing & Getting Published. Here are the participants:

The Kid (aka Wendy Coakley-Thompson): Author, Kensington/Dafina
Ralph Eubanks: Director of Publishing, Library of Congress
Gregg Wilhelm: City Lit Project
Mondella Jones: Mondella Jones Literary Agent

Come out; let's hang. No pressure...

If you can't come out to Maryland, it's cool. Because, in addition to the Bookfest, I also become one of the columnists of Blogging In Black, which, as its tag says, is “a network of literary professionals sharing their views on the writing life, publishing, and anything else on their minds.” I’m in some good company. Other columnists include Dakota Knight, Monica Jackson, Gwyneth Bolton, Steve Barnes... the list is long and distinguished. My column will post on the 14th of every month. Of course I'll still be talking my own special brand of shit here on my own blog. I've just extended my reach. Blogging In Black launches tomorrow -- October 1, so please help Yours Truly and the other Black authors by visiting often and commenting frequently.

To quote the Bartles and James ad, "Thanks for your support."

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

September 27, 2006: When Did Metro Start to Suck?

Boy, I'm back in DC with a vengeance.

Every day, I slog with the masses on the Washington DC-area Metro, the nation's second largest subway system. I loved it when I'd first moved here. After all, I'm a veteran of New York's subways, where to see someone holding his penis and creating his own urine-Picassoesque masterpiece was par for the course.

None of that on the DC metro. Sipping your morning Starbucks, after all, could net you a ticket on a subway system that doesn't allow eating, spitting, littering, or playing your radios too loudly. But now, the bloom is off the rose. People talk to each other in their outdoor voice. Like I want to hear that shit at 7:30 in the morning. They step all over you to get on the train before the doors close shut. They drink and put their stank, unmanicured, flip-flop-wearing feet up on seats that others could be using. More often then not, I'm left asking myself, "When did Metro start to suck?"

Then, I remember that I first started to get an inkling that Metro was slowly headed towards the first concentric circle of Hell. It was the topic of one of my Metro Connection commentaries that originally aired January 17, 2003 on WAMU. Almost four years lately, it's still as timely. I'm reprinting it here -- for your enjoyment... or exasperation.

Metro Connection: Metro As Metaphor For Life

Before I start, let me say that I personally have nothing against our Metro system. Of course, you have the usual elevator outages – or “outrages” as I call them – but as far as train systems go, I like it. In the time I’ve been riding the trains, I have yet to get a lung-filling whiff of pungent urine. And I rarely come face to face with badly misspelled graffiti, like say in New York City. You even get the odd funny moments, like the Asian guy singing Negro spirituals on the Red line to Shady Grove. Or the train operators copping a serious ‘tude because they’ve been forced to say “Next stop. Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.” Thank you, former Georgia Congressman Bob Barr.

No, the only thing wrong with Metro is some of the folks who ride Metro. Like David Cop-A-Feel, the pervy Hill staffer in his Zegna suit who thinks it’s cool to rub up against me when the train’s full. Or that citizen who, when the train car is busting at the seams, insists that his feet or his bags need their own seat.

By far, though, my major pet peeve is the Attack of the Cellular Phones. Technology and good manners are society’s latest oil and water. In some Pavlovian way, folks are so excited to get a call that they forget where they are. I was sitting next to this brothah when his phone rang. (Affecting urban voice) “Yo, yo dog, what up? No, man I’m going through a tunnel. Holler back, yo!” And of course, we passive aggressive riders try to hip him to our disgust by sighing him to death. (Hard sigh. Hard sigh.) Naturally, he doesn’t get the hint. He’s probably thinking even now that cell phones make people hyperventilate.

If it’s not the earsplitting conversation, it’s the cell phone ringers on stun. Where are people downloading their ringers from: the CIA Handbook? Some of those could be used as forms of torture. Heck, after two rings, I’m ready to spill where my grandmother keeps the Coakley family jewels.

I tend to look at Metro as a metaphor for life. We’re all trying to get somewhere – work, or the Smithsonian, or a Wizards game... to a promotion… education… escapism… influencing each other as we ride together to a better life. Quoting Rodney King, or the Reverend Rodney King Junior, as Tony Soprano recently called him, “Can’t we all just get along?” Or is Big Brother going to have to add “No cellular phones” to the “No Eating, No Drinking, and No Loud Radios”? Do we not know yet that with every right comes a corresponding list of responsibilities? Or is the new slogan for both Metro and for Life, “Hooray for me, and to hell with the world?” Just snacks for thought.
Just don't eat 'em on the Metro...

Friday, September 01, 2006

September 1, 2006: What I'm Listening To... and Pleasantly Surprised

So, it's September. Thank God! I'm not a summer person. I mean, at least when you're cold, you can add layers without attracting attention. When you're hot, there are only so many layers of clothing you can remove without getting arrested! So, the sweat-drenched cotton is history, and the funky sweaters can come out now. That's the upside.

Downside: it's still hurricane season. I fear for my relatives in The Bahamas every year from June to November. I didn't realize that I should be watching my own tail. As I look out the window, Ernesto is tapping DC's ass. That's not as good as it may sound. The rain is coming down in buckets, and, in typical DC fashion, the media is overhyping this. You'd swear it was 2003 and Hurricane Isabel was spanking us like a toddler. Ah, journalists and hyperbole.

Even though it's not the Second Coming, this would be a perfect day to be at the crib, listening to some soft music. Which brings me to the title of this missive.

I'm so feeling Robin Thicke! Again! He suckered me in three years ago with his first CD, A Beautiful World. I bought it strictly on the strength of that cut, When I Get You Alone, which sampled Walter Murphy's A Fifth of Beethoven. You know that was the cut back in the day... people dancing to classical music in the club. Crazy! It's ironic that Thicke would've sampled that cut, because the song hit the charts in 1976, almost a year before Robin Thicke was even born. I feel so old!

The rest of A Beautiful World... okay, I guess. But back then, Robin Thicke was looking more like Chris Robinson from the Black Crowes. And the dude's the son of Alan Thicke (absolutely no cool points there) and Gloria Loring, Liz from Days of Our Lives (one cool point; she sang that song Friends and Lovers with Carl Anderson). And his name, after all, is ROBIN! No wonder he used to go by just "Thicke." I was like, "What is this dude doing on Interscope?"

Honey, flash ahead three years. I'm in the car, bobbing my head to this hella-sexy cut with some soft crooning, a nice beat, under what sounded like a Kashif sample. Then I see the video. And it's this kid, Robin Thicke, on the beach with Pharrell -- and the requisite "honeys" -- singing Wanna Love You Girl. He's all cleaned up, looking like the boy next door. Then in May, I'm at BEA, where you get a ton of swag forced on you. So, months later, I'm cleaning up, and I run across a CD sampler of The Evolution of Robin Thicke, his new CD that's coming out October 3. Then I see Li'l Wayne and Robin Thicke on MTV Jams, and Robin's singing the hook for Shooter. Now, I'm distrustful of blue-eyed soul for the obvious reasons ... the propensity of the dominant culture to mine the cultures of other folks for monetary gain, and the affectations of brothahs' mannerisms to sell records (see here). Nonetheless, I put the CD sampler in.

The verdict: the CD sounds like it's going to be the shit! He's got some nice collabos -- Li'l Wayne, Faith Evans, Pharrell, of course. Plus his vocals on non-collabo cuts are awesome. That song Angel will bring tears to your eyes. And then I found out that he's married to Paula Patton, Angel Davenport in Idlewild. She was even the model on the cover of A Beautiful World.

So, Robin Thicke has pleasantly surprised me. I know where I'm going to be come October 3 -- at Best Buy with a copy of The Evolution of Robin Thicke and my credit card clutched firmly in my fist.

Monday, August 21, 2006

August 21, 2006: When Characters Attack. Sort Of...

So, I was opening my e-mail the other day -- yes, folks, if you've sent me e-mails, I do get around to answering them -- and in the Inbox, I saw an e-mail from someone named Bryan Livingston. [cue Twilight Zone otherworldly music here]

Now, in case you didn't remember -- after all 2004 seems so long ago -- Bryan Livingston was the scumbag ex-husband of the heroine Lisa Martin in my book Back to Life. Hence the reason for the otherworldly music. After I crapped a brownie, and after which I thought that this was some hilarious joke that someone was having at my expense, I opened the e-mail, entitled "Ouch!"

To paraphrase, this gentleman, Bryan Livingston, had Googled himself in Google Books and a reference and sample text from Back to Life had appeared. He'd browsed through the text and said that I'd made him look bad. He asked me to assure him that this was all just a coincidence. I now see the reason for that 'graph that you find on the copyright page of every published book -- you know, the one that goes a little something like this?

"This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are a product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental."

Scenic route to the point, I assured Mr. Livingston that Back to Life is, indeed a work of fiction and that I hoped people weren't dumb enough to roll up on him, thinking that he was the character in the book.

But then again, didn't millions of people dial 867-5309 when Tommy Tutone released that hit song in 1981? And don't soap stars constantly complain that overzealous people, confusing the actual stars with the characters they play, assault them in the supermarket? Am I going to get e-mail from Marc Guerrieris, Devin Rhyms, or Chaney Braxtons out in the universe, saying they'd had to defend themselves because someone mistook them for a character in one of my books?

I hope not. Or authors are going to have to start naming their characters like the Borg. But I'd bet somewhere, someone named Seven of Nine is stalking Jeri Ryan at the Albertsons, getting ready to pimp slap her in the Frozen Food section, between the Lean Cuisine and the Ben and Jerry's.

So, I say to you(se) this. They're just books, people. For heaven's sake, leave ther real Bryan Livingston and Jeri Ryan alone!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

August 10, 2006: Why My Muse and I Love History

Hey, hey, hey!

Recently, I shared with my agent a proposal for a book that is near and dear to me, about a group of medical students living, in the beginning of the book, in 1993 Bahamas. She asked me, "Why can't it be present day?"

Which isn't an invalid question. My answer in my head, as the Mistress of All I Survey (what power we writers have!), was, "Because that's the way I want it." But I realized that by saying that, I could be accused of being "difficult," which is code in our industry for "one who does not allow oneself to be fust-fucked by one-sided demands that favor the house."

After the exchange with my agent, I seriously thought about why I tend to plumb history for my fiction, and I've come to thus conclusion -- that's where the best, tried and true plotlines tend to be, in my opinion. I think of some of the historical contexts in which I've set my books and try to imagine pitching them to an editor as if such moments in history hadn't happened (Imagine the voice of Joe Pesci as Leo Getz in Lethal Weapon 2 as you read these).

"Okay, okay, there's this couple. She's Black, and he's Italian, like Sopranos "Italian." They meet on the same night a Black kid goes to buy a car. What he doesn't know is that hours before where he's going, some Italian girl was talking trash to some Italian guys in the neighborhood that she was going to get her Black friends to come there and beat them up. The Italian guys mistakenly think that this Black kid is one of those friends the girl was talking about. A scuffle on the street ensues, and the Black kid ends up shot to death."


"Okay, okay, there is a group of folks living in DC. Some of them are making life changing decisions. Then all of a sudden, a sniper starts shooting up the area. But it's not just one sniper; it's two, working together. And they're both Black!"


"Okay, okay. There is this couple that's been chatting on line. They're thinking of becoming lovers. But one lives in London; one lives in New York. They decide to meet on August 10, 2006. She heads for Heathrow; he, for JFK to wait for her. But just as they get to their respective airports, they're both told that there's going to be a long delay, that 21 people were arrested in the U.K. for attempting the staggered bombing of nine U.S. aircrafts over the Atlantic. The couple might meet, but there's no way that she's taking her coffee, toothpaste, hand cream, or hair gel on the plane. The terrorists were going to use a liquid, which resembles the forementioned, as bomb making material."

In all three cases, I can just hear the editor's response in my head. "Nah! Way to contrived plot line!"

But history has shown that, yes, sadly, a Black kid minding his own business can get shot down by a fellow city dweller due to mistaken identity and racial hatred. History has shown that we Blacks have truly arrived -- that we, too, can be mass murders who terrorize a city of people for 23 days in autumn. And sadly, this morning, we all woke up to realize that air travel has changed for us -- yet again. And not for the better... and that, on a larger level, our years of being blissfully isolationalist when it came to the violence happening in the rest of the world are over.

So, sometimes, historical events are stranger than fiction. And I think that's why the concept of integrating them into fiction holds sway with me. In the back of my mind, too, I hope that people can see the simulated negative response to aspects of the human condition like racism (as in Back to Life) or violence (as in What You Won't Do For Love) and choose to just say no. But then, on that score, I wonder if I'm asking too much from a book...

Friday, July 28, 2006

July 28, 2006: Just Wanted to Share...

This is me with my heroine from the blogosphere, Arianna Huffington. This was taken at 2006 BEA here in DC, after the luncheon that featured Huffington, Andrew Sullivan, Lynn Sherr, Frank Rich, and Pat Buchanan.

When I think even entertain the thought that blogs don't make a difference and wonder if anyone's reading mine, I remember of this lady and think, Damn, she's tall!!!

The 2006 BEA photos are coming shortly to my web site, I promise. And I also promise that there will be no monkeys flying out of anyone's ass. :-)


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

July 26, 2006: La donna e mobile

Don't worry: I won't make you look it up. It's from Verdi's opera, Rigoletto. It means "The woman is fickle." And, if you envision the publishing game as a woman, then she is the most fickle of the bunch.

Before you hear in the street, I will not be publishing any new work with Kensington-Dafina any time soon. The following is an excerpt from THE E-MAIL from my agent:

Kensington will not be offering for the option books.

Reason: The publisher did not feel the sales of the first two titles supported further investment.

The above means that the publisher chooses not to exercise their option for my third book.

I'm surprised that I'm discussing this in this blog. I am, by nature, a rather private person. But I do believe there's no benefit in keeping secrets. Everything that's done in the dark will eventually come into the light. Plus this industry is so incestuous. One person is an editor one place, then, give it a few years, and she or he has hopped over to another publishing house. Which, incidentally, is what happened with the Executive Editor of Dafina, who is moving on to greener pastures.

Of course, I was not pleased, at first, as you can well imagine. After all, being a published author has been my dream from since I was eleven and writing bad Mills and Boon knockoffs about inauthentic lives and characters. So, I was excited when I thought the search was over in 2003, and I signed my first book deal.

But hey, the one enduring thing we know about life is that it goes on. Kensington-Dafina will still be publishing Back to Life and What You Won't Do For Love, and I, personally, am proud of the numbers that the bulk of my efforts have generated. I also think about folks who I admire, who've had setbacks and have rebounded fabulously. Here's the list, which is not, by all means, comprehensive:

  • 1962: Decca Records passed on an offer to sign a group consisting of four young guys from Liverpool. These four men formed a group called The Beatles. Decca, incidentally, passed on the Yardbirds and Manfred Mann
  • Columbia Records let the recording contract of one Alicia J. Augello-Cook lapse. Ms. Augello-Cook, better known to us as Alicia Keys, went on to win countless awards and to sell millions of CDs worldwide.
  • 2001: Mariah Carey. Glitter. 'Nuff said. Flash ahead to 2006. The Emancipation of Mimi. Killer chart-topping success. Three Grammys.
  • 2003: After selling on 10,000 copies of each of his three previous books, Dan Brown dropped The DaVinci Code, which smashed publishing records like an Idaho potato.

I tell myself, from the examples from experience and from popular culture, that this is the ebb and flow of life. It certainly is not the end of my publishing career. Unlike just five years ago, there are so much more venues within which a writer can publish her fiction, which is very encouraging. I think of my colleague, Leslie Esdaile (L.A.) Banks, who is published simultaneously with FIVE major houses.

Plus, I have a base of all of you faithful fans out there who vibed with the socially conscious relationship fiction that I'm putting down. And I reiterate -- I am grateful to each and every one of you who put your cash on the barrel with gas at over $3.00 a gallon, movies over $10.00, and all other examples of the inflated cost of living in Dubya's America.

I thank God for you every day.

And now, as my agent is fond of saying: More to follow...

Monday, July 24, 2006

July 24, 2006: Working Through My Post-World Cup Blues

Hey, hey, hey!

I'm back. My how the time flies. Sorry, I've been something of a no-show. I don't know if this blogging is going to be a daily thing or a weekly thing. I sure didn't mean for it to be a three-monthly-thing. It just got nuts after April.

First, there was the preparation for and the actual Book Expo America, aka BEA. Four days of sheer madness. Plus side: I did meet some very interesting folks. I got a photo with Jennifer Weiner and Amy Sedaris, which made the conference for me. This being DC and all, I got to hear Barack Obama speak (content inspirational; delivery style, needs work. I know -- I was surprised too, especially after the Keynote!). I also met Arianna Huffington and Lynn Sher. And former Congresswoman from Colorado, Pat Schroeder, was walking around all regular. She even spoke in the African American Pavillion. Pat for President, y'all! I will post all of my photos on my website,

Not to hate, though, I really prefered last year's BEA in New York. I say this with the threat of potential risk to my person. Because folks from DC don't care too much for New Yorkers. It makes the Hatfields and McCoys look like Bobby and Whitney! While DC had all the political clout in their guests, New York had that showbiz flair. Particularly with the small touches. In New York, the coffee would never have been cold (Breakfast with Obama, Sedaris, John Updike, et al), or served without half-and-half (Lunch with Huffington, Sher, Pat Buchanan, Frank Rich, and Andrew Sullivan). Plus the NYC venues were classier. The Blackboard reception at Jazz at Lincoln Center beats stompin' at da club in terms of taste. Hate on me if you like; I call 'em like I see 'em.

Honey, then the World Cup started. I loved every minute of it! Especially those Adidas commercials, where the two boys picked their fantasy football team comprised of players past and present. I dug the commercials so much, I downloaded them from YouTube. Oh, like you didn't!

The West Indian pride was in full swell as Trinidad and Tobago handled themselves quite well in the first round, after everyone said they were going to be demolished in their first match with Sweden. To quote Dave Chappelle: "IN YO FACE!!!! IT BURNS, DON'T IT?!" And talk about six degrees of separation. The T&T goalie, the beautiful Shaka Hislop, used to date a friend of the family. Shaka, if you're not busy in front of the net in Dallas, holler at a sistah! Witcha fine self! Speaking of fine, all those fit, gorgeous twentysomethings boys; I was Queen Leer! My favorite was German midfielder David Odonkor! Delicious Man Cub! Although I couldn't quite get past the fact that the boy was born the year I started college. COLLEGE! Chaney and Devin, eight years' age difference: sexy. David and Wendy, seventeen years' age difference: a tad pervy! But he can stil order drinks at the club and not get proofed, okay?! Okay.

I thought France had the whole thing on lock. Until Zinedine Zidane speared Marco Materazzi and got red carded and ejected from the final match. Now, you just know Materazzi droped the sand-N-bomb, don't you (Zidane's of Algerian descent)? You don't get ejected from the biggest game of your life, because some asshole says, "Your mother wears combat boots!" I don't understand; must be a dick thing...

So, now I'm back with you... trying to stay cool in this sweltering heat. I'm letting the Muse chill out too before we get back to work.

I promise that this time, I won't leave you alone for so long...

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

April 25, 2006: Radio Silence Broken...

Hello, all. Yes, I'm still alive after my mini-tour, though just barely. I have a list of lessons learned, which I will share once I'm able to make my thoughts gel.

Things are slowly returning back to normal, though I've only just gotten rid of the last of the cheese that I'd provided at the events. Someone once told me that the greatest number of serial killers came from the state of Wisconsin (except for John Wayne Gacey; he was from Illinois. Close enough on the atlas for government work). I thought about that as I ate every manner of cheese to keep it from going bad. Perhaps, I thought, the killers were constipated. Nothing like being backed up to make you want to lose it. Then I realized that I couldn't blame the cheese, that defleshing someone in a vat of acid and then proceed to eat him (Hello, Jeffrey Dahmer!) is just plain NUTS!

This one is just a shorty to reconnect. Please watch this space. More rants to follow...

Friday, March 31, 2006

March 31, 2006. No Pressure, Part 2

Hey, there.

Going to be in "Murrland" on Saturday, April 1 and can't find anything to do (Hardly likely, but humor me!)?

Come visit with me at Karibu Books at Prince George's (P.G.) Plaza, 3500 East/West Highway, Hyattsville, MD from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. There'll be cider, and cheese, and gourmet crackers...

Is it bribe or is it Memorex...?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

March 23, 2006: No Pressure... Really...

Hey, folks!

You know, if you're hanging out with buddies in DC, Maryland, or Virginia, and you have some free time on your hands and disposable income in your pocket, come check me out here:

March 24, 2006
3:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Howard University Bookstore (The HUB)
2225 Georgia Ave NW
Washington, DC

March 25, 2006
1:00 PM –3:00 PM
6701 Frontier Dr
Springfield, VA

Just come, hang out, we'll talk, no big whoop...

Friday, March 17, 2006

March 17, 2006: Sitting Shiveh...

While everyone will be getting toe-up and blunted today to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, I will be wearing black and will have the mirrors in my house covered. Why, you may ask (Go on; ask!)? Texas A&M beat 'Cuse 66-58, knocking the Orangemen out of contention on the NCAA Championships.

This is almost as bad as being a Giants fan!

Carry on, selfish world...

Monday, March 13, 2006

March 13, 2006: Is Being a Pop Culture Vulture Time Well Spent?

This is the question I find myself asking myself. I think "vulture" is the apt noun to describe one who overdoses on popular culture. After all, vultures eat carrion, don't they?

I gorged myself last night on the visual equivalent to carrion, starting with the beginning of the end of The Sopranos. I feel like Michael Corleone. Every time I swear I won't give David Chase (the show's creator) another hour of my life that I'd never get back, he sucks me back in with stuff like last night. IT WAS AWESOME! And that's all I'm going to say about that. I'm sure, if you're a fan, Chase'll get you on the comeback.

Then, even though I TiVoed it, I tuned in for the last half-hour of Flavor of Love. I discussed how I got sucked in in my posting here ("February 24, 2006: My Latest Guilty Pleasure"). So, Flav picked Hoopz, huh? Him passing over Ms. New York renews my faith in men. No matter hot a woman may be or think she is, crazy is just plain crazy! Now, I can go back to more lofy pursuits at 10:00 on a Sunday... like Grey's Anatomy.

So, I don't know if I can help being a pop culture vulture, or even if I should. I throw up my hands. Me getting mad at myself for my oversized appetite for pop culture is like getting mad at the ocean. It is what it is. C'est la vie...

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

March 8, 2006: All Up in Your "Errea," Part 2

More car crashes and excitement that All Up in Your "Errea", Part 1. I hope...

As I've told you all, I'm starting this mini tour throughout this month, to end on April 1 (I hope that's not foreshadowing!). I haven't done signings since April of '05, so, of course, I'm filled with a certain amount of trepidation. I know this may come as a shock to you, but I'm a tad anal retentive. I know; can you believe it?! :-) Anyhu, I plan and plan and reread the passages I'm going to share, pick out my clothes the night before, and generally make sure that the logsitics of the venue are close to perfection. This is the best way to ensure that something will, indeed, go wrong.

I've had some signings... wow! Let's not talk about a couple of signings at Nubian Bookstore in Morrow, GA, where the proprietor, Marcus, sets up the table next to a life-size cardborard cut-out of Tyler Perry as Madea. I'd need to take off my shoes to be able to count how many times people asked me -- sitting in front of my picture and a table full of my books, mind you -- how much the video for Madea's Family Reunion cost.

Speaking of Madea, February '05, I was at a signing at the Waldenbooks in Middlesex Mall in Piscataway, the home state (JERSEY!!!). This was after Diary of a Mad Black Woman came out. Tyler Perry and the cast was on the cover of the Jet magazine, which was apparently flying off the shelves. One of the workers, a lovely White woman whose name I won't mention, said she couldn't understand this sudden interest in Greek literature. I thought that was so sweet! Of course, I then had to step into my role as Negro Consultant and explain that, in this case, Madea wasn't Jason of the Argonaut's wife who cooked their kids and fed them to him. This Madea was a big black dude in drag.

I had a signing at Hue-Man in Harlem in '04, the same night that there was a fire on the A train tracks. My relatives, who are always front and center, couldn't even get there. I read to three people, in the same spot where, weeks before, Bill Clinton had killed! It also made for interesting going trying to get home last at night.

Then I had a signing at my Starbucks in Alexandria. This was in '03, just after that killer snow that dropped like twenty-something inches of the white stuff on the DC area. So, I had to cancel the first one. The snow-date, apparently, was less than convenient for the folks who'd initially RSVPed. So, it was me, my friend Jamie and her husband Steve, listening attentively -- Bless them! -- as patrons talked over my reading, which was bothering them, I guess. Then a barista decided that that particular moment would be the best time to steam all the milk they had in the store. After a while, I just threw in the towel and drank from the endless cup of coffee the manager had graciously provided. I was so wired, I felt like I'd eaten a defibrilator.

So singings... what can I say? Other than please, just come out tomorrow or to any of the dates listed here in the blog and on my website. If I get served, it'll at least be entertaining!

See you tomorrow (fingers crossed)...

Monday, March 06, 2006

March 6, 2006: It's Official: We As a People Have Risen -- A Postscript...


Grillz for everyone!!!!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

March 4, 2006: ALL UP IN YOUR "ERREA!"

Hey, folks!

If you're in the DC area in the month of March, come check a sistah out! Here's where you can find me:

March 9, 2006
4:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Barnes and Noble Downtown
555 12th St NW
Washington, DC

March 24, 2006
3:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Howard University Bookstore (The HUB)
2225 Georgia Ave NW
Washington, DC

March 25, 2006
1:00 PM –3:00 PM
6701 Frontier Dr
Springfield, VA

April 1, 2006
5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Karibu Prince George’s Plaza
3500 East/West Hwy
Hyattsville, MD

I'll be reading to you and feeding you with goodies, so come on down. Especially you, my sorors of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated!

You can visit my site as the dates approach. Can't wait to meet ya!


March 4, 2006: It is Official. We, As a People, Have Risen!

Welcome to March, everyone. Is spring coming anytime soon? Outside, it's 32 degrees, and the wind is howling. My skin has had enough. It's hard to get any play when you look and feel like Ashy Larry from the defunct (perhaps not?)Chappelle Show. Thank God for shea butter!

Before I start my rant, I need to give a shout-out to one of my best friends in the whole world, my Boriqua sistah Eileen Kennedy. Yes, she insists she's Puerto Rican, and I can vouch for her; I knew her Moms well. There will be stories about Coco in other posts. But Eileen hit that certain milestone age in her life today, the one I'll be staring in the face this December. I ain't skeered. What's the alternative, right? The Dirt Nap? No, thanks! So, Ei, smooches on your big day.

Chris Rock in Never Scared said that, even at his age, he loves rap. I share that sentiment. I love rap/hip-hop -- whatever it's being called this minute. Rappers -- the good one's anyway -- are social scientists, documenting aspects of our culture. I'm not down with the whole bitches-and-hoes aspect of it, but when a skilled rapper is spitting some lyrically conscious words over a tight beat, it's magic, and I'm there. But rap was always out on the fringes... until fairly recently. I knew when 18-34-year-old white boys started listening, it was all over in terms of keeping the stuff for ourselves. Now, two things have happened to herald a new day in my opinion.

One: It's hard Out Here for a Pimp was nominated for an Oscar in Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song). I can't wait to see if it wins tomorrow night. Can you see Jon Stewart and moldy old Hollywood throwing up gang signs and busting a move? Scary!!!

And two: The Smithsonian announced that they've begun collecting memorabilia for a hip-hop exhibit at the museum. Ice-T, MC Lyte, Kool Herc, and anyone who's anyone in hip-hop have started getting their stuff out of storage to donate. One of the reporters at the news conference in New York asked exactly what I was thinking -- how gangsta can you be if you're in the Smithsonian, for heaven's sake?! But I'm not going to hate. I hope that this leads not to exploitation, but to a deeper appreciation of what folks have been doing with a turntable, dope rhymes, and a dream for over 30 years now.

I will continue to keep hope alive...

Friday, February 24, 2006

February 24, 2006: My Latest Guilty Pleasure

Hello all.

In the second week of avoiding what Bryant Gumbel called the sporting event that reminds him of the GOP -- aka, the Winter Olympics -- I've been engaging in some creative TV watching. I tell myself that I'm just passing the time until Law and Order returns, and then I can shift my Brothah Lust back to Jesse L. Martin. I delude myself, because I cannot believe I've let another brothah into my life to take hold so tenaciously. And that brothah would be -- drum roll please! -- FLAVOR FLAV!

I've gotten sucked into that ridiculous guilty pleasure that is Flavor of Love on VH-1. Every Sunday, I stare at the television in awe at the lengths some women would go to to get on television. In case you have the words "Cave, Sweet Cave" emblazoned on the wall in your home, here's the premise: Flavor Flav has this mansion somewhere in Cali (typical!). Twenty women move in and vie for Flav's affections. He gives them monikers like "Hottie," and "Pumkin" [sic], "Hoopz," "Goldie," "Red Oyster," etc. I guess using these names is supposed to lessen the humiliation; conversely, would Flav be as outrageous if we refered to him as "William Drayton?" Women are voted off in succession, based on little "tesses" Flav gives them, until the finale. Like Highlander, there can be only one.

These women are insane! One especially, Miss New York, needs a therapist on speed-dial. And after the show last Sunday, I was like, "Oh no, she didn't!" Pumkin, as she was being eliminated, got in a rip-roaring fight with Miss New York, and then proceeded to spit in Ol' Gurl's face. Poor Hoopz looked on, like she was viewing a car crash from the back seat of her own car. Can you imagine? All this mess over Flavor Flav!!!!! I was hoping that one of those clocks he was wearing would ring an alarm to tell him that yes, in fact, his fifteen minutes of fame were really up.

All in all, I'm thinking, what people won't do to get on TV. But while I'm feeling superior, in the background of my mind, if there was a reality show where writers would have to create the best book or get voted off, don't you know I'll be there, front and center. I'd like to think I'd draw the line at showing my boobs, spitting in some other writer's face, or fighting over some gold-grill-havin' has-been rapper, but who's to know what you'll do in any given situation? Go ahead. Judge me. Let her or she who is without sin -- and burning desire to be on the NY Times Best Seller List -- cast the first chapter...

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

February 15, 2006: I SURVIVED VALENTINE'S DAY '06!

Hey, folks. The title of this post will be on the next T-shirt you see me wearing. I've gone from just giving a snide "Yeah, right," under my breath at the sight of a bouquet of flowers and a box of chocolates, to now actively handicapping how long these romances will last, the romances where the sistah is proudly clutching her long-stemmed roses, and the brothah is wistfully clutching his empty wallet (Caucasians reading this, substitute "sistah" for "girl," and "brothah" for "dude"). One day, and he's the newest member of Kanye West's fictional fraternity Broke Phi Broke.

I ask myself why I'm so anti-Valentine's Day. Is it a) because I'm not actively seeing anyone? Is it b) because I think the whole thing's contrived to separate folks from their money? Is it a) and b)? I've stopped even asking. People were wishing me "Happy Valentine's Day," and when I told them thanks but I don't partake, they gave a laugh and looked at me like I had a horn growing out of my forehead. Jeez, you'd think I'd shot my lawyer-friend while hunting on Saturday and didn't tell the press and the rest of the American public until Sunday evening!

I don't know why I'm such a cynic about the whole thing. And who am I to question why? Maybe it is because I'm not wrapped up in the bondage of love. And given the state of the pickins out there, I think being cynical is a normal reaction to February 14. Even Diogenes, if you remember, famously searched the streets of Athens with a torch, looking for an honest man, and he never found one! No wonder why he's the Father of the Cynics. Try living in D.C., Diogenes!

So, yes, I survived... for another year. And I wear that like my own private badge of honor.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

February 11, 2006: IT'S SNOWING AGAIN IN DC!

We're in the throes of another Nor'easter here in the Dark Counrty, folks. I always seem to be blogging when there's snow on the ground. Coincidence? Child, I don't know. Maybe it's because I'm bound to the house and therefore am forced to be still and contemplative.

And I hate to sit still. When I was a kid, I was That Kid... you know the child who had ants in her pants, who was busy all the time..."frisky," I believe was the word my aunt used before she told my mother that I was, under no circumstances, allowed to return to her home.

As I got older, the physical friskiness was replaced by the mind that ran at warp speed while the body struggled to catch up. Think of that woman, Ann, in those Strattera commercials for adult ADD, where she's in this meeting and her mind is like a TV with the channels being changed like my last boyfriend with the remote control. But when it snows, there's no external stimulation to focus -- or not focus -- on, and I'm forced to sit and think about one thing.

Like this encounter I had last night. I don't know if I should call it a date. I don't think it was. Like how Oprah just realized, 20 years later, that she and Roger Ebert had actually gone a date (INSERT HUH?! HERE). I know what you're thinking...
For someone who writes romantic fiction, she's sure out of touch.
And I'll cop to that, because it's possible. Zane could write about all that sex, even though she was in a miserable marriage that just led to divorce, right?

I met the object of the encounter through a friend of mine. He's my friend's cousin. We'd done the phone and the electronic parrying and jousting, a la Devin and Chaney in What You Won't Do For Love and decided to "officially" hang out. He's very sweet, attractive, and intellectually stimulating. And with me, the way to my heart is through my brain. But when it come to men, I'm just weird. Like every woman my age, I've been hurt by men, at times badly. So, like anyone hitting her head against the wall, there comes a time when you stop. So I stopped dating and evolved past men... kind of like how humans may have evolved past having a tail. But you still have that coccyx... something that's there as a reminder. Metaphorically speaking, I've suddenly again become aware of my coccyx. And just like how snow disrupts and snarled up everything, becoming aware of your coccyx can disrupt your comfortable status quo... force you to think... reflect... want -- perhaps? -- for something previously you'd dismissed as a possibility...

It's snowing again in DC, people. Damn...

Saturday, January 07, 2006

January 26, 2006: THERE IS, INDEED, KARMA!

Before I begin, I have to apologize, yet again, for my unduly lengthy absence. I wasn't dead, obviously -- just sick as a DAWG with cold viruses that must've been engineered in someone's lab. Again, I'm ready to give Winter the gas face.

Speaking of the gas face, like everyone else, I'm commenting on the James Frey/Oprah smackdown that happened today. I was pissed, because the selective memoirist got not one, but two bites at the Oprah apple. Some writers I know or know of -- Jonathan Frantzen excluded -- would give their left nut to be on Oprah. I, too, am guilty as charged. But I was even more pissed when I read about the January 11 Larry King appearance, when Oprah defended old boy's actions in her phone call. I was like, "Say it ain't so, Ope." And now she has.

For folks like me who try like hell, and leverage their futures, and cripple their finances to get the exposure they need, the question of selling out raises its ugly head. Frey had initially tried to sell his book as fiction, and publishing had given him the gas face. I ask myself, does one have to lie to oneself by being someone she's not or lie to potential book buyers in order to have success at this game?

I love writing. It's cathartic, and it's a challenge that I'm always ready to accept. When I'd written Back to Life, I'd done so on my own schedule and for my own enrichment. Then I signed that contract and realized that this a business too. Polonius, the fool in Hamlet, told his son Laertes, "To thine own self be true." But I have to wonder. Do I and my own true self write what I want to and toil in obscurity, or do I write to a market so that I can leave my dreaded day gig and make a grip of money? On most days, I remain conflicted. On more days that I want to admit lately, though, this is a no-brainer...

January 8, 2006


Please forgive my absence from the blogosphere. I was vacationing down in the sunny Bahamas with my family. It was just what I needed -- a break from twelve-hour days and trying like mad to make the world aware of my new joint, What You Won't Do For Love. I did, though, take the time to appear on Island 102.9 FM in Nassau, hanging out with morning radio personalities Krissy Luv and Eddie Carter on The Morning Boil. We got into a spirirted discussion about how Bahamian artists do not support their own.

As you know, I spent my childhood in the Bahamas. The Bahamas is my muse and informs really every piece of fiction that I write. So, it's very disheartening when the muse doesn't love you back, when the only place you can buy my book -- about women of Bahamian descent, mind you -- is the Logos Book Store at Harbour Bay in Nassau. You can order it online and have it shipped to the store and pick it up there. That's all right, my people. Like Tupac, I ain't mad at ya. But I'll leave you with a Bahamian saying: "Pig does grow hog." [meaning, one day, the insignificant will be large and in charge]

Well, I'm back in DC, in the land of snafus and broken promises. I arrived to find that none of the intended recipients got my blast e-mail, alerting them to the fact that What You Won't Do For Love was, indeed, available for sale in stores. So there went any Christmas sales I could've hoped to have. Then the Post Office decided to teach me a lesson in what a guarantee is by informing me that, even though I paid the extra money to have priority mail packages get to their destination in two to three days, if they don't well... sorry, I'm S.O.L. Typical of Washington, such double-talk. So, beware of priority mail, people. The only guarantee you have is that they will take your money.

AND IT'S SO COLD!!!!! I'm praying the groundhog sees his shadow in a couple of weeks, or I don't know how I will manage.

Well, that's my rant for the new year. I'm hoping to keep them to a minimum. That's one of my New Year's resoultions. Why don't you write to and tell me what resolutions you've made...?