Sunday, July 31, 2005

Lazy Weekend

So it's been a lazy weekend. I never, ever sleep past 8 or 9 in the morning because I'm usually up at 5 doing something -- writing, working out, whatever. Been taking lots of long naps too.

In between, been totally mesmerized by Rashid Darden's book, Lazarus. I'm almost done and will probably just laze away the rest of the afternoon reading about the adventures of Adrian, the Beta Chi Phi's, and Potomac University. Trying to read some of the work of peers who've come out this year. Finished Trent Jackson's At This Moment last week. Alphonso Morgan's Sons the week before that. Lots of diverse styles and stories out there. Ready to tackle Terry McMillan's new one next. What other things are there to read?

Still, I sit here. Typing. Don't feel like doing much. If only I didn't have that darn laundry basket staring at me across the room. Gotta tackle that so I can pack for NYC. It's just a lazy Sunday afternoon in L.A.


Friday, July 29, 2005

L.A. Boys Head To Brooklyn

Posted by Picasa (Fred, left; Daniel, right)
So I would be so lost without the help of Daniel, one of two people who help me with my events, keep me calm and sane, and make this book thing so fun. (Oskar, not pictured, but who'll be pictured really soon, is the other one who does all that Daniel does.)

Anyway, Daniel and I are headed to Brooklyn next week. We work hard. We play hard. Well, once the book stuff is done. And looking forward to working and playing hard with all of you on the East Coast. We could also make your Pride In The City weekend a total reality series. Anyone up for two, very fun surprise guests to your Big Brother or Real World household? :-)

Random Photos Friday. A Do Over.

Posted by Picasa
a do-over, repeat photo especially for RD... of me, Joseph, and Johnny.
I remember the fascination with Johnny, RD :-)

Random Photos Friday

Posted by Picasa
My buddy Nick. He's in Vermont, but an L.A. native. Doing the grad school thing. This is a Nashville pic from April this year.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Critical Thinking

Just wanted to share a couple of opinion pieces that offer us the opportunity to think critically about some current pop culture and social issues... things you and I are listening to or discussing at home or in the work place.

Daria's article, "gwen stefani's L.A.M.B. -- love asians, (they're) my bitch" in LoudMouth Magazine (might have to scroll down to page 8 in the link... but it's well worth it)

Tayari's piece on "confessions of a video vixen"... the book that's making the discussion rounds among many of us... and that many are dismissing as trash. Tayari offers an academic approach to looking at the book.

Keith's piece on the politics of the missing, lost, and found.

And there's always Bitch Magazine, which offers tons of great articles analyzing pop culture.

Check all of them out.

Homegirls Cafe. Boyle Heights. Josefina Lopez.

Discovered this new spot in L.A., the Boyle Heights area: Homegirls Cafe.

It's a true "help the community" kinda restaurant. The staff and servers are all being given a new lease on life from gang life (they are interviewed and selected by a social services agency specializing in gang intervention work). And the menu, though it has several traditional Mexican dishes, is light and healthy... and no red meat is served; traditional refried beans, rice, etc... are rarely served. Look for tons of vegetables. So it's helping people live healthier lives with healthy food choices.

Read the L.A. Times Review on Homegirls Cafe.

This is part of the overall development of the Boyle Heights area, where Josefina Lopez, writer/producer of the film Real Women Have Curves, is investing a lot of time, money, and energy in making sure people see this area of L.A., which has been long neglected by developers, as an important cultural center of the city. Her space, Casa 0101, is developing many new writers, actors, and performers who will shape the face of art and culture in L.A. and around the country.

Go Homegirls. Go Josefina.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


Thirsty for some good summertime libations?

Found this delicious drink recipe guide from Holiday-N.

Sometimes I just gotta chill out. Thanks Rod for encouraging me to chill :-)


Do you keep a journal? Or have you gone the route of replacing the old fashioned, handwritten notebook for a computer? Perhaps your blog?

I've been keeping a journal since 9th grade, when my English teacher Ms. Dinwiddie required it for a class assignment. It continued with mandatory journaling in 10th with Dr. Schoen and Ms. Ramsey, and 11th grade with Mr. Payne. Yeah, I went to one of those high schools... every thing was mandatory. Four years of a language other than English, four years of math, science, art and/or music, blah blah blah. Anyway...

Even after the mandatory-ness of keeping journals was over senior year, I still kept one. It became a habit for me to jot down my thoughts of the day... what songs were significant to me... what happened on Young & Restless. Anything. And I kept it up through college, grad school, starting out as a young professional in higher education, and then through the early stages of my publication process. Pretty much every day. It's kinda cool to look back at the people, incidents, places I thought were significant (and at the time they were...), but now are just blips on the radar screen of life. There's just something special about keeping a record of your life. (And something kinda awesome, to see dozens of spiral notebooks with your life story in it... kind of a pain to pack up and move, though).

Well, since discovering blogging back in January of this year, I haven't written one page in my journal.

Not. One. Page.

It pretty much ends around the first week of January 2005. Crazy. And while I try to keep my blog to topics related to writing or issues of concern to me and the readers of my book, I miss the daily minutes of sitting with my notebook and just having at it... letting ALL my thoughts out. Without censoring. Without thinking I'm writing for an audience. Without wondering what I will write about for that day.

I'm wondering how many of you keep journals? And if so, has your journaling slowed down since the advent of blogging (that's if you blog, too)?

So while I'm going to keep up communicating with readers through the blog, I am also going to get back to the tradition I've had going for freaking ever... getting out a pen, grabbing the notebook, and writing my thoughts of the day. My private thoughts.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Fire & Ink Writer Conference

October 6 - 9, 2005 in Austin, Texas

Join hundreds of writers and scholars from around the nation and diaspora at the world's ONLY writers festival focusing on writing by LGBT people of African descent. Fire & Ink is an educational, political, and networking resource that promotes the works of black LGBT writers. This year's conference will be bursting with panels, readings, workshops and other events featuring a mixed bunch of professional and aspiring authors who share a common love of the word.

Invited feature authors include: Samiya Bashir, Keith Boykin, Sharon Bridgeforth, CC Carter, Stanley Bennett Clay, R. Erica Doyle, Steven G. Fullwood, Thomas Glave, James Earl Hardy, Reginald Harris, Zelda Lockhart, Penny Mickelbury, Lisa C. Moore, Alphonso Morgan, Letta Neely, Ana Sisnett, Cheryl Boyce Taylor, Tim'm T. West, Marvin K. White, and Malik M.L. Williams.

Contact festival organizer Lisa C. Moore at for more information. Or check out the Fire & Ink website.


I've been thinking about the topic of sequels lately. Book sequels.

I get asked a lot during readings, "Fred, are you going to do a sequel?" It's probably the next most common question after the typical, "Are these characters based on you/your friends?"

Anyway, my take on sequels is this... I don't write a project with the intention of writing a sequel or continuation. To me, a project, novel, movie, etc... should be complete and self-contained within itself. The story should resolve and have a beginning, middle, and end. I think it's only fair for the consumer for a book to be complete and not with a deliberate cliff hanger.

Now, I know several writers who have made their careers out of writing books on the same character(s). Their fans and readers love to follow the lives of those characters. That's cool. I have no problem with that. In fact, when I share my opinion on writing sequels, many audience members say they love them and want to check in every now and then with the characters... to see what they're doing now. They say they want me to write more about the Down For Whatever boys -- Keith, Marco, Rafael, and Tommie. That's nice to hear how much readers like sequels. I guess it means they relate or like the people you've created as a writer.

In fact, I follow(ed) a few writers' series and enjoy them. As a teen, I loved the VC Andrews books... that whole Flowers in the Attic series. Some series just turn the characters into caricatures... and campy soap opera books. Sometimes that's fun. But I wonder if the creative process is fun. Don't know...

For me, as a writer, it would get... I'm not sure if boring is the word, or feeling stuck in a creative rut-- not sure... if I were to write about the same characters over and over and having to think of new predicaments to put them in. I'd just as soon go get a job writing for Young & The Restless, which is a never-ending story... and would actually be a DREAM job. But that's daytime drama, not novels. I love the idea of pushing myself to create new settings, characters, and types of novels. My first few may end up being similar in genre, but I aspire to write many types of novels... even something a little more literary and complicated.

Now I'll probably end up eating crow in a few years, when/if there's a time when consumer or publisher demand says... write more about the Down For Whatever boys. So when/if that time comes, please don't say Fred was talking smack about sequels and now he's writing one.

Writers... readers... what's your take?

Sunday, July 24, 2005

In The (Fred) News

So I'm new at this writing and publication thing. And I "google" myself sometimes. And I like to share some places where I've found myself.

Most recently: MJ Rose's Backstory and In Los Angeles Magazine.

Enough already. On to other news of my weekend... so far.

The L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center held its first LGBT Book Fair, and it was a success. About eight literary panels scattered throughout the day. Booksellers such as Esowon, A Different Light, and Skylight.

The panel I was on included my oh-so-hilarious (and an excellent writer!) friend Eduardo Santiago, whose novel "And Tomorrow They Will Kiss" will be out in July 2006 on Little & Brown, and a new friend, Vivian Horne, who has several self-published books out on the market. Noel Alumit, whose book "Letters To Montgomery Clift" received much critical acclaim, moderated the panel on race, class, and sexual orientation in fiction. Nice crowd of 50+ people.

Then I signed books at the Esowon Books table, which was a blessing in disguise. The other booksellers had forgotten to pack my books in their materials, so Esowon had an exclusive. And Esowon had a table in the only air-conditioned spot in the plaza. Real cool.

After a quick lunch with Oskar and Daniel, the guys who help me SO much while doing events, I headed down to Matais Books in Long Beach, CA. Matais is a special place in many ways. One, it is the only store in the country that focuses on LBGT books by black authors, both the classics (like James Baldwin and Audre Lorde) and the soon-to-be classics for the community. Yeah, it may sound like a small niche, but the store has quite a following, and a strong community feel. It's kinda like Cheers, but for books and art. Matais and Mark made me feel really welcome. And so did the crowd of a dozen or so people. Real cool.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Writing. Weekend. Exercise.

I know a lot of you may be writers, with aspirations of having your novel published. Cool.

Found this cool article on the three Cs that you may want to have present in your commercial fiction's first few pages. Context. Character. Conflict. Short article, and many others expand on these concepts further.

Sounds somewhat similar to advice my literary agent gave me when he was first considering representing my novel, Down For Whatever, as well as the novel I'm working on now. Pay attention to the opening page(s). Make apparent what kind of story we're getting in the opening page(s): romance, thriller, mystery, etc... Make us want or see what the hero/heroine wants. Make us see what's complicating the want of the hero/heroine. Otherwise, why would a literary agent, let alone a general reader, go beyond those opening pages.

One book I like to suggest you buy or borrow from the library is The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman. Lukeman is a New York based agent who plows through thousands of manuscripts a year looking for that right fit.

Another book I like to recommend to writers with publication dreams, though this book isn't necessarily focused on opening pages, is Free Within Ourselves: Fiction Lessons For Black Authors by Jewell Parker Rhodes. It's a great guide for writers looking to write culturally relevant and authentic voices in their fiction.

Anyway, just my two cents. Hope you get some work done on your writing goals this weekend.

Feel. Good. Friday.

Did a trip to freaking Six Flags Magic Mountain today. 107+ degrees. Not complaining. Had a blast!

Good friend is in town this weekend. Visiting from Oakland. Hoping to seal a music deal. So awesome!

A Different Light in West Hollywood is a fun place to do a book reading and signing, especially when your podium is located right in front of the "adult" magazines, and customers are anxious and have no shame to peruse while you're reading. It's also fun when your prom date shows up to the reading... and your writer buddy Liza, whose book "Conversations With The Fat Girl" comes out in September on Warner Books. So funny!

Bringing out my old CDs and reminiscing on some good times. Current classics in rotation:
  • Pebbles' "Always" CD, and "Giving You The Benefit";
  • Crystal Waters' "Surprise" CD and "Gypsy Woman (Homeless)";
  • Tracie Spencer's CD with "Tender Kisses";
  • Patti LaBelle's "Burnin'" CD, and "Feels Like Another One" and "Somebody Loves You Baby (You Know Who It Is)";
  • Li'l Louie CD with "Lonely People" and "Music Changed My Life"... boy, the good old days of house music and sneaking into clubs while underage... yeah, that happened in my lifetime!;
  • Whitney's "Whitney" with "So Emotional" and "I Wanna Dance With Somebody";
  • Mariah Carey's "Emotions" CD, with my all time favorite motivational song "Make It Happen."
  • Diana Ross' anything, with my other all time favorite motivational song "It's My Turn."

Hope you're having a feel good Friday... and weekend too!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Iran. Gay. 2005. Hanged.

We still have a long LONG way to go in the fight for equality for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) folks around the world.

Broke my heart reading this story about two Iranian teens hanged this week because they are gay. It's a crime in Iran.

If some folks in the U.S. had their way, being gay would bring the same type of consequence in the eyes of the law. Sad.

As "good" as we may have it in the U.S. (well, some parts of the U.S., maybe?!?!), there's still a long LONG way to go in the U.S. and abroad. Just because there are primitive laws in many places around the world, does not take the U.S. off the hook. Not by a long shot. And imagine if church and state were even more intermingled in the U.S...


The CDC recently released a report on the current state of HIV among black gay men in five major U.S. cities.

Frank Leon Roberts wrote about it today on his blog. Take a look.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Blues

I like a lot of music. Including music that people would think I wouldn't be into.

Country is one.

Blues is the other.

I especially like the blues.

I think this fits in with writing really well. I think country and blues singers tell really great stories. And if you listen closely, you'll find pieces of yourself and people you know in their stories.

Stories that compel. That resonate. That pull you in, make you feel, and help you think a little more about what life has done... but more importantly, what possibilities life can hold.

I'm particularly fond of women country and blues singers. The women pictured here (left photo is Denise LaSalle and Koko Taylor; right photo Paquita la del Barrio) tell stories of people cheated on, laughed at, beaten on, laid off... but at the end of the day are people who triumph through the simple things in life.

I come from a family of people whose roots are in places like Arkansas, Indiana, Tennessee, and Alabama. I remember family gatherings while growing up, when all the entertainment needed was a B.B. King or Johnny Taylor album (because that's what they played back in the day), that "drank" in the purple velvet bag, barbeque or fried fish, and tons of storytelling and laughing.

Sometimes, when I'm pondering story ideas, or story direction, I'll put on a blues CD and listen. Especially to the part of the songs, when the singing stops, the music continues, and the women start talking to you. Talking to you like you're their confidante or best friend. Denise LaSalle does it best, especially when it comes to talking about friends going after her men. Paquita does it well, too, and if you know Spanish all the better. One of Paquita's classic lines is when she apologizes to a cheating man's dog for comparing the man to the dog. So funny!

It's weird how stories and ideas can get stimulated from the oddest places. I'm sure you've had your share of blues... just like I have. But we all, eventually, rise up, triumph, and face the day to do what we've got to do in order to survive.


Tuesday, July 19, 2005


It's hot.

Pretty much everywhere you go, except the southern hemisphere where it's currently winter -- let me go check my geography and meteorology lessons :-)

Today is the 200th day of the year. 165 days to go in 2005. We still have many days left of summer. Remember how exciting it used to be, when in elementary school, looking forward to summer break?

So... just to put things in perspective... on a hot summer day like today... in NYC, in Detroit, in L.A., in Houston, in Atlanta, in Chicago, where I know it's HOT... I hope you're making the most of the day today.

That you're having the summer you want to have. Making some memories that will keep you warm and entertained when the weather gets like the photos listed above. Living summer like you're 21 again...

And if you're not... it's not too late to "Say Something" or "Make It Happen" (aka Mariah lyrics...)

So... what you gonna do? :-)

P.S. I'm having a fabulous summer, by the way. Creating some GREAT memories and FUN stories that my friends and I will share forever...


I appreciate and value feedback.

Always have. I guess that's why I was always a teacher's pet, or an employee/colleague people tend to enjoy working with. I listen to feedback, both good and constructive, and decide what to use for future use. I'm secure about receiving feedback. Never defensive. Don't take things personally. (Don't like it when someone talks to me like I'm 5-years-old, but can handle those situations when they happen) Because I know it's the "work" that's being feedbacked, not my existence as a human being. I know some people have different views on feedback, take it in different ways, and I appreciate that.

I know that for every book, every movie, every television show, and every piece of art produced, there will be a million different ways the work is perceived. Two people can see the same thing/incident, and have two different stories to tell about it. That's a given. And that's the beauty of the human experience. One thing can be perceived in different ways... and all those perceptions can be "right" based on whatever has influenced the perceiver's point of view.

Got that. Cool. Fine. Dandy.

I like and appreciate reviews. Both good and constructive ones. It helps me see what people perceive about a piece of work... and hopefully, how that work is resonating in their life. Hopefully, the reviewer is thinking about how that work may or may not have meaning in their life, and explains in very thorough ways how that connect or disconnect happens for them personally.

And it also makes me wonder about where feedbackers and reviewers come from.

Are they closet writers, singers, artists, performers... and their work has never been published, recorded, displayed, or contracted for performance? Are they happy or unhappy with the state of their finished or unfinished work? How do their particular life experiences with race, class, weight and gender issues shape how they view work by people perceived to be like them or different from them? Are their views shaped by larger, political issues such as writing a positive review about one writer, singer, artist, performer so that the awards selection committee they serve on will reward with an award? Or do they snark at a work because they realize reviews can make or break others' perceptions, and they just don't want a work to succeed?

Just something I'm wondering about lately on the subject of feedback. What do you think?

Monday, July 18, 2005

LGBT Book Fair, Los Angeles

More than 20 leading LGBT authors and four bookstores will participate in what is believed to be the first-ever LGBT book fair in Los Angeles this Saturday, July 23 from 10 am - 4 pm at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center's Village at Ed Gould Plaza, 1125 N. McCadden Pl., Los Angeles.

At this free event, authors will be on hand to discuss and autograph their books which will be available onsight through exhibiting bookstores, and most will participate in lively and interactive panel discussions throughout the day.

These are some of the panels that will be offered throughout the day:

11-11:45 am
"Telling Our Stories: The Evolution and Importance of Gay Narrative," facilitated by Felice Picano

11:45 am - 12:30 pm
"The L Word: Lesbian Culture, Humor, Sexuality in the 21st Century," facilitated by Terry DeCrescenzo

12:30 - 1:15 pm
"Gay or... Race, Sexuality, and Identity: Colorful Authors Speak Out," facilitated by Noel Alumit (I will be participating on this panel)

1:15 - 2 pm
"Sexing the Word: Poetry and Erotic Poetry," facilitated by Keeter Scott

2 - 2:45 pm
"The Hard Truth: The Role of Books in Addressing Issues Facing te LGBT Community," facilitated by Karen Ocamb

2:45 - 3:30 pm
"The Killing Kind: Gay Mystery Writers Talk About Their Craft," facilitated by Hal Bodner

3:30 - 4:15 pm
"How to Get a Literary Agent," facilitated by Ken Sherman

For updated list of participants and panels, please visit the LA Gay and Lesbian Center website (

Where Have You Found Yourself Lately?

I been a lot of places, seen a lot of faces... aww he...
OK. Enough of the Lil Kim lyrics. One of my faves on the dance floor from back in the day.

But I am finding myself in some really cool places via my addiction to Google-ing myself every now and then... and various links and stories/reviews I'm finding. If you're in L.A., the latest iN Los Angeles weekly has an article about me that I have yet to read... but have heard about. Cool. Someone sent me this story featuring a short review on Down For Whatever, which was nice. And Rashid... love this entry comparing some of us to characters in Kill Bill. If you find stuff, please send it my way.

The other places I've been spending a lot of time in is independent and chain book stores. Mostly to do readings... or to visit the booksellers and sign whatever books they have in stock. It's been interesting the places I've found my book. Some have it on that front table, right when you walk in, featuring the newest paperback releases. Some have it tucked in LGBT areas. None have it in the small spaces set aside for books by or about Latinos. One store had it in with the fiction and literature section. Period. I've found it mostly in the African American section of bookstores.

But it's interesting to see how different stores decide to categorize my book. It's got gay folks, black folks, and latinos. It's an L.A. story.

I don't know how I feel about how books are categorized, but I'm wondering if books get a fair shake if the book is placed somewhere and no one in the store has read it. Or, if when you're book shopping, if you go to certain section first and then elsewhere? Or do you just stop at the front tables and don't explore further.

I'm realizing there are a ton of books released all the time. It's hard to find some. It's easy to find others. But I know the places books are put... or the places in bookstores customers are willing to search can make or break any book.

Don't know if I'm making any sense. But it's just something I'm thinking about regarding the book selling industry.

Friday, July 15, 2005


San Francisco has some really fun places to hang and have a cocktail... any time of the day. I'm staying with my buddy Matt in the Castro District, where fun is just a doorstep away. As soon as I leave this $800 a minute internet cafe, I'm on my way to have some afternoon libations with friends. Probably my last time in San Fran for a minute... Matt's giving up his Castro apartment for a larger condo in San Jose. Progress.

What'll it be today? Margaritas? Cape Cods? A light Pilsner? Been writing/revising the second novel most of the day... ready for some Castro happy hour fun.

And your weekend plans? Be down. Be safe. Be good. Be bad. :-)


OK. My faith is restored in doing readings and events. My blahs from yesterday are a thing of the past. Had the best time with the Guy Writers group in San Francisco at the SF LGBT Center. These guys are regular everyday people who get together to share their writing and progress with each other.

I was the featured reader for their monthly social. Great turnout and great questions and great material from the various members. One name to look out for: Miles Murch. His excerpt from a novel he's just completed had me rolling on the floor laughing my butt off. It was great. He's a great personality. And I'm convinced that he'll be picked up and published in no time soon.

Anyway, it's still hot in San Francisco. Feels very SoCali today. Feeling restored and ready for a hot weekend... and a fun party in Oakland tomorrow afternoon... a friend of Rashid's.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

San Fran... Again

At one of those $800 a minute internet cafes in San Francisco. The Castro District. So this'll be quick.

Great events at Books Inc on Market Street... and Alexander Books on 2nd Street. Small crowds, but very interested and energetic crowds. Great questions. And book buyers. Each person bought multiple copies. Which of course is a good thing. Saw cool friends from my past... Sara, Faith, Ryan, Merve, Bernard, Kurt... so cool for the support of new and old friends.

Been thinking a lot about this "on the road" thing as it relates to book promotion. More on that later. Unless you're Jackie Collins or like Terry McMillan (who's doing a reading at Laney College in Oakland on Saturday afternoon), getting a crowd of a dozen or more at a bookstore reading is a lot of work. Community organizations and literary panels at book fairs are the way to go. But who knows. I stay grounded in knowing I'm new, but that people are reading, and e-mailing me good things about reading the book. That's cool.

San Fran is hot this week. It's never really over 70 degrees here, but this week pushing 80 and sometimes 90.

More later. Hope you're cool!

Monday, July 11, 2005

Equal Writes

Thank you to Dan and the staff at Equal Writes Bookstore in Long Beach, CA., for putting together a great space. On Saturday, I read, discussed, and signed copies of Down For Whatever. Great crowd. About a dozen people. Some had read the book already and were ready for a book club discussion. Others hadn't read it, but picked it up. Either way, it was really exciting to be with people who were engaged in the subjects that came up that evening.

And it goes to show the power of media... even just a little media exposure. All the folks who attended saw my big old face in an article in The Blade, a monthly LGBT magazine, in Orange County. And that's how they decided to come.Kinda cool. Dan, the owner of Equal Writes, went out of his way to make sure the event was a success. Thanks!

P.S. And to that cute young couple I met at the end of the event... C & S... I hope you explore your educational options. Realize you do have options and choices... and hopefully you won't make the one that will send you to Iraq.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Patti For The Weekend...

Aah. Here we are. Friday again. Feeling nostalgic, young, and restless. Brought out two of my favorite Patti LaBelle CDs for the gym this morning. Had to really dig in some boxes to find them... at 5 am.

Burnin is my favorite by Miss LaBelle. I'm In Love Again is a very close second. I remember my mom had that one on the big record. Time flies.

Time flies... from the crazy, busy, cool time of At The Beach L.A. to another weekend. Got one signing on Saturday in Long Beach, CA. Will visit a few stores in SoCali to sign the books they've got in stock. Hope to squeeze in a dance or drink with friends at our favorite local haunts. Gotta pack for another Bay Area trip for book signings. What else?

What are you up to on this nostalgic, young, and restless weekend?

Thursday Night Spoken Word at Catch One

So they're trying to start up a cool new lounge night at Jewel's Catch One in L.A. on Thursday nights. Spoken word artists and writers, against the backdrop of house music, memories, and my favorite drag host o'the day, Sweaty Moon. It's a fundraiser night for the health clinic run by Catch One owner, Jewel. Good cause.

I read there last week (as the kickoff for At The Beach Black Pride events) and last night too. Very fun and cool vibe.

If you're in town, stop by Thursday nights at Catch around 8ish. Drink specials. Poetry. Short stories. Bring some stuff to read and share. It's a cool spot to hit before running off to your other later spots on Thursdays...

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Cool Quote From Tavis Smiley

Listened to Tavis Smiley, who was a guest on yesterday morning's Front Page radio show on KJLH in Los Angeles. He said the coolest thing... something that really stuck with me all day regarding black people and money. To paraphrase:

"We spend money we don't have... on things we don't need... to impress people we don't like (or who don't particularly like us.)"

Part of his promotion of a program to help people build their financial futures... and not just focus on today.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

No... This Isn't 1920 U.S.

This is Mexico. 2005.

They say it's a cultural icon in Mexico. I don't live there (well, technically California is/was Mexico, but still...) I don't know... BUT I do know that this is how black people are still perceived in many parts of the world. As cartoons. Entertainment. Monkeys. And, if never challenged to become educated as to why certain images are perceived to be offensive, people will never grow and change. And stereotypes will continue. And people will act on those stereotypes when they encounter (or choose not to encounter) black people.

Did you know Mexico has a huge Afro Mexican population in Veracruz, Guerrero, and other parts of Mexico that isn't included in the mainstream of Mexican society and culture and history? Did you know there are more black people in Central and South America than there are in the United States? We don't get taught much about the African people transported to Central and South America during the Middle Passage. But we need to. Because it's reality. And it's history. And if we're trying to become better people, we need to be real with has happened in history and who ended up where (and how they are/have been treated).

Text from AP Wire Service...
A series of five stamps was released for general use on Wenesday June 29, 2005 issued by the Mexican government depicting an exaggerated black cartoon character known as Memin Pinguin, a child character from a comic book started in the 1940s that is still published in Mexico. The release comes just weeks after Mexican president Vicente Fox riled many by saying that Mexican migrants take jobs in the United States that "not even blacks" want. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)**EFE OUT**

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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

In Stores Everywhere... Today!

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The phone started ringing around 8:30 last night. My sister. Congratulating me. Asking me how does it feel being on the verge...?

Phone hasn't stopped ringing. Family. Friends. E-mail box filling up from people, mostly readers. My first novel, Down For Whatever, officially released today, Tuesday, July 5.

Found some great sites online reviewing the book: Rod (who's been a supporter from day one!); Kraig and Snap Magazine Online (a new friend from NYC); People Who Love Good Books (Shay's holding it down in South Carolina). I'm sure there are others I'm not seeing. Just send them my way if you find anything about me.

Someone e-mailed that there was an article and review in the Long Beach, CA newspaper in the Sunday book section. If you have it, please help me get a copy.

OK. I'm not caught up. I know in the grand scheme, this is just one book of thousands released every month. I know my three months working this book will come and go before I know it. But for now, I'm enjoying the moment.

Happy July 5th everyone!

Collage of photos from the weekend's At The Beach L.A. literary panel and book events. For it to be a happy, sunny, festive weekend, we're dressed awfully wintery, huh? Writers... I tell ya! (Saturday at the actual beach was a different story, though :-)
Posted by Picasa (photos courtesy of Trent Jackson and Qevin Oji)

Monday, July 04, 2005

ATBLA Literary Panel

One of the highlights of the weekend was having the opportunity to participate in the At The Beach L.A. Literary Panel.

Trent Jackson, Alphonso Morgan, Brent Dorian Carpenter, and I sat on the panel. Stanley Bennett Clay facilitated. It was tough. But very fun and community affirming. A nice intimate crowd of about a dozen came through during our hour together.

Stanley wove the conversation through many challenging topics: literary versus commercial fiction tastes; the mainstreaming of black LGBT literature; the creation process; navigating the industry whether you're self-published or published by a NYC publishing house. My favorite part of any panel is when it opens up to audience members for questions. The number one question: What advice would you give to aspiring writers/authors? The number one answer I hear: write... and write often.

Sometimes I feel like aspiring writers/authors put those who are published, by whatever means, on a pedestal and that we've reached the pinnacle. Yes, it is a great goal to have achieved publication. But I'm also not an expert. And we're all far from reaching our goals... we're all works in progress.

I enjoyed being on stage with Trent, Alphonso, Brent (a fellow Detroiter!!!), and Stanley. Great day. Great energy. Continue to look for great things from these guys and from other up and coming black LGBT writers. And definitely buy their books.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Patti Patti

OK. Up early. Enjoying the long weekend about to start. Loving Patti LaBelle on Good Morning America this morning. Love that she's still got that spring in her step. Keeping it way young, with the jeans, the "Hell naw" comment about Diane Sawyer wanting to sing background on a song, and the "Sing it heifer" with her REAL background singer. Cute.

Oh. What a weekend. Patti's taking it back on her new CD which I didn't even know was out. Classic Moments. But plan to get it now.