Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Buzz on Grey's Anatomy

Apparently, I've been turning the television off too soon on Sunday nights... because I've totally slept on Grey's Anatomy, the show that follows the hightly popular Desperate Housewives on ABC.

Well Grey's Anatomy has become a bonafide hit on its own, holding up its ratings even while DH is in reruns. And after talking with a friend about it last night, I think I've been sold on the show. Read Darrious Hilmon's blog entry Simply The Best to hear his thoughts on why the show is so good.

But I think what sold me wasn't necessarily the plotline (medical dramas don't usually do it for me), but the fact that the creator, executive producer, and writer is a black woman (a MAJOR feat in Hollywood) named Shonda Rhimes who, during the casting process, was very vocal that there weren't enough actors of color -- all colors -- being brought through for auditions. She wanted the best actors, period, and that meant looking at actors from all hues of the human spectrum, even though "the industry" only sent white actors her way. You can hear all about Shonda and the process at Tavis Smiley's site.

Thus, the multicultural cast of Grey's Anatomy that reflects our daily realities. And the actors of color aren't cast in stereotypical, comedy sidekick, best buddy kind of roles. Apparently (because I still have to watch) all the actors and characters are integral to the overall story. And the show is a hit!

That in itself made me perk up and want to watch and support.

Have you seen Grey's Anatomy? Please tell me what's good about the show...

New Year Resolutions on Writing

Many of us will probably make a ton of New Years resolutions in about a month... or perhaps some of us kept some from last year.

But one that I know I hear from many folks is this: I want to write.

And just like all resolutions, the advice I hear most is this: Start it and stick with it.

For writers, starting could mean a number of things:

1) Signing up for a first fiction class at your local community college or university extension program

2) If you don't like, or don't have money, for classes, it might mean checking out your local bookstore -- the independent or chain stores -- to see if there are any free one-time workshops happening in the coming weeks. Sometimes they offer free workshops.

3) If working with groups isn't your thing, maybe you'll want to check out some tips on beginning here or here. The second site, Paperback Writer, is a great site with daily tips on writing, editing, and publishing.

4) Even though most writers must work alone to create, eventually you'll have to share your work with someone. Is there a co-worker who's a secret writer? A neighbor who likes to read? Perhaps there's a gathering like Derrick L. Briggs' Stories in NYC, where folks can come together and share what they're writing and working on, in a non-judgmental environment? A favorite teacher you can share with? Or even an online buddy? It's nice to share with someone who'll be willing to support and challenge your work.

5) I would definitely encourage you to go to bookstore events where authors are reading and talking about their work. Where better to learn about getting started than from someone who has done it? Even if it means going to see writers you don't even know about... you'll learn something you never knew you never knew.

6) Finally, the main thing is just to write. Keep that notebook handy for jotting down ideas or funny lines you hear people say. And try to be consistent and persistent. For me, the early mornings work best -- like 5 am-ish. For others, it's from dinner to bedtime. Choose the time that's best for you, shut off the TV, cell phone, and IM (and maybe cut back on a bit of blog reading, lol) and you'll find time. There's always time for the things we find to be important. And one thing I find really handy: do NOT edit until your first draft is done... otherwise, you'll spend forever re-writing and never making progress forward. You can always edit later... once the piece is done. Keep that notebook handy for new ideas and new directions that come to you.

What other supplies might you need to get started or move ahead in your writing? Tayari Jones, who is celebrating a birthday, has a list of her favorite writing things on her blog.

And, as always, if you have questions you can always send me a quick note: fsmith827 at gmail dot com.

I know it's a month away before we're punch-drunk love and full of resolutions. But maybe thinking and planning for it now, whether it's writing or losing weight or smiling more, will help you when January 1 rolls in.

Others... feel free to chime in on getting started, please. Thanks!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Holiday Reading

I got a couple of e-mails asking me what books would I recommend they get for other people for the holidays.

It's hard. I'm friends with many writers, and never want to slight anyone.

And, asking about which books I like is like asking someone if they want a Pomegranate or Lemon Drop martini. They're all good, just depends on the flavor you want.

This year, I've highlighted a number of books that I've read. Usually, that means it's something I would pass along. Some of those have included books by Tayari Jones, Denise Hamilton, Kerry Madden, Pearl Cleage, Darrious Hilmon, and others. Many, many others...

Regarding books related to the black gay and lesbian community, I would definitely say pick up Beyond The Down Low by Keith Boykin. But there are a number of great writers and friends I've made this year while out touring for Down For Whatever. There is indeed a "Renaissance" happening, and black LGBT fiction is coming from all over the country. Check out this list on Amazon, highlighting black gay and lesbian focused literature, by T. Kelley. It's really good, comprehensive and can help with your book-buying decisions. It includes books by folks like Keith, Rashid Darden, Alphonso Morgan, Trent Jackson, and Dayne Avery, and many many others.

Other than that, if you're unsure of specific books to buy, store gift certificates are excellent for the reader in your life. And... especially those certificates from your local, independent booksellers. We gotta help keep them in business, you know?

What books will you be buying for folks this holiday season? Or asking for on your holiday wish list?

Call For Submissions: LOUDmouth Magazine


LOUDmouth magazine -- a feminist magazine coming out of Cal State LA -- is seeking essays (critical and/or personal), reportage, poetry, fiction, photography, illustrations, artwork and more for our spring issue on FOOD.

Topics may include but are by no means limited to:

  • struggles for food rights/anti-privatization movements
  • gendered and racialized aspects of restaurant work/women chefs/family restaurants
  • class and food/accessibility of food/buying food on credit/trendy food
  • sex and food/aphrodisiacs/fast-food commercials/gastroporn
  • urban agriculture/community farm projects
  • food and familial/community/ethnic traditions and connections
  • vegetarianism and feminism/food-related beliefs and lifestyles/eating organic
  • family recipes/recipes with a story
  • labor and food
  • feelings about and approaches to eating/joy of eating/disordered eating
  • food options in schools
  • food marketed toward women
  • starvation/obesity
  • food-related waste
    DIY: gardening/composting/eating on a budget/nutrition as healthcare

Deadline for pitches: December 12th

(What this means: If you want to write about any of the above topics or another topic related to food, send a pitch regarding your idea as soon as possible. Just send a brief note about what you're thinking and we'll start a back-and-forth about how it might work for this issue.)

Please note: Contributors need not be students nor Angelenos nor members of any particular identity group. Contributors do need to write from a feminist perspective that takes as a given the interconnectedness of multiple systems of oppression and that consciously avoids reinforcing whiteness, heterosexuality and the like as invisible/normative. Contributors who are enthusiastic and good with deadlines are greatly appreciated.

Please send all submissions to Christine Petit, Editor in Chief, at

feminism: fem'e-niz'em -n. [The] movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation and [all] oppression. - bell hooks

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Can You Keep A Secret?

It's amazing the things people will share, when assured of complete confidentiality or anonimity.

One of my favorite sites to check out is Post A Secret, where people send in postcards with one or two sentence lines of a secret they're keeping. New secrets are generally posted on Sundays. There are some mild secrets and there are some major life-changing ones that people keep... and share on the site.

If you're into writing fiction, some of these types of lines would be great opening lines and concepts for your work. Of course, you can't use the exact lines from the site. But these lines and secrets make you want to know more about the secret holder and the back story and the lengths the person goes to keep the secret. That in itself can drive a novel-length work. Or a great short story.

That's all for now. Enjoy the rest of the weekend... while there's still time left.

And keep this between you and me... :-)

Club Fighting

First, hope you all had a nice weekend. I did.

One thing I never understood was the idea of fighting at a club/bar. I mean, you're out to have a good time supposedly, and maybe sometimes that good time gets a little warped with the addition of alcohol or other things. Still it should be a good time... and especially when the venue is in an area of town where black and brown people are more likely to be service staff than consumers.

So Ivan of IvanDanielProductions/First Fridayz L.A. and I were volunteering at the same Thanksgiving Day location, when he shared that the Wednesday evening party, Metro, would be moving from its current West Hollywood location to a site at Hollywood and Vine. More information on the new venue on Ivan's site coming soon.

It only takes one or two to spoil the party... or get the crowd asked to leave... The physical fighting needs to be left on the big screen, and not in real life when regular people are just trying to have a good time. Let me add, I've always had fun at Ivan's events... whether it's First Fridayz, Metro, or the High Lyfe arts night at The Catch... Ivan's done a lot to energize the party scene for the black and brown crowds in L.A. in the past couple years.

But with some people already kinda sketchy about black and brown folks in certain parts of town, the third grade "he said/she said," "you stepped on my shoe," "you looked at my man" stuff needs to be eliminated from the list of things that make us upset. Gossip is more about the gossiper than you. Shoes can be cleaned. Men come and go...

Now, if you've been in a club fight... or know someone who has, maybe you can shed a little light on the subject. We hold no blame or judgment on past behavior here...

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

This four-day weekend will be full of activities, and I hope you enjoy all of them -- parties, food, travel, shopping -- as much as possible.

And throughout all of it, I hope you take time to reflect on the large and small things you are thankful for... and enjoy each moment as it happens.

I'll be volunteering on Thursday morning and then going to dinner at a friend's family home. It'll be like a Midwest and East Coast reunion... so many of us in L.A. are transplants and won't be heading home to see our families until Christmas.

Anyway, I hope you have a great holiday weekend.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2005

The Young and The (Don't Say It...)

You're only as old as your state of mind makes you feel...

Part of my weekend was spent with the 18 - 21 year old set, doing a little bit of research to develop of my characters for a writing project I'm working on.

It's been years since I've been in an 18+ club, and I went with a couple of my students to kinda show me the ropes, the ins and outs, blah blah blah. I don't spend much time in West Hollywood clubs, except for some Sundays at The Abbey -- Black Sunday, as we often joke, since the crowd is a little more black and brown on Sunday evenings.

But we spent time at places that are standards for the 18 - 21 set... Mickey's and Rage. And it's fun(ny) stuff listening to the language, seeing the parade of trendy work-study-bought fashions, and watching the dynamics of our 1984 - 1987 born neighbors.

It's like a fun time-warp that you're just kinda observing and reminiscing and then remembering that all the fun(ny) silly things and choices you made back then... these young folks will do. Not much changes. Except jheri curls are now replaced with mohawks of all shapes and sizes.

However... every single song that moved the crowd was a freaking sample of songs from my growing up years. Funny how music can make you feel... your age.

But... I had to let them know that there was once a group called Ready For The World whose song "Tonight" was the inspiration for the "slow jam" they were cuddling up next to each other onthe dance floor... Twista and Trey Songz "Girl Tonite."

You should have seen the jaws drop. For reals, they asked?

I wanted to... but just couldn't give musical history lessons. Didn't want to feel like I'm 875 years old :-)

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving! Oh, And Get Out. And Get Your Own Food, Too!

You probably missed this one. Why? Because it happened in the middle of the night Thursday going into Friday... while we were all sleeping, and when most reporters had already gone home from the debate. Strange, sneaky things happen in the night, my friends!

U.S. House Bill approves cuts to food stamp programs, student loans, and Medicare. Three things that help poor and working class folks hold on for just another day.

Oh, and the post Katrina world. Immigrant workers aren't being paid by shady bosses. And FEMA is putting Katrina-affected people out the hotels December 1. I don't know... um, if you lost everything, would three months be enough to get back on your feet? I don't know...

Of course, all this is tied to the war and tax cuts. They're not about to end the tax cuts on the rich and upper classes. They need money to fight the brown folks of Iraq. Where else to get the money... but off the brown, black, poor, old, and young (students!) in your own backyard. So compassionate.

Still... it makes for a very Happy Thanksgiving kick in the butt. Courtesy of the Republicans and from the folks who support the current regime in Washington. In other words, pull yourself up by your straps, oh, and Happy Holidays.

(On the literary note... I'm kinda wondering when the first Katrina references will start to appear in novels and characters' lives.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

MC in L.A.

A good friend of mine went to see Mariah Carey yesterday at Virgin Megastore on Sunset in L.A. Just wanted to share a picture. Just because. (See how excitedly she's looking at the novel summary on the left... and all the links to your blogs. lol) :-)

I Think I Might Be Straight

I found this "I Think I Might Be Straight" brochure, from Univ. of Florida Gay-Straight Alliance, in our office space this morning. It makes such a cute point... in that way that makes you think... and I wanted to share. This, as Oprah presents a show tomorrow (Thursday) called "I Knew I Was Gay When..."

It's funny what happens when you shift the circle of what's the norm, you get a different language and conversation... like the brochure text does... All text credit goes to the Gator Gay-Straight Alliance.

Discovering Your Heterosexuality
Being heterosexual means you are sexually attracted to and fall in love with the opposite sex. These feelings are normal and natural and most likely arise during childhood. Research has not shown whether the cause of heterosexuality is genetic, environmental or a combination of the two. We know that about nine in ten people are straight. Thus, in a large group of people, there are usually several heterosexual people present.

Family and Friends
If you choose to come out as heterosexual to your family, be prepared for their reaction. Your family may encourage you to get counseling or attempt to persuade you to change your mind. Deciding whether to tell your family and friends is a big decision. If you have doubts or questions, consult a counselor. Once your family and friends are comfortable with your decision, they can acknowledge knowing and loving a straight person. Parents may decide to "come out" when someone asks them when their son or daughter is "finally going to find a nice partner" or by responding to an anti-straight joke at a family reunion. If you are the parent of a straight child, you can find advice on various supportive websites.

Coming Out to Yourself
Being openly heterosexual can be a challenge, but the most important thing is being honest with oneself. It can be difficult to discover you are straight; you can find valuable information by reading. You don't need to rush to label yourself as straight. For some, heterosexuality may just be something new and exciting to try, but the majority of straight people discover that the heterosexual lifestyle suits them best. They realize that a happy and productive heterosexual lifestyle is possible.

Coming Out to Others
There are many reasons to come out. Some people come out because they are proud to be heterosexual, while others enjoy the opportunity of meeting other straight people. It's most important for you to come out because it's an expression of who you are. You probably want to meet other straight people for friendships or intimate relationships.

Be prepared for a wide range of reactions if you choose to come out. Your confidante may be shocked, angry or not surprised at all. He or she might even come out to you as straight! Get a sense of how the person you wish to come out to might react beforehand. For example, you might watch a TV show or movie that has straight characters and then discuss it. You might want to refer your confidante to a straight-gay alliance for more resources and support.

Being Yourself
Straight people are often accused of flaunting their sexuality. In a world of fixed and rigid gender identities, coming out may be the only way straight peole can make their sexual orientation known. Yet there is a difference between being forthright and flaunting. Most straight people are not out to make a statement. They simply want to be able to incorporate the many aspects of their lives the way gay people do -- by talking about their partners, wearing a wedding ring, or putting a photo of a spouse in the office.

But Seriously: The Point of This
Now that you know how it feels to have to defend your sexuality, here's how to help. First, and most obviously, be supportive of anyone who comes out. Second, don't engage in gay-bashing (verbally or physically) and don't keep quiet when others do. The world would be a better place if "coming out" wasn't a big deal and a brochure like this wouldn't need to exist.

Now... if you really are coming out, or have a friend/kid/relative who is, check out resources like the Human Rights Campaign or PFLAG, which can refer you to local or culturally-focused resources.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Brokeback Mountain

So I read the short story, Brokeback Mountain, by Annie Proulx yesterday.

It's from her short story collection, Close Range: Wyoming Stories. Just wanted to see what all the hype was about the film of the same name coming out later this fall, December 9.

Great story. Packs an emotional punch. And definitely defies the tired myth perpetuated in 2004 that only black men have affairs with other men while they're married.

The gist of Brokeback Mountain. From Walter Kirn's blurb on the book jacket, "Brokeback Mountain is the sad chronology of a love affair between two men who can't afford to call it that. They know what they're not -- not queer, not gay -- but have no idea what they are."

Read it in about an hour, it's about 50 pages. Good writing. On the literary side. Looking forward to the film, directed by Ang Lee, and starring Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal as the Brokeback Mountain lovers.

Hip Hop Hits L.A. Nashville Hits NYC.

So I know most of us will be glued to the VIBE Music Awards tonight on UPN. The show taped over the weekend in L.A., without any drama, and the winners can be found pretty much anywhere online. Should be a great show. Mary J. Blige is receiving the Legends Award. I'll Tivo this one.

Tonight, on CBS, Nashville hits Manhattan as the
Country Music Awards (CMAs) broadcast live from Madison Square Gardens. Country music's biggest night outside of the Grammy Awards. You already know I'm into country music -- and one of my favorites, Lee Ann Womack, is up for several awards -- six. Kenny Chesney has a new CD out today. Dolly Parton will be performing live!

The only thing that would make the night is to see Faith Hill singing "Like We Never Loved At All" with her husband, Tim McGraw. Love that song. Love that video. It's a perfect breakup song, especially if you still run into each other from time to time. Sometimes the world is too small.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Happy Birthday Daddy

So today is my dad's birthday. And I'm so looking forward to the upcoming holidays when I can go home and see him and my mom.

But yeah, it's his birthday. And it's weird. The other day while going through all the Everybody Hates Chris episodes I had on DVR, I started thinking about my dad. The dad on that show reminds me of my dad, especially when I think about when I was a kid. Hard working. A little frugal. Funny. Active. Willing to help out anybody with anything.

Sometimes I wonder how he did/does it all. He cooked our breakfasts every morning-- eggs, grits, the WORKS. Made our lunches -- more works and two pieces of fruit. Had dinner ready when we got home from school -- something different everyday, but lots of vegetables. Had the yard work done, house cleaned, and paid the bills (before computers and online banking, when you had to go to the gas, phone, and electric company and stand in line) before my mom came home and he went to work in the evening.

Anyway, I could go on and on about my daddy, and his love, sacrifices, pushing me, and giving unconditional support always. But I'll end with just saying Happy Birthday!

Artsy Weekend

Congrats to the Booked L.A. Book Club for celebrating five years of reading, friendship, and coming together without shade, competition, or drama. I was the featured author at the Booked L.A. September 2005 meeting, and have become good friends with several of the guys since that time. Anyway, they had the most fun celebration party on Saturday evening. Caribbean theme. Good food and drink. Oh, that dangerous rum punch!

Sunday met up with some friends at the Fusion film festival and saw some great new work that I hope you'll be able to support.

Of course we all know about Noah's Arc, and the cast and creator, Patrik-Ian Polk gave a great talk. Alec Mapa, the discussion facilitator, is fabulously funny! Alec is Mona's secretary on Half and Half, UPN Monday nights.

But hoping to come to your television screen are:

Rosa Negra, a pansexual, multicultural telenovela with its adventures of sexy butches, knife-weilding girlfriends and hot Latino men in seedy back rooms. Directed by Viva Ruiz, 24 minutes.

Rosa Negra was really fun, and really dramatic... like the novelas we all look at from time to time.

Saint Martin de 4th Street, about Martin, a 13-year-old boy living in 1980s Montebello, CA (hmmm, sounds familiar), who can't stand his mother's new girlfriend, but seeks solace in his drag queen neighbor and pray to Saint Martin de Porres. Directed by Robert Banks Ramirez, 30 minutes.

The boy who played Martin was fabulous, and reminds me of how a lot of us were growing up -- the eye rolling, talking back, the facial expressions.

The DL Chronicles, a sexy new drama. When a respectable married man can't resist the sweet temptation of his brother-in-law, keeping their desire on the down-low becomes the new soapy, sexy playground for sexual ambiguity, denial and betrayal. Directed by Deondray Gossett and Quincy LeNear, 30 minutes.

This was a crowd favorite... the scandal of the affair, the downfall of a marriage, the beautiful cast. Lots of oohing and aahing.

So google the films and the directors, send a short congratulatory note, and if you're in the position... try to schedule a screening so that these films can build buzz and momentum.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Fusion. LGBT People of Color Film Fest. L.A.

Behind The Scenes of Noah's Arc will be one of the discussions at this weekend's Fusion Film Festival in Los Angeles. That discussion will feature the show's creator, Patrik-Ian Polk.

The weekend looks promising, with a wide array of feature films, documentaries, and shorts being screened. Especially if you're into films by and featuring images of gays and lesbians of color.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Show We All Watched

So I don't have a lot to say about the show we all watched today... Oprah, Terry, Jonathan... except this: there really can't be any discussion about anything related to men, women, marriage, gays and lesbians, until we have the larger conversation about what conditions in society make it difficult or challenging for gays and lesbians to be honest about who they are and come out? And what role are people willing to take to confront the conditions in society that create homophobia? Until that conversation happens on a large and small scale, there can be no real exploration about the choices people make about their sexual orientation.

But The Real News Is...

California said No on 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78.

But we also said No on 79 and 80, when we should have said yes. You win some, and you lose some.

But the Warren Beatty vs Arnold 2006 governor's race in California is heating up. Warren and his wife, Annette Benning, were on ALL the local and state news and cable channels last night talking politics and looking very much the Bill and Hillary power couple that they're shaping up to be.

Only in California can two actors become the top politicians in the state... (Oh, and what happened to the mayor's race in Detroit? That's my hometown... and my sister might be looking for work if the race turns one way...)

Gym Talk: Oprah, Jonathan, Terry

So I'm writing this without having yet seen today's Oprah show with Terry McMillan and Jonathan Plummer. Neither have the women in my gym, but nonetheless, that didn't stop the early morning chatter. (I'll catch the show this evening... it's on DVR).

Anyway, a few people at my morning gym know I've written a novel featuring black and brown gay characters (who live in our part of town), and every now and then, a few will ask my opinion on something gay-related, or just to get a progressive point-of-view on an issue. I usually oblige, and then tell them I'm no more an expert than they are... that we're all capable of learning what/who we don't know. Anyways...

So like most gyms, there are televisions above the treadmills, and ours are always set to ABC7. It's like a freaking Disney monopoly, but that's besides the point. The Oprah commercials come on, previewing today's show that will come on in the late afternoon in L.A. And like clockwork, everyone's headphones come off, and the treadmills decelerate from from 7s, 6s, and 5s, to comfortable 3s for walking... and then talking.

The women were freaking out. "Lord, if my husband ever turned out to be..." "That's such a shame what happened to..." "Let's face it, every man is capable of..." The one on my left and my right asked me what I thought: you know about this stuff, right?

So I told them I know my own life and my truth. And I told them that I hope they look at the bigger picture beyond the personal dynamics between two people, Terry McMillan and Jonathan Plummer, whom none of us knows personally.

What's that, they ask?

I answer, dishonesty is wrong, no matter what the sexual orientation is. However, the BIGGER question and conversation I wanted them to have is this: What conditions in society make it difficult for gay and lesbian people to come out and be honest about who they are? Why is it usually on the gay or lesbian person to justify their existence? And why aren't straight people taking responsibility for homophobia and conditions that might make it difficult for gays and lesbians to come out?...

When we start to have that conversation, I explained, we'll have a society, and families, and schools, and churches, and media, that isn't so shocked and awed by a person choosing not to be honest about his or her sexual orientation. And then, on the flip side, when gays and lesbians choose to come out, they make it easier for others to learn and accept and come out when they're ready.

Maybe that was kinda deep for our normal morning exercise, but it's a conversation I've tried to re-frame everytime someone gets into the blame game about these kind of subjects.

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Naughty or Nice?

THESE are the kind of holiday cards I'd live to receive... and give!

From Anne Taintor, a fabulous artist, card maker, social commentator, based in New Mexico.

FABulously sarcastic holiday greetings and cards for other occasions... on her site! :-)


Monday, November 07, 2005

Paris Is Burning... For Real

So I had no clue about what's been happening in Paris these past few days, actually almost two weeks, until I saw this morning's Today Show. They call them riots. We call it civil disobedience. Whatever you call it, Paris is burning.

I need to read and learn more... but it sounds like the current situation stems from incidents oh-so-familiar to us in the U.S. -- police brutality against blacks and browns. Looks like its a youth-led movement. Of course, the story on the news placed blame at immigrants and Muslims living in Paris. So who knows? Every news story is spun these days, and I'm sure anti-French sentiments in the U.S. (since France's stance against the "war") will be a core theme in anything we see in the U.S.

I'll keep looking for more stories, but if you have your own insights or thoughts, please share to keep us up to speed. In the meantime, here's a timeline, courtesy of the BBC, of what's happening in Paris.

Poetry Opportunities

People just don't buy or read poetry books as much as they used to, but that doesn't stop poets from producing their great works. I don't know why poetry doesn't produce the great numbers that fiction or non-fiction do, but, oh well... I applaud the efforts of poets producing their chapbooks and books, and sharing their work whenever possible.

But there are some opportunities for poets to get published. Check out this one: The Beatrice Hawley Award. The deadline is December 1, 2005. When I find others, I'll pass them along.

But the best advice I share with those who aspire to be published is to subscribe to Poets & Writers Magazine. In addition to great articles on writers and their processes, the back half of the magazine is chock full of free money, so to speak -- residencies, scholarships, fellowships, contests, opportunities for publication -- for poets and writers. It's the best-kept secret.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Writing Opportunities via Marcela Landres Website

A couple of great writing opportunities found via the website of the fabulous Marcela Landres, editorial director and consultant, in NYC. She was a big help to me when I attended the VONA (Voices of our Nations Arts Foundation) writing retreat at University of San Francisco a couple years ago, and has been providing good advice since. Check out her site for additional opportunities...

Class: November 21-December 12
Part discussion, part workshop, part lecture, this course will take you from the philosophical (What is offensive?) to the practical (What are the mechanics of believable interior dialogue ethnic characters?) to the procedural (What is the market for multicultural fiction and how do I break into it?) Instructor Anita Doreen Diggs is the former Senior Editor/Director of One World Books, and is the author of three novels, The Other Side of the Game, A Mighty Love, and A Meeting in the Ladies Room. For more information and to register visit .


Deadline: November 24
Did you rush home from school to watch "Thundercats"? Did your mom miss the original Live Aid concert because she was busy giving birth to you? Was Dubya's run for office the first time you could vote? If so, Random House wants your life story, and it's willing to pay for it: the grand prize is $20,000. Random will publish the best 29 essays in a book titled Twentysomething Essays by Twentysomething Writers: The Best New Voices of 2006. For more information visit

Friday, November 04, 2005

Darrious Hilmon

I met Darrious Hilmon this summer in Atlanta, while our book tours came together at Outwrite Books. He came to my event. I went to his.

A Detroit native, like me, Darrious is the bestselling author of several novels, including 5 Dimes and Divalicious. I've heard they're laugh-out-loud funny, according to reviews, and his books are next on my to-be-read list. That should be this weekend, when I finish Babylon Sisters by Pearl Cleage.

Anyway, Darrious is one of the coolest folks out there. His entourage, which consists of his sister Javaki Hilmon (co-author on their new release, Mad Love) and close childhood friends, is a cool bunch and welcomed me. We discovered our Detroit six degrees of separation, starting with the great Renaissance (my high school) vs Cass Tech rivalry.

He's taking a hiatus from the road for a minute. Rest and relaxation. Very deserving, with three books already in the can and submitted. If you get a chance, check out his website and books.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Katrina and New Orleans Libraries

Imagine having no access to books or libraries... or internet. The folks in New Orleans know the deal, especially since Katrina hit in August.

Found this story in Library Journal, which shares among other things that 90% of the librarian staff in New Orleans has been let go... and only two libraries may open in upcoming weeks. Still a lot of work to do...

Hey, This Relationship is Kinda Sucky, So Why Am I Hanging on So Tightly?

If I were a blues or country music singer, this would be the title of a song I'd write for all the summer Pride season events. Or it would be the show-stopper finale before the club closes each night.

Sometimes... we hang on to romantic relationships, real or imagined, long-term or recently-formed, for just a little bit too long. Or can't let go because we can't see the prospect of another day without Boo-Boo Butterfield or ShaStanka Rollins... or can't see ourselves with anyone but Boo-Boo or ShaStanka.

But there is light. There is ALWAYS light at the end of the tunnel.

And two books you might want to put on your holiday wish list: He's Just Not That Into You and It's Called A Breakup Because It's Broken. The former came out in 2004. The latter, 2005.

Yeah, they're pop culturey. And funny. And some people don't get into the Sex & The City-ish tone and style, but they're cute books. And a nice kick in the arse to get you up and out and seeing the best you have to offer.

Your best is always there. ALWAYS there, even when you think you've been rejected, abused, torn, or misused.

But... don't call when you're at your worst (like 3:13 am after the club), don't stay in touch with his/her friends hoping that'll keep you hanging on (they were his friends, not yours, before you met), don't think s/he's THAT busy to return a call... your call, if you were truly the light of his/her eyes, would be the ONE THING he/she'd look forward to doing in the midst of a busy, crazy day.

Just remember... there is ALWAYS light at the end of the tunnel. You deserve to have your expectations met. Your best is ALWAYS there, even in the midst of blahness. And while romantic relationships definitely enhance your life, remember that your life was just that before Mr. or Ms. Right came into it.

Oh... and "Gaylord Focker" (nickname humorously given by No4Real4Real) is outta the picture. lol. And... this post could also apply to a job you're hanging on to, when you feel you would do better elsewhere :-)

Madonna. Hung Up.

Totally digging Madonna's new song and video, Hung Up.

I guess I'm hung up.

Time to dust off the boom box, tube socks, and short shorts.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Just Because. Mel Jackson.

Mel Jackson is one of the scene stealers in the stage production Friends and Lovers that I saw last week at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.

Cute show. Cute actor. More. Than. Cute. Mel got ALL the screams from the audience when he entered the stage.

Tons. Of. Screams. He's eye candy. And a good actor, too.

Friends and Lovers is based on the novel by Eric Jerome Dickey.

Mel Jackson is touring with the show. He definitely needs to be cast in a network series as a regular. Any suggestions?

Anyway, that's Mel Jackson. Just because.

$100 and Nothing!

$100 and Nothing! is the title of a short story by one of my favorite writers, J. California Cooper. Won't give any details away, but in short, it's the perfect revenge story for lovers done wrong. The story is in her collection, A Piece of Mine.

I discovered J. California Cooper's writing while on a trip to a black-owned bookstore in Chicago. I was looking for something... anything... to whet my literary appetite, and didn't know what to buy. You ever get that feeling in the bookstore? Well, the store owner enthusiastically recommended J. California Cooper. Went on and on about the story, $100 and Nothing! Said I would love the mix of old-fashioned storytelling, life lessons, and tell-it-like-it-is wit of Cooper's characters.

Since then, I've been a major fan. Met her once, at a signing in San Francisco. She's a character... in a good way. Told me one of her childhood beaus was named Fred. We laughed.

I recommend all of J. California Cooper's work, her short story collections and her novels. Her novel, Family, remains one of my favorites... that book made me cry for hours while reading. Again, won't give details away, but a mother's love is always present... whether she's near or far.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Halloween Is For Kids

Hadn't been to West Hollywood's Halloween Street Fair since I first moved to L.A. like five years ago. Went with the encouragement and egging on of a good friend and his boyfriend. Dressed kinda Hawaiian surf boy. Hawaiian shirt, tank, pooka shells, surf shorts, flip flops... I was Halloween cute. :-)

Traffice was a menace. But I arrived at J & Js house. Hopped in a taxi (which I didn't know we actually had in L.A.) to the festivities. I got home. I'm still home. One too many "Hate Myself in the Morning" drink specials. Didn't spend one dime, though, thanks to old and new friends. But... I'm having a productive day today at the keyboard doing some writing, cranking out something like a novel. I could do this stay-at-home thing on a regular basis and get used to it :-)

Will share a pic or two when I find my camera. It's somewhere. Halloween is for kids, the real ones and the big ones who do kiddish things like me. :-)

Strolling The Neighborhood

Some new online neighbors you may want to know about:

Photos (artistic): L.A. Foto Boy

Photos (eye candy): Most Proper

New boy blogger (L.A.): D-Place

Author (L.A.): The Last Noel

Lit spot: The Old Hag

Cup of culture: LuxLotus

Pop, Fashion, Culture spot: Just My Cup of Tea