Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Ghetto Savants

A while back I told you about this book, Shady, by Blaine Teamer. One of the most fun books I've ever read. Laugh out loud funny. Check it out here on amazon.

So I finally get to put a face to a name... not so bad a face either, and nice shirt filler too... and here is a blog featuring some of the other projects he's working on... The Ghetto Savants.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Little Outta Commission

The blogging has taken a bit of a back seat, yeah I know.

Three deadlines. Two for my day job, due Thursday and Friday. One for my book job, due Friday... which will probably become Monday.

I do have stuff on my mind and will blog about it as soon as I can focus again. In the meantime, hope you're well and... maybe let me/us know what you're reading lately?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Rainy Random Thoughts

I've been asking my head writer for a storyline, since I've been backburner for a while. I think I may have one... I hope, fingers crossed.

I think I got hit on yesterday. But I'm not sure. I guess I'll find out once I call him. He did it old-school style. "Here's my number," and tore off a corner of paper, wrote it down. "It would be fun for you to show me around some places." And he's far from old-school-- he's in the brightly-colored hoodie school, lol. In the book events I've done since Right Side has come out, we've had some fun discussions about age dynamics and romantic relationships. Now maybe I'll get to experience some of what we've discussed. lol.

Angie and Jesse are back on All My Children! Childhood memories!

Um, so, a lot of people think that getting a book contract means instant riches. Um, not so much. Here's an interesting dose of reality from The Debutante Ball blog on book sales. Just in case you thought we are ALL dripping in bling and furs.

More on the Karibu Books closing here. It wasn't all about business, WalMart and chains apparently. It was a little personal, from what I can tell in the article. That's too bad.

And if any of you are working on some writing stuff this weekend, be sure to check out the site of Marcela Landres. Lots of cool resources there. I met Marcela a few years back when she spoke at our VONA workshop. The BEST advice I'd ever gotten about writing and publishing. She broke it down business-wise, much to the upset stomachs of the so-called artists who say they don't care about audiences, dollars, contracts (but they really do).

Anyway, enough about work -- though I do have a major deadline like next Friday, Feb 1 for my new book... praying I'll meet it. And I'll keep you posted on if that storyline takes off... or if it's just another one that fizzles from the headwriter.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Back... and Forth

So, the good folks over at the Backstory website published my essay on the making of my latest novel, Right Side. Go check it out when you have time.

I know it's winter, but it's a good time to start being proactive about your summer VACATION time. If your HR folks allow, now is the time to schedule your time off for the whole year... including getting those coveted holidays and 3-day weekends NOW before it dawns on other people to schedule them off.

One of those vacation plans might include summer writing workshops... if you're a writer type. Why not try this one in San Francisco, which takes place around one of the happiest times of the year there, Pride season.

VONA (The Voices of Our Nation Arts Foundation) is a non-profit organization associated with the University of San Francisco's School of Education that is dedicated to nurturing writers through the traditions, perspectives, and aesthetics of writers of color. Founded by Junot Diaz, Elmaz Abinader, and Diem Jones, the faculty has included Terry McMillan, Martin Espada, and Willie Perdomo. For more information, visit the VONA website.

Quick disclaimer... I did the program a few summers ago. Loved every minute of it!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Quick Bookstore News

The staff at Books Inc in San Francisco's Castro District are some kinda awesome. Thanks for the warm welcome and TONS of publicity for the event we did this week.

On another book note, a sad one, I just read that Karibu, the black-owned book chain in the D.C. area is closing down within a few months. I'd always heard great things from authors who got to do events there... and that the crowds were always great for readings.

Of course it was just a few months ago we were worried about Esowon Books in L.A. closing down. They're still open. But still it's good to stop by and support them by buying some books at Esowon. I'll be there on Monday, February 11 at 7pm doing a signing event.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Weekend In Atlanta

It seemed almost fitting and something surreal to be in Atlanta over Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend. Just all that history, tradition, and the legacy in the air. Really nice going through the Auburn Ave./historic district.

I did a book signing event over at Outwrite Bookstore and Coffeehouse.

It's always a crapshoot when you're a writer, you travel away from your home base, and your event isn't tied to a school group or a book club organization. You never know what kind of audience you'll get.

Luckily, the folks did come out on Saturday night... yeah, Saturday night 8 pm, to talk Right Side of the Wrong Bed. This, despite the "snow" (which really wasn't snow, because it didn't stick, but you can't tell the folks in ATL it was no big deal). This, despite it being super cold in ATL over the wknd. This, despite me being incredibly sick (my cold just went to the 10th degree that night -- but I refused to cancel).

Anyway, very good night. Great crowd. Great comments and questions. And a lot of my friend-friends -- Fiona, Phoenix, Marlon, Jarvis, Donna, Alicia, and more. But afterwards, all I did was go to dinner and then to bed.

Later, Fiona and her cousin gave me this medical concoction to take just before I got on the plane back to L.A. I don't know what it was... but it worked! I feel like a million bucks.

Now... off to the gym this morning, then a late morning flight to San Francisco for a signing event at Books Inc. on Market Street in the Castro.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

From Adult To Teen In 60 Seconds

One just announced a baby is on the way. Then one who just got married annouced a house was bought over holidays. Then one announced they're excited about taking the kids on college tours this month and next. (Little do they know I have a rental property... but I don't announce it 'cuz I wasn't raised that way.)

And the oohs and aahs come from the announcements. Like a scene from "The Office."

The hetero-normality of it all. And most don't even recognize it, just how much we "norm" hetero life, and everything else is just... well listen on.

And then someone looks at you... "Well, at you're single and you get to go out, you have your books, and you travel, and you have fun."

Because they think that's all gay folks do. Is have fun... and never grow up. Or am I just having one of those pensive times of the month?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Three Hot Movies

So I spent much of the weekend FINALLY getting over a cold. But I managed to see three hot movies, all of which I highly recommend.

In theatres. Juno. Possibly the best written film this year, and one of the best I've seen in a long time. About a smart and witty 16-year-old girl who's pregnant and decides to give the baby up to a family who really wants a baby. Initially, when I saw the previews last fall I didn't think this would be for me. But after some convincing, and hearing ALL the actors and critics raving about it, I gave in. So glad I did.

On Netflix. El Cantante. The biopic film on a legendary salsa singer. Stars Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony. Again, initially I didn't want to see this in theatres. Probably because I didn't know the singer's story. But I got into the acting, music, and story of El Cantante. So glad it came in the mail this weekend.

On cable. Combover: The Movie. Yes, a documentary about the legendary hairstyle plaguing much of the world. This one follows real life men who have chosen to use their remaining strands of hair to create some really creative hairstyles. It's funny, sad, and cringe-worthy at the same time. But definitely worth watching.

Too bad we didn't get to see the red carpet festivities of the Golden Globes, though. It was a beautiful day in L.A. on Sunday, perfect for red carpet festivities, and for those of you not living here, lots of people make livings off these events -- designers, caterers, limo drivers, valet parkers, makeup artists, and botox specialists. So it was kind of a bummer day, thus my movie watching binge.

Maybe next year.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Some Music Can Make You Feel Like... Age Is A Landslide

OK. So I love that song Landslide... the Stevie Nicks one... about getting older, seeing the landslide of age blah blah blah.

So. Clue number one that times are a'changing.

You're dancing to the newest Janet Jackson song, Feedback. Mostly because you're part of her base, i.e. the fans who have liked and followed her since Control and Rhythm Nation, and/or gay of any age. And you still like her music and artistry.

But while dancing, you notice you don't know one word of what she's singing. But all the folks born in the 80s dancing around you do. All you know are the words "Feedback. Feedback." And you're like, "There are actual words in the song?"

Funny moment. Um, but like Stevie Nicks sings, "I'm getting older too." Music is a nice clue when you're straddling that line between beatiful snow-covered mountain meadow... and an avalanche.

PS. But I am feeling much much better. A cold knocked me out for like three days this week.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Seeing Me Naked

It's the new novel by my friend Liza Palmer... Seeing Me Naked. I think you should pick it up.

Hmmm. What's the Fred way of describing the book? OK.

Imagine that everyone in your family has met and exceeded all their life's expectations and goals. And you're the one who's lived life by your own standards and still reaching your potential, yet you still want to live up to your family expectations.

I think that's one way of summing it up. But like Liza, it's funny, fabulous, and for anyone who gets that late 20-something angst about where life is going, Seeing Me Naked will resonate.

I went to Liza's debut reading and signing last night in Pasadena. Still sick, so I was sweatshirted/turtlenecked up, away from people. But I enjoyed the event and seeing other writers and friends nonetheless.

Hope all is well with you!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Hot New Janitor

So I don't know about you.

But I've got a "thing" for things blue collar, rough around the edges, bad boy type. (i.e. the "redeeming the bad boy" dating entry last week...)

Anyway, we've got a hot new janitor who started in the organization last week on January 2nd.

And he's driving everyone good, sexy crazy with his style (he nixed the janitorial uniform, for his tight v-neck t-shirts, sagging jeans, and the iPod which blasts hip hop tunes). And he's friendly. And he's professional. And he's somewhere under 30, probably under 25, from our guesses. And he passed the background check which everyone goes through to get hired, so we know he's not a documented crazy or criminal. And he was just some random find out the applicant pool apparently.

And everyone who's single -- man, woman, undecided -- is talking about him. When we walk to the restroom or lunchroom. When we gather around the water cooler. After he leaves our offices after picking up the trash, we're picking up the phone. "Ma-a-a-a-a-ry, what's up with the new janitor?"

He's single, some busy-body already got that info. We've seen her flaunting her tight sweaters around him.

What's the fascination we have with the new people who join our organizations? What's the fascination when it's the janitor, delivery person, or maintenance person?

Why was that storyline so hot on the Soul Food television series, when Teri met Damon the delivery guy at her workplace?

Monday, January 07, 2008

Distorted Vision

Has this ever happened to you?

You dress in the morning in an outfit that looks awesome and professional.

But by late afternoon... maybe it's the brightness of the office lights, the sunlight, or the fact that you ate... lunch... that same outfit makes you look like a fatty pancakes? Somehow, it just morphed into something else over the course of the day?

Just thought I'd share. That's exactly how I feel I look right now. lol. And I've got a few hours left and DON'T want to get up or be seen. It'll look awfully weird wearing my coat to go to the bathroom.

A humorous mid-afternoon break.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

A Writer's Thanks and No Thanks Moment

First off... I'm thankful for a lot. And working hard toward improving and protecting myself from the things that provide me challenge.


On the thanks side. Tess Gerritson writes about how book writers haven't been hit by technology as much as writers of other products, specifically songs and movies.

On the no-thanks side. Tayari Jones writes about a NYT article in which the creator of a highly successful HBO series had one of her ideas lifted and updated by a (former) friend and associate.

Lessons here... I always buy books, and I always buy them new from bookstores or reputable online sites... NEVER used.

The other lesson... Keep your ideas to yourself as much as you can. But you don't have to be so paranoid as to copywrite yourself... once you get published, the publisher takes care of that for your finished product.

Honestly, there's no such thing as a new idea or storyline. Everything is recycled, repackaged, given its own spin in a new product. But then again, there is too close for comfort.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Stuff Like This Just Makes Me...

Wanna pull an afro puff.

Student comes into my office. Now, my first question before any greeting is, "Are you registered to vote?"

So he goes, "Yeah."

So I ask, "So what did you think of the Iowa elections yesterday?"

He goes, "My dad was mad. He says Obama is racist."

I go, "I've never heard that before about Obama. Maybe other candidates. But not Obama. Maybe you should research Obama's views and speeches before taking your dad's word. Do you think that's a good idea?"

He goes, "Well, my dad's usually right. He votes for the family."

I go, "What do you mean?"

He goes, "Oh, we do mail in ballots. He votes for all five of us in the family."


Needless to say, I gave him a good talking to about how since he's a college student about to graduate that he needs to start taking responsibility for his voting decisions... not relying on his dad. He is from a family of color, though not African American. Their five family votes... apparently will go to Hillary Clinton.

Then, I remembered having a similar conversation with a young lady last year about how her boyfriend told her she needed to vote for Bush in the last election. And she did it. And regretted it.

Are we still in the Stone Age? Or the 50s?

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Do Ya Wanna Caucus With Me?

So I saw The Color Purple musical in L.A. last night with my friend/ex who works for a local politician. The musical was great.

So was the conversation prior to the show. While he's not being sent to Iowa, he is going to New Hampshire for presidential primary work this weekend with the staff of the politician. They all gotta help their candidate.

Which leads me to tonight's caucus events in Iowa. I had dreams all night about the caucus outcome. I guess I like politics a little much... or just excited that we're counting down the last year of the current regime.

Anyway... I'm undecided. I'm happy with all the three frontrunners on the Democratic side, and so yeah, I'm a Democrat. I think you knew.

Though I am undecided, I have been sporting a bumper sticker for one candidate. I have been leaning toward HER since there was speculation she would be running a couple years ago. Hillary Clinton.

But my undecidedness comes in this form. Idealism versus practicality.

Idealistically, I would love to see a woman or black person become president. Heck, we deserve it and are ready. Thus, I'm straddling the Clinton and Obama line. In terms of experiences, I feel like I have a firmer grasp of Clinton's experiences and positions, mostly due to her visibility for the past fifteen years. But I also like the feeling of change that Obama seems to talk in his stump speeches, though I've only really known about him in the past year or so.

Overall, I really like John Edwards... and his wife Elizabeth. They are likeable to me. And I like the fight for the working family mantra they've embraced. If I voted/decided to vote just on who I really like, it would be Edwards.

So that's my idealism on all three.

My practicality side says... Democrats needs to win the presidency, and ultimately the party needs a candidate who can realistically win a national election. As much as things have changed socially, I'm skeptical about a person of color having a chance to win a national election. I'm still skeptical about a woman having a chance, but I think that chance is a little more plausible.

Which leads me to think... who can run against and win against the conservative Repub machine. I think the Clintons (and yeah, I kinda put them together in a package deal) have that chance because they've done it before. They seem to know how to win elections. I think Edwards could too. He just seems really smart and personable.

Last night before the musical I watched a story on CBS Evening News w/Katie Couric. An interesting voting trend the story noted... in Iowa, a lot of undecided Repubs and those unhappy with the Repub candidates are leaning Obama.

So of course, the conspiracy theorist side of me thought... what if this recent surge in Obama's numbers in Iowa is because of Repubs thinking/knowing the same thing... if Obama is the eventual Democratic nominee, there's the national election handed over to Repubs again. And then the Repubs win again.

Again, I think as much as things have changed... there's all those red states that I just can't see embracing candidate of color. Not to mention, I still have women students who say their dads, husbands, brothers tell them who to vote for when they ask who to vote for (it's called empowerment... learn and decide for yourself, not your dad's or husband's opinion!)

I don't know. That's why I'm undecided. Luckily, California's primary is a month away. And depending on how Iowa and New Hampshire go for the candidates, my choices may be narrowed down and I'll have only one or two candidates to choose.

Thank God I'm not living in Iowa. But I imagine that's how my caucus conversation would go if I were going to a caucus meeting in Iowa tonight.

It all comes down to idealism vs practicality for me. But I'd be happy with any of the three Democratic frontrunners, Clinton, Edwards, or Obama.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Back To The Grind

OK. So maybe part of it is that I haven't had to follow a schedule since December 14.

Part of it is that I was up late last night ROFLMAO because of reading the funniest stories on this blog: The Adventures of Chubby Chocolate. Oh. My. God. Hilarious stories. One of my faves was reading about this one gym incident because of a parking spot.

Please bring us new stories! You can also try this one: Disco's Gruuv, another fun blog I found over the holidays.

One thing that'll get me through the day.

Looking forward to seeing The Color Purple musical tonight here in L.A. Yeah, I'm the last person in the U.S. to see it. And yeah, I'm one of the few kids who didn't venture over to NYC to see it on Broadway... and what? lol.

Happy Monday/mean Wednesday!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Taking On A Lova...

Aaaah, the new year. Hope it's happy so far! And I did smile a lot last night, as in the advice friends told me (and I wrote about yesterday) about not looking so serious. Yeah, it's a load of crap, the looking serious thing -- because I'm not feeling serious even if I look it -- but smiling (or was it the Goose and tonic?) does open up a lot of conversations... and that fun eye-flirting game.

So. There. :-D

So love that one line from an old Sex and The City episode, when Carrie declares "I'm thinking of taking on a lova..." Maybe it was some other show. Who knows?

But I'm kinda feeling that way. And yeah, I've been happily single for about two years, so I'm not needy like that. But I'm thinking of taking on a lova.

Not that it's as easy as snapping your finger and poof, here comes a long term situation. I can be a little bit picky about who I like. Yeah, that can be a problem. I've heard from some of my familial and friend elders there comes a time, like the mid-30s, when you have to make some choices. Stay picky. Or pick yourself out of the market.

I don't wanna believe it. But I kinda believe it. Do you?

Part of me needs to resolve a little dating pattern I've had since forever. I'm a habitual "I think I can redeem the bad boy" kinda person. And they're usually younger than me (now... though when I was younger, they were older), a little bit more urbanly/street knowledged, the cute kind that can't resist all the attention they get for their cuteness, and not quite at their life potential. But they're fun. Lots of fun.

If I resolve that one little thing... can't tell u why I'm attracted, but at least I recognize it. Otherwise, my list of needs is really quite attainable, and mostly the oppostive of what I've dated in the past... except for the fun thing. That list is a private thing, but one very important quality is being culturally aware and culturally empowered. Nuff sharing. The rest of the list is private, but they can feel free to fall in the looks range of anyone here :-)

In the meantime, why did I wake up with two old school classics in my head: Love is Contagious by Taja Sevelle... and Let Me Be The One by Five Star.

Who else has thoughts on taking on a lova this year?