Friday, February 29, 2008

Crush(ed)... To Just Friends

OK. It's Friday. Let's chill on some Crush by Zhane.

OK. So, now. How much time has to go by before a crush becomes a "just friends?" Like when you know the crush will turn to friendship, instead of romantic relationship? Is there a time frame?


Or is it just like attraction that festers like Angie and Jessie? Maddie and David? Tea Cake and Janie from Their Eyes Were Watching God?

What if it never materializes? What if it stays in a state of nothingness? What if it's just one-sided, just in your head, not his?

Something's on my mind... Happy Friday!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Some Things I Never Thought I'd Do

So since I'm heading down to San Diego today for a reading/book event, I've been reading a bit from a few of my literary influences/mentors. It's part of the gig... sharing someone's work who influenced us.

I've narrowed my choice down to E. Lynn Harris Invisible Life, which I wrote about once and how it influenced me personally when I discovered it. There's a couple passages there that I know students who are figuring themselves out would identify with. That relateability and being interesting factor are important when doing an event with college students.

My other choice is the first chapter of Pearl Cleage's Some Things I Never Thought I'd Do. It's so well written, timely, and entertaining. It focuses on an ex-drug addict sitting in a mortgage office, trying to explain how she'll catch up on her delinquent mortgage payments. Really fun stuff and flows well while reading out loud. It would be fun to introduce her work to a bunch of young folks.


Anyway, will be at the UC San Diego Cross Cultural Center at 5 pm today (Thursday) along with Fiona Zedde. If you're there, stop by.

It's a beautiful day for a drive along the ocean. About 80, sunny, light breeze. I might even open up the sun roof... that's something I haven't done this year.

Geez, I love SoCali!


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Your Wow Wow Wow Wow

I'm not a teeny bopper, but I do hit the gay dance clubs.

So I guess that makes me ripe for the Kylie Minogue demographic targeted with this song/video Wow. From her latest CD, X... a most excellent CD.

I got a crush on someone in my day job. And everytime I see him, I just go "your wow wow wow wow." lol.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Aaah. OK. Not That Major. But...

Well, I really don't need one... a nerve pill, but I kinda do. I'm a little perplexed. (Remember the old folks in our family and their nerve pills? lol)

So later this week, Thursday, I'll be heading over to UC San Diego to do a reading. In the Cross Cultural Center on the campus. With Fiona Zedde.

In addition to reading part of my current work, I have to read a short excerpt from someone who was/is an influence to my literary life, and then talk about why.

I'm torn. Could use some feedback, feedback.

James Baldwin. Because of his literary giant-ness. Question is... which piece?
E. Lynn Harris. Because his was the first I'd read that spoke to my identities.
Terry McMillan. Because her work made me believe I would be able to write and publish one day.
J. California Cooper. Because I just love her work, the life lessons in her work, and how great I think her stories are.

There are others... Alice Munro, Kerry Madden, Eric Jerome Dickey. A lot of work I admire and influenced me literary habits. I like to read more accessible pieces that people "get" rather than try to read something that is... you know...

Fiona's already told me who she's reading. So now it's up to me.

A Pic Is Worth...

A million bucks to me. Right now.

So I got this pic from the folks at Books Inc in San Francisco from a reading I did there in January... just a few weeks ago. The staff there were great. And did a LOT of work to publicize our event.

But then I realize. I'm such a bad author. I haven't taken any pictures (with my own camera) at any of my recent events.

So... if you have some, or one, from when I was in your area, please share them with me. My email is fsmith827 at gmail dot com.

I'd like to keep some record of the work I did with the most recent novel. Oh yeah, and feel free to lift this one if you want... just go ahead and right click save. lol.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Unusual Suspects

I heard about this theatre company, The Unusual Suspects, the other day while listening to my favorite public radio station in L.A., KPCC 89.3.

It's a theatre company formed to help formerly incarcerated youth to transition into something productive once they are out the system. In addition to helping the youth themselves, the program only does productions that promote personal pride, social justice, and community building.

It's L.A. based. Sure there is something similar in your community.

The whole topic of incarcerated youth reminds me of a great novel by Kalisha Buckhannon, Upstate. It's the story of two young people trying to keep their love alive while one is in prison, the other is not.

Kalisha has a second novel that just came out, Conception. It's gotten great reviews like her first novel.

Hope you get a chance to give your support. Happy Friday!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

But Did He Really Wanna Come Out?

So a good friend of mine, who I've known for about ten years, who has always been an open-minded straight, came out to me over the weekend.

Well, he didn't exactly come out. He was... forced? I guess.

I ran into him with his new partner over the weekend. They were in an unmistakable embrace, hug, kiss, and I just happen to look around and spot my friend and his man. I had to do a doubletake headshake... my friend and a man?

Then he did the whole "explaining"... how he's recently decided to be open about whoever he dates, that this guy he's dating pursued him, that I'm only the second or third person he's "told" about this phase of his life.

I don't think he would have told me anything had I not run into him. And though no one really owes ANYone an explaination of their life, I guess I kinda felt that I'd be among the first to know. I mean, he knows... KNEW... everything about my life, including the man date parts.

I'm tripping, but not tripping, ya know? I mean, he's happy. I'm happy for him. Still, it feels a little weird. I'm still processing since the weekend.

If anything, I'm happy that my 'dar isn't that off. That all those perfect-straight-boy crushes can kinda come true... like ten years later. If you're willing to wait for their process for ten years. lol.

Know what I mean?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Questions. No Answers.

Tonight (Wednesday @ 7 pm) in West Hollywood park, there will be a candlelight vigil for 15-year-old Lawrence King, who was killed in L.A. area school because of his sexual orientation.

The part that's made me most sad about this case is that Lawrence King was in the foster care system, living in a shelter for abused and neglected children. Just made me think a lot about the fact that he may have NEVER had a safe place to be, including school... or had anyone to support him in his short life.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Comfy Monday Off

Hope you had a great weekend... and if you're celebrating the 3-day weekend, with today off, even better! Love these 3-day weekends.

Flying up to the Bay Area today to do a talk at the Delphine Intercultural Center at Saint Mary's College of California this evening. If you or someone you know is in the area, stop by. Give a call for specific campus location and time.

Met up with some friends last night. Was a fun night, but got a little heated... the Clintons versus the Obamas, ya know? All good. We compromised... what about a 16-year plan? 8 for one; 8 for the other to follow. Someone will make a great VP this time around. lol.

Anyway, here's some old school lovin' for ya... Comfort of a Man by Stephanie Mills; and Comforter by Shai (dang, I had a major crush on like all of Shai, lol)

Happy Monday!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Break Any Woman Down.

In this case, the friends we're hanging out with are characters in Dana Johnson's brilliant short story collection, Break Any Woman Down. The short story genre is usually not my thing, mainly because I can't seem to get it right in my own writing, but Dana Johnson's collection makes me love short stories more than ever.

Tackling characters of several ethnicities, classes, and genders, Dana Johnson can't help but make you fall in love with the stories of the little black girl with her white boy crush in the suburbs, the stripper and the porno star star-crossed relationship, the man who feels less than for wanting a woman who is with another guy, the lonely bar patron, and the Persian sisters having tea and talking.

What is so cool about the collection is that Dana Johnson paints a picture of the new U.S. A place where your friends or lovers can be of any ethnic background, immigrant status, sexual orientation, or money status... and it just is. No questions about why these people can't be in your life. They just are.

And, while you're getting acquainted or re-acquainted with friends in Break Any Woman Down, you'll be comforted to know that Dana Johnson is the only black woman to EVER win the Flannery O'Connor Award for short fiction. A great accomplishment. A great collection. Take a look. Here's one review.

Learned about her from Tayari Jones a few years back. Maybe you can get acquainted this weekend.

In The News

I don't know if it's made news in your part of the country.

But this week, there was a high school shooting just north of the L.A. area, that resulted in a young man's death... and the shooter, a juvenile as well, being charged as an adult... and with a hate crime. Story here from L.A. Times.

They say it may be related to sexual orientation... the guy who died may have been bullied by the shooter and the shooter's friends due to his perceived sexual orientation.

Sad how children can be one way at home. And then another way once they leave the house.

When I once had to coordinate conduct cases at a university, it was amazing how much parents were in denial about, or would defend, their college-age children's conduct and behavior. I would keep the poker face, and think, "Your child is an amazing actor."

Anyway, sad situation up in Oxnard. Both shooter and victim are minors. I'm sure both families are extremely sad about the circumstances they are enduring.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Cherish The Love Day

Whether you look at today as a Love Day or a Single Awareness Day, it's all good, because you/we're alive to see another day... and hopefully in good spirits and health.

So the day wouldn't be complete with showing some love to Toni Morrison and her novel Love. I loved it, no pun intended. There was some intense love and rivalry going on. But I just loved the way she puts together sentences, thoughts, words.

Yesterday, in addition to the Promising Series panel, I was asked to guest lecture in a class on Relationships and Communication. Imagine me, an expert, having had my Erica Kane share of fun and relationships. But it was fun and insightful. Cool students.

Some fun Valentine's Day confessions on the Post a Secret blog.

Another love note... don't drink and text. I admit, I'm guilty of this to the third degree. But... if you're looking for some new flirty text material, check out this site Let's Have Txt .

And what would the day be without some Sade. A video. A cd. Sade puts everyone in a mood, right?

Hope you have some safe Text, Sex, Fun with an Ex, Alone Time with your Religious Sect today!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Link Up Wednesday

I'll be back with some more originality soon... until then, a sample of what's out there in blog world...

Fun and informative stuff always at Tess Gerritsen's blog. Today... an author's guide to staying sane. I'm guilty of a few things on her list.

Alisa Valdes Rodriguez, one of my faves and literary role models, is back on the blogging scene again. She always has some thought-provoking and fun insights into the world.

Mary Castillo spoke to a standing room only crowd at the bookstore last night. Lots of students who'd never met a writer (ahem, I've worked with many of them and they didn't know I wrote novels... but anyway...). Many who want to write/publish novels one day. She was very cool answering all the questions... if you work at a school/organization, Mary Castillo is one to invite.

D-Place has me thinking some more again. Check out his online space.

Discovered The Bourgeois Nerd the other day. I'm digging it so far. Hope you will enjoy it as well!

Happy Wednesday. If you're in L.A., stop by The Promising Series reading tonight at 7:30 in West Hollywood (A Different Light Books).

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Little Hodge Podge For Tuesday...

Will be participating in tomorrow night's The Promising Series panel at A Different Light Bookstore on 8853 Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood. It starts at 7:30 pm, Wednesday, February 13. Read more from series director, Noel Alumit.

I guess I didn't get the memo... still on dial up. Since when did LL Cool J turn 40? And why does he look as good as he did when he first started rapping... heck, better than he did in the day? Those SMITH genes, I tell ya. Thanks Hoodsworld for the images. :-) Oh... and yeah, LL did put his workout secrets on paper in his Platinum Workout book.

Um. So I stumbled across one of my young cousin's MySpace page last night. It had some pretty interesting and unknown information, friends, habits, and (foul/dirty)LANGUAGE... that I don't think the fam would really feel. Should I pretend I never saw it? Say something to the fam? We're talking a newbie at the college level... the parents are still footing the bill.

Finally, just ordered the novel The Senator's Wife by Sue Miller. Something about unhappily married couples who stay together anyway... especially wives who stay, even though they know he strays... kinda has always fascinated me. A few years back, I read her novel While I Was Gone, and was hooked on her work.

That's all for now. Til later...

Monday, February 11, 2008

Mary Castillo. Switchcraft.

Switchcraft by Mary Castillo. Started reading it (finally) this weekend, though it's been out a couple months.

This adds to the roster of novels by the Chica Lit author, who has several novels and anthologies to her credit. We met a couple years ago during the Chica Lit writer conference in Miami.

I'll be going to her book reading/signing over at the Cal State L.A. bookstore on Tuesday, February 12 at 6 pm.

I've read one of her other novels, Hot Tamara, and I think you'll enjoy her work.

Romantic comedies with a Latina twist, as she calls them.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Better Single Than Sorry

It's Valentine's Day week. And inevitably, many conversations or thoughts will drift into the romantic relationship territory. Looking for love, lacking love, leaving love. I think it's funny how people in relationships want to be single again; and people who are single want to be coupled off.

Anyway, one of my fave bookstores, Vroman's in Pasadena, has a fabulous Better Single Than Sorry display up with some fun books.

Some of these are their... some are my own additions. Happy readings... and let's celebrate the single in all of us...

Kiss Me, I'm Single: An Ode to the Solo Life. Inspirational, fun stories about being single.

Dumped. A collection of short stories about heartbreak... some serious, some pretty fun.

Things I've Learned From The Women Who Dumped Me. Humorous stories from men about being dumped.

Darkside Zodiac in Love. A fun look at the less-than-nice aspects of each zodiac sign. Snarky tidbits about who's most likely to be a game player, cheat, and who gets an A+++ on the "Bitch/Attitude" scale.

All in fun. Single or coupled, happy or sorry, we're alive and that's something to be grateful for.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Lights Still On... Circus and Arena

So a few months ago, I wrote about the rumor that the clubs Circus and Arena in L.A. might be closing.

Well it's weeks since the supposed New Year's Eve "Last Dance" and the clubs are still open.

So since a lot of you have been finding my blog, wondering if Circus and Arena are still open... as of today, Feb 9, they are. In fact, there's a huge President's Day weekend party happening there.

Happy Dancing... until who knows when? In the meantime, Please Don't Stop The Music... my favorite Rihanna song on the latest cd.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Jewel Diamond Taylor

"Desperation is a terrible perfume to wear" -- Jewel Diamond Taylor

Jewel Diamond Taylor is a Southern California jewel, whose motivational speeches, retreats, and empowerment sessions have gotten rave reviews and jam-packed audiences. Check out her website: Do Not Give Up.

I've know her for almost six years, and have brought her to events for my day-job, as a keynote speaker and leadership development facilitator for students. They all love her. And her programs receive very high audience evaluations. She ALWAYS gets standing ovations. She's that kind of speaker.

The thing about Jewel Diamond Taylor I like is that she keeps it real and keeps it professional at the same time.

And she also follows the advice she gives to her audiences. Her life story is an example. Prior to stepping out on faith to run her own speaker bureau, she worked in the aerospace engineering industry, but knew that wasn't her calling... despite what friends and family expected of her. (You know the drill: Girl, why you giving up a full-time job with benefits to go TALK to people?)

Ever since leaving her day-job, she's never looked back. And has enjoyed a fruitful and bountiful career doing what she enjoys most.

If you're in a position to book keynote speakers, I would add Jewel Diamond Taylor to the top of the list. She's positive, empowering, and a role model that our young people can look up to.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman

One of the best reads I picked up and read about a year ago.

Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman by Elizabeth Buchan.

A story featuring a woman who finds herself figuring out life after 25+ years of marriage, the kids are gone, and the husband takes up with... someone she never expected. Takes place in London.

But could easily take place in L.A., Ames, NYC, or Flagstaff.

We were talking about this yesterday in the office and in class. How, after a certain age, we as a society discard women. Well, in general, someone argued how our society doesn't value women period, except for in the sex or servant role. And that after the "sex-appeal" or the "motherhood" years pass, we think women don't have much to offer. And that sometimes feeds into depression, feeling useless, or wondering what all that life, learning, marriage, and mothering was all about... that some studies suggest about middle age and gender.

Interesting conversation. Of course it then drifted into politics, and some of the "younger vs older" dynamics we've heard in recent months. But I won't go there here.

All I can say is that Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman by Elizabeth Buchan was a very satisfying read.


Interesting editorial in today's Time Magazine on the current Democratic presidential race... Inspiration vs. Substance. Take a look and see how that analysis plays out for you. Though I support HER, I think both are strong and capable candidates... and will support either this fall when HE or SHE fights off the Repubs.

Because regardless, this is what Dems will face in the fall... a sea of red you see in the image. Maybe you can netflix Red State The Movie, just so that sense of post-summer campaigning reality kicks in.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Wanna Try Some Deep Fried Cheesecake?

I record just about every episode of Paula Deen on The Food Network. Didn't know anything about her until about a year ago, when my mom and sister went on vacation and ate at her restaurant, The Lady and Sons. They raved about the food and atmosphere.

But the other day, I just saw the ultimate sinfully good recipe that I gotta try: Deep Fried Cheesecake.

And the Fried Collard Green Wontons looked kinda hot too.

Will have to get in the kitchen this weekend and maybe dust off the deep fryer. I don't eat like this everyday, so this will be quite a treat... even though it IS the season of Lent. Hmmm....

The Ex and The Janitor

Dang it. Last night I went to a little election night shin-dig with the last serious one I dated. He was pretty much outcast from his office (he works for a senator) because that office supports HIM, and my ex (and I) supports HER. So we hit up a little thingy for HER.

Anyway, we had a couple celebratory drinks. Talked with some folks. He talked a little long with one man folk... and it kinda made me jealous. Sometimes I wonder if this hanging with an ex is always a good thing. I've always believed if you start as friends, you can end as friends after the romance. But it's just got me wondering.

So this morning, I came to work and stepped up game on the hot new janitor I wrote about a few weeks back. Kinda out of reaction to last night's drama. Hot New Janitor and I have had some good verbal banter, back and forth, vague conversations every morning when he comes in to clean the office. Kinda like Omar and Kenny in Right Side of the Wrong Bed. I know he's not on my team. But I've found that window... sports, workouts, gym shoes (today's topic... he likes my kicks I'm wearing, black/white Pumas), his Lakers/my Pistons rivalry... to get the conversation going. We did exchange info, because he wants me to help with his resume.

But don't wanna fall into the pattern of social work crushes, where the crux of the relationship turns into a helping one. And then it's over when he gets the help he needs.

Sometimes I think men can all kick rocks... then I turn around and love them all the same. lol.

Aaaaah. Happy Ash Wednesday!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


Another upcoming book release, Spring 2008, April to be exact.

Pleasure by Eric Jerome Dickey.

Hot cover. Wouldn't you say?

Monday, February 04, 2008

A Couple L.A. Book Events

I gotta say a few of my friends have given me a jokingly hard time for my supporting the Hillary 08 team. Experience? Inspiration? Either way, the Dems are in good shape for November. And presidential campaign stuff aside, most of us still have a daily life that will go on beyond whatever happens on Tuesday.

For me, one of those things includes writing. Took the day off from the office to write and do book work. Life beyond presidential politics also includes doing book talks and events.

Next week I have two in the L.A. area that I'm excited about.

On Monday, February 11 at 7 pm I'll be at Esowon Books in L.A.s Leimert Park neighborhood. That's exciting for me because it's my first event at Esowon. I know it'll be all cool. And I hope the readers from the area will come out.

On Wednesday, February 13 at 7:30 pm I'll be at A Different Light in West Hollywood. It's part of The Promising Series, a reading series initiated by my friend Noel Alumit, featuring new and established LGBT authors and/or works. The panel I'm on includes writers such as Peter Varvel and Margaux Permutt.

I've been out of the social loop lately, due to some major deadlines and projects due at the office... and my latest book being due. But getting out and meeting readers is very exciting to me. Hope to meet/greet with you soon!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Went To The Hillary Rally Today in L.A.

And it was worth getting up at 5 am, trekking over to campus, and standing in line for four hours to get in to see/hear Hillary Clinton. They opened doors at 9 am. They say close to 20,000 folks showed up to see her, for a space that held about 10,000. I was number 50 in line. Went with several colleagues and friends.

I'd never been to one of these events, so I didn't know what to expect. I didn't know you wait for so long. I kinda figured you'd have to go through extensive security. I didn't know there were several opening entertainment acts, before the opening speaker acts. I didn't know the level of passion everyone has for their candidate of choice.

But with only one cup of coffee holding me down, I enjoyed hearing Laura Richardson, America Ferrera (Ugly Betty), Sally Field, Maxine Waters, Delores Huerta, Magic Johnson, Antonio Villaraigosa, Gloria Molina, and company with their words. The mayor of Oakland, whose name escapes me right now, was most inspiring in his endorsing words. Maxine Waters brought down the house as always.

But when Hillary Clinton walked in, the energy was electric. She's quite a personable and magnetic person. I don't know if it televises well. But in person, there's just this air of intelligence, warmth, poise, and articulation that is so inspiring to see live. She didn't use a teleprompter, a cool observation... as I thought most candidates used some type of visual aid to keep them on point and in command.

What was most inspiring was seeing all the college students fired up for anything political. And seeing all the mothers and daughters (young girls) who attended together. I could see that her candidacy means a lot psychologically to young women and their mothers as they sat and listened.

So I think I confided about a month ago, I was in that "undecided" category... kinda swayed by a lot of media hype about various candidates on both sides most of us hadn't really heard of until just a few years ago. I really waffled between the three frontrunners on the Democratic side.

But I gotta say, attending today's rally really sealed my decision on who I will vote for on Tuesday in California.