Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Write Plan

Happy New Year's Eve everyone. Hope the past year was all you wanted it to be, and that next year will bring even more of what you desire.

I know a lot of you will be making resolutions. For writers, here's a great tool that might help with those writing-related goals -- A Working Writer's Daily Planner for 2010.

It's a daily calendar book designed specifically with writers in mind -- federal holidays for extra writing times, goals and progress logs, spaces to write in final deadlines and space to work/plan backwards, etc...

As far as I'm concerned, whether the goal is large or small, in the stars or reasonable, all resolutions are about discipline and follow up. It's not always necessary to make a public declaration, because sometimes those are the goals that are harder to keep with all the public (and friends/family) scrutiny.

So I say make the resolution to yourself, be disciplined about it, follow up on the small steps, and take pride that you're doing something without the need for affirmation from others. Maybe that's just my style. For you, it may be different.

Anyway, Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Kitchen Cuteness

Hope you're well and enjoying the holiday week. Can't believe it's another New Year upon us. I won't even get started on resolutions, goals, blah blah blah. Do what you do, and do it well :-)

I was lucky enough to get the new Mary J. Blige cd, Stronger With Each Tear, as a gift. Love it. Especially love the song, Kitchen, which is based on those wise-women's tales about who you let around your romantic partner and relationship issues. You can listen on YouTube or Amazon for the Kitchen track. The main refrain, "Never let another girl cook in your kitchen."

Then a friend tagged me on Facebook to a motivational speaker, writer, and empowerment coach, Cassandra Mack (facebook page), and I've been hooked reading some of the wisdom-filled blogs and columns she's written. I especially liked this blog on Cuteness and Your Relationship. Though it's written about men and women, the lessons are universal for any type of romantic relationship or partner situation.

To me, a lot she has to say is common sense and a refresher on things I've been told, taught, or overheard older relatives talk about. But then another wise friend told me that what's common sense to one person isn't necessarily common sense to another.

And that's the truth.

Happy New Year!

A Year Of Buying Black

Here's a great example of "the personal is political" in action.

From the L.A. Times, A Family's Year of Buying Black, which is part of a larger academic study called The Ebony Experiment.

There's even an Ebony Experiment blog, where they chronicle some of their experiences in the year of buying black.

I like the idea and will be following their progress.

How do you think it would change your community if you made your shopping choices around the idea that the personal is political?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Vegan Soul Kitchen

I heard about this book, Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry, several months ago while listening to one of my favorite radio shows/podcasts, The Splendid Table.

The recipes in the book focus on fresh, local, high quality, in-season, and sustainable non-animal food products.

Not only was it a great interview, but it was also nice hearing chef Bryant being forward thinking when it comes to traditional African American menus.

He combines his social justice values (vegans don't consume or use animal products when preparing food), his love for food, and respect for the traditions that come along with preparing soul food.

In addition to Vegan Soul Kitchen, his first food book, Grub, is about developing an urban, organic kitchen.

Definitely something new, fresh, and forward thinking for fans of African American soul food. And a great conversation starter at those family dinners/luncheons some of you may be participating in this Mother's Day weekend.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Just A Quick E-Mail

OMG, if you're looking for a quick 6 minute pick-me-up for this weekend, listen to David Sedaris' short story, Just A Quick Email.

Loving it.

Monday, December 21, 2009


Have you all caught the new BET web series, Buppies? If not, I think you should. I think you'd like it.

It stars Tatyana Ali, current Young & the Restless star, and formerly of The Fresh Prince, as a celebrity publicist in black Hollywood.

The series follows her character, Quinci, and her friends in their careers, loves, and losses in L.A. Think... Sex & The City in L.A., and with an all black cast. Loving it!

You can also become a Buppies fan on Facebook while you're at it. Enjoy!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Writer Resolutions Links

We're getting close to that time of year when people who want to start or finish a writing project make resolutions about that goal. I'm here to cheer you on!

Here are some links to past blogs I've written on writing... most link to other sources that can be helpful on your journey. But first, a link to an article you might find helpful: Writing Is A Job.

Where to start? How about a Writer Resource Library.

What about time? Writing Your Project. Your Day Job and Writing. Time To Write.

Free and Low-Cost Resouces. Links For Writer Types.

Start simple with a journal. Note To Self.

I could go on and on with past blogs entries on writer resolutions. Hopefully, if this is your goal, you can spend some time planning your strategy and how you will follow up on it.

Good luck!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The African Book of Names

Quick. If you saw this name come across your desk, how would you pronounce it?


Answer in a second.

Anyway, still in the midst of the holidays... and another book that would make for great discussion and gift for a family is The African Book of Names. It's by Ashkari Hodari.

The book contains over 5,000 names -- common and uncommon -- from the African continent, plus their meanings. That part, the meanings, is really important... especially in larger cities in the U.S. where sometimes people name their kids with no rhyme or reason, other than it sounds pretty.

But what's even more exciting about this book... is that it points out that new names aren't just for babies. Many adults, once they've grown into/become enlightened/empowered in African identity, will change or take on new names.

Another thing about this book... is if it's endorsed on the cover by author and social change agent Pearl Cleage, then it's got to be good.

So back to the name at the beginning of this blog, La-a. Any guesses? How did you pronounce it?

It's pronounced: La-Dash-a

I got it in an email forward from a kindergarten teacher in Detroit. She wanted to share some of the interesting and unique names that came across her roster at the beginning of the school year. Another one, which clearly stood out to me...

Shebraska... it rhymes with the state, Nebraska. Both names, clearly not African, but from a primarily African American city where a book like The African Book of Names could come in quite handy.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Body By Night

For the romantic in your life, you might get a copy of Zuri Day's novels... Body By Night, Lies Lovers Tell, or the new one coming in March 2010, Lessons From A Younger Lover.

I heard Zuri Day on a Blogtalk Radio show (Black Authors Network) a couple weeks ago. Her reading was so enrapturing and peformed so well, that I just had to order her existing novels right away. (Note to self... a well-performed reading not only entertains, but catches new readers.)

Romance. Los Angeles/West Coast. Black characters. Perfect combination.

Body By Night is every gym-goer's fantasy. You're getting your fitness on, making some life changes, and the personal trainer you've had your eye on falls for you. In this case, it's the characters D'Andra Smalls and JaJuan "Night" Simmons.

Check out Zuri Day's site. Pick up copies of her books... at $6.99 they're perfectly affordable stocking stuffers for a romantic reader in your life!

By the way, I've started reading Body By Night since I'm such a gym addict... loving it!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Full of Gin, Regret, and Forgiveness

If you're in L.A., you can't miss the one-man show by Leslie Jordan, Full of Gin and Regret, which starts a ten-day run at the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center,Renburg Theatre. December 10 - 20. Part memoir. Part dishy gossip. All hilarious. You most definitely remember Leslie Jordan as Beverly Leslie on Will & Grace in the 2000s.

Sometimes, you regret you hadn't let him get away, or at least talked to him... And the new book, Men I Might Have Known, by Brad Saunders, is a collection of steamy gay stories that turn "what if" into "what happened." Nothing wrong with imagining that guy at the gym really does want you.

And finally, if you're in Atlanta you have a chance to meet Young & The Restless' Phillip Chancellor III, as in Thom Bierdz, who'll be reading from his memoir, Forgiving Troy, at Outwrite Books. Friday, December 11 at 7:30 pm.

Other events in your area?

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Try Kendra, Tyrell... or Both

Got a niece or nephew or other young person in your life to buy for this holiday season?

Try Kendra. Try Tyrell. Or try both. By Coe Booth. Award-winning author.

Young adult fiction, set against the backdrop of inner city locations, impossible circumstances, yet... finding a way to survive and perhaps, overcome.

One way I've told my students @ the books... if you liked Push/Precious... you'll like Kendra and Tyrell.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Sade's Back

New song from Sade, Soldier of Love, posted on her website. New CD in February 2010!

Some good pop culture news :-)

The World Stops Turning

Just learned that CBS' long-running soap, As The World Turns, has been cancelled. Last episode airs September 2010.

More details on Daytime Confidential.

It's been on the air 54 years... another of my grandma memories gone away. And I'm a soap fan... sad to see the genre is slowly fading from pop culture.

Monday, December 07, 2009

A Slanket... Yeah, That's The Ticket

I've been hearing all my students and colleagues at the University talking about how they all WANT or are GIVING Slankets as holiday presents.

In my mind, I conjured up an image of what one is/was. It sounded comfortable and warm. Then I saw Tayari Jones' blog entry this morning, @ writing deadlines and writing dates, and saw her pictured in one.

Me thinks me wants one too!

Especially on rainy, cold L.A. mornings like today... I think it's going to get to 52 degrees today. Me cold!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Naughty or Nice

A great holiday treat, without overloading you on the holiday theme... Naughty or Nice by Eric Jerome Dickey.

It follows the personal and professional trials and tribulations of three sisters -- Frankie, Livvie, and Tommie McBroom -- in Los Angeles. The novel takes place over the weeks leading up to Christmas and Kwanzaa. The sisters are close, support each other, but also have those ups and downs that all families go through in their relationships during the holidays.

I've read this a few times over the years... and it always leaves me wondering if it's better to be Naughty or Nice at this time of year...

Fun read for your holiday break.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Les Nubians in L.A.

If you're in L.A., and need a getaway from all the holiday hoopla... try seeing Les Nubians at the Luckman Fine Arts Complex at Cal State L.A. on Saturday, December 12.

Reasonably priced tickets at Ticketmaster.

Great music. Great group. Beautiful and comfortable venue.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Merry From Lena

When I listen to music associated with this time of year, I like it simple. Not a lot of riffs, synthesizers, modifying arrangements, or modernizing of traditional holiday songs with new lyrics.

And that's why Merry From Lena by Lena Horne is one that definitely fits my musical bill. It contains all the traditional songs many of us grew up listening to at this time of year, with nice arrangements. It's definitely worth getting if you celebrate Christmas.

On a similar note, a blog entry I did a few years back, Living Legend Lena Horne is 89, is one of the most viewed entries I've done. There seems to be a lot of interest in knowing how she is, where she is, etc... As of today, according to most sources, Lena Horne is 92 and retired, living in New York City, and makes no publiic appearances.

But through the Christmas cd Merry From Lena, she can make musical appearances in your living room or iPod this holiday season and beyond.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Bad Day For Sorry

Talk about an effective and eye-catching book cover and title. I saw this book over the weekend at a local bookstore, and I had to pick it up to see what it's all about.

A Bad Day For Sorry is a crime novel by Sophie Littlefield. It features a 50-something main character, Stella, who's a widow and survivor of domestic violence. While maintaining a business on one side of town in central Missouri, on the other side of town she's solving crimes and coming to the aid of domestic violence survivors.

After coming home and doing a little online research, I found that all the reviews of this novel have been positive. There's mad-love for Stella's grit and toughness. And this is the first of an ongoing series featuring Stella -- next book, A Bad Day For Pretty, coming in June 2010.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

In Case You Didn't Know @ These Best Of Books

Was looking at the Guerrilla Girls Best Books of 2009 list this weekend.

They compiled the list in response to many Year End/Best Of book lists by major literary organizations that contain NO women or people of color writers. The Guerrilla Girls list proves that women and people of color are writing great books, worthy of recognition by so-called mainstream literary organizations.

Great list... and definitely goes to show that if you're not deliberately acting to be inclusive, you'll let whole groups of people, experiences, and ideas slip by you.

Also check out the White Readers Meet Black Authors site. Lots of great books and authors you may or may not be aware of.

Other sites you go to that affirm women/people of color writers? Or where you discover books you probably never would have discovered?

Friday, November 27, 2009

How To Be

Looking for a good gift to give to a family, or take to a housewarming, or give to a student? Try How To Be: A Guide To Contemporary Living For African Americans by Harriette Cole.

In the book, the author treats manners and etiquette as a source of empowerment for African Americans, rather than a judgmental view that gives a rigid set of do's and don'ts.

Covering topics such as Workplace Issues, Dating, Entertaining, Rites of Passage, and Money, How To Be is based on part experience and part wisdom of the elders from a black perspective.

Whether you call it manners, etiquette, or just good home training (good home training blog entry), everything has a time, place, and manner, and resource books like How To Be provide good lessons to enforce or reinforce what our parents and grandparents taught us while growing up.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pack... Light

Busy travel weekend for many folks. And my advice... pack light. Unless you want to be bitter with baggage (book by Sloane Tanen).

I tend to overload my bags with all these grandiose fantasies of why I need "this many" shoes, "this many" pants, etc... By the time I arrive back home, I realize I never touched most of the clothes in my bag. So, I tend to go light on the pants... two casual/jeans, one dress pant (just in case...) for short trips, but I do take multiple shirts/sweaters/tops for visual variety.

Always pack my toiletries/undies first, since those are things you absolutely can't do without... and it's a pain to shop for at the destination. Gym clothes, which I do make a point of visiting while out of town. ID, passport, proof of insurances (health, car, etc...) just in case.

I try to leave enough room for "mama's cooking," since the family sometimes thinks I'm still in college and not eating enough, so I get tons of foil-wrapped frozen food packages to bring back.

But books... that's my weakness. I tend to pack a library, when in reality all I'll ever be able to touch is one... maybe two, while away. And that's mostly on the plane. Probably the best incentive to buy a Kindle or other electronic book reader... can take all your books with you in less than a pound. Please, Santa!

Your packing light tips? Have a safe trip if you're traveling!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Writing YOUR Great Novel or Other Project

About this time of year, when many people start to get into fall/winter vacation/break mode, I hear most writer types say "I wanna start/finish my novel."

"How did you do it?" is the question I hear next, of me. "How should I do it?"

Of course there's no real or good answer. You have to do it in YOUR way and YOUR pace. But somewhere in you, you have to make a commitment and follow through on your writing. It's an individual process for everyone. Only you know what'll work for your commitment and follow through.

But... if still needing some inspiration from outside yourself, check out this cool collection of authors talking about their writing process in the Wall Street Journal article, "How To Write a Great Novel." These published authors, from all walks of life and experience, share what works for them. Great anecdotes they share.

For me... there has been no rhyme or reason.

Book one, Down For Whatever, I wrote in evenings, after work, and as part of a writers' workshop class. I had to produce... we met every Monday.

Book two, Right Side of the Wrong Bed, I wrote starting at 4 am and ended around 7 am so I could get ready for work. This, I might add, was the most productive and quick writing process for me. Something about early hours, no interruptions, no thought baggage of the day yet.

Book three, tentatively titled Blame It On My Youth (and publication date still to be announced), I wrote primarily during vacation/break times as I'd taken on more responsibility in my day job at the University. Not so productive or quick a process. Lots of thought baggage of the day. But I finished eventually.

The point is... you gotta do what works for you. No one has the writing process answer but you.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Murder On The Down Low

Went to a great book reading/signing by Pamela Samuels Young this weekend at Esowon Books. Such an engaging author and speaker.

I love it when I find out about an author who has done quite a few books, but I'd never heard of until recently. Means lots of reading material. The Esowon event focused on her new novel Buying Time, but one of her previous novels she mentioned caught my attention.

It's called Murder On The Down Low, and it's a mystery about a series of "DL" guys being found murdered in Los Angeles. Thought the title is provocative, the author has a very progressive and open viewpoint around LGBT issues, which she shared when an audience member asked a question that tried to push an opinion that only college-educated/middle class black men in the black community could be gay. Yes, in 2009.

But again, the author was really calm, cool, and progressive in her response to his question/opinion, and went on to explain why people might remain in the closet, the various blue collar and "gangsta" gay communities, and that all ethnic groups have gay people. Great seeing a straight ally enlighten folks without hesitation.

The store was out of the Murder on the Down Low book, which I quickly ordered online when I got home. Looking forward to reading and feeling excited about discovering an author whose work I think I'm going to enjoy. And based on the 40-50 readers at the reading on Saturday, I'd say I'm right.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Promising Book Weekend... and Next

If you're in L.A., there are a couple of book/reading events coming up that interest me. So they also might interest you! :-)

Friday, November 20. The Promising Series, curated by Noel Alumit, features the best of established and emerging lesbian/gay/bi/trans poets and writers. Takes place this Friday at 7:30 pm at Skylight Books in Los Feliz. Always a great time.

Saturday, November 21. Pamela Samuels Young reads and signs her new novel, Buying Time. I mentioned the novel a few weeks ago on the blog. Event takes place 3 - 4:30 on Saturday afternoon at Esowon Books in Leimert Park.

Monday, November 23. Dr. Richard T. Rodriguez reads and discusses his research that went into writing Next of Kin: The Family in Chicano/a Cultural Politics. Event takes place at 3:30 on Monday afternoon at the Cal State L.A. Student Union, Los Angeles Room.

Something going on in your part of the world? Tell us here...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Y&R's New Malcolm

According to Daytime Confidential, Young & The Restless has just cast the role of Malcolm Winters (made famous by Shemar Moore) with Darius McCrary (Eddie Winslow from Family Matters).

Read DC site for more details.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Cruz-ing This Fall

Penelope Cruz has two great film projects coming out that I am SOOOOOO ready to see.

Nine, a musical from the producers of the film Chicago, comes out late December in the U.S. Seeing the visually and musically appealing trailer sold me. But I love musicals, so I'd have found out about it and seen it without the trailer.

Broken Embraces, releases in a couple weeks in the U.S., and is a film from one of my favorite directors, Pedro Almodovar. If you've never seen an Almodovar film, you're missing some of the best storytelling around. Dramatic storylines that unravel layer by layer, with great dialogue, subtle performances, and strong women characters.

Some of Almodovar's previous films include Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown, Bad Education, All About My Mother, and Volver.

Seems like Penelope Cruz has hit the film jackpot this fall. And I'm sure there will be plenty of awards recognition as we march toward the winter awards season. If you haven't seen her Academy Award winning performance in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, you must take a look this weekend.

Any fall/winter films you're looking forward to?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Nakumbuka Day

There's another memorial/holiday that thousands will recognize today, but millions ought to. Nakumbuka Day.

Nakumbuka Day is a day to acknowledge those lost during the Mafaa, or Middle Passage, which is commonly known as the Global African Holocaust, where at least 100 million lives were lost over a period of 400 years. Nakumbuka is a Swahili word for "I Remember."

It is November 11 every year.

If you're planning a remembrance, you wear all white. There are a number of symbolic rituals done during a remembrance, using materials that reflect different parts of African life. Then people reflect and share on our collective global loss, and give thanks that we are the descendants of survivors of the Global African Holocaust.

Many people say that black people in the United States don't have their own rituals, traditions, or ceremonies. We do. I think Nakumbuka Day is a start, so that we remember from which/whom we came. As well, it's important to remember that before slavery, the slaves as we call them were human beings -- Africans -- with daily lives, hopes, lives, dreams, jobs, chores, and fears -- all disrupted by the arrival of kidnappers and free labor talent scouts.

Often, we just look at and call them "slaves" without looking at the humanity and human-ness of our people. As well, we rarely look at the psychological makeup of a people who would perpetuate an institution such as slavery on another group of people.

Dr. Joy DeGruy starts with her Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome work. If you ever get a chance to read her book Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome or to see her speak live, you should do so. So worth it.

Today, if it's your off day, maybe you can start with some reflection too on the Global African Holocaust.

We remember.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Colored Museum

The Colored Museum by George C. Wolfe is a play that I've never seen live on stage, but I'm looking forward to the day I get to see a production of it. It features eleven vignettes that satirize/explore elements of African American culture, and was first produced in 1986. (The Colored Museum study guide, from Ball State University).

Though I've never seen a live production, the play was required reading for an African American lit class I took in undergrad. With vignettes such as "The Hairpiece," "Cookin' With Miss Ethel," "The Gospel According to Miss Roj," and "The Last-Mama-on-the-Couch Play," we studied it for both content and context as is related/related to current black issues at the time the play was written (and the time we were reading the play.) I enjoyed reading the play.

If you get a chance to read and/or see a live production, you should. Many college theatre groups do their own productions of The Colored Museum.

The play, along with the Percival Everett's novel Erasure, came to mind in the past few days, as my friends and I saw what's soon to become The Color Purple of this generation -- Precious. I loved the film, both in terms of production and content, and also feel it did the book Push justice. I was pleased.

Of course, the conversations I've had range from friends who are my go-out-for-drinks friends to the academic types at the university. The conversations vary -- from this is the BEST film ever... to the pathologizing of black people in films. I saw and see merits in all the conversations and all the views of the film. But I loved the film and hope it received many awards in the coming film awards season.

I also hope people will pick up the novel Push and read it. I also hope that people see it as a film based on a novel, that happens to be about one young, black woman's experience. I also hope it raises awareness of the experiences young people face, domestic and sexual violence, and all the other social needs facing all people today. Like any other film featuring black characters, I don't see it as THE black experience in the U.S. It's a film, based on a novel.

But as I hear more of my academic friends and colleagues share their thoughts with me, I'm drawn back to re-thinking about The Colored Museum, Erasure, and if anyone can win when they happen to write a book or produce a film featuring black characters. Or is this what being a critical thinker is all about... the ability to look at the good and the bad in everything?

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Music, Arts, Activism Weekend

Long work week, but it's all worth it because I'll be going to see a couple of greats from my coming-of-age years.

Anita Baker on Saturday. EnVogue on Sunday. Both at the Nokia/L.A. Live area in downtown Los Angeles.

A couple weeks ago I just couldn't decide on which one. So I decided both... and have been bringing my lunch to work daily every since, lol.

If you're in L.A., another venue you should check out is The Luckman, located on the east side of L.A. on the Cal State L.A. campus. Great lineup of performers this season, including Lizz Wright (this weekend), Les Nubian (December), Itzhak Perlman, Kinky, and more. Check out the 2009-10 Luckman lineup.

Before I can get to enjoy all the arts festivities, I will need to get through a long day of work, a weekend Womyn of Color conference, and more.

Been doing a bit of writing, and of course attending arts and activism type events always gives you good writing material. Observing people can give you major insights.

Hope you're enjoying your week and possible weekend plans!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Buying Time

Buying Time is the newest novel by Pamela Samuels Young and it needs to go on your to-be-read list.

It follows a down-on-luck attorney who figures out a new line of work to survive... buying up life insurance policies of terminally ill people. It's part thriller, part crime, part mystery.

I wrote about Pamela Samuels Young about a year ago in a blog on black women who write crime story novels. What's really great about PSY is, like most authors I know of, she works full-time... an attorney in Los Angeles.

Anyway, if interested in learning more about this novel or the author, you can stop by Esowon Books on Saturday, November 21 from 3 - 4:30 pm.

My to-be-read list is getting longer and longer!

Monday, October 26, 2009


Saw this novel yesterday while waiting to see Good Hair and it looked interesting.

Schooled, by Anishka Lakhani, features a teacher as the main character who takes on extra work as a tutor/paper writer/novel reader/ etc... for rich, prep students in New York City.

I quickly read through the first couple chapters while waiting for the movie and will be adding this to my "to-finish-reading" pile of books. That pile continues to grow and grow, but I'm looking forward to this one.

If you know a teacher who's dealt with highly snooty, privileged students and clueless parents, you'll enjoy the humor, sarcasm, and wit in the novel.

Now that you've been schooled for the day, time to get back to work. :-)

By the way, loved Good Hair. It was especially interesting hearing/seeing the reactions of non-black folks who, for many, this was the first time they'd heard/thought of the importance of the hair subject in the black community.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sherri Shepherd Sunday in L.A.

If you're in L.A., Sherri Shepherd will be reading and signing her new book, Permission Slips, at Esowon Books on Sunday, October 25 at 3 pm.

National Novel Writing Month 2009

In about a week, thousands of writers will start writing their hearts out during National Novel Writing Month.

The goal is to produce 50,000 words (about 175 pages) of a novel. It's more about output and productivity first, then revising after the month is over.

November 1 - 30. Up for it?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Clay's Waiting Game

I'm so excited for my friend Clay Cane, who has been patiently waiting for his book, Ball-Shaped World, to be picked up by an agent and then a publisher. Ball-Shaped World is a novel based on/in the black and latino LGBT ball world in NYC.

He got the agent a couple years back. Then waited for the yes's and no's as she submitted to publishers. A couple weeks ago, we talked and he had good news -- he's getting published and was just about to sign his contract with the publisher. Such good news.

Now, the waiting game continues as the book goes through copy editing, story editing, cover and marketing meetings, and publication date in late 2010, etc... It's all worth it for Clay, as he achieved his goal of being picked up by a publisher.

If you're not familiar with Clay's work, check him out. He gets great celebrity interviews, writes awesome commentary on pop culture, black culture, LGBT culture, and is an all around awesome guy. I love his What The Flick columns for BET.

I can't wait to read the book when it's in final form on the book shelf in just over a year. If you're a writer or a reader, you must have patience. The whole publishing world is one big waiting game.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Somewhere Out There

Lots going on out there. Here's what I'm reading on the net lately.

White Reader Meet Black Authors Blog provides a great list of potential holiday gift books.

Ever wonder how publishers decide how much to pay authors? PMN blog gives a four part series on author contracts.

Everyone is Dancing With Butterflies, Reyna Grande's new novel.

When Noel Alumit met James Ellroy... writing tips come forth.

That's all for now. Have a good one!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Push It Real Good

So I think it's kinda cool that Salt-n-Pepa's "Push It" is still bringing dancers of all generations together on the dance floor. Random thought.

Another demographic I've always thought has the potential to be great alliance -- gay men and straight women -- as I've written before in the entry, Kicking It, and the entry, Gay Black Men/Straight Black Women. I list a number of political and social reasons the alliance could work.

Then yesterday, while browsing my favorite Atlanta Bookstore site, Outwrite Books, I discovered yet another way the two groups may be able to help each other... in the bedroom... with the new book, Sex Tips for Straight Women From a Gay Man.

Definitely a conversation starter.

And reminds me of my friends and I and a karaoke re-mix we've made of the Pussycat Dolls' Don't Cha, to be sung to straight guys who seem hot, on the fence, open minded, etc... "Don't cha wish your girlfriend was a boy like me..."

Crazy jokes aside, hope you have a good Friday and a good weekend!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Books, Videos, Concerts... Hmmm, Anita or EnVogue?

Hey y'all.

We're using the novel, Push by Sapphire, as the focal point for a women's discussion group at my campus. Very successful, most diverse crowd ever for this program. We wanna do the same (novel as focal point) for a men's discussion group, and I need book recommendations... got any? Kindly let me know.

Gotta give it up to Harry Connick Jr. who recently put an Australian talent show on blast for featuring blackface artists on the show. On this link, feel free to skip past the "talent" portion to about 4:40 when Harry explains why blackface is not acceptable to the host and audience. Thanks QTC blog!

Whitney Houston's in Europe promoting her new CD, and gave a fabulous live performance of Million Dollar Bill... and interview in France. Thanks Rod!

Love this creative 1-shot version of I Gotta Feeling by University of Montreal students. Students have soooo much creativity... and time... on their hands. :-)

OK. The real deal... I gotta make a choice. Dinero, you know? First weekend of November in L.A... Anita Baker on Saturday, November 7 or EnVogue on Sunday, November 8? Will decide on Friday... payday Friday at that... how stereotypical? lol. Anyway, who would you go see live in concert?

That's all. I hope today (and tonight's) gonna be a good good day for you!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Tuesdays With Writers

Some good news that I missed... the papers of the late Octavia Butler will be going to the Huntington Library in the San Marino/Pasadena area of SoCali. If you haven't read her novel Kindred, please get a copy today. Octavia Butler also wrote one of my favorite quotes on Choosing Leaders.

If you're in the Los Angeles area this weekend, you might be interested in attending the Latino Book and Family Festival, which takes place Saturday and Sunday, October 10 and 11 at Cal State L.A.

If you're a writer entering short story contests, you might be interested in reading Craft Tips Culled From Contest-Judging. Every tip helps when you're trying to win or place in a writing contest.

If you're an aspiring author, you might be interested in reading Should You Pay Someone To Edit Your Work?

That's all for now... have a good one!

Friday, October 02, 2009

For The Weekend...

If you're in L.A., check out the West Hollywood Book Fair on Sunday, October 4. Lots of fun, great people watching, and of course all the books and writers panels.

On the hunger tip, if you're in L.A. check out L.A.s global sandwich offerings. I've tried a few of these recommended shops/sandwiches... and yum-my!

For the authors... what happens if you're dropped by your label/agent, and you're a Previously Published Author trying to get back into the game? An agent chimes in.

For a new read, check out Swish: My Quest To Become The Gayest Person Ever by Joel Derfner.

Lately, I'm re-reading Disappearing Acts by Terry McMillan.

I've become such a Food Network addict lately... but I've learned a couple things that can never go wrong with your food preparation, thanks to The Neely's and Paula Deen. Always keep apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, and worchestershire sauce on hand. Soaking your meat overnight in any of them, plus your spices... yummy meat. And brown sugar/mustard glaze makes a good sauce for anything, including this delicious salmon recipe I've been doing lately.

Have a good one!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Khadijah At Harvard

A few months ago, I blogged about Khadijah Williams -- homeless in L.A. young woman who finished high school and was Harvard bound.

She's at Harvard now and apparently adjusting and doing well. Check out Khadijah, which will provide occasional updates on her life at Harvard. The site also offers opportunities for you to contribute toward costs associated with attending college away from home for her -- remember how college was for many of us, and we HAD some resources or family support, compared to what she's coming from. Everyone struggles/ed.

In the meantime, when I first blogged about the story I mentioned I thought her life would make for an inspirational story, movie, book one day (aka something that Oprah would probably love and turn into a project.) Well, Khadijah will be on Oprah this coming Monday, October 5, and apparently there are lots of grand surprises in store in the episode. Sounds like a must-watch episode.

In a week when we're hearing so much bad news about kids, big cities, and how scary it is to go to and be in school, Khadijah Williams' story might help put our minds at ease that things can always get better.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Dance With Butterflies... and Links

The weekend flew by so fast. Geez. Good times though. Many more to be had, especially if I take something from the links I'm sharing with you today :-)

Looking forward to Reyna Grande's new novel, Dancing With Butterflies, which comes out in a few days. L.A., folklorico dance, friendship. Already getting good reviews. Publication party next Saturday, October 3 in L.A.

The food-lover in me is looking forward to trying these: 25 delectable dining deals in L.A. Show me a food bargain, and good flavor, and I'm there!

Hot. Handsome. Cute. We all make those snap judgments about people we meet, and I just love the way Call Me Chief put it in his blog entry last week: 2 Tenths of a Second.

Don't forget, West Hollywood Book Fair is coming next Sunday, October 4. My goodness, next weekend is October????

Finally, congrats to fellow author Carleen Brice. Her novel, Orange Mint and Honey, is not only being made into a movie to Lifetime, but Jill Scott has been cast as lead in the production!

And on that positive note, have a great day!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fall Reading Lineup

Oh hello again! With all the fall new beginnings, I almost forgot I had a blog. Anyway, much of fall focuses on new school year and new television season.

But there's also the fall reading lineup. I posted this question on my Facebook page... does anyone have any good novel recommendations? I've gotten through many of the books I wanted to this summer. Now I'm looking for something new (or new to me) to read. Share your recommendations below, along with a brief why it's interesting to you.

E. Lynn Harris' final novel, Mama Dearest, releases soon. In L.A., Esowon Books will be having a celebratory reading and remembrance of E. Lynn Harris' work on Friday, September 25 at 7:30 pm. See if there is something similar in your area.

Another Friday evening reading event, The Promising Series curated by Noel Alumit, celebrates emerging LGBT writers. It also takes place Friday, September 25 at Skylight Books in L.A.

Finally, the West Hollywood Book Fair is coming soon. Sunday, October 4. Great reason to get to WEHO early on a Sunday and then stay after all the book stuff for some happy hour fun at the local bars and restaurants. And then the Latino Book and Family Festival comes to the east side of L.A. on October 10 and 11.

Another site I've often learned about interesting books and authors, White Readers Meet Black Authors site.

But what are you reading? Looking forward to reading? What excites you for fall?

Monday, September 14, 2009

I'll Look

Looking forward to Monday and Tuesday's Oprah featuring Whitney Houston. You've already seen the video for I Look To You, right?

Last week of Guiding Light this week. 72 years gone like that. In honor, Daytime Confidential discusses the Top 5 GL characters.

Next week, the latest by the late E. Lynn Harris releases, Mama Dearest.

Looking at the clock. Gotta run and get ready. More later. Have a good one!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Otherizing Obama

The students and I are having some lively discussions about President Obama. College freshmen/women are born in 1991 and 1992, have absolutely NO memory of Civil Rights movement (their parents, born late 60s/early 70s are first post-Civil Rights generation), and grew up with MTV-ish reality show representations of diversity.

I've tried to argue that civil discussion about any politician's policies is a healthy part of a democracy. However, I've also tried to argue that the opposition we're hearing to President Obama is louder and more disrecpectful than ANYthing I've heard any U.S. president face in my lifetime (and I have vivid memories from Carter to present day.)

I argue that this opposition is part of mainstream America's "otherizing" people of color, in this case a black man, which makes it "easy" for people with opposing views to show blatant disrespect. We all otherize people -- we do it to women, Asians, Latinos, people with disabilities, immigrants, and gays/lesbians. So black men don't have a monopoly on being otherized.

I can only imagine the kitchen table discussions happening in the households of those who are "othering" President Obama. Imagining the "n" word being used (or thought of) frequently, while in the same sentence saying/thinking, "I have black friends... close black friends. I'm not a racist." I'd love to ask, "Well, have you asked your black so-called friends if they consider YOU a friend? Have you asked what they think of your opinions?"

Some good editorial pieces are emerging that I'm finding interesting.

He's President, He's Black, Get Over It

Is Conservative Obama Backlash The New Racism?

The Racial Context For Joe Wilson's Outburst

Joe Wilson -- This One's Too Easy

The Others

OK. Back to books, writing, shows, music, etc... later this weekend. Have a good Friday!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Golden Gays

If you're in the L.A. area over the next few weeks, you might want to check out The Golden Gays, a new musical spoof of The Golden Girls classic comedy show which ran on NBC from 1985 to 1992.

The Golden Gays is playing through the end of September over at the Cavern Club theatre, which is inside the restaurant Casita del Campo in SilverLake neighborhood.

Haven't seen the show yet. Haven't read any reviews. But other shows I've seen in the space have been very fun experiences.

And it doesn't hurt that you can enjoy Casita's most excellent margaritas before and during the show.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Sunday (Relax in Bed) Links

Hope you're having a good weekend. Get yourself some coffee and sweet bread. Some first Sunday of the month links I'm enjoying.

Anxious about time to write? Start with the 2-hour a week plan for now.

72 years of continuous, serialized writing gone like that. Goodbye Guiding Light.

Gone too soon. Outwrite Books in Atlanta remembers E. Lynn Harris today (Sunday, September 6 at 7:30 pm).

Getting chills. Good writing/trailer. September 17 Young & The Restless.

What do you think? Good books don't have to be hard?

Who's your diva? A new favorite examines gay men and their fascination with larger-than-life women in entertainment.

Nothing too laborious here today... so enjoy the rest of your Labor Day weekend!

P.S. I'm a Diana Ross and Whitney Houston lover, by the way. You?

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Goodbye Summer...

Hate to see you go... it was such a great summer, too! Can't believe it's September... the year is rolling downhill fast to the fall/winter holidays, then New Years 2010. Your favorite summer memory?

Anyway, India.Arie sings it best in her song, Summer.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

If You Don't Start In The Morning

Aaah, Sunday morning. Still re-adjusting to West Coast time. Been up with the grandparent crowd since the crack of dawn piddling around. Anyways...

Got a notice about this new book, You Can't Drink All Day If You Don't Start In The Morning, by Celia Rivenbark. It's a collection of humorous essays and recipes about southern U.S. life. Sounds fun, along the lines of Chelsea Handler's Are You There Vodka, It's Me Chelsea.

Anyway, if you're in the Atlanta area, Celia Rivenbark will be doing a reading at one of my favorite bookstores, Outwrite Books & Cafe, on Thursday, September 3. Go check it out, along with other great September events there.

In the meantime, drinking in the morning may not be the most productive thing (though it might be a tad fun)... but starting on some exercise, writing, organizing your bills and papers, or getting your to-do list together in the morning is.

Have a good one!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Is It Me... Or?

Still in midwest, enjoying the final days of summer and taking care of some family business.

But is it just me, or are these cries about "socialism" in regard to President Obama's initiatives just the safe cover up for what they really want to say about having a black president? And you can only imagine what they say behind closed doors.

Is it just me, or did tipping go out of style in the black community? Read Openly Chaz blog for a child of the 90s perspective.

Tuesdays are also new book releases day.

Is it me, or are all the 30-somethings (and above) kinda excited about the new Whitney Houston cd, coming out on Monday!

We gotta still share the love for President Obama that we shared/felt back in January, or else they will speak out enough to take the next few elections. Can't let that happen y'all.

Hope you're feeling like a Million Dollar Bill! :-)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hanging On To...

Just a little over three weeks of summer break for me, and I'm just hanging on to the days. It's all about making those memories.

A few updates.

So excited to hear that Drucilla is still hanging on to that cliff, and that fan favorite Victoria Rowell may be in talks to return to Young & Restless. Favorite character. Favorite show. Winning combo. The show (and the Winters family) aren't the same without her.

For years at the gym, I'd been hanging on to the myth of "only muscle guys work out in that area." This summer, thanks to a 12-Week online training site, I've learned the ins and outs of the mysterious free-weights zone and time-effective cardio sessions, and I'm so sorry I've been missing out for so long.

Summer accomplishments.

Finished novel #3 and it's on its way. I have a tentative title in mind, but I'm always open to the publisher's and agent's suggestions. They do this for a living. For me, it's fun. Starting #4 while I still have some days of summer.

Saw Beyonce and the Queen, Aretha Franklin this summer in concert. So happy Whitney Houston's comeback is pretty secure and sounding great!

Saw way too many movies this summer. Rather, I should say too many mainstream/blockbuster films. Not my normal cup of tea, but my pics for best summer films: 500 Days of Summer, Star Trek, and District 9. I predict lots of Academy Award love for District 9.

But hey, there's still some summer to hang on to... get out there and make more memories and have some good times. It's not too late!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

So Happy 4 U

I absolutely LOVE this cover... because hey, we've all been there. Happy, but a little wishing it was us.

I've channeled the feeling into a new term I use freely and openly... happily jealous. It's when I'm genuinely happy for someone, and wishing I were sharing the news or announcement.

Anyway check out the novel, I'm So Happy For You by Lucinda Rosenfeld. It's about two best friends who don't necessarily like each other, but still remain in each other's orbits. It's sure to keep you and your friends talking about your own happily jealous moments.

In the meantime, let's just shower praise and gratitude on everyone around us today, tonight, the rest of the weekend. Watch how much better you feel and how the atmosphere changes around you!