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.