Saturday, December 07, 2013

ANIMAL WHIMSY



I’ve reviewed some interesting things before. This is the first time I’ve ever reviewed a quilt pattern. I was looking for a unique quilt design for my new grandbaby’s first quilt. I wanted something that represented both her parents. The new mommy and daddy are big animal lovers and since my Son-shine is a good-hearted country boy, farm animals seemed perfect. I discovered a delightful kit by Amy Bradley Designs called Animal Whimsy. The kit included full size patterns, placement sheets, and instructions to make a 42" x 54" wall hanging with twelve animal blocks and a 60-1/2" x 96-1/2" twin size quilt with nine animal blocks and nine pieced shoo-fly blocks. The technique to make the animal blocks was fusible applique which I had never done before but will definitely do again.

The final product came out better than I’d hoped for and I loved every aspect of the quilting process. Sum total, from start to finish, it took me about two days to complete. I ran into only one hitch and that was when it came to doing the eyes. But I only had a problem because I had not bothered to read the instructions from start to finish. I mistakenly thought I would do the eyes as I finished each block but the eyes were actually the very last thing to be completed. The pattern called for black buttons to be used for the eyes. The staff at Amy Bradley Designs suggested I might want to embroider them on with a satin stitch if the quilt was going to be used to prevent any choking hazards. I opted for these really cute craft eyes knowing that it was meant to be a keepsake and would hang on a wall.
Overall, this pattern was perfect for both semi-novice and experienced quilters. Beginners should at least be knowledgeable with quilting terminology and basic quilting skills. The directions were easy to read and understand and from start to finish this too cute quilt was downright fun. It was the perfect gift for my beautiful grandbaby!



Sunday, December 01, 2013

TEN GOOD YEARS




Ten years ago my very first book, Take Me To Heart was published by BET’s Arabesque imprint. It was not one of my favorites.  The heroine, Marguerite, annoyed me, and Dexter, the hero, was just too passive. The story took a different turn when the acquiring editor deleted some eighty pages and worked her editorial magic to make it a romance novel. But die-hard romance fans hated it because it didn’t follow the romance formula and one well-known reviewer commented that I might not want to give up my day job. But for every one who didn’t care for the story there were many others who gave it rave reviews. It was many years later when it hit me that the original story really wasn’t about Marguerite and Dexter, or at least it wasn’t supposed to be. They just got the spot light in the final edition. And that final edition kicked off my career.
Ten years, some twenty-plus books, multiple literary nominations and one or two book awards later and I’m still trying to perfect my craft. With every new book I work hard to make it new and fresh and bring something to the table that sets it apart from others. Sometimes I nail it and other times I give myself an A for effort.
In the last ten years I’ve met some outstanding authors who have inspired and encouraged me. Their nurturing spirits and mentoring have seen me through some tough writing times. In the last ten years I’ve seen my fan base grow and I appreciate all the love and support. People have been kind and encouraging and when I don’t get it right, readers will let me know and I’m grateful for that.
In ten years I’ve seen the publishing game change. I’ve seen some important players come and go. I’ve learned some new tricks and perfected a few old ones. I still haven’t mastered the marketing game that comes with being an author but I’ve gotten better and I’m still learning. But for ten years I’ve gotten to do what I love most and that’s write.
It’s been a good run and I’m proud of my accomplishments. I'm now published by two major publishing houses and also created my own independent imprint. This year I signed two major book deals, one of them for a five-book series. I’m excited to see what the next ten years have to offer. I have more than a few stories to tell and I look forward to being able to do just that.
To family and friends who’ve supported me along this journey, please continue to give me those swift kicks when I need them. To the readers and fans who buy my books and help keep me published, I know that I would not have had ten years of success if it had not been for you. I appreciate and love you all.
Thank you all for ten good years! Thank you very much! Now, let's make the next ten years pale in comparison.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

It’s just past the midnight hour and I should be in bed, resting up for Turkey Day, but I’m finding it difficult to turn off my brain.  There’s just too much running through my head.  I’m not hosting the holiday meal this year, so thankfully the menu isn’t on my mind. Thanksgiving dinner will be a potluck event. Family and friends were assigned their respective dishes to insure everyone brings their very best to the dinner table. I’m doing my favorite macaroni and cheese. I’ll boil the macaroni and mix it up with my favorite five cheeses when I get up in the morning. I’ll toss it into the oven shortly after breakfast. Big Daddy is pulling his famous pumpkin pudding out of the oven as I type. The smell of cinnamon and sugar is heavy in the air and the house feels festive. After hours of quilting this evening, sipping on a hot cup of tea with my laptop in front of me and the house smelling like a bakery feels darn good.
This whole year has felt darn good. Bumps in the road were minor but my blessings were abundant. The writing has been on point and I signed two major book deals. There was a major award nomination and I’m on schedule to do much traveling next year as I gear up for some serious book promoting. On the home front, things are good. My man loves me and my kids are doing exceptionally well. My grandbabies are now making their mark on this here big world and I’m one proud grandparent. My old people are still taking names and kicking butt and I know that with their ages and health issues that such a thing is indeed a blessing. Love paints the walls in every room in my home and my heart is immeasurably full.
Before I close my eyes tonight I’ll wish a prayer for everyone in need. I’ll ask for a healing hand to be wrapped around all those who are hurting. I’ll pray for the hungry to be fed, the homeless to be sheltered. I’ll hope that those who are traveling find safe journey. I’ll ask that my angel keep a watchful eye on my nearest and dearest. I’ll pray that we all know love more than we will ever know anything else. I’ll say a prayer of thanksgiving and when I wake in the morning I’ll pray it again.
I hope that this day brings love, peace and comfort to those in need and that everyone else is able to give thanks for what’s good in their own lives.
I wish you all a very safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A SHINING STAR...



Neal was only eleven, maybe twelve when we first met. I was running a business, a video store that his family frequented often. One day, he waved for my attention, his hands dancing in front of his face as he communicated in American Sign Language. With his baby sister interpreting for me, he requested every video I had that dealt with that place called Hell. It was a fascination that he obsessed over for weeks as he devoured every movie I could manage to find. He was disappointed that there weren’t as many as he would have thought, none seeming to give him the answers he was seeking.

Over the years there were many topics he obsessed over, devouring movie after movie that dealt with his subject matter of choice. He approached life with a veracity that I have witnessed in few others. His spirit was monumental and despite the hand dealt to him at birth, he approached every day as if it were going to be the best day of his entire life. His life journey has not been easy. He battles language barriers and visual barriers, and physical and cognitive inabilities. He has spent more time inside hospitals than he has spent out of them. I think though that his biggest battles have been the ignorance and insensitivities from people who don’t put forth any effort to know him.

Neal and his family became family to us. Neal was blessed with an amazing support team, a band of warrior women who champion for him daily, as if their own lives are dependent on them doing so. I feel blessed to call that band of warrior women my friends.

Neal is eighteen now and I absolutely adore him. Neal has given me many teachable moments and the lesson that sticks with me most is that there is always a way, when one is willing to fight and fight hard. Neal wanted people to know him and created his own video about who he is. What I know, that Neal didn’t share, is that he is a giant among mortals, an ambassador amongst commoners. He is a shining star in a dark sky and we are all better for having him in our lives. To know Neal is to love him.

Monday, October 14, 2013

WHO DONE IT?

There's a ghost/spirit in my house. I usually hear her walking around upstairs when I'm writing. Footsteps against the wood floors, doors opening and closing when there is no one there. We had an understanding that if I left her alone, she would leave me alone. But recently something has made her mad as hell and she's been acting out.
 
On the first day she locked me out of the house. I had made a quick trip down the driveway to collect the mail. I'd left the door wide open but both the front door and the storm door had been locked behind me. I would have blamed my very favorite guy but I had left him in the shower and he was still in the shower as I tried to get back inside.
 
On the second day I came home to find my favorite rice cooker crushed on the kitchen floor. It somehow managed to "fall" off a shelf it has sat perched on since forever, jumping over the crockpot and past the blender to hit the tile.
 
On the third day an aerosol can of paint burst in my washroom, its contents spewing through the space. That can, the newest of the bunch, had sat amongst many for longer than I know, nothing and no one bothering it.
 
Minutes ago I stepped out of the shower. As I dressed I swore I heard someone calling but knew the house was empty and then the sound of shattered glass vibrated from the kitchen. I was scared to look, afraid of what I'd find, but only discovered an over-turned glass, unbroken, in the sink. A sink I'd cleaned out an hour early, not leaving any dirty dishes behind.
 
She's pissed and she's making sure I know it. Now I'm trying to figure out who done it 'cause I kept my end of the bargain. I'd left her alone.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH

I had a wonderful time this past Saturday at the Book Clubs United Breast Cancer Fundraiser. The Sistahs of Urban Literature Book Club, Sistahs of the Red Tent Book Club and the Round Table Readers Literary Book Club hosted a “Pink Literary Affair” to benefit one of their book club sisters who is currently fighting the breast cancer battle.
 
It was an honor and a privilege to be able to lend my support to such a magnificent cause and I was moved by all the love and support that was shown to myself and fellow authors Cassandra Baker-Durham, Suzetta Perkins and A.T. Hicks.
 
Along with an engaging discussion about the responsibilities writers and readers share, we also enjoyed a wonderful Bourbon Street influenced meal. I really did like that fried alligator! A good time was had by all and I want to extend my sincerest appreciation to Ms. K.Waiters and her incredible team for putting together such a remarkable event.
 
In honor of breast cancer awareness month I want to reiterate the messages that were shared with us in our event goody bags.  It's important that we women know our boobies and take care of our tatas!
 
BREAST CANCER AWARENESS
 
Except for skin cancers, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, but it can be successfully treated. Screening tests can find cancer early, when chances for survival are highest.

1. Know your risk
  • Talk to both sides of your family to learn about your family health history  
  • Talk to your provider about your personal risk of breast cancer
2. Get screened
  • Talk with your doctor about which screening tests are right for you if you are at a higher risk  
  • Have a mammogram every year starting at age 40 if you are at average risk
  • Have a clinical breast exam at least every 3 years starting at age 20, and every year starting at age 40
  • Sign up for your screening reminder at www.komen.org/reminder 
3. Know what is normal for you
See your health care provider if you notice any of these breast changes:
  • Lump, hard knot or thickening inside the breast or underarm area
  • Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of the breast
  • Change in the size or shape of the breast
  • Dimpling or puckering of the skin
  • Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
  • Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast
  • Nipple discharge that starts suddenly
  • New pain in one spot that doesn't go away
To see illustrations of these warnings signs please visit the Breast Facts section. 
 4. Make healthy lifestyle choices

Thursday, October 03, 2013

COME SEE ME!

Book Clubs United Breast Cancer Fundraiser

Book Clubs United for Breast Cancer Fundraiser -- Greensboro, NC October 5, 2013

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

 1:30 pm - 5:00 pm

New Orleans Bar and Grill Restaurant
4312 Big Tree Way 
Greensboro, NC 27409 

 

Please join us as the Sistahs of Urban Literature Book Club, Sistahs of the Red Tent Book Club and the Round Table Readers Literary Book Club host a “Pink Literary Affair” with some extraordinary authors to benefit one of our book club sisters who is currently fighting the breast cancer battle.
 
Our book club sister has a wonderful loving spirit and a funny personality which brings so much joy to anyone who has conversed with her.  Our hope is to raise enough funds to help relieve any financial stress; so she will be able to dedicate her time to healing and spending quality time with her family.

*Authors in attendance:
Books  will be available for purchase - *Authors list subject to change

This luncheon will be a book club social where you will be able to ask the authors any questions, network and fellowship with readers. Our honored book club sister will be at the event.  Come by to show her some love.

There are three ways you can participate is this event!

Option 1:  Donation of any given amount.

Option 2:  Book Clubs for Breast Cancer Entry:  $5 donation to attend event with the authors * Please note that you will be responsible for your own meal.  

Option 3:  Pay at the door option has now been added.  $5.  * Please note that you will be responsible for your meal.  

We will have raffles and door prizes.  Spread the word.

Doors open at 1:15pm

Thank you to everyone in advance!  Don’t forget to wear your pink.
              

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

ASK...PLEASE...


I sometimes have to revisit my older blog posts, needing to repeat a message I'd hoped to convey earlier.  This one is a necessary repeat.  Over the years I've been through some things.  Not all of it has been pretty.  I've had female friends who've been through some things that were down right ugly. When I see or hear of young women dealing with mess that is polarizing to their young lives I want to reach out and shake them until they understand that they don't have to go through things.  There is no reason for any woman to deal with any mess from a man who is not deserving of their love. I have major issues with abuse in a relationship that is supposed to be loving.  So much so that I wrote about it in my book Graye, published last year.  I also touch on it in my upcoming book, The Sweetest Thing, coming in March 2014, and not in ways that readers might expect. And I periodically repeat stories I've told before. Sometimes women going through some things need to be reminded that they're not alone and that they have sister-friends who understand what they're going through.

Years ago you could not miss the bruise to Melissa’s face. Her left eye was black and swollen, a harsh contrast to her porcelain complexion. And her porcelain complexion was mottled black, blue, pink and red. She casually milled about the room as if nothing was wrong and those around her pretended not to notice. I don’t pretend and so I asked, others raising an eyebrow at me as if my doing so was catastrophically wrong. But I asked her what happened to her face, already knowing the answer, and knowing that her answer would be a lie.

She laughed, fanning a hand in my direction. “Teeheehee! It was so silly. I can’t believe it happened. I was brushing my hair and dropped the hairbrush and it accidently hit me in the face. Teeheehee!

I nodded and commented. “Really? It looks like that brush was still attached to your husband’s fist.” The room was suddenly aghast 'cause heaven forbid anyone say outloud what everyone had been thinking to themselves.

None of us saw Melissa after that, knowing that she often disappeared when her many bruises needed to heal. For years I had heard too many stories of how clumsy she was. She had randomly fallen out of chairs, and down steps, even tripping over the family cat at the most inopportune moments. But everyone knew her husband beat her and despite the best efforts of family and friends she continued to stay, believing that with four young boys she had no other options. Then one day she took a "fall" that put her in the hospital with life-threatening injuries. When she eventually left the hospital she refused to go back.  She hasn't tripped over anything since and she and her four boys have thrived.

I had a dear friend once who I suspected was being beaten at home. Then one day, I witnessed the abuse with my own eyes, her husband slapping her so hard that he sent her flying across the room. I picked up the telephone and called 911. Her husband told me that I would never set foot in his house again. And I haven't.  That night though I assured him that he would be leaving well before I did. I closed their front door behind him as the police led him away in handcuffs.  Hours later my friend was frantically calling family and friends to get him bailed out of jail. But days later, much to her chagrin, I was very vocal about what he'd done as I told the story in a courtroom.  They opted for mediation, hoping to work through their issues.  Our friendship is only a semblance of what it once was but her husband thinks twice now about putting his hands on her.  He hated being called out for being that kind of man.

Growing up, my beloved Granny use to say that a man only had to hit a woman one time. “Only one time,” she emphasized, her head bobbing eagerly against her shoulders. “After that he’ll have to fall asleep at some point,” she’d conclude. “I guarantee, once he falls asleep, he won’t hit any other woman ever again.” Then she’d tell me about her favorite crooner, Al Green.  Years ago, Al got into a dispute with a lover. Then Al fell asleep. Al found religion shortly thereafter. My Granny had a boyfriend who fell asleep once too. After an encounter with a pot of hot grits he also found some religion.  He also never hit my Granny again. 

I knew a woman once whose young granddaughter spilled the beans about the situation in her home. Her daddy ceremoniously punished mommy and big brother as the wind blew. Grandmother was taken aback by the bruises that battered her grandchild’s back and legs. She was appalled to discover them on her only daughter as well. Days later grandmother welcomed her son-in-law into her home with open arms and the lure of some freshly fried chicken. As son-in-law sat down, excited to be dining on a home-cooked meal, he was ill-prepared for what came next.

Grandmother started swinging a cast iron frying pan with every ounce of energy she had in her. The first swing cracked two ribs. The second broke his arm. Sum total Grandmother swung that frying pan twenty times, praying the following prayer as she did. “Lord, please forgive me my sin, but I don’t want to have to kill him for hitting my babies again. Amen.” Then she put down her pan and called him an ambulance. When help arrived, Grandmother told them he tripped and fell down the stairs. Son-in-law didn’t have anything at all to say. He also never hit his wife or child ever again.

With so many resources and support available to battered women I certainly don’t advocate violence as an answer to violence.  But I will help a friend or family member out of a bad situation faster than anyone can blink.  When the abuse is consistent and the excuses for a man's bad behavior start to pile up like dirty laundry, it's time to leave. Waiting for the right time might never come.  A man who will hit,, burn, hurt, or kick you today can also kill you tomorrow while you're waiting for things to get right.  And no woman needs to be any man's punching bag while he gets his life together and you both are trying to make things work.

No, I don't advocate violence as an answer to violence, but I can’t help but think that both those old women were on to something. Perhaps if Melissa had slapped her husband back with a frying pan the first time he slapped her, or maybe if she’d waited until he'd fallen asleep and then had helped him find some religion, those of us who cared for her wouldn’t have had to continually point out that she deserved better than bruises and black eyes. Her waiting for the right time to leave almost got her killed.  Melissa was lucky.  And I'll keep repeating these stories if it helps even one young girl know that she deserves better and there are always options open to her.  All she needs to do is ask for help.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

THAT FINE LINE


Sometimes in life we have to sever ties with people who are not good for us.  Individuals who are toxic to our spirit, causing us more harm than good.  Severing ties with acquaintances and friends might hurt for a short time but usually proves to be for the best in the long run.  Severing ties with family is a whole other beast. 

Twice in my life I’ve found it necessary to sever ties with family who were toxic to my spirit and well-being.  Individuals who seemed to continually thrive in negativity and bitterness.  Life with them was killing me and every breath I took confirmed it.  The ex-hubby was the first.  My sister was the second.

Parting ways with the ex-hubby came with challenges.  We raised children together.  Six of them.  We have grandbabies and in-laws.  Our children took sides in the divorce and there were times when it wasn’t the one I wanted them to take.  After the dust settled we had to find balance again.  Navigating holidays wasn’t always easy.  Rebuilding family dynamics with a new partner was hard.  I imagine that if my divorce had been amicable those things would have been easier.  But it wasn’t.  It was ugly.  Resentments were harbored.  I was as toxic to my ex as he was to me.  There were too many nasty exchanges and I know that there were many times when my kids felt caught in the middle.  They didn’t always like or understand my choices but we have balance now.  My babies know that I love them with all my heart and there is nothing that I would not do for any of them.  I am their biggest cheerleader and I have been a great mother and grandmother without their sperm donor being in my life.

Parting ways with my sister was the easiest decision I ever made.  I agonized over it for months before I did it and then when the choice was made, I felt the burden of our relationship lifted off my shoulders.  Life was suddenly better than I imagined.  Even our parents seemed to understand, neither ma nor pa saying anything about our situation.  I imagine parenting us individually alleviated much of the heartache we had rained down on them over the years.  My mother rarely updates me about my sister’s life and when she does I have no problems telling her I’m not interested.  In all the time of our divide I haven’t once questioned my decision or second-guessed if I’d done the right thing.  My sister was toxic to my spirit and her negativity and bitterness was killing me.  Life without her has been good.
Recently we have encountered each other at my parent’s home.  We are polite.  Conversation is minimal.  When all is done we go our separate ways and exist without each other.  I was happy that all seemed well, even letting my guard down once as I pondered the possibility of our reconnecting.  And then my sister’s ugliness managed to reach a tentacle back into my life to cause pain. 
Had what she done affected only me I would have chalked it up to my sister being my sister, further cementing my decision to cut her from my life.  But it didn’t.  It also affected my children and that was unacceptable.  My sister managed to cast a pall on the recent arrival of my beautiful grandbaby and her contentious behavior and ill-spirited comments were nothing but hurtful.
The divide between us has widened even further.  We once walked that fine line between love and hate together but I suddenly feel like I’ve fallen over the edge into the dark side.  I hate that my sister is my sister.  And that is tearing at my soul because I have never hated anything so much in my whole life. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

REALLY?


There are a few award shows I’ve come to avoid like the plague.  My age has finally caught up with me and since I can’t reach into the television set to shake some sense into people I don’t like to upset myself unnecessarily.  Regrettably I watched this year’s Video Music Awards and it took no time at all for me to wish that I hadn’t. 
What the VMA confirmed for me is that wealth, nor success, brings maturity.  Maturity comes with age, hard work, heartbreak and a few hard knocks that make you sit back and re-evaluate your choices.  Most of the young participants being honored at the VMA still have a whole lot of growing up to do.
Calling out your ex-boyfriend for being your ex-boyfriend is what you do in high school.  And even then it looks childish and stupid.  An expensive, pretty dress won’t mask bad behavior so why would you want to remind everyone that you’ve gone through half the boy bands in the country and are regularly dumped like the locker room tramp?  You told your side of the breakup in song, won an award for it and meanwhile he’s moved on without giving you a second thought.  I’m thinking all you really managed to do was remind him why he’s glad he’s no longer with you in the first place.
Twerk?  Tongue?  Really?  That whole fiasco has people talking about you but no one has included the word “talented” in any of their commentaries.  Obviously you had a point to prove but mimicking the drunk chick on a college break binge said more about your lack of intelligence than anything else.  But hey, if you think your version of a super head video ho’ on crack elevated your star status who am I to comment?  I do know that if you want to shake your tits and ass, you might want to get some tits and ass first.  Back in 2009 an award winning performer apologized for saying that you would one day end up on the stripper pole.  I’m thinking he could have saved that apology because he hit that prediction right on the head.  You dropped it low and wide and the performance most of us saw was the one where the boys in the club would make it rain for you and you wouldn't even have to pretend to sing while you were doing it.
And for those taking issue with MTV for their coverage.  Get a grip.  It’s MTV.  The acts weren’t 14 and you weren’t watching The Cartoon Network.  Okay, maybe a little bit of it was cartoonish.  But it’s not rocket science to know that if you don’t want little junior scarred for life then you don’t let him watch MTV, BET, or HBO.  Give him a book to read and turn the television off all together.  Haven’t you heard?  Reading is fundamental!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

CINDERONCE by Todrick Hall

I absolutely LOVE this great spin on a classic fairytale!  Cinderella told through BeyoncĂ© tunes...


Thursday, August 15, 2013

FILL THE HOUSE WITH ANGELS


 
I do not know Pam Vap but I would love to meet her one day.  I recently discovered this poem that she’d written and I’ve shared it every time I’m able.  It made me smile and laugh and even bought a tear to my eye.  Pam Vap has a way with words and I appreciate her sharing her gift.
I welcomed a beautiful new grandbaby yesterday and as my Sonshine and his beautiful wife shared images of their new baby I thought of Pam and her poem.  They are only just starting to fill their house with angels.  If my precious granddaughter only knew how she is tugging at my heartstrings! 
 
I LEARNED TO SWEAR by Pam Vap
I learned to swear
twenty minutes before my first child was born.
Since then, it’s been a handy habit
to have around, and I expect God
to turn his head. After all,
he owes me one. It’s a trick
to make babies look so good.

The truth is they leak.
And of all horrors, they grow.

They only speak whine;
they cry and complain and wipe snot
on their sleeves. They spill dinner.
They stir pasta into their milk cups
and squish spinach between their teeth.
They eat crayons and toothpaste.

They call constantly. They call
constantly. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mo-om.

They inhale money, bang down stairs,
and store dirty socks and sandwich crusts
like hidden treasures in their closets.
They lipstick walls; they swallow marbles.
They break things.

Yet, God (no doubt in his wisdom) has ordained
that these crude creatures
should sleep incognito:
gentle
quiet
warm.

I am fooled easily.

Each night as I tuck covers around them
and bend to kiss their sweet, sleepy faces,
I don’t care that they used
all the silverware in the garden.

Let’s fill the house with angels,
I whisper to my husband
as I slip between the sheets.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

MEETING BEVERLY JENKINS

Renowned author Beverly Jenkins opened her Facebook page today to authors with a new book out, affording them the opportunity to promote their work to her audience.  It was a very loving and generous opportunity for all authors hoping to gain some attention, myself included.  While I was posting a link to my latest romance, Truly Yours, I couldn’t help but reflect back on the moment I first met Ms. Bev. 
It was Romance Slam Jam 2012 in Little Rock, Arkansas.  That first night they had a wonderful Mix and Mingle with a delightful game that had everyone running around the room asking people questions about themselves.  If I remember correctly, I was seated at a table with a bookseller from Books-A-Million, and authors Laura Park Castoro and KD King, when Ms. Bev suddenly appeared at my side and asked me what month I was born in.  I could barely get the word February out my mouth when she looked at my paper, answered one of my questions and then said, “My name’s Beverly Jenkins.”
In that moment I was tongue-tied and awestruck and I have no doubts I made a complete and total fool of myself.  I don’t even recall if I even responded with something that made an ounce of sense but I do know that I never introduced myself back before she was off to the next table of adoring fans.  I still shake my head at the memory but now I can laugh about how I sat there like a large lump on a log, completely star-struck.  That weekend, what I discovered most about Ms. Bev, was just how generous of spirit she was, and continues to be.  The woman is a sheer delight and I hope that the next time I’m in her presence I’m better able to put one word in front of the other and have it make some sense.
Meeting an author whose work I admire is always a thrill for me.  Usually I do a better job of not looking foolish when I do.  I was actually able to string together a coherent sentence when I met Walter Mosley.  I do, however, admit to coming off like a crazed stalker when I met Bernice McFadden. 
In all my years there has only been one author I admired who turned out to be a disappointment.  She had no interest in being at the event she was participating in and she could have cared less about the fans who’d come to see her.  She was distant and cold and clearly annoyed with signing books.  At the time I wondered if there was something devastating going on in her life to explain her bad behavior.  Weeks after that event I reached out to say how much I loved her work and how excited I’d been to meet her.  I wished her success on her current work and hoped that all was well with her.  The reply I got back was curt, rude, and pointed me to her website since I’d apparently defiled her personal email in some way.  Giving her the benefit of the doubt I attended one other event with her but her behavior wasn’t much better.  I haven’t bought one of her books since.
If there ever comes a day when I can’t at least be courteous to the many fans and book readers who make what I do possible I hope someone gives me a quick, swift kick in my hind parts.  I know that the success I've been blessed with could not have been possible if it were not for the support and love that has been shown to me from other people.  I am grateful for every person that has purchased or read my books.  I hope that every time I meet a fan that everything about my presence and demeanor lets them know that.
And more than that I hope that I can follow her example and be as generous of spirit as Ms. Bev.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

TRULY YOURS

I'm excited to announce that the paperback edition of my newest release, Truly Yours, is now available wherever books are sold.  The KINDLE and NOOK editions will be available for download this Thursday, August 1, 2013. 
A fine work of art…... 
Legendary engineer Darryl Boudreaux is a master with his hands, and his creative genius is unparalleled. Many a woman has desired Darryl's expert tutelage, but he is off the market—for anything serious. Experience has convinced him to focus his passion on his work.
When architect Camryn Charles gets sight of her new partner, she is determined to keep things professional. This is easier said than done. Is it the heat of the smoldering French Quarter, or is it Darryl's quiet sexiness that is raising her temperature? Camryn would never sacrifice her integrity for a few wanton moments between the sheets. Yet Darryl's burning gaze suggests there could be something more between them—something that could dare them both to lay everything on the line….
An excerpt from Truly Yours:
Darryl was suddenly unnerved by the eagerness that consumed him as he sauntered slowly to where Camryn was sitting. The attractive woman was even more stunning, having changed from her business attire to a form fitting Herve Leger dress. The fabric’s vibrant red color complemented her complexion nicely. Her dark brown curls had been slicked back into a neat ponytail, and big bold earrings decorated her earlobes. Her makeup was impeccable and her easy smile showed dazzling white teeth. Her dark eyes were large and bright, her crystal complexion reminding him of deep, rich molasses. The sight of her took his breath away.
“I’m not late, am I?” Darryl asked, a quiver of heat shooting through his spirit. He tried to be casual as he pulled out the chair on the other side of the table and sat down.
Camryn took a deep breath and swallowed before speaking. “No, not at all, Darryl. I was actually a few minutes early.”
Darryl’s smile widened. “So, here we are,” he said as a wave of nervous energy seemed to blanket the space around them.
“Here we are,” Camryn echoed, suddenly feeling like a grade-schooler with her first crush.
The silence was unnerving and both were grateful when their server moved to the table to take their orders.
“Bourbon. Definitely bourbon,” Camryn said, her eyebrows lifted in jest.  Camryn laughed. “I’ll take mine straight,” she added. “Three fingers, please!"
By the time the drinks were delivered, the two were making small talk. Camryn commented on the unusually warm weather and an unplanned shopping excursion. Darryl reflected on his flight into town and the storms that had delayed his travels. Camryn bragged about the two awards she’d recently won for the family business. Darryl detailed the multi-million- dollar project he’d worked on before being hired by his brother. She talked about her father and their family business. He shared his vision for Boudreaux Towers and what might come after. They shied away from sharing any personal information, only very briefly mentioning anything about their respective families. Neither ventured to divulge whether or not they were in a romantic relationship.  Instead, the duo had seemed to come to an unspoken agreement of not wanting to know if there was someone significant in the other's personal life.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

DROPPING THE F-BOMB



I sometimes cuss when I’m in the gym working out.  Not out loud.  Not really.  Just a low dirty word under my breath every now and then when something is particularly challenging.  Or I’ll mouth it, silently, just the expression of it showing on my face. 
I am very mindful of the words that come out of my mouth and I try not to use profanity ever.  But I wasn’t always this way.  There was a time I could cuss like a sailor.  Sonshine has a horrible potty mouth.  He blames me for it and puts forth no effort to do better.  I can just imagine the first words that will come out of my new grandbaby’s mouth.
I’m more aware of when I swear now and only because my very favorite guy doesn’t cuss ever.  It kind of threw me when we first started dating to be with a man who has rarely, if ever, uttered a curse word.  It actually felt a little weird to cuss around a person who never cussed.  I’d get this look and then the question.  “Don’t you have another word in your vocabulary that you could use?”  The first time he asked, I answered.  A profound, “hell no!” my response.  He said “okay” and that was the end of that conversation.  Until I cussed again and he asked, again.  By the third or fourth time that he asked, I actually gave it different consideration and began to be more creative with my expressions.  After working on it for a while I realized that I didn’t really do it anymore.  Until today.
Today, in the gym.  I cussed.  I dropped a perfunctory F-bomb as I finished the third set on some machine that had my legs and glutes feeling like jelly.  I probably wouldn’t have even noticed except the woman on the machine beside me nodded her head and said, “Yeah, I know how you feel!”  I laughed and moved on to the next machine. 
I’ve decided to reserve my cussing just for the gym.  And only because I hate the gym that much.  I hate it with such a passion that the F-word repeats over and over again in my head when I even think about having to go there.  I warned my favorite guy.  I didn't want him to be surprised by it and if he asked about my vocabulary I knew I'd have a few more choice words to share with him that he wasn't going to appreciate.  I warned him and he laughed.  Seems that elliptical machine had his vocabulary a lot more colorful, too!

Monday, July 15, 2013

THE ONLY OPTION by Deatri King-Bey

Today, I'm thrilled to feature friend and fellow author Deatri King-Bey.  I don't often have guest bloggers but when I do, it's because I really want to share something special with you.  When Deatri was six years old, her mother was told that because of Deatri’s dyslexia, she’d probably never learn how to read. At that time it was recommended Deatri partake in a specialized reading curriculum. Unbeknownst to Deatri’s parents, this additional help their daughter would need was actually Deatri being taken out of reading class to sit in the hallway with a tape recorder for a teacher. When Deatri entered the fourth grade at a different school, her parents were terrified to learn their daughter couldn’t read. For years she’d been reciting the bedtime stories to her mother from memory instead of actually reading the written words from the pages.
But times soon changed. In 1999, Deatri was a technical writer at a telecommunications company with dreams of joining the publishing world as a content editor and author. Mind made up, she returned to school and soon started as an editorial intern at Third World Press, Inc., one of the oldest independent, African-American owned publishing houses in the world. Shortly thereafter, her skills were recognized, and she became a more permanent fixture at Third World Press, Inc. Though Deatri believes in Third World Press’s mission, fiction is her true love, so in 2004 she began focusing her editing skills on fiction.
Dozens of manuscripts later, she still hasn’t figured out she wasn’t supposed to learn how to read. February 2006, the second half of Deatri’s dream came true with the release of her debut novel Caught Up. In 2008, Deatri won the coveted Emma Award for Best Steamy Romance of the year with her title Whisper Something Sweet. Currently, she is reading, editing, conducting writing workshops, and writing her next novels.
So, please join me in welcoming Deatri and enjoy the sneak peek
into her writing world!
“Will you marry me?”
Many young ladies dream of the day their hero will bend down on one knee and say those four little words. Of course their hero will be rich, intelligent, tall, dark and handsome and be madly in love with his bride to be.
What’s wrong with wanting a traditional family where the father works outside the home to provide for his family financially and the mother works inside the home to raise the couple’s two point five children? What if the world kept telling you the traditional family you’ve always wanted isn’t for you?
What if an opportunity to have your dream come true made you an offer you’d be insane to accept but every fiber of your being is telling you to accept it? This is where Isis, the heroine in my contemporary romance The Other Option, finds herself.
So what is my latest contemporary romance, The Only Option, about?
Sane upwardly-mobile women don’t agree to enter into arranged marriages… Or do they?
Control freak Jonah Tazi comes from a long line of arranged marriages, but the thought of his parents picking his bride never sat well with him. Time is working against Jonah, so he reluctantly agrees to allow his father to find him a proper bride. Then he meets Isis and becomes infatuated with the vibrant, funny, and talented woman. A powerful man used to getting exactly what he wants, exactly when he wants it, he is unprepared when Isis doesn’t agree to his proposal immediately. Now he is determined to convince her (and everyone else) that he and Isis belong together. Jonah intends to be her only option.
Isis Michaels has always been sheltered by her father. The tables have turned, and now she must shelter him. Isis rearranges her life and will do whatever it takes to please her father during the time he has left—almost anything. It becomes clear that he wants to see her settled before he passes. Is marrying Jonah, a man she’s emotionally and physically attracted to but just met, her only option?
Here’s a little a sneak preview:
Chapter One
“Dad, you’re not choosing my wife.” Adjusting his earpiece, Jonah exited the elevator. Fifteen minutes early for an acquisition meeting, he considered himself late.

“You’re a lot closer to forty than thirty. People are starting to talk.”

“I don’t care.” Artwork lined either side of the hallway. The priceless collection had taken Jonah years to build and there were more pieces to acquire.

“Well, I do. Three years. Three years ago you promised to dedicate time to finding a wife.”

“I’ve been busy running a multibillion-dollar corporation.”

“I was just as busy as my father and his father before him. We’ve always had arranged marriages. That didn’t change when my father moved to this country. He did an excellent job of choosing my wife.”

“You’re divorced.” Jonah’s grandfather had moved his wife from Morocco to the United States shortly after their marriage. The majority of the family remained in Morocco and Spain along with many of their traditions. Jonah’s selection of a wife went beyond tradition. As the only son, Jonah believed it was his duty to produce at least one heir to carry on the Tazi name. Time had slipped by too quickly for him to find a wife. A control freak, he hated the idea of his father choosing his wife, but he didn’t see an alternative.

Attracted to the maturity of women his own age, if he waited much longer, the type of woman Jonah wanted wouldn’t be of childbearing age. “Fine, I’ll get married. I take it you have suitable options in mind?”

“Of course I do. I’ll have your assistant set up the meetings.”

“Speaking of meetings, I have one in thirteen minutes. We can talk later.” Jonah disconnected and continued along the hallway. Originally, he’d tried to acquire D. M. Solutions two years ago, but the owner wouldn’t consider his offer.

He rounded the corner, then stopped in his tracks. Few people had access to his private floor, so seeing a woman standing dangerously close to his Auguste Rodin sculpture shocked him. What drew him even more than her presence were her legs. Quite tall himself, he rarely met a woman who reached his shoulders. He’d give his Rembrandt to have her legs wrapped around him as he pushed into her.

Soon he’d be selecting a wife and other women would be off-limits. Currently a free man, Jonah had no intention of allowing the long-legged lovely to pass him by.
End Sample
I hope you give The Only Option a try. It’s available in PrintKindle, and Nook/ePub (via Barnes & Noble) formats.
I’d love to hear what you think about The Only Option. Find me online at: http://www.DeatriKingBey.com,  https://www.facebook.com/deatri, http://www.Twitter.com/DeatriKingBey
Thank you so much, Deborah, for sharing your followers with me. It’s been fun.

Friday, July 12, 2013

THEME SONGS

Every book I've ever written has had a theme song or songs; music that played over and over again in the background as I wrote.  There was something about each that moved me, connecting me to the story or the characters.  Some of the songs that have inspired the characters in my Boudreaux Family series have surprised me.  Others not so much. 

50 Cent consumed me a few months ago as I plotted through The Sweetest Thing, my March 2014 book in the Just Desserts series that I'm writing for Kensington Books.  His music was hard and raw and one song, Candy Shop, took me and my writing places I hadn't imagined going.  When I finished, I was really happy with the outcome.  Since then I haven't had any need for 'Fiddy'.

Maitlyn Boudreaux's story, Hearts Afire, is next in the Boudreaux Family lineup, currently scheduled to come out in February 2014.  Maitlyn required something else and it took me a minute to figure out what that was.  And then a chance click on a "new video" link brought me the perfect song.  As Maitlyn lost herself,  found love, lost love, rediscovered herself and reclaimed love, Alicia Keyes played in the background, over and over, one song speaking volumes about who Maitlyn was and where she was going.

The chorus to Alicia's song, Tears Always Win, was Maitlyn's theme.  As I closed the pages on Maitlyn's story, letting her go, I was happy because she was ecstatic.  Then I was able to put Alicia on pause.  In a few weeks I'll be on the search for new songs, new beats to blow life into Maitlyn's brother Kendrick or maybe her sister Kamaya.  Not sure yet who'll come first.  I think it will depend on the song that moves me. 



Thursday, July 04, 2013

HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!


Headed to be with family for fellowship and barbecue!  I wish everyone a blessed day and may your 4th of July be filled with fun, food, fireworks, fond memories and much love!

Monday, June 24, 2013

COME SEE ME!

 LAST FRIDAY IN HILLSBOROUGH, NC
COME SEE ME FOR ONE HOT LITERARY DATE!



Saturday, June 15, 2013

TRULY YOURS - THE BOUDREAUX FAMILY


Many a woman has desired legendary engineer Darryl Boudreaux, but he is off the market—for anything serious. When architect Camryn Charles gets sight of her new partner, she is determined to keep things professional. But Darryl’s burning gaze suggests there could be something more between them—something that could dare them both to lay everything on the line….



AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK ON JULY 24th! 
AVAILABLE FOR EBOOKS AUGUST 1st!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

THE BOUDREAUX FAMILY FROM NEW ORLEANS



Family drama!  Family drama!  She insisted that there had to be drama.  According to her the unthinkable had been done.   They had killed off the Stallion family line!  She was adamant that someone needed to answer for such a sin!
I assured her that no such thing had been done.  In fact, the Stallions are still kicking, still strong, still entertaining, but their family line has grown, as it should.
Then I leaned in close and we gossiped a little.  “That Stallion brother Matthew, he’s the second oldest son, remember?  Well, he and that long lost sister Phaedra both married into the same family; the Boudreaux family!” I whispered.
“Now that was a scandal!” she gushed.  Her laugh was just a touch wicked as she continued.  “Papa Stallion was a rolling stone!  That Phaedra girl came out of nowhere!  But what do we know about these Boudreaux people?” she questioned.
"You don’t know the Boudreaux’s?” I responded.  “There a very well respected family out of New Orleans.  Katherine and Senior Boudreaux’s brood.  They say there are nine of them.”
“Never heard of them,” she replied.
“Matthew married their daughter Katrina and Phaedra Stallion married their oldest son, Mason.  And she married well.  That brother owned a chain of hotels!”
She hesitated for a brief second.  “That kind of rings a bell,” she answered. 
“Well, it should.  How can you forget the mess they got tangled up in while they were visiting Thailand?  Mason almost didn’t come home.  And, Matthew’s wife Katrina is a district court judge.  This is her second marriage and you know they say she was expecting a child before the two made it down the aisle.” 
She gasped, clutching a hand to her chest.  “What!” she screeched.  “Kimani let something like that happen?”
I nodded.  “Some things just can’t be helped,” I replied.
“Didn’t that Katrina Boudreaux already have one son?” she asked.
“That’s right!  She had a child with her first husband.  Now she and Matthew Stallion have a baby together.  She had a beautiful little boy named after his father.  I’m told they plan to call him by a nickname though.  Baby Jake or something like that.”
“These young folks and their nicknames!”
“I didn’t think that one was too bad.”
“What about that oldest Stallion brother John?  Have he and that lovely wife of his had any children yet?”
“I don’t think so but then I’m hoping to catch up with them very soon.”
“I’m sure that will never happen!”
“And I’m sure it will.  I know for a fact that you’ll catch up with John and Marah through Maitlyn Boudreaux.  She’s the oldest Boudreaux daughter.  They’re all traveling in Morocco together as we speak.  I hear she can’t wait to get back to share the dirt.  They say she’s met a man over there.  After her nasty divorce she really needed one, if you get my drift!”
“Humph!  It’s still not my Stallions!”
“But you’ll get more brothers with these in-laws.  I hear Mason, Kendrick, Guy, Donovan, and Darryl Boudreaux are foine!”
“How foine?”
“Stallion foine!”
“You sure about that?”
“Deborah Fletcher Mello wouldn’t do you like that!”
She nodded.  “So where do I start?”
“Passionate Premiere is Guy Boudreaux’s story.  He’s the black James Bond, you know?”
“Double-O-7 James Bond?”
“The black one!”
“How am I supposed to remember who’s who?”
“Deborah’s got you covered.  Check out the Family Tree page on her website, I Ain’t Said Nothing But A Word.  It’ll get better and better as she keeps us up to date with who’s doing who and news of any babies we need to know about.”
“Anything else coming that I might be interested in?”
“Darryl Boudreaux’s book is coming in July.”
“What’s his story?”
“Another tall, dark, drink of rock solid man to lose yourself in.”
She nodded.  “I can work with that.  And I’ll still be able to keep up with Matthew, Mark, Luke and John Stallion?”
“And then some!
“The Boudreaux Family, you say?”
“From New Orleans!”