Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Okay. So Oprah had Janet Jackson on to promote her new album 20YO. Girlfriend lost some 60 pounds in four months to get ready. She said she’d blown right up, packing the weight on in the first place to prepare for a movie role that fell through.

They introduced her trainer and her nutritionist to confirm that she lost the weight the healthy way, eating right and exercising her butt off. Now I have a nutritionist and trainer too, thanks to my Duke study, and both said yes, it’s very possible but that I shouldn’t expect to go from fat to fabulous the way Janet did, and definitely not in four months. Uh, I’m sorry, but why not? I can wear fabulous. Hell, I’ve been wearing fat just fine so me and fabulous should be a piece of cake, or celery.

Someone else said that’s what money can do for a body. I’d agree but I ain’t got no money. And, even if you can afford that trainer and nutritionist, someone telling you to lift that leg one more time isn’t going to get it up off the floor and above your head if you’re not inclined to rotate it up and out of your hip socket. Trust me. I know. When I don’t want to lift it, I’m not going to lift it and no amount of cash I’m paying a trainer is going to change my mind. So I give Janet her props ‘cause that had to be some serious exercising she was doing.

Losing weight is HARD. It’s hard work and I hate hard work. I hate exercise. I hate food that tastes like rubber and cardboard. And no amount of training and nutritioning makes the work any easier if one isn’t inclined to just do it and keep it up. So, Janet, you go girl! I’m headed to the gym right now and I have a few choice words for my trainer guy. ‘Cause I can do fabulous! You just watch me.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


To say that I'm having some issues with my book covers is putting it mildly. I'm having some serious issues with my book covers. Here's the newest for my book, In The Light Of Love, which drops February 2007. Now for starters, my heroine is only 25-years old. Maybe it's me, but this model doesn't embody the image of the 25-year old I had in mind. I mean, she's a beautiful woman but she don't look no 25 in this picture! And the hero I wrote about is bi-racial with blue eyes and shoulder-length hair. Do you see my problem?

This isn't the first time I've had an issue with my covers. With the cover for Love In The Lineup, BET had commissioned some incredible artwork. The images were dead on. They couldn't have been more perfect if I'd done them myself. However with the transition to Harlequin, the new powers in charge changed the cover to a photographic image. Neither one of the models came close to looking like my characters. It absolutely broke my heart when they made that change and to add insult to injury no one bothered to tell me. I found out when the book cover was posted on

All in all, out of my seven books only two covers actually looked like the couple on the inside. For some reason I'm not getting any warm and fuzzy feelings with these odds. But what can a writer do? I write. That's all I'm allowed to do. That and rewrite. I do a lot of rewriting. The publisher has full and complete control over cover selections. Sometimes you have to wonder if the publisher has actually read what's on the inside of the book. I've been reading a few of my fellow romance authors lately and I'm not the only one having this problem. None of their covers look like the folks they're describing on the inside either. It makes for some interesting questions when readers want to know what the deal is and readers do ask.

But I'm looking forward to this book. It's a great story if I may say so myself. And I'm saying so. It's the story of Talisa London, a young woman with a big heart and even bigger spirit who finds love in Uganda with Dr. Jericho Becton. It's got some drama, a little intrigue, and of course some really good romance stuff. In fact, what's on the inside will make you forget the outside all together!


I have this fascination with foreign films and for the past few days since I’ve been battling a nasty bronchial infection I’ve been lying around “reading” the television set. It’s very much my alone time because I can’t get anyone in my family to watch them with me. My son has proclaimed that if he wanted to “read” he would buy a book; that movies are supposed to be “watched” and that’s why they’re “movies”. Kid doesn’t have a clue what he’s missing. I know that my fascination comes from my love for other cultures. They are like really good books and I can be taken away to an exotic local with a push of the remote for the DVD player.

I watched three today. The first was a movie titled Three Times, a Chinese film directed by Hsiao-hsien Hou. Don’t ask me how to pronounce that because I don’t have a clue. I do know that it was a beautiful story. It was a romance, and exceptionally sensual. It was actually three stories set in three times, 1911, 1966 and 2005. Two actors played the two main characters in each story. The lead actress, a woman named Shu Qi was brilliant. Her performances were so convincing that a few times she moved me to tears.

The second, a Vietnamese film, was titled Lady Vengeance, a kick-ass mystery thriller about a young woman falsely imprisoned for thirteen years. When she’s released, with the help of a few former prison pals, she sets out to get revenge on the man who got her locked up. Girlfriend was vicious! It was truly brilliant if I say so myself. The acting was impeccable, the photography was great and a very nice musical score kept me glued to the set.

But my absolute favorite was the movie Water by acclaimed director Deepa Mehta. This film is set in 1938 India when the country was ruled by the British and Gandhi was doing his thing. It’s the story of a ten-year old girl named Chuyia who’s in an arranged marriage to this really old man. Shortly after the wedding, hubby kicks the bucket. As was the tradition, widows are shunned by the community and little Chuyia is taken to “the widows house” where she is expected to live a life of celibacy and solitude with the other widows. Chuyia is the youngest widow there and most of the women in this home are elderly. There’s an amazing love story between one of the other widows and a young man who falls in love with her. The little girl is just a spitball of fire and energy and she wrecks sheer havoc on the house and you spend the entire movie cheering on her and the two women she becomes attached to. This movie is just visually stunning and the young actress who played the part of Chuyia, a little girl named Sarala, clearly has a promising career ahead of her. I highly recommend it!

If I still feel crummy tomorrow I’m going to watch brain dead films. My son is good at selecting brain dead cinema. It would seem that teenage boys have a knack for them.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


I am pulling my hair out right about now. I have a new proposal that needs to be completed and at this very moment I hate the story. I’m forcing it and it feels contrived and I just don’t want to write this particular book or this particular series. And now that I’ve said it out loud, I’m not going to do it. I can’t. It’s not in me.

My agent is expecting revised synopses from me for three manuscripts I’ve written. Writing them feels like I’ve been sentenced to some ungodly punishment for some heinous crime that I didn’t even know I committed. This shouldn’t be so difficult but damn, it feels like the hardest thing in the world for me to do. I don’t want to write these either. But I have to. I really want to see these stories published and since this is what it takes, it has to get done.

And my child, bless his mile-high Afro, left a folder of seven college applications on my desk for me to review and comment on. It would seem that he is truly interested in going to college as indicated by his comment that he is doing his part and I need to do mine. Seems my to-do list now includes searching out scholarship information or finishing those darn synopses so I can sell some books ‘cause college isn’t going to be cheap. When he was in elementary school I promised him that no matter what college he wanted to attend, I'd do whatever was necessary to make sure he went. MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has been on his list since forever. MIT could cost me some $45,000 per year. Seems I’ve got some work to do. Those synopses and that proposal are starting to look a lot more promising. It’s amazing what I have in me with the right motivation.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


Mr. Ben is well in his early nineties. He is a gregarious old man with quite a scandalous history if you believe even a third of the stories he is known to tell about himself. Mr. Ben was serious eye-candy back in the day because he’s quite dashing now with his snow-white crown of curls, the prettiest chocolate complexion anyone could wish for, and gray eyes that always twinkle. He has this infectious laugh and smile and I imagine that it didn’t take much for the ladies to fall for his very Southern charms.

Mr. Ben stops by every so often to chat and this week he came to tell me about his new lady friend. She’s younger, somewhere in her seventies. Last weekend this lady friend invited Mr. Ben to her place for Sunday supper. After an old-fashioned meal, she invited Mr. Ben into the bedroom for dessert -- a little taste of her sugar and sweets. Unfortunately, Mr. Ben had to decline. It would seem that his “johnson” was suddenly diabetic and not UP for the task. He let his friend down gracefully of course, telling her that he thought it was a little too soon for the two of them to be rushing into anything. Mr. Ben was quite comfortable sharing his dilemma with me. It seems that I’m a really good listener. As well, he thought I might have some advice for his situation.

Now, since I don’t have a “johnson” of my own, nor have I had much experience with “johnsons” that don’t work, I wasn’t quite sure what kind of advice I could offer so I just told him to relax. I muttered something about nature kicking in when it was good and ready. And I did all of this with a straight face. Later, as I was recanting the episode to a friend and finally rolling on the floor with laughter, I was reminded of a show my artist friend, Olivia Gatewood and I did a few years ago. It was “organic” art, a series of gourd sculptures that Olivia created. We actually had the audacity to display them on the front wall of the gallery, right in full view of the window.

This was some cutting edge stuff in this here small town ‘cause Olivia used snake gourds. And snake gourds look like penises. Very large, Mandingo warrior-sized, overly erect penises. These things were a high-end, decorator version of a super-deluxe vibrator. And, we gave them some great names like: Cup Runneth Over, Family Jewels, Speaking In Tongues, and Little Red Corvette. The reactions to them were priceless!

One of my favorite moments was a couple visiting for the first time. She was very conservative and a tad uptight. He was much more open-minded. She took one look, rolled her eyes skyward and scurried in the opposite direction as if they might bite her. He, on the other hand, took some time to examine each one. By the time she’d circled the gallery and back he was still standing and staring at our display. She then said, “I should have know you’d still be here staring at those things!” Her husband just shrugged his shoulders, turned to me and said, “Don’t pay her no never mind. She feels the same way about mine!” Well, you could have wiped me off the floor I laughed so hard.

Now, being strictly dickly, I can understand how a man might be challenged if junior’s not coming to attention on command. And I don’t care what anyone says about size. When you’re digging for gold, an extra inch or so on the end of that shovel comes in mighty handy. And if a man has started some serious bedroom acrobatics, performing a superb floor routine to get the audience warmed up, then he surely can’t be happy if he goes for a triple flip thing off the high wire and falls flat on his assets.

And did you see the season opener for that show, Nip Tuck? Who would ever have known that men actually think about the size of their testicles? I didn’t even know they came in sizes, much less that you can actually change the size with implants! And then of course that raises all kinds of questions. How large can Mutt and Jeff actually get? Are the kiwi-sized ones better than the walnut-sized? Do the walnuts perform better than the golf balls? What happens if side A is larger than side B? Are they all anatomically proportionate to the length of their handle? Is there a world record for the largest pair of balls? The smallest? If the “johnson” curves left or right, do the backup dancers sing or swing?

Great balls of fire! It’s almost too much for a mind to handle. But since I write about body parts a heaving and a shuddering in ecstasy, this is information that might come in handy one day. One never knows...


Every writer has experienced his or her share of rejection. I personally believe that over the years I have collected enough rejection letters to wallpaper a large bathroom. Publication is no guarantee that you won’t still suffer from the dreaded “thanks, but no thanks” syndrome that writers are frequently afflicted with, and I don’t care how thick one’s skin is, even the most polite “we don’t want you” still hurts like hell.

I’m published and although I would like to stay published, such isn’t always that easy to maneuver. I got a rejection yesterday and I’ll be damned if it didn’t feel like someone had sucked the life from me as I was being slammed head first into the ground. Although I had liked my proposal, and I think my agent liked my proposal, the publisher didn’t.

After I finish rubbing ointment on my bruised ego it’s back to the drawing board. Rejection sucks but it also means I need to refocus and turn this hurt into something more positive. I’ll enjoy this funk for a little longer ‘cause we all know there’s nothing like a really good pity party. By the weekend I’ll be over myself and ready to get back to the business of writing, writing well, and doing what I have to do to stay published.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Other folks’ drama has just gotten right in my way this past week. I love me some family but that same family has taxed my last nerve. When this happens my mind becomes mush and I can’t write. And this truly pisses me right off. I understand that all families have some degree of drama, at least one member who is drama central, the wealth of all their crap muddying up other folks’ lives. But I swear I have more than my fair share of drama queens blooming on my family tree and I’m about ready to be through with them all because I desperately need to write.

The mechanics of how I write don’t necessarily make a whole lot of sense. I have never been able to write an outline for a book or a nice, neat synopsis that details the happenings before I actually write the story. Nor do I have a regular routine of writing a set number of hours everyday. I sometimes envy authors who can.

Stories come to me a page here or a paragraph there. They eventually get melded into some cohesive form that just makes sense. Characters reveal themselves in bits and pieces and sometimes what they have to tell me, what they need me to tell about them, comes at a slow, methodic pace so that I can get to know every nuance and idiosyncrasy they’re bringing to the table. I have actually had characters that have haunted my dreams at night, desperate for their story to be told. And when they’re ready to materialize I need to get them out and unnecessary drama gets right in my damn way.

The following excerpt came to me over a year ago. It was scribbled onto the back of a church bulletin during Sunday service, the character and her story coming as I walked back to my seat from the alter call. I had locked gazes with one of the church mothers, a woman who has since passed and there was something in that brief moment that had hit me as if she herself had reached out a wrinkled hand to slap my face. It was one of those moments I least expected a story to manifest itself.

Angelette had been eight years old the first time a man put his hands on her. Large, dirty hands sneaking beneath the warmth of her covers to press against her skin. She could vividly recall the panic that consumed her, the fight to distance herself from the hands on her body and the final yielding of a child powerless to beat the hands away. She could easily remember the scream she could not yell, “No, please don’t. No,” caught in her throat, her tear-filled voice trapped behind the embarrassment and the shame.

Angelette had only been thirteen when her mama’s fourth husband, Herman Luther, had stolen her most precious gift. Thirteen years, eight months, and six days to be exact. Like a predator on prey he’d ravaged her innocence, leaving an empty shell of a woman in its place. Too often the memory of the moment would steal Angelette’s smile and turn her into someone she could barely recognize.

“You ain’t a girl who’s meant to be loved,” he’d muttered in a drunken stupor. “A girl like you is meant to be fucked. A man would be a fool to love you,” he’d pronounced. The words, spewed between the slur of saliva and the bitter of his breath, had dropped like lead weights against her ears. “A man would be a fool not to fuck you,” he’d spat. And so he did, trapping her on the stairwell of her mama’s home, hemming her into a corner like a caged dog. It had been an ugly act, the assault on her person as vile and as disgusting as one could imagine.

What had hurt Angelette most though was not the bruise between her thighs, but the disregard on her mother’s face. Her mother, who professed to love the monster who had violated her daughter so, had labeled her only child a whore. Her mother had looked at her with indifference, her expression alleging that Angelette had somehow deserved what had been done to her. Angelette had believed the look upon her mother’s face. Her mother’s eyes had been orbs of denial then, unforgiving pools of anger. And though her body had healed, the physical pains fading into oblivion, Angelette still nurtured the scar left by the memory of what she had seen in her mother’s eyes.

It would be many men later, well after Herman Luther, when she would continue to ask what kind of man would shatter the dreams of an eight-year-old with his filthy hands. Angelette was still desperate for sleep that could not be disturbed. She hated the hands that could shatter her dreams in the middle of the night. She begged to know what kind of man, the answers lost somewhere behind a mother’s stare.

For as long as Angelette could remember men had always looked at her with panting eyes. Eyes like those of Herman Luther. Angelette imagined they saw what he had seen, what he’d taken pleasure in showing her mother. In her mind it was not the satiny, butter-toned skin, or the dark intensity of her feline eyes, or the sweet, delicate lines of her full lips that they saw. It was not the intoxicating beauty that had been her birthright that they paid homage to or the elegance that danced the length of her curvaceous frame.

To Angelette, it was her ugly that they saw. It was the ugly of having been birthed in a field full of bitter and hate. It was the ugly of having been bottle fed sonnets of malice and jealousy and never having dined on poetry that rang of love and wanting. It was the ugly of being thought brainless and hopeless and without spirit; of being seen as nothing more than nicely packaged meat to be used, and used again, until there was nothing else left to use. It was the ugly reflected in the panting eyes that told Angelette her only value lay beneath the mound of pubic hair between her legs. It was the ugly that whispered she was not meant to be loved. That was the image that peered back at Angelette when she looked in the mirror. It was the image reinforced on her fifteenth birthday when her mama disappeared with husband number five, another husband who’d looked at Angelette with panting eyes.

Angelette had been just three weeks shy of her sixteenth birthday when Graye had come rushing into her life like a summer rain, much needed moisture after a long period of drought. His pale, brooding eyes had been different from all the others. He’d been different and so Angelette had latched on to Graye like an infant latches on to a pacifier, refusing to let go.

Excerpted from Shades of Graye - All Rights Reserved © Deborah Fletcher Mello

Since then, Angelette and Graye’s story has been slow to reveal itself, but when it has come, it has demanded my full attention. This past week both of them had much that needed to be told and drama was just getting all up in the way. At 4:30 this morning, I was finally able to finish what Angelette had forced me to start. I’m really pleased with the end result. And as I finally laid Angelette and Graye to rest, I think they both were as well.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


This is the hubby and me on our wedding day. Aren’t we just the cutest! Back then I was just a baby about to be thrust into the real world and I didn’t have a clue what was about to hit me. It was a learning experience that didn’t come with a handbook and all my training was literally on the job.

Marriage has been a roller coaster of extreme highs and even lower lows but for all it’s worth we have endured. I will not lie. It has not been an easy feat to accomplish and he and I both will readily admit to moments of wanting to toss up our hands in sheer frustration and call it quits. I don’t know that I could ever explain why we didn’t ‘cause love surely didn’t have a thing to do with it and we have much love for each other.

I am a true believer in marriage. I never entered into the relationship thinking that I would end it if the going got tough. In an age where divorce rates have skyrocketed I cannot understand the idea of a disposable relationship. My parents have been married almost fifty years. My husband’s parents had celebrated almost sixty years together before my father-in-law’s death. They were our role models and we have always imagined ourselves following in their footsteps even when one or the other of us had had enough. He and I are now approaching a season of milestones. Each and every time I think about it I find the thought somewhat overwhelming. I can’t imagine what it took for all the stars to line up just so to make any of this possible.

We will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary in October. Just weeks afterward we will remember the one-year anniversary of our son’s passing. Shortly after the New Year, there will be one milestone birthday after another, starting with my own, then my baby boy’s 18th. Not long after that the hubby will glide toward 60. (He’s MUCH older than I am and my milestone is no where near 60! Read my book A Love For All Time if you want to figure it out but as far as the official record goes, I’m only 29!)

The spring will find us celebrating our youngest child’s high school graduation, my best friend’s wedding, and the birth of a new grandchild. As I fathom all that lies ahead for us I feel extremely blessed. No one truly believed our journey together would succeed but it did and I am thankful.

I could never deny my husband’s love for me. He has loved me for so long and so deeply that there have been times that it has been frightening and actually painful. It has been all consuming, over-whelming, and emotionally sustaining in one breath and draining in the next. My husband afforded me the opportunity to write full-time. To maneuver my way toward publication without any distractions. He sacrificed his own wants and needs to give me mine. I admit that I don’t know if I would have done the same thing had the tables been reversed. I like to think that I would have been as selfless had he asked of me what I demanded of him, but truth be told I’m not so sure.

With our milestones comes much change. For the first time in our lifetime together we will have no children in our home, no daily responsibilities of family and parenthood. We will be alone with each other, and we have never had that in all of our history together. The prospect is both exciting and scary. I admit to wondering if we can endure. If the vast difference in our ages, our opposite wills, and just the wealth of our history will continue to beat the odds and challenges of marriage. Someone asked if I could see the hubby accepting all the changes that I see for myself, and for him, in the future. I had to take a moment to give that some thought and right now I can only say that time will tell. The stars may very well decide to realign themselves and send us spinning out of control and then again, they may continue to dance in our favor and we will both, individually and together, be just fine.