Sunday, April 29, 2007


I've been out of commission for the past week, recovering from laser eye surgery. I've been close to blind since I was a little girl, wearing bottle-thick eyeglasses since I was eight years old. They were not pretty. I battled contact lenses some twenty-odd years ago when they were annoying nuisances that had to be taken out and cleaned daily. This was before the era of disposal lenses that you could actually sleep in. I slept in mine a few times too but neither my doctor nor my eyes were happy about it. So I gave them up and thanked the folks who made light weight plastic lenses and more fashionable frames. And I accepted my lot in life. I would always need assistance of some sort to see.

Years ago when laser eye surgery became the medical procedure de jour, I was ready. Everyone and his mother convinced me to wait to see if there were any long term residual effects they didn't yet know about and for the price of the procedure to go down to a more reasonable level. I didn't want to but to keep peace, I did. Then my late son underwent PRK some eight years ago with amazing results and each time I brought the subject of my eyes up he was the first to say that I should do it. But something or someone always seemed to get in the way.

Then last month, I just decided to take the plunge and go for it. So after researching the area practicioners and success rates, I did. Unfortunately, I didn't qualify for LASIK which supposedly has a quicker recovery period and so I had to do PRK. The eye doctor was concerned that if we went with LASIK, such might reduce the structural integrity of my eye and cause my cornea to push even more out of shape than it already was later on down the line. I was assured that there wasn't a very big chance of this happening but, hey, why take the chance when I didn't have to. So she recommended going with PRK. Knowing the success the son had, I couldn't find any reason to not go for it and so I did.

They say that the eyes are the windows of our souls, and that they help us to perceive the beauties of our physical world. I once had a friend tell me that I didn't need to always say what was on my mind because my eyes were speaking loud and clear for me. I'm sure they're screaming all kinds of good stuff right about now because I can SEE! Every day I get more excited as my vision becomes clearer and clearer. It hasn't been instantaneous but I was forewarned that the recovery would take some time as my eyes adjusted to their new shape. And I don't need glasses any more! That in and of itself has had me doing the happy dance like I've lost my mind. I can't spend hours at the computer just yet because my eyes get heavy real quick and then things start to get fuzzy but I had to post to let you know I'm still here, still doing my thing, and having a good old time doing what I do.

Friday, April 20, 2007


The first amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, loosely translated, says that the government will not make any laws that will restrain or restrict an individuals right to say or publish what they want to. Have at it, what you spew is on you.

It’s these tenets of free speech that allow any of us to say and/or write what we want without fear of retribution. At least that’s what it’s supposed to do. But clearly, not all speech is free and we’ve seen example after example of that as well. Remember the Dixie Chicks and their comments about Heir Bush?

Don Imus got his head handed to him this past week for exercising his right to free speech. He made a racist joke about the young women on the Rutgers basketball team, calling them “nappy-headed hos”. His comments were just ignorant and totally uncalled for, but the Constitution gives him the right to say whatever he wants to say. It was his arrogance that led him to believe that his doing so would be okay. Imus discovered quite aptly that although government won’t slap his hand for being stupid, the people you done pissed off, their mamas, daddies, and the advertisers paying your bills will surely lose a foot in your ass given the time and the resources.

Don, of course, declared that black folk started this mess with the lyrics to rap music where young black males regularly insult and degrade women with sexist and misogynist comments. Of course, we’ve heard that decried before and from bigger fish than Imus. However, thanks to Don Imus, the criticism actually got loud enough where other folks started to pay more attention. Oprah herself devoted two days of commentary on her show to debate the pros and cons of lyrical content. Russell Simmons and the Hip-Hop Summit held a closed door meeting this week with music’s corporate hierarchy to discuss the subject. Blogs and community websites across the nation have registered their varying opinions as well.

Russell made an interesting comment. He said, “the hip-hop community is a mirror, a reflection of the dirt we overlook—the violence, the misogyny, the sexism. They need to be discussed. All throughout history the poets who have been a reflection of society have always been under fire. We don't like what they have to say, but some of it has to be examined." And now folks are. They’re examining it from every prospective imaginable including, artist creativity, corporate responsibility, and constitutional legality.

Now, this isn’t to say that all of this examination is going to change anything because in my humble opinion, I clearly doubt that it will. And for many, many reasons, I hope that it doesn’t. I don’t like that some folks think they have to turn a buck by demeaning and belittling others but I know that my money doesn’t support them. If yours does, then that’s on you. Bottom line though, if change does happen let it come from the individual who is doing the writing, not legislation or penalization from a power who thinks they know better.

I don’t think however that any one in their right mind is going to tread that tightrope of censorship. Business being what it is, it will always be about the bottom line for the corporate demagogues who put that kind of music out there. So if Billy Bob keeps buying it and it makes the record label money, if it pays June Bugs child support and keeps his mama’s lights turned on, then Bug and crew are going to be rapping about bitches and hos until they’re too old to rap.

But let’s just say something does happen and the powers in charge do effect change, then how soon before they come after other writers and writings? When will the current flood of baby mama drama, Chiquita’s workin’ the streets, Joe Thug doin’ time, ghetto-fabulous literature, get put under the red pen of censorship and publication not be allowed? When they’re done with them, will they move on to erotica and romance? Will the more highbrow literary masterpieces be next on the agenda? And who gets to decide what’s right for me, you and Big Mama to buy and read and what isn’t? When will what I choose to write become fodder for the masses to chew on, criticize, or complain about just because it’s not to one individual’s liking?

As a writer, if my writing is a reflection of the times, who has the right to fire upon me and tell me I can’t hold up a mirror to what I see and feel? If what we see isn’t wrapped in a pretty package with a bow on it, does that automatically make it wrong to say or write about? If it does, I imagine that it being hard out here for a pimp won’t begin to touch how much harder it can actually get for those of us who simply love the written word, our way, no matter what that might entail or who may or may not approve.

As a writer, trying to do what I do is hard enough with my not having to now worry about getting my hand slapped, or worse, to do it. So support a writer or a rapper if you like what they do. Save your money if you don’t. I guarantee that if I can't pay the bills I'll quickly rethink what I put down on paper for publication.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


There’s something overwhelming about the lightest caress that leaves you thoroughly heated, as if the hand that just brushed against your knee held lighter fluid and a match in the fingertips. The feeling of that special someone stepping behind you, just close enough where you can feel the heat from their body but not so close that you actually make contact. It’s a sensation that is so intense that you feel as if you might actually combust from the magnitude of it. When kisses are so sweet, so overwhelmingly intoxicating that not only can’t you breathe, but you forget your name, the time of day, and the fact that you’re standing in the middle of a crowded room with every eye on you. That’s what Joely says it’s like for her and Carl.

Joely and Carl are enjoying their new relationship. They were good friends first and recently allowed their connection to transition to something more. After weeks of trading some extremely passionate kisses and caresses, both are ready to take their intimacy to a whole other level. Joely says the prospect of going all the way is just like Christmas day when you were little and still believed in Santa Claus. Seeing the pretty presents all wrapped up under the tree and spotting that big one with your name on it. It’s the anticipation of finally being able to tear off the pretty paper to see what surprises lie inside. She’s petrified that the anticipation has been so overwhelming that they will both be disappointed by the present inside. She imagines that Carl may have some reservations as well. Then she wonders if she’s just over thinking the whole thing.

Although Joely jokes about what might go wrong, you can see the excitement in her face. It shimmers in her eyes and when she says Carl’s name you can hear the desire in her voice. Together, they’re like love struck teenagers about to combust. That alone tells me when the moment happens for them, it will be the best of everything either has ever imagined.


I was tired. So tired that I took to my bed this afternoon to vegetate the day away. I was tired because being angry uses a lot of energy and I’ve been angry for a day and a half now. I realize that what I feel isn’t really anger, but hurt. I’m hurt. My feelings have been bruised and usually I have a very thick skin so I don’t know why this is bothering me as much as it is.

I feel slighted by a good friend and I’m not quite sure slighted is the right word for me to use. This person didn’t necessarily do anything to me and what I’m angry/hurt about wasn’t intended to be malicious. I understand all this and could rationalize it for days but it stills stings and I do not like the feeling.

I’m sure my friend’s actions came from a good place, and like I said it wasn’t something done to me, but more about what my friend wouldn’t allow me to do for her. I know her well enough to know that she hasn’t given a second thought to her actions, probably believing that what she did to usurp what I imagined myself doing was the best thing for us both.

I wish I could explain that not only wasn’t it the best thing for me, but had she bothered to ask she would have discovered just how important doing something for her was to me. I had needed to do this more than she will ever know. Since we’d discussed it briefly many weeks ago, I thought she knew my intent. I thought my actions had conveyed such but apparently I was wrong. Interestingly enough, I’ve been wrong about a few things lately.

I asked another friend what they thought about the situation. I was told to let it go. This thing that was done wasn’t about me so I need to stop trying to make it so. This isn’t the first time this other friend has put me in check about my attitude toward something. This person shoots straight from the hip and adeptly cut right through all my crap and made me see past my own stuff to what was most important.

So, I’m letting it go, and to be perfectly honest, I feel better for doing so already.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Just a quick update because I'm short on time and energy. This has been an unusual week for me. Family came to visit unexpectedly, commanding attention that I had reserved for elsewhere. To say that I wasn't a happy camper was putting it mildly but what can you do when it's family. Unfortunately I didn't do well because I lost sleep, writing time, spirit, and an ounce or two of my sanity. By the end of their seven day visit I was ready to see them leave. So much so that when the alarm went off at four AM to get them to the airport for their early morning flight, I was the first one in the car, ready to go.

Karma, of course, came back to bite me in the butt for my unkind thoughts. Shortly before their departure I took a nasty fall, tripping over my feet onto a gravel walkway headfirst into the front quarter panel of my car. It wasn't pretty. Three hours between doctors and I am bruised and battered like I went seven rounds in a boxing match. The lump on my forehead has just begun to go down, it'll be weeks before I have flesh back on my knees and my foot, thankfully, wasn't fractured. It only suffered major soft tissue damage. And I dented my car.

On a high note, the baby boy went to the prom and had a good time. At some one o'clock in the morning he and his two best friends came crawling into the house and passed out asleep in my living room. Sometimes I feel like I still have three teenagers at home instead of just one. His buddies come and go like they live here which can be very disconcerting in the late night hours when one or more of them is scavaging in my refrigerator. They're good kids though and I'm thankful that my son feels comfortable enough to want them to be there with him rather than him being somewhere out in the streets with them.

And yesterday I spent four hours in a tattoo parlor. I didn't get a tattoo this time although I am planning to get another very soon. But I did do something I've wanted to do for a very long time. It felt quite liberating and just a touch devious. The moment took me back to a time when I felt most free, walking a tightrope on the wild side of my more conservative personality.

I walked back in time more than once this past week. Most of it good, some of it a bit disconcerting. Most of my past experiences and memories don't haunt me but I have one or two that have left some significant scars on my psyche. Years of therapy enabled me to get past some serious trauma and find a good place to exist in. My past philosophy was to just leave some things dead, to take them to the grave with me because I don't believe that it serves any grand purpose at this point in my life to not do so. But for the first time, sharing my issues didn't leave me as broken as it has done before. I cracked, just a touch, but I was able to fix myself real quick. Airing your dirt and demons with someone you trust completely truly makes a significant difference in how you feel and inevitably deal with them.

And now I'm healing, hoping my body will rejuventate itself quickly. I'm feeling my age right now and I'm not that old. With prayer, a blessing or two, and a hint of luck, I'm hoping this week will be just a bit brighter.

Sunday, April 08, 2007


I know a couple that is navigating their way toward what they hope will be a permanent relationship. Both sense that they would be dynamic together and they relish the moment when they can be more public with their affection for each other. They are taking it slow though, both unloading luggage they've collected separately over the years. It's excess baggage that could potentially destroy them before they can even get started on a joint journey if they're not careful to unpack and be rid of its contents. I can appreciate that they are mindful of the fact that entering a new relationship before they've dealt with their respective issues and demons will not serve either of them well.

I've watched them do that courtship dance where they've slowly grown to know and appreciate each other. When the WOW-factor of what could possibly exist between them hit, it hit hard, surprising them both when they least expected it. Now they're anxious to see how far they can take this thing that has grown between them. They're excited to discover whether or not they can be as dynamic as they think they can be. But they don't come into this alone and both are acutely aware that what they do will significantly impact others in their lives as well.

He brings a child from a previous relationship with him and so does she. For those who have merged one family with another, this isn't always an easy feat to accomplish. Intuition tells me that when the true nature of the relationship becomes known, the children will probably be the most supportive and the least surprised. Children know their parents better than their parents know themselves at times. As an outsider looking in, I love the dynamics of what their new family could possibly be. I've watched them engaged together, comfortable with one another. They laugh, joke, talk, and share time easily. When the children are being children with each other, they are inspiriing and it makes one believe that this thing the adults are longing for can exist and be more than even they have yet to realize.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


I don’t know what got in to me today but since last night I’ve been craving a sweet piece of chocolate like there is no tomorrow. And I mean craving it like I’m addicted and in need of a sweet tooth fix, craving it. My love for chocolate goes way beyond the call for a simple taste of sweetness. It’s a love that has become so consuming that I can’t begin to imagine anything else comparing to it. My want of it is like nothing I have ever experienced before and with each taste, I hunger for more like I’ve been starved of sugar and sweets all my life.

I understand all the scientific rhetoric about chocolate stimulating the release of endorphins and natural body hormones that generate feelings of pleasure and well being, but it’s more than that for me. My chocolate desire has a strength and sensuality that I can’t begin to find the words for. Its allure is joyous and endearing. With me and chocolate there is a sense of contentment and bliss like I have never known. And I am craving it!

I’m headed to the store right now just to get me a piece. Something absolutely sinful and decadent. I don’t need a whole lot of it, just a little taste to ease this chocolate love Jones I’ve got going on. Just one little taste will make breaking my diet promise well worth it.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


It’s hell when you’re craving conversation and you can’t get anyone to talk to you. I realized after hanging up with a friend, our conversation barely lasting five minutes as he wished me a good night, that I was really in a mood to talk to someone and he was clearly not interested in talking to me. Other folks were out and about, not answering their telephone and I was feeling a little lonely. Actually, I was feeling a lot lonely. Even my baby boy wasn’t interested as he took off to spend the night with friends, clearly uninterested in talking to his mother. And so I called Mr. Ben to see how he was and he invited me to his house to shoot the breeze with him over a cup of coffee. Not only did he have coffee but also a decadent chocolate cake that one of his lady friends had made for him. It took one bite of cake and a sip of coffee (I swear he spiked it) and I was feeling a whole lot better.

Mr. Ben has more wisdom packed in his wrinkled little finger than most folks will ever know in a lifetime. That old man read my mood, diagnosed my problem, and told me everything I needed to hear before I could reach for a second piece of cake. With a little help from my dear friend I suddenly realized that what I had perceived to be a problem was actually a blessing. I’ve been so busy trying to pick it apart, find fault with it, rethink it again and again, that I didn’t bother to just step back and look at it for not only what it was, but what it could possibly be, if I just let go, and let God. Mr. Ben, in all his simplicity, afforded me the opportunity to find a quiet moment of clarity to actually hear the answers I’ve been praying for.

Then he had me laughing until tears were streaming down my face. I can only imagine that with some of the antics he gets himself into now, what he must have been like back in the day. And clearly back in the day, Mr. Ben was quite the character.

Mr. Ben is a pretty man. As I traveled back in time with him through his family photo album I realized just how pretty Mr. Ben had been. He and his late wife made a striking couple but Mr. Ben was the prettier of the two and he knew it. He didn’t mind letting everyone else know it either. Mr. Ben readily admits his failings as a husband and a man and I hope that his wife was blind to some of his shortcomings. I can only imagine the hurt she must have experienced over those failings she did see. And even though Mr. Ben admits to doing her wrong more times that anyone would care to count, he will swear unequivocally that he has never loved any woman the way he loved his wife.

As I was leaving, I stopped to ask Mr. Ben about a pile of rocks that littered his front yard and the beginnings of a stone wall that appeared to have been left unfinished. It seems his father had been a stone mason of sorts, the man’s masonry work adorning a significant portion of Chapel Hill, NC. Mr. Ben learned the craft from his dad although after he got grown, he refused to do such to earn a living for himself. He didn’t want to work as hard as his father had worked for the little his father had earned. Apparently, it’s one of those life choices Mr. Ben has come to regret. The wall in his front yard has actually just been started, Mr. Ben and his son recently taking on the project. When I asked him why, Mr. Ben paused and then said, “because I can”. Then he added that he thought his own father would have liked to see another generation doing what he had loved so much.

Mr. Ben shared story after story that I will eventually pass on. I told him that I would write about him and share the tales he has shared with me. He questioned why I would want to bother with an old man like him. And I told him. “Mr. Ben, because I can.”

Sunday, April 01, 2007

DEAR DEBBY - 4/1/07

Dear Debby is taking a break today and maybe next week too. I'm looking for advice for myself as I try to maneuver my way through a long standing problem that has resurfaced with a vengeance. It's far easier to be an outsider looking in at someone else's problems than it is to be smack dab in the middle of your own mess. And although I welcome words of wisdom and all the advice I know good intentions can offer, I ultimately know that I am the only one who can decide what is best for me. So while I figure out what I need to do for Debby, I imagine there's little advice I'm going to be able to offer anyone else. Until the next time, take care of yourselves!


My next book, Always Means Forever, will drop in June. The new cover showed up on and this past week. I'm not head over heels in love with it but I definitely don't hate it. In fact, I'm actually impressed that the woman on the cover actually resembles the character in the book.

Covers are always an issue for authors, especially those of us who don't get any say in how our covers will look. There is only one that I felt actually captured the characters and the story and that was the cover for my second book, A LOVE FOR ALL TIME. When I first saw that cover I instantly knew the exact scene from the book it represented. I loved that cover. And though I may have complained, I did truly value my other covers. They represented someone's hard work that was done on my behalf and I do appreciate that.

I love the next book. It was a fun write. It's the story of Bridget Hinton and Darwin Tolliver. Bridget and Darwin were first introduced in my book, The Right Side Of Love and then again in Love In The Lineup. Bridget done finally got her man but Darwin comes with a challenging problem. One that has a profound impact on their bedroom activities. Bridget discovers that getting her groove on isn't quite what she'd imagined it would be.

The story was a challenge in more ways than I cared to count. I took a number of creative liberties with the storyline, a few that had me butting heads with my editor. There were some questions raised about the realism, which I understood, but hey, it's fiction, so why not push the envelope as long as I can tell a great story. Ultimately, I think I told a really great story. I'm just hoping everyone else thinks so too.


Ms. Betty readily admits that she made some really bad life choices. She was barely fifteen when she fell in love. Head over hills, had her slapping her mama it felt so good, in love. The object of her affection however was significantly older than she was. So much so that her daddy put them both on notice. He was off limits and if the man wanted to live a long and full life, then he had to stay as far from Ms. Betty as he could. Needless to say, neither Ms. Betty or her man paid any heed to her daddy's words of wisdom.

Ms. Betty was sixteen when she became pregnant with her first child. Fearing that her father would do her honey some harm, she maneuvered to put the pregnancy on someone else, a boy closer to her own age who'd had his eye on her. When her daddy found out, he did what they did back in the day. Grabbed that shotgun by the front door and let the two mamas arrange a nice family wedding, quick and fast. Devastated, Ms. Betty's true love went his own way and married himself a nice girl who lived next door.

Fast forward some twenty-odd years. Both Ms. Betty and her husband have raised three children together. But both are miserable. Over the years they drowned their misery in alcohol and abuse. Clearly they are a family whose many dysfunctions began with one big, bold lie. On the other side of town true love and the girl next door aren't fairing much better, unhappiness a common thread they all share.

Ms. Betty's wake up call came after the death of her husband and an illness that nearly had her meeting her own maker. Ms. Betty sobered up good and clean and then started to deal with some harsh truths. And she made a decision that would change the dynamics of all their lives. Ms. Betty went after her man. She was a woman on a mission and no one, not even her daddy or the girl next door, was going to keep her from having what she wanted.

Ms. Betty and her true love recently celebrated some thirty years of marriage, the second for them both. They have six children between then, the oldest and youngest theirs together, and two from his first marriage and two from hers. Both are thriving, just absolutely giddy over how things have changed for them. Even the girl next door actually found herself some happiness. I asked Ms.Betty if she had any regrets. She answered, only one. She regrets she made the bad choice that lost her twenty-odd years with the love of her life.