Monday, November 26, 2007


Hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving holiday. I know I did. For the first time in a very long time I did absolutely nothing. Barely got out of my pajamas this year. Truth be told it was some much needed rest. I slept long, slept well, and now I’m feeling substantially reinvigorated.

Went to the movies last night with a group of women who had me laughing to and from the theater. We had a great time and saw a really great movie. If you have an opportunity don’t miss the experience of the new movie, This Christmas.

This Christmas stars an ensemble cast that includes veterans actors Loretta Devine, Delroy Lindo, Idris Elba, Regina King, Sharon Leal, and Mekhi Phifer, and the talents of youthful Lauren London, Chris Brown, Columbus Short, and Malcolm Moore.

The movie is so much about family. This year, Christmas with the Whitfield family promises to be one they will never forget. It’s the first time in four years that the Whitfield siblings are together for the holidays in their family home and they come with baggage galore. There’s the usual tree trimming and light hanging wrapped in a multitude of secrets and scandal. The soundtrack is off the chain for those who love themselves some old school and Chris Brown just sings his sweet little heart out. This movie was truly a treat for the eyes and had an assortment of eye candy to satisfy any holiday sweet tooth.

I have to tell you this movie had me wishing Christmas Day were here already. I left the theater with the Christmas spirit and can’t wait for the holiday to get here. It brought home some great memories of Christmas’ past and had me planning for many a future holiday as well.

Kick off your holiday with a great feel good movie. This one is a keeper and I can’t wait to see it again.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Gobble, Gobble, Gobble!

It’s that time of year again. Celebrations reign with family and friends, and folks come together to give thanks for their blessings. I have much to be thankful for. Every so often I need me a swift kick to remind me just how truly blessed I am.

This hasn’t’ been a good year. Truth be told I haven’t had a truly good year in a good long while now. But it was a blessed year. For every door that was closed another opened. Challenges came and were surpassed and with each one I was in awe of my own personal strength to be able to overcome the adversity. Personal drama fueled fictional fantasies and I have been writing like I haven’t been able to write for some time. My heart was opened in ways I had never fathomed possible and as I approach the holidays I feel a tremendous wave of relief and comfort washing over me.

Last week I couldn’t imagine myself cooking a thing for the holiday. Today I can’t see myself NOT cooking. My gobble, gobble, gobble will go into the oven at the crack of dawn. My baby boy will get his favorite mac and cheese. Friends will enjoy home baked challah, cakes, and pies. I’ll find comfort in the decadent aromas of my kitchen and the abundance of food that will grace my Thanksgiving Day table.

I am immensely blessed and grateful for the opportunity to not only acknowledge that fact but to give thanks for each and every blessing.

Happy Thanksgiving and may you each have a safe and blessed holiday!

Monday, November 19, 2007


I swear I learn something new every day!

America 's High Tech 'Invisible Man'

By Tyrone D. Taborn

You may not have heard of Dr. Mark Dean. And you aren't alone. But almost everything in your life has been affected by his work. Dr. Mark Dean is a Ph.D. from Stanford University. He is in the National Hall of Inventors. He has more than thirty patents currently pending. He is a vice president with IBM. And, he is also the architect of the modern-day personal computer.

Dr. Dean holds three of the original nine patents on the computer that all PCs are based upon. And, Dr. Mark Dean is an African American. So how is it that we can celebrate the 20th anniversary of the IBM personal computer without reading or hearing a single word about him? Given all of the pressure mass media are under about negative portrayals of African Americans on television and in print, you would think it would be a slam dunk to highlight someone like Dr. Dean. Somehow, though, we have managed to miss the shot.

History is cruel when it comes to telling the stories of African Americans. Dr. Dean isn't the first Black inventor to be overlooked. Consider John Stanard, inventor of the refrigerator; George Sampson, creator of the clothes dryer; Alexander Miles and his elevator; Lewis Latimer and the electric lamp. All of these inventors share two things: One, they changed the landscape of our society; and, two, society relegated them to the footnotes of history.

Hopefully, Dr. Mark Dean won't go away as quietly as they did. He certainly shouldn't. Dr. Dean helped start a digital revolution that enabled the works of Microsoft's Bill Gates and Dell Computer's Michael Dell. Millions of jobs in information technology can be traced back directly to Dr. Dean. More important, stories like Dr. Mark Dean's should serve as inspiration for African-American children. Already victims of the 'Digital Divide' and failing school systems, young, Black kids might embrace technology with more enthusiasm if they knew someone like Dr. Dean was already leading the way.

Although technically Dr. Dean can't be credited with creating the computer - - that is left to Alan Turing, a pioneering 20th-century English mathematician, widely considered to be the father of modern computer science -- Dr. Dean rightly deserves to take a bow for the machine we use today. The computer really wasn't practical for home or small business use until he came along, leading a team that developed the interior architecture (ISA systems bus) that enables multiple devices, such as modems and printers, to be connected to personal computers. In other words, because of Dr. Dean, the PC became a part of our daily lives. For most of us, changing the face of society would have been enough. But not for Dr. Dean.

Still in his early forties, he has a lot of inventing left in him. He recently made history again by leading the design team responsible for creating the first 1-gigahertz processor chip. It's just another huge step in making computers faster and smaller. As the world congratulates itself for the new Digital Age brought on by the personal computer, we need to guarantee that the African-American story is part of the hoopla surrounding the most stunning technological advance the world has ever seen. We cannot afford to let Dr. Mark Dean become a footnote in history. He is well worth his own history book.

Monday, November 12, 2007



Saturday, November 17, 2007

3:00 PM

East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Court
Knightdale, NC 27545
(919) 217-5300


Cheris Hodges

Deborah Fletcher Mello

Monique Miller

Hosted by
In The Spirit Book Club

Historically, I've not done many of these book things but when In The Spirit Book Club invites me to do their book thing, I go. I met this amazing group of women at another author's event. I'd arrived late and was trying to navigate my way through the crowd to any empty seat. Unfortunately there weren't many but a lovely group of ladies waved me in their direction and I gladly plopped by big butt down.

My first book hadn't dropped yet and I was feeling so out of place but these ladies were welcoming and warm and soon I was having myself one good old time. When they learned that I was soon to be published, the groups' president wrote down my name and number and promised that her group would read my book. Not only did they read me, but they made sure that I had presence in their local library and three of my books have been featured readings for their group. They've continued to show me much love and I consider their club president one of my dearest friends.

I always enjoy myself at this event and look forward to being invited every year. So, if you're in the area, please come on by and join us. I assure you it will be one heck of a good time!


I have a friend who thinks it is the funniest thing that I never drank Kool-Aid until I was well into my teens. Every time the subject comes up he is rolling on the floor with laughter. I can’t help but laugh myself because what family back in the day didn’t raise their children on Kool-Aid? Well, mine didn’t.

My first experience with Kool-Aid was at a cousin’s house during a summer break. I thought it was the coolest thing to be able to make a full pitcher of drink from that little packet of colored powder and a bucket load of granulated sugar! I can actually remember returning home and sharing that knowledge with my mother who looked at me like I’d just told her we’d built an atomic bomb out of shoe leather and toothpaste. She was not amused and it was many years later before she finally broke down and allowed Kool-Aid into our home. It was also that presweetened variety as well, not the little flavor packets that you could sweeten yourself.

My dear friend laughed himself silly when I told him I’d never eaten canned vegetables, potted meat, Vienna sausages, or government cheese either. Not that he could talk because he never ate grits. I mean really, how many Southern Baptist black children do you know that didn’t grow up eating grits? I know I ate me some grits and I wasn’t Southern or Baptist!

I was raised in an extremely white, upper middle class neighborhood in very wealthy Fairfield County, Connecticut. My friends were kids who got BMW’s for their first communion and Mercedes Benz’s for their bar mitzvah’s. I wore clothes from Lord and Taylors and Bloomingdales, and I’d be the first to say that I grew up privileged, prissy and just a tad pretentious.

Ours was the first of only four black families to integrate the neighborhood and until fifth grade there were only two black students in the elementary school I attended. I attended a black church and spent my summers on my grandparent’s South Carolina farm where I learned to pick cotton and eat watermelon right off the vine.

Growing up, I was an anomaly. I wasn’t blonde or blue-eyed, my mother wasn’t a stay-at-home Mom, and my father worked three jobs and none of them were on Wall Street. During my fifth grade year busing became en vogue and suddenly there were other black kids filling up the classrooms. That’s when I discovered just how different I truly was. I didn’t feel different or look different but to everyone else I was suddenly too white to be black and too black to be white. I was called Oreo, half-n-half, high yeller, wannabe, jigaboo, and a host of other expletives more than I was called by my name. It truly wasn’t pretty.

I’ve had to deal with issues of race most of my life. The environment I was raised in called it into question on a daily basis. I was either treated differently because the color of my skin was different, or I was treated differently because I spoke and behaved differently. Out of sheer necessity I learned early how to walk in two very different worlds but I was never made to feel welcome or comfortable in either. Fast forward a few years and I marry a man who is biracial, straddling a fence of black/white and Portuguese parentage. He still doesn’t have a clue where he falls on the color wheel. Our children are an amalgamation of many ethnicities and they could care less. Depending on the mood of the moment they’ve been known to check either the black box or the other box proudly. They listen to rap, classical and hard rock, eat chitlin’s, pizza, and Puerco guisado, and genuinely can’t understand what all the hoopla is about race and why people fear it so.

When I was first called about my very first manuscript, the editor at the time spoke to me on the telephone for a good fifteen minutes about my book. The conversation was curious at best and then she asked if I would please email her a picture of myself. I thought it a pretty strange request but hey, a real publisher was interested in my writing so I was ready to send as many photos as she wanted. Ten minutes after she received the email I received my second CALL and an offer to purchase my book. I later understood that they needed to be sure I was what I claimed to be, a black woman writing black romance. Apparently that didn’t come across over the telephone line.

I have no doubts that the majority of my readers are black women. Interestingly though, I had a book signing recently where I sold a lot of books. Only one of my fans who came to see me was a black woman. Most of the books sold were purchased by non-black readers, male and female. I thought for just a brief second that there was actually some progress being made and then one elderly “fan” felt compelled to expound on what she thought about me and my writing. The praises were plentiful and complementary and then she leaned in, her hand pressed against my shoulder and said, “I do like your writing. It’s not like you’re really black, dear.”

As a black author published in the romance genre I find myself once again straddling that fence where I understand that I’m not necessarily welcome nor is there any concern that I’m comfortable. I’m discovering that to write what I want to write I will clearly have to walk in two very different worlds or make the conscious decision not to be published at all.

I wish I could be as dismissive about race as my children but I can’t. My race plays a fundamental role in where my books are shelved in the stores, if they’re carried in certain bookstores at all, and whether or not I can get a book deal for a book that isn’t black romance. I’m not blonde this week and since my last blonde disaster I doubt highly that me and Miss Clairol will be trying that ever again. I’ll never be blue-eyed and there is nothing prissy, privileged or prissy about me.

I am black. I was born black and guaranteed I’ll die black. I’m a black woman and one hell of a force to be reckoned with. And I’m a damn good writer no matter what I happen to be writing about. I’ve got a lot of storytelling left in me and just like my Kool-Aid, the flavor I tell them in will be however I choose. Since I don’t plan to go anywhere any time soon, pull up a seat, grab yourself a glass of Kool-Aid, choose your own flavor, and join me. I’ve got a great story I’d love to tell you.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


I am a collector. I collect tea pots, pottery, paintings, and some “stuff” that people can’t seem to figure out why I have to have. But I have an affinity for beautiful things. Many of the things I collect I acquire simply because I find them beautiful. Beautiful things bring me immeasurable joy. Today was the last day of the county’s Open Studio Tour. It’s an annual event hosted by the Artist’s Guild to promote the work of local artists. The tour enables you to walk into an artist’s workspace to see how they do what they do. It’s also a fascinating opportunity to acquire something beautiful where you least expect it.

There were only a few studios I wanted to visit. Artists whose work I’ve admired for some time and wanted to see what they had that was new. And then there was one artist, Laura Farrow, whose work I wanted to experience for the first time. Laura Farrow is a sculptor. Some of her work is influenced by her experiences in Africa, Tanzania specifically. Some of her work is influenced by her fascination with indigenous cultures. Other pieces are influenced by the human experience of just being a woman in a big wide world. Her artwork is truly extraordinary and for the brief time that I was able to walk her studio I became enamored with many beautiful things.

I asked Laura why she’d named her studio, BROKEN TUSK and she told me a story about the Hindu, elephant-headed deity, Ganesha. Ganesha is the Lord of success and destroyer of evil and obstacles. He is also worshipped as the god of education, knowledge, wisdom and wealth. He has the head of an elephant and the body of a human being with a substantial pot-belly. Ganesha has a broken tusk which he holds like a pen in his lower right hand. It is said that Ganesha broke off his tusk in sacrifice to write the Mahabharata, the great Hindu epic. Laura said she was taken with the idea of one sacrificing a piece of themselves for their art and thus BROKEN TUSK STUDIO came to be.

Her explanation resonated deeply with me. I understand sacrificing a piece of one’s self for one’s art. I do it with each story I tell. Every book I’ve ever written holds a part of me that I’ve gladly given away to be able to do what I do and do it well. I’ve discovered recently that my best writing comes when I’ve been willing to expose myself, no matter how vulnerable that might make me. It’s that vulnerability, when I let down my barriers and allow myself to spill into my words that feeds and nurtures my best work. It’s when I’m broken and I give those shattered pieces of myself away that my writing grows and my spirit soars and I am left with something that is sheer beauty for someone else to read.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


I absolutely LOVE the cover of my newest book! That's two out of eight in my absolutely LOVE pile. We're making some serious progress.

I'd gotten a peek at it months ago. At that time I refused to get excited because experience has taught me that the powers in charge are alway subject to change and therefore my cover could have undergone a transition as well. It happened with book #5, Love In The Lineup. The original cover I'd been presented with was incredible. The cover that ended up on the book wasn't. I found out about the change when the cover showed up on The moment wasn't pretty.

But had this cover up on its site today. This cover made me very, very happy. If these two aren't Marah Briscoe and John Stallion I don't know who else is. I only wish I could see more of John 'cause the brother is one picture perfect piece of male speciman. And he's got the mouth of a God. Does this man not have the most perfect lips?

TO LOVE A STALLION was such a fun book to write. I had an absolute blast putting pen to paper and bringing this couple to their happy ending. The two together are so smooth that they remind me of sweet cream and chocolate pudding. I'm hoping everyone else loves their story as much as I loved writing it. I assure you it's one heck of a good read!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


I am loving Rissi Palmer and it's just like she sings:

It`s the way I think not how I talk
It`s a pride you feel that makes you walk the walk
Come Sunday morning palms up in praise
It`s all about my mama `nem
And how I was raised
It`s a state of mind no matter where you`re from
Living like your grandma done....

Saturday, November 03, 2007


There is a debate raging on whether or not married folks can or should have friends of the opposite sex. Since I was a kid most of my friends have always been male. For no particular reason, not all women jive well with other women, or men with men, for that matter.

I married a man who was adamant that no good could come from such relationships. He firmly believed that no man just wanted to be “friends” with any woman, particularly one that he was married to. Subsequently, I severed ties with a number of really good friends. It's a decision I deeply regret. After many years I came to understand that his issue with my friendships had to do with his insecurities and the issues of trust between us more than anything else.

This past Sunday pastor preached about infidelity of the heart. The gist of the sermon was how to have an affair with your spouse and not have an affair with someone else. Pastor maintains that married couples do not need, nor should they ever have, friends of the opposite sex. Pastor claimed God made men and women to be attracted to each other and there is no way to deny that attraction. Somewhere in his bible there was scripture to support the sin and evil that could come from such liaisons. I personally didn’t agree with everything pastor had to say, but then that was me. I just knew from my own relationships, my friends and I weren’t interested in jumping into bed with each other just because they were male and I was female.

I’m not a woman who has a problem with her spouse or companion having female friendships. If I’m in a relationship with a man I love and trust then I trust that those friendships will never cross the line to disrespect. Not every woman feels the way I do.

Piper’s hubby has female friends. Piper is well acquainted with most of them. Piper has never had an issue with any of them until lately. There are two or three of these friends that clearly don’t have their friend’s best interests at heart.

Friend Number One is an old classmate of Piper’s. This friend seems to spend an exorbitant amount of time telling Piper’s husband about Piper’s old trysts and liaisons. Piper has an issue with this since most of the telling is fabricated, exploited, or blown completely out of proportion. Piper’s having difficulty reconciling why the husband seems to enjoy the friend disparaging Piper every chance she gets.

Friend Number Two doesn’t think Piper’s the best woman for the husband and doesn’t mind saying so. This is a friend who gets great pleasure from predicting doom and gloom for the duo. Piper can’t figure out the draw here either.

Friend Number Three clearly wants to be more than friends. She’s an ex-girlfriend of the husband’s and wants to be in Piper’s shoes. This friend likes to jokingly make threats about doing Piper harm. In fact, at least one of her daily text messages to the husband is a message that she wants him to relay to Piper about kicking her butt, smashing her face, or breaking one of her limbs. Piper doesn’t get the funny-ha-ha about it that the husband seems to think she should.

I had to tell Piper the husband has clearly crossed the line. Friends or not, no man who truly values and respects her would allow any friend of his, male or female, to disrespect her so blatantly. The fact that her husband does says more about him than I think Piper cares to know.


Jesse’s got some issues with his girl Taylor. Taylor and her ex-hubby share custody of an adolescent. Occasionally, Taylor and her ex have to participate in parent events to support that child. This is how it should be. Jesse understands those situations require the two to be in each other’s company. Boyfriend might not like it but he'll have to get over it. Jesse knows that it is the child’s best interests that need to be taken above all else so he sucks up his issues and tries not to let his own insecurities cause them all unnecessary drama. Jesse will be the first to say he fully supports what’s best for little Junior.

The kid has been dealing with some heavy issues lately. Parents at each other’s throat can do that to a baby. Feeling neglected and ignored hasn’t helped the child much either. So Taylor decided to take Junior away for a mini vacation, some quality parent and child time to get them back on track. Jesse fully supported that knowing how important it was to Taylor to strengthen her relationship with her offspring. When the ex-hubby decided to tag along for the ride, Jesse hated to admit that he had some serious issues. Parent events is one thing. Mini vacations are a whole other animal.

Jesse’s been rationalizing it to death. Taylor said she really didn’t want the ex-hubby to go. She wasn’t much interested in spending her whole weekend with her ex. Jesse really wanted to believe that. But when Taylor didn’t put up much of a fight when it was time to pull out of the driveway, taking the ex-hubby along on her and Junior's good time, Jesse had to admit he didn‘t know what to believe. Jesse got left behind and he won’t say it out loud but it hurt a hell of a lot more than he thought it would. Now Jesse isn’t sure what to believe about this whole mess because his insecurities are raging rampant and out-of-control.

So, here’s what I know. People don’t typically do things they don’t want to do, unless of course their hands are tied behind their back and they’re being held hostage with a gun to their head. If Taylor really didn’t want the ex to tag along she could have easily told him this trip wasn’t for them the family but for her the mother and Junior the child. If Taylor and the ex-hubby aren’t together the way she continues to claim, then the ex-hubby shouldn’t have had a problem with that and if he did tough. He‘d get over it. Taylor should have just let it be his problem if he wanted to make it one. The ex-hubby could have easily taken Junior away for quality parent-child time on another weekend.

But I also know children. And I know parents will sometimes do what they might not want to do because it is best for the child. From the beginning, none of this was about Taylor and what she might have wanted, but all about Junior and what he needed. I have no doubts that he wanted his daddy and his mommy along on his good time. Taylor did what she needed to do as a parent first. I can’t fault her one bit for that.

Jesse needs to reel in his insecurities. His lack of confidence in what he shares with Taylor could very well put them some place he’d rather not be. If there is anything to Taylor and her ex-hubby time will surely show that hand when and if it needs to. If there is anything at all to Jesse and Taylor, Jesse will man up and just let this go. Eventually that hurt he’s now feeling will heal. In the end though, Taylor’s baby is what matters most. The adults will just have to work out the rest of their issues on their own.