Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I'm published!

Today the sequel to White Belt, Yellow Belt made its Kindle debut! As of this evening, it was #25 of the Top 100 Paid Horror Short Stories in the company of none other than Mr. Stephen "Fancy-Pants" King.  Okay... that's not actually his middle name... I think.

I am so incredibly grateful for the downloads, retweets and favorites.  If you like what you read, don't forget to review!

Remember, you don't need a Kindle! You can download the FREE Kindle Reading App for your smartphone or PC HERE.

Love and Light,

Monday, January 27, 2014

Download White Belt for FREE now through the release of Yellow Belt this Wednesday, January 29th here!
If you don't have a Kindle, download a FREE Reading App for your Smartphone or PC here
White Belt hit No. 1 on the Top 100 FREE in Horror yesterday. I am so humbled and so grateful for each an every download!
Don't forget to leave a review :-). 

Love and Light,

Thursday, January 23, 2014

I had a dream about the house again. 

The benefit of working from home part of the week is that I get to take an occasional nap at lunch.  I say "nap" loosely because usually it involves me struggling to keep my eyes open while working and setting the alarm for 30-45 minutes "just in case" I fall asleep.  That lends itself to one of those sleeps where you're not really sleeping, you magically lose time but remain acutely aware of every sound in your house and you usually wake up startled.  Anyway, today during said "nap attack," I had a dream about the house. 

For the past few years, I've dreamt of it.  It's a large house with a stucco finish and one of those rolling burgundy California roofs.  It is sprawled out on acres of land surrounded by Japanese Maple trees and beautiful gardens.  It has large rooms with adjoining bathrooms and runway closets.  My dreams are typically mundane.  My husband is outside building a swing set for the kids; I am reading a book on an oversized chaise lounge beside a fire; or, I am showing a guest (usually family) to the room where they will be staying.  Today, I dreamt I was getting ready for bed.  I put on a black nightgown and rubbed lotion into my arms.  I told my husband I was going to get a snack and pulled on a thigh length robe.  He kissed my cheek and I exited, softly closing the door behind me.  While I had every intention on going to get a snack, I instead made my way to the room.

In every dream, I visit the room. The room is immaculate.  The walls are lavender.  The bed is lush and creamy white.  It looks like a bundle of fluffy clouds and it cries for me every time I see it.  There is a purple and white bathroom en suite with a huge soaking tub and a picture window beside it with a view of the large oak trees behind the house.  Beside a wall of bookcases on the far end of the room is a entry way leading to a small set of spiral stairs.  The stairs lead to a loft above the room with dark hardwood floors and sunlight pouring in.   The loft is like a blank canvas and I think to myself how perfect it would be for writing.

I dream of standing in the entryway to the room often.  Occasionally, I dare to tip toe through.  In this dream, I entered.  I traced my fingers along the walls and sank my bare feet into the carpet.  The air, the experience, the energy... it sent a rush through my body.  It formed goosebumps on my skin and a dance in my soul.  As usual, I wondered why I didn't utilize the space.  After all, it was my house.  I considered diving into the fluffy comforter and taking a nap.  I considered filling the tub with warm water, shedding my clothes, and immersing myself in the porcelain tub.  Then, almost as quickly as I considered it, I tip-toed out, shutting the doors and running off to another task my subconscious demanded.   This time, to get a snack. I always wake up wondering why I didn't lay in the bed or take a bath.  I wonder why I didn't just take my things from the much less opulent room my husband and I shared and move them into this beautiful room. 

Today, I woke up pissed.  I wondered why I felt so undeserving of that beautiful room.  I wondered why it was so easy for me to leave it untouched without so much as sitting on the bed, or running my hand under the cool water as it expanded in the tub.  I've come to the conclusion that my conscious life is informing my subconscious life.  In "real" life, I constantly question whether I am deserving of happiness or success.  Who am I to have love?  Who am I to have a big dream? Who am I to have it come true?  In the context of the dream, I already had a beautiful room in a beautiful house, why would I even think to want more?  I think when you have been raised with a healthy dose of gratitude and humility and/or you know what it is to not have peace, you treasure peace.  You almost hold your breath in peaceful times collecting every drop of happiness and saving them up for dark days.  You don't look around at that which makes you happy and say, can I have a little more please? I'd like to smile bigger.  I'd like to hug someone I love longer, and I'd like to do that for more than a weekend.  That would make me an awful person, right?

I think what I need to learn, and maybe I'm not alone in this, is that it is okay to dream, it is okay to reach, it is okay to want more.  It is okay to believe you can have more.  I'm not talking about money.  I'm talking about peace.... freedom.  I'm talking about love, loving, being loved, doing what you love, experiencing what you love... love.  It doesn't make me ungrateful to want to take a long bath in that tub followed by a naked nap on that fluffy bed.  I deserve it.  We all deserve it.  I just hope my subconscious gets the memo.

Maybe next time I'll at least sit down :-).

Love and Light,

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Coming January 29, 2014!
Download White Belt on Amazon now and get caught up!
Love and Light,

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Sasheer Zamata

Dear Ms. LaKendra Tookes, Ms. Leslie Jones and Ms. Sasheer Zamata:

Congratulations on joining the staff of Saturday Night Live.  One can only imagine the arduous steps it took to reach this place in your career. I hope you take a moment to breathe in the sheer magnitude of what you have accomplished and celebrate accordingly.  You deserve it :-).

As you are more than aware, the hiring decision comes amidst a public outcry for more diversity on the late night variety show.  As a former fan of SNL, particularly during the Fey/Poehler/Rudolph/Wiig days, I was especially vocal (my hard thought choice to no longer support the show came after the airing of the sketch, "White Christmas" on December 8).

When I heard the news that SNL had hired three black women, I was hopeful.  Not because I hoped you three would be tasked with educating the community or furthering a social justice agenda.  I was hopeful because of the chance this opportunity has given you three to share the breadth of our humanity with a society that doesn’t always see it.  As a black woman, I am hard pressed to find an image of myself in the media I can be proud of.  The media has exploited the worst parts of our humanity, whether it be beautiful black women attacking each other over petty disagreements and worthless men, scantily clad black women wearing the term “bitch” and parading their sexuality in a way that holds little worth or sanctity, or useless statistics about the desirability of black women paraded about as fact.  As a black woman, it is a choice to hold my head high.  It is a choice to see beyond the stereotypes and attacks and celebrate my own beauty and worth.  The thing is, although my personal battle may have been won, we are losing the public one.   I can muster all the pride I have when walking into a boardroom; however, the stereotypes arrive before me.  The media fiction becomes a perverse fact.  An opponent I must battle every day in reality to prove I am not who they say I am.

LaKendra Tookes (l), Leslie Jones (r)

Now, look, I understand your job is to be funny.  Who am I to task you with anything different?  I’m not signing your checks or making hiring decisions.  I am merely a 32 year old black woman with a law degree, a husband, two kids, and a television.  I want you to make me laugh.  I am rooting for you to make me laugh.  I just ask that you consciously avoid making me the butt of the joke.   That in your artistic process,  you have dignity; you never feel shame; and you create a body of work that gives you pride.  Despite the circumstances of your hiring, I want you to never chalk up your presence on the SNL staff as the “black” seat, yielding to roles and tasks that celebrate stereotypes and damaging images.  

SNL alumna, Tina Fey once said, “I want to keep creating comedy that is, as my old improv teacher would say, at the top of our intelligence or higher. It’s easy to fall into the trap of just cranking out things that are good enough to sell.”  I ask that you be more than "good enough to sell" and be brave enough to challenge yourself and those around you.  Leave footsteps that we are proud to walk in, not just more hurdles that we have to overcome.

Good luck.

Love and Light,

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

I had to be about twelve years old.  Give or take a few months.  It was summer in the early nineties so I was probably wearing an oversized t-shirt and colored shorts of the TLC/Mary J. Blige variety.  My relaxed hair was likely brushed into a ponytail, with a blue bubble clip holding together my thick strands (because blue was my favorite color) and Let's Jam caked around my edges to keep stray hairs from escaping.  I stood at the threshold of the front door of my house, barely making out my mother through the cracks in our red steel security door.  She had a book in her hand, because back then, she was working on getting her bachelor's degree at Queens College.

"Ma, I just want to go to the store for a beef patty and soda.  I'll be right back," I pleaded again.

It was a block and a half away and I could handle it.  I had my eye-rolling-mean-mug down and I knew to save my smiles... for cute boys.  ALL my friends were going and they waited impatiently on the sidewalk in front of my small cape cod styled house, stomachs growling and sneakers tapping.  It would be my first time going with just my friends.  Up until then, my trips to the corner store were spent trailing at the feet of one of my big brothers, likely still holding hands when I crossed the street and suffering the inevitable pat on the head by Muhammed, the store owner, who would also give me a free Swedish fish for being such a good little girl. 
I wasn't a little girl.
I stood tall and waited.  Trying my best to look like the type of girl who went to the store with her friends: relaxed, confident, cool in the face of crackheads (it was NYC in the early 90s)... 
She sighed, opened the door and handed me a five dollar bill.  "Come right back," she warned.
"I will."
I could barely contain my excitement.  If life were a musical, I would have performed a fifteen minute number on the significance of that five dollar bill in my hand, dancing from stoop to stoop, doing the wop in my neighbor's grass and finishing it off with the Hammer dance up and down my block.  It was crunchy and valued with possibilities.  I would spend it.  I would get the change.  I would say thank you, and I would be above a pat on the head.
"And bring me back eggs," she added. 
I nodded. 
I could feel my mother's eyes on me as we made our way up the block.  I looked back one more time before rounding the corner, my little red house was small in the distance but still close enough to run to if I got scared. My heart sped up a bit as we moved out of her sight.  I was nervous, but I needed to be ready.  I looked over at my friend, Toya who was yapping about a cute boy who lived nearby.  I took a breath rounded the corner and looked straight ahead.   

We made it to the store, still chatting as we picked our items.  I walked to the counter with my head high like a grown up.  I handed Muhammed my eggs and asked for a beef patty with coco bread, trying to hide the recognition from my face and look nothing like the little girl he thought he knew.
"Where are your brothers?" His voice was rich with a heavy Pakistani accent.
I shrugged.  I had my own fancy life now.  I didn't keep track of those guys.
He smirked and handed me my change. "Say hi to your mother."
I nodded. My friends laughed.  My mother was pretty.  Men were always using me to say hi to my mother.
We walked out giggling, chomping on Now and Laters and chugging down quarter-waters, parched from the summer sun.
"Oh my Gawd." My friend, Cherise stopped in her tracks.
I looked up, my heart pounding, mentally preparing myself for all the worst case scenarios my big brothers had warned me about and ready to run screaming back home... if necessary.
"Is that Shabba Ranks?" she barely managed.

In a black t-shirt, pressed dress pants, Gumby with a side part and face coated in vasoline (or sweat) was SHABBA Ranks, the reggae crooner who soundtracked my twelve-year old life.  He sat on the porch of the house beside the store with his feet up as if he had been there all along.
We screamed.  We wailed.  We jumped up and down like we had won something and bolted to where he sat.  Now understand, this was at the height of his career.  He was singing songs with Johnny Gill, being spoofed by the Wayans.  Sitting on a porch in Queens was the last place we expected him. 
Either way, we stood at the gate to the house and professed our love, ripping pieces of our paper bags off and giving them to him for autographs.  He laughed and walked to the gate, signing each one and mumbling things none of us understood.  It didn't matter.  He signed my autograph, "Mr. Loverman" and called me a "Lovergirl" which in retrospect was probably inappropriate but at the time, it was EVERYTHING.

We floated back home, holding our autographs and retelling the story to each other again and again, deeming it, hands down, the best day of the summer.  I held my autograph tight to my chest and smiled, taking one last look towards where he sat feeling all my previous fear dissolving into the air around me.  I remember thinking, if my first trip off my block could hold that much excitement, imagine what other adventures the future would hold.  I just needed to remind myself to be brave.
Sometimes risks bring rewards even bigger than you can imagine.
Like Shabba Ranks on a porch in Queens.

I get inspiration wherever I can find it, folks.

Love and Light,

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Yellow Belt will be released January 29th!

Yellow Belt is the second story in a four-part series of short stories following a young college girl as she braves the zombie apocalypse. 

For those of you who did not get to read White Belt, the first story in the series, it will be FREE January 26-28th in celebration of the release.  You can also purchase White Belt HERE for only .99 on Amazon now!

Love and Light,

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Do a dance! It's a new year!
I hope everyone had a happy and healthy evening. I am moving forward fearlessly into 2014.  I'll be 33 this year, which is a pretty respectable age.  I've learned some thangs.  Did some thangs. Felt some thangs.  I'm somebody's momma (two somebody's). Somebody's wife (one somebody).  I am decidely and proudly (and finally) wearing my definition as a writer. I feel well-prepared for the things I've been working for.  My arms are wide; my heart is open; and I am ready to receive... in all aspects of my life. 

Besides, '14 is a lucky number, right?

Below is a clip from one of my favorite old movies, Black Orpheus.  I've been chasing a party like this since I was in college... Dance with me :-)

Love and Light,
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