Monday, December 31, 2007

Reach Out

OK. Wasn't Yolanda Adams and choir majorly FIERCE singing Reach Out And Touch the other day? Oh. My. God. This is my new morning inspiration song and video.

I'm not making any resolutions, per se, for the new year because I generally try to make changes and do things without making public declarations to other people.

All I hope is that through my work and writing I am able to reach out and touch some lives. Make a difference. Be a friend. Someone told me I need to smile more, not look so serious. Maybe that's something I'll work on. So if you see me... you know the drill.

And I hope to continue finding inspiration from the people around me. 2007 was great. No complaints. Hope your new year is great. And if it starts out not the way you want, you've got Happy Lunar New Year in February 2008 to start again.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Some More Linking Around

Ate sushi last night. Crave. In Dearborn. I'm a happy camper. Saw one of Detroit TVs favorites, Rhonda Walker, there in between newscasts. I guess it's a cool spot.

Found some cool new sites I'm going to have to link to eventually. But check them out now and see if they're keepers for you:

Black Woman Writing (inspiration and contest for writers)
The Excitable Bore (fun observations on life)
The Urban Muse (writing inspiration)
Soul of a Man(ok, I've known about this one for a while, but I just love catching up on the funness of The Blacks)
Loving the Liberry (from a librarian... all the crazy things that happen in a library)

And just a couple more faves: Chudney Ross and Post a Secret.

Can't believe vacation is almost over and I'll be back in L.A on Friday night. Got some book stuff on Saturday/Sunday in San Diego. Got some plans for New Year's Eve in L.A.

2008 is next week! Crazy!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Thank You! And Happy Holidays!

I send you all my sincerest thanks and best wishes for a wonderful Christmas, New Year, and holiday season.

I'm looking forward to more good times with you here online, in L.A., or in a city/event near you.

All my best,

Detroit's News Divos.

Isn't Mr. Brandon a cutie? Love watching him do the news here in Detroit while I'm visiting.

Mr. Kori is nice too. So is Mr. Andrew doing weather.

And Mr. Charles, who I grew up with, is nice too.

I think a broadcast journalist would be a fine character to add to one of my projects. Just gotta figure a way to figure one in.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Jimmy Lee... Where Can You Be?

Reminiscing with some friends in Detroit today.

Somehow one of our old school crushes came up, someone who was in a couple grades higher than us. His name is Ronald. He was one of the preps (in Detroit, it was all about the preps -- rich, smart, and preppy -- and the jits -- the complete opposite).

You may not know him. But if you ever saw Aretha Franklin's video for Jimmy Lee (at 46 seconds is his first appearance in the video, since he was playing Jimmy Lee), you'd sing like Aretha sang, "Lord, he was so fine."

We all thought it. Women. Men. Undecideds. We were all fans.

Where is he now?

What You Been Up To?

First of all, a lot of changes coming in the blogosphere the next few days. Bookmark my site: so that you can always find me. I'll still be around.

Been in Michigan the past few days. The earliest I've ever come home for the holiday season. Keep forgetting that Michigan is a swing state. So the tv ads for the various candidates are everywhere. It's kinda cool, because in California, L.A. in particular, which is straight up blue state, and probably leaning toward the former first lady, we don't get to see any ads or much commentary.

Been enjoying reading Nathan McCall's Them. If you're in a book club, this book could be ripe for discussion. Lots of likeable and unlikeable characteristics in the characters, tons of issues like ethnicity and class, even a little bit of dysfunctional romance.

Been doing some writing. It's hard, because the holidays are my down time -- no students, no work -- but for the family, it's their prime time to see me. So I'm up at the oddest times squeezing in a few pages here and there. I'm three months late on a manuscript that I'm hoping to turn in by end of January. Wish me luck.

Been enjoying the feedback and thoughts from those of you who've picked up Right Side of the Wrong Bed. I can't wait to join your group discussions. There's a LOT we can discuss!

Hope it's a good one for you.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Travel Companionship

So I know a lot of you will be at the airport, train station, or bus depot (do people Greyhound anymore???) as you make your way to travel destinations.

If you're like me, you kinda get sick of your music collection (as fabulous as it is!!!) every now and then.

So why not catch up on some downloadable travel companionship for your iPods/mp3s this weekend...

A few of my favorites:
NPR Books podcast

Daytime Confidential podcast -- for all you daytime drama fans. Check out their website here.

On that note, they've also compiled a "What Was Worst on Young and Restless 2007" list. The show sucked all year with the new headwriter and producer crew. I could check off everything on that list. Bring back the CLASSIC Young and Restless that was the leader for a reason!

OK. Back to podcasts...

One of the first podcasts I discovered when I got an iPod was Feast of Fools. A good mix of information and comedy.

And for those of you who haven't met me, you can "meet" me through an interview I did with the FOF crew a few weeks ago. Coming Together. Leave some comments... link to your site... say hi! :-)

So, what other podcasts would you recommend for our travel listening pleasure? Um, does Michael Baisden have a podcast for his show? I try to listen on radio when I can... but I'm usually in meetings or working to catch everyday.

Happy and safe travels. I'll be checking in from time to time. Still gotta shop. And still gotta get cracking on the novel manuscript that was due like September 30. Yeah, I got work to do this holiday season!

Give The Gift of An Amazon Review!

Oh, while you're at it... leave a gift of an review (or your other favorite online sites) of your favorite authors' books.

Of course 5's and aboves are extremely nice. But any kind or constructive reviews (how it resonated with you, your favorite parts, what it made you think about, how it's different or similar to the authors other works) will help other readers...

And the authors appreciate it too! I just did some for Eric Jerome Dickey, Johnny Diaz, and a few other new favorites.

Your turn.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

And I Believe You Will Do So

This Year You Write Your Novel is a part how-to, part motivational book by Walter Mosley.

And at around 100 pages, it's short enough to get you some information you need and won't distract you from the time needed for that novel or story within.

A couple other resources I just picked up today... because I'm always picking up resources: the February 2008 issue of Writer's Digest with a great series of stories on writing novels; The Writer Magazine, called The Writer's Guide to Fiction.

So are you starting now? Or waiting until New Year's resolution season in January?

Good luck!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Busboys and Poets

Did my first visit to Busboys and Poets in DC yesterday.

Loved it. But then I knew I would, since reading about the space on Tayari Jones blog from her DC days. (And Tayari, lots of people know you here...)

Now, if we could get one of these in L.A... with the same vibe, menu, and staff (mmmph, don't wanna embarrass the guy who waited my table, but dang!!! how u doing? thanks for the chocolate cake suggestion!) I'd be a happier camper.

OK. Time to pack and roll out of DC for the Detroit flight. It's cold!

What Readers Want. What Publishers Want.

What Readers Want.
The other day I spent time doing signings at Urban Knowledge Bookstores in the Baltimore area. Fun times.

I learned a lot. One, many readers are spontaneous buyers... especially women readers. I encountered many who buy books to take a chance on finding a new favorite author. And many who want to actively support black arts/artists. Very cool.

Talked with Mondell and Stephanie of the Urban Knowledge stores, and they say readers want sex, violence, twists and turns, a punched up storyline. What readers don't want, they say, are elaborate language, literary awards, slow stories. They say readers will buy books based on their (bookstore staff) recommendations. And readers want their favorites to produce new books quickly.

It was very insightful those conversations. As readers, what do you want?

What Publishers Want. Maybe Readers Too?
Thought about this when reading Tess Gerritsen's blog entry, Don't Fall Off The Trail, where she talks about the pressure many authors are feeling to write quickly, write quality, and move units. BUT... instead of the traditional one book a year, or a book written every other year, some are feeling the pressure to finish TWO books a year or more.


Monday, December 17, 2007

D.C. Diaries

Dear Diary,
Why do I always meet the coolest guys when I'm out of town. The kind that make me wish I lived HERE instead of THERE? Mmmmph. All I gotta say is 'Trell and I melt.

But all kidding aside, the guys over at Brave Soul Collective have a very good discussion group going. Monte and company are doing their thing. Enjoyed meeting all the guys and participating in their monthly discussion. Met a cool guy, Emeka, another L.A. boy and we connected. David, Sean, Reggie (my most faithful reader/fan) all came out.

But the after-set, over at The RnR Bar, sealed the night. Now I know why they call D.C. Chocolate City, and I was in a candy coma. And not to mention that I'm LOVING Janet's new single, Feedback. That's hot. And 'Trell, wherever you left to go work hard for the money... (Let me do my soap opera eye mist/cry and stare out the window). Yum.

Tonight, heading over to Damien Ministries at 7 pm. Doing a book reading, signing, etc... there. Thanks Rashid for the invite and the fabulous lunch on Sunday. Love talking shop with him. You should buy his books.

All the best,

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Smoking. And the Mason/Dixon Dynamics.

Oh. My. God. Becky.
Look at her (cigarette) butt. It. Is. So. Big.
It's like one of those (NASCAR fans) girlfriends.
You. Know.
It. Is. Just. So. Big. And. (Smelly).

OK. So why didn't anyone warn me that people smoke in clubs/bars in Baltimore? Um. Gross. I totally would have worn NASCAR flannel and 1994 Levis out last night. Or something like that. Something that could be thrown away. Because last night I got hit with a wall and funk of cigarette smoke that was like Johnny Cash's ring of fire.

Come on people. Didn't you get the memo? Smoking is bad. Subjecting others to smoke is bad. And not to mention what your clothes smell like when you leave. Ewwww. And not to mention that the service workers/bar staff who may or may not smoke get subjected to second-hand smoke whether they want to be exposed or not.

I feel like I picked up the beginnings of lung cancer last night. For real. This morning I coughed up... let's just leave it at last night's smoke.

OK. So the Mason/Dixon Dynamic.

I often tell friends that I can go weeks without interacting with someone who is white in L.A. So, when I get to a place, like say Baltimore where I am now, or Detroit, or anywhere else where the dynamic is white majority/people of color minority, it's weird. That's because L.A. is people of color majority. And even though even though my own ethnicity isn't the majority of that people of color dynamic, you feel a sort of collective bond with the whole POC thing.

Anyway, breakfast this morning. Middle age white woman is talking down... I mean talking DOWN to a black woman who is staffing the breakfast area. "I don't care that you close at 10 am, I want skim milk NOW." She's going on in a hissy-fit for a few minutes. I'm behind her in line.

I just go, "Is that really necessary?" The black staff members kinda grinned. I (we) know they wanted to go off, but they know their place... and their paycheck. So she rolled eyes and left without her skim milk. I don't know if I embarrassed her, or if she realized that her hissy-fit wasn't necessary, or if she realized that she was late, that she could read, and that she can follow the directive of the sign that says "We close down at 10 am."

I hate it when I see white people talking down to people of color service staff. But I hate it even more when I see people of color doing the SAME to people of color service staff. Maybe it's more a class thing than an ethnicity thing.

Because I think... that is someone's grandmother, mother, dad, aunt, uncle you're talking to. A generation ago (heck, this month) that was/is your own grandmother, mother, aunt, uncle. One of my grandmothers worked in someone's home AND worked in a store. And she wasn't working for other black people. So I always think of that when I interact with a service staff person. They have feeling and self-esteem and a life too that doesn't revolve around your skim milk or attitude.

There's never a need to talk down to people because you THINK you're somebody. There are no better than's or worse than's in my book. But that's just me. How I was raised.

I forgot about the whole color dynamic in places that are white majority/people of color minority. My sister, who travels a lot, and I talk about this a lot. Especially when we go to the South, where it seems that people are taught to "know their place." And they fall in line. I know there is a line, but I don't fall in it. Maybe L.A. has skewed my vision of how the rest of the country operates... though, if you go west of LaCienega or near the 405, you can often get the same dynamic of the South.

I'm rambling. I've had two cups of coffee and worked out already. But my mind's running a million miles a minute.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Too Good To Be True

Flawless. Like that delicious looking dish over there.

No traffic to LAX. Got dropped off at curbide check in. No one in line. Breezed through security. Got an aisle seat.

No crying babies. No chatterboxes in my row or in front of me. Slept all the way across from L.A. to D.C.

Rental car and hotel all set up perfectly... and you know how we always worry about that card working. lol.

Too good to be true. Um yeah.

Just watched the local forecast. They're expecting a Nor'easter here. For you L.A. folks, that is the equivalent of a snow hurricane. I think. That's my L.A. definition of it.

Do I own boots. Gloves. A hooded coat.

Um no.

But gonna make the best of it anyway, especially as I drive from B'more to D.C. tomorrow night after my B'more work is done. That should be the height of the storm.

Gotta have something high drama like the weather to talk about on Sunday morning. Won't stop me from being a tourist though. Fun being the new face in town. ;-)

Have a good one!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Computer Recommendations. Clearing Up D.C. Visit.

So I've decided that buying a new computer is cheaper than getting one I own fixed. Or am I just a consumerist who just wants a new computer.

I'm open to all brands, types, etc... What would you recommend? What do you use? I'm not looking to break the bank, but I do want the bells and whistles for music and media. Taking recommendations now.

Next, I'm going to D.C. and Baltimore this weekend. The Lambda D.C. Bookstore event is not happening anymore-- please delete from your planners.

But I am doing the following events and hope to see you there!

Saturday, December 15, 2007, 4 - 6 pm
Urban Knowledge Bookstore
7879 Eastpoint Mall
Baltimore, MD 21224
(410) 282-2286

Saturday, December 15, 2007, 7 - 9 pm
Urban Knowledge Bookstore, Mondawmin Mall
2301 Liberty Heights Ave, #2001
Baltimore, MD 21217
(410) 523-0017

Monday, December 17, 2007, 7 pm
Damien Ministries
2200 Rhode Island Avenue, NE
Washington, DC 20018
RSVP at (202) 526-3020, extension 10

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

An Author's Holiday Wish List. Part 2.

So this was inspired by my friend and fellow writer, Sofia Quintero aka Black Artemis, who wrote a wonderful column by the same name on her blog: An Author's Holiday Wish List. Go visit her blog... then come back to me. lol.

I agree with all her suggestions, including, among them: 1) Buy Our Books; 2) Buy Our Books For Someone Else; 3) Write A Review; 4) Don't Loan Out Your Books. There are others in her column, and reasons why they are important, so do check her out.

Additionally, I got to thinking about some more Author Holiday Wish List Items. These are less "customer focused" and more "friends of writers focused" because at times we want to tell our friends these things, but don't always have the heart. It's all in fun... but still. :-)

1. Just because I'm working at home doesn't mean I'm enjoying a day off. So before asking us to run your errands, wait for the cable person at your house, watch your dog... ask if we're writing that day or if we can help you out. We're generous, but also need to stay focused due to deadlines -- self-imposed or publisher-imposed. On that note, try not to call us if you know we're on a writing/working schedule.

1a. Just because you happen to see us pop up on Instant Message, it's not that we're wanting to chat... and definitely not right away. We might just be checking for an email from the editor, newspaper, etc... One of my pet peeves is IM Pouncers... who message me the MOMENT I get online. At least give me a couple minutes to get settled. lol.

2. Just because we're writing doesn't mean we don't want to be invited to a night out. It doesn't mean we'll go. But the invitation can go something like this, "I want to respect your writing time, but I'd really like you to hang out with us on a Friday night. Maybe you can set aside one Friday night writing session this month for the group?" That would show your writer friends you respect their need to be at home some weekends, but that you still want them part of the group.

3. If you ask us to read some of your work, please understand if we have to say no... or if we say yes, don't breathe down our necks every other day for our feedback. Yes, we might have agreed to read your work... but we still have work and a life too. Asking for feedback on a 250 page project in a week is a bit much. And in the age of legal repercussions, we don't want to get sued because you think we borrowed your idea. That's mostly why we have to say no... even though as friends we trust you.

4. We know you think we're rich when we get published, but we're not. Most of us are working day jobs... or have to do speeches at universities and groups to make ends meet. So... don't ask us for free copies of our books. I mean, we're generous and all. But our free copies are generally for us to give to reporters, bookstore staff, reviewers, etc... who have the potential to speak to the masses about our books. So when we... let me speak for myself... when I see you spend $250 on a pair of boots, $20 on coffee a day, $80 on a night out at the club... and you don't want to spend $15 on my book... It speaks volumes about your priorities and support for a friend. Buying the book keeps us in business. Like I always tell my students when they are nonchalant or say "I don't know"-- can you pretend like you care?

4a. If you like our books, buying them tells the publisher they should support and find additional writers who write our kind of books. Especially true for niche genres, for example LGBT of color lit. There aren't too many black, gay men's stories being picked up by major publishers. Buying the books will alert publishers there is a paying market out there, and that they should be seeking more of our work. We shouldn't be a self-published genre forever.

5. Books are just as important as movies. Books are just as important as CDs. We know how anxious you are for Friday's new movie. We know you're waiting for new music Tuesday. Can you show the same excitement when we release a book? Can you send 10 text messages to your friends about our releases? Can you email your list about our books? We'd appreciate it. We'd appreciate it even more if we didn't have to ask.

6. Oh, and it's generally because of books... or studying books... that most of us have attained the level of success we have today. Reading is fundamental. Reading is fun. Reading kept most of us fantasizing about life beyond our own, when the neighborhood bully kept teasing us for whatever reason. We knew we'd show him/her by being smart and becoming more successful than they would ever be.

7. Whether we're published or not... check in with us, ask how our projects are coming along, if there's something you can do for us... maybe offer to read a passage to see if it makes sense, offer some paper for printing, bring us some coffee or tea or other treats.

8 - 100. Other suggestions for the Author's Holiday Wish List?

Of course this is all in fun... but just getting the gist of some of these would help us in our writing process and career. Thank you!

Now, back to whatever you're doing!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Have You Gone Bold and Beautiful Yet?

By far, the best daytime drama now is The Bold and The Beautiful. Great cast. Balanced use of veterans and new folks. Grabbed up all the talented staff let go by the new Y&R regime.

And it's done in that classic soap style -- with a little camp and telenovela action -- that you come to know and love about soaps. The ones you watched with your grandma.

Over holiday break, give it a try. It's just a half-hour and with Betty White (Rose, Golden Girls) coming back to the cast over the holidays... you have some great daytime drama. There's a great "Who shot Stephanie?" story happening now.

Meantime, across the hall at CBS Los Angeles, Young and Restless... I try. I tried today. It was ok. Not the classic, high quality show I grew up watching. Glad to see Jack, Neil Sharon, and Nikki still around. Um. Don't recognize or care about all the newbie characters. Maybe if Gloria and the Baldwins get what they deserve...

But you gotta love this column that ran in TV Guide Canada, The Best of Soaps 2007. And in particular the quote the writer said about fan-fave Victoria Rowell's heroism for leaving the show...

The article gives the Hero Award to Victoria Rowell (ex-Drucilla), "For being the first person to see what Lynn Marie Latham was capable of and was destroying — and wanting no part of it. The bravest soap star that has ever lived. Bar none, you’re missed. Heck — I will apologize, if no one else will — you deserved better."

That about sums it up, in my opinion.

Longing for the good old days of Y&R. Heck, even the good old three-years-ago.

My Time-Consuming Addiction

First, the RAWSISTAZ Reviewers did a cool review of RIGHT SIDE. Thanks Miss Cashana from Birmingham, Alabama!

Second, my publisher ran an ad/contest for RIGHT SIDE last month. And I want to publicly congratulate the following who got some cool freebies from that contest: Debby G from Connecticut; Keith E from New Mexico; Linda S from Pittsburgh; Chelsea P from Calgary; and LuAnn M from Washington state.

OK. The time-consuming addiction. Google and Amazon. Love the sites. But they're the worst enemy of a writer whose project has just been released. Even one whose project is several years old. In trying to curb my addiction to Googling myself, or checking Amazon for comments, I'm keeping a little notepad by my laptop where I mark how many times I think about searching myself... and how many times I actually do.

Why? Part is ego, but more self ego than obnoxious or outward ego personality. It's wanting to see if anything new on myself has popped up. I have found myself on the most interesting and surprising places... which is actually kinda cool. Part is also wanting to gage the interest level in you and your work.

Now, I'm not one of these folks whose life rises and falls based on alleged popularity. I'm a loner. I don't run with large crowds. I go to lots of events where I think it's funny when other "public people" do the whole "public people" thing. I've never sought out to be in the in crowd. It's so not me. But I know it's a necessary part of the writing job... or any job that requires the public to keep you employed.

But I do like to Google, Technoriati, and Amazon myself. Weird. Yeah, I know.

That's part of the reason some authors suggest keeping two computers if you can. One that is Internet ready. One that has no active Internet service.

Or setting up specific times each day to do your Internet searches, so that you don't waste time.

From one of my favorite blogs, A Newbie's Guide to Publishing, Top 10 Signs You're Online Too Much and Writing On Speed, which is actually some practical tips for working hard and fast on your next writing project.

OK. Heading to the post office. Happy Monday!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Other Women in Fiction

One of the most hilarious short stories I ever read is by Lorrie Moore ("How To Be An Other Woman") in her short story collection called Self Help.

Actually, read it a long time ago but felt the need and urge to read it again. Another story of note in this collection is "How To Become A Writer." Just so dang funny... sarcastic... biting humor, much in the style of The Office, which is one of my TV faves. Check out this interview on

Of course, if subject circa "Other Woman" are your thing... you've gotta read The Other Woman by Eric Jerome Dickey. It's been out a few years now, but it's one that I like to read again every now and then. Especially that list of questions... Gotta read the book to know what I'm talking about. That list has come in handy when trying to clarify a few things in some of my relationships.

What are some "other women" in fiction you have come to enjoy reading?

Enjoy the day!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

For "The Fam" In Uniforms

We all know "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" has been deemed ineffective by many, and may be out the door depending on who the next president is.

Anywho, a couple of things you may want to add to the holiday stocking of someone wanting to learn more about LGBT folks in uniform, or who are actually LGBT folks serving our country or local communities.

Coming Out Under Fire, a documentary that shoots to the heart of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, and explores the World War II origins of military regulations that labeled gays and lesbians as mentally ill and sex perverts. Directed by Arthur Dong.

A Private Affair, a novel by Mike Warren, follows the life of Sean, a private in the military, who carries on a number of steamy affairs with women and men while in service, as he figures out his own sexual orientation issues.

Sounds hot. But I've been known to be a sucker for a uniform. Yum. So is my good buddy, Real California Chica. We used to have fun touring the bases down in San Diego while doing writing research. :-)

Friday, December 07, 2007

Dirty Laundry. The Movie.

I've written about the film Dirty Laundry when it was making its rounds through the film festival circuit.

Now, I'm writing again to tell you that you've got to go see Dirty Laundry when it releases in theatres nationally on December 7 (NYC and L.A.) and then December 28 (everywhere else). In L.A., it plays in the theatre at The Beverly Center.

As a fellow creative type, I can't emphasize enough how important it is to support a project like Dirty Laundry during the first weekend and week... in a theatre. Those numbers, whether it's a film or a book, send a message to the powers-that-be that there is a paying audience for our types of projects.

Fun(ny). Poignant. Touching. Looking at how families deal with each other's secrets when they get together.

Stars Loretta Devine. Rockmond Dunbar. Jenifer Lewis. And Maurice Jamal, who also serves as writer and director.

Check out a trailer of the film here. Then take all your family to go see it this holiday season!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Picture Me Rollin'

Another novel that may have slipped by you... but would make a great holiday present.

Picture Me Rollin by Black Artemis follows a female ex-con, influenced by the music and life of Tupac Shakur, who's trying to stay clean on the outside, while her ex-boyfriend for whom she took the rap tries to suck her back in to the life she wants to leave behind.

I'm sure some of us know or mentor someone going through this situation. So this is definitely a book that can both entertain and build understanding.

Black Artemis is a hip-hop activist, writer, and speaker in New York City. She holds a master's degree from Columbia University and has worked with many social justice organizations throughout the country. Artemis is also a screenwriter who has won recognition for her work. She lives in the Bronx, where she was born and raised, and enjoys working with youths to find their voice through art and politics.

For the next few days, Black Artemis a.k.a. Sofia Quintero, and some of her Chica Lit colleagues are doing a special series of articles called 12 Days of Chica Lit, highlighting some of the best of the Chica Lit genre. Should be very fun!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Raising Fences: A Black Man's Love Story

In keeping with the theme of books as holiday gifts, here's a couple books I recommended from a column I did earlier this year... Michael and Jenoyne are great L.S. based writers. Enjoy!

I'm pretty lucky to have had a father, my birth father, in the home and active in my growing up years and with our family. And for as long as I did, through my adult years.

Lucky. And rare.

At least, that's what I hear from many of my students, who this week got to experience the literary world of Michael Datcher, author of Raising Fences: A Black Man's Love Story, and Jenoyne Adams, author of the novels Resurrecting Mingus and Selah's Bed. Michael and Jenoyne, by the way, are a husband and wife literary duo.

But back to the whole father thing. Michael's book, a memoir, explores his growing-up years in inner-city Los Angeles and how fatherlessness was the one thing he had in common with his neighborhood friends. And amidst the unspoken words of their single moms -- that men are not to be trusted -- Michael, and many of his friends still had what he calls "picket-fence" dreams.

It's been a couple days since Michael Datcher and Jenoyne Adams shared their work with the students. And since that time, many of them stopped by my office to say "how cool" it was to attend an event like that -- a book reading and signing, their first. Many also shared how the event moved them, stirred up memories of their growing up years, and made them think about how their own fatherlessness as children affected them -- even to this day.

Amazing how books can do that.

Wait, I Said That?

So I think I said something kinda intelligent in an interview I did with the folks at the Brave Soul Collective this week. I'm sure it's been said in some form or another by other folks at other times. Still, I'm amazed.

"This (my writing) is important to me because often times, we're asked to leave our sexual orientation at the door with our black and latino communities, or we're asked to leave our ethnicity at the door with the larger gay community. My writing characters who are proud of their ethnicity and being gay is part of that effort to tell young gay people of color you can be all who you are without being ashamed or leaving parts of you at the entrance door."

Check out the rest of the interview here.

So, something like that is what I would say to some of the folks responding to my interview with the Feast of Fools Gay Fun Show earlier this week, who are criticizing black and latino people for throwing their own pride events, or who are accused of segregating themselves.

It is exactly the history of racism in the U.S. that prompted groups to decide to include and celebrate themselves, in a setting where they didn't have to be questioned, or made to feel different or wrong because of their ethnicity or other features. These festivals are about pride and inclusion, which often didn't/doesn't happen in larger mainstream settings.

But... there will always be people who put the burden to end racism on people of color... and that means there will always be opportunities to teach and challenge that way of thinking.

Which is why I do what I do.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Details and Full Circle

So I'm totally on the books for holiday presents kick.

And if you know someone who is into books like mine, then here are a couple you can add to the list of potentials for this holiday season.

Full Circle by Trent Jackson. A continuation of his first novel, At This Moment, where we pick up from that "did he or didn't he" suicide moment. Bought it but haven't read it yet.

Details by Dayne Avery. A sweeping epic of church politics, sexuality, and the U.S. South. Read it before it published. Haven't bought it yet.

But both can go in the stockings of your friends and lovers this holiday season.

Fred Does The Feast of Fools

Hey everyone! Had a blast yesterday being interviewed on the Feast of Fools podcast.

And now, you to can listen to it today... via iTunes or the Feast of Fools website.

Feast of Fools episode, Coming Together.