Wednesday, December 06, 2017

MY SHEER DISGUST




I believe I have reached my limit with the political climate in this country. I have not always agreed with any one political party or politician. I’ve always believed those best qualified to serve the people, who respect the constitution and honor the basic principles of right and wrong should serve with our full support. But they should also be questioned, challenged, and made to defend their position if it goes against the grain of basic human decency.
Since the Presidential election we have watched the GOP ceremoniously rip this country to shreds. Their motivations have been about party and privilege. They’ve been selfish, self-indulgent and the results for some will be catastrophic. They have continually shown the American people that they just don’t give a damn about the impoverished or the middle class, minorities and immigrants and simply being forthright and decent is out of the realm of their abilities.
What galls me most is how so many of our Republican law makers grandstand on a platform of conservative morality when they show us daily that they truly have no morals. There is no code of right and wrong if it goes against the will of the party and the will of the party is now being dictated by a racist, homophobic demagogue who barely has command of the English language, hates women and has made us the laughing stock of the international community. It’s even more telling that so many Democrats have stood idly by and have said or done absolutely nothing.
Pandering to the whims of our current president has become a new art form. The ass-kissing was one thing, but we have too many individuals who routinely lie to defend him. They lie to excuse his actions. They condone his bad behavior and lie as they rationalize why. Integrity has been forsaken in his name and many have besmirched their reputations to have him pat them on the back. I often wonder, when the ink dries on his tenure, if the likes of Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, or Sarah Huckabee will be able to look their grandchildren in the eye and proudly defend the stances they took?
The Obama presidency was unprecedented. A black man, loved by many and respected by most, lifted this country to new heights and that good old boy network has been biting at the bit to dismantle his hard work. From day one they vowed to undermine him, wanting him to fail. When he excelled, they lost their collective minds. For the current regime, undoing President Obama’s work has become more important than representing their constituents and the needs of the American people. When healthcare becomes a thing of the past, available only to the wealthy, they will feel successful. When we are no longer the land of the free, but the land of the oppressed and downtrodden, they will celebrate their success. They will have a wall to commemorate their hard work. Bricks and mortar to keep out people of color will be their greatest legacy. You can see the writing on the wall with every bill that’s been signed since the elections and every policy change that is held up for consideration.
Under the new guard, white supremacy is no longer hiding in its mother’s basement. Racists and bigots have taken off their hoods and walk the halls of the White House dictating and influencing policy. They recline in their senate seats and wait for the Grand Wizard to nod in their directions, waving his magic wand over the next poor soul they can inflict pain and heartache upon. It’s tragic, and it’s infuriating.
Now, we are supposed to sit idly by and commend the GOP as they condone the most wretched acts that can be committed against a woman or child. It began with the normalization of sexual battery, the president-elect gleefully boasting about physically molesting women. His taped confession was dismissed as locker room banter and boys being boys. Now, they are supporting an alleged pedophile and child-molester. A man accused of preying on teenage girls for his own perverse pleasure. If this is their Republican morality, then every one of them who defends, ignores and accepts this behavior deserves to go straight to hell. Do not pass go. Do not collect a damn thing. Just go right to hell! People have become commodities, their value reduced to a bottom line for private interests. Biblical tenets have been corrupted and flagrant disregard for the welfare of others is suddenly habitual.
I keep waiting for one Republican to challenge the status quo, to castigate the bad behavior which has become as prevalent as breathing. Just one man or woman with a set of brass balls willing to do what is fundamentally right. I had high hopes for Senator John McCain out of Arizona. Earlier this year, when he cast a decisive vote that effectively torpedoed efforts to repeal the health care law, his efforts spoke volumes. He wouldn’t support what was rushed to the table and had not been thoroughly vetted and debated. He stood up for what was best for the American public. His recent support of tax reform legislation that will probably do more harm than good, a 500-plus page tome with handwritten interjections slid in at the last hour, says he too may now have been swayed by the Kool-Aid, his balls more putty than brass. I couldn’t help but wonder what concessions he has been promised in return for his yes on a bill rushed to the table without being vetted or debated.
The few who have made any genuine effort to do what is right are quickly maligned or discredited. Or worse, they speak the truth as they’re walking out the door. Frustrated by the sheer absurdity of the situation we find ourselves in, they are no longer interested in staying in the fight.
Meghan McCain, the daughter of Senator John McCain and a co-host on The View regularly defends the president’s conservative base, touting her understanding of Red America and the mindset that supports this Republican agenda. There is righteous indignation when she rails against liberals for perpetrating so-called fake news and their media bias. She has said that we don’t understand her people. I’m not sure that the flagrant attacks against people of color, the disrespect for those who are not blonde and blue-eyed, the habitual lying, the whitewashing of history and the gravity of tweeting insults at people when one is called out on their bullshit really needs any explanation. Wrong is wrong no matter how you might want to paint it.
The people of Alabama have quite a dilemma on their hands. It’s been said that most don’t believe the media reports of candidate Roy Moore’s alleged sexual assault allegations. Conspiracy theories about Democratic intrusion, and media hijinks abound. His supporters have called his alleged victims liars. intent on taking a good man down. But putting all of that aside, Moore’s record speaks volumes without the added finger-pointing. He has consistently preached from the Bible of Steve Bannon, proclaiming his Christian-values justification for his homophobic, racist, misogynistic beliefs and attitude. The Christ I know would not have been pleased. The deity I pray to, whose words I follow, proclaim love for all, not hate for some. Moore, like his presidential mentor, is banking on that Republican base turning a blind eye because they believe the party should always come before the country. How they vote, could potential shred any fibers of dignity the United States have left.
I pray that people come out in droves to support Doug Jones. For those in Alabama who don’t, good luck explaining to your daughters and granddaughters that sacrificing their virtue was just a hazard of our political process. That in the scheme of things, they really don’t matter. That sending a politician who’s been accused of violating little girls to the United States Senate, like they sent one to the White House, is far more important than justice for any alleged victim. That disregarding the morality in their moral code is perfectly fine when it suits their personal agendas.
My sheer disgust with it all has become exhausting.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

ARCH - A ONE LOVE SHORT STORY



Award-winning songstress, Archer Hall Santana feels like her life is imploding around her. Her high-profile marriage is ending, her career is on a crash and burn, and an unlikely betrayal proves there is no one in her corner. Archer is weary of pretending all is well when everything feels broken. Unable to bear any more heartache she is ready to put an end to it all and suffer the consequences of her actions.


But life deals her a second chance when renowned filmmaker, Sinclair Cooper agrees to tell her story, promising to detail every dirty truth that had been previously hidden from the world. Sinclair isn’t known for holding back and going the extra yard to unearth Archer’s dirt proves to be enlightening and forces him to revisit his own ghosts. He can’t explain his attraction to the young woman whose lifestyle is completely at odds with his own. But everything about Archer suddenly has him vying to be her happily ever after.

Get your copy of Arch now!
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Saturday, November 25, 2017

THE BEST MEDICINE




I’ve been slightly out of sync for months now. But not out of sync in a bad way. Necessity had me redefining my needs, re-evaluating my wants and re-shifting my focus. Relationships were transformed, redefined and a few had to be abandoned. The path to clarity was met with some confusion and a little conflict. Some, who were unhappy with my choices, spoke badly of me behind my back, thinking I would never hear their version of my truth. What was most hurtful were the outright lies spoken by another, a need for attention usurping what was right for everything that was wrong. Those outside the situations continue to wait with bated breath for me to share, desperate for a hint of tea to be spilled. I hope they aren’t holding their collective breaths for that to ever happen. Those who know me, know I don’t operate that way.
I was off balance and feeling on edge for a minute or two. Then just like that life shifted me exactly where I needed to be and with that shift came an abundance of understanding. I threw the emotion that came with all that into my writing. My writing has always been the best vessel for me to contain and devolve my feelings. Hurt plays out sweetly when I can kill off a character, or make my hero cry. Betrayal isn’t as glaring when I can pull the knife from my own back and stab the bad guy with it. After spilling blood on forty pages of a new book I felt amazing.
Life throws us lessons when they’re needed the most. I’ve learned that some people on your life journey aren’t destined to travel the path you may decide to take. Your mission may not be their mission. Others don’t deserve to take the trip, no matter how much you might want to drag them along. More importantly, I had to accept that calling someone a friend doesn’t mean they are.
At my age, my tolerance for bullshit has dwindled substantially. Individuals who have mistaken my kindness for meekness should tread lightly. I’m liable to snap when it’s least expected. I just don’t have the time or the patience for being petty, angry, and stupid. Because life is short. Tomorrow isn’t promised, so I choose to focus on making today the best damn day it can possible be, for myself and for others.
I plan to keep writing for as long as I’m able. This literary journey has proven to be the best medicine for everything that has ever ailed me. Writing has healed every smear, cured every denouncement spoken against me and has lifted me to heights I hadn’t ever imagined. This road that I’m traveling has been paved with an abundance of love, the wealth of it overshadowing everything else. My writing successes have been a blessing and I don’t ever take that for granted.
I continue to be consumed by the tales that fuel my spirit, falling in love with characters who bring me joy when I least expect. For me, being able to write, to breathe life into a book is absolutely everything! I am grateful to be so abundantly blessed.
                                                                                                                                                           

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

NOT THE DEADLIEST...



Another senseless tragedy took lives. A man named Stephen Paddock checked into a Las Vegas hotel and from his hotel room, took aim on innocent people attending a concert. At the last reporting, 59 people were killed and more than 500 others were injured. It is being called the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. But that’s not true. Modern America has a lengthy history of mass killings. Blatant murders that far exceed what recently happened in Las Vegas. Only a select few are acknowledged while others are swept under the carpet as if they never happened.
During the East St. Louis Race Riots of 1917 nearly 700 black women, children and men were beaten, injured or shot to death. 700! White mobs set fire to the homes of black residents who were forced to choose between burning alive in their homes or running out to be met with gunfire. Others were lynched against the backdrop of their burning properties.
In 1919, the Arkansas Massacre claimed the lives of 237 African Americans. 237! The use of racial violence to subjugate blacks was common practice during this time. Lynching was a tool to enforce Jim Crow laws and racial segregation. Victimizing people of color was a tactic used by white men to maintain control over a community.
The Tulsa Massacre of 1921 saw an estimated 300 black people murdered. 300! Black Tulsa was looted and burned by white rioters. The Governor at the time, James Brooks Ayers Robertson declared martial law and National Guard troops were sent in to help, imprisoning all black Tulsans. Over 6,000 black men, women and children were held at the Convention Hall for almost eight days. Over 800 people were treated for injuries and 300 died at the hands of vigilantes with 35 city blocks left in charred ruins.
The Rosewood Massacre of 1923 in rural Levy County, Florida took the lives of some 150 people. 150! For years, authorities tried to hide and conceal the number of black people brutally murdered by a mob of several hundred whites who hunted down the black citizens of Rosewood, a self-sufficient black community, as they burned down every standing structure in the small town.
Mass executions of innocent people didn’t just start because the media suddenly deems it so. The killing of hundreds of people isn’t any less deadly because the victims were predominately black. History doesn’t change because people choose to ignore the truth of our past. The senseless taking of all lives then should have been met with the same indignation as now. But it wasn't. And because it wasn't, what happened in Vegas doesn’t come close to being the deadliest mass shooting of modern American history. It’s just the most recent and what all these senseless tragedies have in common is that the crimes were perpetuated by white men. Maybe, if more Americans had been as outraged back then, much of the violence we see today against any people wouldn’t exist.
My heart goes out to the families who must bury loved ones. I pray for those needing healing. I send light and love to all who have been impacted by this tragedy. As a people, all wanting the same things for our loved ones, we really need to come together and just do better.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

AND, SWEET!

I’ve been spending hours plotting out the last books in my Stallion family series. I’m also finishing the edits on the first book in my new ONE LOVE short story series that I’m excited to release soon. There’s been a lot of writing and even more researching. It’s actually been bitter-sweet. Bitter, as I consider the conclusion of the family tale that really kicked off my literary success. Since 2008, four billionaire brothers from Dallas, Texas found love, found family, who found more family, and more love, and now I’m about to age their babies and give them their own stories. I’ve spent the last few years aging the kids slowly with each book, knowing that this day would come. I didn’t want to have them go from toddler to random sexual encounters abruptly. Between now and 2019, there will be four Kimani books total with the last three about those oldest Stallion babies all grown up. And then the Stallions will be done.

And sweet, because ONE LOVE, my newest literary venture is taking me to a writing place I’ve never been before. I’m writing romance without the constraints of publisher guidelines. Telling stories my way and my way doesn’t care much about following any rules. The characters are non-traditional, the story-telling outside the usual box, and each tale brings me an abundance of joy! Sweet, because I’m able to spread my wings and the words are flowing like water from a faucet.

So I’m excited to share with you what’s coming. The visions spinning through my head as I flesh out characters and figure out who’s going to do what and when. The characters are talking, loudly, and I’m writing! Putting image to the voices has just been the start of much fun to come. Life couldn’t get any better.

SINCLAIR COOPER AND ARCHER HALL SANTANA



COLLIN BROOMES STALLION and LONDON JACOBS

GABRIELLE STALLION and ROSS KIRKLAND WHITE

 IRENE STALLION and TY EZELL PARKER







Thursday, July 27, 2017

DEADLY SEXY THE MOVIE


Less than ten minutes into the opening scene of the new Malcolm D. Lee film Girls Trip, starring Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett Smith, Tiffany Haddish, and Queen Latifah,  I knew the movie was going to be a roaring success. A comedy starring four black women who could string whole sentences together, didn’t hate black men, weren’t angry at the world, and had most of their “ish” together caught some by surprise. It definitely captured everyone’s attention. It was a box office success and the numbers don’t lie.

What the movie proved yet again is that seeing multicultural stories brought to life is as important as ever. We are no longer accepting of history continually being whitewashed, or ignored. Seeing one’s self reflected in books, on the big screen and television, in a positive light, is life affirming. Maybe even more so when you consider the racial climate we’re living in today. Most know it. Helping others to see it has become just as important.

Telling our stories, whether in film or literature, has come with a host of challenges. Romance lines featuring multicultural characters written by multicultural authors is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Publishers claim low sales after blatantly reducing distribution channels. It doesn’t take rocket science to know that books can’t be successful if there are no books to sell. Promotional and marketing support is lacking despite the continued growth in readership. And worse, publishers asking their majority authors to write our stories while refusing us the opportunity to share our own voices is just wrong on too many levels to count. We find ourselves between a rock and a hard place with the powers refusing to effect change and the storytellers refusing to allow their uphill momentum to be stalled. Next year we will say goodbye to Harlequin’s Kimani book line and rumors abound about who might be next. But authors aren’t letting that stop us. By any means necessary we continue to persevere.

When others say our books and movies don’t have an audience we are no longer standing idly by and accepting no for an answer. Instead, we’re accepting the challenge to prove the naysayers wrong. But greenlighting our books and our movies, more times than not, requires a collective effort. There are no big budgets for us to draw upon and no benefactors with deep pockets ready to underwrite the expenses. We have to beg on bended knee, tin cup in hand, to raise the funds we sometimes need. Convincing our supporters that we are worthy of their investment has often required many come-to-Jesus moments! 

Iris Bolling, a renowned author and filmmaker, has recently partnered with Beverly Jenkins to bring Ms. Jenkin’s book Deadly Sexy to the big screen. Ms. Bolling has garnered much success with her writing since first publishing in 2008 and most recently produced The Heart, a television series based on her novels. With a successful second season under her belt she continues to branch out and afford others the same opportunities to reach for their dreams.

Beverly Jenkins is a USA Today best-selling author and a prestigious writer of African-American historical romance fiction. She specializes in 19th century African American life and has over thirty published novels to date. She is also the 2017 Romance Writers of America Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. This award is presented to a living author in recognition of significant contributions to the romance genre. To qualify for the award, the recipient's career in romantic fiction must span a minimum of 15 years. Recipients must in some way continue to promote the romance genre, teach romance in fiction, or publish romantic fiction. Beverly Jenkins’s accolades are lengthy, her awards numerous, and her magnanimous contributions to the romance industry and to authors of color has been significantly understated. She is adored by fans, revered by her peers, and yet, acquiring the help needed to see this project to fruition has been one massive mountain to climb. While authors with far fewer accomplishments, and less talent, have had Lifetime Movie contracts dropped into their laps, Ms. Bolling and Ms. Jenkins are having to shake the proverbial tin cup on bended knee.
Iris Bolling and her company, Siri Austin Entertainment, have brilliantly laid out the reasons why contributing to this project is important. To quote the project’s website, The success of the Deadly Sexy project can lead to another author’s book-to-film project, then another and another and another. The avenues of possibility are limitless, when we come together in a collaborative effort to see good stories, told our way, come to life on film.
So this is a come-to-Jesus moment!

The GoFundMe campaign established by Siri Austin Entertainment is running out of time. It was an aggressive campaign to accomplish what some say was an unfathomable goal. But it can still be done because all things are possible with much faith and effort. All donations received by Siri Austin Entertainment will be used towards the production and promotion of Deadly Sexy the movie. Funds will be used to ensure this project is completed from inception to distribution, including but not limited to:

Crew
Cast
Equipment
Studio Space
Locations
Travel and Lodging for cast and crew
Craft services
Editing
Filming Insurance
Filming permits
Let’s fight to make Deadly Sexy a roaring success. Let’s prove the naysayers wrong. One dollar or one-hundred, every single penny will help. Won’t you please consider donating today?



Thursday, July 06, 2017

BETTER THAN GOOD


For one whole month I disconnected myself from my life as I knew it. I ran away. Literally. I cut myself off from social media, ignored friends and some family, and spent serious quality time with me, myself, and I. I crawled into my own private little space and I reflected on the past, settled into the present and reevaluated my goals for the future. When I started I didn't have a clue what I needed or what it was going to take to get me where I needed to be. But I had hope. Taking that leap of faith into the unknown was one of the best decisions I’ve made in a very long time.

I needed to become reacquainted with myself. Life had thrown me some serious punches that felt gut deep and had knocked me to my knees. More times than not I wasn’t sure if I was coming or going. Depression became a real thing. I was keeping those I loved most at an arm’s length. I refused to let people in. I was scared, suddenly questioning my own mental health. I didn’t know myself anymore and I had stopped trusting my instincts. It had been years since I’d been that conflicted.

The first week was the most difficult. I was unable to relax, refusing to let myself unwind. I continued to worry about things I had no control over, fearing everything would eventually blow up in my absence. But then those imagined emergency calls never came. I discovered what it was to sleep for a solid eight hours and wake feeling renewed. I watched the sun rise and started my day with renewed purpose. I spent hours in prayer and reflection and extended periods where I thought about absolutely nothing.

I read, devouring books like I hadn’t been able to do in years. And I wrote. There was no pressure, no distractions, and the words flowed like running water. It was a beautiful thing and I was in awe of how much I had missed the ease of it all.

Before I knew it the month came to an end and suddenly I had to return to other people’s schedules, and deadlines, and the stress and pressures that sent me into hibernation in the first place. But I came back revived, and invigorated, with a whole new attitude. I had let go of so much anger and frustration and I no longer had doubts about decisions and choices I’d made. I’d accepted that there were some people I couldn’t come back to and cutting them from my life was for the best. Although I reluctantly reloaded all of my social media apps, I know the necessity of those connections. I reordered my steps, comfortable with the direction I planned to follow.

Although I still experience moments of guilt, I know that I need to put myself first if I am to be of any value to anyone else. No is a complete sentence and I’m no longer concerned what others might think if I use it. Claiming time and space for my needs was life altering. That brief period of self-care lifted a very dark cloud that had been hovering over me. I saw the light at the end of that tunnel. I reprioritized and I am better for it.

In this moment, I am good.

In fact, I am better than good…for now. And mostly, I am immensely grateful.