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. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

MY HEART BREAKS


My heart breaks. A family lost their father today, his murder playing out on Facebook Live. The person responsible blamed his failed relationship, his mother’s neglect, and a host of self-made woes on his decision to take an old man’s life. I’m not sure if his rantings were meant to solicit sympathy, justify his choices or if castigating his partner, employer, friends and family just gave him something to do as he contemplated his next move. And I don’t really care. What I think about this person won’t bring Mr. Robert Godwin back to his family. And I do care about the 76-year old man whose life was cut short so callously.
The suspect is now being hunted by Cleveland police. I predict it will not end well for him whether he’s found alive or not. What he did was heinous and I pray that the repercussions will be far more than he can even begin to imagine. What he deserves should send him straight to the bowels of hell.
The young woman whose name he invoked as he pulled the trigger issued a statement where she professed that “he really is a nice guy…he is generous with everyone he knows. He was kind and loving to me and my children.” I’ don’t doubt that this murderer was all of those things and more. I also wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he had a darker side that only a select few were privy to. That when he wasn’t being a nice guy or kind and loving that there were warning signs his friends and family missed, or ignored.
As a community, we need to talk openly about mental illness. We need to recognize the signs and not be unwilling to express our concerns about our loved ones. And we need to stop defending bad behavior. A man hits his wife and she blames herself. A boyfriend lashes out verbally, leaving his lover bruised and battered and filled with self-doubt and it’s ignored. A girlfriend throws a punch because she knows she won’t get hit back. And then comes the litany of excuses and justifications to make it all okay when it is anything but alright.
Relationships aren’t easy. They require an investment of time and energy and much hard work. Throw in a partner who is less than loving, mean-spirited, or carrying baggage from infancy and that relationship becomes ten times harder to maintain and less likely to be of benefit to anyone involved. Wrap all that in one person’s psychological impairments and the likelihood of a powder keg exploding increases substantially.
In a video posting, the man who perpetuated today’s crime says he snapped. Apparently, his relationship, his partner, his job, and his family had all contributed to his point of no return, moving him to kill an innocent man minding his own business. His blame list is a mile long. But his apathy was even more telling. His dark side no longer secreted away behind closed doors. Today, the darkness he hid so well from those who loved him most was splayed open for all of us to see. And a man who had nothing at all to do with any of it, lost his life.
My condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Godwin. He was a retired foundry worker who had nine children, fourteen grandchildren, and several great-grandchildren. He was much loved and my heart breaks.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

I KNEW...




She was crying. And trying to hide her tears. I watched as she puttered around her kitchen, fixing plates of food for friends and family. I gave her a moment, allowing her to release the frustration that had taken hold of her spirit. I knew that the simple task of plating pancakes and eggs would allow her to catch her breath.
Hours later, she said, “He’s mean. And nothing I do ever pleases him. I am beginning to feel broken.”
I understood broken. I had invested twenty-eight years of my adult life to feeling broken. I’d sworn on everything I held sacred that no man would every make me feel that way again.
She continued. “I have to hold back my emotions with him and I don’t dare cry. If I cry, or show my frustration, it’s a fight. Then he tells me I look foolish or I’m being overly dramatic.”
I understood bottling one’s emotions to appease someone else’s issues. I’d been there and done that.
“There was a man in my life once who wept with me when I cried,” she said. “He would wrap his arms around me and just hold me close until I had cried whatever hurt I had out. That simple gesture always made me feel…like…well…”
She struggled to find the right words but she didn’t need to because I understood. I knew comfort in a man’s arms. I had learned how to trust again. I had found love in all its imperfections and I believed in the overwhelming power of it. I knew the words even if they were unspoken.
“How did I get here?” she asked. And I knew the answer to that to.
I knew that dismissing even the smallest slight because you don’t want to rock the boat, will eventually capsize the vessel. I knew that biting one’s tongue and not speaking up, had never served any woman well. I understood that not giving voice to your feelings and allowing some man to think that what he wants and what he thinks is more important than your own needs and desires, has never served any woman well.
I knew. 


Sunday, April 02, 2017

HAPPY RELEASE DAY!


So excited about the newest edition to my book family!
Announcing the release of A PLEASING TEMPTATION!
Available wherever books are sold!



      Can he open her heart to more than a fleeting passion? 
An ambitious daughter of a close-knit Louisiana clan, Kamaya Boudreaux is making a name for herself in the business world, pursuing lucrative opportunities across the country. But when her best-kept-secret venture—an exclusive male strip club—is threatened to be exposed, the all-work-no-play entrepreneur needs to do some serious damage control. Her plans don't include giving in to temptation with sexy Southerner Wesley Walters, whose buff six-pack body was made for pleasure.
As franchise owner of the high-end New Orleans nightclub, Wes is on the climb to corporate success. He hates deceiving Kamaya—she has no idea that her lover was once the most popular performer at his establishment and guests are willing to pay top dollar for his return. With their passionate affair leading them into forever territory, Wes has to come clean. Or he risks losing the guarded beauty whose own intimate secrets could also jeopardize their future together…