Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A WRITER WHO WRITES


I’ve frequently been asked why I chose to write romance and not some other genre. The truth is I didn’t choose romance, romance chose me.

I knew at a very young age that I wanted to write. I started scribbling poetry when I was in grade school to deal with some childhood traumas. In the seventh grade I had an incredible science teacher in a really horrible science class who saw something in me that I hadn’t yet seen in myself. One day after I’d spent months in her classroom scribbling stories and poetry in the margins of my science workbook she pulled me aside and told me I’d been blessed with an incredible gift. It was her words of encouragement and motivation that followed me through school and into adulthood. I am writing today because this teacher made me understand that I could.

My first manuscript was not a romance. At least I didn’t think so. (Neither did die hard romance fans but that’s another story!) I was blessed though that an astute editor at BET Books liked what she read and believed in my abilities as a writer. With some intense editorial navigation and the deletion of eighty pages of subplot, Deborah the romance writer was born.

If the truth were to be told I still don’t see myself as a romance writer. I believe true romance writers have truly romantic spirits. Personally, I don’t much believe in the happily ever after ending and the fairy tale adventures that get you to true love. I know firsthand that love typically hurts more than it doesn’t and that rarely is there ever a happily ever after anything. I may be a little jaded but experience has been my wonderful teacher.

When I was twelve years old a trusted male friend of the family told me I would never be a woman that any man could or should ever love. It was a proclamation that has followed me most of my adult life. When life was well I could usually forget and ignore the stench it left over my spirit but when relationships went bad, the memory came rushing back with a vengeance. Fast forward through four years of intensive therapy to deal with my demons and I felt that I’d been newly discovered – likeable and loveable. Then something happened recently that left me devastated, questioning what therapy and a therapist had led me to believe.

Pretty words and a happy ending work well in books. Make-believe makes for great fiction. Reality is rarely as neat and pretty as the package a romance novel comes in. A dejected spirit, a heavy heart and the rampant memory of being told that love would always elude you plays out better on the pages when the story isn’t so syrupy sweet.

I write this because I was reminded that words are truly a powerful medium. The selection, the intent, and the delivery can have a profound emotional impact on the receiver whether spoken or written. A teacher told me I could and I believed her, worshiping the words she blessed me with. A man told me I wouldn’t and I believed him too, haunted by the curse caste over my spirit.

So to answer the question, I’m a writer who writes romance because I can and I’m good at it. I’m also a writer who writes for the sheer joy of it. And I’m a writer who writes hoping that I can always find the words to tell a great story because I desperately need to. I write to create a new truth for myself instead of settling for the lies that were handed to me.


SO HARD AND SO COMPLETELY...

Tara says that it is a blessing. She truly believes that if her parents had never taught them any other lesson, then she and her sisters should be grateful that they taught them about love. Donna, the oldest, doesn’t necessarily agree. The two of them and Angie, the middle child, sat cuddled in the room they’d grown up in. Together they were walking down memory lane, reflecting back on the cards that life had dealt to them. They’d laughed at the life lessons a loving mother and father had taught them, the lessons they were living as adults. It was Tara the youngest who first voiced her opinion and once said, neither Angie or Donna could deny the truth of the statement.

“Love hard and love completely,” she’d said, “or don’t bother to love at all.”

That’s when Angie broke down and cried. Donna didn’t have any more tears to cry with. Both women had learned that lesson well and had lived it daily. What their mother and father had never bothered to teach them was how to handle the hurt that inevitably went hand in hand with loving someone so hard and so completely.

Angie was just coming out of a bad relationship. The man she’d nicknamed The Chef had gone home and home wasn’t her house. She pretends to be okay with his decision but you can see the hurt in her eyes. She’s angry with herself for believing, for giving in to the hope and possibilities that had been promised to her. She had wanted to believe that The Chef had loved her so much that he would have been willing to sacrifice everything for her. She’d seen him leaving his wife as him leaving his wife for her and it simply had not been true. He left because he needed to leave. His leaving was about him. His going back was about him as well. Angie had only been a temporary distraction. If she had not been involved with him he still would have left his wife and he still would have gone back. It just happened that Angie had been there loving him when he did what he need to do for him.

Donna’s romantic pursuits haven’t gone much better. Donna has always chosen the wrong men at the right time, or worse, the right men at the wrong time. Both women have since discovered that they may never be loved as hard or as completely as they are so willing to give love. Even when the good men they cherish are loving them back as best they can. It would seem that Tara has always known this which is why she refuses to love at all, protecting her heart at all costs. If by some chance she hasn’t learned that lesson yet, then her true blessing will be if she never does.

Both Angie and Donna readily dive into love head first, it becoming a total commitment of themselves and all that is most precious about them. Both are always too willing to sacrifice everything but neither has found a relationship where the partner they love so wholeheartedly gives them that in return.

There is nothing wrong with them loving as deeply as they do. Both women are deserving of finding such a love in return. Perhaps Tara is right and their ability to love so intensely is a blessing of sorts. Now if they could only learn to love themselves as hard and as completely.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

AN AMERICAN PRESIDENT REVISITED


I said this once before and after the South Carolina primary, I'm inspired to say it again.

I want an American president. I don’t care about his race or his religion and I sure don’t give a flying fig about his sexual predilections as long what he does is done in the privacy of his bedroom with a consenting partner. But I do care that he cares about America and Americans.

I want an American president who is concerned about American children and childcare and working parents. Who spends American money on America.

I want an American president who will fight for my rights and your rights and not just the rights of corporate business and international entities. A president who will treat the poor as well as he will treat the wealthy.

I want an American president whose presidential promises will be about feeding our hungry, helping our homeless, and protecting our elderly.

I want an America president whose campaign promises will actually be kept.

I want an American president who believes in telling the truth, an individual with integrity and character. A person who will stand tall and admit if he, or she, is wrong.

I want an American president who has actually read the American Constitution. Someone who remembers what the doctrines of free speech and the right to privacy were made for.

I want an American president who will fight a good and fair fight for Americans. An individual who will speak from his heart and not spout mindless rhetoric written to incite fear and loathing of people and things that have nothing to do with America.

I want an American president who puts Americans first. Someone who values its citizens and puts their needs before all else. And, I’m ready and willing to stand up for any candidate who’s up for the challenge.

At the moment, my ideal dream team would be an Obama-Edwards ticket. The more Hillary campaigns the less I'm feeling her sincerity. I understands she wants this badly but my gut tells me it's more about the power and the prestige than about anything else. She may well change my mind but I'm beginning to seriously doubt it. I do however feel a genuine commitment and passion from Barack and John. Passion and commitment will go a long way with me.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

MR. BEN'S BROKEN HEART

My old friend Mr. Ben invited me over to sit in front of his fireplace with him. The smell of freshly backed cinnamon cookies and Ben Gay filled the warm air. The old man has slowed down considerably in the past few months but that twinkle is still shimmering brightly from his eyes.

Mr. Ben’s mind has been wandering back to the past more and more lately. He seems to be drawn to another time and another place when things were good with him and his. We sat together and talked for a good little while as we watched that fire crackle in the most brilliant shades of red and orange. Miles Davis was playing softly in the background. Mr. Ben is a big fan of Miles Davis.

Mr. Ben knows that I’ve recently had to go through some things. I took much delight in telling him that I could finally see the light at the end of that dark tunnel I’ve been traveling. And then he told me a story, reaching out to hold onto my hand as he did.

Most know that Mr. Ben and I met working for the same employer many, many years ago. It was a wonderful institution and one of the best jobs either of us could have wished for. Mr. Ben was in charge of maintenance for the organization’s buildings. His job responsibilities put him in frequent contact with the many students on one of the more illustrious college campus’ in the area.

Mr. Ben is a pretty man. Every time I see him my heart skips a beat at just how beautiful a man he is. At the age of 94 he still has a full head of snow white curls atop his head and a chocolate complexion that reminds me of liquid candy. His eyes are absolutely breathtaking. They’re an incredible shade of blue-gray. Many women lost themselves in Mr. Ben’s silvery gaze back in the day and I can only begin to imagine the hearts he broke way back when. It was the story of a broken heart that Mr. Ben shared with me.

On that college campus Mr. Ben’s charms didn’t go unnoticed by faculty and students alike. Nor did Mr. Ben ignore the attention that was lavished upon him by his female fans. From what he shared with me, Mr. Ben fell waist deep into a number of beds he had no business being in. Let us not forget that when Mr. Ben found this job he had a new wife and a baby or two to feed. Being the man he was back then Mr. Ben often chose to forget that he had a family.

Her name was Elizabeth “Becky” Hudson. Becky was a blonde, blue-eyed wonder who took quite a liking to Mr. Ben. Becky was also nineteen to Mr. Ben’s twenty-five plus years. Mr. Ben’s employment responsibilities gave him access to Becky’s dorm. Miss Becky gave Mr. Ben access to her bed. Seems the duo had quite a torrid affair for the four years it took Miss Becky to get herself a college degree. The day after graduation Becky announced that she was off to marry the son of a wealthy Washington politician. Becky gave Mr. Ben his walking papers and he was devastated.

Realizing this was the early 1940’s I cannot fathom how Mr. Ben forgot that he was very much a black man in the deep, deep South. How he even began to imagine that he could have a happily-ever-after ending with this Southern blue belle is truly beyond my comprehension. As well, I wanted to slap him for thinking that what he wanted with blue-eyed Becky would overshadow his responsibilities to his wife and little children. Mr. Ben acknowledges that he truly lost his ever loving mind.

Mr. Ben made a stink about Becky wanting to marry the son of Paul Politician. After four years he truly believed he was in love with Becky and Becky should have been in love with him. But loving Mr. Ben was hardly on Becky’s mind and she did the unfathomable. Becky threatened to tell the good ole’ boys in the school administration that Mr. Ben had tried to rape her.

Just the prospect of such a thing happening quickly reminded Mr. Ben that not only was he a black man in a very white South but that it would take very little to have him swinging from one of those old Southern oak trees with a noose around his very pretty neck.

Miss Becky Hudson broke Mr. Ben’s heart. He told me his story with a deep sadness in his tone. Remorse was etched in every line that creased his face. Mr. Ben’s heart was still fractured from having been used and abused by a woman who’d been able to touch his spirit.

It became clear that Mr. Ben had been in deep reflection about it for some time. I still don’t think he has reconciled that someone he actually cared for would even think to put him at such risk. It was also clear that this was the first time Mr. Ben had ever shared that story with anyone. Number One Son had certainly never heard that tale before as he stood listening to his father travel down memory lane. I saw his usual look of admiration fade ever so slightly as he heard how his father had wronged his mother.

When Mr. Ben was finished with his story he squeezed my hand tightly as he lifted it to his frail lips and planted a kiss in the center of my palm. Then he smiled and wiped away a tear that had clouded the shimmer in his silvery gaze.

LOVE'S ROLLERCOASTER RIDE

They are only seventeen and eighteen and they’re so “in love” with the idea of being “in love” that neither can think straight. They’ve latched on to each other much like an infant latches on to a pacifier, both refusing to let go.

Their love is that giddy high that has you believing everything imaginable is possible. Young love has no rules or boundaries. It is the best of everything with whipped cream and a cherry on top. I’ve watched these two reveling in the innocence and joy of each other and even as I peek into their grander moments I can’t help but think that I wouldn’t want that for myself ever again. Those of us who have been there before know that when you’re that age and “in love” that at some point in time, in a place where you least expect, the rules will kick into high gear and all that “young” love will be filled with the responsibilities of adulthood.

There is something much more delightful about finding love after you’ve dealt with some serious life experiences. I think to truly know the best of what true love can offer that you need to have your heart broken once or twice. Age and maturity will certainly deal you a hand or two of disappointment and heartache if you live long enough. It’s the wealth of all that emotion that enables us to know what we do and don’t want for ourselves when we find ourselves falling into “adult” love.

I was reading a young woman’s MYSPACE page recently. She’s barely eighteen and believes she has full grasp of what she wants for herself in a future companion. Her want list was a sheer delight to read as she expounded the virtues of a man who’ll hold her hand in the rain, wash her hair, paint her toenails, and be more romantic than a Beverly Jackson romance hero. I understood fully what she wanted for herself but I also understood that she has yet to realize that she should want so much more.

Love is a fascinating rollercoaster ride. At the age of seventeen they’re still rolling up that first slow hill. Their momentum is just beginning to build. The excitement of what will come has them full of hope as they fathom the possibilities. That inevitable drop will come in time, sending them into a tailspin, but they’ll get past that rush of anxiety and do it again and again until that last climb to the top, when the ride finally levels out on an even course and there are no more drops and falls for them to know. And then they’ll have the beauty of what once was, the knowledge of what could be and the joy of moving forward, dictating that ride on their own terms.

I’m at an age where I am more than ready for that even course, no longer interested in those extreme highs and even lower lows of love’s rollercoaster ride. Young love had its turn. I’m welcoming the possibilities of true love.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

OBSESSING OVER PENIS OR STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES...


It’s expected that a man will obsess over his penis. I mean, it’s his penis. If he can’t obsess over it then who can? You don’t however expect to see any woman obsessing over a penis. But Miranda (BLIND FOR SOME DICK) is back at it again, allowing dick to get all up in the way of what she needs to be doing for herself and her children.

Miranda’s in jail. Sister-girl got herself locked up behind bars because dick was more important than her babies. To add insult to injury the penis she was obsessing over wasn’t even attached to the husband the child had married. This dick was attached to some other fool who’s been telling her lie after lie about what he intends to do for her. When the authorities locked that cell door neither penis came to bail her blind butt out.

I can’t fault the penis she’s married to for leaving her locked away and there are no words for the penis who had her so focused on him and his that she neglected the fact that babies #2 and #3 needed some mommy attention that didn’t involve them wandering the neighborhood looking for a meal. Babies were hungry and Miranda was fast asleep, in a drunken stupor from the good time she’d been having with all of that dick.

Now Miranda’s begging and pleading for someone to come bail her out. Miranda’s got a long list of explanations to justify why she’s been charged with child neglect. The fact that she needs to be slapped and shaken for being so stupid doesn’t seem to faze her in the least. Miranda’s biggest concerns seem to be penis #3 and penis #4. Miranda’s petrified that one or both may leave her and then what would she do? According to her, she’s not getting any younger and her assets haven’t been perky for some time now. It seems that getting choice penis to rise at her beck and call is becoming harder and harder to come by so holding on to prime dick requires her full attention.

I can only shake my head because I can’t get my hands on Miranda to shake her. If she thinks she’s got problems with penis now at the age of twenty-four, I’m going to hate to see what life hands her when she and all of her dick turn forty-five. Whether she knows it or not, getting herself out jail will be easy compared to the ass whooping she’s got coming from her family and friends. And I promise Miranda, she's got one hell of an ass whooping coming her way!

ARGHHHH!

So much for the snow. They say we got a burst of it at 4:00 AM that dusted the ground. Unless you were the milk man making your morning deliveries, or working third shift and clocking out for the day you didn't get to see it.

When the majority of us got up this morning it was raining. It's still raining. Hibernation is looking better and better.

Can anyone say island retreat?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

LET IT SNOW!

Some areas of the country have no true experience with snow. My small town here in the South is one such area. When I first moved here I was running as fast and as far from snow as I could possibly get. I absolutely hated the stuff. I hated the cold and the wet of it, and slipping and sliding my way to work wasn’t my idea of something fun to do. Every time the weather man predicted the onslaught of a Nor’easter, known for dumping heavy amounts of rain and snow with hurricane force winds, all I wanted to do was crawl into bed and go into hibernation. Sleeping away the winter seemed far more appealing to me. My last winter in Connecticut we’d gotten hit with over four feet of wind-blown snow over a three day period. That was the first storm. If I recall correctly there seemed to be another two or three major accumulations after that.

In the North, folks go on with business as usual. Delays are relatively short and folks go to work and school. Here, the entire town shuts down and people don’t know what to do with themselves. There has been only one substantial snow fall here since I moved and that six inches of fluff devastated the area. At the time I was still reeling from the welcome that Hurricane Fran had given us. The snow didn’t faze me in the least until two days after the fact when the supermarket and the library were still closed. Here I was wheeling about in my SUV with its 4-wheel drive wondering what the fuss was all about and folks were looking at me like I was plum fool.

The weatherman is predicting we’ll see another wintery mix tonight and tomorrow. WalMart and the Piggly Wiggly Supermarket are already out of bread and milk. The video business is booming because people are preparing themselves to be stranded for at least a month if the roads actually ice up and we get some bright white stuff covering the ground. Everyone knows you can’t depend on cable and satellite in extreme situations like that!

I sold my SUV for a pretty red pickup truck a few years ago. Pickup trucks are a necessity here in the South and snow looks right pretty covering the bed of a Ford-150. However, I don’t think I’ll have much use for it if I need to get out of the house and the roads haven’t been plowed. But what the hell! I’ll just watch it fall from my window and remember what it was like way back when. I imagine I’ll actually find the beauty in it once again since I have no plans to slip and slide my way to anywhere if it does come. Then I’ll crawl into my bed with a good book, a few DVD’s, and a requisite supply of chips and snacks. I’ll surely survive ‘cause I’ve got experience with winter weather and everyone knows only someone who’s plum fool will be looking for the supermarket and library to be open.

So let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

WHAT"S UP!




Lord, have mercy! Holidays and family have had me on my toes, ducking, dodging, and just having one heck of a time!

Spent Christmas with family and friends and genuinely had a good time. One of the cousins was sulking because she had hoped to spend her holiday with her new beau. He however spent it with his baby’s mama completely oblivious to the fact that she had hoped they might spend that time together. I’ll just let you imagine the drama that ensued ‘cause that did not go over well with my girl at all. I had an opinion about the whole mess but since no one asked me I kept it to myself. But if it had been me….

The old people were in an uproar over some more family mess. Uncle This announced he was getting married. The man is well in his 70’s. The fiancĂ©e is barely 55. This wouldn’t have been a big deal if he hadn’t just buried his first wife right before Thanksgiving. The old women were fit to be tied that he’d gone out and bought the girlfriend an engagement ring before he’d bothered to buy his deceased wife a headstone. But like they say, karma can be a bitch ‘cause I have no doubts that Auntie will surely let him know what she thinks about all this from her grave. Not only is she rolling over, but I imagine she’s just waiting for the right time to reach out and slap both him and her right out of her bed. And if she doesn’t you can surely trust the other women in the family will.

The New Year was exceptionally quiet. My date stood me up so me and my little black dress spent the night in deep reflection contemplating all I need to accomplish for the New Year. The first thing on my list was making sure that I don’t pick the wrong dates in the future! I didn’t bother with the champagne and there was no one around to give me my midnight kiss but I sure did look cute in my dress!

My baby boy went back to school this past weekend and although I miss him already I was ready for him to leave. That child just about wrecked my last nerve. My house never stayed clean. His friends didn’t know how to find their way back to their own homes. Someone was always standing in front of my refrigerator with the door open and my last piece of baloney in their hand and every time I turned around he was saying, “Ma, can I have some money?” Forget everything I bitched about before. There is much to be said for that empty nest!

And now I’m starting the New Year on a serious roll! I’ve officially launched a new business (more about that later) and I’ve got books coming. This is going to be a great year and I don’t doubt that I’ll have plenty to rant and rave about. So hang on, I’m making sure we have us one heck of a ride!

PS. - The above image is by Hollis Chatelain, one of my favorite artists. Hollis is the supreme goddess of textile art! This piece is actually a quilt! It's called Untold Secrets. It seemed fitting for the occasion because I'm sure there will be more than a few untold secrets I'll be sharing some time in the future. To see more of Hollis' work, visit her HERE!