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…

Thursday, March 16, 2017

AN OPEN LETTER




Dear Congress,

You are truly a disappointment to those of us who elected you to represent our interests. Your continued support of individuals who are using the presidential office to progress their own personal agendas to the detriment of the American people is offensive on many levels. With your silence, your dismissive attitudes, or your grandiose partisan participation, you are committing a litany of sins that you will not be able to come back from.

We are watching your actions closely. How you proceed forward with a budget that harms the poor, the elderly, and the disenfranchised, will not be taken lightly. How you reply to allegations of external involvement in our judicial system will be critiqued. How you answer the blatant racism and bigotry from your peers, and your response to issues that affect women and children and those who you are supposed to be speaking for won’t be forgotten. If you ignore the continued and habitual lies that our elected officials spew, we will take note.

How you answer our calls and messages and if you show up to our town meetings will be taken into consideration. Everything you do, or don’t do, will be quantified and questioned and will be fodder for our decisions as we go forward. Because elections will come again. And that comfortable seat you currently occupy may no longer be a privilege you will continue to enjoy. Because we will vote. Again. But we will not vote for you.

Sincerely,

Your Constituents

Friday, February 10, 2017

WELCOME, BOOK DOLL!


I'm very excited to introduce and welcome BOOK DOLL to my blog today. BOOK DOLL recently burst on the literary scene as the side kick to renowned author, Cheris Hodges. BOOK DOLL has been a bit of a mystery to many, but her growing popularity is quickly making her the next media sensation! I am pleased that she so kindly granted me this interview!



BOOK DOLL, welcome, and thank you for taking the time to talk to me.



Hi. Thanks for having me.



Tell my readers a little about yourself with five words that embody the essence of who you are.



Reading is everything to me.

What are you reading right now? And do you have a favorite genre?



My favorite genre is romance, of course. I get to read all the hot new releases because my bestie, Cheris Hodges, loves to buy books but never has time to read them. Right now, I’m reading SynithiaWilliams’s Full Court Seduction.

If you had a super power what would it be and why?



I would want all the powers of Wonder Woman and the other Amazons. Kicking butt and taking names in my underwear, it gets no better.

We know you and author Cheris Hodges have a wonderful friendship. Cheris' recent release, FEEL THE HEAT, has gotten rave reviews and is one of my all-time favorites. Can you spill some tea and tell us what quirk(s) she has that really just annoys you? Well, Cheris is going to be Cheris. She is blunt and a little cray-cray. But don’t you have to be that way to be a good writer? You know what’s super weird about her though, she drinks coffee in the middle of the night and still goes to sleep.

Have you ever been in trouble with the police?



No comment. You haven’t seen my mug shot, have you? (Looks down at phone and presses lawyer’s contact info).

We all love a good romance, so are you dating right now? Is there a special BOOK GUY or GAL in your life?

I’m not dating right now, but I have a huge crush on Mr. Harris, the Original Travel Animal, an international Monkey of Mystery, known simply as Mr. Harris. Your gorilla guide to the best spots to swing into or hang out! But I don’t think he knows I exist. He doesn’t even follow me on Twitter! 

Have you ever thought about writing a book?

Nah, I like reading more than I like writing. I’ll leave that to people like you, Cheris and all the other fabulous writers I got to hang out with in Destin.

What can we expect from you this year?
I might start a blog. But right now, I’ve got to get a handle on Twitter (get it) lol! And make sure Cheris meets her deadlines and organizes her life. Make sure you follow me on Twitter, @bookdahl17, Book Doll the Instagram feed is coming soon.
Thank you so much, BOOK DOLL, for visiting with me today.

(Waves and scurries off with one of my books tucked under her arm. I wonder what that was all about?)

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

#HARLEQUINSECRETVALENTINE

Enter to win a copy of my upcoming release
A PLEASING TEMPTATION and a surprise copy
of one of my favorite romances
from one of my favorite romance authors!
Can you say HOT, HOT, HOT!!




Wednesday, February 01, 2017

ADVERTISING AND PROMOTIONAL OPPORTUNITIES

THE DEADLINE FOR PURCHASING ANY ADVERTISING OR PROMOTIONAL OPPORTUNITY FOR THIS YEAR'S DIAMOND LITERARY TEA PARTY
AND DEBORAH'S DIAMOND GALA
IN SAVANNAH, GEORGIA IS APRIL 28, 2017.
NO EXCEPTIONS! FIRST COME, FIRST SERVED!


Monday, January 30, 2017

WE THE PEOPLE...SHOULD BE AFRAID



With the election now over and the transfer of power, it feels as if we the people have been snatched from the pan and thrown headfirst into the fire. The months prior to the election were contentious enough, sullied with vulgar, repugnant behavior that had absolutely nothing to do with the issues. It severed friendships, caused rifts between family members, perpetuated stereotypes, instilled fear and left our nation severely battered and bruised.
Barely a week into the new regime and it feels as if the silent war being waged against we the people has now escalated to a new high. Truth and integrity are things of the past, no longer relevant when alternative facts and bold-faced lies are shared like air. There are a few who still hope with time that it will get better, some who simply don’t care, others demanding we give chances they themselves adamantly refused to reciprocate. And many more still reeling from the devastation and unwilling to sit idly by and not do something. Anything.
I listened today as a man argued that the perceived Muslim-ban effected this past Friday will help to secure our borders and make us safe from terrorists who intend to do us harm. He insisted that the proposed wall between the United States and Mexico will keep illegal immigrants from trespassing where they do not belong. He actually said it would “stop parasites” from “sucking up our natural resources”. His words. Not mine.
He wasn’t interested in the facts. Didn’t care that 85% of the terror perpetuated on American soil thus far has been committed by American citizens, most of them white and male. For him, that was different and not a cause for concern. After all, in his small world, only people of color worldwide are capable of inflicting pain against good, decent human beings. The KKK and other white nationalist groups are no more dangerous than your local book club, and the likes of Timothy McVeigh, Dylann Roof, James Eagan Holmes, and Jared Loughner are just good ole’ boys afflicted with mental illness. He didn’t attack their upbringing, castigate their parents, or proclaim them thugs as he excused their behavior. He wasn’t as kind to Trevon Martin, Eric Garner or twelve-year-old Tamir Rice as he vilified them for simply being black, and breathing. He professed that the people, people like him, had spoken and the rest of us needed to get over it. He was moderately educated but had never stepped foot outside of his small town and admitted that he had never ever met, much less talked to, someone not like him. Listening to this man rant nonsensically, I was reminded of a cartoon I once saw, with the punchline that you can’t explain poetry to someone who doesn’t understand English. I’m sure it was one of many one-sided conversations that are being debated around the world, people digging in their heels as they take sides. Many hearing, but not listening; understanding but not caring.
I’m glad he now feels safe. I’m excited that someone does. Because I don’t. I don’t feel safe at all. I feel conflicted and tense and deeply depressed, unable to hope for the best as I prepare for the worse. We have watched politicians pander to fear as they try to normalize racist, homophobic, misogynistic, xenophobic behavior. Leaders who stand idly by and say nothing at all as healthcare is swept by the wayside, free speech is impugned, and women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, our civil liberties and the doctrines of our Constitution are maligned with the sweep of a pen and 140 Twitter characters.
Core values, on which our country was founded, are now trounced on daily, the scrapings beneath an Alt-Right shoe with no concern for the consequences. Seriously bad behavior is cheered in the name of God and good Christian-values. But there is nothing Christ-like about any of it. The tenets of compassion and tolerance are being ignored. Love doesn’t exist as neighbors stand at arm’s length and eye each other with a wary stare. And let’s be honest, none of it is what Jesus would do. The God I serve surely cannot approve.
Everything I once held near and dear, that I trusted and depended on, feels lost to me. We the people are now a divided nation of haves and have nots, those favored and those unwanted, the privileged and the forsaken. Making America Great Again has become a battle cry to divide, conquer, and piss on the spirits of our ancestors who fought, bled, and gave their lives for all of us to have and do better.
We the people suddenly don’t matter. We the people are expendable for the greater good of a demagogue’s monarchy. We the people must now fight, tooth and nail, to keep from drowning in the sewage suddenly flowing down from the top. We the people are truly not safe as they come for the Mexicans, and the Muslims, and whoever else might be next on the list because of their race or religion or their refusal to tow the party line. We the people have every right to be very afraid. We see daily that we are being attacked and persecuted and hunted. Told to “shut up”, “get in line”, “or else”.
All of us, on this side of the wall, should be very afraid.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

OUR AMERICAN PRESIDENT



President Barack Obama said farewell to the nation tonight. First Lady Michelle wore black. I felt like we were at a beloved family member’s memorial service. From start to finish, saying goodbye, was gut-wrenching. Like many, I wept like a baby.

I remember when he announced his candidacy, my beloved grandmother shifting forward in her seat to get a better view of him as she watched CNN. There was a hint of doubt in her eyes, that a black man could even imagine himself being the leader of the free world. I remember her joy, as she shook with excitement, tears streaming down her face, when he was elected President.

From the very beginning he carried himself with a quiet dignity that few others have been able to mimic. He personified the best this world had to offer and for many, to see that embodied in a male with brown skin, kinky hair, and a non-traditional name went against everything they deemed American.

For the past eight years he has demonstrated immeasurable grace under fire. He was challenged, stalled and disrespected at every turn and even now, as he prepares to exit the White House, too many are ready to dismantle the hard work he fought tooth and nail for, too quick to discredit the legacy he leaves behind.

We fell in love with him. We loved how he was so in love with his beautiful wife. How he adored his precious daughters. We were privileged that they were so open, welcoming us into their lives without hesitation. How they embraced us and allowed their family to be our family.

He leaves with more hope for this country than we may deserve. He has faith in our success that few others can fathom. Even as the masses are bemoaning what’s to come he believes in the greater good. He believes in we the people. He still trusts the ideology of democracy and the red, white and blue that waves in welcome to all. He is the best of the best. He was a true American President. And he was ours.

We miss him already.