Friday, August 26, 2011

Coming Home Tour - Reflections

The Bad

  • The car I rented didn’t have cruise control and it teased me with promises of Sirius XM Radio only to find out there was no subscription. That’s five hours of my foot on the gas and praying the radio had something good on and my mp3 player didn’t decide to die despite me charging it the night before.
  • Payment issues forcing me to pay everything in advance unexpectedly.Luckily, I saved for this trip, but the inconvenience was there anyway.
  • The Westin nickel and diming everything.
  • The Westin turning into a club on a Saturday night. Would’ve been nice to have a head’s up that was going to happen.
  • The pillows at the Westin. There really is such a thing as too damn soft.
  • The A/C at the Westin was bipolar—didn’t know if it wanted to work consistently or at all.
  • The cabbie taking us on an unwanted tour of Atlanta to go basically three miles down Piedmont to Smith's Olde Bar. I got us to around there in five minutes driving blind the next day.
  • Not being able to connect with my cousins. L Damn vibrate mode!
  • The Waffle House in Downtown Atlanta full of rude-ass college students blocking precious parking. Rude. Like, I had no words for the rudeness, so thus explaining why there is no Waffle House photo or reflection coming (I was so flabbergasted I forgot to snap a photo…and I had to drive all the way back to SC less the waffle I had anticipated all damn weekend. My consolation is this wasn’t the Waffle House I’d envisioned in Reconstructing Jada Channing anyway).

The Good
  • Getting to and from Atlanta safely in my non-cruise-control-having car, praise be to God.
  • Someone actually coming to the Meet and Greet! *shout out Courtnie & her peeps and please learn Javier’s real name!*
  • The Sun Dial Restaurant being delicious (if slightly overpriced) with gorgeous views. Gorgeous. Though, as it turns out, there is no dance floor per se, I figured out what Jada Mae will be craving when she’s pregnant. There may be shorts.
(Jada's sweet tea...with vanilla and orange - yum) and cheesecake. There was also a shrimp fondue-type thing in which you dip toasted bread and just yum, yum, yum!)
  • The cutie bouncer at the pub next door to the Westin. He wore the mess out of a black Security T-shirt.
  • Learning I like Baileys Irish Cream. A lot. I’m sure both Aaron and Patrick are proud of this.
  • The photo shoot. Had “I Feel Pretty” playing in my head. Sevan Photography, shout out—can’t wait to see the results and Shannon is good people. Thanks Nuri for hipping me to them! If you need photos done, go to them, seriously.
  • Smith’s Olde Bar had some tater tots that brought me to a happy place, yes. Also, after fighting off some sleepiness, enjoyed the first band that performed that night (bonus Trent from The Way That You Play It). Favorite parts of the band: the hottie Black T-shirt!Rhythm Guitarist and the Percussionist—both of whom couldn’t even give the slightest of damns. It was hot.
  • Traveling to the spots featured in our novels. My favorite has got to be the “underwhelming” Island Def Jam Music Group location, but apparently it’s a recording studio so…welp? I literally thought the GPS had led us to someplace we should’ve never gone but nope, there it was! That was a cool surprise. Piedmont Park is large and it was ridiculously hot. My favorite, though, was probably the Plaza Theater. There may be shorts.



The Epic

  • FINALLY MEETING BJ!!!
  • Finally meeting BJ (it beared repeating.)!
  • Breaking out of my shell slightly (This is includes wearing one of BJ's dresses a dress I’d bought over a year ago but not having worn until this trip…1.) I’m not a dress person and 2.) this is a dress that’s grown and, dare I say, sexy, and I’m still working on being both; although I apparently failed a test because a guy was waving at me (I was not wearing the grown-and-sexy dress; I was wearing my birthday dress…incidentally a dress that I’d also purchased last year and hadn’t worn out until my birthday, heh) and I did not notice it at all. Almost 12 hours later BJ deigns to tell me some guy was trying to let me know his interest. Well, hell, I can’t be blamed for this because BJ was looking fierce so I naturally assumed any attention would go to her. Lesson learned.).

(le white dress. Apparently, it was a hit...)
  • Ironically realizing it’s much harder to do marathon conversations in person.
  • A very tacky flashing Cinderella pumpkin-esque horse-drawn carriage. There may be shorts.
  • Realizing someone you’ve been fangirling for years is actually someone who calls you a friend and being extremely humbled by that.
  • BJ realizing I really am a sports girl. Hee.
  • BJ accusing me of holding out on her re: my sense of humor. I call shenanigans on that, although my NASCAR analogy was pretty awesome. Don’t ask me what I was comparing, however; I’d just had alcohol and I was sleepy.
  • Having two camera-averse people tasked with taking pictures for their respective blogs…BJ did a better job than I did, admittedly. I was even a good sport and didn’t run away from the camera (that wasn’t the photo-shoot!camera. Y’all be proud).
  • Friendships being affirmed.
All in all, I consider the weekend a success; as first-times go for something like this, there were hiccups and disappointments, but I think if this is done again, it’ll be far more laidback and chill. I realized I’m personally not a huge Atlanta-as-a-city fan, although I do like it as a choice as a hub for my characters’ in the universe that’s being created with them. I do hope to do more trips like this with BJ and other author friends; and hopefully with more readers too.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Question Set #3 - Coming Home Tour Countdown

Reminder: In order to be in the running for my giveaway, all you have to do is answer three questions correctly that pertain to either Reconstructing Jada Channing or Being Plumville. Answers only count if replied onto the blogpost--no e-mails please.

~~~

1.) In what class does Coralee tutor Benjamin?

2.) What is Jada's grandmother's name?

3.) What scene left the most impact on you from either book?


Coming Home Tour Countdown - The ATL

Afternoon, everyone! Here's the third official blog post for the Coming Home Tour Countdown! This week, BJ and I are basically answering the unasked question - why Atlanta? - and giving you an idea of landmarks we plan to visit once we get there. And remember to answer the questions on my blog to be eligible for the giveaway!

~~~

When I was 9, me and one of my dearest friends (still to this day) swore we were going to Spelman for college because it was the best all-girl black college out there.

That plan never did pan out.

When I was thirteen, my uncle, sister, and I went to the Olympics and saw various events--track & field and gymnastics are the two that particularly stick out to me. Dominique Dawes was a tiny little dot when she was performing, but we didn't care because it was awesome for us to see our favorite gymnast in person.

A year or so later, we went to Turner Field to catch an Atlanta Braves game (our favorite baseball team) in the nosebleed seats of the brand new facility. I couldn't tell you who won, but it was fun.

The next time I'm in Atlanta is in 2005. The new pope was being named and my college choir was doing a tour of Atlanta. We toured the MLK site and sat in Ebenezer Baptist Church, and I had a moment. We sang at CNN. There were too many Peachtrees for my mostly non-Southern compatriots. And as soon as we hit our first Southern stop (we took a bus down from Boston and we stopped in Charlotte), I cried over the double waffle order I had at Waffle House because it was so good to be "home" after a long, cold, arduous senior year of finals and thesis writing (that'd I'd, incidentally, turned in days before I'd left for the Atlanta tour!).

The reason why I'd chosen Atlanta as a central location in Reconstructing Jada Channing, and then Georgia for Plumville, was because it was a central location in the South, and a "big Southern city" people would recognize. Whenever people think of cities, the South isn't usually where people mentally go, but cities are also associated with diversity and progressiveness, even though many times that's merely a facade. So, I thought it was a good reference point, but then I could create towns like Plumville and little communities like the one Jada's from, and flesh it out for everyday people just living everyday lives, but those lives are extraordinary to them. And for someone like Jada, though she sees the Westin in the skyline many a time, she's never set foot in it. Or though Atlanta is merely an hour away for Coralee, she doesn't have the freedom Benny has to make those weekend trips to the movies like he can; in fact, the only reason why anyone goes to Atlanta, in her world, is because of some sort of trouble. And how is it one city can change so much over generations, but, in many ways, stay the same?

I'm excited to go back to Atlanta, particularly now since I have family there - both actual and fictive. I'm excited to go with my girl BJ, because this reunion has certainly been a long time coming. She was one of the first people to read Being Plumville when it was in its infancy and her comments were so invaluable to me, y'all don't know. I'm excited to meet those who've read my work, and a little nervous too, not gonna lie! I'm just excited and I hope all of you can come and share in this with us. I promise you won't regret it!

~ bana



Friday, August 05, 2011

Question Set #2 - Coming Home Tour Countdown

Reminder: In order to be in the running for my giveaway, all you have to do is answer three questions correctly that pertain to either Reconstructing Jada Channing or Being Plumville. Answers only count if replied onto the blogpost--no e-mails please.

~~~

1.) What kind of firm is McKensie Lowman?

2.) What is the name of Jada's family's restaurant?

3.) In what year do the main events of Being Plumville begin?

Coming Home Tour Countdown - BP Deleted Scene

In a funny twist, this Being Plumville drabble is even older than the Reconstructing Jada Channing ficlet I'd just posted. I tell this story every time I speak, but Being Plumville came about because I was having serious angst about RJC (at the time it was called The Life to Live...yeah, I was deep in my soap opera watching during college! lol), so I'd started plotting what would eventually be Being Plumville. My friend, again the wonderful Thalia, had given me a prompt to help get the creative juices flowing even if I couldn't truly start writing the actual story until November for National Novel Writing Month. Below is the prompt and then the drabble that I wrote to go along with it. It's unbeta'ed, so please forgive errors and enjoy!

~~~~

"Song Lyric Prompt for NaNo '04"

(c) 2011, 2004 by Savannah J. Frierson


Song Lyric - 'The worst is over now and we can breathe again. I wanna hold you high, you steal my pain away...' ~Seether and Amy Lee, "Broken"


His hand was sweaty, yet impossibly tight around hers as they ran across the quad towards an ill-located patch of trees…well, ill-located under normal circumstances.

The riot had been a long time coming, danced around and implicated in veiled words…even the looks between the students on campus held a promise of something--but no one knew it would be like this.

This was their own personal Watts, the explosion of frustration, anger and hurt unleashed by a people fed up with being second class; the searching for the explanation why their leader—their savior was shot to death on a Tennessee balcony six months ago…everyone thought they’d avoided such violence, such blatant disrespect of the status quo that many people—his people—fell into their safe, insular bubble of small-town Southern life.

But other people—her people—had had enough. This new generation would not kowtow to intimidation and threats. Dogs and water hoses didn’t scare them, at least not as much as the thought of being unfree did, and the well of patience had been overflowing long before now.

Yes, this clash was long overdue.

She stumbled over a hidden rock but he pulled her along, telling her they were almost there. The trees’ branches beckoned them, ready to ensconce them in their natural sanctuary. They’d reached their oasis, but he didn’t stop until they were well on the other side, at the farthest extremity from the Armageddon across the yard.

A gunshot sounded and she jumped. He leaned against the tree and brought her tight against him, hoping his arms would shield her from the ugliness they heard. It was hard to believe they were on opposite sides of the confrontation, right before the detonation. It was hard to believe they were such close friends in their single-digit years, he protecting her from hurtful words and teasing shoves.

Fifteen years later, he was doing the same. Looking across that invisible line, that arbitrary line, made him realize he didn’t like where he stood. He didn’t like being a physical representation of her unseen, deep-seeded oppression. His place was beside her, behind her, around her—not in front, and certainly not above. She’d looked at no one but him during the face-off, as if trying to reconcile the man before her with the boy she used to know.

The boy who promised to protect her always.

The riot’s noise was growing faint, and soon there was tense silence. His arms tightened around her, and he rested his chin atop her head. She burrowed into him, squeezing his arms around his middle. It was a familiar embrace, full of the childhood innocence that sheltered them from “the way things were;” but now there was a new feeling, a more profound aura.

It was the embrace of the way things could become.



Coming Home Tour Countdown - RJC Deleted Scene

Afternoon, everyone! Here's the second official blog post for the Coming Home Tour Countdown! This week, BJ and I are including deleted or extended scenes from our work; and for me, it was such a walk down memory lane. My goodness, Reconstructing Jada Channing especially has certainly grown and expanded from its original seed as my senior creative thesis novella; but the essence of Jada, Aaron, and Joshua has remained. In fact, this scene I'm going to post right now is one of the earliest drafts of their "post-thesis" story arc that I ever wrote, and I did it for a very good friend of mine who'd been holding my hand at the time--Thalia. I'm posting just as I sent it to her, so please forgive any errors or inconsistencies and enjoy!


~~~~~


"Squirt Drabble"


(c) 2011, 2004 by Savannah J. Frierson

His hands were cool from the punch glass he’d held previously, and they trailed from her bare, tense shoulders to settle on her abdomen, his arms tight around her waist he dropped a kiss to the space below her earlobe.

“Jada, honey,…relax…everything will be fine…”

“But he was cryin’ when we left—”

“Mama will take good care of Joshua, love; besides, she has done this type of thing before…”

Jada nodded and took a long sip from her own punch, her hand clutching the glass as if it were a lifeline. The wreaths, garland, ornaments, and other holiday fare did little to lift her sprits, though Christmas was one of her favorite times of year. It wasn’t as if this was the first time she’d left Joshua in the hands of a caregiver, but it was the first time anyone from Aaron’s side of the family did the caring. For years, it had been her grandmother or her cousin or even her best friend Deshae, but now they were in New York, being the proper New York socialite couple, and doing the rounds on the town in order to keep up business and appearances. Admittedly, Jada would rather be home with her son and even with her new mother-in-law, but this was part and parcel to being Mrs. Aaron Alexander McKensie, and she would have to get used to it eventually.

Aaron kissed her temple this time, the hands caressing her flat abdomen lightly. “I know this is new for you, Jaybird, but I promise nothing ill-toward will happen to you or my son…or the little one inside you now…”

She laughed shortly, giving him a playfully skeptical look. “Sometimes I wonder if you married me because I’m the mother of your children—”

“That’s not true,” he said emphatically, pulling away to meet her eyes. “I married you so you wouldn’t be the mother of someone else’s children!”

“Selfish rich boy—”

“And your rich boy, too. Only yours…”

He kissed her, in front of all those high-class people, and very unapologetic of his actions, she could tell. Suddenly she didn’t care everyone was staring at her, at least not at the moment, because all her attention was on the man holding her, showing his love for her in spite of everyone else telling him he shouldn’t.

That was what those stares meant, stares that said “you don’t belong”, or “you’re a fleeting fancy”; they were trying to place her, tolerating her because the heir to a multi-billion dollar empire chose her over something more appropriate.

Men didn’t marry girls like her; they sowed wild oats with girls like her. If anything she was fertile, becoming pregnant the two times he “sowed”, but Jada knew there was more to it than that. She and Aaron fit somehow, on such a deeper level even Jada couldn’t figure out why. But who was she to analyze it? Her grandmother always taught her to be thankful for the blessings she received, and she was certainly thankful for Aaron.

“Ahem.”

Jada tensed, but Aaron gently took her chin, not letting go until he was finished kissing her. He broke apart with smaller kisses, rubbing her cheek with his thumb in a contented gesture. Jada glanced at their new guest and offered a small smile, even as she dabbed Aaron’s mouth to wipe away imaginary lipstick.

Aaron tightened the arm around Jada’s waist and brought her closer to him, nodding curtly at their visitor. “Father.”

Alexander McKensie II stared at his new daughter-in-law shrewdly, as if searching for the flaw on her, and yet…“Flawless.”

“Isn’t she?” Aaron said even as he kissed her temple, bursting with pride. Jada could barely manage a “thank you”, so surprised by Alexander’s approval. It was no secret Alexander was against the marriage, particularly when Aaron’s former fiancĂ©e was the daughter of a wealthy partner, and joining of their children would’ve made them much wealthier men. But Alexander knew how his son felt, particularly when he was caught in the same conundrum with Aaron’s mother, and though they didn’t have the racial aspect to deal with, a parent’s disapproval was, nevertheless, a difficult hurdle to overcome.

“You’re enchanting everyone, child.” That was certainly a view, but Jada was much better with her “thank you”, this time. “Anyway, I’m actually here to pass on a message from Izzy, or rather, my grandson: ‘I want Mommy,’ I believe, is the request…”

Jada sighed even as Aaron hid his laughter in the crown of her head. Even Alexander’s mouth twitched with mirth, but he cleared his throat and kept his composure, looking every bit the sophisticate. “I feel the party can survive without your presence, Son.”

“I never liked coming to these company parties anyway, Father,” Aaron muttered under his breath.

Alexander raised his eyebrow and scratched the side of his nose briefly. “Indeed…give your mother and my grandson a kiss for me, shall we?” The older man bussed Jada’s knuckles before disappearing back into the crowd and wielding the McKensie charm.

“I daresay father is warming up to you…” Aaron said into her hair as he led them to the coat check.

“He terrifies me.”

“He’s really a big ole softie…just ask Mama…”

“He loves your mother,” Jada said by way of explanation.

The checker retrieved their coats and Aaron helped Jada into her mink before putting on his own wool trench. Hand in hand, they left the party going down to the garage where the valet sent for their limousine. Jada was still unused to the world of valets and cars she didn’t have to drive, and she grasped Aaron’s hand harder in reflex.

He kissed the back of her newly gloved hand and winked at her, tipping the valet as their ride appeared. Aaron assisted her first, then entered, settling in the seat with Jada close to his side as they traveled to their penthouse on Madison Avenue. They said little on the trip home, Aaron alternating between caressing her hair and her shoulders, and she just anxious to get home to her little boy.

When they finally reached their home, Jada nodded a quick hello to the bellhop before rushing to the elevators, Aaron’s laughter following her the whole while. She had the urge to shut the elevator doors in her husband’s face, but changed her mind at the last second.

“He’s my son, too,” he teased, taking her hand again.

“He ain’t ask for you now did he?”

“Harsh, love, harsh…”

The elevator couldn’t get to the 25th floor fast enough, and Aaron had to squeeze her hand to calm her. When they finally reached the blessed floor, Jada pushed the “Door Open” button repeatedly until the doors crept open. She exited as soon as there was enough room to pass through, yet she was so anxious that once she reached the door to her apartment, she rang the doorbell instead of unlocking the door. Aaron knew better than to interfere with his wife’s mission so he hung back, keeping his humor to himself.

Isabella opened the door, but there was no sign of Joshua.

“Where is he?”

Isabella grinned, kissing Jada, then Aaron on the cheek. “The little darling is asleep! I just called Alexander so you two could come home…I know how absolutely horrid those parties are—it’s a trick I used when Aaron was younger!”

Jada’s brown eyes sparkled as she glanced from mother to son, clearly impressed. “I’ll have to use that trick more often!”

Aaron laughed, helping Jada out of her coat. “Why don’t you just not go to the parties at all?”

“Even better!”

Jada gave Isabella a large hug. “Joshie wasn’t too much trouble, was he?”

“A darling, he was, an absolute darling. You’ve raised him beautifully, Jada…”

“Thanks,” she replied on a deep sigh. She looked to her husband and shrugged. “I’m going to check on him anyway…”

Aaron nodded and smiled, his eyes following her progress as she went down the hall to their son’s bedroom.

Isabella went to her son, holding grasping his upper arms. “Need me to do anything else?”

Aaron snorted. “Probably save Papa from his own party.”

“He insisted on throwing it,” Isabella said unapologetically, thanking her son as he helped her into her coat. “I tell him every year not to, but he never listens…”

“He will one day.”

“Eh. He’s stubborn…like his son…” Aaron blushed but Isabella cupped her son’s cheeks. “I’m proud of you, Aaron.”

“Love you, Mama.”

With one last kiss, Isabella left, and Aaron went down the hall, undoing his tuxedo as he went. Jada was sitting on Joshua’s bed, brushing the curls from his forehead, unaware of his presence in the doorway.

“All fingers and toes accounted for?” Aaron asked in jest.

Jada never looked from her son. “Everything’s perfect.” She kissed Joshua’s forehead before leaving the bed and going to her husband. She wrapped her arms around him and accepted his kiss before snuggling into him. “Everything is absolutely perfect.”

“Good. Let’s call it a night, shall we?”

And as she lay in the bed that night, Jada realized it didn’t matter if high class New York didn’t think she fit in; this was where she belonged, safe in Aaron’s arms as their son slept peacefully down the hall.



Friday, July 29, 2011

Question Set #1 - Coming Home Tour Countdown

I think these will be simple, yes? Yes. Remember, answers only count if they're replies to this blog post; no e-mails!

1.) What is Jada Channing's college alma mater?

2.) What is Coralee Simmons's college alma mater?

3.) In which city/town is Coralee's alma mater located?


Good luck!



Coming Home...Well, One of Aaron and Jada's Homes...

I drive up the Spanish moss–canopied dirt lane toward the big house of LeMay Plantation, mouth agape, but I don’t care. The A/C of my late-model Volvo is on full blast even though it is not yet noon in Beaufort, SC, and perspiration breaks at my temple.

But I suppose that has to do more with nerves than anything else.

I park beside an even older-model gold Acura and grin. My clothes stick to her skin as soon as I get out of my car, and my polarized shades seem to make the Old-South scene even grander without them. I walk by more automobiles, not the least bit surprised at the Buick crossover or the Porsche SUV, and start to twirl a soft coil of her hair as I approach the vast porch and front door. I’m far too old to fidget the way I am, but I don’t much care, and I ring the doorbell.

A small, yet regal woman opens the door and tears immediately spring into my eyes; and they only come faster when another woman, with gray hair now streaking her head, stands beside the first. I hide my face in my hands, but they pulled them away, and the younger one wraps me in her arms. The elder rubs my back.

Savannah J. Frierson (SJF): Oh, my goodness, I’m so sorry, I didn’t…I hadn’t…

Coralee Simmons Drummond (CSD): Mama’s crying.

Jada Channing McKensie: (JCM): Can you blame her? We’re basically her kids!

CSD: All grown up.

JCM: Yes, we are! You’re proud of us, aren’t you?

SJF: *Nods* I have no words, none at all. I just want to thank you so much—

CSD: Ma, I don’t know why you’re thanking us!

JCM: Seriously! Without you, we wouldn’t even be here!

CSD: And that’s just a tragedy to even think about!

JCM: But in the meantime, come on in! It’s hot as Hades outside and Miss Coralee made some sweet tea!

CDS: And Jada made those sweet rolls…I don’t know why you made her make these delicious sweet rolls—don’t know whether to cuss you or praise you!

They loop one of their arms through each of mine and usher me inside, Jada pausing to close the door behind her. The space is modern, updated, and gorgeous, with plush furniture, carpeting, and rich hardwood floors. It takes everything I have not to whip out my PDA to look up the type of wood that had been used.

They lead me to the screen-in porch overlooking the marsh where two men were watching something on their pad PDA. They suddenly shout and the elder one does an awkward jig that makes me snort. Both men look up, and the dancing man immediately smiles and all but runs toward me.

Benjamin Drummond (BD): *hugs me tightly* Savannah J. Frierson, as I live and breathe!

CDS: And snore—be glad it’s not naptime!

BD: *pouts* You’re not funny, Ceelee.

JCM: I’ll have to disagree with that; I think she’s hilarious!

BD: Freda’s still a bad influence—

Aaron McKensie (AM): I see your bad influence and raise you Deshae Green.

BD: *grins* I bet Deshae learned at Freda’s knee.

JCM: *laughs* You just like her because she flirts with you all the time!

CDS: Deshae flirts with everyone all the time.

BD: She has good taste, darlin’; what’s it the kids used to say—don’t hate!

Everyone groans except Jada, who giggles into my shoulder.

BD: *scowls* You should be nicer to your elders, Miss Jada.

Jada rolls her eyes but kisses Benjamin’s cheek, and he beams. I try to hover at the door, as if to make a break for it, but Coralee shakes her head and leads me to the couch. Aaron is there and wraps me in a far less exuberant but no less intimate hug, and I all but cling to him.

AM: Hello, love.

SJF: You shouldn’t call me that.

AM: I do a lot of things I shouldn’t…and all of them with your tacit permission!

JCM: Naw! Don’t even try to blame her for your ninja sperm! Knocking me up like you did!

AM: Did she, or did she not, allow me to be your husband?

CSD: Ooh…you hear how he said that, Benny? Never too old to take notes, baby!

BD: Notes! Ha! I lecture now—paid my dues and all those student loans already!

JCM: Let’s not discuss student loans.

AM: You know she still brings up the fact I paid hers?

JCM: I gotta keep our kids humble, Aaron McKensie! Some of us didn’t come out poopin’ Benjamins out our butts!

BD: Excuse me?

CSD: Amen!

Aaron and Benjamin sigh heavily but sit next to their wives. Benny wraps an arm around Coralee shoulders while Aaron tangles his fingers with Jada’s. I search around for a place to sit, but Coralee pats the space between them.

CSD: You’re sitting right here right now.

I blanche. It’s not in me to refuse an elder, except, technically, I’m older, but old lessons are hard to unlearn. As soon as I sit two extremely handsome young men enter with trays full of food and pitchers of drink, and I have to blink. The McKensie boys are certainly not babies anymore!

Charles Augustus “Chaz” McKensie (CM): Ohh! Hey, I’m Chaz—but you already know that, and I love older women—but you already know that too. Yes, I will marry you—you probably didn’t know that, but you do now—

Joshua Alexander Channing McKensie (JAM): *kisses my cheek, effectively interrupting his brother* Did you know he’d be this silly when you wrote him?

SJF: *laughs* He was initially Ava, but then Chaz realized Iman was going to be born and decided jump in my head and skip line.

Jada glares at her husband.

JCM: Savannah, how many kids was I originally supposed to have?

SJF: *shifts uncomfortably* Two. A boy and a girl.

AM: Double your pleasure, double your fun!

The wide grin he gives leaves Jada unmoved and she rolls her eyes.

CSD: I’m appreciative of the one you gave me.

I squeeze Coralee’s hand.

SJF: That’s all I saw; I’m sorry.

BD: *kisses his wife’s temple.* Simone is perfect. I don’t even mind that Powell boy she married.

CSD: Also known as your godson.

AM: Like that makes a difference!

JCM: It should! Acting like these boys are brand spanking new—

AM: Operative word is boy!

I shared a look with Coralee and Jada, and we all rolled our eyes. Joshua and Chaz had already made their getaways.

SJF: I’m not getting in the middle of it, other than to say, you know your girls could do much worse than the sons of family friends you love and trust.

CSD: Amen!

JCM: They want to keep their daughters five years old; it doesn’t work that way.

BD: It should!

CSD: If it did, you wouldn’t have these daughters in the first place because you wouldn’t have us!

That makes the men pause for a split second, but then they both shake their heads.

BD: We’re different!

JCM: *snorts* Unicorns?

AM: Leprechauns!

CSD: You’re too tall to be a leprechaun, dear.

AM: I don’t know the Italian equivalent.

JCM: How about an ass?

AM: *smirks* You like my ass.

Jada huffs but can’t control her grin when her husband starts necking her. I sigh with exasperation, thinking of how they’ve only gotten worse with the public displays of affection the longer I’ve known them. If they weren’t so adorable, my teeth would ache. Coralee and Benjamin, on the other hand, spent most of their time gently teasing each other, although it is mostly Benjamin doing the teasing and Coralee giggling. She still has her gorgeous smile and Benjamin still stares at her as if she were the most beautiful creation God has ever made.

BD: Felix sends his love, by the way. He’d be here but he’s at St. Simon’s with the missus.

CSD: And Felix has aged very well, I can assure you—

Benjamin clears his voice much more loudly than is required. My PDA dings and I notice a forward from Aaron. I open it and I see a thirty-page invoice attached.

AM: That’s Rodrigo’s therapy bill for making him have all girls.

JCM: Karma is such a beautiful thing!

My PDA dings again and this time it’s an e-mail from Veronica with a picture of her family attached.

JCM: We’re going to meet up around Christmas, I believe, babe?

AM: New Year’s. We’re going to India for our wedding anniversary.

JCM: Twenty-three years?

AM: That’s it?

They laugh as they kiss and Coralee winks at me.

CSD: Well, I’ve felt every single one of our fifty years.

BD: We cannot have been married for fifty years when you barely look a day over forty.

CSD: That’s actually really mean; My head wasn’t this gray when I was forty!

Benjamin kisses the top of her head and holds her close. Jada and Aaron look at them fondly.

JCM: I wanna be y’all when I grow up.

AM: I thought you wanted to be my parents.

JCM: I want to be anyone who makes it. I certainly don’t want to be my parents…

SJF: *squeezes her shoulder* Sorry about that.

JCM: I just love you left off all those revelations out the first book. Like the stuff about my dad and my brother.

Aaron looks everywhere but at them and I arch an eyebrow, popping a bite of a sweet roll in my mouth. He really hadn’t been on his best behavior during that period, and it’s only by my mercy I haven’t put him on blast yet for the public to see. But if he keeps on being such a hard-nose about Ava and her boo, that may have to change.

SJF: I didn’t know most of those revelations until the book was over, and that’s not my fault; out of all of my characters, you all talk the most and just keep telling me things all the time!

BD: We don’t bother you, Savannah…then again, that’s because Felix hogging the microphone.

SJF: Felix is a sweetie; always has been. He waited, what, two years before deciding to tell me his story. Bless his heart.

CSD: Say that again. I love Felix and I’m glad he’s finally getting his story told; although he would like an ETA of when it’ll be finished.

I take a long gulp of my sweet tea and blush at Coralee’s laugh.

CSD: I know you’ll finish it, sweetheart. You’ve got a lot of demands upon you.

BD: Interlopers.

AM: Excuse me? If I recall, Mr. Drummond, Savannah had been working on our story for months until something called “National Novel Writing Month” and “thesis angst” got her to start writing your story—

BD: Ours is better—

JCM: Oh, my goodness, I’m so sorry

CSD: You didn’t just turn into a five year old before our eyes, did you?

BD: Everyone says so!

Aaron glowers at the coffee table and Jada rubs his back. I shake my head and shrug.

SJF: I cannot control audience response. Your stories resonate differently, but I love you both. Jada and Aaron’s story will always have a special place in my heart because they were first and they’ve been with me the longest; from them, I’ve spun off so many stories; but without you, Benny and Ceelee, I don’t have the universe I’ve somehow started to create. I’m so glad you chose me to tell your stories, and that’s all I’m going to say on that matter.

Jada and Coralee hug me and Aaron stands, stretching.

AM: I’m hungry. Are you hungry?

BD: *stands with help from his wife* I think I smell your son making more of those sweet rolls?

The men leave us alone and Jada and Coralee laugh, both leaning forward conspiratorially.

JCM: So…what’s this I hear about Joshie’s story being written?

CSM: And my grandbaby, Freelee, I hear tell there is some percolating going on with her story!

I laugh and eat more of the sweet roll and give a coy shrug.

SJF: Joshua’s story is already written and your granddaughter is like the wind—can’t really catch it for long. But if Freelee sits down long enough, her story will be told. I promise.

CSM: Good. Nothing like love to get you to slow down, huh, Jada Mae?

JCM: Nothing like it at all!



So It Begins...COMING HOME Countdown!



Hello, everyone! Welcome to the "Blog Countdown" to BJ's and my Coming Home Tour! The title comes from the title of Reconstructing Jada Channing's sequel Coming Home, and it features everyone's favorite preschooler (or, hell, just mine) Joshua Channing McKensie and his lady love. I wrote that story the same way I wrote Being Plumville--as a National Novel Writing Month project, and I enjoyed revisiting my very first original couple ever--Jada and Aaron.

I can't call this trip to Atlanta a "full-circle" trip, because that's not what it is. Rather, it's a coming home to a place that, while isn't my hometown, is a literary "headquarters" for me and my characters. I felt, after over six years of knowing and loving the characters of these two stories in particular, it was time to take a much more intimate tour of their haunts and homes. And I have awesome partners with which to do this--BJ Thornton and you!

My relationship with BJ...I don't exactly remember how it started other than a mutual stanning of each other's work. I'm beyond excited for her new release, The Way That You Play It, and I hope you all check it out. Trent and Caroline are a phenomenal couple, and that's all I'mma say so you all have to go out and read it! Don't believe me? Check out the interview BJ did with the couple!

If you want an opportunity to maybe even interview us in person, make sure you come down to Atlanta on August 20th, 2011, where we'll be having a very low-key meet and greet in the Westin Peachtree Lobby from 2pm - 4pm, followed by dinner and a live performance at Smith's Old Bar starting at 6pm. Please bring your books if you want them signed, as we won't be selling any...but we'll be giving away copies! In order to be in the running for my giveaway, all you have to do is answer three questions correctly that pertain to either Reconstructing Jada Channing or Being Plumville, which I will post on my blog--and you don't have to attend the Meet and Greet to win (although it would be sweet if you could join us!). Questions will be up until the next Friday and answers only count if replied onto the blogpost--no e-mails please.

Good luck and thank you all for your support!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Coming Home to Atlanta!




I'm so excited to be doing this venture with my girl and fantastic, fantastic author BJ Thornton! This was just an idea that came about and we said, hey, why not?! Watch this space tomorrow because there is going to be a treat I'm sure you all will enjoy!



Saturday, July 16, 2011

What's a Month and Three-Quarters Between Friends?

For all of my desire and desire to write, which is a form of communication, I am actually very bad at it when it comes to the essence of myself. I recently had a "Come to Jesus" conversation, one I'd avoided for five months because 1.) there were things on the horizon that needed to come to fruition before we spoke and 2.) I was anxious about it. And there is no better procrastinator than a writer for a lot of things. Let's recap--I don't have a major book deal; I haven't released a new book in almost a year; I haven't finished a project in half a year; I'm working a job that isn't the glitzy and glamorous one folks would expect for a Harvard graduate. But I talked him down from the ledge, basically letting him know that I had options on how to get where I need and want to be. He felt better afterwards, and I can admit I did as well. Apparently, I needed to talk it out and not just let it swarm in my mind until it becomes a convoluted mess.

As for the hiatus from this blog, that wasn't even remotely intentional...I'd had two very bad conversations with my uncle and with my father within days of my birthday. I was hot. I was pissed. And that funky mood had lasted weeks, exacerbated by ToM showing up quite uninvited at my door and sending my mood beyond the depths of hell. I did what I normally did when I was bothered and upset--kept it inside. Went silent. Packed it away and kept it moving. When Father's Day rolled around, my father told my sister he wasn't expecting a phone call from me because I was mad at him when we spoke last.

Really?

To complicate matters, sometime before, I had two of my closest friends over for a day at the beach...which ended up being a day at my apartment complex because it was too damn hot and gas was too damn high to drive to damn far to the too damn crowded beach. We started talking about relationships and sex, which drifted to me talking about my inexperience with both and referencing a previous post about me mentioning my molestation. This was the first time one of my friends had heard this story because she hadn't read that blog, and she became incredibly upset. I'd refused to say who it'd been because I'm not trying to see any one of them on the evening news, but they'd reiterated something my friend BJ had been telling me for a while now--I don't let myself feel things. The hard things. The passionate things. And if I can't feel those things, I won't be able to experience the very things I want to experience--relationships, love, loving.

Maybe I needed these almost two months to process all of that, because I know I still hold back a lot of the times in my writing. The more I write, the more I'm getting better at letting go and letting flow, but I still have tremendous work to do. Strong emotions overwhelm and many times frighten me, because when I give into them, I say things I can't take back...and probably things I wouldn't want to take back, if I'm honest with myself. I'd be laid bare and then what? This trepidation applies for good and bad feelings too.

I've blown up two notable times, and it was really bad, to the point it's legend in the family. Because I am a writer, and I know how to string thoughts together, I could be very adroit in how to make it so words not only hurt, but pulverize, or make it so they're soaked with sap, because that's the depth of emotion I feel. But in my family, we're generally not allowed to feel that deeply--good or bad--or at the very least acknowledge that we do. So I retreat inward so I can pack it down enough in order to operate "business as usual". The things that truly, deep-down hurt me, I discuss as if I am a reporter with cool detachment so I don't focus on the nitty-gritty feelings. It's disingenuous. It shortchanges me as a full person with full feelings, and I need to work on that.

Yeah, it almost took me two months to admit that...this was supposed to be a short blog update too.

Slight confession regarding those two bad conversations after my birthday--I'd felt so invigorated when I expressed my irritation with my father and didn't let my uncle make his irritation my irritation. I'd stood by both of my feelings and was proud of myself for doing so.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

My 28th Born Day

Today is my birthday. I went out and had breakfast at the Cracker Barrel by myself, and got a phone call from my grandmother’s cousin while I was there. Then I went grocery shopping because the world didn’t end as I was promised, and I bought myself a birthday cheesecake—the cashier wished me a happy birthday. After that, I was at home and did some reading and hung out on the Internet, but I was also answering the most Facebook birthday greetings I’d ever received thus far and spoke with my sister and my father and my friends. I went to dinner at IHOP because the Chinese place where I wanted to eat didn’t deliver and the woman hung up on me after she told me! Then came back home and spoke to more relatives.

All this to say, I spent my birthday alone, but the universe didn’t dare allow me to be lonely. It was a good birthday. J