Thursday, June 28, 2007

Harper Lee: Dropping the Mic--A Tutorial

I just finished reading To Kill a Mockingbird today. Harper Lee is the most GANGSTA white woman evar in life. Okay, one of the most gangsta. I loved the book. Absolutely loved it. I'm in love with Atticus Finch. Do I care the man is fictional and old enough to be my great-granddaddy? Hells naw. His sense of humor was fantastic, but more than that, his sense of decency and respect. I just . . . you don't see people like that NOW, let alone back in the day, and him being a white person at that. The way he taught his lessons to Scout and Jem . . . the way he led by example, with quiet humility . . . they don't make me like him like that anymore, or if they do, they're invisible. Got to be.

But back to Goddess Lee . . . sheer brilliance to use a young white girl to narrate the story, someone who has yet to be prejudiced in the ways of the older generation, whose lessons are tempered with a man who is far ahead of his (and, let's face it) our time, whose older brother is a sponge to his father's lessons, to Dill, whose little heart is broken by the things he saw take place in the courthouse. Even Dolphus Raymond and Miss Maudie Atkinson and Mr. Heck Tate and Link Dees . . . Mr. Walter Cunningham who all teach Scout something about the politics and nuances of living in the South, nay, the country, and in turn, the reader. "Good" people do bad things, allow things to happen, place the onus on one so the entire community can go on like it does. That a town has no problem sending a man to his death because it's "inevitable", the speech Atticus makes, his closing argument . . . *fans self*. I wish there were more Atticuses in the country.

And THEN The fact she was one and done . . . I mean, does she need a follow up? She wrote what many writers aspire to write in one go. Do I care if Truman Capote helped her? Not one damn bit. HER name is on that book. Nothing wrong with assistance . . . Symbiotic relationships, if you will

Yeah, if you haven't read it, read it. This is a book I'm going to read again because I KNOW I missed some things the first time. Speaking of, I need to read Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry again. So overdue. That's a Comparative Lit paper if I ever read one!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

AJ's Serendipity 9

Update! Go to Aliyah's site or to SYG to read the entire chapter. Have a great Sunday!


“What are you reading, handsome?”

AJ looked up to see a stunning redhead with smooth, alabaster skin; bright, blue eyes; and perfectly bee-stung pink lips grinning at him. There was a dusting of freckles on her bare shoulders that added to her attractiveness. Her hair was a heavy, wavy curtain draped over one shoulder, clearly meant to entice. If there was no Samara, he would’ve been.

Returning her smile, AJ showed her the cover of the book, and she appeared to nod in approval. “Do you like it so far?”

“I’ve not been displeased.”

The redhead’s smile widened and she held out a hand. “Noelle.”

AJ used the index finger of his left hand as a bookmark and shook Noelle’s hand with his right. “AJ.”

“A strong grip,” Noelle said, her blue eyes looking at their joined hands briefly before meeting his gaze again. “Nice.”

AJ smiled again and eased his hand from hers. “Thanks.”

It was odd not to have the desire to flirt. He felt decidedly out of his element. Flirting had been as second nature as breathing to him before he had met Samara. Now, all he wanted to be was left alone with the book Samara had insisted he read. He knew the woman was interested in him, but AJ didn’t know how to tell her he wasn’t—he’d never had to do such a thing before.

“Leaving or going?” Noelle asked.

He blinked at the text in confusion before turning his green eyes to her. “Sorry?”

“Home. Leaving or going? Although I hear a faint accent, so I’m assuming leaving . . .”

He smiled genuinely as an image of Samara appeared in his mind. “Going. Definitely going.”

Saturday, June 23, 2007

What kind of writer am I?

Or more specifically, if you had to categorize my writing, where would you put it? There's no wrong answer per se, although if you say "horror" I think I'd cry a little lol. As I start submitting manuscripts to agents, etc, I find it is difficult to categorize some of my work. Gym Story, I think is obviously a romance, but is RJC? It's a little frustrating, because I just write the stories and worry about the other things such as genre later, if at all, but as I realize agents/editors/publishers like categories, it makes someone like me a little more challenging I suppose. Anyway, I'm in a reflective mood. I hope everyone is having a great weekend, and AJ's Serendipity will be up tomorrow as usual.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

AJ's Serendipity 8

Here is an update. You can either go to Aliyah's site or my group. The excerpt is below, and Happy Father's Day!



Samara took a deep breath, and then buried her face in his chest. AJ held her fast to him, his face concealed by the top of her head. He loved her. He loved this woman. Somewhere deep inside him, he knew she loved him in return. It wasn’t right they had to be separated like this.

“I’ll be here in the morning,” he vowed. “Don’t worry about the taxi; I’ll get it for you. Four-thirty.”

“Thank you,” Samara said. “But you don’t have to, though—”

“I do,” AJ murmured, kissing her temple. “You know I do. We’ll exchange information then.”

She nodded and pulled back, sliding trembling fingers to his cheeks. They then went across his lips and his nose, and his eyelids fluttered shut.

“Wow, I’m going to miss you,” she sighed.

“Not for long,” AJ said, lifting up his mouth to kiss her palm. “We won’t be separated for long.”

Her eyes held her skepticism, but she mercifully kept her mouth closed. AJ bent his head and kissed her softly. “Sweet dreams, Samara. See you in a few hours.”

Both he and Spyros were solemn and quiet on their way to their flat building. When they reached their individual doors, AJ decided to break the silence.

“Are you coming with me tomorrow morning?”

“Yeah,” Spyros said. “I’d like to say goodbye.”

AJ nodded once. “Then I suggest we’d get some sleep then.”

But sleep didn’t come, at least not for AJ. As soon as he entered his flat, he placed a call to a local taxi service and requested a pick up at four in the morning in front of the flat building. Afterwards, he undressed and climbed into bed, but he was too wired to rest. His mind kept thinking of things he wanted to do, of the life he had begun to plan with Samara since seeing her in the market. Five days? Five days might as well be five minutes as far as AJ was concerned. It wasn’t long enough, yet he shouldn’t be ungrateful for God’s gift. That was what Samara was, a gift. His and his alone. How could he in good conscience let her get on that plane to be flown out of his life for who knew how long? But he would, because it was to be.

For now.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

#1 NYT Bestseller

I just finished reading The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. I figured if two different people recommend the book to me (and by two people, I mean these two people probably have no business knowing one other, being one was from SC and one was from Boston), then perhaps I should read it. I'm glad I did, and I understand why it was a bestseller, #1 at that. It was not a fun book to read, a nice fluffy book to read. It was a sad, melancholy book--written in the first person no less. There is rape, murder, suicide, betrayal, despair, hopelessness . . . and yet so simplistically human that one cannot help but to appreciate it. There were no fluffy words, overly-complex sentences that take away from the narrative. This was Mr. Hosseini's debut novel, and it was a fantastic one. It's not a romance, and I'll be honest and say I don't generally read non-romance books, but at the heart of it there is the desire for love, compassion, forgiveness. The reader takes a look in a place few people will ever visit, nor will they have the desire to visit, especially American readers. He humanized that demonized country of Afghanistan, and yet Mr. Hosseini's story of redemption isn't new. In fact, it is one of the oldest stories any human can tell. The ending wasn't neatly wrapped up with a bright bow on the top, but it was open-ended, allowing the reader to see the horizon of hope just as the protagonist does. The simple storytelling, and by simple I mean unobtrusive, is what I appreciated the most as a writer. No need to revolutionize the English language to write a compelling book after all. Straightforward writing, love it.

Anyway, I encourage folks to read it (because bestseller or not, one can never have too many readers of a book apparently :) ) and I'll check out Hosseini's latest book A Thousand Splendid Suns.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Scaling Back and Moving Forward

Hi everyone, I took down most of the excerpts to Gym Story and Vietnam Story since I won't be posting anymore updates on either story anymore, but I kept up the first few for refresher. I'm about to start pubbing Gym Story, and since I plan on pubbing Vietnam Story, I figured that was the best thing for me to do. Nevertheless, for you folks in SC, more importantly, Richland County--you can check out my book soon! This is a big deal to have your book stocked in a library, and I'm humbled and hug my hometown and city *squeezes Columbia and Blythewood*. The books aren't available yet, but soon. So exciting!


Sunday, June 10, 2007

AJ's Serendipity 7 and Tags

Hi everyone! Happy Sunday! Here is part 7 to AJ's Serendipity. Go visit Aliyah Burke's new site and blog! It's beautiful.

Also, I guess to "celebrate" her new site, she tagged me. Pft. Lucky I like her so . . .

Here are the rules:
1. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
2.People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
3. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
4. Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged, and to read your blog.

Here are my eight random facts. Enjoy!

1) I play(ed) the viola from elementary school to high school, and some in college, and after graduation (as in the day of) I was on a bus to play at Carnegie Hall with the school district orchestra.
2) I can be heard singing background on Kate Schutt's track Peter Please on her Heart-Shot CD.
3) I don't really like chocolate unless it's wrapped around peanut butter, although I do love hot chocolate.
4) I used to write fan fiction.
5) My favorite Harry Potter character is Severus Snape, followed closely by Albus Dumbledore, and my least favorite character is Harry Potter. Go fig.
6) I am shy.
7) I got into every college to which I applied (5).
8) I multitask because I cannot focus too long on one thing, and if I do, it's an accident :-P

I don't think I know 8 people to tag who haven't already been, so if you want to do this, then feel free.

Anyway, here's an excerpt to Part 7:

She was nude.

There were no straps on her shoulders, and he knew for a fact the swimsuit she’d been wearing had straps. Also, given the way her cheeks were more red than caramel, it seemed she realized he figured out what her current state was.

“Samara?” he asked, confused and a little humbled. “Why?”

She shrugged and took a deep breath, licking her lips. “You asked me to trust you. I said I did, but . . . I haven’t been proving that very well. You also said you wouldn’t hurt me, and I do believe that, too. So . . . I’m doing the final thing you wanted me to do—be myself. This is she, all one hundred eighty pounds of her. I don’t think I’m ever going to get smaller, but I will probably get larger, so I reckon this is the best I’m ever gonna look—”

His mouth cut off the rest of the garbage coming from her mouth, him finally crossing the final distance between them to do so. He gathered her body to him, felt it tremble so violently that he broke the kiss and tucked her face into his neck.

“Shh, my love,” he murmured into her wet hair. He caressed her bare back gently. “It’s okay. Relax. Just feel me. Get used to my body.”

She was so soft and pliant. He loved the armful she made, how every one of her curves fit into his hard body. He swam them over to the ladder and set her on a rung, but still kept her close. Her breasts were mashed into his chest, her nipples hard. Soft, womanly. How could she think he wouldn’t it find it glorious?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

My Mistress Is Music

Let it be known that I think I am a better writer than I am a singer, which might not be saying much, though I do think I'm a fairly decent writer, so I reckon that means I can carry a fairly acceptable tune. In college, I joined The Kuumba Singers of Harvard College and I did the choir, and the subgroup Sisters of Kuumba for all four years. I knew I liked music before, but this choir just opened up an entirely new creative side of me that I'd been rather hesitant and shy and unsure to embrace. I don't know if I've still fully done it, but definitely more than I had before I joined the choir. If I couldn't write, I'd want to be a singer, which is, incidentally, not the world's most ideal backup job in the world. There are so many people who I have met who are doing the do who came from the choir: Soulfege, Johanna, Shelby Braxton-Brooks, and so many others who are going on to be doctors, lawyers, community leaders, future anythings and everythings.

(Singing Guide My Feet at Black Alumni Weekend at Harvard in '06. And yes, I'm in that clip and so is sis, shout out! :D)

Nevertheless, I've been listening to some tracks from the new CD they just put out, Our Spirit Stands (yes, I'm on some of the tracks, no solo . . . well, not really . . .), and they've been very necessary to my life right now, particularly Call on the Name of the Lord and Shout and Spiritual Medley, but particularly the first two. The soloist for both is Teddy Maynard, whose voice was hand-installed by God himself, and the tracks were written by Sheldon Reid, the director of the choir, as well as two other student members (for the first song, CotNotL). I just go to this place of right. Hold on, just a little while longer . . . sometimes you need that encouragement, that reminder. I sing those songs, the songs of my ancestors, their melodious diaries and I pray I am the manifestation of their fervent hopes. I know some of my peers and contemporaries can make us shake the head, but there are others, more than others who are doing the do, but hey don't make the evening news. Keep on keepin' on, because as you know the revolution won't be televised.

(This is Teddy sangin' in the Spring Concert this year. The actual name of the song above is Living for More, also written by Sheldon Reid. No, I'm not in that clip. I'm in the audience ackin' a foo' like a good alumna ;). )

But, since I've been out the choir, I realize I miss singing. I sing in my room, which probably annoys my poor neighbors, but I really miss it. I could re-join the choir, but my time in that has passed I believe. It's time for the new members to shine and be dope, and I enjoy watching and listening to them as much as I did singing in it. But, if you're ever in the Cambridge area in the beginning of December or the end of April, or if you hear about Kuumba touring in your town, I encourage you to go listen. They're phenomenal.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

AJ's Serendipity 6

Hi everyone, the radio interview went well, and Ms. Robinson was very nice! It was a good experience :).

And, in the spirit of such a good interview (and because it's Sunday) there is an update of AJ's Serendipity. We are on part 6 now, so I hope you enjoy. You can either follow the link or go to the google group to read. Below is an excerpt :).


“You want to see the painting?”

Her eyes went wide and she nodded, scrambling to her feet. AJ led them into his bedroom where he tore off the brown paper that covered the art. When the framed painting was revealed, both let out a gasp of awe.

“Oh, my,” Samara breathed. “Oh, wow . . .”

Even though he had seen it before, he was just as breathless as Samara. The painter had a hell of a lot more talent than one should have when painting for pennies and tourists. Or maybe it was just he and Samara who had inspired the masterpiece before them. It was as if the artist had captured the love they felt between them, had seen it before they did themselves. AJ thought back to what the artist had said, about him and Samara being in love. Can two people fall in love in an hour? Enough for strangers to see? How could this artist see and Samara . . .

There were tears falling down her cheeks as she gazed at the art. Concerned, AJ lifted her face to his and used a gentle thumb to wipe away her tears.


“You . . .” she began, then shook her head and looked back at the painting. “I never . . .”

“You never what, darling?”

“That look . . . you only see that look in movies.”

“The look?” AJ repeated, staring at the painting in confusion.

Samara licked her lips and glanced at him helplessly. “It’s only been three days . . . that painting . . .”

AJ caught on, and he grinned despite the hammering the heart was doing inside his chest. “He gave us the painting for free because of that look, Samara. What he captured in that painting . . . it’s as rare as it is pure. And it’s true. Dear God, Samara . . . it’s so true.”

Friday, June 01, 2007

Radio Interview

So as a change of pace, I decided to announce the fact I'm going to be on the radio BEFORE I actually am instead of AFTER. It's a new concept I'm trying out lol. Anyway, this Sunday from 2-3PM I will be on WILD 1090 AM in Boston for Studio V with Victoria Howard Robinson. I don't know if there is a way to listen online, but hopefully I'll get a tape someway so I can listen to myself (even though I really don't like the sound of my own voice, but eh, what can you do.) If you're in the New England area, I hope you can listen! I'll be talking about Being Plumville at the very least, so yeah. That's the announcement :).