Friday, December 31, 2010

Reverb 10: Day 31 - Core Story

December 31Core Story.
What central story is at the core of you, and how do you share it with the world? (Bonus: Consider your reflections from this month. Look through them to discover a thread you may not have noticed until today.)

My core story is love--love of self, love of others, believing that one is lovable and deserves to be love. That's the story I always strive to tell in my writing. That's the story I'm trying to tell for myself. Love doesn't just apply to the perfect people; one does not need to be perfect to give or receive it. All it needs to be is genuine, without an agenda. People want to give their love, and it's such a better life when one loves him or herself unconditionally. The problem is, it's very difficult, especially in a society where love is codefied with socially accepted beauty, with parameters on who can love whom, with the desert of love is supposedly directly correlated with things that really don't matter in the long run. I write to show people are people, and I'm learning I"m fine just the way I am; lovable just the way I am; that I need to love me, because I'm always with me. If I love myself, I'll never have to worry about being unloved again, and that will be a fantastic thing to know and understand. You receive what you put out in the universe; as soon as I put out that I am lovable and capable of loving, that will be the kind of energy I'll attract in my life, and that's the kind of energy that I not only want, but I truly need as well.

Everyone, thank you for keeping up with me and have a very Happy New Year (and Kuumba!)!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Reverb 10: Day 30 – Gift

December 30Gift.
This month, gifts and gift-giving can seem inescapable. What’s the most memorable gift, tangible or emotional, you received this year?

The gift of acceptance, and it's a gift I gave myself. Learning to accept the good things, to accept the things I cannot change, and to even accept bad things will happen to you, and how to flip it so that I may learn and grow from it. Learning to accept myself and accept that people have already accepted me, and sometimes it's not my place to know why.

Reverb 10: Days 28 - 29

December 28Achieve.
What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful? Write that feeling down. Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today.

I want to be prolifically read next year; meaning, I want people to be able to read my work in such a way that publishers know I have some awesome stories to tell and people truly want to read it. The ten things I can do to accomplish that:

1.) Publish more. 2.) Promote more. 3.) Network more. 4.) Communicate with my lit agent and the publisher I already have more. 5.) Forgive myself more. 6.) Write more. 7.) Read more. 8.) Review more. 9.) Help others more. 10.) Pray more.

December 29Defining Moment.
Describe a defining moment or series of events that has affected your life this year.

The defining moment of this year was when I woke up one morning and my irreverent self said, "For Lent, I'm giving up low self-esteem." I think without that decision, there would have been several other events I would not have handled very well, including the accidents I'd been in, the deaths I'd experienced, and even going back to my reunions. That moment of decision straightened my spine and inserted a core mantra inside of my that I could draw up whenever I started feeling really down; and I had friends that helped me along the way. That event was a definite, definite turning point for me.

Reverb 10: Days 26 - 27

December 26Soul Food.
What did you eat this year that you will never forget? What went into your mouth & touched your soul?

As soon as my roommate and I got onto the cruise ship for the RSJ anniversary cruise, we found the food deck because we were all famished. I cannot remember what we had for lunch, but I remember that dessert. It was a turtle cheesecake, and that was one of the best cheesecakes I'd ever had. It was soo good, my roommate even liked it--and she wasn't generally a cheesecake fan! I proceeded to spend the next five days looking for that cheesecake, but to no avail! I loved it; it made me so happy. It was a good way to start off an excellent cruise!

December 27Ordinary Joy.
Our most profound joy is often experienced during ordinary moments. What was one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year?

Whenever I can find a quiet moment and just let a book suck me in, that's an enjoyable moment; and it's actually these last few days that I've been able to have those because it's been almost nonstop for me this year. But that quiet, me and book moment...yeah. That's an awesome ordinary joy.

Reverb 10: Day 25 – Photo

December 25Photo – a present to yourself.

Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you.

I took this picture of myself after I'd spent an afternoon at a port of call during the Romance Slam Jam cruise. I hadn't intended to stay long off the boat--just go onto the island, snap a few shots, and get back on the ship just to say I'd "been" to Jamaica. I was alone, so that had been the plan, until a group of readers adopted me for the afternoon and we met one of the readers' friends who'd moved to Jamaica a few years ago. During that trip I'd gotten hit on, bartered two of my books for two bracelets, and bought some Jamaican soap as souvenirs. It was a great afternoon; it told me that life is full of unexpected surprises, people can be truly lovely, and I'm so dope the men all pause! ;p Also, this picture is a good indicator of my hair lenght back in April, as it's grown much more since then!

Reverb 10: Days 22 - 24

I hope everyone who celebrates Christmas had a fantstic one and everyone will have a wonderful New Year! Here's my Reverb10 catch-up post!

December 22Travel.
How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year?

I traveled by every mode of transportation this year, which is pretty cool--boat, car, train, pane, bicycle! This year, I did fulfill a dream of traveling to the Caribbean as I'd never done it. Maybe next year I'll shoot for South America or even the Western half of the United States, as it's been a while since I'd been there. And Chicago to see my sister.

December 23New Name Let’s meet again, for the first time.
If you could introduce yourself to strangers by another name for just one day, what would it be and why?

Hmm, I really like my name, so I don't know if I'd ever want to do that; but if I had to introduce myself with a pseudonym, probably Esther because it means star and I'm trying to let my inner light shine really brightly.

December 24Everything’s OK.
What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead?

Around the time my grandmother died, there was so much laughter despite the deep sadness we felt; and so many other things were going right in many people's lives, that I knew not only would we survive this, we would be resilient while doing so. I truly believe Grandma had been putting some things in place for us before she passed, so even though I still get sad now, I can still look around and see how truly blessed I and my family is.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Reverb 10: Day 21 – Future Self

December 21Future Self.
Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?) (Author: Jenny Blake)

Dear Savannah of 2011,

Don't ever let anyone silence or devalue your story, including yourself. When you start feeling muffled, open your mouth really wide and shout. It may not feel comfortable those first few tries, but don't worry about that. The more you practice, the more it'll become second nature. And try to use that cleverness for good instead of snark (more often; don't let go of the snark completely, however!)

Also, smile more. You have a beautiful smile, dear. And don't be scared of your walk, either. Your walk is fire; everyone else will be the moths.

Dear Savannah of 2000/2001,

You're about to enter a stage of ridiculousness in your life--both in good and bad ways. When you get to those hallowed halls of ivy, don't be too blown away by it. You made it into that school for a reason; and though you'll continuously meet people smarter, more beautiful, more talented, that doesn't mean your contributions are any less worthy. You will be a friend to the most unlikely of people--do not consider these friendships as shows of pity or that you are unworthy of them. You will be a valuable force to people, a breath of fresh air, a wonder. Allow that; don't discount it. And when you embark on that path to your dreams, be dogged and don't let those stumbling blocks (no matter how well intentioned they are) stop you from keeping on. Get up, brush those scratched needs up, find some bandages, and keep it moving. And if someone offers you a ride, don't be proud; accept it--but do your homework first. You want to take a ride, not be taken for one!

And you betta sang till the spirit moves in your heart.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Reverb 10: Day 20 - Beyond Avoidance

December 20Beyond Avoidance.
What should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?) (Author: Jake Nickell)

I wasn't as outgoing as I could've been this year because I was still uncomfortable in my process of building up self-esteem. I thought myself too fragile to be on that social landscape, but now I realize I was selling myself too short, again. I found that out going to my reunions. People really do want to be around me and know about me and that was a cool thing to realize. However, there was a safety net there because I'd known (of) these people before. The trick is now to put what I'd learned there into practice among complete strangers. It has to happen sometime, especially since I want to ultimately make my living as an author.

Reverb 10: Day 19 - Healing

December 19Healing.
What healed you this year? Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution? How would you like to be healed in 2011? (Author: Leonie Allan)

I did a lot of crying this year. A lot. I hate crying; I try to avoid it as much as possible, but crying is a catharsis for all the emotional backlog I'd been keeping bottled up. I cried until my head split; I cried until my eyes were bloodshot. I cried until an entire box of tissues ended up in the trash. I cried for the myriad of hurts I'd packed down and down and down until I couldn't recognize one from the other. I cried for things I didn't even know I was sad about; I cried because I didn't have enough breath for laughter anymore; I cried because I was tired of acting like some cheesy scene in a movie didn't get me right in the gut. I wept for the unchangeable past, the uncertain future, and the volatile present.

Reverb 10: Day 18 - Try

December 18Try.
What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn’t go for it? (Author: Kaileen Elise)

I want to try being more social. I did make some progress, but I tended to want that safety net of a group. In 2011, I want to try this "dating yourself" thing. My friends say it's the way to go, treat yourself to a night on the town, so I think I'm going to attempt that. Also, when football season next rolls around (since my team isn't going anywhere this postseason) I want to go to a game; or at least to a bar and watch it. Hopefully my team will make that outside trip worthwhile, because they certain didn't this year!

*pats Carolina*

Reverb 10: Day 17 - Lesson Learned

December 17Lesson Learned.
What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward? (Author: Tara Weaver)

The best thing I learned about myself this past year was I am awesome, ridiculously so, and I shouldn't think of my awesomeness as an albatross. I need to own it, embrace it, and share it with the world, and it's not my problem if folks reject it. Like Ms. Zora says, "I simply cannot fathom anyone not wanting to be part of my company." That's how I should approach life. And Part B of this lesson is, being awesome isn't the same thing as being arrogant, and the conflation of the two must cease. Nevertheless, there will always be haters but--

Reverb 10: Day 16 - Friendship

December 16Friendship.
How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst? (Author: Martha Mihalick)

I have to shout out two friends in particular for this prompt--BJ & Ruthy. They were especially instrumental to my Lent Project by holding me accountable to make sure I was sincerely dedicated to it. It would not be enough to say I've given up low self-esteem if I do not put any action behind it; and every time I slipped, they called me out on it. They each demanded more of myself; Ruthy held up a mirror to force me to see all of my wonderful qualities while BJ kept prodding me to own them. Sometimes painfully. And it wasn't as if my other fantastic friends hadn't said something similar to me in one way or the other, but these two women in particular were further along the very path I'd set out to travel. These two women were unapologetically awesome, and while Ruthy isn't physically here anymore, she's definitely is in spirit. And BJ, we rock on, chick!


Reverb 10: Day 15 - 5 Minutes

December 155 Minutes.
Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010. (Author: Patti Digh)

- Grandma (unlikely I would really ever forget her) and her funeral. I'm glad she's finally at rest and the best thing about funerals is that they really are family reunions. There was a lot of laughter and fond stories, and I learned so much about what a community organizer my grandmother truly was. So dynamic and remarkable and I'm damn lucky and humble to be a part of her legacy.

- First cruise and the powwow I had with many of the superstars of Black romance. That I was able to sit at that table was truly an awesome experience.

- My Lent Project. I must remember this because to forget would be perilous.

- The Harvard Reunions--Kuumba and 5th Class. I needed that reminder of how not everything about my Harvard experience was horrendous.

- My lit agent! I was approached by my agent, not the other way around; and the fact this happened right as my grandmother was leaving this earth tells me it was my grandma's way of making sure her babies were still being taken care of even though she was gone; especially since my sister was offered a full ride to her graduate school as well.

- Ruthy. She unlocked so many hidden pieces of my mind and spirit and she never had a problem calling me beautiful. She's the truly beautiful one. RiP, Ruthy.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Reverb: Day 14 - Appreciate

December 14Appreciate.
What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it? (Author: Victoria Klein)

Myself. I didn't really do that for a long time. I took myself for granted, psyched myself out into thinking I didn't really matter to much of anyone in the grand scheme of things. Yes, I "know" my family did, but many times I felt like I was a failure to them, a burden, and that wasn't a cool feeling. And as for my friends, I truly didn't think I mattered to them. It wouldn't matter if I didn't show up to an event or not because I wouldn't be missed. But then, in the first few weeks of February I told myself to stop that foolishness. Shut up those toxic voices in your mind and pull the wool from your eyes. And that was a hard thing to do. Many tears were shed; many tears are still being shed, but that journey to appreciating myself has been the best thing I've done for me. That if I matter to no one else in the world, I need to matter to myself. I need to appreciate myself. And how I am to express this attitude is being as open and giving of myself as I can instead of being closed and inaccessible.

Reverb 10: Days 12 - 13

December 12Body Integration.
This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn’t mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present? (Author: Patrick Reynolds)

It was actually while my grandmother was in the hospital. We were alone, no doctors, the other family and friends were gone for this period. I just sat with her, held her hand, and sang to her. I just allowed myself to be in the moment with her and she was in and out, but I know she heard me. It was a peaceful feeling. Hopefully, I can get that back without death being present in the room.

December 13Action.
When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step? (Author: Scott Belsky)

My next step is to do better about manuscript submissions. I let that slack off this year but I need to get back on that. As much as I like where I've gone and what I've done self-publishing, I have a bigger audience in mind for my work and I'll need help getting my work out there. So, more traditional publishers it is.

Reverb 10: Days 10 - 11

I haven't been really around to do these every day, so here's another catch-up post of the Reverb 10 prompts!

December 10Wisdom.
What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out? (Author: Susannah Conway)

The wisest decision I've made all year was to work on building up my self-esteem instead of languishing in low self-esteem as I'd been doing for so long I can't even really remember the last time I'd truly felt good and confident about myself. I faked the funk so well that I almost believed my hype until I was alone (which was often barring work) and just feeling so low my shoulders would slump automatically. However, this has been one of the best decisions I've ever made, particularly when faced with some very challenging moments during the year. Had I not started down this path, I don't know if I would have been able to survive 2010 as well as I had. I'm grateful for that decision and proud of the progress I've mad thus far.

December 1111 Things.
What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life? (Author: Sam Davidson)

1.) Negativity I have had enough of that, but it's not just negativity from outside factors, but the negativity that can brew within me. I don't need that. So, what I'll do is continue what I've been doing this year in that every time I find myself going down that path, I give myself a light mental slap and automatically find the bright side of whatever is going wrong. I find that generally does perk me up. That traffic jam I hit could give me time to work out a story idea or jam to some songs I hadn't heard in years or plan out what I need to do for the rest of the day or for the next. When I do that, I find my irritation lessens and I'm in a good place. So, yeah.

2.) Drama Unless it's playing out on a stage or on a screen, I don't need it. Luckily, I wasn't really involved in drama this year, so the best I can do is keep myself on the up and up and say what I mean and mean what I say.

3.) Clutter There are many studies that say the your home environment reflects your mental environment. I plead being a writer for the chaos that is the current state of my apartment! Nevertheless, I will do better with removing the clutter from my life by being more organized; and I plan to get that started, hopefully, during the last week of 2010 when I actually get myself situated from living out of boxes. Hopefully!

4.) Extra Weight I'd lost a lot of weight when I'd been in Boston and now I'd gained most of it back. I'm not happy, but I'm not punishing myself over it, either. So, I'm going to start my walking routine again to get those extra pounds off once more. In the meantime, though, I'm going to find some cute outfits to keep my spirits up as I do!

5.) Solitude For so long, I've been a hermit. I've got to stop that because I'm awesome and I shouldn't be selfish and deprive people of my awesomeness. I know this will be one of the harder things for me to let go but I know I need to for personal and professional success.

6.) Procrastination It really does me no favors, so I should be sharper with my responses, particularly when it can involve good things. I find myself procrastinating on positive opportunities as badly as I do with negative situations I want to avoid. I really do need to stop that.

7.) Passivity I need to create action instead of waiting to react to whatever happens. I've done that a bit with my decision to self-publish, but now I need to step beyond that. Getting my name out there and telling people yes, you really do want to get to know me/my characters because their awesome instead of waiting. I need to get my hustle on more than I have been.

8.) Bullshit I don't need people being fake with me. I don't have time. So when I start seeing it, I'll call it out and then avoid it until it stops.

9.) Waste I don't need to be wasteful in 2011. Use everything to it's fullest point and buy quality instead of looking at the bottom dollar. Also, create quality and don't waste any ideas. Just put them in the "abandoned idea" file until it really starts to sprout.

10.) Shyness I need to have faith people will be receptive to me and what I have to offer; so, once I stop being such a hermit and show how awesome I am, I won't dull my shine. Instead, I'll just hand out shades.

11.) Disenchantment So often, doors would close on me and I would think it was the end of that, to the point I would try to get the door to close all on its own. Now, it's time to get those doors open; and if they don't budge, find a key, a sledgehammer, or a window so I can reach my goal, and sing a peppy song while I do.

(I can admit it took me a long time to figure out 11 things, but I do think these are a good start!)

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Reverb 10: Day 9 - Party

December 9Party.
What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans. (Author: Shauna Reid)

This year was my 5th Class Reunion from college, and I went. This is notable because college was not, in fact, the time of my life. Well, I rephrase, it wasn't the best time of my life. In fact, many of the challenges I have now were born or exacerbated during that time; and honestly, I'd thought I'd reunited with all the people I cared about a month prior for the Kuumba 40th Reunion (which was awesome!). However, I thought attending would be a good for me to put some demons to bed. I had a serious level of trepidation...that turned out to be unfounded. I was hugging people left and right that weekend; folks telling me how much my entry in the Reunion Class book meant to them on Facebook (irony of ironies, Facebook was created while I was in school and he lived in the next house!) or in person; how they looked up to me or were proud of me because I was pursuing my writing. Folks side-eying me for letting my singing lapse! It was enlightening. I hung out with people for a long time with whom I hadn't been particularly close to the entire four years I'd been at school and had some really powerful discussions. Turns out a lot of us were stuck in "what am I doing here?" the entire time we were there; seeing all of these amazing and awesome people and wondering who thought we should share the same breathing space with them?!

And then I danced, something I rarely had done while I was at school because I was so self-conscious about myself. This time, I didn't care...people were shocked! They 1.) didn't know I could and 2.) didn't know I could like that (old school, baby!)! It was so much fun! The darkness of my old dining hall, the heat, the sweat, the smell of open bar alcohol on my dance partners' breaths, watching people get a little too reunited on the dance floor when it was time for a break. The little pasties that I didn't remember being that good five years ago--it was a good reunion and I'm glad I attended.

Reverb 10: Day 8 - Beautifully Different

December 8Beautifully Different.
Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful. (Author: Karen Walrond)

I'm not even going to lie; when I first read this prompt, anxiety took over. It felt as if this were a "test" to see how far I'd come from when I'd started my Lent Project, and my immediate thought was "not very far."

*slaps hand*

That is a lie, I know, but I also know I have been postponing the really hard parts of the Lent Project, which is full ownership instead of renting it out for various occasions or even being willing to sign a long-term lease so to speak. So, I slept on it (literally, I just went to bed); and then this morning, I peeped some other responses and then started to answer the question myself. I found myself shedding a few tears, having to take a moment, because I was frustratingly stuck. I was having trouble trying to figure out what was different about me that made me beautiful, and how that difference lit up people's lives. Part of the frustration was my continued discomfort in me saying something nice about myself...declaring something positive about the essential me. Even though writing is a personal endeavor that I've made public, it's not necessarily the "essential me", so I can declare I am a good writer (although, confession, it took me a long time to even get to that point). Even though I graduated Ivy League and am proud of that accomplishment, I'm not as hesitant to declare that because it's not necessarily the "essential me". And furthermore, I cannot really claim those as traits that make me "different" because there are many people who are writers and who are Ivy-League graduates, and that certainly doesn't guarantee anyone's beauty one way or the other. So, that long-winded explanation leads to this--the prompt frustrated and discomfited me because I couldn't fall back on the two things that I'd felt secure in declaring.

But I finally figured out something that I am going to own--The way I think is beautiful. Not what I think, but the way I think. It's as if I take information and then automatically flip it over to some (admittedly sometimes unnecessary) next level and play with it there before responding to a dynamic. I know I can fluster people sometimes because I'm dealing with something on Level D and the person with whom I'm talking really had just wanted to stay on Level A and maybe flirt to Level B. I make some of the most random connections sometimes; but I know my friends also count on that too. My sister is especially good at saying something random and I immediately know from whence the thought came, and she appreciates it so much. So, all that to say, when I don't get something, folks around me do a record scratch. In fact, one of my cousins called me out on it once when I was around 16/17 years old; I was NOT on my game with our hourly "Dozens" match and he was actually concerned for me! *pats him* Or my sister still teases me about being slow on the joke in White Christmas about the Doctor and the Well (let's just say, I didn't go Level D or even B with that one; my feet were glued and stapled to Level A! I was young, darn it! And yeah, sis is younger than I am but that's neither here nor there, okay? Not everyone can graduate magna cum laude!!! :P ).

So, I can make people laugh with the way I think when I say something clever; or give them a different perspective to help them solve a particular puzzle they have to them. Or people like the stories I write, which is a direct result of how I think. How I think it's linear; it leaps and bounds and skates and skitters. It meanders often, to the point I think of various scenarios just for fun. And then I amaze myself when those mental wanderings get me to an awesome destination that usually finds itself in a story I tell--whether to my friends or in a book that I write.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Reverb 10: Day 7 - Community

December 7Community.
Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011? (Author: Cali Harris)

My job, actually! I work with a group of amazing people and they have really been a great support system for me. They boarded me overnight so I could catch a pre-dawn train; they shuttled me 20 miles out of their way to and from work when I was having car issues; they were understanding and gracious when my grandmother passed; they've been encouraging me on my professional career; and several have said they valued my opinions and I certainly value theirs. Coworkers have even forced me to be social, inviting me to happy hours that have lasted much longer than an hour and full of very worthwhile conversation. I am thankful and grateful for all of that, and I'm so lucky that every place I've worked thus far has been full of amazing people.

As for my community goals in 2011, my goal is to be more active in the community at large as a citizen, not necessarily in terms of an organization. Just be seen and present instead of falling back to my hermit tendencies. I will also like to follow up on the mentoring I'd gotten information on but never really followed through; that hadn't been the time then. I think it's finally arrived.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Reverb10: Days 1 - 6

My friend Nuri hipped me to this and I decided I would do it, and do I decided it would be a good way to avoid any more accidental hiatuses, at least for this month! I'm almost a week behind, but that's all right. I'll try to catch up in this post days 1 - 6 and then dedicate one post to the rest of the prompts.


December 1 - One Word.
Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?
(Author: Gwen Bell)

Challenging. This year has been among the most challenging I've ever had. I have lost several people near and dear to me, including my grandmother on Mother's Day when I wasn't there, and a friend of mine who'd been instrumental to my growth as a writer and as a person. I've also decided to give up low self-esteem during Lent and for onward, and that is still a work in progress to completely own my awesome. Professionally, it was the dealing with uncertainty that is a constant challenge, even when they include the highs of releasing a new short story, gaining a literary agent, and more exposure and encouragement from fellow writers. On the other hand, the lows of dealing with negative reviews for a work that is very close to my heart, not being prolific in promotion and releasing more work as I would like; and even attempting a new style/genre of writing. However, all of those challenges that I've faced this year have hopefully prepared me for next year and the word I would truly like for it to be.


December 2 - Writing.
What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?
(Author: Leo Babauta)

I play Cafe World on Facebook every morning, and that certainly has nothing to do with writing! And I can eliminate it; I probably won't, though, as it's become part of my daily routine! And also, in a way, it my daily nod to the friend I'd lost, since I'd joined the game strictly for her in the first place!

December 3Moment.
Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors). (Author: Ali Edwards)

The first (of two) car accident I was in this year; I'd just pulled out of the ATM behind a rather large SUV. I looked down in my lap at my wallet that was still open and then looked up. The SUV's taillights weren't on, so I thought that meant we were moving...until I realized the SUV was not in fact, moving. I smashed up the front of the car really well, and I began shaking so badly, especially when a very irate driver came out the car berating me about talking on my cell phone (I was not) and asking me if I knew there was a pregnant woman in the car (I obviously did not). This bank run that was supposed to have taken 10 minutes tops ended up being over an hour, but what I took away most was "God Is Good", because no one was hurt, everyone walked away, and everyone, other than the irate driver, was nice enough to ask if I were all right as the SUV had several passengers and I was by myself. It was also the conversation I remember something wasn't right with my grandmother, because she didn't get all hyper with worry. She was very calm and measured; not that my grandmother was prone to hysterics, but her tone was a lot calmer than I'd expected, almost resigned. That conversation was a month and a week before she passed.

December 4Wonder.
How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year? (Author: Jeffrey Davis)

The wonder in my life is realizing how things work out even if I think they are bleak; how things may not come how or when you want them, but exactly how and when you need them; and seeing how the consequences of past decisions pan out and being amazed at the what the results of trusting the instincts yield.

December 5Let Go.
What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why? (Author: Alice Bradley)

Low self-esteem, because it's a cancer. It's not completely eradicated yet, but I'm much further along now than I was at the beginning of 2010.

December 6Make.
What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it? (Author: Gretchen Rubin)

The last thing I made was a mess; the materials I used were papers and clothes on the floor of my apartment--complete with opened shipping boxes and suitcases all over my living area. And the thing I would like to make is not a mess, and that would require an eternity of free time...or at least the holiday break, perhaps.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Accidental Hiatus

I truly did not mean to just peace out the way I have, so I apologize. I think part of the reason I became so silent is because so much was going on and there is so much to say but not enough words to say them. So, this is my apology for that and thank you very much for sticking with me and by me.

The high points:

- I've been writing! As you know, I released Go with Your Heart back in August and the response for that has been wonderful. Beautiful Trouble Publishing is a supportive publisher and I appreciate them giving me the chance to tell that story and for trusting me to help format their books! I just finished this year's NaNo (still in the RJC universe, but this time it's about Henry's parents Lydia and Takeshiro Inoue!) and as exhausting as that experience was, I was grateful for the challenge. I really enjoy writing these two!

- I made a contact with an editor at Harlequin who was so giving of her time and dispensed very useful advice. The trick now is for me to follow it!

- Kwame Alexander has offered me wonderful opportunities this fall, including being part of his Kwame and Friends (including Marcus Amaker and Joanna Crowell) reading at the John. L. Dart Public Library at the beginning of October and being a panelist at the Capital BookFest in November, along with Heidi Durrow and Noni Carter. Both women are fantastic writers and wonderful people, so it was truly an honor to share the panel wtih them! I also met Carol Mackey, who was so gracious, and Ms. Dori Sanders, with whom I had a fangirl moment. She said I could write! Y'all, I was definitely beaming like a kid in a candy store (speaking of which, definitely need to read Clover again! I also met another writer, Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond who encouraged me to keep my chin up and don't give up on traditional publishing. I took a picture with Victoria Rowell (that didn't save to my phone! *cries*), who is as gorgeous and talented in real life as she is on screen and I watched her panel with AlTonya Washington. I started talking to a young student who was also presenting because she was part of Kwame Alexander's Book-in-a-Day Program, and that was one of the most worthwhile conversations I'd ever had. I have every confidence this young lady will go far! The final panel was with Ms. Tananarive Due and Tina McElroy Ansa, who were fantastic and spoke some serious truth about what it means to be a writer and a community of writers. It was the perfect way to begin NaNo and a recharge of why I wake up at five or earlier every morning and start writing.

- Please go support my girl BJ Thornton. She's awesome and I want to write like her when I grow up. And Karen Lord. She was reviewed in The New York Times. Holla!

The low point:

I lost a very dear friend to me, Ruthy Charlot, in mid-October, which just really threw me for a loop because it was so unexpected. But every writer has their go-to cheerleaders, and Lord knows she'd become one of mine. She challenged me to be better, not in terms of skill, but in terms of having the courage to tell the story I truly want to tell...or the story that truly needed to be told. She made me more discerning about what I say, how I say it, and to whom I listen. She was even editing a story for me that was to be published back in November (That's on indefinite hold right now, but it will be released at some point.). She was brilliant, encouraging, and one of the most beautiful people I knew. She's missed. Dearly.

So, in these last four weeks of 2010, I hope I continue being productive and that 2011 sees more of me on your bookshelves and this blog, quite frankly!

SJF Books Universe

If you ever had a question for my characters, there's now a place to ask! First up is Reconstructing Jada Channing!