Category: Acts of Beauty


Honoring Our Roots

Monica-Jackson

I’ve been thinking about this ever since Monica Jackson died, and today with the passing of Gwynne Forster I think it’s time that we African American and multicultural romance authors start thinking seriously about some type of memorial, a tribute of some such to those who forged the way for us. Remember, before these amazing women came along THERE WAS NO SUCH THING AS ROMANCE NOVELS WITH BLACK FOLK, OR ANY NON-WHITE FOLK. PERIOD. Wrap your mind around that for a minute, and imagine what an incredible thing they did. Think about the grief we get in this industry and imagine what it must have been like for them, starting at the very beginning. Doing as black women always do; making a way out of no way.

I don’t know what form this should take; Scholarships? Donations to libraries? I’m not sure, and this is well out of my wheelhouse, but we’ve been fortunate enough to have some really amazing women in our genre and we must find a way to honor them. And even more so, to nurture new talent and support other young women and girls with an interest in literature. What do y’all think? Any ideas? Yes, I know we’re all crazy busy. But I don’t want to look back someday and have our newbie authors asking “Who was Gwynne Forster?” Or even worse, having outsiders writing our history for us. Others are already claiming credit for creating multicultural romance. This cannot stand. Let’s put our heads together and come up with a fitting way to memorialize our roots, our mothers. The women who made us what we are today.

Making Cover Magic

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Book covers are not something I used to spend a lot of time thinking about. I generally buy by author and blurb, so before I started self-publishing, it was well outside my wheelhouse. I’m very fortunate that I have a husband who is a graphic designer by trade and is able to do the magic to make my cover ideas happen. I also adore Taria Reed at The Reed Files for finally giving us the type of beautiful diverse images we need.

This is the most recent cover my husband magicked for me. This the image he started with.

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My character wears her hair in braids. So he had to add them.

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She also has a darker complexion, so that had to be changed also.

My male lead actually has chestnut hair.

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This book takes place in Laritrea, which a fictionalized version of the North African country, Libya. So I wanted a background of some Roman ruins.

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Then he did the comic book style that really fits this story to a tee. I’d say, altogether he put in several hours on this cover. And if I told you what his typical going rate is, you’d faint. I’m just very lucky I get free labor from him!

The process is just so very awesome. And he’ll sit there and patiently tweak it until he gives me exactly what I want. Just awesome. Most of the time, the ideas are all mine, but sometimes, he’ll surprise me, like he did for Buttercream.

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Everything about that cover was his idea. I remember getting so annoyed because I had to find photos of the inside of a bakery. What difference does it make? I whined. And, of course, it makes all the difference in the world.

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My only real contribution to this cover was the font for the title. Y’all don’t want to know how long it took me to find that freaking font. I absolutely adore fonts, and will pay a ridiculous amount of money for them. I had to have that B, nothing else would do.

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This cover took him two whole weeks, mainly because he simply wasn’t feeling it, and actually created another cover that he didn’t want to use. It’s hard sometimes because I’m impatient, but he is an artist and if the groove isn’t there it simply not there. It’s not like on his job where he has to produce whether he’s feeling it or not, and I have to remind myself of that all the time.

My guy is amazing and wonderful in so many ways, but I adore him so much for the way he supports and fulfills my dreams, even when I’m being an absolute nag about it.

Empire

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B3A1CWMCMAAZJ-0.jpg-largeNow this is the kind of treatment Taraji P. Henson deserves. (Okay, I wish her costar was pretty much anyone else, but what the hell, I’ll take it.) Saw the billboard for her new show at 285 northbound right before the Lavista exit. Wanted to get a picture, but I was driving. I’m planning to get Whit to take me back down there so I can shoot it properly.

I’m really looking forward to this show, and I know it’s a hit. Yeah, her costar is a jerk, and I loathe hiphop, but at least he’s a talented jerk. And, of course, Taraji is unbelievably awesome. People are still talking about her last role a year after she left!!! And she had no screen time on that show that shall remain nameless. There seems to be lots of opportunities for high-drama and carpet chewing scenes. If they play it right this could be a lot of fun.

And as long as the executive producer doesn’t overindulge in his unfortunate proclivity for torturing black women that should be all good. Hey, show runner, word to the wise, she’s already been to prison, that’s enough pathology porn. Now I want to see a black woman getting her own back. Thank you for your time and consideration.

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This is my favorite Christmas song. Longfellow wrote this poem in despair over his son going off to fight in the Civil War. Pessimist that I am I sometimes fear that we are on the brink of another Civil War. I pray that Longfellow is right, “God is not dead, nor does He sleep.” But given that “Hate is strong, it mocks this song,” I’m not sure.

#NO BLACK FRIDAY


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The ancestors walked for nearly two years in Montgomery. We can go four days without spending money. Thanks to the fabulous Monica Mingo for the banner. It’s optimized for Facebook, but I had no trouble using it on Tumblr.

Also, the Ferguson Public Library has PayPal and a button. They’re staying open to support the children in the community that don’t have school. I’m donating this month’s royalty check. Please do what you can. I’ve said this before, libraries literally saved my life and I’ll always stand for them. For my author friends, I don’t see any evidence that they have an ebook collection, but I’m looking into whether they accept book donations. I’ll keep you posted.

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I’m going to try to duplicate this arrangement for my Thanksgiving table. I’m not big on tablescaping, but I love the colors. I have a glass pedestal that I’ve been wanting to paint anyway, so I think I’m going to spray it and use it  as the base for my arrangement.

I already mentioned that I have a small, but growing international readership. And I’m so grateful to those readers. I sell regularly in Canada and UK now, and even got a couple of sales in Germany. For some reason it never occurred to me that I’d ever sell any books in India. For the first few days I assumed it was a mistake and kept expecting a return, but no, the return period is well past. I’ve been thinking a lot about who that reader might be. They bought Try a Little Tenderness, which, as you know is my all-time fave. I’d really love to hear from them and get some feedback. India is a country I’ve always been fascinated with and is on my bucket list. Of course, so is most of the entire world!

Tabu

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My mama worked very hard all her life. She was an amazing cook, and her cakes and pies would make you weep. Her cornbread was so good people would come to the restaurant where she worked and order a slice of cornbread with a cup of coffee as a treat. Most of the time my mama smelled of the things she worked with. Good wholesome food, vanilla, cinnamon and sometimes coffee. A devout gardener, sometimes she smelled of earth and plants. Fruit and delicious things she’d grown. A pragmatic woman, she seldom indulged herself in much, but she loved three things; red lipstick, beautiful lingerie and the fragrance Tabu. She had slips that were so elegant they would be worn as evening wear today. My all time favorite was chocolate brown and it had four inches of the most amazing lace on the border. We buried her in a fabulous yellow suit, with that gorgeous slip underneath. But more than anything I will always associate my mama with Tabu; the fragrance and the lipstick.

I remember the violin shaped bottle on her dresser, and every now and then she’d take a long soaking bath, slip into one of her beautiful pieces of lingerie and spritz on some Tabu. I guess these days we’d call it “self-care,” but I think sometimes she just wanted to remind herself that she was a beautiful woman. Not just mama. Not just the chief cook and bottle washer. But a woman in her own right.

I read an article about the fragrance today. The designer was told to create a fragrance for a prostitute or puta, hence the name Tabu. That made me laugh out loud. Mama was always such a lady, but I’d like to think she would get a similar kick out of the history of her favorite fragrance.

Today I ordered a bottle of Tabu. I love a red lipstick too. My favorite is Revlon Cherries in the Snow. I doubt if I’ll ever find any lingerie as beautiful as hers, and I must admit I feel incredibly womanly in a pair of delicious cotton pjs. Still I’ll buy one sinfully beautiful gown in her honor. For remembrance. This bond of womanhood that we have, and that will never be broken. I understand so many things now that were dark and mysterious when I was a child. And the memory. Tabu.

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