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Literature

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Judge. Jury. Verdict.

  • Did you see her last night? I can't believe she allowed herself to be filmed wearing that?
  • You got a mirror? I suggest you look in it, because clearly you did not have an opportunity this morning.
  • Wait? Tell me she isn’t wearing white after Labor Day? Who told her that was acceptable?
  • She lip-synched the National Anthem? And with all that pageantry. What the hell? Chile, puh-leez! She needs to go sit down with that foolishness.
  • She should just slap a perm on that crazy mess of hair! Walking out the house looking like that. It's embarrassing.
  • You know she should just go on and BC. Remove all that chemically processed hair and embrace her natural beauty.

guilty

The verdict has come in. The gavel has come down.

We are GUILTY.

What’s sad? It doesn’t matter if we don’t know the details, or perhaps we have a few or we know the entire story, we (me, myself and you) render ourselves judge, jury and issue a scathing verdict, broadcasting worldwide via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and some other social media site sharing our judgment on the matter. Sometimes it's regarding a primetime reality show and sometimes it's our relationships with each other.

In Los Angeles and New York, media moguls are reclining around the table in a boardroom brainstorming possibilities for the upcoming spring and fall season television line-up, hoping to bring to market the next big reality show. Armed with data reflecting the viewing habits of certain demographics they know that cattiness and bitch fests are slam dunks. Their bottom line is increased because cattiness sells and bitchiness sends the ratings into the stratosphere. Female viewers are more interested in watching women gouge out another woman’s eyes, tug hair, kick arse or speak words that incite rage, fury and are blatantly disrespectful.

With all of our daily chatter, I do believe we make their jobs easier. We provide them with the narrative and from this they storyboard, focus group and package to the masses. Do we object? Or do we subject ourselves to hours of watching? What's worse? When the show is over, we cut a side-eye at a sister on the street and wonder what her objective could be.

What was once man’s ultimate fantasy has become our own: Women wrestling in mud, slipping and sliding all over the place in bikinis and the like. When did that become something we actually enjoyed? The catfights? The name calling? The neck rolls? The eye rolls? The ridiculousness of it all?

Now I know I probably stand alone on this limb — with a few million women — but watching that is not my idea of entertainment. Regardless of race, I do not want to watch my sisters treat each other in disrespectful ways. Granted, reality dictates there will almost always be someone who aggravates us and steps on our last good nerve, but why broadcast the fallout in such grandeur. What's the objective? To hurt? Or perhaps laugh at someone's pain?

You want more responsible programming? We have to be responsible consumers. I still believe in the power of the people. Television programs require viewers. These programs require financial backing from advertisers. Advertisers remain vested based on numbers. With dwindling numbers, programs are cancelled. It has been proven throughout history, when there is enough of an outcry or demand for change of any kind, the most beautiful thing imaginable occurs: revolution.

Once upon a time, we moved mountains, changed laws, redefined a people and that's only in this nation. Don't tell me it cannot be done. The world over we've seen proof that mountains of impossibilities are scaled by perseverance and determination of a united people.

I don’t judge you, my sister. Here’s my hand. I stand with and walk along side you because you are a reflection of me.

The revolution must be televised! Let’s script it.

* Originally posted on BlackHairKitchen.com March 12, 2013 *

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Fifty Shades of WHAT?!

50sojf

I do not recall what serendipitous happenstance or celestial alignment led me to LV Lewis, but all I can say is I'm glad it did. Before I continue, I must issue a bit of a disclaimer:

I'm a member of a small subset of earthlings who fall into the category of not liking the original bodies of work.

That said, back to LV. Just typing those two letters has me smiling and happy dancing in my chair while humming the chorus to Steve Wonder's "Jungle Fever" (I kid you not).

To rephrase a portion of my Amazon review: I'm hooked, I'm a fan, I'm all in! Chick had me at the Kente necktie featured on the cover and kept me with a female protagonist who is no slouch and despite the "ghetto" label in the series, she is anything but. Keisha is an intelligent, gifted sister who ventures into the music industry as co-owner with her college BFF, determined to succeed.

The man blessed to catch her eye and tug at her heart is an intriguing fellow, but not because of wealth or bewitchingly, mind-numbing good looks. Tristan brings to the table confidence that oozes from their initial run-in to her abrupt departure. He appears sure of himself and what he wants. Nothing deters him ... not even Keisha's initial reluctance to his offer. Also endearing are the strokes of vulnerability LV uses to paint Tristan. His is a heart carefully tucked away from himself and Keisha, although it becomes quite evident to the reader.

Both characters, it would seem, appear to hide from the truth of their emotions based on issues in their past. Interesting dynamics also arise in this D/s relationship between a caucasian man and an african-american woman. Just how will that work? I'll tell you this much, LV does not shy away from addressing the basics. Love that.

The chemistry between Keisha and Tristan is sizzling from the opening pages until the end. I shall refrain from going into any further detail. Read for yourself and enjoy.

My recommendation:  Grab a copy today.

By the way, the story doesn't end there. Here's the cover for Exit Strategy, which is due to be released shortly. Can you say fiyah? Click on the sexy cover to visit LV's website and read the first two chapters of Exit Strategy.  

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Writing Confessions

So the characters are back, occupying my sleeping and waking hours.

As Chase and Tia's story continues in this third book, I find that I cannot write or type fast enough to get every word down before they advance the scene or jump to another. Conversations, dealings, happenings and conscious streams of thoughts are taking place almost simultaneously. There is so much going on; so much they're addressing and I'm the one left with the task of making sense of it all. Writing the story as it unfolds; capturing it in a manner that you, the reader, can recreate in your mind. Daunting, really, but oh, so very worth it.

My process of writing is one of isolation. Shutting myself off from people and distractions allows me clear access into the story as it unfolds in my third eye. Therefore, I retreat, listen and watch either in my home office or bedroom where I'll type or sit visually capturing the mental images of the scene(s) as they play out.

There is no outline I write from. There is no point I consciously decide to include. The characters drive the story. They always have and they always will. The insertion of the actual events that have happened during the chunk of time in which the story takes place is another element I must keep track of. That alone is the single thing I admit to making a conscious effort to include, especially if I'm guided to believe it bears some relevance to the scene or story in general. Next are conscious streams of thoughts, or words of wisdom. I call them WoWs. Those, for me, are among the best. Well ... that and watching how Chase and Tia and their host of family and friends interact. That's the entire story, really. What am I saying? I love it all.

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Meet the Ladies

The Harlem Holiday Doll Show was this weekend at LeRoy Neiman Art Center and as you read in a few Facebook updates or news posted on this site or by virtue of knowing me, I have developed a healthy obsession for these dolls. Tanya Montegut, creator of these precious, unique and splendid pieces, is the bomb diggity.

So as promised, I attended the event and did so with every appendage of limbs crossed in hopes of rounding out the females of the Experience Life from a Different Perspective series with a Megan and Stephanie acquisition. Well, guess what? I have indeed found my chicas! Meet the ladies in all of their fabulosity (don't give me the stank side-eye; look it up, according to Webster it truly is a word):

The-Ladies

Now in all honestly, I'm not sure if I'm done acquiring all of the women. There are still a few sisters who require representation and who knows what individuals will pop up in future novels. I certainly don't; we shall see.

Right now I'm all about acquiring the mens. So who's up first? Chase, of course. Then Derrick, then Peter, then David....

Interested in your own DollsbyMonTQ contact Tanya. The holidays are right around the corner ... think books and dolls!

Toodles!

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Introducing . . .

 
She was the complexion of a Hershey Kiss with black shoulder length wooly hair. Her hair had natural waves that came from opening twists and running your fingers through them to give them a bit of body.
— Never Said It Was Easy / mr
 
Katherine Richards

This description references Katherine Richards. While writing the sequel, the second Kat made her appearance, she quickly became one of my favorites in the series. I'm sure that as you read she will maneuver her way into your heart, as well. In my opinion, she is that good. Here she is in all of her fabulousness.

So what about Megan and Stephanie? What happened to them? In December I'll be attending the Harlem Holiday Doll Show at Leroy Nieman Art Center, expect for me to return from this event with a few more characters. Fingers crossed for Megan and Stephanie miniature embodiments to jump out at me and scream for me to take them home. We shall see.

Love Kat? Let Tanya know. Interested in attending the doll show, here's the information:

For three days I had the pleasure of attending (thanks to a friend) the Arts Off the Main exhibit at the Jacob Javits Center. While I was able to speak with many about my novels, I was in attendance to lend my support. This year, three shows were combined into one and some of the hottest talent in Crafts from around the country were able to share the spotlight with the likes of Woodrow Nash, George Nock, Franco Castelluccio, Stuart McClean and Edwin Lester. Well, Tanya Montegut of Dolls by MonTQ was present and you know the rest ... her dolls were a hit! What's not to love about sisters captured in miniature?

Although a number of Tanya's dolls spoke to me, they always do, one in particular held and kept my attention. My original thought was to round out the cast of It's Simple with either Megan or Stephanie or acquire both, so I was surprised when I found myself coming back to this doll and recalling a passage from the sequel, Never Said It Was Easy.

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Recap - Circle of Sisters 2012

As an author and a first-time vendor at this event, I must say I enjoyed myself immensely. One thing I enjoy slightly more than writing is conversing with lovers of literature and like-minded individuals about the things that matter most to them. Circle of Sisters at Jacob Javits provided that platform, allowing for this exchange of ideas and beliefs. So much so that at the end of the first day of this two-day event, my voice sounded much like sandpaper — coarse and gritty. Surely tea and a few hours of sleep would remedy this, right? Absolutely not. With one more day of this level of talking ahead of me, I was certain any and everything I uttered would be unintelligible and the sisters would give me the side-eye as I tried to answer their questions. I managed with the help of my incredible team: my daughter, Nia and my dear sisterfriends Nicole and Stephanie. On the first day, the husband and son also came out to lend their support. Love them! Of note, no matter how many events I attend, Tia Maddison and the cover photography of It's Simple are of primary interest. At Circle of Sisters this was no different. Not only was Tia her fabulous self, but this time she was rocking her one-of-a-kind Moetleh bag thanks to booth mate and bag creator, Winnie Burch.

CoS3

"Are you an interior designer?" I can't tell you how many times women and men thought It's Simple was about interior design or that I, myself, was an interior designer because, as they shared, the cover art was so "stunning", "beautiful" and "elegant." Incorporate the table presentation and the 5' x 8' banner, one could easily understand how that assumption could be made. However, after sharing that the cover art was a welcome into the lives of Chase and Tia and a taste of what's possible in their own homes as well as relationships, the women readily agreed that we need to associate positive self portrayal and beauty of our surroundings in the pages of literature and other forms of media when it comes to people of color. Each time I heard women or men, regardless of race, affirm this, I was refreshed.

The ensuing conversations were insightful, encouraging and filled with personal examples of the beauty in their lives. Some boasted years of happy married life; others years of struggle and therapy before the marriage became something each respected, wanted and finally cherished. I loved listening to others share their experiences and how those experiences shaped how they handled subsequent relationships. One such lively discussion took place minutes before the doors opened to the public on Sunday with vendors, male and female, passionately sharing their views on what each partner should bring to the onset of the relationship and what was needed to maintain it.

For every three positive exchanges, there was one negative. Belief in the possibility of better did not exist because their experience(s) had been filled with heartache, betrayal and pain. Hope for them wasn't an option nor a viable choice. Those exchanges saddened me, yet still I could not help but want more for them ... for us. But is it possible to experience better if you don't believe better is available? How can individuals exist without hope or a belief in something better? The reality and hard truth is, many live in that realm of disbelief and hopelessness. That is their universe and the orbiting stars, moons and planets align daily sending and sharing the same sentiment to its human creator. My reality is to write for both the believer and non-believer in hopes that some day, one day, some thing will awaken a seed of newness in their spirits and they will shift their outlook to reach for more.

Saturday and Sunday were filled with many of those exchanges, stories, dancing, lots of laughter and a whole lot of love and fun with participating vendors and those in attendance. The team even managed to take in the sights on the convention floor and the daughter, accompanied by her Auntie Nicole, met and posed with Nicole Ari Parker and Olympic swim team silver medalists. Lucky her.

Congratulations to the winners! Tina Billie and Charmaine Parker are the winners of the It's Simple Saturday and Sunday raffles. The lovely centerpieces featuring the sequel to It's Simple, Never Said It Was Easy now belongs to them. Enjoy!

As of this evening, Sunday, October 14th, my voice is still not a 100%. Yet in spite of this unfortunate occurrence, I look forward to attending Circle of Sisters 2013. Hope to see you there!

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Martha's Vineyard

Well, we're back from our Martha's Vineyard vacation. Love that place! We managed to squeeze so much activities and eats into six fun-filled, yet bone exhausting days. Would you believe me if I told you I even managed three before-the-break-of-dawn workouts all while cussing out my sister-in-law, Nicole (Jillian Michaels in-training) for the torment she inflicted, pushing me past the point of pain? It was sheer torture. Although the highlights of the vacation were many, one exceeded all others — I'm sure you'll think me crazy in a few. The highlight of my 2012 Vineyard vacay was not the private BET party nor rubbing shoulders or hobnobbing with notable personalities and celebrities, nor attending Grand Illumination nor Fireworks night, nor vibing with Wynton Marsalis as he smote the Tabernacle with jazz worthy of Count Basie's Orchestra and totally reminiscent of the Bleek Gilliam Quintet jammin' in Mo'Better Blues. The highlight was stumbling upon Murdick's Fudge. I spent the better part of many days wondering why I hadn't noticed this shop last year, thinking perhaps my husband successfully managed to turn my head in the opposite direction, distracting me with something else each time we passed the decadent shop. However, him was not so successful this time around. Hee hee!

*Pause for Confessions of an Addict* You have not lived until you've tasted Murdick's Fudge. Upon my word, I declare it to be the best damn thing around. On par with air and water, so it would be safe to assume that I practically lived in that shop for five days, became best friends with the staff and dropped oodles of cash on this ridiculously good soul satisfying sustenance. Yes, I said soul satisfying. And yes, I referred to it as sustenance. Shameful, I know. I understand my addiction and am fully aware that I might require some help in overcoming it in the far future, thank you very much. Anyhoo, much love to Laverne, Tanya, Omar, Mark and Shaddy for the love and feeding my addiction. *End of confession and shameless plug*

POTUS

Missing from MV this year was the energy and presence of the First Family and all who accompany them: Secret Service and the Press Corps. Cute side note: After the President visited a Bunch of Grapes Bookstore last year (photograph taken by Peter Richardson outside the bookstore), the establishment needed a larger location to accommodate the traffic the POTUS and his daughters drummed up (although I'm told expansion was in the works for some time prior to POTUS's visit, I've drawn my own conclusions *smiles*). So just one year later, Bunch of Grapes Bookstore crossed the street, branched out and now boasts more square footage to accommodate lovers of written words, the authors who share them, and even Presidents who purchase them.

A Pictorial Companion For those of you interested in seeing Martha's Vineyard from Chase and Tia's perspective, here's a little something especially for you: a pictorial companion to a portion of Never Said It Was Easy. I've compiled a number of photographs for you to enjoy. After reading the second novel, I'm sure you'll get quite the chuckle out of a few pictures.

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Michelle Richardson on Good Morning Caribbean with LT Goodman

This Saturday, August 4, 2012, Michelle Richardson will be LT Goodman's special guest on Good Morning Caribbean-Weekend Edition (10:00 a.m. - 12 p.m.) at 11:00 a.m. Tune in and join us. It's sure to be a fun and insightful interview!

UPDATE

Enjoyed my time with LT Goodman this morning on Kallaloo Radio. The hour was an enjoyable one, full of laughter, insight and discussion. Thank you for offering a place where authors and others can share a bit of themselves with your listeners. It was truly my pleasure.

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Michelle Richardson featured in Harlem World Magazine

You really have to love surprises. Do you know the kind I'm talking about? No? Well, it's the kind where the word oblivious best suits you; the kind where your face is truly twisted in confusion before you actually realize what just happened. I attended the Harlem Book Fair on Saturday, July 21 with my crew and daughter and we had an absolute blast chatting with readers and authors before taking ourselves over to Spoonbread Too to dine on fine authentic Southern cuisine. After all, we deserved it. We worked hard and our tired feet sung a similar tune, but I digress. Food does that to me.

Anyhoo, here's the write-up I was greeted with this morning. Thank you Eartha Watts-Hicks.

Harlem World Magazine

Michelle Richardson and her daughter, Nia

Nia and MR

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Introducing Tia Maddison

Thanks to Tanya Montegut of Dolls by MonTQ for creating this fantabulous work of art. From the moment I saw her, I knew this doll embodied Tia Maddison. Can't you just feel the confidence and sass in her manner of being? Her posture? I am fairly certain you can. Although Tia made her debut in the pages of It's Simple, her official coming out party was the 2012 Harlem Book Fair. Needless to say, Tia was the belle of HBF. She certainly added another layer of sophistication to our booth and turned many a heads as a result. Tia was is FIERCE!

Tia Maddison of It's Simple

In case you're wondering, her Chase cometh ... soon.

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It's Simple Tees

ISTank

In preparation for Harlem Book Fair 2012, we wanted to do something different. The ladies will be rocking It's Simple tanks.

Tanks were designed by Alison Edalere-Gordon and produced by American Apparel.

Like what you see? Drop us a line and let us know.

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