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Sunshine, Here I Come

I started writing this while I was 30,000 feet in the air. My flight on Spirit was great, except for the little bit of turbulence we hit as we crossed in the south. Something about the tail end of a jet stream that spirals going east and west, while we were traveling south. The descent to land was worse than the turbulence.

I’m making my appearance in Florida a few weeks early and I’ll be honest, I have some separation anxiety going on. Oh I know my boys are quite capable of taking care of themselves. (Please boys no dancing girls, house parties and above all, “DON”T BURN MY HOUSE DOWN” while I’m gone.) They are responsible young men, who know how to cook, clean, and do their own laundry. (Don’t forget to take out the trash and scoop the litter) They can drive, at least one has a job, and the other is both extremely calm and pretty unshakeable in a crisis. (Please don’t burn down my house) And above all I trust them to take care of business.

Because if they don’t, someone will let me know. I’ll be watching you. Every move you make, every breath you take, I’ll be watching you. (D0n’t burn down my house)

Five Fierce Women of March – Entertainment Edition

March is a huge birthday month in my house.  Two of my three children were born in March, I’m at the end of March, and many of my favorite women (and men) were born in March.  Since March is a focus on Women’s History, let’s take a look at five of them.

Chaka Khan

Chaka Khan!

From Wikipedia:  Chaka Khan was born Yvette Marie Stevens on March 23, 1953 into an artistic, bohemian household in Chicago, Illinois. She was the eldest of five children to Charles Stevens and Sandra Coleman, and has described her father Charles as a beatnik and her mother as ‘able to do anything’ (bolding mine)

 Gloria Swanson

Gloria Swanson

From Wikipedia:   an American actress, singer, and producer perhaps best known for her role as Norma Desmond, a reclusive silent film star, in the critically acclaimed 1950 film, Sunset Boulevard. She was one of the most prominent stars during the silent film era as both an actress and a fashion icon, especially under the direction of Cecil B. DeMille.

 Diana Ross

Diana Ross

From Wikipedia:   an American singer, actress, record producer and an occasional songwriter. Born and raised in Detroit, she rose to fame as a founding member and lead singer of the vocal group the Supremes, which, during the 1960s, became Motown’s most successful act and is to this day America’s most successful vocal group as well as one of the world’s best-selling girl groups of all time. As part of the Supremes, Ross most notably rivaled the career of the Beatles in worldwide popularity…(bolding mine)

Joan Crawford

Joan Crawford

From Wikipedia:   a noted, Oscar-winning American film and television actress who started as a dancer and stage chorine.

She also, reportedly, disliked wire hangers……(not from Wikipedia)

Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin

Can’t leave out the Queen of Soul!  Always imitated, never duplicated, her voice soars above the rest.  Don’t believe me?  Listen to her version of Dr. Feelgood and if you’re not throwing your hands up for #church by the end of the song, then you are dead inside and might want to be checked for zombie-itis.

Go….be inspired!

Dahlia

Luscious Feature: Eden Royce – Open All Hours (Carnival Magic 2)

This is fresh off the press, new release this very day!  I have had the distinct pleasure of beta reading this author’s work and I am eager to read her newest story.  Yes, I have tendency to prattle on and on, but I’m going to – barely – restrain myself and let the work speak for itself.

Title:  Open All Hours (Carnival Magic 2)

Author:  Eden Royce

Publisher:  Changeling Press

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Theme: Interracial/MultiCultural, Shapeshifters (Other), Magic, Big Beautiful Women

Series: Carnival Magic (#2)

Length: Novella

Page Count: 72

Blurb: Leesa Cobb has been cursed to shift form into a black cat. Can Vol, the owner of a nearby diner and a grizzly bear shifter himself, help her reverse the spell?

If not, can he convince Leesa that he wants her — no matter what her species?

Excerpt: 

“Aw, darlin’, how’d you get in here?”

The small black cat let Vol reach down and slide his huge hand under her fuzzy belly. Once he made contact, it seemed to startle her into movement.

“No, you don’t.” He caught her mid-leap and brought her to his massive chest. “I’m not going to hurt you, little one.”

The cat trembled in his grip and looked down, then back up, giving a forlorn cry. He rubbed under its furry neck and was rewarded with a short rumbling purr. No collar, and while its body was light, it was sleek and muscular. So, it wasn’t a stray. He’d keep an eye out for whoever the little beauty belonged to. There was no way he was going to leave it to the October night. The temperature was plummeting and people had a suspicion of black cats. He knew as well as anyone that people tend to destroy what they didn’t understand. As he looked into the kitten’s frightened eyes and gently loosened her tiny claws from his T-shirt, he knew he wouldn’t let that happen to her.

Her? He hadn’t checked the little cat to find out her gender, but something just felt right to refer to her as a female. What was he going to do about keeping her until he could find her a home? He lived over the diner and health inspectors tended to drop in at any moment. Vol felt a tremor in the cat’s hollow belly and gave a chuckle. “Well, at least I can find you something to eat. The special’s tuna.”

Inside the restaurant was warm and well lit, the décor a fifties theme, complete with turquoise vinyl bar stools and a functioning jukebox. Earth Angel played from the speakers, the classic song covered quite well by a modern band. The wait staff was also modern in their choice to mix tattoos and piercings with biker and rockabilly clothing. A server came by with a full face of pinup girl makeup and a bald, tattooed skull. The low hum of chatter mixed with the sizzle from the flat-top grill, and the scent of seared meat made the kitten wail again.

“Two Tone!” Vol yelled from the back doorway.

A black man turned from the grill at the sound of his name. A large irregularly shaped mark covered one side of his cheek and descended to part of his neck in pale, white skin. “Yo, Vol. You been out there sleeping or something?” Tone looked around the wall that separated the kitchen from the back door.

“No, man. Something else entirely.” He pulled the struggling kitten closer to his chest. “We got any more tuna?”

The cat hissed, pushing away from the Vol’s chest with its front paws.

“Yeah, we got some.” He gestured toward the animal. “But I don’t think he’s cool with fish.”

“She,” Vol corrected, unsure of why he did so.

Buy links:  Open All Hours – Buy Now!

*Will be updated when other buy links come out – right now it’s exclusive to Changeling Press!

Spring Is In The Air.

Good Morning All!

We are int the first week of Spring…goodbye Winter. Luckily, I don’t live up North so my family didn’t get snow. A few frigid days were about it, heavy sweater weather. Since I wasn’t confined to the house I have o clue why I had the doldrums. The sun rays were bright most days and I say next to the window soaking them all in a lot of the time. But toward the end of the last few weeks I felt blah – but that is over baby! Spring is in bloom and I am about to throw open these windows and let the fresh air in.

Its time to do a little housekeeping. Especially where my home office is concerned. Over the Winter I think my files gave birth to ore paper. I have little sticky notes attached to everything. I imagine that after i shut off the lights and close the door my documents get busy and after nine days there are colorful notes running around – free. Yeah don’t judge me. LOL!

So many new idea’s, fresh approaches to some older ones.I know what I need to do. Would love to do and I am so excited to get started. Writing and I have a love/hate relationship. I love to do it and hate when I am impeded from doing so. :) My perusal of office supplies has commenced. I fully admit I probably have an unhealthy need for pens pencils and over sized post it notes, but hey its the little things that make me happy.

In the meantime, I have already bought cleaning supplies and within he next few weeks I will be washing out the old in preparation for the new. I’m a little excited about some awesome things happening this year and look forward to some challenges. To quote Nina Simone. “Its a new dawn…its a new day…and I’m feeling good.”

I told you my plans for Spring. What are you up too this season?

Kass.

Why Acknowledging Racism Doesn’t Mean You’re Feeding It: Celebrity Edition

While perusing the internet/avoiding writing, I came across this quote by Common during an interview for Huffington Post:

“Me as a black man, I’m not sitting there like, ‘Hey, white people, y’all did us wrong.’ We know that existed. I don’t even have to keep bringing that up. It’s like being in a relationship and continuing to bring up the person’s issues. Now I’m saying, ‘Hey, I love you. Let’s move past this. Come on, baby, let’s get past this.’”

The unfortunate side effect of today’s mainstream and social media, is that it sometimes gives us the opportunity to show the paradox that is human nature in uncomplimentary ways. Surface level, there is nothing wrong with this quote. Common doesn’t want to dwell on the wrongs of racism by pointing the finger at white people. Good. Not all white people are a part of the problem, so why would he? Not all people of any ethnicity are all bad or all good.

But unfortunately, Common is a celebrity, one who was very deeply entrenched in the film “Selma” which chronicles the height of the Civil Rights Movement in this country. So his words are being heard on a larger scale than some of his contemporaries. The quote while seemingly harmless, seems to espouse the idea that racism is directly related to holding a grudge against white people and discussing the issue ad nauseam, that it “existed” rather than that it still exists. Racism isn’t about a grudge, though. Racism is much bigger than that and so are it’s long reaching repercussions, not just for black men and women, but for all ethnicities. There are plenty of white men and women who want nothing more than to see a world that doesn’t denigrate their fellow human beings because of melanin. I think it does a disservice to all of the above to compare it to a rough spell in an otherwise loving, committed relationship.

Humanity is a beautiful mess. On the one hand we are inextricably bound to one another, linked and tied and sharing this world. It makes sense to want to love each other and move past the sadness and anger of the past. On the other hand, we’re all separate beings, and our experiences are as varied as our shades. So, too, are the ways in which we approach and are approached by something like racism. How can we love one another and ignore each other at the same time? Racism, like so much of our human existence, is a paradox. It is something we created, but it’s not something we can control so easily. It also has many layers, and that can make it complicated to capture, contain or recognize. It is the oil spill to our vast ocean of consciousness, which I suppose is why no one, not even the celebrities that espouse solutions for racism, can seem to agree on how to clean it up.

Celebrities like Whoopi Goldberg, Pharrell Williams, Morgan Freeman and Keke Palmer, to name just a few, have gone on record to disavow the concept of racism, pointing to their desire to see all human beings as equal, or their own success, as reasons why racism is no longer a mainstream issue. Here are some choice quotes that illustrate their philosophies:

Morgan Freeman, on how we are going to “get rid of racism?”: “Stop talking about it!”

His quote was actually the inspiration for this video I found on Upworthy, which may be better articulated than my thoughts:

Keke Palmer: “I feel bad for those that choose to believe they’re doomed. You’re doomed because you believe so.”

Pharrell Williams: “The ‘new black’ doesn’t blame other races for our issues. The “new black” dreams and realizes that it’s not a pigmentation; it’s a mentality. And it’s either going to work for you, or it’s going to work against you. And you’ve got to pick the side you’re gonna be on.”

Pharrell, despite the hit he’s taken from the “Blurred Lines” lawsuit, has had an enviable, genre-crossing career. From N.E.R.D. to “Happy”, he has managed to succeed, and in doing so has coined a term that is supposed to be emblematic of today’s successful black person: “New Black”. “New Black” is a term that’s catching, and so is his philosophy since doing the Oprah interview that catapulted that term into the public consciousness, at least for black people that frequent Tumblr, lol. In calling himself “new black” and calling racism a mentality, he has forgotten a very important thing. Our singular reality doesn’t apply to everyone, and it cannot erase a pattern of conduct that others experience in groups. The idea behind “new black” seems to be that if you absorb this mentality (mentality here being racism), then you are inviting in elements that are “going to work against you”. Racism is not a choice to wallow in defeat, but the presumption is that all one need to do is choose to “dream” instead.

I don’t believe that any impediment should define us, and so I understand the idea of combating negativity with positivity. I understand that race is a social construct, and racism/race relations is born of that social construct. It’s no more real than the invisible barriers that separate countries…and yet we all still have to obey the laws that govern countries constructed withing our human-made and invisible barriers. We still have to use paper with drawings on it for currency. As unfair as it is, despite the American economic collapse being directly attributed to Wall Street, people still struggle to find employment while the CEOs that caused the collapse received golden parachutes in addition to their regular salaries. Money they can’t spend in a lifetime was used to buoy their fall, money that could have saved so many from hardship. Money is also a human construct, but to the people that are suffering for lack of it, it is very real.

And truthfully applying this ideology to any other systemic problem would show it falls flat. Say a celebrity was asked about sexual assault, and their answer was to say, “I don’t believe in it. I choose not to talk about it or think about it or focus on it because it’s a mentality.” I can’t imagine no one would contest that.

Then take into account how some of our worst systemic issues – racism, sexism, poverty, homophobia, ableism, child abuse – intersect, with victims sometimes belonging to several disenfranchised groups, and you’re essentially telling some individuals that their experiences are their fault because they didn’t believe them to be untrue with enough vigor.

You can want everyone to be treated equally, fairly, strive for that, expect it even, and still understand the reality and implications of racism. After all, these celebrities know full well, with all the traveling and hard work they do, that whatever our beliefs are, we still have to live in this world. They still get paid for what they do and use that paper money to pay their bills. And when they travel first class to whatever destination is next on their schedule, I doubt they leave their passport at home.

Under disguise. How certain acts affect the authors and the publishing world.

I came across this as a face book status and given the broo-ha-ha of this book and it’s subject I asked the author’s permission to reprint her commentary as a blog post. She can be found on facebook. I have not edited or altered this post in anyway and applaud the author for her stance. Her views are not necessarily shared with everyone but I like what she had to say.

these brain bruises frustrate me more than i can fully express.

anyway, here goes: Jenny Trout vs. Stephanie Dray

for those of you unfamiliar, this is a huge thing in the erotica world. Dray is an author who takes historical white male figures (from Presidents to Inventors) and writes them with mistresses. for her latest manuscript, this . . . *person* decided to write about Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson.

as an erotica. BDSM. a 14 year old Black slave girl and her nearly four times older master and owner. romanticized.

::takes a breath::

so, Trout, appalled as any fully-functioning and intellectually-processing individual would, expressed her disgust via her website in an honestly calm and presentable manner. she suggested, knowing how things work in the days of 50 Shades of Shit, that if by morbid curiosity one needs to read such shit to find it illegally, not to contribute to this woman’s profits from the torment and victimization of this young slave girl.

of course, the Internets went insane.

by the time i’d read about it, Trout’s opinions and suggestions were being warped into commands against Dray’s right to write (hehe) whatever she wants, violating Dray’s 1st Amendment rights, blah, blah, blah.

now, this is coming from a Black woman that enjoyed Birth of a Nation. before you try to snatch my Card, i learned more about Slavery and Reconstruction and how far we’d gotten within those 190min than i ever did in elementary, middle, and high school.

and this is why i believe Jenny Trout fucked up.

while we live in a time with easy-access information, we also live in time of chosen ignorance. we live in a nation that believes in shout (or shoot) first, ask questions later. we don’t analyze. we don’t fully actualize a situation before executing a half-ass reaction.

Jenny Trout’s reaction has now shifted the focus from protesting this disgusting book to an argument about bullying (a word being used way too often and way too loosely) and free speech, subsequently shoving support Stephanie Dray’s way, no matter the content of the fucking book itself.

this isn’t 1909; if a book is shitty, it will go away. just like that shitty movie Jefferson in Paris is pretty much forgotten. (another take on Hemings/Jefferson.) i understand her need to bring it to light in some sort of way in order for people to be aware of its shittiness (sorry, the lesions brought me this far but refuse any other describer other than variances of shit), but Ms. Trout has to be aware of how brief and cruel the Internets are: they will take a part of your shit and run with it, context be damned. people want sensation and excitement. they will find it any way they please. she also has to understand her “fans” ain’t all thinking the same way she does. i’m pretty sure JD Salinger wasn’t instructing to kill, but Mark David Chapman was ready for his orders and followed through.

we have to tread in a completely different way these days when it comes to the word, written or spoken, and film. certain attention can and will bring an unexpected result, hence Trout being torn apart and threatened and now actually, really, truly bullied and Dray looking like she wrote the goddamn Constitution. Dray’s book will now find the success that it never would have in the first place. doesn’t even matter if people don’t read it; they *bought* the shit. and we all know money talks. i’d never even heard of this ho before this whole thing came up. the issue is being discussed in a *Horror Writers* group. horror! not even erotica or smut! fucking horror! and all because of how this shit got out of hand.

the lesson isn’t the same as BoaN, but it’s still rooted in a warped sense of inconsequential entitlement to the 1st Amendment. perhaps when reading, the elimination of Sally’s assumed consensual and romantic feelings would touch on the torment and hell this young woman went through, but that’s a brain exercise i have no desire to engage in.

we as smut-authors must think in a different way in order to bring the proper attention to this shit book. we have to approach in a way that will do what needs to be done: make this shit disappear. not banned, not censored, but simply fall to the goddamn no-light broke-ass wayside. as the saying goes, bad publicity is better than no publicity. and we just blew this idiot’s shit out of the water.

UPDATE: Dray wrote this under the pseudonym Fionna Free Man (ha! isn’t she cheeky! -__-) and it is “free” on some websites. “free” for self-publishing isn’t the same “free” we think of: the download still counts as a purchase, though there’s no charge to you. it is a marketing ploy to bolster popularity and still lines (by means of half-cents) the author’s pockets in some way. do not fall for this. (only in this case. if my shit is free, y’all better get it. NO EXCUSES!)

Banana Bread

This is a favorite in my family and the menfolk can’t wait until it’s barely cool enough to eat.

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed very ripe bananas (3 to 4 medium)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped nuts, if desired

Directions

  • Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pans will be in center of oven. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottoms only of 2 loaf pans, 8 1/2×4 1/2×2 1/2 inches, or 1 loaf pan, 9x5x3 inches. 
  • Mix sugar and butter in large bowl. Stir in eggs until well blended. Add bananas, buttermilk and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt just until moistened. Stir in nuts. Pour into pans. 
  • Bake 8-inch loaves about 1 hour, 9-inch loaf about 1 1/4 hours, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Loosen sides of loaves from pans; remove from pans and place top side up on wire rack. Cool completely, about 2 hours, before slicing. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature up to 4 days, or refrigerate up to 10 days.
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