Thursday, August 24, 2006

Queens Book Fair Update & New Author Shoutout

Good Morning Folks!

The Queens Book Fair went off without a hitch last Saturday. It was held in the lovely but sandy Rufus King Park. The sponsors Carol and Brenda of C&B Books Distribution, did it up nicely with an act that totally floored me: they'd purchased tents for each of the authors.

Although admittedly a smaller affair than the Harlem Book Fair, which I attended last month, I must say that it was a much more enjoyable experience for me.

The traffic was slower, which was not a bad thing, since it was just me manning my table. However, I practically emptied out my supply of handouts to browsers as well as to fellow authors.

My table was situated between Faye Thompson, author of In her Mother's Shadow and Bea Joyner, author of A Taste of Things to Come and Don't Need No Soaps, My Life is Soap Enough! two gracious women. It was a bit of a downer to not have any books to sell and at first the old green-eyed monster reared its ugly head as Faye proceeded to enthusiastically sign books for her fans. However, as the day progressed, I regained my perspective and began to enjoy her moment almost as much as she did.

After a while, with her mom's vigilant eye on my table, I was free to make my way around to the other tables to do what I love to do best: browse books, meet the authors who wrote them and obtain contact information to stay in touch and to give them a shout out!

So please bookmark this page and check back often as I commence my shoutouts. In the next few weeks I'll be introducing you to some rich and resonant voices starting with today's at age twelve.

Yes, age twelve. That would be Zykeya McLeod. A twelve-year-old author I was blessed to meet. I don't know if I was more flabbergasted at her age or her topic, but I was so proud, you would
have sworn that I was her mama. Her book, An Inner Child Speaks, deals with physical abuse. I found it to be a well-written, poignant, yet down-to-earth book, which begs for a sequel. (Hint, hint)

I also had a lovely conversation with Zykeya and her mother and promised to help get the word out about Zykeya's accomplishment as well at the topic which gels so closely with mine. I've two things in the works, on their behalf, but I
don't want to tip my hand until I get things nailed down, but do give them your support and be sure to tell them that Dee sent you. (By the way... when I say support... I was kinda talking about moving past the "Oh my! How wonderful" right on the, "I'll have one to go please."

Let's show that we know how to support our community--especially those hurting amongst us.

Till next time.

Peace,
Dee

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

What Jogs Your Memory?

Good Morning People!

Singing: We made it! We survived... errr... da da dum, dum

Yeah, yeah I don't remember the rest of the words. I just know it's a gospel song from a bootleg CD ... ahem... CD I bought and those words describe exactly how I feel at this point in time.

Which reminds me of a question I'd meant to ask y'all a while back but before I do, do we have any "Living Single" fans in the house?

If so, do y'all remember Max? (played by actress Erica Alexander). The eat-too-durn-much-a-holic? It cracked me up in one episode when Khadijah (played by actress/model/songstress Queen Latifah) asked Max if she remembered a certain incident.

Max's initial response was no. Then Khadijah mentioned what Max was eating at the time and presto--her recollection of that moment in time was a miraculous thing.

Well, most of my memories are connected to music. I've been singing all my life and in fact, were it not for music I would not be here, much less the devout Christian I am today. There was a time when my life was so rife with strife that I had a hard time hearing the Word. I mean, who wanted to hear the Words of a God who allowed, wife beating, daddies who slept with their daughters and boys who kept going when you said stop? Oh come on now, I know someone out there knows what I'm talking about. The loss of hope, the feeling of worthlessness, the lack of friends because we push everyone away to ensure continued secrecy?[i]

Well--as soon as a preacher began to preach--I was present in body but absent in mind. But not so with music. The choir could sing all it wanted and that was enough of a sermon for me. I believe that is the very essence of and, to me, explains the universal appeal of music. It has the ability to go where no man has gone before. It is Godlike in its ability to reach down into the depths of our very being and melt a hardened heart, comfort a bruised spirit and soothe a chaotic mind.

I'd often say to all and sundry, "It's a wonder that I'm here today," or "I don't know how I made it." But in retrospect I knew--I just didn't know that I knew. Unable to reach me by spoken Word, God who is the Word, reached my by the constant repetition of Word wrapped in lyrics and accompanied by musical instruments was able to keep my demons at bay and imbue me with the strength needed to survive as well as plant a seed of hope which one day was watered by the spoken Word that I was finally willing and ready to hear.[ii]

Today, when I hear certain songs like:

Here and Now: It swoops me smack dab into the memory of my favorite sister's wedding. I had the honor of singing it. But above all that I remember her trembling but taking that huge step head held high, but what garnered my attention most was my brother-in-law, big strong
strapping ex-football player weeping unashamedly--in public! That was not a thing of my experience. Upon viewing that sensitivity, I think that's the moment we connected and what has enabled us to be close friends, family and eventually mentor (him) and mentee (me). But that's another issue.

Low in the Grave He Lay: Pulls me straight back to my homeland, Trinidad and Tobago in the West Indies.

I peered through the dusk at the scene which drew the focus of all present--the sight of a blindfolded man clad in white shirt and pants, being submerged in the water. I recall thinking that it seemed as though Elder had a tempo going. Wave one, wave two, wave three--submerge, resurrect, turn to the congregation, glare and demand, "Why aren't you singing? Sing!" Then assured of blind obedience he'd turn around and reach for the next candidate for baptism being ushered his way.

As I looked longingly at the boy, a relative of Elder's, who was allowed to sleep, the white clad members of the congregation renewed their efforts at singing Low in the Grave He Lay, the song that later explained to me the symbolism of the candidates being submerged in the cold surf and resurrected one after the other at that godforsaken hour of the morning. But at that point in time, all I could wonder was, Don't they know another song? How come he gets to sleep and I have to stay awake? Shucks there's another mosquito. Yeeech, this sand is sooo cold and it's all between my toes... Are we done yet![iii]

Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen: Wings me once again to the land of my birth and a clear cut vision of my eight or nine-year-old self, up under the house[iv] mumbling to myself in between stifled sobs and hiccups, When I get older I'm gonna leave this place and these mean people[v] behind. Always beating people, as if they her mother. My mammy's not here. She's in America. I don't see why I have to empty and wash the stupid poseys[vi] anyways. I'm the youngest and if I can hold it all night how come they can't? I'm going to stay here all day and not come out--that'll show them!

The Long and Winding Road: Transports me to the sense of accomplishment and belonging I felt at the eighth grade choir competition when our secret weapon (thirteen year old Tommy with a head full of red hair and a tenor to die for) stepped up to the microphone and flawlessly sang, "Many times I've been alone and many times I've cried, anyway you'll never know the many times I've tried" As though rehearsed, the audience rose for a standing ovation and we were awarded straight 1's. As he rounded our excited group up to board our bus for the trip back to our school, my eyes couldn't help but take in the huge first place trophy he held protectively (or was it possessively?) in his grasp.

Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me: Gives me goose bumps as I remember a balmy summer night back in 1988: my ex-fiancé and I singing along with the radio and singing to each other as we sat in his bright yellow Toyota in the parking lot at the beach. I can't remember who was Elton John and who was George Michael, but I remember thinking, Yes! This is the one, he's on key, knows all the words and is actually singing them to me! This is soooo romantic! I might even...

Okay now y'all didn't think I was gonna finish that thought did ya? LOL.

Now don't make me think that the mythical character Max and I are the only ones with memory joggers. What jogs your memory?



[i] If dealing with this situation please use this link to get help.

[ii] Which is why it is so important that we guard our souls. Guard our souls you ask? Yes. We need to take stock of what we hear constantly, what may seem harmless, funny even. Because whether we realize it or not, what we hear constantly becomes a seed planted in us that can later be watered. Our soul has no filter it just ingests data and the filter then becomes our connection with the Holy Spirit. The more we submit to the leading of the Holy Spirit the more we are able to filter out the unwanted data, however if there's little or no connection with the Holy Spirit, then our unawakened spirit has a whole lotta work to do trying to filter unwanted data on its own.

[iii] Oh wow! Lightbulb! I think I just connected my aversion to the beach and sand between my toes to this memory as its source. Phewww... that's why I love this business of writing.
[iv]
The island’s uneven terrain had most houses on stilts.

[v] My sisters … LOL

[vi] Also known as the chamber pot. Indoor plumbing was not yet prevalent.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Queens Book Fair

I will be attending the Queens Book Fair on August 19th in Queens, New York. The timing is perfect because it will be four days after the official release of AIJAN (and my 41st birthday). To celebrate both I've set up a new discount opportunity.

Now call me prejudiced and in this instance I must say that I am, based on the fact that I was the proprietor on an online bookstore. It grieved me dearly to go out of business because I know for a fact that there were enough African Americans out there to keep me in business for years to come--yet it seemed as though they preferred to spend their dollars elsewhere.

I now know that it was really not a part of God's plan for me to continue as a bookstore proprietor but a part of His preparation process for my authorship. But the part of me that still whispers at night "I coulda been a contender" feels strongly about African American dollars going towards African American businesses. So to that end I've partnered with the proprietor of The Book ClubHouse, an independent bookseller, so that members of my lists may purchase AIJAN for $10.75 (less additional discount with special coupon code "queens06" at checkout making the cost $9.88 + $1.75 Standard S/H = $11.63 Total Cost).

NOTE: Coupon code expires August 31, 2006.

For those of you in New York:

Want to reserve it and purchase it autographed at the Queens Book Fair?

First 1-20 people to reserve a copy: $8.96 (25% off)
First 21-40 people to reserve a copy: $9.20 (23% off)
First 41-60 people to reserve a copy: $9.56 (20% off)

Remember ... the early bird gets the best discount!

Peace,
Dee

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A Bit of "Dear Abby" Humor

I received the following post in one of my Yahoo groups today. Now although it states that these are real letters received by Dear Abby ... I really didn't attempt to verify for the fact they're more hilarious than serious--Enjoy!

REAL LETTERS THAT DEAR ABBY GOT TO WHICH SHE ADMITTED SHE WAS AT A LOSS TO ANSWER: Maybe you have a snappy answer you would like
to share?? Reply with answers.

Dear Abby,

A couple of women moved in across the hall from me. One is a middle-aged gym teacher and the other is a social worker in her mid twenties. These two women go everywhere together and I've never seen a man go into or leave their apartment. Do you think they could be Lebanese?

Dear Abby,
What can I do about all the Sex, Nudity, Fowl Language and Violence On My VCR?

Dear Abby,
I have a man I can't trust. He cheats so much, I'm not even sure the baby I'm carrying is his.

Dear Abby,
I am a twenty-three year old liberated woman who has been on the pill for two
years. It's getting expensive and I think my boy friend should share half the cost, but I don't know him well enough to discuss money with him.

Dear Abby,
I've suspected that my husband has been fooling around, and when confronted with the evidence, he denied everything and said it would never happen again.

Dear Abby,
Our son writes that he is taking Judo. Why would a boy who was raised in a good Christian home turn against his own?

Dear Abby,
I joined the Navy to see the world. I've seen it. Now how do I get out?

Dear Abby,
My forty year old son has been paying a psychiatrist $50.00 an hour every eek for two and a half years. He must be crazy.

Dear Abby,
I was married to Bill for three months and I didn't know he drank until one night he came home sober.

Dear Abby,
My mother is mean and short tempered. I think she is going through mental pause.

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