Friday, August 7, 2015

Ring the Alarm, Disarm, then Arm

I had a revelation this morning while mall walking or should I say, re-revelation. The opposite of haphazard is intentional. We have to be clear in our ideas, our focus and our execution. There is a song out by Travis Greene called, "Intentional" It goes: All things are working for my good cause He's intentional, never failing.Of course, the He that he (Travis) is referring to is the almighty God-never failing. He's our perfect example. I couldn't help thinking as I rounded the corners past Urban outfitters and a few anchor Department stores still left in the mall about intent or motive. I was bombarded about the newest case of a black man, Samuel Dubose, 43, who was shot and killed by the police in Cincinnati. I sat in the car earlier in the day on the 45 minute trek listening to reports and discussing it with my thirteen year old daughter. I wonder how many cases like this does her young ears hear before she becomes desensitized to the injustices. Do we know what our babies internalize? She has seen the dash cam video. I have not. Reporters are talking about the situation escalating. How does a routine traffic stop, or a boy buying skittles, for that matter, or a man selling cigarettes escalate to death? A million things run through my mind such as what they do to us and what we do to ourselves. I try to capture the good productive stuff to try and explain the crisis we are in to my teen. One thing, I know for sure, in this case, and in the Sandra Bland case, and the case of the teen girl slammed to the ground after a neighborhood pool party is that those cops' intention was clear, to dominate, to disrespect, maybe even use their authority to destroy another human's life. If they are intentional, we have to be intentional, as role models, as parents, as educators on how we discuss, organize , protest and equip our kids to deal with authority. We are in crisis. We have to arm our kids to be apart of the next big Civil Rights movement. We, many with a degree or two of separation from the actual Civil Rights movement, are the bridge to the past.Some of our children if not the majority have to be the catalyst if not be a direct part of the solution. As an educator,I cannot help but draw the parallels of the war waged on the street to what is seen in the public schools. I know my people. I know kids. I teach middle school, for goodness sake, a mirror of what is going on in the larger nation. Kids are mouthy as all get out, incensed easily, and lack respect for authority. To even unlock what they know, to get to what they need to know, part of my job is disarm them. Not to make light of the situation, but it's sort of like a lion tamer meets an ATF bomb expert sometimes. In the Sandra Bland case, one of the first things the arresting officer expressed to her was that she seemed a little agitated. To which she gave the flippant response, "I am. I'm wondering why you pulled me over when I was trying to get out of your way." If that was the case, her apparent tone was out in the open. I believe a rational cop with no agenda besides the public safety should have been able to disarm her. What happened to kid gloves? Disarm, disarm, disarm, damnit! Diffuse the situation. Professionals who deal with the public like Customer Service Representatives do it all the time. In my classroom, I am the professional, so when a kid tells me by word or deed that he/she is having a bad day, I believe them. I give them no pass, but my humanness allows them a moment to regroup. I let them know I hear them; I reassure them. I'm clear about my intention. We hopefully deescalate the situation. I thank God for the great men and women in uniform who do that on a daily basis. We must agree there are some who need this type of basic sensitivity training, and still others that need to be purged from Civil Service-ness altogether. How, then, do we arm our kids to combat the atrocities of the day? Is it too cliché to say Education is the key? Media was fast to show what they considered the missteps of our protests in the streets of Ferguson and Baltimore. In many ways our kids' insolence and perceived indifference is a protest in and of itself. It gets back to the question of have we equipped our kids with tools ( the lessons of history and the language of civil disobedience to name a few.) We have to instruct our kids. How many "Birds & bees, and how NOT to be a victim," conversations are going on not only with our African American sons, but also, now, our daughters. I dare say it has to go a step further. We have to be intentional about our expectations for our children and teach them the distractions that can derail this game plan. We have to pray that our kids don't roam the Earth haphazardly, but find purpose. That might mean that just like on social media, we have to teach our kids to manage our friends and acquaintance and purge them to like-minded individuals or those we aspire to glean from. No one class, grade, school or degree will fill in all the gaps of life for us. We have to be life-long learners. We have to tend to our trauma. We have to teach our kids to make integrity their intention. We have to understand that we can influence, but the only one we can truly control is ourselves. If we hate stereotypes, we've got to stop being one. We have got to get along to be apart of a movement. That means we have to stop disrespecting each other for sport. We're outraged and vocal for a reason. I pray we can be intentional with our fervor, and that our hope cannot be squelched by current circumstances.
I begrudgingly wrote the Battle of Wills for an anthology that I was compiling with other writers to be published on my own imprint (publishing company). I seldom write short stories. I was introduced to a term that altered my perspective as a literary entrepreneur: exploit your copyright, first taught and explained to me by Author, Filmmaker and Professor, Booker T. Mattison. Basically, it means adapting my own work in multiple mediums to expand my brand and message. Stay attached to my work especially when negotiating an option to the stage or screen. Summary: Nate and Lisa Green struggle with submission in their marriage. When they choose to get counseling outside the church from an eccentric former classmate who uses a popular book series rather than the Bible as a reference, they find themselves out of God’s will and unrecognizable to one another. Call it satire or a spoof of 50 Shades, it carries the theme that everything is not for everybody.It was a summer just like this one, two years ago, where I decided to turn my short story into a stageplay. I volunteered with the DC Black Theatre Festival and was inspired to see my work on the stage. Time, tenacity and the move of God will have me waking up on June 27^th in the middle of my dream where my talented cast will bring to life the relationship of Nate and Lisa Green in the “Battle of Wills.”

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A Perfect Vocal: A Revision Model

Teena Marie had one in the song, “Fire and Desire,” and Luther Vandross had several throughout his career, Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway and Phillip Bailey as a lead in the mega –group Earth, Wind and Fire. I’m talking about a perfect vocal where notes are delivered so clear that they touch down masterfully onto the musical melody. It’s undeniable, not a note, rift or run has to be changed. Most likely a production engineer did not say,” Let’s run that back and try again.” No remix needed. A remake by another artist is not advised. This is why I listen to music while I’m editing a novel. It reminds me that perfection is possible. Artistry begets Artistry. We are all looking to produce as Larenz Tate described in the movie, Love Jones, ‘the definitive work’. Julia Cameron in the book, The Artist Way talks about taking an artist date where you nourish your inner artist by indulging in muse-worthy activities. It could be a day at the theater, a movie or a leisurely walk through a park. You can find me taking my date tethered to Beats headphones with my 1418 song playlist. What defines us- our brand – our message must all be contemplated when you’re editing. How will this work measure up to other books, and how will it stand out? Revising a novel like recording a song must concentrate on what a work is saying. A great beat is cool, but a song has to be lyrically strong for me to make a connection. Everyone knows or has known someone who can just,” . . .love them and leave them.” Still others may identify with the raw and vengeful voice of newcomer, Jazmine Sullivan who boldly confesses, ‘I bust the windows out your car.” Plotlines are everywhere. I create a playlist with each book I write as if I were asked to make a soundtrack for the movie version. Each song reminds me of the minutest detail in my story make up. When I edit, I whittle my first draft back to my characters motivation and the pursuit of their goal. My goal is to reach the very nerve ending of my characters certainly, but my readers as well, and poke at it. In fact on of my themes of my new book, Submissionary, about an unlikely missionary on his way to Haiti, is about editing his relationships after a long absence. It’s a process, you either love or hate, but it is necessary. Revising a novel like recording a song is all about the way in which you say things. Who can forget Adele’s break out hit, “Someone Like You.” Now, that’s a perfect vocal in its mix of what its saying and how it is said. It has very poignant lyrics, and it is haunting in its delivery. I try to be a relationship weaver in that same respect to show those bonds between people, and, certainly the bond between a person and their creator is what art is all about. It’s about experience. I guesstimate 85% of the songs written at its core are about relationships. Most of them are not ever covered the same way. Love has subtle nuances you don’t get right the first time whether on a digitally mastered MP3 or the printed page. The way people meet, how they love and how they clash, ultimately calls for creativity in one’s delivery. I must remember as a novelist that it’s not just the outcome but how my characters arrive there. It’s about the journey that seems fresh and new. When you achieve what you’re trying to say and how you are trying to say it, you’ve just laid the perfect track. Admittedly, not everyone achieves it. You got to tinker with the elements- Earth, Wind and Fire – your Fire and Desire to get it right, and the saving grace of talent.

Some Thoughts Take Longer to Complete

I am motivated by tangents – obsessions really. I remember in my late twenties being obsessed by what I consider the lost artform of quilting. I read up on it, went to exhibitions, and endeavored to make one myself. I made a photo transfer quilt for my family and went on to make other decorative pieces (earning a blue ribbon at the Charles Co. fair.) Then just like that, I felt like, I think I’ll write a book. You can imagine that writing a book becomes an all-consuming task. Maybe it’s because I write Christian fiction but research becomes Bible study and the message resembles ministry. I liken writing a novel to completing a thought. Second to characterization, theme is so important to how and why I write. I start off with a bunch of questions and a few big ideas and characters big and bold enough to embody what I find out. Through the process of writing, I seek to come up with some answers and complete a thought. My second book, Path to Promise in the LOP series (Land of Promiscuity) is about to come out this fall. The characters, Rebecca (Weary) and Will have traipsed through my mind for a long time. I knew them to be characters, but sat them on the shelf for a good ten years. I figure to endeavor to do His will without getting weary has to be the struggle of every Christian, not just me. I should have known these characters would need more than one book to bring their story to a close. So outside of trying to complete their story I wanted to find other stories, and other’s interpretation of these scriptures. So watch out for an anthology that I compiled on my imprint Holy*Ghost*Writing*. It is my hope that you will pre-order and buy Path to Promise and for its October 29th release and support these new and experienced authors I’ve invited into this conversation titled ( wink, wink), you guessed it, Weary and Will on November 12th.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Write Away Weekend October 5-7, 2012 Fort Washington, Maryland Put your writing goals and dreams on you to-do list! Change of Pace, Change of Productivity, Give Yourself the Write Away! Write Away Weekend is an intimate writer's residency at the tranquil Private Stay by Madly Living bed and breakfast in Fort Washington, MD. Writers of Write Away will be focused, inspired and productive amongst a supportive community of writers. Hosted by Multi-published author,Sherryle Kiser Jackson. Space is limited to only ten slots with an option for daystayers and overnighters at our inaugural event. Make your writing goals a priority and reserve your spot today. Check us out on the web for payment details at: http://www.writeaway.vpweb.com

Monday, February 20, 2012

2012 Favorite Literary Couples

There is no mistake I am a hopeless romantic. First hint, I was married on Valentine’s Day. Second, some of my favorite movies are Love Jones, where Larenz Tate’s character tells Nia Long’s character, “Love is serious as a &$%#@^&*,” and Love and Basket ball where Sanaa Latham knocks on the window of neighbor and first love, Omar Epps and challenges him to a game of one on one basketball, “for his heart.” I eat that stuff up.
Love is complicated, and I thank God He caters love stories to each and every couple. I got to thinking, this Valentine’s day, of Literary couples whose pursuit and / or possibility of love stuck with me long after I finished the book. Here they are in no particular order except #1.

1. Lena and Herman from Tina Mc Elroy Ansa’s novel, The Hand I Fan With. You got to read this love story. One of my favorite books of all time. Let’s just say, Herman is, shall we say, other –worldly, and is tailor made for her. He loves him some Lena, and love him she does.
2. & 3. Triptych. Look it up on both on Amazon and Dictionary (dot) com. Buy it. Read it. It’s worth it. Like #1, this is not Christian Fiction. This book takes two spots because, well you just have to read to understand, but I looooved what Wendy Coakley Thompson does with the character Ally. You go girl, that goes for Ally and Wendy. As far as couples go, there are two that stuck with me, Ally and Jonathan and Ally and Tim to quote the author from the front cover to better explain this triangle, death and infidelity. Straight up. With an erotic twist.
4.Gideon and Arizona from Eric Jerome Dickey’s Gideon Series (Sleeping with Strangers, Waking With Enemies, Resurrecting Midnight) Why aren’t they together? Uh, maybe cause they are both armed, dangerous and explosive together. Under all that grit, there is love. They’ve darn near laid down their life for one another in several scenes, and in their business, the biases of a love affair can be costly. Even in one of the last books where she appeared to be permanently linked to another man, who was there to save and nurse her back to health? Love him, love them.
5.Up pops love, in my girl, Rhonda Mcknight’s short story, “ A Piece of Revenge” in the trilogy of stories found in A Woman’s Revenge .Tamera Watson finds a hunky detective in Kemuel Powers to help her track down her husband and save her from going postal on him when he runs away with her dreams. I love the possibility of them and urge my sister-writer-friend to revisit them at some point.
6. Lady Jasmine could be paired with anyone. She’s beautiful, crafty and smart, but her heart ultimately belongs to Hosea Bush. Victoria Christopher Murray has weaved this love story in several books ( A Sin and a Shame, Too Little Too Late, and Lady Jasmine,to name a few). I l ove Hosea. I want to steal him from Jasmine. He’s too good for her. This couple’s relationship has been tested by fire. They’ve been to hell and back with Jasmine driving sometimes, but they manage to stick in there. I wonder did Victoria know Jasmine’s capacity to love from book one, Temptation?
7, From Miranda Parker’s debut novel, A Good Excuse to be Bad, bounty hunter, Angeline Crawford and her pastor-slash-crush ,Justus send off sparks. It proves the chase is sexy.
8. Regina Burns married Blue Hamilton from Pearl Cleage’s Baby Brother Blues shows that tough guys fall hard. Blue shows up in other novels by Cleage as this community activist-slash-Neighborhood Watch-Hell’s Angel character. He’s smooth, could have anyone but chooses Regina. His passion for her and his community mission pours from the page.
9. You thought I wasn’t? Certainly, if I love an authentic love story, I would try to write a few. Newlywed and nearly insane, Willie and Vanessa Green combines their congregation and invite new troubles into their new union in Soon and Very Soon and again in Soon After.
Deidre Collins and Andre Hicks is my "Been there, done that" couple who parted ways and are brought back together when their teenaged son starts making all the mistakes they made in my sophomore release,The Manual
10. Pamela “Pill” Taylor vowed to live a fabulous life. What will the mirror of marriage reveal about her past? Poor Corey didn't know his new wife came with a promissory note, but he loved her furiously. Corey and Pill are from my current selection, Taylor Made.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

My New Book Contract


An idea for a novel starts as a notion that becomes an obsession. Writing the novel is therefore obssessive compulsive behavior ~Sherryle Kiser Jackson

Soon and Very Soon Book Trailer