Last Thoughts on Democratic Convention, and Pick Your Favorite Version of This Week's Song

Great convention! I hope there are plenty of Obama converts around the country this morning after he spoke last night and shared with voters what he plans to do for them. Lots of luck, John McCain, trying to fill that 10,000-seat venue in St. Paul (there were nearly 80,000 people at Mile-High Stadium who came out to see Senator Obama).

Now, I think that the Obama daughters are cute as the proverbial buttons. I'm curious to know if I'm the only one who thought they were dressed a little old? The older girl wore dresses with spaghetti straps on both the night her mother spoke and last night, when her father accepted the nomination (and the bodice of her dress Monday night was black, for heaven's sake). Surely clothing manufacturers make short-sleeve or sleeveless dresses in appropriate colors for kids her age? Black-bodiced dresses are cute on toddlers - they're usually paired with poufy skirts in bright colors like pink or yellow or even red - but after that stage that color is best retired until a girl is a woman. To me black spaghetti straps suggest a sexiness that has no place on an adolescent. I thought the younger girl would have had her hair in braids and be wearing lace-trimmed anklet socks or something you'd expect to see on a 7-year-old. For a moment I actually thought she was wearing stockings before telling myself I had to be imagining things and she was just bare-legged. Are there people who actually subject children that young to relaxers every seven weeks? (of course, her hair might have just been pressed with a hot comb, but even that's no picnic for a child, as I know firsthand from all those days-before-Easter).

Maybe I'm just hopelessly behind the times, but I do believe in letting kids look their age, especialy now that kids are often taller than they used to be. A 7-year-old shouldn't look like she's 10, and a 10-year-old shouldn't look like she's 13.
Getting off my soapbox with a hearty, "Go, Obama!"
It's Friday, time to choose your favorite version of the same song. I liked this weeks' selection the first time I heard it on Marvin Gaye's classic I Want You album (yeah, back then they were big black vinyl records). But when Fourplay covered it years later with vocals by El DeBarge, I decided I liked this later version even better. Y'all know I usually don't like remakes, and Marvin's version is of his usual excellent quality, but that remake was off the chain! What do you think?

Marvin Gaye

Fourplay featuring El DeBarge

A fun, happy, safe Labor Day weekend to all, and may God protect the people of the Gulf region.
All Things Convention

I stayed up and watched Hillary's speech last night. The best thing about living in the Midwest has got to be Central Standard Time. All our programming comes on (and goes off!!) an hour earlier than it does in the East. I got to see the entire speech and was still snoring by 10:20PM.

Her speech wasn't bad, but I did think she got a little caught up in the I-did-this and I-did-that toward the middle. It was sweet how the camera caught Bill looking so loving and misty-eyed, but are my husband and I the only ones who thought he looked a little like W.C. Fields around the nose? I never would have described his nose as bulbous before, but it sure looks that way to me now!

I'm still chuckling about something Huggy Bear reported on Monday on the Tom Joyner Morning Show. He said he saw a bum wearing an Obama T-shirt walking near the convention site, telling people it's time for some spare change. Funny, huh?
Yes, I've Strayed

Not in the way you think. I'm talking about my manuscript.

I had a synopsis that my editor approved. But a strange thing happened as I work to complete the manuscript. I started changing things around.

The result is a story that pretty much resembles the synopsis I sent, but not exactly. The beginning, end, and main conflict are the same. But I decided to change a couple of major plot points, because it made for a better story.

Now, I've made changes before. I particularly remember changing the ending of my book If These Walls Could Talk because I decided the original was too downbeat. I wanted to give my characters hope for their futures, and I did.

I feel like I'm putting in all kinds of new stuff in my current WIP (the name of which I'll reveal next week, when I'm finished with this phase of it). Some are just subplots, which aren't required to be part of the synopsis anyway. But I also brought in a whole new character who will play prominently in the ending. Overall, I'm pleased with my progress.

The countdown continues:

. . . But I Will Defend Your Right to Say It

So all of you folks who feel that Hillary should have won the Democratic nomination and are voting for McCain out of spite (and to give Hillary a shot for 2012), and all of you folks who are upset with Obama for selecting Joe Biden to be his running mate because of that stupid remark he made about a "clean and articulate" African-American candidate and are considering sitting out the election, or all you folks who supported John Edwards first and then John McCain, whose views couldn't be further apart, simply because they're white males who fit your idea of what a President should look like, please don't take offense when I say you're all assholes.

Hillary lost fair and square. Joe Biden seems to be a basically decent person who has some silly ideas about people from a culture he knows little about (I'll go out on a limb and say that this is not an unusual circumstance; many of us know painfully little about other cultures beyond the abounding stereotypes). Finally, things have changed where control of our country should not be limited to white men.

Get over it.
Pick Your Favorite

Well, I wanted to choose Barack Obama's campaign song because he's about to announce his pick for his Vice Presidential candidate this weekend, but since I could only find the original version on You Tube, I'll have to do that one another time.

Instead, let's go with a slow drag, recorded by The Originals around 1969 and by After 7 sometime considerably later, I'd guess in the early 1990s. Which do you like the best?

The Originals

After 7

Like most people, I'll go with the one I'm most familiar with, which is the original . . . by The Originals. They didn't call them that for nothing!

If I can pry my mother away from what is likely to be saturation coverage of Barack's running mate, I'll have her for one more day (my sister flew home Wednesday, not wanting to use too much vacation time). It's been wonderful having her visit us. I'm getting spoiled, having a hot meal every night when we get home from work. When we ate leftovers she insisted on doing the dishes. Today she's dustmopping my hardwood floors. Is it any wonder I replied with a resounding No when she asked if I had any ironing to do? I'm going to be so lazy.

A good weekend to all! Think of me if you're awake at 6AM Sunday morning (I usually am, writing). I'll be bringing Mom to the airport to catch her 7:35 flight. Hopefully by then those high winds and rain pounding Jacksonville will have moved on.

Yes, I'm still working on my manuscript. I'll probably report the progress of it on Monday. I'm coming down to the wire . . . .

More Slam Jam 2008 photos

I almost didn't recognize Donna Hill. How come some people manage to not only stop the clock, but reverse it?

Me and my girl Gwyneth Bolton. I hadn't met Gwyneth before, but we've communicated via the Internet and I recognized her right away from her photo in the audience when Sean Young and I did a session with two other authors. It was such a pleasure to meet her in person.

You'll have to twist your neck a little to see LaShaunda Hoffman of SORMAG. (Sorry about that.)

Those bright smiles belong to Nathasha Brooks-Harris, Michelle Monkou, and Natalie Dunbar.

With Toni Bonita Robinson, an old friend and an ardent supporter of romance from Day One!

Sean Young, Rochelle Alers, and an unidentified reader wearing her Slam Jam T-shirt.

Photos from Slam Jam 2008

Okay, it's been four months since Romance Slam Jam was held in Chicago. Thank God I had the foresight to presume that we'd find our house right around then (we did) and arranged to participate on Saturday only. In that morning and afternoon I caught up with old friends, met people I'd become friends with via the Internet and the telephone, and met people I'd had limited contact with.

Now that I'm still struggling to finish my WIP while simultaneously entertaining my visiting mother and sister, this seems like a good time to share some of the photos with you, so enjoy! I'll post the rest midweek.

With Beverly Jenkins, my table-mate at the mass book signing (we were seated alphabetically according to first name). The fact that we each had new books out at the end of April was merely coincidental.

The literary sister act, Marilyn Tyner and Alice Wootson

With LaConnie Taylor Jones. I'm standing on my toes so I don't look too short and dumpy next to my tall, willowy friend!

With Celeste Norfleet, whom I finally got to meet for the first time!

With AlTonya Washington, whom I also met for the first time.

With my good friend Sean Young. Sean is looking fabulous, and wasn't that sweet of her to stoop (she knows I hate having my picture taken with women who are taller, slimmer, and younger than I am!)

With Radiah Hubbert of Isn't she cute?
Pick a Song

This one's a toughie - I'd likely turn up the volume if either of them came on the radio - but for me, it's hard to pass up anything with Brother Ray. I'd say he and Chaka edge out the Brothers Johnson by just a hair.

What do you think?

The Brothers Johnson

Quincy Jones featuring Ray Charles & Chaka Khan

I hope we all have a better weekend than last. I like to think that Bernie and Isaac are at peace and rehearsing for that show the Lord is putting on that they're headlining (thank you, Cheryl Underwood, for putting such a unique and comforting spin on our loss). And I'm also wishing the media would cool their coverage of John Edwards's affair. He's out of the political picture; it shouldn't matter. I feel very badly for his wife. Those of you who've read Once Upon A Project know that I wrote about a similar situation. It's an unfortunate situation in fiction, and unfortunate in real life as well.

My mom and sister are flying in tomorrow. My sister is going home midweek, but I'll have my mother for eight wonderful days. I'm soooooo excited.

After doing very little reading for the past few years, a strange thing has happened . . . I'm getting excited about it again. I bought two books last night. The problem is, I've got a deadline to meet, so I won't be doing much curling up, at least just yet.

I've got a wrinkle to work out in the WIP. If there's one thing I have trouble with, it's timelines. I sat down to work mine out yesterday and realized that I took a wrong turn. Fortunately, it won't take a lot of work to fix it, and the book will be better for it. I probably need to stop saving this for last, but for me it's the I dotting and T crossing that's part of puting the final package together.

A good weekend to all!

Once Upon A Project . . . the Kindle version

For all you Kindle lovers, I noticed that Once Upon A Project is now available in Kindle format at Or maybe it was out there all the time. At any rate, I didn't notice it until this morning.

I wish you good Kindling.

Heard any good books lately?

I've been so busy I forgot to mention that Once Upon A Project is now available on cassette, having been released at the end of June. The manufacturer, Recorded Books, creates books on tape for library markets (and any consumer willing to pay a rather hefty price for sale or rental). I took a photo when my author copies arrived (the one on the right is the actual book.) The story was read by a talented actress named Brenda Pressley, and she does a fine job. So be on the lookout for my book on cassette the next time you visit your local library.

On the writing front, I'm continuing to plug away.

The clock is ticking, but I'm keeping calm, getting closer every day.

It has officially been a shitty weekend
First Bernie Mac, then Isaac Hayes. We've lost a lot of talent in two days.

My favorite Hayes composition was Cafe Regio's from the soundtrack of Shaft. Have a listen. You might not recognize the title, but the melody will probably sound familiar.

Thanks for the music, Isaac. God rest your soul.

I Feel Very Sad
I just heard about the passing of Bernie Mac. I, like a lot of other people, I'm sure, prayed for his health when I learned of his hospitalization. He was mentioned on the news just yesterday morning as remaining in the hospital, and I remarked to my husband that I was really worried about him because it had been a week or more, and pneumonia, a disease that can have many complications, is especially dangerous to patients with chronic lung diseases.

His obiturary states that he was inspired to become a comedian when his mother, who'd been crying at something, began to laugh when seeing a comedian perform on The Ed Sullivan Show.

A lot of us are crying now, Bernie, because you were taken from us.

Rest in peace.

How quickly I forget

I promised my newsletter readers that I'd be posting a special musical column throughout August, then yesterday I went and said I wouldn't be back until after the weekend. Sheesh!

Anyway, here's the musical choice for this week: I Do Love You, first recorded by its author, the late Billy Stewart, around 1965. The song was later recorded by GQ around 1977. Sadly, Billy Stewart was killed in a road accident early in 1970 at age 32 and did not live to see his song revived. Incidentally, someone in GQ must have been a big fan of Stewart's, they also recorded his composition Sitting in the Park.

Which do you prefer?

Okay, now I can say those four beautiful words, "Have a good weekend!"

Billy Stewart


I'm Getting Excited

First of all, I lost 6 lb.

Second, something remotely resembling a routine has been emerging in the two weeks I've been riding to work with my husband. (No, we don't work at the same place, but our respective offices are just five minutes apart.) I've even worked in 20 minutes for exercise, which has given me more energy.

Finally, as I get more into the reading over of what I've already written on my overdue WIP, I'm finding that I truly like what I've written. I'm having fun with my heroine, who is more visibly flawed than most of the others I've created. Not that she has a port wine birthmark or some physical flaw, but it's her personality. She's refreshingly, sometimes even brutally, honest . . . at least she thinks she's being honest. You know the type. When a news story about a truant kid who gets run over by a school bus airs, she's the who says, "That's a shame . . . but if he'd brought his ass to school like he was supposed to he'd still be alive."

My story is taking on a definite shape, the characters are jumping to life, and I couldn't be more pleased about it. While I've still got some writing to do in a relatively short period of time, I've read over the first 135 pages and am more than satisfied with them. Unless I find I've contradicted something said earlier, these pages are as good as turned in.

I'll be busy tomorrow, so I'm going to wish everyone a good weekend now.
They used to ask, "Paper or plastic," so why do they just ask "Credit?" now???

Now, y'all have heard me complain about retail clerks who always seem to think that I'm paying by credit rather than debit. (I know this because they say, "Credit?" instead of "Credit or debit?") This weekend I was in the post office (Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin) and distinctly heard the clerk ask the gentleman in front of me, "Is this a debit card?" to which he replied, "Yes." I was next in line, selected my postage and handed the clerk my card. The next thing I knew she was handing me a credit card slip to sign. I asked her why I had to sign for a debit purchase. She sputtered a bit and rather sheepishly said, "I ran it as a credit card." I reminded her that she'd asked the previous customer if he was paying by debit, but yet she merely assumed that I was paying by credit. She then gave me the lame excuse that my card didn't look like a credit card.

A couple of things to point out: 1) My card has the word "debit" printed on the lower right corner, just like any other debit card. 2) My purchase was $4.22. And the real shocker, 3) Both the clerk and the customer before me were white.

I faxed a letter of complaint to the manager on Monday. I don't give a hoot if this clerk believes that black people are so poor they have to charge $4.22 worth of postage, but I expect to be treated with the same respect as anybody else. This was the most blatant display I've seen yet, where a clerk actually presumed I was paying with credit and ran the card that way without even asking.

The manager called me that same afternoon to apologize, give me that spiel about how she was certain race didn't enter into it (yeah, right), and assured me that she would reiterate to her clerks that they are not to make any assumptions or presumptions, but are to clarify with the customer about the method of payment.

Does anyone else besides me run into this?
Latest progress, and also why it's pointless to try to please every reader

Here is an early review of Once Upon A Project that someone posted on an Internet review site (which one really isn't important):

"This is the first book I have read by this author and I must say I read the book in two days!!! It was very well-written and the characters had substance. I also liked the fact that the stories were based on older, more mature characters. I would recommend this book to others."

Not too shabby, eh? Well, this is a review that recently posted:

"This book was very slow! It was very difficult for me to get involved in the storyline. I would not recommend."

'Nuff said.

Now, moving on, I still haven't defined what precisely is my damn problem. This weekend just flew by. I'm late getting invitations out for my mother's 90th birthday celebration, we're still unpacking (I finally found the tablecloth and doily overhang for my bedside table), and on top of that we're giving a party next weekend. (I've made it clear to my husband that no one is to go upstairs, since that area simply is not ready to be shown.)

So here's my latest count:

As you can see, I'm feeling awfully sleepy these days. Just about every day a new subplot comes to me, and I know that this will be a really juicy page-turner, but for some reason it's taking me forever to get it done. In the meantime my editor called me Friday (which was D (deadline) day, and my agent is on vacation.

I'd better get cracking. I've got a phone call to make.

Cross your fingers for me.
Friday Fun

I recently heard a cover of the Deniece Williams classic, Free, by Corinne Bailey Rae. While not bad, it made me long for the original, and that gave me an idea. (Okay, so I'm supposed to be writing, but I don't mind telling you I took the night off. I'm in desperate need of some "me" time. I'll post my little bit of progress later today.)

Many songs have been covered by more than one artist. Let's have a little fun. Which of these tunes do you like better. I will warn you, this is a toughie.

Marvin Gaye

Gladys Knight and the Pips

So what'd'ya think?