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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

I have questions. . .

I was on Twitter yesterday, before all of the election results came in, and came across a link that has me questioning publishing and the gate keepers. 

What did you see, you ask? 
This shitAnother rejection for another novel, another, longer quote from a legendary editor:The characters, especially the main character, just do not seem Asian enough. They act like everyone else. They don’t eat Korean food, they don’t speak Korean, and you have to think about ways to make these characters more ’ethnic,’ more different. We get too much of the minutiae of [the characters’] lives and none of the details that separate Koreans and Korean-Americans from the rest of us. For example, in the scene when she looks into the mirror, you don’t show how she sees her slanted eyes, or how she thinks of her Asianness.
Huh? Now, this is from an article written by author Leonard Chang. Not only is Chang an author, he's a TV writer for a show you may have seen, Justified.  And here's his cred:
Leonard Chang was born in New York City and studied philosophy at Dartmouth College and Harvard University. He received his MFA from the University of California at Irvine, and is the author of four previous novels: The Fruit 'N Food, Dispatches from the Cold, Over the Shoulder, and Underkill. He was recently the Distinguished Visiting Writer at Mills College and is on the faculty at Antioch University's MFA Program in Los Angeles. His short stories have been published in literary journals such as Prairie Schooner and Confluence. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. 
Yet, some editor question the Asian-ness of his characters. This hit home for me because I had a white man question the blackness of my characters in Deadly Rumors.
These publishing gatekeepers or creepers —as I've started thinking of them —have me with a lot of questions.
1. Do you know anyone who isn't white?
2. How did you become an editor without reading something other that the white bread trash that has shaped your life?
3. Did you take any history classes at your high school other than American History with books that were written pre-Civil Rights movement?
4. Do you only learn about POC from movies and do you ask white authors to make their characters more white?

And while I'm on the subject of white authors and their characters, who are the flipping editors who thought a black woman would compare her complexion to a cockroach? Who are the editors who thought a black woman would think that she wasn't good enough for a rich white man because her mother was an addict? And who is the gotdamned editor who thought it was OK to write about finding a black baby in a trashcan?
These editors must talk to each other while watching episodes of Good Times and Fresh Off The Boat to determine what characters of color should be like in literature. Miss me with your bullshit.
It's time for us, the marginalized writers of the world, to take back our voice and tell our stories any fucking way we want. We are no longer going to write your stereotypical bullshit and the authors who do should be shunned!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Thor: Ragnarok The rise of the women!

*Spoiler Alert-Who runs the world? Girls! (In my Beyonce Voice)
The last time we saw Thor, the God of Thunder, it is was in the clunky movie, Thor: The Dark World. 
In the latest movie, Thor is back and proves two things, men ain't shit and women run the world.
Now, I'm not going to give the entire movie away. But take note of this, women kick his ass the whole movie. And what makes it even sweeter is one of the women putting the smack down on Thor is a black woman. Valkyrie, played by the amazing Tessa Thompson, steps on the scene kicking ass, including Thor's. 
And she's drunk while doing it. Get it girl! 
I've decided, along with my movie partner Erica, that Tessa Thompson is living my BEST life. She got to kiss Michael B. Jordan in Creed and she had so much chemistry with Chris Hemsworth that it nearly melted the screen. We love and hate her at the same time. 
What made the Valkyrie character so amazing, as my friend K.D. King and I discussed at length, is that she is kick ass and doesn't need NO MAN to save her, but she's also willing to accept help. You just don't know how good it felt to see a woman of color on screen whooping ass and taking names. 
If you know me, you know I love super heroes and comic books and movies about them. This movie made me laugh and warmed my heart to see someone who looked like me doing what I think I can do in my mind. All hail Valkyrie! 
And on another level, Valkyrie is every black woman who works in corporate America with an mediocre man as a supervisor. Ain't no way he could do this shit without you! Go to work Monday and channel your inner Valkyrie. 
A weakness in Marvel movies, and trust me there aren't many, has been the villain. Not this time. Hela, played by Cate Blanchett, is the perfect evil woman who is not here for your bullshit. 

And she's going to do everything to get what she believes is hers and that means she's going to kick Thor and Loki's ass to do so. While I wasn't rooting for her, I wasn't mad at her for going HAM on Asgard. No spoilers here, but think about why Bernadine burned up John's shit in Waiting To Exhale. 

They brought it on themselves. 

And Hela, just like Valkryie, beat the hell out of Thor. Several times. She was evil, she was funny and she was a blood thirsty Goddess of Death who wasn't playing with you mofos! 
This is the super hero movie we've been waiting for. It's funny. And yes, it is OK for a super hero movie to be funny. It's action packed. And the Hulk steals the show. We're finally getting a Hulk that we'd want see in a solo movie. 
Go check out Thor: Ragnarok, you will not be disappointed! 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

An interview with Carver Banks from Deadly Rumors

Welcome to Coffee Talk. After last week’s interview with Zoe Harrington, we had to give Carver Banks equal time and he decided to talk with us.
Carver Banks is a war hero and a top FBI agent. He's agreed to talk to us today, basically in response to Zoe Harrington's interview last week. Carver, thank you for being here with us today. 
Carver: Thanks for having me. I just want to set the record straight about Zoe Harrington and myself. 
Interviewer: How did you and Zoe meet?
Carver: We met at a party. I’d never seen a woman with more swag and a more incredible ass. 
Interviewer: Was it a mutual attraction?
Carver: I’m going to say yes, but Zoe sees things differently. I’ll leave it like this, she was just as excited as I was when we rode off on a motorcycle.
Interviewer: Sounds exciting. How did things between you two go so sour?
Carver: Who said things were sour? I’d like to think that Zoe and I have a great working relationship. She’s a smart investigator and we make a great team.
Interviewer: Professionally or personally?
Carver: I’m not answering that.
Interviewer: Zoe had a lot of negative things to say about you when she sat here. Do you think she’s still angry because you arrested her?
Carver: That’s a question you have to ask Zoe. I know better than to speak for her.
Investigator: What’s your relationship like with Zoe’s twin brother Zach?
Carver: We don’t talk about that. It’s classified.
Interviewer: So, that Harlem Madame investigation is ongoing?
Carver: (Shaking his head) This interview is over. Good day. (Leaves the room) 

Find out the truth about Carver and Zoe in Deadly Rumors
Elite investigator Zoe Harrington isn't about to be fooled twice. She knows all the tempting by-any-means-necessary games FBI agent Carver Banks will use to close a case. So when he needs her help with a missing persons case, she's happy to charge him double the fee—and keep his sizzling moves at arm’s length. But when the search strikes too close to home, Zoe finds the passion between them reigniting past the danger point . . . 
Carver doesn't want to deceive Zoe again. He's never stopped wanting the sexy private detective who can match him play for passionate play. But she's at the top of a hit list. And he'll do whatever it takes to keep her out of harm’s way—until Zoe uncovers his true agenda. Now, how can he prove his love for her is real? And with time running out, will their one chance to survive mean losing each other forever?

Keep up with the latest releases from Cheris Hodges! Join my mailing list! 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

As I eat my Dannon yogurt . . .

Last week, Cam Newton opened his mouth and let some sexist crap fly out toward a woman sports reporter in a press conference and the world lost their minds!
The NFL released a statement, condemning Newton’s comments as well.
“The comments are just plain wrong and disrespectful to the exceptional female reporters and all journalists who cover our league. They do not reflect the thinking of the league,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in the statement.
White women tweeted up a storm!
Dannon Yogurt cut ties with

Read more here:

How dare the face of the Carolina Panthers say something sexist to a reporter? Cause it's not like he has done this before.

Picture it, 2012, Cam and the Carolina Panthers lose another close game. It's been like this all season. A black woman sports reporter asks Cam what is he going to get the offense ready to win the close games.
Cam's reply?

“I’m going to leave this room and I’m going to bring in a suggestion box and I want your suggestions to be in that suggestion box because I sure don’t know,” Newton said. “I really don’t. I wish I could tell you. But the only thing I control, sweetheart, is myself. Offensively, I am the leader of this bunch and we haven’t been getting the job done.”

Response from the rest of the media? *Crickets* 
Only Herb White, my editor from The Charlotte Post had something to say. Yeah, because I was the black sportswriter that Newton called "sweetheart." 
So, I knew he was a sexist ass. 

This whole situation had me laughing, not because Newton's comments were funny or anything, but because 
it's super clear that black women don't rank when it comes to the NFL.
And most NFL fans don't have a damned clue about what comments like this mean to women are work in this field. It's not easy to get a sports writing job when you don't stand up and pee. So, you can best believe the women who are sports reporters know more than every man in the room.
Though, they are probably making less money.
And if you're a black woman in that room, you know more than everybody.
I say all of this to say, Cam Newton is a dick.
The NFL ain't shit.
The Charlotte Observer ain't shit.
All of these people calling for the reporter to be fired for her racist tweets while she was in college but are caping for Cam ain't shit.
And I'm enjoying this peach Dannon Oikos Triple Zero yogurt.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

An interview with Zoe Harrington from Deadly Rumors

Welcome to Coffee talk with Zoe Harrington, an elite Bronx investigator. I'm your host for today's talk, Claire Neal.

Good morning Zoe, thanks for sitting down to talk with me today.

Zoe: No problem. There have been some rumors going around that I’d like to clear up. I’m willing to answer all, well most, of your questions.

Interviewer: Then let’s get to it. Are you working a case with FBI agent Carver Banks?

Zoe: Next question.

Interviewer: You two have been seen together and after he arrested you. . .

Zoe: Like I said, next question.

Interviewer: How is your twin, Zach, doing?

Zoe: Very well. He and his wife Chante are living a nice quiet life in Charlotte.

Interviewer: You’ve made quite a name for yourself as an investigator. What has been your most important case?

Zoe: Probably uncovering some of the hypocrisy in the NYPD. The year that I spent as a cop taught me some tough lessons. Shook my beliefs in law and order. But worse than the police is the court system. Women are systematically abused in divorce cases when the husband holds the purse strings.

Interviewer: Being that your family owns a successful real estate company, why didn’t you go into the family business?

Zoe: (laughs) Because my father, bless his soul, and my brother always thought I was some fragile china doll. I had to show them both they I could handle myself. Zach still hates my choice of a career.

Interviewer: So, Carver Banks . . .

Zoe: Is an arrogant asshole I don’t want to talk about! You know what, this interview is over. Zoe storms out of the room, knocking over her chair as she leaves.

Find out more about Zoe and Carver in Deadly Rumors! October 31!

Elite investigator Zoe Harrington isn't about to be fooled twice. She knows all the tempting by-any-means-necessary games FBI agent Carver Banks will use to close a case. So when he needs her help with a missing persons case, she's happy to charge him double the fee—and keep his sizzling moves at arm’s length. But when the search strikes too close to home, Zoe finds the passion between them reigniting past the danger point . . .

Carver doesn't want to deceive Zoe again. He's never stopped wanting the sexy private detective who can match him play for passionate play. But she's at the top of a hit list. And he'll do whatever it takes to keep her out of harm’s way—until Zoe uncovers his true agenda. Now, how can he prove his love for her is real? And with time running out, will their one chance to survive mean losing each other forever?

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Just how are black characters supposed to act, Robert?

Mainstream media and I'm clearly looking at the New York Times right now, doesn't respect romance novels.
If it wasn't clear when the NYT stopped counting mass market books for the coveted best sellers list, which is how most romance novels are published, then this week's Roundup of This Season's Romance Novels proved without a doubt that this paper shows no love to romance.

The hundreds of romance novels — perhaps thousands, if you include the self-published ones that constitute their own phenomenon — just published or due to appear in the next few months essentially fall into two categories. There are the Regency romances (descended from the superb Georgette Heyer, whose first one, “Regency Buck,” appeared in 1935). And there are the contemporary young-woman-finding-her-way stories that are the successors to the working-girl novels that for decades provided comfort and (mild) titillation to millions of young women who dreamed of marrying the boss. This formula reached its apogee in 1958 with Rona Jaffe’s “The Best of Everything,” whose publishing-house heroines find either (a) business success at the price of stunted love, (b) true love and wifey bliss, (c) death. But almost 60 years have gone by since the virgins of “The Best of Everything” hit the Big Apple, and real life has had its impact not only on modern romance but — as we shall see — on modern Romance.
That's not condescending at all. And if the sexism of this article wasn't enough. I got called out for not being black enough.
Now, I'm going to get to that in a second, but let me say this, I got word that I was featured in the New York Times and I was excited. This is a writer's dream. Well, that and a million dollar royalty check. Then I read the review of Deadly Rumors.
He: Carver is a top F.B.I. agent, determined to protect the woman he loves from a killer who’s stalking her.
She: Zoe is an ex-New York cop, fed up with the corruption of the police force and now a successful private eye, not at all happy at being protected. “I don’t need you to take care of me.”
They: Are caught up in a spiraling thriller, danger from a psychopathic killer looming everywhere. Will she survive? More important: Will she let Carver back into her life? Go straight to Cheris Hodges’ DEADLY RUMORS (Dafina/Kensington, paper, $7.99) to find out. But, once again, the sex is great: “He licked, sucked and nibbled at her throbbing bud until she screamed his name as she came over and over again,” and her “knees quivered and shook as if she were on the San Andreas Fault in the middle of an earthquake.” Oh, yes — Zoe and Carver are African-Americans, though except for some scattered references to racial matters, you’d never know it. (Well, you would from the cover.)

Then I felt all the emotions. Rage, sadness, a little bit of happiness, more rage. 
What are black people supposed to act like? And how many editors thought that line about Zoe and Carver being African Americans was OK? 
I started to sit here and explain my black existence, but I don't have to explain a damned thing. 

There is no one way to be black. There is no one way to write black characters. And you certainly don't get to tell ME how to do it when you've never had the pleasure of being ME!
I'm black enough to write what I want! 

But here's a quick look at the final book in the Rumors Series (Make sure you check out, Rumor Has It and I Heard A Rumor)

Zoe sucked her teeth. “Why all the bullshit when you all sought me out?”
            “I tell you what when I become the FBI director, I’ll open all of the files to the public.”
            She shook her head. “I don’t work like this.”
            “Can you humor me?”
            “Fine,” she said. “But if you plan on handcuffing me from doing my investigation, I will quit.”
            “I won’t handcuff you unless you ask me to.”
            She narrowed her eyes at him as heat rose to her cheeks. Why did every conversation with this man turn sexual? Exhaling, she rose to her feet. “Well, I guess we’d better head for the airport.”
            “Do you need to stop by your place and pick up anything?” he asked.
Zoe crossed over to a closet in the corner of her office.  She quickly filled a bag with the essentialstoothbrush, toothpaste, underwear, and her PI license. “Think I should pack my gun?” she asked over her shoulder.
            “Aww, no.”
            “You’re right, I don’t want to check a bag,” she said. “Let’s go.”
            “Are you licensed in all fifty states?” he asked.
            “Will my answer be held against me in the future?”
            He shook his head.
 “No,” Zoe said. “But I carry in all states. You never know when death will be coming around the corner. All of my guns were legally purchased in the state of New York, though. You can put that in your notes.”
            “I thought you only took safe cases,” he said.
            “And you said it yourself, husbands don’t like to lose money. I didn’t always spy on the unfaithful.”
            “Why did you become a PI?” he asked as they got into the car.
            “It’s not in the file you and the FBI have on me?”
            “There is no file on you at the Bureau,” he said with a laugh. “Why would you think that we would?”
            “Carver, you were very rude to me during the investigation into the Harlem Madam—after everything else that you’d done to me.”
            “Here we go.”
            “It’s the elephant in the car, and the sooner we get it out of the way, the more effective I’ll be in helping you with this case. You used me.”
            “We had sex and we enjoyed it. You didn’t tell me that you were looking into Alejandro Campos for his future ex-wife. National security was at stake.”
            “Always on the job, aren’t you? I bet you have a family tucked away in Idaho.”
            Carver tightened his grip on the steering wheel. “What was your end-game, Zoe? You wanted dirt on that man. What if I had been his real bodyguard? Would your legs have spread so easily?”
            “Let’s put this to rest for the last time,” Zoe began. “Because you seem to forget that I told you why I was at that party and that I was looking for access to Campos’s financial records. You played the he doesn’t pay me enough bodyguard and said you’d help. So, what part of the game was dancing with me and plying me with alcohol?”
            “You like rewriting history, because you were the one giving me drink after drink,” he said with a chuckle. “Walk away, put a little switch in your hips, then come back with two glasses of champagne.”

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Mimi Collins is back at it. . . Michael's losing her mind.

 Mimi Collins, blogger and star of Feel The Heat, is on fire today. She's writing about her BFF's love life.

My best friend and I don’t seem to have a lot in common. Michael Jane plans every aspect of her life and I like to fly by the seat of my pants. I guess that’s why we’re so close. We balance each other out.
That’s normally a good thing. But let me tell you something, I’m not used to being the voice of reason.
Yes, you heard me. Mimi Collins is trying to be reasonable about MJ’s relationship. First, let me say,  I’m happy she’s over that slimy piece of shit Nic!
You remember, Nic, right? That dude who doesn’t want to commit but will use everything you got so that he can get ahead? Go on and pop off in the comments if you’ve had a Nic in your life. But I digress.
Click the book cover below to read the full post!