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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Five Questions with Judy Lynn Hubbard, author of These Arms of Mine

Twitter is a great place to meet new authors. That's where I met Kimani author Judy Lynn Hubbard. I knew she was cool because she's a Dallas Cowboys fan! Then she shared an excerpt from her debut novel, These Arms of Mine. It left me wanting more and more.
Thankfully, the wait is almost over! Hubbard's book is set to be released on January 24.

Judy spoke with me about her first novel and writing.

1. When did you decide to write romance?   

When I was 14, my sister gave me my first Harlequin Romance novel to read and since then I knew one day I wanted to write a book for Harlequin. Many years later, I finally completed my first novel and after many re-writes and submissions, I went on to write my second novel (These Arms of Mine) that was accepted by Harlequin Kimani after corresponding with them for about 10 months.  So, persistence and having faith in oneself definitely pays off!

2. What is your debut novel, These Arms of Mine about? 

It’s a reunion romance about two people who met, were attracted to each other, but were pulled apart by bad choices and circumstances.  When they’re reunited two years later, Alesha needs a huge favor from Derrick (whose heart she broke years before) and Derrick wants some long-denied answers and maybe even a little revenge from the woman he thinks needlessly ruined his life.  Of course old feelings resurface and they both have to work through personal demons as they try to find their happily ever after together. 

3. What are you looking forward to the most about your January 24th release?

Honestly, seeing it go on sale.   I’m anxious for readers to get their hands on it and tell me what they think.  Writing is great, but knowing that your work will available and read by others is what it’s all about.

4. When and where is your favorite place to write?

I can write anywhere—finding the time is the hard part for me.  I’m always so busy, but I try to write every day.  I usually save my weekends for writing—that’s my favorite time to write, sitting at my desk and I also enjoy writing late at night when the house is quiet and I’m in bed with my laptop  perched on my legs.

5. How can readers get in contact with you?

I’m online everyday literally!  I can be reached at the following addresses:


Make sure you pre-order These Arms of Mine from your favorite book seller!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Nightline fail. . .This Dwayne Wade Story

God bless the Miami Heat's Dwayne Wade. He fought for custody of his children when he and his wife divorced.
He's a real dad. Good for him.

But does this make him news worthy? I mean, do we write about the sun rising in the east every morning?
When you have children your job is to raise them and take care of them. Have standards in this country, in the black community especially, dropped so low that when we see a dad doing what he's supposed to that it deserves a Nightline story?

His nickname is Mr. Mom--and?

The definition of fatherhood is taking care of your children regardless of how you feel about the mother. You have so many men who make their kids suffer because of a bad relationship with the kids' mom. Then you have men who become Boy Scout leaders to spend time with their sons, men who take their daughters for pedicures and talk about what's going on in her life. Then you have the fathers who shut down their business early every night to watch their sons practice football and end up becoming a coach. These guys aren't famous, they're the ones in your neighborhood.

The media and the so-called magazines dedicated to saving black women, tell us that black men have abandoned their families. So, yeah Wade takes care of his kids. But so do many other men.

And the Nightline story only talked about Wade's past, his mama's drug abuse and not one word about what kind of father he is. Nothing but a commercial for the NBA game coming on Christmas Day. Epic. Fail.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Are you a sexy chef with a Recipe For Desire

Do you cook as good as you look?
Can you come up with a Recipe For Desire?

Author Cheris Hodges’s new novel Recipe For Desire introduces readers to sexy Chef Devon Harris, a good looking man with skills in the kitchen. Basically, he’s every woman’s dream.
A Party Girl's Work Is Never Done. . .
At twenty-seven, Marie Charles is still Charlotte's number one party girl. But when she adds a DWI arrest and a totaled Jaguar to her list of tabloid news-making escapades, her daddy is done bailing her out. Sentenced to five hundred hours of community service at My Sister's Keeper, a homeless shelter for women, Marie won't have much time left for partying. . .
Renowned chef and TV star Devon Harris volunteers at My Sister's Keeper. And he's not happy Marie is joining him. He may be single--and she may be gorgeous--but the last thing he's interested in is a superficial southern belle. But as Marie outgrows the selfish girl she was, Devon is turned on by the woman she's becoming. . .
“Readers often ask me to send them a man like the ones I write about,” Hodges said. “So, I’m trying to find the sexiest chef in the Carolinas.”
What’s your signature dish for romance? Submit your dish and your picture to
Ten finalists will be chosen and invited to cook their dish for a panel of judges in March. The winner will be crowned the Sexiest Chef in The Carolinas, and become a character in a future Cheris Hodges novel.Other prizes will be announced soon. 
Deadline for entry is Feb. 1.

Shaft's a bad mutha. . .Shut yo' mouth!

I'm 34 years old. So, when the original Shaft was released, I wasn't even a twinkle in my mom's eyes. After all, she had just given birth to my older sister. However, she was a huge fan of Richard Roundtree and his iconic character John Shaft.

Because of her and my cool Daddy, who had a John Shaft leather coat, I became a fan of the Gordon Parks film. Shaft was that dude. A sexy black man solving crimes, kicking ass and romancing the ladies.
40 years later, this movie is still one of the best pieces of cinema out there. Let's forget about John Singleton's horrid remake with Sam Jackson in the title role.
What made Shaft an iconic character was the fact that he was a black man making his own rules, talking shit to white folks and doing it all with style.
He made women fall in love with him and no one wears leather like John Shaft. (Sorry PETA)

Some people call this "blaxplotation" but movies like Shaft and Foxy Brown led the way for big budget action films that make millions for Hollywood. As a matter of fact, Shaft saved MGM, according to Wikipedia.
The film was one of only three profitable movies that year for MGM, grossing what Time magazine called an "astonishing" $13 million on a budget of $500,000. It not only spawned several years of "blaxploitation" action films, it earned enough money to save then-struggling MGM from bankruptcy.
If you look at Shaft and then take a look a current action films, you can see the influences. Shaft, who was billed as being cooler than James Bond even put a mark on the franchise. Live and Let Die, the eighth Bond film released in 1973, was an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of so-called blaxplotation films.

 It was also the first James Bond film featuring an African American Bond girl to be romantically involved with 007, Rosie Carver, who was played by Gloria Hendry.

Hollywood should be thanking Shaft for laying the foundation for sexy and sarcastic heroes. Shaft should be re-released in theaters ASAP! I'd be right there wearing my Daddy's Shaft leather coat too.

Q&A with Carlton Hargro

Veteran editor and writer Carlton Hargro knows what a good story looks and reads like. With 20 years in the journalism business, Hargro has been in charge of award winning publications, worked in every form of media, from TV to magazines and newspapers, and built informative websites. Who better to give advice to writers?

What can fiction writers learn from journalism? 

I'll tell you a few things they can learn, some times you read some books and they just go off the damn rails. One thing, that we talked about, is (knowing) what is the story about. With a journalism story, you have to know what it is about. Two, brevity. I think a lot of times people write a book and they think you have to put in all of these big ass words. Or you have to make a description of a wall go on for two pages. People are flipping the pages. Keep it short and sweet, to the point. Another thing is keep things moving. In a journalistic piece, you don't have time to have all of these asides and stuff, that is not necessarily moving the story forward. Keep it moving. Those are the big ones.

What advice do you have for new writers who want to break into the business? 

I feel like you have to pick what you're going to write about. I meet a lot of writers who say I write about everything. And I think that's a mistake. Unless you're 22 or 25, but if you're 35, 30, 40 --you need to have a thing. You can branch off and do other things but when someone asks you "what do you write about?" you can't say I write about everything. No, you have to pick your lane and you become an expert in those things. And it focuses you more. It's good to focus on some things that you want to write about and become a fixture in those worlds. Get contacts in those worlds, get access to those worlds. Be good. The main thing with writers is you have to read a lot. And you can read anything. You can read magazines, news papers and it's good if you're writing romance novels -- for instance-- to read other romance novels. Just so you can know what's out there. Read everything because words are the fuel of writers. When you're writing, it's just output and you can be left feeling empty. You have to put shit inside, you know ideas about how to put things together, how to start things off and how to approach sentences. It's OK steal a little bit, technique and subject matter --don't steal subject. If you're (a new writer) don't worry about style. You'll find a style when you keep writing. Write a lot, read a lot and let people read your stuff. Some people are so scared to have you read their stuff. But if you don't let other people read it, then you will never see how an audience reacts to it. It's just you in your head and you in your little room. Then when somebody reads it, they're like 'what 
in the hell is this?' Not that they will ever say that. Don't get mad when people criticize your stuff. You have to really learn how to take criticism. But, the bottom line is you have to be good. You have to work to be good.

What do you suggest writers read to find examples of good writing?

Vanity Fair is really good. GQ has some good stories and Rolling Stone  still has some really good stories. People talk about The New Yorker, but I really don't read it. I'd like to read it just to say I read it -- but it looks boring as hell. It's probably really good, but I don't fuck with it. I would say read stuff that you don't normally read. You know, I read food journals and stuff -- Gastronomica and heady stuff like that. Read that kind of stuff, read challenging stuff. Challenge yourself. I think alternative weeklies have really good stories. LA Weekly has a lot of good ones on a consistent basis. Some of them are like 10,000 words and they're really good. I've read some amazing stories on there. Whatever your writing, read stuff that you're writing. If you write about food, read about food. If you write relationship stuff, read relationship type books.

What do you read?  

You know I read comic books. I read a lot of stuff on the web, magazines, I read graphic novels. And I do read some books, but it takes me a long time to read books. I don't have ADD or anything but stuff bores me very quickly. I flip pages, I just kinda want to know what happened. Get the point.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Blessings. . .when a door closes a window opens

Have you ever had a moment where you thought things couldn't get worse? Then the bottom falls out and things go from bad to the absolute worst.

That has happened to me. Full time job gone right before Christmas. Ouch.

But, I'm not looking back with tears, anger or disappointment. I'm looking up. Here's hoping that you will do the same. Things have to get bad so that you know when they've gotten better. :)

So, are you in need of a weekend read?
Check out If It Isn't Love:
His star rose, but their love faded. . .
Jason Campbell, known to his adoring fans as Jay Slade, has had enough of the spotlight. When he returns home to Elmore, South Carolina, he has one thing on his mind: winning back the love of his life, Ingrid Russell.
But Ingrid isn't ready to take him back. She's a widow with a restaurant to run and son to raise. There's no way she's going to let Jason back into her life. Especially when she has a secret that she's determined to keep from him. And the same women who tore their relationship apart three years ago are still there.
But would Jason be in the small home town he hates if it isn't for Ingrid's love?

Available on all e-readers from Smashwords.
Also available on the NOOK.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Why I Invited My Ex-Girlfriend To My Wedding . . .a short story

                 Layla’s story about Reed was a big success, even if she did have to fudge a few quotes. She was done with hip-hop and Reed Clarke.  Glancing to her right, she saw that copy of Glamour magazine and the unopened wedding invitation. She still hadn’t figured out who was getting married. She hadn’t really inspected the envelope either.  Layla picked it up and for the first time notice the Atlanta postmark.
                “I know that sorry son of a. . .” She ripped the invitation open and read it. A smile spread across her face as the words sank in. She grabbed her iPhone and dialed the R.S.V.P. line at the bottom of the invitation.
                A week later, Layla was back in Atlanta, dressed in a shimmering strapless ivory dress and standing on the roof of The Ellis Hotel at sunset. A gentle breeze caused her dress to sway and her hair to whip across her face. She didn’t care and neither did Reed as he crossed over to her, taking Layla in has arms as King Span, a jazz band Reed discovered playing at Houston’s,  played Donny Hathaway’s You Were Meant For Me.
                “I wasn’t kidding when I said I loved you,” he whispered in her ear.
                “Reed,” she said. “I never thought we’d get a second chance.”
                “Neither did I, I was ready to settle for something that was nearly meaningless,” Reed said. “But the truth of the matter is –You were meant for me.”
                Layla turned her head upward and kissed him slowly while they danced. Reed pulled back and dropped to one knee. “I’m going to do what I should’ve done a long time ago.”
                She bought her hand to her mouth. “Reed,” she whispered.
                “And I’m not taking no for an answer,” he said as he pulled a black velvet box from his sport coat pocket. “This time, I’m asking the right woman to marry me for the right reason.”
                “What reason would that be?” she asked.
                Reed opened the box, revealing a three carat diamond and emerald platinum ring. “That would be because I love you and there is no other woman in the world that I want to be my wife.”
                “But what about what I want?” Layla asked.
                “What do you want?” he asked.
                “You.” Smiling, Reed slipped the ring on her finger then kissed her hand.
                “I’ll take that as a yes, you’ll be Mrs. Reed Clarke.”
                Layla wrapped her arms around him. “Yes, I will be Mrs. Layla Washington hyphen Clarke,” she said then broke out into laughter.
                “There you go,” he said then scooped her up in his arms. “We have to catch a flight to Vegas.”
                “Vegas?” she asked.
                “Do you know how long I’ve been waiting for this? When the sun comes up in the morning, you’re going to be Mrs. Reed Clarke.”
                “No, Mrs. Layla Washington-Clarke,” she quipped as she held him tightly.  

THE END . . .

Why I Invited My Ex-Girlfriend To My Wedding . . .a short story

Reed didn’t want to let her go and he didn’t want to open his eyes. This had to be a dream.
                “Get off me,” Layla said, pushing against his chest.
                “Wait,” he said.
                Reed eased off her and shook his head. “I can’t believe this, I can’t believe that I allowed this to happen,” Layla said as she snatched her clothes on. “This was some . . .”
                “This was meant to be. Layla, you came back into my life. . .”
                “To write a damned story, not to be your last fling before you jet off to marry the supermodel!”
                “Maybe I need you to stop me from doing that.”
                Layla pulled her tunic down and glared at him. “You’re a grown ass man, if you don’t want marry Zora then why are you doing it?”
                “Because I thought I’d never see you again and there was a time when I thought I loved her. She helped me forget about you.”
                Layla’s mouth dropped open and she turned her head to the side. “Forget about me?”
                “You don’t get how much I love you, do you?” he asked, closing the space between them.
                “I’m not doing this, not until you put your clothes on,” she snapped.  Reed simply stepped closer to her and pulled her tunic off. “Better?”
                “Reed,” she said.  “You’re being an ass.”
                He pulled Layla against his chest then took her face in his hands. “You aren’t going to stand here and pretend that what happened meant nothing to you.”
                “If it did, it really doesn’t matter. When’s the wedding, Reed? Why don’t you send me an invitation?” She punched him in his chest and the tears began to flow again.
                “Layla, how did we end up in this mess?” he asked as he stroked her hair.
                With tear stained cheeks and a mix of fury and sadness, she glared at him. “You really want to go there?”
                “You’re going to blame me because I wanted you by my side?”
                “No,” she hissed. “I’m blaming you because you wanted me to forget who I was because we were together.  But the woman you’re marrying isn’t even here. Is she even in the country right now? And you couldn’t handle me being in Washington, D.C.”
                “I really don’t care where Zora is. This is all your fault.”
                She snatched away from him and started to punch him. “How is this my fault?”
                “You’re a tough act to follow,” he said. “I realized too late that I was wrong and. . .”
                A loud banging on the door stopped him from finishing his statement. “Reed,” Yolanda called out. “Are you in there?”
                “Yeah,” he said.
                “Are you going to open the door?” she asked.
                “No. What do you want?”
                “Your spread with your fiancée in Glamour is out,” she said. Then the magazine slide underneath the door. Layla picked it up and looked at the cover. There it was, Zora and Reed on the cover, naked and hugging each other as if they were so in love. Happy to be engaged and ready to be married. She threw the magazine at him.
                “I’m out of here.”
                “Wait,” he said as he caught the book. “This isn’t. . .”
                “Just shut the hell up. The whole world thinks you’re in love with her and I’m supposed to believe that you’ve been pining away for me over the years?”
                “It’s the truth. This is just. . .”
                Layla pulled her clothes on and stuffed her feet into her shoes. “Have a wonderful life and enjoy your wedding. I never want to see your black ass again.”
                “What about the interview?”
                “I’ll email you the questions and if I were you,  I’d answer them otherwise I’m going to have to make something up. Or, better yet, pull a Superhead and write a tell-all article about how you’re not in love with your model fiancée.” Layla stormed out of his office then left the studio. Reed started to go after her, but by the time he dressed and started for the exit, he had Yolanda and Debony in his face.
                Three days later, Zora had returned to Atlanta. Something was different about Reed, she thought as they shared a breakfast in her midtown loft. “Why are you so quiet?” she asked as he ate his omelet.
                “Why are we getting married?” he asked, setting his fork on the side of his plate.
                Zora sipped her coffee. “Are you seriously asking me this a week before our wedding? What’s going on?”
                “We’re not in love, not the kind of love that’s going to last a lifetime. You know it and so do I.”
                She slammed her coffee mug on the table. “It’s Debony, isn’t it?”
                “You can have your little whores, but I’m not going to allow you to make me look like a fool. We’re getting married. And if you don’t show up, I will sue your ass for everything that you’re worth.”
                “How much?”
                “Zora, I can’t marry you,” he said.
                She leapt from her chair and reached across the table attempting to claw at him. “You son of a bitch! Why did you ask me to marry you if you couldn’t go through with it? If it isn’t Debony, it must be one of your rapper friends. Are you on the down low?”
                Reed grabbed her and dropped her in a chair. “You need to calm down. How was Paris?”
                “Yeah, the Parisian model you fucked made a video.” Picking up the remote to her flat screen TV, he pressed the power button and the image of Zora and the male model filled the screen. Reed watched and pointed to her twisted body. “Didn’t I teach you that.”
                “You set me up?” she cried. “How could you?”
                “I didn’t set you up. But this proves that we don’t belong together and our marriage wouldn’t even last 72 days.  Zora, it’s over. Keep the ring and say it was your idea.” Reed stood up. “If you want this video to stay under wraps, you will do exactly what I say.”
                “I fucking hate you.”
                Reed nodded then walked out the door.