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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Back from my signing in Columbia, SC

I was in South Carolina, so I was NOT breaking the law by making this video. :)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Rhythm-A-Ning at the Gantt Center

Charles Searles: Universal Reflections of Color and Rhythm
James Phillips, Jitterbug Waltz Series: CT, Acrylic on Paper, 30"x40"
So, what does jazz look like? If you head to the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, you'll get your answer. Though May 27th, the center is hosting Rhythm-A-Ning: James Phillips, Charles Searles & Frank Smith.

Walking into the gallery on the third floor, you will notice some classic jazz playing in the background (and not that Kenny G crap being pumped in the common areas). I heard Miles Davis and John Coltrane when I visited today. To get the full impact of the exhibit and the music, I suggest standing in front of James Phillips's Flowers For Jeff and listen to the music.

The strong colors of the paintings, statues and other media grabs you and doesn't let go. My favorite piece in the exhibit was Untitled by Charles Searles from his Soul Series.

If you don't do anything else this weekend, go see this exhibit!

Want to get in the Gantt Center for half off? Check out this Google Offer. Don't say I never gave you anything. :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

What local BBQ restaurants would feed First Lady Michelle Obama

First Lady Michelle Obama said in her email about Charlotte winning the Democratic National Convention that barbecue played a role in the decision. Now, we know that Mrs. Obama is trying to get the nation fit and when you think health food, you don’t think barbecue.
But some of Charlotte’s barbecue restaurants told me what they would put on a plate for Mrs. Obama so that she could get a great taste of what the Queen City has to offer.

Ro’s Bar-B-Cue, 1318 Gaston Ave. Gastonia: Ricky McNeely, the night manager at Ro’s, said the slaw at the fifty year old restaurant is the signature dish because it is a tangy and spicy dip.
“It goes very well with the pork that we serve,” McNeely said. “We sell a lot of sandwiches, but we do have plate that has a half of pound of meat, comes with our signature slaw, baked beans, French fries, hush puppies, onion rings and two buns.”
And what would McNeely prepare for the First Lady?
“Our sliced barbecue, an order of fries and a cherry lemon SunDrop,” he said. “That’s our most popular drink. We mix it ourselves.”

McKoy’s Smokehouse and Saloon, 4630 Old Pineville Road, Charlotte: With meat smoked by pecan wood for a sweeter taste than other barbeque and a vinegar based sauce,  McKoy’s is a restaurant that also focuses on using locally grown veggies only, making sure customers get a true taste of Charlotte.
“Our signature dish is our smoked wings. We dry rub them, smoke them for three and a half hours, bring them out, sauce them, grill them and sauce them again,” said general manager John Ashley.
And what would Ashley prepare for the First Lady?
“We have a smoked chicken salad, which is awesome. It’s low in fat. The whole chicken is smoked and then we pull it to make the chicken salad out of it,” he said. And though that may be good and healthy, Ashley would also recommend the LTD platter for a true taste of barbeque.
“It’s our smoked chicken, our pit pot roast, it’s our pulled pork barbeque and our ribs. We have won an award for our ribs, they’re smoked as well,” he said.

Old Hickory House BBQ Restaurant, 6538 N. Tryon St., Charlotte: A staple on the Charlotte community since 1957, Old Hickory House BBQ Restaurant serves a Western N.C. style of barbeque, with its red sauce – the kind that means you need a lot of napkins—the sweet tomato based one.
“Most people like our pulled pork and the Brunswick stew is pretty popular,” said Kevin Carter, one of the owners with his cousin David.
And what would Carter prepare for the First Lady?
“I’d give her, we have a platter that has everything on there, it come with barbecue pork, barbecue beef and barbecue chicken and our pork ribs. I’d serve her a mixture of that with some stew and barbecue beans. That way she could sample a bit of everything.”

Bill Spoon's Barbecue, 5524 South Blvd, Charlotte: Take a whole pig, cook it, season it with the eastern style of barbecue sauce and price it reasonably. Then you have a Charlotte icon.
“Our most popular dish would most definitely be our pork barbecue plate and all of sides go real well with it. But I would say it’s a mixture between our cole slaw and baked beans,” said owner Steve Spoon. “We are strictly eastern style and that’s the whole pig roasting, seasoned with salt, crushed red peppers and vinegar and smoked with hickory smoke.”
And what would Spoon prepare for the First Lady?
“For her, I would want her to try some good wholesome pork barbecue, some cole slaw. And since she likes to promote health and people think you can’t be healthy and eat barbecue, I’d love for her to have a side of the Brunswick stew. That thing has seven vegetables and three meats in it. You can taste each separate thing in there and it tastes amazing. That’s what I would give her. And of course some fresh, hot hush puppies that we make from scratch.”

Now, for those of you who think you can’t eat healthy at a barbecue restaurant (like you Rush Limbaugh, who took  Michelle Obama to task for eating ribs), chicken from a barbecue restaurant is grilled, not fried and that actually cuts the fat.

How some of your favorite books almost turned left

I found a back up disk from 2006 and on that disc were some partial manuscripts that eventually became Betting On Love, Let's Get It On and Second Chances at Love.

It's fun to look back some times. Take "Confessions of a Reformed Bad Girl," which became Betting On Love.

Here's a look at the first few lines:

Walking down the aisle into the arms of a man like James Goings had never even crossed my mind. Wearing a white dress on my wedding day was a bit of a stretch, but I did it anyway—because I got it like that.
            How did I get so lucky and what am I going to have to do to make sure things don’t change? Has it actually happened? Have I become the proverbial good girl?
            I hope not.
            Let me start from the beginning and tell you how I got to this lovely church on this beautiful June afternoon. Two years ago, my rowdy girlfriends—Serena, Kandace and Alicia— and I took a trip to  Vegas. But it wasn’t the sinful delight that we’d been expecting since Alicia put the whole thing together. It rained. Can you believe our luck? We left Atlanta to find sun and fun and it rained for three days—leaving us to toil in the smoky casinos and hotel lobbies. The perfect place for trouble. We dressed in tight black dresses, showing major cleave hoping that someone would ask one of us to blow on some dice while they shot it, you know the way the vamps in the movies do.
This Jade wasn't very likable. I was trying too hard to make her a "bad girl."

See, I wouldn’t say that me and my girls are gold diggers, we just like nice things and want other people—particularly men—to pay for them. We’d done it all, dated professional athletes and then claimed to be pregnant, at least Alicia did. We’d scammed bankers—especially those men who thought that the only reason we’d been born was to be their sex slaves—into investing in business that we had no intention of starting, at least I did. And there are other things that we did, which I’ve chosen to forget.
This just didn't work for me after I got about five-thousand words in. Thank goodness the real Jade, Serena, Alicia and Kandace showed up. 

 Next, there was Kenya's violent outburst in Let's Get It On:

Maurice was a star football player and every girl on campus wanted him. Kenya trusted him and was confident that their love could withstand any temptation. Without knocking, as she’d done on several other occasions, Kenya walked into his dorm room.
            “Baby,” she said then the rest of her words froze in her mouth. The sight before her was indescribable. Maurice wasn’t doing this to her. This was a nightmare.
            “Oh, yeah, big daddy,” Lauryn Michaels screamed as she rode Maurice as if he were a stallion.
            Grasping the wall, Kenya swallowed the bitter bile rushing forth in her mouth. Next, she picked up Maurice’s Introduction to Media book and tossed it at Lauryn hitting her in the middle of her back.
            “Son of a bitch,” Kenya found the voice to say. “How could you do this to me?”
            Maurice and Lauryn untangled their bodies and Lauryn held her throbbing back.
            Shaking his head and trying to cover his nakedness, Maurice said, “I didn’t mean for you to find out like this, Kenya.”
 I changed this scene because, I knew I wanted Kenya to push Lauryn down a hill on the campus of Johnson C. Smith University. She couldn't be that violent.
I'm happy that these things were changed before the books went to print. The stories were made so much better and richer for it. The moral of the story is, you have to be your own first editor.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

This proves that some people are brainless

On what planet does this flyer make sense? Who thought this was a good idea? Obviously, Bentley's in Greensboro, North Carolina. I'm going to get to the promoter in a moment. But the club owner OUGHT to be ashamed. This club OUGHT to be boycotted for allowing this trash to have been publicized.

We Like To Party Wednesdays in memory of Travyon Martin, the 17-year-old who was killed at the hands of George Zimmerman. What in the world does free wings and a lingerie lounge have to with justice for Travyon. Why did the promoters of this hot ass mess party think offering free admission with an empty bag of Skittles before 11 p.m. was a good idea? Are they just stupid? I say yes, but I wanted to hear from them.

So, I called the number listed on the flyer. The outgoing voicemail message said something to the effect: We know you're calling about the event for Wednesday and we've canceled it. We were going to send some of the money to the Martin family. (Yeah, right and George Zimmerman loves black people.) We were going to send the empty Skittles bags to the police in Sanford and that's not on the flyer. (Yeah, because empty bags of Skittles will do what?)
Let's look at what's on the flyer:
Lingerie Lounge will be wide open with the sexiest entertainers in NC!! I'm guessing if you removed that and put that proceeds from the party would be donated to the family it would've stopped some of your audience from coming?

Hosted by Nemo. Who the funk is Nemo? From the Disney Movie? I guess people in Greensboro know who this guy is and if you take his name off the flyer and say we're mailing empty Skittles bags to the police in Florida, because we're dumb as hell and don't know any other way to raise our voice, people won't come?

The promoters and the club owner here are part of the problem and aren't trying to find a solution at all for the injustice surrounding this case. You silly ass clowns make me ashamed to be living in North Carolina. Travyon Martin isn't your latest marketing ploy! Idiots, he was the son of Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton. His life was snuffed out while he went to get candy and tea for his soon to be step brother.

He is not an icon for your stupid party. You make us all look like fools because you're --every last person listed on that flyer-- are the biggest assholes and selfish bastards in the state of North Carolina. I'm willing to bet that you people and yes, I said you people, don't even know the name of the attorney who's  handling the case for the family. Where were you going to send the money? Let's be real, with all of you on this flyer -- after you split the profit, what was going to be left over?

This is not the CIAA--which, I'm  sure you don't contribute to the scholarship fund but you bring your asses to Charlotte and charge $75 to $100 for a party--where you can just exploit the mindless party goer.
If you want to be a part of the movement, then do it but not this way. Not in a selfish, exploitative manner that has you looking like a selfish, lying piece of dog dung. I'm sure you're of African American decent, you could be Travyon. How would your mother feel if she saw something like this?
Oh, and you could've been man enough to call me back. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Dating in Charlotte, a sister's perspective

I met Nefertari Ward on the best playground ever, Twitter. She was funny, engaging and smart.
When I decided that I wanted to do something about dating in Charlotte, she was the first person I thought about.
Why? Because Ward has a mature view on dating and relationships. Unlike the self-help books that are pushed down black women's throats, she has some interesting thoughts on what the Charlotte dating scene is like.


Late Night Video Blog: What book do I write next? Aww, I'll write them both

Sunday, March 25, 2012

This week in promoting Recipe For Desire

I'm hopping in my Mustang this week to head south. To South Carolina--Columbia to be exact.
I will be signing copies of Recipe For Desire at Harbison Court Barnes and Noble, located at
278-A Harbison Blvd., Columbia, SC 29212 (803-749-9009) at 2 p.m. on March 31.

Have you read my guest blog on RomCon?
romcon badge
  I'm so thankful to RomCon for inviting me to write this blog.

Want some book marks? Send me your mailing address, email it to me at

Have a great week!

Travyon Martin and Jon-Jon

Seventeen year old Travyon Martin was shot and killed in Sanford, Florida because he was black and 28-year-old George Zimmerman thought that gave him -- a self described neighborhood watch captain -- the right to shoot him. After 26 days, Zimmerman has not been charged.

He claimed self-defense, though Martin only had a tea and bag of Skittles on him. Who knew Skittles and tea were weapons.

"Twenty-six days ago this young man, Trayvon Martin, did nothing criminal, did nothing unethical," said Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network. "He went to the store for his brother. He came back and lost his life. Trayvon could have been any one of our sons, he could have been any one of us. Trayvon represents a reckless disregard for our lives that we've seen for too long."
Sharpton said the watch captain, George Zimmerman, "should have been arrested that night."
Charlotte's Power 98 FM morning personality, No Limit Larry will be a part of a hoodie march in Charlotte Monday at Marshal Park in Uptown Charlotte. Like so many others across the country, he's raising his voice about this horrible tragedy. It's a moment that we all have to become involved in.

But we can't ignore the youth violence in our backyards. 

 Social media helped inform the nation about Trayvon Martin's case, in Charlotte social media is spreading rumors about more violence at schools following the weekend shooting of 17-year-old John Darrell Kempson Jr., a Vance High School student.
More than 500 people--including police and undercover officers--attended a candlelight vigil at St. Paul Baptist Church Thursday night.

Kempson's alleged killer has been charged: Armani Compton McDonald, 19, has been charged with the killing, and Terry Sekyere, 18, has been charged with assaulting Kempson.

We should be just as outraged when an innocent black youth is killed by someone who looks like him. And we have to get our hands on these kids and teach them how to work through their anger without violence. The loss of Travyon Martin and John Kempson highlight the dangers young black men face just trying to live their lives.

I pray for their parents, families, loved ones and justice.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Monday, March 12, 2012

If you're in Charlotte, head to Wal-Mart on N. Tryon Street to get a signed copy of Recipe For Desire

Thank you to the manager at Wal-Mart, located at 7735 N Tryon St, Charlotte, for allowing me to sign a few copies of Recipe For Desire. And a special shout out to the two associates in the electronics department! 

Chatting with Jessica Macks

Charlotte actress Jessica Macks is entertaining to talk to, so imagine her stage presence. The young actress has been seen in On Q Production's The Amen Corner and will be starring in Daughter of The King, a musical,  this summer.
Meet the King sisters: the sassy, sophisticated and sensible daughters of the late pastor of the King Memorial Church. As different as night and day, their deep love for each other is about the only thing on which they can always agree. Deanna and Ophelia reunite with their older sister, Renee, for the church's annual Homecoming Revival expecting the usual: a little family and a little feudin', mixed with a whole lot of fun! But this year will be different. When a mysterious, regal visitor appears and reveals a life-changing secret, the sisters discover they have more in common than any of them ever dared to dream....

The African American theater scene in Charlotte is evolving. The productions being put on stage aren't just the typical "Mama I Wanna Sing" fare.

And Macks isn't just focused on her career, she also gives back to the community by helping others tap into their artistic gifts.