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Monday, January 30, 2012

Occupy Charlotte. . .what did they accomplish?

I'll be the first to congratulate Occupy Wall Street. The Occupy Wall Street movement changed the national conversation about wealth.
Talk is cheap, though.
While we loved the President's State of The Union address, at the end of the day, if Congress continues to do nothing, we won't see any changes.

Let's bring this conversation home, Charlotte more specifically. Occupy Charlotte kicked off in September. Sadly, the local conversation in Charlotte has not changed much. Occupy Charlotte has been covered by the city's alternative newspaper on a near weekly basis and covered by the mainstream media when something headline grabbing happened, like the burning of an American flag.

Occupy Charlotte may have unwittingly made life for homeless people in the city hell. See, city council passed an ordinance which makes it illegal to camp on property.

"Any temporary shelter located on city property is deemed to be a public nuisance," said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Captain, Jeff Estes.
Sunday, CMPD addressed a group of about 30 protestor’s hours before the ordinance went into effect.
While police do not expect any major issues or confrontations with protestors, Occupy Charlotte expressed some frustration at not being told whether all tents would be banned, or only certain kinds of tents which are being used for shelter.
Protestor, Scottie Wingfield, told us that attorneys, along with city officials, have relayed to Occupy Charlotte that tents not equipped with "living accommodations" would not be considered camping tents.
"So, if no one is sleeping or storing personal belongings in the tents, they should still be allowed," said Wingfield.
The protests will end soon (er or later) but the city's homeless population isn't going anywhere in the next six months or so. Now, between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m., police have the right to move them, arrest them, and possibly abuse them. Was this progress?

Occupy Charlotte, in my opinion, harmed the city more than spreading the message of the 99 percent.
Since Occupy Charlotte started, the city offered Chiquita a bunch of money to come to town.
The Mecklenburg County Commissioners played politics and fought over seating arrangements. CMS teachers are still looking for a raise and Bank of America announced that 30,000 people will be losing their jobs.

So, again, what was Occupy Charlotte's purpose? And have they achieved it? I'm waiting to see if CMPD actually enforces the law and moves the protesters from the old city hall lawn. It's 4:39 a.m. and so far, no one has been arrested or left the scene--no one but me.

Update: Police told the protesters they have until 2 p.m. to leave the site. Click here for more.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Join me in March

Recipe for Desire will be released on March 6. You can get your copy signed or get a copy of the book.

Join me at these locations:

March 10:
Meet me in Durham at Barnes & Noble Booksellers
The Streets at Southpoint
8030 Renaissance Parkway, Ste. 855
1 p.m to 3 p.m.

March 17:
Meet me in Charlotte at Park Road Books
4139 Park Road
Park Road Shopping Center
2 p.m.

Hope to see you there!

People love to argue on the internet. . .I refuse to play that game

Bloggers get a bad reputation for spreading rumors and keeping mess going online. I guess I'm a blogger now, so let me lay out some rules. 1. I'm here to share stories --fact and fiction.
2. I don't dish about celebs. Hell, I'm in Charlotte and there aren't many famous people in my city.
3. As a journalist, I like to inform and let people come to their own conclusions. This blog is not Fox News.

This post isn't dedicated to my followers and fans, y'all know me. But earlier this evening, I discovered that some readers of a "paper" I used to work for were angry because I wouldn't go back and forth with them on the comments underneath a story that I'd written in November. Some reader must have Googled me. I'm really flattered.

But just because you want invite me to a fight, anonymous online commenter:
You can also find Ms. Hodges at her blog, http://www.cherishodges.blogspot.com/

I'm going to post my comment there as well and see if I'm able to elicit a response since she doesn't appear to engage with the commenters at CL-CLT.
It doesn't mean I have to take the invitation. It's funny to me that you want to argue online. I guess this is the brave new world. I took a moment and checked my stats for the day you "outed me," and it's clear that nobody gives a shit. I waver on commenting on my own blog. It's akin to liking your Facebook statuses -- pretty fucking wack. 

So, if you're wondering what started this little online stalking, I'm going to provide a link to the story. But don't expect an argument about it because I don't play those games. Besides, arguing with a fool on the internet leaves a lot of doubt as to who the true fool really is.

Story link.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Black actresses and the Oscars

I'm sorry that I'm not jumping up and down about the Oscar nominations of Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer. 
It has nothing to do with their work. Both are great actresses--however it's 2012 and black actresses still only get acknowledged for playing maids, victims, whores and singing in musicals. 


The last time a black actress won an Oscar was in 2001. Halle Berry for her role in Monster's Ball.
A role that was basically a white man's whore. 


I posted my thoughts on black actresses and the Oscars on Facebook, stating:
Black actresses get awards for playing maids, whores and victims. Or singing. #thatsall
The responses from people on my page ranged from, "that's right" to "fuck the past."
Yeah, Fuck the past. But the second highest grossing film last weekend was about the past. What is really disturbing about these comments is that black filmgoers complain about the images we see on the screen, yet when a black actor or actress is nominated, we're supposed to be excited?
No.
I have my issues with The Help -- the movie and the book -- because in the 1960s, black women were not speaking as if they were African slaves. And with the book, what black person would compare themselves to a cockroach?
So, why would I jump up and down for these nominations? And yes, I'm still salty as hell that Denzel lost to Al Pacino. I mean, really, if Denzel didn't deserve an Academy Award for Malcolm X, then the sun shouldn't shine.
So, on Oscar night, I will be watching Malcolm X, again.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Pre-order Monday: Recipe For Desire

Chapter One
The only thing Marie Charles enjoyed more than being the center of attention at someone’s party was hosting one of her own. Either way, she was instantly the center of at­tention. Charlotte’s resident party girl was always on the cutting edge of fashion, dressing in clothes that were always tailored especially for her svelte body. And she knew how to keep everyone’s attention—by either walk­ing into a venue exchanging air kisses with the most high ­profile man or woman who caught her eye so that she could get her picture snapped, or by dating the hottest ball player, singer, or actor she wanted. She was a professional public­ relations maven, so it was her business to be in the know.
But if you asked the right people, Marie Charles— daughter of civil rights attorney Richard Charles III—was just a girl seeking the wrong kind of attention.
Tonight, she was playing hostess at Mez, where her public­ relations and event­ planning company, M&A Exclusive Events, was sponsoring a party for the Char­lotte Bobcats’ second playoff win in franchise history. She’d checked the VIP list and kissed a couple of the play­ers on the cheek, telling them congratulations. And, of course, she basked in the compliments the men lavished on her and how she filled out her gold Alexander McQueen dress.

As Bobcats center Drayton Neal reached out and grabbed Marie so that they could take a picture, she turned to her intern, Hailey, and said, “This is how you host a party.”
Hailey, a shy Central Piedmont Community College student, offered her boss and the six foot nine basketball star a slight smile as the Carolina Nightlife photographer snapped photos.
“Have some bubbly,” Drayton said to Marie as he held out a glass of Ace of Spades Champagne Blanc de Blancs. She happily accepted the flute of six­ hundred ­dollar champagne and sipped with Drayton. He palmed her bottom as if it were a basketball and brought his lips to her ear. “You know you’re sexy as hell. What do I have to do to make you my good ­luck charm?”
“Get your hands off me,” she replied through her smile. While most women would’ve welcomed the advances of an NBA baller, it was just another night on the town for Marie. “I’m not a trophy.”
“Umm,” he said, taking a step back and watching her sip her champagne. “You look like one to me. You are wearing that gold, baby.”
Marie drained her glass and turned to Hailey. “We all look amazing when they’re drunk.” 

“Okay.”
Marie took Drayton’s bottle and refilled her glass. “Thanks for the bubbly and good luck in New York,” she said with a flirty wink. As she and Hailey walked away, she told the intern, “When you’re hosting an event, don’t spend too much time with one group of people. You have to make everyone feel special so they’ll come to your next event. I need you to check the table and make sure every­one has drinks. Have you seen Adriana?” Marie glanced at her watch and fingered her curls. It was almost time for DJ Chill to start his set.
“She was talking to the DJ,” Hailey said. Marie nodded.
“I’m going to check on the bartenders and make sure they’re making the Bobcat rum punch,” she said, then strutted downstairs to the wraparound bar. Marie had carefully selected the drink menu and had worked with the bartenders to make sure everything was perfect. Land­ing the Bobcats as a client had been a huge get for M&A. Tonight has to be perfect, she thought as she crossed over to the crowded bar. Smiling, a half an hour into the party, Marie was sure that everything was going to be . . .
wait. Was that William Franklin, her fiancé, walking in the door with that woman! 

William was holding hands with his ex­-wife, Greta Jones, looking at her as if they were still together. “Oh, hell no,” she mumbled. She started to stalk over to them, but a hand on her shoulder stopped her.
“Marie,” Adriana Kimbrell, the A in M&A Exclusive Events, said. “Please don’t trip.” “Do you see this? He came to my party and brought her!”
Marie hissed.
“DJ Chill is about to start and we don’t need to have a scene,” she said. “Let’s just sit down, and you need to calm down.”
“I simply don’t believe this bull,” Marie snapped as they sat down at the bar.
Adriana waved for the bartender. “Patrón and two glasses. Leave the bottle.” Turning to Marie, she said, “Ignore them. She’s only sniffing after him again because you two are together,” Adriana said as she poured Marie a glassful of tequila. “She can’t beat you in any other way, so she wants her loser ex back. Let her have it.”
Marie downed a shot and then snatched the bottle off the bar and took a big swig. “If either of them thinks that I’m going to let this go, then they don’t know who the hell I am.” 

“Marie, this isn’t just about you and Willie. Our name is on this event. Do you know what I had to do to get Mez to agree to let us have this party here after what you and Tia did during the last event we hosted here?”
Marie took another swig. “We had a good time and got all kinds of press for this place, so they need not trip. I made Mez a hot spot.”
“Neither should you,” Adriana said as she tried to take the Patrón away. Marie quickly moved the bottle out of her friend’s grasp.
“I’m cool,” she said. “Look at this outfit.” Marie stood up and twirled. “Not trying to mess this up by slapping that slut silly.” She glanced out on to the dance floor and watched as William and Greta danced closer than close, but when they kissed, she felt a tug of embarrassment. Everyone knew that was her fiancé, and there he was pre­tending that she didn’t exist. Sure, she wasn’t in love with him; her relationship was simply a means to an end. Re­spectability in her father’s eyes. But the longer she watched him, the more the alcohol began to kick in. Marie took a shaky step, with the liquor bottle in her hand, toward the dance floor, shaking off Adriana’s hand and ignoring her as she said, “Don’t do it, Marie!” 

Marie thought she’d saunter over to William and Greta, but the Patrón made her stumble, bump into patrons, and cause quite the scene before she grabbed Greta’s shoulder.
“Oh, shit, Marie,” William said. “Look . . .”
“This is pretty cozy,” Marie slurred. “Funny that you’re kissing her when I’m wearing your engagement ring.” She threw her left hand up in the air. Greta shook her head and giggled, which infuriated Marie to the point that she took a swing at her. But, in her drunken state, she stumbled and landed on the floor flat on her bottom.
William bent down and helped her up. “You’re embar­rassing yourself and you’re drunk.”
“And you’re kissing this bitch as if you’re still mar­ried,” Marie shouted, bringing the music and movement around them to a halt. Greta shook her head. “And this is what you left me for? Have you gotten it out of your system?”
William turned to Greta and shot her a look that cried for silence. “Marie, I wanted to tell you that Greta and I had been seeing each other, but . . .” 

“You know what! Go to hell. Both of you go straight to hell!” Marie yelled. She fumbled with the ring on her finger, trying to pull it off and toss it in William’s face. But the ring slipped off and flew across the dance floor. “It was a cheap­ ass stone anyway. It wasn’t even flawless. So, kiss my flawless ass good­bye, loser!” Marie turned on her heels and nearly lost her footing as she pushed her way through the crowd. As she passed the bar, Adriana grabbed her arm. “Where are you going?”
“Home.” 

“You’re not driving.” 

She snatched away from Adriana. “I’m fine and I can drive myself home. It’s three blocks.”
“Marie, you need to sit down, drink some coffee, and sober up,” she warned as she frantically waved for Hailey. “You’re only going to make matters worse if you try to drive.” 

The intern walked over to the bar and glanced from Marie to Adriana. Before she could utter a word, Marie launched into a rant.
“And I’m supposed to sit here and watch them?” Marie nodded in Greta and William’s direction. “I will not. He doesn’t even realize he needs me more than I need him.”
Adriana rolled her eyes and then reminded her friend, “You said you were going to dump him anyway. Why are you acting like a donkey?” 

Marie tore her gaze from William and Greta. “Because I was supposed to dump him! I messed up. I thought get­ting engaged would get my father off my back, but it hasn’t worked and that . . .”
“Hailey,” Adriana said, “you’re going to have to drive Marie home.” “Bu­but,” she stammered as Adriana pressed Marie’s car keys into her hand. Marie glared at the women. “I said I can drive,” Marie slurred. “Right,” Adriana retorted. “Hailey, don’t let her talk you into allowing her to drive. As a matter of fact, go get the car now.” Turning to Marie, she continued, “I can’t leave because I have to smooth things over after that scene you just caused. You’re going to be all over the blogs, again.” 

Hailey tore out of Mez to get Marie’s Jaguar. Marie sighed and shook her head. “Do what you have to do,” she said as she took a last look at William and Greta.
Marie furrowed her eyebrows and pointed her index finger at Adriana, “You’d better hope that damned girl knows how to drive. I just got that Jag.” 

Adriana sighed. “Don’t do anything else stupid.” 

Marie threw her hands up and stomped outside, feeling as if she was sobering up. As she stepped out into the cool night air, hot tears streamed down her cheeks. How was she going to show her face on the party scene again? Losing her man to Greta Jones, a nobody who didn’t have an outfit that fit her chubby frame?
“I can’t believe what happened in Mez,” Marie heard a woman saying. “Marie Charles looked like a damned fool out there. Drunk as a damned skunk and she tossed her ring. William Franklin isn’t worth anyone making that big of a fool over.” 

Marie turned and faced the woman, who was reporting her business over her cell phone as if she was a correspon­dent for CNN.
“Girl, I got to go,” the woman said as she locked eyes with Marie. Marie started to say something, to read Miss Information the riot act, but she didn’t have time for that. She was going home. Marie stumbled down the stairs as she spotted Hailey pulling out of the parking deck. She looked over her shoulder and saw a small crowd had gath­ered and was watching her every move. Trying to put more glide in her wobbly steps, Marie crossed over to her car and opened the passenger­ side door of the Jaguar XK. “All right, Hailey,” she said. “Thank you for driving me home. I’ll make sure a car comes and gets you.” 

“Marie, I’m not sure if I can do this,” Hailey said. “This car is expensive.”
“Just drive, Hailey, it’s only three blocks,” Marie said as she leaned her seat back and closed her eyes. Her mind wandered to her relationship with William and why she’d even agreed to marry him. She’d only wanted to satisfy her father’s archaic notion that a proper Southern woman should be married and starting a family by thirty.
She was twenty-­seven and still young enough to have fun. That’s why she had the job that she created. That’s why she spent her time at every party on the East Coast that she could get into—and that was every one of them that wanted press. Marie knew how to make a scene, good or bad. 

Tonight was bad. She’d make up for it tomorrow. Maybe even have a bachelorette auction for some needy group and put herself on the block as a way to announce to Charlotte that she was back on the market. That’s right, Marie Charles would be back and William would be a dis­tant memory.
Marie had closed her eyes for only a moment when she felt the car jolt and then a hard impact. Her eyes flew open as Hailey screamed. The car hopped the curve and slammed into a one-­hundred­-year­ old oak tree. The explosion of the airbag shocked Marie and knocked the breath out of her. “Oh my God,” she and Hailey screamed. Marie strug­gled to undo her seat belt as Hailey scrambled from the car. “Are you all right?” Marie called out as she kicked the door open and stumbled out of the car. “I’m so sorry,” Hailey said.
“Were you drinking too?”

“No, no. But I don’t have a driver’s license,” Hailey cried. Tears ran down her cheeks. “I can’t get in trouble. I have to get out of here.” 

Marie crossed over to Hailey as well as her drunken legs would take her.
She placed her hands on the young girl’s shoulders. “Calm down,” she said. “You take off. I can talk my way out of this.”
“But what about your car?” Hailey asked as she wiped her eyes.
Marie shook her head. “That’s what insurance is for,” she said. The last thing Marie wanted was to get her intern in trouble. She’d taken Hailey under her wing because she saw a lot of herself in the twenty-­year­-old. Hailey, like Marie, had grown up without her mother and wanted to go into public relations. Marie had met her when she’d spoken to a group of marketing students at the college. Seeing her standing there sobbing uncontrollably, she knew that she couldn’t allow Hailey to face charges. 

Besides, she was Marie Charles; she could possibly talk her way out of this mess.
“Get out of here; I’ll handle this,” she told her.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes,” Marie replied. “Hurry up.” She noticed a few passersby pulling out cell phones and she assumed they were calling 911. As Hailey dashed away, Marie headed back to the car and climbed into the driver’s seat. She tried to back the car up, but it wouldn’t move. Before she could get out of the car, swirling blue lights and sirens froze her in place. This was going to be bad. Inhaling deeply, Marie hoped that she knew the officers who were approaching her; maybe she could just talk them into calling a tow truck for her and this accident nastiness could be put behind her. “Ma’am,” one of the officers asked as he pulled the driver’s side door open, “are you all right?”
Marie stumbled out of the car as the officer opened the door. The other officer grabbed her arm, holding her up. “Have you been drinking?” he asked. 

Marie looked up at the officer—not recognizing him as an officer she knew—and smiled, then she held her index finger inches from her thumb. “Just a little, but this has nothing to do with that.”
The officer who’d been holding her arm called for a medic and a tow truck, while his partner questioned Marie further.
“Can you stand up?” the officer asked her.
“These shoes are just a little painful,” she slurred, then leaned against a sign post.
“Can you perform some field sobriety tests?”
Marie sighed and rolled her eyes. “Do we really have to do this? Why don’t you just give me a ticket and we call it a day?” 

“Ma’am, you hit a tree. This can’t disappear with just a ticket,” the officer said as he watched his partner direct the approaching tow truck and the medic ambulance. “You’re obviously drunk.”
Marie folded her arms across her chest and stomped her foot on the cement. The officer shook his head, know­ing that he didn’t need her to breathe into a Breathalyzer to know she was over the legal limit. “Come on, ma’am, either perform the tests or I will have to arrest you for sus­picion of DWI.” 

“Arrest me?” she snapped incredulously. “Do you know who I am?”
“No,” he said. “I don’t know who you are. Do you have your driver’s license?”
Marie slapped her hands on her hips and focused her indignant stare on the officer. “I’m Marie Charles. You’re not going to arrest me. No one got hurt and you don’t have to arrest me.”
“Yes, I do,” he said as he reached for his handcuffs. This wasn’t how things had played out in her mind when she’d sent Hailey away. The drunk part of Marie consid­ered running; she didn’t want to be put in handcuffs. When it came to dealing with handcuffs, she wanted to be the one in control. But with her shoes and the splitting headache she had, running was not an option. 

“Come on, officer”—she paused and squinted at his name tag—“Wiggams. Ooh, just like The Simpsons. Can’t you just give me a warning?”
“Ma’am, place your hands on your head,” the officer barked. Marie rolled her eyes again, ready to tell Officer Wiggams how sorry he was going to be, but she simply did what he told her.
“You’re so going to lose your job,” Marie said with a giggle.
“You have the right to remain silent,” he said. “I suggest you use it.” “Go to hell,” she snapped as he locked the cuffs on her wrists. The officer read Marie her Miranda rights and then stuffed her in the back of the squad car. She threw her head back and groaned. Marie knew her father would be livid when the news of her arrest reached him.


Six A.M. was the magic hour for celebrity chef Devon Harris. He stood in the kitchen in the middle of his loft, creating a savory meat pie recipe for the women at My Sister’s Keeper, the homeless shelter where he volun­teered and taught a cooking class for some of the women who lived there. 

The meals that his students made became lunch and dinner for the sixty-­five residents who lived in the shelter. Devon placed the top crust on the pie and gently wrapped it in wax paper.

He needed to head to the kitchen of Hometown Delights, the restaurant where he ran the kitchen for his friends, Jade Goings, Serena Billups, Alicia Michaels, and Kandace Crawford. Over the last three years, the restaurant had become one of Charlotte’s premier eateries and meeting places. Fans of the Food Network flocked to the restaurant because Devon filmed his weekly show, Dining with Devon, there, and every month, Devon debuted a new dish to go along with a social event hosted at the restaurant. 

Devon was proud of the work he did at the restaurant and was thinking of writing a cookbook. Hell, he didn’t have anything else to do. Since he’d been in Charlotte, he had grown tired of women looking for a wedding ring after two dates or who thought one dinner date meant they were in a committed relationship. Devon couldn’t deal with that or the women who felt as if they had to compete with everything he did all in the name of being indepen­dent. He didn’t mind a woman who had her own thing going on, but did she have to keep throwing it in his face? 

Maybe that’s why he threw himself into his volunteer work with My Sister’s Keeper. Working with those women made him happy and took his mind off the fact that his bed was colder than the top of Mount Everest in the middle of December. Still, he’d rather have a cold bed than share it with a woman who didn’t mean a damned thing to him. He’d indulged in a few meaningless flings, which Serena and Alicia gave him hell about, and he was tired of the empty feeling. 

“You know you’re just trying to replace Kandace,” they’d say to him when he’d complain about it.
“Don’t let her husband hear you say that,” he’d always reply. Back in college, Devon and Kandace had dated until he made the mistake of cheating on her. Any hopes of rekindling their romance had been dashed when Kan­dace met Solomon Crawford, a rich guy who always got his way. Devon was genuinely happy for Kandace, even if he didn’t like her husband. But with Kandace and Solo­mon expecting their first child, he’d made more of an effort to get along with Solomon. 

That wasn’t easy, though. Solomon still didn’t trust that Devon was over Kandace and often made snide remarks about Devon still wanting his wife. Yawning, Devon decided that he’d make himself some coffee, since he couldn’t shake his sleepiness, before head­ing into the restaurant to bake the pies and take them over to the ladies at My Sister’s Keeper for lunch. 

While the coffee percolated, Devon scrambled two eggs and tossed in some of the leftover meat from the pies to make a quick breakfast burrito, then flipped the TV on to watch the morning news.
“Charlotte socialite Marie Charles was arrested on suspicion of DUI after police say she crashed her car into a tree on Elizabeth Avenue early this morning. The acci­dent followed a dispute at The EpiCentre, where Charles attacked a man on the dance floor at the popular eatery Mez,” the newscaster stated. Devon glanced at the picture of Marie Charles and shook his head. 

“Everybody wants to be famous for all the wrong rea­sons,” he mumbled as he poured himself a cup of coffee. Devon changed the channel to ESPN and watched Sports­Center while he ate his breakfast. After eating, showering, and dressing, Devon dashed out the door and headed for the restaurant. He wanted to make sure that the pies were hot and delicious for the women at the shelter before he started lunch for the restaurant

Why do we fear the word bougie?

Bougie is a fighting word in some black circles.
It's an insult to someone trying to keep it real.
But guess what, bougie only means you've inched closer to your dreams. It's not a class battle --because revolutionaries can be bougie too-- it's not that you've forgotten where you've come from, you've just upgraded your address.
I have an author friend, Michele Grant, who makes bougie look good. You know why? Her books are filled with characters that I know, college educated people, folks with issues my friends and I struggle with everyday. And don't thing the bougie don't have drama.

Last week, The Washington Post addressed bougie and that's what got me thinking about why black folks don't want to be called bougie. It's almost as if some of us embrace some other words that we're called, but not this one.
Here's what the Post had to say:

What bothers me is when my boughie friends --  a group of software developers, attorneys and other professionals -- adamantly deny being boughie because it’s a dirty word in our community. They scoff at the word like they are ashamed that their upwardly mobile transgressions lead to a better life.
Just the other day a single, attorney friend of mine asked me to pray on the phone with her to ask God to bring her a man with money. Not chump change, but real cash that will enable her to live an upper-middle class life. I jokingly said “Okay, boughie” and she said she didn’t meet the qualifications for that label.
I couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t claim the word, her word, and proudly admit to wanting a posh life. I wanted to tell her “Your parents struggled to put you through school and you busted your butt to graduate (twice). It’s okay to want a man who’s also accomplished and financially sound so that both of you can enjoy the benefits of hard work.
And my bougie author friend, who was quoted in the article, sums things up like this:

“The whole essence of bougie is being upwardly mobile, being educated, carrying yourself in a certain way,” says Michele Grant, author of the Black ’n Bougie blog. “Once you get there, you don’t want to necesasrily go backwards in lifestyle.”
I concur. 

Smoking in the boys room or Cutters Cigar Bar

Big bosses, mobsters, older white men.
Those are the stereotypical cigar smokers. But walking into Cutters, one of the two cigar bars in the city of Charlotte, at the Marriott Hotel in Uptown, smokers are more likely to be sports fans, a bit over 30 and so not mob affiliated.
Take Keith Cradle for instance. 
Cradle, 36, has a cigar at least once a week with a group of friends. They’ve been doing it for 10 years, not because it was trendy, but to relax and chew the fat. Why with cigars, though?
“Cigarettes are more like a loner type of thing,” he said. “You go outside and take quick puffs and go back inside.”
But with cigars, which burn slower and have a different taste, there’s time to sit down, relax and talk about everything – ranging from politics, sports and of course women.
“In that time, you’re having conversations and you’re in this atmosphere. It just breeds fellowship. That’s what we got out of it a long time ago, the conversations we could have and it just became a part of what we do,” said Cradle.
On Thursdays, Cradle and about nine of his friends head to Cutters or The Sunset Club on South Boulevard. Due to a change in North Carolina law, smoking is outlawed in most lounges and clubs. However, even before the law went into effect, there weren’t too many places that welcomed cigar smokers. 


So, what's the best kind of cigar to smoke? It depends on your pallet.

According to Cigars for Dummy's.com, the most widely known colors are:
Double Claro - Light green to yellow shade wrapper also called Candela. It is achieved by a heat-assisted quick-drying process. Such wrapper is characterized by a very mild flavor and slightly sweet taste.
Claro - Light tan wrapper. To achieve this color, tobacco is usually grown under shade tents, leaves are picked before they mature and are quickly air-dried. As a rule claro cigars are mild and smooth because the wrapper does not make an impact to the flavor.
Natural - Light brown to brown, also called colorado claro, often sun-grown wrappers. They result in a fuller bodied flavor if compared to the Claro.
Colorado - Medium-brown to reddish dark brown. Usually shade-grown and robust and rich in flavor.
Colorado Maduro - Dark brown, aromatic and rich medium flavor. The color shade is between Colorado and Maduro.
Maduro - Very dark reddish-brown to almost black. It is achieved either by "cooking" the leaves in a pressure chamber, or fermenting them for a longer period of time in very hot conditions. The wrapper usually sweet and indicates a strong flavor.
Oscuro - The darkest maduro wrapper, almost black. It means that the leaf was left on the plant and fermented the longest. The cigars are characterized by a full-bodied flavor. As a rule such wrappers are of Nicaraguan, Mexican or Brazilian origin.
Think of coffee, the darker it is, the stronger it is. It's similar with cigars.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Order my ebooks today. . for a great weekend read

I have a few e-books that are just waiting to be downloaded on to your Kindle, Nook, iPad or other reading device.
Check them 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? 



    Let's Get It On


     
     
    She's So Not Having This Problem
    "I go on vacation in the Bahamas to celebrate my promotion and who do I see? Maurice Goings, NFL superstar, my high school and college sweetheart...the man who not only broke my heart, but drop-kicked it beyond repair. We were only a few weeks away from marriage when I caught him cheating on me. I changed schools, became a top lawyer, and swore that I'd never be hurt like that again. I don't care that Maurice is even finer than ever before, I'm not letting him fool me twice. . ."

    But He's Ready To Do Whatever It Takes. . .
    "I know I hurt Kenya a lot, but I really do love her. No matter how much she tries to push me away, fate keeps drawing us back into each other's arms--and God knows there's still so much sizzling chemistry between us. So this is my last chance to show her that she can trust me again. It's going to be the hardest thing I've ever done--but Kenya's worth it..."
     

     Betting On Love:

    What Happens In Vegas. . .

    High-stakes action and even hotter men are all Jade Christian wants now that her scheming boyfriend has aced her out of his bed and their successful company. But her Vegas weekend spree has turned into several nights of steamy commitment-free hookups with easygoing businessman James Goings--and he's becoming the one bet she can't resist . . .

    Is Just The Beginning. . .
    Growing up in the shadow of his famous athlete brother taught James that focusing on his career was far safer than trusting beautiful women. His sizzling encounters with Jade could almost change his mind . . . if he wasn't afraid she'd use him for revenge on her ex. But the more he sees of the real, down-to-earth woman behind the seductress, the more James will risk to win her love for a lifetime. . .

    Happy reading!! And thank you for your support.

    Get styled by Vivian B

    In NoDa is one fashionable place called Vivian B. Inside the sun lit shop are the latest fashions, classic pieces and some funky art. Owner Kimberly Wilkinson, a graduate of Johnson C. Smith University -- which is my alma mater as well-- greets customers with a smile and an offer of a glass of wine while she shows off new styles by BCBG, Dolce Vita and more.

    Wilkinson opened the shop, named after her grandmother, last year.
    ("My grandmother is still around," she said. "She told me to do her name proud!")
    NoDa needed a place like Vivian B, eclectic, stylish and artsy; everything the area is supposed to be.
    I went down to the store to talk fashion and business with Wilkinson. Since Charlotte is about to put on one of the biggest fashion shows in the city, also known as the CIAA Basketball Tournament.

    When did you decide you wanted to own a boutique? 

    Well, I always knew I wanted to own my own business, I just wasn't too sure as to what. But I loved to shop and I would spend so much money in the mall. So, I said I need to do what I love to do. I've always been an entrepreneur. I was going to do a day care, but after I went through the process, I said this is not going to work. I thought that I needed to do something that was recession proof. But when I started meeting women who were day care owners, they were like enrollment is down. So, I said, I'm going to do what I love. I moved over here and it used to be tons of people on the street for no reason. It hit me, they need something to do and I said, I'm going to open a store.

    How would you style some people in Charlotte for the CIAA? Every year there seems to be a lot of 'fashion mishaps.'

    I always think that classic is the way to go. If you're going to spend your money, you might as well spend your money on something that's always going to be fashionable. Then, mix some trendy things in there. Some people are super clubby and they feel like they have to have on something short and fitted. If people come in, I will give them my ideas on what would be cute for a day party, a night party--all of the above.

    How would you style a woman for her first date? 

    Cute. Something flirty, you know you can give a little but not too much. A first date can be hit or miss. You want to show if you have a flat stomach that you have a flat stomach--so wear a fitted top. If you have a nice behind, wear a pair of jeans that will show a little bit of what they can get if they want to continue. But nothing overly sexy because you don't want to do that.

    What would you say is your best selling item? 

    The dresses go fast, the candles go fast. We have these different greeting card that you can write little sayings in. It just depends on what you come in for.




    Vivian B
    3100 North Davidson Street 
    Charlotte, NC 28205
    (980)939-1612 
     
    Store Hours: 
    Tuesday - Saturday 11am - 8pm
    Sunday  12pm - 5pm

    Children don't even act like this

    So, the Mecklenburg County Board of County Commissioners spent time talking about seating arrangements when teachers in the Charlotte Mecklenburg School system haven't had a raise in three years.
    How I wish this was a joke.

    Here's what The Charlotte Observer reported about the recent BOCC meeting:
    [On a] Dec. 20 meeting, [Harold]Cogdell's first as chairman, Democrat Vilma Leake asked Cogdell why her chair had been moved to the end of the dais next to [County Manager Harry] Jones, while Republican Neil Cooksey was moved closer to the middle where she once sat. Cogdell told Leake the issue wasn't on the agenda and quickly moved on.
    So Leake, with Roberts and Democrat George Dunlap, had the issue added to Wednesday's agenda.
    On Wednesday, Leake told fellow commissioners that she'd found a note after the Dec. 20 meeting. She said it was from another commissioner and that she believed it had been slipped to Cogdell during the meeting. The note, she said, read: "Tell her the truth. No one, Republican or Democrat, wants to sit next to her because she's so disruptive."
    Leake said she felt attacked: "No one on this board works any harder than I do ... I have not disrupted this meeting, nor have I, in any way, created any outburst. I am asking that we communicate with each other and that we be respectful."
    And these are our leaders? Here's a real issue it would be nice for the BOCC to look at. To hell with seating arrangements.



    If you're fed up, make sure you're registered to vote.
    I
    Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2012/01/18/2938316/harry-jones-to-commissioners-lets.html#storylink=cpy

    Tuesday, January 17, 2012

    Five Questions with Shameika Rhymes, author of The MofoChronicles.com


    Heartbreak is hardly funny, but when you give blogger and music lover Shameika Rhymes lemons, she's going to make lemonade and throw the discarded peels in your face, Mofo! She's the creator of the blog, The MofoChronicles, a dating story site. She's raw and funny. Rhymes recently spoke to me about dating in the Queen City, that's Charlotte in case you didn't know.
    If you had to describe dating in Charlotte, how would you?
    My experience dating in Charlotte hasn't been a very good one LOL. But if I had to describe it, I would say that it's definitely different. By that I mean, I have never been anywhere where it seems like the men are straight scared of the women, and by that I mean afraid to approach, pursue, etc. I haven't quite figured out a good compromise, but kudos to those that do LOL.


    •  Why do you think black women in Charlotte have a hard time finding a decent date?
    I don't think black women have a hard time, it's just finding quality dates. It's always those trifling ones that want the woman to take care of them and take on the man's role that want to go out on dates LOL. No thank you! I think though, that we have to probably step outside the color lines, at least that's what I hear, I just took a vow of not dating because my nerves are bad. 

    •  The MofoChronicles is funny. Why did you start the blog? 
    Thank you. I'm glad you find my pain funny LOL just kidding. I started blogging originally after a bad breakup, probably the biggest heartache ever in my life. I started noticing that the blogs people were responding to were the blogs that I wrote about dating. So, I noticed a trend, a lot of the dates that I was going on were with MOFO material, so the unnamed blog morphed into The Mofo Chronicles.

    •   How much truth do you put in to your Mofo posts?
    Every post is a true story. I can't make this ish up LOL.
    • How can readers reach you? 
    Follow me on Twitter @mofochronicles or check out the blog themofochronicles.com



    Friday, January 13, 2012

    But when a former councilman was being dragged through the media. . .

    Tracy Montross, Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx's aide, was cold busted.
    She sent a threatening email to the Charlotte International Cabinet demanding that the group pay for the mayor's business class ticket to China. Foxx was going to China following his re-election to mayor.
    According to The Charlotte Observer, this is what she wrote:

    If it's not reimbursed," she wrote, "please expect hell with your presentation to (City) Council on next year's budget ... There is no reason for (Foxx) to support this expenditure in years to come. His position had not changed but has become more resolute. Thanks for your consideration in advance of our return."
    There it is in Black and White.  A city employee who earns $72,000 a year acting like a bully. Her punishment? A three day suspension. Of course, it became a political issue with Republican city councilmembers Andy Dulin and Warren Cooksey puffed their chests out against her and Foxx.

    Dulin says, "I will not stand to have Charlotte, North Carolina tarnished.  We are a great city with a formerly good, clean government.  And it's what our people deserve and that's what I'm gonna make sure we get back."
    I'm going to stop you right there Dulin --Charlotte politics has always been murky, messy and dirty. What I don't understand is why Montross hasn't been fired?
    Look at the last city council nastiness. Former councilman Warren Turner was accused of sexual harassment and there wasn't an iota of proof proving that he'd done anything.
    According to the $35,000 report by attorney Valecia McDowell, Turner allegedly told one female employee, "You need a real man to be your motivation." To another, he allegedly said, "The guy you introduced to me, did you say he was your fiancé? I need to know who would marry you!" A third incident — in which Turner allegedly pulled an employee's sweater to waist level — couldn't be verified, according to the report.
    But there was nothing concrete like Montross's email and no one came to Turner's defense--like the mayor did of Montross.  He said at a recent meeting that Montross had been dragged through the media.
    And the wall to wall coverage of the Turner mess was what?
    In the Montross case, there's proof that she did something wrong.
    Turner's case? There's just a $35,000 report that tax payers had to pay for. But Charlotte's politics is clean. Let's not even talk about Mecklenburg County.


    Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2011/12/23/2871771/foxx-aides-behavior-highly-inappropriate.html#storylink=cpy

    Thursday, January 12, 2012

    Woman rapes a dead man and gets pregnant

    So, stop me if you've heard this one.
    Woman has a last romp with a dead man and gets pregnant.
    No, this isn't the beginning of a short story, this is a true story.

    A 38 year old female mortuary worker is being held on $250,000 bond after becoming pregnant by one of her clients-a dead man.

    The alleged crime took place at the Mourning Glory Mortuary just outside of Lexington, Missouri.

    Police have charged Felicity Marmaduke with desecration of the dead and necrophilia.

    According to a statement made to police by Marmaduke, the alleged victim experienced a post mortem erection while being bathed.

    Being alone, Marmaduke straddled the dead man and proceeded have sex with him. Much to her surprise, the alleged victim came to orgasm after several minutes.

    A few weeks later, Marmaduke had a positive pregnancy test while receiving a routine medical exam.

    Upon telling her doctor the circumstances leading to the conception, the police were notified. Marmaduke was arrested without incident at her dilapidated trailer home a few blocks from the mortuary.

    In a bizarre twist, Marmaduke plans to sue the dead man’s estate for child support.
    Now, you know I had to post this:

    Monday, January 9, 2012

    You know you got it bad when . . .

    Often times, I've been the girl who pointed out the sisters who had it bad.
    The women who put that dude before her friends, the women who couldn't walk out the door without calling him and the sister who watched her phone waiting for it to ring.

    I'm trying to figure out when I turned into that girl? I guess the moment I brought his shirt home to wash because he spilled his coffee on it. Is this me? Excuse me for a second, I have to check and make sure the Shout is working on that stain.

    OK, I'm back. I guess this is me eating crow. To the ladies I've ever pointed and laughed at, I apologize. I've officially become one of you. There, I've said it publicly.

    Five Questions with Phillip Agnew, creator of the Charlotte Black Card

    When 25-year-old Phillip Agnew was arrested at the Charlotte entertainment complex, The EpiCentre, last summer, he started a movement that brought praise and scorn his way. According to published reports, he was arrested because he wouldn't turn his hat around -- at an outside event.
    Agnew said his arrest was racially motivated, a complaint about the EpiCentre that has floated around the black community in the Queen City since the place opened.
    Agnew took it public, fighting the arrest and launching a protest against the EpiCentre. Then he went one step further, launching the Black Card, a movement in Charlotte to bring solidarity and economic empowerment to the city's African American-owned businesses.

    Agnew spoke to me about the Black Card, what it means to Charlotte and how he feel about the EpiCentre today.
    A note about the EpiCentre, after Agnew's high profile arrest, other groups of people reported discrimination against the establishment and the EpiCentre faces foreclosure.


    You launched the Black Card in 2011, how has the response been from businesses and customers?

    The response has been exciting and overwhelmingly positive.  We think that an initiative like this one is much needed and long overdue.  The buying power of our community is incredibly large and growing, so harnessing that power is extremely important for our community.  2012 will see some exciting changes with our initiative, though our goals: unity, solidarity, and economic empowerment will continue to heavily influence each project.

    Why do you think this card is important to Charlotte? 

    This initiative will soon be bigger than Charlotte.  Black people from coast-to-coast must make a concerted effort to see our dollars circulate in our neighborhoods and communities. But Charlotte was an obvious choice: it is is a banking center, saw thousands of layoffs and has a thriving Black business community.  We think that our City is a perfect incubator for an undertaking like this, and the community has really rallied behind it.  We will soon be expanding to Chicago and Atlanta. Charlotte is only the beginning, but it is the perfect place to start.

    There’s been talk about changes at the EpiCentre, do you think this is too little too late?
    I do.   The EpiCentre, the Music Factory and a number of other venues have long been unwelcome to Black people.  These venues are not marketed to us; they aren’t developed with us in mind, and are generally unwelcome…until CIAA.  This has gone unchecked for years, long before my case.  I am happy that they are attempting to make a change, but until there is equality in treatment of all patrons, it will not be enough.It’s important to note that true change will not happen, anywhere, until we demand it. I don’t plan on our fight being a flash in the pan.  I want club owners and restaurateurs to know that we will continue to watch, continue to speak out, and continue to act until the problem is eliminated.

    You were named QCity Metro’s newsmaker of the year, what were your thoughts on that?
     
    It was an honor. I have the utmost respect for Mr. Burkins, Michaela, Carlton and all of the great men and women at QCity Metro. They’ve reported consistently about the incident since June. But, I have a much more work to finish before I truly feel deserving. What I did paled in comparison to the great accomplishments of many across the city, but I was excited nonetheless.  I’m 26 years old: who wouldn’t be? But it was a list of newsmakers, not world changers, or social activists.  2012 will see our team’s commitment to our mission grow and become more focused on true change.

    The CIAA is coming, if you could tell promoters and party goers anything about the EpiCentre, what would it be?
     
    I’ve never changed my stance: do not enter the EpiCentre. For 357 days, we are made to feel unwelcome.Nevertheless, the lack of social access for Blacks in the city makes this impractical.  We have some things planned for CIAA, though.Many of those venues in the EpiCentre and the Music Factory are more than willing to accept our dollars during this week.I would hope that people are wiser with where they spend their time and money. We will be distributing some literature to increase awareness about what to do if you or anyone in your party is discriminated against. We do have a right to enjoy this city. It’s important that we defend that right.

    Sunday, January 8, 2012

    Was your New Year's Resolution to write a book? Let me help you.

    Prepare for publication
    Four week writing workshop with Author Cheris Hodges, starting Jan.21-Feb.11 from 10 a.m. to noon.
    Is your New Year’s resolution to become a published author, but you don’t know where to start?
    Let me help you with a four-week course to get your manuscript prepared for publication. Join me as I teach you the ins and outs of creating the perfect story at Red @ 28th in NoDa.
    Lesson One:
    What’s your story about?
    In the first session, we’ll go over story telling techniques and write from different prompts to get you started.
    Home work: Create a synopsis for your novel and write at least one chapter.
    Lesson Two:
     Outlining your novel
    How to write and find the best outlining technique for your style of writing and why you need to outline your novel. What happens when your story deviates from the outline and how to fix it.
    Lesson Three:
    Editing
    Writers need editors, even before you get a publishing contract. What to look for in an editor and why having a professional editor is important. The difference in copy editing and line editing.
    Lesson Four:
    Time for publication
    How do you want to be published? Do you want to create an e-book, self-publish or find a traditional publisher?  How to find a literary agent and avoid predators.
     
    The four week course is $75.
    Single sessions are $30 each.
    Email: cheris87@bellsouth.net to sign up.

    Friday, January 6, 2012

    Serial novel coming in April. . .

    What does it take to get the news out?

    Over the last twelve years, Kendall Anderson has been working in the hardest hit medium -- print journalism. She's covered courts, sports and entertainment. But at the last magazine where she worked, she had a front row seat to insanity.

    First, the company went bankrupt.

    Then it was sold to twice. Next, a cast of characters come in and out of the news room making Kendall's life a living hell. Her writing skills are questioned, she finds herself the one black spot in a lily white company and then she's tossed out on her ass.
    What does Kendall do?

    Find out in Deadline. . .Everything that's fit to print
    By Cheris Hodges

    Thursday, January 5, 2012

    I love the city of Charlotte, but. . .

    My city is really a great place to live. Charlotte, North Carolina is a beautiful city. Clean streets. Nice neighborhoods. Friendly people. But where have all the copy editors gone?
    The city's daily paper, The Charlotte Observer, made national news yesterday because of a herniated dick.

    Yes, a herniated dick. Here's the back story:

    Going all the way back to his last few seasons with the New Orleans Hornets, Knicks point guard Baron Davis has dealt with a frustrating series of back issues. Those issues, more specifically a herniated disc in his lower back, have prevented him from playing his first game with New York in the 2011-12 season. He's expected back sometime in late February.
    The Charlotte Observer? It's not expected to recover from this typo surrounding Davis' herniated disc anytime soon. Take a modified look at what showed up in its sports section on Wednesday morning:
    Way to go Charlotte.
    Other things about my city that could use a copy editor:

    When I woke up this morning to have breakfast, there was big news about a water main break in Myers Park, described by their neighborhood association as Charlotte's finest planned suburb. The water main break is expected to be fixed by the afternoon rush hour. Well, across town in North Charlotte, the city has been repairing a water main break since before Thanksgiving. The city has been working on it so long that during the last heavy rain, part of the street caved in. What's wrong with this picture?


    A woman used a baby as weapon in a fight yesterday. In Charlotte, a woman broke into a house, bashed a sleeping 50-year-old in the face with a lamp and then threw a baby at a 16-year old.
    The suspect ran away from the house, and Charlotte-Mecklenburg police have not indicated if she has been found.
    Really?
    And finally, The EpiCentre. In Uptown Charlotte, the EpiCentre is supposed to be the center of entertainment. Filled with bars, restaurants and a movie theater, this place should rock. And it does -- if you're not black.
    First there were just rumors and stories about racism there. Then it was brought to the forefront when Phillip Agnew, an African American professional, was arrested last summer because of what was said to be a dress code violation. (Insert side eye)
    In November, more allegations of racism surfaced. Channel 9 reported this:

    Another group of young black men and women is filing a complaint with the CRC after they were arrested in April outside of Whiskey River.
    The group is claiming bouncers were too aggressive in removing them from the bar during closing time and a fight ensued, ending in arrests for disorderly conduct and assault on a police officer. Two of the suspects went to the hospital to be treated for injuries."It's quite obvious that they are concerned with the perceptions about the epicenter when these types of allegations are made," said CRC Executive Director Willie Ratchford.
    Interestingly enough, in September, the Charlotte Community Relations Committee said there wasn't any racial discrimination there. And you can best believe that when the CIAA Basketball Tournament returns to Charlotte next month black promoters and party goers will be breaking their neck to host events there and spend all there money with The EpiCentre.

    But, I still love my strange, clean and abused city.


     

    Tuesday, January 3, 2012

    Do we really have to give up the fashion rules at 35?

    March 1st is a significant date for two reasons. One, it's the date my latest book is due to my publisher and two, it's the day I turn 35.

    In my mind, my 35th year was supposed to be totally different. I expected to be married or at least a New York Times bestseller. Instead, I'm wading on the mid-list, hoping that the next book I release is the one that puts me over the top. As far as marriage goes, well, that ship has sailed and sunk. It was a very fiery accident that has inspired several novels. :) 

    So, I sought some inspiration from TV -- I know that's sacrilegious for a writer. My remote's battery died on a marathon of TLC's What Not To Wear. Up pops a sign, no mini skirts after 35. Really? So all of that working out to get my legs looking half way decent was for not?

    Who comes up with all of these rules that women of a certain age are supposed to follow? Or the names that women of a certain age are called? Cougar, anyone?
    I'd like to see Stacey or Clinton tell Tina Turner or Diahann Carroll to stop wearing mini skirts. When did 35 become too old to wear just what the hell I want wear? And if women are supposed to make grown up fashion choices, why are designers constantly making the cutest little mini skirts?
    Here's the thing, if you don't shop in the junior's section, I think you're all right. To heck with the rules!
    And this is why I lied about my age for so long!

    Monday, January 2, 2012

    Sinners and Saints -- eight days until the battle of the first ladies.


    Victoria Christopher Murray and ReShonda Tate Billingsley created two iconic characters in Jasmine Larson Bush and Rachel Jackson Adams. Both women are first ladies in their husbands' churches and they have not so squeaky clean pasts.
    They had to meet, right?

    On Jan.10, Murray and

    Jasmine Larson Bush and Rachel Jackson Adams are not your typical first ladies. But they’ve overcome their scandalous and drama-filled pasts to stand firmly by their husbands’ sides.
    When a coveted position opens up—president of the American Baptist Coalition— both women think their husbands are perfect for the job. And winning the position may require both women to get down and dirty and revert to their old tricks. Just when Jasmine and Rachel think they’re going to have to fight to the finish, the current first lady of the coalition steps in . . . a woman bigger, badder, and more devious than either of them.

    Murray and Billingsley recently spoke to me about the release of their new novel.

    "First week sales are really important," said Murray. (In other words, order this book or get your booty in the store and buy it.)
    Especially since the idea to write about Jasmine and Rachel had been brewing for years. Billingsley said a few years ago, her publisher said "it would be a great idea for Victoria and I to write a book together."

    "She didn't come up with the idea of our characters meeting, but she thought since we wrote so similar it would be great for us to write a book together. And we just thought, naturally, that it would be great for Rachel to beat down Jasmine," she said.
    "And it just didn't work out that way," Murray interjected. "This was in 2006, 2007, that's how long it took to get the whole thing together. People think you can jump in and just write books and get deals. This was at a 2007 BEA (Book Expo America) when Louise Burke told me that she'd talked to ReShonda."
    For the authors, putting Jasmine and Rachel together was a perfect fit. Not because they're already fan favorites, but according to Murray, they're just so opposite in who they are.
    "Readers resonate with both of them because they can see themselves (in the characters) both the good and the bad," Billingsley said. "It's like one of those reality shows and you see them getting in all the trouble, but you keep watching and rooting for the person causing the most trouble. Well, in most cases -- except for NeNe. They're the girls you love to hate."
    "They're just perfect," Murray said. "You have the north versus the south, you have the age (Jasmine's the older first lady) and Jasmine's so bougie. Rachel is like, 'yeah, I can get the same thing you get at Marshall's."

    So, are you ready to see who gets beat down and who comes out on top? Pick up Sinners and Saints when it drops on Jan.10 -- unless you're happy with Snooki from Jersey Shore being an New York Times bestselling author.