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Friday, April 27, 2012

Dear Muse, why do you only show up at one in the morning?

So, I'm taking a sort of social media break to work on my two WIPs. Last night, I wrote 2,000 words on Alicia's story. And Thursday was going to be Dana's day.

Day light came, I woke up at six-thirty ready to write. Sat down with my wireless keyboard and nothing. Not a word. So, I said: "I'm going to do some yoga. Get the blood flowing."
I did yoga, aerobics, some ab work. Came back to the iPad and nothing.
Brewed some coffee, cooked an egg with cheese and tomatoes. Ate. Drank. Nothing.

Watched the Young and The Restless, went to sleep because Victor Newman is starting to bore me. Woke up. Wrote three damned sentences.
Cleaned the refrigerator, went to the market, watched Scandal. Did another 10 minutes of yoga and then my lovely Muse decided to show her face. RIGHT when I wanted to go to bed.

On the flip side, Alicia's word count: 14.565
Dana and Adrian: 14,402 and counting. My muse started whispering to me again. I'm going to need more coffee.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Recipe For Desire Event in Atlanta, GA

Tashmir Touch Events hosted an event celebrating Recipe For Desire in Atlanta over the weekend. There was a cooking demonstration, a reading from Recipe For Desire and a fun Q&A session. Don't let me talk you to death, take a look at the video highlights:


The wonderful book clubs

Author Miranda Parker showing support. Have to read A Good Excuse To Be Bad?

Author D. L. Sparks, mistress of romantic suspense. Pick up her latest, Between Friends

Radio personality and Lipgloss boss, Shay Moore

Me and Louise Brown, who is basically Cleveland Alexander's mama! If you enjoyed More Than He Can Handle, you should thank her!


I'm always amazed that people actually listen to me talk. :)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Meet Chef J. Rodney

Women love a man who cooks. And if he cooks well, then we're beating down his door to marry him.

Last Saturday in Atlanta, I met one such man, Chef J. Rodney.
Cooking demo in Atlanta.

He runs his own personal dining service and demonstrated his skills at the Recipe For Desire book event hosted by Tashmir Touch Events

Here's his delicious recipe:
The finished product

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

North Carolina's Travyon Martin. . .Jasmine Thar

Sixteen year old Jasmine Thar was shot and killed in December. She wasn't walking around a strange neighborhood. She wasn't wearing a hoodie or carrying Skittles and iced tea, she was with her godmother and a friend getting ready to go shopping in Myrtle Beach.

Thar was shot by a resident of Chadborn, N.C., a town along the N.C. coast, not too far from the S.C. coast.
James Anthony Blackwell, 23, told police he was cleaning a a Remington Model 700 rifle and it fired without him pulling the trigger. The police bought that excuse and Blackwell was never charged.

Thar's mother, Carletta McNeil, had to take to the Internet to get some movement on the case. She started at SignOn.org Justice For Jasmine petition. As of Wednesday morning, 9,047 people had signed the petition.
The State Bureau of Investigation and the FBI are investigating the case --but there has been no charges filed against Blackwell or an arrest in the case.

What's the excuse in this case? The Charlotte Observer laid out a lawsuit against the gun manufacturer, which will possibly be Blackwell's defense if he's ever charged.
Questions lingered about the rifle. Roughly 75 lawsuits have been filed against the Madison, N.C.-based Remington Arms Co. claiming its 700-series rifles have fired without a trigger pull. The company disputes those claims.
The family members recall that David said he had asked the FBI to join the probe because investigators were concerned about evidence they had found in the home of Blackwell, who is white.
That evidence was reported by WBTV-Channel 3 as including a Nazi book.
Pause.
Two things about this case worry me. 1. Why is it so hard to get an arrest in a shooting when the shooter isn't black?
1a. Who in the blue hell cleans a loaded gun?
2. Why is it that Charlotte didn't cry out for this girl they way this bandwagon city got on the Trayvon Martin case?
Now, I'm not saying that Charlotte shouldn't have stood up for Martin as the country did. But Jasmine needs us too. Where are the big voices and marches for Jasmine? Where are the comforting words to her parents?
"It's been really hard," the mother said. "I have been traumatized. She actually died in front of me. Not sleeping - trying to get justice for her."
The parents will travel to Chadbourn next week to hear if charges will be filed.



Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2012/04/16/3180944/1-bullet-3-victims-many-questions.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2012/04/16/3180944/1-bullet-3-victims-many-questions.html#storylink=cpy

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sunday video blog

Do I look a little frazzled? It's because I am.
Writing is hard work, but I love to do it!




Make sure you add these books to your Reading Lists:
You Have No Idea by Vanessa Williams and Helen Williams


And An Accidental Affair by Eric Jerome Dickey.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Race in Charlotte

The shooting of Travyon Martin has people talking about race and Wednesday night, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations Committee, Mecklenburg Ministries and Community Building Initiative hosted a discussion on Martin.

What needed to happen here was a real-life discussion on the racial issues in Charlotte.
Because this city has some serious underlying racial issues that no one talks about in mixed company. Tonight was a chance to do that and no one did it.
Last night's event was supposed to talk about broader implications of the Martin case, including:
  • Why is what happened so disturbing?
  • Could it happen here?
  • What should happen now?
What we got was a PC discussion on race, a rehashing of the reported facts in the case and a group discussion where someone said they're afraid to adopt a black child and more proof that our local elected officials really don't give a damn about what's happening in Charlotte.
Before I get into the meat of the program, I have to express my disappointment in the Charlotte City Council and Mecklenburg County Board of County Commissioners. Thankfully, Councilwoman LaWana Mayfield felt this program was worthy of her time, as did Commission Chairman Harold Cogdell. Where were the rest of the elected officials? I'll wait to hear about the previous engagements they had that kept them from this discussion.

And speaking of the discussion, a panel featuring, Brett Loftis, executive director of Council For Children's Rights, Jelani Haskins, a 17-year-old Philip O. Berry student, Jose Hernandez-Paris, diversity and multicultural education specialist for Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, Brian Heslin, attorney with Moore and Van Allen and Mary C. Curtis, renowned journalist and current writer for the Washington Post, talked about what the Trayvon shooting meant to them.
Curtis had the best line of the night: "The worst act by a white person is an act by that person. The worst act by an African American and the whole race is judged by it."

I need Charlotte to address racial issues in this city. Why has East Charlotte been allowed to be described as the violent side of town? Is it because the population is mostly black and brown? Why are minority areas of the city the last to get critical needs addressed. We have sidewalks in Ballentyne and no one walks there.

Why is it when predominately black neighborhoods are cleaned up, it usually means moving the black people out?
And how about the fact that there are places in this city were black people know they're going to be harassed if they go there? EpiCentre anyone?

Before the city of Charlotte tries to get in on a national discussion about race, let's look at our local issues.
Why did everyone get so upset with Cogdell when he made a move for the BOCC chair? It wasn't because of "politics" it's because he unseated a white woman. Now, the only commissioner that you see in the community isn't running for reelection. Good job, Charlotte.

Why do people outside the minority community have to be told why the Trayvon Martin case has African Americans angry? Because their children have never been bused to the inner city to understand what it's like to be there. Their children never had to get up at five a.m. to ride a bus for an hour to go to school.

Until Charlotte looks at the racial issues in this city, discussions like last night's will be nothing but hot air.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Join me at Concord Mills On Saturday

 Come and get a Recipe For Desire! Join me as I sign copies of my latest novel this Saturday, April 14, at Books-A-Million located at Concord Mills Mall in Concord, NC.

The signing starts at 5 p.m.-- And there will be chocolate!

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Marie Charles's Fundraising arrest

Have you read Recipe For Desire? Are you wondering what happened in The Square when she and her friends were arrested?
Well, check it out:

Marie Charles yawned as she read another party invitation. Sure, she'd built her reputation as a party girl and her image had appeared on some flyers -- not always with her permission -- and promoters had paid her to show up at events before, but she was getting bored.

Her event planning company had come together with ease because if Marie was in the house, people would surely follow. Yawning, she tossed the invitations aside and kicked her feet, clad in a pair of black and white Christian Louboutin's, up on her brand new desk in the office of M&A Events. She recalled the conversation she and her father, Richard Charles III, had two days ago.
"Marie," he'd said. "You need to do something more with your life."
She'd sighed and sipped her chi tea. "Daddy," she'd replied. "I am doing something with my life. I just started M&A Events with Adriana and we're bringing class to the nightlife of this city."
Richard had simply shook his head. "You do realize that you're almost thirty. What do you have to show for it?"
"What do you mean?"
"You're wasting your life as this party girl. You need to start looking at a real future. A family, community service. What kind of legacy are you going to leave?"
Legacy? she'd thought. He acts as if I'm going to die tomorrow. But she'd kept silent.
"What are you plotting over there?" Adriana asked as she entered the office.
"Just thinking. Where have you been this morning?"
Adriana smiled brightly. "I was at a meeting with Mike Kitchen. We're going to celebrate your birthday at Pop Life."
Marie sucked her teeth. "That's so cliché. Everyone does that. I want to celebrate my birthday with a splash."
"Common is going to perform. Is that a big enough splash for you, your highness?" Adriana quipped.
Marie perked up. "That's a start. I have a question, what's going on in the world?"
"Huh?"
"I want to raise money for a charity. Something that people will get behind and will get M&A in the news." Marie chewed her bottom lip then snapped her fingers. "I got it. Let's save some puppies or something."
"You don't even like dogs."
"Put the public does."
Adriana shook her head. "Why do I get the feeling that this is going to be a hot mess?"
"Please, I don't do hot messes. More like a pretty mess. Let me call Tia and Willow. Willow loves dogs and probably has a contact with some of those groups."
Adriana shook her head. "I don't want anything to do with this. When you and Tia get together trouble follows. You do realize that this could. . ."
"Bring us more clients, get us on the news and in the Observer. Just chill out and let me handle this. I plan to make a mark."
"Yeah, I bet you do. So, about Pop Life?"
"Will Common and I get some time together? If not, I'm good."
"I'll call Kitch and find out. I know they're planning to make a drink in your honor."
Marie smiled as she pulled out her cell phone. "I like the sound of that. Maybe we should go to Neiman Marcus and get the right outfits, just in case."
"Any excuse to shop is a good one, right?"
Marie reached her wild friends, Willow and Tia, and the women decided to protest and raise money to save puppies from a puppy mill in Gaston County. What Marie didn't do was get a permit to hold the event Uptown and she had no plans to do so. That would take too long and she wanted to get this done on her birthday, which was less than a week away.
The next day, Marie and Tia headed to the PETA regional office in Ballentyne to meet with the director. Of course, Ellena wanted to bring more people to the protest and wanted to do it in the Square.
"If you want to get attention," she told Marie. "You're going to have to be willing to take a big leap."
"Meaning?" Marie asked.
"Go naked."
Marie shrugged and turned to Tia. "Do you have a problem with that?"
Tia shook her head. "Not at all."
This will definitely leave a mark! Marie thought as she and Tia left the office.

Find out what Marie Charles did in Recipe For Desire.  

Now available also in e-book format.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Hip-Hop producer Branden "Noc Beats" Boyd talks Doin' Homework

A lot of hip-hop artists make mixed tapes that sound as if they were made in the basement of someone's grandmother's house. So, when I met Branden Boyd -- a hip-hop producer who recently moved to Charlotte -- and he told me to download his group's mix tape, I wasn't sure that I wanted to.
It's a good thing that I did.
Talk about quality production.
Boyd spoke to me about the music.


1.       What makes Doin Homework album different from other hip-hop records?
Doin Homework is different than other albums out right now, because it is “Hip Hop.”
The concept of Doin' Homework Vol.2 - The Foundation is that we studied different groups and artist's over the years that created Hit Unit's DNA. So, you can hear different elements of Hip Hop in every song that was produced on the project. The song Recess (Produced by Noc Beats)(me) for example, he used the piano sample from Gang Starr's Manifest and Doug E. Fresh's Alright. On the song, Say What, the drums are the drums from A Tribe Called Quest's Electric Relaxation. If you’re a true Hip Hop head you will embrace and recognize that. All the members possess different elements of  Hip Hop from: classic and craditional to southern. Also when have seen a big member group where every member is nice with lyrics. None, since the Native Tongues, Wu Tang, or the Dungeon Family.

2. How long has the Hit Unit been together?

Hit Unit has been together since 2001 and started at the University of Wisconsin - Parkside in Apt 1c.

3. Are you a producer who also raps?
Naw, I don't rap, I let the fellas handle that. I talk through my beats. A classic album is the marriage between the perfect beat and perfect rhyme on every song.

4. How did you get involved in music?
Since I was a baby, I’ve been into beats and music. My mom said I use to jingle keys to keep a beat and beat on pots and pans like a drum set. Then I went to Elm Creative Art School, Roosevelt Middle School of the Arts in Milwaukee. At these schools they target it in on your gifts and help perfect them. Then when I got to College I started DJing and doing beats. Even now in my production you can hear how I blend different sounds and samples to make something great.

5. If people want to download the music, how can they do it?  
If people want download music from Hit Unit they can go to www.hitunitent.com (Doin' Homework Vol.II - The Foundation and DJ O of V100 presents The Best of Hit Unit and to download my instrumental album called Nocstrumentals go to www.nocbeats.com.. Twitter:@hitunit @nocbeats   

Recipe For Desire inspired me to find this recipe. . .Devon would be proud

Let me say, I'm not a cook. I struggle with grilled cheese sometimes.
But Devon Harris used food to love and seduce Marie Charles (and a lot of other women, but we're not going to bring up his Paris past -- yet).

While he was a student in Paris, he created a chocolate cake called, A Lover's Cake. On the menus in France, it reads, gateau d'amoureux at Le Bouquet des Archives.
Devon is pretty closed mouth on his recipe for this cake, but he assures me this cake here comes close.
Here's the recipe, courtesy of All Recipes.com:

Ingredients

  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package chocolate cake mix
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate, melted
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 (3.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 1 cup heavy cream, whipped

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Prepare and bake cake mix according to package directions for two 9-inch layers. Cool and remove from pans.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together sweetened condensed milk and melted chocolate. Gradually stir in the water, then instant pudding until smooth. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Remove the chocolate mixture from the refrigerator, and stir to loosen. Fold in whipped cream and return to the refrigerator for at least another hour.
  4. Place one layer of cake onto a serving plate. Top with 1 1/2 cups of the mousse, then cover with the remaining cake layer. Frost with the remaining mousse, and refrigerate until serving. Garnish with fresh fruit or chocolate shavings.
If you try it, let me know how it turns out for you and if it sparks a "recipe for desire" at your home. 
 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

How My Computer Almost Drove Me Crazy

Chatting with author D.L. Sparks


D.L. Sparks is the definition of doing what it takes to make her dreams come true. She self-published her first novel, All That Glitters, then landed a publishing deal. She blends romance and suspense in her books and takes readers on a wild, page turning ride. But there's more to Sparks than just writing and selling books, she plays it forward in the Atlanta community by mentoring young girls. And girlfriend has a serious shoe game! 

1. Tell the readers about your latest book, Between Friends.

A drug bust gone wrong brings D.E.A. agent Orlando “Trip” Spencer back to his hometown of Atlanta after being gone for years and he’s not the only one unhappy about the return home. Idalis Arrington and Trip have been best friends since they were little. Nothing or nobody could come between them, that’s until she meets Lincoln. With Trip back in Atlanta Idalis’ perfect world starts to get messy and she finds herself praying that his visit is a short one. But the question is can she hold it together or will the sound of the skeletons in her own closet drown out what she’s convinced herself has been the truth all these years? Lincoln “Linc” Briscoe, a Lieutenant with the Atlanta Police Department has been dating Idalis since college. He knows he has a lot at stake and his girl’s best friend or not he refuses to let anyone jeopardize what he’s worked so hard to gain. Trip and Lincoln are on a collision course threatening to collide and take down everyone, including their careers, with them. Idalis is cracking under the pressure while slowly revealing her own shortcomings.

2. Where do you find the inspiration for the suspense in your novels?
 
I love to play the “What If” game but with a twist. The romance and happily ever after is nice and warm and fuzzy but “what if” her boss was a serial killer? Or “what if” his wife was having an affair that drives her husband to murder? Basically my mind doesn’t work like a normal person’s mind should. LOL!! I love to read authors like James Patterson and Dean Koontz and definitely Stephen King (but only during the day….). The anticipation of what’s to come when reading one of their books that keeps me up turning pages inspires me to give that same intensity to my readers. Stephen King is the master of Thriller! I was scared to sleep in the same room with Pet Sematary! (Don’t tell anyone). LOL! But the next day I couldn’t wait to run downstairs and pick it back up. I want my readers to have that same addiction to my books.

3. Talk about your journey to publication.

My journey to publication was a choppy one. My first book All That Glitters came out back in 2007. After half-hearted attempt at self-publishing I ended up with a very small publishing company but was very motivated by the feedback I received from All That Glitters. I really didn’t think much of it but I started to slowly work towards building the foundation for The Lies That Bind and it literally took on a life of its own. I almost want to say that the book finished itself. LOL! The characters and I developed great momentum and it was picked up and published with Urban Renaissance in 2011. Once it came out, I was determined to top myself. So when I started working on the next book I was harder and tougher on myself as well as my characters that time around. I wanted to show growth with the next book and the result was Between Friends  published in 2012 under the same imprint. I am currently working on my next novel and true to form, I am pushing myself even harder. I hear the theme for Rocky every time I fire up my laptop. LOL!


4. What inspires you do the mentoring that you do around the Atlanta area?

Our young girls today have very little to NO role models and the images that they are held up against is very disheartening. A lot of them come from single or no parent homes and have little to no direction other than what they see on T.V. I want them to know that they don’t have to be a size 0 or dancing in a video to be considered beautiful.  I encourage education, especially reading and writing. I make sure it’s relatable  to the crowd I am talking to at the time. I tell them if Rihanna is your favorite singer she has to learn how to read music, write lyrics, etc. My grandfather instilled in me that education (especially reading) is extremely important in every aspect of life and I feel it’s my job to pass that on. I also want the young girls to see someone who looks like them standing at the podium or on stage to let them know that anything is possible if they stick with it and believe in themselves.

5. How can readers contact you online?

Readers can find me online on:
Twitter: @dlsparks and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/D.L.Sparks

Monday, April 2, 2012

Let's Get Together for Coffee

If you're in Charlotte and you've read Recipe For Desire, I want to talk to you.

Let's meet for coffee on April 15, that's a Sunday. Email me at cherisfhodges@gmail.com for more information.

There will be give-a-ways. A look at my e-book If It Isn't Love and a preview of Searching For Paradise, my first novel, which will be re-released in May as an e-book.


Kicking it with Carlton Hargro

When it comes to comic book geeks, they don't get much cooler than Carlton Hargro. He's also one of the coolest bosses I've ever had.
Hargro has embarked on a journey to create cool black superheroes with his Kickstarter.com project, The African American Superhero Anthology. He's also making Charlotte a cooler place to live with Su Casa, a monthly party where you hear music beyond what Power 98 plays and this summer he's bringing you something SWEET!

Watch.