Getting published is a real be-yatch! Hear about my ups, downs and a few random rants in between.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Friday Fun Post: But "alone" time is how you got 'em

Couldn't help myself. I had to share this.

A hubby goes on strike because his wife keeps bringing their kids to bed with them.

Guess he doesn't believe in the Hustle & Flow strategy of keeping his woman in check, "Whup that trick."

LOL Sorry. Bad P running wild!!

Don't forget to watch the video off to the right.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Validate Me, CCBC

Since I began writing novels three years ago I've been on and off my soap box about why I write what I do.

Well, see my post on "you know you're a writer if..." to know exactly why I write. But I meant, what spurred me into writing novels for Young Adults versus any other market.

Well, thanks to this article by the Cooperative Children's Book Center, I can step away from the lectern and let someone else (more studious than I) take the mic and talk about not only the trends in children's literature, but what publishers must continue to do to keep the kiddie lit movement healthy.

The article, Publishing in 2005 - covers everything related to children's lit from multi-culti and sci-fi to GLBTQ and PB's.

Enjoy!

Link courtesy of CCBC, School of Education University of Wisconsin-Madison.

So You Wanna Be A Writer

Everyone can write. Some just do it better than others.

Writing seems to be one of those things that people like to sit back and fantasize about. They like to bandy the idea about, as if merely thinking and talking about writing will get something written.

You never hear someone say, "You know, I really want to sing someday."

People who want to be musicians actively participate in that craft. If not full-time, definitely on the side - wedding singers, being a part of band that gets paid to play gigs, church choir - wherever they need to be to get their jones sated.

But many who have the urge to write, just like to announce that they have that urge.

So, for all those who think they might "have a book" in them, here are a few signs that can push you off that fence. You're definitely a writer if...

11. There are voices in your head and you're okay with that.

10. The aforementioned voices get louder and more agressive until you allow them to speak via PC or long-hand, if you're feeling a little Faulkner.

9. You've ever uttered the statement, "I don't write because I want to. I write because I have to."

8. You don't make a move without first consulting Miss Snark.
Dear Miss Snark,
Should we have macaroni and cheese or mashed potatos with our porkchops? Holla at Killer Yap for me.
Snarkaliciously yours,
Paula


7. You know the meaning of most, if not all, of the following writer's alphabet soup: ARC, WIP, SASE, MSS, REVS, CP, P&E,

6. You see no problem obsessing over finding the right agent as much as you did picking your spouse.

5. You feel the need to share every waking thought with the rest of the world via a blog, Live Journal or newsletter. 'Cause, um, if you don't write about it...it didn't happen.

4. Sitting at a social gathering you begin to think, Damn, I could be writing.

3. You expect to be paid for your writing.

2. Someone, upon discovering you're a writer, throws out an inane, utterly ridiculous and barely sketched out thought and says, serious as a stroke, that you should write about it...and then graciously says, you can "have" the idea.

1. After reading this blog (or any) you're inspired to write about why/how it inspired you.

Happy scribing to all my fellow authors, writers, journalists and gonnabe authors, writers and journalists.

Oh yeah, another sign you're a writer - you take total creative license in making up words or turning words that have no business being verbs into one. Heh, heh!

Writers write, so get to it.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Drunk on the tunes

You know how some people drink too much and then get all sappy?

They start professing their love for you, need to slam their arm around your neck (drunks never know their own strength)and get all close in your face with the stankin' liquor breath. "Gir...I lugh you."

Well that's how I get when I get full from listening to good music.

For as long as I can remember I've surrounded myself in music. Let any song I really like come on and I'll attach it to something in my life. Thus the sappiness.

Thanks to my iPod I can stay high as a kite on my favorite music. I can go weeks without listening or downloading new songs. But when I'm on an iPod streak I get almost deliriously full of emotion because each song holds some memory with it.

Combine that with hanging out on Myspace with my fellow authors, potential readers, and fam (both of the blood variety and cheer)and I'm afraid to drive home because I'm so drunk with emotion, I might get a DWE. Ha, ha!

But I'm sitting on Myspace talking to my daughter, my neice and one of my cheerleaders and I feel so grateful that I've chosen Young Adult fiction. I really love interacting with young people. They're so innocent, hopeful and full of expectation that life will not let them down.

How can you not have fun writing for them?

My neice wants to get into modeling. I've been quietly championing her through. Not because I think she'll be America's Next Top Model, but because I love that she's found something to be passionate.

Despite driving them to give 100% and leave it on the floor - hurry up, put a bandage on that gash and get back in formation - and mother-henning them when they forget practice is for...uh, practicing my cheerleaders always send me "luv u like a mama" comments.

And my daughter and I- chip off the old block, that one - shared one of those cute, mother-daughter things that only a mom with a girl-child can experience. There are just some things my poor husband will never get to experience because we had girls. I feel bad about it but love every girlie moment I spend with my Princesses.

I lugh those girs.

So here I am, inappropriately intoxicated at work forcing back any joy tears for fear my colleagues will think I've lost my ever-loving mind!

The power of music to evoke emotion is scary.

I'm telling you, world peace is just one closed meeting between world leaders where we pipe in some God-awful "We Are The World" song until they agree to get along - away.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Trife Life

There are some who say I'm boogee (that's bourgeois, for the proper set).

Those people would be right. I am boogee. Get over it.

I'm more tenderloin than Chuck steak; Merlot over Mad Dog 20/20 (who wouldn't be?) and Fiji water over Deer Park. I like the good stuff. It's just how I am.

Don't get me wrong, I can do boogee on a budget in a heart beat. I love Steve Maddensand Jimmy Choosbut I'll rock a a good fake if necessary.

I'm particular about certain things. But most are personal choices that I can control.

The hardest part about being boogee is living in a world where some people, places and businesses insist on being trife.

You can call me boogee for being annoyed by this. But, honestly, is there any call for:

Dual operating systems for franchises - I'm not talking about some fancy, technological operating system. I mean, literally, why are some franchises insistent upon melding into their so-called "environment" instead of holding up generic customer service and operating processes across locations?

I went to the Hollywood Video in Annapolis, today. Something told me to just hit the one across the street from my house. But that would have required going in late. And you all know how diligent I am about getting to work on time. Heh, heh.

So I decide to hit the one right down the street from my office. For those who don't know, I live in an area considered somewhat hoity-toity, snooty. I work in Annapolis, which is also known for its snobbery. But my office is located in an area that's more around-the-way than hoity.

I show up at the store at 10:05. Doors locked. Hmmm...that's odd.

I check to make sure they open at 10 a.m. like the one where I live.

Yup, 10:00.

Check my cell again for the time.

Clerk walks by the window and waves to me.

WTF?!

I try the doors again. Maybe it's just me, ya' know?

No. They're locked.

The clerk walks by again! So I call the store and he answers.

"Err...are you open or not?"

He wasn't aware the door was locked. Thought I was just waiting on someone.

Okay. I give him a pass.

Then I ask can I give him my phone number because, typical of me, I cleaned out my purse and purged everything. So no HV card.

He ponders this. Hmm....no, don't think we can do that.

Really? They do it at my Hollywood Video all the time.

He checks by my last name. Nope. I'm a non-person at this location. Gotta fill out a new card.

:::sigh:::

I hate Blockbuster. But you just know I'm wishing I had chosen to go there instead. I know their systems are more streamlined.

Us boogee chicks like things that make our lives easy! Cause, you know, it's all about us.

Alright. Look it's hitting on 10:30, I've got to get back to work before someone misses me. So while he's tapping my info into the system for a new card, I go grab up what I came for. A copy of Kong and Capote (mmmmm...eclectic, no?)

So no copies of Capote on the wall. And they only had about...twelve copies to start.

I roll by and head towards Kong. By God there better be a copy or I'm going off in this joint.

As I pass the shelves, I notice there was a FULL wall of 50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Tryin'.

Whatev!

No interest in that. Who doesn't know 50's life story?

Pick up a copy of Vibe, The Source, Rolling Stone, or for that matter, Entertainment Weekly. It'll only cost you $3.99 and five minutes of your life. End of story.

I'm lucky. No, they're lucky. They have two copies of Kong on the shelves.

Mind you, two of only about 12 copies, again.

What the hell? I've heard good things about Kong - good adventure, long run-time but full of action. And hey, who doesn't like Jack Black's crazy ass?

I figured it would be one of those Guaranteed In Stock items. Capote too, since it was a Best Pic nom.

No.

At my Hollywood, it would have likely been the reverse problem. Mad plenty copies of Capote and Kong - probably only a handful of 50. A good thing when I'm looking for some movies. Not such a good thing when I'm looking for others.

Then again, every little burb boy is spitting 50's rhyme when I pass by them in the community. So, who knows. They may stock Get Rich knowing the burb kids' tastes.

Well, time is flying.

I stare at the two Kong's left and wonder for a second. At my Hollywood, the DVD cases lie in front of the Display Case. When the movies are all gone, all that's left is a case that says "Display Only."

So I see about ten of those and then these two clunky, ginormous plastic covers with the DVD in them.

Are these the previously viewed DVDs that they sell? Are they VHS versions?

I can't tell. The case is huge.

I look around, notice a woman who has about a dozen DVDs in her hand. They're all slipping away from her because the case is so bulky and hard to manage.

I'm guessing she's not purchasing all of those. So this must be how they package their rentals.

I snatch Kong up and head for the counter.

Sure enough, the hugantic cases are "safety" features to prevent anyone from stealing them.

Un-huh.

Look, there's nothing wrong with preventing theft. But ah...the Hollywood around my way has these safety clips that have to be taken off like a security tag put on clothing. You barely notice it, unless you try to open the case while browsing.

Rant: I'm glad Hollywood Video has decided to place a location in an area that's predominately black. They along with the Safeway, Quiznos, Ledos and CVS are providing jobs and convenience to the residents nearby.

There are nearly a dozen communities within walking distance of the plaza. Some of the neighborhoods are all black, several new communities are predominately white. A couple (few) are mixed.

But look, if you're going to trust the area enough to open a business there - operate it like you operate all the other ones.

Open on time. Have the latest technology at your stores and don't make customers feel like they're in some kind of minimum security lock-down by chaining the product to the shelves.

We are not talking inner city metro area. We're talking L.A. - Little Annapolis, population 36,000, Maryland's capital and home to the U.S. Naval Academy.

I live all of twelve minutes outside of Annapolis. But my experience today was world's apart from visits to my local video store.

Is the vibe in the store different or is it me?

Are the polices different because the franchise owner chose to operate the store differently? If so, that's odd. Most franchises have to follow policies and procedures to the letter.

Am I boogee to expect that a franchise run nearly identical from one location to another - especially when we're talking only minutes apart?

Am I trifling for having certain "high" expectations or are they because they don't meet them?

Friday, March 24, 2006

The ABC Game

So it's Friday and I'm off from work because it's Maryland Day. I shit you not, Maryland Day!

Here's what's fun about being off for Maryland Day:
* The schools are open. YAY!!!
* I'm off from work. A-YAY-YAYEE!
* Did I mention that schools are open while I'm off from work?

The great irony of Maryland Day? The state government isn't off, but the city government is. WTF?

Well, in honor of the great pseudo-southern state of Merry-land, I thought I'd shed some light onto this old Maryland gal by playing the ABC Game. Shout-out to Supa Sister for the concept.

Now, if I tag you, ya gotta play. So, game on!

THE A,B,C's OF MISS P.....

Accent – Fast-talking patois with a suburban lilt. Yeah, I don't know what that means either! People from Maryland don't have accents, just people from other states.

Bra size - Who makes up this ish?

Chore I hate - Any type of cleaning - dishes, vacuuming, mopping. P's advice: work hard and pay someone else to do it.

Dad's name - JTC

Essential make-up - Lip gloss of the Cover Girl variety

Favorite perfume - Origins Ginger Essence, but I've been spritzing that Baby Phat lately and love it

Gold or Silver? - Gold never goes out of style but I'm hinting around for a Platinum anniversary ring

Hometown - Naptown and I ain't talking about Indy

Insomnia - Yes. Well, I am a writer! Night-owling is our thing.

Job Title - Superwoman, you ain't know?

Kids - Two, Princess A and Princess Bea - keeping me young for another 18

Living Arrangement - Me, the King and the Princesses

Mom's Birthplace - Baldimore (say the locals)

Number of Sexual Partners - NEXT!

Overnight Hospital Stays - Birthing the Princesses, otherwise girl is healthy as an Ox...I think.

Phobia(s) - drowning and Criders (those nasty bugs that have legs like a spider but hop like a Cricket)

Quote - Fabulosity is knowing that you are fabulous and that you deserve to be here. That everything you are doing is what you are supposed to be doing at that moment. (Kimora Lee Simmons)

Religion - Spiritual (but raised Methodist by Big Momma)

Siblings - Nada, zero, zilch. Lonely only, baby.

Two I'm tagging – Meg and Bitter (BV, it's all on the anon tip)

Unnatural hair colors I've worn - Hair color? What hair color? Au naturale since September 2nd, 19dickety

Vegetable I refuse to eat - That would be pretty much anything except broccoli, cabbage, corn and collards

Worst habit – I have bad habits? Huh, no ones ever pointed them out.

X-rays I've had - Dental

Yummy foods I make - Mac and cheese, lasagna...I can burn!

Zodiac sign - Virgo. I have a shirt that says "Virgo: Shy but sly, Picky & Tricky. Always so Perfect everyone secretly hates you." It's a joke, people. Sort of!

Now, can someone please tell me how to make the font size larger on blogger?! I see no other codes or short cuts other than Ital and Bold. Help!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Before the Band Wagon Arrived...

Terrence Howard was a job-hopping, womanizing, green-eyed guitar playing bad boy in The Best Man.

Before Oscar came sniffing around to "validate" Howard, he played many a bit role and played them well. But none quite as snide and love-to-hate-him as Quinton Spivey, the movie's unapologetic bad boy.

Sitting up late - should be writing or sleeping - The Best Man comes on and is as delectable a movie tid bit as it was in '99. The story of six college friends coming together for the wedding of two could be labeled a Big Chill-like film. And it is, if you feel the need to categorize or have a film fit into a nice, neat box.

But what The Best Man really is, is a great look at Twentysomething Buppies reminiscing and reconciling their college selves with their adult realities.

Hey, if The Best Man gets a couple extra DVD rentals or buys because movie buffs have to collect every Terrence Howard film to certify themselves fans, fine with me. But for me, The Best Man ranks right up there with Spike Lee's School Daze.

They're two must-have movies. One showcases college life, the other a portrayal of the highs and lows of self-discovery in your 20's - both from a black perspective.

But ax all that "black" movie BS. Anyone who is or ever was twentysomething, on the road to marriage, grappling for the next rung on their career ladder or had a bunch of nosy ass friends who couldn't stay out their bizness will feel it.

Catch it "On Demand" now or run out and get that DVD.

Added bonus: Yummy Taye Diggs chest shots are easy on the eyes.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Too soft...Too ripe...Just right

As I peruse the produce aisle that has become my career, I'm waiting to thump the melon that will be the perfect match for my fickle, fickle taste.

Too Soft
I started out doing PR and development - fancy moniker for fundraising - for non-profits. At first, grant writing appealed to the creative writer in me. Yes, creative, I said.

If you've ever written a proposal outlining exactly what need your program fills, how it will be implemented and most of all what the budget will be for a program that doesn't yet exist outside of the grantwriter's mind - you get my meaning.

Grant writing is about the highest form of professional creative writing. Outside of the stats you need to prove there is a need for said program, all the rest is purely drawn from your imagination. How else could you explain how many employees the program takes to run, what those employees will do day-to-day and to the letter how much money you'll need for salaries on down to paper clips?

Alas, all the inane details stifled my creativity. Let's just say delving through submission guidelines, and federal regulations and instructions wasn't P-friendly. Did you know that when submitting a grant to the Feds they will actually throw your grant out of consideration if it's not stapled in the proper area (umm...left hand upper corner) or copied in quadruplicate? Facts easily missed in their fafillion page RFP (request for proposals).

On top of all that, I did all of the marketing for the organization's programs. You'd think educating young minds and helping people keep a roof over their heads would be a great soft and fuzzy for the news outlets. But er-ah, no.

In the end, non-prof PR challenged my patience but not my mind. Never enough money to get the job done - including my pay - and way too much brown-nosing for someone who is a celebrity in her own mind.

Most times I came off far too hard-nosed and reasonable. In other words I stuck out like Three Six Mafia at the Oscars. Too loud, too willing to shake up the status quo and only willing to conform but so much.

Next!

Too Ripe
I was just another ambitious cog in the machinery when I tried Agency PR and Corporate PR. The long hours, cut-throat politics and big-time budgets were right up my Type A alley...at first.

I thrived in both environments, short term. Really felt like I was rolling with the big dogs - stock options, expense accounts and all.

But any writing I did went through a core of team members and partners for approval and write-off. So creativity was an absolute no-no. And individuality was unheard of.

True, in order to get noticed, you had to fine tune your unique traits - stand out. The flip side? With someone always gunning to be CEO's pet, what was great about you for one project could be a detriment for the next.

Unable to change my Paulatude on a project-by-project basis and sick of churning out template releases and articles, the burn out settled in pretty fast. That and being on-call 24-hours a day - vacay, day off, weekends included.

I was once a Crackberry addict - uh Blackberry for those who've never had one. Think it took me about six months before I banished that baby to the back of my briefcase come 10 p.m. week days(had to stay in touch until our West Coast offices went off line) and all weekend.

It was that overly ripe scene of young, professional zealots that turned my head back to writing.

So here I am, feeling my way through the pickin's.

There's freelancing - the grapes of the writing world. Dozens of publications are there for me to pluck from the bunch.

The challenges:
* Contributing to enough pubs to add up to income
* Creating the perfect pitch to grab an eddy's attention.
* The hustle! Pitch development is tiresome to say the least. It really saps your creative energy.

What's yummy about freelancing:

* Why, the variety of course. Someone with professional ADD like me, thrives on being able to switch gears on a whim. Music reviews one day, profiles the next.
* Dealing with eddy's until the article is done beats working with a Supervisor eight hours a day any time.

Or, I could always start anew and try to get a full-time gig with a newspaper or magazine. This would probably be a solid mix of my soft and ripe experiences in PR. But it would also be like eating bananas. I love them but don't want to eat 'em every day.

Of course there's writing novels full-time. It's the coveted fruit that's sweet and supple when picked at just the right time. Not quite a delicacy but something that's only really good one time a year. Ummm like cantaloupe.

Obviously, this is the fruit I'm aiming to throw in my cart but can't afford, right now. Have you priced loupe these days?

Challenges:
* Without a six-figure deal, this is a special occasion fruit. Or in my case, something I'll have to work my way toward.
*I'll still have to divide my time between writing, marketing and promoting (not such a bad thing - so this is more like a yummy challenge).

Yummy factors:
* No boss, just an editor who takes great pains and satisfaction in pulling your best work out of you.
* There's that whole going to work in my pajamas thing.

In the end, I'll probably pass on the bananas, pick at a couple grapes and work on saving enough money to buy me the perfect in-season, cantaloupe.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

PoP Corn: Blow out

Excuse me while I...AAAAGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Five Reality "stars" I'd like to throw darts at while blindfolded:

Trishelle - Real World Pro - and I do mean pro as in trick.

Omarosa - I'm sooo over her. She lost her "professional" edge sometime between her breakdown in the Apprentice boardroom and Bravo's Battle of the Reality TV stars.

New York - Congrats NY, you made the list after being on only ONE RTV show.

Puck - umm...ew

Jonathan Anton - Blow Out's meglomaniacal star/stylist to the stars.

Blow Out is one of those shows that's like eating too much chocolate. You know eating too much is going to make you sick. But dammit you'll gorge until you hit that line.

I can't believe I've watched every season of BLOW OUT. But God forgive me, I have.

It's not one of my, gotta watch shows. But thanks to Bravo and their repeats of repeats of repeats, I'm bound not only to catch each episode, but most likely the marathon so I can watch them all in one fell, sickening swoop.

Jonathan Anton is the most metrosexual male on reality TV - Ryan Seacrest notwithstanding. He's pompous, self-absorbed, and irritating. He's straight but with that stereotypical bitchiness we've come to identify with Hollywood's version of a gay man or a too-ambitious woman.

Oh, yeah, dude is right out of central casting: Straight Male Stylist With Gay Tendencies.

When Jonathan went to shop in the Personality store he went down the Bitch aisle twice. He wears his emotions on his sleeve and is not afraid to go straight lunatic when things go wrong.

Witness him blow his stack every other show, leave the room, come back to apologize and then cry when everything turns out right. Oh and by the way, when he apologizes it's always with a hint of whiney-ass, woe-is-meism.

God help him, he has an infant baby this season.

Maybe I missed it. I didn't know he was dating. Now he's married with a kid. Scary!

Dad and baby will go through their terrible twos together. Only baby will grow out of it. Jonathan on the other hand...

And ugh, if I have to hear him cry in his therapy session about how thinly he's stretched, how people keep "asking" things of him - I swear I'm gonna write Bravo and threaten to cut down how much I watch.

Heh, heh.

He's stretched thin because he has two salons to manage, celeb heads to do, a hair care line and an ego the size of California to carry around.

And maybe it's me, but I never see anything so fab about his do's. Especially for what he charges.

He's hella condescending to most of his staff. That's what made it so fun to watch him and the other straight stylist constantly buck antlers on Season One. Jonathan clearly felt threatened.

I mean, come on, you can't have TWO straight stylists. The laws of stereotyping won't allow it.

Jonathan pitched a hissy when the guy lifted his shirt to compare his abs to another customers one day, all in fun - Dude, that's so unprofessional!

Jonathan's words not mine.

So he fired him and threw his stylist tools...materials, whatever in the alley. Because his bitchiness wouldn't allow him to be professional enough to store the guys stuff in the back for like 48 hours.

Oooh and he's sneaky!

Most people on reality tv are posers. They're totally overdoing it so the camera will shine upon them. Not Jonathan. You get the impression that he really is an asshole.

What irks me most about him is how he wants his way everytime, will NOT allow anyone to manipulate him or tell him how to do anything - from marketing to fashion design, neither of which are his forte. But he has no problem doing it to other people.

Say like, being called in to do the hair for a photo shoot for a line of clothing. He takes it upon himself to weave the girls down to their butts, then strip them close to butt-naked so that the hair not the clothes would be the focal point.

Yeah, yeah, the designer did end up liking the photos in the end. But come on! Who does that?!

That's like the Editor of CosmoGirl asking me to write an article on the whole Bow Wow and Ciara hook-up and me talking to Bow Wow about what it's like to work with Jermaine Dupri throughout the entire article.

Sure, Jermaine Dupri is one of the hottest producer out there and has been for a minute. There's the little matter of Mariah Cary's comeback (all him, in my opinion), the fact that he's dating Janet and continues to not only find talent but keep that talent working (umm, hello, resurrecting Da Brat from Surreal Life obscurity for the Dem Franchise Boyz remix.)

So yeah, there's more meat to that story than the strange Bow Wow/Ciara thing. But err...when an eddy asks for a story you deliver.

'Kay, my life ain't exactly fodder for reality TV. But ya feeling my point, right?

Dude undermines anyone else's opinion and vision.

So, how come I watch?

It's for the little moments. Like when he styled former American Idol contestant Diana DiGarmo's hair and right in the middle someone told him he had to get out because they needed her in wardrobe. So he had to trail behind her to get the job done.

Take that Mousse Boy!

It brought him down a peg and totally pissed him off. Because for all the marveling he does about his current circumstances - hanging out at Sundance, doing the heads of this celeb or that, giving hair tips on Good Morning America - the fact is, he's still the hired help.

Expensive help, yeah. But still, someone called in to pretty up the true stars of the show.

Friday, March 17, 2006

When you're hot you're....

A bestseller!

Congrats to Varian Johnson, fellow author and cyber bud. His debut novel, RED POLKA DOT IN A WORLD FULL OF PLAID, made the Essence Best-seller list.

What's really cool is RED POLKA DOT is a YA book by content but Adult fiction by definition of Varian's publisher. I don't think Essence considers YA for it's best selling books. So that's all the more rewarding for Varian...who right about now is pondering whether to stay on the adult tip permanently.

Don't leave us Varian. YA needs the male perspective and voice!!

Bestseller list criteria varies from outlet to outlet. There's no hard and fast rule for how many books equals a bestseller. It just depends on whose list you make.

It doens't matter. It means your books are selling well by a reputable sources' standards. Whether that's 5,000 or 50,000, people are digging your work. And that's always cool!

Mad shout-out to Varian, doing his thing - Mr. Best Selling Author. Don't forget to add that to all your press stuff now!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

My Creative Well Drieth Up

My head hurts.

No, my brain hurts.

I've officially started the pitch game again, querying story ideas to magazine editors.

I like freelancing. I hate the freelance hustle. It is so tiring.

I pitched an editor who I used to write for a few years ago. Pitched her four ideas. She liked one and needed the article by Friday - so I churned it out.

Deadlines are my thing. You give me one and I'll meet it...most likely beat it.

It's been two years since I've been on the freelance merry-go-round. How did I forget how incredibly exhausting it is to force my brain to create great ideas? Spit them out on the keyboard like magic.

How did I let it slip my mind that my cranium literally hurts after pitch brainstorms?

When I was freelancing exclusively, I'd end the day spent. But at least I had all day to generate pitches. Now, I'll have to fit them into my full-time gig, time with the fam and oh, and there's the little matter of my novels.

I'm sure it will all come together. Though, right now my brain feels like mush. And if you ask me anything harder than my name, I may begin babbling incoherently.

Maybe that's what I'm doing now...babbling...incoherently.

Alright, stick a fork in me!

An Ex-Real Worlder Gets Real

Okay, in all fairness to Kevin Powell, he is far more than an ex-member of the Real World. But the headline: Kevin Powell Runs for Congress would have an elicited a steady stream of, "who?"

It's been nearly 15 years since Kevin Powell was the "angry" black guy on the original Real World. He was the one who got up in country-bumpkin Julie's face, resulting in her being "afraid" of him.

That was when the Real World was way more sociological infotainment then reality tv train wreck.

Since then, Kevin has gone on to become a tireless activist, author of six books and contributor to pubs like Newsweek, Essence and Vibe. One of the few Real Worlders with credentials in the real world!

Now Kevin has decided to take his advocacy all the way to DC by running for a seat in the United States Congress in the 10th Congressional District in Brooklyn, New York.

If you have no idea who Kevin Powell is, have never read any of his insightful and often poignant essays/articles, never saw the passion in his gut as a young, reality tv pioneer - treat yourself.

He's seeking donations for his campaign. Pols gotta raise money, ya know?

I'm not a very political animal. But I've followed Kevin's career and am in awe of his drive, ambition and success. As a fellow writer, I applaud the way he's used the written word to speak out against injustice. And as a member of the MTV generation, I'm proud that he stands as a symbol of the power of that medium to propel a message (even if it's far and few between of late).

If you live in the Big Apple, pass the word. Consider supporting an established writer about to spread his wings in the political arena.

Kevin, good luck brah and much success on the road to Capitol Hill!

Monday, March 13, 2006

PoP Corn

Do you know the name of Queen Latifah's successful sitcom and the name of the mag she ran, on the show, which also is the name of one of her actual company's?

I do.

Do you know which FRIENDS star had a very short-lived sitcom spun-off from Married With Children?

I do.

Do you remember the first video MTV played when it launched in 1981? And what flavor of music they played, almost exclusively until August 1988?

I do, because pop culture is my obsessh!

One day I will figure out how to use my bottomless pit of pop culti knowledge outside of being my family's reigning champion of Trivial Pursuit Pop Culture.

Until then, I'm forced to blather my views on the endless availability of factoid fodder and inane popular music, film and television trends - what I like to call PoP Corn - into the blogosphere.

The biggest kernal, last night's Flavor of Lovefinale. OMG!

First, let me say I resisted the temptation to watch the show until maybe three episodes ago. But the drama sucked me in.

Side note: Flav and I had an ep back in 1991, when Public Enemy came down to my alma mater to perform. Ummm...it was NOT a flavor of love encounter!!!

Flav cool and all, but...no!

After the concert, Flav, Chuck D, me, my girl Nise and a few others hung out and had breakfast at the Waffle House.

The way he comes across on television is pretty much him - hyper energy, kooky but by no means un-intelligent.

So, what the heck? I figured I'd throw him some support and watch the show.

Not sorry I missed the first 12 episodes. The last few were all I needed to know that someone is going to hell for the whole reality TV spiral into TMI-TMTA and the loss of any dignity, dating show participants thought they had.

I'm telling you - you've got to catch a re-run or two of this show. Come, to watch Pumpkin spit in New York's face, almost into her mouth - I shit you not. But stay to watch the term Lucky SOB enacted.

The love Flav gets from these women is something to behold.

What won't people do in front of the cameras? Really, what?

Hoopz, the final "winner" of the show kept saying she really felt Flav. She was also depicted as a really competitive person.

Doesn't take Dionne's Psychic Friends Network to see this was more about her desire to win than a desire to be Flavor Flav's long-time love.

Sorry, Hoopz, you didn't come off terribly sincere to me.

Still, I was glad she won. New York had me hating her within seconds of watching.

I can only imagine how it felt to be a contestant alongside her.

Hey, is that wrong? To "hate" a reality tv participant?

Back in the day, it was okay to despise television villans. 'Cause ya know, they were actors!

But now that they're real people...it feels kind of icky saying I hate this chick. I only know of her what the producers cut and pasted together to make for a sensationalized Dating Game.

Yet, this B was off the hook everytime the camera shone her way. I mean the theatrics, the mad eye-rolling, hair flipping, name calling, whiney-voiced theatrics!

By going on these shows and baring themselves...heaving themselves into the pop culture spotlight, aren't we allowed to have an opinion about the persona they reflect?

Hmmm...

Yeah, I've convinced myself. It's cool to hate her.

And the producers are loving my hate. Because, I will be there next week to watch the reunion show! Heh, heh!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Deal Envy

Envy - to be jealous of, resent, desire, covet.

Envy is depicted as an ugly little green-eyed troll sitting on your shoulder whispering sour nothings in your ear.

But how come envy is such a bad thing?

I could be on my own on this one - wouldn't be the first time - but I think envy has gotten a bad rep. A well-earned one thanks to trifling-ass people who allow their longing to spiral into bitterness or worse robbery and homicide.

No doubt envy was along for the ride recently on the DC Metro within a rash of incidents where riders were getting their iPods stolen - broad daylight and all. The transit authority had to issue leaflets warning people to be aware of their surroundings to avoid getting jacked for their tunes.

Jealousy and resentment are pretty harsh negatives.

But what's wrong with desiring or longing for something?

Desire is a strong motivator, lazy, sociopaths aside.

If it weren't for my desire, I would have never returned to writing.

My longing to spend the last half of my career self-employed has been a strong force behind me for three years. And it's taken three years for it to yield significant gain.

I'm not a number cruncher. But if I added the number of hours I've put into writing, revising, talking about, researching, querying and more revising of my novel - not to mention any money sunk into fortifying my home office and establishing a writing business - I'm fairly certain my book advance would amount to some obscenely insufficient hourly rate.

Thank God I'm not a number cruncher! I don't even want to know the real profit and loss this book equals.

My point is, I envy people who do what they love for a living and my desire to do the same has led me down the writer's path.

My first two years, I envied most of the YA writers on the shelves of Barnes & Nobles. Primarily the ones who I felt wrote similar fiction. That envy kept me writing. The only way I was ever going to join those writers was to finish and refine my own work.

No jacking involved.

Recently, a writing peer of mine sold her work for a handsome sum.

Do you like that vague reference? Handsome?

Handsome, in this case, means a writer can pursue the craft without holding a day job.

That's not just handsome it's downright gorgeous. And it's every writer's dream. Even those of us who actually like our full-time gig.

So, yuh, I'm feeling a bit of deal envy, today.

But I don't resent that writer's deal.

And jealousy? Not a lick.

I'm envious like, damn I need to sit my ass at the PC and start my next project, envy.

Like, I better make sure I'm doing my thing when it comes to shoring up my marketing plan, envy.

And like, that could be me one day if I keep at it, envy.

Envy motivates me.

And true, if you're a cold-hearted beast who finds it easier to take than work for yours, then yeah, motivation juiced by envy can get nasty. But, I'm naieve enough to think those are the minority.

I doubt I'm the only writer feeling a little more fire in my loins about my next career move since one of our peers struck the Holy Grail of deals.

It's not green-eyed envy, maybe just a little teal.

BTW, mad shout-out to Writer X and her handsome deal!! You know who you are.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

What I won't miss about... No. 1

I have a really active imagination. That's why I became a writer.

Not slaying dragons and saving princesses-active. But, always fantasizing about what I'd like my world to be like-active.

Some of my thoughts are straight fantasy.

Like, when New Edition was the shiggity, I always fantasized about being B-Brown's girl.

Don't hate! Yes, I loved me some Bobby Brown, back in the day.

I was thirteen and his bad boy antics were primarily humping the stage and overshadowing his bandmates by extending his Mr. Telephone Man solo to like twenty minuts.

Other thoughts of mine are more mundane. Not so much dreams as they are silent goals that I will into existence by thinking over and over, what it will be like when I reach them.

Freelancing and writing features on music artists was one. Did that as Entertainment Editor of Liquidsoulradio.com for about two years.

Writing a book, is one. Check!

Getting the book published is another. Checking on it, now!

My latest silent rumination? Life when I can turn in my resig letter.

Ahhh....no more 9-to-5.

Lovely thought.

Some of my writing colleagues, who are full-time authors, say they miss the comraderie of a full-time job. The water cooler talk, three-martini lunches and birthday, anniversary, retirement, Admin Assistant day, celebrations.

Yeah, well, I'm a social person. I looovvvveee people.

But I hate being told what to do. Following a strict code of arriving at XX time and leaving at blah-blah time, is also on the top of my un-fave list. And as much as I enjoy shooting the bo-bo with co-workers, I'm an only-child. Being a solitary creature is something I crave.

Just ask my family.

I'll stay up late-night (supposedly writing) just to get some Me time. I NEED Me time. I am a complete loon without it!

The whole work-social circle is something I can take or leave.

So, in honor of my latest obsession, err...goal, I'll be visiting some of the things I won't miss about working in an office.

First thing? Staff meeetings!

When I worked at a PR agency, staff meetings were kind of cool. The office was contempo and hip. We'd sit out in our common area on big, comfy couches sipping lattes and eating Krispy Kreme.

I swear to you, this is exactly what it was like.

It was less a staff meeting than a sharing of information and brainstorming of new ways to keep our clients happy.

Our clients were pretty demanding. Staff meetings were one way to commiserate. You left feeling you weren't alone.

Somehow the burden of meeting with or talking to the client, later that day, felt lighter.

But now?

Not so much.

I won't go into gory details about why I abhor staff meetings.

But I'll invite you inside my head, so you'll understand why the general definition of a traditional staff meeting goes against my very being.

See, I'm a creative creature. At my best when my mind can wander.

Visualize, if you will, me frolicking in a meadow - then spreading out a blanket and tossing my head to the skies so the sun's rays warm my face.

Now and then I'll roll over and pluck at a few wildflowers nearby before returning to my private thoughts.

That is what working alone in my home-office is like.

When you're on a "team," frolicking is out of the question and staff meetings are part of the gear.

I mean, what team doesn't gather to talk strategy and share best practices?

Now, don't get it twisted. It's not being on a team, I dislike.

It's the bureaucracy of meeting so everyone can drone on about what they're doing, that I reject. The inane practice of talking at one another for a minimum of an hour. The cheeky strategy that assumes just because we're in the same room together, talking, we're being productive.

And rarely are you discussing anything a detailed email wouldn't cover.

Nope, I won't miss it. And I won't miss being a part of an office community, either.

No offense to my current colleagues. But they know how I am!

I'm the chick who you can have an entire conversation over my head and I won't have heard a word because I'm honed in on the project at hand. Myopic doesn't begin to cover how I am when I'm trying to get something done.

And save your, "Oh you'll miss something. Just wait."

I freelanced from Septemer '02 to September '03. Never once missed the nattering banter of colleagues, the brain-gnawing fluorescent lighting, the traffic of people stopping by my desk asking for my input or for some report. Not once!

I email enough people to feel like I'm in the middle of a conversation, constantly. My office has two windows, so all of my lighting is natural. And the house is empty, freeing me up from interruptions.

I'm looking forward to returning to my solitary writing world where the only hustle is a fury of pitches to mags, novel revs to my eddy and feature deadlines. Interrupted only by a stream of emails inviting me to speak or promote my books.

To satisfy the social side of me, I'll turn to coaching and my very full circle of family and friends.

To satisfy professional networking - discussion boards, writing organizations, conferences and maybe joining my local Chamber.

I won't be hurting for profesional interaction.

But, no surprise, it will be done the way I like doing most things - on my terms.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Breaching The Secret Society of Men

Today, I went where few women dare to tread.

With my heart in my throat and my neck tense, I crossed the line into a world that we're not totally banned from but where our presence is about as odd as a lion lying down with a lamb. Lying down without taking a little nibble on that gorgeous chop of a hind leg.

Ladies, today I went and got my hair done by ::gulp:: a barber!

After years, seven to be exact, of letting stylists butcher my hair because they really have zero clue what to do with my short, curly natural, I held my breath and ran into a barber shop and let a man have his way with my head.

Hmm...not like it's the first time I let a man have a way with my head. I was, after all, a teenager at one point in my life. So, you know...

But I let him get near me with clippers!

And that is akin to us girls play-fighting with a guy and grazing his nether regions with our foot. Like, you're only playing and you didn't even mean for your foot to go haywire AND the foot doesn't actually connect with anything. But still they jump back faster than if they were barefoot on a hot beach.

It was an odd experience. I was trusting a stranger to buzz cut my curly locks. And the second I walked in it was obvious I had stepped into a world that was virtually untouched by the female species.

I'm not saying I was the first.

I went to this barber on my husband's recommendation. He recommended it because of the number of women that came through the door during one of his visits.

Yet it still felt like I had burst into the mens' restroom. I caught them completely off-guard with their pants down.

They immediately lowered their voices, ceasing the lively banter that, at first, I heard before I opened the door.

There were three customers and four barbers. Everyone except one gave me this slit-eyed, scrunched-face, Is she lost? look.

The one who didn't was the barber who I contacted yesterday to give a heads up that I was interested in coming in.

I gave him a heads up more for myself than for him. I called ahead, one, because that's what we do at salons. You don't just flit in expecting to have your locks coifed, on a whim.

Two, what do I know about barber hours and appointments and such?

Nothing. So I called to make sure he'd be there.

As I sat and waited my turn, I flipped through a magazine and mostly got lost in it. I was pleased that there was a diverse offering of 'zines to read and not just Maxim and Playboy.

Sorry, Bad P is seeking assistance for her tendency to male bash, I swear!

So I flipped through my Black Enterprise mag and let the low-key convo float above me. I couldn't help but think that if I weren't there it would have been much more scandalous.

The words of Cedric the Entertainer as Eddie in the movie BARBERSHOP, rang in my ears, "If we can't talk straight in the barbershop where can we talk straight?"

I was definitely hindering them from talking straight.

At one point one of them dropped the f-bomb and you could almost hear him suck in air as he gave me a sheepish, "Aw damn, excuse me, Miss" glance.

Which is actually kind of cool in a chivalrous sort of way.

But I work around mechanics and bus drivers - so my ears aren't quite that delicate. And those who know me, know that I can err...well, as Brittany Spears said, I'm not that inn-o-cent!

When I finally sat in the chair I rambled a little bit about what I wanted and how I ended up there.

Yeah, like he cared.

But I was nervous!

Thankfully, he nodded and went to work allowing a peaceful silence to fall between us.

Though the conversation never returned to the level it had been when I first stepped in, the ice did begin to thaw and the low-talking amongst the brethren increased.

Soon the barber was dropping a few convo-bits directed at me. Like commenting on my hair, "You have really good hair." And then we both shared a good laugh when Sportscenter flashed highlights of Barry Bonds in drag.

When he was done twenty minutes later, I was looking quite glam, I must say.

The best hair cut I've had in seven years.

Afterwards, I ran right to the one man who knows I am indeed an odd creature, but loves me all the same, my hubby.

I had to get his confirmation that it was a good hair cut. And he agreed that Moon had "hooked me up."

Which is, by the way, the best compliment you can get on a haircut.

Even though the visit was weird and tense, it was also a naughty thrill to be the lone damsel amongst all the young studs.

So that thought of letting my hair grow out? Yeah, that idea is officially dead.
I've found me a stylist.

Watch out fellas, 'cause I'll be back!