Lyrics To Go

Last week while I was walking home, “Frontin'” came on my playlist, reminding me of two things:

  1. Pharrell has been awesome and insanely hot for a very. long. time. AND
  2. There are certain lyrics that just stick with you, bringing home the brilliance of a song

I love making lists, but haven’t made one in a while, and since I can’t get a certain verse out of my head, I’m thinking this is the perfect time to put together a list of some of my favorite lyrics, non?

Before we start, let me just say to all you music heads: don’t go bananas on me because I didn’t include the greatest Wu-Tang rhyme of all time or the best Stones lyric. Like I said above, these are some of my favorites, not all of them.

And if you think I missed a few – which I am certain I did, in fact I’ve already got some I would like to add, but I’m limiting myself to 10, so I’m going to chill – add them in the comments. I’d love to see your list and compare notes.

So without further ado, let’s do this, bitches.


10 FIERCE LYRICS

1. Every time your name was brought up, I would act all nonchalant in front of an audience, like you was just another shorty I put the naughty on, but uh, truth be told you threw me for a loop, this Hov, I’m too old to be frontin’ when I’m feeling Denzel and acting like you ain’t appealing when you are, stunting like you ain’t my only girl when you are, I’m ready to stop when you are (Jay-Z, Frontin’)

2. My practice extending across the atlas, I begat this, flippin’ in the ghetto on a dirty mattress, you can’t match this rapper / actress, more powerful than two Cleopatras, bomb graffiti on the tomb of Nefertiti, MCs ain’t ready to take it to the Serengeti, my rhymes is heavy like the mind of Sister Betty, L. Boogie spars with stars and constellations, then came down for a little conversation, adjacent to the king, fear no human being, roll with cherubims to Nassau Coliseum, now hear this mixture, where hip hop meets scripture, develop a negative into a positive picture (Lauryn Hill, Everything Is Everything)

3. There I am in my younger days, star gazing, painting picture perfect maps, of how my life and love would be, not counting the unmarked paths of misdirection, my compass, faith in love’s perfection, I missed ten million miles of road I should have seen. (Indigo Girls, Love’s Recovery)

4. Wipe your feet really good on the rhythm rug, if you feel the urge to freak, do the jitterbug, come and spread your arms if you really need a hug (Tribe Called Quest, Can I Kick It?)

5. Cause I’m cooler than a polar bear’s toenails, oh hell yeah (OutKast, ATLiens)

6. Na Na, y’all can’t touch her, my sex drive all night like a trucker (Foxy Brown, I’ll Be)

7. Woke up the next morning, Nikki wasn’t there, I looked all over and all I found was a phone number on the stairs, it said thank you for a funky time, call me up whenever you want to grind (Prince, Darling Nikki)

8. Pretty looking road, try to hold the rising floods that fill my skin, don’t ask me why I’ll keep my promise, melt the ice, and you wanted to dance so I asked you to dance, but fear is in your soul, some people call it a one night stand, but we can call it paradise (Duran Duran, Save A Prayer)

9. Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the funk will make me freak, if I should die before I waked, allow me Lord to rock out naked (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sir Psycho Sexy)

10. Coke on her black skin made a stripe like a zebra, I call that jungle fever, you will not control the threesome, just roll the weed up until I get me some, we formed a new religion, no sins as long as there’s permission, and deception is the only felony, so never fuck nobody wit’out tellin’ me, sunglasses and Advil, last night was mad real, sun comin’ up, 5 a.m., I wonder if they got cabs still (Kanye West, No Church in the Wild)

Vote to Make THE GIRL September’s Goodreads Group Book of the Month selection

If at first you don’t succeed, 

Try, try again


 

So that’s me and this whole Book of the Month thing. I didn’t win in July, so I’m giving it another shot for September.

THE GIRL made it through the Goodreads group Shut Up & Read‘s nomination process for its September Book of the Month selection by garnering more than two votes (which is not as easy as it sounds) (and thanks to Denise and Peter for nominating it).

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So Shut Up & Read just opened its polls this morning to start voting for the BOTM selection and THE GIRL opened in 2nd place with 12 votes. Not terrible if you don’t pay attention to the book in 1st place and the fact that it is kicking THE GIRL’s ass with 41 votes.

Do the math.

I’ve gotta make up some serious ground to win this thing.

Here’s the deal – to vote, you must be a member of the Shut Up & Read group, which is super easy. Just click here and then click to join the group. You can’t ask for a simpler sign-up process.

ShutUp&Read

Once you’re a member of the group, then click here to vote. If you’re already a member of Shut Up & Read, then just click here and vote.

But vote, I say. And then please pass this post along to your friends and ask them to vote as well. It’s the only way for me to win.

And I’ll love you forever.

(And do you really need any other reason than that to vote? Puh-leez.)

The Coco Butta Kids – FREE For 2 Days – #WeNeedDiverseBooks

In honor of Throwback Thursday and my crew of savvy youngsters at Xavier High, The Coco Butta Kids are going to be FREE for download to your Kindle for the next two days.

Starting tomorrow, August 21st through August 22nd, you can download copies of Crossing Paths and Tough Times to your Kindle, your Kindle App on your cell phone (iPhones included) or your Kindle reader for your computer (Macs included). So if you have any middle readers in your life, snag some copies for them and enjoy the adventure. As my marketing pencils from back in the day used to say, everybody needs a little Butta in their lives.

To celebrate these freebies, check out my post from a few months back about Ayesha and the crew:


 

It feels like another lifetime now, but in the late 90s, Henry and I had this brilliant idea to move to Atlanta, Georgia. He went to college down there at Morehouse and I’m from Snellville (which, I know, I know, is not Atlanta, but it’s close enough), so we thought “hell, why not? Let’s do this.”

Henry got a job before we left New York (of course he did) with a hot litigation boutique down there, immediately jumping into a matter involving mischievous NBA players, and I kind of tried to find my way. At the time, there was no reciprocity between New York and Georgia, which meant I had a bar exam and a job search looming over my head.

So what did I do?

I started writing my first novel.

Of course I did.

Interview for jobs, study for the bar or write a novel – which would you pick?

We had a loft downtown, but only one car, so I would drop Henry off every morning for work and then come home and claim to be furthering my legal career when, in fact, I was embarking upon my writing career.

And it was fabulous.

I remember the thrill of writing my first few chapters, sending it to my girlfriend, Priya, she loved it and encouraged me to keep going, saying it was exactly what she wished existed when we were younger.

So what was I writing, say you.

It was really very simple – I wanted to create a series for young adults of color similar to those Sweet Valley High books that were around when we were growing up, but with kids of color as the lead protagonists instead of in the usual, stereotypical roles of the sidekick or irrelevant, forgettable minor character. At the time, there was really nothing of the sort out there; urban lit was emerging, but that’s not what I was trying to write. I wanted to turn a stereotype on its head, not reinforce it.

And so was born The Coco Butta Kids: Ayesha Bala, her best friend Kenya Solomon, twins Malik and Simone Travis, uber-athlete Walt Haley, and charming misfit Dhru Thomas. They were my crew and I loved them.

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I published two books in the series, Crossing Paths and Tough Times and had begun working on the third when I kind of gave up on the enterprise (a long story for another time), put my writing dreams on hold for a bit, did some lawyering, did a lot of partying, had a kid and began creating The Sanctum Trilogy.

But people often ask me about those books, especially those who knew me at the time and saw the way the kids I interacted with reacted to my crew. It was quite special.

I remember one night going up to do a reading at the 92nd Street YMCA with some of the kids in the after-school program. As I was setting up, the director let me know that I shouldn’t be too upset if the kids don’t really get into it, that no matter what, she wanted me to know how thankful she was for me coming up to talk to them. So I started with some chit chat about myself and my story about creating the series, let them ask me some questions, and then took a chance and I asked them if they wanted to do a reading. Let me tell you, every hand in that room went up so fast, they were so eager to get a chance to read aloud. It was unreal being surrounded by all that positive, excited energy, the kids letting me know how happy they were to read about kids that looked like them, and all of us wondering aloud why there weren’t more Coco Butta Kids on bookstore and library shelves. (More than 10 years later, we still need diverse books, hence the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement)

When I was packing up to leave that night, the director came up to me, visibly emotional, and thanked me, saying that almost all of the kids in that room had trouble reading and they most definitely never read aloud. She had never seen anything like the way they responded to me and those books.

It was awesome.

I had more experiences like that, with fantastic kids in Maryland and Georgia and Florida and New York, but I also had some really crappy experiences with adults in those same places (selling books is a bitch, people) and in the long run, I think I just got tired of the whole grind.

Anyway, I still think the Coco Butta Kids have a role to play, which is why a few years ago I re-released the series as an eBook under the name Ayesha’s Teenage Survival Files. I admit, I’ve done little to nothing to promote it, nor have I rewritten it or revisited its content in any way, except to design a new cover, which I think should probably be re-designed, but I don’t have the time right now.

But I’m going to – I have every intention of going back to my original crew of Xavier High School kids and adding to their story. They deserve it. But for now, it will have to suffice to offer the two books in the series for free every so often and hopefully pull in a few new fans each time.

So that’s exactly what’s happening next week. From Monday, June 23rd through Friday, June 27th, both Crossing Paths and Tough Times are available through Amazon for free download.

I hope you’ll check out my Coco Butta Kids, add them to your TBR pile or pass them along to a middle grade reader in your life. I think you’ll love Ayesha and the crew.

HOLLA.

Random Thoughts Part IV

1. I wrote my blog post on our fish and how I had become rather notorious for killing all of them until my friend, Michael, swept in and pretty much saved them from surefire death. Well, two things I must confess: one, soon after posting that article, our asshole fish, Chris Paul, took it upon himself to eat D Wade’s tail. Once he accomplished that feat of cannibalism, he proceeded to push D Wade around the tank like some crazed psycho. I pulled D Wade out of there and let him die in peace; and two, we now have a ten gallon tank with quite a few fish. I don’t even know how this happened. Actually, I do, but I had nothing to do with it. The Kid and The Husband took it upon themselves to purchase it and the extra fish.

2. Have you seen this shot of JLo? Hot damn – and I’m not even a JLo fan, but WOW. And I’m not talking about the obvious, that thing you think I’m talking about but I swear I’m not, although now that I glimpse down at it, yeah, it’s kind of perfect. And I know it’s photoshopped, but whatever. Even with photoshop, I don’t have an ass like that. But I digress. What I’m really talking about is everything else in this picture: her eyes, that stare, the freaking perfect ponytail (god, that thing is gorgeous), her shoulder, her back. Girlfriend is 45. I swear she’s aging backwards. I want some of whatever she’s having because she looks divine.

JLoBooty

3. My kids are awesome and hilarious. Don’t even think yours are funnier because I’m pretty certain they are not.

MyKids

4. I have a fish named Django. Needless to say, he is all kinds of awesome.

5. Doesn’t this look like Dev? She’s gorgeous and lives in my fish tank. [That’s the asshole cannibal fish, Chris Paul. He’s pretty, too, but he’s a total dick.]

Dev.FishTank

6. Here’s my jam of the last two weeks – do not tell The Husband I’ve been enjoying a little R&B. I’ll never hear the end of it.

7. My friend, Dave Bruno, and I play Words with Friends all the time. He is the only person I play it with and for the record, he kicks my ass 98% of the time. But it’s the only place I catch him, so I continue to endure his weekly beatings. And trust when I say, they are epic.

8. In case you didn’t know, Reese Witherspoon has wacky hand moves, not quite jazz hands, but then again, maybe

Dancing, Dancing, Dancing, she’s a dancing machine

9. The Husband has started using the word “bitches” in the same fashion I do. And I know imitation is the highest form of flattery and all that shit, but uh-uh. I’m going to have to tell him that word, when used in said fashion, is all mine. Even The Stepdaughter credits me when she uses it. He’s going to have to stop it. Now.

And on that note, there is only one thing left to say:

HOLLA, BITCHES.

Book III – A Work In Progress

I was scrolling through my blog this morning and realized that it’s been quite a while since I’ve said much of anything about Book III.

I’ve been blogging about other people’s work, birthday parties, and life in general so much that I just kind of forgot about mentioning that little thing called THE SANCTUM TRILOGY!

2 books together

So what’s the scoop? The latest dish?

Hmmm.

Well, I can say that Book III is definitely the hardest of the three to write and I think that’s for a few reasons:

  1. I’m sad to say goodbye to Dev, Wyatt, and the gang
  2. I’m overwhelmed by everything I need to accomplish in this book – sometimes I sit back and ask myself how the fuck long is this sucker going to be?!!
  3. I’m avoiding doing bad things to characters I love – and that’s all I’m going to say about that

Here are a few other things I can say about Book III:

  1. There are some new characters, but that is to be expected as the Magical world gears up for an epic war
  2. I’ve got a few surprises, one that was planned from the very beginning, another that came to me in an interview I did for The Girl
  3. Sex is always fun to write so there’s plenty of it thrown around
  4. There will be more Coco
  5. I know how the book, and in essence the trilogy, ends but I’m not sure about the ending for certain characters. I’m going to see where the writing takes me and hope everyone lives…

 

2 books together

[I’m just going to add this little link to the trilogy in case you feel like hopping over to Amazon and scoring yourself some copies of The Girl and The Boy.]


And now, since I’m feeling nice, and am happy you stopped by to see what I’m up to, I’ll give you a Book III snippet:

Footsteps echoed in the hallway above, heavy-sounding and masculine; not the feminine tip tap of a high-heeled shoe, but the purposeful march of a boot. He listened until they faded away in the direction of the kitchen, someone seeking a late-night bite. Assured he would not be bothered by another, he continued on his way, the dank darkness never once giving him pause, so familiar was the route.

Every night he came down here, methodically checking the cells and their captives. Tonight he glimpsed a dying nymph, two incredibly angry and awfully strong-willed trolls and another twenty or so fae, their nameless faces becoming a big, fae blur in his mind. He made a mental note to kill the whole lot of them in the morning, for he had tired of their antics and pleas.

It would be nice to clean house and start anew.

A sentiment that perfectly complimented his current situation. A dead child and a newly-returned wife defined “starting anew” like nothing else. It was as if he was being given a second shot at his life and this go round he had every intention of emerging the victor, a complete and utter success.

Which meant he needed that girl.

That thing.

That Hybrid.

And he needed her dead, with her head removed from her body and everything burnt to a crisp.

Final death.

No coming back. No regeneration. Just death.

Then he could turn his attentions to the Clayworth boy.

The Ramyan Warrior.

The Magical.

That word sent a chill down his spine like no other, for now all the pieces of the true prophecy were in place.

That’s all for now.

HOLLA BITCHES.

Book Review: The Wrong David by Christa Wojo

For those of you who have not had the pleasure of losing yourself in Christa Wojo’s words, all I can say is I am so very sorry for you. Her blog, My Sweet Delirium, is a work of art in and of itself, full of magical phrases, rhythmic passages, and divine ruminations, all wrapped up in an incredibly sensual package that just keeps you wanting more.

Interestingly enough, I could say the same of Wojo’s first foray into the world of fiction, The Wrong David.

TheWrongDavid.BookCover

The Wrong David follows Brian, Vanessa, and David as they schmooze up their wine suppliers throughout Provence. Best friends since childhood, David is the nerd Brian rescued from obscurity and continues to love into adulthood, the men building a successful business together; Vanessa is Brian’s wife, loved by Brian, coveted by David.

The threesome make for a very entertaining, sexually wrought, wistful romp throughout the beaches and streets of Marseille, leaving you on the edge of your seat up until the very last word, wondering what choices they will make, what lives they will destroy.

Wojo’s writing is gorgeous and reminds me of The Talented Mr. Ripley, not so much the book, but the movie, for her words and descriptions are as beautiful as that movie’s young stars.

Her powerful presence was like that of a goddess and Marlene Dietrich mixed with the occasional swagger of a teenage boy from Long Island. She was amazing.

Even when I pretended to be my coolest, I always felt the world spinning under my feet when Vanessa was near. She was the world. Life itself.

I loved this little book and highly recommend you take an afternoon to yourself, grab a bottle of wine, and get lost in Marseille and The Wrong David.

You won’t regret it.

Wrinkles, Grey Hair, And Life

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Today’s Daily Post asked the following question of readers:

You wake up one day and realize you’re ten years older than you were the previous night. Beyond the initial shock, how does this development change your life plans?

This one stuck with me because it wasn’t so much the wrinkles that caught me off guard as I grew older, but the freaking grey hairs that have sprouted around my head.

I was standing in the mirror at work one morning and remember seeing the little offender, jutting out from my head at a weird angle, looking so unlike the rest of my jet-black hair, mocking me with its non-conformity and lack of pigment.

I was thirty-five and suddenly felt one hundred.

A fucking grey hair, I remember thinking to myself as I gawked in the mirror. Another women entered the bathroom at the time and in my state of disbelief, I turned to her and relayed my discovery. She smiled and told me to buck up, honey. It was just the beginning.

Beginning of what, I wondered?

Well, now I know: a rather amazing journey of coming into myself as an adult, becoming a mom and following through on my writing dreams. And that’s only what I’ve done so far. Who knows what I’m going to make happen next on this crazy road. I’ve got my goals set on a movie, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet.

Anyway, where was I?

Oh! The grey hair.

I’m not saying that little, grey hair inspired such an evolution, but it played a part, it was a catalyst.

Its arrival kind of made me stop what I was doing (drinking, smoking, eating, sleeping, drinking, smoking, eating, sleeping, drinking, smoking, eating, sleeping – you get my gist) and take stock of myself and what I wanted from life. Not in some grandiose fashion, but just some quiet, food for thought kind of shit. And I came away a little calmer, a tad bit more focused, and surprisingly a little happier.

Did that wiry motherfucker, so boldly jutting out of my head that morning, change my plans per se?

I don’t think so. I always had big plans for myself.

[Turning 40 was the really ass-kicker for me, but that’s another blog post for another day.]

But it certainly made me suddenly aware of that clock ticking down on all of us, myself included, and the fact that it was time to start making shit happen. That it wasn’t just going to come together for me because I wanted it to, because I was young, and because I was awesome. I needed to start doing a little something, something to fulfill my vision of myself.

So for that, I suppose I really must thank that grey bastard who torments me on a daily basis. Without its wiry nastiness, I might still be sitting in that corner stool in Park Bar, you know the one, bitches, swilling tequila, and smoking my American Spirits instead of on this fucking awesome whirlwind of a  journey, balancing the demands of my lawyering with raising The Kid and helping The Step Daughter and loving The Husband with writing The Sanctum.

Fuck yeah, grey hair. You kind of rock.

Did suddenly realizing you’re not 25 anymore change your plans?

 

 

A Tale Of Ten Fish

I have a lot of blood on my hands.

I am the black widow of the kingdom Pisces.

My house is a chamber of death.

For fish.

It’s been a little over a year now since we’ve been trying to keep fish as pets in our house. And it’s been a little over a year of epic failures, some worse than others, some downright mind-boggling.

First there was Pablo, he lasted the longest at a month. Then came Uniqua, a life so short I didn’t even recall her. Next was my favorite trio: Melo, Shump and Paul George, all-stars on the hardwood, not so much in my fish bowl. Their demise was a blow, as I really believed their names would ensure some good karma. Continuing with this line of thinking, we brought home Kanye West.

No fucking way anything named Kanye West is leaving this life early.

Ha! What a fool I was – I don’t believe Kanye lasted a week.

It was around this time that The Husband washed his hands of the fish, convinced I am cursed; to this day, he wants nothing to do with my bad fish juju. The Step-Daughter keeps an amused distance, most likely wondering what all the fuss is about. The Babysitter wonders what the hell is wrong with us, but in her very sweet way, suggesting maybe it’s the water.

Ha! She knows it’s not the water.

So about a month ago, The Kid came home with two freebies from the pet store in our neighborhood. Promptly placing them in a plastic bowl, he advised me to keep my distance from Shanaye and Bash, he and The Babysitter had everything under control. Bash was a floater the next morning and I think Shanaye lasted maybe forty hours more.

I swear I didn’t touch them, but I did look in their direction a few times.

Then he went back, I kid you not, and brought home Lebron and D Wade. Why did I allow this? I couldn’t even begin to tell you. I suppose mostly because I am a glutton for punishment. Or I foolishly believe that one of these fish will survive. That this time, it’ll all work out.

If I recall correctly, Lebron lasted two days.

Punk.

I kid.

These deaths are actually quite burdensome, I hate thinking of myself as a killer. Of anything.

Okay, maybe not rats and roaches, but pretty much anything else dying on my watch bothers me. I am the same girl who has shed days of tears over gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rabbits. I still have not recovered from Suge’s passing.

But I digress.

Where was I? Oh yeah, punk ass Lebron. His death took me over the edge and I finally did what I should have done a long time ago: messaged Michael, a friend from high school who has mad fish skills, loads of awesomely good fish juju and just generally knows his shit.

He told me fish are tough to keep alive, especially when kept in a simple bowl, but was nonetheless amazed by my fish-killing skills, gave me the down low on keeping goldfish alive, recommended a tank set-up for me, and wished me, and the poor fish, good luck.

I went on Amazon and bought the tank right away, then crossed my fingers and hoped D Wade would live long enough to see his new home.

And guess what? He did.

He’s actually been alive, along with his new friend, Chris Paul, under my care for almost three weeks now. Believe it or not, the two of them look freaking happy and spry. And I finally feel like I might not be such a monster after all. That it might be time to shed the fish-killer cape I donned about a year ago.

So thanks, Michael.

D Wade, Chris Paul, and I owe you one.


IMG_5636Bringing Chris Paul home

IMG_5639 Loot for the guys and their new home

Cleaning up and getting things ready IMG_5645 IMG_5642

IMG_5647 Looking pretty, but where are the fish?

IMG_5648 Oh shit! Gotta get the filter hooked up first

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THE FISH!!

The gold one is Chris Paul and D Wade is the little, yellow dude

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We got this, bitches!

HOLLA.