Don’t Throw It Away: How Short Stories from My Teenage Years Became An Urban Fantasy Fiction Novel

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood

When I was about seventeen and eighteen, I wrote stories about my sisters and our friends in this red notebook. Then, we would all sit on the porch, and I would read it to the neighborhood. Everyone had nicknames but also knew who they were so it was hilarious, and they loved it.

When I moved out of my mother’s house a couple of years later, I carried that notebook. One day, while reading it, I decided I wanted to turn it into a play. There was only one problem:

I was not the teenager who wrote it.

By now, I was deeply biblical, had loc’d my hair, and changed my name. This hood tale didn’t fit the newer version of me.

I decided to keep the characters but change their names and give them more dignity. They were successful Black men and women instead of whores and hustlers. In the original story, Tina was a lawyer because when we were younger, that’s what my twin sister Tracey wanted to be when she grew up. In the red notebook, Tina was Tracey.

This dope cover for my first screenplay was designed by Black graphic artist Andre Hawkins of Kenosis Design Innovations

I published Pearls Before Swine in 2014, registered it with the Screen Writer’s Guild, and participated in my first book signing at the Doubletree Hilton Hotel in Chicago, which went well. 

And then, I started this blog!

I made the mistake* of naming this blog after the book hence why it’s called thepbsblog. Over time, I decided to keep the name for a few reasons. You can read about that here.

*I don’t recommend authors start blogs and name them after the title of their book any more than I would advise authors to create websites with the name of their books. You will write more books. Are you going to create a new website for every book? It is easier to brand yourself using your name.

Although it did okay when first released, and I love the cover, I better understood how to use my voice and messaging after The Stella Trilogy. I had grown again and vowed to be more relatable. The story was also not properly edited and the plot was confusing to people outside of my immediate circle.

But instead of throwing it away, I reworked the first chapter and shared it on this blog.

Then, I shared another chapter.

And another and another until I was ten chapters into this crazy fantasy world that, to my surprise, ya’ll loved!

And that’s when it hit me.

The story would evolve again.

I would turn Pearls Before Swine into The Men with Blue Eyes. And then, for the last change, I decided I wanted these angels to be women, which is how The Women with Blue Eyes was born. I used the backstory and characters of PBS with a fresh plot.

TWWBE is still heavily spiritual, but in a way where even if you are not religious, you could still relate to it. This was intentional.

I would love for this story to take on another evolution: for Shonda Rhimes to turn it into a TV series. (Somebody tell her people to call my people.)

I am also considering sharing more of the backstory of PBS in another installment of The Women with Blue Eyes. The details about Ronnie and Big Sam and how it all went down was in the first book. This is material I can still use.

When Tina’s nephew, Ronnie is killed, she is left to care for his siblings and to solve a series of mysterious murders involving only Black men. Investigating each murder thrusts her and her team into a world of deities, demons, and fallen angels, leading Tina to battle a serial killer beyond this realm.

The moral of this story is don’t throw anything away! Just repurpose it.

The Sound of Silence

Photo by Arthur Brognoli from Pexels

A lot is going on in the world, so I sit here bathed in solitude and fishing for a thought. Let the noisy silence of second hands and chirping birds lend me the inspiration needed to write. Let the calm of the rain suicide its face onto my windowsill, onto shingled rooftops, ripping puddles, or perhaps it will only melt itself into the concrete.

Have you ever sat back and listened to silence? It is hypocritically noisy. I can hear the laughter of locusts and the singing of birds as they intercourse themselves into the wind. This noisy wind. It whistles and shouts and spreads its hum across the troposphere, just silent enough for us not to notice amid the growling of car engines and groaning of electricity. If you listen closely enough, you’ll hear angels sing in the wind.

Give me not the physical right now. Not the booming lyric of music or the chatter of distraction. Give me focus so I may snag a thought from the roaring voices of spirit and memory hanging from the pictures on my wall. We are familiar with the sound of noise, but not the noise of silence. Not the tickle of an idea brushing past our thoughts or the seductive wooing of trees to wind. The giggling fabric against the windowsill. The peaceful lullabies of daylight.

Indeed, nature has its way of suckering us out of quiet, but what an incredible stillness.

Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews – Catch The Moon, Mary by Wendy Waters

Title: Catch the Moon, Mary

Author: Wendy Waters

Print Length: 258 pages

Publisher: Wendy Waters

Publication Date: October 16, 2019

Mary Granger is a gifted musician who sees visions of music and moves her hands to the tune of the song she hears in her head, like playing an invisible piano. The children call her “Mad Mary” because she doesn’t understand their jokes. She is nervous, and her mannerisms read like someone with autism or some other disorder. But Mary’s music is extraordinary and came as a way of dealing with the trauma of sexual abuse from her father, James.

Then, there’s the archangel Gabriel, who has been on Earth for a thousand years and is depressed about whether he will ever return to his glorious state. He returns to heaven to find it in chaos. His father (“God”) is gone, and so is his brother Rigel. The angels have adopted a “do what thy will” attitude. Gabriel is searching for a saint who can help him enlighten the world.

Mary and Gabriel meet when the angel is swept away by Mary’s music, which draws her to him like a magnet. Mary is a child, about eleven-years-old, and Gabriel wants her to sell him her music. The child, Mary, can’t sell the music because it takes her away from James’ abuse. Witnessing the act, the angel causes significant pain in the man’s stomach and makes a pact with Mary that he will own the rights to her music in exchange for protection.

He believes Mary’s music is the key to restoring his light and promises her fame and fortune in exchange.

But when Mary is an adult and works as a paralegal, still bound by the contract, Gabriel doesn’t seem to be as kind as he was when she was little. He kills, and people close Mary start to die.

There is a lot to unpack in this book, including the biblical connection between Mary and Gabriel, the angel that came to tell Mariam she was pregnant with the Messiah. And because I believe there are fallen angels who many celebrities worship for fortune and fame, becoming miniature versions of gods on Earth, i.e., stars, I enjoyed the realistic premise of this book. However, the plot in Catch the Moon, Mary is not predictable and gets more profound as the story unfolds.

Catch the Moon, Mary is gracefully written. I was immediately caught up in the poetic writing style of this author. From the first sentence, I was pulled into brilliant prose and description that made reading easy. I felt part of Mary’s world because the writing was like feeling the music, not just reading it. As a poet, I love this. The entire book is written with this kind of artistic expression. The author is unique in her descriptions, so that not one sentence is ordinary. Waters does not just tell us the sun is rising, but that “suddenly, the sky was rimmed with yellow flame as dawn cracked over the horizon like an egg.” She does not just tell us Mary’s music is good, but that, “her music pulsating like breath.”

I was not a fan of the musical notes used instead of Chapter Headings, but it makes sense, given the author’s writing style. As I said, this author is no ordinary writer!

Plot Movement / Strength: 5/5

Entertainment Factor: 4/5

Characterization: 5/5

Authenticity / Believable: 4/5

Thought Provoking: 5/5

Overall: 5/5

Catch the Moon, Mary is available now on Amazon


My book review registry is CLOSED. To learn more about my registry be sure to visit the Blog Book Review Policy page here.

Voice for Radio

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They said she had a voice for radio. That her voice had been blessed. And that angels played on the strings of her vocal chords. That her mind had the ability to cough up words from other dimensions that she, danced on the streets of clouds. Somewhere in the storage rooms they said she danced somewhere beyond where beyond is. Maybe, they guessed, maybe the source of her strength is where the secret of the wind is. Maybe it’s where forever is. They said she had a voice for radio. What they didn’t know was that similes were first scattered to the four corners of the earth. Racing to the back room to see who would get to the bed first, or the floor, hardwood, chair, you see life for her ain’t been no crystal stair. Plastic bags with all her stuff they stared cause, she didn’t know what a home was. She had to tell them that though beautiful, this voice was first pregnant and had to go through labor pains before it gave birth.

Why I Write Truth

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Because the world is a violent one

and screaming death a song

so routine is its lyrics

crooked notes twisted

and then dropped

like  lifeless bodies

a glass vase

shattering

crackling

like fire on the mountain

and no one seems to be

on the run

I write truth

because its better to spill ink

than blood

Last night

I heard angels mourn

their tears fell like hailstones

from the sky

they told me

another person died

I write truth

because light chose not to shine today

the sun looked down

and vowed that it was too dangerous

on the ground

I write truth

because the world is crying out

cause it ain’t safe no more

not like a piece of paper

and black ink

not safe like blue lines

and poetry

I write truth because

Maya ain’t here no more

and somebody’s got to tell that woman

she’s phenomenal

somebody’s got to sing that man

a song

that ain’t full of lyrics

that bleed

I write truth

because Langston told us

to bring him our heart melodies

that he may wrap them in a blue cloud cloth

away from the two ruff fingers

of the world

dear Langston

here is mine