I’m Still Here

Just so you know, I have not fallen off the face of the Earth. I miss you guys!!

And, I’ve still been reading your blogs, commenting, liking, and sharing on Twitter and all that good stuff. I just have not been blogging but I am in tune. I don’t think I’ve spent this much time away from the blog since I’ve started! What in the world is going on?

A lot actually. Some good and some not so good. I definitley have a lot on my mind but let’s talk about the good.

Let me get you up to speed:

Blog Posts – I have some articles written up and saved in my files so I have still been writing and will have plenty for you soon. We’ll also get back into the usual blog segments, Black History Fun Facts, Throwback Jams, etcetera.

No laptop – You are not going to believe it but I have been traveling and left my laptop in Memphis! Here’s how it happened: While leaving my in-laws, I saw the bag in the trunk of the car  and thought the laptop was in it instead of checking to make sure it was. Long story short, I won’t get it back until next week sometime so all those blog post ideas we just talked about are uhh….stuck in Memphis.

Introduce Yourself – This thing is growing! I think I may put a listing somewhere so you can see what dates are available. Would you like that? Authors? Right now I am booking for August. (Wait, no. There may be one more slot left for July) That’s just how much it’s grown! Because of this, despite my absence, you can look forward to being introduced to a new author and his/her work every Monday. Those are scheduled to go out so even if I am not around you’ll get those. (This feature also introduces established authors as well or authors who are not necessarily new.)

Travels – So, where did I go?? Out the country? Nope. I wish! I went to Chicago and Memphis but I’ll give you the short version.

Ethiopian Diamond

In Chicago, I sat in on a Lecture presentation at the Dusable Museum of African American History, visited some family and ate at the Ethiopian Diamond restaurant downtown for the first time. (Despite growing up in Chicago I’ve never eaten there.) For those of you who have never been or have never had Ethiopian food, the style is like a community where everyone at the table eats with their hands from a large platter of food (see image). While everyone can order their own food, it is all on the same platter and designed to be a sociable experience. I can honestly say there were no looking down at the phones. There were a few of us so we were at different tables and at my table we had three large platters. On the bottom is a flat, round stretchy pancake-like injera bread with the other dishes on top in a circle.

These dishes include a combination of several stews like key wat (beef stew), tibs (lamb, beef or goat cubes which is what I had), ground beef (those beef patties or whatever you call them were delicious), and several types of lentil and split pea and tomato stews. You basically tear off pieces of the bread and use it to scoop up food you want to eat. Don’t just stick your hands in like I did at first lol. All in all, I enjoyed the food, the tangy flavor of the injera, the stews, salads, and of course, the quality family time.

Coffee – Speaking of which, the restaurant let us take home a container of coffee beans! Hubby and I had fun roasting them ourselves the other day. It was easier than I thought. Just brown them in a cast iron skillet (don’t put anything in it) and once they brown to your liking (dark roast, etc) grind them up in a coffee grinder and bam, coffee.

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I thought it would be stronger since we made dark roast but it was flavorful nonetheless.

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U.S. Blogging Event Details, Poll

Whaaatt?? A blog event in my home town? Yaass!

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A Joyful Process

The U.S. Blogging Event committee would like to thank those of you who voted for a location for this meeting of bloggers. If you are unaware, Chicago, Illinois was the city that was chosen to hold the inaugural event. It will be similar to the Bloggers Bash that has been held in London for a couple years.

Please note that the date of this event has been changed to Saturday, August 26, 2017; it’s a week earlier than the September 2, 2017 date that was previously set. At this time, we need as many bloggers as possible to let the committee know if you would like to attend. We need a firm number on attendance in order to find a place to hold the event. The committee has several places in mind, but want to get an idea of how many people will attend before booking one of those places.

To find…

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A Love Letter To Some of the Black Women Writers Who Inspired Me

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Image Credit: Black Girl Lost – Sunday Kinfolk

Mildred D. Taylor

Just so you know, I fell for you first. Maybe it’s because that Logan boy and I shared the same name I was birthed with. I mean, back then I had never been to the deep south and I’m sure Stacey Logan knows more about the land than I do. Anyway, I was in 6th grade when we met. You didn’t know it then but you introduced me to black literature and I’m not afraid to claim that title or to separate black writer’s into a category of their own. How could our experiences not be likened to the Roll of Thunder? You were that seed planter for the rooted passion I now carry with me.

Sista Souljah

You always kept it real so Imma return the favor. You see my eyes hypnotized every young man who lusted for my lil sweet self. All fresh and new and walking all lady like. And then you came knocking at my consciousness like the Coldest Winter Ever but claimed No Disrespect. I’m sure we connected by way of the struggle. You see I was brought up in the Robert Taylor projects on Chicago’s south side so crack heads, rats, and hunger didn’t alarm me. I fell in love with the way you never sugar coated the truth and anyone whose been where we’ve been knows just how real your words are.

Maya Angelou

How long must the caged bird write before she sings? I can’t credit myself for coming up with that line. You showed me how a poet can use metaphors to write fiction too. Even though your memoir is all truth, your talent transformed it into something that can be considered just as poetic as phenomenal women. Your voice was passionate and strong and thundered like waves of air across the sky. Even in death is your memory, still that uplifting arm rising like dust and written down in history.

Ntozake Shange

Speaking of poetry, ever since I heard you speak I wanted to write for colored girls. You brought me back to those Souljah days with your raw tongue. How it unfolded from the very bottom of your gut and lifted the skirt to every pain black women have endured since the days their slave masters told them that rainbows weren’t enough. You didn’t write the way that I was taught in school, you wrote the way that I spoke. Like when my friends and I crowded around de front porch and ma boyfriend waz whispering quite literally, sweet nothin’s in my ear. And I laughed stupid like “You pretty” was something revolutionary enough to show my privates for.

Toni Morrison

By the time I got to you my thoughts started to evolve into a wanting I couldn’t put my finger on. My mind had gone from reading for entertainment to studying the books I read. I was on a search for something deeper than cotton fields, magnolia trees, and project rats. By the time you came along I was reading in-between the lines and trying to find that thing called freedom. And I wondered just how deep I had to look for that Tar Baby.

Gwendolyn Brooks

As soon as I found out you were from my home town we bonded. Was real cool like besties from the low end on the South Side. Bonded like 47th Street and State, Bronzeville, or Englewood. You see your lyrics had depth like the deep south you was born in, but had that look about it that screamed Chi-Town. Simple poetry that spoke volumes. You taught me that if I loved him the right way, saw him the way I was supposed to, that a man became more than just a body.

Terry McMillian

This relationship of ours! I can read you anytime and Lewis will always seem like the same Ray Ray and Pookie we all know. You perfected the art of black family life and character development. Every book I read of yours sends me into that world and I’m just laughing and shaking hands with your people like they my people because they are. I have stayed up plenty of nights turning pages and laughing and trying to figure out just what it means to be A Day Late and Dolla Short.

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A Love Letter to the Black Women Writers Who Liberated Me Read the title of an article written by Ashley Gail Terrell, a freelance writer from Michigan working on her first novel. Her post was inspiration for this piece.

I believe there are stepping stones to everything in life. That something that leads and guides us from one place to another so that we can reach the place we’re supposed to be. It can be anything from music, movies, television, people, places, things, and even books. Now, because of choice we do not always see these stepping stones for what they are; do not always notice the impact they are having in the moment in which we experience it and for some of us, perhaps we never will. But when I read this title, I thought back to the writers who I have come to love over the course of time and I began to meditate on how they have influenced my writing. When I was not yet where I am, spiritually, mentally, and physically, these writers (although not just these writers) became valuable launchpads on behalf of my writing today, sparking a flame of passion for the art that I still carry with me.

Movie Night Friday – Cooley High

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Welcome back to another Movie Night Friday. It’s obvious you guys don’t like the movies I like but nonetheless lol, here’s another EC Fav: Cooley High.

Cooley High is a classic! First, its set in my home town of Chicago and I have a cousin whose name is on the bathroom wall in one of the scenes. In fact, everyone from Chicago probably has a relative who was in this movie. That’s because while the starring actors were pros, the extras were recruited right from the projects. Yup, many of these kids lived right over there in the Cabrini Green Projects.

Now, what is the movie about anyway?

Richard “Cochise” Morris (Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs), a local basketball hero, and Leroy “Preach” Jackson (Glynn Turman), who dreams of a career in writing, are likable Chicago high school students in 1960s Chicago. They’re into hanging out with friends, pretty girls and the Motown sounds so popular during the era. Each wants to make it big in his own way, but not everybody they meet is looking out for them, as they learn when a seemingly harmless outing goes awry.- Google

A simple film, Cooley High captured our hearts because of its realness. Though I wasn’t born in 1975 when it released, I too once lived in the projects on the city streets of the Chi. I too can remember growing up poor with a single mom. Movies like this are relatable and showcase the realness and often the struggle of inner city youth. The history behind the movie is also interesting:

The story behind “Cooley High” is even more dramatic than the comedy-drama that unspooled on the screen. It’s the story of Kenneth Williams, who, like protagonist Preach, left Chicago’s Cabrini-Green projects with dreams of becoming a Hollywood screenwriter. Having dropped out of high school, he hitchhiked from the Windy City to Hollywood with $5 in his pocket and no connections, and for a while he supported himself selling drugs. But the aspiring writer, who renamed himself Eric Monte, also befriended actor Mike Evans, who’d been cast as neighbor Lionel Jefferson on the groundbreaking sitcom “All in the Family.” Through Evans, Monte pitched the show’s producer, Norman Lear, a script introducing the characters of Lionel’s parents, George and Louise Jefferson. Lear bought the script and eventually spun off George, Weezy, and Lionel into their own hit sitcom, “The Jeffersons,” but Monte was neither hired as a staff writer nor given credit or residuals for “The Jeffersons,” which ran from 1975 to 1985.

http://www.moviefone.com/2015/06/25/cooley-high-most-influential-movie/

Monte and Evans would go on to produce the sitcom hit Good Times.

Movie Trailer:

Since the movie is 41 years old, it was hard to find a Trailer that was clear enough and also interesting enough (Didn’t want to show scenes that made it look like a boring movie! It definitely is not). The one I found isn’t a trailer but just an excerpt from the movie. The only other option was from the old VHS and I didn’t enjoy that trailer. It wasn’t showing any interesting parts.

And that’s it for Movie Night Friday.

MNF2

Bitter Sweet

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Its cold, obviously, in Chicago. The irony is that this week has been like Chicago’s cold bitter wind and the warmth of the sun on my cheeks at the same time. Similar to how the sun is just strong enough to warm the ground but not the wind. Like the sharpness of a very dark chocolate. While  the book release and trip to Atlanta has been sweet, the call that my mother has fallen ill has left my mouth with the bitter taste of a strong coffee with no cream and no sugar.

Truth is I just want to go somewhere and hide. The new book is exciting and the signing and presentation went very well. In addition, the play following was amazing. This thick, syrupy goodness I will hold on my tongue always.

Immediately following the play, I jumped on a plane to Chicago and have not been home since then. Instead, I’ve been back and forth to the hospital everyday while simultaneously promoting my new book and balancing other priorities. In addition, my husband is having surgery on his knees soon which means I’ll be leaving the Chi soon.

But you know me. The grind must go on. I hope to be fully engaged in this blog soon with my regular obsessive postings! Lol

Y’all be great.

– EC

Coffee Date: Travels

I am still traveling but I wanted to give you an update while I have some down time. Would anyone like some coffee? Tea? Hot Chocolate? I’ll have a coffee with French Vanilla Cream, no sugar (the cream is sweet enough). And lets make that steaming hot. It’s cold out there!

Since we are having coffee right now, you should know that I am still waiting for more pictures to come back from the Book Signing but that it was a beautiful event.

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My Team

First, I had a team of eight sisters who helped me to put it together and I am forever grateful for their generosity. Because of them I didn’t have to keep watch over the kitchen or escort people to their seats or take my attention away from the presentation. (*Team work always makes the dream work!*) My editor was also in attendance and we were both surprised with gifts from our supporters. Mine was a glass plaque with my company logo on it and some really encouraging words. I’ll upload a picture of it when I get home. It is absolutely stunning!

Order of Events

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The library itself was excellent. Very spacious with a beautiful kitchen to store the food (the pic shown is before we covered it with all kinds of goodies. Still waiting on those pictures to come back). I began with a video of the Book Trailer and a PowerPoint presentation. I decided to do it this way to keep it fresh. The images and moving pictures helped capture and keep the audience attention as I rambled on about the details of the book. There was also a Q&A session.

Me and Harry
Me and Harry

Since we are having coffee right now, you should know that I had the privilege of meeting a man named Harry. Harry is an older man whose family were sharecroppers and he expressed exciting interest in The Stella Trilogy. For those who don’t already know, I am really passionate about having these kinds of conversations with the elderly or older men and women who have lived during these times. It is a wisdom I think that we should all cherish. My dad in law has given my husband and I very exciting stories of his boyhood and their experiences picking cotton and sharecropping as well. It is most exciting. I believe oral storytelling is a major stepping stone to the writing of books today. Before anything was written down, it was passed along orally.

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Next, we offered food and snacks to the guest as I prepared for the signing and allowed everyone to mingle. This gave me the opportunity to go around and speak to some of the guest. I think this is very important for Book Signings. You want to try to avoid sitting at a table all day. Instead, I wanted to make it as engaging and family oriented as possible. I think its important that everyone feels special and part of the process. After all, these are people who invested in me. It’s only right that I invest my time and attention to them too.

Since we are having coffee right now, you should also know that I was in a Black History Stage Play the day after the event (Sat.) at The Riverside EpiCenter (Blakk Amerika: From Prophets to Pimps) and it was absolutely powerful. I was casted in 3 roles: Besty Mae, a plantation slave whose son was sold away from her. Sheila Jones, Besty’s great great granddaughter some years later, and I also had the privilege of closing the play with a poem.

I’ll have more updates soon. Before we get out of here, I do want to thank everyone for their support of this work so far both offline and across social media.

Until next time, peace and love

– EC