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PSYCH!!!

Posted on November 4, 2009 at 1:55 PM Comments comments (2)

 

When we were kids, we used to play jokes on each other all the time. “Want some of my chips?” we’d ask innocently, holding out the bag for our friend to grab a few. Once s/he made a move though, we’d snatch the bag back and yell “Psych!”

Well, life has a few “psychs” of its own…

Finding the courage to follow the Lord’s instructions and quit my job was really difficult.  Before I did that I took a mental accounting of my finances, cause I Ain’t No Fool: that’s what anyone in their Right Mind would do, right? I estimated that I had over a thousand dollars in the bank and wouldn’t have a problem getting unemployment. Confidant that I had enough money to carry us for a while, I gave my two weeks notice.

On my way home that afternoon I ran into my old boss. One quick tour of her new facility later I had a dollar more per hour, and instead of driving across town, this job was right up the block from me. Glory to God On High, I couldn’t wait to get home and do my Happy Dance, giving God the praise He so richly deserved. After all, I felt like I had done Something Great. God had blessed me for walking off of one job like He told me to by giving me a better one, right?

PSYCH!!!

Started on a Monday, ended on a Friday. What happened???

Well…

In the aftermath of Sissy’s car accident we continued to praise God nothing was seriously wrong with her. She still couldn’t move her left arm, and was suffering from blinding headaches that the medication couldn’t touch, but we chalked it up to the side effects of sliding across the concrete on her shoulder. The Wednesday after her accident Sissy had a follow up visit with her doctor. Within fifteen minutes she emerged from the exam room with a referral for physical therapy. Still not worried, we went to her intake appointment later that day, prepared to get a few little exercises and bounce.

PSYCH!!!

During the exam we discovered that Sissy kept her arm straight across her chest as if it was in a sling because the entire arm kept tingling like it was falling asleep, and every few minutes she had to wiggle her fingers to “wake” her arm up again. There were also areas on her arm that had no sensation at all, ie: dead spots. “Get in touch with your doctor right away and let him know what I found,” the physical therapist stressed. “She’ll need to come three times a week for at least a month. You’re facing a long recovery process, but the good news is you’re young and healthy, so you should recover fully.”

By Friday I realized I didn’t have the energy to take my daughter to school, then to physical therapy, then back to school again, then drop her home only to have to do a second shift in the Infant room of all places. Now I was hired to be the Administrator, which is an office position, but:

PSYCH!!!

Somehow I ended up stuck in the classroom. I showed my supervisor my daughter’s PT schedule and told her I needed to make some changes to my work hours. She sent me home and told me to call my boss over the weekend. Well, she never returned any of my phone calls. So suddenly… like Tommy…I ain’t got no job.

It’s Alright though, ‘cause I got Money In The Bank, right???

PSYCH Again!

I went to make a withdrawal only to find out I was $243 overdrawn. Angry and frustrated, I accepted a print out of my account activity and went home to find out

Where I Went Wrong. The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men…I thought ruefully.

 

Although it was looking more and more like I had Made a Mistake leaving my old job, somehow I knew better. I asked God why this was happening to me. I always paid my tithes, faithfully. I mean: “Would a man rob God???” (Mal 3:8) YO: Not this one. I believed in His Promises, and He promised He would “rebuke the devourer” (Mal 3:11) if I did. Yet here I was with no job and no money; and the rent was due in three days. I barely had enough in my savings account to cover a few of those bounced checks and buy some food. The passage that kept coming to me though, was: “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” (Prov 16:9) If I trust in the Lord with all my heart, and I truly believe that everything God does is good, then I have to trust that there is something in this situation for me.

So if He put me here, What’s The Plan???

Guess I’ll have to Wait & See…

 

The Banned from Vegas Blog Tour Stops Here!

Posted on October 22, 2009 at 1:20 AM Comments comments (6)

Today I'm hosting the blog tour of a very special friend of mine.
We are in Day 18 of Banned from Vegas with Jean Holloway.

This virtual book tour would be incomplete without answering some of the questions that I’m ask quite often while marketing and promoting my book. I hope you enjoy it.  

Writing Advice

 

If you feel you have a story to tell, start out by dedicating at least an hour a day to writing with no interruptions. No excuses.  Like Nike says, "Just do it".

 

Getting Published

 

When you're completely satisfied, look into small independent publishers (the route I chose) or consider self-publishing. Find nearby literary events to attend. Get familiar with what goes on and network like you never have before.  

 

Reviews

 

I always ask reviewers if they would accept the eBook (.pdf) first to save money. Hey, if they say no, you're only back where you started. First, I send mine to online book clubs that post reviews. The price is usually a book (maybe 2) plus postage. The costs of review copies should be included in your budget. Some reviewers are: APOOO Books, AALBC ($249), MidWest Book Reviews, RAWSISTAZ, SORMAG Magazine and Urban-Reviews. Be patient. It may take months, but the increased online presence can't hurt.

 

Events

 

In today's economy, it's hard to get book clubs interested in events that cost the reader to attend, but try to find inexpensive literary events in your area that you can attend.  

What doesn't seem to work for me any more are book signings at local independent stores, although I still do them because they were the ones who helped me get out there in the first place and I'm eternally grateful.

 

Networking

 

Although I'm on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Shelfari, etc., I want to mention GoodReads.com. If you are not a registered author there, you should be.  I've connected with almost 1,800 (no typo!) people including book clubs. I've also gotten reviews from Canada and England through GoodReads. It's my favorite literary networking site.

 

Even with a publicist, don't think that means you won't be involved. In fact, you should now be a team. Getting your book into readers' hands is a full time job.

 

In closing, I want to wish you the best and re-affirm my motto: "Never give up your dream" 

About Black Jack

Black Jack is the sequel to Jean Holloway's acclaimed debut novel, Ace of Hearts. Buckle up and follow Shevaughn as she moves closer to solving the murder of a lonely widow, unknowingly rekindling old grudges and awakening an sinister spirit.  Get ready, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

 

About Jean Holloway: 

Jean Holloway, author of thrillers—books from her Deck of Cardz series—a fiction detective storyline following the career of a female lead homicide detective Shevaughn Robinson. Ace of Hearts and Black Jack are currently available online and by request at your local bookstores.  

Visit Deck of Cardz to learn more about Jean Holloway and her work. There you can download Black Jack eBook; watch the book video: Black JackWanna Play, read the book synopsis; and more.

Banned from Vegas with Jean Holloway, is a virtual book tour organized by Nia Promotions, that assists authors and publishers with using web-marketing strategy to market and promote books on the internet.

* * *

Banned from Vegas with Jean Holloway, is a virtual book tour organized by Nia Promotions, a marketing company that assists authors and publishers with using web-marketing strategy to market and promote books on the internet.  

Book Giveaway: 

Win a copy of Ace of Hearts by Jean Holloway. One lucky commenter will win a copy of Jean’s debut novel. Deadline for comments is 12:00 pm EST October 22, 2009. For more details and to enter to win one of the Reader Prizes visit http://bit.ly/NctRB

The Road That Leads To...

Posted on October 21, 2009 at 12:57 PM Comments comments (1)

What happens when we ignore the path God lays out before us and choose to go our own way instead? The Bible says: There is a way that seems right to man, but the end thereof is death. Well…death, biblically, can be defined in many ways, one of which is a separation from God. But the possibility of actual, physical death is Oh So Real.

Not long ago my daughter and I bumped into one of her childhood friends. As they traded acceptance success stories he excitedly described his upcoming move-in plans for a small college somewhere near Ohio State in Columbus.

“Oh I already put in a transfer to Ohio State,” my daughter decided to drop her own newsflash.

“Over my dead body,” came my curt reply. “You mean you’d throw away $27,000 worth of financial aide and the chance to attend a Top Ten Business program to go to Ohio State and party???!!!”

Like all good teenagers everywhere, my daughter shut down and stopped speaking to me. “Cause that’s what Ohio State is,” I carried on, “a Party School, and God Already Said that wasn’t where He wanted you to go.”

You see…my daughter has wanted to attend Ohio State since before she graduated last June. That’s where her girlfriend was going. However…God obviously had other plans. While she waited and waited for word from Ohio State, Xavier University was quietly courting her. Based on her ACT scores, they were prepared to offer her a financial aide package that would pay for the vast majority of their (I thought at the time) ridiculously expensive tuition. With the acceptance deadline for the Xavier offer fast approaching and still no word from Ohio State, my daughter reluctantly agreed to go with Xavier. When we found out just what type of school Xavier, and by contrast Ohio State really was, all I could feel was Blessed. I was under the impression that my daughter felt blessed too, or at least understood why God didn’t want her at Ohio State.

Knowing I couldn’t force her to do anything, even if I wanted to (alright: I did), I discussed it at my next Women’s Ministry meeting. Although it was hard for me to Let Go & Let God, I trusted that God would handle the situation.

The very next week, I got a call during Women’s Ministry from a Columbus area code. Not recognizing the number I disregarded it, vowing to check my voicemail when the meeting was over. As soon as I put the phone away it began ringing again, this time it was my son. Now my rule is: if somebody isn’t dying or the house isn’t on fire, don’t call me at church. But since I left my son home sleeping I answered it, figuring maybe he woke up and got worried.

“Sissy had a car accident,” he frantically informed me.

Sissy was in…Columbus.

Since she was only helping her friend with Early Move In, I figured there was no harm in letting her go, but What Had Happened Was…Some lady ran the red light and broadsided the car she was in. The car flipped onto its side; asleep in the back seat, Sissy was thrown against the window, which shattered. She awoke to find herself sliding across the pavement on her back. I tried calling her back yet got no response. Powerless to do anything more than wait for word, I went on to my monthly church meeting where we prayed for Sissy and the other two girls in the car with her.

The hospital released Sissy later that evening. The seat belt was the only thing that kept her from being tossed through the broken window, which most certainly would have resulted in her death. As it was, Sissy ended up with some serious road rash, and nothing more. Her girlfriend in the front seat escaped with a few Bumps & Bruises; the girl who was driving wasn’t so lucky. She had to be extricated from the car and lost three fingers, which were later reattached. In church, Sissy, her girlfriend and I took three Victory Laps around the sanctuary; grateful to God they were okay.

“I guess she got the message about Columbus,” someone said to me.

Yeah…I Thought So Too, except…she didn’t.

“It was an accident,” Sissy insisted. “It could have happened anywhere.”

Why is she so hardheaded??? I asked myself. Can’t she see the signs???

Then, like a flash, it hit me.

God had been after me to quit my job for months. Months. And yet: I kept coming up with excuses for why I couldn’t. Number one was…I’d gotten used to the paycheck.

Seriously.

I didn’t want to be broke again, and I told God that. He reminded me that for five years, He’s Made A Way when all we had was SSI. It wasn’t easy, and sometimes it wasn’t pretty, but each and every month we made it from the First to the Thirty-first when our bills were always at least twice what our income was. I remembered those times, and while I am eternally grateful to God for His provision, I just didn’t want to Go There again. So instead of quitting, I Held On.

And developed headaches.

And bursitis in both my shoulders.

Finally, my blood pressure started climbing. On Monday at the doctor’s it was 148/100. After work the next day, at my eye exam, it hit 156/105. 160/110 is Stroke Level.

“Are you stressed?” the assistant asked me.

“Yes,” I replied. “Somehow I forgot that God is In Control and Not Me.”

I decided I was quitting for real; stayed home all day Wednesday. Come Thursday morning however…I was on my way out the door.

“You going back to work?!” Sissy asked angrily. “I thought you to quit! That job is gonna kill you, can’t you see that???”

Can’t. You see. That.

Sometimes we can’t.

Sometimes…we can’t (or won’t) listen to God when He tells us not to do certain things because…we want them too badly. But everything we want ain’t for us. It ain’t even good for us. And sometimes, ignoring God when He tells us not to do something sets us on the road that ultimately leads to…

Yeah. Death.

Not everyone gets a second chance, but even if you do:

Is it really worth it?

Cause I've never been sorry I listened to God, but I have been sorry I didn't.

Things We Lost In The Fire

Posted on July 23, 2009 at 6:35 PM Comments comments (0)

May 3, 2009, we had a fire.

My sixteen year old son put some oil on to fry some chicken?

And Forgot.

He said he knew it was bad when he heard crackling sounds coming from the kitchen. Steeling himself to take a peek, he found the entire stove top?along with the kitchen ceiling?ablaze.

Yes folks: It was A Wrap. The only thing left to do was Leave.

In a Hurry.

After three days wandering through Red Cross covered motel rooms (which is their Limit On Help) we realized we had precious few choices. There was the son with four kids who had a wife with two kids of her own plus their common child between them, but my other son and HIS three kids was staying there too. In a three bedroom ranch.

Then there was the daughter with four sons, but her sister and her three kids was staying with her, plus her cousin and her baby daughter, and sometimes her brother who is living with AIDS. At least her house was bigger: she had a full basement, but she was also out of our school district which means I would have to drop two teenaged boys off on opposite ends of the city.

The son it was.

Even in those cramped conditions I learned to be grateful for a roof over our heads. My sons wanted to run off and stay with their friends, but I didn?t set the fire so why should I be homeless all by myself??? N Word, please! Thirty days later the Lord blessed us with a two bedroom, in our district, in a complex with a swimming pool, my only requirement.

So why is all my stuff still at our old house two months later?

I had to ask myself that question when my ex landlord offered to rent me a truck and help me move out. We had all gone to the house a month earlier, picking through the clothes that weren?t soot-stained and trying to decide what we wanted to keep and what we could throw out. Now that it was down to the wire, I found myself looking at those bags again and wondering why I had saved them at all.

We were getting along fine without that stuff. At our new apartment all we had were the TV?s, computers, two couches I got from my church basement and some plastic chairs.

Oh yes: and the video games those idiots had run back in the burning house to save.

They might Lose Their Lives?but they?d NEVER lose the PlayStations.

Heck no.

Opening the bags, I slowly fingered the first few items. Then it hit me:

I had been carrying around these same clothes since 2005, when I came back from Nashville. Some of that stuff was even older than that. See?once upon a time I was on SSI. And everything I owned: every article of clothing, even my shoes, had been donated by someone at my church. But we had come a Long Way since then. A Good Job and A Book later we could afford a nice apartment even on my crappy credit report. We could even afford to buy some New Clothes.

Clothes that Fit.

Clothes that weren?t Washed Out and Faded by Years of Use.

Clothes that didn?t come from Someone Else.

Yeah, I lost a lotta things in the fire, but we gained so much more. The beds that were sitting in the back room for two years cause we couldn?t get them through the bedroom doors?

Tossed.

The raggedy dresser the man next door gave us that was little more than fire wood???

Tossed.

We no longer needed to be carrying around the baggage of a bygone era. God had brought us through all that, much like he delivered the Israelites from the Egyptians.

And like the Israelites we came out with the Spoils of War: new house, new job, new US.

I don?t even know why I held onto those clothes as long as I did.

But I Sure Am Glad I Threw Them Out.

Idoleyes: My new perspective on Faith, Fat and Fame by Mandisa

Posted on February 19, 2009 at 8:35 PM Comments comments (0)

I've never reviewed a non fiction book before so please bear with me. The reason I read this book was because I loved Mandisa on American Idol, and loved her when her record "It's Only The World" came out. The fact that she worked with tobyMac, my favorite Christian artist, cemented her reputation in my book.

That doesn't mean she can write. I was disappointed in both Fantasia's and Superhead's memoirs, strictly because they weren't well written. These ladies should find their ghost writers and demand a refund.

Imagine my delight when I discovered how intelligent and insightful Mandisa's memoir is. She is nothing less than startlingly frank in discussing her weight problem and the insecurities it has caused her. She is refreshingly honest about her disappointment with God when she was knocked out of the American Idol competition in ninth place. After all: she was convinced God had told her she'd make it to the Top 3. And she also describes her struggles to remain godly in the face of some less-than-godly competitors, one of which ended up her room mate. All of this Mandisa illustrated with statistics from medical studies, Bible Study and Devotional workbooks and even the Bible itself.

The timing of the delivery of this book couldn't have been more On Time. In fact, I'm convinced <i>Idoleyes</i> was Heaven Sent. It was exactly what I needed to pick me up from an abysmal week that started with the senseless murder of one of my "Street" sons. As Mandisa said in the book, and I've heard this from many sources, God uses many different vehicles to relay His message. In my case, that vehicle was named Mandisa.

The Hood Life: A Bentley Manor Tale by Meesha Mink and De'Neesha Diamond

Posted on February 14, 2009 at 9:07 PM Comments comments (2)

 

Everybody knows there’s hella drama up in Bentley Manor. Them Hoodwives alone had enough drama to last until the twenty-second century. But the dudes…Oh my Lawd! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: nobody does Hood tales better than Mink and Diamond. Hood tales are a Dime A Dozen these days, with trite storylines featuring Pimps and Ho’s practically jumping off the shelves begging to be bought. Unfortunately, most of the stories these days make me holla for my money back.

Even the ones I’ve won in contests.

But not the Bentley Manor series. Mink and Diamond take the same ole boring @$$ Hood standbys: the Pimp, the Playa, the Killa and the Drug Dealer and breathe new life into them through creative twists and turns. The pimp with the porno star wife? Yes, we Heard It All Before. The pimp has a daughter who drops in out of the sky? Been There, Done That. But the pimp with the transsexual best friend/lover???

Stop Playin!

And Tavon Wonders Why the wife is jealous. Like all pimps everywhere Tavon is blissfully unconcerned with his wife’s feelings. He’s got it under control. After all, like every good pimp Tavon keeps his ho’s in check, right? As the Black Philosopher Martin used to say: she can Get To Steppin. What Tavon doesn’t know is you can never really control another person’s emotions, and personally…I think Tavon got Way More than his Hand called for.

Demarcus, the Killa, went to jail not for the many murders he actually committed but for trying to kill his girl Zoey, yet she stood by him those ten long years he was in the pen. Now he’s found God in the form of Allah, but can’t find a job. How long will Zoey stand by Demarcus when the bills pile up and she can’t work because she’s pregnant? Does his faith hold him up or will the problems of life choke the fragile seeds of religion planted in prison? Circumstances show Demarcus just who he really is. Or is that just who he thinks he is? And does he get what he really deserves in the end???

Babies are raining out the sky all over the Hood, and Kaseem’s baby happens to be a boy. For this suburban boy from a Fine Middle Class Home, dealing drugs gets everything Kas has ever wanted, but was afraid to work for. The horrors of drug abuse hit too close to home when the woman Kas once loved offers to sell him their son for ten thousand dollars. And a “cookie.” (a portion of crack that resembles its name). When his baby’s-moms dies from the crack he gave her Kas wants out of the game. He shoulda Told Somebody though, cause Somebody wants Kas out the game too: enough to kill him. And Kas is a Peaceful Drug Dealer. Who does THAT??? Does he make it out alive? How about his girl, whom he loves? And why can’t that fool see who’s gunnin for him when I knew right away???

Finally there’s Rhakmon, the so-called Playa of the set. This had to be the weakest story of them all. If you ask me Rhak is bout as Low Budget a Playa as it gets. The Fat Chicks Rhak??? The toothless old woman??? That ain’t Playin, that’s Ho’in: Crack Ho’in. You supposedta get more than a Burger & Fries with all that d!ck you throwin around. And how he talked that simple chick into…I ain’t gon’ spoil it for you, but she Made Me Mad. Anyway, trust that Rhak gets what he deserves too.

In more ways than one.

Is there a happy ending in the Hood Life? I ain’t gon’ tell you that either. I will tell you that the end of this book made me tremble for the future of the franchise.

And left me Wanting More…

 

 

 

Shameless Hoodwives: A Bentley Manor Tale by De'nesha Diamond and Meesha Mink

Posted on February 5, 2009 at 2:40 PM Comments comments (-3)

What can I say except BAM???
BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM!
You better Duck;
'Fore them 5 stars leave your behind Star Struck...
The Hoodwives are back with a vengeance, and just like its Desperate predecessor, there is More Ish than a Little Bit with these Project Chicks.

Look up Crack Ho in the dictionary; there must be a picture of Takiah there. When she shows up on her grandma Ms Cleo’s doorstep with her daughter but without a Real Plan, you know something is about to go down, and it does. Ms Cleo tries everything in her power to get Takiah to straighten up her act, even going so far as to set up mandatory counseling sessions with her pastor, but Takiah doesn’t believe in that Jesus junk, and we soon can see why. God’s ways are not our ways, and His plans aren’t ours. No Weapon Formed Against Me Shall Prosper, it says in the Bible, but who or what is against Takiah? It's Way More than just her ex-husband. Has her past made her irredeemable or will she accept Salvation before it’s too late for her OR her daughter?


Woo Woo, Lexi’s Too Ghetto For Words sister, falls for the dentist she works for. With marriage in their future, Woo Woo can’t believe she made such a good catch. Too bad she can’t get Hassan out of her mind. Suburban living seems dull in comparison to the non-stop drama of Bentley Manor; plus, Woo Woo is afraid her new husband prefers the now dignified Woo Woo that she herself cannot stand. Will she risk her new found good life and continue creeping around with Hassan or will Woo Woo knuckle down and make the best of the life she really thought she wanted? And what dark secret about Hassan’s true identity are they both concealing? Will it blow up in Woo Woo and Hassan’s faces?


Keisha is Smokey’s Who Even Knew That Crackhead Had A Wife??? Trying to hold her family together while her husband steals their Couch Of The Month and the kitchen appliances that don’t even belong to them is slowly killing Keisha. Oh, she makes enough money doing hair in her kitchen, on paper anyway, but how much is enough when you have to keep replacing the same ish over and over again? Smokey’s brother Shakespeare, who lost the love of his life Devani at the end of <i>Desperate</i>, tries to provide much needed emotional and financial support to Keisha while Holding It Down for Smokey (the best he can anyway). He even finances Keisha's Beauty School, which brings out the Green Eyed Monster in Smokey. He's afraid she'll finally leave him. Will she? And is Smokey imagining things or are Keisha and Shakespeare really getting Way Too Tight???


Finally there’s Princess. Blessed with the voice of an angel and a BFF Lucky, these are the only good things going for Princess in a life jam packed with repeated molestations. Her cries for attention/tales of abuse fall on her mother’s deaf ears, and the only other person who believed Princess has since passed on. Princess wishes she could get over the trauma of her past and have a normal relationship with a boy, but as long as her mother has a “man” she knows she’ll never be safe. A chance encounter with an up-and-coming music producer seems promising. Will Princess’s dreams of R&B success come true or will her mother Queen eff up this opportunity also? And will Princess learn to forgive her mother, or is a darker, more ominous future in store for them both?


I am madly in love with the Bentley Manor franchise. Mink and Diamond never disappoint; and they have done Absolute Wonders with the often trite and hackneyed stereotypical ‘Hood scenarios. Their characters have a depth and breadth that is both refreshing and captivating all at once. No one does Hood Tales better. Best of all, SOMEone finally has a Happy Ending, solving my Number One Complaint about the first book. Run, don’t Walk, and pick up your copy now.
Next up: <i>The Hood Life</i>.

Born In The Streets but Raised In Prison: The Autobiography of our Young Generation By Tra Verdejo

Posted on January 26, 2009 at 10:04 PM Comments comments (1)

 

 

 

I don’t know how I missed the disclaimer on the copyright page but Born In The Streets is so gritty and authentic I honestly thought this was a true story. Trust and Believe this is a testament to Verdejo’s writing ability. Not only that: some of the events were eerily familiar. Real recognizes Real, and as the child of a drug dealer I’ve known/witnessed enough of the game to pronounce this story Certified. The word “Nietas” on page six alone made me smile with pleasure, something only an NY street kid with Puerto Rican roots can understand. No doubt Verdejo has seen his own fair share of the drug trade to weave this startlingly true-to-life cautionary tale.

 

 

Victor Davila bypassed the usual Nic’ & Dime petty hustle to become czar of a cold blooded million dollar multi state drug operation before his eighteenth birthday. Born in 1968 to heroin-addicted parents who died early in his life, Victor knew the streets were the only place he belonged. He and his siblings spent most of their early years with an elderly grandmother who was constantly harassed by child welfare workers because of her advanced age. When Victor’s role model, his older brother Carlos, is murdered on the train for his leather bomber (a common NY occurrence in the late 70‘s) , Child Welfare places the children in three different group homes. Six months later Victor quietly walks away from the group home and runs into Felix, the Cat Carlos used to work for. The next day Felix is carted off to prison but Victor escapes with a duffle bag full of Carlos’ money. He goes back to his grandmother’s, shocked that no one from the BCW even bothered to look for him.

 

 

More shocking is what’s in the bag: twenty “keys” of cocaine. His friend CPR (Crazy Puerto Rican) arranges for his uncle to buy two “keys” but the deal goes horribly wrong. Better off on his own, Victor recruits a few Ride Or Die ni99as including CPR and Cabeza, which means Big Head in Spanish, and starts peddling the stuff on his own. Five short years later Victor is head of the Young Kingpins; trafficking cocaine, weed and heroin citywide, upstate and in Virginia.

 

 

Having so much money you can’t fit it all in the safe (over a mil in one garbage bag alone) isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. For one thing, it won’t buy Victor (or Jefe as he is called, which means Boss or Chief in English) the name of the person who killed his brother. Victor’s been stabbed and shot. The love of his life, Carmen, is pregnant and wants to settle down, something Victor is vehemently against (he insists he‘d be a terrible role model because he‘ll never give up a lifestyle that only ends two ways: in jail or in the morgue), and his youngest sister Lisa wants to be Just Like Him. One of his people gets killed and another arrested in Virginia. His organization is embroiled in a gang war with the crew who shot him. And all this before the age of eighteen.

 

Victor’s well ordered world begins to crumble from the strain. Will Jefe give in to Carmen’s demands and decide to go legit or will the police catch up to him first? And what will become of Carmen and the baby if Victor doesn’t?

 

This thrilling roller coaster ride through the mind of a man convinced he was born to sell drugs is a must read for all lovers of street lit. Finally someone has done the genre right. There were only two places I thought strained credulity: one was how a twelve year old Victor sold drugs so easily without being harassed by other grown dealers and the other was where their upstate connect had two crackheads for runners.

 

Who the heck is gonna put drugs and/or money in a crackhead’s hands?

 

Who does that?

 

My What The Eff Sense was tingling off the meter. Every drug dealer’s tale is larded with grandiose overstatements of their accomplishments, so I thought that was the case here. Other than that, this was a surprisingly well crafted story that read like it was transcribed directly from interview tapes. Tra Verdejo earns a well deserved Playa’s Salute from Darkchild.

The Best Kept Secret

Posted on January 23, 2009 at 8:38 PM Comments comments (0)

This is the 3rd (?) book in the Reverend Curtis Black saga. In this installment, Reverend Black and Charlotte, the mother of his seven year old son Matthew, have been married for five years. Reverend Black has given up his wicked ways. The family now lives in a suburb outside of Chicago, where Curtis pastors Deliverance Outreach, a small up-and-coming church he and his wife founded. Although he’s not making any where near the money he made before his fall from grace, Rev. Black is far more satisfied, both spiritually and emotionally. Since the love of a “good woman” has changed him for the better, he has no qualms staying truthful to his wife.

 

 

Too bad Charlotte doesn’t feel the same way. Curtis is devoted to her just the way she’d imagined, and his relationship with his son is outstanding. Still, in her mind, this isn’t the happily-ever-after she signed on for. Charlotte has absolutely no interest in church business, outside of how much tithes-and-offerings are pouring in. Despite a good job of her own, Charlotte can’t stop feeling like Curtis isn’t keeping her in the style she expected when he was pasturing a large/“super” church. In fact, she spends money like water then becomes incensed when Curtis chastises her for it.

 

 

Dissatisfied, Charlotte begins a clandestine affair with Curtis’ best friend Aaron Malone. Unfortunately, Aaron falls madly in love with Charlotte. When she doesn’t cave into his demands that she divorce Curtis at once, Aaron correctly assumes it’s because he doesn’t make enough money and sets out to make Charlotte’s life a living hell. Not only does Charlotte have to deal with a now irate ex lover, there’s also the aftermath of revealing way too much of her past to him. How will Curtis react when he finds out the wife he’s pledged to be faithful to hasn’t been faithful to him? What dirty little secrets does Aaron disclose about Charlotte? And just what is the Best Kept Secret???

 

 

This wasn’t a bad book overall, though I’m sorry to say it just didn’t appeal to me. One in a Million was so much better than this. I kept reading until the end but like Charlotte, I came away feeling vaguely dissatisfied. In my opinion the story line didn’t break any new ground as far as the crazy ex is concerned, but since I’ve never read any of the Rev Curtis Black books maybe I wasn’t invested enough in the characters for this to be a non issue. After all, very few books, including my own, actually break new ground on their subject matter; it’s the way you feel about the characters that makes the difference.

 

 

I also felt Lawson Roby spent way more time telling us about the characters’ motivations than she did in One in a Million. Too much time. Telling instead of showing is a pet peeve of mine; the only thing that turns me off a book faster is crappy editing. Generally speaking, a character’s actions will let you know his motivation. I figured out 98% of what Lawson Roby told me on my own, and would have preferred to do so. On the other hand, I haven’t lost faith in Lawson Roby as a writer: I can’t wait to read her new book The Best of Everything. I’m gonna go back and read the other books in this series first though.

 

The Mpire: Death Cometh

Posted on January 10, 2009 at 11:19 PM Comments comments (0)

Mallory Towneson Haulm is back: bigger and badder than ever.
Okay, I sound like a commercial, but I?m Just Sayin though.
In Book One, Mallory faced two dilemmas: Join his family or remain on his own and
What to do about Matthew.
The family part was easy since Mallory signed some document which said if he didn?t become a part of Haulm Industries Company he would forfeit his own beloved Towneson Financial.
The Matthew part??? Oh man?where do I start? Completely unnatural to begin with, their relationship is complicated by so many outside factors. There?s Brielle, a female version of Matthew who?s convinced Mallory was fated to be her mate. There?s Stacy, the 19 year old virgin Mallory was forced to marry. Why? That?s another of those mysteries everyone seems to know except Mallory. And why can?t Mallory remember?
The most difficult obstacle to overcome however is Matthew himself. Matthew has always known Mallory?s true identity, yet Mallory doesn?t find out who Matthew really is until the end of book one, where Matthew?s fate is left up in the air.
Most of Book Two concentrates on Mallory?s relationship with his father and his family. It?s finally revealed why Malcolm hates Mallory so much, but even that is deeper than it appears to be. Is Mallory Malcolm?s son or isn?t he? And how much does Malcolm know about Mallory?s parentage?
There?s also an ugliness at the bottom of Malcolm?s abusive behavior. It culminates in an absolutely shocking revelation, and an even more hideous event, but the mystery of Mallory?s mental blocks is finally solved. In the meantime, Malcolm has refused to step down as Death, and the only way Mallory can take his rightful spot may be to kill his father. Despite the terror Mallory feels in Malcolm?s presence, there?s a part of Mallory that longs for a real father-and-son relationship with Malcolm. He?s determined not only to break Malcolm down and force him to step aside as the current Death, but also to force the man to love and accept him as one of his own. For the most part Malcolm is confused as to how Mallory could still love him at all after all the terrible things he?s done to Mallory. Mallory is also determined to break through the wall of disrespect and hurtful comments that stands between him and his oldest brother Marc. Meanwhile, Marc is on a quest to find and slay the Final. Since he wants Mallory (whom he views as weak and ineffective) dead anyway, will knowing Mallory is the Final make it easier for him?
Marc isn?t the only one sworn to kill the Final, though. Everyone thinks Matthew is dead, killed in a rage by Malcolm, but Matthew and Mallory know better. When Mallory?s wife Stacy turns up pregnant, Matthew and Mallory are the only two who know Mallory couldn?t possibly be the father. Appearing to have sired a child might temporarily hide Mallory?s identity as the Final from his family, but when Matthew demands his son back can Mallory sacrifice a child that means the world to him? And how can Mallory and Matthew fulfill their true destinies and meet in the ultimate battle if they can?t stop loving each other, even for a little while? Will Mallory be able to break it off or will he risk everything: his family, his fortune, the sanctity of HIC, even his life, for a forbidden few moments of pleasure?
Hat?s off again to author TL James and her incredible writing talent. A new publisher brings a much better edited manuscript to the fore, something the story that James has crafted truly deserves. In a more perfect world neither she nor I would have to use a nine- size font in order to make our work commercially viable. True readers would welcome the scope of our stories without Hators declaring, ?That?s a Big A$$ Book.?
After all: if kids around the globe will read a 700+ page Harry Potter book and Sistah Souljah can put out a 500+ page sophomore novel ten years after her debut, then why won?t readers accept a well written, witty book which delves into deep subject matter simply because it tops the 300 page mark?
In the words of that esteemed Negro philosopher Princess ?Baby Girl? Davis:
You figure.
Trinia, I?m eagerly anticipating Book Three.
Let A Sista Know?


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