Thursday, December 20, 2007


From Lori & her Daddy's Picture Collection
Christmas morning 196?

Yes, that's me from some long ago Christmas past. Not really sure how old I was, but I bet my Dad, who sometimes checks my blog, will know. He'll probably even tell me after he finishes complaining about me "stealing" his pictures again.

Notice the silver tree? Yes, we did have the color wheel that went with that bad boy. Even after we got rid of the tree we kept using the color wheel for years. Some of my best memories are lying beneath the Christmas tree with the lights out, watching the colors change--red, yellow, green, blue and while listening to the Jackson Five Christmas Album. Yeah, y'all don't know nothing 'bout that (smile).

Notice too the one present I'm obviously smitten with? Not the dishes, not the kitchen set in the box, not the stuffed dog or whatever the heck that is sitting on the table. Nope, for me it's always been about music and books. I may have mentioned this once before, but according to Moms when I was a baby (before I could walk or talk) my folks used to hand me books upside down and watch me cry until someone turned the book rightside up. They never could figure out how (and without the benefit of pictures) I instinctively seemed to know something just wasn't right. Funny how some things never change. I still don't much like my words turned upside down . . .

So hey, I'm off to celebrate the holidays with my peoples. Thanks for visiting and commenting. Thanks for making me laugh, think, ask questions and wonder why. A special thanks to those of you who've already pre-ordered my book. There's nothing like watching those Amazon numbers change (smile). If you enjoy it, I hope you'll share what pleased you about it with others. If you hate it, feel free to come back and tell me why. In any case, If The Good Lord is Willing and the Creek Don't Rise, I'll catch up with you all again in the New Year.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Yeah, I know. Shameless self-promotion, right? Well, at least I'm doing it over here in my own little spot and not junking up your in-box with it (smile). So humor me, all right? Officially, the book (After The Dance) doesn't make its debut in bookstores until April of 2008, which gives you plenty of time to at least give it some thought. So anyway, if you were going to buy my book, which one of following just might work for you?

1) If you pre-order now from Amazon, you'll get a really great discount. (Cheap is good, right? Okay, except when it comes to husbands, dates, boob-jobs and cars.)

2) You're in need of a new doorstop. (Can you say "multi-purpose?")

3) You feel sorry for me. (Hey, it worked for Sanjaya of American Idol fame.)

4) You enjoy my Thursday 13's. (Same kind of humor, slightly different format.)

5) You want to be among the first to trash it. (Okay, Mom if this works for you, what can I say?*smile*)

6) You typically enjoy romantic comedies. (Yes, wedged between the snarkiness and the over the top humor, there's actually an honest-to-goodness love story.)

7) You'll do anything to get me to shut up talking about it. (Hey, if you buy two or more, you won't hear another dang peep outta me.)

8) You routinely support new authors. (Okay, I've been around for a while, but this is my first book.)

9) You're curious to see how or if I pulled it off. (I am talking about the book . . . it's not even that kind of party.)

10) You're in the mood for a fun read. (No, it ain't all that deep.)

11) You're in need of an inexpensive gift. (Really, at $15.oo, it's practically a steal.)

12) You're a fan of music from the old school. (Old school, rules y'all! And there's plenty of it in my book.)

13) You want to be counted among the first to give it a thumbs up. (All joking aside, I am hoping that at least a few folks will enjoy my first full-length literary offering.)

Thanks for the indulgence. In today's competitive marketplace, a girl has to hawk her wares every chance she gets. At least that's what the publishing folks keep telling me (smile).

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here! The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Sunday, December 16, 2007


While blog hopping several weeks ago, I ran across a gem of a piece entitled "Things I've Learned Since My First Book Got Published." The writer, Cherie Priest, posted a list of 20 things she'd learned in the process of publishing her first book.

Even though my own debut novel is still several months away from hitting the shelves, I can already relate to most of the items on Ms. Priest's list. The following are the ones in particular that made me nod, smile, laugh and had me shouting "Oh so true!"

Priest: "Everyone will think you are rich: Obviously, if you got a book published, someone must have given you fat sacks of cash dollars American . . ."

(My comment: Not only will people assume such, some will be so bold or rude as to ASK about the amount of your advance. Please, if nothing else, do understand, that those six figure book deals you sometimes read or hear about are the EXCEPTIONS, not the rule. Most folks who score a publishing deal are not getting paid mega-bucks. So, if that's the only reason you're trying to write, I'd advise you to look for a more lucrative hustle.)

Priest: "No one will believe you did it by writing a book that was worth publishing. Aspiring writers will be sure you had a secret short cut and you are a raging bitch for holding out on all those other poor folks who are just as worthy as you . . ."

My comment: Why is it some folks want to believe all you need is to secure the right "hook-up" or association with the right person and/or persons and the rest will take care of itself? Maybe there are some folks who actually do brown-nose or bull-s&!t their way into book deals. But I'm inclined to think the majority took the same route I did-- you know, the one that starts with sitting one's butt down in a chair somewhere and writing until there's a finished product? And if you think that part is hard, there's really no need of discussing what comes next.

Priest: "You now have the inside track to publishing. Everyone you've ever known--even in passing--who has ever written a book now thinks it's your God-given duty to put them in touch with your agent/editor/publisher. This will get awkward."

My comment: Ain't that the truth! Again, it appears to be the ole "hook me up" phenomenon at play here. Folks you hardly know and whose work you've never even read want you to "hook them up" with your agent or the editor at your publishing house. Really, this is not the same as making a recommendation for a foot doctor, a plumber or a hair stylist.

When it comes to finding an agent, I really think it's best to do YOUR OWN research as opposed to asking me for mine (smile). Find out the names and the contact info for the agents who represent what you've written. Find out if they're currently taking on new clients. Write them a query letter describing your work, telling them about your background and possibly why you want them to represent you.

Okay, I don't mind you asking me how I got my agent, or even about our working relationship. If I like you and trust that you won't abuse the info (see the next item on the list) I may even give you her name (smile) but PLEASE DON'T ask me for her contact information. It's not my job to hook you up.

Priest: "People will use your name to lie. At least twice, other writers with whom I was peripherally acquainted approached my (now former) agent and told him that I'd recommended them."

My comment: Nothing shocks me any more. In this age of win at all costs, folks seem willing to say or do anything if they think it will get them ahead. This is one of the main reasons I avoid giving out detailed information about my agent and other literary contacts. I have yet to give the name of my agent on this blog, but any savvy Googler can easily find it. But for the record, I honestly haven't been with my agent long enough to feel comfortable recommending folks to her.

Besides, recommendations don't always work out. I got MY FIRST AGENT via a totally unsolicted recommendation from a well-intentioned associate. If I told you who that agent was and who else she represented, you'd probably be incredibly impressed. But even though she eagerly signed me, she, as it turns out, was SO NOT the right agent for me.

As I indicated, these were some of my favorites from Cherie Priest's 20 item list. If you'd like to read the others see: "Things I've Learned Since My First Book Got Published."

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Okay, ordinarily I'm a pretty peaceful person. But come on, aren't there some folks you'd just love to see put in a head-lock, spun around and pimp-slapped a couple of times? Nothing beats a good, old fashion thrashing. Well, the following is a list of "no holds barred' wrestling matches I'd love to see.

1) ROSIE O'DONNEL vs DONALD TRUMP (I'm fairly sure Rosie would aim first for the hair and the Don would go for the gut)

2) KIM BASINGER vs ALEC BALDWIN (I'm guessing lots of name-calling, hissing and spitting would go on here)

3) ANN COULTER vs ELIZABETH EDWARDS (Oh, if only to see AC get both the dark glasses and the smirk smacked off her face)

4) OJ SIMPSON vs DENISE BROWN & FRED GOLDMAN (This would, no doubt, earn a "fight of the century" billing)

5) BARBARA WALTERS vs STAR JONES (In the event of any wig/weave-snatching or clothes ripping, spectators would be strongly advised to shield their eyes)

6) MONICA LEWINSKY vs LINDA TRIPP (I'm sure there's still plenty of bad blood between these two . . . if not one really nasty dress)

7) NAOMI CAMPBELL vs ALL OF HER FORMER ASSISTANTS (First we'd have to ban from the ring any objects which could possibly be hurled)

8) RUDY GIULIANI vs DENNIS KUCINICH (Lots of rabbit punches and low blows)

9) T.O. vs DONAVON MCNABB (Don't blame me, this was my son's contribution)

10) SIMON COWELL vs PAULA ABDUL (Doesn't Simon looks like the type who'd fight a girl?)

11) COLIN POWELL vs DICK CHENEY (Are we ready to rumble?! Or possibly find those weapons of mass destruction?)

12) DIANA ROSS vs MARY WILSON (Talk about an old grudge! These two really do need to let it go or else duke it out once and for all)

13) PUTIN vs BUSH (I can see it now--Putin straight gangsta walking (Three 6 Mafia style) around the ring and Bush doing his usual imitation of Festus (of Gunsmoke fame). Pretty scary stuff, huh? But it sure beats the possible alternative.

Would you pay for a ringside seat at any of these? What other knock-down, drag-outs might you want to see?

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here! The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Football Baby! From Lori's Picture

Of course, the picture above was taken some years ago, on the back deck of our old home in Memphis. The kid is considerably older now and while most days he can still be found with a ball of some sort in his hands, he won't hardly allow me to dress him like that any more (smile).

The point is though (one of them anyway) I'm used to and prefer the type of fall & winter weather depicted above and below. The foliage has browned. The leaves have fallen. There is a discernable nip in the air at night. But the most you ever need during the day is a sweater to go over your regular attire or, if like this kid, you're still being dressed by your mama, a jazzy jogging outfit and a cool cap will do quite nicely (smile).
More Football Y'all!
From Lori's Picture

Lately, the weather here in Charlotte hasn't even called for that much. A couple of days ago, we turned off the heat and turned on the air. The temps have been in the mid-70's and are forecast to reach 77-78 at some point this week. And in case you're wondering . . . Yes, I am loving every minute of it!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


1) The people you help the most will generally be among the first to let you down.

2) A "sorry" however sincere, won't always make it right.

3) Cats don't generally do baths.

4) Not everyone who smiles in your face or showers you with praise has your best interest in mind.

5) If a kid looks like he's about to throw-up, he probably is.

6) Excessive bravado is typically a mask for fear.

7) Excessive anger is typically a mask for pain.

8) The people who tell you "I'll call you" or "We've gotta do lunch one day" but never follow through, aren't really your friends.

9) Paprika and red pepper are not interchangeable.

10) A "maybe" isn't the same as a "yes."

11) A life spent talking, planning and dreaming about all you're gonna do, is typically a life unlived.

12) Just because a woman has a big, protuding belly doesn't necessarily mean she's pregnant.

13) Just because a man has a big, protruding ______ doesn't necessarily mean he knows what to do with it. ( don't act like you don't know what goes in the blank*smile*).

Okay, I'm bad, I know (LOL). Of course, we all know when it comes to "lessons in life" 13 is just a start. If there are other lessons you'd like to mention, feel free to tack them on in the comments.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here! The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Friday, November 30, 2007


Well, there it is . . . the cover for my first novel . . . After the Dance. What do you think? I'd hope to showcase it on my web site first. But you know, things don't always work out the way you'd like (sad smile).

Oh, by the way, copies of the book are currently availabe for pre-order from Borders and Amazon, among others. Of course, you could also wait until the books make their official debut in stores in April of 2008.

If you are a bona fide reviewer and you'd like an advanced review copy, go to my profile page (look under my picture in the right hand corner), send me a request by email and I'll see if I can't hook you up. But you've gotta be a bona fide reviewer with a verifiable track record and not just somebody out looking for a freebie (LOL). Not that I'm totally opposed to freebies because I just might give a few away via a contest or two. We'll see.

Personally, I'm extremely pleased with the book cover art. I've long heard the horror stories about authors who hated their covers so much they broke down and cried or threw hissy fits when they first laid eyes on them. I'm happy to say that wasn't the case for me.

Interestingly enough, the good folks over at Dafina/Kensington actually asked me what I'd like to see on the cover. I mentioned a scene that takes place in downtown Memphis. It's raining and the couple are slow-dancing by the riverside. The way I envisioned it, the couple appeared in silhouette. And most of important of all, the Hernando-Desoto Bridge with its distinctive arching M's (for M-town or Memphis) was clearly visible. I even sent them a few photos of the bridge, so they'd have a better idea of what I was talking about. And Lo and behold, if Ms. Kristine Mill-Noble (Kensington's artistic director) and crew didn't absolutely NAIL IT! Not only do you have to love it when folks do right by you, if you have the least bit of hometraining, you doggone well oughta acknowledge it too. So again, THANKS Kristine.

Now, I may leave this up for a while. Not only because I like looking at it (LOL), but I need to take care of a few other projects. But in my absence, please feel free to comment. I'll be back soon to (among other things) tell you a little bit more about the book and why I think some of the fellas in particular will enjoy it even though it is very much a love story.

So until then . . . Peace & Blessings Y'all . . .
(Written while listening to, among other things "After The Dance" by Marvin Gaye and "Baby I'm For Real" by the Originals).

Monday, November 26, 2007

From Lori's Beachwood
Picture Collection

The small figure you see in the picture above is my son. He'd just been dropped off by the school bus and was trudging home through the snow. The covered vehicle is my poor car.

Snow and freezing temps are at the top of the long list of things I hated about my exile . . . oops, I meant my stay in the Cleveland area. But for probably 3 of the 4 years we lived in Beachwood (a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio) this is typically what our neighborhood looked like, not long after (and sometimes on) Thanksgiving Day. Even worse, this mess didn't usually leave for good until AFTER Easter. Come on. Those of us from the Delta know it's not supposed to be snowing after Easter, much less in freaking EARLY MAY. I'm SO GLAD those days are in the past. But even now, I still can't help but wonder how the early settlers of the area ever made it. And for those who did survive that first winter, what in the heck ever made them want to stay?

Last year in Charlotte, the one time the white stuff actually fell and the accumulation reached all of an inch, the kids got out of schools, several businesses shut down and the very next day, all of that crap had melted. Um-huh, now that's my kind of winter and my kind of town (smile).

From Lori's Beachwood
Picture Collection

Yeah, it's pretty . . . in pictures . . . and from a safe distance. But I must admit, I do kind of miss the scraping slide of the snowplows and the soft rumble of the salt trucks I used to hear late at night and in the still darkened, wee hours of the morning.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


I've suffered a series of disappointments of late. A number of friends, family members, colleagues and business associates, alike, have all let me down. But rather than use this space to rail against what I view as the blatantly disrespectful, unprofessional, uncaring and inept behavior of these folks (yeah, check my evil grin), I'm going to follow the advice printed across the front of one of my favorite t-shirts (and said to have been expressed by Mahatma Ghandi): "Be the change you want to see in the world."

So in keeping with that more enlightened frame of mind and and in this SEASON of THANKSGIVING I'd like to extend a heart-felt expression of THANKS to a handful of my fellow bloggers and posters whose unwarranted acts of kindness have recently brightened my day and given me reason to smile.

Malcolm / (of Pop Culture Dish Presented by Malcolm) I think I first "met" Malcolm while checking out somone's Thursday Thirteen. I followed his comments back to his blog and I've been hanging out there on a regular basis ever since. In addition to introducing me to the musical likes of Timi Yuro and cinema showmanship of H. Bogart, Malcolm is the main somebody responsible for my own recent full participation in the meme known as Thursday Thirteen. He didn't just encourage me to do it, he actually took the time to walk my lazy, grumbling butt, step by step through the process. Because of Malcolm, every Thursday (actually Wednesday night) my funny-bone is treated to a full work-out. THANKS MALCOLM. Here's looking at you, kid! (smile)

Emanuel Carpenter / I've been reading Emanuel's comments on AALBC for years now. Even though, for a time, we both lived in the Cleveland area, our "paths" didn't cross, until this past summer when our shared love of writing had us both commenting at a writer-friendly spot called "Blogging in Black," where Emanuel's guest pieces now appear on the 7th of every month. In addition to being a frequent commenter on my blog, and passing along invaluable information to me via email, recently, Emanuel surprised me when he mentioned in AALBC's THUMPER'S CORNER that one of the books he was looking forward to reading in 2008 was my novel, AFTER THE DANCE. What can I say? THANKS EMANUEL. Your day is coming.

Shelia Goss / With several books under her belt, Shelia Goss is very much a seasoned author. I'm not sure why she started visiting my blog (smile), but I certainly welcome her presence. She's linked to The Old School Mix on a couple of occasions and I hope to repay her the favor soon. Actually, I'm thinking of borrowing and adding my own spin to something she does on a regular basis at her Oh No Shelia Didn't blog called "OPB" or other people's blogs. THANKS SHELIA for both the on-going link love and for being an inspiration.

Pjzazzypar / I first noticed Pjazzy's comments while visiting Malcolm's Pop Culture Dish. Her observations are so on point and informative, I really think she should have her own blog (smile). Over the past couple of weeks, PJP has been kind enough to both praise my writing and chuckle at my off-the-wall humor. In my book, it doesn't get much BETTER or NICER than that. THANKS PJAZZY. Now, when are you getting that blog? I need another cool place to visit.

Sharon J. / Everyone deserves a friend like Sharon J. She's been visitng and posting comments on my blog since DAY ONE. When I asked if she'd write something on my blog about her recent trip to Ghana, she said, "Sure," and then actually followed through. A lot of folks will say, "Yes" to something only to turn around and make excuses for why they couldn't or can't honor their word. THANKS SHARON for being such a great supporter of my work and even more so for always being a woman of your word.

Michelle Petelinz / Michelle is someone I met in person last year, prior to bumping into her on- line. You may have checked out her blog Artventuring a time or two, but have you checked out her art? If not, take a look at these COLORFUL BOXES. Wouldn't they make great Christmas, Kwanzaa and Hanukkah gifts? (smile) When I saw Michelle, a couple of months agao at an art festival in Charlotte, she was kind enough to GIVE my son one of THESE. Cool, huh? THANKS MICHELLE. Keep up the good work!

Happy Thanksgiving Y'all! Don't worry, I'm sure in a couple of days this "Be The Change You Want To See" phase will have passed and I'll be back to griping and groaning and sharing all of the negative thoughts stomping around in my head. Until then . . . Peace & Blessings.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


1) The well-intentioned, but obviously clueless relative who insists on bringing the same nasty a$$ dish every year that nobody wants to eat.

2) The uncle who, instead of saying grace, delivers a ten-minute, mini-sermon.

3) The auntie who always smells like a right lethal combination of bourbon and Bengay.

4) The relative who insists on talking non-stop and in full detail about everybody's medical ailments, health issues, treatments and operations.

5) The greedy a$$ cousins who never bring anything, but eat like field hands and lumberjacks and take two and three foil-wrapped plates home.

6) The sticky-fingered relative you have to stop at the door and pat down and/or wand before he/she leaves.

7) The sticky-fingered relative's shifty-eyed friend, who you highly suspect may be casing your place and planning to come back later.

8) The dear old uncle who generally smells like a right rank combo of moldy, wet tobacco and burnt garlic.

9) The big-mouthed relative who, when he's not bragging about his exploits is telling the same lame, boring a$$ stories/lies he tells every year.

10) The kindly neighbor with the 25 house cats, dogs and/or rats who always wants to drop by with a homemade dish.

11) The sweet, little ole aunt who criticizes your every dish while steadily stuffing her face.

12) The bad a$$ kids or drunk male relatives who go into your bathroom and aim at everything, but the freaking commode.

13) The so-called good friend who only wants to come over so he/she can laugh at all of the fools in your crazy a$$ family.

Any comments or additions? If so, bring 'em on (smile)!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here! The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Sunday, November 11, 2007


This public service announcement is primarily aimed at those of you out there in blog-land who didn't cringe or frown when you read the words "playwriter" and "fictional novel" in the title of this post.

The proper term for someone who writes plays is "playwright" as I gently pointed out to the relative who proudly proclaimed himself his church's premiere "playwriter."

For the record, there is no such word as "playwriter." It's one of those made up words, like its ghetto cousin, "conversated." If you don't trust me, look it up for yourself. Unless you're using the New School Dictionary of Ebonics, I'll doubt if you'll find it. The same applies to "fictional novel." If you are currently using this term, for heaven's sake (as well as your own credibility and self-respect), please stop. Seriously, it readily marks you as someone who doesn't have a clue or a dictionary.

Short lesson here, so take notes. A novel is by definition a work of fiction. To insist on describing a novel as fictional is sort of like using the ebonics expression "kilt dead" or "killed dead," if you will. As much as I enjoy the playful use of language, I'll be d@m# if I ever get caught dialing up 911 and yelling into the receiver, "Send the police! Somebody got kilt dead over here!"

One day, years ago when I worked at the public library in Memphis, a gentleman, who fancied himself a writer, told me he'd come in to do a bit of research on his "non-fiction novel." I just nodded, smiled and said, "Uh-huh, good luck with that." Of course, besides wanting to laugh, I couldn't help but think, "What the ---?!"

Still not convinced? Okay, not long ago I watched a reality program on TVOne called "Stage Black." The show featured the playwright, David E. Talbert and his attempts to help a group of young actors break into the business. In the process of critiquing some of their work and upon noting how defensive they were becoming, he paused and said something that had me waving my hand and shouting, "Amen!"

Talbert explained that most people in the business weren't going to be as honest with them about their shortcomings. He said folks were going to let them make a plumb fool of themselves, only to shake their hands afterward, smile in their faces and assure them they'd be in touch. But as soon as they'd exited the theatre, that same director would frown and say, "Scratch him/her off the list and don't ever allow him/her back up on my stage again."

If you don't think that same kind of truth applies to those of us who are out here looking to be respected as writers and authors, you're fooling yourself. To borrow a phrase from the COS, "Come on people!" wake up, do you homework and stop trying to half-step.

Really, I'm not trying to be mean. We all fall short of the mark sometimes. I have no problems admitting that I'm a horrible speller, a lazy proof-reader and I could very well use a refresher course in the basics of grammar. But in addition to relying on my computer's spell check and keeping both a dictionary and an English text nearby, I've learned to accept being called out on my errors. After all, isn't that how you learn and grow?

So hey, if this post rubs you the wrong way, maybe next time, rather than hanging out here at the "Old School Mix," perhaps, instead you ought to dive into that "fictional novel" you've been planning to read. You know, the one written by your friend, the famous "playwriter?" (Smile)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


1) Okay, now what did you say your name was again?

2) Yeah, so after I'm finished with my probation . . .

3) Don't worry, the itching and burning doesn't last long . . .

4) Darn, I'm kind of low on cash. You think you could let me borrow (or loan me . . . or let me hold . . .)

5) No, seriously, the trailer . . . (or room in my parents' basement or the tricked-out mini-van, etc.) has a really nice hot tub . . .

6) My phone? Oh, that's just the wife calling to see where I am . . .

7) Oops, sorry, but I think it mighta broke . . .

8) You wanna come over? Mama and her dogs (or her cats or her ferrets or her goats or her ______ **you fill in the blank**) are generally fast asleep by now . . .

9) Funny, the woman I went out with last night said the exact same thing . . .

10) Soon as I get the flea (or the tick or the roach or the _____ ** fill in your vermin of choice **) infestation taken care of, I'll invite you over . . .

11) Did I ever tell you about the time I was on Jerry Springer? (or Maury Povich or Cops or Cheaters or _______ ** fill in your ignorant show of choice**)

12) Okay, I know it looks bad, but I'm really not all that contagious . . .

13) Holy crap! I think you mighta broke it . . .

Well, that's my list (smile). All comments and/or additions are welcome.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here! The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

IN PRAISE OF GOOD BLACK FATHERS . . . A Few Comments & A Call For Submissions . . .

Recently, while reflecting on "Carl" the male protagonist in my novel, After The Dance, I drew up a list of some of his more positive traits. The list included some of the following descriptions:

1) He's an old school romantic -- he draws a considerable amount of pleasure from love songs and slow dances;

2) He's hard-working -- he juggles a 9-5 at FedEx and a part-time handyman gig;

3) He's smart and goal-oriented -- he takes night classes & is working toward an MBA;

4) He's silly & fun-loving -- he appreciates the humor in life and isn't too proud or uptight to make a fool of himself every now and then;

5) He's a good father -- his children are, without a doubt, his pride and joy.

Of all the traits on my list, I think the last one may, ultimately, prove the most intriguing to many readers. In After The Dance, I paint a portrait of an adult Black male who not only provides for his children, but also plays and prays with them too. When was the last time you read about a brother like that? Much less saw one on television or at the movies?

There are some in the media, Hollywood, the publishing world, the music industry, society in general, and heck, even within the African American community who would have us believe the type of Black man I just described doesn't even exist. I know better. And as the saying goes, it's never a bad idea to "write what you know." (smile)

So for the most part, that's what I did in After The Dance. I wrote about Black men (and women) who though flawed and at times guilty of outrageous, if not down-right morally reprehensible behavior, are still basically good at heart, capable of seeing the error of their ways and open to changing for the better.

I come from a family full of men like my protagonist, Carl. Though not "perfect" by any means, most of them were/are hard-working, God-fearing, loving and devoted to their families. I'm also proud to say I come from several generations of Southern, working-class, but largely "intact" Black families. I grew up in a household with a Black father. My father lived in a household with a Black father. I grew up knowing both of my African American grandfathers. My own father grew up knowing both of his African American grandfathers, both of whom lived within walking distance of him and his siblings.

My grandfather and his children on an outing. My father is the babyboy seated on the bench. (From Lori's Picture Collection)

No, my father didn't come from Black middle-class, college-educated people. He came from Black Southern farmers and laborers, who though "land-rich" were by most standards "dirt poor." But the way some folks talk, people like me ought to somehow feel guilty about our so-called "privileged" upbringing. Well, forgive me, but I don't . . . not in the least.

My grandfather (mother's side) and my son.
(From Lori's Picture Collection)

What I do feel, I'm not ashamed to say, is special . . . thanks in large part to the presence of a loving, caring and supportive Black father (as well as a couple of grandfathers, a bunch of uncles and a slew of male cousins) in my life.

My Dad and my son. (From Lori's Picture Collection)

If you have a "poignant" story about a Black father you'd like to share, The Five Sisters Publishing Company out of Sacramento, California is looking for essays (350-1500 words) for their "Father's Project." The deadline is November 15, 2007. Authors of selected stories will receive a $25.00 honorarium, a copy of the book and a byline. Check out the following link "Our Black Fathers" for more information.

Friday, November 02, 2007

An Excerpt From "THEFT" by Lori D. Johnson . . . From The Best Of Memphis Anthology 2003 . . .
"Theft" is a story I wrote while living in Cleveland, Ohio. The story is set in Memphis and deals with an ill-fated trip to a grocery store and the severing of the bond between two cousins. The story appeared in the Best Of Memphis Anthology 2003, edited by Jeff Crook and published by Kerlak Enterprises, Inc.
A small portion of "Theft" is currently featured in Kerlak's "Reading Room." and follows the excerpt from Beth Boyett's "The Dead Money." If you'd like to read "Theft" in its entirety and/or checkout some of the other work featured in the collection, copies of The Best of Memphis Anthology 2003 can still be purchased from Kerlak, in bookstores throughout Memphis and through

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


1) "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job." (George W. Bush)

2) "I did not have sex with that woman." (William J. Clinton)

3) "I am not a crook." (Richard M. Nixon)

4) "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." (John F. Kennedy)

5) "Outside of the killings, Washington has one of the lowest crime rates in the country." (Marion Berry)

6) "My belief is, we will in fact, be greeted as liberators." (Dick Cheney)

7) "It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues." (Abraham Lincoln)

8) "Yee-aargh!" (Howard Dean)

9) "The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself." (Franklin D. Roosevelt)

10) "I've looked on many women with lust. I've committed adultery in my heart many times." (Jimmy Carter)

11) "There's not a punk bone in my body." (Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton)

12) "They misunderestimated me." (George Bush)

13) "The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are right sometimes." (Winston Churchill)

Do you have a favorite quote by a politician? Do tell--good, bad or ugly--even if it's not one on my list.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here! The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Sunday, October 28, 2007


The following are my definitions of the words and phrases I mentioned in a previous post. So when my novel After The Dance hits the shelves in April of 2008, don't forget you already have a reference guide here at the Old School Mix (smile).

1) bourgie: a less than flattering way of describing the middle-class; derives from the word "bourgeois."

2) chillren / chilluns: children

3) Christmas gift: a friendly Christmas greeting, like "Merry Christmas." The hubby swore only the old folks in my family used this particular expression until I showed him this reference in the Dictionary of American Regional English.

4) deef: deaf

5) haint: a ghost

6) hainty / haintey: stuck-up; haughty; uppitty

7) hey: hi; hello; how are you?

8) holped: helped (a couple of weeks ago, the hubby came home all excited about an NPR program he'd heard in which the word "holped" was actually discussed **LOL**)

9) knee baby: the next to the last child

10) main / mane: how many Black males in Memphis commonly pronounce the word "man"; this was one of the few things Brewer got right in the movie "Hustle & Flow."

11) mama 'nem: mama and them; one's relatives

12) mannish: a boy who isn't yet an adult, but who acts like one

13) roguish: bad; mischievous

14) sadiddy / saditty: stuck-up; self-righteous; arrogant

15) scound-bugga: a soundrel

16) sho' nuff: sure enough; also this is quite frequently used as a question or a version of the word "really" (Sho'nuff, girl?)

17) slobbed: slobbered

18) Sunday week: To be honest, I still don't know what this means (LOL). It refers to either this coming Sunday or the next.

19) trifling: shiftless; lazy; shady; no good

20) you (s) a tale/tail: you're a liar; you're lying

I appreciate all those who commented on the previous post. You all aren't as bourgie and sadiddy as I thought you were (smile). Seriously, thanks for sharing. I even learned a couple of new words and as we all know knowledge is truly power.

Saturday, October 27, 2007


From Lori's Pic Collection

Yes, in honor of my 100th post I changed my profile photo. Don't get too attached because I kind of like the old black and white baby pic and I just may go back and repost it at some point (smile).

The color photo is only a couple of years old. The twists in my hair are a little thicker and longer, but basically I think I look the same. My son snapped the pic and I'd say he did a fairly decent job of capturing the essence of ole Moms (smile).

One of my favorite things about the photo is the framed artwork in the background. The signed and numbered print is a piece entitled "Up All Night" and it is one of several I own by the Memphis-connected artists/brothers commonly known as "Twin."

I love how Terry & Jerry Lynn, who really are twins, capture the music, the vibrancy and the funky soulfulness of the Bluff-City and the Mid-South community. But what truly fascinates me about the twins is their ability to work on a piece simulateneously, (quite often standing side by side) as if they were of one mind. Cool stuff, don't you think?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


I'm early, I know. Halloween is another full week away. But I felt a need to air these particular feelings/grievances ahead of time. And now that I have, I feel so much better (smile).

1) DON'T send your kid out to knock on doors until you've first taught him/her proper Halloween etiquette. "Give me some candy!" and "Is that all you've got?" are not acceptable substitutes for "Trick or treat! and "Thank you."

2) If you're 13 years old or older and you're thinking about knocking on my door and asking for candy . . . DON'T . . . unless you're looking to be embarrassed or have the police called on your behind.

3) If you're thinking about letting little Ashley dress up like Peaches the stripper or Kitty the call girl, and calling it a costume . . . DON'T! That mess is SO NOT cute.

4) If you forget to buy candy, DON'T try to substitute those stale mints and those dried up sticks of gum that have been sitting in the bottom of your purse or in that dusty bowl in the living room forever. That's just nasty . . . and trifling.

5) If you're one of those anti-sugar freaks, DON'T pass out toothbrushes and dental floss--sheesh, just turn out the lights and keep your durn door shut.

6) DON'T send your child up to my house clutching one of those big, green, 30-gallon sized trash bags, unless he/she is pretending to be a sanitation worker. It's Halloween folks, not garbage pick-up day.

7) If you're sitting in the house in your drawers, getting your drank on, when the door bell rings, do us all a favor and just DON'T answer it.

8) DON'T pass out candy you had left over from Valentine's Day or worse yet, last Halloween.

9) If you notice that my porch light and all of my house lights are OUT or I've got a big a$$ neon sign on my door that says, "NO CANDY HERE!" DON'T bother to knock or ring my freaking doorbell.

10) If you see me out trick or treating with my kid, DON'T jump out the bushes and holler "Boo!" unless you're looking to get clubbed, maced or possibly even shanked. Mama DON'T play that.

11) If your religious beliefs prevent you from participating in Halloween, DON'T spoil it for the folks/heathens who do by passing out prayer cards, verses from Revelations or communion wafers.

12) If there's a thunderstorm or a blizzard or the weather man says there's a tornado, hurricane or a tsunami in the immediate vicinity, please DON'T show up at my door trying to trick or treat.

13) DON'T send your child out door-to-door on Halloween without a costume or at least some make-up. That's not trick or treating folks, that's just plain ole begging.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here! The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Monday, October 22, 2007


In my previous post, my good friend and Memphis "Go-To-Guy" (MR) expressed a bit of amusement at my use of the term "mama 'nem." Likewise, in another post, my use of the phrase "ripping and running" caught the attention of my Detroit-based internet pal, Malcolm (of Malcolm's Pop Culture Dish). I'd dare say, by now most regular readers of the OLD SCHOOL MIX have noticed my indulgence and delight in the "colorfulness" of the Southern Black vernacular. While I am quite capable of expressing myself in the "King's English," whenever I can get away with it, I generally opt to go another route.

There have been occasions in the past when my word choices have proved slightly problematic, particularly for those readers (and listeners) unfamiliar with my Memphis brand of Southern Ebonics. So I thought it might be fun, if not somewhat educational, to post a list of words and phrases I've heard used by African Americans who hail from Memphis and/or the Mid-South tri-state area (specifically SW Tennessee, NW Mississippi & NE Arkansas).

Oh, I bet some of y'all thought all Black Southerners chewed up and spat out the language in much the same way, huh? Yeah, well, while some things carry over, there are quite a few regional differences. For instance, the folks from East Tennessee have more of a noticeable "twang" in their "thang" than those who hail from West Tennessee. On the other hand, a lot of Memphis folks are known for what my friend MW, a communications instructor, describes as a "mumble."

Anyway, let's get to the list. How many of the following words and/or phrases do you know? How many do you use? I'll give my own definitions and responses in a future post.

1) bourgie

2) chillren / chilluns

3) Christmas gift

4) deef

5) haint

6) hainty

7) hey

8) holped

9) knee baby

10) main / mane

11) Mama 'nem

12) mannish

13) rougish

14) sadiddy / saditty

15) scound-bugga

16) sho' nuff

17) slobbed

18) Sunday week

19) trifling

20) you (s) a tale / tail

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


The October 2007 issue of O Magazine contains a nice article about a writing group called "The Finish Party." The eight member San Francisco Bay area group meets once a month, even though several of the members have to commute from LA in order to participate.

I came away from the article both a bit envious and with a renewed sense of hope about such endeavors. Over the years, dating as far back as my freshman year in college, I've been aligned with several different writing groups. My own experience with such groups has ranged from truly horrific to decidely mixed at best.

Sometimes the primary issue was simply a matter of conflicting interests and/or objectives. But more often than not, my own lack of patience with what I perceived as too much unadulterated bull crap came into play.

No doubt, some of the items on the following list (Twenty Signs That A Writing Group / Workshop Isn't For Me) are bound to rub some folks the wrong way. My reponse to that is . . . "Oh well." As I've mentioned before in the Old School Mix, what to me may reek like ten day old boiled cabbage, may to some one else have all of the savory appeal of birthday cake with ice-cream. It's just an opinion folks and one of the best things about living in the US of A is that we're each entitled to our own.

Anyway, this list is in no particular order, but the existence of more than one or two of these items in a group and on a regularly occurring basis will generally lead to the swift end of my participation.

1) The group is over-run by folks writing ghetto / gangsta / street / pimp /'I don't wanna be a freak but I can't help myself'/ type of lit. (Sorry, that's just not my kinda crowd.)

2) Lots of praise is given, but no real critique or discussion ever takes place. (Seriously, if all you want to hear is how great your work is, your best bet is to keep showing it to your Mama 'Nem.)

3) The group acts like it doesn't know how to function in the absence of its leader. (You know, where there is a set "game plan" this typically doesn't happen.)

4) Bad information is routinely passed of as fact and/or "The Truth, The Way and The Light." (Dag people, just 'cause the leader of the group or the dude with 20 self-published books under his belt or the wanna-be-editor who's out to take the rest of your money said "it," doesn't make "it" Gospel. Learn to double check stuff and solicit other opinions. Sheesh, when all else fails "Google."

5) The first thirty minutes to an hour is spent waiting on late arrivals. (Why? Am I the only one who thinks life is too short and my time too valuable to waste on folks who've obviously decided they have better things to do?)

6) No one knows when or where the next meeting will take place. (Ah, yeah, sounds like a plan to me.)

7) The consumption of food, liquor and/or weed appears to take higher priority than any actual writing, critiquing or discussion. (Gotta love those priorities, don't cha?)

8) Group members appear more interested in attending and scheduling events and selling their work than working on craft. (This is one of my major pet peeves. Sorry, while I can certainly see the benfits of such for some, every now and then, I'm simply not interested in doing marketing, making money or bringing attention to myself under the guise of providing a service to the community.)

9) Group members are strongly encouraged, instructed and/or required to dress alike. (Huh? Say what? Sorry, as one who treasures her individuality, just the thought repulses me. One reason I never wanted to join the Girl Scouts is because I hated those doofus-looking--oops--I meant, those cookie-cutter outfits.)

10) The group is over-run with groupies, star-gazers and brown-nosers. (In general, these types get on my nerves anyway. But in a group setting their presence is particularly distracting and annoying.)

11) There is no real accounting of the monies being collected. (Yeah, this always makes me want to hum a few bars of Prince's "Thieves In The Temple.")

12) A lot of time is devoted to writing exercises. (Really, if I wanted to do exercises, I'd sign up for a class, preferably one where I'd get a grade for my efforts. Sorry, but for me this typically feels like a huge waste of a group's time.)

13) The group has an on-line presence (or website), but very few people know how to access it or it is extremely difficult to do so. (To me, this is a sign that the parties involved don't really care).

14) The group leader is consistently late, missing in action or unprepared. (Is it just me, or does the lust for power and incompetence frequently appear to march hand-in-hand?)

15) Non-writing participants routinely critique the work of writing participants. (I'm saying, why are non-writing participants even in the group?)

16) Newcomers are never given any specific written information about the group--no rules or by-laws, no agenda, no member contact information, no meeting schedule. (I'm cool with a casual, laid-back style, but to me this is the mark of a group who isn't really serious.)

17) The poets in the group out-number those writing fiction. (Okay, I like poets. Some of my best friends are poets. But I don't really know a lot about writing poetry. Likewise, most poets don't really know a lot about writing fiction. Come on folks, lets keep it honest and real. Aren't we supposed to be helping one another?)

18) The leader dictates, delegates and castigates those who refuse to adhere to his/her personal program and/or agenda. (This may work with weak-minded, easily impressed folks who are open to drinking the Kool-Aid, but I'm grown and I'm neither easily enamored nor readily led.)

19) Members full of excuses and reasons why they NEVER have any work to submit to the group for critique. (Keep it real, y'all. Writing isn't a spectator's sport. Either you're committed and ready to do the damn thing or you're not.)

20) The group is primarily made up of self-published authors. (Nothing personal. I've just noticed that the goal of a lot of self-pub folks appears to be perfecting what they obviously view as little more than a hustle . . . rather than learning what it takes to improve their writing and story-telling skills.)

Again, to be clear, just because the things I've listed don't work for me, that doesn't necessarily make them bad. Feel free to share some of your own thoughts . . . even if they don't exactly jibe with mine.

Monday, October 15, 2007


The following is a version of a concept I stumbled upon the other night while browsing Community Live Journal's "Blackfolks" blog. For the purposes of the "Old School Mix," I added a couple of my own unique spins to the idea.

The Task: Select three musical artists (acts or groups) who you'd like to see perform in your very own "dream concert" and chose a venue for the performance.

The Limitations: The concert can only last 2 hours and you are only allowed to choose performers who are no longer with us . . . yeah, that's right, they have be to dead.


The ARTISTS I'd choose for my dream concert: Phyllis Hyman, Luther Vandross and Marvin Gaye.

The PLACE would be in Memphis, Tennessee at either the Orpheum Theatre or the Mud Island Amphitheatre.

The SET-UP: I'd have Phyllis open up the concert with a thirty minute jazz- flavored set. Luther would follow her with thirty minutes of his R &B hits. Of course, Marvin would come on stage and turn it out with thirty minutes of his hits from the 60s, 70s and 80s.

But the highlight of the show would be the last thirty minutes when I'd have all three grace the stage simultaneously. Talk about a blend of voices. The duets alone would be out of this world! Think about it . . . Phyllis & Luther . . . Phyllis & Marvin . . . Luther & Marvin. And all three together? Something tells me I'd feel like I'd died and gone to heaven (smile).

So given the task and the limitations, WHO would perform at YOUR "DREAM CONCERT"? WHERE would it take place? Who would go on FIRST? SECOND? THIRD?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


1) When you realize "C" students really do rule the world.

2) When you discover ministers, priests, pastors and the like, are capable of lying, cheating, stealing, committing adultry, beating their wives, preying on children and other immoral acts.

3) When you accidently see your grandmama topless.

4) When you realize you and everyone you love will one day die.

5) When you discover liars and cheaters can and often do win.

6) When you realize evil is real and often lives a long time in the world.

7) When you discover life isn't really fair.

8) When it dawns on you that your parents do "it" or if they're older have the nerve to still be doing "it."

9) When you discover, not only do you not know most of the answers, you don't even know half of the questions.

10) When you realize a lot of people mistakenly believe they can actually sing or rap or dance or act or properly raise a kid or lead you to the promised land or ( ______ ) fill in the blank.

11) When you realize the life you dreamt in your youth, will most likely never happen.

12) When it dawns on you that this baby really does have to come out of you some kind of way.

13) When you discover that the words "one nation, under God, indivisible and with liberty and justice for all" are more of a wishful thought than an actual reality.

Any others you want to add? Be my guest. Just remember, this isn't HBO or Cinemax or any of those late night, boot-leg cable tv programs . . . so please, try to keep your "shocking moment" comments PG13 (smile).

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here! The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

GUEST BLOGGER . . . SHARON JEFFERSON . . . (aka the Old School Mix's "Sharon J.") PART III
GHANA 2007
From Sharon Jefferson's
picture collection
My Trip To Ghana (by Sharon Jefferson) . . . continued . . .

Every African-American, no, every American should pay a visit to the slave dungeons at Cape Coast. My cousin Melvin out of Chicago didn't lie when he forewarned me that I would be in tears witnessing where my ancestors were held captive before being sent to the Americas--only six percent came to the United States our tour guide said.

Our group toured a small cave-like room where slavers kept the males, who in some cases had to walk in shackles as far as 200 miles just to get there. American Legacy magazine reports that as many as 500 were crammed in the room, which appeared to me to be about the size of a living room of a moderate size home. Only a beam of light came through a small opening high on one side of the wall. There was an opening on the opposite side of the wall, through which food would be thrown. Boys as young as eight had to fight with men as old as thirty-two over scraps. The dark, damp dungeon served as a dining room, toilet and bedroom for the captives.

They stayed between three weeks to three months, according to American Legacy. The males who were considered "unruly" were sent to the condemned room and left to die. Males were seperated from the females, who endured many of the same indignities. I know some Blacks who are either in denial or ashamed to admit they had slave ancestors. There are some, Blacks and non-Blacks, who see having a slave legacy as a sign of inferiority. I think visiting slave dungeons will help many realzie what strong people Africans in the Disaspora must be to have forebearers who were able to survive the misery of the entire slavery process.

Being in the midst of the Ghanaians was like visiting West Mifflin, Pa.-- where practically everyone in the town is related to me. The Ghanaians look a lot like their cousins here in the United States. Seeing them gave me more of an appreciation for the beauty of dark skin. Ghana seems to have a young demographic. I didn't see many people older than their early 30s. Grown and sexy women, i.e. women 40-plus, were referred to as "mommy." Out of shape, Buddha belly folks, like me were a rarity. They were in great shape without ever seeing the inside of a gym or taking a Pilates class. Our group was often served fruit for dessert. Even the pastries served in the hotel had very litte sugar. Much of the Ghanaian diet is similar to that of Black West Indians. They eat a lot of rice and plantains. The hotel where some of us stayed served a drink similar to ginger beer for breakfast and another place served a delicious goat meat stew.

The areas of Ghana our group visited had a mixture of modern buildings and homes and rural dwellings. One of the villages we visited called Etomdome, had mud huts and straw roofs. Chickens and two-foot tall goats roamed freely. The villagers held a naming ceremony for us. I was given the name Akua, which means born on Wednesday. Our group brought school supplies for the children, who attend classes in a one-room schoolhouse. Teachers don't hand out many perfect attendance awards in the villages; often the children have to miss school to work to help support their families. Before we left the village, our gracious hosts treated us to bananas and coconut juice.

Little boy preparing Fu Fu

Ghana 2007

from Sharon Jefferson's

picture collection

There's a surplus of talented people in Ghana who cannot reach their highest potential because there is no system in place to do so. They've been let down first by their unsanctified British colonizers and later by leaders who have been running the country since Ghana's independence in March of 1957. For example, construction is underway to replace the presidential palace with a new 50 million dollar one, when in my opinion, the money could be better used to improve the country's water and sewage system for example. Still, Ghana remains politically stable. Let's understand that it takes generations to get a nation-state running smoothly. Remember, the United States had a Civil War less than 100 years after our independence.

Besides, Ghana is about to come up. She recently has been blessed with the discovery of 600 million barrels of oil off its shores. Let's pray that Ghana's President John Kufuor's desire to see Ghana become an "African tiger" economically, with all the money the oil will generate, comes true.

One of the highlights of my trips was a vist with King Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofari Panin who leads Akyem Abuakwa--the Eastern Region of Ghana. He held a special reception for our group. He had only recently become king after living several years in the United States. He was hesitant about taking on that role, but his mother insisted that it was his duty to come back home and serve his people.

He spoke eloquently about the relationship that he would like to see developed with Africans and African-Americans. He said "Africa wants your solidarity, not your pity." He related Black Americans' experiences to that of Joseph in the Bible. He was taken from Canaan to be a slave in Egypt. After gaining his freedom he prospered and shared his blessings with his brothers who were facing challenges in their family's motherland.

Just like any family, we help our brothers or sisters out and tomorrow they may have to bail us out. You never know when you might need a cup of oil.

Thanks Sharon for sharing your Ghananian experience with the visitors of the Old School Mix. I'm sure Sharon would be delighted to repond to any questions or comments OSM readers might have about her trip. The following is a link for more information about the National Book Club Conference.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

GUEST BLOGGER . . . SHARON JEFFERSON . . . (aka the Old School Mix's "Sharon J.") Part II

"Women carrying nuts"
from Sharon Jefferson's
picture collection
Ghana 2007

by Sharon Jefferson

The announcement that I was going to Ghana in West Africa garnered some very interesting responses. Most people were positive and understood why I would want to go to a country that could very well be the home of my ancestors. Some thought that I might be doing missionary work or perhaps going on a safari. Others were just downright negative and wanted to know why I would want to go to such a disease-infested place.

When I arrived in the capital Accra, I didn't find people who needed to be ministered to. Nor did I find a nation full of sickly, frail people, where babies walked around with bloated bellies and flies in their eyes. What I found were vibrant, healthy people who weren't afraid to show a deep reverance for God. I spent a glorious week in Ghana this past August as part of the National Book Club Conference. Apart from the book conference, which included a dinner honoring prolific author Bernice L. McFadden for her body of work, most of our time was spent touring villages, shops and historical landmarks in Ghana. Here are are just a few observations I made regarding the country and its people:

The Ghanaians really know how to get their hustle on. It was not unusual to see men and women weaving through Accra's thick early morning traffic carrying heavy baskets, bowls or pots filled with fruit, nuts or water on their heads. I saw a brother walking with a sewing machine on his head, and he carried it with the coolness of a cootie from Cleveland strutting along Kinsman Avenue in a Kangol felt cap.

An entrepreneurial spirit permeates the capital and parts of the country where we traveled. The streets were lined with all types of businesses selling such items as clothing, hand-made furniture and even old appliances. I saw one lot with nothing but old refrigerators. Casket making seems to be big business there. Many of the businesses have some type of Christian reference to God in their title. There might be the Blessed Assurance hair salon on one side of the street and God's Will Be Done restaurant on the other side. Forty percent of the population is Christian and another twelve percent are Muslim, according to information from the Ghanaian embassy in Washington D.C

We shopped at a well-known retail spot called the Art Center where we spent our Ghana Ceis (one amonts to $1.06) on snake-skinned purses, Kente cloth, wooden Ashanti stools and drums. One woman, obviously trying to win salesperson of the month, grabbed my hand before I barely had the chance to exit the bus, sat me down in a chair and attempted to do a hard sell. Unfortunately, she didn't have anything that interested me so I moved on to another section. Haggling over prices is encouraged. It got to be a game for me. At one point, I exhausted myself trying to get the price lowered on a jewelry box I wanted, but to no avail. I was so anxious to get some kind of deal, that when the salesman offered a slight discount on another item I bought, I realized later I probably paid more than I should have.