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