Monday, April 28, 2008

TODAY'S CULTURE OF CELEBRITY . . . AND ALL THAT CRAP . . .

"I've always thought there are two kinds of celebrities. There are people who really want to be celebrities. There are other people who want to be good at their craft. The ones who want to be famous are the ones who you hear about all the time. The ones who are studying and honing their craft have to do that out of the spotlight. You can't learn anything when you're out (in the spotlight) all the time."
Johnny Mathis (The Charlotte Observer, April 25, 2008)

Outside of the Old School Mix, I really didn't tell a lot of people about my recent television appearance. Make no mistake, I told those who didn't already know about the book (After The Dance) and shared with them all of the details about the two signings I had scheduled while in Memphis. But the TV and radio stuff, I left to others, like my proud hubby who called up just about everybody and their mama's (LOL).

Those who know me well understand that I'm fully content being in the background. I have no real desire to be in front of the somebody's camera or even behind somebody's mike (my dream of being a DJ fizzled a long time ago). I'm more than willing to step aside and leave the place on the stage marked as "the center of attention" to the more spotlight hungry.

Ain't it funny how those things you enjoy the least, often seem hell-bent on chasing you down? When I worked at the public library in Memphis, seemed like somebody was always sticking a camera in my face: on one occasion, I had to do an impromptu TV promo for the library's Magazines/Newspapers department and on another, I had to do a televised spot for an African American film festival I'd helped coordinate.

Shortly after my son learned that I was going to be on television, he struck up a loud chant of, "Mama's gonna be famous! Mama's gonna be famous!" Every couple of hours, he'd break into another round and finally I asked him, "Are you still gonna love Ole Moms even if she isn't famous?" Of course, being a good son, who loves regular meals, clean clothes and on-call chauffering, his answer was a resounding, "Yes!" (LOL)

I suppose, among other things, the point I'm trying to make is, I love writing and certainly, I love it all the more when folks find what I write entertaining and enjoybable. But I've never had a desire to be thought of as famous or a celebrity. I've never set as my goal "getting rich" from my work. Now, I would love to see some of my work on the big screen, but the satisfaction I would derive from doing so doesn't necessarily have a dollar sign or a certain number of zeroes attached to it. Sorry, if that disappoints, but I'm just simple like that (pun intended *smile*).

A lot of what I despise about today's arts scene (whether literary, theatrical, musical or otherwise) is the whole "15 minutes of fame" and "everybody's entitled or dang well oughta wanna be a star" notion. Bump that. Rather than doing some of everything (whether legal or illegal; moral or immoral; outrageous or just outright dumb) in order to draw attention to themselves, I really wish more folks (both artists and non-artists) would follow the advice shared in the quote above. Obviously, it's worked well for the 72-year-old crooner, known as Johnny Mathis. He's been in the game for fifty-two years and he's still going strong. Not only does he still perform, he can still draw a decent size crowd.

Think about some of today's more popular singers, writes, musicians, actors and the like. Who, among them, will still have a viable career, be in their right minds or even drawing a breath in the land of the living ten to fifteen years from now? Of course, nothing's promised and anyone of us could get hit by a bus tomorrow. Moreover, a lot of today's youngsters wouldn't know Johnny M. or likely be at all impressed by him, even if he turned up butt-naked on their favorite reality show, but I'm just saying . . .

Thursday, April 24, 2008

LET'S TALK ABOUT SEX, BABY . . .

Uh-huh, got your attention, didn't I? (smile). Shame on you. You know good and well it's NOT that kind of party up in here (LOL). Okay, I do want to talk about sex in literature and more specifically, your preferences as far as what you might consider too much or too little; too explicit or not explicit enough.

I've been amused by some of the comments folks have been making about After The Dance as far as the love scenes are considered. (What?! Your book contains love scenes?!) Ah, yeah, it is a love story and one called AFTER The Dance, no less . . . Anyway, folks appear to be falling into one of two camps when it comes to their thoughts on the matter--either the book wasn't quite steamy enough for them OR they found it a bit too steamy.

Personally, I don't think the book is steamy at all. On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the hottest, I'd rate it about a 4-5. Really. But then, I've read a lot, seen a lot, done a . . . (LOL). Okay, let me stop. After The Dance is a humorous look at love, and do note the emphasis on humor, as opposed to anything hot and/or heavy. I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the novel contains a total of two make-out scenes and two love scenes, none of which, in my view, are terribly explicit or contain details of a graphic nature.

Yet and still, I've informed my own young'n that he's to go nowhere near this particular novel until he's at least sixteen. Of course, if he's anything like me, I'm sure by age sixteen he will have snuck and read all of the so-called juicy parts and, if he's so inclined, moved onto trashier and nastier things (LOL). Forgive me y'all, I'm just a realist when it comes to certain things.

I'm sure I'll get plenty of flack for saying this, but IMHO, a lot of today's so-called urban-lit and/or erotica is really porn with a loose plot thrown in for good measure. Hey, the market is what it is and I, for one, believe GROWN FOLKS have a right to read whatever it is they enjoy, be it porn or poetry and without a whole lot of snide commentary from the ivory-tower thriving, self-appointed book police. But the other truth is, I'm not interested in writing porn, poetry, urban-lit, street-lit, chick-lit or romance. (What?! I thought After The Dance was a romance novel?!) Ah, NO, even though I often describe it as a "romantic comedy," I view it as a love story, NOT a romance, in the traditional sense. There is a difference.

So what say you? Do you think today's literature contains too much sex? If you do, what, in your opinion, is too much sex? (too much emphasis? too many scenes? too many details? way too graphic?) Are you satisfied (no pun intended *smile*) with the amount of sex in the books you read?

If you've had a chance to read After The Dance, what did you think about the love scenes? Did you find them too steamy? Not steamy enough? Did you think there were too many scenes of the "hot & bothered" variety? Would you have liked to have seen more?

The floor is now open. Feel free to discuss . . .

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

MORE SIGNINGS FOR AFTER THE DANCE . . . NEXT STOP CHARLOTTE!
See below for details of upcoming signings in Charlotte for the month of May.
Me, Ayo, Martin & Tam
at Davis-Kidd signing in Memphis
From Lori's Picture Collection
April 2008

On Saturday May 10, 2008 from 2:00-3:00, I will be signing copies of my debut novel, After The Dance, at Park Road Books (located in the Park Road Shopping Center, 4193 Park Road ) in Charlotte, N.C.

On Friday, May 16 from 12:00-1:30, I will be signing copies of my debut novel, After The Dance, at Joseph-Beth Booksellers (located in the Southpark Mall, 4345 Barclay Downs Drive) in Charlotte, N.C.

I'm waiting on confirmation of an additional signing in Charlotte for May. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

PART TWO . . . MORE FAVORITE PICS AND PEEPS FROM THE MEMPHIS BOOKSIGNINGS FOR AFTER THE DANCE . . .
Da Handsome Nephews who insisted
on taking a picture with their "auntie" Da Author.
From Lori's Picture Collection
April 2008
Lori & Cousins.
From Lori's Picture's Collection
April 2008
Holding the book is my cousin Punkin who no longer
wants to be called Punkin (LOL). Next to me is my cousin Joyce, who looks
like she could be my sister rather than Punkin's (smile).
From Lori's Picture Collection
April 2008
="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_3_UryYRRcPo/SApjBbe9AgI/AAAAAAAAAFg/8ss4CQehXXE/s1600-h/Me+%26+Cuz+Mike.jpg">

Me and my Cool Cousin Mike, who recently earned

his MPD major's badge.
From Lori's Picture Collection
April 2008
One of my Memphis neighbors.
From Lori's Picture Collection
April 2008
One of these young'uns took quite a few of the pictures at
his Mama's signing. From Lori's Picture Collection
April 2008
Me at the end of a long day.
From Lori's Picture Collection
(April 2008)
SOME OF MY FAVORITE PICTURES AND PEEPS . . . FROM THE MEMPHIS BOOK SIGNINGS . . . (Part I)

Okay, so it's like this--I could stand to lose 30-40 . . . okay possibly even 50 lbs and probably ditch as well what one of my good friends calls the "holiday hair" (LOL), but you know, it is what it is. As my friend Charlotte told me once a long time ago, the folks who really love and care about you are always going to see past all of that.

Also, let me apologize ahead of time to those whose picture didn't make it into this blog piece. Really, there were just too many of y'all. I'll try to include you the next time out.

Pictures from the Davis-Kidd Signing for After The Dance
from Lori's Picture Collection
April 2008
Me and one of of my best sister-friends, Charlotte.

Me and Joy, the romance-reading friend from the library

who helped inspire the creation of After The Dance.

Me and Cathy, a friend who worked in Magazines & Newspapers with me back in the day.
Lori and The Always Cool Griff at The Davis-Kidd Signing.
Pictures from the Barnes & Noble Signing of After The Dance
from Lori's Pciture Collection
April 2008
Me And My G0-to-Guy Michael at the Barnes & Noble Signing in Memphis.
April 2008
Katie, a friend from my Memphis public library days.
Karen, one of my very first fans from back in the day (smile).
A new fan

Wait, is the line to the door?

Me and some members from my old church in Memphis.
From Lori's Picture Collection
April 2008

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

THE MEMPHIS BOOK SIGNINGS . . . FOR AFTER THE DANCE . . . WOW!

On Saturday, April 12, 2008, I held two signings for my debut novel, After The Dance. More than 50 folks showed up at both events--approximately 51 at the first one and 58 at the second. According the my calculations, close to 100 (99) copies of After The Dance were sold and signed within the span of 4 hours.

Forgive me for being glib, but really I have to say this to the bookseller who declined to arrange a signing of my book at his store because in his words, Memphis isn't a big enough town for two launch parties . . . What the?! Who said anything about?! Anyway, maybe, just maybe what's lacking in size Mr. Bookseller Ole Boy is your vision. Free your mind and your @$$ just might follow (LOL).

In any case, there are a few things I will definitely do differently the next time out. We actually ran out of books at the 2nd signing--something which could have been easily avoided, but that's all right. Like I said, now that I know who's willing to work with me and who's not . . . (LOL).

Hey, it was and is still all good (smile). Approximately 20 minutes into the 2nd affair when it looked like we were about to run out of books, my quick thinking niece and sister-in-law called the bookstore at the mall across the street. On locating another ready supply, they went and bought a handful and brought them back over for me to sign. A couple of other folks did the same. Wow! How's that for being "resourceful?" You've gotta love it, dontcha? Shortly after that little stunt, another boxful of my books suddenly materialized (LOL).

A great big ole shout out to everyone who bought a book and/or in some way lent their time, energy and support to making the launch of my debut novel in Memphis a success. Thanks for helping me prove that Memphians of all racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds will turn out and support a sister who dares hold two book signings at two different venues on one day (smile).

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

A FEW MEMPHIS SHOUT-OUTS . . .

According to mama 'nem and all of the other folks who called me afterward, my News Channel 3 TV interview went over well.

Shout-out to Channel 3's Marybeth and Chris for making me feel so comfortable and inviting me in the first place. Gotta love the Memphis love.

Big shout-out to my North Memphis confidante, Dee-Dee (aka, my hair dresser of over twenty years). My hair is much longer than the picture posted on my blog and I really can't do much with it. But not only did Dee-Dee hook my hair up on short notice, the day before my interview, she came down to the studio (on her day off) the morning of my TV appearance and worked some more of her magic. Thanks girlfriend. Like I said, ain't nothing like that Memphis love.

Shout-outs are most definitely in order for my cousin from Philly, Mary, who keeps trying to get me to come up there for a book signing. She bought 10 copies of After The Dance and has her book club reading it. I keep telling her, next year, I'm trying to do my Southern thang at the moment, but she's not trying to hear it (LOL).

A couple of other multiple copy shout-outs are due for my friend Alice Faye and one of my Mama's friends, Ms. Alfredia. My girl Alice bought 7 copies and passed them on to friends and relatives and Ms. Alfredia said she was looking to purchase 2o. What can I say? Actions like those from folks who aren't even blood kin, can only be called blessings. Thanks y'all.

Shout-out to my cousin Michael who works for the Memphis City Police Department and who got promoted to Major on yesterday. You looked good up there, boy, getting pinned with that badge. Now when are you gonna show up on 48 hours? (LOL).

Shout-out to the University of Memphis Tigers who came SO close. That's all right guys. Y'all played hard, did your best and represented the city well. No matter how many professional sports teams Memphis gets, thanks to the Tigers, it's always gonna be a big college basketball town. Go Tigers! Go!

My last shout-out for the day goes to Naysue of black girl lost in a book fame who inspired this particular post (smile). On my previous post, she asked a question in jest that lead to today's list of thanks. Check out her blog sometime if you haven't done so yet. She does an excellent job when it comes to shining a spotlight on those books, writers and works that all too often fall under the radar.

I do have a few "gas-face" awards I'd like to handout to a few folks whose behavior has been of the trifling sort, but I'm gonna save those until I'm back in Charlotte. I'm not trying to have folks show up at my Mama's house looking to issue me a beat-down, verbal or otherwise (LOL).

Sunday, April 06, 2008

YOU WANNA SEE ME . . . ON TV? HEAR ME ON THE RADIO?

Well, those who live in the Memphis television viewing area might very well want to check out News Channel 3's Live at 9 at the Peabody Place in Downtown Memphis on April 8th between 8:30-10:00 am.

Hey, I'm also finally going to make my big radio debut. No, I won't be d-jaying (smile). I have been scheduled for an interview on WYPL, the Memphis public library's radio station. (See here for details). The interview takes place this Friday at 11:00am and is open to the public, but won't air until sometime this June.

Hope to see you at one of the booksignings in Memphis on Saturday, April 12th. Again, I'll be at Barnes & Noble on Winchester between 11:00 am -1:00 pm and at the Bistro in Davis-Kidd from 3pm-5pm.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

THE SHOT THAT KILLED MLK . . . CAME FROM . . .
The shot that killed Martin Luther King came from
this building.
(from Lori's picture collection)

King: A Few reflections about his death & A few facts about his life

Just about everyone has seen the photo of the distraught folks standing on the balcony of the Lorriane Motel in the minutes after King's assassination. The building above is where they're pointing. A portion of the building, including the room where James Earl Ray allegedly stayed is open to folks who pay the price of admission to the National Civil Rights Museum (Memphis, TN).

Last year, I wrote a piece on King and my experience of his death in Memphis. It's one of my more serious pieces and I'm actually rather proud of it. See here, if you 'd like to read it: "Memphis & Martin & The Inheritance of A Dream"

Also, checkout PJazzy's "Thursday Thirteen" facts about Martin Luther King.