Have Courage Not to ‘Man Up’

we-dont-say

Gender exclusive language–its use in speaking and writing–was deeply frowned upon at my college. From the moment I stepped into any classroom at Emory University-across disciplines and departments–gender exclusive language was announced as a no-no. Before college, I was wholly ignorant that the use of “man/men” for the collective was a social norm that I was complicit in.  Of course, that is the power of such norms they are silent, ubiquitous enforcers. What is it enforcing? Maleness as a social construct is the most normative, socially accepted way of being and thus, when speaking about everyone–male or female–it is okay to use “mankind” in lieu of “humankind.”

At the start of college, it was as if the scales fell from my eyes. I began to see and hear gender exclusive language everywhere–books, magazines, movies, TV, on the tongues of my friends, family. I was a religious studies major and the gendered language surrounding God opened up a whole host of other conversations. From that moment on, I committed myself to using gender inclusive language in my writing and speaking. When using “he” or “she” became onerous, I used “she” throughout.

In the wake of the mass murders by the UCSB male coed, I’ve been reflecting on language and gender. There are idioms or sayings in the cultural lexicon that are particularly gendered. Some are pretty innocuous and can be reimagined. Others are pejorative. A short list:

1. Manpower

2. Man (meaning to work as in to “man” a booth or desk)

3. Man up

4. Pussy (a weak, overly sensitive, spineless person)

5. ‘like a girl’ (usually in relation to sports, i.e. “You throw like a girl” or “Quit acting like a girl.” The idea is acting like a girl is antithetical to competition, strength, winning, power, etc.)

6. Man card (a proverbial membership card into the community of men. Having your man card revoked is the ultimate insult. It means that one’s manhood was tested and found wanting. What does a man do to have his man card revoked? In most cases, he acts sensibly and non-violently in some situation where violence in words and deeds would have been preferable to defend one’s manhood.)

7. cunt

This is far from an exhaustive list. From this very short list a theme emerges: Woman = bad/weak/not preferable and Man = good/strong/preferable.

There was a scene in Lifetime’s film adaptation of Terry McMillan’s novel, A Day Late and A Dollar Short that caused a heated discussion in my family. It was me against my husband and daughter. During the scene, a father was confronting his son’s stepfather after finding bruises inflicted on his son by the stepfather. The father was absentee having only visited his son sporadically after divorcing (or leaving–I can’t remember) his mother. The father had some personal struggles which included drug abuse and stints in prison. The father, weeks out of jail and clean, spoke respectfully to the stepfather about the bruises. He calmly asked the father to stop and asserted his role in his son’s life. The mother seemed oblivious to the abuse. As the viewer, I was proud of the father and then the stepfather responded negatively. He castigated the father and asserted his authority to do whatever he wanted to the son in his house. The father held his peace and the mother agreed to allow the son to go with the father until things cooled down. The stepfather continued to verbally insult the father. Things went from bad to horrible and bam–the father gave the stepfather a serious pummeling before leaving the house without his son.  I responded in disappoint and screamed at the TV, “No!” My daughter and husband, on the other hand, were triumphant and celebratory. They were happy that the father gave the stepfather the beat down he deserved for the way he disrespected the father and physically abused the son. My husband was adamant that the father did what was necessary. My husband argued that the mom needed to man up and do her part as this should have been an eye opening experience for her. My daughter thought the violence was a natural response. “Mom,” she said, “If you found out someone was beating me, wouldn’t you be mad like that?” I responded in the affirmative, but explained that I didn’t have to act with the same violence.

In our spirited discussion, I explained that the father’s violent response was at its essence a selfish act. Obviously the stepfather was selfish. Instead of following the father’s lead and being respectful and cordial, he pushed the father’s male buttons and questioned his manhood. What came next was a pissing match between the two men to mark territory and reassert their manhood. It had nothing to do with the son. What the spectacle did was to teach the son the way men should act: like brutes. Had the father put his son first, he would have taken his son away from the house–the mother had agreed to this–in an effort to stop the violence against his son. Instead he used violence, left his son there, and ran away. That same night he was arrested. At the end of the movie, when all the loose ends were seemingly tied up, there was a montage with the son and the father at the library. They looked to be working on a school project. This convinced my daughter that all was well. I said that it was just a snapshot. Perhaps the son was still in the abusive situation. Perhaps not.

It is better to have the courage NOT to ‘man up.’ By ‘man up,’ I mean to act and speak in the socially constructed way of man, misogynistic, woman-hating, and aggressive. It takes reteaching and reeducation to have that courage. The scales have to fall way from the eyes in the same way they fell off my face at Emory University. I became aware and then practiced a new way of seeing the world.

 

 

 

Mr. Short-Term Memory

brain_with_postits-resized-600There was a sketch on SNL years ago, “Mr. Short-Term Memory, starring Tom Hanks, I think. The main character possessed only a short term memory. Anything past a few minutes of information vanished. A typical conversation between the character and his doctor might go something like this:

Doctor: “Good Morning, Mr. Smith. The surgery went well. After a few days of rest you can go back to working at the button factory and playing golf on weekends.”

Mr. Short-Term Memory: “Oh, thank you, Doc. I feel better already.

Doctor: “That’s great, but you really need to rest.”

Mr. Short-Term Memory: “Hiya, Doc! How did the surgery go? When can I go home? I really want to get back to work. I would give anything for a round of golf right now.”

Doctor: “Well as I said…you’ll remain here for a few more days and then you can get back to your normal routine then.”

[Doctor turns to leave.]

Mr. Short-Term Memory: “Hey Doc, when do you think I’ll be going to surgery. I want to get this over with so I can get back to my normal routine.”

The SNL version was funnier, but you get the idea. A conversation with Mr. Short-Term Memory is exasperating because you must reintroduce everything.

I’ve come to realize that advertisers, particularly those for television shows and movies treat consumers, potential viewers, as if we are Mr. Short-Term Memory. As a consumer, it is extremely annoying. I am mostly annoyed with the content of the advertising. The hook–the funniest joke or most sensational line–serves as the content of the ad. For movies, all the funny jokes are let out of bag. By the time you see the movie, it’s like you’ve already seen it. Everything else–what you’ve not seen–is just filler, like packing peanuts or bubble wrap.

This bait works well because it plants a memory in the mind and gives the consumer something to connect to when they are watching. Also, it can convince the consumer to invest their time and money (in the case of movies) into the show. Of course this is what advertisers want. I am disappointed when I do make the investment only to discover that the bait is better than the entire program. But this baiting does work.

More annoying than this are the previews of what’s to come during programming on television. In the weeks or days before a show, the preview commercials are on a continuous loop–played repeatedly. But then, while watching the show, you are told what’s coming up in the next segment after the commercial. When the show returns, you are shown the lead up to what you just previewed and then what you just saw in the preview. I think this is mostly done in reality shows. I. Hate. This. Why is this done? Do the advertisers think the viewer is going to forget their investment of time to watch the show from beginning to end, and thus deem it is necessary to remind the viewer of why they should stay tuned? This is a plausible reason considering that many viewers may be subject to distractions while viewing. We switch channels, live tweet, talk to whomever is watching with us, answer calls, along with a host of other things. Television watching is not something we gather around to do, forsaking all other tasks–we can pause it mid program, too!

While I understand advertisers’ inundation on our short-term memories, I don’t have to like it. It is both solving the problem of our short attention spans and training us to be Mr. Short-Term Memory. Routinely, when people tell me they will do something, I don’t believe them, mostly because I think the person will forget. We are all Mr. Short-Term Memory.

What is the post about?

 

Who’s Your Baby Daddy?: Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

Rosemary's Baby_bc

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

What do you when you discover your baby daddy is the Prince of Darkness? This is not Rosemary Woodhouse’s quandary at the beginning of Ira Levin’s novel. There is a sense that Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse live in a glass house. They–mostly Rosemary–look out onto the world with the wide-eyed wonder of little children, their noses pressed to the glass. Guy seems jaded, brooding, and sensitive–all the hallmarks of a deep insecurity that is eating away at him. He is an actor seeking fame and fortune. Rosemary believes in him–she rattles off his productions with pride. It is obvious that something is eating away at him, but he masks it with sarcasm and faux enthusiasm.

When their number is up on the waiting list for the Bramford, Rosemary convinces Guy get out of the lease they’ve just signed for another apartment. They had been waiting on the Bramford for a long time. In that way of his, Guy is a convincing poser which will be the undoing of their family. He comes up with a convincing excuse to be let out of the lease. That’s the thing about Guy–the attributes Rosemary delights in, charm, wit, humor will be used to bamboozle her. Guy is a fitting name for Rosemary’s husband. Aside from his temperamental nature and deception, he lacks depth. This could be intentional on the part of the Levin. I tried to pinpoint the exact moment when Guy decides to offer up his wife as a surrogate for Satan’s baby in exchange for “getting so much in return.”  It is difficult. Once I realized he was in on the deception, it made sense. Guy is consumed with want without self-sacrifice or effort. Rosemary on the other hand is very sacrificial and self-doubting exacerbated by a lack of friends and family in close proximity who want nothing from her. She is estranged from her family because she married a non-Catholic Protestant. Her one close friend, Hutch, tries to warn them against moving into the Bram because of its nefarious history. His later attempts to warn Rosemary about the danger that surrounds her results in his untimely death. By the time girlfriends of hers try to intervene she is sucked further into obscurity–all but forced to stay at home.

Upon moving into the Bram, Rosemary and Guy meet and are immediately smothered by their neighbors–an elderly couple who live in a larger apartment unit adjoining their smaller apartment. Roman and Minnie Castevet take them under their wing. Rosemary and Guy indulge their constant invitations and bulldozing out of pity almost. This attention brings benefits–whatever they need, the Castevets just happen to know a friend or have access to it. Old age is surely the perfect disguise in this case along with Minnie Castevet’s eccentricities. Soon it is revealed that more people are in cahoots with the Castevets. Rosemary’s doctor orders her not to read books or listen to others’ advice about pregnancy, which is laughable and nonsensical as professional advice. Rosemary, like the reader, is skeptical but her desire to ensure the health of her unborn child quiets her suspicions for a while. Sometimes she searches for answers to her quandaries and other times she castigates herself:

“You’re going to have your baby in four days, Idiot Girl…So you’re all tense and nutty and you’ve  built up a whole lunatic persecution thing out of a bunch of completely unrelated coincidences. There are no real witches. There are no real spells…See, Idiot Girl? It all falls apart when you pick at it.”

But she never stops questioning the many inconsistencies and strange occurrences. I screamed at the pages several times when Rosemary seemed to deliberately ignore the clues. Recently I watched Roman Polanski’s film adaptation of Levin’s work and NBC’s mini-series remake of the film. The older version follows the book more closely than the recent one.

Rosemary’s Baby is suspenseful and just plain creepy. It casts evil and Satan in ways that are familiar.  For me, Satan is not the biggest evildoer in this work, thought. He is outdone by her husband, that Guy, who gives her body over to be used without her knowledge or permission.

Constantly Checking Activity? I am done! Well…almost…trying!

Social media

Since publishing my book, I daily–multiple times–check my paperback and ebook sales. I also check my listing on Amazon and Goodreads for reviews and ratings. In addition to that, I have this blog, my Twitter, Tumblr, and 2 Facebook accounts, which I check for activity. I used to be a fanfiction writer. During those days, I would check the number of view and visitors to my stories. There is some checking that is not necessary since push notifications alert me when I receive a “like,” “reblog,” “tag,” etc. But, I still check.

I made a pact with my husband to refrain from the daily checking of book sales a week after the release. Instead I would check once per week. I failed miserably at this effort. Last night I made a new pact to once again temper my checking to twice per month. Why is this self-binding necessary? The result of my checking–whether what I find there is fruitful or not–has too much power over my short term outlook. The most significant data is book sales, reviews, and ratings. The other is less impactful, though abundant responses can outweigh lackluster data from the other. I hate this…just hate this. It’s a gratefulness thief. Instead of appreciating my real time tangible blessings, I sometimes dwell on the lack of a desired data point or become overly excited when I do receive a desired number. As I am enjoying it–I sold some books–I become reserved because I don’t like how a data point can make me happy.

I’ve read articles about how social media and constant connectivity has been found to make people more lonely. Everyone presents their best self–pictures of their perfect families, vacations, adorable pets–so the user gets an unrealistic picture of someone else’s life. All their “friends” are living their lives like it’s golden–all the time. We are all quasi celebrities constantly managing the narrative of our lives. When I’m on my dash, I sometimes wonder what is it all for? These people–my “followers” are folks I’ll never meet. We never ‘talk’ except through, likes, reblogs, and occasional private messages. What is it all for?

I am not to be categorized as one of those maligners of social media. I don’t see technology as the evil of this age. Far from it. My machinations–the incessant checking–has nothing to do with the tools or the actionable data they provide. Additionally, as with anything, you get out what you put in.

I began this post by hemming and hawing over my penchant for constantly checking for activity on my various social media platforms and book sales channels. It can be inferred that I dislike checking because I am (said in a whisper) not getting the results I want. However, that is not the issue that caused me to pen this post. The issue what lies behind the urge to check incessantly and how I orient myself vis a vis the results.

I am happy to report that I have not checked my sales data today. I have checked the others. I won’t check the views and visitors to this post. Perhaps the most important thing is that I am 1500 words into the first draft of my second novel–the checking doesn’t take me away from my writing. The Sisyphus journey continues.

Molly Bannaky by Alice McGill

Molly Bannaky by Alice McGill

mollybannaky_bcIn 18th century England, Molly Walsh is dairy maid accused of stealing milk from the lord of the manor. Molly is not the culprit. The obstinate cow she milks each morning kicks over the frothy pail most mornings. The harsh lord turns 17 year old Molly over to the authorities to face the penalty–certain death–she escapes because of a loophole in the law. Her ability to read the Bible prevents her from being executed for her “theft,” but recompense must be made. Molly’s sentence is seven years of labor in the New World where her American story begins.

Exhibiting true grit, determination, and sheer will–all the qualities of a frontier person–Molly forges a life for herself in this new land after working off her debt using the mule and the parcel of land given to newly freed debtors. In need of assistance to work her land, she navigates the peculiar institution–slavery–that provides human labor for purchase. Uncomfortable and unfamiliar with the act of buying a person, Molly does choose to purchase the African male whom she notices as a “tall, regal man who dared to look into the eyes of every bidder.” Instead of owner/slave, Molly and Bannaky develop a friendship, allowed during a time before slavery becomes an entrenched institution. It is Molly’s intention to set him free after the work is done. They later marry and start a family in a community that accepts their union. Molly Walsh becomes Molly Bannaky.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that their oldest daughter had a son with her husband–an African man– whom she names Benjamin Banneker, the famous scientist and mathematician. This puts Molly’s story into perspective.  She and Bannaky pass down their determination and persistence to their grandson. This story is so uniquely American.

Illustrator Chris Soenpiet is just as much the storyteller as author Alice McGill. His visually stunning depictions of Molly’s journey brings the story alive.  The detailed drawings are historically authentic–the tobacco leaves, the livestock. On first sight, the cover is arresting–Molly’s visage–communicating that she has a complex and multifaceted story to tell.

This book is a great choice for a lesson on the differences between indentured servitude and slavery in North America.

 

Coming On Home Soon by Jacqueline Woodson

Coming on Home Soon by Jacqueline Woodson

Age Range: 5 – 8 years
Grade Level: Kindergarten – 3 (suggested, but a great picture book well into 5th grade)
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Puffin

Coming on Home Soon_bc

Ada Ruth struggles with the sadness brought on by her mother’s departure to Chicago where jobs are rumored to be available for black women. Times are doubly hard for these three generations—Ada Ruth, her mother and grandmother—struggling to subsist under one roof during World War II. Ada Ruth finds a semblance of comfort in her grandmother’s arms and a stray black kitten that grandma grudgingly agrees to let stay.

Woodson uses dialogue masterfully to convey the feelings and emotions of the characters. By the second page, the reader already has a clear sense of the strong bond between mother and daughter as well as the pain the separation will bring. Woodson uses italics to demonstrate dialogue instead of quotation marks. The italics provide extra emphasis that quotation marks lack and a sense that the words are more poetry than dialogue. Woodson’s use of vocabulary, e.g., clabber milk, lye soap, brings an authenticity to the story that makes it believable. The narrative has a certain timeless quality. I imagine readers relating to this sort of story across different time periods and ethnicities. The illustrations balance the story perfectly. The watercolors bring softness, while the choice of dark color and shadows convey the scarcity of resources. The art shows both barrenness and abundance. The illustrator pays close attention to detail, taking care that every part of the house is true to the 1940s. The author and illustrator have created a work with the elements of high quality literature. As the reader, I am drawn into the story, eager to see if Ada Ruth and her mother will be reunited. Even though the grandmother is in the role of nurturer and comforter, I get the sense that she is suffering too. Her efforts to comfort Ada Ruth bring solace to her as well. This mirrors the way Ada Ruth’s caretaking of the kitten helps her cope with the separation. These two parallel story elements  brings insightful depth to the story. Students with parents or relatives who live far from home due to war, divorce, etc., could relate to this story. Teachers could use this work as a literature integration with a social studies lesson on World War II.

 

On Mothering and Parenthood

 photo 6a00d83452b15969e20176168da4c1970c-800wi_zpsd1cf0eae.jpgMothering is unwieldy, well at least for me. I am the mother of one teenage girl child. I think I need a pink slip. Helicopter parenting worked in elementary school and to a lesser extent in middle school. As her will grows and she becomes more and more like she is, I am getting more clueless. No amount of propellers will do the job.

Some people learn life’s lessons by proxy. I fear my daughter has to learn first hand–by experience. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I am at the last step–acceptance. Instead of helicopter I am morphing into scaffolding. I thought I could be like those celebrated mom’s who demand and expect excellence. Those big mammas who force their children to do this or that. Years later the kids of those saintly mothers look back and say, “I don’t know how she did it. She did X or Y and I am better for it.” I have done my share of X and Y, but now it has gone from lecturing to a battle of wills.

Now I shall be scaffolding. I know I’ll continue to lecture and battle the wills with my husband my side. But we shall be scaffolding

scaffolding

Book Review: Fledging by Octavia E. Butler

Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler

Grand Central Publishing: a division of Hachette Book Group, 2005

fledgling Octavia Butler

He raised a hand to stop me, then dropped the hand to his side. “What are you then?” he whispered. And I said the only thing I could: “I don’t know.” I drew back, held his face between my hands, liking him, glad that I had found him. “Help me find out.”

And thus the journey begins for Shori Matthews. By all outward appearances–something that is at once of great and little importance in the cosmology of Butler’s masterful work–Shori has the size of a young black girl of no more than 10 or 11. In this first person narrative, by Shori’s own description, the reader learns that she is distinctly other. Her body and mind has undergone a massive trauma, rendering her wounded and devoid of the memory of her trauma, who she is, or where she belongs. She feasts on the meat of animals to regain strength and then the blood of humans for daily nourishment. She encounters Wright, a twentysomething white male, who happens upon her bloody and battered on the road one night. Intent on saving this child–he thinks–Wright becomes ‘her first’. The first (since the amnesia induced trauma) one she binds to her in the symbiotic relationship humans share with with the Ina, an otherworldly community of vampirelike creatures who have walked the earth for thousands of years. With Wright’s sanguine succor and safety, Shori discovers that she is under attack because of the genetic experiments her eldermothers and elderfathers participated in to breed a stronger less vulnerable Ina–one that can exist when the sun shines–one with black skin inducing melanin. Shori is relearning everything: who she is, how to survive, how to love, and how to exist in a world in which some want her blotted out because of her black skin. Ironically, this ‘detriment’ is what gives her an advantage no other Ina has. It makes her a day walker, stronger, strategic, and crafty.

Fledging includes all the elements of compelling science fiction and any good story: suspense, romance, throughly delineated cosmogony for its creatures, interesting characters…and there’s sex too (though not a prerequisite for compelling science fiction or any good story…a bit helps though).

“He started to leave, then turned back, frowning. “Ordinary sun exposure burns your skin even though you’re black?” “I’m…” I stopped. I had been about to protest that I was brown, not black, but before I could speak, I understood what he meant.”

Shori learns the most about her existential being from others at first. She is actually 53 human years old–the Ina live hundreds of years but age very slowly. She is black by outward appearances in all the socially constructed ways set up by humans. As many (me at least) African Americans can attest, you don’t know you’re ‘black’ until your told by someone who is not. Then you learn that it is more than a color–it holds so many layered facets that are put upon you like a script where there is only one black role–one black way of being. Shori learns about the irrational nature of this ‘othering’  when the identity of those plotting to annihilate her is revealed.

“She’s with you, and you’re going to keep her with you. As far as she’s concerned, she’s died and gone to heaven. People keep falling in love with you, Shori–men, women, old, young–it doesn’t seem to matter.”

Butler’s work includes a veritable open love fest! Happily, I could read it and enjoy it without judgery…yes judgery (forming opinions and conclusions about the rightness of something based on my own experiences/beliefs)! I’ve had this book for a couple of years. It seems that I read it when I was ready for it…after writing my own work that explores sexuality in unbounded iterations.

Shori is an Ina female, but she is free to love whom she chooses regardless of gender. It is more about the serendipity of the connection and a mixture of other factors that determine the attraction, e.g. scent. When Shori bites a human her saliva elicits an intensely pleasurable experience within the human–the bitee will obey her every command. This is where the symbiosis begins–a bit of pleasure for a bit of blood. In the cases where Shori simply needs a meal, she tells the human to forget about her–to remember her as a dream–else they would search and search for her like an addict searches for another fix. If she bites them repeatedly, they become bound to her in a permanent symbiotic relationship–the human lives for hundreds of years disease and aging free. Binding to Shori comes at a price. The Ina needs multiple partners to keep them alive so any hopes of being in a sort of Edward/Bella (i.e. monogamous) paring are dashed. This seems to be offset by the symbiont’s (name for a human who has paired with an Ina) freedom to take on other partners–only human–within or outside the ‘harem’ as Wright (her first) calls it in a fit of anger at the arrangement. The symbionts can have careers or children with other humans if they choose. The love smorgasbord is not central to the plot, but it is fodder for a great discussion amongst a book club. I love a great discussion. The polyamory seems to work in the context of the Ina community as the Ina must give their symbionts the freedom to leaveseemingly laughable after being bitten–up to a certain point. Theodora, one of Shori’s symbiont’s, summed it up well when reflecting on the new life she chooses among Shori’s community, “I’ve moved to Mars…Now I’ve got to learn how to be a good Martian.”

As a reader, I can see how easy it would be to fall in love with Shori. She wields all this power, but chooses not to lord it over others. She is as fascinated with her symbionts’ want of her as they are with wanting her. One of my favorite quotes from the book is an exchange between Theodora and Shori:

“Why?” I asked her. I had no idea what she would say. She blinked at me, looked surprised, hurt.

“Why do you want me?”…You have a particularly good scent,” I said. “I mean, not only do you smell healthy, you smell…open, wanting, alone…

She frowned. “Do you mean that I smelled lonely?”

“I think so, yes, longing, needing…”

“I didn’t imagine that loneliness had a scent.”

I highly recommend Fledgling. Many readers are tired of the vampire meme, but this novel offers something different and refreshing. This is an intoxicating read. There is something for everybody! With the plethora of multi-book publications, I would bare my neck to read more about Shori and her symbionts after the dust settled. Butler is deceased, but she has left many other novels for me to sink my teeth into!

 

My Writing Process: A Blog Tour

"Green Suitcase" by Sparklezdtr: http://bit.ly/1iisMBB
Photo Credit: “Green Suitcase” by Sparklezdtr: http://bit.ly/1iisMBB

My heart was filled with joy and gladness when the insanely talented writer, magician, and monster conjurer Chrishaun Keller, invited me to join the My Writing Process Blog Tour. Batting my eyelashes and bowing in deference, I said, “Me? You want me to join the tour?” I quickly agreed–before she changed her mind–eager to be in such good traveling company.

Chrishaun is working on two novels, The Forgotten Woman and All Your Dogs Belong to Us, both due out in the fall of this year. She lives to write about magic and monsters because it allows her to, “vent the worst of my nature and parse the blindness, brokeness, selfishness, and outright evil of others.”  I “met” Chrishaun on Twitter by way of witty wordsmith, Sonya Craig, another fabulous writer. Perhaps association will bring about assimilation as in their writerly abilities will rub off on me. One can hope and stir up the gift!

Okay, more about me, Myesha D. Jenkins. I decided to allow my four friends–who for some reason love to dish about me–answer the blog tour questions on my behalf. I trust them (most of the time) unflinchingly. Prepare to learn more about me and my writing via my bosom friends, Mea Jackson, Maisailfa Jones, Aya Davis, and Solah Lee. They are such beautiful women. When we are together, I think I’m in an episode of “Love in the City” on OWN.

What is Myesha working on? 

Mea Jackson

 

Hey y’all! My name is Mea. I’ve known Myesha since elementary school. She was a tad obsessed with cornrowing hair at that time in her life, and she used my tresses to practice on. Hmph! That’s probably the reason I keep my hair cut short today. Tee Hee! I am so very proud of her! She’s been wanting to write a novel for some time now. Eureka! She finally did it! Her novel Rapture was published in paperback and Kindle on April 24, 2014. She is very proud of this novel and has been working overtime to promote it. She sometimes gets down in the dumps because she thinks folks won’t read it due to the “subject matter.”  Well, it’s a love story about two women who become friends then lovers. I know…I know… like the good friend I am, I told her to get over herself. She can worry the horns off of a billy goat, that girl! Fools rarely read anyway so she is safe, right? She just looks at me, shakes her head, and smiles when I say this.

Her newest project has been rolling around in her head for some time now. She hasn’t quite pegged it yet, but it will have elements of mystery, suspense, the supernatural, and the paranormal. She refuses to give me the details–something about me not keeping a secret–but it, too, is set in Georgia. She’s already started doing research and such. Well, I have to run up the road a piece to see a man about a horse. It’s been a pleasure chatting with you about my best friend, My!

How does Myesha’s work differ from others of its genre?

Maisailfa Jones
Maisailfa Jones

Salutations! Celebrations! Adorations! I am Maisailfa. Myesha and I met in college. Those were the best of timesruminating our 19 year old angst, Friday night gospel choir rehearsal, pulling all nighters at the University Center during finals, hiding her roommate’s alarm clock…I could go on but I shall stop there.

I remember Myesha calling me to lament about having to choose the BISAC codes for her book. Basically these are the genre classifications set by the Book Industry Study Group (BISG). She felt the codes were exclusive and marginalizing. The protagonists in her book are African-American women who enter into a romantic relationship. After choosing “fiction,” she disliked the fact that “African-American” was separated out. Why is the inclusion of African-American protagonists enough for a different category and thusly a different part of the bookstore? Add to that the “other sexuality” aspect and you have a decidedly “nichified” and marginalized book. After about an hour discussion, I quieted Myesha down and asked her the following: “Are you trying to publish your book or do you want to take on the Book Industry Study Group? Choose a category and move on, girl!” I am happy to say she did.

Rapture is Myesha’s first novel in the fiction category, but she is not a one genre writer. She plans to dabble in non-fiction as well as some of the other sub categories in fiction. For Rapture, she initially chose, Fiction/Contemporary Women, but later changed to Fiction/African-American/Contemporary Women & Fiction/Lesbian. She added other tags like, “queer, bisexual, marriage, infidelity, and women” to funnel readers to this particular book.

I was intrigued by the way Myesha chose to tell Rapture. She wrote it in a current/past flashback mode. This seemed to give me a fuller understanding of the story and the characters. I would have to say that Myesha’s use of time makes this work different from others in this genre.

Aya Davis

Why does Myesha write what she does?

Hi. My name is Aya. I met Myesha through her husband years ago. I needed a wedding planner and he referred me to his wife. At the time, Myesha moonlighted as a wedding planner. We became friends during an important yet, stressful, milestone in my life. But, she got me through it. We have been friends ever since.

Myesha loves to write complex narratives. Her stories are rarely boring. (Don’t tell her I wrote, ‘rarely.’) She is very observant, and honestly, she enjoys mocking people–behind their backs of course unless the person is a friend. She does it quite well. We laugh uproariously at her. She laughs too until we return the favor. In another life, she would have been a hit on a comedy show like “In Living Color,” “Key & Peele,” or “Saturday Night Live”–as a writer not an actor–she would choose the actor role as the better fit. Umm…no.

I think she wrote Rapture because it was just in her to write it. She told me about a time she watched Melissa Harris-Perry interview writer, director, and screenwriter, Malcolm D. Lee, best known for “The Best Man” and “The Best Man Holiday.” Melissa asked him if he would ever include a same sex story to the repertoire. Malcolm became somewhat nervous (by Myesha’s estimation) and declined because he had no experience or knowledge of that (paraphrasing).  As is Myesha’s custom, she decided she wanted to write such a story. That’s her. When she finds a gulf, she tries to make her own bridge. LOL.

How does Myesha’s writing process work? 

Sola Lee
Solah Lee (I’m a time traveler…2170)

Hola, Everyone! Myesha and I met when we were both active in the PTA at our children’s elementary school. We were co-chairs of the Yearbook Committee 4 years running. We were running too, trying to meet our deadlines. Oh, my name is Solah, by the way.

Myesha’s process…well, I know she likes to be organized and methodical about things. She told me she created a storyboard outline for Rapture, but I know she changed it several times. She also used notecards for the characters and the chapters.  I also know that she changed these several times as well. Writing is the one thing Myesha can’t organize and categorize. She tries to organize it (which worked for yearbook) but finally gives herself over to inspiration and the serendipity of the moment, letting the story flow. Myesha loves to walk, usually with her husband and dogs. She’s spoken of ideas popping into her mind fully formed during or after a long stroll. She’s been trying to get all of us together for a book club. Myesha loves to stir people up by asking questions. Then she sits back and observes as they attempt to answer her quasi-philosophical questions.


It’s Myesha here again. Wow! My girls, Mea, Maisailfa, Aya, and Solah know me so well! I am so grateful for their friendship over the years. This blog tour has been a wild ride. I am sad you are leaving my stop, dear readers. Feel free to come back anytime. Peruse my website. Follow me on social media. If you must go, please stop by these next stops on the tour.

JL MORSE’s JUNCTION:

jl-morse-the-family-bed_cover

I “met” the illustrious JL Morse in the twittersphere. I was lamenting the woes of raising a teenager, but I stopped my whining when I learned that she was the “mother of two gloriously muddy urchins, capturing adventures and turning them into words to treasure forever.” She homeschools her little ones by day and writes by night.  JL has published her first book, The Family Bed: A Poem about Everyone Getting a Goodnight’s SleepHer second book, The World of Wickham Mossrite, is due out soon.

HANIFA BARNES’ DRIVE:

The train will then go to Hanifa Barnes whom I met years and years ago when we were both knee high to an ant. We attended the same after school and summer programs in Atlanta, GA. We kept in touch sporadically over the years and recently reconnected on social media. She is a brilliant writer and SuperMom! Visit her website where she waxes eloquent on beauty, health, exercise, parenting, and social issues. She has also published articles on The Feminist Wire.

KELA LEWIS-MORIN’S AVENUE:  Kela Lewis-Morin is a colourful, creative, charismatic, compulsive over thinker. His thoughts spurt onto the page in the form of poetry, lyrics, novels, scripts and rants.  I shamelessly pilfered the aforementioned description from his website. His work has been published in an anthology. His book, Writing My Wrongs is due out soon. I “met” him in the twittersphere by way of Sonya Craig and Chrishaun Keller.

If you are interested in hearing about their writing processes, please visit their blogs and follow them. They will be posting on the tour very soon. Bon Voyage!

Open Call: Get On Board The Blog Tour

"Green Suitcase" by Sparklezdtr: http://bit.ly/1iisMBB
“Green Suitcase” by Sparklezdtr: http://bit.ly/1iisMBB

Dear Bloggerly/Writerly Friends,

Are you looking for free, fun, and adventurous ways to advertise a currently or upcoming published work or blog? If so, please join the “My Writing Process” Blog Tour. This is how it works:

1. Write a blog post that answers the following four questions:

  • What am I working on?
  • How does my work differ from others of its genre?
  • Why do I write what I do?
  • How does my writing process work?

2. Within that post, link to the author who invited you and the author you invited.

  • Provide a brief biography and link to the author’s website/blog who invited you. This link should be to the blog post in which the one who invited you answered the four questions above.
  • Provide a brief biography and link to the author’s website/blog you invited to join the tour. This link should be to the invitees’ general blog and not their post as they will not have written it yet.

You can do this linking in the body of the blog or at the beginning/end.  The Blog Tour Guide suggests one blog per week. You are welcome to post quicker than that. It is important to keep it going.

3. Post and promote the post. 

In your blog post, be sure to add #mywritingprocess as a tag. This is also the case for posting on Twitter, tumblr, or any site that takes tags.

4. Profit.

Well that’s for the universe to decide. Let’s hope it increases hits to your website and sales of your book!

Here are some examples:

My Writing Process

http://jmileswagner.com/another-small-step-on-the-writing-tour/

http://rumpledruminations.wordpress.com/2014/04/15/mywritingprocess/

http://www.erinalbertbooks.com/1/post/2013/10/my-writing-process-blog-tour.html

http://middleagebutch.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/middle-age-butch-goes-on-tour-mywritingprocess/

I am next on the tour. I will be posting this week. If you are interested, leave a comment. I’ll add your blog as a stop on the tour. Depending on how many I receive, I may send you the name of the next person (s) to add to the tour. If not, you’ll have to ask one of her writing friends.

I look forward to hearing from you. Now…All aboard!

Cordially,

Myesha