When Love Goes Wrong…HALT!

What’s up lovely people? I was feeling a little nostalgic the other day and looking through some of my old posts. I stumbled across this one and decided to re-post it. It’s one of the short stories/essays I contributed to my writer’s group anthology. I hope it speaks to you!


He was the kind of lover that made you want to thank him at the close of every rendezvous; to absolutely and definitively express gratitude towards him for his ability to give pleasure; to humbly praise his skill and his tangible way of physically bringing you to a place of bliss and then allowing you to dwell there. Yes, he was that good. All he did was give.

Until he didn’t anymore, and then all he did was take. I should have seen it coming. The whole yin and yang of life is not new to me. If our lovemaking was unbalanced, it only made sense that the pleasure he should have rightfully received, after giving me so much, should be taken from some other aspect of our relationship. An unbalanced debt is an unbalanced debt, no matter what the currency. Bills always come due.

It wasn’t until much later that I came to understand that perhaps it was all a set up. That maybe he used his rare talent as a way of achieving personal gain. In other words, he was a gigolo and I was his mark.  Maybe it wasn’t so much that I was selfish and did not try to give back, it was that he was determined to take his pleasure elsewhere and feel justified in doing so.  Or maybe it was just karma. Either way, I’ll never know.

I do know that I’ve been taught better, both figuratively and literally. On my first day of college a professor of a kindly paternal disposition set out to give sage advice to a classroom full of hopeful and naïve freshmen. He scribbled an acronym across the dry erase board and stated that we should make all of our decisions over the next few years with it in mind.

H.A.L.T.

 This meant stop and consider your personal state before making any type of choice. The professor succinctly said, “Never make a decision when you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired. Always remember to halt.” He went on to actually teach the subject we were all there to study, but my mind stayed stuck on his introductory speech.

It was a moment that changed my life, but not in the way that I think the well-meaning instructor intended. I spent the rest of the class contemplating the simple acronym and the meaning behind it. Eventually, I concluded that if I waited until I was in such an ideal frame of being to make choices, I would live out the entirety of my life without making a single decision. Because my reality was that I had never lived a single moment of my life without feeling hungry, angry, lonely or tired.

This revelation could have easily caused me to make a life change by working to create an existence where I was not feeling at least one of those sensations at all times. Instead I used it as an excuse to recklessly make decisions with dire consequences.

HUNGRY

HUNGRY

You see I was always hungry for an ever-elusive craving. An indefinable something that, if received, would satisfy me in a way that nothing else ever had. It was this insatiable hunger that caused me to latch on to him and take, take, take without any consideration of the phrase, “payback is a mother-“.

ANGRY

ANGRY

As a result, I was so familiar with anger as a constant companion that I was incapable of distinguishing between my everyday jacket of anger and a justifiable mink coat of rage. He did things that deserved violent fury and I let it slide, convincing myself it was the former and that I was overreacting.

LONELY

LONELY

Don’t get me started on the loneliness. It is the worst kind of isolation to feel lonely when you are in a relationship with someone. Again, I blamed myself. I berated myself for being such an ice queen that I could not let someone else in. It did not occur to me that a sincere relationship should gently chip away at the frostiness of loneliness with constant warmth in the form of passion, kindness and caring.

TIRED

TIRED

I thought I was world weary before, but I hadn’t seen anything until my debt came due. He sucked me dry. I was the kind of tired that made me lay awake at night staring at the ceiling. I was the kind of tired that caused friends to do a double take and express concern over my well-being. I was the kind of tired that caused my supervisor to suggest a leave of absence. I was the kind of tired that caused me to take that leave of absence thereby enabling me to expand my nocturnal ceiling watching to daylight hours as well.

Then I got tired of him. Ending it was by no means easy. He had so methodically captured me that it took a major crisis of conscience to free my mind from the luxurious prison he had created. And yes you’re right, supposedly there is no such thing as a luxurious prison. The two don’t mix. That’s about the same as a cold love affair. Both metaphors are a complete contradiction in terms and hell to live through.

So now here I am, thinking over that wise instructor’s advice. Meditating on his attempt to give me and my classmates a local’s perspective in our newly foreign world. Finally I have made a decision worth the effort. I decided when I was hungry, angry, lonely and tired to not stay that way. I’ve come to a halt…and I’m changing the game.


 

I hope you enjoyed a little snippet into the wonderful collection of poetry, short stories and essays that is Voices from the Block: A Legacy of African-American Literature. Click here to check it out! 

Have you ever been involved in a love affair gone bad? What did you do about your dissatisfaction? Dish in the comments below!

 

Photo credit: llnataliell / Source / CC BY-NC

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Weekend Recap: Books, B-days and Laughs

This weekend I made an effort to get out of the house, something my naturally hermetic self has to really gear up for. This is especially true when I’m going through some things. But, it was two of my beautiful cousin’s birthdays and despite the fact that Netflix was calling me, I ignored the muse stealing heffa and hit the streets.

First I had to take care of some business (cuz I stay grinding) by stopping off at a literary event hosted by my local library. I’m so glad I came through because I met a couple of amazing Memphis based writers and got to plug my baby WTRTCA to a room full of readers. It was awesome and I was only a little nervous. Me + public speaking= I need a sedative!

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The agenda. See that last line down there that says “Remarks from Guest Authors”? That’s me! I’m about to blow up y’all.

My assistant, Sista C.J., was slipping on her post. Not only did she not get a picture of me speaking about my book, but she didn’t pass out my promo cards. I had to do it myself. Gasp! I thought I was the talent, and deserved to be treated as such, but I guess working with family keeps you humble. I would dock her pay, but since I’m not paying her anything…

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Doesn’t she just look like an assistant who’s all over her job?

One of the primary speakers was author Lakisha Johnson and she came with it. She’s a successful independent publisher with a faithful fan base here in Memphis. Her topic was “Be Careful Who You Love” and she gave me plenty to think about! For one thing I got to see a pro in action. If you’re an author attending an event to sell books, it’s less about going on and on about your book, and more about leaving an impression on the audience. If they remember you, they’ll remember your book. If you haven’t read any of her books, you might want to check them out. From talking to a few of her fans, I got the impression that they’re very steamy.

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Author Lakissha Johnson keeping us on our toes in this love game.

After stumbling through my 60 second remarks on WTRTCA,  Sista C.J. and I met up with some of our cousins for dinner. We gossiped about family, lusted after a few professional athletes and Idris Elba, talked about my sudden case of baby fever (I promise I can hear my biological clock ticking away like a gong) and ate some delicious Mexican food.

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Mi familia!

Later, we changed the venue and went to see Tony Tone at Chuckles Comedy House. I’d never heard of him, but he was pretty funny. Forgive me for not having a candid picture of him. I was too busy admiring the way his biceps strained against his shirt while he was holding that mic to take a pic.Talk about guns? Bang, bang baby.

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What’d I tell you about those guns?

So all in all it was a weekend full of good people, good food, and good times. What more can a girl ask for?

What did you get into this weekend? Do you attend local literary events on the regular? Any tips to help me get more comfortable with public speaking? How about some advice on how to get over baby fever? Talk to me.

Indie Publishing: The Perks of Being A Boss

Like a bossEveryone wants to be a boss these days. Pop culture is inundated with phrases like “boss chick”, “all eyes on me”, “poppin’ bottles” and my personal favorite “like a boss”. You can use it to describe doing anything with excellence: I ate that whole piece of chicken (like a boss), I paid my taxes (like a boss), I sawed that bunion off (like a boss). You get my point. But when you decide to self publish, you really are a boss. And like I promised last week, I’m going to list the many benefits of independently publishing your books (like a boss). Sorry, I couldn’t resist.


 ********5 Perks to Indie Publishing********

You don’t have answer to anyone but yourself. Didn’t get those proofs approved yet? Feel like changing the cover on a book already in print? Changed your mind about the release date?  Want to release your book in three parts over the course of a year? No problem. There won’t be a marketing exec telling you that you’ve lost your mind. The only person you need to run it by is you. No one will reprimand you. There won’t be a big meeting or conference call where you’re treated like a temperamental writer with threats of re-negotiating your contract. Unless you decide to hold said meeting with yourself. Which is entirely your prerogative. #JudgementFreeZone

You have full creative control. You have the final say on everything from your typeset font to your cover design. Want to make a plot change that’s eons away from your original synopsis/proposal? Go for it. Feel like writing a sci-fi self-help historical romance? Who cares if it’s never been done. Do you, kid. There’s no team of experts stifling your creativity with marketing trends, focus group data, and comparative sales reports. But in all your creativity, don’t forget that you do want to eventually sell your book and keeping a specific fan base in mind is probably a good idea.

Full return on your investments. There’s no team to split the pot with. All profit belongs solely to you. Now, I’m speaking of money made after you’ve deducted the cost of an editor, cover designer, promotional material, etc. Because what you don’t want to produce is some certifiable junk. But once you’ve paid for that initial investment, every cent that comes in belongs to you. You don’t have to worry about paying back an advance from a publishing house if your sales don’t meet their projections.

The complete success or failure of your book is entirely in your hands. Some may view this as a negative, but you’ve got to have a boss mentality about it. I feel totally empowered this fact. No one is going to work harder for me than me. Whether I sell 10 or 10,000 copies of my book is entirely up to me. It’s all dependent upon how much time and effort I’m willing to put into marketing, promoting, and writing. The same is true of traditionally published authors. Publishing houses allot only so much for book promotion, and the less of a name you have for yourself in the industry, the less of a budget you get. So, no matter what, hustling is the name of the game. Suddenly I’m feeling all, “I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.”

The world is your office. Literally. You can work anywhere, at anytime, and do most of it in your pajamas. I love modern technology and the fact that I can network, market, promote, write, email, conference call and connect with business associates from anywhere in the world. Being an indie author (especially once you’ve hit your stride) means freedom from conventional schedules and constraints. You can handle your business and write anywhere. That sense of freedom and discovery is part of what keeps me going down this indie publishing road. I can’t wait to see where it takes us!


Tell me about your indie publishing perks below. Nothing is too small. Whether it’s getting to hang out and drink coffee at Starbucks all day, or the amazing tax write-offs for hosting parties to discuss your book, I want to hear about it!

**Bonus** Check out my take on signs that confirm you’re a writer. Lots of strange behaviors and quirkiness ahead! (Click here.)

 Photo credit: savvysmilinginlove / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

5 Truths Every New Indie Author Should Know

Although my first instinct is to pour my heart out about my sister’s illness, I’m going to resist using y’all as a form of therapy and actually talk about something I haven’t covered in a while: independent publishing. Here are 5 things every new independent publisher should know. I’m going to go ahead and warn you that it ain’t pretty! But I’ll follow up at a later date with some independent publishing positivity.


1. You will feel overwhelmed.– That’s an understatement. You’ll feel so discombobulated that you’ll question your sanity and then answer back with something like, “You passed crazy a long time ago.” There’s so much to be done and there’s no one else to do it. Hence the term “independent”. You’re it kid.

2. You’re a jack of all trades, master of none.– Well, let’s hope you’ve at least mastered the art of writing. But other than that, be prepared to become a business tax professional, an accountant, publicist, marketer, spokesperson, sales person, tech geek, secretary, and the list goes one. You’ll need to know a little bit about several roles in order to maintain some semblance of organization and control.

Frustration

3. You will be disappointed.– Overnight success shouldn’t even be a phrase because it just doesn’t happen. Building a brand and a readership takes time. And for an independently published author it usually takes even longer than most traditionally published authors. If you’re expecting to launch your book at the top of the Amazon bestseller list, then it better be because you’ve spent the last few years building a following that is engaged and ready to support your efforts. Otherwise, be prepared to watch that sales graph move like a little old guy climbing a hill. Using a walker. While stopping to smell the roses and shoot the breeze with every person he see’s. But as long as he’s steadily climbing that hill, things are going in the right direction.

4. More time in a day will be something you’d willingly trade blood, your two front teeth or your first born child for.– Seriously, no matter how organized you are, as an independent publisher your to-do list will always be longer than your completed list. There will always be something to add, something to remember, something to do. No matter how much sleep you sacrifice (and you will sacrifice sleep) there never seems to be enough time. Make your peace with it. I like saying this little mantra, “God has given me all the time I need to fulfill the destiny He has for me.” This is extremely helpful if you view your talent of writing as a calling.

5. Sleep will be something you remember fondly.– This is especially true if you have a 9-5 job in addition to running your publishing company. We’ve already established that time is a sneaky little commodity (some thief called Netflix comes and steals mine on the regular), and trading sleep for a few hours of business dealings and writing will probably happen more often than is healthy. There was actually a point in which I was so tired that I experienced a true life mirage. I…well I…I won’t get into all the details, but it happened. It was crazy weird and the mess freaked me all the way out. Let’s just say I’ve recommitted myself to getting the necessary Z’s.

**Bonus** People will randomly solicit you for services you can easily perform yourself.- I had one chick in-box me on Facebook offering a one day only ‘sale’ to advertise my book on her website. She claimed to have 2,500 followers specifically interested in my often overlooked genre of Christian fiction. But guess what? The access to her website was blocked, the ‘sale’ ended at midnight and there was a pre-requisite $49 set up fee. Oh and let’s not forget that I had to do all of it immediately or the ‘service’ would revert back to it’s original price of $319. I almost cussed! Child please.


This list is in no way meant to discourage a new author from pursuing independent publishing. It’s just me venting about some of the frustrations I’ve experienced since my first self publishing venture. I don’t think I’m alone in wanting to occasionally pull my hair out. (I won’t do it. I’m waayyy too into my hair to do something like that!) Tell me about your indie publishing angst in the comments below!

P.S. For those of you that have been praying and believing with me for my sister Tiffany’s full recovery, I have good news. She’s talking! And soon, the feeding tube will be removed. Things are on an upward spiral and I couldn’t be more grateful. God is good!

Photo credit: Pablo Municio / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND