Happy New Year!

It's 2016!

Whether you're starting with a blank page or staring at a stack ripe for revision, there's no better time than the dawn of a new year to check the compass. To make sure your life is on course. One of the greatest gifts I've ever received was realizing that I have the power within myself to set that course. We all do. So, here's to stepping into the new year, ready to make every day count!

Following are my wishes for you [and me] in the new year:

1. The courage to doggedly chase the dream.
2. The strength to silence the doubt.
3. The wisdom to understand that no gain is too small. 

Happy 2016, everyone! 

How Writer's Write Fiction 2015

Hi all! Remember when I was here a few weeks ago, tail between my legs, and apologized for the lack of Fiction Friday posts before declaring the drought was over? And then, remember how I’ve only posted one short story since then? Yep? Okay great, we’re all caught up on what a loser I’ve been.

But wait!

I’m not exactly the loser I seem to be. I have actually been writing. A lot. Not only that, I’ve been learning! Thanks to Twitter, I discovered the How Writers Write Fiction 2015 class. It’s an online course through the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program (IWP). I have to confess that I had no idea what a prestigious program IWP was when I signed up. And since the course was free (that’s right: FREE), I completely underestimated what I was in for. But, when I was assigned homework before the class officially started during the Welcome Week, I figured it out pretty quickly.

The course is broken into seven sessions:
Class Session 1: Starting with Character
Class Session 2: Expanding on Character: Cast and Dialogue
Class Session 3: Working with Plot
Class Session 4: Using Character to Produce Frame and Arc
Class Session 5: Voice and Setting
Class Session 6: Immersion and Setting: Description and World-Building
Class Session 7: Embracing Revision

Awesome, right? Each session involves videos, reading assignments, writing assignments, peer reviews, and participation in group discussions. The lessons from the mentors, the homework assigned, and the insightful discussions make it easy to see why IWP’s reputation is so golden. Free doesn’t mean easy, that’s for sure. Each homework assignment is more challenging than the next.

The icing on the cake? The immediate feedback from your fellow classmates and mentors! I have met some talented writers (from beginners to published) who are incredibly supportive and offer notes that are genuinely meant to help you become a better writer.

I jumped on this course because I wanted to finally get my next book out of my head and on paper. “Inspiration exists, but it must find you working,” said Picasso. I wish I could shake his hand and tell him how right he was. I’m even considering jumping into NaNoWriMo again this year, despite this crazy course load.

Look, I’ll admit that I’m exhausted. In fact, every day I wonder how in the world I graduated from college when this one class is kicking my behind! But despite any of that, I’m unbelievably inspired and exhilarated.

So, fellow writers in search of a challenge that will force you out a rut or even better, your comfort zone, I can’t recommend this course enough.  And I can't wait to sign up for How Writer’s Write Fiction 2016!

Never Forget

Proud to live in New York CIty, where I learned that hate might destroy, but love will always heal. #NeverForget

Fiction Friday: [Hearts Ablaze in Charm City]

Stockpiles of pain
Sit heavily on tear-stained chests.
Hearts smoldering for a lifetime
Under the banner of:
Less Than.

Fires are burning, but
far beyond, far deeper than
the images splashed
across television screens.

The stockpiles fanned
again and again,
finally sparked, ignited
In the hearts of
The oppressed.

‘Legitimate’ news sources
taken to task
by Twitter.
Citizen journalism broadcasting
truths that don't boost ratings.
Ensuring that the world:

And with each heart sparked
to action, to empathy,
another Less Than banner

I felt that it was important for me to share the birth of this poem. The other day I watched an interview between Wolf Blitzer and activist Deray McKesson. And although I pride myself on taking most broadcast news with a grain of salt, this particular interview really got to me for the following reasons: I have lived in Baltimore. I have friends and family in Baltimore. I'm a black woman. And I'm a human being. To blatantly attempt to goad someone into creating the sound bite that you want is not journalism. Trying to coerce someone to condemn the legitimate feelings of the oppressed is not journalism. Those family and friends I told you about? They were posting images and sending tweets about what the majority were doing. Coming together in crowds of hundreds, sometimes thousands to figure out how to bring the peace. How to talk to the children and make this a teachable moment. But, not only was I not seeing this on the news, here was Wolf only wanting to perpetuate the 'If it bleeds it leads' work ethic of the news industry. Angrier than I'd been in a long time, I created and posted the following graphic on Instagram along with the caption that follows it:

Above is what happened after I watched #WolfBlitzer's interview with #DerayMcKesson.

I lived in #Baltimore for 9 months while working on The Wire and what I learned about the people there was that they love their city. They're proud of their city. I shouldn't have to go to social media to get the whole story and to recognize the strong people I remember so well. Especially when people are getting pretty hefty paychecks under the guise of being fair and impartial. 

I am in no way condoning the violence or saying that it shouldn't be reported. What I am saying is that if you only tell 1/4 of a story it becomes a tale of fiction based on a partial truth. This systematic grooming of people's minds to believe that people of color, especially poor people of color, are all violent thugs is a problem on the national level. And it's a problem that will never get resolved until we are shown the whole picture. The good and the bad.

To Baltimore...you are more than the picture they are painting. #StayStrong #Rebuild #TeachAndGrow

Happy New Year: 2015

Fiction Friday: [Thank You]

This Thanksgiving I have so much to be thankful for: an incredible network of supportive family and friends, a roof over my head, Talenti Gelato Sea Salt Caramel in the freezer. But, I wanted to take a moment to express my gratitude to those of you reading this right now. Whether you subscribe to the blog and read every post or whether this is your first time here...I want to thank you for checking out my tiny, tiny corner of the world. 


And, since today is actually Fiction Friday, I am going to encourage you to find your own story by providing you with a little photo prompt. Please do what you will with the following picture of how we capped off the Thanksgiving meal in our household:

Nothing says Thanksgiving like a punching ninja surrounded by hearts on top of a blueberry peach pie, right? Feel free to share what you're thankful for in the comments below.

Today and everyday...thank you. Happy creating!


The outpouring of love for Sarah Jones has not only touched my heart, it has given me hope. Hope that her death will give all of us the strength to speak up for every crew member whose safety is being marginalized. As freelancers, our next job is based on our reputation and speaking up about safety should not get you labeled as a troublemaker, as I have witnessed too many times. We have to do better.

If the Academy honors Sarah during the In Memoriam portion of the Oscars telecast this weekend it would send a clear message. Not only that Sarah mattered, but all of us whose names and faces you don’t know, whose jobs you don't understand, who don’t bring in the $20 million paychecks—matter.

I never had the pleasure of meeting Sarah Jones, but she was a crew member. She was my family. I hope you will join me in honoring her memory by staying vigilant until the safety of every member of the team is more important than the shot.

[All photos were taken from Slates for Sarah. If you want to see amazing love from all over the world, I highly recommend following them.]

Welcome 2014!

It's a brand new year y'al!

Now, I'm not a big fan of making New Year's resolutions because I have failed at way too many.  Instead I have replaced resolutions with wishes. So, following are my wishes for 2014 and I wish them for all of you as well:

I wish that each day is filled with love, kindness, beauty, hope, creativity and unlimited possibilities. I also wish for the wisdom to see and appreciate each one.

Happy New Year everyone!

Are you making any New Year's resolutions? Wishes? What are your goals for the new year? Please let me know in the comments below!