Having a baby IS a miracle and DOES make you a Goddess

Dear Naomi Schaefer Riley,

Like many others, I read your NY POST piece titled “Having a Baby isn’t a miracle and doesn’t make you a Goddess.”

I’m going to be nice and not fill this post with all the curse words I used while I read your little op-ed piece for the NY Post. Also, you’ve probably heard or read all the names and insults everyone has been thinking on Twitter. I don’t even have to go on Twitter to know that the BeyHive came all the way for you. Or maybe you haven’t. I looked you up on Twitter and surprisingly, the last tweet from you was on February 17th, the day before you decided to hit publish on t his hot mess of an article. Seems like you’re the type of person to throw a rock then run away.

After reading what you wrote, I came away with a few questions, the main one being ‘Who raised you?’ and then ‘Who hurt you?’ And finally, ‘Do you have any friends?’

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Thank You, Jackie

Jackie Collins sigToday is the eighth day that I’ve had to live in a world where my favorite author, my unofficial mentor, my inspiration, and the reason why I write no longer resides. It’s been a long eight days. I’ve finally come to terms with this therefore, today is the day that I’m able to say goodbye to Jackie Collins.

I was twelve when I discovered that life wasn’t all Ramona the Brave and Sweet Valley High. This realization came in the form of Nick and Lauren in American Star.

I fell in love with the way Jackie Collins told a story. I was fascinated by the way she showed the dirty and glamorous sides of Hollywood. I loved her behind the scenes all-access pass she gave her readers into a world most of us could only dream about.Then I met Lucky. Since reading Chances, I’ve chalked up a body count of books high in the thousands but no other character has held my attention like Lucky Santangelo.

I, like thousands of others, had the opportunity to meet Jackie Collins at a book signing. This was when I was writing my first book and was trying to get published. As soon as I walked through the bookstore door, I felt her presence. I was star struck. Her smile was warm and comforting. Her aura was magnetic. I found the courage to ask her what I should do in the face of consistent rejection from publishers and her advice still holds true today.

“No doesn’t mean stop and no doesn’t mean you’re not good enough. No just means you can’t give up. Just keep writing and trying. Someone will love what you do.”

John Mayer once said, “Who I am as a guitarist is defined by my failure to become Jimi Hendrix.”

The same holds true to me as an author. I picked up a pen and pad because I wanted to be the black Jackie Collins. I modeled my career path after hers. It was in my attempt to emulate my favorite author that I found my own voice, my own style, and was able to define Jackie Chanel as an author.

I used to imagine having a one on one conversation with Jackie Collins where we’d talk about writing and Hollywood and she’d share the secrets of her immense success. And I would finally get to say what I’ve always wanted to say. With her passing, I won’t be able to say that in person so I’ll say it now.

Jackie,

Your work awoke a sleeping giant in me. Each time I read a Jackie Collins novel, I want to become a better writer. Your work encouraged me to write more engaging characters, more thoughtful plots, but most importantly, you encouraged me to never ever give up on myself. You didn’t have to know me personally in order to be my motivation and inspiration. I have called you my unofficial mentor since the day we met in that bookstore. It’s a moment that I will never forget and you are a person that I hold very near and dear to my heart. As a reader, a fan, and a fellow author, my life changed as soon as I opened a Jackie Collins book. Thank you for just being the amazing woman that you are.

You will truly be missed.

xojc

 

I Agree With Kanye (shocker, right?)

Normally, I don’t pay attention to Kanye’s rants but something about his post-Grammy rant stuck with me to the point that I was thinking about it when I woke up. Granted, Beck shouldn’t have to give his Grammy to Beyonce, but what Kanye said made absolute sense.
It made sense because his words don’t just apply to music or the Grammys. He’s talking about artistry and creativity.

“What happens is, when you keep on diminishing art, and not respecting the craft, and smacking people in the face after they deliver monumental feats of music, you’re disrespectful to inspiration. We, as musicians, have to inspire people who go to work every day, and they listen to that Beyoncé album, and they feel like it takes them to another place. Then they do this promotional event, and they’ll run the music over somebody’s speech, the artist, because they want commercial advertising. No. We not playing with them anymore. And by the way, I got my wife, my daughter, and I got my clothing line, so I’m not going to do nothing that would put my daughter at risk, but I am here to fight for creativity. That’s the reason why I didn’t say anything tonight. But you all knew what it meant when ‘Ye walked on that stage.” – Kanye West, 2.08.15

The publishing industry is very similar to the music industry. Very few true artists get the accolades that are well deserved, yet the charts are flooded with mediocre (at best) writing.

We can look at the success of Fifty Shades of Gray as an example. We can look at the top 100 Bestselling Urban Fiction books on Amazon as an example. We can look at the top 100 Bestselling Romance novels as another example. We can use the NYT and USA Today Bestseller lists as examples.

In 2014, I read some of the best books, books that challenged my ideals and inspired me to become a better author. Books that changed the way I viewed my past and helped me move forward. I didn’t find these books on any bestseller list. I only discovered them because I went searching for them or the author shared a link on Social Media and I decided to check them out.

When an artist (author, poet, musician, singer, songwriter, etc) creates a work of art that truly inspires, that is truly a genuine work of art, and it is not noticed or accepted by the community to whom it was presented, why would that artist feel anything but disrespect? Why would that artist be inspired to continue to work hard and deliver masterpieces that go unnoticed and unappreciated?

It’s the knowledge that I could pour my heart and soul into my writing and deliver a life-changing novel and still not be recognized for my efforts that makes writing such a challenge. When hard work, passion, and creativity are surpassed by gimmicks and popularity, we have a problem. And guess what…

Houston, we have a problem.

Therefore, I applaud Kanye for his words, not necessarily his actions. In his own special Kanye flavor, he IS fighting for creativity. More people should fight for creativity. If we, as artists, don’t fight to be heard, to be noticed, and for change, who else will?

No one.

You’re Gonna Know His Name

GaryClarkJr-blackvinylmagI’m being 100% honest when I say I have no idea when I first heard of Gary Clark Jr. I simply can’t remember if I read about him on someone else’s blog (John Mayer’s perhaps) or if someone recommended him to me which is how I discover new music because I do not listen to the radio.

I remember getting an email from Amazon about some digital albums for five bucks and I had about $10 in digital download credits that were going to expire so I browsed their offer, saw a few albums that looked interesting and downloaded them. There were three albums that I downloaded that day…Blue Train by John Coltrane, the Coyote Ugly soundtrack (don’t judge me), and Gary Clark Jr.’s Blak and Blu.

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Dear Universal…

Yesterday, the Internet was abuzz with the announcement of the leading actors in the upcoming Fifty Shades of Grey film. So far, based on Twitter and Facebook responses, the fandom is equally split on the casting.

I am one of the many who is not particulary excited about the casting. When I saw that Charlie Hunnam is going to play Christian Grey, my heart sank.

Really? I mean, seriously Universal? What are you thinking?

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