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

 

September 13, 1996

2pac1

Where were you when you heard 2Pac died?

I was sitting in front of the television. I’d been glued to the same spot for hours every day, watching BET and MTV because they would be the first to report on any changes in his condition. I feared the worst and hoped for the best. This time, they broke into regularly scheduled programming.
While I can’t remember the exact words, I remember the soul crushing expression on Tavis Smiley’s face when he delivered the words I couldn’t bear.

“Rapper Tupac Shakur had passed away tonight.”

Tears poured from my eyes and would not stop. My sisters and mother crowded around me and hugged me and held me. I felt a sadness that I was all too familiar with.

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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

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How did A Hustler’s Promise 3 Get Written?

AHP3 no shadowI eat, sleep, and breathe music. It’s no secret. Music is the plot of one of my most successful series. And it was music that guided me through the harrowing process of writing A Hustler’s Promise 3. Let me go back a bit…

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