How I Researched My Irish Heritage for Heart to Heart: Book Two in the Angelica Brown Series

How I Researched My Irish HeritageUnderstanding My Irish Heritage

I’ve been researching the history of Britain’s Irish ethnic cleansing for historical accuracy in my novels, particularly the Angelica Brown Series, and to understand my Irish heritage.

As a Caribbean-American, I mine all of my ancestral origins for inspiration–whether African, Panamanian, Carib Indian or Irish. Unfortunately, there was very little information that could help me to paint an accurate picture of Irish-Caribbean history outside of the usual St. Patrick Day rhetoric and Irish-American rah-rah.

Fortunately, while milling around the South End branch of the Boston Public Library, I found To Hell or Barbados: The ethnic cleansing of Ireland. The author, Sean O’Callaghan, was a former member of the Irish Republican Army and highly qualified to render a reliable account of Oliver Cromwell’s invasion of Ireland.

Along with extensive internet research, this book shed light on how Irish Catholics were stripped of their livelihoods, dignity and property and shipped off to be slaves. I was shocked to learn that Irish slaves in Barbados were considered less valuable than their African counterparts. It was also disheartening to think about the many stories connected to these events that will never be told.

Nevertheless, Heart to Heart explores this part of history through the story of Charles Wright, a 19th century descendant of Barbadian Irish slaves who forms intricate ties with Angel’s family.

Heart to Heart

Heart To Heart: Book Two in the Angelica Brown Series

It felt pretty cool to weave this barely-discussed part of Irish history with the story of West African slavery in Barbados, and create a memorable character in the series.

The human experience of the Irish-Caribbean is not something typically portrayed in school “his story” books. However, very much like the atrocities of the African genocide, this is a part of our collective history that deserves to be honored and understood.

How I Researched My Irish Heritage for Heart to Heart: Book Two in the Angelica Brown Series

Beacon Hill: Halloween in Angel Brown’s Neighborhood

Beacon Hill: Halloween in Angel Brown’s Neighborhood

Beacon Hill: Halloween in Angel's neighborhood

Beacon Hill: Halloween in Angel’s neighborhood

Every year the residents of Beacon Hill host a fantastic multi-block Halloween party that sees hundreds of costumed people–kids, parents, tourists, Halloween enthusiasts, weirdos–roaming from door to door, with expanding bags of candy, smiles, and clicking cameras. The atmosphere is festive, like a Northeastern mardi gras.

This is just one of the reasons why I decided that Beacon Hill would be Angel Brown‘s neighborhood. Her family has lived there since the 1800s. In Blood To Blood, we start to get a taste of the deep sense of wonder Angel has for her ‘hood:

The feeling of my toes catching in the crevices between the uneven bricks made me appreciate, again, the history of my neighborhood. The gas lighting, colonial architecture, and sense of danger in the dark, centuries-old alleyways always fascinated me. ~ from Blood To Blood

In an upcoming Angel Brown installment (shh, I can’t say which one!), we’ll see the family participate in the yearly Halloween festivities. I’m really enjoying weaving this tradition, and more Beacon Hill history, into Angel Brown’s story. In the meantime, here are a bunch of pics I took tonight. Happy Halloween! And don’t forget Heart To Heart will be released November 3!

IMG_20141031_184918

IMG_20141031_182330IMG_20141031_19010920141031_194729IMG_20141031_192545IMG_20141031_192422IMG_20141031_192112IMG_20141031_191514IMG_20141031_190443IMG_20141031_181853IMG_20141031_192707IMG_20141031_185931IMG_20141031_185231IMG_20141031_184952IMG_20141031_183027IMG_20141031_182909IMG_20141031_19300920141031_1949102014-10-31 20.48.24

 

How to Make Your Dreams Come True in 5 Easy Steps

How to Make Your Dreams Come True in 5 Easy Steps

In Blood To Blood, Angel Brown vows to follow her dream of being a singer despite incredible challenges. This is in line with the book’s theme: pursuing your dreams and conquering the blockages along the way.

Besides music and writing, one of my passions is talking to young people about following their dreams, and giving them concrete details about how to go about making those dreams into reality.

I recently spoke to the young folks at Fenway High School and Boston Arts Academy about my books, writing and manifesting dreams. I believe teenage life represents the perfect storm of opportunity. Like kids, teens usually have big dreams, but unlike kids, teens usually have people telling them what they can’t and can’t accomplish.

Like my mom used to say “There’s no such thing as can’t.” I love nothing more than showing people how to prove the naysayers wrong. Here are 5 easy steps to take to make your dreams, whatever they may be, come true.

  1. Identify – Target exactly what it is you want to do. Be specific.
  2. Educate – Whether it’s taking classes, reading books or picking the brains of someone doing what you want to do, you can never stop learning. Learn all you can about your chosen craft.
  3. List – Make a list of the steps you need to take to reach your goal. This is the foundation of your plan and something you will continue to tweak and adjust over time.
  4. Execute – Do the things on your list. Finish them one at a time, and do your best. Be patient with yourself and the process.
  5. Persevere – Never give up. Surround yourself with people who will support and/or inspire you. Ignore the naysayers, even if it is your own family. Don’t believe anyone who says you can’t pursue, and reach, your dream.

Repeat the above steps until you reach your goal. And then repeat these steps for any new goals you have. These are basic dream manifestation tactics.

Thanks to all the schools that have opened their doors so far and allowed me to meet all the fabulous young dreamers out there. Keep making your dreams happen!

 How to Make Your Dreams Come True in 5 Easy Steps

List of Artists – “Sun City” Video – Artists United Against Apartheid

List of Artists – “Sun City” Video – Artists United Against Apartheid

List of Artists - "Sun City" Video - Artists United Against Apartheid

List of Artists – “Sun City” Video – Artists United Against Apartheid – Bruce Springsteen, David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks                 Photo: 30daysout

 

 

It’s a day after the passing of the great Nelson Mandela and my mind is going back in time to when apartheid was brought to the attention of the world, and most importantly, youth such as myself, through music.

One thing that came to mind was this 80’s video. I’d seen it many times as a kid growing up in Boston on the awesome V66; a progressive, local music video channel that made MTV look like the joke we all learned it to be later.

While MTV balked at playing videos featuring black artists (Michael Jackson was the first in heavy rotation), V66 routinely played this political video which featured a new music called rap as well as legends of the industry such as Miles Davis. The video featured an exciting cross-section of genres, nationalities and generations; everyone from Ringo Star to Jimmy Cliff to a young-ish Bruce Springsteen to what was left of the original Temptations (David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks).

Below is a list of all the music artists, personalities and celebrities that appeared in the video. If I have missed anybody, please leave a comment and I’ll add after verification.

RIP Nelson Mandela!

Afrika Bambaataa
Big Youth
Bob Dylan
Bob Geldof
Bobby Womack
Bonnie Raitt
Bono
Bruce Springsteen
Charlie Wilson
Clarence Clemons
Darlene Love
Daryl Hall
Daryl Hannah
David Ruffin
Duke Bootee
Dumisani Kumalo
Eddie Kendricks
George Clinton
Gil Scott-Heron
Hart Perry
Herbie Hancock
Iqbal Akhund
Jackson Browne
Jennifer Davis
Jesse Jackson
Jimmy Cliff
Joey Ramone
John Oates
Jonathan Demme
Kashif
Keith Richards
Kurtis Blow
Linton Kwesi Johnson
Lotti Golden
Lou Reed
Malopoets
Mark Morales
Melle Mel
Michael Monroe
Miles Davis
Nona Hendryx
Pat Benatar
Pete Townshend
Peter Gabriel
Peter Garrett
Peter Wolf
Ray Barretto
Rene Gezan
Ringo Starr
Ron Carter
Ron Wood
Rubén Blades
Run-D.M.C.
Scorpio
Shenkar
Sonny Okosuns
Stanley Jordan
Steven Van Zandt
Stiv Bators
Tina B.
Tony Williams
Via Afrika
Will Downing
Winnie Mandela
Zak Starkey

 

Also see: Artists United Against Apartheid

Source: IMDB.com, Wikipedia

List of Artists – “Sun City” Video – Artists United Against Apartheid

Upcoming 2014 Novels

Upcoming 2014 Novels

Hi folks, I have great news! I’m happy to announce release information and titles for my next two upcoming books. Here are the upcoming 2014 novels with a little taste of what to expect:

The first release will be To Protect and Serve. It is the first in a series of books based on a character from Blood to Blood, Justin McCarthy. In Blood to Blood we met Justin who is a blood donor for the book’s blood-drinking heroine, Angel Brown. In To Protect and Serve, we enter his world before he meets Angel. Eighteen year-old Justin hails from a long line of Boston Police Department officers, so prepare yourself for plenty of crime and action. The book is due to drop in April 2014.

The second release will be Heart to Heart, the highly anticipated sequel to Blood to Blood. Due in May 2014, Heart to Heart will see newborn Shimshana Angel deal with the highs and lows of her way-to-complex teen love life while dealing with new pop star fame, blood lust, and immortal powers.

Keep your eyes peeled for excerpts, cover reveals and more over the coming months.

Ok, I’m going back to writing. Cheers!

Upcoming 2014 Novels

Boston Stands Strong

Boston Stands Strong

Boston Stands Strong

Boston Stands Strong

I’m in shock as are many of us here. Trying to do anything I can to help anyone I can. It feels like there isn’t enough to give.

To the left is a picture of a little boy, Martin, waiting at the finish line, so proud of his marathon running dad, the father he had just hugged after he crossed the line. The dad he was waiting to hug again. Seconds after that hug, this boy’s body was taken away from him. But they can never take away his spirit.

Boston Stands Strong

Boston Stands Strong

I am proud of the way our city has come together in the wake of this tragedy. Bostonians always knew that no matter how cold people say we are deep down there is the Rock of Ages. And it’s visible today. In a city full of history, “oldest,” and firsts, we are stronger today than we ever have been. We are united. And we are moving forward through this thing one step at a time. Patriots Day now has a new level of significance; Patriots Day 2013 showed the world that they can never kill our Spirit.

Thanks to everyone for all your words and calls of encouragement. God bless all the souls who have been affected by the events from yesterday. God bless us all.

Boston Stands Strong