Beacon Hill Halloween 2017

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

Heart To Heart Top 10 Video Playlist

Heart To Heart Top 10 Video Playlist

Heart To Heart Top 10 Video Playlist

Heart To Heart Top 10 Video Playlist

Like the Top 10 Audio list, this video list offers the top songs from the Heart To Heart Official Playlist, the sixty songs I played religiously over the roughly year and a half that it took to write and edit (and edit, and edit) Heart To Heart. There are also a few other songs from the official list that are thrown in here, just for fun.

Unfortunately, not every song has an official video, some are simply fan-made such as the Dark Shadows tune, “Go All The Way,” which was never officially released.

Artists on this video list include Lorde, Ellie Goulding, Santigold, Icona Pop, Florence + the Machine, and more.

Also check out the Official Blood To Blood Playlist so see what I listened to while writing the first book in the Angelica Brown Series, Blood To Blood.

Heart To Heart Top Ten Audio Playlist

Heart To Heart Top Ten Audio Playlist

If you read my last post, you’ll know I had sixty songs on constant rotation while writing Heart To Heart. Like Blood To Blood‘s playlist, the compilation of songs reflect my obsession with always playing music while writing or doing anything in general.

Some of the songs were played more than others, and I always like to check out the “Number of Plays” column in iTunes to get a glance at which tunes I played more than others. Most of this list features female artists that I pretty much wrote to non-stop. The wildcard in the bunch is a song from the Johnny Depp starrer Dark Shadows that was never even released (don’t ask me how it got it in my playlist, I’ll plead the fifth if you do). The only other soundtrack song comes from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire; Santigold’s goose pimple-inducing “Shooting Arrows At The Sky.”

This audio playlist features the Top 10 of the list in order of plays, starting with the most played. For the entire official list check here. Enjoy the tunes!

Heart To Heart Top Ten Audio Playlist

Heart To Heart Official Playlist

Blood To Blood Official Playlist

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

Top 10 Nelson Mandela Links

Top 10 Nelson Mandela Links

Top 10 Nelson Mandela Links

Top 10 Nelson Mandela Links – Photo: ANC.org.za

My 9 year old asked me who was Nelson Mandela. At that moment I realized that I hadn’t sufficiently done my job.

Why do we endlessly discuss only the people that have passed on; King, Ghandi, Teresa, Jesus, but the living legends remain spoken about only every now and then? Why must death precede canonization?

It has been twenty minutes since I learned of the passing of one the world’s greatest leaders. So many emotions are flooding my head and heart. I want to give an answer that will really address the question. Who was Nelson Mandela?

It’s a simple question but the answer is epic and, perhaps, as endless as the man’s impact on the world and future generations.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” ~ Nelson Mandela

The easiest way for me to answer is to compile a list of authoritative links that will collectively do justice to the magnanimity of the life of, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest people to walk the face of this earth. Instead of relying on my rambling attempts to explain in a few breaths, I hope this list will help my son, and anyone reading this, to truly understand the enduring power of humility, forgiveness, grace and strength in the face of great adversity.

Rest in peace, Madiba. You are with the Ancestors now.

Top 10 Nelson Mandela Links

  1. The Life and Legacy of Nelson Mandela: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/12/05/world/africa/Mandela-Timeline.html?ref=africa#/#time216_6663
  2. Nelson Mandela on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nelson_Mandela
  3. Nelson Mandela.org – Send a message of condolence to Mr. Mandela’s family: http://www.nelsonmandela.org/p90/index.html
  4. Mandela: An Audio History (NPR): http://www.npr.org/2004/04/26/1851882/mandela-an-audio-history
  5. BBC – A wealth of information on Mr. Mandela: http://www.bbc.co.uk/search/news/?q=nelson%20mandela
  6. Nelson Mandela – The ANC Archives – Video, audio, documents, photos and so much more. This is a virtual treasure trove.: http://ancarchives.org.za/view/collections/leadership/nelson-mandela/
  7. Youtube – Nelson Mandela – Decades of video clips on Nelson Mandela: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=%22nelson+mandela%22&sm=3
  8. Nelson Mandela – Biography.com: http://www.biography.com/people/nelson-mandela-9397017
  9. The Nelson Mandela Museum: http://www.nelsonmandelamuseum.org.za/
  10. Nelson Mandela – ANC.org – Send messages of condolence, read speeches and writings, and more: http://www.anc.org.za/nelson/index.php

Perseids Meteor Shower: 2013

Perseids Meteor Shower: 2013

I love meteor showers and every year always do my best to see them in action. Recently, we got blessed with the Perseids Meteor Shower, and it was fabulous.

In the Northeast, it was challenging to see the shower clearly on the last peak night, August 11. Fortunately, the viewing was extended to the 12th, which is when I got to see it. I didn’t get any good pictures; I leave that to the real photographers. What I did do was compile some of my favorite pics to share with you. These all come from www.nasa.gov. Feel free to share links of any other ones (not photoshopped or pics of satellites) you’ve found over the ‘net. Enjoy!

Perseids Meteor Shower 2013

Video allsky image of Perseid shower over Colorado – Credit Chris Peterson
This shows 85 Perseids (non-Perseids have been removed) captured between dusk and dawn.

Perseids Meteor Shower 2013

Rainbow Perseid – A multicolored Perseid Meteor, from the Red Desert of Wyoming on 8-11-13. Credit – dakotalapse

 

Perseids Meteor Shower 2013

Perseids from the Washburn-Norlands Living History Center – Credit Steve Coates

Perseids Meteor Shower 2013

Monster Mojave Perseid Meteor – Credit – Wally Pacholka

Perseids Meteor Shower 2013

Credit – conemmil

Current Playlist: Top 3 Albums May 2013

Current Playlist: Top 3 Albums May 2013

Current playlist: Top 3 Albums May 2013

Current playlist: Top 3 Albums May 2013 – Ed Sheran +

I’m currently writing two pieces: the follow-up to Blood To Blood and a yet-to-be-titled piece revolving around one of its characters, Justin McCarthy. Although, I admit, the Blood To Blood sequel has taken a back seat to the Justin piece which is eating me alive. He’s a very intense guy, that Justin, a flawed character… and his world is intense. Anyone who knows me personally can testify that I am not the same, and it’s truly all Justin’s fault. That’s pretty much all I can say about it for now.

So anyway, here’s the music that’s been serving as a backdrop for my writing over the past month. I’ve been really getting into Ed Sheeran (although he’s more in line with Sawyer Creed’s character in all honesty), but I love his brand of hip-hop-powered acoustic soul and the way he just lays it all out there for everyone to see. The newest artist I’ve been digging is Imagine Dragons. I’m still soaking in their sound and have found it sonically in line with the mood in Justin’s head. Silversun Pickups remains on constant rotation from last month.

Current playlist: Ed Sheeran
Current playlist:
Ed Sheeran
Current playlist: <br>Imagine Dragons
Current playlist: Imagine Dragons
Current playlist: Silversun Pickups
Current playlist: Silversun Pickups

Additional artists in current rotation:

Metric
Santigold
Jay-Z
Muse
Black Keys
Grizzly Bear
Cherry Bomb
Nirvana
Hole
Rihanna
Beethoven
Deadmau5

Current Playlist: Top 3 Albums May 2013

Current Playlist: March 2013

Current Playlist: March 2013

It’s happened. I haven’t done a weekly post in over a month. But I have a good reason…

You see, I am currently in a wonderful fog. This fog manifests whenever a character and/or his/her circumstances has taken over and demands that I write what is satisfactory and what is true. I have experienced this fog before, but this time it is thicker because I am working on  two books simultaneously.

Some mornings I can barely see through this fog straight enough to drive my 9 year old to school.

I’m still learning how to operate successfully in this sometimes disturbing fog. When the characters get demanding, I streamline my life, focus on priorities and say “no” more often to things that can wait. So for now, I feel no pressure to keep up with weekly posts.

However, I must take a breather to tell you about some of the music I’ve been listening to. Since music is always a priority outside and within the fog, the tunes and artists take on a special meaning because they become a part of the creative process; the background as well as part of the fabric of ideas. Some of these tunes I listen to when I’m writing, some when I’m reading, doing research, and some when I’m turning over the plot and characters in my mind at a red light.
I’m currently writing two pieces: the follow-up to Blood To Blood and a yet-to-be-titled piece revolving around one of its characters, Justin McCarthy.

Current playlist: Santigold

Current playlist: Santigold

Current playlist: Adele

Current playlist: Adele

Current playlist: Silversun Pickups

Current playlist: Silversun Pickups

Artists in current rotation

Metric
Santigold
Muse
Alpha Blondy
System of a Down
Adele
Grizzly Bear
Silversun Pickups
Cherry Bomb
Kaskade
Van Hunt
Felix da Housecat
Bruno Mars
Deadmau5

Current Playlist: March 2013