Hello World…Again, Part Two

For me, 2016 was a journey.

Down.

2017 is seeing me rise.

Up.

That’s my story in a nutshell.


Here’s the longer version of that story…

In 2016:

  • I let fear take over my life and, fully operating in lack/limitation mode, made some poor decisions
  • I tried to be something I am not and hid my truth for fear that it would hinder me
  • I was in constant chronic pain
  • I stopped leading the active lifestyle I’d led my entire adult life
  • Because of the poor decisions I’d made, I suffered from anxiety that was so bad I was afraid to fall asleep each night
  • I let anger toward, and hatred of, an individual take root and fester in my heart and mind
  • I became severely depressed; my mind went into what was the darkest place it had ever gone
  • I started taking prescription anti-depressants (I hate drugs)
  • I gained 15 pounds
  • I let fear take over my life and, fully operating in lack/limitation mode, made some poor decisions

Notice the last item is identical to the first item. That’s because the cycle repeated. Needless to say, I didn’t finish my next books.

via GIPHY

There was some progress in business and other exterior pursuits, but when it comes to what really matters, who I AM, I lost myself in 2016.

But I didn’t realize it until the last week of the year. Specifically, the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

As a result… I started to rise

In 2017:

  • I’ve restarted my yoga practice
  • I’ve reprogrammed my brain to tell me something positive as soon my eyes in the morning
  • I’ve restarted my daily meditation practice
  • I workout 5 times a week
  • I speak, walk, and live my truth
  • For the first time (in a loooong time), I’m on a diet
  • I’ve restarted my yoga practice

Notice the last item is identical to the first item. That’s because the cycle repeats. Needless to say, I am feeling so much better.

In addition…

  • I no longer require prescription anti-depressants
  • I’m actively stating my truth to whomever I come into contact with (how liberating!)
  • Whenever anger/hatred tries to raise its head, I lovingly obliterate it

I’ve discovered that speaking my truth cannot destroy me. It just makes me stronger.

via GIPHY

2017, so far, has been an amazing year. The winter is over, Spring is here, and my goal is to bring the heat (ok, I couldn’t resist the Game of Thrones dragon reference).

 

via GIPHY

 

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

Hello World…Again

Hello World...AgainHello World…again. It’s been so long, almost a year, since my last post, it feels like forever.

Just so you know, I am continuing to hone a new companion series to the Angelica Brown Series.

The first volume of the To Protect and Serve line-up was due for a 2015 release. However, I realized it wasn’t quite ready. The police/crime/fantasy series is based on Justin McCarthy, Angel’s blood donor in the Angelica Brown series.

I’m also working on the third installment of Angel’s story. It’s pretty spectacular in my opinion, but I’ll leave that to your determination, once it’s released.

Am I being mysterious? Perhaps. But like every artist, I suppose, I’ve gone through my creative highs and lows.

Hello World…Again

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

WeNeedDiverseBooks

Octavian Nothing – M.T. Anderson

On Day Three of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, the discussion surrounding diversity in children and YA literature perseveres.

STUFF hit the fan after BookCon announced its completely white line-up of authors (and one cat who is white, too). #WeNeedDiverseBooks, a campaign slated to run for three days (May 1-3), called out the lack of diversity in children’s literature, went viral and saw people from all over the ‘net posting selfies and compelling reasons as to why we need diverse books. In the wake of this outcry BookCon changed, and is still in the process of changing, its lineup.

The squeakiest wheel gets the oil. Nevertheless, the best result of this campaign has been the discovery of books and authors by people who otherwise might have never heard of them. And the power of social media platforms such as Tumblr and Twitter has served as a gathering place of millions of like minds. Here are a few of my faves:

 

 

Today is the third and final day of the campaign and the theme is #diversifyyourshelf. Take a picture of a book you’ve bought or read that can be classified as a diverse book and post it for the world to see on your favorite social media platform. Check out my Twitter feed to see what I’ve posted and say hello!

WeNeedDiverseBooks

Blood To Blood: Second Edition

Blood To Blood: Second Edition – It’s here!

The second edition of Blood To Blood is now available for sale! Look for new cover art and a more compact size (5.5″ x 8.5″ in the paperback format).

The new edition, released March 18 (today) features a hot new cover. You’ll see a blood-filled wineglass in the process of shattering. Yum… Check it out:

Blood To Blood: Second Edition

Blood To Blood: Second Edition

This is a huge change from the original cover which featured the shadowy silhouette of a singer holding a microphone and a lot of red. I’ll post it down below so you can compare.

Blood To Blood: First Edition

Blood To Blood: First Edition

Besides the new cover art and paperback size, there is also a slight title change. The subtitle “Book One in the Angelica Brown Series” has been added to differentiate it from the upcoming sequel Heart To Heart (Book Two).

For all you who are interested, there are still autographed first edition paperbacks available here. You can also order an autographed second edition paperback as well.

The first edition is officially out of print as of the date of this post, while the second edition is available pretty much everywhere. Ask for it at your local Barnes & Nobles, that is if it’s still open. If you’re looking for it in your local indie bookstore, it’s available for wholesale ordering through Baker & Taylor and Ingram.

Thanks to all my fabulous friends and book-loving colleagues who helped me zero in on the best cover art! I love the new design and hope you do, too.

Goodbye first edition! Hello upcoming sequel!

Blood To Blood: Second Edition

 

 

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

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

O Come All Ye Faithful – RIP Sandy Hook Angels

O Come All Ye Faithful – RIP Sandy Hook Angels

On this weekend when so many Americans need emotional support and a sense of stability in the wake of the unspeakable incidents that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School, I rediscovered a video which has repeatedly brought comfort to my soul. When I write about “The Note For Which There Is No Name” (Blood To Blood) I think of Mariah Carey and the angelic beauty she communicates in this version of “O Come All Ye Faithful.”

At 2:40, there is an indescribable look on Patricia Carey’s face as she gazes at her daughter. That gaze speaks of years of struggle, love, sacrifice and reward. It is a look that revels in the honor of knowing that your “mom work” paid off.This look of pure love and joy almost always brings a smile to my face.

Nevertheless, today my heart breaks when I see the parents of the angels who were taken from us at Sandy Hook; angels whose parents will never have the opportunity to gaze lovingly at them as they live out their dreams. Angels who will never see their children again in this life.

God bless the parents and children of the angels of Sandy Hook. God bless our country and show us the Light.

“O Come All Ye Faithful”

O Come All Ye Faithful – RIP Sandy Hook Angels