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Friday, April 29, 2016

Lil’ Kim: A Selfie of Self-Hatred




This week Rapper Lil’ Kim posted up some selfies of herself on Instagram. And The once beautiful bubblin’ brown sista used plastic surgery to turn herself into a glorified White woman with bleached skin, blonde hair weaved in her head, and a nose cut down to appear like a White woman’s.


Damn. Just Damn.


But this isn’t the only case of a Black woman trying to change herself into a glorified White woman. Recent images of actress Persia White show her with a head full of blonde hair. 







And actress Lark Vorhees posted pictures of herself a few months ago with bleached her skin and blonde hair in her head. If anything, Lil’ Kim is just a part of a disturbing trend among Black women.


Lil’ Kim says she used plastic surgery to change herself into this abomination because men like her father and Simps the late rapper Notorious B.I.G said she wasn’t attractive.


I don’t know I thought she was kind of hot back in the day. Not my type, but still hot. When I saw her on the cover of the Hard Core album back in 1997 when I was working at Food Emporium I turned my head. I’ll admit I’d give a woman that looked like Kim a second look if she passed me by on the street.


Now the media wants to make it look like Black men made Lil’ Kim feel so bad she wanted to change herself into this abomination. However, this trend of Black women turning themselves into Glorified White women has nothing to do with Black men and has never had anything to do with Black men.


It has to do with the low self-esteem that these Black women have about themselves.


The truth is most Black women don’t like being Black women. And the reason why they don’ like being Black women has nothing to do with Black men.


No, that has to do with White Supremacy and the culture they’ve been taught about beauty from the day they’re born.


Most Black people deify White men and women. And they see them as the ideal standard of beauty in the world. And in an effort to get closer to the White people they see as God they’ll desecrate their own image.  This is why a Black woman will sew blonde hair in her head, bleach her skin, and perform surgery on herself to remake herself into the image of the being she believes is God: The White Man.


Only the White man she seeks the approval of isn’t a real person. He’s in her head. An imaginary being who she thinks will love her and make her feel loved. Someone who will approve of her. Someone who will truly care for her and tell her she’s special.


Unfortunately, Lil’ Kim was too busy hearing the imagined voices of her father and the late Biggie Smalls in her head. And because she couldn’t shut them out she sought to change herself to please the imaginary people in her head who told her she wasn’t good enough. Lacking the self-esteem and self-worth to find real people who would value her for who she was, she began chasing an imaginary standard of beauty created by Madison Avenue advertisers and Hollywood movie studios that is based on ideals, but not rooted in reality. 


What most Black women never come to understand is that not even real White women look like the White women we see in those magazine covers. To create those imaginary images, those models and actresses paint their faces with a gallon of makeup, hair extensions, and clothes that are pinned in place to fit just right. Then when all that is finished, they use Photoshop to clean up the flaws and make everything appear “perfect”


No woman of any race, creed or color will ever look like those idealized image of White women in the media. Because they were never real in the first place.


Lil’l Kim will never understand that it was Black men who were elevating the image of Black women like Li’l Kim. It was brothers who were buying her albums and buying magazines with her in it. They were the one establishing her as the standard of beauty in the Black community.


Only she and many other sistas couldn’t hear them telling her she was pretty enough.


What Black women like Lil’ Kim don’t know is that Black men like myself don’t want White women. We’ve never wanted White women. If anything we tried to love Black women. We think Black women are beautiful. And we try to tell her and show her how beautiful we think she is. Unfortunately, because Black women don’t love themselves they oftentimes are incapable of hearing the voices of those who value and appreciate them for who they are. Sistas are so focused on the color of their skin that they can’t connect with those who appreciate them for the content of their character.





Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Monday, April 25, 2016

Progress Report




The first quarter of 2016 has been a busy one for me. I’ve been working hard on writing projects like I’ve been working at a 9-5 job.


Unfortunately, the SJS DIRECT 2016 Cover Kickstarter didn’t get funded. But with the help of people on YouTube, eBay and a payment from Google, I was able to raise enough money to pay Bill Walko for the Isis: Bride of Dracula cover.


And it is a masterpiece. It’s one of Bill’s BEST pieces, and it’s gotten a positive response from everyone who has seen it. People have shared the cover on their Tumblrs, and Facebooks, and it got dozens of Facebook likes on the day I debuted it.


Thanks to Bill’s cover and my writing, the launch of Isis:Bride of Dracula has been a successful one. Isis: Bride of Dracula has gotten the best reception an SJS DIRECT book has ever received. People are giving the story a look and it’s getting some sales.


I’d love to work with Bill again on another Isis series project, and I’m hoping to get the money together to pay for a cover for Isis: Imitation of Life. That’s a book I really want to put a GREAT cover on because the subject matter of Black heroes in the Golden Age of comics and Pulp fiction is a story I want readers to take a serious look at. That’s why the book will be delayed. I want to pay respect to all those brothers and Sistas by presenting a great book telling a story of what happened in that Pre-Civil Rights Jim Crow era.   


I’d also love to put a Bill Walko cover on Isis Samurai Goddess. That story was inspired by Quentin Tarentino’s Kill Bill and has a cool grindhouse vibe I think readers will enjoy. I’ve got a cool concept I’d love to see him draw out. (Imagine Isis facing off against Three Go-Gos wearing Catholic school uniforms, wielding Meteor Hammers, Nunchcks, and fans!)


Both Isis: Imitation of Life and Isis: Samurai Goddess are edited, have their pages laid out and have their PDFs uploaded to CreateSpace and Kindle. Just trying to get the money together for the covers.



I’m hoping to build on the strong momentum Isis: Bride of Dracula has with next month’s The Man Who Rules the World. The sequel to The Temptation of John Haynes has been getting positive responses to the cover and the sample chapter I posted up on the blog.  If you like movies like those in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you’ll enjoy this book. It’s basically like an Avengers Movie, but featuring an all-Black cast.


The SJS DIRECT 2016 fantasy catalog is gonna wrap with E’steem: The Witches of Eastland. I wanted to publish Isis: Samurai Goddess, but I’m gonna put it on the shelf until I can raise the funds to pay for a quality cover. I want to keep the standard for Isis series consistent so readers can see that I’m making efforts to continue to raise the bar in terms of quality. 




Spinsterellhas been getting an incredibly positive response since it debuted on Smashwords. On that platform the book has gotten over 500 downloads in two months! That’s the fastest I’ve ever seen one of my books get downloaded on that platform.


I was really happy to see Black Goths and Nonblack Goths sharing the eBook with each other and getting the word out about it, and I’m more happy to see regular people pick up the book and enjoy it.  Spinsterella is a book I really enjoyed writing and it makes me happy to see the positive response it’s gotten from readers.


With the success of Spinsterella, I’ve been really busy on writing its prequel Spellbound, which details Matilda’s entry into the Goth subculture. I’m practically working on 3-5 five chapters a day on this novel and having fun while writing them. My goal with Spellbound is to create a story where kids and adults can learn about Goths and the Goth subculture. A lot of Goths focus on literary classics like Edgar Allen Poe, Frankenstein, and Dracula, but there really needs to be a Goth YA fiction story out there so that parents and kids (BabyBats) can see a positive portrayal of the Goth Subculture and the people who participate in it.


 I’m doing my best to keep Spellbound a PG, PG-13 novel so that tweens and teens can read it and their parents can read it too. I’m writing Spellbound to dispel many of the negative ideas and generalizations people have about Goths and the Goth subculture, and so people can see the girl behind the ghoul who is Mad Matilda.


Hoping to have Spellbound’s first draft finished by the end of 2016 and ready for publication by 2017. But I make no promises.  I’d love to do a Kickstarter to put a Bill Walko cover on Spellbound, but we’ll see.


On the Nonfiction front I’ve been working on another installment on the Stop Simpin Series. After the positive response I got on the Why You Should Never Hire a Mangina series I decided to put together an eBook on Workplace Simpin & Trickin so men could understand why this paradigm could cost them their jobs and careers. I’m halfway through the book and I should have it out by the end of the year.

I’ve been writing a lot of Comic blogs lately, most roasting DC Comics. But I’m looking to work on Men’s issues pieces. Lately most of the content I do with men’s issues has been going to YouTube and that’s because the bigger audience is there. A Men’s issues blog will take years to get as many reads as a YouTube Video.

Plus with YouTube Partnership I make money on those videos discussing men’s issues. It’s more profitable to me to make a video than write a blog, so that’s why I make videos. But I’m gonna try to write a couple more men’s issues blogs.

The first quarter of 2016 had its challenges. While I had a setback with the Kickstarter failing, I managed to adapt and keep moving forward. I’m trying to build on momentum, and hoping it’ll turn into a big break…
 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Monster High Reboot...WTF? Part 2

Some think that Monster High was a dated concept. That it was running out of ideas.

I have to disagree with those sentiments.

Yes, Monster High is over five years old.  But the product had a lot of life left in it. It didn’t need a reboot. And it doesn’t need the reboot that Mattel executed. The uninspired designs they presented stripped the heart and spirit away from the original concept. The way I see it, those dolls were just not good enough to sell to Monster High’s millions of loyal fans.

I’m not a fan of reboots. In most cases they split the audience. So half the audience is buying product and the other half is staying home. And instead of customers being united, they’re divided. Long-term that kind of discord kills a brand’s momentum. Instead of customers anticipating the newest product and counting down the days until they buy it, they’re bickering and arguing with each other.

I’ve seen that chaos destroy the DC Superheroes brand and the DC Comics brand ever since the New 52 Launched in 2011. And I don’t want to see that kind of animosity come to Monster High’s millions of fans. Monster High fans are great people who have a love for the brand that goes beyond age and gender. People just enjoy this line. And this reboot threatens that fan solidarity all over the world.

Yes product lines get old. And creative people can get tired. As a writer and a publisher I’ve run into those rough periods. But instead of giving up on a concept, like my 14-year old Isis series I persevered and found new ways to keep the stories fresh and unique for my readers. From what I see with the Monster High concept there are a lot of great storylines to explore, new monster characters they could create, and creative ways to sell more dolls and get new customers into a great product.

And I know when companies talk reboot it means that the creative people have become frustrated. That they’ve thrown up their hands and given up. From the way things look, Mattel’s executives have become frustrated by Barbie’s declining sales and the loss of the Disney Princess license. And instead of coming up with a strategy to get out of the hole, they decide to sabotage the one franchise that’s doing well for them.

That’s not smart. Long-term this Monster High reboot it’s going to hurt Mattel’s brand and its reputation the same way DC Comics damaged its reputation and brand with the New 52 reboot in 2011. In the last five years, DC lost 10 percent of its market share and alienated most of its core audience. Worse, the new customers DC Comics was banking on just never materialized and the brand declined to the crisis state its in right now.

I got a lot of inspiration from Monster High. Stories I’ve written like E’steem: No Good Deed were inspired by Monster high shorts I watched on You Tube in between breaks writing. And E’steem series stories like Demons Anonymous, Faerie Tale, and E’steem Undercover were inspired by the concept of Monster High characters being all grown up, with career and a boyfriend. I love this brand so much and I’d hate to see all the goodwill fostered by it destroyed by a bad business decision to reboot a brand that doesn’t need a reboot. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

DC Comics Rebirth is Gonna Be A Two Year Story- WTF?

  

DC Comics Rebirth is supposed to be a two-year storyline that goes across the entire line of publications.


Wrap that around your head. A two-year storyline. Going across the entire catalog of publications.


Seriously, a two-year storyline? During a period when comic fans have said they’ve had enough of mega crossovers?


WTF?


Again, Why hasn’t Dan Didio and his editorial gang of four been fired already?


Rob Liefeld asked on Twitter what Dan Dido’s marker is in comics. The answer to that question is simple: Destroying the DC Comics brand. That’s going to be his legacy. Being the man who drove the number two comic book company into the ground with his top down micromanagement and inept leadership.  


Sorry, but customers and comic shop owners today are NOT going to sit through a two-year storyline. Especially after all they’ve been through with DC. After five years of promises, promises and more promises that the New 52, Convergence and DC You would pay off, they’ve had enough.


In the publishing business you have ONE chance to make a first impression on readers. If you can’t grab the customer with ONE story, you have FAILED. If that ONE story does not excite the reader, they don’t buy any more books. Simple as that.


And DC Comics hasn’t been able to produce that ONE book to grab the reader and draw them into the DC Universe for close to fifteen ears. Five years since the launch of Dan Dido’s New 52 Universe and quality of DC’s products have gotten WORSE instead of better.


But Dan Didio’s solution to fixing the DC Universe is doing more of the same and expecting a different result. The rest of the world calls this insanity, but it’s business as usual at Warner Brothers.


Here’s a solution for Warner Brothers Executives haven’t thought of: Fire Dan Didio, Diane Nelson, Jim Lee and Bob Harras and Goeff Johns and see if things will get better.


If all the all the failures keep coming from the same people, then maybe those people are the problem.  


What makes this Rebirth storyline ridiculous from a business perspective is the fact that they’ve just given comic fans the incentive NOT to buy it from day one. A two year-storyline is just not competitive in an age where comics compete with TV shows, movies, and the internet programs based on comics for entertainment dollars. By the time Rebirth is over Supergirl will be finished with Season 3, The Flash will be finished with Season 5, and with the way things are going, Arrow will just be finished.


And that’s just DC’s own TV shows. Factor in Marvel Studios Netflix shows like Daredevil, Cage, Jessica Jones where people can binge watch and it you start to see what a disaster this plan is. And when you factor in and Marvel Studios Phase 3 Movies like Avengers 2-part Infinity War movies over the next two years and you really start seeing other options for their entertainment dollars over DC Comics.


In this information age time is a precious commodity. And no one is going to waste time waiting for Geoff Johns magnum opus to finish at DC Comics when they have a whole host of other options that finish up before it. The way I see it, Dan Didio is setting up Goeff Johns to take the fall for a disaster so epic he’ll wish his name was Chris Claremont. Then point the finger at him when everything fails. A classic Mangina trap, but Johns isn’t smart enough to see it. He’s too busy trying to play head writer of a TV show at comic books publisher.


There’s no payoff coming in the aftermath of Rebirth, just another Didio screwjob.  


 The way I see it, telling frustrated readers that the storyline is going to be two years long on day one gives them more incentive to move on from the DC Comics brand. Now that they see DC Comics is just not going to change, they can go out and start reading many of the great indie comics out there or indie fantasy like my Isis series. By the time DC’s Rebirth is over, a reader could have finished every Isis series book, and be up to date on the current storylines. Every Isis series story wraps up in one volume, and every story is an entry point like oldschool comics used to be.   


DC Comics Rebirth was DC’s last chance with comic fans to get their shit together. And instead of making things right, Dan Didio screws over comic fans yet again. Now I can honestly say that these are the last days for DC Comics. You can call in the undertaker in now, DC Comics is now ready to reserve its plot right next to Charlton’s in the comic publisher graveyard.


Monday, April 18, 2016

Monster High Reboot...Good Gravy.




Just when I thought I could go a day without hearing about another reboot….Mattel decides to reboot one of my favorite toy franchises, Monster High.


What is it with people fixing what ain’t broken?


Monster High was a major influence on my writing. The E’steem series is based on the concept of Monster High characters all grown up. And supporting characters in E’steem’s series like D’lilah and Claudius are inspired by Torelai and Clawd Wolf. And Isis series stories like Isis: Night of the Vampires and Isis: Bride of Dracula are partially influenced by Monster High.


Even my adult romance Spinsterella has some influences from Monster High. A Goth executive? That’s what every Ghoul aspires to be when she grows up!


I practically watched every episode of Monster High on YouTube when they came on. It was two minutes of fun that could make a dreary day that much brighter.


The way I see it, five years in Monster High was perfectly fine. Not broken at and in no need of fixing. It could have gone on for another ten years as is. Monster High had a LOT more miles in the tank before it even thought of getting stale. Like Batman before it, the line could have sold re-issues of characters in the catalog for the next five years without skipping a beat. 


But someone at Mattel thinks they have to FIX things. Make them better. Make the characters softer, friendlier and more approachable.


Er…they’re monsters. And part of the charm of the dolls were that they were hideous. Hideoulsy beautiful.


What made Monster High great was that it showcased the beauty in being different. That flaws and imperfections were what made us perfect. That everyone had beauty in their own way and that the content of people’s character made them great, not their external appearance.


Y’know what I would have loved seeing? Monster University. Or Monster High all grown up like I do with E’steem’s series. A monster out in the world with a job, a boyfriend, and a fabulous wardrobe of designer clothes.


And shoes. Because shoes are awesome.


I sell a lot ofbooks with that kind of story featuring E’steem having adventures while working in the corporate Hell known as Morris Phillips, a company filled with employees who are vampires, demons and monsters. And I think Mattel could too. Goths and Ghouls like imagining having different careers, so there’s a whole new market of customers there to appeal to.  Imagine Frankie, Clawdeen, Ghoulia, and Cleo De Nile working in their dream jobs like E’steem does. Having adventures in between coffee breaks, office work, and shopping. It’s a recipe for a million selling toy line.


But Mattel lacks the vision to do something like this. So they throw crap at a wall. Still Smarting about losing the Disney Princess license to Hasbro and still reeling from declining Barbie sales, they decide to ruin the one property that was consistently doing well for them.


By applying the same failed approaches that are impeding Barbie’s sales at retail right now. Cheap low-grade clothes, uninspired designs, and a story that no one relates to. Doing the exact same things and expecting a different result. Mattel’s insane executives think it’ll cost out in the short-term, but like DC Comics and its New 52 relaunch all it’s going to do is damage the brand in the long term. It’s a lot harder to get customers back when they’ve left a brand, and harder to get new customers into a product when everyone raves about how great the older one was.


I’m really sad to hear about this Monster High relaunch. This is another great product line that has had its momentum cut by insecure people who can’t trust the customer to keep buying what it likes and then tries to tell them what it wants. If you ask me companies these days are a little too reboot crazy. If something’s not broken then don’t fix it. Let that product keep going strong and go out and search for that next concept. Hey Mattel, how about an E’steem line of dolls? I'd be eager to sell you a license.... 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Spellbound-The Goth YA Novel I’m Working On




I’ve been a busy bee. Which is why the blogs have been erratic. I’m launching three new titles over the next three months, and I’ve been working on a new novel.

The new novel I’m working on is called Spellbound. Spellbound is the prequel to Spinsterella, the Goth romance novel I wrote last year. I wanted to write this one for tweens and teens, but I’m having quite a hard time keeping the dialogue PG-13 like my Isis series books and The Thetas. Teenagers curse. A lot.


I really want to keep Spellbound kid friendly so kids who want to be part of the Goth Subculture will have something positive to read about it, and their parents will come to understand that there is nothing negative about their kids being Goth. I’ve spent close to two years talking to Goths and researching the subculture and I’ve found there’s nothing in it any parent really needs to worry about. Most of the people who are part of the subculture are some of the kindest, friendliest people I’ve ever met in my life.


Spellbound is set in 1989, and follows the teenage Matilda Crowley as she first enters the Goth subculture. Like The Thetas it’s a coming of age story. However it’s a much darker tale. The late 1980s were a very dark time in New York City. Crime was at an all-time high, crack was destroying lives left and right and the city was just a hell hole filled with abandoned buildings and vacant lots. While Matilda is into dark stuff like horror movies, Vampire novels, and Beeteljuice, the real horror is being part of a Huxtable type family living in 1980s Harlem where crackheads roam the streets like zombies and dope dealers terrorize the neighborhood in their battles for turf and pussy.


As readers go on Matilda’s journey from the Ghetto into the Goth Subculture they also come to understand the dark side of being light skinned. I was inspired by what actress Persia White said on a radio show seven years ago about being so dark inside because she was so light skinned. And I drew from my own personal experiences from having to deal with the dark side of being light skinned. Dark skinned Black people believe you think you’re better than them. And their insecurities about color can make it hard for a light skinned person to get through a day. 


The title Spellbound is taken from the Siouxsie and the Banshees song Spellbound. It fits the commentary I wanted to make about Black people and the cognitive distortion they have regarding anything they deem White or close to White. Many Black folks have a love hate relationship with light skinned and biracial people and act like they’re entranced in their presence. Either they love them or they hate them.

I draw a lot from my life experiences and my time at Park West High School for parts of this story and that makes writing it very emotionally draining. This was one of the darkest periods in my life and that makes it a challenge to put words on paper sometimes. Everything in the first 50 pages detailing Matilda’s life is practically autobiographical, give or take a sequence.

I’m fifty or so pages into Spellbound, and nearing the fist plot point. I’m hoping to have a first draft done by the end of the year. No promises to when it’ll be ready for publication, but I’m hoping sometime in 2017.  There aren’t that many YA novels featuring contemporary Goth Characters and I want this one to be a great one.