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Clarisse: Hi there! Just walking around the neighborhood and checking out my neighbors' blogs! I'm liking it here. You are welcome to mine...swing by for a cup of coffee ...a link-up and a little chat...anytime

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July 30th, 2014

5:15 PM

Opinions, Opinions

I mentioned this before in earlier posts, but now it’s time to address this topic. When the internet first began to enter into our lives, no one could have foreseen the explosion of websites, blogs (such as this one), social media and all forms of it. No one could have predicted the amount of words clutter up our screens on a daily basis. You know what they are. One day, you log on a website and read a sensationalistic headline relating to politics, sports and entertainment. The next, an article about the “Fifty Greatest Stuff of All Time” or soon after that you read about Entertainer X ‘on the rocks’ with Entertainer Y. Then you have what’s not considered news items, but opinions formed from the keypads of individuals who either possess limited knowledge of the topics they write about.

Blame it on us, all of us. Supply and demand is what drives these websites where even a YouTube star can become an instant celebrity overnight. Like crack addicts, we simply crave ‘the hit’ by peeking in our favorite celebrities or athletes. Personally, I could care less reading headlines that imply “The Movies That (movie studio) Need To Make Now” because it’s none of my business. Fact: if a movie studio produces a less than stellar product, then I don’t have to support it with my money. It’s that simple. This is the first generation in memory where simplicity is not required.

Folks with a brain and hard drive of some kind, can type endlessly about whatever is on their minds, not on the things that matter. It’s not just the cable networks who produce reality shows that can take what we call a ‘has-been’ and put them front and center in our daily lives. The same could be applied to other personalities who achieved success in their own way and have risen to a level of celebrity we the public created for them. This is our doing, and we’re responsible for this creation. I can really, really, really care less about what Real Housewife of Atlanta has her weave pulled or contract not renewed for the next season. It’s none of my business but in the minds of others, it certainly is a big deal and we as a general public have made it so.

We’ve taken opinion as fact and as news. As also mentioned on an earlier entry, it was mentioned that one leading website is guilty of this with several copycats like it gathering opinions and voices far and wide across the World Wide Web and bunching them as a nice package under the guise of news. The advantage is anyone regardless of background, has a voice, a point of view to express. The disadvantage is when those same points of view, opinions become so strong and so prevalent in our daily lives, that then it becomes fact. If I said “if you put your hand on the stove, it might get burned.”, it would be challenged in a nanosecond by either someone who disagrees with what I’ve said merely because it’s the truth. This debater would argue it would take an inordinate amount of seconds before the burn penetrates the surface of the hand, temperatures, etc. This person would find any angle, any imaginary truth in their minds to debunk what I’ve said. Of course, I would have said ‘water is wet’ and there would be someone to challenge that statement too. This is how our informational world is shaping up today where opinion triumphs over all and facts be damned.

Now the question some of you may be asking is that, “If that’s true author, then aren’t you part of the problem by writing on this blog? Shoving your opinions down our throats?” Answer: while I’m one of many with a blog, I have one because I’m an author, a writer, and my goal is to write on relevant, less “sexy” topics that go along with the themes in my books, not spend time on fluff that won’t matter years from now so on the surface I’m no better than the millions who write on blogs every single day. I’m also not devoting time gushing over a celebrity who will have his or her day in the sun and eventually fade away at some point. Look, no one is saying anyone can’t write about whatever they feel they’re passionate about. This is what the Digital Age has given us, a tool for self-expression. Reader, you can’t sit back at home or whatever locale you’re in and simply say that most of what you read and see is based on absolute, solid, concrete facts. What disturbs me is that you have websites that are disguised as ‘news’ and have nothing but opinions on race, sex or gender issues. At least when I go to a website, I want to read about news without a slant or bias. That’s where objectivity - a word with a non-existent meaning in this new age, is lost. It’s none of my business to read about this one pop culture band or this comedian who works under a façade of a political show or anything related to that.

The danger to all this? Ignoring the stories that count such as poverty, homelessness, the attitude of veterans coming back from all of our recent wars, violence in the community and many others not addressed because they’re not ‘sexy’. This medium still has the potential and the power to change our hearts towards that direction. Until we do, the multitude will remain on the pop culture side of fluff.

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July 28th, 2014

7:37 PM

Think Before You Type

Don't worry about the ones who turn their backs on you; be more concerned of the folks who will stab yours.............

I guess it matters in social media to with a few keystrokes, express my anger over an injustice I felt had to be corrected. Those ‘profound sage’ words were posted on my Facebook timeline today, displaying my frustration with another unnamed book fair here in L.A. that somehow, miraculously has their event in a venue that we were planning our book expo in, although a month later. In a deleted post (yes, I can do that here), I offered to tell the ‘true’ story on what this change occured, but in a world where even a tweet can land you in hot water, one only needs to do a Google search to find out, I preferred not to display the two flyers of our expo and the fair on the venue’s website. Not out of fear of being sued mind you; I thought I didn’t need the trouble and endless explanations.

Venting, letting loose and calling out anyone or any entity online has proven not to be the best solution to take care of whatever ails us. It is instant gratification for a good number of us who seek some so-called justice in resolving the pain we feel when either another user or entity wrongs us. We need vengeance, we need closure. Needless to say within two weeks time, the authors who at one time had my back, swore they’d support whatever book related effort I was involved in and who constantly ask me for an interview for Authors N Focus - will pat the back, stroke the ego and post pictures, comments and hallowing praise for the book festival which I have a history with - not a pleasant one - and for some reason forget about the Black Book Expo coming weeks later. See how the bitterness leaks through the page? Smile.

I do research on great writers - no matter their color or nationality - and I’ve discovered their strength comes not from calling out ‘haters’ in their works, but continue to have a sharp focus, determined will and overall, humility in their creations and personal lives. My social media page is an expression of me. If as an author, I want reader to know me better, I can do without the type-by sniping, shaded words that imply a deeper meaning and the capital letters that fill the screen. I am an author, besides running a book expo. Yes, I feel slighted by my own people, but when has that ever stopped us? As I’m approaching fifty years on this earth, I’ve seen enough hypocrisy from my own people to fill a series of books. However, like those writers who I hope to join their ranks one day, I have to keep my focus on what’s ahead and the expo has plenty of good news to spare in the weeks coming up.

Furthermore, I can say that as authors, we’re living in a generation where speaking before we think is profitable. Not by dollars and cents, but in the currency of ego boosting. Today, I can bring Author X to his or her knees by having an ‘issue’ with them online, but there may be one potential reader who sees my foolishness and decides not to become a ‘fan’ based on my ‘accomplishment’ on what I thought was important, calling out another author. If I may, I would like to include the following that should remind even the author of this piece on how to approach social media:

Think Before You Type.

For the moment, the post has received its share of likes and one empathic agreement in the comments section. It does well for my ego, but should there be a next day, that post like so many others on social media, won’t matter.

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July 22nd, 2014

10:49 PM

The Loss of a Good Woman

Her name was Ida Washington. She was a member of the church I attend, Inglewood Church of Christ. Every time I saw her, Ida would have a big smile and even bigger hugs. She was a precious woman and I had known her for a number of years. Ida was a supporter of my works and faithful in the Lord. I will miss her as her family definitely will.

This week, death has made itself prominent in my life, first by taking Barbara Wright Sykes and now Sister Washington as we would call her.

Tomorrow is not promised. Too many good people are fading away in 2014 and cancer seems to be the culprit.

Today was a break from the grim news of the past few days, concentrating instead on the Black Book Expo as we locked up a featured guest that we will announce in the next couple of days, and everything felt good, including going out to see Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (review seen below)

Then the news on social media on Ida’s passing. It wasn’t as shocking as the news I received a couple of days about Barbara, but the result isn’t as easy.

This is life, it changes so quickly from one moment to the next. That’s why I do not waste my time on conspiracies, or anything that isn’t substantial, such as death. No conspiracy on that. Hebrews 9:27 says we’re all appointed to die one day, then comes the Judgment. As human beings, we have no idea how numbered our days are, how insignificant needless chatter becomes in our daily lives. We’re too caught up in the things that we feel matter when in reality, they are not.

Ida was a special person, an elder who always had a smile and hugs to spare. Now they are gone, never to be seen again. It is not up to me to say she’s in a better place. Only the Creator can decide that. All I can say, is that she is free from this imperfect earth at last.

I’ll miss you Ida.

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July 22nd, 2014

9:02 PM

Brief Review - Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Saw the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes tonight with my wife. While I wouldn’t say it was better than the first in the reboot of the series, I’d say the story was believeable and Andy Serkis’s Caesar spoke more this time around. The explanation for survivors from the ‘Simian Flu’ was briefly touched on and I felt there should have been more than one sentence detailing that, but it sufficed for me.

If there is a third installment of the reboot, there was no hint of it this time, but I’m sure plot developments from the first movie will eventually show up in the future. Dawn was a solid effort from all involved, and as my good friend HWD will tell me, anything with Gary Oldman in it is worth watching, his character only showed up here and there, but still an integral part of the tale.

If you’re a fan of good sci-fi, I would suggest you watch Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. For you old school fans of the first series of the 1970’s, there’s a plot development in this version that you might remember and when you see it, it will surprise you.

That’s it.

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July 21st, 2014

2:04 PM

In Memory: Barbara Wright Sykes


Last night, I read the news that a very good friend, author and publisher Barbara Wright Sykes has passed away, via a Facebook page of fellow author and friend Linda Coleman Willis. This are her heartfelt words about our dear friend:

"On July 18, 2014 I lost my best friend, Barbara Wright Sykes. She was an awesome woman and friend. I will miss her dearly, but I know she is with the love of her life, Fletcher Sykes. She will live on through her daughter, son-in-law and grand children. Her work as a publisher and award winning author will live on forever. May God bless your soul, Barbara." Barbara was a widow when we first met, having lost her husband.

Barbara was the author of Good Lovin Ain't Easy, and as I found out, one of her last works. The last time we saw each other face to face was back in 2009, after I moved to Northern California to be with my wife. We met with another good friend of ours, the publisher of Empire Beat Magazine, Michael Thomas. In fact, she was a contributor to the online magazine along with myself, Linda and Pamela Samuels Young. It's right here.

After five years in Northern California, I recently returned home to L.A. and had hoped to reunite with Barbara and other friends that I had lost touch with over the years, but as we can now see, that won't happen. This is along the heels of hearing about a fellow church member and friend also is facing health challenges of her own. Tomorrow is not promised. Not to you reader or anyone else on this earth. It is not promised.

My memories of Barbara will always focus on her as a mentor, accomplished woman and kindred soul always ready to lend a hand to new authors. She was a true, honest friend and I will miss her greatly. Her bio below mentions her great accomplishments and accolades.

Here is Barbara’s bio from her website: Collins Publications

Barbara Wright Sykes

Sykes is no stranger to success. She was known as the engaging on-air personality at radio station KACE for stimulating a broad wave of discussion, while arming a vast generation of individuals with the tools necessary to become successful both personally and professionally. Barbara is a veteran author (Overcoming Doubt, Fear and Procrastination, Pricing Wihout Fear). She’s been a frequent guest on television and radio, making 125 appearances in one year alone. Among those were: KTLA, BET, WGN, ABC, CBS, to name a few. She’s been recognized and praised by leading newspapers and magazines such as the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Income Opportunity, and Health Magazine. Barbara Wright Sykes has also been a featured writer for numerous magazines such as The Empire Beat.


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