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Friday, December 30, 2016

2016 Year In Review (Progress Report)

2016 was a lot more productive than I expected. In spite of the obstacles I ran into I made a little bit more progress in this struggle to keep moving forward.

I started the year with a Kickstarter to pay for the covers for much of the SJS DIRECT 2016 catalog of books.  Unfortunately, it didn’t get funded. And I had to quickly change course in order to get this year’s books out!

Isis: Bride of Dracula starting the launch of the SJS DIRECT Catalog to a strong start.  Thanks to Bill Walko’s great cover, Isis: Bride of Dracula was one of the best-selling Isis series stories to date, selling well in both e-readers and in paperback. 

The Temptation of John Haynes sequel The Man Who Rules The World also performed well. The Man Who Rules the World was well received by audiences across the world and was also a strong seller in both paperback and e-readers.

The Man Who Rules The World also got lots of critical praise from readers. To my surprise readers really like John Haynes and some are starting to connect with the character. That strong response is why I’m pondering getting to work on a John Haynes series.

Thanks to the strong performance of Isis: Bride of Dracula and The Man Who Rules The World, readers went looking for older SJS DIRECT Universe titles like The Temptation of John Haynes and Isis series books like Isis: Wrath of The Cybergoddess and Isis: All About the Goddess.

For some reason people really like Isis: All About theGoddess. Seeing the consistently positive response to that title, I’m pondering writing another mystery featuring the goddess next door in the future.

E’steem: The Witches of Eastland performed OK, with some sales, but I wish it could have done better. I’m planning something major with the E’steem character next year as the first story arc in the E’steem series comes to a close. Big changes are coming to the Devilish Diva next year!  

Spinsterella continued to sell strongly on Nook and in paperback over the summer. Many people seem to love the Goth N’ Lovely romance. Spinsterella is getting closer its way to its 1,000th download on Smashwords, and that’ll be the fourth time I’ve had a eBook go over 1K downloads on that platform!

Over the summer I got a donation from a reader on Paypal to partially pay for the next Isis series cover. I spent the fall working hard to raise the remainder of the funds to pay for that cover and met that goal in September.

Hoping to release this in 2017!
Over the Summer I also gave my test copy of Isis: Imitation of Life to a reader to try. From the incredibly postive response it got I’m eager to bring it to print for readers. Unfortunately, I still don’t have the funds to pay for its cover. If I can get the money together for a cover, I’m hoping to bring it to print in 2017. Imitation of Life is a Great story set during the Golden Age of Comics and Pulps and if the positive response I got is any indicator, I think I’ve got a hit on my hands!

The fall campaign for SJS DIRECT was supposed to feature Isis: Imitation of Life and Isis: Samurai Goddess, but due to a lack of funds for the covers, I had to put both those titles on hold and put the Spinsterella prequel Spellbound on the schedule for a fall release instead. Spellbound wasn’t supposed to be published until 2017, but to my surprise things worked out for the better.

Spellbound has been one of the strongest selling titles in the SJS DIRECT catalog this fall and has been praised by readers. Goths and brothers and sistas and men and women of all races have enjoyed Spellbound and are making efforts to get the word out about the book on social media.

I gave Spellbound a heavy promotional campaign on YouTube and social media. Before any of my videos started, I put ads for the book letting everyone know the book was coming on Halloween. And I put pre-orders on Kindle and Smashwords for the title.

I had so much fun writing Spellbound I wouldn’t mind writing another Goth YA fiction novel. I’m running ideas in my head for one. Either The Legend of Mad Matilda to complete the Spinsterella Trilogy…Or something featuring Lilith from Isis: Night of the Vampires. Anyone interested in a YA comedy about the first days of a Vampire?

Another book I hadn’t planned on putting on the fall schedule was STOP SIMPIN in the Workplace. In fact I actually hadn’t even planned on writing this book at all! However, after seeing my series of videos on Why You Shouldn’t Hire a Mangina do well, I decided to do an eBook on the subject of how Simpin on the job can cost a man his reputation on the job and his career.

STOP SIMPIN in the Workplace has been a strong seller and has been incredibly well received by men and many appreciate the information and advice the book has to offer.

Around Christmas, the blog passed its 1.8 millionth hit! The blog has come a long way from when I started it in 2007. When 2017 comes, I’ll have been running this blog for an entire decade.


I can’t believe I’ve been writing this blog for ten years. That’s longer than most paying jobs I had.

I’m also working on building up my YouTube channel. So far I’m at 2,700 subscribers and counting. Some people say I should have over 100k subscribers, but I’m working on building up the channel the same way I built up the blog, quality over quantity.

Still don’t have a full-time job. But in my struggles I’m making progress with promoting titles in the SJS DIRECT imprint. With me getting closer to publishing my 50th book, I’m planning some fun things for 2017 for SJS DIRECT. Everything kicks off next year with Isis: Samurai Goddess which will feature a Bill Walko cover! 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Deconstructing the False Narrative of Black feminist Media

In a series of videos I did on YouTube I discussed how Black feminists took control over the narrative in Black mainstream media. In this blog I’m going to deconstruct this false narrative in Black feminist media being presented as Black mainstream media.

The person who controls the dollars is the one who controls the media. And the Black people who controls the dollars is the one who creates the narrative for the Black community.

And the richest Black women in the world like Oprah Winfrey, Shondra Rhimes and Maya Brock Akil and Black feminist supporters like Lee Daniels and Tyler Perry have the money to produce television shows, movies, and the connections to get them greenlit and distributed. And because they have the money to get media made, the way they want they can set the tone for the narrative in those programs.

And that narrative is a Black feminist narrative, not one that presents Black people from a panoramic perspective where we can see Black people from all walks of life. No, in Black feminist media there is only one narrative. That of a downtrodden Black female who is abused by a “no good Black man” who is oppressing her.  In her eyes all Black men are bad, even little boys.

And she needs a White savior or a Nonblack savior to take her away from her abuser.

Even though she omits the part in many of her stories where she was the one who chose the abuser and the situation she got herself in.

What most Black people don’t know is that Black feminists are using mainstream Black media to push a false narrative of Black female victimization. And they use that narrative to bully others in the Black community and censor them.

According to the books, television shows and movies Black feminists and their supporters produce, Black women are being oppressed by Black men.

Again, this is a false narrative.

Black men have never oppressed Black women. In order to oppress someone a person has to have economic power.   

80 percent of Black men are unemployed. So how can they oppress a Black woman?
It’s really ridiculous when you realize that Black women control the economy in the Black community. 74 percent of Black women are the heads of household in Black communities.  

Black women have complete economic control over the Black community due to the economic power given to her by White Feminists and White liberals. Black women can get jobs faster than Black men. And can get hired because they are the most educated group of women in the world. And because they can meet two standards of affirmative action being a female and a minority, they are considered to be one of the most desirable protected classes in corporate America. In public assistance and social programs, most Black women are listed as head of household on leases and have ultimate say over what comes into her home, including the man she involves herself with.   

Those brutish Black men she says are abusing her are usually ones that she chooses to get involved with. Men made poor by the discriminatory policies created by White liberals that benefit her.

If anything Black women have the economic power to oppress Black men. On a Black woman’s word a Black man can be removed from a residence if she calls the police. On a Black woman’s word on the job a Black man can be fired. And if a Black man disagrees with her she can have him ostracized from the Black social collective.

Moreover, Black feminists and their feminist supporters say in their films, books and television shows that Black men are the ones abusing them.

Again, in most cases this is a misrepresentation presented in Black feminist media. It clearly shows how Black feminists revise history to make themselves into victims. The Brutish Black men she says are abusing Black women are the ones she CHOOSES to involve herself with. And she usually chooses to get involved with these men because she can leverage control over these kinds of men because of the economic and political power given to her by White liberals and White feminists.

According to the Black feminist and the media she produces, Black men are violent, abusive, controlling and manipulative. But because most people don’t challenge the narrative Black feminists present in mainstream media, most don’t see how violent, abusive controlling and manipulative Black feminists are to everyone else.

Because most Black men won’t challenge her, many never see how abusive, controlling, and manipulative a Black feminist is. Whenever a Black feminist is called out on her efforts to control and manipulate the narrative of the media she turns herself into a victim. And she uses her position as a victim to control the community and silence voices that present different viewpoints than hers. By saying people are abusing her she silences not only any dissenting viewpoints, but also prevents others from being able to tell their stories like Black science fiction fans, Black Manga fans, Black sci-fi fans and Black Goths. Preventing real diversity from coming to Black audiences and showing how broad Black culture truly is.

Those stories won’t get told because they don’t fit the Black feminist narrative. For the Black feminist the Black world has to be about Black female misery. And Homosexuality. Lots and lots of homosexuality. Not to mention the deification of White and nonblack men as saviors.

The same liberal White men who give the Black feminist control over the media by providing her the distribution channels to get her books, movies and television shows to a mainstream audience. He along with rich Black female producers of Black media like Oprah Winfrey and Shondra Rhimes the one promoting a narrative that degrades the image of the Black man and these days promotes the idea that White men are going the saviors of Black women.

Funny how Black feminist media looks and sounds a lot like White Supremacy? And Black feminists seem to be the enforcers of White supremacy. Ironically by using a victim narrative talking about how she’s being oppressed by Black men, Black feminists use their economic and political power to oppress the Black community and silence any voices that differ from their false narrative.

I find it interesting when Black men controlled Black media they had no problem with the Black feminist having their voice along with everyone else. But when Black feminists got control the media they have a problem with any dissenting viewpoints.

I find it even more interesting whenever a Black feminist is confronted about her efforts to monopolize and control the narrative of Black media she and her supporters get really defensive. They’re the first ones to start shouting how they’re being victimized and abused when they’re the ones trying to control the platform and insisting only those who do things their way are allowed an opportunity on it.

The Black feminists who control Black media have no problem with people like myself creating media like books, TV shows and movies. But they won’t get any mainstream exposure unless they fit into her narrative. The few that do like Birth of A Nation, they make efforts to censor. Because these women have economic power, they use their power to be gatekeepers over Black media. And they use their influence to keep the Black masses spellbound believing they are victims of Black male abuses.

When they are in fact the overseers over the Black community for White Supremacists.

Black Feminism is White Supremacy. And anyone Black who supports Black feminism pretty much is supporting their own oppression. Black feminists want to impose a fascist state over the Black community where Rich Black women establish themselves as a talented tenth group that dictates the terms to the masses of Negroes about how to be Black while they go on to have relationships with the White Man they deify as their God.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Spellbound Easter Eggs & Fun Facts

Spellbound is the prequel to my 2015 novel Spinsterella. While Spinsterella is the Goth N’ Lovely romance of the 40-year-old Matilda Crowley, Spellbound details the reasons why 16-year old Matilda Crowley became a part of the Goth Subculture.

After I published Spinsterella, I got inspired write Spellbound after watching numerous Goth Videos and listening to Goths talk about their Baby Bat days when they started being a part of the Subculture. 

Structure wise, I wanted the story to be similar to a novel I wrote about Black Sororities, The Thetas. The Thetas was one of my more popular books and I wanted to write a similar story for tweens and teens and their parents so they could understand what the Goth subculture was about, and show readers of Spinsterella Matilda’s early days in the Goth subculture.

In some ways Spellbound is like a comic book character’s origin story. I draw a lot of influences from comic books in my stories and one of the influences for this one is a comic heroine’s transformation from ordinary Jane into superheorine.

I discussed writing Spellbound in a November 20l5 blog where I wrote a rough outline detailing plans to write a story about Matilda’s baby bat years. When I saw Black Goths promoting the novel on their Tumblrs, and discussing it on their blogs, I put the Book on the fast track for development.

The title Spellbound comes from the Siouxsie and the Banshees song Spellbound. Spellbound is the first song on their 1981 album Juju. When I heard the song, I immediately thought about the way Black people are taught Black culture. And the way many are conditioned from birth is to believe that there is only one way to be Black: And that is to be the Black that is acceptable to White people.

Another concept I explore in Spellbound is the myth of The Tragic Mulatto. The Tragic Mulatto was one of the darkest racial caraicatures from the Jim Crow period. Tragic Mulattos were biracial people who believe that they don’t fit in the White world or the Black world. And because they long to be accepted in the White world they are “born to hurt.” Many were filled with self-loathing like Peola in Imitation of Life and in most tragic Mulatto stories featured depressed women who wound up dying due to a series of tragic circumstances because they just couldn’t fit in the White world they longed to be a part of or have a relationship with the White man they wanted to marry.

 Most White media literature like Passing and films like Imitation of Life and Pinky always showed how the biracial person always wanted to be accepted by Whites, but in Spellbound I wanted to show how Matilda wanted to be accepted by Blacks. And I wanted to show how Blacks discriminated against her in the same way Tragic Mulattoes were discriminated by Whites. It’s a story that rarely gets told in media, because the mainstream media tells Black people that they are eager to accept biracial people in their social circles due to their light skin and “good” hair. Howerver, that’s not the case. Many Black women are extremely jealous of biracial women and openly express their contempt for them, and many Black males see biracial women as sex objects.

Looking at the Tragic Mulatto myth from a different perspective, I saw the dark side of being light skinned. From that view I saw the vantage point between the worlds of Black and White many biracial people don’t take a longer look at. And from that perspective I saw how both Black people were Spellbound by the idea of White being better than Black.

The reason why Matilda starts to see the world from that point is because only an outsider like a Goth could see the world from that perspective. Since they weren’t participating in mainstream society they could observe the world from the view between the Black world and the White world and see all the insane behaviors people Black participate in just to fit themselves into a box to be the kind of “Black” person that will be accepted by Whites.

Like Spinsterella, Spellbound is actually a comedy. A dark comedy that makes a commentary on intra-racism, Black culture, and examines what Black people believe a true “Black” identity is. As Matilda makes her journey into the Goth subculture I take jabs at numerous dysfunctional and insane behaviors many Black people participate in trying to fit themselves into the box to be the kind of “Black” person that will be accepted by Whites.

The teenage Matilda Crowley in Spellbound is inspired by Denise Huxtable, Lydia Deetz from 1988’s Beetlejuice and the Marvel Comics Supervillian Typhoid Mary from Daredevil Comics. Since the story is set in 1989, I wanted to use 1980s influences in her design. For many Black boys in the 1980s Denise Huxtable was the Girl Next door many dreamed of dating, and the girl many aspired to be like. And Lydia was the Goth everybody related to. Throw in a touch of Typhoid and Matilda has the dark presence to become the later Mad Matilda.

If I had to describe what Pre-Goth Matilda looks like, I’d say she looks like Denise Huxtable with Lydia Deetz’s hairstyle and preppy late 1980s Gap clothes. If I had to describe Goth Matilda she’d look like Denise Huxtable with Lydia Deetz’s hair and clothes.

The nickname Shantelle calls Matilda Flashdance is the title of a 1983 movie called Flashdance. The star of Flashdance Jennifer Beals, is a biracial Black woman like Matilda.  

The reason why Matilda is a big fan of the Daredevil Comic book is because many kids often personally identify with superheroes. Matilda likes Typhoid Mary because she’s assertive and tough, but she really identifies and relates to Daredevil because his powers enable him to see the world from a different perspective. In some ways she wants to be fearless like him. Yeah, the issue of Daredevil I mention actually was published in 1988, but I was finding old back issues of some comics at Midtown newsstands in 1989.

As a kid I used to identify with Iron Man because Tony Stark was a guy with damaged heart. As a kid recovering from a brain aneyursm, I could relate to him overcoming his physical limitations to be a hero. Plus it didn’t hurt that he had a Black friend Jim Rhodes who was the coolest character I ever saw in a comic at 10 years old.

Matilda’s brother Brody Crowley is inspired by actor Dondre T. Whitfeld. Dondre Portrayed Vanessa’s first boyfriend Robert on The Cosby Show and Terrence Frye on the soap opera All My Children. I drew a lot of Brody from Dondre’s portrayal of Terrence on All My Children. Whenever I wrote Brody’s dialogue I always heard Dondre T. Whitfield’s voice as Brody.

The relationship between Matilda and Brody is heavily inspired by the brother-sister relationship between Theo and Denise Huxtable. In early episodes of The Cosby Show they seemed to be very close. However, as the seasons passed Theo and Denise grew more distant similar to the way Brody and Matilda grew apart.

Matilda lives in Sugar Hill, a Harlem neighborhood. I chose Sugar Hill for one of the settings in Spellbound because it’s a historic Harlem neighborhood where rich and middle class Blacks lived during Jim Crow. During the 1970s the neighborhood fell into decline due to the second generation of Blacks becoming Spellbound after integration believing living in a White person’s neighborhood was better than maintaining their own. With all the crumbling brownstones, abandoned buildings and abandoned lots, and crackheads lumbering down the streets like zombies, I thought the neighborood looked like a horror movie come to life when I was a kid.

I used to visit Sugar Hill when my father would take me for haircuts back in the early to mid 1980s. And sometimes he’d take me to McDonald’s afterwards. Back then, seeing all the abandoned buildings with cinder blocks in the windows, I had no idea that it was a historic neigborhood and its significance to Black culture. Knowing about it, I had to write about it and share that history with everyone.

The Kentucky Fried Chicken Matilda works at in Spellbound is actually based on a real Kentucky Fried Chicken at the bottom of Sugar hill on Lenox Avenue on 145th Street. If you are driving on the 145th Street Bridge here from the Bronx into Manhattan You’ll see it. And yes, there is a MTA NewYork City Bus Terminal right there next to that Kentucky Fried Chicken.

The Crowley home is inspired by The Huxtable’s brownstone featured in The Cosby Show. However, I decided to darken things up in contrast from the TV show and make it fit in with the dark time period. While the Huxtables live in a well-maintained middle class brownstone in neatly manicured Brooklyn Heights, the Crowleys live in an aging brownstone in a neighborhood that’s a war zone filled with abandoned buildings, drug dealers and crackheads. During the 1980s, New York City was a hellhole filled with drugs, crime, and violence. And for a good kid like Matilda, being in that kind of neighborhood is like living in a Horror movie. Give or take a scene. 

The school Matilda attends, Park West High School is the same one I attended from 1987-1990. And it was just as anarchistic as I depict in Spellbound. Drug dealers and hood rats ran the place. Students roamed the halls, and there was a sense of apathy in the air. Park West dangerous; students carried boxcutters, knives and razor blades, and many kids including myself were victims of violence and violent crime.

The confrontation between Matilda, Shantelle and her girls is based on actual incidents that went on in the bathrooms at Park West. One of the most dangerous places in an inner-city public high school or a Junior High school is a bathroom. Many girls go in there and don’t come out in one piece.

The confrontation Matilda has outside of school between Shantelle and her girls is actually based on actual confrontations between kids afterschool at Park West. Oftentimes girls would get jumped afterschool by other girls who didn’t like them. Public schools were very dangerous back in the late 1980s. There was a two to four block walk cross-town between Park West and the train station, and oftentimes due to gangs like the Decepticons and crazy kids like Shantelle it was a dangerous trek.

Shantelle, Toya, Keisha, Cherise, and Latanya are based on many girls I knew during my days at Park West. Like these characters, the girls at Park West were major hoodrats and were just plain dysfunctional. What you read in Spellbound regarding these Black women is based on real life!

Omar is actually based on many of the dope dealers I went to class with. Omar was actually the name of an actual dope boy was a lot of the girls were pining for in one of my Global studies classes in freshman year. Most Dope boys were easy to identify back then, they were the ones who wore a different pair of new sneakers every day, Troop Jackets, baggy jeans, gold chains and two-finger rings. And yes, there were Pro-Black dope dealers who were delusional enough to believe they could build their communities with dope money!

The scene of Matilda on the train reading comics and in the cafeteria is actually based on what I actually did on the way to and from school. I used to get a lot of my comics from newsstands in Times Square on the 1 line and 59th Street on the D line back in the late 1980s and I’d read them on the way home from school or in the lunchroom. For me, a comics were the thing that would make a hard day that much easier.  And pizza. Pizza just makes everything better.

Matilda is a in the Computer Science program at Park West because Computer science was actually one of the actual vocational technical programs at Park West in the 1980s. In addition they also trained students in Culinary Arts, (my major) Aviation, and I think Automotive as well. If I decide to do another Mad Matilda story I’ll explore her IT background a little further. Matilda knows her way around a computer!

Mrs. Purvis, the Crowley’s next-door neighbor appeared in Spinsterella as an elderly woman. In Spellbound, she’s about 30 years younger, working, and is supposed to represent a girl raised in during the Harlem Renaissance. She’s someone who grew up with traditional Black values and raised in oldschool Black culture, and remembers when Sugar Hill was a neighborhood of working class families that worked together to form a village that raised children. This is why she has no problem opening up her home to Matilda; this is something Black women did in the community for the kids when everyone on the block looked out for everyone elses’ kids.

Mrs Purvis is an old sage; the advice she gives Matilda is her way of helping her understand how her neighborhood turned into a ghetto.

The Picture of Dorothy Dandridge on Matilda’s desk is actually supposed to be a Mirror. It’s supposed to symbolize how she sees herself; as a Black woman who doesn’t fit into the world of Black culture. In the 1950s Dorothy Dandridge played many Tragic Mulatto roles in films, and because she felt she didn’t fit into Black or White culture she fell into depression and drug additicion dying tragically at the age of 42.

The show YO! MTV Raps Shelley is watching when Matilda came home was required viewing for any teen or tween in the late 1980s. However in New York, only people in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn and Queens could only get cable in the late 1980s. Due to the high crime, people like myself who lived in the Bronx couldn’t get cable and were forced to watch music videos on PBS shows like Video Music Box on Channel 31 here in New York and Video Trax on Channel 25. Before that we’d watch them on U68, but that channel got turned into the Home Shopping Network in 1986.

Damn. Just Damn.

And yes, MTV used to only play music videos in the 1980s. So that’s why Shelley was so eager to watch her MTV!

Many millenials who read Spellbound will probably wonder what a Walkman is. Basically a Walkman was a portable radio and cassette player. Walkmans were like Smartphones in the 1980s. Most kids practically took them everywhere, and having one was like social currency. In most cases, kids had a boombox (Radio and Tape player) at home and a Walkman they’d take with them to school. And they’d make mixtapes to record their favorite songs on the boombox and then listen to them on the way to school. CD’s weren’t that big in 1989, only rich people had them.

The reason why Matilda aspires to own a VCR because VCRs were a major staple of 1980s life like Walkmans and boomboxes. Many families owned one, but having one in your room meant a kid could watch movies in the privacy of their own bedroom. Unfortunately, back in 1989 a VCR could cost $300-$500, so they weren’t cheap. Mattie had to work a LOT of hours at KFC in her quest to get one!

Andre Williams is also based on many drug dealers I knew who went to Park West back in the 1980s. Many of them had serious power issues due to the fact that they were making so much money and so many women were paying attention to them.

Many drug dealers like Andre and Omar were also SIMPS looking to win a woman’s attention and favor through their wallets. Because they were SIMPS they had a hard time navigating through their emotions. Combine their emotional insecurities with their power issues and this is why these guys would explode in anger over the slightest rejection. Many drug dealers were dangerous not just because they carried guns, but because they would act impulsively on their emotions. A person could get killed looking at these guys the wrong way.

The party scene at the Projects is based on many accounts of House Parties I read about in the newspaper, what I heard from kids in Junior high and high school and many news reports I read about violence at house parties. Oftentimes people would be having a good time, and in many cases a SIMP would ruin the night by getting emptional over a female back in the day.

The party scene in The Projects is also based on what I knew about The Projects in the South Bronx and Harlem. When I’d walk down pathways around them sometimes I’d see the malt liquor cans, cigarette butts, and smell the weed in the air. And yeah, people used to piss in the elevators.  

The first fight between Matilda and Shantelle is based on many fights that went on at Park West. And the trip to the Dean’s Office is also based on many fights that went on at Park West.

Principal Richard Riley is inspired by Park West’s real principal at the time Richard Ross. When I was in the SOAR program, I worked in the Principal’s office for a semester making copies. And I became familiar with the office.

Matilda’s father Jason Crowley is inspired by actor Tommy Lee Jones. Every time I wrote a piece of dialogue featuring Professor Crowley, his was the voice I heard. In Spellbound Jason’s voice is the contrasting narrative to Matilda’s.

The reason why Matilda’s Dad works at Columbia University is because I have a family member who went to college there from 1993-1997. And she told me all about the University on her visits home. When I’d visit her there I was in a sense of awe about being on the campus. It’s literally like a city within a city!

One of the courses Jason Crowley teaches, LitHum which stands for Literature and Humanities is a part of Columbia’s core cirriculum and every freshman has to take it. I heard a ton of stories from my family member about Columbia and I got inspired to tell my own based on them!

Olivia Cherry, a.k.a Lady Diabolique is actually inspired by Sabrina Lebouf, the actress who played Sondra Huxtable on The Cosby Show and several Goth YouTubers I watched like The Gobilin Queen, Morella Reborn, and Toxic Tears. Whenever I imagined Olivia, I always pictured her as Sondra Huxtable dressed in black with teased out hair and makeup like Siouxisie Sioux. Denise and Sondra were sisters in the Cosby Show, and Olivia is like a big sister to Matilda.

The dining area Mattie visists with Lady Diabolique is based on the dining area that was in John Jay Hall in the early 1990’s. And the Dorms at Carman Hall Matilda visits are also based on my visits to see my family member at Columbia in the mid 1990’s.

The trip Matilda and Lady Diabolique take to Forbidden Planet comic book store was an actual one I used to do in the summers to pick up my comics in 1989. With Mattie living in Harlem, I thought it’d be something she’d do on a weekly basis.

The world of the Goth Subculture often interconnects with the world of comic fans and science fiction fans, and Manga/Otaku fans. Many Goths travel in the same social circles. It’s not common to see Goths at a comicon, haning out with comic fans or a Sci-fi/fantasy movie premiere with sci-fi and fantasy fans or even at a wrestling or computer trade show. Goths aren’t just into dark stuff and have many hobbies and interests outside of the subculture.

 The trip Matilda takes to the thrift store to look for Goth clothes is something many Goths do around Union Square and in The Village and some still do today. I drew inspiration for the thrift store scene from memories of the tirips my brother and I used to go doing comic and toy runs at vintage stores when we first started collecting superhero toys back in the late 1980s, and I on these runs I became quite familiar with the vintage and thrift stores. The hat find Matilda gets at Forman’s is the kind of bargains Goths used to get on the regular back in the 1980s!

The Song So Alive from Love And Rockets that plays on Matilda’s Boom box is actually one of the first New Wave/Goth songs I heard on the radio back in 1989 on Z100. In addition to Love And Rockets, I’ve also listened to The Cure and many other bands on U68 before I knew they were actually Goth Bands. In Spellbound, The Song So Alive is supposed to symbolize Matilda’s return to the land of the living.

I learned a lot about Goth Music watching Amy Nekrotique’s videos and thanks to her, I learned more about Goth music than just the traditional 80s Goth bands like The Cure, Sisters of Mercy and Siouxsie and the Banshees. Watching her videos I learned about industrial, Synthwave, EBM and Futurepop. If do decide to write a Legend of Mad Matilda novel to round out the trilogy, I definitely will be using what I learned from her to make the rave and club scenes pop!

The scene at the video store is based on many trips my sister and I would take to get videos on the weekend back in the late 1980s. And yeah, on the weekends many of the good movies were out!

Videotape rentals were the only way many could watch movies back in the 1980s. Back then some new release videotapes started with an $89.95 price tag. So renting at a local shop was your only option for entertainment on Saturday Night. And yeah, you had to rewind the tape or they’d charge you extra.

Matilda is a fan of Beetlejuice because it Most Goths at the time practically LIVED for that movie. Lydia Deetz was the first major Goth character to be shown in a major feature film and her impact on the subculture can be felt to this day. Lydia is considered one of the icons in the Goth subculture along with Elvira, Christina Ricci’s version of Wendesday Addams, and Nancy from The Craft.

Beetlejuice was the first Tim Burton film I ever saw in 1988 and since then I’ve been a fan of his work. The way he tells a story in pictures makes them unique and timeless. His visuals in Batman and Beetlejuice stand the test of time and look just as great as they did over 25 years ago.  

The Shows Matilda mentions 227, and The Golden Girls were actual shows that ran on Saturday night as part of NBC’s lineup in 1989. Due to all the crime in the city, I spent many a Saturday night watching that lineup back in the day so I know it like the back of my hand!

The scene before Matilda makes her first appearance as The Black Widow is meant to contrast a scene in Spinsterella when Matilda left her room in regular make up to go on a date. In both scenes she has the same fears about what impression she’ll make on people when she goes out in the world. 

The entrance Matilda makes down the stairs when she makes her debut as The Black Widow is based on the entrance of WWE’s The Undertaker. I always imagined the entrance music of The Undertaker playing as Matilda made her way down the stairs with smoke and fog following behind her. I thought it’d make it all the scarier when she announced that the lady had returned to the manor.

The scene at the entrance with the ID Cards causing the flashing alarm is based on experiences I had at Park West. That alarm meant that student was in trouble or on suspension.

The scene where Matilda is searched by the principal is actually something that happened at Park West as well, but was actually inspired by something YouTuber Drac Makens said happened to her in one of her videos. Many people like Principal Riley fear the Goths being violent and dangerous due to their appearance. However, they’ll overlook normal looking kids like Shantelle who carry boxcutters and knives and associate with dope dealers and gang members.  

The scene between Black Widow Matilda and Omar in the cafeteria is inspired by the scene 1989’s Batman where Vicki Vale is confronted by the Joker in the Museum dining room. However, In Spellbound, I reverse the roles where the psychopath is the normal looking Omar and the sane person is the Gothed up Matilda.

The scene after she humiliates Omar is inspired what Goth Youtuber Isaki Tahashi said in one of her videos about becoming a Goth being liberating. Matilda finds her self-confidence when she becomes The Black Widow and that’s what enables her to finally start using her voice.

The scene at Sardsky’s is what Matilda talks about the Goths she met at the diner in Spinsterella. In that chapter I wanted to show the context for Matilda being at that diner and her feelings about being alone.

When Madame Macabre references ABC Afterschool Specials at Sardsky’s it’s meant to take a jab at ABC Afterschol Specials, a program that’d come on once a month back in the 1980s. In these cheesetacular programs, kids were supposed to learn a moral lesson or something from a poorly written poorly acted over the top shows presenting some sort of issue like drugs, alcholism or teen sex. ABC Afterschool Specials were absolutely ridiculous and if you were a teenager during the 1980s you practically laughed your ass off at them.

The only thing worse than ABC Afterschool specials was CBS Schoolbreaks. Man, those were shit on a plate with whipped cream and a cherry on top.

The scene inside the Club where Esmerelda confronts Matilda is based on what YouTuber Angela Benedict discussed in a video about Elitist Goths in the Goth Subculture. I’ve had my own run-ins with Goth Elitists on YouTube and yeah, they are the kind of bullies who try to discourage BabyBats from wanting to be a part of the subculture with all their silly rules, unrealistic standards and efforts to tell people what “Goth” really is.

The best thing to do with an elitist Goth is to ignore them. What is Goth is based on an individual, and there are rules set in stone to what can be considered Goth.

I also learned about Propoganda Magazine from watching one of Angela Benedict’s videos as well. After doing my own research on the history of the magazine, I found out it was the only Goth Publication available in the late 1980s. So Esmerelda would think she was hot shit for modeling in it.

The scene of Matilda in the Catholic school uniform is in  by one of the scenes in the conclusion of Beetlejuice where Lydia is coming home from school. That uniform is also the basis for the Gothed up outfit she Shows Shawn in a picture of her early days at Amalgamated Consolidated in Spinsterella.

The scene where a crackhead tells Matilda to give her life to Jesus is inspired by something YouTuber Rachel Shade said in one of her videos about being confronted by people who saw her on the street. When many people see Goths, they automatically assume they worship the devil. I thought it’d be comical to see the Crackhead making an observation about Matilda’s religion when she herself needed to take her own advice.

I did more research for Spellbound than I ever did during the creation of a novel. To write Spellbound I did over three years of research on The Goth Subculture, Black history, and Black culture, and the decade of the 1980s. While I grew up in the 1980s, and had a bunch of memories of it, I really needed to check dates and facts to make sure they lined up.  The way I viewed the world as a child is very different than the way I saw it as an adult and I wanted Spellbound to present events from an objective perspective, not a nostalgic one.

As part of my reasarch writing both Spinsterella and Spellbound I watched thousands of hours of Goth YouTube videos and learned about the subculture directly from the people who participated in it. Thanks to all those Goth YouTubers, I’ve learned so much about makeup, clothes, and the music, that I know the lingo of the subculture and what things are considered essential to the subculture.

To my surprise, I wrote the first draft of Spellbound in less than 90 days! While I struggled in the beginning with the first plot point, once I found a groove, the book just came together quickly. I was writing two to three chapters a day on Spellbound, and I was feeling really inspired. There’s something about Matilda that brings out the best in me when I’m writing. I just love working with the character!

Revisions on Spellbound took another 90 days, and I was able to have the book ready for publication on Halloween, the biggest holiday in the Goth Subculture.

Reception to Spellbound has been extremely positive so far. Many who have read the book enjoy it, and say that the storyline is extremely compelling and the premise is very original. I made every effort to make sure that Spellbound presented a balanced picture of Black life and The Goth Subculture in the 1980s.

On the Promotion side, Some Goths have gone out of their way to help me promote the novel on YouTube and social media, and I’ve gotten a few brothers and sisters in the Black and Black Goth communities to help get the word out this time. I really appreciate the support, and I thank everyone for helping me get the word out about the book.

With all the fun I had writing both Spinsterella and Spellbound, I’d love to round out Matilda’s story with a third book detailing her days in the Goth Subculture in the 1990s. The tentative title for the book would be The Legend of Mad Matilda. I’m just trying to iron out what I want that book to be about.

You can pick up  Spellbound today in paperback and eBook at amazon or your favorite online bookseller! 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Comic & Fantasy Heroines, Sexism, & Character Transformation Arcs

In comic books science fiction, and fantasy fiction, there seem to be two different Character transformation arcs for men and women.

In the story arc for male heroes, the character goes on a journey where they go through a learning process in a character transformation arc. In that story arc, they have a clearly defined mission. We learn who that character is, what they want, and the obstacles they face along the way in that journey to learning how to be a hero, overcoming their personal fears, accomplishing their goals, and defeating the enemy they face.

Heroines on the other hand don’t usually go through this process. In most cases they just show up in a costume and start fighting bad guys. In some cases they get a tacked on origin and next to no character development in their stories. In old comics like Ms. Marvel and Claws of the Cat, the heroine just shows up and takes on bad guys with no real understanding of their powers and abilities, and no real mission or direction after they defeat the first bad guy.

So there’s no real reason for the audience to care about them outside of their skimpy costume.

Because they have no character transformation arc to establish who they are, and the series of obstacles they face in their journey, stories featuring heroines are oftentimes a hollow and shallow experince. When it comes to heroines it seems like writers don’t like putting female characters through the same hardships male characters go through.

For example Rey in Star Wars Episode 7 didn’t go through a tenth of the stuff Luke Skywalker went through in Episodes 4-6. In the original Star Wars trilogy viewers saw Luke go from humble farm boy aspiring to be a rebel to a Jedi in Return of the Jedi. And in that character transformtion arc over three movies, we saw Luke go through lots of hardship and adversity in his quest to become a Jedi. He saw his uncle and aunt murdered. He lost his mentor Ben. He saw Biggs Darklighter, his friend from Tattoine die in the Death Star raid. He saw Han in carbonite. He lost his hand. He had to deal with the revelation of the enemy he was trying to destroy, Darth Vader as his father. He put his life on the line standing for his beliefs confronting the Emporor. 

Rey, on the other hand is capable of understanding the force, able to pilot the Millenium falcon and can weild lightsabers in one movie. Stuff that took Luke Skywalker THREE movies to learn and master in his character transformation arc, she could do all with no real training. Because the audience never saw her go through any hardships at what was supposed to be the start of her character transformation arc, the audience really couldn’t relate to her or identify with her the same way they did with Luke.

 When heroes go through a character transformation arc they provide the reader with a richer experience. The audience relates to the hero and their problems. They put themselves in their shoes. And as they see them learning and growing in their journeys they grow too.  

Why don’t writers like putting heroines through real character transformation arcs? Is it a fear of being called misogynistic? Is it a fear of being called a sexist? The minute a writer like myself starts showing a heroine going through hardships in a story designed to start building their character and resolve, the feminists come out and shame them calling them a misogynist.

But if male and female heroes are supposed to be equal, shouldn’t they go through the same character transformation process? Wouldn’t women going through hardships make them richer and more multidimensional? Wouldn’t audiences be able to relate to them and identify with their struggles? Wouldn’t that provide the audience with a richer and more entertaining story?

When I write heroines I’m not afraid to put them through the same character transformation process that the guys through. Regardless of the genre, characters like Isis, E’steem, Cassandra Lee, Nikki Desmond, Colleen Anderson and Matilda Crowley get put through their paces on their journey to becoming heroines in my stories. They get beat up, they get humiliated, they go through pain and suffer loss. At the end of the story readers learn to respect those heroines because they’ve gone through the changes in that character transformation arc that have established the content of their character.  

I understand what makes a heroine strong isn’t her super powers. It’s the strength of character to stand up for what they believe in no matter what they’re going through. That kind of resolve is built through a character transformation arc where a character has to overcome a series of obstacles that change them from who they were into the heroine that they become.  

In the realm of comics, sci-fi, and fantasy oftentimes writers treat their heroines like Mary Sues instead of fully actualized characters. And when they do this they cheat the audience out of a great story. Heroines deserve to full character transformation arcs just like the guys, and creators have to get the courage let their heroines break a few nails so they can build a stronger backbone.  

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Black Girl Next Door

She was the stuff of dreams. Brothers had posters of them on their walls from Word Up! And Right On! Magazine. She was on the cover of magazines like Ebony and Essence. She was a girl’s best friend, the girl guys wanted to date and some brothers wanted to bring home to their mothers as the woman they planned to marry.

Bobby Brown even wrote a song about her called Tender Roni.

Who was she? The Black Girl Next Door.

From the mid 1970s to the mid 1990s she was a staple of Black television shows and movies like The Last Dragon and House Party. Chrarcters like Thelma Evans from Good Times, Denise Huxtable from The Cosby Show, Hilary Banks from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Tia and Tamera from Sister, Sister, Laura Winslow and Myra Monkhouse from Family Matters and Zaria Peterson from the Parent’ Hood.

In movies we saw Black Girls Next Door with characters like Brenda from Cooley High, Laura Charles from The Last Dragon and Sydney and Sharraine from House Party.

The Black Girl Next door was a concept created by Black men to present a positive image of Black women and Black womanhood in media. It was a representation of how they saw the girls in their neighborhoods. A chance to tell the stories of the sistas they knew like their mothers, sisters and girlfriends who never got a chance at being in the spotlight.

What happened to the Black girl next door? Why don’t we see her in media anymore? Simple. Heterosexual Black men no longer control the image of Black women in mainstream American media or Black mainstream media.

Gay Black men like Lee Daniels and Tyler Perry and Black feminists like Oprah Winfrey and Shondra Rhimes control the image of Black women in Black media. And because they control the money, they push a narrative for the Black woman’s image that is designed to make White liberals they seek to please feel comfortable. That image is one that presents the Black woman as a hapless perpetual victim of Black Brutes, a promiscuous Black jezebel, or a fat asexual mammy who provides sage advice to an attractive white female character.

And on those rare occasions when she’s seen as a love interest she’s shown in the arms of a White or a nonblack man.

The concept of the Black girl next door was something created by heterosexual Black men. It was their image of what they saw of the Black girls in their neighborhood. Black Men like Berry Gordy, Quincy Jones, Bill Cosby, Robert Townsend,  Reiginald and Warrington Hudlin and sistas like Suzzanne De Passe created to present the ideal of a friendly approachable Black girl to counter the numerous negative stereotypes presented of Black girls in mainstream media. A way to show the world that the Black girl was our neighbor. Our friend. Someone who was attractive, desirable, and was loved by the people in her community. Someone girls wanted to be a best friend to. Someone who men wanted to date and marry. Someone who could stand in her own spotlight. Someone who was the equal in terms of beauty and character to the White Woman, the so-called pinnacle of beauty in American society and the world.

One of the reasons I write Black girls next door in my stories like The Isis series, The E’steem series, All About Nikki, The Thetas, A Recipe for $ucce$$, Spinsterella and Spellbound is to show how I see Black women. I see our sistas as the girl next door, the friend who looks to help out, the girl girls want to be friends with and boys want to date. I want our sistas to see they can have their own spotlight, not resign themselves to be in the background of some White woman’s small world. That there’s more than one role for Black women to play in life.

I want Black girls to understand they can portray many of the same roles that White women play in life. That they don’t have to imagine themselves as the mammy, the jezebel, or the sapphire. They can be can be the goddess, the demon, the Goth, the sorority girl, the rich girl, the movie star, or whatever she wants to be. And that when they step in that spotlight there are men and women all over the world who want to see her and cheer her on when she plays whatever role she chooses.

Are some of my stories similar? I don’t think so. Do some of the characters seem similar? Not really. When you compare my depictions of Black females to people like Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniels, Shondra Rhimes and Tyler Perry, they present a completely different narrative than the one they present. One that I believe that is more positive and in line with that of traditional Black culture and consistent with the image of Black women presented throughout Black history by Black men.

I grew up on Black girls next door. And I want to continue sharing their stories in my work. I understand how important the image of the Black woman is to Black girls and when a Black girl sees her self as girl next door, she usually becomes a neighbor who seeks to help out her Black man and her Black community. Because when the Black girl next door grows up she oftentimes becomes a Black man’s wife.

Friday, December 16, 2016

CW’s Barry Allen is the New Thanos

CW’s Barry Allen is the New Thanos.

Back in 1990, Thanos gathered the Infinity Gems to get the power to alter reality to get the attention and approval of the cosmic entity Death.

In 2015, CW’s Barry Allen ran through time and space and created Flashpoint to have a “smooth world” where he could win the heart of his love Iris West and have his parents alive again. 

Weird when you think about it. Especially when you consider the fact that Barry was raised by Joe West side by side with his daughter. When you look at their relationship from that context it comes across as borderline incestuous.

Thank You Goeff Johns and Greg Berlanti for turning one of the most noble heroes in the DC universe into a creep on the level of Eliot Rodger.

Damn. Just Damn.

Over at Marvel, they called Thanos a villain when he went on his quest to destroy the lives of others to impress Death when he had the Infinity Guantlet. But over in DC and the CW we’re supposed to believe the TV Barry Allen is still a hero for doing the exact same thing when he created Flashpoint and destroyed the lives of people like Cisco, John Diggle, and countless others.

Double standard anyone? Or has the line of demarcation between good and evil changed that much in 30 years?

If that line has changed that much in 30 years we’re really fucked up as a society.  What good is a super-hero if he doesn’t stand for the standard that his mission was founded on? The Silver Age Barry Allen would look at his TV counterpart and consider him a threat on the same level as the Anti-Monitor. But in 2016 we’re told TV Barry is a hero.

Damn. Just Damn.

At this point CW’s Wally West is more of a hero than Barry Allen. In the second season, Wally lost his mother.  And he sucked it up and went on with his life. Looking to honor those he lost by being a better person. Over the course of the season and a half Wally has been on TV he’s shown more character and resolve than Barry Allen, the guy we’re supposed to be rooting for.

It’s a shame when you see Kid Flash being more of a hero than the man who is supposed to have inspired him to be a hero.

Damn. Just Damn.  Shows us all how BAD the writing on CW’s Flash truly has become.

The comic book version of Barry Allen sacrificed himself to stop the Anit-Monitor from destroying the multiverse. But the CW’s Barry Allen ran through time and space to create a safe space for himself and did damage to the DC television multiverse.

Seriously, you can’t call this guy a hero anymore. He’s just a skinnier version of Thanos in red leather.

The CW version of Barry Allen is a super villain plain and simple. Thanks to the bad writers at Berlanti productions One of DC’s greatest heroes has been turned to the dark side. Unfortunately many DC fans and CW fans won’t be able to see how their hero is in the wrong and has been in the wrong since the season finale.

In 1990, everyone knew Thanos was the bad guy when he used the Infinity Gems to alter reality to his liking without regard for anyone else. But in 2016 Barry Allen gets a pass for doing the exact same thing. That shows me how much the line between good and evil has changed as it relates to superheroes and society.  Disturbing when you really think about it.