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Monday, January 25, 2010

All About Marilyn Now Available At Barnes & and

Now Available From SJS DIRECT

Fame ends at 34.
Life begins at 35.
ISBN: 978-0-615-34258-0

Suggested Retail price $14.00

Marilyn Marie is desperate to break away from Nikki Desmond, the rich spoiled rotten character she played on the hit 1990’s teen sitcom All About Nikki. Scraping by for years on work in two bit made-for-video productions and handouts from friends, the 34-year-old actress anxiously waits for the big break that will jump start her stalled career. Tragically it comes she’s on the set of the movie SELL OUT when she’s attacked by Hollywood’s current it girl Tabatha Strong.

While recovering in the hospital Marilyn prepares for the greatest role of her life: being herself. However, the ghost of Nikki Desmond continues to haunt her as she travels to New York with a new face and a new lease on life. Eager to move on, Marilyn realizes she must reconcile with her troubled television past if she is to have a future in the real world.

All About Marilyn is currently now available at and Pick up your copy today!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Guide To A Better Experience At The Library

There are some unwritten rules about the library most who go there don’t know about. Having worked there and come to an understanding about these unspoken policies, I’ve learned some things that can help make everyone’s next trip to there a bit easier.

Before heading to the library, check the bookstore first. Sure the books in the library are free. But in my short time there I’ve seen books on the shelf with pages missing, pages written in, and pages torn out. I’ve seen magazines with entire articles torn out. One book on the shelf had an entire chapter missing! Having a library book in hand does not guarantee that all of the book is there. From personal experience, I can tell you there’s nothing worse than doing research and finding the page or chapter you need to read is missing. This is even more frustrating if you’re reading fiction and enjoying the story.

So before heading to the library, I implore everyone to check the bookstore first. Most titles are available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble are brand new and will have all the pages. Used bookstores and eBay are a great place for cheap copies of out-of-print books and will have all the pages intact.

The person working the circulation desk is NOT a librarian. In most cases they’re an office assistant, clerk, volunteer or college student. While they are familiar with library policies, they aren’t familiar with the collection and aren’t going to be of much help finding a book for you. Their primary duty is to process the checking in/out of books and collect library fines.

Librarians nowadays are actually managers who work in the back to maintain and manage the collection. Librarians are usually often only available Monday-Friday and not on weekends when most patrons attend the library.

The Circulation desk closes 15 minutes before the library closes. Just because the hours posted on the door are 10-6 or 10-8 does not mean anyone can rush in at 5:45 or 7:45 to go look for a book. Staff shut down computers at 5:45 and 7:45, so there is no way to check a patron’s books in or out after then. So please come in an hour before the library closes to get any materials.

Don’t drop books down the Book Drop/Deposit chute. Book Drop/Deposit chutes are often the LAST thing checked by a busy library staff. A book returned through the Book drop chute on the due date may not be checked in by staff until DAYS or even WEEKS later. To ensure a book is checked into the library’s system as returned, go to the circulation desk and watch as the clerk scans it into the system

Bring Your Library Card. I can’t tell readers how many times I’ve dealt with people who leave their library cards at home and had meltdowns when they couldn’t take anything out. Without a library card, there is no way to take out any books, videos or anything else. Please don’t have a tantrum.

The library’s catalog can’t be trusted. I’ve watched as so many have checked out these listings thinking that books are available, some request that the library holds these books for them, and when they get there…Said book isn’t there, and individuals lose it.

The library catalog, whether online or paper only states if a book is part of a library’s collection. Availability on the shelf… well that’s another issue. Books that are lost or stolen can still appear in a library’s computer system for YEARS. Sometimes, catalog records aren’t updated for months after a book is reported missing to library staff. Library staff often leave the record open because they are doing a title search for the lost book.

Putting a book on hold does not mean you will get the book next. Another thing library patrons often do is put books on hold when someone else has them, thinking they’re guaranteed to be the next one in line to get said book three to four weeks later. It’s a crapshoot gambling on a chance the person holding the book will return it; usually it’s a gamble most library patrons lose. So instead of hedging bets on the return of a library book, take this time to head to the bookstore.

Requests for a title search are a waste of your time. Oftentimes, people won’t find a book on a shelf and will fill out a form where library staff will promise to search for it. The truth is it’s a way of giving patrons the run-around. Two weeks later, library staff will oftentimes tell the returning patrons the book is not there. In many cases, the book people are looking for is often lost or stolen, and in many cases the staff of the library knows it ahead of time. If library staff has to search for a book listed as available in the catalog, it’s GONE.

Instead of wasting time waiting for a title search, patrons should use that time to head to another branch, a used bookstore, eBay, or an online bookstore. It’s much more productive than hoping, wishing and praying the book will be there.

Bring change, preferably lots of one dollar bills, nickels and dimes. The library staff rarely has enough money to change a five, much less a twenty. So if a patron needs money for the copier, soda machine, or anything else, it’s best have your own singles and quarters. Some libraries have vending machines that dispense change, but they may or may not work. The best bet is to bring your own change.

Bring Wet Wipes. Older books on the shelf can be dusty. So bring wet wipes to clean hands before and after handling library materials.

Library staff does not handle copiers or issues with copiers. Outside contractors maintain all library copiers, copy card machines and printers. Only a company technician can service these machines when they out of order. So getting a refund if the copy machine eats a patrons’ money is a50/50 tossup. It often depends on the kindness of the clerk working the circulation desk.

Don’t put a lot of money on a copy card. In some libraries, people buy copy cards. Smart people don’t put more than $5 on these. If the card is defective it leads to the risk of patrons losing their money. It’s a headache trying to get money back from these since the library staff does not control the service of the copiers or the cards. The process for getting money back on these means filling out a dispute form and waiting…and waiting, sometimes even months. If patrons do eventually get a refund it’ll be in the form of well…A copy card. I’ve seen people put $20 or more on these only to get upset when there’s a read error or a defect in the card. Please use singles or change to minimize losses from issues with a defective copier.

Library guards protect the books, not you. Some libraries have the luxury of hiring guards. Their job is to actually deter people from stealing the books with their presence and clear the library of patrons who refuse to leave at closing time. They can’t help patrons if their stuff winds up missing. The most they can do is call the police. So please...

Look out for your stuff. While it’s often quiet, the library’s silence often lulls patrons into a false sense of security. Because many patrons often get too comfortable, they leave their belongings alone to go get a soda, go to the bathroom and find their stuff gone. I’ve watched as patrons have had computers, iPods, cell phones, coats, backpacks, USB keys, hats, scarves and everything else lying around them stolen. Patrons must understand that the library is open to everyone including criminals. So anyone going to the library should remain alert at all times and keep all their belongings in front of them.

Look out for yourself and your children. Supervise and watch children when going to the library. Keep an eye out for yourself when going to the library alone, or go there in a group. Remember, the library is “open to everyone” including the mentally ill, the homeless, pedophiles, and criminals who sometimes loiter there. In addition to the thefts of property, there have incidents of violence at library some library branches. On many occasions some library patrons have used library computers to look at pornographic websites. Other patrons have been caught performing sex acts in the library bathrooms and between library stacks.

Always bring hand sanitizer when visiting the computer lab. Computers are in the lab are handled by just about everyone. In some extreme cases people are viewing pornography on these computers and well…masturbating. Library staff rarely ever cleans the keyboards and mice in the computer labs so they are NASTY! So if using library computers, please bring hand sanitizer and use it before and after handling the keyboards and mice there.

ALWAYS Bring a USB Drive with Anti-Virus Protection when using library computers. Some libraries have password protection on the BIOS of their public computers and have security policies on the guest accounts of their operating systems. These restrictions prevent patrons from saving anything to their hard drives, or modifying system files. Patrons can open software like Microsoft Word or Adobe Photoshop, on these computers but if they wish to save their information they must have a USB disk.

Other libraries have open and free public computers with no security restrictions where people have gone…Just about everywhere. Like porn sites known for having viruses, spyware and malware. Stuff that can totally screw up a computer. Some patrons e-mail files to themselves they’ve picked up for research from these library branches unaware of the risk it presents. Oftentimes, patrons wind up sending themselves a virus along with the information! So when doing research, always bring a USB drive along and make sure it has up-to-date anti-virus software installed on it before saving anything.

Have a software firewall and up-to-date anti-virus software installed on a PC laptop or Netbook when using Library Wi-Fi. Library networks are free and convenient, but they’re also open and unsecured, meaning they are extremely vulnerable to just about everything from hackers to viruses. When using these networks, always have a firewalls and anti-virus software installed and up-to-date.

Library Videos, and DVDs, and video games aren’t worth it. While it’s free to get movies and games from the library, it’s the last place anyone should go for one. Thieves often switch out DVD so the movie titled on the jacket is not the one inside. Some swap out blank discs, others swap out kids movies and others swap out adult films! In the cases where patrons do get the movie on the jacket the viewing experience is not a great one. DVDs from the library are dirty, warped and full of scratches. Playing these and can misalign a DVD player’s laser.

In the case of a damaged or defective movie, a patron could wind up with stuck with replacement costs and administrative fees of $55 or more for an old worn out movie or game that’s been played dozens of times. This is more than the cost of a brand new DVD or videotape! A cheaper fix for movies is to get a Netflix subscription instead. The replacement costs for Netflix are only $20.

Hoping these tips will help everyone have a better experience when attending the library.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Progress Report

Progress Report

While I wait for my new book to appear in Ingram’s catalog, Amazon and all the online bookstores, I’ve got some free time. So here’s a progress report for 2010.

On Writing:

I’m working on my first novel projects since 2007. For the first time I’m working on TWO novels at once. I’m making an effort to get back into the groove; eventually I want to be able to write one thousand words a day again. No set date to complete either project; after writing screenplays for five years, I wanted to warm up and get back into “novel mode”.

Book #3 Status:

Approved this one at Lightning Source last week. I’m waiting for this one to appear in Ingram’s catalog. This takes 3-6 weeks so I’m getting the resources ready for the promotional campaign. I’m doing research of African-American bookstores and vendors, learning how to get a booksigning at these venues. Writing a series of blogs to coincide with the book’s release about African-Americans in Hollywood. Writing a press release. Designing business cards that double as flyers. Costing out review copies. Waiting, waiting, waiting.

Book #4 Status:

Book #4 has been sitting in my box since 2007. It’s an African-American contemporary fantasy novel, like Buffy The Vampire Slayer or Ghostbusters . I definitely want to release this one this year, and I’m going to outsource the editing and proofreading. At 96,000 words and 350 pages It’s just too much work for me to do alone.

If it costs out, I’d love to add a “behind the scenes” featurette to the back of this book. I enjoy writing these and giving readers an insight into what inspired me to write the book. I’d love to add them to all my books so readers can hear from me.

I’d like to sketch up a concept soon for book #4, I have the idea in my head, but trying to find time to put it on paper. The idea is simple, but drawing human figures is not my strongest point

I’m still thinking about it, but I’d also like to outsource the cover art for both book #4. I’m researching comic book artists and checking out their rates. A lot of these guys inspired my writing when I was a teenager; it hurts my heart to hear some of them are struggling to pay their bills now. I’d love to help them out with a job. I don’t know if any of them would be interested in working on a self-published POD cover, but I think it’s an opportunity to open up a new market for them. I can’t pay much (probably $200 tops plus a couple of free copies of the book, and a credit inside on the page with the legal stuff on it) but It would be a dream come true to see my characters drawn up by a comic book artist on the cover.

Book #5 Status:

Book #5 is another original screenplay paperback compilation. It’s a African-Americna teen sitcom, A concept that’s The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air meets Clueless. I kinda like writing these, they’re a fun way to tell a story. I would love to release another African-American screenplay book, but it depends on how the market responds to the first. I wonder if African-Americans would be interested in books of this genre.

On Shows:

Still thinking about whether or not I want to do the Harlem Book Fair again. I spent $400 last year and got only one sale and next to no interest in my titles. I don’t know if it’s worth investing the money to attend that show. Maybe the money would be better spent sending postcards to African-American bookstores and vendors telling them about my books.

I would like to do the Circle of Sisters Expo though. It’s a better crowd, and more people were willing to spend. However, that show costs $1500 to attend. I’d have to sell at least 500 books before I even think about trying for that show. One of my goals is to attend Circle of Sisters as a vendor in the future. I had a great time last year, and I saw some great products. Looking forward to my books being one of them.

If I did shows, I’d love to offer the Isis ankh T-Shirt at them.

On Screenplay Contests:

I’m not doing these anymore. A total waste of time and money. After I found out most of the “readers” aren’t industry professionals, just people from Craigslist and college interns, I realized they were just a waste of my money. I wonder if any of these contest coordinators ever produced a film in their previous careers? Have any of the winners gone on to have their scripts produced and distributed by a studio? Read further and found out well, none of them did.

Then I did the math: $50 entry fee x 3,200 suckers= $160,000. Sales of $200 workshops, $175 script coverage to help the losing writers get an inside track: $640,000 and $560,000 respectively. These guys are practically becoming millionaires on the backs of aspiring screenwriters! Fool me once Shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. My money stays in my pocket from now on.

On me:

In addition to working on my writing, I’m STILL looking for a full-time job a year and a half later. Unfortunately, I found out Civil Service here in New York State is getting ready to have themselves a hiring freeze. So that’s out. I’m also still looking for PC repair or technichian jobs. I'd like to have a regular 9-5 job while using my savings to pursue my dream of self-publishing books. I'm sending out resumes, looking for takers, looking for book sales, praying for a break...

I’m gonna try to have a new article up later next week.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Black women and Marriage: Is it that bad out there?

A while ago, I listened to a discussion about why so many Black women aren’t married when I attended the Circle of Sisters Expo this September. According to statistics, forty-two percent of Black women over the age of thirty have never been married; double the number of white women.

Some think it has to do with the shortage of “eligible” Black men. These same statistics cite that out of a random pool of 100 black men many are unemployed, (17 percent), incarcerated, (8 percent) or did not finish High School (21 percent). These numbers state that close to fifty percent of black men aren’t the type of males Black women would find acceptable for marriage and this is why there are so many single women in the African-American community.

However, I have to wonder if the lack of married Black women due is a perceived shortage of “eligible” black men or a lack of true Black on Black love among African-Americans today.

What is Black on Black love? The ability to love one’s self as a black person, and the ability to take pride in the beauty of being African-American. To look in the mirror and see oneself as a black person capable of expressing love, receiving love and as someone who deserves to be loved for being themselves by other black people. To have the ability to look at other black people as people capable of expressing love, receiving love and deserving to be loved.

I really don't think a shortage of men is the reason why so many black women aren’t married, but a shortage of values and character in the African-American community. On the surface, many unmarried black women who complain about this “shortage” say they seem to “have it all” only have it on a material level. However, when I listen to these sistas speak on discussions of internal traits such as character, I often discover that many black women don’t love themselves or see themselves as valuable enough to be loved or deserving the love of others. I believe it’s this lack of a sense self-worth, is why so many black women struggle to find partners, not because of a shortage of men.

I truly believe it’s the poor self-image and low self-esteem that many African-Americans have about themselves that causes men and women to have difficulties in finding partners to marry. This negative perception of self goes beyond race, class or gender and is buried deep within the subconscious minds of brothers and sisters. Because both Black men and Black women don’t see themselves as lovable or beings capable of expressing or receiving love, they have little to no standards about what behavior they'll accept in a relationship, and will settle for less than a full commitment from their partners. Without the standards and boundaries self-love establishes, there can be no dedication for a commitment like the institution of Marriage.

It's scary what I've read about Black men and women are tolerating in relationships now. Some are willing to "share" a man and others (both men and women) who just are indifferent about their partners cheating on them. More violate their own personal boundaries and accept relationships with lost, broken, or emotionally damaged men. A few even pursue men of another race or only to find their different colored partner has the same type of toxic character and personality traits they tried to escape from the black men they were pursing.
Because Black people don’t love themselves, they settle for less in life, something unheard of twenty years ago or even forty years ago. Sometimes I walk around my neighborhood I have to ask myself: Where has all the love gone?

I think that the African-American culture is now so full of misogyny, sexism, and self-hatred that a black woman isn't seen as someone valuable by both black men or Black women and that’s why the marriage rate is so low for African-American women. Due to the constant exploitative and disposable images of objectified, degraded sexual, black women, many black men do not see a black woman as someone beautiful or valuable; someone worthy of being an equal partner for life. Worse, many black women do not see themselves as someone having great beauty or value to be someone's equal partner for life.

Many of the character traits presented of Black women in the media these days emphasize the external and not internal. Because there is so much promotion of the external character traits (looks, material possessions, financial status, sexuality) very few Black people see the true value of a black woman's internal character traits (grace, intelligence, compassion, strength, dignity, tactfulness, courage, organization, kindness, patience, understanding caring), the traits men see as valuable in woman enough to commit himself to her in a marriage.

This same cultural misogyny and self-hatred has also poisoned the way black women see Black men. Many Black women do not see a Black man as a valuable partner due to the numerous false stereotypes used to identify him. These unrealistic pictures of what makes a "successful" man (Well-educated, handsome, "good" six-figure job, expensive clothes and driving a luxury car, good in bed) focus only on the superficial external character traits of a Black man and not the internal character traits (honesty, integrity, caring, tactfulness sensitivity, patience kindness, courage, dedication, determination, a sense of humor, leadership, creativity) that make a Black man a good partner in a marriage.

The contents of character within men and women form the values that are supposed to complement each other so both partners can support each other for the duration of the relationship. Unfortunately, because so many African-Americans have a poor self image and such low standards in who they choose for partners today, relationships are often formed on shaky foundations with broken, damaged, lost or non-committal partners. Without a relationship built on the solid foundation of common values found in internal character traits there's no structure to build the supports for a long-term commitment like a marriage.

Shawn's advice for the lovelorn, lonely, Sistas: Don't look for love; love will find you. Love attracts love. And if you love yourself, others will love you.