I decided to put a list together of books that I love to share with fellow readers. This is not a comprehensive list, but a partial one of authors, characters, and books that I've enjoyed. I will add to this list as I come across great books. And, if you have recommendations, let me know!
Finally emerging from my writing cave and successfully re-acclimating to the real world, I am happy to announce that the second book in the Jade Harrington series is finished.
For me, the process for the second book was easier and took half the time of DON’T SPEAK. I learned a lot the first time around and feel that I’ve grown as a writer. Future plot lines for Jade and Whitney Fairchild constantly fill my head, like visions of sugarplums danced in children’s heads of yore.
I’m taking a break for the holidays, but when I return I’ll release more details about book #2’s publication date and the cover reveal. About the cover: I’ve seen it, and I’m excited to share it with you.
I cannot wait to start working on book #3.
Happy Holidays, everyone!
In the second grade in the early ‘70s, one of my teachers told me, “You’re smart. You’re going to go to college someday.” It was her highest aspiration for me. At that time, it implied going on to becoming a secretary, a nurse, a teacher. All noble professions, but the only opportunities available. She was not implying, however, that someday I could be president. I never thought about being president as a child. It wasn’t possible. I am black. I was a girl. Even as an adult, I never thought I would see a black president or a woman president in my lifetime. But Hillary Rodham Clinton did.
Even when we got to know her as First Lady, we knew she was different. She wasn’t satisfied attending ceremonies, promoting a pet cause, or yes, baking cookies. She wanted to work. To help children. To transform our national health care system. It failed. But the country wasn’t ready, yet. She didn’t quit. Even when she said in the ‘90s, “Human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights.” The world wasn’t ready, yet. But she didn’t quit. And when she lost a hard-fought primary campaign against Senator Barack Obama, she didn’t give up on her dream.
There are many reasons why I voted for Secretary Clinton. And it’s not only because she’s a woman. I agree with her positions on many of the issues. But one thing I love about her is her resilience through adversity. She has helped women and children and effected change her entire adult life, meeting fierce resistance along the way. Most of us could not withstand the obstacles she has faced. I admire her, because she never, ever, ever quits. I like that in a president. She understands politics is a long and messy process. Significant change within the system takes time. Politics is a profession that requires super-human patience. Tonight, her patience will be reward.
The shattering of the ultimate glass ceiling is for every girl who has been told she’s not good enough, for every woman who has been beaten or killed for the right to vote, for every girl who has been told “you can’t do that, you’re a girl,” for every woman who has met sexism in the workplace or in school. Now, every girl in the United States of America from this day forward knows that she can grow up to be president of this great country.
As a woman, this is special day for me. An historic one. I am blessed to have lived through two. As an author, I write about two strong women, Jade Harrington and Senator Whitney Fairchild, who inspire me every day. You may see a little—maybe, a lot—of Hillary Clinton in Senator Fairchild.
I won’t apologize for becoming emotional tonight. Or for doing a HRC shimmy. I’ve earned it. And, as Beyoncé, would say, “I ain’t sorry.”
About eight months ago, while my political thriller, Don’t Speak, was being formatted, I wrote a blog entitled Waiting, in which I described how much a writer waits between stages of the writing process. But this time, I’m looking forward to it. I finished the second draft of the second book in the Jade Harrington series. The manuscript is now with my editor.
There’s always this trepidation when someone else reads my work for the first time. Is it good? Does it suck? Will he “get” it? Is the current political landscape becoming crazier than fiction? How will I ever keep up?
In the meantime, what will I do? I have some ideas. All the things that I’ve ignored while I was writing:
· Organize my home office
· Pay bills
· Practice synchronized swimming for the 2020 Olympics (kidding)
· Learn how to cook (kidding)
· Work out (not kidding)
· Yoga / meditation
· Get ready for football season (Go Raiders!)
· Watch EPL (Go Chelsea!) and La Liga (Hala Madrid!)
· Spend time with my family and friends who have missed me (you did miss me, right?)
· Relax (what’s that?)
· Did I say read?
And, maybe, brainstorm book #3.
Until next time…
Many readers have asked me whether the character, Senator Whitney Fairchild, in Don’t Speak is based on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In my novel, Whitney, a beautiful, charismatic Democrat from Missouri, is running for president of the United States in a hotly contested Democratic primary against a good ol’ boy senator from Nebraska.
In real life, presidential candidate Donald Trump recently accused Sec. Clinton of playing the “woman card,” meaning either her path to president is easier because she is a woman or her womanhood is her only qualification for the job or the only reason a woman would vote for her is because of her gender or she only cares about “women’s issues” or some combination thereof. Whatever he meant, his statement was offensive, not only to Sec. Clinton, but to all women.
Any woman knows there are few things in life that are easier because you are a woman. More women than men graduate from college, but only 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. A woman in some cases must work twice as hard as a man to be recognized (and sometimes paid less) for the same work. Women in the workplace put up with stereotypical comments that are seen as positive traits in men, i.e., a woman is a “bitch,” a man is “demanding.”
Clinton’s accomplishments as an attorney, First Lady, senator, and Secretary of State, making her one of—if not the—most accomplished women ever in the history of US politics—speak for themselves. The only position she attained because she was a woman was First Lady, and even then she reshaped the role forever by her efforts to reform health care and creation of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which now provides health care to eight million children. In addition, to helping children, she helped first responders impacted by 9/11, negotiated a cease fire in the Middle East, and orchestrated the killing of Osama Bin Laden. These are not your grandmother’s women’s issues.
As for women only voting for women, women make up 51% of the population and more of them vote than men, but still only 20% of US senators are women. As an aside, during a recent snowstorm, every female senator—Republican and Democrat—showed up for work. None of the men did.
Maybe Donald Trump needs a “woman card” to “get stuff done.”
Whitney Fairchild is based on extensive research I conducted for the novel, studying the lives and works of many great Democratic female senators. Not only Hillary Clinton of New York, but also Barbara Boxer of California, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, and Dianne Feinstein of California.
Although Hillary Clinton is poised to shatter the ultimate glass ceiling—and become the first woman president of the United States of America—Whitney Fairchild is her own person, with her own personality, history, and life and work experiences.
But don’t be mistaken…Whitney aims to break some glass of her own.
Tom Petty once sang that the hardest part is waiting. He may have been singing about something else—in fact, I’m sure he was—but his song could also apply to the life of a writer.
After writing each draft, a writer waits for feedback from readers. Then, she waits on feedback from editors. This process can continue indefinitely. A proofreader does the final edits, while the writer waits some more.
Waiting, waiting, waiting.
My novel, Don’t Speak, is now being formatted for publication. After it is printed, I will wait until it is available for sale next month. In the meantime, to fill the void, I have been writing the second book in the Jade Harrington series. My goal is to finish the first draft by the end of January.
When I’ll wait for someone else to read it.
I started this journey back in October 2010. At dinner one evening, my wife, Audi, said, “You’ve read your entire life and always have a book in your hand. Sometimes two. You have a passion for reading. You should write a book.” I looked at her in surprise and in my best Michael Jackson voice responded, “I’m a reader not a writer.” [In “The Girl is Mine,” Michael sang “I’m a lover not a fighter.”]
That night, I dreamed the original plot for Don’t Speak. When I woke up the next morning, I researched online how to write a novel. I wrote for school and work, but rarely wrote for pleasure. The Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson resonated with the analytical side of me. I recorded my dream on paper and began outlining my novel. Over the next year, I woke up at four a.m. every day and wrote for two hours before work. And I am not a morning person. At all. But I found my passion. Writing awakened the creative side of me. I realized I had a story to tell.
It’s been a long road. I learned a lot on this incredible journey, about writing and myself. Writing is not a linear endeavor, but more like a stock market graph; there can be amazing highs and gut-wrenching lows. I met many people in person and online who supported, motivated, and cheered me on, and let me know I was not alone.
I put the manuscript on hold for months at a time as life got in the way. There have been major revisions. But the main characters—Jade, Whitney, Cole, and the killer—were born in my dream that night long ago and have taken on a life of their own. And now Don’t Speak allows me to share them with you.
I hope you enjoy reading my novel as much as I enjoyed writing it.