The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Monday, August 2, 2021

A Book to Amp Up Your Life

 I recently read Karen Arrington's book, Your Next Level Life. It takes a conversational tone on how to to amp up your life, and even though it's written to help Black women improve their lives, it would help everyone. 

I'm going to share some details about Karen, and then I'll share my review.


Karen Arrington is an award-winning author, women’s empowerment expert + global philanthropist + winner of an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work.

Karen’s coaching, mentoring + philanthropic work spans over 100,000 hours of service — including her position as a Goodwill Ambassador to Sierra Leone, her work as the co-founder of the first Diabetes Awareness Day in West Africa, and her role as the founder of The Miss Black USA Pageant.

She won a 2020 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work for her book, Your Next Level Life: 7 Rules of Power, Confidence and Opportunity for Black Women In America. She has also been honored by The Lifetime Network, Jones New York + other major media outlets for her tireless advocacy for women’s health, success + empowerment -- including a Red Dress Award from Woman’s Day Magazine for her efforts in the fight against heart disease, the #1 killer of women.

Over the past 20 years, Karen has helped over 1,000 women step into powerful careers in media, business, medicine + law — transcending hardship, abuse + financial limitations, and transforming their lives + communities. Today, Karen offers private coaching + global service retreats around the world for ambitious women who want to live their best lives -- only better.

Here is what I posted on Amazon:

This is definitely not the kind of book I usually read. And usually, I don't even give a moment's attention to ideas like "dream-big" and "write-your-dream-down" and "your-dream-is-your-birthright." However, some wonderful things have happened to me lately. One of my dreams came true (I got a book published that I'd worked on for five years) so now I DO believe in taking a risk and thinking outside the box and believing in a dream. 

Karen Arrington is Black. She's a successful businesswoman and philanthropist, and her book was written with Black women in mind... but her advice works for every woman. Really, it would work for every person. Harrington shares big "rules" to follow, like "Expand Your Horizons" and "Identifiy Your Superpowers" to small gems. A tiny tidbit I appreciated was this one: make chores like researching scholarships (or agents/publishers, in my case) fun and inspiring. I've never made my surroundings pleasant when doing grunt work like this. A candle? Music? Having a friend over? Making a few changes would have made chores like this more appealing, and obviously. Harrington has what it takes to make her cause more appealing... to make her business propositions appealing. So give this book a read if you have dreams you've not reached yet...

So, if you'd like some help reaching for the stars--and being able to grasp them--read Arrington's Your Next Level Life. You might be surprised with what happens...

Monday, June 21, 2021

Who's Your Cheerleader?

 I belong to a writing critique group. I belong to a writing accountability group. Both of them are full of writing friends who are encouraging and helpful, in countless ways.

My husband? He tries. However, he's not a writer, so sometimes his attempts at being helpful go awry.

Recently, I read a post from a writer whose family had gotten her a cake made. Emblazoned across the cake was the word Writer. 

Too often, we get rejected as writers. We write and draft and revise... and all we get is a "no thanks" from editors and publishers.

Check out my post about my cheerleaders... and about my hubby who means well, but I might limit his megaphone use in the future...

Monday, June 14, 2021

Shifting Thinking

 I'm old. I'm rooted in the "old school" ways. However, when something new happens to you, you have to get some new tools in your tool belt.

I recently was fortunate enough to get my book published. That is definitely something new. Before, I only had to contend with a long string of rejection emails--or no email at all. Now, I have to shift my thinking so I can promote my book.

This is one thing I did: I created some shirts. I wore it when I went to Tulsa recently, and the shirt did spark some conversations.

I'm busy speaking to bookstore owners and museum personnel, to hopefully set up some author events. This is also new.

And I'm taking a break from writing curriculum to write this post. My publisher (the brilliant Margo Dill) is working on getting sponsors who will buy classroom sets of my book for teachers, and I'm writing the curriculm materials that will accompany the sets. As a teacher, I'd want a variety of different activities to do with the book, along with comprehension questions (to make it easier, when adding a new book to the classroom's reading list).

How about you? What new things are you doing lately?

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Garth Brooks' Hands

 I went to Tulsa last week for the 100-year commemoration of the Tulsa Race Massacre. I didn't sell any books--physically--but I think I "sold" a few through the conversations I had with people.

Before the trip, I was looking forward to seeing Alfre Woodard and Wes Studi--both former Tulsans and both actors--and was not thrilled with the prospect of seeing Garth Brooks--also a child of Tulsa. (All three were among the stars at a fundraising brunch.) Garth Brooks ended up stealing my heart. You can read my post about Brooks... and how I squeal even now, thinking about it.

                                        This was a mural on the wall of Greenwood building.

These are some things I learned:

  • Don't discount the chance encounters. Even though I was not able to set up a table and sell my books, I met people... I met families, and I hope that some of them order my book, read it, learn from it, and review it.
  • Taking a risk is worth it. After checking out of our hotel and heading home, my friend and I stopped at the Philbrook, a way-cool museum in Tulsa. The goal: to speak to the buyer for the gift shop so (hopefully) they would carry my book. My publisher (Margo Dill) had gone to the museum a couple of days before; she thought it would be the perfect place for Greenwood Gone: Henry's Story.
          Unfortunately, the buyer was in a (Zoom) meeting. I spoke to a few of the gift shop employees, 
          connected to one in particular, and asked him to give my card to the buyer. I started to leave... 
          then stopped and asked, "Would you give her a copy of the book?" He agreed, and gave it to her 
          right then. As she left the Zoom momentarily, she got intrigued (a book written from the 
          perspective of a 12-year old African American?). The employee returned, saying, "She said she 
          gets the shop's books from Ingram. She's loyal to them." I was happy to tell him that my book
          was available through that distributor--thanks to my publisher. 

           It ended up sounding promising. I'd be thrilled if there was a spot on one of their display tables
           for my book, so when people come to the museum, they might buy a copy and the word is 
           spread about the Tulsa Race Massacre. I almost left with just dropping off a card. But I took a                 risk and went a bit further... and I think it paid off.
  •  Sometimes you reap the benefits later. Garth Brooks got a copy of my book. So did Alfre Woodard and Wes Studi and the director of the Greenwood Cultural Center. I got a wonderful   review in the St. Louis paper. Perhaps something exciting will come from one of these. I hope so...
How about you? What exciting things have you experienced or learned because of your writing?

Monday, May 10, 2021

My Future Trip to Tulsa Part 1

I'm still working on setting up book events when I go to Tulsa at the end of May. I'll be bringing boxes of my book... Hopefully the back of my car will be empty (or at least less loaded up) when I head back home. However, one thing has been set up.

I'm attending a brunch event and will be in the same room as some famous Tulsans.

One is Garth Brooks. I wasn't aware he was from Tulsa.

Another name is Wes Studi. The name didn't ring a bell, but as soon as I saw his face, I knew who he was.

His present-day face might not bring back memories of his work, but if I mentioned the character's name of  Magua, or if I said, "Do you remember the Native American who tried to convince a young woman (unsuccessfully) off the side of a cliff in the movie The Last of the Mohicans?" would you remember him then?

This is one of the most moving moments of the movie, in my opinion. The soundtrack--during this scene--includes a haunting fiddle piece (it's at the end of the clip). In fact, I bought the soundtrack for this single piece of music. Here is this memorable song:

Wes also played a memorable Pawnee in the movie Dances With Wolves. In the photo below, he's in the foreground, front and center. 

When I post next, I'll share the celebrity who will be at the brunch who made me squeal with uncontainable excitement. Hint: This person played one my favorite characters in the series St. Elsewhere.

How about you? What famous people have you had an encounter with? Giddy minds want to know...

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

The Invisible Vegan


When I was in middle-school, I was a vegetarian for a year or so. My mother was constantly worried I wasn't getting enough protein. I was. I just had an overly concerned mom. 

My dietary change was the result of me not being crazy about the taste of meat... along with a short story I'd read. James Agee wrote a moving story called "A Mother's Tale" about a cow that--like all the other cows--wants to experience getting away from the boring pasture and wants to get on the train... the train that other cows are lucky enough to get shoved onto.

The cow does get taken away (by train) to the slaughterhouse, and miraculously, escapes right before it's slaughtered. Most of their hide has been torn off, they're barely alive... but they're on a mission to warn the other cows.

Jasmine Leyva's documentary, The Invisible Vegan, is part history lesson, a tiny part cooking show and a huge part call to action. Jasmine has a calm, casual way of speaking to the viewer, making it easy for anybody to relate to her. The movie takes me back to my vegetarian days, and has probably made it so I'll never have another bacon slice or a chicken patty again.

On the journey to dispel myths and make her case, Leyva includes a movie chapter about enslaved people and how they were forcibly taken from a culture that subsisted on a plant-based diet... and how once they arrived at their new "home," they had no choice but to eat low on the hog.

Now--in 2021--there are minority neighborhoods without access to decent (and affordable) vegetables and fruit.  According to some of the experts who star in this documentary, we should rally for fresh food just like we should rally for social justice.

 If you're thinking of having "Meatless Mondays" or you're seriously considering your food choices, I highly recommend watching Jasmine Leyva's documentary. It's entertaining, engaging and relatable. You can watch the trailer below:

And here are some other posts reviewing the movie or interviewing the director:

March 22nd @ WOW! Women on Writing
Join us today when we celebrate the launch of our very first virtual film tour featuring Jasmine Leyva's eye-opening documentary, The Invisible Vegan. Find out more about this incredible film, read an interview with the director, and find out how you can stream it.

March 22nd @ Plant to You
Check out Carleigh's blog for her recommendation of The Invisible Vegan.

March 24th @ The Faerie Review
Find out more about the documentary The Invisible Vegan and how you can stream it online today.

March 27th @ Boots, Shoes, and Fashion
Visit Linda's blog where she reviews Jasmine Leyva's film The Invisible Vegan.

March 28th @ Lady Unemployed
Visit Nicole's blog today where Lisa Jones is a guest reviewer and shares her thoughts of Jasmine Leyva's documentary The Invisible Vegan.

March 29th @ AJ Sefton's Blog
Join AJ as he reviews the eye-opening documentary The Invisible Vegan.

March 30th @ Strength 4 Spouses
Wendi shares her insights into the documentary The Invisible Vegan

March 31st @ Merc With a Movie Blog
Visit this movie blog today and find out their review of The Invisible Vegan.

April 2nd @ Knotty Needle
Seeking to transform her own eating habits, blogger Judy Hudgins shares her insights about the documentary The Invisible Vegan. 

April 2nd @ Brookes Bookstagram
Visit Brookes Instagram page today to read her review of The Invisible Vegan.

April 5th @ Michelle Cornish' Blog
Join Michelle as she reviews the documentary The Invisible Vegan

April 7th @ Sioux's Page
Sioux shares her own insights into the documentary The Invisible Vegan.

April 12th @ Look to the Western Sky
Join Margo as she shares her insights into the film The Invisible Vegan and interviews the director Jasmine Leyva.

April 15th @ Wild Hearted
Join Ashley as she reviews the film The Invisible Vegan

April 16th @ Diary of a Smart Chick
Join Kathryn as she reviews the eye-opening documentary The Invisible Vegan.

April 18th @ Leafy Souls
Join the team at Leafy Souls and read their insights into Jasmine's powerful documentary The Invisible Vegan.

April 19th @ Carole Mertz Blog
Join Carole as she reviews the film The Invisible Vegan and shares her insights into this powerful documentary. 

April 21st @ Deborah Adams' Blog
Join Deborah as she reviews the documentary The Invisible Vegan.

About the Author, Jasmine Leyva

Activist, actress, and documentary filmmaker, Jasmine is passionate about veganism, social justice, and telling her own stories. With a Bachelor of Arts in TV, Film and Media and a Master of Fine Arts in screenwriting, Jasmine is unapologetically an artist. She has worked as an associate producer on a NAACP winning docuseries entitled Unsung and has written and produced for Being, a docuseries highlighting dynamic entertainers in film and music.

Jasmine ultimately decided to let go of her nine-to-five and focus on her goals with no boss except for her own creativity. She went on to produce her own feature length documentary, The Invisible Vegan, a film that chronicles her personal experience with plant-based eating.  The film also explains how plant-based eating is directly linked to African roots and how African-American eating habits have been debased by a chain of oppression. 

Jasmine’s recently appeared on the Vegan Women SummitThe Sarah Scoop Show, and the 

Soul On Fire podcast.