3 Reasons Why My Teenager is Doper Than Yours!

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3 Reasons Why My Teenager is Doper Than Yours!

 

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Yeah I said it, now what? I was the portal that dopeness chose to enter this world and I ain’t ashamed to say so. Lol. No, but for real. Have you ever looked at your child and been like, “you’ve been here before,” or “if you’re this dope, then I must be like the supreme Goddess of dopeness because I actually grew you,” or “you’re going to be the most awesome adult ever”? I do it every day, with both of my girls. But my oldest, my first born, my Mango, she’s BY FAR, the most awesome person I’ve met… and that says a lot because I know a LOT of super awesome people! I mean, like famous and almost famous, and even local celebrity type people. But my daughter is one of my favorite people in the world to be around, hands down.

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My baby ain’t a baby no more.

The funny thing is that this is the time when most mothers are wanting to strangle their teens. I invite mine into my room, we sit up and listen to music and write and talk for hours, she tells me almost everything and I am SO open with her, too. My momma told me recently that I was so lucky because by 15, she was ready to buy my headstone and dig me a hole. I was a mess. And I’ll admit it. Then, she did the worst thing a Southern mother can do to her child… she cursed me. Told me that Phoenix was gonna be the one to get her payback for her. Like, really momma? Dang. Lol. So, I’m just telling y’all right now, ten years from now, don’t be coming back over here looking for another “my teenager is dope” post. It’ll probably be more like, “5 ways to maintain your sanity when raising a diva who can’t even drive…” Lol. But I digress. Back to the one I got it right with the first time.

I know… I know, y’all probably think that I’m biased because she’s my daughter. Well, let me nip that in the bud. I’m gonna give you just the 3 MAIN reasons that my 15-year-old is dope and I bet you’ll be agreeing with me by the end of this post.

Reason #1:

She’s an artist

Ok, let me clarify. I’m a poet/novelist/publisher/editor. I can do ANYTHING that involves words. But Mango… she can do that and then some. Like, she’s a writer/poet/photographer/videographer/editor/painter/graphics designer. Yes, she does all of those things. And does them all WELL. She writes better than I do, and I ain’t even jealous. I mean, we want our children to be better than us, right? She’s on my mixtape as a poet. She hosted the open mic at my Sowing Seeds event back in August featuring world-renown Poet Sunni Patterson, the only teen in a room full of adults and she kilt that shit! Yeah, I said kilt. Lol. She’s reclusive in real life but a powerhouse onstage, man… for real.

She’s a 9th Grader at Ramsay IB High School, and was voted VP of her school’s Creative Writing group. She wrote an essay to get them funding for their newsletter. She wrote a poem about me, comparing me to a flower in a vase whose nourishing water was her own tears. Yeah… that one there, gets me every time. She got her first poem published in the 8th Grade. (Thanks DISCO.) She’s writing her first novel.

I mean, I could go on and on with this one alone. But I’ll just share the song that we did together for my upcoming mixtape, also featuring my sister Poetic Puff, as evidence. Ya know, so you don’t think I’m making it all up. Lol.

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Mind of Mango is a private exclusive, only being shared here. Enjoy! (Feel free to download.)

Reason #2

She fed the homeless for her birthday

I’ll forever remember this as one of the many moments that meant so much to me. My daughter came to me and told me that she wanted to feed the homeless people around her school (5 Points South in Birmingham) for her birthday. Now, most teenagers want their learner’s permit. They want a part-time job. They want gifts, but she wanted to feed others. She was going to use her allowance to do it, but, come on… what mother wouldn’t want to make this wish come true for her child?

Well, it snowed on her birthday, January 7th. That was dope because she loves the snow and y’all know we barely get that mess here in Alabama. But the next weekend, we were up at 7 in the morning. Well, they were, I was asleep but they came and got me and were dressed and excited. By 9am, we had bought Wal-Mart out of all of their toothbrush travel packs, bought a couple cases of water, juice, oranges, boxes of chips, granola, gloves and skulleys. So… a Facebook post, that got the help of several of my dear friends and fans of both myself and my baby girl, and a couple hundred dollars later, we were ready to feed the homeless.

Phoenix was the official hand sanitizer distributor, happy to help her big sister make her dream come true. My dear friends AJ and Rob (soon-to-be Mrs. And Mr. Danner II) and their children came up from Prattville with more water (and fussed me out for not asking them to help more). Poet Brint Story and the beautiful Jasmine Enriquez were also there to help distribute the food and supplies. It was a MONUMENTAL day, man. Like, worth every dollar, second, and smile. Check out the slideshow below. Photos courtesy of Mr. Danner.

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Still not convinced of her dopeness yet??? No worries, there’s more. Lol.

Reason #3

She pitched and landed her own teen open mic to give herself and her peers a judgment free zone of expression

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Mango is an artist, beyond the shadow of a doubt. But, as you can see, she’s also a very caring person. She approached me last year, after she hosted the open mic at my event, and said that she wanted to create one of her own for the teens in the area. She said she feels like they have nowhere that they can express themselves and their voices be heard. Of course, as always, I was all for it. She wanted to start in the Spring and have it at Avondale Park.

Well, the way the Universe is set-up, things happened a little differently than planned. In November, I spoke to the students at Putnam Middle School at the invitation of my dear poet friend, Mojo Mama. There, I met Liz Hughey, who owns DISCO (Desert Island Supply Company). I thanked her for having me, and told her that they’d published my daughter’s first poem. She asked who my daughter was. I told her Mango Miner. She nodded, smiled, and said, “that makes sense.” That, by far, is one of the most flattering compliments that I’ve received to date. Lol. I told her about Mango’s desire to start a teen open mic and she was all ears.

The next morning, I received an email offering the venue to Dira for her open mic. I just want you to read that part again… I’ll wait.

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Ok, now I’ll proceed. Now, because I’m a teacher and mother first, I didn’t take it upon myself to do anything else but thank Mrs. Liz and tell Mango about the opportunity. Then, I emailed Mango a pitch that I’d done in the past and she emulated it and… her first teen open mic is on Friday, February 17, 2017. I did nothing. She did it all. On her own, with a little coaching from her entrepreneur mom. Even now, the meetings, the planning, the FB Fan Page, the promotions. All her. She’s fifteen. Hell, when I was 15, I was still trying to figure out why boys were so stupid. (Still haven’t figured that one out by the way. So, anyone with the answer, please feel free to share.)

But it gets better. (I feel like I’m on an infomercial… “But wait, there’s more.” Lol.)

Soooo, she wanted to call it “Mic Check.” But there’s already a popular event here by that name hosted by an awesome married couple, G.I. Magus and Jacqueline Jones. So, on the pitch, by the name of the event, I told her to put “TBD” and explained to her that it meant To Be Determined. Well, she chose to keep that name because she said that, as teens maturing into adults, their lives, their destinies, their everything is still being determined. Pretty cool, huh? (I will take a moment to say that she was heartbroken that “Mic Check” was taken, but she respected the reason that she couldn’t use it. She’s a better bad news taker than most adults I know. Lolbvs.)

I reached out to a few friends and they agreed to sponsor the event through the provision of chaperones every 1st and 3rd Friday night. She was excited about the sponsorships, but livid with me for bringing adults into the mix. See, Mango wants her event to be “by teens for teens.” Of course, all of my adult friends want to come show support, but she ain’t having it. Like, she even told me I could just drop her off. *insert hurt face with pearls clutched here*

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Nahhhh, not for real, I don’t even wear pearls, but I was kinda hurt. But then, she explained it to me… she said, and I quote, “Umi, people, especially teens who are unsure of themselves, are less likely to open up and be true to themselves when they are in the presence of someone that they feel is superior to them.” Well… what could I say after that but, “ok, what time do I need to drop you off”?

So, as any proud mom would do, I’m blogging and posting all over social media about my daughter’s first ever artistic endeavor. That’s she’s doing with little to no assistance from grown-ups. Well, her dad did design the flyer… and I coached her… a little… and adults are providing the venue, but you know what the hell I’m trying to say. Sheesh!

Bragging Rights

See, I have an issue with bragging on myself, but I have no qualms whatsoever when it comes to bragging on my children. You know why? Because they are my Magnum Opuses. They are the greatest achievements I will ever have in my life and, books and performances and accolades aside… THEY are my legacy.

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Now, are you ready to admit my teenager is doper than yours yet? If not, ‘tis cool. I wouldn’t expect a good parent like you to sell your baby short like that anyway. But… you’ve gotta admit, she is REALLY dope. Grown-ups wanna be her… Hell, I wanna be her! I WAS her one year for Halloween, actually. I told her that on my birthday, I could be anyone or anything I wanted to be (yes, I’m a spook baby), but I chose to be her. That did wonders on her self-esteem, man. She even styled me to make sure I got her swag right… do people still say swag? I can’t even keep up with the slanguage nowadays.

But I will say that when it comes to dope teens doing dope things, I truly believe I have the dopest of the dope.

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What’s Your YOU-per-Power: Defining Yourself Outside of Daughter, Wife, and Motherhood

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What’s Your YOU-per-Power: Defining Yourself Outside of Daughter, Wife, and Motherhood

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Hey y’all!

I know it’s been a minute! Did you miss me? Lol.

Life kinda happened, and knocked me off my square, but hey, who hasn’t had that happen, right?

But, in this time that I’ve been absent, I’ve filed for divorce… *insert gasp here*

Yeah, me and Mr. Henderson have parted ways… but we’ve been working on being co-parents for the girls. All the rest, in my humble opinion, is irrelevant, right?

I’ve also published more books! I’m at 13 and counting now, 7 this year.

But, and this is the real reason for this post. In the midst of all of the chaos that has been my summer, I have found MYself. Now, we all have different definitions of this, but I can honestly say that, at 34, well 35 today, I am just now realizing who I am as a person.

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That Toney Chick/One of Them Toney Girls

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Deacon Toney’s Daughter

See, when I was younger, I was my daddy’s daughter. I looked exactly like him (I used to tell him that he’d make a fine woman lol), acted a lot like him, and people  called me that Toney Chick or One of them Toney girls. He has 4 of us, by the way. All daughters, and all granddaughters. I had no identity because I was attached to him. So, my father’s existence defined me.

He was a deacon. I sang in the choir. He taught karate. I took it. He wrote songs. I wrote poetry. I was attached to him, even if I didn’t wanna be. And, as a daddy’s girl, I can’t say that I had a problem with it. I mean, daddy is a girl’s first love, right? So, I was proud to look like, act like, and follow in the footsteps of my dad. Become a woman that he was proud of. Someone he bragged about.

My father’s opinion, his existence, defined who I was… Until…

Heyyyy Mrs. Miner

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And Joi Miner was born.

I met Kyle Miner in 2001. We had a whirlwind romance that resulted in a pregnancy and, well, my parents are super old-fashioned. I ended up having a shotgun wedding.

I went from being Willie Toney’s second oldest daughter to Kyle Miner’s wife.

Now, I won’t say that the entire five and a half years of marriage was bad. I mean, we had some great times. But… when I became successful in poetry, something that we were both doing, and made the equivalent to his Firefighter salary writing and performing while being a housewife and mother, things got ugly. But, that story is in another post

Mango’s Mom

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Mango’s Umi

During my marriage to Kyle, I was privileged to be the mother of a very calm, very wise little girl, Qadira Miner. She has since evolved into an impressively discerning young woman, who I am extremely proud of. However, and this is especially the case now that she’s gotten older, I am defined as Mango’s Mom.

I’m a little bitty woman, with colorful hair, who has a daughter that everyone is sooooo in awe of. They want to know about my parenting skills. They have to meet me. They want to know what I did to make her so awesome.

I just tell them that I operate in a no judgment zone. I allow my children to be themselves unapologetically. They hand out face checks like Halloween Candy. And I’m a firm believer that, if you can endure menstrual cramps once a month, you should be allowed to curse. I’m quite the unconventional parent, to say the least.

Mrs. Henderson Is What They Call Me

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Slim 1 and Slim 2

I divorced my first husband in 2006. I met Johari in 2007. He was it for me. I never would’ve expected that, nine years later, we would be getting divorced. This has, by far, been the hardest separation and breakup in my entire life. You can see it in the above post.

I was proud to be his wife. Bear his child. Sing his praises. Put my career on hold and just be wife and mother. Until, the beginning of this year. I was let go from a job that I was miserable at. He made me promise not to work for anyone else, ever again. He told me to focus on my writing, performing, and my editing. To turn it into a full-on business and he would handle the bills while I was building it.

Well, I don’t think either of us knew what being an entrepreneur would mean, to us as individuals, or for our marriage. I was travelling more. I worked hard. Long hours, was too tired to cook or clean sometimes. I was stressed. And then, things really picked up and I broke out as an author, editor, and performer. And… something broke. No matter how hard I tried to continue to be the wife that he needed. His cheerleader, his confidante. Sometimes, I had a job due, a deadline, a show that took me away from home on his off nights, or out of town.

I had to work when others rested because I had no set schedule. And, even when I set one, in order to reach financial goals, I was unavailable most of the time. I mean, I had to sleep sometime.

Communication broke down, on his end. He became angry and… let’s just say my first marriage ended up on repeat.

Phoenix Has Risen

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And then, there was Buddha…

I will say that one great thing, other than my pursuit of my entrepreneurial career, was our Buddha. I was done having children. But Johari was such a great father to Mango that I felt he deserved a child of his own. So, at 29, I was pregnant again.

Buddha’s a little fireball in her own right, and is a light at the end of any tunnel. But, again, I’m Buddha’s mom with the bright smile and colorful hair when I go to her school. I’m the one that she’s sooooo much like. Her dark-skinned twin.

I spend a great deal of my free time watching ballet shows, teaching her to read, at the park pushing her in a swing, playing dolls, doing hair, looking at drawings… doing homework… yes, pre-k students have homework.

I’m 35 with a 5 year old. Keeping up with her is a full-time job in and of itself. And co-parenting is proving to be such a learning experience, and yet another thing to tack onto the “have to-do” list.

Who Am I?

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When you greet the man/woman in the mirror, who do you see? 

Recently, I went on a date to see Birth of A Nation. One of the previews that they showed was for an upcoming film, Hidden Figures (I’m superexcited about seeing that one by the way). During the preview, one of the characters said, “We go from being our father’s daughters to our husband’s wives to our children’s mothers.”

That rang a bell so hard I got a headache. Like, wait… that was my life in ONE sentence. Made me wonder how many women share my dilemma. Then, I thought back on several conversations that I’ve had with friends. So many of us lose ourselves in our marriages and our children. So much so that we cannot imagine life without them in it. Now, this isn’t a bad thing. Your family should be a priority. But YOU should be one, also.

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How many nights have you wanted to write, or read, take dancing lessons, or sing at an open mic? How many nights have those desires been trumped by having to cook dinner, do laundry, help with homework, iron school clothes? How often are you too tired to pursue your passions?

They end up on the back burner… until they collect cobwebs, get buried beneath a pile of dirty underwear, end up at the very bottom of grocery and to-do lists.

Both times now, after getting divorced, I had to struggle with redefining myself. Yes, I’m still a mother. But, what am I gonna do with some of this time that I’d previously devoted to being a wife… that doesn’t include listening to sappy ass love songs, eating ice cream, or crying until I’m dehydrated. What could I do that made me happy?

Who am I, if not Mrs. Miner or Mrs. Henderson? If not Mango’s Umi and Buddha’s Mommy?joi-miner

I’m A Goddess, Of Course!

Your YOU-per-Power

So, I pose this question to all of my women, hell, all of my men who are in relationships and parents. What’s your YOU-Per-Power? What’s the ONE thing that defines you… just you. Not as a spouse, an employee, or a mother. At the core of yourself, who are YOU? What do you enjoy?

I was blessed. I’ve been a writer all of my life. I love words. I’m a poet. I’m a performer. I’m a motivational speaker. I’m a slick-mouthed, censorless friend who will give it to you straight, no chaser. I’m a model. I’m an event planner. I’m a producer and director. I’m an author. I’m an entrepreneur. I’m a dreamer. I grind while others sleep. I make miracles happen.

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A dear friend calls me a superhero. Other friends call me Goddess. Some call me Empress. My Mango came up with my superhero name: The Umi-verse. She says that I am so powerful and possess so many abilities that I am my own Universe. And I do it all while being a great Umi. BEST COMPLIMENT EVER!

My YOU-Per-Power is words. I craft them into poetry, workshops, novels. I’ve read the dictionary 4 times so far in my life. Words make me happy. The sound of them, the way that you can stitch them together like a quilt and make something so beautiful. I love them and they love me back.

Career Is Bae

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I was raised to get married. To bear children. I’m from the South. My parents are super old-school, remember the shotgun wedding? I had a hope chest coming up. I wore dresses. I was a cheerleader… yeah, you read that right. Lol.

I was told that there were things that girls don’t do. I remember getting so angry that the steam was coming out of my ears when Mango came home one day and told me that a substitute told her that women are to be seen, not heard. I wanted to go see ’bout her ass. You don’t tell impressionable children that kinda mess. Now, don’t get me wrong, when in a relationship, I know how to be “soft” and “submissive.” I know that there is a such thing as balance in a relationship. However… I am no longer in the pursuit of a relationship.

Now, before you shake your head and think that I’m jaded, let me stop you and explain… read on… 

For the past fifteen years of my life, I’ve been someone’s wife and mother. Before that, I was always in a relationship. I started dating officially at twelve. But I had my first “school boyfriend” in the third grade. I have literally been attached so someone for the majority of my life.

Recently, I went home to Da Gump for my best friend’s birthday dinner. One of our mutual friends and a local celebrity was there. Picking at him, because I’d just found out that he had a girlfriend, I looked at him and said, “Where you been, bruh? I hear you been boo’ed up.” He looked at me and with the straightest face ever said, “I been boo’ed up with my career.” That echoed through me. That night, at that table at Wentzell’s in Downtown Montgomery, Alabama, a nerve was struck.

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I made the decision that my career is bae.

Now, I’m focused like never before. I know what it is that defines and I have tunnel vision. Now, that isn’t very conducive to dating. Like, I’ve learned that men tend to take offense when you tell them that you’re busy. That you don’t have time to just sit somewhere and eat food when you already cooked, or walk in the park and talk when you could be writing and editing. I don’t have time to sit on the phone and talk, get to know you, but… you can come to my shows… you can buy my books… you can come work with me.

But not at my house… like at a coffee shop or library or something. I don’t bring men to my home… my children live there.

I’m not saying that I’m not open to dating. That I don’t want a relationship. What I’m saying is that I don’t want to lose myself, ever again, because I’m focused on being in a relationship.

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Now, what that may mean is that I’ll be single for a very, very long time. I won’t have the time, the patience, did I mention the time, to be anything but mother, writer, poet, author, performer, motivational speaker, author Joi Miner right now.

The right man, or woman, will fit in there somewhere. And they’ll understand, as well, that sometimes, being the Umi-verse doesn’t allow time for much else.

So, I’ve found self, and found bae, in the midst of being everything for everyone. I’m not telling you to go down my road. Just asking that, while you’re being awesome child, spouse, and parent, you also take a little time to be phenomenally YOU.

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Until next time, 

Take care of YOURselves!

 

Sneak Peek: Joi Miner Work-In-Progress

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Sneak Peek: Joi Miner Work-In-Progress

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As a writer, I am always eager to accept a new challenge. I write urban fiction/erotica/romance, but I am branching into Historical Fiction, Psychological and Political Thrillers, Black Woman White Man (BWWM) and even Big Beautiful Women (BBW). My company Poetic Advisory, LLC edits a lot of urban fiction and street lit. I mean A LOT. And, about a week or so ago, while chatting with my publisher, Shani Greene-Dowdell, I was challenged to write three things: Part 3 and the Finale to my A Good Girl with Bad Habits series, a destination romance, and complete a street lit spin-off from my Side Piece Chronicles series that I’ve been playing with the idea of. Well, the street lit was kinda my idea and we ran with it. Lol. I’ll be giving away copies of that one at the Poetic Advisory Red and Black Affair and Company Launch here in Birmingham on June 25th (flyer below).

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Since this is my first attempt at street lit, I decided to post a sneak peek to get your thoughts on it. Please be honest. I’m goin’ for that realness that I know all too well but have yet to share with my readers. So, here goes. Since there was a tie on the Facebook post, I’ll be giving you a deeper look at Keisha Taylor and her partner, Sam Smith, that you met in Side Piece Chronicles 3. (It’s unedited so don’t beat me up lol)

**Please be advised, this post contains adult content**

**The following material is Unpublished Work © 2016 Jamesha Henderson**

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way… Enjoy!

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Keisha

“Whew! New blood got ass!”

I heard one the officers say as I walked to my locker to get ready for my first day as an official Montgomery Police Officer. I didn’t even waste my time responding, but I made a mental note of his face because I knew his ass was gonna be a problem for me. I knew this was gonna be the norm since I was in a world that was filled with men with egos bigger than their dicks. I wasn’t interested in any of their shit and wouldn’t be bothered.

I walked into the female dressing room and ran into Shawnna, another Rookie who seemed to be more welcoming to the advances.

“Girl, you betta lose that stank ass attitude. You never know when your life may be on the line and you’ll need one of them to cover your ass,” Shawnna said, shaking her head at me as I rolled my eyes.

“Girl, they’re being pigs,” I said, then caught myself because I knew the connotation that that word carried in my new career.

Shawnna laughed at me so hard she had to sit down. I didn’t find shit funny. I came to do my job. Period. If me being protected came at the price of me bustin’ it open to one or more of these niggas in here, I was just gonna have to make sure I was a marksman and on my shit. I could take care of myself.

“Pick ya face up off the floor, Keisha,” Shawnna finally managed to get out between giggles. “You better leave that feminism shit at home when you come up in here. In case you hadn’t noticed, we’re outnumbered in this bitch. I plan to work my way to the top, one way or another,” she said, air grinding, letting me know what she meant. “I would suggest you do the same. We can have these niggas eatin’ out the palm of our hands if we play our cards right.”

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5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Write A Book

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My first novel, Vices, before it was published!!!

I get questions all the time about writing, editing, publishing, and the like. And with the release of my new book A Good Girl with Bad Habits 2 on yesterday, I thought I would post this week about writing. When people find out that you’re a writer, everybody wants to write a book. My inbox is full of people who have an idea but not a single word written and they get offended when I say the first step to writing a book is actually writing. I write every day in some capacity. I mean, write is a verb.

If you can’t say that you would write whether it ever got published or not. You would write if no one read it if it did get published. You would write if you only made $5 from it. You write for the pleasure of it and the rest would be added perks, then writing may not be the thing for you.

So, in true Joi Miner fashion, I decided to give you a list of reasons why you shouldn’t write a book.

Meet Zelda Wisteria, author of the book 'Leap, and the Net will Appear!'

Reason Number One: Fame

If you think that you are going to be the next Alice Walker, JK Rowling, Eric Jerome Dickey, or Stephen King (Stephen King’s Carrie, yeah, the one that’s a movie now, was rejected 30 times before it was published) and this is the motivation for you writing a book… then don’t. There is little to no notoriety that comes from writing. Your odds of being famous as a writer are almost non-existent. Now, I know you think this is just my opinion because, well, what do I know, right? First of all, less than 1% of books published get into book stores. And although eBooks and self-publishing are the thing to do now, that has led that market to be oversaturated. So, your book is liable to be lost in the current of the thousands of other books that are released daily on Amazon.

From a personal standpoint, I have been networking and building my brand for 16 years. It didn’t happen overnight. And, even now, I am still always on the search for new readers because, no matter how many times people like your social media posts, how many times they comment saying that they support you (which is largely for show), most of my sales are from die-hard fans who have been rockin’ with me since my poetry days, people who have met me in person throughout that time, and strangers. And that’s real. And think about it, there’s no way you’re going to become a best seller if just your friends and community support you. The majority of writers’ readers are strangers (even the psycho obsessed ones who think that they have a relationship with the person).

So, if you’re looking to be the literary equivalent of Beyoncé, ummmm, not really likely to happen.

Oh, and for those who think that it’s the publisher’s job to get you readers… ummmm, nah. Their job is to help you promote but for the most part, the authors do the majority of the promotions. And it’s always been this way.27a5b4bfbd1a26969c9dfd609df3afa2

Reason Number Two: Money

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Look man, let’s do the math. Ok. Say a book is $10.99, production cost may be about $3.99 (and that’s on the low end), marketing let’s say $1.00 a book (again on the low end). That leaves the split between the author and the publisher of the $6 per book left. If you get a great publisher like mine, you may end up with something like a 50/50 or 60/40 split (high end on the publisher’s side). More than likely, though, the split will be more like 80/20. And this is without a literary agent getting their cut. So, you may see anywhere from $1.20 to $3.00 per book. PER BOOK. Now… how much are your royalties if you sell 100 copies? Between $120 to $300. And that’s for a $10.99 book. Imagine one for $5.99 or $.99.

Do you know 100 people that you could guarantee a sale to? Be honest with yourself now, not the ones who say they’ll buy it but never come to events or answer their phones. People who will ACTUALLY give you $10 of their hard earned money for a story that you wrote. And if you do, then are those the only 100 that you know? How will you sell more than that 100?

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Alright, so let’s say you get an advance. Which is trending down by the way. For a first novel, you can expect anywhere from $1,500 to $30,000. But I need you to know that the $30k is usually a competition where there are thousands of others entering as well.

That aside, normally you don’t get an advance unless you’re known. You have to make a name for yourself and show a following. For instance, Zane sold books out of her trunk before she became Zane. And why would they  give you an advance to write a book when there are loads of celebrities that they know could sell copies just because of who they are.

But let’s say you hit the lottery and get an advance. This is a loan which means that this is money that’s taken off after the book is published until it’s been repaid in full. Remember TLC going bankrupt?

What if your book flops? Then what? That’s all the money you get and they will probably not take a chance on you again. Would that be the end of your writing dream?

Reason Number Three: Because It’s So Easy to Write a Book

You do know that most people spend years and years writing their novels, right? Like very few wake up and say, “I’m gonna write a book” and it happens. Granted some people are gifted, but for the majority, writing takes time and effort. It takes study and writes and rewrites. It takes balling up everything that you’ve scribbled onto the page and throwing it into the trash. Hitting the backspace button until there’s nothing but a blank page and a cursor looking back at you. Nights filled with hopelessness and tears and coffee and wine. It takes reading others’ works. Books on writing. Thousands of dollars on writing workshops. Hundreds of hours finding a synonym for vagina that doesn’t sound cheesy.

 

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I remember going to a workshop a few months ago and there was a panel of literary agents that you could submit your first page to. The facilitator read the first page and the literary agents each raised their hands when they would have stopped reading. On the first page. There were about 40 pages that were submitted in a room of over a hundred people. Then the agents told why they would quit reading. The funny thing to me was that you could usually tell whose page was being read because they would get up and storm out once the critique was done. Some did it in the middle of the critique. But, the agents were offering insight into their process. I listened to the critique on my page and took notes so that I could make it stronger. But for those who didn’t take it so well, I think they realized that writing and getting published wasn’t the cakewalk that they thought it would be.

Keep in mind I was one of the youngest people there, so these were people in their late thirties on up acting like this. There’s nothing easy about character and plot development. Nothing effortless about creating engaging dialogue. Again, for most this takes years to get right. So don’t be arrogant and think that writing any story worth reading doesn’t take time and development.

Reason Number Four: Because Your Momma Says You’re a Good Writer

Ummm, this is what mommas are supposed to say. But, unless your mom is a writer, editor, literary agent, or publisher, I wouldn’t take her word as the ruling authority on this. And, honestly, if your mother is any one of these things then they’re probably not gonna blow smoke up your tail. I red mark the hell out of my child’s work.

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Yes, you got good grades in English. Your teachers gave you great marks on your writing assignments. You won a contest during Black History Month or Thanksgiving or Easter. I mean, those are great accomplishments. But I want you to realize that you’re going to be contending with thousands of other essay contest winners and those who got good grades and marks from their teachers. And maybe they went to school for writing afterwards, maybe they studied with award-winning novelists, maybe they have that imaginative edge that gives them a leg up on you.

There has to be more than momma having your essays in a scrapbook as your validation for writing a book. IJS.

Reason Number Five: It’s Trendy

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I have to put on my momma hat for a second. If everyone else was jumping off a cliff, would you jump, too? Your calling may not be writing. Your calling may be visual arts or singing or welding. Just because a pen and paper are for sale at the store, or your Microsoft Word opens when you click it, doesn’t mean this is for you. Hell, I can’t draw a stick man so I won’t be getting my Picasso on.

Just because your friends say, “you should write a book” doesn’t mean that you should actually do it. What sounds funny when you tell the story may not come across as humor on the page. Your life, although it’s interesting to your peers will probably be looked at by strangers like “who are they and why should I give a damn about their life?” No, for real, people will ask this question.

Let’s do the pitch challenge. How would you describe your book, your story, if you met a literary agent or your favorite author in an elevator? You’d have 30 seconds to pitch it. Would you be able to? If not, then you’re not ready to write the book.

Ooh! And back to this, because this is always my favorite thing of ALL time of all the communications I get… If you haven’t sat down and written ANYTHING at all and all you have is an idea in your head… ummm, that’s not a book. That’s an idea in your head.

 

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Everybody wants to be an author nowadays. Like everyone wanted to be a rapper or a basketball player. But, what if I told you that Zora Neale Hurston died in a halfway house and her book, Their Eyes Were Watching God, didn’t become popular until well after her death? What if I told you that you make more in a week at minimum wage than you may make in a year as an author? What if I told you that your book may never see a bookshelf? If I read it and said that your characters aren’t strong enough or your plot is all over the place or the story was boring or it was a slow read? Would you keep writing? Because let me tell you, those reviewers, baby, they come for the damn jugular! They will break your self-esteem down to mist and you have to pick yourself back up again. And then motivate yourself to want to keep going…

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So, dear friends, if any of these are the motivation for you writing a book, put the pen down and push away from the laptop… and come back when you’re willing to do it whether it’s lucrative or not. Because it may not be for many, many years. I did tell you that it took me 16 years to get to this point, right?

Disclaimer: This is in no way an attempt to crush dreams. No dream is easy to pursue and writing is no different.  I just believe in always being honest and letting you know what the deal is. Some people will tell you anything to get your money… I don’t want it, nor do I need it. My goal is to show you the ugly side of the game, so that you don’t get caught with your pants down, ya dig?

So, if after you’ve read this, you can honestly say that you still want to write then…

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Until next time huns,

Love y’all

Joi Collage

Married Couples Be Like: And we stilllll together…

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I was gonna write a blog post about some other shit. I was debating either talking about being “almost famous” or about this being the ten year anniversary of my divorce from my ex-husband, a day I always celebrate because it’s a day of triumph.

But then, last night, something happened. Last night wasn’t any different from any other night in the Henderson household. I dropped him off at work. I picked the girls up from school. I came home, fed them, and went to work on this manuscript. I got emotional about our oldest graduating from middle school and her eighth grade senior pictures. The baby wanted everyone’s attention, every moment, even when I was in the bathroom. I had a new project in the works that I discussed with my expert friends. His friend, who’s more like family, came over to chill after they got off. You know, normal. (Yes, every day I get emotional about something lol.)

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But, something, I don’t know, it clicked. See, lately, I’ve had people ask me how my husband and I make this marriage thing work. I’m an artist. I came from a small, middle-class family. Middle child of five with four siblings, two of which are half-siblings, none of which I’m particularly close with. My parents divorced when I was a teenager. I grew up in one of the most gutter, corrupt cities in the Southeastern United States.

He’s an only child and military brat. So he’s seen the world. He has a huge family, so many I will probably never meet them all. His parents divorced just a few years ago. He’s an artist in the making who hasn’t found his niche. He has OCD. I live in organized chaos. He’s fluent in four languages, English, French, Italian, and Spanish. I’m fluent in English, Ebonics, Asshole, and, now, Johari. Lol. He never wanted a wife and children. I never wanted children but always knew I’d be married. I’m just the marrying type. So much so that, even after a terrible marriage, many failed relationships before and after that marriage, and  a horrible, horrible divorce, I still knew that I wanted to be someone’s forever.still together

And here we are, damn near nine years and two children later, we’re still together. Now, I would never tell anyone that this was a cake walk, because it wasn’t. I was a serial monogamous and he was a newly christened player when we met. I hadn’t been in a relationship that lasted longer than six weeks and he wasn’t trying to be in one at all. But, when he saw me, apparently something about that changed. And, when I got to know him, I knew that, no matter what, I wanted him.

How We Met

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For the longest, I told everyone we met on MySpace. He sent me a friend request. I asked him why he wanted to be my friend. He replied that we had a lot of the same interests and I seemed like someone he wanted to get to know better. It wasn’t until about two years ago that our dear, mutual friend reminded us that he was actually to blame for us meeting. Now, he doesn’t say to blame but I do, and here’s why.

I came to a house party with a girlfriend that our mutual friend was having. We were kicking it. People were drinking, chilling, talking, playing Guitar Hero, you know, regular house party stuff. I sat down next to this skinny lil’ light-skinned dude. Now, that part’s important because my “type” is big, dark-skinned, ruffneck kinda men (and his is thick, light-skinned women). Until we met each other, that is. Now I’m his type and he’s mine.

So anyway, this lil’ dude is all in my mouth and in my conversation. I mean, every word I said, he had something to say, too. Shit irked my nerves to no end. He was drinking, so I figured he’d just had too much hunch punch and was feeling a little too good. And I knew that it never failed that I got into it with someone every time I came over there because they all had slick ass mouths. You know the type, come to Montgomery for college and think that all Montgomerians are slow or some shit. Calling us “locals” like that shit wouldn’t get you beat the hell up. Yeah, those were the kinds of people that always seemed to gravitate to me when I was over there.

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About an hour or so into it, I was fed up. I mean, he was on my last friggin nerve! I told my girl I was ready to go and we left. When we walked out, I told her I never wanted to see his ass again. He aggravated the holy hell out of me. Apparently, he liked me and what he was doing was his attempt at flirting. SMH. He asked our friend who I was until he got tired and told him and he found me on MySpace. I didn’t remember him because I’d pushed him out of my mind, literally, so I accepted the friend request and I gave him my number.

He called one night when I was driving to Columbus, Ga to do a show, which happened to be the anniversary of my grandmother’s passing, and the rest was us-tory. Well, not exactly. We talked over the phone for a while. I ran out of gas a couple times and he was the friend that I called to come to my rescue, opting to buy a gas can the second time because he knew I would do the shit again (see the commitment already happening here?). Lol. Oh yeah, and when I went to his house to kick it with him the first time, I sat on his couch, looked around and then looked at him and said, “you’re gonna be my husband.” He said, “you’re crazy as hell”.

We were friends for six months or so, but he counts that as time we were together because we were inseparable. Ask him how long we’ve been married and he counts from the day we first spoke. Now that’s profound, huh?  Or maybe it’s his way of just remembering one anniversary. Lol.

He was my best friend. He’d hang up in my face when I was being stupid and stay up all night just to talk to me. But he was also the friend that all the guys I dated hated because they knew I was really in love with him. I spent the night at his house so often he would leave the door unlocked, anticipating my coming over.3604-1269302050-9d576bdbe2826caef65dacf0d8498914

And then, Spring Break of 2008, while he was in Louisiana visiting family, he texted me, drunk, at two in the morning because he saw a guy in an Ed Hardy shirt that said, “Love Kills Slowly” and it made him think of me. (Pay attention to that logo because it was an omen.) He called me when he got in and I answered. We talked until sunrise about absolutely nothing. I told him, flat out, “if you wakin me up outta my sleep and shit to talk about nothing, you’re my boyfriend.” He laughed and asked me to be his ol’ lady (I still don’t like that term because I’m four years older than he is and he reminds me every chance he gets).

I gave him two years. A year to propose and a year to marry me. And, well… you see what happened. Lol.

That Voodoo

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The funny thing about our story is that our friends and family knew that we were in love before either one of us would admit it. We changed for one another. Some ways for the better, some ways for the worse. But he let me do things that no one else could do, like smoke black and milds in his house, eat all of his cereal, leave my stuff laying everywhere. My friend called him Barry Bonds because he broke the six-week record with me. Lol. Yeah, my friends are assholes, too. Lol. I went out less. I just wanted to be around him. I started writing love poems again. But they were different. Instead of the “I’m in love with you” kinda poems, or sex poems, I was talking about being one, in life and in thought. We were both hooked.

His family asked if I’d put a root on him because he’d never eaten vegetables or grits or drank tea before he met me. Like ever. Yeah, everyone knew it but us. And, to this day, we still try to fight what we are. It’s crazy.

But, the other night, when I told him that a friend asked how we make it work, we actually had to sit back and think about it. Like, really think about it, because we’d never thought about it before.

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The first thing that we have, and are still working on, is communication. He used to say to me all the time, “Respect my mind, Joi.” I never knew what the hell that meant. But, he was asking me to respect him enough to know and trust that he was able to think and function for himself. Listen to him speak, without interrupting, and think about what he was saying. See, I used to try to change his mind on things. Now I know that you can never change a person’s perspective. You just have to respect it.

Over time, we became fluent in one another’s crazy, and in gender speak. He laughs all the time because, with a wife and two daughters, he’s had to become fluent in woman. And I’ve had to become fluent in man. I have to turn off my emotions and hear what he’s saying, word-for-word, because he means just that. There are no hidden messages. No lines to read between. He really is that simple. Most men are, if you just listen to them.

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We laugh at each other and joke on each other so badly, but we can also have entire conversations without saying a word. I can feel when something is wrong with him whether he’s beside me, in the next room, or in another state. We’re bonded.

Last week, our oldest told me that we look at each other two different ways: like a sixty year old couple who has been through so much and have so much love for each other, and like teenagers. Now that is profound!

That… Kinda Love

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OMG. So we’ve had all kinds of situations in our marriage. I’ve slashed his tires and keyed his car, then turned around and bought him new tires. One time, I keyed two long lines on the hood of his car. He came out and chased me, but your girl was a track star so, yeah. Lol. He called me, steaming mad and told me I only drew the eyes. I coulda at least made it a smiley face. I turned around, came back, and made it a smiley face. He called after he saw it and said, “See, that’s why I ain’t gave up on you yet. You listen. Just to the wrong shit!” That’s that Jazmine Sullivan “Bust Yo Windows” kinda love.

He’s spent twenty days in jail for domestic violence, against me. You know, that Ike and Tina kinda love. (Thank the Universe for anger management classes for him and therapy for me because we both learned to love one another the right way.)

I thought our marriage was over after that, until he got hurt behind some bullshit his so-called friends did to him and I was ready to air their house out. I knew if I was willing to catch bodies behind him, I wasn’t done. That there’s that Bonnie and Clyde kinda love.

Now, we’re on some power couple type moves. He does my graphics, works my shows, helps me develop my ideas, keeps me from catching a case, tag teams the children with me, we’re working on buying a house. I cheer him on, I’m his administrator, pull him out of his shell, show him that he’s the sun and I’m just reflecting his greatness. That El Hajj Malik and Betty Shabazz, Jay-Z and Beyoncé, Musiq SoulChild “You and Me Against the World” kinda love.
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Now, we’ve got more skeletons in our closet than a haunted house on my B|Earth Day (I was born on Halloween, by the way, lol). Infidelity, fears, lies, damaged trust, hurtful words that settled just beneath the skin and rise up, irritating us from time to time. We’ve been separated five times in almost nine years, the last one resulting in the move up here to Birmingham. (The best move our family has made to date.) Some of his relatives don’t care for me. Some of mine don’t care for him. But who gives a shit.

If it makes him happy, even if I don’t get it, I’m with it because I trust him and vice versa. That… kinda love.

The Curse Word

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In 2014, my husband declared the word “Divorce” a curse word and banned it from our house. There’s to be no talk about it, hinting at it, nothing. See, I threw that word around as a threat in arguments. I slapped him in the face with it. But I never followed through with it. So he told me I wasn’t allowed to use it anymore and neither would he. Even now, writing about it, I keep looking over the top of my laptop at his back like I’m gonna be in trouble. Real Talk.

But that was one of the greatest things that he could have done for our relationship. We were always loyal, even when the dumb shit was going on. And, after that declaration, we stuck. We started working together because we knew we were it. We held on for dear life and, even in the peaks and valleys of this marriage and life, we’re ok because we have each other. And that knowledge, that comfort in knowing that you aren’t alone in all of this, gives us peace.

 

I’ll Let You Live To Tell It

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Now, I’m not gonna lie and say we don’t fight. Man, some nights he gets a death stare that would leave Darth Vader shaking in his boots. And he’s soft spoken, so when he raises his voice, it’s like the whole world comes to a halt. But, we yell. We cry. We don’t speak to one another for days. He sleeps in another room. But, we always come back to one another. We always come back together. Even if one of us leaves the house, the other knows that they’re coming back. We always come home.

And, we’ve learned to pick our battles. There are some things that just aren’t worth arguing about. Some things about one another, that will forever rub the us the wrong way, and will never change. And we’re ok with that.

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So, when I asked him how we make it work the other night, we came to this conclusion. Every day, one day at a time, we choose not to kill each other. That’s all we’ve got. Lol. We decide, “I’m gonna let you live to see another day.” And then we lay down and go to sleep, because tomorrow, we’re still gonna be here. We’re still gonna be married. Our children are still gonna salt our peppered hair. We still have bills and dreams and goals. And we know if we weren’t together, we’d be sad because we didn’t get to share our accomplishments, our stories, our trials and triumphs, with our best friend. We’re the pint-sized duo. And that’s all there is to it.

‘Til next time, babes. Love like there’s no tomorrow.

Love y’all! Us…

A Rose Among Thorns: A Married Mom with Boys Survival Guide

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“I know I am going to have a great day, if when I sit down on my toilet, the seat is dry.”-Renee Chaffin Smith

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My Guest Blogger today, Renee Chaffin Smith, is one of the most graceful women I know. She’s so feminine and so soft and gentile. She’s one of those women I feel should have daughters because she can teach them poise and femininity. Unlike myself, a tomboy in heels, who thinks that burping the alphabet is the dopest thing in the world. Alas, Renee has been blessed with… ALL BOYS. And I’m the one with all girls. Lol. I asked Renee how she deals with having a husband and three sons. Her response was epic!! Lol. My poor, dear friend is a rose among thorns.

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So, I am a married mother of three boys.  My boys are Landyn (5) Daniel (5) and Lennon (16 months). No Landyn and Daniel are not twins (well, we call them twins by marriage), but are in fact stepbrothers.

I have been asked to create a survival list for women who are hopelessly outnumbered… so…here it goes.

Prepare yourself. Body functions will be exploited, laughed at, talked about over breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 

Yes, you heard right. Boys find all things funny, and farts and burps are no exception. They will talk about who had the largest and loudest ones for a full episode of Ninja Turtles.

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L to R: Landyn, Lennon, and Daniel 

Ever heard of a woman cave?

See, usually it’s a man who has to carve out space for himself. A den or living area where he can go and do “man things”. You know watch sports, drink, scratch… well when you are the one outnumbered by the males in your home, you must find a sacred space for yourself. My space is usually my room (after the kids are asleep). I get the chance to lay around, read, pray, write. That time and space keeps me sane. Also, the space is not very girly at all, since the hubby won’t sleep in a space full of lace and frills. So… basic color scheme it is…

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Mr. and Mrs. Smith

Learn to like, love, and live sports

So, when I grew up I watched sports with my dad every weekend, but we didn’t actually have to go to the arenas. We sat comfortably on the couch, yelled at the screen, and went about our business. When you are the mother of three boys… guess what your weekends are filled with? Sports! And not the “oh let’s sit on the couch and cheer for (insert team here)”… no. I’m talking about the get in the car, lug all the equipment, did-you-bring-snacks-because-it’s-your-turn-to-do-so, travel 30 minutes away to watch kids scramble around a field and yell for 45 minutes at a kid who wants to kick dirt, type of day. Yes, this is your life. You will learn to love it… or at least learn that when your kid finally kicks the ball in the goal you will be the loudest one on the field. And it will prove that your snack day is magic for your kids. You will also have to watch, listen, and dissect each game, because your kid has to know if you recorded every single minute of play.

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The Gang: Husband LaDarren and Sons Daniel, Lennon, and Landyn

Wash, dry, fold… Wash, dry, fold

Laundry. You will wash a boatload of clothes each week. With sports, your husband’s need to workout every day (is that normal) and just every day wear, you will wash about 85 loads of laundry a week. I kid, I kid…just about 20 loads a week should do! So… just learn to love the scent of dryer sheets.

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Daniel and Landyn, the Marriage Twins

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If you’re like me… you’ll also have to find a way to balance biological kids and your stepkid. In my house, we dislike the term step. My “step” son is just my son. If you ask anyone I always say I have three kids, because… well, I do. I lucked out, because I didn’t have to experience any morning sickness or stretch marks. But I did have to do the who-can-I-be-in-his-life-without-stepping-on-biological-mom’s-toes dance. To survive being the only female in the house, you must also learn how to navigate working with another woman, who influences your other child as well.

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Daniel and Lennon

Look before you sit

The toilet is not your friend when you are a mother with boys. The seat might be left up, the seat might be wet… just look. I can’t tell you how many times I should’ve known better and looked before I sat down. I must share these words of wisdom with you. Please… look before you sit down. It will save you!

In all seriousness, I absolutely love being a mom of all boys. They have taught me to be brave, to love hard, to not let fear stop me. They run me ragged and inspire me. They make me face myself and know that they are watching me. And they might choose a woman just like me… will that make me happy or cringe?

Life is never boring for me and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Renee Chaffin Smith

Renee has a blog and Facebook Fanpage that offers inspiration to women around the globe called H.E.R., which is an acronym for Helping Each other Rise. It is a positive space for women to encourage, empower and educate one another. There is power when women are allowed to dream in a safe space. She works in the Non-profit sector and is an amazing woman within the community. On top of being wife, mother, superwoman for the community, this beautiful woman has the nerve to be beautiful, empowering, and natural. (She makes me sick lol.)

Thank you so much boo, for guest blogging and sharing your story. I’m sure there are so many who can relate and appreciate this survival guide.

Until next time, my dears…

Look before you sit! Lol.

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Two Hot Mommas

 

The Trump Card: Why Electing Donald Trump Could Eradicate White Privilege

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Donald Trump has got to be one of the most unapologetically racist idiots of the 21st century. Although he won’t get my vote, I think that, and just go with me here, if he’s elected, it may not be such a bad thing. I know, I know, you wanna put your hand up to my forehead and have me checked into a psych ward. But, let’s be real.

Trump may be making dumb ass comments on a regular basis. He may have what my husband calls diarrhea of the mouth, but he’s honest. And that’s something that you don’t see often. Johari says all the time, “I can respect a racist because I know where he stands.” I can’t agree more. You know that they don’t like you so you know how to deal with them. But those snakes in the grass, those people that smile in your face while stabbing you in the back (all of us have experienced one, or a few, of them), those are the ones you have to watch out for. *cough cough* Hillary…

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Stop making that face lol

I can honestly say that, if Donald Trump is elected, he’ll eradicate white privilege singlehandedly. Here’s why.

  • Donald Trump answers to no one. He’s his own man and has his own money, so he can’t be bought with election donations.
    • David Banner pointed out that one thing that matters to white people is money. If they can’t buy you or control you with it, then they feel lost. Trump has handicapped the entire foundation of the US political election because they can’t just throw money at him. And when you show white people that you don’t need their money… well, then you become a problem.12135326_1071396726218242_1418629393_n
  • He doesn’t like people of color. He’s said it. It pisses us off. But we know it.
    • Let’s be honest, we’re already impoverished. We’ve been sold promises, fed lies, and hang onto faith and hope like Catholic mothers do rosary beads. I seriously don’t think we’re his concern. I mean, there’s nothing to benefit him from putting us on a boat or closing the borders. Again, he’s a businessman, so he knows that we’re the wheels that keep this country turning. 75fa80dc5e5453bffca44722ee0400b8
  • He can throw the white privilege into the faces of all of those who pretend that it doesn’t exist (just like they do racism).
    • Now this is the point I’m getting to. All of the total disregard for the other man. All of the not having to answer for their wrongdoing. All of the keeping their money and being willing to give their scraps to dogs before they give them to people of color. And… and this is my favorite part… all of the comments, slurs, and plans that they make within the walls of their private clubs, saunas, etc., will slap them, like a pimp’s backhand, across their faces.
    • Have you realized that rich whites are lobbying against Trump harder than people of color? Have you ever considered why? He’s not bringing his ass to the hood. He’s gonna walk into their Country Clubs, onto their golf courses, and sit in their conference rooms and at their dinner tables. And there won’t be shit they can do about it. He’s gonna look at this Country as a business and all businesses want to be in the black. And they may be the route he takes to get it there. They’re protecting their pockets.

See, it’s not that Trump is rich that’s the problem. It’s not that his wife is a trophy wife (or his third marriage) or his children who are privileged in their own right. That mole rat that’s sitting on top of his head isn’t even the problem. The problem is that Trump has broken the Code. He’s holding up a mirror to the 1% in America. He’s showing how these fine, upstanding, successful white men actually act, think, speak, and feel when nobody’s looking. Except, he doesn’t give a damn that we’re looking and that makes him more dangerous to them than it does to us.

 

People of color have been making something from nothing since our ancestors were dragged to this damn Country. We can survive the Trumpocalypse. We don’t need underground shelters and guns to do so, either. All we need is what’s been ingrained in our DNA for centuries: the ability to be resilient. The ability to roll with the punches that we never stopped taking. The ability to tend the fields, hunt, and feed our children. Hell, they’re the ones who don’t know how to do that. We tended their shit and fed their children, remember?

And, if we can ride out a Trump Presidency, or two, (which shouldn’t be too difficult because we survived Bush’s ass), these privileged white people may actually learn some humility. Maybe they’ll even create a vaccine and find a cure for Affluenza.

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Call it a conspiracy theory, or call it an astute observation from one of your favorite poetic activists. Lol. Either way, I hope this made you think. I mean, hell, for all we know, he could just be a friggin’ political genius and all of this is a tactic. Who knows. But he’s ruffling plenty of damn feathers, whatever his end game is.

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Now again, this is in no way a ploy to get you to vote for Trump… He ain’t getting my vote. Take what you want from it… but hell, with the state that the US is in right now… well, there’s no point in repeating myself.Forrest Gump

Until next time… stay strategizing! MUAH!

Love y’all!

Joi

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Dream Chaser, John Brown: Model. Actor. Author.

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Dream Chaser, John Brown: Model. Actor. Author.
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Meet John Brown

I have to say, I have the DOPEST friends EVER!

In my life, I’ve had my share of people who come and go. But some people just stick! Three years ago, I met this very, very handsome young gentleman who came and performed poetry at the House of Ambiance in Montgomery. We all went out to IHOP afterwards, I made him blush with my filterlessness, and we’ve been STUCK ever since.

Some people you don’t see all the time. You don’t talk to them daily. And with my friends, it’s usually because we’re just so damn busy. John is an actor. He’s a producer and director. He’s a model. He builds furniture. He’s a spoken word artist. And now, he’s an AUTHOR! His book, Availeth Much, just released this past Sunday on Mother’s Day.

I want to introduce you to my dear friend, John Brown, a true dream chaser!

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The Model. The Actor. The Author.

I know the ladies love them some John. But I want them to get to know the man and friend that I’ve grown to love and respect. So tell me, who is John Brown? What motivates you to do what you do? Introduce yourself to the readers.

Well again, my name is John Brown. I’m from a small town in South Georgia called Donalsonville. To say the least, I think the humbling country town that I am from set the tone for what motivates me. It had to be the 3 traffic lights we had that showed me the box that the city was placing me in. Every day I would travel from out of town, no matter where I was coming from, and I saw those lights from one street. I knew there was more beyond those lights.

Beyond the humor, the simplicity of this also showed me that, simplicity could make a huge impact on the direction that you take in life. Three lights directed an entire town of people and every day they made it to their destinations. I use this to motivate me. To let me know that there are a lot of directions that I will take over the course of my life, but all I need to do is use the simplicity of those lights to navigate me to the other side, where uncertain success awaits.

You’re a handsome man that wears many hats. Modeling, spoken word (how we met), acting, directing and producing, and now you’re an author. What’s your favorite hat to wear and why?

I’d say of all of the many hats I wear, I like being an author! Honestly Joi, I referred to your novel “Vices” for a few pointers over the course of completing my manuscript. The choice of becoming an author took my mind to a whole different level of creation. Writing film scripts felt something like writing the book, but never have I felt the intimacy of me the author and the characters that I made come to life.

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Tell us the motivation behind your book. What made you write it? Who do you plan to reach with it?

The motivation behind my book, “Availeth Much” actually came from a stage play that I had the privilege of acting and co-producing some years back entitled, “The Power of a Praying Woman”. I was actually in the process of writing a different novel, when one day it hit me that creating a story like the stage play would actually help me personally. I felt conviction to write it and I did.

As my spirit led me to write it, I felt that God really led me the entire way. I plan to reach people of all walks of life, especially those whose faith leads them the most and those who are looking for that boost to get out of that abusive relationship. It teaches you the importance of meditating daily and trusting that the Most High will get you through. I also have something special for men in this book.

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What do you do to get creatively centered?

To get creatively centered, I drive. I get in my car and I make my way to country roads where there is absolutely nothing to interrupt me. No radio or anything. I just soak up the clean air and I come back refreshed.

If you had any advice for those who are considering chasing their dreams, what would it be?

My advice to anyone going after that dream is to never let anyone stand in the way of a dream or vision that you have. Never let anyone place their hands on your vision or dream. The dream and vision was given to you! In the Good book it simply states, “Write the vision and make it plain.” You take YOUR vision and YOUR dream and make it plain enough for YOU because no one else but YOU will ever understand your radical dream of becoming a star athlete, actor, doctor, or a lawyer.

NEVER stop until you have it in your hands. It’s not until you can physically touch it that you can say it’s safe to slow down on your goals. Find your why and you find your success!

I have to say, reading his interview questions made me blush, which is almost impossible to do. You never know the impact that you make on a person, so to see that he referred to my first novel when writing his own touched my SOUL!

Availeth Much is available NOW. $13+ $2 shipping through PayPal. Click the link and support the arts!

Check out John (and other awesome male poets) who performed at and recorded an All-Male Spoken Word event that my company, Poetic Advisory, LLC, hosted back in April 2013 (click link to view video and don’t forget to subscribe to his channel).

Until next time, keep chasing your dreams!

Love y’all!

Joi

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Dear Momma… I kinda, sorta get it, almost a little bit…

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Dear Momma… I kinda, sorta get it, almost a little bit…

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My mother and I have never gotten along. I didn’t just develop this mouth in adulthood, so you can imagine being the mother of a child that’s as outspoken and unapologetic as I am. Hell, I’m raising two of them right now. I won’t say that I was an easy child. I mean, in reality, what child is? I was spoiled, selfish, mean, inconsiderate, and, well, the list goes on and on. Now, my mother wasn’t a saint in it all, but I will say that, at almost 35, with a husband and two children of my own, I know her intentions were good.

Let me give you an example of what my mother and I have been through. Johari and I were trying to move to Louisiana. She kidnapped my oldest daughter for 7 days and helped my ex-husband, yeah, the one you read about who abused me… him… begin custody proceedings. That was a year and 4 months of hell. I was pregnant with Phoenix through the bulk of it. She even acquired her own attorney and tried to get custody herself when she saw that the odds weren’t in my ex’s favor.

Now, before you get angry, I need you to understand that this is a woman who had been hurt on more than one occasion and wanted to give her granddaughter the best of everything. Everything that she felt she didn’t give me in my childhood. Yeah, the thinking was warped. I know that. But my mom’s way of thinking is not for me, or anyone else, to decipher. Just like my thought process isn’t something that can be broken down by anyone. Especially when it comes to my children.

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I will say that my parenting style is completely different from my mom’s and we’ve had incidents concerning my children that had me beyond livid. But… and I say this to her and the rest of the world, I love the woman my mother is. See, now that I’ve forgiven her for her flawed thinking and actions… Now that I’ve gotten beyond the hurt that was caused, I know that my mother is human. I mean, think about it. Most of us think that our mothers are superheroes and, some of the things that I’ve seen her do for us and endure at the hands of the world and those that she loved, show me that sometimes the weight of the world can be too much to bear.

My mother is the original go-getter. I got my work ethic from her. I got my willingness to walk through the pits of hell for others from her. I am also learning, now that I’m cutting people off and realizing that this world can be such a lonely one at times, that being alone, in a place of hurt and despair, can make you crack a little.

I have a poem called Fear of Becoming Our Mothers. It talks about how, in our youth, we want to be so different from the women who birthed us. We want to blaze our own paths and be individuals. But, eventually, we end up finding ourselves at our mother’s doorstep at some point in life.

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My mom is 64 years old, with 3 children that are now all grown, and has retired 3 times (I guess once for each of us). Two of us have children of our own so she has 6 grandchildren. She’s in the house that we grew up in with her dog Achilles. She’s in school for Real Estate. Hell, at 34 I wouldn’t be brave enough to try that. She has rental properties, has worked 2 jobs to keep a roof over our heads, and was pissed the hell off when I didn’t graduate high school, even though I got my GED. She made sure we spoke proper grammar, telling us that no one should be able to tell anything about us from talking to us on the phone. I remember being told by my friends growing up that I sounded white on the phone. She taught us to assimilate because, I mean come on, she grew up in the 50’s and 60’s and even now it’s a white man’s world.

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I cut my hair off and went natural in 2001, before it was cool, and she shook her head because she knew that it was gonna cause hell for me. And it did. And when I come to her house with the brightly colored afro, she doesn’t even ask questions anymore. She’s super religious. So my being Agnostic is insanity to her. She gives my children the holidays that they don’t get from us. So, when I say that my mom and I are like oil and water, I mean that shit.

But she and I have been rebuilding our relationship. She gives me advice. Some of it I listen to, some I don’t. But what’s important is that I listen to some of it. She asked me how to wrap her hair and tells people about my accomplishments, even though she once didn’t think that I could make money writing and editing. There are some things that I want to say to her and I don’t know how. But, I chose to take this opportunity to write her a letter to tell her how I feel about her and to thank her for being the best mother she knew how to be, because this motherhood shit doesn’t come with an instruction manual.

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Dear Momma,

I want to go on record and say that I don’t get it. I mean, there are questions that I think I’ll take to my grave about my childhood.

But I will say that I know that you did the best that you could. I know that you love me and my children and, now that I have adopted your bossy, “don’t take no for an answer” attitude, I see that you were just being you. And I love it. I learned to be a woman watching you. I learned to love and loathe watching you. I learned that you can move mountains with just a chuckle from watching you. You broke barriers. You made people love you even when they wanted to hate you. You wore pain and disappointment on your face, but still pushed through. You made sure that your children looked A1 even if you had on mismatched shoes.

You believed in unicorns and, when they said they were extinct, you gave birth to one. ME. And what I thought was hatred, malice, ill-intent, was actually the Universe using you to prepare me for this cruel ass world we live in. See, I’m strong because of you. I’m tenacious because of you. I’m resilient because of you. I’m relentless because of you.

The great thing about the story of life is that you can edit out the ugly parts. And all I want to remember about you is the good. The trips. The cookie sales. The parades. The soccer games. When you would cheer me on. The times you came to my rescue. The times you didn’t give me a choice but to go beyond what I thought I was capable of.  All I want to remember is you coming to my high school and, even though you didn’t think anything would come of my writing at the time, telling my teacher and principal that they were not going to suspend me because I really was that good. Side note: My 12th grade Creative Writing teacher tried to get me suspended because she said the writing in my Final Project was too good to have been written by a 12th Grader. She thought I’d plagiarized it and confiscated the quote books and poetry books that I read all the time for weeks trying to find the original authors. I dedicated my first poetry book to her, by the way lol.

I refuse to think about the motivation behind some of the things we’ve been through. But I will say that, being divorced and having a child who looks and acts a lot like the man who hurt me, I get it. And I’m sorry. I’m sorry for all the hurt that came before me and all the hurt I caused. A few weeks ago, you hugged Johari, a man you never liked, and thanked him for taking care of your girls. You have no idea what that meant to me. To him.

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You are a testament to people being able to change for the better and that gives me the hope to keep growing and being better. So, although I could spend my time chronicling the horror stories of my youth (which will always be one-sided because I don’t have the golden ticket to your mind and would probably get lost in there if I did), I would rather say thank you. Thank you for being you. Thank you for being here. Thank you for having me. I will be eternally grateful for this chance at life that you gave me.

I may not be going about it how you want me to, I just want you to know that you have had, and will continue to have, a huge amount of influence on how it goes. I mean, some days, I open my mouth and almost faint because I sound just like… guess who.

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I love you, momma. Today. Tomorrow. Always.

Your middle child,

Jamesha Joi Toney Miner Henderson

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I was a part of the Listen to Your Mother Birmingham show last week and heard a story by Angela Gilmore to her mother Minnie who had passed. It confirmed for me that life’s too short to harp on nonsense and you only get one mother. Once she’s gone, you can’t get her back. You can’t call her for advice or pop in for a visit. You can’t go home and just crawl into bed with her. You can’t roll your eyes at her trying to tell you things you already think you know. So, if you’re angry with your mother. Let it go. Tell her you love her. Tell her thank you. Because without her, there’d be no you.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mothers out there. I love you.

‘Til next time,

Joi

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