Be My Guest

dance1 A special treat today dear readers. Ms. Clover Hope, who blessed us with an awesome guest blog back in June, is back! This time, she's here to impart wisdom on the rewriting process. I've said it before and I'll say it til I'm in the blue face: Clover is nice with the words. I'm honored and excited that she's agreed to giving us a peek into her methodology. Clover recently wrote a piece for XXL magazine on the phenomena of southern dance music. (Do the Hally Berry!) Today, she guides us through her process, from rough draft to published piece. Enjoy!!

anonymous Be My Guest: Luvvie Luvvie makes me laugh. Out loud. Not the fake LOL that you just type out without really smiling. I mean real guffaws that fly out of my mouth as I'm reading her witty comments on Twitter, her own blog and even in the comments section of my own blog.  I love her sharp-tongued wit and her use of slang is hilarious. A few months ago, after a particularly side-splitting exchange on Twitter, (subject: Stevie Wonder's hairline), I began to wonder. Who is this chick? I know she lives in Chicago. I know she's funny as hell. But who IS she? On her blog and on Twitter, she shares very little personal information about herself. Her avatar is an illustration. I'm always curious about the way people present themselves online. When I first started blogging all those years ago, (read: six months), I shared a lot about my personal life. Maybe too much. I've reigned it in a bit. But you can still read every post here and get a good sense of who I am and what makes me tick. (Scary!) Luvvie doesn't share. Anything. Ever. I asked her to explain why. And she has. Good stuff here. Enjoy. __________________________________________________________________

broken-heart-divorce Last week, I got an interesting email in my inbox. Tanisha, a dear reader of this blog, sent along something she'd written, just for herself. It's the kind of therapeutic writing you do to get through a difficult moment. It was something personal, raw and private. When she read my post about freaking out over tree fungus, she thought about how writing makes us brave. And she shared her essay with me. For no other reason except that it needed to be shared. And I asked her to share it with us. For no other reason except that it needs to be shared. Enjoy.

writer-1 I edit magazine articles on a freelance basis and often find myself scouring the 'net at the last minute, looking for the perfect writer for a particular article. Two years ago, my Google searching led me to Felicia Pride. There is no better feeling than connecting with a writer who is professional, punctual, timely and just on it. When an editor crosses paths with a writers who always delivers, it's a pure joy. In addition to editing her story, I've kept my eye on Felicia's book hustle for years. This girl works. When it's time for me to market my novel, I'll definitely be retracing her steps. I reached out to her for a guest blog. And I had something specific I wanted her to tell me. When did she really consider herself a writer? So many of us collect clips for years but still choke on that lofty word. Felicia has an awesome story of the moment she finally stood up straight, looked a legend in the eye, and spoke her truth. Enjoy.

[caption id="attachment_2876" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Heather Faison's favorite VIBE cover: "This cover came out around the time I rededicated my life to God. The irony of him holding a white dove with the sullied cityline in the background was striking artistically. And the headline is a rhetorical 'no'. You can almost hear the editors chuckling at the thought""]Heather Faison's favorite VIBE cover: "This cover came out around the time I rededicated my life to God. The irony of him holding a white dove with the sullied cityline in the background was striking artistically. And the headline is a rhetorical 'no'. You can almost hear the editors chuckling at the thought"[/caption] 8:30 this  morning. I'm speeding up the Parkway, on my way to the Apple store to get my computer fixed. My Blackberry pings. I check it, knowing I shouldn't cause I'm driving. It's an email from Heather Faison, a writer and dear reader of this blog. I read the first two lines of what she wrote and I was confused. It was a reflection on the end of Vibe. But she was writing like she worked there. As far as I knew, she hadn't. One eye on the parkway. One eye on my Blackberry. Two paragraphs in. I understood. And I put my Blackberry on the seat of my car and cried. I feel the loss of Vibe in a certain way. But I did it. I ran through the halls. I wrote a few cover stories. I looked up at the mountain in awe and scaled it. Too many writers like Heather won't have the chance to make a literary dream come true.

prison

This week, I scoured the streets of Newark to find a guest blogger. Okay. I didn't really. It was totally staged. Ha. I've known this kid since he was 14 years old. He was my student at Clifford Scott High School, (straight A's. But a smart mouth.) Shydel James has worked as my personal and research assistant for three years. For a decade, I've encouraged him to write--something he has a natural ability to do. He resisted. Went into acting instead. Which was cool. But I know a writer. And I know it's his destiny. After years of transcribing my interviews, dealing with publicists and running my literary life, he began dipping his toe into the written word. And now, I want him to dive in. Shydel is my heart. But as close as we are, I knew nothing about this story until last week when he pitched it to me. I am so proud to have him as a guest blogger. On Father's Day, we ran a very sweet roundup of fathers who put in work and make their children proud. Shydel has no such story. It's a common story, alas. And one that I hope will provoke discussion. Enjoy.

[caption id="attachment_2681" align="alignnone" width="450" caption="A supporter of defeated presidential candidate Mousavi is beaten by government security men as fellow supporters come to his aid during riots in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, June 14, 2009. (AP Photo) #"]A supporter of defeated presidential candidate Mousavi is beaten by government security men as fellow supporters come to his aid during riots in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, June 14, 2009. (AP Photo) #[/caption]
Clover is actually working on a really dope series of guest blogs. She's going to highlight a story she wrote for XXL and show the entire process from writer's draft to publication. But while we hash that out--she's got something to say about how Twitter is impacting both political protests and journalism. It's timely and thought provoking. And I urge you to check it.

[caption id="attachment_2585" align="alignnone" width="400" caption="Watch it, sucka!"]Watch it, sucka![/caption] When I asked Kim for some guest blog ideas, she sent me several. And they were all awesome. But the Angry Black Woman Syndrome particularly caught my eye. There's long been a stereotype, (based in truth?) that Black women are more difficult than others. Is this fact? Fiction? Somewhere in between? Kim thought she was on one side of the debate. Her husband thought differently. Good stuff here. Check it:

[caption id="attachment_2528" align="alignnone" width="450" caption="That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet -William Shakespeare "Romeo and Juliet""]romeo&juliet_6_lg[/caption] Go ahead and admit it. You looked at the name of my guest blogger and said, Sap-what? Her name is Saptosa. And for years, she's had to deal with people cocking their head to the side, scrunching up their eyebrows and saying, "What kind of name is that?" The idea for this particular column came about when Saptosa submitted photos of her family for my Mother's Day column. The pictures were so rich and beautiful. I asked her to send me the names of her parents and siblings. And her dad's name is Newsville. Newsville!! A man named Newsville names his daughter Saptosa? I immediately asked Ms. Foster to tell us how she got such an unusual name. She agreed. And her story is awesome. Enjoy...