Men, I Am Not Your Life Raft

titanic 4

Dealing with a man I’ve been seeing for nearly a year (a long distance friends with benefits relationship, to be exact), I’ve learned something vitally important about myself and the men I attract.

Hi, my name is Twyla and I attract damaged, broken men with a U-Haul’s worth of baggage. And I let them in because I like to fix people.

I have a healing and nurturing spirit and I recognize wounded people, and I always want to help them. Unfortunately for me, these people (men in particular), like to suck the life force out of me in the process.

My first love was a troubled child. We’ll call him Chuck. We met in college. Well, I was in college. Chuck was pretending he was in college. His father didn’t want anything to do with him and his mother had remarried and had two other boys. So Chuck felt left out. He rebelled and became a problem child. His mom, fed up, kicked him out. He came down to SIU, I believe, in the hopes of going to college. He ended up living in a homeless shelter. They let him live there rent free and paid him small wages in exchange for working there. This is when I met him.

He was attractive and seemed at least relatively sweet. But what I didn’t realize at the time was that he was looking for someone, anyone to love him. To show him that he mattered. I have no problem being that person but don’t shit on me in the process.

Don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t that terrible to me at first. Chuck cooked for me, bought me nice things when he could afford it (illegally at times, I realized later), and he was very romantic. But in the end, he ended up stealing from me to get cash and then broke up with me when I pressed him about it.

He told me years later, that after hitting rock bottom, he got his life together and started a business that began with me (I had a Mac computer he loved and learned how to use and started a company that taught people how to use them), got married and had kids, and then eventually got some really good paying job at a great company.

The next guy I loved, we shall call him Dwight, was damaged physically and emotionally. He had a pronounced limp from a terrible mishap when he was a teen, and a hole in his throat with a gravelly voice to go along with it from needing a tracheotomy when he was born prematurely. He was also broken from a recent breakup.

I fell for the bait. Hook, line, and sinker. I picked him like a damn stray roaming around the street. And he walked all over me for 5 years. Of course, I let him for various reasons, but mainly because I was in love with his potential, not the actual man.

After I broke up with Dwight and moved across the country to get away from our toxic back and forth relationship (the best decision I ever made. There’s nothing wrong with running sometimes), leaving my dog and half of my belongings, he found someone and proposed to her after about a year. And he used my dog to propose. Yet he strung me along for 5 years with the promise of marriage.

With these first two guys, I was a total lid loosener. I read somewhere once that there are two kinds of women. Lid looseners, those who loosen the lid. And lid openers, those who come along after the loosener and pops the lid right open. Basically, the women to heal the man, making him better for the next woman who doesn’t have to do jack but enjoy the man he now is.

Now, this new guy that we will call Mark, is having troubles with an ex. I can’t give details in case either party sees this post, but let’s just say it’s not pretty. He wants to move to a new place, but can’t really afford it. He asked me to move back to California to move in with him, but I refused. Mark’s not ready. He’s still broken from his relationship and wants to use me as his therapist. His life raft to keep him afloat.

When I refused to bend to his will, he decided to go on a date with another woman while he was on a work trip in another country. He proceeded to tell me about it. This I actually don’t care that much about because we’re not in a serious relationship. But he told me in one breath that he missed her and in the next, he asked to see me so I can make him feel better. Of course, I snapped. But my epiphany also hit me like a ton of bricks.

I’m a magnet for wounded and broken men. And I am so grateful to him for helping me realize this. Of course, the minute I did, I was so turned off by him that it was a damn relief. I have a healing and nurturing spirit, but that doesn’t mean I’m here to be shit on or pulled down into the abyss with you. I’m not loosening one more damn lid for anyone else!

Men (and women for that matter), please fix your own shit before you move on to the next person. It is not your next lover, girlfriend/boyfriend, or spouse’s job to fix your damaged behind. Stay single until you figure your shit out.

While learning this about myself and those that I attract, I realized that there are two types of men. I’m going to use the movie Titanic as an analogy to preface my point. After the ship finally sank, Rose and Jack first found themselves in the fridged water and everyone was splashing around frantically. The one guy, in a panic to save his own life used Rose as a life raft. He pushed her under the water in order to try to stay afloat. Meanwhile, Jack was searching for her in the water and when he found her, smashed that dudes face in and then proceeded to let Rose get on the wooden door while he froze to death in the water. There will be that guy who will bring all of his issues and baggage to throw onto you in the hopes of saving himself while he saps you of your energy and drowns you. And then you’ll have that guy who will uplift you, who will try to save you above all else. Even him.

Now, I personally think Jack should’ve found a way to get on the door to save them both. That would be a third type of man. The type of man I want. The man who won’t drag me down, but also won’t let me walk all over him. The man who is strong and capable, with minimal and/or controlled baggage (because let’s get real, at this age [38], any man I meet is going to have some kind of baggage just like I do). Someone who will uplift me when I need it and who let me uplift him when he needs it.

In a word… Equal.

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No Room for CP Time!

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The Academy Awards in early 2016 was ripped a new one for how white it was. The only person of color who was up for any awards (that I know of) was the Hispanic director, Alejandro Inarritu, of The Revenant. The following months from 2016 to 2017 was like Hollywood heard us and the options of quality movies and their resulting nominations and wins for black films (Hidden Figures, Fences, Moonlight, Loving) during the Oscars let us know that we were heard. This is fantastic.

I’m a part of the Romance Novel community, specifically the Interracial Romance community, celebrating Black women finding love in all shades. We talk all the time about wanting to see more examples in the media (film and television) of Black women finding love. A lot of us African American female authors dream of having our books turned into movies or TV shows. Now, I know that this community is a small corner of the world, my world. But I’m assuming that there are a lot of Black women who agree with us. If the success of Scandal and How to get Away with Murder is any indication. So I’m also sure that a lot of the lack of support for certain things is common throughout the community as well.

Everything 1

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog post reviewing, well more like gushing over the movie Everything, Everything. And if you think I raved here, I really displayed my obsession on Facebook. I literally saw the movie FOUR times! One, because I loved it just that much. Two, because I noticed the lack of support people were giving it in my corner of the world. I even checked how it did at the box office the first weekend and it landed in the 4th or 5th spot, which was pretty good for such a small film up against Guardians of the Galaxy and other blockbusters. But it still wasn’t good enough. Because I know that the Black dollar is a force to be reckoned with. Everyone on social media was like, “Yeah, it looks good. I’ll have to go see it soon.” And that turned into nothing. Then during a conversation, yesterday in a Facebook group dedicated to authors who write Interracial romance with a focus on Black heroines specifically and their fans, someone brought up the movie and everyone was like “Oh yeah, I need to go see that.” WHAT?!?! It’s been over a month since the movie came out and more than likely gone from most theaters and you waited until the 11th hour to go see it? Movies featuring Black girls and women falling in love and being loved and adored doesn’t have any room for CP time (Color people time, for those who don’t know. Meaning always late). When they are offered, we are obligated to see it immediately and give it ALL the love we can. Hollywood needs to know that these stories can make money and that there is interest there. And for the very women who want their stories of Black women love to be turned into movies, their lack of support for this amazing film was disappointing.

black support

And that goes for The Bachelorette too. People have been complaining for decades to have a Bachelor or Bachelorette of color. They finally get one and I hear people complaining about how it’s being done. Seriously?!?! Who the f*ck cares?! Are we not paying attention to the fact that a Black woman…a DARK-skinned Black woman is surrounded by gorgeous men of all races and being adored and loved on??? That sh*t is beautiful and something I’ve been waiting for for years. Screw the details. It’s a reality show and they want ratings. So they’re going to do things that are a bit shady. The goal is to show the powers that be in the media that Black women finding love is marketable and damn well deserving.

So please, when you see something featuring Black folks that you know you’d more than likely enjoy (I don’t expect anyone to support something they’d normally dislike) WATCH it! Go out in full force and support it. They need to know that we aren’t all talk and no action.

Everything, Everything is in fact…EVERYTHING!

 

Everything 1

Courtesy of Warner Bros.

 

I. Am. In. LOVE! This movie touched my soul and for more reasons than it is sweet as can be.

First, let me start by saying, I purchased and I read the book the minute I saw the first trailer drop. Anyone who knows me or who has been following this blog knows that I love swirling. Particularly with a Black woman and White man (or any man for that matter). Just so long as a Black woman is being loved on. So the concept appealed to me enough to make me snatch up the book, even though I don’t alway read YA (Young Adult) novels.

The book, written by a Black woman who is married to a Korean-American man, is sweet, original, and creative. In between the story are illustrations that the main character Maddy has drawn. It’s just another element that pulls you into the story. The love between Maddy and Olly is sweet, innocent, and pure. You can’t help but root for them.

 

Everything 4

Courtesy of Warner Bros.

So I went into the movie today with high hopes. I was so not disappointed. In fact, this may be the first time that a movie based on a book is as good if not better than the book. They cleverly found a way to express the email/text conversations between Maddy and Olly, which is how they mostly communicate in the beginning of their relationship. But the way they translated it to film, only enhanced their chemistry. And some of the sweet things Olly did for Maddy in the film, made the romance so much better than even the book.

 

 

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Courtesy of Warner Bros.

The casting was phenomenal. Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinson were cast perfectly and their chemistry was off the charts. The way he looked at her made it feel like he truly did love her. Either he’s one fantastic actor or he’s got a little crush on his leading lady. Or maybe that’s just me and my hopeful little fantasy world I’m living in.

 

The soundtrack was also amazing and eclectic. I’m thinking about purchasing it too.

But what really touched me that I mentioned at the beginning of this review? What made tears run continually down my face throughout the movie? Finally seeing a Black girl fall in love on the big screen.

Those who are not a part of the minority cannot understand or fathom what it is like to grow up NEVER seeing someone that looks even remotely like you falling in love on the big or small screen. I literally wept for the 13-18 year old me, who never got to see a black or brown girl fall in love as I grew up. The Molly Ringwalds of the world, the Teen Witches, the Brendas, Kellys, and Donnas of the world were the norm and the standard. So much so that I didn’t even realize that I was missing anything.

Until today.

I cried because I didn’t know how much I wanted…no, needed to see that on a 5,000 square foot movie screen. I cried because it was 20+ years too late. I cried because I was so damn happy that I was finally seeing it. And it was…glorious.

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Courtesy of Warner Bros.

 

But now I want more. And to get more, I need EVERYONE to go out and see this movie. I need Hollywood to understand that we desperately want and need more of this. So that they’ll be willing to produce more. For teens and adults alike.

I want to go to movies celebrating women of color finding love and being loved. But even movies like Waiting to Exhale, The Best Man movies, Something New, etc didn’t bring me to tears the way Everything, Everything did. Which lets me know that more than anything, our young girls desperately need to see black and brown girls falling in love and being loved.

We can’t let them down!

eLove: Not So Trendy in eBooks.

Sorry, I’ve been incognito for a while. I’ve written some posts, but none of them felt right to hit publish. Anywho, I’m back for now and armed with some thoughts. I’ve read quite a few of my peers’ novels recently and I noticed something that I want to speak on.
First, I want to point out that I’ve noticed that there has been a decline in romantic movies or RomComs over the past couple of years. A lot of things factor into the death of romance on the big screen, but I read one article, that I could not find to link here, that said a big reason for the decline is that Hollywood is having a hard time translating the new digital romance era. And it’s no wonder with the sad state relationships are in. All you have to do is go to a restaurant in the past couple of years since smartphones turned us into social dummies. To see adults out to dinner with the hypnotizing bluish white glow on their faces, that has turned them into digital zombies, as they focus on the bright screen of their phones, rather than on the company across from them.

Watching digital romance play out on social media is like watching a soap opera. ‘Single’ statuses turning into ‘In a Relationship’ to ‘It’s Complicated’ to ‘Single’ once more. Side Chicks and Side Dick (Is that a thing or did I just make it up?), Ghosting, Benching, deciphering cryptic texts and DMs or PMs in the new emoji hieroglyphics, navigating the Left and Right Swipes, Netflix and Chill, and Hookup Culture. UUUUUGH!!! Just thinking about it makes me want to punch something.

I’m sure somewhere Hollywood can come up with some clever RomCom that surrounds all this garbage and somehow make it cute. But when it comes to Romance novels and all of its sub-genres, I myself, as an author of Romance, am not writing eLove and I’m not seeing a whole lot of others doing it either. And the Romance genre seems to continue to thrive without a problem.

Now, I know I haven’t read every romance novel currently in circulation, but I’ve read enough to know that many of the heroines and heroes meet and communicate in a way that harkens back to the good old days. There’s barely any meet-cutes online or through dating apps. No communicating through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat. It could be done and there may be a few out there who have already done it, but it sure isn’t popular. I think it has to do with women’s desire to have relationships back to the way it once was.

And besides, IT’S BORING! Who wants to read a novel where nothing happens in real life to the characters? That the hero and heroine only interact through their phones? I would throw my eReader at the wall if I had to read that malarkey.

I think Hollywood should take a cue from the authors of Romance and write stories about love the way they’ve always been told. There’s a whole audience out there that still wants to see a good old-fashioned love story. Lithium batteries not included.

Model Behavior: The Male Celebrity Cliche

So last night, my parents and I were watching Running Wild with Bear Grylls. His celebrity guest for the night was Mel B of the Spice Girls. She was talking about her children and their dads. One, being Eddie Murphy. My mom Googled him to see who he was married to now. He’s not married, but he recently had another child with some blonde bombshell. My mom checked her out and low and behold…she’s a model. *major eye roll that turned into massive side-eye that then surpassed Resting Bitch Face* Which got me to thinking.

Is there anything more cliche than the male celebrity and his model wife/girlfriend? Like, seriously! Every now and again, and I do mean every now and again, you’ll find a celebrity that will find love with a regular ol’ girl. But for the most part, actors, musicians, athletes, etc all have this problem. And I do consider it a problem.

I’m not saying models aren’t people and that they don’t deserve love like everyone else. But come on, I don’t think anyone needs to advocate for models finding love. I think they got love covered, better than most of us. As far as I can tell, they’re the only ones getting love. It’s as if they get passed out like hor d’oeuvres at parties none of us were invited to.

Anyway, I do see it as a problem, though. I mean, how many of these relationships have actually lasted? Aside from David Bowie and Iman. God rest his soul. It makes sense I suppose for actors to fall in love actresses. Especially if they worked closely together in a movie. Many people find love through their work. But I’m seriously gonna need these men to expand their horizons just a smidge.

I guess it has to do with the male ego. Maybe for many of these guys, they didn’t get the hot girl when they were younger. So now they’re basking in the plethora of pretty pussy surrounding them on the daily. But then every time I turn around these relationships fail. Well, duh! It was based on the physical, to begin with.

Let’s take a look at George Clooney. That man was swimming in a see of pretty pus. Models and everybody else were on his jock like it was the best thing since sliced bread. And absolutely none of them held his interest. Until he met Amal. Now I’m not saying she isn’t model beautiful. But that woman has so much more than looks going for her, it ain’t even funny. He couldn’t help but see her inner glow.

And you have a few others like Vince Vaughn that found himself a normal lady (Real Estate Agent). Matt Damon (Bartender). David Schwimmer (Waitress at the time, now photographer). Jesse Williams (Real Estate Agent).

And even still, all of these wives are very attractive and slender in their own right. I wanna see a celebrity really shake some shit up and marry someone plump and round or plain. Hint, hint. I’m not plain, but I’m definitely round.

Believe me, I’ve had fun with some fine ass dudes with ahhhhhmazing bodies and it wasn’t hard for them to find me attractive. My body was never a problem. Their problem was worrying about the outside world and their opinions.

And hey, even if it isn’t me that catches a fox, I’d still love to see a plump cutie snag one. And I’m not talking about some dweeby C-lister. I’m talking, smokin’ hot A-lister here. For once I’d like to someone the likes of my boo Henry Cavill, Chris Evans, Leonardo DiCaprio (the worst offender), Common, Scott Eastwood, etc fall for some kickass chick that has a dope personality and some extra lady lumps. Instead of always seeking out what society deems acceptable.

Quite frankly, it’s boring.

 

P.S. And I don’t want any commentary about “Well what about the not so hot celebrities? Aren’t you discriminating against them just as much as you’re being discriminated against?” I’d date Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, or any guy like them in a heartbeat. But these types of men date models too. So if celebrity DUFFs can date models, why can’t regular DUFFs date hot celebrities? Just saying.

P.S.S. In the grand scheme of things, this subject isn’t that important. But it is a subject that has always bothered me. A lot of these men are role models or just looked up to in general by their average joe counterparts. Maybe if they dated based more on insides than outsides, average joes may follow.

Ha! Who am I kidding?!

Movie Remakes: Hollywood’s Way of Saying ‘We’ve Run Out of Stories About White People’

So I read an article today about how it is projected that Ben-Hur is going to be a huge box office bomb this coming weekend. The article also went into detail about why it’s going to bomb. You know, the regular old ‘people are tired of remakes’ argument. But there was one other important reason why remakes are tanking.

I heard somewhere, and I wish I could remember where, but that the reason Hollywood keeps making remakes is because they’ve run out of stories about white people. I thought about that statement for a while. And you know what? It is absolutely freakin’ true!

Drama, action, thriller, horror, romance, RomCom, sci-fi, etc. You name it, it’s been done. Then redone. And then redone again. Hollywood keeps regurgitating the same tired and trite stories. With actors that all look the same. And just to silence the masses of bored minorities, they throw in Morgan Freeman, Samuel L. Jackson, Viola Davis, The Rock, John Leguizamo and that other Hispanic dude that they use when they need one, Michael Pena. That little splash of color ain’t cutting it Hollywood.

That Fast and Furious franchise isn’t doing as well as it is because it has the best storylines and acting to ever grace an action movie. No, it’s doing well because of the diverse cast. People tend to gravitate towards movies that have faces that kind of resemble theirs. Look how good The Perfect Guy did last summer. It was led by an almost all Black cast, but it wasn’t advertised as a “Black  movie,” it was advertised just like Sleeping with the Enemy was advertised. As just a good old-fashioned thriller. And why do you think TV is doing so well? Network, cable, and streaming channels are doing extremely well because of the all-inclusive shows they’re cranking out. Scandal, The Walking Dead, Orange is the New Black, Empire

This is not a fluke Hollywood. People want to see true inclusion and one black, brown, tan or yellow face every now and again, right before you kill us off, is not enough. (See; almost all horror movies and Sleepy Hollow TV series)

The amount of stories out there about Blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, Asians, Middle Easterners, LGBTQ is an untapped gold mine. And there are hundreds, if not thousands of writers out there with phenomenal stories. Straight white people aren’t the only people who fall in love or deserve to fall in love. I’m the first person to say I love Nicholas Sparks books and movies. The Notebook was fire!!! But Nicholas Sparks isn’t the only author cranking out great romance novels that deserve their moment in the sun and on the silver screen.

And when I say all-inclusive, I don’t mean zero white people. That’s not the real world. All-inclusive literally means EVERYONE. Hell, the stories I write and would love to see on the big or small screen are interracial with mainly black women and white men. But it’s not gonna kill ya if the main female protagonist in a RomCom is black and curvy with a slender white sidekick. I, personally think it would be a breath of fresh air.

So stop being lazy Hollywood. Stop being afraid. You’re already losing cash on huge box office flops that are played out storylines. Why not take a chance on something new. If it tanks, at least you can tank with integrity and a pair of big hairy balls of steel.

Word-of-Mouth Dies on the Lips of White Readers

I’ve been a self-published author for nearly three years. I’ve published 12 works and can now kind of gauge what’s happening with my books and readers by my sales. The majority of my readers are Black women since I write Interracial Erotic Romance with a main focus on Black Woman/White Man characters. Though my books rarely ever even address race. They’re just love stories like any other. Anyway, I digress.

When a book is first released, especially books that were available for pre-order, sales start out relatively high. After a while, depending on how well you promoted and how many readers are spreading the word, sales can peter off. Then let’s say, a few months later, I see Book 1 of one of my series sells on Monday, then on Tuesday or before Monday is even over, Book 2 is purchased and shortly after that Book 3. I can tell that it was more than likely one person that was really into my series and snatched up all the books. Then within a couple days of that random purchase, I’ll see sales for Book 1 shoot up when it had flat-lined for quite some time. It is relatively obvious then that the original reader told her friends, family and co-workers about the series and they want to experience the story too. In the nutshell, word-of-mouth.

Word-of-mouth is huge for an author. You can advertise, promote, and hustle all day and it will help. But word-of-mouth is what books live and die by. I’ve heard that Fifty Shades of Grey rose to the top because of book clubs that shouted praise at the top of their lungs. And I have no doubt that many, if not all of those book clubs were predominantly white. So it’s obvious that white word-of-mouth is a powerful tool when it comes to going mainstream. As a black author, I wish it wasn’t so. Because in my experience, when it comes to a book being lead by a black female protagonist, white readers clam up tighter than a virgin inside a bank vault.

Prime example:

Chasing Day Cover

Chasing Day (Book 1): He’s the golden boy quarterback of the football team. She the shy, plump orchestra geek. Unlikely best friends. An undeniable attraction… Tap here to purchase.

I’ve been involved with a cross-promotional group of authors on Facebook for nearly a year now. It’s a mix of Romance authors, but mainly white. We blast our readers every quarter with freebies in an opportunity to expand our readership to readers that may have never found us, to begin with. For some of the black authors in the group, that means possibly finding white readers that normally wouldn’t go out of their way to look for us. In the most recent freebie blast, I gave away Chasing Day, Book 1 in a two-part series. That day, I got over 5,000 downloads. The potential for read-through to Book 2 and crossing over to new readers is definitely higher with those results. And every time we do a blast for some odd-marketing-universe-reason sales for that book shoot up even after it’s no longer free.

 

It wasn’t long before I saw definite read-through to Book 2. In fact, sales for Book 2 did remarkably well for a while, considering my still relatively newbie standards. So it’s obvious that those who have read Chasing Day so far, are liking it enough to buy the sequel. There were about 40-50 books for free in the promotion, so I don’t expect all of those 5,000+ readers to get to my book right away.

 

But also, what I noticed is that, though sales for Book 2 went up, sales for Book 1 flat-lined. Which it is glaringly obvious what’s happening, or shall I say, not happening. They are loving the story enough to continue on to the sequel. But they’re not comfortable enough to tell their friends, family, and co-workers about it. I am a reader before I am a writer. When I’ve come across a book I adore, I let it be known to anyone who will listen. And I know that is what almost all readers do. Because once you find your tribe, you have to share in the joys and heartbreak of a story. You can’t be alone in your adoration of a book. Even now, if I read a book that its characters are White Woman/White Man (i.e Archer’s Voice and Me Before You), if I love it enough, I will still tell my friends and readers about them. Even knowing that many of them prefer to read black heroines. A good book is a good book, no matter the race of the author or characters.

And I know what you’re probably thinking, “Maybe your book isn’t as good as you think it is and that’s why they aren’t sharing it.” I’ll admit, I love my series and may be biased but I seriously doubt that it’s the best series ever written. I’d have to be delusional and quite egotistical to believe that. But it’s still a good story that I poured my heart into. And a few of the white readers that were kind enough to leave a review, did in fact, sing its praises. So I’m not completely off-base in my summation here.

So I say to anyone who is reading this, I urge you, for the sake of art, if you come across a good book that you thoroughly enjoyed but it’s not something you or your friends would normally read…share it anyway. If you liked it, they probably will too. Your recommendation is our life’s blood. Our books live and die by your word-of-mouth. So for the love of God, speak up!

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