Sunday, September 28, 2008

Vote 2008

Greetings, all. 53 yrs. ago, a 14 year-old black boy named Emmett Till was brutally killed in Mississippi. 40 yrs. ago, 39 year-old Nobel Prize Winner, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis during his nonviolent antipoverty campaign. Last year, 23 year-old Sean Bell was killed by New York City police on his wedding day.
In the words of Editor-In-Chief of Essence Magazine, Angela Burt-Murray, "For much of the past, the reality for too many African-Americans has been one of disaffection, disappointment and despair. More often than not, our dreams of empowerment are sent back with a rejection stamp from the mainstream stating, "No, you can't." Those words have echoed through so many generations that many of us have accepted them as truth. That's why, no matter whom you vote for, the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama is historic. Although he is not the 1st. black man to run for president, he is the only one to capture a major party's nomination. For my parents and grandparents, the prospect of a black president has been as remote as the prospect of catching lightning in a bottle."

Being taught of the struggles, the hangings, the beatings and pure torture of what our ancestors had to endure to make sure that their children and their children's children would have a voice in making decisions involving the matters of the world must urge us to vote. Not only is it our right, more importantly, it's our moral duty and obligation. Shame on everyone, myself included, if you're not registered to vote. How dare we say, "I'm only 1 vote, it won't count."
Look at it this way, if your life was on the line and you needed only 1 more person to speak on your behalf and validate why your life was worth saving, wouldn't you beg and plead for that person to step up to the plate? Well, guess what folks, our lives are on the line, as well as our finances, our job security, our pensions and health insurance. Please do the right thing and vote. We owe it to our ancestors and to our children. It is disgraceful and down right disrespectful to bite the hands of those who have fed us, trailblazed for us and lost their lives so that we can have a voice.


Sunday, September 21, 2008


Good morning, all. Recently, I had a conversation with a close friend who is saddened by the fact that she just can't seem to land Mr. Right. In fact, according to her, after 1st. dates, she hardly ever hears from guys anymore. As soon as those words were out of her mouth, I knew what the problem was but instead of me telling her, I wanted her to tell herself. I knew she had a date this past Friday night with this new hot guy she'd been raving about so I asked how the date went. What did they talk about? Where is he from? What church does he attend? Who is his employer? Did he talk about his family? Well, after I asked those questions, my friend went to town and didn't stop talking for about 30 minutes. I was even able to lay the phone down, tend to my puppy, come back to the phone and listen. She never knew I had stepped away. Her problem? She's a woman scorned that talks too much. She told me this hot guy said to her, "So, tell me about yourself." For some crazy reason, she thought he wanted to know EVERYTHING. As soon as she opened her mouth, suitcases, tote bags, briefcases, purses and even shoe boxes of negative information came pouring off her tongue. Within 5 minutes of their date (they haven't even looked at their menus yet), this man knew every detail of her rocky marriage and bitter divorce. Her ex-cheated, he created a child outside their marriage, he did this and he did that. Well, no wonder guys don't call her for a 2nd date. Why should they have to carry all of her baggage? Ladies, when a guy says, "Tell me about yourself", he wants to know about you personally. Tell him your likes, what you do for fun, what creative skills you may have, what your interests are, any goals you're working toward achieving. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT bring your baggage and past relationships into your conversation. And please let him get a word in edgewise. Share the table, don't dominate it. Yes, everyone may have a little luggage but men will run away if they feel forced to carry yours. TMI, (too much information) on a 1st. date will not work in your favor. Your new guy doesn't want to know what your ex did. He doesn't want to deal with your reluctance to let go of your past. In fact, today, open all your luggage, suitcases, tote bags and let them air out. Spray them with Fabreeze and get rid of the stench from the past. It's a new day. WOMAN UP. Get over it so you can get on with it. If you can learn to keep your mouth shut on a 1st. date, the guy may find you a bit mysterious and wanna know more about you. And guess what, you'll get that 2nd. date.


Sunday, September 14, 2008


Hello, everyone. This week I'd like to take the time to speak about Hurricane Ike and the damaged it has caused millions of people residing along the Gulf of Mexico, the entire state of Texas, and parts of Louisiana. This past weekend, I watched on MSNBC, 12 foot waves washing ashore and enveloping beach side homes to take back out into the ocean. I saw the tallest building in Houston with its windows blown out, I saw lobbies of hotels flooded with water and then I saw people who had chosen to ride the storm out, swimming in sewer water trying to make it to safety. Those of us living in the Chicagoland area have gotten our share of rain this weekend as well. Many of us have water in our basements and our cars are flooded. But we have our jobs to go to, we can ride the bus to grocery stores if need be. The devastation that Hurricane Ike caused has shut down businesses indefinitely. Gas stations are out of gas, grocery and convenient stores are no longer in existence for hundreds of thousands of people. Pure devastation is the only true way to describe what this category 3 storm has inflicted in the south. That's why we have to be grateful and thankful for everything we have and not take the little things for granted. Before we moan and groan about the floods in our basements, just imagine that we could have been one of the many folks watching our entire life's savings, everything we've worked so hard to build, completely demolished. So, take a moment, really take a moment and thank God that you were able to wake up in your home this morning with electricity and running water, you were able to get in your car and drive to your destination. And thank God that your local Jewel, Dominick's and Walgreen's stores are still there when you need them. And the next time a situation arises that may cause you to complain about what you don't have, consider sending up a "Hallelujah" or "Thank You, Jesus" for what you do have instead.


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Just Fine

Hello, everyone. I trust that all of you have had a safe and wonderful weekend. I want to start by thanking each and every one of you for your support this past week. I have received numerous phone calls and e-mails from many people letting me know how much they've enjoyed reading "A Man's Worth". It puts joy in my heart when I open an e-mail that's full of encouraging words and well-wishes. Many of you have even taken it to another level and referred my novel to someone else who belongs to book clubs. I am very blessed to have awesome fans who really want to see me prosper in my literary career. However, I feel the need to address another issue. While I am grateful for those of you who knows somebody, who may know somebody else with the "hook-up" that'll place my novel in the right hands, I must stay focused and realize that sometimes the "hook-up" may be a trick of the enemy. I often hear, "Girl, you need to be at a certain nightclub tonight because this person will be there and if you can get a copy of your book in his/her hand, you'll go straight to the top." And this week, I've also heard, "Nikita, it's time for you to change your image and do something drastic with your appearance so that you can get noticed, it'll really help your sales. And you need to stop hanging around with certain folks because they'll only bring you down. You're a celebrity now and you've escalated to another level and you have to let some people go. Get new friends and start hanging with a more elite crowd." Well, let me say this. My friends, family and associates have been in my corner since I wrote the 1st. word in my 1st. manuscript years ago. I have no intentions of altering my lifestyle to please anyone. Never will you find me in a night club promoting my novel, never will I deny those who love me and want nothing but the best for me. Whether I'm a celebrity or not, that remains to be seen and truth be told, I really don't care. I've come too far to get big-headed, stupid, ignorant and snooty when doors open for me. I shall maintain my Christianity and trust that God, and God alone, has the "real" hook-up. For God I live and for God I'll die. So, to all of you who think you're helping when you advise me to change this and change that, get rid of this person and get to know that person, I echo the words of Mary J. Blije. "I won't change my life, my life is JUST FINE."


Monday, September 1, 2008

Constructive Criticism

Greetings, fans. Today is an extremely exciting day for me. This day, September 1st, 2008, my 2nd novel, "A Man's Worth" will grace the bookshelves of Barnes & Noble, Borders, Walden Books, and Wal-Mart Stores all across North America. When I think back 2 years prior to this day, when I submitted my manuscript to dozens of publishing houses, I remember the rejection letters coming in the mail almost on a daily basis. I'll never forget the words , 'Your work has potential but it's not right for us', 'This type of manuscript is not what we're looking for at this time', and the worst one of all, 'Miss Nichols, we just don't think you have what it takes, but good luck to you'.
I won't deny the fact that I became very discouraged, even despondent. Knowing what the Lord had instilled in me and trying my best not to give up on my dream of becoming a best selling author, I went back to my computer. I sat for hours and hours going through each and every chapter wondering why my work couldn't get the recognition I knew it deserved. Then I'd have my family and closest friends critique my work. But they all loved it and told me how great the manuscript was. So, I was back to square 1. Wondering why I couldn't get it published. Then I got a call from my aunt, Frenchie. She may spank me for mentioning her name but I have to acknowledge that she is the reason why my name is on its way toward becoming a household subject. You see, aunt Frenchie called me one day and said something I'd never forget. Her exact words were, "I read your manuscript but you don't know what the hell you're talking about. Your time frame is all off, your character's aren't realistic and you should really research certain things."
I made the corrections she suggested and re-shopped my work. 3 months later, I was offered a deal with Urban Books. And before I had a chance to tell the Senior Editor that I'd written a sequel, she informed me that Urban wanted to purchase 2 books from me. From that moment, my life as I knew it, had changed. I will forever be grateful for Aunt Frenchie's constructive criticism. Her words, although I thought were a bit harsh at that time, were exactly what I needed. So, I'd like to encourage all of you. If you're passionate about a certain goal but just can't seem to grasp on to it, maybe all you need is a little constructive criticism. Trust someone to tell you the truth, even if it's not what you wanna hear. Take it, apply it, and go for yours.