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Monday, April 25, 2011

“Walking Among The Kudzu” by H. Victoria Hargro Atkerson


Walking Among The Kudzu describes the striking parallelism between life and the growth of these vines based on the author’s insights from experiences. Both twist and twine in all directions—people make mistakes, celebrate, achieve, and do many things sometimes regretful. However, life in its own resilient way continues.

Like the awe-inspiring kudzu, we must be strong when facing difficulties or when encumbered by circumstances in our lives, which seem insurmountable, but we must remember the power within us, the power of the human spirit as we define who we are and hold onto God for the rest.— H. Victoria Hargro Atkerson

H. Victoria Hargro Atkerson writes inspiring romantic stories based on historical events. Her love of history and her dedication to her craft are apparent in the profundity of each character that she writes about in her stories. Philadelphia is her home, which she shares with her husband, but her southern upbringing resonates in all her writings and in her storytelling abilities. When she is not writing, she enjoys baking, needlecrafts, and fishing with her family on the Jersey shore.


Interview with Victoria:

“Walking Among The Kudzu” is your third novel, what is it about?

This story chronicles the life of a Chicago youth who is mentally abused by her disenchanted mother. Their relationship based on the child’s ability to be invisible in her mother’s house. She has the misfortune of having to cope with a mother who did not want the responsibility of the company of children in her life. At the first opportunity, the main character, Shelby Reed is farmed-out to neighbors and friends so that her mother can have company. This child knows that she is unwanted and disliked, but she learned how to live in a hostile environment by fading into the woodwork so that her mother does not know she exists. When her mother decides to rid herself of her mothering responsibilities, she sends Shelby to an unknown aunt in Atlanta that the child never knew she had. From there, Shelby discovers things about her family that disturbs her and isolates her even more than she was in her mother’s home. Needing acceptance and love, her life becomes complicated when she is rejected by her family in Atlanta, her mother, and the one person whom she finds to love. In the backdrop of this dramatic story, the reader revisits the civil right era of the 1950’ and 60’s, where values, beliefs, and problems unfold in the lives of colorful and brilliant characters that reflect the daily life of living in a separate but unequal society.

What was your purpose in writing “Walking Among The Kudzu?”
The main theme of the book is that life goes on no matter what and people have to be resilient in order to be successful. It does not matter what mistakes you make, but it does matter how you react to your mistakes. Do you continue? Do you change your behavior? You must. We must always adapt to changes because that is the most constant element of our lives. We must set new goals and be determined to complete them…. never giving up on life and especially never giving up on ourselves. I wanted to convey that message in “Walking Among The Kudzu.”

The story has some interesting details about the civil rights era, are any on the incidents in the book true?
All of my writings reflect real life experiences, but that have been fictionalized to create a good story. I find that all good writing is based on the daily interactions and reactions to our environment. How else can the reader relate to it? Even writers of science fiction and horror stories based their writing on human experiences that they take to the next level. The best writing starts out with a simple question, “What if?”

Where did you learn to write?

At my computer, but I learned to tell a good story as a child growing up in Atlanta. Much of my childhood was spent listening to stories from elders, siblings, and friends. Everyone told stories. Sitting around the dinner table, at family reunions, sitting on the front porch, or hanging out on the front steps at night… people always told stories. It just so happened that most of the stories they told were true, taken from real life. My biggest challenge was to learn how to put my stories down on paper or on the computer… it was truly a learning experience. It took time and a great deal of hard work to complete my first three novels and to continue working on the ones that will follow. One day, I hope to perfect the art. I compare the process of writing a story with a journey that starts out at the beginning and goes until you write your way to the end. I hope that when I get to the end of my writing career that I will have perfected the art of writing so that others will appreciate it and enjoy my stories.

“Walking Among the Kudzu is your third book, what were the first two?”

The first two novels that I published were, “Stones Along The Path, Part I & Part II,” a two-part intimate family memoir, which starts in Kenya and migrates to Philadelphia. The two books tell the story of a wildly romantic relationship that crosses two cultures and two continents. The main characters, Jessica & Akinyele are insanely in love, but they have adjustments because of their cultural and differences. What I love about this story is that the reader gets to evaluate their relationship and their suitability for each other. It amazes me when readers tell me that they are angry with Jessica or disgusted with Akinyele. That means they became involved with the storyline. One of my favorite book clubs nicknamed it as the “Black Cinderella Story,” and it is. Readers will love it, but be ready for a real roller coaster ride.

Where can readers get copies of “Walking Among The Kudzu” and “Stones Along The Path, Part I & II?”

Anyone who wishes to purchase one of my books can go to one of my Websites, www.walkingamongthekudzu.com, www.stonesalongthepath.com, www.bookclubsatsea.com. Or they can order it on www.amazon.com, or they can order it from Barnes & Noble, Borders, or any other book store.

What is Book Clubs At Sea?

Book Clubs At Sea is a special program that I created to help black authors, like myself, who need to get their work out to the public and on an international stage. It’s an opportunity for authors to bring their fans on board cruise ships around the world to experience the ultimate book club. While cruising to fabulous destinations, they will have an opportunity to sell their books to all the passengers and crew around the world. We also encourage Book Clubs members who want to vacation with authors to join us and enjoy all the special activities we provide onboard. Anyone who wishes to join one of our cruises can send their request to bookclubsatsea@aol.com.

Learn more about Victoria at:

www.walkingamongthekudzu.com

www.stonesalongthepath.com

Monday, April 18, 2011

If You Love Me, Come By Claudia Moss


Frenonia Roberts leads an idyllic life, if you ask her baby sister Rhonda, her best friend Sharmayne and anyone else looking in on her glamorous, Buppie existence in Atlanta, where she high-steps it through her days as a young entrepreneur, the owner of TheWeAreFamily Bookstore and Coffeeshop. She is the apple of her mother’s eye, a pacesetter spearheading the city’s National Black Arts Festival, hostess of the esteemed Isis Book Club and the flame in J.T.’s heart…until, that is, Free closes the bookstore one evening and bows to the whim of a supernatural breeze guiding her Mercedes towards Techwood Homes, a throwaway neighborhood off her normal route back to the suburbs. Free, glad to be, has no warning that a simple turn in the road will catapult her into a devastating, downward spiral to a place she’s never known…until now.
In turmoil, Free watches as worlds collide and hearts weep. Used to being the epitome of control, she learns to surrender to an unseen power moving for her good, even when she craves little more than an endless night. Meanwhile, the people closest to Free can’t stay her inevitable plunge; they’re too busy handling their own dilemmas: treading water, battling demons and stumbling through their own mazes. How is Free to know an aged stranger with the South in her mouth would be the saving grace she and the others (Rhonda, Sharmayne, Pinky, Pastoria and J.T.) would need to lead them back to love?
A novel about the healing power of love and redemption, about betrayal and longing, about family and its many forms, If You Love Me, Come resonates with lyrical language and reservoirs of emotion. Claudia Moss, a storyteller from a long line of Southern storytellers, plants her post in literature.


CLAUDIA MOSS is a novelist, poet, blogger, motivational speaker and talk show host. She is a former College Board consultant and a former DeKalb County English educator. The author of the adolescent novel Dolly: Memoirs of a High School Graduate, Claudia has contributed to several anthologies. She resides in Clarkston, Georgia, with her family. If You Love Me, Come is her second novel.

Get to Know Claudia

What inspires you: to live, to write, to express yourself?
“I am captivated with the notion that we were made in the Creator’s image, that we are creators and that we have the power to attract the life that we want to live. I am drunk on the thought that we can speak the colors, the brilliant and vibrant colors, like artfully splashed paint, onto the canvas of our lives, and be who we want to be!”

Who are your idols as far as writers?
I adore so many writers, of which you are one! Idols? Hmmm. There has never been a time when I was not in love with the works of Toni Morrison, Fiona Zedde, and Alice Walker. I admire Terry McMillan, Edwidge Danticat, Pearl Cleage, August Wilson, Trisha R. Thomas and Helen Elaine Lee. I have yet to read Odessa Rose’s “Water in A Broken Glass,” but I have heard she is a wonderful stylist.”

What advice do you have for writers who are just starting out?
“Know who you are. Don’t write to emulate someone you admire who writes. Never bother to write to chase a dollar; it will only lead you to a job. Go within, meet your talents and passion, and if you are a writer, you will do what you cannot help but do: you will write. No matter what. That kind of passion will save you, baptize you, caress you when the rejections come and see you through when the work is done and you, holding it, realize all over again how very much you love the art.”

What can we expect from you, Ms. Moss, in the next few years?
“Creation! This year, I will introduce a new character, unique and outspoken, in a collection that I am proofing now. Her name is Wanda B. Wonders, and she is the Everywoman counterpart of Langston Hughes’ famous character, Jessie B. Simple. My first poetry collection will be published this year as well. On the drawing board are plans to delve into children and adolescent literature, as my first book was an adolescent novel, DOLLY: The Memoirs of a High School Graduate.
“In addition, in the next few years there will be a Claudia Moss calendar series and a card line. I will further explore being on both sides of the camera in sensual, interracial and multicultural views. A one-woman show is planned with burlesque and other manifestations of dance, poetry and dramatic readings. From my travels, I anticipate penning a travel log. I will write a screenplay and make my mark in film and television. And of course, there will be other novels, (lesbian, main stream, romance, and erotica) anthologies that I will edit and publish, fiction collections and stage productions. In short, I will be somewhere doing Claudia Moss as only I can! Quite frankly, I am an ambitious soul! You can expect me to shatter barriers and tap dance on whom I shouldn’t be!”

In terms of novel writing, how do you feel about quality vs. quantity? Do you believe one can effectively achieve both?
I would like to be a bestselling author with the capacity to publish a yearly blockbuster like the next author, who makes her living this way.
“But realistically, I know that to produce the literature that spotlights quality, attention to detail, and provocative subjects and themes, one must slip outside of time and wade the River Styx, going deaf and dumb to chasing the dollar, and marinate and stew and write and ponder and rewrite and bake and baste the details and pray and cry and write and then and only then, walk towards a printer or publisher. Whichever, I will always cast my lot for quality vs. quantity, for I want my work to speak for me, for itself, when I am no longer here and my footsteps have been effaced in the sand.
“Yes, I believe one can effectively achieve both, if one has been writing and rewriting and placing the manuscripts in a safe, waiting for the magic moment when the works can be published yearly, much like J. K. Rawlings. Remember? She had written, what, four or five Harry Potter novels and had them boxed away, when she released the first book in her infamous series. Great timing I’m sure she didn’t plan!”

Tell us a little about your writing process. How long did it take to complete your novel? Do you have a certain place or need a certain ambiance in order to feel creative? Do you set aside “X” amount of time to write each day or do you wait until inspiration strikes?
“I once wrote every morning, when I left the English classroom. There was usually no preordained stopping time. I wrote until my body moaned and locked up and down, threatening to topple me to the carpet. Music regaled me from my desktop speakers, the house was still and I felt too blessed not to be doing what I’d prayed to do…write all day long. My writing process involved reading what I’d written the day before, rereading my novel’s outline, meditating momentarily on the day’s work, a prayer here and there, and I’d begin writing.
“One way that I proofread is to consistently read aloud what I’ve written, fine-tuning my ears to a tight, natural phrasing.
“Today I know that fear of failure was at the root of driving myself so doggedly back then. Now, I determine which hat the day calls for and I wear that hat as well as I possibly can, be it promoting, proofing, or writing, not necessarily in that order. I yet write with music filling my office, setting moods and creating atmosphere. I write and get it all out, read and reread, and write some more. Then the next day, I revise and proofread what I’ve worked on, before continuing with the new chapter. And if the writing doesn’t want to come, I bow to that and either continue proofing and rereading the manuscript or I rise and do something else, my mind free to embrace the hiatus, my subconscious quietly filling in what the story needs, while I exercise, bake, chat or journal.
“I am confident that I am where I should be. I know that the Divine directs and orders my steps, and I will receive all that I am supposed to have. I focus on the image that I have of myself, not on what others think I should be or have what they think I should possess. I am comfortable in my skin, and I adore Miss Claudia.
“It took me a little over ten years to complete If You Love Me, Come. Por que? Life washed in on me and flooded my writing time. For many years I didn’t write, but I always knew on a visceral level that everything was all right. That what I longed to do would be my reality one day. I had to trust the Unknown within me.
“I love to write in my office. If I had to write elsewhere, I would, but I doubt I’d feel as creative as I do right here where I am currently sitting at 4:13 AM. (laughing)
“Every day I write something. It may not be writing on a novel or short story. It could be a poem or a blog entry, either for my blog at www.theGolden-Goddess.blogspot.com or on a private site by invitation only. I don’t wait for inspiration, yet when I am writing, as I say above, I do not force those times when the writing comes in spurts. I trust that it will come, so I rise to do other things, although my subconscious mind is forever writing and creating.”

Parts of the novel have a feel similar to that of Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God with the use of dialect and the strong connection of the characters to the natural world? Were you conscious of that while writing?“Although I adore the work of Zora Neale Hurston, I was conscious only of my grandmothers’ voices, especially my paternal grandmother, Sophie Mae Moss. She and my maternal grandmother, Pearlie Mae Young, made my family’s trips to the South delightful every summer we visited from Waterbury, CT. My mother passed away when I was in the ninth grade, ans my grandmothers stepped in to take my siblings and me by the hand and guide us into young adulthood. Both women were amazing, enterprising, Southern matriarchs, loved and respected by many in the small towns of Tuskegee, Roba and Little Texas, Alabama.
Both lived close to the natural world, closer than I’d ever witnessed coming from my inner-city neighborhood in Waterbury. Actually, in my grandparents’ presence, along with my father, I learned to plant and pick everything from corn, peas, cotton and cucumbers. I slopped hogs, swept yards, walked long country roads and listened to ghost stories with my siblings at my grandparents and father’s knee. Relocating to the South at such an early age in my childhood had everything to do with what is evident in my interior writing world.

Find Claudia at the flowing links:www.Twitter.com/theLadySiren
www.Facebook.com/ClaudiaMossAuthor (My Author Fan Page)
www.ClaudiaMoss.com

Monday, April 11, 2011

Get to Know Maxine Thompson


Growing up in foster care, Zipporah "Z" Saldano never dreamed of becoming a police officer, but after she's rescued from a hostage situation during the L.A. Riots, she chooses a career in law enforcement.
After ten good years on the force, Z is involved in a domestic homicide case gone awry. Her partner is killed, and Z is fired when alcohol is detected in her system. It's two long years before she gets sober and opens her own private investigation firm.
Now Shirley, her former foster mother, is in need of Z's help. Someone has murdered her grandson, a high school basketball star, and she wants Z to find out who did it. Z soon finds herself in deeper trouble than when she was kicked out of the LAPD. What she discovers is a conspiracy much deeper than anyone would believe, and she finds her own life is in danger.


Dr. Maxine Thompson is a novelist, poet, columnist, short story writer, book reviewer, an editor, ghostwriter, Internet Radio Show Host, and a Literary Agent. She is the author of The Ebony Tree, No Pockets in a Shroud, A Place Called Home (A Short Story Collection), The Hush Hush Secrets of Writing Fiction That Sell, a contributor to bestselling anthologies Secret Lovers, All in The Family, and Never Knew Love Like This Before, (Also a Kindle Bestseller), ebook, The Hush Hush Secrets of Making Money as a Writer. She hasan upcoming novel, Release, LA Blues, and upcoming (ebook) The Hush Hush Secrets of Creating a Life You Love.
Hostage of Lies, her latest fiction novel, was voted a Best Book of 2009.

Interview with Maxine:

1. What do you feel about the publishing industry and where it’s headed?
Right now the publishing industry is being turned on its ear. Best-selling mainstream authors are turning to self-publishing, and unknown indie authors are becoming rock stars by selling unusually high quantities of ebooks.
Well, I love it! I feel this is a great time in history to be a writer, and particularly an African American writer. It’s no secret that racism is the reason I only found one Black book in the library when I was a child during the 1950s. Needless to say, for a budding writer and a child who loved to read this fact was devastating. As part of a child’s development, it’s important to see books which feature people who look like you.
Unfortunately, 50 years later, institutional racism still exists in the publishing industry. For this reason, I fight for Black writers’ voices to be heard. That’s why I do all I can to help promote or develop Black talent in the literary arena.
As a literary agent, I get many rejections for every book deal I get for A.A. writers, but I don’t take it personally. I just keep pushing back.
On the other hand, I enjoy the freedom authors are now given to take their bodies of work straight to the public. No more gatekeepers to hold you back. Even so, you still need a professional team of editors, graphic designers, and a PR team. A good knowledge of social networking and the Internet helps also in promoting your book.
2. Have you ever self-published?
I was working 60 hour weeks as a social worker, (unbeknownst to me, I was wrapping up a 23-year career at that time), when I self-published my first 2 books. I have self-published all my books, except for two novels, Hostage of Lies (which was my reissued second novel, No Pockets in a Shroud,) and 4 anthologies, I participated in.
After rejection of another novel from New York traditional publishers, I self-published my first novel, The Ebony Tree, in 1995, and I self-published, No Pockets in a Shroud in 1997. I recently self-published an ebook, The Hush Hush Secrets of Making Money as a Writer. In all, I've written or been published in 14 of my own books.
3. Tell us about your ebook publishing experience?
I e-published my first ebook in 1999, How to Publish, Market and Sell your Book Via Ebook Publishing, and was featured in Black Enterprise Magazine in April 2001 for e-publishing. At the time, though, I couldn’t find a Black audience for my ebooks.
Now, we have the software/ereaders and the means to reach a global audience. I’m glad to see more Black writers putting out their ebooks. These shorter and generally cheaper ebooks are great marketing tools for your more expensive print books.
E-publishing means a lot for African American writers and our ability to penetrate this new global market.
I am really proud to see young African American publishers take responsibility for the destiny and penning down our stories. I love how many have taken leadership roles such as AAMBook Club to help promote Black writers and keep our works in print.
4. How did you become a literary agent?
I typeset and formatted self-published books between 1998 and 2000. Then in 2000, I began to do story/ developmental editing. I kept noticing the books I edited get book deals. From that, I decided to become an agent in 2003. It took 2 years to break in, but I have negotiated sixty-seven book deals since 2005. It has been an interesting journey.
5. When did you become an Internet Radio Show host?
I began hosting Internet radio shows on March 5, 2002 on Voiceamerica.com. I later started on Artistfirst in March 2004, and did both shows at the same until the end of 2005. I started doing my own show from home in March 2005 on Maxine Show, and hopefully, will pick that back up in the future. I still do a show with Artistfirst.com, whom I’ve been with for seven years. I do this to promote new, seasoned, and self-published writers.
I am really beginning to see market impact because my Internet radio shows are archived through the writers I represent such as Shelia Goss, Michelle McGriff, Rosalyn McMillan.
6. Where are some of your columns located on the Internet?
Ehow.com, Ideamarketers.com since 1999. Maxine Thompson Ezine Article Expert since 2006
http://ezinearticles.com/?expert=Maxine_Thompson
I credit the Internet with giving me the break I needed as a writer. As I wrote more free articles on line before blogging became popular, people began to trust me.
7. Tell us about your upcoming novel, LA Blues, due out 6-28-11.
My upcoming novel, LA Blues, is my first foray into crime fiction. The backdrop to the story is about the on-going wars between LA gangs, The Crips, The Bloods, and the Latino gangs.
At the time I penned this story in 2009, this situation had hit close to home. My nephew, Sanchez Thompson, had just been murdered in Detroit at the young age of 18, only four months after I closed my sister’s eyes in death at her hospice bedside. To say I was numb and grief-stricken is an understatement. But out of this grief, I’ve emerged with a sharper appreciation of life. In fact, this grief not only gave birth to my story, but gave me a renewed sense of purpose. That is, to try to save or to protect the lives of the up coming generation.

Find Maxine at:

http://www.maxinethompson.com, http://www.maxinethompsonbooks.com, and http://www.maxineshow.com, linkedin.com/MaxineThompson

Sunday, April 3, 2011

He Was My Man First By Nancey Flowers & Courtney Parker


One man. Two Women. Valentine Daye is Rich’s ride or die chick from the projects while Vanessa Knight is his uptown girl, who also happens to be his co-worker at the elite Jorge Jacobs clothier. These two women will stop at nothing to make Rich their man permanently.

Richard is on the fast track at Jorge Jacob’s, the leading fashion design clothier in the country and Vanessa plans to be by his side as he makes his ascent up the corporate ladder. However, Valentine helped build Rich’s career and was there when he was merely a drug dealer from the ‘hood. Though Valentine works in the corporate world, she maintains her street mentality and will not hesitate to fight for hers.

Valentine Daye is a product of the streets. Raised in Lafayette Garden projects, she lost her father at the tender age of ten and her mother at the age of thirteen. She was pawned off to live with her aunt Zenobia who had enough problems and didn’t want another mouth to feed. By fifteen, the feisty and sexy young Valentine was living the life with drug lord, Colombo. Things were going well until Colombo and his crew are murdered, and Valentine is found alone and beaten by Richard Washington in the apartment from which Colombo operated.

Richard Washington, affectionately called Rich by Valentine is a handsome rugged former thug. Prior to the murder of Colombo, Rich was one of Colombo’s many street runners. However, Rich never cared for Colombo or the way he treated Valentine and doesn’t waste time picking up where Colombo left off by making Valentine his Queen.

Vanessa Knight is a woman who has everything and wants for nothing…except Richard Washington. Vanessa is the heiress to Soul Shine, a multi-million dollar hair care company founded by her grandparents. Armed with a Bachelors degree from NYU and a Master’s in Global Fashion Management from the Fashion Institute of Technology, Vanessa is willing to forgive Richard’s flawed background. Mainly that he attended a college that no one has ever heard of, her parents loathe him and he’s dating a chickenhead who is not deserving of a prize such as Richard. However, her patience is waning and Vanessa tells Richard that he must decide what’s important to him—a flourishing career at Jorge Jacobs, where with her assistance he can become Vice President or a life where he’s constantly dwelling on a scarred past?

Valentine and Richard are a happy couple who have weathered a few minor altercations. Valentine is well aware of the fact that Richard occasionally has flings. But doesn’t every man? Valentine knows that if he has a penis, he’s bound to stray, but he always finds his way home. However, along comes Vanessa Knight, Valentine’s worst nightmare and he’s starting to lose his way.

When Daye meets Knight the plot thickens and someone walks away with a black eye and her dignity while the other winds up in jail. Richard is put to the test and must make a decision. Does he gamble and start a new life with the beautiful and conniving Vanessa who is incapable of love or does he stay with his around the way girl, Valentine who has been with him through thick and thin?

He Was My Man First is the first narrative to intertwine contemporary fiction with street lit. Fast paced and packed with drama, this novel will have a cross over appeal. The characters jump off the page and readers will find themselves rooting for Valentine and Richard to stay together, but not all stories are meant to have a happy ending.


Nancey Flowers is the author of the #1 Essence bestselling novel Shattered Vessels. She also penned No String Attached and A Fool’s Paradise, and contributed to Proverbs for the People and I Didn’t Work This Hard Just to Get Married. Nancey lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband, Michael. She’s presently working on the sequel, He’s Still My Man: After I Do.

Courtney Parker is a writer specializing in self-help, inspiration, and fiction and nonfiction. As a celebrity ghostwriter, novelist, and children’s book author, Courtney has written or collaborated with such bestselling authors as Terrell Owens, Nikki Turner, Victoria Christopher Murray, music producer Teddy Riley, and Olympic gold medalist Maurice Green. Her works include a contribution in Twilight Moods and her debut novel, Runnin’ Game. Currently, she works on the Emmy Award-winning Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Courtney is presently working on the sequel, A Man of My Own.

Book Club Discussion Questions:
. Why do you think Valentine stayed with Rich as long as she did?

2. Do you think Rich loved Valentine? Do you think Richard also loved Vanessa?

3. Do you believe Valentine overreacted when she saw Vanessa and Richard in the restaurant? What would your reaction have been?

4. What is Vanessa’s motivation? Love? Power? Or possession?

5. Like Vanessa’s mother Cornelia, do you feel people should date outside of their social status?

6. Would you take Rich back after he cheated on you? If so, why?

7. Is half a man, better than no man at all?

Excerpt:

My Man



It’s 2:06 A.M. My stomach has been uneasy for the past two hours and a rash of goose bumps have taken residence on my caramel skin. I’ve been up since midnight wondering where my man is and when he’s coming home. There’s no acceptable excuse that he could possibly proffer for being out this late on a work night and not calling. I’ve already taken the initiative of contacting his mother in the event that there was a family emergency and she confirmed that everything is copasetic. Calling his friends is pointless, since I know they’ll cover for him. As much as I hate to admit it, I know he’s with another woman.
Rich and I have been together for nine years and have been engaged for three of those years. I’m the one wearing the two-carat, princess-cut diamond and platinum engagement ring on my finger. Rich and I go back many, many years and he was my man first and will always be my man. My friends always say, “Valentine, cut Rich off. He ain’t nuthin’ but a dog.” But they’ll never understand our relationship and our commitment to one another. Those other girls that he used to kick it with on the side weren’t nothing serious. I understand that men cheat and those women out there who think their men don’t cheat, are only fooling themselves. If the notion that your man ain’t sticking his dick in some other chick helps you sleep better at night, then good for you. I like to keep it real!
Richard Washington and I met when I was seventeen years old and he was eighteen. I was messing with this drug dealer named Colombo, who had Lafayette Gardens and Marcy Projects on lock. I was Colombo’s number one chick and life was real good with us, but whenever things went wrong with his game I got the short end of the stick or the thick end of the belt, literally. Colombo was known for his quick temper and being violent. Nevertheless, my options were limited.
My father pulled a Houdini and disappeared when I was ten years old. Three years later, my mother was robbed and stabbed to death on her way home from work, leaving me with her younger sister, my aunt Zenobia.
Aunt Zenobia spent much of her time trying to tackle baby daddy number three. It didn’t seem to matter that baby daddies number one and two pissed on her and left. Aunt Zenobia hunted men for sport and was determined to find her big payday. She barely raised her own two children, CJ and Shaquetta, and definitely didn’t want to be bothered with another mouth to feed. I figured adding me to the picture made it difficult for her to pin down another man. Especially since the majority of the men who visited Aunt Zenobia flirted with me behind her back. Yeah, I had barely entered my teens, but my body was very shapely, which made me look mature for my age. Aunt Zenobia was wise on these men, and though she never raised the issue with me, I knew it annoyed her. Either way, I didn’t stick around very long, and by fifteen I was living the life with Colombo.
Rich was one of Colombo’s many runners. Colombo operated out of an apartment in LG projects, but we didn’t live there. Colombo was a follower of Biggie Smalls’s “Ten Crack Commandments” rule number five: never sell no crack where you rest at. I don’t care if they want a ounce, tell ’em bounce.
I had seen Rich at the headquarters, and we would make small talk, but Colombo didn’t like me associating with the hired help. Although I handled the bookkeeping, I knew more than anything I was his dime piece. However, if he ever caught someone admiring me for too long that could’ve caused trouble. Therefore, I kept communication to a minimum. Rich was different though, whenever he came around, he carried himself with respect. His territory and money were always on point and when his business was complete he left. Rich wasn’t like the other runners who sucked up to Colombo, hung around idly, and made excuses for coming up shortchanged. He’s the kind of brother that you can carry to the club one night and a black-tie affair the next. At six feet, two inches, with burnt caramel skin, sensuous lips, silky eyebrows, and lustrous hair to match, Rich put male models to shame. So even though I didn’t say much, my eyes must have said a million words. Whenever Rich came by my heart would flutter and it didn’t help that he was always so nice. All of Colombo’s workers were polite to me because I was his girl. Most of them even had the nerve to proposition me on the low, but I knew better than to ever mess with any of his men. If Colombo ever found out they were disrespecting him he would have popped their dumb asses, but I kept my mouth shut. I could handle myself.
Colombo and I had a bittersweet relationship. The sweet side was he wined and dined me and bought me anything my heart desired. He spared no expense, because he loved to show me off. After all, I was young, sexy, and hot and Colombo knew that if we split the next big-time hustler would be on standby. He paraded me around like a queen. However, he also had a dark side. He was very controlling and abusive to me and his employees. You never knew what or who was going to set him off. He could be in a room with fifty people and even if he never spoke a word to you, he could recollect the outfit you wore, your hair and eye color, amongst other details that the average person may overlook. His memory was remarkable—he could recall numbers, dates, places, and incidents that at the time may have seemed insignificant, but down the line may have had a major impact on his decision to do business with someone. Colombo didn’t take unnecessary chances with his operation and trusted his team to have similar values and common sense. Unfortunately, that wasn’t always the case. CONTINUED HERE
Find the authors at:Twitter: HeWasMyManFirst

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www.hewasmymanfirst.com

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