Saturday, April 18, 2015

Thank You Essence Magazine For Your May 2015 Cover

Today, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the May 2015 cover of Essence Magazine which features five black women; Shonda Rhimes, Debbie Allen, Issa Rae, Ava DuVernay, and Mara Brock Akil.

1. accept or admit the existence or truth of.
2. (of a body of opinion) recognize the fact or importance or quality of.

I posted the above photo on Instagram with this caption:

When you realize a huge hole in your being has been filled by this moment, this cover, this inspiration because it's basically the cover, the inspiration you've wanted and needed to see (for so many reasons) your whole life. It might seem like a small thing but just seeing this image of hope and accomplishment and so many things from these black women means so so much to me. It's affirming in a way I can't fully explain but I'm so happy about this cover. Also, side note, I totally spilled 1/3 of the coolata on my bed by mistake so...

So in an effort to elaborate on the above, let's start with the first definition of acknowledge. When I saw this cover, it hit me like a ton of bricks that I love me and accept all of me just the way I am because I am Psalm 139:14 and if the younger version of me could see me now, she would be absolutely astonished. She would wonder how I did it. Because I wondered for so many years what it would be like to be a white woman with thick, long, flowing hair, with privilege, and with so many other things (all of which is a lot to unpack individually so I won't go into all of that). Long story short, I wasn't comfortable in my own skin and couldn't fully see how blessed I was already.

Which brings me to number two. When I was younger, I didn't see in the public eye many pillars of inspiration that were reflections of me (black girl) which, whether you like it or not, is actually very significant and important because of the influence the media has (on children especially). It was hard growing up as a writer with no black women writers on my radar because I didn't have a general image to look to in regards to seeing how to do it right, what to do, what not to do, etc... and everybody doesn't need that. In fact, I didn't even think about it back then and as I got older, I didn't think I needed it because I was enough, I pushed myself, and I had my head on straight and I just knew that I was going to make it and the thing is, I still believe that I will but the problem is there's simply too much "I" in my way of thinking. These women on this cover have done so much for so many others and that selflessness and compassion and kindness and genuine acts of simply being there for this community of black women and diverse storytelling's humbling.

This cover... it's what I've been missing, what I've been waiting for my whole life and I didn't even know I was waiting. It shows beautiful, strong, hopeful, passionate, patient, persevering, selfless, accomplished black women and as soon as I saw it, a voice in my head told me this is my reflection and isn't that such a wonderful thing? Yes, indeed it is. It's everything.

So much so that it's difficult for me to accurately put into words how much or all that it means to me. Just know that the peace of mind that flowed over me was all consuming when I saw this cover. It was the aha moment that I didn't know I needed. A moment I thought I had already dealt with in my heart only to discover that I had only touched the surface.

In Delirium: Love Lessons, I talked about fear. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of asking too much. Fear of failure. Fear of failing at love. And so many other things and I had to read that post again when I saw this cover because it's all part of the same puzzle for me. The puzzle in which I'm constantly trying to fit the pieces where I think they should go and tossing the extra pieces away that I think are trickery but really I'm only tricking myself because I've realized that I can still love myself and not accept all of me and wow, isn't that a troubling thing when you're trying to grow and you're fixing and tinkering with the wrong parts? It can be so damaging when I'm condemning myself (without even realizing it) instead of convicting or neither when it's not even needed which is why I am writing this to acknowledge the damage that's been done and refuse to allow more to be done. What I can control, I will and what I need to surrender, I will. I am so ready.

Yes, I knew these things before but something about seeing these women on the cover of a magazine made it really click. And I know that if it clicked for me, it clicked for someone else. And part of me wishes I had sat down earlier in the week to write this so that I could tweet this message #TotheGirls but I'm here now and I want to tell you, reading this right now, that you are enough, you matter, and you are here for more than yourself, you really can touch the world, even moreso when you're coming from a place of love and isn't that so beautiful?


P.S. earlier this year, I started a list of Black Screenwriters on Twitter so if you know anyone that needs to be on this list, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. Thank you.

Friday, April 17, 2015

TV Talk: Week in Review '14 - '15 #30

Reviews for Spring TV Shows Which Aired
April 12 - April 18, 2015

* New series in CAPS
* Reviews May Contain Spoilers

Note: Due to time constraints, I will not be reviewing the final season of Lost Girl but I do have thoughts about it. For now, all I will say is... Kenzi!!!

Once Upon A Time (ABC) - Episode 4.18 "Heart of Gold"
While I wasn't enthralled this week, it was quite fun to see how far the Wicked Witch will go, how far everyone will go for what they want and/or need, whether right or wrong. So I definitely can appreciate this episode, it just wasn't something I'd bring up at the water cooler.

The Last Man On Earth (FOX)
Episodes 1.09 “The Do-Over” and 1.10 “Pranks for Nothin’”

In the first episode of the night, Phil asks God for a do over and right after his shallow request, he comes across two ladies who introduce themselves as Gail (Mary Steenburgen, Justified) and Erica (Cleopatra Coleman, Neighbours). Of course, Phil immediately thinks about what this means for him not the greater purpose and he thinks this is his do over. Why one earth he'd think he could actually start over at this point is beyond me. He's already cemented his new beginning with Carol, Melissa, and Todd. Any other people are just adding to the mix, not erasing it. I was not happy with Phil for lying to Gail and Erica. That was pointless. Selfish. And immature. But that's Phil. What I loved though was that we saw him struggling the entire time, knowing that his lies were wrong. So, he knew what he was doing wasn't right. That he continued to dig himself a whole was mind boggling but acceptance is the first step and he's acknowledging so next he just needs to accept.

In the next episode, Carol tells off Gail and Erica in the most hilarious way possible. #HussyPie. Throughout the episode, Phil comes to the conclusion that wow, he is a compulsive liar and is quite selfish more times than not. It was great to see him come clean to the group about his missteps. Hopefully this is a good deed of his that we see more often. Or moreso hopefully he doesn't put himself in situations where he is so dishonest period ha ha.

Photo Credit: Jessica Miglio/FOX

Gotham (FOX) - Episode 1.19 "Beasts of Prey"
Fish plotting her escape from the Dollmaker was without question, the absolute most exciting part of this episode. Ahh! It is so exciting watching her in this powerless predicament as she does everything she can to make this not so.

Meanwhile, Gordon and Bullock were on a case involving a serial killer played by Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes) so that was exciting! Always love seeing my Heroes cast pop up in other shows that I watch. I believe it's a three episode arc so I'm looking forward to seeing how this continues to play out.

Finally, Bruce and Selina had their own thing going on but all I remember is Selina pushing a guy out of a window because Bruce couldn't find himself to do it himself. Killers being made. Selina and Bruce conflict always, please and thank you. Solid return!

Scorpion (CBS) - Episode 1.21 "Cliffhanger"
Oh man, this episode didn't quite do it for me but I did love the conflict between Walter and Gallo though it does make me nervous about Gallo's future. Is this just a small tiff? Or is this setting up for Gallo's departure from the team and maybe even the show? I haven't heard anything about the actor, Robert Patrick leaving the show so it seems to be more of the former than the latter but who knows what the future holds for Gallo. I'd rather he stay, so hopefully this is just a small tiff. Only time will tell!

Photo Credit: Syfy

Face Off (Syfy) - Episode 8.14 "The Dream Team" (Season Finale)
Read my review of the season finale here.

Arrow (The CW) - Episode 3.19 "Broken Arrow"
Wow! What an episode! They really had us thinking that Thea was a goner there! The thing is, the preview for next week takes away the worry. I wish they hadn't shown so much so that the uncertainty would still be unsettling. I mean, she could still be dead but now I don't take the threat of that so seriously because it seems she might come back in some way but then again, the preview for next week could be misleading. After all, The CW is good for that. But even if Thea really does die and doesn't come back...flashbacks. There are so many. So, agh I'm not sad right now because I don't know how to feel thanks to that preview for next week's episode. Talk about conflicted! I need next week's episode asap! Also, it seems Roy is leaving Team Arrow. I'm not all that sad about that but I'm sure I'll feel the hit in the first few episodes without him. Though I'm sure an even better sidekick will come along soon enough. What do you think?

The Middle (ABC) - Episode 6.20 "Food Courting"
It's so hard to believe Axl is 21 already! Time flies! It was heartwarming watching Mike try to bond with Axl over this momentous year. Meanwhile, Sue has a new job offer, go Sue! And Brick was give Frankie heck. Haha. Get it? Heck?! Ha ha ha anyway, it was funny! I don't love this attitude Brick but it was bound to happen at some point! I wonder how the writers will handle this moving forward. I hope it's not too much! After all, I still want to enjoy Brick haha. What do you think?

Photo Credit: ABC

Grey's Anatomy (ABC) - Episode 11.20 "One Flight Down"
Meredith and Arizona's memories of the plane crash are triggered when a small plane crash prompts a busy day at the hospital and I absolutely loved the way that this was handled. Arizona finding out who really cut her leg off and why it was kept from her. The new kids finding out about Meredith and Arizona's plane crash trauma. I loved the relaying and fangirling there. Ha! Then there's Owen and Amelia who are having a relationship tiff. Blah. Boring compared to what else was happening in this episode. Am I right or am I right?

The Vampire Diaries (The CW)
Episode 6.18 "I Could Never Love Like That"

Stefan and Caroline's humanity are both still turned off and if you've been following my reviews, you know how hit or miss I feel about the performance of no humanity Caroline. This week's performance? This was a hit. It was the best portrayal of no humanity Caroline by far. Anyway, Stefan and Caroline's current state left Tyler and Matt in quite a predicament! But that wasn't even the oh snap moment! The big moment for me came when Damon brought Lily, his and Stefan's mom to no humanity Stefan. Ha. Wooo! Cue Stefan's humanity being turned back on! Nothing like a mother to set you straight. Which. Eek. I heard it as soon as I said it since Caroline's mother has passed away. :(

Meanwhile, Elena has thoughts when she finds out Jo is pregnant. And by thoughts I mean the I wish I were human again thoughts. Oh, Elena. Knowing that Nina Dobrev is leaving the show this season, I feel like this is setting up for her turning human again (and maybe dying? Or would that be too much?) so I'm interested in seeing how the rest of this story line plays out for her. Anyway, I also loved Enzo's origin story this week. Great episode here. Job well done all around as per usual!

Scandal (ABC) - Episode 4.19 I'm Just a Bill"
"We may be on different sides but at least you've become a worthy opponent. Bravo, Olivia. Bravo." - Rowan

I love that Susan (Artemis Pebdani, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) is as we see, the only person in office who is actually there for the people and not the game of politics and she puts the President in his place reminding him that that's his job. I also really loved Olivia's case this week and and and Olivia's father asking her to take him on but B613 justice is all Liv is about. And now Jake is dead?! Ahhhh!!!! I was not expecting that! And I'm completely okay with that actually. But he died and the stakes have been raised significantly once again. I am so pumped! There are only 2 episodes left until the finale ahh!!! Great episode and now great suspense as we don't know who could be next! Everybody is Rowan's target and anybody on Team Liv could be next!

Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/The CW

THE MESSENGERS (The CW) - Episode 1.01 "Awakening"
Solid series premiere here! I wasn't won over by the cold open but once the inciting incident played out, I was way more intrigued and then the climax had me itching for more and then the wings...what!!! Angels! Yes, please! I love a good angel story and it's been awhile since a good one has been on TV. That's the moment when I decided that I was in for this show. The wings.

Also, I want to point out that I love how the messengers are of various ages, genders, & from such different walks of life. Go, diversity! The CW is so good at diversity, I love it. Now I couldn't tell you a single name of any of the characters on the show but I do feel myself connecting to them and I like the direction their journeys are heading and the execution of such (give or take 2 things that I won't get into to stop the rant before it begins) so I'm looking forward to episode two and seeing how this show grows each week.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Blog Tour: All The Rage by Courtney Summers Review

Today, I am so thrilled to be a stop on the St. Martin's Griffin Blog Tour for All the Rage by Courtney Summers!

If you're new to the blog, I became a Summers fan after devouring This Is Not a Test. Zombies! Yes, please! The sequel, Please Remain Calm recently released which I absolutely loved. As soon as I put that book down, I was itching for more Summers. I'm actually not a huge contemporary reader but I was compelled to read anything and everything written by this woman so...

I then read Some Girls Are which absolutely slayed me. I then read Fall For Anything, at which point it was clear that anything I read by Summers will indeed be a punch in the gut.

I am highly anticipating reading her debut, Cracked Up To Be later this year as it's the only book written by Summers that I have yet to read! Recently though, I read her latest release which is just as beautiful and haunting as her past work so if you're a fan, you know what you're in for and if you're new to Summers, welcome to this psychological war zone. Beware of the mines ahead.

All the Rage by Courtney Summers
Release Date: April 14, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Genre: YA Contemporary
ISBN: 9781250021915
Source: Received E-ARC from Publisher
Add it to Goodreads

The sheriff's son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything-friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy's only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn't speak up. Nobody believed her the first time-and they certainly won't now-but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.

With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women in a culture that refuses to protect them.

Like Courtney Summers's past work, All the Rage is a must read. It's honest and disturbing, and at times, unsettling. It's so honest, you guys. So open. Talk about no holds barred. Summers writes what needs to be written, what needs to be talked about, what needs to be faced and I am just so grateful that this book exists because it's such a reflection of so many people's stories and voices that need to be heard because these voices and these stories matter.

We follow Romy on a journey as she loses so much but in all of it, she doesn't allow others to take away her dignity and on top of that, she fights to make sure another girl keeps hers. She refuses to be pushed into the shadows and be silent. I love that in all of this, Romy in fact, has so much (a healthy family dynamic, a part time job, etc...) but the measures of man don't equal the measures of the heart and Romy is still lost in this world and dealing in so many ways. There's more ways than one to kill someone's spirit and I love that in All the Rage we get to see the battlefield Romy fights on to keep hers alive. We see who is fighting for her and against her too which is incredible because even Romy is quite taken aback when she realizes who was behind her, fighting for and with her the entire time.

I love that the quote above talks about Romy's independence, how if she were just a little bit more financially stable than the average teen, she could move on. But I love even more that with all Romy has and doesn't have enough of, or have period, she still moves forward and she's smart about the moments when she is still and quiet and the moments when she speaks up. She's fighting the fight and seeing her do this just brought on so many emotions on each and every page.

One of my favorite elements to a Courtney Summers novel? The characters. They are always such well crafted, three dimensional characters that sit in my head for so long after reading and these characters here are no different. I love how such little acts such as painting nails turn out to mean so much. The character depth is simply beyond. Every single action a character makes matters and means something and is such a vulnerable part of that character and it's beautiful.

All the Rage is a realistic, painful story about rape and rape culture, grief and growth, loss and gain, denial and truth, privilege and responsibility, and so many things and it's all so wonderfully executed. All the Rage embodies everything that makes this one of the most powerful, possibly the most powerful book I will read all year. This book is so important and I hope it finds its way into your hands soon because it's a piece of work that everyone needs to read. #TotheGirls, this one is for us.

All the Rage by Courtney Summers is available now on Amazon, B&N, Books-A-Million, IndieBound, Indigo, iTunes, Google Play, and Kobo.

Be sure to check out Courtney on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

TV Talk: Face Off Episode 8.14 "The Dream Team" (Season Finale)

Photo Credit: Syfy

Champion Teams:
Team Rayce: Adam, Anthony, Rob, Logan, and Regina
Team Anthony: Kelly, Alan, Ben, Daniel, and Jamie
Team Laura: Darla, Julian, Emily, Gregory, and Stephanie

Check out last week's review here.

Exciting times!!! The season eight finale!!!!! Emily, Darla, and Logan were the final three as the finale of Face Off kicked off! The entire eliminated cast came back (whoa!) to help out the final three on the huge spotlight challenge ahead. The final three got to chose their teams as it normally goes. Darla picked Rob, Anthony, Stephanie, and Daniel. Emily picked Adam, Jamie, Kelly, and Regina. Logan picked Julian, Gregory, Alan, and Ben. Ahh! It was so exciting to see everyone back! I missed so many of these faces!

The final spotlight challenge? Host, McKenzie Westmore told the final three that each team had to create a team of four characters that could star in a new team movie franchise. Wow. Talk about a challenge! First on the to do list? Genre picking since world building is key here. They each chose a number though and then the genre appeared so it was random. Emily's genre was post apocalyptic. Logan's genre was sci-fi. Darla's genre was fantasy.

Then, they all had one minute to choose ten words from a board and five minutes after that to come up with a title. Darla's fantasy title was The Spirits of Eden. Cool. I totally buy that. Emily's post apocalyptic title was Paradise Reckoning which was a post apoc version of The Wizard of Oz. This concept did make me think of the book, Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige which was great if you haven't read it. Anyway, Logan's sci-fi title was The Fortress. Eh. Boring title but everyone can't come up with killer titles, so...moving on!

For the big reveal, the characters were displayed at Universal Studios Hollywood theme park and visitors picked their favorite characters. Daunting, party of seventeen. So, I was most excited to see Darla's creations's Darla but if we're talking genre, I was more excited to see what Emily and Logan were up to, especially Emily. And we also all know that this entire time I've been rooting for Team Laura so Darla and Emily also had an edge there.

Okay, the reveal... I absolutely loved, loved, loved two out of four of Emily's characters and the other two were definitely solid. I thought that all of Logan's characters were solid. And I loved, loved, loved all of Darla's characters and wanted her to win. The public's favorite team was Darla's as well. And the judges had nothing but good things to say about all of the characters though of course, without question, ended up choosing Darla as the winner! Yay!!! Yessss!!! I am so excited! Darla won a whole lot of Alcone makeup, $100,000, and a 2015 Fiat 500 car! Congratulations, Darla! I am so happy for her! Congrats, Team Laura! What an amazing season and what a great triumph! And already, I am super psyched for season nine. And I'd be lying if I said I also wasn't thinking about what the show is planning for the big season ten because they've got to be thinking about it, right?!

An all new season of Face Off returns in July on Syfy.

Monday, April 13, 2015

20 TV Series, Movies, & Documentaries I'm Excited to Watch on HBO Now

I move a lot with my family and when we do, sometimes we cut down on premium channels. In the recent move, we cut down so I haven't had HBO, Showtimes, etc... for a year which is why I was excited when HBO Now launched last week!

So excited that I've gone through the roster and made a list of all of the TV shows I'm looking forward to catching up on/watching for the first time as well as movies and documentaries I'm anticipating watching soon.

Feel free to comment with what you plan on checking out! May I suggest, Edge of Tomorrow and Wishful Drinking if you haven't seen those yet!

Okay, here we go!

TV Shows
Flight of the Conchords
Game of Thrones
Six Feet Under
True Detective

The Book Thief
Dallas Buyers Club
Jacob's Ladder
Jersey Boys

Casting By
Citizen U.S.A.: A 50 State Road Trip
Gloria: In Her Own Words
Going Clear: Scientology

What are you excited to watch on HBO Now?