Monthly Archives: December 2008

Make The Dream Happen

Make The Dream Happen
by Pamela Samuels Young

Do you ever fantasize about leaving your current career behind and pursuing something totally different? Perhaps you’ve thought seriously about it for a day or a week, but then the fear of leaving the virtual security of your current job floods your head with dozens of sound reasons why you should stay put.

Whether your dream is to write a novel, start your own business or go back to school, you can make it happen. Here are five tips that will help you begin your journey.

1. Find Time To Plan Your Career Move
With the demands of work, family, church and community activities, you may feel you don’t have a spare moment to even think about, much less pursue, your dream career. You’re wrong. It may not be easy, but you can find free time where you least expect it. The next time you’re taking a neighborhood jog or walking on the treadmill, use the time to mull over the plot for that book you’ve been wanting to write or to think about possible locations for the day spa you’ve dreamed of opening. Instead of listening to your favorite CD during your morning and evening commute, use the time to work on the business plan for your catering business. Even if it’s only an hour a week, use it.

2. Don’t Reinvent The Wheel
You may not realize it, but you have a multitude of resources all around you – family, friends, colleagues, church members, sorority sisters, and even strangers. Don’t be afraid to request an informational interview. People love to talk about themselves and many will be flattered to have someone asking them for advice. The Internet is also an invaluable resource.

3. Join Professional Organizations
It’s a good idea to surround yourself with others who share your interests and passion. There are dozens of professional groups whose sole function is to help their members develop their creative talents and realize their business goals. Find the organizations that can be most helpful to you and join them.

4. Understand That It Won’t Happen Overnight
Achieving your goal will take time. I recently read an article in Writer’s Digest about a writer who received more than 400 rejection letters before getting his first book deal. Now that’s what you call perseverance! There will no doubt be disappointments when things don’t happen in accordance with your time schedule. But if you remain faithful and focused on your goal, it will happen.

5. Ignore The Naysayers
We all know people who believe you should find a good job, work as hard as you can for 30 years, then retire and enjoy life. For them, the thought of leaving a secure, well-paying position for the uncertainties of entrepreneurial life is unthinkable. That kind of limited thinking won’t help you realize your dream. You have decide what you want to do and go for it. And don’t be surprised if you turn out to be your biggest obstacle. When that happens, just look your self-doubt squarely in the face and command it to go away.

So don’t just dream your dream, make it happen!

Attorney Pamela Samuels Young is the author of the legal thrillers Murder on the Down Low, In Firm Pursuit and Every Reasonable Doubt. Visit her website at

Leave a comment

Posted by on December 31, 2008 in Featured Articles


Friendiligence By Sherryle Kiser Jackson

Friendiligence By Sherryle Kiser Jackson

Friendiligence is one of those Internet buzzwords up for consideration to be added to the upcoming edition of the Merriman Webster Dictionary. Google it. It loosely means the time and energy used to establish and maintain friends and friend requests mainly on social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. As an author trying to navigate the vastness of the World Wide Web in order to market and promote my book, friendiligence most surely is an action verb.
It is the type of action that can take the man hours of two full time jobs to complete effectively.

I must admit I haven’t been a very good friend this year, virtual or otherwise, being reprimanded by my oldest and dearest buddy for being aloof and insensitive because I told her about my mom’s surgery in a blanket Reply-All email. I’ve even been guilty of sending condolences in a text message, albeit, a sincere and well written text message. I had to check myself on that one. I would have pressed less characters dialing the ten digit number, speaking the sentiment to a live person and would have registered more sincerity points. I told myself that I can’t be that busy.

Bottom line, the people we interface with everyday in person and those we connect with through the Internet want to be treated like real friends, not spam. It takes due diligence to establish and maintain those connections. As an educator and citizen of the world I’m keenly aware that social skills and a certain amount of tooting your own horn (self-marketing and promotion) is the new literacy. Making connections with people is and will always be the most important skill set for every career path.

My pastor quoted last week that theoretically your less than five people away from getting in contact with anyone. Like six degrees of separation. I contemplated the probability of getting my next novel, The Manual to Oprah’s producers as soon as I get it in galley form. Now, we are talking about people that on any giving day are in between attitude adjustments, reality checks and lattes. There are a lot of variables to take into consideration, but I think we’ve all witnessed a miracle in our own lives when everything aligns, you make that nearly impossible connection and doors open. Even if it only happens about as frequently as a total eclipse.

So there is something to this friendiligence thing. Verizon wireless says your service is only as good as the network your on. I think the key to success is rooted in what you already know about establishing good friendships. You learned it from Grandma. I have compiled a few do’s and don’ts to help you beef up your network.

Choose your friends wisely. Momma didn’t let you just play with anyone. Many of us join these social networks to help build a brand or image. We shop through graphics, 20create slideshows and pimp our profiles to coincide with that image. You can’t accept everyone’s friend request. Do a little investigation to see if the potential friend meshes with your brand, image and values.

Check in. What’s the matter? Did your fingers fall off? You can’t call, email of text a person? I was that person that used my email inbox as a caller id of sorts. I would see that some left me a message on My Space and think to myself, “That’s nice.” Or, screen my messages to see who I wanted to reply to. I figured out that it won’t shave time off my life to comment to a blog post about a new pet or to send out a birthday greetings. Remember it’s about connection. Relationships are reciprocal. I wouldn’t want to be guilty of calling on my friends only when I need something.

Treat others the way you want to be treated. Before you capture gazillion friends or even capture that ma ny email address and inundate them with comments, bulletins and messages like a telemarketer, think about it. Do you like it when you return to your page and find a bulletin the size of Mt. Rushmore on your space (My Space). Similarly, you want other people to get a word in on your wall (Facebook) in between the continuous post of an overzealous cyberfriend. Less is more. Work on a brief constructive response.

Ask for help I admitted my weakness. Friendiligence was kickin’ my butt. A good friend of mine, Ella Curry, internet publicist, and founder and Host of the Black Author’s Network radio show sent me an email this summer that gave me an epiphany. It said that she had some assistants answering her accounts and that she was away from her business for a time and estimated the time she would get back to me. I appreciated the time line. At least I didn’t feel like I was being ignored. I found out later that she had hired some tech savvy teens in her family to help her keep up with emails and requests on her My Space account. I got to thinking about how empowering this was for a young person to be outsourced for certain administrative duties. This wasn’t your typical paper route and lemonade stand gig.

Friendiligence, write it three times and use it in a sentence. I’m sorry, that’s the teacher in me. Social networking sites are not an accidental phenomenon. People are making the necessary contacts to get discovered, to gain exposure, and to stay connected. Friendiligence is not something you can just talk about. You have to be about it.

Sherryle Kiser Jackson is a fresh voice in Christian fiction. Her style reflects an honest commentary on her life with Christ. Soon and Very Soon is her debut novel. She anxiously awaits the publication of her second novel, The Manual, October of this year. Experience her too real to be preachy, Biblically based, out-the-Christian-box fiction at or on MySpace/sherrylejackson.

Sherryle Jackson, Author of Soon and Very Soon
ISBN-13: 978-1-60162-949-4
ISBN-10: 1-60162-949-4
Soon is not just a promised destination, but a journey

Leave a comment

Posted by on December 31, 2008 in Featured Articles


The Spirit of Nannie

The Spirit of Nannie
by LaTonya Branham

Women, beautifully dressed in unison with a common theme, mission, and scripture verse, gather annually at their church – many unknowingly, in the spirit of Nannie. This spirit was actually a vision brought to life in the early 1900s by author, educator, businesswoman, lecturer, and religious leader – Nannie Helen Burroughs from Virginia. Totally committed to the development of women – both young and old – Ms. Burroughs took a bold step in 1901 by requesting that the role of women in foreign mission and job training be addressed by the church. She wanted a more significant role for women and was not afraid to present her vision at the National Baptist Convention in Richmond, Virginia.

One of her accomplishments as the founder of Women’s Day – 100 years later – still exit today throughout many churches across the United States and abroad. We can only imagine the faith and fortitude it took for Burroughs to assert her dreams before a convention of leaders who perhaps looked down upon such a request from a woman.

Even though she is credited for advancing the role of women in the church, Ms. Burroughs acknowledged her own mentors, which included Mary Church Terrell and Anna Julia Cooper. Both of these dynamic women committed their lives to education and social change. Cooper, Terrell, and Burroughs are founders of major organizations. The National Trade and Professional School for Women and Girls founded in 1909 by Burroughs was later re-named in her honor. She also helped to establish the National Association of Colored Women. Ms. Burroughs’ message was very clear. She set out to establish a school and train young women to become contributors to mission projects, earn their own wages, keep their homes in order, and maintain moral values – while committing themselves to a life of service and development of character for all Christian women.

It is easy to become inspired by Nannie Helen Burroughs because she personifies the kind of woman who rejects excuses for not becoming the best that you can be – then takes a stance by articulating and creating an environment where dreams become reality. Of course, life is filled with challenges that often block our way toward achieving our goals – or even ‘just making it’ day by day. After witnessing how we are increasingly so quick to tear each other down rather than building up one another, it becomes apparent that in this day and age, we could use a dose of Nannie’s spirit – not only for women, but for men and children as well. Our children are learning and displaying adult behavior at an earlier age – oftentimes in a negative way. I believe that we owe our children the opportunity to see and experience a better way of life.

Exercising our faith has become more critical because the challenges are mounting – health issues, financial crises, prison rates, family members at war, a lack of education, and morally bankrupt. It is possible to stop pretending that all is well, or acceptable. In my assessment, the era of “anything goes” should cease. We make it harder on ourselves and society when “anything goes.” Ignoring our own needs and the needs of others is damaging – and in many cases becomes irreparable if the result is death. Life was not meant to be that way. Our conduct, our words, and our actions must flow from love. Love for ourselves, our families, our community, and our environment. A commitment to improving ourselves and the lives of others is truly the essence of Nannie Helen Burroughs’ life.


LaTonya Branham is an author, college administrator, and adjunct professor at Central State University in Ohio. Her latest book released December 2007 is entitled Spirit Seek: Words from Scriptures That Transform Your Life. Visit her web site at E-mail can be sent to Her books can be purchased online and wherever books are sold.

LaTonya Branham, Author
CultureSeek – ISBN 13: 978-0-9787296-0-8
Spirit Seek – ISBN 13: 978-0-9787296-1-5


Founding member of the Soul of the Pen

Leave a comment

Posted by on December 31, 2008 in Featured Articles



Niama Leslie Williams, Ph.D.
Copyright March 2008

She is finally getting tired of it, exasperated, dissolving into tears. It has gone past wearing her down; she has begun to wait for the truck that will barrel her down, the semi that will make her a grease river on Main Street. She’d like to flow seamlessly into the little bit of water by Taylor’s on the Olde Mill.

It was the shower that did it. One more morning of wheezing and gasping and groaning in the shower. Cleaning one’s body should not be such exhausting work, but when you have eaten your way to 400 pounds, where can you point the finger? The voices said night before last as she put another dozen in the oven, “cupcakes are not bread,” and you were grateful for that insight, you understood that they were trying to help. You needed that pointed out.

Yes, cupcakes were an improvement over the cakes you had taken to baking once you discovered he liked homemade sweets, sweets period. Then he had to face that the icing was ripping his stomach to shreds, so you stopped buying icing and reverted to plain cupcakes.
You are a gifted cook, so your cupcakes are moist dreams. They melt in your mouth. He laughs about their calling him from the kitchen.

And yes, you were grateful night before last about that bit of vocalized insight, and you resolved to once again bake oat and wheat berry muffins, not cupcakes. Cupcakes for him, but not for you. Because you want this weight off your body and why, for God’s sake, won’t Donna return your calls? If it is a simple matter of Eccoes not wanting to deal with anyone who insists on using their insurance, fine, Donna, say so, but at least have the decency to call and say that. The Health Partners Member Services person insisted that a morbidly obese diabetic who got her doctor to write a knowledgeable letter just might have Eccoes paid for, and I want, I deserve that you and Dr. Feinstein at least try. I deserve at least that the two of you collude and write a decent letter. I am tired of, and cannot do, everything myself.

I balance his checkbook, I spend his money, I pull out all of the stops working at my business the week I have off from substituting, when the money still does not come in I apply for more jobs and more jobs and more jobs.

I am tired of broke. I am tired of no money. I am tired of my locs looking frayed and broken off because I cannot afford regular maintenance visits. I am tired of no lipstick when I want to dress myself up for an interview. Can’t even get together seventeen dollars for one tube of Mac sinful red.

I am tired of wheezing and not being able to reach my crotch and straining and no breath as I try to do the right thing and lotion my body. My poor skin crying out for moisture and I finally treat myself to lotion and get myself to apply it, but this morning, this morning the reaching and the straining and the windedness too much. I don’t deserve this. I don’t deserve to be ignored, Donna. If Eccoes doesn’t want me as a patient then just call back or email and say so and I’ll take my miserable ass to …… Byetta. Stupid me wants to believe in diet and exercise. Stupid me wants to believe that a good diet, a good eating plan and regular exercise will do it. That the cushion of massage and chiropractic and psychotherapy would hold my hand as I embraced weight loss, the concept of a Dr. Niama at 250, 150, not 425. That now with the dissertation finished, the Ph.D. done, I can focus on losing weight, something I never placed in the hot seat before.

I’m lazy. Getting to the gym harder, much harder, than working out once there. The ideal would be private yoga instructor a la the one who used to come to my home in California. That woman knew how to work a large woman out and make it fun, change it up so I never got bored, encourage me when I thought a posture impossible. She helped me feel good about myself.

I can’t even successfully pay for one visit from the personal trainer I was going to work with. Can’t even pull my budget together to pay one $43.50.

I am tired, God. Tired.

I would like to come home now.

Because I realize that Jim isn’t coming, ever; oh, I’d like to believe but why, God? Why when the silence is so deafening? He had eighty years without me the time before and I know that was harrowing, but ten years without him, full of the angst and anguish and longing ….. it’s harder on a woman, God. We are tied into the earth, the seasons, every moan and groan of Mother Nature. We feel it more deeply and it rips us to shreds much, much faster.

I would like to come home now.

I would like to come home and wait for him there. He will probably be afraid, ashamed to face me, his reluctance having brought me once again to the brink. It is merely that I am tired of the alone, tired of the ache, of the wanting. If it is to be a love of the spirit then at least let me love from the spiritual plane and not this earthly one that breeds such palpably empty arms.
I would like to come home now. I don’t want to do the job-hunting thing again. I am tired of trying and trying and trying with my company and people not even having the decency or thinking I matter enough to call or write back.

I am sure Wideman will feel only one small moment of regret that he did not get back to me about The Journey, will probably put me down as oversensitive bipolar who made too much of one kindness at a conference. We sensitive ones, we mystics, even when we pick out and lovingly support, with all of our spirituality, the gifted, are frequently ignored by them. I have hungered too much for acknowledgement, for assistance, for a loving glance. Still want that loving glance from a father, a brother, a lover. This incarnation, not to happen. The Massey is the closest I will get.

I hope I can pass from the Massey without too much of a blip. He’s had enough pain, and I hope he can put me aside without grief or anger or too much investment. I just wasn’t strong enough, Papa, but I will remain grateful for the love you did share. It is my fault, my wayward hoary ego wanting more, wanting complete satisfaction. A job that paid me enough, that would allow us to live without worry or juggling, a job that allowed us to buy a home and one for Kim. I follow your daughter in tears only because I have failed, failed miserably, Ph.D. and all. It is the only thing I have accomplished and puts my failure in grand shocking relief. The failures began once that great mission accomplished. Had I not been interested in learning, had the gift of your fatherly love not delayed this transition a moment or two, I would have missed thinking that love was possible. That satisfaction was possible. It was not for me this time, love from a man of my choosing, but that is not why I leave you, Papa. I leave you, I ask to leave you because the weight and the unsatisfactory employment and the ugliness–the not well kept hair, the not keeping the apartment vacuumed and the dishes washed, the slovenliness in my housekeeping when there was plenty of time and not much house …… I have not measured up in so many ways, Papa, and now, now I just tire of trying.

I have revered the color purple when I saw it, Papa, but perhaps the die was cast too early: the grand sweep of The Temple of My Familiar was always my favorite.

I won’t go by my own hand, Papa, I know God has no love for suicides, but I withdraw from here on in, Papa. I ask my God that if He loves me He end my suffering and bring me home. I asked for much too much this incarnation and not even my ego can cash this check.

Let me go, Papa. Close up shop and head to Monroeville to that daughter and granddaughter you love so dearly. I am a lost cause who was touched by your kindness for a moment. But my moment has stretched too long and the elasticity of my sensibilities has frayed beyond usefulness.

Go forth, Papa. I will smile at you from Heaven and beseech God on a regular basis to give you all that you desire.

Love and blessings,
Dr. Niama L. Williams
Norristown, PA

Leave a comment

Posted by on December 31, 2008 in Featured Articles


Images in Reflection by Laura Major

I participated in the Grown & Sexy with Ella Curry broadcast of the Black Authors Network Blogtalk Radio. Amidst the sexy titles and erotic explorations came real conversations about definitions of sexuality.

· What makes one homosexual?
· Are you bisexual or just a freak?
· Can a person be “on the down-low” and still be straight?
· Why women who experiment with other women aren’t considered gay and men are?

All those in attendance agreed that healthy sexual interest begins with some level of attraction. What interested me most was what wasn’t being discussed. Everyone assumed that finding attractiveness in others instantly leads to sexual desire. That being said, straight people would only remark positively about specific physical features exhibited by members of the same sex in relation to body characteristics they wish to acquire.
In other words, a straight man would not admire the tight ass or ripped abs of another man for the sake of the taut body part itself. It can only be recognized as an example of how the admiring man would like to fix his own self-perceived flaws. Some women on the panel expressed the same for themselves. That part of the conversation struck a chord with me in that we as people should be able to recognize the beauty in others regardless of gender or orientation without sexual desire or sexual preference coming into play.
I am a heterosexual black woman and, as one panel member remarked, I am an erotic person by nature. I can see the eroticism in another female and not desire her in any way. I can recognize what makes her sexy and have no desire to possess her. I can also see the sexual prowess of a man and not want to go to bed with him.
While nothing makes my panties buzz more than a man’s strong shoulders and a nice broad chest, I take pride in the fact that I can appreciate another woman’s beauty without feeling threatened and without feeling less sexy in my own right. I don’t think I am physically perfect, but I realize that there will always be someone taller, someone with a flatter stomach and longer hair.
Once we can all view beautiful bodies of both genders without it defining our sexuality, we will come closer to understanding why we love who we love.
If only it were that simple. As curious children sneaking peaks at Dad’s girlie magazines and as teenagers practicing intimacy with each other, society teaches us to control our urges instead of being a slave to them. Then with adulthood comes the right to pursue those urges, even be consumed by them. Something that was meant to be so beautiful and pleasurable has become so perverted in the search for instant gratification. So much so, we can’t admire the sexual energy of others without calling our motives into question.
The human body and its sexuality should be viewed like a piece of artwork. It should be admired, expressed and appreciated simply because it exists in its natural state. Sexuality which is as old as humanity itself holds only the connotation we assign to it. For some it’s pure ecstasy while others associate excruciating pain in its power to make one vulnerable.
As long as we are obsessed with sex and its personification, happiness with our bodies and our sexuality will remain outside our comfort zone.

Laura Major

Leave a comment

Posted by on December 31, 2008 in Featured Articles


History: Mamie "Peanut" Johnson

Rejection Applies To Only One Opportunity
by author Laura Major

Often rejection seems to be the final answer. In reality, it is just a temporary response. Such was the case in the baseball career of Mamie “Peanut” Johnson. Born in the mid-1930’s South, Johnson developed a love for baseball that prejudice could not extinguish.

At the age of 17, Mamie confronted the obstacles to playing the sport she loved at a time when professional and minor league sports practiced segregation. Since the White Female Baseball League declined Johnson the chance to try out and no Black female equivalent existed, Mamie found her place in the men’s Negro Baseball League. This being the first time Johnson experienced racial ignorance directly, she fondly looks back on its outcome instead of dwelling on the experience itself. She was quoted in an article honoring her contribution to baseball and South Carolina’s Black history, ” If I had played with white girls, I would have been just another player, but now I am somebody who has done something that no other woman has done.”

Johnson’s career lasted from 1953 to 1955, as one of three women who played in the Negro League. She won 33 games and only lost eight. “Peanut” became her nickname when an opponent doubted her pitching abilities because she “…was no bigger than a peanut”. She swiftly struck him out. While her playtime took place shortly after Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier, Peanut’s career quickly evaporated as females regardless of race were not included in major league play.

Mamie went on to earn a nursing degree from NYU and embarked on a 30-year career of helping others at their weakest. Although her baseball career may have ended after only three short years, Peanut Johnson maintained her link to America’s favorite pastime by managing the Negro Baseball League Memorabilia Shop in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

Even though Peanut played ball in an era that did not appreciate her talent on a large scale due to her race and her gender, on June 5th, 2008, Mamie “Peanut” Johnson joined 29 surviving members of the Negro Baseball League in Orlando, Florida where several Major League Baseball teams drafted the former players in an honorary pre-draft ceremony.

Thanks to Dave Winfield and others who respect and appreciate the Negro League’s contribution, rejection was temporary and acceptance is eternal.

Laura Major

Leave a comment

Posted by on December 31, 2008 in Featured Articles


To My Mother by Gwynne Forster

To My Mother by Gwynne Forster

I wonder what kind of woman I would be now if I had had a different mother. I thought about that this morning and thanked God for the one I had for most of my life. I say most of my life, because she was an inspiration even in her death.

I was born a middle child and, somehow, I expected less and got more. More, because even in my independent ways, I paid careful attention to what my mother did and said. Early on, I was impressed that what she did and what she said were totally congruous. She lived the life of a Christian and, from her, I received a legacy of faith, integrity and strong moral values. She believed in the work ethic, and taught us that a person who would not work would be capable of theft and dishonesty, that we should do to the best of our abilities whatever we agreed to do and for whatever we were paid. To her, theft meant more that snatching something and getting away with it; you stole if you accepted pay for something that you didn’t do or didn’t do well.

I’ve often said that I wish I was as nice a person as my mother. And that is true. Although a leader in her church and community, a teacher and school principal, this never seemed to impress her. She loved people and met some of her closest long-time friends at the bus stop and at the supermarket. Some of them hadn’t finished high school, but she said they didn’t have her opportunities and had done well with what they had.. In her late seventies, she took “the old folks” as she called them grocery shopping in her car every Wednesday morning. The neighborhood children loved her, and volunteered to run errands for her. Of course, she rewarded them with goodies that she loved to bake.

Her faith in people surpassed any that I’m likely to have. Well into her seventies, one evening in late autumn when darkness had already set in, Muz, as we called her, drove to the supermarket for something, parked in the parking lot and headed toward the entrance. A young man stopped her and said, “Lady give me those car keys.” She looked at the switch blade knife, then at him, threw her arms around him and said, “Son, don’t you have a mother?” The unfortunate young man, wrung himself out of her clutches and said, “Get away from me, Lady.” “But son,” she persisted, “What you’re doing isn’t right.” He ran. My siblings and I begged her never to do such a thing again, but she said. “He has a mother, and he obviously cares about her.”

If I have talent as a writer, I probably inherited it from my mother. She wrote the first fiction that I ever read. At age seven, I found a short story on her desk or some other place that now escapes me. The title, THE DREGS OF THE CUP, intrigued me, and I read it. I wasn’t sure how she’d react to my having done that, but she asked me what I thought of it, and when I said it was too short, she seemed very pleased. One day, I am going to write a novel suitable for that title.

Muz loved to laugh, and my fondest memories of her are of her laughing. I used to come up with all kinds of antics to make her laugh. It was a lovely, musical sound. I remember distinctly times when I told her one joke after another to keep her laughing. Mind you, the jokes were squeaky clean, or I cleaned them up before I told them. One Saturday when I was about seventeen or eighteen, I went with my church club on a picnic, pitched baseball for a few innings and, the following Monday, I was forced to go for therapy to improve my injured shoulder. In all truth, the very next Saturday, Muz went to the same place on a picnic with the choir to which she belonged, pitched nine innings of softball, won the game and never had one pain. Obviously, that made me the butt of family jokes.

I haven’t mentioned my father, because this is about my mother. But given the chance, I could say some wonderful things about him, including his exquisite singing voice, a little bit of which rubbed off on me. Celebrate Mother’s Day 365 days a year!

Gwynne Forster
Author of:
Getting Some Of Her Own
Drive Me Wild

Leave a comment

Posted by on December 31, 2008 in Featured Articles

%d bloggers like this: