Welcome to another edition of Melanade, where we feature women of color who are doing great things! This month we are featuring the incomparable Grace Jones!
Sexy! Shocking! Beautiful! Dangerous! Icon Grace Beverly Jones is all of those things and more. She ruled the 80s and is still going strong today. Whether she is tearing up the runway, smoking up the silver screen, rocking the concert stage or gracing us with her loud and proud personality on the tube, Grace is undeniably everything!
A visionary before her time, Grace is still influencing artist all over the globe in 2017. Check the receipts. Rihanna, Beyonce, Lady Gaga and more have her to thank for creating the bar and setting it so high they have something to reach for. Once heard in an interview with Joan Rivers saying she dated twins, she helped break stereotypes that women are not sexual beings.
She unapologetically proved women are not only sexual, but not afraid to ask for what we want. She broke barriers in interracial dating, being from Jamaican descent and dating Swedish twins. Her four year relationship with actor Dolph Lungren was buzzing all over the world. She was also the talk of the town when she starred opposite The Roger Moore in “View to a Kill” as bond girl “Mayday”. And yes, there was a sex scene!
Her career spanned decades proving that she had staying power. My generation remembers her fondly from her role in Eddie Murphy’s cult classic “Boomerang” where she played diva/supermodel Strangé! IMHO that was the defining role to launch her into the stratosphere as the superstar she is in the acting world.
Jones is also known for her music around the world. Her rendition of “Pull up To the Bumper” is still played in heavy rotation. I have never had the pleasure, but I hear her concerts were off the rails!
Grace was never known as the classic beauty according to European standards, but she is edgy and gorgeous just the same. She is a photographer’s dream with the angles of her cheekbones and her squared jaw line. Beauty is not all she possesses. Grace speaks five languages and is an author. Her book “I’ll Never Write My Memoirs” was released in 2015.
She has broken barriers in the entertainment industry, while doing things her way. She never let anyone tell her what she couldn’t do and she thrived in controversy.
When it comes to Grace Jones…
Here’s a throwback to the 90s with the Diva Miss Toni Braxton “You’re Makin’ Me High”. I loved this video for the power switch it represented. There is some major eye candy in this one. Plus it had some of the hottest black actresses at the time joining the lovely songstress. Here we have Toni accompanied by Tisha Campbell, Vivica A. Fox and Erika Alexander.
LWT: How did you get into writing?
ARH: I began writing back in elementary school. I was a military brat, so I was alone a lot. My thing was to hide in bathrooms and write stories. I’ve had a lifelong obsession with journals, so I used to buy them with my allowance. I would then calculate a story, with illustrations, and write so the tale fit perfectly inside. I would either keep them for myself or give them to my friends. Everyone loved them so I asked for a typewriter and the end result: me today!
LWT: In this book you take a silly childhood pastime and turn it into something sinister. How did you come up with this concept?
ARH: That’s a fun story I share; I’m a home school mom who believes in morning walks. When my son was in sixth grade, we took a walk on a rainy day. Normally we stomp puddles, but this storm snuck up on us unprepared. On the way home, I was struck with the idea of stomping a puddle, but instead of making a huge mess of a splash, we fell in. I could see the opening above me, while beneath the rainwater and everything! So we got home and I grabbed my umbrella and camera and snapped a bunch of photos. That day, I wrote the tale in about four hours. The current version has been revamped, but still the original story.
LWT: I read the 2nd Anniversary Edition of ‘Puddle’. Were there any significant changes to this edition?
ARH: Yes I’ve made some changes, that I felt were significant, but only to lend the urban legend more substance. At the time, I was living in DeSoto, MO, which carries a lot of history, both black and white. I wanted to add more into Puddle, without taking from the original myth. Some of the events mentioned are from true, but as far as which ones… I won’t say. “wink wink”
LWT: When I write I have a picture in my head of who I want my characters to look like. Who were the muses for Quinn and Maxine?
ARH: When it came to Quinn, I saw my middle school self, because I was always new. Many times, I was the only black kid or one of a few, as well, so it just worked. I saw a friend of mine named Nicole as Maxine. She and I became besties, years after she’d beat me up for being new. Another crazy story I may share in a novelette.
LWT: Did you allow your son to read this story or was it too scary for him?
ARH: Whenever I decide to write a short story on children, I always want it safe for my son to read. Reading is a huge deal for me, passed on by my engineer of a father, so if I’m writing on kids at a certain age, I want my son to be able to read it too. Thankfully, this one wasn’t bad for him, but he’s not really in to horror… yet.
LWT: I see you have written a couple of Halloween tales. Do you only write short stories for children?
ARH: Those Halloween tales were actually written for my son. He was the inspiration- he’s even on the cover of the In The Walls short stories. I’ve had a lot of friends enjoy them but no, children are not my usual focus. I usually write with New Adults in mind. I guess because that’s how I still see myself. And I’m not!
LWT: How do you choose your book covers and who does them?
ARH: Ever since my first experience with traditional publishing and moved Indie, I’ve always done things backwards. When I get a story idea, I create my book cover. Either I will make it all from scratch myself, or I will reach out to a really fabulous artist I’d originally found on Fiverr.com. Now we’re friends and he’s my Go To man for artwork. I draw it, but he creates what I want to see, like a true visionary.
LWT: Do you use social media and does it help with sales?
ARH: I love social media, but as far as it helping me, I can say about half. By no means do I feel I’m a big selling author, because that’s no why I write. I just love the idea of getting a story out of me and sharing. When I use social media, it helps but I mostly use it to help others. Crazy I guess.
LWT: Tell us about your writing process. Do you need complete silence or do you listen to music? Do you have a drink or write sober? Etc. Spill the tea.
ARH: LOL Spill the tea; I like that! My process is as such: I gain an idea and purchase a new journal. I then create my characters in such a way’ they practically come to life. When I can see them clearly, I have them drawn by my concept artist. I then add their pics to my journal and as I write, they’re either on my computer, beside my document, or open in my book so I can see them. To me, they’re real- conversations, quirks, jobs- I need to see them. I can write any place at any time, on my Mac, iPhone or iPads. I also take lots of notes and add them to the journal. By the time I’m done with the story, that journal is a wreck!
LWT: What challenges have you faced as an indie writer?
ARH: My worst challenge as an indie author was when I took my traditionally published, first novel back from the publisher. It was crazy, I was foolish and I didn’t have the control I was promised. Now, I can do what I wish when I want, and when it flops, I have myself to blame on my choices- not someone else’s.
LWT: How does your editing process work?
ARH: Oh my goodness, my editing process is very redundant. I run through it a few times, making changes. Then I read it again with changes. Then again, before passing it to someone to read. I make appropriate adjustments and read it again. Then I find a team of at least 6, then make adjustments and read again, before sending it to an editor. I then read it again. By the time it’s published, I’m sick of it!
LWT: Please give other indie writers 3 tips that you learned that help you to be successful?
ARH: My three tips are: (1) Don’t ever pay to be published! (2) Make yourself sick of your story by reading it so many times, you can find nothing wrong. Then hand it to others for editing. My final tip, (3) Always keep a thesaurus on hand. It should become your best friend.
LWT: Share one unique thing you’ve done to market your book?
ARH: I believe the most unique method of marketing I’ve ever had the pleasure was marketing inside a comic book. A friend of mine was releasing his first graphic novel, and he gave me a half page, FREE! Best move I ever agreed to.
LWT: Tell the readers the one resource you can’t live without as a writer?
ARH: I’m not even going to lie- my best resource are other authors! I read more than 200 books a year (physical, ebook & audio), and because of their styles, I developed my own. As an author, the best thing you can do is glean successes and mistakes made by other authors.
LWT: We met on Instagram, where you are very active. How important is a site like Instagram for indie writers?
ARH: I am just now easing up on how much I’m on media, but I LOVE Instagram more than any other site. People share and interact more there, than any other for me. Plus, there’s no drama.
LWT: What does success look like for you?
ARH: Oh that’s an easy one! Success is when my mom called me last week stating, my aunt had mentioned to some friends that her niece was an author and stated my name. They said they knew my name and title- even the story’s theme. They’re in Philly! Needless to say, I was elated. To me, that’s the best form of success; someone knew my name and my story. The sales can come later.
LWT: What’s up next for you?
ARH: I am currently writing my first serious novel, as an Indie Author. The Malignant Soul is my toughest project yet, because I have to go deeper than I’ve ever gone emotionally. With a novel of this capacity, I need more description, more personality and more of a plot. It’s a complex story, but I believe my research and imagery will push this novel to great heights.
A. Renee Hunt, Alyssa by those who know her, is a home school mother, London Lover, Book & Funko Pop Hoarder, Tea Drinker, Reader & Reviewer. She lives in the Midwest with her husband and son.To connect with A. Renee please click the links to her Social Media sites below. To purchase her e-book, Puddle, click here to go to Amazon
Author Website: http://www.areneehunt.com
This week I am celebrating the 2 year anniversary of the release of my first novel ‘The Mistreatment of Zora Langston’! I can’t believe it has been 2 whole years since I became an official author.
I will be posting about ‘Zora’ all week and I even have a giveaway I am hosting on Goodreads.com. Click Here for your chance to win one of two autographed copies of my book.
In the meantime Enjoy this animated version of Zora as she tells you a little about the book.
Recently I had a social media encounter with a high school classmate that caused me to pause and take notice. I posted a quote from one of my favorite writers, Maya Angelou, on my page. Here’s the quote:
“There is a kind of strength that is almost frightening in black women. It’s as if a steel rod runs right through the head down to the feet.”
Apparently this was offensive to my classmate who is a white female living in Oregon with a degree from Duke University. Though she usually displays an open mind, this quote caused her to react defensively. She wanted me to know that she knows plenty of white women who are strong. This raised my cockles a little and I took a deep breath before responding. Hey, I didn’t need to come off as ‘The Angry Black Woman’ in this instance. Once I breathed the appropriate response came to me:
‘I am sure you do, as do I. It is not a competition.’
I felt really good about this response and was happy I did not elicit an emotional response.(I’ve been working on that) The reply seemed to neutralize the situation, but I felt the need to expound a little to ensure my friend understood where I am coming from when I post such quotes.
First and foremost I need you to get out of your feelings. When I post something positive about black people it is not a critique of you or your life. I am simply posting something positive about black people.
Why do you have to specify ‘black people’ you may ask? Well it is a huge part of who I am for one. Additionally the reason it is necessary to use quotes and hashtags to uplift people of color is because of the world we live in. Have you ever turned on the TV and simply paid attention to the representation of black people there? Well I have and let me tell you the days of seeing positive role models on the airwaves are long gone. Growing up I could watch such gems as Phylicia Rashad, Debbie Allen, Diahann Carroll, Cicely Tyson, Ruby Dee, Beah Richards to name a few. All of these women were poised and classy ladies. They were a source of pride and reflected positivity for little black girls and boys to emulate. Today we are regulated to watching reality TV with video vixens and baby mamas at the helm. Unfortunately, little black boys and girls see them as the norm and try to emulate them the same way my generation did our heroes. Even the so called educated black female characters on popular scripted shows, though entertaining, are reduced to adulteresses and conniving schemers. I know we should not look to TV for references of positive role models, but who are we kidding? That is exactly where today’s youth looks for inspiration on how to live their lives. It may not be right, but it is reality.
The next point I want you all to understand is that a positive, uplifting message about a black person is not meant to be compared to any other race. It is a statement with no other agenda except to uplift the person being referred to. It can be very taxing to go through life seeing images of people who look like you more times than not depicted as a stereotype. It feels good to read a positive quote or see a post on social media that is meant to make you feel better about yourself. Why is that so hard for others of different races and cultures to understand? You have positive images of people who look like you everywhere. In fact it is the ‘standard’ by which everyone else is judged. Me being positive to myself and my fellow black people has no reflection on you. It is simply something that is sorely needed in this world. And before you argue the fact that if you went around saying ‘white girl magic’ or any other chants, remember you don’t have to. All you need to do is turn on the TV, open a magazine or walk outside to know that you have positive influences that look like you. The moniker is unnecessary for you.
Ok, I am done with my rant. All I ask is the next time you see#blackgirlsrock, #blackgirlmagic or any other saying in reference to a certain group of people, please stay out of your feelings and put yourself in their shoes. Remember, everything is not about you and it is not a competition!
Now back to my long weekend. Peace and blessings to you all and remember…
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