The Craft: Author vs. Writer

So my good friend and fellow novelist, Corruption author Amaya Radjani, recently penned a most brilliant piece about when a writer becomes an author based on a previous discussion she and I had.
You should definitely stop by and show her some love.
By Amaya Radjani
During a discussion with Denny Upkins, author of Hollowstone, the subject of what we do came up, as it tends to since we’re both published authors. The text of the conversation is as follows…

Me:  “I understand how refreshing it is to connect with like minds.  It’s rare.  Ankh and I are storytellers, which is why we get along so well.  Through her, I met you, and you’re a wordsmith just like us.  It’s so great because we can talk about certain things.  I wish I knew more real authors like us.  I know plenty of writers, but very few authors.”

Denny:  “Girl you ain’t never lied. One of my friends was talking about this.  She’s critiquing my next novel and she stated something that really struck a chord. She said she loved critiquing me because my objective is to tell a great story and not be known as a great writer. Because there’s a huge difference.  I think with us, we’re working towards something more meaningful in our narratives which is why we strive to be great authors because we’re serving an ignored audience that is black women, women of color, POCs and LGBTQs.”

Me: You’re so right.  So right.  Soooooooo right.  I’m more concerned with telling a balanced, solid story than I am with being portrayed as a good writer.  The second can’t happen unless the first does.”

To which Denny co-signed.  This was also a subject addressed in part on the Blasian Narrative as well.  I also discussed this to some extent in my interview At the Bar. After Denny’s and my conversation, I decided to define for myself the difference between an author and a writer.  Now, under no circumstances am I an expert in anything, but I am qualified to express my opinion on my blog.  You may disagree, and that’s fine too. Educational discourse is always welcome.

An author begins as a writer, but then somewhere along the line, the vision changes and becomes all-encompassing.  I knew I was going to be an author by age eight because I saw my name on the spirals of books, and I could imagine what my book covers would look like, and even who would be my publisher (Viking, Scribner, Random House…hey, I was eight).  I illustrated my stories and bound them in 3-ring binders or loose pages glued together with rubber cement.  I included copyright pages and stuff like that because I studied books by other authors.  It was about the story, but then it became about the story and letting the world know about it.  I knew that it would happen one day and I never had a moment’s doubt.

But it was always the story itself, first and foremost.  How to make the words on the page match the images in my mind?  How to interpret what I was seeing into the vocabulary (albeit extensive) of a kid?  How to finish what I started?  How do I end it?  How do I end it?  How do I end it?  These aren’t easy questions when you’re a novice.  You want the words to be perfect when you first put pen to paper. It just doesn’t happen that way.   Nor will you pen a 250-page novel your first time out.  As with all things, the key to getting better is consistent practice and learning who you are as a writer.  I kept writing (and reading) to improve my overall understanding of how to tell a story to completion, and all I wanted to do was get better and better at keeping up with my muse; who if I allow free reign, will always see me through to the end.

Don’t be afraid to solicit feedback, but make sure it’s from reliable sources.  You’ll want to find someone willing to edit your work, and here I stress the need to find another writer who’ll do it (especially if it’s reciprocated).  Do not be afraid if the feedback isn’t positive.  Feedback is essential, and people need to understand the nature of it.  When I wrote my fanfic, I got a lot of “good job, keep going,” responses. I also got a lot of, “This is horrible; you should never write again,” replies as well. Those comments do absolutely nothing for authors.  We have to know specifics: what’s good about the story, what’s bad about it, things of that nature so they can be addressed. And negative feedback is still feedback.  The reviewer may not have liked what we wrote, but what we appreciate is when they can tell us in detail what it was they didn’t like, and what they did like.  Such commentary is what gets us to our next book.  And for authors, there’s always a next book.

The point here is to keep writing, keep practicing, keep making attempts to get better, including doing research on your subject, characters and plot specifics. Writers write what they know, but it is a measure of growth if you make serious attempts to move out of your comfort zone.  For instance, I never wrote anything other than black women paired with black men because that’s what I knew.  But I branched out and wrote a Blasian novel, and I learned so much; enough that I know I’ll continue down the Blasian path, as well as branch out into other genres like steampunk, mystery, sci-fi & dark fantasy. It requires a wealth of research, but the endgame for me is always a solid, readable novel, and so it’s worth it.  You also need to know the audience for which you write because everything isn’t for everybody.

To this regard, I’m also making a concerted effort to branch out with character orientations.  Never have I read a novel with a LGBTQ protagonist, and Denny assures me that there are very few books (good or bad) with such characters.  I’m heterosexual, and I’m always concerned about authenticity in my storytelling.  My characters believe in having sex, and so intimate encounters are a legitimate concern of mine.  I know that I can do it, but research and time are required to make it believable.  The last thing I want is for a LGBTQ consumer to read my novel and say, “A straight woman wrote this shit.”  The last thing I want for anyone reading my novels is to question their authenticity and/or call them shit.  So best believe I will use every resource available to get it right, including, but not limited to, conversations, interviews and reading books by LGBTQ authors.  I’ve also made a serious attempt at writing slash in some of my fanfic, and have been mightily encouraged to keep going by fans of the genre.  Baby steps, y’all, baby steps…

Another topic is the issue of book covers.  Before I talk about this, I have to make an important point; one which Denny pointed out.  Authors who sign with standard publishing houses typically do not have control over the cover their book receives. The author is at the whim of the publisher, who may decide to use an absolutely horrendous cover that does no justice to the book itself.  The idea that someone else can decide how my book is presented to the world horrifies me enough that I will strive to always maintain creative control.  For those of us who self-publish, this is completely possible.  So I will limit my discussion on artistic book covers to us.

There is a continuous debate on the Narrative about book cover quality.  Since a lot of people (me included) decide whether we want to read a book based on its cover, it behooves the author to produce a quality book jacket.  It’s not enough to photoshop random images and throw up a title…what you oftentimes get is a hot visual mess that detracts from what may be a really good story.  Take a look at some of the book covers on the Narrative and you’ll see what I mean.  Denny has also touched on this very same topic.  

When I invest years into the writing of a novel (Corruption took a year; Blade Dancer, 2 ½; In the Pale Moonlight, 3), I will not slack off by getting a weak-ass jacket to wrap my baby in.  I will invest money into getting a beautiful and appropriate cover by a professional graphic artist or a superlative art student.  If you’re a true visionary, you already know how you want the book to look and this last part is fairly easy.

Under no circumstances am I dissing writers.  Absolutely not; I started out as one. As far as I’m concerned, the internal switch that turns a writer into an author does not go on for everyone.  And there is nothing wrong with writing for yourself, which I think most writers do.  I’ve met quite a few who are honest about their desire to write for themselves and only themselves.  They haven’t made efforts to publish because the endgame for them is seeing the story in their head put to paper.  I’ve also met writers who claim to be authors, but are not serious about the craft.  They produce stories, but can’t handle constructive criticism about their work, even though they’ve put it out there for others to read.  They haven’t made strides to protect themselves.  When I ask about specific attempts at novelization or publication, I always get some kind of bewildered or bullshit expression; as if penning the story itself takes care of everything, including sales of the book. Again, somewhere within, that switch hasn’t yet turned on, or probably won’t.  Being an author is about far more than just writing a story.


Web Media

I’ve come to the belief that web media is the future of entertainment. With each passing day television is getting more and more irrelevant, especially with the continued subpar storytelling and whitewashing which has alienated countless fans. Web media is also more efficient as you can get a full story in an episode or short film which on average runs between 3-10 minutes. That’s ideal if you’re at work and between meetings or waiting to pick up your kids from school.

While I don’t think televisions should be getting thrown out of windows just yet for being obsolete, web media has definitely put the entertainment industry on notice. We’ve witnessed this with many television shows now being shown on the web and more than a few web shows getting network deals.

Web media has also come a long way in such a short amount of time. In addition to Sanctuary and Web Therapy, I’ve also discovered some excellent gems such as Sorority Row, Pink the Series, and It’s A Mall World among others.

We’ve also seen the unprecedented success of shows such as the Guild and Doctor Horrible.

Now while most web shows are far from perfect, one has to give credit at what these storytellers have accomplished with virtually no budgets or resources in comparison to Hollywood media.

When my buddy Ankhesen Mie forwarded me this recent article from Racialicious, I was immensely excited to discover there was quite a number of POC-centric web series out there, many of them sci-fi/fantasy.

For the past few weeks I’ve researched many of these shows and upon doing so I learned about many others. I then learned about some LGBTQ web shows that also caught my attention.

Some of these shows I previously knew about, others I learned through research, others I just happened to hear about in unrelated paths in passing over the last week or so. Of course at this point in my life, I don’t believe in coincidence.

So why did I compile the seemingly never-ending POC/LGBTQ web media post?

  1. It’s fun.
  2. I’m a firm believer in supporting marginalized media.
  3. I want to create a library for others who are also searching for quality marginalized and progressive media as well.

And here we go:

Osiris-  “Osiris” is a new 10-episode indie scifi/thriller web series featuring gritty crime fiction, espionage and the supernatural. 

The series follows the title character Osiris, a man with an eternally extended warranty on life. He can never die. If he’s shot, he comes back. If he’s stabbed, comes back. Even if he’s blown up, he comes back…in exactly 37 minutes, every time, in excruciating pain. This has been happening for over 300 years. 

He’s become a cocky, tough-as-nails, suave womanizer that treats people like dirt because everyone he’s known eventually dies. All except for one person, his great great granddaughter, Paula. She’s one of the few people that know of his unique gift of immortality. She’s also one of the only people that can keep him in check. 

As the series begins, Osiris is tasked to track down a missing witness in a federal murder trial, which not only unravels a conspiracy but also unveils clues to the true nature of his eternal life. 

Thus far I’ve been impressed with the series. The production is polished and the acting and writing is solid (for a web series). The sexy and suave Brad James owns as the titular character and I’m hoping the show continues to improve.



Ktown CowboysKtown Cowboys is a story about John Kim (Lanny Joon), a young Korean American from Richmond, Virginia, finds himself transplanted to Los Angeles’ Koreatown. Having been recently dumped by his girlfriend and with no immediate job prospects, Johnny is taken under the wing of his cousin Jason (Shane Yoon) and a motley crew of partyhoppers who are dedicated to having a good time. The cast includes Bobby Lee (MADtv), Justin Chon (Twilight), Danny Cho, Bobby Choy, Lanny Joon, Peter Jae, Sunn Wee and many more Asian Americans in the entertainment industry.

I was honestly not expecting to like this show as much as I do. The series premiere had a great hook, the characters were organic and the story (and the accompanying laughs) were solid. My best friend and I stayed in Ktown when we visited Los Angeles so this series definitely brought back fond memories.

A Demon’s Destiny: The Lone Warrior– A Demon’s Destiny: The Lone Warrior is a “Live Action Anime” web series created by Devin Rice. Full of martial arts and energy beams, the show revolves around Kennedy, a half-demon set out to save the world from the Demon Invasion. Will he and his two human companions be able to stop the end of the world? Only time will tell.

As creator, executive producer, editor, writer, director and star of the 20-ep series,  Devin Rice and his hustle are to be commended. This show is clearly a labor of love. The series was inspired by anime, particularly Dragon Ball. In fact, according to the official web site, the series was created to show Hollywood what could be done with a story like Dragon Ball with a no budget.

To watch this show, you definitely have to put on your B-grade camp goggles. I’m talking Black-Scorpion/ The Guyver/Mighty Morphin Power Rangers/Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters From Beverly Hills/the original Tomorrow People/we have no budget and it’s worthy of Mystery Science theater B-grade camp goggles. So if you can roll with that, you’ll be fine.

It’s heavy on the special effects and the cheese factor and it’s clear that Rice and company decided to get together one weekend and film this series.

It has some solid martial arts scenes and overall the series is pure escapist fun.

And somehow even without a budget, it’s still light years better than Dragon Ball Evolution. Oh yes, I went there.

Robert Townsend’s Diary of a Single Mom– Diary of a Single Mom is a web based original series that chronicles the lives and challenges of three single mothers and their families trying to get ahead despite obstacles that all single mothers face, such as childcare, healthcare, education and finances.

I had a heard a lot of good things about the show, and from what I saw of the first couple of eps, it definitely holds true. Robert Townsend does a good job sharing the struggles of these three different women and it was refreshing to see a struggling black heroine not be demeaned and dehumanized. Unfortunately in this day and age that seems to be asking for too much. I’m always glad to see actress Monica Calhoun doing her thing. I definitely plan to check out the rest of the series.

Episodes can be found here:

Los Americans Los Americans is an eight-part series that focuses on a multi-generational, middle-income Latino family living in Los Angeles. The Valenzuela family deals with many issues facing American families today, including: unemployment, cultural identity and alcoholism. 

Starring Esai Morales, this series definitely has a lot of promise. I’ve only caught the series premiere but from what little I saw, I was most impressed. Superb acting, solid writing, it’s clear they’re definitely building towards some powerful drama in the coming eps. Some of the eps are going to be heavy, I think this is a show worth watching.

Episodes can be found here:

Venice the Series– [courtesy of Wikipedia] Crystal Chappell is known for playing Olivia Spencer on the long-running CBS daytime drama, Guiding Light from 1999–2009, and for her role as Dr. Carly Manning on Days of our Lives from 1990–1993, a role she reprised in October 2009. 

Chappell, along with help from her writing partner and co-producer Kim Turrisi, decided to create Venice: The Series when, in 2009, it was announced that Guiding Light would finish after more than seven decades and, thus, the romance between Chappell’s character, Olivia Spencer, and co-star Jessica Leccia‘s character, Natalia Rivera Aitoro, would end. The popularity of the couple, also known by the portmanteau Otalia prompted Chappell to create a web series so that fans could continue to watch the romance between the two play out, albeit with different character names and storylines. Although Chappell’s character in the show is an openly gay woman, the show is not a “gay web series” but rather a show that “embodies all kinds of people, with all kinds of issues”.[3]

In August 2009, The New York Times published an article about the Otalia storyline and fans’ reaction to it, as well as information about Venice: The Series

Ms. Chappell’s ability to mobilize her online fans will help the promotion of “Venice.” Since setting up a Twitter account in May 2009, she has amassed more than 30,000 followers, robust compared to her soap peers. Ms. Chappell’s online territory has no fewer than nine Web destinations, including the Twitter accounts of her former producing partners, Ms. Turrisi and Ms. Royaltey (both who left the show to pursue other creative endeavours); “Venice” Facebook and Twitter pages; Ms. Chappell’s Web site, and Facebook pages; and her series site,

This series has been crazy popular and doesn’t appear to be losing momentum anytime soon. In 2011, it won the first Daytime Emmy winner for Outstanding Special Class Short Format. It’s a well executed online soap and if you’re big into romance, relationships and drama, I think this show will definitely take. I applaud Ms. Chappell for using her resources to provide a great story for queer women and I wish her and the series all the success. Also, proceeds from the show will go to various charities. More info can be found here:

Disappointing Gay Best FriendMikala Bierma is a little disappointed with her gay best friend Tyler Coates because he basically refuses to be her fashion accessory. This series brilliantly illustrates the nonstop BS that gay and queer men have to contend with when we, oh I don’t know, expect to be treated like human beings. And with friends like these who needs conservatives. Pro-tip: If you have engaged in any of the fails called out in this video, you sincerely need every square inch of your ass kicked. STOP IT.  While the show is brilliant in calling out homophobia and heterosexism in a hilarious manner, I personally had to stop watching as it was too triggering of past experiences with dumbasses and I was about to go into a violent Red Lantern rage. That said, you should definitely check it out.

Dominion- I’m a detective by nature. It’s not just my job. It’s what I do. And the worst thing you can do is arouse my curiousity, even if I think it might just get me killed.

Jeremiah Grey

Dominion is a dark tale of mystery told in the classic detective noir style. It features a rich world of supernatural creatures who live side by side with humans… our own world. They prefer to stay in the shadows, the stuff of legends and myths. But one Private Investigator is finding out that sometimes the truth is more dangerous than the myths they hide.

This show had a lot promise but unfortunately it spent more energy on the build up with mini-episodes than actual episodes. I would’ve enjoyed a solid 3-4 ep miniseries and get a full story than 2 dozen mini episodes that ultimately went nowhere.

Eeazy- “What Do You Fight For After Losing Everything”? “How Far Would You Go To Uncover The Truth”? Take a journey with Eeazy and Chadwick as they try to find a killer.

I’m still watching the eps but thus far I have to say this gritty urban crime mystery drama has heart. And a little heart can go a long way in storytelling.

 Lumina-  LUMINA is an original web series written and directed by Jennifer Thym and starring JuJu Chan, Michael Chan and Vince Matthew Chung.  Filmed on the RED One, the nine part web series is a dark, densely woven fantasy set against the sparkling backdrop of Hong Kong.

Lumina Wong is beautiful but works far too much; although she lives in a city of millions, she still feels lonely and isolated. Late one night, Lumina has a chance encounter with Ryder Lee, a handsome young man from another world that she can see in mirrors and darkened window reflections.  She revels in the fantasy relationship until mirrorspy Eben Sanchez comes into her life, warning her of the treacheries of the people of the Dark Realm.  Soon Lumina must choose between the safety of the world she knows and the deadly allure of the unknown.

This is hands down one of the best web series I’ve ever seen, period. My hat goes off to Ms. Thym for creating a dark and enchanting modern day fairytale. While the first episodes lay a lot of groundwork and buildup, plot twists commence around eps 6-7 and more than once I wore my WTF face while watching.  The miniseries ends on a pseudo-cliffhanger but at the same time it provides enough closure that you don’t feel cheated.


Daniel Cloud Campos– I first discovered this sexy and talented actor/dancer/choreographer playing the role as the mysterious bad boy the Ilister in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Like many of his fellow LXD cast-mates, I discovered that he had more than a few projects under his belt including these amazing short films that you definitely want to watch.

Most of them can be found here:

Among them include:

Welcome Home

The Paperboy

The Rain Dodger

And the four part Mysterious Case:

Mysterious Case pt. 1

Mysterious Case pt. 2

Mysterious Case pt. 3 

Mysterious Case pt. 4:  

Like Mike

The Music Box

Wong Fu Productions– I happened upon this independent production company while researching Harry Shum Jr. (don’t give me that look) who stars in a few of their short films. They’re definitely worth checking out.

3 Minutes– As if being on the hit series Glee and the League of Extraordinary Dancers wasn’t enough to keep Harry Shum Jr. busy, in addition to doing some pieces with Wong Fu Productions, he also starred in the short 3 Minutes, earlier this year.


3 Minutes-


Alas, not all web media is created equal and the following are a few series I simply could not abide and felt the need to give warnings to avoid at all costs.

12 Steps to Recovery- I really wanted to like this show and the premise was really promising. I was feeling the show until I got to episode 2 where they created a trans female character and used her as the butt of jokes. It would’ve been one thing if this was used as an opportunity for the main character to learn and grow and it illustrates why she’s human, but whole “ewww a dude touched me” bullshit was too much bile to deal with. Fuck that noise!

Husbands The Series- I had hoped that once Will & Grace and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy went off the air, we’d be rid of offensive homophobic queer minstrel shows. Looks like someone is working overtime to bring the fail back. DO…..NOT…….WANT!!!!!

This show had me seeing red and as pissed off as I was, I was even more heartbroken. Jane Espenson is the creator of the series, and as a woman whose work I’ve enjoyed and respected over the years, I truly expected better from her, especially in regards to representing gay men in a positive light.

Drama Queenz- ……………no……………just……………no……..


Moving on…..

Status Kill- Imagine being obsessed with/addicted to social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Imagine allowing said obsession/addiction to interfere with your day job. Now imagine that your day job is an assassin. Oh yes this series goes there.

Aptly labeled the World’s First Social Network Action Hero, this three-part series was laugh out loud hilarious as it pulls no punches in mocking the social networking culture. If you’ve ever been active on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Myspace, Livejournal, etc. you will definitely appreciate the inside jokes. The writing was sharp, the production was impressive, (I was impressed by some of the eye candy featured from some of the hit men) and star Ayinde Howell delivers with priceless timing and charm.


Mortal Kombat: Legacy– We all know the story of Mortal Kombat. If you don’t, that’s okay. Google is your friend. However the creation of MKL is a story in itself. Kevin Tancharoen directed a short film entitled Mortal Kombat: Rebirth which reimagined the game’s story in a realistic way. The short film got considerable buzz and a lot of fan support online. While Warner Bros, turned down the proposal for a new movie, they greenlit the web series, Legacy.

Coincidentally enough, a new film has been green-lit and Tancharoen has been hired to direct.

This popular franchise as well as this series features multiple characters of color in leading roles, including my man Michael Jai White holding it down as Jax. Season 1 is available on Blu Ray, DVD as well as iTunes or you can watch below:

In Between Men– Four successful All-American New Yorkers who live in the gay world but don’t belong to it. This drama explores how they don’t relate to the cliches and trappings that often come with being gay.

The show is not perfect but it’s doing a lot of things right that you rarely find in gay media so it definitely has my attention. There are actually POCs that are prominently featured and I was pleased to discover that one of the main characters is actually biracial which is huge because in gay media, the racism and whitewashing is rampant. I also liked the fact that one of the characters is bisexual and that actually gets explored. The storylines are solid and they laid a lot of excellent groundwork in season one and if they continue at the rate they’re going, they can only get better. I look forward to seeing season 2 when it’s released. This show made me a fan, and given how critical I am of quality queer media, that’s saying something, a lot actually.


ROSA the MovieROSA is an epic sci-fi short film that takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where all natural life has disappeared. From the destruction awakes Rosa, a cyborg deployed from the Kernel project, mankind’s last attempt to restore the earth’s ecosystem. Rosa will soon learn that she is not the only entity that has awakened and must fight for her survival. The short-film was created entirely by young comic-artist Jesús Orellana with no budget during a single year.

There are just some things that words don’t do justice to. You just have to see it for yourself.


Dead Fantasy– is a series of fan-made CGI short action movies created by Monty Oum (author ofHaloid), starring a cast of characters from the Final FantasyDead or AliveKingdom Hearts and Ninja Gaiden game franchises, fighting it out against each other battle royale-style in a number of different environments, including archaic ruins and modern cities.

I was blown away by Montyoum’s work and I became a huge fan of the series. Fair warning, his stories have a cheesecake fanboy feel as far as the female characters go. That said, his animation is fluid and the fight scenes are incredible. Definitely recommended as are his other shorts including Haloid: a Metroid and Halo mashup.

Legion of Extraordinary Dancers–  The LXD is an online adventure. It’s a live action comic book series that bends genre like whoa. It’s dance: be it ballet, jazz, tap, B-boy, it’s acrobatics, it’s extraordinary. You can see influences of Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers and Gregory Hines in some of the performances. However most of the dancers have stated that their biggest influence and inspiration was Michael Jackson.

Not only was I floored by the series but the story behind the series itself. A web series about a group of gifted characters who discover they have amazing abilities through energy known as the Ra. Think a high quality, epic, operatic Heroes, only with an excellent plot, without the fail. The Justice League of dance might be a better description.

The plot evolves with each episode and Chu and company get more artistic and creative with the cinematography themes, composition, etc.

The series went from internet sensation to global phenomenon, primarily through word of mouth. People believed in the project, people want to see our stories and talents shared, they have also proven that diversity = success. All of the choreography and stunts are real; no special effects, no wire work, no green screens. I’m also proud to support this series because 50 percent of the sales of the official LXD t-shirt supports the work of the Invisible Children, a cause that’s personally dear to me.

The LXD is also proof of two things: Web series are the way of the future and that diversity when done right garners success.

The LXD, has a multi-ethnic cast and has consistently dominated as the most watched series on Hulu. Paramount executives have pointed to creator Jon Chu’s use of Web 2.0 and social networking (not to mention a quality product) as setting the standard and being a game changer in reaching a mass audience, execs can only dream about.

Seasons are available on DVD as well as iTunes, Amazon, and Netflix streaming.

HIGHLY RECOMMEND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And here we are.

And if you have any POC or LGBTQ web media recommendations, by all means list em and I’ll be more than happy to check them out.

Occupy North Pole

Sick of the holiday season? The rampant consumerism? Society’s greed? And everyone acting rude and obnoxious jerks and embodying everything that goes opposite of what this holiday season is supposed to be about?

Well we have a movement for you. It’s called Occupy North Pole. We’re taking on the one percent that gets ignored: Santa Claus.pitiful wages to the poor tiny elves, his rampant discrimination of minorities: reindeers and misfit toys alike. We say that Mr. Claus has gone too far.

My girls Sisterspooky and Jesterwitch are joining me in this as well as Scrooge, the Grinch, Rudolph, the Misfits. We’re also briniging in the big guns: Jack Bauer.

Oh yes big man, you’re going down!

But wait! There’s more. My man Skeletor is getting in on the action and he’s about ready to turn this Yule out.

Who’s with me? OCCUPY NORTH POLE! Let’s make it happen!!!!!!

Reading Past Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer


As a minority, I always found something unsettling about the story of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. Even as a child, there was something off about the “moral” of that story.

I attended Catholic school between the third and the fifth grade and with the exception of two Asian students, I was the only POC in our entire class. Let’s just say at 8 years old I received a brutal crash course in racism and we’re going to leave it at that.

Each year we would watch the animated classic of Rudolph. There was always something disturbing about the story, until last year when I came to the epiphany that the tale is a metaphor for minority plight.

You see Rudolph represents the Other (insert minority of your choice). An individual who was born different from those in power. And rather than being respected as a peer, he was ridiculed, denigrated and kicked off the North Pole.

Where Santa was and why he didn’t check the bigots is beyond me.

I could also use this opportunity to point out that my affinity for Rudolph’s BFF Hermie should’ve been my first clue that I drove stick (perfect hair, different, a misfit, elf, oral fixation, cute blond, just saying), but that’s another discussion for another time.

We all know the story about the foggy Christmas Eve, Santa asked Rudolph to lead his sleigh and save Christmas with his bright red nose, Rudolph does so and he finally wins “love” from the other reindeers who accept him for the same thing he was discriminated against in the first place.

Two things come to mind for me.

1. Personally I would’ve told Santa which part of my red-nosed anatomy he and the others could kiss. And with all of the hatred and humiliation he endured, he would’ve been well within his rights to do so. I’ve discussed this before with others and in response I was told “he would need to get over it,” “stop being so sensitive.” Not unlike what was told to me and other blacks during the Prop 8 Fallout when the LGBTs were ready to continue throwing away valuable resources towards making gay marriage the END-ALL-BE-ALL issue and expecting blacks and other POC queers to fetch & step for them.

2. I think that’s part of the problem. Bigots and the privileged majority have gotten accustomed to marginalized people “rising above” and getting over it. We’re not supposed to be upset when we’re discriminated against. We’re supposed to just take it. We’re not supposed to speak up or speak out because that’s wrong. Maybe Christmas should be canceled and kids are disappointed. At least that way people will learn that there are consequences to bigotry.

The other thing that comes to mind for me is I can’t help but wonder did the other reindeers accept Rudolph because they realized they were wrong or because they realized he could be of use to them? Because if that isn’t the minority metaphor, I don’t know what is.

You see when you’re the other, you get treated as a pariah until you prove yourself as an asset worthy of some modicum of respectability. You’re an icky colored unless you’re exceptional in sports, can dance and rap and sing, or your culture is features martial arts, anime and ninjas. You’re a dirty perverted homo unless you willing to offer fashion tips. Or if you’re willing to be the gay pet/fashion accessory to your cis heterosexual white female friend. Or unless you’re willing to allow your identity/culture/sex life to be appropriated and pimped out to fuel the fetish of some crappy fanfic slash writing fangirl.

From Rudolph’s plight we learned that when you’re the Other, you’re treated as inferior only until you prove yourselves as actually being superior and an invaluable asset, then and only then, if you’re lucky will you get treated as an equal……maybe.

Funny the things we learn from cartoons.

By Dennis R. Upkins

Review: Corruption

Synopsis: Mahogany Carroll is a unrepentant cougar; Jordan Yoshito is a precocious cub. Jordan’s struggling with finding his way in the world, and Mahogany’s struggling with needing more than just great sex. Mahogany likes her men young and Jordan prefers his women experienced, thus the relationship they enter is supposed to be no more than temporary. But people have a way of leaving their mark on one another long after encounters have ceased, and these two are no exception.
One of the things I like about this story is that while this is a romance novel, the characters are real, flawed, complicated, and organic. Both Jordan and Mahogany are people who I would know in real life.
One thing I enjoyed about Mahogany was that she was a strong woman who never lost her strength or edge once she fell in love or had sex.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen that trope played out with female characters, ie: they can’t handle their emotions or that other sexist bile.
Even later on in the story when she faced some serious challenges which would’ve broken most, she soldiered on and you couldn’t help but respect her.
Her relationship dynamic with Jordan was also refreshing and unique. Mahogany was the dominant one in the relationship and was still feminine without being emasculating or a ball buster or the other sexist pitfalls that happen to too many female characters. Jordan was the laid back one who was the beta in the relationship but he was still masculine and was his own man. In short, it was refreshing to see Mahogany portrayed as an unapologetic dominant powerful woman in a positive and respectful manner.
What’s more is that Radjani explains why both characters have the demeanors and outlook on life that they possess.
Another thing that was refreshing was that neither character was looking for a significant other to “complete” them or fix their flaws. Both had successful lives and were living them well and this is a story of how an unexpected encounter with two extraordinary individuals can enrich each other’s lives in a most profound manner when neither expect it.
One could argue age and socioeconomic status but I don’t think those were really factors. Both characters were strong enough in themselves not to allow themselves to be easily influenced by said factors.
Radjani also uses this novel to give a voice to black women as she tackles issues about what they want and what they’re looking for. Too often in the media, black women are on the receiving end of rebuke and denigration and everyone has an opinion and hardly anyone asks black women their thoughts on their lives and their existence.
In Corruption, Radjani makes no apologies in shattering myths about what black women (and for that matter women in general) want.
Women enjoy food. Women like to have sex. Women like to have a lot of sex (as the novel illustrated time and time and time again). Women like to play video games. Many women don’t want to get married. Some women want to get married. Some might be open given the right guy and the right circumstances. Some want kids. Some don’t want offspring under any circumstances. In short, what women want isn’t that different than from what men want.
I also love the escapism. It was nice to read a story about intelligent black women who are successful and prosperous and well cultured. And ultimately that’s not fiction. That’s reality. There are legions of beautiful successful black women who are rocking their careers and enjoying their lives.
While the ending was bittersweet, to me it was fitting and it made sense. I won’t give anything away but it went back to some of the other themes throughout the book: sex, food, love, relationships, romance, friendships, video games, the arts, career, the past, the future: LIFE.
Corruption was ultimately about life. Living it to the fullest, never taking a moment for granted and appreciating every moment of it.
Slim page count and a fast read, Corruption is definitely a novel worth checking out.