Tag Archives: celebrities

How About We Continue “The Fiction Talk.”

Blog2018People applaud Proctor and Gamble for their commercials “The Talk.” The television show Blackish devoted an entire program on “The Talk.”

What you should know about The Talk, is that parents from the majority culture in the United States, will not have The Talk with their children. So, those of you, who don’t know about The Talk, find out at the links above, after reading my article.

For me, The Talk also hits home when it comes to fiction writing. I, often, include what I call “The Fiction Talk,” extending it beyond the words on a page.

At my university, the students in the Graduate Fine Arts program, are predominately white. Therefore, I find myself as the lone author in a writing workshop, for example, attempting to enlighten the students, who think The Talk in fiction, is off-putting or offensive. Attempting to explain, why I choose to demonstrate in some of my writing (depending on the character), why police, for example, profile African Americans. And although I am writing fiction, based on real life statistics, it contrasts their view of an “Officer-Friendly.”

What inspired me to also touch on this topic, is an article I read: Start Here: How to Get Your Book Published. There was a clever diagram in it, offering a snapshot of publishing categories, with a variety of sub-categories. The information promoted mainstream avenues. There was no mention of subcategories such as multiculturalism, urban fiction “dubbed street literature or gangster literature” fiction. Neither LGBT, or multigenerational for that matter, received a mention. Nothing wrong with that. There are authors who don’t want to be pigeon-holed. Book sellers do not classify my work under niche categories, but I have The Fiction Talk, like other authors, who do not feel compelled to shelve their work under niche categories, to have or not have, The Fiction Talk.

We live in a country divided by culture and race, despite some fiction authors claiming readers do not want to hear about it—claiming it does not exist. Much like the current White House Administration (Unnamed because I refuse to give them a voice) and their supporters. Writers expanding their words beyond mainstream ideals, must be more courageous and outspoken, keeping The Fiction Talk in the forefront. It is our right.

Publishing today can be a gamechanger, if you find the right avenue that works for you. Publishing is broader and includes more than adding self-publishing to the list. Given the additional sub-categories mentioned above, they do deserve a mention. Readers are very diverse, like writing, and reflect society of today. There are some readers, who hunt for titles, listed under their niche interests. I know a Lesbian woman who says she purposely looks for books labeled under an LGBT category. There are commercial publishers interested in these types of fiction categories. Authors may opt to choose one because of the difficulty obtaining a mainstream publisher; they may want to proudly display culture, opposed to following the lead of publishers, wanting manuscripts that assimilate culture, rather than tout real-life diversity.

There is a variety of ways authors can represent The Fiction Talk, for readers hungry to understand what all The Talk is about. Wanting to learn how to be more tolerant, rather than jump to defend. As determined writers, it is our passion to inspire understanding. That is why the title of this blog is: How About We Continue the “Fiction Talk.” A statement, not a question.

In truth,

Amani Shakhete

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Authors mustn’t stop dreaming

Remembering the old days. Sitting alone in a room – being a hermit of sorts – smashing out the next word on an old fashion IBM with no backspace, using paper or liquid white-out. Ugh! Or how about writing out an untold drama, in long-hand, on lined-paper, hoping like hell you don’t make too many errors because you made the mistake of writing in ink. Cause it looked nicer or would not fade as easy as in pencil? Who knows. From day one, writing a book in high school never to be published, was something I cared more about than almost flunking Algebra – only dad cared about. Okay, so maybe that is too far in the past for some. But, I have not forgotten.

Fortunately, authors now have far more resources to “write and write well (Connolly).” We don’t have to be hermits. We cannot afford to. If we are lucky, we have fulltime jobs to finance our professions. Us authors still struggling to brand ourselves. Unlike the well-established ones who can afford my favorite meal – a T-Bone Steak, Shrimp and Lobster with white wine followed by Cognac—Courvoisier preferably.

We must dream and dream big. Do so knowing that we do not have to live the life of a starving artist. Rather, live life and use it as the backdrop for more great stories. Take time to immerse in a good book; chat with fellow writers in virtual meet ups.

You are not alone in this great big universe of infinite words, waiting to inspire us toward the next great big book deal.

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Omari Hardwick’s 200 tweets “stop talking about my wife.” Isn’t that excessive?

When it comes to all the bad news in general, or hoopla surrounding today’s celebrities, I rarely hear about it unless my daughter sends me a link to a story. I sigh when I take the time to read or skim through ’em. I want to share my thoughts on many, but I barely have time to work on my fiction series, which I feel is more important. At least among those pages, I can speak my truth through my characters. But I will take time to share my thoughts on the Omari Hardwick story about fans screaming about his new wife because it brings up angry feelings for me but not in the way that you think.

When I first read the story and Omari Hardwick’s responses, I said to myself really? What is all the uproar about, especially, coming from Omari Hardwick who felt he needed to send out 200 tweets to defend his right to marry who he chooses? 200 tweets to tell everyone to either “shut the fuck up” or “stop talking about my wife!” Well here’s to you Mr. Hardwick – boohoo. I hope you are over it. We all know that this is a cruel world full of cruel people and when you are in the public eye you can expect to get trashed sooner or later. Just ask our first black President Barack Obama who gets cursed out the minute he wakes up; his black kids get trashed and his beautiful black wife Michelle isn’t immune. Many in the public call this black woman ugly, an angry black woman and everything else but a child of God. However, both Bo and Mo have handled the public scrutiny and cruelty with style and grace. So, Omari Hardwick, if anything, you should have broke-out a bottle of the best champagne (y’all can afford it) and toasted your wife and said “Well honey welcome to sisterhood. Now you know what it feels like to be a black woman!”

Uh-huh. The public has been rather unkind to a black woman’s looks, saying we don’t meet the grade unless we look like Beyoncé. I brought up this subject when Michael Jordan married his white wife and 6,000 people took to Yahoo to talk about how ugly, stanky and worthless black women were and that is the reason black men no longer wanted to marry them.  Well you haters on Omari, if you think his wife is ugly, then looks are not the reason black men don’t marry black women.  When you get right down to it, black women have taken the worst heat when it comes to perceived beauty in this country. The disgusting remarks by those invisible chatroom assholes piss me the hell off. Y’all know if you came out in public, you wouldn’t dare say anything because you’d be setting yourself up for a beatdown.

Frankly, I was surprised that anyone made such remarks against the new Mrs. Hardwick. She’s white. Generally, black men are applauded for marrying white women regardless of what people perceive to be beautiful. I know people think Jordan’s wife is fine. I still can’t see it but hey, that is another topic indeed: “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.”

As for Omari Hardwick, he has the right to say what he wants. But I hate to say this “celebs.” The folks talking don’t give a damn. They could care less about your responses, which Omari’s no doubt came straight from his anger and emotion. Hmm. Surprises me that Hardwick’s wife, who is a publicist, didn’t tell him to chill for a minute and respond later with some sense. I read some of Hardwick’s comments and they didn’t make a bit of sense to me. Some of what he said may have been important, but it may be all for not.

In that vein, as a PR person, I have to remind myself what to say to the public and how to say it when they piss me the hell off. In my world, when I am not doing Amanishakhete, I am publicly attacked and still talked about in the newspaper in association with former companies I’ve worked for or headed. My attorney, I keep on retainer, tells me to stay cool and refrain from engaging with the public, trying to defend myself, my choices or my work. It’s a waste of time unless it is a clear case of defamation. Then we get paid. Well I haven’t been that lucky – yet.

So, meanwhile, I guess the lesson here is how best to respond. Or maybe not. Or maybe just keep it short and sweet and say, for example, STFU (shut the fuck up). Or wait a day or two and respond with grace and candor like the President. Beyoncé learned that lesson quickly after she told her fans to mind their own business after her sister went off on JayZ in the elevator. She must have heard me telling her off all the way from Wilsonville. After all, the fans in her business, made her the almost billionaire she is today. Immediately, the next day, she came out with a much eloquent statement no doubt written by her PR team who had to remind her she’s a public figure who’s still getting paid big money.

Yep. Celebrities are human too. But being a public figure has its downfalls. Things haven’t changed since I learned about the plight of public figures in High School Econ and Political Science (umpteen years ago) and how those attacking public figures have the right to exercise free speech. We can spend our time shouting back at the free speech haters, but what good will it do? It may make us feel better, but in the end what a waste of time. I’d rather just get paid.

Meanwhile, I have 4 words for those who hate this post or who want to talk about my future boo who may end up being a white man ’cause unlike other sista’s I ain’t waiting for another brotha who may never come along, or one who thinks you should marry him just because… My 4 words are WGAF “Who gives a fuck!” At the end of the day, I still plan to watch my man Omari on the new series Power on Starz (new season starts next summer). He’s quite nice to look at and that ass speaks volumes. I know his wife is having the time of her life. Frankly, I’ll take looking at Mr. fine Omari over rapper 50 cent any day. So Omari, stay cool. Next June is a long time coming.

In truth,



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Will African American fiction authors get the credit they deserve?

This is a blog I wrote a few years ago; however, it is still relevant. Things have changed since then like I now live in Atlanta, GA. And this series so far has three parts under the series title “The Tippy Ellis Story.”  You can find her on Amazon.com and a host of other bookstore retailers. 

As a new author to the fiction world, I am amazed at the wide range of talented black writers in this industry. Many authors we’ve heard of Carl Weber, Terry McMillian, Alice Monroe, Tony Morrison, Walter Mosley but numerous authors have yet to be acknowleged or celebrated.  For example, if you search for African American authors on-line at Barnes and Noble the results will come back with over 3,000 titles. Amazing huh?  Yep, black folks have passion for much more than basketball, singing and hip hop.

From what I’ve seen, even the most popular black authors rarely grace the front pages of major magazines or mainstream news. Seemingly, we have to fight our way to the forefront – to be seen – hoping to be heard and applauded for our works.

We have passion for what we do. Our individuality inspires great writers with great stories, offering ideals from a variety of black experiences beyond your typical street and hip hop literature, which appears to be growing in popularity – this is of no surprise.

Perhaps me being synical comes from living in a city called Portland, Oregon where blacks are 2 percent of the population if that. We usually get recognized if we commit a crime or if we belong to a closed niche group of black folks who the major news outlets recycle, making it sound like only a handful of black folks are doing good deeds, doing  great things.  I guess we can be grateful for our black media. But in my experience the geographical reach of black media, depending on where it is, is smaller. Further, the welcome mat doesn’t come easy and often expect to go unnoticed unless, of course, you already have the word celebrity attached to your name, or you know so and so at the corner store or church. There are exceptions.

So what advice is there for new black authors on the scene or for those interested in joining the long list of names already in the industry?

I’ve spent the past almost year writing my first novel, the first in a series, Diary of Tippy Ellis “Mama’s Daughter” and opted to self publish after having a focus group of early readers review the final draft. Inspired by my own life surrounded by often tragic circumstances, the Diary received raving reviews. I’m also a marketing and branding professional by trade so I am fortunate to have skills to self promote. Yet, I’ve found that introducing myself to the fiction world isn’t easy.  So far, I’ve been met with resistance and the money train is nearing empty.

To get the credit we deserve? I guess I have to rethink what that means. Change my blueprint and adhere to my mission for this series, which is to “Give young black women a voice” and to keep the spotlight on violence against women.  Both are crucial causes worth fighting for. Hence, I don’t need credit for that but the drive to continue the movement. Onward to part two.

In truth,

Boss Amanishakhete, author and Word-Soul artist

Trailer:  Diary of Tippy Ellis “Mama’s Daughter” by Boss Amanishakhete

Atlanta and Portland provide backdrops for a dynamic story about Latonya “Tippy” Ellis – 17 and black – who battles the pressures of drugs, alcohol and sex, while coming to grips with past family secrets. Through dealing with the trauma of murder and violence, Tippy learns to navigate the gauntlet of close friendships, love and life.

Diary of Tippy Ellis “Mama’s” Daughter” is currently on-line at Createspace.com and Amazon.com (paperback and kindle)

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