Thursday, April 24, 2008

Flying Solo

This weekend we are embarking on a brand new adventure—hey what would life be without something new and different?

On Saturday we are each doing a solo appearance. That’s never happened before!! But there were two events we wanted to be a part of. After wrestling to make a choice we decided to ask each group if they were willing to host one of us. They agreed. So Donna will be in Galveston, TX for the 2008 Sisters Sippin’ Tea Annual Reunion, and Virginia will be at the 13th annual Much Ado About Books festival in Jacksonville, FL. We flipped a coin to decide who would go where.

And we can’t tell you how strange we’re anticipating this to be. Yes, we are both perfectly capable of boarding a plane, catching a cab, reading and speaking in complete sentences. But we have been making appearances together for 11 years. We make speeches, sit on panels, do TV, radio, newspaper and magazine interviews together. The same way we write. Side by side. But Saturday we will be—one-sided? Lop-sided? Half-sided? Definitely not half-hearted.

Those who have seen us “do our thang” say we finish each other’s sentences, that one picks up where the other leaves off and that it is a seamless presentation. We don’t even think about it because it’s what we do. But what will it be like this weekend when we are each alone, without the other half of our brain and our voice? Will we leave a sentence hanging in mid-air because there’s no one there to catch and toss one back? Will one of us forget an important part of “our story” because we won’t have a prompt or cue to lead us there?

One thing for sure is that everyone who attends one of our solo Saturday events and gets their book signed will have a rare item—there are very, very few books out there signed by only one of us.

Now the good news is that this will all be over by 7PM Saturday night—whew! when we meet up in the Atlanta airport and get a flight to Washington/Dulles for our Sunday afternoon luncheon with the Lambda Kappa Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority in Herndon, VA. We’re looking forward to it—both the event and the rendezvous.

One thing for sure—it’s gonna be interesting. We’ll let you know how it goes....

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posted by DeBerry and Grant at 10:06 AM 1 comments links to this post

Monday, April 21, 2008

Who you callin'_______?

A friend of ours was driving to church in Mt. Vernon, NY on Sunday, looking forward to her weekly dose of inspiration. She passed a woman riding her bike. The cyclist apparently felt in some way threatened by our friend’s car and she yelled, “You motha fuckin’ ass nigga.” Our friend was stunned. What was there to say? All she could think to do in response was honk her horn.


But later that day, she called a friend who lives in Atlanta to commiserate. Her friend had had a similar experience. While driving her BMW this woman was passed by a white woman driving a Taurus. For no apparent reason the woman shouted out the window, “Take your nigga ass back to Stone Mountain.”

Now, some people would try to say the word “nigger” no longer has the same hurtful, hateful snarling connotation that it used to. That it’s just something people call each other, like buddy. That these two white women might have hurled the same words at another white person whose driving they had a beef with. To that we say, GET REAL. The word is specific and it’s meant to put people (us black people) in their places. Not to say there aren’t some choice words black folks call white people. Because we all know there are cuss words for every race, creed and color.

So, does America still need a meaningful, and ongoing conversation about race and not just lip service? Clearly. There’s a whole lot we don’t understand about each other. The most fundamental of which is that we are all far more alike, than we may have been led to believe. It is encouraging that there are people of all races who are backing Obama for president, but there are lots of us on all sides who are mightily pissed off about what other folks say, do, and feel they are entitled to. And the issue of race keeps raising it’s ugly head during this presidential campaign season, but why wouldn’t it? There is much less space these days between what we feel and what we say in public.

Is there an economic component to the animosity? Sure. Any time people feel threatened they look for somebody to attack, and an expensive foreign car driving black woman is as good a target as any when people feel powerless against $4.00 a gallon gasoline and milk, and all the larger economic forces that mean some people can still buy $10million dollar homes and others can’t afford their $50 a month rent increase. Ooops! Isn’t that just about what Obama said that got him “ in trouble” at the San Francisco dinner? That economic strain and disenfranchisement sends everyone retreating to their own corner ready to protect and defend whatever they can manage to hold onto? And sometimes the best defense is an offense? At least that’s what WE think he meant.

Well, maybe it’s good to get it all out in the open instead of letting it fester under the surface. But only if we clean up the wound and apply a salve that will allow it to heal. Except it’s not just one wound and it’s gonna take a whole lot of healing. So, in the meantime, what do you say when somebody calls you something that makes the hairs on your arms stand up? Do you ignore it or confront it? Does confronting it change anybody’s mind or just get the anger off your chest? And will any of it make life better?

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posted by DeBerry and Grant at 2:51 PM 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Change of Life

From Donna

Most mornings when I’m home, I go downstairs first, make coffee (decaf) and bring up a cup for my husband. He has never been (or will be) a morning person. Except recently, I’ve had to alter this routine. I put the pot on, but now I have to wait for him to go down and take his first blood sugar reading of the day before he has coffee—with Equal instead of sugar. Two weeks ago, he was diagnosed with diabetes.

WHAM—that came out of the blue, sort of. After he’d come back from a family funeral in North Carolina, he started saying he needed to get a check-up. And he said his eyesight was a little blurry. He figured he was kind of run down. When he actually did see the doctor, it wasn’t even during his own appointment. He had taken his Dad to the doctor—one who has become friendly through many years and regular visits. Dr. Marsh asked Hiram how he was feeling and when he mentioned the blurry eyesight the doctor took his blood pressure. It was VERY high at which point he gave him medication, took some blood and said he would be in touch. That was on Saturday. Sunday night at 8:30 the doctor called to tell him how high his sugar was and to get him in to the office the next day.

Just like that everything changed.

I am grateful to Dr. Marsh for taking the initiative to check on someone who was, technically speaking, not his patient. And I’m really grateful that Hiram found all this out before something truly awful—like a heart attack or a stroke—happened.

Does he fit the profile? Middle-aged Black man who weighs a little more than ideal. And there is history of both conditions in his family. Yep, right on target. Still, it was a shock—for both of us. For him, it’s the first big, serious episode of his body rebelling and having to take medications and change his habits to control it. First time he’s taken sick leave for more than the flu or some passing stomach virus. He’s been in a bit of a funk as a result, but he’s following his new dietary. . . readjustments (I almost said restrictions, but we’re working to stay positive here) carefully, and charting his numbers faithfully. And we are both doing a lot of label reading—to keep his carbohydrate and sodium intake down. The changes will benefit both of us. I’ve gotten a bit. . .fluffy in recent years.

And I’ve been in a bit of a fog myself. Making sure he has what he needs, changing the way I cook. I found this salt-free seasoning mixture called Spike that is really tasty. Fage plain yogurt (it’s strained Greek yogurt with an amazingly creamy texture. We’ve been using the 2% variety. They do make zero fat also) mixed with a little Equal and some extract—vanilla, almond, lemon—is soooo yummy and satisfying. Way tastier than diet yogurt, and as satisfying to me as ice cream—that’s saying a lot.

But mostly the fog is about how serious this was and how fast life can slide by. Good grief, it seems impossible Hiram and I have known each other for twenty three years--been married for twenty of them. We’ve been through a lot together. And we both still feel young, which is great in terms of outlook. The numbers, however, are less forgiving. They are what they are. We are both really good about taking care of business—with family and friends, with our jobs. But we’ve truly fallen down on the job in the enjoying life area. He loves doing bike tours, but he hasn’t ridden in several years. We both enjoy camping, hiking, going to hear jazz. . . Haven’t made any time for those things either. And it’s not that taking care of business isn’t pressing. In the last two years Virginia and I have written two novels and a screenplay. We’re working on a plot for the next book, but for the last two weeks my head hasn’t been in it. Goodness, this time last year I got a phone call, “out of the blue,” and raced off to take care of my Mom, who had been in a serious car accident in Arizona (she continues to do better, thank God).

The point is: life is precious, and finite, and while there is always work to be done, life is meant to be enjoyed too. I admit I am still remedial on this point—joy was not featured on the Top Ten List in my house when I was growing up—but attending to our joy levels needs to be right up there with watching our glucose levels.

So, be aware of what your body is telling you. Diabetes and high blood pressure affect African Americans disproportionately. Check out the American Diabetes Association for more info, diet tips and recipes: Click here: American Diabetes Association Home Page . And today is a lovely day. Regular exercise is an important part of controlling both blood pressure and diabetes, so Hiram and I are going to grab some breakfast and go for a walk—and enjoy the sunshine, the budding trees, the daffodils and each other. That’s the business we’re taking care of today.

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posted by DeBerry and Grant at 12:05 PM 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Brand New Venture!

They're Here!!!!

Get your original TiffiBag™, by DeBerry & Grant

TiffiBag—we did it just like Tiffan”I” did in Gotta Keep on Tryin'—scouting for funky-cool remnants and having totes made to accompany us everywhere— evening, church, brunch, or book club meeting! The Tiffi size we’ve started with is big enough for a book, your water, a snack—maybe for two. . . Small enough to tuck in your purse for whatever comes your way.

All the fabrics are limited editions--so when it's gone, it's gone!

Sure you’ve got bags from work, conferences and conventions but Tiffani Alexander thought you might like a bag that says a little more—about you.

A tote bag with style.
A tote bag with sophistication.
A tote bag like no other.

A bag made to go with you everywhere looking good matters.

Each Original TiffiBag measures approximately 11” x 13” and is hand crafted from an array of beautiful, limited edition, upholstery quality fabrics and each is embellished with an imported, handmade, glass beaded tassel—because you know Tiffani likes a little sparkle and flash.

AND they make great gifts!

Here’s a preview but please visit our website for prices, individual photos and descriptions!!

http://deberryandgrant.com/DGShopping.html







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posted by DeBerry and Grant at 1:51 PM 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Do As I Say? Or----- Do As I Do?

In Gotta Keep on Tryin’ Gayle’s daughter, Vanessa is a spoiled, over indulged teenager—who makes some pretty bad choices in her rebellion against her mother (and her father). We’ve had many readers who just thought Vanessa was the worst kid—but then realized that Vanessa is really the new generation Gayle. Neither of us has kids—which gives us a very distinct and specific vantage point—we are observers of parent/child relationships, not participants. So we’re wondering---are too many parents today doing kids a disservice by providing them with too much and requiring too little responsibility in return? Do kids have an unrealistic sense of entitlement?

Do you think children unconsciously absorb their parents’ attitudes and behaviors, or do you think it takes a more active role to instill both negative and positive characteristics in children? Do parental actions speak louder than words?

Weigh in—let us know what you think!

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posted by DeBerry and Grant at 11:15 AM 2 comments links to this post

Monday, April 07, 2008

Friend or Foe?

As those of you who have read our books know, we always weave a few serious subjects into whatever story we’re telling. We usually include health (mental, physical, emotional) issues, family dynamics or dysfunction and a wide range of topics about the elastic boundaries of friendship. Today we’re starting a series of blogs where we’ll ask you to weigh in—give us your take on some of the situations we have posed.

One of the most frequent questions we get asked (almost every interview including the one on YouTube http://youtube.com/watch?v=W7zB01MdqEE ) is how does working together affect your friendship? We established Pat and Gayle’s very different personalities in Tryin’ to Sleep in the Bed You Made and in Gotta Keep on Tryin’ —using Gayle’s ideas and creativity and Pat’s business savvy (and initially her money), they have formed the Ell and Me Company. But their different outlooks lead to a serious rift when they have opposing ideas about how to grow the business.

So today’s question is:
Would you go into business with your best friend? And if you did, do you think both your friendship and business would thrive—or even survive? Please feel free to post your comments here or send us an email if you're looking for a more "private" expression!

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posted by DeBerry and Grant at 9:34 AM 1 comments links to this post

Thursday, April 03, 2008

"I'm a Black writer." GUEST-GUEST Blog

OK. Here's the deal--today we are reposting a "guest-guest" blog. This is a commentary written by Denene Millner, as a guest on Eisa Ulen's blog http://www.eisaulen.com/blog/


"I'm a Black writer."

By Denene Millner

Three more hours to go, and I’ll hear the bus rush down the street, signaling that my time is… up. The giggly girls will tumble up the brick stairs, backpacks askew, twists flying, serving up juicy kisses and demanding sweet treats—Golden Oreos, strawberries, and peanut butter and marshmallow sandwiches (folded, not cut, in half). That’s what they’ll want—that, and my undivided attention. There will be no more time for my other babies—the characters in my books.

The clock ticks.

I am struggling.

Full of doubt.

And wondering, yet again, why I don’t just give this writing thing up and get a real job somewhere—like Starbucks or the Georgia State Road and Tollway Authority. I could make lattes or collect dollars, and stop thinking about words already.

And why not?

I’ve got 12 books with my name on them, including my latest, Hotlanta, the first in a three-book series I’ve written with my co-author, Mitzi Miller, and three more books on the way. I’ve also written for an eclectic mix of magazines—from Essence to Parenting to Money to Men’s Fitness—during a writing career that’s spanned more than two decades. Yet today, I’m feeling like my job as an African-American author is one of the most thankless, underappreciated, low-paying jobs on the planet.What’s got me in a tizzy? A prominent book editor’s quote in a recent newspaper article, saying that black authors who’ve had a successful book or two don’t have the right to expect long careers as writers.

My first response? Anger.

My second: What gives her the right?

My third: Resignation.

Maybe I should just go on down to Starbucks. Because clearly, there’s just no respect for what we African-American writers do. We’re being left behind, hung out to dry—devalued. By publishers with editors who feel comfortable saying publicly that black writers should find another way to pay the bills, no matter their passion or past successes…

To read the rest of this commentary please visit
http://www.eisaulen.com/blog/

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posted by DeBerry and Grant at 12:17 PM 0 comments links to this post

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