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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Shawn Roasts CW’s SJW Black Lightning

I did my best to remain objective while I watched CW’s Black Lightning. After hearing Greg Berlanti, Mara Brock Akil and Sam Akil were involved I wasn’t expecting much. However, CW’s Black Lightning managed to surprise me. Their adaptation of Black Lightning was more of an SJW shit show than I could ever imagine.

As I watched the pilot episode I rolled my eyes. I thought I was watching an old episode of M.A.N.T.I.S, not a 2018 adaptation of a DC Superhero. It’s a shame that Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil and Greg Berlanti haven’t seen all the progress Black fantasy has made in the last 25 years. Because if they did they’d see that Black fantasy is a lot richer than what they presented in this shit show.

Black Lightning opens with a voice over from one of his daughters, when a show opens with a supporting character telling us about things it’s a BAD sign. A good show SHOWS us the main character, it doesn’t have someone TELL us who he is or about his life. In that voice over we’re told all about how bad things are in Black Lightning’s part of town. The drugs, the crime. All a result of the street gang known as the 100.

Stuff I saw done better in M.A.N.T.I.S’s two-hour pilot back in 1994.

Damn. Just Damn. Can’t Black heroes fight against anyone other than a street gang?
I’d like to think Black fantasy could move past these tired old ghetto tropes. But Salim Akil’s imagination is very limited and it showed in this screenplay.

Shades of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, the Black police commissioner says he can’t get a handle on it. In one of the protests against the police, Black Lightning’s oldest daughter Anissa a natural haired medical student and aspiring SJW has been arrested. And Principal Jefferson Pierce has come to pick her up at the precinct. On the way home, he’s racially profiled by two racist white cops who bring him over to an Asian store owner to ask if he robbed the liquor store.

Good Gravy. Bring on the stereotypes. The police commissioner tells Jefferson they're not "his" cops. A blatant SJW attempt to deflect responsibility and emasculate a Black male in an authority position. If they collect a paycheck from the city and you're in charge of them, whose cops are they? 

The next day after being racially profiled Princapal Jefferson Pierce is honored at his high school by the State Senator. Meanwhile in the bathroom his weave wearing hoodrat in training daughter Jennifer has decided to sneak out of an event honoring his father and head to Club 100, a known gang spot to hang out with Pookie. As Jennifer gets caught up with the 100 gang members, she’s taken into an office complete with a Cottonmouth wannabe in an 80s jogging suit we get a scene ripped straight from Luke Cage. Hearing his daughter is at this club Jefferson goes down to the club to save his daughter from being pimped by the thugs she decided to involve herself with.

After Jefferson goes to save his daughter from the gang members he runs into more racist White Cops who he shocks and blows up their car.

Damn. Just Damn. Is every white person in this show a racist?

Pretty much. As Jefferson goes to get help with injuries he sustained in the fight at the club, he’s tended to by an old White Tailor who knew him when he was younger. And the old White man talks about him making a difference in his community. Unfortunately, the paternalistic way he talks to him comes across like the slave master talking to his house slave.

Good Gravy. Why is every White character on this show is a racist? Why does every White man appear to have negative character traits in order for the Black man to be a hero?

Oh wait, this is an SJW show. So there is no such thing as balance or depth of character. White males are all EVIL.

Gimme a Break.

As the episode progresses we get scenes of CottonMouth Lite punishing his son with a gun. Jefferson’s daughters get kidnapped by the 100 who talk about pimping them out as hoes. As Jefferson goes to take on the 100, he gets the blessing of the old White tailor who crafts him a new costume. And Shawn gets sick to his stomach.

Yeah, Black Lightning is back. And he’s gonna clean up the streets of the hood. Unfortunately, he can’t do that unless he gets the approval of The Man. The thinly veiled message of this show between the lines is that a Black man can’t do anything without a White man signing off on it.

Fuck You Berlanti. Fuck You.

That’s a total contradiction to what a real Black hero is all about. If a Black hero wants to clean up his community he should do that on his own without the approval of any White person.  

Luke Cage this Ain’t. At Least Luke Cage showed us a Black man could act on his own and do things for himself. He was his own man and did things on his own terms.

My big problem with Black Lightning is that it wasn’t a show about people. It was a show about what a White person thinks Black people are like. Black Lightning tries to be a Black superhero show for White people instead of a show about a Black superhero. And because it tries to be a Black superhero show for White people we don’t get a show about the content of Jefferson Pierce’s character we get a show that revolves around what White people think Black people are like. Every character is a representation of a group of people and their ideals, not an individual character with their own personality and their own “voice.” No one talks to each other, they make speeches. And over the course of an hour all those speeches get annoying.

My other big problem with Black Lightning was how little imagination was presented onscreen. In an age where we have Iron Man flying, Thor throwing his hammer, Wonder Woman twirling her magic lasso I’d like to think we could do something more original than the same old black guy with powers taking on a street gang. In the nine years I’ve been writing I rarely have my characters fighting a street gang or thugs. John Haynes has fought Lucifer and God Katious, a Despot with a Gem of Omnipotence. Isis has been too busy taking on Nubian Queens, Greek Gods, Vampires, stalkers, Cybergoddeses, demons, kung-fu killers and Dracula himself. And E’steem has taken on Morgan Le Fay, and all sorts of demons and monsters. If I could imagine a story where Black characters can take on challenges outside of the street gang, I’d like to think we could get some fantasy concepts presented onscreen with a bit more originality and creativity.

I wanted to like Black Lightning There are some nice ideas here like the Black father trying to protect his family. But the big problem with Black Lightning is the execution of the concept. It all feels like some White person’s idea of a Black person, not what a Black person truly is. In between the flat characters, speeches talking at you, outdated special effects and by the numbers bad guys and it all comes together to make for a mediocre show. There’s not much content to Black Lightning’s character outside of the color of his skin. In 20l8 I believe viewers deserve better than just a Black superhero, they deserve a GREAT fantasy experience featuring a Black character.

Good God, I wish I could produce a John Haynes series on film or TV. It’d blow the doors off Black Lightning.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

John Haynes Concept Sketches

This Weekend I spent my day drawing model sheets of what John Haynes would look like in Isis: Escape From Transylvania and E’steem the Sands of Time. It was fun seeing how a character’s style changes over time.

The first sketch I did was the Teenage John Haynes who appears in E’steem: The Sands of Time. I dressed up the 14-year-old John in clothes I used to wear in the late 80s, a denim jacket, cargo pants, a mock neck shirt and Reebok Ex-o-Fit sneakers. Something a kid would just throw on and go out the door. 

The John Haynes from Isis: Escape From Transylvania wears a more sophisticated outfit that an older man would wear when he goes casual. He’s got on a navy barn jacket based on a Brooks Brothers one I used to own, jeans and a casual buttondown shirt. John’s fashion style is a bit more refined and polished. And it fits in the dark Gothic aesthetic I’ve planned for him and Civilian Isis on that cover.

Speaking of Civilian Isis, I’ve done a color model for that character. I want her colors to match up with John’s for Escape From Transylvania and fit the dark gothic mood I have planned for that cover.

I’m hoping to get both E’steem: The Sands of Time and Isis: Escape From Transylvania out this year! E’steem: The Sands of Time is in the middle of revisions, and Isis: Escape From Transylvania is edited and uploaded to CreateSpace and Kindle. All I need to do is raise the funds to pay an artist to design the covers. So if you can donate to my Patreon, it’ll help me get these books out for the summer reading season!  

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Shawn Reviews Hack/Slash Vs. Vampirella #4

I headed over to Dynamite’s website to pick up my first digital comic of 2018, Hack/Slash Vs. Vampirella #4. And after reading this one, I was a little disappointed. This issue felt more like filler to pad a 4-issue mini into 5 issues to meet a page quota for a trade paperback, than an issue of a miniseries. The storytelling was a little OFF in this one and I hope this isn’t a precursor of things to come in the final issue.  

Hack/Slash Vs. Vampirella #4 picks up where the last issue left off with the Blood Queen of Hearts stabbing Vampirella in the gut with a board. The splash opens on her talking about how much pain she’s in while her healing factor tries to recover from the injury. While she briefly blacks out (Vampi says she dies) as her body copes with the trauma, Vlad and Cassie fight off some demons and take the injured Vampirella in their van and make a getaway in the desert.

The art panels of Cassie and Vlad fighting demons in this issue really are strong, unfortunately the story starts to fall apart. After Vampi wakes out unconsciousness in Cassie and Vlad’s van she says she needs blood. With Vampi taking a bite out of Cassie in the last issue, Vlad volunteers. The whole sequence of Vlad being bitten by Vampirella feels really forced and doesn’t really flow into the story. Plus, wouldn’t both Cassie and Vlad be weak after both being drained of blood? Most people who donate blood are tired after losing so much. But Cassie and Vlad are both ready to fight more demons after being bitten by Vampirella.

But in spite of this plothole the story moves on. After some expository panels explaining how they can defeat the Blood Queen, Blood Queen follows the trio out into the desert with a horde of demons.  After Vlad and Cassie beat down the demons Blood Queen calls up some zombies out of all the bodies buried in the Vegas desert. As the battle continues, Blood Queen’s top henchdemon kidnaps Vlad setting up for next issue’s big finish. And with the way the last few panels set up I’m hoping the final issue is far more satisfying than this issue. 

I really wanted to get excited about Hack/Slash Vs. Vampirella #4. Unfortunately, this issue felt more like filler than an actual story. The whole issue just felt like one big expository sequence to stretch a 4-issue mini for trade. The way the story was structured and paced in the first three issues it seems like it was a 4 issue miniseries and the conclusion could have easily wrapped in the fourth issue with the showdown in the desert.

Shawn’s advice to Dynamite on comics overall: Less is more. The tighter the story, the better the reading experience. When I’m putting Isis and E’steem series books together at SJS DIRECT I’d rather publish a 64-page story that that has readers begging for more than a 100 page story that leaves them heading for the door. It would have been better for you to publish four great issues of Hack/Slash Vs. Vampirella than four solid issues and one mediocre one in the middle. This issue’s weak story throws off the momentum built up over the last three issues and doesn’t give readers incentive to finish the series or buy the final issue.

When you have a miniseries you want the reader to keep the reader so excited that they’re not only looking forward to the final issue, but the next comic. Everything in this mini could easily be used to build an audience for a Dynamite Hack/Slash ongoing, but 

 The only positive about this issue was Rapha Labosco’s art. Labosco has some amazing panels here and the scenes where the heroes fight demons. And the action really moves very well from panel to panel.  

While I was a little disappointed with Hack/Slash Vs. Vampirella #4 I’m still looking forward towards the final issue next month. I’m hoping the final issue can bring back the fun and excitement of the first three issues and wrap the miniseries on an up note.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

E’steem: The Sands of Time Sample Chapter

I finished E’steem: The Sands of Time last week and I’m really excited for this one! Here’s a sample chapter and a color model sheet of Egyptian E’steem!

Note: This is based on the first draft. So things may change in the final book! 

Chapter 1

4987 B.C.
I am a woman.
 Well, I’m starting to be. I turned 14 a month ago. And with me officially coming of age, I think I’m ready to show High Priestess Mamnet I’m able take on more adult responsibilities around the temple.
Ever since Seth ordained me to be a “child of the gods” I’ve been studying day and night to become a High Preistess like Mamnet. I believe it’ll be the way I can honor the gods for adopting me into their family. They all love me like I’m one of their own children. And I want to share that love I have for them by serving the people of Egypt.
While the Priestesses in the temple tend to the needs of patrons in the temple hall, I’m busy studying the papyri of ancient texts for spells. As I peer up from the text I’m reading I notice an older woman walking into the temple vestibule. The honey colored woman dressed in a white linen dress, gold armlets, bracelets, a beaded usekh collar and sandals anxiously looks around hoping to get the attention of one of the priestesses. With everyone busy they don’t see her. The last thing I want her to think is that Osiris has forsaken her. I spring up out of my chair and rush over to her. “Welcome to Osiris’ temple.” I greet. “How may I be of service of you?”
The woman gives me a skeptical look as she meets my eyes. “Aren’t you a little young to be working in the temple?”
If she only knew that this temple is like my second home. “I’ve been a part of this temple since I was a child.” I reply. “And I’m as well versed in the potions and spells of the ancient texts as any of the priestesses.”
“Well, I guess you can help me then. I need a tonic to help with the growth of the herbs in my garden.” 
I know that potion like the back of my hand. “I can definitely make that potion for you sister.”
“Are you sure?”
“I was taught magick by my mother Isis and my Aunt Sekhmet. So a simple potion like this is no problem for me.”
“So you’re that Child of the Gods everyone talks about in Nubia?”
Sounds like word about me has gone past the city of Heliopolis. “I’m a woman now.” I say. “I turned 14 a month ago.”
“Well, then you can show me what you know about magick young lady.”
My spirits feel lifted on the vote of confidence. The woman follows me over to shelves where we keep the ingredients for the potions. As I grab the ingredients for her potion off the shelves I learn more about her problems with her garden. “How long have you had trouble with your garden?” I inquire.
“Since last spring.” The woman replies. I plant seeds in my backyard and they just wither away and die right after they sprout up.”
“Do they get enough sun?” I ask putting the ingredients for her potion on the table.
“They get good sun. And they get good water. But they never grow to the point where they bear fruit. That’s why I came to Temple. I have to wonder if there’s a spell on my ground-”
“There’s no spell on your ground.” I reply. “You just need a little help from the gods to make your plants prosper.”
I feel the woman’ anticipation build as I begin making her potion. I start by pouring purified water into the clay jar. Then I add some dried dung beetles, dried pomegranate powder, and some wormwood. After I pour in the wormwood, the mixture starts to smoke and bubble. That’s definitely not how the potion is supposed to come together.
The woman’s eyes grow wide as the potion starts to become green foam that starts to bubble up out of the top of the clay jar. I let out a shriek as it erupts out of the top of the jar and the green mixture sprays all over our dresses. “I’m sorry-” I say rushing around the table to the woman.
“Sorry!” The woman barks pushing me away. “You’ve ruined my finest dress!”
I feel the eyes of everyone on the temple floor on me. “I can fix that with the Raimentus spell-”
“I think you’ve done enough E’steem.” A voice calls out across the room.
Oh. My. Ra.
I look across the room over and see High Priestess Mamnet standing in the distance. The slender caramel colored woman dressed in a white gown, gold armlets and bracelets and a wig filled with dark braids rushes over to me. “What’s going on here?” She orders.
“This so-called child of the gods said she could prepare a growth tonic.” The woman snarls cutting a cold look at me. “But all her potion making has done is ruin my finest gown.”
Mamnet gives the woman an earnest look. “I’m sorry that you had this experience at The Pharaoh’s temple.” She apologizes. “Let me fix your gown. Then I’ll have one of our more skilled priestesses prepare your tonic.”
Mamnet gestures in the direction of us both. Restorus Raimentus Anewus!” She chants. In a few moments the green slime that splattered us disappears and our white linen gowns becomes as clean as they were washed in the Nile.
After cleaning our clothes, Mamnet gestures to Sakarra, one of the priestesses in Osiris’ temple. While she darts over to Mamnet she gives me an annoyed look. “Sakarra, prepare her growth potion. E’steem, come with me.”
While Sakarra gets to work on I follow Mamnet into the back of the temple. Oh my Ra, I’m gonna get it.

E’steem: The Sands of Time will be available…Soon. I’d love to have it out for the summer reading season, but I’m short on funds to pay an artist to design the cover. However, I can fast track it for release if you donate to my paypal or my patreon!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Egyptian E’steem Concept Sketches

Spent my Saturday night drawing up concept sketches of what E’steem looks like in E’steem: The Sands of Time.

E’steem: The Sands of Time is an action packed time travel adventure that takes place in Ancient Egypt. And it features a 14-year-old E’steem as she tries to help a 14-year old John Haynes get back to his time in the 1980s. The Sands of Time has adventure and romance in an action packed story paced like a big budget animated movie. If I had to cast it, it’d have an all-Star cast of Black actors like Salli Richardson-Whitfield as E’steem, Michael Ealy as John Haynes, Keith David as Lucifer, Jada Pinkett Smith as Decadia, Angela Bassett as Isis, Samuel L. Jackson as Osiris, and Iman as High Preistess Mamnet.

With The Sands of Time I wanted to do a story that featured the teenage E’steem before she became a demon. After writing stories like Isis: My Sister, My Frenemy and E’steem: The Witches of Eastland which elaborated on E’steem’s troubled past I decided it was time to show readers what E’steem’s life was like before she had her father issues. To show how she originally had good intentions and wanted to help people. And the kind of heroine she could have become if Seth hadn’t told her the heartbreaking lies that led to her becoming a demon. 

The Egyptian E’steem concept sketches were a challenge to design. I had to study a bunch of Ancient Egyptian fashions and hairstyles to see what would look best on E’steem’s face. As everyone knows E’steem is inspired by actress Salli Richardson Whitfield, and I was worried that an Ancient Egyptian hairstyle with bangs and braids wouldn’t work with her face. But after doing some sketches I started to see that they would work.

For the portrait sketch I traced over the old E’steem drawing I did back in 1999. And I was surprised how different E’steem looked from her sultry she-demon look. Egyptian E’steem looks like a completely different character than her modern appearance. Taking this look back at the character shows how much she has changed over 4000 years.

I decided to keep E’steem’s outfit, hair, and makeup simple. I didn’t want an artist to have to deal with a bunch of elaborate details that’d be hard to translate from concept to final design. So E’steem’s Ancient Egyptian outfit is just a basic white dress, Usekh collar, armlets, bracelets and an anklet. For her hair I just went with a series of plait braids and gold ornaments in front of her face to denote her royal position. She’s a princess, but she’s conservative in her style because she’s aspiring to be a Priestess. I did a lot of research on Ancient Egyptian culture for this one, and 

With the Egyptian E’steem sketches done, now I gotta do a 1980s 14-year old John Haynes to go with her. A John who wears cargo pants  with elastic ankles, (I owned a pair of Cotlers like this in 1989) a jean jacket and Reebok Ex-O-Fit or Pop top Hi-top sneakers. And he carries a Walkman. That’s gonna be fun to draw up.  

I finished the first draft of E’steem: The Sands of Time last week and it’s in the middle of revisions. This book was a boatload of FUN to write and I’d love to get it out for the summer reading season so readers can enjoy it. I designed this one to be a like a blockbuster movie featuring Ancient Egypt re-imagined from an Afrocentric perspective. If I can get enough donations for the cover, I’ll fast-track it for an April release! 

Friday, January 5, 2018

SJS DIRECT 2018 Catalog

I’ve been laying out the schedule for what books I’d like to be a part of the SJS DIRECT 2018 Catalog. And this year the catalog is gonna be SJS DIRECT Universe related. The New books included are:

Isis: Escape From Transylvania The action packed sequel to Isis: Bride of Dracula and Isis: Night of The Vampires. In this story the goddess next door and John Haynes are kidnapped by Dracula’s daughter and forced to participate in a reality game show where they have to try to escape from Dracula’s hometown as they fight for their lives against a horde of vampires out to win a million dollar cash prize, 

E’steem: Goddess of? The first post E’steem Ascension story where The Aspiring Angel heads back to the Island of Solitude where she learns how to use her new powers as she takes on Avarisk The Tormentor, a Demonic Dominatrix,

John Haynes: A Conversation With Death, a teaser story that starts the John Haynes series. In this story John meets up with the Angel of Death and takes on some demons as they discuss plans for his life,

Isis: House of Isis where the goddess next door takes on a Hustling Hotep Priestess in Harlem in a story that makes a commentary on Pro-Blacks, Black economics and the Black community,

And The Essential E’steem the first SJS DIRECT collected trade. The Essential E’steem is going to feature the first eight stories of the E’steem story arc in a single paperback! This’ll book feature many of the early E’steem series like Demons Anonymous that were only available in eBook format for the first time in paperback!

And maybe if things work out, I can FINALLY release the long delayed Isis: Imitation of Life.

Along with those titles I’m currently working on developing several new SJS DIRECT Universe titles including:

Isis: All that Glitters, a story where Isis takes on a bikini clad bank robber, (Second Draft currently uploaded to CreateSpace)

E’steem: The Sands of Time, a time travel fantasy romance featuring a teenage E’steem and John Haynes set in Ancient Egypt. (Right in the middle of the First Draft of this one,)

John Haynes: Taking care of Business, (Outlined and plotted.)

And Isis: Revenge of the Cybergoddess. Had part of this written before my computer crashed. Now I gotta start it all over again. This story had been building up in the epilogues of Isis: Samurai Goddess and E’steem: Ascension. I want to put this one further up on the schedule, but I gotta find time to write it. 

Yeah, several of the books in the 2018 catalog are holdovers that were delayed from the 2017 catalog and even the 2016 catalog. Many are uploaded to CreateSpace and Kindle and have been waiting for publication for over a year. Some like A Conversation With Death are in their second drafts. they all need are the covers to be launched. And the only thing that keeps these books delayed are the funds to pay artists for to design the covers. So if you want to help me expedite the release of these books you can donate to my Paypal or my Patreon today!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Remembering My Father

On December 21, 2017 my father passed away. He was 81 years old.

While my mother and my father had their issues, I thank God she always allowed him an opportunity to be a part of my life and that of my brother and sisters. While he lived in Manhattan and my mother lived in The Bronx, my father used to visit my house every Thursday or Friday to come see us.

On some Fridays afterschool he’d take me to the barber shop. We’d get in his candy apple red 1976 Buick Limited and he’d drive us all the way to Tommie’s Barber shop Fredrick Douglass Boulevard. It was there that he taught me the first lesson in being fiscally responsible. After giving me my first allowance at six, I had to pay the barber for getting my haircut. I hated having to give up that five dollars, but now I understand the lesson he was trying to teach me in that trip to the barber shop. That things cost money and I had to pay for them.  

Sometimes after we went to the barbershop, he’d take me and my sister to McDonald’s on 145th and Broadway. And sometimes after we ate there we’d go to a parking lot near the Hudson River where my sister and me would play while he waxed his car.

Thanks to my father working two jobs we always had money for school clothes, Christmas presents and Easter suits. We always had an allowance and could go out and buy all the toys, comic books, junk food and pizza slices afterschool. Stuff most kids took for granted, but they were the things that defined a child’s life.   

The greatest gift my father gave me that defined my life was the Brother word processor he bought me on my 18th Birthday from The Wiz. With that word processor I started my writing career. At the time I had a choice between a camcorder and the Word Processor, but with me returning to writing after a two-year absence, I thought I’d use it to write stories. I used that word processor to write all my term papers in college and to write my first two books The Changing Soul and the first Isis. I still have that word processor to this day and now that he’s gone I’ll never get rid of it.

My father was always in my life. We talked on the phone every week after he visited and in addition to those weekly visits he was at every graduation from kindergarten to my College graduation in 1994. He didn’t have much of an education himself, but he made sure we got ones so we could have the skills to work and take care of ourselves.

As I got older instead of him coming to us, I went to see him. Throughout my twenties I’d always go to visit him. And while I struggled to find employment he tried to help me. He helped me get my first job at Food Emporium in 1996 and helped me even after I quit in 1997. One of the proudest moments I had with my father was when we went to 125th Street to celebrate Father’s day with him in 2000. I was working at Americorps* VISTA at STRIVE and I finally had money to celebrate it with him. Instead of asking for an expensive gift, he just asked that I pay for breakfast. I didn’t realize how he was looking out for me by not asking for much, but he valued my time more than how much money I spent.

I didn’t appreciate all my father had done for me until I was 34 years old. I remember Father’s Day 2008 when my sister and me went to visit him downtown where he lived. It was after we took him to McDonald’s and I came home that I realized what he had done for us. It was that year that I stopped believing many of the negative things my mother had told me about him and started seeing him for the man he truly was.

After a fight with my mother a year ago I finally got a chance to thank my father for all he had done for me. I was angry at my mother at the time, but it was then I began to see what he put up with dealing with her in order to have a relationship with us. How he quietly kept his issues with her to himself so that we could grow up to become healthy children. It was after that fight with my mother that I finally understood his side of the story. He was happy to finally hear how grateful I was to him for all his help and support through the years, and was happy to hear that I finally saw the man he truly was.

I’m glad I was finally able to thank my father for all he did for me. Because I didn’t know how little time he had on this earth. I’m thinking that fight with my mother I had a year ago was God’s way of allowing us to have that final moment to talk to each other before his mental condition deteriorated.

I only have two regrets about my relationship with my father. The first is that I didn’t have a job when he passed away. He worried about me being out of work the last nine years and he constantly asked me about it. I wanted to get that job or have that best-selling book so he wouldn’t have to worry about my financial situation. So that he could see that I could go out here and take care of myself. That I could be a man just like he was. I always wanted him to see me working and being capable of doing things on my own, and he never got to see me have stable employment like he had.

The second regret I have is that I wasn’t as close to my father as I could have been. In between the stories my mother told me about him and him constantly criticizing me about my weight I always put distance between myself and him. I hated doing that, but I felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders in between him, the teachers and the kids at school constantly finding something wrong with me. I wish we could have gotten closer in all the time we spent together, but things never really worked out. When I was 30 he said I had the ability to be a bigger success than my brother or my sister who both have master’s degrees. I’d always wished he’d said that to me when I was younger, but I guess he never got the chance to thanks to the strained relationship with my mother. Because I believe if he had said it to me at 8 or 10 it could’ve redefined our relationship and changed everything in my life.

Over the years I’ve paid homage to my father in much of my writing. Simon James in The Cassandra Cookbook/A Recipe For Success is named after him, and John Haynes’ middle name is Simon to pay homage to his name being my middle name. In some ways Osiris, Smitty, Donald Desmond, Jack Anderson, and Jason Crowley and many of the fatherly characters in my stories get many of their leadership and authoritative traits from him.

And maybe in some ways E’steem and Isis’ daddy issues come from my relationship with him. Both Isis and E’steem finally got to resolve their issues with Osiris in the first Isis and Isis: Amari’s Revenge and I thank God I was able to resolve most of my issues with my father before he passed away last year.

When I found out my father had Dementia a year ago I dedicated The Legendary Mad Matilda to him. It wasn’t the book I wanted to dedicate to him, but it was the one I was working on at the time I found out about his illness. I wish I had a more appropriate book to dedicate him, but the story of a mother passing her knowledge onto her daughter might have been the best one to dedicate to him. Because that’s what fathers do: Pass their knowledge onto their sons before they leave this earth.

I didn’t realize the impact my father had on me until a year ago. Many Black women will sit there and minimize and badmouth the things that Black fathers do for their children But I thank God my father was in my life. Because I wouldn’t be the man I am today if it wasn’t for him being there.