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One of the tag lines in my first novel: Boys, Beauty & Betrayal is "black girls eat, white girls don't." I wrote this to shine light on one of the characters who'd decided to limit her caloric intake to please her boyfriend. Her friends rally to convince her that she's being foolish, but it doesn't work, so they pen the "black girls eat,white girls don't" line. The line is meant to show her that she's behaving in a manner that is inconsistent with her culture. In the same way that parents will pretend that a fork filled with spinach is a whirly bird airplane so the willful child will open her mouth, the girls just want their friend to eat.

But the truth is, eating disorders are not culture specific. In book two, Camp Colorblind, the fourteen year old girls realize this.

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Happy 2010! Pronounced twenty-ten, by JC. I hope your year is off to a grand start. As I write this, I'm wondering how many of my readers actually make (and keep) resolutions. I disdain the word "resolution," it just sounds so formal. I "hereby resolve to stop eating Cheetos!" I prefer goals. It's short and sweet. "One of my goals is to eat more fruit than Cheetos!" Much better!

Even if you're in middle school or high school. You can (and should) have goals. Goals are just steps to better. Each day, you should awaken with the goal to be better at something. A better student, daughter, friend, athlete. Just better. Professional athletes awaken with the drive to not just be better, but to be the best. Strivinig to be the best is even better than striving to be better! (Say that aloud ten times fast!) It's all about self improvement. The one thing I know for sure (as the wise Oprah would say) is that I can control my road to better. I can choose good over evil. I can choose to eat a pear instead of a Snickers bar. (I'll try that one tomorrow, as I lick chocolate from my fingertips.) I can choose to take the stairs instead of the escalator or walk up the escalator if there are no stairs. The Up escalator is for moms with strollers to give their children a thrill ride as they tilt them backwards. Just kidding.

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When I was in high school and college, in addition to protecting my hair from the rain, (remember, black girls don't like to get their hair wet!) I also guarded my reputation with a fierce intensity. Walking the corridors of my high school, trudging to get to my locker to swap books for my next class, I would sometimes overhear stories about girls who "had a reputation." Having a reputation meant that girls made themselves phsyically available to boys. Having a reputation was a bad thing and still is. Remember, your body is a temple and you should protect the temple.

There were even a couple of girls who started procreating before graduation. I thought it sad that these girls (and their male accomplices) were going to be awarded a birth certificate before receiving a high school diploma.

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In the Black Diamond Series, the girls are tested time and time again. The friends work their way through mama drama, boy drama, hurts, disappointments, fears, embarrassment and shame. In Boys, Beauty & Betrayal and Camp Colorblind, the girls sometimes feel like their angst and life's woes will get the best of them. Because it's fiction, the girls always manage to get out of the situation with style and grace. Sometimes the get out strategy is a tad messy, but for the most part, the girls work thru it.

One of the things that I enjoy most about being a writer is the opportunity to attend book club meetings where the readers have read my work and ask me questions about the characters and scenarios. Sometimes the readers challenge me and ask why I chose to write certain things (like Tanisha's slow dance daydream scene). I had a few readers who didn't approve of that scene and questioned why I would put that in a book targetted for girls as young as eleven. My reply was that girls will experience situations like that and they should be prepared to discuss it with their mothers or another adult. It's a teaching moment. Strength.

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Do you have a crush on someone? I remember having my first real crush on a boy when I was infirst grade. He didn't know I was alive. In second grade, I remember a classmate (let's call him Larry) who ate glue, paste and crayons and proudly showed me the chewed up concoction swirling around his jaws. For a time, he followed me home from school every afternoon. When the bell rang, my heart would race with fear as he literally chased me the half block to my home directly across the street from our elementary school. Panting, I would arrive home in tears to be met by my mother who assured me that Larry liked me. I thought she was kidding. "He eats glue, paste and crayons," I told her. My mom laughed. "He's trying to impress you. That's what boys do when they like a girl. They pull your hair and throw rocks at you. They act like little monkeys on a stick." She was right. Ten years later, when I was in college, I bumped into Larry and he confessed that he had a crush on me in second grade. He looked like he still ate paste, glue and crayons. He was still as gross as I remember him being in second grade.

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After reading Boys, Beauty & Betrayal, my Bible study leader said, "I could relate to Tanisha on many different levels because no matter how old we are, in so many ways we remain a teen at heart." She's so right. I have many adult fans who enjoy my series and all share similar comments. The feelings of love, acceptance, hurt and disappointment are common no matter how old you are. And if we're being honest, even concern about our body image stays with us well past our teen years!

The movie Precious (based on the book Push) is taking the entertainment world by storm. The movie's main character is morbidly obese and her mother (played by Mo'Nique) is overweight. It's reported that Mariah Carey gained 25 pounds and donned a bland wig for her role. Sadly, Precious still isn't playing in a theatre near the city of Milwaukee, so I haven't seen the movie yet; but it got me thinking about body image because it's rare that we see flawed body images on the big screen.

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Disappointment is one of the longest words in the English language. Fourteen letters and four syllables of letdown. At some time in our lives, we all feel this long, powerful word. I'm feeling it right now as I prepare to watch someone receive a blessing that I prayed God would grant me. I'm a semi-regular guest on a local talk show in my town. One of the co-hosts on the show recently resigned, so I threw my name into the ring for consideration. Admittedly, I have very limited television experience, but I went for it anyway. I updated my resume and sent a witty cover letter/plea to be given a chance to audition. I waited and prayed. I logged in regularly to see if there'd been a response. Every unrecognized phone number that came into my cell phone made my heart skip a beat. What would I wear to audition? How would I do? The power of positive thinking! If you can see it you can do it! I could see it as plain as the vast blue sky. But I was the only one who could see it. I didn't even get a chance to audition. The letdown letter was kind and gracious. They loved me as a guest, but my experience was too limited. I knew it was a long putt. I'd reached for the fruit at the end of the branch and come back with a leaf. I recently learned that the ripe fruit that I was pining for was granted to a deserving young woman who has far more television experience than I. I was disappointed.

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Recently, I was a guest on a local NBC affiliate where I occasionally do correspondent spots. This time my topic was: "Why black girls hate to get their hair wet." You can view it by clicking on www.themorningblend.com and then find my name JC Ellis. The show aired on Friday, October 16th. Anyhoo, I brought an electric hot comb and demonstrated how black girls get their hair pressed or straightened. The intern, production assistant and the two hosts (all white) had never before seen a hot comb or hair oil. They were blown away when I explained that some still use a hot comb that is heated on an open flame! This got me thinking. Why is it that people in the majority culture know so little about others' cultures? Wouldn't the world be a better place if people spent a little time learning about people who are not like them? When was the last time that you learned something new? Have you ever paused to ask someone about a family tradition or custom? Were you interested in learning more but afraid that you might offend them?

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This morning I saw a segment on Good Morning America where a woman wrote a book about mean moms where she believes that some women just aren't cut out to be mothers. She shared that in her opinion, mothering is a learned skill and not an innate trait. In the first chapter of Boys, Beauty & Betrayal, Tanisha's mom is described in a way that portrays her as a really mean mom. Some of my readers were angry that I portrayed a mother in this light. In the movie "Precious" MoNique's character depicts the worst mother imagined, someone who physically and psychologically abuses her child. Just viewing the trailer for this movie is painful as you witness the verbal assaults and shudder at the apparent lack of love. The truth is that some women just don't make good mothers. It's a fact. Possessing a uterus and ovaries does not a good mother make. Some mothers are just mean. And mean is a relative term, so no matter how good or bad someone's relationship may seem, someone else's relationship will always seem a little better or a tad worse. Mean to some might be nurturing to others. But I believe that "most" people generally do the best that they can with what they know. And sometimes what they know is wrong, and their best isn't good enough, but it's their best. The good news is that mothering can be a verb and not a noun. You can be mothered (nurtured) by different women at different points in your life: a teacher, a neighbor, an aunt, etc. You can also reinvent your definition of mothering by modeling a better relationship than what you had. Like Tanisha, you can love your mother and not want to be like your mother. And that's okay. Your feelings are the one thing that you can control. Some days you may hate your mother like I'm sure Precious does. How could she not? But the thing to remember is this. Your mother is the vehicle that God used to bring you into the world. Like it or not. So for that alone, your mother deserves respect. Even if that's the only reason you can muster to respect her, that's a good one. Now, if like the woman on Good Morning America you realize that after years of trying really hard you still can't have a healthy relationship with a Mean Mom, then you need to give yourself permission to let it go and love/respect her from afar. You don't have to be in a sadistic relationship with a mean mom because society frowns upon people pulling away from mom. If mom is whack and mean, leave mom alone. But most importantly, if you were raised by a mean mom, break the cycle. You don't have to repeat what you saw. Be better than what you saw. Be the love that you didn't get! What are your thoughts on the mean mom theory?

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If you're reading this, I'm sure you can relate to one of the central themes in the series: Tanisha's mama drama. We've all had some experience with mama drama. Your mama drama could be coming from your birth mother, grandmother, aunt or the woman in your life who raised you. In Tanisha's case, her mama drama is a source of shame and embarrassment. Does she have a rite to be embarrassed about something that isn't her mother's fault? Would she still be embarrassed if Billie were taking her medication? Is there something that embarrasses you about your mother? Is she overweight? Does she scream the loudest at your games? Does she have a physical limitation that you find embarrassing? Is she a bad dresser? a bad cook? a bad dancer? Does she dress inappropriately for her age? Does she pick you up wearing curlers and house shoes?

Does she run a corporation and have a staff of people doing the things for you that you see your friends' mothers doing for them? Is there such a thing as a perfect mother? Is it just the mental illness and Billie's trying ways that are embarrassing to Tanisha or are girls just wired to be embarrassed by their mothers no matter what? Rest assured, although Tanisha's mama drama gets a tad better, it doesn't go away.

In the last two books in the series (Chemistry, Chaos & God's Grace and Sunshine on Sundays) you will read about the mama drama that the other girls experience, especially Rashanda & Maria's issues with their mothers. In the final two books, the girls attend college and start their adult lives so there are more surprising twists & turns, including breakups and love issues, but the mama drama is still there. So I ask you, is mama drama an inescapable fact of life? Do you have mama drama in your life and how do you deal with it? Feel free to blog reply about a "friend's" mama drama in case you don't want to identify yourself.

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One of the tag lines in my first novel: Boys, Beauty & Betrayal is "black girls eat, white girls don't." I wrote this to shine light on one of the characters who'd decided to limit her caloric intake to please her boyfriend. Her friends rally to convince her that she's being foolish, but it doesn't work, so they pen the "black girls eat,white girls don't" line. The line is meant to show her that she's behaving in a manner that is inconsistent with her culture. In the same way that parents will pretend that a fork filled with spinach is a whirly bird airplane so the willful child will open her mouth, the girls just want their friend to eat.

But the truth is, eating disorders are not culture specific. In book two, Camp Colorblind, the fourteen year old girls realize this.

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Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Happy 2010! Pronounced twenty-ten, by JC. I hope your year is off to a grand start. As I write this, I'm wondering how many of my readers actually make (and keep) resolutions. I disdain the word "resolution," it just sounds so formal. I "hereby resolve to stop eating Cheetos!" I prefer goals. It's short and sweet. "One of my goals is to eat more fruit than Cheetos!" Much better!

Even if you're in middle school or high school. You can (and should) have goals. Goals are just steps to better. Each day, you should awaken with the goal to be better at something. A better student, daughter, friend, athlete. Just better. Professional athletes awaken with the drive to not just be better, but to be the best. Strivinig to be the best is even better than striving to be better! (Say that aloud ten times fast!) It's all about self improvement. The one thing I know for sure (as the wise Oprah would say) is that I can control my road to better. I can choose good over evil. I can choose to eat a pear instead of a Snickers bar. (I'll try that one tomorrow, as I lick chocolate from my fingertips.) I can choose to take the stairs instead of the escalator or walk up the escalator if there are no stairs. The Up escalator is for moms with strollers to give their children a thrill ride as they tilt them backwards. Just kidding.

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When I was in high school and college, in addition to protecting my hair from the rain, (remember, black girls don't like to get their hair wet!) I also guarded my reputation with a fierce intensity. Walking the corridors of my high school, trudging to get to my locker to swap books for my next class, I would sometimes overhear stories about girls who "had a reputation." Having a reputation meant that girls made themselves phsyically available to boys. Having a reputation was a bad thing and still is. Remember, your body is a temple and you should protect the temple.

There were even a couple of girls who started procreating before graduation. I thought it sad that these girls (and their male accomplices) were going to be awarded a birth certificate before receiving a high school diploma.

User Rating: 0 / 5

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

In the Black Diamond Series, the girls are tested time and time again. The friends work their way through mama drama, boy drama, hurts, disappointments, fears, embarrassment and shame. In Boys, Beauty & Betrayal and Camp Colorblind, the girls sometimes feel like their angst and life's woes will get the best of them. Because it's fiction, the girls always manage to get out of the situation with style and grace. Sometimes the get out strategy is a tad messy, but for the most part, the girls work thru it.

One of the things that I enjoy most about being a writer is the opportunity to attend book club meetings where the readers have read my work and ask me questions about the characters and scenarios. Sometimes the readers challenge me and ask why I chose to write certain things (like Tanisha's slow dance daydream scene). I had a few readers who didn't approve of that scene and questioned why I would put that in a book targetted for girls as young as eleven. My reply was that girls will experience situations like that and they should be prepared to discuss it with their mothers or another adult. It's a teaching moment. Strength.

User Rating: 0 / 5

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Do you have a crush on someone? I remember having my first real crush on a boy when I was infirst grade. He didn't know I was alive. In second grade, I remember a classmate (let's call him Larry) who ate glue, paste and crayons and proudly showed me the chewed up concoction swirling around his jaws. For a time, he followed me home from school every afternoon. When the bell rang, my heart would race with fear as he literally chased me the half block to my home directly across the street from our elementary school. Panting, I would arrive home in tears to be met by my mother who assured me that Larry liked me. I thought she was kidding. "He eats glue, paste and crayons," I told her. My mom laughed. "He's trying to impress you. That's what boys do when they like a girl. They pull your hair and throw rocks at you. They act like little monkeys on a stick." She was right. Ten years later, when I was in college, I bumped into Larry and he confessed that he had a crush on me in second grade. He looked like he still ate paste, glue and crayons. He was still as gross as I remember him being in second grade.

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After reading Boys, Beauty & Betrayal, my Bible study leader said, "I could relate to Tanisha on many different levels because no matter how old we are, in so many ways we remain a teen at heart." She's so right. I have many adult fans who enjoy my series and all share similar comments. The feelings of love, acceptance, hurt and disappointment are common no matter how old you are. And if we're being honest, even concern about our body image stays with us well past our teen years!

The movie Precious (based on the book Push) is taking the entertainment world by storm. The movie's main character is morbidly obese and her mother (played by Mo'Nique) is overweight. It's reported that Mariah Carey gained 25 pounds and donned a bland wig for her role. Sadly, Precious still isn't playing in a theatre near the city of Milwaukee, so I haven't seen the movie yet; but it got me thinking about body image because it's rare that we see flawed body images on the big screen.

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Disappointment is one of the longest words in the English language. Fourteen letters and four syllables of letdown. At some time in our lives, we all feel this long, powerful word. I'm feeling it right now as I prepare to watch someone receive a blessing that I prayed God would grant me. I'm a semi-regular guest on a local talk show in my town. One of the co-hosts on the show recently resigned, so I threw my name into the ring for consideration. Admittedly, I have very limited television experience, but I went for it anyway. I updated my resume and sent a witty cover letter/plea to be given a chance to audition. I waited and prayed. I logged in regularly to see if there'd been a response. Every unrecognized phone number that came into my cell phone made my heart skip a beat. What would I wear to audition? How would I do? The power of positive thinking! If you can see it you can do it! I could see it as plain as the vast blue sky. But I was the only one who could see it. I didn't even get a chance to audition. The letdown letter was kind and gracious. They loved me as a guest, but my experience was too limited. I knew it was a long putt. I'd reached for the fruit at the end of the branch and come back with a leaf. I recently learned that the ripe fruit that I was pining for was granted to a deserving young woman who has far more television experience than I. I was disappointed.

User Rating: 0 / 5

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Recently, I was a guest on a local NBC affiliate where I occasionally do correspondent spots. This time my topic was: "Why black girls hate to get their hair wet." You can view it by clicking on www.themorningblend.com and then find my name JC Ellis. The show aired on Friday, October 16th. Anyhoo, I brought an electric hot comb and demonstrated how black girls get their hair pressed or straightened. The intern, production assistant and the two hosts (all white) had never before seen a hot comb or hair oil. They were blown away when I explained that some still use a hot comb that is heated on an open flame! This got me thinking. Why is it that people in the majority culture know so little about others' cultures? Wouldn't the world be a better place if people spent a little time learning about people who are not like them? When was the last time that you learned something new? Have you ever paused to ask someone about a family tradition or custom? Were you interested in learning more but afraid that you might offend them?

User Rating: 0 / 5

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

This morning I saw a segment on Good Morning America where a woman wrote a book about mean moms where she believes that some women just aren't cut out to be mothers. She shared that in her opinion, mothering is a learned skill and not an innate trait. In the first chapter of Boys, Beauty & Betrayal, Tanisha's mom is described in a way that portrays her as a really mean mom. Some of my readers were angry that I portrayed a mother in this light. In the movie "Precious" MoNique's character depicts the worst mother imagined, someone who physically and psychologically abuses her child. Just viewing the trailer for this movie is painful as you witness the verbal assaults and shudder at the apparent lack of love. The truth is that some women just don't make good mothers. It's a fact. Possessing a uterus and ovaries does not a good mother make. Some mothers are just mean. And mean is a relative term, so no matter how good or bad someone's relationship may seem, someone else's relationship will always seem a little better or a tad worse. Mean to some might be nurturing to others. But I believe that "most" people generally do the best that they can with what they know. And sometimes what they know is wrong, and their best isn't good enough, but it's their best. The good news is that mothering can be a verb and not a noun. You can be mothered (nurtured) by different women at different points in your life: a teacher, a neighbor, an aunt, etc. You can also reinvent your definition of mothering by modeling a better relationship than what you had. Like Tanisha, you can love your mother and not want to be like your mother. And that's okay. Your feelings are the one thing that you can control. Some days you may hate your mother like I'm sure Precious does. How could she not? But the thing to remember is this. Your mother is the vehicle that God used to bring you into the world. Like it or not. So for that alone, your mother deserves respect. Even if that's the only reason you can muster to respect her, that's a good one. Now, if like the woman on Good Morning America you realize that after years of trying really hard you still can't have a healthy relationship with a Mean Mom, then you need to give yourself permission to let it go and love/respect her from afar. You don't have to be in a sadistic relationship with a mean mom because society frowns upon people pulling away from mom. If mom is whack and mean, leave mom alone. But most importantly, if you were raised by a mean mom, break the cycle. You don't have to repeat what you saw. Be better than what you saw. Be the love that you didn't get! What are your thoughts on the mean mom theory?

User Rating: 0 / 5

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

If you're reading this, I'm sure you can relate to one of the central themes in the series: Tanisha's mama drama. We've all had some experience with mama drama. Your mama drama could be coming from your birth mother, grandmother, aunt or the woman in your life who raised you. In Tanisha's case, her mama drama is a source of shame and embarrassment. Does she have a rite to be embarrassed about something that isn't her mother's fault? Would she still be embarrassed if Billie were taking her medication? Is there something that embarrasses you about your mother? Is she overweight? Does she scream the loudest at your games? Does she have a physical limitation that you find embarrassing? Is she a bad dresser? a bad cook? a bad dancer? Does she dress inappropriately for her age? Does she pick you up wearing curlers and house shoes?

Does she run a corporation and have a staff of people doing the things for you that you see your friends' mothers doing for them? Is there such a thing as a perfect mother? Is it just the mental illness and Billie's trying ways that are embarrassing to Tanisha or are girls just wired to be embarrassed by their mothers no matter what? Rest assured, although Tanisha's mama drama gets a tad better, it doesn't go away.

In the last two books in the series (Chemistry, Chaos & God's Grace and Sunshine on Sundays) you will read about the mama drama that the other girls experience, especially Rashanda & Maria's issues with their mothers. In the final two books, the girls attend college and start their adult lives so there are more surprising twists & turns, including breakups and love issues, but the mama drama is still there. So I ask you, is mama drama an inescapable fact of life? Do you have mama drama in your life and how do you deal with it? Feel free to blog reply about a "friend's" mama drama in case you don't want to identify yourself.