Because I Care: Aliya S. King Presents ‘The Write Pitch!’

Sometimes the easiest thing for a writer to do is write, but getting a magazine editor to cosign that story is a completely different animal. Editors are…quirky people. They not meanies though. They are actually seeking good great stories and ideas that readers want to read about.

I call myself a writer, but even with a few bylines under my belt, I’m still learning. Writers belong to a fraternity of some sort, and you must play the game by the rules. Some rules never change, and others, due to social media and technology do.

No one knows the writing game better than Aliya S. King. Dubbed my Mentor in My Head, she is an award-winning veteran writer and author of several books, including Faith Evans’ memoir, Keep the FaithPlatinum and the recently released sequel, The Diamond Life (Check out my Amazon.com review and interview for Platinum). If you’re a follower of King, you know that she’s dropped serious gems about freelancing and writing on her blog, and has recently moved to Twitter for chats and Q&A to help us hungry writers.

Now, she’s gone a step further with The Write Pitch!, a one-day workshop in New York City. the workshop will also include a Pitch Me! Real magazine editors will critique your pitches for you (Check my critiqued pitch here). You’re already in luck because I have the scoop straight from Aliya about the workshop and why you should be there:

Tell us about the Write Pitch! What will attendees learn?
Write Pitch attendees will learn EVERYTHING about getting their stories/articles placed in national magazines. I’ve interviewed over a dozen editors of major magazines from publications like Essence and Vibe and participants will receive their unfiltered tips on the right way to pitch their publications and most importantly, which sections of the magazine are best for new writers. I will also *individually* critique pitches of participants to strengthen them and help attendees get their pitches placed.

Writers who follow you know you shell out advice via Twitter and on your blog. Why attend the The Write Pitch!?
Simple. You get more than 140 characters! This is an intensive four-hour course. You will leave with not only knowledge gleaned during the course, you will also receive a binder stuffed with contacts, actual pitches that were accepted and your own pitch critiqued… I have always given out advice on Twitter and my blog but this takes it ten steps further.

Writers write, so if the story is a good one, why do we need a pitch?
Editors need to know what it is you want to write about. Writing a pitch is also a good way to show your writing skills. A new writer who sends a poorly written pitch will NOT be assigned the story. That’s a fact. Your pitch is like your introduction. And it’s important to make the right first impression. Sometimes you only get one shot!

Should we expect more workshops from you?
Absolutely. I will be expanding to other cities this fall. I will also offer fiction workshops as well.

Where else can we find you?
If it’s social media-related, I’m there. Check out my about.me page for all the places you can find me! http://www.about.me/aliyasking

Just in case someone isn’t able to attend, can you share a valuable piece of advice for aspiring writers?
If you want to write for ANY print publication, study at LEAST six months of the magazine before you pitch. If you haven’t done that, you’re not ready to pitch.

For more information or to register, email thewritepitch@gmail.com. Hurry, word is it’s almost full!

See you there!

4 Culture Trends I Want to Disappear Sooner Than Later

There’s so many, many things I could write about today, but I’ll take easy road andcover what I’d originally planned: trends. Trends are things that are hot, but only for a brief moment. They’re all the rage until something better comes along. Remember wearing Tretorns or Herringbone necklaces (I’m from Memphis, don’t judge me)? Or how about, wearing overalls with one strap hanging off? Trends never stop. The world is a big azz Forever 21, and we keep going back for buy one, get two free sales. Here are a few trends in our culture that I want to go away IMEEGIDLY!

Skinny Jeans (for men)

I don’t want to see my man or any man for that matter, rocking these skinny jeans. I’m the only one rocking the skinnies around here. Some would say it’s no different from NBA players wearing tight “hooping shorts” in the 1970s, but yes, it is. I don’t have much to add. I mean, just look at the picture. I’m over it.

Big Azz Earrings

Back in my early 20s, I loved a big earring. In fact, I didn’t start wearing studs regularly until my late 20s. If you couldn’t see them before you saw me, I didn’t want them. Years later, the infamous Basketball Wives have made oversized earrings trendy again. Some of them of cute, yes, but I’m not about to kill myself by getting my earrings caught up in my hair, a swinging door, seatbelt, whatever. Y’all have gone entirely too far when these earrings are reaching your thigh sitting down. That’s not an accessory, it’s a health hazard. I refuse.

Twitter Beef

I know Twitter beef won’t go away until Twitter is no longer the trend. It’s entertaining, but it’s also embarrassing. In just a week, because people would rather solve problems and instigate altercations via computers, we now know that Royce of Basketball Wives boyfriend, Dezman was trying to get with his child’s mother. We also know, as of yesterday, that Deion Sanders took his children with him to file a police report after his estranged wife, Pilar and her friend allegedly jumped him. Le sigh. It’s just all too much. Some things should NOT be handled over social media sites. As if a beat down wasn’t enough, you gotta tweet about it, too. Woo-sah, people! Woo-sah!

Recording Violent Acts for Worldstar Hip Hop

Honestly, I shouldn’t even write about this because I didn’t watch the controversial video of the two teen girls fighting posted on WSSH last week. I do know that the young girl who made the attack was arrested because the video went viral. That’s a good thing. My problem is when people deliberately commit these acts to submit to these sites to get a few minutes of “fame.” I’ve seen kids beaten and robbed for their sneakers and clothes. Fools flashing drugs, money and guns. Only to be arrested later. Who does that? This generation lives by the “Look at me” mentality, and it’s getting them nowhere but behind bars. Then again, I guess that’s some of them should be.

Beyonce 101: I Think I’ll Pass

Today BlackVoices reported that a Rutgers University will offer a course on Beyonce. Just a few months after hubby, Jay-Z became the subject of a course at Georgetown University, taught by Michael Eric Dyson, now she’s to be the center of attention for an entire semester, as if college girls can get enough of her to begin with. The course, “Policitizing Beyonce” will example Bey’s videos and lyrics and compare them to greats, such a Sojourner Truth and Alice Walker.

**slow blink**

My initial thought was, “Seriously, what are they going to talk about exactly? It’s Beyonce.” (Stans, excuse my inner hater, but see this post I wrote last year.) Perhaps, she can be mentioned in the company of these iconic women though. I mean, she did say, “I can do for you what Martin did for the people.” Give us free then, Bey!

I kid, I kid.

The story reports that Rutgers lecturer Kevin Allred’s course will not be a bird course on Bey, but a way to help students think more deeply. He says,  “It’s important to shift students away from simply being consumers of media toward thinking more critically about what they’re engaging on a regular basis.” He added, “When students don’t respond to theory or dense readings, it’s often easier to see things play out in the world around them.”

Great point there. In two of my favorite undergraduate classes, Ancient Egyptian History and Religion and Hip Hop, my instructors used real examples like Tupac and Biggie to illustrate some points, even giving us projects that centered around hip hop instrumental tracks. We loved it! They didn’t make the entire course about those figures though because there were bigger fish to fry on the syllabus.

More and more, the Bedazzled One is becoming synonymous with girl power and feminism, rather than iceskater outfits and nude dancer’s tights. Maybe she is changing the world.

What made me rethink my position? A few months ago, I read an article on imagining her song titles as women and gender theses for undergraduates. Here are a few:

Cater 2 U: Female Subservience and the Reinforcement of Hegemonic Gendered Power Structures

Baby Boy: The Sociocultural Effects of Prolonged Male Adolescence

Run the World (Girls): Historical Perspectives on Global Female Leadership

Clearly, they were reaching with some of these, but if the thesis reads well and provides new evidence or theories, who says it’s not valid? However, I’m not sure that a course is necessary, and here are my personal reasons why:

I’m a practical student, not an academic. It only took one semester of studying public relations in graduate school to figure that one out. I broke out into a silent “Kum Baya” every time my quantitative statistics class met, but never wanted to leave my public relations writing class. Considering that, I’d probably be more interested in learning the routine to “Single Ladies” than discussing the socioeconomic effects on single women versus married. I’m straight on all that.

I grew up with Beyonce. Well, not really, but we’re the same age. When I was 22, she was singing about what I was going through as a 22-year-old. Agewise, she is a peer, not some perfect, can-do-wrong being that I look up, unlike some of her diehard stans (whom I assume would enroll in the class. Maybe I’m wrong.) Therefore, she’s simply not that serious to me now. Would I have taken the course in undergrad? Absolutely! I’d figure out a way to fit that “Singles Ladies” routine in there somehow.

The course would piss on my parade. I often half-jokingly say that I’m just “not that deep.” I’m an over-analyzer at best, and yes, I LOVE to think and discuss and throw out my theories on subjects, but Beyonce just ain’t one of ’em. When I hear Bey, I want to shake what my mama gave me, cry a few tears over a breakup or go shopping for a tight freakum dress. I do NOT want to think about gender roles and feminism as I’m blasting “Get Me Bodied” in my iPod. I’d prefer to keep it just as light as she has all this time, and a course on her wouldn’t allow that. Again, I’m straight.

So, call me a cynic or whatever. I’ve spent goo-gobs of money on her concerts, and I have all her albums. I appreciate the woman. Her business sense is unmatched, she’s managed to keep her personal life under wraps and her hair can blow in the wind like no one else’s, BUT, I’d much rather sing along with her than study her.

Nah who mad?

Linked Up

This is probably the first time I’ve done this, but I have an unusual amount of time on my hands, so here goes. I’ve posted a few links to some interesting stories/articles below. I’ve created this habit of going through my favorite sites and blogs first thing in the morning and bookmarking them via Evernote. I do the same thing with Twitter. You’d be surprised about the number of newsworthy, yet hidden stories I find on Twitter. Well, maybe not, but anyway, here’s a short composite list of stories and a little something extra. Happy reading!

Ladies Feel Over The Hill At 29 (Jezebel)

10 Tumblrs of Color You Should Know (Coco + Creme)

The Library? What’s that? (AdrienneWrites)

Never Before Seen Photos Document James Earl Ray’s Incarceration in Memphis (Commercial Appeal)

Love Hurts…No, Really It Hurts: New Study Links Rejection to Physical Pain (Yahoo! Shine)

The Midadventures of Awkward Black Girl

All Wifed Out: Who’s to Blame for the ‘Wives’ Obsession?

Alright folks, this has gotten to be a bit ridiculous. When MTV released the groundbreaking reality show, The Real World in 1991, we never dreamed that 20 years later, television would be dominated by reality shows. Out of all the reality show series that have come and gone, for some reason, a particular type of show has captured the African-American community’s heart: the Wives shows. You know, Housewives of Atlanta, Football Wives, Basketball Wives and the latest, Love and Hip Hop (I guess they had to be more original with that one.). These shows, which I like to call A Few WivesEternal Girlfriends, Baby Mamas, Jump-offs and Other Thirsty Randoms have become guilty pleasures, and addictions, even among African-Americans. Admittedly, I, too, have tuned in to each of these shows, tweeting about the foolishness and having full-blown conversations with friends about the drama and desperation of the various cast members. It’s acceptable though, because it’s only harmless entertainment, right?

After seeing Evelyn Lozada and Royce  argue over who could pull the highest-paid penis on Basketball Wives Season 2 Reunion, I made a pact with myself that I would not watch the third season, but eagerly clamored to the television to watch Chrissy Lampkin of Love and Hip-Hop verbally assault Somaya Reece for wanting to work with her boyfriend, Jim Jones, out of unwarranted jealousy and insecurity. I sighed deep sighs over the state of our black women, unlucky in love, but I knew that I would keep watching. It wasn’t until I saw the promo for Mob Wives that I threw up my hands. I’m all wifed-out, y’all.

Mob Wives? Really? First, it’s the sports industry, then music, now the Mafia? Even after watching the trailer and reading cast bios, I don’t know if I can take it seriously. Four women–allegedly wives and children of incarcerated mobsters– are going at each other over loyalty, “snitching” and family destruction. In the real world (no pun intended), that sounds like a disaster, but in reality television, it’s a first-place winner. The obvious thing to do is to shake my finger at VH1’s programming department, and question why they insult our intelligence with these cookie-cutter shows, but like Sean Carter once said, “Men lie, women lie, numbers don’t lie.”

According to Nielson Scan, the Real Housewives of Atlanta broke its own record bringing in 3.43 million viewers during its “Floridon’t” episode (also known as the Bus tour/Sweetie is a Slave episode). The reunion for Basketball Wives Season 2 brought in 2.3 million viewers and Love and Hip-Hop’s season opener brought in 1.9 million viewers. Oh, yes, VH1 and other networks know where our hearts lie: In drama

Come on, admit it. No matter how many intellectual and “above it all” we try to be, we  like drama, atleast in someone else’s life. To see bickering, degradation and outright stupidity unfold onscreen right in our living rooms is exciting. It has to be, otherwise, the ratings wouldn’t be what they are. What is it about these shows that makes women, especially African-American and multicultural women tune in?

(1)Perhaps, it’s getting a glimpse of how “celebrities” live, how easy it is to take exotic vacations on a whim, all while wearing designer clothing and shoes we can’t pronounce, let alone spell.

(2) We see some of ourselves and our friendships, good and bad, in these ladies.

(3) Watching the over-the-top, sometimes staged foolishness among people we don’t know personally provides an escape from our own boring or drama-filled lives. It’s oddly comforting to see someone else in a worse predicament that yourself.

(4) We’re taking what we can get in this television game. Gone are the days when we could see the Claire Huxtables and Whitley Gilberts flaunt their high-powered jobs, education and healthy relationships on primetime television. Though they may embarrass us  and make us cringe, we want to see us on television. The bigger question is: What cost are we willing to pay for that?

(5) There are just some things that women on every level can relate to, and that includes, but is not limited to dating a new guy, heartbreak, friendship trials and of course, fashion. All of this is covered twice-over in these shows.

(6) We enjoy the cast members, who are just that: cast members. They make us laugh! They are hilarious, delusional, mean-spirited, clueless, fabulous and a few are even a mess. Who doesn’t love/hate those kind of women?

For now, I’m holding my breath on the authenticity of Mob Wives, though I’ll tune in for the first episode. I’ve always wondered how they lived since my first time watching The Godfather. Will you be watching? Don’t worry, I already know the answer. Next thing you know, we’ll be watching this…(all in good fun. Loosen up!)

*Photo courtesy of Vh1.com

And That’s Gon’ Make Me Dance: Redirecting the Motivation for Pole Dancing

By now, you’ve heard of the “Christian Pole Dancing” story being circulated all over the Internet. Apparently, an owner of a dance studio in Houston is offering pole dance classes to women only the second Sunday of every month. The purpose is to help women to appreciate their God-given bodies. What better way to do that than to do tricks on the pole to Christian Rock songs? Items required for admission: comfortable clothing, sexy heels….and a church program. Check it out here via NewsOne.

I’m not questioning her motivation or methods–well, maybe a little. At the least though, I was most happy to know that my original thought that the pole dancing  “sister” was  African-American was wrong. When I read the headline on Twitter, I immediately had visions of a group of women dancing to gospel songs like Mary Mary’s “God in Me” (You know it goes hard in and outside the church!) or the bounce version of God Property’s “Stomp” (Yes, I’m guilty of nodding to in the club in college). You can’t imagine the relief I felt when I saw otherwise.

In the meantime, if we’re going to pole dance, let’s swing to more appropriate music, yes? I’ve been to some classes and after my first, I gained a newfound respect for strippers. You have to be in shape, and it takes skill!! I think it’s safe to say that strip clubs make or break songs, especially those from artists from the South, and there’s no shortage of “strip club anthems” lately. If you have a choice of what songs to pole dance to, please, don’t choose Fred Hammond, choose these:

I’m missing a ton of songs. I imagine that a few of those aren’t been played at the “shake,” but I don’t “frequent the booty clubs,” as Big Boi would say, and perhaps my mind just isn’t in “strip club” mode right now. On top of that, the radio plays enough strip club songs that I don’t need to go. What’d I miss? Better yet, what do you think about pole dancing for Jesus?

SYAD Awards: The Ladies, We Gotta Do Better Edition

There’s all kinds of ratchetness going on, and to think, we wouldn’t know about half of it, it weren’t for VH1’s Sunday night lineup. Between the f Basketball Wives finale and the debut of the new reality show, Love and Hip Hop, I should have worn a gown to my living room to hand out awards like Kiki Shepard. Let the presentation begin…

Evelyn (Basketball Wives)

I could go in on Evelyn for several things in this episode alone, but I won’t. I won’t talk about the Hoe Moment she had with Chad Ochocinco after periodic Skype calls and dinner with ice cream. I gather that everyone’s had a HM or atleast a semi-HM at some point or another. No judgement there (plus it seemed to work). It’s life, and it happens, but the fact that she’s taped and the episode will be on re-aired on television for all to see, including her teenage daughter makes me want to take her to the altar with my next Sunday. Actually, her having a daughter isn’t an issue since I’m sure she passes her awesome “get a baller” tactics down to her.

This, right here, is how she got this award hands down. So, after hanging out with Tami  for weeks on end, including a week-long trip abroad, she decides to share with Shaunie that she slept with Kenny Anderson, Tami’s ex-husband back in the late 90s.

*Shoulder tap* Ma’am, why has it taken you so long to tell Tami? Okay, okay, I know that Tami is damned near depressed and as paranoid as the day is long. She pops off on the regular, and that includes throwing hands. I can see how you would want to gauge her moods, hence your timing, but really, that’s not cool. For someone who prides herself on keeping it 100, you’ve lost credibility.

So, Tami spills her guts, expressing her admiration for you and the other girls (still a blank stare on that one), and suddenly, the guilt kicks in. You wait until she’s highly emotional and tipsy, forced to calm her nerves with a pack of Virginia Slims, to have confession time. Tami’s giving you the **slow blink** and going on about how she feels betrayed by you, when she was trying to build a friendship.

Your only comeback being that you didn’t know they were married wasn’t sufficient for Miss Tami. She’s not going saying, “Every b*tch walkin’ knew we were married.” I guess your idea that she would take your confession at face value would do, but to no avail…

Then you hit her with this: “Cuz you was a non-factor, b*tch!”

**Slow blink**

And that’s when you got your chin checked, as my West Coast friends would say. Anytime you are so self-absorbed that you miss the point of the beef at hand, you do need to be slapped. The issue wasn’t merely sleeping with Kenny, but it was the dishonesty. How dare you listen to her pour her heart out about her issues and hurt over her ex, and hold that? Wait, I know why. Because Tami is crazy as a box of rocks, and you didn’t want to risk getting your ass beat. Too bad that was inevitable anyway.

Do better, lady.

The Runner-Up

Chrissy (Love and Hip Hop)

Believe it or not, I’m not giving Chrissy, Jim Jones’ girlfriend of six years the award simply based on the fact that’s she even with him in the first place. I think Jim Jones is a handsome guy, but we all know he looks as dusty as a ceiling fan blade. I don’t know what it is. The braids? The five o’clock shadow? The clothes? Even in a suit, he still gives that grunge look. That’s not the point though.

Miss Chrissy will receive this award because not only is she giving the cast members advice on their men, or lack thereof, when she’s in the same boat, but she’s going H.A.M. on any woman who so much as breathes the same air as “Jimmy”. Really, lady? You’re acting a fool in public over him? Aw okay then. Because he’s a man, he loves that “crazy” in his woman, and I’m sure that keeps him coming back. Nevertheless, checking this new wannabe rapper chick for GP in the club was a no-no and so unattractive. Rather than ask about their relationship (which was still unnecessary), she went in on her appearance and attire. I wasn’t a fan of the sequin jumpsuit either, but when insecure, make personal attacks. Even though it was borderline ratchet, Somay’sa reaction to their run-in was classic. “You’re a kept bish. I’m kinda bish they keep.” Yeah, it would have been hard to top that one.

I actually like Chrissy. She doesn’t seem messy as of yet, but did I hear her say she “groomed” Jim Jones? Girl, bye. That’s a FAIL. And that upcoming proposal to him? Double bye. You don’t have children together. If you’re not happy, get out while you can.

Overall, this is what I’ve come up with. Ladies, we’ve got to do better. Women will have heartache and do stupid ish over men and for men for eternity. There will always be a pack of back-biting, shady women who hang together, yet refuse to split, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t try to make improvements. These things we’re seeing unfold on the small screen happen every day and even to some of us. Maybe that’s why we sit on our sofas and cringe with every scene because the truth hurts.  We should be setting examples for other women–for our girls. It all comes down to being willing to make sacrifices and changes for our own happiness.

We’ve just got to do better.

Note: VH1 and Shauni O’Neal deserve a separate post all to themselves, but they wouldn’t have an audience if we didn’t watch, right?

Photos taken from Vh1.com

The Week Wrap-Up

Let’s go on and talk about since it’s on the InterNETS anyway. Wednesday, the Commercial Appeal reported that 90 girls at Memphis City School, Frayser School were pregnant or had given birth in a year. NINETY GIRLS AT ONE SCHOOL. That’s 11 percent of 800 students.

That’s entirely too many teenage pregnancies in one school, and that’s just a snapshot of the entire community. I’m not even sure if that number includes abortions or miscarriages.

Teens (some, not all) are having sex. Lots of it. Unprotected. There are countless reasons why it’s happening. It could be due to lack of education, pop culture influences, peer pressure, self-love issues, not fully realizing the responsible a parent has and so on. I’m sure there are things I haven’t even thought of or considered because I’m not a teenager anymore.  Continue reading

Because I Care: Alexyss K. Tylor (NSFW)

Surely,  by now you know who Alexyss Tylor. If you don’t, shame on you. This Atlanta native has the foulest mouth, but she speaks nothing but the truth about relationships and sex. Ladies, if you ever need to get your mind right about a man problem or issue, look at any of Alexyss’ videos. She’ll set you straight. Without a doubt. And on top of that, she is HILARIOUS!!!! Like, seriously.

Her platform? VAGINA POWER. Enough said. Just watch the video.

I have got to meet this chick. She’s blunt and down right nasty, but she gets her point across. She may be crass to some, but her Youtube views prove that someone is watching. She started out on public access television and has gone to speak at Spelman and Morehouse College, conducting lectures across the country. Somebody’s picking up what she’s throwing down (I always wanted to say that. ).

Warning: The following video probably contains every expletive and alternative names for male and female genitals. DO NOT look at this at work. For more information on Alexyss Tylor, visit www.alexysstylor.net or her Youtube channel http://www.youtube.com/user/alexyktylor.