Friday, October 24, 2008

Big Women (It's NOT What You Think:))

Most women have a couple of good male friends who treat their female friends like one of the guys. No topic is forbidden territory. They have no cover for their mouths; in matters of sex, love and romance (with romance often the least of these) anything that comes up, comes out.

This past summer I hung out with a group of friends, both male and female. We hadn’t seen each other for a while. As always, rum and “ole talk” (trash talk) flowed like the River Niger. So did laughter, due in part to one man’s confession. It takes a real man to make fun of himself and his relentless, hilarious (and often unsuccessful) pursuit of women under 30. He’s the polar opposite of a gray-haired Don Juan I remember from some years back. With his cap cocked to the back, draped in gold chains and baggy jeans, he beat the bushes for young women like a big game guide on safari. “The only thing an old woman could do for him was show him where a young woman went.” Unlike our friend, nothing about this man made me laugh. Instead I felt sorry for the old desperado. Still, neither of these men wanted a big woman.

In case you’re thinking Big and Beautiful, or Fabulous and Thick, not this time. Today I’m defining her Caribbean style. To our brothers and sisters in the tropics, a big woman is a woman of a certain age; a grown woman; a seasoned sister.A few weeks after our gathering I had an “interesting” conversation with a younger man. It may have been the memory of past pleasure, but his whole demeanor changed when he described the lure of the big woman. He didn’t stutter, stumble or half-step; his appreciation for the seasoned sister was sharp, smooth and sweet like soursop ice cream. I declined the hands-on demonstration (lol), but I listened well as he spoke of the big woman’s sense of confidence, accomplishment and sensuality. According to him, she has nothing to prove to anyone – she’s been there, done that, and on this go-around, can do it even better. To the surprise of some, and the joy to others, it’s not all about looks or sex. Apparently, he’s not alone. A friend jokingly referred to herself as senior citizen to a younger man looking to check her out. I’m taking bets that right now he’s signed up for early admission to AARP. It gives new meaning to the phrase “big girl panties” – on or off (lol).

So the next time a man of a certain age wants to put the Big Woman out to pasture, let him know who’s got the upper hand. Refer him to From Dusk to Dawn, page 6, paragraph 3, lines 4-6!

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Butt Bra (Just Not Pretty Enough)

First, a disclaimer. I color my hair. When it’s too dark, I look like Bela Lugosi. That’s why I have no problem with improving the hand that nature dealt us (to a point). And neither do television talk show hosts – in the past two months I’ve seen a whole posse of plastic surgeons and their greatest creations cheesing from the front row. They talk about collagen, botox, restylane and some stuff made out of pig skin. There’s a lift, a tuck, a sucking out and a plumping up for every part of a not-quite-good enough body. Eager audiences applaud for women who were renewed by surgery or non-surgically “refreshed.” They squirm at big-screen shots of oozing injections. They’re shocked and sympathetic to guests with scary stories (and the scars to prove them) of surgery that made them wish they’d kept those thin lips or that A cup.

Most of the shows were mildly interesting. But when talk turned to the perky booty, one particular show became fall-down funny. So listen up: if you want a high round butt, but don’t want it cut and stuffed into a Brazilian Butt Lift, there’s a Butt Bra in your future. When I finished laughing, I had to search the net for a picture. It looked like the unholy marriage of a chastity belt and a horse bridle. What sadist created this contraption? And what woman is so desperate for a book shelf booty that she’d walk the streets bound up in an instrument of torture? I was a little ticked; there was nothing comparable for men. But before I could work up a good head of steam, I found a figure in boxer briefs, sporting “The Package Booster.” I laughed so hard I expected a knock on the door and a charge of disturbing the peace.

So here’s a question: What happens at the moment of truth when the clothes come off and the woman’s apple bottom butt drops to the back of her knees? Or when that long limousine (as promised by the Package Booster) turns into a "tiny little Volkswagen with two flat tires"? In sue-happy America I can just see these people in front of Judge Joe Brown claiming false advertising, misrepresentation of goods, bait and switch, or whatever it’s called in legalese.

The real question is “what price beauty?” And when does this craziness start? Here’s one answer: it begins when a 7 year old girl is replaced by a lip-synching stand-in because she’s “just not pretty enough.” In the words of my mother, it’s a sure sign we’re going to hell in a hand basket.

Juvederm, anyone?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A Review, a Rapturous Interview and the Winner's Circle

Check the picture – see why I didn’t get this post out until today? That's not me "playing 'mas" but it was DC Carnival weekend, so what can I say… (lol) But just before I left, I received a review from Terri Williams of Sisters Sippin’ Tea Literary Group, Tulsa Chapter. What a send-off – I love how it begins: “Just let me say right now, do not sleep on From Dusk To Dawn, Niambi Brown Davis's first romance novel. The cover had me fooled – it's a bit vanilla, but the pages between the front and back cover are filled with straight HOT CHOCOLATE! It took me two days to finish only because I wanted to savor the flavor.” Click here to read the rest of Terri’s review and to learn more about the Sisters Sippin' Tea Literary Group:

On Sunday, the threatened storm held off and the power held up, allowing me to be a blog talk radio guest of Lisa the Rapturous Reader. It was icing on the cake of an already wonderful weekend. You would think that instead of being separated by miles of cyberspace, we were sitting face to face, chatting like good girlfriends over tall glasses of sweet tea on a lazy Sunday afternoon. We touched on so many subjects – from the characters we liked the least, the ones hardest for me to write, all the way to the ingredients in Ayo’s luxurious and indulgent bath time treat. It was great – click on this link to listen for yourself.

And now for the winners and a word from Yasmin Coleman, online publicist extraordinaire and conductor of the Against All Odds Virtual Book Tour:

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Against All Odds Virtual Book Party and who helped kick off the first leg of the tour during the month of April. As many of you are aware, if you stopped by Niambi’s blog and left a comment during the month of April, you were entered into a drawing to win PRIZES including the coveted Ayo’s Beach Bag. You may not know it, but Ayo creates her own line of bath and body products. For après-beach pampering, enjoy Ayo’s Maracas Bay Coconut Cloud, Orange Blossom Balm and Pink Sands Soap. Ayo’s Beach Bag includes these products as well as a coral and green striped towel, an AUTOGRAPHED copy of From Dusk to Dawn, the matching bookmark, two lovely champagne flutes and a set of “Sun and Sand” tea lights. For the winner’s listening pleasure, the bag also includes the Dusk to Dawn remix, a soulful musical journey through the story of Ayo and Bilal.
Without further ado and a DRUMROLL PLEASE, the winner of Ayo’s Beach Bag as well as the other wonderful prizes are


First Place Winner ($25 Amazon Gift Certificate):
Rosa H.

Second Place Winners (AUTOGRAPHED copies of From Dusk to Dawn):
Darnetta F.
Jennifer C.
Gayla Clarke

Third Place Winners (Against All Odds CD):
Darnetta F.
Dera W.
Priscilla J.
JC Martin

I'm happy to add my own congratulations, and to thank you all for being a part of the Against All Odds Virtual Book Tour!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Book Talk on the Bayou - My Visit with Lynn Emery

From the first page, I was hooked on Lynn Emery’s ALL I WANT IS FOREVER, the story of Talia Marchand and Derrick Guillory. But that Monette! She is one of the most unforgettable characters in any story I’ve ever read. When I knew that Monette would have a story (and a love of her own) I couldn’t wait to read it. And with the title SOULFUL STRUT how could I not introduce myself and my own Soleful Strut Butter Balm ( to Lynn at Romance Slam Jam in Shreveport? Since then she’s been a great supporter of me and my business, for which I’m truly grateful. Today, Lynn has invited me to make a cyber-stop in Louisiana. Check out our interview – she’s asked some great questions! Visit us here:
Here’s more about Lynn:
Mix knowledge of Louisiana politics and forensic social work, with the dedication to write fiction while working each day in an acute psychiatric unit for women, and you get a snapshot of talented author Lynn Emery. Lynn has been a contributing consultant to the magazine Today’s Black Woman for three articles about contemporary relationships between black men and women.
Lynn sold her first novel in 1995 to Kensington publishing for their groundbreaking Arabesque line. NIGHT MAGIC went on to be recognized for Excellence in Romance Fiction for 1995 by Romantic Times Magazine. Her third novel, AFTER ALL, became a movie produced by BET and aired on December 3, 1999. Holly Robinson Peete was the female lead as Michelle Toussaint, an investigative television reporter. In 2004 Lynn won three coveted Emma Awards. She was chosen Author of the Year and her novel KISS LONELY GOODBYE won Best Novel and Favorite Hero.A native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Lynn writes after work and on weekends. Flagging energy does not present a problem. “I began to write when I was eleven years old and I won’t ever stop. That tough little kid inside me who dreamed of holding her own book won’t hear of it. Let me tell you she cracks the whip!”
Lynn's latest novel is SOULFUL STRUT is from HarperCollins. She has also completed a inspirational non-fiction book called BE ENCOURAGED: WORDS OF SUNLIGHT FOR THE SOUL.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Girl, What IS Your Problem (The Lost Chapter and a Give-Away)

“I wanted to shake her!” “She’s just too daggone stubborn!” Ayo Montgomery brought out strong reaction in some readers and reviewers. (So I had to show my girl some love by posting a picture of her favorite flower) :) I imagined them talking back to the book: “Girl, just what is your problem?” There’s always a reason; it may not be good enough, but a reason, nevertheless. So what could have happened in a woman’s life to make her say “I can’t go through that again.” And is the reason good enough? Is she letting the past dictate her future?

So read on to make your own decision. Let me know if you understand. And please share your thoughts on what I call the “lost chapter,” a prologue I was advised to cut. It’s a no-no for the beginning of a romance. Still, this chapter has moved everyone who read it. Actually, the story of Ayo’s young life is an almost completed manuscript. I just haven’t figured out what to do with it.
And to make Friday the 13th some reader’s lucky day, I’m offering a prize to the first person who can email me at with the name of Ayo’s DC condominium. The gift is a duplicate of the Romance Slam Jam Mini-Swag Bag. It includes a jar of Orange Blossom Balm, Coconut Cloud, a Dusk to Dawn CD, a bookmark and recipe card. Good luck - I can’t wait to hear from you!

Night fell like a velvet, star-strewn curtain in Trinidad. In the hills of Maraval, it was especially beautiful; they seemed closer to earth here than anywhere else in the world. The night breeze cooled the plantation-styled home, blowing from the front gallery straight through to the kitchen. In the living room Maurice Montgomery stretched out on the hardwood floor cradling nine-month old Kedar and watching the country’s evening news. The baby laid in a chubby sprawl on his father’s chest. With his fluffy baby Afro and deep dimples carved into his honey-butter face, Kedar was Maurice in miniature. He loved this time of night – home with his wife and child. His love for them was like a white hot comet that never burned out.
“Ayo!’ Maurice called out. “Come look. This is the story I filmed today!” He choked back a burst of laughter at the antics of The Earth Mother’s back to nature group. Today they had come down from the hills into Port of Spain wearing nothing but grain bags over their dry, dusty bodies. “See, they dressed decent for town, because up in the hills they go naked.” When the ultra-smooth reporter began to recite their names – Cucumber, Sweet Potato and Cassava – chosen because of the vegetables they grew in ground fertilized by their own waste, no less - she choked back a burst of laughter of her own. Maurice guffawed, and Kedar joined in. Instead of all-gums, his wide grin now exposed two new baby teeth. Maurice stretched his arms, holding his son high over his head. “Yuh laughin’ too, baby boy?”
As quickly as it had come, Maurice’s laughter died. A grainy, live shot of a small scowling man replaced The Earth Mother’s ragged band. Each sentence of his scowling, rambling rant was punctuated with a jab of his knobby forefinger.
“Dat man is trouble, oui!” The sight of Martin Gary pulled a rapid-fire stream of patois curses from Maurice’s mouth. Gary, a petty tyrant, held a choking grip on the small island country of Meridia. Dissention meant a cell in the capital’s medieval prison, most times on murky, made-up charges. Gary practiced a cynical kind of obeah – he was in fact a confirmed Catholic, but he knew his people and held believers hostage to the ways of their ancestors. Even so, he couldn’t control everybody - there was open rebellion with anarchy rolling across the country like a towering, violent tidal wave. Meridia was in chaos; so much so that US troops were rumored to be on their way to protect its citizens and embassy.
Later, the sounds of Maraval’s night creatures soothed the family to sleep. The next morning, Ayo leaned up on one elbow and gazed at her husband. She loved her “old man,” as she called him when she teased him about the 10 year difference in their ages. He was 6 feet of sleek, honey-colored muscle with the face of a fallen angel. But Ayo didn’t care what he looked like, because Maurice Montgomery was a gift. He loved her the way a man is supposed to love a woman. If she could have created a mate out of a dream, he still couldn’t come close to the real life man beside her.
She sighed with contentment, putting Martin Perry and his goons out of her mind until a phone call interrupted their morning coffee and planted the seed of fear into Ayo’s mind. She watched Maurice’s expression change from surprise to determination and then resolve. He stood quickly, leaving his coffee to grown a thin, cool film.
When Ayo approached with Kedar, the freshly bathed baby gurgled with glee at the sight of his father. Maurice lifted the child from her arms and held him against his chest, stroking Kedar’s hair and nibbling the curve of his son’s tiny ear.
“Baby, I need to talk to you. Something has just come up.” Holding Kedar in the crook of one arm, he reached out with the other to draw her close. “You know how I feel about this Perry mess, don’t you?”
“Yes…” Ayo’s stomach lurched. Both hands balled into fists; the nails dug into her palms.
“The station wants a report straight out of Meridia. They asked me to go.”
Ayo’s voice rose sharply. “But Maurice, that place is a battle zone! Perry is crazy and so are his people. They want to keep power and they don’t care who or what they destroy to have it.”
Kedar’s mouth trembled with the beginnings of a whimper. “It’s okay, baby boy.” Maurice lowered his head and crooned in Kedar’s ear. He grasped one tiny hand and rubbed his thumb over the soft surface. Kedar let out a shudder and settled back into the warm strength of his father’s arms.
“But that’s the point,” he countered. “No one outside the country really knows what’s going on. Perry has the place in grip! I’ve worked there before that criminal took power. I made a lot of contacts, from government officials to the country folks struggling to get by. I can get more than the party line because the people I know trust me. And they want the truth to be told. I have to go.”
And so it was done. Maurice gave her the courtesy of a discussion, but Ayo knew the decision had been made before that phone call ended. Three days later, the station manager sent a car for Maurice and two print journalists, one from each of the country’s major newspapers.
In Trinidad her extended family had become Roy and Gemma Charles and Neville James, who were also Maurice’s best friends. Roy and Gemma owned the Scarlet Ibis Restaurant. Neville operated an art gallery out of a magnificent colonial mansion near the Queens Park Savannah. “Come stay with us,” Gemma urged. “We can play in the Ibis kitchen and I’ll show you some more Trini dishes to keep your man fat and happy – well, at least happy,” she chortled.
“I’ve got my baby and my books,” Ayo laughed. “The time will fly and he’ll be home before we know it. You know how much I love being up here.” Bright bursts of flowers bloomed among the lush green plants carpeting their hillside. Broad banana leaves provided just enough shade against the brunt of the mid-day tropical heat. The evenings were fragrant and cool. “It’s just how I imagine the Garden of Eden would be.” Waving her friends off, she settled herself to wait for Maurice’s homecoming – and what a homecoming she planned for the man she loved!
That Sunday afternoon, after Kedar’s bath, Ayo dusted his warm, wriggling body with powder. She’d just leaned over to kiss his forehead when the phone rang. She grabbed it up, certain it was Maurice. “I’m on my way to the airport, “ he shouted over the static, wavering connection. “When we get to Trinidad, the station will have a car waiting to bring me home. See you soon, baby. I love you.” The connection failed, but Ayo plopped on the side of the bed and wept with relief. He was safe; he’d be home in a few hours.
By air, Meridia was an hour away. On-time flights were rare, even before the country’s upheaval. When four hours passed since his phone call, Ayo didn’t worry. Besides, there was always a traffic jam coming from Trinidad’s Piarco Airport. She and Kedar dozed in the cushioned rocking chair Maurice bought for his wife and son when Kedar was born. The memory of that day made her laugh out loud. Her strong man looked like a little boy at Christmas, dragging that chair out of the back of his too-small car.
The sound of a car winding up the hill jolted Ayo out of her barely-there sleep. “At last!”
She rushed out onto her porch and into the warm tropical night, cradling Kedar against her chest. She frowned; instead of four men there were three. Two of them were Maurice’s traveling companions. Roy had no reason to be there. Sunday was his only day off from the restaurant and with few exceptions, he spent it at home with Gemma,
She latched onto a shred of hope. Maybe this was another of the tricks Maurice loved to play on her. But one look at their stricken faces told her different. She began to tremble and in an eerily calm whisper, directed her questions to the man she knew best.
“Roy, what’s going on? Why are you here?”
Roy reached forward to place both hands on her shoulders. He struggled with words that came out in a ragged whisper. “Because I’m the only one who should bring you the news. His calm broke into heaving sobs, “Oh God, Ayo – Maurice was shot and killed!”
Ayo mouth fell open but there was no sound at first. Then her scream spiraled up and out into the night. She stumbled back. Kedar slipped from her grasp and clutched the front of her blouse, desperately scrambling to hold on. Terrified by the sound and his near-fall, Kedar wailed, burying his tear-streaked face into his mother’s chest. Ayo’s brain was frozen in disbelief but instinct pushed her to wrap her arms around her terrified child.
“NO”! She shrieked again. “I talked to him earlier. He was on his way to the airport!” her mind could not hold on. This was some horrible dream. Ayo squeezed her eyes shut, hoping that if she didn’t see them, the men standing on her gallery would be players in a nightmare from which she’d soon awake.
Ricky Maraj, one of the newspapermen, stepped forward. Dust settled on the jet black hair that brushed his collar. His dirty, torn shirt showed signs that something had gone wrong in what should have been an uneventful ride to Meridia’s airport. His jaw worked; he swiped one hand across his face and swallowed.
“Mrs. Montgomery, please hear me out. Maurice’s contacts got us into places that would have been difficult for anyone else, but thanks to him we got our story. One of the men we interviewed asked for a ride. We dropped him off near a rum shop and just as Maurice stood up to let him out, shots were fired in our direction. We all ducked, but Maurice was still outside.’ His voice broke. “And the shots hit him.”
Ayo swayed but Roy grabbed her before she and Kedar fell. “It was an area that was usually safe, but a dispute between the political factions spilled over into that neighborhood. We just got caught.” Maraj was utterly miserable; he looked like he would soon be sick.
“Where is my husband?” Ayo whispered, holding back the wail that would surely frighten her trembling son.
“Ayo, there’s more. As soon as these men got word to their papers and the TV station, the manager found Neville. You know he has connections. He took over. Went straight to one of his big time friends and chartered a plane. He said that anybody who stood in his way in that godforsaken Meridia would have a lifetime of hell to pay. He’s on his way to bring Maurice home. The plane lands at 3:00 tomorrow.”
Ayo’s head jerked up. “Now you hold on a minute!” A jolt of anger pierced through the fog of her shock. “Nobody asked me! I’m his wife. I’m supposed to bring him home!”
“Listen Ayo. No one wants to take away your rights. Black or not, you’d be spotted as a foreigner and when you opened your mouth, as an American. The US Embassy has rounded up all its personnel and they’re holed up in the embassy. They’ve evacuated their citizens from the medical school campus on the other side of the island. You see how serious it is?”
Ayo didn’t reply, but she knew he was right. His reasoning cooled her fury.
“You would be left with no protection. Although you hold a US passport, you’re not on the list of US citizens living on the island. Even if you got to the embassy, you’d be stranded. And if not, you’d be arrested. Then who would see about Maurice? And who would care for Kedar?”
This is not real. None of it; not this conversation, these people in my house – none of it. He was almost home. But being what he called a “true Caribbean man,” he had to find out the truth for his people. And being the good guy he had always been, he wouldn’t leave his source without a ride. Maurice’s good deed had gotten him killed. Weak from the weight of shock, Ayo clutched Kedar and dropped down on the couch. The two men who witnessed Maurice’s death each bent to take her hand and offer condolences that to all of them could never be enough.
Before she lost her courage, Ayo made the call to Canada that she dreaded. When Maurice’s sister dropped the phone and screamed out for her husband Trevor, Ayo had to repeat the dreadful words to her horrified brother-in-law.
“Lord, please help me,” she mouthed, over and over into the sleepless night. The next morning, she felt slapped awake, jerked from sleep and made to stand on legs too weak to hold the weight of her anguish. The sense of loss was a cold gray undertow, pulling her deeper and deeper into grief. Earlier Maurice’s Aunt Elvie had come up from Belmont to keep Kedar. The feisty matriarch was the Montgomery family’s backbone, but today she appeared shrunken and frail. Her voice trembled. “T’ank God my sister already gone; it woulda kill she to lose any of she chirren.”
As it was in the rainy season, a few minutes of hard rain gave way to a burst of sun that baked away any evidence of a downpour. Justine Lewis had flown all night from DC through almost every island in the Eastern Caribbean to be with her best friend. Roy and Gemma waited with the two women. They all stood at a door off the runway, clutching huge umbrellas. Trinis called them “house and land” but today Ayo found no amusement in her adopted countrymen’s knack for nicknaming anybody and anything.
Just as the brilliant tropical sun broke through, the plane bearing Maurice’s body turned in a semi-circle and began its descent. Ayo took deep gulping breaths to swallow her sobs. “Lord help me,” she mouthed the plea softly. “Hold me up.”
The door of the small plane opened. The cargo bay opened and Maurice’s smooth, polished coffin was placed inside the hearse’s double door. At the same time, an attendant lowered the steps for Neville to disembark. His grim, sorrowful expression broke through her stoic resolve.
“No, she murmured softly, “no.” She pressed a fist against her mouth to hold back the sobs. But instead of standing with them, Ayo broke from her friends and ran to the hearse. “I’ve got to go with him.” No one stopped her when she pulled open the front door to the hearse and slid in beside the driver. “I can’t let him take this ride alone.”
Later, alone in front of his open coffin, Ayo spoke softly to her husband. She caught the tears that ran freely down her face. “Remember how we danced to that calypso, “Wet Me Down?” Her sob was bittersweet. He would appreciate the joke, but he was gone and they couldn’t laugh together. “I love you so much, Maurice. You gave me everything – true love, a life full of joy, and most of all, our beautiful Kedar. This isn’t goodbye, my love. It’s just farewell until we meet again. And we will. You and I will be a part of each other for eternity.”
In the days after his memorial service, dusk was especially difficult. She remembered their second date. They stood together, watching the sun set over DC’s Tidal Basin. “Dusk and dawn are my favorite times of day,” she told him. “They remind me of the never-ending wheel of life.” But these days, dusk represented nothing but the beginning of dark.
“I can’t see past each day that begins and ends without Maurice,” she confided to Gemma, who urged her to move closer to their home in St.Ann’s. “You need to be with people who care for you and for Maurice. You know that’s what he would have wanted.” Ayo’s quiet, barely controlled despair frightened her friend.
But she couldn’t; she needed to be in the space they shared, with his clothes, his cameras and books, their bed; everything just as it had been on the day before he left for Meridia. At night she would pray to sleep at least until dawn. Through her grief, Kedar was her only solace. “What am I going to do here,” she asked herself one early morning, watching the coral and blue dawn blend into a new day. As much as she loved her new home and country, she knew she couldn’t stay there without Maurice. It would take just one more lonely rainy day to send her spinning over the edge. And then who would care for Kedar?
Three weeks later, after tearful farewells, Ayo and Kedar touched down at National Airport. Justine took a slow drive through the city – up 18th Street, onto Columbia Road and then onto Harvard Street, into the circular driveway of Harvard Hall, her art deco condominium.
“You’re home again. See how much Maurice loved you? How many men give their wives a deed to their own condo as a wedding gift?”
“I know,” Ayo sighed, struggling with the rush of emotions. “I was living here when I met him. He said ‘we can’t let go of the place we fell in love, now can we.’ And because of his love, I can come right back where I started.”
When she stepped inside, Ayo was overwhelmed by a sweet, almost physical sense of homecoming. Everything was in its place, exactly as it had been two years ago with the exception of one silver-framed photo that traveled on the plane with her. She set it on the small table next to her bed. It was of Maurice, his dimpled smile bright and beautiful forever.
She walked through the rooms and onto the sun porch, holding Kedar against her heart. This is where she would heal, raise her child and celebrate the memory of her husband. She was home, again.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

If You Don't Mind, It Don't Matter (Or Does It)?

Earlier today I watched Whoopi, Barbara, Joy, Sherri, and Elizabeth (Lawd, help this woman!) dissect the older man/younger woman dynamic. They trashed Rush Limbaugh’s Neanderthal statement that no one wants to see a woman age in public. (As opposed to aging in private behind baggy boxers, oh he of the little blue pill)? But what else should we expect of Rush?

Shonell Bacon, today’s guest blogger, examines the issue in reverse. How does the older woman/younger man dynamic affect a relationship – all aspects of a relationship? If you’re in a similar situation or know someone who is dealing with a May/December dilemma, read this post! Truthfully, for women and relationships of any age, her advice is not to be missed.

While you’re reading take special note of this quote: “One woman I know who is going through this EXACT same issue – among others – is Ayo Montgomery, the strong-willed main character of Niambi Davis’ debut novel…” Shonell is uniquely qualified to speak of Ayo’s hopes and fears. Everyone knows Bilal, the love of Ayo’s “prime of life”, but Shonell is one of the few people who knew Maurice, the great love of Ayo’s youth. Read what she has to say Click here to read more

Shonell really is everywoman, a woman dedicated to the craft of writing. Many years ago, I remember her as more than generous with her talent, her time and advice. It’s still true today. Here’s more about Shonell and why you should subscribe to her blog: Educator-everywoman Shon Bacon created the blog ChickLitGurrl as a way to express her angst as she tried to break BACK into the publishing industry as a solo author, but she quickly realized that she cared more about words and writing and talking about writing with other writers than she did waxing pathetically about her rejection woes. Thus, ChickLitGurrl: high on LATTES & WRITING was born. You can find her here:

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hot Fun in the Summertime - Voice Your Choice

Maybe the Weather Channel’s meteorologist for the Eastern Shore is suffering from heat stroke, because there is no way he or she could report a temperature of 75. As my father would say, it’s hotter than a burnt boot! But just like Ayo Montgomery, I love the summer. True, the sun shines in the winter as well, and there might be a case made for the sunlight on snow, but not for me. There is nothing like the bright, hot summer sun. And like Ayo, I’m an early riser. Many times daylight will find me on the mini-porch on the side of my house with a cup of coffee and a book. Today, however, my very special reading material was a review of From Dusk to Dawn by Monique (Deltareviewer) Bruner. What a way to begin the morning! She begins by speaking of vacation plans...

"When was the last time you took a vacation? As you make preparations, you are in total control – where to stay, what to see, everything is timed to the second. Until you fasten your seatbelt and realize that your ride will be a bumpy one. Well, that is exactly what Ayo Montgomery is going through. Ayo has finally recovered from her husband’s untimely death, her son leaving for college and the fact that her body product business is flourishing. She didn’t miss the male companionship until she laid eyes on Bilal Abdul-Salaam. Her nicely laid plans took an upswing making her life far more complicated and unpredictable.

Bilal is a peculiar businessman searching for the women of his dreams. As he takes a last minute appointment to help a friend, he finds his soul mate. Their initial meeting was a plane wreck waiting to happen. But their second chance encounter could be their first class ticket to love. That is if they can overcome societal (age, religious background, and culture) and other familial differences – they just might fly off into the sunset.

Ms. Davis flaunts her magnificent writing skills by offering a well crafted story, impressive attention to detail along with a dash of ethnic history. There is so much more than romance offered – you have suspense, explanation of the Muslim faith, details in family conflict, and sensuality. The secondary characters are extraordinarily written and add to the content of the storyline. The conflict made this story realistic and will embed these characters into your heart. Romance readers pick up From Dusk to Dawn because this is definitely worth the trip to the book store."

Be sure to check out more of Monique's reviews at www.myspacecom/realpageturners

Speaking of vacation, if the temperature is below 65, count me out. To put it bluntly, I’m not spending money to be cold. No skiing, snowboarding, winter wonderland for me. Give me the beach or the deck of a sailboat cruising around St. John, Cane Garden Bay, Tobago or Isla Mujeres. Or by the pool shown in my picture (December 2006 and I was in heaven)!So here’s a couple of questions: if someone showed up at your door with a suitcase full of pretty clothes and an open ticket to anywhere, what would be your vacation destination of choice? Has your dream vacation ever turned into a living hell?

Friday, June 6, 2008

Oh, Those Reviews!

Before I was a published author, I read a lot about reviews and how they should be taken. I agreed (and still do) that they shouldn’t be taken personally, unless they are in fact personal. But the minute I joined the ranks of published authors, I’ll admit that the sharp elbow of emotion nudged some of that “understanding” out of the way. I held my breath for weeks; I believe the same is true for many authors, whether they’ve published one or one hundred books.

Today I received a wonderful review from Tavares Carney of The Culture Clique Book Club. She writes “I particularly enjoyed Bilal’s persistence and reliance on his faith in winning Ayo over, and although Ayo is strong-willed, her vulnerability made her character more true to life. Bilal was able to love Ayo the way she needed to be loved.” That’s just what I hoped readers would take away from the story. Here is Tavares’ complete review.

In From Dusk to Dawn, author, Niambi Davis, takes us on a tumultuous love journey between main characters, Ayo Montgomery and Bilal Abdul-Salaam. Ayo, budding entrepreneur and single mother to a college-age son, Kedar, believes she is too old and set in her ways to be in a relationship at this point in her life; therefore, she definitely is not looking for love. With her primary focus on her skincare product business and seeing to her son’s needs, Ayo is all but blindsided when Bilal enters her world. Bilal, an eccentric gentleman, becomes smitten with Ayo the first day he walks into her home. From their initial encounter, Ayo and Bilal fight the feelings they have for each other. Later, they let their guards down and the two seemingly become one. Throughout their relationship, Ayo and Bilal face familial challenges and health complications that threaten their bond.

What I like about this atypical romance story is the fact that everything isn’t peaches and cream between Ayo and Bilal. I particularly enjoyed Bilal’s persistence and reliance on his faith in winning Ayo over, and although Ayo is strong-willed, her vulnerability made her character more true to life. Bilal was able to love Ayo the way she needed to be loved. What I most liked about From Dusk to Dawn, is the fact that the main characters did not succumb to societal views regarding the age difference in their relationship.

I would definitely read another book by Ms. Davis.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Against All Odds - Southern Comfort

I can’t say it enough – there is something that draws me to the South. Part of it is history, and the other part the land – places like Sapelo, St. Simons, and beautiful Tybee Island, shown in this picture, and which Pearl Cleage fans will certainly remember. Two weeks ago I caught a severe case of Savannah-itis. On that same trip, on the spur of the moment, one member of our group decided to drive from Savannah to South Carolina. Unfortunately I had to be home early the next day; it was the only thing that kept me from the state on my must-see list.
Today, I get my wish – well, in a way. The Against All Odds Virtual Tour makes a stop at the home of the Carolina Diva. I know her as an exceptional writer, a fabulous mother and a woman generous with her advice and assistance. She read an excerpt of Dusk to Dawn long before it became a 250 page book. And now that it has, read what she has to say about Ayo and Bilal and who “ain’t tryin to hear no mess.” I love it! I know you will, too.
And speaking of the South, for the entire month of June I’ll partake of some wonderful Southern hospitality as featured author with the SistahFriend bookclub. Founded in November 2004 by Tasha Martin, the sisterhood began with four members in Columbia, SC. This Book Club is a live and online reading and networking group for women that focuses on reading and discussing books by African-Americans and promoting unity through women empowerment and fellowship. Once a month, members bond as sisters and discuss literary works in settings designed according to a theme, place, or character in a selected read. I’m honored to accept their invitation – these women celebrate sisterhood and the written word in the best possible way. Please stop by and visit at

Monday, May 26, 2008

Road Trip!

This week, from May 25-31, I’m pleased to be featured as guest blogger for The Savvy Sista. It’s a call and response - I’ll tackle themes addressed in From Dusk to Dawn, ask a couple of questions and invite readers to weigh in. We’ve already gotten off to a great start with visits from loyal travelers on the Against All Odds Tour. Make sure you stop by and leave your own comments.
I’d also like to thank Minnie Miller, the Marvelously Mature Author and Essayist, for inviting me to visit. Click here to read the interview
Minnie is the author of The Seduction of Mr. Bradley, available at and Forever, My Love, posted here in Amazon Shorts
Be sure to check her out!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Evelyn Palfrey - Talk About Against All Odds!

Today's guest blogger is Evelyn Palfrey. By way of introduction, I have one thing to say: she brings new meaning to "Against All Odds." If you're drinking anything, put it down now before you spray the screen! Here goes...

After reading Niambi Brown Davis' From Dusk to Dawn, I was excited about the possibility of being courted by a younger man. Unlike Ayo, I’m headed toward 60, so ‘younger man’ for me would be in his mid-40’s. It was almost like I conjured him up. After several flirtatious encounters, he asked me out for dinner. Now all of that surprised me, but shouldn’t have. It was consistent with what my friends who in are those kinds of relationships reported--that the younger man initiated the contact and pursued the relationship.
So after spending way more time than usual selecting an outfit that would be both stunning and comfortable (read elastic), off I go to dinner. Okay so I had a little trouble getting in the low-slung BMW two-seater, and congratulated myself for having returned the 5-inch heels back to their dark corner of the closet in favor of more sensible ones. As we whizzed along the freeway, small talk revealed that he had bought the car right after the separation from Wife No 2. He owed it to himself, after all. I understand owing oneself, having spent 30 years on a job and raising several children.
At dinner, I learned the following salient facts: younger wives can be a real pain in the butt because they are expensive to maintain and they want children; judges are in cahoots with women to hold the Black man down; child support is unfair because there is no reduction for expenses such as BMW car payments; and credit card limits are easily reached because of all of the above. As I signed the credit card slip (as a loan of course), I was thinking, I need to re-read From Dusk to Dawn. I must have skipped a chapter.
Back at my front door, I’m wondering what is the proper protocol when the date has paid (even on a loan) for the meal she was invited to. But I don’t want him to think I’m acting chicken-shit over the loan, so I reluctantly accept his invitation into my living room and my bar. Okay, so the real deal is that I found it more palatable than the prospect of my nosy neighbor seeing me act a fool on my front porch. Through half a bottle of my best whiskey, he regales me with tales of the evil almost-ex wife, interspersed with comments about how nice and big my place is--with emphasis on big. Suddenly, his mood turns amorous, and in a tipsy way that I’m sure he thinks is sexy, he suggests that I go slip into something comfortable. I agree to do that, as I remember a line from Dangerous Dilemmas--“Honey, I’m way too old to have bad sex.”
Before Brothaman figured out what time it was, he was back on my porch, and I was in something comfortable, curled up in my bed with Bilal. The next time I decide to go against all odds, I’ll try a 30-something Hindu Jew.

EVELYN PALFREY is a native Texan, a graduate of Southern Methodist University and the University of Texas Law School. Besides working in the criminal justice system, she is an avid motorhomer and gardener, and is active with the Writers League of Texas, the Austin Romance Writers of America, the Travis County Bar Association and the Links Inc.
"I write stories that have middle-age heroes and heroines because I believe that romance is just as beautiful with a little grey at the temples."

Thursday, May 22, 2008

On the Road Again - Gratitude and Dee Savoy

Today’s Against All Odds Tour stop is a visit with best-selling romantic suspense author Deirdre Savoy. When she offered me an opportunity as guest blogger, the first word that came to mind was gratitude. A few years ago, Dee was an instructor in the writing course that led to From Dusk to Dawn. "I like your writing style, but you're giving too much away," she told me. Since then, she's been a mentor and a friend. And I still have those notes.

In my novel From Dusk to Dawn, Ayo Montgomery has some issues, but there’s a lot for which she is grateful. Twenty years after the sudden, tragic death of her husband, Ayo has not only survived, but thrived. Her beloved only child is a marine biology student in Florida. A hobby has turned into a successful business and she owns a home that she loves. My own road to publication was paved with the blessings of those to whom I refer as “literary angels.” What better place to speak of gratitude? Read on - I’m in the visitor’s chair at

Here’s more about Dee: Native New Yorker Deirdre Savoy’s writing career began on the shores of Martha’s Vineyard where she first started writing romance as a teenager. The island was the setting for her first novel, Spellbound, published by BET in 1999. Since then she has published more than a dozen books and two novellas, all of which have garnered critical acclaim and honors. Deirdre has won two prestigious Emma awards. Her work has been featured in a variety of publications, including Black Issues Book Review, Romantic Times, Affaire de Coeur and Blackboard Bestsellers List. Visit Dee at

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Day Six: On the Air with

Today's stop is On the Air with Instead of an interview conducted over hundreds of miles of telephone wire, my chat with host Marlive Harris was more like good conversation across the table in a cozy café. We delved into a lively discussion of the challenges facing Ayo and Bilal in From Dusk to Dawn. We talked about the expectations and challenges of a new writer, and the evolving state of black romance novels.

Click on the link below for the entire interview. And don't forget to drop me a line and share your own thoughts.

Here's more about today's host. is an online reading and book promotion community for readers and writers of all ages. Their reading communities for adults and children collectively consist of author interviews, book reviews, reading guides, book club listings, and interactive elements such as author podcasts, email discussion lists, online book chats and virtual book parties. Their web publicity service designs online book campaigns tailored to fit an author’s special interests, talents, books, and readership.

Thank you, Marlive!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Day Five - I Love Music (And So Does Shelia)

Today's stop on the Against All Odds Tour is hosted by author Shelia Goss. I've enjoyed reading her blog posts, especially "Divas in Music - Where Are They Now?" The first time I heard Jennifer Holiday sing, it was an almost religious experience.

Shelia is a woman of many talents. Although she has a Bachelor of Science in Engineering, her passion for writing has always been there. She decided to pursue her life-long dream after being down-sized from a Fortune 500 company. I'd say for certain that Shelia is living the dream. She's the author of the Essence and Black Expressions bestseller My Invisible Husband, Roses are Thorns, Violets are True, Paige's Web and Double Platinum. His Invisible Wife will be Shelia's fifth novel.Look for it in stores in 2009. For more information on Shelia, visit her at

And join us at Tell us what's on your playlist!

OMG - Look What I Found!

My father loved to fish. When I was old enough to go out into the Eastern Bay with him, I learned to troll – I’d bait my line, let it drag through the water and wait for a bite.

On Friday I trolled the Google search engine, and to my delight, hooked a 4 ½ star review from Lora McDonald of The Romance Reader’s Connection. I immediately fired off an email to my friend and publicist - "OMG - look what I found!"

I love her description of Ayo and Bilal’s first impressions of each other. And Ms. McDonald says she loves my style of writing - what a wonderful surprise and a great way to begin a weekend! Here’s her review of From Dusk to Dawn.

“There are no hard fast rules for love, so when Ayo Montgomery found herself falling for a younger man she couldn’t believe it. Ayo is a woman that has it together, running her own company from her home, doting on her son who’s away in college, and dealing with the issues of a maturing woman. Although she is a strong African American woman, her body aches with monthly pains that tear her insides apart. There are many days that the pain that racks through her body keeps her married to the bed. But a chance meeting with Bilal Abdul-Salaam at her front door helps her forget her pain if only for a moment. Despite the sparks that bounce between them it appears that they may not be suited for each other. She regards him as a Muslim stuck on himself and he sees her as a woman with a lot of mouth.

After his confrontation with Ayo, Bilal knew she was the one for him. A surprise meeting occurs that allows him to set a new tone for their relationship. Soon Ayo and Bilal become lovers despite the disapproval of his father and her twenty year old son. As time passes Ayo begins to suffer more and more with female problems. Encouraging her to seek professional help, Bilal stays by her side as she struggles to run her business while continually suffering from her pain. Finally Ayo receives news concerning her condition that destroys her hopes and dreams for a happy marriage to the first man that she has loved in twenty years.

I love Ms. Davis’s style of writing. She has taken real life situations and delivered them in a manner that anyone can relate to. Often personal issues that women face are not discussed and explored but glossed over. The pain that racked Ayo’s body affects a lot of women today, but to have a man as strong and intelligent as Bilal to assist a sister would be a dream come true for many. Ayo and Bilal didn’t have any easy start or ending to the relationship, and just like real life, people and judgments got in the way. Ms. Davis really gives you an idea of what happens in real life. You’ll enjoy this book.”

Reviewed by Lora McDonald, Rating 4 1/2

Like Ms. McDonald, I hope you'll enjoy this book:)

Friday, May 9, 2008

Day Four: Mama's Got Some Business-Get Some of Your Own!

"Oh my God! You just walked in on your mother locked in an intimate embrace with a man who is young enough to be her son! Well, maybe not quite that young, but he’s young enough to be your big brother from another mother and it’s just damned inappropriate! She should be ashamed of herself! What could she possibly be thinking?"

I'll bet that caught your attention, didn't it? For more on Day Four's theme, you just cannot miss author Ebony Farashuu's blog. Today she tackles the issue of a grown son who refuses to realize that his mother is also a woman. For more of this witty and heartfelt take on mama's business, visit Ebony at

Here's more about Ebony:

Ebony Farashuu, author of SLOW BURN, is a native of Tulsa , Oklahoma. She began reading at an early age. Her love of the written word soon progressed to writing stories and poems. As a teen, a typical crush on an R&B singer and the friendship of a fellow writer inspired her to write all of her thoughts and dreams down on paper. What started out as a joke between friends soon transformed into, literally, thousands of pages about the life that she dreamed of living one day. She eventually grew out of her superstar musings and grew into the art and creativity of writing down whatever her mind could imagine. In 2002, she self-published "Butterfly Kisses: Poetry For the Many Faces of Love".. This book won Honorable mention in the SCBC Self Published Author Awards for Poetry Book of the Year! In 2007, her novel, SLOW BURN was released by Kobalt Books. SLOW BURN continues to receive rave reviews and has landed on the reading lists of book clubs around the country!

Ebony Farashuu is co-host of The Corner Book Store, an hour long radio segment on local radio station Hot 1340. She is an active member of Sister's Sippin Tea Literary Group, and she is a contributing writer for Reading and Book Promotion Community.

Ebony Farashuu was recently named Best NEW Multi-Cultural Fiction Author as well as Best Multi-Cultural Fiction Author of 2008 by SORMAG MAGAZINE's Readers Choice Awards! Her Novel, SLOW BURN, was also cited as the Reader's Choice for Best Multi-Cultural Fiction Novel.

SLOW BURN is available at all major bookstores and online!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Against All Odds - Day Three - Mo Flames (The Hot Stop)

It's Day Three of the tour, and this is a hot stop! Today Mo Flames takes the "younger man, older woman" theme to her readers, and believe me, they tell it like it is. The posters have obviously given the theme some thought - debating the pros and cons, from the romantic at heart to the realist. The take on physical changes between older women and younger men made me go hmmm. We've all seen men who could be candidates for Mt. Rushmore with young and beautiful women. Here's what I say - if a man's six pack consists only of Bud Light, he'd better not utter a mumbling word about the effects of gravity on a woman's body! For more on this hot topic, visit Mo's place on Myspace - you will be entertained and informed!

Mo has rightly been called an up and coming superstar with the release of "One Ain't Enough." For more of the heat, visit her at In Mo's own words, "where there's smoke, there's Flames!"

Here's more about Mo:
Mo Flames is an electrifying, charismatic woman with the gift of touching lives and causing uproars with her words. Her gift of writing was almost overlooked in her teens. It wasn’t until a high school teacher impressed with her style of writing suggested she hone in on her talent. Mo Flames continued writing and her experiences and creativity fueled her written words. It was not long before she had her stories and other works posted on a popular MySpace blog. She suddenly had a huge fan base – all of this success without ever being published. Within weeks, her blog reader subscriptions grew and she continued to show up in the top ten rankings. In her debut novel ONE AIN’T ENOUGH, she is excited to present readers with even deeper entertainment and insight. “I take pleasure in creating twisted plots and surprise endings,” Flames proudly adds.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Against All Odds - Day Two

All aboard - it’s Day Two of the Against All Odds Virtual Book Tour! Today blogger Vee Jefferson will share what she believes is the greatest obstacle to keeping a couple from saying "I Do.”

There are so many facets to Vee. She’s the host of a wonderfully, exciting blogspot - VJBS, a collection of randoms. Although her main mission is to promote health and wellness, VJBS is for any and everything in between. It's a place for self expression and exploration. Here she blogs about books, music, poetry, movies, people - absolutely anything she finds interesting. VJBS is also the home of her Jowaje Philosophy. Vee uses this space to sit back, be quiet, and just listen as she reflects.

Vee Jefferson is a registered nurse, columnist, and freelance writer who writes on subjects ranging from health news and information to entertainment. She is the owner of Jowaje, a health information site whose mission is Education and Prevention ~ To Enlighten and Empower. Jowaje Publishing is the home of her soon-to-be-released eBook, The Truth About Healthcare: Uncensored, a guide originally written for patients to help them understand how to get the best care while in the hospital. But this excellent book has also become a voice for nurses already in the profession as well as for doctors who are interested in a raw glimpse into the world of nursing!

Visit Vee today and leave a comment at

And thanks, Vee, for sharing your space and your perspective with me!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Against All Odds - The Virtual Book Tour

Fresh from the wonderful Chicago-style Romance Slam, the Against All Odds Virtual Book Tour is about to make a stop at a site near you.

Please join me tonight for Stop Number 1 as I discuss my debut novel, From Dusk to Dawn, in an online radio interview with Tifany Jones of Sistah Confessions Book Club.

Time: 7:00 PM EST, May 6th, 2008

CLICK HERE or cut and paste the link below to go directly to the radio show:

Hope to "see" you there!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Romance Slam Jam (and the mini swag bag)

On Thursday, I’m headed to Chicago to the annual Romance Slam Jam. I love this conference – actually it’s more than a conference – it’s an experience! And it’s a gathering where black romance gets the large helping of love and respect it deserves. The organizers have been working for over a year, and have pulled out all the stops. I know it will be fabulous!
This year I’ll be on the other side of table. Instead of scooping them up, I’ll be handing out goodies. Check out this little bag. It includes a bookmark and sample of Ayo’s fragrant, luxurious cream. She loves to cook, eat and drink, so there’s a pretty postcard with a recipe from the first meal she cooked for Bilal. And then there’s that drink she enjoyed on Paradise Island (watch out, Miami Vice)!
Of course, there’s the CD. Both Ayo and Bilal are music lovers, and while writing the story, I decided it would be good to share their favorites with readers. One frequent visitor to my blog suggested that it would be a good companion to the book. I agree. From Dusk to Dawn – The Mix is definitely a musical journey through the love story of Ayo and Bilal. Some songs speak to Ayo’s realization that love is here at last. Others are the couple’s favorites – the songs to which they work and play. Others reveal pain, insecurity, determination and most of all, a deep and abiding love. Isn’t that what romance is all about?
And speaking of appreciation, thanks so much for your comments on the first chapter. Wait ‘til you get to Chapter Three!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Bringing the Heat

Eyes the color of dark amber? Full lush, lips? Body like a gladiator? You know I couldn’t stop there. Just how did Ayo recover from the sight of such magnificence? To those of you who mentioned the heat, believe me - there’s another layer added to the snap, crackle and pop. And it has nothing to do with DC’s infamous August heat! Read on...

Damn! As stupid as she looked, he probably thought he’d been paid
to appraise a collection of wall-mounted singing fish and wide-eyed
puppies painted on velvet.
Ayo scrambled to regain her composure, unaware that Abdul-
Salaam’s brows had knitted together into a frown. He speared her
with a sharp glance. “Since we made an appointment for today at 2:00,
who else could I be?”
Ayo’s head jerked up. Fine or not, he’d better check himself. Better
yet—she’d do it for him. “Since you didn’t show up wearing a name
tag, I had no idea who you were. I saw a man standing on my porch
with a duffle bag. For all I know you could be a baller or a burglar!”
Abdul-Salaam raised one thick, silky eyebrow. “Then you must be
familiar with a better class of burglar than the rest of us. I’ve never
heard of one who knocked on the door and introduced himself.”
Ayo’s patience unraveled. The heat flushing her body had nothing
to do with the cloying humidity that left the entire city gasping for air.
It was a warning, a Beware-of-Ayo sign: look out, because whatever
came to her mind would come flying out of her mouth like a poisoned
But not this time. Especially not in front of her next-door neighbor
who had just come out onto his porch and was paying more attention
to her and Bilal Abdul-Salaam than the circulars crammed into his
mailbox. Besides, she had started the drama. Even more, she needed
the appraisal. He was number one on Eileen’s list; how long it would
take to get an appointment with number two? This man must be a
damn good appraiser, but he needed a client relations intervention—
quick, fast and in a hurry.
Sighing, Ayo gave in. “Okay, look; we’re both wasting time,
bickering outside in this heat.” And the sooner he got to work, the
sooner he could be out of her house and on his way to whatever cave
he called home. “Since we’ve solved the identity crisis and I’ve already
paid my deposit, let’s put an end to the verbal sparring so you can
earn your money!” Ayo gestured to the open door. Bilal’s jaw
clenched. She expected him to turn on his heel and stalk away without
a word. Instead, his gaze swept over her bare arms and the expanse of
skin exposed by the scoop at the top of her dress.
“Oh, good Lord,” Ayo groused to herself. “What’s next? A speech
on modesty? If I’d known the jihad squad was coming, I would have
answered the door in crotchless panties!”
A long low whistle snapped her out of a mental recitation of words
synonymous with Neanderthal. “Man…this is beautiful!” Next to him,
Ayo’s eyebrow raised. She gave a smug snort. The room had that effect
on first-time visitors. Against walls the color of pale butter, a marble
topped mahogany console held her collection of barware. A large
armoire with carved pineapple columns sat between two windows
hung with curtains of sheer white batiste. It was the smaller version of
rooms found in great houses of the eighteenth century Caribbean. This
room, in fact her entire home, paid homage to the skill of West Indian
“Beautiful,” he repeated, murmuring his praise in a late-night
“Quiet Storm” voice that made Ayo think of a rainy night in front of
a fire with a man like him. But as gorgeous as he was, he’d waste the
romantic opportunity to deliver a stern lecture on the sins of the flesh.
When he stopped in front of the gleaming teakwood table, Ayo
squashed that thought and replaced it with a fantasy of his hand on
her flesh, the same way Bilal’s long fingers stroked the dusky rose
Weller vases arrayed on the long gleaming table. Slowly, he circled,
paying the same loving attention to the Roseville Pottery, gleaming
cobalt blue stemware, and the butterfly perched on the shoulder of
bisque Piano Baby in mint condition. For the first time since his
arrival, the furrow between his brows disappeared. “You have some
lovely pieces here.” He looked up at Ayo and her breath hitched. It
was the smile—it transformed him from scowling to spectacular. This
time the heat that flushed her body had nothing to do with anger or
the weather and everything to do with the slow, sensuous movement
of his hand. Ayo willed away the sharp and unexpected attraction to
the man whose face she wanted to slap just seconds before.
“Thanks,” she murmured, lowering her eyes in case they beamed
her erotic thoughts straight out into the room. She gestured to the card
table that could hold his laptop and camera. “If you need anything
else, I’ll be in the kitchen. It’s through that door.” She pointed to the
golden mahogany door, painted from top to bottom with a graceful,
curving palm tree. The word “welcome” was etched above it in
stenciled script. His lush lips turned up into a smile. “Beautiful and
creative.” In spite of the heat, she welcomed the warmth that surged
through her body. Maybe I misjudged him.
Ninety minutes later, Ayo pushed away from the table, intending to
head for her home office. Instead, she stood rooted to the spot, unable
to tear her eyes away from the sight that greeted her. Bilal stood with
his back to the door. His long legs were spread apart. Dark gray fabric
cupped his sculptured butt like the palms of a lover. A roadmap of
veins stood out in the lean, muscular arms raised high over his head.
He arched his neck, and the luxurious locks fell like a curtain of velvet
around his broad shoulders. It was just a stretch, to work out kinks
that must have come from an hour and a half of bending,
photographing and cataloging, but from him it was an erotic, primal
celebration of masculinity. Ayo felt a sharp pull in her solar plexus,
and lower; the sweet tightening that a woman never forgets, no matter
how long the dry season has lasted. Baby, baby, baby! A play list of
suggestive song titles slid into her brain like a sexy slow drag. No
doubt this man did more with his body than sit at a desk, poring over
books on glassware and pottery. She slipped back into the kitchen,
glad that her bare feet made no sound. An involuntary, sensual smile
curved her lips. What a waste! A man so mouthwatering had no right
being a puritanical zealot.
Bilal pulled a paper towel from the roll stashed in his duffel bag,
swiping it across his forehead and inside the collar of the shirt that
stuck to his back like wet tissue. Shaking his head, he looked up at the
ceiling fan and over at the floor model in the corner. Every piece that
adorned the pale yellow walls and gleaming hardwood floors bore the
grace of Ayo Montgomery. Like its owner, the house was beautiful. But
today it was as hot and steamy as a sweat lodge! At least the final
picture of each piece and its markings had been taken. He placed the
digital camera and tripod back in the duffle bag, glad he could
complete the rest of his valuation in the cool comfort of his air
conditioned home. Bilal stood and stretched again. Right now what he
needed was a tall glass of cold ice water.
When he knocked on the half-opened decorative door, Ayo
Montgomery twisted around.
“Oh! You surprised me, Mr. Abdul-Salaam. Can I help you?” She
stood quickly, tugging at her dress with one hand and pressing the
other against the skin at the base of her throat. Bilal’s head jerked up.
He fixed a stare on the green and yellow stripes on the kitchen
curtains; anything but the bare skin of the woman in front of him.
“May I have a glass of water, please?”
Her expression changed from surprise to chagrin. “Oh, I’m so sorry!
I know it’s boiling in here. I should have brought you something to
drink a long time ago. Every air conditioning repairman in the city
must be on call. I guess that’s why I can’t get one of them to show up
here.” When she smiled, he noticed a dimple that ended just below the
constellation of three tiny moles on her right cheek.
While she filled a glass with crushed ice and water from the door of
the refrigerator, Bilal looked around the room. In the bright yellow
kitchen, a blend of aromas wound around one another. The sharp,
tangy scents of pineapple and lemon were laced with coconut and
softened by another fragrance with a similar, richer scent. Through a
window over the sink, the green length of a luxuriant back yard was
visible. Although the high heat of summer had driven most of the
blooms into hiding, the graceful weeping willow, ornamental grass
and wildflowers made the garden an urban oasis.
“Here you are. This should bring you back to life.” Without its
earlier sharp bite of anger, her voice spread over him like cook silk.
When she offered him the cold, sweating glass, Ayo Montgomery was
close enough for him to breathe the clean, orange-blossom scent of her
hair. He stood frozen like a display window mannequin.
“Mr. Abdul-Salaam?” she repeated, holding the glass out further.
“Oh, sorry,” she exclaimed, plucking a green-bordered cloth napkin
from the table and wrapping it around the damp surface. Her fingers
brushed his hand. Bilal flinched and stepped back, as if the cool drink
had suddenly transformed itself into a hot poker.
Ayo blinked. A fleeting glimpse of confusion crossed her face before
it morphed into a mask of controlled anger. She banged the glass
down, sloshing icy water over the striped table cloth. “You know
what? You Taliban wanna-be’s piss me off, trying to prove you’re more
Muslim than the Grand Ayatollah himself! I touched your hand, Mr.
Abdul-Salaam; I didn’t grab your crotch!”
Bilal’s eyes flashed a stormy dark brown. A muscle twitched in his
clenched jaw. His voice was cold as the slushy liquid he didn’t get to
drink. “Well check this out, Mrs. Montgomery—I wouldn’t let you
close enough to grab my crotch! First you treat me like I’m a home
invader; make me work in that sauna without a drop of water, and
now this? You’re just like those other Bible-beating Crusaders—instant
experts on Islam after hearing a five-second sound bite by a gang of
know-nothings. You have no idea of what you’re talking about, but
I’m not surprised!”
Ayo spun around and turned her back, tossing the last words over
her shoulder. “Here’s what I do know—if you weren’t finished in
there, you are now! Don’t bother to come back with your report. Mail
it along with your bill. And you can see yourself out!”

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Ayo and Bilal - The Beginning

I've been talking about it since the beginning of March and so many of you have shown your support. Now that the book is about to hit the shelves, a sneak preview is in order. Enjoy!

A stab of pain jerked Ayo Montgomery awake. Peering at the clock
through slits of barely opened lids, she dragged herself to a seated
position. This pale orchid room had always been her sanctuary but
today it was a fragrant, steamy prison. She reached out, groping for
last night’s glass of water and two red and white capsules. Before
tossing them down her throat, Ayo grimaced. She eased her head back
against the mound of pillows. Shifting again, she drew her knees to
her chest. The phone rang, disturbing her short-lived relief. That
morning, the soft tones sounded like shrill clanging. Glancing over at
the caller ID, Ayo squeezed her eyes shut, picked up the handset and
jabbed “talk.”
“You know why I picked up this phone? Just so I could hang up on
“Whoa, Ayo! Are you still pissed?”
“Pissed? Pick one reason, Justine—the oiled-up blubber belly or the
scrawny scarecrow?”
“Come on, Ayo—I told you last night that I’m sorry!”
“You ought to be.” Ayo’s snarl eased into a low chuckle. “Just
teasing. I’m not pissed, I’m in pain. It’s my never-ending female
problems.” She sighed, twisting to press her side against the pillows
bent into a wedge of firm support. “But back to last night–I let you
drag me to your cousin’s book club, but why did the discussion end
up with two broke-down, cut-rate strippers? Where’d they get those g-strings?
A ten-pack from the dollar store?”
“Stop!” Justine Lewis-Randall giggled. “Elmira decided it was a
fitting finale to the discussion of Erotique Noire.”
“She did, huh? Then Elmira should stick to selecting books and
leave the selection of man-candy for somebody else. The only thing I
wanted to do after seeing those two erotically-challenged jokers was
laugh. And that skinny one—ole boy should have been dancing to
‘Hungry Like a Wolf.’ Besides, if I want to, I can get my own halfnaked
sweaty man.”
As soon as the words left her mouth, Ayo dropped her head in one
hand. Too late. It was just the opening her best friend needed.
“Oh you can? According to my recollection, you’ve only been out
with two men in eighteen years.”
“Then you must have been sleeping with Rip Van Winkle instead of
Nick Randall,” Ayo shot back. “Besides, men our age want a model
just off the showroom floor. And I’m not nipping, tucking or sucking
anything out of my body to please some old dude who’ll need a blue
pill before I’ll need K-Y jelly! And I’ll be damned before I turn into a
“Cougar? Ayo, I don’t know what you’re talking about, but I can’t
wait to find out.”
“Don’t worry,” Ayo chuckled. “I’m not going “Animal Planet” on
you—besides you’ve already got your man.” Ayo teased. “But for
your information, a cougar is an older woman on the prowl for
younger men. According to the woman I saw on TV there’s a whole
movement out there. But this one looked like a dried up stick of beef
jerky with lots of hair and a wrap-around grin. They should have
picked a better spokes-kitty to represent them,” Ayo giggled.
Justine gagged on the laughter stuck in her throat. “Ayo, you are so
wrong. I do not believe you said that!” she croaked out.
“It’s true! Anyway if the time is right, the man will find me, he’ll
have to because I’m sure not looking. But I’ve got to get myself up and
ready for an appraisal. You remember my mother’s collection of
pottery and glass? I’m certain they’re worth more than I thought.”
“So who did you get to do the appraisal?”
Finally something to veer Justine off the track of her relentless
matchmaking. She meant well—in the thirteenth year of her own
happy marriage, she wanted something close to that kind of life for
Ayo. But Ayo’s life didn’t need fixing—she was finally at a place of
peace, and although it might be nice, she didn’t need a man to make
her life complete.
“His name is Bilal Abdul-Salaam. Eileen recommended him. He’s
done some work for her gallery and he was at the top of her list.
Anybody who’s alright with her is more than good enough for me.”
“What a strong, masculine name—is he a Muslim?”
In slow motion, Ayo pushed herself off the crumpled sheets, pulling
the damp t-shirt away from her sticky skin. “I don’t know, but it’s hot
and my whole body is crying for mercy. I want as little fabric as
possible touching me, so whatever he is, he’d better be prepared to see
some skin.”
Justine was too genteel for a full belly laugh—her chuckle escalated
into as much of a guffaw as she could muster. “So what do you think
he’s going to do? Run out of the door at the sight of your bare arms?”
“At $100.00 an hour, he shouldn’t care if I’m flaunting a furtrimmed
see-through and three-inch heels. Some Muslim men have a
problem with a woman not being covered, but if he’s one of them, he’d
better walk with some blinders.”
“Ayo, give the brother a break,” Justine giggled. “Besides, this Mr.
Abdul-Salaam might be interesting…” She let the sentence trail off
into an unspoken suggestion.
In spite of her pain, Ayo burst out laughing. “You don’t give up, do
you, Miss Matchmaker? You’re hopeless; at the rate you’re going, any
man who can get the subject and verb to agree might be interesting.
Right now the only man I want to see will be toting a toolbox and a
container of Freon. But I love you anyway,” she chuckled. “And I’ll
talk to you later.”
Ayo didn’t feel like it, but just before two o’clock, she pulled on a
simple orange shift and slipped her feet into matching flat sandals.
Although her cramps had all but disappeared, what she really wanted
was to drape herself in the shapeless bag of a Hawaiian print housedress
that barely touched her skin. She pulled her fingers through her
hair. The light brown twists fanned out, brushing the tops of her
shoulders. A pale tinted gloss was the only makeup she could bear to
touch her face. Out of habit, she reached for “Ayo’s Ambrosia”, the
signature scent she created for herself. But she set the vintage atomizer
back on the dresser. One spray would be a return invitation for the
headache she’d finally gotten rid of.
At two o’clock the brass pineapple knocker struck the door. When
Ayo swung it open she couldn’t keep her eyes from rolling. Not today!
Here we go again…”
“Yes?” The word unfurled like the sneer it was intended to be. Why
couldn’t these street ball players follow one simple sign? The public
courts were only one more block down the street. Look at him—vanity,
thy name is baller. Apretty boy at that, posed at her door like the prince
of the city.
Nothing was out of place on this man, not even a drop of
perspiration on a day that was a preview of hell. The dove-gray linen
shirt and charcoal pants fit as if each thread had been woven over his
body—but she didn’t know what kind of ball he planned to play in
that GQ ensemble. He was clearly lost, but he was wasting her time.
“Mrs. Montgomery?” When he leaned back to stare up at the
numbers above the brass knocker, the cool gray fabric flattened
against his broad chest. “I’m Bilal Abdul-Salaam.”
Ayo’s mouth dropped open. She was glad he didn’t extend his hand
because hers was stuck to her side. “You can’t be!” The haze of
annoyance cleared, and Ayo’s stomach took a slow somersault. Good
Lord! He was nothing like the picture she had formed in her mind—
the one in which Bilal Abdul-Salaam would be an academic, no-nonsense,
righteous right-on brother. Instead she stared up into eyes
the color of dark maple syrup. His face brought to mind a magnificent
tribal mask—eyes like chips of dark amber, high cheekbones and lush,
full lips. Could skin really be that color? His was ebony brushed with
a hint of amber and gold. A slender mustache rimmed his mouth and
chin, blending into the fine beard that dusted a strong jaw line. Each
coil of his immaculate locks flowed past broad shoulders, tied back by
two pencil-thin pieces of his own hair. He was over 6 feet of primal,
yet refined masculinity. If Gladiator had been filmed south of the Sahara, this man could have been its star.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Wait - There's More!

Yesterday’s Dusk to Dawn online launch party was so much fun! Who knows what would have happened had those virtual mango martinis been the real deal? Blogtalk Radio was lit up – host Yasmin Coleman kept the questions and conversation flowing smoothly. And the chat log – it was hilarious with good-natured back and forth over just who would be the winner of Ayo’s Beach Bag. And speaking of prizes, we were so caught up in the good time that I forgot to mention the Dusk to Dawn CD. It’s a mix of songs – some rhythm, some blues, some soulful ballads and a little bit mo’. There are five available. To whet your appetite, the first track is Jill Scott’s Celibacy Blues. The same rules apply. Visit the blog, post a comment, and be in it to win it!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

It's In the Bag!

Calling all beach lovers - by now you've read the blog and received the notice about Sunday's Dusk to Dawn online launch party. I dropped a couple of hints about the prize and even promised a sneak peek. Right after that, my camera conspired against me, and it has taken me this long to get a picture. But I am nothing if not determined, and instead of a few days ago, at 7:18 pm on the day before the party, I finally got it to work. So here it is - the grand prize, la piece de la resistance, the beach bag of all beach bags! But first, some background information.

In the midst of despair, Ayo Montgomery makes a "save her life" decision and seeks refuge and peace on Harbour Island in the Bahamas. For the hours she spent on the pink sand beach, she carried a fully packed beach bag. But for some fortunate party guest, there's be something more than sunscreen and shades. This very special version of Ayo's Beach Bag contains a cream, coral and green striped towel, a copy of From Dusk to Dawn, the matching bookmark, two lovely champagne flutes and a set of "Sun and Sand" tealights. For the winner's listening pleasure, I've included the Dusk to Dawn remix, a soulful musical journey through the story of Ayo and Bilal. You may not know it, but Ayo creates her own line of bath and body products. For apres-beach pampering, enjoy Ayo's Maracas Bay Coconut Cloud, Orange Blossom Balm and Pink Sands Soap.

See you Sunday, April 20th, 6:00 pm est at www.blogtalkradio/ycoleman - you might be the lucky winner!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Queen for a Day!

That’s exactly how I feel. I’ve already been interviewed by Romance in Color ( And today I’ve been invited, not once but twice, to sit a spell and chat with both Shonell Bacon and Gwyneth Bolton, two women who’ve already made their mark in the literary world. They’ve graciously given me space at their spot to talk about From Dusk to Dawn, my road to publication, and even a little bit about me :)
You can find my interviews at
Please stop by and leave a comment.
P.S. Don’t forget to join me on Sunday, April 20 from 6:00 to 7:00 pm for the official launch of From Dusk to Dawn. For more information,
contact or

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Let the Countdown Begin!

This time last year, I didn’t know when it would happen (but I knew it would). And now it’s finally here. Next week marks the release of my debut novel, From Dusk to Dawn, and the beginning of the “Against All Odds” Book Tour.
Against All Odds? Why not From Dusk to Dawn? Before I give you a sneak peak of what’s in store (and what goodies there are to be had) a little explanation is in order. Many book tours have a name; a kind of hook that stays in the minds of readers. For my book, “Against All Odds” is the best way to describe the story of two such mismatched characters.
Their first meeting was as explosive as a nighttime lightning storm. That first verbal showdown should have spelled the end of Ayo and Bilal. If they couldn’t manage a civil conversation, how could they fall in love? But they did – deeply and completely. However, in fiction as in real life, the course of even the greatest love never runs smooth. Bilal and Ayo make it through the minefield of differences in age, faith and family opposition, only to face an unexpected challenge and the greatest threat to their future. For one of them love means letting go, but for the other, it means holding on, against all odds.
Now for the goodies: they’re all to be had on Sunday, April 20 at 6:00 pm. That's when APOOO Bookclub kicks off the online launch party. Get ready for a good time - there’ll be great conversation and prizes, including books and Amazon gift certificates. The piece de resistance and grand prize is a tropical-themed gift basket filled to the brim with a copy of the book, bath and body products made by Ayo herself, a pair of exquisite champagne flutes, and an accompanying CD with music inspired by the book. Next week I’ll post a picture – it’s a beauty!
Stay tuned for daily excerpts and samples of music inside the book. The countdown begins now – see you there!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Good News 'Round Midnight

What did we do before the internet? It’s not really a question, because I know exactly what we did back in the land before time. We were slaves to the twin terrors - the IBM Selectric and King Xerox. And prisoners of the jack-in-the wall landline phone. But it’s a new day. All it takes to spread the word or good news is one click of the mouse. So imagine my delight, when in the middle of the night, my first review for From Dusk to Dawn appeared in an email. Read this 4+ review and you’ll know why my early morning buzz had nothing to do with coffee. Here’s what Marguerite Lemons, Romance in Color reviewer, had to say about From Dusk to Dawn:

CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE |4+| Marguerite Lemons
REVIEW: Ayodele “Ayo” Montgomery was widowed at a young age. She returned to the Washington, D. C. area from Trinidad after the death of her husband, and built a successful skin care company; all while raising her son Kedar, who is now in college. The last thing Ayo is looking for is love, and especially with a younger man. Bilal Abdul-Salaam is a much sought after antiquities appraiser and restorer who has been waiting for the right woman to marry and have his children. When Ayo answers her door she is unprepared for the feelings that assail her at the sight of Bilal and he is just as taken aback at the sight of her. Ayo cannot believe that she is attracted to a younger man, and she is afraid of how her son will react to their relationship. When she finds out that she may not be able to give Bilal the family he desires, she decides to let him go. But Bilal will not have any of that; he is determined to make her his wife no matter what obstacles stand in their way.

Ayo is a strong willed, independent woman. She has overcome the loss of the love of her life at a young age, and against all odds created a successful business out of her soap making hobby. My only problem with her was her constant self-doubt, snap judgments, and her willingness to give up the man she claimed to love so easily. Bilal is a strong, even-tempered, and level-headed man. He is extremely patient and caring, and he bends over backwards to help Ayo.

FROM DUSK TO DAWN is a riveting story of an unconventional romance. The odds are against the leads’ relationship from the beginning. There is the clash between their religious beliefs and the difference in their ages. I enjoyed the way that Ms. Davis worked through all of the characters problems. The supporting characters were considerate and encouraging to the couple, and I thought the friction between Ayo’s son, Kedar, and Bilal was handled very well. The author also managed to weave into the mix the issue of infertility in older women brought on by endometriosis and other ailments. She even broached the topic of depression and the characters ability to acknowledge and cope with it.

Ms. Davis is to be commended for a well written and interesting story. I enjoyed it and will recommend it to my friends.

Of course, I emailed my thanks to Ms. Lemons. Here is her reply:

“I was trying hard not to tell the whole story because people really need to buy this book and read it for themselves. As for Bilal, I gave them a hint, so they are going to have to read the book to find out just how good he is!... So, you are welcome, but I really have to thank you for writing such an enjoyable story. I really had forgotten that this is your first novel. You really are to be commended for such exceptional work. I look forward to reading your next one.”

My second book is in the works. I know what I have to do...

Friday, March 28, 2008

Blog Radio Virgin

I had the presentation lined up in my head and on paper, just to make sure. My phone was sufficiently charged. I brewed a pot of rocket launcher coffee so that I, too, would be sufficiently charged. After all, it wouldn’t do to fall asleep and send a loud thud over the airwaves when the phone slipped from my hand and hit the floor. Or worse, subject listeners to an hour and a half of oblivious, uninterrupted snoring. So at dial-up time, I was ready.
Or so I thought. At 8:00 pm last Friday I felt like a first-timer at the Apollo, shaking with fright and waiting for the big wooden hook to jerk me off the stage. Wes Craven’s movie title popped into my mind – The Hills Have Eyes. I was home alone, but I could swear those hills were right there in the room I could see them peering intently at me, shaking their heads back in forth in a naysayers version of the stadium wave, and silently critiquing my words as they unraveled like a ball of string in space, going absolutely nowhere.
But it got better as I went along, thanks to our host Ella Curry( I shared the air with Trice Hickman ( C. Rance Redman (, great guests who spoke with ease and eloquence of their works. I finally got over my fear and joined in. It was my blog radio baptism by fire. And when it was over, instead of coffee, I could have used a very dirty martini. Next time I’ll be ready. I’m a virgin novelist too, and I’ve got a book to promote!

Friday, March 21, 2008

You Write What?

When I announced that I’d written a book, friends and acquaintances celebrated with me. As soon as I uttered the words “romance novel” some of their hearty congratulations turned to patronizing amusement. “Oh how cute,” one murmured, as if my book was a third grade essay I’d proudly presented to the world. Was it my imagination, or did they begin to speak slower and louder? To them, romance writing isn’t real writing – not at all. And when I heard the words “highbrow” and “lowbrow” from another aspiring author, I knew I was in the presence of a snob who believed that skill and storyline were mutually exclusive.
Speaking of snobs, I have to ‘fess up. Until the late 90s I had never read a romance novel. The covers turned me off. Instead of bodice-rippers, I referred to them as back-breakers. In those days, more often than not, the heroine’s entire body was bent back by 100 pounds of hair and an adoring glance into the eyes of a hero with a nearly-shirtless, Masters of the Universe chest.
But when I was presented with a box of Arabesque classics, I was hooked. Nobody was getting beat up or strung out. And on a week when everything that could go wrong did just that, escape into a love story was as soothing as a cup of hot tea or a glass of Pinot Gris. So when I picked up the pen, romance was the genre in which I chose to write. For some, knowledge that the hero and heroine will be together at story’s end is a turn-off. To me, what makes a great story is the journey they take from the beginning to the happily ever after end. Besides, who hasn’t experienced that magic moment when all is well with love? A romance novel leaves the reader with a sweet taste on the tongue; the next step on that journey is up to the imagination.