Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Stacy Eaton Online: Author Interview of Ahmad Taylor

Writer's Wednesday with Ahmad Taylor

 It's Writer Wednesday and we are happy to have 
Ahmad Taylor, author of Dark Side of the Moon
here with us today!


Tell us a bit about yourself:
Do you work another job when you are not writing?

I am a freelance writer in the private security industry.

What is your favorite thing to do when you aren’t writing?

Besides constantly checking on my book sale statistics?
I love playing sports. I like the exercise and the competition.

What is your favorite color? Why?
This is gonna’ sound super manly, but as a kid it was pink because I loved strawberry milk and I associated the color with the flavor.
As an adult I like most shades of blue. Navy is strong and powerful, and light blue is bright and inviting.

What is your favorite season? Why?

There is nothing at all like springtime in NYC (where I’m originally from). When the black snow starts melting, the air warms up, and the city is filled with beautiful people happy to shed their bulky winter gear.

If you could live anyplace on earth, where would it be? Why?

Somewhere in Scandinavia. I visited Denmark and Amsterdam for a month once and found the culture to be very warm and inviting, even when the weather is not. 

If you could have any car, what would it be?

Maserati. It exudes power and confidence. Plus it is very fast and luxurious.

Tell us about your writing: 

How long have your been writing? Was it a dream, a goal or is it just a hobby?

I started writing poetry in college and had one of my poems published in 2004.
I began writing short stories in college as well. I took several English Literature classes, where is where my true interest in writing fiction began. 

How many hours a day do you devote to writing?

Between emails, blogs, and my working on the sequel to DARK SIDE OF THE MOON, between 4-6 hours.

Do you have a set routine or do you write when the mood strikes?
Both. I am actually still trying to find just the right schedule for myself in terms of writing and marketing, but I do try and set aside a few hours daily to write something.
I also do believe in “striking while the iron is hot”, so when an idea pops up out of the blue, I try and run to a computer and run with it.

Is there some place special you like to be when you write?

Not really. I write wherever I have space in my home. I like to stretch out a bit and blast my music, so wherever that is possible is where I will get going.

Do you listen to music or do you need a quiet place to write?

I like darkness and loud music when I’m working.

Tell us about your book:

What is the name of it and is it part of a series or a stand-alone novel?

I am currently working on the follow-up novel, filled with lots more suspense and tons of thrills.

Where did the idea come from? How long did it take to write?

A dream.
One night last March I had a crazy dream about my sister. She and I were working aboard a ship in outer space when suddenly she went missing. The rest of the dream was filled with me trying to find her and trying to convince all those around me that she actually existed and was not a complete figment of my imagination – typical Twilight Zone episode.
When I woke up from the dream I had quite a sweat going. After a few hours of unsuccessfully trying to fall back to sleep, I finally grabbed a pen and pad and jotted down a plot-outline. At first I was only writing down quick thoughts and ideas, but when it was all said and done, I had 8 pages of detailed notes on character development, plot flow and had something I genuinely could turn into a story, so I grabbed my laptop, my outline and began to create.
When writing I started pulled several 18+ hour sessions and had a first draft in 27 days. After another 2 ½ months I had a 90% complete manuscript. Unfortunately, I put it down for several months after that, and therefore did not complete it and publish until January, but in actual writing, editing, proofing time… 4 months total.

What is it about?

DARK SIDE OF THE MOON is an action-packed Suspense/Thriller about government agent Derrick Thomas who awakes from a disturbing dream to find a message from his father asking for help. As he sets out to lend his assistance he quickly discovers that not only can he not find his father, but that a clandestine government agency is out to derail his search before it can begin. After the murders of two of his father’s colleagues and the further disappearances of his mother and sister, Derrick is thrust into a fight for his own life and a struggle to uncover details of a secret government experiment which his family may be part of. 
Will he be able to save them and uncover the truth before he becomes the next victim of an organization bent on keeping him silent?

Your other work:

Do you have any upcoming projects in the works or other books that have been published?

“Are you afraid of the dark?” Well you should be… I am currently working on the action-packed sequel to DSOM.

Where can readers connect with you?

You can check out webpage where you can find information about current and future projects; excerpts from DSOM; 5-star reviews; current FREE Giveaways; and my general whimsical musings via my blog at:



Google +:

Where can we buy your books?
DSOM is currently on sale at Amazon:
*Paperback to be released end of March

You can follow Ahmad Taylor interview and Stacy Eaton at:

Kim Mullican Online: Author Interview of Ahmad Taylor

I’m very excited to introduce you to former NYC Police Officer and Author Ahmad Taylor!

KM:  Welcome Ahmad!  Thank you for taking time out to stop by my blog.  Tell us about your book,

AT:  DARK SIDE OF THE MOON (DSOM) is a Suspense/Thriller with a dash of Sci-fi to keep things fresh and interesting.
The story revolves around an ex-government agent: Derrick Thomas, and his attempts to find and save his family who has gone missing.
The Thomas family is a group of well educated; extremely successful; and highly trained scholars who each have served their government in some capacity at various points in their lives.
The story starts off with Derrick receiving a message from his father asking for assistance with retrieving some private data files for a research project his father is engaged in. The reader quickly learns, along with 
Derrick, that his father’s service with a seemingly benign agency extends well beyond the “occasional researcher”, and when he seeks the assistance of his sister in helping his father, Derrick discovers that his sister has also been downplaying her responsibilities with this very same agency.
The story then takes you on Derrick’s perilous journey to uncover a slew of secrets that he hopes will piece together the puzzle of where his family  is located at and him bring them to safety.

Book Blurb:  Government agent Derrick Thomas awakes from a disturbing dream to find a message from his father asking for help. As he sets out to lend his assistance he quickly discovers that not only can he not find his father, but that a clandestine government agency is out to derail his search before it can begin. After the murders of two of his father’s colleagues and the further disappearances of his mother and sister, Derrick is thrust into a fight for his own life and a struggle to uncover details of a secret government experiment which his family may be part of.  Will he be able to save them and uncover the truth before he becomes the next victim of an organization bent on keeping him silent?

KM:  Ohh, a clandestine government agency!  Do you think your time in law enforcement aided in your world building in DARK SIDE OF THE MOON.

AT: I have never personally dealt with any clandestine organizations, but then again, how would I have known at the time?
Both my background in law enforcement and private security (over 10-yrs combined) definitely gave me some added insight into working for government agencies both on the local and federal level. Much of the fighting scenes were derived from simple, yet effective self-defense techniques that law enforcement officers receive in their training.

KM: Your cover art doesn’t mention a publisher.  Are you choosing the self-pubbed route?  What framed your decision?

AT: I self-published DSOM* in January, 2012.
The decision came after several long months of waiting by the proverbial phone (really email and snail-mail these days) for a response to the hundreds and hundreds of queries I sent out to agents and the handful of publishers that allow direct submissions from authors.
I had gotten to a point where I was physically and emotionally drained from the entire experience of trying to be heard (read) by “traditional” houses. I was becoming rather disheartened with the entire ordeal and was sitting on my book for nearly a year when a good friend sent me an article on Indie writers and the chance for success with self-publishing.
I had started writing DSOM with not only the intention  of making one hell of a story that readers would be talking about and appreciating with friends for years to come, but also to have my words reach the proverbial “masses” who could enjoy my hard work. I had lost faith in the idea of getting my work into the hands of many who could decide for themselves the worthiness of my words.
After reading the article that my friend had sent me, a veil was lifter from my eyes and too the fear of NEVER getting published.

KM:  A lot of my followers are also fellow writers.  Describe your writing process for us.  What works for you?  How long did it take you to write, edit and prepare for publishing?

AT:  When I started DSOM, I was very motivated. I had never taken on something of that magnitude before, so in the beginning I did not have a very solid game plan.
I grabbed my hand-scribbled notes and just jumped right in. The first few nights (I prefer writing late night into the a.m.) I would grab some tea, some earbuds pumping a random playlist, and just write every single thought I had in my head. I was so afraid that I would forget something that I just typed as fast as I could. Even if the idea was out of place, I would just highlight it for revision later and keep writing.
This was my “process” for the first few weeks of writing. After many nights of cramping and “writer’s block” I realized I need to try and develop a more organized process that would allow me to be more productive. I started tweaking my outline before actually writing, and I would re-work the layout of my chapters so that there was a flow to the story.
I wrote DSOM pretty quickly, mainly due to the fact that I was so excited to be writing and to get it done, and all-told; it took a little over a month to finish. Editing took a few weeks more of back and forth between my editor and me.
There was an 8-month hiatus, when I was shopping it to agents and houses and receiving little or no interest, and then I finally got the “stones” to put it out myself and let the public decide it’s value. I got it out in January, so in total, writing + editing + final edits = 2 ½ months of actual writing and wordsmithing.

KM:  Such a colorful story has to have a colorful artist!  Please tell us about yourself.

AT:   I am a 35-yr old writer, living in S. Florida.
I am a former NYC police officer, and I still dabble in private security from time to time.
I enjoy a good Suspense/Thriller, which is why I chose this genre for DSOM. I like a well-crafted story, with lots of surprises that explode into wild action scenes which is what I attempted to do with my writing. The best feeling when reading a book or watching a film is when you have a ton of expectations and you have the whole plot “figured out” and then; Wham! The writer takes a sharp right-turn that you never saw coming.
I enjoy watching and playing most sports (no soccer or Nascar, cause they’re stupid… lol)
I also enjoy getting together with good friends and having a long night out at our local distillery.

KM:  Thanks for stopping by.  Tell us where people can find you and your book.

AT: You can find the Suspense-filled, Action-packed, Thriller: DARK SIDE OF THE MOON at:
AhmadDarkside Live:
AhmadDarkside’s Musings:

And look for the paperback version of DSOM coming at the end of March.
*Currently working on the sequel to be released in the second half of 2012. 

(Read Kim Mullican Interview and more here:

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Lori A. Moore Online: Author Interview of Ahmad Taylor

What fact about your life would you like to share with your readers? 
I have some amazing, loving and supportive family and friends. The past couple years have not been the easiest, and I have only gotten through those times with the strength and assistance provided me by those who love me.
If you could visit any place in the world, where would it be, and why? 
Either Italy for the culture and beautiful women, or Ireland, cause the Irish can drink like champions!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Review of Dollars & Sense

Dollars and Sense: The Definitive Guide to Self-Publishing SuccessDollars and Sense: The Definitive Guide to Self-Publishing Success by Carolyn McCray
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Just finished this read over the weekend.

This is a true "How to" guide to self-publishing and marketing for the Indie writer.

Ms. McCray, Scott, and Thompson each take one section of the book and delve into various topics providing tips and ideas for growing your name and brand as an author.

I appreciate that they only "offer" advice and do not proclaim miraculous guarantees as many other charlatans are prone to do in their overpriced texts.

I took a couple pages worth of crucial tips during the first read, and I am going back for 2nds this week.

As an Indie author I will be following the Indie Book Collective for more information on our industry.

A must read for any new author.

View all my reviews

Phreaky Friday: Amazon Charging for Digital Publication?

Phreaky Friday: Amazon Charging for Digital Publication?

Rob S. Guthrie's  ideas on Amazon charging fees to self-pub novels.

Here are my comments regarding Mr. Guthrie's  recommendation that Amazon begin charging fees for publishing:
Mr. Guthrie;
While you make some very enlightened points, and while I partially agree with your premise, I agree to disagree about the true benefit to either authors or consumers by charging a fee to self-publish (frankly I don’t care about Amazon’s profit margins, and I doubt any author out there is worried much about what kind of profit they are taking in).

In regards to the author, breaking into the traditional publishing arena is an extremely difficult, and strenuous process, one which leaves most out in the cold.

Now while you, and maybe even I in some respects, may feel that the many hoops that an author must jump through just to get a query through to an agent or to one of the few houses that allow for direct author submissions, creates a quality barrier that not any joe schmoe with a laptop can breech, the truth is that there are many decent, and very talented writers out there who will NEVER have the opportunity to have their life’s work read by anyone due to large “slush piles” and other means agents and houses use to whittle down the masses of manuscripts they receive yearly.

I can say that as a writer and someone who has sought out other authors to gain knowledge from their experiences, the entire process that has existed since the first printing press went live, is very disheartening to many and whether it has been your dream since birth or not, many truly talented writers can and will lose their gumption and constitution after a few hundred “No’s” or more realistically, just the traditional no-answer that they receive.

The tradition “Big-6″ and other houses that have emerged throughout the years to create a stranglehold on the market have had their way for far too long and authors have gotten fed up with trying to play a game they don’t even know the rules to, and frankly one in which the rules often change on a whim. This is why vanity presses came about, to give an author with the desire, and maybe the talent, and some cash an avenue in which to get their voice heard.

Now in my own attempts to get published I went the traditional course, which was the route of the 150 or so “no-answers”, followed by a handful of “not for us at this time”. Now you can judge me on my conviction or not, but the whole process left me both physically and emotionally fatigued and caused me to put down my manuscript for several months due to sheer frustration.

Now it was never my intention to quit the process of querying forever, but I did need a month or two to collect my thoughts, pick my ego up from the gutter and get the strength to go through another round of “maybe this time”. Long story short, one month turned into 7-months and were it not for the self-pub “indie” option, I may have still been sitting on my manuscript, trembling from the fear the “6″ and others caused me to feel.

In reality I am not necessarily a fan of vanity presses. I think they prey upon the weak or arrogant or both, but in one regard they do serve a worthwhile purpose. The vanity presses of the world allow the literary market to be controlled by those who should have had the control all along: the consumer. Consumers are the ones who should determine who and what should be published, and what the overall price of something should be.

In theory, our society is free to dictate what is “worthy” of being published, purchased and read. What Amazon to this point, has done is finally put the decision into the hands of the consumer to judge for themselves what author has talent, what book has “teeth”, and what price a book is truly worth.

If a truly talented author wants to sell his masterpiece for $.99 on the open-market that is Amazon, and allow any person with an internet connection to read his or her novel, that should be their right, and the only ones who should decide whether that is a fair price are the consumers who decide to purchase that book.
If the work is crap and the price is too high, sales will show that, and the author will not have many. If the work is literary gold and the price too low, the author will have the option of raising the price while still maintaining good sales numbers.

As you stated in your article, price does not always determine true value, and if the consumer wants to overpay (your point being that $.99 is too much for many books on the market) for a terrible book, it is and should be their prerogative. I may read my fair share of books that I felt should have been destroyed in the author’s mind before I had to be subjected to it. Some of these books have gone on to find a niche somewhere, in some cult culture or some grouping of fans that I don’t understand, and sold plenty of copies. This is the way the market should be (I’m hearing “Free to Decide” by The Cranberries in my head right now).

You suggesting that Amazon go the way of the vanity press will cause many talented (but financially debilitated) writers to make tough choices that in the end may cause them not to publish, thus depriving the consumer of some worthy creations.

While I agree with you that a portion of the “talentless” will sit on the sidelines if a publishing fee is instituted, I think that the risk of losing the good and even great writers far outweighs the risk of letting the bad and terrible compete in an open market as they do now.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Book Snatch: Author Interview & Giveaway: Ahmad Taylor

Book Snatch: Author Interview & Giveaway: Ahmad Taylor: I am a 35 year old writer living in South Florida. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y. and lived in NYC until I was 29. I was a cop ...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Why F.A.R.T.I.N.G too much can inhibit creative productivity...

Why F.A.R.T.I.N.G. too much can inhibit creative productivity…
Sometime last March, I woke up with an idea and a dream (actually the dream, led to the idea and so on, but let’s not quibble over semantics right now) and began the journey that was to end with becoming an author.

After the initial pen-and-pad moments, I then moved to laptop and late night writing mode. The specifics of how many nights, and the process will be discussed at a later date or maybe in my memoirs (if anyone evens cares to know that stuff), the eventually, it was all said and done. There finally came a day, after all the edits, rewrites, banging-head-against-wall moments, that it was finally time to release the beast into the land of the living.

On January 23rd (or 24th due to lag time in uploading) DARK SIDE OF THE MOON was published on Amazon and deemed (by the reputable publishing house of; Me, Myself and I) to be fit-for-consumption. This was for all intents and purposes, the most exciting moment in my very short, burgeoning writing career, but this is when the fun would really begin!

After doing the obligatory social media blasts about how awesome this book is, and how “you and your friends and family will thoroughly enjoy the read” and how it is a “must buy”, I began to really sink my teeth into the entire marketing/self-promoting process that any independent author must endure. It is what many in the literary-world consider the beast versus the beauty of actually creatively writing. This is where a writer takes a crash-course in trying to; understand your market; understand the demographic you are writing for; maneuver the vastness that is cyberspace in an attempt to get your product to where it will be received best.
The literary world is filled with huge pitfalls that can swallow up any writer, even those with the best of intentions and a genuinely superb product (not placing myself in this category at all, fyi). The current market for literary works (pick a genre, they all have basically the same ratios) is flooded with traditionally published works, as well as with the nouveau products being served up by the mavericks of the industry; the self-published author (yeah, that be me). It is because of this factor that all of “us” MUST, without fail; learn the business of not just writing for content and quality, but also the business of business. We must learn how to sell, where to sell, whom to sell to, and when is the best time to push a sale. Without true representation and a team of college and grad-school degreed marketing and publicity professionals, it is the responsibility of the independent author to get it done yourself. This leads to many hours spent on a variety of social media and literary websites, trying to glean any and every piece of useful knowledge, trick, advice, etc. about how to get the world-at-large to purchase, read, and fingers crossed, actually appreciate your work of art.

As any writer (be they world-renowned and successful or struggling and inexperienced) can attest to, the art of marketing is in direct opposition to the art of writing. The two should not cohabitate nor should they be on the same plain-of-existence, however, as I have explained, one is a necessary evil of the other; there is just no way around it. This is where the title for this post came from.

Farting is a word that makes most people uncomfortable when hearing it, even worse when they have to experience it in their olfactory. In real-world terms, farting is a normal, natural bodily function that is generally uncomfortable but necessary. It can often leave a bad taste in your mouth (depending on last night’s meal) and makes you self-conscious and uneasy when done around others. It is something most of us would rather avoid at all costs, however, try and hold it in too long and not release it, and see how terrible you feel then. It can lead to cramping, irritability, and just a genuine feeling of malaise. This is the life of self-promotion. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth, makes you self-conscious around others (especially those who know you and may have some modicum of respect for you), but if you don’t do it for too long you become irritable (especially after seeing less-than-excited sales results).
This is why I say; F.A.R.T.I.N.G. too much can inhibit creative productivity:
Facebook – The king of all social media (as demonstrated by The Social Network), I can spend hours checking status updates, looking at pictures of new babies; old babies; hot chicks that are friends of friends 15-levels removed from me, checking my book page to see if I have any new Likes or if anyone has left me a flattering comment about my work. Facebook exhausts me on both a personal and professional level, even though at times it can be a fun distraction, distraction, being the operative word though! [-4 ½ hr]
Amazon – The online giant that now controls the distribution of my baby. It is very easy to get lost on their, trying to check reports on how many books I sold within the last hour, 2 hours, 3 hours… you get the point. Then there’s the need to try and find comments about my work, hoping they will be both honest and complimentary. Both the hoping and the actual logging on and off of the author’s part of the site can easily swallow up half a day. [-4 hr]
Rhapsody – not my only music site (I actually now prefer Spotify) but one of the few I use to find just the perfect playlist in which to listen to during blogging, writing, surfing time. Music can be a great source of inspiration, entertainment and distraction during a long day of creation; distraction being the operative word. It takes a lot of valuable time to search for one song, much less a slew of songs you just remembered from your high school days or college or some other time of your life that has long passed you by, but that this one song will allow you to briefly relive. Then there is the rewinding to that favorite song over and over again, or the manipulation of the playlist to just the right sequence to allow for maximum productivity. If making playlist for writers an actual career option, I would be recruited by the best head-hunters out there. [-3 ½ hr]
Twitter – If I ever thought Facebook was tough to leave, holy cow, Twitter is the evil emperor of time wasting. It can literally suck all the time out of a writer’s day. I currently follow: 186 people, groups, organizations (all related specifically to writing or the literary industry) and have 70 followers myself, and between reading random, nonsensical tweets, actual messages of some value, clicking on the links encompassed within, and trying to understand and learn the new language that is Twitter (very much looking forward to the class on social media/understanding twitter being given by @rachelintheoc) I can spend an entire day just on that one site. In the 40 or so minutes that I have been writing this, I have missed: 259 tweets. Now it has taken me 40+ minutes to write this because I am so locked in to this service that I have been alt-tabbing back and forth constantly on the off-chance that I may be missing something time-sensitive and crucial. Now, I will give it its fair due since I have learned and gained a lot from some and I stress; SOME, of the messages on there (shout-out to @frellathon) who has genuinely been a huge help to me recently, but on the whole, it just consumes valuable creativity time and hinders the creative flow. [-8 ½ hr]
Internet Research – Is so big for a new writer. Limited by time and resources, the internet provides a type of; one stop shop, for finding new avenues of promotion and help. The problem is having 50 pages open all at once (because each is equally as important as the next) your computer begins running super slow, and then your time is further wasted trying to figure out which ones to ‘X’ out of and which ones you cannot live without! It also provides a nice distraction throughout the workday, but distraction… well, you get the point by now. [-4 hr]
New anything – New stuff (contacts, websites, emails, tweets, pictures, music, articles, books, etc.) comes at you all day long. There is a constant influx of the new throughout the day, and all of it manages to whittle away at any productivity you may or may not have been capable of in a given day. [-3 hr]
Google – More than just the internet research, now there’s Gmail which receives my emails from about 20 different sources, and Google Friends (which I still don’t know how to use, but sure as heck I click the ‘add’ button on every site I enter). I need to correspond with people in my community and elsewhere, but reading and answering email, searching the web, and all else that is done using Google definitely detracts from an already tight schedule. [-2 ½ hr]

As you can add for yourself, that is a deficit of 30-hours a day (give or take, mostly give) and as we all know, there are only 24-hours in any given day. Notice there is no time allotment for writing, reading, eating, sleeping, or the actual necessity of farting in real-life.

As a self-published writer, it is very crucial to understand how to manage your time, to maximize your exposure and get your name and work out there for all to see (and hopefully purchase); like farting, it is a genuine necessity in life. It can alleviate some stress and allow you to relax afterward, however it certainly can and does inhibit a very integral part of being a writer, and that is; the actually writing of something of substance.

P.S. 394 missed tweets and counting...

Racism alive and well...

On my way home from a friend’s house early this morning I pass by the local 7-11, bright lights shining onto the street beckoning me to come on in and get some cheap, delicious, probably out-of-date and potentially toxic treats. Well as any other red-blooded American, I had to stop in and partake of the stale goodness. I mean, the smell of old coffee, blue raspberry slushy, and week-old hot dogs on their 1,000th rotation in their lukewarm rotisserie is far too enticing to pass up.

As I already stated, it was pretty early (or late, depending on your particular point of view) and I had every intention of going home and straight to bed, so I didn’t want to get anything with too much sugar or caffeine or that would not sit well with me and might impede my ability to enter the sandman.

After walking up and down each aisle at least 3 to 4 times, perusing the multitude of tasty treats designed to grab the wayward travellers attention after a 15-hour drive from Tacoma to Mobile (exact travel time NOT verified by Google Maps), I decided on 2 1-liter bottles of Lipton’s Brisk Iced Tea and 2 frozen burritos (cause that isn’t too much sugar or gastrically impairing horse meat for 6:30 a.m. at all).

Well my picks complete, I make my way to the register to complete my purchase and meander home for a quick snack, then bed. I step in-line behind 3 gentlemen and wait my turn as has been common custom for a few millennia. Now it is at this point that my rudimentary tale takes its much expected turn.

It is important that I mention that each one of the persons in line in front of me was dressed slovenly, much as I was. There was not much difference in myself or these individuals (attire, height, gender) except for one simple and obvious discrepancy… skin color. Each of these men was of the white persuasion, while I am not. I’m basically what I like to call; coffee and milk, color. Now I know race is still a very sensitive subject, even in our modern, homogenized times, it is still a subject of soreness for many individuals. I also know that this blog may bring out some terrible memories or invoke painful feelings for some of its readers, but just because you don’t talk about something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. That being said, I continue.

So the first man in line pays and gets his goods bagged and exits the store. The 2nd man then pays for his items, gets a bag and leaves as well. The next man steps up and; 3rd verse, same as the first. Well its then my turn to finish my transaction. I place my 2 beverages and 2 burritos on the counter and wait to be rung up. Beep, beep, beep, beep; ‘$4.19 is your total sir’ is what I am told by the store’s clerk. Pretty decent deal I must admit. I then pay the man and make my way towards the door to leave, when suddenly I am approached by another man who has been standing around the entrance, not shopping, but basically looking over everyone in there for the past 15-miuntes that I was there. ‘Hey buddy, come here’ he calls out to me. Ugh, unfortunately this is where the obvious (by the title of this entry) racism kicks in (close your eyes if you’re squeamish)…

‘Hey, you got a dollar man?’ the man asks me, under his breath, as if it was a huge secret he was pan-handling for cash. ‘Man, I’m 75¢ short, you got a dollar bro’?’ he continues, trying to assuage my obvious look of disdain over the obnoxious intrusion. ‘What? A dollar? From me? What happened to those guys that just left? How come you didn’t ask them for your 75¢ or dollar?’ I retort, meanwhile I’m still handing over my currency cause I’m far too altruistic if you ask me. And here comes the twist folks; he then gives me a wink, and says; ‘Aw man, come on. You see them; you know they ain’t gonna’ hook a brotha’ up like that’. A ‘brotha’’? Really?!? Does he mean brotha’ like black-people say it cause it’s more important that way (see Zoolander for reference).

So as I’m leaving the store, an extra dollar short, I think to myself; he only asked me and not them cause they were white and I was coffee and milk… That’s straight-up RACIST! Like, WTF?!? You’re poor enough to beg, but not poor enough to ask whitey for a hand-out? I think every Caucasian out there should be pretty pissed off as well. That is a direct condemnation of your ability to support the disadvantaged, the disenfranchised, and the disillusioned as has been your birth-right from jump-street.  

As we enter February and Black History Month, I think it’s time we get back to days when the poor only interrupt white people’s days and not just any ol’ person, and certainly not another ‘brotha’! Reverse racism is alive and thriving in our nation and I call upon all my white brotha’s and sista’s to stand-up and demand that you are still worthy of being harassed for your loose change like the rest of America!

Every time a Possum dies, an angel gets his wings...

We (my two roommates and I) live in a nice green area of south Florida, nice lawns and backyards, golf course directly across the street and palm trees up and down every block. Quite aesthetically pleasing most days and very nice at night when the stars are out and the air is cool and clean.
Well having grown up in an urban part of Brooklyn, NY (well all of Brooklyn is urban actually) I consider this type of living a definite treat for all the senses.

Apparently though, nature and wildlife have a true appreciation for the lush foliage that is my immediate outdoors.

During the spring, when the coconut and mango trees are flourishing and their fruits are in full bloom, you can hear nature encroaching upon our habitat with birds, squirrels and mice foraging around in the trees enjoying the fruits of their labor (yes, mice. Apparently being so close to water they are permanent residence of this area of town). You can often sit out back and watch mangos fall to the ground with bite marks and whole chunks chewed out of them and hear the pitter-patter of tiny feetsies running from branch to branch engorging themselves on the abundant free meal. Even during the winter you can see a few trying to crack open old coconuts and partake of random seeds and plants that grow all around (since there is very little winter here something is always growing year round).

Now last year I sent my roommates are picture file of a very frightening and less than frightened of me raccoon that was sniffing around the yard. I can still his big, bulging eyes staring intently in my direction trying to determine whether I was one of the idiots that will set out food and even try and hand feed these wild beasts in their own yards. I certainly am not “that guy” and immediately ran my arse back in the house. Many who have known me for some time will make fun of my fear of animals (no matter the size or species), I mean it took me years just to get used to their dog who is a sweetheart, but with long teeth and a menacing bark, can intimidate even the most avid dog-lover, but in the case of the raccoon I think my fears were well warranted. While they may look cute (not really up close) they are the farthest thing from a pet and I don’t need to be reminded of that.

Well the tale of the menacing raccoon stalking our backyard spread very quickly in our local circles and I took my fair share of ribbing for that.

Well here is a tale of the monster possum that I won’t be apologetic for either.

Sunday evening as one roomy was coming in from walking his dog, you could hear him calling out to the dog very loudly to ‘come inside now!’ As they entered and he slammed the door behind him, the first question was; ‘what’s going on buddy?’ He then opens the curtains to the front window to show us the very large, very dirty, very disgusting looking possum that had parked itself on our front porch. Well after I let out a very loud noise of sorts (maybe a scream or wail or some type of less than manly noise) we all sat there trying to determine what its state of being was. Was it dead? Was it sleeping? Was it playing possum (yeah, you saw it coming folks)? None of us were about to brave enough to step outside and find out. Well after a few more minutes it stood up and meandered off into the bushes just next to the front door. Now, ,over the years, from time to time, if you were up very early or coming home very late this same possum has been known to cross your path. We had determined that this creature had been taking up residence under the front porch for at least the last 2 years, maybe longer (no idea of the life cycle of a possum). Well once it moved from the porch to the bushes we all assumed it was finding its way home.

Fast forward to evening when one roommate comes home to explain to me that the beast was still in the bushes just off the walkway, and most likely dead. Ugh, is all I could say. ‘We have to get it out of there soon’ was the next thing he said to me (and knowing his thought process the proverbial ‘we’ really meant Me!) Well if I wasn’t clear earlier, Ahmad no likey the animals, much less the nasty, feral, probably disease-ridden ones that lurk in the darkness of a Florida evening. Well once roomy #2 came home we all made a determination that ‘as a family’ we were going to wake up super early, grab the shovel and drop it off on the golf course across the way. Plan sounded good ‘til it came down to execution. No one woke up with any inclination of bringing this plan to fruition, so the carcass stayed put.

Fast forward even further to Thursday evening. 3 ½ days of rotting and now the odor around the front door was more than palpable. It was nauseating. Well roomy #1 comes home with a declaration that ‘we gotta’ get that thing out of here soon, it stinks in here!’ So we decided to try and implement the original plan of shovel to golf course immediately. So as I put on a crappy pair of shoes, grabbed some gloves and basically prepared myself for a biological disaster site (think government issued bio-weapon suits and the movie; Outbreak). So as we approached the now maggot-covered corpse, the smell itself almost took us both out of commission. Drawing the short straw I was commissioned with shovel duty. Now most of you out there probably think what is the big deal. Dead animal, long handle on the shovel, scoop and move. Ha! Wait, I say that again, HA!!! You don’t me that well… homey don’t play ‘dat! Dead or not, I can see it turning to try and spread its vileness all over me (I’m cringing even writing about it). So it’s me, roomy, flashlight, shovel and our deceased squatter all in the moonlight trying to get this done.

Attempt #1: I walk back and forth several times trying to figure out what was the best angle of approach. Nothing happens for several minutes.

Attempt #2: With strong chiding I am directed to ‘come from the back, scoop under, lift and walk across the street’. Long story short, didn’t even get the shovel on the ground.

Attempt #3: After several minutes more of just laughing and then being serious, I get the shovel into place. As I am digging into the ground behind the body, I hear; ‘you’re still a foot away dude. Not even close.’

Attempt #4: I psyche myself up, pound my chest, and admonish myself to nut up and do this.

Attempt #5: My roommate, obvious frustrated with the lack of testicular fortitude I possessed, finally grabs the shovel from my hands and moves it. He gets in under the body and begins to extract it form the bushes. Yeah, only half came out. Ugh!!! ONLY HALF! Needless to say terrified screams could be heard miles away I’m sure (I won’t who was screaming, but his name sounds like Ahmad). So at this point, with half a carcass we have to figure out what to do. We determine that it would not hold up being transported the 100 or so steps to its final resting place, so we got a garbage bag to dispose of it. Sounds reasonable I’m sure, only one problem though. I had to hold the bag. F’ that is basically what was running through my mind. Way too close to my body. Well again I am chided to man up and get it done. So I close my eyes and allow ½ torso to plop down in the bag (cue more screaming and jumping around).

Attempt #6: The front end, including the ugliest face on anything ever seen, comes out  on the shovel and I’m again demanded to hold the bag open. Plop #2. On this one I genuinely jump high in the air and dance around as if I was being attacked by the surplus of insects chewing this thing to pieces. I don’t know what I used to run the 40-yd dash in during my athletic years, but I’m pretty sure I could’ve tied or beat those times this evening, as I streak around the side of the house and to the trash cans in the back.
I then washed my hands and arms for the next 15 minutes trying to scrub away any remnants of the odor, the sight, the thought of how disgusting this thing was.

Well, now we are possum free (hallelujah) and hopefully the smell and bugs will be gone come morning. My message to readers out there, if you’re outside this evening, and can see the stars in the sky, look very closely. Just out there, in the northern sky, that one bright new star, the one that looks like it has rabies… that’s angel being born from the death of this vile creature.