Friday, November 27, 2009

Prologue, Chapters 1 & 2 - Diary of a Stalker by Electa Rome Parks

available December 29, 2009

Darkness surrounded her with a thick cloak of protection; shadows bounced and ricocheted off the walls. She embraced it with open arms, like welcoming a long-lost friend back into the fold.

Silence. She felt safe now. While most people gravitated towards the light, she embraced the night, the cover of darkness. From experience she knew that deeds not meant to be seen or heard were best carried out in the deep, secretive confines of the night.

Quietly and painfully slow, she crept out of the shadows, cautiously pushed clothes aside, opened the closed closet door and existed with precision. Her footsteps were deliberate and calculated. She knew every creak and crevice from memory. She walked with the confident stride of someone who was comfortable with her surroundings.

Ever so cautiously, she pushed the closet door open, just an inch. Stopped and listened. Then another inch. Then another. Silence, except for the even sound of breathing. She knew he was a deep sleeper, but she still didn't want to take any chance of him waking up. Tonight wouldn't be the night when she became careless. Even though she had been here before, numerous times, this was the first time with him being inside the house.

With the slinkiness and sneakiness of a feline stalking her prey, she moved from inside the closet to the master bedroom. Stopped just short of the massive bed and simply watched. Watched and reveled in the closeness they shared. Being in the same space with him thrilled her.

She had to force herself to breath because he took her breath away. Every time. He did it for her. If only he would love her back. Even if it were only with a quarter of the love she felt for him. . . she'd still be satisfied. He slept on his back, breathing evenly, legs sprawled wide, with a thin sheet pulled up to his waist. She knew that underneath he was completely nude.

It took all she had not to reach out and touch him. She was so close, yet so far away. In her mind, he was absolutely perfect. Perfect for her. Her eyes eagerly and greedily took him in. Ravished him with her deep carnal yearning.

Why couldn't he simply love her back? This question played out in her mind over and over again, each and every day. Crippling her. Crushing her confidence. Making her crazy. Crazy like a loon. Sometimes she hated him. Hated him with a devastating passion. Those were the days she wanted to do something bad to him. Wanted to hurt him. Make him pay for not loving her.

Tonight, she simply watched. She stood there for hours and watched him peacefully sleep. If he had awakened and looked a few feet in front of him, he would have easily spotted her. Her desire to be near him overrode her fear of being caught.

Once she had her fill of him, she silently crept down the stairwell and out the front door, quietly closing it behind her. The next morning he would be none the wiser. Only the faint smell of her perfume would remain. He'd imagine he dreamt of a dark figure towering over him. Watching. And waiting. Waiting until it was time.


I'm your #1 fan.

It's funny how one's life can forever be changed with the utterance of four simple words: I'm your #1 fan. Well, actually, they weren't spoken, but sent to my favorite male author, Xavier Preston, by way of e-mail. Man, I love the World Wide Web.

I couldn't believe it; I had recently finished reading his latest national bestseller, Secret Desires, and to put it mildly, I was simply blown away. I felt like the main character was speaking directly to me, like she was inside my brain, picking it apart, piece-by-piece. I could relate to the storyline . . . totally . . . and the ending was spectacular, took my breath away. Secret Desires stayed with me, languishing inside my soul, like a sweet kiss that lingers into the early morning hours as dawn approaches.

Even though I am an avid reader, I should be since I'm a freelance writer; I typically do not contact authors about their books. I don't get caught up in the entire groupie side of the literary industry. Yes, it exists! Surprise, surprise! There is an entire circle of women all across the country, sometimes entire book clubs, who follow the lives and movement of African-American male writers the same way groupies chase after rappers, rock stars, athletes and actors.

In the book industry, it is just a bit more subtle. For example, the book club president might fly the handsome, fine, articulate male author into her city for the weekend, to discuss his most recent hot release at the monthly book club meeting and to perhaps get the added bonus of getting up close and personal between the sheets. It happens.

For me, however, this was different; Xavier Preston made a lasting impression. And generally it took a lot to impress me because I wasn't into the ordinary and I was determined to tell him, how impressed I was. That is, after I went out and purchased all his previous novels. I had a bit of catching up to do.

A week later, after devouring his other six novels from cover to cover like a delicious gourmet meal, savoring every word, I knew I had to make contact. I simply had an unrelenting urge to speak with him. I couldn't get his lyrical, rhythmic, flowing words out of my head. This man moved me. Moved me like I had never been moved before. I felt a connection. A deep connection.

Early one morning, before I began writing an article for one of the local magazines I frequently wrote for, I sent Xavier Preston my sincere, honest thoughts.

“Mr. Preston, I'm your #1 fan. I know you hear that all the time from readers, but I really, truly am. Your characters stay with me long after I've consumed the last page of your books. I never want your stories to end; they move me. You are super-talented, put these other authors to shame, and I'd love for you to autograph my books. By the way, I have all your novels. When will you be in Atlanta? A true, die-heart fan, Pilar.”

Much to my surprise and pleasure, a couple of days later, I received a simple response.

“Pilar, what a lovely name. Thank you, for the sweet e-mail. I'm so pleased you've enjoyed my books over the years. I'd love to meet you as well. I enjoy meeting and greeting my readers. I will be signing at Medu Bookstore, at 5:00 PM next Saturday at Greenbriar Mall. Please, stop by if you get the opportunity. I would love to see you there. Xavier.”

With a pounding heartbeat, I couldn't believe what I was reading and I re-read it a few more times for clarity. Wanted to make sure I was reading correctly that Xavier Preston asked to meet me. Me. Next weekend couldn't arrive soon enough.

It was Friday afternoon, a week after I had received Xavier's e-mail, and I was lying across my bed, admiring the author photo of Xavier on the back cover of his debut title. Outlining his features with my index finger. He had such soulful, penetrating brown eyes and the sexiest pair of dimples I had ever seen. Such a handsome man. I was so caught up in looking at the picture that I almost forgot I had Leeda on the phone. Leeda and I had been friends since my days in Baltimore. I moved to Atlanta almost four years ago. Had to get out of Baltimore. Held too many memories, most of them bad.

“Pilar, for the life of me, I can't understand why you are so excited about meeting this author. My God, he's only an author. It's not like he's Jay-Z or Denzel,” she exclaimed in her usual authoritative sounding voice, with a bit of amusement.

I sighed inwardly because Leeda didn't understand, or maybe couldn't understand, no matter how many times or how hard I tried to explain it to her.

“Xavier gets me. Period. He gets me. Read Secret Desires and you'll understand. It's as if he patterned the main character after me. Like he peeked inside my bedroom window and started writing. It's almost eerie. I have never met this man a day in my life, but it's like he reached inside my mind and penned my thoughts on paper.”

"Pilar, there are many women who think exactly as you do. They are looking for a handsome soulmate and think there is only one true love for them. You aren't the only woman in the world who is a hopeless romantic. Your thoughts are not unique in that aspect."

Leeda could never understand, so I simply gave up trying to convince her that this was different. Xavier was different; I could feel it deep in my bones.

"Well, it won't hurt anything for me to attend the signing, after all, he did invite me. I can at least get my books autographed. Years from now, who knows, they might be very valuable."

"True. Just don't go there with expectations that are only in your mind," Leeda said.

"Whatever," I stated with an exasperated sigh.

"Pilar, don't get so defensive. You know how you are. We've discussed it before. Every man you meet who is kind to you is not the one. I don't want to see you hurt again."

"Please, lets not even go there," I said.

"Okay, if you say so. Just remember, life is what you make it. You don't need a man to make you whole."

"I know that but I have a feeling that Xavier Preston is going to change my life for the better," I stated with a huge smile. I was on a natural high. A Xavier high.


Never trust a big butt and a smile.

I've been in the literary game for several years now, with

seven best-selling novels to my name. I figured out a long time

ago that I have the gift of gab, of storytelling. . . and I love

women. All shapes, sizes, colors and ethnicities. I don't

discriminate; I believe in equal opportunity. Becoming a

novelist was a natural progression seeing as how I've been telling tall tales my entire life. Women purchase most books, which is a good thing since my target market is definitely women, especially African American. If I depended on men for my livelihood, I would literally be a starving artist.

At this stage of the game, I have pretty much seen it all and

done it all. If I must say so myself, I've led an exciting life. The stories I could tell. However, my "psycho bitch" radar must have been malfunctioning when this chick named Pilar first approached me. Damn, it leaves a sour taste in my mouth just to spit that bitch's name off of my tongue.

Never in a million years could anyone have told me that sweet face and banging body would spell trouble with a capital T. Never in a million years. I guess it's true. . . never judge a book by it's cover. If I knew then what I know now, I would have pressed delete real quick when I received her very first e-mail.

"I'm your #1 fan!" Pilar didn't send an e-mail; she sent a virus, in the form of her very presence.

So sweet and accommodating---a boost to my already over-inflated ego, at least that's what I've been told. I received e-mails like that all the time from adoring female fans, so it never crossed by mind that inviting Pilar to my book signing would set my nightmare into motion, with my life quickly spiraling out of control and Pilar as the driver.

Even if I wrote the events that transpired into one of my novels, no one would believe them. They'd think Pilar was just a fabricated, figment of my vivid imagination. Sometimes I think she is. Wake up hoping and praying that she is. However, I'm not that lucky.

I wish. . . I wish I could go back and rewrite the storyline, which is my life. Do some line editing and write that crazy ass bitch out of the major scenes, hell the entire book. No, I'd kill her off in the first couple of chapters. Have her die a slow and torturous death. Yeah, that would make me happy. Very happy indeed.

Now, it's much too late for that. I have to deal with the consequences of my actions---or lack of. It's true---that line from an old BBD song---never trust a big butt and a smile.

I'm hardheaded; I had to learn the hard way.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Living a Purposeful LIfe

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, "Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?" Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. --- Marianne Williamson

The above is one of my favorite quotes; it's so powerful and empowering and uplifting. Yesterday, I finished an "untitled" manuscript that delves into how precious and short life truly is. It follows a group of friends who are reunited at a tragic moment in each of their lives.

Yes, life is short and precious but we can all make a difference before we pass on to the next state of being. I talk about making a difference all the time and recently I sat down and reevaluated my definition or concept of what I really mean. When I first started writing on a professional level, I used to state that I wrote for entertainment purposes only. That is true. . . partly. However, on another level, I realized I have been given a gift and I can't afford to write just for entertainment. There has to be a deeper purpose.

You say, "But your books aren't literary. They are spicy and fun and drama-filled and relationship based."

True. They are.

But. . . they all carry underlying messages, life lessons that readers can relate to because they or someone they know have experienced them. I used to think making a difference meant making it in a huge, massive way. I thought it meant having an impact on millions of people. Then one day it dawned on me, my books and blogs are read by thousands, not millions (yet), but it really doesn't matter because if I've touched somebody, anybody, then my purpose has been served.

I realize God has bestowed favor upon me for just this reason. I receive emails, sometimes letters, all the time about how my books have made a difference in someones life. . . even if it was to take them away from their own problems for 200+ pages. It's fulfilling to know I've touched someone, connected with a stranger at some level through my words. Words are powerful! The emails are my blessings, my confirmations that I'm doing what God's favor has chosen for me to do.

Sometimes, not always, it's not about the quantity, but the quality. Touching one, two, three here, four or five over there, that's where the magic comes into play. I've learned regardless of what advertisers and the media wants us to believe, it doesn't take much to make most people happy. We all want the same things. We want to feel loved, protected, happy and understood by another being. We want to connect.

Whether it's a smile, a hug, a few kind words, we all have the power to make a difference in the lives of others. I think back to all the times I've felt alone and abandoned, felt like no one understood me---that's when someone came along and said just the right words to make it all better. It may have been, "Good job." "Keep doing what you're doing." "Keep it moving, sista." "You inspire me." "I love your positive energy."

It didn't matter.

However, those words lit a fire underneath me. It gave me the motivation and desire to continue on because I was making a difference, maybe not in the big way I imagined in all my perfect dreams, but in my own way.

Life takes us down many dirt roads, side alleys and avenues before we reach our final destination. Life is short, life is precious, make a difference so that your living will not be in vain. If we realized how much power we truly have, it would be mind boggling. Don't diminish your power.

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Monday, November 09, 2009

I Believe the Children are Our Future

I realize I will probably take some flack for stating this, but so be it. Some things simply have to be said: One of my biggest pet peeves is single women placing a man before their child.

Personally, I think it is appalling for any mother, single or married, to place a man ahead of her child. Yet, I know of and hear stories of this happening all the time. Oftentimes with dire consequences.

I realize, for AA women especially, there is a shortage of men and noticeably so here in the ATL, the ratio of men to women is astounding. So the men of Atlanta can and do get away with a lot of unacceptable bullshit. However, we all know that they couldn't get away with this if we, as women, didn't allow nor tolerate it. But. . . it's one thing to know and another to act on it.

I have no tolerance level for women who constantly parade a barrage of man after man in front of their child. One week it's Uncle Mike, a month later, Uncle Paul and on and on and on. I don't believe a man should even be introduced to a child unless the relationship is heading towards marriage. It is too confusing to the child. Translation: Don't lay up with different men, any man, in your bed in front of your children. Your son or daughter shouldn't have to wake up to a half clothed man walking out of mommy's bedroom. Children aren't stupid and besides, what message is this sending to the children? Both the male and female child will internalize this differently.

Secondly, stop allowing men who aren't the babies' father to discipline your child. That child is your responsibility, not some stranger you bring in off the street, who may or may not be in your life a year from now. If you find yourself with child, but unmarried to the babies' daddy, then unfortunately you have to act as man and dad if the biological father is not in your life. It's okay for the child to have a mentor or father figure, but when it ultimately comes down to it, no matter how you slice and dice it, the child is your responsibility.

Finally, don't move yourself and your child in with a man. Don't shack up when a child is in the picture. I firmly believe that children should be bought up to see, from your example, positive, loving, striving relationships. The mother depending upon a man, and not having her own, is not positive reinforcement. Young girls, especially, need to be exposed to independent, strong mothers that set goals and achieve.

Again, I know my comments may not please some, but I also know some women will do or say almost anything to have and keep a man in their life and bed. Lets simply not forget the children in the process. That's all I'm asking. They are the future.

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