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Forever Young – That’s How a High School Reunion Should Make You Feel

There’s a healing quality in meeting with childhood and teenage friends – even if for one night. Friday night I got a chance to re-live the year 1992 when I met with high school chums from Woodlawn High School for our 20th Anniversary social. I have to admit, it seems reunions post web 2.0  have lost a little bit of the surprise factor. In my world, most of my high school friends and classmates stay connected through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like – a few of us still see each other in “the real world” … imagine that.

Meeting up with about 70 classmates from the past taught me something about life that I’ve heard before but not before my reunion did I get a chance to experience first hand and that is – Life Moves Fast and we all have a say in how we move forward.

Rewind the clock about 20 years and what you have is a very influential, take charge student body that brought a sense of self-expression and a legendary out-of-box thinking that would last for generations to come. We were the class that challenged the faculty for trying to suspend a student for wearing a Malcolm X “By Any Means Necessary” T-shirt (shout out to Ziz) – claiming that the shirt promoted violence, but at the same time the school would let a Megadeath T complete with blood and skulls roam the halls freely. We were also the class that got the school to allow shorts to be worn in the summer. To the following classes that came after the class of 1992 – You’re welcome.

Truth be told, each graduating class has contributed something to our beloved Woodlawn High- and each class believes they were the best to ever grace the graduation stage – as they should. What good is belonging to a class that has no pride and self worth?

So Friday night, the best graduating class in the school’s entire history (Go 1992!) decided to catch up after 20 years of working, raising kids, paying bills and taxes and making good and bad decisions throughout this thing called “Life”.  Despite all of our challenges and all of our problems (let’s be real … no matter how much name brand we’re wearing, how shiny our cars, or how perfect our profile pics are – we all have problems we’re managing) for that moment, we were all 17 and 18 again – without a care in the world. Worries about debt, probation, illnesses, knuckle-headed children or joblessness didn’t exist that night. About the only thing from today that was discussed was Obama’s recent landslde relection. (I even recall seeing a classmate standing in the voting line with me. Shoult out to Ronald) For the time being, we were all teenagers again – dancing to the best 90′s mix in the world. Old friends shared stories about common body ailments (from sore knees to lower backs) and told jokes. While some of my classmates looked the same as they did at the PowWow – our annual fashion and talent show - there were also those that that lost a little hair, gained a little gut (or butt) and even those that totally did a willful remake to their high school image. No matter the changes, guys and girls put aside all of our differences and danced to the freshest 90′s mix on the planet. Warriors in the room welcomed, loved and looked out for each other for the four hours we had.

During the night, I talked to several of my former classmates – some of them had worked jobs they’ve had since high school, some started businesses and others still pursuing advanced education. I met one person who at wone time worked at the very same company for whom I work. Regardless, hey all had proud stories to share about their accomplishments and further goals to pursue. One of my former classmates talked about a writing project he’s working on, to which I said I’d provide as much helpful information as I could. Plug for my two books – Even Angels Need Miracles and Always Room for Dessert.

From 10 pm til 1:30, I danced to BBD, De La Sol, NWA, and just about every 90′s R&B / Rap Group that made it to the top 10 list during my high school years. I did the running man, the Fila, the Cabbage Patch and other dances that make my children scratch their head. They’ve already “dissed” the pics I posted on Facebook. Even with their laughing at every picture they came across, even with my morning buzz and stiff joints it was all worth it. Much love to all my 92 Woodlawn Family!

The 3rd Annual African American Author’s Expo is only Weeks Away

I’m so looking forwad to the 2012 African American Author’s Expo, which will be held Saturday Aug. 18th in Timonium, MD.  I wasn’t able to attend last year, but I did get the chance to be a part of the 2010 event and from what I hear, the venue has really expanded to give readers even more variety and book selections from which to choose.

If you are looking to get your hands on some real page turners or want to meet some  local writers, I invite you to come out and attend.  If you’re a writer or looking to get your work published, take advantage of a workshop and network (don’t forget to bring business cards). 

I will be there, along with fellow authors Theodore Crawford, Sam Reynolds, Jackie Garner, Cheryl Wood, Dorothy Morris and many others. So please come out and attend. I guarantee you and your family will have a good time. Looking forward to seeing you there.

ACM

Perform When Needed – A skill most of us don’t know we have

So Friday evening, I was supposed to go on stage at a Jazz concert before a full house and speak for a few minutes on the upcoming African American Author’s Expo, a little about myself and my book.  As I walked into the room, I instantly became nervous. Not since last summer, when school restarted, have I really been doing my book/author thing.

When I was invited to speak (about a month ago), I appreciated the opportunity, but walking into the room and seeing all those people made my knees knock just a little. Confessing my fear to a few people I knew resulted in them telling me, “I’ve seen you speak before, you’ll do fine.” But again, what they probably didn’t know is that almost a year has gone by since my last mic time.

In a quiet corner in the room, I opened up an ipad and jotted a full bullets to make sure I didn’t ramble and stray. I prayed and just when I said “amen”, I hear.  And now put your hands together for a featured author at the African American Author’s Expo, Mr. A.C. Moore.

In that instant, I went back into what I knew. What I had a passion for. Mr. A.C. Moore walked to the stage with confidence, he managed to step over a few mic wires and band equipment without tripping or stumbling and delivered a flawless opening to the concert.

After exiting the stage, I had a few people talk to me about my book, I passed out a few cards, took a few pics., and brushed my shoulders off.  Looking forward to the next one.

Perhaps Boredom is the Loud Exciting Quietness You Need

Ever have someone tell you it’s too quiet? Know someone that can’t seem to spend even a few hours alone? There’s something special in having the ability to sit quietly, no TV, no radio, no Internet and just listen. There are times, when I can’t sleep, the house is quiet and I decide to sit in the living room and practice a combination of prayer, meditation and thinking. The thing that I make sure to do in these quiet moments is listen – as I found that even prayer can be a distraction if all you’re doing is talking.

Perhaps the next time you’re feeling “bored” you should build on that feeling. Who says you have to replace boredom with loudness, excitement?  There is plenty of adventure in deep thought. What goal or dream do you have that’s not pursued effectivey? When was the last time you thought about the things and people you were thankful for. How about taking that moment to talk to God?

As I jot these things down on a blog site that I haven’t touched for quite a while (thanks graduate program), I too am taking heed of this message. I don’t want to miss another opportunity to recharge, reconnect and reflect.

Good friends, Good laughter, Good food!

January marks our calendar as the first month of the year. A time for new promise – new hope … perhaps new beginnings.  A good friend of mine has a birthday a little more than a week after mine.  Since we became adults, it’s been a tradition of ours to go out and celebrate our born days over a tasty meal.

What makes this occasion a real treat is not the $40-50 plate; not the shared birthday; not the location; nor the fact that we can get away from the kids for an evening (though that helps).  Simply hanging out with friends and exchanging laughter is amusement enough.

I know that hanging out with friends over dinner is nothing new. Many people do it more regularly than me I’m sure.  Consider this blog nothing more than a reminder.  This year, make the time to enjoy a meal with your close ones.  Do you have parents that haven’t been out in a while? A couple that you know is going through something?  A sibling or neighbor that could use a good laugh?  Invite them out to dinner and let the good times roll.

This year, no matter the economy, no matter how busy you are, take the initiative to find some good eats with good friends.  Oh, and There’s Always Room for Dessert. LOL.

ACM

Having Limitations Doesn’t Mean You’re Limited

First, I’m sorry for taking so long to post a blog. After my last semester, I got busy, then comfortable, then down right lazy. What a hard situation to break. So, baby steps.  :)

Over the last few months, I’ve picked up a couple of lessons that seemed to all have the same central theme – I can’t do it without God.

Sometimes, I can get so busy that all the things I have to work on become nothing but chores – mundane tasks that only get a portion of my attention. When I get into that zone, it’s often that the work I do suffers in quality and my attitude toward completing those tasks becomes sort of blah … just get it done.  When I’m connected to God, however, I’m able to get things done – but also with the right attitude in place.  When you compare the outcome of my work – things I complete with God and things I complete while trying to do it myself, you can tell right away that my “solo” projects suffer.

As a husband, father, student, employee, church and community volunteer, little league coach, etc. I stay busy – and I don’t see it changing. I admit that I can’t do everything, but I can handle all things that come my way, when I’m connected to the one who give me the ablity get the job done.

Just thought I’d share.

Teaching Panhandling to Children

I don’t like to use my blog to vent too often, but I have a pet peeve — and it has to do with pulling up to a traffic light and having children walk up to my car asking for money to support their trip to “the championship game”.  What bothers me is not that I can’t reach into my pocket and give $2 or reach into my ashtray and dump all my loose change in their bucket; what irks me is the effect that I think this type of practice will create for these impressionable minds.

Perhaps I’m reading too deep into this. I do not mean to say that children should not feel inclined to ask for help from their community – what I’m more concerned of is that the adults who are leading children to these intersections are teaching children to ask for a handout, rather than teaching them how to earn their means to their desired goal.

Why can’t the team invite me to one of the local games and charge a small admission? Maybe they can hold a concession stand or offer car washes? I just don’t like the idea of giving children a bucket and sending them to every car stalled at a traffic light – not when there’s a more life-teaching way to help them earn money for the team.

As a little league girls softball coach for the past three years, I would never consider sending my girls out to ask for money to help us get to our tournament. I would meet with the parents and come up with ways to earn funding. Of course I would put those little girls to work, but make no mistake they would clearly see that we are all talented, skilled and innovative enough to earn the funding we need – for whatever purpose.

Although, I may still decide to help the occassional child that strolls by my car wearing a jersey and holding a bucket for contributions,  I think I will hold a conversation with that coach or parent that is usually off to the side on their cell phone, sitting in some foldable recreation chair.

Should I ask them for a few bucks so I can get to my destination?  It would be interesting to hear their response.

Day Three of the Baltimore Book Festival – Great Close Out

The last day of the festival is always the most bitter sweet. On one hand, you’re sad to bring the event to a close on the other, you’re glad to finally be able to sit down and get your voice back. I talked to hundreds of visitors today – all of them fantastic, but I gotta tell you, my voice is shot. Today when I gave my pitch at “Pitchapalooza” even on the microphone, I felt like I was whispering.

It’s all good though, I’d much rather lose my voice talking to readers about my books than anything else . (I guess losing your voice by screaming at a superbowl is a good way to go too.)

Lots of familiar faces this year – a couple of readers I met last year stopped by for the 2011 festival to purchase my other book or bring a friend to purchase a book as well. One reader, Debbie, came to get a copy of Always Room for Dessert. She also purchased a book from Theodore Crawford. I love it when a reader comes back – even if its just to give a kind word.  You can see Debbie in last year’s blog here.

A couple of thank you’s are due for making this year’s festival happen. One, I want to thank Oprah Moore for once again holding down the family while I was away for the weekend. I also want to thank Theodore “Theo” Crawford for sharing the tent with me. What a great author and friend. Working these festivals often means you’re at your table selling and signing all day, but you do do have to build time to eat, network and make a bathroom run. Theo, while selling and signing his own books would watch over my area, while I took a stroll from time to time.  I also want to thank my other tent partners, who I don’t recall by name. But we all looked out for each other – one authro even bought a bottle of champagne that we all split for some fun. :)   Shhh!!!

This year’s festival was worth a toast indeed. Even with the Friday night down pours, the attendance was still awesome. Lots of traffic, lots of  sunshine, lots of fun.

Looking forward to the 2012 festival.

Baltimore Book Festival Packs Mt. Vernon

The rain held off Saturday and Baltimore’s 16th Annual Baltimore Book Festival brought thousands of locals and travelers (I suspect) to come out and celebrate the joy of reading. Friday’s opening held high promise and the people tried to come out and support, but the heavy rain made it impossible to maneuver into dry spaces. I don’t even own a pair of golasshes.

Saturday, however was a much more fulfilling day.  Gray at times, but fair moments of sunshine broke through the clouds and made the day a very pleasant one. I had the opportunity to speak to hundreds of readers about my books and also enjoy meeting other writers and publishers on site. This year Theodore Crawford, author of A Time to Remember and I shared a tent space and both of us held it down. Stay tuned to this blog or follow me on Facebook  or on Twitter as he and I may pair up for future book festivals.

Here are some pics from the event Friday and Saturday. One more blog coming after the event ends Sunday. Happy reading!

Baltimore Book Festival 2011 – It’s On!

September. It’s the month that signals the ending of summer, the start of the school season, football and the Baltimore Book Festival. This is my fourth year of participation and I must say, it is one of my favorites. Of course the fact that its in my own backyard helps with the travel and packing, but each year, I get a lilttle more surprised at the diversity of people and reading interests that Baltimore has to offer.

It seems that each festival lends the opportunity for me to speak to readers in every demographic, but the Baltimore Book Festival is also the one festival that readers actually take the time to send me the most feedback – and I love feedback. After the 2010 festival, I’ve received countless emails from individuals who shared encouraging words. I’ve also made a lot of friends. If you’re in the Baltimore area the weekend of the 23rd – the 25th, I invite ou to come out and meet some local authors trying to share their stories with as many people as they can. Of course, I’ll be there and I’ll be sharing a table with author Theodore Crawford, author of A Time to Remember. Other authors who’ll be on site include 

The festival author lineup includes:

Sherman Alexie, Pseudonymous Bosch, Libba Bray, Common, Kate and Jules Feiffer, Myla Goldberg, Gordon Korman, Kimberla Lawson Roby, Laura Lippman, Roland S. Martin, Daisy Martinez, Sam McBratney, Chef Aaron “Big Daddy” McCargo, Jr., Patrick McDonnell, Terry McMillan, Jacquelyn Mitchard,  Erin Morgenstern, Kadir Nelson, Fr. Leo Patalinghug, Rachel Renee Russell, Tavis Smiley, Shirley Strawberry, Lisa Unger, Marcela Valladolid and David Wiesner.

So all Baltimoreans, come on out and let’s get get our read on – together.  Really looking forward to seeing you.

Last year’s Festival Pics-

Readers Say

Tiffany Knight "It has been a long time since I found a book that kept my entire attention. A.C. is a talented writer" - Baltimore, MD

Marianne Sharpe "Okay. I am waiting for the next one. I'm hooked. Great book!" - Washington, DC

T.C. Hayes "What a clever story. Not a dissapointing moment." - Richmond, VA

A.C. Moore on Facebook