My Wordsmith Vantage Point

Archive for January, 2014

10 Authors Who Inspire(d) Me

Howdy People,

Today, I’d like to share my list of influential authors that have affected my writing style and imagination in some way. It was a long list, but I managed to narrow it down to the top ten.


Virginia Hamilton

1. Virginia Hamilton – The first book I recall reading outside of a class assignment was Plain City, a coming-of-age novel about twelve-year-old Buhlaire Sims who is ready for answers about herself and her family. The character struggled with her light complexion, relationships with family members and peers, and feelings of being an outsider in her community; some of these issues mirrored a few of my own growing up a proper-speaking girl in a rural area. Eventually, I heard about (but never read) Hamilton’s A White Romance, a story about Talley, a black girl, who befriends a white girl at her inner-city magnet school and becomes romantically involved with a white drug dealer. I was immediately drawn to Hamilton’s modern writing about adolescence, self-identity, love, addiction, and sex, which clearly targeted African-American youth.


C. S. Lewis

2. C. S. Lewis — My brother’s copy of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe made me fall in love with high fantasy. Although it was the only book in The Chronicles of Narnia series that I successfully read (I made an attempt at Prince Caspian), I’ll never forget discovering the magic, adventure, mythology, and strong Christian parallels of this wonderful classic.


Mark Twain

3. Mark Twain — The southern mastermind behind Adventures of Huckleberry Finn who once said “You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus,” knew the meaning of satire. Reading Twain’s short works in school, I thoroughly enjoyed his rendition of life in the South, humorous verse, and strong narrative.


Nathaniel Hawthorne

4. Nathaniel Hawthorne — I’m not a big fan of 19th century Romantic literature, but The Scarlett Letter turned my attitude from dislike to slightly intrigued. An after school review session helped me understand underlining themes and, eventually, I grew to love this classic about a young woman found guilty of adultery and forced to wear a scarlet “A” on her dress.


Jacques Roumain

5. Jacques Roumain — I was first introduced to this Haitian writer the summer of my senior year in college by my Caribbean and African history professor, Dr. Bernard Moitt. Masters of the Dew forever changed how I viewed Caribbean life and I embraced it with delight. There was something hypnotically beautiful and profound about how Roumain expressed the frustration and rage of the oppressed island people. The novel moved me in such a way that I bought it twice!


Darynda Jones

6. Darynda Jones — Two years ago, I was skimming through my MSN Wonderwall feed and came across a PR promotion for First Grave on the Right, a witty and sassy adventure about a PI who can see and communicate with dead people. Since then, Jones has captivated me with all things life, death, and sex.



7. Alice Walker/Toni Morrison — Both ladies are Pulitzer Prize winners, African-American, and my literary idols. After seeing the movie, at age 15, I attempted to read The Color Purple, but due to its explicit nature, I didn’t finish. However, I appreciated the soul of Walker’s best-known work. Morrison is famous for Beloved and Song of Solomon, and won a Nobel Prize in literature to boot. Her novel Love is on my reading wish list. Be sure to check out the PBS profile on Ms. Walker.


Alexandre Dumas

8. Alexandre Dumas — If you’ve heard of The Three Musketeers or The Count of Monte Cristo then you should know the French brains behind them. While I’ve never hunkered down and read any of his work, I’m thankful for the hundreds of films that were adapted from his repertoire. And also, Dumas was black, which is a plus in my book.


William Shakespeare

9. William Shakespeare — playwright of Romeo & Juliet, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello…need I say more?


Nikki Giovanni

10. Nikki Giovanni — Although more widely renowned for her poetry, Ms. Giovanni is one of my all-time favorite writers who has encouraged me to hone my poetry craft. I became a fan after listening to her recite poems and proclaim a reverence for rapper Tupac Shakur—proudly displaying her “Thug Life” tattooed forearm at a VCU forum. For me, she’s a living, strong voice of the Black community and a reminder that the power of one can make a difference in the lives of others. Specifically, her book Love Poems is my personal favorite.
There you have it folks! The list of authors who inspire(d) me to be the wordsmith that I am today. 



Follow Anita on Twitter: @Emranija


Decrying Washington Stalemate, Obama Calls For ‘Year Of Action’

Read about Obama’s State of Union Address here:

Your Most Important Relationship

The most important relationship you’ll have is with yourself. #Preach

James Michael Sama

Growing up, we are exposed to fairy tales and love stories. Grand romantic gestures and transcending life challenges for two people to be together. Ending up “alone” is consistently portrayed as a negative, and riding off into the sunset with your soul mate is shown to be the supposed goal for all of us.

Sure, we all want to find someone – but when this idea of win/lose is ingrained in our mind from an early age, what does it create?


It creates an incredible pressure on people from youth to find, and be with someone. It tells us that our worth is based on our ability to get somebody to commit to us.

If we look at things in this light, we can begin to see why people stay in negative relationships that don’t truly make them happy – they have someone. They might fight more than they kiss…

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8 Reasons Why Star Wars Episode VII is Destined to Please

Just read this November 2013 article and I’m so excited to hear Episode VII is headed back into the right direction. Check it out here: Star Wars


Hate is Too Great a Burden to Bear


Happy MLK Day Y’all.

Martin Luther King, Jr is an American icon that I’ve known about since an early age. My parents made sure that my brother and I understood the history of the African-American Civil Rights Movement and how Dr. King was a crucial part of making that renowned. Inherently, this began to build a foundation for me and how I viewed the world. I was taught to judge a person by their character and not by their color or creed.

When I first moved from Maryland to Virginia, I had no idea what was in store for me. Although I knew about racism, the South was an entirely different animal once you lived there. I expected discrimination from the white community, but it was a total shock to receive it from another African-American. I was criticized for the way I spoke and dressed and was told that I was trying to “act white”. For years, my individuality was encouraged by my family members; however, in this new place, I wasn’t black enough or labeled an “Uncle Tom”. This hurt me more than when I was told that a white boy (that I liked) didn’t like me because of my skin color. I was okay with the boy not liking me, or even excepting me, but not being excepted by members of my own community was devastating.

I learned not to let the actions of a few define who I was or my dreams. It would’ve been easy to default to the level to which others tried to bully me to, but like Dr King, I took a stand for myself and what I felt was right. If it weren’t for those moments in my youth, I wouldn’t be who I am now.

I’m proud to say that I teach my son the same motto my parents instilled in me. I want him to know that hating someone based on their skin color, social status, sexual orientation, or any other discriminating factor is unacceptable. Hate is a wasteful, negative effort that pulls a person away from positive energy that can motivate them to greater heights.

I want a better, brighter, and more diverse future for my son. I’d like there to be no hate in his future, but the side effects from the 192 years of oppression in America’s history won’t likely let that happen. I just pray that we as human beings will recognize that skin color doesn’t really matter and doesn’t define who we are.



Follow Anita on Twitter: @Emranija

Resources: For more about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

The Importance of Space in a Relationship

Why Hello There,

Last week I discussed with my female cousin about giving my boyfriend breathing room. He and I hadn’t yet crossed into our first month of duo delight together, and I was already concerned that I might be smothering him. Admittedly, I love spending every moment I can with him, but I worried about giving him enough space to still be him. She and I conversed long enough about it for me to wonder two things: Why is space important in a relationship? And how much should be given?


I read an Elle (Canada issue) article dishing advice on why emotional and physical space is a positive thing. Here are a few reasons it’s important:

1. It keeps your personal life on track. Typically, in a romantic relationship, our interests and hobbies are often pushed aside. Creating space allows you to take time for yourself and your personal pursuits. Whether it’s revisiting that novel collecting dust on your nightstand, hitting a Zumba class, or picking up a new hobby, having time without your partner attached to your hip lets you keep on track with other things that make you feel fulfilled.

2. There’s more time for maintaining friendships. By creating time and space away from your significant other, you have more opportunities to connect with friends. Use the time to plan a night out with your friends, or if you have a close friend that lives far away, you can plan a Skype session. When you dedicate time to spend by yourself, you foster friendships with renewed vigor. After all, having a network of supportive friends is just as important as having a significant other.

3. There’s room to indulge your secret single habits. You know those secret single habits that you would rather do in your own company than with someone else in close proximity? Things like plucking your eyebrows, eating nachos for dinner, dancing around to Justin Bieber and/or drink straight from the milk carton all belong in this category. Without having someone around all the time, you can still partake in your secret habits without feeling like you have to stop altogether. This space allows us to indulge in these habits and be ourselves, while still loving and maintaining a healthy, balanced relationship with our loved ones.

4. You will appreciate your partner more. When you both have outside interests, you’re forced to respect the other person’s schedule and commitments instead of taking their time for granted. It’s more likely that you will arrange special dates and activities instead of just flaking out on the couch after work. Certainly, spending time apart will enhance intimacy and allows a deeper bond to develop. It’s human nature to be attracted to someone who has a variety of interests and friends – it keeps you alert.


And to answer the question of how much space should be given, that varies with every relationship. With my boyfriend, I’m secure enough in our relationship that can he can plan events with friends and alone time accordingly. I don’t feel the need to give him a certain amount of time to himself because we communicate our needs and wants effectively. There are moments where I want to hang with my writers group or catch up on my DVR’d shows alone, and he’s cool with that.

Even though my relationship is still in very green, I’m vigilant of not losing myself or suffocating my partner. I look at relationships a lot differently now than when I was in my 20s, especially now that I’m seeking a long-term commitment. After taking a long, hard look at my past relationships and how I operated in them, I decided that I had to change my tactics if I wanted something worthwhile. Learned lesson: a little space never hurt anyone.



Follow Anita on Twitter: @Emranija


Neiman Marcus is Latest Victim of Security Breach

Neiman Marcus is the latest victim of a cyber-security attack. If you ask me, they should’ve been breached WAY before Target. #ijs

Black America Web

NEW YORK (AP) — Luxury merchant Neiman Marcus confirmed Saturday that thieves stole some of its customers’ payment card information and made unauthorized charges over the holiday season, becoming the second retailer in recent weeks to announce it had fallen victim to a cyber-security attack.

The hacking, coming weeks after Target Corp. revealed its own breach, underscores the increasing challenges that merchants have in thwarting security threats. Neiman Marcus didn’t say whether the breach was related to the massive data theft at Target, but some security experts believe they could be part of the same scam. Nevertheless, the recent security breaches at two major retailers threaten to scare shoppers who worry about the safety of their personal data.

Ginger Reeder, spokeswoman for Dallas-based Neiman Marcus Group Ltd., said in an email Saturday that the retailer had been notified in mid-December by its credit card processor about potentially unauthorized payment activity…

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How Long Is Too Long? Congress Revisits Mandatory Sentences

Quickly read this NPR online article. What do you think?


Follow Anita on Twitter @Emranija


Picture of the Day: Heart & Flower




Follow Anita on Twitter: @Emranija


A Happy Reason by Nikki Giovanni (Poem)

a good book (not necessary a mystery)…some popcorn with lots of real butter…an overstuffed chair…a fire in the wood stove…quilts on the couch…thermal blankets on the bed…a feather duster waiting to be used…a merlot waiting to be explored…the coffee pot with a timer..the 49ers winning if we get lucky…comic pages in color…intelligent editorials…snow or rain or any inclement weather…or heavy doses of sun…a reason to move or not move…a reason to go  or not go   no reason to be
except happy…

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