Category Archives: Uncategorized

EPISODE 15: Crafting characters that can step from a book’s pages and walk down the street

Any day is a good day to profess affection… so—I admit—I’m in love. With books written by today’s guest! So, there’s this character named Elouise Norton who has captured my heart! Why? Because she’s so human… It’s like I know her.

I’m stoked that I got to interview her creator during a visit to Los Angeles!

Critically acclaimed crime fiction writer Rachel Howzell Hall is the author of several books, including the Lou Norton series, and another title They All Fall Down, which will be released on April 9.

We discuss a range of things from her origins as a writer, how she can explores through her characters, the dualities and unexpected realities of her page people—her characters, and more!

Take a listen to Rachel Howzell Hall on Planet Noun Episode 15!

Part 1—00:00-08:10
Where it all started

Part 1a—08:16-17:07 How a character, Detective Elouise Norton, was a tutor to Howzell Hall

Part 2—17:04-29:02
Characters you don’t expect… dualities and unexpected realities.

Part 3—29:05-36:20
Rachel’s journey toward crime fiction

Part 4—36:28-42:37
Reconciling characters and subject matter with a churchy upbringing

Part 5—42:40-end
Most gratifying moments as an author, and maximizing her time as an author who also has a family and a full time job

Links to stories mentioned in episode:

Torrance bowling alley shooting

Rachel’s social media links:

Instagram

Twitter

Website 

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EPISODE 3—Balikbayan Boxes: Care Packages in Reverse with Jason Reblando (Repeat)

Since Christmas is around the corner, here’s a question for you: 

What’s the value of a can of Ensure? Spam? Or a pack of Doritos or other snack you can pick up during a Target run or at the corner store?

Well, if you’re a member of the Filipino diaspora, everyday items, snacks and other treats can have additional meaning attached to them if they’re shipped to the Philippines from abroad in a Balikbayan Box. 

It’s a tradition I had no idea about until a year or so ago.  It was then I realized that—among all the groups of color I grew up around in Los Angeles—there are some folks whose traditions I’m more familiar with than others. I don’t pretend to know everything about anyone, but as an eternal student, learning as much as possible is a constant goal. It dawned on me last year that I knew next to nothing about the Filipino diaspora and Filipino Americans, and wanted to learn more. 

This-here interview was released last year, and was so interesting I wanted to share it again this year!

So if you’ve heard this before—welcome back, and stick around. If you’re hearing this for the first time, let’s dig into this holiday repeat of Planet Noun Episode 3—Balikbayan Boxes: Care Packages in Reverse with Illinois-based artist, photographer and author Jason Reblando.

Happy holidays! Merry Christmas, Happy everything! Take a listen to a holiday repeat of Episode 3, with guest Jason Reblando. He’s an Illinois-based artist, photographer, and author. Jason joined me on Skype.

This has been a holiday repeat of Episode 3 with guest Jason Reblando, an Illinois-based artist, photographer, and author. He was on Skype.

Here’s a link to Jason’s article about Balikbayan Boxes on City Lab.

Learn more about Jason, his book projects and artwork on his website.

Find him on social media:

Twitter: @JasonReblando

Instagram: @jjrebs

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EPISODE 12: Getting all up in the family’s body business on Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving is almost here! That means it’s almost time to throw down on all those bounties that’ll grace our holiday tables this week!

Thanksgiving is also Family Health History Day… A time to discuss and learn more…. Diseases or health events that tend to run in your family…

Yeah… I know that  is NOT a sexy discussion to have while passing the lamb, ham, turkey, chicken, greens, potatoes, tomatoes—you name it.

But if you’re family is gathering for this holiday or any other one—could be an opportune time to consider easing in those not so appetizing discussions about your family health portrait…. Just try to time it when Cousin so-and-so is NOT about to fork a piece of sweet-tater pie in their mouth.

My guest today is Doctor LaKeischa McMillan… she hosts the Housecall with Dr. Mac Podcast… In addition to doctoring, she also mothers and wifes (It’s my podcast, I can make up words). The cast is a joint venture with her husband, Wendell.

So Dr. Mac joins us with the skinny… or the fat—depending on how you throw down in the kitchen—on having unsexy conversations about family health during Thanksgiving or any season when family gathers.

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Childhood illness—an idea that pricks emotions, makes eyeballs sweat

Some ideas cause perspiration to spring out of my eyeballs with nowhere to go—but down my cheeks.


(WASHINGTON)—Imagine getting to a scene to report the goings-on at an annual festival dedicated to advancing the cause of pediatric cancer advocacy, and the need for more research funding and updated treatments.

Pretty straightforward, right?

Get sound with folks who say why they’re there, take and Tweet some photos, cut up sound, file audio and web stories, then leave.

You pull out your recording equipment and earbuds while scoping the layout at Freedom Plaza. Who will you talk to? When will you talk to them? You pull up your question list and take note of an announcement that a program is about to start on the main stage.

Cool.

And you position yourself to capture audio. You take a few photos.

Cool.

And someone takes the stage and starts sharing the latest progress from the weekend.  It’s good news.

But your cheeks quiver.

Hummm… That’s odd…

Then your eyes start feeling misty.

Huh? No one’s said anything particularly sad. The lady on the stage just announced more federal funding toward pediatric cancer research.

But the mist  turns to plump tears. But that’s fine. Maybe they’ll evaporate.

Or maybe not.  But  as long as they teeter on the edge of your eyes, you can blink them back.

But nope! They won’t blink back because other drops are waiting to take their place.

Damn.

On scene for five minutes and already crying.

Lordy be, this happened to me last month when covering CureFest 2018.

I usually don’t get in my feelings while covering a story because compartmentalization is my friend.

Didn’t work that afternoon.

Another tear came, and another, and a sister and a brother, but unlike the previous ones, this newer collection didn’t slide down my outer cheek…. they slid right down toward my nose.

I figured no one would want to talk to me if I looked as if I were about to snot.

Where were my tissues?  In the work SUV.  Something told me to bring them, but I left  them behind with the thought “Nah, won’t need those today.”  I was wishing I had listened to my first mind.

At the plaza, there was someone with a camera standing next to me. I assumed she was a fellow reporter. She looked like she was wiping away a tear or two with her hand.  Wasn’t sure if  she saw my disintegrating poker face or not but either way, I needed paper products.

So I went up to a stranger under one of the tents and asked for tissue.

“I’m here for work, and I usually hold it together at work,” I told the kind-faced lady while waving my hands at my cheeks, a failing attempt to fan the tears away. “But for some reason, I can’t hold it together today.”

“It’s okay,” she said, opening her arms over the table and bringing me in for a hug.

I walked in.

She just hugged me while I apologized, closed my eyes and let more tears fall. I apologized again and asked for a tissue. I wanted to cry some more, but I’d soon be facing a deadline.  Pull it together, sis.

The kind-faced lady didn’t have tissue, but she pointed me to the Kid’s Zone. That’s where I met another kind-faced lady named Kat, who didn’t have tissue, but paper towels.

“That’ll work,” I replied, so grateful that I’d have bountiful brawn to sop up my sadness.

“It’s okay,” Kat said. “No one makes it through this weekend without crying at least once.”

So at work we cover lots of stories about grownups behaving badly. Sometimes kids, too. But my hopeful cynicism melts when talking about darling little kids who suffer… kids who should be playing with toys and learning to ride bikes and (if any of them are like I was as a kid) eating dirt clods and pinching butterfly wings and licking their dust to see how it tasted. Don’t judge. I was a semi-curious child.

But it saddens me to my depths that children who are dealing with potentially life-threatening illnesses such as childhood cancers or sickle cell anemia—are learning to pronounce the multisyllabic names of their treatments, going to chemo, getting transfusions… along with learning their favorite hobbies, cartoon and video game characters.

In my deepest heart, I just wish they could be Toys R Us kids, or Game Stop Kids, or skateboard in the park kids, or jungle gym kids, or doll-baby kids or basketball, soccer, football, baseball, hockey kids. Hide-and-go-seek kids, and teens more concerned about passing a driving test than entertaining the idea they could very well pass away.

It took awhile for the emotions I feel when covering stories like this one, and this one to come to a head.

They did that day. And I cried.

According to the song Cry by singer-songwriter Lyfe Jennings, “See, crying is like taking your soul to the laundromat.”

My little soul was twice-washed that day at Cure Fest. But the second time, I was prepared with my stash of paper towel sheets.

And I met my deadlines.


FYI, September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month and Sickle Cell Awareness month, but those children and families who are grappling with these illnesses have to do so year round.

There are many organizations out there that advocate for more funding, research, and awareness. Take a peek at the following websites to learn more and find out what you can do to advocate for kids with cancer and sickle cell anemia. This list is just a start, there are so many more organizations that do great work at raising awareness.

Alex’s Lemonade Stand

St. Jude’s Research Hospital

Sickle Cell Disease Association of America

Cleverly Changing

 

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Planet Noun — Podcast Pullquotes Season 1 Roundup

So I totally enjoy producing this podcast. It find it informative and inspiring and downright educational to step into the perspectives and experiences of others.

Season One is in the books! We’re 11 episodes in, and I’m grateful and thankful for every iota of support and encouragement that I’ve received so far.

Season two gets started one month from now, and I invite you along for that journey!

But for now, let’s relive some  favorite snippets from most of the first eleven episodes of Planet Noun Podcast.

There’s another episode, but I didn’t include quote snippets from that one. I’m so looking forward to sharing more from that episode during the holidays!

Take a listen to these, enjoy, and subscribe on Apple Podcasts or SoundCloud!

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Episode 11: Sickle cell awareness and responding Cleverly to life’s Changes—featuring Cleverly Changing’s Elle Cole

Elle Cole, founder of CleverlyChanging.com

(The DMV)–September is Sickle Cell Awareness Month, and our guest for Episode 11 has a compelling story about how she learned of this disease. 

Elle Cole is a writer and founder of Cleverly Changing, a lifestyle blog that focuses on “Empowering the Total Person.” 

Elle and her husband have two daughters—twins. One of them has sickle cell disease, so the ups and downs of this genetic disorder are well known to Elle and her family.  

As an advocate, Elle hones in on sharing educational information the disease, the trait, how it’s inherited, and about symptoms and treatments. Her blog contains a trove of information about sickle cell that can be accessed 24/7, 365.  

In addition to spreading information about the disease, this awareness month can also be a way for folks to “see” each other. 

There could be someone familiar to you who has been suffering in plain sight, in silence. Maybe someone you know has a relative, friend, neighbor or someone else in their orbit who battles this disease.

Maybe more people with the disease will meet at conferences, social or fundraising events and end up extending a current support network. 

And if you don’t have the disease, maybe you can help be a support, listening ear, or advocate by connecting with already-established organizations to find how you can help their cause.

Maybe you know someone with the trait. The trait is NOT sickle cell disease, but if two people with the trait reproduce, there’s a 25 percent chance their child will be born with sickle cell disease. And if one parent has the trait, it’s possible to inherit that from said parent.  For example, I inherited the trait from my mom. 

There may not be any serious health ramifications for trait-carrying folks. However, it would behoove them to learn all they can about it and how there’s a higher chance of adverse effects during or after strenuous workouts.  That doesn’t mean throw physical exercise out the window.  Not even. It just means recognizing  some possible symptoms can crop up—that could be a result  of carrying the trait.  

I can only speak for myself but, the past few weeks have been the start of increased awareness about this disorder which, I am certain, is one goal of Sickle Cell Awareness Month.

See the following links for more information.

Cleverly Changing

The Air Force produced a video specifically for recruits who have sickle cell trait.  According to this video, folks with the trait are allowed to serve, but the awareness video gives them tips on staying safe during and after workouts. I also learned they have to wear a special arm band during their training so their superiors are aware and can be on heightened lookout for symptoms of exertion. 

Elle also passed along or told me about most of the following individuals and organizations. This information here is about a podcaster who focuses on awareness for those with sickle cell trait. His name—Farron Dozier of  “What’s the Count” (WDC):

On the Cleverly Changing blog, this video has more awareness information about the trait.

For those in the Baltimore, Md. area, The Ruby Ball is an annual sickle cell awareness and fundraising gala. It’s scheduled for Oct. 13.

The Ruby Ball on Instagram

During Episode 11, Elle mentioned a fitness challenge for moms, the Cleverly Fit Moms challenge.  She released the daily fitness goal on her website and social media.  If you need some workout encouragement, you can start the challenge at your convenience.  

Because about 1 in 13 African Americans carries the sickle cell trait, there is an initiative to bolster awareness about the trait and disease at HBCUs or Historically Black Colleges and Universities.  Learn more about the Sickle Cell HBCU College Tour, including how to request a visit to your school.

St. Judes Hospital’s sickle cell program includes information on clinical trials, educational materials, information about navigating school challenges, and videos that help teenagers with sickle cell ease into their adult medical care. 

Howard University Center for Sickle Cell Disease 

Howard University sickle cell symposium-World Sickle Cell Awareness Day 2018

The National Institutes of Health’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute sickle cell information page

Sickle Cell Disease Association of America

 

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Aretha

Yes, it was imminent.

Yes, it was coming down the pike, as it is for us all.

But there’s still a hefty morsel of numbness that nestles itself in my soul for a little bit once I hear someone’s life exit is final.

Been kind of blah all day.

Been trying to put words to my feelings.  Trying. Still not there yet.

Why will I miss Queen Aretha?

She was the only artist who could make me raise a hand, and say a heartfelt Hallelujah for ALL the life reasons Click To Tweet

Because she was who she was.  She earned first name only status with an exclamation point (ARETHA!) AND ascended to royalty  (Queen of Soul).

Because she played a role in the Civil Rights Movement and helped others. Much-much respect!

Last but not least, I’ll miss her for accompanying us through the human experience.  She was the only artist who could make me raise a hand,  and say a heartfelt “Hallelujah” for ALL the life reasons: From “Precious Lord” and “Mary Don’t You Weep,” to “Bridge over Troubled Water”…

And from “Daydreaming” to “Son of a Preacher Man,” and “Dr. Feelgood,” which could be the reason some of y’all exist today.

There was only one Aretha.

Missed, she will be.

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Episode 10: She ain’t no one trick pony: Behold, Stacia who doeth many things Wright

Our guest for Episode 10 is one of those people who does many things well! Her name’s Stacia D. Wright, an event and media strategist and owner of B. Reel Media Management, LLC. As I’ve said in previous episodes, small business owners fascinate me because of the risks they take and lessons they’re open enough to learn in order to keep progressing along the entrepreneurial pathway.

@StaciaDWright has a thing or three to say about knowing your worth, the value of your time and what you bring to any table. If you want to start your own business, her reminder: Working for others has invaluable lessons as well. Click To Tweet

Through her business experiences, Stacia has a thing or three to say about knowing your worth, the value of your time and what you bring to any table. If you want to start your own business, her reminder: Working for others has invaluable lessons as well.

In addition to running B. Reel Media Management, Stacia is a wife and mommy. She’s even made a video to help teach her daughter Ginneh how to potty, and was surprised when the tune traveled around the globe to other parents having a doozy of a time teaching their young-uns how to independently use the toilet. Stacia also appeared on a local television station, and the video was featured on the websites of other media outlets as well.

Fox5DC
Today
Daily Mail

Connect with Stacia on social media:

Facebook: @StaciaDWrightofficial / @TheDriveSDW

Twitter: @TheDriveSDW

Instagram: @StaciaDWright

Episode Receipts/Mentions:

The Stacia D. Wright Show on Brite Radio Son Screen Film Festival

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Hair: Puff Cuff and snazzy updos sans headaches

Once upon a time, I used to create hair buns using elastic bands, but I have decided to ditch them for most of my styling needs. They’ll still be used to section my hair or hold the ends of my hair in place for certain styles…but for these updos? Nah, son. I’m done.

Much love for The Puff Cuff! It’s becoming my go-to styling tool for updos!

At first, I was doubtful. But since I learned about this product from someone I deem trustworthy, even though we’re not well acquainted, I was more inclined to take a chance on this styling tool.

So I opted for the family pack. It includes four versions of the Puff Cuff. The four sizes are the Original, Junior, Mini and Micro.

This style was created using one Junior and one Mini. I also use Eco Styler gel with coconut oil and a detangling brush. Once styled, I spritzed a lightweight shea sunflower finishing sheen onto my hair.

Learn how to achieve this updo right here:

This styling tool has won my heart because I can wear a cute updo without using elastic bands, and the Cuff doesn’t generate headaches!

@ThePuffCuff has won my heart because I can wear a cute updo without using elastic bands, and the Cuff doesn’t generate headaches! Click To Tweet

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Hitman tour leaves behind musical slayage in D.C.’s Warner Theater

WASHINGTON—God created music, dammit. I’m convinced. And he, she…or he and she…or it or them-there… they put a bunch of it on display last night when David Foster’s Hitman Tour hit D.C.’s Warner Theater.

David Foster is not, as James Comey might say, “out breaking legs and– you know, shaking down shopkeepers.” Nothing like that. This Hitman slays our hearts by taking shaped notes and cranking out hit after hit over decades—so many that you might not know how much this man’s musical footprint has pitter-pattered over your life’s soundtrack.

And it was a great show—aptly titled “An Intimate Evening with David Foster.”

An intimate feel it had with the Warner Theater’s ornate architecture and cozy seating.

Foster accompanied all of us down memory lane with with a team of fantabulous singers. They were EXCELLENT. “I wish I could sing like that,” Foster joked during the set, “then I wouldn’t need them.” He did croon lines from some of his beloved hits as well. And he’s needed, because no one can write what he writes how he writes it.

LAWDY-BE it was a good show! I just hope the adorable 70-something year old blonde lady sitting next to me didn’t think I was too loud when I got all happy and started shouting “YAAAAASSSSS” like I was up in church or something. She didn’t complain.

She also didn’t look 70. But she did tell me she retired from the CIA. #random

Sooooo… I’m a little biased about which of Foster’s guests I enjoyed most. Don’t get me wrong—I enjoyed them ALL. Fernando Varela and Pia Toscano can sing like NOBODY’s business! Whew! But Shelea blew the roof off the motha-sucka!

“I don’t understand why someone like her doesn’t have a show in her own right. She’s good,” CIA seat-neighbor told me.

“Best of all,” I replied, “she’s a genuinely nice person.”

Of course, of all the people on that stage, she’s the only person I have any experience with…  I don’t count the 25 seconds I stood next to David Foster–long enough to take a photo after a session at the NAB Radio Show in San Francisco in…2000, I think. Still have that photo somewhere… ##random

Lookie-here
The Hitman tour isn’t over. There are still some dates coming up in Florida. If you’re nearby—or not—airplanes still work, lol!

And if you can’t make it, just Google samples of Varela, Toscano, and Shelea. If you ever see them live—methinks it’ll be worth it.

Shelea:

Fernando Varela:

Pia Toscano:

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