I will never forget my eighth grade teacher at South Seventeenth Street Elementary School embarrassing me in the front of my entire class when I raised my hand to request an application to apply for entrance to University High School. “Yooouuu, Niobia?” she asked in shock with a facial expression filled with disbelief. She made me feel like I was shit on her shoe. Like I should’ve known that my dumb ass would never get in.

I started to lower my hand.
I started to say never mind.
I started to say, “Yes, me” with plenty of attitude–but I didn’t.

I took my application and carefully placed it in my folder to take home even as the snickers of my classmates echoed in my memory.


That year I was the only eighth grader from our entire school to make it into University High with just one other girl being put on the alternate list.

I never told that heifer teacher of mine I made it in but I remember the day–THE MOMENT–one of my classmates gave her a clue. We were lined up on the stairs waiting for her permission to continue on to the cafeteria for lunch. She was talking to some of the kids at the back of the line about the high schools they were attending that fall.

“Niobia’s going to University,” someone said. I can’t remember who.

My heart pounded. It was the moment I was waiting for even as I swore I would never mention it to her.

“Niobia,” she said, her heels clicking against the steps as she came down near the front of the line where I stood.

I looked up at her, hiding the animosity she fed into my chest. I said nothing. Since that day she embarrassed me, I didn’t have much to say to her at all–whether she noticed it or not.

“You were accepted into University High School?” she asked, her face filled with surprise.

“Yes, Me,” I said with sarcastic emphasis–way more than any child should have for their teacher.

“Congratulations,” she said.

I said nothing else to her as I turned to face forward even as victory surged in my chest like rockets. Even as I screamed “Take that” in my head. Even as I felt like whopping it out (I think we were doing the Whop back in ’89).

To this day I can’t remember her name–which is weird because I have a pretty good memory–but I will never forget that day. And I want so badly to remember so that I can look her up and send a big ole box of all twenty of my books.

Yes, I graduated from University High, eventually received two degrees and a minor from Seton Hall University and went on to live my childhood dream of being a writer–but one moment in my life that is more that twenty years old still haunts me. Affects me. Drives me. Motivates me.

That teacher made the mistake of underestimating me and to this day I hate to be underestimated. Hate it.

As I read over some emails offering me more good news about my books and some upcoming projects, my mind went back to that teacher and a few other detractors over the years. I finally took a moment to really reflect on why that teacher, in that moment, has affected me so deeply that I hold on to the resentment like a hungry done to a meaty bone.

Hell, I don’t know–even with my Behavioral Science degree and Psych minor.

But there is one thing I know for sure. Motivation to do better and to be better comes in a lot of forms–and they are not always positive. The more someone underestimates you, doubts you, or tries to hold you down get MOTIVATED to do even better so that you can have that moment in your life to say “Yes, ME.”


The Industry (Through my Eyes)

Book Themes (My $.05)


Romeo and Juliet

Coming from the romance genre I think I’m more aware of themes in a book and how as authors we all take a crack at themes (i.e. rags to riches, bad boys/bad girls, love on the run, etc….). I mean how many times has Romeo and Juliet themed books been done? You know, two young and tortured lovers who wanted to be together but couldn’t because of a major external conflict (family drama, coming from different worlds, race, etc.). Hell, I can think of a dozen right off the top. lol.

Trust me, I wanted to lay my nickel on the counter about this because after ten years of being published, I can admit that I had to tell myself that in the beginning if I saw a book even a little like mine. I had to have a conversation with myself and it went a little something like this: “Whoa chick, just chill, hell you read a book with this same premise twenty years ago so how you going to flex.”  lol.

Anyway, my advice as a writer is not to worry about the bare bones and make it your business as an author/storyteller/book attention seeker and receiver to add your unique layers (your voice, your timing, your way of telling a story, your character development, your emotions) that fleshes the book out as only you can.

As I said on Facebook–and I’ll say it again:

When it comes to story lines, it’s all been done before and will be done again. The difference? The delivery.

The Industry (Through my Eyes)

It’s All In The Title?



This post has been on my mind for a while.  I never really had the time to write it. As Message from a Mistress continues to do well and all of the Hoodwives series are still flying off the shelves, I felt I had to make note of my observation (and probably the same observation of other authors).

It is indeed all in the title.

Honestly, my writing style and delivery has been the same in Live and Learn, Show and Tell, and Message from a Mistress

I mean, perhaps I was bit more polished by MFAM but I really feel the drama, the characters, the delivery…comparitive. The main difference? The title.

Live and Learn? Eh. A little too ABC and 123?

Show and Tell? Hmmm. getting a little warmer with it…but not yet.

Message from a Mistress? BAM. Got it. Scandal, drama, juice.  A mistress sent a message? To the wife? What did it say? What did the wife do? All of it is evoked from that title.  Nail on the head. My breakout mainstream novel. 

Mistress No More? Yup.  It’s gonna draw the readers. I just know it.

Soooo maybe we should repackage Live and Learn and Show and Tell and give them new, more salacious titles:

Live and Learn to be a Mistress

Show and Tell a B*itch

Okay, maybe not. lol.

There a lot of well written, drama-driven books out there…and you can’t always judge a book by its cover (or its title). Ha!


Oh Shyt!!(Update: I WON!!!!)

2009 Nominee for Best African-American Romance 

Romantic Times Magazine Awards!!!



“Oh shyt” is exactly what I said when I found out about the nomination. LOL.

This is the book my Mom pushed me to write.  Several editors wouldn’t mess with it because the heroine was unemployed, $200.00 from being broke, and about to be evicted from her apartment. Real ish that happens to good people all the time. (Love is not just for the wealthy. Hello.) But I digress…

I was steady pumping out books and my Mom would say “what happened to the one about the pregnant lady that moves into the man’s house while he’s away”.  My answers:

  • I’ll get to it, Ma.
  • This editor wants something less realistic.
  • That editor wants me to change the story. I wouldn’t, so it didn’t sell.
  • As soon as I finish this book or that I’ll get to it.

Well, I finally did submit it to Dafina.  They brought it, published it, its selling well, and it just was nominated for an award by a publication well-respected in the romance writing industry. (UPDATE: Since this original post, Make You Mine has also been nominated for another award and I just got a deal for it to be published as an audiobook with a well-known record company branching into audiobooks. POW!) (NEW UPDATE: I won!!!!)

I know my Mama is in heaven telling all the nay-sayers “Humph. That’s my baby girl”.

But this is also a huge milestone for me for one other reason.  Peep the other nominees in the Best African-American Romance category:

  • Francis Ray (Nobody But You)
  • Beverly Jenkins (Bring On The Blessings)
  • Brenda Jackson (Taste of Passion)
  • Rochelle Alers (Man of Fate)

Say what. Say who? These four icons of African-American romance…and me? Say what you want, but when discussing African-American romance and its trailblazers every last name on the list  has been mentioned. (DISCLAIMER: I’m not throwing shade on anyone but I like a good dose of reality and there is not one up and coming romance author who wouldn’t give a big toe to have these women’s career.)

I have read them all (especially Francis. Heart of a Falcon. Classic. All time favorite romance book.)  I respect them all for all they’ve done to make it a bit easier for me to get my job done.  I am so pleased and proud of myself to be ranked among them. I’m proud to be the up and comer with just 8 romance books under my belt compared to their substantial release amounts.  I’m still building my brand and honing my craft.  I still have a way to go and I’m excited to know that with each book I will only get better.  When it comes to my writing career, I feel like God is preparing me for  my breakthrough and this nod is a testament to that.





grudge [gruj] n (plural grudg·es): a feeling of resentment or ill will, especially one lasting for a long time
Sigh. The first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem. How can you fix it when you refuse to acknowledge it?  So here goes:
“My name is Niobia and I hold a grudge like a muhfuhker.”

Okay I said it and the majority of me wants to correct it. But then, that small part of me, that part that refuses to take ish like I used to in elementary school, wants to know how you handle those who piss you off.  I’m definitely not a turn the other cheek kinda girl unless I’m looking sideways to see where the person I just slapped landed.  Sigh. Just being 100% real with how I feel.

My Mama always told me to learn to forgive.  She said my grudges were weighing me down and blocking my blessings….BUT again I wonder what do you do if someone betrays you,  insults you, pains you, doesn’t give a flying f*ck about you either. Why forgive them? Why give them a chance to hurt you again? I live, breath, sustain, and maintain by:

“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

Humph, ya girl AINT having it. Not gone be able to do it. No way. No damn how. 4 Real.

I know why I grip my grudges so tightly like Linus does his little blue blanket, because I am so loyal to people. I am so fair to people.  I am the negotiator in the group.  The counselor. The ear and the shoulder.  The compromiser.   I treat people the way I want to be treated.  I am the kind of friend to people who  everyone wants.  I hold on to other folks’ secrets and fight other people’s battles.  I’m far from perfect but I am good to people.  The flip side of all this goodness? When someone I have been good, kind and loyal to doesn’t return the favor it really PISSES me off and I cut them off like a rotting limb.

So in the mist of writing this blog, I stop and make a run to the bank and I see this person–a relative by marriage–who I haven’t spoken to since my mother’s death. Someone called his name, I turned and I spoke to him. It flowed naturally like I hadn’t cussed this fool the last time I saw him.  Shocked the shit of my myself and probably him too. Usually I just ignore him or pierce him with a look that will not only kill but shrivel and evaporate ANYONE into dust.

So now this blog entry has taken an entirely different turn. I was prepared to defend my grudges and lay out justifiable reasons why some people deserved to be ignored.  I would have laid it out better than any attorney. Trust and believe that.

But now? Now, just like that, everything has changed.

The lesson in this for me?  In the midst of struggling with my issue of holding a grudge I run into this mofo and I speak.  I have to believe that was my mother spirit that eased that greeting out of me. It was her way of solving this dilemma for me. It was her answer, her nickel, her vote on what to do.

Just speak and keep it moving. It’s just that simple.  Don’t welcome them into your inner circle.  Don’t make them privy to your thoughts and feelings. Don’t waste your energy on holding onto the grudge with a death grip.

Just speak and keep it moving.


Okay, okay.  I hear you, Mama. I hear you. It wont be easy, but for you…for you I will try…one grudge at at a time.

Pray for me y’all.