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Archive for 'African-American'



Michal Scott/Anna M. Taylor: Confronted and Encouraged by Norman Rockwell
Monday, June 22nd, 2020

The illustrator Norman Rockwell has been lauded and lambasted for projecting an image of America that was too mom and apple pie and White. If that’s your image of Rockwell, I’d like to give you a different one. One that confronted and encouraged through his works The Golden Rule (1961), The Problem We All Live With (1964), Murder in Mississippi (1965) and New Kids in the Neighborhood (1967). These works were created by a conscience rooted in the aspiration that “all men are created equal.”

Though never fully realized by the founding fathers, Rockwell imbued their aspirations in his Saturday Evening Post covers, especially in his illustrations of FDR’s Four Freedoms. I can’t look at that series and not hear the words to songs of equality like “The House I Live In” or “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught.” Innocent as those covers seem, Rockwell was saying here’s how the world should be for everybody. Ironically, the Post’s policy wouldn’t extend that equality and respect to black people. Blacks on their covers had to be depicted in subservient positions. Rockwell left the Post in 1963 and accepted commissions from Look magazine where he could portray the flipside of the Post’s America. But sometimes Look found his work too controversial to publish, too. Fortunately, that didn’t happen often.

Criticized for his choice of subject and called a hypocrite and a lying propagandist, Rockwell painted the truth being shown nightly on TV news and revealed daily in newspaper stories about the Civil Rights struggle. I was a kid in the 60’s watching Americans of all races and creeds and religions marching in the streets, being doused by fire hoses and having police dogs turned on them because they believed all people are created equal and deserved to be treated that way.

The Norman Rockwell Museum has a virtual exhibit of Rockwell’s 1960’s works. Check it out here: https://bit.ly/37H3TCr where you can also hear from Ruby Bridges, the little girl in The Problem We All Live With.

Rockwell’s 1960s work asked Americans, “Which side are you on?” in the same way Walter Cronkite and Huntley and Brinkley and Gil Noble did in their network broadcasts. Sixty years later, these works are asking us the same question. Sixty years later, I hear us answering it in peaceful demonstrations being held all over the world, in paintings on the plywood of boarded-up Manhattan storefronts, in legislation passed to combat police brutality, in court decisions upholding LGBTQ rights. People are answering, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you must become the law of the land.” Despite authorities and administrations trying to divide us, people are answering and choosing to be on the right side of history because “the time is always right to do what is right.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In the 1960s, Rockwell used his work to confront and encourage. May we use our resources to do the same today.

Haunted Serenade

All the women in Anora Madison’s family have lived as “Poor Butterflies”: women still longing for but deserted by the men they loved. Determined to be the first to escape a life of abandonment, Anora fled Harlem for Brooklyn, severing her ties with her mother Angela and with the man who broke her heart, Winston Emerson, the father of her child.

Six years later, she comes back to Harlem to make peace, but a malignant spirit manifests itself during the homecoming, targeting her mother, her aunt, Winston and their little girl. Determined to stop the evil now trying to destroy all she loves, Anora must finally turn to Winston for help. But will their efforts be too little too late?

Get your copy here!

Excerpt from Haunted Serenade…

“Internalized oppression?”

He nodded thoughtfully. “Why not? Self-hate has bedeviled people of color all over the world for hundreds of years. Being looked down upon because you’re not White, accepting you’re incapable of self-determination because you’re dark and not light is being confronted everywhere. The independence movements in Africa. The Civil Rights movement here. Why wouldn’t it be challenged in your mother’s house?”

I’d listened to sermons about the devil, sung hymns and praise songs to put him in his place. But I’d intellectualized all that. Those were metaphors for the evil humans did. But what if that metaphor represented real energy, energy that had agency, agency that needed to be combatted?

“Come on.” Winston picked up a tray. “Let’s put the pumpkins in the windows. I need some physical activity to balance all this intellectual speculating.”

I took the other tray and followed him into the parlor. We placed a pumpkin on each sill of the bay window then lit the candle inside.

Cammie was right. They weren’t at all scary. Their grins glowed with welcome.

We ascended to the second floor and repeated our pumpkin placement and lighting ritual in each window.

“Winston, if Diana’s spirit is trying to help us, why did she attack you, Elizabeth and my mother?”

“When were they attacked?”

I shared with him my mother’s lame excuses for her broken wrist and the bandage on Elizabeth’s forehead.

He pursed his lips then firmed them. “I don’t think Diana’s spirit attacked them or me.”

“But you said the cold—”

“Is Diana shielding us from another presence, a presence that made the shutters close in her bedroom, that made the cabinet door hit me.” He tucked his empty tray beneath his arm. “What if the cold is Diana’s love, but the energy that attacks has its source in someone else?”

Website: www.annamtaylor.webs.com
Facebook: @annamtaylorAuthor

Michal Scott: Coincidence or Miracle?
Friday, March 20th, 2020

You’d think, being a minister, I’d wake on Sunday morning wondering what miracle lay in store for me that day. Unfortunately, more often than not I’d have the Saturday night why-did-I say-I’d-preach-on-Sunday blues. My colleagues and I lead our parishioners in choruses like “Victory is Mine” or classic hymns like “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”, but many of us leave the ministry suffering from compassion fatigue or badly burned by well-intentioned dragons. I could have been one of those casualties but for a faith-reviving miracle.

From 2013-2015, I served as interim pastor to the United Presbyterian Church in Paterson, NJ, where I met an enthusiastic member named Diane Anderson. She wanted to hold an evangelistic service outdoors so members of the community could hear the message. For the benediction, we’d write prayers on index cards, tie them to helium balloons then release them. The Sunday of the service was warm and wonderful. We worshipped in the church parking lot and, at the end of the service, released our balloons as planned. They dotted a blue and cloudless sky.

The following Tuesday on our answering machine was a message from a woman who lived in Massachusetts just outside of Boston. She shared how one of our balloon blessings reached her backyard and was an answer to a prayer.

I called her back and had a wonderful conversation. It seems her father had recently died after a long bout with cancer. She’d gone that Sunday to his graveside and just talked to him, letting him know how much she missed him and didn’t know how she was going to go on without him. On Monday, as she was washing her dishes she glanced out her kitchen window and saw something stuck to a shed in her backyard. She went to retrieve it. It was a balloon with the following message attached: “Jesus, I am asking and believing in your name to continue to bless all those free of cancer and to those suffering that you will comfort them during this time.” She told me she wasn’t a religious person, but she felt sure our balloon was a sign from her dad that all was well with him and all would be well with her. Because our address was on the card she was able to track us down and thank us. She mailed the card back so I could share her thank you with the congregation the following Sunday.


I told Diane first. She had always wanted to do a service like this and thanked me for encouraging her to do it, despite the grumbling from the we’ve-never-done-it-that-way-before naysayers of the congregation. Diane now leads a ministry called Faithworks that feeds 500 people a month.

That balloon traveled 220 miles from our parking lot in Paterson to this woman’s Boston neighborhood. Ever since that call, I greet each morning with this prayer: “Thank you, God, for another day to be used by you for good.”

Coincidence or miracle? I believe the latter. What do you say?

One Breath Away

Sentenced to hang for a crime she didn’t commit, former slave Mary Hamilton was exonerated at literally the last gasp. She returns to Safe Haven, broken and resigned to live alone. She’s never been courted, cuddled or spooned, and now no man could want her, not when sexual satisfaction comes only with the thought of asphyxiation. But then the handsome stranger who saved her shows up, stealing her breath from across the room and promising so much more.

Wealthy, freeborn-Black, Eban Thurman followed Mary to Safe Haven, believing the mysteriously exotic woman was foretold by the stars. He must marry her to reclaim his family farm. But first he must help her heal, and to do that means revealing his own predilection for edgier sex. Hope ignites along with lust until the past threatens to keep them one breath away from love…

Excerpt from One Breath Away

She circled around him as if he were an open bear trap. “What if touching you in those ways doesn’t give me pleasure?”

Her words sliced across his throat. He pressed a fist against his heart then sucked air through his mouth to recapture his breath. “Then I’m wrong…but I honestly don’t believe I am.”

She frowned. “I told you I’ve no experience when it comes to relations between men and women.”

“You’re a fast learner, remember?”

She looked down. Interest burned in the gaze that traveled to his crotch. His cock twitched under her scrutiny. She returned her attention to his face, stared into his eyes, searched a minute.

Eban held his breath.

Come on stars. Be right.

She tilted her head. “You’ll show me what you want? Guide me? Instruct me?”

“If you’re willing.”

She pursed her lips thoughtfully. “Fine. Show me.”

He unbuttoned his fly, let his pants slip slowly down his legs, and blew out a breath as her gaze followed his movements. He discarded his underwear, swallowed hard as he exposed his member to her. Her eyes widened.

“Your first impression?”

Still clutching her shoe, she approached him, reached for his cock, let her hand hover indecisively.

“Touch it anyway you like.”

She knelt on the mattress, laid her shoe aside and took his genitalia in her hands. He closed his eyes, melted in the immediate warmth of her fingers cupping his balls. A drop of semen pearled from the head’s slit.

“What is this?”

He opened his eyes, observed then relaxed at the curiosity in her gaze.

“Sperm.”

She thumbed the substance onto her fingers, examined it, sniffed it.

“Planted in your womb it becomes a baby.”

She spread the precious seed along his cock slit. He stifled a moan as a delicious thrill tripped up his shaft. She stopped. He looked down into eyes filled with concern.

“Have I done something wrong?”

He shuddered, shook his head. “No. You’ve done something very right. Please, continue.”

Buy links:
Amazon: https://amzn.to/2u5XQYY
Nook: https://bit.ly/31FUMig
Twitter: @mscottauthor1
Website: www.michalscott.webs.com

Michal Scott: A Black History Thank You to Rogers and Hammerstein (Excerpt)
Friday, February 21st, 2020

I love Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II musicals. I grew up watching them as movies on television. While not all their storylines have held up over time, I’m still moved by songs like “Something Wonderful”, “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught”. I am grateful to this prolific team for their heartfelt lyrics and beautiful music, but my deepest thanks goes to R&H for introducing me to Juanita Hall.

Growing up in the sixties, I hungered for images of Black women on the silver screen whom I could name and admire. R&H let me see a Black actress strut her stuff in some of the earliest examples of casting without regard to race.

Hall had been performing on Broadway since 1930. She even took a turn at directing in 1936. By the time R&H cast her in 1949’s South Pacific, she’d performed in no less than eight Broadway plays including Green Pastures and St. Louis Woman. R&H decided they needed someone with the voice and acting chops to bring the character of the Pacific Islander Bloody Mary to life. Juanita Hall filled the bill. She reprised the role in the 1958 film, although I have to listen to the original Broadway cast album to hear her sing “Bali H’ai”. In 1958, R&H used her in a second instance of casting despite race. She created the role of Madame Liang in Flower Drum Song. Hall recreated her role for the movie in 1961.

For a Black kid growing up in the East New York section of Brooklyn, knowing this Black woman wouldn’t be pigeonholed because of her race was inspirational. I like to think there’s a bit of Hall in One Breath Away‘s Mary Hamilton, a woman hemmed in by society’s expectations, but with the potential to break through them if given the chance. Besides her stage and film career, Hall cut albums, performed in nightclubs and directed choruses and choirs. You can learn more about her here: https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/hall-juanita-1901-1968/.

Nowadays those movies are critiqued for not hiring someone of Pacific Islander or Chinese background to play these roles, and rightly so. It hurts to see someone not of your race or ethnicity representing you. Boys and girls of all races need role models in whom they can see themselves and be proud of the way I was able to see myself in and be proud of Juanita Hall. I can’t ignore or minimize the wounding caused by casting a Black woman to portray someone of another race. The pros and cons of this “colorblind” approach are passionately debated. What I can do is celebrate that in 1949, by casting Hall in a musical whose plot revolves around race prejudice, R&H helped make Black History. Juanita Hall not only won the 1950 Tony for her role but, by doing so, became the first African American ever to win a Tony award.

One Breath Away

Sentenced to hang for a crime she didn’t commit, former slave Mary Hamilton was exonerated at literally the last gasp. She returns to Safe Haven, broken and resigned to live alone. She’s never been courted, cuddled or spooned, and now no man could want her, not when sexual satisfaction comes only with the thought of asphyxiation. But then the handsome stranger who saved her shows up, stealing her breath from across the room and promising so much more.

Wealthy, freeborn-Black, Eban Thurman followed Mary to Safe Haven, believing the mysteriously exotic woman was foretold by the stars. He must marry her to reclaim his family farm. But first he must help her heal, and to do that means revealing his own predilection for edgier sex.

Buy links:
Amazon – https://amzn.to/2u5XQYY
Nook: https://bit.ly/31FUMig
Kobo – https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/one-breath-away-8

Excerpt from One Breath Away

“Why not you, Mary?”

“Because someone like you only looks at someone like me out of pity.”

Of course. His aunt put him up to this. Anger warmed Mary’s ears.

“Let me go.” She made to pull away. “I want to sit.”

“Please. Not before the music stops.” He timed his plea to the rhythm of the waltz. “I’ve waited all week for this moment.”

Mary gritted her teeth. Heart hurt joined her injured pride. She needed no one’s charity.

“That was cruel of you, sir. No one counts the days until they can ask me for a dance.” Tears pooled behind her closed eyelids. “Anyone in town could tell you that.”

The grip on her hand tightened, forcing her eyes open. The light in his gaze darkened. “Anyone who’d lie to me like that would be taking their life in their hands.” He leaned in so his mouth nuzzled her ear again. “And if you use that I’m-not-worthy tone of voice again, I’ll be forced to prove you wrong with a kiss.”

Alarm shuddered up Mary’s back. “Is—is that a threat?”

“A certainty.”

A chilly thrill replaced the alarm. She blew out a breath to steady herself. Threat or certainty, both treated her to a delicious revelation—she wanted that kiss. She eyed his lips, imagined their soft yet demanding press against hers. Once more the voice of caution repeated its warning.

Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Oh, to be forced to flee from such a devil as he. She sighed. What a wonderful problem to have.

Website: www.michalscott.webs.com
Twitter: @mscottauthor1

 

Michal Scott: Birth of a New Nation
Monday, January 20th, 2020

What a phenomenal man Martin Luther King Jr. was. Each time I read his essays and sermons and speeches written fifty to sixty years ago, I marvel at his prescience, his forethought, his ability to inspire as well as be inspired. Asked to find a reading for my church’s 2020 MLK Jr. service, Dr. King’s sermon, “Birth of A New Nation”, called to me.

By the end of 1956 Dr. King had gained national attention because of the success of the Montgomery Bus boycott. In 1957 he, his wife Coretta Scott King and a number of prominent African Americans were invited to witness the independence ceremony of Ghana from Great Britain in March 1957. Moved to tears and joy by the experience, Dr. King went back to his congregation — the Dexter Avenue Baptist church — and in a sermon entitled “Birth of a New Nation”, told the history of Ghana’s struggle for independence and the personal history of its first prime minister, Kwame Nkrumah. Dr. King shared how Ghana’s non-violent ousting of the British intersected with their own fight against segregation. He told his congregation, “Ghana reminds us that freedom never comes on a silver platter.” He warned them to be ready to be spoken about badly, to possibly have their homes and their churches bombed because “freedom never comes easy. It comes through hard labor and it comes through toil” while also reminding them that the aftermath of nonviolence is the beloved community and redemption and reconciliation.

Reading as well as listening to this sermon provided a critique to my mind of many MLK Jr. services I’ve attended over the past thirty-seven years. So many gloss over the hardships Dr. King and those in the civil rights struggle endured but chose to face, so the world could be a better and more just place. Very few acknowledge, as Dr. King did, the connection shared by all struggles against oppression and the importance of making alliances, of fighting not only for your rights but the rights of others. Too often these services focus on the dream portion of his 1963 speech, but not on the bounced check that motivates the fight to make the dream come true.

I hope the portion of this sermon that I chose to share will inspire those attending our MLK Jr. service as the examples of Ghana and Kwame Nkrumah shared by Dr. King inspired the members of the Dexter Avenue congregation. I hope after hearing his words and the songs we sing and the reflections shared, we’ll leave this year’s service with “We Shall Overcome” ringing in our ears, not as a wistful prayer but as a declaration to fight against the injustice anywhere that is a threat to justice everywhere.

May you all have an inspiring MLK Jr. Day, too.

Better To Marry Than To Burn

Freed Man seeking woman to partner in marriage for at least two years in the black township of Douglass, Texas. Must be willing and able to help establish a legacy. Marital relations as necessary. Love neither required nor sought.

Excerpt:

She sidled up to him, cupped his erection and fondled his balls.

“Ready for bed or ready to bed me?”

He moaned, placed his hand atop hers and increased the pressure. Already hard, he hadn’t imagined he could get any harder.

“Is that beautiful brass bed new?”

He gulped. “Ye—yes. Bought it—bought it for the honeymoon.”

“I’m ready to be bedded now,” she whispered. “Or is that something we must negotiate?”

All thoughts of dinner vanished.

“No,” he rasped, leaning forward, as hungry for her lips as he was to be inside her.

“Good.” She stepped back, out of reach. “But, let’s be clear…” She bent over, so her butt protruded toward him. She massaged each buttock so her crack parted invitingly. “Tonight it’s the Greek way or no way.”

He blinked, stunned by this demand to be taken anally. His master had had books filled with drawings, depicting naked Greeks wrestling. Those pen and ink depictions flashed before him now. Arms constrained by arms, legs entwined with legs, butts and groins enmeshed in snug contortions. He’d love to take Queen that way, experience first- hand the erotic intimacy etched in the men’s struggle-laden features.

He took one step toward her then stopped. No. One day, he would…but not tonight. Not their first time. Their first time would be the nose-to-nose, chest-to-breast, cock-to-vagina coupling he’d hungered five years for.

Buy link: https://amzn.to/2KTaGPH
Website: www.michalscott.webs.com
Twitter: @mscottauthor1

Michal Scott: ‘Tis the Season – Blue Christmas
Friday, December 20th, 2019

Turn to someone and say, “‘Tis the season…” and that person will smile back at you and probably say, “To be jolly.” Then the two of you might laugh and sing “Fa la la la la la la la la.” The season of Advent revolves around the themes of peace, hope, joy and love reflected in the song “Deck The Halls”. On successive Sundays congregations light three purple or blue and one pink candles in their Advent wreaths and recite a prayer anticipating the hope, peace, joy and love that the coming of the Christ child will bring. The assumption is this is the most wonderful time of the year. But what if your time isn’t wonderful, putting you at odds with the majority of the people around you?

Loss at any time is painful, but experiencing loss when everyone else is smiling, laughing and giving good cheer can be doubly painful. A sense of isolation — or worse a sense of having no right to your feelings — can set in. The pressure to stiff-upper-lip-it is great. Sometimes greater than people can bear. This is why as minister for pastoral care, I developed a “Blue Christmas” service for First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica, NY (FPCJ) as a way to affirm loss and offer comfort to those for whom crying makes more sense than caroling.

Often held on the longest day of the year, Blue Christmas services let people who are mourning know that they are not alone, that they are not forgotten, that they have a right to what they’re feeling. Hymns and songs are usually sung in a minor key. Prayers shared acknowledge the sorrow and pain of loss with dignity. Works from authors like Ann Weems, who write meditations based in their own experience of suffering, are read. Old Testament scriptures point to people journeying from darkness to light. Psalms chosen are often ones of lament like Psalm 22 or ones looking for help like Psalm 121. New Testament readings focus on a hope that is always there, even when you can’t feel it. Candle lighting is coupled with litanies that banish as much as possible feelings of shame or blame. In the service I designed for FPCJ, attendees were invited to come forward and light candles as an act of agency showing that even when we feel most helpless we always have power. As a reverse offering, attendees were invited to take a scripture stone (glass stones with scriptures on them) from the offering plates to take home as reminders that help from the word of God is always within reach.

Here are two sample services so you can see what I mean: https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/blue-christmas-a-service-of-reflection-for-the-longest-night, https://youngclergywomen.org/blue-christmas-service-when-christmas-hurts/.

If you’ve never attended one, find a community near you that’s offering one then consider going. FPCJ’s Blue Christmas services were some of the most life affirming events I had the honor to participate in.

If this season is a dark night of the soul for you or someone you know, I hope this blogpost can serve as a reminder that there is comfort and strength for you in this time of loss, that there are people who care and that — as the old Negro spiritual proclaims — “trouble don’t last always.”

One Breath Away

Sentenced to hang for a crime she didn’t commit, former slave Mary Hamilton was exonerated at literally the last gasp. She returns to Safe Haven, broken and resigned to live alone. She’s never been courted, cuddled or spooned, and now no man could want her, not when sexual satisfaction comes only with the thought of asphyxiation. But then the handsome stranger who saved her shows up, stealing her breath from across the room and promising so much more.

Wealthy, freeborn-Black, Eban Thurman followed Mary to Safe Haven, believing the mysteriously exotic woman is his mate foretold by the stars. He must marry her to reclaim his family farm. But first he must help her heal, and to do that means revealing his own predilection for edgier sex.

Hope ignites along with lust until the past threatens to keep them one breath away from love…

Excerpt:

His smile turned up the heat in his gaze. Mary frowned, painfully aware the smell of her passion lingered in the air, despite the woolen barrier of her skirt.

He stepped forward so his hand-stitched boots stood toe-to-toe with Mary’s second-hand shoes. “Eban Thurman, at your service, Miss Hamilton. May I get you something to drink?”

At her service? The air congealed. Mary gasped, trying to suck in air too solid to inflate her lungs.

“No—no, thank you. I’m not thirsty.” Her stutter mimicked the tremor between her thighs. She clasped her hands and planted them hard against her lap.

“It’s a really hot night.” He turned his hand palm up in a silent plea. “Perhaps you’d find a waltz more cooling.” He eased his fingers into her clenched hands.

“May I beg the honor of this dance?”

“Beg?”

“Yes, Miss Hamilton.” He tilted his head, slanting his smile to the right. “Beg.”

“You don’t strike me as the begging type, Mr. Thurman.”

“To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.” He tongue-swiped his full lips as if he’d just tasted something he wanted to taste again. “I know when it’s time to beg.”

She pursed her lips into a frown, fought back the urge to grovel and won. Barely.

The fingers around hers, clean and huge and strangely slender, hadn’t moved, hadn’t trembled. Their stillness aroused her. His stillness aroused her. Her lips quivered. She inhaled deeply against the surrender summoned by that tiny tremor.

Resist the devil and he will flee.

Silently she called upon the truth in this scripture for rescue. The devil waited. She stared at the hand on hers, helpless against the appeal, the allure of temptation.

She swallowed hard, opened her mouth to say no, but her tongue refused to cooperate. She huffed out a breath and shook her head. “I—I can’t. I don’t know how to waltz.”

“Well, you’re in luck.” His lips bowed in a smile, full, broad, and hypnotizing. “I’m an excellent teacher and I bet you’re a fast learner.” He gave her fingers a squeeze. “Shall we?”

He really wanted to dance with her. She blinked, speechless. A warning voice protested.

Resist.

Her heart countered.

Surrender.

She firmed her lips, heaved a sigh then accepted his invitation. Felicity’s sputtered shock and Widow Hawthorne’s happy cackle accompanied them to the middle of the dance floor.

He placed his fingertips respectfully but firmly above the rise of her buttocks and held her in place against him. A tickle invaded the wool of her skirt where the tip of his middle finger rested at the head of her crack. Pleasure tripped up her spine and trickled between her thighs. But, from the recesses of remembered experience, a voice of caution persisted.

He wants something, Mary. Beware.

“Why—why do you want to dance with me?”

He smiled with the serpent slyness that probably charmed Eve. “I don’t think you’d believe me if I told you.”

“I might.”

He turned his head slightly. “Really? Your practiced calm says otherwise.”

She raised an eyebrow. “Practiced calm?”

“The face you present to the world until something touches your heart.” He gestured to his right. “Like when that baby there cried. Your expression changed to one of concern, then changed to one of contentment when his mother satisfied his hunger.”

Mary blew a breath through her mouth. This man was studying her. Really studying her. Should she be flattered or worried?

The one-two-three, one-two-three magic of the waltz began. He guided her in its dips and glides, through its rises and falls. The awkwardness attributed to her by past dance partners didn’t raise its ugly head. Her spirit lightened then soared until that still, small voice sounded the alarm.

You were fooled by another man and his fancy manners. Don’t be fooled by this one.

Hints of bay rum mingled with a manly scent against whose lure she struggled then lost. Once again her toilet water failed to hide the salty scent of her arousal.
Eban pinned her with a not-so-casual scrutiny. Could he smell her too? She tried but failed to read him. Dare she hope the ease in his smile meant he found it pleasing?

The other couples held their partners off with discreet and proper holds. Not Eban. Warmth radiated from the hand holding the small of her back hostage. The heat spread across her buttocks then seeped into places more private. He bent his elbow and gentled her forward so only their clasped hands separated them.

“Why, Miss Hamilton, I do believe you’re blushing.” His fingers held hers with a teasing yet possessive grip.

“I am not.” Her words shot out with a force she hadn’t intended. “I mean I don’t blush.”

“No?” A cheeky boyishness winked at her from eyes as dark as chocolate. He leaned down so his breath tickled her earlobe. “Not even if I kissed you behind your ear?”

She shrank back then stared up into the gaze showering her with attention. Her heart beat beneath her breast with a prisoner’s unease. An unease she knew well having once been a prisoner.

“You—you wouldn’t.”

His smile widened into a grin. “Only because I don’t want to embarrass you.”

The amusement in his voice coaxed forth a wet response that Mary clenched her vaginal muscles to stem. She swallowed repeatedly until she found her voice.

“You still haven’t answered me, sir. Of all the women here, why did you pick me?”

“Why not you?”

She blinked. Why not her? The answers swirled through her mind as easily as she and Eban swirled in this waltz.

Why not her?

Because she remained planted among the wallflowers by the time the musicians played the last song at every Safe Haven dance.

Because she learned to hang back at the call of “Ladies’ Choice,” forewarned of rejection by the grimaces caused by her approach.

Because unlike desperate-for-a-man Felicity, Mary refused to dance on her back in some dark field just so she wouldn’t be a woman who ain’t been asked.

Ain’t been asked to court. Ain’t been asked to spoon. Ain’t been asked to the altar. And never would be.

That’s why not her.

His calloused fingertips proved he worked manually for the wealth that purchased his custom-made attire. But, he didn’t speak like a field hand or common laborer. His speech testified to a level of education far above that of her Freedman’s Bureau learning.

“Why not you, Mary?”

“Because someone like you only looks at someone like me out of pity.”

Of course. His aunt put him up to this. Anger warmed Mary’s ears.

“Let me go.” She made to pull away. “I want to sit.”

“Please. Not before the music stops.” He timed his plea to the rhythm of the waltz. “I’ve waited all week for this moment.”

Mary gritted her teeth. Heart hurt joined her injured pride. She needed no one’s charity.

“That was cruel of you, sir. No one counts the days until they can ask me for a dance.” Tears pooled behind her closed eyelids. “Anyone in town could tell you that.”

The grip on her hand tightened, forcing her eyes open. The light in his gaze darkened. “Anyone who’d lie to me like that would be taking their life in their hands.” He leaned in so his mouth nuzzled her ear again. “And if you use that I’m-not-worthy tone of voice again, I’ll be forced to prove you wrong with a kiss.”

Alarm shuddered up Mary’s back. “Is—is that a threat?”

“A certainty.” He winked.

A chilly thrill replaced the alarm. She blew out a breath to steady herself. Threat or certainty, both treated her to a delicious revelation—she wanted that kiss.

She eyed his lips, imagined their soft yet demanding press against hers. Once more the voice of caution repeated its warning.

Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Oh, to be forced to flee from such a devil as he. She sighed. What a wonderful problem to have.
*~*~*

Book links: Amazon: https://amzn.to/2QfEOZd

Social media links: Twitter – @mscottauthor1
Website: http://www.michalscott.webs.com

Michal Scott: That Damned Mob of Scribbling Women (Excerpt)
Wednesday, November 20th, 2019

“America is now wholly given over to a damned mob of scribbling women, and I should have no chance of success while the public is occupied with their trash.”

Sounds like contemporary critics of the romance genre, doesn’t it? This little gem was penned by Nathaniel Hawthorne to his publisher in 1855 because his female contemporaries were reaping critical acclaim and outselling him.

I first heard this quote in a keynote speech this past October given by Maya Rodale. Intrigued, I wondered who was “Mr. Scarlet Letter” complaining about. This 2013 article gave me more than a clue:

http://www.bookslut.com/the_bombshell/2013_06_020173.php

Among this damned scribbling mob was the woman to whom Abraham Lincoln is supposed to have said, “So you are the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.”

That’s right: Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Harriet Beecher Stowe? A writer of trash? Hardly.

Stowe had been writing for fifteen years before Uncle Tom’s Cabin was published in 1852. In addition to novels, she wrote non-fiction, poetry and a drama based on Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin has gotten a bad rap through the years, but think about how radical it was for a White woman in the 1850’s to have a Black slave representing Christ at a time when her society was debating whether or not African-Americans were even human. We don’t have to imagine the impact of seeing slaves depicted with dignity, loyalty, and willing to be self-sacrificing had in that era. Even Lincoln recognized the power of her novel. What I never imagined was the backlash it received. Her depiction of African-Americans as human beings was so despised there was a slew of anti-Uncle Tom novels written to offset her novel’s impact. Needless to say, they failed.

As I’ve learned more about Stowe’s religious views and social justice activities, I understand better why her novel hit the nerve it did when it did. She wrote from her heart about a cause she believed in, unlike Mr. worried-about-having-no-chance-of-success Hawthorne. I’m eager to read more of her works and more works about her because I want to be a scribbling woman like her.

Better to Marry Than to Burn

Wife Wanted: Marital relations as necessary. Love not required nor sought…

A bridal lottery seems the height of foolishness to ex-slave Caesar King, but his refusal to participate in the town council’s scheme places him in a bind. He has to get married to avoid paying a high residence fine or leave the Texas territory. After losing his wife in childbirth, Caesar isn’t ready for romance. A woman looking for a fresh start without any emotional strings is what he needs.

Queen Esther Payne, a freeborn black from Philadelphia, has been threatened by her family for her forward-thinking, independent ways. Her family insists she marry. Her escape comes in the form of an ad. If she must marry, it will be on her terms. But her first meeting with the sinfully hot farmer proves an exciting tussle of wills that stirs her physically, intellectually, and emotionally.

In the battle of sexual one-upmanship that ensues, both Caesar and Queen discover surrender can be as fulfilling as triumph.

Excerpt:

WARNING! This is hot!!

With thanks to God, he pushed past her flimsy drawers to the moist welcome of her center. Her vaginal walls gripped his fingers with surprising force. No amount of twisting or turning wrenched them free. God, to have that grip surrounding his shaft.

He pulled back and studied her face. Eyes still closed, a sly smile bowed her perfect lips. She enjoyed this battling as much as he.

“Was I too brutal for your enjoyment, Mrs. King?”

Her eyelids rose with the slow grace of sunrise. A gleam as sly as her smile shone in her gaze. “You call that brutal, Mr. King?”

She unclenched her lower muscles, allowing his fingers momentary retreat. With great care, she grasped his hand then slid his fingers between her folds once more.

“Holy Christ, woman. What—?”

The gentle rubbing robbed him of his ability to think.

“Jesus, have mercy,” he wheezed.

She slid his fingers from her wet sex into his mouth. He moaned, lost in her delectable taste.

Without taking her gaze from his face, she raked her gloved hand down his chest, across his belly, to his groin. Anticipation tensed his muscles in the wake of her touch. He watched mesmerized as, with a practiced ease, she unbuttoned his fly, pushed past the fabric, sought, found and stroked his cock. Her woolen gloves imparted a delicious friction he couldn’t oppose, even if he’d wanted. Delight enlivened every muscle in his body, including his jaded heart.

Jesus. This couldn’t be more than arousal. Could it?

Her fingers squeezed and his body arched upward on the yes swelling his spirit with joy. He threw back his head, mouth open, ready to shout as he neared the point of release.

Then she let him go.

He doubled over, slain by the abandonment. His lungs constricted, bereft of air. Reason deserted him too.

She stood and smoothed down her skirts with the hand that had massaged his shaft more deftly than he ever had. Reseated, she grabbed the reins and snapped the leather against his horse’s rump.

“Get up there.”

The wagon jostled Caesar from side to side. Still unable to straighten up, he looked into eyes gleaming with triumph. Her lips curved in a regal smirk.

“Was I too brutal for your enjoyment, Mr. King?”

Buy links:
Wild Rose Press – https://www.thewildrosepress.com/books/better-to-marry-than-to-burn
Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/Better-Marry-than-Michal-Scott-ebook/dp/B07BK1JPKX/

Michal Scott: A Sisterhood of Artistic Warriors: Women of the Harlem Renaissance (Excerpt)
Sunday, October 20th, 2019

I love it when interests come together.

Three of my loves (opera, learning about African-American women, and writing) came together as I wrestled with how to adapt Richard Wagner’s Die Valkyrie, the second opera of his Ring Cycle, to a Reconstruction/Gilded Age New York setting with African-American characters.

In Act III of Wagner’s opera, the Valkyrie are nine sisters who bring dead heroes from the battlefield to defend Valhalla — the hall of the Gods — for Wotan who is their father and the king of the gods. Fixed in my mind were images from productions showing the sisters all the same age. Check out this youtube video of the Royal Danish Opera’s production to see what I mean: https://youtu.be/FPcrqkViZKw. My Valkyrie are not immortals who never aged. Unless I made them nonuplets, I had to figure a way around the birth order problem.

Then it hit me. My Valkyrie didn’t have to be blood-related sisters. They could be sisters of a sorority. Women’s literary societies of the nineteenth century were places where women escaped the limitations placed on them by society. They could exercise their intellect and share their opinions freely without fear of ridicule or contempt. My Valkyries’ common bond wasn’t to be in service to a man’s goals as depicted in Die Valkyrie, but the pursuit of their own self-actualization as warrior women — artistic warrior women. This is where love number two came into play.

In a previous post on this blog, I shared how disappointed I was that in a box of thirty-six famous African Americans, only six were women. With my idea of creating a sorority, I decided I could base my Valkyrie on the women of the Harlem Renaissance.

I knew already of Zora Neale Hurston, Nella Larsen, Jessie Redmon Fauset and Dorothy West. I went in search of five more and came across this fantastic list of twenty-seven fabulous women (of whom I’d only known about thirteen): https://www.thoughtco.com/women-of-the-harlem-renaissance-3529259.

Now before you object, I know that the Harlem Renaissance took place in the 1920s and early 30’s. Originally, I had thought of basing my Valkyrie on African-American women who participated and battled white racism in the suffrage movement in the 1890’s, but once I latched onto the creative energy generated by the Harlem Renaissance women, everything clicked. So much so I’m having a hard time keeping my story to its original time period.

Anyway, this list gave me twenty-seven heroines from which to draw my nine Valkyrie. Should I base Brunhilda, the defiant Valkyrie who dominates Acts II and III of this opera on Zora Neale Hurston or Josephine Baker, both defiant trailblazing rule breakers? I’m leaning toward the remarkable Jessie Redmon Fauset. Langston Hughes called her “the midwife of the Harlem Renaissance” because as literary editor of the NAACP’s The Crisis magazine from 1919 to 1926 she helped birth the writing careers of many writers and poets of the Harlem Renaissance. Which of the remaining women should I use to round out my sisterhood of warrior women? What new women might I find to use instead? As my research continues, the possibilities stretch before me endlessly. I’m having so much fun learning about these women I have to fight to stay out of the research abyss and move into love number three: writing.

The images and herstories of these women continue to fuel my imagination. I’ve already outlined one of their gatherings. They’re enjoying their exploits, sharing how they’re mentoring women as protégés and men to be true allies. I’m looking forward to writing the confrontation between Brunhilde and Wotan. If you’d like a summary of Wagner’s story, check out this link: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Der-Ring-des-Nibelungen/Story-summary-of-Die-Walkure.

My adaptation of Wagner’s Die Valkyrie is a story of women’s empowerment and agency. With the artistic warrior women of the Harlem Renaissance as my guides, I’m hoping my version of the story will be a source of empowerment and agency for all its readers.

Better To Marry Than To Burn

Freed Man seeking woman to partner in marriage for at least two years in the black township of Douglass, Texas. Must be willing and able to help establish a legacy. Marital relations as necessary. Love neither required nor sought.

Caesar King’s ad for a mail-order bride is an answer to Queen Esther Payne’s prayer. Her family expects her to adhere to society’s traditional conventions of submissive wife and mother, but Queen refuses. She is not the weaker sex and will not allow herself to be used, abused or turned into a baby-making machine under the sanctity of matrimony. Grateful that love is neither required nor sought, she accepts the ex-slave’s offer and heads West for marriage on her terms. Her education and breeding will see to that. However, once she meets Caesar, his unexpected allure and intriguing wit makes it hard to keep love at bay. How can she hope to remain her own woman when victory may be synonymous with surrender?

Excerpt:

She pulled the wagon to a stop. “Care to take over?”

She held the reins before him. He nodded. She handed over the reins, crossed her arms and stared at him. “Tell me more about Emma.”

He shrugged. That kind of detail hadn’t been part of the bargain, but…

“Not much to tell. She used to teach us slaves in secret, then openly when Union forces secured our town. I was her star pupil. We married and came West for a fresh start. She died giving birth to twin boys soon after we arrived. They followed her within a few hours.”

A soft light shone at him from her eyes. “Sorry for your loss.”

“None needed. Good comes from bad. Death, not slavery, took my boys from me. They never had to live as someone’s property.” He sat a little straighter. “Our children will never have to worry about that.”

“Our children?” She swiveled in her seat. “You made no mention of wanting children, just marital relations as necessary. I understood that to mean intercourse.”

“I wrote I wanted to leave a legacy.”

“A legacy. Not a dynasty.”

“Legacy. Dynasty. Is there really so sharp a distinction?”

“To my mind there is. I understood you meant to affect future generations—endow schools, found churches, create civic associations. I didn’t realize that meant children. I agreed to having sex, not having children.”

“Of course I want children.” His brows grew heavy as he frowned. “Doesn’t having sex lead to having children?”

“Not with the right precautions.”

His frown deepened. “Precautions?”

“There are many ways to prevent your seed from taking root, Mr. King.”

“I want children, Mrs. King.”

Her lips twisted and her brow furrowed, but she kept her silence.

“All right,” she said. “You can have children with any woman you like. I won’t stop you. I free you from any claim to fidelity.”

“Legacy—or dynasty if you will—means legitimacy. No bastard will carry my name, not when I have a wife to bear me children.”

“I see.”

Her tone signaled she didn’t.

Buylinks:
Amazon: https://amzn.to/2KTaGPH
Wild Rose Press: https://www.thewildrosepress.com/books/better-to-marry-than-to-burn

Find out more about Michal here:
Website: https://michalscott.webs.com/
Twitter: @mscottauthor1