Tuesday, October 20, 2015

White Lines III: All Falls Down




IN STORES EVERYWHERE 11/17/2015!
Pre-order your copy today at www.authortracybrown.com


The release date is quickly approaching! I'm so excited for you to read the story, and catch up with Born, Jada, Sunny, and the gang. SO EXCITED, in fact, that I'd like to share an excerpt with you.

Click the link below for a sneak peek at "White Lines III: All Falls Down"! Let me know what you think in the comments below.


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Feminism?


My daughter and I are directors of a non-profit organization (We Are Ladies First, Ltd.) that mentors young women in our community. We agree that our cause is a worthy one. Take one look at the behavior of many of the young ladies in our neighborhoods, on our social media timelines, or in the music videos that permeate the airwaves, and it becomes clear that there is a problem. While we agree on the existence of the problem, we hold very different viewpoints on what the solutions are.

Recently, my daughter launched a campaign online using our organization’s Instagram page. She encouraged women to channel their inner “Rosie the Riveter” and post photos of themselves in the iconic pose. The overall message was “Girl Power!”  While I champion that message, the image sparked an interesting discussion.



Jokingly (or perhaps only half-jokingly), I stated that I'd rather not roll up my sleeves and get my nails dirty. "Let the boys do that," I said. My daughter gave me a side-eye and questioned my statement. The word “feminism” came up, and she asked whether or not I considered myself a feminist. I wasn’t sure. I wanted to be absolutely sure of the meaning. So I looked up the word.

fem·i·nism
ˈfeməˌnizəm/
noun
1.    the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.

We agreed that both of us are advocates for women’s rights. Women should be allowed to run for political office. We should be allowed to vote, to run companies, and to earn equal pay for equal work. But that seemed to be all that we agreed on. My daughter maintained that women should have the right to participate in male contact sports such as football in a co-ed capacity, as long as they have equal skills to their male counterparts. She argues that Rhonda Rousey could realistically FIGHT Floyd Mayweather if a such thing as coed boxing existed. I asked her if she would be okay with Floyd punching Rhonda in the face during a boxing match, and she said that she would be fine with that. I would not. Call me crazy, but whether they are equal in height, weight, and even physical agility there should never be an occasion for a man to physically fight a woman. Even if she steps in the ring and invites it. 

My daughter also insists that there are no gender specific toys, activities, games, or jobs. Her belief is that little girls should be allowed to play with cars, and action figures and that boys should be allowed to play with Barbies and nail polish. She lectures me at length about my inability to work a power drill, open a tightly closed jar, or change a flat tire. When her three year old daughter stated that “football is for boys”, my daughter’s outrage was immediate.

Meanwhile, my views are a bit different.  I think it’s natural for children to identify certain things as gender specific. Pink is for girls. Earrings are for girls. Hair ribbons, nail polish, ruffles, glitter – all for girls. Matchbox cars are for boys. Football, wrestling, ice hockey, and rugby are for males, in my opinion. My views are more traditional. In a perfect world, I believe that both males and females should be able to work outside of the home for equal pay if they possess equal abilities. Once back at home, though, I am comfortable with a man who takes out the trash, makes home repairs, shovels snow, and maintains the cars. In return, the lady should maintain the household, be the main caretaker for the children, and add those feminine touches that make a house a home. When I go to the nail salon, it used to be an exclusively female crowd. But not anymore. When my sons used to go to the barber shop, there used to be an exclusively male crowd. But these days, those things are no longer true. 



I'm disturbed by this trend. While I may be in the minority, I believe that feminism shouldn’t be about trading in our Jimmy Choos for combat boots. I like my Jimmy Choos. I don’t want to play every role in society. Instead, I’m comfortable in my femininity, and I am attracted to men who are comfortable in their masculinity. I don’t want a man who acts like a woman. And the man I’m meant to be with will be comfortable with me and all my dainty ways. He should open doors for me, and pull out my chair for me at the table. He shouldn’t assume that I’m one of those women who would see those gestures as demeaning or condescending. In some cases, I wonder if chivalry is dead because women unintentionally killed it with our staunchly independent stance.

The more I talk about this with my friends and family members, the more I realize that I am one of the few women who hold this viewpoint. Many of my married girlfriends pull up a chair at the table every night to enjoy a meal their husbands prepare. Both spouses work outside of the home, yet it’s the husband who does the domestic work - preparing all of the meals, doing the children's hair, even sewing. This arrangement works perfectly for them, and they have enjoyed long, happy marriages. For all I know, these women may change tires, wield power tools like a skilled professional, or shovel their own walkways. I don't claim to have all of the answers. In fact, I could be completely old fashioned in my thinking. What are your views on feminism? Is my daughter right? Am I right? Or is it as I suspect – that the truth is somewhere in the middle? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and let’s keep the conversation going.

P.S. I smell a future novel here. J














                                                                   

Saturday, September 5, 2015

White Lines III: All Falls Down



On November 17th, readers will be reunited with Born, Jada, Sunny, Zion, Olivia, Frankie, Baron, and all of the characters from the "White Lines" and "Snapped" series! Available soon for pre-order right here at www.authortracybrown.com.

A few questions for my avid readers:

  • Who is your favorite female character - Olivia (Criminal Minded/White Lines), Jada (White Lines), Sunny (White Lines), or Gillian (Snapped/Aftermath)?
  • Who is the sexiest? Born (White Lines), Dorian (White Lines), Zion (Criminal Minded), Baron (Snapped/Aftermath), or Frankie (Snapped/Aftermath)?
  • Who do you think will emerge victorious in "White Lines III: All Falls Down"? Who will lose?
  • What was your favorite scene in a White lines/Snapped novel?
Thanks for your support! Stay tuned for updates, excerpts, and giveaways leading up to the release this fall!


Friday, September 4, 2015

The Alchemist


I love to write. There’s something liberating and poetic about expressing one’s thoughts, emotions, and fantasies in words. But, even greater than my love of writing is my passion as a reader. I adore those rare moments when I pick up a book that turns my whole world on its ear, and makes me see things from a fresh perspective. Recently, I reread one such gem. The Alchemist by Paul Coelho is a book whose message is simultaneously simple and multi-layered.

 
Throughout the journey of the story’s protagonist, the reader is made to reflect on our own pilgrimage through life. Reading it, and then rereading it, forced me to examine my own rhetoric, and face my fears. We all like to think that we’re living our lives to the fullest, and fulfilling our purpose. But, if many of us are honest with ourselves, we’re really doing the bare minimum. Squeaking by with minimal effort, not giving life our all. Reading The Alchemist opened my eyes in unexpected ways. `It changed my thinking, and made me examine whether or not I have truly been living by my own mantra: “Dream BIG!”

 


I say the phrase all the time. It’s something I have drilled into the heads of my children, the young ladies I’ve mentored, and anyone who follows me on social media. “Dream BIG!” In many ways, I’ve demonstrated my commitment to this mantra in my life. As a young lady navigating some of the roughest parts of New York City, I dared to dream that I could get out of the projects and provide a better life for my children. I did that. I dreamed of becoming an author, traveling, and I’ve done those things. But, until I really dug into the message of The Alchemist, I wasn’t truly dreaming BIG. I was dreaming within my own comfort zone, afraid that if I dared to long for something greater that I might be disappointed. I was thinking too small.



The story follows a young shepherd’s search for his own Personal Legend – the destiny he’s meant to fulfill in life, and his own personal treasure. His journey made me examine my own voyage toward the same things. Along the way, the shepherd met several people who factored into his destiny in different ways. There were those who discouraged him from dreaming too big, warning him that disappointment could result if he was unable to reach his goal. He encountered those who envied his ability to dream, when they had long ago given up on having dreams of their own. While reading the book, I thought about those who settle for a life of mediocrity; doing what they have to do in order to have the appearance of success, all the while feeling unfulfilled deep inside because they never had the courage to truly go for it.

I had to admit that I was one of those people. I was settling for a life of comfort, predictability, and ordinariness, when I knew all along that I’m capable of so much more. I got caught in the trap of getting comfortable in a place where I was only meant to rest for a brief moment. It was just a rest stop on the road toward something so much greater. Like the shepherd, I had to find the courage to leave the “crystal shop” where I was working and venture out into the “desert” toward my own Personal Legend.
 

 

I think there’s a book out there for each of us that has the potential to rock us to our core. This book was it for me. It felt like some wise elder sat me down and said to me, very frankly, “Snap out of it! There’s a huge unclaimed reward out there with your name on it. Go get it. Stop being average. Life should never be average.”

It woke me up; gave me the courage to abandon the trappings of a pretty comfortable lifestyle for the chance at going full throttle as a writer, a visionary, a storyteller, and a trailblazer. It pushed me to stop thinking small, settling for a safe bet, when the very scent of possibility is delicious to me. I was born to take risks, to seek the adventure of new beginnings and to challenge myself to grow as the woman God created me to be. The Alchemist lit a fire inside of me.

I suggested the book to my book club, Between the Lines, and our discussion was so rich. Each of us has been on a personal journey of growth as women, albeit in different ways. We were all able to gauge some inspiration from the book. For some of us, the book spoke volumes, revolutionizing the way we view the ups and downs of life. For others, the message was less poignant. But, all of us walked away from it with the reminder that everything we seek is on the other side of fear. Once we face our fears in pursuit of our dreams, immense treasure awaits. Happiness is found.

William H. Gass said, The true alchemists do not change lead into gold; they change the world into words.

 I like to imagine that I will reach the level of excellence as a writer that I might be considered a true alchemist. What I know for sure is that I’m more determined than ever to try.