New African-American Book Release: The Griot



My novel, The Griot, is finally complete and the feeling is out of this world. Self-publishing was quite the journey, from beginning to end. Each step seemed more impossible to complete than the one before, but it’s finished.


Here’s the synopsis.

“Blacks have never belonged in America,” was Father Malcolm’s mantra. In the year 2014, he created a settlement in Africa’s Serengeti for African Americans. Two hundred years later, the kingdom of Za and the citizens who inhabit it are thriving until one of them is forced into a secret world that will challenge everything she’s ever believed about herself and the kingdom she calls home.

Zen’s life is seemingly perfect. Set to marry the love of her life, she believes all of her dreams are about to come to fruition, but when she’s forced to join the Griothood, a secret society of storytellers, her life takes an abrupt turn.

When Zen learns the truth about herself and the kingdom she so loves, she is handed the responsibility of stopping a treacherous band of rebels before they destroy the kingdom. If she doesn’t stop fighting her calling and learn that no one is who they seem, Za is doomed.

And then there’s the breathtaking prince…

Torn between the life she knew and the stories she hears; Zen is left bewildered. Was her entire life a lie?

With so much at stake, can Zen save her kingdom and all she holds dear?


10 Ways I Overcame Postpartum Depression


Cairo and I

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. Please seek help from a doctor should you feel any symptoms of Postpartum Depression

Now that my precious baby boy is 3 months old I can gladly say that this has been a wonderful journey so far. I am having so much fun watching him grow and develop a personality. It’s just as exciting as watching my first baby grow. Having my first child was very different however. At that time having a newborn was one of the darkest, most depressing, and scariest times of my life. It wasn’t until I was out of that darkness that I realized that I indeed had postpartum depression (PPD). I was exhausted but because I was so anxious about everything (her not gaining enough weight, painful breastfeeding, and just being a new mother) I couldn’t sleep. I felt as if I was barely existing, and I felt so alone. I was highly irritated with my husband who was not the most supportive person at the time. I had no family nearby once my parents went home. Being a military wife who just moved to a new state with my husband, I had no friends.

This time I can happily say that Post Partum Depression did not come visit me. Although it may not have been in the cards for me this time, I took some steps to avoid it at all costs. These are the steps I recommend if you’re a new mama and you’re not feeling like yourself.

1. Tell Your Doctor

Things are different this time around. Every doctor screens for anxiety in the mother including the pediatricians. Be truthful on those surveys that ask how you feel. If you’re depressed and anxious, say so. Don’t be afraid. Don’t wait for things to get better. Because I knew my history I talked to my doctor during my pregnancy so that we could come up with a preventative plan. This made a big difference and fortified by support system.

2. Keep in touch with your support system a.k.a. your tribe

Let your true friends know that you’re not yourself if you feel out of sorts. Go out with them to lunch or have them come over and vibe with you. They can raise your vibrations or listen. Make sure that these are girlfriends that you trust. After the fact, I told a few people about my depression and they actually laughed. Many people don’t understand this type of illness.

If you have no one, join They have many different groups and it feels good to express yourself to strangers sometimes. I’ve also joined groups like the Babywearing International lending library for baby wearing moms and dads. You can check out a new sling or wrap every month, and you get to hang out with other parents. Click this link to find out if there is a chapter near you. Babywearing International Tribe


3. Keep your routine as normal as possible

One thing that kept me grounded was watching my reality and house hunting shows, playing games on my tablet, listening to my Audiobooks. I went on quick shopping trips with my mom, yet I was careful not to over do it. I just made sure to keep the things that I loved in my life, including watching the foolishness unfold on Babycenter. For me it was important to get out of the house!

4. Talk to someone

My mother and father saved my life. I would call my mom and tell her how horrible I was feeling and she realized that something wasn’t right. I wasn’t just having problems adjusting and things had gone far beyond baby blues. She said “I’m sending your father up there.” My dad and baby brother came up here and would stay up with the baby so I could rest. My dad is an excellent cook and kept the kitchen spotless. He’s also funny and fun to have around. My brother stayed for a few weeks to help out after my dad left. Within a week of my dad being there I felt like Valarie again.

5. Meditate james-douglas-730

In order to stay grounded, I have my husband take the baby so I can get a few moments to check in with my spirit and quiet my thoughts. This keeps me grounded and it is in these moments of silence that I sometimes find solutions to my problems.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

6. Know that you haven’t done anything wrong.

I felt embarrassed and like an awful person when I was going the PPD. I was supposed to be in bliss. I was supposed to be in love with my beautiful baby, but instead I felt like I wasn’t supposed to be a mother. The embarrassment that I felt kept me from calling a doctor. I didn’t want to be labeled as a bad mom. I was even irrationally scared that they would take my child. Now I know that being a good mother means getting help if you need it.

7. Let people help you.

Last time I think I was too proud for help. I told my mom that we wanted to enjoy the baby by ourselves. This time I said, “stay as long as you like.” I allowed my mom to do anything she wanted to assist. I allowed myself to be spoiled. The spouses club from my husband’s squadron set up a meal train and I welcomed it. We ate well for a long time.


8. Get a lactation consultant

One huge source of anxiety for me was my issues with breastfeeding. I had trouble getting my daughter to latch. I had sore and cracked nipples, I had clogged milk ducts, and my baby wasn’t gaining weight the way the doctors wanted her to. In the hospital I had no lactation consultants, and although the nurses tried to assist it just wasn’t working. I finally gave up and when I did I felt guilty which added on to my depression. This time I knew I wanted to give breastfeeding another try, but I also knew that my little man would be just fine if I wasn’t able to breastfeed. This time breastfeeding started off just as hard as before even though I watched a million YouTube videos on how to get newborns to latch. So when he was 1 week I called a recommended lactation consultant that my insurance now covered and within five minutes I was nursing like a pro. I truly think that lady is an angel.

9. Sleep when the baby sleeps

I didn’t take this to heart the first time. I was running around the house trying to sterilize her bottles and my pump parts after every feeding and doing other unnecessary chores. Now I sleep whenever my baby sleeps, which is often. If something doesn’t get done, oh well. My husband is fully capable of doing the dishes and cooking something simple.

10. This too shall pass.

Before you know it. Being a mother will be second nature and you will barely recognize that depressed you. As your hormones return to normal and baby grows and starts smiling at you, you will find yourself in complete bliss.

Black woman

You got this. Are there any tips that I missed? Please Comment below.




5 Things About Sisterhood and Synchronicity


Two weeks ago I stepped out on faith for my career and my spirit, and I drove 500 miles for the Between Words & Water Writing Retreat. A Facebook sponsored ad popped up on my screen one day, and I clicked the link and my life changed. Dramatic? I called my husband and number 1 supporter. He gave me the “do what you want.” Then I called my mom and asked her opinion. I told her I didn’t know the host or any of the people going but I loved what the retreat was offering, Reiki readings, yoga, a Gullah tour, and more. I thought my mother would say, “No. Don’t do it. You don’t know these people,” but to my surprise, she said, “Go.” Then we brainstormed about how we would take care of my child. Mama covered that, too. #Ittakesavillage

When I got there, I was greeted with hugs, awesome energy, sage for smudging, and a beautiful journal. I met six lovely and conscious women. The conversation was great and the food divine #chefkey. I’m still in awe that I ate and enjoyed vegan food. I also received some great feedback for the Griot. As we sat on the patio beach house, that overlooked the pool, I thought of the movie Love Jones when the friends gathered and enjoyed good conversation. What I learned from these women and their spirits was invaluable. Finding that link was pure synchronicity. This was the first time that I sat and talked with a room full of women—besides Oprah in my mind—who were spiritually conscious. Ase. #keepyaeyesopen

  1. Synchronicity

    When you are manifesting your dreams, the Universe puts people and situations in your life that are in sync with your vision.13220786_10102501155142207_1126696080724206416_o

  2. Villages

    Although we are a military family, we’ve have been blessed with a wonderful village to help us raise our child. From our parents to my friends…thank you. Mom stepped in and took off work to watch my baby. 13235282_10102499982871447_2661114752760910058_o

  3. Sisterhood

    The feminine energy at this retreat was amazing and what I needed. Oya and Yemoja were present, too. I got to meditate and practice yoga with these women. Jamie Fleming-Dixon was in her element as our yoga coach. 13198370_10102501155127237_7684161240213276049_o

  4. Good food

    There’s nothing like food prepared with love. No meat for two days was new for me. I went into it with an open mind, and I was pleasantly surprised. Thanks, Chef Key.13247923_10102501155271947_2242483862144529753_o

  5. I am a Griot

    A griot is a storyteller. I am a griot. It’s what I do every day when I stand in front of my students. At the retreat, I had the blessing to be able to share my story with writing coach, Trelani Duncan, and the other women. I am living my dream. thegriot