Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Roque's Reality Newsletter #3 Is Out Now


The third Roque's Reality newsletter is finally out. With each issue, I am going up another level with this issue. As I begin to learn more about writing and digital media, my experiences are reflected in my work. I'm not going to constantly say that this is my best issue to date. All I'm saying is that I'm so happy on how each issue reaches a new level of digital growth.

Click on the link below and have a good read.

Monday, February 17, 2014

A Bubble Bath Mixer With Hardly Any Bubbles

 

This is what I truly call bad advertising or a sad excuse for a product.

Ever since November 2013, I can't remember the last time I've taken a shower. Due to traveling, college classes, and work obligations, baths are now a necessary husband for me. Besides, I love baths. I've always laid in tubs. Even in my hometown, I washed all the sweat I got by riding my bike by marinating in relaxing hot water.

But when it comes to bath tubs, bubble bath mixers are a necessary accessory. Letting the bubbles rise on top of water is the cherry that you must always add on top of the whip cream. A bath with plain hot water is just plain crazy. Even the steam coming out of the water will think you're crazy.

Apparently, some companies don't understand it.

I walked into Family Dollar near my apartment. The original idea was to get soap and detergent for the bathroom. Then as I walked towards the end of isle 4, I looked down past my favorite Axe body wash and found bubble bath brands below. When I looked below the name, I couldn't help but notice that the price tag on some of the body wash read $1.15.

My eyes were wider than ever before. I have never seen a brand of bubble bath that cost so low. I took the chance and bought a brand of it home for me.

Now I know why it's so damn cheap.

First off, the bath is more liquid than oily. Once you pour it in the bathtub, it would take half of the large container in order to create a large pool of bubbles. Then once the bubbles are created, their not big at all. They look like mini pebbles ready to pop at any second. Finally, they evaporate within in the next fifteen.

I have now learned. Don't ever buy bubble bath that are very cheap. They are “cheap” for a reason.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Armani & Me: An Interview About "Harlem Boyz"

 
Harlem Boyz is without a doubt one of the most buzzed LGBT books this year. Through word of mouth and print/digital publications, people are highly raving about this book. Who is this author that wrote this book that everyone keeps talking about.

I recently reached out to Armani Williams just to have a little chit chat on this new book and new recognition.

So here you are with your second book. Did you have any fear that you were going to be a one book wonder, and not write a second book after Scandalicious?

I would say before publishing Scandalicious I thought that. By the time I’d published Scandalicious, I’d finished writing Harlem Boyz. But there was a five year gap between writing them both so the fear of not being able to write another book was definitely there at first. I’m grateful that my love of writing has allowed me to write more than one book. I think that’s the difference between writers and someone who has a story to tell. There are several stories I have to tell so I’m excited about it.

What made you decide to write a novel like Harlem Boyz?

I wanted to show a different side of black gay men that doesn’t often get shown. I think there are still many misconceptions about who we are. For one, we don’t all dress in drag, we don’t all idolize and aspire to be women, we’re not all catty, mean and cutthroat. Some of us act like men, conduct ourselves as men, work, and have real lives. That was the most important thing to me. No disrespect to the ones who dress in drag, enjoy the ballroom scene, and the like. Whatever floats your boat but the thing is they are represented very well. The rest of us aren’t. You’d be surprised how many people I encounter who tell me, “Wow I’ve never met a gay man like you. You’re so…normal.” I don’t take it offensively, I’m proud to represent a different kind of gay man. And my gay male friends are a lot like me. I wanted to create something that represented us. Pretty much saying, “Hey we exist over here too.” And there is something dynamic about us here in the NYC metro area. And I figured Harlem would be the perfect place to capture it because it’s such a great place. I love Harlem. It’s my favorite place in New York.

You once wrote on your Facebook page that this book was quite an emotional journey for you. Describe that to me?

Wow. Well I went through a lot in my personal life. In between the releases of Scandalicious and Harlem Boyz, I went through about five years’ worth of stuff in about two years. A lot of dark moments that aren’t the easiest to talk about but I will say that it all made me stronger. And the big pay- off is the success of Harlem Boyz, which allows me the opportunity to talk to great folks like you. The only thing I can say is when you are met with great challenges, you truly find out what you’re made of, you find out who you are, and who is really in your corner.

How is a guy who lives in New Jersey able to depict New York City, especially Harlem, the way you did so beautifully?

Thank you. I lived in Harlem briefly so I got to know all of its splendor. The funny thing is I had written the book prior to living there. But after living there I was able to give the book more details and change a few things. I did a lot of walking around while living there. So I learned where things were and was able to mix things up with my imagination and real places. I wanted the book to feel like a film that was shot on location. So far, that has won over many of my readers. They felt like they were in New York which is exactly the picture I wanted to paint.

Which character was more interesting to write and which character was the most difficult to write?

Writing this book was very organic. The characters were just there and the dialogue came naturally. They were so much fun to write about. Especially the scenes where they were all together and just talking. Sharing themselves with one another. I must tell you, I think one of the most refreshing things about this book is that they actually talk. While there are some phone and text conversations, it doesn’t dominate the book. With the advancement of social media, smart phones, and all these different devices, conversation is such a lost art these days. So the fact that they actually talked to each other mattered a great deal to me. I don’t think any one character was particularly difficult to write about, in as much as some of the darker scenes were difficult to read over and over again. The violent scenes and the discussions of painful memories were kind of hard to go back through. But in writing them the first time, it wasn’t too hard. Just reading back through it was kind of hard after I’d written it.

When you are writing these characters, did Armani Williams, by any chance, put pieces of himself into any of the four main men or supporting characters?

(Laughs) Believe it or not, all four of them are extensions of me. I relate to Shawn’s sensitivity and his soft heart. There was a time in my life where I was very fearful like Kevin. Damon is who I would like to be when I grow up (minus the neurotic behavior, lol), and Malcolm is the guy I’ve always wanted to be. I think I’m pretty cool but Malcolm’s swag is always at 1000. I mean he walks into a room and a breeze begins to blow, that’s how cool he is. But underneath his tough exterior, he’s a teddy bear. Just don’t get on his bad side because he will knock you the fuck out. (Laughs) But on a more serious note, Mama Nzingha is a lot like my own mother. My mother read about her and said, “Wait. Is she supposed to be me?” I said “Yeah kind of.” Like Malcolm, I lost my father at a young age and had a similar conversation with his grave. I just wish he’d lived to see me grow into the man I’ve become. I wanted my father around the same way Malcolm wanted his father around. Just to be there. The conversations Damon had with his father are also the conversations I wish I’d gotten a chance to have with mine. And the fact that I wanted to live in Harlem was another reason they live there.

What is currently on your reading list?

Right now I’m reading To Paris with Love by Carl Weber.

What is next for Armani Williams? Any short term, long term goals?

Well, promotion for Harlem Boyz is underway. I have a few appearances coming up and I’m trying to figure which festivals and book fairs I want to attend. I’m midway through writing my third book, Jersey Lovers which I’m particularly happy about because my characters in this book are straight and one of them is from my hometown of East Orange, NJ. I don’t want to be pigeonholed into just one thing. But not to worry, the sequel to Harlem Boyz is coming. I just ask that everyone be patient and give me the time to cook up something even tastier the second time around. My competitive nature only exists in my own mind with myself. I compete against my last project in terms of doing my best to improve. I know the expectations will be high for the sequel so I want to make sure it’s as good as it can be before it drops. And after Harlem Boyz II, I am turning a stage play I wrote into a novel and I’ve got ideas for another book after that. So I’ll be busy writing and publishing for the next few years. My long term goal is simply to grow as a writer and keep bringing people the best books in urban chic fiction. That is the tagline for my company, Jerzee Boy Publications and I aim to create the best books out there.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Drink To Enjoy, Not Destroy


Demons can come in many versions of life, but drinking can sometimes be the visual accessory to the demon. That's the case when some people decide that they decide to use alcoholic beverages as an excuse to let their feelings come out like yesterday's movie theater. I know it's obvious to say that all of our inappropriate actions can be blamed on the alcohol, but you should have thought of that before you grabbed that first glass in the first place.

Many of us likes to drink and dine with our fellow colleagues. Whether it's celebrating another week of work or just looking for an excuse after having a long stressful day. Through some people's eyes, drinking is the best friend, not the devil. But of course, we have to treat them like pop-up friends. Just like there are some friends that are meant to be distant because you're afraid of possibly killing each other due to arguing a lot, that's how we treat drinking.

The rare occasion to come out of the cabinet.

But there are some people that are abusing the liquor, and taking away all of the fun out of it. It's true the alcohol that brings the truth out of a person, but what if it was on purpose? What if the person really wanted to let the truth come out? Do they like to make scenes? Was it a true motive, knowing that 50% of the blame would be on the alcohol?

For many of us that drink to enjoy, we would prefer not to hang out with those that are meant to destroy. If you want to have a melodramatic episode, take it outside. There are gentlemen in the club who are actually trying to have some fun at the table.

Monday, February 10, 2014

True Fashionista Now Article - The Yuna Yang Fall/Winter14 Collection



Never in my life did I picture myself attending New York Fashion Week. I know that's kind of crazy to say. I live in New York City. It was bound to happen at some point. But it's true. When it comes to life, there are just some things in life that you just never pictured yourself in.

I never pictured myself sitting down in the front row, watching fashion models walk down the runaway. Or even seeing designers chat with each other, talking about the line. I only knew a snippet of New York Fashion Week just by watching Sex & the City, The Devil Wears Prada, and The September Issue

So the fact that True Fashionista Now gave me the opportunity to attend these amazing number of iconic events was breathtaking. This is the first show I covered. It was the first of many that I attended. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Get Yourself A Party Wallet!


I have learned quite a few things when it comes to being a regular on the social scene. I have RSVP to five events in this month alone. Each event is happening back to back. Then there is of course the unexpected events that pop in your inbox and you can't help but to add it to your calendar.

One of the things I've learned about being a part of the social scene is that it sucks when you are the broke person in the club. We all have a story like that. It sucks when you are the only person sitting in a chair at a nightclub without a drink in your hands. While everyone else is toasting to champagne, whiskey, or vodka, you are the only one left out in the mix because you don't have any money. That's embarrassing.

I, too, have similar experiences when it comes to those kinds of situations. That's why I have came up with a solution for all of us. If you know that you are going to be going to nightclubs, events, and fundraisers on a regular basis, then it's time to get yourself something that I like to call “A Party Wallet.”

“A Party Wallet” is a special wallet for anyone on the go when it comes to parties and events. This wallet is only used for occasions like that. Don't use it until the day the party begins. If a party isn't happening, that wallet better be placed on top of the dresser.

Here's how it works. When you get your next paycheck, deposit all of the money. Then take out any amount from $20-$100. I don't know what goes on in each person's wallet. That's why I'm giving you the estimate. You put in money in your party wallet, and leave it on top of the dresser.

In the meantime, your own personal wallet goes through the ups and downs of finances: bills, taxes, groceries, barbershops, salons, dinner at restaurants, giving out loans for friends, etc. You really don't know how much you got left in your wallet unless you planned this out by writing a budget down on a yellow legal pad.

Once the night has arrived and you are ready to go out to a special event, the cash in your party wallet has remained untouched. The money is ready to be spent and you have no worries whatsoever. Everything is covered on your end. You go inside and there's no worries when it comes to not being able to buy a drink or order special food from the menu. Because you have saved more than enough money for special occasions like this.

That's the beauty of a party wallet. It's a excellent resource and it will never give you financial and emotional stress. Get yourself one. It will make things a whole lot better for you.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Book Review - "Harlem Boyz" by Armani Williams



I've spoken to Armani Williams many months in advance when he began telling me about his second book. He told me about how it was a complete difference from his first novel Scandalicious. He told me how he was putting his heart into this second book. Now I had the opportunity to read the new book called Harlem Boyz.

Harlem Boyz is a urban novel set in New York City, most specifically Harlem. It's tells the story of four friends named Shawn, Damon, Kevin, and Malcolm as they journey on their quest for love in the city. They are attractive, intelligent, and established men who share all their secrets with each other.  Throughout the course of the book, they each go through own struggle, be it the pains of infidelity, physical abuse at the hands of a lover, or burning for another woman's husband with a passion and intensity that refuses to be doused.

The book incorporates themes such as friendships, relationships, sex, abuse, self-esteem, insecurities, fear of change, etc. 

I will admit. I was very skeptic, for I am personally not a fan of urban literature. I haven't read this genre in nearly five years.

I don't know how, but Armani Williams had me spellbound to the book during the three weeks I was reading it. I read most of the book on the train while on my way to college classes. Every time I walked in and sat in my chair, I took the book out of my bag, hoping to read the next chapter before my stop came.

There was one character in particular that caught most of my attention. Mostly because the character reminded me so much of myself. I almost assumed that Armani was secretly writing about me due to our interactions with each other, but decided to make the character older.

Once I finished it, I told myself "Why doesn't our community know about this book yet. This is the book of the year for all of us." 

Harlem Boyz truly incorporate 21st century themes on love and friendships. I often thought this book was the gay best friend to Terry McMillan's novel Waiting To Exhale For a Jersey man, Armani was also able to successfully tell a Harlem story. I was also intrigued by the real life figures and events that were incorporated such as the pride events and publications like DBQ magazine.

In the end, Harlem Boyz is a must read for everyone when it comes to gay literature. With a successful support system in readership and a huge media press coverage over this novel, Harlem Boyz could well on it's way be the book of 2014 for the LGBT community.