Bernice L. McFadden's Blog, page 9

August 21, 2013

August 13, 2013

I've been thinking a lot about the relationships in my life. About relationships in general. Mostly though, about the ones I've lost over the years.

A few days ago, I stumbled across this quote that really hit home for me:

“The friend in my adversity I shall always cherish most. I can better trust those who helped to relieve the gloom of my dark hours than those who are so ready to enjoy with me the sunshine of my prosperity.” – Ulysses S. Grant

There was this woman who I considered not just a friend, but a sister-friend. 
We spent a lot of time together and of course shared a lot of secrets and dreams. When my dreams came to fruition, the friendship slowly dissolved. Overtime, my phone calls and emails went unanswered. We had not had a disagreement of any kind and so her refusal to correspond with me left me completely baffled.
I was shared this with another friend of mine, and that friend suggested that the former friend was jealous of my accomplishments.
The idea seemed ridiculous to me. We were friends, we loved each other like sisters, how in the world could jealousy exist between two people who love each other?
If life made it so that she was in my position, I would have been jumping up and down with joy for her! Not removing myself from her life because of envy!
But the more I thought about it, the more it seemed to make sense. And the realization made me very, very sad.
Another woman, someone I had known since 1985, stopped taking my phone calls after she attended a party at my home. This was someone I didn't see often and we only spoke on the phone a few times a year, but when we did see each other or spoke on the phone, we conversed for hours! It was as if no time at all had passed between us. I'd know this woman since 1985!
But after she came to my home...that was that! 
I reached out to her a few months after the party and her tone was as cold and as frigid as a winter.
The flip side of course are those people that Ulysses S. Grant references in his quote. 
When my life flipped over on its side and started flapping around like a fish out of water, a few of those people who had been perfectly content to be by my side when things were GREAT - scattered.
I think those are the "friends" that hurt me the most.
But as my cousin says: "A bad don't happen

" Which means, everything happens for a reason - and what we may perceive as a tragedy, is most often a blessing in disguise.
I'm happy that those people removed themselves from my life. They actually saved me the trouble of doing it myself down line.
And I'm proud to say that the head count was low...I can't count them on one hand, so that is a blessing.
I'm very fortunate to have wonderful, loving, trusting people in my life. Some people don't have one person they can put their confidence in and I am blessed to have dozens.
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Published on August 13, 2013 18:51 • 145 views

August 12, 2013

My childhood life was not always a bed or roses and so I took up escapism at a very early age. My favorite things to do was read and daydream.

I'd dream that I was a princess or that this man and woman who I called mommy and daddy had actually kidnapped me from MY REAL PARENTS - who did not hit and yell at their children..or each other.

Later, I daydreamed about becoming a writer and traveling the world.

As a grown woman with an child, I looked forward to bedtime. I would turn of the lights and the television, climb into bed, close my eyes and script a movie, starring me, in my head.

In that movie, I was a bestselling author, the owner of a beautiful old home and fabulous, fast car! My books were selling in the millions and all had been adapted to the silver screen. In my movie starring me, I met all of my writerly influences and in my movie starring me - all of my dreams had come true!

I believe I can safely say that I played that movie nightly from 1990 right up to 1999 when I secured my first book contract.

The house followed and so did the fast car..I'd been traveling extensively all through the 90's. I've met all except one of my influences and while I haven't sold millions of books, I've sold books have not yet been adapted to the silver screen...but I suspect I will see that happen in my lifetime.

But something strange occurred after I bought my house and my car and secured a second book deal. I became a bit complacent where dreaming was concerned. Maybe my Catholic school background had something to do with it.

You see I'd achieved the dreams and goals I had set for myself and Catholicism teaches us not to be greedy - not to ask for more than what you need, to be satisfied with what you have.

I think I felt guilty about desiring more, so I stopped dreaming - well at least I stopped scripting my dreams.

My scripted dreams were replaced with worries.

I worried about securing another book contract. I worried about losing my home and my car. I worried about not having a enough money to pay my bills or buy food. I worried about getting sick. I worried about dying.

Worry works exactly the way hopes and dreams work - they are all intentions.

Intentions are like seeds that we plant in the soil of the universe. Sooner or later those seeds germinate and then in no time at all, you have a seedling.

And before I knew it,  not unlike my dreams, most of my worries had come to fruition.

So I'm back to square one. And square one ain't so bad. I'm learning how to dream again. I'm scripting some great ones, so stay tuned...............#LifeAfter

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Published on August 12, 2013 10:55 • 106 views

August 5, 2013

When I had my home in Brooklyn (the place where I wrote the majority of my novels), I had to make sure the house was spotless (especially my office) before I plunged into my writing. I also took a few days to flip through my previously published novels. I would linger over passages and try to relive the moments in time when those words flowed through me.

I did much of the same when I was carrying my daughter. The closer I inched toward my delivery date, the more fanatical I became about the cleanliness of my space. Also, I can clearly remember removing the baby clothes from the dresser drawers to gaze at them and fold and re-fold them, before placing them back in the dresser drawers. It became a daily ritual.

It's all nesting...whether you're preparing to give birth to a child or a book...

This novel that I'm working on is going to be unique for two reasons:

1. It will be the first book that I have written on-the-go.
2. It will be the first book I've written with a male protagonist.

I don't know which of the aforementioned scares me the most.

Anyway, back to nesting...

We are more than halfway through the summer and like every summer before this one - I don't write. But every summer, like clockwork, I beat myself up for NOT WRITING...

This my friends is called: Process! (LOL)

So here we are in August and the days are getting shorter and the morning and night air is cooler and the leaves have begun to brown, curl and fall to the ground, which is always my cue that my time is growing near.

And like the squirrels, I have begun to prepare for a long winter. Or in my case, a winter filled with words...

I've made some changes and additions to my cozy little room here in Brooklyn. Where as before, this room was just a place to sleep - I'm now acclimating myself by spending more time in it - reading, praying, thinking...this so that when the time comes for me to lock myself away and become with my story - the distractions come with a new or unfamiliar space won't be so..well...distracting....

P.S. I was scrolling through old manuscripts and found the original prologue to my 2010 novel: Glorious -- I prefer the one that made it to the printer over this one. But I'd love to hear your thoughts!

In her dreams she was an old book. Brown leather binding handled so often her hide became as soft and as pliable as expensive silk fabric. Cracked spine, withered pages with gilded edges, black print; faded gray from time reveal a tale as tall and as old as the magnolia trees she loved so.She is an old book, and over the decades she has been shelved, wrapped in plain brown paper and then again in colorful Christmas foil. Boxed and gifted, boxed and forgotten, and then remembered, searched for, found and set out beneath a hot summer sun with a sticker stuck to her face announcing: Used. 50 cents.Bought and sold a hundred times over. Tossed aside, left behind, used to balance a kitchen table and then to whack a bothersome fly. She is an old book; dog-eared pages, underlined phrases that moved someone. Footnotes; in blue, black and red ink are scrawled in her margins. Some pages hold carefully crafted bleeding hearts pierced with cupids bow, while some bear angry explanation points and others, multiple question marks behind sentences ensconced in parenthesis. She is an old book.

Bernice L. McFadden
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Published on August 05, 2013 16:45 • 106 views

July 14, 2013

Dear George Zimmerman,

You do not know me, but I live in Brooklyn, NY. I am the mother of one daughter, aunt to one niece and three nephews.

I’ve spent the last sixteen months thinking about Trayvon Martin and you. Wondering of course, how this tragedy would eventually play out and last night a jury of six women confirmed my fears.

George Zimmerman the news is reporting that you have been set free. But that report is grossly incorrect, because your freedom has been snatched away. Your anonymity in this world has come to an end.

I’m sure you have read and heard the comparisons between Emmett Till and Trayvon Martin. I’m curious if you’ve even taken the time too find out who Emmett Till was. If not, let me brief you.

Emmett Till just fifteen years old when he was murdered by J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant in Money, Mississippi in 1955. Emmett Till’s only crime was the badge he wore, and that badge was the color of his skin.

Milam and Bryant murdered Emmett Till because he allegedly whistled at a white woman. Can you imagine taking a life for something so harmless?

Oh, yes I guess that would not be so far fetched for you, because you murdered Trayvon Martin for wearing a hoodie and walking in the rain while carrying a bag of skittles and a soft drink.

Not too long after Milam and Bryant were acquitted for the murder of Emmett Till, they admitted to murdering him. Of course, they could not be trialed again, due to Double Jeopardy.

Their lives going forward were unhappy. They, not unlike you, lost their anonymity in this country. They fled Mississippi for Texas, believing that they could live a nice quiet life there. But that was not the case. They were harassed and taunted in the streets. Their own kind called them “Child Killers.”

I remind you that the year was 1955, a time when social media wasn’t even a thought.

Both men would eventually die of cancer. Well, guilt will do that to a body.

But I digress.

George Zimmerman, the news reports say that you have been found not guilty and that you are a free man. But none of that is true. You are guilty, you know it, God knows it and most people, who have followed this case, know it was well.
And you are far from free.

This is 2013, and thanks to social media, CNN and other news outlets, your face and this case has reached all four corners of this globe. The whole world is your prison.

It’s ironic really, similar to Trayvon Martin and other black men in this country; you are now unable to freely walk the streets of your neighborhood or any other neighborhood for that fact. You are a marked man.

Any where in the world that you go, there will be someone there, black, white or otherwise, who will recognize you. There will be someone there who sympathized with Trayvon Martin’s parents. There will be someone there who will want to do to you what you did to Trayvon Martin.

What a life to have to live!

A life of looking over your shoulder, of being afraid to open your own mail, not being able to enjoy a meal at your favorite restaurant because, well, cyanide has no taste.

I wish I could say that I pity you George Zimmerman, but I do not.

I do not pity you because you took a child from his parents, and a brother from a brother. I do not pity you George Zimmerman, because you succumbed to the belief that a black life is worth less than a white one.

I wonder, in the seconds after you pulled your concealed gun and squeezed the trigger, sending a bullet straight through Trayvon Martin’s heart – I wonder if in those last moments when the light leaked out of Trayvon’s body, if Trayvon looked you square in the eye and whispered, “Why?”

And did you have an answer for him George?

Did Trayvon at last look human to you? Did you then realize that Trayvon was someone’s child?  Were you sorry, even for a second?

These are just my musings, and of course do not require a response from you.

For sixteen months I have prayed for Trayvon Martin and his family. Today, I pray for you George Zimmerman:

I pray that with every beat of your heart, you hear Trayvon Martin’s screams for help ringing in your ears. I pray that every time you close your eyes, you see Trayvon Martin’s face swirling in the darkness.


Intention is a powerful thing George Zimmerman, and so is karma.

May God Have Mercy On Your Soul…

Bernice L. McFadden

Bernice L. McFadden
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Published on July 14, 2013 06:33 • 453 views

May 16, 2013


I want to thank all of you for allowing me the time and space to create. Thank you for opening up your homes and hearts to me.

Serenbe is an exceptional place because you all are exceptional people.

I leave here lighter, happier and more spiritually centered than I've been in quite sometime. Thank you for that.

I hope my travels bring me back this way for a cupcake, a stroll through the woods or dinner with friends.



Bernice L. McFadden
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Published on May 16, 2013 14:45 • 196 views

May 2, 2013

Yesterday, I found the labyrinth.

A labyrinth is an ancient symbol that relates to wholeness. It combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful path. The Labyrinth represents a journey to our own center and back again out into the world. Labyrinths have long been used as meditation and prayer tools.A labyrinth is an archetype with which we can have a direct experience. We can walk it. It is a metaphor for life's journey. It is a symbol that creates a sacred space and place and takes us out of our ego to "That Which Is Within."
It had not been a particularly good day for me. We have those days. Those days when life seems a little overwhelming. 
All day the sun fought to be seen between the cloud cover and I spent most of the morning lamenting about the quickly approaching end of my time here. Yesterday, I had sixteen days left. Today, just fifteen days to go.
I decided to get out and take a walk through the wild flower field and continued on into the woods. 

Something beckoned me to turn left, and I did and that's when I found the labyrinth.

My photo doesn't do it justice. From this vantage point it just looks like a bunch of scattered rocks. The aerial view is much more beautiful:

I walked the labyrinth, twice. The prayed and wept through the first journey and when I reached the center I sat down and thought about the CENTER of my life.

I had mixed emotions about where I was and where I thought I should be.
The second journey around the labyrinth was just as emotional, but sadness and despair had been replaced with joy and gratitude.
I returned to the house at around 2:30PM. Read some, wrote some, made a salad for dinner, watched a movie on Netflix and around 7PM, I could no longer keep my eyes open, so I went to bed and slept straight through till 6AM.
Journeying (physical and spiritual) takes a toll on the body.
I've got a number of decisions I need to make. One of which is if I will continue to make New York my home. I've got to tell you... I don't miss the concrete, the noise or the dirt. I do miss the people that I love and care about, but not much else.
As always, I'm working at trying to decipher the voices of my ancestors and guides - trying hard to hear them, way above the cacophony of my own voice, because they've never led me wrong.

One thing that keeps coming up is: Reiki -- now all I need to figure out is: Is this something I should pursue or just take advantage of???

Well, I guess I have to just wait and see on that one.

In any case, I plan to spend a lot of time at the labyrinth.

Have you ever been to one? How did it make you feel?

Bernice L. McFadden
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Published on May 02, 2013 07:00 • 198 views

April 30, 2013

Oh yes, and the French gave it a new title...............................................................

Bernice L. McFadden
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Published on April 30, 2013 08:19 • 53 views
Oh yes, and the French gave it a new title...............................................................

Bernice L. McFadden
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Published on April 30, 2013 08:19 • 95 views

April 26, 2013

For the past four years, my head has been in a place far different from where it was when I first set out on this journey. I was quietly seduced and suddenly found myself caught up in the merry-go-round known as: Competitions.

Awards, prizes, and such...

They became very important to me and I, like so many of you, applied and applied and applied, trying hard to work some kind of magic into those submission and application letters. Spending weeks writing and re-writing statement of plans and/or the narrative autobiography - all of that work just to receive a rejection letter.

For a long time I was very idealistic about the whole process. I thought that all one had to do was write his/her best work and that would be enough. But it's not always the case. There's cronyism and favoritism and a lot of other "isms" that I won't get into.

But my head is clear now and I've come to realize that those competitions have nothing to do with why I set out on this journey to become a published writer. Those competitions weren't even on my mind when I decided I wanted to be an author. In fact, the only one I was aware of (way back when) was the Pulitzer and that seemed so far out of reach that I pushed it to the back of my mind where it stayed until I was nominated.

That nomination opened up a dam, and I've been treading water ever since.

I don't think art should be competitive. I think it should

I believe that if you start pondering about who is going to read something you haven't even begun to write - removes the soul from the story.

Write the story you want to read and always know that no matter what you write, there's an audience for it - even though you may have been told otherwise.

I've got over a hundred rejection letters telling me that there was no audience for my stories.

I've said this many of times, here: I write for me. If you like it, that makes me happy. If you don't -- well that's okay too.

Being here in this place (Serenbe), in the country, in fresh air, in serenity - has helped to clear my mind. I've returned to nature physically and figuratively. Being here has moved me back to that place in my studio basement apartment in Brooklyn, when I wrote for the sheer pleasure of writing. When the only thing that mattered in the stories I composed there, were the characters and the tales they shared with me.

They say you can't go back again - but you can - the mind is so magnificent that it grants us that opportunity.

So going forward, I vow to continue to write for me and try not to think about the money I'm not making or the awards I'm not winning and know that if I want to put the end of the story of my novel at the beginning and the beginning at the end, or use roman numerals instead of numbers to number the pages of  my book or give ALL my male characters female names and ALL my female characters male names -- I can do that - because it's mine and I write for me, not an establishment. I write for the joy it brings me and if as a reader, my work brings you joy - well that's a double blessing.

Bernice L. McFadden
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Published on April 26, 2013 08:30 • 120 views