A Tonic for the Times: An Interracial Comedy

th-1.jpeg

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION FROM THE HUFFINGTON POST

by Lisa Shanahan

The funniest woman I’ve ever known is my college roommate, Beth Wareham. In her new book with co-author, Jason Davis (a Blood, O.G.), a Westchester County housewife and a Harlem gangbanger get it on in hilarious circumstances. It’s a beautiful thing, y’all.

My College Roommate’s New Novel   (Lisa Hagan Books)

Another beautiful thing? The real-life story of Beth and me.

I was one angry young woman by the time I met Beth my senior year at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, where I’d arrived freshman year a sheltered, naïve, seventeen-year old from an all-girls high school with a progressive bent.

Y’all see, society on the Vanderbilt campus in the late seventies didn’t work the way my Sunday School teachers at East Ridge Baptist Christ in East Ridge, Tennessee, told me all my life that they did, as in the song that goes “Jesus Loves the Little Children. All the children of the world. Red and yellow. Black and white. They are precious in his sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.”

Jesus may love them, but in college I learned that people do not love all the little children. A codified social system based on the Greek letters of the alphabet stacked everybody up in fraternities and sororities against one another according to gender, race, and creed. And that’s for starters. There were other markers for dress, wealth, and social standing. The Greek system that dominated social life at Vandy, which was accepted as the way things were, awakened this little believer, who had almost zero prior knowledge of sororities and fraternities, to the injustices in the world.

By senior year, heartbroken and pissed off at the world, I was living in a single in the stoner dorm, the result of two life-altering decisions I’d made junior year.
Number one, I’d deactivated from my “exclusive” sorority following a year of acting out after an officer told me my friend, who was rushing sophomore year, couldn’t join our sorority because she was Jewish and wouldn’t represent our Christian ideals. Angry, aghast, shocked that this officer had gotten an entirely different message than I had out of Sunday School, I never participated in the sorority at the level they required again. After a year of cutting meetings, of not caring, they asked me to leave. I’m still ashamed of myself for not quitting that day I found out what all my former sorority represented, for childishly acting out instead of protesting and demanding answers.

Number two, my pivotal junior year, I switched majors from Molecular Biology, from being a pre-med, to English. But that’s a longform story for another day.

Thus, long story short, I wound up alone, in a single, in the stoner dorm senior year — gladly rid of my sorority status, but bittersweet about leaving my group of pre-med grinds.

That fall John Lennon was shot. I was eating next to nothing after a nasty break-up with my longtime, on-again/off-again boyfriend over my summer romance in London with an Irish boy. I was listening to the Steve Winwood album “Arc of a Diver” over and over. I visited my high school boyfriend in Chapel Hill in a lame, failed attempt to recapture my past. I wrote an emo-style paper for an independent study on e. e. cummings that my professor called “oddly elliptical.” A cute frat boy, one with a mind and a heart, in my Medieval Literature class came to visit me in my single, but only wanted help with his homework.

Right before Christmas, a friend and former roommate — bless her — invited me to live in her suite with five other girls the next semester. I’d be in a double with a girl I’d never met. “Yes, please,” I’d said, afraid that I was living in an unhealthy way, knowing I had to stop reuminating on my lost pre-med status, my nasty break-up, my lost Irish boy, the stigma of having de-activated from my sorority and take on the real world that did not love all the little children. I was a privileged person — a young, educated white woman from a supportive family that’d risen in the world by starting a business. Moaning and moping anymore about my “aloneness,” I felt, would’ve been ridiculous.

Enter my new roommate. Beth Wareham. A six-foot-tall Texan outfitted with a gorgeous tan, a mane of blond hair, and a sharp-shooting wit that mowed down frat boys within a hundred yards.

That last semester at Vanderbilt, I still felt the sting of being a persona non grata in my former circles since I’d lost my labels, since I didn’t dress to conform in preppy pink and green, since the whole scene pissed me off, but I have to hand it to Wareham. That girl was my tonic — this little nonconformist’s bodyguard, the first badass I ever knew. With her, screw ‘em, I was back to walking the brick byways of Vandy with impunity. Y’all see, Beth was her own woman, had never pledged a sorority, was solely the product of her convictions; and I was proud to be her new roommate and friend.

We could’ve fit in if we’d wanted to, but we didn’t want to. We didn’t want to conform when so many others didn’t even have the choice.
After graduating, I moved to Boston to work in publishing, an idea that’d germinated during my hiatus in the stoner dorm. Beth joined me for a year, but then moved on, on her own journey, ending up in Manhattan in publishing, where she lives today with her husband, a former music critic for The New York Times.

For the past decade Beth and her co-writer Jason Smith — a Blood, O.G., as in the gang in Harlem and the Bronx, now a writer and father who mentors at-risk youth — have been friends. Beth says she and Jason cause a bit of a stir out together in New York. Feeling the camaraderie, the empowerment I’d felt with her, I imagine them striding the concrete canyons of Manhattan — friends, blood brothers — slaying the haters.

In Beth and Jason’s stylishly hilarious new book, Hair Club Burning: An Interracial Comedy, Marianne — a real housewife of Westchester County — takes down her low-down, no-account, bastard-of-a-husband with the help of Jay — a Harlem gangbanger — who perhaps needs Marianne as much as she needs him. A match made in heaven, Marianne and Jay burn the house down. Y’all will be amused, delighted, shocked, enthralled in the company of these funny-as-hell badasses, who discover love is, indeed, color-blind.

Come for the wisecracks and the sex scenes. Stay for the message.

“Jesus loves the little children. All the children of the world. Red and yellow. Black and white. They are precious in his sight.”

Amen.

Hair Club Burning is available on Amazon.

Follow Lisa Shanahan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/LisaMShanahan

Follow Beth Wareham on Twitter @GiantSweettart or @Shadowteams

Chat on Facebook at Hair Club Burning and Shadowteamsnyc

BLOODS TO INK

www.shadowteams.com 

/beth warehamth-2.jpeg

While working at a medium-sized publisher, I published a book called The War of the Bloods in My Veins by Dashaun Morris and Jason Davis.  My bosses were not pleased at my authors’ blackness that I was bringing into their temple of arts and letters.  (See Publishers Weekly hard-hitting expose – and yes, my words are ironic – entitled something like “Why is Publishing So White?” Well, It’s white because the white people in charge like it that way.)

My bosses were also not pleased because these were young black gang members and THEY would do the writing. No Yalie would be looking and studying them from afar; the voices would be raw, rising from the street. The point of view would be real, the authors had walked the walk through the violence and horror. They had generated a fair amount themselves.

This, I felt, was the way for the book to have real meaning for others. To create understanding. Even perhaps a little empathy. Anything else, at least to me, was more academic masturbation. It’s easy to feel less fear about a group of people if you categorize them like, say, insects or bacteria strains.

I didn’t understand then that we would all become friends; I would see both young men end of their gang-banging careers. They are now both deeply engaged in raising children, working, and creating. They write a lot about what happened, what they did, what they can’t undo.

We can call many things a “gang.” Banks and corporations are now thought of as “gangs” by many Americans (I like cabal or cartel better). Wars are simply one large gang against the other. Every continent with people has them. Asia and North Africa just gave the world’s gang culture a doozy in ISIS.

Before you read my interview later in the week with my co-author Jason Davis,  you may want to check out the book and/or the newest book trailer.

It’s time we see what this gang thing is really all about. And change it, just like Jay.

Follow us on twitter @shadowteams and @giantsweettart

Post on Facebook at Hair Club Burning   Shadowteamsnyc   or  Beth Wareham

 

 

 

 

 

Are hair clubs for narcissists?

Guest Reviewer: Rachel Thompson

Rachel Thompson is the author of Broken Places (one of IndieReader’s “Best of 2015” top books and 2015 Honorable Mention Winner in the San Francisco Book Festival and Los Angeles Book Festival), and the multi award-winning and bestselling Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed.

Rachel is published and represented by Booktrope, where she also directs the Gravity Imprint, bringing fiction and nonfiction stories of trauma and recovery to life. She has connected to sexual abuse survivors worldwide through her books.

———————————————————————–

TO ORDER A COPY OF HAIR CLUB BURNING, CLICK ANY WHERE HERE

IMG_0012-2.JPG

Extremely well-written, Hair Club Burning is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.

Wry, witty observations of society, be it racial stereotyping, marital discord, the tragic/comedic elements of long-term and newfound love, I found myself completely immersed in these fully-fleshed out characters, rooting for main protagonists Mary Ann and Jay, as well as the secondary (and hilariously whip-smart and lively) cast, all who came to life so well, I’ve already cast most of them in my mind for movie that’s sure to follow.

There are so many layers to this book: not only the obvious black and white, but the diametrically opposite stories of the lives people lead. What’s beautiful is how these lives can mesh, creating a harmony most people judge out of ignorance and fear. Mary Ann and Jay represent what’s possible, via the skilled hands of Wareham and Davis.

Terrific. I highly recommend this book!

Follow us on twitter @shadowteams and @giantsweettart

Stop by on Facebook at Hair Club Burning

Watch the authors pitch a big shot Hollywood-type. 

Sex, Drugs, Money and, oh yeah, Fairness

IMG_1662.JPG

It’s publication day and my cat Carmello was the first to get his copy. He ordered it from here. It’s even less expensive than the price on the bar code, and Carm knows a good deal when he smells one.

Don’t believe Carm, though. Here’s what some humans said:

“This book is a great read. It’s fun, full of delicious bites of satisfying revenge and educational if you’re not from Harlem or South Central. I laughed, I gasped, and I rooted for the protagonists. It’s a wild romp and a half and I’m still a bit grouchy that it ended. I could have easily read another few hundred pages. Of course this does leave room for a sequel. Fingers crossed.”

*****

“Hair Club Burning tricks us into thinking it’s a rollicking ride with quick-witted language and a back-handed attitude of cool. Painfully clear descriptive texts can feel a little too much like being there, making us complicit voyeurs and compatriots in outrage and desire. This tale disguises itself as a story about race and class, while making us notice uncomfortable truths about cultural conditioning, gender relations and materialism. We’re offered no clear heroes and a lot of bad behavior all around. I loved it. I hated it. I couldn’t put it down.”

*****

“You better believe it: the New Adult and contemporary romance genres have collided to birth a delightfully banging, foul-mouthed tome of fun. I read HAIR CLUB BURNING in one fell swoop, and I love how much damn fun it is. Two wonderfully vivid voices (Beth Wareham and Jason Davis) have created a story about how “privilege” and “street” coincide and meld. The result is a wildly insightful comedy of manners, social structure and payback. The strings of profanity exclaimed throughout the book’s clever, colorful plot create loads of giddy guffaws. What you’ll really love is the unlikely partnership of Mary Ann and Jay, two people from utterly different worlds. Their friendship, and their ensuing romance, is way better than May/December. It’s full-on Westchester/Harlem. And it’s kick-ass awesome!”

HAIR CLUB BURNING: On sale at Amazon and really cheap cheap cheap. Click on the title and let the wild romp begin!

Follow us on twitter @shadowteams and @giantsweettart

Visit on Facebook at Hair Club Burning or Beth Wareham

If you blog about books, email at beth@shadowteams.com for your review copy. 

“Privilege and Street Coincide and Meld”

 

IMG_1628.JPG

www.shadowteams.com

To buy the book. We don’t sell M&Ms, sadly.

Guest Reviewer: Kevin R. Myers

“You better believe it: the New Adult and contemporary romance genres have collided to birth a delightfully banging, foul-mouthed tome of fun. I read HAIR CLUB BURNING in one fell swoop, and I love how much damn fun it is. Two wonderfully vivid voices (Beth Wareham and Jason Davis) have created a story about how “privilege” and “street” coincide and meld. The result is a wildly insightful comedy of manners, social structure and payback. The strings of profanity exclaimed throughout the book’s clever, colorful plot create loads of giddy guffaws. What you’ll really love is the unlikely partnership of Mary Ann and Jay, two people from utterly different worlds. Their friendship, and their ensuing romance, is way better than May/December. It’s full-on Westchester/Harlem. And it’s kick-ass awesome!”

Follow us on twitter @shadowteams @giantsweettart or @skinnysmoothies

Write your review on Facebook at Hair Club Burning or Shadowteams

HAIR CLUB BURNING: “FIERCE AND STRANGELY TENDER”

7.jpgGuest blogger: JO MILLER

www.shadowteams.com

‘Hair Club Burning ‘is a brilliant, mesmerizing, wry and witty piece of art with a strong narrative, rich prose, detailed imagery and clever phrasing.

Beth Wareham  and Jason Davis are keen, astute observers – offering illuminating insights into our human nature. The flow and rhythm add magic to the reading of this tale.

The dialogue is soul satisfying, drawing one in with the touch of an unseen snake charmer ~ stirring, evocative – sometimes fierce, sometimes strangely tender.  The inner conversations held in the minds of the characters are particularly delightful and
the twists, the turns, the contrasts that pull at your heartstrings, the patches of light, of dark ~all transport you to extraordinary wonder.

The characters are authentically developed ~ irresistible as you respond to their shine, their vulnerable voices, their individual joys, contrasts, & their own catalysts are hauntingly beautiful.

This story has the power to rattle your mind, disturb your heart and scatter your very being.

I was ripped open by the pondering of one ‘gangsta’, how one is placed in circumstances,taught learned truths and accepts their fate.

I could identify with a middle-aged white woman’s situation, understanding the circumstances that led to her settling.

The contrasts between them — my level of understanding gave me a glimpse of my reality — and I had thought that I truly understood, at least was empathetic… nope, not so much.

I am left with a very strong desire to see beyond, to become more aware of my awakened conscious, to honour this rising emotion, the feelings spreading into my very core.

This novel has the sweet energy of hope and redemption – showing that time after time, simple acts of kindness and truly showing care can bring out our best.

And did I mention how much fun, lovely laughter, moments of grace and perspective this book gives to the reader?

An Excellent Experience!

———————————————————————-

To order Hair Club Burning, click on the title.

Watch the big shot Hollywood producer pitch for the book.

Follow on twitter @Shadowteams  @Giantsweettart

Chat on Facebook at Hair Club Burning  Shadowteamsnyc  Beth Wareham

Pitching Your Book to Big Shots

www.shadowteams.com

/bethwareham

It took a village to get my co-author and I ready to pitch Hollywood. Finally, we learned to keep our hair out of our eyes, swear a lot (Hollywood people like that….which is great because so do I) and get your pitch under 3 minutes. After more than several tries, we had what we needed and it worked. AND, over 21,000 people have watched it on Facebook

If you want the book: Hair Club Burning

If you want an example in pitching, watch below and tell us how we do. (You of course have to read the book to see if we pitched the plot right.)

 

Follow us on twitter @Shadowteams  or @Giantsweettart

Chat on Facebook at Hair Club Burning,  Shadowteamsnyc, and Beth Wareham

“I LAUGHED. I GASPED.” OVER HAIR CLUB BURNING

 

HAIR CLUB BURNING  by Jason Davis and Beth Wareham

Review by Kac Young*

http://www.kacyoung.com

On sale date: March 15, 2016

Unknown-4 copy

You do not want this book to end, ever. It’s way too clever, entertaining, guffaw-inducing and scrumptiously poignant to not go on for at least another hundred pages. Just like the first bite of a cronut, you crave more.

The characters are expertly hatched with the skill of a psychological profiler and, to the delight of the reader, plausible. (I’m already casting the movie version in my head.) The writing is razor sharp, the humor ripe with hilarious references: the antagonist law firm is named Rosen, Guilder and Stern. The novel is peppered with durable phrases like, “horizontal fun in between vertical meetings,” or describing Starbucks as “a room full of white people moving through an overly moist environment.”

The principles of this novel not only come alive; they actually jump off the page onto your lap. The impeccable writing style makes it easy to believe every word even when a notorious gang banger shows up to a mani-pedi appointment in a suburban Westchester salon. There is always a logical human reason why culturally opposites find harmony.

This book is a great read. It’s fun, full of delicious bites of satisfying revenge and educational if you’re not from Harlem or South Central. I laughed, I gasped, and I rooted for the protagonists. It’s a wild romp and a half and I’m still a bit grouchy that it ended. I could have easily read another few hundred pages. Of course this does leave room for a sequel. Fingers crossed.

Kac Young was the Vice President of Television Production and Development at Universal Studios Hollywood and ran her company for 25 years, serving such clients as JC Penny and Procter & Gamble. She got her start in Hollywood working for Dick Clark and subsequently worked for Cher, Neil Diamond and host of other celebrities. After a career of high stress jobs, she had a heart attack in 2006 at age 57. She completely changed her life, becoming a PhD in Natural Health and a Doctor in both Clinical Hypnotherapy and Naturopathy. To know Kac is to love her.

Follow us on twitter @shadowteams  and @giantsweettart

Watch our  Hollywood pitch video on Facebook at Hair Club Burning or on

our YouTube Channel  https://youtu.be/2o4e6H6rGI4

 

WE WENT VIRAL. IT WAS WEIRD.

ON SALE MARCH 15 the HAIR CLUB BURNING pitch got over 120,000 views on Facebook. Maybe more. Weird. Exciting. Alarming. And it’s all about the racial harmony and  integration. The integration that matters: FRIENDSHIP.

We made this short pitch tape for a famous Hollywood director so he could critique us. He told me to keep my hair out of my eyes.

www.shadowteams.com

Follow us on twitter @shadowteams @giantsweettart

Or Facebook at Hair Club Burning or Shadowteamsnyc or Beth Wareham