Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Impossible Took A Long Time

It’s the Year 2009, and an African American man is about to become president of the United States of America. Maybe when I see Barrack Obama sitting behind that desk in the Oval Office, it will sink in. The Middle East is fire hot again; Economic conditions in the United States are the worst they’ve been in 80 years; we’re bogged down in two seemingly interminable wars; ordinary tax-paying citizens are underwriting the salaries and town houses of the filthy rich; and George Bush created this mess in only eight short years. If Obama doesn’t straighten it out within a few months, the press will crucify him; they have already begun, and he hasn’t even been sworn in.

An interviewer of a prestigious magazine phrased a question to me, beginning with this: “…the presidential election brought a sea of change of politics, business as usual and who knows what else in our culture.” I couldn’t let that one pass. I am proud of Mr. Obama and what he has accomplished, but I won’t allow anyone to tell me that there does not exist anywhere another African American capable of governing this country. I do submit, that Mr. Obama has many talents that, when combined, give him a uniqueness, and that he is the man for his time. But is he unique? I don’t know. We didn’t know there was such a man as he until he rose to the occasion, so there are probably others who can, and will, also seize a moment. I replied to the interviewer that Mr. Obama’s election did not bring about the change in political and social climate, but that it is a reflection of change that has taken place and that is continuing. He offers what the country needs, and the electorate recognized that fact.

But in spite of his considerable talents, Mr. Obama could have lost the election to his far less capable opponent if the electorate had feared intellectuals as it once did.. Adlai Stevenson (Also a distinguished Illinoisan intellectual and orator) lost to Eisenhower twice; Hubert Humphrey lost to Richard Nixon (a man who had already failed in several ways), And John F. Kennedy came within a few thousand votes of losing to Richard Nixon. Both Al Gore and John Kerr—superior by far in intellect and industry to George Bush—nonetheless lost a presidential election to him. Americans frequently cast aside the better candidate. NOT THIS TIME. President-elect Obama said that he stands on the shoulders of many African Americans who fought for change (a paraphrase), but in my view, for our children and our children’s children, no “shoulders” have been as broad, as strong or as powerful as those of Barrack Obama.

Friday, September 19, 2008

This Election Campaign Is Confusing

Note; This came to me from a good friend who volunteers in the Obama campaign.
I'm a little confused.
Let me see if I have this straight.....
If you grow up in Hawaii , raised by your grandparents, you're 'exotic, different.' Grow up in Alaska eating mooseburgers: a quintessential American story.
If your name is Barack you're a radical, unpatriotic Muslim. Name your kids Willow , Trig, and Track: you're a maverick.
Graduate from Harvard law School and you are unstable. Attend 5 different small colleges before graduating: you're well grounded.
If you spend 3 years as a brilliant community organizer, become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, spend 8 years as a State Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people, become chairman of the state Senate's Health and Human Services committee, spend 4 years in the United States Senate representing a state of 13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran's Affairs committees, you don't have any real leadership experience. If your total resume is: local weather girl (sports caster), 4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with fewer than 7,000 people, 20 months as the governor of a state with 650,000 people, then you're qualified to become the country's second highest ranking executive.
If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years while raising 2 beautiful daughters, all within Protestant churches, you're not a real Christian. If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and left your disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month, you're a Christian.
If you teach responsible, age appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society. If, while governor, you staunchly advocate abstinence only, with no other option in sex education in your state's school system while your unwed teen daughter ends up pregnant, you're very responsible.
If your wife is a Harvard graduate lawyer who gave up a position in a prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of her inner city community, then gave that up to raise a family, your family's values don't represent America 's. If your husband is nicknamed 'First Dude', with at least one DUI conviction and no college education, who didn't register to vote until age 25 and once was a member of a group that advocated the secession of Alaska from the USA , your family is extremely admirable.
OK, much clearer now.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Bringing About The Change

I want to show you some fantastic pictures. All I could think of as I looked at them was my sadness that my parents, my sister and my brother had not lived to see this awesome thing. No matter who you want for president, you have to admit that the United States has changed forever. And I'm proud of this change. Indeed, I thank God for this change. This man appeared at a time when we needed hope, belief in a brighter future for ourselves and for our children, and I am hoping and praying that he gets the chance to fulfill his promise. I'm also putting my money on him, and I've only done that once before--for a senator, never for a presidential candidate. Remember that wishing won't make it so. Do the right thing. Click here.


Sunday, August 24, 2008


Years ago, I became aware of the City of Hope created in Memphis, Tennessee by the late actor, Danny Thomas, to bring health to children. It was his dream that “no child should die in the dawn of life.” This noble undertaking developed into what became the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. St. Jude’s work first came to my attention through a Radio telethon. I made what I now consider a modest contribution, and have contributed haphazardly ever since, but if I had had first hand knowledge of the institution’s work, I would have been far more generous.
In a gesture of support for St. Jude, Harlequin Enterprises agreed to publish two novels that cast light on St. Jude’s activities. When the General Manager of Harlequin’s Kimani Press/Arabesque line asked if I would write one of the two books in a romance series (Novels Of Hope) that would reflect upon St. Jude’s work, I did not hesitate to accept. (Sandra Kitt is writing the other book.) St. Jude’s staff members feel that too few parents, particularly African-Americans, are aware of the care available to sick children without charge if there is no insurance. It was thought that, owing to the great popularity of romance novels, they would be a good venue through which to introduce to parents the loving and efficient care available at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Because of my own experience as mother of a desperately-ill child who--by God’s mercy and the care of specialists--recovered fully, I am totally empathetic with sick children and their parents, and I consider it an honor to be a Partner in Hope. The books are not about St. Jude. They are romance novels in which, by their actions, the characters inform the reader about this great institution and the care it gives.
On my first visit to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, I saw in its research department, dedicated doctors and scientists--including a Nobel Laureate,who strive to find cures and to develop effective treatments for childhood cancers, sickle cell disease and pediatric HIV/AIDS. But I must say that I was most deeply impressed by the loving attention that the staff gave to the children. These women and men could not have been more attentive, loving and caring with those children if they had been the children’s mothers and fathers. The areas where care is given is for the children: colorful and educational, and along the hallways, paintings and drawings of interest to children are at their eye level. Ceilings are bright star-filled skies. The sick children are not transported in wheel chairs but in wagons made like ducks, rabbits and so on. It seemed to me that the institution spares no effort to lighten the psychological effect of the illness upon the sick children and their parents. The environment discourages sadness, at least for me.
Imagine a place where a sick child can get the best help that is available without cost to its parents! That’s why I am a Partner in Hope, and I shall remain one long after this project ends.
Look for FOR ALL WE KNOW by Sandra Kitt, coming in September 2008 and for WHAT MATTERS MOST, by Gwynne Forster, to be released in October 2008.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

To my dear deceased mother on Mothers Day

To My Mother
(who taught me the meaning of love)

Gwynne Forster

I wonder what kind of woman I would be now if I had had a different mother. I thought about that this morning and thanked God for the one I had for most of my life. I say most of my life, because she was an inspiration even in her death.
I was born a middle child and, somehow, I expected less and got more. More, because even in my independent ways, I paid careful attention to what my mother did and said. Early on, I was impressed that what she did and what she said were totally congruous. She lived the life of a Christian and, from her, I received a legacy of faith, integrity and strong moral values. She believed in the work ethic, and taught us that a person who would not work would be capable of theft and dishonesty, that we should do to the best of our abilities whatever we agreed to do and for whatever we were paid. To her, theft meant more that snatching something and getting away with it; you stole if you accepted pay for something that you didn’t do or didn’t do well.
I’ve often said that I wish I was as nice a person as my mother. And that is true. Although a leader in her church and community, a teacher and school principal, this never seemed to impress her. She loved people and met some of her closest long-time friends at the bus stop and at the supermarket. Some of them hadn’t finished high school, but she said they didn’t have her opportunities and had done well with what they had.. In her late seventies, she took “the old folks” as she called them grocery shopping in her car every Wednesday morning. The neighborhood children loved her, and volunteered to run errands for her. Of course, she rewarded them with goodies that she loved to bake.
Her faith in people surpassed any that I’m likely to have. Well into her seventies, one evening in late autumn when darkness had already set in, Muz, as we called her, drove to the supermarket for something, parked in the parking lot and headed toward the entrance. A young man stopped her and said, “Lady give me those car keys.” She looked at the switch blade knife, then at him, threw her arms around him and said, “Son, don’t you have a mother?” The unfortunate young man, wrung himself out of her clutches and said, “Get away from me, Lady.” “But son,” she persisted, “What you’re doing isn’t right.” He ran. My siblings and I begged her never to do such a thing again, but she said. “He has a mother, and he obviously cares about her.”
If I have talent as a writer, I probably inherited it from my mother. She wrote the first fiction that I ever read. At age seven, I found a short story on her desk or some other place that now escapes me. The title, THE DREGS OF THE CUP, intrigued me, and I read it. I wasn’t sure how she’d react to my having done that, but she asked me what I thought of it, and when I said it was too short, she seemed very pleased. One day, I am going to write a novel suitable for that title.
Muz loved to laugh, and my fondest memories of her are of her laughing. I used to come up with all kinds of antics to make her laugh. It was a lovely, musical sound. I remember distinctly times when I told her one joke after another to keep her laughing. Mind you, the jokes were squeaky clean, or I cleaned them up before I told them. One Saturday when I was about seventeen or eighteen, I went with my church club on a picnic, pitched baseball for a few innings and, the following Monday, I was forced to go for therapy to improve my injured shoulder. In all truth, the very next Saturday, Muz went to the same place on a picnic with the choir to which she belonged, pitched nine innings of softball, won the game and never had one pain. Obviously, that made me the butt of family jokes.
I haven’t mentioned my father, because this is about my mother. But given the chance, I could say some wonderful things about him, including his exquisite singing voice, a little bit of which rubbed off on me.

Happy Mothers Day Every One.
Gwynne Forster

Sunday, January 13, 2008

In The Scheme of Things


(Politician or writer, your motto should be I Can)

“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a Heaven for?” These are the words of the poet, Robert Browning, and they served as the motto for my college graduating class. I recall them now, because I heard a sermon this morning about the folly of “I can’t” or “I would, if...” Or “I’d like to, but..” My personality says “I won’t” when that seems reasonable, but it hardly ever says flat out, “I can’t” Last week I answered a series of questions for a journalist, and one had to do with my favorite saying. Without thinking, I wrote, “I can do that.”
“I can do that!” I think that’s why the little black girl born in a small North Carolina hamlet grew up to teach at universities, to become a senior demographer at United Nations in New York and to travel the world on behalf of the United Nations Secretary-General and the Secretary-General of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (London). It is also the reason why I am today the author of over thirty published fiction titles (all released by commercial publishing houses), when I am really only a trained demographer with a mind immersed in the principle that facts rule and the application of fiction is to be despised.
I taught myself to write novels and short stories because I wanted to write them, and disciplined myself to think creatively and not scientifically (when I’m writing fiction, that is), because I wanted to succeed. I also learned to receive and accept criticism that I knew was purely subjective with no basis in fact, and that half a dozen other ideas from half a dozen other people would have served just as well. You could say that I learned not to fall in move with my words. Not even with such questionable tidbits as, for example, “Twilight succumbed to the darkness that swallowed up the world around her.”
It has not been a rose strewn path, but I’ve managed, and I managed because I tried. I am sure that Senator Clinton and Senator Obama had heard all their lives that no woman and no black man would be president of the United States of America. Apparently, that never impressed them. She became the first woman senator from the state of New York, and he is the second African American senator from the state of Illinois, the sixth in the history of this 230 year old country.. They believe in who they are and that what they have to offer is worth our votes. They believe they have what it takes to be an effective president of the United States, and they are going for it!
Years ago, Senator Margaret Chase Smith of Maine was asked what she would do if she found herself in the white house (paraphrased). She replied, “I would apologize to the First Lady and leave at once.” A woman of her time, she didn’t envision herself as president or, perhaps, as deserving of it. But not so, Senators Obama and Clinton, because they are passengers on “the little engine that could.”
I believe that aspiring writers should pay attention to their examples. After all, they are offering themselves to the public just as we writers offer our work to the public. They prepared themselves well before starting on their campaigns and, while they have advisers and aides, they do their own talking and debating. They open themselves and their views to scrutiny. Don’t we writers do the same?
When aspiring writers tell me that they have a lot of burning ideas, but don’t have time to write, I say that it’s a matter of determination, commitment and belief in oneself. Armed with those traits, and with the required talent, a writer--whether seven years old or seventy--will write. In the scheme of things, one must believe in oneself; for if you don’t think you can change a light bulb, you will not attempt it. And if you do not attempt it, you definitely will not change it.

Gwynne Forster
13 January 2008

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Power of Suggestion

Yesterday, my husband asked if I planned any additional travel this year. As an author, I travel regularly to perform different activities -book signing, lecturing, various promotions, and so on.
To his simple question, I replied, "There are only three weeks remaining in the year. Besides, I've been off practically every weekend since we returned from vacation." After reading that quote, you're saying duuuuuuuuuuh. He was gaping at me, too. I know. An explanation is required unless I want you to question my sanity. Well, here it is.
I'm a political junkey, and I have listened to the Republicans and Democrats who want to be president debate ad nauseam until I'm becoming like them. One seeker of this high office was asked whether it would be proper to have the secret service protect his mistress (as well as his wife, I presume), and he answered, suppose she's in danger, or something like that. For the 2004 election, one candidate was asked about his economic policy, and he replied, "I will fight for you." Minutes later, another reporter asked the same seeker of free meals in the White House about rescuing the social security system, and he gave his pat answer: "I will fight for you."
Now don't get me wrong; I'll be at the polls as soon as they open on election day. At least, that's what I've done in the past. But I keep asking myself why. One of the hopefuls is a little behind in the race to become party candidate, but when asked in a TV interview about his chances, he replied that the last two members of his party who became president talked like him. I laughed. If the answer served no other purpose, it definitely amused me.
Another seeker of a lifetime six-figure pension is clever and laughs in the friendliest way at every negative question that reporters put to him. Gets downright charismatic, too. Thank goodness, none of the other candidates seem so happy to have their integrity questioned and backed up with figures, like say, 30 million dollars. Whew! Asked if he was rich, one of those eager to entertain at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in D. C. replied. "I'm well off." You call sleeping every night in your own 10,000,000 dollar house merely well off? That dude is stinking rich.
No wonder I gave my husband that double talk. I'm going to improve, though, because he doesn't deserve that. Oh, I don't know. Maybe he does. He's watched every one of those debates from start to finish, and if he didn't turn them on, I wouldn't watch so often. I'd get my writing done.
By the way, please plan now to support the Warm hands, Warm heart project in which one of my publishers, Harlequin is collaborating with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital to create greater awareness among African Americans about the services available to children there. No child in need of the care that St. Jude provides is turned away for lack of money. Sandra Kitt and I are each writing a novel to promote this knowledge among African Americans. The books are regular novels, and they are not about St. Jude, but in appropriate places we call attention to the workd done there and the care that it gives to children. My book, WHAT MATTERS MOST, will be out in October 2008.

Have a Glorious Christmas and a Blessed New Year.