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Welcome to the Spotlight, featuring excerpts from The Sun Hasn't Set--sequel to my 2011 fiction debut, Nothing New Under the Sun. (Click here for excerpts from other books.) 
   She's back! Charlie Warner is making new moves. Catch up with her and some of the other cast members as they embark on new adventures in this exciting, sexy, funny, realistic story of young women trying to make a difference in the world by hosting a talk show geared toward women's issues.
   This story answers the questions we left you with two years ago--will Charlie end up with Mark or find love again elsewhere? What will the doctor say to Grace? Can Audrey and Abney make it work as a married couple? We will also meet some new ladies I know you will enjoy. Follow along as these ladies' lives intertwine and they embark on a huge journey.
It's nothing like you think, and everything you want to hear about. Here's a peek:
   But that would have to wait. Charlie had an idea: “Hey, we’re in L.A. I don’t care about no three-hour time difference. We are going outside to play. There’s gotta be something to do out here. Let’s go. Everybody, come on.” They all looked at each other, then everybody jumped up and went to find something to wear. “Audrey, wake it up! We are going clubbing!” They banged on her door until she answered. “What? What time is it? Y’all asses are drunk as hell. But I’m down. Let’s roll.”
   While everybody was getting dressed, Charlie got on the phone with Payton and told her to find them somewhere to go. “You mean to tell me YOU don’t know something about where to party in L.A.? Girl, call somebody and get me on their VIP list. I gotta have some kind of clout by now.” Payton instantly picked up on something: “Sister, are you drunk? For real?” Charlie laughed. “Yeah girl. Get me up in the club so I can get this monkey off my back.”
   Payton couldn’t stop laughing at first, but she came through. The ladies put on their smallest, most party-appropriate items, painted their faces, hopped in their limo, and rolled out. When they arrived, it was just about 10PM. Charlie checked in with the folks at the door, and they were escorted to the VIP section as she requested. More drinks were poured. More laughing ensued. Then they did what they came to do—get it in on the dance floor.
   Young Jeezy came through the speakers loud and clear: “RIP We just killed the club. Drank patron out the bottle almost killed a thug. RIP, RIP….” All hands were in the air, as they sweated to the music. Grace couldn’t remember the last time she was in a club, except to hear Alonzo sing. Not like this. Lisa kept yelling, “2 Chainz!” This here was good stuff.
   Mila had never partied with her mother before, but noticed she was really good at it. Keva acted a total fool. Audrey felt much better. Lisa was totally dusted. She almost couldn’t stand. Even Janelle looked like she was having a good time. And then, all eyes were on Charlie. And not just the ladies she came with. Somebody there actually recognized her, in her barely there little black number. They started snapping pictures of the ladies. Charlie was dancing with some dude to All Gold Everything, like they went way back. None of the girls could believe it, but they sure didn’t plan on talking about it to anybody else either.
   Those women got it in for sure. By the time they were ready to leave, Lisa was leaning on Keva so heavy, they almost ended up falling down the stairs. Janelle held their purses while Keva and Audrey helped her out. Charlie, Grace, and Mila held hands through the crowd so they didn’t lose anybody. They found their limo and went back to the hotel. “Oh my god that was so much fun!” Grace just ditched her whole reserved teacher routine. Patron had long loosened her up. She just kept giggling.
   Somehow, everybody got to bed okay. But when the next morning came, nobody but Mila could move. Everything just hurt. Feet, legs, heads, all kinds of stuff. She was used to partying, so she was doing fine. But boy, did she clown the rest of that bunch. When everybody finally gathered for breakfast, she went in: “Oh my goodness! Mother! You are out of control. You were grinding and throwing your hands up, and I had no idea. But you were not alone.
   Lisa, girl, you were so drunk, do you remember anything? Like yelling 2 Chainz every five seconds?” She did not recall that. But she thought it was really funny. “Audrey, you and Janelle danced with like every dude in there. And Keva, you had this one partner the whole time who kept hugging on you like you were his woman. I mean, he was so short, there was no way he should’ve been trying to get at you.” Everybody cracked up at that short man. Lisa did remember that: “Yes, for a second I thought he was gonna hump your leg girl!”
   Then Mila turned to Charlie. “Um, Charlie Warner, you are in trouble. Girl, when your husband sees those pictures somebody took of you freaking that dude with all the chains! I’m sorry for you is all I can say. Miss ‘I have an image to uphold.’ Girl! You got a new image.” She laughed so good. “Oh my goodness; that was so much fun y’all. I thought some of y’all were gonna sit around and act like you only came ’cause we made you. Oh no, no, no. You all thoroughly enjoyed yourselves.”
   Charlie had a good laugh about that whole episode. “Ladies, it was truly a pleasure. We have to do that when we get home. Seriously, my head hurts like hell, but I haven’t felt that free in years. My sisters are gonna have a field day talking about me. I don’t know how my husband is gonna take it, but he’ll get over it. He don’t have no choice but to get over it. It was just dancing.” She said it like it was a given, with a little neck twist too.
   As they prepared to leave for their interview, Charlie got a phone call from Payton. “Girl, you can’t go nowhere without me no more.” Charlie asked why. “I send you to California and your ass gets caught grinding with some strange dude, in a really cute dress I might add. Damn that thing looked nice on you. You look like you been working out girl. Keep it tight.
   But your husband will be calling you shortly because some nosey ass girl in here done showed it to him.” She rambled it all together really fast but Charlie caught it all. “Is he mad?” Payton couldn’t tell if he was mad or not, but she did also mention: “Oh all y’all looked happy as hell too. The headline on TMZ says: Cast of Real Talk Caught Showing Some Real Moves. So, you tell me—is he mad?”
   Damn. Charlie started thinking about spin. If you’re caught in the act, you just are, so there’s not a lot of spin you can put on it. But then again, why spin it? It was completely innocent, and they all felt better afterward, so it was a good thing. Everybody would just need to get over it. And she reasoned it away for the time being. She mentally prepared for the interview and blocked everything else out.
   The next phone to ring was Audrey’s. “James, is everybody okay?” She said yes. They were in the limo. “I just saw some pictures on the internet. Y’all was gettin it in weren’t you? Everybody looked good on camera though. I just thought you’d wanna know you’re like a real celebrity now with gossip and shit.” Audrey burst into laughter. “You stupid. Wait, I gotta get it on my phone. I didn’t even look. We were so dusted, and then we just got up and ate and left for the interview. Let me go. I gotta see.”
   They hung up, and Audrey told everybody to pull up the internet on their phones. “Damn, word travels fast,” Keva said. “We all up in this piece! OMG Charlie look at you in that dress.” She hollered! “Girl, your husband is going to kill you!” They all hollered when they saw what was there. Charlie just sunk down into the seat and hung her head. This could only go one of two ways in her mind. “Well, I’m either more popular now, or I just lost a bunch of respect from a bunch of people.” She sighed at the possibility of the latter.   About an hour later, they pulled up to the studio and were escorted to the proper area. People magically showed up talking about hair and makeup. Then they sat and waited in the green room. When they were finally announced, everybody had butterflies—mostly from all the drinking they had done the night before.
   As the interview progressed, they became more comfortable and loosened up. Then Ellen asked about their night. “So did you girls get enough rest last night? I understand you were painting the town a little bit.” Charlie felt her face go flush. Grace answered, “Well, we let our hair down a little bit. We all needed the break. With all the travel and interviews, and responsibilities at home, we just needed an outlet. So we danced. And it was fun. We oughtta do it more often.”
   Nice save Grace. But Ellen wasn’t letting it go that easily. “I actually think it’s refreshing to know that you ladies are like real people. I mean, when we listen to the show, we hear about all the heavy stuff that goes on in women’s lives, and we just do so much for everybody else, every now and then it’s good to just let your hair down.”
   The audience applauded, and Ellen continued, “I hope you ladies will help me out with something here. I just got my producers to get this music for me, and I was wondering if you would like share some of your dance moves with us. Come on, audience, give ‘em some encouragement.”
   Ellen got up and what came through the sound system right then, but Young Jeezy—RIP! They all laughed, then they got up and followed Ellen to the impromptu dance floor, where they started dancing. “We’re gonna go to a commercial break right now. We’ll be back in a moment.” They all danced until just before they came back from commercial.
   “Oh my goodness; that song is pretty hot. I’m sorry; now we’re all sweating. But boy, that felt really good. I see what you mean about blowing off some steam.” They all laughed some more. “Well, thank all of you lovely ladies for joining us here today. We really enjoy the show and wish you much success. Keep sharing that real talk with the world.” Then Ellen motioned toward the ladies beside her, “The Roundtable of Real Talk, ladies and gentlemen!” And that was that.

   Charlie was so relieved that Ellen made light of the situation. “Whew! That was so cool. She kind of cleaned it up for us, so that does help. Maybe there are a few less people talking bad about me now.” She just couldn’t know how bad any damage was until she spoke with Lyle, which she was dreading....(to be continued)

 From Nothing New Under the Sun:

 

 

"Introduction

 

   Strength, virtue, success, beauty, love—attributes and gifts we wear with pride and really don’t mind anyone noticing. In fact, those are usually so pronounced, we couldn’t hide them anyway. Many of us covet these attributes, and many of us will have them. But on the other hand, fear, insecurity, anger, sadness, uncertainty and disappointment are things we usually bury deep within ourselves and try to hide from others. We don’t want them to know those vulnerable parts of us, and we often deny them to ourselves as well.

   The thing is every one of us undoubtedly carries elements of the latter set at some point in our lives. Regardless of what we do with what we have, and despite who we become, those are the things that link us in the human experience. Follow along with Charlie, Grace, Tammy, and Audrey as they navigate through trials; discover their talents and flaws. You will either nod with familiarity or shake your head in disbelief at what they encounter. Which lady will you most relate to? Does her experience mirror one of your own, or is she more like you want to be?

   Whether in the secret lonely place that longs for contentment, or in the place that conceals a spicy, sexy vixen whose quest is to be seen as desirable, or in the quiet place that seeks spirituality and oneness, or even in the place where one undergoing trials and turmoil can find peace and push through, we all have stuff—simply put.

   Those are the kinds of things that make it so important for us to connect with the right people, read the right stories, and hear the right accounts. It is through sharing that we encourage, enlighten, uplift, inspire, and reassure others that things may not be so bad and can in fact get better. In the words of Audrey James, “Humans are put here to live, and to love the experience of living. That’s what makes the ugly parts of life worth living through. They can’t be the focus of life, or life sucks.”

   I sincerely believe that if we spent more time sharing with the intent of helping someone else, we’d have less time to focus on the ugly parts of life, and therefore we would ourselves be encouraged. Let’s try it."