Hey Party People!😎
I know it’s been a while since my last blog entry. August of 2022, to be exact. I haven’t had the energy or desire to do a blog post. Sorry about not getting that Shit I’m Diggin’ post published. I felt now was the time to update the folks who’d wondered where I’d been. Short answer: I’ve been making money moves. I believe the last time I wrote an entry, I was working on making moves professionally.
Well, that happened. Beyoncé dropped “Break My Soul,” which motivated me to get my life! Shortly after my last blog post, I started looking for a new job. Even though I received a promotion in March of 2021 (which wasn’t one if we’re being technical, the salary increased, but it wasn’t up to par with what I deserved, and unfortunately, I was unable to negotiate), the job left me psychological drained to the point where I was beginning to experience anxiety attacks. THAT IS NOT ME, Y’ALL. Ms. Harper doesn’t let people disturb her peace, but I allowed it for too long. I first experienced panic attacks in graduate school from some of the shit I endured within my program and with my advisor. I swore I would never tolerate that again, so I had to go. I started a new position in January of 2023, which led to a 50% salary increase *sings Cardi B’s Money*. I’ve been in my industry for about twenty years at the same institution. I elevated and moved within the company, hoping to escape some less-than-stellar leadership over the years, but those efforts were futile. When a culture of toxicity is pervasive, the only way to escape is to leave that joint, so that’s how I’m spending the first quarter of 2024 searching for a new opportunity! I’m finally saying peace out to the only organization I’ve known for my professional career, but it’s time.
Despite all the corporate bureaucracy, 2023 was beneficial in many ways. I hunkered down and focused on my professional development.
- I received a professional certification.
- I received a certificate for an area of expertise within my industry.
- I am 7 credits shy of completing another professional certificate program.
- Bonus: I met yearly financial goals and doubled what I set out to accomplish.
In 2024, I plan to obtain two more professional certifications. I AIN’T PLAYIN’!
In between making professional and money moves, I had FUN, y’all. I turned 45 in October, and I’ve said this before, but I honestly feel I’m aging backward. My energy levels are off the charts. I do intermittent fasting, which has been fantastic for my body! I’m working out, meditating, and sticking to wellness routines. I lost all but 10lbs of the weight I put on during a severe bout of depression, which is primarily why I haven’t published anything since 2017. Depression doesn’t always “look” a certain way. It took me a while to realize what was happening, but once I did, I made strides to get myself right internally and externally. Having fun was one way I overcame my setbacks. I mean pure, unadulterated fun. I was OUTSIDE. I went to concerts nine months out of the year. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen the footage. I also cross-post to Facebook, so if you missed it there, you can find posts on my wall. It was my way of treating myself for the hard work I was putting in.
Stephanie Mills, The Whispers, New Edition, Tank, Guy, Keith Sweat, Janet Jackson, Ludacris, Anita Baker, Queen Bey (I feel like I was elevated to another plane for the Renaissance Tour, and my seats?! MY SEATS WERE IMMACULATE. Whew, it was AH-MAY-ZING), lol, “Cuff It” is playing as I type this blog post. My knees got a workout, y’all. I was getting it in. Tony! Toni! Toné!, Kenny Loggins, Willie Nelson, Sheryl Crow, Olivia Rodrigo, Brittany Howard, Chris Stapleton, Dave Matthews, Stevie Nicks, Elton John, Jimmy Page, New Edition (again), Chaka Khan, Sia, Missy Elliot, St. Vincent, Babyface. Al B. Sure and Jon B. were some artists I saw this year. It was busy!
Aside from concerts, I enjoyed some great albums, movies, and TV shows in 2023.
🎵🎶Fave Albums of 2023🎵🎶
Cleo Sol Heaven
Cleo Sol Gold
Gorillaz Cracker Island
Kylie Minogue Tension (Deluxe)
Jorja Smith falling or flying
Kali Uchis Red Moon In Venus
Victoria Monét JAGUAR II
Sam Smith Gloria
Terrace Martin and Alex Isley I Left My Heart In Ladera
📻Fave Songs of 2023🎧
Yebba Waterfall (I Adore You)
The Teskey Brothers Drown in My Own Tears (The Circle Session, 2023)
Victoria Monét On My Mama
Miley Cyrus Flowers
Kali Uchis Fantasy (feat. Don Toliver)
Snoh Aalegra Be My Summer
🎥Fave Movies of 2023🍿
I went to the movies exactly twice this year. Movies in NYC are expensive AF. Be prepared to spend at least $25.00 on a ticket. I saw Killers of the Flower Moon, and it was yet another great movie in Martin Scorcese’s repertoire of excellence. Of course, the book was better, but I think he did it justice. I also saw the Renaissance Tour movie (are you surprised?!). I had to relive that experience again, and it was worth it. Just from a business perspective, Beyoncé is fascinating.
Fave movies I streamed this year
Barbie (HBO Max)
The Equalizer 3 (Prime)
A Thousand and One (I SWEAR THIS IS A SEVERELY UNDERRATED GEM; I wept it was so good) (Prime)
They Cloned Tyrone (Netflix)
Older movies I watched and enjoyed
The Wolf of Wall Street (Netflix)
The Irishman (Netflix)
Hunter Killer (Netflix)
📺Fave Television Shows In 2023 🎬
MOONLIGHTING! You all have no idea how excited I was to see this FINALLY streaming on Hulu. I watched this show with my mom when I was a kid. I loved the banter between Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd. I’m sad Bruce can’t celebrate with fans and share our excitement, but he gave us lots of laughs.
I’m late, but I just started The Crown. I’m on season 4. Charles had his first date with Diana! (Netflix)
The Diplomat (So so so good!) (Netflix)
The Last Kingdom (good grief, I needed something to fulfill me after the Game of Thrones letdown and fill in the void until House of the Dragon returns, and this hit the spot). All five seasons were spectacular (although I was getting pretty pissed with the writers in season 3 when they started killing off characters I really enjoyed). The movie Seven Kings Must Die was entertaining and a great way to close the saga. (Netflix)
First Wives Club (I became a Michelle Buteau fan after Survival of the Thickest) (Netflix)
Bodies (such an odd concept, but I loved it, and it worked!) (Netflix)
You (Another one, I’m late to the party for. Yoooo, Joe is wild.😵💫) (Netflix)
The Night Agent (Netflix)
The Recruit (Netflix)
Fave Documentaries In 2023
Surviving R. Kelly (all three parts, please pay attention to the trigger warnings, Netflix)
Get Gotti (Netflix)
Poisoned: The Dirty Truth About Your Food (Netflix)
Scouts Honor: The Secret Files of the Boy Scouts of America (Netflix)
Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets (Prime)
Lastly, books! 📚
You know what I’ve been reading if you follow me on Goodreads. I invested in a two-year Kindle Unlimited membership, I also have two library cards, which have been getting serious mileage, and then I’m working on plowing through my TBR pile of bookshelves at home. I’ve made some progress! My goal is to breeze through the home TBR pile and then donate the books to clear up space, as I’ll likely be moving later in 2024, and I want to make the trek as easy as possible. As of the drafting of this post, I’ve read 66 books in 2023. It could’ve been better, but my brain was focused on retaining a lot of coursework, so I didn’t want to burn myself out. My favorite discovery this year? SA Cosby. His books are what I’ve been missing from my thriller/suspense pile. He’s an auto-buy author, for sure. Who else have I enjoyed a lot of this year? My erotic romance faves Sara Cate and Q.B. Tyler. Give me an age gap, give me taboo, give me romance with some kink thrown in, and a hero who eats 🐈⬛🐈like it’s his job; I’m here for it. It’s also a great inspiration for me regarding my writing. 😏
Speaking of my writing, lol, if you’re still reading this post, you’re probably like, “Harper, girl. Do you ever intend to release anything before 2026?” LOL. Short answer? Yes. I was supposed to get Nate and Gwen’s finalized story to my editor in October, but I was knee-deep in studying for my certification exam, and that didn’t happen. Then November flew by because my exam was at the end of the month, and that was my only focus. Here we are in December—the last week of the year, dead week. My editor emailed me about two weeks ago to ask what my plans were and if I intended to turn in anything, as she wants to plan accordingly (bless you, Daphne, for being so thorough and on top of your stuff). I’m about 80% done with my draft. I want to turn it in for edits by MLK weekend. So, if things go as planned, I should have something out by the end of the first quarter. It’s a long time coming, I know! But progress.
Speaking of progress…
The Kinky Connect Chronicles website got a facelift! If you’ve read the KCC series, you know about the bonus epilogues that lead you to a website; well, the website was revamped (thank you, Leslye Penelope) and is hosted on a new server. I plan to upgrade my author website sometime this year, too, as I prefer a more seamless way to integrate blog posts, and I want readers to be able to buy books directly from me (I don’t think I’ll be doing cons again any time soon, so if folks want signed books, this will be an option). I will probably get the KCC stories printed and developed into a box set. But anyway, Nate and Gwen…
I am still determining how I intend to launch this book, as I have been out of the game for a long while. What used to work as far as marketing is obsolete these days. Honestly, I’m not too worried about it. Sales are great, but ultimately, I want to get my stuff into the world so people can enjoy what I’ve been dreaming up. I have so many goals for books and characters, but y’all can’t see in my head, so I have to light a fire under my ass to get moving. Anywho, I better focus on getting my word count for the day.
I wish you all a Happy New Year! If 2023 wasn’t great for you, I wish you peace in 2024. May the new year bring you love, laughter, and light!❤️💕
Blessings to you and yours!
Hey Party People!👋🏾 Whassup, whassup, whaaaaaassup?!😁
I know it’s been a LONG while since I’ve checked in with y’all. Unfortunately, I’m failing all over the place with monthly updates, but for a good reason. I have A LOT going on in my life, and unfortunately, blog updates have taken a bit of a backseat. I’m currently going through significant transitions in my professional life. Remember I said I was going to be hella intentional in 2022? I’m working on obtaining two professional certifications, so that’s taken up a chunk of time. I’ve also been doing a lot of reading about various business practices, again, all for professional growth and development. Upskilling is my jam! I’m also studying for my driver’s test. YES, I DO NOT HAVE A DRIVER’S LICENSE. I’m a New Yorker; driving is a luxury, not a necessity. But I will need it as my parents are elderly and they don’t need to be behind the wheel. Aside from all that, I’m also dealing with familial duties and responsibilities.
Even though I’ve been inundated with stuff, I’ve found the time to incorporate fun. Back in July, I went to see New Kids on the Block, En Vogue, Rick Astley, and Salt N Pepa at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. LET ME TELL YOU; I GOT MY WHOLE LIFE. The nostalgia of my tween and early teen years was in full effect. I remember listening to Hot, Cool, & Vicious on cassette. My sister ran that tape into the ground. I have always wanted to see Salt N Pepa live, and now? A bucket list item has been achieved. It was bittersweet because I would have attended the event with my sister if I had my way, but I know she was jammin’ right alongside me. I mean, I SHOWED OUT, PEEPS. 😂 Such a freakin’ good time. You can see a few video snippets on my Instagram page (an IG account is required to view), but I’ve also included a few pics below. I’ve also included a 30-second clip of Salt N Pepa performing “Shoop” at the end of this post. I loved the remixing of J-Lo’s “Get Right” into the performance. Please pardon the shaky camera work. I was too busy singing and dancing.🤷🏾♀️💃🏾 #noshame
Oh, but that’s not all.
Earlier this month, I went to see Kehlani (she/they) at Radio City Music Hall. If you’ve read my previous blog post, then you know I was waiting with bated breath for her album “blue water road” to drop. So, when the album was released earlier this year, it was hands down my top contender for album of the year (it has some competition now, but I’ll get to that later in a Shit I’m Diggin’ post). Not only did I see Kehlani live, I also had the opportunity to attend a meet and greet with them that included a soundcheck and Q&A. We also took a photo, which I will not post because everything ain’t for the interwebz. I will frame it, though. It is hands down one of the goofiest and most fun photos I have ever taken in my life. I appreciate her willingness to be a hot mess with me. THANK YOU, KEHLANI! 😍🥰 I did snap a few pics from the soundcheck. FYI, she’s fine AF. I need to craft an erotic lesbian short with her at the forefront because whew… 😰😮💨
You can also watch some concert footage on my Instagram.
My first two concerts since Feb 2020, and both were enjoyable as heck. I’m not done yet, LOL; there’s still more on tap for 2022. My birthday this year is about to be crazy!!! I’ll turn 44, so you better believe I’m bringing the thunder. I’ll be spending my evening with none other than Mary J. Blige. *Sidenote* I’m disappointed because I also had tickets to see Morris Day and the Time, the SOS Band, Cameo, and the Dazz band. LISTEN! I was ready to get my funk on… but a week before the show, ticketholders received refunds and an email saying the show would be canceled. There was no explanation on social media, just “unforeseen circumstances.” I had significant side-eye but let me mind my business. You never know what folks are enduring. I hope it will be rescheduled because although I’ve seen Prince a few times before his death, I have never seen Morris Day… I need that experience in my life.
Sooooo, writing updates… I still have a self-imposed deadline for two projects I am DESPERATELY trying to complete this year (Nate and Gwen’s conclusion and SRGY- see the Jan 2022 post for reference). I do not want to go into 2023 without these projects crossed off my to-do list. Although I despise multi-tasking, it’s been my function as of late. I have a lot of things on my plate, and I have no choice but to pivot accordingly. So far, it’s working, but y’all also know I am not a fast writer. I’ve had hella encouragement from the sidelines, though. Occasionally, I’ll be like no one cares that I haven’t published anything since 2017.
No one cares that I don’t send out frequent newsletters. No one cares that I’m not as active on social media as I used to be. No one cares what the heck Harper Miller is doing. But then I’ll get a random message in my inbox, a random tag on a social media platform, a random positive review/rating, and it’s like, oh, someone still cares? For real? *sniffle* But you know what? It’s always lovely to have author friends to turn to when everything feels overwhelming, and I have moments of doubt. Not imposter syndrome but more, is this writing thang still worth it? Having someone take time out of their busy schedule to walk you through their process and allay your worries is a gift. I wish I could say many of us are supportive of each other, but that isn’t always the case.
Crabs in a barrel syndrome happens often, and it’s unfortunate. I learned the hard way that it’s not about me, but personal insecurities folks project onto others. We can all win at this writing gig, but there will always be “Highlander Syndrome” in Romance. The crazy “THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE BLACK WOMAN WRITING XYZ” mentality. Uh no. There are plenty of readers to go around. Plenty of ideas are looking to see the light of day—plenty of agents to query. Plenty of us to celebrate. I will always keep cheering on folks who write with authenticity, so it’s a blessing when I reach out to more established authors who take the time to guide me and give me career advice. If y’all are reading this post, thank you for being you. I adore you; I appreciate you; I am grateful to you.😘
In any case, Ms. Harper is plugging along. I’d looooove to say you all will have a release from me come winter. I was supposed to give you all a release date already, but life keeps throwing curveballs. Not an excuse, but reality. I’m learning to adapt to my circumstances daily because you can’t plan for everything. I promise to try my best to get a Shit I’m Diggin’ post up next weekend. MAYBE I’ll have release date news before the end of September, MAYBE.🤞🏾 In the meantime, here’s that video I promised. Till next time, be well! 💞💖
BTW I tried embedding the SNP video, but of course, the video gods aren’t cooperating. Here’s the link on YouTube.
Heeeeeeeey Party People! 👋🏾
I promised monthly blog posts, and unfortunately, that didn’t happen last month. My sincere apologies. April was wild! My mom unexpectedly needed surgery, which meant I had to become her caregiver post-surgery. My dad is turning eighty in November, and him being a caregiver solo isn’t feasible, so Harper to the rescue! No cause for alarm, though. My mom is doing great! Her recovery has been spectacular. Shoutout to her stellar surgical team!
I also had multiple work projects and deadlines I needed to meet, so, unfortunately, I had to sacrifice a lot of my writing time. 😫 Boo-hiss. Needless to say, a lot of things I had planned for the month got scrapped. My timetable is screwed, but I’m learning to pivot like a Jedi Master (Pivoting was one of my focus areas for the year, and it’s going okay). I’m not freaking out when things don’t go my way. Instead, I take a deep breath, step back, and re-evaluate the course to the finish line. I had to… my mama, and my job came first! Gotta pay bills and keep the lights on, right? On the bright side, the traffic to my website in April was 🍌🍌🍌. When I got the numbers back from Google Analytics, I was hella surprised. My face reading the stats: 😮😲🤭 I’ve kept my head down, and I’m on social media rarely, so I don’t know what sparked the uptick, but whoever is whispering my name in the wind, THANK YOU! LOL, I’d like to believe it’s because readers are waiting with bated breath wondering when I’m going to drop a release date. 👀 *wishful thinking* (On that note, I’m desperately trying to finish the manuscript I have in progress and then get to the editing stage). I spoke with my editor earlier this morning, and I’m aiming to hand over the MS by June 1st, so I have a few weeks to write THE END and then dive into editing the behemoth. I fucking hate the editing stage. H-A-T-E. But it’s nothing a nice bottle of Shiraz can’t cure, amirite? I also have a project I want to turn my attention to in June, and I can’t do that if I’m still focusing on my current work in progress. Crossing t’s and dotting i’s, y’all. Streamlining is a motherfucker, but it’s my jam!
What else is up in my life? Tomorrow, May 16th marks a year since my sister’s passing. Let me tell you; this last year has been both insightful and scary. What I’ve come to realize is not everyone has their lives together. Of course, my realization isn’t rocket science, but my role has expanded. I’ve become many things to many people, and because of my role expansion, I’m thankful I have my shit together. If I didn’t, I couldn’t do most of what I’ve been doing for the last year. We craft the lives we want to lead, and whatever is important to us, we carve out time for. At least, that’s how it should be. In my case, my family comes before everything. I was under the assumption this is how it went for everyone, but obviously, that isn’t true. We neglect those we often say we care about. Not everyone prioritizes their loved ones. It’s not always malicious and intentional. But it’s even more reason to press pause and focus on what’s meaningful. Love can quickly become an abstract concept if you let it. I’m forty-three, and my goal has been to live my best life. I want that for everyone, but others have to want it for themselves. I can’t make those decisions on behalf of others. That’s been a hard pill to swallow. That may have been a tad cryptic, but the takeaway is to cherish your time. That’s how you show people you care, by being present.
Presence and attentiveness go a long way which is an excellent segue into the shit I’ve been diggin’. So let’s start with the good stuff I’ve read, shall we?
Romanticize Your Life
Presence and attentiveness start with you giving yourself the time you deserve. Enjoy the mundane!
18 Little Stories That Will Have A Massive Impact on Your Life
Great stories inspire great things. Read this article for a dose of perspective.
The Wedding Crasher by Mia Sosa
Would the production company that purchased the rights to The Worst Best Man get this series on Netflix STAT? The Wedding Crasher was the incredibly delightful mood-lifter I needed. Mia weaves humor and culture wonderfully in this follow-up. Check out my full review on Goodreads.
Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
I haven’t been to the movies since the fall of 2019. The COVID pandemic has changed how we navigate our daily activities. I used to love going to the movies, but with people being haphazard and often defiant regarding mask mandates, I wasn’t about to chance it despite being vaccinated. Well, I’ve been vaccinated, AND I received two boosters. Nevertheless, I still mask up in public spaces. So I felt now was the time to test out the waters. On opening day (I know, I know), I went to see Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and WOW, WHAT A RIDE! IT WAS SOOOOO GOOD! I won’t be that person who drops spoilers, but Sam Raimi brings a fresh take on Marvel movies. Also, if you haven’t watched Avengers: EndGame and WandaVision on Disney+, you will likely be confused and miss a lot of contexts. So be sure and catch up before giving Dr. Strange 2 a whirl.
Lately, I’ve been watching crime shows based on a true stories, and Candy was the latest installment. Jessica Biel plays Candy Montgomery, a Texas housewife who one day takes a turn allllllllllllllllllllll the way left. ALL. THE. WAY. LEFT. It’s a doozy, y’all. You can stream Candy exclusively on Hulu.
The Thing About Pam
The Thing About Pam is in the same vein as Candy. A Missouri house flipper, Pam Hupp, decides to murder her best friend, Betsy. Listen, this story had me questioning what in the hell people consider ” best friend” and the competence of #everydamnbodyinthetown. With best friends like Pam Hupp out in the world, I’d rather live in Greenland and chill with musk oxen and polar bears. Best friend? Not today, not tomorrow, not ever. No ma’am. Like my goodness, I know the show was dramatized, but the fact that this woman was able to murder and get off without people seeing through her is problematic. The justice system is… well… you know. YOU KNOW. Reneé Zellweger makes you loathe her as the lead character, so job well done! The Thing About Pam originally aired on NBC and is now streaming on Hulu and Peacock.
blue water road by Kehlani
🗣🗣🗣 PEEEEEEEEEEPS!!!!!!!!! I have been waiting for this album for what seems like forever, and it did not disappoint. I’ve also been screaming from the rooftops for everyone to buy and stream it! I know it’s early, but I think this will undoubtedly be my favorite album of 2022. Kehlani did the damn thing. They’ve (Kehlani goes by she/they pronouns) faced a lot of personal tragedies and hardships these last few years, and what better way to work through your tragedy than by putting pen to paper? The album is raw and, in my opinion, Kehlani’s best work to date. Favorite bop? wish i never. My 80s lovin’ heart was HYPE when I heard the Slick Rick sample. WWWWHHHHAAAAAAT?! *Sigh* the kids are putting some respect on 80s Hip-hop Icon’s names. I love to see it! 🥰😊
Heart On My Sleeve by Ella Mai
Another highly anticipated album for me, and it didn’t disappoint! Ella Mai’s voice is smooth like buttah. The narration by Mary J. Blige was the icing on the cake. If anyone can teach this new generation of R&B singers how to channel heartbreak, it’s Queen Mary.
This concludes the shit I’ve been diggin’. I’m off to get my word count in for the day! I’m almost at the finish line. 🏃🏾♀️🏃🏾♀️🏃🏾♀️
Till next time, y’all. Stay safe. Peace and blessings! 💕