This week’s spotlight shines on David Taylor II. David is an author, songwriter, producer, educator, playwright, and poet. He writes sci fi, fantasy, children’s literature, and comic books. He is the author of the new children’s favorite, Diary of a Smart Black Kid and is also adding to his Dear God children’s series.
His latest novel, Lucifer: Soldiers, Serpents and Sin is an internationally bestselling book. He has created an entire story world called The Realm from that first book and continues to expand it with coloring books, comic books, and audiobooks.
He is a co-composer for the smash hit theater production, Eye of the Storm: The Bayard Rustin Musical, nominated for 3 Black Theater Alliance awards. In 2015 his book Wayward Pines: Survival, from the hit Fox TV show of the same name, broke top 10 in the Amazon bestseller list and is currently still in the Top 100 of Kindle Worlds sci fi.
He is the writer of the independent comics The Nephilim Wars, The Order of Orali, and the Kryo-Karuto.
He is also the founder of Authors At Last™, an online site for Masterclass training for authors.
He is the proud father of two, as well as a lover of football, pizza, and a good glass of lemonade.
Diary of a Smart Black Kid: Sixth Grade
Baron Winters is an 11-year-old African-American boy. He’s smart, black, and a Geek. That means bullies, bullets, and beaches. And girls. Can he survive the challenges of going into sixth grade? Can he decipher the mixed messages of adults? And are his struggles unique, or are they our own?
Here’s an Excerpt
So I almost got shot today – End of Summer Part 1
So I almost got shot today. But I’ll get to the gun thing in a minute. See, I love summer bike riding in my hometown. It’s homey! Also. I might be using cycle therapy (see what I did there?) to casually ignore the fact that it’s almost here.
“It” meaning, the test that will change my life.
Well ‘almost’ actually meaning springtime next year. Still. WOO HOO! Yeah, only geeks count days until tests. So color me count-y. There’s something happening in my life even sooner, however. That would be the Blessed Advent of Junior High School. And by ‘Blessed Advent’ I mean ‘yeah I’m scared brainless.’ Sixth grade is just a few days away. Sixth grade. In a few days. I need to do really well this year in school to even qualify for the test in the spring.
But in the meantime, I need to graze in every boy’s natural habitat: sweat! According to my mother every time I take a shower I’m wasting water and running up the electric bill. Haven’t figured that one out yet. But what I do know is that It’s August and that means bike riding ‘til it’s dark. Till dark, I tells ya! Also. Adults and kids have different definitions of ‘dark.’
Speaking of my hometown, it’s right outside Chicago. Lots of bike paths. Although I prefer riding in the streets. I probably shouldn’t tell my parents that I played chicken with a bus one time. Yeah maybe I’ll leave that out of our next dinner ‘So how was your day?’ discussion.
August is a funny month. I’m pretty sure it’s named after Augustus. Who was like, the first Roman emperor. And I know that more babies are born in August. My mind’s kind of buzzy like that, all funny factoid n’ thangs. Maybe that’s not one hundred percent true because my big sister Christina (she’s eighteen) was born in May and my big brother Zeke (he’s twenty-one, SO old) was born in December. But that was with dad’s first wife and not my mom so does that make the August thing totally bogue? Anyway. August is still like the last dance with summer, so it has all these really hot days. Maybe so you can like soak up some extra sunshine or heat or something because winter will make you forget all of this.
Then there’s Friday, which has to be, like, the best day of the week ever. It’s the only day of the week where’s there no downside. Like if candy were turned into a day. Because:
-No work the next day
-Allowance money comes
-Cartoons and pancakes all morning
-You can sleep until the sun stops talking
Also. Every single sleepover in the history of people has happened on a Friday night. Then there’s pizza, which has to be like, celestial in origin. Greek gods ate ambrosia and nectar. American gods eat pizza. I’m sure there’s a god law that says so. Pizza was invented for Fridays. Pizza is the king of food.
So I think that makes Friday like, the king of days. Or it would be if there was a contest for such things. Like Friday would beat up Thursday and take Wednesday’s girlfriend and exile Monday. Because who loves Mondays? Nobody, that’s who.
Tuesday is clearly like that kid that nobody notices except when they do something crazy. Like for example when it follows a three-day weekend. Then Tuesday feels like Monday part deux and ugh. Three day weekends are always fun though because they’re like extra ketchup on a burger. I have noticed that my big brother and sister seem to be able to pack more fun into their weekends than I can. I guess that’s part of the benefits of being older. I’m not even fully a teenager and already it seems like being a non-teenager is the coolest thing ever. Except for maybe Minecraft. I can’t imagine anything out-cooling that. Hey wait wouldn’t it be awesometacular if Friday got in a fight with Minecraft to see which one was cooler? I’m pretty much figuring there is a magical place where all this stuff that kids imagine actually happens, or else why would we be able to imagine it? Well. Anyway. Friday wins all battles and sometimes I wish it could be forty-eight hours long because that would rock like Ben Grimm in a mudslide. Friday is life.
Except for the fact that this particular Friday there was that gun thing with the cop. I was downtown in my second favorite bookstore, Kirst & Dorsten. This cop followed me out of the store. Then he watched me unchain my bike from the rack. Like he didn’t believe it was mine. I wanted to get out of there in a hurry so I started moving faster (because what kid likes being stared down by law enforcementicals?) Then he totally pulled his gun on me. I had to drop my bike and my lock, and faceplant myself.
Running down my leg, my sweat shook hands with my pee and said in unison “we’re in trouble.” I just never pictured dying before my first year of junior high school. Fortunately, after he saw my highly trembly demeanor Officer Not-So-Friendly seemed to no longer think I was a thief.
So I left. (note to self: put an I.D. tag on your bike when you get home. Oh and change your pants.) Maybe I should get a tattoo on my bike that says “Property of Baron Winters.” Because I could never get like, a real tattoo. My mother would look at me like I grew a second face. Then she’d break the one I have.
So I pretty much decided I wasn’t gonna let Captain Overanxious back there suck the joy out of my day. Even though he almost Rodney King’d me. Yeah, I watched those videos. History Maaaaan! Plus if I qualify to take that test at all, nothing’s gonna stop me from doing well on it. That’s just not gonna happen. But I’ve got a whole school year to get through before I’m there. And I’m gonna live in Comic Book World until then. Oh um along with studying of course. Hashtag not a slacker. #NotaSlacker
I had gone into Kirst & Dorsten because I didn’t have time to ride all the way across town to the Comic Shop. Sometimes K & D has some comic books. Although lately, my allowance was on life support after a trip to buy some comics. Comics are like, five dollars per book. I love love LOVE the Comic Shop tho. They have everything. Comic books, RPGS, action figures (They. Are. Not. Dolls.), game nights, DVDs, posters. I could just live there. I would if I could afford it. Jeezum Lord a’Mercy I could just see the drama if I asked my dad for more allowance money. I wouldn’t recommend that to my worst enemy.
…Well actually, I would because I can’t stand that evil Derek Kilroy. But. Anyway. I haven’t figured out yet why the stuff you hate the most takes up so much brain space. But then again I guess the stuff you love the most does too. Life’s kind of funny that way but when I grow up, I’m gonna invent some kind of brain filter memory device.
Like…like…totally awesome Forgetto Glasses!
Holy mother of haggis they will be the best-selling thing ever. Know why? Because what people wouldn’t give to be able to have selective memory. Know how I know that? Because all parents in the League of Adultage have selective memory. They can’t seem to remember all the stuff you’ve done right when they’re yelling at you. Just the things you do wrong. I’d like to perfect that and then flip the switch so I could only remember the good things.
…Then again, what would happen if you didn’t know how to classify a memory? Yikes, I sense a bug in the software. Oh well, I’d figure out a way to classify memories for targeted removal. Because I totally could.
If I wasn’t already such a genius I would invent patented Genius Pills and turn myself into a genius.
Eeeyup I have solved all problems.