Writers’ Showcase Day #5 Spotlight on… LaJenine Wilson

writers-showcase A Message From…

Terry Ann Williams-Richard, Your Personal Book Writing Coach and Founder of Personalized Educational Services, LLC

We are Courageous Voices Casting Visions while Celebrating Victories! This Writers’ Showcase is in celebration of completing our 30-Day Writing Project Challenge 2020 (July 13 – August 11). I am grateful for 16 other Sister Writers who agreed, on a variety of personalized levels of participation, to accept the challenge to join me on what turned out to be a transforming adventure. Daily Encouragement e-mails with inspirational quotes & writing tips; Weekly Zoom Call Check-Ins; access to daily interaction in the “A Writing Party!” Facebook group; and an occasional nudge or push from me are some of the benefits of this experience designed to promote daily writing, reaching writing/publishing goals, and uplifting each other. Over the next few days I will spotlight a sprinkling of the writing gifts from this magical group of courageous creatives. Today we celebrate LaJenine Wilson! Write On, Sister Writer!

Contact me: at tutor4utoday@gmail.com for your own personalized transformational writing experience.

The Power of Fish and Grits

by LaJenine Wilson

Photo Credit: La Jenine Wilson


“Get your behind out the car!” That was Nicole, just as loud and wrong as ever, posted right outside the entrance to the restaurant. She had one hand on her hip, the other rapidly fanning her neck and face, as if it was making a difference in the stifling Georgia heat.

“Make me,” I dared her. Then I started to gather my belongings from the passenger seat. “Got my purse, my shades, my cell and about to lose my freakin nerves.”

I wanted to run. Then I remembered my sister Nicole, a.k.a. Nick, possessed all of the speed in the family. Not to mention how Rainy always pounced on cowardly behavior. As kids, he’d look us dead in the eyes and say, “The only chickens allowed up in my house are baked or fried.” Then he’d strut around the room clucking and cackling like an intoxicated bird until we saw things his way.

Growing up, people said I was my father’s twin, smart mouth and all, but times like these made me wonder if that were true. Rainy James would never run from a fight, never.

My name is Monica James-Morgan, Mona for short, and this time Sunday I was trapped in the grip of southern heat with beads of sweat racing down my face, trying to remember the drama-free lines I’d rehearsed during my flight from Los Angeles to Atlanta.

My mother, Eva James, underwent heart surgery six months ago, but I just found out last week. Let Nicole tell it, she forgot to mention it during our last phone conversation. But I suspect that even in pain and discomfort, our mother wasn’t real eager to see me.

The last time I’d gone home was for Rainy’s funeral. Seven years and a few strained conversations later, the relationship between my mother and I had not improved. I was still the one who had chosen a career in television over working in the family’s restaurant.

Eva’s Fish and Grits has long been a fixture on Atlanta’s east side. Started by my grandfather Robert and named after my mother, Eva’s has been a part of our family for more than 60 years. With only two card tables, some folding chairs and a lamp, my grandfather had started serving his first customers in the basement of his modest two-bedroom home.

His menu, like the accommodations, had been simple; catfish, pork chops or fried chicken, your choice of five sides, buttermilk biscuits or corn bread, lemonade or sweet tea. His first customers had included civil rights leaders, ministers and politicians from all over the state. And his staff had included everyone from Grandma Day to Aunt Natalie, Uncle John to Cousin Rob. Just about every member of my family had worked there, except me, Ms. I-Got-Other-Dreams. I’d been too busy planning how to shake up Hollywood to be caught frying fish or refilling glasses of sweet tea.

LaJenine has written for the Atlanta Voice, Atlanta Tribune, Rolling Out and Gainesville Times. Her short stories and poetry have appeared on For Harriet and Gifted Women. She released her first book of poetry, Tip of My Tongue, in 2009. LaJenine currently lives in the Atlanta area with her son Keyon.

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