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Terry McMillan's Engaging Personality, Best-Selling Author Impresses Sacramento Audience

Award-winning author Terry McMillan was in Sacramento, Calif., recently to promote her new book I Almost Forgot About You. She also discussed her writing career, upbringing, read a few passages from I Almost Forgot You, and signed copies of the new book at Underground Books. Publicity Agents photo art by T. Ray Harvey. Dec. 8, 2016.

THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Sacramento, Calif. — Best-selling author Terry McMillan ended IndiviZible’s Speakers Series of 2016 on a good note at the Guild Theater last week. Her bubbly attitude had everyone walking away knowing they heard a great speaker with a keen insight of today’s world.

McMillan left nothing to the imagination and was quite frank about her rise to literary stardom as she had a fireside chat with former Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson in front of a standing-room-only crowd in the 400-seat theater in Sacramento's Oak Park neighborhood.

Early in the discussion, McMillan had to relay to the large audience about the African American experience and how others view it. But the fact that Black people dismiss the negatives and embrace the positives no matter what the issues are impresses her the most.

McMillan found evidence in Black unification through the sales of her books and her top-selling books that sold in Black bookstores. She wrote all the Black bookstores she could to set book signings and “I paid my own way to be able to support them,” McMillan said.

“The thing that really I love is how unifying we are no matter what’s going on,” McMillan said of African Americans. “A lot of lies are told about what happens in our communities are not true. I think we support each other more than a whole lot of other communities. Take it from someone who knows.”

McMillan delighted the audience, members from the Sacramento Community who had one, two or three of her books to sign, with a 30-minute reading of the her 2016 book, I Almost Forgot About You.

Wearing big black glasses on stage with Johnson by her side, the allotted half hour was a testament that McMillan loves to read aloud as much as she loves to write. She was worried about time, but Johnson ensured her that all eyes and ears were waiting patiently.

“You take as much time as you want,” Johnson told McMillan while she flipped through the pages of I Almost Forgot You to find a passage to read. “No one is going anywhere,” he said.

McMillan has had countless speaking engagements, though she was impressed with Johnson asking her questions that matter to her. When Johnson asked her about her upbringing and family, she declared, “Nobody has ever asked me that before,” she said.

The eldest of five children, she was born in 1951 in Port Huron, Mich., near the Canada border. McMillan’s father was a sanitation worker while her mother was a cocktail waitress who sometimes offered domesticated services to “clean White folks’ houses ” in the 1950s, she said.

“I was a bossy kid growing up because I was the oldest,” McMillan said. “My father died when he was 39 years old. I was only 16. So, I basically had to take care of these kids while my mother worked. I braided hair, I was Santa Claus and everything. I cooked, I made them do chores, I washed clothes, and I ironed clothes. I had a lot of responsibilities and I didn’t mind it. My mama had five kids and she needed help.”

McMillan graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1977 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism. But after writing a series of poems, many that were published when she lived in Los Angeles, she turned to writing.

“You dream out loud and you put it on paper,” McMillan said. “From there, I ended up writing poetry because it was a way to react to things that I thought were unjust and unfair. Which is the real reason why I write fiction.”

McMillan, 65, is an strong African American woman who has penned nine books, practically all best sellers. She emerged on the bookshelf with the New York Times bestseller, Mama. Her books are told from a woman’s point of view and relates to all women of color, especially Black women.

McMillan learned that person could write about fantasies, disappointments, dreams, and unfulfilled wishes. She backed away from journalism because she was not “interested in what you thought” but “I was more interested in what people felt,” McMillan said.

Her bestselling book, Waiting To Exhale, was indirectly fictional about her college experience, she told the audience. The book was turned into a 1995 romance film that starred Whitney Houston and Angela Bassett. The movie made $82 million at the box office off a $16 million budget.

The book itself sold three million copies.

“I got depressed after writing Waiting To Exhale because I did not know that book was going to be as big as it was,” McMillan said. “I was just writing about a bunch of girlfriends, my college girlfriends, on how we couldn’t get a date. We didn’t understand what the deal was and we were lonely.”

Another book-turned-film that garnished much success was McMillan’s How Stella Got Her Groove Back. The 1998 film was budgeted at $20 million and made over $39 million at the cash register.

She’s currently writing a book about mental illness. For all anyone knows, the idea to write the book may have something to do with homeless people McMillan have encountered over the years.

For years, McMillan lived in Danville, Calif., but she has since moved back to Los Angeles. Her work in literature, film, and television has made her a fortune. But she stays humble about her progress and use philanthropy as a blessing. During her presentation in Sacramento, McMillan hinted that the unfortunates are her beneficiaries.

“That’s why I keep my little Range Rover’s glove compartment full of bills because when I’m driving or walking down the streets...I give it away,” McMillan said. “These folks are not out here because they want to be out here. They are not. If they want to go buy a bottle of wine...if that’s what get you through the day...go knock yourself out.”

McMillan explained her passionate heart in details.

“I think we were all put on this earth to do something for somebody besides ourselves,” she said. “That’s the bottom line. To me writing is a form of generosity and so is contributing to non-profit organizations. If you have money that’s what you use it for. I’m lucky and I know that I am lucky. I’m not saying that to impress anybody because I know that I am not alone.”

T. Ray (Antonio) Harvey is a Public Information Officer and Photographic Artist for Publicity Agents. Harvey is also the author of The HOMICIDAL HANDYMAN OF OAK PARK: MORRIS SOLOMON JR.


The No. 1 New York Times bestselling author of How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Waiting To Exhale is back with the inspiring story of a woman who shakes things up in her life to find greater meaning.

In I Almost Forgot About You, Dr. Georgia Young's wonderful life--great friends, family, and successful career--aren't enough to keep her from feeling stuck and restless. When she decides to make some major changes in her life, including quitting her job as an optometrist and moving house, she finds herself on a wild journey that may or may not include a second chance at love.

Georgia’s bravery reminds us that it’s never too late to become the person you want to be, and that taking chances, with your life and your heart, are always worthwhile. Big-hearted, genuine, and universal, I Almost Forgot About You shows what can happen when you face your fears, take a chance, and open yourself up to life, love, and the possibility of a new direction. It’s everything you’ve always loved about Terry McMillan.

SOURCE: Barnes and Nobles and

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