I satisfy my cupcake jones at Cami Cakes in Buckhead whenever I visit Atlanta, Georgia.  Last Friday, I stood in line awaiting the taste of a Cami Classic Chocolate on Chocolate and a Banana Cream.  Hospitality is the custom of the south, so I said hello to the patrons who walked in behind me and refocused my attention to the mesmerizing display of goodies.  A tall, chestnut brown, salt-and-pepper gentleman with a melodious voice behind me asked, “What’s good here?”; I shared my favorites.  We exchanged light banter as the line moved along.  He inquired about a book attached to a decorative easel and the cashier explained that the owner’s nine-year-old-daughter had written the book. In unison, we marveled at her creativity.

 

After I paid for my items, salt-and-pepper explained he was a publisher and on the look-out for new authors. He introduced me to his graphic designer who cradled a nice camera. I told him my first book would be released next month.   After a few more questions, he congratulated me on having secured a deal with a major publisher and being “one of the few of thousands who never get through the gate.”   He suggested we collaborate on future projects.  That’s when she started.  She is my intuition. My first mind. My Inner Shaniqua (IS).   IS said, “Girl, something isn’t right about this man. I can’t put my finger on it, but get your cupcakes and go.”  Ignoring her, I followed him to a corner where he rifled through a messy wallet to give me a business card.  IS exclaimed, “See, he isn’t even organized.”  What really sent her over the moon was when he gave me a card touting a venture unrelated to publishing.  He crossed out one email address and replaced it with a publishing email address.  IS asked, “What did I tell you? You ‘gon learn today!”

 

I bid him farewell and he flashed a fatherly smile. Later that night, I was determined to prove IS wrong just once, so I Googled him.  I almost choked on my Banana Cream cupcake as I read articles and saw videos of salt-and-pepper’s victims.  Most were authors who had paid him thousands of dollars to publish their work.  They said after signing contracts and paying him, salt-and-pepper evaded them with excuses and lies. His grandiose promises left a bad taste with them. In some instances, the authors didn’t receive books at all.  Cases and judgments against him spanned a twenty-year period.  I felt badly for the authors whose dreams were dashed by this smooth, velvety voice trickster.  I also felt lucky that my first mind was on guard to steer me in the right direction. Again.

 

Always follow your first mind. It’s usually right.