To the Beautiful Black Girl on the Boardwalk

To the Beautiful Black Girl on the Boardwalk

You were the Queen of the Boardwalk that night and I wish I could have taken your picture, blasted it all over the internet, and declared to the world that we need more role models like you.

On Saturday, July 30, 2011, my daughter attended a fundraiser in Seaside Heights for her sorority. I came along for the trip to spend time at the beach while she was doing her thing. We were looking for the restaurant in which the function was to be held, then parked the car and walked into a Laundromat on Boulevard to ask for directions. Suddenly my daughter turned on her heels and ran out, mumbling under her breath: “They’re here, they’re here.”

I followed her and asked: “Who’s here? Your sorority?”

“No, the Jersey Shore cast. I saw Vinnie and J-Woww.”

I looked back inside and saw a camera team, filming Snooky and the others doing laundry. My daughter refused to bother them. “Just leave them alone, Mom,” she said. So we did.

Later, after I swam, read, ate, and napped on the beach, I hung around the boardwalk. It was crowded of course, as you would expect it to be on a beautiful summer evening. I took pictures of the pink sunset when I heard a commotion behind me.

Cameras, lights, security guards, and police surrounded three guys from the reality show “Jersey Shore”, namely Ronnie, Vinnie and Pauly D, as they passed a few feet from me. People dropped what they were doing and followed these three heroes to wherever they were going.

You know how it is: screaming and shouting and taking pictures and calling friends. One I think fainted. Despite my aversion for the show, I am a sucker for celebrity pics and I happily joined the chase and took my share of pictures.  Things eventually returned to normal and that’s when I saw her.

She was young, in her early twenties, and very large. She wore a tasteful outfit that covered up the important parts, but not by too much. She didn’t feel the need to hide her body. The expression on her gorgeous face was so content and happy that it made you stare. She pranced down that boardwalk like a model on a catwalk and didn’t give a hoot about her size. Where was her camera team, following this wonderful person around? Why did the people not cheer for her and her attitude about life? She had more charisma than the three short guys who didn’t acknowledge their fans once.

Young girl, whoever you are, keep strutting your beauty and encourage us who hate life when we are a few pounds overweight or sprout a pimple on our noses. If you can celebrate life today, the way you are right now, with all your faults and imperfections, your true beauty shines through. The one that is not imposed on us by shallow commercials, but the one that springs from the well of really knowing who you are and what you are worth.

I want you to meet Stella in “Immortal Link” and

NY Agent Alexandra Machinist nailed it!

Ms. Machinist told me straight out in one of our “Meet the agent” workshops hosted by the Liberty States Fiction Writers that I write Boy Emotion.

When you read my YA novel “Immortal Link” and even my crazy (not for teens) book “The Wiener Diaries,” you notice it right away; boy emotion weaves liberally throughout the plot. As a matter of fact, boys who cry and let their feelings out makes the story more rewarding.

Why shouldn’t males cry, or be sentimental sometimes? Their lives suck just as much as the girls’. You don’t want to hang out with a rock. True, it can be awkward to have a boy break down and you don’t know what to do for him, so just put your arm around his shoulders and let him finish. If nothing else, he is giving you a glimpse into a usually buried realm that nevertheless exists.

When Catholine Kennan listens to her brother Charlie’s tearful confession under the staircase in the middle of the night, she distracts herself with a kitten so she wouldn’t just sit there wondering for both of them whether she should hug him or let him get it out without unnecessary interruption. What he tells her during that intimate moment is what my readers rave about in their fan mail. If I would have Charlie deliver his dilemma via a tough-guy rendition, the effect would be ruined. The key moment would lose its impact.

Same with ueberresponsible Louis who thinks he has to carry his and his siblings problems on his shoulders alone to spare their mother more upset after their father left. When his softer side finally breaks through, it makes him incredibly endearing.

And that’s what I get the fan letters for: The scene under the staircase, Louis’s breakdown, Charlie’s scare on top of the gorge. Oh my gosh, Mrs. Burke, I love Immortal Link. Please write more books! My youngest fan is 12 and doesn’t have a facebook account yet, so she emails me. The funny thing is, I get fan mail from the mothers as well: Couldn’t put your book down, devoured it from cover to cover, Charlie is my favorite, I loved Penny (I let you find out who Penny is), and just wait until you meet Stella…talk about a surprise. I’ve heard of people reading my book in jail, on a flight to China, in Germany, Ireland, and all over the U.S. One is a nun, the other an inmate, and they all rave about it.

But Charlie and Louis, who try to help their younger sister through the aftermath of a rape, are real, red-blooded young men who run the gamut of emotion.

And that’s why my stories dig deep.

You can find “Immortal Link – You hurt me, I’ll hurt you more” by Uta Burke on and Kindle

By the way, isn’t the name Alexandra Machinist so cool? It sounds like a musical or the heroine of a great book.

Paranormal Revenge – The making of Immortal Link

One evening in March 2010, I sat down to write what became Chapter 3 of “Immortal Link.” It was like an urge to get the true story of a young girl who was raped in her bedroom by one of her brothers’ friends out in the open. I only knew that it happened and that the siblings never told anyone about it. Years later, the mother found out from a counselor, who said that the act of keeping such a traumatic event secret and to take care of their younger sister was superhuman.

Once the chapter was written I started thinking about a setting. The next evening I watched a documentary about the town of Jim Thorpe, PA and its Old Jail museum. When I heard about the famous handprint in cell# 17, I took notes. Further research got me hooked on the location and its incredible history. I had my setting. Since it was only a two-hour drive away, I went to visit to see it for myself. That’s when something crazy happened: The setting took over and completely changed the direction of my novel. Trusting the spirits of the Old Jail, I followed their leads which I discovered through research and oral stories. All I had to do was to write it down. When the first draft was finished, I knew I had a story so rich and incredible that I couldn’t have done it alone.

I am sure you will be as surprised as I was while reading “Immortal Link.” Let me know what you think.

You can reach me at

For an excellent site about Jim Thorpe, the greatest athlete who ever lived: