Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Hope on a tightrope*

Last week, I participated in a meeting of writers and a publishing house editor about what writers can do to promote our work as technology changes and we face even greater competition from other forms of entertainment.

All of us-writers, booksellers, editors, publicists-are more than a little nervous about what's happening in the world of books. And those of us who are Negro/colored/black/African-American/melanin-blessed even more so.

Here are some things that give me hope:

Confession: I have been jealous of other writers' success. Even with all the good fortune I have, I feel a little twinge when someone gets more publicity than I did/do or lands higher on a best-seller list. I'm not proud of it, but it's true. I suspect a lot of other writers feel that way too. Hey, we're only human. However, most of us put those feelings aside and still champion each other. That gives me an enormous amount of hope! Every time I see a writer tweet or blog about someone else's book (and they do it a lot!) my heart fills. As long as we writers understand that a rising tide lifts all boats, we will be just fine. For example, Bernice McFadden dedicated a recent issue of her newsletter to talking about other writers! She didn't have to do that. She's got a new book coming soon and she could have used her money to focus strictly on that. But she didn't. And that's a lovely, lovely thing. To thank her, please pre-order Glorious today! I already have.

Thank you to all of you who still read! Thank you blog readers who let me know that this blog has led you to writers you didn't know about! For example, I got this comment the other day:

"Dear Carleen,
I want to let you know this site worked for me. As a White woman, I've read quite a few of the famous-to-Whites Black authors, but due to your site I have bought works by several new authors I never would have heard of otherwise. I hope you will feel good about keeping up the outreach work. I'll post the link on my blog."

And recently there was this blog post about a reader who was happy to discover Victor LaValle's work.

Readers who point out what's still wrong with the system also give me hope. Though this blog post makes my head hurt, it's good to know there are people out there besides writers who give a damn.

Smart young people
Have y'all heard that Bloomsbury has to change yet another cover of one of their books? Yes, again, they put a white person on the cover of a book about a character described as dark-skinned (thanks Zetta for the clarification!). *Banging my head against my desk.* (And yes I know that doesn't help the already hurting head!) But what gives me hope is that Ari over at Reading in Color refused to let them get away with it. Ari, whose URL is blackteensread2, gives me lots and lots and lots of hope! Check out her blog for reading challenges, reviews and other good book-related stuff. You go Ari!!! I hope you rule the world one day! Also, if you're on Facebook, join Readers Against White Washing.

Marlon James' The Book of Night Women, which so many of you LOVED, has been nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award! (By the by, I found out about this when it was tweeted by author Julie Klam.)

Congratulations also to Attica Locke for her nomination for an Edgar Award, given by the Mystery Writers of America! (Thanks to the Happy Nappy Bookseller for letting me know!)

Organ donors wanted for anthology

In other news, a friend sent me this announcement:
Forest Hill Publishing is launching a book of stories from transplant survivors and donors of color. We are well aware that people of color represent a disproportionately high number of patients who need organ transplants—and die because they did not receive them—and a disproportionately low number of people who serve as organ and tissue donors. Our hope is that our book will inspire many more people of color to become donors and save lives. Information about the project is here

*today's blog title borrowed from Brother Cornel West


Robin Caldwell said...

Everyone should be as gracious as you and Bernice's book cover is glorious. Blessings, Carleen.

Zetta said...

You're definitely showing a lot of writers how it should be done by constantly shining the spotlight on other people, Carleen--this blog teaches me a lot! And just to clarify, the main character in Magic Under Glass isn't black--it's speculative fiction, so she IS described as "dark-skinned" and appears as a woman of color in the book trailer, but the author refuses to assign her a particular race...

Lafreya said...

You are a great writer and a wonderful cheerleader to many, many writers of all colors. You gave me so much hope when I thought there was just no way my book was ever to be published. Thank you. An this blog has touched and changed lives.

I can't wait to get a copy of Bernice's book. Off to go order it now.

Chris Eldin said...

"A rising tide lifts all boats." I just love that saying.
And your good spirits and positive energy are helping that tide.

Sustenance Scout said...

What goes around comes around, lady! I'm off to check out Marlon James' The Book of Night Women...and look forward to reading Bernice's book, too. Thanks (again!) for widening my reading horizons...K.

Demon Hunter said...

Thanks for sharing so much wonderful information as always, Carleen. ;-)

Chris Eldin said...

A quickie question: Are you going to be blogging or facebooking during your movie? I'm thinking of having some friends over and making it a party, and wanted to know if we could chat during commercial breaks...

Carleen Brice said...

Hey Chris, I will probably be Facebooking and Tweeting. I'll post all the deets on my personal blog closer to the movie date. Thanks for thinking about hosting a party! If you do, send me a picture. I'll enter you in my contest to win a gift basket full of goodies


Anonymous said...

Your website really makes a great difference for POC writers and readers such as myself. Thank you for your work and passion.

Bernice L. McFadden said...

This is what its all about - thank u! xoxo

MissAttitude said...

Thank you for the shoutout and link :) LOL I don't want to rule the world, there are far more competent people out there. Something tells me that even when I'm older I still won't have the temperament (i.e. impatient and sarcastic) of a leader.

I'm so glad your blog brings attention to black writers, that email you shared made me so happy!

Congrats to Alicia Locke and marlon James :)