Martha Southgate is the author of four novels, most recently Third Girl From the Left (one of my all-time favorites, a love letter to the movies, and these glowing reviews tell why). Her new novel will be published by Algonquin Books in 2011.
If you haven't read Third Girl From the Left I envy you because you are in for a treat! Leave Martha a comment below and maybe you'll win a signed copy. If you don't, run, don't walk, to your nearest book store or device and buy it. Actually, go get it now anyway. If you end up winning another copy, you can give away the one you bought. Martha is also one of the co-founders of ringShout, a place for black literature. Check out that blog and also her guest post below on writing and reading:
The past year, I’ve been working the first full-time day job that I’ve had in many years (I know, I know, I’ve been lucky that I haven’t had to do that sooner). The hours are not oppressive and there is no Blackberry involved but still, I’ve had trouble getting my new novel started. My wish for the new year for myself--and for any writers out there who are facing the same dilemma—is time, discipline and kindness to ourselves. Do what you can and do make a schedule for writing that you stick to as much as possible (I gotta get on that myself). But don’t hate yourself when you fall off course. Just get going again.
On a related note, I believe it’s as important to keep reading as it is to write. Whenever I meet a “writer” who says they don’t have time to read, frankly, I dismiss them out of hand. If you don’t read, you can’t write. Period. And for those of you who are readers alone: thank you. We couldn’t make it without you. So for all the readers and writers out there, here are three of my favorite books by black authors that were published this year:
God Says No by James Hannaham. This first novel is the story, both touching and hilarious, of Gary Gray, a staunch fundamentalist Christian with one big problem. He's gay. The story of how he fights it (unsuccessfully) is one of the most original of the year.
Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self by Danielle Evans This young writer has received plenty of attention for this first collection of stories--and she deserves it. These stories rock! Read 'em yourself and see.
[Carleen here: Ron Charles, the Washington Post books editor, reviews Evans' collection and has an interesting discussion (with himself) about who should review black authors.]
Substitute Me by Lori Tharps. Read this one with your book club and watch the sparks fly. This is pop fiction with some heavy themes about race, class, and what happens when rearing your own child becomes something you outsource.
Whatever holiday(s) you celebrate--celebrate them with a book! And, as Tiny Tim once said," God bless us, every one."