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

Monday, January 18, 2010

We are one

In honor of the MLK holiday, in support of helping those in Haiti and to reinforce the message of this blog, I quote Martin Luther King, Jr.:

"We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly."

Peace everybody.

NOTE: This week's links are on the Facebook page.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A quick spin around the web

The NAACP Image Awards
were announced and the line-up looks great! I'm especially pleased to see Before I Forget nominated. Y'all know how I love that book.

Charles Johnson interview
The author of Middle Passage and winner of a MacArthur grant has a great conversation with The Root.

Breakout Book
Wench seems poised to break out of the pack! It's been in Essence and People and soon to be in O Magazine. Twitterers are tweeting rampantly about it.  I got my copy the other day and a quick peek turned into reading the first 2 chapters. I'm mad at you Dolen Perkins-Valdez for creating such an intriguing story! I need to finish Wildflowers before I crack open another book, and there's a couple other books in the queue. Luckily, Dolen's agreed to do a Q&A with me, so I have an excuse to move her book up the line. :) In the meantime, Tayari Jones has a blog post about the book.

More upcoming releases
Angela Benson, Marilyn Griffith and Tia McCollors have a collection of novellas about winning the lottery out next month called A Million Blessings. Who hasn't wondered what it would be like to hit the jackpot? But it might not be all it's cracked up to be.

Kayla Perrin has a romantic thriller Spring Break coming in March. Publishers Weekly says it builds a mood of "nail-biting suspense."

Support literary programs
The Literary Freedom project (which publishes Mosaic Literary Magazine) is seeking donations. (And here's their list of the best 6 books of 2009.

Color Online is discussing "art for art's sake" in their salon this week. They also seek books for their library. Here's their wish list. I have a stack of books I'm planning to send soon. Really!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

News and notes


Publishers Weekly has some great reviews of upcoming releases. Gonna be a big spring!

One is for Jabari Asim's A Taste of Honey: "Asim successfully delves into politics, domestic violence, racial identity, young love, and more in this humorous and poignant collection, although often the characters feel too rich for the format."

They also loved Uptown by Deberry and Grant: "DeBerry and Grant capture timely and increasingly universal themes with this dramatic, epic and often tragic story of triumph and failure."

Of Suzetta Perkins' Nothing Stays the Same, "This tight sequel to Ex-Terminator checks in on the fortunes of the “Ex-Files,” a group of friends who’ve helped each survive life after divorce."

Blonde Roots, a British parody of the slave trade by Bernardine Evaristo, hits the states this month. Here's a review.

Online chats
RAWSISTAZ have some great authors in the queue, including Darnella Ford on her latest novel Finding Me.

They're also celebrating the 10th Anniversary of Sugar online today. Congrats Bernice!!!

Interviews and blog posts

The Defenders Online talks with author Elizabeth Nunez about her novel Anna In-Between.

Tu Publishing's editor Stacy Whitman talks multicultural sci fi and fantasy for kids and YA.

A book reviewer calls for diversity in publishing in wake of Cybil Awards controversy. Check here for more from Black-eyed Susan on the topic of diversity in children's literature.

Ishmael Reed wonders what 2010 holds for black literature.

Contests and free books!
I'm holding a contest to promote the LMN movie "Sins of the Mother" based on my novel Orange Mint and Honey. Go here for more details.