Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Please join me in congratulating....

Victor LaValle, author of Big Machine who recently announced the birth of son Geronimo!

Tayari Jones, who's Silver Sparrow, out NOW, is getting great reviews and is a June Indie Next Pick!

Bernice McFadden because Alfre Woodard won an award for Solo Narration-Female at last night's Audies for reading Glorious!

Who else has happy news to share? Let us know in the comments.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Winner, winner chicken dinner!

Congratulations to Beth Anne Mandia and JaPulp! You each won a copy of Snitch by Booker T. Mattison! Email me your snail mail info so Booker's publisher can send you a book.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Happy 20th Anniversary to the Go On Girl Book Club!

This Saturday the Go On Girl Book Club celebrates their 20th anniversary! That's 20 years of supporting black authors. From the bottom of my heart (and my cat's, who meows at the end of the video), I thank you!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Another give-away!

Coming in August. Available now for pre-order.
Kimberly Reid, author of the upcoming "Chanti on the Case" series of YA detective novels, is giving away an iPod Shuffle if you can correctly give the answer to her literary trivia question. Go to her blog The Hot Sheet to enter the contest.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Win Snitch!

What would you do? That's the big question that comes to mind about Booker T. Mattison's Snitch. The synopsis:

Leave a comment to win a copy!
On the streets of Jersey City there is a simple code. You don’t talk to the cops. You don’t snitch. Period. But when young bus driver Andre Bolden witnesses a crime on his route, he is compelled to make a choice. If he keeps silent, he might lose his job and be gnawed by his conscience. If he snitches, he could lose his family—even his life.

This explosive story explores the clash between a working man and the code of the street. Gifted storyteller Booker T. Mattison has crafted a realistic tale full of tension and raw suspense yet infused with spiritual truth. Snitch rewrites the rule to mind your own business, peers into the hearts of those who seek revenge and redemption, and celebrates the ability of a community to triumph over violence and intimidation.

When I posted the trailer, so many of you watched it, it caught Booker's attention. To say thank you to my blog readers, he's offering 2 free copies of Snitch!

If you want one, leave a comment below by Monday, May 23rd at 5 pm MST. I'll use the randomizer to select our 2 winners. Good luck!

Go to his site to read an excerpt or see the trailer if you missed it last time.  Go here to read the Starred Review in Publisher's Weekly!

Follow Booker on Twitter.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

White audiences meet black movie actors

AlterNet has a story up today about a study suggesting that the more black people there are in a movie, the less white people think the movie is for them.

Sound familiar?

The good news is the researcher says, "The perception that 'this movie is not for me' could be changed 'if more mainstream movies cast minorities,' he writes. If multiracial casts became the norm and movies were marketed to all demographics, the stigma could fade away."

Again, sound familiar? The issue has a chicken-egg feel. Did audiences start feeling this way because that's how Hollywood marketed to them? Or does Hollywood market that way because that's how audiences feel?

I'd like to state that, as with books, there are stories that are definitely intended more for one audience over another. But it feels like there's a huge lack of empathetic imagination on the part of some white people who don't seem to see that stories that feature nonwhite characters are still about humans, and are, therefore, still relevant to them.

Read the whole article here.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Guest blog post by Lorene Cary

“Time to Write: The making of If Sons, Then Heirs”

At the end of my first book, Black Ice, a memoir, I wrote that I’d “been given my stories…” Since then, I’ve felt as if I were driven internally to grow into them, from the Underground Railroad stories that I understood better once I myself had children, and now the lynching stories that sound rumbling depth charges underneath the present action of my new novel, If Sons, Then Heirs. Understand, actually, is the wrong word. Rather, it feels as if the stories force their way into books. They wait, like tiny shelled creatures, until marriage and children, business, grief, failure, and love soften me into a suitable environment for their expression. Then it’s time to write.

I remember hearing about lynching first when I was a very little girl. It had no name, and no certainty, so that for years, I doubted that I’d heard it at all, or that I’d heard correctly, or that what I’d heard was true. My grandmother and mother and aunts were talking about my great-grandmother’s first husband. His family lived near Chadds Ford, PA; Grandmom, who was from Buffalo, married him at 16. Three years later he went to a state or county fair, ran into “some trouble” with young white men, and never came home. Grandmom was left a 19-year-old pregnant widow.

In high school and again in college I read Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases, and A Red Record. I was conscious of using the anti-lynching activist, journalist, and newspaper owner Ida B. Wells-Barnett as a model and adopted ancestor. I thought it brilliant of her to use only those cases that were already documented in the mainstream press, so that no one in power could deny or refute the God-awful facts and narratives she presented.

Would make a great Mother's Day gift!
But the story that stayed in me, as if it had been given to me to grow into, was of a young man lynched—and another young man who came up before the lynch mob to try to stop it. This was a story, to paraphrase historian Vincent Harding, to use as a text to teach and learn activism.

I saw it in a terrible loop video that demanded expression. Finally, now that my stepson’s children are their own wonderful young characters, our older daughter has grown up and moved out, now that I’ve run a business for twelve years, cared for elderly relatives, watched dear young men go to jail and die, inherited property, as well as emotional debt, and written my own will, I can finally write a fictional version of this story that wouldn’t leave me. My characters hear it, tell it, and argue about telling it to their grandchildren:

Over the years the story had cooked inside Rayne’s head, helped by the comments of the few people he’d ever told. You don’t bring it out too often.
But, wait. Here come the miracle. My Lord!

Jones held in his voice the exact hopeful reverence of sharecroppers who’d shared the news with him. They’d get to this part of the story and shake their heads—and this is what I want you to know, too, Jones says, referring to Selma’s silence, because if Rayne didn’t know the first part, then he couldn’t know the miracle: that when the mob had done as much as you can do to a human being and him still be alive, a man pushed his way through the crowd, crazy as they were by now, crazy-mad with liquor and the terrible intoxication of blood—a colored man elbowed his way to the front and begged for the boy’s life.

That was the part everyone repeated: And then, do Jesus, a black man come up in front of them.

And it didn’t matter whether the listeners had heard the story before. They told it again, just as Jones told Rayne, and Rayne told his construction partner and later Lillie, because it remained a mystery. And because everyone wanted to know this and to learn, as Jones learned, what was possible.
Jones’s words, present tense, because heroism exists outside of time: “He stands beside the boy’s body, tied by now so that it won’t fall flat. This black man says—listen what he say standing in front of all these crazy, drunk-up white people—he says: ‘For God’s sake, don’t finish this, please. Whatever you meant to teach him this boy has surely learnt. And he’ll never be good for nothin now anyway. Please, for pity’s sake, just lemme take’im down. Lemme take’im home.’”

Where had he come from, this man who appeared like the black face of God speaking mercy?

The outrageousness of it would not be suppressed. It leached from between the rocks, seeped into the streams, soaked into the swamps. Finally, it ran in the papers, so they couldn’t say it didn’t happen. Jones was sure that Rayne could find it in the records, and one day, sure enough, he looked it up on the Internet.

From Ida B. Wells’s turn-of-the last century writings to the mind of a 21st century fictional character: these stories are as tough as those fairy shrimp whose eggs wait until heavy rains flood their pond. Then they come out, reproduce—and lay new eggs for the next generation.

Learn more on Lorene Cary's website. Follow her on Twitter.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Merry Month of May Round Up

I've been busy writing up a storm, so I haven't had a chance to really put a blog post together. Plus, I'm waiting to hear back from an author for an upcoming Q&A. In the meantime, here is a round up of some bookish stuff going on.

Children's Book Week
My handy dandy calendar tells me this is Children's Book Week. If you're looking for children's books with black characters, check out The Brown Bookshelf and The Happy Nappy Bookseller.

More new and upcoming releases
Since I posted a list of books I was looking forward to this spring, I've heard of more! Including Danzy Senna's new one You Are Free.

And somehow I left Hurricane, Jewell Parker Rhodes' latest off my original list, when I knew about it because I read an advance copy, which she autographed for me! It's about Dr. Marie Lavant descendant of the great Voodoo priestess Marie Laveau and, as the title suggests, is set in Louisiana immediately before and during Katrina.

Bernice McFadden is releasing a new edition of her novel The Warmest December. The new version has a forward written by James Frey. You can pre-order it now! Bernice is also raising money to attend a once-in-a-lifetime writing residency in Egypt. If you'd like to donate, go here.

Connie Briscoe's Money Can't Buy Love is one I can't wait to read. Most of us have fantasized about what we'd do if we won the lottery. Sounds like this story will make readers think again.

Booker T. Mattison's newest (out May 3) is called Snitch. Read it now before it's a movie!

"Snitch" Book Trailer from Booker T Mattison on Vimeo.

Terra Little's Jump is about a young woman from what you could call a really dysfunctional family (she shoots her grandmother!). You can read an excerpt here.

Kwei Quartey, author of Wife of the Gods, has a new thriller coming this summer called Children of the Street. This one sounds worth pre-ordering too. Michael Connelly says, "Kwei Quartey does what all the best storytellers do. He takes you to a world you have never seen and makes it as real to you as your own backyard. In Children of the Street he brings a story that is searing and original and done just right. Inspector Darko Dawson is relentless and I look forward to riding with him again."

Clarence Young sent me a funny email. I haven't read his book Neon Lights (a satire of urban lit), but if it's as funny as his email, then it's worth way more than the $2.99 download price.

Debut authors

Toni Meyer has a new novel called One Thing She Knew, which I've heard good things about.

Darlyne Baugh has one of the best titles I've heard recently: Black Girl @ the Gay Channel. Yep, she used to work for Logo. This one sounds fun!

Mother's Day
If you're on Twitter, use the #books4mothersday hash tag to Tweet your suggestions for Mother's Day presents. A few past suggestions from this blog are here.

If you're on Facebook, I'm holding a contest. You could win a $50 gift card for books!