Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Giveaway Day 1: Win Gathering of Waters!

Gathering of Waters is the latest from Bernice McFadden. Dennis Lehane, author of Mystic River, said of it: "As strange as this may sound, Bernice L. McFadden has created a magical, fantastic novel centered around the notorious tragedy of Emmett Till's murder. This is a startling, beautifully written piece of work."

Bernice has offered to give a signed copy to one lucky blog reader! All you have to do to enter is leave a comment below. Using Random.org, I'll pick a winner. One entry per person. All comments left before midnight Eastern will be eligible to win. The winner will be announced tomorrow. If you don't win, you're free to enter the next day. Good luck! Come back tomorrow to enter for a copy of Creatures Here Below by O.H. Bennett.

Bernice's tour kicks off this week. Check out this video of her reading from the first chapter.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Giveaway Week!

The discussions about how books are marketed according to race, gender, genre, etc. continue, but frankly dear reader, I'm tired of talking about it. I believe I've said what I have to say on the matter. I was gratified to see a commenter on a blog post about NPR reviewing more books by men than women mention this blog. To her, I say a big fat thank you! To all of you who keep coming here scouting for new books to read, I say a big fat thank you!

I'll keep doing my best to point you toward good books. This week I'm happy to say I can go one better than just mentioning books. I'm going to give some away! Four to be exact. All the deets are below.


On Tuesday, January 31st, you could win an autographed copy of Gathering of Waters by Bernice McFadden, which, ironically, was recently glowingly reviewed on NPR.

On Wednesday, February 1st, you could win Creatures Here Below, by O.H. Bennett (supplied by Agate Bolden). Publishers Weekly said, "In his third novel, Bennett (The Lie) brings an African-American community to vivid life with strong and compelling characters and narrative themes to match—growing up, the struggles of parenthood and young adulthood, the responsibilities we all have to each other as people....Bennett handles the multiple plot lines with grace and skill, and readers will appreciate the subtle growth of the characters, as well as the diverse array of experience."

On Thursday, February 2nd, you could win an autographed copy of Keeping Secrets, Telling Lies by Trice Hickman. Originally self-published, it's now being reissued by Kensington. APOOO Book Club said,"Keeping Secrets & Telling Lies, is filled with interesting, three-dimensional characters and a juicy, thought-provoking storyline that explores issues of race, racial identity, class, and fidelity. This book will have you discussing it long after the story ends!"

On Friday, February 3rd, you could win a copy of Panther Baby, a memoir by Jamal Joseph (supplied by Algonquin Books). It'll be released on February 7th. Publishers Weekly called it "spirited," "well-honed" and called Joseph a "fine storyteller." You can read an excerpt here.


Leave a comment on the post of the day of the book you wish to win. Comments left before 10 p.m. Mountain/9 p.m. Pacific/11 p.m. Central/Midnight Eastern will be considered. Winners will be chosen at random and announced the following day. Only one entry per day, please. A person can only win one book. If you don't win the first day you enter, you are welcome to try on another day for a different book. Questions? Leave them in the comments here.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

African American Read In

The 23rd National African American Read In starts in February. It's an effort designed to encourage people to read and discuss books by black authors.

Three book bloggers (Vasilly, Doret, who shared this info with me, and Edi) are hosting an online version on February 22nd. There's a poll up now to vote on what book they will read and chat about. You can vote at Vasilly's site. The winning book will be announced Monday, January 30th.

Friday, January 13, 2012

News and notes

Happy Friday the 13th everyone! Over the course of the week I've picked up a few interesting bits of news from the internets and decided to share them.

A group of YA and kids' books bloggers I respect and admire have started a movement to get people to buy diverse books as birthday gifts for the young folks in our lives. The mission is to encourage a new generation of readers. Have you taken the Birthday Party Pledge yet?

TODAY ONLY, download a FREE ebook of Creatures Here Below by O.H. Bennett from publisher Agate Bolden. It's a really good novel, well worth the money, so to get it for free is really special. Hopefully, this kind of marketing will help it get some well-deserved attention. Download it today and help spread the word. (Watch this blog for a Q&A with Bennett soon.)

ReShonda Tate Billingsley and Victoria Christopher Murray have joined forces with a book just released this week featuring the heroines of their respective series. Sinners and Saints promises to be a fun read, especially if you enjoy Christian fiction. Or if you, like me, enjoy the shenanigans on "The Real Housewives" (Can a "Real Pastors Wives" be far off?). The two are on tour and may be coming to a book store near you!

Hat tip to Connie Briscoe for pointing me to this article on HuffPo about how books are segmented by genre, race, gender and class.

I had not heard of The Book Look online show, until Dolen Perkins-Valdez posted this on Facebook.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Meet: Jacqueline Luckett, author of Passing Love

Our first "White Readers Meet" Q&A of 2012 is with Jacqueline Luckett, author of Searching for Tina Turner. She's here to tell us about her new book Passing Love, which getting lots of other good buzz! The glowing Publisher's Weekly review called it "a dreamy and lyrical paean to all things French..."


Passing Love hits stores (and e-readers) January 25th. But Jackie is offering WRMBA readers an incentive to pre-order. She's going to send a lovely journal to the first 10 people who pre-order and email proof of receipt to info AT jacquelineluckett DOT com!

Passing Love is a story about a woman who has had a lifelong dream to go to Paris. She goes and discovers more than she imagine. Win one of the free journals and use it to reflect on your own life and dreams.

On to the Q&A with Jackie:

White Readers Meet Black Authors: Tell us about your new book. What's the plot? Who are the characters?

Jacqueline Luckett: The new novel is titled PASSING LOVE. It’s quite different from Searching for Tina Turner, and I hope that readers will enjoy. The story alternates between two very different women. Publisher’s Weekly wrote a lovely review. The novel will be a Good Housekeeping February Book Pick.

Moving back and forth in time between the sparkling Paris of today and the jazz-fueled city filled with expatriates in the 1950s, PASSING LOVE is the story of two women dealing with lost love, secrets, and betrayal and how the City of Light may hold all of the answers.

In the present day, Nichole-Marie Handy has loved all things French since she was a child. After the death of her best friend, determined to get out of her rut, she goes to Paris, leaving behind a marriage proposal. Ruby Mae Garrett lives in rural Mississippi in the late 1940s. Ruby believes that she is destined for a big life, and she’s determined to make sure that happens.

"Without fail, each woman had (or was forced) to decide what came next. The only way to figure that out is to take a journey to self. We have to re-discover ourselves, make choices about what comes next, re-invent who we are, and move forward. A hero’s journey is the crux of a good story. I like to show that an emotional journey is just as interesting as a physical one."

WRMBA: Why France? You wrote about it some in Searching for Tina Turner, and now more in Passing Love. Were you French in a past life?

JL: Good question. I’m not sure where the fascination comes from. It’s been a part of me my whole life. My father was in the Army and spent some time in France. The only thing I recall him telling me about his time in France was that the French treated the black American soldiers better than their own countrymen. Both my sister and I have French names, so I figure that something rubbed off on him.

It wasn’t my intention to write about France in Searching for Tina Turner, but once I discovered that she makes her home in the South of France, my character had to go there.

My original idea for PASSING LOVE was to write about an American woman who wanted to make a change in her life and live abroad. Since I was so familiar with France and had spent time in Paris—I decided to write about what I knew. That’s what all the books tell us to do. So, Paris was my logical choice for an ex-pat.

The story changed, as your readers will find out, but it all takes place in Paris.

I once asked a psychic why she thought I was so fascinated with France. She told me that in a past life I was French royalty. Hmmm. I didn't take much stock in her reading, though it does make sense if you believe that we have past lives. Her theory was that I had unfinished business. You could say that I’m taking care of that business in this life.

I studied French in high school, a couple of years in college and now I take weekly lessons. I can understand and make myself understand when I’m in France. I’ve traveled to France several times, and I feel comfortable there. It’s weird, but I learned long ago to roll with it. And look what it’s done for me!

WRMBA: You seem to write a lot about women finding themselves. Why do you think that is?

JL: I want my characters to mirror real life, and “finding” is what all of us will have to do at some point in our lives.

When I first started writing Searching for Tina Turner, I was lost. I mean that in the emotional sense, of course. I still had a home, friends, and my mother lives in a nearby city. I’d just gotten divorced. After all the “dust” settled, I was determined to make a new life for myself.

It took a while to figure out my direction and it occurred to me that other women were probably on the same emotional roller coaster. I spoke to quite a few women who were divorced or in the middle of one. Most were baby boomers with “empty nests.” They all described this feeling of being lost. Disconnected might be a better word. Some of those feelings came from no longer being grounded by children; some from having to start all over again in midlife. I’ve only known of one woman who supposedly planned out her departure from her marriage, but I’m sure she still had to take this same journey to self.

In most cases, divorce, and the lifestyle change, was unexpected. Without fail, each woman had (or was forced) to decide what came next. The only way to figure that out is to take a journey to self. We have to re-discover ourselves, make choices about what comes next, re-invent who we are, and move forward. A hero’s journey is the crux of a good story. I like to show that an emotional journey is just as interesting as a physical one.

WRMBA: You know a bit about wines, I believe. What type of wine(s) would you recommend to readers to enjoy as they read Passing Love?

JL: This is my all time favorite question!

I enjoy wine and recently took a Wine Tasting class to refresh my skills and expand my interest in European wines. Besides champagne (only the French can use this appellation) and sparkling wines (describes the bubbly from any other country), California wines remain my favorite. Frankly, I’m torn. For white wines, I love robust, creamy Chardonnays with a lot of oak. Full-bodied, fruity cabernets, merlots, and zinfandels are my favorite reds, in that order.

At the beginning of PASSING LOVE, Nicole pulls out a bottle of 100-year-old tequila to celebrate her trip. In Paris, she’s introduced to red wine. Ruby doesn’t drink; she’s in love with strong French coffee with lots of milk.

I suggest a combo. A nice shot of your favorite tequila—and a good one is smooth and worth sipping. Since the first two chapters introduce Ruby and Nicole, tequila works well. Then I’d switch to a nice Chardonnay for the rest of the book. Switch to a cabernet when Nicole does.

Finish with a glass of your favorite bubbly—that’s what I intend to do!

WRMBA: What's next for you?

JL: I’ve got several ideas brewing that I want to turn into reality. Novel number three, for sure. (This book will not even have the word Paris in it, but my fingers are crossed behind my back.) I sketched a lot of scenes in a frenzied month-long NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) writing spree.

A few readers have asked about a sequel to Searching for Tina Turner, but unless there’s a lot of demand, I don’t expect to write one (never say never, right?). I’d like to see the novel turned into a movie or a Broadway musical. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for either one of those dreams to come true.

This past summer, I took a class at Berkeley Repertory Theater and wrote a one-act play. At the end of the class, we staged public readings in front of a small group of my friends. It was exciting to hear my words read out loud. I’m going to look for theaters and try to get the play produced.

I have an idea for a screenplay that I’ll probably outline in 2012.

So, I have a lot of ideas. What’s next? Implementation. And maybe, Paris.

WRMBA: What's the best book (or who’s the best writer) that not enough people know about?

JL: Best is hard to say, because I’ve read so many beautiful books by authors well- and little-known. Dianne McKinney-Whetstone is a writer I love. Though she’s received a lot of awards, few people I speak to seem to know her work. I’ve read four of her five novels and loved them all. She lives in Philadelphia and her novels take place there.

McKinney-Whetstone inspired me. Before I started writing, I read an article of how she worked full-time and managed her family, then wrote in the wee hours at her kitchen table. I’m not sure if the story is true, but as a working mother, it gave me hope.

She may be better known than I think, but I haven't seen anything new from her in a while. I checked her website and I see she teaches at the University of Pennsylvania. I don’t see a new novel listed. I wonder if she’s writing.

If I could mention another author, it would be Emily Raboteau (The Professor’s Daughter).

Thanks, Carleen for this opportunity.

WRMBA: You're very welcome! Thank you for telling my readers a little about you and your work!