Thursday, June 19, 2008

Vietnam Story

Hi everyone,

Just wanted to let you know the last chapter of Vietnam Story is now up on the google group. It will remain up in its entirety until the 30th. Thanks for sticking with me and I hope you enjoy!


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Today! June 14, 2008: Harlem Book Fair Roxbury at BPL--Dudley in Boston

Hi everyone,

If you are in the Boston area today and are feeling in a literary mood, I will be at the Harlem Book Fair Roxbury from 12-6PM at Boston Public Library--Dudley Branch (corner of Warren Street and Dudley Street). I will have copies of Being Plumville and a few of AJ's Serendipity. I hope to see you there!

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Theme in My Writing

Using duty to hide from dreams and desire. And not necessarily romantic or carnal desire, although that is very valid. Just the desire to do what you want to do--maybe what you were even born to do. Using your (perceived) duty to your family and community instead of fulfilling your own aspirations. And, getting all "academic" with this, these could be construed as very "middle-class" concepts, because those who have little to no leisure time can't afford to worry about dreams or desires. There's food to be put on the table; clothes to be put on backs; bodies to remain living in safe (or as safe as possible) dwellings. Yet, it doesn't matter what class, what race, what gender--people have dreams and desires, and I think everyone should have the opportunity to reach them.

I could stretch it further and say the above is also a "white middle-class" concept, and especially "white male middle-class" concept. In this society, women of color have had the least opportunity to fulfill either in any real way. And because I am a black woman, that is my basis and frame of experience. That is what I write, that is also with what I struggle in my own daily life. Responsibility, duty, has always been at the fore--and often to the point of allowing someone else the opportunity to achieve those dreams and desires. Family is big; community is big; not being "selfish" is something taught time and time again.

Selfish. That's a tricky word, a loaded word. Oftentimes, an unfair word. Many of my characters struggled with perceived selfish behavior versus doing something or being with someone who makes them happy. I struggle with that word, with that perception, as I do this writing thing. I'm the type of person where it's so hard for me to say no to a request, that duty or what I "should do" for others almost always can trump what I need/want/should do for myself.

Black women are rarely told it's okay to "do you". Do for others yes, always, definitely, but do you? Do for you? No . . . So many of my heroines are struggling with this, and I try to surround them with people who will give them the courage to "do them"--not just their hero--
but their best friends; their sisters; their brothers. LJ in Being Plumville is definitely and example of that person, and I hadn't planned on him being that, but I'm glad he was. Samara struggles with that regarding whether she would take a chance with AJ in AJ's Serendipity; and in her case, AJ was the one to help her make her ultimate decision.

I've used the phrase "hiding behind 'x'" in many of my manuscripts, not even realizing it until just now (as I'm working on yet another story lol), but instead of removing it, I'm keeping it, because it's real. To get to that point where you can "do you", and not to the detriment of others, is truly liberating, I think. You can't give your all if part of you is tethered to the ground. We have to allow ourselves to soar.

And once we do, don't apologize for doing it. I'm still working on that, but to see my characters get to that point, or at least get closer to that point, definitely helps.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

This Weekend and on the Radio Again

First, tomorrow I will be featured on Black Authors Network Radio on June 9, 2008 at 8 PM EST. I hope you can tune in! I'm sure there will be a link to listen to it if you can't make it, so I'll put it up when it becomes available.

On Saturday, I spoke at the Roxbury Action Program's Luncheon for the Harlem Book Fair. It was me and two other writers--poets-Alicia Jefferson and Vasco Pires. It was wonderful to listen to their poetry. Very much along the vein of poetry I write (or used to . . . haven't written poetry in a hot minute). Afro-centric, empowering, talking about things we don't like to talk about. Alicia spoke about how it took her 35 years (her age) to accept and receive one particular poem she wrote, and it was a heavy one talking about all the psychic traumas young black children carry with them, and how those traumas manifest into destructive behavior. Vasco Pires spoke about Eurocentric standard of beauty and how that affects, particularly, the black woman's perception of beauty, and he celebrated Black beauty and talked about how much stronger black people are than we give ourselves credit for, because we often see ourselves in the stereotypes corporate media perpetrates. Deep. I loved it.

I was the second person to speak, and for the first time ever I actually read from my Being Plumville for an audience. I could've chosen so many scenes with Coralee and Benjamin, as they are the main characters. I chose the scene with LJ and Coralee, when he's talking about his experience in Vietnam. I'm glad I chose that scene, and apparently so did the audience because I got a great reception. Not that I didn't expect to be well received, but the audience really wanted to hear what I had to say, what my thought process was, how I wrote this novel. Similar experience to the one I had at RSJ, actually, and while I was more confident here than I was at RSJ, I still was a bit nervous about speaking and sharing my thoughts, especially when I thought with this audience, even less had heard about me than at RSJ. But it was wonderful. One man seemed very excited (I was too, because he's from Oxford, MS, and of course Vietnam Story is set there, so I will have a chance to pick his brain a little). I also met another author who writes fro Kensington. She said she was impressed with me, and I said, I want to be where she is! The mutual respect for each other is wonderful.

The actual Harlem Book Fair Roxbury is the 14th from 12-6 Warren Street (starting at Dudley & Warren) in Boston. Lots of amazing talent will be there!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Romance in Color Rising Star

I have been deemed a Rising Star at Romance in Color for the month of June. Holla! Check out my interview here and the review of Being Plumville here.