Sunday, May 22, 2011

My 28th Born Day

Today is my birthday. I went out and had breakfast at the Cracker Barrel by myself, and got a phone call from my grandmother’s cousin while I was there. Then I went grocery shopping because the world didn’t end as I was promised, and I bought myself a birthday cheesecake—the cashier wished me a happy birthday. After that, I was at home and did some reading and hung out on the Internet, but I was also answering the most Facebook birthday greetings I’d ever received thus far and spoke with my sister and my father and my friends. I went to dinner at IHOP because the Chinese place where I wanted to eat didn’t deliver and the woman hung up on me after she told me! Then came back home and spoke to more relatives.

All this to say, I spent my birthday alone, but the universe didn’t dare allow me to be lonely. It was a good birthday. J

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Beautiful Bana

In this society, physical attractiveness is the foundational criterion to determine someone’s self-worth; the more attractive one is, the more one is likely to be identified with positive markers, such as “goodness”, “Intelligence”, “leadership”, etc. It is for this reason that prospective parents are often teased by people praying the baby takes after the more attractive side of the family or thinking a comment of “the baby is so precious” instead of “cute” could be grounds for ending friendships.

For the majority of this society, the standard of physical attractiveness is Western European Beauty. We’re taught it from childhood with fairy tales and it is reinforced with the majority of television shows and movies that are produced this year. Even the English language, the primary language spoken in this society, has codified color terms, in which white is pureness and good and black is dirty and evil. Therefore, there’s no wonder why you get a documentary like this:



Now, as for my journey…

- My mother didn’t let me play with white Barbies, let alone own one. I’d wanted one, though; not because the doll was white, but because the doll came with the accessories I needed to continue playing with my black dolls, and I couldn’t understand why my mother couldn’t understand that. But she did—the white doll was more expensive because it had more value, and that wasn’t just monetary, either.

- Of all the childhood games my sister and I played, I don’t ever recall playing “Princess”; maybe this is because we didn’t think, subconsciously, princesses could be black. We played the hell out of “Shipwreck” and “Pirates”, though.

- My mother was my first standard of beauty, and she still is. Apparently, she was also a lot of men’s, too, and still is. But that standard was rarely reflected on TV and in movies, and she died when I was nine.

- My first “One True Pairing” (OTP) was Heathcliff and Clair Huxtable. My second was Dwayne and Whitley Wayne.

- I had my very first white friend in first grade when I went to Catholic school (from pre-K–5th grade I’d attended a black school save the first grade). She was blonde and blue-eyed and looked like she came right out of a fairy tale, like Cinderella before she grew up. We only hung out in the parking lot of the school at the end of the day while our mothers chit-chatted, and never went to each other’s houses like I did with my other black friends. I never saw her again when I left that school.

- I was first touched inappropriately when I was in third grade, except I didn’t know it other than I was confused why my classmate kept trying to stick his hands between my legs. My mother marched down to that as if she had the hounds of hell on leads. The boy didn’t return for fourth grade.

- I first remember being sexualized when I was in fifth grade, because my booty was the first to transform from a child’s shape to a woman’s. “Baby Got Back” became my theme song and I hated it. I was still a child; that song was entirely inappropriate for any of us to be singing at the ages of 9–11, but that was the first realization that this society doesn’t treat black children as children, just little adults, even if none of us were savvy enough to realize that consciously.

- I could never understand why Lisa Turtle, who was arguably the prettiest and flyest girl at Bayside High, could never find a mutual attraction for her, and had a dorky Screech after her for “comic relief”. Takeaway #1—liking a black girl is a funny thing. Takeaway #2—better to be single than to settle (of course, this one, I think, was far more subtle for me).

- Living Single was groundbreaking and I didn’t even know it, for it showed various-bodied-and-hued black women being regarded as sexy, beautiful, lovable, and desirable, something that I took for granted because that was my reality watching my mother and older female cousins. Not only that, the show aged very well. RIDE THE MAVERICK!!

- I had my very first crush (a black boy) when I was three years old, but didn’t do anything because he was shy and probably thought I had cooties. I had my second crush (a white boy) when I was twelve years old, but I didn’t do anything because he was popular and probably wouldn’t be interested because I’m black.

- Also when I was twelve, someone thought my eight-year-old sister was my daughter. …

- I used to be jealous of my younger sister because everyone would say she looked like our mother, which meant she was beautiful (which she is); and few would ever say I looked like anyone, which I took to mean I wasn’t. And when they did give me a relation, it was my grandmother. Way to make a teenage girl feel better by comparing her to her 70-something grandmother! And what made this even worse was a boy in my 8th-grade home room said I had “grandma hands”.

- By the time I reached high school, I figured out the definition of “hot” for a girl was almost the direct opposite of me, which was just as well because I couldn’t date in high school anyway and I wasn’t attracted to many of the guys at my school (although this isn’t to say none of them were attractive).

- I think I fell in love for the first time during the summer when I was thirteen and an older boy (South Asian) made me feel like a girl.

- At fourteen I started flipping through Sweet Valley High books to see if a black girl was given some “screen time”; if not, I didn’t check it out.

- At fifteen I started following boy bands and would get excited whenever there was a black girl cast in the videos.

- My third OTP, Shawn and Angela from Boy Meets World, will forever be one because for once, being in love with a black girl on a teen-oriented show wasn’t treated as a joke (yes, this includes Family Matters, even if I were rooting for Urkel/Laura).

- I was sixteen years old the first time a black boy (and yes, a crush) told me he didn’t black girls, and I remember being seized with a slight panic that if black boys didn’t date black girls, who in the world did?

- My school had a clothing drive and I went to the grocery store to buy diapers for it. The cashier asked me how old my child was. Considering I’ve always looked younger than I am, this really took me aback. But I only looked younger in the face; my body was that of a grown woman, very curvy and shapely, and I’d always been self-conscious about drawing attention.

- I was seventeen when I got my first “marriage proposal” as well as when the first unrelated male told me I was beautiful. (two separate boys, only one was serious.) We were told to write down something nice about our classmates, and the majority was the usual “funny”, “smart”, “nice” accolades I’d get; but the “beautiful” one stunned me so much that later that evening I’d asked him if he’d meant it, afraid it was joke. He said he meant it, and I barely contained my tears. The first time I thought I was beautiful was later that year when I was in a cotillion. Unfortunately, nobody mentioned it.

- Eighteen was a busy year—first kiss, second molestation, although this molestation was by a man old enough to be my father. It took me months to tell someone because I didn’t think anyone would believe me or folks would think it was my fault. But last time I checked, being braless and wearing shorts in one’s own home during the summer in the South wasn’t grounds for uninvited touches.

- I’d never felt uglier, unwanted, and unlovable in my life than during my four years of college and the four years after it—The Boston Years. It was as if I were living out a rom-com where I was the black, fat, sassy, asexual mammy/BFF who provided the laughs and the sage advice but would never be in consideration for a romantic “happily ever after”. The one and only date I went on during this time was with an ex-con who worked security at my summer job—mind, I didn’t know he was an ex-con until we were on the date. And he kept asking if I could cook (which I must be able to do because I’m a big black woman from the South and all), so yeah, that was a no-go. Incidentally, this is also the time I decided I would give a shot at the writing thing.

- On the other hand, around this time interracial pairings on soap operas featuring black women had, for some reason exploded on soap operas…and quite predictably crashed and burned; but while they were on there, they were awesome. My favorites were Fox/Whitney—Passions (I’m still bitter by how they destroyed this one), Nik/Gia—General Hospital, Paco/Preta—Da Cor do Pecado (a Portuguese telenovela dubbed in Spanish was how I watched, loved this one, probably because this was the only one that got a happily ever after), and Evangeline/almost anyone—One Life to Live. And now I can admit another reason why these relationships were frustrating was because just about all of them were “standard-acceptable” beauties; basically the Lisa Turtles who finally got some loving (as did Lisa for one episode, with Zach…yeah, bitter about that too).

- My heroines tend to fit my very first standard of beauty, that of my mother and other women in my family, which means they are usually short, usually curvy/full-figured, and usually dark to medium-toned in skin color. The more society-standard beauties are usually secondary/tertiary characters. I know for a lot of people, romances are about the fantasy. Well, one of my fantasies is for people who look like me to be unapologetically loved and considered beautiful.

- I get ridiculously excited whenever I see a black woman being loved in real life and in media because the sight is about as frequent as Halley’s Comet. It gives me hope that could be me one day.

- One of my good friends from home gave me an assignment to pick one thing I liked about myself, with special emphasis on the physical self. I had extreme difficulty with the exercise.

- Barack and Michelle Obama are fourth OTP because for once, a black woman being loved is something that cannot be dismissed or ignored on a national stage. If they ever break up (which I forbid them to do) I will be shedding some seriously fugly tears.

- When I was twenty-five I attracted another security guard’s attention, another man old enough to be my father. It was disconcerting because he would always stare at me when I walked in the building and continue to stare until I got on the elevator. Finally one day he said “You have a nice walk.” Freaked me out so badly I muttered a quick thanks and sped-walked to the elevator because I could not determine if his comment was lust or genuine admiration.

- When I was twenty-six, Disney finally decided to create a Black princess, yet I couldn’t be as thrilled as I liked because she spent the majority of the film as a frog.

- For Lent 2010, I decided I would give up low self-esteem, which meant I had to stop sipping on the “I’m Not Good Enough” syrup that had been my BFF since birth. The withdrawal was brutal, and there are still times I fall off the wagon; but I’m much better at running to catch up to it now than before. One of the things I’ve accepted about myself was I’ll never be a single-digit dress size no matter how much weight I lose; and it was okay for me to like the curves I have. And my walk.

- When I was about to turn twenty-seven, my grandmother died. During this time I took a lot of pictures with my camera phone of old pictures of her. She was beautiful, so I guess that means I’m beautiful too (and yes, as soon as I typed that out I burst in to tears, because that, right then, was the first time I said it and truly, truly meant it).

- Yesterday, there was an article explaining why black women were ugly, and I was laughing to myself about the utter nonsense of it all until I became irate that this “PhD” was passing off his conclusions as “scientific fact” instead of his racist opinion. But my favorite part was the author’s confusion why the black women in his “study” thought of themselves as physically attractive when “science” says they’re not. And just thinking about my long, winding struggle to get to a revelation many women never reach, let alone black women, and his attempt to nullify these black women’s opinions of themselves because they do not conform to his/Western-European standard of beauty really pissed me off. But now, I want to give these women high fives for owning their beauty for themselves and refusing to sip the “You’re Not Good Enough” syrup this “PhD” was trying to shove down their throats.

Perhaps it is threatening to some when black women stop believing they can only be asexual mammies or hypersexual Jezebels, or that they can only consider themselves beautiful when a Western European society deems them so…or they have to have enough European or nonblack blood to even hope to be considered beautiful in the first place. That their bodies are always there for the taking—whether by permission or not, and rarely with tenderness and care—and that little black girls (and boys) aren’t little black girls (and boys) because they are merely pre-adults. The politics of respectability are alive and well, making black women scared of their femininity and being unreceptive to genuine, respectful appreciation or not treating themselves as the valuable beings they truly are because being marked as “ugly” means unvaluable, so they treat their bodies any kind of way and allow others to do the same. Every damn day we’re told black women aren’t capable of being loving or being loved; that just because can “do bad all by ourselves” (why it gotta be bad?) we don’t desire to “do good with a supportive partner”. I’m tired of trying to reach a standard I was never supposed to meet; but more importantly I’m tired of being fed the line there is only one standard to meet in the first damn place. I don’t need to be beautiful for everyone—hell, I don’t even need to be beautiful—but I do need to be a good person, and that has nothing to do with my dress size or the perfect symmetry of my face.

All that to say, I’m fierce as hell, and you can kick rocks if you disagree.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

10 Facts about Me

I was in the process of writing a long blog post, but then I got a little distracted and began rambling and meh. So, here's a meme I did for one of my online hangouts. Maybe I'll continue working on the original post...or maybe not, right now it looks daunting (which probably means I should keep working on it #le sigh).

~~~~

1.) I was named after my maternal grandmother (Jordan—RiP Grandma Lillie, one year gone this May).

2.) I’ve sung with Bobby McFerrin (with my college choir Kuumba Singers).

3.) I played Carnegie Hall when I was 18 (orchestra/viola).

4.) I started truly writing when I was 12 years old (poetry).

5.) I haven’t been kissed since I was 18 (I’ll be 28 this month).

6.) My favorite part of my body is my eyes (they are brown, but nothing plain about them to me).

7.) My favorite novel I’ve written thus far is Reconstructing Jada Channing, which is, incidentally, the first novel I’ve ever written and my worst reviewed novel on Amazon (#kanyeshrug).

7.) My favorite desserts are cheesecake and my Grandma Katie’s pound cake (RiP, Grandma Katie, 10 years gone this August).

8.) I love the feel of my natural hair against my fingertips, and it’s a quirk I’ve inherited from my mother, apparently (RiP Mama, 19 years gone this November).

9.) My favorite movie ever in life is Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (Frank all day; this was also my Grandma Lillie’s least favorite movie because we watched it all the time…back to back…#can’t be tamed).

10.) I have a ride-or-die personality when it comes to friends, and length of time between talking doesn’t negate that.

Monday, May 09, 2011

A Year Ago Today. This Minute.




I didn’t spend a lot of time yesterday talking about my Grandma Lillie, the woman who raised me and my sister, in the audio blog, and that wasn’t necessarily intentional. However, considering today is the actual anniversary of her death, it’s probably more important I do this now than before.

Now, I often say I didn’t have a nickname until I got to college and then was dubbed the “Sav”, but that’s not the truth. I just never considered it a nickname because it wasn’t “nicked”. But my grandmother had given me another name since I had functional memory.

“Butt-Butt”.

Apparently, even at the age of 2/3, my tush was something to behold—that Jordan Body in its early stage. But not only that, I’d even run up to my grandmother and sing “Pat the butt, Grandma, pat the butt!” So she’d call me Butt-Butt and pat my tushie as she’d sing the “Pat the Butt-Butt!” song. Clearly, I was crazy, because there other times when I’d run and hide from when she’d want to “whoop that ass!”

It was not a game.

But then my younger sister came along, complete with the Jordan Body herself, so my Grandmother snatched my first name from me and tacked it onto her! Probably one of the reasons from age BIRTH to about SEVEN of my sis I couldn’t stand her, but then Grandma gave me a new name.

Bana. And then she’d call me “Bana-Bana”. And I don’t think I ever told my friends this at home, but then they started calling me that, because that’s what my grandmother called me. And then my sis calls me “Ban”.

So, yeah. She’s never going to call me Bana anymore, and that’s really…an awful thing to never hear from her again. My poor sister has been crying on and off all day; I think she’s taking this harder than I am in a lot of ways, because she had to watch the demise up close. She was also there when Grandma passed away; I was too busy driving back home thinking she would make it another day. And I miss her. There are some days that are so gorgeously sunny and I think, “Today would be a perfect day to call Grandma”, and then I remember I can’t anymore. Every time I drive home, or arrive from a trip, it is always bittersweet because I remember I can’t call Grandma to tell her I made it safely. But then, so many positive things have happened to me that I can’t help but think she, my Grandma Katie, and my mama are whispering in God’s ear about me. And my sister, for that matter. I firmly think everything happens for a reason, and the reason why I decided to move, or to start my Lent Project 2010, or to follow my own path with this writing thing, I got the strength to follow my lead from her. She supported me fully in my writing, talking me and my books up, almost annoying me with requests to ship her some autographed books from Boston so she could sell them to her classes (she taught arts and crafts) or to damn near anyone who called the house. And she got her sales too.

Grandma was boss. I want to be that boss when I grow up, with the name she gave me.


Lillie Belle Jordan Glover: November 30, 1921 - May 9, 2010

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Mother's Day



I chose to use a picture with my parents instead of my grandmothers because I don't have a photo of Grandma Katie. :( But you can see Grandma Katie's smile in my father's, so :)


Friday, May 06, 2011

More Seedlings






PS: Shout out to all my blogging friends who are trying the audio thing! Only took me a week and some change to figure out how to embed audio onto Blogger! lol

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

The Seeds That Were Planted

I was about five or six years old and I was at the park near my kindergarten. My mother had taken my sister and me to the park to play, and there was a white family there. Somehow, I and the white boy in that family ended up playing together on the swings, in the tire rounds where the dirt was, etc, until his older sister came up to us with a scowl on her face and said to her brother, "You shouldn't be playing with her!" We both looked at each other in confusion before his sister grabbed his wrist and yanked him away. I went up to my mother bewildered by the whole thing, asking her why was that girl so mean and why couldn't I play with my new friend, and she murmured nonsense to me and guided me with sister in tow to the car to leave.

This is 1988/1989, over twenty years after the end of the modern Civil Rights Movement in the United States.

I often cite Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry as the book that made me want to be a writer, which is true. But when I was answering a similar question during my readers session at RSJ 2011, I realized one of the reasons why I was drawn to the book was because it humanized an interracial friendship that really shouldn't have ever happened in the 1930s South. Jeremy Simms, a white boy, was always friendly with Cassie Logan and her family despite the entire rest of his family being almost beyond racists. Even when I was reading it the first time, Jeremy intrigued me because I wanted to know how he avoided drinking the Kool-Aid while the others in his family seemed to be drinking free refills of it every fifteen minutes or so. He was such a sweet, pure soul, and I remember praying and reading with not a little trepidation that he would end up just as racist as the rest of his family, as Uncle Hammer had portended. I think I would've cried some ugly tears had that happened.

So, Roll of Thunder planted the seed; then Maniac Magee was the fertilizer. I loved this book. I had it constantly checked out of the library, and it was a change of pace because now the protagonist was a white boy instead of the black girl from Roll of Thunder. He was similar to Jeremy in many ways--a loner who didn't really care about conventions and just "did him". He didn't care about the "rules" of the society because he lived outside them, and with that was a certain freedom to take people as they come and make decisions based on that.

You know, like Martin Luther King said he wanted us to do one day. And actually, I have more thoughts about this particular line in a very long and insightful speech is always co-opted but never really practice but that's for another time.

I went to an all-black school from the age or three to the age of 11, with a brief interlude at Catholic school for first grade. There was pretty much not a day that didn't go by without us hear something about Martin Luther King, Jr. or Rosa Parks, or Harriet Tubman, etc. I knew much about my history and was taught to be proud of it; but I could never understand why white kids didn't attend our school. I'd even asked my mother why couldn't white kids go to my school; she said they couldn't they just chose not to attend. I couldn't understand that at all, because I thought my school was boss; and then I'd wonder if all white people were just really light black people or if all black people were just really tan white people.

*pats bb!Sav*

I do find it notable that of all the characters who are allowed that particular freedom in those early books were white and male. Of course at the time I wasn't savvy enough to notice such a nuance, but I suppose it has to be them because white males are at the top of the societal ladder, which means they have a freedom of mobility those below don't generally have--particularly black females. And actually, it's only now as I write this blog that I even realize just how early my interest in interracial relationships in literature really was. These two books were among my very favorites as a child, and they had me scouring for more books that highlighted interracial relationships among kids, and see how they bridged that racial divide.

As I became older and started thinking a boy's cooties weren't necessarily a bad thing, my interest became more inclusive and almost predominated by romantic interracial relationships featuring black women (or actually, relationships that featured black women, period, because those shows were just going off the air right when I needed them most *clings to Living Single and bemoans the fact her non-cable having self couldn't access Girlfriends because living in the country meant no UPN without it*). In fact, I'd wondered if one of the reasons Jeremy was so different from his folks was because Jeremy was or would end up a little in love with Cassie, but Ms. Taylor decided to pair Cassie with Moe instead (I liked Moe...Moe *snuggles him*). But I still thought of the "what if?" possibilities had Ms. Taylor decided to go the other route. Then the more I consumed media (mainly TV and movies) and started to have crushes on teen stars (who were usually white) I began to create my own stories where girls who looked like me could get some love. It took a while for me to put those stories on paper, and even then those black girls started to look less like "the most beautiful of beautiful ever" to be worthy of said man to just "regla" girls who could be the most beautiful of beautiful for their man.

Thus sprouted my interest in writing interracial love stories featuring a black woman and a nonblack man. Of course, this choice raises several eyebrows, particularly for those who know me personally because I'm very much proud to be a person of African descent and I'm very much advocate for black love in real life and the media--to the point I get ridiculously excited when I see a black couple being loving to each other because that's something you just so rarely see in the media. But that's the problem--it is as if it is mutually exclusive to be proud to be black/to see black love while at the same time being open to dating/loving outside one's race. And no, it's not good enough for a black couple to be together just because both parties are black; color as the foundation of a relationship will never be strong enough to have that relationship last. One of the reasons I focused my studies on interracial fiction in college because I wanted to see how interracial relationships (not strictly of the romantic variety) were handled through the ages. There were some very, um, interesting ideas (my "favorite" is an actual black and white striped child of an interracial union from like the late 16th century), but there was still an element of...I don't want to say fetishism, but the inability for a story to be told in such a way where the story didn't end tragically or in such a way that I was frustrated with one or both of the lead characters.

I'd decided for my thesis I would write my own interracial fiction--Reconstructing Jada Channing was the very first original story I gave a serious attempt to writing...and then I thought this was crap and decided to start writing Being Plumville. Reconstructing Jada Channing garnered high praise in my departments, to the point it was named the best thesis on African-American Literature at my alma mater for the 2004-2005 school term; and Being Plumville has opened so many doors for me I cannot count. Now, I have several publications out, all of which the main focus is a black woman loving and being loved, because in the end, that's all that matters. And in many ways, giving the heroine a hero who is different from her racially and/or culturally forces her to learn more about herself in the context of not only a black woman, but a member of humanity (and the hero, too, for that matter. And to get one's characters to that plane of "love is love" is my ultimate goal of all.

(Note: Felix Reynolds in Being Plumville is definitely inspired by Jeremy Simms and Ronnie Bass from the film Remember the Titans. If you're not acquainted with either, I highly recommend you check out Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry and Remember the Titans. RtT is an automatic stop-and-watch at my house, I don't even care. My sis and I quote the mess out of that film. Oh, and one more thing--Gerry & Julius = O.T.P.)

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Can't Have One without the Other

In the byline, if you will, of this blog, it says this is supposed to be about my journey as an author. And it has been...just weighted very heavily on the professional side of that journey. What I've been avoiding, even denying in a large sense, is that personal side of the journey; and what I am realizing is the professional can only go as far as the personal will allow. So, in that vein, I will be doing more personal blogging. Probably. Many of the things I'll discuss here I haven't told a soul...haven't even owned up to it myself. But this isn't my first time journaling, and there is something to be said about seeing the progression of moods from day to day to week to week to month to month to year to year. It's scary, humbling, and freeing to see all of this; and to give the world access to it even more so (because even though I can't really tell if people read this blog, I do know some of the few folk who do). But if I call myself a writer, I have to square with the fact I do that every time produce a book. So, be prepared for more BTS posts about what makes me tick enough to write what I write. If for nothing else, it'll probably be beneficial to me to keep myself honest and open to receiving the stories that have chosen me to tell them.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Romance Slam Jam 2011 - The End

I’m sitting in Union Station, Washington, DC right now, a little tired, but very much blessed. The last two days was full of making even more connections, including a possible editing job for a colleague and some more inquiries about self publishing. I also finally met one of my aces after years of meeting everyone but her (including working with her sister, meeting her mother, her brother-in-law’s family from round my way, other mutual friends—it was beyond time). And she’s good. Y’all, if you ever want to know why some (re: the majority) of these stories happen, is because chick sends me photos or keeps nudging formerly quiet secondary characters into screaming, especially in the Reconstructing Jada Channing universe (i.e.—the whole Inoue brothers arc? Her fault.). I side-eye her, but it is with love.

And we share a brain. It’s ridiculously creepy.

So, she was there with me during the RSJ Mega Book Signing (I'd sold half the books I’d brought, which a significant success rate in my opinion) and got to meet several authors, and we were both very boring hanging out in my room while I bemoaned not wanting to go to the Emma Awards (my fault, I’d been up all night on the phone with BJ (we do not know how to have short conversations), who is another awesome-sauce woman whose book y’all need to buy when it comes out in June) and I’d needed to pack because my first train (the one forces tried to conspire against me to miss this morning) left at 6:23 this morning, and the Awards ended at 11pm last night. But I was good egg, got photographic evidence me and my friend really, truly did meet, and went to the Emma Awards banquet.

The food was great, although I wasn’t hungry and left most of it on the plate, sadly. It was a bit chilly in the hotel, but that had been consistent from jump, so I was glad I’d at least had the foresight to wear an outfit with sleeves. The awards were blessedly efficient with little hiccups and everyone was gracious and a cheerleader for the winners.

And speaking of…I placed in the Aspiring Authors Contest, which means my manuscript will be read by an editor at a major traditional house. I didn’t blog about how much angsting I’d done with the submissions earlier this year; nor did I mention part of my trepidation was because the last time I’d participated in the contest my manuscripts had all but been ripped by the judges. But I was a green one then, na├»ve, and I have four years of professionally writing under my belt. I came in fourth out of the fourth slots, but I don’t even care. There really is no such thing as “last place” if you placed at all, and I’m so grateful. My “acceptance speech” was a hot mess because I 1.) didn’t think I’d win anything and 2.) wasn’t aware the winners would even have to say something. But everyone was so kind to me and wished me congratulations.

And as for editors, I had another pitch earlier that day; this time with the editor of the Harlequin Kimani line. Although I didn’t have anything that was the right fit for what she was looking, she was so gracious with her advice and just a warm spirit. I’ll say, this core of agents and editors at this 2011 Romance Slam Jam were all phenomenal, so open, so gracious, so encouraging. Pitching is one of the most nerve-wracking things an author could do, and I left both of mine so at ease and comfortable.

I’ll be glad when I finally get on my train back home; I’ll be able to relax a bit and really being to unpack all that went down during this conference, but it was a great experience.