Adorable Links

All The Cool Kids Tweet

Originally uploaded by Shovelling Son
  • My godchild, Ava, starts preschool today. She is so very very adorable.
  • 100 literary tweeters. (101 if you add my feed!)
  • Um, “Bigamy Novels” is a category????
  • Not literary: Tyra is taking her weave out on September 8.
  • A moving poem by Claudia Rankine literally moves through the Bronx.
  • Who loves Dwayne Betts besides me? The New Yorker, that’s who.
  • If you blog about Bill Clinton he might send you a thank you note, in the mail, on presidential stationary!
  • What About Our Daughters has hired a reporter to bring back details from the Dunbar Village trial. (We raised money on this blog a year ago to aid the victims.)
  • Creative Non Fiction is looking for a blog post worth publishing.
  • Courtney Young holds Tyler Perry accountable for his gender issues.
  • Would you read a book just because a celebrity liked it? Maybe. Depends on the celebrity.
  • This is an EXCELLENT list of post-MFA fellowships.
  • Check out the date stamp on this post. At what point do we get to call it insomnia?
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    Notes From The Mountain

    My buddy, Alex, has written up his reflections on our three-day junket up to Bread Loaf. Here are mine—in the same format.
    This is the fourth or fifth time that I have gone to Bread Loaf. The first time was in 2003 (at long last) as a fellow—an award given to new writers within a year or so of their first books. I remember being a little bit scared, worried that people could tell that I wasn’t quite of this world. By “this world” I mean the mostly white, really ambitious, buzz-wordy universe. Mostly there was no need for me to be so worried. Everyone was scared, but for different reasons. In the visits that follow, I go as a slacker. Maybe I offered a one hour class, but mostly I hung out. This time, as last time, I go to keep Natasha company. To hear her reading.
    Alex and I have a fun drive up. We’re good friends and we’re good together. I have a new complicated hairstyle, which he compliments me on. In the car, we work on our private language of friendship. We invent new sayings. The three hour drive from his place to the mountain seems to take nine, but we get there. Natasha and Randall Keenan are walking up the sidewalk in front of the yellow clapboard buildings. I jump on the brakes, hop out of the car and give squealing hugs.
    Alex goes to lots of craft talks and readings and learns things. But for me Bread Loaf is always about the people. Alex gives breathless reports of all that he’s gathered and tucked away in this busy mind. I ask him if my hair is okay.
    Bread Loaf is a place where you can see people you haven’t seen in ten or fifteen years. People you didn’t even know were still writing. It’s a place where people try and give it another shot. It’s also a place where you see the people you see all the time on the circuit. At Bread Loaf you can see people that you’ve only met on the internet.
    The mosquito situation is unbelievable.
    When I say “young” writer I don’t mean age. There are a lot of young writers up on the mountain. Dolen has just gotten her galley in the mail. I can feel her excitement rolling off her skin in electric waves. Other writers were at that sad moment when you realize your first book isn’t going to solve your problems. Still others, on the brink, were wearing lucky boots or special shirt for ten minute meeting the agents and editors. It’s like speed dating, but you feel like your life depends on it.
    I say to Natasha, “I think I may be aging out of this scene.” We’re at a restaurant off campus because we need a little quiet and a little adult food. We are doing last minute revisions to her new poems. She says, “Probably.” We order a really good bottle of wine.
    On Monday night, Natasha reads from her new manuscript. We over-dress a bit, giving a little extra with the shoes. When she steps to the podium, Dolen and I scream and stamp our feet like we are at a concert. Reciting, Natasha’s in familiar territory, investigating history, but these poems are tonally different than the elegiac pieces that made up Native Guard. These new verses ask pointed questions. She doesn’t let anyone off the hook. These poems grab you by the throat. You can see the intensity on her face, in the space between her eyes when she pronounces the words. Natasha is the real thing.
    The nest day, Alex and I get back in the bucket to drive back. We laugh a lot, sing Mariah Carey songs, and trade stories. I tell Alex that he seems like an elder statesman these days. He doesn’t say how I seem. When I get home, I feel like I have been gone forever, but it’s just been three days. Waiting for me in front of my door is my manuscript, marked up by my friend, Renee. I am eager to see what she thinks, but I am too tired to even open the envelope.

    Posted in The Writing Life | 1 Comment

    On My Way Up The Mountain

    The Bread Loaf Inn

    Originally uploaded by kleopatrjones

    Just a quick post to let y’all know that I will be off theblog for a few days. I’m on my way to Vermont to crash attend the Bread Loaf Writers Conference. On Monday, Natasha Trethewey will be reading some new poems that I am dying to hear. Also, a good three or four of the Amazing 8 will be on the mountain taking a victory lap, and I want to help them celebrate.

    I am NOT taking my laptop, so I probably won’t be able to post photos until I get back.

    See you on Wednesday.

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    Sister-Act Links

  • Laura Ling’s story about being held captive just didn’t have enough zip, so what if she added a sister-angle? And what if her sister worked for Oprah???
  • This story about prisoners plagiarizing poetry was a little sad to me.
  • 50 Multi-Cultural Books for young readers.
  • I, too, enjoy a little Jonathan Kellerman from time to time. I am not ashamed.
  • Vintage photos from Key West. I like the Tennessee Williams picture at the bottom.
  • Totally bizzaro amazon review.
  • A publicist gives advice to authors. (I must say, though, that I hate hate hate the word “pimp”. It is not CUTE.)
  • Fernham gives a really interesting take on a little-known novel by Harlem Renaissance author, Jesse Fauset.
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    Well, I suppose this is a happy ending. Remember the drama improved?surrounding the whitewash of the cover of the YA novel, LIAR? If not, here is a recap in 140 characters or less: Main character is a black girl, but Bloomsbury put a white girl on the cover. After being questioned by readers, the author spoke out, the blogosphere and twitterverse joined in. Bloomsbury insists the whole thing was a big misunderstanding. (Since the character is a liar, who’s to say that she’s not just pretending to be black? Hence the image. #fail.) Now there is a new cover! (Yay, right?)
    Micah, the main character of Liar, is dark and wears a short natural haircut. But the new cover girl for LIAR looks like Corrine Bailey Rae!
    This is where things get tricky. Twenty-five years ago, many African American parents, librarians, and readers would be concerned that dark-skinned black girls feel marginalized by the prevalence of images of light-skinned girls. (And let us not forget that Alice Walker writes so lovingly of Their Eyes Were Watching God because Janie was the first dark-skinned heroine she had ever read about. And then, Alice Walker gave us Celie, Nettie, and Shug. This representation issue is real. It’s not just talk.) But now, since Bloomsbury took the cover situation to the next level by putting an actual white model on the cover, the new cover (which triggers my inner Pecola Breedlove) is considered to be a victory.
    But seriously, this who situation has been very distressing to me. As a brown-skinned kinky-haired black woman who reads and writes about the same, I feel very disrespected as a reader, a writer, and a human being.

    Posted in Bookshelf | 1 Comment

    Great Things Are Happening… people who read this blog!
    In addition to the MFA classes I teach at Rutgers-Newark, I have had the pleasure of leading workshops with writers who are not enrolled in a formal degree program. Although we work together only a short period of time, the classes really connect and keep in touch. I am so very happy to share with you some very good news from two of my former workshop participants:
    Karen L. Simpson has found a home for her novel, Acts of Grace. Karen brought excerpts of the novel to the Callalloo workshops and I knew that she was on to something. Despite the high caliber of the work, the road hasn’t been easy. She tells the whole story on her blog. .
    Tinesha Davis is also publishing her first novel! She brought excerpt of Holler At The Moon to the Jenny McKean Moore workshop at George Washington University, to the utter deilght of her classmates. Well in November, we’ll have it in our hot little hands.
    Congratulations, Ladies. I love myself a happy ending.

    Posted in Travels & Rambles | Comments Off

    Cantankerous Links


    Originally uploaded by kleopatrjones
  • Authors, file this under what NOT to do. This dude is such a grumpy smurf. He must not need money or exposure.
  • Book nerd tattoo!
  • The Louisville Public Library is underwater and needs your help.
  • New short story by friend of the blog,Nichelle Tramble.
  • Hurrah for David Anthony Durham, winner of the 2009 Campbell Award. (I love what a flexible writer he is. Go, David, Go!)
  • I posted earlier about the loss of Peggy Cooper Cafritz’s art collection, but this NYT article gives more details about the lost treasures. Ms. Cafritz has always been a major patron of the arts, taking care to nurture black artists. I am sure the collection was insured, but some things can never be replaced.
  • Have you noticed that editors never give you a flat rejection anymore? It’s always,”I love this, but…” Or “It’s not you, it’s the market…”
  • Other bloggers are getting into swag. Here are goodies from FunkyBrownChick and WeLoveBlackAuthors.
  • Ooh Pretty! Another excellent reason to explore the New York Public Library.
  • A national summit on arts jounalism.
  • What to do when you are not down with your editor’s suggestions.
  • Not literary: Early video of Rick James. Kurtis Blow turns 50.
  • Sue William Silverman is an excellent memoirist. She has just published a how-to called Fearless Confessions. Check it out and check out this Q&A.
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    Dwayne Betts in DC Tonight

    I know that I am a bit immoderate about my affection for R. Dwayne Betts. That said, I want to encourage everyone in DC to come to his reading and signing at Busboys and Poets tonight at 6:30.
    I went to the post office today to pick up all the mail that accumulated while I was in Virginia. Amid the catalogs, bills, etc. was my copy of Dwayne’s book. I tore open the envelope. As soon as I pulled it out, A Question of Freedom became the star of the whoe post office. You would have thought it was a newborn baby! Everyone wanted to hold the book, thumb through the pages, and write down the title. I know everyone is so gloom and doom about the future of reading, but that post office was full of regular folks and they were all digging Dwayne’s book. And even I was so hypnotized by the writing on the first couple of pages that I didn’t even notice my tax refund check! (That’s serious.)
    If you go to the event at Busboys tonight, send me a cameraphone pic!

    Posted in Bookshelf | Comments Off

    Leaving Town Links

  • Being as I have pretty much finished up my novel (whoo hoo!) I am pulling up stakes and heading back to NYC to get my summer on!
  • Saeed Jones has helpful hints on how to survive a poetry workshop.
  • Be good to your publicist and she’ll be good to you.
  • Get your drink on at the library?
  • Remember the whitewash of the book, Liar? Well there will be a new cover. My question is whether they will go with a black girl on the cover or that queasy middle ground of no face at all. (The Angry Black Woman has a really conprehensive link round-up on the topic.)
  • Coffee shops are tired of you and your laptop.
  • Authors: meet your deadlines or give the money back!
  • Ghostwriting, if you have the temperament for it, is a good way to make money.
  • Walter Mosely knows why we love to read about murder.
  • Hey! Don’t steal other people book covers.
  • Despite the raw deal she got with The Cheetah Girls, Deborah Gregory is giving TV another shot.
  • If this guy can get a book out of opening a cafe that failed, the certainly Laura Ling and Euna Ling have a story worth writing.
  • Why flowers are cooler than people.
  • Women writers, sick of AWP, are starting thier own conference.
  • Feminist bookstores on line.
  • Lorloca has opportunities for women writers and one for poets!
  • Not literary but Whitney Houston doesn’t really sound like herself and that makes me sad.
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    When Your Friend is Suddenly Large

    I actually started this post just based on the cover of I’m So Happy For You by Lucinda Rosenfeld. I just loved the orange of the dress and how the fingers-crossed gesuture worked with the title to let us know exactly what this book is about. The plan was to post the cover and let that stand in for today’s blog entry. The head line would be “Best Cover Ever” or something like that. But then, I poked around to see what the book was actually about and it motivated me to post in a little more detail.
    I’m So Happy for You is a about a friendship that is wrecked when one of the friends starts to get all the good things that the other friend wants. Of course the “good things” are all sort of lame markers like a pretty house, a nice fiance, pregnacy, etc. (YAWN). But the root issue is worth thinking about.
    What do you do when you and a friend are working toward the same goals and your friend suddenly blows up?
    Here is how I almost lost a friend due to my own stupid insecurity. I have a friend who got sort of famous in the field. I wasn’t jealous of her, but I felt sort of intimidated by her success. Before things started going so well, I used to call her all the time. When I shopped for shoes, I would send her a cell-phone picture. What do you think? Too slutty? But when she started hobnobbing in high places, I felt silly doing these things. I started to worry that what used to be BFF behavior was now a bother– a distraction from her fabulous life. So what did I do? I withdrew.
    Keep in mind that your friend is under the impression that she is the same person she always was. She’s wondering why you aren’t calling. She’s thinking maybe you don’t care anymore what she thinks of your shoes. Also, factor in this: if your friend’s life in changing rapidly, she needs her girlfriends now more than ever. This is no time for you to get insecure and flake.
    Remember, you’re friends because you care about each other. It has nothing to do with your resumes.

    Posted in The Writing Life | 2 Comments