Fabulous Opportunities!

  • It’s time to submit to the Bellwhether Prize. This is for an unpublished novel that has some sort of social justice theme. The winner gets a book contract and a pretty hefty cash prize!
  • California Writers: It’s your turn for the Maureen Egan Writers Exchange Award. This is open to fiction writers as well as poets. The winners get to travel, all expenses paid, to NYC give a reading and to meet with agents and publishers.
  • Knopf has the cutest promo going on. Throw a Julia Childs-style dinner party and win cool stuff.
  • Women writers: are you looking for a retreat? Eduardo has found one for you.
  • Posted in The Writing Life | 1 Comment

    Summertime, and The Linking is Easy

    Not a DAN BROWN book.

  • Want to sell a book? Put Dan Brown’s name on it in big letters. Even if it isn’t written by Dan Brown.
  • What not to do when submitting: my agent has posted a really good list of dos and don’ts.

  • There is a new movie coming out about Assata Shakur. The trailer seems a little low-budget, but it seems like an interesting project.
  • When PBS gets sexy. This clip is funny. It would be funnier if it were a little bit more diverse. Black nerds exisit. And we are available for parody!
  • Obama stands up for Henry Louis Gates. Video.
  • The officer involved speaks.
  • The new Indiana Review is out. Abdel approves of my selection for the award winning story. **LINK REPAIRED.
  • Elizabeth Gilbert’s ex-husband gets to tell his side of the Eat, Pray, Love divorce. Does this count as keeping it real? Apparently his search for meaning sent him to developing countries. (Who are these people? How do they get to do the travelling break-up?)
  • Betrayal! Corruption! Embezzlement! This is not a link about New Jersey politics, but the sad end of a prominent Atlanta book club.
  • Langston Hughes house sold in foreclosure.
  • The Paris Review publishes two new poems by Craig Arnold. (We miss you!)
  • Posted in Links | 1 Comment

    Not a Cover, But a All-Out Remake!

    I’m not happy with the last chapter of my novel. I’m pleased with the way things end up, but I just don’t think that I have figured out the best way to really show that part of the story. In order to knock something loose in my head, I have been listening to a lot of music.
    Since I am happy with what happens in the last chapter, just not too thrilled with the execution, I got the idea to listen to lots of different versions of the same songs. Some remakes were just tributes to the original– i.e. Mariah Carey singing “I’ll Be There.” But I ran across some other re-makes that were actually re-envisioning of the original recording. I’ve made a playlist of a few which were really helpful to me. I included both versions of each song because I am not thinking of one as an improvement over the other.
    And to take this a little farther, listening to these covers may help you when you start feeling like the story you want to tell has already been “done.” It hasn’t been done yet the way you want to do it. You can take a familar story and make it brand new.

    Get a playlist! Standalone player

    P.S. If you have other suggestions, leave them in comments

    Posted in Writing | 1 Comment


    That headline is my approximation of the Twilight Zone music. You all know that I am at VCCA, way out in the boondocks. For some reason I am having trouble hooking into my work. I’ve been feeling frustrated and sort of creatively starved. But here is my horoscope:

    SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21):
    During his time in hiding, the Biblical prophet Elijah was kept alive by ravens who brought him food. John the Baptist survived on nothing but honey and locusts when he was roaming the wilderness. And I’m sure that some unexpected source of comfort and sustenance will likewise turn up during your wanderings, Sagittarius. It may not be what you’re used to. You might even have to cultivate a taste for nourishment that seems foreign. But stick with it. You could learn to love it, and in the process become less dependent on stuff you thought you couldn’t do without.

    You can get your ‘scope, here.

    Posted in The Writing Life | Comments Off

    Tumultous Tuesday Links

  • New York has a chance to be the sixth state to forbid the shackling of pregnant women who give birth while incarcerated. (Sometimes they are even strapped across the stomach!) All Gov. Patterson has to do is sign the bill. Call him and tell him to do the right thing: 518-474-8390
  • The blogosphere is on fire with the Skip Gates situation. The L.A. Times has a thorough overview, including mug shots. If you are in a good mood, don’t read the comments.
  • The new Mosaic is out, and the cover is beautiful.
  • Hilton Als has some intense commentary on Michael Jackson, race and sexuality.
  • Jimmy Carter leaves his church over the treatment of women.
  • Feel good story of the day: Taking a first plane ride at 106 years old.
  • Goodbye Frank McCourt.
  • I had no idea fans of The Notebook were this serious.
  • Good news for academic job seekers. Google will stop listing Rate My Professor!
  • RIP Judi Ann Mason, African-American pioneer in the field of TV writing.
  • A nice list of opportunities, including an award for self-published authors.
  • Posted in Links | 1 Comment

    What Do You Call a Black Man With a Ph.D.?

    I believe I am the only fan of the Sam Jackson/Nick Cage movie, Amos and Andrew, that came out in 1993. The premise is this: Sam Jackson plays a black academic big-shot who is mistaken for a criminal after his neighbors see him moving in at night. “When you see a black man carrying stereo equipment, you know what it means…” So the police set up this big operation to arrest the Big Scary Black Man. When they see him on the cover of TIME magazine, they get the cockamamie scheme to make it right. Hijinks ensue. (Best part is when Sam Jackson hits the Sheriff over the head with a skillet, but I won’t spoil it by tell you what he says while he does it.)
    Well, life is imitating art over in Cambridge, Massachusetts– minus the hijinks. Professor Henry Louis Gates of Haaarvard University has been arrested. He was mistaken for a criminal as he was trying to break into his own home. One of his neighbors got scared and called the police. The police showed up and there was a “Do You Know Who I Am?” moment. The good professor, one of TIME Magazine’s 25 most influential Americans, was arrested for being “disorderly” and “tumultuous.”
    I am not lying.
    Update: Here is the police report. Professor Gates apparently gave the police a run for their money.
    Another Update: Professor Gates has released a statement. Although the police report makes the whole incident sound like an episode of COPS, Mr. Gates’ version reads like the minutes for a NAACP board meeting.

    Posted in Current Events | 3 Comments

    Beep! Beep!

    The Beautifullest Tree

    Originally uploaded by kleopatrjones

    VCCA is a nice place– lots of natural beauty and yesterday I went blackberry picking. I ma having some trouble settling in, but I think it’s because I don’t have enough to do. In a way, this is a high-class problem– being so far along on the manuscript that the work isn’t dragging me out of bed in the morning and keeping my locked in my studio. Team-T is weighing in with their comments and although they are by and large positive, there’s still work to be done. For some reason, I just don’t feel like doing it.

    But enough about me. Let me tell you about VCCA (and of course there are photos). There are about 25 people here– writers, visual artists, and composers. I’ve got my own bedroom and bath. I’ve also got studio space, which is essentially an office. The food is pretty tasty, particularly the dessert situation. (That pound cake last night was the TRUTH!)

    My mind is wandering, I must admit. I just don’t feel like doing anything. I want to be in NYC hanging out with my friends. I can’t tell if it’s because I don’t want to be done with the manuscript, so I am avoiding finishing or if this roadrunner has just run herself out.

    Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

    It’s Gonna Take a Miracle Links!

    Don’t ask my how or why, but the “wireless” icon just popped up on my desktop. Whoo Hoo! Here are some links to celebrate.

  • I saw on twitter that next season ETA Creative Arts Theatre in Chicago will feature plays written by black men, but directed by black women.
  • BRICK CITY, a new film about Newark,directed by Forrest Whitaker will premiere this fall on the Sundance Channel.
  • This account of the life of Lena Horne broke my heart.
  • How to know if a book is PoMo. (By this rubric, Leaving Atlanta is a little bit PoMo. Who knew?)
  • Melissa Harris Lacewell points out that we celebrate women of color when they don’t react to humiliation.
  • But when you’ve had enough of the strong silent type, there is always Wendy Williams.
  • What a cool writing studio!
  • K.G. Schneider takes a clear-eyed look at the Kindle/Orwell drama.
  • Scandal at the librarian’s conference!
  • Posted in Links | Comments Off

    Please Pardon The Interruption!

    I’m here at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. I’m safe, I’m sound, but I am suffering from technical difficulties when it comes to internet access. I will spare you the specific details, but I won’t be able to put up a proper post until Monday, when I can take my laptop over to Sweet Briar college to use their WiFi. I came *this close* to driving 50 miles to Lynchburg in order to veg out in a Starbucks– fancy espresso drinks + T1 connection=bliss. But then, I decided I was being a baby and should just drink drip coffee and tough it out with my blackberry.

    Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

    (At Least) One More Round of Revisions

    I am heading out for the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts to take my manuscript through another draft. Check out my horoscope:

    SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21):
    Don’t leave me hanging, Sagittarius. What happens next? How could you even imagine you’ve wrapped the whole thing up? According to my analysis, you’ve got at least one more riddle to solve, one more gift to negotiate, one more scar to wish upon. (Yes, that says “scar,” not “star.”) To stop pushing for more adventure at this pregnant moment would be a crime against nature and a whole chapter short of a bestseller. Get out there and bring this story home.

    Is that right on time, or what? I’ll be deep into my work, but if you want to be pen pals, send me a letter or postcard. I’ll write you back:
    Tayari Jones
    c/o VCCA
    154 San Angelo Drive
    Amherst, Virginia 24521

    Posted in Travels & Rambles | 1 Comment