Current Events

Hard Times in Publishing




The "Pink Slip"

Originally uploaded by kuddlyteddybear2004

As you may already know, yesterday was a very bad day in publishing. My blackberry was going bananas with txt messages coming in from friends saying “my editor got fired.” What will this mean for writers? No one is sure, but everyone is pretty sure that it’s not good. Old heads are remembering the recession of the 1980s when contracts which were overdue were canceled. It’s the publishing equivalent of this: sometimes when I need money, I return all the clothes in my closet that still have the tags on. Again, not a good development.

In the meantime, here are some links to help you sort things out.

  • Random House “reorganizes.” I think this means they are gobbling up Doubleday. I’ve seen no mention of that is happening to the African American imprints, though. I send an email to a friend at Harlem Moon and it bounced back.
  • A whole bunch of people at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt got let go. Big shots and whipper-snappers alike.
  • It’s even worse at Simon and Schuster.
  • Even Thomas Nelson, the world’s biggest Christian publisher is handing out pink slips.

    Before I sign off to go to my job, for which I am really grateful, I think that it’s important that we as writers not get too caught up in this. I mean, of course we need to know what’s going on, but we also need to keep our eyes on our own work. Finish your book. And if you’ve just finished one, write another one. It’s what we do.

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    World AIDS Day: Get Tested. I Did.

    Yesterday was World AIDS day. I meant to post about it yesterday, but I couldn’t figure exactly what I wanted to say. I thought about compiling some links like John did, or even a list of books about people with AIDS. Reggie did a great post highlighting Kwame Dawes’s important work.
    The thing about AIDS is that it’s everyone’s problem, but it affects every community different. If you change one little variable, the equation changes. But at the same time, the bottom line is constant. Everyone is at risk. Everyone must be careful. Everyone must get tested.
    So find a testing site near you, and get tested. I did. Why? Because I needed to know, just like you need to know.

    Continue reading

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    Patricia’s Big Night!

    I’m on my way to Amherst, MA to give a reading. If you’re in the area, I’d love to see you there. Also, tonight is the National Book Awards ceremony. Patricia Smith (pictured here) is nominated for her knockout book of poetry, Blood Dazzler. Make sure you send her some positive vibes tihs evening. As I will probably be in the middle of my reading when winners are announced, I am going to be a little out of the loop. I would really appreciate it if someone would DM me on twitter as soon as you find out who won what.

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    Election Night in Accra


    Gobama!

    Yes We Can!

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    Some Election Thoughts




    tayari, first grade

    Originally uploaded by kleopatrjones

    Since I will be in Ghana for the election, I am going to post my reflections now. Much is being made of the fact that Barack Obama will provide little black children with inspiration that they, too, could be president one day. Hillary was thought to provide the same inspiration to little girls.

    Well, when I was a little girl, the year this photo was taken, I had no idea that the presidency could be limited by race. Jimmy Carter was running for president and a film crew came to our school to ask the children who they would vote for. I said “JIMMY CARTER!” The reporter asked me why and I said “BECAUSE HE’S A BLACK MAN!” The lady was confused and asked me how I had come to this conclusion. I said, “Because my daddy is voting for him.” Needless to say, I was not included in the final video.

    I blogged a while back about my novel in progress. There is a moment when a very light-skinned character is described as “white as the president.” Maybe I will have to change that line in my next round of revisions.

    But before we commence with the group hug, I know that when I was a little girl, I never thought a girl could be president. A lot of sisters I know are really excited that a black woman could be first lady. They are as excited as the Hillary supporters were at the idea of a woman being president.

    This world is really complicated. Maybe I’ll make some sense of it while I’ll away.

    Posted in Current Events | 2 Comments

    Dave Eggers Wants to Change The World

    Recently Dave Eggers have a talk about his community outreach program 826 Valencia. On a rainy day like today, I really appreciated this dose of optimisim. The video is part of an archive of talks given by community change-makers and is sponsored by TED (Technology, Education, and Design.) Each year, TED gives a $100,000 prize to help the recipients “change the world.” I love that they use that unabashedly idealistic language.
    I am going to take some time to go through the archives and I’ll post the ones that seem right for the blog. (Uh, not to hate on a philanthropic organization, but a drive-by scan of the roster makes me think they could use a little effort to up the diversity situation.)
    But, anyway, with no further ado, here’s one of the 2008 winners, Dave Eggers.

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    Women Playwrights Demand Change




    Playwrights Bill of Rights

    Originally uploaded by playwright_bo

    Did you know that of the new plays produced in this year’s theater season 42 are written by white men and only 13 by everybody else put together? I didn’t either, but this staggering statistic has lead women playwrights to organize and demand a meeting with the artistic directors of the major NY theaters.

    The article in the NYT is both interesting and disturbing. (Although the article focuses on women, I think the points raised are relevant for everybody that comes under the heading “everybody else.”) When confronted with their dismal records, the artistic directors interviewed in the article range from sheepish to indifferent to downright hostile. Andre Bishop attributes the gender imbalance at his theaters to the fact that he is a “pathetic mortal.” (Would you like a side of snark with that sarcasm, sir?)

    When I was looking for the link to post here, I searched the NYT database for the term “women playwrights.” It seems that every ten years there is an article about the fact the plays by women are not being produced.

    I have a great respect for all of the women who are involved, including Sarah Schulman who has written for this blog. To demand change is risky. Who would want to alienate the most powerful theaters in New York? As one of the women interviewed said “I have to keep my mouth shut; don’t be part of the problem, don’t be a whiner.” Well, one person’s whiner is another person’s change-maker.

    The town hall meeting is tomorrow night. I would advise people to try and attend, but the room only holds 90, and there are almost 150 people RSVPed. If you want to show support, you can write a letter to the NYT commenting on the article or you can make a point to go see a play written by someone who can be categorized as “everybody else.” These voices deserve to be heard.

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    A Liitle Bird Told Me..




    Rocking Robin

    Originally uploaded by grahambrown1965

    That Toni Morrison will be featured on the NPR website reading from her new novel, A Mercy! The info came from Publishers Marketplace

    Toni Morrison’s Sound Serial
    NPR’s web site will offer a four-day series of pre-publication readings by Toni Morrison from her forthcoming novel A MERCY beginning October 27 as part of their Book Tour program. Additionally, NPR’s Lynn Neary will discuss the book with Morrison in a webcast interview and All Things Considered’s Michele Norris will have a broadcast interview with Morrison.

    I can’t wait until they post the link! Oh please, please, please let it be available as a podcast!

    Posted in Current Events | 3 Comments

    The Untelling Giveaway for NIAW




    You Are Not Alone

    Originally uploaded by kleopatrjones

    Anika at WriteBlack brought to my attention that last week was National Infertility Awareness Week. To mark the occasion, she posted a very moving and personal post about her experiences with this painful issue. She speaks of everything from her own struggles with the desire for “biological” children, to her experiences being the only black woman in the waiting room at the reproductive endocrinologist’s office.

    Since my second novel, The Untelling, deals with the issue of black women and infertility, I offered up a copy as a giveaway. I wanted to post here so you all could participate and to encourage you to read her post, but it all happened when I was in Nebraska.

    So, to make it right, I am offering a second copy. If you’d like to win the signed first edition of The Untelling, leave a comment over on Anika’s post about Black women and infertility. On Friday morning at 8am, I will choose a winner by using the randomizer.

    Posted in Current Events | 1 Comment

    The DAZZLING Ms. Smith!

    Congratulations to Patricia Smith who is a finalist for the NATIONAL BOOK AWARD for her poetry collection, Blood Dazzler.

    Blood Dazzler is a magnificent poetry collection lyrically exploring life in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. I heard her read at Housing Works. Amazing. Her books sold out in ten minutes flat.

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