R.I.P. Don Belton

I am sorry to post such bad news in the middle of the holiday season. Don Belton, novelist and scholar, has been murdered. Don was on the MFA faculty at The University of Indiana. Although I didn’t know him, I was familiar with his work and I am sure that there are readers of this blog who considered him to be a friend. articleHere is an about the incident. Also you can visit his website which he was just getting off the ground. I love the little placeholder bio he put up:
“Don was born in posh penthouse on the Right Bank of Paris with a silver spoon in his mouth, listening to Miles Davis playing live in celebration of his birth.”

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Closing Down for Christmas

I am heading home to Atlanta in about an hour. I’m not taking my computer, so no new posts until after the holidays. I hope that everyone has a lovely holiday. I know this season is difficult for a lot of people, so for those folks, keep in mind that it is brief. This time next week, it will be all over for another year. For folks who enjoy this family time, you too, should keep in mind that it is brief and enjoy every second.
Take care. See you in a few days.

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Naughty or Nice Links

  • The little girl on the right is author Virginia DeBerry!
  • An interesting discussion about book advances that won’t freak you out.
  • 367 magazines closed down this year.
  • Sweet tender first-time novelists, take heart! Old grizzled vets, don’t click the link.
  • I love Sue Grafton and Kinsey, too!
  • Wierdly, and I don’t know what this means, but the 2009 end-of-year trend is holding steady even with the list of the books most stolen!
  • One thing I love about Shelley is that you never know where her interests will take her. This week, she is about about defending JCO! (That’s Joyce Carol Oates to the ininitiated.)
  • This is the cutest thing in the world. Well, the cutest thing I have seen today.
  • Akashic has done a lovely job for Glorious, Bernice MacFadden’s new novel. She is giving a copy away.
  • Literary Ladies Lunch in Denver.
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    You Have GOT To Be Kidding Me

    (via harperstudio) full cover w.o label
    I was just going to let the picture do the talking, but I have to say that this cover is abusive. It makes black literature seem foreign and weird. This picture does not make you want to read a book by a black authors. And the fists? Good Lord, as if sisters– in writing and in life– don’t have to worry about seeming scary and intimidating. (Mrs. Obama, can I get an Amen?)
    I probably should take some more time before posting. You aren’t supposed to blog when you’re angry. But whatevs.
    Here are relevant tweets:
    @carleenbrice: Did I wake up in 1971? NEW trends in writing = Afro picks? & a headful of them, no less!
    @Dolen: And hello!! They described my book as being about “four white female friends.”
    @notell:maybe pw’s plan to stay in business is to alienate all their readers, one segment at a time?
    @ruthellenkocher:i think the PW cover depicts american black writing as cultish, personally. voodoo. foreign.

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    Arrived Alive!

    The View From My Window

    Originally uploaded by kleopatrjones

    I’m here at Vermont Studio Center. I’ve just arrived in my cozy little apartment, but I feel snug as a bug in a rug. (When I was a kid, that was my favorite expression.) The photo on the left is just a quickie that I snapped with my phone from the window. It is too cold and wet to go out.

  • Goodbye Kirkus Reviews! Can’t say I am sad to see it go. Never has anyone said such mean things about my work.
  • Do not buy me any of this stuff for Christmas! (My wish list includes this, this, and this.)
  • Author, Katherine Dunn, kicks butt. Literally.
  • How to make a purse from a book.
  • Oh good gracious. Tavis Smiley to publish R. Kelly’s memoir.
  • Bread Loaf on iTunes.
  • Jesmyn Ward is having a very good week!
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    On My Way To The Frozen Tundra

    I am getting myself ready to go to the Vermont Studio Center, where I will be a Visiting Writing. I’ll give a reading, give manuscript consultations, and deliver a craft talk. I know it seems like a lot of work, but in return I get a little extra Christmas cash, and I will be able to enjoy VSC and spend some quality time working on my own manuscript. I am looking forward to the trip, but Man-Oh-Man is it going to be cold up there!
    I’ll have wi-fi in my apartment, so I’ll post photos and a report about how the place is set up, food, etc. It seems like a nice idea– as a resident writer, you would get your own quiet workspace, but also have access to the visiting writer who would look at your manuscript. Also, it seems that the resident writers are there for about a month, but visiting writers are rotated every week and the roster of visitors looks pretty swanky. So, more details to come.
    xoxo, T

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    Ain’t Nothing Going on But The Rent

    It's A Job

    Writers, here is a most unique opportunity. The WWE is hiring a creative writer. Here are the deets.

    Creative Writer, World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. Join the most electrifying company in the entertainment industry today! World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. develops & produces the last of the great variety shows on television, combining all the elements of entertainment: sitcom, talk show, soap opera, action-adventure, & drama. With 52 weeks of original programming, without an off-season or re-runs, it is quite a creative challenge to keep characters & story lines interesting & compelling. That’s where you come in! More info, including how to apply is available online.

    This was brought to my attention by David Dickerson, who spent a good decade of his life writing cards for Hallmark, which was kind of like writing for the WWE. He’s got a book about it and a collection of zany videos in which he makes custom cards for weird occaisions.

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    Rae Lewis Thornton, Trailblazer

    Today is World Aids Day. Last year I wrote about my experience getting testedwhich I now do annually as part of my physical. Knowing your HIV status is part of taking care of yourself.
    This year, I want to turn the clock back fifteen years. I was about twenty-four years old and I picked up Essence Magazine. Back in those days, Essence was serious. It wasn’t all how-to-get-a-man or celebrities-in-love. Back then, Essence was where you went if you were a black woman who was trying to make sense of the world. There on the cover was Rae Lewis Thornton.
    She was gorgeous, in that way all sisters are on the cover of Essence. She looked the way I wanted to look. Underneath a photo of her wearing a tight black dress looking at the camera, was the caption, FACING AIDS. As Crystal Wilkinson said on twitter this morning, Rae turned AIDS from “their” story to our story.
    In the article, she talked about being a professional woman who only dated professional black men– the Morehouse man type, and I mean that in the historical way. At a blood drive at her very good job, she found out her status and had no idea from whom she contracted the disease. Keep in mind that this is when Aids was understood to be a death sentence.
    Nowdays, there are many Aids activists and people living publicly with Aids isn’t such a shocker, but Rae Lewis Thornton came out when no one was talking to black women– or women period– about Aids. She is a hero.
    Today she is on twitter talking about the realities of living with Aids. (For example, her co-pay is $2400 a month for her healthcare!.) Read her feed to see what she has to say, but also go get tested. You need to know.

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    Poetry Giveaway!

    lyrae van clief-stefanon

    Originally uploaded by kleopatrjones

    As I was leaving the National Book Awards, I spied a small stack of Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon’s poetry collection, Open Interval. I grabbed a couple and I want to give one way to one of you! Leave a comment and I will choose a winner at random on Tuesday morning.

    Lyrae is a gorgeous is poet and Open Interval is a beautiful book. I know it is an honor just to be nominated or the National Book Award, but I was really hoping that she would take it home.

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    So The National Book Awards Happened

    This Year’s Winners.

    Originally uploaded by kleopatrjones

    By now I am sure that you have all heard the news about the National Book Awards. To put it succinctly, white men swept the evening– all categories, including the honorary awards. It was a tense night– after Publishers Weekly excluded women from it’s 2009 “best of” list and the “5 under 35” were all white, it was hard not to feel a trend.

    Of course, the world is complicated. There was quite a bit of diversity in both the judging panels and the finalists. All categories included women and writers of color.

    I will admit that I don’t know what to make of it. I know how it felt to be a woman writer of color that evening. I had a number of weirdly marginalizing personal encounters that evening. I arrived in high spirits and left feeling a bit deflated.

    I want to say something profound here, or help make sense of things, but I am still feeling a little shell shocked, and unsure what it really means. I don’t usually like posting when I don’t really have anything to say, but I also like to keep my readers informed. So here it is, information.

    On a happier note, I did get some cute photos while everyone was still in a good mood.

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