Rutgers-Newark Now Accepting Applications!

Last year, I announced the happy news that I would soon be joining the MFA faculty at Rutgers-Newark University. I am thrilled to announce that we are accepting applications for the 2007-08 academic year in fiction, poetry and non fiction. Please visit our website for application guidelines.
Our program has a motto: Real lives, Real stories. I think that tells you just about everything you need to know about our mission. I know that there are many of you who have been toying with the idea of going to school to study creative writing. It’s a new year and it might be the right time for you to make the commitment.
Below is a letter of invitation from program director, Jayne Anne Phillips:

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The plan was that I would stay home. I turned down fine invitations. Instead, I cleaned the whole house, top to bottom– I want an orderly year in 2007. I imagined myself sitting in my home office, dutifully pecking away at my new novel as the new year struck.
This is not what happened.
Around 5 pm, I started feeling, well.. TRAPPED by my singular devotion to writing. It was NEW YEAR’S EVE for goodness sake. I called my favorite restaurant, The Peacock Cafe, and discovered that they had a fabulous NYE prix fix. Not only that: Kremena, the most terrific Bulgarian bartender was on duty. (A restaurant is only as good as its bartender. I know “Top Chef” fans would disagree, but it’s true!) I stripped off the foot-pajamas, slipped into something a little more festive, and headed to the restuarant.
I’m back home now, full of good food and my favorite champagne. I’m still hoping to be writing when the new year comes rolling in. But this is a more fitting way to start 2007. Still writing, but also living life!
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! Let’s make 2007 the best one yet.
xo, Tayari

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A Step By Step Guide to Red Velvet Cake

Last week, I called myself being helpful by posting the recipe for Red Velvet Cake. Ladylee, then had the nerve to suggest that I was half-stepping because I failed to include pictures. Always one to lead by example, she took me by the hand and showed me her gumbo post.
Okay. I can take a hint. I made a Red Velvet Cake for Christmas and here are the pics I took along the way. And, as a bonus, I was able to watch a friend make Paella! (Warning, there aren’t too many pictures as I was getting on his nerves and he threw me out of the kitchen.)

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Goose-Egg Advance

More and more authors are leaving big publishing houses, and the big advances that come along with it. Why? To go to smaller houses where they will get more attention. There is an interesting article in The Wall Street Journal about this trend.
I am intrigued by this idea. My first two novels were published by Warner Books, a very large NY publishing house. Warner has lots of money at its disposal, but it also has a LOT of books coming out in any given month. Publicity efforts are cranked up for the first few weeks after publication and after that, the author is pretty much on her own.
David Morell, a best selling author who left a big house (and a six-figure advance) for Vanguard, a must smaller (and poorer) establishment.

“Traditional publishing functions as an assembly line,” says Mr. Morrell. “Often by the time a book is published the project has gone through various departments and the memory of why certain decisions were made weren’t passed along, so nobody can understand what’s going on.” By contrast, Mr. Morrell says he is involved in every step of the marketing at Vanguard, which plans on publishing only one or two books a month for the near future.
Vanguard says it is responding to the rapid-fire changes that have given the once-sleepy publishing world a distinctly casino-like atmosphere. Increasingly these days books have only a week or two to establish themselves as big hits; otherwise they’re quickly washed to the back of the store.

I think this is a really exciting development in publishing. I just have one little question: What happens to those of us who really need the money and can’t really afford to skip the advance?
via ed, and here’s maud’s take

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Semester’s End

It’s the end of the semester here at George Washington. The pic below is of my students at the farewell pizza party last week. (Here’s the rest of the album) I’ve decided to let them type on the blog as they hand in their final portfolios. Think of it as a virtual guest book.
Justin: I flipped off my couch and broke my arm. I go into surgery tomorrow. But I turned in my final. Have a great holiday everyone.
Courtney: Unfortunately, I’m not in this picture!! I am so glad this semester is over! In two days I’ll be a college graduate!!!! Is it as scary out there in the real world as it seems? Thanks for the great semester Professor Jones! Happy Holidays!

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Input Needed… RIGHT NOW

In about an hour, I am going to be on WPFW, Pacifica Radio in DC. (89.3 FM) Josephine Reed, the host of “On The Margin” has asked me about books that I recommend this season. They don’t have to be holiday books, but more like books you’d recommend to folks as they make their holiday gift lists. I have ideas, but what are yours? Comment quick: I go on at 10:10!

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Applications are now open for the spring writing workshop. (The fall session was such a sucess!)
If you’re in the DC area, I urge you to apply. The official announcement is below:

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Some thoughts on Publicity

I’m guest blogging over at DGLM. Tip on over there, sil vous plait.

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Modern Nig*** Manifesto?

Friends, I was getting into the holiday spirit this morning, planning to kick off the week with a seasonal blog post– a shopping list, or maybe a nice southern recipe– when I got an email from Dr. Jelani Cobb, alerting me to a new article by John Ridley in this month’s Esquire.
The mistletoe will have to wait.
Frankly, I was so stunned and offended by the article entitled “The Manifesto of Ascendancy for the Modern American Nig***,” that I flipped to the end, waiting for a punch line. I mean, this just had to be satire, right? No one could be this mean-spirited and unnuanced. Could they? He isn’t really writing in Esquire about the difference between “ascendant black people” and “nig***s?”
Uh, yes he is. And he’s not using asterisks. I am sort of freaked out, so I will let Brother Jelani take it from here.

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Thank You! (Whoever You Are)

I suppose this is a sad commentary on my life: When I see a florist coming up my front steps with a bouquet of roses, my first thought is “I wonder why my agent is sending me flowers.”
These lovely blossoms– pink and white, my favorites, were not from my agent. That’s all I know for sure.
I figure that whomever knows me well enough to know how much I needed a pick me up, and knows my real address, probably knows my blog address. So, thank you, Friend. Whoever you are. I needed some kindness today. Thanks for providing it.

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