Friday, October 25, 2013

Book News You Can Use 10/25/13

My Friday Reads is Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward.  Just started reading it, but so far, so good.

Congratulations to the Whiting Writers' Award winners!

Blame Uncle Steve and Supahead for this one: Will the celebrity self-help book trend ever die?

Following Jaycee Dugard and Elizabeth Smart, two of the three women held captive in Cleveland for a decade are writing about their experience.  BTW, Jaycee's book was really good.

Be on the lookout for the tons of books coming out about JFK.

Edwidge Danticat talks about her new book in Ebony.

In light of Grambling State's troubles, it may be a good time to pick up Breaking The Line.  Author Samuel Freedman writes about it in this essay for ESPN.

James Bond, Jeeves and Philip Marlowe have returned, thanks to new authors who have picked up the characters after their creators have passed on.

Here are five things you didn't know about Maurice Sendak.

And speaking of Sendak, this year is the 50th anniversary of Where the Wild Things Are. Some illustrators (and kids) got together and remixed some of Sendak's work.

Attention history buffs: here is a new book about an African-American who moved to Russia and became rich.

Here is a story about how Amazon and Goodreads could loose some of their best readers.  I can't totally  blame Amazon for this, because this was a problem on Goodreads before Amazon took over.

Jamie Dornan is the newest sucker actor to be in the 50 Shades of Gray movie.

The book signing with Tina McElroy Ansa will run sometime next week.  I left my notebook in Columbia and just got it back.  I am also recovering from a car accident that happened Wednesday. What a way to celebrate a birthday. I also did not go to Spartanburg to see Attica Locke yesterday, so that will not appear on the blog.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Literary Events from Delta's National Convention

In case you didn't know, I am a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.  I know, the blog's background and the 1913 on the end of my website address gave it away.  But something awesome happened this year: on January 13, we celebrated 100 years of sisterhood!

To celebrate this milestone, Delta held their biggest National Convention yet in our nation's capital! They pulled out all of the stops to make sure the 38,000 people in attendance had a good time.  And two of the programs that are always popular (at least, in my opinion) they have for the sorors during conventions is the author and artist pavilion and the Literary Cafe, which were on July 15-16.  And I like going to the step show too.

This was the second National Convention I went to.  In 2008, I attended the convention in Orlando.  The big draw that year was Hill Harper, who just came out with Letters for a Young Sister.  And E. Lynn Harris was there (sadly, this will be the last time I saw him because he passed a year later).  So I knew what the pavilion and Literary Cafe was about.

So this year, they announced on Facebook which authors were coming and most of your pretty big African-American authors were going to be there. Carl Weber, Mary B. Morrison, Kimberla Lawson Roby, Victoria Christopher Murary, ReShonda Tate Billingsly, Donna Hill, and Karen Quinones Miller were all there.  It was great to see my Facebook friends Curtis Bunn, Booker T. Mattison and Trice Hickman.  And I saw Kwame Alexander too. I run into him everywhere. :-)

But the big draw was going to be Judy Smith (the inspiration behind Scandal's Olivia Pope) and Michael Vick. Yes, Eagles quarterback Michael Vick.  And he has an autobiography out.

After two days of greeting authors and signing (and buying) books, it was time for the Literary Cafe.  There was music this year, including Chante Moore (She looks great.).  First off, Judy Smith never showed up to either of the events.  Michael Vick signed books eariler in the day (I should have taken my book to get signed then, but we'll get back to that reason later).  Kimberla, Mary, Carl and a 10-year-old author (who was a cutie) came out and talked about their books.  There was a lot of reaction from the sorors regarding Mary's attire (they must have never seen Mary or have read her books).  And Carl came walking in like George Jefferson.

But the kicker was Michael.  The host of the event literally had to hold Michael's hand to get him on to the stage.  And his statements were very short and he struggled to talk.  I found out later that Michael is very shy and had a speech impediment as a child, which explains a lot.

It was promoted that Michael (along with Kimberla, Carl, Mary and the young author) were going to sign books after they spoke.  So there was this long line for Michael and he never came back out.  Sorors were PISSED. They wanted their money back because they had bought his book and he didn't come out to sign.  Something told me that we weren't going to get our money back (because I've been to enough book signings to get a feeling for these things), and of course, that's exactly what happened. The only option was to exchange Michael's book for Kimberla's.  And that is what I did and had her to sign it.

I personally believe that Michael was not told that he was going to sign books at the Literary Cafe.  This is why.  There was a male author (who has a pretty good following) was suppose to show up at the pavilion, but they were still selling his books.  When I asked if he was coming, another male author (who was in charge of getting the authors and selling the books) said that the author wasn't coming due to a family emergency.  This was the same excuse used to get the sorors to leave after Michael didn't come back out after the Literary Cafe.

Despite the no-shows, I still had a good time.  I bought so many books that they had to be mailed back to Charleston.  Got a chance to meet authors I haven't met and meet up with others that I haven't seen in a while. Can't wait until Houston in 2015 (hopefully)!

Below is a video from The Book Look covering the event.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Book News You Can Use 10/18/13

Relax in Paradise Oscar Hijuelos.

Eleanor Catton became the youngest author ever to win the Booker Prize.

Due to poor health, Alice Munro will not be able to attend the Nobel Prize ceremony.

Here is the short list of the National Book Award nominees.

We Need New Names might have lost the Booker Prize, but NoViolet Bulawayo is still getting some love from the press.

Next year is the 75th anniversary of Madeline and she's still a hit among the kids.

By the time Goosebumps came along, I was into Fear Street.  This is what would happen if Goosebumps were written for 20-somethings.

Neil Gaiman gave a lecture on why our future depends on libraries.  He rocks.

This essay explains all of the awesome things you can learn from reading Jane Eyre.

DMC (yes, from Run DMC), has started a comic book company and has his own comic.

The guy from Sons of Anarchy probably made the best decision of his career and dropped out of the 50 Shades movie.  You can't turn crappy books into good movies, Hollywood. (Sadly, you can turn good books into crappy movies.)

Speaking of a good book that may turn into a crappy movie, a release date has been set for the Gone Girl movie.

And for all you Earth, Wind and Fire fans: Philip Bailey is coming out with a memoir.  April can't get here fast enough.

Tamika Newhouse Visits Charleston

Tamika Newhouse visited North Charleston on March 23 and visited the Sistah Reading Sistah Book Club.

Weeks before this event happened, two friends told me that Tamika was coming to Charleston.  One didn't know an actual date and when the date was revealed, she had to work.  The other friend who told me the date was suppose to come, but never showed up.  Luckily, my friend Nadia showed up and we were greeted warmly by the Sistah Reading Sistah Book Club, which is a book club for single mothers (despite the fact that Nadia and I are single, but don't have kids).  The meeting was at an Extended Stay America meeting room and representatives from Thirty-One was there.

Tamika talked about her life journey, from becoming a teen mom to a published author.  She also talked about the writing process and why she decided to go the independent route when it was time to publish her books.  Tamika has her own publishing company, Delphine Publications, and how she works with other authors.

Even though this was a small event, I still enjoyed it.  Many of us got a chance to talk with Tamika and was able to ask a variety of questions.  Even though this was the first time that Tamika visited the Holy City, I hope this will not be her last!  Let's hope that more of my friends will be available for the next time she comes to Charleston.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Sonia Sanchez Visits College of Charleston

Sonia Sanchez made her first visit to South Carolina in years when she visited the Avery Research Center at the College of Charleston on March 22.  

This event was packed! Close to 100 people came to Avery to see Sonia, in which I got a chance to see many of my neighbors.  There would have been more, but an African writers forum was going on the same time at the nearby Marriott.  There was a ting on sadness at both events due to the passing of Chinua Achebe the day before.

Growing up in Alabama, Sonia said she started writing at age 6 when she wrote a poem about her grandmother.  In between stories about her life, she shared several of her many poems.  Sonia also talked about how she is helping put up peace murals in Philadelphia (where she lives) and how she reaches out to children, saying that "they are human beings."  "We have to be innovated about peace, but we have to be peaceful ourselves," she said.

Sonia said that the new civil rights is education.  "We must become activists again for education," she said.

Sonia had the audience enthralled for two hours.  After the event, she took time to sign books and greet everyone who was in line.  She even taught me a way to interact with children during our conversation!  I know that it has been several years since she has been to the state (due to the Confederate Flag on the statehouse grounds) but I hope she visits our state again soon!

P.P.S. If anyone knows how to rotate a picture on Blogger, please put it in the comments! It will be greatly appreciated!  As you can see, one of my pics is sideways.

ETA 1/31/14 Found a way to rotate the picture through Google! :-)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pearl Cleage Comes to Claflin

Back in February, a librarian friend and I were talking about authors we had seen in person.  She told me that Pearl Cleage was coming to Claflin University in Orangeburg (where she works), but didn't know the exact date. I filed it in my memory bank, waiting to hear on the date.

Several weeks later, the thoughts of Pearl coming to Claflin returned in my head.  When I did a Google search to find out when she was coming, I found out she would be on campus THE NEXT DAY, which was March 19.  After finding out that she was doing a 6 p.m. lecture, I gather up my books and camera and decided to leave work early to drive one hour to see Pearl.

And it was worth the drive!

Pearl talked about her journey as a writer, which first started when she started reading Langston Hughes and from that point, knew that she was going to be a writer.  Pearl also talked how she finds a way to make her stories relevant to the times, saying that African-Americans and other minorities "shape the stories of new America".

She also talked about President Obama and how "everything is different when the President looks like family".  Even though other politicians have given the President a hard time, Pearl says she still believes in democracy.  "Democracy is messy and ongoing, but when it works, it's beautiful," she said.  She added that it takes more than one great president to make democracy work, but also active citizens to live up to the "promise of democracy".

Pearl also talked about her writing process.  She says that her process starts with a character, who eventually becomes a real person to her.  She also writes long-hand and uses pens in different colors.  Pearl also says that she is also looking at people. "They are a walking book," she said.  She encourages future writers to write everyday and to be engaged in the writing process.

After the lecture, I got a chance to talk to Pearl. She told me about her new book, which at the time was scheduled to be released in November (it will now be released in April).  She also asked my how did I get my name (My grandmother found the name in Jet Magazine after Minnie Riperton's passing.  Little did we know that her daughter was going to be so famous!).  Pearl is one of my favorite authors and I was so excited to finally get a chance to meet her!  It was worth the drive!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Book News You Can Use 10/11/13

Team Stacey Forever!!
Congratulations Alice Munro!

I was shocked when I found out that Elizabeth Smart was found alive.  More than ten years after her kidnapping and rescue, Elizabeth tells her story in a new book.

Malala Yousafzi is my new shero.

E-books are changing reading habits. Duh.

The movie based on The Fault In Our Starts will have a summer 2014 release date.

Michael Hastings' novel will see the light of day.

A new Richard Scarry book is coming out. The six-year-old in me is very happy.

Kimberla Lawson Roby was featured in the New York Times!

I remember reading one of my mother's Lois Duncan books as a teenager. Now she's reaching a new generation of teens.

I didn't go see Terry McMillian in Atlanta. But Our Literacy Lives and Bernice McFadden did!

And my friend Valinda got to see Terry at the National Book Festival.

They can only come up with 16 best things about being in a book club?

So Raj from The Big Bang Theory (well, the guy that plays him) is writing a memoir.  Hopefully alcohol won't needed to write the book.

This interview with Jesmyn Ward is EVERYTHING.

The Husband's Secret is going to be a movie and Liane Moriarty has her recommendations for who should be in it.  George is too nice of a guy to play such a jerk like John-Paul.  But Matt's not a bad idea for Connor.

In other movie news, The Silent Wife is also going to be a movie with Nicole Kidman playing the lead character.

Instead of toys, books will be in McDonald's Happy Meals in November.

Here is this awesome post about what your favorite Babysitters Club character says about you.    Despite what it says, I am still Team Stacey and Team Jessie.

Carl Weber Returns to Charleston

After the release of The Man in 3B, Carl Weber returned to the Northwoods Books-A-Million February 1.

There were not as many people who attended this book signing as the one in 2011, but Carl still entertained us with his stories, opinions and future plans.

The event started off with a laugh when my friend Cat noticed that Carl was wearing the same sweater that he wore when he visited Charleston the last time.  He said that he doesn't pay attention to those kind of things. LOL.

Carl mostly talked about his plans for the Family Business series.  He said that Family Business 2 was finished (it was released late August) and that he plans to expand the series to at least 15 books.  Since then, another book (To Paris With Love) has been announced and will be released in November.   He also talked about The Choir Director 2, which was scheduled to be released in February 2014, but has since been pushed back to next June.  There are also plans to turn some of his works to television shows and movies.

One thing that had several of my friends talking was Carl's take the book publishing world, especially the state of African-American fiction.  He said that "the experiment" between African-American writers and major publishers "is over".  He said that pretty much the only African-American authors that were still publishing in hardcover were him, Eric Jerome Dickey, Kimberla Lawson Roby and Zane.  He didn't include Terry McMillian, Walter Mosley and Maya Angelou because he felt that they were  considered mainstream and have fans of all races.  And I know there were some authors he forgot who still publish books in hardcover (Mary Monroe, Mary B. Morrison and Daniel Black, among others).  He said that a lot of well-known authors don't have deals with major publishers and some have gotten out of the writing business all together.  He also didn't seem to crazy about people who were publishing e-books for 99 cents on Amazon.  What are your thoughts on what he had to say?

Even though the crowd could have been bigger (which has me worried about whether any more authors will be coming to Books-A-Million in Charleston), the people who attended enjoyed the event.  Carl kept us laughing and had us looking forward to his future projects. Hope he visits South Carolina again soon!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Johnathan Safran Foer at College of Charleston

Last year, the College of Charleston picked Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals as their College Read book selection. This was part of the reason why the Charleston County Public Library chose Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close as last year's One Book Charleston County selection.  

Last October 23 (2012), I spent part of my birthday at the TD Arena to hear Foer speak about both books. But the event, since it was at C of C, was mostly about Eating Animals.  For those who don't know, Eating Animals is about how meat are manufactured and consumed by the public.

A student introduced Foer, saying that Eating Animals changed her life so much that she gave up eating meat. More power to her.  Foer reacted to her introduction by saying that the success of a book depends on the conversations that people have after reading it.  Some people may feel uncertain about reading this type of book or it may make them think.  He also said that young people are more willing to change their lifestyles than older people.

Foer said that farming has changed a lot in the last 50 years.  Corporations, rather than individual farmers, are doing now farming.  He said that Smithfield, the pork company, had over 7,000 violations in one year due to the Clean Water Act.  He also said that the corporations don't really care too much about human health and animal cruelty.  He said that the only possible solution to this problem is to promote vegetarianism.

The discussion about the food and farming industry was good, but the ones who came to hear about Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close might have been disappointed.  I did get to great him for a minute after the presentation and he did sign my book, but he quickly left.  But he seemed pretty nice.

Monday, October 7, 2013

bell hooks at College of Charleston

This post has been a year in the making, so here it goes!

When many people were getting ready to enjoy the last unofficial days of summer, many people packed the Sottile Theater last August 31(2012), to see noted feminist and scholar bell hooks at the College of Charleston.

I was surprised to see how many people, especially students, attended since the event happened the Friday before Labor Day.  The college, especially the Women and Gender Studies program, did a great job in promoting this event.

bell discussed a variety of topics during her time on stage. She talked about how it is a perilous time to be an African-American woman in the age of Michelle Obama.  She said that when you see an African-American woman, you can see "all of our journeys".  She also said that feminists theories from an African-American standpoint must not be ignored.

bell also said that despite all of the trials we go through, "love is the necessary foundation that keeps us whole".  "Anytime we do the work of love, we do the work of ending discrimination," she said.

I got to greet her before (because I was super early and came straight from work) and after the event.  She was very gracious and was treated like a rock star by the audience (especially by the students).  bell's lecture was very inspiring and I hope that she makes a return trip to the college (or visits a nearby college).

Another blogger wrote about the event here.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Book News You Can Use 10/4/13

Some of you may have seen this story already via Facebook and/or Twitter, but if you haven't seen it, here it goes.

On September 22, I ordered The Awesome Girl's Guide to Dating Extraordinary Men from a book store that was not called Amazon.  I knew the book was scheduled to come out two days later, and I figured by the time I returned home from Washington, D. C., it would be there.  And they were offering free express shipping since I was a member of their discount club.  I get an email on Friday, September 27 (last Friday, which was five days later) that the book was on back order and it would take up to four weeks to get the book. NO MA'AM.  I canceled that order and ordered through Amazon.  Monday, I got an email saying Amazon had just mailed it off and it arrived on Tuesday. And I didn't do express shipping (Amazon has two warehouses in the state and they may have come from one of them). Lesson: when in (serious) doubt, order from Amazon.  I haven't started reading the book yet, because my Amazon orders are still being sent to my parents' house. I may need to change that.

Relax in Paradise Tom Clancy.

Wendy Williams needs help in naming her new fiction book.  "How You Doing" must not be an option.

Don't we have Netflix for books already? It's called the library!

Bridget Jones fans are shocked that a major character is not in the book.

Earlier works of Michael Crichton will be republished.

This review of How To Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America is awesome. And so is this interview.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Book Events Preview

I have not featured a book event on the blog in a while.  More than a year, as a matter of fact.  So starting on Monday, October 7, I will be (finally) starting to put the book signings I've attended over the last year on the blog.  They will be in order of the event.  Here is the schedule:

Monday, October 7: bell hooks
Wednesday, October 9: Jonathan Safran Foer
Friday, October 11: Carl Weber
Monday, October 14: Pearl Cleage
Wednesday, October 16: Sonia Sanchez
Friday, October 18: Tamika Newhouse
Monday, October 21: Author's Pavilion at the 51st National Convention of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Wednesday, October 23 (My birthday): Tina McElroy Ansa
Friday, October 25: Terry McMillian

There may be one more book event preview this month, with Attica Locke coming to the Spartanburg County Library on October 24.  I am still debating on whether to attend this one, since I would have to take at least a day and a half off of off work, would have to drive three hours there (and three hours back), and spend the night at a hotel. But then, I can use the birthday weekend excuse.

Sorry for the delay in getting these out and enjoy!

ETA 10/6/13: Terry in Atlanta didn't happen. I was going to ride with Valinda, but due to the government shutdown, she had to work extra hours (at least she was working). And I didn't want to drive by myself. Hopefully, Terry will see this and decide to visit Charleston (or somewhere nearby) very soon.