Lammy Finalist

I had a good time at the 29th Annual Lambda Literary Awards gala.  BMWIDCMMM

My book, Bury Me When I’m Dead, was a finalist in the Lesbian Mystery category.    I didn’t win this time, but honored to have my book recognized.

Thank you, Bywater Books, and the Lambda Literary Awards Board and Staff.

Someone Tell Me to Remove my Name tag.

Someone Tell Me to Remove my Name tag.

Make America Great, Please.

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In the span of two days, this week in May of 2017, two incidents of racial hatred demonstrate that America’s race problem is far from solved.

On the brink of the NBA Finals, basketball superstar LeBron James’ home was spray painted with a racial epithet.   The very next day, authorities find a noose among the artifacts and exhibits at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Lebron James responds:

“Hate in America, especially for African Americans, is living every day.” 

Response from the National Museum of African American History and Culture:

“Today’s incident is a painful reminder of the challenges that African Americans continue to face.”

~ Lonnie Bunch III Founding Director

Catchy Title?

Book Titling is the funnest part of writing a book.   Working on the title for upcoming books.   I have 44 choices.  BTW  Is “funnest” a word?

book title
Give Me a Good Reason
Keep Me From The Dark
Hold Me When I’m Bad
Kill Me With Your Kisses
Bring Me to The Precipice
Ignore Me At Your Peril
Protect Me in The Corridor
Trust Me to Save You

Words On a Train

I, too, like writing on a train.  Yesterday, in a 2-hour trip from Philadelphia to Washington, DC I outlined my next book.   That’s the kind of productivity I can’t usually find at my desk.

Up to now, the appeal of writing in DC’s cafes/coffee shops/bookstores has eluded me. Orders for lattes, cranberry scones, and milling hipsters does not inspire my prose.  I need a grittier approach.  Case in point, last week, to get myself writing, I yelled aloud (in my own house) Let’s Get Ready to Rumble!!Train yard

My current writing is a set of short stories (more on that later) and a crime series, with lesbian protagonist, P.I. Charlene “Charlie” Mack.  It’s set in Detroit, in the mid 2000s, when Detroit was caught between an era of chaotic and depressing government mismanagement, and its inevitable slide to insolvency.  Then, sliders were more prominent than scones; liquor more ubiquitous than lattes.

The stimulation I need to write this series, comes from watching people in the urgency of their lives.  So, there’s nothing like sitting in a train station for a half-hour  before your announced departure, and spying the microcosm of humanity that parades there.   I get great ideas for clothing descriptions, how people walk, body language, and what I’ve come to label the various train “types.”

My short stories are about the dynamics of relationships–among friends, within families, occurring in casual encounters, playing out in workplaces.  Many of these stories depict the lives of black people, in all their huge normalcy, innovation, dysfunction, hope and challenge.

Those stories are supported by my life and experiences, but also from the information that bombards me from television, Twitter, Tedtalks, telephone conversations, and train rides.

Train travels…short and long…are wonderful sources for dialogue, eavesdropped or overheard.  The window seat provides a panoramic view of the backsides of people’s lives where industry, poverty, and creativity abound.  Peering into the backyards of houses gives you a better sense of how folks live, then the facade of curb appeal.  The manufacturers of today and yesterday display their real enterprise at the rear of factories.  Graffitti–phat, bold, cursive and colorful, demonstrates the vitality of ideas that wish to be expressed.

For me, riding the rails sparks my imagination; and locomotion stirs my writing.

 

NMAAHC’s Letter to Black Americans

Dear Black America:
It was good to have you visit, and to lay eyes on you and give you a wide-open embrace. I love you in all your hues, and do’s and views.
I admire your tenacity, creativity, and innovation. I remember you, and I celebrate your valor, swagger, intellect, and style. You have done all of us honor, and made our country greater than it might have been. I am proud of you.
I hope you can see, from the care we have given in preparation of your visit, that we deeply appreciate you.
It is our privilege to welcome all visitors. But your company is especially cherished. NMAAHCPlease, don’t let too much time pass, before I see you again.

With all, due, fondness,
National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The Writing Life

AWP Adichie-Coates

Full House at AWP 2017 for Chimamanda Adichie & Ta-Nehisi Coates

I attended my second conference of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) this past week.  It is a very well attended gathering of students, administrators of MFA writing programs, publishers, scholars, and writers of all ilks.

I love the diversity of this conference in both its attendees, and the topics covered.  Hats off to the AWP organizers for the breadth of topics covered in the more than 300 sessions.

Somedays, I learned a little bit; other days, I learned a lot about the craft of writing.  That’s why I attended.  But the most important thing I gained was a renewed sense of my power and goals in writing.

Poets ruled this conference (and the world, I’ve come to realize).  As a fiction writer, I am inspired by poetry.

The immersion in the life of writing:  reading, pitching, crafting, researching, collaborating, encouraging, reviewing, critiquing, teaching and learning were the gifts I received during AWP.

Thank you!

Book Review

Brokeback MountainBrokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a small book; a published version of the original short story. I loved the movie, so when I found this book on the shelves of Proud Books in Rehoboth, Delaware, I scooped it up.

Proulx’s writing is masculine, visceral, whittled down wood. Yet it has the long lines and strong thighs of a male ballet dancer. Short on punctuation, and long on just the necessary adjective, Brokeback Mountain allows the reader to feel the longing of its protagonists.

View all my reviews