The BackList

This is a retired blog. For the new and improved BackList blog, please visit!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Florida State's MFA program

I only have an MA (but still hope to teach with it one day) but apparently the program at Florida State is bananas (that's slang for tight, i mean exceptional).

If I did get my MFA (which at a time I thought I should have and applied to programs like Sarah Lawrence only to realize that I wasn't ready to write), I wouldn't have mind being in Florida. I love Florida and I am sure it would have been "warmer" (read: friendlier) than Boston.

Danyel Smith

Went to Danyel Smith’s reading yesterday for her new book Bliss. She drew a pretty big crowd in McNally Robinson. She seemed incredibly comfortable, front and center which allowed personality to shine through. I’ve been to some readings where the author is quite boring but Danyel was pretty down-to-earth.

Okay so I am not going to lie. My father got me into visualization. Visualize yourself doing what you want to do, he says. So for a moment I visualized myself up there, front and center reading from my book. Let me tell you, I was working the crowd, they loved me!

Okay back to Danyel. She said that her ultimate writing goal is to write a tome, an epic or as she desribed, a book thick like Roots. She wants to be able to capture’s a readers attention for 800 pages. That is definitely something to work towards in our soundbyte society. I just wonder about carrying an 800-pager on the subway. I don’t even like dragging hardcovers on there. But again, I acknowledge the fact that I am a little lazy.

I haven’t read Bliss yet, but am eager to get started. (Do I always say that? But it’s the truth.)

NYT Bestsellers

NYT bestsellers: Terry has debuted at #2 and Confessions of a Video Vixen (who has been on the least for four weeks now) is at number 5.

Look out for my book: Confessions of a Broke Chick with Lofty Goals Who Is Looking For a Hustle As Good As Superhead’s But Not As Degrading

Am I hating?

Monday, July 25, 2005

I love stories like these

One of the co-founders of Ego Trip (the media company that founded the Ego Trip magazine, wrote two related books, and had that television show) penned a piece in Fortune on how they did what they did. Granted he makes it sound easy, a little, I still find inspiration in it as I try to get things going. You can go against the grain (and be a person of color) and be successful.

When I read this I also realize that you can't underestimate the power of a good team.

A strange article

Is it me or do parts of this article seem unreal? There is a strange tone in this article that seems to imply that this homeless man is being exploited.

Lee Stringer, published by Seven Stories, was once homeless and became an author based on the work he did in the newspaper to help the homeless. Yet when I read pieces written about him, I didn't feel like he was exploited, but it was a win-win situation all around and luckily he has been able to improve the quality of his life.

Let's hope the same for Cadillac Man.

Check out Cora Daniels on Thursday

Another plug for the event I am co-hosting this Thursday.

I hope you can come through! Starts at 6:30, feel free to come then, take advantage of drink specials, unwind after work, hear great music. engage in stimulating conversation and learn about a wonderful book.

Hosted by & The JI Group
Thursday, July 28th, 2005
Time: 6:30-8:30 pm (weekly lounge event continues until 11:00 pm)
Location: Azaza Lounge, 891 1st Avenue @ 50th Street, NY, NY
Price: Free
Contact: Felicia Pride,

Meet Black Power Inc. author and Fortune magazine writer, Cora Daniels, at “Conversation Thursdays”, the premiere after-work event that features a relaxed lounge setting, drink specials, and great conversation. Copies of Black Power Inc. will be available for purchase and signing.

About Black Power Inc.
Today's young Black professionals have attained the sort of education, connections, and experience that those before them could only have imagined. As they rise in the ranks of the corporate elite, and enter circles of power previously closed to them, they are changing the way corporate America relates to Black America—and vise-versa. In Black Power Inc., Fortune magazine writer Cora Daniels offers a brutally honest and personal look at the corporate world from the perspective of young Black executives around the country.

Cora Daniels is an award-winning journalist, staff writer for Fortune Magazine and a contributing writer to FSB: Fortune Small Business magazine. Her work has been published in the New York Times, USA Today, Savoy, Honey and New York Newsday. She has also been a commentator on ABC Morning News, CNN, BET, and NPR. She holds a BA in history from Yale University and a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University. She is working on her next book entitled, Ghettonation. Visit her online at

Nalo Hopkinson's blog

Check out Nalo Hopkinson's blog.

The official backlist t-shirts which I sold at the HBF (a short wrap-up about the fair soon) features a list of great black writers on the front. Nalo is one of them. Check out her stuff if you haven't already.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Johnny Temple speaks the truth

Johnny Temple, publisher of the funky Akashic Books wrote a great piece in BookStandard about the shelving plight of minority writers. The age-old conundrum, where should minorities writers be shelved in the bookstore.

I say it is a conundrum because I would be lying if I said the "black section" didn't help me find certain titles. But I guess this could be assuaged by knowledgeable sales people. But I know for black writers, gay writers, etc in order to move forward there needs to be integration within the bookstore and the larger sections like fiction (so that the visibility goes beyond black history month).

My favorite paragraph from Johnny's piece:
"Patrik’s admonition is on point, and it brings to mind the multiple big-house editors whom I have heard complain, “I can’t find any good fiction.” That’s a bunch of bull. What they mean is, they can’t find any good fiction that their unimaginative corporate bosses will green-light. There is a lot of excellent unpublished fiction, but publishers (both big and small) are increasingly bottom-line–driven, and they really do try to put books in marketing boxes: black, gay, celebrity, whatever. Beyond a reductive publicity angle and a half-hearted (though often over-funded) initial promotional push, big publishers rarely put creative energy or additional resources into their marketing—unless a book hits big, in which case they immediately start firing on all cylinders. "

Aha. Marketing books can sometimes be such a guessing game, but does that mean we have to be lazy about it?

Friday, July 22, 2005

Book readings

i've been wondering lately about the effectiveness of the book reading, not from the standpoint of a bookperson, but from the business/sales standpoint. The last few readings I went to have not been well-attended, hardly any books were sold. Now I enjoyed myself but I think about the people that attend readings for authors who may not be McMillan, Sedaris, Madonna. For authors who aren't household names or haven't yet established a core following it seems that the people that come out for their readings are: family/friends, agent/editor and folks who just like to go to author readings. And the second group, i am learning isn't that large of a group.

I think of many of my friends and most of them have never been to an author reading.

I think the benefits of the reading are for the connection with the audience and I must say I am a big supporter of that, I think it is important and a incredibly payoff when authors do it. But i wonder how can authors attract folks in such a busy marketplace as well as attract folks who would not normally attend an author reading.

I'm rambling. more later.

Mark Anthony Neal

has a blog called the Newblackman after his book. Check it out he's got a post talking about the Black Panther's hot sauce. Whoa.

I know I say this a lot but I really enjoy Mark's writing--the crazy mix of intelligence and "keepin it real". He is more or less perfected that combination.

Weird Entry, I know

But I was asked to post it to let folks know how the Post office is getting involved in the literary community and the community at large. I like the James Baldwin stamps it is hard for me to use them (but when push came to shove and I ran out of the flags I had to resort to Jimmy).


African-American Stamp Collection honored during month-long Harlem festivities

July 19, 2005 (New York, NY) – In its continuing effort to highlight the importance of preserving African-American history and culture through stamp collecting, the U.S. Postal Service will honor the Postal Service African-American Stamp Collection during several of New York’s famed Harlem Week 2005 events.

The Postal Service will kick off their Harlem Week involvement with a discussion panel entitled More than Postage: The Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston and James Baldwin Stamps at the 6th Annual Harlem Book Fair this Saturday, July 23 from noon to 1:15 PM at Countee Cullen Library in Harlem.

Moderated by Postal Service public affairs/communications manager Monica Hand and featuring poet Haki R. Madhubuti, artist/stamp designer Barbara Higgins Bond, James Baldwin’s niece
Aisha Karefa-Smart, and ESPER (Ebony Society of Philatelic Events and Reflections) president Manuel Gilyard, the panel will focus on the literary and historical contributions of Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and James Baldwin and the difference it makes having their images grace U.S. postage stamps.

“The recognition that is being given to Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston and James Baldwin by printing their likeness on a United States postage stamp recognizes their literary achievements and serves as a source of pride to all people of African descent,” says panelist Madhubuti. “These faces educate everyone to the fact that there are people of color who have written great literary works.”

"The addition of the James Baldwin postage stamp to the African-American stamp collection shows how postage stamps have become a part of American popular culture,” maintains Karefa-Smart. “It provides a way for Americans who identify with James Baldwin and what he represented to show their appreciation and support his legacy."

The first U.S. stamp to recognize an African American (Booker T. Washington) was issued in 1940. Today, there are hundreds of U.S. stamps commemorating the achievements of African Americans including recent issues of stamps depicting Langston Hughes (2002), Zora Neale Hurston (2003) and James Baldwin (2004).

“These writers addressed American race relations and celebrated African-American culture in the United States,” says panel moderator Hand. “Their work embraced a host of socio-economic issues that are relevant today. The Postal Service is happy to honor their contributions and to do its part to keep their stories alive.”

What would Hughes, Hurston and Baldwin think about being pictured on postage stamps? How does this honor carry on their legacy? What difference does it make? Who should be next? These questions and more will be discussed this Saturday, July 23 during the panel, More than Postage: The Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston and James Baldwin Stamps at Countee Cullen Library.

WHAT: More than Postage: The Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston
and James Baldwin Stamps

WHO: Moderator – Monica Hand (USPS)
Panelists – Haki R. Madhubuti (poet/publisher), Barbara Higgins Bond (artist/stamp designer), Aisha Karefa-Smart (James Baldwin’s niece), Manuel Gilyard (ESPER)

WHERE: Countee Cullen Library, 2nd Fl, Conference Room A
104 West 136th Street [near Lenox Ave.]
New York, NY 10030-2695

WHEN: Saturday, July 23, 2005

TIME: 12:00 PM – 1:15 PM

The Postal Service will also be involved in the following Harlem Week 2005 events:

1. “A Great Day in Harlem” – July 31, 2005
Ulysses S. Grant National Memorial Park
(W. 122nd St. & Riverside Drive)
Noon – 9:00 PM

A day of international exhibitors and vendors displaying a variety of exotic dishes, cultural arts, crafts, clothing, and more! The USPS will have their own booth featuring African-American stamp art, stamp-collecting information and keepsakes.

2. NY City Economic Development Awards Luncheon and Expo – August 9, 2005
Columbia University
115th Street and Broadway
11:30 AM – 2:30 PM

This event will feature important presentations on major development projects city-wide and will recognize outstanding business and governmental executives who contribute to the economic prosperity and revitalization of New York City. The USPS will host a demo presentation of their latest online Click N’ Ship and NetPost products and services.

3. Harlem Day – August 21, 2005
135th Street from 5th to St. Nicholas Aves.
10:00 AM – 8:00 PM

A full day celebrating the best of Harlem, including an international exhibitors and vendors’ expo, an auto show, and a health fair. The USPS will display a booth featuring African-American stamp art, stamp-collecting information and keepsakes.

4. Tri-State Historic Black College Reunion Reception – August 18, 2005
By invitation only

Gala honoring historic Black colleges and universities, presidents, and their alumni. The USPS will
have a booth featuring information on Postal Service careers, African-American Stamps, and the latest
online Click N’ Ship and NetPost products and services.

5. National Black Sports & Entertainment Hall of Fame Gala – August 30, 2005
Aaron Davis Hall
133rd Street & Convent Avenue
5:30 P.M.

An induction and gala reception as well as the 2005 HARLEM WEEK Awards Program. Legendary singer and 2005 USPS stamp honoree Marian Anderson will be inducted into the National Black Sports & Entertainment Hall of Fame. The USPS will be in attendance to honor Anderson.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

New BackList issue

A new BackList issue has published. Check it out at

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Christopher John Farley

So I planned to go to two readings yesterday.

The first was Terry McMillan at Hue-Man in Harlem. I've never seen her read and with all that is happening, thought it could be a good time. I got there about 15 minutes late, thus I was right on time. Nope. Filled to capacity. Sistas got there early. And many were mad they couldn't get to see her read. They did have a television screen setup where you could view the reading. I wasn't mad, I was just hot. Literally, this weather is too much for me. So I felt a little discouraged due to the heat and the subway ride uptown so I decided to leave and go to reading number two (which put me closer to my house).

Christopher John Farley was reading at 7:00 at McNally Robinson from his new book Kingston by Starlight. The turnout was almost the opposite of Terry's, which meant it was rather intimate. I was able to chat with Christopher a little while about books (mixed with my rants about what's wrong with publishing) to my thoughts on remixing the traditional book reading. It was a good time, got my signed copy and am adding it high on the reading list. If anyone has read it, I would be interested in knowing what you thought.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Can't Stop wins ABA

Congrats to Jeff Chang. My mouth dropped when I read his email. Can't Stop Won't Stop won an American Book Award. WOW. I am very happy for him.

A book about hip hop wins ABA award. We've come a long way!

BackList Update

In the approaching months, BackList will be growing and changing. Look out for the next issue which will publish in a few days. For now, here is an update on other great things:

Harlem Book Fair--
Stop by and visit BackList and Okaybooks at booth#S322, located on 135th, between Lennox & 5th, closer to Lennox.

I’ll be selling fabulous BackList t-shirts and at 3:15, we will host a signing with Yvonne Bynoe, author of Stand and Deliver: Political Activism, Leadership, and Hip Hop Culture.

Also, on Thursday July, 28th, BackList will co-host its first offline event at Azaza Lounge in Manhattan. Here is info on the event:
Hosted by & The JI Group
Thursday, July 28th, 2005
Time: 6:30-8:30 pm (weekly lounge event continues until 11:00 pm)
Location: Azaza Lounge, 891 1st Avenue @ 50th Street, NY, NY
Price: Free
Contact: Felicia Pride,
Meet Black Power Inc. author and Fortune magazine writer, Cora Daniels, at “Conversation Thursdays”, the premiere after-work event that features a relaxed lounge setting, drink specials, and great conversation. Copies of Black Power Inc. will be available for purchase and signing.

I am now offering writing and promotional services including newsletter development, press releases, press kits, and marketing/promotional writing for authors, publishers and organizations. Visit for more information.

And in complying with demand, BackList is offering cheap, cheap advertising opportunities for as low as 12.00/month. Visit for more information

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Books at the Pier Event--Sunday July 24

The Media, Incarceration and Public Policy - Is There A Connection? at Books at the Pier, a benefit for Books Through Bars.
Frying Pan/Pier 63, New York City For directions, please visit
For more information, please call 888-999-6761.

Authors and Journalists Rally to Support Prison Literacy
July 24 Books @ the Pier to Benefit “Books Through Bars”
NEW YORK (Jun 23) - Dozens of authors and journalists will join advocates in support for maintaining and increasing educational programs and resources for people incarcerated, event organizers announced today.
The July 24 mid-summer celebration of books and authors at “Books @ the Pier” will be held on Pier 63 at West 23rd Street. The event, a benefit for the non-profit literacy program, “Books Through Bars”, will feature authors Walter Mosley, Herb Boyd, Amy Goodman, Terrie Williams, Juan Gonzalez, Toby Thompkins, Darren Coleman, Jimmie Briggs and Deborah Mathis, among others. Two major panel discussions will take place along with selected readings from noon – 5:30 pm.
Books Through Bars is an all-volunteer project that distributes free books and reading material to those incarcerated nationwide. “More and more incarcerated individuals from around the country including New York State write to tell us that we are their only outside source of educational reading material”, said Melissa Morrone, a New York City Books Through Bars coordinator.
“Education is not only critical for self-rehabilitation and empowerment,” said event coordinator Linda Duggins, “but also for enhanced public safety. People educated while in prison, simply commit less crime upon release, making all the rest of us much safer.”
“This important gathering of members of the media and the publishing community will address critical educational issues and encourage a public dialogue around the necessary remedial steps to be taken”, said Eddie Ellis, host of “On the Count,” the weekly public affairs radio program on WBAI 99.5 FM in New York City and event organizer.
“There are few issues as important to the safety and well being of urban communities as the return to these communities of people incarcerated,” said Dr. Divine Pryor, executive director of the NuLeadership Policy Group, a public policy think tank at Medgar Evers College in the City University of New York, comprised completely of professionals who spent time in prison.
“Education is the key to most successful transitions from prison to community and as such should be one of our top public policy priorities,” he said.
Books Through Bars, On The Count!, and numerous other community and faith-based organizations will attend to demonstrate their support for educational reforms that allow for: • Pell Grant re-eligibility of incarcerated people; • Return of college programming to the prisons; • Providing books and other material to people inside, and • Increasing pre-release training, job preparation and transitional assistance for the thousands annually returning to inner city communities.
The organizations involved encourage writers, publishers and the media to become more involved. This special event, Books @ the Pier, is presented to celebrate authors and books and to educate the public around these issues.

Original paperbacks

Doug Seibold, publisher of Agate in Chicago, wrote an interesting piece in BookStandard about publishing original trade paperbacks.

To me, this piece illuminates how much publishing is at the mercy of so many different factions (bookstores, distributors). This time around is the media. One of the reasons why publishers shied away from doing original trade paperbacks is because the media won't review them? This is why things are so slow to change: Publishers accept the media's decision about paperbacks (which really has no basis, it is just the result of an outdated perception/snobbery) instead of trying new ways of publishing that can help their business.

Of course Doug makes a good point about the money that hardcovers can bring in, but how does that stand up to 40% returns?

I just wish publishers would make decisions based on valid reasoning instead of based on "tradition."

Saturday, July 16, 2005

BackList mention in USA Today

Mad thanks goes out to Kevin Smokler, author of Bookmark Now. He listed BackList as a web resource and it was picked up in an interview he did with USA Today. Scroll down to the box with web resources and check me out among McSweeney's.

If only the BackList had been updated! But new content is coming this week. Yippie!

Support the Bookmark movement by purchasing a copy and spreading the word. The collection has some amazing writers in it.

Friday, July 15, 2005

i need to stop playing

Since everybody and their momma's momma are writing a book, I need to stop playing. What am I waiting for? Some mysterious talent to hit me? Um, I'd be waiting all day if I am waiting on that. I mean I could probably write a decent book and get a decent advance for it. I mean honestly the advance is all I want (got my eyes on the prize). I'm not going to do fiction, just yet, I'll stick to nonfiction. So what I need to do is conceptualize an idea, do a proposal, find an agent, tweak said proposal/idea, submit to publishers, get a an offer, receive an advance check, write book, and market book. Sounds like a plan.

Step one: what to write about?

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

My City Paper review of Icarus Girl

Breaking into writing about books has been difficult for me (music seemed much easier). I guess that is why I started, BackList, to create a venue for myself.

But here is a review I did for Helen Oyeyemi's Icarus Girl in the Baltimore City Paper. It didn't come out as great as I would have hoped. Oh well, what you going to do?

Readers of Backlist may see this review in the next issue! Gotta spread around content.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

BackList & Okaybooks at HBF

BackList and Okaybooks are teaming up at the Harlem Book Fair (read: we getting a booth together). So if you are going to be in Harlem on July 23rd for the book fair, come find us!

Why Okaybooks and BackList? Well we are both online venues committed to promoting literacy, authors and books. We both put a lot of time and effort into this shared vision, so why not combine energies at this year's Harlem Book Fair.

I have formed some great relationships with folks over the internet but there is nothing like meeting and talking in person, you know?

Anywho, we''l have a few author signings including Yvonne Bynoe, author of Stand & Deliver: Political Activism, Leadership and Hip Hop Culture and Orlando Lima, author of No Room for Squares.

Come learn about all the wonderful changes/additions to BackList and pickup some BackList paraphernalia.

I'll have more information about our booth closer to the date.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

a better place?

July hasn't started out so good with the deaths of Luther Vandross (which really hasn't hit me yet) and Lorenzo Thomas.

Condolences go out to their families and friends.