The BackList

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

Friday, July 28, 2006

Kim McLarin's Reading at Hue-Man

Kim McLarin is plogging over at Amazon. Yes, that's plogging, and nope not exactly sure what a plog is. She has such a great voice. Check out some of her wit, sarcasm, and insight.

Her reading at Hue-Man was nicely attended. She didn't read for a long time, which was great. We adults sometimes don't have the longest attention spans. But the discussion/Q&A was really good. Her book, JUMP AT THE SUN, is about the complexities of motherhood and it's not a rosy picture. But it's extremely well-written and thought provocative. Shoot, I'm not the only that feels that way, PEOPLE magazine just gave it 4 stars and made it a critics choice. Although it's the main characters are black women, it really is a universal story.

A nice surprise, writer Bernice McFadden attended (see picture above). It's nice to see authors supporting authors.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Karen Thomas Leaves Dafina

From PW Daily:

Karen Thomas, who helped found Kensington’s very successful African-American
imprint Dafina, left the company earlier this month for a spot at another house,
reportedly Hachette, though PW Daily was unable to confirm her new job this
morning. Kensington president Steve Zacharius said he expects to announce a
replacement for Thomas, who had been with Kensington for nine year, over the
next couple of weeks.

Wow. I had lunch with Karen some weeks ago to write a PW piece about Dafina's new young adult line. Dafina is her baby. It will be interesting to see what she'll be doing at Warner/Hachette. I wonder what Kensington will do without her? I wonder who the successor will be? I'm all curious.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Buy a Donald Goines Novel and Get a Free Daz CD


West coast veteran Daz of Tha Dogg Pound and Holloway House have teamed for a promotion to give away copies of Daz' latest Virgin/So So Def release So So Gangsta with every purchase of a novel by legendary author Donald Goines. Fans of "gangsta rap" and street literature will receive a copy of the rapper's latest album for free, any time one of Goines' sixteen influential novels are purchased. Goines, who was murdered in October of 1974, has influenced countless rap artists through novels such as "Black Girl Lost," "Black Gangster," and "Street Players." The first video from So So Gangsta is titled "On Some Real," which features Miami rapper Rick Ross. The album is scheduled to hit stores on Sept. 12. For more information visit or

Isn't that an interesting marketing initiative?

The Death of the Author Bookstore Appearance

I read this article by Jessa Crispin (The Book Slut) as I prepare to attend Kim McLarin's reading tonight at Hue-Man.

As an author helper who has setup readings for writers, I agree with most of this article. However, I don't agree with this: "Publishers should start refusing to send their authors out on the traditional book tour for anyone less famous than Dean Koontz."

Two reasons:

2) Publishers are already doing this unofficially and we all know that differentiating between the popularity of authors is a hurtful practice. If Joe some wants to do a reading at his local Borders, a publicist should set it up instead of saying, and I've heard this, "there's no point to set up a reading for you because no one will come anyway."

3) It isn't necessarily the entire fault of the bookstore when a reading isn't successful. But trust, I've set up some where I concluded from the behavior of the bookstore that there were not interested in selling books. But publishers/publicity people/authors need to step up too. Unfortunately, we are not in a world where authors can just show up to a reading anymore. They need to tell everyone they know. They need to take an active role in promoting it as well. And authors need to realize that having a reading in a city where no one knows you isn't a good idea either. Publishers can help out by sending posters (which should be included in all author's marketing budgets whether you're Dean Koontz or not) and postcards. Publishers can post it on their websites...There are some minimal things that can be done. And of course the bookstore should actively promote it as well, just as they excel in handselling. It takes a village to throw a successful reading at a bookstore.

I say all that even though I'm not a big fan of bookstore readings, although that doesn't take away from my love of bookstores, especially our indies! But see the post, How to Throw a Banging Literary Party. I raved about the party because it stepped out of the box.

I'm going to stop complaining and do something. Shout out to Orlando Lima for planting the seed in my head to start a BackList Reading Series, coming to a non-bookstore venue soon.

Harlem Book Fair Recap

My Harlem Book Fair was weird this year. But like Milli Vanilli, I blame it on the rain. This year, I teamed up with Brian Peterson of Okayplayer/Okaybooks again. We were lucky, we had a good location and we were able to get the tent we paid for. Urban Books, which exhibited next to us, paid for a tent that they never received. But they made the most of it, and stuck it out. I probably would have left if I didn't have a tent. The rain was crazy. The wind was crazier. I was wet. My momma was wet. My makeshift BackList signs (I went the cheap paper route) were ruined. So I didn't do much. I passed out some postcards promoting the new BackList. I walked around a few times. Sold some copies of Barbara Summer's OPEN THE UNUSUAL DOOR. I ate some fruit and watched Urban Books sell books like hotcakes (5 for 20.00.)

It did clear up, but again the rain had somewhat altered my attitude. I ain't going to lie, I was ready to go home. But regardless of how I felt, I did see some great peoples as usual. I think that's one of the reasons why I like the Harlem Book Fair, despite the fact that it isn't as good as it used to be, it is becoming a little unfocused, and needs to get back to its roots.

Case in point, this older man walked up to our booth and asked if we had any Langston Hughes. He said he walked the entire fair and stopped at all the booths/booksellers and not one person was selling any Langston Hughes. Talk about not supporting our backlist...

Hmm, who did I see. The picture above is of me, Kalisha Buckhanon, and writer Lissette Norman (NOTE: blogger is having some problems loading pictures, but I will post the pic as soon as things are fixed.)

Check out Lissette's new book, MY FEET ARE LAUGHING. And congrats to Kalisha Buckhanon. Terry McMillan selected Kalisha's book, UPSTATE, to receive the inaugural Terry McMillan Best New Young Author Award at the National Book Club Conference in Atlanta.

Also saw Black Artemis. Check out her new book BURN.

Saw Kim McLarin, who I haven't seen since my days at Emerson College in Boston. Ya'll know about her new book, JUMP AT THE SUN, which PEOPLE Magazine just gave four stars.

Saw DuEwa Frazier, whom I've never met in person. She's one of those people who you can tell has a warm spirit. Can't wait to read and review her new anthology, CHECK THE RHYME: AN ANTHOLOGY OF FEMALE POETS AND EMCEES.

Saw Sonia Sanchez in passing. Didn't get to see any of the panels though, but watched some on C-Span on Sunday, so I felt like I was there.

Remember I blogged about Mel Jackson? Well he has a new book and was exhibiting at the fair. Sorry, can't tell you the title of his new book, my Momma might be reading.

But I did take more pictures and will be posting them soon on BackList.

Come and Hear Kim McLarin Read from Her New Novel JUMP AT THE SUN

Come and Hear Kim McLarin Read from Her New Novel JUMP AT THE SUN
“A vibrant, wry voice...McLarin is a writer with significant promise.”—New York Times

Written in Kim McLarin’s trademark bold and fearless voice, JUMP AT THE SUN, explores the challenges of mothering and being mothered in a complex world, witnessed through the lives of three generations. About JUMP AT THE SUN, USA Today wrote, “...her daring novel has the fire-breathing sass of Terry McMillan's Waiting to Exhale and the soul-searching depth of Toni Morrison's Beloved...honest and surprising and provocative...refreshing on a hot summer day.”

Tuesday, July 25 6:00 p.m.
Reading and Booksigning
Hue-Man Bookstore
2319 Frederick Douglass Blvd
New York, NY

Wednesday, July 26 6:00 p.m.
Reading and Booksigning
Karibu Books
Pentagon City Mall
1100 South Hayes Street Arlington, VA 22202

Kim McLarin is the author of the critically-acclaimed novels TAMING IT DOWN and MEETING OF THE WATERS. She is a former staff writer for The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Greensboro News & Record and the Associated Press. She is currently writer-in-residence at Emerson College in Boston. For more information, visit

Monday, July 24, 2006

How to Throw a Banging Literary Party

On Sunday, I had the pleasure to attend Linda Duggins's and Marcia Mayne's Hot Fun in the Summertime Literary Party at Pier 63.

I had a ball. Well I should say we, my mother and I, had a ball. She's in town visiting. In fact I haven't had that much fun at a literary event in a long time. How'd they do that you ask?

1) A venue on the water. A pier that swayed with the water. A priceless breeze and perfect weather.

2) People that were interested in a good time. Not scared to dance. I couldn't sit my tail down, the music was that good. I think I danced for about 2 solid hours (with the occasional break). My mother was out there hurtin' em with her cha-cha.

3) A dj that knows the classics and the new stuff. 70's disco, a little down south crunk, some salsa, some Teena Marie, a splash of usher (just like the literature represented, we embraced all types of genres)

4) A happy bookseller with enough copies of the books by all the authors in attendance.

5) A nice mix of authors from serious, biography, to breezy and fun. The readings were kept relatively short and sweet. No stuck-up authors. These writers were mingling, talking with readers, signing copies, dancing and enjoying themselves.

6) Access to a full service bar and some food. My mother had her honey beer and I had a pretty good daiquiri. Did I mention the drinks were cheap? I forget I was in New York momentarily.

7) The event was FREE! No admission fees.

What more can you ask for? I hope this will continue annually, because I'm there!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

New literary festival in Antigua

I visited Antigua briefly earlier this year. It is absolutely gorgeous and I definitely want to go back. Perhaps this is an opportunity:

From Antigua Sun (peep how they spelled Terry McMillan's name)

Celebrated authors slated for Antigua
Tuesday July 18 2006

This November, some eight of the big-names in the writing world will converge upon Antigua for the first ever Caribbean Literary Festival on 2 Nov.

Authors including Terri MacMillan, Jamaica Kincaid, Yvonne Weekes, JA George Irish Ph.D., Althea Prince, Terry Williams, Elizabeth Nunez and Marie-Elena John are expected to take part in the event.

Pamela Arthurton, manager of Carib World Travel said the event is expected to be an annual one where people regionally and internationally will have the opportunity to gather in Antigua, meet authors, publishers, editors and other professionals associated with the written world.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Hurston/Wright 2006 Nominees

The nominees for the Hurston/Wright Awards have been announced. Congrats to my friend and client, Kalisha Buckhanon. And congrats to Doug Seibold at Agate Publishing, another client, for Freshwater Road!

Joplin 's Ghost Due (Atria Books) by Tananarive Due
Pride of Carthage (Doubleday)by David Anthony Durham
The Untelling (Warner Books) by Tayari Jones
Dancing in the Dark (Alfred A. Knopf) by Caryl Phillips
My Jim (Crown Publishing) by Nancy Rawles
Third Girl From the Left (Houghton Mifflin)by Martha Southgate

Debut Fiction:
Tropical Fish: Stories out of Entebbe ( University of Massachusetts Press )by Doreen Baingana
Upstate (St. Martins Press)by Kalisha Buckhanon
Freshwater Road (Agate Publishing, Inc.)by Denise Nicholas

My Face is Black is True (Alfred A. Knopf)by Mary Frances Berry
Bright Boulevard , Bold Dreams (One World/Ballantine)by Donald Bogle
Creating Their Own Image: The History of African-American Women Artists( Oxford University Press)by Lisa E. Farrington
Mirror to America : The Autobiography of John Hope Franklin (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)by John Hope Franklin
Why I Hate Abercrombie & Fitch: Essays on Race & Sexuality (NYU Press) by Dwight A. McBride
Worrying the Line: Black Women Writers, Lineage, and Literary Tradition( University of North Carolina Press)by Cheryl A. Wall

Contemporary Fiction:
The Long Mile (Midnight Ink)by Clyde W. Ford
Who Does She Think She Is ? (Free Press)By Benilde Little
Love on the Dotted Line (Simon and Schuster)by David E. Talbert

The Black Power of Fiction

Queen editor, Malaika Adero wrote a column in Publishers Weekly about the raging (and overdone) debate of street lit versus literary fiction. I always like to hear her take because she is in the middle and she's also an industry insider that knows the struggles that publishing presents.

In this piece, she speaks my mind. I couldn't have said it better. No really, I couldn't have.

Also, Mrs. Adero is doing something about the lack of exposure for literary writers. Check out to get information about the Up South International Festival that she is coordinating.

Kensington Looks to Expand in African American Market

Here's a link to a piece I wrote for Publishers Weekly about Kensington expanding into the African American market.

Kensington Publishing continues to strengthen its focus on the African-American market, with aggressive plans to enter the African-American young adult niche as well as the release of a collaborative novel by bestselling authors Mary B. Morrison and Carl Weber. Read More

Writer starts t-shirt line

Lawrence Ross, ya'll know him. He's a fellow blogger, writer, author and literary hustler. He's started a t-shirt line, called Hoodietees. Check them out. Right on the homepage is B-More Born and Raised, I guess that's me. But I also need a West Orange, New Jersey one too. I love the hybrid of my upbringing.

People keep asking me about the BackList t-shirts. I am thinking about doing them again, but switching it up. If you didn't get a chocolate original, I can't do nothing for you... :)

Shout out to Julia. When I get the girl baby tees, you'll be the first to know.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Subscribe to BackList Blog feed

I had to change feeds for the BackList blog. If you were subscribed to the first one, you'll have to subscribe to this new one. I apologize, hopefully this one will work and you'll get notified when new content is posted to the blog.



Friday, July 14, 2006

Nominate BackList for a Writer's Digest Award

Hi Friends (yes, I am setting you up to ask for a favor)--

Nominate BackList for a Writer's Digest Award

Are you a fan of BackList (

Do you think it's great?

If so, why not nominate it for Writer's Digest Magazine's "101 Best Web Sites for Writers."

It will only take a few seconds, promise. All you have to do is send an email to with "101 Best Web Sites" as the email's subject line. In the email, just sing your praises about why you think the site is beneficial to writers.

You can consider it your good deed for the day!

No honestly, I truly appreciate your support.

Harlem Book Fair Media Launch

I attended yesterday's Harlem Book Fair Media Launch. Wasn't there long. It was a little chaotic. It was held at the Commerce Bank at 125th Street, which was an interesting location because for part of the event, the bank was still open. And although the bank was a nice sized space, the presentation took place in a small area of the bank which created congestion and the chaos.

Wendy Williams was there reppin her new book. You know who else was there? The light skinned brother that played Bird's ex-boyfriend in Soul Food. Man did I think he was fine...things change in person.

Anywho, it was loud, people (including myself) were talking while the presentations were going on. They had a poet from Def Poetry Jam "perform." I felt bad because he had to compete for attention above everyone's conversation and all the commotion.

But I must say the jerk chicken skewers were off the chain.

Regardless I am looking forward to next Saturday, the 22nd. The panels have been announced, check them out at

As I did last year, BackList will be sharing a booth with Brian Peterson from Okaybooks (the book section of Okayplayer). Definitely make sure to check us out...

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Library Thing cont...

So after I posted the entry about A library from site, contacted me and sent more information. They have special programming for authors, may help you promote your work:

We have a program called "LibraryThing Authors" which highlights authors who are also members of LibraryThing (see The idea is that readers would love to see what their favorite author has in his or her own personal library. Authors catalog their books (they have to enter at least 50 in order to qualify) and then are given a special "button" that links their personal profile with their author page (listing their books, and which LibraryThing members have them in their collections). See, for example, author Sara Donati (, and her own LibraryThing account (

Ms. Jones is Blogging

Literary agent Mondella Jones is blogging. She's one of few literary agents blogging. She is, to my knowledge, the only black agent blogging! But most importantly, she's cool as hell and true to this publishing game.

So be sure to check out her "rants, raves, and reasons on books, writers, the publishing game, NYC and L.A."

Look for an interview with her soon on BackList.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Nubian Heritage Bookstore?

For my New York folks out there, has anyone stepped into the Nubian Heritage in Harlem lately? Well if you haven't, let me prepare you.

The six or so bookcases that they had in the middle of the floor have been replaced with small little tables. As you can imagine, the tables don't fit many books.

Now I know they have their successful body care line and the overpriced cafe, but didn't they refer to themselves as a bookstore in the past? Or did I make that up?

I wouldn't be so dismayed if 1) the store was so freakin big, what's up with the upstairs? talk about space to do soooo much. Oh how I would love to do a top notch literary, wine & books event there 2) wasn't in a great location in Harlem, truly a neighborhood spot that could do lots to promote culture 3) if there wasn't an overall lack of independent bookstores.

Anywho if anyone has the inside track on what's going on, hit a sista up. I'm truly, truly confused.

Maybe our heritage isn't in books?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Library Thing

Want to catalog your book collection online? Check out The online service allows you to:

Searches Amazon, the Library of Congress and 45 other world libraries.
Show it or keep it private. Put your books on your blog too.
Get recommendations. Connect to people with all your obscure stuff.
Tag your books as on and Flickr (eg., wwii, magical realism, vampires, theology, dogs, philosophy of science).
Export your data. Import from almost anywhere too.
Enter 200 books for free, as many as you like for $10 (year) or $25 (life).

Geez is it me or is there too many things to keep up with between myspace, blogger, BackList now a place to upload all your books? It's a great concept, but as I open my cupboard (which is filled with books and not food), I can't even imagine loading the names of all the books I own. That would be incredibly crazy of me, not too mention time-consuming. I should read all them first before I start listing them.

But if anyone out there has done it, I would love to hear the wonderful benefits you've derived from it.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Ethnic Chick Lit

The St. Petersburg Times looks at ethnic chick lit (read: black chick lit). Tia Williams, author of The Accidental Diva was interviewed for the story. The story is based on the premise that chick lit is fading, but ethnic chick lit (read: black chick lit) is keeping the genre afloat. But the article only points to two chick lit books: Bling and Gotham Diaries. I'm pretty sure there were others.

BackList on Myspace

BackList is finally on Myspace.

Oh and I'm on Myspace too. Visit me at

Add me as a friend!

Kevin Powell and Soft Skull

Brooklyn-based independent publisher, Soft Skull, will publish Kevin Powell's next book, Some Day We'll All Be Free. Release date is slated for August 28, 2006.

Description from Soft Skull:

Hurricane Katrina and 9/11 may have been wake-up calls to Americans insulated from the effects of poverty and terrorism, but according to Kevin Powell, similar disasters have been happening in slow motion throughout America for years. Instead of through floods and bombs, these disasters take place via things like rampant unemployment and police brutality, with consequences that are ultimately longer lasting and more damaging. Full of uncomfortable truths and difficult facts, Someday We’ll All Be Free lays out Powell's case for how freedom and democracy are being subverted in 21st-century America. More than just a catalog of sins, Someday We'll All Be Free also finds Powell loudly calling for African-Americans to stand up and finish the work begun by MLK. The most blistering book yet from an author equally recognized for intellectual rigor and scalding rhetoric, Someday We’ll All Be Free firmly establishes why Powell is widely considered one of America’s brightest leaders and thinkers.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Richard Wright's Unpublished Manuscript

The Guardian has a lengthy article about an unpublished manuscript by Richard Wright. Not really feeling the tone of the article, but whatever.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Vibe Magazine Sold

Vibe Magazine has been sold to the company behind Black Book Magazine. I wonder how this will affect the recently announced partnership between Vibe and Kensington Publishing. See blog entry below.