The BackList

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

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Goodbye Blogger

Today is the last day I'll be posting over here on Blogger. These two years have been real. I looked back at some of my old posts from 2005 and some of them were pretty bad. Thanks to those who stuck with me since then!

But I've finally found a way to incorporate my version of a blog at my site BackList. Yep, only took me two years to figure out. Aptly titled BackListed, the "blog," (I use the term loosely) will be a mix of publishing news, commentary, author interviews, essays, favorite book picks, photos, video, everything in between and of course, the random, off-topic musing.

Where is all of this coming from? Well in efforts to grow BackList, LLC into the dynamic organization I believe it can be, a sista had to make many, many changes. And this is just the beginning.

This unfortunately means that for those of you who have linked to this blogger site or blogrolled me, I must ask you nicely to please update the link to this.

In the meantime, I hope all of you will follow me to my new home. It's quite cozy, trust me.

Oh and be sure to check out my books:

October 2007, Thunder's Mouth Press/Perseus Books, 1-56858-335-4
THE MESSAGE is a DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF for the hip-hop generation—a compendium of real wisdom that has been distilled from the all-time greatest hip-hop songs. Pride examines a wide range of hip-hop songs and artists, interpreting life through their lenses. Growing up with hip-hop, Pride has come to realize the way it shaped how she thinks, writes, reacts and how it has helped to make her the person that she is today. By incorporating her experiences and reflections with the rappers’ messages, Pride focuses on the positive, motivational influence hip-hop has had on its audience. With each life lesson aptly titled after a hip-hop song, such as Kanye West’s “Jesus Walks,” EPMD’s “Please Listen to My Demo,” or Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power,” THE MESSAGE explores spirituality, success, love, business, and more through hip-hop.

By Felicia Pride, Debbie Rigaud, Karen Valentin
Kimani Tru, Sept. 2007, 0-373-83084-X
Three girls. Three High Schools. Three gotta-read Stories.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Art of Being Edited

Great article in Salon about the need for editors. I was just having this conversation today with a book publishing industry professional. Great editors are priceless!

The piece also looks at the art of being edited, which can be a learned behavior. Oh, how true:

Your piece is a statement delivered from on high, a pronouncement ex cathedra, as egotistical and unchecked as the wail of a baby. Then it goes out into the world, to an editor, and the reality principle rears its ugly head. You are forced as a writer to come to terms with the gap between your idea and your execution -- and still more deflating, between your idea and what your idea should have been.

This isn't easy. You have to let go of your attachment to the specific words you've written and open yourself to what you were aiming for. You need enough confidence in yourself to accept constructive criticism, some of which can feel like your internal organs are being more or less gently moved around. More than just about any other non-artistic activity -- therapy and, yes, sex are possible exceptions -- being edited forces you to see yourself, or at least what you've written, the way others see you. It is a depersonalizing process in some ways, yet having to stand outside yourself deepens you as a person. You need to grow a thick skin in order to have a thinner, more sensitive one.

Yes a great editor is truly priceless.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Harlem Book Fair

This was the first year in about five years that I didn't attend the Harlem Book Fair. I was exhibiting this year and now that I'm back in Maryland, I didn't fee like making the trip. Anyone out there go this year? Did I miss much?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

If this ain't motivational... is hands-down one of my favorite sites. I also think it's a great example of a profitable online and offline business model. Anywho, the founder Laurel Touby recently sold the site to Junipermedia for 23 million! Yes that's right 23 million. And 20 of it was paid in cash.

Here's part of the letter she posted on mediabistro:

Today is probably the happiest day of my life. (Okay, second happiest. Getting married to Jon was pretty excellent.) When I put up my first web site in 1996 -- or was it 1997? the records are gone -- it was a humble little directory on someone else's web site. Not even a site of its own. There was no hope of a business plan, much less a profitable business. The entire reason for its existence was to help media people, myself included, meet up, hook up and share resources with one another -- a social network with bare bones technology.

Fast forward through the Internet crash, 9-ll and numerous other challenges and today, we have the largest community of media pros -- from magazine editors to TV news anchors to marketing people to ad agency execs -- reading our daily news, flashing onto our blogs, posting job ads, replying to job ads, attending seminars and events and generally making merry with's many offerings.

Today, 10 years later, what started as a tiny little web site is now a full-fledged business that generates significant sales and profits, from its thriving job board, its education department (serving 15,000 students and counting!), ad sales and premium content. We have more than 1 million visitors a month, and more than 6 million page views per month.

When Jupitermedia contacted us a few months back, I couldn't think of a better company to acquire us. The companies complement each other in so many ways. Jupiter has its own job boards, It has a vast customer base of creatives and creative buyers on its network. It has a huge e-media business. And, finally, its CEO Alan Meckler, has years of experience in the conference business, an area where we are eager to grow. Which brings me to my last, but very important point. Alan Meckler is a visionary. He gets it in a way that few old media CEOs do. He pursued Yahoo!, Infoseek,, Slashdot and long before they were brand names. He owns the URL for a reason. And now, he owns us.

Welcome, Alan, to the 'bistro! We look forward to working with you. It's the beginning of a beautiful partnership. To all of you who are wondering: NO, I'm not leaving. I'm starting a new exciting chapter of my life -- as an employee. For you, who've made what it is, this won't mean any major changes. If anything, Jupitermedia's resources will only help us improve and expand our services. So, stay tuned for what's to come.

Monday, July 09, 2007

3 Answers with Randall Kenan

PW has Three Answers with Randall Kenan, the author of the forthcoming THE FIRE THIS TIME.

PW: What would you like readers to take away from this book?

RK: I think the basic challenge and call I make is for more discussion. You might think, or it might appear on the surface, that we’re talking about racial issues a lot, but in truth we aren’t. There’s a lot of yelling and screaming, but not genuine dialogue; people need to get to know each other. I think that will lead to more substantive changes, and more substantive observations, and more serious questions being asked by people who right now aren’t really paying attention

Here's info on the book from the publisher, Melville House. The book drops in August.

James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time was one of the essential books of the sixties and one of the most galvanizing books of the American civil rights movement.

Now, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, with a new generation of Americans confronting what Baldwin called our "racial nightmare," best-selling author Randall Kenan asks: How far have we come?

Kenan notes that despite dramatic advances, new issues have combined with old to bedevil us. The religion so key in the sixties-both Christian and Muslim-has become more dominant and intolerant. The government and courts have shifted to the right. Hip-hop has replaced the stirring music so vital to the sixties movement. Meanwhile, African Americans remain impoverished in record numbers.

Like Baldwin, Kenan is acclaimed for both his fiction and nonfiction, which includes a biography of Baldwin and numerous essays on the issues that concerned him-such as class, religion, being a gay African American, and the failing perception that America has conquered racism.

The shocking revelations of New Orleans confirmed a shameful truth. Randall Kenan is the perfect writer to declare that truth, and seek its transcendence, in this impassioned book.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

NYC Event

Exciting New Literary Magazine…

“For this hip-hop baby with a love of literature, Bronx Biannual is destined to be the hybrid I crave.”
Felicia Pride,
Saturday, July 14th, 7pm ***

Come celebrate the smoking second issue of Bronx Biannual with a book party and reading at: Bluestockings Bookstore / 172 Allen Street, between Stanton and Rivington / (1 block south of Houston and First Avenue. By train: 1 block south of F train, 2nd Avenue stop.

Writers in attendance include contributors Greg Tate, Michael A. Gonzales, Carol Taylor, Reginald Lewis, Sun Singleton, SékouWrites, Liza Jessie Peterson and Miles Marshall Lewis.

Bronx Biannual is published by Akashic Books

Bronx Biannual began in the summer of 2006, a literary journal edited by Miles Marshall Lewis

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Struggle Continues...

So I thought I'd make a separate post to point out Ron Kavanaugh's reaction to Martha Southgate's piece in the NYT. Ron is the esteemed publisher of Mosaic literary magazine and my boss!

He makes some good points worth considering. Check out his reaction at his blog.

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Struggle of Black Literary Writers

The blogosphere is buzzing about Martha Southgate's essay in the New York Times Sunday Book Review. Titled, "Writers Like Me" the novelist explores the reasons why there aren't more writers like her. She defines herself as:

I am a 46-year-old writer of “literary” fiction. I’ve had three novels published — the first for young people, the last two for adults. All have won minor prizes, been respectfully reviewed and sold modestly. I’ve been awarded a few fairly competitive fellowships and grants. The business is full of fiction writers like me. With one difference: I’m black, born and raised in the United States. At the parties and conferences I attend, and in the book reviews I read, I rarely encounter other African-American “literary” writers, particularly in my age bracket. There just don’t seem to be that many of us out there, and that’s something I’ve come to wonder about a great deal.
There are a few reasons that she lists as to why there aren't more black literary writers. She cites racism, low sales of literary fiction (by black writers), and fear of economic security (many blacks with higher educations don't seek a career in writing).

But in reading her piece, I wondered, well, what can be done? What can be done to 1) combat the racism in publishing 2) increase the exposure of black literary writers and 3) and promote the literary arts as a viable (okay, not always viable) career option? I definitely agree about these problems, but I guess I wanted to hear some possible actions that can be taken.

Well I don't have enough time in this blog to try to tackle #1. But for #2 I think readers hold more power than they realize. Publishers respond to sales. Lovers of literary fiction, lovers of Southgate and "writers like her" need to make their love known through the almighty dollar. Fans of street lit have made their love known, what about fans of literary fiction? Why aren't (we) they representing as strongly?

Granted, I know for a fact that publishers really don't know what to do with a writer like Martha Southgate. They have no idea who her audience is. Many times they want to crossover this type of writer, but forget about the African American audience in the process. Or they hold onto the monolithic African American audience concept (we all want to read the same thing) and don't know how to reach the different segments of this community. Thus the people who love writers like Martha Southgate may never know about her.

Still, I think the marketing methods reserved for the literary writer (book reviews and award submissions) may need to be remixed/updated. I have to say that Southgate's Third Girl From the Left was one of my favorite books of 2006. And I believe there's a huge audience for it because I found it to be both smart and accessible. I think the audience is out there, but what are the best ways to reach it? I wonder what would happen if the marketing plans for literary authors incorporated the hustling, can't-stop-won't-stop-selling-this-book-going-direct-to-the-community-that-this-book-is-for attitude of street lit and many self-published authors? Just a thought.

I don't really know what to say about #3. Most of my friends went after the high-paying careers (MBA, JD, and MD) tracks and I, with creative impulses decided I wanted to write and be artsy. But part of my comfort with my decision is having a supportive Momma. Many of my friends chose those paths because their family would not accept anything less. Therein lies one of the problems. How seriously does the African American community take the need to develop and sustain writers? How supportive are we of the literary arts field? How much do we respect and support our writers, especially those career ones like Southgate?

I feel like I'm ranting, so I'll stop here. Click here to read an interview that BackList conducted with Southgate. You'll have to register for the site to read it.