Friday, November 21, 2008

In the name of literary unity

I resigned my post as columnist at Blogging In Black over the summer due to extreme overload, but I still peek in now and again. And they've declared December, National Buy a Book By a Black Author and Give it To A White Person Month.

Consider it one more step toward racial harmony.

Lordy, if you take offense easily, don't bother to visit the site or comment on the initiative.

It's all very tongue in cheek, yet a real effort to help books written by African Americans to be seen as simply books not merely "black" books.

In a way, it's sort of like what we're doing at The Brown Bookshelf - simply trying to bring attention to these books so they may be mentioned alongside of mainstream books without the added identification of the author's race.

Yeah, yeah I know - by declaring this special month, race is automatically a focal point. But it's a complicated web from which none of us really knows how to emerge.

I think it's an interesting initiative and feel it's a good step to help authors outside of Toni Morrison, Gloria Naylor and even Terri McMillan gain a broader audience.

So check your bookshelf , see which titles' theme resonates beyond the color lines and gift it to a non-black friend of choice. :-)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Gen-Y's All Blue

Apparently, if Gen-Y, that lovely generation right behind my own, were allowed to vote on their own without anyone else in the country having a say, this is what the map would have looked like druing last week's election:

Map courtesy of SurveyU

Though skewing quite a bit older than my reader base (Gen Y is considered those ages 18-29), I believe Gen-Y and those behind them (Gen-M? for mobile) are likely to be swing votes in a lot of future elections.

This year's map is nearly blued out. But the biggest mistake pundits will make is assuming these two generations and their opinions will remain static. They've proven time and again that static isn't in their vocabulary.

Coming of age post 9/11, post VA Tech shootings and smack dab in the middle of economic strife, Gen Y and Gen M - led by Gen X'ers who refused to be traditional when it came to choosing a professional track thanks in large part to an early 90's recession - are going to keep this country on its toes.

And I'll be the first to say amen. Keep us honest, young folks.

Spoken like a true YA author. It's no surprise that a lot of us are moderates and liberals - regardless of party affiliation. I mean for God's sake some of us write about teens and sex or drugs or drinking. ::Gasp::

But we know what some others, are just figuring out, you cannot box in young thinkers whose minds are whirring 100 mph. They'll zig when we think they'll zag and as soon as you're ready to write them off as a bunch of empty headed, ADD-myspace/facebook/youtube video addicted whipper snappers, they turn around and start talking politics.

Rock the vote? You bet they did and will!

Check out Ypulse's article for more on Gen Y's political proclivities.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Happy Feelings

I'd be remiss if I didn't blog today. I'm not a particularly political creature. Political preference is a personal thing. But last night was so much more than politics.

The history of our country is not subjective. It was stolen from the people who discovered it and built on the backs of slave labor. We asked for other country's poor, huddled masses while we discriminated against existing citizens.

But last night represented another giant leap forward in our country's evolution. Race didn't matter. For once, race honestly didn't matter and that is a significant shift in our country's mindset.

Last night felt like last call for all the small-minded, bigoted folks who'd rather focus on a person's skin color than their values, morality, what's in their heart and their common experiences with others who call themselves Americans.

With a middle name like Hussein...

With his skin color dark enough to confirm that part of his bi-racial heritage was black...

Barack Obama won.

The world I write about in my books, where characters are friends regardless of race or background, is the world I grew up in. It's the world my daughters are growing up in. I realize there are places where that heterogenous vibe is non-existent, where people fight it...but maybe not for long.

Obama's own words sum up this election well - “young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled — Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America."

That's what many have been striving for all along.

As we continue to, I wish us happy feelings and no one can say it better than these dudes...

Monday, November 03, 2008

Straight, No Chaser - Kelly Parra

Every now and then I realize how long I've been hanging out on the web with other writerly types. Today is one of those days.

Today's featured guest is Kelly Parra, a lady I met about three or four years ago over at the Teen Lit loop. Her debut, Graffiti Girl and my first book came out the same year.

It's nice to see us both still out there doing our writer thing. Her latest is Invisible Touch and I'm digging the cover, very Outer Limits!

But all work and no play makes for an insane writer. So Kelly, let us peek into your pop culture side.

Which cliché best describes you as an author?

KP: Oh man, would it sound conceited if I compared myself to great writers?? haha! I'll go with Eclectic Toni Morrison because I'm always writing something different!


KP: I'm a total homebody. From my introvert personality to living in front of the computer, I could write the book on being a hermit and loving it! haha.

Using either television, film or literary references, give us the one or two sentence pitch you’d give film agents:

KP: Invisible Touch is Tru Calling meets an edgier Nancy Drew.

If you did an informercial for your book, who would be the perfect celeb to serve as the pitch guy or gal? And why?

KP: I answered this before and it was really hard. I chose Vanessa Hudgens as Kara, the girl who is sweet but has a inner rebellious side and a younger Milo Ventimiglia for Anthony who is a rebel on the outside. :)


KP: Its a good thing I'm not a stalker or else Johnny Depp would be in trouble because I'd be telling him how great an actor he is every time I saw him!

A lot of times, authors start a book with one concept in mind
(especially us pantsters) and end up with a totally different story.
For your most current book tell us where you story started and ultimately ended.

KP: My book started out about a girl who had a gift and a secret and ended up about a girl who could finally share her secrets.

You’re on a desert island with a cell phone. Miraculously it has two bars and enough battery life to make one three minute call. Who do you call?

KP: Definitely my husband and kids. They are everything to me.

If someone were deserted on an island and came across your book washed ashore, what’s the one thing they’d take from it and want to share with the world once they got back to civilization?

KP: I'd hope they'd take with them an entertaining story with mystery, romance and family drama that made them "feel".

Which celebrity would you like to see put on a bus and dropped in the desert? And why?

KP: haha! Yikes, hmmm. I can't do it. I'd feel guilty if something bad happens to him or her in the future. I'm superstitious that way!
Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Paula!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Hey Look...

The fourth book in my Del Rio Bay series is officially out today!

Man, what a difference a year, seven months, five manuscripts, oodles of edits, and way more promo than should be deemed legal can make.

In March 2007, when So Not the Drama came out, I was stalking the book like crazy, asking people to send me photos of it on the bookshelf and basically lost in a wave of debut book mania. Now, Who You Wit'? comes along and I'm like - Oh book came out today.

Before you go thinking I'm all jaded and everything, it's not that. I'm burned out, yes. But so goes the life of a writer who also has a full-time job (many of us), a household to run and a family to nurture. Sleep is a foreign word to us and so burn-out is par for the course.

There are definitely things I feel more learned about. And I'd be lying if I didn't admit that there are parts of publishing (the business side) that has "matured" me faster than I think occurs in most professions. But I still love writing. I'm still in awe when the screen goes from blank to a full story alive with dialogue and description. I still marvel at my edited manuscript wondering who in heck wrote all that neat stuff on the page. And, I still think there's no cooler profession on earth than to tell stories.

But as a series writer, I have the, luxury, as it were, to slow down a bit. After all, the books are out there as a group and they sort of help one another to sell. There was a period when That's What's Up! came out where I could actually see how its sales were impacting the sales of So Not the Drama. Neat to witness.

I have no doubt Who You Wit'? will do the same.

For now, I'm going old school with my promo - I'll be doing a few things here and there, but for the most part I'm going to let the stories speak for themselves. And for those who care, Who You Wit'? got a decent review from Kirkus. Sort of blew me away because many times it seems Kirkus is the toughest reviewer of them all, seemingly hard on books because they can be.

It wasn't a starred review but they didn't throw tomatoes at it either. I'll take it!

If you've been following the series, run don't walk to get the latest book. My girls are growing up and dealing with the hard core realities of dating. Check 'em out.