Monday, October 19, 2009

Promote My Novel

No, not MY novel, yours.

Jeff Rivera, the columnist for Galley Cat's People of Color blog and Gumbo Writers has started a vlog - Promote My It's a string of sixty-second videos where he gives advice on query letters, marketing and other fine points of making it in the pub business.

Promote My Novel is an extension of Jeff's pub advice. If you haven't visited Gumbo Writers, do so. It's an informative site with agent interviews and features of those who have hit promotional gold in book promotion.

Here's an example of his new venture:

For more, check him out here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Hellooo, Alexandria!

So, if you're in Northern Virginia and have always had this burning desire to meet me and talk about books I'll be Old Town Alexandria this weekend at Hooray for Books! on Sunday, Oct. 18th at 2 p.m. along with YA authors:

Caroline Hickey of The Longstockings (Isabelle's Boyfriend) and Elizabeth Scott, a fellow Class of 2K7 classmate of mine (Something, Maybe).

I'm sure the three of us can amuse ourselves talking about writing life, but it would be way more fun to have some young folk come to chat with.

Stop by.

P.S. This is part of the Kidlit Conference '09, which is Saturday. Not sure if there are still spots open, but you can check that out here.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Irony thy name is Racism

What if you walked into the grocery store one day and they no longer carried your favorite brand of hair gel? You'd probably ask management about it and they might tell you that the demand wasn't high enough to warrant them using the shelf space for that gel, so they stopped carrying it.

Maybe you'd be annoyed because now you have to find another store, nearby, who sells that gel. Or maybe the store would be customer service oriented enough that they'd start keeping a tiny stock of the product to appease you, the only customer who bothered to inquire about it.


Truth be told, customer service is hard to find, these days. So if the store went through all of that for you, they deserve your patronage.

Just about everything is about supply and demand in our country. I get that. It annoys me, but I get it.

But what I don't get and staunchly refuse to get is why a world, that's increasingly diversifying, continues to try and mainstream every product. Why does everything have to be stamped and approved as used by this mythical "everybody" to be validated?

I went into Walgreens tonight to buy some hair perm. I walked the lone hair care aisle for about five minutes, puzzled. Not only did Walgreens not sell my brand of perm but they didn't sell ANY black hair care products. Any!

I asked the cashier if they were kept in a different area and she explained if they had it, it would be down the hair care aisle. So they simply don't sell it.

Walgreens is literally one minute away from my house. Giant is two, but hair care products at the grocery store are too expensive. So I had to drive seven minutes down the road to get what I needed.

I can't begin to tell you how much this pisses me off. Not only because I had the gall to believe having the Walgreens right across the street would be convenient but because apparently, Walgreens has moved into my progresive, upwardly mobile, some say upper middle class neighborhood and decided there are NO black customers so they don't need to serve me.

Yes, Walgreens, that's what you're saying.

Have I just stepped back into 1950? What the hell?

I left that store blazing. I did what I do, wrote my letter to them letting them know I'm perfectly content giving my business to Rite Aid who has figured out a way to serve us non-existent Black customers. Rite Aid who is more than happy to stock products in case a black person happens to wander in lost from the outskirts.

I'm not real happy with the systemic ignorance that continues to seep into our society's bloodstream. It's so uncalled for.

I just talked about racism at Amy Bowllan's blog and then it subtley rears its head, thumbing its nose at me like I thumb my nose at it by making my fictional worlds as diverse as the real world always should be.

And yes, it is racist that Walgreens doesn't carry black hair care products. If you don't think so, then think about some silly, yet necessary mainstream item you need and think about how you'd feel if your local retailer decided to stop selling it because you were invisible to them. Then tell me how you feel.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

In Good Company

There are a few facts I've come to terms with about my writing life that, nonetheless, still stress me now and again.

1) The chance that I'll always have to maintain a FTJ even as I continue to sell books.

2) My writing time is more likely to shrink than grow, especially since I'll always have a FTJ. I'll always have a family. I'll always want a life outside of those things. I sort of enjoy sleeping.

There are days when I feel as if I'm the only writer in the world continuing to angst over these things. Forget that I can't control either one or that it's been a stark reality almost from day one, so six years later it should be like, whatever. It's not.

The reality is easier to swallow when I'm reminded that I'm not alone in my feelings or my struggle.

Like manna from heaven, Emily St. John wrote a sobering, yet enlightening post about Working The Double Shift (also known as Paula's life) and YA author, Sarah Dessen posted about the special challenges us mothers face when we've got to get some words on screen.

Both pieces calmed my usually frazzled nerves. I'm not thrilled about the prospect of being on a professional treadmill my entire career. Nor can I say, I'm totally at peace with having to squeeze writing time in where I can. I consider writing what I do. It's my job, albeit not my sole job. So "squeezing" in time to do it offends my writer's sensibilities. I mean what would my supervisor at the FTJ say if I said "well, let me see if I can squeeze coming in, today?"

Yet, it's my reality - good, bad, or ugly. Glad to know I'm in very good company.