Thank You, Sistas Thrilled About Reading

Sistas Thrilled About Reading Book Club – Baltimore, MD January 20, 2018

I am still savoring the spectacular Saturday afternoon I spent with Baltimore’s Sistas Thrilled About Reading Book Club. Member, Jean Moore, whom I met at the 2017 Baltimore Book Festival, extended the invitation to surprise the members of the club when they discussed my novel, Provenance.

Jean told them I was a friend of hers just sitting in on the club because I was considering becoming a member. It was a wonderful opportunity to hear the remarkable group of ladies discuss their honest impressions of the book, raise questions about the characters and speculate just what the author was thinking. It was as much fun, after Jean revealed that I was the author, to have the opportunity to answer their questions, explore the character’s motivations and actions and, gain insight into readers’ perceptions.

Thank you, Jean, and the entire book club for a great afternoon of conversation and commandery. I will definitely take you up on your offer to come back when Promise, the sequel to Provenance, is published in the fall of 2018.

Best Cable Service Call Ever!

© Mr. TinDC on Flickr
© Mr. TinDC on Flickr

Last night our digital video recorder (DVR) lost half of our 60 Minutes  recording so I called the cable provider to see what the problem was. I had to wait about fifteen minutes with the customer service representative on the line so the cable box could reset and we could test another recording. We started chatting to pass the time and at one point in the conversation she told me she liked to read more than watch television. I told her I was the same way and asked what kind of books she likes,

“I like a book that really pulls me into the story and I like books that have history in them.”

I told her I had just written a book like that and told her a little about PROVENANCE.

“Is there a Kindle edition?” she asked. I said yes. She was silent for a few minutes then said,

“I just bought your book. The first line reads, “’Hank, run!’ was the last thing he heard Junior say.”

First time I’ve ever been thankful for a cable company glitch. Sold a book and got my DVR working again. Thank you CSR Ms. M!

As I said, best cable service call ever!


What Jon Stewart Saw – Helped Us See

Jon StewartThis is Jon Stewart’s last day on The Daily Show. I will miss his humor but most of all I will miss his insight. He loved to skewer politicians and policies but I watched his show because he saw past incidents to uncover  intent. One of my favorite recent examples was when Stewart called out the news media for repeatedly showing the images of the murders of Black men as entertainment for the masses. In a piece that preceded Freddie Grey and Sandra Bland, he made the point that using video of the deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Walter Scott, Eric Harris, 12-year-old Tamir Rice and many other African Americans as background, or wallpaper, for newscasts inures us to the fact that these are images of the last seconds of human life, not just fodder for the 24-hour news cycle.

News coverage fills the airwaves, and our minds, with a steady and unbalanced diet of primarily negative images of people of color; in altercations with the law, face down in the street after their lives are taken, families contorted in anger, grief and pain. The explanation or justification of just why and how this happened comes later — if it comes at all. However the image leaves an impression that endures. When violence is all we see of people of color, that is what we know of people of color and, when that is all we know, that is all we can see. Fortunately, there are people like Jon Stewart who can see past all of that, however most  don’t command a half hour of television every night.

Images are how we learn about each other – that picture is worth a thousand words thing. When images are edited to exclude everything except the negative, it is impossible to see the wisdom and beauty of Black women, the dignity and grace of Black men, the elegance and power of a Black ballerina, the brushstroke of an artist of color, the excitement of young black scholar. All of this and more is supplanted by the media’s targeted focus on Black bodies dead or dying in the street. In the words of Marshall McLuhan, “We become what we behold. We shape our tools and our tools shape us.” We need advocates in media so that the focus on people of color can broaden, the picture can be reframed, the dialogue redirected.

Jon Stewart, in his unique way helped encompass more of what we are as a nation. Thank you, for seventeen years of training your well-focused lens on the essential picture of America. We will miss your wit, wisdom, whimsy and your heart. As you leave to explore other opportunities, please continue to share your valuable insight with us – if not nightly then as often as you can. You are the kind of advocate America needs.

Inspiration and Appreciation

Author Barbara Esstman has been a steadfast inspiration and supporter since I took her Advanced Novel and Memoir class at the Writers Center in 2007. I just received this wonderful little video from the Writers Center featuring Barbara. In it she shares what inspired her to write. I am grateful to whomever gave her the inspiration to put words on paper, because they inspired her, she has inspired so many of us will-be authors. Thanks Barbara!