Monday, November 15, 2010

32 Candles at CSULA

If you're in the L.A. area on Monday, November 15, this book event may be for you.

Ernessa T. Carter will be reading from and signing her novel 32 Candles at 3:15 pm on Monday, 11/15 at the CSULA Student Union in the Alhambra Room. The event is free to attend.

Described as one of the freshest and funniest debut novels, Ernessa T. Carter’s 32 Candles follows Davie Jones, a Strokes t-shirt-wearing, Mississippi-accented, dark-skinned nerd, on her journey of self-discovery, acceptance, self-love, and romance from a childhood in Mississippi to adulthood in Los Angeles.

Hope to see you there!

Friday, November 05, 2010

Rocky Rivera

I had the opportunity to hear hip hop performer Rocky Rivera  at a recent cultural festival at Cal State L.A. Excellent rapper, dope beats, socially conscious lyrics.

My current favorite in my iPod. Check out her YouTube channel. If you get a chance, order her self-titled debut. I promise you'll love it!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Bold's Homeless Story

The CBS daytime drama, The Bold & The Beautiful has been doing a fabulous job lately with a storyline which features L.A. as a central character (where the show is set and filmed) and the homeless issues facing the city. In L.A. County, it's estimated that close to 50,000 people are homeless.

Great, non-preachy episodes from last week's episodes on October 28 and October 29. If you have a chance, watch online.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

NaNoWriMo. Writing This Month.

Well, it's that time of year again. National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo, where writers challenge themselves to 30 continuous days of writing 50,000 words on a project.

Best of luck if you're participating in the November 1 - 30 event. Keep me/us posted!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Free Writing Workshop Monday

If you're in the L.A. area on Monday, November 1, bestselling author Noel Alumit will be hosting a free fiction writing workshop. It takes place in the Student Union at Cal State L.A., Monday, November 1 at 3:15 pm in the Alhambra Room, 3rd floor Student Union.

For more infomation, contact the Cross Cultural Centers at (323) 343-5001.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Daniel Black, Perfect Peace, in L.A.

Daniel Black, author of the novel Perfect Peace, will be doing a reading and signing in L.A. on Monday, October 18 at 3:15 - 4:30 pm, in the University-Student Union at Cal State L.A., Alhambra Room. (Daniel Black website)

Perfect Peace is the fictional story of a mother who wants a daughter so bad, that she decided to raise her seventh son as the daughter she always wanted.

The reading is presented as part of the Cross Cultural Centers Cup of Culture writers series, which highlights writers of color, women writers, and other writers from underrepresented communities.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

L.A. Taste of Soul

If you're in L.A. this weekend, check out the annual Taste of Soul Festival. It takes place on Saturday, October 16 from 10 am - 6 pm on Crenshaw Blvd., between Martin Luther King Drive and Rodeo Drive.

Lots of great food, music, entertainment, and people.

I'm already tasting the hot catfish straight out of the fryer.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Prep School Negro

Just caught a trailer for this new documentary, The Prep School Negro. Looks fascinating.

It follows black people who are currently or formerly enrolled in prestigious, private (and mostly all-white) Prep Schools, and the challenges and triumphs they face as they straddle life in two worlds.

Though my high school wasn't private or all-white, it was a public, college prep one. I remember growing up in Detroit and going to Renaissance H.S. branded us as "the smart ones" or "the stuck-up ones" in our own neighborhoods and among other public school students. And that was tough coming from other black people.

I can only imagine what it's like when you move away for high school and face it from the people in your neighborhood as well as the people at your school.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Reconsider Columbus Day

I'm surprised people still celebrate Columbus Day, but they do. Saw this great video clip, Reconsider Columbus Day, which advocates for the development of an Indigenous People's holiday instead. Good points!

Latino Book and Family Festival

If you're in the L.A. area, head over to the Cal State L.A. campus for the annual Latino Book and Family Festival. It runs until 6 pm today and features over 100 authors participating in panels and book signings. Lots of fun and a beautiful day!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

WeHo Book Fair

If you're in the L.A. area next weekend, check out the annual West Hollywood Book Fair. Takes place on Sunday, September 26 all day. Lots of great authors and informative workshops and panels.

And of course afterwards, you can always slip into The Abbey or another place close by for a post-bookfair cocktail. Sundays are always fun in West Hollywood.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Step Afrika in L.A.

If you're in the L.A. area in early October, you might want to check out Step Afrika! on Thursday, October 7 at 7:30 pm at the Luckman Fine Arts Complex on the Cal State L.A. campus.

Step Afrika! is the only professional dance company in the world dedicated to the tradition of stepping. The group has performed before tens of thousands of people worldwide. Check out this Step Afrika! promo clip from YouTube.

This should be an evening of dance and performance like no other, as Step Afrika! traces the history of stepping from the gumboot dance tradition in South Africa to its current use by African American fraternities and sororities.

Ticketmaster: $15 - $21. Luckman Fine Arts ticket window, with CSULA student, staff, faculty ID: $5.

Contact the Luckman at (323) 343-6600 for more information.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Getting to Happy

So today is the release date of Terry McMillan's new novel, Getting to Happy. It's the sequel to Waiting to Exhale, and finds us fifteen years later visiting the four characters -- Gloria, Bernardine, Savannah, and Robin.

A little late for me to hit the bookstore. Didn't pre-order online. So I'll be making a special trip to the mall or Esowon tomorrow or late in the week.

But I'm happy the new novel is here. Can't wait to read. I remember reading Waiting to Exhale in the early 90s, barely in college. Laughing out loud at the crack-up funny writing and stories the characters were telling, and my dorm mates asking what was I reading that was so fun(ny).

I attended a preview reading Terry McMillan did at the LA Times Book Festival this year, and based on what I heard we're in for another crack-up funny and dramatic story.

Can't wait to get Getting to Happy. You?

Wednesday, September 01, 2010


I'm currently reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I was skeptical at first, but find myself enjoying the novel.

It's the fictional story of a group of black maids who work for white women in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960s. But, of course, this story was true for thousands of black women who had no choice but to work for white women in the U.S. Probably still is true. Sad, but true.

Although skeptical about reading the book, I find myself thinking about my grandmother, who herself worked as help for a white family and raised their kids. Many of the details of the maids' lives (how they had to budget, keeping a garden in order to eat, the internal struggle of raising someone else's kids while feeling like they're neglecting their own kids) seem authentic in the novel so far.

My skepticism, however, came from a white woman author writing a black woman's story. Wondering if any of you have read it or are reading it? Your thoughts? What about looking through a lens of social justice, equality, or being culturally empowered? Would this book be as accepted or "acclaimed" if written by a black woman author? Is this another "let us tell you about your experience" story?

These are the questions I'm wrestling with as I read... and wondering if any of you can help with The Help?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What Love Tastes Like

Zuri Day's novels are some of my favorites. Just good old fashioned romance. I've blogged about two of her novels I've read -- Lessons From a Younger Lover and Body By Night.

Now, she has a new release coming in September. What Love Tastes Like. The novel features a romantic tale between a chef and her boss, the owner of a luxury hotel. Advance reviews concur that this is a tasty and romantic treat for your reading delight.

I have enjoyed Zuri Day's previous novels, so I'm sure I will enjoy What Love Tastes Like just as much.

Bon appetit!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Substitute Me

So you're a middle class and educated black woman. You come from a good background and family.

You're trained as a chef, but in this economy, you can't find a job in your field. But someone does want to hire you... a white couple, about your age, as their maid/cook/housekeeper. And you take the job... and keep it a secret from the people in your life.

Thus, the premise of the new novel, Substitute Me, by Lori Tharps.

One more novel going into my to-read pile. And a good recommendation for yours too.

Monday, August 16, 2010

PEN Emerging Voices Fellowship

If you're a writer who is part of a community that has lacked access to the writing/publication field (i.e. women, people of color, lgbt, poor/working class, street educated vs institutionally educated), then the PEN Emerging Voices Fellowship could be for you.

Applications are due in late August for the 2011 cycle. It's an 8-month intensive writing program/mentorship, where emerging voices can get the attention and nurturing they need to break into writing and possibly publishing. See the PEN EV website for more details.

It helps if you're SoCali based, since each of the eight monthly workshops takes place in L.A. area. So... if you or someone you know is interested, please apply.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

You Majored In What?

Heard a great interview on NPR yesterday featuring the author of this book, You Majored In What?, Dr. Katharine Brooks.

It's a practical book on helping college students and career counselors navigate the line between a "practical/doing" major (i.e. Business, Education, etc...) and an "esoteric/thinking" major (i.e. English Lit, History, etc...)

In times of economic challenge, like we're currently experiencing, students are often scared/swayed to major in something that builds skills directly applicable to a job. These scared/swayed tactics often come from parents, who worry about their kids' job prospects in light of student loans. These scared/swayed tactics also can come from red-state conservatives, who worry about people learning to be critical thinkers and questioners.

These conversations are also shaping the dialogue on campuses, as college presidents and deans make decisions on what departments/majors are important to keep, and which ones they want to cut or make smaller.

All majors are important and add to students' growth and development.

Regardless of what students choose, I think taking ethnic studies (i.e. Pan African Studies, Chicana/o Studies, Asian American Studies, etc...) and gender studies (i.e. Women's Studies) is very important -- both in terms of learning/appreciating history and becoming culturally-empowered and confident about who they are.

Just my opinion.

What about you? What did you major in? Or want to major in? Or... have you found that your major had absolutely nothing to do with your eventual career/job choice?

If you're navigating career decisions, check out Dr. Katharine Brooks' blog, Career Transitions.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Summer Reading

So it's August. Summer is winding down. I hope you're doing something fun and memorable to make the most of Summer 2010.

On that note, what's been the most memorable book you've read this summer?

For me. Perfect Peace by Daniel Black. And 32 Candles by Ernessa Carter.

But I'd like to hear yours and your recommendations.

Happy reading!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Losing My Cool

Just picked up this book, Losing My Cool, by Thomas Chatterton Williams. Came highly recommended by the staff at Esowon Books in L.A.

It's a memoir and inspirational story about a young man's struggle with street credibility and book credibility. The tagline says it all -- how a father's love and 15,000 books beat hip-hop culture.

Check out this promo clip on YouTube, featuring the author and his father, or this NPR interview.

Looking forward to reading this one... and sharing it with the young people I work with at the school. I think you'll enjoy this one too.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Bad Day For Pretty

A few months back, I highlighted a novel called A Bad Day For Sorry.

Now, author Sophie Littlefield is back with another installment of the crime-novel series, A Bad Day For Pretty.

The series features tough-talking Stella Hardesty, who "rights wrongs" done to women by abusive husbands, partners, and other men in their lives. The novels are engaging and address a number of social issues.

And I think the titles are quite catchy. Check them out.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Brothers and Wives

Cydney Rax is an author to admire. With a full-time job, she's consistently written and published five novels within the past five years.

Her latest, Brothers and Wives, just debuted this week. It's a continuation of one of her earlier novels, My Husband's Girlfriend, and features another juicy love triangle among characters who are really entangled in each others' lives.

Another summer read to keep your hot summer even hotter.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Monday Book Happenings

Very quickly. Hope it's a good Monday for you.

Save The L.A. Library. You may or may not know, but the City of L.A. has ordered its libraries closed on Sundays and now Mondays, due to budget cuts. Monday, July 19, in the morning, many will be gathering at the Central Library in downtown L.A. to protest the cuts. For many folks, libraries are the only place they can access internet, get refuge from the heat, and find books they can't afford to buy.

Later on Monday, July 19, Ernessa T. Carter will be reading/signing her debut novel 32 Candles at 7pm at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena. I'm reading the book now, and it's so fab and fun to read.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Happy Jackie Washington Day!

It's July 15th, also known within black LGBT circles and in Kinloch, Missouri as Jackie Washington Day.

Um, if you don't know what it is, or why we celebrate, check out the film Jackie's Back, featuring one of our favorite actresses Jenifer Lewis.

Or check out the blog entries I've written the past few years on the "holiday": Jackie Washington Day/Jackie's Back, and Oh Yeah, Jackie Washington Day, and It's Jackie Washington Day Again.

Jackie Washington even has a Myspace page. And a Facebook page too.

Enjoy! And don't do any laundry today... and order some tacos that you don't pay for, too.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Watch out Harry Potter and the Twilight characters.

There's new Young Adult fiction hitting the bestsellers list, and it features openly gay characters.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan follows two young men with the same name, but with parallel and different life experiences. The novel has gotten great reviews for authentic young adult characters and dialogue. Check out this YouTube clip featuring the authors reading from Will Grayson, Will Grayson.

But even though it's hit the NYTimes list, there are some folks who aren't digging YA lit featuring prominent gay characters -- check out this article in Salon on Will Grayson, Will Grayson.

Or you can check it out for yourself and be the judge.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Selling My Soul

Would you take a job that compromises your beliefs and values, especially if you needed the job and the money?

Sherri Lewis's latest novel, Selling My Soul, follows the character Trina Michaels who faces that dilemma upon returning from a spiritual journey to Africa.

After the journey, and needing a job to help with two family dramas, she accepts an assignment from her PR firm to do a clean-up job on a leader of an urban mega-church accused of sexual relationships with young men in his church.

Learned of the novel through a few online interviews featuring the author. Very good listening if you have time: Authors Supporting Authors interview, and Black Author Network interview.

If you get a chance, check out Sherri Lewis's other titles as well.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

One Amazing Thing

A story of survival, hope, and inspiration, One Amazing Thing is a novel by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.

The novel follows a group of random strangers trapped in the basement of the Indian Consulate building in California following a major earthquake.

With little or no hope of being found in the earthquake rubble, the diverse group of people begin telling their personal stories of "One Amazing Thing" that shaped or made their lives. All this in an effort of keeping their spirits up in the midst of the question "Will we get out of here?"

The author has written other novels, including The Mistress of Spices and The Palace of Illusions.

Review and excerpt from NPR.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

L.A. Black Pride and Links

If you're in the L.A. area over 4th of July weekend, you've gotta check out Los Angeles Black Pride, aka, At The Beach L.A. Always something to do and someone to meet. Lots of events from July 1 - 5.

Related links. The new, and last, novel by E. Lynn Harris comes out this week. In My Father's House. Definitely worth checking out.

If you haven't picked up the Visible Lives tribute to E. Lynn Harris, you should. Great stories by James Earl Hardy, Stanley Bennett Clay, and Terrance Dean.

The other day, fellow author Rashid Darden and I were reminiscing on how busy our summer was five years ago, when in 2005, both our first novels were published and we were promoting our work on the Black Pride circuit. His, Lazarus. Mine, Down For Whatever. I love Rashid's writing a lot. Check out Rashid Darden on Facebook. Wow, time flies.

That's the latest and greatest here. What's up with you?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Leimert Park Book Fair

If you're in the L.A. area this weekend, check out the Leimert Park Book Fair on Saturday, June 26 from 9:30 am - 6 pm.

Looks like a really impressive lineup of authors, panels, and entertainment. And of course, it will come correct with the cultural inclusion of black authors. It's Leimert Park.

Look for authors and poets such as Eric Jerome Dickey, Nene Leakes, Ruth Forman, Imani Tolliver, Darnell Hunt, Vanessa Williams, Lou Gossett Jr., along with panels on mystery writers, poetry workshops, hip hop discussions, spoken word performances, and even vegan soul food cooking demonstrations.

Schedule of events here. The official Leimert Park Book Fair site here.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

32 Candles

I've been hearing so much about this novel, that I just had to tell you. But I'm sure you know about it already...

32 Candles is the debut novel by author Ernessa T. Carter. How can I best summarize the novel??? Besides imaginative and fun and full of what if's... And maybe I'm excited because I was (and still can be) a Nerd of Color in high school and life, lol...

Imagine you were all the awkward things that the most awkward high schooler could be, but you had a crush on the most un-awkward and popular athlete boy in high school.

Then imagine going away, re-inventing yourself and your look, and your whole way of being, and at age 32, that popular boy, now a 32-year-old man, falls for you... but he hasn't a clue who you are/were in his high school life. No. Clue.

Anyway, 32 Candles is in bookstores now. It's an Essence Magazine book pick. And check out this fascinating interview with Ernessa T. Carter on The Nervous Breakdown blog.

Happy reading. Nerds of color... unite!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Really Fat Virgin

If you're in the L.A. area tonight (Friday, June 18), you might want to check out the performance, Really Fat Virgin (And Other Stories From Before We Were Hot). Sounds really fun and funny.

Will feature writers and performers: Jessie McNamara, Roy Cruz, Andrea Gardner-Bernstein, and Nico Santos.

Takes place in the West Hollywood Church, 916 N. Formosa Avenue, from 8 - 9:30 pm. $10 donation with resesrvation, $15 without a reservation, and it benefits the Lambda Literary Foundation. For information, email

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Piece of Work

Graduation weekend in my world, so will be out the social loop Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. But the rest of the world will keep turning, with some great things going on.

If film and comedy are your thing, check out A Piece of Work, a new documentary on Joan Rivers. Heard a great interview she did on NPR the other day. And the L.A. Times Review on the film is great.

If you're in L.A., it's West Hollywood LGBT Pride Weekend. All the boys, girls, and fans will be in West Hollywood watching EnVogue, Kelis, and Kelly Rowland perform.

Kicking off Pride, in a literary way, is the Promising Series on Friday, June 11 at 7:30 pm at Skylight Books in the Los Feliz neighborhood. Noel Alumit puts together a great series, and the reading tonight is sure to please... featuring writers/performers Alex Davis, Larry Duplechan, Alison de la Cruz, D’Lo, David Francis, Jacky Guerrero, Hank Henderson, Imani Tolliver, and Ric Montejano.

All three are great events and great pieces of work to check out!

Monday, June 07, 2010

In The Moment TV

When you get some time, you've gotta watch In The Moment. It's a new soap-style web series that follows the trials and tribulations of a group of gay guys living in the same apartment complex in West Hollywood, CA.

It's very well-acted, entertaining, hip, and thought-provoking (and not in that after-school-special kinda way). I thought I was gonna watch one 5-minute episode yesterday evening, and ended up spending an hour watching all ten episodes currently available online.

In The Moment is produced by the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, and is part of the center's efforts to educate young LGBT and straight folks about a number of issues. Quite effective.

Support it. Watch it.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Black America's Main Street

Amazing the things you learn while reading. Learned about this book while reading Pearl Cleage's latest novel, Till You Hear From Me.

Along Martin Luther King: Travels Along Black America's Main Street is a book of photos, essays, and stories about the various Martin Luther King streets, avenues, and boulevards across the United States.

It captures the diversity of the neighborhoods, towns, businesses and homes that happen to sit on MLK streets. It also discusses the politics behind naming MLK streets, as well as the socioeconomic challenges facing many of the neighborhoods in which MLK streets are placed.

I'd never considered or thought about MLK Street being Black America's Main Street, but now that I think of it... most every city I've travelled to has one, and most define the heart or center of black life in those cities.

For a bit of background on the book, here's an interview the author Jonathan Tilove did with Tavis Smiley on NPR in 2004.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Neelys

For Memorial Day weekend, what better way to get in the spirit than with barbeque... and a blog entry I wrote in August 2009 about The Neely's. I'm craving bbq this weekend in L.A., since I'm not heading to midwest, so I gotta figure something out :-) And if you join the Neely's on Facebook, you'll get weekly recipes... some bbq-related, some not. But all delicious!

August 2009
Back in the Midwest for a few days with the family. I realize how much life here revolves around food (and bulging bellies, lol). I've managed a couple gym trips while here, but all those family (i.e. food) gatherings are close to negating the benefits of exercise.

Anyway, why am I now super fascinated with the Pat and Gina Neely (and the rest of the Neely family) of Memphis story? I caught their show recently on Food Network, Down Home With The Neelys, where they showcase their family recipes, heritage, and marriage. Loved it.

Came home to my mom's house and found their new cookbook, Down Home With The Neelys, on the kitchen table. Read it cover to cover and now have to get a copy for myself.

What I love most (beyond the barbeque, soul food, and sweets they make) is their love story. It's a story that began back in high school, and with a couple relationships, cross-country moves, and children in their paths, they found themselves reunited at their 10-year high school reunion.

Now gotta try their restaurant, Neelys BBQ, in Memphis and Nashville.

Good love. Good food. What more could someone ask for?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Efrain's Secret

We all know young people who would like the opportunity to attend college, but for whatever reason... can't dream it, can't afford it.

The novel, Efrain's Secret, by Sofia Quintero follows such a struggle.

17-year-old Efrain is growing up on the tough streets of the Bronx. He's entering senior year. He has earned perfect SAT scores. And he dreams of escaping his environment to attend college at Yale, Harvard, or another Ivy League School. He knows neither he nor his parents can afford the $30+k tuition, so he turns to his boys in the neighborhood pharmaceutical business for a sales job. He desperately wants to pay for college.

Sofia Quintero has penned several novels focusing on young people growing up in NYC. This is another winner from her collection, and it's for young adults... or young adults at heart.

Highly recommended.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

In My Father's House

Attended a great reading event yesterday at Cal State L.A., featuring Terrance Dean, James Earl Hardy, and Stanley Bennett Clay discussing their stories in the the E. Lynn Harris tribute, Visible Lives. Lively, energetic, and motivating discussion! Get the book and read the other works by these authors.

In the meantime, there is a new E. Lynn Harris novel coming in June. In My Father's House, a novel about gay celebrities, modeling agencies, and father/son relationships, will be released June 22.

The beat and books continue.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Visible Lives: E. Lynn Harris Tribute

If you're a fan of the late E. Lynn Harris and his novels, then you're sure to enjoy this new book.

Visible Lives: A Tribute to E. Lynn Harris features new fictional stories by James Earl Hardy, Stanley Bennett Clay, and Terrance Dean in honor of E. Lynn Harris. The stories feature the author himself as a character or characters whose lives have been influenced by E. Lynn Harris or his work.

Visible Lives will be available May 25 in bookstores everywhere.

The authors will kick off the book with several appearances in Los Angeles next week, including readings at Cal State L.A. and Esowon Bookstore, and at In The Meantime Men's Group. Later next week and through the summer, the authors will appear jointly and separately at additional bookstores, book clubs, pride events, and libraries across the U.S.

For many people, including myself, their writing careers or life identity were influenced or validated by E. Lynn Harris' novels. His groundbreaking early novels, Invisible Live and Just As I Am are must-reads, and were in a sense a rite of passage for many in the black LGBT community.

Visible Lives seems a fitting tribute to the groundbreaking author. Definitely a good book to pick up for your summer reading.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Carrie Diaries

Just in time for the upcoming release of the film Sex and the City 2...

The Carrie Diaries, a novel by Candace Bushnell, which follows the character Carrie Bradshaw in high school, just as she is developing her knack for fashion, cocktails, and cool/trendy friends (another foursome she hangs with in h.s., not the women she goes on to meet as she starts her writing career in NYC.)

L.A. Times did a great review of The Carrie Diaries this weekend.

What a perfect way to understand Carrie Bradshaw... by going back to her high school years.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Long Beach Pride Weekend

Summer's here... or at least, that's what many of us say when it's Long Beach Pride weekend.

Only ocean-front pride festival in the country, and the 3rd largest -- San Francisco and New York City rank higher in terms of attendance and size.

If you or someone you know is part of the LGBT community, and in L.A. area, LBP is a must-attend event. And it's this weekend, May 15 and 16.

On that note, for those of you who have attended LGBT Pride Festivals before... do you remember your first pride? the anticipation? the friendships, rivalries, or relationships that started? I love hearing "my first Pride" stories... and feel free to share a memory here.

Have a good one!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Stormy Weather

So we've all heard the sad news that Lena Horne has passed. Sunday night. NYC.

What's so eery... the weekly events email sent Saturday from L.A.'s premiere black bookstore, Esowon Books. The email features an event this Wednesday, May 12 with author James Gavin discussing his biography of Lena Horne, Stormy Weather.

The email reads, "James Gavin will sign and discuss Stormy Weather with special guests. Lena Horne will be with us in spirit." That was sent Saturday. Eery coincidence.

If you're in the L.A. area this Wednesday, May 12 at 7 pm, stop by Esowon Bookstore for what I'm sure will be both a reading and a remembrance of a special, classy woman.

A couple times, I've blogged about Lena Horne. On her 89th birthday in 2006. And this past holiday season, Merry From Lena.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

How To Talk About Books... You Haven't Read

Heard about this book on a podcast this week... can't remember the podcast, but the book idea sticks out.

How To Talk About Books You Haven't Read is by Pierre Bayard, and is a fun social guide to participating in conversations about books you haven't read. Listen to this NPR interview featuring the author.

I'm sure many of us, myself included, have stood by quietly while people are discussing a book or another topic that everyone is assumed to have knowledge of. Of course, assuming is not a good thing, because everyone comes from different levels of knowledge, education, and cultural capital.

But I'm sure a book like this one will help in some of those socially awkward moments.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Where's Willona from Good Times?

Ths other day in the office, we had a random thought/conversation. "Where's Willona from Good Times these days?"

It only took a minute for someone to remember the actress' name who portrayed Willona, Ja'Net Dubois, and then about 30 seconds to find Ja'Net Dubois website and see what's going on in her world. Lots of work, charity functions, and painting great works of art... art we're all thinking we'd like to own.

A couple years ago, we had a random thought/conversation about "Where's Thelma?" which I blogged about here. Check out Bern Nadette Stanis' official website, Thelma of Good Times.

Just a fun, Monday trip down memory lane. Both actresses look the same as they did back in the day.

Me thinks some soap, maybe Young & Restless, might want to pick them up for new characters, since the actresses and Y&R have such a nostalgic following in the African American community. Hmmmm.....


Saturday, May 01, 2010

Secrets of a Soap Opera Diva

It's May sweeps. Time for the big catfight showdown between rivals, faked pregnancy to be revealed, and your long-lost love to return from the dead as you're walking down the aisle.

Oh, and it's also time for the release of Secrets of a Soap Opera Diva, a novel by Young & the Restless star, Victoria Rowell. Check out the fun website for the book.

The novel follows soap actress, Calysta Jeffries, the hottest (and one of a few) black actresses in daytime, who after fifteen years in the role of Ruby, still hasn't won a Sudsy Award. She desperately want to win the top award in daytime drama.

This is sure to be a fun and dramatic read.

And while you're at it, you can check out Rowell's memoir, The Women Who Raised Me.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I Love Yous Are For White People

Had the opportunity to hear author Lac Su speak on his memoir, I Love Yous Are For White People, a few days ago at Cal State L.A. and the LA Times Festival of Books.

I was totally mesmerized with his story, a true one, as an Asian American immigrant struggling to find himself, win his father's love, and transcend the dangers of life in urban L.A.

The title, by the way, comes from an interaction between Lac and his father, when upon telling his father (as a kid) that he loves him, his dad replies along the line of "Stop being soft. I love yous are for white people."


If you're into memoirs, you will definitely enjoy this one.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Culture Clash: Drama High

Culture Clash, by L Divine, is the latest installment in the Drama High series, featuring main character Jayd, a strong young African American woman living her life in South L.A./Compton.

This novel focuses on Jayd's frustration with the way her school is handling Cultural Awareness Day. So, in response, she helps form the first African Student Union organization, much to the dismay of school administrators. Add to the mix Jayd's new favorite hobby -- drag racing -- and a crush on Emilio, a new Latino student at her school, and you've got some big time drama at Drama High.

Faithful readers of the Drama High series recommend starting with the first of the series, The Fight.

More on the author, L Divine, and the entire Drama High Series.

No matter where you start, however, you or a young person in your life will definitely enjoy the Drama High series of books.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

L.A. Book Fest This Weekend

The schedule is up now for the annual L.A. Times Festival of Books, which takes place this weekend, April 24/25, at the UCLA campus.

Lots of good speakers, writers, book sellers, and more. I usually decide last minute which sessions I want to attend.

But I'm most definitely excited about seeing/hearing Terry McMillan speak on Sunday at 2:30 pm. Her work is a fave of mine, and I'm looking foward to the new novel, Getting to Happy, coming in September (video clip here of her discussing novel).

What/who are you looking forward to seeing or buying at the festival?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Hot Stuff

Disco is still queen... or king.

At least it is... according to this new book, Hot Stuff: Disco and the Remaking of American Culture by Alice Echols. The book takes an academic look at the effects of disco on life in the U.S. in the 70s, as well as the effects of society on disco music. It examines the ethnicity, class, gender, and sexual orientation themes of the disco era. Check out this L.A. Times review of the book.

In other disco news, just read on Rod 2.0 this heartwarming story about what disco diva Sylvester's estate left a few San Francisco AIDS/HIV community organizations. And we probably have technology, pop culture, and of course Sylvester's music to thank for the legacy and gift. Check out this clip of Sylvester on Joan Rivers' late night show in the 80s.

That's the hot stuff for now.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Mo'Nique Showcases Authors

Look for my favorite author of the day, Pamela Samuels Young, on this Tuesday night's, April 20, Mo'Nique Show.

She'll be discussing her L.A. based legal thrillers, which I've written about on this blog before -- Buying Time, and Murder on the Down Low.

Very rare that talk shows feature black authors on their shows these days. Hopefully this is something Mo'Nique will do regularly on her show.

So show Mo'Nique some love for showing black authors some love, and watch the show this week!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Perfect Peace

Talk about word-of-mouth being the ultimate publicity, I never would have known about this novel if one of the readers of this blog hadn't alerted me to it. Thanks Anthony. This one sounds like a winner for sure.

Perfect Peace is the third novel by author Daniel Black.

Set in the rural U.S. south, the novel follows Emma Jean Peace's decision to raise her seventh son, Perfect, as the daughter she always wanted, but never gave birth to. When Perfect is eight, someone discovers the gender secret, and it sets off a series of events that leads to multiple questions of identity, gender, biology, and religion. Imagine all that, again, in the South, perceived not to be as open as other areas of the U.S.

I'm always excited to learn about authors deep into their literary careers. It means I get to read their previous books before getting to their current release. In the case of Daniel Black, he's had two other novels published -- They Tell Me of a Home and The Sacred Place -- and both sound like great reads.

Thanks Anthony for the heads up! Enjoy!