Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Reading List - March/April 2009

Here is a list of books on my overflowing bookshelf that I intend read for pleasure and/or review during the months of March and April. Perhaps some of you have read or plan on reading a few of them as well.

Please feel free to leave your comments below.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Verbal Agreements - Just Say No

Are verbal agreements binding? Depending upon what's involved, I would say more often than not, verbal agreements aren't binding in a court of law. I'm no lawyer, but let's examine. If one agrees to perform a service for another who states he is unable to afford said service, but afterward the recipient demands a change in the originally understood verbal service agreement, then no.

Oftentimes the basis for a verbal agreement is good faith because one of two parties can't afford a product or service. In recent times, I've bartered copywriting or editing services for web design, development, or CMS (content management system) help.

I recently had to deal with the ugly side of publicity, and here I am examining and reexamining myself and my intentions to perform good deeds and network with other creative souls. This analysis strips the inherent good will.

I think more artists need to take better control of their careers, which includes a thorough understanding of the legal rights in their state or country. I'd advise not to rely on phone conversations and verbal promises meant to soothe a person's fears in the heat of the moment when they're panicking about a broken heart, job loss, or being on the brink of homelessness.

I've learned my lesson: get it in writing to prevent misunderstandings, future temper tantrums, long, threatening e-mails, and text messages at all hours of the day or night. Get it in writing, even if it's on a coffee shop or restaurant napkin. Don't threaten litigation if you've previously stated you can't afford other services, because that would be tantamount to fraud or theft of services.

Invest in a Mead Composition notebook or a digital voice recorder for all important creative and business meetings. Take meeting minutes, date the entry, and mirror back to those in attendance: "What I understand is..."

Should an agreement come from the meeting, have the other person sign and date the entry until a formal contract is created and co-signed by both parties. An audio recording is easier because it would be an actual transcript of the conversation. Don't be sneaky, mind you. Ask permission to record the conversation and place the device in clear sight.

Open your eyes and ears, and pay attention to who you're speaking with, body language, and verbal ticks, if any, before going off on a tangent with unfounded legal threats that wouldn't have legs in court.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Ugly Side of Publicity

I've had a fast and early education into the darker spectrums of human fraility and psychosis as a publicist. I had no grandiose expectations when I considered representing a friend who's now a client.

My job is to create or help create a marketable brand, field and secure radio, TV, and print interview requests, and promote my clients to their ideal demographic.

I didn't expect to deal with prim donas, would-be divas, people who'd never qualify as a diva, or people better suited an insane asylum.

My new job as a publicist is one that I embrace and know that I will be successful because I get to incorporate my background in theatre, writing, and editing. Most successful publicists and marketers have the gift of gab are are social butterflies. How else can we place our clients in venues and on radio and talk shows if we're not liked, or at least respected?

I've no patience and time for people who think they can take advantage of me or anyone else because they were once a corporate executive, physically attractive, or accustomed to delegating to subordinates.

Every third person is clamoring for fifteen minutes of fame and notoriety, but two out of three people don't understand what's involved in creating a public identity. It requires hard work and daily maintenance to sustain a reputable career. This isn't to say that one-trick or one-shot ponies have no place in life; they are the ones who amuse and teach us what not to do.

The ugly side of publicity shines a floodlight on the darker reaches of human greed, insecurity and stupidity. Too many are outraged or shocked during the early stages of contract negotiations. Don't be. Compromises have to be made to ensure both sides get the best deal at the time. Still others want to threaten legal for verbal agreements after they've watched a few episodes of Law & Order or Boston Legal. These are the ones who will probably never be successful, and will do whatever they feel necessary to have an audience.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Beginning of The End

I'm struggling with a decision to euthanize my oldest cat. I can't bring myself to do it despite the fact that her health is failing. She was once a fat cat that made no qualms about eating the younger cat's food when unattended. She was once a bold cat, but now she's a mere shadow of a her former self.

I know that I'm mixing my feelings for my granny with Clancy. Natural death is expected. My granny died when she was ninety years old. Clancy's purred and cooed for eighteen human years, which would make her eighty-eight years old in the animal kingdom.

I know I'll have to do one of two things: contact the cat lady in Stuyvesant Town and ask if she still has the country home where her cats roam free until death, or take her to local animal shelter and have her put to sleep. The first choice is easier, provided the cat lady (her self-described moniker, not mine) is willing to pet her out to pasture.

Death is permanent, and I'm not prepared to step into the role of executioner.

I think, too, about Maxie, my black tortoise shell cat. She knows that the end is near for Clancy. Maxie's taken to following me around the apartment more often than not, rather than one of two favorite hiding spots underneath the coffee table or living room sofa. She's been beside herself, meowing, and trying her best to communicate what I know all too well when I lock eyes with Clancy.

I used to be allergic to bobbed-tail cats as a child. My mother was concerned and surprised that I'd have a cat, and eventually two. I don't know that I'm not a dog person, but cats are less maintenance than dogs. And there's no walking a cat during freezing New York winters.

I think what it'd be like decide to flip the switch on a human relative. What if I'd wait a few more minutes? Who says that there wouldn't be miraculous recovery?

I know I have to make a decision, soon. I keep hoping upon hope, that, she will eat more days than not, and her guttural wails that stop me in my tracks will cease. I feel as if I'm playing God. Who am I to end another life? I don't have all the answers.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Review : Chévolution

What might be in store for viewers, as opening images of an overhead military action fills the screen while a crowd watches below and cheers? Further images of revolution come into focus as a flying rock guitar underscores black and white footage. At any moment, the audience will shift and settle into their collective seats, watching snapshots of Ernesto “Che” Guevara as interview subjects pontificate on the life, times, and motivations of the pop icon.

His status as a cultural phenomena rivals Elvis Presley, Andy Warhol, and Marilyn Monroe. The famous portrait of him in the black beret is purported to be the most reproduced image in the entire history of photography. This seems contradictory to an anti-establishment former medical doctor who originally set out to liberate disadvantaged indigenous Latin American people.

The commercialization of his image is in direct opposition to this formerly privileged Argentine who traveled by motorcycle along the western coast of South America searching for a higher purpose in life, and finally settling in Cuba with the future dictator Fidel Castro.

Images endure, but does a person’s life resonate after death? The documentary veers off into a history lesson of photographer Alberto Korda, his studio, and a freewheeling pre-Castro Cuba. Viewers endure too much footage on this photographer in the titular Chevolution, which is one of the drawbacks in this documentary. The filmmakers couldn’t decide, and neither should the audience, on what should be the focus: a history of Cuba, or a man and his legend. Twenty minutes into the film, Che’s absence speaks volumes during the digression into Cuban depravity and world politics.

Ernesto Guevara’s life and mythology perhaps endures because he was an intelligent, compassionate, and misguided assassin. Political and social injustices in Bolivia set the stage for his initial revolutionary bent. He rejected the inequalities of the time and sought ways to topple government officials and to empower its downtrodden people.

Eighteen months after his fateful meeting with Castro, Che and other revolutionaries set sail for Cuba to overthrow Bautista. Two years into the campaign, he abandoned his medical aspirations and embraced his role as rebel, warrior, and future mythological entity after the successful Cuban exercise.

Post-Cuban Revolution, filmmakers Trisha Ziff and Luis Lopez veer off target again as they deconstruct Castro and his need for photographers to supply propaganda images. Would there be a documentary without its subplots? Was Guevara’s life not enough to fill a documentary as the title subject?

Perhaps the time allocated to photographers and graphic artists complements the intended scope of the documentary that some viewers might miss. Guevara made his living in Mexico City as a photographer, so it’s only fitting that an image taken by another photographer most commemorates his life. This image was taken by Korda during a mass funeral as Guevara stepped onto a dais and looked out into a sea of mourners. How many people actually know the story of this image that’s emblazoned on t-shirts, bikinis, shorts, and hats? The expression captured in a fraction of a second was one of contemplation, mourning, and anger–not defiance to rally against the system, as many mistakenly think.

Most don’t understand who the man was and what he represented. Guevara left Cuba disenchanted, in search of new challenges and people to liberate after having failed to industrialize Cuba. He later died in Bolivia, defeated by an inferior army led by Teran, his murderer. He is said to have stated before his execution, “Aim well, because you’re about to kill a man.”

Why entitle the documentary “Chevoltion”? What did he revolutionize? He didn’t improve a machine, equipment, or political system that transformed the lives of those he wanted to help. His image is a universal icon for struggle, but Guevara didn’t. An Italian publisher is responsible for printing posters and other media bearing his image, which spread like wildfire around the world as a symbol of change and rebellion.

The last third of the film focuses on the image, its reproduction, and international copyright laws. If not for capitalism, a system he was against, he might have remained regional folklore. Guevara represented death, socialism, and bloodshed to achieve results. Commercialism devoured his legacy. Social divides and injustices still exist in many Latin American countries. Guevara was a doctor who advocated murder rather than saving lives. Not all want the memorabilia. Perhaps Alberto Korda’s daughter should invest money that the family estate lawyers regularly win in impoverished communities in Argentina and Cuba. Isn’t that what Ernesto “Che” Guevara would’ve wanted? And wouldn’t that be revolutionary, to actually help people rather than taking advantage of them?

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Breena Clarke Interview

I met and interviewed Breena Clarke, author of River, Cross My Heart, and her latest, Stand the Storm, at a Harlem bookstore prior to an intimate reading and book signing at The Studio Museum of Harlem.

It was a privilege to sit in the book storeroom with the personable author, who answered my questions after careful consideration and thought.

KW: Why do you write? Is it because you’re inspired or have something to contribute to an ongoing artistic dialogue? Are your books for everyone?

Breena Clarke: Yes, I would say that I am most often inspired to write, and I feel an obligation to contribute to the exchange of ideas relevant to the African American experience, for all people who can read. I stipulate this because I recognize that access and interest in reading is not universal. All readers/thinkers are welcome to my fiction.

KW: For those who might not know, describe your style of writing.

BC: I describe my fiction as character-driven and as descriptive, panoramic, and historic.

KW: Who were your earliest influences? Who continues to influence or impress you as a writer and artist?

BC: My earliest literary influences were the big classics of elementary and middle school: Dickens, Poe, Alcott, Twain, and many others I can no longer remember. I was a voracious reader and remain so. Over the last 20 or so years, I have been entertained, enlightened, and inspired by the writing of a huge number of writers that include the following: James Baldwin, Jean Toomer, Ernest J. Gaines, Joyce Carol Oates, Toni Morrison, Zora Neale Hurston, Ann Petry, Jorge Amado, Edwidge Danticat, Cheryl Clarke, Alice McDermott, Margaret Atwood, Alice Walker, Paule Marshall, Barbara Kingsolver, Dorothy Allison, and Jewelle Gomez.

KW: What’s the biggest setback you’ve had as an artist? What keeps you going. despite the setback(s)?

BC: The biggest setback in my life is a personal one. The 1989 accidental death of my son changed my life entirely. Though I had early on been influenced by literary aspirations, I began writing with a more intense focus after his death. So my writing rescued me and continues to do so.

KW: Did you always dream of a life in publishing? What were your preliminary obstacles in publishing? What kinds of struggles did you face? How did you handle them?

BC: Yes, I have had early aspirations to have a book published. I was a library rat –- a girl who spent summer days reading in the cool, marble building with old oak chairs — the main library in Washington, D.C., so, I have always wanted to be on the shelves. I didn’t have obstacles to getting published. I have had the life obstacles that were typical of my “time” and circumstance. My parents were my most fortunate circumstance. They supported me and directed me, and finally let me choose my own career paths.

KW: Complete this statement: “Some people criticize me for…” How do you respond?

BC: I didn’t imagine that people would criticize me. Well, I suppose some people are annoyed and unhappy that I do not include a religious narrative in my novels. Religious worship is included for its social function only.

KW: Are novels your only form of expression?

BC: No, some of my short stories appear in two anthologies: Black Silk Erotica and Street Lights. I’ve also co-authored a play.

KW: Are you the only artist in your family? Is your family supportive of your career?

BC: Oh, no. I am not even the only published writer. My sister is Cheryl L. Clarke. She has published volumes of poetry, articles, and essays. My husband is an actor and a voracious reader. I have a cousin who is an actress, and one who is an actress and choreographer. My mother’s sister had a short career as a singer, and all of the other members of my family are kitchen table storytellers –- sharing the same anecdotes again and again.

KW: If not a career as a writer, what would you do?

BC: Perhaps I would teach. I taught some –- very briefly years ago, after college. I was an actress, director, and stage manager in my earlier career. Perhaps I might do this.

KW: If you could have dinner with five people in the music or entertainment industry, living or dead, who would they be and why?

BC: Fats Waller and Billie Holiday would be at the very top of my list -– so much so that I could forego the three others and just have these two. It would take many pages for me to explain that I feel Thomas “Fats” Waller was the greatest musician of his age. I carried him in my heart since I took a set of his 78 records to college. They were something that my mother had in the basement. They were, of course, antiques when I played them in my dorm. They were kitchy to my dorm mates, but vital to me in ways I don’t fully understand. And because I went to college as a quirky, smart, black girl, I was obsessed with Billie Holiday. Many of us were. To me, she was the most beautiful and most talented person who breathed. I would also select Bessie Smith, Otis Redding, and Sam Cook. I think an idea of men as generally nice and well-intentioned left me when Otis Redding died. He had a country-sexy singing style that was one of the nicer parts of my musical youth. Sam Cook was also part of that nice guy youth thing. I loved -– still do -– his music and was heartbroken when he was killed. Bessie Smith is part of the transition from nice girl to bad woman of the world after Catholic high school. I used to own the entire Columbia reissue.

KW: Do you meticulously plan or work from a sudden burst of inspiration?

BC: I plan my work. I make notes, create a structure, and work regularly. I am inspired, though, greatly. I have developed ways to excite and inspire myself. Research -– discovering facts and circumstances for the first time and making connections to other materials -– is very inspirational for me.

KW: Which event or series of events have shocked and/or wowed you over the years, and will any of these become the basis of a fictional work?

BC: The MLK March on Washington, the church bombings in Birmingham, and JFK’s assassination all have had a profound impact on me. I remember coming home, as a child, and finding my great-aunt on her knees in front of TV in the aftermath of Kennedy’s assassination. He was a promising talent wiped out before he reached his potential. The Civil Rights Movement was a scary time in American history.

KW: How do you keep yourself motivated? Is there a key to your creative process? How many drafts until you know the book is ready?

BC: It is somewhat of a challenge to keep from tiring of a novel before it is finished. The key is probably to take a short break. I discovered that some novelists actually try to work on two projects so that they can stay fresh. There is no set number of drafts for me. I use my intellect and instincts to decide how done the draft is. If, after a short break, I read it and it reads well –- especially if I am surprised by it -– I consider it at a stage for some other pair of eyes.

KW: How important are rankings, ratings, and adulation to you as a writer? Are you striving for commercial or artistic success/appeal?

BC: I’m one of those writers who will tell you she is interested in both commercial success and artistic success. Simply put: I want people to read my work critically and praise it, and recognize some intrinsic value. I also want them to purchase it and support my living. Since we live in a society with vertical structures, it works to be favorably placed on lists and rankings, but the lists don’t make one book better than another, artistically.

KW: Do you use writing as therapy to combat mood swings or adversity?

BC: No, writing can’t be everything. One thing I’ve learned over the years is not to make writing be all things. I use music, art, theater/film, basketball, swimming, and Qi Gong for mood management.

KW: What does “authentic” mean to you as an artist?

BC: That which can be verified in the deepest part of cultural understanding -– the visceral, the “know in the bone” feeling.

KW: What were the most difficult scenes you’ve written in either of your two books, emotionally and spiritually?

BC: The scenes of death in both novels were most emotionally involved for me.

KW: Do you find that you get lost in your work for days or weeks on end? And does that result in deeper, more resonant work?

BC: No. The point I have finally gotten to is having a way of staying in my own daily life and becoming involved with the novel each day. I have thought, in the past, that I would most like to have a solitary stretch in a lovely place and fill up notebooks. And when I am vacationing, I do…sort of. But I have to keep myself fit physically and emotionally in order to be consistent, to be at my desk each day. I sleep deeply and productively, and I have used dreaming/creative visualization since I was very young.

KW: What do you think will be your artistic legacy?

BC: I can only hope that my legacy will be that I portrayed characters in my fiction who illuminate the complex lives of ordinary people and that I wrote well and artfully.

KW: How much research went into writing this novel?

BC: Several years worth of reading and visiting museums and historic homes.

KW: How far have African Americans progressed emotionally and spiritually since the setting and time of your novel?

BC: I don’t think of the people of the 19th century as being less emotionally or spiritually complex than those of the 21st century. The differences would be in areas of personal freedom and access to education. I believe that the reason I can empathize and that my readers can empathize with the characters of Stand The Storm is because human beings are motivated by all the same feelings and are only different because of circumstances. I think a novelist is counting on this truth –- in fact, is manipulating this so that the reader becomes invested.

Friday, February 06, 2009

24 Ways To Set Goals

I’ve read several self-help books, and stared at those paid infomercials in the wee hours of the morning when I should’ve been asleep after watching too many episodes of syndicated shows on cable. There are many ways to set goals and stick to them, provided the right approach is taken. These might not work for everyone–proceed with caution.

1. Define your goal, or you will surely to be off to a bad start. If the goal is too vague or unattainable for your skill set, beware. All goals aren’t for everyone.

2. Ask your family and close friends for help in attaining your goal. If they’re unable or uninterested in helping, log onto the nearest computer search engine for a list of books or articles on that specific goal.

3. Visit the library, if you can’t afford the latest self help book or if you are unwilling to spend the money because deep inside you know all of these books essentially say the same thing: Get off your lazy butt and do something.

4. You’ve checked the book out of the branch library, or you bought the hardcopy of the book because you wanted to impress someone other than yourself. Open the book and read at least the Introduction and Table of Contents.

5. Allow yourself a generous break and time away from the book to define those psychobabble terms undoubtedly used in said self-help guru’s Introduction.

6. Remind yourself that you will achieve this goal, no matter what, unlike the last time you decided to change your life in a meaningful way.

7. If those close to you ask about the sudden pep in your step, lead them on. Tell them you’re testing new form fitting undergarments.

8. Remind yourself that your increased heart rate has as much to do with your caffeine intake as you might actually succeed with your goal.

9. Generous break now over, get back to the book, pencil or colorful highlighter in hand to mark those stirring passages, if you purchased the book. Otherwise, photocopy or scan those passages because you might return the book during the allotted time at most stores. Library cardholders have more flexibility in returning the book, but not too much.

10. Begin the first chapter with the intent of finishing it. Turn off all communication devices and distractions: cell phone, Palm Pilot, refurbished, or sticker-covered laptop.

11. Look at your reflection in a full-length mirror and tell yourself in a clear voice: “I am worthy of this goal.”

12. Write and display handwritten reminders on index cards or colorful Post-its around your living and/or work space for all to see and nudge you along your appointed goal.

13. Set up a reward system for successful increments on the path to achieving your goal.

14. Talk to or visit family or friends who are stuck in a rut to get you over the initial butterflies.

15. After the phone call or visit, reread the Introduction and Table of Contents to remind yourself of what you think you want.

16. If you’re ready for the next step, read chapter two, or treat yourself to a hot shower or bath. All this goal setting is hard work, and you need to relax before the real work begins.

17. Remember to take the book everywhere you go to read during downtime at work or face value on the subway or bus, if you use mass transit. Don’t forget your highlighter!

18. Begin using new psychobabble to impress family, friends, or your pet. Establishing boundaries will go far with your dog that likes to chew your shoes underneath the bed.

19. Keep a journal of your newfound thinking and activities.

20. Stare at your blank spiral notebook or computer screen to be sure you know what you’re doing. Scratch your head or hold your hand to your mouth with a contemplative stare off in the distance.

21. Now that two weeks have passed, you can’t return the book to the local bookseller and you’re probably afraid to return it to the library. Proceed to the next crucial step.

22. Chapter three should be a breeze for those of you who really want to change your life.

23. When family and friends ask about your progress, use the LARK Method: List your goals, Avoid telling the truth, Reconfirm why you’re doing this to yourself, and Know that it won’t be too long before they figure out you’re lying.

24. If all else fails, repeat these steps until you achieve the goal of losing weight, running a marathon, finding the love of your life, or mending the relationship with your estranged family member.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Traces of The Trade - A Story From The Deep North

What does a family do when they discover their ancestors were the largest slave importers and traders in American history?

Slavery has existed since the beginning of time, but the American chapter surpasses all others because of its brutality, disregard for human life, and a profit margin.

Katrina Browne and nine of her extended family members set out to retrace their family’s injustice in the documentary Traces of the Trade: A Story From The Deep North from the POV series.

The opening image of a tool shed fills the screen, as what appears to be either a heartbeat or a drum underscores the first frame. This location could double as a slave quarter or hideout, given its rustic look. Ms. Browne steps through the door, and thus begins our journey into her family’s colorful past.

The old gives way to the relatively modern with a celebration down a main avenue in Bristol, Rhode Island, famous for the longest 4th of July parade in the country. Ms. Browne somberly narrates the documentary, as succeeding images of white Americans flitter across the screen and we end up at Linden Place, a big mansion in the center of town that her family used to own.

The DeWolfs were once known as “the great folk” in Bristol, whose ranks included doctors, lawyers, professors, writers, and Episcopal ministers.

Our tour guide was at first fascinated by family legacy and love, which eventually gave way to a full investigation. Ms. Browne was in a seminary, undoubtedly on the path to become yet another Episcopal minister, when she received a family booklet from her grandmother who had compiled their history. The family had a no talk rule. “You don’t talk about unpleasant things: sex, religion, politics, and the Negroes.”

Mark Anthony DeWolf first came to America as a sailor in 1774 and began a long, profitable, and ultimately illegal enterprise as a slave trader. Katrina tries to chastise herself, if only for the listeners, that she knew the DeWolf history but buried it deep within her mind. What might she want to accomplish or set right acknowledging that her ancestors brought over 10,000 slaves to the Americas?

She began retracing her family’s presence in the slave trade from her apartment in Boston. The planned journey took her from Rhode Island to Ghana, to Cuba, and back. She felt unprepared to handle this alone and enlisted nine of 200 living survivors to travel back in time in search for answers, understanding, or reconciliation.

Katrina wanted to repair the damage and suffering her family caused to the estimated one and a half million survivors. I learned that Bristol was the historic center of the American slave trade.

The historical society that oversees Linden Place, built by George DeWolf in 1812 (one of the two prominent slave traders in the family), was concerned about the trip. A connection between slavery and the museum might surely affect visitors. They weren’t allowed to film inside. It was best not to soil the DeWolf name with their investigation. Truth, lies, and family deception ebb and flow throughout the 86-minute film.

The entire town of Bristol was involved; they all reaped the benefits of slavery. Boat makers, iron workers, coopers, and distillers were integral to three generations of the Christian-minded DeWolf family’s dominance on the slave trade.

One family member reasons that it was hard not to name his son after James DeWolf as he had been. Troubling because he had to know what it might mean to his son growing up. Why knowingly inflict the family legacy on yet another generation? He states, “It’s hard to break a chain once it’s started.” I wonder if he thought the same of slave shackles.

Rum was the currency of slavery that fueled the Triangle Trade. Sugar and molasses entered the DeWolf warehouse in the Bristol Harbor, and out went rum. Rum. Africans. Sugar. The slave trade was illegal most of the time the DeWolfs were practicing it. To work their way around this loophole, Thomas Jefferson appointed his brother-in-law as the customs official who looked the other way when slave ships arrived in port.

One of the more telling moments in the film takes place in Ghana, when a student asks a family member, “Are you not ashamed to come here?”

He replies, “Yes, it is a shaming thing.”

Where does one place their anger? Should all African descendants be enraged or accept that slavery was primarily a logical economic model, and that the earliest DeWolf pioneered vertical integration (controlling all aspects of an industry)?

The subject matter is too broad to encapsulate in an 86-minute documentary. What would create wholeness for people of African descent? What would create wholeness for people of European descent?

There will always be African Americans and others of African descent who feel they deserve reparations, written formal apologies, and legislation to soften the grip slavery has on history. We’re discussing American slavery, not world slavery. If that were the case, we’d be in court indefinitely.

What would suing for reparations do for those who were beaten, dragged, tarred and feathered, or lynched? Would I get closure if I were to successfully sue the American government for what might have happened to my ancestors? Will an apology cleanse any breach slavery has caused?

One,” by U2, is the closing song as the documentary ends, rolling through snowcapped white neighborhoods. Did the filmmakers miss the point, or should we read something different into the lyrics? The lyrics speak of love, unity, compassion, and slavery had nothing to do with either. The song is optimistic at best.

“Is it getting better? Or do you feel the same? Will it make it easier on you now? You got someone to blame. You say…”

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Valentine's Weekend Book Raffle!

Hachette Book Group and Harlem Writer are sponsoring a Valentine's Weekend Book Raffle. Five winners will receive a set of the eleven books listed below. The contest is simple this time around: answer one of three questions and leave a comment on this posting. The best five combination of essay and comment will win!

Contest Rules:

1. The contest is open to US or Canadian residents with a valid mailing address only. No P.O. Boxes.
2. Applicants must use a valid e-mail address and home or cell number.

Format: Please submit essay responses using the following guidelines (Courier New, 12 pt, double –spaced, 1” margins on all four sides). Word count: 500-1000 words.

Submit response as a .doc or .pdf attachment by midnight on 02/15/09, to info@morningsidewriters.com, Subject: Valentine's Book Giveaway.

Books will be mailed to contest winners courtesy of the publisher.

Ready? Here goes.

  • If you could spend one year of your life in perfect happiness with your significant other but afterward would remember nothing of the experience would do you so? If not, why not?
  • If you were happily married or committed to a significant other, and then met someone you felt was certain to always bring you deeply passionate, intoxicating love, would you leave your spouse or significant other? What if you had kids? What about the shared home and mutual bank account?
  • Who is the most important person in your life? What could you do to improve the relationship? Will you ever do it?
* Writers will retain rights to submitted essay.

Available books:

  1. Love in 90 Days By Diana Kirschner ISBN: 1599951223
  2. Sundays at Tiffany's By James Patterson , Gabrielle Charbonnet ISBN: 0446199443
  3. Free Yourself to Love By Jackie Kendall ISBN: 0446580899
  4. The Italian Lover By Robert Hellenga ISBN: 031611765X
  5. Looking for Mrs. Friedman by Steve Friedman 1559708883
  6. Getting Naked Again By Judith Sills ISBN: 0446582492
  7. We Take This Man By Candice Dow , Daaimah Poole ISBN: 0446501832
  8. Things I've Learned From Women Who've Dumped Me By Ben Karlin ISBN: 0446699462
  9. Sexcapades By HoneyB ISBN: 0446582298
  10. Love and Other Natural Disasters By Holly Shumas ISBN: 0446504777
  11. Send Yourself Roses By Kathleen Turner ISBN: 0446699950
  12. Good luck!

Monday, February 02, 2009

Celebrate African-American History Raffle!

Hachette Book Group and Harlem Writer are sponsoring an African- American History Giveaway. Five winners will receive a set of the eight books listed below. The contest is simple: answer one of three questions and leave a comment on this posting. The best five combination of essay and comment will win!

Contest Rules:

1. The contest is open to US or Canadian residents with a valid mailing address only. No P.O. Boxes.
2. Applicants must use a valid e-mail address and home or cell number.

Format: Please submit essay responses using the following guidelines (Courier New, 12 pt, double –spaced, 1” margins on all four sides). Word count: 500-1000 words.

Submit response as a .doc or .pdf attachment by midnight on 02/28/09, to info@morningsidewriters.com, Subject: Black History Book Raffle.

Books will be mailed to courtesy of the publisher.

Essay questions:
  • Without citing the recent historical election of President Barack Obama, what significant progress have African Americans made in the last five to ten years in America?
  • Would it be so bad to pass for Hispanic or Caucasian to get a job, accepted to college, or move into an exclusive neighborhood, or reap financial rewards? Have you ever known or do you currently know someone who passes for white or Hispanic without remorse?
  • What does it mean to be black and proud? Does it require historical knowledge, understanding struggle, or skin pigmentation?
* Writers will retain rights to submitted essay.

Available books:
    1. The American Journey of Barack Obama By The Editors of Life Magazine ISBN: 0316045608
    2. Fledgling By Octavia Butler ISBN: 0446696161
    3. Stand the Storm By Breena Clarke ISBN: 0316007056
    4. Red River By Lalita Tademy ISBN: 0446696994
    5. Keep the Faith: A Memoir By Faith Evans ISBN: 0446199508
    6. Say You're One of Them By Uwem Akpan ISBN: 0316113786
    7. The Shack By William Young ISBN: 0964729237
    8. The Bishop's Daughter By Tiffany Warren ISBN: 0446195146

    Books will be mailed to contest winners courtesy of the publisher.

    Good luck!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Seeking Freelancers to Share Office

Seeking three to four additional freelancers, virtual assistants, or small business owners to share an office in Harlem or Morningside Heights.

Only interested in sharing cost for office space. Open to hiring support staff for the office.
Looking for a clean space in a private home or small office with free WiFi, desk/chair, utilities included (or negotiated), and a sanitary bathroom.

Access to a kitchen and appliances, a plus, but not necessary.
If interested in researching information and sharing an eventual space, or if you have a potential space to rent beginning in March or April 2009, please reply with background information or location.