Friday, April 10, 2009

General Wildest Dreams Check-In

I've been continuing my research on different ways that people have leveraged the new media in support of their aspirations. In an earlier post I mentioned how some enterprising authors are growing an audience for their fiction by podcasting, and creating video trailers for, their unpublished novels. As I mentioned, author Scott Sigler has used this method. Another podcasting author named J.C. Hutchins has made even more innovations for promoting his FIRST print book:

"J.C. Hutchins will make his print debut in June 2009 with Personal Effects: Dark Art. Hailed as "the future of storytelling" by CSI creator Anthony E. Zuiker, "compelling" by director Gore Verbinski and "impossible to put down" by Final Destination writer Jeffrey Reddick, this new supernatural thriller series combines the experience of a traditional novel with an Alternate Reality Game." http://jchutchins.net/

"Clues in the novel — and items that come with the novel, such as ID cards and photos — propel readers into an online experience where they become protagonists themselves.

. . . Call the phone numbers: You’ll get a character’s voicemail. Google the characters and institutions in the text: You’ll find real websites. Examine the art and other printed artifacts included inside the cover: If you pay attention, you’ll find more information than the characters themselves discover.

Personal Effects: Dark Art is the ultimate in voyeuristic storytelling, representing a revolutionary step forward in changing the way people interact with novels." http://jchutchins.net/site/personal-effects/

It seems that several of these authors were only able to get agents and their work published AFTER they had built an audience through podcasting their unpublished novels. It's a shrewd strategy.

I've noticed that those who peddle toxic waste among us (such as "ghetto/street literature") are very creative in spreading their poison. Meanwhile, those of us who have better things to offer tend to passively wait for somebody else to make our novel, non-fiction book, film, etc. happen. Those of us who have worthwhile things to offer have to do better than that. We have to be at least as enterprising as the garbage peddlers.

What's going on with you? How are your Wildest Dreams (of any type, not just fitness/health related) coming along?

24 comments:

roslynholcomb said...

The 'traditional' publishing industry is struggling quite a bit in this recession. While the e-publishers are doing quite well and are even growing. So much so that the mainstream publishers are trying to get in. The thing is, the mainstream publishers are still trying to work from the old model. E-book publishers typically pay 35-40% royalties, whereas traditional publishers are still paying 6-8%, and you still have to wait 6 months to a year for your money. E-publishers pay regularly, mine pays every month and by direct deposit.

I'm working on a trailer for my next full-length book which will be coming out in October. You have to be very proactive these days and spread yourself EVERYWHERE. A friend of mine said that you have to make sure that you employ search engine optimization. (Fancy term for making sure that if your name is googled your own website is the first one to come up. That means making sure you place your link EVERYWHERE, and send it to Google and other search engines.) I post on other people's blog, especially as it pertains to the romance reader/writer community. I also make point of posting on sites where black women congregate.

Don't make the mistake of spamming, people generally ignore spam, but if you have something interesting to say people will usually follow-up on your comments. For instance, my Free Lessons are very popular. They serve two purposes; giving advice, but they're also a great promotional device. Also, you have to give people a 'sample' of your work. I have a free short story up on my website. It's as sequel to my bestselling first book, I've also uploaded it to scribd, which is a free file-serving site. About 50 people have downloaded it from there in just a couple of months. Free publicity is worth it's weight in gold. That's fifty people who've seen my work and now know my name and may go on to actually buy my book. I wrote that story 2 years ago. It took a few weeks and it's still working as a free promo.

I'm on all the social networks, I update my blog and website regularly and I maintain a database of readers who communicate with me. It's a lot of work, but I think it's crucial as a e-book writer to maintain contact and have your name out there as much as possible.

Khadija said...

Hello there, Roslyn!

Before I say anything else, THANK YOU for your generosity in sharing your insider observations of the e-publishing gig! You're helping a LOT of aspiring authors. Including me! LOL!

You said, "The 'traditional' publishing industry is struggling quite a bit in this recession."

Yep. I've noticed this. I am not sorry to hear it, considering the way this industry has actively blocked and ghettoized Black writers. I don't shed any tears for traditional publishing, the same way I don't cry over the demise of the newspapers. I believe that both of these industries slit their own throats by serving the public audience very poorly.

You said, "I'm working on a trailer for my next full-length book which will be coming out in October."

I've been looking at a lot of book trailers on various author's websites. It has been eye-opening and exciting. Where do you find people to make a book trailer? Film schools to hire film students?

You said, "You have to be very proactive these days and spread yourself EVERYWHERE." (emphasis added)

THIS is the key. We can't sit back. We have to make things happen ourselves. And quickly. I'm convinced that as the e-marketplace matures, those business entities who are already in will find ways to become new "gatekeepers" and lock other people out. This seems to be the pattern with any and every industry.

You said, "For instance, my Free Lessons are very popular. They serve two purposes; giving advice, but they're also a great promotional device. Also, you have to give people a 'sample' of your work. I have a free short story up on my website. It's as sequel to my bestselling first book, I've also uploaded it to scribd, which is a free file-serving site. About 50 people have downloaded it from there in just a couple of months. Free publicity is worth it's weight in gold."

This is another critical point that folks need to understand. You have to give SOMETHING OF VALUE in order to get.

And it doesn't just apply to your field. I know other attorneys who give free informational lectures about various real-world legal topics (traffic tickets, estate planning) to community groups, churches, etc. There are Black real estate brokers that have bought airtime on local Black talk radio to answer listener's questions. There are real estate people doing free informational podcasts on iTunes. Doing these sorts of free things is a way of bringing yourself to the attention of potential future clients. It's an important aspect of any successful marketing strategy.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

roslynholcomb said...

There's software you can buy for making trailers, but my computer is so old that it won't run it. There are also people who sell trailer making services. I haven't looked into it because I'm watching my budget. I think I might have some links somewhere. If I find them, I'll send you an email.

Fortunately, I have several fans who have offered to make trailers for me. It's not something that I would ask anyone to do. I would never ask anyone to give me a 'hook-up' of that proportion, but since they offered I've gratefully accepted. I also have a couple of fans who provide proofreading services. Usually I give them free copies of my books. I hope to soon be able to pay them, and again, it's not something that I would ask for.

I'm more than happy to give an assist any time I can. Goodness knows plenty of people have helped me. I've always found the publishing community to be very helpful and generous.

Khadija said...

Hello there, Roslyn!

You said, "There's software you can buy for making trailers, but my computer is so old that it won't run it. There are also people who sell trailer making services. I haven't looked into it because I'm watching my budget. I think I might have some links somewhere. If I find them, I'll send you an email."

Thank you so much!

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

thediva said...

I am so happy that you have posted about this topic. I think BW need to get on the bandwagon with how publishing is changing and how it can benefit us.

I have written for several net based publications(non-fiction/tech stuff) -one article was later contracted print publication. Small achievements now, but the beginnings of something larger. I strongly believe that net based options have opened doors for me that would have been much harder to pry open. And it is not at all difficult to educate yourself about how to e-publish, etc. Many of the tech podcasts cover this topic.

Also, e-books have the advantage of catering to narrower target audiences because its not a big publishing house that is reliant on large mainstream numbers. Esp. for BW, if you find a good target market you get loyal readers. A solid smaller market with 35% royalties is a good return I think.

Khadija said...

Hello there, TheDiva!

You said, "I think BW need to get on the bandwagon with how publishing is changing and how it can benefit us."

Yep. We need to get in AND entrenched while things are in a state of flux. And before doors start closing.

You said, "I have written for several net based publications(non-fiction/tech stuff) -one article was later contracted print publication. Small achievements now, but the beginnings of something larger."

As far as I'm concerned, every win is a big win! {raised fist salute}

You said, "And it is not at all difficult to educate yourself about how to e-publish, etc. Many of the tech podcasts cover this topic."

Thanks for mentioning this. I'm on my way back to the iTunes store! LOL!

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

ValeriesWorld said...

My wildest dream is to be a successful writer and I am working on my one of my novels of the Xavian Chronicles as I speak, so that after I have finished writing, I shall be typing it up. Thank you Roslyn for your help and Khadija

Khadija said...

Hello there, ValeriesWorld!

You're welcome! Onward and forward!

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

JaliliMaster said...

I think the reason many of those peddling the 'ghetto lit' were more proactive is because they thought they would have a harder time getting published. Those who ad something of value to share probably had more faith in/relied more on the traditional methods.


I agree on exploring every avenue possible. I know a sista who was invited to write(for free) on an online publication. She was at first hesitant as she wanted to get paid, but I told her it was an opportunity seeing as the site get's ALOT of readers. She took the leap, and today, she had her own followers. People need to realise that the fact that one has to do something for free today doesn't mean that you won't benefit down the line. This is not related to e-media, but I know a sista who baked soem of the est cakes and cookies I've ever had. She was considering starting a business and was hoping that word-of-mouth would help her sell more. I told her that she could try going to a scholl bazaar and selling the pastries at a very low price(lower than what the others there were selling), but she refused, as this meant that she would make a loss. I told her that it was one day, she'd get free publicity, and after tasting her cookies, she'd get alot of business as kids like things that taste sweet. She never listened. Up till today, she is still looking for someone to do free advertising for her(by word of mouth)!

JaliliMaster said...

Sorry Khadija, I think I did a double post.

Khadija said...

Hello there, JaliliMaster!

No problem; I saw that they were identical and deleted one.

You said, "I think the reason many of those peddling the 'ghetto lit' were more proactive is because they thought they would have a harder time getting published. Those who ad something of value to share probably had more faith in/relied more on the traditional methods."

Oh yeah, they knew their "ghetto lit" was trash. Unfortunately, this mess is spreading like weeds and crowding out actual Black fiction. It sickens me every time I go to a bookstore and see this garbage dominating the "Black shelf."

[Whether or not there should even be a separate section for African-American lit; and whether or not having a separate section helps/hurts the sales of Black books are another set of issues.]

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

JaliliMaster said...

"Oh yeah, they knew their "ghetto lit" was trash. Unfortunately, this mess is spreading like weeds and crowding out actual Black fiction. It sickens me every time I go to a bookstore and see this garbage dominating the "Black shelf."





Oooh, yes, I've noticed that. If one goes into any large bookstore, and tries to find some black lit, most of what is on offer is trash!

Khadija said...

Here's an Op Ed about this from a Black author:

Their Eyes Were Reading Smut
New York Times, January 4, 2006
Op-Ed Contributor

By NICK CHILES
Snellville, Ga.

LAST month I happened to go into the Borders Books store at the Stonecrest mall in Lithonia, Ga., about a half-hour from my house here. To my surprise, it had one of the largest collections of books by black authors that I've ever seen outside an independent black bookstore, rows and rows of bookcases. This is the sort of discovery that makes the pulse quicken, evidence of a population I've spent most of my professional life seeking: African-American readers. What a thrill to have so much space in a major chain store devoted to this country's black writers.

With an extra spring in my step, I walked into the "African-American Literature" section - and what I saw there thoroughly embarrassed and disgusted me.

On shelf after shelf, in bookcase after bookcase, all that I could see was lurid book jackets displaying all forms of brown flesh, usually half-naked and in some erotic pose, often accompanied by guns and other symbols of criminal life. I felt as if I was walking into a pornography shop, except in this case the smut is being produced by and for my people, and it is called "literature."

As a black author, I had certainly become familiar with the sexualization and degradation of black fiction. Over the last several years, I had watched the shelves of black bookstores around the country and the tables of street vendors, particularly in New York City, become overrun with novels that seemed to appeal exclusively to our most prurient natures - as if these nasty books were pairing off back in the stockrooms like little paperback rabbits and churning out even more graphic offspring that make Ralph Ellison books cringe into a dusty corner.

Early last year I walked into a B. Dalton bookstore in a New Jersey mall where the manager had always proudly told me how well my books were selling. This time, I was introduced to a new manager who was just as proud to show me an enhanced black books section teeming with this new black erotica. I've also noticed much more of this oversexed genre in Barnes & Noble bookstores over the past few months, although it's harder to see there since the chain doesn't appear to have separate black fiction sections.

But up until that visit to Borders in Lithonia, I had thought this mostly a phenomenon of the black retail world, where the black bookstore owners and street vendors say they have to stock what sells, and increasingly what sells are stories that glorify and glamorize black criminals. The genre has been described by different names; "ghetto fiction" and "street lit" are two I've heard most often. Apparently, what we are now seeing is the crossover of this genre to mainstream bookstores.

But the placard above this section of Borders in Lithonia didn't say "Street Lit," it said "African-American Literature." We were all represented under that placard, the whole community of black authors - from me to Terry McMillan and Toni Morrison, from Yolanda Joe and Benilde Little to Edward P. Jones and Kuwana Haulsey - surrounded and swallowed whole on the shelves by an overwhelming wave of titles and jackets that I wouldn't want my 13-year-old son to see: "Hustlin' Backwards." "Legit Baller." "A Hustler's Wife." "Chocolate Flava."

I've heard defenders say that the main buyers of these books, young black women, have simply found something that speaks to them, and that it's great that they're reading something. I'd agree if these books were a starting point, and that readers ultimately turned to works inspired by the best that's in us, not the worst.

But we're not seeing evidence of that. On Essence magazine's list of best sellers at black bookstores, for example, authors of street lit now dominate, driving out serious writers. Under the heading "African-American Literature," what's available is almost exclusively pornography for black women.

As I stood there in Borders, I had two sensations: I was ashamed and mortified to see my books sitting on the same shelves as these titles; and secondly, as someone who makes a living as a writer I felt I had no way to compete with these purveyors of crassness.

That leaves me wondering where we - writers, publishers, readers, the black community - go from here. Is street fiction some passing fad, or does it represent our future? It's depressing that this noble profession, one that I aspired to as a child from the moment I first cracked open James Baldwin and Gabriel García Márquez about 30 years ago, has been reduced by the greed of the publishing industry and the ways of the American marketplace to a tasteless collection of pornography.

I realize that publishing is a business, but publishers also have a responsibility to balance street lit with more quality writing. After all, how are we going to explain ourselves to the next generation of writers and readers who will wonder why they have so little to read of import and value produced in the early 21st century, why their founts of inspiration are so parched?

At times, I push myself away from the computer in anger. I don't want to compete with "Legit Baller." But then I come across something like "The Known World" by Edward P. Jones and again I am inspired.

But I must say that I retain very little of the hope and excitement and enthusiasm that I had when my first book was published eight years ago. I feel defeated, disrespected and troubled about the future of my community and my little subsection of this carnivorous, unforgiving industry.


"Nick Chiles, the editor in chief of Odyssey Couleur magazine, is the co-author, with Denene Millner, of 'A Love Story.'"

Peace and blessings.

Khadija said...

Then there's this madness, as reported by the New York Times:

February 14, 2006

Street Lit With Publishing Cred: From Prison to a Four-Book Deal

By COREY KILGANNON

On a recent Saturday night, Dewitt Gilmore, 41, stepped onto an idling bus waiting to make the trip from Columbus Circle in Manhattan to the Groveland Correctional Facility in Sonyea, N.Y., near the Canadian border. Dressed in a flashy warm-up suit, he squeezed down the aisle past women and young children clutching pillows for the overnight trip.

Mr. Gilmore, a writer who goes by the pen name Relentless Aaron, was there to sell books.

"For those of you who don't know me — where you're going, I was there for seven years," he told the crowd. "A lot of you have been buying my books for your husbands and for yourselves. I started here selling my books out of my knapsack, and now I have a six-figure deal with St. Martin's Press."

After several passengers handed him money for books, Mr. Gilmore pulled a credit card swipe machine out of his jacket and added with a grin, "And the brother also accepts all major credit cards."

Mr. Gilmore first began showing up on the prison buses two years ago, arriving by subway, alone and unknown. Now he arrives announced by the bold graphics on his sport utility vehicle — "Relentless Aaron, Father of Urban Fiction" — flanked by two female assistants carrying piles of product: his self-published paperbacks, selling for $10 apiece.

Mr. Gilmore's books fall into a growing genre known as street lit. With titles like "Push," "Topless" and "Platinum Dolls," they are saturated with sex, violence, gangsters and drug dealers and take place in prison and on the mean streets of New York City. He began writing them while serving a sentence for check-cashing fraud in federal prison in New Jersey. When he was released in 2003, he walked out with 30 completed manuscripts. So far, he has had about a dozen printed. He aggressively markets and distributes them on the buses to prison, sidewalks, the Internet and in small bookstores.

And as he told the bus passengers, he signed a four-book contract with St. Martin's for a sum in "the low six figures," said Monique Patterson, a senior editor there. Ms. Patterson said the decision to sign Mr. Gilmore was not only a recognition of his proven ability as a storyteller and potential as a stylist, but also an indication of large publishing houses' surging interest in street lit.

"We're just scratching the surface now," she said. "The publishing world is still starting to see the potential beyond the street, which is going to keep getting stronger."

Ms. Patterson said she had first seen Mr. Gilmore's books for sale on sidewalk tables in Brooklyn, where she lives. Then last June, George Witte, editor in chief at St. Martin's met Mr. Gilmore at the Book Expo America conference in Manhattan, where Mr. Gilmore had taken a booth.

Mr. Gilmore's prison pedigree gives him a street credibility that is almost as vital as his written word, Ms. Patterson said. Readers of the genre want to feel that the author is drawing upon his own hard-knock experience as grist for his books.

"He's really writing about what he's been through," she said. "It's similar to the way hip-hop appealed to a mainstream audience."

Mr. Gilmore's first book for St. Martin's, "Extramarital Affairs," is scheduled to come out this year, Ms. Patterson said. Mr. Gilmore called it "a story about a married couple addicted to sex" who get caught up in a murder. It was written after his release from prison.

Mr. Gilmore's books are filled with graphic descriptions, crude language and ghetto slang. The plots are gripping and often unfold in a real-life cityscape, often in New York's rougher neighborhoods. A character in Harlem, for example, may frequent real-life spots like Perk's or Sylvia's or the Lenox Lounge, a bar described in Mr. Gilmore's first printed novel, "Push," as a place where "you could get your drink on, your swerve on, and always your mack on."

Mr. Gilmore, who grew up in Mount Vernon, N.Y., and now lives in New Rochelle, took his pen name from his relentless drive and from his baseball hero, Hank Aaron. (And it's good for primacy in alphabetical lists, he added.) When he was growing up, his father ran a local strip club and from adolescence onward, Mr. Gilmore said, he hung around the club and got to know customers ranging from street toughs to celebrities and star athletes. Eventually, he began enjoying the nightlife in Harlem and other neighborhoods in the city.

In 1986, after a woman in Westchester died from cyanide-laced Tylenol, Mr. Gilmore admitted to writing a letter to authorities in an attempt to extort $2 million by threatening to put poison in Tylenol capsules. In exchange for a two-year jail sentence, he pleaded guilty to charges of threatening to tamper with consumer products. He now says the letter was part of a silly fantasy ("My first attempt at writing fiction"). In 1996, facing charges for an elaborate check-cashing scheme, he pleaded guilty. He was sent to prison again, serving most of his time at Fort Dix.

He had no experience writing fiction, he said, but plagued by boredom and frustrated by having squandered his creativity on illegal activity, he began buying notebooks from the prison commissary and scribbling stories based upon his adventures, his prose shaped by the rough lifestyle and language of the cellblock.

Whether in the television room, in the yard or lying on his bunk, he said, "I just used every spare moment writing." After a year of false starts, he finished his first book, "Topless," set in a strip club and peopled with the characters he remembered from his father's club in Mount Vernon.

In "Rappers 'R in Danger," the main character, Ringo, an up-and-coming rapper, becomes entangled with a childhood friend who is now a ruthless hoodlum.

In "Platinum Dolls," Stew Gregory is an entrepreneur with an interactive pornography Web site. He faces a dilemma when his porn-star employees are murdered, one by one: as the women die, business keeps improving.

"For me, jail was like spending seven years in a writer's studio," Mr. Gilmore said. "Most guys in prison complain that time drags by. But there weren't enough hours in the day for me."

He kept to himself and was ostracized and taunted for being a bookworm, he said. Early on, he got into fights, which, he said, led to several stints in solitary confinement. "Platinum Dolls" and "Push" were written there, in an 8-by-4-foot cell, he said.

"Nothing could match solitary for writing," he said. "You couldn't use pens in there, so some of the guards who respected my discipline and my writing would pass me pencils." Eventually he could knock off a book in two weeks, he said.

In time, Mr. Gilmore said, he began sharing his written stories with inmates, and with guards who would borrow them and show friends on the outside.

Fellow inmates constantly urged him to have his books printed, and once he got out, Mr. Gilmore contracted with a small New Jersey company to print 50 copies of "Push." He said he sold them all in a day on 125th Street in Harlem and ordered 300 more, which he then sold in less than a week. Then he ordered a printing of 20,000. Since then, he has had 10 other manuscripts printed.

Mr. Gilmore says he has sold 200,000 books so far and stresses that they are typically shared among several readers, especially copies read by prisoners. His literary agent, Ian Kleinert, called Mr. Gilmore "a guerrilla marketer of his books." "He's a machine," Mr. Kleinert said. "He brings amazing street credibility to his work and in an urban market, that kind of credibility is crucial."

"He keeps his stories real and doesn't hold nothing back when he tells them," said LaToya Smith, 25, who was sitting in the Rikers Island visitors' center recently reading "Platinum Dolls," which she bought at a sidewalk stand in Jamaica, Queens. "It's hard to stop reading."

Mr. Gilmore says he has written only two books since his release. As writers' problems go, he has a distinctive one: Not being in prison.

"It's true, there are too many distractions on the outside," he said. "Sometimes I have to lock myself in a hotel room with no phone or TV. Sometimes I just get in my truck and drive to a deserted place for a while. But I'll never have it as good as prison again. For writing, anyway."


Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Aphrodite said...

Thank you Roslyn for all those tips! I really appreciate you sharing.


I have never liked urban lit, but I know people who are obsessed with it. I can believe, but want to find it hard to believe that it is as dominate as the articles suggest.



Re: wildest dreams


The past few weeks have been hard yet good. I had some major curveballs thrown my way and I handled them all exceptionally well thanks to this blog and the advice and tips contained therein.

So again, :) I must thank you Khadija for sharing your knowledge and skills. I am really grateful for it/them and they have helped.



Example number 1:

The house fiasco and it is a fiasco full of shenanigans, hijinks, and rip roaring tomfoolery. LOL But I will be brief.



This guy who may be/may not be [LOL] the owner kept trying to bully me into prequalifying for a loan with this mortgage broker who works for/with him and yet they would never tell me the asking price for the house.

Then we had a meeting to look at the house two sundays ago and I walk to the house and wait, and wait, and wait. The meeting was at 11:30am. I walk home at 12:00 noon to call him, my mom says he called at 11:15am and I call him back. Why does this man pick up the phone and sounds like he is still in bed??

He tells me that he called at 11 and that no one knew where I was. Duh? He says that he lives far and didn't want to drive there if I wasn't going to be there. He then asks if we could meet later today or the next day... He even asked about my schedule and if I could meet him during the week sometime.


I am paraphrasing the story, but the thing is in the past I would have internalized this and gotten really upset and been confused, but after coming to this blog I stood my ground by:


1. refusing to be pressured into giving this nut any of my info to 'prequalify' me for anything.


2. and not allowing him to yank my chain any further in regards to my time.


Normally I would have deferred and let the other person take control, but this time I was clear, firm, and refused to give up my power.





Example # 2 and the best one:

This past week I had a department head at my grad school go completely monkeynuts on me. He was assigned by the dean of the dept no less, to help me with an issue and made a judgement call to wipe his hands of me entirely forcing me into a position that jeopardized my ability to complete the grad program.


I have since transferred to a new school within 3 days (is that a record?), and I pray I made the right decision. They worked with me and waived almost all of the requirements i.e. references, some test scores etc. I guess I was looking mad crazy upset, but they were really kind and were stunned at what happened.


But the tips I have learned on this blog have been invaluable in this situation! Khadija you are a gem!

The dept head and his little henchman were so unprofessional and out of pocket it was insane. I was mad for about a day, but you wrote a blog post a while back that stated whenever an institution is acting crazy look at the policies. Which I did and found at least two violations there and two violations from their accrediting association.


I have been making notes, researching, and plan to file as many complaints as possible once my new school has all they need from this one so I won't have to deal with retaliation.


Had this happened before I read your blog I would have been upset and felt powerless and just moved on, but I am determined to stand up for myself and I have some tools/skills to do it with.

Khadija said...

Hello there, Aphrodite!

You said, "I have never liked urban lit, but I know people who are obsessed with it. I can believe, but want to find it hard to believe that it is as dominate as the articles suggest."

This is a replay of hip-hop and "urban movies" (Tyler Perry's crap, etc.). Wherever weeds are tolerated, they always take over and crowd out the flowers. Soon, this "street lit" will become THE definition of Black literature.

You said, "The past few weeks have been hard yet good. I had some major curveballs thrown my way and I handled them all exceptionally well thanks to this blog and the advice and tips contained therein.

So again, :) I must thank you Khadija for sharing your knowledge and skills. I am really grateful for it/them and they have helped."


You're welcome, and THANK YOU for sharing that! Like everybody else, I have my own challenges that I'm dealing with. I would like to feel like my efforts (at least somewhere) are actually making a positive difference. It does my heart good to hear that these blog conversations have been helpful. This is what I hoped and prayed for when I started.

You said, "The dept head and his little henchman were so unprofessional and out of pocket it was insane. I was mad for about a day, but you wrote a blog post a while back that stated whenever an institution is acting crazy look at the policies. Which I did and found at least two violations there and two violations from their accrediting association.

I have been making notes, researching, and plan to file as many complaints as possible once my new school has all they need from this one so I won't have to deal with retaliation.

Had this happened before I read your blog I would have been upset and felt powerless and just moved on, but I am determined to stand up for myself and I have some tools/skills to do it with."


Alhamdulilah! [Praise God!] I know how exhausting it is dealing with institutionalized craziness. But I'm so happy to hear about how you're handling this. This was the point of that particular blog post (Table Talk for Activists, Part 2: Make the Opponent Follow Their Own Rules):

1-To give people the analytical tools they need to protect themselves; and

2-To get some justice in general.

I praise God that you had the presence of mind to ESCAPE (which is the 1st priority). And I'm also thankful that you're gathering information to put these nuts in check (after you're safely done with dealing with them).

As you're doing, following up on checking institutional predators is very important. Your actions could ultimately prevent these nuts from harming any unsuspecting student that comes behind you.

Protecting the public from being harmed by institutional predators is the very purpose of accreditation boards, professional disciplinary boards, etc. By taking action, you are potentially saving the academic career of a sister who comes behind you, but lacks your courage and skills! May God bless you!

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Sister Seeking/Miriam/MaryAnn said...

Salaam'Alaikum Khadija!

: )

Doing GREAT! Alhamdillah!

My walking buddy and I are now doing the woman's wellness exam and breast exam.

I've always wanted to walk the local breast cancer fundraising marathon. So, I'm looking into the how of doing that. My bio mother passed away from breast cancer, and she wanted to do it, but died before she could.

"Like everybody else, I have my own challenges that I'm dealing with. I would like to feel like my efforts (at least somewhere) are actually making a positive difference. It does my heart good to hear that these blog conversations have been helpful. This is what I hoped and prayed for when I started."

I personally think you have gone above and beyond Khadija! May Allah s.w.t. bless you, and grant you the best in the dunya and akhirah.-Ameen I'm grateful that be such as yourself with knowledge, wisdom, and understanding had enough compassion, and kindness to share that wisdom in the form a life strategy. You're doing a great job! I've referred several bw to your blog and also Rev.Lisa. Thanks for caring enough, because you don't half to share.

Salaam'Alaikum

Khadija said...

Wa Alaikum As Salaam, SisterSeeking/Miriam!

Thank you so much for your kind words and prayers on my behalf. I truly appreciate it. I'm still working on escaping my public service job and the law biz altogether. I originally went into public service (as opposed to getting PAID) because I wanted "to help my people."

Well, as I have mentioned periodically, that was a disastrous, life-damaging decision on my part when I finished law school. I DON'T recommend it for younger BW. At all. Instead, I recommend that BW follow their dreams wherever they take them. This makes for a much higher quality of life in the long run.

Anyhoo...while I get my own life back, I still want to help other BW escape the demonic entrapment & diminished lives that so many of us are caught up in. It's pleasing to know that my efforts here have been helpful.

You said, "My walking buddy and I are now doing the woman's wellness exam and breast exam.

I've always wanted to walk the local breast cancer fundraising marathon. So, I'm looking into the how of doing that. My bio mother passed away from breast cancer, and she wanted to do it, but died before she could."


I'm so sorry for your loss. It's great that you and your friend are getting involved in the fight against breast cancer. I've toyed with the idea of training for one of the local AIDS marathons, but I'm training myself OUT of the knee-jerk "I want to be helpful" response. Until I escape, I have to focus my time and efforts on ME and getting myself totally free.

Wa Salaam.

JaliliMaster said...

"I'm so sorry for your loss. It's great that you and your friend are getting involved in the fight against breast cancer. I've toyed with the idea of training for one of the local AIDS marathons, but I'm training myself OUT of the knee-jerk "I want to be helpful" response. Until I escape, I have to focus my time and efforts on ME and getting myself totally free."




This also has positive effect on ones health. Not just the running the marathon part, but training as well.(I wouldn't advise anyone to run any marathon without undergoing a good amount of training).

JJ said...

I have not had much of a chance to travel in my adult life. I always felt it was taking much-needed money away from the household. That sounds reasonable, but I'm going to tell the truth here: not ever travelling was an extension of the grave digger mentality that was ingrained and validated in me all through my twenties.

So I've done a lot of work thru this blog and Lisa's to excise those degrading roots that ran deep in me.

This week, Lord willing, I will be travelling.

I asked for, and received, an opportunity to travel to Geneva to be an observer and possible presenter at the UN Durban Review Conference on Racism.

I wish to learn as much as I can at the international level, and represent myself as professionally as possible.

I have been studying protocol and planning my wardrobe. "Flawless" has been indespensible.

If anyone has had experience with the United Nations, please share your advice.

The US, Canada, Israel and possible Australia will be not attending due to statements made at the original conference, so I am going without the benefit of my country's heads of state being present.

Nonetheless, this will still be a valuable experience on a most important issue.

I appreciate all the truth bombs that blew the scale off my eyes in time for me to envision a new life for myself- complete with seizing hold of opportunities and seeing myself as completely worthy of them.

Keep blowin' us up, Khadija!

JJ

tasha212 said...

Khadija,

I have long been disturbed by the popularity of urban fiction. If you go to the AfAm Fiction section these days that's all you see. Since childhood, I have been an avid reader of African American fiction and my reading is wide and varied. I have read everything from Richard Wright to Zane. I believe that there needs to be a distinction made between this garbage and REAL literature. Some authors who have been included in this genre have made an effort to distinguish themselves from this mess. For example, eventhough Sister Souljah's book "The Coldest Winter Ever" has been credited for rejuvenating the urban lit genre, when she came out with her latest novel "Midnight" she made an effort in several interviews to say point-blank that she did not want to be considered an urban fiction writer. She said that she did not wish to have her work "ghettoized" in any way. And her books are different. They are well-written, complex, and always have an uplifting, life-changing message. I think that many people read TCWE and saw how successful it was and decided to come out with copycat versions of it. Except their stories are no where near as well-written or positive and uplifing as TCWE was. Many people who read urban lit don't read anything else, and most of the stuff is garbage that glorifies the ghetto lifestyle. I hope it is a passing fad.

As far my widest dreams, I am pursuing my graduate degree in speech-language pathology. I, like you went to law school, except I didn't finish. I HATED law school. So, I dropped out and decided to do something else. I realized that I wanted a career that allowed me to help others, but also have the opportunity to make money and have many options. Frankly, I'm tired of being broke. One of my best girlfriends just graduated from law school and can't find a legal job. She, like most law students who are not in the top 10-15% of the class, doesn't have as many high-paying options. So, I'm in graduate school right now and should finish in another year. I'm spending time currently studying for the PRAXIS II Exam in Speech Pathology that I must pass in order to become fully licensed and certified. I plan to pass it the first time I take it, which will be in September. I want to pass it before I graduate. I also plan on moving to NYC after I graduate and thus have began looking into the requirements for licensure in that state. Over the next year, I will be working hard to accomplish these goals, as this is PART of my wildest dreams.

On the new media front, I want to take my podcast to another level. My goal is maybe become syndicated and expand the reach and scope of the podcast. I like interviewing, as well as the background work that goes into putting a podcast together, such as formulating interview questions, selecting interviewees and researching them, audio production, and writing the intro and outro scripts. I am interested in becoming a journalist as well as a published writer. But I want to remain independent. Though I am in school for a totally unrelated field, my wildest dreams lie in the realm of the creative, like writing, graphic design, and media/entertainment. I plan to use the speech pathology job and salary as a window to other things. I don't plan on being one of those who are broke until they make it big as a writer, etc. I have many things that I plan to be involved in.

You have said that you are planning on getting out of the legal field. What are you planning on doing? I'm just curious because I think others who may feel trapped into their career choice may want to know what you're doing and how you plan on reclaiming your life.

Peace and Solidarity,

Tasha

Khadija said...

Hello there, JJ!

You said, "I have not had much of a chance to travel in my adult life. I always felt it was taking much-needed money away from the household. That sounds reasonable, but I'm going to tell the truth here: not ever travelling was an extension of the grave digger mentality that was ingrained and validated in me all through my twenties.

So I've done a lot of work thru this blog and Lisa's to excise those degrading roots that ran deep in me."
I'm working on this issue too. I'm quite familiar with the Responsible Person Trickbag of cheating oneself out of various pleasures out of a misguided sense of being "responsible."

I'm training myself to be MUCH LESS responsible for, or responsive to, OTHER PEOPLE'S stuff. It's MY time to GET MINE. One of my best friends makes me laugh when she talks about BW trying to so hard to be "prudent" and "frugal" that they aren't even willing to buy a pair of NICE panties for themselves!You said, "This week, Lord willing, I will be travelling.

I asked for, and received, an opportunity to travel to Geneva to be an observer and possible presenter at the UN Durban Review Conference on Racism."
YES!YES!YES! {Praise God Happy Dance in Effect}You said, "I wish to learn as much as I can at the international level, and represent myself as professionally as possible.

I have been studying protocol and planning my wardrobe. "Flawless" has been indespensible."
YES! {DEEP martial arts bow}

You said, ...I appreciate all the truth bombs that blew the scale off my eyes in time for me to envision a new life for myself- complete with seizing hold of opportunities and seeing myself as completely worthy of them."{more happy dancing} THANK YOU for sharing this---it does my heart good!___________________

Hello there, Tasha!

You said, "I think that many people read TCWE and saw how successful it was and decided to come out with copycat versions of it. Except their stories are no where near as well-written or positive and uplifing as TCWE was. Many people who read urban lit don't read anything else, and most of the stuff is garbage that glorifies the ghetto lifestyle. I hope it is a passing fad."Oh no, unfortunately it's not a fad. It's a replay of what happened with hip-hop versus musical talent (such as the ability to sing and/or play instruments). Hip-hop has become the definition of, and replaced, real Black music. This "street lit" crap is going to become the definition of, and completely replace, Black literature.

I've never read Sister Souljah's work. I'm annoyed with her for popularizing this trend in the first place. I'm not surprised that now she wants to distance herself from the crap that she helped spawn.

Let me put it like this: How does she claim to be separate from this mess when her stage/pen name is the deliberately grammatically incorrect ghetto-ism of "Sister Souljah"?

You said, "One of my best girlfriends just graduated from law school and can't find a legal job."I'm sorry to hear that. The conversation to the "If You're Not on One of These Roads" post went into great detail about the various reasons why Black lawyers generally have great difficulty making money in the law biz. It's not a pretty picture.

You said, "Though I am in school for a totally unrelated field, my wildest dreams lie in the realm of the creative, like writing, graphic design, and media/entertainment. I plan to use the speech pathology job and salary as a window to other things. I don't plan on being one of those who are broke until they make it big as a writer, etc. I have many things that I plan to be involved in."I believe that this is the wisest approach. A business author that I respect (pen-)named Michael Masterson has noted that this is the safest approach. I've also watched White coworkers use this method of using a "good job" as a platform from which to pursue their aspirations. And then, once one's dream pursuits generate enough money, one can comfortably quit the job.

This is what I'm doing. I'm NOT for that "starving artist" mess.

You said, "You have said that you are planning on getting out of the legal field. What are you planning on doing? I'm just curious because I think others who may feel trapped into their career choice may want to know what you're doing and how you plan on reclaiming your life."I'm building a side business that will generate enough money for me to ultimately quit my job. I'm creating as many sources of PASSIVE income as possible. [I'm already a landlord, and the business I'm working on will generate another source of passive income.]

This will make it possible for me to devote large chunks of time (instead of "stolen moments" here and there) to things I'm actually interested in such as:

(1) Writing novels, plays and screenplays (I wanna be like Pearl Cleage and Paddy Chayefsky--LOL!).

(2) Art.

[Khadija's backstory for those who are curious:

A thousand years ago, I was an Art major in high school. [My typical high school dilemma was "Should I buy school supplies or art supplies? I think I'll buy art supplies. Watercolors look look so light and airy, I think I'll try that!" LOL!]

I had originally wanted to go to the School of the Art Institute for college, but my father correctly pointed out that "the suits" (business executives, lawyers, etc.) ultimately control all creative endeavors. And that it's better to become "a suit" so you can have more control over your own fate as a creative person.

And so I went to another university. While I was at college, I got sidetracked by the "I Want to Help My People" virus. Among other activities in college, I volunteered for the local crisis hotline. And so began an almost 20-year detour away from what I had originally wanted to do.]

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

JaliliMaster said...

"I've never read Sister Souljah's work. I'm annoyed with her for popularizing this trend in the first place. I'm not surprised that now she wants to distance herself from the crap that she helped spawn.

Let me put it like this: How does she claim to be separate from this mess when her stage/pen name is the deliberately grammatically incorrect ghetto-ism of "Sister Souljah"?"




This is pretty much also my opinino regarding Sister Souljah. Don't open a can of worms then complain when the worms overtake you!

tasha212 said...

Khadija said

"I've never read Sister Souljah's work. I'm annoyed with her for popularizing this trend in the first place. I'm not surprised that now she wants to distance herself from the crap that she helped spawn.

Let me put it like this: How does she claim to be separate from this mess when her stage/pen name is the deliberately grammatically incorrect ghetto-ism of "Sister Souljah"?"

There is a meaning behind her name. She used to talk about it all the time back in the day. "Soul" is the essence of all things and "Jah" is another name for God. A person fighting for the essence of God.

Truthfully, when she wrote TCWE, I don't think that she or anyone else anticipated what would happen, just like I think that no one anticipated what would happen with hip hop. I think that one must also consider that she came from the ghetto and that was the audience she had in mind when she wrote the book, something that would reach people where they were and try to bring them up from there. But we can agree to disagree on that. I think that her books are great, but the by-product has not been so great, in terms of it spawning an industry where garbage is being advertised as literature. Just like in the beginning of hip-hop there were alot of positive artists and songs, but now most of it is garbage.

Peace and solidarity,

Tasha