Sunday, December 24, 2006

December 24, 2006: Happy Holidays to You From the Bahamas!

The announcement that I spend Christmas in the Bahamas is generally followed by a cavalcade of folks hatin' on a sistah. Yes, as I look out the window, I see palm trees swaying in a gentle breeze. I've traded in my winter coat for a deliciously brief --but not obscene -- sundress. Last night, I got re-acquainted with my friends Bacardi Anejo and Coke at a house party. So, on the surface, it seems like I've got it made in the shade.

However, I tell folks please, don't envy me. The holidays are the holidays. And you know what I mean. Small wonder that more Swedes tend to kill themselves during the holidays than at any other time throughout the year. Just one of those useless factoids you learn in college. Just how you go home to your folks and get grilled, trust me, the same thing happens to me. Only it's warmer here. My relatives still expect me to bring home "a nice boy" and give me "The Face" when I arrive empty-handed. I keep getting asked, "So Wendy, is this 'The Year.'" I know they don't mean The Year of Living Dangerously. Instinctively, I know they're asking if the new year is the year that I'd actually settle down. I'm getting it especially now that I turn forty in three days. Aunts tend to say, "Gyal, don't eat too much peas and rice. Man don't like woman who too fat." My mother tends to supervise the installation ofanything electronic that I bring home, not letting the fact that she is the least technical person on the planet to get in the way.

I say this to say that "The Family Coakley"and "The Family Thompson" is more or no less dysfunctional than The Family Stone, one of my recent favorite Christmas movies. The older I get, the more I come to love and appreciate my family's quirks and well-meaning comments. Because the truth of the matter is, I am unmarried. I do weigh more than I would like to. Invariably (as much as I hate to admit it sometimes), I do get something valuable out of my mother's seemingly endless critiques. And I'm sure if I died in the house, someone in my large-ass family would find me and mourn me. I don't really get that in America. America can be very big and sometimes rather impersonal for a single Black female.

So, as you guys make your way home for the holidays, believe me when I say that I know that, geography aside, your relatives are going to tax your patience. They're going to make you want to reach for that extra glass of hooch. But think, as I am now, of my friend Catherine, who lives in Denver, was in D.C. visiting, and, because of the blizzard, was only able to make it home yesterday. And love your family. Appreciate them. Because they're probably the only people with whom you can be your true, unguarded selves ... whether you want to be or not!

Merry Christmas. Happy Hanakkuh. Happy Kwanzaa. What ever you celebrate. Much love to you all.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

December 19, 2006: Film Rights to "What You Won't Do for Love" Optioned

Being born on December 27, I've always been sensitive about getting my birthday gifts, along with those for Christmas. But those days are over, folks! Just I just got the best Christmas-slash-fortieth-birthday present ever.

Rainy Friday Films, Inc. of Chicago has optioned the film rights to What You Won’t Do For Love, my second child! As they say in Publishers Marketplace and Publishers Lunch, I stuck “a nice deal” with Detra D. Thibodeaux, Rainy Friday Films' President and CEO, to make the book into a cable television movie. Child, God is good -- all the time.

To say that I'm ecstatic isn't the word. This whole experience is clearly a case of luck being when opportunity meets preparation. You all know I've been going through some seismic career shifts. Here are the facts. Kensington Books, my publisher at the time, had decided to not offer me another book deal. Additionally, though Book Expo America (BEA) was held in D.C., and I'm a local author, my publisher decided not to have me sign in the Author's Pavilion, which would've provided invaluable visibility. Nonetheless, I attended BEA at my expense and took in many of the interesting events that were going on throughout the conference. One such event was a rather interesting luncheon featuring TV anchor Lynn Sher, former New York Times theater critic Frank Rich, and political pundits Arianna Huffington, Pat Buchanan, and Andrew Sullivan. It just so happened that I took the seat next to Ms. Thibodeaux at that luncheon. We got to talking, and the rest, as they say, is history.

I am very hopeful at this point in my life as a writer. I do pray to see Chaney and Devin come to life. I also believe that this is just the beginning. It just goes to show the veracity of something JadeAlex, one of the commenters on Blogging in Black offered in response to my posting this month:

We are formidable and persistent. Our future is bright. This is a great time to be a writer!


Thursday, December 14, 2006

December 14, 2006: Black Unity, the Cultural Mulatto, and Jamaican Lite

Quite the interesting week we’ve had as a people! First of all, there was that Wall Street Journal article Dividing Lines: Why Book Industry Sees the World Split Still by Race, in which the author, Jeffrey A.Trachtenberg, raised the issue of whether or not the last bastion of racial segregation – bookshelves – would forever limit our earning potential as writers. I wasn’t even aware that we folks rated with the WSJ. Then, of course, there was John Ridley’s December Esquire magazine piece, The Manifesto of Ascendancy for the Modern American Nigger, that literally left me with my mouth hanging open in complete surprise. As I head to The Bahamas to spend the holidays with my family, I begin to extrapolate the themes raised in the two articles (i.e., stunted potential, black unity or the lack thereof, positive versus negative representations of us as a people, etc.) into my own life as a writer.

As you know, I’m famously of West Indian descent. I think it’s the law that you must be if you’re black and born in Brooklyn! My Bahamian parents moved to New York, had my sister and I, and, craving warmth, the beach, and possibly an endless supply of rum drinks, did the reverse migration thing and headed back to Nassau. Thus began my life as a cultural mulatto, straddling two worlds. When I moved back to the States – this time across the Hudson to Jersey – I was subject to some of the dumbest questions people could ask about a country that’s only a ninety-minute plane ride from Miami. Here’s a sample: “Do you wear grass skirts?” “You’ve actually been on a plane?” and my personal favorite, “Say something native.” Back in Nassau, I’d be accused of being too American, especially about how I “tawked” about my “dawg.” Nonetheless, as much as I do love America, the Bahamas is my ancestral home… the facilitator of my Muse. This is why multicultural characters predominate in my fiction. Unfortunately, this warrants me very little support from my fellow Bahamians.

You can read the rest at my December 14, 2006 posting at Blogging in Black.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

December 5, 2006: What You Won't Do For Love in Mass Market Paperback TODAY!

Hey, y'all.

Just a shorty to kvell, which my Jewish friends tell me means to swell with pride. My second baby, What You Won't Do For Love, hits the stores today in mass market paperback. Sure, that cuts my royalties practically in half, but if all of you reading this go out and purchase a copy, then I'll be able to make the shortfall up in volume.

How's that for refreshingly honest? :-) Seriously, thanks for the love and support over the years. I sure do appreciate it.

More to follow...

Friday, December 01, 2006

December 1, 2006: NaNoWriMo - I WON!

Hey, my peoples!

I've resurfaced, after having much of the month of November on lock down, trying to finish my NaNoWriMo novel.

It was hard as all get out, and I'm sick as a dawg (a cold), but I did it. I hit 50,000 words about ten days before the end of the competition. I could've uploaded the novel and gotten credit for having written the 50 grand, but I wanted to finish. I started to get scared, though, that something would happen (just 'cause you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not after you), with computer crashes, cable service outtages, etc. So, on November 27, I uploaded the novel to the National Novel Writing Month website and won with a total of 73,652 words.

I was stoked, but for me the goal was not just to write 50,000, but to finish. Finish, I did on November 29 at 9:07 pm. I was hacking, and sneezing, and unable to breathe properly, but I did it!

I am very pleased with myself ("No shit!" I can hear you say). To finish a novel of that size in a month was just crazy! I was telling my friend, author Karyn Langhorne, who also won the competition, I have no excuse now to not get peddle to the metal and bring all of those ideas that I have to fruition.

My only regret is that I couldn't have fulfilled my promise to blog every day. If I was serious about my promise to eat a bug if I hadn't blogged daily, I guess I'd be having an interesting dinner this evening. But I figured, one challenge at a time. And finishing the novel was the more serious one. I'm off the hook. No mucking stables, or cleaing kitty litter boxes, or dog sitting, or watching small children.

Thank you, Lord! For everything...