Monday, December 17, 2007

2007: A Rebuilding Year

“Rebuilding year.”

Here in D.C., you hear that a lot. Nobody wants the Washington Redskins to make the Playoffs more than I do, but over the years, I’ve learned my lesson. Once a team blows a whole season, the coach usually attributes the whole debacle to the team having a “rebuilding year.” Last month’s tragic death of Sean Taylor aside, I imagine that the “rebuilding year” will be the old standby once the Super Bowl becomes, again, the unattained goal for the Skins.

I can relate to the Skins this year. 2007 has been my rebuilding year. I prefer “rebuilding year” to “annus horribilis.” This was the year that the writing career began to feel like slogging through mud. This year, rejections rained down on The Kid – that would be me – like dollars that Floyd Mayweather throws up in the club. And we know how Floyd can make it rain. It’s quite humbling when, as an author who’s sold a respectable number of books, I still get rejections from editors who don’t even have the common courtesy to spell my name right, or who put their names on rejection letters written by their lower paid minions, on whom I’ve been fobbed.

This year, I parted ways with my management, beginning the long hard road to finding a new literary agent. And you all know how much fun that can be. It amazes me that some agents can’t even be bothered to lick the SASE that they’ve insisted you enclose, once they’ve decided not to represent you. Apparently, some authors aren’t even worth the saliva needed to seal an envelope.

This year, I’ve begun to wonder if being a writer is worth dealing with the business of publishing. The aptly named business end of the industry is hard, cold, devoid of any imagination, which is weird, considering that the fruits of our imagination prime the pump. Case in point. I have a friend who’s an exceedingly talented author. I mean, the brothah’s bottom-of-the-ocean deep. His use of prose and mastery of the English language are second to none. He quotes German philosophers in his jacket copy to button up his point. This brothah says he’s done with the industry, which couldn’t be any sadder. The publishing house he recently left probably has no idea of their loss.

But 2008 is coming, and the advent of a New Year brings the promise of hope. Writers have power. Just look to California at the strike that Screenwriters Guild of America is waging, demanding that writers get their fair share of DVD profits. Late night TV is a wasteland of reruns. I can’t even get my Bill Maher fix on HBO, because, as funny as Bill is, he needs folks to put words into his mouth. All we have to look forward to watching is Dance War: Bruno Versus Carrie Ann and other crappy reality shows as the strike goes on. “The Winter of Our Dissed Content,” one writer had scribbled on his strike placard. And I can’t steal a sports metaphor – “rebuilding year” – without mentioning Randy Moss. Last year, Randy Moss couldn’t have gotten arrested, which, let’s face it, is lately an exception for an NFL player. Now he’s on the receiving end of Tom Brady’s rifle of an arm. He’s playing for the New England Patriots, who, as of yesterday, are 14-0, making the first team in the league with that distinction since 1972.

So, in 2008, I’ll channel Randy Moss and the screenwriters and extrapolate their triumphs into my hopes and dreams for the future. The film version of my second book, What You Won’t Do For Love, is going along smoothly in pre-production. I’m continuing on the Femme Fantastik Tour with Lori Bryant Woolridge, ReShonda Tate Billingsley, Trisha R. Thomas, Carmen Green, and Berta Platas. I’ll also join my fellow Black Greeks on the Divine Literary Tour. Moreover, I’ve received a wonderful write-up in the 2008 Bahamas Handbook, which should open me up to a wider audience. God willing.

About the craft itself, I’ve written a wonderfully poignant story called, Triptych, about how love and the strong bonds of family transcend death and the passage of time. I think you’ll like it when you get a chance to read it. If that doesn’t happen with a mainstream publisher, I’ll publish it myself, which is the route that other established but under-appreciated authors are taking as of late. For inspiration, I look at the great and wildly accomplished Deepak Chopra, one of the pioneers in mind-body medicine, who’s sold millions of books worldwide. I bet few people know that he was once a self-published author.

To be continued. Until then, please, have a safe and joyous holiday. See you back here in 2008…

Thursday, October 25, 2007

October 25, 2007: What's Next on The Book Squad -- Bye For Now...

On October 26, 2007, The Book Squad will begin an indefinite hiatus from the air.

To go out in style, Karyn and Wendy will re-broadcast interviews that mean a great deal to them, for reasons they will discuss later. Karrine Steffan's interview from October 12 will air again, in support of her latest title, The Vixen Diaries.

Next, Roscoe Orman's interview from October 5 will air. Orman talks about his life as Gordon on Sesame St., as well as about his latest book, Ricky and Mobo.

Then joining the mix, live, via phone, is DeMonica D. Gladney, author of Willing to Wait: From Revelation to Manifestation. Gladney, in addition to being a poet and author, is a corporate lawyer and former president of the Houston Lawyers Association.

Our special live in-studio guest is Christina"Chrissie Love" Russell of 102.9 Island FM Radio in Nassau, Bahamas.

So join us for our last Friday together on as we say a fond farewell for now and turn out all the lights behind us...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

October 18, 2007: What's Next on The Book Squad

We have pets... and something completely different on The Book Squad this Friday.

The "Pets" part of the show begins with Patricia B. McConnell, author of For the Love of a Dog: Understanding Emotion in You and Your Best Friend. McConnell has much-needed advice for those of us who love and cherish our dogs but don't have a clue as to why they do some of the things they do.

Then Ann M. Martin joins us to talk about Food Pets Die For: Shocking Facts About Pet Food. Martin discusses the dirty little secrets of pet food companies and offers her own alternatives, nutritional advice, and strategies to avoid scams aimed at pet owners.

The "Something Completely Different" comes in the form of Essence best seller Daaimah S. Poole, author of All I Want is Everything. In this, her latest novel, Poole says she "confronts a dilemma that many of us tackle every day -- fear. Fear of putting our all into a dream and walking into the unknown."

Marcus Robinson is in the Author Spotlight.

Plus Heather Taylor from The Heather Taylor Show loved co-hosting so much that she's back again. And there's Wendy's World.

So sit, fetch, roll over, and listen to The Book Squad on, tomorrow from noon to 1:00 PM. We'll even let you sit on the couch!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

October 17, 2007: Escaping My Discomfort Zone

We’ve been hanging together now for some time now, so I’m sure it won’t come as a shock to you to know that I’m a tad on the anal-retentive side. I’m not entirely puckered, though. I still try new things, but I do so begrudgingly. And lots of colorful swearing follow along in my wake. I usually blame that on Jersey, my alter ego. To this day, though, I remain surprised at how incompatible my anal-retentive nature is with doing all of the publicity that is required if one wants to sell a respectable number of books.

Case in point. I was so excited to be asked to join the Femme Fantastic Tour. After all, the mission of the tour was for seven authors to show support for our troops by visiting military installations and autographing books. Plus I was going to be in good company. Lori Bryant-Woolridge was flush from just having released Weapons of Mass Seduction, a damned good book. Carmen Green and ReShonda Tate Billingsley have written so many books between them that they make Stephen King look lazy. Halle Berry just optioned the rights to Trish R. Thomas’s Nappily Ever After, and Nina Foxx is producing a play based on one of her own books. And Berta Platas adds her Latina flava to the mix. So it seemed like it was going to be a party like no other, replete with sisterly bonding and many martinis.

Of course, reality is always different from the fantasy. I felt this acutely as I was barreling down 95 South from Virginia to North Carolina, my alter ego Jersey cussing like swear words were ten minutes away from being outlawed. If you think that Mapquest is the Devil, then hotel directions are Dante’s ninth concentric circle of Hell. When I finally did meet up with the authors – Lori, Carmen, and ReShonda – on this, the Fort Bragg leg of the tour, I was flustered, irritated, and heart-patient sweaty. Just what you want in an author you’re about to meet, right? Mercifully, Lori had her portable GPS, which proved invaluable.

When we got to Fort Bragg, though, I realized the upside of being forced outside of one’s comfort zone. At the PX, we met and signed books for members of our armed forces and their families. They were so happy to see us, so thankful that we’d come to visit them. Which was such a contrast to some civilian signings I’d done at book stores, where people treated you like you were trying to interest them in buying a steaming turd.

Also, my well-meaning friends told me when I hit that particular milestone that forty isn’t old. I tell you, forty is plenty old when I’m looking at young soldiers going to or coming from Iraq, along with their wives (and husbands!), some of whom were born the year I started college. They were probably conceived while their parents were listening to the same Culture Club and Prince jams that I was bustin’ a move to at the freshman dance. Being forced outside of your comfort zone, more often than not, makes you put life in perspective, makes you rethink your perception of discomfort. Getting lost on a North Carolina highway in a fancy rental car with crappy directions versus getting shot at in a HumVee in Fallujah. No contest.

I visit five more military installations on the Femme Fantastik Tour, which starts up again in 2008. If you think Jersey’s going to disappear, that I’m not going to be pissed that Fate is moving my water dish, that I’m going to stop being anal-retentive – perish the thought. Spiky when squeezed is who I am, and I do it well. I will, though, be mindful of the ever-changing perspective that one finds in the Discomfort Zone… and try my hardest to chill.

Friday, October 12, 2007

October 12, 2007: What's Next on The Book Squad -- Vixens and Secrets!

It's a day for the ladies on The Book Squad.

First up, we have Karrine Steffans -- no descriptor needed. The always controversial author of Confessions of a Video Vixen is back with her latest, The Vixen Diaries, in which she regales us with lessons learned after the ascent afforded her with the publication of Confessions.

Then Dari Dyrness-Olssen shares Seven Secrets For Girls: Simple Solutions to Survive Boys and Stay Sane. She says to girls that "THIS WILL BE THE MOST IMPORTANT BOOK THAT YOU WILL EVER READ. The information found in this book will positively affect your life FOREVER. After reading SEVEN SECRETS you will have the skills to become happier, healthier, and more satisfied with your life." We're all for that.

LaConnie Taylor-Jones , author of When I'm With You, is in the Author Spotlight.

Plus there's much more, including Wendy's World.
So join us today at noon on Hey, ladies!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

October 4, 2007: What's Next on The Book Squad -- Celebrating the Capital Bookfest

This weekend in D.C., it's all about The 3rd Annual Capital Bookfest. Not to toot our own horn -- TOOT, TOOT! BEEP BEEP! -- but The Book Squad is one of the sponsors of this event, taking place on Saturday, October 6 at the Blvd @ Cap Centre, in Largo, Maryland. Over 100 authors from a myriad of genres will be there. Three of them will appear on tomorrow's Book Squad.

Poet, F.O.T.B.S., and organizer of the event, Kwame Alexander, is first up to whet your appetites with what awaits you at the event. He's holding down every aspect of The Bookfest, right down to the weather, which, he promises will be in the moderate eighty-degree range.
Those of you who were rabid fans of Sesame Street in your youth will undoubtedly remember our next guest, Roscoe Orman. The actor, who has played Gordon for thirty-five years, has written his second book, Ricky and Mobo, a story of a boy and his favorite mechanical horse.

Next we shift gears to John Amaechi, author of the controversial Man in the Middle. Amaechi tells us about his life's journey, from a hardscrabble existence in Manchester, England, to being a closeted gay man in the uber-masculine NBA, to his present quest to make the world a better place.

Victoria Rowell, accomplished television actress and philanthropist, has now added memorist to her list of talents. With her book The Women Who Raised Me, Rowell chronicles her life as a biracial ward of the state of Maine who could've fallen through the cracks of an overburdened foster-care system -- had it not been for several amazing women who loved, guided, and nurtured her.
Author Heather Taylor, host of WMET 1160's The Heather Taylor Show, is today's guest co-host with Wendy in studio.
So listen Friday -- noon, Friday -- to The Book Squad on And see you Saturday, October 6 at The 3rd Annual Capital Bookfest.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

What's next on the Book Squad: ROAD TRIP!

This week, Karyn and Wendy broadcast The Book Squad from the Infinity Publishing's 8th Annual Author's Conference in sunny Valley Forge, PA. Conference attendees will attend seminars and gain strategies for producing and marketing their self-published books.

First up, conference attendee Eric Kampmann, President of Beaufort Books and Midnight Trade Distributors, appears on the show to discuss how he came to bring the O.J. Simpson tome, If I Did It, to the masses.

Tom Gregory, Infinity Publishing's President, tells Book Squad listeners about his latest endeavor, Authornation, the online community for authors, writers, poets, and their readers.

Jane M. Martin, the author of Breathe Better, Living in Wellness: Winning Your Battle Over Shortness of Breath shares with us the secret of better living through better breathing.

Lastly, Conference Coordinator John Harnish visits with other break-out Infinity authors in tow.

So, listen to The Book Squad on Friday, from noon to 1:oo on and check out the new improved website! It's the next best thing to being with Karyn and Wendy at the conference.

Friday, September 21, 2007

September 21, 2007: What's Next on The Book Squad -- All of the West Indian Massives!

Karyn and Wendy are back with new shows for you, the devoted listeners. And, as summer winds down, we cleave to the lazy hot days of summer -- elsewhere -- by showcasing authors from the West Indies.

First up, we have award-winning Haitian-born author Edwidge Danticat, whose latest work, Brother, I'm Dying, is a touching journey of how she comes to terms with tragically losing both her biological and surrogate fathers at the same time, all while preparing herself for impending motherhood.

Next, there's Jamaican author Colin Channer, often called "Bob Marley with a pen," according to Wikipedia. He discusses his latest, The Girl With the Golden Shoes, a 2007 Washington Post Spring Pick.

Also joing Karyn and Wendy is Sofia Quintero, aka Black Artemis, nuesta hermana dominicana y puertoriquena from the Bronx, holding it down with her latest Names I Call My Sister. She challenges essentialist notions of Latino culture, feminism, and street lit, all interwoven with a hip hop sensibility.
Deborah Slappey Pitts is in the Author Spotlight.
So, listen to The Book Squad on We'll keep an iced Bacardi and Coke waiting for ya...

Monday, September 17, 2007

September 17, 2007: Authornation -- No Passport Required

Those of you who know me must’ve heard the story of how I got into this publishing racket… *cough, cough* … I mean “industry.” If not, here are the Cliff Notes. In 2001, tired of rejection, uncharacteristically flush with cash, and still shaken from seeing the Pentagon on fire in my rear view mirror on 9/11, I made the decision to self-publish. Serendipitously, my cousin gave me a subscription to Black Issues Book Review (BIBR) right about that time. In a BIBR article on self-publishing, I learned about Infinity Publishing. I went with them, and the rest, as they say, is Black History. I still maintain that the owner of the company, Tom Gregory, changed my life.

So, six years, one mainstream book deal, and two books later, I find myself once again observing Tom on the innovative edge of the industry, this time, helping writers reach out to each other. He has introduced a portal for writers called Authornation. I logged on and browsed through it, and I hope Tom forgives me when I say it’s like MySpace for writers. And, from my July 17th entry, you all know how addicted I am to the cybercrack that is MySpace. Sometimes, I’m like Chris Rock as Pookie in New Jack City, scratching myself and whining, “It be callin’ me! It be callin’ me!” But I digress…

I opened an Authornation account, browsed, posted some new writing to introduce myself, and read through the many forums on the site. There are even forums exploring specific genres. I posted a question there, under “African-American” almost a week ago, asking for suggestions on how African American writers could achieve mass appeal. Shockingly, the question has had no replies, prompting me to think that perhaps The Kid may be the fly in the literary buttermilk. Once again.

Hence the thrust to share this innovation with you. Check it out. Here’s the link to Authornation. There’s no pressure. To visit this nation is practically effortless. No shots, quinine pills, or learning of another language is involved. No ham-fisted TSA man will grope you. You won’t have to put any of your liquids or gels in a plastic Baggie. And ladies, what you do with your breast milk is your own business! Logging on to Authornation was less painful than my last visit to Margaritaville (no hangover and projectile vomiting… yet).

Seriously, let me know what you think. At the very least, go to Forums, scroll down to Genres>African American and answer my lonely question. The Token is looking for the Obligatory Second… and Third… and Fourth…

Friday, September 07, 2007

The Book Squad Begins a Two-Week Hiatus

... but we'll be back on September 21 with whole new guests and a brand spanking new website. In the meantime, we'll be re-running two of our most favorite shows. Listen at, if you haven't been with us from the beginning.

Thanks for sticking with us for this fantastic ride that is The Book Squad. We appreciate it!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

August 30, 2007: What's Next on The Book Squad

We have in store for you an unprecedented day on The Book Squad:

One hour. Six author interviews. Six women with smoking hot literary careers. The Femme Fantastik Tour kicks off with a stop at our studios. In addition to The Book Squad's own Wendy Coakley-Thompson, the Tour consists of the following authors who will be front and center:

Sammy E. Williams is in the Author Spotlight
Join us tomorrow at Isn't it the ultimate fantasy to have eight women entertain you all at once...?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

August 26, 2007: Ta-Dah! The Book Squad Promo Vid!

Hey, folks.

As you know, I've been doing this radio show called The Book Squad with Karyn Langhorne every Friday, from noon to 1:00 pm on WMET1160 and since February 2, 2007.

During that time, we've kept our promise of tracking down the hottest authors and bringing them for questioning. And slowly but surely, we've been getting the word out, but we wanted to do something extra.

So, without further explanation, here's The Book Squad's promotional video. Please let me know what you think...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

August 23, 2007: What's Next on The Book Squad

On Friday's Book Squad, we're meeting authors who have the courage to examine their lives through memoirs.

Mary Gordon, a successful fiction writer in her own right, talks to us about her latest nonfiction work, a memoir called Circling My Mother. In the book, Gordon explores her mother's extraordinary life, their relationship, and Gordon's own role as a daughter.

Next up is journalist Mike O'Connor. Through Crisis, Pursued by Disaster, Followed Closely by Catastrophe: A Memoir of Life on the Run -- what Kirkus Reviews calls his "riveting debut" -- O'Connor delves into his childhood of lies created by his parents and his quest to get to the hidden truth.

Yolanda Tucker is in the Author Spotlight.

So join us tomorrow at noon on We'll give you something to remember...

Friday, August 17, 2007

August 17, 2007: Are We There Yet?

I’m Anglican/Episcopalian. Trust me; it’s relevant to this blog entry.

Ever since I’d gotten confirmed at eleven years old, I could count on one hand the number of light bulb moments I’ve had in while sitting in Mass. Last week, people, I had one of those moments.

The sermon was entitled “Are We There Yet?” Now anyone who’s either been a kid or driven kids on long trips is ultimately familiar with that question… the excitement, the impatience, the urgency with which one awaits getting to the end of one’s journey wrapped up in those four little words. In this instance, the priest went on to extrapolate this question into our lives, how we spend an interminable amount of time waiting. I immediately thought about waiting for my mainstream book deal.

But back to Father David and his sermon... He said that the one constant that gets you through the wait is your faith that you will get to the end of the journey, get “there.” He said – get this – that some people have such strong faith that they don’t even ask the question anymore, that their belief on its own is enough to get them “there.” As a matter of fact, even asking the question – Are we there yet? – connotes a lack of faith in itself. My mind was officially blown.

Upon reflection, I extrapolated this question – Are we there yet? – to my writing career, which I have been actively pursuing for almost a decade now, sacrificing relationships with friends, family, lovers, and potential life partners. On this writing journey, I’ve been forced to change my concept of “there” quite a few times. “There” used to mean getting the book deal. Then it meant making my existence mean something by sharing stories that resonate with others, to commune with my fellow human beings, if you will. Kind of like the literary equivalent of buying the world a Coke and keeping it company. After years of being Clark Kent in the workplace and Superman in front of the computer at home, for me, “there” has evolved to mean doing what sustains me – which would necessitate me being a full time writer. By this present measure of “there,” I most definitely am not there yet.

And, unlike my fellow Anglican/Episcopalians with whom I shared a pew that Sunday, my faith has been shaken by recent developments. Rejections of a manuscript that I’d written with so much love have rained down on me in torrents. My agent and I have recently parted ways. I remain in limbo, cleaving to nothing special as I ride the train with the other nameless, faceless people with magnetized tags on lanyards around our necks, going off to till someone else’s field.

Unlike the faithful, I keep asking the question. I feel compelled to ask the question. Because I can never, will never accept that, in my presence circumstance, the answer to the question – Are we there yet? – is yes, you are.

August 17, 2007: What's Next on the Book Squad -- Manly Men Day!

It's Manly Men Day on The Book Squad, and we've got two authors whose pursuits and life experiences have ensured -- in spades -- that they, indeed, qualify to be present.

Anthony Swofford is first up to introduce us to his next literary gem, Exit A. Unless your address is under a rock, you must know that Swofford is also the author of Jarhead, his memoir detailing his life as a Marine sniper during Desert Storm -- a book which later became a film starring Jake Gyllenhaal.

Speaking of authors who have a film connection, The Book Squad welcomes back Eric Van Lustbader. Again, unless you're living under that same rock mentioned above, you also know that Van Lustbader has taken over Robert Ludlum's Jason Bourne franchise. This time, he discusses his own non-Bourne-related work called The Testament, which is, according to The Barnes and Noble Review, "a pedal-to-the-metal thriller."

Kevin Johnson is the featured Author Spotlight.

Plus there's an extended Wendy's World!

I know -- way too much excitement for one Friday. But join us on tomorrow and MAN UP!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

August 9, 2007: What's Next on The Book Squad

Karyn's down in Florida trying to be The Ultimate Author. Wendy's in D.C. with her ultimate family. So they've selected their two favorite interviews for rebroadcast.

Karyn chose Walter Mosley, author of This Year You Write Your Novel, for his amazing writing chops.

Wendy chose Steve Santagati, author of The Manual: A True Bad Boy Explains How Men Think, Date, and Mate -- and What Women Can Do to Come Out on Top because he gave her helpful tips on the care and feeding of men... and because he made her laugh hysterically.

If you missed these authors before, listen tomorrow at noon on

Like pizza, they're better the second time around...

Thursday, August 02, 2007

August 2, 2003: What's Next on The Book Squad

We begin the dog days of August with an ecclectic mix of authors.

Nathan Englander joins us, sharing aspects of his first novel, The Ministry of Special Cases, which was eight years in the making. Englander’s short fiction has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, and numerous anthologies including The Best American Short Stories, The O. Henry Prize Anthology, and the Pushcart Prize. Englander’s story collection, For the Relief of Unbearable Urges, became an international bestseller, and earned him a PEN/Faulkner Malamud Award and the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Washington D.C.-based novelist J. J. Michael is next to discuss her latest, It's Not Over Yet, a fictional exploration of the paranormal. Michael, a lifelong student and teacher of Metaphysics and healing principles, is the founder of and publisher of, an ezine that promotes spiritual awareness, self-development and world peace. Michael has appeared on the local Virginia Cable Television and has been featured on National Public Radio (NPR). A renowned numerologist, Ms. Michael appeared in CNN's segment, "A Wrinkle in Time."

Author Lauren Spicer joins us to dish about the last minute preparations for the taping of her reality show The Ultimate Author. The Book Squad's own Karyn Langhorne is part of the cast. Plus we'll also have your shot of Wendy's World.

Join us tomorrow on, 'cause next week, we're having a compilation show, so you won't have us to kick around!

*CORRECTION: Last week, this blog incorrectly identified The Bracelet as romance author Karen Rose Smith's sixtieth book. It is actually her fifty-ninth. The fact that she has written so many that we could actually make that mistake remains impressive.

Friday, July 27, 2007

July 27, 2007: What's Next on The Book Squad: Revisiting Our Past

It's deja vu all over again on The Book Squad today. We're ending the month of Jult by checking in with past guests to see what they've been doing.

First up is John Callahan, from our Writing While Dead show. He returns to further discuss the process of resurrecting Ralph Ellison's novel Juneteenth -- from a manuscript allegedly destroyed by fire in 1967, to having it grace the world's bookshelves decades later. He'll also share with us his latest, A Man You Could Love, in which he poses the question: Can politics be an expression of love? Let's as the latest iteration of the Sharks and The Jets here in D.C.

Remember Jason Miccolo Johnson, the author of Soul Sanctuary, his photographic essay of the Black Church? He'd been a guest on our Spirituality show. A Washington DC resident, Miccolo Johnson has photographed the African Methodist Episcopal Church in an official capacity for a quarter of a century. He'll chat with us about what he's got percolating.

And you can't forget Karen Rose Smith from our Valentine's Day show. She has written fifty-nine romance novels. Her latest, The Bracelet, is #60. She'll be talking about the book and the miraculous feat of writing sixty romance novels.

Plus there's more Wendy's World.

So join us on today at noon. Hey... haven't I seen you before?

Friday, July 20, 2007

July 20, 2007: What's Next on The Book Squad -- Potpourri!

Which is French for "Today's show has no central theme!"

Jamie Malanowski is first up to fill us in on his latest, The Coup, his delicious new satire about a conspiracy to execute a power grab for the White House. Yes, it's fiction. He's the managing editor Playboy magazine. A member of the original staff of Spy, where he worked seven years, he has also been an editor at Time and Esquire, and has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times, Vanity Fair, The Washington Monthly, and many other publications.

Those still recovering from the fatty July 4th meal will appreciate the next guest. Medical journalist and heat attack survivor Robert E. Kowalski joins us to discuss his latest health book The Blood Pressure Cure: 8 Weeks to Lower Blood Pressure without Prescription Drugs. In addition to having written several bestselling books, he has published The Diet-Heart Newsletter for twenty years, maintains his Web site, averages twelve media interviews monthly, and is launching an alliance with to be their provider of heart health information.

Friend of The Book Squad (FOTBS) and Borders District Manager Juliana Wood tells us what Borders stores in the region are doing to celebrate the arrival of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Plus there's Wendy's World!

Come join us at As always, we're keeping your seat warm for you.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

July 17, 2007: OMG! I’m Totally Hooked on MySpace!

The title of this missive might seem, as Hilary Duff might say, “So yesterday,” but I’m a chronic late adopter. Hang on to your hats, ladies and gentlemen – I STILL don’t have an iPod. Not even the starter cheaper Nano. This is why I’m so surprised that I have a monkey on my back. Its name? MySpace.

I became aware of the whole MySpace phenomenon in the summer of 2005 as a blip on my radar screen, when I’d read that acquisitive media Pac Man Rupert Murdoch had bought the company. Then I’d heard about the viruses and child safety issues. But that still didn’t stop the young ‘uns in my life from raving about this thing called MySpace. So I went up to late on Friday, May 19, 2006, and at 12:15 am on Saturday, May 20, posted my first (and only, as it turns out) blog entry.

There it sat. For months and months. I think I had five friends at first, one being the ubiquitous Tom (Who is that guy, and why did he want to be my first friend?).

Suddenly, though, as time passed, I started getting all of these friend requests in my e-mail inbox. I was intrigued. I think the first author who’d sent me a friend request and a comment was Yasmin Shiraz. This opened the portal into my desire to become friends with my fellow authors and other sojourners through publishing.

Leaping from page to page, I discovered a wealth of people on MySpace that I’d always wanted to meet but had no idea of how to go about it. Like, for instance, my idols Jennifer Weiner and Rebecca Walker. Next, a host of authors on the Black Expressions list serve ( sent out a blanket request for friends. I picked some up there. Along the way, I learned how to post and send comments, how to IM people, how to add new friends, and how to put music on my page. I still don’t have a cool layout or video, though. I may need the hand puppets to explain that. If any of you know how, please, by all means, hook a sistah up.

So, I’ve been on MySpace for a little over a year now. I’ve shot out friend requests and got a surprising number of them back. Oprah, the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama, and Margaret Cho are friends. So are Russell Simmons and John Legend. I won’t delude myself that they’re really “friends,” that they’re dying for my bulletins on who’s appearing next on The Book Squad. However, some of you, my Black Bloggers are friends with whom I’ve had actual interaction – like Gwyneth Bolton, a.Kai, and Monica Jackson. I go in the Pending Requests folder and see who’s agreed to be my friend. I’m still waiting on Mariah and LL, among others, to accept my invitation. Of course, you have the odd horny toad who wants to hook up, who didn’t read the Here For: Networking, Friends part of Wendy Coakley-Thompson’s Details. But I remain undeterred. The anticipation is like Christmas. No wonder Dave Itzkoff, in a June 2006 Playboy article, in discussing his experiences on MySpace, called it “cybercrack” (See

To date, I have 183 friends, and I’m looking for more. If you’re on MySpace and would like to be my friend, here’s the link to my profile:
I’ll be waiting…

Friday, July 13, 2007

On Today's Book Squad

This week, The Book Squad features authors of debut novels.

First up, Savannah J. Frierson joins us to discuss her first born Being Plumville, a story of interracial love and friendship down south. Frierson is a recent graduate of Harvard University who concentrated in African and African-American Studies and English. Frierson won the Dorothy Hicks Lee Prize for her creative thesis on African-American literature. She is originally from Blythewood, South Carolina, and now lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.

Local D.C.-area author Shauna Seliy is also in the house with us. Her novel When We Get There, which received a starred review from Booklist (that's a good thing, people) explores one boy's coming-of-age over the course of a long, eventful, brutally cold winter.

There's also Wendy's World, Around Town, and Karyn chats her experiences with reality TV on The Ultimate Author.
So join us on today at noon on If it's your first time, we'll be gentle...

Thursday, June 28, 2007

What's Next on The Book Squad: Ending June With an Explosion!

We're ending the month of June like fireworks -- with a big bang!

We'll be in the presence of greatness when literary icon Walter Mosley shows up as our guest this Friday. We could go on ad infinitum about the twenty-eight best selling and critically acclaimed novels he's written. So few are as well-equipped as he to talk about developing an idea into a manuscript, as he does in his latest, This Year You Write Your Novel, a primer on the writing process.

Next, joining us to discuss her long-awaited memoir is actress, talk show host, and now author Robin Givens. She talks about, among other things, marriage to Mike Tyson, mistreatment from a voracious press corps, and motherhood on her road to self-actualization in Grace Will Lead Me Home.

For our mothers of tweens in our audience, Junie B. Jones enlightens us about her new book, Aloha-Ha-Ha, and about The Stupid, Smelly Bus Tour, appearing here in the DC area on July 2nd.

Come join us on Think of us as the appetizer before your Fourth of July meal of burgers and dogs!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

June 22, 2007: What's New on The Book Squad: WWD!

Welcome to our WWD show. "WWD?" you may ask. It's Writing While Dead, and it's not as sinister as you might think.

Today, The Book Squad showcases already-successful authors who have taken on the mantle of writing in the style of their deceased contemporaries. We'll delve into what it entails to inhabit the literary skins of the creators of some of this era's most recognizable fiction.

Eric Van Lustbader is the author of numerous best selling novels, including The Testament and The Ninja. He's been commisioned to continue Robert Ludlum's legacy as the author of the Jason Bourne novels, including The Bourne Legacy and the latest, The Bourne Betrayal.

With Juneteenth occurring this week, it's only fitting that we'd have with us John Callahan, who discusses the process of resurrecting Ralph Ellison's novel of the same name -- Juneteenth -- from a manuscript allegedly destroyed by fire in 1967, to having it grace the world's bookshelves decades later. He'll also share with us his latest, A Man You Could Love, in which he poses the question: Can politics be an expression of love? Probably not here in D.C...

Also on the agenda, Karyn regales us with stories from her travels to Florida last week week for The Ultimate Author casting call.
Join us on this Friday at noon. Bring a pulse...

Sunday, June 17, 2007

June 17, 2007: You Say You Want a Revolution? Yes, Please!

This is a statement of fact. My royalty check was late this accounting period. Not one or two days late. Try two weeks late. With no explanations, no apologies for having inconvenienced me, yadda yadda yadda. The check finally arrived via snail mail at the my agent’s on Friday. I, personally, still don’t have cash in hand yet.

As I cannot yet make a living as writer – shocking, I know! – I inhabit a land of civilians where a contract means something, as do the penalties of being in breach in said contract. Only in publishing is a contract a mere suggestion of ways to do business, that dates set forth are decorative… talking points around which to maneuver. For The House, that is. Authors, on the other hand, are held strictly to the letter of any and every contract.

In any other industry, as the aggrieved party, I would have my attorney on speed dial, and we would huddle and strategize as to how to be compensated. In the publishing industry, an author could, of course, do that. However, any author with a lick of sense and her ear to the ground quickly learns that exercising your right to counter The House’s actions would result in blacklisting, with one never getting another book deal ever again. Because editors talk and tag certain authors as “difficult.” In short, The House, like in Vegas, always seems to win.

What editors don’t seem to realize is that authors talk too. If you as informed authors do your homework, you’ll see the shifts that are occurring in the industry. You’ll see the emperors parading themselves at BEA and other industry-wide events and finally realize that yes, they are indeed naked. You’ll hear others tell you, as one person told me, that she’d set her manuscript on fire before she’d sign with a certain publisher. In short, authors aren’t as desperate as we once were to get to The Show. Some of our colleagues are laying in the cut, waiting for the complete paradigm shift, or they’re making one of their own.

I envision the same paradigm shift, a revolution within the publishing industry, a movement that will make this industry friendlier to us who provide the raw materials which The House uses to make almost a one-hundred percent profit off our backs. Think for a second what happened with the music industry. That industry’s moldy, outdated business model wasn’t working for consumers who wanted to enjoy music their way. This desire begat file sharing web sites like Napster and Kazaa, which enabled the consumer to share music they wanted, without having to get fleeced buying an entire CD at inflated prices. Finally, the music industry saw the light and changed. With inventions like iTunes and the like, consumers can now enjoy music the way they want to, and the industry and the artists get paid.

While the revolution in the music industry was consumer-driven, I predict that the publishing industry revolution will be fought by authors like us. I see it happening already. Print-on-demand is bigger than ever. iUniverse, coining the phrase “supported self-publishing,” has snagged heavy hitters like Alan Thicke and Barney Rosenzweig (creator of Cagney & Lacey), who’ve published best selling books with them. Both Margaret Johnson Hodge and Tina McElroy Ansa, successful authors in their own right, have started their own publishing houses. This revolution will make this industry more egalitarian and give a well-deserved systemic shock to self-styled power brokers who believe they’ve “made” authors in general and Black authors in particular. If you’re plugged in, you’ll hear others talking about that revolution too. My advice to authors and to The House alike? Listen up…

Thursday, June 14, 2007

June 14, 2007: What's Next on Tomorrow's The Book Squad

It's June, and t'is the season to be wed. So, on The Book Squad, we'll be talking about weddings, whether you need ideas from a preeminent lifestyle guru, whether you want to run away to tie the knot, or whether your focus is on using the actual wedding ceremony as a tool to build your relationship as a couple.

The preeminent lifestyle guru in the house is Colin Cowie, discussing his eponymous Colin Cowie's Extraordinary Weddings: From a Glimmer of an Idea to a Legendary Event. You've seen Colin over the years on Oprah, Live with Regis and Kelly, Entertainment Tonight, CNN, and Extra! 'Nuff said.

For the couple wanting to chuck the familiar trappings of home in favor of a destination wedding, we have Carley Roney and JoAnn Gregoli, authors of The Knot Guide to Destination Weddings. Carley is the co-founder of, the number one wedding brand worldwide. JoAnn, who has planned over one-hundred destination weddings, is the owner of Elegant Occasions, Inc.

Those into wedding preparation as a relationship builder can learn a thing or two from two PhDs: Judith Sherven and James Sniechowski, authors of The Smart Couple's Guide to the Wedding of Your Dreams: Planning Together for Less Stress and More Joy. Judith and Jim, who are also a married couple, are two of the country's most respected and pioneering authorities on successful relationships.

Toria Wyrick is in the Author Spotlight. And toay's Man-spondent on the subject of love and marriage is David Kletzkin.

So join us on We don't require a lifetime commitment -- just one hour out of your day.

Friday, June 08, 2007

June 8, 2007: What's Next on The Book Squad

The June 8 installment of The Book Squad explores this question: What Do Men Really Want?

We ask Steve Santagati, the author of The Manual: A True Bad Boy Explains How Men Think, Date and Mate -- and What Women Can Do to Come Out on Top. Per Publishers Weekly: "Santagati, a former model and admitted bad boy who has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and The View, has expanded on his relationship advice enterprise,, to make this guidebook to dating and taming the wild male."

For balance, we talk to the couple that seems to have the answer to the question: 14-year NBA veteran Doug Christie and his wife Jackie. The pair, stars of BET-J's reality show Committed: The Christies, has written the relationship guide called No Ordinary Love: A True Story of Marriage and Basketball.

We also test drive our first "Manspondent," Chris King, who fills us in on how what men are reading reflects their interests. And Wendy presents her very own Book Expo America wrap-up.

Be there at for our peek into the male psyche.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

June 7, 2006: The Book Squad's Karyn Langhorne Drops "Unfinished Business"

Unfinished Business, by co-host of The Book Squad Karyn Langhorne, hit bookshelves on June 1. The novel, about the unwilling attraction of opposites, is Karyn's fourth. In a taped interview on The Book Squad, Karyn discussed this and her three other novels, her process, and what it's like to be both full-time mom and writer.

Harold Lee Wise, author of Inside the Danger Zone, was the live guest on the June 1st Book Squad. The novel, published by Naval Institute Press, explores the involvement of the United States military in the Persian Gulf during the Iran-Iraq War.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

May 17, 2007: When Characters Attack. Sort Of...: The Sequel

Hello, all:

Okay, about the title. I know you're asking yourselves the question, "How can this be a sequel when I never saw the initial post?"

I'll answer by way of explanation and by sharing. In this, my personal blog, I posted When Characters Attack. Sort of... on August 21, 2006. In that posting, I talked about a rather incensed gentleman named Bryan Livingston, who sent me an e-mail, because he happened to bear the name of the villain of my first book, Back to Life (Read the original post that follows for the outcome of the exchange).

Just when I thought the Bryan Livingston affair was a fluke... it happened again. On April 18 of this year, I opened my e-mail box and saw the name Marc Guerrieri. Again, I was like, "Okay..."

Here's what he had to say:

Log on to the May 17th posting at Blogging In Black to read the rest...

Friday, April 20, 2007

April 20, 2007: "Today, we are all Hokies..."

Virginia Governor Tim Kaine has declared today -- Friday, April 20, 2007 -- a statewide day of mourning for the victims of the April 16th tragedy on the Blacksburg campus Virginia Tech.

This hit me particularly hard. After all, I live in the state of Virginia. I'm wearing my maroon and orange today as a symbolic gesture and praying that, in these trying times, we will all find the strength to go on and to find meaning in the senselessness of thirty-three deaths.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

April 17, 2007: Luck is Where the Book Nerd Meets the Radio

Allow me to channel my Inner Guy and tell you about The Book Squad. This is the back story of how I got on the radio.

It all started when poet extraordinaire Kwame Alexander invited me to speak at the 2006 Capital Bookfest. There, I met Karyn Langhorne, signing copies of her book Diary of an Ugly Duckling (hilarious and poignant; you should read it). I had lunch with her and her family after we’d done our bit at the Bookfest, and, as one tends to do at these things, promised we’d get together, as we were both local. Over the next few months, we’d exchanged autographed copies of each other’s books and corresponded via snail mail and e-mail. Nothing too eventful. So, imagine my surprise when, early this year, she asked if I’d like to join her in hosting something called The Book Squad, a show where we would, as the tagline says, “track down the hottest authors and bring them in for questioning.” Once we’d worked out the thorny details, I said yes.

I confess; my motives weren’t exactly pure...

To see the rest, go to Blogging in Black, where I now post on April 17th...

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

April 3, 2007: My Brush With Greatness

Okay, so I'm, like a Dancing With the Stars freak! And when I'd heard that Miss USA 2004 Shandi Finnessey was going to be one of the contestants this season, I almost crapped a brownie.

Here's why. I'd actually met Shandi at the Infinity Publishing Conference in October 2004, in Valley Forge, PA. I was a guest speaker, and she was there signing her book, The Furrtails, which Infinity published. The proceeds were going to help find a cure for muscular dystrophy, I believe. So, she was a nice lady.

Flash ahead to the present day and Shandi 2007. She got eliminated from Dancing With the Stars tonight... just about the time I remembered I'd had this snapshot somewhere:

Yes, she's as tall in person as she looks on TV. I'm 5' 7", lying to myself and in two-inch heels, and she STILL could've set her drink on my head.

Speaking of drinks, some conference attendees were at the bar one night, just before the drunken karaoke (I'm not posting those pix!) when Shandi breezed in. The guy I was standing next to wasn't impressed. "Who's that, Miss USA?" he asked.

"Yeah," I answered.

He looked Shandi over and scoffed. "Too skinny for me," he commented.

I, a resigned endomorph, could've kissed him on the mouth. Pennsy boys, God bless 'em!

But alas, to the rest of the world, Shandi is the picture of perfection.

And, Miss Shandi, even though you didn't make it to the finals of Dancing With the Stars, something tells me that you're gonna be all right...

Monday, March 26, 2007

March 26, 2007: Come Join Me on MySpace

I'm such a late adopter when it comes to technology. For someone who touts podcasts of her show The Book Squad, I don't even own an iPod. EGAD!!!! I can just feel my cool points decreasing right now.

I think I learned my lesson with a super-buggy version of Windows 95, spending my hard-earned money to beta-test Bill Gates' crappy product. So now, I just lay back in the cut and let all those other early adopters beta test stuff for me and separate the chaff from the wheat.

Take MySpace. Like a lemming, I joined last year and hadn't been the most diligent person on the planet with it. But now I've seen how so many of my writer friends have these tricked out pages and are working it. So, I decided to give it another chance.

If you're on MySpace, hit me up here and be my friend:

No pressure, though. Don't want to be that friend...

Sunday, March 25, 2007

March 25, 2007: Why I'm Thankful They've Buried Anna Nicole Smith

I mean, don't get me wrong. It's tragic when anyone dies, especially someone as young as Anna Nicole Smith. I was less than a year old when she was born, so when, on February 8, I'd heard she'd died at 39, I was like, 'There but for the grace of God..."

Then the invariable media circus began. Now you know I'm notoriously of Bahamian descent. I spent a good chunk of my life there. The bulk of my family lives there. So, I was quite distressed by saw unfold on TV over the weeks that followed after Anna Nicole's death. I'd heard that someone in Nassau had expresed this sentiment: Thank God she died in Florida, because if she'd died in the Bahamas, we never would've heard the end. I can't help thinking that that person was right. People still haven't gotten over what happen in Abaco with Aaliyah in 2001 -- despite the fact that it was a coked-up pilot and an overweighted plane that killed her, and not her geographic location. Anyhu, I digress...

When I heard Entertainment Tonight correspondent and media whore Mark Steines say during Anna Nicole's funeral that she'd put the Bahamas on the map, I wanted to do an Elvis and shoot the TV! Had Steines not been giving himself his own colonoscopy for a good number of years, he'd have realized that the Bahamas, extra of a suicide blonde looking for love in all the wrong places, has been known for quite sometime to explorers, tourists, bankers, and sportsfishermen -- and to us! -- for centuries. It was even the place to which famously Nazi-loving Edward and his divorcee wife Wallis Simpson retreated after he'd abdicated the throne. The Royals, embarrased by his behavior and by that nasty Nazi-sympathizing business, threw him a bone and made him the Governor General of the Bahamas.

This is not to say that some of my people didn't play a role in the world thinking them idioits. There was the cheering and booing of people entering the funeral and the courthouse as she was buried and as folks tried to decide what conga line into Anna Nicole's vagina could've produced her unfortunate, now motherless daughter. Then seeing the very dark Bahamian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shane Gibson, in bed with this aggressively white woman (i.e., Anna Nicole) made me cringe! I think in a previous blog entry, I'd mentioned that my agent, when pitching a story of mine, had been told that people don't know anything about "Jamaica." I wanted people to know more about a country that's only a forty-five-minute plane ride from Miami. But I sure didn't want them to come to know the Bahamas like this.

But the damage has already been done. I can only hope now that the rest of this drama -- the eviction of Howard K. Stern from a house that wasn't Anna's to begin with, the discovery of the Baby Daddy, etc. -- can be played out in a more dignified manner, in a manner that gets folks remembering that the Bahamas was the place of Christopher Columbus's first New World landfall on the island of San Salvador, not the place that Anna Nicole Smith used to wipe her ass with in the last days of her tragic life.

So, yes, I'm happy that Anna Nicole Smith has been laid to rest from a life that was rife with trouble and was way too short. But I'm also hoping that the ancestral home can get back to normal and recover from the klieg light of infamy that burned white hot on it for a moment in time.

Here's hoping...

Monday, February 26, 2007

February 26, 2007: What Martin Scorsese and Three 6 Mafia Have in Common

Remember last year's Oscars, when host Jon Stewart, who was keeping score, announced that in the Oscar tally, Three 6 Mafia had one; Martin Scorsese had zero? Well, all that changed last night when Martin Scorsese received a long-deserved Oscar as Best Director for The Departed -- a movie I didn't see, but hey, that's what DVDs are for, right?

With the exception of Borat, I hadn't seen ANY of the movies nominated this year. I remember the days when my sister, Chrissie, and I would take a fistful of dollars and spend the entire day at the movies. Flash ahead ten years. With responsibilities of The Plantation, trying to find time to write, and my duties as co-host of The Book Squad, I hardly have time to clean my house (which is a mess) or play with my dog (who, God bless him, is patient with his owner).

I thought Ellen DeGeneres was hilarious! When she came out with that vacuum and started cleaning up, I thought my hour had come. I also did think all the right folks won (Forest Whitaker, Helen Mirren, Al Gore, etc.). I thought that Eddie could've cancelled Christmas the moment that P.O.S. Norbit hit the screens. I was especially excited when Miss Jennifer Hudson got her Oscar. I could just hear her saying in her head, "F*ck you, Simon Cowell!" I want to have the year she's having. From discounted and down-and-out to Oscar winner. I wonder what the equivalent of that would be in the book world?

Now I'm bleary-eyed from a lack of sleep, because, typically, the shit ran over. They could've cut that crappy Road to the Oscars mess and started the show a half-hour earlier, so that those with us with jobs could still get our pop culture groove on and still been able to function on the J-O the next day.

Every year, I swear I won't be taken in by Awards season. Every year, I'm wrong. I think I keep watching, because it helps me keep my eye on my prize... and my focus squarely on my own dreams. There's no way I can look away from that!

Until next year...