Category Archives: Op-Ed

Rant: Indie Publishing Forever!

Indie Publishing

On Friday, YA author L.R. Giles published a post explaining to his readers why he’s been incognito as of late. The post, if you ask me, was actually full of good news: Giles signed with HarperCollins and his YA mystery will be published soon. In addition to that, he has already completed two novels that aren’t contracted to HarperCollins, but he must show them to his lit and film agents before anyone else.

“I’m not complaining,” Giles says of his good fortune. “I just want to explain why you, the loyal readers who have supported LIVE AGAIN, THE DARKNESS KEPT, and THE SHADOWS GALLERY, haven’t seen a new book from me in over a year.”

I salute and congratulate the brother on his publishing contract. I know that it was a lifelong dream for the brother, and his talent will take him far. But reading his story makes me wonder if I’d ever sign a contract should one of the Big Six approach me.

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Is Jay Fingers’ GUESTLIST Urban Lit? #GLIST

Is GUESTLIST by Jay Fingers Urban Lit? #GLIST

Last week, while being interviewed by the lovely ladies of Hip-Hop is For Lovers, I was asked if I was okay with the term “urban lit” being used in regard to my novel Guestlist.

At the time, I said that I didn’t have a problem with it. After all, self-published urban lit pioneers like Vickie Stringer, Nikki Turner, and Teri Woods were massive influences on how I put Guestlist together and readied it for he masses.

But not necessarily on the story or how it was written.

And so, after thinking on it a bit more, I have to say that I don’t believe Guestlist is urban lit at all.

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Why Is It Easier to Get GUESTLIST in Barnes & Noble Than in My Local Bookstores? #GLIST

Why Is It Easier to Get GUESTLIST in Barnes & Noble Than in My Local Bookstores? #GLIST

Before my debut novel GUESTLIST was actually a tangible object that people could purchase and read, I told everyone that it would be available at all the usual online book retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s. (Hey, Powell’s, what the hell?)

But people asked, “Well, will it be available at [insert local bookstore]?”

“Oh, sure,” I said. “I’ve spoken with them, they pretty much said they’ll be ready when I’m ready.”

Turns out that hasn’t been the case.

You see, despite my being a local Brooklyn author and the claims of my neighborhood bookstores’ desires to support and showcase the work of local authors, I’ve been getting the run-around from damn near everyone.

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Wearing A Hoodie for Trayvon Martin #MillionHoodies #JusticeForTrayvon

I haven’t said very much about Trayvon Martin for one simple reason: the whole situation makes me angry.

Yes, I know, it makes us all angry. We can’t believe that we live in a world, a country, an era where a 17-year-old black teen can be murdered in cold blood and his killer not be in danger of prosecution. But what I’m saying is, and those who know me know this to be true, when I’m angry, I don’t become loud or boisterous. I become quiet.

Damn near silent.

I fester and stew in my anger. It’s not healthy, but that’s what I do, partly because I’m cynical to the point where I don’t think anyone care. No one wants to listen. That goes for everyone, from the politicians and authority figures tasked with creating and enforcing the laws of the land to my own family and friends who have enough troubles of their own to be concerned with anyone else’s.

And so I’ve remained silent. Quiet. Haven’t said a word. Even as the evidence against Trayvon’s murderer George Zimmerman began to mount. Even as tapes of the 911 calls became public. Even as common sense and compassion began to prevail among the masses.

I am Trayvon Martin

Today, I’m breaking my silence. Today, I’m a black man sporting a hoodie, as Trayvon did the evening he was murdered, to show the world that I am not “suspicious.” The pic above was uploaded to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram with the hashtag #millionhoodies, and the video at the very top was posted with the same hashtag on YouTube and Viddy.

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Read My Review of Drake’s Take Care at Soulhead.com

Drake - Take Care

Featuring an impressive roster of guest artists, including Stevie Wonder, Andre 3000, Rihanna, Rick Ross, The Weeknd, and labelmates Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj, and boasting production from Just Blaze, Boi-1da, and long-time collaborator Noah “40” Shebib for production, Take Care is Drake’s attempt at giving listeners the classic album they’d expected with his debut.

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Op-Ed: The Problem With The Help

The Help

This week, The Help opened in over 2500 theaters across the country. The film tells the story of a young white woman, Skeeter Phelan (played by Emma Stone), and her relationship with two black maids (Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer) during Civil Rights era America in early 1960s, and is based on the bestselling novel by Kathryn Stockett. And make no mistake, the film has been well-received by critics and is already as big a hit as its source material. According to DHD, the film is estimated to gross $32 million since its Wednesday opening.

As a writer, I’m often inspired by stories of people who are able to overcome the odds and achieve success in the publishing world. The Help has one such story: Stockett was rejected by over 60 agents before one agreed to represent her, and now her debut novel has been published in 35 countries and three languages. It’s sold five million copies and has spent more than a 100 weeks on the The New York Times Best Seller list.

I don’t have a problem with Stockett and I’m happy for her success and all but … naaaaah, son. She writes the black character’s dialogue in a stereotypical “Negro” dialect. I know Stockett is a published author and I, currently, am not, but most writers know that writing characters’ dialogue in dialect is a big no-no. Grammar Girl says, “In Gone With The Wind, Margaret Mitchell uses nonstandard spellings for the speech of blacks while using standard spelling for whites even though the speech of both groups is phonetically very similar. [It was] typical of white Southern writers of her day [to] employed dialect to reinforce the erroneous belief that blacks are inferior—that their speech is so bad it can’t even be spelled properly.” And to say she was trying to be “authentic” begs the question of why, then, the book virtually ignores the major political, social, and cultural themes of the era.

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Music Review: Jay-Z and Kanye West – Watch The Throne

Music Review: Jay-Z and Kanye West - Watch The Throne

Let’s talk for a minute about hype. Public Enemy once famously implored us not to believe it. After all, hype is used to cover up shortcomings in that which is being hyped. There should be no pomp and circumstance—the work should speak for itself, right? Ultimately, children, hype breeds disappointment.

At least, that’s what most dissenters would say. In my opinion, however, the purpose of hype is to get people excited about a project. And that’s exactly what happened with Watch The Throne, the new album from Jay-Z and Kanye West. (The duo have dubbed themselves The Throne, a moniker I refuse to use.)

But the hype also brought a ton of criticism. In fact, people criticized the entire album before listening to it, mind you, saying it would only be a purely materialistic affair, a slap in the face to people who, in this economy, have virtually nothing. It was also said that the album wasn’t being done for the love of hip-hop, it was done so that Kanye and Jay could “win.” And I loved that such sentiments were usually backed up with qualifiers like, “I love these niggas and have supported them their whole careers but …” Fuck outta heah with that noise. Please just listen to the goddamned music.

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