Let’s Get This (February) Party Started RIGHT!

This is my first Black History Month as a blogger and now, a podcaster. I am kicking off February with a  “You Gotta Read This”  podcast this Tuesday, February 2nd at 4:45pmEST. My guest is the poet extraordinaire Remica L. Bingham, author of CONVERSION (Lotus Press, 2007).

Remica Bingham is a brilliant poet and thinker. So we are going to have a good time chewing the proverbial fat.

You know I hope that’s some proverbial bacon fat, because I love the pig meat, but yes, for those of you who worry, I am off the pig except on special occasions. Now, I (mostly) just have my memories and my fantasies.

Ordinarily, my podcasts will run on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month, but Black History Month has got me carried away. It is my favorite month of the year, just chock-full of black pride-inducing yumminess.

And because so many black women have done great things, I have claimed Women’s History Month (in March) as an extension of Black History Month. Sort of like how some of us (and you know who you are) take off all week long from work for our birthdays.

Because of everything my people have done for this community and this country—and American cultural progress, in general—starting all the way back three centuries, I walk around for a couple of months with my chest puffed out, proud to be an African American woman. And that is despite some of these knuckleheads out here, embarrassing The Race and whatnot.

So, I’ve got FOUR podcasts for you in the month of February! It’s going to be so sassy. Oh, I just hope you can handle all the sassy I have planned for you. Pace yourself, now, baby.

However, because Remica L. Bingham is in much demand as a poet, teacher, and just an all around great human being, she couldn’t make that 7:30pmEST time slot I have claimed. But you know I didn’t care, because I just had to get this party started right. I begged her to fit me in, and she said yes. Because she’s generous like that.

So join me a little early this Tuesday, February 2nd at 4:45pmEST. You can go right to that little blue TalkShoe button (on the right, scroll down), and that will take you to the podcast, streaming live. Or click this link, which will take you to the podcast as well.

If you miss it, you can still click the blue button and you can listen to the recording. Or better yet, you can subscribe to the podcast on ITunes.  Simply search for the podcast under the name, PhillisRemastered. (No spaces.)

The first extra-wonderful podcast with novelist Heidi Durrow, author of THE GIRL WHO FELL FROM THE SKY is up on ITunes right now! It’s deep, it’s funny, it’s profound, and a whole bunch of other superlatives.

Now, on ITunes it says “Episode 3” for the Heidi Durrow podcast, but we had a few technical difficulties, so it really is the first episode. You have not missed a thing.

Let’s get back to Ms. Remica. Her extremely cute picture and the book cover are below, and her bio is below that.

Photo courtesy of Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Remica L. Bingham, a native of Phoenix, Arizona, received her MFA from Bennington College. She has attended the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshops and is a Cave Canem fellow. In addition to other journals, her work has been featured in New Letters, Crab Orchard Review, and Essence. She is the recipient of the 2005 Hughes, Diop, Knight Poetry Award and was nominated for a 2005 Pushcart Prize. Her first book, Conversion, won the Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Prize and was published by Lotus Press in 2007, and was a finalist for the Hurston/Wright Award for Poetry. A book of her poems, The Seams of Memory will be translated into Arabic and published in 2010 in conjunction with the Kalima Project. Currently, she is the Writing Competency Coordinator at Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Virginia.

Join me next Tuesday at 4:45pm EST, y’all, for “You Gotta Read This” with Remica L. Bingham!

*HUSTLE ALERT* January 30th/31st Deadlines!

We already know the holidays are over. To use my Negro Dialect, it’s done been time for you to start thinking about submissions.  But I know if I let you know about deadlines too far in advance, some of y’all will  just forget all about them. (Come on now, be honest).

For those out there who have a creative relationship with time, here are some deadlines that have January 31st postmark deadlines. That would be Sunday. A couple have February 1st deadlines, but let’s just pretend they are due by January 31st, too. Because would it kill you to get something in the mail a day early, and then be at work bright and early Monday morning? It ain’t your birthday next week, is it?

So get yourself down to that post office or set yourself in front of a computer with high speed internet BY SATURDAY MORNING. I say this with so much love.

I’ll see you early next week. And if you can’t be good this weekend, then be good at it.

Postmark Deadlines

Chattahoochee Review Lamar York Prize

Deadline: January 31, 2010

www.chattahoochee-review.org

A prize of $1,000 and publication in Chattahoochee Review is given annually for an essay. All entries are considered for publication. Submit an essay of up to 5,000 words with a $12 entry fee, which includes a one-year subscription to Chattahoochee Review, by January 31. Send an SASE or visit the Web site for complete guidelines.

Iowa Review Iowa Review Awards

Deadline: January 31, 2010

www.iowareview.org

Three prizes of $1,000 each and publication in Iowa Review are given annually for works of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. Brenda Hillman will judge in poetry, Michael Cunningham will judge in fiction, and Jo Ann Beard will judge in creative nonfiction. Submit up to 10 pages of poetry or up to 20 pages of prose with a $20 entry fee by January 31. Visit the Web site for complete guidelines.

Ohio State University Press Prize in Short Fiction

Deadline: January 31, 2010

www.ohiostatepress.org

A prize of $1,500 and publication by Ohio State University Press is given annually for a collection of short fiction. Submit a manuscript of 150 to 300 pages of short stories, novellas, or a combination of the two with a $20 entry fee during the month of January. Send an SASE or visit the Web site for complete guidelines.

Madison Review Poetry and Fiction Prizes

Deadline: February 1, 2010

www.english.wisc.edu/madisonreview

Two prizes of $1,000 each are given annually for a group of poems and a short story. The editors of Madison Review will judge. For the Phyllis Smart Young Prize in Poetry, submit three poems totaling no more than 10 pages. For the Chris O’Malley Prize in Fiction, submit a story of up to 35 pages. The entry fee for both awards is $10, and the deadline is February 1. Send an SASE, e-mail, or visit the Web site for complete guidelines.

Salem College International Literary Awards

Deadline: February 1, 2010

www.salem.edu/go/cww

Three prizes of $1,200 each will be given annually for a poem, a short story, and a work of creative nonfiction. Leslie Adrienne Miller will judge in poetry, Lee Martin in fiction, and Janet Burroway in creative nonfiction. Submit up to two poems of no more than 100 lines each or up to 5,000 words of prose with a $15 entry fee by February 1. E-mail or visit the Web site for complete guidelines.

Online Submissions

Glimmer Train Press Very Short Fiction Award

Deadline: January 31, 2010

www.glimmertrain.org

A prize of $1,200 and publication in Glimmer Train Stories is given biannually for a short story. Submit a story of up to 3,000 words with a $15 entry fee by January 31. Visit the Web site for complete guidelines.

University of New Orleans Writing Contest for Study Abroad

Deadline: January 31, 2010

www.unopress.org/writingcontest

Three prizes to attend the writing program at the Ezra Pound Center for Literature in Dorf Tirol, Italy, or the Writing Workshops in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, are given annually to a poet, a fiction writer, and a creative nonfiction writer. Writers who have not published a book of 45 pages or more in the genre in which they are applying are eligible. The award includes full tuition and lodging, and the winning works are published in the Pinch. The editors of the Pinch will judge. Using the online submission system, submit up to three poems totaling no more than five pages or up to 4,500 words of prose with a $25 entry fee by January 31. Visit the Web site for complete guidelines.

My New Podcast: Everyday People. Fabulous Books. Regular Talk.

Hey Y’all:

Don’t forget to join me tomorrow at 7:30pm Eastern–which, by the way, is 4:30pm Pacific, 5:30pm Mountain, and 6:30pm Central–for MY VERY FIRST PODCAST EVER with Heidi Durrow, the author of The Girl Who Fell From the Sky, out right now from Algonquin Books. You need to cop that book right now. Here’s another cute pic of the front cover:

Isn’t that a great cover? And guess what? This podcast is Heidi’s VERY FIRST INTERVIEW FOR HER NEW BOOK! Here’s an intro to The Girl Who Fell From The Sky:

“This coming-of-age story was chosen by Barbara Kingsolver for the 2008 Bellwether Prize for Fiction. Part love story, part mystery, this haunting tale is the story of Rachel, the daughter of a black G.I. and a Danish immigrant. The lone family survivor of a terrible tragedy, Rachel goes to live with her distant African-American grandmother.  As she struggles to overcome her sorrow, she must also make sense of a new racial identity in her new home where she is considered “light-skinned-ed.” As the story builds to its startling revelation, you’re drawn in by the masterfully woven tapestry of characters and always taken by the singular voice of Rachel as she struggles against society’s ideas of race, class and beauty.”

And here’s what the publishing powers-that-be are saying about Miss Heidi’s book:

“Top Ten Promising Debut” and “Taut prose, a controversial conclusion and the thoughtful reflection on racism and racial identity resonate without treading into political or even overtly specific agenda waters, as the story succeeds as both a modern coming-of-age and relevant social commentary. “—Publishers Weekly

“Like a good mystery, this book builds to the startling revelation. [O]ne can’t help but be drawn in by these characters and by the novel’s exploration of race and identity.”—Library Journal

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky is that rare thing: a post-postmodern novel with heart that weaves a circle of stories about race and self-discovery into a tense and sometimes terrifying whole.”—Ms. Magazine

“Top 10 Book of 2010” and “a book you will hold to your heart!”–Boston Herald

Doesn’t this all sound completely sassy? Don’t you want to know more about this fabulous book? Well, then, click on this link at 7:30pm EASTERN for the live podcast on TalkShoe–or scroll down on the right side of this page, and find the very cute BLUE TalkShoe badge and click there.

Y’all know you want to hear all about the book, and about Heidi’s writing journey, and hear my sweet, southern voice ask her questions–so “see” you tomorrow!

You Gotta Read This: I'm Podcasting With Heidi Durrow, Y'all!

Photo by Timothi Jane Graham

Hey Good People:

I am starting a new podcast for my “You Gotta Read This” feature! I’m so excited about it! You can probably tell that from all the exclamation points!

My very first podcast will take place on TUESDAY, JANUARY 26, AT 7:30PM EASTERN STANDARD TIME, and it will be with Heidi Durrow, the author of the just released THE GIRL WHO FELL FROM THE SKY. Here’s her official bio below:

Heidi Durrow is a graduate of Stanford, Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism and Yale Law School. She is the co-founder and co-producer of the Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival, and co-host of the award-winning podcast Mixed Chicks Chat.  Her debut novel, The Girl Who Fell From the Sky (Algonquin Books), about a young biracial girl’s coming-of-age, was chosen by Barbara Kingsolver for the Bellwether Prize for Fiction, and is available in bookstores now.

But we will be far from “official” on the podcast.  My podcast theme is “Everyday People. Fabulous Books. Regular Talk.” Y’all know that my dream is to connect average folks with “literary” writing, to take the mystery out of it, and let people know, don’t be scared of books. It’s all good.

Whether we are practicing and/or aspiring writers or whether we are people who just like to read good books but who don’t write ourselves, we all connect in some way, don’t we?

And further, you don’t have to be stuffy all the time to be smart, do you? Can’t you be sassy and cool and brilliant–all at the same time? I think so. Not to sound conceited, but I try to rep the sassy/cool/brilliant model everyday. This is a jump-back-and-kiss- myself statement, I know, but I stand behind it.

This podcast is the beginning of my bringing my dream to reality. So join Heidi and me for this sassy, cool happening next Tuesday! We’re podcasting live, but if you miss it, you can hear the recording. The link is below or you can just click the cute TalkShoe badge on the right. (You might have to scroll down a little bit once you move your cursor to the right).

http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/74641

You’ll find out some things you never knew about the writing world! Hope to see you on Tuesday, January 26 at 7:30pm EST!

Wake Up Everybody on Haiti and Click on This

I’m sorry if you’ve checked my blog in the past couple of days and were disappointed by the lack of information on the recent earthquake in Haiti. Frankly, I’ve just been emotionally devastated by what happened, and I cannot even begin to wonder what folks who are from Haiti are going through. Let alone what the folks who are IN Haiti are going through.

And plus, when I’m talking to people, they will laugh at something I’ve said and I haven’t even meant to be funny.  This happens all the time. I haven’t wanted to be humorous about the tragedy in Haiti  and end up saying something inappropriate.

I feel sad. But I also know that much of what I’m feeling has to do with a collective feeling of sadness and reignited trauma that many people of African descent feel when we see other  Sistren and Brethren of the Diaspora suffering. Whenever we see groups of black people having a bad time, we feel that bad time with them. I felt the same way when I saw the tragedies on TV in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Angry. Very sad. Extremely powerless.

In the case of Haiti, I do know  the United States government has some failed policies in that country, and they are many and varied, and you can also blame the U.S. for horrible political shenanigans that we have caused in the country as well. So although there’s really only one Entity you can blame for an earthquake, still you can blame the U.S. for the fact that there’s a crisis of political leadership within Haiti right now.

By the way, no, Pat Robertson, this earthquake is not a result of a pact that Haiti made with the Devil.

You know, a preacher I knew used to say that, in the case of entering the ministry, “Some are called. Some are sent. And some are sent by they mama.” This is a well-known saying in our community, but I never knew why until this day.

Pat Robertson’s mother packed him a ham sandwich and then dropped him off at Divinity School in her station wagon. When what she really needed to have done is use her birth control in the first place.

If he can say what he said, then I can say what I want to say, too.

So, yes, I said it. It had to be said.

What we are doing now–and by “we,” I mean black people–is waiting to see if Obama is really a Stone-Cold Brother with a Big “B”, or just a lowercase brother when he needs the Negro vote. He seems to have leaped into action on Haiti, and so, I am proud that I can call him Brother with a Big “B”, even if I don’t always agree with his other policies. I reserve the right to wait for the “Stone Cold” part, however.

Surely, there are some particular black folks in our midst who don’t feel personally involved in all aspects of black folks around the globe. And I don’t criticize those particular folks. I understand where the impulse comes from. But the connection I feel to other  black people is strong. It’s not just strong. It’s visceral.

That’s why I’m asking black folks to give what you can to aid organizations that are helping Haiti. I’ve given a bit–and it’s just a bit, when you put it next to the dollars that are needed to help and then, to rebuild. But anything you give is better than nothing.

And, I’m not trying to be funny here–I’m dead serious– but considering what we black women spend on our hair, and what black men spend on their cars, and what we all spend to eat out on the weekends, and downloading music from ITunes, shame on you–I mean, SHAME ON YOU, if you can’t give at least $5.

An easy way is to give money to the Red Cross. You can simply text “Haiti” to 90999. Your phone company will charge you $10. I did it and it’s very easy. They send you a confirmation text back.

Click the link below to hear a song (via ITunes; I just couldn’t figure it out today, sorry y’all) that will get you motivated about your responsibilities if you are member of the black community. It’s by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, with dear Teddy Pendergrass singing lead. He just passed–yet another reason for my sadness. (Thanks to one of my Facebook friends who posted this song on Facebook when she let us know about Teddy’s passing. I don’t want to violate her privacy, so I won’t give her name.)

01 Wake Up Everybody

Now that you’ve listened to the song, let’s refocus on what white folks should be doing to help Haiti.

The race thing rears its head at times like these. For example, I have noticed that many of my white Facebook friends have been pretty quiet about the Haiti thing when they post status updates.

So I can guess that of my white Facebook friends who haven’t commented on Haiti, more than a few feel a bit hesitant to talk when tragedy impacts black folks. They don’t want to seem presumptuous and intrusive on our collective black grief.

But if you’re a white American, now’s the time to say something. Because…well, I don’t know how else to say it: Do I really need to remind you about your responsibilities in the midst of this tragedy? I know y’all felt like electing a black president was going to cancel out hundreds of years of European-American atrocities committed by white folks.

It’s a start, but not really, baby. I’m not trying to be mean. I’m just being real.

So no, I really don’t want to read today or for the next few days on Facebook about how delicious the pumpkin bread is that you made (or something else to that effect). You know what? I really don’t give a tinker’s damn–to quote Melvin Tolson–about your baking skills.

An estimated forty thousand people have died in our back yard. Forty thousand.

If you can’t say something important in this difficult time, just enjoy your pumpkin bread in silence. Because it just looks rude and insensitive for you to be acting like something sad in Haiti hasn’t happened, and I know you don’t mean to be that rude and insensitive. I KNOW YOU DON’T. All y’all bakers feel horrified about what happened, too. I KNOW YOU DO.

And so, if you don’t know what to say, how about posting that? Just say, “I just don’t know what to say about the horrible earthquake  in Haiti. I’m just speechless.” And that will get it. At least, it will let us know you are sensitive to our pain.

Again, I’m really not trying to be humorous or funny. I’m really not. My point is that when bad times hit us in our own hemisphere and those bad times involve black folk, it’s time for white folks to remember that the only way to put past bad history to rest is to create good history now. It’s just that simple. Now is not the time to say, “What you looking at me for? I wasn’t even alive back then.”

But guess what, many industries built upon slave trade were alive then, and still are. Like the insurance industry. So if you’re wondering why these insurance [insert plural expletive noun] are so shady now, just look back a couple hundred years for that answer. And guess where one of the first stops on the transatlantic slave route was? The Caribbean. And guess where Haiti is located?

Any light bulbs going off right about now? Lord Jesus, I hope so, because I just can’t be pithy and breezy today. Maybe another day, but not today.

If you’re white and reading this blog, I think you know your responsibilities already, so please just share that information with other white folks who aren’t as enlightened as you are. Share with all those bakers of pumpkin bread.

And please know that anything I say is not to beat you up as a white person, but said in love because you are my Sistren and Brethren, too. Because there are a lot of white volunteers in Haiti doing that hard work– while I am here in front of my computer screen sitting in comfort–and God bless each and every one of those white folks who are doing that good work. Bless them in the highest way. Y’all know I mean it.

Now, here are a few pertinent links.

We all know that President Bush did a phenomenally wretched job in handing the Hurricane Katrina efforts. He has so many cool points to make up with God, I don’t know if it’s possible for him to do so in three lifetimes. But I’m always willing to forgive somebody, even if I will never be a Republican and can’t understand why anyone else would want to be. It takes all kinds to make the world going spinning round and round and then eventually off its axis, I suppose. Well, President Obama has met with President Bush and President Clinton and has called on them to lead Haitian aid efforts. Here’s the story.

There’re been some issues with Wyclef Jean’s organization, Yéle Haiti, but I am not going to hate on that brother’s efforts until the final word is in. Because I believe his heart is in the right place. I gave a  money to his foundation and I feel like whatever happens to the money I gave, I offered it with good intentions. However, if you want to check on any charity’s financial status and business dealings, here’s a link to the Better Business Bureau’s page on charities.

And here is a link to an article in the Washington Post, giving the names of a few other aid organizations besides the Red Cross and Yéle Haiti. And also, the article discusses issues to consider to when you want to contribute to Haitian aid organizations or to do something on your own.

And finally, look, even if you’re completely flat broke now, it don’t cost nothing to pray. And for those people who don’t believe in God, just send good thoughts. I sincerely believe that good energy (whatever its source) adds up, y’all.

However, as far as “me, myself, personally”–as we used to say back at Booker T. Washington High School when I was a student there–I believe and love a mighty God, regardless of the hurricanes, earthquakes, or Pat Robertsons S/he throws humanity’s way. I am unashamed to tell y’all that.

Now, I can’t understand Her/Him all the time. And I don’t agree with Her/His actions all the time, either. And sometimes, I get so mad at God I can’t see straight. But the love is always there.

So I hope I have translated this right (into Creole), when I say, to our Haitian Brethren and Sistren in need, suffering, and struggle:

“Nou sonje-w chak jou. Nou leve-w nan priye nou.”

We think of you everyday. We include you in our prayers.

Fall Back Just a Little Bit–And Click on This

Beloved people, I have not forgotten you. It’s just that I have a very tight deadline that I am working on, and syllabi for my classes that start right up after King Day (as we called it when I was growing up in Atlanta), and in the meantime, I’m trying to keep up with writing everyday. And by “writing everyday” I mean writing on my novel. Poetry just comes whenever, thank the Creator, but as the novelist Paule Marshall once told me, you must possess a certain cussedness to finish a novel.

Finishing has become more complicated since an (unnamed) former friend/former mentee of mine “inadvertently” used a really unusual character name and a couple of minor plot lines in a PUBLISHED novel that I used in my UNPUBLISHED novel-in-progress. It wasn’t the same exact piece of writing, no. But it just makes a bit harder for me because when/if I ever finish my novel and try to publish it, someone will tell me, “Oh, don’t you think that’s a bit too similar to such and such novel?” And of course, it’s a bit strange and upsetting since I shared my work with this person.

Yes, of course it occurred to me that I was being paranoid. But see, I published an excerpt–with that same unusual character name and those same secondary plot lines–in Story Quarterly five years ago and this person told me, “I really loved your story in Story Quarterly.” So I knew the person had, like, read my story in Story Quarterly, ok?

I could go on, but if I did, you might just figure out who I was talking about. And I’m not trying to salt the ground someone stands on. Sometimes, I wish I were that mean, but you know, karma and all that good stuff. I’m not that nice of a person, really, but one day maybe I, too, will inadvertently pass off the ideas of someone else as my own, and will need sympathy–although I hope I go into a deep, unresponsive coma right after it happens so I won’t know it. I wake up in the middle of the night with that particular fear. I mean, it’s right up there with the naked in the cafeteria dream.

But I will be blogging about this issue in depth at a later date–without mentioning the person’s name, gender, or novel title–because “borrowing” disguised as artistic license is something I’ve heard too many creative writers of all races complain about, and since you cannot copyright names or plot lines–only the actual words–you can’t sue. And even if you could, who wants to sue a former friend you used to share laughter and secrets with, somebody you really loved? It’s depressing even to think about.

I thought long and hard about whether to say anything; you know, people are always saying to me, “Honorée, you should take the high road.” Of course, they always say that when they want me to lie down and let somebody stomp on me while I keep a smile on my face.

So picture my smiling beatifically, just like Aunt Jemima with a press and curl. And now, also picture my not sharing any more of my novel-in-progress with anyone but my mama ever again. because this is the third time this has happened to me–and by the way, all three writers were black/African American/Negro if Senator Reid is looking at them. I mean, dang.

It’s different with poetry, since I have a little bit of reputation in that field, and my fingerprints are clearly all over any poem I’ve written, but two of those other writers who “borrowed” from me were also poets. This was way, way back in the day.

As for that poor Senator Reid, this last couple of days have been crazy for him, haven’t they? Now, a lot of folks–black, white and other– have just climbed up his butt and pitched a summer camp, complete with a fire and white kids clasping hands around it, singing “Kumbaya” while someone strums softly on a guitar. Or “Go Down, Moses,” or “Mary, Don’t You Weep,” or some other traditional, African American song.

Yes, my dear, white friends who went to Camp Appropriated Native American Name every summer, Kumbaya is a black song. Who knew? I did, but I bet they didn’t tell you that when they were passing out marshmallows, sticks and spraying you down with Off.

Oh Senator Reid. If only you had remembered “Negro Dialect” is now called “vernacular!”

Say what you will about me–and stop trying to snatch my black passport–but I feel kind of sorry for this man. There have been a lot of changes in America in the past fifty years, and he is really old. It’s hard to keep up. And it’s not like he said something we weren’t all thinking in the black community anyway. (You know you were thinking that! Come on now, be honest!) Here’s a link to an article on The Root that breaks down the whole Senator Reid thing.

I like to let old folks slide, as long as they aren’t being mean and hateful, just forgetful. So my Enraged Black Brethren and Sistren, might we save our anger for Rush Limbaugh and Them and live to fight a real battle another day, instead of a manufactured one? Can you still pay your light bill after Senator Reid said “Negro dialect”? Alright then. Fall back just a little.

How about we take the actual high road–and make fun of this old guy’s politically incorrect missteps behind his back? That’s how they did it in my Negro family when I was growing up.

Former Illinois Governor Blogojevitch claims that he is blacker than Obama because he shined shoes as a child. I guess he’s blacker than me, too, because I pay somebody to cute my shoes up for me just like Barack. It’s bizarre, but what do you expect? Have you seen this man’s hair?

Ok, I don’t have much to say about this, but it seems that my beloved old black folk are right: we really are living in the last days like the Bible said because UTAH HAS ELECTED ITS FIRST BLACK MAYOR. And I don’t think she shined shoes as a kid, either, but I have to check on that.

Gina Athena Ulysse, a wonderful scholar who teaches at Wesleyan University, has a fascinating article on Huffington Post about voudou–that’s voodoo for the uninitiated–and the movie Avatar. It’s deep, y’all. She goes places that you never thought of, and then, once she says it, you wonder why it wasn’t instantly obvious to you.

Brown Girl Speaks has a reading challenge for people who want to read books written by members of the African Diaspora. And if you’re reading my blog, I would assume that includes you. And there are some sexy books on the list. Not sexy like lingerie, but sexy like fabulous and interesting. I signed up for it; I mean, it was sort of required, given my profession.

And finally, remember I told y’all about getting your hustle on? This month, Carleen Brice has challenged us to write for 32 days; she was inspired by an essay by author Ann Patchett.

It’s eleven days into January, but it’s never too late to begin. You need to be writing everyday. I am, but listen, it’s not easy, so don’t think I am bragging. At first it was so hard. But now, I just keep my Moleskine in bed with me, and every morning, I roll over while it’s still dark, write for an hour, and then I might roll back over and go to sleep again or I might actually get up and do something. Yesterday morning, I actually got up and did something after I wrote. I ate breakfast, I wrote for my deadline, I sent emails I had been procrastinating on, I cleaned up my house, and then, I worked out. That writing really cleared the sinuses.

But even when I don’t do anything after I write, I feel sassy all day long because at least I did what I set out to do. Not what I set out to do each morning. I mean, what I set out to do with my life.