Saturday, July 28, 2012

Secrets, Memories, and History - A Selection of Books

There were award-winning, established authors as well as first time authors at our sorority conference; they were there at booths in our vendor area, along with our beautiful pink & green paraphernalia, and as presenters for some of our workshops and forums. In between going to our business sessions and eating my way across San Francisco, I had a chance to talk with a few of them.

ReShonda Tate Billingsley, a bestselling and award winning author, was a attending as a presenter in the forum on the entertainment business and promoting her new book, The Secret She Kept. We spoke about her first book and the efforts of getting it published. As any aspiring writer knows, once you've written your next best novel and contribution to literature, you've got to get it published. She explained the challenge of getting through the slush pile, when an editor may have months- worth of reading piled up in manuscripts. There are some advantages of self-publishing, as she had done with her first novel, which really requires you to put in the work to market it and get the book in the hands of your audience. Once she established commercial success with that, she was noticed and picked up by a publisher. Look for her on tour with her latest.

On the other end of their writing career was Antoinette Lawrence and Terry Lewis. They have just published their first children's book, I Remember, a sweet book about a girl remembering the things she's done with her grandmother.  The pictures are bright and well-drawn and the type is a fun, bouncy lettering that is easy to read and kids will enjoy; it's about a K or 1st grade reading level. The appeal for African-American parents is having a fun, early level reading book with characters that look like your child. The authors are also working on another book about a boy and girl who travel around the world - and no, the authors are not siblings, but yes, they have themselves traveled globally and their experiences will be the basis for some of the adventures. They are from Maryland and will be presenting again at the Baltimore Book Festival in September. (I'm putting it on my calendar to make this annual literary event.)

Stretching into a different direction, non-fiction, there was Anne Pruitt-Logan  who was presenting, Faithful to the Task at Hand, an autobiography of Lucy Diggs Slowe, one of our sorority founders. She was there with her son and they explained the interesting way she came upon this project. The original author,  Carroll Miller, was a student of Slowe and inspired by her achievements in educations and sports, wanted to memorialize her in an autobiography.  During the writing of the manuscript, he became ill, and asked Ms. Pruitt-Nelson to assist him in editing the book. She edited his portions and then did more research in Slowe's life and history, and added more to the story.  During this writing process, the first author passed away and Ms. Pruitt-Nelson was left with completing the book. And now, after years of research and writing, we have our first biography of one of our organization founders, an African-American pioneer in many arenas - an educator, college administrator, and a title-winning tennis player (one of my favorite sports). This book is available thru SUNY Press and Amazon.  

Thanks to the authors for taking a few moments from their busy booths to talk to me about their books.  Enjoy! 

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