Author Archives: Troy

About Troy

Troy D. Johnson is the President, founder and webmaster of AALBC.com, LLC (The African American Literature Book Club). Launched in March of 1998, AALBC.com has grown to become the largest and most frequently visited website dedicated to books and films by and about people of African descent.

Celebrating the Best in Black Literature (May 31, 2016 Newsletter)

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Books to be Published in JuneBooks to be published in June

Summer will heat up with some great new titles. Walter Mosley is back with his latest installment in the Easy Rawlins series, Charcoal Joe. Can you believe it has been 25 years since the first book in the series, Devil In A Blue Dress, was published?

We are also excited by the first novel, The Reactive, from Masande Ntshanga who is the winner of the 2013 PEN International New Voices Award, as well as a Finalist for the 2015 Caine Prize for African Writing.

Bobby Brown, with help from acclaimed author Nick Chiles, reveals intimate details of his marriage to Whitney Houston, speaks about losing his daughter Bobbi Kristina, and shares insights into his amazing career in his new memoir,Every Little Step: My Story.

Also look out for new books from other AALBC.com Bestselling authors including Kimberla Lawson Roby (A Sinful Calling) and Timothy George (The Dagger). To discover these and other great soon to be released books, visit our Books Coming Soon section.


AALBC.com Bestselling Books

The publishing company founded by authors ReShonda Tate Billingsley and Victoria Christopher Murray, Brown Girls Books, dominated our bestsellers list this period, claiming the top three fiction positions. Our #1 fiction bestseller, The Ex Chronicles is an anthology where 20 writers share relationship stories. At #2 we have The Perfect Find by Tia Williams and completing the trifecta is Dirt by Teffanie Thompson.

Congratulations to Brown Girls Books and all of the bestselling authors. Check out our full list bestselling titles for fiction, nonfiction, poetry and children’s literature.


Beyond Phillis Wheatley — Important Firsts In Black Literature

Phillis Wheatley Most readers know Phillis Wheatley was the first published African-American female poet. Did you also know that George Moses Horton (ca. 1797-1883), was the only man to publish volumes of poetry while in bondage and the first African American to publish any book in the South? Were your familiar with Solomon Plaatje who was born October 9, 1876, and was the author of Mhudi which was published in 1930; making it the first novel by a black South Africa?

Jupiter Hammon, who was born on October 17, 1711, was perhaps the first Black person to be published, in 1761 before the United States was even formed.


The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain

Langston Hughes“One of the most promising of the young Negro poets said to me once, “I want to be a poet—not a Negro poet,” meaning, I believe, “I want to write like a white poet;” meaning subconsciously, “I would like to be a white poet;” meaning behind that, “I would like to be white.” And I was sorry the young man said that, for no great poet has ever been afraid of being himself. And I doubted then that, with his desire to run away spiritually from his race, this boy would ever be a great poet. But this is the mountain standing in the way of any true Negro art in America—this urge within the race toward whiteness, the desire to pour racial individuality into the mold of American standardization, and to be as little Negro and as much American as possible.“—Langston Hughes, Originally published in The Nation magazine, June 23, 1926

This ninety-year-old article could be been written yesterday; read it in its entirety.


The 2016 Black Pack Party: A Wonderful Celebration!A collage of the 2016 Black Pack party in Chicago

The 2016 Black Pack Party was a really wonderful celebration. Read my thoughts about the event. If you were able to join us in Chicago, please share your thoughts and photos in the article’s comments section.


Events Coming in June

BAM Anniversary

Summer is the busiest period for book festivals. In June the Go On Girl! Book Club will host their 25th Annual Awards Weekend. The international literary festival Calabash will kick off in Jamaica; Chris Abani, Paul Beatty, Teju Cole, Nicole Dennis-Benn, jessica Care moore, Marlon James and many other authors will be featured. The Sacramento Black Book Fair will celebrate their third year. And that is just the first week!

Also consider checking out the, AAMBC Literary Awards and the combined celebration honoring the 50th Anniversary of the Black Arts Movement and the 20th Anniversary of Cave Canem (pictured above). Learn more about these events and all the others coming in June and the rest of the year.


A Great Deal to Promote Your Books on AALBC.com

Promote Your Books with Large Book Cover Advertisement and Horizontal Ad BannersOur Large Book Cover Advertisement and Horizontal Ad Banners appear on virtually every one of the several thousand AALBC.com web pages. Plus, each author whose book is promoted with this very prominent placement also receives a free Author Profile. If you already have an Author Profile, we’ll extend your campaign by two weeks.

With this deal, your AALBC.com Author Profile will give you a permanent, high profile web presence, which is great if your only presence is social media. Plus the highly visible placement of your advertisement will expose your book to over 100,000 avid readers of African American Literature. Learn more about this terrific deal.

Also consider Sponsoring our Monthly Newsletter. This is a great way to reach readers of Black literature. All of our mailings are permanently archived on our website.


Dear Reader,

AALBC.com celebrates 18 years!Authors and publishers, here is a great way to support AALBC.com without spending a dime: Use our affiliate code when sending readers to Amazon to purchase your book.

The vast majority of the time when links to Amazon are shared with me, no affiliate code is a used. This means money is being left on the table. Why forego that revenue?

Here is the format for the link:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/1617737984/ref=nosim?tag=aalbccom-20
Simply replace you book’s ISBN10 or ASIN with the boldface number in the URL above. It is that easy!

As always, thanks for reading!

Peace & Love,
Troy Johnson


You may receive messages like this directly in your email-box by subscribing. It may also be read on your Kindle ebook reader, or any device by downloading a PDF version.  Enjoy our previous eNewsletters and consider sponsoring our eNewsletter or a dedicated mailing.

AALBC.com eNewsletter – May 31, 2016 – Issue #234

Anita Hemmings, the First Black Student to Attend Vassar College

The-gilded-yearsKarin Tanabe’s gripping new historical novel, The Gilded Years (Washington Square Press, June 7, 2016) is based on the true story of Anita Hemmings, the first black student to attend Vassar College. With “spot on” dialogue and “narration reminiscent of novels of the 1890s” (Anna Jean Mayhew, author of The Dry Grass of August), Tanabe has crafted a tonally masterful yet supremely relevant narrative on race, women’s rights, and the challenges of finding one’s place in the world.

Since childhood, Anita Hemmings has longed to attend Vassar, the country’s most exclusive school for women. Now, a bright, beautiful senior in the class of 1897, she is hiding a secret that would have banned her from admission: she is the only African-American student ever to attend the college. With her olive complexion and dark hair, she has successfully passed as white for three years, but now finds herself rooming with Louise “Lottie” Taylor, the scion of one of New York’s most prominent families.

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Anita Hemmings (Archives & Special Collections, Vassar College Library)

Pulled into Lottie’s elite world, Anita learns what it’s like to be treated as a wealthy, educated white woman—the person everyone believes her to be—and even finds herself in a relationship with a moneyed Harvard man. With this closeness comes trouble, however, as Anita faces what it truly means to pass: the guilt of betraying her family, of lying to her friends, of cutting herself off from her community in exchange for an education. As Anita’s relationships with Lottie and her affluent classmates grow closer, she must make the near impossible decision of whether to choose the love of a man who can open doors she could not reach on her own, or to be true to her heritage and return home to her family after graduation, leaving the ease of white society behind in favor of a different sort of freedom.

Set against the vibrant backdrop of the Gilded Age, an era when old money traditions collided with modern ideas, Tanabe has written an unputdownable and emotionally compelling story of hope, sacrifice, and betrayal. The Gilded Years is a riveting account of how one woman dared to risk everything for the chance at a better life (Hemmings Photo Credit: Archives & Special Collections, Vassar College Library).


“An utterly captivating narrative that kept me turning pages late into the night.”–Kathleen Grissom, New York Times bestselling author ofThe Kitchen House

“Karin Tanabe limns the tensions of a young woman’s desire to participate fully in a world in which she doesn’t dare reveal her full self…Most impressive are the characters’ emotional complexity; Tanabe understands that human relations are never so simple as black and white.”
–Christina Schwarz, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“This engaging novel, set in a time of conflict between old money and new ideas, captures both the bravery and the heartbreak of Anita’s decision…Readers won’t soon forget Anita Hemmings or the choices she made.”
–BookPage

“In Anita’s captivating story, heightened by richly drawn characters, Tanabe insightfully grapples with complex and compelling issues.”
–Booklist

news-karin-tanabeKarin Tanabe is the author of the novels The List and The Price of Inheritance. The Gilded Years is her third novel. A former Politicoreporter and a frequent contributor to The Huffington Post, her work has also appeared in publications including The Washington Post,The Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald,Newsday, The Philadelphia Inquirer and in the anthology Crush: Writers Reflect on Love, Longing and the Lasting Power of Their First Celebrity Crush. She lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband and daughter.

Visit her web site: http://www.karintanabe.com


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Enjoy,
Troy Johnson
AALBC.com’s, Founder and Webmaster

black-pack-party-collage-2016

The 2016 Black Pack Party: A Wonderful Celebration!

The 10th Black Pack Party, like all the others, was a wonderful celebration.  Hosted during Book Expo America each year, the Black Party Party is an annual celebration where Black book publishing professionals, writers, and avid readers come together to celebrate each other and have a good time.

This year’s party was held in Chicago, IL and is only the 2nd time it was held outside of Harlem, NY (the 3rd anniversary celebration was held in Los Angeles, CA).  The following are just a few highlights from the evening from my perspective.

“Cynique” and Troy

I’ve moderated discussion forums on AALBC.com for almost 18 years. About 12 years ago a writer using the alias “Cynique” began contributing.  She is a brilliant commentator, with a sharp wit and and insight informed by both great-grandmotherly wisdom and a new age sensibility.  She is cynical, a contrarian, and never backs down from a debate.  She is one reason I enjoy the forums.  Given the stiff competition put up by social media “Cynique” is one reason the discussion forums are still alive.   Several years ago, I renamed one of our discussion forums after her, “Cynique’s Corner.”  Well after more than 12 years of a cyber-relationship I had the pleasure of finally meeting Connie Bradley a.k.a “Cynique” for the first time!  It was like meeting a super star.

Troy-and-Kai-bpp-2016

Here I’m with Kai EL’Zabar who is the Executive Editor of The Chicago Defender. Kai, teamed up with us to co-host this year’s party she selected the venue, Norman’s Bistro on Chicago’s South Side and helped promote the event.  As executive editor of one of the most important Black owned newspapers in the country, Kai is a powerful women.  I’m looking forward to working with her more closely.  She recognizes the importance of ensuring we own platforms and continue to tell our own stories.  Kai recently published an article on The Defender’s website, “Blacks Showcase at Book Expo 2016 In Chicago.”  Her coverage of our participation at book expo is so important because it tells the world we were there, we had an impact, and what we did mattered.

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In this shot from left to right is the author Q.B. Wells; me; award winning playwright, Tsehaye Geralyn Hébert; playwright, Ilesa Duncan; and Kevin Roberts owner of Azizi Bookstore (the physical store is now closed).

This was a fun table.  I already knew Kevin and Q.B., but this was the first time I met Tsehaye and Ilesa. They were both very interesting women.  Ilesa is the Pegasus Theatre Chicago’s artistic director and is adapting Charles Johnson’s Middle Passage. As mentioned Tsehaye is an award winning playwright and serves a playwright-in-residence at Chicago State University.  She is also the recipient of the New Voices and Visions Award (Louisiana State University) among others. Prestige and accomplishments aside these were just some really cool people.

blackfigterpilots

I had the pleasure of meeting author J. Marcellus Burke (pictured) and his publisher Bennett Johnson of Path Press. Bennnet who was previously Vice President at Third World Press, recently published Marcellus’ historical novel, The Black Knights.  The novel is a fact based story about four fighter pilots who served in the German Luftwaffe (Air Force).  I’m reading Burke’s novel now.

obari-troy2

Here, in the white framed spectacles, is Kwame Alexander, who is the author of The Crossover, which was awarded the 2015 Newbery Medal for Most Distinguished Contribution to American Literature for Children, has done more for Black books than I can relate in a single blog post. In fact, in 1998 he hosted an historic event called 360º A Revolution of Black Poets. He put me on my first panel discussion.  Kwame has always helped elevate AALBC.com from the very beginning.

On Kwame’s left is the the writer Earl Sewell.  Earl has published about 20 books, but more importantly he constantly supports other writers.  On Sewell’s left is Earl Cox. I first met Earl in the late 90s, when AALBC.com was in its infacncy.  As an industry professional Earl taught me a lot about the publishing industry and introduced me to several key publishing professionals. As an entrepreneur he and I have worked on a number of projects and continue to do so to this day. Crouching up from is Dr. Obari Cartman. I met Obari at the party and will definitely follow his work.  His first book, Lady’s Man: Conversations for Young Black Men about Relationships and Manhood has been praised by Na’im Akbar and Jawanza Kunjufu.

go-on-girl2Here are two ladies, Maya Smart and Tiki Massie, from one of my favorite book clubs, Go On Girl! Book Club, Inc.  The clubs boasts hundreds of members in chapters across the country.  The club is hosting their 25th Annual Awards in New Orleans this week (June 2 – 5, 2016).  I also work with Go On Girl! Book Club, Inc. in variety of ways.  Currently, I donate all profits from books sold on Go On Girl! Book Club’s reading list to charities support by the book club.

troy-and-lisaGo On Girl! was not the only book club present; Sistahs On The Reading Edge from Antioch, CA was there as well. The general public may know this club as the group who filed a racial discrimination lawsuit for damages as a result of an August 2015 incident in which the women were accused, of being too loud and removed from the train. But I know this group as a cohesive group of women who can be found at literary events across the country.  The club’s president and co-founder, Lisa Renee Johnson (pictured) is also a published author whose debut novel Dangerous Consequences was published in 2011. Lisa also actively works to help writers and entrepreneurs succeed.

Of course there were many more terrific book people at the event.  For example, author Asadah Kirkland, who runs The Soulful Chicago Book Fair (coming July 16, 2016), danced as if no one was watching.  Author and publisher Ivy Valentine Pate was there with her mom, Gwen Valentine. Publicist, Laini Brown whose clients include Bishop T.D. Jakes were among many others who enjoyed the festivities.

Most years we take a group photograph, but we skipped it this year. Without the benefit of photographer Marcia Wilson, who has taken all of the previous group shots, coordinating effort would have been more complicated and broken the flow of the evening. Hopefully others, who attended, will share their photos or post links, in the comments section below, and let us know how they enjoyed the event.

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Finally, I’d like to thank the other hosts of this year’s gathering, The African American Children’s Book Project (Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati), The Chicago Defender (Kai EL’Zabar), Linda Duggins, Mosaic (Ron Kavanaugh), Say It Loud! Readers & Writers (Patrick Oliver), and Written Magazine (Michelle Gipson).  You are all warriors in your respective fields.

Next year’s the party will be held in New York City.  The date will be Wednesday, May 31, 2017.  I hope to see you there!