Category Archives: AALBC.com News

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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

30+ Must Read Books – Something for Everyone

Our January 2016 eNewsletter was sponsored by author Russell A. Mabane.  Learn how you may sponsor an AALBC.com eNewsletter.

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Bestselling Books for November/December 2015

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Our bestsellers list has been published continuously since 1998. For several years we have published this list every two months, but the new website design allows us to publish our bestsellers list on a monthly basis—with greater ease. We are happy to have recently introduced a bestsellers list for children’s books, which was something our readers frequently requested. We are also in the process of creating, for the first time, our all-time bestselling books list. We still have more than 10 years of sales data to add, but you can monitor the progress of AALBC.com’s all-time bestselling books list.


Authors You Should Know

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Jason Reynolds

Jason knows there are a lot—A LOT—of people, young, old, and in-between, who hate reading. He knows that many o f these book haters are boys. He also knows that many of these book-hating boys, don’t actually hate books, they hate boredom. If you are reading this, and you happen to be one of these boys, first of all, you’re reading this Jason’s master plan is already working (muahahahahahaha) and second of all, know that Jason totally feels you. He REALLY does. Because even though he’s a writer, he hates reading boring books too.

So here’s what he plans to do: NOT WRITE BORING BOOKS.

Reynolds is on faculty at Lesley University, for the Writing For Young People MFA Program, and currently resides in Brooklyn, New York.


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T. Geronimo Johnson

Born and raised in New Orleans, Johnson is the bestselling author of Welcome to Braggsville, (longlisted for a National Book Award) and Hold It ‘Til It Hurts, a finalist for the 2013 PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction. He received his M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and his M.A. in language, literacy, and culture from UC Berkeley

Johnson’s Welcome to Braggsville (Penguin Books, Feb 17, 2015) is the winner of the 2015 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence.


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Fabienne Josaphat

Fabienne Josaphat received her M.F.A. in creative writing from Florida International University. Her short stories have appeared in various journals and magazines, including The Caribbean Writer and MiamiZine.

Here’s what Edwidge Danticat says about Josaphat debut novel, “Dancing in the Baron’s Shadow takes us to hell and back, inside one of the most brutal prisons run by one of the world’s most ruthless dictators. Fabienne Josaphat impressively brings to life a horrible period as well as the men and women who fought against it. Filled with life, suspense, and humor, this powerful first novel is an irresistible read about the nature of good and evil, terror and injustice, and ultimately triumph and love. ”


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Carole Boston Weatherford

The daughter of educators, award-winning poet Carole began writing in first grade. Today she is the author of numerous books, including the Carter G. Woodson award winning title, The Sound That Jazz Makes and most recently, Dear Mr. Rosenwald. Her writing covers such topics as jazz and photography, as well as the slavery, reconstruction and Jim Crow eras. When she’s not traveling or visiting museums, Carole is mining the past for family stories, fading traditions, and forgotten struggles. Coming from a family of educators, she has a passion for rescuing events and figures from obscurity by documenting American history.


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Eddie S. Glaude Jr.

Glaude is the William S. Tod Professor of Religion and African American Studies and the chair of the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University. He is the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, including the 2002 Modern Language Association William Sanders Scarborough Prize for his book Exodus! Glaude is on the editorial board of the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, African American National Biography, and Contemporary Pragmatism. Professor Glaude’s work also includes African American Religious Thought: An Anthology (2004) coedited with Cornel West.


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Marla Washington, PhD

Washington holds a doctorate degree in sociology. She is an expert on the subject matter of daddyless daughters. As a sociologist who grew up fatherless, she spent almost two decades charting her own dating experiences and collecting stories from other women. Dr. Washington realized they had the same common denominator, that is, they were all dating without any advice of a daddy or father figure.

In Dr. Washington’s book, Dating Without A Daddy: A Guide For Fatherless Women Looking For Love, she offers a unique perspective as to why some women find themselves in unhealthy romantic relationships.


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Shirley Perry-Church

Perry-Church is a devoted wife, proud parent, educator, author, and artist who dreamed about becoming a writer since she was a young girl. She is very excited to present to her parent and youth audience her first book, The Hunt for the Magic Pearl.

The goal of writing The Hunt for the Magic Pearl came as a result of teaching challenged 14 to 16 year old youths who were experiencing persistent difficulties in all levels of reading and writing. Perry-Church wanted to create fun, entertaining, and informative books that would spark imagination and creativity in youth who had often said to her, “Mrs. Church, I hate to read.”


Coretta Scott King Award Winning and Honored Books for 2016

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On January 11, 2016 the American Library Association (ALA) announced the top books, video, and audio books for children and young adults – including the Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, Newbery and Printz awards – at its Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits in Boston.

The Coretta Scott King Book Awards are given annually to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values. The award commemorates the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and honors his wife, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, for her courage and determination to continue the work for peace and world brotherhood.


Book Reviews

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For the Sake of Soul by Frederick K. Foote, Jr.

Sometimes short fiction can be a daunting task for the writer, especially when he decides to confront the challenges of plot, characterization, dialogue, and candor. Frederick K. Foote, a professor at California Community colleges and a traditional Black college in South Carolina, realizes this fact as he mines the details of his life for the printed page in his skillful short story collection, For The Sake Of Soul (Blue Nile Press, Oct 23, 2015). He knows his material well. He has lived it, so he understands if the reader can embrace his impressive imagination, then the tales of his ordinary men and women will grip his soul.

Comparisons to his work will be made to such stellar authors as Ernest Gaines, William Faulkner, Robert Penn Warren, Erskine Caldwell, and Robert Stone because of Foote’s effective use of time and place. He drops his people into the locales of the American South, central California, Vietnam in one of the significant time periods of the 1960s and 1970s. His vision is deceptively simple and authentic, and the overall effect is powerful. More


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The Summer of my Fifteenth Year by Geri Spencer Hunter

There are so many gems to be discovered in independent publishing. Every now and then, you come across the book that makes your mind sit up and take notice. If a writer wants to put his or her focus on a loathsome cultural issue that society would love to be shoved under the run, the editors of the established publishing world usually step over it and look elsewhere. This book’s author, Geri Spencer Hunter, a retired Public Health nurse and a great-grandmother, has written a gem and it should have published by one of the big reputable houses.

Why is incest so despicable? Why is it about this abhorrent form of sex that makes people cringe? In Hunter’s second novel, The Summer Of My Fifteenth Year (Blue Nile Press, Jun 5, 2015), she concentrates on the Netters, a wealthy Black family in a small Iowa town during the 1930s, and the return of the favored son, Charleston Epstein Netter. At present, Etta, now eighty-six, is recounting that summer that changed her life and shattered the calm of her family with a scandal that would sink most households. She sits in her favorite chair on the porch where she was born, telling her story into a tape recorder. More


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Dear Mary, Dear Luther: A Courtship in Letters by Jill Marie Snyder

Dear Mary, Dear Luther: A Courtship in Letters (AuthorHouse, Mar 5, 2015) is an epistolary love story of a 1930s courtship between Mary Brooks and Luther Snyder, the author’s parents. Their letters, which span from 1937 to 1940 tell not only their love story but they are also an insightful look at American and African American history.

Mary and Luther met in 1935 at a wedding in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. “After that first meeting, my father would frequently visit his aunt for a few minutes, then wander over to my mother’s front porch to spend hours chatting with her and her sister Sara. At first, they weren’t sure which sister was the attraction, but over time it became clear it was Mary.” More


Great Books Coming Out Soon

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If you are looking for a preview of great reads coming soon, check out our list of soon to be released books. You find a curated list of books that will be published in the next few months. You will discover new books from established authors, as well as terrific reads from debut authors.

If you are looking for a new book that you can read today, you may use our list of books published in the last two months. As with our soon to be released list of books, this is a hand picked list of books across genres that have been recommended by industry professionals, book clubs, booksellers and avid readers.


A Great Deal to Promote Your Book

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The Large Book Cover Advertisement Includes a Free Author Profile!

1. Free Author Profile
2. Large Book Cover Ads (or customized advertising banner ads) run on virtually all our web pages
3. Large Book Covers are very prominent on the page
4. Up to 2 Large Book Cover Ads may rotate in one of three available positions
5. Campaigns may start on any date and end at midnight 32 full days later.

The large book cover ad will be a key advertising unit on AALBC.com going forward. These ads perform very well. Bang for buck, you are unlikely to find a better way to reach readers of Black literature. Read this article to learn more about the large book cover ad type, and advertising in general.


Related Articles & News

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Ten Steps to Promote Diversity in Children‘s Literature

In October The New York Times released their list of the “Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2015.” They failed to include a single Black illustrator.

Just this month, Scholastic Press, published, defended, then ultimately pulled, due to public outrage, the racially insensitive children’s book, A Birthday Cake for George Washington.

Wade Hudson, president and CEO of Just Us Books, an independent publisher of children’s books has some solutions. Hudson has given us ten ways we can help increase the number of quality children’s books that celebrate diversity, and how we can support the diverse books already available, This is sage advice needed during a time when our culture is, at best, marginalized and, at worse, under assault. More


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Our Future is Cyberspace

“With the introduction of cyberspace, younger writers have the ability to reach audiences unheard of during the sixties when African American writers produced broadsides and saddle-stitched chapbooks. As access to cyberspace becomes less expensive, more voices will be heard and this period, the most prolific in the history of African American Literature, will rise to worldwide prominence, no longer having to obey the tastes of the outsiders in power or the dictates of the establishment-manufactured Talented Tenth.” —Ishmael Reed (Black Issues Book Review; November-December 1999)

After reading this again, over 16 years, later I couldn’t help but think that this vision has yet to be realized. I believe we have the potential—I’ve bet my future on it. However we have a long way to go, even to make up for the reversals over the last 10 years. I still miss Black Issues Book Review magazine.


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Why Black Owned Websites Fail

When the web first started Black-owned websites were very likely to link to other sites. We all recognized that by helping visitors discover other interesting websites, that added value to our own websites. In fact, before search, this was the primary way we discovered other Black websites. This is why I continue to link to other websites and may be the reason I’ve been able to keep this website viable for 18 years. Read the rest of the article to find out what changed?


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Please take a few seconds to subscribe to AALBC.com’s YouTube channel. This won’t cost you anything; I need to add an additional 220 subscribers to enable paid content on our YouTube channel. Thanks!


Book Clubs Lead The Way

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Literary Ladies Book Club (New Jersey)

Book clubs are a powerful force in the Black Book Ecosystem. With the loss of bookstores and media coverage, book clubs are increasingly a significant, if not the primary supporter, an author’s work.

AALBC.com will try to serve as a “book club of book clubs,” by providing a platfrom for clubs to, share information and ideas with other clubs, recruit members, leverage our collective buying power, and more.

Readers who are not members of a book club will benefit too. We can attend book club sponsored events like, The Literary Lounge, hosted by the Literary Ladies (pictured above). We can also benefit by reviewing the books clubs have selected for their reading lists (they don’t just read any ole book). In fact I discovered Mat Johnson’s latest novel on the Folktales’ Black Women’s Literary Society, from Austin, TX, reading list.


Events

By the time the February eNewsletter is published, I hope to have completed the upgrade of the Events section of our website. I will not only include major festival and fairs, but authors signings and more. If you are hosting an event, and want it included on AALBC.com, just visit our African American Literature Discussion Forum and post your event’s details there. I will add it to our events section.
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The National Writers Union’s Fifth Annual New York Conference – February 13, 2016 – New York, NY

I will be giving a presentation on publicizing your books.

The National Writers Union (UAW Local 1981) is the only labor union representing writers in every genre. With chapters across the nation, the NWU works to advance economic and working conditions of writers – lobbying for legislation, initiating lawsuits, educating writers on their rights, networking, organizing picket lines, publicizing viable alternatives to unfair practices by both the traditional and Internet publishers, and by mobilizing members to fight for their collective self‐interest.


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13th National Black Writers Conference Thursday, March 31 – Sunday, April 3, 2015 – Brooklyn, NY

Honorary Chair: Rita Dove, Former Poet Laureate of The U.S. 2016 Honorees: Edwidge Danticat, Woodie King Jr., Michael Eric Dyson & Charles Johnson

AALBC.com will host a seminar on book publishing, covering editorial, production, marketing, and more. Additional updates are coming soon.


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Dear Reader,

Happy New Year! AALBC.com’s website upgrade continues to progressing nicely—but it is killing me LOL!

I appreciate all of the feedback that you have provided. It will all contribute to making our website world class. Feel free to leave feedback in the comments section of any page or simply email me at troy@aalbc.com.

Please link to AALBC.com from your website and share any content you find valueable on social media platforms, via word of mouth, or in any fashion that makes sense to you.

Subscribe
Most importantly, please consider purchasing, or renewing, your paid subscription to this eNewsletter.  The ability of AALBC.com to thrive, or die, is literarlly up to you Troy. Your support is needed.

As always, thanks for reading!

Peace & Love,

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Troy Johnson,
Founder & Webmaster, AALBC.com

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