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December 2015 eNewsletter


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Bestselling Books for September/October 2015




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Authors You Should Know



Dr. Derrick Gilbert, a/k/a D-Knowledge

Writer/Performer Dr. Derrick Gilbert, PhD, a/k/a poet D-Knowledge, lost his battle with liver disease on Sunday morning, November 1, 2015. He was 45.

One fan writes, “…he gave me a completely new way of looking at people and how I deal with them. From the moment I heard Never Buy a Jeep Cherokee, I was forever changed, and when I finally heard the rest of the album I believe I became someone completely different because there were so many lessons to be learned that I was unaware of. Some were lessons to remind me of the joy of our past, and some were lessons to remind me of the troubles we face in our present, and future. All were lessons I took with me over the years. I never got to tell you this but thanks Derrick.” —ehrichweiss




S. Pearl Sharp

S. Pearl Sharp commentaries and essays are heard on NPR radio and other broadcast outlets. Her published literary works include the non-fiction Black Women For Beginners, the plays Dearly Beloved and The Sistuhs, four volumes of poetry, including Poets & Performers, New York City, early 1970’s.Typing In The Dark, and two poetry w/jazz CDs, On The Sharp Side and Higher Ground.

She was the 2006-2007 Poet Laureate of Los Angeles’ Watts Towers Arts Center. S. Pearl worked with esteemed actress Beah Richards on There’s A Brown Girl In The Ring, a collection of the actress’ essays, later adapting them to stage. Sharp was Senior Editor for Juneteenth Audio Books/ Time-Warner, the first commercial Black audio-books company, founded by CEO Steve Williams, where she co-directed the recordings of books by Bebe Moore Campbell, Susan L. Taylor and Ernest J. Gaines.




Steven Todd Fisher

Fisher describes himself best; “I don’t write in any particular fiction genre, so therefore I don’t have a targeted audience. My plot and characters are all true to their identity. I try to tell a story in unusual ways. There are always romance, drama, mystery/suspense, bizarre circumstances, some philosophy, part literary narration, and part straight talk. A little spirituality (non-religious), and a little eroticism are mixed in, depending on the character or situation.”

Fisher's novel Ayna Rayne: Girl Unusual was selected as one of the 2015 Finalists for The National Indie Excellence Book Awards under the category of general fiction.



1,815 Authors Profiled on AALBC.com



Book Reviews & Recommendations




Negroland: A Memoir by Margo Jefferson

Margo Jefferson is Pulitzer Prize-winning cultural critic. Her memoir relates her experience growing up, in the 1950s, as part of Chicago’s black upper class. In a recent interview, with NPR, Jefferson describes her parent's generation's reaction to the Black Power movement.

“My parents were at one with the civil rights movement, but Black Power, it flung its disdainful hand at much that they believed in and much of who they were. And that was very, very painful. Just beginning with the disdain, the contempt with which the word "Negro" was used, which had been their generation['s] and the generation before theirs word of honor. And suddenly "Negro" became the sign and symbol of — for the Black Power movement — of deference ... of corruption, of corrupt bourgeoisie values, of rejection of black identity and black pride. This was horrible for them. In its way, it was traumatic.”




Alex Haley and the Books that Changed a Nation by Robert J. Norrell

Robert J. Norrell, professor of history at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK), explores the complicated life of one of America’s most famous twentieth-century authors. Having had access to the Alex Haley Papers housed at UTK and inaccessible to most (if not all) researchers, Norrell sheds new light on his subject.

Although it was well known that Haley had money problems for much of his adult life, readers will learn of the unusual severity of that financial hardship. Norrell also investigates the emotional impact on Haley of his mother’s lack of affection, and her premature death at the age of thirty-one, when her son was ten years old. These tragedies, as the author suggests, might help to explain Haley’s adverse relationships with women and his children (Haley was a notorious womanizer and an inattentive father). Book Reviewed by Adam Henig




Dark Justice by Diane Cooper

Diane Cooper was sentenced to 40 Years for crime she didn't commit. I was shooting a video of the author, during the First Read Expo in Atlanta, thinking I was learning more about a work of fiction. I was about two feet away from her when she says the story is about her life. I almost dropped my camera! Occasionally I meet an author whose book I have to read immediately. I was not disappointed. I was also reminded of my mother's advice to watch the company you keep.




African Pyramids of Knowledge: Kemet, Afrocentricity and Africology by Molefi Kete Asante

In this volume Asante has sought to provide the formal and informal student with the structure for critical reflections on significant issues in the African world. Thus, African Pyramids is as much a methodological as theoretical work.

Molefi Kete Asante has been named by his peers as one of the most influential contemporary scholars in America. In fact, Maulana Karenga said,"Molefi is the preeminent Afrocentric theorist, an intellectual of the highest caliber, and a fine human being." Michael Dyson has written that, "The pioneering Afrocentrist Molefi Kete Asante is one of the most influential African American scholars."




Trust: Mastering the 4 Essential Trusts by Iyanla Vanzant

You just can’t trust anyone—it’s a constant refrain in the modern world, and learning to trust is one of life’s most difficult lessons. This leads to fear and uncertainty, which too often erodes our confidence and undermines our relationships. “That’s because trust is not a verb,” says legendary life coach Iyanla Vanzant, “it’s a noun. In fact, trust is a state of mind and a state of being.”

In Trust, Iyanla explains what trust really is, reveals how and why to trust, and explores how to cultivate this liberating power. She outlines the special rewards that come from mastering the four essential trusts - trust in God, trust in yourself, trust in others, and trust in life—and shares how these opportunities encourage our true state of being. When trust is broken, it brings us face to face with our shadow, revealing our hidden beliefs and expectations about how things “should” be. This book’s pragmatic prescriptions demonstrate how to avoid trust-destroying behaviors through communication, consistency and cooperation.



Children’s Books

news-gone crazy

Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia

Coretta Scott King Award Winner and AALBC.com bestselling author Rita Williams-Garcia tells the story of the Gaither sisters, who are about to learn what it's like to be fish out of water as they travel from the streets of Brooklyn to the rural South for the summer of a lifetime.

It’s the summer of 1969, and Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern are off to Alabama to visit Big Ma and her eighty-two-year-old mother, Ma Charles. Pa can’t remind them enough that the South’s not like Brooklyn, and that you can’t get more southern than Alabama.




Willimena Rules: 9 Steps to the Best, Worst, Greatest Holiday Ever! by Valerie Wilson Wesley

Christmas and Kwanzaa are right around the corner and Willimena is usually excited about her favorite time of the year. There are fun decorations, yummy food, the seven principles of Kwanzaa and, of course, gifts for both holidays. But this year, no one feels much like celebrating. Aunt Laura lost her job and Dad and Mom say that big changes are coming for the family—changes that mean Willie may not get that bike she wanted. Willie thinks she has it bad until she sees how these big changes are affecting her cousin Teddy. He’s usually nice, friendly, and greets Willie with a grin. But lately, he’s sad, mad, and downright rude. He doesn’t seem to want to celebrate the holidays at all, and nothing Willie does to cheer him up is working. Christmas and Kwanzaa are supposed to be joyful, but this year is turning out to be the worst. Can Willie find a way to bring “happy” back to the holidays?




Mommy Says! by Rosheena Beek, Illustrated by Warren L. Maye

When something seems hard to do, Mommy makes everything better through her wisdom. This story has little symbols that help us to understand what Mommy says. These symbols are called Adinkra symbols. For many years the Asante people of Ghana, West Africa, have painted and carved Adinkra symbols.

This book has been chosen by the Children’s Defense Fund, as part of their “Freedom School” program curriculum listing 2016.




Scary, Scary Sasha by Starr T. Balmer

Creepy, crawly bugs give Sasha goose bumps. Her fear grows when her mother tells her to pick vegetables from the garden — an eerie, scary place where she believes all bugs live forever and ever. Her mother says many of the bugs in the garden protect the vegetables. But can she stand up to the bugs despite her fear? Scary, Scary Sasha illustrates how a young girl challenges her fear and transforms into a proud, courageous leader, while developing knowledge and respect for the creepy, crawly species of the garden world. Readers join Sasha on her exciting, yet daunting trek, encouraging all to examine their own personal fears and accomplishments, while building confidence and determination.






A Date With Destiny by Lutishia Lovely

Preorder Ebook for a Chance to Win Prizes Worth $500!

Nathaniel and Destiny Thicke are celebrating their first year anniversary as pastor and first lady of Divine Grace Community Center. After dealing with their share of drama, the couple believes there is only smooth sailing ahead. But when an old nemesis resurfaces, a church deacon becomes obsessed and a best friend’s dream life starts to unravel, those observing wonder if a date with destiny is one the Thickes might want to avoid.




A Moment of Silence: Midnight III by Sister Souljah

Handsome, young, Muslim, and married to two women living in one house along with his mother, Umma, and sister, Naja: can Midnight manage? He is surrounded by Americans who don’t share or understand his faith or culture, and adults who are offended by his maturity, intelligence, or his natural ability to make his hard work turn into real money. He is calm, confident, and cool, Ninja-trained and powerful, but one moment of rage throws this Brooklyn youth into a dark world of dirty police, gangs, guns, drugs, prisons, and prisoners. Everything he ever believed, every dollar he ever earned, and all of the women he ever loved including his mother are at risk.

Will his manhood be taken, broken, or altered? Can he maintain his faith among the heathens? Outnumbered, overruled, and deeply envied how can he possibly survive? Will the streets convert him? What can he keep? What must he lose? In this heart-pounding adventure, thriller, and intense narrative, Sister Souljah has penned her most passionate and engrossing novel to date.




The Red Storm: A Mystery by Grant Bywaters

Winner of the Minotaur Books/Private Eye Writers of America Best First Private Eye Novel Competition introducing a black ex-boxer P.I. working in 1930s New Orleans

Newly-minted private investigator William Fletcher is having trouble finding clientele. He’s not the only man out of work, but his past as a former heavyweight contender with a few shady connections-not to mention the color of his skin in race-obsessed New Orleans-isn’t helping lure clients to his door. Stuck without any viable alternative, he takes a case from an old criminal acquaintance, Storm. His only client assures him that the job is simple-locate his missing estranged daughter, Zella, no questions asked. But when Fletcher starts knocking on doors, he sets off a catastrophic chain of events that turn the city into a bloody battleground between two rival syndicates. Then Storm is murdered and Fletcher finds himself caught between the police and dangerous mobsters.



Great Books Coming Out Soon



If you are looking for great, soon to be released, books, check out our list..



Related Articles & News


Writers Score $Million+ Book Deals

The Wall Street Journal published an article last month, "Betting Big on Literary Newcomers." Of particular interest were the Black women who garnered seven figure book deals. The most fascinating thing is that these humongous advances are going to debut authors. I'm sure these books must be great reads, but it will be interesting to see how well these titles sell next year.

Homegoing: A Novel by Yaa Gyasi (Random House, Jun 07, 2016)

Behold the Dreamers: A Novel by Imbolo Mbue (Knopf, Aug 23, 2016)



Nine African-American Authors Honored by the National Book Awards in 2015



Nine African-American Authors were honored (winners, finalists or longlisted) by the National Book Awards this year. That total is more than the entire first quarter century the awards were given, starting in 1950. The first book, written by an African-American writer, and honored with a National Book Award win was Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison.

This year’s winners included; Voyage of the Sable Venus: and Other Poems by Robin Coste Lewis and Between The World And Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Click the book’s titles to watch videos of their acceptance speeches.



African American Book Clubs — Let’s Join Forces



Book Clubs: AALBC.com plans to pay special attention to your needs on our new website. We want to be the platform, you consider first, when looking for quality African American literature. We also want to provide a platform for you to share information and ideas with other clubs and authors. We can help recruit members, or leverage our collective buying power. We are looking for ideas.

We have been compiling information for several months and have almost 700 clubs in our database. If you are interested in joining us, simply email me your name and your book club's name. I'll follow up with you right after the holidays.

AALBC.com started an online book club in 1998. We ran our club for a decade and are interested in resurrecting it in 2016. If you are interested in leading our online club, please email me troy@aalbc.com.

(pictured: Sisters of the Desert Sun Bookclub from Phoenix, AZ, with Author Tayari Jones)




Critical Commentary from "Cynique" AALBC.com Discussion Forums

To Ben or to Ben
I've been trying to ignore Republican presidential candidate, Ben Carson, in the hope that he would go away, once people discerned that he's more suited to be a cult leader rather than a world one. No such luck. I underestimated the vindictiveness of those who hate the Media and love the Bible. I learned a lesson about blind faith and arrogant science and how they neutralize each other, leaving the truth in limbo, and conflict in command. I personally reject everything Carson represents: his fanatical Evangelical beliefs, his right-wing Conservative politics, his blatant racial naivete and his anti-feminism, but I am discovering how presumptuous I was to think my sentiments mattered. (More)

French Toast, Anyone?
Sheeze! That Parisienne shoot-out has really touched a nerve in America which has apparently been "jonzin" for a new tragedy to revitalize the 9/11 crying binge it's been on for the last 14 years. What happened is Paris was terrible to be sure, but all mass murders are tragic and in comparison to the recent acts of terrorism in Nigeria, 129 fatal casualties ain't that awesome. Chiraq has accumulated a better record than that in one month. Ah, but French Lives Matter! (More)




Serious Problems With Facebook Promotion

Facebook made up just 1% of my overall traffic (30K of my last 3 million visitors). Of course it is better to have those visitors than not, right? Well that depends on the effort and cost it takes to get those visitors, compared to other strategies.

Writers, if you are using Facebook to promote your work—especially paid promotion— invest 30 minutes of your time to watch these two videos, and read the article. It will probably change the way you think about Facebook and save you some time, energy, and money.




Random Thoughts About Facebook

I originally wrote this blog post in March of 2011, Almost 5 years later, a life time in WWW years, I decided to revisit and update what I wrote.

[2011] I spent about an hour a day on Facebook. If I were not running a web based business I suspect it would be about an hour a week.
[2015] I’ve essentially stopped using Facebook for personal reasons and got my business usage down to 10 minutes a day (for all social media).



Events — December 2015


Please join us for the 2nd Annual Harlem Renaissance Holiday Fete, December 3, 2015 at Park 112 located at 2080 Frederick Douglass Boulevard in Harlem NY. The festivities start at 6:30 p.m.




Events AALBC.com Will Participate in 2016



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

Honorary Chair: Rita Dove, Former Poet Laureate of The U.S.

2016 Honorees: Edwidge Danticat, Woodie King Jr., Michael Eric Dyson & Charles Johnson

Conference Location:
Medgar Evers College, CUNY
1650 Bedford Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11225

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




The 3rd First Read Expo - August 2016

AALBC.com is excited to partner with First Read Expo for 2016. We plan to offer authors great discounts a free services just for participating.

Readers will get to experience a wide variety of presentations and meet dozens of authors. Book clubs we will be providing special benefits for your membership--including at least one panel specifically for book clubs.

The two-day event is free to attendees. We will be provide the exact date a location shortly.




Dear Troy,

AALBC.com’s website upgrade is progressing nicely. Most of the links, in this newsletter, point to the development website (aalbc.org), which will eventually become the new AALBC.com. I’m no longer adding new content to the current site, and am actively engaged in migrating over 18 years’ worth of content to the new website. This is all being done while adding new content, every single day. It is a massive effort and I hope you will be pleased with the results.

But keep in mind, I can't do this alone. I need your support. Please link to the AALBC.com from your website and share any content you find valueable on social media platforms and via word of mouth.



Most importantly, please consider purchasing, or renewing, your paid subscription to this eNewsletter, by clicking the “Subscribe” button above. Don’t assume everyone else will do this. In fact, assume no one else will do it. The ability of AALBC.com to thrive, or die, is really is up to you Troy. Your support is appreciated.

Peace & Love,

troy signature 1


Troy Johnson,
Founder & Webmaster, AALBC.com



AALBC.com eNewsletter – December 1, 2015 - Issue #229



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I normally archive these newsletters on my Blog, but the wordpress software requires me to completely redesign the page which can actually take a copy of hours with the saving or images, recreation of links, and formatting of text.  

I simply copy and pasted my eNewsletter email here all of the formatting was preserved and it only took about 3 seconds.

Everyday, I get emails from people everyday who want me to share information on the website.  I wish I could get them to just copy and paste their information on the appropriate forum here; it is so easy--there is no reason not to do it. 

The only people willing to take advantage of this feature, certainly over the past week, are racists.  

Occasionally I'll most information here, on behalf of the person emailing me, but I really need to more aggressively get folks to post their inform here themselves, directly.  More people will see their message, it gets me out of the loop, and it takes seconds.

Of course that might encourage people to just spam the board with all types of self promotional material without engaging in conversation here.  But I'd rather manage that problem rather the problem of a lack of participation.

Fortunately, the AALBC.com website is picking in terms of traffic (up 50% compared to last year), this bodes really well on the heals of the pending website upgrade.  I hope a continued increase in traffic will drive participation here.

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