Cross Literary Pollination
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A few days ago, I received an email totting Karen Q. Miller's newest novel: An Angry As Black Woman..

To be honest, the title didn't grab me..in fact, it screamed "Ghetto-Lit" - which is a genre I am not a fan of. But because Karen's name was on the cover, I did not hit delete. Instead I went on to investigate and was pleased at what I found.

If you're unfamiliar with Karen Q. Miller let me bring you up to speed:

KQM is an Essence best selling and NAACP Literary Award Nominee, Karen E. Quinones Miller was born and raised in Harlem in 1958. Miller dropped out of school during the eighth grade, and spent the majority of her teenage years experiencing street life first-hand. After getting a job as a police attendant in New York City's Midtown North police precinct, Miller became friends with a number of police officers who persuaded her that the life she was living could lead to an early death. 


So at age 22, Miller joined the Navy and after spending five years in the Navy, Miller married, had a child and divorced all within a two-year period. At age 29, she got a secretarial job with The Philadelphia Daily News, but after three years complaining about the paper's coverage of people living below the poverty level she quit and started taking journalism classes at Temple University.

After graduation she became a newspaper reporter, and worked for the Associated Press, The Norfolk Virginian Pilot, and lastly for The Philadelphia Inquirer where she was employed for nine years. She also worked as a correspondent for People Magazine from 1996 to 1999.
Miller wrote Satin Doll in 1999, and after many unsuccessful attempts at finding a publisher, decided to publish it herself. She sold 28,000 copies on her own, and Satin Doll wound up on the Essence Bestsellers List for two months. Publishing rights were sold to Simon & Schuster (via auction) for six figures.
Miller went on to write five other Essence Bestselling novels for Simon & Schuster, Warner Books, and Grand Central Books: I'm Telling, Using What You Got (both were main selections for Black Expressions Book Club), Ida B. (which was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work - Fiction.), Satin Nights and Passin'. 

 

KQM newest offering: An Angry Ass Black Woman is a sassy, shocking autobiographical novel captures the racial tensions, the hardships, and the bonds that formed between families and neighbors growing up poor in Harlem.


I know KQM personally and our often brief but intense conversations have revealed much about the scribe. So, I'm excited and rooting for this, her fictional autobiography.

But what this post is REALLY about is this:

KQM garnered a blurb from NYT Bestselling (White Author) of In Her Shoes ..and other novels..- Jennifer Weiner




Ok, now the reason why I had to specify that JW was white is because it is far and few between occurance that a white author blurbs a black author and vice-versa.

Of course it happens - I mean I have a number of blurbs from respected and celebrated white writers as does Persia WalkerTayari Jones and others...but it does not happen as often as you might think.

This is such a wonderful thing -- because we writers are taking control away from the publisher and placing it squarely in our laps. I don't know how KQM obtained a blurb from JW -- but I'll tell you that back in the day (when I first came on the scene) editor's and marketing folk were working off of an old and dated system that kept black writer's in a box - so they only approached black writers to blurb books written by black people - and vice-versa - unless of course you were a National Book, Pulitzer or Nobel prize winner...

But things, they are a changing (as they naturally do) and it warms my heart in such a way that I can't stop smiling....

I say, bravo Jennifer Weiner!!

A few years ago I reached out to a very, popular white, female author explaining the plight of Af-Am writers in this white owned, controlled and driven industry known as publishing. I asked if she would post my Sugar's 10th Anniversary Letter on her blog (if she had one) in order to introduce my works to her readers.

 

Unfortunately, the writer could not see the forest for the trees. Even though she continues to be a mainstay on the NYT Bestsellers List and her books have been translated into more languages than I am familiar with and she has had a number of her novels turned into movies -- and while I don't like to count other peoples money - I suspect that she is a millionar a few times over - this is the response I received to my inquiry: 

 

Hi Bernice,

Thanks for writing to me.  I know that my publisher very actively recruits, promotes and markets African-American authors - which in my opinion means it's doing something quite right :)  I do not have a blog but if you write up a piece about my books, I am happy to tweet it to my followers  on Twitter. Frankly, when it comes to literary authors, it's not just women of color.  It's ANY women.The market has been overrun with white boys from Brooklyn.



*Shrugging Shoulders and Moving On...*

I hope this cross literary pollination becomes the norm and not the exception in the writing community. And what I REALLY look forward to in the near, near future is publishing houses touring black and white writers TOGETHER!! Integrating and introducing audiences this instead of segregating writers based on some antiquated belief that literature has to be...needs to be....MUST BE seperated first by race and then genre.

 

 Viva La Literary Cross Pollination!!!!!

Let's be friends

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