Happy New Year!

Like everyone else, I’m wishing you a very happy new year! I spent the evening with a few close friends–I just can’t stomach the crowds, especially being a height-challenged person.

Later today friends and family will descend to partake of the traditional Southern New Year’s Day meal: collards, black-eyed peas, cornbread, and pork. Collards of course, symbolize the green of money, the peas symbolize the coin, cornbread symbolizes gold, and the pork…well, I suppose we could say it’s extraneous money used for pork-barrel spending, but that wouldn’t be fair, right?

I’m not making any resolutions this year. Why set myself up for failure and cracking under pressure? Didn’t we see enough of that last year?

BTW, I’ve updated my main website, located at http://www.seressia.com. I thought it was time for a change, and New Year’s Day seemed as good a time to launch as any. Besides, the Gemini in me won’t let me keep one style for long!

Anyhoo, I hope that you’ll return again and again. I’ve got five releases coming this year that I know of, and two of them are back to back January and February anthologies, Vegas Bites Back, and What White Boyz Want. See? No need to resolve to be more productive–that’s already being taken care of!

Hhm? Maybe resolve to save more money? Good thing I’m having those collards. Let me know if you want a plate.

Going to the Movies

In The Name of the King

Okay, I know this is probably going to be a train wreck of a movie, but I’m going to see it anyway. It’s got a head-scratching cast combination Jason Statham, Will Sanderson, Burt Reynolds, and Kristianna Lokken and a plot you could drive a tank through, but I don’t go to the movies to learn, I go to be entertained.

Oops, now I know why it’s going to suck. Director/Producer Uwe Boll has “attracted worldwide attention in the gaming community for his film adaptations of popular video games.” These include Alone in the Dark (who can believe Tara Reid as a archaeologist?) and BloodRayne (which could have been a good movie, but even Meatloaf in a bad weave surrounded by naked prostitutes–to save on production costs– couldn’t save that trainwreck–and they rewarded Lokken for her open-mouthed performance by giving her a series on Scifi. Or maybe that’s punishment.)

It just goes to show you that a doctorate in literature doesn’t mean you know how to tell (or direct) a story.

Sigh. I think I just typed myself out of going to see this movie.

But I did see I am Legend yesterday, and I’m not really sure what I expected, but I was surprised. There were moments of laughter and moments of tears. It almost had a Pan’s Labyrinth feel in that the tearjerker moments kept on coming. Oh, and Wil Smith doing pull ups shirtless didn’t hurt either.

I Want One

Santy Claus, I was really really good. I behaved politely in public, didn’t have meltdowns in the blogosphere, and generally behaved like writing is my business and I am a business person. So why didn’t I get rewarded with one of these?????

Though I think my Sven would start the morning as personal bed warmer…

Last One Standing

Hhm, I was pulling for Rajko or Brad.

Rajko has a website you can check out here.

Yummy.

Though I have to admit, I wouldn’t eat testicle soup either, at least not the testicle portion.

Happy Birthday, Arthur C Clarke

Arthur C. Clarke celebrated his 90th birthday on Sunday.  At the bash, he said he had three wishes: a commitment to renewable resources, peace in Sri Lanka, his adopted home, and evidence of extraterrestrials.

But I really liked this quote:

“Sometimes I am asked how I would like to be remembered,” Clarke said. “I have had a diverse career as a writer, underwater explorer and space promoter. Of all these I would like to be remembered as a writer.”

I find myself agreeing with him.  No matter what I do in this life, I want to be remembered as a writer.  Not as a Black writer, or a writer of black or interracial romance, or even a romance writer.   Just a writer.

Alice Walker's archives going to Emory

Local gal (she’s from GA) does good.  From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

From journals and notebooks of poetry written when she was growing up in Eatonton, Ga., to drafts of her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Color Purple,” Alice Walker saved every scrap along her journey to becoming one of the leading literary figures of the 20th Century.

Her literary and personal archive contains many letters from such friends as Toni Morrison, Gloria Steinem, Quincy Jones and Oprah Winfrey, as well as a remarkable volume — “Poems of a Childhood Poetess” — that she composed when she was 15.

By the end of this week, her entire archive — all 122 boxes — is expected to arrive at its new, permanent home at Emory University. Emory announced Tuesday it had acquired Walker’s archive for an undisclosed sum.

The acquisition is a “major addition to Emory’s collection,” which will help students and scholars learn more about Walker’s commitment to social activism, literary and personal growth and spirituality, said provost Earl Lewis.

At Emory’s Manuscript, Archive and Rare Book Library, Walker’s papers will join those of author Salman Rushdie, the late British poet laureate Ted Hughes and Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney as well as significant collections related to Harlem Renaissance novelists and poets Langston Hughes and James Weldon Johnson.

Walker is the author of eight novels, four major poetry collections and many works of nonfiction. She became the first African-American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1983 for “The Color Purple,” which was adapted into a critically acclaimed 1985 movie as well as a musical that had its world premiere at Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre in 2004 and made its Broadway debut a year later.

“I can imagine in years to come that my papers and memorabilia, my journals and letters, will find themselves always in the company of people who care about many of the things I do: culture, community, spirituality, scholarship and the blessings of ancestors who want each of us to find joy and happiness in this life, by doing the very best we can to be worthy of it,” Walker said in a statement.

Walker said Emory’s relationship with the Dalai Lama also played a part in her decision. The Tibetan spiritual leader joined the university’s faculty in October as a presidential distinguished professor and plans to periodically visit Emory to give talks to students.

Emory is “a place where my archive can rest with joy in the company it keeps,” Walker said.

10 Questions for Nora Roberts

Time Magazine did an article wherein readers from around the world asked questions of best-selling author Nora Roberts.  Whether you read her or not, like her or not, she’s considered the spokesperson when it comes to romance novels.  It’s got to be a heavy load all the time at times, but she sure carries it well.

There were many questions that I liked her responses of, but I think this is my favorite:

Do you ever get sick of writing and want to try something else?Ian Kachemov, Highland, MD
I have no idea what I would do if I wasn’t a writer. It is the best job in the world. I never get sick of it. I think you can get tired—I know I do—of the business around the writing, but not of the actual process of sitting down at the keyboard and working. If you don’t love it, I don’t know why you would do it, because it is very hard work. It is also solitary work—your butt is in the chair for many hours a day. But, for me, that is exactly what I want to be doing.

Race in Romance: Affaire de Coeur

The Romance Slam Jam is roughly five months from now. I’m really looking forward to it, not the least because I get to return to Chicago for their hot dogs and pizza, but because I get to see the largest gathering of black romance readers and writers on the planet. If you want to join in the party, meet a bunch of romance writers, and take a bunch of workshops, register a group of 5 or more get a discount and pay just $175 per person, or individual for $200 until December 31st.

Isn’t that a bargain for a conference?

Anyway, author Dyanne Davis had an interview with Louise Snead, the owner of Affaire de Coeur. You can check it out on Dyanne’s website or the Romance Slam Jam’s newsletter.

In the I-told-you-I’m-not-crazy-department, Ms. Snead makes this observation:

If you poll the average romance reader, they don’t read African American romance. Why? Romance readers indulge passionately in this genre because they want escape and fantasy. They want to believe there is a partner out there for everyone. They want to fantasize about who this person is. If you can have a heroine with all her foibles be loved by the end of the book, then there is hope for the reader. Many readers accept and love romance with vampires, werewolves, ghosts, witches, faeries, elves, and the like, yet cannot accept a hero and heroine of color.

I know this is true. I’ve actually had a reader tell me so. Black people in any other genre, she can read about them and enjoy the story. A black heroine? Not so much. I think that’s sad, but then I also know some readers who only read black woman/other ethnicity male romances and won’t pick up one with a black hero.

Sigh. There are days when I think I’m only writing for myself. Then again, if I were writing for the market, all my heroines would be blonde.

Essence to Honor Writers, Help Libraries

From Publisher’s Weekly:

Essence Magazine will honor African-American writers and help public libraries by launching two overlapping initiatives this winter: the Essence Literary Awards and the Save Our Libraries campaign.

The nominees for the awards–in fiction, nonfiction, children’s, poetry, commentary/public affairs, memoir and photography–will be selected by the editors of Essence and will be announced on December 19th. The winners will receive their awards during Black History Month, on Feb. 7, 2008, at a ceremony in New York city that will also kick off the Save Our Libraries campaign. Emcees Hoda Kotb of the Today Show and Dr. Ian Smith will preside over the event, which will honor the winning writers, as well as a “Storyteller of the Year.”

Terry McMillan will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award for her contributions to contemporary African-American literature. McMillan, who is writing her eighth novel, Getting to Happy, added, “There are so few venues for African-American writers to get attention. This is a positive way to draw attention to African-American writers whose work is of high standards and merits attention.”

“We love books,” Bass said, describing editors at the magazine as committed to coverage of African-American authors and their work since Essence launched in 1970. Essence currently dedicates at least 3-1/2 pages to authors and books each month, second among women’s fashion/beauty/ lifestyle magazines only to O: the Oprah magazine.

You can still vote. Go to http://www.essence.com/essence/literaryawards/ and pick your choice, or nominate one.

When Your Characters are No Longer Yours

In an effort to answer the question of “When does a character stop being the property of its creator?” or “How popular does it have to be to become Fair Use?” Stanford’s Law school will defend the publisher of the Harry Potter Lexicon against Warner Brothers and author JK Rowling.

According to the press release:

RDR Books contends it has the right to publish the encyclopedic reference book under the fair use doctrine, which safeguards the use of copyrighted material so long as it is used transformatively and does not damage the market value of the original work.

“The Harry Potter Lexicon draws material and inspiration from the Harry Potter series but is an entirely new piece of work,” said David S. Hammer, co-counsel for RDR Books. “It is a companion to Rowling’s work, not a substitute for it. No one is going to buy the Lexicon instead of a Harry Potter book, or instead of seeing a Harry Potter film.”“This book is a reference work based on more than seven years of research by a distinguished volunteer team of librarians and academics,” explained co-counsel Julie Ahrens, associate director of the Fair Use Project. “Fair use protects scholars’ rights to create such companion guides. It simply is not the case that authors can exploit copyright law to prevent analysis and commentary on their work.”

It will be interesting to see how the ruling goes on this. I think it’s one thing if this was a literary criticism of the body of work. That sort of thing has been done to authors and their work for decades. But if courts rule in RDRs favor, any group of people could beat an author to publishing a concordance of their work, as long as one of them is an academic. That might not be good news for authors of popular series, such as J. D. Robb’s or even J R Ward.