NatBookFest Recap: The Bomb.com

DopeReads was in the building for the 2012 Nationals Book Festival in Washington DC. Peep the pictures below for a quick recap!

As you can see, the weather was great! Clear skies, a cool breeze here and there, and not a (rain) cloud in sight. The only thing that was tough was the dust from the gravel/clay on the lawn, it made my sinuses itch, but other than that it was beautiful!

First stop at NatBookFest: grab a complimentary book bag! Last year the bags were turquoise blue (my fave color) and this year they were hot pink (my second favorite color). My sister is the bag model :)

So many books, so little time, it’s a good thing I have most of the books on this table :)

Like Chris Matthews, I was unable to attend all the readings I wanted to get to. The reality is that there were so many people I wanted to check out (Nikki Finney, Nalo Hopkinson, Jeffrey Eugenides) and their schedules were so matrixed that you couldn’t get to everyone.

Tayari Jones! She was so great, and gracious about answering my question about how her HBCU experience (Spelman) shaped her writing. She talked about her struggles and triumphs as an author, as well as her relationship with Judy Blume. Definitely an uplifting speaker and writer!

As you can see, it was crackin’ for the Junot Diaz event. People were sitting on the ground just to hear the man speak. And boy, was it worth it. He cusses a lot, but in a good way, and totally made the crowd feel special and appreciated.

Peep the BookIt! t-shirt though…where can I cop one???

This last pic I took just to make my friend Sakena mad…because she loves him. He gave all the young wimminz kisses on the cheek. HA!

Happy Monday y’all!

National Book Festival & The Story of How Terry McMillian Carried Me!

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Hey y’all!

This weekend the National Book Festival is being held in Washington DC on the National Mall. If you haven’t gone before, it is AMAZINGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG!!!!! It is everything a book lover’s dreams are made of. There will be book signings and readings from your favorite authors, forums, and other cool stuff to do. DopeReads will be in the building so you can follow Instagram & Twitter (@dopereads) for live updates and pictures! Here is the full list of authors and the schedule (R.L. Stine gonna be there y’all, Goosebumps what what!). I’ll be checking out the Junot Diaz and Tayari Jones readings for sure.

So let me tell you about what happened last year when I went to the NBF. It was my first time and I was AMPED because Terry McMillan was speaking. "Waiting to Exhale" and "How Stella Got Her Groove Back" really showed how powerful the market could be for fiction that chronicled the lives of everyday black women. She would be reading from a piece she was working on, and would be signing her latest book "Getting to Happy", the follow up to Waiting to Exhale.

Before the reading I made sure to write down my questions because I get nervous speaking in front of people and forget things. As a young black woman writer, I was really interested in learning what sacrifices she made to write and how she was able to get her name out there. You know, young mogul sh*t.

So I have my questions, I have my copy of her latest book, I do my background research (which is a Google search, but still). I get to the Festival early enough to have a seat close to the mic. I AM PREPARED.

The tent is full of women, a majority of them black. Terry McMillian approaches the podium,and begins her talk. Her hair is clipped short and even though she smiles there is a fire in her eyes and in her tone that indicate that she can "go in and let have", as Funky Dineva would say.

The floor opens for questions and I am the second person to pop up. The first person finishes her question, and my heart is pounding. Here I am, I think. About to ask Terry McMillan a question! I’m a black woman, she’s a black woman! I’m a writer, she’s a writer! Her name is Terry, mine is Terryn! This is going to be great!

So I ask my question, which is something along the lines of, "how did self-publishing your first book aid you in building your platform as a writer?"

Honey, Auntie Terry read me like a book.

I had gotten my facts wrong. Her first book was not self-published, and according to her that falsehood was persistently brought up and she didn’t really like it. She lamented how antsy young writers are to get ‘on’. She said some more stuff, but I was just trying to smile and nod and be respectful after getting blasted out in front of 200+ people. I sat there for about a minute while she served me. I ate it though, and afterwards people came up to me to console me and to let me know they would be looking for my writing soon. I thought to myself, if I can survive getting fussed out by Terry McMillan, I can definitely be a writer. And I vowed that when I get on, I’m never going to dig into a newbie like I was dug into.

Moral of the story: Triple check your research, and don’t piss off Terry McMillan :)

Ok, have a good weekend!!!

Book Review: This is How You Lose Her

This is how you describe someone from the Caribbean trying to put on airs Nicki Minaj:

She was from Trinidad, a cocoa panyol, and she had this phony-as-hell English accent. It was the way we all were back then. None of us wanted to be niggers. Not for nothing.

This is how you describe a woman who is in love with a married man:

Ana Iris once asked me if I loved him and I told her about the lights in my old home in the capital, how they flickered and you never knew if they were going to go out or not. You put down your things and you waited and couldn’t do anything really until the lights decided. This, I told her, is how I feel.

This is how you describe a cheater who knows, but doesn’t want to believe, that his relationship is over:

I’m going home tomorrow, she said.

I sat down next to her. Took her hand. This can work, I said. All we have to do is try.

This is how you write a book of short stories. This is How You Lose Her. Cop it here.

***You seriously need to cop this book. Junot Diaz does an amazing job of keeping it real and keeping it literary – AT THE SAME DAMN TIME. That is so rare and much appreciated. I don’t want to give too much away. Trust me, just get it.***

Bomb  ass interviews of the author here and here.

Is Wyclef’s New Memoir Messy On “Purpose”?

If you didn’t hear the news already, Wyclef Jean, of Fugees and “Someone Please Call 911″ fame, is dropping his memoir today, and is spilling the tea on why he and Lauryn “taxes-are-for-the-birds” Hill don’t really fool with each other too tough any more. According to the New York Post she falsely told him that she was pregnant with his baby:

I was married and Lauryn and I were having an affair, but she led me to believe that the baby was mine, and I couldn’t forgive that,” Jean writes in “Purpose,” at which The Post got a first look yesterday.

Say what? L-Boogie is allegedly outchea living that Maury life. Not for nothing, but Wyclef is not the most trustworthy person in the world, IMO, so how can he be morally superior about her lying about the kid when he is stepping out on his wife? Remember his Yele Haiti swindle shenanigans? Something about him is Elegba tricky, and not in a good way. And with her recent tax woes and Rohan Marley running his mouth everywhere, I can’t help but feel bad for Lauryn (this does not excuse her actions). Maybe the virtuousness that she and the Fugees rapped about wasn’t anything more than a front. Its really sad to see the people with the most talent get caught up in foolishness.

So what do you think? Will you cop this book? Part of it wants to see what else is revealed, but another part of me just wants to let my love of the Fugees be untainted by the mess that Wyclef is slinging. Thoughts?
~Terryn

[Pictures] How Breaking Bad is the Grown Up Harry Potter

So, for the past few months I’ve been obsessed with Breaking Bad. It is truly a writer’s television show, because the plotlines are sewn together tighter than Oprah’s weave. At every turn Walter White (Bryan Cranston) make decisions that have intended and unintended circumstances. I have lost sleep over this show, it’s so good. Trust me, you need to watch it.

Anyway, while gorging on Seasons 1-4 on Netflix, it dawned on me that the last time I was so enthralled by a piece of fiction was when Evelyn and Ochocinco got married I read the Harry Potter series. The action, the suspense, the downright transformation of Harry Potter mirrors that of Walter White, albeit in the opposite (evil) direction. Peep the pictures below and tell me if I’m wrong…

 

…did that just blow your whole mind?! When I realized the similarities I was like,
What do y’all think? How else is Breaking Bad the same as Harry Potter? Are you excited for Part 2 of Season 5?????
~Terryn

P.S. DopeReads is a semi-finalist in the Black Weblog Awards! If you dig us, vote {here} every day until Oct. 1st! DopeReads is in the “Best Book or Author Blog” category, the fourth one down.

!!! (or, Zadie Smith is awesome sauce)

I’m so ready for this. Did you guys read her profile on Jay-Z in the NYTimes, and the subsequent non-scandal it inspired in Slate Magazine? The Slate piece was complete nonsense, but whatever, #fishsandwichgate lol.  Happy Monday!

~T

DNC2012 Music Hit All The Right Notes

Music was secretly the star of the Democratic National Convention

 

When Mrs. Obama strode onstage the first night of the DNC to Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” shoulders shimmering, we should have known it would be a wrap. Her speech was everything that the President needed it to be: humanizing, passionate, compelling. And when she finished, she walked off not to an old school jam, but to the upbeat remix of “Get Me Bodied” that Beyonce made just for her Just Move exercise campaign.

 

As the convention continued, there were more instances of the musical cues being a pitch perfect match for the mood of the group and the personality of the speaker. For instance, Elizabeth Warren’s walk out song, “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’” by Michael Jackson, was a pre-cursor to her scrappy speech about looking out for the little guy via her agency the Consumer Financial Protection Agency.  President Bill Clinton strolled onstage to a Fleetwood Mac gem, “Dont Stop Thinking About Tomorrow,”  a song as folksy and upbeat as the former Commander-in-Chief.  Among the other hits heard during the festivities: Earth, Wind and Fire’s family reunion hit “September,”Rihanna’s “We Found Love in a Hopeless Place” and KC and the Sunshine Band’s “Boogie Shoes”.  As far as musical taste goes, the DNC kept it flavorful. Every song fit the image the DNC was not-so-subtly trying to convey: diverse, fun, inclusive.

 

The same can’t be said for the RNC performances.

 

The prior week, while watching the proceedings in Tampa, the musical selections left a lot to be desired. While acts the GOP selected may have connected with the core base, it left me cold. Hearing the house band struggle through Motown hits gave me pause (is this what happens who an artist doesn’t own their music rights, I thought). Seeing former American Idol star Taylor Hicks squirm through his song was uncomfortable, and gospel legend BeBe Winans’ performance was beautiful, but seemed more like an attempt by the Republicans to show the world, “See, we have black (or insert other minority here) friends!”  The GOP performances, like their platform, felt like a grasp for relevance in a world that is rapidly changing tastes, both musically and politically.

 

Music (and art in general) can either elevate your work, or drag it down. In the case of the DNC, music choice was a stroke of genius.

 

So what do you think? What walk-on/exit songs would you have chosen for political convention speech?