The Next Big Thing

I was tagged by poet, novelist, and Harlem Renaissance scholar Hans Ostrom to participate in a self interview / game called "The Next Big Thing." It's designed to get you to share information about your current writing project. Hans's answers are especially great. Here are mine:

What is the working title of the book?
"How to Leave the Midwest"

Where did the idea come from for the book?
The idea came several years ago as I thought about the father of a childhood friend. He was a backup singer with Motown who remained in Detroit after the company relocated to Los Angeles. I started thinking about that transition for him and for our community in general. As I started revising the first draft, other themes emerged like migration, escape, and what it means to move within a black body.

What genre does your book fall under?
Literary. Possibly thriller. Literary thriller- is that a genre?

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Jimmy: Don Cheadle
Igrid:  Tracey Heggins
Rome:  Laz Alonso

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
Fearful of the changes happening in their neighborhood in 1979-1981, three residents of a Detroit suburb conspire to bring Motown back at any cost.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
The first draft was completed within months, and I'm happy that very few people have suffered through that reading! The revisions have taken years and have coincided with the birth of my children and my own relocation to various cities.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I'm inspired by black women writers who have gotten their stories down over the years. Those women are my inspiration.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Harry Houdini makes an appearance. Also Prince and former Detroit Mayor, Coleman  A.Young. 

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I plan  to send out queries to literary agents.

Wole Soyinka at University of Puget Sound

I am extremely upset that I'm going to miss this lecture by Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka on February 7th at University of Puget Sound in Tacoma. I mean....Soyinka?!?! I'm such a fan but my nephew is getting married that day and I cannot miss that. I think I will make my students go and record the lecture (insert evil laughter here).....

Monday Links

Congratulations to Ryan Coogler and Fruitvale for winning top awards at the Sundance Film Festival! This is the type of film I love to see get attention. Keep it coming!

And here's a link to one of the funniest and most true rants about teaching English at a university that I've read.  It's by Adam Mansbach who is the author of the children's book, Go the Fuck to Sleep.

MLK Event

Next Monday is the national  Martin Luther King,,  but this Sunday in Tacoma, The Conversation hosts its annual MLK event. The Conversation is a community organization that meets each Sunday to focus on social justice issues. Their interfaith service this Sunday will feature a keynote speech by Dr. Dexter Gordon, spoken word, musical performances by Annie Jones Barnes and a creative dramatization by C. Rosalind Bell. I will be there. I hope to see you there, too!

Real Life Stories into Art

Please consider this call for artists on migrant stories. The deadline for proposals is January 20th and they are looking for art written or performed from a pro-migrant perspective.

For a real life story about the effects of aggressive anti-immigration legislation on families, read this story about Arizona immigration rights activist Erika Andiola.

And from the "Unbelievably Bizarre Real-Life Stories Made into Documentaries" category: I recently watched "Crazy Love" about Burt and Linda Pugach from New York. It came out in 2009 and is available of DVD. That's all I will say because I don't want to spoil the storyline. Let me just say that I would never have predicted the ending.

Princesses and Writing in Second Grade

When I met with my seven-year old's teacher last fall, she told me that it was common for second graders to misspell words that they actually know how to spell. She said that this was a common phenomenon, and that it straightens itself out through repetition. In other words, little people have to write the same words over and over again in sentences before they remember the correct spelling. I found this interesting because Ava gets 100% on all of her spelling tests and she reads constantly, but when she writes a longer piece, like a paragraph, there are usually a couple of misspellings.  Interesting to think about how the mind works when we are writing.

More frustrating for me is this princess thing she's been on for a couple years. I suppose she'll outgrow this as well. I'll try not to be a grouch until then.