Help Support Black Literature and Black Writers

Books are important. Of course I would say this. I’m a writer and I love books. Books help me make sense of the world. They help me escape the world, and open my eyes to ideas and situations I may never have thought of. Many of you likely know the names Toni Morrison, James Baldwin and Alice Walker; each has given treasures to the literary world.

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Legacy Award Nominees

Throughout history so many more black writers have contributed great works. Zora Neale Hurston and Richard Wright in particular have paved the way for many black writers to pursue publication. For black writers, there are few organizations dedicated to supporting what we do. The Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization that helps discover black writers, develop their writing abilities, and honor their achievements. The foundation was established in 1990 by award-winning author Marita Golden and bibliophile/cultural historian Clyde McElvene to be a resource center for training and a gateway to ensure the unique experience and voice of African Americans in literature. And it continues to honor black literature.

I have been a supporter of the Hurston/Wright Foundation for several years and have led its week-long fiction workshop for teens in 2013 and 2014. This year, I was honored to be invited to join the board of directors. This is a small foundation with a large impact on the black writing community, offering writing workshops, readings and its annual Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, which honors the best in Black literature in the United States and around the globe. Introduced in 2001, the Legacy Award was the first national award presented to Black writers by a national organization of Black writers.

However, providing resources and events in support of black literature requires finances and as many non-profit organizations know, raising funds can be a challenge. As part of my continuing support, I want to raise $6,000 to help Hurston/Wright continue its mission to discover and honor black writers and black literature. Your donation will help fund:

  • an annual monetary award presented to college writers at the Legacy Award Ceremony
  • an annual week-long summer workshop for fiction and non-fiction writers led by award-winning authors
  • an annual gala honoring and celebrating black writers

Join with me in supporting an organization that helps black writers bring great black literature to the world.

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Short Story Collection On Sale!

My short story collection, Let No One Weep for Me is now on sale during the month of July LNOWfM front_smallat Smashwords – just for the e-book. You’ll get 75% off when you use the discount code at checkout. You can’t beat it. If you already have the book, please spread the word.

You can download various versions including for Kindle or Nook or even a pdf version, whatever works for you.

While you’re there, check out other books on sale this month on the site.

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All That Really Matters

She explores the worKarma_water, dog, creekld with a tentative wet nose. Carefully sniffing a damp spot on the trail, a clump of shrubs, a rock. Spotting something strange, she stretches her neck out as far as her body will allow without advancing forward, then a careful step, sniffing cautiously only to discover an oddly shaped log in the brush. And then she’s bounding off to the next mystery.

My thoughts flit from her to my writing, to my to-do list, to bills due, then back to her as she pulls toward the creek, desperate to splash her paws in the water. She has forgotten the log, the damp spot, the clump of shrubs. Each moment is a new discovery, an opportunity for adventure and play. She, a mere dog, knows better than I how to get the best out of life. She would keep me outdoors all day, if I let her.

Daisy, flowersI should appreciate each moment the way she does, but my mind fails me often. Thoughts roll like waves, flowing toward hopes and desires, ebbing to fears and anxieties; a constant roiling between past and future. What if? What could be? I wish that hadn’t happened. I wish this would. This attention to what I can’t change or control brings discomfort in both my mind and my body as tension gathers around these thoughts. This focus on what has gone and what has yet to come disturbs the tranquility of this moment, this glorious moment filled with beauty and peace … if I’m willing to see it.

Dandylion, flowersI take a breath, expanding my lungs, filling my belly with fresh air and look around me, enjoying the dew glistening on the low shrubs, the flowers peeking through greenery, and the tall leafy trees newly awakened to spring. Birds flutter and sing, some squawk at the presence of a dog in their midst. Squirrels scamper through grass, leaping from ground to branches high above. And my companion pushes through the high grass in search of another hidden treasure.

Stone_heartEach moment holds an opportunity for joy, to be present and mindful to the only thing that truly matters: this moment right now.

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A Trip of a Lifetime

Bali was more than words can express, though I did try. Please click through to my essay where I describe this amazing experience. Below are some random pictures.

Enjoy!

A wonderful birthday surprise!

A wonderful birthday surprise!

Beautiful doorways. Not one the same.

Beautiful doorways. Not one the same.

Ganesha is everywhere

Ganesha is everywhere

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High Priestess’ Temple

Being blessed with water by the Hindu Dharma High Priestess of Bali.

Being blessed with water by the Hindu Dharma High Priestess of Bali.

Bali clouds

Bali clouds

Hindu gods watch over all

Hindu gods watch over all

At the market

At the market

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Virgin Beach

Blossoms were everywhere

Blossoms were everywhere

A small village outside Ubud

A small village outside Ubud

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Another doorway

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More elaborate entrance

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Fun Times at Sankofa Bookstore

Photo by Leigh

Photo by Leigh H. Mosley

In September, I had a wonderful opportunity to read with my friend and author Cheryl Head at Sankofa Video and Books on Georgia Avenue across from Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Photo by Rashid Darden

Photo by Rashid Darden

Though it was a fairly small crowd, we received a very warm welcome and had a lively discussion after the reading. I read a short story from my collection and an excerpt from my novel, and Cheryl read several excerpts from her novel, “Long Way Home,” which tells the little-told story of the lives of Negro soldiers who served stateside during World War II.

Photo by Rashid Darden

Photo by Rashid Darden

We got great questions and had a wonderful time. Our books are still available at Sankofa, an independent bookstore focused on the African diaspora and third-world countries. Keep it in mind if you’re looking for gifts for friends.

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Featured on Vocal Expressions

Me and Dee at the Gaithersburg Book Festival earlier this year.

Me and Dee at the Gaithersburg Book Festival earlier this year.

Many thanks to local author Dee Lawrence who asked to interview me for her blog. I met Dee a few years ago at a book festival and we continue to bump into each other at book festivals.

Click through to the article and then check out her website. She wrote “Gotta Let It Go,” a romantic-suspense novel set in Baltimore.

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Meet the Authors Event, Sept. 27

You are invitedunnamed to join me and Cheryl A. Head for a reading of our work on Sunday, Sept. 27 at 3 pm, Sankofa Video and Bookstore, across from Howard University on Georgia Ave. The event is free and open to all. Hope to see you there!

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Planning has begun

The flight has been booked and I fly from Dulles to Tokyo to Jakarta and finally to Bali. The journey is 30 hours including layovers. I have been assigned a writing coach and we will talk soon about creating an outline for my project. Yikes! I have work to do!

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Summer Sales

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Juneteenth Book Festival at THEARC

11665364_10152924903047823_2286385568675276781_n It’s been a great summer so far for selling my books and bookmarks. I spent a couple of Saturdays at the Fenton Street Market in downtown Silver Spring, and spent a day with my friend Dottye at the Juneteenth Book Festival, which didn’t turn out to be such a success. The day threatened rain and the event was moved but we didn’t get word until we were sitting at the original location wondering if we had gotten the wrong address. We couldn’t get anyone on the phone, then when Dottye checked her email she found a message had been sent at 8 a.m. announcing the new location, THEARC, a few miles from where we were. We got there and set up, and had a fun day chatting with folks who wandered through.

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All original designs made by me.

Both days that I was scheduled to be at the Fenton Street Market thunderstorms were forecast and this event goes on rain or shine. Fortunately, both days turned out to be sunny and wonderful. I enjoy this market, not just because it’s only a mile away from my house, but because I always meet interesting people there. And the organizers create a family-atmosphere between the vendors. It’s a great event to visit if you can. I’m not scheduled to be there again this summer, but if you’re in the area, do stop through and enjoy the music and variety of vendors there. It’s open most Saturdays through September.11219031_942961192412995_8123715486747238168_n

On July 11, I not only spent the day at Fenton Street Market, but then drove down to Ekoji Buddhist Temple for its annual Obon Festival, where I offered chair massage and sold books. I don’t get to visit as often as I used to because of my crazy schedule, but it is always a joy to return “home.”

Thanks to all who came out to those events, stopped to chat and bought books. You’re all awesome!

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Go Bali or Go Home!

In November, I will have a big birthday. And when I say big, I mean 5-0 big! (I can’t say the word, it’s too disconcerting. As a friend of mine said, it’s like coughing up a fur ball.) Most birthdays come and go fairly quietly, but this year I envisioned something more adventurous … a trip out West or a big birthday party, something fun to mark the occasion. After all, as scary as aging may be, I am grateful to be here to celebrate another birthday.

But something much more amazing has come about. I have been accepted to a month-long writing retreat in Bali, Indonesia,bali-09 starting on November 6. With the help of an assigned writing coach, I will spend four weeks with 29 other participants, completely immersed in writing my next novel. The program’s goal is for each of us to complete a first draft of a book by the end of the retreat. This supportive, writing-intense environment will include yoga, meditation and sight-seeing trips on Sundays. I don’t doubt it will be greatly productive and, in many ways, personally transformative.

At first, I was hesitant to accept because of the cost, which is overwhelming, along with the fact that being self-employed means no income for the month I’m gone, but a friend reminded me that this was the reason – the chance to write full-time and embrace life-changing experiences – that I struck out on my own, rather than continue the corporate grind. This truly will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I cannot turn down for fear of being in debt.

I give thanks to my friend, Michon, who has also been accepted and encouraged me to apply. We will take this journey together.

And I invite you to (virtually) join me on this journey. I will post updates and pictures on Facebook and Twitter (@mshatter1) as often as I can. In the coming months, your love and support will be important in keeping me focused and motivated to reach my financial goal so that I don’t incur too much debt.

No, I won’t be asking you to send me money (although if you want to as a birthday gift, I won’t say no!). But I hope that you will support me by using and/or referring my services (massage and editing). I have set up an account on Fiverr, offering low-cost writing services, and my web site provides details of my book editing services, but I’m open to discussing your writing needs. Also, look out for me at various book festivals and events over the summer. This Saturday, June 13, I will be signing books at the Fenton Street Market in downtown Silver Spring. Do stop by and say hello. And mark your calendar for Saturday, June 20 when I will be at the inaugural Juneteenth Book Festival at the St. Elizabeth’s East Gateway Pavilion in Southeast D.C.

I am thrilled to have this opportunity to focus on my writing in an inspiring and stunning part of the world. I look forward to sharing the experience with you.

 

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