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.
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.
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.
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.
You are invited 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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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, 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.
Super excited to announce that my novel, “The Color of My Soul,” has been selected as the “big read” at McKinley Technology High School in Washington, D.C. All the students will be reading the book this summer and I’ll make a few visits in the fall to chat with the students.
Many thanks to Rachel Broudy, the English department chair at McKinley, and to the PEN/Faulkner Foundation’s Writers in Schools Program, which is sponsoring this event.
What a great honor!
I’m super excited to announce that my short story collection, “Let No One Weep for Me: Stories of Love and Loss,” is now available for pre-order as an e-book (see above for where to order). The official publication date is May 7 and the paperback edition will be available soon.
These are short stories I’ve written over the years. When I reviewed them all together, I noticed a theme of love and loss – failed relationships, troubled families and heartbreaks. There is some hope in there, as well, but they reflect the struggles we often experience in our lives.
About half of them were published in small literary magazines, but are likely new to most of you. Some I had written more than 10 years ago. Every so often I would reread the stories that had not been published and make tweaks until, finally, I felt I needed to release them to the world.
It’s true what they say, stories are like your children. It was time to let them go to make their own way, without me continuing to fuss over them. These are not stories a big publishing house would be interested in, so I thought I would publish them myself. I’m releasing them to the world and hope they bring some enjoyment to you.
I give enormous thanks to Richard Peabody and Donna Britt who both provided encouraging words on the collection. And a huge thanks to my son, Chris Darden, who designed the cover, and to many friends who provided feedback along the way.
Thanks to so many of you for your support and encouragement.
Had a fabulous day at Banneker High School in Washington, D.C. on Thursday; I spent time with three of Ms. Clare Berke’s 9th grade classes. Although all ended well, the day had a troublesome beginning — my car wouldn’t start. I had my fingers crossed it was just the battery, but feared I would be on the hook to replace the starter. Eugh! Plus it was the coldest day ever. However, lucky soul that I am, my neighbors, Tom and Suzanne, were out, and Suzanne offered me her car to get me to the school. My savior! Despite the delay, I made it on time to meet my escort, Nancy, a wonderful retired teacher who volunteers with the PEN/Faulkner Foundation.
I love these school visits, which are sponsored by the PEN/Faulkner Foundation’s Writer’s in Schools program. The kids always have great questions that often get me thinking about my novel in a new way. I especially appreciate that my book, The Color of My Soul, has become a fairly popular selection in the D.C. schools. One question that arose a few times from the teens was, “What audience is your book written for.” Originally, I saw it as a book for women of color in their 20s-40s, but I have been pleased to discover that high-school girls and boys are enjoying the story and connecting with the characters and the themes of identity, race and culture.
Thank you Ms. Berke and PEN/Faulkner!
Oh, and my car? Fortunately a call to AAA got the battery re-charged and I didn’t have to purchase a new one. Phew!