Come to the First Arts Festival in New Laurel Arts District

Look for me at the first C Street Arts Festival on Saturday, June 9. The fun starts at 10 until 4 pm in historic downtown Laurel, Md. Come on out and support a great line up of poets and writers, along with visual art, music, dance and family stuff.

I’m scheduled to read at 11:15 a.m. Not sure what I’m reading yet, but hope to see you there.


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A Beautiful Day in Gaithersburg!

The microphones were taller than me!

I had a fantastic day at the Gaithersburg Book Festival. The weather couldn’t have been any better (totally made up for Kensington!) and the people were just fabulous. (Pictures.)

Many, many thanks go to my “sister” Amanda, who drove down from New York City to support me (it really didn’t help her book addiction. She went home with seven books!!); and to my son, Chris, who didn’t complain once about spending his entire day away from his computer! Thanks also go to my friend Randall, who drove up from DC to show his support, and take pictures of the event. You guys are awesome.

Congratulations to my other “sister” Dottye – this was her first book festival and she was there selling her debut novel, “Andrew’s Gift.”

I must admit, I enjoyed being treated as a VIP even if there were only about a dozen people in the audience, but I know, I know, it was early for a Saturday morning. The weather was absolutely beautiful, and I met some wonderful people who stopped by the Washington Writers’ Publishing House booth where I stayed for most of the day. Sid Gold did his part in promoting the publishing house and also sold quite a few of his poetry books. I especially want to mention Carla Dean, who stopped by the booth. She sells these very cool “author” t-shirts — I had to have one.  Also it was a pleasure to meet writer Barry Nix. I must also give thanks to all the volunteers at the event. They did an amazing job. After I don’t know how many years, it was great to see Robin Ferrier, who was helping coordinate the author services – Robin and I used to work together in communications.

Gboyinde Onijala prepares to interview me for MCPS.

A funny thing happened. Amanda spotted a camera crew and invited them over to talk to me. The woman with the mic kept saying I looked real familiar and I was thinking the same thing about her. Turned out it was Gboyinde Onijala who had worked at a youth organization in Silver Spring where I had been a volunteer several years ago. What a small world! It was great to see her again. She now works with the Montgomery County Public Schools and was interviewing event participants. Not sure when or where her story will air, but if you see me on TV, drop me a note.

Thank you to everyone who purchased a book and came out to say hello. You truly made my day!

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Gaithersburg Book Fest Almost Here!

I’m excited, and maybe a little nervous, about my appearance this coming Saturday, May 19, at the third annual Gaithersburg Book Festival. It’s the first time I will be a featured author at a book festival. Looking at the list of presenters, there are not many authors of color, so I’m very pleased to be included. I’m especially excited to be part of an event where Donna Britt will also be presenting — for those not familiar, Donna is a former Washington Post columnist and recently published her memoir, “Brothers (and Me).” She’s also a wonderful yoga instructor!

I’m scheduled to appear at 10:20 a.m. on the F. Scott Fitzgerald Pavilion, and I only have 20 minutes to speak. I’ll give an introduction, read an excerpt, and take questions — so please come with questions! You can find directions to the festival on the website, here. You can also find a printable map of the festival grounds and a schedule of events under the “About” tab on the event’s website. The festival kicks off at 10 a.m. and ends at 6 p.m. Parking is limited, so if you come early, you not only get a place to park, but you get to see me!! After my presentation, I’ll hang out at the Washington Writers’ Publishing House booth (not sure yet where it’s located), so stop by and say hello.

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Another Wonderful School Visit

Many thanks again go to the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, and specifically Ariel Martino, for organizing my recent visit to IDEA Public Charter School. I caught the end of Mrs. Reynolds’ 9th grade class and they asked some great questions about why I wrote the book and what it was about.

I was there to speak to her senior English class, though, and the students there also had some great questions. One in particular was, “Why did you make both Kira and her mother single and struggling to have good relationships with men.” I loved that the student had engaged with the characters enough to wonder about their lives. Kira, of course, is struggling to figure out who she is and if she had been in a steady, stable relationship, the dynamic with Alex may not have worked as it did. But I wrote from what I know and what I’ve seen. As unfortunate as it is, there are many women, of all races, who struggle to maintain relationships with men. There are, of course, many women in stable, loving relationships, and maybe one day I’ll write about that. Sadly, women who are single and still looking (even in their 50s and 60s) is a reality I’m more familiar with.

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The Rain Didn’t Stop Us!

Sid Gold tries to stay warm at the Washington Writers' Publishing House booth.

It poured ALL DAY at the Kensington Day of the Book Festival. I got soaked, but I hung out with poet Sid Gold at the Washington Writers’ Publishing House booth until around 2:30 p.m. when we packed up to go. I was surprised at the number of people who came out to support the festival considering the rain… and the cold! Boy, if I’d known it wasn’t going to go above 50 degrees, I definitely would have worn something warmer. Many thanks to my dear friend and fellow writer Dottye Williams for letting me borrow her scarf!

It's hard to see the stream rushing down the gutter and my jeans soaked almost to my knees!

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This Sunday! Kensington Day of the Book Festival

Hope to see you at the Kensington International Day of the Book Festival on Sunday, April 22. It starts at 11 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m. I’ll be there at the Washington Writers’ Publishing House booth. There will be live music and all kinds of fun. Come by if you’re in the area.

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Calvert County Writers Give Me a Warm Welcome

Participants of the Creative Memoir Workshop give me a warm welcome, from left Sandy Anderson, Donald Shomette, Donald Pitts, John Riedesel, Ernestine Brooks, Roseanna Vogt, and me in front. (Elisavietta unfortunately is not pictured -- she was the photographer!)

Many, many thanks to Elisavietta Ritchie, writer extraordinaire and also a member of the Washington Writers’ Publishing House, who invited me to speak at her monthly Creative Memoirs Workshop at the Calvert Library in Prince Frederick, Md. (April 11). I had the chance to listen to participants read their own work.

When it was my turn, I talked about my life and writing and we had a great discussion about culture and how people’s perspectives differ depending on where they are from. I also read a little from my novel, The Color of My Soul. They welcomed me warmly and I appreciated the discussion – I always enjoy engaging in a conversation rather than me simply talking. What a great group of writers.

Thank you!

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National Black Writers Conference Was Fabulous!

I hopped on the Megabus on Thursday night (March 29) headed for New York City where my sister (by choice, not by blood), Amanda was waiting for me. (The bus cost me $16.50, and with gas prices as they are, I couldn’t have been happier!).

I stayed with Amanda in her lovely home in Queens and we drove into Brooklyn on Friday, Saturday and Sunday for the Eleventh National Black Writers Conference. We had the best time! Heard some great thought-provoking discussions and supported the array of vendors selling jewelry, clothes, and of course, books! I captured a few nuggets from the event.

Here are a few pictures:

Angela Dodson, Troy Johnson and Akoto Ofori-Atta

Director Jamal Joseph and Sonia Sanchez

Amanda with Dr. Michael Simanga

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My Visit to School Without Walls

Spent a couple hours on Friday, March 9, with 15 students at School Without Walls in Washington, DC. Many thanks to the PEN/Faulkner Foundation for organizing the event, and to Edward Ismail, the AP Lit Class teacher. What a great group of seniors! They had some great questions about me, about writing, and about the book. You can read more in my blog.

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Partnering with PEN/Faulkner Foundation

I’m very excited to share that I will be visiting some Washington, D.C. public schools this spring in partnership with the PEN/Faulkner Foundation. Students will read my novel and prepare questions for me when I visit. I’m really interested to get their insights on the book. My first visit is in March at School Without Walls.

Founded by writers in 1980, and named for William Faulkner, who used his Nobel Prize funds to create an award for young writers, and PEN, the international writers’ organization, the PEN/Faulkner Foundation brings together American writers and readers in a wide variety of programs to promote a love of literature.

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