Sunday, July 20, 2008

After The Dance . . . The Audio Version. . .

The audio version of After The Dance is scheduled for release in September. Don't worry, I'm not one of the readers (LOL). They actually recruited some real actors (Caroline Clay & Ezra Knight) for the task. I'm eager to hear how others give voice to the two main characters--Carl & Faye. I'm sure it will be quite the experience (smile).

At $72.75, the audio version of After The Dance is a bit pricey, but hey, there's always the library. If you're interested in hearing the novel, but with these high gas and food prices can't really afford to shell out those kind of duckets, why not ask your local librarian to order a copy? Anyway, if you're interested, the audio version is available from Griot Audio. (Click on the highlighted links for details).

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Black Men Read & Discuss Books . . . The Renaissance Men's Book Club . . .

Johnnie Mosley,
North Branch Youth Librarian and
Moderator of the
Renaissance Men's Book Club
in Memphis, Tn
*from Lori's Picture Collection*

As I've mentioned before on this blog, I find it difficult to buy into the notion that Black men don't read. I owe, in part, my own reading habit to my father who regularly fed my craving for the written word.

When I was a little girl, I'd often sit by the window and wait for my dad to come home from work. Truth be known, it wasn't so much that I missed him or was all that hyped to see him (smile), I was much more interested in what he'd brought home with him. If I spotted the right sized bag, I'd smile in ready anticipation of the new Jet, Ebony, Black Stars, Sepia Magazine, Reader's Digest or National Geographic, I knew was about to be added to our family's sizeable collection.
Quite naturally, I ended up marrying a man who reads and in turn giving birth to a little boy who, when he's not engaged in some sporting activity, has his nose stuck in a book.
So when I met Johnnie Mosley, 17 or so years ago, the fact that he read, didn't surprise me all that much. After all, like myself, at the time, he was gainfully employed at our city's public library. But I can't say that I would have ever guessed that years later Johnnie would be heading up a men's book club--nor, do I imagine, did he ever think he'd be reading and leading a discussion about one of my books (smile).

The Renaissance Men's Book Club 0f Memphis, TN meets on the third Saturday of the month at the city's North Branch Library. The group boasts a membership of 25 members, ranging in ages from 21 to 60 and has been active since 2003. In honor of my upcoming teleconference with the club (and the branch's women's book club), I convinced my old friend Johnnie to address a few questions about the club, as well as one of his other community projects, in which he's actively involved, the Citizens For Better Services' Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Award Program.

Lori: Tell me a bit about the Renaissance Men's Book Club. Johnnie Mosley: The Renaissance Men's Book Club is composed of role models, gentlemen from both blue collar and white collar jobs. Besides meeting once a month, these men are involved in a number of community service organizations. I often call on members of the club to participate in career day, rap sessions and other mentoring programs at schools around the city of Memphis. We are a major force in the Memphis community. The Renaissance Men get a lot of invitations to talk with young people about the importance of reading throughout the city of Memphis.

Lori: How do you choose your books? Johnnie Mosley: We make suggestions ourselves. We also seek suggestions from the general public. After we come up with some titles, we discuss the suggestions and narrow them down until we come up with books that reflect real life issues.

Lori: What do you think of the commonly held belief that men, African American men in particular, don't read? Johnnie Mosley: I am not offended by this school of thought. I often run into people who are surprised that the Renaissance Men's Book Club exists and that we have been together for 5 years. The truth of the matter is we exist because men do read. Men read books, magazines, and newspapers. All you have to do is look around and you see men, including Black men reading on the public buses, barbershops, pool halls, libraries and in the malls.

Lori: Does your group read and discuss street lit or erotica? If so, why? If not, why not? Johnnie Mosley: We do not make it a point to make street or erotica a major focus in our book discussions. We focus on real life issues--relationships, marriage, divorce, faithfulness or not so faithfulness in a relationship, politics, history, money, community ethics and other community issues. We have read books by Donald Goines, Walter Mosley, Kimberla Lawson Roby, Parry Brown, Michael Baisden and Travis Hunter.

Lori: Tell me little bit about the annual youth awards program in which you're involved: Johnnie Mosley: I am chairmain of a civic group called Citizens For Better Service, which deals with public transportation issues. I founded this group in 1993.

One of the things we've done since 1993 is honor outstanding young people at our annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Award Program. The program is held the 2nd Sunday in January each year at a local church in Memphis. The program is so popular tha people show up 1/2 hour before it starts. We honor young people who are chosen by schools, youth organizations, churches and other community groups because they have the qualities of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We also present plaques for youth choir of the year, teacher of the year and student of the year. Although it takes a lot of work to put this program together, I enjoy it. There are special musical guests and guest speakers who volunteer their time towards the program. Also, the television media always covers this event, which puts the young people in the spotlight.

If you're interested in learning more about the Renaissance Men's Book Club of Memphis or getting in touch with Mr. Mosley, click on the highlighted link.

Monday, July 07, 2008

A Bit Of Love . . . For My Cleveland Crew . . .

I guess I started something with my previous post (smile). Late last week, I received an email from Elayne Jackson, my contact at the Warrensville Branch of the Cuyahoga Public Library. Among other things, she informed me that nearly all of the 50 or so copies of After The Dance owned by the Cuyahoga Public Library had been checked out. This past Saturday I checked CPL's online catalog for myself and discovered a grand total of 53 copies of my book had been checked out.

WOW! I can only hope the apparent interest in After The Dance translates into folks showing up for the reading/discussion/signing of the novel scheduled for Saturday, 2pm, July 26, 2008 at the Warrensville Public Library (call 216-464-5280 for more information) as well as the other two promotional events currently planned for my Cleveland visit (Thursday, 7pm, July 24 at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Legacy Village Shopping Center and Friday, 6pm, July 25 at SeneAfrique).

If you live in the Cleveland area and you're in need of an extra incentive to attend the Warrensville Library event, well, check this out--I won't be reading alone. No, stepping forward to read the part of "Carl" (from After The Dance) is none other than Cleveland native, Emanuel Carpenter.

In addition to being an Air Force Veteran and a Capital University graduate, Mr. Carpenter is a talented author in his own right. Little Brown, The Midwest Book Review, Forest Wade Press and African American Literature Book Club (AALBC) have all featured and/or published his work. Regulars of this blog might also recognize Emanuel Carpenter as someone who drops by the "Old School Mix" every now and then in order to contribute a bit of his wisdom and wit.

Elayne and Emanuel are just a few of the Cleveland folks I'd like to extend a heartfelt thanks for their on-going kindness, generosity of spirit and interest in my work. Equally deserving of props and acknowledgement for their tireless efforts on my (and my novel's) behalf, particularly with regards to my/our upcoming Cleveland visit, are folks like Sharon J., RadioGirl, and Mary Oluonye.

One of the best things about this journey has been the opportunity to join forces and or/reconnect with folks who share my joy, delight and reverence for the beauty and the power of the written word. Yes, it's all good, y'all (smile).