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Holidays

30+ Ways to Show Your Favorite Author Some Love

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30+ Ways to Show Your Favorite Author Some Love

So do you really love the writing in that book you're reading? Are you so engrossed in the story that you forget you are actually reading? Has this book challenged you to live a better life? Give more? Work harder? Go the distance when you first thought you should quit? Take that leap of faith? Yes? Well, you need to get off your duff and show some love!

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Happy Anniversary to Me: 8 Years in Book Publishing and Counting!

A Personal Treatise

Not sure exactly why this year is so significant to me. I've had seven others and truthfully none have felt so exciting. All year I've been waiting for today so that I could somehow, somewhere mark this auspicious occasion [stilted language--for no apparent reason]. I do realize that the number eight is not so significant when it comes to celebrating any life event or milestone. Most people look forward to the fives--five years, ten years, fifteen years, and so on.


Eight is significant because for me it confirms a new beginning of sorts. The interesting thing about reaching eight is that you don't start all the way over. You tend to begin again with a fresh and new perspective of all you've learned, struggle through, and experienced in the previous years.

One reason I say this with such confidence is because I saw this happen in my marriage. It was like my husband and I recycled into markedly new people after eight years but still had the awareness and consciousness of our life together during the previous years. It was lovely rediscovering who we were at that time. Arguments that used to be so intense suddenly became complete hilarity. Things we thought we knew so well about the other became times of reexploration. We had a new flow, and it just felt right.

The other thing is my instinct: I just sense something new is in the air--a shift. Out with the old; in with the new. Everything fresh.

Now obviously I am not a numerologist, and I would not put myself in a class with the prophets. Still, I know for certain the best is yet to come. I believe that today begins the fulfillment of all the expectations I have held for the last seven anniversaries. I have a stronger sense than when I started in this business, right out of college, that this is where I am supposed to be. I feel at home. I feel like I am growing into my best self. I have a surer sense of what I want, yet I expect to receive it with every bit of childlike wonder and surprise I can express.

If you asked me how I felt about things two-and-a-half years in, you may have caught me looking for the escape hatch. Everything was so quiet, then, you could hear a neuron drop. "Shh, editors at work." I was really questioning how I would fit. But, man, I really had no clue! Real publishing, when you're really in it, is like totally not quiet AT ALL! I'm so glad I stayed. You've got to give high-quality things time to age and settle. Like fine wine or great cheese or my grandma (she's still a hot mama at seventy-six and just getting hotter)...

I am so humbled God has been gracious and patient with me over these years. I wanted things He held back. I resisted things He gently nudged me into. Then I was overwhelmed when what good things I didn't ask for, He showered on me with lavish love and amazing favor. I am so grateful for all of it. Where would I be if it had not been for His grace? Most times, I am thankful that He really does know best and has the wisdom to ignore some of my prayers. Again, where would I be had He granted all of my early, not-too-bright, I'm-still-wet-behind-the-ears-but-think-I-know-something requests?

I suppose I could reflect on all the books I've edited, the authors I've acquired, the company I work for, or the respect I've garnered, but this isn't one of the fives. Eight causes me to step back and have a moment of self-reflection and God appreciation for what was and what is on the way. I absolutely adore my authors and am beyond moved by my coworkers' support and commitment, but what good could I really do them without my own confidence and awareness of who I am, where I am, where I want to go, how I plan to get there, and then a clear view--from my current vantage point--of how all of that works with the bigger picture of publishing? I'm not one to just put my head down and work. I like to look up from time to time to take in my surroundings--see where I'm at and who I'm there with. It is important for me to assess what I know and what I don't know--and learn it--before, I attempt lead, coach, or partner and build relationships with authors, other publishing professionals, and my coworkers.

I think these eight years have just helped me to not only recognize what I don't know, but I've also learned how to ask the right questions to learn what I need to learn. Wait a minute. Isn't that what I learned in college? Dang it! I thought I was on to something. Ah, well...

Here's to the eight gone by and the eight still to come!

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Black. Love. Literature.


I am a hopeful romantic. And those around me may not even know this.

I chose this poem to share this Valentine's Day during this month of black history, because it brings two things--well three things--together that I just love--literature, black culture, and...love. Black love literature. All literature is a work of love. All good literature, that is. Only those who've experienced the pain and addiction of love can write poetry that speaks to every human heart the way this special piece speaks to mine. I could hear my William saying this to me. I feel this way in my heart toward him. I am Lucinda, and I am the poet. How long did it take Langston Hughes to form these few words that weigh so heavily in my chest? How many arguments and make-ups with "Lucinda" helped him define his heart? Do these words say it all? What was his first draft? And when did he feel that it was just right? That it was good enough to give to us to help us articulate this complex emotion beating in our hearts? Maybe a lump formed in his throat or tears seeped into his eyes and down his cheek when the right words appeared on the paper. I can hear him saying, "Ah, yes, this is it."


How do you know when your words are just right enough to sing into someone else's heart?


Love Song for Lucinda
By Langston Hughes

Love
Is a ripe plum
Growing on a purple tree.
Taste it once
And the spell of its enchantment
Will never let you be.

Love
Is a bright star
Glowing in far Southern skies.
Look too hard
And its burning flame
Will always hurt your eyes.

Love
Is a high mountain
Stark in a windy sky.
If you
Would never lose your breath
Do not climb too high.





____________________________________

Langston Hughes* (February 1, 1902 – May 22, 1967) was an American novelist, playwright, short story writer, and columnist. He was one of the earliest innovators of the new literary art form jazz poetry. Hughes is best-known for his work during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, alongside those of his contemporaries, Zora Neale HurstonWallace ThurmanClaude McKayCountee CullenRichard Bruce Nugent, and Aaron Douglas.

He stressed the theme of "black is beautiful" as he explored the black human condition in a variety of depths.[33] His main concern was the uplift of his people, whose strengths, resiliency, courage, and humor he wanted to record as part of the general American experience.[13][34] His poetry and fiction portrayed the lives of the working class blacks in America, lives he portrayed as full of struggle, joy, laughter, and music.

*Brief bio of Langston Hughes from "Langston Hughes," Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Langston_Hughes (accessed February, 14, 2011).

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Merry Christmas From Paul Lawrence Dunbar


I wanted to wish you all a merry Christmas with a little touch of culture from one of my favorite poets. “Paul Laurence Dunbar was the first African-American to gain national eminence as a poet. His style encompasses two distinct voices—the standard English of the classical poet and the evocative dialect of the turn-of-the-century black community in America. He was gifted in poetry—the way that Mark Twain was in prose—in using dialect to convey character.” You can read more of his bio and works here.


I have included two examples that show the contrast of his unique and masterful styles. So in keeping with the season, please enjoy “Christmas Carol” and “Speakin O’ Christmas” by Paul Lawrence Dunbar.

Christmas Carol
Ring out, ye bells! 
All Nature swells 
With gladness of the wondrous story, 
The world was lorn, 
But Christ is born 
To change our sadness into glory.

Sing, earthlings, sing! 
To-night a King 
Hath come from heaven’s high throne to bless us. 
The outstretched hand 
O’er all the land 
Is raised in pity to caress us.

Come at His call; 
Be joyful all; 
Away with mourning and with sadness! 
The heavenly choir 
With holy fire 
Their voices raise in songs of gladness.



The darkness breaks 
And Dawn awakes, 
Her cheeks suffused with youthful blushes. 
The rocks and stones 
In holy tones 
Are singing sweeter than the thrushes.

Then why should we 
In silence be, 
When Nature lends her voice to praises; 
When heaven and earth 
Proclaim the truth 
Of Him for whom that lone star blazes?

No, be not still, 
But with a will 
Strike all your harps and set them ringing; 
On hill and heath 
Let every breath 
Throw all its power into singing!




Speakin' O' Christmas

Breezes blowin’ midlin’ brisk,
Snow-flakes thro’ the air a—whisk,
Fallin’ kind o’ soft an’ light,
Not enough to make things white,
But jest sorter siftin’ down
So’s to cover tip the brown
Of the world’s rugged ways
‘N’ make things look like holidays.
Not smoothed over, but jest specked.
Sorter strainin’ fur effect,
An’ not quite a-gittin' through
What it started in to do.
Mercy sakes! It docs seem queer
Christmas day is ’most nigh here.
Somehow it don’t seem to me
Christmas like it used to be,—
Christmas with its ice an’ snow,
Christmas of the long ago.
You could feel its stir an’ hum
Weeks an’ weeks before it come;
Somethin’ in the atmosphere
Told you when the day was near,
Didn’t need no almanacs;
That was one o’ Nature’s fac’s.
Every cottage decked out gay—
Cedar wreaths an’ holly spray—
An’ the stores, how they were drest,
Tinsel till you couldn’t rest’
Every winder fixed up pat,
Candy canes, an’ things like that,
Noah’s arks, an’ guns, an’ dolls,
An’ all kinds o’ fol-de-rols.
Then with frosty bells a-chime,
Slidin’ down the hills o’ time,
Right amidst the fun an’ din
Christmas come a bustlin’ in,
Raised his cheery voice to call
Out a welcome to us all;
Hale and hearty, strong an’ bluff,
That was Christmas, sure enough.
Snow knee-deep an’ coastin' fine,
Frozen mill-ponds all ashine,
Seemin’ jest to lay in wait,
Beggin’ you to come an’ skate,
An’ you’d git your gal an’ go
Stumpin’ cheerily thro’ the snow,
Feelin’ pleased an’ skeert an’ warm
‘Cause she had a-hol yore arm.
Why, when Christmas come in, we
Spent the whole glad day in glee
Havin’ fun and feastin’ high
An, some courtin’ on the sly.
Bustin’ in some neighbor's door
An’ then suddenly, before
He could give his voice a lift,
Yellin’ at him, “Christmas gift.”
Now such things are never heard,
“Merry Christmas” is the word.
But it’s only change o’ name,
An' means givin’ jest the same.
There’s too many new-styled ways
Now about the holidays.
I’d jest like once more to see
Christmas like it used to be!

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