Picture Me Rollin' hit bookstores on Tuesday, June 7th. I celebrated that night with my editor at Edgar's Cafe (named for Edgar Allen Poe), and we already began discussing the 3rd Black Artemis novel! It looks like it's going to be "Burn." I'm excited and nervous about it as this will be my most ambitious novel to date!
The following Monday, we had the release party at Camaradas in el Barrio. The young women of Chica Luna took over the coordination of the party, and so of course, everything went off without a hitch. They even did a dramatic reading of the novel's prologue. We raised $500 in book sales for the organization, and everyone had a wonderful time.
Now it's time to promote, promote, promote. First stop was the AmiGals Literary Retreat at Camp Mariah in Fishkill, New York. It was beautiful! Seeing two deer cross the road turned me into a giggly little girl. But let it be known that as a Bronxite, I'm no stranger to nature and wildlife. Not only is the Bronx Zoo (and I don't meant the New York Yankees) one of the most famous in the world, it just so happens that the Bronx has the most park land of any borough in New York City.
While at AmiGals, I conducted a workshop on using hip hop to teach literature. It's always fantastic to connect with others -- especially other women of color who teach or otherwise work with youth -- who believe in harnessing the power of hip hop culture to transform. And I learned a few things, too, when I took my friend Tricia Wang's workshop. She's with PASE, and I'm very excited to learn more about the Hip Hop Affinity Group she is organizing there. Tricia's training educators on how to incorporate hip hop when teaching reading, writing and critical thinking and working with Urban Word , Radio Rootz and other practitioners. That's what's up!
Later that afternoon, I joined my publicist extraordinaire Angie and fellow authors Eric Pete (my labelmate at the New American Library), Victor McGlothin, ReShonda Tate Billingsley and Tajuana "TJ" Butler (what a sweetheart... I'm looking forward to her moving to New York and becoming good friends) to see The Honeymooners. Having some free time between sessions and wanting to check out the surrounding town, we all piled into Angie's rental car and headed to the Poughkeepsie Galleria to see the movie. It had a funny moment here and there, but I truly fell asleep just when I was supposed to be paying the closest attention. I fought it and lost miserably. When I woke up, Ralph and Alice had made peace, saved their house and moved on in with Ed and Trixie. Oh, well.
On Tuesday, I had a reading at Bluestockings, one of New York City's last progressive bookstores, and if I'm not mistaken, it's only women's bookstore. What a great crowd! Not only did they fill every seat, they asked wonderful questions. I knew I couldn't go wrong by stopping there while promoting the book.
I read and signed at Hue Man Bookstore and Cafe in Harlem last night. That was a dream come true for me. If you're a person of color writing for your community, you just can't say you're on tour and not stop at Hue Man! A thunderstorm struck right before the reading started so the crowd was small but attentive. But I don't care if there's two people, twenty or two hundred, I'm going to do my thing. Besides, you don't punish the people who came out to support you because you're mad at the people who didn't (as if you even know who they are or why they didn't come!) One of the advantages of only having a few readers in attendance is that you can really engage them, and sometimes people become the best promoters of your work. I even met a young women who emailed me -- it's always heartwarming to meet a fan in person.
In addition to the party and the readings, it's been quite a positive week. I received a fan email from a young woman -- a senior in high school -- who wrote, "After I read your book, I was inspired to go after my dream" which is to write. I haven't wrote back to her yet because I've been swamped between writing and promoting, but Natasha, if you're reading this, do the dang thing! I also had my first review posted on Amazon -- 4 stars from Literary Essence Views! Founder Stephanie Wilkerson-Hester wrote, "The emotions felt while you're reading will make you hate the fact that the last page came so soon." I can't stop smiling. I have to hold on to these besos as I call those dark moments when I need to be reminded that my mission as a hip hop novelist is supported. Hopefully, it'll be quite a while before I experience one of those.