Sunday, October 30, 2005

Publishers Make Strange Bedfellows

Check out my recent post from Romancing the Blog


“It’s a small world.” “There’s light at the end of the tunnel.” “All’s fair in love and war.” “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” “Don’t burn your bridges.” The list of cliches is endless but one that I’ve created specifically for this blog is:

Publishers make strange bedfellows.

While many of us are preparing to be tricked or treated for Halloween, romance authors are waiting with bated breath to see if the recent merger between Harlequin and BET Books is a trick or a treat.

BET Books, the largest publisher of African American romance and women’s fiction recently merged with Harlequin bringing with them three imprints, an extensive back list and a stable of authors that are some of the best unsung romance authors in the business.

On the one hand this appears to be a major plus for the BET authors. I think it is a major plus for the authors involved. The man/womanpower of the Harlequin machine is unparalled in the industry. Ideally, with the support and worldwide distribution of Harlequin, the authors of BET will see successes that previously have been unavailable to them. But there is always the other “slight” of hand.

As with any merger there is change, there is consolidation, there is reorganization. How this will play out among the authors is yet to be seen. Questions abound: will the guidelines remain the same or become more stringent to adhere to the guidelines of Harlequin which have proved so successful for decades? With so many authors under one roof is there room for everyone in the house? And the big question: will African American romances now be merged, sold, shelved and distributed alongside the Harlequin romances and with the same enthusiasm as the Harlequin titles?

The hope among the BET authors is that they will finally get the visability that they have missed over the past decade. But will this visibilty translate into greater sales from those who don’t, can’t, or haven’t read an African American romance? Will putting the books in the faces of those who say the reason why they don’t read them is because they can’t find them, make a difference and ultimately make names like Gwynne Forster, Francis Ray, Rochelle Alers, Monica Jackson, Lynn Emery, Jacquie Thomas, Shirley Hailstock, Donna Hill (grin) household names?

Will white readers be more inclined to pick up an African American romance when it is alongside one written by Nora Roberts, Holly Lisle, Brenda Joyce, Alison Kent? Will the might of Harlequin give African American romances the legitimacy, the validity that seems to have eluded them?

Or will this apparent treat only be a slight of hand, a changing of the guard and life simply goes on as usual?

In other news, not to be outdone, Kensington Publishing made an announcement that they were taking over Genesis Press (the second leading publisher of African American romances)–all of its backlist and authors and would kick off their new venture with reprints of books by Donna Hill, Gwynne Forster and Rochelle Alers. To say the least the legitimacy and work ethics of Genesis Press is questionable at best, but I will leave that for another diatribe. Hopefully under the helm of Kensington, what has plagued Genesis Press authors for the past five years will be rectified.

In the mystifying world of big business, mergers and takeovers are commonplace. But as the world gets smaller there are fewer places to hang your hat. If you have a falling out with your publisher it will become less and less easy to move somewhere else. Soon there will be nowhere to go as consolidations of publishing houses turn what was once a vast ocean of opportunity into a single stream with no outlet.

But if I may borrow yet another cliche: “where there is faith there is hope.” My hope is that this will be one of the most positively significant changes the romance industry has seen in decades. My hope is that all those faceless, nameless, talented African American authors will finally enjoy the fruits of their labors alongside their sister authors. My hope is that this will indeed be a treat and not a trick.

Stay tuned!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Rosa Parks--Dead at 92

It seems that everyday we lose another hero, another brick in the foundation of history. Today, we have lost Rosa Parks, the petite seamstress who decided to say "No." And that one word changed the course of American History and put Civil Rights on the map for all the world to see.

Below is the story. Read it, share it, live it.

Civil Rights Icon Dies at 92

DETROIT (Oct. 24) - Rosa Lee Parks, whose refusal to give up her bus seat to a white man sparked the modern civil rights movement, died Monday evening. She was 92.

A Life of Courage


Talk About It: Post Thoughts

Mrs. Parks died at her home during the evening of natural causes, with close friends by her side, said Gregory Reed, an attorney who represented her for the past 15 years.

Mrs. Parks was 42 when she committed an act of defiance in 1955 that was to change the course of American history and earn her the title "mother of the civil rights movement."

At that time, Jim Crow laws in place since the post-Civil War Reconstruction required separation of the races in buses, restaurants and public accommodations throughout the South, while legally sanctioned racial discrimination kept blacks out of many jobs and neighborhoods in the North.

The Montgomery, Ala., seamstress, an active member of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, was riding on a city bus Dec. 1, 1955, when a white man demanded her seat.

An Arrest Seen Around the World

Rosa Parks helped spark the civil rights movement by refusing to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Ala., bus for a white man.

· 1913: Born in Alabama
· 1955: Arrested for refusing to yield seat
· 1996: Received Presidential Medal of Freedom
· 1999: Received Congressional Gold Medal

Sources:, World Book

Mrs. Parks refused, despite rules requiring blacks to yield their seats to whites. Two black Montgomery women had been arrested earlier that year on the same charge, but Mrs. Parks was jailed. She also was fined $14.

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick said he felt a personal tie to the civil rights icon: "She stood up by sitting down. I'm only standing here because of her."

The Rev. Al Sharpton called Mrs. Parks "a gentle woman whose single act changed the most powerful nation in the world. ... One of the highlights of my life was meeting and getting to know her."

Speaking in 1992, Mrs. Parks said history too often maintains "that my feet were hurting and I didn't know why I refused to stand up when they told me. But the real reason of my not standing up was I felt that I had a right to be treated as any other passenger. We had endured that kind of treatment for too long."

Her arrest triggered a 381-day boycott of the bus system organized by a then little-known Baptist minister, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who later earned the Nobel Peace Prize for his work.

"At the time I was arrested I had no idea it would turn into this," Mrs. Parks said 30 years later. "It was just a day like any other day. The only thing that made it significant was that the masses of the people joined in."

The Montgomery bus boycott, which came one year after the Supreme Court's landmark declaration that separate schools for blacks and whites were "inherently unequal," marked the start of the modern civil rights movement.

The movement culminated in the 1964 federal Civil Rights Act, which banned racial discrimination in public accommodations.

After taking her public stand for civil rights, Mrs. Parks had trouble finding work in Alabama. Amid threats and harassment, she and her husband Raymond moved to Detroit in 1957. She worked as an aide in the Detroit office of Democratic U.S. Rep. John Conyers from 1965 until retiring in 1988. Raymond Parks died in 1977.

Mrs. Parks became a revered figure in Detroit, where a street and middle school were named for her and a papier-mache likeness of her was featured in the city's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Mrs. Parks said upon retiring from her job with Conyers that she wanted to devote more time to the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development. The institute, incorporated in 1987, is devoted to developing leadership among Detroit's young people and initiating them into the struggle for civil rights.

"Rosa Parks: My Story" was published in February 1992. In 1994 she brought out "Quiet Strength: The Faith, the Hope and the Heart of a Woman Who Changed a Nation," and in 1996 a collection of letters called "Dear Mrs. Parks: A Dialogue With Today's Youth."

She was among the civil rights leaders who addressed the Million Man March in October 1995.

In 1996, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, awarded to civilians making outstanding contributions to American life. In 1999, she was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation's highest civilian honor.

Mrs. Parks received dozens of other awards, ranging from induction into the Alabama Academy of Honor to an NAACP Image Award for her 1999 appearance on CBS' "Touched by an Angel."

The Rosa Parks Library and Museum opened in November 2000 in Montgomery. The museum features a 1955-era bus and a video that recreates the conversation that preceded Parks' arrest.

"Are you going to stand up?" the bus driver asked.

"No," Parks answered.

"Well, by God, I'm going to have you arrested," the driver said.

"You may do that," Parks responded.

Mrs. Parks' later years were not without difficult moments.

In 1994, Mrs. Parks' home was invaded by a 28-year-old man who beat her and took $53. She was treated at a hospital and released. The man, Joseph Skipper, pleaded guilty, blaming the crime on his drug problem.

The Parks Institute struggled financially since its inception. The charity's principal activity - the annual Pathways to Freedom bus tour taking students to the sites of key events in the civil rights movement - routinely cost more money than the institute could raise.

Mrs. Parks lost a 1999 lawsuit that sought to prevent the hip-hop duo OutKast from using her name as the title of a Grammy-nominated song. In 2000, she threatened legal action against an Oklahoma man who planned to auction Internet domain name rights to

After losing the OutKast lawsuit, attorney Gregory Reed, who represented Mrs. Parks, said his client "has once again suffered the pains of exploitation." A later suit against OutKast's record company was settled out of court.

She was born Rosa Louise McCauley on Feb. 4, 1913, in Tuskegee, Ala. Family illness interrupted her high school education, but after she married Raymond Parks in 1932, he encouraged her and she earned a diploma in 1934. He also inspired her to become involved in the NAACP.

Looking back in 1988, Mrs. Parks said she worried that black young people took legal equality for granted.

Older blacks, she said "have tried to shield young people from what we have suffered. And in so doing, we seem to have a more complacent attitude.

"We must double and redouble our efforts to try to say to our youth, to try to give them an inspiration, an incentive and the will to study our heritage and to know what it means to be black in America today."

At a celebration in her honor that same year, she said: "I am leaving this legacy to all of you ... to bring peace, justice, equality, love and a fulfillment of what our lives should be. Without vision, the people will perish, and without courage and inspiration, dreams will die - the dream of freedom and peace."

On the Air with Me!!

I recently did an interview on First Cut a satellite radio show hosted by Artist First.

To hear what I rambled about just click here Donna Hill

The host of First Cut is Nicole Stevenson and she has some great interviews in her archives. Check her out for upcoming shows at Artist First and click on First Cut for the schedule.


An Interview with Donna Hill

I recently did an interview on Artistfirst. If you click on Donna Hill you can hear the interview. Be sure to turn on your speakers.

Nicole Stevenson is the host of First Cut and has had some great folks on the show. Be sure to check out Artist First and her show First Cut for the schedule.


Sunday, October 16, 2005

Censorship on the Rise

The U.S. Government has its nose in everything these days. They have gotten us so paranoid about spooks in the attic, moles in the basement and secret cells living next door that we have inadvertently, little by little allowed them to erode our basic American freedoms all in the name of "keeping us safe." If we don't begin to pay attention to the laws that continue to slip under the radar one day we will all wake up and need to show ID to leave our homes.

As Gil Scott Heron infamously said, "The revolution will not be televised." Wake up America and check out this really scary article.

Censorship on the Rise in Hollywood
by Scott Holleran

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Always a new Gimmick

Always a new gimmick, and if you need someone to fall for it, the person is me.  I saw an ad about BLOGGER FOR WORD.  So I checked it out. And now I can write up my blogs without going into the blog account but simply typing in word and then publishing to the blog.  Pretty nifty.