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Dr. Maxine Thompson Live Internet Radio Shows
This Week’s Guest – Monday, March 27, 2017


Maxine Thompson

Dr. Maxine Thompson,
Publisher, Literary Agent, Author, Host of Internet Show is cross-referenced to her other businesses

Dr. Maxine ThompsonArtist First Internet Radio


Dr. Maxine invites you to join her this week on her various shows where she will be speaking with some interesting people.


March 27, 2017


9:00 P.M. Eastern Standard Time

This Week’s Guest – Monday, March 27, 2017

Email dj@artistfirst.com with questions for the author or Dr. Maxine Thompson


March 27, 2017


March 27, 2017


Dr. Maxine Thompson
Publisher, Author, Founder of

Maxine Thompson Literary and Educational Services
Author of
Affirmations and Essays for Melanoid People



Listen to Archives: Replay

Sponsored by:


EXECUTIVE SPONSORS:

January 4, 2010

Dr. Maxine Thompson

Author of
Hostage of Lies

Voted A Best Book of 2009

EDC Creations
Black Pearl Magazine

Black Butterfly Press

If you are interested in becoming a guest and/or a sponsor you may visit:

www.maxinethompson.com
,

www.maxinethompson.com/artistfirst.html for available dates
or via e-mail: maxtho@aol.com

>Home

This press

release may be viewed with links at www.maxinethompson.com/pressrelease.html




Dr. Maxine Thompson Live Internet Radio Shows
This Week’s Guest – Monday, January 11, 2017


Maxine Thompson

Dr. Maxine Thompson,
Publisher, Literary Agent, Author, Host of Internet Show is cross-referenced to her other businesses

Dr. Maxine ThompsonArtist First Internet Radio


Dr. Maxine invites you to join her this week on her various shows where she will be speaking with some interesting people.


January 11, 2017


9:00 P.M. Eastern Standard Time

This Week’s Guest – Monday, January 11, 2017

Email dj@artistfirst.com with questions for the author or Dr. Maxine Thompson


January 11, 2017



Roy Glenn
Author of

Hostile Takeover



Listen to Archives: Replay

Sponsored by:


EXECUTIVE SPONSORS:

January 4, 2010

Dr. Maxine Thompson

Author of
Hostage of Lies

Voted A Best Book of 2009

EDC Creations
Black Pearl Magazine

Black Butterfly Press

If you are interested in becoming a guest and/or a sponsor you may visit:

www.maxinethompson.com
,

www.maxinethompson.com/artistfirst.html for available dates
or via e-mail: maxtho@aol.com

>Home

This press release may be viewed with links at www.maxinethompson.com/pressrelease.html


Ten Tips for Raising the Stakes in Your Fiction/Screenplays

By Dr. Maxine Thompson

http://www.maxinethompsonbooks.com
http://www.maxinethompson.com

Give your characters quirks, if you want to raise the stakes in your fiction.

Have your character be the outsider, at odds with his environment, or even a threat, where people isolate or attack him, such as in Toni Morrison’s novel, Beloved. After escaping from slavery, in an act of desperation, Sethe slashed her baby’s throat, rather than see the child go back to bondage. Although later, when she was released from jail, the community threw up an implacable wall of scorn and disgust towards Sethe and her surviving children. In the end, though, Sethe realizes her need for community.

Janie, the protagonist, in Zora Neale Hurston’s 1937 novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, is also an outsider. She is ostracized because she married a younger man.

Often, I feel like an outsider and it struck me. Most writing is penned by artists who feel like outsiders. Women of other races have felt same sense of being different, judging from the misfits in Carson McCullers’ debut novel, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.

As an African American woman, I can identify with feeling like an outsider, feeling marginalized. I know how it feels to live on the fringes of society. I know the double whammy scourge of both racism and sexism.

Here are ten more tips for raising the stakes in your fiction/screenplays. This will produce both suspense and tension, which will compel your reader to stay up all night reading your book/screenplay.

1. Put your characters on the edge. The best fiction, films, and plays do this. (Consider Tennessee Williams’ play, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Edward Albee’s play, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and the movie, Set It Off, based on the screenplay written by Kate Lanier and Takashi Bufford.)

2. Set a timetable. The characters only have one week or better yet one day to save their kidnapped child’s life in exchange for a million-dollar ransom.

3. Put danger of loss of some kind in the character’s life. Example: One student in my writing class opened her novel with a child twirling in the mirror. I said change the point of view and let the mother wake up and not find her child in bed. That definitely would raise the stakes. That’s every parent’s worst nightmare—not being able to protect their child and keep her safe.

4. Life is hard. Show it, but in the end, be kind to your characters. Even in a dark story have some redemption. (Example: Henry Dumas’s short story collection, Goodbye, Sweetwater.)

5. Love all your characters, the good, the bad, the ugly. This shows in the respect you give a character. Even if the character is a serial killer, see his side of the story. It worked with serial killer, Hannibal Lector, in Thomas Harris’s novel, Silence of the Lambs.

6. Turn the juice up on your characters, like in the movie, Forrest Gump, (starring Tom Hanks, which was based on the novel by Winston Groom.) I loved the scene in the movie where Forrest’s friend, Lt. Dan (played by actor Gary Sinese), Vietnam vet/amputee, climbed up high on their boat’s sail mast, lightning and thunder swirling about him. He all but cursed God for how he had lost his legs in Vietnam, and to paraphrase, he asked God, “Is that all you got? Give me more.” (Sinese’s sensitive portrayal of a once invincible soldier reduced to a pathetic self-pitying specter of his former strength brought him the Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.) Do just that in your writing. Give your characters more problems than it seems they can handle.

Likewise, go for the jugular vein in your characters. Let it rip. Now here is the paradox. Be kind in the end, yet, at the same time, you should not resolve the character’s problems. Allow the characters to solve their own problems. It is all right if your story has an unhappy ending. But don’t be too kind to the characters along the way, when it comes to piling on the complications and problems. That means you’ve identified too closely with them.

7. If your character has cancer, double this whammy up by having her husband
leave her, after she has her breast removed. Kimberla Lawson Roby does this in her novel, Best Friends Forever.

8. Sandbag the main character when he’s down, and paint him up into a corner, where there doesn’t appear to be any way out.

9. Use secrets to up the ante. A ghost, by definition, is something which haunts. When people have family secrets they are like ghosts. Writers can’t mine family secrets enough for story ideas, and I do this in both of my novels, The Ebony Tree and Hostage of Lies. A family can be very clannish and protective of its secrets. But you know what? Every family has secrets. Every family is somewhat dysfunctional. Another secret could be that your character hit, possibly killed a person or a child, in a hit-and-run car accident and never reported it. This will haunt the person’s conscience.

10. Have your character have to choose between two negative outcomes. Critical choice is important in a work of fiction. (Should you pull the plug on a child in a coma, or let the child live on indefinitely with no quality of life?)

These are just some ways you can raise the stakes in your writing and keep readers turning pages.

About the Blogger: Dr. Maxine Thompson is a novelist, poet, columnist, short story writer, book reviewer, an editor, ghostwriter, Internet Radio Show Host, and a Literary Agent. As an editor, she has edited New York Times and numerous other best-selling books for African Americans, including many books for men and women who are incarcerated in the prison system. During a down economy, as a literary agent, she has negotiated many book deals for African Americans.

She is the author of Novels, The Ebony Tree, Hostage of Lies, LA Blues, LA Blues 2, and LA Blues 3, A Place Called Home (A Short Story Collection), The Hush Hush Secrets of Writing Fiction That Sell, a contributor to bestselling anthologies Secret Lovers, (A Black Expression Bestseller) All in The Family, and Never Knew Love Like This Before, (Also a Black Expression Book Club best-seller, and Kindle Bestseller).

She is also an ebook author of The Hush Hush Secrets of Writing Fiction That Sell 1, 2, The Hush Hush Secrets of Making Money as a Writer, The Hush Hush Secrets of Creating a Life You Love, Novellas, The Katrina Blues, Capri’s Second Chance, and Summer of Salvation, contributor to Proverbs for the People, and Editor/Contributor to anthology, Saturday Morning.

Her novels, The Ebony Tree, (Won a small Pen Award in 1997), Hostage of Lies, (Voted a Best Book of 2009), LA Blues, (2011), and LA Blues II, (2012), which were featured in Black Expressions’ Catalog in August 2012. LA Blues 3 was published in August 2013.




Dr. Maxine Thompson Live Internet Radio Shows
This Week’s Guest – Monday, August 15, 2016


Maxine Thompson

Dr. Maxine Thompson,
Publisher, Literary Agent, Author, Host of Internet Show is cross-referenced to her other businesses

Dr. Maxine ThompsonArtist First Internet Radio


Dr. Maxine invites you to join her this week on her various shows where she will be speaking with some interesting people.


August 15, 2016


9:00 P.M. Eastern Standard Time

This Week’s Guest – Monday, August 15, 2016

Email dj@artistfirst.com with questions for the author or Dr. Maxine Thompson


August 15, 2016

Kati Klebber, BSN, RN, CCRN
Author of

Admit One: What You Must Know When Going to the Hospital But No One Actually Tells You!


Listen to Archives: Replay

Sponsored by:


EXECUTIVE SPONSORS:

January 4, 2010

Dr. Maxine Thompson

Author of
Hostage of Lies

Voted A Best Book of 2009

EDC Creations
Black Pearl Magazine

Black Butterfly Press

If you are interested in becoming a guest and/or a sponsor you may visit:

www.maxinethompson.com
,

www.maxinethompson.com/artistfirst.html for available dates
or via e-mail: maxtho@aol.com

>Home

This press release may be viewed with links at www.maxinethompson.com/pressrelease.html


The Power of Voice: An Artist in the Midst of War

By Dr. Maxine Thompson

“Those who commit the murders, write the reports.” Ida B. Wells

Ida B. Wells was an activist and a journalist. According to Wikipedia: She was born into slavery in 1862, but as an adult, she documented lynching in the United States in the 1890s, showing that it was often used as a way to control or punish blacks who competed with whites, rather than being based on criminal acts by blacks, as was usually claimed by whites. Needless to say, she had a voice at a time when it was dangerous for a black person, a woman at that, to have a voice.

In that vein, I never realized how important my voice was until I lost mine after a thyroid surgery in 2008…. We’re not talking laryngitis, either. Have you ever tried to ask for directions when you sound like a fog horn, and the mailman can’t understand you? Or, have you tried to order a fast-food take-out over the drive-through window speaker when your voice won’t go up enough decibels for the person on the other end to hear you? Or, better yet, have you ever hosted an Internet radio show where you sound horrible, and you know it, but you have to move on because this is part of your calling? Talk about frustrating, and that was only my literal voice. How about my voice in the world?

Well, it started me to thinking about how so many African American authors, who weren’t given a chance to get published back through the years, even up through the 80s, and early 90s, (I was one of them), have now been given a voice. Many have self-published to get their words, their voice, so to speak, out to the world. I know I did. Eventually, I sold 6 books to other publishers, but now I’m relaunching my books under my own company.

Anyhow, some African Americans have been published through traditional, mainstream publishers, but the point is, we now have a voice. The Internet and social media have opened a lot of doors, too. Over the past 8 years, with President Barack Obama as our first African American Chief of Staff, we saw how important the voice of the people can be when we united.

Now we are living in an even more treacherous time, much of which is being documented through technology and social media. But as writers, we need to document. The power of the pen still reigns.

Whether the media forgets, we should never forget. Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Alva Braziel, Delrawn Smalls Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, and on the anniversary of Sandra Bland’s death, everything is the same. Let’s not forget Trayvon Martin, either. Do you recall any convictions for these murder victims? Do you expect to see any convictions for the more recent murder victims, Alton Sterling, Philandro Castile, which were captured on video and live streamed for the world to see? Or more recently, Charles Kinsey, a behavior therapist, who was shot by police Monday, 7-18-16, with his hands held up in the air. Will there be any conviction?

What should we do as writers? We write. My business philosophy, taken from my old job at the Los Angeles County Department of Children Services, is, “If you don’t write it down, it didn’t happen.” For example, if a child was injured or killed in a foster home, or in its parent’s home, and the authorities couldn’t find any documentation in your case, indicating you had made all reasonable efforts to supervise and protect that child, you were in deep trouble.

Likewise, if you don’t write what you are seeing happening here in the United States, you are just as involved in the complicity of these crimes we see around us.

Our job, as a writer, involves taking a stand. What is going on in America is wrong. Systemic racism is wrong. This involves all of its offshoots—mass incarceration of Blacks, poverty, redlining, racial profiling, police brutality, miseducation, and lack of reparations for our ancestors who provided the free labor which built the wealth of this country.

On my last radio show, 7-18-16, where I interviewed 21-year-old author, Terrence R. McCrae, who penned the book, “What Should We All do After the Trayvon Martin Trial?” I’ve cited other books which, (along with the Underground Railroad, abolitionists, and the fact slavery was morally wrong,) helped end slavery. These books include, but are not limited to, David Walker’s Appeal (written in 1829,) Frederick Douglass’s narrative, My Bondage and My Freedom, and even a white writer’s novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. In the 20th century, another white writer, the late Harper Lee, addressed racism in the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, in the brilliant summation given by the attorney’s character, Atticus Finch. One of the best books of the 20th Century, which addressed the internal devastation (yet the triumph of the human spirit) of slavery, was Pulitzer Prize-Winning novel, Beloved, by Toni Morrison.

Let’s face it. We’re in a war. A war on our community. As artists, this is definitely a time that the power of the written word is just as powerful as YouTube, Periscope, and other social media outlets.

Let us never forget. If you don’t write it down, it didn’t happen. I always see it on a deeper level. Without writing our passage down, “we,” as a people, didn’t happen.

About the Blogger: Dr. Maxine Thompson is a novelist, poet, columnist, short story writer, book reviewer, an editor, ghostwriter, Internet Radio Show Host, and a Literary Agent. As an editor, she has edited numerous best-selling books for African Americans, including many books for men and women who are incarcerated in the prison system. In a down economy, as a literary agent, she has negotiated over 100 book deals for African Americans. She is the author of Novels, The Ebony Tree, Hostage of Lies, LA Blues, LA Blues 2, and LA Blues 3, A Place Called Home (A Short Story Collection), The Hush Hush Secrets of Writing Fiction That Sell, a contributor to bestselling anthologies Secret Lovers, (A Black Expression Bestseller) All in The Family, and Never Knew Love Like This Before, (Also a Black Expression Book Club best-seller, and Kindle Bestseller).

She is also an ebook author of The Hush Hush Secrets of Writing Fiction That Sell 1, 2, The Hush Hush Secrets of Making Money as a Writer, The Hush Hush Secrets of Creating a Life You Love, Novellas, The Katrina Blues, Capri’s Second Chance, and Summer of Salvation, contributor to Proverbs for the People, and Editor/Contributor to anthology, Saturday Morning.

Her novels, The Ebony Tree, (Won a small Pen Award in 1997), Hostage of Lies, (Voted a Best Book of 2009), LA Blues, (2011), and LA Blues II, (2012), which were featured in Black Expressions’ Catalog in August 2012. LA Blues 3 was published in August 2013.

Blog: Self-Publishing (Indie Publishing): The New Middle Passage <p>

(Originally published in 2000; Taken from The Hush Hush Secrets of Writing Fiction That Sells (2002)

By Dr. Maxine Thompson)

http://www.maxinethompson.com
http://www.maxinethompsonbooks.com

“When you walk in purpose, you collide with destiny.”

Pastor Ralph Buchanan

In 1992, when I wrote my poem, “The Middle Passage,” I was a frustrated, overworked
social worker with a caseload of 80 children—too many of them being termed as “crack
babies.” These babies were the offspring of the majority of my African American,
formerly known as “South Central” Los Angeles substance-abusing clients/brothers/sisters.

Having lost many of my childhood friends to this same demon—drug addiction—who
knows how much genius has been lost—I think I’ve been on a mission to reclaim all
that lost talent ever since. There’s a saying, “Let your misery become your ministry,
and your mess become your message.”

Although I hadn’t seen Julie Dash’s film, Daughters of the Dust, at the time I penned my
poem, I believe the ancestors inspired “The Middle Passage.”

“We are the children of those who chose to survive,” the matriarchal grandmother,
Nana Peasant, says in Dash’s movie, Daughters of the Dust.

One day, after seeing one more drug baby fight for his life on an inhalator, I had had enough. In anger, I sat down and wrote this poem. I saw a connection between the two figurative “middle
passages.” The slaves had no choice over being in captivity, just as these innocent
“drug addicted babies” had no choice over their mother’s addiction. For these
newborns, the spiritual and physical “middle passage” from their mother’s womb to their first breath was as fraught with peril as “the middle passage” was for their historical counterpart–the
African ancestors who traveled “the middle passage” from Africa to the islands, and the
continents of South and North America. Perhaps I was giving vent to the ancestors’
sense of sorrow.

One thing for sure, though, when I wrote this poem, I had no idea that 9 years later, a
woman, Gloria Battle, an angel (as I called her,) on my path of enlightenment, would read
my poem in a college class and later invite me to Sodus, New York to speak to young people and to conduct a self-publishing workshop. I call this a case of synchronicity.
Gloria Battles was part of God’s answer to my desire to get out and do workshops.

Gloria Battles, a volunteer and community activist, was one of the founding members of the Imani Festival in Sodus, New York. Sodus is located in Northern New York near Rochester, and only had a small Black population. Mrs. Battle worked hard to keep cultural awareness going in this city.

Following a thirteen-hour trek from Los Angeles, to Rochester, due to plane delays and
computer failures on the rerouted plane, I finally arrived safely at 1:00 a.m. (This was
the first real problem encountered since becoming a frequent flier–a big switch from my cocoon as a former hate-to-fly person.) Anyhow, Gloria Battle, along with her husband, were there to meet me. They drove me out to a rural area nearly an hour away and by 3:00 a.m., I was happily deposited in my hotel.

The next day, after my workshop with a group of teenagers and teachers, when Mrs. Battle took me sightseeing, I found the Sodus/Rochester area reminded me of a pastoral
painting filled with roaming fields, land unblemished by buildings and open expanse. We visited The Village of Sodus Point where the wealthy sail their yachts and own
summer homes. The historical Sodus Bay Light House, now a museum, gave a
breathtaking view of Lake Erie, which had a glassy sheen that looked almost like
turquoise in the afternoon sun.

But what impressed me most about the setting was the sense of history and its personal
message it sent to me. My trip to Sodus, New York was not just a business trip as I’d
thought. It provided a spiritual solution to a dilemma I was facing.

How did this happen? I believe what I experienced came about because the place
brought back the ancestral memory of the past. I found out Rochester was one of the
final ports of the Underground Railroad. Rochester was also where Harriet Tubman
brought slaves en route to “Freedom.” This was also the home of abolitionists.
Moreover, Susan B. Anthony formed the woman’s suffragette movement here.
Frederick Douglas founded the North Star newspaper here. Obviously, Rochester has a
rich heritage of social activists for freedom, and the feeling seems to linger in the soil.

It was no accident that I stayed in a hotel by the Erie Canal, which was used for
runaway slaves to escape into Canada. When I strolled along the Erie Canal, it was as
though the ancestor’s spirit returned to me to remind me of the responsibility I have as
a writer/epublisher/literary service person—that I am to call writers to “Freedom.” I
realize, now, I am standing on the backs of my ancestors, who opened the way for this
day of literary freedom.

I’ve often read that the runaway slaves were told to follow the star pattern of the
drinking gourd, or the Big Dipper, which led north. Similarly, I learned that what
explorers called true north was about the journey. True North, in fact, is your authentic
journey through life. I started out thinking my authentic journey was just to be a writer,
and to get published. Now I’ve learned, along the way, that I have a greater calling. I
am trying to point writers True North.

Just as Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglas helped free enslaved Blacks both in
body and mind, I have a ministry to help free new writers (many of them African
Americans) from not publishing their works. This destiny for me is just as important of
a calling as when I worked with abused, neglected children for twenty-three years.

Later, when I returned to Los Angeles, I dreamed of my mentor, Dr. Rosie Milligan’s
bookstore, being flooded in a foot or so of water. Strangely, a disembodied hand floated
in the water. When I shared my dream, she interpreted it as “the helping hand”—a
symbol of what publishing books provide for a drowning people.

Of course, this dream started me thinking. Just as The Underground Railroad was the
freedom train, self-publishing, now called indie publishing, has become the new “freedom train.” It helps authors retain a sense of ownership of the material, and to retain control over the process. Of course, there’s the money, too, for those with marketing savvy. Now, books can be sold domestically and internationally and through many digital outlets such as Apple, Kobo, and others.

But the real reason we gain freedom is that literature and books are the repositories of our culture.

Think about it. The Dark Ages in history began because books were banned. In slavery, reading
was forbidden for Blacks. After manumission, and throughout the twentieth century, as
Blacks, we’ve had several waves of “Literary Dark Ages,” starting from the demise of
Harlem Renaissance in the 20s and 30s. There’s a lesson in the past. It would behoove
many of us never to be lulled into a false sense of security and forget. It’s no secret that
self-published Black writers are fueling the new wave of African American literature.

For the first time in history, on a growing level, (due to the Internet, desktop publishing,
ePublishing, and Print on Demand, social media), we, as Black writers, have a chance to explore our
journey as part of the African Diaspora here in the United States and other lands.

The insight I gained from this trip to Rochester, New York was two-fold. The message
to my personal dilemma was this: although I’m writing my latest novel, I can continue
to help other writers. At the same time, I realize that helping “birth” or “mid-wife” a
book is the same spiritual “middle passage” that giving birth to a new life is. This time
around, I am writing about “The Middle Passage,” not in a pejorative sense, but in a
positive one. Self-publishing or Indie Publishing can be seen as a “middle passage” for aspiring African American writers. At least this time, we have a choice about the journey.

Contact Dr. Maxine Thompson at maxtho@aol.com or bbutterfly1951@gmail.com If you would like assistance with writing, publishing, or marketing your book.

THE MIDDLE PASSAGE


Ever wondered how the ancestors survived

the boat ride from Africa to America?

Smells of everybody’s lives jumbled together

as they lay flanked side by side, in a cesspool

of blood, tears, and stool, dreaming the undreamable.

Deep in the bowels of a slave ship,

where many made their tomb,

a mother’s tears flowed from dried-eyed ducts,

for the suckling babe snatched from her breast,

while hating the enemy whose seed now grew in her womb.

Rattlings of shackles never quite able

to drown out the re-memory of sun-drenched savannahs

where they once roamed as kings and queens

pulverized the spirit. . .

Were they bludgeoned into mindless stupor?

Or did they tell themselves,

“We must be strong; we must survive

for our future sons and daughters”?

For survive they did…only to endure the unwriteable…

bondage…false freedom…lynchings…now drugs…

Ever wondered what the ancestors would believe

if they knew of the perilous journey their future seed

must fork through the middle passage

from their mother’s crack-filled womb?

Deep in the caverns of an incubator,

where many make their tomb,

a drug baby’s life shackled to tubes, ventilators,

not guaranteed to save, like mother’s milk, an umbilical cord,

but an alien world…Now, who’s the slave?

Maxine E. Thompson, 1992

Email: maxtho@aol.com

About the blogger:

Dr. Maxine Thompson is a novelist, poet, columnist, short story writer, book reviewer, an editor, ghostwriter, Internet Radio Show Host, and a Literary Agent. She is the author of Novels, The Ebony Tree, Hostage of Lies, LA Blues, LA Blues 2, and LA Blues 3, A Place Called Home (A Short Story Collection), The Hush Hush Secrets of Writing Fiction That Sell, a contributor to bestselling anthologies Secret Lovers, (A Black Expression Bestseller) All in The Family, and Never Knew Love Like This Before, (Also a Black Expression Book Club best seller, and Kindle Bestseller).

She is also an ebook author of The Hush Hush Secrets of Writing Fiction That Sell 1, 2, The Hush Hush Secrets of Making Money as a Writer, The Hush Hush Secrets of Creating a Life You Love, Novellas, The Katrina Blues, Capri’s Second Chance, and Summer of Salvation, contributor to Proverbs for the People, and Editor/Contributor to anthology, Saturday Morning.

Her novels, The Ebony Tree, (Won a small Pen Award in 1997), Hostage of Lies, (Voted a Best Book of 2009), LA Blues, (2011), and LA Blues II, (2012), which were featured in Black Expressions’ Catalog in August 2012. LA Blues 3 was published in August 2013.

Blog: The Importance of Black Literature (Originally published in 2000)

Taken from The Hush Hush Secrets of Writing Fiction That Sells

By Dr. Maxine Thompson

http://www.maxinethompson.com
http://www.maxinethompsonbooks.com

http://amzn.to/1S2yid7

Although this is officially African American Music Appreciation month, I’d like to address something of equal importance—Black Literature. As an African American literary agent of over 13 years, and an editor of numerous bestselling Black novels and nonfiction for almost twenty years, I’m seeing a slowing of sales of Black books, which concerns me.

As authors of the African Diaspora, we can never get complacent. We need to continue to find ways to gain discoverability of our books. With the closing of Black book stores, the end of The Black Expressions Book Club (which was the Black equivalent of the Doubleday Book Club,) the rise of social media, and many other factors which have impacted our book sales, we have to continue to be creative. As African Americans, there is a reason we need to continue to write. Literature is a repository of our culture.

When I indie published my first novel, The Ebony Tree, in 1995, I’ll never forget how I found out later that my then, 23-year-old niece ran through the house and screamed with laughter, after she read the book. Now mind you, my niece had always been an avid reader of white romance novels since her early teens, but reading my book was like landing on Mars for her. She reportedly asked her mother, “Mama, did Aunt Maxine make this up? Did you guys actually ‘play white’?”

My sister-in-law told her, “Not only did we play white, we dreamed in white. All we ever saw in the books or on TV were white characters. It seemed like they had all the fun.”

Typically, most African Americans who grew up in the 50’s had pictures on the wall of white Jesus, white Santa Claus and even white angels. There was nothing in the media or in books that reflected the beauty of blackness. Needless to say, if there were any books beside the Bible, they were not Black books. It sent a silent message that Black was ugly and white was beautiful. This was as negative of an experience as when reading was forbidden to slaves.

Fast forward almost half a century. I know from rearing my children, who are now adults, that having had African American books and paintings in the home was, and remains, a good influence on their self-esteem and confidence. When a person sees himself reflected in the literature he or she reads, it indirectly helps build a better self-image. For in literature, we find our role models, our archetypes from which we can learn life lessons.

More specifically, in African American literature, the stories are relevant to the Black experience in this country. These experiences range from people coming from different socio-economic classes, from varying urban to country regions, to different professions. We often get the Alger Horatio rags-to-riches story to its reversal, the riches-to-rags story. Most of these stories make social commentaries on how we all play a part in the symphony of the American Dream.

“Black Writers on The Rise,” the headlines screamed and I believed them. At the time, we had a few growing websites, such as AALBC.com, and Black literature magazines such as Black Issues (now defunct, where my publishing company was featured in the July-August 2000 issue; then, in April 2001, my eBook company was featured in Black Enterprises), so I was encouraged.

After all, seeing the different genres of African American books in the local, predominantly Black book stores scattered throughout the LA area, (now, many of which have closed), when I attended my first Book Expo of America (formerly the Book Association of America) held in Los Angeles, California in late April 1999, I thought we had arrived. But I was in for a rude awakening. I had been lulled into a false sense of complacency that we, as African American writers, were being published at the same rate as mainstream books.

To say the least, I was disillusioned. Yes, The Book Expo of 1999 was a big eye-opener. The bad news was this: Our problems (as African American writers) were far from over. When I compared the books represented by the major publishers, I saw that the percentage of Black books was infinitesimally small compared to that of other races.

Not one to be a soothsayer, but I felt the number of African American books could disappear like they did after the Harlem Renaissance, after the late 40’s, and after the Revolutionary 60’s, if we didn’t take control of our own written words.

To that end, I launched the Maxine Thompson Literary Services in late 1998, where I began to edit African American literature. In 2002, I began hosting an Internet radio show for authors, which I have continued down to this day on Artistfirst.com. In 2003, I launched Maxine Thompson Literary Agency.

Even then, I saw the good news was this. The increase in the number of African American books could be attributed, by and large, not only to more Black publishing companies, Black editors and literary agents, but to indie-published books. Given the advent of desktop publishing, the Internet, more Black book clubs, then later, eBooks, IPhone, social media, many writers were taking control of our destines and empowering ourselves by publishing our own stories.

So consider these questions. What are other ways having more Black books have helped? Is it easier to get published by mainstream in 2016? Have things improved for us as Black writers, since the late 1980’s?

From the standpoint of a literary agent, I must say this.The picture is not as bright as things were before the recession of 2008.

Therefore, I’m coming up with new ways to market in a tight publishing market. But my answer is “Never give up.”

Why is indie-publishing so important, particularly for Black writers, if you can’t get your books published by mainstream?

To encourage other writers to pen their stories, here are some of the good things Black literature has brought to this country.

1. Salvation. We can redeem ourselves if we know enough about others who have gone through the fire.

2. Continuity with your ancestors. We have something no other nationality or race in America has—a history of slavery. This impacts our writing as does racism, discrimination, and third-class citizenship.

3. A reading audience who is eager to see stories that reflect their reality.

4. A way of restoring history which was not allowed to be written down in the past.

5. A way of lifting up the next generation through the printed word, in addition to our oral tradition, which is reflected in rap, Hip Hop, and Poetry.

6. A way of promoting racial understanding for other ethnic groups. Personally, I learn
a lot about other parts of the Diaspora when I read books by Haitian Americans, (Farming of the Bones, Edwidge Danticat) or when I read Chinese American literature, (Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan) or any other culture’s literature. (Remember I wrote this around 2000.)

Once, a teacher told me at a book signing, that a study was done at her school. It was found that all the little Black girls said that their image of beauty was still a blond, blue-eyed child or doll. Imagine! This was December 1999! (Sad to say, I understand things have not changed much since then, almost 20 years later.)

It reminded me of the tragic tale in Toni Morrison’s book, The Bluest Eye, where the scourged Black child, Pecola, went insane, all because she wanted blue eyes. This book’s setting was circa 1940.

My point is this. If we keep writing our stories down, we, as African American writers, may not ever have parity in the world of books. But, at the same time, we won’t have another generation of little Black girls playing white, like my friends and I did, with scarves and towels draped over our hair, which we felt wasn’t beautiful enough. Or perhaps, we won’t have little girls going crazy like the fictional Pecola did.

About the blogger:

Dr. Maxine Thompson is a novelist, poet, columnist, short story writer, book reviewer, an editor, ghostwriter, Internet Radio Show Host, and a Literary Agent. She is the author of Novels, The Ebony Tree, Hostage of Lies, LA Blues, LA Blues 2, and LA Blues 3, A Place Called Home (A Short Story Collection), The Hush Hush Secrets of Writing Fiction That Sell, a contributor to bestselling anthologies Secret Lovers, (A Black Expression Bestseller) All in The Family, and Never Knew Love Like This Before, (Also a Black Expression Book Club, and Kindle Bestseller).

She is also an ebook author of The Hush Hush Secrets of Writing Fiction That Sell 1, 2, The Hush Hush Secrets of Making Money as a Writer, The Hush Hush Secrets of Creating a Life You Love, a contributor to bestselling anthologies Secret Lovers, All in The Family, and Never Knew Love Like This Before, (Also a Kindle Bestseller). Proverbs for the People, and Editor/Contributor to anthology, Saturday Morning.

Her novels, The Ebony Tree, (Won a Pen Award in 1997), Hostage of Lies, (Voted a Best Book of 2009), LA Blues, (2011), and LA Blues II, (2012), which were featured in Black Expressions’ Catalog in August 2012.




Dr. Maxine Thompson Live Internet Radio Shows
This Week’s Guest – Monday, June 20, 2016


Maxine Thompson

Dr. Maxine Thompson,
Publisher, Literary Agent, Author, Host of Internet Show is cross-referenced to her other businesses

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Dr. Maxine invites you to join her this week on her various shows where she will be speaking with some interesting people.


June 20, 2016


9:00 P.M. Eastern Standard Time

This Week’s Guest – Monday, June 20, 2016

Email dj@artistfirst.com with questions for the author or Dr. Maxine Thompson


June 20, 2016

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Where Do I Start?
10 PR Quesions and Answers to Guide Self-Published Authors


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January 4, 2010

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