Black Aesthetic Archives




Dr. Maxine Thompson Live Internet Radio Shows
This Week’s Guest – Monday, April 10, 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.


April 10, 2017


9:00 P.M. Eastern Standard Time

This Week’s Guest – Monday, April 10, 2017

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


April 10, 2017


April 10, 2017


Oneita Jackson
Author of

Letters From Mrs. Grundy
Nappy-Headed Negro Syndrome



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





Dr. Maxine Thompson Live Internet Radio Shows
This Week’s Guest – Monday, November 7, 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.


November 7, 2016


9:00 P.M. Eastern Standard Time

This Week’s Guest – Monday, November 7, 2016

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


November 7, 2016


November 7, 2016


Patricia G. Pope
Author of

The Bishop



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 Ebony Tree

Click here.

Author: Dr. Maxine Thompson

Reviewed by Fran Lewis

The trunk of a tree is its foundation holding it tightly in position keeping it in the ground and safe from toppling over. Each branch or limb supported by the trunk and sporting its own leaves and flowers making the tree unique in its own right. But, when a limb falls off, the foundation wavers and the tree begins to deteriorate and its complexion changes as the tree I no longer the same leaving a definite void of emptiness where the limb had once been. Fragile, filled with leaves that can crumble at the slightest touch this once stalwart tree is no longer able to protect its limbs and the foundation it stands on.

Families are held together by their own foundation. Parents provide or are supposed to provide the same support or foundation as the trunk of the tree for their children. Each parent providing a different support or foundation for their children hoping to given them the needed strength to keep them strong and the foundation from falling down. But, like the ground that settles or a volcano that is about to erupt or a tsunami waiting to unleash its terrifying wrath and destruction secrets, lies and hidden truths can cause the same or even more irreparable damage to a family’s foundation.

Steel vaults are airtight and their contents safely protected. Families remaining stalwart in their beliefs and relationships fragile although having weathered many turbulent storms and times often keep their secrets locked safely away from the eyes and ears of others.

Let’s take a trip back in time to the 1950’s when many African American women were raising their families, struggling with prejudices, hardships in a world that dealt many of them a bad hand and hear their words, listen to their voices and understand their plight. Meet Imani a twenty-five year old journalist wanting to create a family documentary and learn more about her heritage. But, her mother Jewel would reveal just so much and her tightly lidded secrets, sacrifices, lies and deceits would not all come out. It is rare that a novel is so riveting, so poignant and grips the reader’s heart and soul as The Ebony Tree by author Maxine Thompson.

Struggling to make a better life for her children and family, wanting to get things done, Jewel Shepherd related the plight of an African American women, in her own words, expressing her true feelings about her spouse, children, family and friends, but even more her cries for help, frustrations and just making ends meet in this explosive and outstanding novel. Let’s meet the Hightower and Shepherd families. Let’s see what happens to their trunks and how their foundations fair.

We begin with Jewel, her five children plus her husband, Solly, who reminds the reader of the grasshopper who never stored food for the winter. Jewel, smart, resourceful and enterprising in her own right, worked hard to keep food on the table, her children clothed and her head above water. But that was not easy with a husband that drank and often wandered.

Mothers of boys treated them differently than they did girls. Girls were considered inferior and often given the tasks and jobs that sons were not. As you meet the many different branches and family members you will understand this even more. Jewel wanted more for herself and her children. Downtrodden and often beaten in her own mind, she took it out on others and felt lost within in her life.

Independent African American women did not exist back then and most did not have the wherewithal to fight and rise above life’s circumstances and forge ahead. Jewel was different. She was a pioneer in her own right and definitely her own person. Jewel did not conform to the ways of others, nor have time to listen to idle gossip or deal with the ridiculous ways of others. Proud and filled with pride she never imposed herself or asked anything from others. She was a stand-alone woman accepting she but never her plight. Wanting more for her children she was strong, arrogant, and definitely motivated.

Filled with discord and family strife, Jewel’s life was filled with many children as her mother’s was but was missing that special love or hug a mother gives her child and one that each one savors. With a family blind her husband’s failings and five children and soon have another on the way, what secrets did Imani hope to uncover and what would the end result be?

Imagine living in a place that smelled from smoke and the air filled with rubber and sulfur. Imagine feeling abandoned as a child when your mother leaves and then returns out of nowhere. How do you react? When your questions are not answered and the reasons for things happen are kept locked inside the other person, do you think that you will not turn out the same?

Mama Lovey was Jewel’s maternal grandmother and she lived with her when her mother left home. Learning about slavery, fighting for freedom and her true parentage unlocked a family secret that would stay with Jewel forever. A Hightower secret. Lovey had her own mind and direction in life. She picked out her own husband and planned her own destiny. Her family owned land and could afford to care for it and never worried about being enslaved. They lived as free men and woman. Her own mother, Luralee hoped for more but had to settle for less. Jewel never felt content and never felt part of any branch of her family. When her children would grow and you hear their stories you will learn that much of what she endured was replayed in different ways through her children.

Turn down the sound of the television. Close your eyes and hear the voices of each character and member of this family. Listen to the stories, understand their own private yearnings and get to know Midge, Paige, Cake Sandwich, Judge and the many members of her family.

As the story continues to unfold the children get older, Midge takes on the role of parent to Jewel’s children and things get more difficult for all of them. Jewel’s life changes even more with Paige’s birth a child so different from the rest just wanting to fit in an be accepted by others. Prankster, tenacious and definitely resourceful she finds herself the brunt of many family differences, scolding’s and at times isolations.

Jewel decided to rise above what others expected and wanted for her. Family situations become difficult. Truths behind many incidents unfold as Imani learns something of her mother’s past but definitely not all. Replete in history, traditions and bringing to light many real life issues, once again author Maxine Thompson delivers a storyline that keeps the reader glued to the printed page throughout this novel. Characters that make you cry, proud and hopeful in a novel spanning four generations of women in the same family and whose roots were about to crumble but one whose foundation would not falter. Jewel, her children, her life, the branches that kept her tree standing, her face to the sun and uplifted her spirits with hope, this is one must read novel.

Listen to Solly’s story, hear about his childhood, his life before Jewel, listen to the final chapters when all the secrets, lies, betrayals and much more are revealed to the reader. Take a journey back and time and meet Jewel and you too will root for her and pray for her as one woman sends a message to all black mothers and woman today: you can rise above anything in life if you do not give up on who you are and yourself. Based on her own family author Maxine Thompson relates to the reader a fictionalized story of her family’s past. What happens to each of her children and Jewel you need to learn for yourself? What Imani learns and still needs to hear remains in Jewel’s private vault. Secrets, some are better kept as secrets.

Fran Lewis: Reviewer

Blog: The Creativist and Divine Serendipity

By Dr. Maxine Thompson

http://maxinethompsonbooks.com

http://maxinethompson.com

On 8-20-16, I moderated a panel workshop at the 10th Annual Leimert Park Village Book Fair in Los Angeles. The panel included Rolanda Watts, (TV Personality, author, Destiny Lingers,) Flo Anthony, journalist/Columnist, author, One Last Deadly Play, Jason Overstreet, author, The Striver’s Row Spy, and Jodi Baker, YA Best selling Author, Trust. The workshop was called “Unlocking the Creativist within you.” One by one, we addressed our individual rituals for writing, our time line for completing a novel, even our future in alternate media such as film.

But I forgot to ask the question about “Divine Serendipity” and how it related to the other writers’ habits. Let me explain.

In October 1997, when I left my job after 23 years of social work, I was stepping into the unknown. Today, I have no regrets. Why? Because I discovered Divine Serendipity. They say that in the Bible, Abraham’s wife, Sarah laughed when God told her she would be giving birth to a son at the age of 90. The name Isaac means “laughter” in Hebrew.

Genesis 21:6. Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.”

Now, I find myself laughing every day as new opportunities have opened their doors to me over the years, since I discovered the Internet in 1998, Internet radio in 2002, and social media in 2006.

I call it another case of Divine Serendipity.

When I look back, in 1999, I was sitting around waiting on the phone to ring from my then agent. Now people are calling me for assistance with their books as an editor/ghostwriter, and I became a literary agent myself. I thank God for having a bigger plan for me than anything I’d ever dreamed of.

The word serendipity came from Horace Walpole’s book, The Three Princes of Serendip. Serendipity is a seeming gift for finding something good accidentally. I like to think of Divine Serendipity as God’s way of working small miracles in our writing life.

I am a person who hates flying. However, when I went to Cush City’s book store opening in September 2000, I flew my first time on a small crop duster airplane from Memphis, Tennessee to Houston, Texas. It was one of the scariest hours of my life. Earlier that summer, I attended the National Association of Black Journalists in Phoenix, Arizona. I faced my fears and had to fly there, too, from LAX airport. In October 2000, I flew through stormy skies to Houston, Texas again, only this time to go on a cruise with Pageturner Black Book Club to CanCun, Mexico. After we set sail, our cruise ship tossed and rolled as we braved ten-foot waves. (It was hurricane season.) But I was at peace. I had faith I was on my purpose.

After I’d survived flying on a “Crop Duster,” I felt my faith grow. I flew numerous times since then, including on a long trip to China with the Minority Business Association. Talking about Divine Serendipity.

See. Just as you face your fears in life, sometimes you must face your fears and write. It takes faith to write something that will have impact on your readers. Writing and creativity involve a lot of Divine Serendipity. Characters show up where there was nothing. New plot points develop. So when you write, rest assured.

Little miracles happen every day. I remember reading that faith is knowing one of two things: that when you leap from the edge, either the ground will appear under your feet, or you’ll be taught how to fly.

Sign up for the free newsletter at http://www.maxinethompson.com or http://www.maxinethompsonbooks.com.

About the Blogger: Dr. Maxine Thompson is a novelist, poet, columnist, short story writer, book reviewer, blogger, an editor, ghostwriter, Internet Radio Show Host, and a Literary Agent. As an editor, she has edited/ghostwritten numerous best-selling books (Including New York Times 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), 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, and Capri’s Second Chance, 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.

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.




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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

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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.

Blog: Alex Haley’s TV Mini-Series “Roots” Now Redux

By Dr. Maxine Thompson

6-2-16

Yesterday, I was standing in line at the post office and the conversation turned to the new TV series, Roots. I had watched some of it on my tablet on the History Channel, but my preference is still for the original classic of Roots, which was groundbreaking in 1977 when I first saw it.

Everyone wanted to know why do they keep creating slavery shows or movies now.

Since that was the groups’ consensus, my opinion was why not? I was vocal about it.

Just as the Holocaust victims never let the world forget the Germans’ atrocities and have erected memorials of the concentration camps, (just to name some examples

http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/history-of-the-holocaust-auschwitz-oven-factory-reopens-as-a-memorial-a-742013.html),
http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScrapbook/MemorialSite/Jewish.html),
then why should we, as African Americans, forget the human atrocities done to us?

One reason we should never forget is because of long-overdue reparations.

The Jews and Native Americans will or have received reparations.

http://rollingout.com/2015/10/07/obama-administration-earmarks-12-million-reparations-holocaust-survivors/

http://www.prrac.org/full_text.php?%20text_id=649&item_id=6623&newsletter_id=17

http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/26/politics/american-indian-settlment/

Bottom line. Why haven’t we, as African Americans, whose ancestors’ free labor built the wealth of this country received our reparations?

If anything, we need more books and movies regarding what happened to our ancestors for over four hundred years in this country. Perhaps to that end, we will receive our reparations.

Why should the holocaust of 60 million and more Africans be forgotten?

Many young African Americans don’t even know their history. Too much of our history was lost due to the laws that banned reading and writing for slaves. (Oh, how I wish I knew what songs or stories they might have sung during the Middle Passage? How did they survive the voyage at all?)

The main thing that survived (besides a few precious books, such as Frederick Douglass’s autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave, and 12 Years A Slave: A True Story : Includes Interviews and Photographs of 30 Former Slaves Authored by Solomon Northrup,)
was the oral tradition.

Our oral tradition is the main vein we have back to the past, such as in Kunta Kinte’s story, which was handed down in Alex Haley’s family.

African Americans not wanting to remember our slave past reminds me of a saying that Harriet Tubman is reported to have said; “I I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.”

There’s a saying, “If you don’t know your past you will keep repeating it.” (Look at the mass incarceration of African Americans.)

I am currently working on a historical fiction book, which is a prequel to my novel, Hostage of Lies. It has involved a lot of research into the slave ancestors’ past. I am following a story that was told to me by an octogenarian (now deceased) in 1995. I am looking for little known stories and facts to support this story.

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