News from Heidi
Here you can find news about the book, festival, and what's happening with Heidi.
It was my last East Coast reading on what my friends jokingly call my never-ending book tour that started in January 2010 with the hardcover release of The Girl Who Fell From the Sky and continued almost non-stop until, well, now. Rather than being excited, I was honestly just pooped.
But then wonder of wonders, just before the reading I met for the first time some fellow Afro-Vikings. (You should know that in my unofficial Census there are now 11 known Afro-Vikings living in the United States and at least three in Denmark.) Meeting them was so cool. It was like finding a mirror finally at age 41!
I was getting my energy up for the reading, but I didn't really need it, because there was a good and lively crowd there. I had the best time--I hope they did too. Thank you Jeff for the invitation and thank you all for coming out!
A couple of months ago, I got an invitation I couldn't resist. The folks at Booktowne had chosen my book for the mother-daughter book club and wanted me to visit with the readers. Wonderful don't you think? And kind of a dream--to have the book discussed among the generations--to talk through the difficult stuff--to share a story together about coming into womanhood and the joys and perils. Honestly, I was so thrilled, I didn't even think about how I was going to get there. There must be a train from NYC I assumed. I would figure it out.
About a week before the visit, I finally did my homework and realized that it was a three or three and a half hour train ride to what is not exactly Snooki territory, but it is pretty far from NYC Penn Station. "No worries," the good folks at Booktowne said. "We will pick you up from Metropark -- one simple train ride from Manhattan and we will drive you the rest of the way." So now it was not only easy, but necessary that I get there. I was so appreciative of how easy they made it for me to get there--and how incredibly welcoming.
The group that gathered that night in Booktowne was magical. Moms and daughters and some just excited to enjoy an author talk in their hometown. I couldn't have asked for more. You must see the lovely video of the evening that the extraordinary Maribeth Pelly put together to commemorate the evening.
Thank you Maribeth! Thank you Rita (the owner of Booktowne! Thank you to all of the folks who came out that night for a really special conversation. I met the real young women of the Jersey Shore that night and they are smart and lovely and have a special place in my heart!
It's May and that means it's time once again for Mixed Experience History Month. I started this month-long celebration on my blog in 2007. I profile up to two dozen folks during the month of May who are part of the Mixed experience and who have made significant contributions in their lives in politics, the arts, science, and more. I also sometimes include important events in my write-ups.
Mixed Experience History Month is my effort to counteract the idea that our society has only become truly multiracial in the Obama age. Truth is, it's been going on forever--the stories have just been silenced.
So please tune in this month as I post profiles every weekday of folks you may have heard about and maybe some you haven't and learn a little about the history of the Mixed experience. And check out some of the previous year's profiles: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010.
Mixed Experience History Month is my annual blog post series celebrating the history of the Mixed experience. Established in 2007, Mixed Experience History Month is my effort to show that we have long been a nation of multiracial and multicultural individuals of achievement (not tragic mulattoes). Please look for more profiles of people, places and events of the Mixed experience every weekday of May right here at Lightskinned-ed Girl, the blog! Thanks for reading.
Thanks to the very lovely Barbara Mead of Reading Group Choices, a wonderful resource for book clubs and avid readers, who gave me an opportunity to talk with the amazing New York Times best-selling author Caroline Leavitt (Pictures of You) about the real nitty gritty of writing. Check out the whole interview here.
It was a real thrill to talk at the Post & Courier Books & Author Luncheon last week in Charleston, SC. Some 600 book lovers attended and they were lovely! I was part of a line-up that included big-time writers Kim Edwards, Mark Richard, Luanne Rice, and Paula McLain. And yes, me, the puppy writer of the bunch! Thank you Post & Courier and to my fellow panelists--it was a joy!
I will confess: I had no idea where Ellensburg, WA was when I said yes to the invitation to visit extended by Michele Bradshaw of Jerrol's Books and the Friends of the Library in Ellensburg because what could be better than tea and cookies and 100+ people who love books. But I am so glad they found me! More than two dozen book clubs gathered to share their latest favorites and then, well, to hear me read. They were wonderful. Many of them had read the book already and I was fascinated by their questions. I had a great time; but can you believe I left without trying a single cookie? So, I think I might have to go back.
As you know, The Girl Who Fell From the Sky was Pennie's Pick at Costco for March. I did a couple of signings at Costco warehouses in Seattle and Vermont, but I really wanted to do a signing on my home turf. Last Sunday, the Costco locations in Marina del Rey, and Hawthorne hosted me. Awesome stuff. In particular, I have to say thank you to Clive's whole crew at Hawthorne and in particular Claudette who drew folks to the table with her good cheer, lovely smile, and voluble introduction of me to passersby. I didn't keep a good count, but I think I signed a good 60+ books that day finding new readers I might not otherwise have found.
For the first time Portland Community College did a campus-wide PCC Reads and they chose The Girl Who Fell From the Sky. I was honored, but also incredibly thrilled. I took classes at PCC as a high school student when I thought I wanted to graduate early. And my mom is a long-time PCC employee. I couldn't have asked for a more energizing or meaningful visit. I met with students, faculty and staff on four campuses over breakfast, over snacks, in panel discussions, readings, and a kick-a** live radio show of sorts. The book was taught in dozens of classes including English as a Second Language classes, reading comprehension, writing composition, and social justice courses. The response from the students was overwhelming. After a moving panel discussion about the Mixed experience at Southeast Center, a group of students, faculty and staff presented me with the most amazing, gorgeous piece of art--a quilt that they had made in response to the book. Can you believe it? I just can't get over how amazing this is. (Thank you Karen Engstrom for bringing it all together!) Then it was off to Rock Creek where I did a reading and then met with a smaller group over some nibblies to talk about the book. The next day is a little bit of a blur because it was so emotional. My mom was in the audience as were a bunch of folks I hadn't seen in years--it felt like This is Your Life. I had done a reading at Cascade last year while on the hardcover tour so they asked me to talk about my educational and publishing journey. I choked up a couple of times as I talked -- my mom was beaming up at me -- the journey (which at times I would have called depression and despair) really was worth it! Then a short reception to talk with folks some more where I met some lovely people who I think will be new friends.
After an hour or so it was off to Sylvania campus where Dave Stout and crew had created a fantastic live stage show essentially. I felt like Oprah as I invited a few groups of students to the stage to ask questions of me about my experiences and the book. An incredibly talented young woman named Miyabi Inoue originally from Japan presented me with the most amazing watercolor that she was inspired to create in response to my book. Again, I was floored. Such beautiful art in response to my book? I couldn't have asked for more.
And wow, I can't stop thinking about the powerful staged reading of a couple of passages from the book. Thank you to the Illumination Project performers and their director Jeannie. After the show, I signed some books, checked out the wonderful community photo project that the students had done. And then met with a group of students over nibblies in the library. I loved their questions and energy.
I have to say that my time at PCC was nothing less than transformative. Thank you for two amazing days.
After some time off the road, I actually was itching to go again, and I couldn't have ended up in a better place than Hood River. Waucoma Books hosted a wonderful evening at the Naked Winery where I talked with readers over wine (fully clothed btw ). I first met Jenny at PNBA, the regional booksellers event, in 2009 before my book was released. I was so jazzed to meet her because she was literally the first fan to write on my Facebook Page and on top of it she was a bookseller. It was a real treat to see her on her own stomping grounds and even better to be able to give her a big hug for being such a wonderful evangelist for my book. Thank you to the folks of Hood River for a wonderful night!
WARNING: This is not your parents' Ebony Magazine. True to the magazine's word they are really changing things up in their latest issues. In the May issue, on newstands NOW, Ebony Magazine devotes a good dozen pages to stories and essays exploring the Mixed experience. I am honored that the editors asked me to write about my Mixed experience!