The Indie Book that Could…and DID for Good!

Alternately astonished, agog, giddy, daunted, delighted and more, my mind has been an emotional carousel since the release of my book Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists. News that book critic Kam Williams recently listed Giving Back among the 10 Best Black Books of 2011 set my head spinning deliriously and it hasn’t slowed yet.

The fact that a homemade (i.e., independently published) book by novices merited ranking among those of seasoned authors and publishing house giants is remarkable, to say the least. While I set my sights sky high from the outset and then joined with others to pour my soul into producing a compelling book, uncertainty loomed over whether Giving Back would garner extensive national attention, however well done or worthy.

Three months after the book’s release, wide praisemedia buzz, brisk sales and coast-to-coast readers have pushed aside prior concerns. Making a top-ten list further affirms our work and casts a spotlight that few indie books capture.

Giving Back is presently a contender for a 43rd NAACP Image Award nomination for Literature. The Hollywood Bureau organizes the awards program, which is “the nation’s premier event celebrating the outstanding achievements and performances of people of color in the arts as well as those individuals or groups who promote social justice through their creative endeavors.” There are 53 award categories, spanning television, motion picture, recording and literature. Giving Back is vying for one of five nominations in the Outstanding Literary Work – Non-fiction category.

Receiving a nomination would brighten the spotlight on Black philanthropy and usher in exciting opportunities. I don’t know what our chances are for a nomination, but I do know that Giving Back has already overcome formidable odds, which leaves me optimistic. Without benefit of a publishing industry “machine” to promote the nomination, Charles, NGAAP-Charlotte and I are relying largely on friends, family and grassroots publicity to get the word out. Goodness knows, It’s worked wonders so far.

Here are things you can do to help Giving Back secure a nomination:

If Giving Back actually secures a nomination in January, then dues-paying NAACP members can vote (online, I think) for Giving Back. More on this later. First things first.

Oh . . . and if you missed it, here’s the list:

  1. Sister Citizen by Melissa V. Harris-Perry
  2. Fatal Invention by Dorothy Roberts
  3. Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness? by Touré
  4. Muzzled by Juan Williams
  5. A Reason to Believe by Governor Deval Patrick
  6. Ashamed to Die by Andrew J. Skerritt
  7. Super Rich by Russell Simmons
  8. Giving Back by Valaida Fullwood
  9. Fail Up by Tavis Smiley
  10. High on the Hog by Jessica B. Harris

Whatever the outcome with the NAACP Image Awards, I’m thrilled and honored to share the stories, images and cultural legacy of Giving Back. — VF

Home Again

Earlier this month, I was a guest blogger on The Blair Essentials, the indie book blog of John F. Blair, Publisher. Blair is a publishing house in Winston-Salem, NC that distributes Giving Back to the book trade.

The blog piece was a joy to write and share, and as I prepare to return to my beloved hometown for the holidays, I thought I’d share it again.

So much about Giving Back is rooted in Morganton, North Carolina. Though a large share of the book’s stories and photography feature people and places in Charlotte, the city where I now reside, my hometown is without a doubt the book’s epicenter.

Morganton, a hilly prelude to North Carolina’s western mountains, is where I grew up and…read the entire blog post.

Clouds Do Come

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” — Rabindranath Tagore

It’s been a while since I posted a word cloud (fyi, word clouds happen to be one of my favorite things ever). Here’s one reflecting recent posts on this blog.

Wordle.net

And you can always revisit this cloud…and this one…and this one…and this one, too.

Have a wonder-filled day!

— VF

Booking It

Charles and I have had the good fortunate of booking upward of a dozen Giving Back book events across Charlotte and other communities.

A recent book signing was hosted at my hometown church, Gaston Chapel AME in Morganton, North Carolina. Seeing family and friends, including former classmates and teachers, turning out in droves was the kind of delight you can only get at home. The Women’s Ministry that sponsored the event transformed the hall, spectacularly, for my book signing and awarded me a lovely engraved plaque, too. All too sweet for words.

Morganton is back on the schedule in February 2012. Burke County Public Library has selected me as the featured author for the 10th Annual “Gathering of the People.” It’s a culminating event in celebration of Black History Month that recognizes local African Americans who have made significant professional or community contributions. This is a wonderful honor, plus nothing rivals hometown love! (Well…except perhaps being utterly swept away by an impromptu Marley family book signing “event” during our Thanksgiving gathering in Asheboro, NC.)

Three back-to-back events are on the schedule next week. I’m pretty excited about the mix of settings and audiences each event will draw. One is the BPA Annual Meeting in DC where I’m the keynote speaker. Another is an program sponsored by the Charlotte Chapter of AFP. The third is at Park Road Books, a popular independent bookstore in Charlotte.

At the Park Road Books event, Charles and I will give our first joint “book talk” about our inspiration for the Giving Back Project, our collaboration on developing the book and our roller-coaster of ride while collecting the content and getting it published. Our talk will be followed by a Q&A session and book signing.

We hope you can come join us on Wednesday, December 7 at 7:00 pm.

Here’s your invitation!

— VF