Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Veteran Black Journalist-Novelist Bebe Moore Campbell Dies of Brain Cancer at Her Home

Campbell started her career as a journalist, writing for the New York Times Magazine, Black Enterprise, Essence, Ebony, The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times.

Campbell's last book, Stompin' at the Savoy, was published in September. It's a children's book about a young girl who is magically transported to the famous ballroom where the jazz greats performed. “72 Hour Hold,” is the story of a woman in a love triangle whose life is shattered when her child develops a mental illness. Also among her works were novels, “Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine,” “Singing in the Comeback Choir,” and a memoir, “Sweet Summer, Growing Up With and Without My Dad.”

She received numerous awards throughout her career, including a National Association of Negro Business and Professional Literature Award in 1978, a 1994 NAACP Image Award for literature, a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Grant in 1980 and the University of Pittsburgh’s Distinguished Alumni Award. She was also named an Alumni Trustee of the University in June 2005

After her diagnosis became public, Campbell posted letters on her Web site thanking friends and supporters for their cards, gifts and words of inspiration. Campbell was 56.

Campbell's viewing will be held Saturday, December 2, 2006 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., followed by the funeral service at First A.M.E. Church, 2270 South Harvard Boulevard, in Los Angeles. In lieu of flowers, her family asked that donations be sent to her favorite charities: National Alliance for the Mentally Ill - Urban Los Angeles and the United Negro College Fund.

Bebe Moore Campbell is a gifted writer and will be missed by her reading fans.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Book Covers

What Sells a Book?
People pick up a book for a variety of reasons: they’ve heard about it from a friend or the media, they are familiar with the author and many people believe because the cover entices them to do so.

What Catches Your Eye?
But do people buy books based on the cover design? What pulls you in to make the purchase? Cover art, author’s name, a quick read of the first chapter?

Book Cover Designs
Book cover designs are an essential part of the publishing process. Professional book cover design is essential because readers, retailers and reviewers glance at a book for only a few seconds before they make a choice.

First Impression
A book cover yields most of its power at its introduction to the public eye, after that, the book’s success is riding on the quality of it’s contents (how well or poorly written it is). For most books, the cover is its handshake that greets the world. An attractive cover may also find premium display space in an independent bookstore.

Good vs. Bad Cover Designs
Consumers will purchase a book simply because the cover is beautiful. Some people prefer covers without people on them. Some say a book title taken from a poem or a quote is intriguing. The dust jacket should have a little blurb that gives a good feel for the book. It should be striking and catch the eye and induce a browser to pick up the book.

Some prefer books that weave actual text from the book. Artwork and photographs can take away from the creative effect of a book. A book cover should have something that connects with the story and makes you wonder. Superfluous propaganda about the writer can distract you from purchasing a book.

A Good Marketing Plan
The cover artists themselves become as well-known as the authors and often, the two are tied-in to the reader or collector’s mind. Both large, traditional publishing houses and self-publishers alike are dependent on the cover, initially. But after the initial ”hello” is over, a cover design cannot work alone to sell a book. Write a good book, package it well.

Survey Says...
A Survey published March 3, 2005 by World Book Day, was that 25% of readers claimed to buy books based on friends’ recommendations; 26% bought books based on author familiarity; 6% bought a book because they saw it advertised and only 7% cited cover design.

*the cover design statistic has not changed much since a 1998 Penguin survey.

Free Marketing
Good covers and great titles aside, the fact is that far more people are influenced by good old-fashioned personal recommendations and an author’s reputation. Low first print-runs (less investment from the publisher) have gone on to become huge commercial successes, simply by word-of-mouth.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

A Confessed Book Addict

Reading is my love. I simply could not imagine a world where I couldn’t read, buy or not collect books. Reading allows me to go to new places, meet new people, experience things I haven’t learned or things I didn’t know. Simply owning books is not enough, I want what’s inside. I read to be entertained and enlightened. My desire to learn and read about the subject is what propels me along. I keep a dictionary close by while reading to look up words that challenge my vocabulary.

First off, a good novel is like going on a journey to a far away place. It’s a mental trip that takes you to places and sometimes an era that I’ve never been to or had the opportunity to experience. For example, in "George and Rue" by George Elliott Clarke exploits the social conditions of poor black men living in a poor black community on Canada’s east coast. Clarke refers to as "a displaced Mississippi" and gives readers a historical view of Africadian (Africadian is a term that refers to African and Acadian, and denotes black culture in the maritime region, particularly communities in Nova Scotia) life during the early to mid-20th century.

I read mostly fiction, preferably historical fiction, or a fictional account based around a true event. I like to see how the writer(s) make the book work and see how they dealt with a problem or getting a reader to turn those pages. A book provides a good sense of clarity when you read about an experience that you may have gone through and at times it’s very therapeutic to read how others may have handled the same situation. Sometimes I am the CHARACTER.

I try to get some reading in at least every other day. It’s something I do in my leisure hours, and something I take my time doing. I have vowed to read at least one of my unread books per month. I’m doing good to read 2 books a month! I read a few chapters per day, and I read myself to sleep at night and when I finish a book, I spend another few days reviewing it in my mind and on paper, absorbing any lessons learned or morals to the story. This is probably what distinguishes me from avid readers. I must still be in my infancy stages of becoming an avid reader who reads continuously and maybe several books at a time.

I find it fascinating that people can become addicted to books. But this is indeed a "magnificent obsession". I’m a book addict, but at least I know it. I probably could head up the National chapter of Book Addicts Anonymous. There are worst things to be addicted to. There’s nothing like the rush I get walking into a bookstore, library or used book sale. It makes me shiver thinking about it. I could never think of reading all of my books before I buy new ones. I own 560 books and I’ve read only ¼ of them, so far. I don’t care how many books I have, I will always buy new ones. It’s just something about having my OWN books that makes me an addict. I don’t want to be cured of my addiction, but I must learn techniques for managing it.

Ways to manage my addiction:

  • The library – cheap. This doesn’t work for me because my reading methods are leisurely and I end up owing late fees. I prefer checking out audiobooks, it’s a quick fix to reading a book and it keeps me calm while driving.

  • Used books sales – http://www.booksalefinder.com/ is the most genius source of information that can garner a fine copy for as little as $1.00.

  • Used bookstores inside library’s – this is a wonderful treasure I recently discovered.
I’m not going to do anything crazy like pledge not to buy more books, but I vow to read the ones I have. I’m a book addict and I don’t care who knows it!

Friday, June 02, 2006


If you haven't heard about it yet, then here is something fantastic for bibliophiles. Do you have a catalog of books that sit on your shelf for you to admire? Would you like to share your library with others, but without loaning them out? http://www.librarything.com

You can arrange your books on a virtual shelf and connect with people who read the same things as you or you can keep it private. You can get recommendations based on your interest. The first 200 books are free! It's great.

Friday, April 28, 2006

The Addiction of Book Collecting

The Addiction of Book Collecting
"She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain."
- Louisa May Alcott
I was browsing in Barnes & Noble Bookseller the other day. I already own 450 books and my husband would kill me (not literally) if I purchased another book. I try to justify my purchase by saying "But, it was on sale" - so I stuck strickly with the Bargain Books section. My favorite digs have all closed - Borders Outlets have all shut down leaving me with fewer choices for a quick fix for a cheap book buy.
In 1975,Barnes & Noble took a bold and audacious step by becoming the first bookseller in America to discount books by offering New York Times bestsellers at 40% off publisher's list prices. Barnes & Noble expanded on that idea by opening a 40,000-square-foot Sale Annex directly across from its flagship store.

The company began to expand in the New York/Boston markets by opening smaller discount bookstores. In addition, it acquired two local chains, BookMasters and Marboro Books, which were converted to Barnes & Noble discount stores. Initially, these stores were very successful and expanded to 50 locations. They were eventually phased out in  
                                  favor of the company's larger-format book superstores.So, I'm looking in Barnes & Noble and come across a gold mine of books under $6. My eyes become enlarged and my heart came alive with excitement of bargain books...and by African American authors.

Let me stop and describe to you the feeling a book lover (bibliophile) like myself feels about books and book collecting. We see books as physical objects of beauty and romance, we love the look and feel of our books. Even if some of us do not understand first edition collecting, we have a shelf of treasured books, or even a library full of them. We tend to take care of our books in the same way we care for other valuable objects we own, like paintings or fine china. We see our collections as extensions of our interests, perhaps as a record of our intellectual and artistic experiences. Something about having a book on the shelf gives pleasure; owning books enriches our lives. Since collectors value books as beautiful objects, the books' condition is important. A lovely copy is more appealing than one that has been used and abused. I can read a book from cover to cover without leaving any evidence of having done so. Collectors take care with their books. I use clear vinyl book covers to protect my collection. The underlying reason to collect books lies in the duality of the experience. Not only do collectors take pleasure from the intellectual content of their books, but they also enjoy the process of assembling their collections. Finding a beautiful copy of a treasured first edition is a rewarding experience. Owning one gives continuing delight. Many first edition books appreciate in value over time.

Book collecting does not have to be expensive. You can spend as little or as much as you are able and willing to spend on your collection. Some collectors purchase only new in-print books, others buy only at yard sales and library book sales, others visit their neighborhood used book shop. others order only from mail order catalogs, and many are now buying books on the world wide web, such as Amazon.com. Many collectors purchase their books from a wide variety of sources and limit their purchases to expenditures they can afford.

Why do I collect books? I collect them because they are beautiful, valuable, it's an expanding field that is likely to remain so, and most important of all, I collect them because I love them. Although we are in the minority as regards to the general population, there are still a great many of us. You might not think of yourselves as collectors, but you carry the virus. It's chronic and there is no cure. Book collecting, gives pleasure and adds dimension to our lives.

You can read more on "The Fundamentals of Book Collecting" by visiting www.firsts.com.
Back to my story...So as I make my final selections, because I had to leave some behind, I proceed to the cashier. She asked "Did you find everything okay?" I reply "Yes! and I was so excited when I saw your selection...I love books" I'm practically jumping up and down as I say this - like a child getting a new toy and can't wait to play with it. The cashiers then says "I see you got all bargain book purchases, did you look beyond the bargain book area to the back of the store where our Sales Annex is?" my smile slightly diminishes as she's pointing in the direction I just left. I say "No, what's that?" she explains "That's where we sell used books. You know where customers trade in or donate used books for resale, and some are brand new releases for as little as $12 dollars" I don't hear anything else she's saying...I practically run to the Sales Annex in the middle of the ladies sentence. But, I gather my manners and ask her to do me a favor and hold my bag with the 4 books I just purchased behind the counter while I explore this new gold mine. She obliged with an approving nod of her head and a unhesitating reach for my bag.

I look at every single book on the shelf with a methodical eye. I'm back there so long that when I return to the cashier, she doesn't recognize me as the lady to whom she is babysitting the bag full of books.
That evening, I gently confess my purchases to my husband when he ask me "How was your day? and what did you do?" He believes I need to join BA "Bookaholic Anonymous" if there is such a thing. I'll go to a few meetings, but it probably wouldn't do any good.

Gotta go, my husband just left for work and I'm on my way to a used book sale.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Diabetes Knowledge

Managing Diabetes

I was diagnosed with Gestational diabetes (gestational diabetes is temporary) at the age of 21, when I was pregnant with my first child. Then again three years later with my second child. I developed type 2 diabetes approximately 8-9 years ago. I'm now at the middle age of 43. During pregnancy and until the fall of 2005, I was not managing my diabetes. I suffered high glucose levels averaging in the 300's and higher. My general medicine doctor finally referred me to a specialist or an Endocrinologist. For the first time in my diabetic life I am managing my blood sugars with oral antidiabetic drugs (Metformin) and insulin therapy (Lantus) to maintain normal glucose levels.

I would like to give you words of knowledge and share my steps to achieve this wonderful feeling of being in control. I hope this can help those out there suffering with significantly elevated glucose levels (hyperglycemia).

What is Type 2 Diabetes? When you have type 2 diabetes, your body is unable to properly use the sugar called glucose. Glucose is created when your body breaks down food to use for energy. Your body uses glucose as its main source of fuel with the help of a hormone called insulin. Insulin acts like a key to unlock the body's cells, so glucose can enter and serve as fuel for the cells. This is how most people's bodies maintain a fairly normal amount of sugar in the bloodstream.

That's not the case with type 2 diabetes. People with type 2 diabetes can't maintain normal sugar levels. This happens either because the body doesn't make enough insulin, or because the body can't use its own natural insulin properly - a process called insulin resistance. High blood sugar sets off processes that can lead to complications, like heart, kidney, and eye disease, or other serious problems. The good news is that healthy eating, exercise, and possibly, medications can help.

Visit this site for more information: http://www.diabetes.com/

Who's on Your Health Care Team? No matter what type of diabetes you have, it affects many parts of your life. You can get help from health professionals trained to focus on different areas, from head to toe. A health care team helps you use the health care system to its fullest.

You. You are the most important member of your health care team. Your health care team depends on you to talk to them honestly and to tell them how you feel. You may need to work with your doctor to build a health care team, adding members as the need arises. Self-monitoring via self-adminitered glucose testing using a glucose monitor is an essential element of any diabetes management program.

The PrimaryCare Doctor. A primary care or family practice doctor is who you see for general checkups and when you get sick. A doctor with special training in diseases such as diabetes is called an endocrinologist. Endocrinologist also requires caring for the person as well as the disease. Your primary care doctor may also be the one who refers you to specialists or other team members. Make sure you feel comfortable talking about the details of your health and lifestyle with this doctor. Your doctor's support is important. After the visit, ask yourself:

  • Did the doctor really listen to my concerns?
  • Was the doctor concerned about my diabetes control?
  • Did the doctor answer my questions?

Registered Dietician. A registered dietician (RD) or Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) is trained in nutrician. If your doctor does not work with a dietician, ask him to refer you to one. Your dietician helps you figure out your food needs based on your desired weight, lifestyle, medication, and other health goals (such as lowering blood fat levels or blood pressure). Even if you've had diabetes for many years, a visit to the dietician can help. Dietitians can also help you learn how:

  • the foods you eat affect your blood sugar and blood fat levels
  • to balance food with medications and activity
  • to read food labels
  • to make a sick day meal plan
  • to plan meals
  • to plan for eating out and special events
  • to include ethnic or foreign foods into your meals
  • to find good cookbooks
  • to make food substitutions

Eye Doctor. This doctor is another key member of your health care team, because diabetes can affect the blood vessels in the eyes. The eye doctor will be either an ophthalmologist or an optometrist. You should see your eye doctor at least once a year. These checkups are the best way to detect diabetic eye disease. Your eye doctor will check for any changes in your eyes.

Podiatrist. This health professional is trained to treat feet and problems of the lower legs. Diabetes makes you prone to poor blood flow and nerve damage in the lower legs. You may get infections more often. Sores, even small ones, can quickly turn into serious problems. Any foot sore or callus needs to be checked by your primary care doctor or a podiatrist. Inspect your feet daily for signs of trouble.

Dentist. People with diabetes are at greater risk for gum disease. The excess blood sugar in your mouth makes it a good home for bacteria, which leads to infection. See your dentist every six months. Be sure to tell your dentist that you have diabetes.

Exercise Physiologist or Trainer. Exercise plays a major role in your diabetes care, no matter which type of diabetes you have. Exercise can help lower blood sugar, help your body better use insulin, and help control your weight. It can also improve your blood fat levels, reduce stress, and improve your overall fitness level. The best person to help you and your doctor plan your fitness program is someone trained in the scientific basis of exercise. Always get your doctor's approval for any exercise program.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Readers Cafe

Race continues to be a factor in America that effect just about everything, and the publishing industry is no exception. It has become a controversial issue about African American authors' book(s) being placed in segregated sections of bookstores and titled African American Literature.

According to thefreedictionary.com, African American literature is literature written by, about, and sometimes specifically for African Americans. As African Americans place in American society has changed over the centuries, so too has the focus of African American literature.

African American writers want the same thing almost every writer wants: to become a bestselling author with legions of fans. These authors want to be mainstream and believe that their ethnic is hurting their chances at success.

Most publishing companies argue that African American authors have a unique opportunity to become successful authors because they do in fact, belong to a niche market. Also, what African American authors need to understand is that they are a part of an emerging market. Publishers are now beginning to make attempts to understand the African American market and are developing marketing plans that are different from the mainstream market. So the key is marketing and promoting an innovative plan that will boost sales and name recognition. The author must have confidence in their work and security with who they are, white or black. If there work is quality material people will support it and not be concerned with the race of the writer.

Authors argue that a resounding majority of African Americans want to be considered a writer period, before their considered an African American writer, and want their books to be found beside white author's work. Some authors feel that advertising their blackness dampers their efforts toward appealing to a wider audience. It's the words on the pages of their books that should matter. On the other hand, authors Toni Morrison and Alice Walker always insisted during interviews that they are "black women writers" who write for "black people" and yet at least 40 - 50% of their books are purchased by whites. since many authors are challenged with breaking into mainstream, they have become proactive by turning to self publishing, self marketing, promoting and some have opened their own store(s).

Readers argue that many African American customers appreciate having an exclusively black section in franchise book stores. Before Terry McMillan, Kimberla Lawson Roby and Bernice L. McFadden, blacks were reading books by white authors. But when more black authors came onto the literary scene, blacks are choosing to read books by Bebe Moore Campbell, J. California Cooper and Diane McKinney-Whetstone and many others, because they speak more to our experience. I'm not exclusive to African American authors, I simply enjoy a good book, but the choices that have become available are overwhelming. My personal collection of books by African American authors has reached 431.

Critiques say African American literature exists both within and outside American literature and is helping to revitalize the country's writing. There are some within the African American community who do not like how their own literature sometimes showcases black people. African American literature can exists as its own entity. This artistic pattern has held true with many aspects of African American culture over the last century, with jazz and hip hop being just two artistic examples that developed in isolation within the black community before reaching a larger audience and eventually revitalizing American culture. The same can be said for African American literature. Imprints inside major publishers are creating a phenomenal rise in titles and genres in fiction and nonfiction. Whether African American literature will keep to this pattern in the coming years remains to be seen.

Some of the criticism of African American literature over the years has come, surprisingly enough, from within the African American community. The general consensus view appears to be that African American literature is simply reflecting the increasing diversity of the united states and showing more signs of diversity than ever before in its history. This view is supported by the fact that many African American authors and writers representing other minority groups - consistently reach the tops of the best-seller lists. If their literature only appealed to their individual ethnic groups, this would not be possible.

According to Market News blacks spent $326 million on books in 2003. Authors are writing for black readers, and according to the numbers, black and whites are buying their books, that are making publishers and booksellers take notice.

Praises to Amistad Publishing & Harper Collins for breaking the mold with creative thinking.

I listened to CrossTalk hosted by authors Donna Hill and Anna Dennis on Thursday (March 30, 2006) night with guest author Lolita Files gave thanks to her publishing company and her agent(s) for placing her latest novel "Sex. Lies. Murder. Fame." in the front of the bookstores.

Authors of color are generally placed in a section segregated from the mainstream of authors giving them limited exposure.

Unfortunately, We live in a world where race matters!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Welcome to Onnaday

Welcome to Onnaday - which means "Donna" in Pig Latin. This is my online journal of thoughts and information on the Literary world and other points of interest.

Spring is approaching and there are so many beautiful things to adorn the world. I will post beautiful artwork and illustrations with my thoughts and comments to bring a thousand unspoken words.

I hope you find my journal of help and a joy to visit!