Monday, May 31, 2021

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

If you've worked in corporate America as a Black woman, at one point in time you've likely been the "only." Heck, you may still be the only. Regardless, there has been or will come a time when you see another Black woman being introduced around the office. Are you excited to see her or do you need to suss out the situation first? Does she get to hear your outside voice or are you keeping it corporate for her? Zakiya Dalila Harris covers these thoughts and feelings and more in The Other Black Girl, a book I like to think of as a mashup between Lauren Wilkinson's American Spy, The Matrix and The Devil Wears Prada.

Publishing is a competitive field and Nella has worked hard to prove herself in hopes of a promotion, but she knows she doesn't come from the right background. She doesn't summer in the right places and doesn't always get the cultural references that come from watching shows like Friends or Seinfeld. And then Hazel shows up in her office one day and she's everything Nella isn't. She's able to hold conversations with coworkers about what makes Boston a great town. She jumps right into team meetings and others hang on her every word. Nella thinks she's found a friend in Hazel, but maybe not so much. Nella's attempts to find out just who Hazel really is takes readers deep into a world that will ultimately leave them asking how do I define blackness, who am I to define blackness and, if given the choice to stir things up or assimilate,  would I or wouldn't I?

The Other Black Girl has so many twists and turns. When I say it's a mashup of other books and movies, it really is. I wouldn't even begin to know how to classify it. But I will say it's an absolute page turner that will leave you thinking long after you've put it down. A film version has been optioned for Hulu.

Disclaimer: A copy of the book was received from the publisher in an exchange for an honest review. 

Monday, May 3, 2021

The Eleanor Taylor Bland Award for Emerging BIPOC Crime Writers Could be Your Entry Into Traditional Book Publishing Success.

Sisters in Crime, a literary organization that promotes the advancement, recognition, and professional development of women crime writers, is seeking applicants for its eighth annual Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award. 

Noting a study which found only 11% of published books were authored by writers of color, Sisters in Crime President, Sandra Wong, added, “This grant serves a greater purpose in highlighting and uplifting work which shares valuable perspectives from writers in, and of, communities sorely under-represented in publishing." 

Sisters in Crime was founded in 1986 by 26 women crime writers who faced roadblocks in getting their novels published. The organization has grown to more than 4,000 members worldwide. 

Sisters in Crime created the grant to celebrate excellence and diversity in crime writing. It honors the trailblazing African-American crime fiction writer Eleanor Taylor Bland, who used the genre as a platform to introduce characters that were largely marginalized or excluded from crime fiction novels. The $2,000 grant is intended to help an emerging BIPOC writer with a novel-in-progress or early-career work of crime fiction. It also supports developmental opportunities, including workshops, online courses and research. 

“Authors like Ms. Bland have shown me that women of color—writers of color—can be authors in any genre they want and really bridge gaps,” said Sisters in Crime’s 2020 winner Yasmin A. McClinton. McClinton considered quitting writing until she heard about the Bland award. She submitted her opening pages of her manuscript, a revenge and redemption story about a female Ghanaian assassin, expecting rejection. However, the judging panel of bestselling authors Rachel Howzell Hall, Alex Segura and 2019’s winner Jessica Martinez, restored her dream in becoming a published author when they selected her manuscript. Since winning the award, McClinton landed a two-book publishing deal with Thomas and Mercer as well as a book option for a television series. She was also selected as a 2021 judge along with Clark and Edgar-nominated “Winter Counts” author David Heska Wanbli Weiden. 

Mia P. Manansala found an agent and landed a publishing deal since she won the same award in 2018. Her debut, “Arsenic and Adobo,” releases on May 4, 2021 with Berkley. "Without Sisters in Crime and the Bland Award, my debut novel might never have existed," said Manansala. 

The no-fee submission is open from March 15 to May 15, 2021. Applicants should not have more than 2 published novels and 10 published works of short fiction. Submission form available at The winner will be announced in Summer 2021 and honored during Bouchercon, the world mystery convention. The winner will also be featured in Sisters in Crime’s quarterly newsletter, inSinC.