Thanks to the fabulous Jennifer Weiner for tweeting this video from the amazing Laura Zigman. Every Time that bunny says, “really” I said it too. Just perfect. Chime in with your opinion on smart vs. not so smart women writers. I think you know where I stand. Really.
Well folks I’m leaving the NYC and am off to Colorado for a little summer snow.
Nah, not really turns out I won a cool contest and I’m off for some literary R & R at RomCon, a conference for fans of romance, which I so am.
So there you have it. A few days of much needed rest, relaxation and book talk. All my faves!
But just so I don’t get too relaxed I will take my laptop and ye old manuscript with me. Wouldn’t want it to miss me and all.
See you soon!
P.S. Don’t forget Project Runway tonight #teamBert!
Thanks once again for all of your well wishes for the Dear Twins and their graduation. It was such a great time and one of the happiest, proudest and most emotional moments of my life.
I wish I had a little more time to decompress but week the of RWA National excitement begins today and it’s in my town of New York! So I’ll be out and about at writing workshops, and book signing and hopefully meeting lots of friends I have not gotten to see since the last conference and yeah, making some new ones. It all starts tonight down in Soho at Lady Jane’s Salon. Better get my skates on!
image from here
Hi folks. I hope you had a wonderful weekend and all the moms out there got to celebrate either as big or as small as you wanted. I had a lovely low-key day with the DH, The Dear Twins and Jack that started with breakfast in bed and ended with a late night snack in bed. Yeah I’m sure I’ll be paying for all the indulgences later.
On Saturday I went downtown to a very nice restaurant on 57th street for our NYC annual May Brunch. This year is our 25thChapter Anniversary and we were greeted at our place settings by these pretty little maids.
As an added bonus we had the best guest speaker, New York Times best selling Paranormal and Romantic Suspense author, Caridad Pineiro. Caridad was kind enough to share with us her advice for making it as a writer in this business. She was so uplifting and inspirational. It was a terrific afternoon. You can checkout Caridad at her site here.
Now I’m charged and ready to tackle the week. I hope you’re ready too.
It’s always so much fun to introduce a new author on ye old blog and even more so when that author is a friend. Today I’m so proud to have guest posting a wonderful new author and friend Elizabeth Kerri Mahon. Elizabeth is the author of Scandalous Women: The Lives and Loves of History’s Most Notorious Women. Don’t you just love that title?
Well, it’s the book based on her wildly popular blog with the Scandalous women. If haven’t given Scandalous women a look. Go and check it out. You won’t be disappointed.
I met Elizabeth many years ago when I first joined RWA/NYC the New York chapter of Romance Writers of America. She was immediately welcoming to this wanna be writer. Since I met Elizabeth she went on to becoming president of the chapter a few times over and is now a past-president and champion for the chapter and the industry. Well, during all this time Elizabeth has always been the go to person for any history question. Seriously, any question. We’d be out having a drink ,talking about something completely obscure and she’d come up with a fact that would boggle my poor mind that could not remember my morning’s breakfast. So you see, Scandalous Women was meant to be.
When Elizabeth agreed to guest post I said she could write about one of her favorite women. Happily she choose one of hers and mine, Josephine Baker!
So now without me further rambling on here’s Elizabeth with…
The Night Josephine Baker went to the Stork Club
In 1951, The Stork Club was one of the most exclusive night spots in town, and the Cub Room was reserved for the crème de la crème of society. Everyone who was anyone wanted to be seen there, and that included Josephine Baker. But the Stork Club had a dirty little secret, the owner of the club, Sherman Billingsley, had an unstated policy against admitting blacks. On October 16, 1951 at precisely 11:15 p.m., Josephine Baker arrived at the Stork Club on East 53rd Street after her sold-out performance at the Roxy Theater. Among her entourage were Roger Rico, the French star of South Pacific and his wife, and Bessie Buchanan, a black performer who was now a local politician. She certainly had something to celebrate that night. After a disastrous appearance on Broadway in the Ziegfeld Follies in the ’30’s, and a brief concert tour in 1948, Josephine was finally as a big of a star in the U.S. as she was in Europe.
From the minute they walked in the door, something was amiss. Rico was a regular at the club, and had a reservation for the evening, but his arrival with Josephine Baker raised eyebrows. The group ordered a round of drinks and Josephine ordered a crab salad, a steak dinner and a bottle of French wine. When their food did not arrive after more than an hour, and the waiters were unresponsive, Josephine got the distinct impression that she was not wanted there. “The looks that the headwaiter gave and his assistants were giving me made me suspect that something was going to happen,” Baker later recalled. “But in fact the exact opposite occurred. Noting happened at all…by which I mean my friends received their orders but mind did not appear.” The owner Sherman Billingsley, who usually fawned over Roger Rico when he came in, was nowhere to be found. After an hour, Josephine was told that they were out of crab salad and steak.
Urged on by Bessie Buchanan, Baker left the table and called two people, Walter White, the head of the NAACP and William Rowe, the black deputy commissioner of police. On her way to the telephone, she passed influential gossip columnist Walter Winchell who was dining with a friend. Baker now considered Winchell a witness to her ill-treatment and wanted his support, but when she returned to her table, he was gone. Winchell admitted that he was at the club but he claimed that he was not aware of there being any problem, and that he left for a late screening of a movie called Desert Fox. Rico, incensed by their treatment, angrily asked for the check, and the party left.
NAACP quickly organized a picket line in front of the club. Josephine and her advisors also debated what they could do to publicize the affair. Billingsley claimed that the incident was exaggerated. Service at the Stork Club was known for being notoriously slow, particularly after the theatres let out. He pointed out that the party had ordered several rounds of drinks and had been served. If Josephine’s charges could be proved, he would be found in danger of violating not only the State Civil Rights Act but also the State Alcoholic Beverage Control Law. Public opinions was divided. While some saw Josephine as a heroine, others thought she was deliberately creating racial incidents to get attention.
For Josephine it was a matter of racial pride, the sultry songstress turned Joan of Arc. From the beginning of her tour, she had fought against discrimination, demanding that she would perform for integrated audiences only at every venue. She also asked for and got integrated stage crews. Because of her convictions, she turned down lucrative engagements where club owners refused to comply with her demands. Josephine had also advocated integrated hiring of bus drivers in Oakland, CA and the integration of housing in Cicero, IL For her work, The NAACP had honored her with a Josephine Baker Day in Harlem on May 20, 1951. 100,000 people turned out to honor her. Her activism was particularly dangerous because she was no longer an American citizen; she was in the U.S. under a temporary performance visa.
While Josephine’s cause had bite, her mistake was to accuse Walter Winchell of not coming to her aid. The columnist was incensed at being dragged into a dispute that wasn’t his own. The morning after the incident, Winchell had found himself big news, receiving countless telephone calls about his refusal to assist Josephine Baker. Jewish, Winchell had himself experienced his fare share of discrimination, and he prided himself on his own civil rights record. Furthermore, he felt that he was being unfairly pressured by Josephine and the NAACP into denouncing the Stork Club’s unspoken racist policy. Sherman Billingsley was a personal friend and the Stork Club was Winchell’s club house. Almost every night Winchell could be found at his permanent table No. 50. Since he couldn’t or wouldn’t turn his back on an old friend, Winchell began to fight back, attacking Josephine in his column. Instead of the conflict being between Baker and Billingsley, it now became Baker vs. Winchell. Winchell accused Josephine of being pro-Communist, and pro-fascist as well as anti-Semitic, despite the fact that her third husband had been Jewish. He deliberately used her own decision to perform only for integrated audiences to claim that she refused to patronize black only businesses. He also wrote to J. Edgar Hoover to ask him to look into Baker’s political activities. Josephine threatened a lawsuit against Winchell for $400,000 claiming libel but she never followed up and the case was eventually dismissed.
Winchell’s attacks spelled the beginning of the end of his influence. His attacks became so over the top that he became the villain in the public’s eyes. Josephine didn’t come out smelling like a rose either. She had already gained a reputation of being politically dangerous as well as a diva and now the rest of her concert tour in the U.S. was cancelled. She went back to France, where she continued her civil rights work, adopting her “Rainbow Tribe” of twelve orphans. In 1963, she spoke at the March on Washington at the side of Martin Luther King Jr. Wearing her Free French uniform emblazoned with her medal of the Légion d’honneur; she was the only woman to speak at the rally. Although the Stork Club was cleared of the charge of discrimination by a New York police commission, the club’s name was tarnished by the incident. It would limp on for another few years before it finally closed its doors in 1965. The building was torn down in 1966, and a small park named after William S. Paley stands in its place.
Thanks so much Elizabeth! That was just wonderful and such an important part of history. What a treat. I just love Josephine.
Folks Scandalous Women is full of so many more wonderful stories of fascinating women in history. You can purchase it here.
And you can find Elizabeth at her blog here.
Please leave a comment or question for Elizabeth and your name will be entered to win a copy of Scandalous Women! Winner will be announced on Thursday.
I’m wishing you lots of love today. May your love cup never be empty.
Today I have a fun Valentine’s Day announcement. I’m so grateful to those of you that have followed me over @loftromance on Twitter and The Loft on Facebook, well now I want to tell you about another exciting place to check out from Macmillan. HeroesandHeartbreakers.com
Heroes and Heartbreakers is a cool new site for the romance lover in all of us and it goes live today! Please go and check it out.
I’m sure you’ll fall in love as I did. Over there you can read book excerpts and original stories, happening blog posts and enter to win great prizes. Don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter so you won’t miss a thing.
Oh and look out for some post from me over there down the road because I’ll also be a blog contributor. Whee!! Thank so much for all your support. It means so much to me.
Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!
Love you DH!! Told you that already but really, can I say it too much? Never.
Well I’m at it again. You’d think I’d have learned from the torture of last year but, um, no. Once again I’m participating in November’s National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWrimo. It all starts on Monday and the challenge is 50,000 words in 1 fun filled month. Eek.
So who’s with me? Think you’ve got a novel in you? If so head on over to the Nano page and register and let’s see if we have any hair left in a month.
image from here
Is it just me? I know it can’t be. I can’t be the only neurotic nut case out here in bloglandia that can’t seem to walk and chew gum. You see I have a novel out on submission right now and though no matter how much I tell myself, not to obsess, it’s no big deal, don’t get your hopes up, a watched pot never boils… I still do. I can’t help myself.
This is the part of being an artist that I hate the most. The waiting for judgment part. It’s the part that makes me a little queasy in the stomach and the part that makes my writing process so slow. I think it may partially be due to holding off that queasy feeling. You see I should be continuing with work on another project but my mind is focused (I know stupidly) on what I can’t control. The opinions of others and not focused on my WIP. As if by my mind power I can bend someone else’s will. But what I need to do is bend my mind in the right direction so it’s more productive and less obsessive.
It’s a hot mess being in Submission Purgatory. For more on this subject go and read this funny and spot on post by author Kiersten White here.
Tell me how do you get your focus?
Happy Monday! And this is a special Monday because it’s the beginning of my birthday week so I’m sure you’ll all stop right now and join me in a moment of raucous cheer. No? Me neither. Actually like holidays my birthday usually gets me down so I’ll be relying on all you folks to keep spirits up around here.
In order to do that I’m kicking off the week with some fun and I’m very proud to welcome my friend, the super talented young adult writer, Wendy Toliver to ye old blog. I met Wendy many years ago at one of RWA’s national conferences and we instantly hit it off. She has such a generous spirit and bubbly personality that you can’t help but be drawn in. I sure was.
Being bad never felt so good.
Poppy Browne never stole anything in her life before moving to Pleasant Acres and meeting Mary Jane and Whitney. But when Poppy walks out of the mall with her two new friends and her first pair of stolen jeans, she’s hooked.
Before long, Poppy is lifting whenever she gets the urge–it’s never about the merchandise, it’s always about the thrill. But when her secret gets out, Poppy’s clique turns on each other. As she watches her life collapse around her, Poppy must decide where her loyalties lie…and how far she’ll go to protect herself.
Hi Wendy. Welcome!
Tell us what made you write about the controversial topic of teenage shoplifting?
I wanted to write about an issue that is familiar to most people. I watched a TV documentary on teenage shoplifting and got to talking to friends and discovered that most everybody has shoplifted at least a pack of gum sometime in his or her life or knows someone who has. Then, to make it extra controversial, I chose a Bible belt town as the setting.
You’ve had a variety of jobs in a short amount of time including acting and even singing telegrams. What brought you to the world of writing?
I’ve always loved writing, and when I was a freelance copy writer, I had an experience in LA that I thought would make a good story so I decided to try my hand at writing fiction. I went about it all wrong (though I did finish the manuscript, which is a good thing) and was glad when someone suggested I join a writing organization like RWA. That was the best thing I could do because it taught me about the industry, gave me ways of meeting new friends with similar interests and goals, and eventually paired me up with my first literary agent.
Why do you enjoy writing young adult?
I really enjoyed that point in my life. Everything is so exciting and the future is wide open. I love that both adults and young adults read it, and there’s something extra special about getting fan mail from teenagers. In general, they’re so enthusiastic and it makes it all worthwhile.
You are the mother of three energetic young boys and whenever we talk it’s usually hands free and all the go. How do you find the time to write? What’s your schedule like?
Ha! Lately it’s been really hard because 2 of my boys are in school but school’s out for summer. Basically I get all my internet correspondence done over breakfast and write a couple of hours in the afternoons when they’re playing outside or resting. If I find they’re not cooperating I can also hire a “mommy’s helper” to keep tabs on them while I have writing time. When I’m on a really tough deadline, though, I am lucky that my mom will fly in to take care of my family. With Lifted’s revisions, I was writing 20 –hours a day and I couldn’t have done that without her help.
What’s next for you?
I’m really not sure! I just sent a sweet middle grade proposal and a paranormal YA proposal to my agent. I’m eager to hear what she thinks!
Thanks so much for being here. Lifted is a fabulous story full of heart and style as all your stories are. I can’t wait for my DD to read it.
Kwana, thank you so much for having me on your blog. And I hope your DD likes it!
Also, if anyone would like a shot at winning a Border’s gift card and other fun prizes, please contact me via my web-site. Write the word “contest” in your message, as well as your name and US mailing address. This contest will go on the entire month of June. Good luck! And of course, we’re giving away a copy of Lifted to one lucky commenter. So comment away or ask a question. Winner will be announced on Wednesday!
You can find Wendy at her website here: www.wendytoliver.com
or follow her on twitter at: www.twitter.com/wendytoliver