I have to continually thank Peace in the Storm Publishing and Elissa Gabrielle. Both the publishing company and the publisher have afforded me an experience I imagined but never thought would really happen. My inclusion in The Soul of a Man: A Triumph of My Soul Anthology has afforded me the opportunity to travel around the country promoting not only myself as an author, but more importantly an anthology that flies in the face of what is thought is possible for a group a African American men – collectively working together for the good of the community at large. As a natural extension of The Soul of a Man, I am starting to meet a lot a great people in the literary industry not only online but face-to-face.
On Saturday, August 8, 2009, I had the chance to travel to Atlanta, GA, and meet four of my Soul Brothers: Brian “BG” Ganges, Maurice Gray, Jr., Marc Lacy and Alvin Romer. We took the Georgia Black Business Expo by storm. Looking good and feeling good, we came together and met for the first time. We drew people in with our natural charm and even more compelling contributions.
To paraphrase Soul Brother BG, “We are not the victims, we are the victors of circumstance.” That simple phrase sparked much conversation and a genuine interest in not only the book but the contributors. Our enthusiasm carried over to the passersby of our second location: Border’s Bookstore in Stonecrest Mall in Lithonia, GA. Within a few hours, the Soul Brothers sold 20 plus in that store. We hit people from different angles with our mixture of personalities drawing different people for diverse reasons.
On a solo mission, I visited the fine ladies of The Phenomenal Women Book Club (PWBC) in New Orleans, LA, on the following Saturday, August 15, 2009. (Special thanks to Makeda Peterson, Erica French and Jovel Finney) The was a first for me. I was actually meeting a group of people to discuss my contribution, the short story “Like Father, Like Son”. I was greeted with smiles and Louisiana accents as the Erica and Jovel picked me up from the airport. They handed a battery of insightful questions about men and their role in relationships with women children and anything else you can think of. I had to represent not only myself and my Soul Brothers but also African American men! I did it the only way I knew how, with pure honesty.
The PWBC gave it to me straight up, no chaser. We discussed, and sometimes debated, what made men tick and how women can better understand and help men become better men. Although I was the only male participating in this discussion, at no time did they attempt to make me feel uncomfortable. We opened up like I was a regular in their group. Don’t get me wrong, our mutual respect did not translate into total aggreeance. But that was cool, that’s how healthy conversations can go.
They didn’t hold back when telling me what they didn’t like about my short story and the book in general. Constructive criticism was very insightful and welcomed. When asked about what direction I should go in when fleshing the short story into a novel, I got a wealth of great information from avid readers who want to see it continue. I couldn’t pay for a situation like that!
My next phase of promoting The Soul of a Man and “Like Father, Like Son” is going to be more local in nature. I learned a lot from my outtings in Atlanta and New Orleans. I hope to apply what I learned to the communities of the Raleigh-Durham area.
Who knew a simple MySpace message would turn into a life-changing event? I surely didn’t. Once again, thank you Elissa Gabrielle and Peace in the Storm Publishing.
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