What Are You Reading?: The Blessings Series

  


What Are You Reading?: The Blessings Series

By: Tqwana Brown

 

One of the things I love most about owning a Barnes and Nobles Nook, besides th­e convenience, ­ is the access to free reads.  Each Friday, BN.com’s Nook Blog offers a free download for Nook owners, as well as anyone who uses the Nook app.  Not only do you get a free book, but the featured author is then asked to recommend something else that you might want to check out. Fiction, nonfiction, classics, romance, and thrillers – it’s all there.  So, when I find myself looking for the next book to read, I search my virtual book shelf for one of these hundreds of books I’ve downloaded.  And that’s how I found the Blessings Series by Beverly Jenkins.  The first in the series was a Free Friday selection.  I’m currently on the fourth book, and hoping for a fifth one soon!

 

What makes this series special isn’t sophisticated writing style, steamy romance, or gratuitous violence – but a sense of hope that drives the narrative.  The story follows the town of Henry Adams, Kansas, an all-black township with a rich history.  And it’s for sale on eBay.

 

Enter Bernadine Brown, a wealthy divorcee, looking for a sense of meaning and purpose in her life, after catching her husband of 30-plus years cheating on her with his secretary.  You go on this sort of spiritual journey with Bernadine as she rebuilds and restores the town, its residents, and herself.  It makes you nostalgic for a time when people had a real sense of community, instead of looking for a taller fence to block out the neighbors.  Part of her project also involves bringing new families to Henry Adams and pairing them up with 5 foster children.  The entire town gets involved in raising these kids, bringing to mind the adage of “it takes a village.” Though the good heavily outweighs the bad in Jenkins’s story-telling, you still get the expected problems foster families endure, even if some of the tougher emotional scenes feel a bit rushed.

 

Woven throughout the books are also great historical references to real towns like Henry Adams, settled by The Exodusters – freed slaves who migrated to Kansas after the Civil War and Reconstruction. W e learn details about Black Seminoles and their grievances with tribes and the government, as well as tribal traditions still practiced by Henry Adams townspeople.  Who knew that braves wooed their would-be brides by playing the flute?  We learn what it was like for all-Black regiments in the Armed Forces during the World Wars and the black outlaws of the 1880s. I immediately went on a Google search to learn more.

 

If I had any criticisms about the series so far, it would be that it all seems too perfect and “happily ever after.”  Henry Adams is too idyllic at first glance. This changes somewhat as the series continues.  There are a few deaths and hard truths, especially for the children, which must be faced.  Even Bernadine begins to question her actions; maybe throwing money at a problem isn’t the best solution?  None of it takes away from the overall feeling of optimism as people find love, forgiveness, and independence.  In short, these are stories about growth and finally coming into your own.  I think readers will easily fall in love with Bernadine, the Julys, Paynes, Garlands, and all of the people of this little modern-day Main Street U.S.A.

To find out more about The Exodusters, visit this PBS link for a brief article.

 

Tqwana Brown is in her first semester in the MS in Publishing  program.   A former high school English teacher, Tqwana is shifting gears to the publishing career track.   She is interested in working on in the editorial side of book publishing or as a Literary Agent.

“What Are You Reading?”: New Blog Feature


A Call for Readers and Writers!

The M.S. in Publishing Blog invites all students, faculty and alumni to contribute to a new blog feature called “What Are You Reading?This monthly feature is designed to uncover page turning Books, and interesting Magazines, Articles, Blogs and Websites across different channels of reading, print or electronic.  Share your thoughts on these new literary trends with the M.S. in Publishing community.  Basically, let us know what you’re reading!

If you would like to submit a post for “What Are You Reading?please email Diana Cavallo at puboffice@pace.edu if you are interested in writing an article.

 

I’ve written the first feature sample about a publishing blog I recently discovered.  I hope you enjoy it and am are looking forward to all of your submissions!

 


What Are You Reading?: “The Book Deal”

By: Diana Cavallo

 

Lately, I find myself reading intruging articles from the publishing blog, “The Book Deal,”  geared for writers and publishing professionals. Many of these articles are written by Alan Rinzler, a longtime editor and publisher at companies like Bantam Books, Rolling Stone Magazine, John Wiley & Sons, Grove Press and Macmillan.   This semester, I am taking some editorial classes and working on my thesis about book publishing, titled “The Making of A Bestseller,” so Rinzler’s articles are both relevant and interesting to my place in the program.  His September 17, 2012 article, “Ask the editor: An agent said my novel needs emotional glue. Help!” exposes a sensitive subject for authors and editors, the emotion of a manuscript.  He defines the “emotional glue” as acharacter’s internal reactions, ruminations, and anticipated responses to the dialogue and action of the story…the unspoken ideas and feelings that focus and hold together the narrative and keep the reader right there with you.”   From a reader’s perspective, it is interesting to understand and acknowledge the thought process behind building a novel’s emotional glue that both the author and editor (and sometimes agent) goes through.  Most readers don’t take into account that developmental editors, like Rinzler, have spent countless hours working with authors to add or erase dimensions of a character and ultimately, the story. What I thought was the most important of Rinzler’s advice to editors and authors was to be clear and aware of a novel’s message during the writing process and to make effective use of details that show readers emotion and importance, not tell them.

 

The beauty of Rinzler’s blog is that he touches on so many different aspects of publishing.  In an article titled, “Big-6 publisher jumps on the indie bandwagon,” Rinzler helps his readers become aware of a change regarding the relationship between self-publishing and a Big-6 publishing house, Penguin Group.  The publisher acquired Author Solutions Inc (ASI), a leading provider of services for self-publishing writers.  Since the boom of self-publishing, some publishers have been walking a thin line as to whether they should stay clear of self-publishing authors, or draw the most talented of them into their creative circles.   I was surprised to read that Penguin had taken such a leap on this new aspect of publishing.  John Makinson, Penguin’s CEO, looks as the acquisition as a largely positive and proactive move for the company.  “Self-publishing has moved into the mainstream of our industry over the past three years,” he said, “It has provided new outlets for professional writers, a huge increase in the range of books available to readers and an exciting source of content for publishers.”  Essentially, Penguin has widened the pool from which they can find new authors and manuscripts.  This acquisition will also provide these authors with the new ability to be part of the resources of “publishing machines,” from the detailed marketing and publicity campaign, to innovations in production and distribution.   From the article, it seems that both parties would benefit from this new arrangement, but not all of the industry experts that Rinzler interviewed felt the same about this acquisition and the role model that it may have set for other publishers.