I got sunshine…

•March 1, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Nothing makes up for a sleepless night like a sunny morning and a wonderful review!  Colleen over at Lavender Lines is only the second Canadian book blogger to review Wish (thank you, Colleen!). Here’s some of what she had to say:

I have a confession to make: while I read A LOT, I don’t tend to read books with main characters from different cultures and backgrounds than my own. It’s something that I want to work on, to change. A Wish After Midnight is my first attempt at broadening my literary horizons. And if every subsequent book is as tightly written and captivating as this one I should be a more well rounded reader in no time.

Maybe Doret’s right—maybe more and more book bloggers are throwing their support behind writers of color!  It’s definitely appreciated.  In other Canadian news, I’ll be at the Toronto Women’s Bookstore next month along with Vivek Shraya and Neesha Meminger.  I’ll post more details about the April 21st event (“Changing the Face of Publishing”) as it draws near—you’ll be able to watch it on the store’s website if you’re not up in the Great White North…


fighting misrepresentation

•February 10, 2011 • Leave a Comment

African American speculative fiction for kids

•February 2, 2011 • 3 Comments

After Edi read my SLJ article, she suggested I compile a list of African American speculative fiction books for children.  As usual, I enlisted the help of others, and below is the list Edi, Doret, Ari, and I compiled.  If you have any suggestions, please leave a comment.  I did not include speculative fiction titles that might appeal to teens—just those specifically published for young readers.

Speculative Fiction by US-based Authors of African Descent

1.     Justice and Her Brothers by Virginia Hamilton (1978)

2.     Dustland by Virginia Hamilton (1980)

3.     The Gathering by Virginia Hamilton (1981)

4.     Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush by Virginia Hamilton (1982)

5.     The Magical Adventures of Pretty Pearl by Virginia Hamilton (1983)

6.  Shadow of the Red Moon by Walter Dean Myers (1995)

7. The Golden Hour by Maiya Williams (2004)

8. 47 by Walter Mosley (2005)

9. Zahrah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor (2005)

10. The Hour of the Cobra by Maiya Williams (2006)

11. The Hour of the Outlaw by Maiya Williams (2007)

12. The Marvelous Effect by Troy CLE (2007)

13. The Shadow Speaker by Nnedi Okorafor (2007)

14. Racing the Dark by Dawn Alaya Johnson (2007)

14. A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliott (2008)

16. Night Biters: A Tale of Urban Horror by AJ Harper (2008)

17. Pemba’s Song: A Ghost Story by Marilyn Nelson and Tonya C. Hegamin (2009)

18. The Ancient Lands Warriors Quest by Jason McCammon (2009)

19. Asleep by Wendy Raven McNair (2009)

20. Dope Sick by Walter Dean Myers (2009)

21. Explorer-X Alpha by LM Preston (2009)

22. The Goblin King by Dawn Alaya Johnson (2009)

23. Olivion’s Favorites by Troy CLE (2009)

24. Were Wolves: the Mix Tape by AJ Harper (2009)

25. Awake by Wendy Raven McNair (2010)

26. The Clone Codes by Patricia McKissack et al. (2010)

27. Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves (2010)

28. Manifest by Artist Arthur (2010)

29. Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes (2010)

30. Shadow Walker by LA Banks (2010)

31. Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves (2011)

32. Cyborg by Patricia McKissack et al. (2011)

33. Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor (2011)

34. Mystify by Artist Arthur (2011)

a dancer’s beautiful film/memoir

•January 23, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Nora from NBPC on Vimeo.

You can find out when this gorgeous film will play in your area by going here.

2011 new releases

•January 7, 2011 • Leave a Comment

The new year’s off to a good start—below is a list of all the black US-based authors who have a middle grade or young adult novel coming out in January, February, and March.  Why not add some to your TBR list, request them at your library, and ask your favorite bloggers to post reviews?  We’ve got to show support for these books or the number of published black authors will never rise…as always, thanks to Ari, Doret, and Edi for doing the hard work of putting the new releases list together.


All the Wrong Moves by Nikki Carter (January 1/YA): Sunday Tolliver is gifted, smart, and ready to take the music industry by storm now that she’s signed a record deal. All she has to do is survive touring with her diva cousin, Dreya, and she’ll finally get a shot at her own R&B dreams. But the tour’s mega-bad-boy star, Truth, refuses to believe that Sunday isn’t feeling him–and a jealous Dreya is doing everything to make Sunday pay. When filming for a behind-the-tour reality show starts, Sunday’s live-and-on-camera humiliation is threatening to derail her chances–and help Dreya cover up stealing her songs. Now Sunday has one last chance to prove herself. And with the spotlight heating up, all bets are off–and this battle is on. . .


Famous by Simone Bryant (January/YA): At prestigious Pace Academy, the Pacesetters make the rules. But in the world outside, being rich and popular doesn’t always get you what you want.…Starr has ambition, charisma and—thanks to her father’s record company—all the connections to get her group major exposure. Just one problem: Starr can’t sing, and now her friends are looking to replace her with her archrival, Natalee. Dionne is excited about being the rapper of the group—even if her parents don’t approve. But it’s hard to focus on her rhymes when there is too much drama at home. Marisol loves the stage, though it’s dancing, not singing, that’s in her blood. She’d do anything for her friends—except give up her own shot at stardom. With ego trippin’ and infighting tearing their friendship apart, Starr, Dionne and Marisol are finding that the big time comes with even bigger problems.…


Camo Girl by Kekla Magoon (January 4/MG): Ella and Z have been friends forever, but Z’s always been the “weird kid” in their class. This was okay back in 3rd or 4th grade, but by now their other friends have ditched them both. Z doesn’t care, but Ella longs to be part of a group where people won’t make fun of her. When a new boy, Bailey, moves to town, he befriends Ella because they’re the only two black kids in the 6th grade. Bailey’s popular–popular enough to make Ella cool and give her a wider circle of friends–but only if she stops hanging out with Z. Ella faces a difficult decision: remain loyal to the boy who has been her best and only friend forever…or embrace the opportunity to become one of the popular kids as she longs to be. But Ella’s loyalty to Z–and the secrets they share–runs deep below the surface. Is friendship with Bailey a true solution to her struggle, or just a flash in the pan? Ella’s decision will affect not just her but everyone around her. Can she make the right choice?


Joseph’s Grace by Shelia Moses (Janurary 4/YA) : Joseph’s sophomore year is about to begin, but his new start is a false one. At his father’s request Joseph moved in with Aunt Shirley, Uncle Todd and cousin Jasmine over the summer, to distance himself from his mother’s drug problems and the dangerous characters she interacts with. But efforts to keep Joseph safe have had tragic results for Jasmine: Momma’s boyfriend Bow, on one of his regular rounds lurking around the neighborhood, shoots through a wall and kills Jasmine on the spot. As Joseph contends with his own grief, his mother’s persistent pleas for money, and the distance between himself and his father in Iraq—not to mention schoolwork, making the tennis team, and a new relationship—he’s learning what’s most important to him, and what sacrifices he’ll have to make to become the person he needs to be.


Eliza’s Freedom Road by Jerdine Nolen (January 4/MG): It is 1852 in Alexandria, Virginia. Eliza’s mother has been sent away and it is Abbey, the cook, who looks after Eliza, when Eliza isn’t taking care of the Mistress. Eliza has the quilt her mother left her and the memory of the stories she told to keep her close. When her Mistress’s health begins to fail and Eliza overhears the Master talk of Eliza being traded, Eliza takes to the night. She follows the path and the words of the farmhand Old Joe, ” … travel the night … sleep the day. Go East. Your back to the set of the sun until you come to the safe house where the candlelight lights the window.” All the while, Eliza recites the stories her mother taught her along her Freedom Road from Maryland to St. Catherine’s, Canada.


Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves (January 4/YA): Kit and Fancy Cordelle are sisters of the best kind: best friends, best confidantes, and best accomplices. The daughters of the infamous Bonesaw Killer, Kit and Fancy are used to feeling like outsiders, and that’s just the way they like it. But in Portero, where the weird and wild run rampant, the Cordelle sisters are hardly the oddest or most dangerous creatures around. It’s no surprise when Kit and Fancy start to give in to their deepest desire—the desire to kill. What starts as a fascination with slicing open and stitching up quickly spirals into a gratifying murder spree. Of course, the sisters aren’t killing just anyone, only the people who truly deserve it. But the girls have learned from the mistakes of their father, and know that a shred of evidence could get them caught. So when Fancy stumbles upon a mysterious and invisible doorway to another world, she opens a door to endless possibilities….


Bayou, Volume 2 by Jeremy Love (January 25): South of the Mason-Dixon Line lies a strange land of gods and monsters; a world parallel to our own, born from centuries of slavery, civil war, and hate. Lee Wagstaff is the daughter of a black sharecropper in the depression-era town of Charon, Mississippi. When Lily Westmoreland, her white playmate, is snatched by agents of an evil creature known as Bog, Lee’s father is accused of kidnapping. Lee’s only hope is to follow Lily’s trail into this fantastic and frightening alternate world. Along the way she enlists the help of a benevolent, blues singing, swamp monster called Bayou. Together, Lee and Bayou trek across a hauntingly familiar Southern Neverland, confronting creatures both benign and malevolent, in an effort to rescue Lily and save Lee’s father from being lynched. BAYOU Vol. 2 collects four new chapters of the critically acclaimed webcomic series by Glyph Award nominee Jeremy Love.


Drama High: The Meltdown by L. Divine (January 25/YA): Jayd Jackson hopes her magical Mama has a spell to chase all her cares away…Jayd needs time to recoup from her dramatic school year, but time is the one thing she doesn’t have. She’s said yes to becoming a debutante, and now she has to deal with her girl Mickey’s jealousy–on top of babysitting, hair braiding, cheer camp, and a summer writing class. With the stress of Jayd’s hectic schedule, strange visions, and insomnia, luckily Mama returns from her vacation in time to help Jayd and her crew avert real drama. Mama’s convinced something sinister is at play, and they both need a plan to get Jayd her swagger back before it’s too late…


Mystify (Mystyx #2) by Artist Arthur (February 1/YA): Sasha Carrington has grown up feeling like an outsider, and her parents are too concerned with scaling the Lincoln, Connecticut, social ladder to even notice her. They’d be really horrified to know about the supernatural abilities Sasha and her friends Krystal and Jake possess. But as part of the Mystyx, Sasha has found her place. Now her parents have suddenly taken an interest in everything she does, and their timing couldn’t be worse. Sasha’s father wants her to become BFFs with snooty Alyssa Turner, who hates Krystal for stealing her boyfriend. Then there’s Antoine Watson, the boy Sasha has liked forever, the boy her parents would never approve of. But with the dark side getting more dangerous by the day, and the Mystyx’s own powers growing in unexpected ways, Sasha is facing choices that could affect her friends, her love life—and even her destiny….


Kick by Walter Dean Myers & Ross Workman (February 1/MG): Kevin Johnson is thirteen years old. And heading for juvie. He’s a good kid, a great friend, and a star striker for his Highland, New Jersey, soccer team. His team is competing for the State Cup, and he wants to prove he has more than just star-player potential. Kevin’s never been in any serious trouble . . . until the night he ends up in jail. Enter Sergeant Brown, a cop assigned to be Kevin’s mentor. If Kevin and Brown can learn to trust each other, they might be able to turn things around before it’s too late.


How Lamar’s Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy by Crystal Allen (February 22/MG): Thirteen-year-old Lamar Washington is the maddest, baddest, most spectacular bowler at Striker’s Bowling Paradise. But while Lamar’s a whiz at rolling strikes, he always strikes out with girls. And his brother, Xavier the Basketball Savior, is no help. Xavier earns trophy after trophy on the basketball court and soaks up Dad’s attention, leaving no room for Lamar’s problems. Until bad boy Billy Jenks convinces Lamar that hustling at the alley will help him win his dream girl, plus earn him enough money to buy an expensive pro ball and impress celebrity bowler Bubba Sanders. But when Billy’s scheme goes awry, Lamar ends up ruining his brother’s shot at college and every relationship in his life. Can Lamar figure out how to mend his broken ties, no matter what the cost?


Glitz by Philana Marie Boles (February 3/YA): Ann Michelle is tired of her boring, sheltered life. She longs for something real. Then she meets Raquel Marissa Diaz-Raq for short. Sassy, streetwise, and totally fearless, Raq is everything Ann Michelle isn’t. She has a voice to die for and the attitude to go with it, and she’ll stop at nothing to be a star. All Ann Michelle wants is to go along for the ride. Even if that means leaving home to go on the road with Piper, both girls’ favorite hip-hop artist. And shedding her identity along the way to become Glitz, a bolder—but not necessarily better—version of herself.


Act of Grace by Karen Simpson (February/YA): When Grace Johnson, a bright, perceptive African American high school senior, saves the life of a Klansman named Jonathan Gilmore, everyone in her hometown of Vigilant, Michigan wants to know why. Few people, black or white, understand her act of sacrifice especially since rumor holds that years ago a member of the Gilmore family murdered several African-Americans, including Grace’s father. Grace wants to remain silent on the matter; however, she discovers the decision to speak is not hers to make. Ancestral guides emerge in visions and insist she bear witness to her town’s violent racial history so that all involved might transcend it.


Upgrade U by Ni-Ni Simone (March 1/YA): Life is poppin’ and seventeen-year-old Seven McKnight is rockin’ Stiles University’s hottest baller, Josiah Whitaker, on her arm when it all falls apart. With groupies threatening her basketball wife status and Josiah’s dreams of the NBA blowing up his ego, Seven finds herself in a tailspin…should she stay or leave?

Happy New Year!

•January 1, 2011 • 2 Comments

May you have

a resilient spirit,

and a compassionate heart,

the desire to heal,

and the will to forgive.

May you never exhaust

your capacity for kindness.

May you always find peace

in your home and in your mind.

May your eyes be awake

to the beauty all around you.

May your ears be tuned

to the hush of falling snow.

May your arms always be ready

to embrace those needing comfort,

and may even the simplest blessings

fill your heart with gratitude.

I wish you joy, health, and prosperity—

for this season, and for the new year.

~ ZE


on sale now!

•December 23, 2010 • 2 Comments

I do hope that you’ll take a chance on one of the many titles AmazonEncore published this past year; you can find the entire list here, and when you click on any title you’ll find that from now until 1/31 you’ll get 50% off the price of all Encore books and Kindle editions are priced at $3.99!  If you find an e-reader stuffed in your stocking this Christmas, I hope you’ll consider trying out Wish or Page from a Tennessee Journal by Francine Thomas Howard, or Crossing by Andrew Xia Fukuda.  Jodie over at Book Gazing included Crossing and Wish on her list of top reads for 2010—thanks, Jodie!  And thanks for supporting Encore’s mission of bringing unheard voices to the fore.