12 October 2010

Finding Shannon Holmes


Shannon Holmes
Shannon Holmes is one of the pioneers of Street Lit, and undoubtedly one of the best literary writers in the genre. I put Holmes and K'wan on the same top tier for male Street Lit authors.

Having met Shannon personally, I can attest that he is a quiet warrior, who stealthily, yet very effectively keeps working and doing really interesting things in the Street Lit game. He is an author who is very collaborative, working with other authors on anthologies such as: Streets of New York, volume 1 (2009), Flirt (2009), Menace (2009), and Hood2Hood (2008). Holmes has written with established Street Lit authors such as Erick S. Gray, Anthony Whyte, and one of my absolute favorite authors, Tracy Brown (Black, White Lines, Criminal Minded, etc.). 

Mr. Holmes boasts a serious list of solo efforts; indeed, his first novel, B-More Careful (2001), punctuated Street Lit as a genre to be taken seriously and respected. His repertoire includes more heavy-hitting titles such as Bad Girlz (2003), Never Go Home Again (2005), and Dirty Game (2007), to name a few. His last novel was Bad Girlz 4 Life (2008), the sequel to Bad Girlz.

Hard White book cover
This past weekend I was in a Borders Bookstore in Washington, D.C. While there, I had the pleasure of purchasing three (3) recently published novels in the Street Lit genre, all of them published by  Augustus Publishing. One novel is a collaboration between Mr. Holmes and Anthony Whyte, entitled, Hard White: On the Streets of New York Only One Color Matters (2010). The other two titles are: When Love Turns to Hate, by Sharron Doyle (2010), and a collection of short stories called, Dead and Stinkin: A Collection of Deadly Short Stories (2010), by Stephen Hewett.

If you have been focused on Triple Crown as the brand for Street Lit, or you've just never heard of Augustus Publishing, you must check them out. They bring Street Lit to a whole other level with their creative approach to book publishing and promotion. For example, Hard White is a novel by Anthony Whyte, that is based on a screenplay by Shannon Holmes. This is a really cool approach because Holmes' screenplay has been made into a movie. If you want to check out the movie trailer, see Shannon's MySpace blog entry that features the 3:25 trailer. Watching the movie trailer also gives you insight into the novel. The movie and novel are interwoven as basically, one package.

What is most interesting about Augustus Publishing is that book trailers - video clips that depict a scene in the book's story - a relatively new concept - is featured on Augustus Publishing's website for various other titles as well. Author K'wan promotes his books with book trailers on his YouTube channel. Author Earl Sewell, contributor to the Kimani Tru series, also promotes his books with book trailers.

Another thing that Augustus Publishing is doing with its novels is interweaving graphics and images within the text. So when you open up an Augustus novel, you get a visual experience along with the textual experience. To put credit where credit is due, Sister Souljah was the first to offer this approach in her latest novel, Midnight: A Gangster Love Story (2008). It's nice to see a publishing house take up this technique, as it is a beautiful way in which to package Street Lit. Hard White, When Love Turns to Hate, and Dead and Stinkin are all rendered this way. Such unique and interesting packaging and presentation can definitely heighten the interest and engagement of even the most reluctant reader.

So I found Shannon Holmes, who was, in truth, never lost! He is apparently as busy as ever, working with others to continue to evolve this game we call Street Lit (or Hip Hop Lit) as a viable, perpetual artistic literary genre. Holmes is one of those authors you should never move your eye away from - you just might miss something. I've learned my lesson and will never do that again.

06 October 2010

My Blog Sounds Nice - Check 2



Hi everyone!

I just want to share my "goings on" for the past few weeks, concerning Street Lit:

1. I introduced author Zane, at the Free Library of Philadelphia author event, on September 28, 2010. She is a really nice woman. Very happy to have met her and have a chance to talk with her. While her work is not Street Lit, we all know that her work appeals to Street Lit readers.

2. I submitted the manuscript for the Readers Advisory Guide to Street Literature (ALA Editions). Regrettably, I will not be able to use the creative title I came up with, for search engine optimization purposes. It's more important for readers to find the book, than to say, "Ooo, catchy title." I so get that!

3. The PAALA Librarians Bookclub will be hosting author K'wan for its October meeting. He said yes! If you are interested in attending this book club meeting, kindly email me for more information.

4. Tthe Library Research Seminar V is happening this week, at the University of Maryland, College Park, MD. I am presenting my research at this conference, talking about Librarians reading Street Lit.

5. These are titles I recently heard about. You might want to check them out:
A Child of a Crack Head, by Shameek A. Speight (2009) - recommended by K.C. Boyd

Snitch, by Vegas Clarke (2010) 

BMF: The Rise and Fall of Big Meech and the Black Mafia Family, by Mara Shalhoup (2010) - recommended by my daddy :-)

Criteria for the annual Street Lit Book Award Medal


Greetings!

Please forgive my lapse in posting. I've been busy - busy with writing, teaching, and family concerns.
But here I am - ready to post my criteria for the annual Street Lit Book Award Medal.

Fiction Criteria:
1. Does the book introduce something usefully new to the genre? in terms of format? in terms of subject matter?
2. Is the book authentic to the genre? via language? setting? characterizations?
3. Is the story believable? Could it have happened in real life?
4. Is the novel written with literary quality? meaning - is it readable across audiences?
5. Does the story offer insight about the human condition?

Non-Fiction Criteria
1. Does the book convey a story that is relatable for readers?
2. Does the story illustrate a fresh or interesting approach to how everyday city people live?
3. Has the book appealed to a broad audience?
4. Does the text challenge the reader in any way?
5. Does the story offer insight about the human condition?

What do you think? What am I missing?