My Harlem Renaissance

20150717_102549TO PURCHASE J. A. FAULKERSON’S “ADINKRAHENE: FEAR OF A BLACK PLANET”, CLICK HERE.

On June 23rd, I received an email from Max Rodriguez, founder of the Harlem Book Fair, which, in 2015, celebrated its 17th year of operation.  He advised that my debut novel, Adinkrahene: Fear of a Black Planet, had been selected as one of three finalists for a Phillis Wheatley Book Award.

To say I was elated would be an understatement.  I was overjoyed, unashamedly floating above, and well beyond, the stratosphere.  But now that this news had been shared with me, I found myself sitting on pins and needles in anticipation of being named the First Fiction Book Award winner at the July 17th awards ceremony, which was held on the campus of Columbia University.

20150717_205819I didn’t win that day.  Neither did the other finalist, Amaka Lily, for Shifting Allegiances: A Nigerian’s Story of Nigeria, America and Culture Shock.  The award went to Nigeria Lockley for her debut novel Born at Dawn.

I think my 11-year-old son took this news the hardest. When New York Times bestselling author Omar Tyree announced the winner, my son exclaimed, “Aw, man! I wanted you to win!”

20150717_211503All I could do was peer over and down at him, a smirk masking my disappointment.  “It’s okay, buddy,” I told him.  “I’m honored from just being named a finalist.”  Then, without skipping a beat, I added, “Maybe next year, we can both enter something.”

He smiled at that.

20150717_140128What my son didn’t know was our NYC weekend would be special not because I was being considered for a prestigious award – even though it would have been nice to have won it.  It would be special because I was spending it with him.  Even before we boarded the Metro train on 72nd Street for the short ride Uptown to Columbia University, we had spent the early afternoon sightseeing in Times Square and eating lunch at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company.

While walking the streets in and around Times Square, I received a peace blessing from a Chinese monk.

20150717_141903My son marveled at the sight of a woman dressed as the Statue of Liberty (standing completely still for several, long minutes), and the Naked Cowboy playing his guitar, curbside, for his adoring female fans.

And I fought, to no avail, to avert his eyes as we walked past two women clad in body paint, high heel shoes and shiny shorts that left little to the imagination.

The next day, Saturday, we walked from the Hotel Beacon to the Starbucks across the street for breakfast.  After we received our breakfast orders, I explained the game plan to him. We would catch the Metro on 72nd Street for the short ride Uptown to 135th.  Once there, we would locate our vendor booth along a street next to the Countee Cullen Library for the daylong Harlem Book Fair.  From there, we would proceed to sell our books to the hordes of readers that would be swarming around our booth.

He nodded, letting me know he was game.  But then it happened.  It started raining, cats and dogs really.  All I could do was nod my head as my heart sank.  We had flown from Dallas to New York City to sell our books, and now we were going to be forced to contend with the rain.

The two previous times I had attended the fair, rain had never been in the forecast, only sunny skies and the accompanying heat.  Lucky for us, the rain went from a torrential downpour to a sprinkle.  And by the time we emerged from the 135th Street subway station, it had stopped completely.

20150718_112620_001Selling books at the Harlem Book Fair was a transformative experience for my son and me.  As people stepped to our table to inquire about our titles, we had to dig deep to give them good reasons to purchase them.  I told them that the first book in the Adinkrahene series is all about introducing readers to a new reality, one in which a select group of Black men and women (100 total) are lower-case gods, and they mainly use their supernatural abilities to establish peace and prosperity for all, not exact vengeance upon their enemies, the Anglo-controlled (but Satarian-possessed) Corporate Cabal.

20150718_170258My son told his readers that the Leaf Knight (from his The Leaf Knight Chronicles: The Knightly Origins) is an 11-year-old boy destined to fulfill a prophecy.  And when he added that the story and illustrations were all penned and drawn by him, these same readers didn’t hesitate to reach for their wallets (and purses) and pay him for autographed copies of his book.  All this proud poppa could do was smile, because it became crystal clear to me that, on this day at least, he would be the most popular author working under the Culturally Coded Content banner.

20150718_194015We celebrated that night by going Downtown to see the Broadway play Wicked. Seeing this play had been on my to-do list since my days as Director of the Bruce Wells Scholars TRIO Upward Bound Program (2001-2005).  That was more than 10 years ago.  But as I sat there, with my son, watching actors bring novelist Gregory Maguire’s words to life, I daydreamed about what life would be like to have stage and screen actors do the same for my novels, short stories and screenplays.

Only time will tell.  My son and I just have to keep doing what is necessary to grow as writers.

When I first started this journey, my goal was not to become a hack, kicking out book projects that didn’t add value to readers’ lives.  My goal has always been to produce creative works that speak to the relationships that we humans share, both individually and collectively.  Having my debut novel selected as a finalist for the 2015 Phillis Wheatley First Fiction Book Award lets me know I’m a good writer.  I must now be about the business of becoming a great one.

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Forget Tyler Perry And Oprah. Byron Allen Is The Most Successful Black Person In Hollywood… And You’ve Probably Never Heard His Name.

Byron AllenCheck out this interesting article about Hollywood producer Byron Allen.  I grew up watching this brother on the comedy show Real People.  He is now doing his thing behind the scenes, to much success and fanfare.

To all my writer friends out there, his business model is worth studying.

CLICK HERE TO READ COMPLETE ARTICLE BY PAULA WILSON

The Thug Whisperer (Excerpt)

Snip20150806_8“That’s my seat,” the Black, teenage thug loudly exclaims as he, and three of his boys, all Black, step off the platform and into the subway car. “Get up.” I watch as his large hands become fists and he steps closer, invading the suited, White man’s personal space. “Now.”

The stern expression on the suited, White man’s face lets me know he’s not accustomed to backing down from a fight. But this fight is one he knows he can’t win. The tightening of his grip around the briefcase in his lap lets me know he’s protecting something of value, a laptop computer perhaps. He has probably ridden the Metro numerous times, from Downtown Los Angeles to the M.L.K. Transit Center/Compton Station, but this is the first time he has been accosted by the local thugs.

I almost feel sorry for the man. Like me, all he wants to do is get home without incident after spending eight hours or more at the office. I have him pegged as a show runner with one of the local studios, but the pocket-protected pens and markers in the front, left pocket of his button-down shirt gives me second thoughts.

He undoubtedly is an accountant at one of the local banks.

But how can I feel sorry for him? My skin is as dark as the pesky thug’s. By virtue of being born Black, I’m supposed to side with him, right?

Stick it to the White man, take what they are unwilling to relinquish on their own, right?

The Black, teenage thug grabs the man by his collar, effortlessly lifts him from the seat. Members of his entourage snicker in the background, patiently waiting on the punch line to some sick joke. Hanging from the Black, teenage thug’s bent arm now, the suited, White man nervously looks up at him, seeking permission with his eyes to be excused.

The Black, teenage thug releases him. The suited, White man immediately turns on his heels to seek refuge in the adjoining car. The Black, teenage thug claims the now-empty seat, high-fiving a lighter-skinned member of his entourage.

An angry scowl on the face of the old, White man seated just to the right of me doesn’t go unnoticed. He is dressed in all black, with a preacher’s collar, and the little hair that remains on his head is combed over to cover a bald spot.

“You need to stop eyeballing me, old man,” the Black, teenage thug says, his unbelted, denim jeans now six inches below his waistline. He stands briefly to pull his pants up over his boxers, then sits. His gaze falls on me.

Pointing, he says, “Hey, y’all, look at Wheels over there.” Eyes above smiling faces now shift to me.

“Bet not get him mad, Ty,” a member of his entourage interjects. “He’ll run you over.”

“Why do you people act the way you do?” Preacher Man gruffly says, his arms crossed.

The Black, teenage thug now known as Ty doesn’t hear him, but a member of his entourage does. “What’s that you say, old man?” the member asks. Everyone’s attention shifts to Preacher Man as the thug who heard him stands, readying himself for a fistfight.

Preacher Man continues, “We give you space, yet you still feel the need to mock and terrorize us. Why? For laughs? I think not. You don’t care. About yourselves, the legacy of your people.”

Ty leaps from his seat while reaching for the revolver in his right jacket pocket. He stands in front of Preacher Man, his revolver pressed firmly against Preacher Man’s temple. Preacher Man’s arms are at his sides now, and his eyes are shut. Must be making amends with God, for he probably fears the end is near.

“He’s right, you know?”

Ty turns to me, revolver still pressed firmly against Preacher Man’s temple.

“You don’t care. About yourselves, the legacy of our people.”

Copyright 2015. Jeffery A. Faulkerson. All rights reserved.

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE “THE THUG WHISPERER”

Why We Need More Women and Minority Filmmakers

Group Photo with AvaWe live in a very diverse world, so why don’t the characters in our books and films (fiction mostly) reflect it? There are a number of creatives of color (and women) doing their thing, but only a select few are being noticed by the mainstream.  The link below will take you to an Indiewire.com article that speaks to the need for more women and minority filmmakers.  ENJOY!

Oh, yeah!  And the picture to the left was taken with writer, director and producer Ava Duvernay at a 2012 screening (at the Writers Guild of America West, Los Angeles, California) of her film Middle of Nowhere.  Pictured with Ava and me are fellow screenwriters Carla Wilson and Marc Harris.

http://www.indiewire.com/article/heres-why-we-need-more-women-and-minority-filmmakers-20141002

Here’s the trailer for Ava Duvernay’s Middle of Nowhere:

Pancakes and Cartoons

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE J.A. FAULKERSON’S DEBUT NOVEL, ADINKRAHENE: FEAR OF A BLACK PLANET.

Jonny Quest

Saturday mornings used to be a time of discovery and bewilderment for me. As a young child growing up in Upper East Tennessee, I would wake up most mornings to pancakes and cartoons. As I ate the pancakes that my mother prepared for me, I allowed myself to get lost in the lives of these make-believe characters.  Some of my favorites were The Flintstones, Super Stretch and Mirco-Woman, Jonny Quest, The Jetsons, Scooby-Doo, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, Super Friends, and Clue Club, to name only a few. With the advent of Boomerang, at 46 years of age, I am discovering that I’m most creative when familiar voices and tunes can be heard in the background during my writing sessions.

Some would argue that being torn between the computer and television screens causes writers to lose their momentum when crafting stories. I wouldn’t argue with that. I undoubtedly would be even more productive if I didn’t take those quick glances to see Jonny and Hadje floating on a hovercraft with Race Bannon, their bodyguard. And Lord knows Fred and Barney’s verbal volleys turn quick glances into lingering ones. But for me, hearing their voices takes me to a place where life was much simpler, less stressful.

Saturday CartoonsMost of you know, I was raised by a once-poor, single-parent mother. You would think growing up in a low-income household would be more complex and stressful. But it wasn’t, at least for me. I was a daydreamer, and the Saturday morning cartoon line-ups on NBC, CBS and ABC enriched the dreams that I would have as I peered out the window of our two-story, subsidized apartment complex.

Because I am now using my time as a stay-at-home parent to more fervently pursue my writing career, I often find myself rushing to complete my daily five-page quota. Even as I write this blog entry, I worry about not reaching my daily goal. My time has been spent with you, not with the new novel that has nothing to do with my Adinkrahene series.  In a few hours, I have to pick my son up from summer day camp and then drop him off at a summer academic enrichment program. As his father, I want to put him in a position to have fun during his 10-week summer break, but then start the new school year with a head of steam.

Then there’s my wife’s honey-do list. At times, working through this list can take precedence over my writing. Yes, there are times when I balk. All I want to do is write, read, and watch old, black and white science-fiction movies on the Syfy Channel. But my primary job is to take care of things around the house so my working wife doesn’t have to. You’ll have to ask her, but I think I’m doing a pretty good job, most of the time.

But I digress.

The Saturday morning cartoon line-up made living in a low-income community bearable. Because I grew up in a small town in Upper East Tennessee, I was somewhat immune to the troubles plaguing major cities like Chicago, New York and Baltimore. But drugs like marijuana and cocaine were reportedly readily available to anyone who was willing to pay the piper. Some of the kids I grew up with were even recruited by irresponsible adults to become drug pushers. As I reflect on my life now, I realize my saving grace was my acceptance of Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, followed by my love for Saturday morning cartoons and comic books.

Super Stretch and Micro WomanWhile other kids were hanging out on the street on Saturday mornings, I was either watching shows like Super Stretch and Micro-Woman, or reading Richie Rich comic books. I also was getting into the habit of reading the Christian bible daily. At the time, I didn’t know these activities would lead to me wanting to become a professional writer. I was more concerned about going on an imaginary journey with the characters I saw on screen or read about in my comic books.

I even received cartoon fixes during the week. I still remember those days when I would come home from school to watch shows like Space Giants, Tom & Jerry and Woody Woodpecker. There was also the after-school specials on ABC that offered up inspiring stories about living life purposefully and responsibly.

The Saturday morning cartoon line-up introduced me to quirky characters. Some of the most quirky ones were George Jetson and Fred Flintstone, as well as Scooby-Doo and Shaggy. These characters are now considered icons because they were introduced during a time when life was, well, much simpler and less stressful. We didn’t have computers connected to the World Wide Web then. Our color television sets, with metal clothes hanger antennae, were our only conduits to the outside world.

DroopyThe Saturday morning line-up fueled my imagination, my love for writing novels and screenplays. When I went on these journeys with these imaginary characters, I felt like I was right there with them. It was great being there with Jonny Quest on a mission in a South American rain forest. It was also great being there with the mouse Jerry as he outsmarted the cat Tom for the umpteenth time, or hearing the dog Droopy say, “You know what?  I’m sad.”  These characters, and others, gave me an appreciation for showing not telling, as well as how to take your characters through a series of complications before reaching the climax.  That’s not to say, I’ve mastered these skills.  The road ahead is long, steep and winding.  I just want to be as creative as I can be so you can use your five senses to fully embrace the literary meals I have prepared, and continue to prepare, for you.

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE J.A. FAULKERSON’S DEBUT NOVEL, ADINKRAHENE: FEAR OF A BLACK PLANET.