Bernice L. McFadden's Blog, page 8

June 26, 2014

I apologize for staying away for so long, but I have a perfectly valid excuse: I've been working quite diligently on my new novel: THE BOOK OF HARLAN - which will be published in 2015.
It's my longest novel to date, currently exceeding 80K words!
I'm closing in on the ending and the excitement is building. I have great hopes for this book and I'm anxious for you all to read it.
In other news, I've been doing some traveling. I welcomed the year with a trip to my second home, Barbados. Recently, I was on the road for a month. My travels led me to Atlanta for the  Kenny LeonCharity Event, Anguilla Lit Fest and finally a two week romp through Scandanvia as the Creative Writing Instructor on the ship, Voyager owned by The Semester At Sea Organization.
Every since I first saw Samuel L. Jackson in Spike Lee's JUNGLE FEVER - I've been fascinated with him and always dreamed and hoped I would meet him someday! That dream came true at the Kenny Leon TRUE COLORS Charity Event.

The last time I was in Anguilla was twenty years ago. I've always dreamed about returning to that magical, beautiful island and finally, my dream came true!
Iceland has been on my list of places to visit since forever! It was one of the many stops on my Scandinavian adventure. I was beyond thrilled to be in this amazing country for three days. And a soak in the world famous gemo-thermal pools of the Blue Lagoon in Reykjavik was the icing in the cake!
I feel like I hit triple 7's -- three dreams came true in one month!
Good friend, fabulous writer, editor, mom and teacher: DONNA HILL - has a dream she'd like to see come to fruition and I hope you all can pitch in and help! 
"Many of you only know me as an author. Others know that beyond writing my passion is education. After years of searching for my place in the world I found it in the classroom. Very late in life I went back to school and attained my MFA in Creative writing which allowed me my dream of being a college professor. My dream does not end there.  I want to be able to write and administer curriculum, specifically curriculum that will address the needs of underserved, urban college students.  I have seen these young people yearn for an education but also yearn for knowledge that relates to them. I know I can provide that and train other educators to do the same. I can bring a new dimension to our young people's education. To do that I need my Doctorate.  I have been accepted for the doctorate program in Post Secondary and Adult Education for the fall of 2014. However, tuition is beyond my reach at present. I know that if I put it off, I may never get this opportunity again. So . . . I am asking for your help to achieve this next level of my educational journey so that I will be able to share it with the next generation of learners." - Donna Hill
Click Here To Support Donna's DREAM!
New and Noteworthy Summer Reads!
Till The Well Runs Dryby Lauren Francis Sharma

The Night of the RamblerMontague Kobbe
Thank you for your continued support and remember:
"Go Confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined."~Thoreau

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Bernice L. McFadden
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Published on June 26, 2014 15:49 • 70 views

March 16, 2014

Today, my mother celebrates her 71st birthday. If genes have anything to do with it -- she'll be here for another two decades. Her own mother, my grandmother will be 89 this year.

I am my mother's first born child. I've seen a lot and know even more. We never had a sisterly type of relationship. The boundaries were always clear: She is the parent and I am the child.

Those labels mean something different with each decade that passes. In the beginning I leaned on her and now as she ages, she leans on me. That is how it is supposed to be.

She is not the woman she once was. And that has taken some getting used to. At times, it may seem that my anger at her decline is aimed at her, but the truth is, I'm damn mad at time, which is not being especially kind to her.

We don't see eye to eye the way we once did and I know that's more her mind than it is her heart. I'm glad I'm mature enough to recognize that. It doesn't mean that it hurts any less - it just means that I am conscious enough not to harbor any long term ill feelings towards her.

She has and continues to be the best mother she knows how to be.

This is all any one of us can ask of our mothers.

She's the only mother I have and I must cherish her in good times and bad. That is it and that is all.

Happy Birthday Mommy!

**My grandmother talks about giving birth to her daughter/my mother 71 years ago today)

Bernice L. McFadden
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Published on March 16, 2014 13:37 • 78 views

March 8, 2014

No, I haven't abandoned this blog - I've been working on my new novel!

The Book of Harlan is a little over 60K words and growing. In the next few months I hope to post a few savory snippets of the book. So stay tuned.
While I'm not as active here, I do frequent my other online homes:
Please feel free to visit me on Facebook Twitter and Instagram

In the meantime, please check out my 2014 tour schedule - I might be in your area of the world at some point this year!

Oh! if you're interested in taking a Creative Writing Workshop this summer with me or Thomas Sayers Ellis in Washington, DC -  you should totally apply!!

WEEKEND WORKSHOPSThe Hurston Wright Weekend Workshops are open to Black writers working in the genres of fiction, poetry, nonfiction and memoir. Join an intimate group of writers for a weekend of intensive writing and discovery that will stretch the bounds of your imagination and your writing. Working with award-winning authors who lead each workshop, you will be mentored and find and create a nurturing community of support.Workshop Schedule: Saturday and Sunday, 9am to 3pm (lunch included).AUGUST 2-3The Hill Center in Washington D.C.'s Historic Capitol Hill NeighborhoodDeadline for applications is April 18th!
Fiction: Writing from the Heart and Soul - How to Access Your Authentic Story.This workshop will introduce techniques fiction writers can use to mine their own interior terrain to create a well-structured narrative that contains a variety of different voices and perspectives. In this workshop you will discover the essence of the story you want to tell and how to write with power and authority. Workshop Leader: Bernice McFaddenBernice McFadden is the author of the national bestsellers, This Bitter EarthThe Warmest DecemberSugar and most recently Gathering of Waters, (a finalist for the 2014 Hurston Wright Legacy Award in Fiction.). She has been awarded the 2011 Black Caucus of the American Library Association Fiction Award.
Poetry: Crank-Shaped Poems This workshop will explore the possibilities and the uses of cultural attitude and the percussive behavior known as poetic swag. Goals of the workshop-new sense and new music; lyric poetry with an eye toward and against tradition.
Workshop Leader:  
Thomas Sayers EllisPhotographer and poet Thomas Sayers Ellis is the author of Skin, Inc: Identity Repair Poems. His first full collection,The Maverick Roomwas awarded the John C. Zacharis First Book Award. Ellis co-founded the Dark Room Collective in Cambridge Massachusetts in 1988, and his poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including The Best American Poetry. He teaches in the low-residency Creative Writing Program at Lesley University and he is on the faculty of Cave Canem.

Classes will meet at the Hill Center and the Capitol Hll Hotel is providing a discount rate for workshop participants. "The only entity of its kind to discover, develop, honor and serve  Black and African American writers at every stage in their career." Like us on Facebook    Follow us on TwitterForward this email

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Bernice L. McFadden
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Published on March 08, 2014 08:56 • 99 views

December 14, 2013

Happy Holidays!

I left Kalani two weeks ago. Already it feels like a distant dream. I miss the sound of the ocean and the coqui frogs lulling me to sleep at night. I forged some wonderful new friendships and was able to delve back into my novel-in-progress. All in all, the experience was very good for me. I was surprised at how emotional I became when it was time to say my good-byes. There is some magic at work at Kalani. It's subtle but penetrating.Since I'm leading this Free Your Mind and the Rest Will Follow sort of life..I jumped at the chance to do something I've always secretly wanted to do...On a warm Tuesday morning, I posed nude for four artists. It was an exhilarating experience that I hope to revisit in the near future.(Bernice by Toko Fujisaki

Kalani hosts a number of different groups, organizations and a variety of artists. While there, I was very happy to meet Kathryn Jenkins and her husband Seung Yoon Lee. Katherine is the author of:
Lessons from the Monk I Marriedby Katherine Jenkins by Seal PressPaperback List Price:$15.00Our Price: $4.20Buy Now
I'm looking forward to reading this in 2014.____________________________________________
Perhaps you've heard that Martha Southgate, has started a petition to stop educators from using Kathryn Stockett's bestselling novel: The Help, to teach students about The Civil Rights Movement.
"We were alarmed to read in a recent article in Slate that many high schools are assigning Kathryn Stockett's The Help as a text of choice (sometimes the only text of choice) in both English and history classes as the basis of their teaching on the Civil Rights Movement. One could hardly think of a worse choice, not because of its literary merits or lack thereof, but because of the way in which it utterly distorts the real story of the Civil Rights Movement and the thousands of people, most of them African-American, who fought and died to end American apartheid."
This move on the part of educators is old hat. Passing off fiction for fact. Say NO to this white-washed version of the truth....SIGN THE PETITION...._____________________________________________
Once upon a time in the Bedford Stuyvesant Section of Brooklyn, there lived a man with a dream. His dream was to share the songs of his heart with the world. In between dreaming, he helped his brother and sister-in-law run the neighborhood coffee shop (Breadstuy). 
One day someone walked into a club and saw this man singing from his heart. The rest as they say, is history............. So happy to know this dude...he inspires me. If you don't know him or his music -- you're missing out on a truly gifted individual...!

Gregory Porter - 1960 What? - Official Music Video (Jazz, Soul Music)Gregory Porter - 1960 What? - Official Music Video (Jazz, Soul Music)


I'm so happy that we are all alive at the same time....!!
Wishing you and yours the happiest of holidays and all of the best in 2014 and beyond.........!!

In honor of Madiba's life and in order to shine a spotlight on  injustices in Africa that still need to be eradicated I've put my eBook/novel: My Name is Butterflyon sale for .99 centsuntil the end of the year." -#Kindle & #Nook 

 Is it just me?

"Your life is an occasion. Rise to it." - Suzanne Weyn
STAY IN TOUCH Like us on Facebook    Follow us on Twitter      Find us on Pinterest123 Street Name City, ST - 555.555.5555

Bernice L. McFadden
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Published on December 14, 2013 07:44 • 94 views

November 10, 2013

I spend a lot of time thinking about my family. I think about the ones who are still here in the physical sense, but my musings are usually focused on the ones who have gone on to glory - those I knew and those I did not know in this life.

Mostly, I think about the women who were around me from the time I was born - well into my adulthood. My great-aunts - who were great in every sense of the word.

I didn't fully comprehend during their time here, just how much of an impact they would have on my life.

They were strong women. No doubt about that. I like to think that I am a strong woman as well. How could I not be - their DNA flows through my veins.

I do however, have my weak moments - and so did they. But they were resilient women. They had their cry - their brief "woe-is-me" moments and then pulled themselves up by the proverbial boot straps and marched on.

Their lives didn't really allow them to pursue their dreams -- they were born and grew up in a time when black women did what their mama's before them did: Got married, worked hard, had children, worked hard - raised their families - worked hard - assisted in raising their grandchildren - worked hard and then died.

Without the love of and connection to family it would have been a thankless existence.

They sacrificed their dreams so their off-spring could follow theirs…

It's humbling and heartbreaking all at the same time.

I am bloated with appreciation…

I wonder what they are thinking about us - the descendants.

I think this generations sense of family has waned. We cousins are not as close as the previous generations. Years will go by before we all come together and break bread - which is mostly at funerals. That was not the case when I was growing up. Holidays were reserved for the family -- all of the family. Twenty or thirty of us would cram into my great aunts tiny one-bedroom apartment for Thanksgiving or Easter dinner - and it didn't seem crowded - it was cozy because it was family.

These events were mandatory. The gatekeepers would have it no other way. This is what family was all about.

But most of the gatekeepers have passed away and it seems that their sense of tradition has passed on with them.

We are now a bloodline scattered to the wind - visiting each other on Facebook instead of in person. Can you sense the sadness I feel about this?

In the next few years I will move into an eldership position. My grandmother is 88 years old - and while she is physically healthy, her mind has started unravel. My mother is only 70 - but she too is having mental difficulties. In New York that leaves me and a small generation of cousins….

What will we do to restore the family traditions? We have off-spring that don't even know one another! It's so very disheartening. I wonder if the ancestors are as disappointed in us as I suspect they are…

The women who came before me left some pretty big shoes to fill… I don't know if I'm worthy or even ready………

Bernice L. McFadden
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Published on November 10, 2013 12:55 • 202 views

November 4, 2013


I write this post from Kalani Oceanside Retreat in Pahoa, Hawaii; where I am the Artist-in-Residence for the month of November.

Now...although I've only been here for three days - I feel like I've been here for two weeks. There is something eerily familiar about the people here. Perhaps, it's because so many of us are transversing the same road.

The road to happiness...rediscovery...spirituality...clarity and healing. So in them I see me.

The "volunteers" who live and work in this intentional community range from ages 22 to 80 and come from a variety of different backgrounds. Many of them have similar stories to mine; quit their jobs, sold their businesses and homes, gave away their worldly possessions (or stored them away) bought a plane ticket and got the hell out of dodge.

We are Ohana - All of us - me, the cancer surgeon, the firefighter, the IT man, the college student, the graphic artist, the mother of the former heroin addict who after giving her life to making sure her child got clean and sober - is now taking time out for herself -  and the  dozens more who I have not yet come into contact with - are all here searching for the real meaning of life, because we figured out that it's certainly not in the type of car we drive or the square footage of our homes, or the expensive purses, shoes and clothing we wear. It's not in that over-priced education I didn't receive (but maybe you did) from that five star university. Happiness is not in the awards that line our walls and mantles, nor is it in all of the money we have in the bank.

So we come here  and move into our tents, shared rooms or no frills A-Frame cottages, and take on duties that in our other lives would have been deemed beneath us: housekeeping, bussing tables, washing dishes, pulling weeds...etc....and we ponder the now and the before and the what's to come and we surely -- maybe slowly maybe quickly - but certainly surely - come to the realization that the meaning of life might actually be nestled in that unbelievable night sky chock full of stars (you can see the milky way) or in every breath we take - because the cleanest air in the world is located right here on The Big Island of Hawaii. Or maybe the meaning of life is in the Pacific ocean that happens to be right outside our door or in the trees or the active volcano or the many hugs we are sure to receive throughout the day.

Maybe the meaning of life is that feeling that comes over us when we think about all of those things we sold off and gave away and now can't remember what they were or the dollar amount we received, because we have bigger, more full filling things on our minds like the sunrise, the next full moon or a scoop of homemade Lily-Koi ice cream.

And perhaps still the meaning of life is that expression we wear on our faces for most of the day and no one admonishes us with: Wipe that stupid expression off your face! Because ain't nothing stupid about a smile...

I'm not saying that the meaning of life is here where I am - and I'm not saying it's not. I'm just saying Kalani is a good jumping off point if you're inclined to begin your search...

And I'm also saying that for me, the meaning of life is happiness, community, Ohana, contentment, serenity, love and passion...and Kalani is swimming with it.

I thank the universe for guiding me here...........I'm feeling a bit awe struck and am bursting with Mahalo........

********Follow my adventures on Instagram.**********

P.S. On November 10th, Please check out my travel essay: "Looking For Fish In Trees" in the travel section of The New York Times.  

Bernice L. McFadden
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Published on November 04, 2013 15:47 • 157 views

October 9, 2013

September 29, 2013

It's always nice to hear from readers who are also writers. As writers they can empathize about the undertaking of creating something from scratch..the sacrifice involved and the highs and lows that come along with starting and completing a story..

I received this letter from novelist, Alretha Thomas...and it really made my day. Please check out her books.

An Open Letter to Bernice L. McFadden.

Okay, Ms. McFadden. You listen to me and you hear me good! You are anointed. Your mind, your heart, your soul, your hands. Anointed. It’s funny sometimes how God decides to choose certain individuals 
for greatness in this life. Many people come to mind. Ghandi, King, Mandela, Obama, Oprah, Jordan, and the list can go on and on. Within that group he decided to include you! He decided to give you a special gift. The ability to turn a phrase so sweet, so original, so awe-striking, it leaves the reader wondering how in the world did she come up with that? Did she go to some faraway planet and dip her hand in a tub of nectar filled with adjectives, nouns, verbs and metaphors, mixed up in just the right way? How is she able to describe the ordinary and make it sound extraordinary? How is she able to spin a tale that keeps you turning the pages so fast that you rip them from the spine? Who are you Bernice L. McFadden? What are you made of? How are you able to write the way you do? What is in that head of yours covered in locks? I just hope and pray you know that you are special and that God has entrusted in you a rare gift. He chose you! Wow, what an honor. You make words taste good on the page! They sing, dance, and tap dance. They do the Funky Chicken, the Four Square, the Cabbage Patch, the Jerk and the Jitterbug. They sing gospel, rock and roll and pop. They knock you out in the first round. Girl, I’m scared of you! Every word, sentence, paragraph, chapter I read, I truly know that there’s a God. You’re writing is a reflection of his greatness, his goodness, is everything. Every good and perfect gift is from above. ~James 1:17
Alretha Thomas

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Published on September 29, 2013 04:29 • 155 views

September 28, 2013

Yesterday, I celebrated my 48th birthday in Barbados with friends and family. We spent a lovely day on the beach and I even learned how to paddle board!
Later, took a moment for myself and swam way, way out into the ocean. I went further than I've been in years. So far that the people on the beach looked like specks.
Being in the middle of that beautiful, calm, velvety body of water made me feel free and very grateful. 
While out there,  I thanked the universe for allowing me to see another year and for placing good people in my life and continuing to bless me with good health and sound mind.
It was in that moment that I realized just how much of a charmed life I have led and continue to lead...
As always, I don't know what my future holds, but I'm banking on it being bright and so I continue to walk boldly towards it.....

Catch Up With Me At These Events...
Crossroads Writers Conference
(Macon, Georgia)Oct 4th - 7th
Sisters Sippin' Tea 9th Annual Fall for Books and Brunch (Tulsa, Ok)October 12th @10AM
Bernice L. McFadden, Elizabeth Nunez -Women's National Book Association’s National Reading Group Month, Strand Book Store, New York, NY
October 23rd @ 7PM

"Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, or worn. It is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace & gratitude." - Denis Waitley
STAY IN TOUCH Like us on Facebook    Follow us on Twitter      123 Street Name City, ST - 555.555.5555Forward this email This email was sent to by |  Update Profile/Email Address | Instant removal with SafeUnsubscribe™ | Privacy Policy.Bernice McFadden | 654 Crescent Street | Brooklyn | NY | 11208

Bernice L. McFadden
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Published on September 28, 2013 07:04 • 125 views

September 12, 2013

I'm a firm believer in second, third, tenth...infinite chances!My life is a great example of infinite chances.
Nowhere is a Place was my sixth and final novel with my first publisher. It was published in 2006. It came and went without much pomp and circumstance. 

I hated the cover art. The story itself is very close to my heart and soul because it was born from my genealogy research. I dedicated the book to my father who had died the previous year. The Washington Post declared Nowhere is a Place as one of The Best Books of 2006.
Fast forward seven years (lucky seven!) and Nowhere is a Place is enjoying a second current publisher, Akashic Books reissued the novel this year. It has a beautiful new cover and a lovely blurb from a gifted and celebrated writer (Lynn Nottage) who I greatly admire. 

And now, it's been selected for National Reading Group Month (October 2013) from the Women's National Book Association.
Second chances, rock!

Bernice L. McFadden
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Published on September 12, 2013 06:01 • 130 views