Michelle Buckley

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

National Book Club Conference

This past weekend I attended the National Book Club Conference in ATL with the KC Girlfriends Book Club and over 600 other booklovers. All I can say is it was one of the most powerful experiences I've been a part of since becoming a published author. I could go on and on about the NBCC, but since they say a picture is worth a 1,000 words -- I'll let my pictures speak for themselves. If you really love books and if you get the chance to attend the conference, this was my first time and I wholeheartedly suggest you go -- it's an experience you won't forget! For more about the NBCC and audio clips from Terry McMillan and Kalisha Buckhanon, click here:

Me and California author, Lexi Davis the creator of 'Pretty Evil'.

Me and readers from across the country.

International best-selling author, Terri McMillan.

Me and ATL reader and bookclub founder, Jerika Head.

Me and Carol Mackey of Black Expressions Book Club.NYT best-selling authors, Eric Jerome Dickey and Kimberla Lawson Roby.


OKAY...I LIED, I HAVE TO SAY A LITTLE SUMTHIN-SUMTHIN MORE ABOUT THE CONFERENCE. Authors to me are like rock stars and celebrities are to other people. I was thrilled to meet some of my favorite literary "rock stars" including Terry McMillan, Pearl Cleage, Walter Mosley, Eric Jerome Dickey, Donna Hill, Kimberla Lawson Roby, Mary Monroe, E. Lynn Harris, Diane McKinney-Whetstone, Meta Smith, Lexi Davis, Martha Southgate, Electa Rome Parks and Karen E. Quinones Miller.

Take my breath away moments during the conference for me were:

~^^~Watching Pearl Cleage recite her 'We Speak Your Name' poem created for Oprah's Legends Ball last year.

~^^~Listening as Tavis Smiley read from his memoirs and moved some of the crowd to tears while the legendary Cornell West looked on. The memoir is entitled: What I Know for Sure: My Story of Growing Up in America. It's truly inspirational.

~^^~Meeting the mom of author Martha Southgate (The Fall of Rome/Third Girl From the Left). Martha's mom, Joan, at the age of 73 walked 519 miles along the route of the Underground Railroad in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Canada. Of course, Joan wrote an inspiring book about her experience which I bought, called 'In Their Path'. See: http://www.intheirpath.org/

~^^~Meeting Carol Mackey, editor-in-chief of Black Expressions Book Club. (Carol brought my first book to life, Bulletproof Soul, in hardcover form -- a dream I've had since childhood).

~^^~Having authors like Lexi Davis, Wendy Williams and Electa Rome Parks say they'd heard of my books Trippin' and Bulletproof Soul.

~^^~Talking to NYT author Eric Jerome Dickey who recognized little ole me from MySpace.com (I was shocked he really was on there and that his site wasn't handled by his "people").

~^^~Seeing Terry McMillan honor another up and coming bright author, Kalisha Buckhanon, author of 'Upstate' with the National Book Club Conference’s Terry McMillan Young Author Award.

~^^~Watching Terry McMillan put her money were her mouth is by offering to purchase health care and open checking accounts and secure credit cards for two young men brought to the conference by author, pr guru and Stay Strong Foundation co-founder, Terri Williams. The foundation is dedicated to inspiring and supporting youth. The young men Terry offered to help are former gang members-turned college students and they were a part of the NBCC's 'Young Black Men-Lives Worth Saving' panel discussion.

But perhaps the most powerful moment for me occured while I was talking to a reader from Atlanta. She'd been up all night with a friend whose son had been thrown in jail. His offense? DWB -- driving while black. Anyway, as she was telling me all that had happened the night before, I marveled at the fact that she was up bright and early and at the conference.

Her response to me is one that's stayed with me ever since the conference and it will likely stay with me forever. She said, "You don't understand, I had to be here! You don't understand how much I appreciate what you and other writers do. Reading saved my life when my mom died when I was just 14 years old. Reading saved my life when my dad died years later. And reading saved my life when I went through my divorce. Reading is my escape and I don't know what I'd do without it."

WOW! Talk about the power of writing and words! If ever a writer doubted how important what they did was -- after talking to that reader -- there would be no doubt. To know that you can touch another human being in that way is a powerful feeling. Over the years, reading has allowed me to escape to other worlds and it's nice to be a part of the chain that now allows me through my writing, to help others escape. As a writer, that's a responsibility I don't take lightly.

I'd like to thank that reader and all other readers out there who make it possible for me to do what I do and who encourage me and motivate me often without even knowing it, every step of the way along my journey! Blessings to you all...

Blogger ~^^~Elsie~^^~ said...

Hi Michelle - I got a teary feeling when I read this - a teary joyful feeling though :). Especially when you wrote about the Power of Words and that reader approached you - I can relate - it's so motivating and driving. I can imagine the joy you felt when she shared that.

I LOVE Terry McMillan! I remember readign Waiting to Exhale and laughing @ so many times. I am currently reading How Stella Got Her Groove Back. I just love her style of writing - it's so conversational! Kudos to her for helping the young men - how admirable!

I would love to attend a conference like that - I went to my first book fair in May, and I was so excited to meet authors as well. Sometimes, I tell people "I met Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez and so and so." And, when they say "who?" I tell them "OMG? U dont know who that is??" They are like celebrities to us, and I do agree that we make a great connection.

12:03 PM, August 10, 2006  
Blogger Michelle said...

Elsie -- I know what you mean. Seeing Terry McMillan up close and personal was crazzzzy to me! Because of her, after reading Mama, Disappearing Acts and Waiting To Exhale, I actually began to think my childhood dream of being a published writer could really happen. She has inspired so many black female writers -- me included. And talking to the woman who talked about how reading saved her -- I'll never forget her passion about the written word!

Elsie, have you heard about the 1st Annual Chica Lit Club Fiesta in Miami Beach, held the weekend of May 19th. About seventy chica lit aficionados from all over the country gathered at the Miami Beach Resort and Spa for a weekend of books, fun and sisterhood. If you didn't go this year, you may want to check it out next year. It sounds similar to the NBCC event. Continued success to you on your writing journey...

1:13 PM, August 10, 2006  
Blogger Rose said...

I haven't been to any conferences yet, I should because I have heard so much about them. But I have met Terry who was so funny. I took pictures with her but the photographers there haven't given them to me yet. I also met Diane, and E. Lynn who all gave me some valuable information and encouragement. These are three of my favorite authors. I guess I should post my pictures..
Thanks for sharing a great post..

2:41 AM, August 13, 2006  
Blogger Soulfull said...

I've never been to a conference, but after reading this, I definitely want to go next time!

8:14 AM, August 13, 2006  
Blogger Michelle said...

@ rose -- if you get the chance to attend in the future, I suggest you go. You're right-- Terry is a hoot! I felt more like a fan than an author when I got to see my favorite writers like Terry Mc, EJD, Walter Mosley, Kimberla, Donna Hill, Pearl and Mary Monroe.

@ Soulfull -- hope to see you there in the future!

1:49 PM, August 14, 2006  
Anonymous Lexi Davis said...

Michelle -- what a wonderful blog about the NBCC! I was standing right there when that reader came on the tail end of my book club meeting. She told us how she'd spent the night at the jail with her friend whose son had been arrested for DWB. I remember that. Reading about it again here in your blog brought back the chills. That was such a powerful moment, and I thank you for capturing the emotions of it so beautifully in words, and for sharing it with the world. I felt the same thing you did from that reader.

I was so glad you came to my book club meeting and we got the chance to meet. I saw you sitting back there, and when I asked if there were any other authors in the room, you so modestly raised your hand. But after the meeting when you came up and introduced yourself and I recognized you AND your book, I really felt honored that you would come and support a fellow author.

Now folks, let me just say something about Michelle. She is one beautiful and warm sistah! We hit it off immediately and I felt a sisterhood that I can't explain. Michelle was symbolic of what I got from the NBCC conference experience as a whole --a feeling of love, support and camaraderie. Without ever having met me before, Michelle walked up to me and was just so real and down to earth. No attitude. No preconceived notions, no judgments, no faking --just love. I absolutely loved that vibe, and I can proudly say that that positive force of energy was the prevailing spirit among the readers, authors and the conference attendees in general.

I, too, met some of the same author (celebrities) that Michelle mentioned here. Kimberla Roby was very down-to-earth and supportive, spouting advice freely and sharing what she's learned in the business to this new author. Carol Mackey was an absolutely doll--a lovely embodiment of sweetness and support. She's no longer just the editor-in-chief of Black Expression, but a new friend. I meet many, many other authors, book club members and readers –too many to mention them all here.

So, for all of you who don't know, you need to know: NBCC is a powerful conference – a place to meet and connect with authors and other readers who share a passion for the written word, especially the African-American flavor and experience as it is captured in literature. Curtis Bunn and his fiance Najah did a marvelous
job, and I thank Curtis for inviting me to be on the panel this year.

To Michelle –I loved meeting you. I can't wait to read your book, Trippin' (a female serial killer ,whew! Like I told you, I love the idea!) And I also definitely plan to pick up Bulletproof Soul as soon as I meet this hectic writing deadline. As I'd mentioned to you, I'd already seen your book out there and I'd heard positive comments about your writing. You keep on being beautiful and doing your thing. We'll definitely keep in touch.

Much Love...Be Blessed,

Lexi Davis

5:03 PM, August 14, 2006  
Blogger Bougie said...

Hey girl I can't wait to attend one. Seem like you have a wonderful time.

5:18 PM, August 14, 2006  
Blogger Michelle said...

@ Lexi -- thanks for stopping by! I enjoyed meeting you too! I love supporting other authors because so many have supported me and I considered it an honor to attend your session! You have such a generous and positive spirit and are truly a beautiful person both inside and out! How did you (such a normal seeming person) get that warped writer's mind of yours? :-) You're right the conference was a thriving positive force of energy that connected readers, writers and all who attended.

I can't wait for book #2 from you, gurrrrl which is gonna take the literary world by storm, I can just tell! Continued blessings to you...keep doing whatcha do!

@ T-Bou -- you are going to really enjoy it when you attend one. It was so positive and powerful -- a great way of gathering and relating with others who shared a love for books and words, created by US for US and I definitely plan on going back. Maybe I'll see you there in 2008!

5:44 PM, August 14, 2006  
Blogger Stephen Bess said...

There's nothing like a celebration of writers! Beautiful! It would have been nice to meet you and the others in person. The Summer is not over and I still need to read your book. I might be one of your groupies afterwards. :)

8:36 AM, August 16, 2006  
Blogger Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Wow, how cool!!!!!

10:12 PM, August 26, 2006  
Blogger Michelle said...

@ SB -- you're right a celebration of reading and writing can't be beat! That's one conference I'll always remember. And for the record, an author can never have too many groupies -- as long as they are buying books!!!! BTW -- you're the winner of my U TRIPPIN' contest and I owe you some "stuff."
Look for it soon!

@ Dr. Deb -- the conference was VERY COOL! I just visited your blog and saw that you recently signed with a literary agent! Congrats to you. :-) I love your novel's title: The Tenth Session...can't wait to read it! Wishing you much success and you can believe I'll support your writing, as you've supported mine!

6:20 PM, August 27, 2006  
Blogger Shelia said...

Sounds like you all had a good time...maybe I'll catch it the year after next.

5:02 PM, September 12, 2006  
Blogger Michelle said...

Shelia -- it was really a wonderful experience! You definitely need to go if you get the opportunity. As a writer, it's so nice to be embraced by readers and other writers!

10:44 AM, September 18, 2006  

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