Hidden Mississippi Novels

Ok. These Mississippi novels aren’t exactly hidden. But I didn’t know them. I do now, thanks to the confluence of two things. One, I’ve been intentionally reading African American writers for almost two years now. Second, I thought to myself, Ellen, you’re hoping to publish a Mississippi novel. You need to know the canon...

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Arts Alive

Oh, man. Sometimes you just need to do something to remind yourself how much you love it. Arts Alive reminded me of that truth today. My kind, wonderful, incredibly talented friend Emma Connolly invited me to participate in Bay St. Louis’s Arts Alive as an artist in its MakerSpace. In the morning, the schedule had me talking about my book...

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I Feel to Believe

When we took an apartment in New Orleans, I began reading the Times-Picayune newspaper. I would spy a column by Jarvis DeBerry and feel as if I’d found an Easter egg. Back then, we were in the city part-time. I didn’t know DeBerry’s publishing schedule. So each column was a surprise and delight. A collection of those columns, each so impressive,...

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The Secret Lives of Church Ladies

Life is circuitous. I follow a list serve put out by Jackson State University professor C. Liegh McInnis who wrote about an interview between Kiese Laymon (Heavy; Long Division) and Robert Jones, Jr. (The Prophets) wherein they recommended, among other titles, THE SECRET LIVES OF CHURCH LADIES. And just like that, I have a new favorite author. It’s...

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Black Panther: Tales of Wakanda

This is a gorgeous book. I understand I’m probably not supposed to lead with that. I can’t help it. It’s a beautiful cover on a hefty book that promises—actually shouts—adventure ahead! The book, a collection of short stories, doesn’t lie. Don’t shy away from Black Panther: Tales of Wakanda if you’re not a...

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A Game of Inches

It’s a game of inches. Or at least it has been for me. Other writers, they decide to write a novel and voila! It’s published before I can get my first cup of tea in the morning. My latest endeavor began in 2004. I don’t know how many inches that is in days, but I think an inchworm could have circled the globe with how long I’ve...

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A Different Way to Write Book Club Questions

I am nearing the end of my Beta reader feedback on In the Name of Mississippi. Thus, in complete blind faith that I will find an agent for this manuscript and, unlike my last three agents, they will sell this novel about a groundbreaking civil rights lawsuit, I’m moving on to the next step. In the Name of Mississippi is contemporary fiction,...

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