Tag Archives: Literary talent

Welcome Our New Staff Blogger!




Penelope Christian is a freelance writer and poet with a knack for fiction literature. This up-and-coming novelist resides in Dallas, Texas, where she is set to publish her debut novel, Coffee and Cream. With degrees in Marketing and English from University of Maryland, Christian takes an entrepreneurial approach to her craft. Christian has over 18 years of writing experience and a special interest in short stories and novels (she penned her first novel at only 16 years old). Christian often credits nature, random happenings at the airport, and her mutually quirky friends as creative muses. As an active member of two national organizations — Books & Writers and Authors & Writing Professionals — Christian offers peer-to-peer advice and critique to fellow writers. Streetz Magazine has published several of Christian’s intimate interviews with contemporary artists, shedding light on the meaning of their music and the story of their success. When Christian finds time to close her laptop, she enjoys working out, cooking, and playing in her natural hair.

Ratchet INK

Disclaimer: By no means am I criticizing  for the sake of it or calling out anyone in particular. These are just my observations and opinion.  However, if you are offended by my views don’t take it personal because it is not my intent to bash.

On my Facebook feed this week, the theme seemed to be the presence of trifling titles and tasteless covers in Urban Lit.  I couldn’t turn around without seeing a status about some low budget and base title or a cover that leaves nothing to the imagination and devalues the words between the front and back covers.  In Urban Lit, it is nothing to see the grit and rawness of the streets, because anything less would  water things down a bit .

However, when there’s a “bitchapalooza”  (ie hoards of books with “bitch” in the title after it’s been done before), covers with images that would put porn mags to shame festering on the wall of African-American and Urban lit like  kudzu, it’s beginning to become a problem with  some readers. I have heard thoughts like this:

It (The book) might be a good story but I’m at the point where I can’t look beyond the title anymore”

“Using profanity in their titles and pretty much X Rated pictures on the covers. Deal Breaker. Turn Off.”

“Just because a story is based on ghetto reality, the title doesn’t have to be ghetto. With some books, you can tell it’s ghetto as hell just by the title. It’ shouldn’t be that way.”

The irony in all of this is the complaints by some about Urban Lit not being taken seriously. The titles and the covers  are only two  of the reasons why the genre is being vilified.  I get that the author wants to appeal to their demographic  and wants to sell, but I really believe that it could be done without the  outrageous titles, covers and fonts. I go as far as to say that watching what you put on your covers should be mandatory. Before you look at me with a skeptical eye, picture this:

A reader strolls into Barnes And Noble, really thristy for a great novel. He or She searches endlessly for that little section in the store reserved for black authors in the corner. The store lumped them all together because if we “look” alike, we may “write” alike, but I digress. The eager reader sees  tastefully done covers on the shelves such as   Treasure Blue’s ” Fly Betty”, Terry McMillan’s “Who Asked You?“,   Jason Mott’s “The Returned” or even  Zane’s “Afterburn” or  Walter Mosley’s “Debbie Doesn’t Do It Anymore”  next to your “ Hand Me Down Bitches part 3″, “Shame On You, Bitch 2” or “My Baby  Daddy May Be Shit But He’s My Lump of Shit and I love Him“. What would they think? I’m willing to bet you that  they’ll either scrunch their face and frown  and frown before moving on and away. If it isn’t that,  they’d probably  pickup the book  and laugh at the title before putting it back on the shelf  and going on facebook to tell  their friends about the tomfoolery  that they found in the store. Either way,  you lost a customer and a potential fan with those covers and titles.            ratchet

For some, maybe your aim isn’t Barnes and Noble. However, the same principle applies on Amazon. The covers and titles will still turn them off.

If some of these readers see it, you better believe that some authors are paying attention as well. I believe that while a huge percentage of authors are serious in their titles, there are some that wrote a story and came up with such a crazy title and cover just to see if it would sale or get a bunch of reviews.  Sadly, they get the pop of attention  and the reviews to go with it sometimes.  Even if an author get the reviews and the acclaim from that experiment or even those who are serious about the titles, the billion dollar question of the hour is “will they keep the readers coming back in the long run?”

Readers! I would love to hear more from you. What kind of titles and covers appeal to you generally?

Authors! I’m not leaving you out either.  Why the graphic titles and covers in the first place? Is it preference or is it profit that’s driving you to put them out there or both?

About the author


Jannelle is the author of “Wild Cards”  “Thirst”, “Thirst II”, and “Love’s Hangover” and is  a fresh voice in African-American fiction, spending time on Amazon’s Hot New Releases list for two of her four titles. She’s also a freelance journalist.  Her DC Bookdiva Debut, “Uppity” will be released in November, and is available for  pre order now.

Twitter: @jannelle12
Instagram: writerdiva

Stop Being Afraid Of Success!

“It’s a Poor Frog Who Doesn’t Praise His Own Pond”

R.C. Moore


Last night while scrolling my facebook timeline, I noticed a Madame Noire article titled   “Impostor Syndrome” Afflicts Even The Most Successful Among Us and I just had to click on that link.
The article opened with the author writing about how people  who are on top of their game and who have hit their zone give off the illusion of confidence to most of us, yet struggle with moments of doubt and second guessing, therefore bringing on the “impostor syndrome”  (Damn, folks are always trying to diagnose any and everything these days)  label. It mentioned how Facebook Chief Operating Officer (COO) Sheryl Sandeberg struggles with thoughts of her accomplishments being unwarranted despite being a Jill of All Trades and a Mistress of quite a few of them. However, that part of the article didn’t stick out to me. It was the following paragraph that moved me and inspired me to pen my first post here on “Straight No Chaser”  on this topic:

Many minorities experience the “impostor syndrome”, convinced that their achievements are only due to Affirmative Action. Many people who deal with this syndrome actually turn out to be pretty good employees but , just won’t take credit for it.”

*sighs and sucks teeth*

When will “we” stop believing and drowning in our inferiority complexes?

If you ask me, RIGHT NOW is the perfect time to stop it.

I hate to sound naive, but I’m keeping it one-hundred here! If you as an author, musician, athlete, etc put in the work…the sacrifice… the hustle and effort to make your dream a reality, then there’s no ‘impostor syndrome’ because you are not an impostor. You did that, Okay! Save that ” awe shucks” “lucky me”  shtick and OWN YOUR SUCCESS! EMBRACE YOUR SUCCESS!

Turn that “Why me” into a “Why not me”!  You’ve worked, sacrificed and worked and sacrificed some more to realize your vision and mission. You’ve earned the right to take credit for your success. Only you and your circle know how much you struggled.. .how much you have endured. You don’t have to answer to any man or woman who DARES to question your success and its legitimacy!

When I  think about that quote in the article, I wondered ” Are most people afraid to embrace success because they fear that they wont be true to themselves and the people around them?” If that’s the case, that shouldn’t be an issue. Catch this: Success and money do not change who you are at the core. It only amplifies who you are. Don’t worry about it because it will eventually come out of you in your actions anyway.

Am I advocating flossing your success and walking around like you’re the only thing that’s poppin’? Absolutely not! What I’m saying is embrace what you have accomplished without guilt and without shame and complexes.

When you take this route, you miss out on so much. You miss out on opportunity. If not the opportunity, you don’t really enjoy the ride. You don’t enjoy the moment because you convinced yourself that you don’t deserve it. It’s not fair to you, and it puts all of your efforts and drive in vain.

Think of it this way: You and about four other people completed a project and it was hit at the office. You know you did the brunt of the work but one wanted to take credit for it. You wouldn’t let that slide  in that situation, so don’t let it side anywhere else.  Owning your success will lead to more confidence and eventually more opportunities to grow. Don’t throw that away on a syndrome or a complex!

About the author


Jannelle is the author of “Wild Cards”, “Thirst” , “Thirst II” and “Love’s Hangover”, and is a fresh face in African -American  Contemporary fiction, spending time on Amazon’s Hot New Releases list in African-American women’s fiction for two of her four titles.  She’s also a freelance journalist, who also credits her father suggesting her to write books. The proud North Carolina A&T alum  lives in the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina.


Twitter:  @Jannelle12

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jannelle1

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/author/jannelle1