Tag Archives: literary works

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

Finding Yourself w/Author Erella

“The value of identity of course is that so often with it comes purpose.”

-Richard Grant

One of the first steps in achieving success is productive self-discovery. On your road to ultimate prosperity, expect your will to be tested. If you aren’t strong in your morals and character, you won’t get far in any capacity. Sadly many people, especially in my generation, are walking around lost and without purpose. The lack of individuals becoming one with themselves is a major problem in society today.

Our chase for instant fame and gratification becomes a thorn in our side as time wears on. Many people are too quick to sell their souls for false prosperity. It takes true courage to be your own authentic self. Do you! However, how are you going to “do you” if you don’t know what you do? What makes you laugh? What makes you cry? What are your strength and weaknesses? Proper self-evaluation is the first step in unlocking the essence of what makes you unique.

Isn’t it about time that we have literature that documents this turbulent journey? Well, I’ve created such a novel in The Diary Of Aaliyah Anderson. Author Erella also crafted such a story in her novel The Flip Artist. Recently, I sat down to talk with her about it.


Randall: Was there a real life motivation behind your first fiction novel The Flip Artist?

Erella: Absolutely! The real life motivation behind The Flip Artist was a personal experience I had with being pursued by an aggressive stud when I lived in New York City. It was then that I became “aware” of the world of AG’s, that is, aggressive studs  and the preponderanceThe Flip Artist of lesbian relationships in our community.

Randall: Your character Dream is made out to be totally lost in the novel. What’s  the meaning behind a character like her?

 Erella: Dream is complicated. She is bi-racial, her parents are Irish Jamaican,  and an African descended Maroon. They are staunchly Catholic, while still  others practice Rastafarianism, and other religions. They are dysfunctional.  There is alcoholism, drug addiction, domestic violence, illegal activities and  cultural taboos being broken in her family. To top that off, she is an emerging  adult who is just beginning to recognize her attraction to females and is  confused about coming out and its implications for her relationship with her  family.  Dream represents young women who are grappling with their  sexuality and gender while confronting the disapproval of family, community  and culture.

Randall: What do you think is the main reason behind women converting to  lesbianism?

 Erella: One of the things that Dream discovers is that she is a twin. In the  second part of the trilogy, it is revealed that something happened to him.  Without giving away the plot, I will say that we are introduced to the age-old  question of nature versus nurture as a dichotomy with her gender and  sexuality. In addition to this, I believe that patriarchy, sexist oppression and  women’s rejection of stereotypical, restrictive gender roles has contributed to  the increasing number of women who are coming out and accepting or even  experimenting with same-sex relationships.

Randall: What other projects do you have coming up?

 Erella: As I indicated above, The Flip Artist is a trilogy so I am working on part 2 and part 3. I also have a fiction novella due out shortly entitled The Sick Bed – El Lecho de Enfermo. Finally, I am also doing research for a novel set in London in the early 1930’s.

Randall: By the time this article is published, it will be read by many young people. What is your message to them?

Erella: I would like to encourage young people to not be afraid to question and challenge the status quo. There is no cookie-cutter mold for everyone. It is okay to explore your identity. We all don’t learn who we are immediately. Sometimes it takes time to discover who you really are, what you want to become and what your personal beliefs are. So learn yourself, accept and be comfortable with your sexuality, gender, race, ethnicity, culture and religious beliefs, even if they are not the same as everyone else’s. “Know thyself and to thine own self be true.”

Randall: Where can we find you?

Erella: You can find me on Facebook at Erella Still Dreamin, on Twitter @saphiralatina, on Instagram as Erella711 and you can email me at Erella711@yahoo.com or saphiralatrina@google.com.  Thank you for your interest and support.



The cover to my novel, “The Diary of Aaliyah Anderson”. It’s coming in October!




Read A Free Preview: http://www.wattpad.com/story/6314747-the-diary-of-aaliyah-anderson

Preorder Now: http://www.amazon.com/Diary-Aaliyah-Anderson-Randall-Barnes/dp/0988762196/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1404822785&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Diary+Of+Aaliyah+Anderson




Do you have any questions, comments or concerns? Was I right or wrong on this issue? I would love to hear from you! Contact me directly at:

Email: thediaryofaaliyahanderson@gmail.com

Kik: @AuthorRandallB

Ask.Fm: @YoungandGiftedBooks

Twitter: @AuthorRandallB

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/randall.barnes.501