A Bird by Bird for the African-American market--A top-notch writer's guide filled with practical guidance, essays, and journal exercises for the African-American writer including advice from E.Lynn Harris, Charles Johnson, and Yolanda Joe.

In her introduction, Jewell Parker Rhodes writes: "Never (in four years of college or five years of graduate school) was I assigned an exercise or given a story example that included a person of color...While the educational system and the publishing world have become progressively more welcoming of African-American authors, there is still little attention to educating, supporting, and sustaining the writing process of African-American authors. Free Within Ourselves is a solid first step--it is the book I wished I had when I started out as a writer. It is meant to be a song of encouragement for African-American artisits and visionaries. Free Within Ourselves is a step-by-step introduction to fictional technique, exploring story ideas, and charting one's progress, as well as a resource guide for publishing fiction."

For the legions of people who have a novel stuck in their word processors, help is finally on the way! Free Within Ourselves is an excellent guide to all the elements necessary to crafting fiction: character development, point of view, plot, atmosphere, dialogue, diction, sentence variety, and revision. Writing techniques are taught using exercises, journaling, story examples, and analyses of famous writing fragments, as well as several complete stories (including those of James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston, and Edwidge Dandicat, among others). The book is further enhanced by inspirational advice from successful contemporary black writers (such as Bebe Moore Campbell, Rita Dove, Henry Louis Gates, John Edgar Wideman, and others), a bibliography, and a guide to workshops, journals, magazines, contests, and fellowships supportive of black arts.
Award-winning author of fiction and nonfiction Jewell Parker Rhodes is a master of her craft, under-standing how both real and imagined stories can serve as a pathway to enlightenment. Porch Stories is Rhodes's tribute to her beloved grandmother, a real account of the love she received and the lessons she learned.

Jewell Parker Rhodes was left in the care of her father and his mother when her own mother abandoned the family. Grandmother Ernestine's house in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was home to four other grandchildren as well. And while its crumbling bricks, lack of air-conditioning, and neighborhood rodents meant that life was anything but easy, the family house was filled with love. Everyone on their street knew and loved Grandmother Ernestine; men would tip their hats and children would rush up for a hug any time she was outside.

No one loved Grandmother Ernestine more than Jewell, who would pass up a movie with her cousins to sit outside on Ernestine's front stoop and listen to her stories and her words of comfort. Jewell would later move out West to live with her mother and father as they reattempted marriage. But that was a short-lived experience. Before long, she was back in the loving arms of her grandmother, whose wisdom and warmth gave all of her children the tools to overcome the ordinary and extraordinary challenges life brings. Porch Stories, described by Rhodes as "an intergenerational love song," is a loving tribute that is at once candid, courageous, and reverent -- a literary portrait of family love that readers from all walks of life can see in themselves.
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