The Muse and the Marketplace 2021 is almost here! This year’s conference is taking the form of a virtual enhanced writing residency (taking place Wednesday, April 21st – Sunday, April 25th) with new Premium Workshops and the Manuscript Mart (taking place Wednesday, April 28th – Sunday, May 2nd).
This year’s conference theme is “Small Victories.” We all know what the “big” victories are (landing an agent, snagging a book deal, or getting a flashy award), but this year we aim to celebrate the equally important, tiny, and often unseen victories of our writing lives. In anticipation of the conference, we’ve asked Muse 2021 presenting authors to describe one small victory they’ve had as a writer that nobody knows about. Our first presenter in the series is Lisa Braxton, author of The Talking Drum.
“I sold another book for you,” Mom said when I answered the phone.
It had become part of our regular phone conversations in the weeks just after the publication of my debut novel, The Talking Drum—updates on how she persuaded a club sister, sorority sister, or deacon at the church to send me a check for the purchase of an autographed copy. Mom was my biggest champion. After I mailed off a few of those autographed copies, I began calling Mom my best sales manager.
But her calls tugged at my heart.
Mom’s voice was getting raspy and weaker as a result of surgeries and chemotherapy to treat her cancer. When the doctors told us that there was nothing more they could do for Mom, my sister and I left our respective homes in other states and moved into the bedroom with her, to give her 24-hour care. As the cancer metastasized to her brain, she wasn’t very lucid, but one day she looked at me and pointed to the bookshelf under the TV stand.
“I left something for you,” she said.
Initially, I didn’t know what she was talking about, but then remembered that weeks earlier she had me tuck a few dollars next to her copy of my book.
“The money next to The Talking Drum?” I asked.
She put on the biggest smile and said with pride, “Yes! The Talking Drum!”
Mom passed away days later. That moment is one of my biggest treasures.
Lisa Braxton is the recipient of a 2020 Outstanding Literary Award from the National Association of Black Journalists for her debut novel, The Talking Drum. The Talking Drum is about three young 1970s couples and how they’re affected when an urban redevelopment project takes over a neighborhood. The novel examines the profound impact gentrification has on communities, along with intra-racial, class, and cross-cultural tensions.
You can catch Lisa’s virtual craft discussion, “Infusing Your Fiction with Racial and Social Justice Themes Without Losing Your Reader,” via Attendify at the Muse 2021 from 10:00 am – 11:15 am on April 21st, 2021.