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The Little Press That Could

You could say that Liza Elliott thinks like a rock star.

“Just like a musician can set up their own production company to write, produce, and sell their music, I thought, why not authors?” Elliott says. So six years ago she started Red Camel Press, a small publishing house based here Birmingham.

Now she’s following in the footsteps of musicians who collaborate with other artists. Elliott has partnered with Kaneshia Sims Hudson, a public relations and marketing professional and owner of Red PaSH Magazine and The Southern PaSH Company. Hudson helped with the marketing of some of Red Camel Press early publications including Elliott’s novel 30-A Supper Club,  the accompanying cookbook, 30-A Supper Club: The Cookbook, and the art book John Lonergan: Painter. With this new partnership Hudson is now co-owner of Red Camel Press. Elliott and Hudson are eager to work with emerging writers with unique stories, especially those related to science, and are even interested in publishing graphic novels.

The latest work published by Red Camel Press is Everything is Known, a sci-fi, futuristic novel, highlighting the journey of a strong, fiery female protagonist fighting against oppression. The novel is due to hit shelves this fall.

For my latest piece for B-Metro magazine, I had a chat with Elliott and Hudson about their partnership and about the future of Red Camel Press. You can read the interview at B-Metro.com.

Poet Ashley M. Jones discusses her debut book “Magic City Gospel”

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Photo by Jennifer Jones

When Birmingham-bred poet Ashley Jones was in graduate school at Florida International University, she made a promise to herself: She promised herself that she would produce a book of poetry by the end of her MFA program. Jones kept her promise and on Friday, December 2 she will host a reading, book signing and early release party for her debut collection Magic City Gospel. The poems in the collection, which officially releases in January, are largely inspired by Jones’ experiences as a black girl and woman in the South. This special early release event will be held at 7 p.m., Friday, December 2 at the Alabama School of Fine Arts in downtown Birmingham.

Jones burst onto the poetry scene last year winning the prestigious Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award (a national literary award only given to six women each year that includes a grant for $30,000). Last year Jones also returned to Birmingham to teach creative writing at the Alabama School of Fine Arts (ASFA) and this year began teaching at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) as well.

But Jones believes poetry should be in the community and not just the classroom. She recently helped produce the 100,000 Poets for Change in Birmingham event to raise money for the Smithfield-Dynamite Hill Community Land Trust, which works to keep the Smithfield Community in the ownership of its residents and fight against gentrification. She’s also coordinator of The Nitty Gritty Magic City Reading Series. The brainchild of Alabama poets Katherine Webb and Daniel DeVaughn, NGMC seeks to create a unique literary space in Birmingham where people can tell their stories through their art.

In a candid conversation, Jones discusses Magic City Gospel, her writing practice, writing as a form of activism and more.

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Fat Girl Power

Whether you woke up this morning elated or devastated by last night’s election results, here is one thing I want us all to celebrate: See Jane Write member Jennifer Dome King has just released her first book, a book that grew from her blog. And I hope her story will inspire you to soon write a book of your own.

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5 Things I Read This Week

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Some nights when I can’t sleep I do the very thing you should not do when you can’t sleep: I reach for my phone. I know that staring at the light from the screen is going to keep me awake till daybreak but I do it anyway. I grab my phone and binge read blog posts.

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