So, like, not Hooters???

GUEST: I need you to recommend some upscale bars near Grand Central that will be good to take business colleagues.
CONCIERGE: A great place for that will be The Campbell Apartment. It’s…
GUEST: Ok. Will it be upscale?
CONCIERGE: Yes. It used to be a private residence and now it…
GUEST: Is it a bar?
CONCIERGE: Yes. And it’s attached to…
GUEST: Will it be good for business colleagues?
CONCIERGE: Sir, did you ask for an upscale bar near Grand Central that’s good to take business colleagues?
CONCIERGE: Then I’m probably talking about an upscale bar near Grand Central that’s good to take business colleagues.

Color in AW(hite)Place by Vanessa Mártir

I’m sitting here thinking about AWP 2015 in Minneapolis. I could write about the magic that I experienced the first day. How I ran up on Roxane Gay as she was sitting at the PANK table in the book fair. I was at the VONA table when I saw her down the aisle. My eyes widened and I said, “Oh shit, Roxane Gay!” VONA fam followed, “like the Pied Piper” my VONA sis Tanuja said later. Roxane was talking to a young man, about what I don’t know. We waited. When the young man walked away, I said, “I’m sorry for rolling up on you like that.” She smirked and shook her head, “Nah, I love that.” I said, “Hi, I’m Vanessa, I met you in Brooklyn a while back.” She looked at me and smiled this mischievous smile, “Oh, I know who you are—Vanessa Mártir.” She said my last name correctly in this bad ass sass that made me giggle and my knees became jelly. Don’t lose your shit, V. Play it off. Play it off. She said she loved my posts on Facebook and “your daughter’s great. Tell her I said hi.” (At a reading at Book Forum in Brooklyn, Vasialys asked Roxane, “What advice would you give a ten year old writer?” My baby girl has an effortless way of making people remember her.) When I walked away, I was giddy. “Oh shit, Roxane Gay recognized me. Oh shit! Oh shit! Oh shit!” I was like a little kid, all fan girl crazy and swooning. I won’t front, this is hands down one of the highlights of my AWP experience.

I could tell you about the hilarity that ensued in the materials distribution section of the AWP registration during my four hours of volunteer time. The old man who made me giggle when he said, “Is that for me?” when I passed him the AWP canvas bag, like I was handing him the world’s most beautiful flower. “Yes, I was waiting to give this just to you,” I said with a wink. His face lit up and he clasped my hands and said, “Oh, bless your heart, dear. Bless your heart.” He walked away with the biggest smile I’ve seen in a while. I was happy to make someone’s day.

I could tell you about how after a really hard second day, the universe gifted me good company, good drink and a pool table. My I-am-the-greatest-Muhammad-Ali-skills came out in full bloom as I proceeded to spank every single person I played, including the editor of a crème de la crème poetry press. He kept racking up. He wouldn’t give up. I spanked him four times while we talked about how pool is a metaphor for writing. I learned that he too has a daughter (she’s fifteen), and he too is navigating life as a single parent, and he too does not have an MFA, while all around us were people with MFAs. (Thank you universe for the reminder that I don’t need one!) After leaving him with skittles on the table for the fourth time, he gave up and I left because “I think my job is done here,” I said, laughing.

I could tell you about so much but my mind goes to that black body on the floor just outside the men’s bathroom, one sneaker just inches from his face.

 I saw at least a dozen people step over that body to enter the bathroom.

 I saw even more people walk right by. 

And not one of them, in a conference attended by 12,000, thought to call security.

I didn’t understand what I was seeing at first. I’d just come out of a panel on writing about violence where Roger Reeves said, “Violence is the American version of love.” (I can’t get that fuckin’ line out of my head.) So much sage shit was said at that panel, so much rattled me and made me choke up and cry, that I had to go outside and feel the air, the blue sky over me. It happened when I walked back in. I was still raw.

I was walking to the main entrance of the book fair, right by registration where everyone who attended, all 12,000, had to go to get their name-tag and AWP bag.

I first saw his hand. Then I saw his sneaker, just inches from his face, slack and waxen, his mouth slightly open. Then I saw the people stepping over him to get into the bathroom. I looked around. The scene was surreal. No one’s helping this guy?

I walked toward the fair, searching for security, because to be completely honest, I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t understand what I’d just seen. White men stepping over this man’s body to enter or leave that fucking bathroom. And, yes, they were all white. It was hard not to notice that shit.

I told the first security officer I saw. He too was black. He looked at me, startled. Shocked. “There’s a man outside the bathroom on the floor?” he asked with disbelief.

“Yes, and people are just stepping over his body.”

A white man who was walking by interrupted, “Yeah, he looks high as a kite. It has to be heroin. He defecated on himself and all over the bathroom. It’s disgusting.” Then he walked off before I had a chance to react.

The security officer walked a little ways with me so I could point to the man’s body, still on the ground, people still stepping over his body. People were milling around the convention center, talking and looking at the AWP brochure with its list of hundreds of panels and readings. No one was paying attention to that body. The security officer grabbed his walkie talkie and spoke into it. He looked at me and said, “Thank you.” I walked into the book fair. I was trembling.

When I got to the VONA table, my safe landing place, I was visibly shaken. My sister friends Nivea and Melissa asked, “Are you okay?” “No,” I responded. I told them what I’d just witnessed. “Thank God you were there to help, V. You did the right thing,” Nivea said. I knew she was right but I didn’t feel any better. I had to go check on the man.

I leaned on a column about fifteen feet away and watched as paramedics treated the man. They all had various color gloves on, pale purple and yellow. I winced at the idea of them not touching him with their bare hands. I get that they had to put those gloves on for safety reasons, but the image of someone putting on gloves before they touch you is still a painful one.

The man was now upright, leaning against the wall. A paramedic swabbed his fingers with what looked like an alcohol pad then he went to his bag and took something out and put it to the man’s fingers. I remembered seeing my brother do that, using a needle to check his blood sugar. What had been labeled a heroin-induced daze appears to actually have been a diabetic attack.

I wonder if someone would have helped that man sooner if he’d been white. I wonder if he’d have been assumed a drug addict. I wonder many things, like how many times people stepped over my brother’s body…

I thought of that line that has stayed with me since I read that essay some time last year: “If you know someone who’s using or has used, you should know that this isn’t as simple as them making bad decisions. They’re running from something that, to them, seems a whole lot scarier than a needle.”


There was a time when I refused to believe that race was such a pervasive issue. I’d cringe when people cried “racism.” I’ve been known to say, “Not everything comes down to race, dammit.” I’m not that naive anymore.

The past few days at AWP in Minneapolis, I was reminded of the pervasiveness of the issue. When I saw that black body being stepped over on Friday, my second day there; then later that night, when walking by two white writers at the Hilton bar, I overheard the man say to the woman, in an exasperated tone: “She said there isn’t enough diversity. What the fuck does that mean?” The woman responded, “I know, right. I mean, I’m there.” When they saw me passing, they turned their conversation to whispers.

At Saturday night’s VONA reading, David Mura said he’d gone to a reading of thirty poets the night before, 28 of those poets were white and not one of them mentioned Ferguson or Michael Brown or the most recent incident in North Charleston, S.C. “That’s a political statement,” Mura said. David said that it’s at AWP that he’s often reminded of how segregated this country is.

As I reflected on my AWP experience and everything I saw and felt, my mind went to this message I received some time ago. On January 25th at 7:10pm, a man who identified himself as the person who runs a journal of books sent a message to my Facebook in response to my Huffington Post essay“Writers of Color Need Something More.” 

He wrote: I read your most recent post on HuffPo and agree 99%. That Toni Morrison’s forthcoming novel is easily the most anticipated work of literary fiction in 2015 says something. But then of course a bunch of really white people in Scandinavia gave her the Nobel Prize.The above aside, I am in total agreement that we do not see adequate representation of literature reflecting the various worlds of people of color gain the recognition due… [My journal] aside from other missions, such as shining a light on smaller presses that don’t get enough attention has long wished to add to our panel reviewers who will focus on the rich body of literature by people of color… We need more voices such as yours, representing the broad arc of diversity in our country and in the world.

I didn’t get the message until weeks later. The first thing that struck me was the snark and how he underhandedly tried to negate everything I said in that essay by mentioning Toni Morrison, because, you know, one black writer is evidence of diversity. One black writer is supposed to pay for the sins of hundreds of years of whitewashing in American literature. Hers is the name they pull out of their asses every time the conversation of invisibility comes up. I told him as much in what I now see as a far too kind response. “I’d like to consider your offer but I’m not sure you starting your email with snark is the way to approach someone you’d like to write for your site.” He didn’t respond.


I confess: I searched out fellow writers of color at AWP. I gave them extra love when they came over to receive their AWP bag during the hours I was volunteering. I tried to make eye contact when I saw one walk by. I smiled and gave a head nod. I hoped they read my “we in this together” face. When someone walked over to the VONA table, I sold the program with gusto. I am a walking VONA billboard. I’m proud of that shit. Why? Because this shit is hard. Because being in these predominantly white places is hard. Because we get reminders of it when we see a black body stepped over. When we go to readings and not one of the 28 white writers mentions the killing of black men and women by police that has been all over the headlines for the past year. Because silence is a political act.

Vanessa Mártir is a NYC based mama, writer and educator. She is currently completing her memoir, Relentless, and chronicles the journey in her blog Vanessa’s essays have been widely published including in Portland Review, Poets & Writers Magazine, Kweli, Huffington Post and the VONA/Voices Anthology, Dismantle, among others.

Custom illustration by Lisa Hsia

*This essay was republished and re-edited from Vanessa’s personal blog listed above.

Faye Bi: How I Got into Publishing

Publicist at Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing and Saga Press

When I was looking for my first job, I’d ask as many people as I could how they got their start in publishing. I would collect stories from internship mentors, interviewers, people I met at networking events, whoever, in exchange for bright-eyed enthusiasm. As I found out, there’s no single path to publishing, but rather a network full of detours, twists, and forks that make up our small (yes, small) publishing village.

On the surface, my path seems straightforward. My junior year at Columbia, I joined my college’s alumna mentor program as I began pondering life after college. Since I specified that I was interested in publishing, I was matched with the excellent and wonderful Juliet Grames, now associate publisher of Soho Press. Juliet was invaluable to me. At her advice, I did three internships before graduating in 2010: at an agency, in children’s editorial, and in adult trade marketing. She introduced me to other people in publishing, and I lived in her spare bedroom in Harlem while job-hunting in New York.

After graduation, I laid out my plan for intense networking: interviews both informational and professional, panels, coffee dates, lunch dates, Kid Lit Drink Nights and KGB Fantastic Fiction Nights, basically anywhere I knew publishing people would be. Five months later, I began working as a publicity assistant at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. 

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Go For It: The Smart Girl’s Guide to Networking

With this month’s Work It theme in mind, today I am sharing some more career advice for all my young professionals out there. Whether you’re just starting off in your career or you’re looking to make that next big leap, one of the best skills a young woman can learn is how to network. The word networking often gets a bad wrap, but at its core networking is all about building relationships within your industry. So much of advancing in your career has to do with having colleagues who inspire you and mentors who take an interest in your work. Here are a few networking tips to keep in mind…

Be Your Own Brand

Regardless of industry, it always pays to be good at branding yourself. Think about the key traits that represent your personal brand—both aesthetically and your core values. Know what makes you tick, and how your work stands out from everyone else’s. Once you’ve identified your personal brand for yourself, you will be able to talk about it confidently with others.

Carry A Card

Some people might tell you that business cards are irrelevant in today’s digital age. But I beg to differ. Having beautiful, well-designed business cards are one more way to brand yourself that you can instantly show off to anyone you meet. (Of course you should also have a beautiful, well designed website to go with them.) Invest in something special—think thick cardstock and letterpress—to ensure that your card won’t get thrown away at the end of the day. And keep your cards on hand at all time because you never know who you’ll end up meeting, even in a social situation.

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Networking: Not What You Think (Plus, My April Conference Adventures, Part 1)


It just sounds like such a cold word, doesn’t it? It sounds impersonal and really business-like, right?

Well, I’m here to help!

One of the biggest parts of being a writer is communicating with other people in the writing community. This includes editors, publishers, agents, and even other writers.

You might not think you need to talk to what you may perceive as your competition, but that’s not really how it is at all.

They aren’t going to pass you up so they can publish this other person instead. They were going to publish that person whether you submitted or not.

Other writers are not your competition. They are your allies.

Like most professions, writing is often about who you know. If you befriend other authors, they can help you out in a lot of ways.

Maybe they can help you edit your work.

Maybe they can recommend a publisher or an editor or an agent to you.

Maybe they’ll tell a publisher that they think your work would be a good fit for them.

The possibilities are limitless!

Writers are, more often than not, very supportive of each other. They’re not out to screw other writers over.

If you make a friend at a writing conference or if you make a decent connection with someone in the writing industry, then you’ve just done some networking.

I went to the SOKY Writers Conference (Friday) and the SOKY Book Fest (Saturday) this past week, and WOW. I was really blown away. I’m lucky enough to live in an area that has these conferences and especially that these conferences are 100% free.

A bunch of writers are invited to come and talk about their books (this also applies to the Children’s Day authors that come the same day as the Writers Conference) and about writing.

The Writers Conference was a series of panels with writing advice, workshops, and Q & A. It felt very personal and supportive.

The Book Fest a different series of panels with a wider variety of authors talking about specific genres and answering questions. They’re bigger and more likely to contain famous people (although a fair deal of famous people had panels at the Writers Conference too), so they’re a bit more like you’d expect a conference to be like.

So I’m going to talk about the Writers Conference a bit in this post so I can emphasize how important networking is. I’ll slowly make my way through the events of the past couple of days. Trust me–if you are a writer, these are things you’ll want to read about. Most of you would be technically considered amateurs, so this will help you get some insight into what it means to be part of the writing community. So just keep an eye on this blog while I type up more posts about the conferences, because there’s just no room for all of it in one place!

In any case, almost every time I spoke to someone new, they asked me what I write, right off the bat. I made four friends just from talking to people I was sitting near–and most of them talked to me first!

I also ran into my thesis director, Dr. Tom C. Hunley–he’s a poet, and you should definitely check out his work. His Poetry Gymnasium will absolutely blow your mind if you want to work on your poetry-writing, as well as another professor at my college (Dr. Molly McCaffrey, who not only held her own panel about the basics of publishing, but so did her husband, another professor at my college (Dr. David J. Bell), about writing in the genre of fantasy. These panels were unfortunately at the same time. :( I went for the publishing one, and I am so glad that I did!

I also was fortunate enough to run into someone I haven’t seen in forever, and we are Facebook friends now!

But here comes my big shout-out about how awesome networking is. Again, networking isn’t just saying hi to someone and getting their business card. It’s about having a conversation, even if it’s a short one, and making some kind of connection with another human being who loves reading and writing just as much as you do.

There were only four time slots for panels at the Writers Conference, so I had to pick and choose very carefully which ones I would attend. The final panel of the day was a critique workshop for the first page of your story. A bunch of people (including me) anonymously gave Courtney C. Stevens and Kristin O’Donnell Tubb their first page so they could read it out loud and then critique it.

First of all, Kristin has an amazing reading voice! Seriously, she should do audio books.

After writing some questions on the white board, they got started pretty quickly. They would read the page out loud and then point out what they liked and what they thought the author should work on. It worked pretty well–tough, but fair.

I was kind of intimidated, but when I went to go get my copy back (they didn’t get to it in the panel since so many had been brought in), I saw that they were going to stick around and talk to people.

I stood in line and wrote down some contact information that Ms. Tubb announced for us to follow her on. And as I got closer to the table, the more nervous I got.

We talked briefly, and then I told her that I would be honored if she would even just look at my first paragraph. She said she would! Yay! But I was still a bit nervous.

She began to read it to herself, and as she went, she stopped a couple of times to re-read a line and say to herself that she liked it. Honestly, even hearing her saying it quietly to herself was just kind of surreal. Published author reading my writing out loud? Definitely was geeking out!!

She gave me some wonderful comments and pointed out this one word that creates some confusion–I’ve been trying to find a good word there for ages, so I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one that thinks it’s not quite right. I’m still working on finding a replacement word, but I’m sure it will come to me.

I was a bit scared because I was showing her my baby, my project that I started working on with my boyfriend in 2010 and have been trying to get published for years.

And she told me more than once that it was “really great.” Holy crap!! She said it was “really smooth” and that she could tell that I had been working on it for a while. We talked for several minutes about it, and I had a hard time not gushing! To make things even more awesome, she asked me for my pitch, which I haven’t polished. D: I managed my way through it, and we talked for a few more minutes about agents and publishing before we returned to social media.

I told her about this blog, and she wrote the name of it down. I followed her as soon as I got home last night, and she followed me back. :) She hasn’t posted much on here yet, but I’m excited to interact with her on here, so follow her (ktubb) and check out her website (which I linked earlier).

As soon as I left to let her talk to other people, I immediately called my boyfriend and geeked out. :P

Anyway, so I came across her table at the Book Fest yesterday when she was sitting and selling books, and I was pleased to see that she remembered me. :) (I always worry that I’m not that memorable. :S) I introduced her to my boyfriend (my idea guy), and we were able to chit-chat for a bit and she signed a book for me before I moved out of the way to let her sell and sign more books. :)

(Sorry if some of the detail here was a bit excessive–I’m still really excited, and I realized after I wrote that part that I technically could cut some stuff out, but I decided to leave it in since I would then be able to look back at it and smile. :D Sorry, Ms. Tubb, if you think I’m being creepy, and also sorry because I don’t know how to refer to you because until Friday, I’ve never really felt like much of an adult, so I still don’t know how to refer to other people who are also considered adults. Also, I wrote most of this when I was alert and very awake, but let me just say that it is 3 A.M. as I’m writing this little block of text, and I have been up since 9 A.M., outside of the nap I took from 4-ish to 5-ish.)

Katherine Howe’s table was directly next to Kristin’s, so I was able to talk to her again (you’ll be seeing what I mean by that once I talk about her panel in another post) and get another signed book.

I was really glad to run into these two in particular because we’d had a chance to speak at the Writers Conference, and something for all of you to keep in mind is that it is really great to follow up with people. It’s not only professionally good, but it’s also great for the author/editor/etc. to see that you’re sincere and really interested in their work, and you also get another chance to talk with someone you admire. And being able to say you’ve talked to famous authors is always good for writer cred. :P

But honestly, it’s important to make friends in the writing community, because you get way more opportunities that way. They can let you know what’s up, and they totally understand what you mean when you’re stuck on that one scene you just don’t know how to write. Having a good support system is so important! Knowing that someone believes in you and wants you to do well? That’s one of the best feelings ever.

Networking isn’t about “Okay, I said hi to this author, so now I’m in the industry.” It’s about making connections with other writers, human to human. You may never see them again. But maybe they’ll remember you and send an agent or editor your way. Making an impression can make a lot of a difference.

I didn’t realize how important networking with people in physical space is until recently, but I feel like I’m getting a better understanding of it now. Online writing communities are great, but being able to talk to published authors about their work and how they got to where they are is just a wonderful experience. I feel like I have learned something from every person that I’ve spoken to these past two days.

Writing does not occur in a void. Publishing does not occur in a void. You are not in a vacuum where everyone understands you. You are not in some happy, perfect world where everyone can instantly see your talent.

You will get rejected by someone at some point in your life. Having people to encourage you and show you the way is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

I really feel like I could say so much more on this topic!! I could talk forever about it–really–but this post is getting quite lengthy. I feel like I’ve covered a lot of the major points that I think are really important, but if I’ve missed something or you have a question or anything you want to talk about, just let me know! I’ll be answering messages and such on here soon, so while all of this is fresh in my mind is a great time to ask about networking and conferences.

I’ll definitely be posting more about all the amazing stuff I learned the past two days, so keep your eye on my blog as I continue to detail the stuff I think you guys should read about.

The writing industry is a big, scary place. Why should you go into it alone?

Other conference adventures you should look forward to reading about on my blog in the future:

-Allie Pleiter (productivity)
-Molly McCaffrey (publishing basics)
-Katherine Howe (genre conventions)
-Fantasy and Dystopian panel (Book Fest)

-The big book sale room (with my graduate adviser, panelists, and some authors I hadn’t heard of until recently)
-Making friends at the Writers Conference

I’d love for you to join my team call that can help change your life! 202-352-3640 #itworks #itworksglobal #crazywrapthing #business #entrepreneur #networking #businesspartner #residualincome #opportunity #salon #salons #barber #barbers #spa #spas #mua #muas #stylist #stylists #stayathomemom #stayathomemoms #stayathomedad #stayathomedads #changelives #changeyourlife #debtfree #freedom

Tionna Smalls Brings #BossyTuesdays to DC [EVENT]

Serial entrepreneur and TV Personality @TionnaSmalls Brings #BossyTuesdays to DC [EVENT]

You may have seen her on MTV’s “Girl, Get Your Mind Right” and VH-1’s “What Chilli Wants” but she is also a very successful Entrepreneur and Author. Meet Tionna Smalls, Brooklyn bred and the individual who is responsible for creating Bossy Tuesday’s. The Bossy Tuesday’s brand started in NYC in 2014 and for 2015 it will make its debut in the Nation’s Capital. Tionna Smalls, in collaboration with C…

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10 Advantages That Prove Professional Networking Can Be Good For Your Business

10 Advantages That Prove Professional Networking Can Be Good For Your Business

Recently we here at UrbanWorkSpace held our first networking event. The event went well and we plan on doing more in the future. We decided to host a networking event for a variety of reasons.

The main reason we decided to host the event was to give our tenants a platform to communicate with each other and promote their respective businesses.

More and more businesses are hosting networking events…

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When networking, I will introduce myself differently depending on the day.

My resume includes credits for directing, stage managing, and acting. I do all three fairly regularly – directing is what I consider my passion and ultimate career goal; stage managing is something I am skilled at and generally enjoy doing to bring a production up; and acting is something I enjoy and I consider it a form of training for my directing skills as well.

So depending on what I think I want to be known as at a given time, I will introduce myself differently. Saying, “Hi my name is Bree, I direct and I stage manage and I act” is a mouthful.

When other people introduce me, they will typically do so saying that I do whatever thing I last did with them on a project. In most cases that is stage managing, because that’s the bulk of my recent credits in Houston.

Even though the three things seem disparate, I think that doing all three has made me stronger in each capacity. I feel that acting is crucial to being a good director (you have to know what goes on in the actor’s mind and body to be able to communicate with them), and being a stage manager has taught me how to communicate with a production team effectively and to respect their creative input. And I really do enjoy and value acting on its own, as well. We all come to where we are and where we want to go through different paths, and I really value all the work I’ve ever done. 

But I do want to get to the point where I only have to introduce myself as a director. I’m working on it.