Give Us the Vote!

Women’s National Baptist Convention

As an employee of the University of Mary Washington, I answered the campus-wide call to submit ideas to celebrate Women’s History Month. I responded hoping I would get the greenlight to produce “Give Us the Vote,” as a virtual production. Happily, it was accepted. This play was one of three vignettes written to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the passing of the 19th Amendment.

On February 28th, the cast and production crew met at the private home of Mrs. Blake. A woman of many talents, she has been wardrobe and props mistress, director and producer of past Untold Stories productions which focuses on little-known historical stories of real-life people. This time, she offered her home as our theatrical venue.

Here is a synopsis of the play: Between 1912 and 1916, Virginia suffragists petitioned the General Assembly three times to amend the state constitution to give women the right to vote.

The third time occurred on March 13, 1916, the setting of our play. Suffragists leaders: Kate Waller Barrett, Janetta Fitzhugh, Janie Porter and Adele Clark are preparing to lead members of the Equal Suffrage League of Virginia from their Richmond headquarters to the State Capitol to present their petition.

The suffrage movement had many detractors from the halls of government to the church pulpit. The women in the play are about to meet one such adversary, an uninvited guest, and one of the most outspoken and prominent opponents of women’s right to vote.

Brave women, through education and advocation, sometimes sacrificed their jobs, marriages and reputations in order to persuade the all male government to grant women the right to vote. Black women had to fight racism in general and within the national ranks of the suffragist movement whose leaders made it clear their efforts were not wanted. At the first national convention of women at Seneca Falls, New York, the only black person admitted was a man, Frederick Douglass. A host of national black women’s suffragists organizations were refused admittance. After the vote was granted to women in 1920, the white female leaders told black suffragists to march in the back of the parade and not with their individual states. Pride and a determination caused some black women to defy this directive. After all, the victory was theirs, as well. Of course, not all white women were of the same mind. One lady in particular, Adele Clark organized protection for black women at the voting polls.

My play focused on four extraordinary Virginian women, leaders in their communities, who forged ahead, despite the opposition and finally won their right to vote. The Virginia General Assembly didn’t ratify the 19th Amendment until 1952!

I hope you enjoy the play. Here is the link to the YouTube video:https://youtu.be/gdlJT7Ej3xU

Marketing as an Indie Author

The old adage, “Hindsight is 20/20,” is so right. For anyone who is considering self-publishing, it’s best to start marketing your book before it’s published. Tech savvy, I’m not. So, my learning curve is high. If Amazon is your publisher, they have a host of aids one might find helpful. I have not taken advantage of these, but do plan to do so.

Juggling everyday obligations, writing my next book and marketing the published book can be daunting. However, in order to be successful, a writer must build a platform of readers, and marketing is the gateway. One way of doing that is to start a website. I found this to be a difficult task and employed the expertise of a friend. Sales were pretty good after I launched my book. Now, after nearly a year, I need to boost my sales and marketing is the only way.

To be consistent, I’ve decided to designate certain days for certain tasks. Monday is for Marketing. I started by writing a list of marketing ideas. Each week, I will choose one or two to pursue. To increase my visibility, I’ve decided to publish more articles in my local community paper to attract more readers. Once I find out when the article will be published, I send emails to my immediate friends and family. My next step is to post it on Facebook and Twitter. This past October, I wrote an article for Front Porch, titled “Suffragists Pursue Right to Vote.” https://issuu.com/frontporchfredericksburg/docs/fpfoct2020/s/11084807 

At the end of the article is a short bio along with the name of my book and where to purchase it. This month, I was the subject in the daily newspaper in the Author’s Spotlight segment. https://fredericksburg.com/entertainment/arts/books/local-author-spotlight-malanna-carey-henderson/article_535e57d2-c7e1-5bf8-a029-dbc7d4f73aea.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=email&utm_campaign=user-share

I have received feedback from those I had contacted. A few said they will purchase my book. Another gave a short but very effective review, praising my writing skills and the books ingenuity.

There’s a website called Indibound.org which list independent bookstores. It’s also a book distributor through it’s partnership with Ingram and AddLibra. Getting my book listed with Indibound.org is one of my next marketing goals.

An excellent book on marketing a book is one by Joanna Penn, the indie writer and marketing guru, “How to Market a Book.”

Fellow indie writers good luck and if you have any marketing ideas, please share.

Reviews

“On the Wings of Freedom” by Malanna Carey Henderson, is a very informative and intriguing historical novel. It is very well written.  The characters and places in the book are written with such details you feel that you are actually there and know the people.  You will not want to put the book down.  I can not wait for her next book!” – Wanda Snyder, September 11, 2020

“On the Wings of Freedom” by Malanna Carey Henderson is not a good read, it is a great read and a must read! I read this intriguing, can’t-put-down historical novel before the COVID pandemic and social justice pandemic hit. The well-written, well-researched historical novel brings alive the horrid conditions of slavery and the heroic acts by fictional people and real people (eg Harriett Tubman) to save people and to seek justice. These actions relate today to the Black Lives Matter and Justice now movements. Only by understanding the past, can one see the great needs still unanswered today. Ms Henderson’s heroine, Carrie Bennett, captured my admiration, interest and fondness. I cared what happened to her and would love to see a sequel to this novel. Again, please read this remarkable, intriguing book! You will be enlightened, entertained, humbled. – Jane Hunsucker, Aug 6, 2020

Reviewed in the United States on August 21, 2020 “I’ve been meaning to tell you how much I enjoyed reading On the Wings of Freedom. It was very well crafted -you advanced the story in such a seamless and engaging way. WHAT an accomplishment! It left such an impression on me for several weeks. I think it would be great literature for young adults as well! It inspired me to pick up a book I’ve meant to read for years-Toni Morrison’s Beloved. – Jonna Catron

Reviewed in the United States on September 4, 2020 “Wonderful research that braided an awful time in history into romance.” – Denise Crawford

Book Review: “On the Wings of Freedom”

Here is a review by Jane Hunsucker from Goodreads that I’d like to share.

“On the Wings of Freedom” by Malanna Carey Henderson is not a good read, it is a great read and a must read! I read this intriguing, can’t-put-down historical novel before the COVID pandemic and social justice pandemic hit. The well-written, well-researched historical novel brings alive the horrid conditions of slavery and the heroic acts by fictional people and real people (eg Harriett Tubman) to save people and to seek justice. These actions relate today to the Black Lives Matter and Justice now movements. Only by understanding the past, can one see the great needs still unanswered today. Ms. Henderson’s heroine, Carrie Bennett, captured my admiration, interest, and fondness. I cared what happened to her and would love to see a sequel to this novel. Again, please read this remarkable, intriguing book! You will be enlightened, entertained, humbled.”

“If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you don’t see.” James Baldwin

I am currently writing my second book. It’s totally different from my first, which was historical fiction. This story is set in the mid-1990s. The best way to describe it is to say it’s a Christmas fantasy. Writing this one is pure fun. I can also call it a fairy tale for adults. As with the first book, I’ve infused social justice, imagine that, in this fantasy.

The quote from Baldwin is said by the protagonist to his love interest. She needs a pep talk before she faces some pretty intimidating characters. Her fear can be traced to incidents that occurred in her childhood and she’s afraid history is about to repeat itself. What helps her face her fear is the hero’s reassurance. All the necessary resources to overcome her obstacles are within her grasp. However, she must first have faith in herself. This will enable her to recognize and seek those persons who have the ability to assist her.

The quote from Baldwin is a very powerful statement. How many times have I avoided pointing out something to a person because it was about a hard subject? In the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, a lot of us are having hard and uncomfortable discussions about race. Many times in the past, I’ve found myself holding back when someone’s view was different, or expressed a bias unintentionally that hurt me. I said nothing. I didn’t want to take the risk of making them uncomfortable or fearing the outcome of the conversation. Will we still be friends, afterward? Now, I feel if I don’t say something I am missing a moment to be better understood. It’s a teaching moment for both of us that was missed. Once we’ve both expressed our feelings and why we feel the way we do, most likely we’ll be closer. If we are true friends we should be able to express our true feelings. If I love you I have to make you conscious of the things you don’t see, so you can see them; and likewise, I’l like you to do the same for me.