The Harlem Oral History Project


We Care Media Arts (WCMA) is the successor organization to We Care Harlem, founded in the late 1960s to enable young people in Harlem to empower themselves through community service and provide them with work experience and better access to public resources. Early accomplishments include a job preparation program and a community newspaper produced by local youth which advocated against drugs and violence. WCMA continues the mission of We Care: fostering a sense of community pride and service by filming oral histories of longtime Harlem residents and community leaders. Through this oral history project, Harlem Talking, we emphasize the cultural legacy and wisdom embodied some by Harlem’s older citizens, spark inter-generational dialogue and positive community activism.

We hope to continue WCMA activities, including the oral history and pre-production research for a documentary film to promote cultural awareness of Harlem at a crucial moment of transition and economic change. To support and maximize the community benefit of these two media projects, WCMA is developing a media literacy and training program for students which will partner with local high schools and youth groups; train a core group of six to twelve filmmaking interns a year; guide production of short student films to be screened at cultural institutions and Film Festivals around New York City; and host master lectures about filmmaking and the oral history. Finally, WCMA continues outreach to build relationships with community boards, youth and senior citizen groups to generate participation in inter-generational programming.

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  1. Good morning, evoeyrne, and thanks for all the great questions! I’m back with some answers for you.An It’s fine to re-query agents on projects that have *substantial* revisions, but you should always note that you approached them earlier on the project, especially if you’ve changed the title. You don’t want them to remember bits of your project and your name and suspect you of trying to trick them. Honest and up front.Jen Most agents will provide some level of editorial advice before submitting a project, thought what level will depend on the agent in question. Some agents feel more comfortable being editorial than others, based on their skills. I can’t speak for all the Knight Agency ladies, but I think most of us give editorial feedback, and, personally, I can go pretty in-depth when necessary.The Knight Agency is open to queries through the holidays. That doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll be replying to them during the holidays, but feel free to send them along. L.G. Paranormal and urban fantasy both are getting to be tougher sells, just due to the glut in the marketplace. Editors and readers are still interested; you just need to find something fresh to write about. Most people will claim there’s no automatic rejection based on subject, since anything can be done in an original way that will lead to a fabulous book, but at the same time, vampires, werewolves, and shapeshifters are all getting to be much harder sells. As for me, I really don’t want to see any more vampire books right now. I love them, but I’m so, so tired of them. So yes, it’s a more difficult genre to break into than it was three years ago, but books are still selling, so just do your best to write something fresh and exciting.Stephanie Regarding planning a writing career, that’s part of an agent’s job to help a writer determine what steps to take next. That said, there’s no dictating involved, or at least there shouldn’t be. You want to have discussions about your list of ideas and come to a decision together about which project might be the best one to work on next. Many factors come into play; whether you’ve sold something and need to write a direct follow up, if you have an option clause and so need something to please your current editor, what the market looks like for your type of work, etc. Your agent is there to help you get a clear idea of the larger picture, and not just what you feel like writing next.Tracy An online presence is becoming more important for fiction writers than it used to be. That said, there are many ways of developing that sort of online following, and you can choose to use your manuscript in that quest or not. Definitely, if you wish to, put up the first chapter of your novel as a teaser and see if people respond to it. But you also want to get out there on Twitter and become part of a community where you chat and trade information and recommendations, etc., not just prepare to sell your book. You want to look at the entire spectrum of social media and see how you can make the different apps work for you and your interests broadly, not just focused on your writing. Be a person online first, and a writer second.Kris The labels start to get in the way of what is actually most important about books, so the question becomes whether you mean genre fiction versus contemporary fiction, or genre fiction versus literary fiction when you refer to basic fiction. I’m assuming you mean stories that are just stories about people, without serial killers or vampires, romances or space travel as the focus. This type of fiction has lots of labels as well: women’s fiction, lad lit, contemporary fiction, upmarket contemporary, literary, etc. There’s plenty of it out there. But agents and editors tend to label it all in order to convey what we’re looking for in the way of submissions.But to answer your question, yes, there’s plenty of that other, non-genre sort of fiction out there. However, books need hooks in order to sell. Publishing houses have marketing teams that want books where they can easily get a buyer excited about the story. The more basic the fiction, the more real-world the story, the harder job the sales team has of making the story stand out. At the end of the day, publishing is a business, and so sales drive what ends up getting published. And stories with big hooks magic and mayhem, fantastical creatures, knotty mysteries, death-defying accomplishments those are always going to get more attention. You also need to determine what sort of media you’re reading. Some sites and blogs and agents are going to talk more about genre, because that’s their focus. Agencies that rep more genre will talk about their genre clients. Blogs that focus on paranormal romance won’t talk much about hearth-and-home fiction. Okay folks, that’s it for this Q A. Thanks so much for participating!~Nephele

    January 30, 2014 at 1:59 am

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