October 18 – 21, 2019
Aboard the Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas
Writing Sisters Summit at Sea was born during a discussion between Writing Sister Friends Nina Foxx and Reshonda Tate Billingsley. Reshonda reminded Nina that this year would be their twenty year anniversary as published authors. Twenty years ago, most of the Black Authors that they consider contemporaries were self-published or yet to have a book deal. As avid readers, they all sought to find images of themselves in the books they read. Separately at the same time, these men and women decided to do it themselves. In the pre-Amazon era, this was no small feat. They had to learn how to write, how to promote, as well as learn the publishing business. These trailblazers broke down doors by beating the pavement. They stocked books in their garages before the book distributors would even give them the time of day and sold them from their trunks wherever they could. They set up multi-city book tours that they self-financed, traversing the country to visit the many independently owned Black bookstores. They would see each other on the road and often ended up appearing together, creating a community and virtual workplace from the usually solitary vocation of being an author.
PageTurner.net organized the first Summit at Sea and invited authors and readers alike to participate. In one of the first, Nina Foxx was an up and coming author and over the years, she along with Victoria Christopher Murray, Reshonda Tate Billingsley, and others, became featured authors on the summit. The cruise would round out the year of book club meetings and book appearances, and became one of the places where writers, authors and readers alike would come together as a community. Over time, publishing has changed and the independent bookstores have dwindled. During the last recession, the number of events where authors and readers could retreat and come together has grown smaller and smaller.
The authors missed the community feeling that they had at sea and on the road and since they had long been considering a trip of some sort, Nina suggested a retreat where the faculty could share some of the information they have learned over their twenty year journey as published authors and mentor others who wished to follow the same or similar paths.
The Writing Sisters Summit at Sea was born.