Saturday, February 20, 2010

Where Are They Now?

The first annual Blogging While Brown (BWB) Conference was held in 2008 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. It was the first international conference for, by, and about bloggers of color. Two years later BWB has grown to become the premier blogging conference dedicated to collaboration, education, and innovation and is set to host its largest conference to date in Washington, DC.

As we look forward to BWB 2010 we will take a look back at some the past conference attendees and presenters in a featured titled, “Where Are They Now.”

This week BWB focuses the lens on attorney, blogger, journalist, and writer Heidi W. Durrow.

Heidi is a graduate of Stanford, Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism and Yale Law School. She is the recipient of a Fellowship in Fiction from the New York Foundation for the Arts, a Jerome Foundation Fellowship for Emerging Writers, a Jentel Foundation Residency, and won top honors in the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition and the Chapter One Fiction Contest. She has received grants from the Elizabeth George Foundation, the American Scandinavian Foundation, the Roth Endowment and the American Antiquarian Society.

Originally from Portland, Oregon, Heidi has worked as a corporate litigator and as a consultant to the National Football League and National Basketball Association. She is the co-host of the award-winning weekly podcast Mixed Chicks Chat and the co-founder and co-producer of the Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival, an annual free public event that celebrates stories of the Mixed experience.

Durrow's writing has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, The Literary Review, Smokelong Quarterly, Callaloo, Poem/Memoir/Story, the Yale Journal of Law and Feminism, Essence magazine, and Newsday. She received writer Barbara Kingsolver's 2008 Bellwether Prize for Literature of Social Change for her first novel The Girl Who Fell from the Sky.

At BWB 2008 Heidi, along with Fanshen Cox, hosted the workshop “Podcasting 101”. The workshop highlighted how bloggers could host podcast in conjunction with their blogs to expand readership and allow listeners to contribute to discussions in real time.

As a BWB alum, Heidi believes that the conference helps to raise public awareness about what people of color are doing and saying on the Internet, something that is often completely overlooked by mainstream media. On a more personal level, Heidi encourages bloggers to attend BWB because, as she puts it, “You’ll make great connections at BWB and you’ll learn a lot. People—not just in the sessions—are eager to share their experiences with blogging and you can learn a lot from those informal conversations.” She also credits BWB with giving her the opportunity to learn more about technology and other social media outlets to help promote her work.

Since attending BWB 2008, Heidi has published her debut novel, The Girl Who Fell from the Sky. The novel tells the story of Rachel, a teenage daughter of a White Danish mother and a Black American father, who is the only survivor of a tragic family event. In the course of the story a dark and mysterious past is revealed, and Rachel must find a way to move beyond her grief and finally confront her identity of being a biracial young woman in a world that still doesn’t see far beyond Black and White.

Heidi credits blogging at her personal blog, Light-skinned-ed Girl, for keeping her spirits up during the difficult process of revising her manuscript for publication and the long wait after signing the contract to finally seeing her novel in print. “Novel writing is a lonely sport,” says Heidi. “Blogging created an instant community for me as I engaged in conversations about issues and ideas that mattered to me.”

Since the publication of her novel, Heidi is now Podcasting weekly at Mixed Chicks Chat, writing for its companion blog at, and touring to promote her book. All of you aspiring novelist can checkout Heidi’s blog Light-skinned-ed Girl, where she is blogging about the novel writing process, offering valuable inside information on what it is really like to be a first time novelist promoting your book, as well as the good, the bad, and the ugly on the journey to becoming a published author.

To learn more about The Girl Who Fell from the Sky, as well as the schedule of Heidi’s upcoming readings and appearances at Heidi's novel can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Indie Bound, and Powell's Books. An audio version of the novel is available at Highbridge. Enter promo code “Heidi” and receive a 20 % discount.

You can join Heidi's Facebook Fan page by clicking here and follow her on Twitter @heididurrow. You can also check her out Goodreads.

By Aminah Hanan & Vanja Kovacic

If you are a past BWB attendee or presenter and are interested in being featured in "Where Are They Now?" please contact Aminah at

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