April 25, 2024

INTELLECTUAL INK

A MAGAZINE FOR AVID READERS AND PROLIFIC WRITERS

A HARLEM RENAISSANCE WOMAN IN PHILLY

2 min read

KAREN E. QUINONES MILLER

At first glance, she’s your favorite Auntie. But underneath that wholesome exterior is one of the most prolific authors of our generation. Her influence is far reached and widely admired inspiring many to want to either work with her or work for her.

Karen E. Quinones Miller is an American journalist, historian, author, innovator, mentor, friend, mother, sister daughter and renaissance woman. Her first venture into publishing happened in 1999 when she self-published the award-winning novel “Satin Doll” which reached sales of over 3,000 books during a span of almost 2 months. It was then that she realized she had a purpose and with a plan of action was able to sell almost 30,000 in almost nine months.

With determination in her heart, she was able to sign an agent and draw the attention to major publishing houses landing her first publishing deal with Simon & Shuster for her novel. That deal would earn her six figures and give them the rights to a second novel as well. Years later, Ms. Quinones would be diagnosed with a brain tumor that was removed in 2005. Despite that near fatal diagnosis, she was able to write and publish three novels in the following years Satin Nights (2006, Grand Central Publishing), Passin’ (2008, Grand Central Publishing) and Harlem Godfather: The Rap on My Husband, Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson (2008, Oshun Publishing Company) which was co-authored with Mayme H. Johnson. That same year she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

READ KAREN’S FULL INTERVIEW IN THE FIRST PRINT COPY OF INTELLECTUAL INK MAGAZINE

This sassy, shocking autobiographical novel from the author of Uptown Dreams captures the racial tensions, the hardships, and the bonds that formed between families and neighbors growing up poor in Harlem.

You’d be angry, too, if you grew up poorer than poor in Harlem in the 1960s and ’70s, a place of unrelenting violence, racism, crime, rape, scamming, drinking, and drugging. Living with a dad permanently checked out in Bellevue and a mom at the end of her rope raising you, your twin sister, and your two brothers, moving every time the money runs out—and doing what it takes to survive.

But there’s more to her story. Ke-Ke Quinones was whip smart and sassy, a voracious reader of everything from poetry to the classics. No matter what, 117th Street—where you could always count on someone to stand up for you—would always be home. And with every hard-knock lesson learned, Ke-Ke grew fiercer, unleashing her inner angry-ass black woman to get through it all.

Decades later, comatose in a hospital bed after a medical crisis, she reflects on her life—her success as a journalist and renowned author, her tragicomic memories of Harlem, her turbulent marriage, the birth of her daughter, future possibilities—all the while surrounded by her splintered family in all of their sound and fury. Will she rise above once more?

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