Being SCAMMED SUCKS: The Lorraine Harrell & Heart of a Woman Writers Fellowship Appears Faulty

helena-joyceIt hurts to realize you’ve been lied to, taken advantage of…betrayed. It hurts all the more when it’s at the hands of one of your own. In this instance I mean another African American Woman–one who claimed to be a champion of “Re-emerging Women Writers Over 40.” I have thought and prayed long and hard about outing this “sister.” But at the end of the day, I knew I must. I cannot allow another to lose her money and time as I and others have at the hands of Lorraine Harrell via the, “Heart of a Woman: Emerging Women Writers 40 and Over Residency/Fellowship” which is her baby.

Is this a vendetta being staged by a writer who didn’t win this competition? Sour grapes perhaps? It is not. I know the piece I submitted has resonated amongst “legitimate” competitions, Editors and Publishers, even garnering its own enthusiastic, “THE BOOK OF CHANCE: Drive-by…A Love Story,” group on Facebook. Even she commented early on how much she looked forward to reading the piece, based solely on the passion for the piece expressed by the distinguished group I asked to provide Letters of Recommendation. Fact of the matter is that she hasn’t even bothered to announce a winner as of this writing. And my many attempts to contact her have been met with silence. Initially, I was genuinely concerned by this because she seemed so committed, so passionate about this Residency which would have afforded four winners a chance to retreat to Martha’s Vineyard and immerse themselves in their writing to the exclusion of everything else–a dream come true for most women writers–especially those over 40 who have to juggle jobs, family…life and then writing. I can truthfully say that my first few messages to her were ones of concern because I’ve run my own company and know the challenges of pulling together even the simplest of productions. Win or lose I would have been an ally to an idea such as this. However, I have an absolute aversion to the slimy and the grimy and this, was increasingly becoming, that. When April presented itself with still no winner or word of explanation, I made a demand for her to return my fees and expenses incurred…still nothing. Ultimately, I decided to blog about this openly. For if there had been any published blog, review, or note about what I have now come to know about the woman at the helm last year…it would’ve spared me the hurt I’m now experiencing. Painful though this is to write, I feel it is my responsibility to do whatever I can to make sure other committed writers are armed with more information than I had at my disposal. I doubt that I’ll ever see my money and I have neither the time nor inclination to invest into pursuing legal action against her but I’m out far less than last year’s participants…some of whom were stiffed for air-fare, food, etc. All of which I find very sad and shameful. Should I hear anything from Ms. Harrell in the way of a refund or ANY explanation…I will update. With Love…HJ.



Rebecca Salome

April 25 2015 Reply

I applaud the courage, just-the-facts presentation, and humility of you, Ms. Wright! I have known and worked with you as an artist and have found you to be passionately committed to the importance and urgency of true artistic talent and expression, not only by Black American women writers, but by ALL ARTISTS. Thank you, Helena-Joy, for your unending love and caring for we who strive to make something worthy and beautiful and give it to the world!


    April 25 2015 Reply

    Thank you so much for your words of support. It was a hard call but I believe the right one. At the end of the day I don’t want anyone else to experience what I am feeling. And yes you are correct, this transcends race and color. Right is right. Wrong is wrong. All day long. And this is just WRONG!

Karen Kimberly

April 25 2015 Reply

This is a scandalous and egregious thing to do to anyone. But for one African American woman to perpetrate against another is, as you say, shameful!!!!! Well done.


    April 25 2015 Reply

    It has been a nightmare. I will share on twitter and every social media platform I have at my disposal because it is a violation.

Melvinia Harris

May 30 2015 Reply

Hi Helena, I know how it feels to be hood winked by a person in sheep’s clothing and today social media is the best way to stop vermin, funny because she came up on my LINKEDIN page maybe you should leave some information about her their


    June 20 2015 Reply

    Yes, I think I might do that.

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