Bryant Park Reading Room
Wednesday was a glorious day--really, it was. What with all the rain in New York and surrounds, I bet you think I'm lying, but no... Rain clouds threatened, but we managed to stay dry in the park even though it was terribly muggy. The "Reading Room" is really an outside venue in a park with books available for all the park people who sit there during their lunch hour. They munch and read the books for free.
The occasion was a panel discussion of female mystery writers which I moderated. It was the first time that I've done that job and I must say it was made pleasant by the panelists that were assembled: Carol Goodman, Laura Lippman, Cynthia Baxter, and Sandra Scoppetone. I fielded them questions--and they ran with it--piece of cake--kinda'- sorta'. They did very well. Range of their writing is incredible.
Sandra is known to be one of the 100 Masters of Crime Fiction and writes a kind of nostalgic hard-boiled crime fiction and broke ground early in her career with a lesbian PI who went about her day to day affairs without all the angst usually associated with gay characters.
Laura Lippman, a former reporter from Baltimore has won every mystery award imaginable with her books with her heroine PI Tess Monaghan and she contributed one of the best questions re: our responsibilities as crime fiction writers.
Cynthia Baxter, president of the Tri-State/NY Chapter of Sisters in Crime, presented intelligent comments about the "cozy" genre and we became acquainted with her amateur sleuth, veternarian Jessica Popper.
Carol Goodman is also a mega award winner and her category of fiction is literary suspense--all of her books thus far allude to "water." Interesting. Her husband also writes the poetry that is often included in her books.
Gives one a warm feeling to be among women with such intelligence, warmth and charm. I'd do it again in a NY minute--it was that pleasureable. Hmm..have I spelled pleasureable correctly?
One sour note--not really--I was concentrating so much on the other authors I don't think I described my own book to great effect. Well, my turn next time.
Plus, no matter how I try to disguise it, as a actor, I still like to jump up in front of people. And contrary to some other authors, I loooove to read my stuff--I love to read other people's stuff. Hey, I love to perform!
A year ago, I was sitting on a panel next to a much admired author (who shall be nameless) and we were all asked to read our stuff. Good for me, bad for some others. The person was such a good writer, but wasn't doing justice to her material and the audience had zoned out--I wanted to snatch the book out of the author's hands and read it myself! It left me trembling. If I ever do a workshop for writers I think it will be, "How to Read in Public." Think I'll get any takers?
Friday, June 30, 2006
Bryant Park Reading Room
Thursday, June 29, 2006
I’m writing from the dry, hot, but beautiful city of Phoenix. I’m here attending the first annual International Thriller Writers Conference. I’ll be speaking on a panel tomorrow afternoon along with four other much more experienced writers. The title of our panel is Beyond Good and Evil.
I’m looking forward to the discussion because I love writing evil characters. As a reader, I like rooting for the underdog, but I really love waiting and hoping that the evil character gets what he or she deserves.
During my book tour, people often asked if the character David in my novel Every Reasonable Doubt, was patterned after someone I actually worked with. Thank God no! I've worked with my share of annoying attorneys over the years, but no one as conniving as David. I had to hype him up a bit for literary enjoyment.
I’ll touch bases with you after tomorrow’s panel and let you know how it goes.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Observations On New Orleans
I won't tell you about the ALA Convention. I was supposed to sign books but my books were MIA ; (. So, I had nothing to sign and was more than a little put out about it. Don't know what happened. My guess is that they're floating around in some postal nether region between New York and New Orleans. I'm still investigating. But enough about that. New Orleans! What a city. Here's what I observed.
1. You can walk just about anyplace you want to go in the city, which is what I did.
2. The French Quarter is really, really old but still quite charming. It kind of reminded me of an old woman who you can tell used to be really beautiful. You walk down the streets of the French Quarter and you can not only see the history but feel it, too. I know it sounds strange but it's true.
3. Bourbon Street smells like vomit. If you ever go, avoid stepping in any puddles. Was told more than once that it's probably not water.
4. Customer service in the restaurants rocks! I mean it. The servers bend over backwards to make sure you have everything you need.
5. Don't know how I've survived thus far without ever having had a muffuletta or beignets!
6. Spent a little too much time here. But left with more than I came with!
7. If you're looking for a fun inexpensive way to kill a couple of hours and find out fascinating facts about the city, I highly recommend doing this. I also recommend booking online to save a few bucks.
8. Spending most of my time in the French Quarter, I didn't see much of any of the devastation left behind by Katrina. But Sunday night in my hotel I tried to take a shower, turned on the water, and only got a brown trickle. The next morning while waiting for the airport shuttle, I overheard a plumber telling the hotel clerk that the problem was the water and gas mains which were still suffering the effects of Katrina.
9. Okay, one little thing about the convention. Got a chance to meet a librarian from this library who told me they are always looking for authors to come do talks. So, I guess you can figure where I'm planning to go next year!
10. Everybody was so grateful to have people back in the city spending money and supporting the local businesses and I was happy to be there. Can't wait to go back.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Ministers + Groupies = Trouble
Boy, what was it about ministers that made women swoon? Was it the power, the glory, the closeness to God? Maybe they were trying to get closer to heaven.
Kendra Clayton, TANGLED ROOTS pg 159.
The July issue of Essence magazine features an article by Michelle Burford called Caught Up in the Rapture: Confessions of a Church Groupie. The title instantly conjured up an image of a flashily dressed preacher rockin the pulpit, much like a rapper rockin the mic, with scantily clad women in big hats swooning all around him. The article is about women who purposefully go after ministers the way groupies go after professional athletes and musicians. One woman in particular had an affair with her married minister only to be discarded and fired from her job at the church when she becomes pregnant by her minister lover. It also discusses why women become attracted to ministers and why ministers sometimes succumb to the charms of female parishioners. This article could have easily been about some of the characters in Tangled Roots, namely handsome and charismatic Reverend Morris Rollins, a minister so attractive to women he has to practically beat them off with a stick.
While reading the article, I was surprised at how accurate I was about when these little hook-ups occurprivate meetings after church usually in the guise of some kind of counseling. Yeah, uh huh. I even made mention of such meetings in Tangled Roots. But I never gave much thought as to why such affairs happen, other than simple poor judgment and loose morals. But after reading the article, I now I have a little better understanding of why these affairs take place, thought it still seems to me that anyone with good sense should know better. But, then again what do I know? What's that saying? You know the one about before judging someone you should walk a mile thier shoes, or in this case, high heeled fuck me pumps ; ).
Anyway, I'm off to New Orleans this weekend. See ya next week!
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
NOLA Here I Come!
This weekend I'll be in New Orleans for the American Library Association's annual conference. But even though I work in a library, I'm not attending the conference as a librarian. I'm attending as a writer. I'll be signing copies of TANGLED ROOTS at the Sisters In Crime booth Sunday morning. So, if you're attending the conference, please stop by say hi and get your free autographed copy of TANGLED ROOTS.
I've been wanting to go to New Orleans for years. Now that I'm getting a chance to go, I have mixed feelings. I'm still excited to be going. But, in the wake of Katrina, it's more a of a quiet subdued excitement. Because the New Orleans I've been wanting to visit doesn't exist anymore. Still, I plan to do a lot of sightseeing(Haunted Walking Tour) and of course eating(beignets at the Cafe du Monde!). And even have a drink or two or three. As for the conference, I'll try not to load myself down with books and stuff. It won't be easy but I'll try.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
The sun will come out tomorrow...
"Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day..." Shakespeare
"Don't put off tomorrow..." Anon? (But it sounds like something Ben Franklin would say.)
"Tomorrow is as fragile/ as a sheer curtain pulled tight/ Any old dog/who comes along/can put his paw/through it." Carol Connelly "No Vacancy," Payments Due
Today I wrote a paragraph--A PARAGRAPH! I hope I do better tomorrow. Oh, tomorrow I'm singing with my choir in concert. We have to get there for a sound check at 3:00pm, and I have to get my nails done, my hair washed.
Okay, the day after that, I'm really buckling down... See--I don't have a contract deadline staring at me. Makes all the difference, I think. Ugh, this book is choking me. Aaaaargh...
Monday, June 12, 2006
Then there were people who read about me in the newspaper write-up I got earlier in the week and people who read my first book and wanted to get the second. The thing that was even more amazing to me was that more than half the people bought two books! My first book AND my new book. I was so humbled. So blown away by all the support.
One of the people I met at the signing was a man named Michael Gilbert, who is an aspiring author, who even brought his digital camera and was nice enough to take pictures of the party. Thanks Michael! I also did a radio interview on WULM a local station Saturday morning. I felt like quite the celebrity. The bookstore staff was amazing and everything went smoothly. But we did have tons of food left over. But I'm not complaining! I had a wonderful time. If only all booksignings could be that fun.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
I'm making final preparations for my book launch this Saturday at B Daltons. I had a book launch for my first book but it was a small private affair with family and friends. This time around it will be open to the public and I'm worried there will be either too much or too little food. I'm also worried no one will show up. Then again, I'm worried people will show up, eat up all the food, and not buy any books. Or show up, not eat or buy any books. Or worse yet, show up, pelt me with rotten fruit, call me names, and run me off the premises. Okay, I know that won't happen. I hope. Seriously, I do feel like and eighth grader worried that no one will come to my sleep over.
I did get a nice write up in my hometown paper the Springfield News-Sun the other day. But a newspaper article doesn't guarantee people will come to a signing. I watched Kathy Griffin's show "My Life On The D-List" last year and remember an episode where she was promoting her latest comedy DVD. She was going to be signing copies of it at either Tower Records or Virgin Mega store in New York and did a ton of press: The View, Leno, some radio interviews, etc. So how many people showed up to her signing after doing all that high profile press? Eleven people. Eleven! Of course it could have all been staged just to prove that she truly is on the D-list. I'll let you know how the party goes. But hey, if no one shows up maybe I can have my own reality show: Angela Henry "My life on the Z-List".
Sunday, June 04, 2006
With the release of my first novel, Every Reasonable Doubt, just four months behind me, I’m amazed at all I have learned since achieving my goal of being a published author. Here are my top three lessons learned.
1. Authors have to be self-promoters. I didn’t think much about the marketing aspect of the book business. I simply figured that my novel would hit stores and fly off the shelves. I now know that many good books can flounder without the right push.
2. People are amazing. I have met incredibly supportive individuals who have encouraged me, publicized my books to their family and friends, set up book signing appearances for me and served as my personal cheerleaders. These strangers-turned-friends have made this journey more than worth it.
3. Finding time to write is much, much harder. All the legwork that is required to promote a book can tremendously interfere with your writing time. I try not to gripe about this too much since I would much rather be a published author with little time to write than an unpublished author with lots of time to write.
Thursday, June 01, 2006
Since today is the official release day for my second Kendra Clayton mystery, TANGLED ROOTS, I've decided to mark the occasion with a contest. The winner will receive a $20.00 Amazon gift certificate. Simply click the link below to read an excerpt of Tangled Roots and answer the following questions:
1. What street does Kendra live on?
2. Who is waiting for Kendra when she gets home?
3. Why wasn't Kendra feeling very hospitable?
4. What gives Kendra comfort during stressful times?
5. What does Kendra ask her visitor before she agrees to help?
Send your answers to email@example.com by June 16, 2006. I'll pick a winner at random from all the correct entries.