Thursday, July 27, 2006

Where did June Go?

Summer is slipping by much too fast for me. And it's been a while since I've blogged. Yikes. First, let me report about the Harlem Book Fair. Such a dark and gloomy day with "intermittent" deluges! I popped about in two places. I joined my publisher's booth for signing and free giveaways of my book. I was happy to see people accepted them, even though they looked at me warily. Like, there had to be a catch!

That went fine, and then I popped back to join my Harlem Writers Guild
set. Confusion, confusion, everywhere, and not one drop to drink. Book vendors were playing musical chairs. A vendor had taken over our booth--I was afraid blows would be exchanged by some of our more passionate members. Me, I was repeating, "Can't we all just get along?" while I watched people with foam on their mouths.

The end result? We shared a booth, which I suggested in the beginning but no one listened to me. The staff of Harlem Book Fair couldn't resolve it because they had given the nestors permission to nest in our paid-for area. I don't want to resort to the old--mah peoples, mah peoples, but there were aspects of coordinating and organization that sorely needed more attention. You would think after seven years they would get it together. The good news? Thousands of African-American brothers and sisters (and others) visited 135th Street between 5th-7th Avenues to a plethora of book vendors. I personally passed out about 500 postcards and sold quite a few books. It has quite a carnivale atmosphere, but there were books on sale of all kinds.

The Harlem Writers Guild now is a participating publisher through I-Universe, and several of the members had their books published and ready for sale that day. People came in droves--although I suspect during the latter part of the day the "illiterates" came. I even got--"Who me? Naw, I don't read." I just blessed them and wondered why they even came. I don't want to stereotype and say it was the younger crowd out cruising cuz there were some old dudes and dames who came to eat? for the music? and because they were curious, I guess.
It is quite something though, to see that many black people foraging for books. Remarkable. Love it.


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Lordy, Lordy, Look Who's Forty!

ME! Well, today's the day. The big four oh. People keep asking me, "So, how does it feel to be forty?" My answer is, "I feel just fine, thank you." I always wonder if people expect me to say I've fallen into a deep depression and am currently under suicide watch, or I'm about to have a plastic surgery overhaul. No such luck I'm afraid. I never could understand why people get so freaked out over getting older. I guess there are a lot of things I could be depressed about if I let myself, such as no romantic prospects anywhere in sight, or the fact that my sixth grade teacher, Mrs Calabreze's, horoscope for our class--the one that predicted I'd be a wealthy man's wife, with a diamond stud in my nose, and driving a red sports car--hasn't even remotely come close to coming true, at least not yet, or that the only parts of my body that are still a size seven are my feet. But, I won't go there. Instead, I choose to think about how many people love me and how I've managed to arrive at 40 in relatively good health body, mind, and spirit. And not to mention having become a published author, which is no mean feat. So, for me, turning forty is no big deal. Today is just like any other day. . . but with cake and presents, of course ; ).


Friday, July 21, 2006

Summer Reading

Since everyone seems to be doing summer reading lists, I thought I’d add my own to the pile. The following books are either what I’ve recently read, am currently reading, or planning to read.

Ghosts of Saint-Michel By Jake Lamar-I loved this book! This is the second thriller by the talented Lamar to be set in Paris. This time the story is centered on Marva Dobbs, an African-American ex-pat who owns a successful soul food restaurant and has established herself as the grand dame of black Paris. The sixtyish, married, and still gorgeous Marva finds herself in peril when her much younger lover, and sous chef, is accused of being a terrorist and disappears.

Labyrinth by Kate Mosse-This book was awesome but not for the faint of heart. It’s a long book and filled with a lot of detail some of which causes the plot to move at a snails pace. All in all I really enjoyed this alternate story of the quest for the Holy Grail seen through the eyes of two women separated by 800 years.

Murder, Mayhem, and Fine Man By Claudia Mair Burney-I really enjoyed this debut mystery which introduces forensic psychologist Amanda Bell Brown. This book has it all: mystery, humor, suspense, romance, religion, and a heroine you will fall in love with. Look for an upcoming interview with author Claudia Mair Burney here on the Crime Sistahs Blog!

Twelve Sharp By Janet Evanovich-Always good for a laugh, I look forward to reading the new Stephanie Plum book every summer. This new installment doesn’t disappoint and continues the never ending saga of who will she pick: Ranger or Morelli? I know who I’d pick!

Chosen People By Karen Grigsby Bates-I’ve been looking forward to the second book in the Alex Powell series ever since the release of the first book, Plain Brown Wrapper, five years ago. This time Alex is looking into the death of a controversial author.

Dope By Sara Gran-I loved Sara Gran’s novel Come Closer and figured I’d give this one a try. I loved the book even though the ending made me mad enough to throw the book across the room. I won’t say any more. Read it yourself and let me know what you think.

The Long Mile By Clyde W. Ford-This book has been on my TBR list for a long time. I was fortunate enough to snag copies of it and the sequel Deuces Wild at BEA this year. The Long Mile is the first book in the Shango mysteries and introduces former police detective John Shannon.

On the book front, Tangled Roots will be featured this Monday July 24th( the day before my birthday) by the Shades of Romance Book Club.

Shades of Romance Book Club sends members emails of book excerpts by established and up and coming authors twice a week. You have to subscribe to receive the excerpts and members will have a chance to win copies of featured books.

To join the book club send an email to:

Happy Reading!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

When Opportunity Knocks

I constantly get asked advice by aspiring writers about the best way to go about getting published. I honestly don't know what to tell them. All I can do is share my own experience, which may or may not be helpful. But one piece of advice I can give is that whether you approach a publisher directly, or decide to try and get a literary agent to represent you, it always looks good to have some writing credits to your name. Whether it be from having contributed to an anthology, or winning a writing contest, or writing a column for an online publication, writing credits are writing credits and you need to let any editor or agent you approach know about them.

I was shopping for a publisher I was able to list the honorable mention I won in Ebony magazine's annual writing contest, a short story I contributed to an anthology, and a column I wrote for a writing newsletter as my writing credits in my query letter. Ultimately, it was the chapters I sent that sold my editor on my book. But I believe listing those writing credits made me sound a bit more legitimate and piqued her curiosity enough to make her want to take a look at my chapters and not pitch them in the recyling bin. So, I've listed some excellent writing opportunities below that I hope some of you will be able to take advantage of.

St. Martin's Press Malice Domestic Contest-This is a great contest. The winner receives a book contract!

African-American Romance Anthology-Don't be thrown by the romance element. The guidelines state you can mix romance with many types of elements. So, dust off that sci-fi romance and send it in!

Writer's Digest Writing Contests-Writer's Digest magazine sponsors several annual writing contests. Currently they are seeking submissions for short stories and popular fiction.

Holiday Crime Fiction Anthology-Proceeds for this go to charity. No monetary compensation but you get a byline and a copy of the anthology.

Good luck and happy hunting!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Blogging Blaise

I don't really have anything to blog about today. So, I thought I'd give you all an update on the interesting things other authors, with much more to talk about than me, are blogging about.

Tayari Jones
always has something insighful to share on her blog. Her latest entry is an essay on the whole rappers vs Oprah issue by Spelman College professor Jelani Cobb.

Nichelle Tramble was nice enough to invite me to participate in the Q & A series on her blog this past Friday. I think it's still posted.

Monica Jackson is debating on whether blogging sells books. She's got a nice reply from author MJ Rose posted.

MJ Rose's recent blog post lists the winners of the first annual Thriller Awards at this past week's first Thrillerfest.

Literary Diva Rhonda Swan gives some excellent advice to those wanting to self-publish in her latest blog entry.

Sharon Cullars asks "Do you know your American history?" in her recent blog entry and also offers the first chapter of a work-in-progress.

Over at Murderati, Naomi Hirahara discusses her technophobic ways.

Lolita Files's latest entry on the Lo Zone discusses the irony of Ken Lay's death from a heart attack. She's also posted the official movie poster for Snakes On A Plane.

On her Politopics blog Angela Winters discusses how uppity black folks make good book material.



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