Sunday, August 27, 2006

Out of My Rabbit's Hole

I've been intensely going at my third novel which seems to be wandering in all directions. I've finally realized I have four stories and that's why it's been so tough. But man, I've got to get out of my rabbit hole. There's a whole world out there.
I missed the film The Constant Gardener when it was playing in the theaters, but I've recently subscribed to netflix--what the heck--I thought I'd try it, and I've been seeing a round of movies, including the abovementioned The Constant Gardener. Hey, I didn't realize it was a John Le Carre invention--I would have flown to the theater to see it. No, he didn't write the screenplay, but he wrote the novel on which the movie is based. I have not kept up with him--and I don't know why that is. Maybe I thought he was deceased. But no, he's still writing! I read the Spy That Came in From the Cold many times and I don't do that that often with books. I also read other books of his--I was hooked, and then I dropped off his radar--so I was shocked when I learned he wrote that book. Sometimes I'm just so unaware. Angela mentioned the good news news, which is great--but often I just skip the news--it's too depressing and I often know nothing of what's going on in the world. But of course, people are going to tell you anyway. They can't help it. It's social--what happened in the news today. A conversation starter. A cab ride conversation. An opener on a date.
Now, of course, I have to get the book and read it. Which is totally backwards for me. No one sees the movie first and reads the book. Do they? Except me. But I'm dying to read it. A thriller with the premise of how American drug companies used African countries and their people as guinea pigs for drug testing and cover up the evidence of deaths and dying. Reminiscent of the syphillis testing in the U.S.
Greed, greed, that's what fuels this country! I don't get a good feeling about being an American as I used to. Those first pictures of troops in Afganistan and the first acts of running to the oil fields to keep them intact has stayed with me quite a long time, no matter what patriotic rhetoric is being blown up my ass.
Well, I certainly didn't mean to go there, but hey, that's what blogs are for, n'est-ce pas?

I'm going to be with my girl Pamela Samuels-Young at Bouchercon--a first for both of us. Pamela told me she'll be trying to re-start the defunct Authors of Color sub-group of Sisters in Crime. I think it could be useful to start a group like that--only because our publishing problems take on a different color--no pun intended. The character of the problems are a little different, I think. Or maybe not, perhaps it's just the different publishing houses and different philosophies of publishing. I'd like to hear other authors of color comment about that.
We've talked before about how the new African American lines within the various publishing houses have a different "flavah" now as opposed to days of old, different product, etc.

Okay, shutting up now. Until next time.


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Same Name Game

Have any of you been noticing lately how many books have the same title? I was flipping through the September issue of Ebony magazine and saw that Walter Mosley's new Paris Minton/Fearless Jones novel will be out next month and is called Fear of the Dark. The title sounded so familiar. Then I remembered that another mystery writer, Gar Anthony Haywood's debut mystery, which introduced his stellar private eye Aaron Gunner, was also called Fear of the Dark.

Currently, I'm listening to the audio book for Jonathan Kellerman's latest Alex Delaware mystery called Gone, earlier this summer I listened to the audio book for Lisa Gardner's thriller also called Gone. As a matter of fact, I'm currently working on a thriller that was tentatively titled Gone. I've since changed the title.

Remember last summer when two books called Bliss were published? One by Danyel Smith and the other by Fiona Zedde? Two completely different books but with one thing in common. The female main characters of both books escape to an island paradise to seek answers to the problems plaguing their lives. And four years ago an author named Garbrielle Pina wrote a mystery also called Bliss. Don't know if an island was featured in that one.

Both of my books, The Company You Keep and Tangled Roots, share titles with other books. Author Neil Gordon's The Company You Keep was published in 2003 and is a about an ex sixties militant who's new identity is uncovered and goes on the lam for a long ago bank robbery. Mystery writer Taffy Cannon's book Tangled Roots was published in 1995 and is the second book in her series featuring trial lawyer Nan Robinson.

My editor came up with the title The Company You Keep, which was originally The Pleasure of His Company, and I came up with Tangled Roots, which had originally been The Braider's Tale. The original title for my third book, which is about the murder of an actress, was One Dead Diva. My editor thought it was too harsh so it was changed to Diva's Last Curtain Call. Personally, I suck when it comes to thinking up book titles. I wonder what authors and publishers would do if book titles were copyrighted? I guess we'd be forced to think more creatively.

Angela ; )

Friday, August 18, 2006

Sleepy Blog Round Up

I'm dog tired this morning. I got very little sleep last night. I woke up to use the bathroom and discovered the bathroom floor flooded. A leak had sprung under the bathroom sink. I cleaned up the mess, switched off the water, and put something under the pipe to catch any left over water figuring that would do until I could call a plumber this morning. Guess what? It flooded three more times! @#$&! Too tired to blog. So, here's what's going on other more awake people's blogs. Enjoy!

Author Monica Jackson has started three new blogs highlighting books and authors. One for black fiction called Books in Black, one for women's fiction, and one for paranormal fiction. Monica highlighted yours truly on Books in Black earlier this week ; ).

The BackList Blog has a good discussion about writers using MySpace to promote their work.

More on authors and MySpace on Media Bistro.

Literary Diva Rhonda Swan's latest blog entry discusses former Iraq POW Shoshana Johnson's new book deal.

Dr. Jelani Cobb will be doing an upcoming Q & A on author Tayari Jones's blog discussing his article in the September issue of Essence magazine on the growing number African-American men making trips to Brazil for secret sex vacations. There is also a link to Dr. Cobb's interview on NPR. Secret sex trips? Sounds like a great premise for a thriller doesn't it?

More Than Words, AOL's Black Book Blog, features an interview with best-selling author Karen Quinones Miller.

The Budget Fashionista's latest blog entry discusses two things I thought I'd never hear together in a sentence: Payless and designer. Yes, Payless is launching a new line of designer shoes.

Los Angeles based literary agent Mondella Jones has launched a new blog called MJ in LA.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Behold The Good News!

I don't know about everyone else but the constant barrage of bad news is really getting me down. War, Death, Famine, Natural Disasters. I mean it's gotten so that I've been avoiding the news on TV altogether and everytime I click on I cringe wondering what fresh hell I'm about to see and read about. So, I decided to go on a hunt for some good news. Below are the outlets that report good news. Some are even looking for good news to report or link to. So, if you have any, by all means let them know.

Good News Now

Good News Broadcast

Good News Network

Good News Blog

Good News Garage

And as for good news on the book front, I finished revisions on my third book, DIVA'S LAST CURTAIN CALL! YEAH!!


Friday, August 04, 2006

Location Location Location

I happened to be making the blog rounds the other day and came upon discussion about black book segregation in bookstores on author Monica Jackson's new blog Books in Black. I was reading the visitor comments on this particular post and saw one that made my jaw drop. A reader named Katiem shared her experience with going to Border's to buy my latest book Tangled Roots. I won't post her comment word for word. You can read it here (scroll to the bottom) if you'd like. Long story short, Katiem easily found Tangled Roots in the black book section of Borders, which was no big surprise to me. I knew my books were shelved in the black book section. The thing that was so disheartening to me was when she said she went to the mystery section to see if my books were shelved there as well. Not only were my books not shelved in the mystery section, which again was no big surprise to me, but she goes on to say that there were a lot of black readers in the mystery section buying mysteries by white authors, which tells me black mystery lovers are NOT going to the black book section to look for mysteries. Why?

Is it just a lack of awareness of black mystery writers? Is it a belief that mysteries by black writers can't be as good as their white counterparts? Or is it simply that readers black and white assume that the only place to find mysteries in a bookstore is in the MYSTERY section? I'd love to think it's mainly the latter. So, I decided to do a little research to see if ALL mysteries by black mystery writers are shelved in the black book section. I limited my search to Borders. I went to because you can not only search store inventory to see what Borders stores carry a particular book but you can see what section the book is shelved in.

Here's what I found:

The following books were listed as being shelved in the Mystery Section of Borders

Cinnamon Kiss By Walter Mosley
Dying in the Dark By Valerie Wilson Wesley
Strange Bedfellows By Paula Woods
Chosen People By Karen Grigsby Bates
A Dark and Deadly Deception By Eleanor Taylor Bland
Blood on the Leaves By Jeff Stetson

The Following Books were listed as being shelved in the African-American section of Borders

Down and Dirty By Gammy Singer
Every Reasonable Doubt By Pamela Samuels-Young
Tangled Roots By Angela Henry
Plain Brown Wrapper By Karen Grigsby Bates
Ghosts of Saint-Michel By Jake Lamar
The Other Brother by Brandon Massey

As you can see, not all books by black mystery writers are being segregated. The question now is why are some black mysteries segregated and not others? Is it the publisher? Gammy, Pamela, Brandon and I are published by black imprints. Gammy and Brandon write for Kensington's Dafina, while Pamela and I both write for Harlequin's Kimani Press. So, at first, I thought maybe it was writing for a black imprint that landed us in the black section. But that can't be the only reason because Jake Lamar writes for St. Martin's Press' Minotaur Books, which is not a black imprint and Karen Grigsby Bates writes for Harper Collins' Avon, also not a black imprint. Also strange is the fact that Karen Grigsby Bates' first book, Plain Brown Wrapper, can be found in the AA section BUT her second book, Chosen People, is shelved in the mystery section. So then I looked at the cover art thinking maybe that was the reason for where our books were getting shelved.

The cover for Plain Brown Wrapper is brown with an illustration of a black woman. Chosen People is just a plain pink cover with title and author, no people of any color. So, is it a cover with a black person on it that determines where books are shelved? Again, I'll point out Jake Lamar. His new book Ghosts of Saint-Michel also has no people on the cover yet his book is listed as being shelved in the AA section. And as a matter of fact, Walter Mosley's Cinnamon Kiss HAS a black woman on the cover and is listed as being in the mystery section. As you can see, there seems to be no rhyme or reason as to where books get shelved. But I do feel a little better realizing black readers are going to the mystery section and being exposed to at least some black mystery writers. But they still aren't finding my books and I'm really at a loss as to what to do about it ; (.

On a more positive note, Black Issues Book Review Magazine named Tangled Roots as one of the best Summer Reads of 2006! And for those of you who live in the Minneapolis area, I'm going to be profiled in Insight News. I think it might be in today's issue but I'm not sure. If you see it let me know.

Have a great weekend!


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