Monday, October 30, 2006

LA Bound!

This week I'll be making my first ever trip to Los Angeles for a conference. Thus far the farthest west I've ever been is Las Vegas. Needless to say I'm really excited, or at least I will be after I get off the plane. I'll also be meeting up with fellow Crime Sistah Pamela Samuels-Young. Pamela and I, along with fellow authors, L.C. Hayden and Kate Flora, will be participating in a panel discussion and group book signing this Saturday, November 4th at 3pm at the following location:

Borders Books and Music #149
100 S. Brand Blvd.
Glendale, CA 91204

If you live in the area, and are able to come, I'd love to meet you! Also, if you'd like to score a cheap copy of the mass market paperback of The Company You Keep, someone has placed a used copy on eBay. The starting bid is 1 penny, one level above free. The shipping and handling costs more than that! Boy, why didn't they just donate it to thier local library or leave it someplace like a doctor's office or a restaurant so someone else could read it? Oh well, I'll be back to blog about the trip on the eighth. In the meantime, look for an interview with debut author Patricia Sargeant on November 1st!


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Brand Name Game

Since I've become a published author, I've become acutely aware of how products are marketed and promoted. After all, strictly speaking, books are products, too, right? Everywhere I look, I see products linking themselves together in cross promotion. I'm sure you've all seen the commercials for Volkwagen where if you buy a Volkswagen by a certain date, you get a free custom First Act electric guitar. The other day I was reading an article in my hometown newspaper, The Springfield News-Sun, about fellow Springfielder John Legend's new album and read that his tour is being sponsored by Bailey's. Bailey's has even created a specialty cocktail, Bailey's Legend Martini, in his honor and has info about his new album and tour posted on their website. In recent years authors have gotten in on the act, too.

A couple of years ago, chicklit author Carole Mathews was paid by Ford to mention the Ford Fiesta in her books. More recently author Meg Cabot hooked up with Clinique to promote her latest young adult novel. Author Mitch Albom's new book is being sold in Starbucks. Whether people like it or not, I don't think the marriage between books and name brands is going to dissolve any time soon. So why not use it to help sell books? My question is, where are these deals for black authors? Let's face it, the pages of a lot of our books practically drip with high end product name dropping. So, why aren't any black authors inking deals with car manufacturers, cosmetics companies, and designers to help promote their books? Eric Jerome Dickey could ink a deal with Ducati motorcycles for his latest book Chasing Destiny, Zane's erotica novels should be attracting any number of product cross promotion deals from condoms to lingerie, and wouldn't Tamera Gregory's The Passport Diaries have been a perfect gift with purchase for travelers booking European vacations on Travelocity or Expedia? Are black authors, or their publishers, not seeking out these kinds of cross promotions or are they being turned away? Honestly, I'd really love to know. If you have any thoughts or knowledge on this subject, or if you know of any black authors who have made any deals like the ones I've mentioned above, please let me know.


Sunday, October 22, 2006

Hey, Guys,
Got this email and thought I'd pass it on. FYI

"Greetings -
I am working on the 2007 literary events calendar for Black Issues Book Review magazine. If you're receiving this message, you likely provided information for an event in past years. Please respond with the details for your 2007 event or direct me to the current contact person.

We are looking primarily for events that have a literary focus or a major literary component.

If you are an author, please send me any events you've been invited to as a speaker or presenter (festivals, conferences, workshops). Even if you don't have all of the details, you may know of events that we have not included in the past - I can follow up with the organizers.

Feel free to forward this message widely to other event organizers and authors.

Include "BIBR" in your subject line and please do not send events that occur in 2006 - the calendar will be published in January 2007 and will include events from Jan. - Dec. 2007.

Festival name and theme:Location - city and venue:Date:Brief (50 words) description and highlights (major authors, key literary elements):Web site and email address: Phone number: Ticket price or price range:

Please email the information to: by October 13, 2006.

Thank you.

Bernadette Adams

If this is something you'd like to do, please tell the world about your schedule. Pamela Samuels-Young is also trolling for members to join Authors of Color, a part of Sisters in Crime. The purpose of the sub-group is to address concerns particular to, you got it, authors of color.

I didn't make any comments re: Bouchercon, except to say that there was a mere trinkle of black folks or, authors of any other color than the non-color, white. Lots and lots of mystery authors, however, and fans, of course.

I have to say I'm still upset re: the non-response from Sisters in Crime re: their promo help via grants for author appearances at book stores. I say we try to use EVERY MEANS AVAILABLE to promote our books. And in truth, black bookstores are in dire need of assistance PERIOD. Promotional monies would help everybody. Sisters in Crime National didn't make the process easy, and although I sent an email to the board re: same, have not heard back since.

Next on my agenda is a mystery convention in Boise, Idaho, Murder in the Grove. The group invites their authors and you don't have to pay a conference fee and in some cases, the group pays authors for leading workshops, etc. You do have to pay for hotel and plane fare.
I sure would like to see more participation of African-American authors at some of these conferences. To let them know we exist. I think our books are not being entered in the Edgar or other Awards to the extent that they should.

Any opinions out there?

Love y'all,

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Let The Music Play!

The other night my best friend Renee was telling to me about an article she read describing Oprah and Gayle's recent road trip across the country. Seems she was tickled by something she and I have in common with the divine Ms. O and her best bud Gayle King. And, no, it's not the fortune, fame, and rumors of lesbianism, though that first one would be most welcome. Renee was tickled by the fact that Gayle apparently can't be in the car for more than a few minutes without having music playing while Oprah would rather talk. That's Renee and me to a tee. Having been best friends for twenty plus years we've been on more than our share of road trips. I NEED music and she'd rather TALK, which I have no problem with, as long as there is MUSIC! Renee claims that I as soon as my ass hits the seat my fingers are fumbling for the dial to the radio. She's right. Why deny it. I told her that music is the soundtrack of life and she replied, “When I’m driving I don’t need Sade in the background when I’m trying find an address or figuring out which way to turn.” Okay, I understand this, kind of. Whatever floats your boat, sister. Just be glad I'm not singing to the music as well.

Actually, I do understand how she feels, though I didn’t tell her so. To be honest, I don't listen to too much music when I'm writing because I find it too distracting. However, I'm constantly thinking about music when I write. When I'm writing certain scenes I think about what music would be playing in the background. With the exception of my third book, which has tons of movie references, all my books have references to songs in them. In fact, the one thing my character Kendra Clayton and I have in common is our love of music preferably classic soul and seventies funk. My series is set in the nineties. So you won't find any references to any current songs in my books and not even many songs from the nineties. I like it that way because it serves two purposes. (1) I don't have to do any research on what songs were popular in the 90's and (2) By using old song references it makes the time period in my books a little ambiguous, which for some strange reason appeals to me. I can't imagine life without music and often wonder if the absence of music would affect my writing. I hope I never have to find out.


Thursday, October 12, 2006

Blogging In Black

The new Blogging In Black blog launched on October 1st and is off to a great start. I'm going to be a regular columnist and will be contributing my two cents on world of publishing and writing on the 19th of each month. The blog has a stellar line-up of folks from the publishing world including debut, veteran, and best-selling fiction and nonfiction authors, agents, and promo people. I you haven't already, please check out Blogging In Black. All of the posts have so far been excellent and thought provoking.

If any of you have a manuscript you'd like critiqued then head on over to eBay. Author Nichelle Tramble is auctioning a full manuscript critique for a great cause. If you're interested I wouldn't wait the auction ends on October 14th.

I was saddened to see this news last week:


Fashionable Kung Fu Queen of 1970s Blaxploitation Film Was Hollywood's First Black Heroine

Baltimore, MD ( - Actress Tamara Dobson -- best-remembered for her portrayal of the kung fu-fighting, Afro-wearing, fashion-conscious government super agent Cleopatra Jones -- died Monday of complications from pneumonia and multiple sclerosis in a Baltimore rehabilitation facility. She was 59 years old.

Born May 14, 1947, in Baltimore, Ms. Dobson was a former beautician who earned a degree in fashion illustration from the Maryland Institute of Art. She went on to work as a professional model, appearing in magazines such as Vogue, Essence and Mademoiselle. She also graced the cover of Redbook and posed for a legendary fashion spread in Ebony magazine sporting her signature giant Afro. In addition to appearing in television commercials, she served as the face of Faberge's "Tigress" for several years, and she appeared in ads for both Chanel and Revlon's "Charlie" perfumes.

Ms. Dobson launched her film career in 1972 with a small role in "Fuzz," playing Yul Brynner's girlfriend (the film also starred Burt Reynolds and Raquel Welch.) Her big break came in 1973 when she was cast in the title, pioneering role of "Cleopatra Jones," opposite Shelley Winters, Bernie Casey and Antonio Fargas. The film, directed by Jack Starrett, and written and co-produced by actor Max Julien ("The Mack"), introduced the first black super heroine to the silver screen; prior to Ms. Dobson's role, the blaxploitation genre had been distinguished primarily by black males doing battle with the white establishment, crooked cops, drug dealers and pimps. Her character inspired the creation of other tough, black female leads in movies such as "Coffey," "Foxy Brown," "Get Christie Love," and "Black Belt Jones," and Cleopatra Jones was parodied in "Austin Powers in Goldmember" (2002), which starred Mike Myers and Beyonce Knowles as Foxxy Cleopatra.

In 1975 Ms. Dobson reprised her super spy role in "Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold." A federal agent fighting the drug trade in the United States and abroad, her character was often likened to a female version of James Bond, every bit the fierce fighter and fashion maven as the iconic spy. Known for her 3-foot-wide hat brims, colorful garb and flowing fur robes, Cleopatra Jones' penchant for exotic clothing and super-sized Afros inspired mid-1970s fashion trends, including the popular waist-length, leather-trimmed fur jackets.

Boasting measurements of 38-26-39 at the peak of her career, Ms. Dobson, who also trained in martial arts, cut a stunning figure. At 6 feet, 2 inches tall, she was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the tallest leading lady in film.

"She was not afraid to start a trend. She designed a lot of the clothing that so many women emulated. With the knowledge from her degree and her natural creativity, she helped develop elegant fashions, especially for tall women," says Dobson's brother Peter.

Ms. Dobson continued to work throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s. Her film credits include: "Come Back, Charleston Blue" (1972; starring Godfrey Cambridge); "Norman, Is That You?" (1976, starring Redd Foxx and Pearl Bailey); "Murder at the World Series" (1977, starring Lynda Day George); and "Chained Heat" (1983, starring Stella Stevens and Linda Blair). "Amazons," a made-for-TV movie directed by Paul Michael Glaser ("Starsky and Hutch") in 1984, was Dobson's last feature-length film. Her other television roles were on "Jason of Star Command" (during the 1980-81 season) and "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century" (1980, as the evil doctor).

Ms. Dobson lived most of her adult life in New York, where she and tennis legend Arthur Ashe became the first two African-Americans to reside at the exclusive Carnegie House Condominiums at 57th and 6th Streets. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis six years ago.

"It was tough going through that debilitating disease, especially with her athleticism and involvement in karate," Peter Dobson says. "That was something she had to fight, and that fight was horrendous...and being a proud individual, the fight was even harder for her."

"She was the perfect combination of power and kindness," he added.

Ms. Dobson is survived by her brother, Peter, and sister, Darilyn, a model who became known as the Palmer's Cocoa Butter girl. She was also a devoted aunt to her brother's three children: Kaleb, 10; Valyn, 12; and Aaron, 17.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Interview with Claudia Mair Burney!

I had the great pleasure of reading debut author Claudia Mair Burney's MURDER, MAYHEM, AND A FINE MAN this summer. It was a wonderful read and is the first book in her Amanda Bell Brown series. I even featured it on my mystery website, MystNoir. The next book in the series, DEATH, DECEIT AND SOME SMOOTH JAZZ is already available for preorder on Amazon. Don't sleep on this series ya'll. It's a winner! Claudia has graciously consented to be interviewed here on the CrimeSistahs Blog. Welcome Claudia!

1. Q: What appeals to you about writing crime fiction?

I've always been facinated by true crime, even when I was a child I was reading detective magazines. People are amazing. We are capable of such good AND such evil. That blend makes for great drama, and great story.

2. Q: Was it hard for you to get published?

Heavens no! Talk about amazing grace! God dropped the opportunity in my lap. It took me 20 years to prepare for that day, but once I made up my mind to be serious about being a writer, doors flew open in a supernatural way. It was crazy.

3. Q: Describe your sleuth, Amanda Bell Brown, and how you came to create her.

Bell, and I can call her that because I love her, is an everywoman. She's a psychologist--smart, but sometimes she does dumb things. She's loyal, and kind, but definately not a pollyanna. She struggles with the temptations we all struggle with. Sometimes she gets it right, and sometimes she doesn't. And she's got baggage. She's hurting, and a bit self-sabotaging, and sometimes she's the last to know this, but she wants to be good. And she loves God. I totally cheated and made her frightenly autobiographical. I gave her a career I knew something about, and put people around her that were very familiar to me, either people in my life, or my favorite kind of television people.

4. Q: How much research is involved in writing your series?

I do a lot of research about the criminal mind. I also did a lot of forensic science research, mostly through books. I needed more police procedural advice for Death, Deceit, and Some Smooth Jazz, book two, so I consulted with the local police. I found it all big fun.

5. Q: Do you write in any other genre besides crime fiction?

One could argue that I wrote in other genres in Murder, Mayhem, and a Fine Man. There's a big, juicy romance right in the middle of the book, and some would say it's got leanings toward women's fiction as well. I'm working on a romance, and I'm contracted to do a supernatural joint about a teenaged exorcist called The Exorsistah. She's like a Jesus freak Buffy without the vampires.

6. Q: What is your writing schedule like?

Hahahahahahahaha. What's a writing schedule? Girl, I do what I can when I can. I'm all over the place.

7. Q: Can you tell us what you're working on now?

I'm finishing the third book in the Amanda Bell Brown Mystery trilogy. It's called Saints, Suspicions and a Ticking Clock, with NavPress. It's due on the shelves in August of 2007.

8. Q: Do you have a website or blog?

Yes. My personal angst filled blog is, and my writer blog is I've also got a book myspace page:

9. Q: What good books have you read recently that you'd like to recommend?

I'm really into Pat Brown's book Killing for Sport: Inside the Minds of Serial Killers. Malicious Intent, in the Writer's Digest Howdunit Series is by my bedside, too. It's by Sean Mactire. Understanding the real live criminal is vital for mystery and crime writers. I also recommend a wide range of books in every genre. I read and loved Chasing Francis, recently Ian Morgan Cron. It's a fictional adventure with St. Francis of Assisi. Read about everything that interests you. And I highly recommend spiritual reading, especially if you're knee deep in death. I love Eugene Peterson's The Message, a very contemporary paraphrase of the Bible.

10.Q: What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Write! And write the book you'd love to read. Your love and enthusiam will show up in the work. Also, honor your unique voice. I hate boring narrators that sound like anybody could have written it. Write the book you, and only you could write.

Thanks Mair!

Thanks so much for having me, Angela. You are terrific!

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