Sunday, November 12, 2006

Hello, Great Unknown World Out There,

Have you missed me? Two things on my mind. The Quill Awards, sponsored by PEN which gave out awards for it's best books? Floored when I heard Tyler Perry's book won Book of the Year. I later found out the award is similar to the People mag award for film and television--it 's a popularity thing, Quill Award honors popular books.
Well, of course, I had to pay attention. Tyler Perry is a one-man marketing operation and is a genius at it. He has catapulted his Ma'deah character to popularity among many types/backgrounds/ethnicities of people and made a bunch of money while doing so, and kept control of his product(s). Wow. God Bless the Child That's Got His Own. Amen.
We should all take lessons.
Speaking of popular books---I had the honor of participating in the success of another African-American author--not that I was responsible or anything, just a part of. Lalita Tademy wrote a highly successful bestseller-Oprah-pick fiction book based on her family's history, called Cane River. She wrote a second book, Red River, and I got to read one of the character's for the second books-on-tape version. First time I've done one of those. But as an actress I really like reading aloud--I would love to read many more books on tape--for fun and profit--including my own. I was so surprised how fast the Red River tape/CD version was put together. Seemed like the next week they were advertising it. I ran across it by accident--trying to track down copies of my first book. I don't believe it will be released until early next year, but it's on pre-order status. Damn. Wish my books would get all that hoopla. Someday. Soon. Ver-r-ry soon.

Re: my first book, A Landlord's Tale. I just don't understand the publishing business. For six months from the date of the release of my mass market version of the book, Hard Luck and Trouble: A Landlord's Tale (won't be out until Feb., 2007) it has been very hard to find my book, yet the publisher says it's not out of print. I've been doing my thing, still promoting at various venues and have a hard time getting it for bookstores, etc. You'd think the company'd keep some around--especially when a second book in a series comes out. New readers invariably want to read the first book in the series. At least that's what people have told me--don't you agree? Of course you do. That's why I talk to you.

At Bouchercon I met a first time writer who had the guts to stamp his/her feet and argue about the choice of his/her cover. In the end, he/she got his/her way. I thought that was pretty ballsy. I have felt so powerless. I've seen a system operate in a way that's not particularly related to any business acumen or practices, but the publishing industry seems to "jest keeps rollin', jest keeps rollin'--along... with the way they do things, whether it makes sense or not.

Kudos to those writers who are starting their own companies. I don't quite understand they way some are set up--they hook in their own line to already established publishing houses. Wonder what the percentages and the agreements between the two are?

Arrgh, why am I even involved in gross speculation about money, finances, business, etc. ?
Art, art, art is what we writers should be concerned with. N'est-ce pas?
Enough. Signing off. Comments?


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Back From Cali!

Well, I'm back ; ). Actually, I've been back since Monday night and have just now found the time to write about my trip to LA. All I can say is, I know why people go to LA and never want to come back. That city has everything and I mean everything! Great weather, dining, shopping, nightlife, not that I got to take advantage of a lot of it because they kept us so busy. I was exhausted at the end of each day. But I did get to walk around Rodeo, and even bought something. Okay, it was only a pair of sunglasses. But, hey, sunglasses from Rodeo are sunglasses from Rodeo. No one has to know they only cost $15. Anyway, I was in LA to attend the Sisters in Crime Hollywood Conference, not to be confused with the Crime Sistahs. The conference was awesome and I got to meet some fellow Sisters in Crime, some who came from as far away as Europe, as well as fellow Crime Sistah Pamela Samuels-Young. Pamela and I along with another author, L.C. Hayden, had a booksigning at a Border's Bookstore in Glendale. I wish I could say we had tons for people who showed up. But, we didn't ; (. In fact, no one came. But, we had a good time talking amongst ourselves.

The conference also included a tour of Sony Studios where we saw the set for Jeopardy and got to watch some filming for the upcoming Disney Channel movie, In Case of Emergency. We also saw sets for the new series Big Day and the upcoming thriller Vacancy, which according to this bit of gossip from Page Six is turning out to be not such a thrilling experience. We also got a screening of the pilot episode of Showtime's new series Dexter, afterwhich there was a Q & A with the series producers. The main portion of the conference consisted of panel discussions with the movers and shakers of Hollywood: the producers, writers, and agents who turn books into movie for the big and small screen. The culmination of the conference was a one-on-one meeting with a producer to pitch them our book. I've never seen so many nervous writers in one place before. We were all practicing our pitches to each other and trying to cut them down to the allotted time, which was five minutes, three really if you take time for questions. The biggest piece of knowlege I got from the conference is that it takes a lot to get an author's book to the screen and the money that authors get for movie options has decreased greatly over the years. So, basically even if my book were to be optioned for a movie, I probably wouldn't make much money UNLESS the movie actually gets made and that's a very big long shot. But, I'm still glad I went and here are a few of my observations on LA:

1. If you live in LA you spend half your life in a car. With LA traffic it seemed like it took at least an hour or more to get just about anywhere.

2. Because residents of LA spend so much time in their cars, I hardly saw any old junky cars. Most of what I saw was new and expensive. I also saw a lot of beautifully restored classic cars.

3. Everyone knows someone who has some kind of connection to the movie biz. I'm not exaggerating. Every conversation I overheard in public consisted of someone taking about an audition or a meeting with a producer.

4. If you want some excellent Italian food in LA. Go to this restaurant. The calimari was really good!

5. As much as I enjoyed myself in LA. I could never live there for a variety of reasons, the main one being that the average home in Los Angeles is half a million dollars. Yikes!!


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Interview with Patricia Sargeant!

Patricia Sargeant is a debut novelist, and fellow Ohio resident, who's first romantic suspense novel, YOU BELONG TO ME, is being released today. She's graciously agreed to be interviewed here on the Crime Sistah's blog. YOU BELONG TO ME is also the featured title for November on MystNoir. Welcome Patricia!

1. Q: What appeals to you about writing romantic suspense?

I love romance and I love suspense. Together they're a powerful combination. A well-written suspense keeps your reader in your story. At the heart of that story is your character's motivation. What is the ultimate motivation? Love. Love of family, friends and country. Love compels you to reach inside of yourself and find the hero within. That is a universal truth that connects your reader to your character. Make your reader care about your character and she'll finish your story.

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

I would say "challenging." It took me 15 years. But then, nothing worth having comes easily. A lot of people think they can write a book in a couple of weeks or months and then sell it a month or so later. I never believed it would be that easy, but I hadn't realized learning the process would be so challenging. There's a lot more to succeeding as an author than writing the book. You have to learn the craft, study the industry, and be willing and able to market yourself and your work.

3. Q: Describe your debut novel, YOU BELONG TO ME, and how you came to write it.

You Belong To Me is a romantic suspense that reunites a divorced couple in a race to unmask a serial killer. All of my stories start with the question, "What if?" What if you were given a second chance with your soul mate? What would you be willing to do to ensure your happily-ever-after? The story is also about family. How do you define family and what are you willing to do to protect them?

4. Q: How much research was involved in writing your book?

I didn't have to do too much research. I read a couple of how-to books for independent film producers to learn the terminology and understand the process of producing a film from conception to distribution.

5. Q: Do you write in any other genre besides romantic suspense?

Yes, and thank you for asking. I'm working on a mystery series with romantic and paranormal elements. It takes place on a fictitious Caribbean island. My agent is currently shopping that project. I also have an epic fantasy trilogy and a time travel that I hope to propose soon.

6. Q: What is your writing schedule like?

I have a full-time day job, so my writing takes place in the evenings and weekends. The days are long, but very worth it.

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

I would love to. I'm finishing another romantic suspense, On Fire. The release date is September 2007. The hero is a fire investigator. The heroine is an investigative reporter. The two start out as adversaries but, when a string of arsons become a series of murders, they work together to solve the crimes. In the process, they uncover a powerful political machine. It's the first book in a three-book series.

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

I have a Web site,, and an e-newsletter, Patricia's News. The title is simple and to the point.

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

Oh, so many. I've recently discovered L.A. Banks's Vampire Huntress series. I'm coming late to the party, but having a good time. I highly recommend the series.

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

If becoming a published author is your dream - don't give up. Work at your craft and write the best story you can. Learn the business side. Writing is an art, but it's also a business. Understand an agent's role, an editor's role, an author's role. Learn about contracts, royalty statements, subsidiary rights. Study the market - what editor at what house is buying what genres? Learn how to market yourself and your work. Never stop learning.

Thank you for this opportunity, Angela. I very much appreciate it.

You're welcome Patricia. Thanks for stopping by!

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