Monday, July 30, 2007


Where do you get your story ideas? It's always interesting to find out where authors get their ideas. What inspired them to write a particular book.

I know several mystery and suspense writers get their ideas from newspaper articles. Actually, Court TV's Murder by the Book is about true crimes that have inspired mystery writers such as Michael Connelly.

A dear friend, Jamie Denton, wrote a romantic suspense inspired by the Georgia crematorium scandal in which the owner took money for cremations but instead tossed the dead bodies behind his building. Jamie's book is The Matchmaker. Read it with the lights on.

Angela Henry's The Company You Keep was inspired by a news story. And the Sago mine tragedy and Congressional scandals inspired my September release, On Fire.

So, where do your ideas come from?


Saturday, July 28, 2007

Who are your favorite Crime Sistahs?

The fine folks at Habitual Reader, the online fiction book club that features reader profiles, book reviews, and favorite community bookstores, are featuring the reader profile of yours truly. My reader list consists of my favorite mysteries by African-American female mystery writers, featuring African-American female heroines.

I also forgot to mention that the latest issues of Sister Divas Magazine features a fun interview with my amateur sleuth, Kendra Clayton.

And lastly, my hometown newspaper, The Springfield News-Sun, did an article on me the other day. It was a nice article and except for the name of my publisher being misspelled and the article saying my latest book is my last book, I was pleased with it.



Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Birthdays, AARP & Virtual Reality!

Today I am 41 years old! And for the record, I have absolutely no problem being 41. Honestly, I wouldn't be 21 again for anything. At 41 I think I finally have some things figured out and I am pretty happy in my own skin. But I wish someone would tell AARP that I'm only 41 because they keep sending me membership cards! I got another one last week. I got one around this time last year, too. Seriously, I look forward to every age related discount I have coming to me down the road. But all in due time. I'm in no big hurry. I just know that there is another Angela Henry out there somewhere who is turning 50 this year and is probably waiting with bated breath for her AARP card to arrive and she's not going to get it because they've sent it to me!

Yesterday, I got an email about author Donna Hill's guest appearence on a cyber TV show on Second Life. For those of you who aren't familiar with Second Life, it's a 3-D virtual world entirely built and owned by its residents. Since opening to the public in 2003, it has grown explosively and today is inhabited by a total of 8,360,141 Residents from around the globe.

A friend of mine introduced me to Second Life last year. Basically you create an avatar that represents you and you interact in this 3-D world. You can work, play, meet people, network, even attend classes and own property. It is not a video game. Authors and publishers are discovering the possiblities of promoting books on Second Life. Back in April there was the first cyber book fair. There are authors who own cyber bookstores and give regular readings of new work or host virtual book club discussions.

Donna Hill was a guest on the Second Life Cable Network show Authors In Your Pocket, which is hosted by publicist L. Peggy Hicks. Bestselling author Dean Koontz has also taken advantage of book promotion in Second Life by giving a reading of his latest book, The Good Guy, in Bantam Dell's virtual book cafe in Second Life. Okay, can you tell how cool I think this is, especially for someone as shy as me who's never been real big on face-to-face book events? It's been a while since I visited Second Life. But I plan to get back real soon. I think this is a fascinating approach to book promotion and could potentially open up a whole new audience for books.



Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Fabulous Freebies!

Check out this book video for Award-winning author Lynn Emery's A Darker Shade of Midnight, a serial paranormal suspense story she is making available for free online. A Darker Shade of Midnight continues the saga of characters from Lynn's first novel, Night Magic. The video was created with, a site where you can create free flash movies for your website.



Monday, July 23, 2007

What's the buzz?

How do you find out about new titles? That's the million-dollar question authors always ask: What's the best way to reach readers?

As a reader, word of mouth always works for me. I belong to two terrific online readers groups, RAW4ALL and Romance Noir. Members of these groups are voracious readers who provide helpful critiques of new and new-to-me books. From these groups, I've learned of titles such as One Dead Preacher by Tony Lindsay and Dirty Laundry by Paula Woods, which is part of her Charlotte Justice series.

My sister also is a voracious reader. Over the years, she's recommended several authors to me, including Barbara Neely, Walter Mosley and Beverly Jenkins.

I learned about Angela Henry, Pamela Samuels-Young and Gammy Singer through Angela's MystNoir Web site, If you haven't stopped by, you should. This award-winning site includes a list of new releases, book reviews and, my personal favorite feature, a bibliography of authors and their sleuths.

So, how do you learn about new releases and what authors can you recommend?


Friday, July 20, 2007

Calling All Aspiring Mystery Writers!

Polish up those manuscripts and get ready to submit!

Daniel J. Hale, Executive Vice President of Mystery Writers of America (MWA), and Andrew Martin, Vice President and Publisher of St. Martin's Minotaur are pleased to announce the first annual St. Martin's Minotaur/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition.

This contest provides a previously unpublished writer an opportunity to launch his or her career with a major mystery imprint, St. Martin's Minotaur. The winner will receive a one-book, $10,000 contract.

Entries will be accepted immediately through December 15, 2007. The winner will be recognized at the 2008 Edgar Awards banquet, and his or her novel published in 2009.

The competition is open to any writer who has never been the author of a published novel. Details, rules and specific guidelines on eligibility, as well as entry forms, are available at the St. Martin's Minotaur website.

The winner will then be recognized at the Edgar Awards Banquet in New York City in April 2008.

Good Luck!


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Paris Countdown!

Well, I'm roughly seven weeks away from my big trip to Paris. Everything is starting to come together nicely. I paid off the trip last week and, after paying double to get it expedited, I got my passport in the mail two weeks ago. But to be honest, I'm starting to get a little scared. Don't get me wrong, I'm also mega excited, and don't tell my friends and family because they are all in awe and praising me for my adventurous spirit. But suddenly the thought of going to Paris all by myself is starting to feel a little overwhelming, not to mention a little intimidating. There seem to be a million little details to attend to and decisions to make. For instance, what should I wear in Paris?

I know that sweats, white tennis shoes, and T-shirts with writing on them are a big no no in Paris and will instantly mark you as a tourist. However, I'm getting conflicting info about what exactly I should wear over there. Some say wear all black. Others say wearing all black isn't necessary. Some say don't wear jeans, while others say jeans are just fine. Some say wear comfortable walking shoes, while others say go for stylish and chic shoes. One thing everyone seems to agree on is to try and blend in and don't draw too much attention to yourself. So, I'm going to take the middle route and take jeans and clothing in neutral colors that include black, and comfortable, stylish shoes, if there is such a thing as comfortable AND stylish shoes. I hear scarves are also a must, though I'm not a scarf person at all.

Maybe it's my imagination but ever since I booked my trip it seems I've been noticing a lot of stories on the news about Paris. Last week, it was this story about a new book that was recently released and supposedly gives the real scoop on how singer Jim Morrison died. According to the book, it wasn't in a bathtub. Since I'm a sucker for every kind of mystery, I was all over this story and plan to read the book, just as soon as it's translated into to English that is.

I also found this story interesting. It seems Paris is trying really hard to shed it's image of being rude to tourists. The mayor of Paris is urging Parisians to be more polite to tourists, while urging tourists to try French products instead of running to the nearest Starbucks and McDonalds, though why anyone would go all the way to Paris and go to Starbucks and McDonalds is beyond me. I've often heard that as long as you don't act like a ugly American, and at least try and speak some French, the French are perfectly friendly. I guess I'll soon find out ; ).


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Reader's Entertainment TV

Bestselling author Kayla Perrin is just one of many authors appearing on Readers Entertainment Online TV, an online channel catering to books and readers. On May 3, 2007 Reader's Entertainment Online TV went live after over a year of preparation. Not surprising is that the online TV site is the brainchild of the CEO of Circle of Seven Productions, Sheila Clover English, who promoted the phrase "Book Trailer®" back in 2002, trademarked the term, and then began a 5-year campaign to make book videos an entertainment venue as well as an effective marketing and promotional tool for books, authors, and publishers.

Click here to see some of their content.

Click here for Circle of Seven's MySpace page.



Monday, July 16, 2007

The Plot Thickens

Last week, I attended the annual Romance Writers of America conference. I was pleased to learn that romantic suspense is still a popular subgenre since that's what I write. Publishers are actively looking for romantic suspense novels, but the suspense has to be well-written, an integral part of the plot and, well, suspenseful.

One of the editors gave a great example of plotting that I think applies to all genres and subgenres. To paraphrase her example, two cars leave New York with the intent of driving to Pittsburgh. Car A merges onto the interstate and arrives in Pittsburgh six hours later. Car B merges onto the same interstate at the same time. However, Car B's passengers are distracted by tourist attractions they find along the way and frequently leave the interstate to explore. As a result, Car B doesn't arrive in Pittsburgh until 12 hours later.

Those side trips are plot twists and turns that keep readers engaged in the story. Car A may be more efficient and arrive at the destination more quickly. But the unexpected side trips keep Car B's passengers more engaged in the journey.

It's like the mystery or romantic suspense in which you think you know where the author is going - but then she takes a sharp left turn. What are some of your favorite mysteries or suspense novels that kept you guessing with plot twists and turns?


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Today the Crime Sistahs welcome guest blogger Charlotte Morris!

Charlotte Morris is the Creative Director of CS Designs, a Northern California based Web Design Company. She is currently working on her first novel and with her remaining two and a half minutes of free time, she tries to enjoy life to its fullest.

Everything you never wanted to know about a mystery fan but were afraid to ask!

Okay, here’s the skinny – I am an unapologetic mystery fan. There, I said it. Yes it’s true, and no, I am not ashamed of the way I have chosen to live my life. I know, I know, you are asking yourself – how did this happen to such an enchanting person (at least I hope that’s what you are saying). Anyway, the truth is my fondness for mysteries started at a very young age. And I suppose like all mystery fans the memory of my first experience (with a mystery book silly) is still fresh in my mind. It was with a lively fictional character named Encyclopedia Brown. And yes, even at the tender age of eight, the young Mr. Brown rocked my world. But alas my time with Encyclopedia was destined to end, and by no coincidence it was when I reached “the end” of his first book. Nonetheless I am happy to report that I rebounded nicely.

It is now ‘x’ number of years later, and you know what, I am still gaga about mysteries. What can I say? It’s a personal preference. Sort of like someone who prefers French fries instead of a baked potato. Now I am not knocking any other literary genres, or any baked potato fans for that matter, but I know what I like. But in case you were wondering, yes, I have occasionally strayed and purchased a sultry romance or (gasp) a little urban fiction too. However, outside of those rare moments of weakness, I have managed to remain true to my mysteries. I just adore all the intrigue, and the not knowing what’s going to happen from one minute to the next, and especially the thrill of trying to solve each mystery on my own. So in closing I want to say thank you Angela, Gammy, Pamela and Patricia for indulging fans like me who have got it bad because what you write is so-o-o-o good.

By Charlotte Morris

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

In Firm Pursuit an Essence Bestseller!

Fellow CrimeSistah Pamela Samuels-Young's novel, In Firm Pursuit, has made Essence Magazine's August bestsellers list for paperback fiction! Congratulations, Pamela! You really deserve it!

So, if you haven't picked up your copy of In Firm Pursuit, go out and get a copy and see what you're missing.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Thirteen Bullets

I saw this book video posted on Publisher's Weekly last week and thought it was really good.

This short book trailer for David Wellington's book Thirteen Bullets was inspired by those infamous Dove ads. Remember the ads in which regular-looking women are digitally enhanced and turned into models? Wellington said his webmaster came up with the idea to parody the spots, replacing the regular women with a vampire, since Wellington’s book is about vampires. I think the end of the video is the most effective part.



Monday, July 09, 2007

Supreme Court decision

The June 28, 2007, U.S. Supreme Court decision that determined public school systems cannot take "explicit account" of a student's race to achieve or maintain diversity in their enrollment troubles me.

Some people protest the justices' decision on the basis of funding. Supporting schools through property taxes ensures that poorer communities will always be at a disadvantage. I dislike that. It's unfair.

But what hurts my heart is that the Court's decision deprives our country of a means of promoting diversity and cultural awareness.

My first year of college, one of my classmates was from a small rural community. He told me in his 18 years of life, he'd "only ever met half of a black person." There are so many things wrong with that statement. For purposes of this blog, I'll focus on just one. I'm dismayed that, in a country that publicly boasts of its cultural diversity, privately people can come from communities that never experience diversity and we're OK with that.

Perhaps using race as a factor in determining student body make up isn't the right solution. But I don't think as a country we should stop looking for a way to bring our diverse cultures together. If only so that one day no one will be able to say anything remotely like, "I've only ever met half of a (fill in the ethnicity) person."

What are your thoughts on this topic?


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Black Widow Agency

Author Felicia Donovan created the following video for her forthcoming book, BLACK WIDOW AGENCY, herself using windows movie maker. I think she did a great job and I can't wait to read the book. Here is a synopsis:

Meet the Black Widows. One is a sexy ex-cop who takes no prisoners. One is a gorgeous ex-hacker and social misfit. One can whip up a souffle or cut you down with her sassy mouth. One likes to stick by the rules even when the other three don't. They come in all shapes, sizes, colors and backgrounds, but they have one thing in common...they've all been wronged by their men.

Welcome to the Black Widow Agency, the only private investigative firm specializing in helping women get justice through the use of cutting-edge technology and good old-fashioned women's intuition.



Monday, July 02, 2007

Getting it right

People seem to think authors sit in front of the computer and, in a couple of weeks, maybe a month, their book is complete from beginning to end. If only it was that easy. There's a lot more to creating a story than typing words onto paper. For example, there's the research.

When I've mentioned research to non-writing friends, a few have said, "Just make it up. You're writing fiction." Once I'd recovered from the shock of their response, I pointed out instances in which they'd been annoyed by books, movies or television shows that were inaccurate.

Most authors I know - published as well as aspiring, regardless of genre - require some research to complete their story. Once an author captures a reader's attention, she doesn't want to lose her reader because of faulty details. A fire investigator doing a walk-through in a recently burnt building without protective gear. A police officer not securing a scene before the criminologists arrive. Mistakes like that will bump a reader right out of the story.

Some authors love research. While it's not high on my list of favorite things, I appreciate its value. While writing You Belong to Me, I read several books regarding independent film companies and movie production. For On Fire, I did a lot of research on fires and fire investigations. In fact, the research caused me to completely change two scenes from the original draft. Although that was a pain in the neck, I actually preferred the revised scenes.

My local writing chapter recently had the good fortune of hosting a presentation by a S.W.A.T. team leader. It was a very thorough, informative seminar that dispelled several myths and provided valuable insight into their personalities and private lives.

I've always had a fondness for the old S.W.A.T. TV series. I don't know whether it was the cool theme music, the action or the actors. I didn't like the movie as much, but I'd watch it again just to see LL Cool J.

Well, one of the myths the S.W.A.T. team leader dispelled was the average age of the officers. They aren't the youthful characters portrayed on film and TV. They're in their mid- to late 40s, and for a very good reason. The police departments want seasoned officers handling those volatile situations. Isn't that interesting?

As a reader, how important to you is accuracy in fiction novels? As a writer, have you come across any myth busters in your research?


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