Monday, August 27, 2007

In the mood

Saturday, I finally submitted the proposal for the second story in my Fire trilogy, tentatively titled Through the Fire. I love this series, the characters, their personal journeys and the suspense. But I had a really challenging time with the synopsis. Even though I’d gotten everything on paper – character goals, motivations, conflicts, suspense plot, romance plot, turning points – I sensed there was something wrong with it. I just couldn’t identify what it was.

For several days, I’d open the Word file, tighten the copy, move paragraphs around. Still the story summary wasn’t working for me, and I couldn’t put my mind to the problem.

About a week later, I had lunch with two friends who are also co-workers. These women are incredibly smart, spiritual and flat-out hilarious. They can make you laugh until you can’t breathe. They’re also very positive people. Even when they’re down, they have a great perspective on those challenges and refuse to be negative.

It wasn’t until after that lunch, I realized the negativity I’d been experiencing for the past couple of weeks at my day job had thrown a wet blanket over my writing. With my friends’ help, I was able to crawl out from under that blanket and take on a much more positive outlook.

That night, I went home, opened the Word file and fixed the synopsis. Eureka!

This long story is my way of saying it’s amazing the impact a writer’s mood has on her story. Have you had similar experiences you could share with us?

Before you leave, I’d like to invite you to On Fire’s online book release party. Coffee Time Romance, an Internet reader community, is generously hosting the party for me.

Date: Sept. 6, 2007
Time: 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. EST

I hope you’ll join me – and bring a friend.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007


I know I've been a bad blogger lately by neglecting my blogging duties. But I spent last week rushing to try and get my outline of book #5 done. I was almost finished last Friday when tragedy struck. I lost my flash drive with my almost completed outline! I know you're probably wondering why the hell I hadn't backed up my outline. Believe me. I'm usually VERY scrupulous about backing-up my work. However, I wrote a lot of my outline on Friday, when I wasn't home, and had to be at the dentist before I had a chance to save a copy to my home computer. The version I did have saved was only five chapters long. The version I lost was eighteen chapters long. OUCH!

I lost it somewhere between leaving work and getting home from the dentist's office. I had to have a procedure that required me to be put under local anesthesia. When I left the dentist I was still out of it, and according to my family, quite entertaining. I'm still hearing stories about the things I did. Apparently, I wandered through the house in my undies and asked the same questions over and over again. When someone would try and help me back to my bedroom, I would beat them off like a mugger! At least that's what they told me. I'm not even sure they're telling the truth because I remember NOTHING!

Okay, back to my flash drive. I have no idea where it is or what happened to it. I've looked everywhere including the freezer and the trash dumpster. But in my heart, I know it's gone. Someone probably found it laying on the ground or in the parking lot and pocketed my nice 2 gig flash drive. Oh, well! Crap happens. But, It does seem like it happens to me more than other people. The one good thing that's come out of this is that the outline I'm in the process of redoing is much better than the one I lost ; ).

Hopefully, I will be back to blogging next week. Or maybe not. I have to have another dental procedure on Monday and get to do the anesthesia thing all over again. YEAH!


Monday, August 20, 2007

Book reviews and Jon Bon Jovi

On Fire, my second romantic suspense, arrives in book stores in two weeks and one day. Not that I’m counting or anything. But the exact date is Sept. 4, 2007, if you’d care to put that on your calendar. :)

On Fire takes place in Charleston, West Virginia. The hero is a fire investigator. The heroine is a newspaper reporter. The two begin as adversaries but become allies when they realize the string of arsons they’re investigating is related to a series of murders.

I’ve already received two advance reviews, and I’m so relieved that they were strong, positive reviews. ChickLitGurrls (Shon Bacon) gave it a 4.5 out of 5 and called it a “suspenseful thriller.” Romantic Times Book Reviews (which reviews all genres of fiction; don’t let the magazine name mislead you) gave it a 4.5-star, fantastic, keeper review. The reviewer wrote, “Sargeant's scrupulous research coupled with terrific writing makes this a sensational and engrossing story.”

You're probably wondering what this has to do with Jon Bon Jovi.

I love watching biographies of successful people. What makes them successful? How do they keep moving forward? A couple of weekends ago, the Biography channel did a documentary on Jon Bon Jovi. At one point during the interview he talked about being nervous when it came time to produce his second album. And I quote, "You have your whole life to write your first album and this tiny window of time to write the second one."

I felt the same way when I was writing – or rewriting, actually – On Fire. After all, I had six years to polish my first romantic suspense, You Belong to Me, compared to nine months to rewrite On Fire. As a new author who’s still trying to find my writing pace and schedule, I was particularly nervous over how my second title would be received. That’s why the reviews were such a great relief.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Stay in your story

The other day at my day job – the I’ve-got-bills-to-pay job – I was talking to a co-worker who wants to write for television. She hasn’t made the plunge into pursuing that dream yet, but she is trying the water. This co-worker told me about an excerpt of Walter Mosley's This Year You Write Your Novel in the August 2007 O Magazine.

According to my co-worker, Mr. Mosley says writers should commit to writing three hours every day. Since I was surprised to hear this - and since I intend to read Mr. Mosley's book - I went to the store that evening to purchase the O Magazine issue. I read the excerpt and found my co-worker had misunderstood Mr. Mosley's point.

He writes at least three hours every morning. But the point he was trying to convey is the importance of staying in your story so you can connect your unconscious mind with your characters, your setting and your plot.

I agree wholeheartedly with his position. To get to the place where your characters are telling you their story - and stay there - it's important to write something each and every day. You may not be able to manage three hours every day, but can you manage one hour? And even if you're not adding pages of new words every day, can you add a paragraph?

I believe the first step is making that connection with your characters and your story. Once that connection is there, the words will come. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of Mr. Mosley's book.


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Meet Pamela Ridley!

I had the pleasure of meeting romantic suspense author Pamela Ridley at Book Expo American in Washington, DC last year when we both volunteered in the Sisters in Crime Booth. She's the author of BETWEEN TEARS, and the recently released, LIES TOO LONG, and has graciously agreed to to be interviewed.

Q. Tell us a little about yourself and how you realized you wanted to be a writer.

A. I grew up a voracious reader because I loved the idea of entering other worlds and lives via the written word. I wanted to create similar worlds and characters. Writing allows me to do that.

Q. Tell us about your new book, LIES TOO LONG.

A. LTL is a romantic suspense story. The protagonist, Laurel Novak, has a successful career life, but she struggles in the area of interpersonal relationships. When she ends up attracted to the wrong guy, a guy that her new best friend seems to connect with, she's prepared to move on. But out of nowhere, he shows interest and Laurel can't resist. She ends up pregnant with twins and the guy insists that she abort. When she refuses, things get ugly.

Q. Describe your road to publication.

A. This is my second book published by Genesis Press. The journey to this point represents a huge learning curve for me about the craft and the business end of it. Networking has helped tremendously.

Q. How do you come up with the ideas for your books?

A. This idea came from a Washington Post article that stated homicide was one of the leading causes of death for pregnant women. I take my ideas from the news or from philosophical questions I want to explore. For example, my first book, Between Tears, explored the idea of
what happens when someone does something seriously wrong like commit murder, for a seriously right reason.

Q. What kinds of things have you done to promote your books?

A. I attend conferences, hold a couple of book signings, publish shorter pieces on non-paying ezine sights for the exposure and place a few affordable ads on the Internet.

Q. Do you have a regular writing routine?

A. Not lately, but writing everyday is the way to go.

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

A. I have two completed novels that I want to revisit and my current work in progress is about
a woman who inherits her brother's lake house, discovers that he was murdered, and then sets out to find out who did it and bring the murderer to justice. This book includes my first interracial romance subplot.

Q. What kinds of books do you enjoy reading?

A. I love romance where the protagonist overcomes a serious setback and flourishes in the end.

Q. What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

A. Read books you love, read books about the writing craft, network with other writers, be open to learning and devote at least four hours of day to a writing-related activity be that actually writing or reading or critiquing or talking to fellow writer.

Q. How can readers learn more about your book and contact you?

A. This is my website: which includes an email address. The book should be
available at any bookstore or it can be ordered from Amazon.



Monday, August 06, 2007

Spotlight on Angela Henry

By day, Angela Henry is a reference specialist at a college library. But the multi-talented Henry also is the creator of the reader favorite Kendra Clayton mystery series. Kendra made her debut in 2004's The Company You Keep. Her series continues with Tangled Roots and the recently released Diva's Last Curtain Call.

Henry founded the award-winning MystNoir Web site. Launched in May 2000, the site promotes African-American mystery writers. USA named MystNoir a Hot Site. It's also been featured in Black Issues Book Review Magazine, and Art & Entertainment channel's chose it as a site of the week. Henry also is one of the original Crime Sistahs bloggers.

Angela, thank you so much for agreeing to discuss your writing and especially your successful Kendra Clayton mystery series.

Question: What is it about the mystery genre that appeals to you and why?
Angela Henry: I’ve always been drawn to the puzzle aspect of mysteries. I love following the clues and putting everything together to find the answer. It’s a challenge I look forward to every time I read or watch a mystery.

Question: You've mentioned you enjoy Barbara Neely's Blanche White series, Walter Mosley's Easy Rawlins and Paris Minton series, and Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. What is it about those authors and their series that inspired you?
Angela: Well, I’ve always been drawn to very character-driven mysteries. I love strong characters that come off of the page and the above-mentioned authors all have such great, memorable characters. I was inspired by their books to create a strong character of my own.

Question: How did you come up with the idea for the Kendra Clayton series? Did you always know you wanted Kendra to have her own series?
Angela: I always knew I wanted to write a mystery series. I wanted to create a series character that I’d yet to see in mystery fiction at the time I started writing my first book. A single, young, educated, African-American woman who wasn’t a member of law enforcement or a private eye, and didn’t live in a big city. Thus, Kendra Clayton was born.

Question: Do you plot your stories or do you wait to see where Kendra leads you?
Angela: I’m an avid outliner. I wasn’t with my first book. But I started with my second, and I think it really helps my plotting. But I never feel tied to my outlines. I usually stick to them about 85 percent and make changes as I see fit.

Question: What can we expect next from Kendra? How do you see her evolving over the series?
Angela: I recently turned in book four, and it involves murder and mayhem surrounding Kendra’s high school reunion. In the future, I see Kendra growing emotionally and realizing some things about herself in regard to her relationships with her family and friends. But don’t look for her to be any less nosy.

Question: You're a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. What are the benefits personally and professionally of belonging to those organizations?
Angela: Belonging to MWA and SinC offers so many opportunities to meet, network and connect with other authors. They also offer opportunities for members to attend book events and meet booksellers, librarians and readers. I even got the chance to meet and pitch my book to a Hollywood producer at a Sisters in Crime conference last year. The benefits of joining these organizations have been invaluable to me.

Question: You've received numerous credits, including honorable mention in Ebony Magazine's 10th Annual Gertrude Johnson William's Writing Contest for your short story, "Peaches of Mercy." To date, other than your writing contract, what's the best recognition you've received for your writing?
Angela: I’d have to say the best recognition I’ve received so far is when the Page Turners Book Club in Connecticut named my first book, The Company You Keep, as its 2006 Book of the Year. I was so flattered by that. It was a big honor.

Question: Can you tell us a bit about what you're working on now?
Angela: My agent is currently shopping a standalone mystery, and I’m putting together ideas for Kendra book five.

Question: What are you reading now and what are a few of the titles on your to-be-read list?
Angela: I’m currently reading Casanegra by Blair Underwood, Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes. I’m really enjoying it so far.

Question: Tell us a bit about How did you come to realize a venue was needed to promote African American mystery writers?
Angela: I founded MystNoir in May of 2000 because when I started looking for info on African-American mystery writers, I discovered there was very little info out there. So, I decided to start my own site and share the info I was finding. I also started the site to help promote African-American mystery writers whose books don’t get the attention they deserve.

Question: How did the Crime Sistahs blog get started, and what goals did you, Pamela Samuels-Young and Gammy Singer set for it?
Angela: I got the idea for the Crime Sistahs blog after seeing other authors forming group blogs. I didn’t know of any other African-American mystery authors blogging, so I approached Gammy and Pamela about starting a blog. We really didn’t have any goal other than to share our experiences as authors.

Question: What can we expect next from Angela? Will you create other series in addition to Kendra Clayton?
Angela: I’d love to write a YA fantasy novel one day and a horror novel. I don’t have any plans to do another series, but I’ll never say never.

Question: How can readers contact you, and how can we learn more about you and your novels?
Angela: They can e-mail me at Angelar.Henry @, and my Web site is


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