Friday, September 28, 2007

The Group Thing

There’s an excellent article in the latest issue of O Magazine about The Finish Party, a writer’s group that formed in 2005 and consists of authors Nichelle Tramble, ZZ Packer, Lalita Tademy, Deborah Santana, Renee Swindle, Farai Chideya, Jacqueline Luckett, and Alyss Dixson.

I know a lot of authors who belong to writers groups and swear by them. I can completely see how appealing these groups can be. The feedback and fellowship between authors can be very gratifying. Personally, I prefer to go it alone. Not because I have anything against writers groups, or receiving or giving criticism, but because of my nature. I am very much a loner. I don't normally let anyone see what I’m working on except my agent and my editor. Maybe I’m shooting myself in the foot by not seeking extra feedback. But it seems to work for me. But, if I were to ever join a writers group, I hope it would be a group like the Finish Party. Sounds like these ladies have lots of fun and respect for each other.

And keep your fingers crossed, because I’m hoping to get the talented Nichelle Tramble over here one day soon for an interview. For those of you who don’t know, Nichelle is the author of two excellent mysteries, The Dying Ground and The Last King. Nichelle is also one of the writers for the new television series, The Women’s Murder Club, based on the James Patterson novels, which premiers October 12th.

Have a great weekend!


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Ooh La La!

Well, I'm back! Actually, I've been back for a week and have been playing catch-up with emails and work. I've finally gotten a free moment to blog about Paris. All I can say is WOW! What a city! Paris was every bit as amazing as I thought it would be. I walked around that city for a week on serious sensory overload. I hardly knew where to look. There was so much to see. You can take off walking in just about any direction, turn a corner, and run into a huge monument, or a statue, or a cathedral.

I stayed at this hotel, which is only a few blocks from the Eiffel Tower. Every night on the hour, for ten minutes, the tower lights up. It's amazing! My hotel was very European, very quaint, and very, very small. It only had about forty rooms, forty very small rooms. My room was the size of a college dorm room, with a very tiny bathroom. It also had a tiny elevator the size of a closet, which I avoided like the plague. Instead, I walked five winding flights of stairs several times everyday, which brings me to my other revelation about Paris. If you go, be prepared to walk, and walk, and walk! Paris is best seen on foot. I think I actually lost weight because my seat belt on the plane was a lot looser coming home than it was on the way there. Also, most of the buildings over there are hundreds of years old and have no elevators or escalators. Even the metro, which I became pro at riding, has lots of stairs to climb.

Since coming home, everyone has asked me about the food. Honestly, I didn't have a completely authentic French meal. Since a good French dinner in Paris can easily run hundreds of dollars, I usually made lunch my biggest meal, and had baguette and cheese and fruit, as well as lots of wine, for a light dinner in the evenings. I did have some very good ethnic food. One night I had a wonderful dinner at a Lebanese restaurant near my hotel with a fellow member of my tour group, a very nice divorced man from Toledo, who I think had way more than dinner in mind, and was old enough to be my father. Needless to say, he was sorely disappointed. LOL! Anyway, the main thing I was wanting to eat in Paris were pastries. I had some daily. The fresh raspberry, and strawberry tarts were my favorites, though the bread with chocolate baked inside were a close second.

Another thing I got asked a lot: Are the French really rude? To be honest, a few of them weren't very warm. But on the whole, I found them to be a whole lot friendlier than I'd expected. No one was blatantly rude. But then again, I tried really hard to be polite and always tried to speak French, which helps a lot. One thing that struck me while I was there was that Paris is truly a melting pot of cultures. There were people of every race living there. But as with every big city, there were also many homeless people and beggars. I never felt unsafe while walking around the city, but pick pockets are in abundance in Paris. One one my fellow tour mates from Australia, had her purse stolen while shopping. Thankfully, she only lost twenty euros and a credit card that she cancelled and that her bank quickly replaced.

All in all I had an amazing time! I can't wait to go back. Here are my top ten observations about Paris. And if you click here, you can see some of the pictures I took.

1. Everyone has a tiny little dog.

2. Everyone has a tiny little car.

3. No one makes eye contact on the metro.

4. Most people in Paris are smokers.

5. They drive like maniacs.

6. You're considered rude if you don't greet the shopkeeper upon entering a store.

7. Gas costs ten euros a gallon. Ouch!

8. American television is very big in France.

9. Most people eat dinner at around 9pm.

10. There's a wine store and a bakery on every block.



Monday, September 24, 2007

History of hate

Three nooses hanging from the tree on the grounds of Jena High School in Jena , Louisiana. A noose hanging outside of the University of Maryland’s Black Cultural Center. A noose hanging from the ceiling inside an insurance company’s office in Columbus, Ohio. The abduction, torture and sexual battery of a woman in Logan, West Virginia. And those are just recent examples I’m aware of.

With the exception of the violence in West Virginia – there’s no doubt that was a hate crime regardless of whether the courts want to try it as such – we’re left to wonder, is the inflammatory symbolism of nooses lost on this generation?

Don’t misunderstand. I firmly believe the perpetrators deliberately worked to intimidate an entire populous. But are the communities that dismiss the malicious violations as simple pranks aware of the images associated with those nooses? Or by sanitizing our schools’ history curriculums, are we opening an avenue for a new generation of “pranksters” who operate from an even more dangerous ignorance than racism itself?

That’s one of the reasons I believe history – in its entirety – must be preserved, studied and analyzed. If we don’t learn from history, we will recreate it. We can’t bury this country’s history in the ground, then expect to live in harmony over its grave. We’re hearing the cacophony of our past right now, loud and clear.

And let’s not pretend this is only Black American history. This is All American history. We will all stand or fall from this. There were white people meeting and demonstrating in Jena, Louisiana, Sept. 20, 2007, as well as black people.

Don’t depend solely on the educational system to teach us and/or our children what we need to know. Go to the book store. Go to the libraries. Talk to your neighbors; they may have experiences to share.

It’s important to live in the present; but let’s promise to never, ever let anyone forget our past.


Monday, September 17, 2007

Writers conference, signing

The Central Ohio Fiction Writers's (COFW's ) annual conference is Sept. 28 and Sept. 29, 2007. The event takes place at the University Hilton and Conference Center, 3110 Olentangy River Road, Columbus, OH 43202. More information is available on the group's Web site,

As part of the conference, COFW is hosting a Celebration of Authors from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Friday, Sept. 28. This event is free and open to the public. Yours truly will be there signing my romantic suspense novels, You Belong to Me and On Fire. If you're in the area, I hope you'll stop by and say hello.

The conference continues Sept. 29 with all-day writers workshops on a variety of craft and business topics. I'm co-presenting a workshop on marketing and promotion. Wish me luck.

Conference registration is still open so, if you're interested, I hope you'll log on to the Web site,, for more information.


Monday, September 10, 2007

Dwindling readership

I can no longer ignore the elephant in the room.

I read an article about a study that found fewer people read books in 2006. On average, last year, women read seven books and men read five. This confirmed a suspicion I’d had for a couple of years now that readers are becoming extinct.

Why is this happening?

I have a couple of theories, and I’ve heard a couple more. One theory is that people just don’t have time to read anymore. Personally, I can’t imagine not having time to read, but that’s just me. A co-worker often laments not having time to read. In the next breath, she shares a long list of television programs she watches faithfully, even taping them if she’s not going to be home. Hmmm. Perhaps if she turned off the television for half an hour to an hour, she’d have time to read. If she really wanted to.

In contrast, another co-worker is a single mother with two children, a full-time job and a good-size social network. She averages about two books a month.

Books have ever-increasing competition for time and discretionary income – Internet, cable television, computer games. It’s just a little disheartening that the competition seems to be winning. Adds a desperate edge to, “Read any good books lately?”

Do you have any theories regarding the dwindling readership?


Friday, September 07, 2007

Getting Into the Spirit

Well, tomorrow I leave for Paris! I'm pretty excited and pretty nervous. This will be my first trip overseas. I will be there a week and I hope I'll get a chance to see and do everything I've been wanting to do. There are so many museums I'm itching to visit and sites I've waited a lifetime to see. I know I'll be going here and here. But, I hope I get a chance to go here and here.

I plan to eats lots of these and these.

I even hear tell there's an Italian designer with a store here who designs clothes just for sizes 12 and up! I doubt I'll be able to afford anything. But I'm going anyway!

And speaking of travel, if any of you are going to be flying Southwest Airlines anytime this month, a brief excerpt of Diva's Last Curtain Call is featured in an article entitled Put the Mystery Into Your Travel in the latest issue of Spirit Magazine, Southwest's inflight magazine!

Have a good one, guys! I'll be back after the eighteenth with lots and lots of pictures!


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Digging Out From Under!

I'm back! I finally finished and turned in my proposal for my 5th book. Boy, am I glad to have gotten that out of the way. Next, I'd like to say a big Congratulations to my fellow Crime Sistah, Patricia, on her new book release ON FIRE!

I have been running seriously behind in my book trailer posts. There was a good blog article this week by Publishers Weekly contributing editor Barbara Vey about Book Trailers. So, to help catch up, here are two book trailers, one for Farrah Rochon's DELIVER ME and the other Cheryl Kay Tardif's WHALE SONG!



Monday, September 03, 2007

On shelves now

My latest romantic suspense is on book shelves now. (Well, officially tomorrow.)

To celebrate On Fire’s release, Coffee Time Romance, an online reader community, is generously hosting a book release party for me.

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

I hope you’ll join me. During the release party, we’re going to award prizes for the first correct response to our trivia questions. There will be five trivia questions based on information about You Belong to Me, On Fire and me. Answers to the trivia questions are on my Web site,, so stop by before – or during – the party.

Prizes include a promotional tote bag, a promotional sports bottle, a copy of Patti LaBelle’s greatest hits CD (the heroine is a big Patti LaBelle fan; several of Ms. LaBelle’s songs are mentioned in On Fire), a copy of You Belong to Me and a copy of On Fire.


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