Friday, December 26, 2008

Seven Pounds

I saw a movie on Christmas Day that I feel compelled to write about: Will Smith's Seven Pounds. Critics have battered it.

Not to be contrary, I have to say that I liked it.

Yes, it made me weep. I was miserable for hours afterward, so miserable and disappointed about having seen a downer on Christmas Day that I slapped the poor guy who took me.

I'm not going to summarize the plot. You'll find that done elsewhere easily enough. I'm not going to regurgitate negative commentary here, either. I'll just say that while I agree with some of the comments, I disagree with their conclusions.

I agree that it was achingly sad, but ... I'm glad I saw it. Maybe I stayed in Europe for too long, where despair and the desire for redemption might be considered worthy subject matter, and where there's less preference for the contrived and saccharine storylines that we Americans strongly prefer.

The thing is, I do enjoy the contrived and saccharine. Very much so. They nourish my rather shaky sense of optimism. Having spent the last couple of months obsessing over the "realities" of life as we know it, and can expect it, through the prism of the esteemed New York Times, I was ready for the mindless relief of a truly heady dish of junk-food cinema, the deprivation of which led me to slap a really good friend. I wanted to laugh and be happy, especially on Christmas Day. Instead, I found myself weeping like an idiot, in public.

For a moment, I was furious.

But then I calmed down, and I realized that when all was said and done, it felt good to have downed this bit of cinematic medicine. This is indeed a movie that makes you want to call someone and say, "You won't believe this, but ..."

I wasn't the only one to dissolve into tears, and many in the audience burst into appreciative applause as the movie came to an end.

So, I don't give a damn what the critics say. I recommend Seven Pounds, especially if you're in the mood for a cathartic bout of weeping -- always a good thing to have, I'd say, at the end of the year.

Best wishes for very Happy Holidays,


P.S. There's still time to take part in the Win-an-iPod contest. Visit my site for details.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Rallying cry

Have you thought about one thing you'd like to accomplish in 2009?

Rallying cries help me stay focused on my annual goal. I started the practice in 2003. I noticed I was spending so much time volunteering for my local writing chapter that I was getting very little - if any - writing done. That made for a very miserable Patricia. If I wanted to get back to writing, I'd have to cut back on volunteering. Spend less time on others and more time on myself. That's why my 2003 rallying cry became "2003: The Year of Me."

Did I mention I like rhyming rallying cries?

Despite my best intentions, I still spent more time volunteering than writing, so 2004's rallying cry was "Me Once More."

Moving into 2005, I found a variation on the theme. I drastically cut back on volunteering for my group, but I earned a promotion at my day job. My savings account was very happy, but my writing continued to suffer. In fact, I considered giving up my dream of becoming a published author. My brother talked me out of that insanity. I'll never forget what he said. "Don't give up your dream. Don't ever give up your dream. Even if you just write one page a day, don't ever give up your dream." He's the best. And, to my credit, I listened to him. The rallying cry for 2005 became "Keeping the Dream Alive."

I don't recall the rallying cries for 2006, 2007 or 2008. Perhaps I never identified them. But I do have a rallying cry for 2009: Managing My Time. This rallying cry is very sincere. I've got to do a better job of time management. Too often I've found either time managing me or no one minding the store at all. Before I realize it hours have flown by and I haven't completed my tasks for the day. So, for 2009, I want to focus on time management.

What's one thing you'd like to accomplish for 2009?


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Carleen Brice--The Black Book Lady--Welcomes Non Black People To The African-American Book Section! Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

December is buy a book by a black author and give it to someone not black month!

Ever since Barack Obama's historic presidential win, many black authors, myself included, have been wondering--hoping--the Obama Effect will trickle down to the publishing world and publishers will finally realize that the typical baby mama drama, street lit, and erotica books don't wholly represent black people and our experiences.

But as with any business, publishing is a numbers game. All publishers see are the big sales and dollar signs attached to publishing such narrow views of black life. So all of our bitching and griping, no matter how valid, thus far has been to no avail. As Shon Bacon so aptly put it in her recent Blogging in Black post,"They want to see the numbers, they want to see the sales, they want to SEE the change."

But such change is going to be hard to come by if we can't widen our readerships. Just in time for the holidays, Author Carleen Brice started a blog to introduce non-black readers to books by black authors. She's urging us to buy our non black coworkers, friends, and acquaintances books by black authors for the holidays.

I think this is an excellent idea. I fully believe that readers of all races will buy and read books that appeal to them, no matter the race of the author, IF they know about them. I've received email from readers across the globe who told me they enjoy my books. So, I'm not buying into the idea that our books don't have mainstream appeal. Because at the end of the day we're all just people, people who share many of the same human experiences. And our books reflect that.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Giving thanks

I wish you and your loved ones a safe, happy and healthy Thanksgiving full of warmth, love and laughter.

I'm most thankful for my family. They're the foundation I stand on. I know no matter what life wings my way, with their help, I'll stay on my feet.

I'm thankful for my health. That's something I can't take for granted, especially with the cost of health care these days. As several of you reminded me around Labor Day, we've got to take care of ourselves. Get enough rest, eat right and exercise.

I'm thankful for my friends. It's a great comfort to pick up the phone and share with them what I'm going through, the good and the bad. Often they'll understand what I'm feeling because they've gone through the same or very similar situations also. One of my favorite sayings is, "A friend in need is a friend indeed." Would you agree?

What are you thankful for and why?


Monday, November 17, 2008

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Competition

Amazon and Penguin Group USA are partnering again on the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Competition.

The press release states the competition launches Feb. 2, 2009. Between Feb. 2 and Feb. 8, coordinators will accept 10,000 unpublished English-language novel-length manuscripts. Amazon editors will scale that number down to 2,000 entries for the second round. Amazon reviewers will narrow it further to 500 for quarter finalists. Publishers Weekly reviewers will select 100 semi-finalists. Penguin editors will evaluate the 100 semi-finalists and choose three finalists.

Sound daunting? Maybe a little.

Amazon customers will have seven days to vote for the grand prize winner from these three finalists. The winner will be announced on May 22, and will receive a publishing contract with Penguin, which includes a $25,000 advance.

For more details on the competition and its conditions, visit

Good luck!


Friday, November 14, 2008

On Rejection

"James Lee Burke had two literary books published as a young man, then couldn’t get published again until he turned to crime. Meanwhile, every year high six-figure advances get paid to authors who will have more copies in recycling plants than on bookshelves." - Dana King

I love this post on rejection by Dana King. Shows the nuttiness of it all.

- Persia

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Great minds think alike. . .especially when it comes to smut.

I mentioned a while ago that I was working on book 5 in my series when my publisher--excuse me, former publisher--pulled the plug on my series. In book 5 there is scene where my main character, Kendra Clayton, in the course of an investigation, shows up at what she thinks is an art studio but is actually a porn studio that just happens to be casting that day for a Star Wars inspired porn flick called Star Whores. If you've read my other books, you know that hilarity ensues when the people at the studio think Kendra is there to audition for the part of Jabba the Slut. It's my favorite part in the whole book and I had a blast writing it. 

Fast forward to last week.  I was reading movie reviews in People Magazine, trying to find out if there was anything at the theaters worth seeing, when I came across a review for a movie called Zack and Miri Make a Porno. I'd heard about this movie but didn't really know what it was about. And since it didn't sound like anything I'd be interested in seeing, I didn't pay it much attention. Then I read the review and my mouth fell open. Zack and Miri Make a Porno is about two cash strapped friends--Zack and Miri-- who decide to make a porn movie to sell on the internet to make some money. So what's the name of their sci fi porn movie? Star Whores!!!!!! What are the odds that we'd be using the same theme and title? 

Now, I know you're probably wondering why I'm so aggravated since the plug was pulled on my series. Well aside from the fact that someone else beat me to what I thought was a great idea, I've decided come hell or high water the next two Kendra books, which are already finished, will be published even if I have to do  it myself. So, I guess it's back to the drawing board. I'm going to have to rewrite the entire scene using a different movie. Any suggestions?

Angela ; )

Friday, November 07, 2008

Pinch Me! It's Real!

I'm still at that stage of trying to absorb it all. My 91-year-old mother and teenage daughter (who voted in her first election this year) seem more able to accept the reality of Obama's victory than I am. It. Is. Just. So. Wonderful.

And I do hope that people will be realistic and give the man a chance. It took years of bad decisions to get us into this mess, to send the country into this downward spiral. I'd be content if he'd just manage to put on the breaks.


As for me, I'm ...

Writing With My Eyes Closed

So that's what I'm doing today. I started doing it because of eye strain, but find it's really an enjoyable way to concentrate. The inner storyteller seems to be released. I can focus on the images in the my mind and describe them better. The NaNo writing's going well, well enough. I'm at that point where I'm already bored with the story, but I know from experience that that doesn't mean anything. It's a slow-moving story, not the kind of fast-paced narrative I usually strive to write. And it's sort of lacking a plot, sort of. We'll see. I'm happy with it. i'm happy with the lack of pressure that comes from just closing my eyes and letter the words come, without editorial judgment. It's nice. I'd love to hit 15,000 words today. Don't know if I will, but that's a goal. - Persia

Progress Meter Courtesy of Writertopia

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Did you vote today? If so, congratulations! If not, don't forget to vote! Every vote counts! Get out and VOTE!!!

I was in line this morning for an hour and a half, which is nothing compared to the wait some people across the country will have today. Some of the people waiting in line with me were so busy running their mouths and yakking on their cell phones they didn't realize they were in line for the wrong precinct. A couple of them got pissed and left without voting. So pay attention people! There are volunteers at the polls who are there to help you. If you don't know where you should be, just ask! It's not rocket science. You're not performing brain surgery. You don't need a PhD. Okay. Rant over. Just Vote!

Happy election day!


Friday, October 31, 2008

My New Website's Up!

Hi Everyone,

For the past ten years, I've done my own website. The results were pretty decent if I say so myself, but last year, I decided I wanted to give myself the luxury of having a profi do it, and this year (early this year), I hired the team at AuthorBytes. For various reasons, finding artwork being the main one, it took several months to get the site up. Well, it's finally there. Check it out, okay?

The site comes up just in time for NaNoWriMo. Pat mentioned in a post earlier this week. I am an unabashed NaNo fan. This will be my third, or is it fourth, NaNo. In the first one, I managed to write the 50,000 manuscript. It became Darkness and the Devil Behind Me. The second NaNo I signed up for, but never really worked at. Too many things were going on. The third one I finished also. This fourth one, I'm totally committed to.

I find that the writing marathon that is NaNo helps me outrun my inner critic. So many times writers try to edit themselves as they write. These are two conflicting mindsets and the result can be a form of creative paralysis, sometimes known as writer's block. The fun thing about NaNo is that there's a release from the often self-imposed requirement that the first draft be good. We all know, under such a writing deadline, that the first draft will most likely be horrible -- and so we're sometimes pleasantly surprised to see that we've not only finished the target number, but have also come up with a fairly decent story. The story might not even be finished -- that doesn't matter. What matters is the word count.

Can you imagine? Not having to worry about quality or perfection? It's an incredible idea for a perfectionist who fusses over every line. And it's a wonderful excercise for people who write one or two or maybe even three chapters, and then spend months, sometimes years, polishing those same chapters, over and over again, and wonder why it is they can't finish the book. NaNo forces you to move beyond the first chapters. It forces you to write to the point of exhaustion -- and it's fun, because you're not doing it alone. You're doing it with hundreds of thousands of other nutcases around the world. :-)

So if you're thinking about writing, join NaNo. I hang out in the Mystery Genre Forum. You can reach me there, or stop by my brand new website and drop me a note. I'd love to hear from you.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Books By the Banks

For those of you in the Ohio/Kentucky/Indiana area looking for something to do this Saturday November 1st, the second annual Books By The Banks: Cincinnati USA Book Festival will be held in downtown Cincinnati at the Duke Energy Center from 10am - 4pm. Admission is free and open to the public. There will be over 90 local and regional authors, book  signings,  panel discussions, and activities for the entire family. 

I will be there all day signing copies of Diva's Last Curtain Call. I'll also be participating in a panel discussion: Voices in Contemporary African-American Fiction for Women along with authors Carmen Glenn, Sheila Williams, and Gayle Price Thomas from 10 -11 am in room 235. The panel will be moderated by Kathy Y. Wilson of Cincinnati Magazine

I hope you can come out! I'd love to meet you ; ).


Sunday, October 26, 2008


I'm curious. Have you tried NaNoWriMo? It's the writing challenge that takes place every November.
Participants sign up with a national writing loop with the goal of writing 50,000 words by the end of the month. This year's NaNoWriMo starts Saturday, Nov. 1.

Have you ever tried it? If so, what did you think? Were you successful? Did it inspire you?

I've considered joining NaNoWriMo, but I don't think I'd be able to write 50,000 words in one month, primarily because of my full-time job. But perhaps I'm wrong. Have those of you with full-time jobs in addition to your writing career participated in NaNoWriMo? If so, did you meet the 50,000-word challenge? If not, how close did you get?

I'd love to pick your brains about NaNoWriMo. I'm not officially joining this year, but I do hope to start my next manuscript Nov. 1. Let's see how much I get done by Dec. 1.

So, please tell me what you think about NaNoWriMo and whether you'd recommend the event.

Oh, and remember, the Ohio Romance Authors' Halloween contest starts today. If you have time, I'd love for you to check it out.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pub News You Can Use

Check out this article about author Clyde W. Ford's 20 minute film for his new thriller Precious Cargo--narrated by Morgan Freeman--and developing a new software system that allows readers to virtually visit locations featured in the book using Microsoft's Virtual Earth.

Read here about how first-time author and social and environmental activist Van Jones's new book , The Green Collar Economy, became a New York Times Best Seller with an almost nonexistent marketing budget.

Ever wonder why some books don't get picked up by Border's. Click here for the answer.

Today Show producer Jaclyn Levin gives tips on how authors--even self-published ones--can get booked on the show.

Want to know why author MJ Rose is giving away her last book The Reincarnationist? Click here to find out AND download the book for FREE!

Pitchengine uses social networking tools to create web-based press releases that include images, video, networking links, and more.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Halloween Reader Appreciation Contest

I'm sorry for the late Monday post. I lost track of time last night.

Members of my group MySpace page, Ohio Romance Authors, are hosting a reader appreciation contest. The contest starts next Monday, Oct. 27, 2008, and ends Friday, Oct. 31, 2008. If you have the time - and the interest - you can visit the site and submit a comment on any or all of the blogs posted during that time.

On Oct. 31 - Halloween - one of the authors will select one of the commenters as the grand prize winner of the following:
Becky Barker, Chameleons
Jules Bennett, Naked Vengeance
Jacki Bentley, Blood Bond

Brit Blaise, Slayer Inc.
Dianne Castell, Hot and Bothered
Paige Cuccaro, Medusa's Folly, gargoyle statue
Carol Ann Erhardt, Twisted Spell; and Hit and Run
Lori Foster, The Watson Brothers; Caught; and I'm Your Santa
Tabitha Gibson, Rose Petals Volume 1 anthology (Tabitha Gibson, et al)
Marcia James, At Her Command, stuffed dog
Donna MacMeans, The Trouble with Moonlight
Janie Mason, The Power of Love anthology (Lori Foster, et al)
Erin McCarthy, First Blood
Jayne Rylon, Picture Perfect and an autographed cover flat of Nice and Naughty
Patricia Sargeant, The Mistress Diaries by Julianne MacLean
Kay Stockham, His Son's Teacher

Sandy Wickersham-McWhorter, Cottonwood Place

I hope you'll stop by.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Larger-than-life characters

As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm reading Donald Maas's Writing the Breakout Novel. I've just started his chapter on characters.

Characters can make or break a story. I think we all know that. I've read books in which the plot was circuitous. The writing needed a bit more polish. But the characters! Oh, the characters! I loved them. I wanted to know what they would do next. I wanted to make sure they'd be OK. I couldn't put the book down because of the characters. And years later, I still remember them.

Years ago, I attended a seminar by a multi-published, award-winning author. She said successful authors create characters who are "larger than life." I'd heard the term before, but I still didn't understand what it meant. What exactly were larger-than-life characters?

After the seminar, I popped a movie into my VCR and climbed onto my treadmill to exercise. The movie was Frequency starring Denis Quaid and James Caviezel. Have you seen it? The Aurora Borealis creates a rift in time that allows a police officer son in the present (Caviezel) to communicate with his now-deceased firefighter father 30 years in the past (Quaid). The son helps his father stop the serial killer who kills his mother in the past.

Are you still with me?

OK. While on the treadmill, I watched the scene in which the serial killer chases Quaid's character. That's when it hit me. Larger-than-life-characters are ordinary people driven to extraordinary behavior in desperate situations. Like Quaid's character who needs to stop a serial killer before he kills his wife.

Maas uses as an example of a larger-than-life-character James Patterson's Alex Cross. His moral compass and determination to do the right thing lifts him from ordinary to extraordinary - or larger than life.

Bringing this a bit closer to home, Angela's Kendra Clayton series takes an ordinary heroine who's driven to extraordinary behavior to save her friends and family.

In On Fire, my romantic suspense, a newspaper reporter needs to find the real arsonist to prove her lover's innocence.

Can you share examples of larger-than-life characters with us?


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Hello Everyone,

So I'm dropping in (out of nowhere), with no apologies for (how many) months of no-show? :-)

Can I say that my thoughts have been with you all? Like my Crime Sistahs and, I'm sure, with many of you, the last few months have been packed with changes. I spent the summer in France (yes, it was fantastic), working on my newest manuscript (yes, I made progress, but no it's not done), and now I'm preparing to attend Bouchercon '08. I'll arrive in Baltimore on Thursday and stay through Sunday. On Saturday. I'll on a panel about amateur detectives, "Keeping It Real." (The title speaks for itself, don't you think?)

But the real reason I finally decided to post today after this embarrassingly long silence was to bring notice to a particularly marvelous, insightful and spot-on column that's appearing in the Baltimore Sun online. Fellow Bouchercon attendee Austin Camacho writes about black detectives. His topic: Black Ain’t Nothing But a Detective’s Color. He writes: "His topic: Black Ain’t Nothing But a Detective’s Color. Camacho writes:

"It’s not about race. It’s about the characters. It’s about the mystery.”

Camacho writes a hardboiled series, featuring detective Hannibal Jones, set in Washington DC. In this column, he notes how commentators always want to call Jones a "black detective, as if that were its own genre." He goes on to state, "If my work must fall into a subgenre, let it just be hardboiled detective fiction."

Thus Camacho touches upon an issue that continues to face many of us: If you are of the darker genus, then your work is often categorized first by your ethnicity, and then by, belatedly, by its literary genre. Thus, we have romance, then we have "black romance;" we have mysteries, then we have "black mysteries," etc.

Camacho then goes on to write what amounts to a fantastic tutorial on the nuances of noir and hardboiled detective stories. I loved it and hardily recommend it. And when I see Camacho this weekend, I'm going to let him know it.

I hope to also see some of you this weekend. If you're in the area, then please don't hesitate to walk up and say hello.

In the meantime, take care and God bless.



(This is not my regular column day (that's Friday) and I want to thank my Crime Sistah for letting me put my two-cents in on her day.)

Sunday, October 05, 2008

National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

I wanted to take today to acknowledge that October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

You may recall that, in June, I participated with 11 other authors in the benefits anthology, The Power of Love. If you have a moment, I hope you'll take a look at the anthology. Details are on my Web site. All of the authors and our agents are donating all of our proceeds from that anthology to a battered women's shelter. With the way proceeds from book sales are paid, you could say the anthology is a gift that will keep on giving to the shelter.

But that's not what I wanted to talk about with you today, sister to sister.

Domestic violence statistics are tragically familiar. Annually, 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by their partner. One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. And 50 percent of men who frequently assault their wives also abuse their children.

If you or someone you know is in trouble, please remember help is available. The National Domestic Violence Hotline has a 24/7 toll-free number, 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Breakout Book

I'm reading Donald Maas's Writing the Breakout Novel. Have you read it? It's challenging my story ideas, which of course is Donald Mass's point. You don't want to write A Story; you want to write A Breakout Story.

Donald Maas asks a lot of pointed questions, including:
- Why are you writing this story?
- If you stopped writing this story, why would it matter?

Hmmm. Good questions. Can we answer them? I'll go first.

I usually find the purpose for the stories I write in the themes the characters are trying to convey. I think I may have mentioned that before. If I have trouble with a scene, I go back to my theme.

For example, in my last romantic suspense, On Fire, the theme is trust. I wrote the story to express my belief that trust is a vital part of any relationship. If I didn't write that story, I wouldn't be able to express how a lack of trust could destroy a relationship.

In my contemporary romance, which I just completed, Sweet Deception, the theme is identity. That story is important because the conflict is one a lot of people, especially women, experience. Do you define yourself or do you allow others to define you? In addition to entertaining readers, I hope the story inspires those in similar situations to define themselves.

What about you? Why are you writing your story?


Monday, September 22, 2008

Industry news

Author Cindi Myers provides a free monthly e-newsletter that provides information on the publishing industry - updates on what publishers are looking for, personnel changes, contests, etc. If you're interested in subscribing to this newsletter - it's free - send a blank e-mail to cynthiasterling-subscribe@yahoogroups. com. In the meantime, I've pasted the parts of Cindi's September e-newsletter that pertained to mystery, suspense, crime and thriller publishers below.


Mystery Writers of America and St Martin's Minotaur is sponsoring a Best First Crime Novel competition. The grand prize is a $10,000 advance and publishing contract with St Martin's Minotaur. The contest is open to any writer who has not previously published a novel. You must submit a manuscript of at least 60,000 words in which a crime is at the heart of the story. Entries must be postmarked by Nov. 30, 2008. Details are available at or (Last year this contest received only 400+ entries. So far this year, submissions are down, so your odds are good.)

Benjamin LeRoy founded Bleak House Books in 1995. The Madison, Wisconsin-based company publishes approximately 20 titles a year, focusing on crime fiction and dark literary fiction. These are character-driven stories featuring flawed protagonists. Several Bleak House titles have been nominated for Edgar awards. The company will consider unagented submissions, though they want to see a query only at first. Detailed submission guidelines -- be sure to follow them -- are available at Also, check out the blog and some of their upcoming titles to get a feel for what they're looking for.

Daniela Rapp is an editor at St. Martin's Press, where she acquires thrillers, mysteries, literary fiction and upmarket women's fiction, as well as narrative non-fiction. St. Martin's press accepts only agented submissions.

Faith Black is an associate editor at Avalon Books. Avalon publishes romance, mystery and westerns, in hardcover, primarily for the library market. Avalon stories contain no graphic violence, no swearing and no sex -- "good stories and wholesome entertainment." The books are short -- 40,000 to 60,000 words. Avalon accepts unagented material. See their submission guidelines at They also have an FAQ page with a lot of useful information.

Denise Little, executive editor at Tekno Books has worked in almost every aspect of the publishing industry. She was the national book buyer for Barnes & Noble before she joined Kensington Publishing in 1993, where she oversaw her own romance imprint, Denise Little Presents. She has been executive editor at Tekno Books since 1997. Tekno is a book packager. A packager acquires and oversees projects that are then sold to various publishers. Tekno acquires titles for Five Star Books. Like Avalon, Five Star publishes hardcover titles, primarily for the library market. Five Star Expressions is the company's romance and women's fiction line. They're looking for 75,000- to 100,000-word manuscripts in any sub-genre of romance, including contemporary, historical, inspirational, sweet romance, romantic comedy, romantic suspense, time travel, fantasy and paranormal and gothic romance. They will also consider chick lit. They also publish women's fiction. . Five Star also publishes mystery of 75,000 to 100,000 words. They are interested in cozies, private detectives, hard-boiled mystery, suspense, techno-thrillers and historical mystery. They pay a $1,000 advance against royalties. They accept unagented submissions, but not simultaneous submissions. They accept e-mail submissions only. For guidelines and more information, e-mail Rosalind Greenberg at


Good luck, and happy writing!


Friday, September 19, 2008

The Other Call

I know. I know. I've been seriously shirking my blogging duties. I didn't mean to disappear. I had a really good excuse. I've been writing my hiney off working on two books. Or at least I was, until I got a call last Friday that changed everything. It was the call the every author dreads. While I was rushing to finish book five in my Kendra Clayton series, my agent called to inform me that my publisher, Kimani Press, has decided not to publish my next book, which was scheduled for a 2009 release. The official reason given was that they're moving in a different direction towards edgier, sexier books. My little small town murder mysteries don't fit in with this new direction and apparently weren't cutting the mustard sale wise, either.

Honestly, I saw this coming a mile away. Back when I was first told my fourth book was being postponed I had a sinking feeling something was up. If you follow the publishing world as closely as I do, you learn that postponed usually ends up meaning cancelled. But I remained hopeful and kept writing. As for what will happen with my series I can't say anything for certain except that Kimani Press is out of the picture. Whether I can find a new publisher for the series remains to be seen since I've heard it's really hard to find a new publisher for an existing series. But I remain hopeful. I'll keep you posted ; ).

Have a great weekend!


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Coming back

I'm sorry I've been missing in action for the past two weeks. That wasn't my intention at all.

The draft for my contemporary romance, Sweet Deception, was due to my editor Labor Day, Sept. 1, 2008. I made my deadline with five minutes to spare. But that rush to the end gave me a tension headache and eye strain. Or maybe the headache was a byproduct of the eye strain.

I thought a nap would help me feel better. I'd planned to start my next two projects - a romantic suspense proposal and the proposal for my second contemporary - after the nap. Silly me. I needed a lot more than just a nap.

Have you ever been completely wiped out after completing your manuscript? I felt as though my nerve endings had been fried. Although I was really tired after the long days of heavy revisions, I felt edgy and restless the entire week. Does that sound familiar?

Some people say they're depressed after completing their manuscript because it's hard to leave their characters. I don't feel that way. I'm excited to have told my characters' story. I love this book, and I really hope my editor does, too. But now I'm ready to move on to the next project. I feel as though I'm finally coming back to myself.

How do you feel after completing your manuscripts, and how do you celebrate your accomplishment?


Friday, August 22, 2008

Book News You Can Use

Dust off those short stories because Essence Magazine is having another short Fiction contest!

Check out this interview with author/publisher Karen Hunter about her new imprint with Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster. is a site where readers can view book trailers and authors and publishers can have another outlet to showcase their books trailers.

Arabesque, a division of my publisher Kimani Press, is supporting St. Jude Children's Research Hospital through a fall 2008 book series, Novels of Hope. National best selling authors Sandra Kitt and Gwynne Forster have crafted two heartwarming novels that will bring awareness to the life-saving mission of St. Jude. Click here to read how you can become a Partner in Hope.

Voting continues for the 4th annual African-American Literary Awards Show nominees. Get those votes in before September 5th! (hint hint!)

Have greet weekend!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Book videos: You Belong to Me, On Fire

I wanted to share with you book videos for my romantic suspense releases, You Belong to Me and On Fire. My husband, who's a videographer/editor, created them. I'm very proud of his work.

Here's the link to the You Belong to Me video and here's the one for the On Fire video. Don't forget to select the "watch in high quality" option, which appears under the "Views" counter. I hope you enjoy the videos!

Happy reading and writing!


Monday, August 04, 2008


I must be living under a rock these days because I just found out that Diva's Last Curtain Call was nominated for an Open Book Award for Best Mystery by the African-American Literary Awards Show! My publisher, Kimani Press, was also nominated for Publisher of the Year! The nominees were announced last week and are voted on by the public. Click here to see the complete list of nominees and to vote for me (Pretty Please!). Voting ends September 5th and the winners will be announced in a live ceremony on September 25th at the Harlem Gatehouse in NYC! I'm so so honored! And so so surprised!!

Angela ; )

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Creative boosts

Last week, we talked about our creative spots; the place - or places - where we're the most productive with our writing.

This week, I'd like to chat about our creative boosts; what we do when we're having trouble with a scene or a chapter or maybe even the entire work in progress.

Some of my writer friends read the last couple of pages or scenes to get back into the story. Other friends re-read the synopsis to get back into the creative flow. I've found both of these suggestions very helpful. Have you ever tried either or both of these tricks?

I have a process. As I may have mentioned, I do most of my writing at night. I get home from my day job, have dinner and take care of a few chores. Then I exercise. While exercising, I'll think about where I am in the story and where I need to go. Then, in the shower, I'll talk through my next scene. Yes, that's right. I'll talk it through. Out loud. But, hey. I'm in the shower. The water's running. And, even if my husband hears me, he doesn't become overly concerned.

So, what are some of your tips for getting the creative juices flowing?

Write happy!


Monday, July 28, 2008

Your creative spot

On one of my authors e-mail loops, someone brought up the subject of where she does her best writing. Most of the authors who responded to this conversation thread said they had one particular location in which they preferred to write also.

One author said whenever she moved, it took her six months to get acclimated enough to her new home to start writing again. Another author said she'd tried but failed to write anywhere other than her home office.

What about you? Do you have one particular space in which you prefer to write? Your creative spot, so to speak?

I'm not so particular. Perhaps it's because I write in my day job, too, that I'm able to fairly easily change my creative locale. I've written in my kitchen as well as a home office I shared with my husband.

I really got mobile when my husband bought me a laptop for my birthday several years ago. Since then, I've written in the dining room, living room, family room, bedroom, hotel rooms, family guest rooms and libraries. This ability to pretty much write anywhere comes in handy for someone who writes as slowly as I do. Truly, missing one day of writing could set me back a week. Or more.

So what about you? Do you have one particular spot in which you prefer to write or can you pretty much write anywhere?

Until next time, happy writing!


Monday, July 21, 2008

Point of view

Point of view - POV - is one of our most powerful writing tools. Select the correct character's POV and your reader will feel the scene's emotion: love, hate, anger, fear, sorrow, joy. You'll actually put your reader in the scene. The correct POV can heighten the suspense, add information, explain a plot point all without slowing the story.

While watching The Closer last Monday, I experienced first-hand the power of the right POV. Have you ever seen The Closer? Here's a brief set up. The main character in the ensemble cast is Chief Brenda Lee Johnson of the Los Angeles Police Department. She's engaged to Fritz, an FBI agent assigned to the bureau's Los Angeles Office.

Spoiler alert in case you taped the episode and haven't watched it yet.

In past episodes, Fritz's role has frustrated me. He's almost a gofer for Brenda. She calls him and demands his help with her cases. He went along with her plan to hide their relationship from her parents. In last week's episode, they couldn't get their bathroom fixed because Brenda didn't want their landlord to know she has a cat in the apartment. This meant they couldn't use their home bathroom.

I wondered why Fritz put up with Brenda's challenging personality. Then I watched Monday's episode. In one of the subplots, Brenda learns from another character that Fritz has two driving under the influence charges on his record. She was furious and confronted Fritz.

In Brenda's POV, Fritz was in the wrong. She called Fritz a liar and said she didn't know whether she trusted him enough to marry him anymore. And in Brenda's POV, I was angry with Fritz, too.

Toward the end of the episode, we heard from Fritz. In his POV, he didn't lie. He'd told Brenda he didn't drink because he was allergic to alcohol. He didn't tell her about the DUIs because they were in his past; he had his problem under control. But the biggest bomb in his POV was when Fritz said Brenda had a lot of nerve condemning him as a liar when she was a liar herself.

Now that set Brenda and I both back. And Fritz supported his argument by pointing out that he'd cooperated when Brenda didn't want to tell her parents about their relationship. He'd also cooperated when she didn't want the landlord to find out about her cat - even though that lie meant he couldn't use the bathroom in his own apartment.

Fritz ended the scene by expressing his hurt and outrage that he'd accepted her weaknesses but she would threaten their relationship because of his. He said, and I'm paraphrasing, "I understand people's weaknesses because I sure have enough of my own."

Yeah. That last line made Brenda and I feel pretty small.

I don't know whether I'm doing a good job conveying the power in that scene. It's stayed with me and fascinated me for so many reasons. The timing, for one. We saw the relationship develop through Brenda's POV. But when that relationship was threatened, we finally saw it through Fritz's POV. It also reinforced the message that there's always more than one side to a story.

How do you decide which character's POV to use during a scene?


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

We All Scream for Ice Cream!

Today I read on USA that Ben & Jerry's has created a tribute ice cream flavor for Elton John called, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, which consists of chocolate ice cream, peanut butter cookie dough, butter brickle, and white chocolate chunks. Proceeds of the ice cream will be donated to the Elton John AIDS Foundation. Sounds fabulous! I can't wait to try it. 

I would love to have an ice cream flavor created just for me.  It would have chocolate ice cream, brownie bites, Reese Cup chunks, chocolate fudge, and chocolate covered almonds. What would I call it? That's a hard one. Here's a list of potential names. Vote on your favorite in the comments section, or come up with a good one of your own, by midnight July 17th and I'll draw an entry at random and send that person a free book!

Murder on the Chocolate Express
Chocolate Victim
Mystery Chocolate
Chocolate Killed Me
Chocolate Death!

PS: Death By Chocolate is already taken.


Monday, July 07, 2008

Replenishing the well

Sometimes we put such intense expectations on ourselves that we lose focus on the fact that we're not machines. We're humans. This means sometimes - once in a while - we need to completely forget about the eight-to-five job, the manuscript deadline, the household appliances that either need to be fixed or replaced, and indulge in some good old-fashioned fun. That's what I did this weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

In the interest of full disclosure, I had reservations about letting an entire weekend go by without checking in on my task list, especially the manuscript that's due any. Minute. Now. But, man, was it worth it.

I had great workouts every day, although Saturday and Sunday, I wanted to ignore the alarm clock. I cooked at home instead of eating on the run. I saw Will Smith's new movie, Hancock - and can definitely recommend it.

Now, as I sit here writing this post, I feel so much better. Much more relaxed. Remember that cranky post I shared with you last Monday? I was wound so tight, I was sure I'd snap. I've seriously mellowed over the weekend.

So, let's write this down. We won't go to hell if we take a weekend off to unwind, recharge our batteries and replenish our wells.

Until next time, write happy!


Thursday, July 03, 2008


I happened to be flipping through the latest issue of Jet today, the one with Jordin Sparks on the cover, and came across an interesting ad for an interactive online sweepstakes from Toyota called "If Looks Could Kill". Apparently, Toyota has teamed with Essence magazine to try to get more African-American women interested in buying the 2009 Toyota Camry. The grand prize is (surprise) a 2009 Camry. But there are other weekly prizes as well, including a trip to Paris!

The game started on June 9th, runs for 7 weeks, and is centered around a website that features weekly webisodes revolving around Bianca Turner, an African-America fashion designer who finds herself caught up in espionage. Bianca uses her trusty Camry's features, as well as audience participation, to get herself out of each week's dilemma. Check out the trailer.

I think this is a pretty cool and interesting campaign on Toyota's part. I'd be very interested to see stats on whether this actually boosted sales of Camrys to black women. I'm even planning to sign up to play the game. However, Toyota has its work cut out for it when it comes to trying to get me to buy a car. With gas prices skyrocketing, and no end in sight, my next vehicle will most likely be one of these.

Have a safe and happy 4th everyone!


Monday, June 30, 2008


I'm in Revision Purgatory right now with the contemporary romance I'm writing for Kensington Publishing. I love the story, but it's slowly killing me, which is the reason this post is so cranky.

I borrowed from Jennifer Cruisie's lingo and dubbed my first draft the Don't-Look-Down draft. This basically means you just write the story. You don't worry about typos or grammar, and you certainly don't worry about any of the Writing Rules - point of view, the five senses, showing vs. telling. You just write.

Which appears to be fine - until you come to the revision stage and realize what you have is Blue Ribbon Drivel. I'm confident the story will shine like fine jewelry by the time I have to hand it in to my editor. It's getting to that shine that I'm struggling with.

During the Don't-Look-Down draft, I focus on the action: who does what, where, when, why and how. While revising, I layer in the five senses - what the characters see, hear, smell, taste and feel - and I dig deeper for the emotions. I also focus on making my characters individuals rather than having them all sound and react alike. After all, these aren't meant to be Stepford Children.

I'm going to end this cranky post and get back to my revisions.

I hope everyone has a safe, happy and healthy Independence Week!


Friday, June 27, 2008

Book Booty

Just a quick note today. There's a great entry on "Paper Cuts," the New York Times' blog about books. It's about the little promotional items that writers/publishers send out with books in the hopes of convincing the recipient, usually a book reviewer, to review the book.

In addition, there's a wonderful slide show that features photographs of a variety of items, "book booty," as the Times' calls it. Click here to see it.

I'm sure that, after reading the entry and seeing the slide show, you'll wonder about the efficacy of using promotional gadgetry -- at least when it comes to reviewers.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Royalties & Reality

Many authors’ dreams of making writing their full time gig. I know I do. To be able to support myself solely through my writing is my ultimate goal. Only I need money to do that. The only way to earn enough money to write full time is to get multiple book contracts, and sell lots and lots of books, which is easier said than done.

There is no real way for an author to tell how many books they’re selling. You can ask your editor but they don’t have access to all the sales data. Amazon rankings mean nothing as do Ingram sales and demand numbers. So, you’re stuck fantasizing about your books selling like hot cakes, while waiting for something you get in the mail twice a year to give you an idea of how well your books are truly selling. . . your royalty statement. Of course they should be renamed Royal Pain in the Ass.

Nothing snaps you back to reality like getting a royalty statement. Forget the fact that they’re about as easy to understand as hieroglyphics. Usually, the big numbers you’ve fantasized about turn out to be just that, a fantasy. Add the tiny royalty check you got, or didn’t get, to the mix and those full time writing dreams go up in smoke.

But royalty statements can also be very informative. For instance, my first book, THE COMPANY YOU KEEP, released in ’05 and released in mass market in ’06, remains my biggest seller despite the fact that I haven’t been actively promoting it for two years. You’d think that my newer books would be selling better as they’re more likely to still be in stores. According to the royalty statement I just got on Monday, in the last six months my first book outsold my new book by double the copies. Why? It’s a mystery to me.

So, now it’s back to writing, promoting, and of course, fantasizing. December brings yet another royalty statement, and another taste of reality.


Monday, June 16, 2008

Mid-year goals check

I'm sorry I missed the June 9, 2008, post. I got a bit overwhelmed last week.

I attended the fourth annual Readers & Authors Get Together in Cincinnati, Ohio, June 6 and 7. It was another wonderful event, but it wore. Me. Out. Once I got home, I had to play catch up with my writing as well as some personal chores. By Sunday night, I was just too tired to address the post I'd planned to write.

So, let's talk about it now.

We're halfway through 2008. What writing goals did you set for yourself this year, and how are they coming along? Are you on schedule or do you need to make adjustments?

I'm at least a solid month behind schedule. By this time, I'd hoped to have completed the initial revisions for my first contracted manuscript and submitted the proposal for my second contracted manuscript. However, I'm still working on the draft of my first contracted manuscript. <>

Needless to say, I'm making some adjustments. :) I just hope they won't have too negative of an impact on the writing schedule for my second manuscript.

So, how are you doing meeting your writing goals?


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Summer Reading List

It’s that time of the year again. Everyone is releasing summer reading lists. I usually look forward to checking out the recommended books to get new ideas for my TBR pile. But I’m always disappointed in the lack of diversity most of these lists offer. So here is what I’m interested in reading this summer.

My Best Friend’s Girl By Dorothy Koomson
Koomson has written an enchanting tale of life's most unpredictable loves and heartaches, and the improbable bond between a single woman and an extraordinary five-year-old girl.

Sepulchre By Kate Moss
Following on her bestselling novel "Labyrinth," Mosse pens another haunting tale of double crosses, murder, and the occult set in both 19th- and 20th-century France. 

Don’t Ever Tell By Brandon Massey
From an award-winning author comes a bone-chilling new thriller about a ruthless murderer who will do anything to get back what belongs to him.

Orange Mint and Honey By Carleen Brice
This haunting, exquisitely written story about mothers and daughters and the power of healing and forgiveness marks the stunning debut of a new novelist.

Blood Colony By Tananarive Due
There's a new drug on the street: Glow. Said to heal almost any illness, its main ingredient is blood--the blood of immortals. A small but powerful underground railroad of immortals is distributing the blood, slowly wiping out the AIDS epidemic.

Fearless Fourteen By Janet Evanovich
A latest installment in the popular Stephanie Plum series places the irrepressible bounty hunter and her motley companions--including Grandma Mazur, vice captain Joe Morelli, and Bob the Dog--in a new adventure involving the Burg's premier funeral home and a family pot roast.

The Exorsistah By Claudia Mair Burney
The author of the Amanda Bell Brown mystery series makes her teen fiction debut with this smart, sassy, and fun new series about a young girl who must simultaneously battle the ups and downs of being a teenager, while fighting the forces of darkness.

The Spiritualist By Megan Chance
Acclaimed author Chance weaves together a tale of murder and intrigue, class and the occult, as one woman's search for a killer reveals that truth may be the greatest illusion of all.

Whiskey Road By Karen Siplin
This passionate and edgy love story asks the question: Where does a black woman born and raised in the big city go when she wants to escape, and what happens when she gets there?

Murder on the Down Low By Pamela Samuels-Young
Savvy L.A. attorney Vernetta Henderson takes center stage in another fast-paced legal thriller that erupts into a scandalous tale of vengeance.

So what's everybody else excited about reading reading this summer?


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The State of the Mystery Genre

Last month  Sisters in Crime (not to be confused with the Crime Sistahs) sent a publishing summit team to New York to speak to publishing professionals about the state of the mystery genre. You can click here to read the entire four part report. Here's a brief overview of what I thought were the most interesting things that publishers had to say:

1.  Thrillers are super hot right now as are cross genre books such as historical suspense.
2. Thrillers and suspense books get bigger print runs than straight mysteries.
3. Cozy mysteries are becoming a harder sell though crafting mysteries are still big.
4. In bookstores, mysteries are selling better in the fiction section than the mystery section.
5. Though thrillers are hot, mystery readers tend to be more loyal than thriller readers.
6. The most successful authors, and the ones getting the most publisher support, are the ones writing more than one book a year.
7. In order to broaden a mystery's audience, many publishers are avoiding the "mystery" label.
8. Hardcover book sales are down. Trade Paperbacks are doing well.
9. There is a demand for mysteries for younger readers.
10. Publishers like for authors to be active in book promotion.


Monday, June 02, 2008

The Power of Love

Initially, I was reluctant to talk about my latest release, The Power of Love, on the Crime Sistahs blog. The Power of Love, which is scheduled for release June 3, 2008 - tomorrow - is a benefits romance anthology and will be shelved under contemporary romance. However, the issue the anthology addresses is a crime.

The Power of Love (Berkley Publishing) is an anthology comprised of original short stories from Lori Foster, Erin McCarthy, Toni Blake, Dianne Castell, Karen Kelley, Rosemary Laurey, Janice Maynard, LuAnn McLane, Lucy Monroe, Kay Stockham, J.C. Wilder and me. The theme is female empowerment and the healing power of love. All of the authors and our agents have donated all of our proceeds to the Hamilton County (Ohio) YWCA Battered Women's Shelter.

You see, the crime this benefits anthology addresses is domestic abuse.

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, in 2001, more than half a million women were victims of nonfatal violence committed by an intimate partner. In a national survey of more than 6,000 families, 50 percent of men who frequently assaulted their wives also often abused their children.

In addition to raising money for the shelter, this anthology is helping to raise awareness of domestic abuse. It's physical. It's emotional. It claims victims now and, if the cycle isn't broken, will continue to claim victims for generations.

If you're interested, there are links to excerpts from each of the short stories as well as reviews for the anthology on my Web site, And, if the excerpts and reviews persuade you, I've also posted order links on my site. In addition to supporting a worthy cause, I hope the anthology provides readers with hours of enjoyment.


Monday, May 26, 2008

Plotting workshop

Kayla Perrin's How to Plot workshop is the final session I'd like to share with you from the 2008 Romance Slam Jam.

Are you familiar with Kayla Perrin's work? Kayla's a USA Today and Essence bestselling author. She's written for several publishers, including Avon, St. Martin's and Harlequin. She writes suspense, romantic suspense and contemporary romance. So Kayla knows what she's talking about when it comes to plotting.

She started the workshop with an exercise. Here's the premise. Your heroine leaves her home in the middle of the night. Answer these questions:
* Where is she going?
* Why is she going there?
* Who will she see?

OK. Take a few minutes to answer those questions, then come back.

Are you ready to move on?

Your first scene has a lot of work to do. It introduces your protagonist, establishes her goal and motivation, and sets up your story's conflict. Where is she going and why? How do these answers fit into the overall story?

Next, Kayla suggests plotting the black moment, otherwise know as your character's ordeal or the story's climax. This helps map where your story's going. The black moment has to be emotional. Emotion pulls readers into your story. Once you've plotted your black moment, ask yourself whether this ordeal is strong enough to sustain your story.

You have your opening scene and your story climax. Now identify at least four major plot points that move your story forward and smaller plot points that help your protagonist's development.

Used wisely, these tips will help you plot a full, multi-layered story.

Happy writing.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Helping Out Reporters

I'm constantly on the lookout for ways to promote my books. One of my more recent discoveries has been publicist and author Peter Shankman's HARO Newsletter. HARO stands for Help A Reporter Out. It's an email newsletter that Shankman sends out three times a day with queries from reporters and freelance writers looking for experts and everyday people to interview on a variety of topics. 

The newsletter is free and is an excellent resource for authors and publicists looking to get more exposure. Like I said, this is a FREE resource but you need to practice some restraint. Some reporters are ONLY looking for experts on a certain topic. So, don't waste their time and yours by responding to queries  you aren't qualified for. Also, some of the queries are specific to certain cities or regions of the country. 

But the biggest rule of all is: Do Not Repost The Emails. . .ANYWHERE! Peter Shankman doesn't play when it comes this rule. He will put you on blast if you do. If you don't believe me, check this out.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Promotion workshop

During the 2008 Romance Slam Jam, author Donna Hill conducted a workshop titled "How to Promote Your Book." Donna was fantastic; very informative. I especially appreciated the promotion timeframe she shared with us. Basically, don't wait until the book is released to begin marketing. Think about your marketing plan as soon as you turn in your manuscript.

Approximately six to nine months before your release date, answer these questions:
- What's your budget?
- How many promotional tasks do you need to do?
- What promotional things can you afford to do?
- What do you want to do? (e.g., book tours, conferences, bookmarks)
- What reviewers, book clubs, book stores do you want to contact?

Donna also shared the components of an effective Web site, including:
- Author biography
- Blurbs for books
- Cover images
- Excerpts
- E-mail address
- Book order information/links


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Kendra’s Random Walk

Having a book published is a lot like scattering seeds in the wind. You never know where they will land and take root. I'm always surprised and thrilled when I get emails from readers telling me they're enjoying Kendra and her crazy adventures. But I'm even more surprised when I get emails from readers in other countries who enjoy my books, since except for my MySpace page, I don't do any promo to reach readers outside the USA. Yet, I've received email from readers in Canada, England, The Netherlands, Germany, and Japan!

One such email came from the fiction buyer for Random Walk, a bookstore chain in Japan, who discovered my books on MySpace. Not only is Random Walk now stocking my books in at least one of their stores, but I recently did a really cool interview for the website of Random Walk’s bookstore in Kobe Japan. Random Walk's owner is also the owner of the largest importer of foreign language books in Japan. So, if you’re ever in Japan, and need something to read, Random Walk has stores in Tokyo, Kobe, Osaka, and Kyoto. And if you find a copy of one of my books on the shelf, please send me a picture!


Monday, May 12, 2008


One of the workshops I especially enjoyed during the 2008 Romance Slam Jam was Harlequin Kimani author Wayne Jordan's Keep Your Hero from Sounding Like a Heroine: Writing Believable Male Characters.

Wayne shared several tips to remember when differentiating male and female dialogue.
1. Women use more words to express themselves than men.
2. Women rely more on their feelings - both emotional and sensory - in their communication and reactions. Ask yourself, what does she feel in the physical sense as well as how does she feel in the emotional sense?
3. Men rely more on their visual perceptions. Ask yourself, what does this character see? And remember, he's more inclined to believe what he can see.
4. Women express themselves with emotion; men are more physically demonstrative.

One movie that illustrates this communication difference very well is Speed starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock. I've watched that movie several times in part to study the way the writers used dialogue to enhance characterization. Have you ever seen it?

Sandra Bullock's character is very nurturing. When the danger of the moment is over, the first words out of her mouth are, "Is everyone OK?" She puts others before herself.

Keanu Reeves' character is an impulsive, action-oriented person. Words aren't important to him. Dialogue is an afterthought. When one of the male civilians asks him if what they're about to do will work, Keanu just stares at him.

Of course, this type of exchange is easier in film. It's not as though we can have our heroine share her deepest, darkest fears with the hero and have the hero's response be a blank page. The way I try to work around this is by having an especially alpha male character speak with the least amount of words possible.

What have you observed about the difference in the way men and women speak? And how do you show this difference in your writing?

Next week, I hope to tell you about either Donna Hill's promotion workshop or Kayla Perrin's plotting workshop.


Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Nose--and Teeth--To the Grindstone

Sorry I've been such a bad blogger lately. I have a good excuse. I've been writing. I got some excellent feedback from my agent, and some outside readers, on the YA novel I've been attempting to write. The general consensus is that while I have a good story and characters, I'm not quite fitting what I've got into the right format for YA. ARGH! So, now I'm toying with whether to scrap the project altogether, or making the characters older, possibly eighteen, which would turn the book into an adult novel. I'm leaning towards the latter because I've fallen in love with these characters and really want to write about them.

Decisions Decisions.

I've also been working on Kendra book #5, which is a much easier process. I'm so comfortable writing about Kendra and co. that these books kind of write themselves. It's like putting on a comfy pair of shoes, while writing the YA novel is like trying to squeeze my feet into cute shoes that don't fit.

On the health front, I found out recently that at the ripe old age of 41, I have to have all my wisdom teeth pulled. All at once! One the same day! The date is set for next month. That means being sedated again and doing more weird stuff that I won't remember, and more funny stories for my family to tell me the day after. Fun! Fun!

Finally, for those of you who thought it might be fun to be an author's assistant, you may want to think twice after reading this man's story. Gee, I wonder who he could be talking about ; ).


Monday, May 05, 2008

Back from the Slam Jam

I got back from the 13th annual Romance Slam Jam Sunday afternoon. I had a fantastic time sharing fellowship with other lovers of African American romance novels. But things have been a little hectic getting ready for the work week and catching up with everything that was on hiatus while I was away.

I'd promised to share tips from the workshops I attended during the conference, and I will. The workshops were excellent. But let me get my thoughts together first. I'll give you a run down next Monday.

In the meantime, check out the Urban Reviews blog. They've uploaded photos from the event and posted the 2008 Emma Award winners.

Have a great week!


Monday, April 28, 2008

No more distractions

Writers write.

Yes, we also promote ourselves and our work; study the writing craft as well as the publishing business; and read. A lot. But the priority is to write. If we don't write, we won't have a tangible product to sell. Unfortunately, there are a lot of distractions, aren't there? How do you deal with them?

The Internet is my main weakness. A dear friend, Lori Foster, created a wonderful MySpace page for me. I love the page. It's beautiful, and she created a lot of cool features. I'm very grateful to her. Unfortunately, Sunday alone, I spent five hours checking out my MySpace page, sending "friend" requests, and posting and reading comments. It's really addictive, isn't it? But I've got to finish my manuscript.

Quick segue, if you're interested, I'd love for you to "friend" me at Thank you!

E-mails are another big distraction for me. I want to know what other people are doing, what they're talking about, what they're writing - when they aren't sending e-mails. In fairness, I've learned a lot about the business and craft of writing from these loops. The latest discussion on one of my writers loops is the pros and cons of performance bonuses. That's important stuff. But I've got to finish my manuscript.

Should I even mention television? I know. I know. Just turn it off. How do you turn off Law & Order? Yes, I've seen that particular episode three times. I can probably recite it back to you. But I love the scripts' twists and turns. And Tru.TV, formerly Court TV. What a line up: Forensic Files, North Mission Road. Don't forget Murder by the Book.

So how do you deal with these distractions, especially the Internet?


Monday, April 21, 2008

Book signings

The average author sells between four and seven books at a signing. That statistic supports the belief that book signings aren't about selling books. They're about making connections.

Book signings have a lot of benefits.
* Talking with readers to hopefully increase word of mouth about your books
* Meeting booksellers with the hope of creating a positive impression so they'll recommend your books
* Networking with other authors to talk about the writing life and share information about the industry

I don't do a lot of signings. They take a lot of time, the promotion beforehand as well as the hours at the event. But I do acknowledge the benefits of signings and I always enjoy talking books with other avid readers.

What are your thoughts on book signings?


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

My Second Life

To the real, everyday world I’m known as Angela Henry, or Angie to my nearest and dearest. But I have another life, a virtual life . . .a Second Life. In this virtual world, I go by the name of Rachel Silverstar, which despite what a friend once told me, does NOT sound like a porn star name. But, I digress. I joined Second Life about a year ago. And let me tell you, it’s a fascinating place.

In Second Life, you can look any way you want, dress any way you want, be anyone you want. Second Life is not a game. It’s a virtual community where you can interact with people all over the world, work, own property, attend classes, and even make money. Major companies, colleges and universities, libraries, and bookstores have opened branches in Second Life. There’s even a museum called the Second Louvre for those who can’t make it to the real one and the show CSI: New York even devoted an entire episode to Second Life. And I’m happy to see that publishers and authors are now getting into the act.

Authors and publishers are holding virtual book events in Second Life. Authors are opening their own bookstores where they are promoting and reading from their work, and providing links to purchase copies or ebook downloads. When my fourth book comes out next year, I’m hoping to do a virtual book launch in Second Life. There is even a Second Life Cable Network with shows that feature authors. I urge anyone who is even remotely curious, or authors looking for new avenues to promote their books, to check it out. It’s free to create an avatar and join, though buying property, and some of the more advanced features, costs money. Here are a couple of events you may want to attend. Who knows, you might see me there!

ALA-the American Library Association, is hosting events in Second Life all this week to celebrate National Library Week.

The 2nd Annual Second Life Book Fair will take place April 25th – 27th.


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