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).


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