Thursday, September 11, 2014

Word of mouth

Recently I've read online posts by traditional authors which are critical of authors like myself who have chosen to forego doing signings and other personal appearances in lieu of online events. They say, "How can an author meet readers if they refuse to leave the house?" 

Well, I think that question is an exaggeration, since most of us "cyberauthors" do leave the house and interact with people on a regular basis, but we just don't do many organized events. Personally, I have done several library events, and although I did enjoy them, they proved to be very limiting. Unless you are a big name author, a book signing is likely to bring in twenty people, if you're lucky. Talking to a group of twenty (or less) people in a room just doesn't appeal to me the way doing a real-time Facebook party or other online event does. 

In the next month, I am scheduled to participate in three events. The first is a meeting with the United Sister's Bookclub which has 2,395 members. Granted, I understand that all of these "members" won't be present at my all-day Author Takeover tomorrow, but our interaction will be open to way more than 20 or even 200 people in a physical room.

These events usually involve lively discussions, and I do mean lively. In the past, I've often had trouble trying to type fast enough to answer all of the participant's comments and questions! It's a dialogue in which everyone gets to have their say, which is contrary to your typical signing where people raise their hands and ask questions.  

Many traditional authors really don't understand, or they refuse to acknowledge that there are different ways of doing things now. Although there is nothing wrong with book signings, authors no longer need to rely on the old methods as the only ones that work for marketing and promotion.

I love interacting with readers, and I've found online events one of the best ways to do it. Looking forward to meeting with the United Sisters Bookclub tomorrow, Shades of Rose Media Summer Book Event on Saturday, and participating in the Killer Romances launch party on the 16th!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Back to reality

Hubby and I spent a few days in Panama City Beach, Florida. We got back on Thursday evening, and ever since I've been trying to get my mind back in gear. It's hard when I've been listening to this...

The beach is just beautiful - white sand and Gulf ocean that's two gorgeous shades of aqua and blue. As soon as we walked into our condo, I opened the blinds, and fell in love!

My whole purpose in going was to get some writing done on my work-in-progress. All hubby wanted to do was get some rest. I parked myself at the table in front of the patio doors and worked on getting Greg Stafford out of the mess he's gotten himself into. 

I got a great deal from Groupon for the Long Beach Resort, and it was lovely! I highly recommend it.

All I can say is next time we have to take a full week.Three days just wasn't enough. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

New Release Thursday - Deatri King-Bey!

I am posting this today with a big apology to my author friend, Deatri King-Bey. It was supposed to go up yesterday, but since I am on vacation, my mind lost track of the normal things I needed to do...

Deatri has a new release, and it sounds fabulous! I'm going to let her tell you about it:

For Keeps 

In my new romantic suspense, For Keeps, Gina Guy’s daughter has witnessed a murder and the murderer is after the little girl. Child Protective Services is manipulated into the picture, and Jarvis Martin, a manager within the agency, steps in to protect the Guys’ rights. From the moment Gina meets Jarvis, she feels she can depend on him, but life has proven to her that the only person she can count on is Gina. Will they be able to stop the murderer? Can Jarvis earn her trust and love?

Heavy topic for a romance, huh? I’m known for taking nonconventional characters and topics and spinning them into a romance. I like to create dialogue. The moment I released the For Keeps blurb, people started asking me where the idea came from. I’ve often said that I have voices in my head that tell me their stories, then I relay those stories to you though my books. Basically, I put my psychosis to work.

Events usually wake those voices in my head and cause them to start speaking to me. The voices from For Keeps came about as the result of two incidents. A few years back, I noticed more reports of children being murdered down here (Arizona) by abusive parents on the news. This was a very noticeable increase. There was actually an event that correlated to the increase in deaths and abuse. I can’t remember the number, but there were like 2,500 reported cases of abuse that were never investigated during that time period. Big time scandal. Lots of people fired over that.

In incident two, I know someone who was reported to CPS by the hospital she delivered her baby in because there were narcotics in the baby’s system. Actually, hospitals must report when babies are born with drugs in their system. That sounds like a good thing, right?

Well, the hospital neglected to inform CPS that the mother had been a patient in the hospital and administered the narcotic by the nurses. The mother didn’t even realize what they were giving her was a narcotic until after CPS contacted her and told them they’d be taking her child from her for him testing positive for narcotics.  This mother went into a panic. She did everything her CPS case manager asked for, but CPS didn’t do their part. Then the case manager’s boss came into the picture and took steps to take this child away from the mother. It got really ugly.

To make a long story short, the original case manager came back into the picture and stopped the insanity. Had it not been for that case manager, this woman’s child would have been taken from her even though the hospital had supplied the paper work requested by CPS. Sounds crazy, huh? Yeah, I couldn’t believe what was happening as it unfolded.

These incidents breathed life into Gina and Jarvis. There are good parents caught up in the system every day. There are bad parents that children need to be protected from. There are bad case managers and there are good case managers.

I don’t know, this seemed like the perfect backdrop for a romantic suspense. Next thing you know, Gina and Jarvis telling me their story. I hope you enjoy For Keeps.

Here’s a little sample:

He squinted at the seven-story condominium complex. She thinks by moving into a secured building she can protect you from me. His gaze traveled along the building and settled on the third floor, second unit from the right. Humph, there’s more than one way to skin a cat.

Brenda ran out of the building.

Quickly, he ducked behind a tree. Reveling in a surge of satisfaction, he returned his focus to the third story window. Soon all of my worries will be over. Whistling a happy tune, he walked away.
* * *
The superintendent flipped through his keys, unwilling to select the correct one. “I assure you, she didn’t leave her child. I would know. There must be a mistake. Miss Guy is one of my best tenants. Someone made a prank call.”

Arms folded over her ample chest, Mrs. Clark tapped her foot and waited beside the police officer. “I hope you’re correct, but someone reported a baby being left alone for hours, so we must investigate.”

“Benda!” he heard the voice of a little girl on the opposite side of the door cry. It sounded like Tiara, Miss Guy’s daughter. “Where you at? I ascared.”

“Hurry.” Mrs. Clark pressed herself against the door. “Don’t worry, honey. Someone's here.” 

The superintendent’s fat, fumbly fingers worked the keys double-time to unlock the door. Something wasn’t right. Miss Guy wouldn’t leave Tiara alone. Maybe Miss Guy had fainted or was injured. He opened the door.

Mrs. Clark rushed into the apartment toward the screaming toddler and tumbled over the edge of the coffee table. Tiara stopped screaming, spun around and ran into a bedroom.

The officer helped the social worker stand. “Are you hurt?”

Mrs. Clark rubbed her shin. “It smarts, but I’ll be fine. Thank you.” She limped into the bedroom with the others following close behind.

Tiara was nowhere in sight.

“Come out, honey,” said the social worker. 


She pointed at the twin-sized princess canopy bed. The officer knelt and lifted the comforter to check under the bed. No little girls.

The small bedroom only contained one other potential hiding place. The case manager searched through the closet, but still no child.

Confused, the superintendent sat on the dresser. It creaked under his weight. “Well, she couldn’t have disappeared.” A faint groan caught his ear. He nodded toward the space between the dresser and the wall. “I think we have mice.”

* * *

Fear raced through Gina’s veins as she dragged Brenda into the back office for privacy. “What do you mean they took her? Who took her? Calm down and tell me where my baby is.”

Shaking her head, Brenda rocked back and forth. “I… I saw the police and panicked. I’m so sorry. Please don’t be mad at me. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to.”

She grabbed Brenda by the shoulders and shook. “If you do not tell me where my baby is this instant, I swear I’ll kill you.”

* * *

Hollering, Tiara darted for the pile of blocks that sat on the middle of the toddler table in Observation Room three.

Helen Clark shook her head as she lowered herself to the couch. “Play with the blocks like a good girl.”

Jarvis watched the little hellion through the double mirror. Knowing she hadn’t finished yet, he grinned. Her screams when they’d entered the office were what had drawn his attention. This child had a serious set of lungs on her.

Now quiet and calm, Tiara carefully sorted through the blocks. Jarvis was rarely wrong where children were concerned, but it looked as if he’d been wrong this time. Tiara had found something more interesting than screaming her head off. Meticulously, she measured the blocks, then selected the largest one and threw it at the case manager.

Shocked, he rushed for the door as the block soared through the air and slammed square into Helen’s nose.

“Leave me ‘lone you mean o’ crow.”

Holding her nose, Helen cursed the child and stormed out as he entered.

“I hate you, you mean o’ meanie!”

Standing in the doorway, Jarvis remained silent. He’d deal with Helen for cursing in the presence of a child later. Tiara stopped yelling. Her eyes traveled from his shoes, along his legs, torso, then she craned her neck way back to see his face. Over six feet, he knew he was huge to the little girl. Hands shaking, she held up a block.

Arms folded over his chest, he raised a brow. “If you throw that at me, I’ll throw it back.”
She swallowed hard, then dropped the block, crossed her arms over her chest and raised her brow, impersonating his stance. “My mommy gonna get that mean o’ crow.”
“I’m sure she will.” He stifled a grin. “Let’s clean this mess.”

She stood still, blinking away the tears, fighting the oncoming cry. “You find my mommy? She doesn’t know where I’m at. She’ll be ascared.”

“She’ll be afraid.” He lowered himself to her level and held his hand out. “I’ll find your mommy.”

She ran to him, jumped into his arms and hugged him tightly. “I like you.”

“I like you, too.” Tired of the neglect, he shook his head. He became a social worker to protect children. To give them the childhood he had in a loving family. All children deserved to be loved. “What’s your name?” He released her. Though he already knew her name, he wanted to continue breaking the ice with her.

She stepped away and curtsied. “Tiawa Wose Guy.”

“Jarvis Neal Martin at your service.” Heart smiling, he placed his hand on his chest and bowed his head slightly. “You may call me Jarvis.” He settled on the floor beside her and helped pile the blocks on the Big Bird toddler table. “Do you know where I can find your mommy?”

Tugging on his arm, she tried to pull him toward the door. “You go get her? She’s at work. With the pancakes.”

Lifting Tiara, he stood and placed her on his hip. “How old are you?”

“Twee. Go get Mommy. She’s at the pancake place.” She pointed at the door. “She doesn’t know I’m here with you. You go get her. I’ll show you. That mean o’ crow took me. My mommy’s gonna get her.”

He walked to the front desk. “Where’s Helen? I need the file on Tiara.”

Mary, the office assistant, smiled at Tiara. “This can’t possibly be the little terror who came in kicking and screaming earlier. Oh no. This young lady is much too beautiful.” Tiara hid her face in the crook of Jarvis’s neck and giggled. “She’s in the process of being told off by,” she nodded toward Tiara, “a certain young lady’s mother. Helen may need to be saved. Room six.” Mary took Tiara from Jarvis.

Just what he needed, another substandard parent who didn’t give a darn about her child until the authorities were brought in. He stopped his train of thought. Just because the overwhelming majority of cases he’d seen of late had been proven cases of neglect and abuse, didn’t mean this one was also.

Thank you, for giving me a chance to introduce For Keeps. I appreciate it and you.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Character Arcs

Today I thought I'd share a little bit about what's going on with Don't Stop Till You Get Enough, Book Three in the Stafford Brothers series.

This is Greg Stafford's story, and he is quite different from his brothers. Marc and Charles, the twins who readers met in Books One and Two, were basically solid, straight-arrow guys. Greg is facing a major challenge in his life, which is of his own doing, but he wants to change.

My problem with writing his character is that he isn't exactly likeable at the opening of the story. I have shown the demons he is fighting, and have been working hard to make him a sympathetic character throughout the first seven chapters. 

One of the requirements of a successful romance novel is the hero needs to be a man with whom readers can at least sympathize, even if they don't immediately fall for him. I really love Greg, even though he's been a bit difficult to write. He is well-educated, vibrant and extremely handsome, and really loves to dance. Because he comes from a good family and had a normal childhood, I had to create another reason why he succumbed to an addiction (not substance) that threatens to destroy his career.

Naturally, I had to do quite a bit of research on this particular addiction, and it's been fascinating. Showing how Greg changes and grows along the way is going to be a test of my mettle as an author. Also, I have to address some ethical issues when it comes to his relationship with the heroine.  All I can do is...


I'll let you know how it's going...

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Yay for the A!

I don't agree with some of the choices made by some of the people featured in this forty-minute VH-1 show, but I am amazed at the money that's here in Atlanta. I'm glad I watched it to the end, because it confirmed that the biggest charitable giver here is Tyler Perry!

Saturday, August 16, 2014


Check out the interview I did with Rachelle Ayala about participating in her Romance in a Month class.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


I've run into a problem I've never had in all the years I've been writing away from home. I've written in coffeehouses, libraries, the park, and even burger joints all over the metro Atlanta area. When you're a regular at these spots, you get to know the other regulars. Everyone usually speaks, exchanges a few pleasantries, and then focuses on reading, studying, writing, etc.

Recently, I met a person who has become a regular at my favorite spot. She seems to be very nice, pleasant, extremely intelligent and well read. She expressed an interest in self-publishing, so we've had a couple of brief conversations about books and the publishing industry, but no matter the subject, this woman can veer off into a discussion about her work experience, religion, politics and even the library of Alexander the Great! 

I realized local coffeehouses are hangouts for folks who want to socialize, but I've explained to her that my time is limited, and I hang out there to work. The problem is that no matter how many times I tell her I need to concentrate and can't talk, she just goes on and on. Since I always work with music playing, I have earphones on, but she will come and stand in front of my table until I look up.  

I understand most non-writers don't comprehend that the least little interruption can yank a writer right out of the zone. Most often, when that happens, you never get the same thought back in the same way. What do you do when someone sees you working and still plops down near you and says, "I don't mean to break your concentration, but...?

To respond to her questions about e-publishing, I sent her an e-mail with several articles I'd written along with a document I put together containing tons of links to the best information out there on the subject. In the e-mail I reiterated about my time. She isn't here today, so perhaps I finally got through...

How would you handle this situation without becoming known as that "nasty writer lady"?