Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year! Happy New Release!: Reconstructing Jada Channing

Jada Channing never thought she would see Aaron McKensie again after that night, that one glorious night when she'd lost all good sense and muzzled all the voices telling her why being with him wasn't a good idea. He was older, wealthy, and white. Jada was none of those things, and yet she'd fallen for Aaron anyway-just as her black great-great grandmother Dorcas had fallen for her white great-great grandfather Mr. Joseph all those years ago. Their relationship had been doomed from the start, and Jada saw no reason to think hers and Aaron's would be any different.

Yet what happens when Aaron reappears years later, completely oblivious to the knowledge of his child Joshua, and the feelings Jada had locked away after that one night return twice as powerfully? Will history repeat itself, or will Jada give herself the chance to create an entirely new future?



He was leaning against the doorway, towel haphazardly tied low on his hips, black hair still damp, and water dripping from its curled ends. His head rested on the arm he leaned against, and he stared at her with slumberous eyes. If he’d been in any other setting, Jada would consider him drowsy, but she knew better. He was very alert and all his attention was on her, filing her in a compartment in his brain because he couldn’t live his life in chaos. She pulled the sheet tighter around her bare torso as if to shield herself from his eyes and whatever category he’d designated for her. However, it was too late for that. He’d broken down whatever defenses she had had long before last night.


It was a flat sound, a plateau of a name whose owner meant far more than he should.

Jada never would’ve imagined this when they met three years ago as tutors at a community center in Roxbury. They had been colleagues and treated each other with the typical polite detachment of co-workers, only asking superficial questions and responding with superficial answers. The age difference had had much to do with it—she being a freshman in college while he a semester away from starting at the business school—but there had been something more salient keeping them at a distance, and, if she were honest, it had been more because of her than him. Yet the genuine warmth with which he had greeted her that first day and every day since then had surprised her, disoriented her to the point where she had limited contact with him. This had forced Aaron to initiate the conversations that usually, seconds later, ended with his awkward chuckle, small smile, and shy wave.

He had eventually given her a nickname: Jaybird. It had been ironic because she rarely spoke to him, but each small, brief, impersonal greeting he’d given her had paved the way to conversation, greater intimacy, friendship. It were as if she had been a block of stone and Aaron the sculptor, his conversations a chisel chipping away her unnecessary hardness to reveal the woman who was Jada Channing. She wasn’t quite sure when the sculpture had been completed—perhaps it wasn’t yet—but she knew she felt far more exposed now than she had at any other point in her life.

And that fact had nothing to do with their current nudity.

Jada watched him approach, his towel falling away mid-stride, and she detached herself from the situation enough to appreciate his body. Slightly muscular, yet strong—her preferred body type. He was well defined and hard, but he had yielded to her so well, and she shivered at the memory.

Gentle was the first word she’d think of whenever she remembered last night. His gentleness alone had made her want to cry—soft touches of his hands and lips; soft caresses of his breath and voice along her skin; soft embraces that left her too weak to leave. There was even a soft declaration of love she had convinced herself she’d imagined, and Jada didn’t have the courage to ask him to confirm it. She was so sure, now that the heat and passion of the moment were gone, the answer would change.

Jada couldn’t take a retraction.

A retraction would mean her family was right, her community was right, that a white man like him could never fully understand or love a black woman like her. This was the one time she needed her upbringing to be wrong, to know what she did last night could not be a mistake; that the feelings she’d been nursing for almost two years could blossom and grow into something that would survive long after both had taken their last breaths.

The bed dipped when he sat, and he crawled next to her, sliding a damp, pale arm around her dry, darker waist. The black, wet hairs on his arm tickled her skin and her body quivered from the contact. He moved her curly tresses from her neck and replaced them with his lips, making Jada sigh and grant him more access.

“Good morning, love.”

That was certainly a matter of opinion, but Jada responded in kind, not wanting him to know her inner turmoil. The “adverbial questions” of last night, suspended due to overwhelming feelings and long pent-up desires, seeped into her consciousness, and she drew up her covers to hide from them. What would happen now? He was leaving for New York that night and probably wouldn’t be back until graduation in the spring. When would they see each other again? Where would last night lead them today or even two months from now? How would they continue this relationship—as friends, as lovers, or, God forbid, as strangers? Why should it even matter?

It did matter.

It mattered because Jada felt like she had turned her back on everything for this man, compromised everything because she loved him. She didn’t hop into bed with just anyone; she’d been taught sex was about giving something so personal and sacred that she had to be explicitly sure and confident about her partner, regardless if she were a virgin or not. The fact Jada had chosen Aaron McKensie had consequences that reverberated well beyond themselves.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Squeezing It In!

First off, Happy Holidays. I hope they have been and will continue to be safe and enjoyable!

Yes, it's been a month and ten days since I've last made a post, but I have a very good reason.

1.) I'm moving from Boston to Charleston, so I've been putting my ducks in a row for that--including writing ducks. This means I'm amping up the editing side of my writing life, although I will admit this is coming at a slight expense for my authorship. I hope things will settle down once the move finally happens, but because my contract in Boston is ending, I figure I need to make a break for it now or else I never will!

2.) I am now a member of Badazz Authors Group. Again. I'd left because I didn't think my style of writing would fit very well, but then I got over myself because the ladies of the group are fantastical and variety is a lovely spice of life, so, onward!

3.) Expect a new release in the next few weeks. What release, you ask? Oh, just the one that's been on the Upcoming Releases page for almost two years. Reconstructing Jada Channing, people! Yes, it's coming, and I hope you will all enjoy it! This is my baby, the first original fic I ever started with any seriousness (because that "original" story I started when I was 12 so doesn't count!). This is the thesis that let me graduate college, thank you, Jesus! Hopefully, it'll translate to a bona fide novel just as well.

4.) NaNo '08 is on a brief hiatus. Thank you sticking with me so far, but that's put on the backburner for a bit, but it'll come back!

5.) Tell your friends and family about me! Don't be a stranger! Join the Google Group or send me some e-mails. Also check back here because I have some serious plans for all of you.

6.) And thank you all so much for making 2008 wonderful for me. Yes, the year had its ups and downs, but I learned more about myself this year than I ever thought I could. And it's all your fault! ;) Have a wonderful New Year, everyone!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Contests and Me across the Web

First: Y'all be dears and vote for me in the Endless Romance Writing Contest held by Midnight Seductions! You can read the excerpt here and vote here. I chose a scene from The Beauty Within, but you have to read it to know which one ;).

Second: EDC Creations has listed The Beauty Within as a Literary Hallmark for 2008--Shoulders of Giants! This is fantastic news and I'm very appreciative!

Third: I've updated my NaNo 2008 to Chapter to on the Google Group. Those who've been reading--y'all are awesome and continue to surprise me and humble me with your support. Every new effort, an author wonders how it will be received, and I'm thankful that y'all are sticking with me!

Fourth: Not really on the Web, but as of late, I've gotten really nice e-mails about my work. I really, really, really appreciate them! I just do. I'm still trying to crack through, but every e-mail I get is so great and a reminder to keep on keeping on. I might not have industry love yet, but I have reader love, and in the end, that's the main thing that a writer wants. Y'all trust me to tell the story that comes, even if it's not your cup of tea upon first glance. I thank you for giving me a shot! *hugs readers* And to fellow authors (y'all know who you are) this is a community, a family. I am so grateful to y'all. Truly.

Fifth: Y'all pray, because I'm also entering other contests other than the one mentioned in #1, and I have to write synopses. *shudders* Pray I can write them and do my novels justice! Shoot, they're harder than the actual stories!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

National Novel Writing Month 2008

It's that time of year again, where many of us writers of all levels try to write 50K words in 30 days. I know some people who have already blown past that mark. I am not one of those people, but I am on a very good pace. In a spirit of good faith (and my incessant need for feedback!) I'm posting the chapters up on my Google Group. Leave a comment or several!

This year's NaNo is untitled, but it's about reunions (apparently I love that theme) and it's actually set in my hometown of Columbia, SC. I figure I've been avoiding it enough, so I might as well give it a shout out! I'm pulling on many things that have happened in the past few months--not to mention a certain election. An excerpt is below, and I hope you enjoy!


“Why are you nervous?” she asked, though the question sounded much sillier out in the universe than it ever had in her head. The question was painfully rhetorical—this was the first time they’d been alone alone. There weren’t any friends or books or teachers or dinners or adoring fangirls to distract them from the thing that had been building since he’d helped her carry her trunk of desk lamps, books, iron, pillows, and linens up to her room their first day here at SSGSC—Summer School for the Gifted of South Carolina.

It was Ebony’s turn to fidget, breaking eye contact with him and looking at her butter-pecan hands. They trembled, and she mimicked Liam’s nervous tick and clutched them tightly in her lap.

“Why are you?”

She wouldn’t tell him because she felt as buzzed as a lit-up neon sign by his presence, always had, but now was forced to confront it. Her dress was suddenly itchy, restricting, and she wanted to change, but she didn’t want him to leave.

She heard him approach and the bed dipped under his substantial mass. Ebony tensed at his nearness, especially when his breath brushed her bare shoulder seconds before his lips did. She sighed and closed her eyes, her head automatically tilting away from him to expose her neck to his traveling mouth. A hand slid to her stomach, and her fingers uncurled so she could touch his knuckles.

“You smell good,” Liam murmured against her flushed skin. She jumped when moisture touched her. “Taste good too.”

Ebony couldn’t believe what was happening. Of all the scenarios that had run through her mind, none of them included actually acting out on . . . whatever had been brewing between them. Even now she was thinking of ways to minimize the meaning of his mouth on her body, but when his lips drifted up her jaw to her cheek, her brain shorted.

Liam’s forehead rested against her temple, their fingers now intertwined against her stomach. Ebony couldn’t remember when that had happened, but his thumb caressing hers gave her just enough sanity so she could breathe.

“I wish you lived in Charleston.”

Ebony sighed and leaned her temple into Liam’s forehead even more. He moved and pressed his lips against her skin. “I wish you didn’t have to leave.”

She would, though. Her mother had said she’d be down bright and early tomorrow morning so they could get the van back to the church on time. In fact, her room now looked just as bare as it had when Liam had first helped her with her belongings, save for her linens still on her bed. Her mother had thought him a nice white boy at the time, though Ebony hadn’t understood then why her mother had even mentioned his color.

Now she thought she did.

“Who’s gonna keep me in line when you’re gone?”

Ebony laughed at that, that uncomfortable tension broken by their failsafe use of humor. She turned her forehead to his and they smiled at each other, his hand drifting atop her head to the bun at her nape. They stared into each other’s eyes, but then tears sprang into hers, so she closed them.

His lips were barely discernable as he kissed each slip of moisture from her cheek. Ebony was glad she sobbed with dignity, even if what she really wanted to do was howl into his chest and never let him go.

“We’ll write to each other, yeah?” Liam promised against her well-rounded cheeks. “E-mails and IMs . . . And we’ll call . . .”

His mouth was so close to hers that Ebony opened her eyes. She didn’t pull away, however. She smelled fruit punch and Chex Trail mix on his breath, but the combination didn’t bother her. In fact, her tongue tingled to taste it, but she didn’t have the guts to do so. She’d never kissed another soul in the romantic sense in her life, and there was something achingly sweet about the anticipation. Besides, for all her supposed sassiness and independence streak, at the heart of her she was a lady—a Southern one at that. She would never make the first move.

“You look like you want me to kiss you.”

Ebony stiffened and her eyes widened. Heat flooded her face, and the ever-present irritation of not inheriting her mother’s inky sable hue filled her since she knew Liam could see her cheeks redden. But he wouldn’t let her flee, his hand moving below her bun to cup the bare skin of the back of her neck.

“Do you?”

Ebony glared at him. “You must be crazy if you think I’m gonna answer that!”

“I just need to make sure,” Liam said seriously, even though his brandy eyes sparkled and his full, pink lips lifted wryly.

Ebony huffed and would’ve put her hand on her hip if he weren’t so close to her, damn near surrounding her. “And why is that?”

The sparkle left his eyes and he licked his lips, his demeanor finally matching his tone. “So I know you won’t slap me when I do this . . .”

Her brain played catch up; and by the time it did, she registered Liam Malloy’s mouth gently pressed against hers. He puckered his lips to intensify the kiss briefly before pulling back. There was uncertainty in his gaze, and Ebony didn’t know how to decipher it.

“You’re frowning,” Liam noted, drifting his finger down the furrow between her brows. “Was that all right?”

“I don’t know,” she said honestly. “Is your heart supposed to beat this fast after a kiss?”

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Audacity of Hope

A moment to shout out what just happened yesterday night.

I’m at work . . . absolutely NO GOOD today . . . because I stayed up until after one o’clock to watch a black man become President of the United States of America. I refused to believe it for like two hours. REFUSED. I was waiting for the pundits to be like, “SIKE!” He didn’t get Virginia; he didn’t get Indiana; he didn’t get California . . . just . . . he didn’t get it. But he did. I was alive to witness it. I thought about all the people who came before me; who died for this . . . who never in their natural-born lives thought this could even be SUGGESTED, let alone a reality.

I called my grandma and I couldn’t talk to her. So we just sat on the phone, well after eleven at night, and we watched McCain’s concession speech. I thought he gave a fantastic speech, to the point I think even if he had won, it would’ve been a fantastic speech too. He’s a classy guy—both he and Barack are. Even if there were measures of classlessness by supporters on both sides of this political race, but I was glad to hear the concession speech, and Barack’s speech (I’m sorry, I know he’s President-Elect, but dammit, I done claimed Barack . . . we family . . . shoo . . . lol). But seriously, after the speech, we also just sat there. And then my grandma, who’s gonna be 87 on the 30th this month. She said she was grateful to be alive to see this and that she never thought it would happen and I just . . . whoo. She saw this. Born in 1921—NEVER had she probably thought it would happen. Hell, I’m twenty-five years old and I never thought it would happen in MY lifetime. But it had. And I’m so glad she was.

I called my grandma; I called my 65-year-old dad (who didn’t answer and was probably out somewhere actin’ a STRAIGHT FOOL—I called him at work this morning as well; he was :-P); I called my aunt and we talked and then my cousin talked. She said she wished my uncle, her husband; a man who’d been at SC State during the Orangeburg Massacre; a man who served in Korea and Vietnam had been alive to witness this; wished my mother, a woman who actively marched for Civil Rights—almost got hit by a truck during one of those instances—first black woman who had her own law practice in Columbia, SC, were here to witness this; but that they were looking down on history. My cousin joked they probably were wearing Obama stickers in heaven and actively campaigning for an Obama victory! I thought about them and wished they were here too.

The first person I’d called, though, was my sister. She was on campus with the Black Students’ Association party and she was actually the person who told me it had actually happened . . . even though I’m watching the damn returns myself. I was ACTIVELY DISBEILIVING it. I was telling the pundits to shut up and don’t call states that hadn’t even reported because it was unfair and irresponsible. I cussed out The New York Post calling it before some key states had posted their results. But then, I mean . . . wow. WOW. My sis said the Africans were crying with joy but the Black Americans were cautious with their celebration because we wanted this to be real. We didn’t want the rug pulled out from under us, something people of color had experience after experience with.

I think about why I called my sister first, though. We are the firsts born post–Civil Rights in our family, right in the heyday of Reagan, when things weren’t looking so dreamlike and hopeful for blackfolk. We’d been raised on the Civil Rights heroes and the pre–Civil Rights heroes and could recite the second half of the “I Have a Dream” Speech and sang songs about Dr. King (and then added our own verses of Malcolm X and Medgar Evers and Booker T. and WEB . . . lol), but we were still under the belief it was just that—a dream. Something that would never be realized in our lifetimes despite the strides blackfolk have made. It would always be a dream deferred to shrivel up like a raisin in the sun as Langston Hughes had said. There was nothing happening in our purview to make us think differently. Because even with our education, and our middle-class believes, and our middle-class jobs, and more of us doing right than doing wrong . . . there were still more closed doors than open ones; still more “you can’ts” than “you cans”; still more doubts than the benefits of them; still more “you’re not like those other black people . . .”

And yes, Barack Obama is exceptional, but then again not really. I went to school with people like Barack and Michelle Obama. I sat next to them in class; I debated with them; discussed with them. I was borne from them and raised by them. Those “other black people” ARE Barack and Michelle; and yes, Barack had a white mother from Kansas and was raised by his white grandparents; but they couldn’t prevent him being called a nigger or being thought as “less than” or shield him from the things white people will never, ever have to experience on a mass-societal level. And yes, Obama got an overwhelming majority of the electoral votes and over fifty percent of the popular vote, but I’m sorry to say, racism isn’t over.

Not by a long shot.

We are not a colorblind nation (nor should we be, but that’s another post); the headlines are he’s the first African-American President of the United States. That is true, and nothing about the lack of the Bradley effect or the fact “just enough” white people voted for him is going to change the fact that because he is a black man sitting in the highest office in the land, he is still very much an exception. It should tell you something this country has only elected three black senators since Reconstruction and five total. It should tell you something there have been only four black governors total in the country—two of them being elected in the last three years. The fact people and pundits are trying to say race didn’t play a factor does a disservice to the fact that it HAD—maybe not in the negative way people thought it would—and that will always be there and be present. It’s like they’re trying to diminish what this victory means for people like me and the people who died fighting for the right to be considered a full human being—never mind a citizen; never mind a citizen whose rights had to be respected; never mind a citizen whose voice should be heard; never mind a citizen who had been here building a nation literally from the ground up—talk about your “grassroots efforts”. The man was surrounded by glass as he gave his acceptance speech “just in case” for goodness sake. We put a sizable dent in the institution of racism, but it’s far from eradicated.

But then I saw the Obamas walk out as the FIRST FAMILY. And then that was it. And after I thought about what just happened . . . what they represent . . . I finally cried. And I didn’t sob; it was just a quiet cry . . . I am so overwhelmed that there will be people who look like me in the White House who aren’t cleaning it or cooking in it, but living there and being the face of the country because the electorate had chosen the son of a White woman from Kansas and a Black man from Kenya to lead it. And the country will see an accomplished black woman standing by her husband’s side, being his rock, being the person he turns to when he needs someone to keep it real and ground him. They’ll see black little girls be GIRLS and not be short women this country thinks them to be . . . girls who have the complete and unadulterated love of their father, even if their father couldn’t say the same about his. Seeing a black family unashamed to love each other, because so often all you hear about is the “broken” black family, and I truly believe they are stronger for what they’ve been through and what they will go through.

It’s disheartening to hear some folks are saying it’s racist that so many black people registered to vote for the first time just for a black man. Seriously? Seriously? How in the world is that racist? Jesse Jackson ran twice and didn’t have nearly the support Barack did. Black people weren’t on the Obama train for a MINUTE, but this is someone with whom many people of color especially could connect with; and I would even say had Robert Kennedy survived, he would’ve gotten an insane amount of support from black voters as well. It wasn’t necessarily about the man’s skin color; it was about the fact THIS presidential candidate seemed to be committed to improving the lives of EVERYONE. For the first time we, black people especially, felt as if we were part of the conversation every time he opened his mouth . . . without specifically calling us out. The audacity of hope—that’s all black people have HAD since the moment our ancestors were brought over here.

There are those opponents who say hope can’t feed you; hope can’t protect you from the big baddies of the world. You tell that to all the people who came before me. We’re still here. We still survived. We survived being 3/5ths of a person as mandated by the US Constitution; we survived being told no white person had to respect our humanity and rights in the Dred Scott case. We survived “separate but equal”, when it was really separate and unequal. We survived being hung, run off roads, beaten, attacked, just for simply being here without shackles on our wrists. We survived bombs and denial after denial after denial. We survived being in a country that extended its promises to everyone, it seemed, but those with too much melanin. We fought for this country; we loved this country in spite of its faults and because we wanted America to live up to those promises and extend them to all its citizens, not just the ones descended from Europeans or the ones who have a whole lot of money. Wanted the dream to come true . . . not just stay a dream.

Wow. I think about the history books I had . . . the ones that were full of white faces and black people only made appearances during the 1860s and the 1960s. As if we didn’t exist outside of those times. Now, if I’m blessed enough to have children, they will have a history book that prominently features a someone who looks like them for something so positive. And if my child says, “Mommy, I want to be president when I grow up.” I will be able to now say, with conviction and pride,

“Yes, you can.”

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

BAN Interview 10/28/08 @ 9PM EST

Hello everyone,

I have an interview on BAN tonight at 9PM EST. I'll be discussing The Beauty Within and even reading from it.

I hope you can make it!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Boston Book Bazaar--October 18th from 12 PM - 7 PM

Hi, Everyone,

If you are in the Boston area today, please stop by the Boston Book Bazaar. I will be signing The Beauty Within, AJ's Serendipity, and Being Plumville. And I may also do a reading.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Beauty Within Viritual Release on Black Author Network!

EDC Creations

Hello Readers,
Don't miss this exciting new book release party. Listen to BAN radio, as Ella Curry meets featured author Savannah Frierson.
Join us TONIGHT, Tuesday, October 14, 2008 at 9-10pm EST for a Live Interview as we discuss "THE BEAUTY WITHIN " a romance novel by Savannah Frierson. You are invited to join our interactive chat with the author and other readers. There will be autographed copies of the book given away to the 10th and 20th registered BlogTalkRadio chatters.

This fantastic virtual book signing is brought to you by Ella Curry of EDC Creations found at EDC Creations would like to thank all the readers for following along with our book showcases and offering their support for the authors and business owners. We look forward to getting to know the new readers and literary supporters we continue to meet along the way.

Thank you!


by Savannah Frierson | ISBN: 978-1-4357-5329-7

When full-figured barber Tyler Carver enters GD Fitness for a personal training session, she immediately butts heads with her trainer Gunnar

Daniels. Refusing to allow Mr. Just-Walked-off-an-Abercrombie-&-Fitch-Billboard's rudeness, she gives him a piece of her mind and storms off. Too bad she can't stop thinking about the gorgeous gray-eyed grump. Former fashion model-turned-gym owner Gunnar Daniels, having a day sent express from hell, thinks it can't get any worse until Tyler Carver, in all her curvy, chocolate glory, takes his breath away the moment he locks eyes with her. Knowing he acted out of character, he apologizes to her. Yet, he wants so much more.
Can Tyler and Gunnar help each other discover that beauty is more than skin deep . . . that the beauty within is what truly decides the beauty without?

Join us on the BAN Radio show
Time: 9pm-10pm EST -- TONIGHT!
Author and speakers dial-in number: (646) 200-0402

Chat live with the guests in our chat room during the show

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Black Women's Fiction and Romance

Right now I'm reading Leaving Cecil Street by Diane McKinney-Whetstone. I'd just finished reading her Blues Dancing about a week ago and Tempest Rising before that, and between reading these three stories, and then thinking about other Black Women's Fiction writers such as Alice Walker and Toni Morrison, I realized something. It's rarely a happy story. There is just so much pain discussed and shown and seen, especially on the part of black women, that I just feel heavy and want to cry. And then I think, is that all of our stories? Is that it? How we're not loved enough, or we're used too much, or we're ignored, or we're spotlighted for all the wrong reasons. We easily stray, we stay on the wrong straight-and-narrow? And to think that was what was only offered up until almost thirty years ago when Black romance really started taking off.

Let it be known I appreciate Ms. McKinney-Whetstone and Ms. Morrison and Ms. Walker and Ms. Angelou, etc. I do, and I like how they write, and I loved Blues Dancing almost as much as I loved Tumbling, but I think my current personal space is making my reading of Leaving Cecil Street so hard. I just . . . I want these black women to not only be loved, but to love themselves. And the reason why I appreciate these stories is because often, so very often, we don't as black women, and it shows us that. So when I am reading about these husbands, who love their wives as they say and the author says, straying, or these dirty old men preying on little girls/women (which is particularly notable because someone on an online group put forth her personal theory that little black girls are rarely seen as children, but just small adult black women, and I can't say I disagree with that), or women abusing other women because it's easier to hurt someone else than to deal with the pain you feel yourself, especially because you were never taught how, I just . . . I'm nodding and trying to hold tears at bay and wondering when will it be our turn as a people, to allow ourselves to feel loved and be loved and demand more than what we've been getting. And no, the answer is not "forget black men" and "black men are dogs" or whatever other reasons you hear to rationalize outdating (on both sides). It may not start with us, because we are children when we learn how the world operates, and it takes a long time to unlearn some things, but it does end with us. There has to come a point where we just say "stop" and "no more." I think all the women I've mentioned above allow their heroines to get there, but to watch that journey to that point, breaks my heart, especially when, in many ways, it mirrors my own.

I didn't really discover black romance until Brenda Jackson and reading Surrender. I didn't appreciate it then, either. I was still in high school, I was more fascinated with interracial fiction, especially after reading Sandra Kitt's The Color of Love, so while I thought it was a good story, I set it off to the side because I wanted to read more interracial fiction, especially since they were the types of stories floating around in my head. Fast forward to the beginning of this year and Wild Sweet Love by Beverly Jenkins, and then it was on and popping. I rediscovered Brenda Jackson, became introduced to Gwynne Forster, Francis Ray, Rochelle Alers, Donna Hill, Gwyneth Bolton, Dyanne Davis, AlTonya Washington, and practically inhaled Beverly Jenkins. And I even realized Ms. Kitt wrote more than just interracial romance (see, Adam and Eva), and that she was the first to write for Harlequin. Thank God for these women and their books and the many others who are breaking out onto the scene, or else it would be nothing but heavy reading for black women. And maybe, another part of my hesitation for black romance was because my main readings of black women authors were those heavier tomes, and I was not trying to have any more of that during my "leisure" periods. And, to an even sadder extent, because I didn't see any of that in my own life or on my own television, I thought it was more fictional than even interracial romance. At least Zack and Lisa had a kiss; and Winnie and Christian dated each other. There was no black couple like that in my everyday life, even if I had cousins who were in good marriages.

So now, here I am having published four times, three interracial stories and one AA story. Having completed five more, all of which are interracial, and I am struggling with one story that is completely women's fiction and two stories that are both interracial and aa. As the heavier books show, love, romance, relationships are far more complicated and messy than romance books show, but romance books let you feel that happiness and joy that everyone needs, especially black women. I write both, and apparently in the same story lol. I write both because I need both--I don't want nothing but heaviness in one story and nothing but light in another. I want to run that gamut of emotions, I want to feel . . . everything a human being could feel, everything a black woman doesn't usually allow herself to feel. I want to own that pain that I try to ignore, and I want to own that joy that I try to deny. And maybe that goal makes it difficult to place me with publishers or agents, but my counselor yesterday asked me who is my audience. I didn't answer her for a moment, because I knew it was an incredibly selfish one. I write for me. I am my audience. And something one of my writing instructors back in college says still stays with me now, even if I found that class personally such a struggle--the most personal story is often the most universal.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Thank You!

Thank you all so much! Because of you, The Beauty Within has sold 100 copies in one week! I appreciate it so much! I hope you are enjoying the read too!

*hugs to you all*


Sunday, October 05, 2008


1.) Vote for me at 2008 Fall N.O.R Reader Choice Awards under Best Historical Romance - Fall 2008 for Being Plumville!

2.) I will be at the Boston Book Bazaar in Boston on October 18, 2008 from 12-7 PM. Hope to see you there!

3.) I have two Author's Showcases on Black Authors Network Radio Tuesday, October 14, 2008 and Tuesday, October 28, 2008 from 9-10 PM EST both dates.

4.) I will be having an Author's Corner with Savannah Chase on Friday, October 10, 2008 at 8 PM EST. See you there!

5.) Now you can buy or send books for me to autograph! Go to the Autographs section for more information!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Available Now!: The Beauty Within

When full-figured barber Tyler Carver enters GD Fitness for a personal training session, she immediately butts heads with her trainer Gunnar Daniels. Refusing to allow Mr. Just-Walked-off-an-Abercrombie-&-Fitch-Billboard’s rudeness, she gives him a piece of her mind and storms off. Too bad she can’t stop thinking about the gorgeous gray-eyed grump.

Former fashion model-turned-gym-owner Gunnar Daniels, having a day sent express from hell, thinks it can’t get any worse until Tyler Carver, in all her curvy, chocolate glory, takes his breath away the moment he locks eyes with her. Knowing he acted out of character during their session, he apologizes to her. Yet, he wants so much more.

Can Tyler and Gunnar help each other discover that beauty is more than skin deep…that the beauty within is what truly decides the beauty without?

Browse Before You Buy

Buy The Beauty Within: Lulu

I've also done two interviews just in time for the release: One at Dyanne Davis's Web site and the other at the SORMAG Blog. Check me out!

Thanks so much for your support! I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Beauty Within: Coming September 30th

When full-figured barber Tyler Carver enters GD Fitness for a personal training session, she immediately butts heads with her trainer Gunnar Daniels. Refusing to allow Mr. Just-Walked-off-an-Abercrombie-&-Fitch-Billboard’s rudeness, she gives him a piece of her mind and storms off. Too bad she can’t stop thinking about the gorgeous gray-eyed grump.

Former fashion model-turned-gym-owner Gunnar Daniels, having a day sent express from hell, thinks it can’t get any worse until Tyler Carver, in all her curvy, chocolate glory, takes his breath away the moment he locks eyes with her. Knowing he acted out of character during their session, he apologizes to her. Yet, he wants so much more.

Can Tyler and Gunnar help each other discover that beauty is more than skin deep…that the beauty within is what truly decides the beauty without?


Tyler really wished she were more surprised to see Gunnar walking through the door than she was, but she’d been expecting…hoping…he would stop by for another haircut again.

She refused to think of the implications of doing so.

It had been two weeks since his first visit, and she hadn’t seen or spoken to him since then; but given the way Damon had interrogated and Wendy had teased, Tyler had deduced Gunnar had said something to warrant such reactions. It was bad enough her sister had sniffed out her attraction from the beginning, but the fact Damon all but said Gunnar had some interest in her was a little more than disconcerting. Wendy, of course, had taken that and ran all the way to the altar and a house in the suburbs, and Tyler had to tell both of them just because there was a possible mutual attraction, that didn’t necessarily mean anything would come of it or that she even wanted something to happen. It was possible to window shop without going into the store and making the purchase, after all.

Possible, but damn hard sometimes.

Gunnar was wearing his usual leather jacket and smirk, but instead of the breakaway pants he’d been wearing the last time, black jeans hugged his strong thighs and ass she knew damn well would make an excellent trampoline for a quarter. He took off the jacket and hung it on the coat rack this time, revealing a deep blue crew neck sweater that enhanced the musculature of his torso and arms.

She really needed to buy a new smock!

Tyler shook her head. The smock she wore had been her father’s, and its sentimental value made it priceless. She would not become so silly over a man to replace her father’s smock for one that would make her, what, sexier? Please.

“Hello, Mr. Daniels,” she said. She’d been sweeping when he entered, and she hadn’t paused in her chore.

“Ms. Carver. How are you?”

“Fine. You? How may I help you?”

He brushed a hand over his head. “Can I get a haircut? I know I didn’t make an appointment, but I figured it would be okay to walk in since the last time I was here it wasn’t busy.”

Tyler shrugged, trying to go for a nonchalance she didn’t feel. “Sure. You can have a seat—”

“Ah…I was wondering if I could get a wash too? I figure I should go for the full effect since I missed out on it last time.”

Tyler eyed him. His smirk didn’t seem as cocky as it had been in the past. In fact, there was a hint of red in his neck and cheeks, and she was suddenly struck by the fact he seemed nervous. She blinked at him, not knowing what to do with that revelation.


“I mean it’s okay if—”

“Sure,” Tyler said quickly, then shook her head in bemusement. This was the strangest man she’d ever met. “It won’t cost extra if that’s what you’re thinking.”

“That’s very nice of you to throw in a wash,” Gunnar said with a wink.

She refused to acknowledge the heat that had flooded her body. “You can have a seat at the bowl. I’ll be right with you.”

She quickly swept the debris into a neat pile on the dustpan and threw it in the trash. She set the broom and the dustpan in the corner before going to her bathroom and washing her hands. When she returned Gunnar was still sitting up right, looking at her with a tiny grin on his face.


“You’re so thorough.”


“Yes. It’s not a bad thing. It’s actually quite refreshing.”

“Is it?”

Gunnar nodded. He was staring at her again. She’d never known eyes to have such a presence of their own, but his did. It didn’t matter that the rest of him was such an impeccable specimen of the male form, his eyes ensnared her every time. He probably spoke more with his eyes than with his mouth, and Tyler admitted she tended to like what his eyes said.

She shivered slightly.

“Are you cold?”

“A little,” she mumbled, though that was the farthest from the truth. She went to him and pressed against his shoulders to get him to lean back. His eyes were ever on her, piercing as always, and Tyler wondered if she would be able to complete her job without making an absolute fool of herself.

“Let me know if the temperature is okay,” she murmured, turning on the water. She took the nozzle and wet his hair gently, breathing a sigh of relief when his eyes slid closed. Now she would be able to work.

“Feels great,” he said, his voice a low hum. Her body matched that hum. She was dismayed by how it reacted to him. She hadn’t felt this way since…

She shook her head, refusing to darken her day with thoughts of that time.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Extremely Humbled

A disclaimer: I'm operating on about four hours of sleep because my flight from home was delayed three hours, which means I had to get a new itinerary and instead of getting back to Boston around 10-something last night, I got in around 12-something last night and couldn't get to sleep until an hour later. So, if this post has a tendency to ramble, I apologize.

But, yesterday. It went well. Really well. I probably got as much from it as the kids did, maybe more.

The one downside, the original teacher who was supposed to do my discussion had back surgery, and he was among my favorite teachers while in high school. So instead, I had a chemistry teacher whom I'd never had, but she'd taught my sister (whom she loved, obvs!), and she was great. I'm glad I got to meet her and talk with her.

The one surprise, I had to speak in front of the entire student population--all 2K kids. I was not prepared. I knew I would be talking to a smaller discussion group, but when the one of the student body officers introduced me, a brief moment of panic filled me, but I kept it short and sweet and hopefully coherent!

All right, now to the discussion. There were only six students in my group, but the members were four boys and two girls; two freshmen, two sophomores, two seniors; one biracial girl, one black boy with a Puerto Rican mother, one white boy, and the other three were black; one had transferred from Jacksonville, FL, one had been in SC from Chicago for a year, and one had come from Hawaii (military kid). And there was the chemistry teacher who was a white woman, and me.

My book was under the theme of diversity. I think my group represented that very well.

So, as you know, it was really quiet when the discussion started. None of the kids wanted to say anything, and one boy hadn't even read it (the transfer from Jacksonville) because he'd already had a book from his old school that was on the Summer Reading List. Made no never mind to me, because it was A Raisin in the Sun, and that's a fantastic play. He chose well. Anyway, it was pretty much me and the teacher at the beginning. She asked if anyone had ever experienced discrimination, and the kids said no. I nodded and shared my story of a shopkeeper "reminding" me and another friend of mine, also a black young woman, to not leave the store without purchasing our items; after which, my friend and I made sure to grab all manners of clothing and walk around the store with them, and then put them not where we'd gotten them before leaving the store. After that, some students shared their own instances of discrimination and the ball got rolling somewhat.

Then the teacher asked what was their favorite scene. Again, not much willingness to speak up, but then one of the freshmen (they were both boys) said the beginning when their in Professor Carmichael's office and Benny and his football coach are waiting for the tutor, and in walks Coralee, and the fact the tutor was completely against it but Benny was excited to see his childhood friend. And then more scenes, most of them in the beginning, but then a senior (the transfer from Hawaii and one of the two girls) said she didn't have a favorite scene because she enjoyed the entire book.

Did my jaw drop or did it drop?

She also confessed she wasn't trying to do any Summer Reading because she didn't feel like it and she didn't think she'd be interested. Her mother had chosen Being Plumville to read and this young woman was determined not to crack open the book; but then she turned it over and read the back, and then she finished reading the book in a day.

I was blown away.

Furthermore, one of the young men, the transfer from Chicago, said Coralee reminded him of his mother, and I really had to cheer. Not because my character reminded him of his mother, but because he unconsciously/subconsciously recognized a point I was trying to make in the story, about how many black women are socialized to put themselves either last or their happiness on the backburner for "the betterment" of the community, and then from there I started talking about my own experiences as a black woman, and the teacher related that to her experience as a white woman--but the operative word was woman. And then, the other sophomore (the other young woman) said she enjoyed the book, especially so because her father is white, and she knows about the looks she gets when she's with her parents and how they'd dealt with it and she appreciated it.

By the time we had to break for lunch, they were wondering if I were going to be around for the second part. Um, of course! Yes, I'd been nervous up until I walked into the gym and saw the whole of my alma mater looking at me, but then that feeling of "I got this!" came over me, so even when I had to give my impromptu little speech, I felt very confident about it.

I had lunch with various literacy coaches and other teachers/administrators in the district. Some asked me what my book was about and I told them, but when I addressed the overall group, I didn't even really talk about the theme of my book but rather how to get students to read. I told them very honestly I didn't do my summer reading because very often what I had to read didn't interest me in the slightest. I said the reason why all the kids had done their reading--a fact that had surprised all the teachers--was because they had a choice about what to read, and they could choose something they thought would be relevant to them. I even talked up Ms. Beverly Jenkins because even though I went to college and concentrated in African-American Studies, I still learned from her books, which are primarily African-American Historical Romances. I said think about putting nontraditional books on the list--including romances. You can have them for junior/senior classes or have parents sign off if you think there might be some issues. But really, look around the school--you have evidence in your face that whatever their going to read in a romance . . . they probably already know!

I also told them about my journey thus far to being published, and someone asked about "which house" had released my work. That tiny prick of shame that had come before, since I'm not with any traditional publisher and have a block of e-mail space of rejection letters, didn't come this time. I said proudly I self-published, and I don't regret it. Yes, I'm still trying to get a major publisher, but that doesn't mean I should wait for one, either, especially when I know there's an audience for my work.

Even if I'm constantly surprised by how large that audience actually is.

One of the teachers asked the coordinator of the literacy program at my school if she had any extra copies of Being Plumville. I assumed she did because there were only six people in my group. Heh. Apparently, she'd ordered 40 and all of them had been sold, just many of the students had chosen/been assigned to other discussion groups in which to participate.


Not gonna lie, I had a bit of pep in my step after hearing that, and I went back to my group on even firmer ground than when I'd left it.

My group was also more talkative. The teacher, who'd been at the lunch with me, asked what Being Plumville meant, because I'd explained the title at the lunch--being who your community wants you to be instead of being who you're supposed to be. And then the discussion really got started. I told them about how the South gets a bad wrap in many ways; that the North isn't the racial harmony utopia you read about in history books. I told them, based on my experiences, don't be afraid to know something; don't be afraid to be yourself, because you try to be who someone else wants you to be, you're going to be miserable. One of the students agreed and said how he'd fallen into the wrong crowd briefly trying to "fit in", but he started talking to people who he never thought he'd talk to, and now they were his best friends, and he felt happier. The senior girl started talking about her own experiences moving from school to school; the freshman from Jacksonville even started opening up.

Of course, I was asked about black men/white women v. white men/black women and if I'd gotten more grief about writing the latter when the former was so prevalent. I admitted feeling that sting of rejection whenever I saw a black man with a white woman, but I also spoke about how women are usually "the bearers of the culture" so women tend to have less flexibility in general about being allowed to outmarry. I also touched on the "self-hating" charge, and about black women especially who outdate/marry and are accused of "hating black men". The senior boy spoke about a friend who'd dated interracially, but that they'd not had any problems, but the relationship had also been bm/ww. I said for me, it's not even about that; it's about why should I limit my pool of eligible partners to like 2% of the population? That makes no sense! Black people are 12-13%, half of that is women, which means that's 6% that gets cut down because of the 18>x group, so let's say it goes down to 4%, and then black men who are already married (or too old for me), gets down to 2%, and then I have to weed only through 2% more? Not hardly. If white women have 50% of the population, I want 50% of the population! But more than that, I'm not going to limit myself to make other people feel better, and I'm not going to put other people down just to make myself feel up.

They had to do a book review during this second part of the group, but we were so busy talking they could hardly write! I tried to keep quiet so they could do their assignment, but they kept asking me questions! I also tried to remember they were in high school, and I have college under my belt--college at an Ivy League School at that--and I didn't want to sound inaccessible or use too big words (because when even kids at Harvard are clowning you for your vocabulary choices, then . . . that's something!). I didn't want to turn it into a lecture with concepts that might be out there, but I also realized I couldn't help it because part of why I was writing was to meld all those things together in the story, and I was writing Being Plumville at the same time as my thesis, so sometimes it couldn't be helped.

By the time it was over, I think everyone was disappointed! I know I was. What surprised me the most, however, was everyone liked this book! Remember the demographics--2 freshmen, two sophomores, two seniors--FOUR BOYS! Even the one who didn't read it (from Jacksonville, and he's the white boy) said he had to go get my book! I smiled on the outside but I was actin' a straight foo' on the inside! The sophomore boy said he was sad he didn't have a book for him to sign because he'd checked it out from the library. I gave him the copy I'd brought and signed it for him. Everyone who had a book asked me to sign it; I also gave the senior girl the copy of AJ's Serendipity that I'd brought and showed them the copy of The Beauty Within that will be released at the end of the month. I gave them my business cards and told them if they had any questions or wanted any advice to e-mail me. I meant it.

I'd stayed longer than I'd anticipated so I could talk to my soccer coach. He was like, "when are you coming back?" and I said I didn't know because of work, etc, and he just stared at me. Then I realized he meant permanently! I laughed and I said I don't know what I could do down here because SC isn't a mecca of publishing, let me tell you! But he said, "You don't understand how much of an impact you'd make"--(keep in mind, my coach is white)--"How many black, female, Harvard graduates from SC do you know? He got me. I know of two, not counting my sis because she hadn't graduated yet. But I remember also going into the career lab. There were pennants of various colleges on the walls. One pennant was of Harvard. When I'd gone there, there was no such pennant. But I was reminded of just how big of a deal what I'd done is . . . I was the first person from my school to go to Harvard (and, actually, I believe Ivy League in general)--my sis, the second.

I told this all to my sis and she said, "Savannah, I don't think you realize how good your book is." She's right, but instead of getting all big-headed about it, I just let that fact settle inside me. I actually tried to read a bit before I went to the school yesterday, but I couldn't. You know how some actors can't watch movies they've been in? I think I might be an author who can't read what she's written after it's published. I don't know. But what I do know, I'm so glad I went back to school. It's funny, because when I'd left high school I couldn't wait to leave. Now, I can't wait to go back.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

High School High

Tomorrow, I'm going back to speak at my high school. Apparently, Being Plumville was on their summer reading list, and they wanted me to come talk about it with the students. I feel weird about it! In many ways, I just left high school, even though I've had almost eight years between then and now. I've done college and graduated and now I'm in the daily grind of work. Not to mention I've written a few things . . . that they've actually read.

I think it's because I've changed so much in many ways, and yet not at all in others. To go back and walk into your past, essentially, that you're doing things now nobody ever fathomed when I was there and having people who "knew me back when" see me now. Clearly, they are proud of me because they asked me back. I'll say, I didn't intend for Being Plumville to be read by children, but even has it under its textbook promotion. Wha? That's so odd. I don't know how else to say it. Something that I started because I was writing my thesis at the same time, and I was curious about some issues that are going on inside me (and still are) has become this "thing" that I never envisioned. Teachers who saw me as a student who played the viola and was on the soccer team now know what I did on my "off" times . . . that I wrote. If they came back and saw my choir in 2005, they'd realize I sing, too. Just the various sides of me will come to a bit of a head tomorrow, and I'm in this very suspended place about it. I'm excited, but apprehensive--about how the students will receive me; how they received my book; how my old teachers will receive me; if I say something I shouldn't because they're too young to understand/get it/appreciate it/agree with it.

I'm not quite the quiet little girl who kept her mouth shut back in high school; I'm much more secure in what I think and not as shy about letting people know it. I used to lay in the cut in high school, unobtrusive because being a chubby black girl who wasn't necessarily poor and was deemed "smart" and didn't have much of a social life was a bit of an aberrance, and kids have a tendency to mock what they don't understand . . . what isn't "normal." I saw Saved by the Bell; I watched those after-school specials; I read Sweet Valley High; I wasn't trying to go out like all the other nerds did.

But what's funny, Facebook. Facebook has been a surprise in a good way. All these people are now friending me, people with whom I wasn't close back in the day; or people I knew only because we shared a class, but never a conversation, or very few conversations. The "cool" people, the "popular" people, to my none of those things. These people friend me or leave me messages saying how proud they are of me or how they can't wait to get my book, etc. And my jaw drops because I didn't think I was that memorable, or memorable enough for them to friend me. Yet, this is opening my eyes to something: just because you do your best to be unseen, doesn't mean you aren't. Just because you keep to yourself and try not to bother anyone or "do your own thing", doesn't mean people aren't paying attention to you and watching you and rooting for you.

Story time: Junior year in high school we got our transcripts to prepare for senior year. They tried to block out our class ranking, but it seemed the permanent marker wasn't dark enough to mask those pesky little numbers. Everyone and her blind dog's dead mother knew who numbers 1 & 2 were--identical twins of all things. But the third spot . . . heh. Me. So I had a dual feeling of "hell, yeah!" and "aw, shit!" (if I'd been the cussin' kind back then ;) ) because, dang, if that further didn't separate me from the pack, especially regarding other black kids at my school (this is clearly, clearly, another post). But, we had a soccer game either that night or sometime soon after, and I was sitting next to one of the "popular" black girls who was also on the team watching the Varsity team play (I was on JV, and quite happy there lol). She asked me what my rank was. I didn't want to answer, but she was nice, and I mumbled it. She said, "huh?" so I said it again louder, but just as, dare I say it, apologetic about it. She nodded, then she smiled and said, "I'm so proud of you."


I had no idea. Understand, in any given class I had, I was either the only black person, black girl, or one of five or less of either permutation thereof, so I felt on the fringe of the "black community" at my school, especially since my group of friends was mixed . . . which was something you didn't really get at my high school (my cafeteria could've been the cover of Dr. Tatum's Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?). But some sort of invisible burden had been lifted off my shoulder at that, and it felt really good.

So, maybe, by me going back to school and speaking, I can lift that invisible burden off someone else's shoulders, someone who's been told by her culture in school, her culture in her neighborhood, her culture as portrayed by the media, that says you shouldn't excel; that you shouldn't want to be the best you can be. That is is cool to "do the damn" thing, and that being black or being poor or being female or being whatever means you shouldn't, or that you're automatically something else, or your fill-in-the-blank card is on probation. It took me a long time to get to that point, and in many ways, I hang on to it by the tips of my fingers.

But ultimately, as my sis and my friends, those same few people who've been there even when I was unobtrusive and shy(er), said that I represent someone from their community who left and "made good", and that is important for them to see, especially considering I am primarily of a demographic who has the least chance of doing so.

I'll have to remember that when I talk tomorrow.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Trolling Nights

First draft is done, 93,735 words. For some reason I rounded up the total to 95K on Facebook, but in my defense, it is late, and my brain's shut down. Anyway, yay Tim and Bevin! *hugs them* I'll post up some excerpts at some point.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tumbling, by Diane McKinney-Whetstone

My cousin Denita knows me well. She gave me Tumbling over Fourth of July, thought I'd like it, and I only now got a chance to finish it. Ooh, boy, it was a hard book to read; not because the mechanics of reading was difficult, but because the emotions that it drew to the surface made me feel really, really raw. Noon and Herbie; Ethel, Fannie, Liz. Willie Mann. Reverend Schell. Thomas Moore. Black people in the '40s and '50s in South Philly. My grandma was there; as was my dad. She could've easily been talking about them or a neighborhood like theirs. Gentrification. 60 years later it's still going on; still having a devastating affect on black and other minority communities. About passion and having it taken away from you . . . given to someone who shouldn't really have it, but she's the only one there who'll take it; a father resenting his child; a daughter resenting her father; a woman loving too much but not in the way the receiver wants. Slick, silver-tongued, too-fine man that woo the innocence from a girl who just wants to be held. A girl who knows too damn much and people are frightened by that knowledge, mad at it. A woman who offers healing the only way she knows how.

There were no villains in this story. No one was all good or all bad. They were human, and textured and tactile, like you knew them personally; like you were invested in how things turned out almost more than they seemed to be; that you wanted everything to come out right for everyone--not "comeuppance" right; "find peace" right.

When I grow up, I want to write like this too.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Updates and a Chat

I finally got a response back for a submission I made for Manna Tree. The good news is the editor thought the story was well-written and packed with strong emotion. Unfortunately, she passed on it. This is one of those bittersweet rejections, because the person recognizes the talent, but aren't feeling the story. One day . . . I'll marry the two. But jeez, it's still frustrating as all get out.

Anyway, I'm going to have a chat tonight from 7-10 PM EST at my Web site. It's pretty much an open chat, but I will be discussing my works--both released and upcoming; posting up excerpts of works in progress; and even giving away some books. I hope you all can make it!

SJF Books Chat Room

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hard Drive

Beyond dead, it is. This news does not make me happy. Something inside it is broken. o.O I haven't dropped my laptop in a good minute! I don't know what happened.

Do you think God is telling me I need a new computer? I . . . don't know how I feel about that message. I will say that for my experience, Dell is fantastic in terms of customer service, so I'll probably get another one. I have to go to Staples and get my beyond-dead hard drive, though.

But, now I can continue to work on Trolling Nights (as well as two other WiPs that decided to bite this month. Oy). The feedback I'm getting on this story really is awesome. Now that I can go forward, I'll be posting some things up.

And would anyone be interested in a chat this weekend? Friday too soon? Sunday?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Oh, NOW He Talks!

Okay, those of you familiar with Being Plumville might be a interested in this news.

Felix is now speaking to me after, basically, four years of being mum.

So . . . yeah. Onward.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My Hard Drive: 2004-2008


It was a sudden death, one that hadn't been expected. There were no spurts, no fainting spells . . . just the clicking death knell and then silence. Because I had no idea what was going on, I tried to restart it twice . . . and then a third when the Dell people told me to run a diagnostic.

All of my most recent work for Trolling Nights is on that hard drive, as well as the updates I made to The Beauty Within and Reconstructing Jada Channing. BUT, I had updated my backup drive about two weeks ago, so it's not as bad it could've been and sending out some drafts to friends of mine (even if they are in pdfs) was probably the best thing I could've done.

I am not at a point of no return; I am at an inconvenient detour. I thank the Lord that's all it is. However, for those who read this blog, please pray I CAN recover those files. I'd really liked where I was going with Trolling Nights especially, but thank goodness I haven't lost too much that I cannot recreate it. To make things a little more "oy", I'd planned on sending out submissions this week, but I reckon not right now anyway. But . . .

This is definitely not as bad as it could've been But I'll be backing up my docs like a FIEND when I get back up and running, you best believe.

Monday, August 11, 2008


The owner of Red Rose Publishing told me first-week totals of The Coach's Counselor . . . they definitely overshot my expectations. So I thank you for buying the story, and tell others to get their copy. It's a dope story. Bernie is a dreamboat. I wanna be Eunice when I growed up. The RRP's owner loves the story. Can't get much better than that, peoples. Buy! Buy! Buy!

In less enthusiastic news, Sunday morning I awoke to a lovely (this is not sarcasm) rejection letter from an agent regarding Reconstructing Jada Channing. Was I disappointed? Absolutely, because my pitch to her had gone really well and she'd seemed exciting about it; and to know months later the project with her is a no-go does smart.

But then, I realized there is this lovely thing called self-publishing, and my straits weren't as dire as they'd seemed upon reading the e-mail. TPtB at HBF Publishers have it, and even if that doesn't work out, I can still put it out on my own. RJC doesn't have to languish until someone puts her seal of approval on it--I could publish the novel whenever I want, really. And considering it's my baby . . . I probably SHOULD publish it myself instead of risking a publisher/agent culling it out to "make it more marketable" (which sometimes, from what I've been told, could be a struggle between the author's original vision and the publisher's vision, and with this story in particular . . . there is a specific vision I have in mind for it). And if I really play my cards right, should I be picked up by an agent, and they do a reprint . . . the value of the first edition will be exceedingly high, right?

Or that's what I'd heard. Sotheby's, here I come!

(A girl can dream, can't she?)

It's a strategic game, this publishing business. I'm taking the bull by the horns, yes, but I also can't wait for the day until I can relinquish them and concentrate on the part of this business I want the most--the writing. Another idea has come and bit me, and one sentence on a Post It has grown into something that's taken me hours of research, so many "restarts" that I don't remember. And this isn't counting all the WiPs that are waiting for their day in the sun. I'm in that period of the job that sustains me is impeding on the career that feeds me. NOT a good feeling, because I actually like my "able-to-live" job, but this WRITING, people. This is what I'm supposed to do. And it's scary to be good at other things . . . have a greater chance at success at those others things . . . but those other things are in the way of THE THING.

Options. Sometimes I don't know if it's better to have too many or not enough.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

July=Dead Zone . . . Sort of

Which is why I'm only now posting about it in August! Ha! July is the dead zone month for me creatively, because my job . . . the one with benefits that allow me to go to the doctor and maybe survive once I retire (if that is still even an option by the time I reach that point) got insane. I worked a total of 207 hours in July (not counting the editing job I do for Red Rose and etc). Technically, I am only supposed to work 175 hours/month. I had no space in my head for anything creative. At all. I'd try to write and it just looked so foreign and AWFUL. It was not a good look. Even my bosses were like "get some rest."

But did I do that? No. Instead I call myself going out of town EVERY OTHER WEEKEND. What is this foolishness? Granted, the first weekend of July was the 4th, and I went home to South Jersey to the fam--Dad and Cousins I haven't seen in almost two years. I figured it was about time. I also had the opportunity to meet Eve Vaughn, erotica writer extraordinaire. Keep in mind, I've been fangirling her for several minutes, until another member of TST told me she loved my writing.


Right, so obviously, I was like, "we must meet" and we did. And we talked . . . actually not about writing! Which is fantastic, because when you don't talk about writing, you talk about things that make you a writer or give you inspiration/material for writing in far more organic and salient ways, to me, anyway. I learned so much about her, and she me, and we met for much longer than I thought. She's good people, Eve Vaughn, and all of you need to check out her books. And speaking of, we went to Borders, and her book was on the shelf! So of course, I bought it, even though I already had a book with me I wanted her to sign. I want that to be me one day, just browsing through the shelves and see a book with my name on it . . . yes. And then she had the nerve to say (as she signing her books for me, no less) she can't wait until I'm a bestselling author.

Um, whose book was just bought at a bookstore? Certainly not mine! lol

But the bigger thing is that even though she's definitely ahead in the game, she has nothing but well wishes for ME. I'm still learning how to get used to that, all of these established SUCCESSFUL authors who are expecting great things from me. I've not really ever had that in terms of something that's REALLY important to me. Academically, yes, that went without saying. But this writing thing, something that I haven't started sharing with the world with my name until about four years ago . . . I realize I am an infant in this business. I really am, but people are so excited for me.

It's humbling. Mentors rule.

So, two weeks later, the week that I worked 50 hours for my benefits job, I went directly from the work to NYC for the Harlem Book Fair. It was really a last-minute decision, because I was EXHAUSTED, but I need to network. That is something that needs definite improvement in my skillset, I feel, so I went.

Glad I did. I really only sat through two panels: the one on African-American Publishing and the one on Black Romance and Street Fiction. That last one was the main reason I went to NYC, and I wasn't disappointed. Although the Publishing panel was more geared to nonfiction/self-help publishing, it highlighted the importance of African-American booksellers, word-of-mouth, and creative ways to gain access to the resources the major mainstream/white publishers have in comparison. As an African-American author who writes primarily Interracial romances no less, that was a very worthwhile panel for me, because I know it's going to be harder for me to gain access to some of those resources than other types of romance writers. However, the Black Romance panel . . .

I rode on the elevator with Sandra Kitt and didn't figure it out until she sat on the panel.


Clearly I was more exhausted than I thought, because Sandra Kitt . . . she was THE FIRST black romance novelist/interracial romance novelist that I EVER read. Ever. And my slow self didn't catch on it was her, which meant I missed a GREAT opportunity to talk to her. But, she was fantastic on the panel. She broke down the history of black romance, kind of shocked it's only a few years older than I am, and she talked about her way of writing her novels. She, like I, can't just have them falling into the bed after a sentence. She takes the slow-burn approach. And considering she was the first I read, maybe that's why I do, too. But it's hard for me to write sex/intimacy just for the sake of it. Like Ms. Kitt, it has to make sense for the characters and the story, or else why bother?

Also on the panel were Leslie Esdaile (LA Banks), Gwynne Forster, and Nathasha Brooks-Harris; and it was moderated by Donna Hill. Just listening to these ladies speak was so informative and wonderful. I learned so much--I think I was probably the only one there with a notepad and writing notes, like I was Black Romance 101 and I had a quiz in two days! After the panel, I found a huge pair of ovaries somehow and approached them all. Ms. Forster actually remembered me from Chicago, which is notable because the only interaction we had was me asking her to autograph my book of hers! Ms. Brooks-Harris, who sat on the panel with me and Ms. Jenkins, gave me a hug and her contact info! And THEN, in a move that surprised even me, I asked them to sign MY proof copies of The Beauty Within and Reconstructing Jada Channing because I didn't have a book of theirs to sign--to give me inspiration and encouragement when I start to lose focus and faith. They did so willingly, even Ms. Banks, who I'd never met until I asked her to sign my book. They were all so gracious and stayed and signed as many books after the panel as they could. The only reason Ms. Kitt couldn't was because she had a panel directly after the Black Romance and Street Fiction one ended, or else I would've asked her to sign too.

After that, I met an online friend who, which shocked me, said I was the first romance novelist she'd ever read. Wha? MORE shocking was she was the SECOND person to tell me this in as many weeks (the first being my coworker who actually read the proof copy of The Beauty Within before I even did--said she loved it. yay!)! She was patient and let me meet some members from Beverly Jenkins's Yahoo Group and the authors to sign my books. Unfortunately, the long week had caught up to me during the panel because I had a headache the size of Jupiter, so she let me get some drugs from the corner market (the combination of the lack of sleep, eating little that morning, the heat (it was HOT), and meeting everyone . . . she was awesome with her understanding). Then I had to hurry to a manuscript pitch, and she had to go to the ATM because she was buying two copies of AJ's Serendipity for me. Yay!

Of course, I got sidetracked walking through the Fair and talked with an author, Lizette G. Carter, who was with a traditional publisher and self-published her second release and doesn't regret the move. This is further ironic because the manuscript pitch I gave was actually for HBF Publishers, a DIY publishing company established by the same person who started the Harlem Book Fair. I thought it was going to be an editor from a publishing house, but I'm glad because I now have yet another avenue to get my books out there, and it sounds like something that people should keep an eye on in the future. They liked my pitch, and apparently so much so because the reps mention me on their blog!

Too cool! Especially since I know I was among the last to have a pitch with them!

But, of course, to further complicate things, I spoke to Ms. Banks again to thank her for signing my book and briefly about my publishing experience thus far, and she encouraged me to talk to her editor at St. Martin's Press, because traditional publishing is the way to go, in her opinion.

So, two votes self-pub, and two votes traditional pub, because Ms. Banks is VERY successful and clearly it's worked for her fantastically.

I don't know what got to me, people, but I must've been either too tired to let my shyness hinder me or the pain medication I took to get rid of the headache gave me some extra courage. I talked to the editor and gave her my card, and she was lovely with giving me advice and quick To-Do and Not-to-Do pointers for when I submit to editors and agents. Considering the fair was winding down, I was very appreciative of her taking the time out to talk to me!

Finally, I leave and meet up with a friend I hadn't seen since I went natural with my hair (so, over five years ago). He gives me the name of his agent, who SELLS books, and we talk about ways in which to get our names out there (he writes, too, mainly commercial fiction/thrillers). I hope I helped him with my limited expertise, but his connections into the publishing industry are really out of control, so I don't see him having such an issue with getting his work into the right hands, and he has a style and a product that lends itself well to crossover/mainstream publication.

So I make it back from my weekend in NYC (complete with an, essentially, two-hour detour to Philly because I got on the wrong bus! yes . . . 50-hour weeks are clearly no good), and then from then until about last Friday not an original thought crossed my head because I had no space. Couldn't really even be excited that my first contracted story The Coach's Counselor was going to be released at the end of the month because I was THAT out of it. I even thought the stuff I'd already written was utter garbage, which made Aliyah want to reach through her monitor and slap me for speaking, in her opinion, utter nonsense.

Well, I'm better now! I'm writing again, on Trolling Nights especially, which those who have read drafts are loving, especially Tim . . . which I really can't blame them because he is a whole lot of hotness (Maybe I'll be nice and post up a few more chapters here, yeah?). The Beauty Within is formatted and ready to go barring me seeing just ridiculous errors in this (hopefully) final proof. Other authors are doing the dang thing and releasing books so I'm never bored when my own characters are trippin'. And I'm an Author Spotlight on Rae's blog! Check it out!