Tuesday, August 30, 2011

2011 READ a BOOK DAY

SEPTEMBER 6th - National Read A Book Day

Next Tuesday is the National Read a Book Day.

SORMAG is excited to be a part of this day and we invite you to join us in reading a book.

The holiday is designed to encourage us to take time from our busy lives and relax with a great book. This year we have selected Shana Burton’s Catt Chasin’(Urban Books) as our 2011 Read a Book Day Pick.

Would you like to join us?

To join us is an easy three step process:

Join us all month long on Facebook by clicking here (http://on.fb.me/bookmonth).

If you do not own a copy, click here to purchase one (http://amzn.to/cattchase)

Share http://amzn.to/cattchase with your friends on Facebook or Twitter/

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Monday, August 29, 2011

FEATURED AUTHOR: Tonya Lampley


Tonya was born and raised and currently resides in Ohio with her husband. After she graduated from the University of Cincinnati, she pursued a career in the corporate arena, working in the areas of sales and marketing, employee benefits and recruiting. Eventually, she left corporate America to pursue a career as a life and career coach.

As she continued on her own path to fulfillment, she was surprised to discover a natural talent and love for writing. She began writing a coaching newsletter and online articles, and then her first novel began to take shape. Her debut novel is titled A Taste of Love.


How did you start out your writing career?

It started by accident, actually. I read in a magazine that creative writing was a good way to relieve stress. I had grown dissatisfied with my corporate job and I started writing as a distraction. I sat at the computer one day and began the story. I finished a couple of chapters and walked away from it, only to pick it up where I left off years later after months of self discovery, a career change and an unexpected illness. Life can be funny.

What did you learn while writing this book?

Patience, for one. For me, good writing takes time. It comes from a place outside of me. I can’t rush it. I can’t force it. There are some days that it just won’t come and I have to be okay with that. There are times when I try to force it, but I can tell the writing is different. It’s not as good. I have developed a healthy respect for the creative process and those that earn their living by it.

I’ve also learned that writing can be very subjective. What pleases one, might not satisfy another. I appreciate the diversity of the human experience and the variation that is life. I love that we live in an environment where we have choice!

I would say the biggest thing I’ve learned is that writing spurs me on to greater growth. I’m challenged daily as I learn more about the craft; wanting to give readers the very best experience that I can. I’m moving beyond my natural “bent” toward introversion as I form new partnerships and connect with readers. Even the story itself reminds me that we are all doing the very best that we can, allowing me greater compassion for others and their experiences.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

I really just wanted to immerse readers in a good story. A moment where they can disconnect from the hustle and bustle of life and forget about the day to day “stuff” for a little while. If something about the story allows someone to see themselves or a particular subject in a different way…that’s icing on the cake!

Which character did you have the most fun writing about?

The juicy, strong and silent Daniel. I’ve noticed that the male characters seem to capture my heart a little. I find the minds of men completely fascinating. I find it interesting to get inside their heads and write from their perspective. They think completely different from us, ladies. We make a huge mistake in believing that the way in which they think is the same. Their needs and motivations are different.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?

How rapidly the industry is changing…my head is spinning.

What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?

I love the creative process—telling the story and getting it down on paper. The editing process is another story…I’ll just say…it’s growing on me. I’ve learned to try to write cleaner the first time, so that when I go back and edit, it’s not as much work. Outlines help me with this as well. In a perfect writing world, I fly by the seat of pants and just let the story come forth but I’m finding that having a tiny bit of structure( which is about all I can stand), helps me keep track of the story better.


What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?

I came to the writing world completely na├»ve. It was probably better that way. This business isn’t for the faint of heart. If I had known even one thing about it, I might not have seriously considered it.

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

As with any other field, get confirmation of your gift from others and make sure you’re passionate about what you’re doing. When the going gets tough, your love for it will allow you to stick with it. As for the don’t— don’t give up.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

For me, it can be hard work, even though I love it. I expend and incredible amount energy when I’m working on a story or trying to get a scene and a character just right. When I hear people say they started a book but never finished, my heart goes out to them. I understand completely.


If you could be a character from any book you've read, who would you be?

Great question! In most of the books I read, the characters are a little messed up. At least in the beginning, anyway (smile). That’s true for the stories I write as well. I’ll answer this way: my junk and drama, past and present is mixed up in all the characters I write and others I read about as well.


When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?


I love movies and spending time with my husband and close friends. I also love to learn new things. I read both fiction and non-fiction.


What do you do to interact with your readers?

This is one of my favorite parts. I’m always completely overjoyed when someone who has read the book contacts me. Please visit me at www.tonyalampley.com and send me an email, whether you have a question about me or the story, I promise I’ll respond. Please friend me on Facebook as well. If readers sign up for my newsletter, they’ll receive periodic updates of what I’m up to. I’m new to Twitter but I am hoping that I can connect and dialogue with readers there as well.


Our theme for this month is NON-FICTION. Have you ever written non-fiction? If so what did you write?

I have plans to. I have the outline for the book already. I’m a certified Life Coach and it’s my sincerest wish that everyone create their ideal life. My hope is to write something that will start people on their journey. This is also the theme of my blog at http://www.tonyalampley.wordpress.com/ called Chapter One.

Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

Life is delicious and our role here is to expand and become everything that God has called us to be.

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

The story centers around a guy who is basically his own worst enemy. Full of game and swagger, he knows he’s capable of being a “real” man and leaving his past immaturity behind. He can feel the potential inside. The larger part of him wants more out of life, but he just keeps making one bad choice after another. His true love leaves him and takes his son, he marries a woman who’s good, but he doesn’t love her, feeling trapped, he tries to cheat with a customer and almost gets caught and finally, he makes one mistake that just might cost him his life.

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

http://www.tonyalampley.com/
http://www.tonyalampley.wordpress.com/
Facebook: Tonya Lampley
Twitter: Tonya Lampley
Goodreads: Tonya Lampley
Shelfari: Tonya Lampley


A Taste of Love

Alex has got this one in the bag. An admitted control freak, she has planned every move that has led her to this moment. She has worked her tail to the bone for several years as stockbroker, at one of Chicago's prestigious investment firms, and her sacrifice is just about to pay off. She is about to break the chained hands of the Old Boys Club and join the ranks of senior management. All she is waiting for is confirmation from the board. They invite her to a meeting to hear her ideas on what direction she would like to see the company head in. She welcomes the one last opportunity to dazzle them. Her presentation is all set, she’s ready to make the pitch. Piece of cake…

And in walks Daniel. Tall, dark, and luscious. Where did he come from? Who is he? How was he hired without her knowledge? His presence sends her into a tailspin. As time goes on she finds herself reluctantly falling for him and going against every belief that has gotten her to where she is today. Will she surrender to love and plunge head first into the abyss or will she listen to the voice inside that is telling her that if something looks too good to be true, it usually is?

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

FEATURED AUTHOR: Naseem Rakha


Naseem is an award-winning author and journalist whose stories have been heard on NPR’s All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Marketplace Radio, Christian Science Monitor, and Living on Earth. She lives in Oregon with her husband, son, and many animals. When Naseem isn’t writing, she’s reading, knitting, hiking, gardening, or just watching the seasons roll in and out.

The capacity to forgive the unforgivable has long intrigued Rakha. She has witnessed it in her work as a teacher and consultant for Native American tribes, as a mediator in the clean up of the nuclear site that created the Nagasaki bomb, and as a reporter covering state run executions. It was this later experience that led her to write her groundbreaking novel The Crying Tree. Set in southern Illinois and central Oregon, Rakha tells a story of a mother who must overcome the hate, grief, and secrets that surround the murder of her 15-year-old son, and defy church and family as she attempts to stop the execution of the man who killed her boy.

With the heart of a storyteller, Naseem explores the death penalty and forgiveness with her audience through the lens of our justice system, her experiences as a reporter for public radio, as well as subsequent interviews with crime victims, inmates, corrections officials and exonerated death row prisoners. In composing her work, Naseem relies on the backdrop of the land and the landscape of human lives to build drama, emotion and depth. Naseem finds that within these very human stories lie a multitude of lessons about duty, honor, grief, pain, hatred and the degree to which forgiveness can not only extend but also heal. For writers searching for their own voice, Naseem has much to offer with her methods of reaching readers through characters and place.

How did you start out your writing career?

My life did not lead in a direct route to a writing career. I have had at least two dozen different “jobs,” from cocktail waitress to geologist. I have always known, however, that of all things I do, writing was my greatest passion.

Some of my first memories are of writing: poems, stories, diaries, articles about what was happening at school or in my neighborhood - a housing project on the south side of Chicago, anything. Then, at age nine, I discovered Louise Fitzhugh’s novel, Harriet the Spy, and my life changed. From that moment on, I was not just a writer, I was a spy. I watched my world like a hawk watches a field, and then I wrote about it. The patterns of speech, the color of carpets, the smells of cars, the feel of bodies compressing into elevators, the sound of birds, and music and my neighbors fighting and sirens as they ricocheted up to our 22nd floor apartment. It was not a hobby, not just “something to do,” it was the way I related to my world. The way I could see it, and then see it again. A way to live twice, as author Natalie Goldberg says in her beautiful book Writing Down to the Bones.

My thought is that writers are created in utero. That somewhere in the fetus’s development that part of the brain that will one day understand language, and put that language into meaning is supersaturated with whatever juice is needed so that when the time comes and words begin to flow, they feel like keys - each one of them - with the potential to unlock the most exquisite of emotions and compelling of ideas.

My first official job which entitled me to use my writing skills full time was as a journalist for public radio. I was thirty-five, traveling the world as a consultant on environmental issues, when I heard a story on NPR that made me think - I want to do that!

So, I took myself to a local public radio station, where I learned to cut and splice tape, hold a microphone, and ask questions. I would spend my time at the Oregon State Capitol, writing and producing stories on topics of interest to me. Soon, I was hired on as a capitol reporter for a consortium of NW public radio stations, and soon after that I was asked to cover Oregon’s first execution in over 34 years. The story was played on local and National Public Radio and won an Associated Press award. From my perspective, the story I told for that venue felt like only a slim slice of the full story that I wanted to tell. Thereafter I went into our prisons, talked with staff and inmates, as well as crime victims and attorneys. The result was my novel The Crying Tree. The novel was sold at auction to Broadway Books, from Random House, and is now an international best seller published in eleven languages.

What did you learn while writing this book?

I learned I had the focus, creativity, mailability, patience and determination to write a book. If one of these things were missing, I would not have written a book. Writing a book is HARD work. In a sense a writer is a puny god -- creating characters and their worlds, a setting, lifestyle, belief system and conflicts that are not only believable but ring true to the readers. This is essential. I am a very picky reader, and will often get the urge to throw a book across the room if a writer side steps the critical step of really getting to know their characters. Shallow characters make for a shallow reading experience, and I simply don’t have enough time in my life to spend with superficial engagements.

I learned that writers are in essence in a contract with a reader. We are asking the reader to give up a part of their life to spend with you and your world. In exchange, we will give you something authentic. Something that will, hopefully, make you think and feel, hopefully swoon, and cry and ideally, reframe your world view to include ideas and thoughts they had not had before.

To do this a writer must have a strong sense of what they are working on and why. There are far too many naysayers out there willing and able to knock writers off track with superfluous questions such as: do you have an agent? Who buys books now anyway? And do you have any idea how hard it is to sell a book? I learned to walk away from these people, and get back to work.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

I hoped to write a book that people would move people and get them to think, and feel compelled to lean over to a complete stranger and say - read this. I wanted people to talk about the book. To debate it and carry it around and mark it up and weep over it and shout for joy and look up from time to time and say, ‘I get that. I understand.’ I wanted to write a book which felt absolutely real to readers. And I wanted people to come away feeling a little more open to the idea that we all make mistakes. We all fail, but we all have a choice about what we do next.

Which character did you have the most fun writing about?

All the characters ended up surprising me in various ways, and it was always a delight to see where we would end up. It all felt very organic. My favorite character, though, was Tab Mason, the Superintendent of the Oregon State Penitentiary. I liked the pacing of Tab’s chapters, I liked the way he thought, and I (because I imagined him quite attractive,) enjoyed moving around in his body.

What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?

I love the creative aspect of writing the most. When writers are “creating” (versus editing) the words feel as if they emerge of their own accord. They feel driven by some lucid internal flame, always dancing and converging in unpredictable ways. This is the dream space writing. It is a place all creatives - from painters and potters to writers like me - fall into. Studies have shown that when people are in that space, they are literally producing the same brain waves they use while dreaming - that lovely chaotic universe where memories, feelings and thoughts are juxtaposed in ways our literal, judgmental and practical conscious mind would never bother to come up with. When I emerge from this space, and look at what I have written I am generally surprised, happy and a little bit in awe of the whole experience.

What I hate is inserting edits. It takes for ever, is boring and a pain. I guess it is something I could hire someone to do, but invariably doing it myself helps me deconstruct my writing and then re-build it into something richer.

What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?

I wish I knew John Grisham, because I really think he would like The Crying Tree. I appreciate what he does with his work, the topics he addresses in an attempt to get people to be conscious of the inequities in our justice system.

I wish I knew Denzel Washington, because I think he would make a great Tab Mason.

And I wish I knew a way to get this book to every inmate and victims rights group I could.

Can you give us some dos and one don’ts for those aspiring to be a writer?

Do write every single day. Don’t say ‘one day.’
Do read widely. Any genre. Any topic. Don’t say ‘why bother?’
Do mark up your books. Write notes. What makes you laugh, what makes you cry, what makes you board, what makes you aroused. And then figure out how the author did it. Don’t read blindly, find the tricks, learn them.
Do find a group of people that you can share your writing with. Don’t listen to everything they say.
Do tell yourself this is important. Don’t tell yourself it doesn’t matter.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

That we need time to be alone.

If you could be a character from any book you've read, who would you be?

JK Rowling’s Hermione Granger (though I think I would have gone for Harry, not Ron.)

When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?

Play with my son, read, garden, think about writing, sleep, knit, think about writing, cook, clean, think about writing. Road trips.

What do you do to interact with your readers?

I keep people up to date on my activities through a letter I send out from time to time - they can sign up for it on my web page: http://www.naseemrakha.com/

I keep a blog on my Red Room page: http://www.redroom.com/author/naseem-rakha

I attend book groups in person, through conference calls and even skype.
I speak at writers conferences and teach.
I speak and teach at prisons.
And I answer each and every one of my emails and letters.

Our theme for this month is NON-FICTION. Have you ever written non-fiction? If so what did you write?

The Crying Tree was inspired by stories I did for public radio while covering the first executions held in the state of Oregon in more than 34 years. I have written loads of non-fiction, and continue to do so for papers such as the Guardian and Washington Post. Links to some of that work can be found on my web site.

Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

About my book? I knew for sure that I wanted to write a book about forgiving the unforgivable, and I knew for sure that I did not want to write a polemic. And I knew for sure that I believed in the power of words. And I knew for sure that if I were to ask people to take time to read my book, I had better make it as good as I possibly could.

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

I am deep into book two: another family drama - looking at the issue of death and dying set in rural Oregon. A family comes together after their mother has had a catastrophic stroke and struggles with what the best and most kind course of medical action would be. It is a love story and a story of family obligation versus medical ethics.

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

My web site is http://www.naseemrakha.com/
My email: naseem@naseemrakha.com
My mail: PO Box 694 Silverton, Oregon 97381


The Crying Tree

Irene and Nate Stanley are living a quiet and contented life with their two children, Bliss and Shep, on their family farm in southern Illinois when Nate suddenly announces he’s been offered a job as a deputy sheriff in Oregon. Irene fights her husband. She does not want to uproot her family and has deep misgivings about the move. Nevertheless, the family leaves, and they are just settling into their life in Oregon’s high desert when the unthinkable happens. Fifteen-year-old Shep is shot and killed during an apparent robbery in their home. The murderer, a young mechanic with a history of assault, robbery, and drug-related offenses, is caught and sentenced to death.

Shep’s murder sends the Stanley family into a tailspin, with each member attempting to cope with the tragedy in his or her own way. Irene’s approach is to live, week after week, waiting for Daniel Robbin’s execution and the justice she feels she and her family deserve. Those weeks turn into months and then years. Ultimately, faced with a growing sense that Robbin’s death will not stop her pain, Irene takes the extraordinary and clandestine step of reaching out to her son’s killer. The two forge an unlikely connection that remains a secret from her family and friends.

Years later, Irene receives the notice that she had craved for so long—Daniel Robbin has stopped his appeals and will be executed within a month. This announcement shakes the very core of the Stanley family. Irene, it turns out, isn’t the only one with a shocking secret to hide. As the execution date nears, the Stanleys must face difficult truths and find a way to come to terms with the past.

Dramatic, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting, The Crying Tree is an unforgettable story of love and redemption, the unbreakable bonds of family, and the transformative power of forgiveness.

BOOK TRAILER

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-Q3m0BTV-g




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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

COLUMN: ARE YOU ON THE NET


Online Promotion Plan VII


11. Have you researched forums that promote your genre?

12. Have you created your list of forums you want to be on?

13. Have you sent out letters to the forums?


Now its time to do a little more networking, your goal is to introduce new readers to your new book and your website. A good place for this is by visiting readers/writer forums/grouups.

FORUMS/GROUPS/LISTS

Forums/groups are message boards you can post messages. Lists are usually emails that come as individual emails or digest forms.

Readers love forums/groups/lists especially if they can discuss their favorite topic, books. If you plan on joining a few forums/lists, read their rules first. Many forums/groups/lists hate for writers who join just to announce their books. Be a real member, be active, this let the members of the forum/groups/lists know you're part of the group and not just using the forum/groups/lists as an advertising tool.

This is the place to exercise your signature. Make sure every time you make a post or send an email that you have your signature at the bottom.

Many of the new writers I've found have been through their signatures on the lists or forums I belong to.

The best thing I like about forums and lists is all the expertise on them. I can post a question and I know someone will take a moment to answer it. You can be that person who answers the question. Share your knowledge. Members will remember and when you're book comes out. They will pick it up and recommend it to others.

You can find forums/groups/lists on yahoo.com, delphiforums.com, msn.com and aol.com, most social media sites just to name a few. Do a search for the forum/groups/lists that represent the genre you write.

BOOK DISCUSSION

Online is a great way to do book discussions. They can be held on forums, groups, lists and chatrooms. Contact the forums and lists and see if they're interested in discussing your book.

One forum I belonged to had deep discussions about current books. It’s even more interesting if the author is participating in the discussions. The reader gets to ask them about the book, the characters, the plot and they can answer these
questions.

After the discussion ask the participants to post reviews on amazon.com. No fake reviews. Readers can spot them a mile away.

CHAT ROOMS

Many forums have chat rooms and you can take advantage of this by being a guest for a forum. They love getting new writers. For example, a forum I managed use to host monthly chats with authors. The author would discuss their books and answer questions from those attending the chat.

One of the most memorable chats I attended was with Rochelle Alers. We were discussing her book Vows, sharing our thoughts on the book and the hero, Joshua. Years later, the people who attended this chat are still talking about it. That's what you want people to do, talk about your book.


TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL CHAT

• Do prepare in advance

• Practice answering questions

• Promote it a week or two before list chat time, day and location.

• The day of the chat send reminder.

• Use the bathroom before.

• Try not to drink too much before and during the chat.

• Always log into a chat at least five minutes before. Chat rooms sometimes have a tendency to be hard to connect to. (Some chat rooms you have to download software to use them. You want to give yourself plenty of time to sign in.) You don't want to miss the chat because you waited too late to sign on.

• Have a brief bio of yourself, mention your site, a little about the topic you plan to discuss.

• Answer questions personally, attendees like to feel you're talking to them.

• Be aware some chat rooms don't let you cut and past so type fast.

• Be prepared for being booted out of the chat room

• Offer giveaways ( I like to give gifts to the first and the last to attend the chat)

• Give a sample chapter of upcoming release to those who email you after the chat. (Great database builder)

• Don't worry about how many attend the chat. (Some of the best chat have been with five or less people. I find them more personal)

• If the transcript is posted afterwards, this is an excellent way for more promotion especially for those who missed the chat.

• Always send a thank you note to the chat host. Check with them at a later date for another chat.

LETTER OF INTRO

Now you know all about forums/groups/lists and what you can do on them. You ready to send out a letters of introduction to offer your services.

EXAMPLE:


Greetings in the name of literature,


My name is LaShaunda C. Hoffman. I'm currently promoting my new book and would like to introduce it to your forum members. I’m available to host workshops or chats. I have a variety of subjects to discuss (relationships, Christian life, blogging, natural hair care, online marketing or about writing) or we can have a discussion about my book.


If this sounds like something you would like to do, please reply to this message.


I look forward to working with you.




LaShaunda C. Hoffman
writerlch@yahoo.com


Promoting on forums/groups/lists are great way to network. You meet new readers and writers who just might introduce you to other readers, writers and sites.


Next month we will break down more of these questions to help you continue to build your plan.

Can’t wait to next month, contact me –sormag@yahoo.com.  I’m available for private online promotion coaching.

Until then,

I’ll see you on the net.

LaShaunda C. Hoffman

LaShaunda is the creator of SORMAG – Shades Of Romance Magazine. She has 11 years of experience on online promotion, most she learned from trial and error. She has taught workshops on online promotion and is available for private online promotion coaching.



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Monday, August 22, 2011

FEATURED AUTHOR: Monica “Dr. Moe” Anderson’s

Monica “Dr. Moe” Anderson’s debut novel, When A Sistah’s FED UP, was an Essence magazine bestseller in 2006. Her latest release, Sinphony, is a fast-paced, hilarious romance novel. She is the author of five books in three different genres and a contributor to several anthologies. This mother of two is also a freelance writer for an online dental journal Drbicuspid.com. When she's not writing, Dr. Moe is a motivational speaker and practicing Doctor of Dental Surgery in Texas. As a result of her tireless community service, Dr. mOe has been honored as an “Outstanding Community Leader” by the Texas Legislative Black Caucus. She is a proud, third-generation member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.
Learn more at http://www.drmoeanderson.com/ and follow her on Twitter @drmoeanderson.

How did you start out your writing career?

I was born a writer. It’s in my DNA. I’ve written plays, poems, songs, and short stories since I was a child. My professional career began as a freelance journalist for a sports magazine, The Viking Update, in 1989, however.

What did you learn while writing this book?

The main character in Sinphony is a third grade teacher. Talking to dozens of teachers for my research gave me a fresh perspective on how difficult classroom management has become with our latest generation of children. I also vicariously felt the pressure they are under to make sure students excel on standardized tests. I don’t know how they do it.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

I’m a big fan of parents, especially mothers. Of my three novels, two have hardworking mothers (Sinphony and When A Sistah’s Fed Up) as the main characters. My goal is to remind women (including me) of the need for fun and personal boundaries that no one, not even family, can impose upon. ‘Cause when mama ain’t happy…

Which character did you have the most fun writing about?

Ebonee (When A Sistah’s Fed Up) who is a ghetto fabulous type by night and a much more conservative sales person at an upscale department store by day. She’s a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde. I love writing about characters who are nothing like me—I think. I guess most of us have a hidden hoochie in the closets of our minds. LOL.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?

The low pay.

What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?

I love the creation of the novel and the publication. I really enjoy speaking at book events and serving on literary panels. Traveling and all the marketing stuff—not so much.

What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?

1. How to cope with difficult/dishonest people and not lose my cool.
2. That persistent resistance is God’s way of letting you know you need to take a detour.
3. Telling the truth doesn’t mean telling everything you know.


Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

Do listen to your heart and don’t listen to your relatives (about your writing only.) Get expert help and study the craft even if you have natural talent.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

The low pay so please stop asking for discounts and free books. We have to pay for them before we sell them. Seriously, it’s a big problem. If you want to help your writer friend or favorite author, promote them at your job, girls’ nite, or host a signing. Then ask for a free book!

If you could be a character from any book you've read, who would you be?

Oooh great question! Well, it wouldn’t be the Proverbs Woman. She worked way too hard. (Yes, I know it’s a composite of several women but many people don’t get that part.) Okay this is stretching it since “character” implies fiction, but I’d be Michelle Obama in the President’s memoir! Ha!

When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?

Nature walks, watch movie/documentaries, read, spend time with family and friends.

What do you do to interact with your readers?

Attend a lot of literary events, social networks with book clubs, internet interviews with call-ins, and respond to emails personally…

Our theme for this month is NON-FICTION. Have you ever written non-fiction? If so what did you write?

Yes, my first two books: Black English Vernacular: From Ain’t To Yo Mama, and Mom, Are We There Yet?

Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

God is sovereign. That’s all.

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

It’s a sequel to my Essence Bestselling first novel, When A Sistah’s Fed Up. I kinda left readers hanging about what Faith Henry would do now that she’s no longer married or the Mayor. Hmmm? There will be drama, romance, and lots of laugh out loud scenes. Look for it in 2012.

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

http://www.drmoeanderson.com/ or info@drmoeanderson.com
Follow me on Twitter: @drmoeanderson
My novels are available as e-books and paperback online.

Thank you for your continued support Shades of Romance and your readers! Smooches~ mOe


Sinphony

Nona Huff hasn't been lucky in love or life in general. She has lived through a rough divorce and raised two boys with a little help from her parents. After working herself through college, she is finally teaching at an elementary school she loves. Feeling the need to shield her heart, she is dating with no strings attached, getting her happy back, and hoping for a promotion to vice-principal. There are only three things standing in her way—

*Franklin, mature and successful with the sex drive of a shoelace. He’s a big horn in public so she plays him for her friends and family.
*Terry, the much younger artist, who makes her feel his age. He strums her like a Spanish guitar in private.

*Vince, her new colleague, who would be the perfect man if he wasn't after her dream job.

She chose the “independent” label because she’s already made an A+ in Heartbreak 101. It was a hard, painful lesson learned. Now that she's directing the sheet music, can anyone touch her heartstrings?

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Friday, August 19, 2011

FEATURED AUTHOR: Sharon Ewell Foster


Sharon Ewell Foster - a former Defense Department instructor, writer,
analyst, and logistician, is the only African American to win the Christy
Award for her historical novel, Passing by Samaria,also chosen as the NAACP
Book of the Year in 2000. She is a speaker and author of seven previous
novels that have earned her a loyal following that crosses market, gender,
and racial boundaries. Foster has been a contributor to Daily Guideposts
for over 10 years.


How did you start out your writing career?

First, LaShaunda, congratulations on 11 years! Thank you for all you've
done to bring writers and readers together. Thank you for supporting me.
My first book, Passing by Samaria, was published in 1999 and was the NAACP
Book of the Year in 2000. I think I've been in shock since the time someone
told me they wanted to publish it, until now. I didn't ever really believe
I would be published. I am thankful to God and to all the readers who have
supported and encouraged me.

What did you learn while writing this book?

I started out to write a book about the historical figure, Nat Turner. All
the history is based on a pamphlet called The Confessions of Nat Turner as
told to an attorney, Thomas Gray. I spent five years--analyzing trial
transcripts, interviewing descendants, checking records, what I learned was
that it was all a lie. The story we've been told for 180 years is a lie, a
cover up. I learned that people in power have been lying for 180 years. I
want people to read the book, The Resurrection of Nat Turner, and spread the
truth.

August 22 will be the 180th anniversary of the revolt. Read the book;
spread the truth.


What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

I thought that as a person of color, I could humanize Nat Turner. . . tell
the story of his wife, his child, his mother. Now, I want to yell the
truth. It was all a lie. This has been like writing Roots meets The
DaVinci Code. Now, I want people to know the truth about Nat Turner. I
want teachers to teach it. I want people to know and be proud of this black
man who stood up for freedom and liberty, who was willing to risk his life
for his family and for his people.

Which character did you have the most fun writing about?

All of them were really interesting. There are some serious, lying
villains. But I think I really enjoyed writing his mother. She was
Ethiopian and I learned so much about the ancient culture--castles and
cathedrals in Africa, Black images of Mary and Jesus on the church
walls--images that date back to the 4th century. It was very enlightening
and empowering.


What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?

It's a very unpredictable business. But what has surprised me most is how
faithful and encouraging my readers are. I get emails: where are you? when
is the next book? keep writing, we need you. Those emails and letters, the
words are so encouraging. I'm grateful. My readers are always in my
prayers and I ask God's blessings on them.

What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?

I love writing, trying to find the story, and developing it. I used to not
like marketing so much, but I'm enjoying it this time: maybe because I feel
like I'm on a mission to spread the truth about Nat Turner. The powers in
the Old South didn't want us to be proud of him, or proud of ourselves.
We've been living with this lie, teaching this lie, for 180 years.


What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are
now?

I don't really have any regrets. I'm grateful. Everything hasn't been
perfect, I've had tough times, but I've learned from it all. Even the tough
things have made me a better person.

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

There are 101 people who can give you technical advice. But, I would say
don't get caught in the jealousy or envy trap. A lot of writers don't enjoy
the journey because they let jealousy distract them. Do encourage your
brother and sister writers. Pray for them. The good you do will come back
to you.


What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

Writing is hard, hard work. Be nice to writers. Getting published doesn't
mean you're rich. lol. It's like the movie business. The publishers are
looking at sales. If you want writers like Maya Angelou, Walter Moseley,
Jacquelin Thomas, or even me, to keep being published you have to support by
buying books--especially in the first three months. Otherwise, we'll fade
away . . . there won't be quality black books or movies.

If you could be a character from any book you've read, who would you be?

It's hard for me to answer about a character. I love reading. I enjoy
characters, but my mother, Armeta, told us, "To thine own self be true!"
She drilled it into my brothers and me. I like who I am. Now, there are
places in books I'd like to travel to and characters I'd like to meet. In
one of my books, Ain't No Valley, one of my characters ends up living near a
beach in California and she meets Sly Stone. I would enjoy that. lol


When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?

I read, I volunteer, and I swim. I take a powerhouse water aerobics class.
I also really enjoy movies.

What do you do to interact with your readers?

I connect with readers by email, Facebook, and at book signings. I do a
number of speaking engagements and teach writing workshops at conferences.
I'm thinking of trying to skype and teach classes online.


Our theme for this month is NON-FICTION. Have you ever written non-fiction?
If so what did you write?

The Resurrection of Nat Turner is fact-based, but I've also contributed
non-fiction pieces to SistahFaith, Tavis Smiley's Keepin' the Faith, The
Women of Color Devotional Bible, and I've been a regular contributor to
Daily Guideposts for over 10 years.


Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?


Funny. I was just speaking a scholarship banquet about what I know for
sure.

It's online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v​=xjTJCAYE470


But for today, if you seek the truth, you'll find it.






The Resurrection of Nat Turner, Part 1: The Witnesses


The truth has been buried more than one hundred years . . . Leading a small
army of slaves, Nat Turner was a man born with a mission: to set the
captives free. When words failed, he ignited an uprising that left over
fifty whites dead. In the predawn hours of August 22, 1831, Nat Turner
stormed into history with a Bible in one hand, brandishing a sword in the
other. His rebellion shined a national spotlight on slavery and the state of
Virginia and divided a nation's trust. Turner himself became a lightning rod
for abolitionists like Harriet Beecher Stowe and a terror and secret shame
for slave owners. In The Resurrection of Nat Turner, Part 1: The Witnesses,
Nat Turner's story is revealed through the eyes and minds of slaves and
masters, friends and foes. In their words is the truth of the mystery and
conspiracy of Nat Turner's life, death, and confession. The Resurrection of
Nat Turner spans more than sixty years, sweeping from the majestic highlands
of Ethiopia to the towns of Cross Keys and Jerusalem in Southampton County.
Using extensive research, Sharon Ewell Foster breaks hallowed ground in this
epic novel, revealing long-buried secrets about this tragic hero.


Interview

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DEbk1PDqPpE



Audiobook Prologue excerpt http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJNQRCoObKw

Embed




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Thursday, August 18, 2011

FEATURED AUTHOR: Keith Thomas Walker

Keith Thomas Walker is a graduate of Texas Wesleyan University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English. He enjoys reading, poetry, and music of all genres. Keith currently works in administration at one of the city’s largest hospitals. He lives in Fort Worth, Texas with his wife and two children.

How did you start out your writing career?

I published my first book in 2009, but I’ve been writing since the 6th grade, ever since I read Pet Sematary by Stephen King. I was amazed at how a man I had virtually nothing in common with could sit behind a keyboard and make people all over the world feel so many strong emotions. I wanted to be like him one day. Still do.

What did you learn while writing this book?

With The Finley Sisters’ Oath of Romance, I learned that it is possible to write a book with multiple main characters (all female) and still keep their personalities separate and unique. I know other authors have done this before, but this was my first time.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

My primary goal is always to entertain. But all of my books are inspirational and heartwarming. I want my readers to believe they can overcome their circumstances and rise above mundane or even abusive situations. I want my readers to love themselves and expect the best out of life.

Which character did you have the most fun writing about?

I think I had the most fun writing about Mona. She’s very honest and sexual, demanding and shallow. I generally have mixed emotions about women like her, but I fell in love with Mona when I stepped into her shoes, or heels, as it were. Lol.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?

The most surprising thing for me is how shady the business is. I thought the book industry was filled with honest intellectuals who would never stab you in the back. Not so.

What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?

I love writing. Editing, not so much. But I’m an English major (former English teacher), and I’m actually very good at editing. My real editors constantly tell me my “rough drafts” need very little work.

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

Do write as much as possible. One book a year is not enough, until you make it big. Don’t expect to make the bestsellers’ list your first time out. If you do, Amen, but don’t get your hopes up. There’s a lot of competition out there. It’s hard to get noticed.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

Every bit of feedback matters, so if you like a book, don’t hesitate to post a review somewhere. Some folks won’t order a book if they can’t find a review for it.

When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?

I love to read and listen to music. I like to attend and perform at open mic and poetry slam venues. I like to dine out and go to the movies. I enjoy spending time with my kids, tossing a football or getting them involved in reading and writing.

What do you do to interact with your readers?

My readers are important, so I respond to every email and comment I receive on facebook or other websites. Some days I spend more time responding to readers than I do working on my books. It’s an investment that’s definitely worthwhile.

Our theme for this month is NON-FICTION. Have you ever written non-fiction? If so what did you write?

A lot of my poetry is non fiction, and I’ve written a few non-fiction short stories about my trials and tribulations growing up in “the hood.” I’ll write a whole book about my life one day. Most people don’t know how bad I had it growing up poor, hanging with a gang, going to jail. I actually got shot in the head once. Lol. Wait, that’s not funny…

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

My next book is Blow by Blow. This is the story of an up-and-coming boxer and the woman he loves. This is probably the best of my (soon to be) published works. Lonzo dreams of being a champion, but when times get hard he returns to work for a notorious crime boss. Danger soon follows him to the people he loves.

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

Email: kwalkerbooks@yahoo.com
Website: http://keithwalkerbooks.com

THE FINLEY SISTER'S OATH OF ROMANCE
Ten years ago, Mona, Rene and Dawn were the closest and most popular friends at Finley High School. Everyone knew they would be kindred spirits forever, but after graduation the real world lured them in three different directions, and the trio has little contact until their high school reunion. The girls, now women, are instantly inseparable again, but broken promises linger like ghosts from the past. An attempt to recapture the hope and innocence of their youth leads the ladies down a road of discovery that is sometimes hilarious, sometimes sensual, other times dark and painful. And what they thought was their simplest vow, to live love to the fullest, is no easy task for the Finley Sisters.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

BLOG TOUR: Yesterday's Life by Terri D.


A poignant tale of a circle of close knit friends whose lives are more intertwined than they realize; that is until the blurred lines of love, lust and friendship begins to reveal the half-truths and lies that exist. Will the secrets they all hold from the past ruin their friendships and lives forever?A poignant tale of a circle of close knit friends whose lives are more intertwined than they realize; that is until the blurred lines of love, lust and friendship begins to reveal the half-truths and lies that exist. Will the secrets they all hold from the past ruin their friendships and lives forever?


Excerpt from the book
Journal Entry

Tuesday

As each day passes my thoughts of you and desire for you increase. When I close my eyes, I can drift back in time and feel your touch and I imagine I hear your voice. Oh how I wish I could hear your voice. I’ve let you get under my skin, and I feel very vulnerable because I know I’m in a position to get hurt. You told me when we first met, you were not looking for a relationship, and I agreed to your terms. I never expected you to be such a nice guy. I really want to call you but I promised Jada I would wait until Thursday.

In the middle of my entry, I checked the clock and it was only 10:15 pm.

It’s not too late to call, I thought to myself. I grabbed my phone and dialed the number. The phone rang four times. I was just about to disconnect the call when he picked up and answered with a simple, “Hello.”

“Hi Darien,” I said. “This is Toni.”

“Well hello, Ms. Toni,” he said and I felt like he was smiling through the phone. “I was just thinking about you.”

“Really?” I said. “That’s funny because you didn’t call me I called you,” I said with a hint of sarcasm.

“About that,” he started, “I wanted to call you but I got sent out of town on business suddenly yesterday morning. I didn’t have your cell number on me. I’ve been in meetings all day long and have not had a minute to log in to send you an email.”

Trying to sound cool, I said “Darien its okay. I was just concerned because I had not heard from you since you left my house on Sunday, and I had not seen you around the office either. I thought maybe something had happened to you and I just wanted to check on you.”

“Oh I see, well as you can hear, I’m doing okay. I’m in Miami right now and am not sure, when I’m coming home. Hopefully this weekend, but not sure I really want to fly all the way back home just for the weekend when the only thing waiting for me there is my empty bed and my fish.”

Trying to sound very nonchalant, I said, “Yes I can understand that.”
We talked for another few minutes. Then I said, “Darien it’s getting late so I need to go. Did you save my number in your phone?”

“Yes I did.”

“Okay so call me when you can.”

“I will Toni, I promise.”


Journal Entry
Tuesday continued…


I broke down and called you and even though Jada is going to have some choice words for me, I’m glad I did. I really enjoyed talking to you. Our conversation left me wanting more. I’m trying to put my finger on what it’s about you that intrigues me the most. I think it’s a combination of a number of things. First of all, I like your confidence. You carry yourself like you know exactly who you are and what you want. That’s a real turn on. In addition, you try to act like you’re a player and women do not mean that much to you, but I can tell that you really like women. The way you talked about your mom and little sister I can tell you really like women. I mean most straight men like women. They love us and want to make love to us, but they do not really like us. I can tell you do. It’s the way you listen that makes the difference. Women like to be heard more than anything else. I could write so much more but am very tired, so am closing for now. I’m looking forward to hearing from you tomorrow.

I placed my journal back in its hiding place, put my cell phone on the charger, and prepared to turn in for the night. As soon as I turned the light off my cell phone rang. I looked at the clock and it said 11:00 pm. Who is calling me this time at night? I thought to myself. I reached over to grab my phone off the charger to look at the number. It was an unfamiliar out of town number. I think the same one from the other day. Who is this who keeps calling me? I thought. I considered letting it go to voice mail again but I had a feeling I needed to take this call so I answered, “Hello”.

“Hey baby,” was the response on the other end of the phone. I could not believe my ears. I looked around my room and pinched myself to make sure I was really awake and I had not fallen asleep and this was a sick dream.

I said, “Hello”

Again and the voice responded with a chuckle, “Hey baby, it’s Benjamin. I know you recognize my voice.”

Okay so this time I did drop the phone and let out a little squeal. I sat on my bed staring at my phone as it lay on the floor beside my bed. I’ve no idea how long I just sat there before I knelt down to retrieve my phone. Once I did, I tentatively placed it back to my ear and listened to see if he was still there. I could hear him breathing into the phone. After another minute or so of listening to him breathe, I said, “Benjamin, why are you calling me?”

He responded “I’m calling you because I missed you and I was thinking about you baby.”

“Please stop calling me baby!” I screamed into the phone. I closed my eyes in an attempt to block the painful memories that were coming back. Shaking my head, I said, “Benjamin I can’t do this right now. I do not know why you called me now but I cannot talk to you right now. Not like this.”

I heard a heavy sigh on the other end of the phone and then he said, “Okay listen. I meant what I said. I miss you and I’ve been thinking about you. Also I’m going to be in town this coming weekend so, I wanted to know if we can meet for lunch or dinner, so we can talk.”

I still could not believe this was happening and I didn’t want to commit to anything without consulting with Jada, so I responded “Um I need some time to think about it Benjamin. Your call kind of caught me off guard. Can I get back to you later about lunch?”

Sounding irritated, he said, “sure no problem. I will call you back on Friday. Is that enough time for you to make up your mind?”

“Yes,” I said, “that would be perfect.”

“Ok great, Toni I know I’ve a lot of explaining to do and I will, I promise. Just give me a chance, okay baby?”

Trying to hold back the tears that were pooling in my eyes, I said, “Benjamin I will talk to you when you call me on Friday. I’ve to go now. Good bye.”

After I hung up the phone, I sat for what felt like hours just staring at my phone and replaying in my head the brief conversation. I tried to force myself not to remember my time with Benjamin. I referred to them as the Benjamin years. Jada and I sometimes joked about my life in segments. There was the BB or before Benjamin years, and then the AB, or after Benjamin years. Jada says I changed after Benjamin. She will never say if it was good or bad, she just says I’m different. Jada does not even know everything that happened between Benjamin and me. In fact, Benjamin didn’t even know the real reason why I went to Chicago for our final semester. I was not sure I was ready to open up those wounds. I spent years in therapy trying to get over Benjamin, and the guilt I felt for decisions I made without consulting him. I had convinced myself that somehow, Benjamin had discovered the truth, and that’s the reason why he disappeared on me into thin air. I thought about all the plans we had made. He was going to be drafted into theNBA. We would get married and I would stay home and raise our children. What a great plan that was until he got injured and was unable to play basketball anymore. I knew that basketball was a major part of his life, but I never imagined him losing his chance to play would make him turn his back on me like he did.

I returned my cell to the charger, turned off the light and tried to fall asleep. I didn’t look at the clock, but I know I lay awake for hours remembering the Benjamin years. I wondered what Jada would say tomorrow when I told her about my phone call.



Get to Know Terri

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?


I have always felt like I had a lot to say but I was a little shy. I started journaling or keeping a diary as a pre teen. I also started writing poetry and some short stories in my early teens.

What inspires you the most to write? My life inspires me to write.


Writing for me is like therapy. It allows me to be completely open and honest about my feelings. It is not that I have lived a very hard life because I consider myself to have been very blessed thus far in my life. It’s that I have always wanted to capture how I feel about things as they happen. That is why I journal. If someone found all of my journals and put them into chronological order, it would be a good reflection of my life.

Did you enjoy reading as a child?


Yes as a child, I loved to read. I remember reading all of the Judy Blume books but I also liked to sneak into my mother’s room and read some of her books. She liked V.C Andrews so as a teenager and young adult she became one of my favorite authors.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

When I am not writing I enjoy listening to music and singing. My love for music overshadowed my reading and writing for a long time. I am glad that I have finally been able to find a good balance between the two. Now I write and listen to music and sing while I am writing.

What inspired you to write your first book?

I decided to write my first book because I had shared some of my journal entries with a friend of mine. They commented that they really enjoyed my writing style and asked if I had ever considered writing a book. I had not and did not act on it right away. One day I was reading a book and an idea for a story popped into my head. I sat down and started writing. Several hours later, I had approximately 50 pages written.

What does your family think of your writing?

My family has been supportive and is very excited about me finally tapping into my creative side. My family continues to encourage me to write and express myself.

What is next for you in your writing career?

I have started working on my second novel, which is a sequel to Yesterday’s lies, and I have some ideas for other books. I also have resumed writing poetry. I plan to continue to write as long as there are people who want to read what I write.

Find Terri:


www.AuthorTerriD.com

Follow me on:
Twitter: www.Twitter.com/AuthorTerriD

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Monday, August 15, 2011

FEATURED AUTHOR: Kymberly Hunt


Kymberly Hunt is from Rockland County, NY. She was employed for many years at an educational book publishing company and she has also worked in sales and in healthcare. Even though she has only recently started submitting her work to publishers, Kymberly Hunt has always considered herself a writer. Her first novel entitled Havana Sunrise was published in 2006 and the second, Dawn’s Harbor, was published in 2008. Her latest is The Sea of Aaron. All were published by Genesis Press.

How did you start out your writing career?

The writing actually started as soon as I was old enough to hold a pencil. Most of my stories were generally kept to myself, but occasionally shared with siblings. I wrote out of necessity because it was a more effective means of communication than talking.

What did you learn while writing this book?

That unless you're self-publishing, you should always be aware of the word count. It’s not an easy thing to hear that significant portions of your story (portions that affect the flow) must expire on the cutting room floor before it can be published.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

I'd like it to appeal to readers of women’s fiction and romance who are looking for an alternative to erotica—something that is somewhat spiritual without being preachy and that features a heroine who considers the moral consequences of her actions before jumping in.

Which character did you have the most fun writing about?

All of them were fun, but since I have a distinct love for the strong, capable, silent type, Aaron was a favorite. Not sure he exists in real life. If he does, I've never encountered him.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?

How much time one is expected to devote to marketing and promotion. When I first dreamed of becoming a writer, it was because writing seemed like a good occupation for an introvert. Unfortunately, that is no longer true in the 21st century.

What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?

I love the research and the actual writing process, but editing and revising are not always so enjoyable. Ditto marketing and promotion.

What are three things you wish you'd known before you reached where you are now?

Three things? Hmm…can only think of one, and that is unless you're a lawyer, it’s always best to have an agent to negotiate contracts.

Can you give us one do and one don't for those aspiring to be a writer?

Always, always read publisher guidelines before sending out material and never allow the barbs of critics to deter you. Just like music and art, writing is very subjective; some will like your work and others will hate it. Not sure where I heard this celebrity quote but it goes something like this: Do not allow success to go to your head. Do not allow failure to go to your heart.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

That writing really is work. Just because a writer spends a good portion of his/her time at home in front of a computer does not mean that they're free to drop everything and do whatever friends or family may want. When you have a deadline, you must stick to it.

If you could be a character from any book you've read, who would you be?

Let’s see…I'll go with the Genesis account as written in the Holy Bible. I'd love to have been either Adam or Eve and possibly made the right decision that wouldn't have doomed mankind to sin and futility.

When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?

Going for long nature walks and reading and hanging out in bookstores and libraries.

What do you do to interact with your readers?

I have a website and a blog. Whenever someone writes me, I usually respond. www.kymberlyhunt.com.

Our theme for this month is NON-FICTION. Have you ever written non-fiction? If so what did you write?

I have written nonfiction, although I've never submitted any articles for publication. This is something I'd like to attempt in the future, as I frequently enjoy the essays that are written in magazines such as Essence and others.

Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

I know for sure that God is watching the world situation and that he will soon rectify the injustices that still exist.

Can you give us a sneak peek at your next book?

I'd sure like to, but since there is the possibility that it may never come to fruition, I'd better not be presumptuous and reveal anything.

How can readers get in contact with you?

Readers can reach me at my website http://www.kymberlyhunt.com



The Sea of Aaron features private-duty nurse Valerie Redmond, the daughter of a troubled, dementia-stricken woman who resides in a nursing home. A spiritual-minded and usually responsible person, Valerie harbors fantasies about a man she knows she should not be in love with. He is wealthy Israeli-bred Aaron Weiss, who works for a clandestine organization that is dedicated to fighting terrorism and ensuring global peace. Aaron finds Valerie attractive too, but because of his hazardous occupation, he deliberately avoids her

When harrowing circumstances send Valerie and Aaron on a collision course, the flames of love are fanned and the two must determine if it is possible to make a relationship between a God-fearing Christian and an extremely self-reliant agnostic work.

This story follows characters that were first introduced in Dawn’s Harbor, but it is a stand-alone title and not part of a series.

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Tuesday, August 09, 2011

GUEST BLOGGER: Defeating the Slushpile Monster by Cindy A. Matthews

Your Manuscript = Your Business Card


Have you ever been on a job interview? Have you ever attended a business convention? Have you ever owned and run your own business?  If you’ve done any of these things then you probably have encountered business cards.
A business card has a dual purpose. First of all, it tells people who you are. It says, “I’m Joe Blow, licensed plumber,” or “I’m Betty Buys-a-lot, personal shopper.” Secondly, a business card tells a potential customer or client what to expect from you and your service. “Pipes unclogged in five minutes flat or double your money back.”  “Hate shopping for your mother-in-law’s birthday? I can help!”
Pretty basic, huh?
So, what is a “writer’s business card”? Why his or her manuscript, of course.
Remember, the editor is a busy person. She wants to read your manuscript and quickly make up her mind if she and her publishing firm can use your services. She needs to be convinced from the very first line, the very first paragraph, the very first page that you are who you claimed to be—a capable writer—and that you can deliver the goods—a complete, publishable manuscript.
Your job is to make your business card as professional as possible. No sprinkled lavender cologne, no fancy fonts, print faces or paper colors. Remember, this is a professional presentation—not your teenage daughter’s diary. Please act like a professional and you will be treated as such. Which leads us straight into to a very important rule called:

Follow the guidelines—or else

If you belong to a writer’s group then I’m confident this is a topic you need very little help with. Then again, maybe you do. I mean, I wouldn’t be reading—and rejecting—manuscript submissions so much if folks had bothered to read and follow the guidelines and had submitted their manuscripts accordingly. It never ceases to amaze me how many people think following directions implies a certain “wimpishness” on their part so they simply choose to ignore them. I’m here to warn you now that if you choose to ignore the submission guidelines of the publisher (or agent or contest) you’ve targeted for your book then you do so at your own risk.
But how do you know whether or not a publishing firm (or a literacy agency or contest) prefers double spaced, one-inch margins and good weight paper? It’s simple nowadays—check out their web site. The Internet has made it that much simpler for writers. You don’t have to mail in a self-addressed, stamped envelope to a publisher/agent asking for their guidelines and wait for a response if the firm you’re querying has the information online. Most (if not all) publishers, agencies and contests have their manuscript submission guidelines clearly spelled out on their web sites. Writer’s Market is also a good source for guidelines if you can’t locate your target online. Publishing professionals have given writers no excuse to plead ignorance of submission protocol any more. Don’t irritate them by failing to follow their rules.
What happens if you can’t find specific submission guidelines for a publisher or agent anywhere? Don’t panic. Here are a few “standard manuscript submission rules” that should serve you in good stead.
A good rule of thumb is to always double-space your manuscript. Not triple space, not single space, double. Be sure to use at least one-inch margins all around—top, bottom, right or left. Approximately twenty-five lines to a page—less is okay, but no more. Your average publishing professional isn’t worried about the shrinking rainforest so don’t even try to squeeze more words on a page just in order to save paper.
Paragraphs should be indented at least five spaces. Italics to indicate internal monologue or for emphasis on a word shouldn’t be overused. Some publishers want you to use underlining to indicate italics, but since the invention of the desktop computer, more editors have come to prefer italics fonts to underlining.
Never use any font size smaller than twelve point. Times New Roman or Courier New are the fonts considered the most professional looking by industry authorities.  Never be tempted to show off how wonderful your word processing program is by using fancy fonts such as Gothic or Boombox. Always use black ink on good weight white paper. Avoid strange page layouts and no fair trying to squeeze extra lines on a page.  In the end, it only causes eyestrain and frustration for the reader.
If submitting electronically, please use the computer format or program the publisher asks for in their guidelines and no other. If you don’t own a copy of that particular program ask around and see if a friend can convert your file for you. Nothing is more frustrating for an editor reading an electronic submission than not being able to open a file or finding it riddled with “gobbly-gook” caused by incompatible word processing programs.
Play it safe and follow the guidelines. If you don’t, you risk alienating a publishing professional you’re trying hard to impress. An editor may think, “This manuscript doesn’t follow our guidelines—next!”
I don’t think this point can be emphasized enough: Never give anyone an excuse to put your book down! 


Defeating the Slushpile Monster  is a funny how-not-to guide to help serious writers improve their manuscripts’ chances of surviving the arduous submission process. Writers learn that "Only You Can Prevent Formatting Follies" and how to avoid those "Prose Pile-Ups on Publication Road".  Through the insights gained from some not-quite-so-serious examples, writers can polish their works until they shine, instilling their manuscripts with strength to battle their way out of the ever-present editorial slush piles.

Defeating the Slushpile Monster  is available in print through Smiling Assassin Production: http://tinyurl.com/slushpile

This book is also available in e-book formats under the alternative title The Curse of the Manuscript-Eating Slushpile Monster from Uncial Press:


About the author: Cindy A. Matthews is a professional manuscript evaluator, columnist and published novelist. You can read an interview on what inspired her to write Defeating the Slushpile Monster at her web site: http://www.cindyamatthews.com/

In her spare time she writes SF/romantic fiction as Cynthianna (http://www.cynthianna.com/) and Celine Chatillon (http://www.celinechatillon.com/)



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Monday, August 08, 2011

FEATURED AUTHOR: Cheryl Robinson


Born in Detroit, Michigan, Cheryl Robinson has a Bachelor's of Science from Wayne State University. Her love of writing was sparked while taking a fiction writing course as a college elective. She began her literary career by self-publishing two novels before acquiring a literary agent and then a publishing deal. Remember Me is her sixth novel with New American Library, an imprint of the Penguin Group.

Cheryl lives in Central Florida.


How did you start out your writing career?

I self-published my first book, Memories of Yesterday in 2002 with a goal of landing a contract with a major publisher. I was working a full-time job, and I didn't think I could dedicate a lot of time to the business side of self-publishing, so I really wanted to get picked up by a literary agent. I truly believed that if I showed publishers I was serious about writing by self-publishing that eventually I'd get picked up, and that’s exactly what happened in 2004.

What did you learn while writing this book?

Some people get stuck in their past. Mia and Danielle both struggled with their childhood and their fathers in particular. I also learned that some things that we think are really important aren't always, a real friend is a valuable asset, and time can heal most, but not all wounds.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

I didn't set out to write a book about best friends who become estranged as adults. I wanted to write a book that focused more on the events surrounding a car accident that was caused by a young woman who was texting while driving, but it developed into a book about friendship.

Which character did you have the most fun writing about?

I had the most fun writing Danielle since she was a writer. Even though, Danielle has her issues and can be annoying at times. I related to her when she was in her writer’s zone and nothing else mattered but her characters. I liked and disliked certain things about both women, but I understood both of them. Mia had her issues too, but I understood Mia and enjoyed writing her as well. A lot of Mia’s high school experiences were things my sister dealt with when she attended an all girls, predominately white, Catholic high school. The fight that happened in the cafeteria that led to a retreat to iron out racial differences was also something that happened while my sister was in high school. She called my dad to come pick her up just like Mia did, but unlike Mia’s dad, our dad went to get her.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?

The most surprising aspect is how much the industry has changed in such a short time. The closing of Borders was a shock to me. I really thought they would pull through somehow. The explosion of Amazon.com and e-books was something that in 2002, when I was first getting started, I never imagined would happen. I always thought that the majority of people would always go into bookstores to buy their books.

What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?

I love the revision stage the best, and that used to be the aspect I hated the most. I'm currently writing my next novel and I'm itching to get to the revision stage. I hate when I’m writing and I know what I want to say, but I get stuck on the page. It’s not really writer’s block, but it’s just as frustrating.

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

Don't get discouraged, and it's easy to get discouraged even when you're a published writer. My one do is to write every day, and give yourself a daily word count goal, if necessary.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

Writing is hard work. A writer doesn't set out to write a book people won't like. That is never the goal. We'd love to write a book everyone will enjoy. But the closer we are to the story the harder it is to recognize the flaws. At the end of the day, everyone is looking for validation no matter what they do for a living. If you work a 9-to -5, and your boss sits you down and points out everything you did wrong, I think most people would be hurt, especially if they thought they were doing a good job. That’s how it feels when I read a bad review on any one of my books. I try to keep in mind something I heard once, which is to never get too high on the good reviews or too low on the bad ones. But what I should probably do is stop reading reviews.

If you could be a character from any book you've read, who would you be?

I'd be one of the main characters in the book I'm currently writing—shameless plug.

When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?

That's a trick question since I feel like I’m always writing. I have a love/hate relationship with reality shows. I complain about Basketball Wives, but I still tune in every Monday. I really enjoyed Toya: A Family Affair. I’ll watch a new season, if there is one, or if she and Memphitz return with a spin-off. I also enjoyed Braxton Family Values, seeing the five sisters interact with each other and in their own lives was refreshing. There wasn’t any over the top drama. I love how close the sisters seem to be. And of course I love to read, but I'm not a fast reader. I pace myself. It amazes me when people say they finished a book in a day or two. If I really like a book, I can probably finish it in a week.

What do you do to interact with your readers?

I have a Facebook page for my new novel and I have a web site and readers can email me or post a comment on my guestbook. I’m also doing another Win Dinner for Your Book club contest this year. I did one last year and the response was great. Details are posted on my facebook page at www.facebook.com/remembermebycherylrobinson

Our theme for this month is NON-FICTION. Have you ever written non-fiction? If so what did you write?

No, I've never written non-fiction.

Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

I'm happiest when I'm writing.

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

My next book will be set in the Dallas/Fort Worth area where I lived for four years, instead of my usual Detroit setting. Some things may change slightly so it’s too early to say too much. It’s not a sequel. Although, I am seriously considering doing a sequel to When I Get Where I’m Going. Girl Fridayz book club gave me the idea so I'm thinking about it.

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

Web site: www.cherylrobinson.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/remembermebycherylrobinson

Email: cherylrobinson.com@gmail.com


REMEMBER ME

Two best friends test the limits of loyalty in a stirring new novel of friendship, betrayal, and forgiveness.

Mia and Danielle had vowed to stay best friends for life-- until one indiscretion destroyed that bond forever. Twenty years later, tragedy reunites them in an unexpected way. Now they must confront the past, discover its untold truths, and rebuild a friendship destined to endure.

Book trailer:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypJLbE-4BFU&feature=player_embedded



ANSWER ONE OF THESE QUESTIONS FOR A CHANCE TO WIN A COPY OF REMEMBER ME.

1.  What year did Cheryl started writing?

2.  What was the name of the book Cheryl self published?

3.  What type of t.v. shows does Cheryl like?





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