Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Work, Work and More Work

I am having such a great time working on my next mainstream novel for St. Martins Press.  The title is GUILTY PLEASURES.  I’ve totally gotten into writing about folks that kinda sorta live on the edge and have no real problems about breaking a few laws here and there. LOL.  My protagonists are a married couple who enjoy nothing more than running a con on unsuspecting businessmen…well that and the unbridled lust that they have for each other.  Each con turns them on like electric lamps!

While writing that I’m also sketching out my second installment in my Pause for Men series for Harlequin.  The first will be released in August 2005 the second in November.  The story features four forty-something women who decide to open an exclusive day spa for men.  The cover should be ready soon and I will post.

Well, time to get back to work.

Making Time for Writing in the New Year

Back when I first started writing professionally (1987), I was a stickler for rules, regulations and organization. I kept accurate records, detailed notes, file folders and composition books. I even had a little recipe box that I kept "pending story" ideas in. And my life as a writer ran smoothly.

Somehow, over the progression of years and accumulation of data, all of my good habits have flown to some netherworld not to be seen by me again. Over the past year, I have lost count of how many novels and novellas, contacts and agreements I have put my name on. As I sit here, whining about this conundrum, I must complete not ONE but TWO books by the end of January! Yes, January of '06. I was informed of this latest twist of fate last week.

To some it may be a great thing to have that many projects on your plate. Unless of course, you actually have to think up the storyline, detail the characters, make the words jump out of your head and onto the page (in some sort of coherent form of course) edit it, print and send to the eagerly awaiting editor.

I must now try to figure out how to write two completely different types of books simultaneously without the voices becoming blending into something unrecognizable.

What I have learned is that its well past time for me to go back to my old ways of organizing. I can't fly by the seat of my pants any longer. (not as young as I used to be). I have to learn to say NO. (even if it means less dollars in my pocket). I have to not only make time for writing but time for me, so that I will be of sound mind and body in order to write!!

So... with all that being said, look for about 6-7 books from me in 2006--that is of course if I don't walk out into traffic first!!! LOL

Happy New Year

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Going Out with a Bang and In with a Blast

First... happy holidays to everyone within the reach of my blog!!! Thanks so very much for the love and support this past year. I took that leap and left my job of ten years back in August...and guess what.... I don't miss it!

But the extra time has giving me the chance to complete several projects, sign contracts and truly get into the new year full steam again.

One project that I am both proud and excited about is Indecent Exposure. It is a novel written by three authors: Tracy Price Thompson, Carmen Green and Victor McGlothin. The challenge of this project was blending all three voices with their storylines and making them read as one voice. Even though this is written by three authors it is not an anthology but rather a novel about the escapades and sexcapdes behind a New York City mayoral election. It's timely, sexy, intriguing and well written. Indecent Exposure is scheduled to be released in February 2006.

I am also a part of an anthology Destiny's Daughters which will also be released in February. It is three novellas written by me, Parry Brown and Gwynne Forster.

Then in June I have my Kamani/Arabesque romance Long Distance Lover, followed in August with Love Becomes Her, the first in a four-part series about a group of friends who decide to open an exclusive day spa for men only! The second title of the series is Satisfy Me, which will hit bookstores in November. As soon as I get cover approval I will post them.

In the meantime, everyone have a joyous, happy and healthy holiday and wonderful New Year.
Peace and blessings

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

New York City on Lock Down

I for one always want the underdog to win, come out on top, beat down the bad guys. In this case it was big business management against the transit workers of New York City. The standoff came, the workers had to make a point and as a result they have shut the City down. No buses, no trains.

In some cities this may not be a big issue, but in a City the size of New York with more than 8 million residents it is a monumental pain in the ass.

Coming at a time where there should be good will toward wo/man, this situation leaves a lot to be desired. People have to walk for miles, hitch rides, and become very creative in trying to get around the city. It is estimated that businesses in the City will lose 400 million dollars in the first day. Not to mention the loss of pay to many who are totally unable to get to their jobs.

I do hope it is worth it. That the demands made by the transit workers union will somehow justify what has been done to the people of the city of New York. Perhaps there is some lesson in this for big business... that they have to take the demands of unions seriously.

We shall see.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Got Mine!

Well, after much angst, haggling and taking a poll, the new cover for the upcoming Trade version of Getting Hers actually speaks to the book, the potential audience and the characters.

They are three different, yet beautiful and determined women. The previous version of faces on the cover showed two women, who were pretty enough, but certainly looked as if they belonged on an Urban novel. My concern was not that the cover was not appealing, but rather that it sent the wrong message to potential buyers who would see the cover and expect to read about Sistah Girlz from Da Hood, which is not what GETTING HERS is all about.

I must say that I am pleased. I stood my ground and gave solid reasoning for my dissent and concern. Thankfully, my editor stood by me and they listened.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Mis-Marketing of Black Books

With the help of the very savvy Monica Jackson a poll was conducted to determine the book buying habits of both black and white readers when they were asked to compare the original and the tentative upcoming cover for the trade version of my novel GETTING HERS. The results were quite fascinating. Take a moment to click on the link above and check out the results. I'd love to hear your opinion.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

My New Radio Show

I am thrilled and frightened.... why you ask? Well, beginning tomorrow, Thursday, November 10 at 7p.m. EST I will toss myself into the deep waters of web radio. Yes, I will be co-hosting CROSS TALK, with author Anna Dennis who will be coming to you from the West Coast (San Francisco) and me from New York City.

Listening in is easy. Simple type in into your browser at 7 P.M. EST, click on Listen Now and you're there. Of course remember to turn on your speakers!

Our debut guest is Taressa author of this sophisticated chic lit THE HOT SPOT.

Anna and I plan on making it informative as well as fun and we have a trick up our sleeves for our guest as well. Ssssh...

I do hope you can join us for our debut!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

An Added Addition

I'm always looking for some new gadget or technology advancement. Because of my dear friend and tech advisor Monica Jackson I've added some fun stuff that I hope you will stop by and check out on WritersRooms

I'm still playing around with it, but I did add some info under calendar. I plan to have an ongoing forum, tips, and excerpts from my novels. You will always be able to access right from here.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Publishers Make Strange Bedfellows

Check out my recent post from Romancing the Blog


“It’s a small world.” “There’s light at the end of the tunnel.” “All’s fair in love and war.” “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” “Don’t burn your bridges.” The list of cliches is endless but one that I’ve created specifically for this blog is:

Publishers make strange bedfellows.

While many of us are preparing to be tricked or treated for Halloween, romance authors are waiting with bated breath to see if the recent merger between Harlequin and BET Books is a trick or a treat.

BET Books, the largest publisher of African American romance and women’s fiction recently merged with Harlequin bringing with them three imprints, an extensive back list and a stable of authors that are some of the best unsung romance authors in the business.

On the one hand this appears to be a major plus for the BET authors. I think it is a major plus for the authors involved. The man/womanpower of the Harlequin machine is unparalled in the industry. Ideally, with the support and worldwide distribution of Harlequin, the authors of BET will see successes that previously have been unavailable to them. But there is always the other “slight” of hand.

As with any merger there is change, there is consolidation, there is reorganization. How this will play out among the authors is yet to be seen. Questions abound: will the guidelines remain the same or become more stringent to adhere to the guidelines of Harlequin which have proved so successful for decades? With so many authors under one roof is there room for everyone in the house? And the big question: will African American romances now be merged, sold, shelved and distributed alongside the Harlequin romances and with the same enthusiasm as the Harlequin titles?

The hope among the BET authors is that they will finally get the visability that they have missed over the past decade. But will this visibilty translate into greater sales from those who don’t, can’t, or haven’t read an African American romance? Will putting the books in the faces of those who say the reason why they don’t read them is because they can’t find them, make a difference and ultimately make names like Gwynne Forster, Francis Ray, Rochelle Alers, Monica Jackson, Lynn Emery, Jacquie Thomas, Shirley Hailstock, Donna Hill (grin) household names?

Will white readers be more inclined to pick up an African American romance when it is alongside one written by Nora Roberts, Holly Lisle, Brenda Joyce, Alison Kent? Will the might of Harlequin give African American romances the legitimacy, the validity that seems to have eluded them?

Or will this apparent treat only be a slight of hand, a changing of the guard and life simply goes on as usual?

In other news, not to be outdone, Kensington Publishing made an announcement that they were taking over Genesis Press (the second leading publisher of African American romances)–all of its backlist and authors and would kick off their new venture with reprints of books by Donna Hill, Gwynne Forster and Rochelle Alers. To say the least the legitimacy and work ethics of Genesis Press is questionable at best, but I will leave that for another diatribe. Hopefully under the helm of Kensington, what has plagued Genesis Press authors for the past five years will be rectified.

In the mystifying world of big business, mergers and takeovers are commonplace. But as the world gets smaller there are fewer places to hang your hat. If you have a falling out with your publisher it will become less and less easy to move somewhere else. Soon there will be nowhere to go as consolidations of publishing houses turn what was once a vast ocean of opportunity into a single stream with no outlet.

But if I may borrow yet another cliche: “where there is faith there is hope.” My hope is that this will be one of the most positively significant changes the romance industry has seen in decades. My hope is that all those faceless, nameless, talented African American authors will finally enjoy the fruits of their labors alongside their sister authors. My hope is that this will indeed be a treat and not a trick.

Stay tuned!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Rosa Parks--Dead at 92

It seems that everyday we lose another hero, another brick in the foundation of history. Today, we have lost Rosa Parks, the petite seamstress who decided to say "No." And that one word changed the course of American History and put Civil Rights on the map for all the world to see.

Below is the story. Read it, share it, live it.

Civil Rights Icon Dies at 92

DETROIT (Oct. 24) - Rosa Lee Parks, whose refusal to give up her bus seat to a white man sparked the modern civil rights movement, died Monday evening. She was 92.

A Life of Courage


Talk About It: Post Thoughts

Mrs. Parks died at her home during the evening of natural causes, with close friends by her side, said Gregory Reed, an attorney who represented her for the past 15 years.

Mrs. Parks was 42 when she committed an act of defiance in 1955 that was to change the course of American history and earn her the title "mother of the civil rights movement."

At that time, Jim Crow laws in place since the post-Civil War Reconstruction required separation of the races in buses, restaurants and public accommodations throughout the South, while legally sanctioned racial discrimination kept blacks out of many jobs and neighborhoods in the North.

The Montgomery, Ala., seamstress, an active member of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, was riding on a city bus Dec. 1, 1955, when a white man demanded her seat.

An Arrest Seen Around the World

Rosa Parks helped spark the civil rights movement by refusing to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Ala., bus for a white man.

· 1913: Born in Alabama
· 1955: Arrested for refusing to yield seat
· 1996: Received Presidential Medal of Freedom
· 1999: Received Congressional Gold Medal

Sources:, World Book

Mrs. Parks refused, despite rules requiring blacks to yield their seats to whites. Two black Montgomery women had been arrested earlier that year on the same charge, but Mrs. Parks was jailed. She also was fined $14.

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick said he felt a personal tie to the civil rights icon: "She stood up by sitting down. I'm only standing here because of her."

The Rev. Al Sharpton called Mrs. Parks "a gentle woman whose single act changed the most powerful nation in the world. ... One of the highlights of my life was meeting and getting to know her."

Speaking in 1992, Mrs. Parks said history too often maintains "that my feet were hurting and I didn't know why I refused to stand up when they told me. But the real reason of my not standing up was I felt that I had a right to be treated as any other passenger. We had endured that kind of treatment for too long."

Her arrest triggered a 381-day boycott of the bus system organized by a then little-known Baptist minister, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who later earned the Nobel Peace Prize for his work.

"At the time I was arrested I had no idea it would turn into this," Mrs. Parks said 30 years later. "It was just a day like any other day. The only thing that made it significant was that the masses of the people joined in."

The Montgomery bus boycott, which came one year after the Supreme Court's landmark declaration that separate schools for blacks and whites were "inherently unequal," marked the start of the modern civil rights movement.

The movement culminated in the 1964 federal Civil Rights Act, which banned racial discrimination in public accommodations.

After taking her public stand for civil rights, Mrs. Parks had trouble finding work in Alabama. Amid threats and harassment, she and her husband Raymond moved to Detroit in 1957. She worked as an aide in the Detroit office of Democratic U.S. Rep. John Conyers from 1965 until retiring in 1988. Raymond Parks died in 1977.

Mrs. Parks became a revered figure in Detroit, where a street and middle school were named for her and a papier-mache likeness of her was featured in the city's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Mrs. Parks said upon retiring from her job with Conyers that she wanted to devote more time to the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development. The institute, incorporated in 1987, is devoted to developing leadership among Detroit's young people and initiating them into the struggle for civil rights.

"Rosa Parks: My Story" was published in February 1992. In 1994 she brought out "Quiet Strength: The Faith, the Hope and the Heart of a Woman Who Changed a Nation," and in 1996 a collection of letters called "Dear Mrs. Parks: A Dialogue With Today's Youth."

She was among the civil rights leaders who addressed the Million Man March in October 1995.

In 1996, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, awarded to civilians making outstanding contributions to American life. In 1999, she was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation's highest civilian honor.

Mrs. Parks received dozens of other awards, ranging from induction into the Alabama Academy of Honor to an NAACP Image Award for her 1999 appearance on CBS' "Touched by an Angel."

The Rosa Parks Library and Museum opened in November 2000 in Montgomery. The museum features a 1955-era bus and a video that recreates the conversation that preceded Parks' arrest.

"Are you going to stand up?" the bus driver asked.

"No," Parks answered.

"Well, by God, I'm going to have you arrested," the driver said.

"You may do that," Parks responded.

Mrs. Parks' later years were not without difficult moments.

In 1994, Mrs. Parks' home was invaded by a 28-year-old man who beat her and took $53. She was treated at a hospital and released. The man, Joseph Skipper, pleaded guilty, blaming the crime on his drug problem.

The Parks Institute struggled financially since its inception. The charity's principal activity - the annual Pathways to Freedom bus tour taking students to the sites of key events in the civil rights movement - routinely cost more money than the institute could raise.

Mrs. Parks lost a 1999 lawsuit that sought to prevent the hip-hop duo OutKast from using her name as the title of a Grammy-nominated song. In 2000, she threatened legal action against an Oklahoma man who planned to auction Internet domain name rights to

After losing the OutKast lawsuit, attorney Gregory Reed, who represented Mrs. Parks, said his client "has once again suffered the pains of exploitation." A later suit against OutKast's record company was settled out of court.

She was born Rosa Louise McCauley on Feb. 4, 1913, in Tuskegee, Ala. Family illness interrupted her high school education, but after she married Raymond Parks in 1932, he encouraged her and she earned a diploma in 1934. He also inspired her to become involved in the NAACP.

Looking back in 1988, Mrs. Parks said she worried that black young people took legal equality for granted.

Older blacks, she said "have tried to shield young people from what we have suffered. And in so doing, we seem to have a more complacent attitude.

"We must double and redouble our efforts to try to say to our youth, to try to give them an inspiration, an incentive and the will to study our heritage and to know what it means to be black in America today."

At a celebration in her honor that same year, she said: "I am leaving this legacy to all of you ... to bring peace, justice, equality, love and a fulfillment of what our lives should be. Without vision, the people will perish, and without courage and inspiration, dreams will die - the dream of freedom and peace."

On the Air with Me!!

I recently did an interview on First Cut a satellite radio show hosted by Artist First.

To hear what I rambled about just click here Donna Hill

The host of First Cut is Nicole Stevenson and she has some great interviews in her archives. Check her out for upcoming shows at Artist First and click on First Cut for the schedule.


An Interview with Donna Hill

I recently did an interview on Artistfirst. If you click on Donna Hill you can hear the interview. Be sure to turn on your speakers.

Nicole Stevenson is the host of First Cut and has had some great folks on the show. Be sure to check out Artist First and her show First Cut for the schedule.


Sunday, October 16, 2005

Censorship on the Rise

The U.S. Government has its nose in everything these days. They have gotten us so paranoid about spooks in the attic, moles in the basement and secret cells living next door that we have inadvertently, little by little allowed them to erode our basic American freedoms all in the name of "keeping us safe." If we don't begin to pay attention to the laws that continue to slip under the radar one day we will all wake up and need to show ID to leave our homes.

As Gil Scott Heron infamously said, "The revolution will not be televised." Wake up America and check out this really scary article.

Censorship on the Rise in Hollywood
by Scott Holleran

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Always a new Gimmick

Always a new gimmick, and if you need someone to fall for it, the person is me.  I saw an ad about BLOGGER FOR WORD.  So I checked it out. And now I can write up my blogs without going into the blog account but simply typing in word and then publishing to the blog.  Pretty nifty.  

Friday, September 30, 2005

Abort Black Babies and Cut Down on Crime

Well, I'll be damned. When I woke up this morning, I swore I'd been tossed back into time and landed on some fucking plantation in Mississippi. But hell no, it was worst. It was 2005. I'm living in New York City and there is this asshole Bill Bennett who proclaims that although it is a reprehensible thought and totally improbable, if ya abort black babies ya cut down on crime ie, 1 + 1 = A.

I want to see how quickly this gets cleaned up. And if his sorry ass gets thrown off TV as it should be or better tarred and feathered.

Unfortunately, it is comments such as these that continue to seep into the underbelly of society. He said out loud what some others think or only speak of in like company. It is sad that black still equates bad, evil, crime and any good that comes from us is "the exception." And that there are still those who wish our demise by virtue of us not even being born.

I'm ill.


I've just created a new forum via Network54 called Literati It's bascially for discussion of anything literary: news, views, rants, insight the list goes on. It seems pretty easy to manage, so drop by and add a comment from time to time.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Where Oh Where Are the Words

I officially left my job on August 12 as a publicist with one of the country's busiest public libraries to devote myself fully to pursuing my writing, hopefully get better at it and get my own publicity business ImageNouveau up and operational. Let me make one thing perfectly clear... this staying home mess is more than a notion! I swear, by the time I get the kids to school, come back home, check email (of course) ignore the countless phone calls from creditors and telemarketers... it's lunchtime. Then of course, don't forget to take something out for dinner, and while you're down in the kitchen you may as well wash the floors, straighten up the dining room, take out the trash, hmmm clean the oven.

By this time I'm exhausted. So I eek out two pages, then its time to run out and pick kids up from school, then dinner, then homework, baths, yelling, bedtime, my favorite TV shows... check email again. Whew... I'm beat. And a grand total of 3 pages (on a good day) written.

I must say, while I was at work I got much more writing done. I sat at my desk and relished seeing how much I could get done before I actually had to do company work. Now, every little distraction is a real distraction.

I have more deadlines than time and the clock is ticking....

Any advice is desperately needed and welcomed!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Taking Off The Rose-Colored Glasses

I don’t know about anyone else, but I haven’t felt too “romancy” of late. Within the passed couple of weeks, I have seen a world that for many was only somone else’s problem, a life and lifestyle that was better left not discussed.

As we all stood witness to the devastation and the aftermath of one of America’s greatest natural disasters, the ugliness of the economic and racial divide gave Americans a good slap in the face. “Wake up!” those tortured faces cried, “this is the America that you have refused to see,” they shouted. “It’s so awful,” many moaned and sent money and clothes to assauge their consciences then proceeded back to our castles in the sky and hoped that things would get better, hoped that maybe one morning we’d wake up and it wouldn’t be in the news and in our faces, reminding us of things we’d rather not think about–think about the indisputable FACT that there is and continues to be two Americas–the America of the haves and have nots, the light and the dark. But as long as the have nots can be given a pittance, a little space, a few benefits and kept out of the spotlight then what is the problem?As in the telling words of the beloved Barbara Bush, “And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underpriviledged anyway, so this–this is working very well for them.”

By this time, there are sure to be some rolling of eyes and sucking of teeth and the inevitable question: what does this have to do with romance?

Romance, for the most part is the world as we wish to see it, the world we hope for, the fantasy that we create to help us and our followers escape the harsh realities of life. Of course, we gingerly sprinkle our stories with difficulties to give it substance and then our characters skip happily off into the sunset.

Yet, even in the world of romance the harsh reality of two Americas rears its ugly head and continues to exist. Let’s think of the publishing industry as America made up of nationalies or “genres.” Think of publishing houses as the government with the ability to set policy or “trends” (and of course dole out money when necessary) and think of bookstores as cities or municipalites who have the power to interpret the policy(trends) and put the nationalities (genres) wherever the see fit. Last, but not least, think of authors and readers as activists with the voice and the power to create a change within the fabric of America, Government, Cities and Municipalities.

There was a cry, a cry of outrage from the black activists and their followers who asked, petitioned, cajoled and demanded their fair share of America. They only wanted what everyone else had, to be treated and viewed and accepted as equals. To share the same space, the same goals and the same slice of the American pie.

“Oh my” thought the publishing industry, what could be their problem? Why are they in such an uproar about wanting something of their own? For heavensake, they don’t read anyway! Well, let the government handle it. And they did. They carved out little sections of the American pie and doled out a few slices but only in designated areas because of course America as a whole does not want to be reminded or have put up in their faces the inequity of the Industry.
Some governments even went so far as to create “mini nationalities” and gave them to local municipalities who decided where they would go. The activists should be happy now. We’ve thrown money at them, gave them a little slice of the pie and every now and again we even pick up one or two to prove to ouselves and our friends how liberal and generous we are.

Yet the activists and their followers remain disgruntled, marginalized and relegated to a section of the landscape where they can be overlooked until some natural disaster occurs and their plight slaps us in the face.

As authors and readers we have the power to shape policy, change minds and enlighten one book at a time–be true activists. Throwing money, and creating “mini-nationalities” will not change the fabric of the literary landscape. Change begins from within. Within our hearts–the core of romance. As authors we have the power to make the impossible possible. We have the power to make the dis-believers believe that there is good and justice, love and equality in the world. We have the power to change minds.

It’s easy to come to the aid of another when their circumstances are so dire, we think, just for an instant– “that could be me, no one should have to go through that.” But when the plight begins to fade and only appears on page six, or as an addendum to the late night news report, it’s easy to return to our castles in the sky believing that all is now right with the world. The last page of the book has been closed and the characters skip off into the sunset.

But nothing will change until we do, from within–one reader, one author at a time. Simply because the “crisis” has its denoument does not mean that the story is truly over. Everyone always wants to know “what happens next?”

Monday, September 05, 2005

Hey People - this is an email I received from a colleague. If there's anything that we can do to help people in New Orleans, its with resources as people - the government is overwhelmed, and acting much slower than these grassroots organizations.Here's a solid list of info thanx,Paul Compiled by hip-hop artist Kevin Powell:Monetary donations can be sent to these outlets, which we have confirmed are REALLY delivering services to folks in need........ Relief FundPO Box 803209Dallas, TX 75240OR you can make an online donation by going fund has been set up by nationally syndicated radio personality TOM JOYNER

NAACP Disaster Relief Efforts The NAACP is setting up command centers in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama as part of its disaster relief efforts. NAACP units across the nation have begun collecting resources that will be placed on trucks and sent directly into the disaster areas. Also, the NAACP has established a disaster relief fund to accept monetary donations to aid in the relief effort.Checks can be sent to the NAACP payable to NAACP Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund4805 Mt. Hope DriveBaltimore, MD 21215. Donations can also be made online FYI, the NAACP, founded in 1909, is America's oldest civil rights organization. Set up by native New Orleans rapper Master P and his wife Sonya Miller.You can mail or ship non-perishable items to these following locations,which we have confirmed are REALLY delivering services to folks in need....

Center for LIFE Outreach Center121 Saint Landry StreetLafayette, LA 70506 atten.: Minister Pamela Robinson337-504-5374

Mohammad Mosque 652600 Plank RoadBaton Rouge, LA 70805 atten.: Minister Andrew Muhammad 225-923-1400225-357-3079

Lewis Temple CME Church 272 Medgar Evers Street Grambling, LA 71245 atten.: Rev. Dr. Ricky Helton 318-247-3793

St. Luke Community United Methodist Church c/o Hurricane Katrina Victims 5710 East R.L. Thornton FreewayDallas, TX 75223 atten.: Pastor Tom Waitschies 214-821-2970S.

H.A.P.E. Community Center 3815 Live OakHouston, Texas 77004 atten.: Deloyd Parker 713-521-0641

Alternative media outlets where you can get a more accurate and balanced presentation of the New Orleans catastrophe....

PLEASE VISIT all these websites. Five things you can do to help immediately:

1. Duplicate what we are doing elsewhere in New York City, in your city or town, on your college campus, at your church, synagogue, mosque, or other religious institution, via your fraternity or sorority, or via your local civic or social organization.

2. Cut and paste the information in this eblast about Items needed by survivors of the New Orleans catastrophe:* Monetary donations* Where you can ship non-perishable items* Alternative media outlets* Five things you can do to help immediately and share this information, as a ONE SHEET, with folks near and far, via email, or as a hand out at your event, religious institution, and with your civic or social organization.

3. Voice your opinion to local and national media, and to elected officials,via letter, email, op ed article, or phonecall, regarding the coverage of the New Orleans catastrophe, as well as to the federal government's ongoing handling of the situation.

4. Ask the hotel you frequent, such as the Marriott or Holiday Inn, to give your hotel points to an individual or family in need of a stay for a night, a few nights, or longer, depending on how many points you have. Be sure to get confirmation that your points have been applied in that way. Encourage others to do the same. Also inquire if your airline Frequent Flyer mileage can be used for hotel stays as well. Finally, either offer to pay for hotel rooms, or encourage others to do so, including your place of employment or worship or your organization.

5. Dare to care about other human beings, no matter their race, gender,class, sexual orientation, religion, geography, culture, clothing,hairstyle, or accent or language. Like September 11th, the New Orleanscatastrophe is a harsh reminder that all life is precious, as is each day wehave on this earth.

AND REMEMBER that our attention and response to the New Orleans catastrophe needs to happen in three stages...DISASTER, RECOVERY, and REBUILDING. We need you for all three stages!

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Get Ready Get Set--New Life

Well... tomorrow starts my first official day of self-imposed unemployment! Yahoo. Of course that does not mean that I will work any less, probably more.

Last week I celebrated my 50th Birthday and it was a blast. Close to 200 folks turned out to help me celebrate a major turning point in my life. And big props to my sister Lisa who put it all together with such class and style, that it wasn't just a party--it was an affair.

Stay tuned. Pictures to come!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Folks with Nothing To Do

Well, just as I was getting ready to visit my website, I type in all the needed info and BAM... my website is gone, poof! Apparently some asshole with nothing else to do, hacked into my site and removed everything.

Needless to say I am distressed at the moment. What is most disturbing is that it is a Wordpress site, virtually impenetrable...until now.

This is the second time this has happened which pressed me to move my website and domain. And here we go again. Hopefully, it will be repaired and operational sometime soon. In the meantime, I am sad and whining!

Sunday, July 31, 2005

A Leap of Faith

Every now and again, that decision that has been plaguing you in the back of your mind begins to keep you up at night. You no longer simply "think about it" but begin talking about it to others. Generally it's to test the waters and see if anyone other than yourself thinks you're crazy. Little by little you begin consciously and unconsiously to put things in place to make the decision possible: going over the pros and cons, removing negative thinking and people of out your life and finally stepping out on faith and going for it.

This is what has happened to me. And after umpteen years of working for someone else, I've finally make the conscious decision to do my own thing and leave my very secure 9-5 and write full-time.

For those of you who have seen my writing history you may think--why the hell was I working a job in the first place. Well, a lot of it was security and having smaller children and to be honest, I actually liked my job. Something many folks cannot say. But, I've made the move and as of August 12, I will be officially "unemployed" for the first time since I was 19 years old. A scary but exciting thought.

I do hope that it will make me more productive (I have no choice--gotta write my ass off now!) But I am stepping out on faith and believing that I can do this and do it well.

All good thoughts and prayers are welcome!!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Hustle and Flow--Have Black Folks Been Hustled Again?

Let me say this upfront--I luv me some Terrance Howard. Loved him in "The Best Man" as the irreverant Quincy, loved him as Ralph Abernathy in "Boycott." Now, accoriding to critics, he is in the performance of his career as the pimp turned rap star in "Hustle and Flow."

The camps are divided on this one: yes it is a movie about pimps and hos but it's also a movie about having a dream and going after it. On the other side of the fence are the advocates for quality and equity in the media and holding up a pimp turned rap star is not a character that should be applauded--that the negative images that the movie projects overshadow any good.

On a personal note, I have a problem with the notion that the only image that can be projected and have dreams is a black pimp. I'm sure they have dreams like everyone else... and maybe, just maybe it is the only way the could find to make a living. But come on!!!

There is a lively debate going on at

I would love to hear opinions on the movie and how African Americans are portayed.

Monday, July 25, 2005

To Book Fair or Not

Book fairs for every manner of books abound. There are fairs, conventions, cruises, author-only and reader only events. How do you choose? What events are most beneficial to you as an author or a reader?

Cost is certainly a factor. When planning your event calendar it is truly important to get the most for the bucks. But a great deal of that is contingent upon what you want to get out of the event. If you are a reader are you simply looking to meet your favorite author, hook up with your friends and online buddies, find new books or attend seminars that will increase your own chances of publication? If you are a published author or aspiring one, are you looking to meet agents, editors or fans or pitch your next great American novel?

Most writer organizations host annual conventions (i.e., RWA, Romantic Times Book Lovers, Novelist Inc., Romance Slam Jam, the list goes on).

What is becoming more popular are cruises hosted by authors for their fans. These are for die-hard lovers of a particular author's work. A time for fans and fanclub members to get together and share their love of their favorite authors work.

Some events are driven by big name authors. Others attempt to showcase new voices and emerging genres.

The field is vast and there is something for everyone. But in choosing which events to attend, always try to bear in mind what it is you want to accomplish by attending. Is it going to be beneficially for you on some personal level and what the costs actually include.

Friday, July 22, 2005

A Bag of Tricks

In the aftermath of the ugly bombings in England, New York City today launched a campaign that will allow police to randomly stop and search folks traveling on the New York City subway system... buses are next.

For the most part, I'm with folks on wanting to be safe. But how far is too far? With the Government approving 14 of 16 points of the revised Patriot Act, we are in for some shit folks. Let's be for real.

Example: with all the training the intelligence agencies (and I use the term loosely) has had in allegedly being able to spot "suspicious" people they have yet to "randomly" capture a damn soul that ever had anything to do with terrorism. NO One!!!! Even when they had suspected terrorists under watch, those suckers still got away with whatever they wanted to do. Meanwhile your 90 year old grandmother is being strip searched in the airport!

Little by little our civil liberties are being eroded and by the time we wake up and smell the coffee we will all be walking around with microchips embedded in us so that our activities can be monitored.

George Orwell must be standing up in his grave saying "I told you so." But even he could not envision what has become of American society.

So... is this latest effort on the part of the American government to do random searches on the buses and trains legitimate, or simply another way to legally profile individuals under the guise of keeping us safe--another bag of political tricks??

If you asked me, they wouldn't know a terrorist if they came up and slapped them in the face.

What is your opinion?

Beware... random searches are on their way to a neighborhood near you!


Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Value (de-value) Of Street Fiction

There has been much debate, sometimes heated over the surge of street/urban fiction into the marketplace and its impact on the black literary market. Much of it is self-published, poorly written on several levels and tend to applaud the lifestyles of drug dealers, hustlers, prostitutes and the like. Of course, there are a few that are relatively well written (rare).

The concern however is not the staggering numbers of these books but rather their content and the impression that they leave on the most vulerable of readers--young adults who buy these books in mass.

Are these urban books yet another reflection of the fall of black cultural society? Is it indicative of who we are and what we have become, or is it simply yet another fad that will at some point fade from view?

Many advocates tout that "they are just happy that black folks (especially kids) are reading. Bullshit. That's like sitting your kid down in front of hip-hop videos for hours with the vulgarity of the language and the exploitation of women and not expect those visuals to have an effect on the viewer.

But again, these urban books are about the all-mighty dollar, no matter the effect it has on the population. It is the same mentality of drug pushers--"it's not personal just business and if you happen to get hooked well I'm more than happy to keep supplying you."

It's a problem.

What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

(Left) On Friday, July 15, Shunda Leigh of Booking Matters Magazine hosted a great event for my visit. Here is a picture of me (center) guest (left) and author Kendra Norman Bellamy hanging out for a minute.

(Top) Here I am in California (San Francisco) at Alexander's Books with Bernard (event manager) who hosts lunchtime signings.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Hotlanta Live

Wow, the past few weeks have gone by like a whirlwind. But it's been all good. This weekend, I was in Hotlanta!!! One of the nicest events I've attended in a while was hosted for me by Booking Matters Magazine. Shunda knows her stuff and certainly put together an amazing evening. It was a full house and I'm pretty sure everyone enjoyed themselves. I know I did! And as soon as I figure out how to upload my pictures from my brand new digital camera I will share them. LOL.

Gotta give a shout out to Tee Royal from RawSistahs who trekked from damn near South Carolina to join me for the evening.

This coming weekend is the Harlem Book Fair, and yes I will be out there as well--working my day job for the library and doing my author thing as well. Whew.

Pictured above is me with some of the ladies at the Booking Matters Event on July 15. Seated next to me is Shunda Leigh who organized the event.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Courageous Hearts is a special edition collection of my very first three (full length) novels for the Arabesque line. The collection includes: Temptation, Scandalous and Deception.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Jet Lagged by Happy

Just getting back from the West Coast. Spent the past few days in Oakland and San Francisco as part of my tour for GETTING HERS. Had a great time and more important met some really wonderful people. I definitely have to thank Christine Ellington from Same Page Promotions for once again setting up a successful tour. While I was traveling for almost six hours to get there, I had the opportunity to read Camika Spencer's new book He Had It Coming. Parts are truly hilarious as a group of sistahs in a book club kidnap an obnoxious male author and demand that he change his upcoming book entitled "Bitches." There were a few holes in the story and some uneven transitions but it definitely put me in a mind of one author in particular (who will remain nameless). I only wish I had the nerve to do the same thing! LOL.

Anyway, if you are an author and ever decide to visit the West Coast definitely use Same Page Promotions. Top notch!

Well, I've run out of reasons not to finish my I guess it's back to the keyboard.


Thursday, July 07, 2005

Those Darn Deadlines

Well, once again, a deadline has come and gone... without my novel. Sigh... Every contract I promise myself that I will do better this time, and alas, I don't. Sometimes I wonder if it's some kind of self-conscious sabotage.
In any event, I have a novel to finish really fast. And a short story that is also "past due." With two full-length novels due in September my literary ass is in a sling.

So rather than continue chatting... I think I will finish watching my movie and figure out how I'm going to accomplish so much in so little time.

All prayers are welcome!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Come on and Hang Out!!

Booking Matters presents....Friday Night Mystery Dinner
with bestselling author


(Donna's New Bestseller is "Getting Hers")

which will be available for purchase at this event by B's Books & More

Event being held on Friday, July 15th @ 7pm

Showtime Cafe' (Patio)
687 Memorial Drive, Atlanta, GA 30312

The Event is FREE - we are asking guest to order dinner from Showtime


Monday, July 04, 2005

The Essence Fest

Just getting back from the Essence Festival and I had a grand old time. The folks were out in record numbers and doing their thing as only black folks can. Another writer friend of mine, Gwynne Forster commented on her blog about the rate of obesity among black women that was rampant in New Orleans. I've added my comments to her blog. It is apparent that obesity is a national illness among blacks and especially among our youth. It is frightening as well as the most unsightly display I've ever had the displeasure of viewing. This unhealthy path is yet another road to our slow demise.

But other than that, I got to the Queen herself Ms. Aretha, Alicia Keyes who turned out, and John Legend who is in my humble opinion unparalled as a new artist. The boy can blow hands down! If you have not purchased his CD do so without haste.

The booksignings at the Convention center went very well and my new novel is now in the hands of many more people.

Later this week I will be heading to California (San Francisco) so those in the area, do stop in. I will be at Alexanders Bookstore on Friday at noon and several other locations. Check my website for locations (

Then next week (july 15-16) I will be in Atlanta for the National Black Arts Festival, signing at Medu Books on Saturday, and doing a Dine with the Author on Friday, sponsored by Booking Matters Magazine. I hope you will join us.

Well that's the round up for now.

Monday, June 27, 2005

It's Official

Well, after a long bout of 'when is the book coming out,' GETTING HERS is finally in bookstores and my first tour stops and early responses have been wonderful.

Wanna thank all the folks who came out to Nubian Heritage Bookstore in Brooklyn to help me celebrate and of course to the folks in Houston, Beatrice Hester and her fab bookclub and for giving me a great kick-off.

Now it's on to Essence Jazz Festival. Sure I'm going for the booksigning and the exposure, but the real truth is that I'm going for the food ... and the drinks!

After that I'm heading out west to sunny California. Can't wait. Hope to have some great pictures to post.

Most of all thanks to all of you for your love and support. If you've read the book, be sure to tell a friend and post your thoughts on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. All the buzz helps!

And if you haven't read the book, its a great summer read!

Thanks everyone

Monday, June 13, 2005

Celebrating My 15 Years!!!

Fifteen years ago this month (June) my very first novel, Rooms of the Heart was published by a small black publishing company--Odyssey Books. I owe the publisher Leticia Peoples so much for having the vision to launch Odyssey Books and for giving me a shot. It was her vision that sparked the African American Romance Revolution.

Little did I know how far that first book would take me (the original is now a collector's item). It has been a wild and glorious ride. The world of writing has opened so many doors for me and allowed me to travel, meet incredible people, make some of my closest friends and live my dream--to write.

But bottomline, I would not be where I am today without the love and support of my readers and fans. I cannot thank you all enough for always being there, buying my books and telling your friends (and don't stop now! LOL). I truly appreciate it.

And what better way to celebrate 15 years in the industry but with the release of a new book!! Be on the lookout for Getting Hers, hitting a bookstore near you.

I looking forward to the many years and challenges to come and I hope you all stay along for the ride.


Friday, June 10, 2005

Black Books and Authors

Excellent article on Black Books and Authors

Staggering Implications of Market Research Results for Black Businesses!

When Anita Diggs of Warner Books wanted to find out statistical information from the data collected about African Americans' buying habits, she realized that the information she wanted was nonexistent. Such a study has never been done in the African American communities and the information given to her had no value to her marketing plan. As a result of this shocking revelation, Anita, with others initiated a study to find out about the buying habits of African Americans. The study has started and is presently in progress and the shocking figures are coming in. Without the completion of this study, other observations have already hinted about the tremendous amount of buying power of the African Americans.
Results: From the figures just attained so far, African Americans spent $300 million buying books and over & $3 billion in buying computers and computer products in the past year. Evidence also suggested that Blacks do not buy books using the bestseller lists. African Americans buy books and products through the recommendation of a relative, a friend or a neighbor. Sixty five percent of books being published by the main stream publishing companies are of no interest to the Black communities according to Anita Diggs.
Value of Research: Many big businesses are able to attain figures of market research done by many independent organizations including the government to design their marketing strategies. When such information is not available, a lot of money is spent to collect such data. The value of this data is very important to sales and advertising managers. Without such information, marketing becomes a hit and run tactic and in most cases advertising money is wasted in a medium that may not be useful.
Scientific information carries the power of predictability of the behavior of consumers. Any wise marketing manager or advertising executive will direct marketing to mirror the results obtained from such research. For example, it will be very unwise to advertise in a newspaper in which Black people hardly ever read. Similarly, it will be a wrong business decision to ignore the buying power of African Americans.
Another interesting information fastly emerging from other observational studies is that the minority pool is getting larger and larger, and will eventually attain enormous economic power. Hispanics are joining hands with Blacks and tapping into the African American market. Some Asians are dissatisfied when not included in the minority pool because being a minority today finally has its value and economic power. For example, the panel discussion about the "Minority Publishers: Where is Everybody?" was sponsored by a women’s group and was centralized on African American issues. If we put all the minority groups together and also included women, then we have a majority with a giant political and economic power!
Implications of Research Results: Years ago African American businesses died in the processes of trying to get the word out since advertisement was and it is still very expensive on the mediums that are more effective. Those Black businesses unable to afford large advertisement money later disappeared into history. Today, things are different because the Internet becomes a giant equalizer against the monopoly created by big businesses. Any online business willing to work very hard with effective low cost promotions can start tapping very deep into the revenues of the market place. It does not take a giant company to develop and maintain an effective website to sell products to people. The most important issue however is to know how to reach those potential consumers in the African American communities. Better still, it is important to know how to get the attention of the buying middle class.
The Role of the African American Newspapers and Magazines: An effective communication pipeline connection must be constructed between the consumers and the sellers to help the Black dollars circulate in the Black communities. Black radio stations are fewer, and radio advertisement is generally expensive for small businesses. Years ago an observational study indicated that African Americans do not easily buy or embrace new products when advertised on Black radio stations except when such a product was associated with an event. Television advertisement is out of the question for small Black businesses except if done collectively in the case of exposition fairs. The only effective pipelines to consumers from sellers are the African American newspapers and magazines.
However, for those newspapers to be empowered in delivering sales information to the Black communities at large, they must be affordable and run parallel reports. For example, a newspaper serving the Black community no matter how small, can follow "a book review" section of the newspaper with a low cost classified or display advertisement section for publishers, authors and bookstores. Similarly, the same thing can be done for restaurants, gift stores, business services and the choices are endless. Such a relationship between the Black newspapers and booksellers or Black businesses will create an enormous economic empowerment for African Americans. It will also deliver valuable information to the Black community while small Black booksellers will be able to effectively tap into the $300 million book market. It was estimated that a Black newspaper with a good circulation can earn an additional $100,000 from each issue. This can be accomplished if a well designed and effective classified advertisement section is included in the paper or magazine and also on the Internet version of the same paper. Internet is very important to help market every newspaper today.
One of the biggest problems for Black businesses is the lack of information or statistical data to help market to Black communities. Another big obstacle is the high cost of newspaper advertisement. African American Magazines with national circulation like Ebony, Black Enterprises or some local magazines with impact into the Black communities can initiate low cost classified advertisements to help promote small Black businesses. It is a win-win situation for everybody. If the Black media and the Black small businesses can enter into such an alliance of helping each other, the future is very brilliant for small Black businesses.
For the alliance between Black media and Black small businesses to work effectively, the media must be ready to deliver the service cost effectively and the businesses must be ready to deliver quality services and products at competitive prices to the Black communities.
Also, the Internet has created an effective and cheaper way to communicate with the Black consumers. Based on market research, an average African American middle class home has one Internet accessible computer system. Black newspapers can now utilize their online websites to market to the Black communities and especially the Black middle class.
Although some business owners may want to worry about competition because of pipeline connections of businesses online. The present evidence suggests that online competition is insignificant for loss of revenue due to a very small number of traditional Black bookstores and websites marketing books to the Black communities. Even the big businesses are joining hands online and constructing pipelines to booster website traffic. Why should small Black businesses not utilize such strategies? The reality is, businesses making huge money selling to Black middle class and within the Black communities are not Black owned. In some situations such services have been detrimental to the Black communities because they took money out of the community and failed to invest within the same locale. Consequently, the big guy is getting bigger and the Black communities are economically dying. This has been the trend before the Internet services came into play. The competition is not between Black independent booksellers compared to the struggle against the big bookstores chains or other big businesses. With the new trend in e-commerce, if the Black newspapers refuse to combine their regular newspaper services with online services and market to the Black middle class, outsiders will retain control of the market and Black businesses will be at great loss. The time to make an impact is the time of a changing technology or changing trend. The time to reach Black and minority businesses and influence buying habits and impact Black buyers is now!
It is important to mention here that the poor Black communities are still detached from online marketing compared to Black middle class whom are already connected and making waves. The digital divide is not a racial issue as it is an economic issue regardless of race. If the Black businesses are able to aggressively tap and control the sales to Black middle class already controlled by the big businesses, this will be of great benefits to the dying inner cities. We see what has happened to the inner cities over the years and there is no evidence to believe the rescue team is coming from the outside into the Black communities. If Black businesses thrive, Black organizations will no longer have to rely on big businesses for sponsorship. They will turn to successful Black businesses to fund programs which will jump start the inner cities. As a result, such economic empowerment will cause the decline of racism of any kind. The central focus of racism is economics. Twenty years ago, there were very few television commercials featuring Blacks. Today almost every commercial on television features both African Americans, Hispanics and Asians. The reason is clear, the big guys with obnoxiously long cigars counting the dollars know where some of the money is coming from and will therefore be unwise not to market to such educated consumers.
Understanding the African Americans economic power and their buying habits will help small Black businesses to effectively aim their marketing strategies. But it will take more than just knowing the facts and figures as much as directing the operation of Black businesses to construct connection pipelines for economic empowerment in joint partnership with the Black media.
Remember a common African saying, "Who cares about what people think , as long as they do not have to feed me?" Economic empowerment of Black businesses can help to disconnect the pipeline of racism. The only reason we worry about being judged by the content of our character and hopefully not by skin color is the dependency on an unfair system. At the moment of economic empowerment, Blacks will seize the control of their destiny, just like other groups have done, at such time, ladies and gentlemen, we will have attained freedom at last!
Article by 'Yinka Vidal, Managing Editor, OUTCRY Magazine
As a result of this article and discussions with some Black businesses, is constructing an online Black Wall Street. The site is currently listing Black businesses FREE in a process of constructing a connection pipeline between Black businesses across the nation and perhaps internationally as well. So if you have a unique product to sell online and do not have a website, list your business name, product, addresses, telephone and fax numbers, E-mail address and a brief description of the product or service for FREE. If you have a business with a website and it can benefit the Black community to know about your product or service, do not hesitate to list your URL with the site at:
In addition to the above, a national calender of events and book signing schedule will be posted. If you have any activity going on in your area or you have a book signing schedule any where in the nation, do not hesitate to send us not more than a half a page press release. These press releases will be posted free of charge. Report by 'Yinka Vidal
OUTCRY Magazine June Issue: Coverage of the Chicago Book Expo
Book Expo Press Report #1
OUTCRY Magazine

The Value of Online Writing Courses

Writers, writers everywhere. Everyone who has ever had a dream about being a writer is tossing their hats in the literary ring. But is your manuscipt the best that it can be? Will it past the critical editoral or agent eye test? Those are the challenges that face all writers; from developing a strong storyline, three dimensional characters, dialogue that sizzles and descriptions that put the reader right inside the story.
Unfortunatly, most writers hold down a day job and a family and do not have time to sit in a classroom to hone their skills. That is where online writing classes come in so handy. There are many too choose from but one that has recently come online and certainly offers all of the basics and then some is The cost is affordable and it offers everything from grammar to finding an agent, self-publishing, character development and more.
If writing is what you want to do, and you want to even out the odds in getting published, this is certainly an online course that should interest you. Even if you are a published writer there is something for you to learn as well.
See you online!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Why We Are Where We Are--And How to Get Out

The following is from a post that I submitted to another online group, but I thought that it was worthy of sharing as it talks about the powerlessness of the black writer--no matter how many books we put out there.

I don't chime in much. Mainly because every other time that I do, I am politely informed by Yahoo that I am not a member of this group...sigh... :-( and when I do post I don't get much response. The only reason why I chimed in today was there was all this yipping about folks not making comments etc. and what was this list for beside finding outabout checks and sending out congratulations. I, for one, never thought that's what this list was for. I'm pretty sure that the majority of folks on this list don't have the luxury of all day access to the internet and email, which is the only reason I didn't get too undone when I posed the very question that is being raised here today... and got NO ANSWER from ANYONE AT ALL .

A little over a week ago, I let the group know that I would be speaking with librarians from across the country. The decision makers, the ones who BUY OUR BOOKS... and I wanted to know what are some of the issues that they should be made aware of, things we want, etc. Not a peep from a soul. And ultimately I spoke to them about this very same issue. A room full of white folks on the topic of ... the marginalization of black books. And do you know what the general consensus is? They think that WE want to be separated in libraries and in bookstores. Their customers come in looking for "the black section," and it makes it easier, just like in the bookstores. They were surprised but enlightened to hear that we want to be where everyone else is. (Wow what a novel idea--pun intended) The deal is, the consumer has been programmed over the years, intentionally, to find black books in the black section of the store. Why? Because the publishing industry is of the belief that the only ones truly interested in our books is US. Period. And if you get that crossover, you are just lucky but they have no intention of facilitating that effort. And unfortunately the few black editors that are in these houses taut the same mantra.

It's very true what someone said earlier, it's not that they wouldn't read us, for the most part we never cross their minds. We are invisible, until someone brings us to their attention either through conversation, sharing a book, meeting one of us in person etc. And we will continue to remain invisible to them if we are forever relegated to a "designated" section of the store and library and we don't enter contests and we don't join organizations.

The answer is not necessarilyto spin off and form "the Black Romance Writers." Truth be told, we'd still be in the same position, with the same folks, doing the samething. Cause we cannot attain a position of power if we are continually outside that circle of power. And again, the white folks(who seem to be the target market) will think "see they want to be by themselves."

No, we do not have enough readers to absorb the number of books that are being published. And yes, you will have black readers who won't pick up a black romance but read a white one. Those are the same folks who only shop in white stores, believe the white doctor and feels they will be treated better by white folks. Just like back on the plantation. Same story, different day.

So what can we do? First and foremost you must continue to write quality work. You need to make concrete decisions about your career and the house you are with. Establish a solid relationship with your editor. That is the one who will push you. Go to the conferences, join groups, make yourself visible in some kind of way. What we do is a job. We can get all flowery and say it's something else, but it's a job and it's business. And like it or not, businesses are about making money.Yes, getting paid, a check, where is it? You could be the nicest person in the world but if you are not making money for your business (the publisher), they will find another nice person who can.

Networking is key as well, with each other and others. Sharing information, marketing strategies etc. But at some point we have to move out of the comfort zone of each other and out into the world and beseen. And as quiet as it's kept 90% of writers have a day job, or aloving husband. So don't despair. :-)

Friday, June 03, 2005


As a writer there are moments, days, weeks and sometimes months when we question what we do and why the hell we do it. Especially when the checks don’t come on time, the store doesn’t have a copy of your book, your publicist says no tour, a reviewer trashed your book and your kids are begging you to pay them some attention and you have a deadline looming in front of you. It’s times like those when you just wanna say fuck it all. I can’ t do this anymore.
But then there are days like the one I had yesterday at Book Expo America, held at the Javits Center in New York City. The first day is designated as “the black day”– in the politically correct world Black Booksellers Day.

This was the day in which all the black literati big and small came out to celebrate us, our existence our perserverence and our value to the literary community.

Book publishers, authors of every ilk, publicists, buyers, agents and readers were out in force. Damn it felt good!! Folks like L.A. Banks, Victor McGlothin, Toure, Maryann Reid, Francis Ray, Brandon Massey, Bernice McFadden, Brenda Thomas, Iman (yes the supermodel), Mary Monroe, Gwynne Forster, Mary Morrison, Brenda Jackson, Victoria Christopher Murray, James Guitard, Nancey Flowers (ME) and a whole host of others… the list goes on.
It felt good to know that I could count myself among them, to see friends and share a moment of sister and brotherhood, war stories and triumphs.

To be truthful, I am often at odds with the whole notion of us black folks needing to “have something black” to effectively set us apart from everyone else. But I must admit, it is a sensational feeling to be among your own, to bathe in the glow of our successes and celebrate it in the only way black folks know how–by having a good time!!

Although I was terribly ill (with a helluva cold), I came away feeling revitalized, needing to make a contribution, wanting to be better at what I was doing, wanting to help others to be the best they could be.

Dang… I almost came home and wrote those 250+ pages I needed to finish this book!! Almost. I took a pill and went to bed.

But… I go back on Saturday, for that last shot of literary adrenaline.. I know that will be the one to push me over the mountaintop!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

On the Issue of Agents--AUTHORS BEWARE

I was taking a look at some of the comments on another writers and readers group fictionfolks and the disturbing discussion was about unscrupulous agents and what is truly acceptable practices.

I've been fortunate to have been with the same agent for fourteen years. So some of the issues that I hear about seem so foreign to me. I'd really like to know from those out there whose agent:
1. requires them to pay for postage, phone calls and copies?
2.Did you sign a letter of agreement with them?
3.What is the duration?
4. Do you pay a reading fee?
5. Do they send you an itemized list of charges per month, quarterly and are those fees deducted out of your royalties or are you paying up front?

In my mind, and perhaps I'm being naive, agents get 15% for the life of a book.....loooooong after they have negotiated the deal. Seems to me that would more than cover the costs of a few phone calls and a couple of packages.

The deal is, the agent works for you. They don't get paid if you don't get paid. It would behoove them to secure you the best deal possible not only for you but for themselves. Phone calls, copies, faxes and mailing are all part and parcel of doing business. That's like saying "free checking" as long as you maintain 50,000 in a account! LOL.

The bottomline is, if you are on the hunt for an agent, I beg you to do your research. You are hiring an employee--an employee who has immediate and lifelong tenure with your work. It is a legal and binding arrangement. You could find out six months into the relationship that it's not going to work, but that agent will get your check first, take their portion and send you the rest... long after you have severed a working relationship with them. "Authors Beware."

1. Find out their client list
2. Talk to some of their clients...(if they are unwilling to tell you--RUN)
3. Check them out in Literary Marketplace and their company name with the Better Business Bureau. (Agents have been known to close up shop and take author's money right along with them)
4. Attend conferences to meet some of these agents face-to-face (whenever possible).
5. Make sure that they represent the kind of work you are writing. That will have a major bearing on where their power is and their contacts are.

You are on the hunt for the ideal employee, one who shares your enthusiasm about your work, your vision and is willing to work with you to achieve your goals. It is a partnership. And just because they are with a big named agency does not mean that you will get "BIG NAME" quality and service. You may wind up as a small fish in a very big pound, especially if you are not a major rainmaker for the company. Take all that into consideration when you are looking for an agent. Do you go with a big agency or someone smaller who can give you more attention or someone new who is eager and hungry?

I have been so fortunate to have been with the same agent. I wouldn't trade her in for the world. She is honest, quick in sending me my checks, brainstorms with me and is always willing to go to bat if I'm not happy about something. And in the 14 years that I've been with her, she has never charged one thin dime for anything.

But that's my lucky story. I'm sure there are many others. But here is a great place for you to share your agent stories and concerns, recommendations and those folks should stay away from.

We need to hear from you.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Publisher's Weekly Gives A Stamp of Approval... Sort Of

Every now and again, you get pleasant surprises in life. Well today I got just that; a solid, quotable review from Publisher's Weekly. Reviews, as all published writers know, is a crap shoot at best. You could have written the greatest American novel and a reviewer could come along and make you want to retire your trusty pen. So when the good ones come along, you relish them. So in absolute shameless self-promotion here it is...
Getting Hers Donna Hill. St. Martin's, $19.95 (224p) ISBN 0-312-28194-3
Three unlikely accomplices—all members of the men-are-dogs club—join forces to right the wrongs they've suffered in Hill's latest (Divas, Inc., etc.), a page-turning tale of murder, intrigue and revenge. On their way out of their gynecologist's reception room, diverse but equally glamorous strangers Nikki Perez, Kim Sheppard-Benning and Tess McDonald are trapped for hours in the elevator during a blackout. Nikki, a Latina ex-con who took the fall for a callous but irresistible boyfriend; Kim, a wealthy, WASPy entrepreneur whose husband threatens to disclose a secret that will ruin her career; and Tess, an African-American high-class madam on the run from the law, join together in sisterly solidarity after trading stories of the betrayals they've survived. The trio forms an alliance and toasts to "getting what's ours... success... [and] retribution," at whatever cost. With its zippy dialogue, ruthless yet vulnerable women and quickly escalating plot, this romp offers satisfying fantasy. (June)

Friday, May 13, 2005

Is It a Career or a Hobby?

I cannot tell you the number of people who have said to me "I want to write a book," "I've been wanting to write this book for years," "I think I have a unique story to tell about my life..." The list goes on. Now, don't get me wrong, I think it is admirable to want to write a book. But trust me, it is more than a notion. Writing is a commitment. So when you decide that you want to write that book you need to also decide if you are a sprinter or a long distance runner. Are you writing for the short haul or because you truly have a calling.

Writing is not only putting pen to paper or fingers to keys. Writing is an art, it is a talent, it is a blessing. With our words, our visions we can take people to places they have never been, open hearts and minds, create dialogue and controversy. The old saying that "the pen is mightier than the sword," is still true. What you put down on paper will remain long after you are gone. It is a representation of you. It is like giving birth to a child and sending the child out into the world. As a parent would you send your child out into the world unpreprared, uneducated, unwordly, unclothed? Of course not. You would want to give the child the absolute best so that they are equipped to face the harshness of the world. In the writing arena that harshness is the reviewers and readers.

You want your work to be as prepared as you would prepare your child. You want it polished. And in order to do that, you cannot wake up tomorrow and decide to "be a writer." Writing is not something that "you become" but rather something that you "always have been." It is what you do, what you dream and fantasize about--not every now and then, but always.

To a true writer, the need to craft a story is like simply must.

So before jumping into the pool of established and aspiring authors, truly decide if this is a career, something that you must have, something that you want to see grow. And you know that you are willing to cut off friends, family and social time. That you are willing to invest in your career by taking classes, attending literary events, reading, reading, reading. Don't do it just for the money, (trust me, for most it ain't enough to quit your day job) or to see your name on a book cover. That's a hobby.

Look deep inside. Are you a sprinter or a long distance runner? How much are you willing to commit; a little or a lot. It is about ego or the love of the art?

The decision is yours! Happy writing.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Count Down

Well, as fate and circumstances beyond my control the release of my book Getting Hers is being delayed by a couple of weeks. At first I was really bummed out about it. But then I realized that there was light at the end of the tunnel. With more time, it will give me the opportunity to get the buzz out, hopefully get folks interested in it ... like they do with the movies... you keep seeing trailers until you are almost committed to seeing the movie. The same thing just before a CD drops. So I figure I will use my time wisely... look at my options and make the most of it.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Why Does It Last?

As much as it is bad-mouthed, covered in elaborate cloths to hide it's contents, as much as millions deny ever having touched one, romance novels continue to flourish. They remain a staple in the literary world and have over time, evolved from pure historical bodice rippers to sweeping love stories that could even make a grown man cry.

What is it about the genre that continues to fascinate, intimidate and intrigue readers. More importantly, what is it about the genre that births ravenous fans worldwide like no other genre?

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

To Be a Superstar

How do you elevate yourself from a common denominator to a superstar? Apparently it's by doing something stupid. Take the chick who decided that instead of telling he beloved that the wedding was off, she took off, cut her hair and said she'd been kidnapped. Now if that is not a runaway bride I don't know what is. She cost her city hundreds of thousands of dollars and yet instead of prosecuting her (as they should) her story is on the cover of every newspaper and news show. What's up with that? My question is, would the authorities have been so kind if: 1. her soon-to-be father in law were not a former member of law enforcement and 2. if her name would have been Beulah Jones from Harlem, New York? My guess is her ass would be peeking out from behind bars instead of from under a towel!!

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Lowering the Standards

In every profession there are standards, whether you are an auto repair man or a neurosurgeon. There are expectations, and when those expectations are not met, the "people" cry foul. They boycott the product, sue for malpractice, and demand refunds. The list goes on.
Why then have the standards for black writers been reduced to the lowest common denominator and no one seems to care? And worst, accepted and in some circles applauded for "keeping it real."
Would blatant mediocrity be tolerated or accepted in any other camp? I think not. But ... what do I know?

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Sneak Peek at Getting Hers

Prologue--Fate is A Funny Thing

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to put to rest the body of our brother, Troy Benning, husband of Kimberly Sheppard-Benning and a friend to many . . .”
Kim’s alabaster complexion was dutifully shielded behind the black veil that dipped down dramatically from her wide-brimmed black hat. She brought a white handkerchief beneath the veil and dabbed at her dry eyes. “Bastard,” she muttered.

The reverend droned on about what a wonderful man Troy was while an endless stream of grievers marched up to the grave to toss a rose or utter words of sorrow and condolence to Kim.
Kim scanned the crowd from behind her veil hoping to catch a glimpse of Stephanie. Finally she spotted her, with her arm tucked through that of her husband, Malcolm. Kim’s stomach muscles tightened as Stephanie’s green-eyed gaze found Kim’s blue one. Stephanie offered a slow, sad smile before looking away.

On the far side of the proceedings, Tess McDonald desperately wanted a cigarette. Funerals, cops, pre-dawn phone calls, hot sex and situations out of her control always elevated her craving. Casually she looked the crowd over. Nothing particularly unusual, except that someone in attendance murdered Troy Benning.

From the opposite side of the hole, beneath the shadow of a spanning oak, Nicole Perez murmured “Amen,” along with the mourners. “And good riddance,” she added under her breath. Nicole clasped her gloved hands together and licked her blood red lips. From behind dark glasses her onyx eyes darted around the throng of mourners then returned to rest on the hole in the ground. She swallowed. With all of the situations that she’d found herself in, even behind bars, she hadn’t been afraid, wary maybe, cautious for sure but never afraid. She put on a good front, she had to. No one could ever find out what really happened—or didn’t. She swallowed hard and tugged in a deep breath. This would all be over soon and the three of them could move on with their lives—whatever that may be.

Two Months Later:
Tess, Nikki and Kim raised their wine glasses in a quiet toast.
"To us," Tess said, as her lids lowered ever so slightly over her honey brown eyes and the curve of her wide mouth spread in a salacious grin, the bold bronze color matching her body-hugging dress to perfection.
The trio clinked their glasses together as the Amtrak Acela Express sped out of New York City en route to Washington, D.C.
Expertly coiffed as usual, Kim’s signature diamond studs sparkled against the light. Kim lowered her head and her voice to a whisper. "I still can't believe it.”
"What's not to believe? They tried to screw us and we fucked them first," Nicole said with a nonchalant flick of her wrist. Her tennis bracelet flashed. “The bastards deserved it.”
Kim flushed crimson. She spoke from between clenched teeth. "Do you always have to talk like that?" Her blue eyes darted around the dining car to see if anyone in earshot was offended. “We can dress you up but we still can’t take you out.”
Nicole grinned and gave Kim a wink. “Be careful my little pretty, the wife is always the first suspect.”
Tess stretched her slender hand across the table and covered Kim's pale fingers with her cocoa brown ones. "Relax. You know Nikki is just being Nikki. She loves to see you flustered, and you go for it every time."
Kim cut a look in Nicole's direction. Nicole smirked into her glass.
“Philadelphia 30th Street Station in three minutes,” the conductor announced.
Nicole picked up her purse and rose.
“Both of you be sure to check the classifieds from time to time. It is how we will communicate—should the need ever arise,” Tess said.
Kimberly and Nicole nodded in agreement.
Nicole looked from one woman to the other and for an instant appeared sad. “New city, new life.” She paused, pulled and pulled in a breath of resolve. “Thank you both,” she said barely above a whisper. She turned and walked away.
“I should be getting back to my car,” Kimberly muttered, before polishing off the last of her drink. She stood. “I’m sure we won’t be seeing each other again.”
Tess nodded. “You never know,” she said slowly.
“Take care of yourself, Tess.”
“You do the same, Kim.” She smiled as Kim walked away.

Alone now, Tess leaned back against the blue leather headrest and watched the landscape sweep past the window. She crossed her legs beneath the table and took a thoughtful sip from her glass of wine.
Over the past few months they'd gone from virtual strangers and wary adversaries to partners in crime--so to speak—revealing and acting upon their deepest secrets, their darkest fears. It had been risky. They’d put their families, their money, themselves in jeopardy. It had taken all of their connections, wits, and determination, but mostly the unholy pact they made to get as far as they did. Had is all been worth the sleepless nights? Only time would tell.
Under normal circumstances they would have never met in a million years—she a black high-priced Madame who ran the biggest escort service on the East coast, Nicole a Latina beauty boasting a mouth like a long shoreman, with a penchant for guns and fast cars, and Kim a white, married business tycoon who was in love with the wife of a congressman. But fate, the stars, and the mutual goal of retribution brought them together one blistering afternoon in June--the hottest June day on record...

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Long Over Due

Whew, how long has it been? Too long judging by my last post. I can't say that I have forgotten about this old blog... but I must admit that I have been busy. A fun kind of busy.

I do believe I am entering a crossroads in my writing career, having just re-signed my contract with St. Martins. Yippee. Many will say... go for the money... the big advance. I say, go where you are wanted.

For all that my publisher may or may not do for me, I do feel that I am wanted.. and respected which is even more important.

I probably could have gone elsewhere for bigger bucks but my heart would not have been in it. So I made a conscious business decision to stay put. Too often we get dazzled by the dollars and ultimately pay the price at the end. What I would like to know.... if you had the choice to sign a contract for BIG BUCKS or write for a house that allowed you to spread your wings and fly, which would you choose?

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Books-To Film

The Five Top-Selling Novels Now Headed for the Silver Screen March 07, 2005
By Chuck Shelton

Five of the novels whose film rights were most recently acquired are ranked here in order of sales figures, as reported by Nielsen BookScan, for the week ending Feb. 27.
1. THE KNOWN WORLD, Edward P. Jones (Amistad, Paperback, 0060557559)
2. JONATHAN STRANGE & MR. NORRELL, Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury, Hardcover, 1582344167)
3. LITTLE EARTHQUAKES, Jennifer Weiner (Atria, Hardcover, 0743470095)
4. MIDNIGHT FOR CHARLIE BONE, Jenny Nimmo (Orchard, Hardcover, 0439474299)
5. THE HA-HA, Dave King (Little, Brown, Hardcover, 0316156108).

As you can read here in The Book Standard’s Weekly Books-to-Film Deals Roundup, the Feb. 25–announced acquisition of last week’s top-selling book-to-film literary property, Edward P. Jones’s The Known World: "John Wells Prods., with Wells and writer/performer Anna Deavere Smith producing, will adapt The Known World, Edward P. Jones’s Pulitzer Prize–winning novel about free black Americans who owned slaves, which was also a bestseller—it sold 276,000 copies year-to-date in paperback, according to BookScan. Two months before its publication, Kirkus Reviews said of it: " ‘. . . should be a major prize contender, and it won’t be forgotten.’ " Smith is also set to pen the screenplay.

Also in this week’s deals report from The Book Standard, the #2 top-selling novel-to-film is the epic fantasy phenomenon Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: "New Line Cinema scores big with the upcoming adaptation of Susanna Clarke’s bestselling Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, which has sold 209,000 copies in hardcover since its September ’04 publication, according to Nielsen BookScan. Christopher Hampton will adapt. The epic story revolves around a magician and his apprentice who use their powers to battle Napoleon, but are soon pitted against each other. Kirkus Reviews called it "one of the finest fantasies ever written."

Chick-lit has for the past few years very successfully fed the chick-film engine, and, with Little Earthquakes, novelist Jennifer Weiner delivers the latest lit for Elizabeth Kruger and Craig Shapiro to film-produce. Universal bought the rights for the duo at Double Feature, with the mavericks-turned-establishment-managers/producers Chris Bender and J.C. Spink—the Benderspink boys—attached to co-produce. Currently in the very early development stage. Producers have not yet tapped a screenwriter. Kirkus Review on Weiner’s novel, from Atria Books: "[The book] follows four Philadelphia women as they face the challenges, from trivial to profound, of new motherhood, becoming friends in the process. . . . Weiner pulls her punches with a too-neat ending." Typical—and popular—recipe for the Bridget Jones crowd. Since its publication last Sept., the book has sold 85,000 year-to-date, according to BookScan. The trade paperback reprint is scheduled for July release.

In the No. 4 sales spot for future books-to-film fiction adaptations, the immensely popular YA novel Midnight for Charlie Bone was picked up by Warners, on behalf of Thunder Road’s Basil Iwanyk and Alysia Cotter, who will produce. They’ve enlisted Neil Alsip, a former writer for The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn, to pen the script. Kirkus Reviews was not terribly impressed with the novel, which was published by Orchard Books, saying: "Charlie’s adventure adds up to a formulaic, thinly disguised placeholder for the next Harry Potter." That can’t be bad news for filmmakers, though, since Harry’s adventures are few and far between. Young filmmakers will most likely more than welcome a Potter placeholder. Since its publication in March ’03, the book has sold nearly 106,000 copies.

The preternaturally busy screenwriter and producer Akiva Goldsman—he’s currently adapting The Da Vinci Code and wrapping up Memoirs of a Geisha, for which he also wrote the script—will possibly make his directorial debut with Dave King’s first novel, The Ha-Ha. Goldsman is also producing. Calls to his production company, Weed Road Productions, regarding whether he’d also pen the script, went unreturned. No other screenwriter has yet been announced. The film rights were bought by Warners for Weed Road. The book, published by Little, Brown, concerns a Vietnam vet, now mute and unable to write, whose former girlfriend upends his life by leaving her son with him as she heads to rehab. Starring, we’d venture, Russell Crowe and the greatly underappreciated Jennifer Jason Leigh.