Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Her dead mother was alive.
Yet, days after learning the unthinkable, Parris was still unable to reconcile the truth with the lie she’d been nursed and nurtured on for three decades. The enormity of it echoed throughout the cool stillness of the one room church.
Her emotions shifted between disbelief and anger, anguish and shock to despair and back again. So she’d come here to the one place where she’d always found answers, balance and a quieting of her spirit.
But even here, the solace she sought was unattainable, a vapor that could be seen but not touched. The letter she held between her slender fingers was yellowed with age and now freed with the others from their hiding place behind her Nana’s stove, its wizened face crisscrossed by the fine lines of an unfamiliar hand, cracked under the onslaught of air and light.
Parris held the letter like one unfamiliar with a newborn—cautious, fearful, yet in awe of its mysteries. There were answers here, etched between the lines which she struggled to see. She knew it, could feel it. She knew if she just looked hard enough she would know why.
The words, though not addressed to her, connected her to the woman she’d only imagined. The woman that was buried on European shores after giving birth to her—or so she’d been told. Told so many times that she believed it, became part of the lie. She believed her Nana when she sat her down on her knee, looked her deep in the eyes and said, “your mama loved you so much gal, wanted you to have a little piece of somethin’ so bad that she begged those fancy doctors to save her baby no matter what. Yessir, that’s what she done for ya cause she loved ya. Even fo’ you got here.”
Imagine being loved like that, so hard and so strong even before you took your first breath. The thought of it filled all the empty spaces that the void of not having her mother left in her life.
And that’s the lie she told her friends when they asked where her mother was and why she lived with her grandmother. She told her truth. The only one she knew. Now what she knew was no more. The ache of it settled in her bones, squeezed her heart and stripped her throat raw.
What was she to do?
She bowed her head as the long shadow of the cross fell across her lap, deepened as the sun shifted, preparing to settle down for the night. She’d lost track of how long she’d sat on the worn wooden pew, its hardness softened and curved by years of hips and thighs that heaved, sighed and caressed it throughout the years.
Her green eyes, butterfly quick, flitted from one space to the next as a montage of images gathered around her. How many times had she walked the aisle as a child, a teen, a woman? How many sermons had she heard, christenings and marriages had she attended? How many songs had she sung in the choir? How many times had she looked out on the congregation to see her Nana Cora and Grandpa David watching her with pride? So many.
But how could any of this—all the things that she knew—be concrete when she was no more than an illusion? And if she was no longer real then nothing in her life could be either. With familiarity now a stranger, she had no choice but to create a new reality. And if not here, then where?
She’d come back, back to her home of Rudell, Mississippi to be witness to her grandmother Cora’s transition. The woman who raised her, loved her, taught her right from wrong, gave her the gift of music—lied to her. Lied. The word burned in her throat, stirring and simmering into something bigger than herself erupting into an emotion that was so unfamiliar Rage. Parris raged at Cora, raged at her for keeping the secret and nearly taking it with her to her grave.
Cora confessed on her waning breath that Emma, her mother, was alive, was living in Europe, that she’d turned her infant daughter over to Cora only days after her birth and never returned. The only connection Cora had with her daughter through the years was the intermittent letters that filled the tin box behind the stove.
Cora turned the letters over to Parris in the final hours before her passing. They revealed so much and nothing at all. Handwriting style, frequency, location, inquiries about the child she’d abandoned. Yet none of the letters collected for almost thirty years explained why?
Why was Parris unworthy of her mother’s love? Why did Emma give her away and never come back? Why was Parris told that her mother was dead? And why did the woman whom she’d idolized all her life keep the answers and take them with her?
Parris jerked around, startled by the noise behind her. Her gaze settled along with her heartbeat when she saw her grandfather crossing the threshold. She brushed the tears from her eyes only for them to be followed by more.
David swept his hat from his head and walked reverently down the aisle. She made room for him next to her.
“Been wondering where you been for so long,” he said in that cottony comfort voice that had cocooned her to sleep on many an occasion.
Parris sighed and rested her head on his shoulder of welcome. Her granddad was the only doctor in Rudell for decades. It wasn’t until about five years ago that another doctor set out her shingle. But it had taken many a dinner conversation, trips to the Left Hand River and loud debates in front of the general store for the townspeople of Rudell to come to terms with a new doctor—especially a woman. Things may have changed in the rest of the world but Rudell, Mississippi was no different than it had been in the early 1900s when her great grandfather Joshua Harvey was the preacher at this very church.
“Nana wanted me to go find my mother.”
She could feel David’s head bob up and down. “And what do you plan to do?”
“It’s what I’ve been sitting here thinking about.” She angled her head to take in his strong profile. “I don’t want to leave you granddad. What are you going to do out here . . . alone?”
He lifted his square chin just a notch. Not enough for someone who didn’t know him to even notice. But Parris knew her grandfather. That tiny tick meant he’d made up his mind and no amount of persuasion was going to change it.
“I’ll be just fine. This is my home. I stay here . . .and I can stay close to Cora.” His full lips pinched. “That young man of yours is up at the house, packin’ looks like.”
The dry muscles of her throat struggling for moisture tightened even more.
“Can’t sit here crying forever. Not what Cora would have wanted. She’d want you to get on with your life.”
“What life!” Her voice splintered the quiet of the church, cracking under the pressure of a question she couldn’t answer. She turned swollen, tear-filled eyes on him.
“The life you had, the life you gonna make. You have everything you need. It’s up to you to decide what you gon’ do with it.” He paused a beat. “I been listenin’ to you since you been back, humming a little, singing a bit. God and your grandma gave you a gift—the voice of an angel. Now you kin head on back to New York. Ain’t nobody gonna fault you none. But when you stand up and sing in front of folks, those notes won’t ring true. Every one of them is gonna have an empty hole in it.” He rubbed his jaw with a large, dark hand that had the power to heal. “Or you can go find your mama. Hear her tell you what you need to hear. When you do that the hole in those notes and that space in your heart will be filled.”
He kissed the top of her head. “Up to you. Whatever you decide you best hurry for that boy leaves without a goodbye.” He pushed up from his seat, wincing a little from the nag in his right hip. He made a mental note to ask Cora to rub some liniment on it. He squeezed his hat. The tiniest groan of pain pushed up from his gut, sputtered across his lips. He remembered. His Cora was gone. He blinked away the burn in his eyes with each step he took toward the door. Nearly a half century of loving one woman. He had no idea how he was going to make it. No idea at all.
Parris heard the church door squeak shut. Her slender body shuddered as a wave of sorrow rolled through her. Granddad was right. She couldn’t sit there forever. She needed to talk with Nick. Figure something out—about everything, including them.
She gathered her lightweight baby blue shawl that she’d brought along with her, gently folded the letter and put it in her shirt pocket. She took one last look around and walked out.

The sun was easing down behind the hilltops, playing hide and seek between the branches and leaves of the towering coves of trees that led to the Left Hand River and separated them from the white part of town. The air was filled with the fresh scents of rich earth, ripe grass, farm animals and simplicity.
That’s what she drew into her lungs—simplicity. The slow, easy pace of country living. She’d been home for just about a month and she had yet to see one person hurrying anywhere. There wasn’t an abundance of cars. The town was so small folks walked mostly everywhere. And if they did have a ways to go they hitched a ride.
Gentrification hadn’t touched Rudell. Somehow the townspeople were able to maintain their way of life without the onslaught of yuppies, buppies, condos, superstores and Starbucks squeezing the spirit out of them.
She walked up the path that led to her grandparents home, a neat two story structure, one of only a half dozen like it in town. Today was the first day that the front door wasn’t swinging open and closed from the trainload of grievers that had click-clacked through the house for three days. She’d swear that all five-hundred residents of Rudell must have come to pay their respects to her grandmother and dropped off everything from whole fried chickens, seasoned collards, peas and rice, mac and cheese, to fruit salads and peanuts. Granddad would have enough food for the next two months. And from the gleam in some of the widow’s eyes and the extra smiles on their red lips, he’d have company too.
A light went on in the window of the second floor, catching her eye. She watched the silhouette of her grandfather as he slowly sat down on the side of the bed and buried his head in his hands.
Parris shut her eyes for a moment and sent up a silent prayer to ease his heart. When she opened the front door, Nick was at the kitchen table. His suitcase, like a faithful pup sat as his feet. A medley of mouthwatering aromas harmonized in a “come sit down” tune and her stomach called back in response.
“Hi.” The faint greeting hung in the food scented air.
“Thought I was going to miss you.” He pushed back from the table, the old wooden legs of the chair tap dancing across the highs and lows of the aging linoleum.
“I couldn’t let you leave without saying goodbye.”
His jaw tightened as he nodded.
“What time is your bus?”
“Six. David . . . your grandfather said he would drive me to the station.”
Uncertainty made them sudden strangers. Instead of reaching for each other they sought the support of chair backs and table edges.
Parris squeezed and twisted the shawl between her fingers. “I can take you.”
“Are you sure?”
“I want to.”
Nick pushed his hands deep into his pockets to keep from reaching for her, to appear as casual and unaffected as she. He shrugged his left shoulder. “Cool. Ready when you are.”
She tried to meet his eyes but the questions that hung there turned her away. “I’ll let granddad know.” She hurried toward the stairs and went up.
The door at the end of the hall was closed, but unable to contain the light within, a sliver snuck out from the bottom and bathed the floor with a path of illumination that beckoned her. She knocked lightly on the door, listened to the rustle of movement and the creek of the four-poster bed.
A half-smile greeted her. “Was just resting a bit before I took your young man to the bus depot.”
“That’s what I came to tell you. I’m going to take him.”
The smile came full. He dug in his pocket and took out the car keys. “Drive slow.” He handed her the keys.
Parris grinned. “Is there any other way to drive in Rudell?” She leaned up and kissed his gray stubbled cheek. “See you soon.”
“I’ll leave a plate out for you.”
“Thanks,” she said over her shoulder. When she returned to the kitchen, Nick had already taken his bag and was sitting on the steps outside. She pressed her fingertips to her stomach to settle the butterflies that had broken loose. “Ready?”
He angled his head toward her then stood, the long lean lines of his body unfolding like the break of dawn—pure majesty.
“Sure.” He trotted down the four steps ahead of her and strolled toward the old Ford parked at the end of the path.
As Parris descended the stairs she couldn’t believe that she was actually letting him go back to New York without her. Initially, before the full ramifications of her discovery hit her, she’d told Nick that she wanted him to meet her mother. The raw excitement of finding out that her mother was indeed alive overshadowed the questions that began as a light summer shower before intensifying to an unstoppable hurricane ruining everything in its path. She was battered by the unrelenting winds and rains of confusion, weakened and shocked by the power of deceit, leaving her with only remnants of what she’d been able to salvage. She wasn’t the woman he’d met so many months ago when she shyly approached him for a singing gig at his nightclub. She wasn’t the woman who captured an audience and held them in her palm like the last strains of a Billie Holliday ballad. She wasn’t the woman who walked out on her boss slash lover, lost her job and her apartment.
She was someone else now and until she discovered who that someone was, she couldn’t be part of anyone’s life.
Parris followed Nick to the car. She opened his door first and his hand brushed her wrist. The jolt rocked them both. She stepped back, hurried around to the other side and slid behind the wheel. Nick tossed his bag into the back seat and got in next to her. This was the closest they’d been in days. She could feel the heat rise off his skin and settle around her. If she listened really close she could hear the steady rhythm of his heart. The air in her lungs balled up in her throat. She rolled down the window so that she could breathe and in the blink of an eye, tension crawled into the back seat and hunkered down for the ride—keeping them company.
Forcing herself to concentrate, Parris put the car in gear and slowly eased off heading toward the end of town and the bus stop. En route down the one main road, they passed the hopscotch of houses, built more for comfort and protection from the elements than design. Some were squat like overripe squashes, others were long and lean like the fields of cornstalks. And some, well they were just there. She waved at the familiar faces of porch sitters who’d come out to catch a bit of the cool evening air.
“I can only imagine how hard things have been for you,” Nick said, breaking the wall of silence.
Parris sucked in a breath.
“I want you to know that whatever decision you make about your mother, your life . . . your career, I’m here for you.”
“I know that.” She stole a look at him. “And I never told you thank you for coming here.”
“You don’t have to. I came because I wanted to. I thought you needed me.”
“I did. I still do.” Her sigh filled up the space between them,. “There’s so much happening inside me. I . . . I can’t explain it. But I have to work it out on my own.”
He reached for her, rested his hand on her thigh. “Don’t shut me out, Parris. Please.”
His fingertips were hot coals searing her skin, the heat winding its way to that place in her heart that had turned bitter cold. It would be so easy to let the warmth envelop her, wrap her in the comfort of it, until she drifted off to a dreamless slumber where the yesterdays had never been and there was only now and tomorrow.
What had happened between them in such a short space of time? he thought, frustration and sadness jockeying for position. He’d turned his life around so that he could be the man that she deserved. He’d cut off his ties with Percy back in New York, paid off his debt. He didn’t owe anyone. He could start fresh with a new club that was his and not controlled by mob money. She knew that. He’d told her everything. He’d worked quietly behind the scenes for months to get her a recording contract and even that didn’t put the light back in her eyes—the one thing she’d dreamed of, had worked for. He’d been so sure that coming here, being with her during this dark time in her life would show her how much he cared, what she meant to him. He’d envisioned them returning to New York together, taking the city and the world by storm. Something beyond finding out about her mother had changed her and in turn it had changed them.
The bus depot came into view. Parris’s heart beat a little faster. Tell him before it’s too late. She pulled the car onto the shoulder of the road and shut it off.
She turned halfway in her seat. “Bus should be here any minute,” she said instead of the words that really mattered.
“Yeah,” he murmured, opened the door and got out. He took his suitcase from the back seat and shut the door.
She stepped out and came around to where he stood. “I don’t even have a place to stay if I come back now,” she said, the words and the fear tumbling out. “I have no job . . .”
Nick’s hopes awakened. He gripped her shoulders. “Look at me.”
Slowly she raised her head and her gaze danced with the dark intensity of his. “We can work it out. We. Isn’t that what you want?”
“I don’t know what I want right now.”
“Then let’s figure it out together. Do what you need to do here and when you’re ready to come back we’ll make it work.”
“I don’t know how long it’s going to be.”
“It doesn’t matter.” The urgency in his voice competed with the sound of the arriving bus.
Parris’s eyes darted toward the bus and the line of passengers ready to board.
“Just come back to me.” He moved up to her, so close that he could feel the vibrations of her body.
The driver blew the horn.”All aboard for Jackson.”
Nick snapped his head toward the bus then back at Parris. “Promise me.”
Her lips parted to the blare of the horn.
Nick drew her tight against him, so that every dip and curve bent to his will. He kissed her like a Mississippi summer; hot, wet and long, stealing their breath.
“I promise,” she said as air rushed back into her lungs and she found herself standing alone on the curb as the bus pulled off. Tentatively she touched her fingers to her lips while she watched the bus kick up dirt and turn the bend. “I promise.”
Returning to the car she headed back, and for the first time in days she didn’t feel so terribly alone.

“So you let him go,” David said coming into the kitchen. He moved to the refrigerator and took out the pitcher of sweet tea, placed it on the table between them.
Parris used her fork to move the collards around on her plate, framing the yams and fried chicken breast. “He couldn’t stay and I wasn’t ready to go.”
“Nothing for you to do here. Seems to me that’s the reason why you left in the first place to pursue your dream. This town is too small for you. No dreams here.” He eased down into the hard-backed chair. He refilled her glass.
“Thank you.” She cupped the glass but didn’t drink. “I’m angry at Nana,” she blurted out. “So angry.” She bit out each word. “I know I shouldn’t be, but I can’t help it and the anger is eating me up inside.”
“Your grandmother did what she needed to do.” He glanced away. “What she had to do for everyone concerned. You have no idea the weight she carried all those years.” His voice shook with the passion of his convictions, rumbling right down the center of Parris’s chest. “So you can go on being mad, faulting other folk, being miserable or you can do something about it.” He stood, drew in a long breath. “All I got to say about it. Be sure to put the food up and turn on the porch light. I’m going to bed.”
She watched him walk away, his always ramrod straight back was suddenly stooped by more than he could carry. And she realized she’d done that, throwing one more boulder on his shoulders —her own weight of uncertainty..
She pushed up from the table. “I’m sorry, granddad,” she called out.
He waved it off with a swipe of his hand and took each step as if he were scaling the mountaintop.
The bedroom door opened and swung shut. She flinched.
She couldn’t be another weight. Granddad didn’t deserve that. And as much as she tried to convince him and herself that she was staying because she didn’t want him to be alone was all smoke and mirrors, a parlor trick. She was adrift and she was desperately trying to hold onto the preserver of a life that was familiar. But he was right. Her life was no longer hers and hadn’t been for much too long.
She glanced at the clock above the sink. Nick’s bus should be arriving at the Jackson airport station in another half hour at best. Possibility jumped inside her. She picked up her plate of uneaten food and scraped it into the trash. If she hurried . . . She bit down on her lip. She had her ticket. Her resources were limited. This wasn’t a big city. There were no all night car services. Her gaze rose toward the stairs, listened to the heavy footsteps that crossed the floor.
If she hurried . . . She sprinted upstairs, raised her hand to knock just as the door opened.
“I know all the back roads,” David said.
Her luminous green eyes widened followed by an awe-filled smile. She leapt into his broad chest and he enveloped her in understanding.
“We better get going before we miss him,” he said into her cottony soft spirals. He kissed her smooth forehead and stepped back.
She gazed at him and saw the familiar love brimming in his tender brown eyes. She nodded, spun away and ran down to the opposite end of the hallway to her room. Without thinking of anything except getting to Nick before he took off, she tossed her few belongings in her suitcase, snatched up her purse and ran out to meet her grandfather who had already started up the old Ford.

With granddad behind the wheel, Parris tried to relax and put her impulsive actions into perspective. She was on her way to catch a man whom she’d let go with no more than a whispered promise of “perhaps,” and now she needed to take him up on his offer to house and employ her until she regained some semblance of her life.
She hadn’t even offered to drive him to the airport, she thought, flinching inside. Her momentarily buoyant spirits began to sink. What if he’d reconsidered his offer?
“No use fretting about it,” David said, reading the frown lines in her forehead. “He’ll either be glad to see you or he won’t. And judging from the way he looks at you, I can’t imagine him being anything but a happy man.”
“From your lips to God’s ears.” She patted his thigh. “Thanks for this granddad.”
“Back home is where you need to be.”
They bumped along the back roads before suddenly emerging on the main highway. The road was empty. Their only company was the intermittent lights that illuminated the pitch black roads.
“What are you going to do, granddad, really?”
He sighed heavily. “Take one day at a time, sugah. I been thinking maybe I’ll turn one of those rooms into an office. Start seeing some of my patients right at the house. Cora always took issue with that. Said she didn’t want a whole lotta sick folk traipsing in and out of her house.” He chuckled at the memory and shook his head. “Yeah, she was something.”
Parris heard the wistful note in his voice. She could only imagine how difficult it would be for him. But hopefully his medical practice would fill some of the space that Cora had left.
Her granddad was the definition of country doctor. He still made house calls, had delivered half the babies in town, and had treated household generations. As much as she wanted him to come back to New York where she could look after him, she understood that he would never be happy there. The frenetic pace and the noise would drive him right back to the Delta.
“We should get to the airport in about twenty minutes,” he said.
Parris glanced at her watch. Nick’s plane was due to take off in an hour. Her heart thumped. She should probably call, let him know that she was coming. Maybe now she’d get a signal on her cell phone which she’d been unable to do since she’d arrived in Rudell.
She dug her phone out of her purse, studied it as if she’d never seen it before. David stole a glance at her.
“Let him know we’re only ten minutes away.”
Parris smiled at her grandfather’s intuitiveness. She pressed in Nick’s numbers and held her breath as the phone ran on the other end.
Just before the call went to voicemail, Nick came on the line. “Parris?”
“Hi, uh, we’re . . .I’m about ten minutes away. Don’t let the plane take off without me,” she said on a breath of excitement.
“They wouldn’t dare.”
She heard the laughter and relief in his voice and she began to think that just maybe everything would turn out all right.

Parris faced her granddad as they stood in front of his pickup. So many emotions swirled inside her: sadness, possibility, uncertainty, guilt, anticipation.
“I’ll write . . . often,” she promised as he held her close, stroking her back. “And I’ll come to see you as soon as I can.” She looked up into his eyes that held a hundred stories.
He kissed her forehead. “You keep your promise to your grandma, that’s all you got to promise me.” He squeezed her one last time before letting her go. “It’s up to you to make things right, for all of us.”
She frowned in moment of confusion. “What do you mean?”
“You’ll know.” His smile was tender. “Go on now, before you miss your plane and your man.”
Her throat clenched. “I love you granddad.”
“Love you too, sugah. Now go head.”
She reached down for her bag, gave him one last kiss on the cheek and hurried off into the small terminal to find Nick. Once inside the glass doors she took a parting look over her shoulder but David was gone. She drew in a long breath of resolve and hurried through the travelers in search of her future.

Afro-themed image on a magazine cover shocks industry, ignites firestorm - DailyFinance

Afro-themed image on a magazine cover shocks industry, ignites firestorm - DailyFinance

Tuesday, November 17, 2009



What Mother Never Told Me

It took almost ten years for me to get to a place in my career where I could sit down and finish the story of my dreams. That story became WHAT MOTHER NEVER TOLD ME Many of you remember RHYTHMS, well this is the sequel. And the timing for its release could not be more perfect, the 20th anniversary of me being a published author!! How amazing is that? And I owe it all to the incredible readers who have supported me throughout the years. For that I am truly grateful.

It is my prayer that with the release of WHAT MOTHER NEVER TOLD ME, WE can easily put this book into the hands of 20,000 readers across the country. It is a story to be read by any woman who has a daughter, for daughters who want, have or miss the bond with their mothers, it is for mother's to be. It is about family. The power, the love, hurt, betrayal and renewal of family. It's about secrets and the devastating effects they can have for generations.

I look forward to sharing this amazing story with my die-hard readers and new ones. Be sure to click on the link to sign up for information, contests, and discussions specifically for WHAT MOTHER NEVER TOLD ME

And please order your copy early. As always thanks for your support!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Scarpetta Factor

This is what I'm currently reading

The Scarpetta Factor (Kay Scarpetta, #17) The Scarpetta Factor by Patricia Cornwell

so far its solid writing. Cornwell is back to her old style and all of the original players are back in place.

View all my reviews >>

Saturday, October 03, 2009

As usual the Capital Bookfest was a stellar event. Kwame Alexander and his team did a wonderful job. And whoever said folks ain't reading is a liar!! I'm so glad I was able to participate. Will post pictures soon.

Friday, September 11, 2009


When I began writing back in 1987, we were still putting manuscripts in the mail, using floppy disks and responding to fan letters with real live letters, envelopes and stamps! My how far we have come.
I was one of the early dissidents against cell phones. I thought they were the most ridiculous, obnoxious and obtrusive pieces of technology known to man. What in the world could possibly be so important that one must have a conversation walking on the street, in the car or on the bus (the worst)? Flash forward—if I walk out of my house without my IPhone, you can be darn sure I’m going back to get it.
In other words, over time, we’ve all grown accustomed to our love/obsession with being connected—and that one special someone is no longer sufficient—we want to be connected with the universe by every trick of technology possible. And for authors—aspiring or those sunk deep in the trenches—the opportunities to spread the word about your work has multiplied exponentially as the plethora of cyber opportunities has grown, becoming affectionately known as “Social Networking.”
Networking used to be that thing you did after work at the local bar, restaurant, hot spot, and trade gatherings. How many of you remember the glass bowls where you deposited your business cards? Well, now you can network from the privacy of your own home, in jammies and hair curlers, through the magic of Social Networking.
What are social networks anyway? In their infancy social networks were very often simple author loops, where authors from a particular house or specific genre set up a loop where they could email everyone in the group to be kept up to date on trends, gossip and industry happenings, share advice, joys and sorrows.
With the growth and development of YAHOO and its various uses, individuals were able to form YAHOO GROUPS for whatever topic pleased them, build an email list from those who joined the group, and share information between ALL those who held a common interest. MSN has similar “group” capabilities. Both YAHOO and MSN give authors an opportunity to develop a fan base where members join to discuss the author’s, books, characters, ask questions, find out about new releases etc. and most importantly to connect with their favorite author in a matter of seconds.
SHELFARI is a book lovers dream. Members can list their favorite books, build a bookshelf that can be embedded on an author blog or website (showcasing your books of course) and it is also a place to spread the word about your own books and upcoming projects. SHELFARI allows you to build your own network group within the community. A great way to get thousands of people talking about your book.
MYSPACE-the social network giant introduced the world to the art of connecting through cyberspace. Setting up a MYSPACE page is relatively easy. There are templates available and all sorts of links to help get you up and running with a look and feel that represents you. The great part is, nothing is etched in stone. If you don’t like the look you can always change it. Most important it is a way to gain friends and hopefully potential readers. The features of MYSPACE include Blogs, Bulletins, and Notices. There is an address book feature as well as a categories feature (which is extremely helpful in categorizing the people that ask to be your friend—are they already fans, potential readers, book clubs or other authors?) MYSPACE has grown so large that there are MYSPACE pages just for musicians and book lovers.

FACEBOOK—the younger of the social networking giants is truly “everyone friendly.” There is no page building, graphics etc. to contend with to get “a look.” It is a place to get connected with others, share news, talk about yourself and be cheered on by all those who have “become you Facebook friend.” There are a few nice little perks to face book. As an author you can actually set up your own fan page. And as surfers scoot by your page they can become a “fan.” Great way to get announcements out to your FACEBOOK friends about appearances, book release dates, and what you ate for breakfast!

Amazon Connect—power house Amazon has a neat feature for writers. With Amazon Connect, you can have every book that you’ve written “verified” by your editor or your agent. Once the books are verified and you post to the Amazon blog, each and every person who has ever purchased any of the verified books will automatically get an update. What I found out quite by accident is that my own blog feeds OUT to Amazon as well. So all of my blog posts go to every person that has ever purchase any book of mine through Amazon!

NING—is a thing of beauty and my personal favorite. The versatility and ease of use is wonderful. My entire fanclub was built through NING. The features are wonderful from blogs, to chats, groups, and forums, you can add video and audio as well. A great alternative to a static website. With NING you can build your very own network with your own focus and purpose and have a membership base than can continue to grow.

TWITTER—uses SMS technology (Short Messaging System) to keep friends and family updated about every aspect of your life… if you wish. It’s fun and great for hot off the press info sharing. Twitter is rapidly becoming the go-to network outlet for up to the minute information, resources and trends. The downside is that messages must be short.

EZTexting—a nice way of not capturing email addresses but cellphone numbers! This free service allows you to embed the widget into your signature line, website, blog etc. and capture cell phone numbers to all those who sign up. This is an excellent way to remind fans and potential fans in one fell swoop (while you’re on the go) that today is the day that your book drops! Or I’ll be at the local Wal-Mart for my signing at 6. Again, this technology uses SMS so the messages must be short and sweet.

Every day EMAILING is a form of social networking. Use it to the maximum. Be sure in your signature that you include your web address and the link(s) to any social network site that is/are YOURS. i.e.,

Internet Radio is also a form of social networking. On BLOGTALK RADIO for example, you can set up and host your own radio show for free. In addition to mentioning your own books, you can bring on guests that drive listeners to your show and hence find out more information about you. What’s great about BlogTalk is that each show is archived. Listeners who missed a show and always download a missed episode. Your show and what you want to say can be heard by listeners literally around the world. You can embed the widget on your blog, or website so that visitors can sign up for reminders, thus building your listening audience. Listeners can call in and talk to you and your guests. And guests wanting to get on your show to tout their latest offering brings more listeners to your program.

There are many other social networking sites out there. But these are some of the big ones. And they are all FREE. However I must share a few words of caution.

*Every social network site or utility is not for everyone. Choose one that represents who you are and what you can manage.
* Don’t join a group or network simply to toot your own horn. Members really don’t like it. And can smell you coming a mile away. Join a group because you are interested in what the group is interested in, share your interests, what you are doing, and actually make friends. It’s the best way to gain support when that book comes out. The members will feel that they are supporting a member of the “family.”
*Don’t post to the lists that you belong to or the networks that you are in, only about you, or only post when you have a new book. Members will ignore you.
*One great way to drive traffic to your group is to have fun, informative and relevant information that is not necessarily about you.
* If you build a group or a social network that is specific to you and your work, make sure that the members feel that by being a part of it they are getting something that non-members can’t get.
*Don’t start a group, loop, blog, or social network site that you can’t maintain and keep up with.

There is no doubt that in the current economy, and with publishers pulling back on tours, advertising dollars and new contracts, authors have to be creative and pro-active about getting the word out on their books. Becoming social network savvy is and will continue to be for a very long time, the way that authors will connect with their readers. On my fanclub site, for example, I have members from as far away as Dubai to as close as around the corner from where I live. That may have never happened without the advance of social networking.

With all the Tweeting, and Facebooking and Emailing and Blogging it is easy to actually become disconnected as opposed to connected. We all crave that human connection. Don’t get buried so far behind the screen and SMS messaging that you forget the real world. Send a real thank you card to the book clubs that have supported you. Try to get out to a store or two in your travels to meet your fans. And be as nice in person as you are on screen and your fans will follow you anywhere “in the world.”

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Prize of a Lifetime… excerpt

Mitchell flipped on the light as Sasha step fully into the room. She was pleasantly surprised to see that his room was as neat as hers and she wondered if he'd gotten some sage advice from a friend of his as well.

"I can order something from room service if you're hungry or thirsty," Mitchell said. He shrugged out of his jacket and hung on the back of the chair.

"Water is fine. I'm really full after all the food we ate on the ship," she said, stifling a laugh.

Mitchell chuckled in response. "That's true. One thing about going on vacation, you always eat more than you ever possibly could when you're back at home. I found that out the hard way last time I went away."

Sasha strolled fully into the room, walking towards the terrace doors. She slid the door open and stepped outside. She leaned against the balcony. Mitchell stepped out behind her.

"It really is quite beautiful here," Sasha said softly, looking out towards the horizon.

Mitchell moved close to her. There was barely any space separating them. He looked down into her upturned face. "Everything from the flowers to the mountains to the ocean, the sandy beaches, nothing can compare to how beautiful you are Sasha," he said. "And I'm not just saying all those things because I want to make love to you," he admitted.

Sasha could not believe what she'd just heard. He'd actually said he wanted to make love to her. She reached up and stroked his jaw. "Do you really mean that or is it just a line that should hand all of the single island ladies?" There was a hint of mischief in her voice, but her question was sincere.

"I have no reason to lie to you. If there was someone else I wanted to be with, I probably could've done that a long time ago. It's not what I wanted. I know as well as you do, that there was something that sparked between us from the moment we laid eyes on each other. If it's not, tell me and I'll leave it alone. Right now. I'll never bring it up again."

Sasha knew what he was saying without actually coming out and saying the words. He wanted her to admit that she wanted him just as much as he wanted her. "You're right," she said. "I've never felt this way about someone so quickly." She lowered her head for a moment trying to gather her thoughts. She looked up at his into his questioning eyes. "I feel the same way you do. I've wanted you from the moment I saw you, from the moment we started talking, from the moment... you kissed me for the first time." She listened to her confession pour from her lips. She did believe the things that she was saying. What was even more distressing, was she could not believe what she was feeling. Was it possible to actually feel this deeply this quickly about someone she barely knew? Which she wake up tomorrow and regret the decision she was about to make or would she wake up and discover that this is the greatest thing that ever happened to her?

Mitchell watched the array of emotions flit across Sasha face. It was almost as if he were watching his own reflection. He felt the same way, certain and uncertain, yet knowing that there was no turning back and he didn't want to. He threaded his long fingers behind her neck, pulling her closer to him. He lowered his head. His eyes focused on her lips as they slightly parted waiting for him to touch them. Make them his own. He felt her intake of breath as his lips met hers, soft, sweet delectable like the succulent fruits of the Caribbean island.

He took her mouth, slow and easy like the sultry beat of the ocean waves against the shore. He felt his body react to the softness of hers as he pulled her closer.

She stepped up to him, pressing her body flush against his own. Every dip, every curve fit like perfect pieces. Sasha moaned against his mouth, which only incited the desire that he had for her.

She felt his body harden, stiffen, pressing his heat between her warm thighs.

His large hands slid down the curve of her spine, cupping her behind, pulling her closer, locking her against him. He groaned as Sasha lifted her fingers and played with the shell of his ear.

"Sasha," Mitchell moaned against her mouth. "The whole world can see us standing on the balcony." He stroked her hair, ran his finger along the curve of her jaw.

Sasha looked up at him, feeling bold. "I don't care," she said. "Let them look."

Mitchell tossed his head back and laughed. "You never cease to amaze me." He took her hand and stepped back into the safety of the room, shutting the terrace doors behind them. He drew the drapes. "There are some things that I plan to do to you tonight that I don't want anybody to be a witnesses to other than you and I."

Sasha languidly ran her tongue across her lips. She shrugged off the jacket that she wore over her strapless dress and dropped it on the corner of the bed. She leaned down and released the straps from her sandals and stepped out of them.

Mitchell crossed the room turned off the overhead lights and turned on the softer lights that were positioned on the nightstand next to the bed. He extended his hand to her, which she took and he drew her close.

"Are you sure this is what you want to do?" Mitchell asked a final time.

Sasha nodded, uncertain of what she would say if she tried to speak.

The sound of partygoers moved outside their door. Laughter rippled up and down the corridor drawing their attention. For a moment the spell that they cast between themselves was momentarily broken. The noise quieted by degrees, and Sasha and Mitchell returned their attention to each other. He reached behind her and unzipped her dress. She gasped softly, his eyes questioning her, her answering response was an unequivocal, yes.

Sasha worked the buttons of Mitchell's starched white shirt until it was completely undone falling away from the hard lines of his muscular chest. She ran the tips of her nails across the rippled muscles of his six pack. He drew in a short shot breath then eased Sasha dress over the curves of her body until it slipped away and pooled at her feet.

"Oh... my... God," Mitchell uttered, when his gaze fell upon the curves, the softness, the sensuous delight that was Sasha's banging body. He lowered his head and sought her lips.

Sasha's eyes drifted close as she stretched her arms upward and linked her fingers behind the curve of his neck.

His gentle fingers played with her spine, causing shivers to run up and down her body. The hard bulge in his shorts pressed roughly against her and she felt her own desire rise and flow between her thighs.

A quick pop by nimble fingers released her strapless bra. Mitchell pulled it away and tossed it on the floor. He took a step back to take her in and it was a feast.

Her breasts were full, lush and perfect. Her nipples hard and pointed ready to be tasted and he did.

Sasha let out a gasp of delight when Mitchell's hot lips covered her right nipple, gently tugging, laving and sucking on it making her legs tremble in response. He massaged the other running his thumb across the hardened peak. Any thought of doubt or misgiving vanished, replaced with a need so demanding that she was certain if she didn't have him, and soon, she would explode. And she wanted to be sure that the explosion happened with Mitchell buried deep inside of her. She released his belt and zipper. His slacks dropped to his ankles. He kicked them out of the way.

She reached down, slid her hand beneath the band of his shorts and tenderly stroked the length of him, stunned by the silky texture that covered what felt like steel.

Mitchell shuddered. The muscles in his neck tightened like knotted rope. Something deep and dark rumbled in his throat. In a smooth move he reversed their positions until Sasha's back was to the bed. He eased her down.

She lifted her legs onto the bed and slid over to give him room to join her.

For a moment, he stood above her, drinking her in like a man starved for nourishment, before pushing his shorts down over his hips and stepping out of them. Sasha drew in a breath of awe and alarm. Even in the dim light, he looked lethal. She trembled.

Mitchell moved toward her, stretching the length of his body alongside hers. He caressed her face as she turned her head to kiss the inside of his palm.

His hand drifted down, trailing across the rise of her breasts to the hollow of her stomach to the hot darkness nestled between her legs. She jumped ever so slightly when he began patting her there, gently in a teasing rhythms that shortly had her writhing and moaning softly. He pushed away the barely there string of her thong to find her wet and ready.

Instinctively her hips rose as his finger played with the throbbing bud, slid further and up into the slick wetness of her opening.

Sasha gripped the sheets as her body took on a will of its own, moving up and down against the steady stroke of his fingers.

His rhythm built in intensity. Her head spun as an unbearable heat filled her.

"That's it," he cooed, urging her on. "You feel so good," he murmured. He lowered his head and took her breast into his mouth as he continued to finger her.

"Oooooh, God," she cried, as the first spasm was unleashed and roared through her in a wave that curled her toes and separated her from reality. Her chest rose and fell in hard knocks as her orgasm slowly subsided leaving her weak yet wanting even more.

Slowly she opened her eyes and stared into his.

"Ready for me now?" he asked, slowly easing his fingers out.

She whimpered, suddenly feeling empty. Numbly she nodded her head, then reality hit. "Wait," she managed to say. Pulling herself up on her hands and knees she crawled to the edge of the bed and felt her for purse on the floor. She took out two condoms then returned to her spot next to Mitchell.

"Why don't you do the honors?" he said.

With shaky fingers she tore the packet open and removed the thin sheath. Nervously eyeing him she placed the condom on his swollen tip and rolled it down his length.

Mitchell bit down on his bottom lip to keep from groaning out loud. The heat of her hands, the way she subtly jerked him up and down while putting on the condom was nearly his undoing.

He gripped her wrist. "Okay, okay . . . you gotta stop," he said.

Amusement sparkled in her eyes and a sense of power flooded through her that she could make him feel anywhere near as awesome as how he'd made her feel moments ago.

"What would you have me to instead?" she taunted.

"Lay back and open your legs for me. Let me in."

Locking her gaze with his, she did as he asked. He reached around her and snatched a pillow from the head of the bed. "Lift up," he ordered, and slid the pillow beneath her hips.

He moved into a position above her, snug between her parted thighs. He cupped his hands beneath her knees and rose up on his. He pushed her thighs back toward her chest until they were wide, stretched out on either side of his shoulders.

He didn't need a hand to guide him. Like radar he found her opening. That first contact was electric and shot through the both of them. He pressed. The head breached her opening and she gasped, feeling her insides begin to spread as he slowly pushed into to her.

Mitchell lowered his head and kissed her, filling her mouth with his hungry tongue, muffling her moans as he began to move in earnest deep within her.

The nothings that he whispered in her ear were anything but sweet. They were hot, erotic, down right good and freaky. And she gave just as good as she got.

"Like this . . ." she said, thrusting her hips hard against him, causing his eyes to slam shut and an expletive to gush from his mouth.

He opened his eyes and looked down at her, his gaze intense and fierce. "No. More like this," he ground out, cupping her firm behind in his palms and lifting her lower body up and down like she weighed no more than a loaf of bread.

Her head spun. Her fingers dug into his shoulder blades when he hit a spot that had never been reached. She screamed when he tapped his again, and a again, winding his hips, pulling almost all the way out then plunging back in again.

Sasha couldn't catch her breath as the sensuous assault continued and escalated until her entire body was consumed by heat and the tremors began from the balls of her feet, shot down the back of her legs that were pointed toward the ceiling and exploded in the center of her being.

The sound that erupted from the core of her soul, spiraled into the heated air, unfamiliar, raw and ragged as Mitchell moved harder and faster drawing closer to his own desperately needed climax.

Sasha managed to slide her hand down between their thrusting bodies to cup and massage him, while using her internal muscles to squeeze and release his cock, pumping out every drop of his essence.

"Uggggg!" He slammed into her one final time, pushing himself to the hilt, his body stiff and jerky as if electrified before collapsing on top of her.

Their heavy breathing and the thumping beats of their hearts were the only sounds in the room.

Sasha lay beneath him, listening to his heart pound against her chest, mesmerized by what had just transpired. There had not been many men in her life. She could count the one's she'd slept with on less than one hand. But this . . . this thing that happened between her and Mitchell was beyond carnal lust. It was a reckoning. The way he'd made her feel was how they wrote sex scenes in romance novels. Surreal. Impossible. But she'd experienced it. She could testify.

As his erection began to soften it sent another shudder rippling through Sasha, stunning her with the realization that she had anything left. She moaned in need.

Totally in tuned to her body's reaction, Mitchell slowly pulled out, ensuring that the condom was still in tact before bringing Sasha to another spine curling orgasm with his fingers.

Spent and weak they curled against each other and drifted off to sleep only to wake a short time later to begin all over again.

They made love throughout the night, taking short breaks to talk, laugh at what they were doing and replenish their bodies with much needed water.

Just before daybreak, Sasha coaxed Mitchell out onto the terrace and beneath the splash of stars and waning moonlight, with only the ocean as their audience, she leaned over the railing and let him take her.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Sitting in the doctor's office cause I'm sick as a dog. So nurse asks me what's wrong. Mind you my eyes are glassy, I can barely talk, I have tissues plugging my drippy nose and my mouth is hanging open like a rabid dog because I can't breathe.
So I humor the nurse and run down my litany of symptoms to which she brilliantly pronounces "sounds like you're coming down with something ". Duh really.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Brooklyn is Doing the Damned Thing!

On Saturday, August 29, 2009, director, writer, producer, actor and Brooklynite Spike Lee turned Prospect Park on its ear with a blow out block party tribute to "da man" Michael Jackson in recognition of his passing and in celebration in what would have been his 51st birthday. I was honored to have written the proclamation that was presented during the event by the Borough President.

Brooklyn is gearing up to rock again, but on a different note. On Sunday, September 13 from 10am to 6pm Brooklyn hosts its annual Brooklyn Book Festival The festival boasts a stellar lineup, including yours truly and ROCHELLE ALERS on a 3 pm panel on the mainstage dishing on the longevity, power, and passion of the romance novel, why it continues to dominate sales... and what about those sexy, shirtless men? Yes, we'll discuss those to as well as how we got in and have stayed in the business and in print for more than two decades.

Please spread the word and try to join us.

Longing and Lies

Well the wrap up has finally begun. Many of you have been following my Ladies Cartel series, featuring my female butt-kicking, sexy sleuths. I am currently working on the forth and last installment entitled Longing and Lies (not my original title). This time Ashley Temple (who readers met earlier)is in the spotlight paired up with Elliott Morgan(the to die-for undercover agent)to smoke out a baby smuggling ring operating in New York City. The assignment is more than a job for Ashley. It's personal. And the heat gets turned up when Ashley and Elliott for the purposes of their cover have to play husband and wife and live under the same roof. Needless to say, sparks fly. And of course, as with this entire series,nothing is as it seems. I've saved some interesting twists for this one.

If you missed the earlier books, be sure to get your copies:
Sex & Lies
Seduction & Lies
Temptation & Lies

Happy reading

Innervision Books

As we move headlong into a world dominated by technology, my bizness partner, Pittershawn Palmer and I decided we wanted to be part of the new age. With that in mind we launched INNERVISION BOOKS, an e-book publishing company that seeks to fill some of the literary gaps, open the door for new voices, support the veterans and provide readers with hours of enlightenment and entertainment.

We currently have four titles in print (and immediately ready to download to your computer,PDA or e-book reader). For those who have Kindles, although these are not Kindle books, once you download to your computer, you can email the file to your Kindle and read on the go. The same is true of the Sony Reader.

If you have not tried an e-book, now is your chance. We hope that you will support our efforts and the work of our authors so that we can continue to bring more writers and books to the marketplace.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Prize of a Lifetime--Coming to a Store Near You

I'm happy to announce that PRIZE OF A LIFETIME my annual Summer contribution to the Arabesque summer series is primed to hit bookstores on September 29. I know seems like a long time but it's not. This new series is part of the Primetime Passion series that got kicked off with Adrianne Byrd's novel Queen of His Heart (Available Now).

My story puts love to the ultimate test when Sasha Carrington spends two sizzling nights on the romantic island of Antigua with sexy Mitchell Davenport, only for the both of them to shortly realize that they will be competitors on television's newest and hottest reality television show Heartbreak Hotel. The prize of a lifetime is one million dollars and your own hotel!

How will the game play out? Who will win? And when they do will they chose love or money and the dream of a lifetime? Hmm, think you know the answer? It's not as simple as you might imagine.

Be sure to add it to your book list and find out for yourself.

Harlequin has been on a mission to re-issue many of my early Arabesque titles, which give so many readers a chance to get books they may have missed and introduce new readers to my work. So far they have reissued CHARADE, CHANCES ARE, TEMPTATION, A PRIVATE AFFAIR AND PIECES OF DREAMS.

Well,that's it for now. I'll be back to post my upcoming schedule. Heading to Calfornia, Chicago and Maryland in the coming months. Would love to see your friendly faces.

Author Francis Ray Gets Special Honor

Francis Ray Author
Today, Celebrity Bakery and Cafe, a chain restaurant in the Dallas metroplex, honored me and three other women as local heroes. I was honored due to establishing The Turning Point Legal Defense Fund, a fund that assist battered women with their legal expenses. The fund is managed by the Family Place, a local women's shelter in Dallas. A menu item that I selected, Cranberry Chicken Salad will now be Francis Ray's Cranberry Chicken Salad on the menu board. It was a fun event. I was humbled by the honor, and then totally blown away when several fans who were guests of another honoree promptly went to the Borders bookstore next door and purchased books for me to sign. It was an incredible afternoon.

So, if you're in the North Dallas area and want a great lunch with a fabulous dessert, may I suggest Francis Ray's Cranberry Chicken Salad at Celebrity Cafe at 10720 Preston Rd - Suite 1016 - Dallas, TX 75230 -214-373-0783. Please tell them Francis sent you.

Is There a Book Hiding Inside You? - TRCB

Is There a Book Hiding Inside You? - TRCB

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Whew Finally Back

I can't believe it's been a month since I posted. It's not that I didn't have anything to say. It was more that I had so much to do I couldn't get my thoughts together. So here is a brief update:

I finally finished my almost ten years in the making sequel to RHYTHMS. Handed in my final revisions to my editor on May 14! Amen. The title is WHAT MOTHER NEVER TOLD ME. I am so excited about this book for so many reasons. First because I so loved Rhythms. That book allowed me to do things with my writing I have never done before. This sequel gave me the chance to do it again. Hopefully, with age I've gotten better! LOL.

WMNTM will be out in March 2010. It seems like forever but it coincides with another phenomenal event---my 20th year in publishing!!! That is so awesome and I feel totally blessed to still be in print and around to tell the story. That I owe ALL to the readers who have supported me each and every year. I may not be on the New York Times list or USA Today, but I know I am in the hearts of all those readers who like what I do. And I promise to do my best to keep them coming. (Please stay tuned for all kinds of upcoming events heading toward my anniversary)

On another note INNERVISION BOOKS my co-owned e-book publishing company has officially opened its virtual doors! We have 4 launch titles with more on the way. Please visit the site and check us out. Guidelines are available on the site as well.

That's it for now. Working on my next Ladies Cartel book --Scandals and Lies. But I think my editor is trying change the name... sigh...

I'll keep you posted!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Writing Classes


Beginning next Thursday, April 23, I will be conducting a novel writing workshop at the Frederick Douglass Creative Arts Center in New York: Crafting the Novel: From Concept to Publication.

If you are an aspiring writer who has begun a novel and is looking to strengthen the story, characters, dialogue, gain some guidance on structure and editing, then this is the class for you. If you have a story idea, but don't know how to get started, then do join us. The class will meet on Thursdays for 8 weeks. Class size is strictly limited to 10 students.

To register, please call 212 864-3375. Address 270 W. 96th Street. Reserve your seat today.

Crafting the Novel—From Concept to Publication by Donna Hill

This class is for those who have a story concept or draft of their novel and those who wish to flesh out their novel in=2 0progress.

I. Crystallizing Your Novel’s Premise/Theme
What is my novel about? Who is my audience? Developing that 3 sentence pitch.

II. Characters That Live and Breathe
Crafting three-dimensional characters. Developing characters biographies

III. Plot, Pacing and Backstory
How to keep your story moving and readers interested by using a storyboard

IV. Dialogue
Learning the technique of listening to your characters

V. Crafting the Synopsis/Working Outline of Your Novel

VI. Those Daunting First Chapters—Make them Sizzle

VII. Revision & Review

VIII. The Editorial Process, Agents, Conferences, Joining the Literary Community (book groups, online book clubs)

Each class will include worksheets, reading assignments and in-class work assignments.

Thank you and if this is not for you, please feel free to distribute to those who may benefit from the class.


Monday, February 09, 2009

From the Typewriter to the Bookstore

This was shared on a group that I belong to and I had to share it with you all. It is truly funny!! Enjoy the trials and tribulations of publishing

Friday, February 06, 2009

L.A. BANKS Coming Your Way!!

NYT Bestselling Author L.A. Banks,the creator behind the phenomenal Vampire Huntress series is scheduled to be my special guest on Sunday, February 8, 2009 at 6 pm EST on Blogtalk Radio.

L.A.Banks will be discussing her amazing career, her road to sucess and how she manages to "stay in the light" when she writes her dark tales. And of course her upcoming major event in Philly.

Three lucky listeners will win a copy of the soon to be released THE THIRTEENTH, the final book in the Vampire Huntress Series.

So do join us on line in our chat room or call in to speak with L.A. live @ 347 426-3649.

Sunday, February 01, 2009


TEMPTATION AND LIES, the third book in The Ladies Cartel Series hits bookstores nationwide today!

For those who have been following my sexy series, book 3 features Mia Turner, event planner extraordinaire who is given her first Cartel assignment. Unfortunately for Mia, the person under investigation is none-other-than her ex,Michael Burke who is now head of a major management firm, and suspected of being the ring leader behind a high-powered escort service. Mia and Michael had a heated, clandestine love affair, that ended abruptly, with a few loose ends. Now that Mia is back in Michael's life he wants to tie up those ends. But not if Mia's current man Steven has anything to say about it.

Torn between her commitment to The Cartel, her love for Steven and her unresolved feelings for Michael, this case may be bigger than Mia bargained for.

As you all know series books have a short shelf live (2 weeks) so be sure to get your copy soon! I know you will love it!

Other Books in the series

Friday, January 30, 2009

Mary Morrison Joins Me on Blogtalk

Please join me and my co-hosts Debra Owsley, Marc Lacy and Joy as we meet and greet NYT Bestselling Author Mary Morrison aka Honey B on BlogTalking on Sunday with Donna Hill & Friends.

Known for her spicy hot stories, an off the chain website,and true freedom of expression, Mary will talk to us candidly about her career and her alter ego Honey B. Be sure to set your reminders for Sunday, February 1 at 6 pm EST. To call in and speak to Mary dial 347 426-3649 or visit us in the chat room

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Celebrate Black History 365 Days Per Year


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Does Reading Make You a Better Writer?

I recently devoured three books in the past couple of weeks. To voracious readers this may sound like “so what.” But for me, as a writer, finding the time to read is like taking a mini-vacation. And I need to make the most of my time. As a result I have more books in my house than I will ever read (I’m always compelled to buy at least one book everytime I pass a bookstore!–It’s an illness). So when I do get that rare break in my hectic schedule I have to find a book that hooks me from the beginning, that is intriguing, enlightening, and exceptionally written. Needless to say I have tossed many books aside that don’t live up to that criteria.

In any event, I’ve recently read ORANGE MINT AND HONEY by Carleen Brice. A damned good book on all levels and a must read. Then I read SCARPETTA by Patricia Cornwell one of my favorite authors. I followed that up with the master of the short chapters James Patterson’s CROSS COUNTRY. And I just picked up Eric Jerome Dickey's DYING FOR REVENGE, the latest in his Gideon series.

I say all of this to bring me to the point of this post. When we as writers read good work it can only enhance, stimulate and encourage us in our own solitary endeavors. After reading a good book I feel charged and want to up my writing level. Do I? Hmmmm, only a reader will know for sure, but I certainly hope so.

Although my motto is “A writer writes” my other one is, “Any writer worth a damn reads.”

Thursday, January 15, 2009

When Writing is No Longer Fun

When I first started writing back in the early 90's (ouch that sounds so looooong ago), I was totally fascinated by the process, of seeing my ideas unfold on the page, of breathing life into inanimate folks. Over time, when contracts and deadlines continued to loom in front of me, that spontaneity and zest for the written word at times gets sucked out of me.

I never want to be a writer that simply grinds words out on the page. I want to have the time to write the book of my heart, not just the book that will pay the bills. So often I find myself at a crossroad between art and survival. And that's when it stops being fun.

What to do? When moments like that hit me, I think about all the wonderful readers that I have met in person, through snail and email and how much joy the words that I've poured onto the page have given them. And ya know what--it ain't so bad afterall.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

PR Workshop for Writers--Register NOW

PR Workshop Email Announcement:

SELF-PROMOTION: Does the very term make you cringe? Do you suffer from "Not-Doing-Enough-Self-Promotion" guilt? Do you think self-promotion is something you'll have time to learn AFTER getting The Call?

In February, PR consultant Marcia James and over TWENTY promotion-savvy guest lecturers will present "PR Is NOT a Four-Letter Word", a month-long, online workshop that will provide insider tips, hard-won knowledge, and tools to pick the PR options right for YOU.

The speaker fees for this workshop will be donated to Best Friends Animal Society (, which runs the largest no-kill animal shelter in the U.S.

Here's the workshop's topics and presenters:

Introduction & "What's Your PR Personality" Quiz by Marcia James, Berkley/Cerridwen author

Promotion According To Deadlines, Paydays, And The Real World... by Kate Douglas, Kensington author

Promoting Yourself Before "The Call" by Beth Morrow, Wild Rose Press author & workshop presenter

Author Branding by Jenn Stark, Golden Heart winner & workshop presenter

Web Site Design by Karen McCullough, Cerridwen author & Karen's Web Works designer

Chats, Reviews & Banners by Marcia James

Online & Print Press Kits by Patricia Sargeant, Kensington/Berkley author

Introduction To Co-Promotion by Dianne Castell, Kensington, Berkley & Harlequin/Silhouette author

Co-Promotion Through Group Blogs by Donna MacMeans, Berkley author

Cross-Promotion by J.C. Wilder/Dominique Adair, Samhain/Ellora's Cave author

Author Promotion Sites by DeNita Tuttle of

Advertising In RT, RWR, Etc by Janice Maynard, NAL author

Print & Trinket PR Materials by Marcia James

Public Appearances/Public Speaking by Karen Harper, MIRA author

Promoting To Acquaintances by Laurie Kingery, Steeple Hill/Love Inspired author

Networking I: Power-Schmoozing by Susan Gee Heino, Berkley author

Networking II: Mentoring & The Farleyfile by Jennifer Stevenson, Ballantine author

Social Media Sites I: Navigating the Galaxy of Social Networks – Kathy Kulig, Ellora's Cave/Cerridwen Press author

Social Media Sites II -- Social Networking: A Curse or the Great Coming? – Donna Hill, Harlequin author

Author Newsletters by Kay Stockham, Harlequin Superromance/Berkley author

Readers' Loops by Carol Ann Erhardt, Wild Rose Press author

Published Author Contests & You by Jenna Petersen/Jess Michaels, Avon author & workshop presenter

Books, Shelves, and Signings by Linda Keller, RWA Bookseller of the Year & Barnes & Noble CRM

Interviews by Marcia James

Book Videos by Barbara Satow, PPA author & owner of NovelTeaser

Podcasts by Melissa Alvarez w/a Ariana Dupre, Nonfiction/Cerridwen Press author

Thinking Outside The Heart-Shaped Box & Wrap-Up by Marcia James

The workshop is sponsored by the Yosemite Romance Writers (YRW) RWA chapter, and registration information can be found at their site: The fee is $25 for non-YRW members, and the deadline for registration is 2/1/09.

"PR Is NOT a Four-Letter Word" is a fun, informal workshop, and attendees are encouraged to print out the lectures for a binder of PR tips. In addition, Marcia James offers a 200-page Microsoft WORD file, filled with detailed information on all types of promotional options, to all attendees.

Published and aspiring authors: Learn to love (okay, LIKE) self-promotion. ;-) And banish the guilt of not doing enough PR. Join us online in February! See you there!

Tuesday's Tip

Every writer whether seasoned or a newbie can use a little help in sharpening their skills. Frederick Douglas Creative Arts Center (in New York) is gearing up for the Winter Classes. Check them out below:

Saturday, January 17
3:00 to 6:00pm
Winter '09 Open House
An opportunity to learn more about the 8-week workshops and classes being offered this winter beginning the week of January 26th and meet some of the instructors.
more info at

Thursday, January 29
7:00 pm - 9:00pm
Crafting the Novel-From Concept to Publication by Donna Hill
This class is for those who have a story concept or draft of their novel and those who wish to flesh out their novel in progress. Made possible in part by support from NYSCA/Literature.

Wednesday, January 21st
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Free Staged Reading of seed By Radha Blank Directed by Niegel Smith at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture located at 135th Street and Malcolm X Boulevard.

More Info at
Monday, January 26
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Writing and Re-Writing the Novel
Led by the award winning author Grace Edwards
An emphasis in this class on those who have already their first draft but also open to those looking to get started. Sponsored in part by NYSCA/ Literature Grant.

Monday, February 2
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Advanced Acting Workshop
Led by the award winning director/co-founder of the Classical Theatre of Harlem
Alfred Preisser. Monologue, scene study, and audition technique. Includes play and character analysis, and uses of improvisation and theatre games to explore character and encourage creative freedom.This workshop is sponsored in part by funding from NYSCA/Special Arts Services.

Monday, January 26
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Writing for Daytime Television
Sojourna Collier
A workshop for those interested in drafting a daytime television pilot or with an interest in learning to write for that field. This workshop is made possible in part by support from NYSCA/Electronic Media and Film.

Monday, January 26
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Advanced Playwriting
Leslie Lee
A workshop directed to those who have at least begun the first draft of their play or have a good idea of what they want to write and have finished a draft of a play previously. This class is supported in part by funding from NYSCA/Special Arts Services.

Tuesday, January 27
7:00 - 9:00 pm
Creative Writing
Sherée R. Thomas
Prize-Winning author and editor and also former FDCAC student, Ms. Thomas takes the class through a selection of writing exercises that include the short story and non-fiction essays, with an eye to assisting in the process of selecting the style of writing most appropriate for the individual students goals. This workshop is sponsored in part by support from NYSCA/Literature.

Tuesday, January 27
7:00 - 9:00 pm
Short Story
Nathasha Brooks-Harris
A workshop involved in not only writing and polishing your short stories, but also in offering guidance in where and how to get your stories published. This workshop is sponsored in part by support from NYSCA/Literature.

Tuesday, February 3
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Shakespeare Performance Workshop
Led by the award winning director/co-founder of the Classical Theatre of Harlem
Alfred Preisser. An intensive class dealing with Shakespearean text from the actor's viewpoint. Introduction to scansion and script analysis, the style and form of Elizabethan Theatre, and in-depth scene and monologue work.This workshop is sponsored in part by funding from NYSCA/Special Arts Services.

Tuesday, January 27
7:00 - 9:00 pm
Childrens Books
Laura Pegram
This fiction workshop AND craft class includes a close reading of excerpts from diverse voices within the genre (e.g., Angela Johnson, Cristina Garcia, Sherman Alexie, Christopher Paul Curtis, Karen Hesse, etc.), as well as a structured written commentary. Emerging writers at all levels will learn to develop their craft and the language of critique during this intensive workshop. This workshop is sponsored in part by support from NYSCA/Literature.
Tuesday, January 27
7:00 - 9:00 pm
Acting Jacqueline Wade
A workshop for all levels of actors. Sponsored in part by support from NYSCA/Special Arts Services.

Tuesday, January 27 (tentatively scheduled)
7:00 pm - 9:00pm
Fusion Film Writing
Alan Zatkow
In this workshop for which the Screen 1 workshop is a prerequisite, the class will work on reworking their film scripts, and get an understanding of how the industry works. This workshop is made possible in part by support from NYSCA/Electronic Media and Film.

Wednesday, January 28
7:00 - 9:00 pm
Jacqueline Johnson
A workshop devoted to the structure and creation of the poem with insight on where and how to get published. Made possible in part by support from NYSCA/Literature.

Wednesday, January 28
7:00 pm - 9:00pm
Alan Zatkow
In this workshop the class will begin the first draft of their screenplay getting feedback from both the class and the instructor with insights into what to do once the screenplay is completed. This workshop is made possible in part by support from NYSCA/Electronic Media and Film.

Wednesday, January 28
7:00 pm - 9:00pm
Beginning Playwriting
Sophia Romma
In this workshop the class will begin the first draft of their play getting feedback from both the class and the instructor. There will also be discussions of individual goals for the completed works. Sponsored in part by support from NYSCA/Special Arts Services.

Wednesday, January 28
7:00 pm - 9:00pm

Literary Non-Fiction/Memoir
Michel Marriott
In this workshop the class will explore all forms of non-fiction writing, including journalism. Sponsored in part by support from NYSCA/Literature.

Wednesday, January 28
7:00 pm - 9:00pm

Beginning your Novel
Jaira Placide
In this workshop the class will begin the process of taking that idea for a novel and transfer it onto the page. Sponsored in part by support from NYSCA/Literature.

Thursday, February 5
6:00 pm - 8:00pm
Led by the award winning director/co-founder of the Classical Theatre of Harlem
Alfred Preisser. An introduction to the role of the director in creating work for the stage. Covers choice and analysis of play, working with the actor to shape a performance, use of physical elements (scenic, costume, music) to strengthen interpretation and expression of the "director's voice". Sponsored in part by support from NYSCA/Special Arts Services.

Thursday, January 29
7:00 pm - 9:00pm
Advanced Screenwriting
Myla Churchill
In this workshop the class will edit their screenplay, getting feedback from both the class and the instructor with insights into what to do to improve their work. Sponsored in part by support from NYSCA/Special Arts Services.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Sor Mag Interviews Donna (Me)

LaShaunda Hoffman of was kind enough to want to interview me for her Featured Author Blog. So here is what I had to say. Hope you enjoy. And be sure to support SORMAG and LaShaunda as she supports us!!

Seduction and Lies

In Book 2 of The Ladies Cartel Series, Danielle Holloway is the newest member of the group. Her first assignment: infiltrate a ring of identity-theft criminals. With cool wit and seductive charm, Danielle uses her skills to piece together the clues, and she's shocked to discover that a cloud of guilt hover over her beau, the very sexy and charismatic Nick Mateo. Listen to an excerpt

What would you like readers to take away from your book?

I would hope that readers come away with the notion that in order to love anyone else and give yourself to them completely, you must love yourself first and foremost. Often to do that, it requires looking at places inside of yourself that you don't want to see and come to terms with them.

What is your favorite scene from your book?

The last scene, which I cannot, of course, reveal!

What did you learn while writing this book?

That writing a romance is still hard work!

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?
I wish that they would understand that writing is like any other craft, it takes practice and patience. You have to study and you have to read.

What is the best lesson you have learned from another writer?

I learned from Sandra Kitt years ago that editing isn't as awful as you think and it makes for a better book.

What is the toughest test you've faced as a writer?

Making the transition from a romance author to a mainstream fiction author and having reviewers and readers accept that I could write other types of books.

How long does a novel typically take for you to complete?

Usually about 3 months. That's once I actually start writing and all of the pre-work has been completed.

What is something readers would be surprised you do?

My own laundry! LOL

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

Find a way to maintain and store the tons of reader addresses I'd gathered over the years. Invest my writing money wisely. Checked my earlier contracts for those movie rights.

How do you reach new readers?

Well, now it 's much easier than years ago with the internet. I use my blog, myspace, website and fanclub site. I do a newsletter, as well as virtual book tours. And I have my own weekly internet radio show on Sunday evenings. I'm on Facebook and I "Twitter" as well. LOL

If you could have dinner with 3 authors to talk with about their writing (living or deceased) who would you invite and why?

James Baldwin. I would want to ask him to what place did he go inside himself to bring his stories and characters to life. James Patterson. I want to sit down and pick his brain on marketing. He is a whiz. Toni Morrison. I'd really like her to tell me how she is able to use words the way she does.

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

Do your research and reading if you want to be a good writer. Don't think that a publisher or a publicist can make you famous!

Our theme for this month is Family Literacy, what do you do to promote literacy in your family?

Short of hitting my sixteen year old son overt the head with a book to get him to read.... I try to always keep plenty of books and magazines around, invite my kids to events, keep them abreast of what I'm doing. Hopefully it will encourage them to believe that this reading and writing thing is worthwhile. My son seems to be interested in the electronic readers and even said he "might" be more interested in reading if he had one. So, guess what his Xmas present is going to be!

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

My email is,,,

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

Anyone who picks up a copy of Seduction and Lies, available now... will get the first three chapters of Temptation and Lies in the back! Temptation and Lies hits bookstores in February 09.