Sunday, March 28, 2010

Intimate Mondays with Author JD Mason

JD thanks so much for visiting my blog. Let's get started.

Q. Tell us a little bit about the day in the life of a full time writer?

A. Honestly, it depends on which day you're talking about. LOL Beng a full time writer is challenging, and not as glamorous as I thought it would be. It's taken me a long time to realize that I have to get up every morning and approach each work day as I would any job. If I can put in 8 hours a day at a 9-5, then I've need to be as dedicated to putting forth that same kind of work ethic towards being a writer. I have the luxury of being able to pick and choose how and when I put in my hours, but I am more disciplined now, and more committed to working a more regular schedule, and it actually helps me to keep the creative juices flowing. When I take too much time off from writing, I find that it's harder to get started again on a new project.
Typically, though, I get up in the morning and after dropping the kid off at school, I come home, make breakfast, check email, play around on facebook, and by 9 or 9:30, I commit to working on my novels.

Q. You currently live in Colorado. How is the literary environment/community there? what are some of the outlets that authors and readers have?

A. It's a bit more challenging here, for black writers in particular, just because there is no central hub like there used to be when The HueMan bookstore was here. Bookclubs are pretty plentiful, though, and always welcoming and eager to talk about your book, feed you, and fill you up with cocktails.
I am a member of a group of ladies who host an event every year called Valentine's Day For Me (, and we try in bring in an author every year around Valentine's Day. This year, we hosted Earl Sewell. In the past, we've hosted Marc Lacy, Victor McGlothin, myself, Brenda Thomas, and others.

Q. Your debut novel On the Eighth Day She Rested, was originally self-published. What are the pros and cons of self-publishing and would you consider self-publishing in the future?

A. Self publishing is always an option for me, even though, I didn't prove to be very good at it in the past. But it's something I am happy to have experienced. It gave me insight into the publishing industry from every aspect, which I appreciate. It was hard trying to wear all the hats, though; publisher, publicist, distributor, bookkeeping, collections. Having a publisher handle the majority of those things for me, allows me to focus more on just the writing aspect, which, as it turns out, happens to be my favorite part.

Q. You have been around for a little while now. Do you still recall that moment when you knew your book was going to be published by St Martins Press?

A. Actually, the most exciting moment in my career was when the woman who is now my agent, told me that she loved reading my book (8th Day) and that it made her cry, and that she'd love to represent me. That was more exciting than getting the book published by St. Martin's, and I honestly don't know why.

Q. Of all the characters you have written which one stands out most and why do you think that is?

A. It would probably have to be Roberta from the Black King books (John King is a close second). And I think it's because her story was so compelling to me. I've asked myself several times; is Roberta crazy or just evil? I think it's a little of both. I loved exploring her childhood which held some of the triggers to her behavior later in life. Things like the time her mother left her alone when she was six with the dead man lying in her mother's bed, to her obsession for Charles Brooks and the terrible things she was willing to do to keep him (attempting to kill his son, Adam), her passion for what she loved ran dangerously deep, and because of that, I found her fascinating.

Q. Several of your books have recurring characters. Remind us which ones and was that intentional or the demand of readers?

A. One Day I Saw A Black King, Don't Want No Sugar, You Gotta Sin To Get Saved, and the upcoming Somebody Pick Up My Pieces (scheduled for release 2011), were all books with recurring characters, and that was due to readers. They loved these characters, and so, without really intending too, I ended up with a series.

Q. Your latest novel Take Your Pleasure Where You Find It, tell us about it.

A. It's the story of three women who were best friends in high school until a terrible secret tore their friendship apart. That secret turns out to be a woman named Tasha Darden, who is convinced that one of them gave birth to her and abandoned her in a hospital emergency room. The book delves into the lives of the three women, in particular, and how each of them has spent the last three decades living with the guilt, or avoiding it all together,
of what happened the night one of them gave birth to that child. It's not until the very end that you find out who the mother is (unless you're just brilliant and figure it out before that).

Q. What other writing avenues are you currently exploring?

I'm starting a new series surrounding a prominent and influential black family (the Gatewoods) that I'm really excited about. I'm working on editing my first science fiction novel, which will be written under a nom de plume, and I'm still not sure if I'll be able to share the new name with readers yet. And I've been toying around with writing a YA science fiction novel, which I'd like to see turned into a series.

I've had several production companies express interest in securing the film rights for Take Your Pleasure Where You Find It, and hopefully, one of them will bite.

Q. What is the most challenging aspect of being a writer?

A. I'd have to say writing. I wish I could write faster, because the ideas come so quickly. But also, this business definitely can test a creative person's resolve. On the one hand, seeing my books in print is amazing, and having readers say that they love them is even more amazing. On the other hand, though, it's not easy making a living at writing. If you're an aspiring writer, or even a published one, and someone tells you not to quit the day job, take that to heart, because it's definitely advice given out of love.

Q. What is your opinion about the big move toward digital publishing i.e., e-books?

A. The times, they are a changing. And it only makes sense. I haven't gone the e-book route yet, but I suspect that eventually I will. I love book, the paper, the glue, being able to hold it in my hands...but this business is being dragged, kicking and screaming, into the digital age, which is as it should be. I think publishers are behind the 8-ball, though, and should've started putting more attention into the digital future of books a long time ago, though. Now, I think they're scrambling to make it work. They'll figure it out, eventually.

Q. Are your books available in e-book form?>
A. My last 4 novels have been published in e-book format; You Gotta Sin To Get Saved, This Fire Down In My Soul, That Devil's No Friend of Mine, and Take Your Pleasure Where You Find It.

Q. What project are you currently working on and when can readers expect to see it in stores?

A. I'm working on a novel called Beautiful, Dirty, Rich, which will be the first book in a new series and it should be out at the end of 2011 or early 2012. And I'm waiting to hear back from Simon & Schuster about a collaborative effort I proposed to them at the end of last year. This book will be one story written by me, and two other authors. Each of us will write a portion of the story. The last I heard, S&S was really excited about it, so hopefully they'll come through with an offer soon.

Q. Will you be touring or doing any signings for Take Your Pleasure Where You Find It?

A. I'll be attending the National Book Club Conference in Atlanta for the first time in my life this year, which I am really excited about. I'm also attending the Fall Into Books conference in Kansas City and the UCAAB conference in Los Angeles, both in September.

Q. How can readers find out more about J.D. Mason?

A. They can visit my website at, or email me at

Thank you J.D. and continued success!
On Saturday March 28 I had the honor and pleasure of meeting and shaking the hand of of one our literary legends Ms. Toni Morrison. The event was the 10th National Black Writers Conference in New York. I truly felt that I was in the presence of literary royalty. What a humbling experience. And it made me remember why I do what I do. And that I must do my best and write my stories no matter what.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Intimate Mondays with Author A.C. Arthur

Q. How long have you been in the publishing game and how many books have you had published to date?

I’ve been published since 2003. September 2010 will see my 20th published book.

Q. Of all the sexy characters that you have created so far, who is the top male contender and top female and why?

Wow, this is tough. Hmmmm, I’d have to say Thaddeus Delos from Heart of the Phoenix because not only was he scrumptiously sexy, he was actually a Greek god, complete with powers and a sense of chivalry to be admired in today’s world. As for the heroine, I’d have to go with Cienna Turner from Office Policy. Cienna is every woman: independent, strong, intelligent and no-nonsense.

Q. So many readers confuse a romance novel with a relationship novel. Please explain the difference.

For me I think the main difference between a romance and relationship novels is that a romance has a happy ending. Sure the characters go through their ups and downs but you know that in the end they come to a compromise because love is the driving force in these stories. Relationship novels take everything—the good, the bad and the ugly—and whatever the results they are dealt with accordingly.

Q. One of the biggest events for African American romance authors is the Annual Romance Slam Jam. I understand it is coming you way next year. Can you tell the readers a little bit about it and what your involvement is?

Yes, it is! I’m very excited about Romance Slam Jam coming to my hometown of Baltimore, Maryland. Working with the Sweet Soul Sisters Bookclub we’re trying to come up with innovative and entertaining ways to celebrate this annual meeting of black romance writers and readers. Hope to see you all there! Please stay tuned to

Q. For years you have been known for your romances. This year you have taken a leap into a completely new direction with a YA series. Please tell us about that. How you got the idea. The first title. When the series will begin and why in the world YA! LOL.

It’s funny because for the past couple of years I was adamant that I was not going to write a YA novel. But I firmly believe in signs. (1) My little cousin who was fourteen at the time said to me “can you write a story for kids my age?” (2) One of my youth ushers commented one Sunday, “You know, you should write a book for young adults.” (3) My Bishop’s wife said to me one day, “You would write excellent stories for our children.” (4) My fifteen year old daughter said, “Mommy, can you write a young adult book?” After all that I figured somebody was trying to tell me something. LOL

I really didn’t know what I wanted to write about. I just knew I wanted to tell a story that would relate to young adults and the types of issues they face today. Of course, I wanted to add the spin of a paranormal world, but at the heart of it all, I wanted a story for teenagers to take something from. So I turned to my daughter who reads everything young adult and some adult stuff that she probably shouldn’t. I tossed out ideas, she slammed a few and said to keep the others. The Mystyx were created from a Saturday morning brainstorming session over Raisin Bran and leftover pizza(my daughter’s breakfast of champions). The first book in the series is titled Manifest and will be released August 2010 from Kimani TRU.

Q. How difficult was it to try to write for YA? Where did you pull from to craft the young adult voices?

I did a lot of plotting and planning before I wrote the first chapters. Then as I started to write I kept deleting stuff because I thought it sounded too mature. After a few tries I began listening to my daughter’s conversations with her friends. I watched shows on the Disney Channel and Nick Teen to get a real feel for the lingo. It was amazing how foreign it all felt to me at first. After that I read tons of YA books. I read the reviews for these books as well because I wanted to know what was working for the audience and what wasn’t.

Q. What are some of the promotional plans for the new YA series?

I will be heading out to promote directly to the young adult audience via libraries and schools. I’ll also be appearing at BEA and ALA. A lot of efforts are being concentrated online as well, including a book trailer that will be debuting soon!

Q. Will you continue to write romances? And do you think that it will confuse young readers when they are in bookstores and see your name on a book with a half-naked man on the cover?

Yes, I will always be a romance junkie so those stories will most likely keep coming. For the YA I used my full name, Artist Arthur, so that young readers would not instantly pick up an A.C. Arthur book. However, I’ve learned not to take young people’s intelligence for granted and know that realistically they may make the connection. In fact, I had a fourteen year old email me just last week about reading one of my romance novels. But in the stores the two different genres are shelved separately so that, along with the pen name, should help differentiate.

Q. What advice would you offer to writers who may be considering writing for the blooming YA market, especially African American YAs?

Think about the young readers first, what they want to hear, what stories they want told. Don’t just tell an adult story with younger characters.

Q. What's next for you?

Another book and prayerfully another and another.  I just love to write. I’m currently working on a new YA series and a spinoff of one of my popular romance series.

Q. How is it for you managing a family and a full-time career?

Tiresome. LOL
It’s all about prioritizing and organization. I’m blessed to have wonderful supporters who allow me to be me, with all my quirks and issues. That helps a lot.

Q. Where can readers go to get to know you better?

Visit the websites

For romance novels,
For YA novels,

Friend me on Facebook

Follow me on Twitter

Monday, March 15, 2010

What Mother Never Told Me Now Available in Hardcover


Romance Readers Connection Review


Donna Hill
Kimani Press
ISBN-13: 978-0-373-83143-2
March 2009
Women Fiction- Multicultural

This story introduces three women that have more in common than they think. Each woman has challenges and struggles with their mothers that cause them to suffer from heartbreak. The first woman Parris McKay has lived her entire life believing that her mother was dead and all she had was the love of her grandmother. She never thought that the woman who loved her like her own would hold a secret concerning something as special to her as having the chance to know the woman that gave birth to her. But just before her grandmother left this earth she not only told Parris the truth, but unlocked the door that would lead her to the one woman who held the answers to her past and the secrets that would change her life forever. But upon her journey to the truth Parris finds out that the mother she believed had died years ago, had really buried her past in the past as she turned away her only child once again.

Next there is Celeste, born with a silver spoon in her mouth and the world at her feet. She had everything materialistic that a person could dream of ever having. But the one thing she wanted more than anything else was love. She craved for the love of her mother and the love of a man. What she got was a mother concerned with appearances and a man that her mother liked and one that she had no feelings for. She’s been living a lie and is happy to do so, until Sam enters the picture. Sam makes her feel like a real woman for the first time in her life. There’s just one problem, he’s African American and doesn’t match the family picture her mother has painted for her.

Then there’s Leslie. She has her career as an interior decorator and the responsibility of caring for her sick mother. She doesn’t know who her father is and she blames herself for the condition that her mother is in after they have a fatal argument. Her comfort is food and her dreams are of a time when her mother’s friend Uncle Frank made her have feelings that she only wished she could have today. As an adult she knows that what happened to her was wrong, but when you don’t have anyone else to love you even those memories are better than the loneness she feels today.

As these three women each struggle with the drama in their life, they build a friendship that gives them the courage to take the next steps necessary to find peace of mind. Walls are torn down as Parris, Celeste, and Leslie decide what’s important and how to cope with the secrets and lies that have kept them from being all they could be. And just when you think they have overcome all the obstacles in their path, Ms. Hill throws in another scenario that makes you want to scream. What a great way to start your year, with a great book that opens your eyes to the reality of what secrets really mean when they are finally revealed.

Reviewed by Lora McDonald

Rating 4 1/2
Romance Readers Connection

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Donna Hill Online: My Interview with author Precious Williams

Donna Hill Online: My Interview with author Precious Williams

My Interview with author Precious Williams

The Internet is a wonderful thing. It was through the internet that I met Precious Williams and learned of her amazing novel. I wanted to share her and her wonderful story with you all. Enjoy!

Tell us about the memoir “Precious” and why you decided to write it

“Precious” is the story of my childhood, from birth to early womanhood. I was born in London, in the 1970s, to a Nigerian mother and a father from Sierra Leone. As soon as I was born, my mother advertised me in a UK childcare magazine called ‘Nursery World.’ The ad simply invited somebody, anybody – to take me in, because my mother had decided not to raise me herself. My mother was offering to pay the respondent a weekly cash amount. And thus I ended up living in an all-white rural town in southern England, with an elderly white lady who was an enormous fan of the novel ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ and wanted a ‘Topsy’ of her own. In this new home I was nicknamed “Nin” – short for ‘Pickaninny.’ I remained there until I was 18. My father soon vanished completely and my mother visited me only sporadically.

For years I was deeply ashamed of my history. I blamed myself for my mother’s lack of interest in my welfare and I felt a strong sense of humiliation and worthlessness. Once I’d come of age, gone to university and begun to make a career for myself as a journalist, I stopped admitting to anybody that I was once advertised in a magazine and given away to a stranger. I couldn’t bear the thought of anybody else knowing how little regard my own mother seemed to have for me. And so it seems ironic that I’ve now written an entire book about my childhood.

I actually started out wanting to write a novel. I’ve been involved in writing ever since I was old enough to pick up a pen. I won my first writing competition aged around eight. So my goal from childhood was to become an author. Instead I ended up as a journalist, interviewing celebrities for magazines like Elle and Marie Claire. It was while interviewing Mary J Blige several years ago, for Cosmopolitan, that I realised I should write the story of my own life. Mary was in a really amazing place in her life – she’d just gotten engaged to her now-husband, Kendu and she was open, grounded and on a very positive path. During the interview she told me about the sexual abuse she’d suffered as a child and about how she’d moved on to forgive everybody involved and healed her life. Sexual abuse was something I’d been subjected to as a young child, by third-parties outside my foster family and birth family. While Mary was talking about her own ordeal in a poised, calm way I realised that I still felt bitter, angry and hurt inside. By sharing her story with me, Mary really started making me feel that I wasn’t alone in this and that there was hope. After spending that time with her I began to realise that perhaps in working through my own history and putting my story out there, I could, in some small way, help others. If only by enabling them to think “So this happened to someone else too –I’m not alone.”

How has writing your story changed you?

I really, really know myself now! Before I began delving into my past I think I had a fairly superficial knowledge of myself. I’d been so keen to ignore all the painful moments in my history that I didn’t really have much of a clue anymore about who I was, where I’d been and what that meant. Researching and writing the book forced me to really look at it all. And looking at it all was not easy. I had two nervous breakdowns during the process of researching the book! But I feel twice as strong now as I did before.

What has been the response so far?

There’s been a huge amount of interest in my story so far. From the 1960s until the present day there’ve been a large number of Black British children ‘privately fostered’, as I was, in white homes, completely isolated from black communities. Some of these children grow up to be so traumatised that they try to lighten their skin with household bleach. As a child I would scream with fear on the rare occasion I encountered a fellow black person. I had no idea that I was black and the self-hate I had to wrestle with as a child was just overwhelming. It’s a sort of dirty little post-colonial secret and few people talk about it – until now!

Why are there two different versions of your book cover and did you have any say so in it?

I think it’s quite common for a book to have different covers in different territories. I simply feel relieved that both covers are gorgeous! In both cases, JPEGs of the covers were sent to me for my approval and fortunately I thought they were both fabulous. My book also has two different titles. In the UK it is called “Precious” and in the US and Canada it is called “Color Blind.”

Will you be touring with the book?

I definitely plan to and will keep you posted.

How long did the process of writing Precious take?

It took me about a year to write the book but a good five years on top of that to carry out all the research. My research included interviewing family members and digging out hundreds of pages of childhood reports and medical records. Along the way I became increasingly traumatised by the information I was uncovering and I had to keep taking breaks from it all to try to avoid getting overwhelmed.

Has there been any confusion between your book and the movie Precious (based on Sapphire’s novel Push)?

I got my book deal for ‘Precious’ several years ago, way before the movie came out. I read ‘Push’ when it was first published in 1999 and I’m a huge fan of that book and its author. I was thrilled to learn ‘Push’ was being made into a movie but slightly taken aback to then read that the title was being changed to ‘Precious.’ I did receive a strange but sweet email from someone who’d seen the movie and was now congratulating me on my performance on the silver screen– the person seemed to think that I was actually Gabourey Sidibe, the actress. Also, there was an article in the Sunday Times in London recently about the movie ‘Precious’ where the write referred to the protagonist in the movie as ‘Precious Williams’ when really her name is ‘Claireece Precious Jones.’

What is life for you like outside of writing?

I’m studying part-time for an MA in Creative Writing right now and I’m also working on an original TV script and on my second book – a novel. I am an enormous fan of yoga. Aside from that, I spend an enormous amount of time reading and when I can, I enjoy traveling.

Tell us your website and how can contact you and get copies of your book

I have a website at Preciouswilliams and I can be reached through or by email at precious at preciouswilliams dot net. The book’s available for pre-order at, Barnes & and and will also be in all major bookstores upon release in August. I’d love you to drop me a line and let me know what you think of it!

Publication date

Precious is being published in the US and Canada on 3rd August 2010, by Bloomsbury and in the UK on 2nd August 2010, also by Bloomsbury.