Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My Interview with Enterpreneur Sylvia Hubbard

I had an opportunity to chat with Sylvia Hubbard and this very busy techno dynamo let me steal a few minutes of her time to pick her brain. She has some great things to share.

Sylvia, you are a one-woman marketing machine who has really found her niche in using technology. Please tell us what started you on that path?

Being broke.

In 2000, I was frustrated after I independently published my first book because I couldn't afford to pay for marketing & promotions, much less even buy my own books to sell. Back then (which seems strange to say just eleven years ago) e-books weren't popular, but I learned how to sell them because that was all I could sell.

You are involved in several literary promotion endeavors as well as running your own publishing line--Hub Books. It can't be easy to keep everything under control. How did you get Hub Books up and active?

I registered HubBooks initially for Motown Writers Network. I wanted a Literary Organization as a subsidy of my "Company." Plus once I heard someone say a long time ago it would get me better speaking engagements if I had a company instead of them writing checks to me. (That didn't work). In 2004, when no speaking engagements jumped off, I decided to take the step and publish my own book under HubBooks.

What programs do you use to upload your e-books?

Currently, I use Word to upload my books. I learned InDesign a long time ago, but I'm so comfortable with anything Microsoft (because I'm a PC girl) that I've always started my work there. I’m certified in Microsoft Word as well and I used to teach it at several community centers and a college. As the digital age progress and books become more artistically digitally, I'll start transferring books from Word to PDF to change them into mobi and epub files through Calibre Software which is FREE. (My favorite word)

You are a constant blogger. Do you plan your blogging in advance and how do you come up with interesting content?

I own over five blogs (six come 2012). The planned blogs are usually series of blogs (live stories, series or ongoing topics), but most times when I get the urge to write, I write and then post up for later. By the way, I'm always looking for guest blogs on the various blogs I have.

You tweet as well. When you began tweeting, what was your focus? What did you hope to achieve and do you think you have?

At almost 30K tweets in less than three years, I would say I'm a pretty avid tweeter. In any endeavor I do, my focus is to take what a service or network does and make myself noticed, so I can sell a book. Twitter is a fast moving, lots of taking large room of people networking, sharing and doing. If you're standing still on Twitter, you could miss the best FREE marketing tool ever invented. So in my three years have I accomplished what I wanted to on Twitter? I believe I have come close as possible to my goal. At over 3700 true followers (no autoboting spammers), I can say I have people who like what I do on Twitter.

Since you published your first book how has the marketing books changed?

Back in the day (just ten years ago), it was all about pushing people to buy the book. Now, as Scott Straten calls it, marketing is about "unmarketing." Now you have to sell yourself in order to sell the book, plus also continually engage those customers who have bought from you to get them to draw other readers to you. It sounds like a complicated style of word of mouth marketing.

What are some tips that you can offer authors and business folks on how to maximize technology?

First tip: USE IT! Don't just jump on a technolgy bandwagon by signing up to things you see your "friends" sign up to. See how it's utilized by them or other authors before signing up. I hate going to accounts of people who signed up for something and it looks like a tumbleweed rolled across my screen. You want to be where you say you are going to be by having each account you have open updated.

Second: Don't stretch yourself too thin. Utilize services such as, Hootsuite, SocialOomph, and even Bufferapp to give yourself great mobile apps, reminder campaigns and space out information so you aren't overwhelming your followers & friends.

Third: While having a website or blog (CMS), visit other blogs, social network pages and retweet others to show you support your genre and platform. Article market and guest blog so let others know about you but also present great content for people to read other than your books.

Fourth: Content is King, but Quality is Queen. Bring your best to others. Make sure you are blogging at least once a week and sharing information about your literary world with your readers and other followers.

Fifth: Help someone else. Do something for them online that they couldn't do for themselves. Send out a tweet of theirs, host them on your blog, and invite others to "like" their page. Be an asset to the World Wide Web, otherwise you're just a liability.

Please tell us about the Michigan Literary Network, of which you are the founder.

I realized in 2009, Motown Writers Network was getting a lot of writers, but I wanted more readers. Mainly my market has always been Michigan, but I needed someway to get readers to see the asset Motown Writers Network was. So I created The Michigan Literary Network. Under this subsidy, we join readers, bookclubs, libraries and even literacy groups together to connect readers to Michigan Authors and to also raise literacy rates in Metro Detroit.

What are you currently working on?

EVERYTHING. Lol. I'm doing a live book on my site. It's where I come up with a book from the top of my head and just write. Readers can come and read the book live and make comments, criticisms and so forth. It's called The Revenge of Three.

I'm also working on producing a paperback to be release the first of 2012 called Hope Is Love. It's an ebook exclusively available on my website in pdf, mobi & epub & the exclusive paperback version will be available everywhere in January of 2012. The paperback cover will actually debut the Christmas week for my readers and I’m too excited about! I'm always looking for reviewers and book clubs to host me, so please contact me at to arrange this.

Where can readers find out more about you and your work?

Of course at my website, Related websites are:


They can also connect with me on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter & Goodreads.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Who Moved My Budweiser

My take on the changing neighborhood

Fort Green aka The Fort, was the first to fall about a decade and a half ago. The once notoriously deadly enclave—at least to those who didn’t live there—is now the hip, swanky hub of buppie Brooklyn. The streets are lined with cafes, boutiques, bistros, wine bars and yogurt establishments. The former don’t-you-go-in-there Fort Green park, where many-a-body and shootout have gone down is now a pristine locale for joggers, picnicers, and doggie walkers.

With The Fort converted into Brooklyn’s version of The Village in Manhattan, black folk had a non-verbal understanding that Bedford-Stuyvesant was our last stronghold in the hood, the last stand. Our history of drugs and violence was so pervasive that not even the bravest of “them” would dare cross the battle lines into Do-or-Die Bed-Stuy. Most folks remained firm in their “I shall not be moved,” conviction, whether it be the families that have owned their homes for generations or the real keeper of the flame, Brotherman on the Corner.

So when I married and moved to the faux Brooklyn suburb of Canarsie, I was confident that the joys of hood life would be alive and well whenever I returned.
You see, there is a certain annoying comfort in the familiar, like drunk “Joe” who greets the customers at the 24-hour corner store, beer can draped in the requisite brown paper bag; the summer block parties notorious for excessively loud music, wild-ass kids running amok, and closed off streets that tie-up traffic every Saturday from July to August; and the cookouts on the sidewalk. Only black folk can do up a cookout on the sidewalk, complete with a grill and folding tables for the potato salad and greens. Just give us a slice of concrete and we can have us a barbecue. Ahh, yes, the joys of the hood.

When my marriage came to an end, I packed up my kids and after a few pit stops returned to my roots, mere blocks from where I grew up. But something had happened to me in my years in faux suburbia. I’d been lulled into a mindset of having arrived. Where, I wasn’t sure, but I was there. As a result, the Friday night shoot outs, blaring police sirens and the constant scream of the ambulances shook me rather than soothed me. I looked with suspicion and alarm at my hooded young brothers and loud, brassy, belly-baring young sisters. But I felt assured that once fully entrenched in the life and style of the hood I would regain my muse and submerge myself in all things Negro.

It soon became alarmingly clear, however, that I was no longer back in Kansas. It was subtle at first, hardly noticeable. There was just one or two of “them.” A fluke? Perhaps they were just real light skin with “good hair.” But as winter turned to spring and then summer, their numbers grew. I’d step outside and see them jogging with their teacup pooches in tow. Where a year earlier it was only the few intrepid men who had set out to explore the exotic world of the Negro life and set down their flag, now their women had come, toting many a curly-headed kid.
Other things began to change, too. The once vast wasteland of the avenues began to sprout antique shops, children’s boutiques, coffee shops with internet access, new “affordable” housing filling one-time empty lots. And for the first time in the history of The Stuy, a veterinarian’s office! Obviously to care for the influx of little dogs.

And where the once behemoth Pathmark had stood, complete with their rude, gum chewing, loud-mouthed cashiers, it was replaced with Foodtown, new management and staff that talked to the customer instead of the person on the other end of their cell phone, and smiled at you rather than rolled their eyes when you put your groceries on the counter. An entire aisle was dedicated to healthy and organic food! Imagine that. At least now I didn’t have to travel back to Canarsie to shop every weekend. (Couldn’t stand those heifers in Pathmark).

It wasn’t just Foodtown or the vet. Along with “them” came bike lanes and tree guards, police patrols, sushi restaurants, safer streets and million dollar price tags on homes. Our once black corner of the world grew smaller as they crossed the bridges from overpriced Manhattan and the divides of Crown Heights and Williamsburg to settle and convert as is their way, their history.

So as our new neighbors reside amongst us, strolling, jogging and biking along our streets, joining our churches, rubbing elbows with us at the local laundry, dreadlocking their hair and standing in line on the weekends to get their soul food from Royal Ribs on Halsey Street; we gather in small groups or chat on the phone about “them.”

“They’re everywhere!” “Can’t have nothing,” we complain. “Not even our own ghetto.” We shake our heads in disbelief, as we sip smoothies at the new outdoor cafe and watch their numbers grow wondering how much longer it will be before the block parties are no more, grilling on the sidewalk is a thing of the past, the music isn’t so loud, the 24-hour store closes by nine and the life and vitality that drew “them” here is washed out and sanitized into something unrecognizable.
I ponder these questions even as I enjoy the amenities that have come to the neighborhood because of “them.” I ponder these questions as I sit in my three bedroom duplex condo, looking out on my backyard, listening not to gun shots and sirens but contractors building a new two-family home across the street even as the mom and pop store on the corner has been shuttered for months and I wonder, just briefly, what corner Joe is standing on now.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

When Two or More Gather in His Name ...

Share Your Heart. Help LA Banks by Bidding Early and Often in the Auction.

My friend and beloved writer to many, mom, daughter, sister Leslie Esdaile Banks aka LA Banks is in the hospital very sick. Her medical bills are quite high so beginning Tuesday, June 21st through July 1, authors and people in the book biz are auctioning items and services to raise money to help cover her expenses. The auction site is filled with everything from huge promotional packages for authors, offers to read manuscripts by major editors for aspiring writers, advanced reading copies of upcoming books, huge gift baskets of autographed books and so much more. Get on over there and check it out. Whatever you can bid on helps. Leslie Esdaile Banks Auction

There is also a fund that you can donate directly to. Even if it's only $5.00. Every single dollar counts. So don't think for a minute that your contribution will not matter. It does.
Leslie Esdaile Fund
Account #81538801
Police and Fire Federal Credit Union
Operations Center
901 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107-2404
(215) 931-0300

If you live in or near Philadelphia, donations may be taken directly to any Police and Fire Federal Credit Union branch. Please be sure to note the account number.

Thanks for the love and support.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Interview with Dolen Perkins Valdez

Dolen thank you for sharing a little bit about yourself and your books with my readers.

by Dolen Perkins-valdez (Author) Wench: A Novel (Hardcover)
Your novel WENCH is based on factual events--slave women vacationing with their masters. How did you come upon this information and when did you know that it had the makings of a novel?

I came upon this information while reading a Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of W.E.B. DuBois called Biography of a Race. In the section where the biographer discussed DuBois tenure as a professor at Wilberforce University in Ohio, he said that the university was a resort hotel that may have been the most unusual resort in America because it was popular among slaveholders and their enslaved mistresses. I was stunned, and I couldn't stop thinking about it.

WENCH has received a host of accolades including a nomination for an NAACP Image Award. What was it like getting the news about the nomination and attending the award show?

It was such an honor. I am from Memphis, Tennessee where the NAACP chapter has always been a legendary organization led by extraordinary individuals. The renowned Benjamin Hooks, who was the executive director of the national organization from 1977 to 1992, was from Memphis. So this was the best news I could have received. The award show was full of all the love I thought it would be: lots of hugs, kisses, warm wishes. I took my parents, and even though I didn't win, it is a memory I will always cherish.

How has the support of your publisher helped to propel the novel?

The support of my publisher has been immense. Having said that, I feel that I earned a lot of my publisher's respect and support. When my hardcover came out, it had a modest first printing of 10,000 copies. I was not given a national tour or much of a marketing budget. Once I understood this was very typical for an untested debut novelist, I began to work very hard on my hardcover sales. WENCH went into seven printings in hardcover. As a result, the publisher got behind my paperback in a much more committed way. I have been very pleased with my experience with Amistad/HarperCollins. They have some talented people working there.

How much do you think word of mouth has played into the success of WENCH? And what were some of the strategies that you employed to get the word out?

Word of mouth has been tremendous. They say that word of mouth is the best marketing an author can get, and I can attest to that. I have been very active on Facebook and Twitter. I think that social media has really given debut authors an advantage.

This is your first novel. But of course, novel writing is not all that you do. What other hats do you wear? Who is Dolen when she turns off the computer or puts down the notebook?

I have a family, so I am constantly juggling my family and career needs. Like any working professional mom, I hope that I am doing an adequate job at each. It's definitely not easy.

The original cover for WENCH was a beautiful picture of a woman, somewhat obscured by a large hat. The paperback version of the novel is a bird freed from its cage. What role if any did you play in the new cover and why the change? What has been the overall reaction to the new cover?

My paperback imprint HarperPerennial chose the paperback cover. Contractually, debut authors usually do not have the authority to choose their covers. I was fortunate, however, to have a publisher that valued my input. They asked me about each, and I responded that I really loved them both! My readers have mixed reviews, though. My hardcover still sells because some prefer that cover. Others like the paperback cover.

Shifting gears just a bit. How do you feel the new digital age will change the face of publishing--if at all-- and will it have any impact on writers of color?

I think the new digital age will definitely change the face of publishing. Think about it: there have been four authors of color on the paperback New York Times Bestseller list in 2011. That's a promising number which I hope will rise. There is, of course, no way to measure the impact of the internet on book sales, but I'm willing to venture that it is significant.

What is one book (other than yours) that you would highly recommend readers to get and why?

I highly recommend a book I read recently called A Map of Home by Randa Jarrar. It is a beautiful debut novel about a young girl growing up in Kuwait and Egypt around the time of the Persian Gulf war. Jarrar has a wicked sense of humor--I laughed the whole way through! This is not a tourist journey through Arab culture.

Dolen, what can readers look for next from you and when? I'm working on a new novel set during the time of the Civil War.

I really hope I can finish it soon, but as you know writing a novel is long, difficult work. Wish me luck.

And of course, where can readers find you on the web?
Find me on Twitter at or Facebook at or

Saturday, June 04, 2011


Heat Wave

Publishers Weekly
Three established authors dish out a perfect beach read: wealthy New Yorkers, summer sun, and sizzling sexual chemistry. Hill's "Summer Fever" kicks things off with an idyll in the Hamptons. Nina Forbes is a schoolteacher whose best friend hooks her up with a house-sitting gig. The house is fabulous, and the neighbor, British import Ian Harrison, is even better. In Bryant's "One Hot Summer," Nylah Lovely has been burned once by a celebrity lover, but when basketball star Maleek Trenton hires her to plan a party for him, she can't resist his arrogant yet honest charm. While Day's intrigue-laden "Too Hot to Handle" is the weakest of the three stories, the steamy elevator scene between pampered Choice McKinley and her family firm's star employee, Trey Scott, is irresistible fantasy fare. These authors know how to give their readers exactly what they want. (July)

Friday, April 01, 2011

Donna Hill - Spend My Life


Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Authors you love...all the time.
Introducing A Chapter a Month. The first of its kind website where a team of today's top-selling authors have joined together to give readers the literary ride of their lives. No more waiting a year to hear from a favorite author. Now readers will enjoy fresh, exciting chapters every month as authors unfold their stories one chapter at a time. Readers will travel with the authors on their writing journeys and watch the novels come to life. But A Chapter a Month will take the reader beyond the pages as well...each month the readers will experience their favorite authors in ways they've never been seen before. Whether it's a video of a day-in-the-life of an author or an "interview with a favorite character," A Chapter a Month moves writers from just writing and readers from just reading and takes us all into this brave new world of reading entertainment. And preferred readers will have access to authors through live video streams. There is even something for aspiring writers: "Writers on Writing" one hour workshops each month that can be watched live as well as saved through podcasts. This site allows readers to enjoy the written word, get to know their favorite authors and have a chance to meet a few new scribes as well. A Chapter a Month joins readers and writers together in a way that's beyond the ordinary.
The anticipated launch date is April 4, 2011.

Introducing the A Chapter A Month Sweet Sixteen:

ReShonda Tate Billingsley - The author of twenty-one novels, ReShonda is truly a star. Not only is she one of the Executive Producers for her upcoming movies based on her novels, but she is also currently touring with the stage play, Marriage Material.

Parry "Ebony Satin" Brown - Readers loved her novels, including her first, the Essence best seller, The Shirt Off His Back. Everyone will be thrilled to see Parry back.

Tinesha Davis - is the author of Holler at the Moon which was an amazing debut novel, and a favorite among book clubs.

Virginia DeBerry - Virginia and her partner, Donna Grant were pioneers in the resurgence of Af Am literature in the 1990s with their breakout novel, Trying to Sleep in the Bed You Made. With A Chapter a Month,Virginia is making her "solo" and "non-fiction" debut.

Lolita Files - is the author of the critically acclaimed Child of God. From the sistah girls of Reesy and Misty in her early novels, to the murderer in her last novel, Penn, Lolita Files can write anything and with A Chapter a Month will be penning the first soap opera on paper...the never- ending story of a serial killer....

Trice Hickman - recently signed a multiple book deal with Kensington after having tremendous success as an independent author. Her book, Unexpected Interruptions just received a Starred Review from Publisher's Weekly.

Donna Hill - What is there to say about Donna Hill? There are no words, but her statistics tell the story: started writing in 1987, first book published in 1990, has more than 50 books published. See, no words - except...amazing writer.

Travis Hunter - Many often wonder if Travis is an author or a comedian. But the wonderful thing is that Travis has been able to weave the two together. And though he makes us laugh, he truly has a heart for young men and uses his writing as a way to reach them - through his book for young adult males. At the same time, he has entertained his adult readers for years.

Candy Jackson - is the only one in this group who has never been published. Though she hasn't yet had anything published, she is an avid reader (reading more than 300 books a year) with a dream to become a writer.

RM Johnson - There is only one thing that everyone says about RM's stories - this man can write!!! Even once RM transitioned from the more serious books to the more commercial, he has kept his eye constantly on the craft, penning some of the best written, yet entertaining stories over the years.

Dwayne S. Joseph - Not only is this young man a phenomenal writer, but he has penned some of the most original stories out there. Readers often ask him, "What's going on inside your mind?" An imagination that is only matched by his writing skill.

Bernice McFadden - Critically acclaimed and now an NAACP Image Award nominee, for her amazing book, Glorious, Bernice has been winning awards for years, for Sugar, The Warmest December, Loving Donovan...the list goes on and on....

Stephanie Perry Moore - probably has more young adult books in print than any other African American author. She began writing for young adults more than ten years ago and has published a number of series for middle school, high school, and most recently books for some of our youngest readers. Stephanie is our resident young adult writer.

Victoria Christopher Murray - is the author of ten adult novels, including the popular Jasmine Cox Larson Bush series. Her young adult series, The Divine Divas has been optioned to become a movie.

Pat Tucker - Pat's novel, Daddy By Default was a favorite of many readers in 2010. Not only was it well-written and entertaining, it was amazingly informative and one of those books that everyone in the country would benefit from reading.

Tiffany Warren - The founder of the Faith and Fiction retreat is able to effortlessly write great novels across genres with ease. Not only is she an adult and young adult author, but she has produced the stage play based on one of her novels.

Monday, March 14, 2011

More Than Words Volume 7

Each and every one of us has the ability to effect change—to make our world a better place. The dedicated women selected as this year’s recipients of Harlequin’s More Than Words award have changed lives, one good deed at a time. To celebrate their accomplishments, some of our bestselling authors have honored the winners by writing stories inspired by these real-life heroines.

We hope More Than Words inspires you to get in touch with the real-life heroine living inside of you.

In Carly Phillips’s Compassion Can’t Wait, two high school sweet hearts are reunited years later, as if by fate, and discover that if you believe in yourself and each other, anything is possible.

Donna Hill’s Someplace Like Home tells the story of how one woman’s dream becomes reality, as three special people learn that it’s never too late to form a loving family.

In Jill Shalvis’s What the Heart Wants, an honorable man must learn to forgive himself to regain the trust of the dedicated teacher who is the love of his life.

I was honored to be included in this wonderful collection of stories based on the lives of extraordinary real women. What made it even more important for me was that I was able to tap into my own real life experiences as Program Director at a residence for homeless teen mothers for many years. It was one of the most life-altering experiences of my life and I wanted to find a way to translate that into my character Verna. Your purchase of MORE THAN WORDS will help to support recognizing other extraordinary women. Join us in celebrating women during Women's History Month.


Order Your Copy Here

Wednesday, February 02, 2011


Writing Matters
Tamryn Spruill will be teaching this intensive, six-week workshop designed for serious aspiring writers in the fiction genre. Students can expect to receive classroom instruction in combination with interactive workshop experiences.

Topics to be covered include:
• plot
• characterization
• point of view
• setting
• revision/critique
Course Number: CEWRT-545-01
Dates: February 16, 2011 – March 23, 2011
Time: 6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Hours: 15 (six Wednesdays)
Location: Midlands Technical College, Beltline Campus, LB 106
Columbia, South Carolina
Tuition: $29
To register, call (803) 732-0432 or visit

Tamryn Spruill is currently a candidate for an MFA in Creative Writing (fiction) at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish with a minor in Journalism from the University of South Carolina. Her chapbook of poetry, Apotheosis (Word Nerd Editorial Press), was published in 2009. Her work can also be found in The Medulla Review and L.E.S. Review. She is a fiction editor and the senior copy editor for the Pitkin Review.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Novel Spaces: Guest author Donna Hill: Beyond the Book

Novel Spaces: Guest author Donna Hill: Beyond the Book: "Donna Hill began her writing career in 1987. Her first novel was published in 1990. Since that time she has more than 50 novels to her credi..."