Let’s say you meet and fall in love with this dream of a guy. He’s everything you wanted and more. When you met, you had no intentions of falling for him. Heck, you even live thousands of miles apart, so the thought of a relationship wasn’t a thought at all. Now here you are madly in love and you find out he has a secret. Something that doesn’t line up with the person you know now.
Do you feel betrayed, played for the fool? Do you demand to know why he didn’t tell you sooner/ What would have happened had he told you sooner? When should he had revealed his secret? Be honest. First date, second…? If you did something you’re not proud of in your past, how soon would you tell your secret?
What if your secret is about your life in the past, not your life now? I don’t know what I’d do if the man I love told me something about his past that cast a gloomy light on him. I’m talking something bigger than stealing candy as a child. I mean life altering big! I also wouldn’t know when the right moment to tell someone my secrets would be.
What would you be willing to do for the well-being of your family? Would you lie, cheat, steal, murder? Did you have the gut reaction of saying no, no, no, no to all four? Are there circumstances you can imagine where you’d step onto that slippery slope?
That’s where the heroine in my latest romance novel, Stolen Heart, finds herself. She’s done things in her past for the survival of her family. She wants to believe she’s doing the right thing, but is she? When you fall in love, do you reveal all of your past and if so, when? Even if you’ve given up that life? Would you tell the one you love that you used to steal candy as a child? What if your past comes back to haunt you?
Here’s a little about Stolen Heart:
In the midst of a desperate time, Taylor Paige reverts to a life of crime; however, the tables have turned and it’s Taylor who ends up missing a most valuable possession. She falls in love with her target, and he steals her heart.
As CEO of a multi-billion dollar company, Mike Hughes appears to be at the top of the world. In reality, he longs for something he has never had, a loving family. When Taylor Paige drops into his life he thinks his prayers have been answered, but then he discovers her extra-curricular activities and sets out to save the woman he loves from herself. The problem—she doesn’t believe she needs saving.
I’d love to discuss the dilemma Taylor finds herself in and what you would have done. I hope to hear from you after you finish reading Stolen Heart. Visit me online at http://www.DeatriKingBey.com
What I love about Romance Slam Jam
I am too excited about attending Romance Slam Jam (RSJ) 2012. I have been checking my calendar and recounting the days until April 11th. Why is attending RSJ so important to me? Well, I’ve been going so many years I’ve lost count. Maybe you’ve never been to the only African-American romance conference. It’s an event where readers and writers who love the varying styles of traditional AA romance: Contemporary, Inspirational, Suspense, Paranormal and many more.
How can I describe the atmosphere at RSJ? Hmm, it’s a relaxed time where authors and readers can let their hair down and have a good time. Now, don’t get me wrong, it is not an event where a lot of buffoonery happens. Quite the contrary. However, we have tons of fun. As a reader you can easily find yourself sitting at a table with someone as iconic as Beverly Jenkins or in an intimate readers session with a small group chatting it up with Wayne Jordan. Let’s not forget you can be steppin’ it up on the dance floor beside Ann Clay or readers like Priscilla Johnson. I guess the best way to put it into words is to say that being at RSJ is like going home.
The people who attend, new and seasoned, become like family. From the first moment you get a hug from an author you have been reading for years or hanging out with in their yahoo group to taking a picture with a friend you’ve gotten to know on Facebook. It’s all there with food. Now, tell me that’s not a reunion at home.
So, what is new this year for Monique Lamont? Well, I’ve been writing, writing, writing. Trying to get “Evidence of Desire”, the third book in the Hero series, completed and hopefully out late Fall. I’ve also revamped an oldie but goody, “Double Take”. It’s still the original story that maybe 40 people own a copy of from when it was at a very small press house in early 2,000 and something. However, I’ve punched it up, brought it more up to date in style and added a sneak peak at book two of the Double Impact series. Yes, I heard you RSJ readers; there will be a second book. Even better, there are four books in the series. Now, how do you like them apples?
The most exciting news of all, I’m having a RSJ exclusive contest. That’s right, if you are attending Romance Slam Jam? Then ask me how you can win a Kindle Fire while you are Romancing the Rock.
I’ll tell you. Come and see me at the book signing with your print copy of “Double Take” in hand (old or new version) and I will give you a raffle ticket. Yes, I will also have copies of the book at the signing. After the Emma Awards on Saturday night and before the dance floor fills up, I will draw the winning ticket and someone will go home with a new Fire in their hands. That’s right.
Well, I am looking forward to meeting new people and seeing friends. See you in the ROCK!
Romancing you one page at a time.
Happy Birthday to all of you with December birthdays. Happy 41st anniversary to Bill Davis, my real life hero. And last but not least, Merry Christmas to all. We have two great interview for you this month—Sienna Mynx and Angeline Bishop/
Dyanne: Hello Sienna, would you please tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from, what is your background?
Sienna: I’m from Miami Florida, I’ve spent most of my adult life out of college in Atlanta Georgia. I currently work in a technology driven field and have been on my job for 14 years. I’m the oldest daughter of two, from a school teacher mom. My mother taught English and was an avid reader, writer of poetry and she has since retired. Often when I reflect on who I am it’s to her credit. My love for story telling is because of her and my grandfather. The best storyteller I’ve ever met.
Dyanne: I hope you tell your mom to read your interview. She’ll be pleased. When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer, and what was it that inspired you to start writing?
Sienna: I realized I wanted to be a writer around eight. At the time I did more drawing than writing so most of the books I created had pictures with ‘bubbles’ coming out of the mouths of my characters. Reading and writing has been my favorite pass time since I was very young. It’s hard to say when I decided to be a writer, but if we are talking inspiration to publish my work the answer is easy–fanfiction. I discovered fanfiction in 2004 and haven’t stopped writing since.
Dyanne: I’ve been hearing about fanfiction but so far I haven’t read any. When did you write your first book?
Sienna: My first book I wrote at eight. My first published book I wrote in 2008 under the penname T.A. Ford. The book is called Zoe. Some of my finest work. A historical romance about a mulatto freed woman in France and her torrid affair with a French man of nobility. Love that book!
Dyanne: J I love it when writers can name books of their own that are their favorite. How many books have you written?
Sienna: I currently write under two pennames. Under T. A. Ford, I’ve written 3 books. Under Sienna Mynx, I’ve written 16 books and plan to publish four more before the end of the year.
Dyanne: I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you, but I’m thinking there’s really no need. When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Sienna: When I was younger I had dreams of being a comic book artist. I wanted to tell stories but through illustration. I wasn’t that good but I thought my drawings rocked!
Dyanne: LOL. I love your moxie. How long does it typically take you to write a book?
Sienna: Oh God. I don’t know. In the past four years I’ve written so many stories you wouldn’t believe me if I told you. What I do now is go through all the stories I’ve written and polish, rewrite, publish. For example Black Butterfly was my first book I wrote in 2006. I put it down and wrote Zoe then published it in 2008. This summer I spent three months cleaning up Black Butterfly and released it in October. I’m shocked at how well it’s been received. To be truthful, if my job and life doesn’t interfere I’d say I can do a complete story in 45 days.
Dyanne: Where do the ideas for your books come from?
Sienna: Initially from television and film. I was a soap addict. Fangirl to the extreme. I obsessed I tell you. So I’d create alternate world based off my favorite show. Throw a black chick in there and make the hero choose her above all else. Recently I’ve been inspired by music. I can hear a song and dream up a story. I discovered KEM as an artist and penned my book Before Sunrise (the rewrites) to his lyrics. Music is so damn enticing for me now it inspires me in my car on the way to work.
Dyanne: You are really and truly amusing. Hmm. Have you ever thought of comedy? Where is your favorite place to write, where do you feel most creative?
Sienna: On my sofa. I used to love Borders. Had a special chair and window I’d sit bye every Saturday and Sunday morning. Boy did I have the blues when they closed Borders in my neighborhood. Now I just sit on my sofa. I would love to write at some of these cyber cafes, because I love people watching. But I’m pretty lazy in my routine since Borders closed.
Dyanne: I think all of us will forever miss Borders. Do you have any role models? Have there been any other writers that have inspired you?
Sienna: Role models? Hmm, not sure. Other writers who inspired me? Yes. My thirst for historicals from Zora Neal Hurston. I love her style, I love her grit, she’s just kick ass. My love for horror comes strictly from Stephen King. I used to be able to say I’ve read all of his work but I can’t now. If I wanted something forbidden I would say James Baldwin – Go Tell it on the Mountain, was the most shocking book I’d ever read at 13. I just didn’t know people wrote homosexuality and the things taboo subjects I discovered in that book. I think that book is banned in most schools today. That’s a shame. Also when I was young I would gorge on Stephen King and VC Andrews. The tragic dark style of their writing and the drama, well it’s all over my work. Though I write romance, some of my stories go to the dark place. Can’t help it. I had a love affair with Eric Jerome Dickey’s work between 2000 and 2002. I haven’t read much of his work since but I would say surprising I think of his work often when I do romance. Not sure why. I guess it’s because he’s the only romance writer I actually read. My last fangirl crush on an author was LA Banks. I had the pleasure of meeting her this past April. I’ve skipped many authors in between but those authors came to mind.
Dyanne: Ah, a lot of your favorites are also favorites of mine, most especially L.A. Banks and V.C. Andrews. When you’re not writing, what do you like to do for fun?
Sienna: Travel. I belong to a travel group. Next year (2012) I’m going to Italy for ten days. I have a Mafia story set in Florence and I plan to see it. I’m soooo excited! I also love to hit book conferences. Check out my website to see how far I go! LOL!
Dyanne: I love it, you get to travel to Italy and you get to write it off. Ah, that reminds me of something, Sienna. I’ve heard that you’re nominated by RT for Best Erotic fiction by an Indie Publisher. Would you share with us your emotions on learning of this?
Sienna: Believe it or not I had no idea. I got an email from a fellow author one night and all it said was ‘Congratulations’. Confused I emailed her back and she told me. I screamed. Sorry to be so dramatic but this is like the best thing to happen to me since I’ve started writing. To get the nom and have my publishing company listed along side Ellora’s Cave, Samhain and Loose Id. I was just floored. I think I read the review three times before it sank in. Right now I’m excited that my work is getting out there and people are discovering me. This nomination now reaffirms what my mama always taught me: The sky is the limit when you believe in your dreams!!
Dyanne: Congratulations. Surprises are the best. Do you have anything that you’d like to say to your readers?
Sienna: Yes. Many know this already but I’m so proud I have to share. My book Buttercup by Sienna Mynx has been nominated by Romantic Times in the Indie Author Erotic Fiction category. I’m so surprised. Most times our work is shelved in just multi-cultural. I’m right up there with five other talented (some best selling) authors. I can’t get over the shock. To celebrate my first nomination I will be doing a re-release of Buttercup and extending some of the scenes to the book for print. For those that love this book keep checking my site for more details.
Dyanne: What kind of advice would you give to new writers?
Sienna: I LOVE new writers. They will tell you this. I gobble them up honey! As soon as I see a new writer kicking ass I try to be as supportive as I can. What I share with new writers is to OWN your product. I know self-publishing is not for everyone, I get that. But understand which ever choice you make in publishing you are a BRAND. Therefore sharpen your stories and present them the best way you can. Reach out to some of these old heads to see if they will BETA for you. Join some critique groups. Visit sites like ARE Cafe (Cafe Au’ lait) and mingle with readers. Promote yourself to anyone around you who will listen. Tweet, facebook, blog hop, do it all honey. Your success isn’t from a publisher and agent. In the tough market of pushing stories, the success lies with you! Kisses!
Dyanne: Sienna, can we have a couple of links to find you?
Sienna: Of course. My sites are for those over 21. LOL.
Dyanne: I check out both of your sites and they are so beautiful. I’m jealous and will be trying to redo things. Thank you for the great advice and the fantastic interview. I totally love your advice on self publishing.
DYANNE: Hello, Angeline. Tell us a little bit about how you got started and about you.
Angeline: Since I was a child, I’ve always loved being transported by a good book. There are no commercial interruptions or some director telling you how each character should look or sound. So it was a natural progression to want to write my own stories.
I work in academic and I’m the parent to two wonderful daughters — one is in college and the other is a high school senior and I struggled to find the right balance for my writing, my day job and being a mom. I’m lucky my girls enjoy the idea of their mother busy writing away as they study for their exams and write their papers. It’s like I’m still in the trenches with them. Working hard, getting frustrated, having breakthroughs just like them. The cutest thing is when they text or tweet me when something happens in pop culture so I can stay in tuned to their world.
Daughter: Mom, Will and Jada broke up!
Daughter: Sorry false alarm, their son just tweeted it’s a false rumor.”
Me: Oh, okay.
I love technology; I just hope both of them don’t ask me to buy them the latest Kindle because my novel is out. I’m offering the new Kindle Fire in my contest but my family members can’t win it.
DYANNE: What a fantastic prize. Since we’re going to be talking about your debut book why don’t you tell us about how it all happened, the call, what you did on receiving the call and the process and what surprised you the most.
Angeline: North Star is the first book in the Sheridan series and it mainly follows the love relationship of Graham Sheridan and Caresse Aldana. It was a wonderful to write because it reminds readers that romance can happen anywhere and to anyone. The story received good feedback in RWA-sponsored contests and even piqued the interest of some upcoming film producers so I knew if I could just get North Star in the hands of a good publisher everything else would fall into place.
The day I found out that a publishing company wanted North Star, I was reviewing my emails at 7AM at the university when I saw a message from Deborah Gilbert of Soul Mate Publishing. She explained about how I should look into a certain marketing firm and I remember feeling a bit puzzled because I sent her my novel for publishing consideration, not marketing tips. Then at the end of the email, she stated, ‘And let me know if you have any questions about the contract.’
Right then, my eyes bugged out of my head, as my mind raced for answers. Contract! What contract?
When I looked a few emails down and saw her first email stating her desire to publish North Star. I think I read it three times before I ran around my office and giggled like a little schoolgirl. It was exciting…very exciting. My family and friends were elated.
Later that night, I continued to work on the second novel in the series, South Beach. It picks up with Graham’s little sister Laila in sunny Miami, Florida
What surprised me the most about the whole process? Well, I’d have to say how quickly the other Soul Mate Publishing (SMP) authors bonded with each other. I was one of the first to be recruited as a member of the author blog and I must say the ladies are so encouraging and thoughtful. I hope the good feeling continue because there are some real breakout authors in this group.
Dyanne: That is a fantastic story. I love it. It almost brought tears to my eyes so I know it had to have brought a few to yours. So Angeline, tell me what had you nearly in tears?
Angeline: Only two things: reading my acknowledgement page and submitting my final draft after my editor’s revisions. There’s nothing like seeing your words in print. It’s even better than attending your graduation day or getting a raise. All of your hard work has paid off and you can feel the sheer joy of it. They were happy tears. Very, very happy ones. It was a wonderful moment.
Dyanne: My God, does that bring back memories. How did you feel when you first held your book in your hand, your first book signing?
Angeline: The first time I saw my North Star it was in eBook form. I downloaded it to a Kindle and just marveled at it. I think I sat right on the floor of my office transfixed at how nice my novel looked. You would think I was observing a rare gemstone the way I grinned from ear to ear.
Since the book signing of ebooks is quite new, I’ve enjoyed using Kindlegraph, a personal ebook-signing marketing tool to sign readers’ kindle editions. (You can view a video on http://kindlegraph.com/ to see how authors use this application with their Twitter accounts.) The process is quite fun and the readers really enjoy the personalized touch.
Dyanne: I just signed up for Kindlegraph less than a month ago and was pleasantly surprised to find I had signature requests waiting. What a rush. I’m so glad technology has kept up with the publishing industry to that extent. Sorry to keep gong on, Angeline. Tell us a little about North Star.
Angeline: Caresse Aldana is chosen to persuade Psyche’s dangerously handsome editor-in-chief, Graham Sheridan, to feature an article on the Mason Community Center. She tells herself it’s just business.
She thought her heart wasn’t in jeopardy, but she clearly underestimated Graham’s charm, and his determination to win her heart. As their passion intensifies, disturbing mishaps at the Center place Caresse’s life in danger.
The highly anticipated Mason Ball fundraiser is in peril. Can Graham decipher the evidence, finger the culprits, and save Caresse before it’s too late?
North Star takes inspirational themes of family bonds and community involvement and gives readers a passionate romance.
Dyanne: The blurb you just gave has me adding North Star to my “To Buy” pile. How long did it take you to write your first draft of North Star? How long to have it submission ready? How long before you made the sale? LOL. Yeah, I know I asked you several questions at once, but hey, you’re a writer, you can handle that. J
Angeline: The first draft took two months but it wasn’t ready for submission until a month later. I queried agents and publishers for about a year before it was picked up.
Dyanne. A career in writing definitely isn’t for the faint of heart. LOL. It takes a lot of work and a lot of balancing to keep everyone happy and still manage to create. What is the strangest thing that has happened to you since you began writing?
Angeline: I’ve learned to plot my books the way writers plot out screenplays. I see the whole story in my mind’s eye and take the time to outline it. Then the characters take on a life of their own and shoot my best laid plan all to hell.
Dyanne: What is the one lesson you’ve learned in this business that you’re grateful for?
Angeline: Every writer needs to become a part of a writer’s organization that believes in education and support. The Romance Writers of America (RWA) has been a resource I just couldn’t live without.
Dyanne: I second that. What is the one secret that you have that you hope is never made public?
Angeline: Now you know if I told you that, it would become public. I know how popular you are, Dyanne. Don’t try to make me think a secret expressed in this forum would stay between me and you.
Dyanne: You know I had to try. I was thinking you were going to say you’d have to kill me if you told me. That I could have worked into an evil contract. Now how about having a little fun. I have the power to grant you one wish. What is your wish?
Angeline: Well, if you could grant me one wish it would be able to entertain romance readers with the Sheridan series. It’s been so fun to write Book One I would like the opportunity to reveal the Sheridan siblings to them.
Dyanne: Ahh, that’s such a sweet wish. Consider it granted. Tell me Angeline, what’s on your plate for the future?
Angeline: Continuing to work at the university, completing the Sheridan series for Soul Mate Publishing, raising my daughters, do a little traveling, enjoy my life, and the people in it.
Dyanne: Promo is the one thing I don’t do often enough. What promotional things are you doing?
Angeline: I have a GREAT Kindle Fire contest to promote North Star so I hope a true fan wins it. I’m also blogging, facebooking and tweeting like every other author. The fans can reach me if they want to discuss the characters.
Dyanne: I hope a true fan wins your contest also. It’s taken me years to decide to buy a Kindle. This year my husband will be giving me one for Christmas. I’ve already pre-ordered it. J So giving away the Kindle Fire should definitely be won by a fan. I know you’ve already started on your next book, so can you tell us a little about that one?
Angeline: My next book, South Beach, is Laila’s story. I’ll be sending her on a much-needed vacation in sunny Florida, where she’ll cause a media whirlwind with her old college friends, Dr. Sofìa Vega-Barea and Ms. Marina Carter. Fans will get to hear from Malcolm, Graham and Gray again.
Dyanne: I haven’t read North Star yet, but I’m sure when I’m done I’ll be just as anxious to read South Beach. Who are your biggest supporters?
Angeline: My family, friends and colleagues. I guess it takes a village to grow an author. I’m hoping my fans will soon lead the wave of support so I can get feedback on the minor characters in North Star they want me to write about in the future.
Dyanne: Did you enter any writing contest?
Angeline: College writing contests when I was younger and Romance Writers of America (RWA) sponsored contests because the feedback is priceless.
Dyanne: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Angeline: Yes, don’t waste days, months, and years talking about the story you want to write. Just make it happen. Don’t talk the talk, walk the walk.
Dyanne: That’s great advice. I can’t wait to meet you in Arkansas next year for Romance Slam Jam. Angeline, where can readers find you?
Dyanne: Angeline, thank you so much and let me know how your contest goes. Congratulations on your book and here’s wishing you continued success.
Hello RSJ family. Happy Birthday, to all of you born in the month of October. And Happy Halloween, as well. So, RSJ family it looks like we survived the heat of summer, and yes I know in a month or so we will once again be complaining about the cold of winter.
As usual the author interviews are always fun for me and I hope you enjoy them as well. Our interview this month is with Dwan Abrams.
Dyanne: Hello Dwan. Can you tell us a little bit about how you got started and about you?
Dwan: I am a lover of life! I want to eat it, drink it, and enjoy every good thing about it. I’m married to my best friend, and I’m the mother of a terrific little girl. Writing, for the most part, has been as much a part of my existence as breathing. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write in some way, shape, or fashion.
Dyanne: What is the strangest thing that has happened to you since you began writing?
Dwan: At least one strange thing happens to me every day. Trying to pinpoint the strangest thing would be nearly impossible. I can say that I’ve had some extremely humbling experiences. For instance, I remember being on book tour in Philly, and a woman introduced herself to me and started crying. Of course, I was like, who’s trying to punk me? Where’s the camera? Well, there was no camera. The woman was just a loyal reader. I loved that! I’ll never forget that experience.
Dyanne: Ahh, that is so sweet. What is the one lesson you’ve learned in this business that you’re grateful for?
Dwan: I’ve learned that everybody is trying to make it.
Dyanne: What is the one secret that you have that you hope is never made public?
Dwan: Hahaha! That’s between me and God.
Dyanne: Oh darn. Okay, let’s try something else. I have the power to grant you one wish. What is your wish?
Dwan: To have wishes available to me whenever I need them for the rest of my life.
Dyanne: That’s exactly what I would have wished for. Dwan, as a traditionally published author, why did you decide to start your own publishing company?
Dwan: I decided to start Nevaeh Publishing, a small press independent publishing house, to help up and coming authors get their work noticed. There are so many talented authors out there who don’t have the money or know how to successfully self-publish, or don’t have the track record to get recognized by a major publishing house. What I decided to do was sign authors based on the merit of their work. Our company has grown, and we have 13 authors on the roster, and 9 books in print with 6 more slated for release by the end of the first quarter 2012. All of our titles are available in trade paperback and eBook formats. For a list of our current and upcoming releases, please visit http://www.nevaehpublishing.com/. We also have a fan page on Facebook under Nevaeh Publishing.
Dyanne: I’m wishing you the best of luck with your company and with your own personal career. You currently write inspirational fiction. Would you ever consider writing outside of that genre?
Dwan: When I write, I don’t like to think about a particular genre. I just write what I’m being led to write. To answer your question, I recently finished a writing collaboration with Author Brian W. Smith, and that book would be considered contemporary fiction. We have placed it with a suitable publisher, and the book is slated for a 2012 release date. It’s my first collaboration, and I think it’s my best book to date. The book was so much fun to write, and I fell in love with the characters. I felt a wide range of emotions as I wrote and read the story. I’m looking forward to its release.
Dyanne: What’s on your plate for the future?
Dwan: I recently finished my first writing collaboration! I’m so excited about this project. It’s outside of the genre in which I usually write, and the book will be released through a mainstream publisher in 2012. I’m also doing more ghostwriting and editing projects. At some point in the future I’d like to branch off into television and film.
Dyanne: Where can readers find you?
Dwan: Let’s see… http://www.dwanabrams.com/, http://dwanabrams.blogspot.com/, http://www.nevaehpublishing.com/, http://nevaehpublishing.blogspot.com/. Those are my web sites and blogs. I’m also on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn as Dwan Abrams. On FB I have two pages–one has reached the friend limit. So, if one is full, please try the other. If you follow me on Twitter, I’ll follow you back.
Authors and readers, book club members, anyone out there listening, let us know if you want to be interviewed, have a new book to recommend or have updated your website. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.orgDyanne
Now onto Dyanne
Hello RSJ family,
Time really does appear to be passing in a blur. It only seems a few weeks ago that I was wishing all of you a Happy Labor Day. Well, it’s that time again. LOL. Happy Labor Day.
Happy Birthday to all of hose born in Sept. That includes me, as my birthday is September 1st. Talk about time passing. My God in my mind I can vividly remember being 17. Now in five years I’ll be eligible for Social Security (a benefit I paid into, not an entitlement.) Time.
Ahhh, you know I had to get that out. Anyway, as usual we have some great interviews. I love talking to people whether in person or via email. You find out so many interesting things.
All the interviews are joyous but there is nothing as pleasing as presenting a once aspiring author, and contestant of the, Romance Slam Jam, aspiring author contest, as a new published author. Genesis Press is the lucky publisher to acquire the first two books.
So without my steady stream of chatter let me bring you, Kathy Thigpen writing as, Regena Bryant.
Dyanne: Regena, congratulations on the fulfillment of a dream. I wish you much success. As a past contestant for the aspiring author contest for, RSJ, would you say your experience with the contest helped in your search for a publisher?
Regena: My participation in the contest helped prepare me for submitting my manuscript to a publisher. Preparing the contest entry as a submission packet is an excellent exercise for an aspiring author. As an aspiring author you think all you have to do is sit down and write a book, but to become a published author there are some business forms that you must also complete. The contest really helped bring that to light for me. And the post contest feedback was valuable and excellent, I entered the contest twice and didn’t win, place or show, but I learned a ton.
Dyanne: I’m glad you said you learned a ton. Contests are great to win but if you don’t, and you can take something away that helps you, then it was worth it, even without a win. J
At this point in your career what advice would you give aspiring authors wondering if they should enter the contest?
Regena: With any contest I’d say read the contest rules and requirements carefully.
Dyanne: Did your experience help in your dealings with your publisher?
Regena: Not really. When it comes to dealing with my publisher I pull out my business experience.
Dyanne: That’s great, having a business background. Can you tell us a little about both of your books, please?
Except on Sunday, a contemporary romance availableSeptember 6, 2011. The Rev. Dr. Finus Gideon Gates is the charismatic, intelligent, wealthy and decidedly single, favorite son of his denomination the Baptist Methodist Assembly, where it is a “truth universally acknowledged” by the senior choir that he needs a wife. He thinks his reasons for not dating are a closely held secret. But every single woman in the Assembly and her mother know why he’s not dating and they are working overtime to get him to change his mind.
When Dr. Cassandra Brownley, a shy, sensible high school principal, accepts a consulting project with the BMA, she is caught between two opinions regarding the project’s leader. The Rev. Dr. Gates is pompous and condescending from the pulpit and she can’t stand him. Away from church he’s witty, warm and wonderful.
Can she love him-Except on Sunday?
Available March 2012, Believe in Me a contemporary romance. In the next ninety days, Kitty Franklin will have to choose between love and loyalty.
Kitty is the jaded, outspoken daughter of a scandal-plagued, multi-term congressman. As her father’s attorney she discreetly cleans up his political and personal dirty laundry. She’s lost all faith in God, government and men.
Despite the rumors, Davis Thornton is moving home toRock Hill,South Carolina, to run the faith-based community empowerment center established by his childhood hero, Congressman Roosevelt Franklin. Honest, hard working,Davis must unite a staff divided by a salacious, viral internet scandal, while trying to nurture a relationship with the woman striving to cover it all up.
As Kitty works to shut down the blog dedicated to exposing the Congressman’s many indiscretions, her relationship withDavisfalters. Her commitment to keeping her fathers secrets doesn’t sit well withDavis. And since she doesn’t complete the investigation at download speed, her father questions her dedication to his cause. The scandal shakes Kitty’s fragile faith and may prevent her from ever believing in anything or anyone ever again
Dyanne: Both books sound fantastic. I can’t wait to read them. What gave you the idea for your first book?
Regena: For Except on Sunday I followed up on a question I’d often pondered. I am a huge Jane Austen fan and I often wondered what if Fitzwilliam Darcy was a modern African American man?
Dyanne: I love playing ‘what if.’ That was a good method you used. Are you devoted to your genre or do you see yourself writing in another genre at some point in the future?
Regena: I’m devoted to telling the stories that come to me. Story is more important to me than genre. And I think with Except on Sunday I’ve kind of blended the inspirational and contemporary genres in a kind of happy accident.
Dyanne: I’m sure you’re going to find readers eagerly waiting for your stories. To that end I’d like to ask you if you believe it’s important to write based on trends, or do you write from the heart?
Regena: I’m happy to have the luxury of writing from the heart since I’m not quitting my day job. So I think it come down to the individual goals/needs of each writer.
Dyanne: How do you, as a writer, find your way into the story? Do you use an outline, or let the story unfold naturally?
Regena: Interesting question, I don’t outline and I don’t write sequentially. I write in chunks. I’ll write scenes from the middle or write out conversations as they occur in my mind. At some point it all seems to come together.
Dyanne: Oh my God! I wrote a book like that once; because that was the way it was coming to me. I had the worst time piecing that manuscript together. LOL. Where do you get your ideas? How do you know you have a good tale to tell worthy of becoming a novel?
Regena: Everywhere. Just reading the Sunday paper there are so many possibilities. I’ve got piles of clippings.
Dyanne: I totally agree. As long as there’s a world, writers will never run out of ideas. Who knows? Maybe they will have ideas even if the world is coming to an end. Tell me, how many hours a week do you devote to writing, including research?
Regena: More than I should, given my other obligations. But I’ll say between 16-24 hours a week. I research continually, reading the newspaper, or in the grocery store or watching TV. I’m always making notes. There always seems to be little snippet of something that I can put in a book.
Dyanne: *LOL* Writing can take over your life completely, can’t it? Watching movies, being in church, being in bed. J What do you find to be the most difficult part of writing? How do you overcome that difficulty?
Regena: Punctuation and grammar. I have a real problem with commas. I’m working on this one. I really need to take a refresher class and I trade favors with my grammatically correct, comma queens, writer friends. They help me with my pun and gram and I help them with story logic, my strength. Did I use the comma appropriately?
Dyanne: You did. LOL. It’s a really good thing to know your strengths and weaknesses and to have writer friends to count on, sort of like bartering. Regena, tell me, if you’ve started your search for an agent, if you have any tips. And given that you’re now a published author do you have any tips for aspiring authors who’re looking?
Regena: My tip comes from my day job, targeted selection. Do the research and spend you time targeting agents and publishers that work with what you are writing.
Dyanne: Good. What is the market like for your genre?
Regena: I’m going to play this like I play the stock market. I don’t follow the Dow Jones industrial average, I just watch my stocks.
Dyanne: That’s funny. I like your answer. Now that you have two books under your belt I have to ask this. What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in your writing career?
Regena: That there are three categories.
- Those who want to write a book
- Those who have written or are in the process of writing a book
- Published authors.
The only way to move from category one to three is to finish writing your book.
Dyanne: Perfect. I love the answer. What do you consider success as a writer?
Regena: I haven’t gotten that far yet. I’m just glad I finished writing my first book.
Dyanne: LOL. I hear that. What methods of marketing and promotion work best for you?
Regna: Since my first book drops in September I’ll have to let you know. But I do know my willingness to get out and promote will play a huge role in my sales.
Dyanne: I’m thinking you’ve forgotten about your Ad in Sormag. That was a great call. And may I also recommend Affaire de Coeur. What literary organizations or writers groups would you recommend to writers in your genre?
Regena: Romance Writers of America, Slam Jam and the Sormag community, each for a different reason. Support from other writers is a little different from the support you get from your loved ones.
Dyanne: Support from other writers is a lot different from support from loved ones. J What is your view of epublishing? What opportunities does it provide for you and for other authors? What do you think is the future of epublishing?
Regena: E-publishing in coming on strong and I’m in the process of exploring and learning more about epublishing and self publishing.
Dyanne: How do you keep a balance between family, work and writing?
Regena: Very carefully.
Dyanne: Has the dream been everything you’d hoped it would be?
Regena: Yes and no. I purposed to just write a book. I didn’t consider that I’d be entering a whole new industry. It’s a wonderful horrible thing. And I’m loving every minute of it.
Dyanne: Just wait until after your book releases, you’ll find even more facets to the process. J Where can your readers reach you?
Regena: I’m on line at www.regenabryant.com. Please stop by and say Hello.
Dyanne: Thanks Regena. I went to your site. I love it.
Dyanne: Hello, Laura. It’ nice to meet you via email. Congratulations on being chosen as the host author for next year’s conference.
Laura: Let me just say first how excited I am to be part of Romance Slam Jam 2012. The Sisters of Color Book Club is a great group, so enthusiastic and planning hard to make every moment of your stay in Little Rock, Arkansas memorable. Looking forward to meeting all of you!
Dyanne: At the moment I’m not familiar with your work. If you don’t mind would you please tell me and the rest of the family about your books?
Laura: I have several books available at present.
1. Love On the Line, Avon A+/Harper Collins. Available as print and eBook.
“High-powered executive Thea Morgan (45) is marrying Rev. Xavier Thornton the former athlete and successful black businessman-turned-pastor. A fair-skinned black woman who cracked the glass ceiling in theTexasoil business, Thea assumes her identity difficulties are behind her. She hasn’t yet met Xavier’s new congregation in a down-on-its-luckArkansastown…nor Mrs. Hattie Patterson the matriarch of St. Hurricane Church who has fixed opinions about how a minister’s wife should behave. Will Thea lose her struggles to win over Xavier’s congregation, people who just don’t understand her big-city ways? It will take every bit of her humor, business acumen, and just plain hard-loving to deal with her crisis of faith and the sinking feeling that, just maybe, love can’t conquer all.
“Like mother, like daughter, Thea and her 18 year old daughter Jesse discover that sometimes to get what you need most you to have to put everything, even love, on the line.”
2. Icing On the Cake – MIRA. Available as print and eBook
“When forty-something Liz Talbot’s husband left her for a woman half her age, Liz put all her passions into her bakery. The problem is fad diets and fitness crazes are ruining sales. She’s barely staying afloat. Liz’s luck seems to be changing when her ex dies without changing his will, leaving her the main beneficiary. Unfortunately one of the things she inherits is the advertising agency she left behind to pursue her dream of baking. Worse yet, her partner is the newly widowed husband stealer—Brandi, with a 0ver the i. Talbot Advertising is in the toilet since the death of her ex (that’s right, she’s now the proprietor of two failing businesses.) But with twin daughters and a mother watching her every move, Liz doesn’t see failure as an option. She’s more determined than ever to make a name for herself as an artisan baker extraordinaire, providing her products can catch the eye of the sexy Nabisco Food scout who is as elusive as he is mysterious.”
3. A New Lu – eBook
“Lu Nichols is a columnist and the lifestyle columnist for FIVE-O, the magazine for women of a certain age. When her husband suddenly announced that he wanted a divorce, it wasn’t without a last weekend fling.
“A NEW LU takes readers for the ultimate midlife comedy crisis ride, when an endearing middle-aged woman unexpectedly discovers she’s pregnant by her ex but about to go it alone. Everyone has an opinion about that: her ex, her college-age son and her about-to-be married daughter, her boss at Five-O, her best friends, and even her 70-something widowed neighbor Cy. Far from being alone, Lu is about to discover life doesn’t just continue at fifty, it can move into fifth gear.
“And just to make things a little more interesting, the sexy doctor who delivers the news of her condition keeps popping up with more than a medical interest in Lu.
“The sometimes hilarious and always upbeat world of Lu comes to life in A NEW LU.”
Dyanne: Thank you Laura. You’ve given all of us some new books to acquire. They all sound fantastic. Can you tell me if you remember, what gave you the idea for your first book?
Laura: It was in response to a book I had just finished reading. I’d never thought about trying to write. This was back in the late 1970s when nobody I knew was a writer. But I’d run out of something to read and I wanted the heroine in the historical romance I’d finished to behave with more spunk. So I wrote a scene in which the heroine nearly killed the hero with his own sword in Chapter One. I didn’t know it would become a book but I just loved the idea of making characters do what I wanted them to do for a change, and so kept writing. That book was my first sale in 1980 SILKS AND SABERS.
Dyanne: ROFL. What a great answer. So, I can see you like control. It’s going to be great meeting you next year. Laura are you devoted to your genre or do you see yourself writing in another genre at some point in the future?
Laura: Over the past 30 years I’ve written in every genre I wanted to including Historical Romance, Western, Saga, Paranormal, Romantic Suspense, Category Romance, Contemporary, African American and mainstream women’s fiction. I even co-authored a Young Adult Nonfiction book called “Careers In Computers.”
Dyanne: Time. I started this month’s column talking about how quickly it passes and you’ve just proven my point. Congratulations on staying sane during a 30 year stint. You’ll be a good person to ask this of. Since you’ve been in the business so long do you believe it’s important to write based on trends, or do you write from the heart?
Laura: I write from the heart. I don’t know any other way. Of course, I try to keep up with what’s popular but I write something only if I’m happy to spend months working on that story with those characters.
Dyanne: *LOL* At a recent chapter meeting I was telling of how a character made me so angry that in the sequel I wouldn’t give her any lines. We do become emotionally involved with our characters. And you’re right; you have to care enough for them to want to spend unlimited time with them.
How do you, as a writer, find your way into the story? Do you use an outline or let the story unfold naturally?
Laura: Because I sell on partials I have to write an outline. But it’s only a high-points outline. I never do it by chapter or by scene. That’s too much detail for me. I like to get up every morning knowing where I have to go but not how I’m going to get there. I’m a seat of the pants writer.
Dyanne: Where do you get your ideas? How do you know you have a good tale to tell worthy of becoming a novel?
Laura: Ideas come from everywhere. I got an idea for a historical romance after reading an article in the newspaper about a modern event. I cut out pictures for inspiration. I read, A LOT. I know that I have a good story if the characters talk to each other, or me, when I’m not trying to write. When I wake up in the morning and I have another idea to make the storyline I’m thinking about writing better, I know I’m onto something good. It’s like planting seeds. Some sprout and others don’t. I write the sprouters.
Dyanne: Since I just interviewed an author today for my cable show we were talking about where writers get ideas. She’s a mystery writer. When her grandmother was 90 she decided it was time to die. Every few weeks she’d call the family to her home telling them it was her time. They’d all arrive to find her watching Jeopardy. After several of these trips, this author thought on her way back home, ‘one day someone is going to kill her.’ Thus the idea for her book, Murder of a Sweet Old lady was born. LOL. Nothing is scared to a writer who’s looking for a new idea. J
How many hours a week do you devote to writing, including research?
Laura: That depends on where I am in a story. I’m fortunate to be able to write fulltime so when I’m on deadline I write 4 hrs a day, maybe 7 days a week. Some of that might be researching or not. Sometimes I do editing because I edit as I write. If I’m doing something historical or that requires a special kind of knowledge, like writing about ministers and their wives, or how to run an artisan bakery, I will interview people with that experience. And I read a lot on the subjects I’m writing about after writing time.
Dyanne: What do you find to be the most difficult part of writing? How do you overcome that difficulty?
Laura: The truth is it varies from book to book. Some characters are just there from the beginning and so I may have to work on the plot to tell their story in the most interesting way. Other times I have a strong storyline but no characters, or one of the characters is not working the way I want it to. Sometimes it’s finding the right words. I know what I want to say but it’s not coming out right. All these things require patience, the willingness to write, be wrong, and rewrite, sometimes several versions. I’ve thrown away as many as 150 pages of a book. And once I had to call my editor and say a plot wasn’t working and offered another one. I overcome by keeping on keeping on. Occasionally, I’ll put it aside, and write something else. Usually then, I’ll wake up in the middle of the night with the answer to whatever the block was. And, finally, I may just have to let that story go. I have a file of stories that didn’t work at the time. But I never toss anything away. You never know…
Dyanne: Don’t you just love how an answer to a plot dilemma comes when you’re not consciously thinking of them. Wouldn’t it be nice if all of life’s problems could be solved in the same manner? J What tips do you have for finding an agent and publisher?
A: Attend writers’ conferences and sign up for one-on-one with agents and editors. Enter writing contests that have agents and editors as judges. It’s not like it was when I started. You can’t usually write people blind and get a response. There are thousands more writers looking and less agents and editors and publishers. You have to do your homework, know who’s buying what and then offer that, if it’s what you’re writing. Be professional; know what you’re going to say. Be brief. But face-to-face is the best way to break the ice. The conference will pay for itself in the exposure.
Dyanne: I’d like to add that going to smaller conferences make the writer/reader experience more personal. That’s one of the reason I love the Romance Slam Jam conferences. It’s always like going home.
Laura, if you know, can you tell us what the market is like right now for your genre?
Laura: I’m writing women’s’ fiction, some with a definite African American slant. All my stories have multi-ethnic casts. Business is good but competition is stiff.
Dyanne: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in your writing career?
Laura: A long career will have ups and downs. You may never make scads of money or the New York Times bestseller list but that doesn’t mean a writer can’t have a good career. You must learn to adapt as a writer to your audience. Books are shorter, sentences are shorter, stories have a lot less description in 2011 than in 1980.
Dyanne: That is very good advice. Thank you. What do you consider success as a writer?
Laura: See answers above. J In 30 yrs I’ve published 39 books in many genres and have seen some of those works translated into 15+ languages. That says to me that my storytelling is universal. I’m a writer first. Being a woman and an African American are not holdbacks but assets.
Dyanne: I would totally agree with you. Congratulations on your success. What literary organizations or writers groups would you recommend to writers in your genre?
Laura: I think writers should belong to groups. One doesn’t have to become secretary or president, but there are opportunities to share with other professionals in your field. Writers work alone. We need to be with our colleagues for affirmation. So, join a critique group, especially if you are self-publishing. Also join a large genre group like Romance Writers of American, Mystery Writers of America, Novelists Inc, Western Writers of America, Poets and Writers, The Society of Children’s Authors and Illustrators, whatever your writing interests are. To be long-term successful, you must keep up with the business and public interests.
Dyanne: What is your view of epublishing? What opportunities does it provide for you and for other authors? What do you think is the future of epublishing?
Laura: I think epublishing is here to stay. It will become the way of publishing for most commercial/poplar fiction and nonfiction. I have to admit that I like print books. I grew up collecting them and still prefer to buy in a bookstore over going online because I see things walking the aisles I would not know about online.
The opportunity it provides for me as a traditionally published author is the possibility of long life for my books. I began publishing in 1980. Most of my books are no longer available in print. Epublishing can give new life to those works, and give them a chance to find a new audience.
The opportunity it provides for new authors is that they can get their works out there without going through the traditional publishing process. That has good and bad aspects. I think the greatest pitfall will be the lack of vetting. Self-published authors won’t have to run the gauntlet of an editor asking why something was written this way, offering useful criticism to make the work better, easier to understand, and more compelling. Without that critique I wonder if good authors will miss the potential of becoming great authors. Every pushback I’ve ever gotten has made me dig deeper, work harder, figure out how to make my vision of a story one I can share.
Dyanne: With all that you have going on in your life, how do you keep a balance between family, work and writing?
Laura: When I began writing I had two boys in diapers (6 months and 2 years) and a daughter in kindergarten. I wrote at nap time and when I could steal a few minutes. Then I wrote when they were in school. I’m a daytime writer. Now, with my family grown life is easier. But I’ve kept the habit of writing during the day, before the dishes and the other aspects of my life.
Dyanne: Laura, I’ve really enjoyed talking to you. I’ll be checking in with you to see what updates you have for the 2012 conferences. I know the rest of the family will be looking forward to hearing what all of you are planning for us. Last question, Laura. Where can readers find you?
Dyanne: As usual, authors, let us know if you have a new book. We’ll be more than happy to spread the word. As for updating your websites, considering I need to do mine as well, I will let it slide this time. But seriously, we want to hear from you. email@example.com
Readers , we would also love to hear from you. There are so many books out there that we have no wait of keeping track of all of them. Let us know the books that members of the family have coming out.
Until next time