Saturday, March 27, 2010

What skills does a writer need to develop?

This was so good that I thought it was worth sharing. It's a repost from Chip McGregor's site at

Samantha wrote me this past weekend and asked, "If you were my mentor, what are the skills you would share with me to help me develop a career in writing?" I love the question...may I just create a laundry list as my answer?

1. Develop a writing schedule (i.e., have a time and a place where you write regularly)

2. Have a goal (perhaps "create 1000 salable word per day")

3. Learn to get the words down on paper (you can revise later - it's always easier to edit something than to create something)

4. Create short assignments for yourself (you're not trying to write a book all at once -- if you break it into pieces, you're trying to get each small assignment done)

5. [This is going to offend some people, but hear me out] In the words of Anne Lamott, be willing to create shitty first drafts (okay, forgive the language if it offends you -- that's stolen from Anne Lamott's fabulous book Bird by Bird, and it's one of the best writing lessons ever. So what should I say? "Poopy" first drafts? First drafts of deep doo-doo? It seems weak to say, "Be willing to create first drafts that aren't very good." So...I'll just ask you to live with my colorful use of the language today.)

6. Know what makes a good story (understand what a plot is and how to follow a story arc)

7. Learn to create true-to-life dialogue (nothing keeps people reading more than a great conversation)

8. Establish a place (many novelists has lost the art of establishing a setting)

9. Characters make your story (newer writers often want to focus strictly on plot, but strong characters are what add depth and texture to a story)

10. Understand what makes superb writing (great themes, the deep questions, wrestling with morality, decision making, choices that may not be correct)

11. Learn to organize your life (in the words of management guru Bobb Biehl, everybody needs a calendar, an address system, a filing system, and a "To Do" list)

12. Learn to partner "a big idea" with "great writing" and "a solid platform" (publishers want all three)

13. What is unique about your idea? (Solomon was right -- the writing of books is endless, so figure out what is different or special or fresh about yours... If you can't answer the "so what?" question, you're in trouble.)

14. Establish your voice (the hardest thing to do in writing, but the single most important step to becoming successful)

15. Network so that you can create strong relationships with other authors, with editors, and with publishers (it's who you know in publishing...just like every other business)

16. Know your audience (books are read by individuals, so know exactly which individual is going to be reading your book)

17. Create perfect proposals (work to create a proposal your publisher can't say "no" to)

18. Seek to understand the market (you don't have to be driven by trends, but it's important to know what they are)

19. Understand what helps writing sell (fiction is for entertainment, nonfiction is for education, but great writing for either should change me)

20. Know how to sell (your book, your idea, your self)

21. Establish a relationship with a good agent (there are some lousy agents out there, but a good agent can help shape your career as much as any choice you'll make)

22. Know how to plan a writing career (how to write, what to write, when to write, who to write to, how to move forward, and when to go full time)

23. Be able to read through a publishing contract (understand what you're signing and what it means)

24. Be able to negotiate (even agented authors need some basic negotiating tools)

25. Work hard at marketing (the author is the person most responsible for marketing the book, not the publisher, the editor, the sales team, the publicist, or the marketing director)

26. Know how to manage your money (writing is feast and famine...knowing how to fill in the gaps is a really handy ability)

27. Understand yourself and your writing (plan your work and work your plan)

28. Politeness counts (express appreciation to others -- success should be matched by grace)

29. Learn to give back (every good writer is a mentor who carries on the craft by investing in a protege)

30. Keep perspective on your life and work (publishing doesn't make you smart or pretty or holy; getting your name in print doesn't validate your life)

There you go -- my list of things I'd share with you. If this interests you, I encourage you to pick up a copy of Carolyn See's wonderful little book Making a Literary Life. In it, she encourages authors to write 1000 words and send a "charming note" each day. If you only did those two things, you'd probably be miles ahead of the pack. Maybe the best advice I know.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

My Mother's Child Blog Tour


March 2, 2010
Real Talk With Tanya White Radio Show (8:40-8:55 p.m. EST)
(347) 215-6446

March 3, 2010
Abundant Solutions (9:00 p.m. EST)
(718) 508-9600

March 4, 2010
WordThirst Literary Online Radio Show (8 p.m. EST)
(347) 324-3749

March 5, 2010
Chocolate Pages Show (6:00 p.m. EST)

April 26, 2010
From The Heart & Soul" with Lady Serenity (7:00 p.m. EST)


March 1
All the Buzz Reviews

Urban Christian Fiction Today

Tia's Pen

Sharon Ball

March 2
RAWSistaz Literary Group

Mom Unplugged

Let Us Bear Fruit

I Read ...

March 3

Simpy Said Reading Accessories

Wanda B. Campbell

March 4
Joey Reviews

The Certain Ones

Faygo's Report

March 5
APOOO Book Club

Paulette Harper

Loving Heart Mommy

Saturday, January 16, 2010

EDC Creations Literary Hallmarks 2009: 100 Adult Power Reads of the Decade

EDC Creations Literary Hallmarks 2009: 100 Adult Power Reads of the Decade

Ella Curry and EDC Creations is proud to announce the 100 Best Books of the Decade. Each book created an impact for readers and the Sankofa Literary Society network. Our literary hallmarks indicate excellence in writing. These are the books we want to showcase to the world.

Readers please take a moment and examine the list below. There is something for all book lovers! The books are NOT listed in any order pertaining to the quality of the literature—they are all 4-5 star reads. Each book on this list will bring something of value to enrich the lives of the readers and to help to strengthen our future generations. ENJOY!

100 Adult Power Reads of the Decade: 2000-2009

1. America I AM Legends by Smiley Books

2. Audacity of Hope by President Barack Obama

3. Mandela: The Authorized Portrait by PQ Publishers Ltd

4. Chicken Soup for the African American Woman's Soul by Jack Canfield and Lisa Nichols

5. The Covenant with Black America by Tavis Smiley

6. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

7. You Must Set Forth at Dawn by Wole Soyinka

8. Jewels: 50 Phenomenal Black Women Over 50 by Michael Cunningham and Connie Briscoe

9. Coming Together by Harriette Cole

10. Like Trees Walking by Ravi Howard

11. Tropical Fish: Tales From Entebbe by Doreen Baingana

12. Medical Apartheid by Harriet A. Washington

13. What Becomes of the Brokenhearted: A Memoir by E. Lynn Harris

14. Down the Aisle in Style by Chamein Canton

15. May December Souls by Marissa Monteilh

16. The Measure of a Man by Sidney Poitier

17. Friends: A Love Story by Angela Bassett and Courtney Vance

18. What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day by Pearl Cleage

19. The Baron Son by William R. Patterson

20. Reallionaire by Farrah Gray

21. Girl Get Your Credit Straight by Glinda Bridgeforth

22. Voodoo Season by Jewell Parker Rhodes

23. Standing at the Scratch Line by Guy Johnson

24. All Aunt Hagar's Children by Edward P. Jones

25. The Senator and The Socialite by Lawrence Otis Graham

26. Life is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper

27. Criss Cross by Evie Rhodes

28. Brothers and Sisters by Bebe Moore Campbell

29. Man of Fantasy by Rochelle Alers

30. This Bitter Earth by Bernice L. McFadden

31. Not Easily Broken by T.D. Jakes

32. Cruisin' On Desperation by Pat G'Orge-Walker

33. Big Spankable Asses by Kimberly Kaye Terry

34. Gettin' Buck Wild: Sex Chronicles II by Zane

35. Standing Against the Wind by Traci L. Jones

36. Unconditionally Single by Mary B. Morrison

37. Casanegra by Blair Underwood

38. The Aftermath by Anna J.

39. Them by Nathan McCall

40. Diary of a Mistress by Miasha

41. Growing Up Girl by Michelle Sewell

42. The Hand I Fan With by Tina Mcelroy Ansa

43. Sugar by Bernice L. McFadden

44. A Taste Of Sin by Fiona Zedde

45. Passin' by Karen E. Quinones Miller

46. Living, Breathing Lies by Gloria Mallette

47. Thong on Fire: An Urban Erotic Tale by Noire

48. Dark Sons by Nikki Grimes

49. 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

50. Nina's Got A Secret by Brian W. Smith

51. Leaving Atlanta by Tayari Jones

52. Open My Eyes, Open My Soul by Yolanda King and Elodia Tate

53. Girl Get Your Child Support by Cathy Middleton

54. Seasons by Bonnie Hopkins

55. The Just Us Girls by Evelyn 'Slim' Lambright

56. Child of God by Lolita Files

57. Can't Get Enough by Connie Briscoe

58. Joplin's Ghost by Tananarive Due

59. Gather Together in My Name by Tracy Price-Thompson

60. Casting The First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby

61. The Darkest Child: A Novel by Delores Phillips

62. I Say a Little Prayer by E. Lynn Harris

63. Baby Brother's Blues by Pearl Cleage

64. The Living Blood by Tananarive Due

65. Deadly Sexy by Beverly Jenkins

66. Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill

67. My Sister's Ex: A Novel by Cydney Rax

68. Fifth Born by Zelda Lockhart

69. Divorcing the Devil by Dwan Abrams

70. What Doesn't Kill You: A Novel by Deberry and Grant

71. I Know I've Been Changed by ReShonda Tate Billingsley

72. Watercolored Pearls: A Novel by Stacy Hawkins Adams

73. She Ain't The One by Mary B. Morrison

74. Something On The Side by Carl Weber

75. Dutch by Teri Woods and Kwame Teague

76. Black and Ugly by T. Styles

77. A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines

78. The Blacker the Berry by Lena Matthews

79. Gonna Lay Down My Burdens by Mary Monroe

80. Sexual Healing by Jill Nelson

81. A Day Late and a Dollar Short by Terry McMillan

82. The Hotel Alleluia by Lucinda Roy

83. Victoria's Secret by Jason Poole

84. The Prisoner's Wife by Asha Bandele

85. Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley

86. Countering the Conspiracy to Destroy Black Boys by Jawanza Kunjufu

87. Cream by by Solomon Jones

88. Little Ghetto Girl by Danielle Santiago

89. Gutter: A Novel by K'wan

90. No Girl Needs a Husband Seven Days a Week by Nina Foxx

91. A New Kind of Blue by Bettye Griffin

92. Dubious by Tina Brooks McKinney

93. Maneater by Mary B. Morrison and Noire

94. Sweets: Soul Food Desserts and Memories by Patty Pinner

95. On The Run With Love by J. M. Benjamin

96. In Cahootz by Quentin Carter

97. Fearless Jones by Walter Mosley

98. Gabriel's Story by David Anthony Durham

99. Right Side of the Wrong Bed by Frederick Smith

100. Just Us Girls: The Contemporary African American Young Adult Novel by Wendy RountreePlease rate the article. What to you think?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

2010 Book Tour Schedule

It's that time again. New book, another tour. I'm excited about my upcoming release, My Mother's Child. Hope to see you along the way. Peace & Blessings!

February 23--Official release date for My Mother's Child--Please be sure to pick up a copy!

March 6--My Mother's Child Book Release Party, J.P. Carr Community Center, 981 Taylor St., Conyers, GA 30012, 2:00-4:00 p.m.

March 20--Renaissance Book Club Meeting, Jackson, MS

April 17--Ladies of the Dove Literary Festival, Brewton-Parker College Liberty County auditorium, Hinesville/Ft. Stewart, GA, 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.

April 24--Black Bestsellers Bash, Southwest Regional Branch Library, 3665 Cascade Rd. SW, Atlanta, GA 30331, 2:00 p.m.

April 25--Wanda's Way Radio Interview, 12:00 (noon) EST

April 25--SBS Book Club Meeting, Columbus, GA

April 27--Pages of Grace Book Club Meeting, Atlanta, GA

May 15--Words of Inspiration (WOI) Book Club Meeting, Atlanta, GA

June 23-26--Presenter at the Black Writers Reunion & Conference, W Atlanta Perimeter Hotel, Atlanta, GA

Friday, January 1, 2010

2010 Resolution Handbook for Happiness

This is a repost from Star Jones's blog. It was so good that I felt the need to share.

I am resolving right now that 2010 is going to be a year to show RESPECT, extend KINDNESS, grow in LOVE, and PRAISE GOD for his goodness and mercy! For all those in agreement, join me by taking the pledge to use this 50 point "handbook" to improve your HEALTH, polish your PERSONALITY, strengthen our SOCIETY and perfect our LIVES.


1. Drink plenty of water.
2. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar.
3. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.
4. Live with the 3 E's -- Energy, Enthusiasm and Empathy
5. Make time to pray every single day.
6. Play more games.
7. Read more books than I did in 2009.
8. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.
9. Sleep for 7 hours.
10. Take a 10-30 minute walk daily; and while I
11. Not compare my life to others because I have no idea what their journey is all about.
12. Say "I love you" to my partner...because I do.
13. Not have negative thoughts about things that I cannot control.
14. Invest my energy in the positive present moment.
15. Not over do it.
16. Focus on my health...because in the end...that's all that matters.
17. Make more donations to those less fortunate because regardless of my situation...I'm not missing any meals or sleeping on the street.
18. Not take myself so seriously; because no one else does.
19. Exercise more and talk about exercise less.
20. Not waste my precious energy on gossip.
21. Dream more while I'm awake.
22. Remember that envy is a waste of time. I already have all that I need.
23. Forget issues of the past.
24. Not remind my family, friends or partner of his/her mistakes of the past.
25. Not ruin my present happiness.
26. Remember that life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
27. Make peace with my past so it won't spoil my present.
28. Be in charge of my own happiness.
29. Realize that life is a school and I am here to learn and problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class; but the lessons I learn will last a lifetime.
30. Smile and laugh more.
31. Not have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
32. Call my family more often.
33. Give something good to others each day.
34. Remove all toxic people, places and things from my life.
35. Forgive everyone for everything...because it's not that deep.
36. Spend time with people over the age of 70 & under the age of 6.
37. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
38. Stay in my own lane and out of other people's business.
39. Stop worrying about what other people think of me because it is none of my business.
40. Remember that my job won't take care of me when I'm sick. My family & friends will; so I need to stay in touch with folk who matter in my life.
41. Do the right thing!
42. Call my parents...just to say thank you.
43. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
44. Open myself up to new experiences that take me out of my comfort zone.
45. Organize my personal space because excellence cannot operate in chaos.
46. Know that no matter how good or bad a situation is, it can and will change.
47. No matter how I feel...I will get up, dress up and show up.
48. Open my eyes every morning and when I realize that I am still alive; I will thank GOD for it.
49. Remember that God is in I will let go and let God!
50. End my day with a prayer of thanksgiving because God has already promised that the best is yet to come.