Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Editor's Rant

As a freelance editor, there's nothing more frustrating than reading a story that lacks focus, has underdeveloped characters, or reads like a draft. Too often authors finish the last sentence of their first draft and immediately think they are ready to work with an editor. That's not the case. The editor's role isn't to rewrite the story, or give the author a crash course in the art of writing. No, no, no. Novel writing is a lot like baking a cake. The story idea makes up the ingredients. Writing the first draft is mixing the ingredients together. Rewriting and tweaking the storyline is the baking process. Turning the manuscript over to the editor is the icing on the cake. The icing completes the cake by giving it a better presentation and a sweeter taste, but even without it, the cake is still edible.

New authors often make the mistake of thinking that writing is a solo effort. That's not true. Creating a great story requires input from other writers and readers. Writers should belong to a writers or critique group. The honest and raw feedback provided from the group will help one grow as a writer.

Writers definitely need to hone their skills by taking writing related courses, attending writing workshops, and reading craft books. I get embarrassed for authors who don't take the time to learn their craft. They are doing themselves and their readers a disservice. An author should be familiar with terms like: allegory, alliteration, antagonist, character, dialogue, flashback, genre, hyperbole, irony, metaphor, motif, narrator, point of view, protagonist, setting, simile, and theme. When an editor tells an author that they are "head-hopping" throughout the manuscript, or add tone/expression, or vary up the sentence structure, the author should know what the editor means.

Another big thing with new authors is telling instead of showing. Too much telling makes a manuscript feel rushed. Manuscripts should flow and have a rhythm. Also, characters should not be robotic, they should be placed in scenes emotionally.

I could go on and on, but it would take way more detail than I'd be able to provide on a blog. Therefore, if you're serious about being a writer, take the time to study the craft and hone your skills. Don't rush to finish your manuscript. Take your time and write a quality piece. It'll save you time, money, and heartache on the back end. You may be wondering how can that be. I'll tell you. If you want to be traditionally published, a quality manuscript could save you time from being rejected over and over again. If you hire an editor to clean up a poorly written manuscript, the price goes way up. The heartache comes in from having your work rejected repeatedly.

Should you decide to self-publish without putting in the work on your manuscript, you may be forced to pull your poorly written book and rewrite it. That would take time, cost you money, and break your heart.

Some of the best writers are students. They are always learning. Whether in a classroom or independent study, they are open to learning, and you should be too.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Saturday, July 9, 2011

What's New

Last week I went to New Orleans to participate in the First Annual Bayou Soul Writers Conference. I'm usually skeptical about first year conferences, BUT I must admit that Clarence Nero did a wonderful job with that conference. I had a great time catching up with some writer friends, as well as forming some new relationships. And of course, any reason to go to New Orleans is a good one. So thumbs up to the Bayou. I'd definitely attend again.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


This past week, I had the pleasure of attending the 2nd Annual Book Clubs Unite in Jackson, MS. I enjoyed spending time with book clubs that I already had relationships with, as well as getting introduced to new book clubs.

The support of book clubs should never be underestimated or taken for granted. As a writer, I get so much joy out of attending book club meetings and events. I find myself forging literary friendships and spending a whole lot of time laughing and eating.

Just to give you a glimpse of the fun I had at this particular event, I'll give you some of the highlights. My literary husband and I revealed our writing collaboration, and the book club members loved it! They're already asking when is it coming out. On a funny note, one of the book club members got her shoe hooked in the cuff of her pants and tumbled in a very cutesy way to the ground. After I found out that she was all right, I laughed so hard my side hurt. Where's a video camera when you need one? That was simply priceless.

Seriously, though, I'm thankful to God to be at this point in my literary career. I've come so far, yet I have so much to look forward to. God is so good! And that's not a cliche'. That's for real, real.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Writing Process

As a full-time writer, I get many people asking me what is my process to creating a book. I usually laugh at that question. Not because it's funny; simply because there's nothing mystical or magical about the creative process. I don't have candles lit or music playing in the background. I will say that more often than not I'm in my pajamas and robe drinking a cup of green tea with my lap desk and laptop. Then I just write. Sometimes in silence, othertimes with the TV on low.

If my muse is visiting, then it's a great writing day. I can easily get a few thousand words written. Those are the days I boast on FB or Twitter that I've written 3,000 or more words.

I like to write when I don't feel the pressure of a deadline. Having deadlines isn't the problem. It's the procrastination leading up to the deadline that becomes a problem. When my publisher gives me a date to have my next book turned in, the date seems so far away. So instead of writing a little every day, I slack off, thinking I have plenty of time to get it done. Pretty soon, one year becomes six months, six months becomes three months, three months becomes a few weeks, and I still have 55,000 words to write. Pressure. And with pressure comes a little thing called writer's block.

Writer's block always seems to come at the most inopportune times, causing more stress than a little bit. Insomnia is often a result. Staying up half the night wouldn't be so bad, if the creative juices were flowing. Since halting the creative flow is writer's block's job, it becomes frustrating to say the least.

The next question would be how do I overcome writer's block? After many sleepless nights and feelings of anxiety, I force myself to write something...anything. Most of the time it's a slow start, but it's a start. If I'm still having problems, I start talking to my characters, hoping and praying that they talk back to me. At some point, they talk back.

Although I'm elated when my characters talk to me, they tend to change the story quite a bit from the original concept, making my pitch to my editor obsolete. My synopsis almost always has to be changed. Nonetheless, the book gets written, and I celebrate with a sparkly drink. Cheers!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Book Tour Schedule

2011 Events

April 9
Barnes & Noble--Cumberland, Local Author Day Book Signing, 2952 Cobb Parkway, Atlanta, GA 30339
1:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m.

April 16
2nd Annual Mississippi Book Clubs Unite, Old Capitol Museum, 100 South State Street, Jackson, MS
1:00-4:00 p.m.

April 23
Black Bestsellers Bash, Auburn Avenue Research Library, 101 Auburn Avenue NE, Atlanta, GA
2:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.

April 29-31
Romance Slam Jam
Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, 7032 Elm Road, Baltimore, MD
Panelist/Book Signing/Workshop Presenter

May 7
Atlanta Georgia Peach Authors Tour, Southwest Branch Library, 3665 Cascade Rd. SW, Atlanta, GA 30331, Book Signing
11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.

May 7
Empowerment Workshop: Represent Your Company at All Times Through Your Actions, East Point Branch Library, 2757 Main Street, East Point, GA 30344
3:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.

May 21
Second Saturday Book Club Meeting (Time & Location TBD)

May 24
Total Grace Book Club Meeting, 4000 Covington Highway, Decatur, GA 30032
6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.

June 26
Atlanta Georgia Peach Authors Tour, 30 Books in 30 Days Hammonds House Event
2:00 p.m.

July 16
Atlanta Georgia Peach Authors, Ft. Benning, GA

June 30-July 1
Bayou Soul Writers & Reader's Conference
Holiday Inn Downtown Superdome, 330 Loyola Avenue, New Orleans, LA

Past 2011 Events:

February 12
Fairfield Baptist Church, 6133 Redan Rd., Lithonia, GA
Book Signing at 9:45 a.m.-11:45 a.m.

When the Fairytale Ends

2nd Book in the Married Series...Excerpt:


A bitter, coppery taste filled his mouth and his tongue felt like one huge swollen blister lolling around. Battering rams seemed to simultaneously slam against both his temples. He wasn’t sure if his eyes were open or not because whether open or closed, he seemed to be swimming in darkness, a darkness that was so utterly black, the fear of being blind constricted his heart. He tried to take in a deep breath, but it felt like slabs of concrete were compressing his chest.

“So you finally decided to rejoin the land of the living?”

That voice. Female. Familiar. It wasn’t a stranger’s voice. He tried to place the voice, but the battering rams in his head banged louder. He gritted his teeth against the excruciating migraine pain and tried to reach for his head, only to realize that his hands were restrained at the wrists. Cold restraints. Metal restraints. He strained against the restraints until it felt like he had broken every piece of cartilage in his wrists. He felt the cold metal restraints around his ankles too. Rough, coarse rope kept his knees firmly glued together and the coarseness of the rope dug into the tender skin at the underside of his knees. Though he gave a good struggle, the most he managed to do was to scrape all the skin from around his ankles. But the rope didn’t give an inch.

“You should stop straining like that, Greg. You’re going to hurt yourself.”

There was that voice again. Close to his right ear. Vaguely familiar. And she knew his name.

He tried to place the voice but every time he started concentrating, the battering rams became deafening and pain reverberated back and forth from one to temple to the next. Opening his eyes as wide as he could, he strained to see through the darkness, and finally made out a pair of white eyeballs staring back at him. He licked lips that were Sahara dry and tried to wet his mouth so that he could speak. Only squeaks came out.


He nodded, then instantly regretted it. The battering rams exchanged themselves for band cymbals, pots and pans, fork tines against metal.

Greg felt something cold against his lips and he touched his chin to his chest, trying to sit up as much as he could to sip on the cool water. Each swallow felt like a ball of fire inching its way down his throat and his tongue felt ten sizes too big for his mouth. He scanned his mind, trying to figure out where he was, why was he was restrained, and who was this woman with the voice and glass of water? And how did she know his name?

When he spoke, it sounded like his vocal chords had been grated with sandpaper, and his swollen tongue made him sound funny. “Who are you?”

He heard the smile in her voice. “I could be your fantasy, or your worst nightmare. Which would you prefer?”

Her words chilled his soul and raised goose bumps across his skin. He wet his lips again. “Where am I?”

“Ocho Rios. How could you forget so soon that we’re in Jamaica?”

As soon as she said the words, everything started coming back to him. The money from the will. The trip. His wife. His wife. His wife.

“Where’s Shania? Where’s my wife? Is she okay? What have you done to her?”

“Shut up and settle down,” the woman said, and Greg felt her fingernails start at the inside of his ankle and graze up his leg to his crotch area. She had stripped him of all his clothes. “That little mutt of yours is in good hands. She hasn’t been hurt, and she won’t be as long as you cooperate with us.”

“Cooperate with who? Who are you? What do you want from me?” Greg wasn’t sure which beat louder, his head or his heart. But he knew this much; if they so much as harmed a hair on Shania’s head, even though the Bible said thou shall not kill, God was going to have to forgive him on this one.

“You know exactly what we want, Greg. We want what you stole from us.”

Who is ‘us’? And what in the world had he ‘stolen’? He wasn’t a thief; the only thing he could ever remember stealing was grapes from the local grocery store and that was only because he nibbled on them throughout the store so that when he paid for them, they wouldn’t weigh as much. But other than that, what had he stolen? He wasn’t a taker, he was a giver. They must have him confused with somebody else; that’s what it had to be. They—whoever they was— must have the wrong person.

“You got the wrong person,” he squeaked out. “I swear. It’s not me. I’ve never stolen a thing before in my life.”

Again, her demonic laughter filled the room. “You sure about that, Greg?”

How in the world did she know his name?

“Think long and hard about that.” He listened to her footsteps as she walked around the bed—because that’s what he figured he must’ve been tied down to—and placed her lips merely centimeters away from his left ear. “You stole something from us. And you can either give it to us the easy way,” her claws shot out and grabbed his testicles and she twisted until a scream ripped from his throat, “or the hard way. Whichever you prefer.” She let go of his precious jewels, and as bad as he wanted to hold himself, massage himself, shield himself, the restraints wouldn’t allow his hands to move.

Despite the throbbing in his head, he racked his brain, trying to recall his last memories before waking up in this hell hole. He remembered arriving at the island; he remembered Shania and her horrible attitude; he remembered going to the bar, having a drink with two of the Jamaican guys he had met at the shore to relieve some stress. That was the last thing he remembered, sitting at the tiki bar with those two men, sipping a non-alcoholic pina colada. Though this woman’s voice sounded vaguely familiar, and he was sure if she turned on a light, he could identify her instantly, those two Jamaicans at the bar were complete strangers. He had never seen them a day before in his life. So why would they drug him? And that’s what had to have happened. That was the only explanation for his swollen tongue, the sour taste in his mouth, and this cataclysmic migraine.

But…but…but why would they do such a thing? They didn’t know him. Even though he was wealthy, he didn’t exude wealth. He had worn a pair of sandals, khaki shorts, and a plain white T-shirt. No flashy jewelry or anything of that sort. And he and Shania had stayed in a middle-class hotel. The hotel was breathtakingly beautiful, without a doubt, but it didn’t scream out: The People Who Room Here Are Rich! So why had they singled him out?

“I’ll give you time to think it over, Greg. But when I come back, you better be ready to talk business. You better be ready to agree to everything I ask for. Or else, I will bring your wife’s pretty little fingers to you one by one.”

“You touch her and I will kill you!”

“How? You’re going to spit on me to death? It’s not like you can move.”

Rage forced him to try his best to break through his shackles. He only succeeded in making his headache worse, scratching more skin off his ankles and wrists, and pulling a muscle in his left leg. He screamed out in fury and frustration, frightened for himself but even more frightened for his wife. What if they were lying? What if they had killed her already? And where were those two men? If they weren’t in here with him, that meant that they were in there with her. What had they done to her? What where they doing to her? His vivid imagination alone nearly sent him spiraling over insanity’s edge.

“Help!” he screamed at the top of his lungs. “Help! Somebody help! Help me! Somebody help!”

Something long, hard and cold muffled his screams. Even in the pitch black darkness, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to know that she had jammed the barrel of a gun into his mouth. But was it loaded or unloaded—that was the question. He wasn’t sure if he really wanted to find out.

“Pull another trick like that,” she growled, “and you’ll live to regret it. That’s if I let you live.” She shoved the gun deeper in his mouth, until the tip slid down the upper portion of his esophagus. He gagged and his stomach heaved. She snatched the gun out his mouth and he turned his head in just enough time to throw up.

“I’ll be back in an hour or two,” she said. He heard her footsteps retreat, heard a door squeak open before slamming shut. Then he counted at least three deadbolts click into place.

He sat in the dark silence, quiet, listening, making sure he was completely alone while he strained futilely to make out his surroundings. Once he was sure he was in the room by himself, he fought against the restraints with every ounce of his strength, even attempting to twist his arm out of the socket just to get loose. Finally, he gave up and yelled out from the pits of his soul. He held his breath for fear that the door would come open and she would jam the gun in his mouth and this time, pull the trigger. He held his breath in fear that the door would fling open and she’d be standing there, holding up one of Shania’s fingers to show him that her threats were by no means idle. But when seconds ticked by and became minutes, and minutes dragged by for what seemed like lifetimes, he figured he was “safe” for now and prayed that Shania was fine as well.

As he laid there, his arms shackled to either side of the bed, his legs tied at the knees and shackled at the ankles, he felt like a reincarnate of Jesus, just without the nails. Feeling utterly hopeless, hot tears slipped from his eyes and puddle in his ears as he stared up at the ceiling and whispered, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me…”

Coming April 2011. Pre-order your copy from Amazon today!