Sunday, February 28, 2010

Reviewing Now: Pat Simmons Still Guilty

As busy as I am, guess what?  I still review books. Today I am completing my review of Pat Simmons Still Guilty(Urban Christian, 14.95.) You can pick up a copy of the May issue of Romantic Times Magazine to read my review of this book.

I have a question for you. Do you use book reviews to determine if a book is worthy for purchase or reading?

NAACP Image Award Literary Work Winners Announced


-- Literary work, fiction: ''The Long Fall,'' Walter Mosley

-- Literary work, non-fiction: ''In Search of Our Roots: How 19 Extraordinary African Americans Reclaimed Their Past,'' Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

-- Literary work, debut author: ''A Question of Freedom,'' R. Dwayne Betts

-- Literary work, biography/autobiography: ''Michelle Obama,'' Deborah Willis

-- Literary work, instructional: ''Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man,'' Steve Harvey

-- Literary work, poetry: ''Bicycles,'' Nikki Giovanni

-- Literary work, children: ''Our Children Can Soar: A Celebration of Rosa, Barack, and the Pioneers of Change,'' Michelle Cook

-- Literary work, youth/teens: ''Michelle Obama: Meet the First Lady,'' David Bergen Brophy

Friday, February 26, 2010

Mandisa & Star Jones Weigh In This Weekend

Just when I was about to give up on losing weight, God throws me a life line. Mandisa and Star Jones will be featured on this weekend’s “Extra Lifechangers” segment chronicling their weight loss, exercise, healthy eating habits and more. In addition, a preview of the segment will air on today’s episode of “Extra.”

The “Extra Lifechangers” segment focuses on health and wellness. Each show, "Extra" airs a "Lifechangers" segment on groundbreaking therapies, alternative treatments, fitness secrets and more. To find out more information about “Extra Lifechangers” visit

WR: The Death of the Query System



This month I am trying out a new feature at Christian Fiction Blog called “Weekly Response/Weekend Chatter.” Instead of me blogging about everything Christian Fiction in the blogosphere I will share five key issues discussed along with my response to them. If you like this feature, let me know in the comments. If you would like to participate in the Weekly Responses use the hashtag #cfb in twitter or on facebook.

1. Does the Query System Work?

Literary Agent Rachelle Gardner responds blogs about writer complaints that the query system doesn’t work.

I actually think the query system works. It may be inefficient and time consuming, but it's incredibly democratic, which is something writers should appreciate. In the query system, everybody has access. All the other possible systems I've heard proposed are not nearly as democratic—they limit access somehow.

Some interesting comments came out of the discussion. The gist of them were that some believed the system was fine, because they had been successful and others don’t think the system works because they have not.

The main arguments were editors reject good books because based on the query they don’t think they can sell the book to the pocketful of editors they have business relationships with, that the agent won’t seek other editors—those they don’t know—to shop the book. Others thought the system wasn’t a sound business model, since the success rate of published books is around 15%.

My take, my personal take…

The query system works if you know how to work the system.

That’s not an opportunistic statement or a claim that I have cracked the code for query success. At DGP I offer proposal and query writing services, but I don’t guarantee a contract. That’s ludicrous.

What it means is that a writer must now understand the publishing business. And frankly, there’s no excuse that a writer shouldn’t in this day and age. The internet has afforded us a gateway into the publishing world. Literary agents, publishing house editors, literary publicists, industry insiders, bookstore owners are blogging and sharing this world to us. So why aren’t we taking advantage of it.

For the past two years I shopped my novel series to become published. In the beginning I submitted queries to agents and editors whom were referred to me or whom I personally knew. Every agent except one responded to my query. One. And I know these agents personally. One! The one agent told me that my writing had some work to do and thought it was too edgy for Christian fiction genre. Granted I have been reviewing Christian Fiction for Romantic Times and various other print publications for seven years and been a book critic and book awards judge for five. I know this genre like I know that I’m African-American. I have read and noted books released in CBA that shares the same theme, tone, and content that I had written. et…

But because I know this game. I know the words that is being said between the lines. What she meant was that the editors I close well with wouldn’t buy the book and don’t have the time or the resources to shop it to someone outside my circle. In short, I don’t know how to sell your book. Period.

Newsflash most agents don’t. Whether they want to believe it or not they have branded themselves. Editors know which agents will supply a certain type of author. The trick is finding an editor who is branded to shop your story.

Or you can shop the book yourself. I entered a writing contest, whereby the prize was to have my book read by an editor of a major publishing house. I won third place at last year’s Romance Slam Jam Contest. The contest facilitator gave me a referral to an editor whom I believed represented the publishing house that would champion my story.

Now this is where the tricky part came in. I had to submit a great query and proposal. I had to hire my own self to present my story to her in a language she would understand and with an answer to a question that all editors and agents want to know: Can we sell this book?

I answered the question in my proposal. She agreed. And now I have a 3 book deal.

It’s not as simple as I put it but the story behind the whole thing pretty much is.

A publisher’s goal is to sell books. The commercial writer’s goal is to sell their books. In order for both to achieve their goals they need each other. It’s like a convenient marriage. Therefore query process is sort of a flirt or pick-up line to see if there is a spark there between the two. Most publisher’s use agents as a sort of matchmaker. 

This last statement is the rub. The publishing industry took a big smack last year, which affected everyone’s bottom line. Thus, some agents I know have facilitated safe matches with their current clients, so they could remain solvent. It’s a survival game right now.

But what about the wannabes? What about the authors who have great books, but no agents willing to escort them to the ball?

For many writers this arrangement is like being the red-headed step child or the lovely swan princess or different. But they shouldn’t give up. They should dig in and continue writing.

As the publishing industry has changed and morphed and shifted it’s paradigm, then why haven’t literary agents shifted? Change is a top-down process with major institutions or a massive grassroots change at the bottom. Self-pubs have headed the grassroots movement below. The question you should ask yourself is if the query system doesn’t work, then what will work in the future? Because the writing on the wall is that authors will either have to hire someone like me to help them craft marcomm to publishers or become independent, upon which then they have to do everything on their dime. Because that’s what it boils down to. The bottom line.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

TPT: Deanne Gist & J. Mark Bertrand's Beguiled

This week's trailer park tuesday pick is Deanne Gist and J. Mark Bertrand's Beguiled. I am such a fan of both, Deanne and Mark. Mark also belongs to The Master's Artist Blog Collective where I write.

In the shadows of Charleston, someone is watching her... Rylee Monroe, a dogwalker in Charleston's wealthiest neighborhood, never feared the streets at night. But now a thief is terrorizing the area and worse, someone seems to be targeting her.

Reporter Logan Woods is covering the break-ins with the hope of publishing them as a true-crime book. The more he digs, the more he realizes this beguiling dogwalker seems to be at the center of everything. As danger draws ever closer, Logan must choose: Chase the girl, the story, or plunge into the shadows after the villain who threatens everything?

If you'd like to read the first chapter of Beguiled, go HERE

Spotlight: Dreams That Won't Let Go

Mmany times I receive emails from subscribers who have fallen in love with inspirational works written by people of various cultures and want more. So this year every week Christian Fiction Blog will introduce you to a great read that anyone can enjoy. I mean anyone, including those who don't share my faith.

This week we spotlight Stacy Hawkins Adams Dreams That Won't Let Go

Indigo Burns is excited. Her wedding preparations to the man of her dreams are underway, her photography career is a success, and her family seems to be doing better than ever—all except her brother Reuben, who nobody has seen in years. But that’s about to change.

When Reuben decides to move back home to Jubilant, Texas, he hopes to find healing with his sisters. But Indigo isn’t so sure their relationship can be mended. And when younger sister Yasmin makes a life-altering choice, it seems like only a miracle can put the Burns family back together.

Will these siblings – and the rest of their family - ever be able to love unconditionally and release each other to live their dreams?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday Motivation: News is my Muse

Mondays are hard days to write, especially blog. But if all else fails I do this writing exercise:
  1. I watch the news
  2. Jot down a story that intrigues me
  3. work up a story premise
it gets my juices going and sometimes help me with my current wip. For instance in my county I learned that one of our small cities, Monticello has lost its police department because of budget cuts. Immediately I thought about my character Angel. Would she contract with the county to bring in bail jumpers? Would crime go up? Would her bail jumpers hide out in that city? And low and behold I thought of another plotpoint for my second novel and a possible title. I'm excited, because after I turn in my novel in April, I have to turn in an outline in July. Today's exercise got me further along on both projects.

So here's some Monday motivation for you. Read your local paper and see what you dig up.

Dee is Miranda Parker

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Trailer Park Tuesday: Robin Carroll's Deliver Us from Evil

Today's Trailer Park Tuesday spotlight is Robin Carroll's Deliver Us from Evil.

A beautiful yet tough woman working in a beautiful yet tough setting, Brannon Callahan is a search and rescue helicopter pilot for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Strong faith and a decorated history of service have kept her one step ahead of on-the-job dangers, but there’s no precedent for what’s about to happen. After a blizzard takes down a small plane carrying U.S. Marshal Roark Holland (already haunted by a recent tragedy), Brannon must save him in more ways than one and safeguard the donor heart he’s transporting to a government witness on the edge of death. Otherwise the largest child trafficking ring in history—with shocking links from Thailand to Tennessee—will slip further away into darkness along the Appalachian Trail.

Woohoo Robin!

48 Guerilla Marketing Tips from Top PR Pros

I'm quoted in this week's American Express Small Business Site, Open Forum's 48 Guerilla Marketing Tips from Top PR Pros.
We’ve asked some of the most experienced public relations professionals to share their secrets on how to market a company on a small budget. Here are some of the best ways to use social media and word-of-mouth marketing to gain a competitive advantage in this tough economy. stated Senior Writer, Linsey Knerl
Read the list, copy it for your notes, and let me know what you thought of my tip.

Monday, February 15, 2010

How do I adjust my life to accomodate my dream?

After reading and rereading my publishing contract for a week I signed and mailed it. I would like to tell you that I celebrated or did some wild happy dance around my home, but I didn't. Instead I felt more serious and here's why:
  • Having a publishing contract = having a business investor.
    No matter how you slice a contract is a business relationship. Kensington Publishers believes my stories are profitable enough to invest in, and I believe that Dafina are the gatekeepers to my readership at large. I am very blessed that I have this relationship. These are the publishers I have wanted to notice me for a long time, but now we both have to deliver.
  • Having a publishing contract = having a commercial book to produce.
    I wrote a book a few years ago based on a few newspaper articles I wrote and a crush on a television actor who was the muse behind Justus. I had fun, but now it's my responsibility to do my best to create a fun re-readable experience for the reader. Take my word for it...this kind of writing is harder than it seems. I have ten thousand words to add to my manuscript

  • Having a publishing contract = rearranging my life again.
    I am a mom, girl friend, best friend, sister, teen mentor run a business, partner in my family business, and now have another responsiblity. I will have to reduce my clientele and decrease my social life, in order to be prepared for the release of my debut novel. I want to be available to my loved ones. I need to have time for myself. This year I realized I need sleep and I need to exercise every day even if its just for 15 minutes.
Of course this realization is the one that sticks with me the most. How do I adjust my life to accomodate my dream? Never thought I would have to ask myself that question? What are your thoughts?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Hallmark Greeting Card Contest: A Girl's Gotta Laugh

You already know that card stardom could be yours if you're a winner in the A Girl's Gotta Laugh contest. The winning cards will be sold on and the best of the best will be sold in stores across the country. That's some serious exposure...but that's not where it ends.

Your card could be on t.v.! Yeah, that's right. We've teamed up with our friends at Ovation t.v. to put one lucky winner's card in the bright spotlight. If your winning card is the chosen one, it will be featured in a commercial on Ovation t.v. You'll want to be sure to record that!

Get the full scoop and enter your winning card a.s.a.p!

I might try this. I won a few greeting card contest ten years ago with Dick Blick.

Tyler Perry 2010 Chairman's Award Winner

Tyler Perry is a tremendous inspiration to people on many levels,” said NAACP Board Chairman Julian Bond. “His remarkable life experiences, which inform his extraordinary body of work in film, television and stage, have also shaped his focus on significant charitable causes and civil-rights initiatives.”

This month Tyler Perry will receive the NAACP Chairman's Award this year. It is his first NAACP Image Award. Fox TV will air the NAACP Image Awards live on Friday, Feb. 26 from 8 to 10 p.m.

On another note: Mr. Perry will be a guest volunteer on this weekend's special edition of Extreme Makeover Home Edition.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Best African American Christian Valentine's Day Novels Announced

Happy Valentine's Day!!!

For the past month I have taken nominations for best christian fiction romance. Today the top nominees are announced as well as our Valentine's Day 2010 pick. Congratulations.
*not in any order
  1. Jacqueline Thomas Prodigal Husband
  2. Claudia Mair Burney Zora & Nicky
  3. Kendra Norman Bellamy For Love and Grave
  4. Reshonda Tate Billingsley The Pastor's Wife
  5. Sharon Ewell Foster's Passing By Samaria
  6. Tia McCollors A Heart of Devotion
  7. Vanessa Davis Griggs Promises Beyond Jordan
  8. Patricia Haley No Regrets
  9. Bishop T. D. Jakes Not Easily Broken
  10. Victoria Christopher Murray Temptation
Christian Fiction Blog's Valentine's Day 2010 New Book Spotlight is Kimberla Lawson Roby's New York Time's Bestseller Be Careful What You Pray For

Thursday, February 11, 2010

African-American Youth Bible Gift Pack Giveaway

Attention all youth ministry/community leaders, parents and teachers!

Do you know a young person that exemplifies strong Christian values and aspires to live in the word of God every day? Zondervan the leading publisher of children’s Bibles, is awarding a Bible prize pack to 50 deserving young people who exhibit these principles.

Submit your nomination TODAY! The deadline is February 28, 2010. Click here to nominate.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

SistahFaith – A Revolution of Restoration

clip_image002ABOUT DR. NAIMA JOHNSTON: Sistah Naima is a singer, speaker, educator and founder and CEO of Broken Box Ministries, a Christian entertainment and education company. Blessed to open for gospel great Dorinda Clark Cole as well as record her own CD, Naima lives in Fairborn, Ohio with her beloved Chihuahua Bianca, who is not spoiled, but abundantly blessed! To learn more about Dr. Johnston, visit her at




clip_image004Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people? (Jeremiah 8:22, NIV)
Twenty-five women, including Bunny Debarge, Sharon Ewell Foster, Stanice Anderson, Me, Claudia Mair Burney and Marilynn Griffith, tell their stories of coming full circle from tragedy to triumph. Each contributor keeps it holy, keeping it real in these raw, relevant tales of redemption and restoration. Think of it as Prozac for the Christian Woman’s Soul!
A twelve week study is included for churches and book clubs. Instructions provided on gathering your own SistahFaith circle.
Join the network of sistahs at
Check the tour schedule at


Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Trailer Park Tuesday: Duets Couple Devotional

In honor of Valentine's Day I thought Duets: John and Anita Renfroe's follow up Couples Devotional would be a great spotlight for this week's Trailer Park Tuesday. I'm single and I want the book after watching this trailer. I saw Anita live at Women of Faith and she is hilarious. So check this one out.

Monday, February 08, 2010

How will the Battle of Amazon Macmillan Affect Authors in the Ebook War?

Unless you've been on a vacation then you know that the publishing world shifted slightly on its axis when Steve Jobs announced the iPad last month. Honestly, when I watched the announcement online I had no clue that two days later Amazon and Macmillan would go to war and Hachette would join the battle with Macmillan a week later. But when Amazon quietly conceded this weeked to Macmillan, thereby raising the price of ebooks I wondered not what concessions Amazon was getting to seal this deal, but how would these changes affect authors?

Continue reading "How will the Battle of Amazon Macmillan Affect Authors in the Ebook War?"  at TMA»

Friday, February 05, 2010

Go Red: Save a Heart Tonight with Rhonda McKnight

This month is Heart Health Month.  This week is also my birthday week. As I said earlier, I owe my longevity to you guys and also my cardiologist super team and the American Heart Association. Tonight is the last night to support heart health and get a read at the same time. Hop over to Rhonda McKnight(whose birthday is tomorrow) Heart Health Online Book Tour. 10% of book purchases today will goto the American Heart Association. Go Red. Get a Great Read.

Weekend Chat: Will Hachette & Macmillan Agency Model help or hurt Amazon?


David Young, Hachette Book Group USA's CEO, sent an e-mail to agents Thursday announcing the company's decision to "transition to selling our e-books through an agency model," giving Macmillan an ally in its confrontation with Amazon. GalleyCat posted a copy of the letter. View it here.

The agency relationship will allow us to make more titles available to more consumers on more platforms. This expands the author's reach and readership, which is at the heart of what we do as a publisher. Ultimately, these new terms open doors to all online e-book service providers and create more avenues for delivering e-books to readers.
What do you think? And how will this affect readers and authors?

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Online Book Tour, Chat & Giveway Announcement


Next week Christian Fiction Blog will participate in an online book tour, not just as a tour spot, but as a member of the tour. Yep! My story "Short Ride to Sanctuary" will be featured in Sistahfaith: Real Stories about Pain, Truth & Triumph (Simon & Schuster, Feb 2, 2010.) More details about my part in the book will come down the pipeline next week. You can order the book here. I am available for interviews on your blog, Facebook page or twitter chat about the book and my story as well. I invite you to hitch onto the tour here. I will be giving away an autographed copy of the book and chatting with you live next week at the blog and on Facebook.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

Usually I'm not very excited about my birthday. Perhaps because I've always shared it with my brother, David. Happy Birthday, bro! But this year is special to me, because ten years ago my doctors said I wouldn't make it past two years. I made it and kept on making it. This month I have to take an exhaustive list of tests. It comes with the territory, but I'm good about it. I exceeded my expectations. My doctor's are happy with my progress and the ticking clock has been removed from their mouths about me. So this is a happy, happy birthday for me. I hope you share it with me today. I will be on Facebook hosting my own e-party so to speak. Thanks for being my friend and praying for my success.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Trailer Park Tuesday: The Graveyard Book

This week's Trailer Park Tuesday is the 2008 Newberry Award for children's literature, Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book

Monday, February 01, 2010

Monday Book Mention: Tiffany L. Warren's In the Midst of it All

This week's Monday Book Mention is Tiffany L. Warren's In the Midst of it All(Grand Central, Feb. 2010.)

Synopsis: All her life, Zenovia has struggled with the burden of caring for her schizophrenic mother, Audrey, alone. Until one day, God seems to offer support in the form of two members of a church called the Brethren of the Sacrifice, who knock at the women's door preaching an unconventional version of the Gospel. Despite having questions, Zenovia agrees to join the church along with her mother. Soon afterward, Audrey stops taking her medication when fellow churchgoers deem her illness a demonic possession. Unable to watch her mother's mental deterioration, Zenovia flees town, only to receive a fateful phone call several years later telling her of her mother's suicide. Heartbroken, Zenovia must now make a soul-altering choice: accept "God's will," or return home to confront the demons she's worked so hard to leave behind.


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