Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Big Promotion

I'm a writer. Love it! I've loved writing stories since before I was published. I would still write even if I would have never been published, but I'm thankful that I was. But there is a rub to being published. To having a book or books out there. "There" being the public space where others can read and then also critique your work. One, you want people to read what has taken you some time to create. As writers, we don't just sit down at the computer and have our creativity spill out onto the page in a free flowing purge. Sometimes that creative process is slow going. Days can go by without a creative spark to put down on that blank space in Word. Sometimes even...Gulp...weeks. But once the damn breaks, it's nirvana! Spatial Heaven! The Big O!

The other part of writing is having your book known to others. How in the hell are you supposed to do that? I'm  relatively new writer. I don't have a line of books in the public sphere. Four. And I am proud of those four. So proud in fact, I framed them, and put them on my wall. Other authors have several series out, and my envy. They market their books. Promote them to the point where they have a following, and books sales that can support them financially. Again, envy. I envy authors that can promote their books with ease. I haven't the slightest idea of how to go about that. It's the rub I was speaking about earlier in a writer's career. You write what you think is a pretty good story, but short of driving around in your car and throwing books onto people's doorsteps 
, book promotion isn't as simple as it probably should be.
There are professional book promotion services. But they come with a cost $$$, and sometimes $$$$$$. Get the picture? And it isn't permanent. That comes in the form of an agent, who would then take 10-15% or more of your sales. Of course there's Twitter, and Facebook, and Amazon, and submitting your book, your baby, your miraculous creation that came from your imagination to a reviewer so they can critique, and pick it apart to the point of dried bones in the desert!!! And then they'll give your baby one, tiny, little, pitiful star. Leaving your to cry, rocking yourself in the fetal position, alone in your room, because  your baby, your book wasn't well received by some stranger.

Promotion is the bane of a writer. And if I were trying to be the next Tia Louise, Maya Banks, or Laurell K. Hamilton I would be worried about promotion. To me, it's kind of like a child. You want your child to be successful. Your push them (gently) toward the right path and hope they'll succeed in school, go on to college, and maybe be that doctor, lawyer, or next President. But maybe school was hard for them. They graduated (barely), and then went to community college for more than the average two years, to become the best manager Walmart has seen. You don't love them any less. You're proud of them. Maybe no one knows how good they are, because they aren't a lawyer, or they aren't on TV every night welcoming you to Nightline, or well-known for their courageous acts overseas. They're still your baby, and you gaze at them with pride and love. 
And the first person that says anything bad about your baby will have to deal with you!

So, I don't promote like I should. It comes down to the rock or the hard place. Spend time promoting my books in hopes of garnering that New York Times Bestseller accolade, which then comes with it's own share of problems (book signings, travelling away from the family, maybe a movie deal where they cast your main characters totally against what they should look like...Sorry, I digress), or slow sales where you don't become rich, and more time to write what you like even though few will know who you are. Hmmmm.

I've always told my kids that there was a difference between a job and a career. A job pays the bills. It may not be what you like to do, and you may even hate it. A career is something that you love to do. It may pay well, or not. But the reason you're doing it isn't because of the money. You just love to do it. That's how I see writing. I can promote to get more sales, and bring in more money. That would be great. I won't lie, it would be.  But I didn't begin this journey to grab the bucket of gold and run. I want to tell a story. if people like it...Yay. If not...Okay. Maybe I'll begin promoting my books in the future. Maybe not. But right now, I'm going to end my rant, and write. I have too many characters yelling in my head for attention. Too many stories clamoring to get out. I'm going to go and write a story.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I'm Not Hyphenated

This will more than likely piss some people off, but I really don't care. It's my own personal opinion, and this is my blog. Let me start by saying that I'm a women of a certain age. I'm older. Not ancient! Just older, in my fifties. Because of that, I remember a time when the term African-American was called Black. And Black people were proud of that. James Brown had us saying, "Say it loud, I'm Black and I'm proud!" But then something happened. In the early 90's there became this notion that the only way a Black person could be proud was to embrace that side of their ancestry. That one side. As a Black woman, I can't do that. There are so many sides, ethnic sides of my biological makeup that I don't want to exclude. And that is what I would be doing by taking up the African-American mantra.
Now, some Black people might look at me and say, "Oh, you're just not proud of where you came from." I'm very proud of where ALL of my ancestors came from. But they weren't only from Africa. Some were from France. Some were already in what would become America, the Native Indians. Some were intermixed with people from all over Europe and even South America if I'm so inclined to delve deep into my ethnic makeup. But if someone were to ask what "race" or "ethnicity" I come from, I wouldn't hesitate to say that I am a Black woman.
You see, for me latching onto the PC bandwagon and announcing that I'm African-American, makes me a hyphenated American. I'm an American that happens to be Black. I don't go around saying Italian-American, English-American, Asian-American, or Hispanic or Latino-American. So I wonder why in the case of Blacks in America we have decided to extricate ourselves from the whole of being American, to a separateness. We have since the early 90's pushed ourselves into a separate category solely based on the pigment of our skin.
I for one, have never been to Africa. Yet, the exclusionary measurement of being African-American is due to being able to trace your ancestral lineage to those Africans that were brought over to the New America as slaves, and by the pigment of our skin. But as a people, Blacks know that is not the only ethnic makeup we share. As an race, we are intermixed with so many different ethnicities; French, Native Indian, German, Spanish, English, Nordic, it spans the globe. So again I ask, why do we embrace ONE part of our ethnicity, yet reject all others?
During slavery, there was a "one-drop" rule. If it was found that a person had what could be deemed a drop of Black blood, they were deemed Black. That meant that if your Great-great-great grandmother was Black, then guess what Gordon, so were you. It didn't matter that you looked White, your wife was White, your children were White, they weren't any longer. That rule was demeaning to Blacks, because it delineated their ethnicity as something impure. Being mixed with Black was akin to being dirty.
Yet today, Black America has gone back to embracing that one-drop rule. If you are mixed with any other race it isn't relevant. Your are to check the box that says African-American. One drop. I'm not ashamed of being Black. I embrace my heritage whether it comes from African slaves, French immigrants, or Native Indians that were in America long before it was known as America. What I won't embrace is the exclusionary moniker that tells me to pick one. ONE! And because of the color of my skin, it better be African-American. But I pose a question. What do you call a White person from Africa that emigrates to America and becomes a citizen? An African-American? I refuse to be a hyphenated American. Say it loud! I'M BLACK AND I'M PROUD!!!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

My Writing Journey

It's been some time since I blogged about anything. I've been so in to writing. Sometimes I feel so inadequate at what I'm doing. I read what other's say on Facebook, and how many books they've written and I admit I feel jealousy. I wonder, how in the hell did they get such a following? How do you get people to read your books?
This is something that isn't taught to you, or anything you ever worry about when you sit down to write your first book. I know for me, I wasn't thinking about gaining a following. I just knew that it felt good to get those words, those stories out of my head.
It was a relief in a way. But then I FINALLY sent a book in. Glory! Glory! They wanted to publish it! But then what? I didn't know what I was suppose to do after that. Do people--readers automatically verge into the lane of new authors and start reading your work? No, they do not. It's quite the opposite it seems. To me it's almost as though readers are careening around to avoid a new author. the unknown debris in the street they've been driving down for years.
They tell you to promote your book. I might as well go around with a giant, red, question mark over my head at hearing that. Promote? How? Get business cards. Okay. Get a blog. Done. Get a website. Got it. Join this site! Join that site! Join this association and that one, and, and, and, and!!!!!!!! STOP! I just wanted to write. But now I feel as though I should have taken a business course at the local college. Writing makes me happy. I like being happy. Trying to navigate the difficult nuances of promotion does not make me happy. I want to be one of those authors that have readers waiting with bated breath for that next book by their favorite author.
And speaking of that. What sells? I get advice from all angles. Write a series. Write what other erotica authors write, ménage books, or supernatural, or BDSM. I like to write what comes out of my head. But then comes that feeling of inadequacy. Should I fall in line and churn out books to sell them?
Or should I write what makes me happy and wait. I suppose it's kind of like the saying, "If you build it, they will come," or "If I write it, they will read", right? It hasn't been a year yet since my first was published. I'm thankful to have had it published, and my second, and my third. I guess I should just stop the belly-aching and be patient. And if I have envy of other authors with their many followers, I should thank them. I am thankful, because to be in the company of such accomplished authors is something I never thought I would experience. Oh yeah, and get that Twitter account too!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Regret can be fattening

So, I was sitting at the laptop (duh), and looking through some of the books I have written over the years. I started writing back in '98. I had all of these stories in my head that I just had to get out. It's like I focused on one storyline over and over, and if I didn't put it down it would slowly drive me crazy. I found one of those books that listed publishers in them. Back then you sent a query in with a sample of your work and then waited for them to get back to you whether or not they thought you were worthy enough for them to look at your entire work. I received a letter back from the publisher asking me how I could write something so vile and believe that it would be published. The publisher book I had been looking at, I'd gotten from a second-hand book store, and the publisher had since changed to publishing only Christian romance. I do not write Christian romance. The thing is, I never sent any of them in again. I suppose that one letter hit me with so much self-doubt I just didn't try again. I would write them, and then...Nothing. I would just set it aside into a file, and go on to the next story banging away in my brain.

But after I sent the first one in, and miraculously it was published, I started to think, "Hey, maybe I should send something else in?" Maybe I could get something else published, and then something else, and another, and another, and... And it happened! I had another one published! Maybe I'm onto something here.
But I had all of these other stories in my head. I wanted to get some of my older stuff published but, ideas keep flooding my head.Then I go back and look at the stuff I wrote sixteen years ago, and I'm not satisfied with any of it. I was in a different place back then. I was a different person. So what to do? Should I erase those files? Gulp! No!

So, now I'm in the process of revising all of those books. And there are a lot of them. Around a dozen or so before technology starts to pick up with cell phones being used on the reg', and the invention of the tablet (OMG, I just said invention), and laptops instead of desktops all of the time. And I sit thinking about what if? What if I hadn't been such a wuss, back in the day and had sent something else in to another publisher? It's regret. I could spit it out and just get on with it, or I could sit choking on it. It's that dilemma after you've purchased the elliptical. You can look at it every once in a while and just dust it on Saturdays, or you can get on the damn thing!

So, I only sat thinking about this for a few. I could wallow in regret, thinking about what if, what, if what if? Or, I could just let it go ( and I will not sing that song either), and get on with what I love to do. I love to write.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Why plus size?

So, I'm watching the tube and a commercial comes on. It's one of those Victoria Secret commercials that's supposed to be about the bra the women are wearing. Yeah, right. They're pouting into the camera, and whispering, like that's going to tell any woman that the bra will support her boobs. So, whatever floats your boat. The thing is, Lane Bryant had a commercial on with plus size women wearing lingerie. They weren't pouting for the camera, or whispering like they were in some Skinamax movie. They were planning their wardrobes and such. But here's the thing, they removed that commercial from the airwaves because they said it was too provocative. What?
So Victoria's Secret can have size twos strutting their stuff for the camera, but having a fuller figure is too provocative? Or perhaps they should say what they mean. The fuller figures are just too damn sexy. Yeah, I said it. Society can wax on and on all they want about how a fuller figure isn't sexy, but we all know better. There is a size for every body and every body has a size.
You might ask why am I venting? Well, here it is. I was once told years ago (I won't say who said it, but suffice it to say it was a large publishing company I had sent a query letter to with three initials) that writing about plus size characters was a waste of time because no one will want to read about that subject. It was a fetish. There was no genre for the type of book I wrote. I didn't stop writing, but I was reluctant to send anything in for years!
I was an avid reader of romance. Sandra Brown, Nora Roberts, Danielle Steele, were some of my favorite authors. But I couldn't connect to the characters. They were all small, petite, white, and rich. I'm not saying it was a bad thing. I enjoyed reading their books. But they were too perfect. I started to think that love couldn't be possible unless you fit into that mold. I became disenchanted. But it was the spark I needed to pick up a pen and write what I wanted to read. And it actually was a pen. My first book I ever wrote was longhand on a set of five, one-inch thick, legal notepads.
I also write about interracial, multiracial, biracial characters. Why? Because the world is too diverse to limit ourselves to one race, ethnicity, or culture. So, this goes out to all black women who believe that since I am a black woman I should only write about black characters. I embrace diversity, sensuality, love, and eroticism for every woman but especially for the plus size woman that has always felt forgotten, or not sexy enough to attract the hunky man in the book they were reading. My characters aren't a size two. They might be a size 14, 16, 18, or a beautiful size 20.