Monday, October 31, 2011

Learning to close the door

No, this entry is not about sex. It's about a timely post by Lisa Unger on getting your writing done without distractions, something I struggle with daily. Check out what she has to say here:

Please come back on Wednesday, when I will feature Christy Hayes, a fantastic indie novelist.

Have a great day, especially those of you in the Northeast who have a snow day on Halloween!!!!!

In the News

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sample Sunday

Here's a little Hot Fun for a chilly fall Sunday. Hot Fun in the Summertime is a contemporary women's fiction story featuring an ensemble cast.

Seven very different singles – four women and three men – rent a New Jersey beach house for the summer: author Shontae Nichols, self-employed accountant and realtor, Linda Harris, Linda’s sister, hip-hop video dancer Kinnik Watkins, cosmetologist, Jovita Blassingame, Calculus professor Curtis “Doc” Whetstone, actor and drama instructor, Kip Lee, and new housemate, up and coming film actor, Devon Burke.

During their two month stay, romances bloom, friendships are tested and when a tragedy strikes one of the housemates, they all learn the answer to the age-old question: Can men and women ever be just friends?

Scene setup: Beach housemate Linda's goal for the summer is to convince her sister, Kinnik to reconsider her questionable career.

- - - - - - - - - - -

I left the sunroom and climbed the steps to Kinnik and Jo’s room at the top of the landing. Jo’s good-natured cackle drifted through the door.

“Enter, Lin,” my sister responded, sounding irritated. From the way Jo hurried past me into the hallway, I assumed Kinnik had been griping about my coming to “lecture” her.

“You don’t mind if I keep unpacking while you talk, do you?”

With the amount of luggage she had, I knew I’d have plenty of time to say what needed to be said.  “I was hoping we could talk about how your career is going.” I used the term loosely.

She yanked open the zipper on her biggest suitcase. “Obviously I’m doing very well. If not, do you think I could afford shoes like these?”

The gasp I held back came from seeing no less than twenty pairs of shoes inside the bag. I knew she never paid less than three hundred dollars for her shoes.  My mind did a quick calculation; I was looking at four months’ rent. “I’m not only talking about the money.”

“Isn’t money the reason most people work?” She giggled and sent me a sly glance over her shoulder as she methodically lined up her footwear in the bottom of the closet.

“Sure it is, but I’m worried about you. You spend like it’s the end of the world. We need to sit down while we’re here and see if we can come up with an investment you can put some money into. If you’re bringing home good money, you should be saving some of it.”

“Oh, look at you trying to be the black Suze Orman.” 

Kinnik always made jokes when she wanted to avoid confrontation. Only her financial status wasn’t a joking matter. She needed to face up to this. “You don’t even have health insurance. What happens if you get sick or hurt where you can’t work for a few months? Who’s going to pay your bills? And don’t look at me.”

“Don’t worry about me, I can get money when I need it.”

I didn’t like the sound of that. “What do you mean?”

“It means I know some ballers who’ll loan me money if I need it.”

“And you’d have to pay those ballers back, you know.”

“Not necessarily,” she contradicted me with a mischievous wink.

“K, I understand you know rich people. You can’t count on them to do what you should be doing for yourself. Let’s face it; you might have a good five years dancing in videos, if that many. What will you do after that?” Her blank expression answered my question. “You haven’t even thought that far ahead. Have you?”

“God, you’re starting to sound like Ma. At least if I give her cash she’ll leave me alone for a while.”

“Giving Ma money isn’t the only thing. You’re still living there, and she’s watching your kids while you run the streets.”

She brushed her hair, swept it in a circular motion around her head and tied it with a silk scarf. Her eyes narrowed and two lines appeared between her arched eyebrows. “I’m hardly ever there anyway. Did you come up here just to pick on me, because I’m not in the mood?”

“I’m not trying to give you a hard time. Did you ever consider that I make my living helping people with their finances, and I can help you prepare for the future?”

“All right. I’ll think about it. Okay?” The tone of her voice said she’d already shut me out. There was no need to continue the conversation.

“Sure. I’ll let you finish unpacking and catch your snooze.” I scanned the piles of clothes she’d dumped on the bed. “From the looks of it, you’ll be up here until dinner time.”

I left with the sinking feeling that Kinnik was on a runaway train to disaster, and not just in her financial life. I had to find a way to help her before something terrible happened.

4/5-star reviews! 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fun Friday - sexy scary ...

All over the blogosphere people are talking about Halloween. Since this is one "holiday" my family and I don't do, I thought I'd talk about a semi-related subject.

Real fear is nothing to play with, and it's topic I'll leave to the psychological and ministry blogs to elaborate on.

I want to talk about men ... the sexy, scary ones. In my opinion, the king of sexy scary has always been Dracula. Growing up, the only Dracula I knew was the original, played by Bela Lugosi.

For his day and time, he was the slick, mysterious count that made women swoon under his power. As a little kid, he scared the heck out of me when he'd suddenly morph into a bat and fly away.

Lugosi's character provided the foundation for all of the cinema vampires to follow - some who were drop dead (pardon the pun) sexy and some who were downright frightening.

This is my take on the evolution of the Transylvania count:

Christopher Lee just plain creeped me out ...

William Marshall was the first black Drac, but he made my skin crawl.

Frank Langella was definitely well dressed, sexy yet frightening. He also probably brought the best acting to the role.

Back in the 70's, Michael Nouri of Flashdance fame, gave me goosebumps (not the frightened kind ...) during his ten-episode portrayal on the TV series, Cliffhangers.

  In the 80's, Eddie Murphy brought back the suave, sensual nature to the part, and he used it well on Angela Bassett in A Vampire in Brooklyn. It just freaked me out that he bore such a strange resemblance to the late R&B singer, Nick Ashford:

Eeeew ....

Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise took the vampire thing to another, and in my opinion, very feminine, level in the 1994 Interview with a Vampire.

The Count is my all-time favorite unscary (if that's a word) Dracula. He has spent decades inhabiting Sesame Street.

Now there are two incredibly sexy bloodsuckers that have recently caught my attention ... Bill Compton and Eric Northman, as played by Stephen Moyer and Alexander Skarsgård on HBO's True Blood. If you've never seen the show, here's a great article on why these two guys have become so popular -

I'm not sure why we find these scary men sexy, but it's probably because they represent the ultimate bad boys. What do you think?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tardy Thursday (belated Writer Wednesday post)

And the Beat Goes On …

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you’ve heard me say repeatedly how much I love being part of the indie publishing world. Most of this experience is fantastic, but there are some negative aspects. One of them is the yet prevailing bashing of independent books/authors.

Even though I’ve turned my back on the traditional side of publishing, I read several blogs by trad authors/agents. Lately I’ve noticed a disturbing trend in the comments on these sites. Many of these commenters seem determined to bash indie books every chance they get. They claim to have tried indie books and were appalled at the poor quality. This statement really annoys me, almost as much as when certain readers say, “I’ve read romance, and find those books to be pointless stories featuring weak-willed women whose only goal in life is to be ravaged by a long-haired, shirtless man.” Obviously, these people read a handful of romances back in the 1970’s or 80’s and have based their judgment of the entire genre on books written in another decade.

Today the self-pub haters are doing the same thing. Most likely they have read a few books they picked using the eenie-meenie-miney-mo process. Just this morning I read a comment, in which one poster said,

“…It really sounds like the biggest reason is because you hope to be the one-in-a-million gutsy makes it biggest off self publishing, and that you are too impatient to go the traditional route.

If you are banking on being the one-in-a-million... Why do you think you're more likely to hit that jackpot this way rather than through traditional channels?

Also, the two year lag in traditional publishing is because they help you make your book BETTER. Editors for grammar, continuity, voice, story, and all kinds of other things. Professionals making your book the best it can possibly be. You want to cut owe kind of corners?

I have yet to read a self published novel that wasn't riddled with problems. Granted, I haven't read your work, and I will be happy to hopefully be corrected on this someday. But at is stands, I think self publishing is the impatient way.”

If this person can’t find good indie books, it’s obvious she has no clue about the hundreds of indie books web sites, blogs and Facebook pages where she could’ve read reviews. It also seems she never thought of downloading the free sample in order to see what the writing was like before she bought the book. In my opinion, this person and many of the other vocal critics, are the folks that need someone to tell them what to read.

I just finished reading two books published by major New York publishers that contained typos and formatting errors. That’s not the author’s fault. The responsibility rests on the editorial department of the publisher. It’s strange how I never hear the haters bashing big name authors because of the errors in their books.

This hateration was the subject of discussion recently in one of the indie writer groups to which I belong. A member had received a scathing e-mail from a reader that went on a tirade against indie books because she found two typos in her book. Below I copied two of the comments from other members to the author.

“Never, ever let legacy writers (or others) bring you down with their bull crap. They are the real “vanity press” authors now. And, I know because I’m with a traditional publisher as well. The only thing I get out of that is being able to say, “Yes, I have a publisher as well as being indie.” If that isn’t vanity, I don’t know what is. I certainly don’t get any money from them. (Last check I got from my publisher was for around $2 and I got it in December 2010. I didn’t even deposit it. This year I’ve gotten a couple of royalty statements, but no check as I haven’t made over $5 and my publisher will no longer issue checks under that amount. In contrast, my indie work is bringing in the gold each and every month!)

Another member posted:

“Last week I received a royalty check for seven dollars. Not kidding. I have 3 books still at that publisher. I get the rights to the first book in January and then the other 2 in March. I still have one book at another publisher and I’m waiting for the rights back. I actually had to pay that publisher because they had an overstock of print books, and I bought the final copies so I had to pay them for the books and buy them back before I could get my rights back. I haven’t received a royalty check from that publisher in forever. I just received the rights back to a historical romance at a 3rd publisher. The publisher wrote me and said they missed me. I wondered why. My last royalty check there was like six bucks. For four months?”

The concept of a traditional publisher being the “golden ring” for authors is outdated, but it continues to be perpetrated by the uninformed. Attitudes toward indie publishing are changing. You can see evidence of this by the indie books on the New York Times bestseller list!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Winners of the Spook-A-Licious Bloghop!

First, I'd like to thank everyone that entered the contest! I hope you'll make my blog a regular stop.

The winners, chosen at random, are Laura H, Margaret, Nikki and Meg!

I will be contacting each of you by e-mail.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Passing the torch

My schedule for today is frightening so I'm not posting anything here, but here's a good one for you to read instead:

See ya Wednesday ...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sample Sunday

Hot Fun in the Summertime is a contemporary women's fiction story with romantic elements.

Romance author, Shontae Nichols is spending the summer with seven very friends – four women and three men. 

This year her housemates will be a drama instructor, an accountant, a hip-hop video dancer, a cosmetologist, a calculus professor and a film actor.

For eight weeks sibling rivalry, girlfriend drama, and sexual attractions threaten to change every one of their relationships. But when one of the housemates faces a tragedy, it affects how all of the friends view life and each other.


“Remember I said I had this funny feeling about Devon?”

I crossed the room and sat on the edge of the bed, hoping she wasn’t about to reveal something about our new housemate that would require me to run a background check on him.

“I couldn’t figure out what it was until I got back to working on my story,” she continued.

“Nothing like this has ever happened to me since I’ve been writing.”

“Will you please tell me what you’re talking about?”

“He is the exact likeness of the hero in my book right down to his voice.”

“Fascinating,” I said, sounding like Spock from the original Star Trek.

“After Kinnik said who he was, I thought he looked familiar from the commercial or maybe from the few times I’d seen him walking the red carpet with Shari Wilcox on one of those magazine shows. That wasn’t it. Here, read this.” Shontae got up from the desk and patted the chair so I could sit in front of her laptop.

She pointed to the screen. “Start with the second paragraph.”

“Every eye was glued on Gregory when he walked into the conference room. This was the new district director? He looked like one of those models from the cover of Details magazine. The custom-tailored suit he wore emphasized his height and the straightness of his shoulders. Thick but neat brows framed his deep-set brown eyes. I’d never seen such a stunning face on a man. But what did irreparable damage to my nervous system was his voice. When he opened his mouth to greet the staff, it captivated every female at the table, the kind that demanded obedience, in the boardroom or the bedroom. My body immediately reacted in ways I didn’t want to be seen in a business meeting. I squeezed my thighs together and tried to will it away.

The passage described Devon perfectly.

“I don’t know how that happened. A few months ago I saw this face in a dream and when I woke up I decided to use it in my next manuscript then completely forgot about it until this afternoon. I don’t put too much stock in coincidence, but this is scary.”

Shontae and I had been friends for a long time. I knew she wasn’t easily flustered. That’s why I was so surprised at how shaken she appeared.

“Could be automatic writing. It’s writing produced without conscious thought; like a written message given through a spirit guide. And maybe Devon was sent here for a reason. You probably don’t believe in that sort of thing.”

Her eyes narrowed in suspicion. “Like what?”

“Don’t ask me. Is this guy in your book good or bad?”

“Good.” She smiled a coy smile. “Very good. He’s the hero. They’re not the same person, Lin. Devon is an actor.”

“Don’t say it like it’s a disease.”

“Isn’t it? Look at Kip. The man is so in love with himself and his looks, it’s sickening. I think the attitude comes with the job. They have so many women running after them. It can’t help but go to their heads.”

Now I was confused by the way she’d brushed Devon off. “So if he’s your dream man, what’s your problem with him?”       

“Come on, Lin. The man in my book is a fantasy. I created him to be the way I’d like him to be. My character is a serious businessman who’s developed a good reputation in the business world by being honorable and trustworthy.”

Right away I knew what her issue was. “For all you know, Devon could be the most honorable man on the planet. You’ve already made up your mind that he’s got issues.”

“He gets paid to pretend,” she insisted.

“He’s not Ronald, Tae. Don’t hold that idiot’s sins against all men.”

Her mouth twisted and her eyes narrowed to slits. “Did I say anything about Ronald?”

“You didn’t have to. This is a different summer. Devon’s a different man. I know you don’t believe in karma like I do, but I think you saw him in that dream to let you know he was coming into your life. Give the man the benefit of the doubt.”

Shontae studied my face for a few beats and considered my words. “Yeah, I have to admit it is a little strange.”

Hot Fun in the Summertime has been a Kindle bestseller with all 4/5-star reviews! It's available now for only $2.99 here: & on Nook here:

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fun Friday!

I'm at a loss for blog topics, so I've decided to re-run some of the entries from my old blog over at Webs.

This is one I posted back in 2007. It originally camed from author Jennifer Shirk and it's entitled, "Celebrity Hairstyles I've Worn."

I'll start it chronological order with the style I like to call the "Early Oprah." Almost every little black girl wore the braids with bangs in the fifties.
A few years later, the bangs and ponytail look dominated the early 1960's -- the Sandra Dee "Gidget" look.

In the mid-sixties, most black girls tried to emulate the Motown stars. I copied one of my favorite styles from singer Mary Wells. This is how I wore my hair to the senior prom.


In the late sixties, we did our best to imitate the sleeker styles, ala Diana Ross. Lady's Di is on the right with the big curl on her cheek.

By the late sixties, we got militant and proud. For a few years I sported a huge fro like activist Angela Davis.

Jump to the eighties, when I tried to get glam for a few months and look like Ms. Ross again -- with much artificial assistance, mind you!

When the nineties rolled around, I was completely enamored with Queen Oprah and wore this style for years.

Actually, I'm still partial to this style, and I'm basically still there. Ms. O is back to the big hair now,

but I'm not going there with her ...

What celebrity hairstyles have you worn over the years?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Writer Wednesday

Now that I’ve covered the basics of e-book preparation, it’s time to address the biggie – getting attention for your book once it has a home in the Amazon universe.
As most of you already know, there are over two million – that’s right – 2,000,000 books for sale on Kindle, and close to that many on Nook. You’ve written, revised, formatted, uploaded, re-uploaded. How are people going to know that your baby is out there?
Before I delve into this subject, I have to admit that this is the part of the publishing process I hate with a passion. Oh, I love the social part – meeting and chatting with all of the fantastic readers and other writers out there. But I can’t stand the need to keep pushing my books everywhere. It feels completely narcissistic. Unfortunately, promotion is something that must be done frequently. With that being said, there are ways to reach your readers without being a sleazy pimp.

Social networking is the main focus of e-book promotion these days. Of course, it is a necessity to post promo messages on the triumverate – Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, which I will talk about later.
The first places to start are the discussion forums on both Amazon and Nook. They allow restricted promo posting by authors. I say restricted, because I have experienced scathing rebuke from readers on the Amazon US and UK forums in particular for posting in the wrong place, at the wrong time, using the wrong wording, yada, yada, yada. These folks, especially the women on the Romance forum, are rabid about author promotion.

All I’m going to say about them is, “If you’ve never written a book and tried to get the world to notice that it exists, have a little compassion. It’s a very difficult task.” Here’s the link to the smackdown I received recently on the UK forum:

Rather than go into a diatribe about that here, I suggest you read about the experiences of other authors:

Besides the Big 3, there are thousands of other places where the “e-people” hang out, namely online sites that specialize in e-books. and are wonderful sites on which to promote. These two sites are not affiliated with Amazon or Barnes & Noble.,, and are also e-book specific sites. In addition there are sites like,, LinkedIn that have e-book groups.
The “high volume” sites where authors can request or buy a feature are the best sources for wide exposure, but their waiting lists are outrageous. You may wait for week/months before your book comes up in the queue. 
  • e-Reader News Today (I posted a feature here and sold 264 books in one day!)
  • BookBub
  • Digital Book Today
  • Week in Rewind
Goodreads shouldn’t be overlooked. Within the past few years scores of web sites and blogs dedicated solely to the promotion of independent books have appeared. If you do a search for the word, “indie” on Google, an extensive list will come up. Each of these sites has its rules for posting/features.

If you write genre fiction, like I do, there are hundreds of web sites, blogs and FB pages dedicated to your genre. Most are happy to do features, interviews and reviews, but most have waiting lists so you must be patient and get in line. Finding these sites takes a little research, and reading their submission rules is essential.

The cardinal sin when it comes to online book promotion is authors not engaging with the members/participants of the site. They want to hear you saying more than just “buy my book.” Readers are much more receptive if you share interesting articles and news stories related to your particular genre or writing and publishing in general. Once in a while it’s even okay to share funny stories and videos, as long as they don’t make you look like an idiot.  

Now, back to the Big 3 – Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus. Twitter is especially author-friendly, and the reading/writing community there is just awesome. When you make connections on Twitter, followers are loyal to send your messages to their followers. This give and take can result in exposure you could never get by yourself. The #hashtags dedicated to books also help to multiply the number of people that see your message. For instance, the hashtag, #novelines lets you post sentences from your book. People looking for something to read check the #novelines posts daily. Using #hashtags is crucial. Without them, your tweet just goes to your followers alone, whether it’s 25 or 100 or 500. When you add the hashtag, #romance to your tweet, it goes to everyone following that hashtag, which is probably tens of thousands.

Facebook allows you to post longer entries, but the reposting of comments isn’t nearly as good as on Twitter. There are many Facebook pages now dedicated to indie authors and e-books. You can simply do a search for “indie” or “ebook” using the Facebook’s search feature.

As an independent author, other great spots for support and exposure are the indie author groups like Worldwide Indie Authors and the Independent Author Network As a member of these groups you will not only discover promo opportunities but gain invaluable information and ideas from other members.

Another important part of marketing your e-book is getting reviews. In the past, finding reviewers to read indie books was next to impossible. That is no longer the case. In fact, I have an extensive list of indie book reviewers. If you contact me, and request it, I’ll send it to you.

Getting reviews is one area in which I have lacked. I figured I’d just wait for reader reviews; only it wasn’t as easy as I’d expected. A lot of readers shy away from leaving reviews on Amazon and B&N, particularly if they weren’t crazy about the book. A time or two I have posted on Facebook and requested honest reviews from people who have already read the book.

I guess I need to add that all of this should be in addition to posting on your own blog and web site.
I know it sounds like a lot, and it surely is. My only advice is to try a few things at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed. If you join groups, set your e-mail to receive daily digests to keep your inbox from being deluged with group messages.

Well, I could go on about this forever, but this entry is already too long. You can read the final entry in this series here:

Sunday, October 16, 2011





1) HAVE FUN!!!


3) THIS TOUR STARTS: Monday, October 17, at Midnight (Arizona Time)
THIS TOUR ENDS: Monday, October 24, at Midnight (Arizona Time)
Winners will be drawn and posted October 25th! ***




***Authors & Book Pages have full discretion to choose an alternate winner in the event any winner fails to claim their prize(s) within 72 hours of their name being posted or after notification of win, whichever comes first. Anyone who participates in this blog hop tour is subject to these rules***


None of my stories are paranormal or horror. I write contemporary romance, women's fiction and faith-based romance.

 4 WINNERS will get a copy of one of my books

If she’d stayed any longer, her husband would have killed her.

Desperate to escape his drug-induced brutality, wealthy socialite Marcia Hadley disappears from Santa Barbara, California and flees to Atlantic City, New Jersey. She’s sold everything she can, rents a seedy inner city apartment and attempts to disappear as Dani Reynolds, cocktail waitress at Frenzy, a neighborhood nightclub.

Taylor Villanova, the club’s sexy bouncer recognizes her naiveté and volunteers to teach her about surviving and thriving in the inner city. Fearful and suspicious of men, Dani is at first repelled by Taylor’s violent profession yet drawn to the compassionate nature that contradicts his macho persona. But when her well-laid plans go awry, and Dani discovers someone is following her, she must put her complete trust in him.

Her time is running out …

Seven very different singles – four women and three men – rent a New Jersey beach house for the summer: author Shontae Nichols, self-employed accountant and realtor, Linda Harris, Linda’s sister, hip-hop video dancer Kinnik Watkins, cosmetologist, Jovita Blassingame, Calculus professor Curtis “Doc” Whetstone, actor and drama instructor, Kip Lee, and new housemate, up and coming film actor, Devon Burke.

During their two month stay, romances bloom, friendships are tested and when a tragedy strikes one of the housemates, they all learn the answer to the age-old question: Can men and women ever be just friends?

Newlywed author Shontae Nichols Burke is trying to adjust to her life in Hollywood as the wife of actor Devon Burke, one of the film industry’s brightest upcoming stars. She’s left her home and her friends and moved to Los Angeles.
They both have blossoming careers.  She’s attending movie premieres and living a life she only dreamed of.

Unknown to Shontae, someone else also believes Devon Burke is the love of her life. When this disturbed woman insinuates herself into their lives, Shontae learns that all Hollywood drama isn’t scripted and finds herself in a fight for her marriage that’s worthy of the big screen.

Rick Gardner never intended to visit one of Atlanta’s premiere strip clubs, but his fellow attorneys choose that venue to celebrate his latest courtroom victory. A born again believer, Rick knows Dreamland is the last place he belongs. Still, he’s confident he can withstand the temptation. Until the beautiful woman sent to entertain them walks in …
He is every Christian woman’s idea of the perfect catch. He was raised in a Christian home and recently rededicated his life to the Lord. He owns an impressive house and attends one of the best churches in the city. So why is he about to throw all of this away for a woman who is totally wrong for him?

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