Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Spring cleaning - office style

I promised myself that when I sent Book 5 to my editor I would take a day to clean out my office. Well, yesterday was the day.

This is what it normally looks like. 

I'm pretty neat and relatively organized, but that's only because I file everything away. Thirty years as a secretary/administrative assistant creates some habits that are hard to break. As a result, I tend to save and categorize everything -- just in case I might need it. LOL!

I've been writing now for sixteen years, and when I first started I absorbed myself in research of the publishing industry and information on the craft. I spent countless hours on writer web sites and on the pages of well-known literary agents like Nathan Bransford and Chip McGregor. Gradually, as the years passed and the rejections started coming in, I moved from agent web sites to the authors like Joe Konrath, who was breaking new ground as a Kindle author, and Stefanie Bond, who had a wonderful site on the business of writing. There were three-inch binders full of their blog posts.

Once I started a blog of my own, I also printed out a copy of each of my posts. I have four large binders of posts from 2007-2008, 2008-09, 2010-11, 2011-2012. 

In my four-drawer upright file cabinet, there were folders full of inspirational articles from the old book section of Essence, Ebony and O magazines along with expandable folders full of submission letters and rejection letters from publishers and agents.

This is my "rejection collection", which I've decided to save as a reminder of the agony I went through before making the decision to self-publish. It might be hard to tell from this photo, but that's and expandable file with at least 500 sheets of paper - a lot of queries and a lot of rejections! I'm keeping this file as a reminder of all the hard work I did trying to convince Big Publishing that I was worthy. SMH...

On top of all that, I used to lead a writer's group at a local Barnes and Noble store for three years, and I kept every handout and article I shared with them. 

All of my research for the twelve books I've written takes up an entire drawer of the cabinet, but I'm keeping all of that.

There are two files of reader e-mails and comments (I was afraid to call it fan mail back then) that I started when I published Have You Seen Her?, the first book. I will keep these forever, because it was confirmation that the editors and agents were WRONG! It blew me away to realize people actually liked what I'd written, and I was building a readership.

Needless to say, it was time to let most of this stuff go, so I bit the bullet and started tossing. Now I have room to save new memories... 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Refund revelry!

In past years, hubby and I have usually assigned our income tax refunds to paying bills. This year I decided to use my half to go gadget shopping! You know, the stuff you don't have the cash for during the year. LOL!

Here's what I got...

A laptop bike from Sharper Image. I'm trying to find something that works for me as far as getting some exercise goes. Since I'm on my laptop 8-10 hours a day, and I hate breaking up my work time to go anywhere, I figured this might help. It also has exercise bands made into the big so you can work your arms and chest.

This is an air fryer. I'd never heard of such a thing until my brother-in-law and sister-in-law paid us a visit last week. They have one and swear by it. It fries food crispy without any oil!

An MP3 converter to convert the hundreds of cassette tapes I have in my music collection into digital files. It didn't arrive yet, so I can't say how good it works. :)

 A storage bench to go by the front door to hold all of our shoes. I hate wearing shoes in the house, so this provides a convenient place to to sit and take them off as soon as you come in.

I have never had a waffle iron, and we give too much of our money to the Waffle House! Now I can make my own on Saturday morning. 

Right now, I'm a happy

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Sample Sunday

This is the last sneak peek into I Want You Back. The book went to my editor on Tuesday! 

* * * * * * * * * * 

In the morning, Cherilyn got up, showered and dressed. She was supposed to be away on her honeymoon, and the job wasn’t expecting her for a week, so she could throw on anything to run to FedEx Office, but no one would catch her out in sweats and a t-shirt. She put on a casual linen Capri outfit, sandals and clasped the necklace Nick had given her around her neck. Being her size, she was a stickler for always looking a neat and fashionable as possible. Giving her appearance a final check in the mirror, she rested a hand over the brilliant diamond pendant, which looked stunning against the white fabric, smiled at her reflection and headed out to handle the task at hand.

Before she even got to her destination, her phone pinged with an angry text from Derrick. I know Nick came to see you. Send the ring back. D.

Her emotions churned as she stared at the words on the screen. He had every right to be angry. She’d handled this whole mess totally wrong. If she had only responded to Nick’s messages all those months, she could’ve worked it out before she and Derrick started making wedding plans. They had only been together for three months before he’d proposed, and he’d been so insistent about getting married right away. Nick’s rejection had bruised her heart so badly she’d accepted Derrick’s proposal based more on how much Nick had hurt her than how much she loved Derrick. If she’d ever really loved him at all. She respected and admired him, but that wasn’t enough on which to base a marriage. Was it?

There was no need to try to explain anything to him. She typed, Sending 2 yr office 2day by FedEx. I’m so sorry. C.

No response.

A little while later, her phone rang. “Good morning. Are you okay?” Nick asked in a hoarse voice, sounding as though he hadn’t slept much last night.

“Good morning. I’m okay. Derrick just texted me that he wants his ring back, so I’m on my way to overnight it to him. I need to talk to him about the wedding expenses, since we were counting on cash gifts to help out with that.” She sighed. “What do you think I should do?”

“I’m supposed to get off at six tonight. Let’s wait until then to talk about it. I can meet you somewhere to grab a bite to eat.”

“I don’t want to run into anyone we know, Nick. Not yet. I’m not ready to face people and their questions.”

“We can go someplace out of the way. I know lots of those.” He gave a cynical chuckle. “A burger and fries is about all I can afford anyway.”

“Stop exaggerating.”

“I’m not. Meet me at the Vortex in Little Five Points at six-thirty. I don’t think you’ll see anybody you know there, and they have great burgers. If it looks like I’m going to be late, I’ll call you by six.” 

“All right.”

“Cher? I went to sleep last night thinking what a lucky man I am. I won’t blow it this time.”

“You’d better not. God don’t like ugly. Goodbye, Nick.”

The sound of his laughter on the other end made her smile. “Goodbye.”

The stop at FedEx Office didn’t take much time. She had to sign a special contract declaring a high-value jewelry item. Before she left the house, she’d looked up the current value of a three-carat platinum ring. Since she wasn’t sure how much Derrick had paid for the ring, she declared the value to be fifteen thousand. Cher hesitated before handing it to the attendant behind the counter then took a deep breath and left the building with a sense of relief that the whole situation was over. Maybe now she could get on with her life.

With no idea what she was going to do with her day, she called Mika. “Hey, girl. What are you doing?”

“I’m working. What do you think?”

“Right,” Cher shook her head. “I’m sorry. Can you talk for a minute?”

“Sure. How are you?”

“I don’t know.” She brought her best friend up to speed on Nick’s visit and Derrick’s text. “I just sent the ring back to him.”

“Ooh, that must’ve hurt. It was a spectacular ring. So, what are you up to today?”

“Considering I was supposed to be on Grand Cayman right now, anything I do will be a letdown.”

Mika snickered. “You really wanted to go to Paris anyway, but you let Derrick talk you into the islands.”

“He loves tropical locations.” Cher wondered why she was defending a decision that hadn’t thrilled her to begin with. She had been to the islands so many times with Mika and her girls, so it held no mystique for her.

“But Nick promised to take you where you want to go.”

“Who knows if we’ll ever get there.”

“You don’t believe him?”

“I believe he wants to, but Nick is so paranoid about money. I’m not sure he’ll ever believe he has enough to take a trip to Paris.”

“Right now maybe he doesn’t, but once he finishes his residency, he’ll be able to travel anywhere he wants.”

“Are you saying we should wait until then to get married? That’s years from now.”

“No, that’s not what I’m saying. This is probably the first time in his life that he feels underprivileged. I’m sure his parents gave him money while he was in college. Now he’s employed, has to pay rent, car insurance, utilities and student loans.”

“I suppose, but he needs a reality check.”

“This is a reality check for him, Cher. Try to be understanding. It’s not his fault he was born with money.”

“He asked me to meet him for dinner tonight, and he thinks he can’t afford anything but burgers and fries. I have no problem eating burgers, but he’s being ridiculous.”

“Looks like you have your work cut out for you.”

“What are you talking about?”

“It appears that you’ll have to teach him how to live on a budget. If he’s never had to count his pennies, then you need to show him.”

“Hmm…” she pondered Mika’s words for a moment. “I can do that. God knows I was budgeting for years before I got this job. I guess I’ll be doing it again to help Derrick pay off the credit cards for wedding expenses. Thanks, girl. I’m going to get some coffee before I text him about the bills.”

“Good luck.” 


Sunday, March 6, 2016

Sample Sunday

I have nine days to get I Want You Back to my editor. Since my goal is to get the book to market before the end of the month, it was time to start working on promos. With this series I discovered that readers really paid attention to the promos that shared a short excerpt from the story along with a photo. It's relatively easy to do, doesn't take much time, and I actually have fun creating them.

These are the promos I created using Powerpoint last week.Unfortunately, you can't click to enlarge here, but they open larger on social media and are easier to read.