Saturday, May 31, 2008

Welcome to Author - Victoria Christopher Murray


Today I welcome national bestselling author, Victoria Christopher Murray. Victoria is author of seven Essence bestselling novels including Truth Be Told, Grownfolks Business, A Sin and Shame and The Ex-Files. Victoria has received numerous awards including an NAACP Image Award Nomination, the Golden Pen Award for Best Inspirational Fiction and in 2006, she was awarded the Phyllis Wheatley Trailblazer Award for being a pioneer in African American Christian Fiction. Her latest novel, Too Little, Too Late will hit the shelves on Tuesday, June 3rd.


Welcome Victoria! Congratulations on the release of your latest novel. Tell us a little about Too Little, Too Late.

Too Little, Too Late is the story of Jasmine Cox Larson Bush who returns to find herself in the fight of her life – to keep her husband from another woman. It doesn’t help that she is still hiding so many secrets and she’s told so many lies. TLTL also reintroduces Jasmine’s baby’s daddy and his drama.

Jasmine has become a phenomenon. Why do you think readers are so attracted to this character?

I. Don’t. Know! I’m telling you, when I wrote about Jasmine in my first novel, Temptation, I never had any plans of bringing her back. After all, who would want to read again about that scheming, conniving, low-down man-stealer? Then, I received so many e-mails saying that readers wanted to know more about that wicked woman. I think Jasmine is just a character we love to hate, not to mention that many see a little bit of themselves in that vixen. Ouch!

You have an awesome new teen series, Divas, tell us about it and what prompted you to write a young adult novel?

I decided to write the Divine Divas series because I saw so many teen readers reading the erotica books on the market. Now, none of that is the author’s fault – the authors who write erotica didn’t write those books for teens. But what I discovered is that our young girls wanted to read good books – filled with drama, without perfect people, and no preaching. I figured I could give them all of that – and still have a message.

What has been the response from teen readers?

Excellent! I’ve been so blessed. The best response though has come from my adult readers who enjoyed the teen book as much as they enjoyed my adult novels. To me, that was the ultimate compliment.

You were pegged the “Mother of African American Christian Fiction” long before you won the Phyllis Wheatley Award. It’s an awesome legacy. Tell us how you feel when you hear those words identified with yourself.

You know, those words make me smile, although I’m not sure it’s rightly deserved. When I wrote my first novel, I wasn’t writing to create a genre. I had never read a Christian fiction book and honestly, I thought my book was just like the other books on the market. I didn’t see a big difference because I wasn’t just putting God in the book; He was already there...just like He would have been in anything I did in life. The Lord is the center of my life. So, I get a lot of credit for starting something that I didn’t mean to start. What I am proud of, however, are the authors (like you) who have followed me. All of you have remained steadfast, understanding that we are fighting a different battle than other authors. And no matter what is popular and selling, you have all stood your ground. That is what makes me proud.

Do you consider your writing to be a ministry? Why or why not?

I know my writing is a ministry because others have told me that, but when I sit down, I’m not thinking about that. The messages in my books just come out – they’re not planned. That’s why I know that God has His hand in everything I do. I don’t plan the Christian message. I just plan the story, tell the story and then Jesus’s story just finds its way into my books because that is who I am.

I asked Victoria a few person questions so that readers could get to know her a little better. Here are her responses:

What is your favorite color? Blue

Which do you prefer, the beach or mountains? Beach for sure! Wearing a bathing suit and all!

If you had a 25 hour day, what would you do with the extra hour? I would probably use that time to catch up with family and friends because I just don’t do enough of that now! I would love to have an hour a day to call at least one person to let them know I’m thinking of them.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be? South Africa.

If you could have an hour with one person (living or deceased) who would it be and why? Of course, I’d want time with Jesus – just to ask Him if I’m getting this thing right and what can I be doing better. But, I ask Him that question everyday, anyway, so I’ll give you someone else. I know you said one person, but I’m a fiction writer – I don’t follow rules. The first person would be Barack Obama and I would spend the entire hour telling him how proud I am of him and if he didn’t do anything else, I would tell him that he has inspired a generation of young people who now know that it is possible! I would thank him for having the nerve! And I would tell him that I plan on knocking on as many doors, and making as many calls and sending as much money as I can to do my part to make sure he’s the president of the United States of America! And then, there’s Oprah. I’d like to know what makes a dynasty tick.

What’s next for Victoria Christopher Murray?

Blessedly, lots of things. Of course, more books. I just signed a new two-book deal with Simon and Schuster. My first two-book deal because my agent only believes in singular deals. But, they made us that proverbial offer – we couldn’t refuse. I’m getting ready to write my fourth book in my four book teen series and I hope to continue that series since it has already been optioned for television. And, we’re in negotiations now for my second book, JOY, to become a movie. So, lots and lots of good stuff. Can you spell b-l-e-s-s-e-d?

Victoria has an extensive tour planned this year. Readers can connect with her and see tour sites at http://www.victoriachristophermurray.com/.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Victoria Christopher Murray - Mother of African American Christian Fiction

Next week my most favoritest author in the whole world will have a new book on shelves. My favorite because not only do I enjoy every sentence and every word of her excellent writing, but I’ve been blessed by her mentorship.

In 1997 I began writing my first novel. I met Victoria Christopher Murray in an online chat room. She had just self-published her first book, Temptation. Excited about her description of the project, I tried to order the book from a local bookstore, but was told they wouldn’t be able to get it. I remember telling her I was on my way to Atlanta for vacation and wished I could have it for the trip. Victoria wanted me to have her book so badly that she mailed it overnight to my cousin’s house and when I arrived in Atlanta it was waiting for me. Before I left Atlanta I purchased two more copies and went on to buy at least ten copies of the original version of Temptation to share as gifts. Talk about planting a seed. Now more than ten years later I’m still telling people about her work.

I have to admit, although it’s superb, it’s not just Victoria’s writing that makes me her cheerleader. It’s her spirit and her heart to always help new authors. In an industry that’s as competitive as a beauty pageant, Victoria Christopher Murray is a rare gem. She shares advice, encouragement and industry information at the click of a keyboard. She's always willing to go that extra mile to teach and help struggling writers understand the journey to being published is a process, but with God all things are possible. She has a never quit spirit.

In honor of her contributions to African American Christian authorship I solicited some warm fuzzies from author friends who feel the same way about our “Mama Victoria”. Here are there kind words. I'll share others over the next few weeks:

To me, Victoria is an outstanding and inspirational woman. When my first book was published I met her at one of her book signings and told her about my book. She then introduced me to her readers as an up-and-coming author! That was probably such a little thing to her, but it was huge to me because I was in Atlanta for Mega Fest trying to promote my book without two nickels to my name. Anyway, her success has paved the way for so many like me! I greatly appreciate her example.

Author, Tiffany L. Warren
What A Sista Should Do and Farther Than I Meant To Go, Longer Than I Meant to Stay

and

As a life-long writer who had yearned to pen novels since childhood, I was finally getting serious about achieving this goal, but couldn't figure out which genre would best fit the stories I wanted to tell.

Then I picked up Temptation, Victoria's page-turning first book. When I reached the end, all I could say was, 'Wow.'

I have since had the pleasure of meeting Victoria and learning about her journey of faith as a writer. That, in and of itself, has been an inspiration. But long before I knew I'd be blessed to cross her path, I was grateful that she helped open the door to my dreams. Her book was proof that if God placed the desire in my heart, all I had to do was begin.
Stacy Hawkins Adams, author of Watercolored Pearls, Nothing But the Right Thing, and Speak To My Heart

Join me over the next couple weeks as I highlight her work and chronicle her contribution to African American Christian fiction.

Also, make sure you pick up your copy of Too Little, Too Late and visit her website at http://www.victoriachristophermurray.com/

Blessings,

Rhonda

Jasmine is determined to keep all her secrets and hold onto her man, Hosea, for good—by any means necessary. But with Hosea’s ex-fiancée back in town, has the crafty and conniving Jasmine finally met her match?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

One Minute Publicist

Having a best-seller can really make an author's success and increase future book sales, so it's important. Without question making the New York Times bestseller list is the "Oscar" of list for authors. Recently three African American fiction authors made the extended list. Romance author, Brenda Jackson was among the group. I'm along time Brenda Jackson fan and although I haven't read her work in recent years, I have received some encouraging emails from her when I wrote asking questions about her writing journey. I'm thrilled for her, but I have to admit, I'd be more thrilled to see an African American Christian fiction author make the list. So, I'm on a campaign to make it happen and I invite you to join me. It'll only take a minute of your time.

Be a One Minute Book Publicist
It's an easy thing to do. It means you agree to do one thing--just one thing that takes less than a minute--to help spread the word about an author's book. Maybe write a post in your blog. Or call or e-mail your local library and request they order the book. Or recommend it to a book club. Forward the author's eblast to your circle of friends or even just telling a friend who you know reads can help.
Let's start with Victoria's new release "Too Little Too Late". She's an awesome writer and she's been on the brink of making it for the last couple of years.

Jasmine is determined to keep all her secrets and hold onto her man, Hosea, for good—by any means necessary. But with Hosea’s ex-fiancée back in town, has the crafty and conniving Jasmine finally met her match?

Click the link to Preorder today

Too Little, Too Late: A Novel

http://www.victoriachristophermurry.com/

Thanks and many blessings,


Rhonda

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Book Marketing - No Shame in the Game

I had a conversation this week with a dear friend and aspiring writer who’s moving 2,400 miles away to California. The conversation eventually landed around a discussion about my upcoming novel, Issues of the Heart. She told me she’d been telling all her family and friends about my book and they were all excited to read it. This warmed my heart because from what I’ve learned reading various marketing and publicity books, word of mouth is really the best way to create a buzz.

This evening I took the time to look at my circle of friends and associates and divided the wheat from the chaff to determine who would buy my book and who would promote it for me. I estimated the number of books each of these folks could buy and sell. This was pure guess work with no mathematical rhyme or reason, but hey it’s my time and my calculator. Then I got ambitious and decided to guestimate library sales. This was a slightly more accurate calculation. I actually went to worldcat.org and looked at books from my publisher and came up with a strong estimate of the number of books public libraries would buy from a new author like me, using the world cat data from well...a new author like me. Finally, I threw some other numbers in the estimated book sales pot that I’m too ashamed to share the source of and came up with a grand total of about 2,000 book sales. “Hmmm, how am I to sell the other 8,000 books I want to run off the shelves in the first month”. No…really…I’m serious. After all, my goal is to quit my day job in a few years. We won’t even talk about how many books I need to sell to live out that dream. That’s a conversation between me and the Lord Jesus. And while I expect him to make a fish and bread miracle for me by turning 2,000 sales into 10,000, I know I have a part in this plan. It’s called “marketing”.

Jacqueline Deval in her title" Publicize Your Book”, identifies book marketing as, defining and reaching your potential readership, and then coming up with ways to convince them to buy your book. I spent several hours this week on MySpace, Shelfari, Good Reads and Shoutlife, updating my profiles and shelves and hungrily going after “cyber friends” that I’d determined were potentially in my target market. That would be women ages 25-50 who enjoyed reading women’s fiction. I came across the question posted by another author who couldn’t believe she was on MySpace, where she asked “Is this just shameless marketing?” I thought it’s marketing, but is there ever any shame in the game? Should there be?

Literary agent, Chip McGregor blogged a few months ago about the number of books published each year (400,000 last year) and the number that actually generate substantial sales. Substantial ranging from 100,000 to over a million. It was a dismal picture. Made me pray some more. Publishing is a tough business and the shy and "shamed" need not get in the game, because book selling is akin to prostitution. If you don’t push yourself further out on the curb than the next gal, you might not get noticed in the background. The truth is with shelf space shrinking by the year, chances are you won't even have a corner to stand on. "Buzz" sells books or at least gets people thinking about your book. Creating that buzz is about the tireless, relentless pursuit of folks who are trying not to waste $15 on a book they don’t like, especially now that they're paying nearly $4.00 a gallon for gas and food prices have skyrocketed. Let’s face it discretionary spending is down. This economy is eating into book spending dollars.

Big authors like Eric Jerome Dickey, Karen Kingsbury, the Left Behind series guys and the Brenda Jackson’s (congrats on the New York Times list) of the book selling world have their share of the book purchasing dollars. These marquee authors consistently crank out a book a year and some top authors are going to two. The reality is how many new authors does the average reader buy each year? How many can they really afford to take a chance on and still be assured to have a good book to read? My guess is not many. My guess is also the person who gets the sale would be the one that gets out on the corner first and the one who has a friend in every corner of the country telling all her friends and family about the book. So, Margaret, the move to California is not wasted. I appreciate having you creating the "buzz" where I can't.

In closing, here’s a hysterical video I found last week about book marketing. Have a good laugh. I'll make sure to send an email blast out when Oprah calls.
video

Thanks for stopping by!

Blessings,

Rhonda

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Murder, Mayhem, & A Fine "Writer"

Claudia Mair Burney
There's good writing, and then there's, well... really good writing. When I read Claudia Mair Burney's debut novel, Murder Mayhem and a Fine Man, I thought, where did this woman come from and how did she learn to write like this?

Claudia Mair Burney did the dogone thing. Amanda Bell Brown is a sassy and clever heroine. Sizzling dialogue, authentic description, and ever mounting conflict make it top notch reading. I couldn't stop laughing at the humor, was moved by the underlying spiritual message and was simply delighted to find a really well written novel. Book two, Death, Deceit, and Smooth Jazz stares at me from my night table. If it weren't for previous writing commitments, like this blog, writer's workshops I have to prepare for, and promises made to the people I'm critiquing, I'd be in a hot bath with a tall glass of ginger ale, grinning and laughing about what Bell and Jazz get into next. For those of you that haven't read it, here's the synopsis:

For Amanda Bell Brown, just living her life is murder!
How's a woman supposed to grapple with faith, a fine man, and turning thirty-five when she keeps tripping in her high heels over mysteries -- and not just the God kind?

Amanda Bell Brown knows that life as a forensic psychologist isn't quite as cool as it looks on prime-time TV. But when she turns thirty-five with no husband or baby on the horizon, she decides she's gotta get out and paint the town -- in her drop-dead red birthday dress. Instead, she finds herself at the scene of a crime -- and she just may know who the killer is. She needs to spill her guts, but not on the handsome lead detective's alligator shoes -- especially if she wants him to ask her out. A complicated murder investigation unearths not just a killer but a closet full of skeletons Amanda thought were long gone. Murder, mayhem, and a fine man are wreaking havoc on her birthday, but will her sleuthing leave her alive to see past thirty-five?

View the book video here:
video

Hurry and get a copy. I promise, you won't be able to put it down!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Michelle Larks


Today I welcome Christian Fiction Author, Michelle Larks. Michelle is the author of Keeping Misery Company and several other self-published titles. Welcome Michelle!

Tell us about your latest book, Keeping Misery Company: Keeping Misery Company is the story of a minister’s daughter, Ruth Wilcox, her husband, Daniel, leaves her for a younger woman. Ruth’s brother Ezra, is estranged from the family, and is in the last stages of AIDS. She tries to bring about a family reconciliation.

What inspired you to write Keeping Misery Company? A woman who’d read my book Crisis Mode, asked me to write a story about a married couple, who’s children leave the nest, and the husband leaves the wife for a young woman. Thus Keeping Misery Company was born. Although, she didn’t come out and say it, I believe it was the woman’s story.

Tell us about your writing process? I usually work on a character outline, appearance, professions, where they live, etc., when I begin writing a new story. As I write the ideas flow from my mind. I write 3-4 hours a day, and also keep a note pad nearby, or use my palm pilot to jot down ideas that I feel will enhance the story.

Your publishing credits include several self-published works. Tell me why you chose to self-publish and what advice would you give to other aspiring authors who are considering this option? Self-publishing was the rage a few years ago, and one of my sister’s gently nudged me, and said it was time for me to begin writing. For me, personally, it was a good way to learn the literary business, and make contacts that would be useful, if I was able to take my writing to the next level. I would tell aspiring authors to keep self-publishing in mind as an option. I would caution them that it can be expensive, and the author has to wear many hats. Overall self-publishing has been a satisfying experience for me.

What’s been the most exciting thing about being with a mainstream publisher? The most exciting thing about being a mainstream author is using the gift God gave me to write stories that touch and inspire lives. The second most exciting thing is the ability to reach a wider audience. The first week Keeping Misery Company was released, I received a flurry of emails from readers, telling me what stores they’d spotted Keeping Misery Company in.

I asked Michelle some personal questions and here are her answers:

Favorite color: My favorite colors are earth tones. I love combinations of beige and brown.

Favorite time of the year: My favorite time of the year is definitely summer.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be? If I could anywhere in the world, it would be on a European cruise.

If you could have a one hour meeting with the person of your choice (living or deceased) who would it be and why?
I’d love to meet my deceased Grandmother, who died giving birth to my mother. I’d like to know her as the person, her personality, likes and dislikes, and what made her tick, instead of hearing secondhand information.

If you were going to a deserted island and could only take one fiction book with you, what would it be?
If I were stuck on a deserted island, I’d have to have a copy of Child of God by Lolita Files with me. It’s a book I can always read it, again and again.

What would readers be surprised to know about you?
Readers would be surprised to know that I am shy, and quiet by nature.

What’s next for Michelle Larks?
My new title, The Legacies, will be released by Urban Christian Books in July of 2008. I can hardly wait!

How can readers contact you?
Readers and bookclubs can contact me, at michelle.larks@comcast.net, and on my website, http://www.michellelarks.com/, and via MySpace at www.myspace.com/michellelarks
Thanks for stopping by Michelle. I'm looking foward to The Legacies.





Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Mother’s Day Blessing of Gratitude

Yesterday I’d been pondering about the necessity of blogging for Mother’s Day. After all what writer or blogger would not seize the opportunity to tell a heartwarming or heartwrenching story of a Mother’s Day memory or some other poignant reflection. But writer though I am, I couldn’t think of anything interesting or different to say that any other blogger hadn’t already said and I vowed to myself when I began this process that I would never blog for the sake of blogging. Then there’s the other issues I have on the eve of Mother’s Day; the first being that my mom is in New Jersey, more than 900 miles away. She received flowers and a new Christian Fiction novel from me, but sending a gift is not the same as being there. Truthfully all I want to do is give her a hug and take her out for a nice dinner after church and I haven’t been able to do that on Mother’s Day for many years. Then there’s issue #2. I kinda dread the idea of going to church on Mother's Day. I know you’re gasping, what Christian mother doesn’t want to go to church on Mother’s Day. "Me", mainly because there’s a fifty percent chance the pastor will talk about that Proverbs 31 woman who’s perfection continues to elude me, but that's another post for another day. Shame on me. So you see the day holds no real excitement for me. What will be different about it, than any other? God answered that question in the wee hours of the morning and humbled me in a way that I’ll appreciate for many Mother’s Days to come. Here’s how it went:

I woke up at 4:30 a.m. to the sound of pouring rain and whipping wind outside my bedroom window. I looked out and couldn’t believe the weather. When had Fox 5’s meteorologist told us to expect this? I went to the nursery to look in on my toddler, instincts told me to pick him up and bring him close to me, which I did. We returned to my bed just as the power went out. I thought “No ceiling fan and I can’t open the window because of torrent going on outside. I hate when that happens because now the room will get warm.” I climbed back into bed and managed to fall asleep. An hour later my cell phone rang and I looked to find my writing buddy, Dee Stewart (www.christianfiction.blogspot.com) calling. Her words were “I was just checking to make sure you were okay, a tornado touched down over there. We’ve been in the bathtub for an hour, because when it left you it made its way over to us.” I sat up with a jolt; the clock radio wasn’t flashing, so I knew the power was still out. I told her to call me if she saw any other bad weather coming my way. I got up, checked on my sleeping 16 year-old and pulled back the curtain on his window which faces the front of the house. All looked well in my neighborhood. I breathed a sigh of relief and whispered the words, “Thank you, Jesus.”

Hours later, my power has been restored and I’ve returned to my seat on the bed. I’m fully dressed now, having returned from a close friend’s subdivision, just up the road from me, where the tornado touched down and destroyed almost 20 homes. While my friend's home was untouched, my heart goes out to her neighbors. Wood and wet clothing everywhere, picture frames, mattresses, parts of appliances, it’s just horrible. Like everything else in life, television can not depict the true horror of a scene like this. You have to see it with your own eyes. There’s a miracle here. No one was hurt. Things although valuable, can be replaced.


The power in my home comes and goes. During one of the on times, my 16 year-old prepares the perfect Mother’s Day breakfast of bacon, eggs, pancakes and toast and sent me back to bed to receive it. My 2 year-old leans on my shoulder with his thumb in his mouth still sleepy from having to endure a night in my bed and a ride through destruction. Being the fatalist that all mother’s occasionally are I can’t help but think about what could have happened if the tornado hit a half a mile north in my subdivision. Twenty-two people died in tornados in Oklahoma and Missouri just last week. Would I be looking in the precious faces of the children God blessed me with right now? Or had we survived, would we be standing outside inspecting our damage? Would I be thinking, I hope my computer is in tact so the novel I’m working on could be retrieved? What would we have lost?

God is gracious. While I know others are hurting, I appreciate the gratitude that has been planted in my heart this Mother’s day. The most precious gift in my life is these children and while I may be initimidated by the Proverbs 31 woman, I realize that I am a praying mother and that's what God has called me to be.

When I close this laptop, I'll slide into my bed for five more minutes of prayer and reflection with my Savior. A cool breeze fills the room as the sheer curtains fly and flap, but even if I couldn’t open the window, you can bet I wouldn't complain about it being warm.

Happy Mother's Day to All You Mommies and Blessings for Many More Years With Your Children!

Love,

Rhonda

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Welcome to Author - Tia McCollors

Today I welcome Christian/Inspirational author, Tia McCollors. Tia is the Essence Bestselling author of three novels, A Heart of Devotion, Zora's Cry and her latest title is The Truth About Love.

Welcome Tia! Congratulations on your new novel. Tell us a little about, The Truth About Love:

First of all, it was a joy to write, and I’m happy to see that the characters that readers first met in Zora’s Cry have reached peaceful places in their lives….for now! The Truth About Love is a peek into the lives of four women who grew to be “sisters in the heart” after they were put together in a prayer group. At this point in their lives, they’re all going through situations that force them to question their definition of love – marital strife, problems with a blended family, fear of commitment, and questioning the call of God. Of course, it wouldn’t be a novel without a dash of drama and unexpected twists.

What inspired you to write The Truth About Love?
More than anything else – television. You don’t have to watch late night cable stations these days to see what the world’s definition of love is. In my opinion, the media portrays love mostly as sex, lust, and other acts of perversion. If you read I Corinthians 13, you’ll find that it couldn’t be further from the truth.

Tell us about your writing process?
I wish I could say I had a very disciplined process when it comes to my writing schedule, but these days I’ve learned to go with the flow. With a busy two-year-old, another baby on the way in a couple of months, and an entrepreneurial family, I’m often pulled in many different ways.

When I’m able to sit down and write, I just let the words flow. With my current work in progress I did something I’ve never done before, and that was to outline the book first. I never was an outliner-kind-of-girl. However, I’ve found that it’s helped keep me focused and I’ve been able to get more accomplished in a shorter amount of time.

You’re a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Tell us about the benefits of ACFW and about your leadership position in the organization.

You can’t beat the networking opportunities with aspiring authors, current authors, publishing house editors, and other professional members of the literary community. Everyone is very open and willing to share information, and that’s something you’re not going to find with a lot of professional organizations. Also, there are more opportunities than you can count for honing your craft and skills – whether it be online courses or forums, or workshops held by local ACFW chapters.

As far as leadership, I’m currently serving as the Zone Director for the “Georgia On My Mind” chapters of ACFW. They include the Visions In Print (V.I.P.) and the Writers of Remarkable Design (W.O.R.D.) chapters.

I asked Tia to get personal and she answered these questions:

Favorite color: Orange – the color of fall leaves, not the bright Halloween shade!

Favorite time of the year: Spring (except for the pollen), and the first few weeks of fall

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be? It’s a toss up between Africa and Italy. It’s too hard to choose.

If you could have a one hour meeting with the person of your choice (living or deceased) who would it be and why? My maternal grandfather – Abraham. I hear so much about the great man he was and I’d love to meet him, even if it was just for one minute. He passed away before I was born.

If you were going to a deserted island and could only take one fiction book with you, what would it be? Whatever fiction manuscript that I was currently working on because it would be an excruciating experience if I couldn’t use the time to construct what I’m sure would be a bestseller. With no distractions, most authors would probably be amazed with what words would tumble on the page and end up building a masterpiece

What would readers be surprised to know about you?
I couldn’t really think of anything that readers would be surprised to know about me so I asked my husband. His (somewhat truthful) response was that, “You’re spoiled, just under rotten.” When I think about it, I can’t really argue with him.

What’s next for Tia McCollors? I’m currently working on a story for a half-book anthology, which I’m hoping to finish within the next month. After that, your guess is as good as mine. I’m thinking that the new baby will have my creative brain cells scattered about here and there and it’ll take a while for me to pull it together. Of course, with the countless hours I’ll be awake, I just might be able to pull off writing a book in a week. LOL! Pray for a sista!

We'll be praying for ya. Thanks for stopping by and congratulations on the new baby.
To learn more about Tia visit her online home at http://www.tiamccollors.com/ or www.tiawrites.com and www.myspace.com/tiawrites.
Her books can be found in bookstores everywhere.
Readers and writers may also learn more about American Christian Fiction Writers at http://www.americanchristianfictionwriters.com/


Sunday, May 04, 2008

African American Christian Romance: Where are you?

Today is the last day of the Romance Slam Jam Conference in Chicago and honestly, I really wish I was there. I've been reading African American romance since Angela Benson's "Bands of Gold" was released in 1994. I'm a long time fan of many romance authors - Francis Ray, Gwynne Forester, Beverly Jenkins, Bettye Griffin, Carmen Green, Brenda Jackson and the list really goes on and on, but I have to admit, they'd be signing their old romance titles for me, not the new ones, because I just don't buy very many African American romance novels anymore. As I've grown spiritually, it's all gotten a little to risque for me. That's why I love Christian romance, but for African American readers the titles are released few and far in between.

Romance is hot. In more ways than one. According to the Business of Consumer Publishing 2006, the net revenue from retail sources in the U.S. accounted for $6.31 billion in 2006. Romance sales accounted for $1.37 billion or 21% of the overall sales just behind religious/inspirational sales which accounted for $1.68 billion. According to the Assocation of American Publishers, religious/inspirational sales includes the sale of Bibles. (Thank God, folks are still buying the Bible in droves...there is hope for mankind.) Out of those massive numbers I count more than ten new African American offerings of romance on a monthly basis among mainstream publishers and then there are the countless self-published folks that are putting their work out there.

In those numbers are Christian romance sales and while many don't see how romance and Christian belong in the same sentence, the Christian Booksellers Association (CBA) is committed to romance. Of the 6,400 romance titles released every year, more than 6% of them are inspirational/Christian titles. That's over 30 titles a month from Christian publishers. But where are we in that number? There isn't even one title a month released by an African American author. When I think of the 90 or more authors currently at Slam Jam, I wonder if the problem is the CBA's rejection of our stories or "our" not wanting to write about whatever's pure, whatever's noble and whatever is of a good report... I have my theories, but that's a conversation for another day so, I won't go there.

Although rare, CBA African American Christian Romance does exist. In particular this month, I appreciate Barbour Publishing otherwise my dear sister in Christ, Cecelia Dowdy might not have a home for her new novel. Cecelia has a new release in Barbour's Heartsong Presents line. We'll celebrate Cecelia's success and pray that her sales are such that Heartsong expands their catalogue of stories with African American characters, so that we who love "love" without sex can enjoy a good story more than occassionally.

Here's a piece from Cecelia's Blog (http://www.ceceliadowdy.blogspot.com/) and more info about how to get her book:

Thursday, May 01, 2008

My Book Is Out...Officially!!
My book officially went on sale today, May 1, 2008! It's listed on the Heartsong Presents website: heartsongpresents.comThe price is only $2.97 + shipping! Also, if I understand correctly, you can order several books for the same shipping cost! You can always order mulitiple copies for your friends or church members, or, you can order some other Heartsong Presents titles in addition to mine! :-)You can order one of two ways:Simply place a call to the following phone number:(740) 922 7280Tell them you want to order Heartsong Presents title #794 entitled John's Quest.Or, if you prefer, simply print this order form and order my novel:http://www.heartsongpresents.com/download/pdf/order-form.pdfEnjoy! Also, I love hearing from readers! Feel free to let me know if you enjoyed the book!~Cecelia Dowdy~
Great cover for Cecelia and let me add to her plea about buying multiple copies that nursing homes, hospital and prison libraries always need book donations, so please buy more than one and donate.

Happy Reading!

Blessings,

Rhonda