CYBER WEEK SALE: 50% off ERRYTHANG!

AAAAAAGGGHHHHH! This was supposed to have been sent on MONDAY, but when I switched from “draft” to “publish” on the WordPress app, I guess the app/phone interface didn’t get the memo. Grrrr…

Anyway, here is the original post that SHOULD have gotten to you a few days ago. *sigh*

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Hi all,

I haven’t blogged in a long while because I was dealing with an ill family member, NaNoWriMo, Thanksgiving, and the imminent publication of my fourth book.

Well, the family member is better, I didn’t finish NaNoWriMo this year (only got to 27K words), T-Day is over, and my fourth novel, Stormbringer, is out as of today. WOOT!

Since it’s that time of the year where everyone and their grandmother is offering a sale, I figured I’d jump on the bandwagon. 🙂

Here ya go: my biggest. sale. EVER.

50% off (yeah, I said it), all titles through my website. Yes, that includes my newest book, Stormbringer.  Enter code CYBERTIFF at checkout.

You can find details in the latest email that went out to my mailing list (and if you aren’t on my mailing list, then what are you waiting for?)

http://eepurl.com/bHIIdL

This sale is going on all week through Saturday, 12/5. Free U.S. shipping on all orders of $10 & up. How cool is that?

For those of you who wanted to try my books but were frugally conscious, now’s your chance! And did I mention that I now offer the mass market versions of The Bastille Family Chronicles: Dominic and Blizzard: A Sebastian Scott novel? The regular price for those is $8.00 each; if you buy them this week, you can get them for $4 each.  That’s two for the price of one, which is a pretty good incentive to buy both. 😀 And the larger paperbacks, which are $14.95 each, can now be had for about $7.50! At this price, you can get all the titles and stock up for your holiday reading.

Oh, what a bargain! What a bargain for you!

And did I also mention that the books come autographed? And that they make great gifts? Just saying.

The offer is only good through my website, and ends at 11:59 pm ET on Saturday, December 5. Remember to use the code CYBERTIFF at checkout. Come through and gitchu a piece.

Thanks for stopping by.

Stuck (pt. 1)

I haven’t blogged in quite some time. An emergency hospitalization of my grandmother (for whom I’m a caretaker) which required me to spend both nights there; followed by week-long bout with the flu (which I probably picked up from the hospital, but I digress) doesn’t bode well for the creative process. Even as my full recovery drew nearer, and I did my usual “write it in your head” part of my process, I faced a crisis that strikes fear in the heart of every creative:

I got stuck.

Once I was able to stop sleeping for long periods of time, and managed to stop coughing up a lung, I tried to work on the rewrite of next book in my Bastille Family Chronicle series, which is Dominic’s story. I made major changes to his love interest, which required more research (shoutout to Cynthia and Ekaterina for the gamer info!)–which required a recalibration of the plot, especially after I added some different tension points to the love interest. But the flow still wouldn’t come.

Then I pulled up the first draft of the novel I started for National Novel Writing Month 2012. This was a more serious book (the BFC series are contemporary romances), which take longer for me to write. Tinkered with that some, made some progress. But I felt guilty because I wasn’t working on the BFC book, which my readers are looking for by spring.

Then I managed to write a science/speculative fiction/fantasy (SFF) short story for submission to a magazine. The story was based on an SFF book I started back in…2006, or somewhere around there. Anyway, that was kind of fun, and made me think about revisiting that book again. And the guilt over writing another BFC book took over.

I had to ask myself why I felt so guilty. Was the thrill gone from the series already (I’ve only published the first one, and have five more to go)? If so, why? I’ve gotten positive word-of-mouth feedback from readers so far, and the excerpt seemed to work toward introducing me to a broader audience of fans. My readers are looking forward to the next five books, as well as a stand-alone spinoff. The book is selling, again via word-of-mouth. So what’s the problem?

I thought long and hard about it, and my conclusion wasn’t pretty. And I have The Ninja to thank for it.

More on this in a later post. Thanks for stopping by.

Seeking Your Own Level

Much ado has been made about writing workshops. For many, they provide safe spaces in which to share work and (hopefully) receive informative, constructive criticism. With the advances made in technology, face-to-fave workshops are no longer the default. There is now a plethora of virtual writing workshops that are just a mouse click or a hash tag away.

I’ve done both virtual and in-person workshops, with varying results. The virtual one didn’t help my writing much in the short term (it was comprised primarily of poets and since I was a prose writer, getting critiques was a challenge), but I still keep in touch with my writing partners from that time: one of whom has been instrumental in eyeballing and critiquing my current two books. The in-person one was more helpful toward my long-term writing, as I got more hands-on instruction from a more established (and published) writer.

Having been on both sides of the workshop aisle, I have come away with the following mantra: seek your own level.

All workshops are not created equal. Sadly, what starts out as a place to get helpful feedback quickly turns into too comfortable a zone. It is not uncommon to find people who have participated in workshops for years, with little progress toward getting their work out to the masses. This does not necessarily mean publication, though that’s a goal. But not even so much as a blog, or a Facebook group, or some tweets? That’s a problem, especially when such people are telling you what’s wrong with your work.

One of the things I liked most about my old in-person workshop was the caliber of the participants. All of us were on somewhat equal footing: we all had to apply for entry into the workshop (some more than once) and we all wrote at roughly the same level. We also all wrote prose, though different genres, and we all had the same goal: publication.  We met daily for two weeks (eight hours a day), had one-on-one meetings with the workshop facilitator (a critically acclaimed author), and at the end had a polished novel.

My virtual workshop was a lot more lax, with writers not just in different genres, but at different writing levels. People posted critiques as they pleased, which meant some pieces went uncritiqued for long periods of time. Some people wanted to be published, some wanted to improve their writing, and some were just there for the social aspect. Having attended the in-person workshop some years after the virtual one, their differences were made obvious, as was the environment that best facilitated my writing and learning.

If you are serious about your craft, you have to surround yourself with like-minded people. Only those who are traveling in your direction will understand–and encourage–the work that needs to occur en route to success. Water, like harmony, seeks its its own level. While finding your tribe is great, there comes a time when you have to leave the safety of the tribe in order to move toward that which you seek. Everyone in the tribe won’t be happy for you, and some may try to deter you–particularly if you may succeed where they have failed. At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself if the tribe is worth the sacrifice of your dream.

Thanks for stopping by.

Very Inspiring Blogger Award!

Over the holidays, I was surprised and honored to be given a Very Inspiring Blogger Award by Kalisha Buckhanon of the Negression blog.

Inspirational Blogger Award

When I blog, I usually just write about what’s percolating in that creative yet dystopian landscape that is my brain. It can be hard to swallow, sometimes, as I’m not known in real life for pulling too many punches. That being said, it’s nice to be recognized by a peer as contributing something of positive value.

Per the parameters of this award, I should list seven things about me that you probably don’t know. Those things are:

  • I hate carrots and artichokes (they are DARK-SIDED)
  • I am severely arachnophobic (afraid of spiders)
  • I’ve been previously published in two nonfiction anthologies (which are, alas, currently out of print, but available for large sums of money on used book sellers)
  • I started my post-college career in healthcare, including direct patient care, research, and as a policy analyst for a healthcare nonprofit in Washington, DC. Stayed in this industry for over ten years.
  • Tea is my beverage of choice. Hot, cold, winter, summer…it’s all good. Black teas, of course. 😉
  • I’m an only child
  • I was a professional restaurant chef for 4.5 years in the Bay Area and Miami, FL areas (yep, went to culinary school and everything), and did my externship at Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, CA (Alice Waters, anyone?)

The parameters also state that I need to pay it forward and nominate fifteen blogs that I, too, find inspiring. This was a challenge, since I don’t read a lot of blogs, although I get a lot of email updates (and I read them in my email, not necessarily the actual blog page–I think that counts LOL). Also, a lot of times “inspiring” tends to be synonymous with “uplifting” and “positive”; inspiration can also be borne of anger, injustice, and frustration, so long as it’s properly channeled. The blogs I list below have inspired me in one way or another: some by laughter, some by tears, some by dismay. Quite a few I discovered via Blog Her and National Blog Posting Month. So without further ado, these are the blogs that have caught my eye over the past year, and in no particular order:

  1. Negression
  2. In Search of His Face
  3. Black Girl Nerds 
  4. My Life Runs on Food
  5. The Culinary Life
  6. Jonathan Beverley
  7. My Black Mind
  8. Mimi G. Style
  9. Life In Training
  10. Rhymes With Mascara
  11. My So-Called Glamorous Life
  12. A Little More Sauce
  13. Stand Up and Say OW!
  14. Cancer Is Not Pink
  15. Jeneration Why

Now I have to contact the members of these blogs and tell them I find them (and their blogs) inspirational. Maybe they’ll respond, maybe they’ll ignore. *shrug* Oh well.

Your mission, dear readers, if you choose to accept it: if you want to share the love, here are the rules for this award:

1. Thank the person who nominated you and add a link to their blog.

2. Display the award on your post. 

Inspirational Blogger Award

3. Proudly display the award logo (or buttons) on your blog, whether on your side bar, ABOUT page, or a special page for awards.

4. State 7 things about yourself.

5. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award.

6. Contact your nominees to let them know you have nominated them. Provide a link to your post.

Alright…that’s done. Get to nominating!

Thanks for stopping by.

On the Level (NaBloPoMo day 30)

Total blog post goal: 30

Today’s blog count: 31

Total blog posts: 31

A phone conversation and a random YouTube interview intersected at a common point today.

I was on the phone with one of my sorority sisters, who is also a writer, albeit a bit earlier along in her career than I. We were discussing a writing conference she’d recently attended, and she asked me if I ever thought about pursuing a traditional publishing contract. I replied been there, done that, and given the current state of traditional publishing, I’m cool with the DIY route (self-publishing).

Later on this evening, I watched a 2012 interview on YouTube of NBA player Anthony Davis (“The Brow”), the star of the New Orleans Pelicans. Since the interview was for/by the Wall Street Journal and was during Davis’s rookie year, the focus was on his finances: how to deal with having such a sudden and large influx of money, how Davis spends it (or not), what the NBA teaches them about financial management during its Rookie Transition Program, etc.

One of the things Davis was asked, concerned the perception of the people in his life about him, since he signed his NBA contract after being picked number one overall in the 2012 draft. He spoke wistfully of having to end some friendships after he went into the NBA, because these people just wanted money, notoriety, etc, from him–the opposite of what a friend should do or be. He also spoke of keeping trusted advisers around him, including a financial manager and business manager, to keep both his bank account and sanity on track.

I thought about his words as I re-examined my own life, since I self-published my first book back in July of this year. While most of the people in my life have been supportive, there are those who have not. I’ve always had a good sense of “friends” versus “acquaintances”, especially as I grew older. And, for anyone who is a member of any type of extracurricular group (social, community-based, professional, etc),  the distinction is further delineated among “friends/sisters/brothers” and “members of the same organization”. There is something to be said for keeping your personal circle very small. At least it becomes easier to determine if someone is stabbing you in the back.

I am even more cognizant of the phrase “Water seeks its own level.” I never really understood that until a few years ago. It means that as you progress and succeed, you’re automatically going to gravitate toward those who are moving in the same upwardly mobile direction as you, and attract the same. I am noticing this in small waves; in the past month alone, I have been in contact with people and organizations that are more in line with the vision I have for my writing as a business.I’m getting requests to connect on LinkedIn that are mind-boggling.. Yesterday’s blog post was retweeted by the very author about whom I wrote (to which I responded with a fangirl squeal). And, in a moment of synchronicity, this same author had a tweet on his page that said:

Likewise, I’m remembering an old adage my grandmother used to say: “You can’t fly like an eagle if you’re surrounded by turkeys.” In order to succeed, you have to surround yourself with like-minded people. That’s not to say you should ignore everyone who is not on the same path with you, but you have to understand that your path has to be walked by you; no one else can do it for you. And sometimes, that path must be walked alone, or in the company of those other than your originally planned companions.

2015 is going to be a busy year. I hope to see some of you on the journey.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

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Reading Rampage Nostalgia: Eric Jerome Dickey (NaBloPoMo day 29)

Total blog post goal: 30

Today’s blog count: 30

Total blog posts: 30

Finding an old book is like finding an old friend. And, like some friendships, it’s easy to take stock of where and who you were when the friendship started, and how things stand now.

I found copies of paperbacks from an author I used to read religiously, Eric Jerome Dickey, and went on a reading rampage. I started with Friends and Lovers, which was, according to him, the second book he wrote, but the first published. Then I followed with Cheaters. I’m debating on whether to read Sister, Sister (first book written, but not the first published–in fact, some of his characters from this book show up in Cheaters). All of this really got started a few weeks ago, when I re-read Thieves’ Paradise (which remains, hands down, my favorite of all his books–and I’ve read most of them).

sister-sister EJD cheaters EJD friends lovers EJD thieves paradise EJD

One of the things that struck me was that I was in a much different place when I first picked up these books over…wow, has it been at least fifteen years? In the aforementioned books (along with Milk in My CoffeeLiar’s Game and Between Lovers, which were all written during the same time frame), all of his characters are in their late twenties/early thirties. As a result, they were still finding out who they were, their place in the world, and still members of Team Bad Decisions. Fifteen or so years ago, these books resonated with me more because I was within those same demographics (even at the ripe old age of 41, I’m still Team Bad Decisions sometimes). Now, I read the books and enjoy the stories on a more superficial level. Likewise, in reading his later books, I can see where Mr. Dickey has grown as a writer; perhaps that’s why I love Thieves’ Paradise so much: that was when his writing seemed to make that next evolutionary step, which may have had something to do with him being able to finally write the novel he always wanted to write (he told me this after an author signing for Thieves’ Paradise, which was arranged by a mutual friend).

I still have copies of the other books somewhere in a box, and I may dig them out and read them someday, although Between Lovers is one of his most complex books, and was the book that was published right before Thieves’ Paradise (so I guess that’s where I caught glimpses of that evolutionary step). I’ll enjoy the books with a side of nostalgia, then put them back on the shelf when I’m done. I may pick them up again in a few years.

between-lovers-eric-jerome-dickey-paperback-cover-art

I don’t read many of his books now; he’s gone in a totally different direction, for the most part; his books are more in the vein of Thieves’ Paradise and Between Lovers: more gritty, more layered and nuanced adult relationships, and less wide-eyed, finding-oneself, time-to-be-a-grownup tropes. Still, I’m not as connected to them as I once was; I see less of myself in his current slate of books, and thus they have become just entertainment for me. I’m happy for him, that he’s writing what he wants to write, what he was meant to write–heck, that he’s still writing. He’s approximately my age, and his writing has reflected his personal evolution and growth, as well as his writing ones. But like an old friend, sometimes you just go in different directions and have to have a parting of the ways. You find new friends, but you keep the old ones on the shelf–and take them off once in a while, dust them off, and enjoy.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

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Letting it Flow (NaBloPoMo day 28)

Total blog post goal: 30

Today’s blog count: 29

Total blog posts: 29

 

Today was a no-writing day. I slept, ate Thanksgiving dinner leftovers, watched basketball, read, and thought about writing.

So much for rest. 🙂

Seriously: I had two story ideas and had to stop myself from reaching for my laptop and writing down the first few sentences/paragraphs/pages. That’s what happens when the writing mind is free of constraints (e.g., workshop/contest deadlines) and allowed to flow…stuff just comes to you. I also played with some various scenario twists for this year’s NaNo novel draft, but again; I’ll just jot them down and revisit them seriously next year sometime.

I will get back on my writing job on Monday, when I start revising the draft of the next Bastille novel that will be released in January. Until then, I will enjoy the weekend and catch up on reading and binge-watching my shows and movies.

But I’ll probably sneak some quick writing in. ‘Cause that’s what we writers do. Writing: it’s not just a job, it’s an adventure! (Shoutout to anyone who remembers that reference, which means you’re an American at least over 35 years of age LOL).

Thanks for stopping by.

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