Friday, August 31, 2007

Have you PCH'ed lately?

Have you been to the website lately?

My website, I mean.

Paula Chase Hyman dot com.

Lots o' new goodies are up. Like...

* The cover of Don't Get It Twisted, the much-awaited sequel to So Not The Drama.

* Ten Questions that Rock with my mija, Caridad Ferrer

* A whole slew of fall signings and appearances

* The OHficial Black Web Award nom announcement

And...ready for this?

Are ya?

An excerpt of Don't Get It Twisted.

Now, if that isn't the way to start off a holiday weekend...well, I just don't know what is.

Happy Labor Day, everybody!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Ten Questons That Rock - GCC Style: Caridad Ferrer

You can't help who your friends are. You just can't.

I know that cliques have a bad name and a negative connotation. But to me, a clique is just a circle of people you feel most comfortable around. They're people who you literally clicked with for one reason or another.

Well this chick is someone who I just click with.

She likes music.

I like music.

She writes teen lit.

I write teen lit.

Her first book, Adios To My Old Life was about a reality TV show.


She posts a weekly photo of the yummiest cabana boys on her LJ.

I loves cabana boys!

She's Cuban American and I'm...not. But thanks to her, nenesita is now my most fave spanish word!

She's also my first Clique Lounge two-timer. I mean... you know, this is her second round in the CL. She's back to talk a little bit about her next book, It's Not About The Accent.

So say, hola, to Caridad Ferrer. My mija.

TCL: If you could enter your MC into a MTV-style Celebrity Deathmatch, what protag would you want on your Celeb Deathmatch tag team and why?

CF: Oh man... I’d probably want Virginia Sauter from Jennifer Echols’ MAJOR CRUSH on the team with Caroline— I like girls who aren’t afraid to fly in the face of convention— it shows a certain creativity and think out of the box attitude and Virginia’s got that in spades!

TCL: Shoes say a lot about a person, what type of shoe are you?

CF: You know what I’m going to say, right? I’m a high-priced heel, preferably a really hot, pump with a catch your eye detail. It’s my favorite combination— a classic style with an unexpected embellishment that sets it apart— it’ll always be in style, but in your own individualistic manner. And they have to be comfortable! Marcello Toshi or Kate Spade, you know?

TCL Says: Mmmmm Kate Spade

TCL: What type of writer are you: plot-driven or character-driven?

CF: Oh, I’m a combination of both, I think. The plots I create dictate the sort of character that’s going to star in the story, but at the same time, the characters start taking on these lives of their own and start sending the plot off on these wild left turns to Albuquerque. It’s an adventure, lemme tell ya.

TCL: Word association time. What do you think when I say:

Chick-lit- It's being called anything but
Best seller- Nora
Best Band Ever- The Police
Most rockin’ author- Barbara Samuel

TCL Says: Anybody who loves The Police is aight with me!

Name the Top 3 books on your To Be Read (TBR) List

Rising Wind- Cindy Holby
Moongazer- Marianne Mancusi
Something Rotten- Alan Gratz

TCL: If you had anything to do with it, what would the next hot lit trend be?

CF: I’d love to see a trend towards books that bridge the gap between young adult and adult romance — books clearly aimed at late teens and twentysomethings. (Like the Shomi line for Dorchester, but across the board, with respect to genre, not just focusing on paranormal.)

TCL: What celeb would you love to see play your MC on the big or small screen and why?

CF: Hm... for Caroline, I always had Zoe Deschanel in mind because she looks equally pretty as a blonde and as a brunette.

TCL: Whether it’s because you admire their work or adore them, who’s your author crush?

CF: Oh, Barbara Samuel, on both counts. She’s an amazing writer and amazing person— I wanna be a writer like her when I grow up!

TCL: What TV show do you watch that you’re ashamed to admit liking?

CF: I don’t that there’s anything I watch that I’m all that ashamed of— maybe House Hunters on HGTV? It’s like this sick game I play, trying to figure out which of the three houses the people are ultimately going to pick. Sometimes I’ll catch snippets of My Super Sweet Sixteen and marvel at the train wreck that these girls are and wonder why on earth no one’s ever said no to them.

SSP: Tell the cliquesters why your book should be in their TBR list.

Because it’s all about exploring who you are and taking the opportunity to transform yourself, which I think a lot of us do, when we first go off to college— we all pretend to be different than how we were back at home. It’s a chance to start fresh. Sometimes, it’s a good thing, sometimes, not so much. I think Accent explores all of that and hopefully in surprising ways.

Summer's coming to a close ::sob, sob:: and sadly that will mean less reading time for the P-ster. But, I plan to go cop Accent and squeeze it in before my summer reading window closes. How 'bout you?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Vote Early...Vote Often

It's an honor just to be nominated.

Yeah, right. Let's win this thing.

The 2007 Black Web Awards has informed P that her website has been nominated Best Female Author Website.

[Insert humble nod and mouth the words "Me?"]

Here's the thing...I don't think I've ever won an award of any type. Oh except the big honking trophies my Hornet Honeys bring home every year. I mean, but who's keeping count? ::cough, cough 5 first place, 1-2nd place Nationals and 2 Grand champs cough, cough::

Anyway, technically, they win those, not coach.

So, if you're thinking - Yeah, the website's pretty hot, go on over and vote, vote, vote.

Warning, you'll have to register.

I know, I know. I hate that too.

But it's for a good cause.

Okay, not. But it'll help the environment.

Not really, but it may stomp out starvation.

Alright, alright. Voting will break up the monotony that is your day. And that is the truth.

So, vote.

That is all. You may go back to your regularly scheduled program.


Saturday, August 25, 2007

So Not The Drama - The Re-mix...err..iMix

Music, me likey, alot.

So Not The Drama's chapters start with a song lyric that best captures the vibe of what will happen in that chap. But there are definitely some songs that represent the story the book tells.

Check out SNTD's iMix.

Read the book?

Tell me if these songs rep DRAMA well. And if you disagree, meet me out back. Just jokes!

If you disagree, tell me what songs you think rep the flavor and vibe of Mina Mooney and her clique's first semester at Del Rio Bay High.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Old & Crotchedy

I'd like to think I'm neither of those things. Nonetheless, as I've had to rely more on concentration vs. inspiriation in my writing, I'm afraid I'm slowly going down the OC road - and I don't mean Orange County!

A funny thing happens to you when you go from "dreaming" about becoming a writer to being a professional writer - inspiration becomes one of those gauzy, flowery words used primarily to help non-writers understand where your ideas come from. Even though, in truth, if I only wrote when inspired I doubt very seriously I'd be on book 4 in my series.

I'm being dead honest here.

Do I still find inspiration around me that injects itself into my fiction?

You betcha.

Can I rely on that inspiration to fuel writing 5 or 7 days a week?

Hells no.

My first two books were fueled entirely by inspiration and a creative high that can only be rivaled, I imagine, by drug use. But I wrote them under very different circumstances:

* I was writing full-time (this is HUGE)

* I only had one child

* Did I mention I was writing full-time and only had one child?

Now, with an FTJ, a three year old, a nearly thirteen year old and a cluttered mind that sometimes forgets the names of my children, inspiration comes and goes. And more often than not, comes at a time when I'm simply not able to truly capture it.

Despite swimming in notebooks - I have about four of them in my car, one at the office and two in my home office - to ensure I can capture those inspired scenes and dialogue, truth is, my mind is usually so cluttered with other stuff, inspiration has to stand in line to get a meeting with me.

All of this has led to me being a bit crotchedy. Here's a typical example why...

It's mid-day. The house has finally reached a modicum of peace. The children are properly fed and watered. I say to myself, Self, go on up and get some writing done.

Because, honestly, some days the late nights and early mornings are just too hard.

The second I sit down in my office and get the file opened is when the house explodes into total chaos - battling siblings, shouting TV commercials, an inquiring spouse, and loud thumps from underneath my office that sounds like a demolition crew.

I simply can't work through that, anymore.

"Anymore" is probably giving me too much credit. It implies, I once was capable. Since I wrote the first two books under such different circumstances, I'll never know if my creative high would have helped me block these sounds out or not.

I've had a few creative highs since FTJ and Princess Bea came into the picture - but it's usually during those late nights and early mornings that are now solidly kicking my arse.

Because my game plan is to always stay young of mind, I refuse to be OC.

So, I'm getting these - noise reduction headphones. Aren't they pretty?

Monday, August 20, 2007

This I'll Go See

It's no secret that I'm not a big Tyler Perry fan.

Or rather, I'm not a big Madea fan.

Note: "not a big fan" does not mean I dislike the character. So chillax!

I actually totally respect Tyler Perry's hustle. I love that he's taking his plays -productions that were once only fodder for chitlin' circuit theatre- and turned them into big money movies.

I love that his portrayal of African Americans are both heartwarming and cringe-inducing (because yes, some of the more exxagerated portrayals just aren't my flavor of humor).

And while some people act like I'm stone cold crazy because I haven't flocked to the theatre to see any of his movies - I must remind you - I rarely flock to the theatre to see anything!

I'm more of a DVD renting, Pay-per-View gal.

Still, as Perry has matured in his film making (and I'm willing to forgive him for the TBS show which I don't think is funny at all), his movies are growing on me.

I watched Madea's Family Reunion over the weekend and aside from a little predictability and a few too many melodramatic music clips in the background, I genuinely enjoyed it.

His latest, Why Did I Get Married? definitely sounds like something I'd go see and...hold your seats, in the theatre!!!

It reminds me of The Best Man, one of my fave flicks. It's almost like, this could be a sequel to The Best Man - the aftermath of the wedding madness.

Madea is noticeably missing from this film. And I think that's a good thing.

Although his franchise was built on the matronly character, there comes a time to move on. And this film seems to be Perry's way of saying - I reeled you in with her, but the beauty is in my story listen.

Okay, Tyler, I'm listening.

Check out the trailer.

Friday, August 17, 2007

How Ya' Buying?

There's been a lot of talk over at Blogging In Black about the quality (or lack thereof) of today's commerical African-American literature and the number of shady businesses popping up claiming to be publishers - thus increasing the number of poorly written or simply not ready for prime time books.

After all the comments were said and done, it seemed that plenty of readers were tired of wading through bad books that claim grammatical errors, typos, and poor plotting are "keeping it real."

Still, publishing is a business. And supply and demand is a weird little cycle. Based on the number of books available of questionable standard, that means someone is buying them. Period. Plain and simple, someone - a lot of someones, in fact, are buying them.

Nothing speaks louder in our country than the greenback. So, as a reader, you must ask yourself, are you supporting the products and types of books that you really want or have you resigned yourself to buying what's out there, no matter the quality?

Do you hunt for new, fresh voices? Continue to support those you like who have proven their mettle in the writing game?

If you can't remember the last time you purchased or borrowed your "favorite" authors work, that's a problem.

If you're unable to find the type of lit you want, yet still find yourself purchasing books of questionable quality, do you feel responsible, in part, for the lack of quality literature available?

Readers, let me know - how ya' buying?

I Heart JA Konrath

Recently, I discovered JA Konrath's blog.

This blog is chock full of good stuff for writers - new, established, aspiring.

Having recently purged my daily schedule of reading a slew of blogs, I'm slowly discovering blogs that are worth checking in on. JA Konrath's is one of them.

If you're in need of some really sound advice from a writer more established than yourself, check it out.

Some of my favorite JA tidbits:

* Writing Myths
Myth #1Writer's write everyday. Right on, JA. I've tried it and it's just damn hard!

* Sins and Virtues for writers

Virtue: Sharing major successes with family and close friends.
Sin: Sharing major and minor successes with everyone moments after they occur. (Hmmm...)

*Promoting tips
Answer email. Simple enough and I can afford that!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Hanging With the Cool Kids

You know, that title probably made just as many people cringe as smile.

Is that just a phrase you hate or what? Who in the heck are the cool kids?!

In most cases that descriptor is purely subjective. But, sometimes and in very rare cases it's factual. Like today. So Not The Drama was ranked #12 among Amazon children's books about popularity.

And guess who else was there chillaxing in the "popular" circle of the top 25?

Come on, guess!

Okay, okay: Meg Cabot (O'Queen of YA series fiction), Jerry Spinelli, Cecily Von Ziegesar (Gossip anyone?), Lauren Barnholdt (one of my Teen Lit pals), Stephanie Hale (who served detention with me when her book got me in trouble this past, May), and Melissa Kantor.

Now, before you go throwing me a party (which would be nice, actually) these rankings change every few seconds - okay, hourly - so it's not like New York Times love, or anything.

But it's still cool to see your book ranked up there with some of YA's hottest authors.

Me, I take the love where ever I can get it.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Somebody always does it better

If there is a more insecure profession than that of being an author, please speak now or forever hold your peace.

I don't think there are very many career paths that come with as many doubts and insecurities as that of the creative "being." So, I know actors, artists or musicians feel me on this.

Today, I read the first in the Midnighters series. Scott Westerfeld is my new author crush, by the way. I love the way Westerfeld paces his stories. I love how fluid time is in his novels. How easily the characters move from one point in the novel to the next, without you even knowing it.

I don't know how many times, while reading, I stopped and pondered for stretches of time about whether or not I'm pacing my novels as well as I should.

This pondering, is an incredibly pointless exercise. Because once I sit down to write, what flows out of my fingers is what flows out of my fingers. I have no more control over it than I can text message my muse and ask her to please, visit because I have a deadline to meet.

Fact is, marveling at someone else's writing strengths is an occupational hazard.

No matter how well we do something, someone will always do it better. At least in our eyes.

The ability to write is one of those talents/skills that one can possess yet not completely control the way we'd like to.

Tonight, after finishing The Secret Hour (in one evening) I had one of those lightening bolt moments. I realized that probably someone will read one of my books and like something about it (I hope). They may even like something that I angsted over or thought I didn't do so well. All because, the end product, has been through a thorough QC process.

That's quality control or in writer's terms, the editor.

It's like, suddenly, as I'm reading and having a mild anxiety attack about my writing never meeting my own expectations I understand that two pairs of eyes are better than one because what I miss, she'll catch. What I glossed over, she'll force me to drill down into detail. What I drill down too far on, she'll help bring the 50,000 foot picture back into view.

As I tread deeper into these waters of writing a series, I'm learning what my role is an author. And I've come to accept that while I may be the ultimate teller of the story, it takes my editor to ensure I'm telling it to the best of my abilities.

Saying I look forward to edits is like saying you look forward to getting a shot at the doctors. But like a shot, edits make my story stronger. I get too caught up in the story to see its flaws. As my first reader, my editor is able to ask the tough questions and buff out the dings and dents.

I may always have a torrid love/hate affair thing with the whole editorial process. But everytime I read and enjoy a good book, it's evident that a good story doesn't get that way by itself by a long shot.

Monday, August 06, 2007

It was all a dream

Except it wasn't.

Received an email from my editor today - copy review for the cover of, That's What's Up! the third in my Del Rio Bay Clique series. As I was reading it, I thought - Hmm...that books sounds interesting enough to read.

And then I remembered - oh wait, I wrote it! I already read it.

Sometimes I have days like that. Something will happen to remind me that being a writer isn't a dream, but my reality. And every time it jolts me a little.

It's so easy to get caught in the day-to-day of being a writer:

- long nights

- early mornings

- blocked juices

- insane promos

I've never had a day where I didn't enjoy the profession. Never had a moment where the cons outweighed the pros. But, I'd be lying if I didn't admit that some days the thought of facing a blank page and turning it into a 75,000 word book doesn't sit on my chest like a 800-lb gorilla.

But then, I'll see the new cover to one of my books. Or read the copy and I'm reminded that a) I'm not in this alone. There are a whole team of people at Kensington who are working to make my books the best they can be and b) it takes a whole lot of work on my part and theirs to make this look easy!

Reading the cover copy made me want to read the book. And hopefully that means it will make others feel the same way. The reader will never know the doubt I had in writing any passage or the struggles my publisher's marketing team may have had in getting the copy "just right."

All they'll know is - gee, I want to read that.

Very, very cool.

This folks, is what we call a good writing day.

An Open Letter To...BET

Dear BET,

If you're looking for a writer to help you polish Baldwin Hills - give me a call.

I like a lot of mindless TV. I mean, I watched Cop Rock back in the '90's. Need I say more? So when I sat down to watch Baldwin Hills, I was fully prepared to like your take on Laguna Beach Af-Am style. I mean, you're talking to a chick who is counting down to the season premiere of The Hills. You couldn't find a more made-to-order fan if you tried.

And before you go saying - well, Miss P, you're well out of our- ahem- demographic. I sat and watched it with my twelve-year-old (another The Hills fan, and most likely part of your demo) and pretty much we concur on the following:

* Cut down the cast

11 cast members?! What were you thinking?!?!? If I have to spend half the show remembering the cast members names, that's a problem. Nevermind the fact that three of the cast members names sound similiar - Gaven, Garnette, and Gerren. Good grief! No pun intended.

* Where's the drama?

Now how should I put this? Hmm...a scene of Gaven and Staci on a date should probably actually include them doing something or going somewhere. The 15-minute too long scene of them standing in front of that gate or whatever...a snoozer. And then they were talking about school. Huh?!

Gaven and his fam having dinner? Wha?!

* Parent scenes = zzzzzzz

Look, I respect that the parents are given some face time. Culturally, black parents tend to be a lot more heavy handed - so having a show where parents have no say would be culturally inaccurate. But still, cut those scenes to a minimum. Drama, drama and more drama is all the viewer cares about...and not of the "My momma won't let me go," variety.

How about Moriah sneaking out? Then being dragged home by his older bro? Then letting momma chew into him. But a seven minute scene of her pondering whether he can go to a party and then finally letting him go? Yawn!

* Story arcs, try 'em

I'm a writer of YA fiction, I know how hard it is to create story arcs that include everyone. So go back to problem #1. Once you do, it'll be a lot easier to create story arcs around 3 or 4 central characters. Not sure which of these characters bring the most drama, but I'm thinking Staci, Gerren and possibly Ashley might deliver. Yup, focus on the girls. Wherever they are, drama will follow. Trust!

Consider dumping the narration and build up the friggin' drama by SHOWING us the drama.

Example: Moriah gets a call from his girlfriend while out with Gerren - show his girlfriend lighting into his cute little butt. Him telling us it was his girlfriend was anti-climatic. Hell, I didn't even know he had a girlfriend.

Tension. Tension. We need some tension!

* Forget the race

I like that you attempted to portray a side of African American life that's often left out of the mainstream. However, that can't be the sole purpose of the show!! We get it, not everyone from LA is from the ghetto. But so far, you haven't shown us what makes their lives all that different or special. Kids from wealthy backgrounds tend to have access to more things, privileges that others don't...right now, the scenes could be of my daughter and her friends (typical burb teens). Either give us a peek into this "other" side or stage some drama - right now, there's no there there.

Look, I'm an equal opportunity TV watcher. And I happen to have a special affinity for reality TV that makes me forget that the people I'm watching are real vs. actors. I'm hoping God will forgive me for hating The Hills' Heidi and Spencer, one day.

Take Baldwin Hills back to the drawing board and for God's sake, follow the reality TV rules:

1. Create Drama

2. Sustain Drama

3. Resolve Drama

4. Go back to #1


Hugs and Kisses,


Ten Questions That Rock: GCC Style - Amanda Ashby

It's Monday. It's muggy. And today is the first day of cheer practice.

Excuse me while I debate whether any of these are good or bad things. As I ponder, check out my interview with Amanda Ashby, author of You Had Me At Halo (love that title).

Amanda, you're on!

TCL:What protag would you want on your Celeb Deathmatch tag team and why?

AA: I've got to admit that I've never watched Celebrity Deathmatch before but if I had to pick on character to be on my tag team I've got to say Stephanie Plum from
Janet Evanovich's books - mainly because Stephanie always seems to come through in the end and she always has a good supply of donuts - these things are important!!

TCL: Shoes say a lot about a person, what type of shoe are you?

AA: The sad truth is that I haven't spent much money on shoes OR clothes since my kids were born and sometimes I go out of the house looking like a COMPLETE wreck!
Definitely one of the joys of motherhood that no one talks about!!

TCL: What type of writer are you: plot-driven or character-driven?

AA: I'm a bit of both. I have to have a strong character but I do really like their actions to drive a strong plot with a few twists and turns along the way. After all, it's through adversity that we really get to see someone's metal!

TCL: Word association time. What do you think when I say:
Chick-lit - wicked
Best seller - yes please
Best Band Ever - The Beatles
Most rockin' author - Georgette Heyer

TCL: Name the Top 3 books on your To Be Read (TBR) List

AA: 'Must love Dragons' by Stephanie Rowe, Revenge of The
Homecoming Queen by Stephanie Hale and Frenemies by
Megan Crane (a fellow GCCer!)

TCL: If you had anything to do with it, what would the next hot lit trend be?

AA: Quirky, light-hearted, paranormal romantic comedies would be pretty nice!

TCL: What celeb would you love to see play your MC on the big or small screen and why?

AA: This book would actually be a casting directors nightmare since despite it being heroine led, most of it happens in a guy's body (while he's still in there) so I guess my heroine would mainly be heard but not seen, and I'd probably chose Amanda Bynes because I think she does great comedy and for the hero it would have to be
Jensen Ackles!

TCL: Whether it's because you admire their work or adore them, who's your author crush?

AA: I don't know if it's a crush, but when I grow up I would like to write books
like Julie Kenner!

TCL: What TV show do you watch that you're ashamed to admit liking?

AA: Sadly, I'm completely shameless and am not remotely embarrassed by any of my television habits (unlike my husband who shudders at half the things I watch).

SSP: Tell the cliquesters why your book should be in their TBR list.

AA: My book is about a 22 year old dead girl who gets sent back to earth to sort out her issues. Unfortunately, due to a small technical error, she gets sent back in
a guy's body...while the guy is still in it. So if you like serious books, then this definitely isn't for you. But if you liked shows like Buffy and Angel, then there's a good chance you might like reading about Holly and Vince and how they manage to get through the longest two days of their life!