Thursday, November 29, 2007

Library Visits - The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

I am officially, the Queen of Library visits.

Okay, slight exxageration. But having done ten visits in the last 30 days, it sure does feel like I should be. Having done them in such an intense burst, I thought I'd share my insight:

The Good

1) Come on, it's a library! Libraries are where readers come to worship at the altar of the book. What's not to love about hanging out where books are appreciated and loved?

2) It gets you out of the house. Let's face it, if given a choice, us writers would be more comfortable behind our PCs in our sweats than the center of attention. But doing visits keeps us up on our social graces (no talking and mumbling to people who aren't actually there) and ensures we attend to hygiene that we could otherwise cut corners on.

Your computer may not care if you have onion breath, but the library patrons might.

3) Extra income! I'm a pretty cheap library visit date. But if I were writing full-time and needed a good income supplement, this would be it.

4) The exposure is killer. All of my visits have been within one county's library system. The library branches worked hard to promote my visits (surreal to see your name on the marquee) and even when the visit didn't yield many patrons, the name in lights and posters with my big head picture on them throughout the library likely picqued some people's interest enough for them to check out the book. How do I know? Because I checked the system's catalog and since my mini-tour, my books have consistently been checked out. Sweet!

But with some sun usually comes a little rain. So...

The Bad

A. Have you ever held a smile for a really long time waiting on the photographer to snap the daggone pic? You're smiling but you start thinking - Take it already! because your mouth hurts and you just want to go back to being yourself. That's what being at a visit is like. You have to be "on" - no easy feat for someone who normally works in total seclusion.

Furthermore, whether twenty people show up or two, you've got to engage the patrons. Just because only one person shows up, you can't tuck away your A game and only bring out the C. I won't say it's as tough as digging ditches, but definitely there's a degree of mental exhaustion that comes from being "on."

B. Planning time = no writing. For me, at least.

I suggest, planning like you're going to have a big audience but prepare yourself for way less.

With that in mind, planning an interactive presentation (the only type I like to do, because you've got to be incredibly charismatic to make talking fun) to keep teen patrons interested is no joke. Teens have been in school all day, the last thing they want to do is spend their evening hours hearing you talk. So my presentation always involves getting them up, out of their chairs and participating. Thinking of ways to do that means I can't focus too much attention on much else for fear I'll drop the ball on either my prep or my writing.

So split your attention at your own risk. Teens smell fear and lack of prep a mile away.

The Ugly

There's only one really...picture this: you've spent days/weeks preparing for this visit. You've gotten all your giveaways together. You know what you're going to say. Have timed it so you don't go over or under. And the day comes and the room is packed with you, the librarian and silence.

Not much you can do about it. It happens sometimes.

Of my ten visits, I've had one where no one showed up until the last five minutes and another where only one person showed.

I still gave my presentation, all the same. It's not pretty, but that's the biz.

Oh, one more ugly - I haven't written a lick since early October. So I'm looking forward to taking my promo hat off for awhile and getting back down to the business of writing. In the midst of promotion, it's easy to forget that you're in this for the writing.

As for these library visits - I'd recommend them to anyone who has a library system eager to sponsor them. Bring your "A" game though - teens can be a tough audience. Me, I'm taking a small break but plan on getting back on the library trail in the spring and summer.

Whew...light a candle for me.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hang out or Get out

I've been thinking about Sean Taylor a lot the past few days.

When I heard he'd been shot, it was in passing while I was buzzing off to do something else. I remember thinking, "That's too bad." Then when I heard he'd died, I was sad.

Not because I'm a Redskins fan. I'm not.

Not because I'm a University of Miami fan. Although I am and Taylor was a former Hurricane.

But because anytime a young person dies, under any circumstance, I'm sad. I'm sad at the lost potential, the impact that person could have had on the world around them. And I ache for their family.

There's a great deal of commentary on Taylor's life and death in today's Washington Post but one tiny phrase within Michael Wilbon's column struck me, made me stop reading and think for a few seconds.

Wilbon tackles the issue of young, black men dying - taking Taylor's death out of the context of sports and putting it back into perspective of life in general.

He says, "Most of us, perhaps even the great majority of us who grew up in urban communities, have to make a decision at some point to hang out or get out."

He's talking about how tough it is for people to turn their back on those they grew up with or abandon the neighborhoods that nurtured them for good, bad or indifferent before they made it to the next level in their lives.

I'm not sure we - society at large - gives enough creedance to just how crucial that reality is.

Hang out or get out.

It struck me because I write YA fiction. And at the crux of a lot of teen angst is peer pressure of some sort. Sometimes pressure from the wider circle i.e. the student population of one's school or from the more intimate circle that is an individual's friends.

One of my series' characters, Jacinta, faces that very dilemma. She's from a low-income neighborhood, but is transplanted against her will to a middle class suburb in Del Rio Bay. Throughout the series, I deal with Jacinta's struggle to enjoy life in the 'burbs while staying loyal to her boyfriend and friend back in her old nabe. In other words, she's not sure whether to get out or hang out.

The way Wilbon put it sums it up so perfectly. I'd never thought about it so simply until now. And never, has the thought of having to choose to do one or the other, struck me so vehemently.
The truth is, we don't ever really grow out of peer pressure. We merely learn to deal with it better as we grow into adulthood.

If you say you don't run into peer pressure as an adult, you're either lying or unaware how to define that pressure. It could be as simple as your friends harassing you because you've missed one too many girls/boy's night out -or- family riding your back because you didn't bother to show at the last gathering.

The pressure's still there, we just don't lose sleep when we buck it.

I'm not going to wax on about whether or not Sean Taylor's "past" had anything to do with his death. Or whether he chose too late to get out. It's not my place. And I'm not familiar enough with him or his background to add anything articulate to the discussion.

But I've had my fair share of ribbing from people about the bad boy antics of Miami players, when they find out I'm a U fan. Miami players are notorious for their off-field behavior, to the point that it's no secret some view them little more as thugs pursuing a degree.

Unfair, because what's not emphasized is that these guys are still young. Very young.

Don't we all remember what it's like to be so young that we can't fathom there being any real serious consequence to our actions? Drugs, sex, violence, crime...whatever.

Don't we remember what it's like to go along with the crowd (be it our roomates, suite mates, or team mates) simply because we're caught up in life at the moment?

If we don't, we should.

Because many young people face the very real choice of hanging out or getting out within various situations. Some make bad choices because they can't see beyond their current situation. They may end up hanging out, because they don't realize they can get out.

They don't realize they can make other friends. That eventually, like-minded follks find one another.

True, it's not always easy. And it's damn lonely to be on your own until you find a new support system - but it can be done.

But we have to find another way to help them make that choice. It's not enough to present the choice, there have to be alternatives offered and close guidance on next steps for those who decide to get out.

It's easy to direct someone to make that choice, when you're secure in your own lifestyle. But next time you shake your head, in frustration, because a young person didn't get out fast enough or because you simply don't understand why they refuse to make the choice, ask yourself if you've done anything to help those near you to make a similiar choice.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Happy Release Day To Me

[sing to the tune of Happy Birthday]

Happy Release Day, to me.

Happy Release Day, to me.

Happy Ree-lease Day, to me-eeee.

Happy Release Day, to me.

Rumor has it, Don't Get It Twisted is in stores everywhere and shipping from Amazon.

Looking for it?

Find it here and here if the chains are the only game in town, your neck of the woods.

Here, if you love the indies.

Here, if you're a new milleny shopper.

But before you buy, check this out...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Twisting its way in stores

I've been so busy with library visits (I'm exhausted), cheerleading (we were off this week) and life in general, that I literally looked up today and just realized Don't Get It Twisted hits stores next Tuesday.

What the heck? Wasn't it just August, yesterday?!

For the Amazon die-hards, that means the book shall be on its way within days. You have ordered it haven't you? [Insert stern mother hen stare]

It's funny how time works. One minute you're preparing for a book's release, biting your nails worried about things you can't control like its print run, distribution circle and reviews.

The next, it's on shelves and you realize your job was done after that last revision and the book is so on its own, all that worrying could have been better spent doing needlepoint or gaming.

Don't Get It Twisted has always had a special place in my heart. Not to play favorites, but the pacing of the story flowed so naturally, it was practically a gift from my muse to me.

So, I've been especially pleased to get such fierce reaction to the cover. During my library visits and the last book fair, I attended, I had several teens say they knew the story was going to be good based on the cover.

Not sure if it's the orange or that little "Desperate times called for sneaky measures" tag line. But it's working it's mojo, for sure.

I hope so. I've long viewed this book as critical to anchoring my Del Rio Bay Clique series. And psst, remember, Twisted is the last of my eye-popping, graphic covers. After this, my books will go the way of the photo covers. ::sigh:: No fighting City Hall on that one.

But I digress...ironically, while Twisted is the sequel to So Not the Drama, I wrote it as a standalone. So you could read it without having read DRAMA - but umm...why would you?

So, look deeply into the "eyes" of my cover and let that vibrant orange hypnotize you. Then break the seal on that baby and get to reading, because in Don't Get it Twisted, the clique goes through the highs and lows of desire and wanting. For Mina, it's a crush that ends up in a love triangle. For JZ, it's his desire to be the star on the DRB basketball team that forces him to make a choice that could cost him both his spot on the team and a friend.

In this installment, everyone wants something and like the cover says, sometimes desperate times calls for sneaky measures.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Pop Bites

I'm up late cooking, like all good little wifeys should be on Thanksgiving Eve. It's giving me the chance to catch up on some good TV watching. So...

PJ's back!
Yes, folks, it's Project Runway season, once again. This is one of the few reality TV shows where the contestants seem to have actual talent. That little Christian is a fire cracker. But he can design his buns off.

Oh and can someone tell me what the heck the word "polymorphic" means?! The one designer, Elisa, uses it to describe her design style. Please, educate me.

Why Authors don't talk
I'm a chatter box. Public speaking rarely daunts me. But I can see why most authors choose to stay behind the PC as it were.

I've been following the show, Murder By The Book. It's pretty much like any other crime pseudo-doc where they re-enact and analyze a true crime. The difference is, the crimes are narrated by a best selling mystery author. I think, in most cases, the author is familiar with the case and perhaps was even inspired by it.

Tonight was Lisa Gardner. I'll be honest and admit I'm not familiar with her. Most of the other authors I know, but not her. Anyway, she sounded like she was reading straight from the cue cards, which isn't a good thing when you're reading cheesy lines like "Sounds like...mur-der."

Taking Suggestions
Tuesday night TV sucks eggs. Can anyone suggest anything to watch? Or shall I resort to DVR'ing shows, stockpiling them to watch on Tuesday?

I hate when that happens
I'm a Law & Order: Criminal Intent fan. I came upon the show two years ago. Lucky for me, I was able to catch up on the episodes because it was already in syndication.

Okay, I know I'm not crazy (or maybe I am, but I know I'm not wrong on this) but Eames (the female partner of Vincent D'Onofrio) was pregnant in one of the early episodes. At the time Goren (D'Onofrio) had a strawberry blonde partner. Eames came in heavily pregnant to help them with some admin work on a case. By the next season, Strawberry blonde chick was gone and Eames was Goren's permanent partner.

For years they never mention her kid. But this year's season opener they did mention her husband, who was a cop killed in action. Still, no mention of a baby.

I don't get it. Do the writers just think we've forgotten? Or was it simply too cumbersome to explain how a widowed cop would raise a child when she has a job that keeps her there seemingly 24 hours?

My pet peeve is when a show forgets that most people are are active viewers, not passive. We see what's going on, we remember, we connect. Don't we deserve more credit?

Kind of reminds me how on Good Times, Lou Gossett Jr. had a recurring role as Florida's younger, hot-headed brother. Great role for him. But it sort of grossed me out, at the same time, because before Gosset got that part, he'd played an older man love interest for Thelma on an earlier season episode.

Ewww. He played her boyfriend then her uncle.

Guess they figured either we'd forgotten or didn't care.

Fat chance that I'd forget or not care. I'm an active watcher. I practically needed therapy when X-Files moved from Friday to Sunday - it disrupted my whole TV viewing habitture.

Hey, is habiture a word?

Turkey Strike

Princess A has declared (on many occasions) that she will not be eating turkey this year for Thanksgiving.


Okay, here we go. I'm at the stage in a parent's life where their kids merge in and out of new phases, nearly weekly.

It's almost amusing to watch kids find themselves because of the sheer quickness in which they change direction.

I'm over wait, I'm over here. Aww shoot, I'm over there again.

A good friend of hers declared herself a vegetarian about five months ago. And Princess A has been very theory. Girlfriend loves her some steak, so she's not about to give that up. Still, I can't help but connect this new turkey strike with her friend's allegiance to not eating anything that was once living.

I'm cracking up over her choosing to give up the one meat we only eat every now and then. I'm certain that's by design!

Yet and still, it tickles me when she takes a new stand. Reminds me, first of all, just how much of her mother's child she is. God help the world when she's grown! And second, what it was like to discover you had the freedom to make some decisions exclusive of the parental units.

After all, I'm not going to force feed her turkey meat at the dinner table. Hell, I don't even like turkey. I'm only in this whole Thanksgiving thing for the sweet potato pie!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Jumpstart Juice

The first year I began writing novels, I did so in relative isolation.

I wasn't yet familiar with the BlueBoard or the Teen Lit Yahoo Group. So I spent my days writing and writing and writing. It was pretty lonely. And while some days writing and writing keeps you in the zone, others you're simply writing and writing crap.

Once I discovered the thriving and active writing communities online, two pieces of advice that kept making the rounds were "read, read, read." Second piece was "read the genre you write."

The purpose of advice #2 was to help keep you up with what is being bought and sold in your genre. Sort of keeping your finger on the pulse of the industry.

I still don't do that much. Fact is, reading the type of YA I write feels like work to me. My mind still has a hard time turning off.

I read to relax. So while I read YA, I rarely rarely read the type of YA that I write. It makes the switch in my head go from reading for pleasure to analysis.

However, the first piece of advice I do my best to take. Granted, it's hard. I honestly don't have a good deal of time to read.

Hell, I barely find time to write unless I'm stealing it from the night or early morning. So you know reading takes a back seat.

However, reading is necessary to help strengthen your craft. I've known this all along and yet, much like exercise, knowing it's good for me is not always enough to force reading time into my day.

But no doubt, reading is like getting a creative push. Whenever I read, it refreshes me, lighting a flame under me to get me off the sofa and back into the office in front of my work.

I got in some good reading, over the summer, when I decided to take a small writing hiatus.

All of that reading stopped come September when I went back to writing. Then I got so busy with promo in October, that I haven't had time to write. Or rather, I find it difficult to focus on both writing and promotion. It's got to be one or the other. ::Shrug::

But my promo period is slowing down, thankfully, and my latest book has crept into my mind more and more. Friday night, I sat down to read Pillars of the Earth and even though I was deep into the world Ken Follett created, the book had a strange way of making me want to visit Del Rio Bay.

There's something about reading someone else's work that brings your own into closer focus.

It's weird.

Without having my own manuscript in front of me, I still instinctively knew - based on Pillars flow - some things I needed to fix in my work.

So this morning, for the first time in a month and a half, I sat down and began revisions to the manuscript. It felt good being back to work. Really good!

Stephen King was quoted once saying, every writer should read four hours a day and write eight hours a day. He was pretty blunt in that he felt writers weren't terribly serious if they didn't find the time to do those things.

I love me some King, but I felt like - with all due respect, some of us don't have the luxury of time to do that.

But alas, he's right.

Reading is a natural creative juice elixir. It's tough to have writer's block or not be inspired when you're exposed to good story telling.

Still, the day I have four hours to read without interruption will be the day my girls are grown and out of the house.

And today, I got in two hours of writing but not without the girls bickering at full volume, Princess Bea scratching (yes, scratching) at my the office door and the smell of burnt bacon assaulting my nose.

Hey Stephen, I'll make a deal with you - if you come and watch my kids for four hours a day, I promise, I will read during that time!

Friday, November 16, 2007

O Boy!

Alright look, here's the thing.

I respect and admire Oprah Winfrey's legacy. But I'm not what you'd call a fan.

Yet and still, today I went and picked up her latest book club selection, The Pillars of the Earth

Here are the top reasons, I'm embarrassed to admit it:

1) I HATE being a band wagon person when it comes to purchases

2) I definitely do not want to be labeled an Oprah fanatic (i.e. lap up whatever she sells)

3) I' m a little salty that she pays no attention to the YA genre (just a tad)

The truth is, I've never paid much attention to her selections, other than to marvel at the phenomena that is her announcing them and then the soaring sales numbers afterward. And I've only ever read one other book from her list based on her gushings and that was Wally Lamb's And This Much I know Is True.

Damn good book, by the way.

So that's why I'm not utterly embarrassed to buy the latest selection. When she cherry picked Lamb's book from the shelves, I was intrigued by her fascination of the book. Both me and my mom enjoyed the book, immensely.

Until now, I've not been compelled again to book shop based on O's recommendation. I think because of that whole band wagon phobia I have.

Just like with Lamb's novel, Follett's Pillars is huge! It's 978 pages, which means in order to finish it I'll have to ignore my family for at least two or three days straight.

But also like Lamb's book, it seemed to totally enthrall Oprah. The two things she said that compelled me to hit B&N today were:

It takes place in the middle ages. A good period book always gets my juices flowing -and- that it was 978 pages.

I see it like this - only the best authors have the cojones to write a book that long. Besides, no editor in their right mind would allow a thousand page book out of the gate unless it was really worthy.

So I'm expecting to enjoy this.

As pressed as I was to get it today, I purposely managed to snag the only book on the shelf without a "Oprah Book Selection" sticker on it.

I know, I know, this phobia is out of control.

Totally unrelated to my Oprah bandwagon phobia - as I was purchasing the book, I was telling my friend, Meg, that if the book is as good as Oprah said, I'd likely wrap myself in it until I was done. I went on to say that I could easily finish the book in two days.

I found it interesting that the sales rep at B&N felt the need to say, eyebrow raised, "It's 978 pages."

First of all, duh! The book is huge. Pretty obvious it's lengthy.

Second of all - did I stutter? All I need to get through a book is time! If I have that, I inhale them like air.

So I said to him, "Yeah, I know...two days, that's all I need."

He looked at me like I was insane.

Yeah, like that's the first time I've ever gotten that look!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Dear Irv,

I watch (and enjoy) your VH1 show, Gotti's Way .

Honestly, I'd never given much thought to Murder Inc. or the people behind it. I'm not a fan of Ashanti (please, can you find her a musical identity before her next CD) and I can take or leave Ja Rule - especially when he gets too sing songy - though his new buffed bod is some serious video eye candy. Still, I've nodded my head to some Murder Inc. head bangers and found myself pulled into your show from the first ep.

I love how you come across as a big ol' teddy bear. The way you wrinkle your nose when you're tickled about something is nothing short of adorable.

You're a good dad - something that has become less and less a pre-requisite among some men, these days when they marry/date/whatever.

And, there's nothing wrong with watching someone get their true, legitimate hustle on. Our country was built on nothing less.

BUT - you knew there was a but, right?

But, dude you are so wrong!

Until the most recent episode (when Deb tries dating) I could see how your marriage, as unorthodox as it is, could have ended up where it is and how you all justify it. Although, you're way too cocky and glib when you tell people that if your wife was actually "the one" it would have been enough for you to stop cheating.

Man, please! Your cheating is about you, not her.

But it's not all you. Deb, sis, you and DMX's wife need to befriend some women outside the Hip Hop circle because there is more to life than what you're husbands are giving you. Seriously!

Nonetheless, I'm not unsympathetic to living with the choices we make in our lives. And you two are making the best of the situation you've created.

With celeb couples lasting all of a minute and even everyday Joe and Jane Blows breaking up on a whim, what you're doing is as close to admirable I've seen in awhile as far as public displays of relationship building.

I.G. where you hit the wall with me, was that one little comment you made about Deb. Are you serious? What kind of male bullshiggity was your statement that you can't help that her options are limited in dating since she's 1) used to the lifestyle you've given her and 2) has kids at home.
That was the worst male chauvenist crap I've ever heard.

Weren't you a part of putting her in that "situation?" And do you honestly think she's only holding onto the strings of your marriage because she likes to shop and drives a nice car?

Just how stupid are men, anyway?

I'm really hoping that you and Deb have worked out a better structure to your fragile relationship. Yes, I'm totally rooting for you guys to work this out.

By now, the filming for the show is over and the end is what it is.

Maybe it will take Deb divorcing you or God forbid finding a man who makes her happy beyond material lifestyle trappings to make you understand the part you're playing in you guy's "situation."

Isn't that usually the way with your sex? School of hard knocks or nothing at all, ay?

Sorry, lapsed into a little male bashing. Just saying, from my side of the boob tube, you're an easy person to like. I can see why you and Deb remain friends. But, lately your pigheadedness is making you blind. It's not a good look.

Reality TV has deadened my ability to see beyond the "character" most Reality TV personalities created for themselves. But you and Deb are the rare RTV personalities who reflect genuine intentions.

So I wish you guys well. Just wake up, Irv.

Either sever the ties of your marriage and find a way to remain that good dad and friend to your ex or come home, determined to be faithful. You owe that to your fam.

See you Monday night.


Friday, November 09, 2007

How Much Fame Do You Need?

Tonight, I was riding home and a radio promo with Mario, the young R&B singer from Baltimore, came on.

You know, the standard "Hey, this is Mario and you're listening to W-blah, blah, blah."

It got me much fame does a person really need? When you're a singer (or writer) isn't it cool that you're doing what you love? Isn't it okay that you may be super well-known in some places but can probably still shop at the mall virtually everywhere else?

Mario's very well-known in his home state. But I'm not sure he has any national or international type fame status.

The thing is, the guy's a decent singer. He's certainly as talented as any other young, R&B singer out there. But, you know how fame is. It's a slippery, fickle mistress who dips out on you just when you thought you figured out what it took to keep her by your side.

Even though Mario, Chris Brown, Trey Songz and Ne-Yo could easily go neck and neck when it comes to a voal show down...well actually, I think Trey Songz voice is a bit thin and if it came down to song writing, Ne-Yo would beat the pants off all of them - still, fact is, they're all young, talented and vying for fame in the music game.

Where fame and popularity are concerned, Chris Brown is the hands down winner with Ne-Yo running a close second. I don't think Ne-Yo's mad, you know, because of that songwriting thing I already talked about.

But, at the end of the day, when you're producing material for public consumption and popularity equals sales (mostly) how much fame do you need to consider yourself successful?

A few months after Kensington offered me a contract, I asked my then-editor, something that amounted to did it matter where sales came from as long as they were sales. And she said no. She said if I sold 10,000+ copies all in Maryland it would be as good as selling 10,000 from all different parts of the world. She didn't care, just sell them babies.

And that makes sense. A sale is a sale is a sale.

Problem is, without any or with very little concentrated promotion from a publisher, it's up to an author to make tough decisions on how they play the fame game.

Unlike singers, who can do radio promo and get the attention of listeners in a wide area, it's pretty much all grass roots and pounding the lit event pavement for writers.

My website is a good tool. I love looking at the stats and seeing what part of the world people are discovering me and my books, from. But, I have no idea how many visitors actually go out and buy the book. I can only hope that exposure to the website plants a seed, at the very least.

Definitely face-to-face interaction works best. My library visits sent my Amazon ratings up a bit for a week or two. No idea how many books were actually purchased, but obviously some.

Obviously, you see my tracking methods are quite...inaccurate and unscientific!

But, the rankings rising at the same time as my six visits was not likely a coincidence. It was certainly proof enough for me that face-to-face (or in a singers case, ear-to-ear) works.

Now back to the original much fame do I need?

Going off my library visits, I'll have to stand by the notion that "fame" or at least being recognized or known definitely impacts sales. And with that in mind, I'm all about being, if not famous, at least recognized (my book, I'm saying) within my state and region.

I haven't yet worked out my strategy to sell 10K+ books, just in the state of Maryland. But in due time. I'd love to try some sort of in-state promo blitz in the summer.

Hmmm...I think I'm going to need to do a loootttt more library visits.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

I Heart Chris Brown

Strictly in a musical way mind you. He's young enough to be my...younger brother.

His CD dropped today and the music channels are on CB overload. He was on 106th & Park tonight, one of the music channels was doing a Chris Brown special and BET is doing one tomorrow.

When the camera panned the 106th & Park audience, one girl was crying and screaming. The hubster was like, Seriously?

Men just can't appreciate the special bond between fans and teen idols.

The crying seems over the top to anyone over the age of twenty or with an X chromosone, but music evokes emotion. And Chris Brown makes some really fun, young tunes. Add to that his energetic dance moves and playful smile and you've got a bonafied teen heartthrob on your hands.

What I like most about Chris Brown is that he's not one of those manufactured teen idols. The type where the looks are the primary focus and then like, oh yeah he can sing too.

Unlike the average teen pop idol, it's his music and dancing that make him a cutie. The focus is very much on the way he moves and how playful he is when he's performing.

Now, much respect due to Jay-Z, whose CD also dropped today (and I love me some, Jigga), but I think Chris Brown can give him a run for his money. First of all, his single, Kiss, Kiss is 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Second, never underestimate the power of the teen girl dollar.

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Monday, November 05, 2007

Like, so whatever

Hmm...I think I'd like that as a book title.

Sometimes it's the perfect phrase to sum things up. When you've done your best but things still don't come out quite the way you want them. But you know you can't do much more so it's whatever.

I've had a like, so whatever weekend.

My squad took first at the Retro Rec competition. But it was an ugly win.

I know, I know a W is a W. But when you're working with young people, it's kind of your duty to be straight up with them and let them know there are degrees to winning. And definitely there are pretty wins and ugly ones. You'll take them how you can get them, but you can't let an ugly win ride without a little lecturing.

For their sake, I'm glad it was a win, though. Things were starting to get morose at practice.

In general, it's been a busy few weeks in my household. A busy month, really. When I'm juggling so many balls, one is bound to slip through my fingers. But I look at it like this - as long as the ball I drop was one of those rubber balls and not the glass kind, I'm good.

After all, it's not every month that my life is this hectic. Thank the gods.

Still, every now and then you're bound to run into someone who doesn't appreciate the things you do. And it makes you want to pull an Ebenezer Scrooge on them and make them feel what life would be like without your contributions.

Then see how, like so whatever they feel!

Okay, but to leave the blog on a high note (I refuse to accept Monday blues) don't forget about my contest over at Teens Read Too. ARCs and purses? I ask, how can you resist?

And stop by the Brown Bookshelf and submit an author name or two for the 28 Days Later campaign. I'm seeing some good names, but so far the pool of popular fiction authors is depressingly low. One of our goals was to get a little parity going in the brown kiddie lit community...but far, not so much.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Shame, Shame, Shame?

How come they're only ever repentent once they're caught?

If they really regretted using the word, how come they used it?

Yes, I'm talking about Dog, The Bounty Hunterand his use of the N-word in reference to his son's girlfriend.

I'm neither shocked nor saddened by this, just tired.

I didn't watch his show, so A&E putting it on hiatus makes me no nevermind.

I'm simply sick of the song and dance that has become high profile folks using racial slurs only to turn around and sing the same tune about being "sorry" and "regretting" it.

What's a society to do?

Are outting them for using the words doing any good?

No, seriously, I'm asking because I honestly don't know where we go with this issue.

In my DRB Clique Series the dad has this little phrase that he pulls out on my MC, Mina a few times. It applies in these "oops" celebrity moments.

Are you sorry that you did it or sorry you got caught?

Being Right, Rocks!

I hate to say, I told you so, but...I so, told you so!

Whew, sorry. I had one of those black out moments where I couldn't help gushing over being right.

Here's what I'm babbling about.

I'm a little behind on my blog reading. So I was late to this post by Maurice Broaddus over at BIB.

During his Q&A with Ingram Book Buyer, Aletha Kontis, Maurice gets some great insight into the whole book buying process. I was hopping in my seat the entire time as I read it, because...well, let's just say throughout many discussions about what helps a book to succeed, I've often spouted what Aletha confirmed. Not based on any book buying experience, mind you - just instinct and about sixteen years in the PR and marketing industry.

Validation. It's so flipping sweet!

Read on, it's good stuff.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Big News Thursday

Mmmm....smell that?

It's the scent of something sweet. Wait,, that's the chocolate on my fingers left over from nibbling on the Princessess' Halloween stash.

Ahh...okay, that, that scent, there. It's the smell of something new.

Unless you've been living under a rock, have banned calenders from your home because they're against your religion or try and tell the day of the week by looking at the sun, you may not know that it's November first.

And you know what that means, right?

Today P's Don't Get it Twisted contest launches on Teens Read Too.

I took it easy on you for So Not The Drama. All you had to do was submit your name and then wait, patiently for us to randomly choose you. This time ya' gotta work a little.

But it's well worth it. At stake is an advanced copy of Don't Get It Twisted (four to be exact) and this

or this

The only thing better than early copies of new books are early copies of new books and designer wristlets.

So, enter, why don't ya.

But, wait, there's more!

P's been known to live by the philosophy, if you want something done, do it yourself. Partly because I'm an only child and had no sibs or anyone to blame things on or help me get them done.

But also, because I'm impatient as all hell.

Over the past year, I've been approached by many parents and librarians who lament there's not a wide enough selection of children's books for young readers of color. I don't disagree.

Nor do the stats. According to the Children's Book Collective, in 2006 only 87 of the 5,000 trade children's books published were by authors of color.

I'd love to see that number increase. But until it does, it would just be nice if people could name more than a few of those 87.

Even I can name only a handful. And if I, a children's author of color, can only name a few of my peers, how can I expect a librarian, teacher or bookseller to? After all, they've got to keep their eye on the whole pie of 5,000.

Enter, The Brown Bookshelf, a website founded by Varian Johnson, author of Essence Bestseller, Red Polka Dot In A World Full of Plaid, and myself. Our first initiative will be the 28 Days Later campaign, a Black History Month event that will spotlight 28 children's authors of color - the whole gamut - picture book, middle grade and young adult.

We're not choosing these authors in a vacuum. We're asking readers, librarians, parents, teachers, book lovers and anyone in the children's literature community to submit the names of the African American authors they think deserve to have the light shone on them.

So swing on over to The Brown Bookshelf, mark it as your fave, visit now and then to catch up with what's happening in children's literature and submit a name or ten (if you can name that many) of authors who are flying under the radar.