Thursday, June 30, 2005

It's All About The Release

Psst. Forgot to tell you something about San Francisco last weekend. Our little secret.

My book is out. At least on some shelves in San Francisco. I'm sure to capitalize on SF Gay Pride events of the past weekend. I was out getting my Pride on with everyone else in the city... strolling down Market, having just finished like 1 or 3 margaritas, and BAM... I look in the doorway of a bookstore and see my book, front and center in the doorway entrance, stacked in a pyramid and with a huge color poster announcing my in-store appearance in July. Books Inc.

I was shocked. Happily shocked. Went in and introduced myself to the staff. Nice folks. Signed a few copies of their stock. Then walked away with a grin. They said they'd already sold some that weekend, like three. I guess that's good. For the weekend. :-)

Be sure to check out the Books Inc. newsletter.

Everyone's asking me at this moment: how does it feel to have a book about to come out? In bookstores? In a lot of places? Especially now that it's just days away from the official release?

I'm extremely happy, excited, sleepy, pensive, doubtful, outgoing, introspective, and always low on time, sleep, and cash. But I'm not complaining one bit. This is something I've always wanted to do... write and publish a novel... I did it on the first try. So I'm lucky. Blessed. And I'm loving every minute of it. The good and the not so good.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Reggaeton. Writing. Inspiration.

Posted by Hello
I'm hooked on this new radio station in Los Angeles: Latino 96.3.

Reggaeton. Hip Hop. All day. Getting my fix of Ivy Queen, Rupee, Daddy Yankee, along with 50 Cent, Mariah, and Tupac.

When I write, I write to music. In the past, it's been jazz -- authentic jazz, not watered down muzak/soft r&b. But as I'm revising the second novel, I'm hooked on 96.3. The music puts me in the mindset of what my new characters listen to, do in their free time, where they hang out, what moves them musically. The station is aimed at a younger Latino and black audience in L.A., and that's what these new characters are.

One of my characters in my second novel looks very much like the guy tucked behind the 96.3 sign above. The character (not the guy above) is a "bad" good boy... a hip hop nerd so to speak, meaning he's full of contradictions: street smarts with a 4.0 gpa; a partier, yet a mama's boy; wants to be good, yet gets caught up. That's all I'll say for now.

I'm caught up... in revisions and re-writing :-)

On The Line

Just checking out what's hot at other blogs right now:

Readings and Events. Updated 12/23/05.

Will be doing many events to support my novels, Down For Whatever, and Right Side of the Wrong Bed.

Check back often, as events are updated regularly. And email me if you'd like me to visit your group!

Current Events

Friday, October 10, 2008, 7 pm
National Coming Out Day Speaker and Reading
Occidental College, Center for Gender Equity
1600 Campus Road
Los Angeles, CA 90041
(323) 341-4750

Sunday, September 28, 2008, 11:00 - 11:55 am
West Hollywood Book Fair panel
We Are Everywhere: New and Unique Voices in LGBT Literature (moderated by Christopher Rice)
West Hollywood Park
647 N. San Vicente Ave., West Hollywood, CA

Tuesday, July 8, 2008, 6:30 pm
The GLBTHS & Lambda Literary Foundation Present PASSING ON THE PEN: Intergenerational Queer Storytellers
Jewelle Gomez and Frederick Smith conversation
San Francisco, CA
Location information (415) 777-5455

Thursday, May 8, 2008, 7:30 pm
Lambda Literary Award Nominees Reading Event
A Different Light Bookstore
8853 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 854-6601

Thursday, March 13, 2008, 5 pm
UC Merced, Intercultural Programs
Bobcat Lair (KL 169)
Merced, CA
(209) 228-5323

Thursday, February 28, 2008, 5 pm
UC SanDiego Cross-Cultural Center
9500 Gilman Drive, dept 0053
LaJolla, CA 92093
(858) 534-9689

Wednesday, February 13, 2008, 7 pm
The Promising Series panel
A Different Light Bookstore
8853 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 854-6601

Monday, February 11, 2008, 7 pm
Esowon Bookstore
4331 Degnan Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90008
(323) 290-1048

Monday, January 21, 2008, 7:30 pm
Books Inc., Castro District
2275 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 864-6777

Saturday, January 19, 2008, 8 pm
Outwrite Bookstore and Coffeehouse
991 Piedmont Avenue
Atlanta, GA 30309
(404) 607-0082

Monday, December 17, 2007, 7 pm
Reading and Signing
Damien Ministries
2200 Rhode Island Avenue, NE
Washington, DC 20018
RSVP at (202) 526-3020, extension 10

Saturday, December 15, 2007, 4 - 6 pm
Urban Knowledge Bookstore
7879 Eastpoint Mall
Baltimore, MD 21224
(410) 282-2286

Saturday, December 15, 2007, 7 - 9 pm
Urban Knowledge Bookstore, Mondawmin Mall
2301 Liberty Heights Ave, #2001
Baltimore, MD 21217
(410) 523-0017

Monday, December 3, 2007 at 7:30 pm
Reading and Signing
The Wall-Las Memorias Project
111 N. Avenue 56
Los Angeles, CA 90042
(323) 257-1056

Monday, December 3, 2007
Feast of Fools Podcast
Download iTunes

Wednesday, November 28, 2007 at 7:30 pm
Reading and Signing
A Different Light Bookstore, West Hollywood
8853 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 854-6601

Tuesday, November 27, 2007 at 7 pm
Reading and Signing
In The Meantime Men's Group
4067 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles

Thursday, November 15, 2007 at 3:15 pm
Reading and Discussion
Cal State L.A., Center for the Study of Genders and Sexualities, King Hall D4051
Los Angeles

Thursday, October 25, 2007 at 7 pm
Reading and Discussion
Sacramento City College, Cultural Awareness Center
Sacramento, CA

Friday, October 12, 2007 at 6:30 pm
Reading and Discussion
University of Redlands, Diversity Affairs
1200 E. Colton Avenue, Redlands, CA 92373

Sunday, September 30, 2007
West Hollywood Book Fair
West Hollywood Park
647 N. San Vicente Blvd. (just south of Santa Monica Blvd.)
Los Angeles

Saturday, September 1, 2007 at 4 pm (ends 7 pm)
Literary Cafe, In The Life Atlanta
Sheraton Atlanta
165 Cortland St.
Atlanta, GA 30303

Saturday, June 30, 2007
L.A. Speaks Out with Jacquie Stephens (102.3)
8 - 9 pm
Los Angeles (show available live online)

Saturday, June 30, 2007
Leimert Park Book Festival
Panel at 2:30 pm
Los Angeles

Tuesday, July 3, 2007 at 7:30 pm
In The Meantime Men's Group
4067 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles

Thursday, July 5 and Friday, July 6, 2007
L.A. Black Pride Literary Panel
Los Angeles, Airport Marriott, 5855 West Century Blvd., L.A.
Panel at 3 pm
Los Angeles

Friday, May 19 - Sunday, May 22, 2006
Chica Lit Club Fiesta

Sunday, September 17, 2006
West Hollywood Book Fair
West Hollywood Park (L.A. area)
647 N. San Vicente Blvd. (next to The Abbey)

Winter 2005/2006

Monday, December 26, 2005 at 11 am
OutFM, 99.5 WBAI-FM
New York City

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 at 7 pm
Minnesota AIDS Project
1400 Park Avenue S
Minneapolis, MN

Sunday, January 29, 2006 at 4 pm
Michael Kearns Workspace
3929 Fountain
Los Angeles (SilverLake area)

Thursday, February 2, 2006 at 10 pm Eastern, 7 pm Pacific
The Herndon Davis Reports
DISH Network Channel 223
Time Warner Cable "The Healthy Living Channel"

Wednesday, February 15, 2006 at 6:30 pm
San Francisco Public Library, Eureka Valley/Castro Branch
3555 16th St (at Market)
San Francisco

Past Events
Summer and Fall 2005

Friday, July 1 from 2 - 4 pm
At The Beach L.A. (Black Pride)
Literary Salon/Author Panel
Westin Hotel (LAX)
5400 Century Blvd.
Los Angeles

Thursday, July 7 at 7:30 pm
Jewel's Catch One
Benefit for Village Health Foundation
4067 W. Pico
Los Angeles

Saturday, July 9 at 5 pm
Equal Writes Bookstore
344 East 4th St.
Long Beach, CA

Tuesday, July 12 at 7:30 pm
Books Inc.
2275 Market St.
San Francisco

Wednesday, July 13 at 12:30 pm
Alexander Book Co.
50 Second St.
San Francisco

Thursday, July 14 at 7 pm
The Three Dollar Bill Cafe
San Francisco LGBT Center
1800 Market Street
San Francisco

Thursday, July 21 at 7:30 pm
A Different Light Bookstore (West Hollywood)
8853 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA

Saturday, July 23 at 12:30 pm (panel on ethnicity, class, and sexual orientation in fiction)
L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center Book Fair (Fair 10 am - 4 pm)
1125 N. McCadden Place
Los Angeles, CA

Saturday, July 23 at 6 pm
Matais Books
3202 E. Broadway
Long Beach, CA

Thursday, August 4 at 7:00 pm
172 Allen St.
New York City

Thursday, August 4 at 9:00 pm
Chi Chiz
136 Christopher St.
New York City

Friday, August 5 from 5 - 11 pm
Pride In The City
Black Out Arts Series
Brooklyn Marriott
Brooklyn, NY

Saturday, August 6 from 2 - 4 pm
The Derrick L. Briggs Book Club
45 Waverly Ave. (between Flushing and Park Aves.)
Brooklyn, NY

Thursday, August 25 at 8 pm
High Lyfe Starring "You" (an Ivan Daniel Production)
Jewel's Catch One
4067 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA

Wednesday, August 31 at 7 pm
University of Southern California (Welcome Week event)
Norman Topping Student Activities Center
Los Angeles, CA

Friday, September 2 at 7 pm
Outwrite Books
991 Piedmont Ave.
Atlanta, GA

Sunday, September 4 from 5 - 7 pm
In The Life Atlanta
Literary Cafe
Sheraton Midtown Atlanta
Atlanta, GA

Saturday, September 10 at 8:30 pm
LOUDmouth Magazine Anniversary Party
Private Residence
Los Feliz (Los Angeles)

Sunday, September 11 at 3:30 pm
Booked L.A. Book Club
Private Residence
Silver Lake (Los Angeles)

Saturday, September 17 from 12 noon - 2 pm
Creative Writing Workshop (free!!!)
In The Meantime Men's Group
Jewel's Catch One
4067 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles

Sunday, October 2 (11 am - 12 noon, book signing after panel)
West Hollywood Book Fair
Panel: In The Beginning: On Writing The First Novel
West Hollywood Park

647 San Vicente Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA

Tuesday, October 18 at 7 pm
University of California, Santa Barbara
Multicultural Center
Santa Barbara, CA

Tuesday, October 25 at 6 pm
California State University, Los Angeles
University Book Store, 1st floor, The Golden Eagle Building
Los Angeles, CA

The BBD. Thinking About Character Development.

Ate dinner with someone tonight in a very "L.A." part of town, and we talked about L.A., how there seem to be very few genuine friendships in L.A., and how our upbringings in other parts of the country shape our abilities to see things L.A. from an outsider's perspective that L.A. natives wouldn't necessarily see. Nothing good. Nothing bad. Just observations.

And then my friend suggested the reason why he thinks there are no real, or genuine, friendships in L.A. and why he's found making "real" friends, compared to other places he's lived, a challenge.

The BBD. The Bigger Better Disorder.

Kinda works like this: you don't say yes, but you don't say no to an invitation or suggestion of getting together; you wait until all offers are on the table from amongst acquaintences; you take the bigger, better offer; you don't call the other offers back.

Myth? Stereotype? Rumor? Who knows?

I thought it was interesting and got me thinking about fiction. How does a city shape the overall personalities of people living in it? And how much have I thought about this when writing. I don't think much... but it's something to think about for writes.

How would someone who grew up in Cedar Falls, Iowa view friendship? Or Chicago?

How would someone living in Atlanta view an invitation to go out with the guys or girls on a Friday night? Compared with someone living in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan?

Would someone raised in Brooklyn view driving differently than someone raised in L.A.?

I could come up with a million more questions, but it's definitely something worth thinking about more often as I work toward becoming a better writer. Hopefully you too.

Who knew the BBD would get me thinking about writing?

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

San Francisco Wrap Up

Posted by Hello
San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge is beautiful. The Bay Area is beautiful.
Could leave my heart there for another 2-year stint...

SF Public Library

San Francisco really knows how to pump up literary events. Had a very cool and intimate crowd of six at the SF Public Library last Thursday.

Now, most people would say -- only six? Well, for a book that was two weeks away and an event advertised as a reading only, six was more than expected. AND, they were all new people -- meaning no friends or people I knew in San Fran.

Very cool crowd. Very cool event put together by Stewart Shaw, who coordinates African American literary events for the library. And walked away with six new folks to add to the Down For Whatever collective.


Bernard from Alexander Book Company and The Bookhouse Cafe is so funny. Had me crying in the middle of Market Street in downtown San Francisco on Friday.

Stopped by his store to say hello, drop off some postcards, touch base, etc... He was like, "Damn, boy, you just like to travel or what... just to hand out postcards? Your reading ain't til next month..." Because he thought I was based in Atlanta, and not L.A., so my Friday afternoon drop in was a surprise. Like I'm rolling on a private jet like Alexis Carrington or something. Far from it, but we got a good laugh right after Beverly Jenkins' reading.

I met Bernard last month in NYC at Book Expo America, tried to hang out in Harlem once or twice, but been phone and e-mail friends way before BEA. Bernard is cool people and if you make it to San Francisco, you gotta meet him and get him reminiscing on his days in Detroit, dancing on The Scene tv show, and plus-size clothes. Bernard's a comedian, in addition to working books, so he'll have you rolling.

Got my comedy show for free, minus the two-drink minimum.

San Francisco Pride

Posted by Hello
Deborah Cox. Fabulous. Latin Stage. Front. Center.
EnVogue. Phenomenal. Main Stage. More Front. More Center.
Snakes as accessories. Not so hot. Everywhere.

Everything about San Francisco Pride was great. Drinks. Food. Boys. Girls. Music.

But one thing I couldn't get with were the number of folks with live snakes as neck/shoulder accessories. Maybe it's a Bay Area thing. But I couldn't dig it at all.

OK... and maybe not digging the fact that the Soul (aka Black) Stage and the Hip Hop (aka Younger, Blacker, and Browner) Stage were so effing far from the center of the action. Had to walk like eight freaking blocks, it seemed, to find them. The politics of pride... sometimes. Anyway, great event. No one does it like San Francisco. Except maybe New York City, which I have yet to make. And, I got my farmer tan going. Yee haw.

But, if I had to hand out one more postcard to one more drunkish boy asking, "Is this a movie or what?" I was going to...
just grin and bear it. For the sake of making and meeting a new potential reader.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The City by the Bay

San Francisco is a cool city. And when you're living in Southern California, a visit to the city by the bay can be a nice weekend getaway. Same for when you're living up north and coming south to visit L.A.

I'm heading to San Fran this weekend. Later today, actually. For work. A little play. Doing one reading at the SF Public Library. Got hundreds of book postcards ready for passing out to SF Pride patrons. Looking forward to seeing my SF buddies Matt, Lina, Lety, Pedro, Kenrick, and other folks. My cousin Kim and her family are in the area too.

Have a nice, safe, prideful weekend wherever you'll be celebrating this weekend! (Kinda wish I were in NYC this weekend...)

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

In The Meantime Men's Group

Posted by Hello
If you're coming to L.A. next week for Black Pride, try to check out the spoken word event listed above.

This information I picked up last night at a reading and signing event I did with the In The Meantime Men's Group, which meets on Tuesday evenings at Jewel's Catch One on Pico. Great crowd of about 25 people, including Jeff, Ivan, Clive, Sam, Trent, Preston, Roger, Earl, Dan, Kevin, David... among others. Real cool night and group. And just like me... I forgot m'darn camera!

I introduced each of the four main characters, read excerpts from each one, and then we had discussion. Cool discussion.

Number one question: Which one is me? (None of them, I swear... but everyone thinks writers are writing about themselves...)

But other discussion focused on Black and Brown dynamics in L.A., especially LGBT Black and Brown dynamics, and if our experiences are the same, different, overlap, never shall meet, etc... Asked about the publishing process, and how does NYC perceive L.A.... Talked about racism and classism in the LGBT community and how all those topics relate to the characters in the book. Great conversation topics. That's what's cool about books... everyone has different perceptions that get triggered by what they read.

Oskar and Daniel, my marketing and publicity people in L.A., were with me. Cool and funny as always. Ready with their list of feedback about my reading afterwards.

Overall, a great night. And I thank Jeff, Clive, Sam, Jewel, and everyone else associated with In The Meantime Men's Group. You hosted a great evening and are doing great work for the community.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Latino Men's Group at The Wall-Las Memorias Project

Posted by Hello
What a great kickoff to a summer of events and readings!

Met with a nice and intimate group of about ten people who were attending the weekly Latino Men's Group at The Wall-Las Memorias Project. The graphic above is from their new campaign advertising their Latino Men's Group. "Basta," for those of you learning Spanish, means to fight back, stand up, enough already.

Most of the guys had read the first chapter of Down For Whatever on my website, so they were chock full of questions, observations, and funny stories. Kept me on my toes. We had a great conversation.

I love it when people ask questions because they want to know something, not because they're pushing an agenda. The guys wanted to know everything -- how does the publishing industry work, why aren't there many contemporary Latino/a writers published (had to school them on Alisa Valdes Rodriguez, who's leading the pack these days, and whom none had heard of), gay actors versus straight actors playing gay roles in film and tv, my writing process, and how I was able to write (with some realism, thank God I got the group's approval) strong Latino characters. Great questions and great conversation. We laughed a lot.

For those of you in the L.A. area, The Wall-Las Memorias Project is one of several community agencies working toward educating the community about HIV and AIDS prevention, making good choices, and being proud of their ethnic, sexual orientation, and class identities. The Wall-Las Memorias focuses most of its energy on the Latina/o community, though it's open to all who walk in the doors. The organization's big project was building a monument in L.A. dedicated to Latina/o people who've died to AIDS and HIV-related illnesses.

Thanks Enrique, Eddie, Richard, Ozzie, and the rest of the folks at The Wall for inviting me to meet with the group and talk about Down For Whatever. You really made me feel welcome and really made my summer start off on a great note!

Detroit Spirit... Pride... Pistons (Gotta Win)!!!

Posted by Hello
There's a lot of haters out there on my hometown, Detroit.

I see the cringes and shoulder shrugs when I tell people I was born, and raised, in Detroit. Not a suburb (they say I don't "talk" or "act" Detroit, as they shrug shoulders). Graduated from Renaissance High School (the #1 high school in the city, where 100% of the graduates go on to college). Still have family there (though most are now in Canton, Southfield, Plymouth, and points further west and north, but still... it's all Detroit.)

The initial hating on Detroit came in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when black folks got tired of being treated like 2nd class citizens and started to fight back. When Coleman Young (top row, middle pic) took office, he made sure people knew he was going to make Detroit right for black folks. He reigned for 20+ years.

There are great things about Detroit.
  • The Pistons
  • The Motown Museum (i.e. Diana Ross, Smoky Robinson, Stevie Wonder)
  • The Scene (this daily dance show that came on everyday in Detroit at 5 p.m. on Channel 62)
  • How plentiful jobs in the auto industry created a large black middle class that many of my friends and I benefited from (though, now thanks to globalization, those middle class jobs are being done for pennies a day around the world, while lining our backs and executive pockets with material goods -- we all reap benefits, even if not actively a part of or proponent of globalization).
  • Anita Baker
  • Aretha Franklin
  • Belle Isle (the park in the top and bottom corner of the collage above)
  • Renaissance High School
  • The hip hop mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick
  • A still strong and vibrant black (and now emerging Latino) middle class
  • Several writers hail from the area: Cydney Rax, Shelley Halima, Terry McMillan (more Port Huron, but it's "close" to claim her)
  • And one final nerdy fact... it's the only city in the U.S. that's due north of Canada (get out a map and you'll see).

Anyway, could go on. But all I'll say now... is Go Pistons!!!


Monday, June 20, 2005

PEN Center Emerging Voices Fellowship

The PEN Emerging Voices Fellowship program is a highly respected writer workshop program for writers of underserved communities (i.e. writers of color, women, LGBT, immigrants, writers with disabilities, etc...) If you're interested, and able to commit for a year to the L.A.-based program, read the description below and check out the Emerging Voices website.

This mentorship project enhances the careers of emerging writers from underserved communities. PEN selects writers of promise from community-based arts organizations or at-large to participate in an intensive eight-month program of workshops, master classes, seminars, readings, and individual mentoring. Applications and guidelines for the 2006 cycle are now available.

DEADLINE: September 9, 2005. Read the brochure online and download the application.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Can You Woo-Woo-Woo?

Posted by Hello
Karaoke can bring out the best in a writer... at a birthday party. Or should I say peach sangria brings out the karaoke in a writer?

Well, if I had actually sung at Shimeka's birthday party last night, I would have brought out a classic, tried and true song by Jeffrey Osborne. But I didn't. I can't sing worth anything. That's why I write instead.

Can you woo-woo-woo?

OK. Don't get all addicted and singing it everywhere you go today. Because it's been in my mind for the past few weeks. And pops up at the most inopportune times... Can you woo-woo-woo?


Shikema had a cute birthday party last night. Turkey burgers. Karaoke. Peach sangria. Sitting underneath the suburban L.A. starry sky. Lots of fun.

The classics came out... classics that might come out during your Father's Day celebrations today: Jeffrey Osborne, George Benson, Diana Ross, Lionel Richie, Evelyn "Champagne" King. It was truly a black classic, soulful evening.

How this ties to writing... because I want to make sure I'm keeping this blog somewhat literary... I picked up great details to enhance my second manuscript, which is on my agenda for some time this and next month. Black suburban life. Couple life. Remembering the oral tradition of black folks, and how one subject and story leads to another. How even after little or no contact, people can reconnect like they just saw each other last week. How barbeque brings folks together. How the fascination with celebrity is the same across cultures, though Michael, Raven, Mariah, and Will/Jada brought up some strong conversation. How some folks want to go inside to watch the fight versus being in the karaoke room. More details on being the spouse/partner of a firefighter. Little things I wouldn't know from just interviewing Shimeka, but details you observe and make meaning of and inferences about. Fun stuff. Fun details that make fiction a little more real and resonant.

Anyway, hope you're having a great Sunday. A great Father's Day with your loved ones. Which reminds me... I have to call home, which I'm going to do right now.

Can you woo-woo-woo? :-)

Friday, June 17, 2005

Writer No No's

Another great and informative writing life article I found at M.J. Rose blog... Top 10 Things Not To Do As An Author/Writer. Check it out...

Cool NYC Event

Posted by Hello
In case you're in, or heading to, NYC in a week or so... Get location info from Brooklyn Boy Blues blog.
Sounds like fun times!

Finding Audience: A Double Life

A really informative entry on book publicity from Tayari Jones, who has just completed her second book tour. You can also find the same entry on Tayari's blog.

Shelf Life

If it's payday, and you're a writer with aspirations of being published, try to buy yourself at least one of the resources listed in this previous blog entry I wrote in March. Or at least try and find one at a library.

Just this morning I was glancing through one of the books and just getting myself prepped for a day of book work. Opened up right to a section focusing on the shelf life of a book... aka, how long your book has to make it or break it according to publishing industry rules.

You get three months, basically.

Commercial publishers develop lists of their books: spring, summer, fall, winter. Each list has certain types of books, depending upon what types of audience they're going after, or what awards they want the book considered for, or what holidays your book may appeal to, or what season holds less competition for your type of book, etc...

After that season, it's time for the next list. And those books that came out in the previous season are no longer A-List news. And unless they're a knockout hit, the publisher will no longer concentrate its efforts on your book. Time for the next season's books. They get packed away and sent back to warehouse, or remaindered, or sent to those $1 book stores. My editor joked with me a couple weeks ago: that's not good when that happens. So, for example, my book comes out July 5. I have until late September or early October to "work" the book, but really concentrating on July and August. After that, time to shift to book number two.

Now, what's important about this is that even though most books, theoretically, get three months of sink or swim treatment, authors must do a lot of prep work prior to those three months. Sometimes working six months or a year prior to publication date. Developing mailing lists. Sending out preview copies. Making relationships with book clubs. Working with editor and agent (if with a commercial publisher) on a successful launch. Looking for every possible lead for events and readings (it's not just the publisher's job to develop events, unless you're Jackie Collins or Terry McMillan).

Books can get another life. For example, when/if your second books is published, you can go back and promote that you have a first book for your new readers. Or, if your early books suddenly tie in with a breaking news story. Or, if one of your early books gets optioned for stage, tv, or film production.

Anyway, this is all interesting to me... and just wanted to pass it along.

Have any thoughts on the book shelf life subject?

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Classic Y&R Moment... Yeah, I'm Late

Posted by Hello
This is Nick, Sharon, and Cassie Newman. Fictional characters, but still...

OK. So I'm like three weeks behind on TIVO and all my Young and The Restless episodes. You know, New York, work, writing, etc... I'm catching up... in a MAJOR way.

But been crying my eyes out this morning. I had no clue one of the major characters was going to pass away. My goodness, I'm crying like it's a member of my own family or group of friends.

Good writing and acting. No one does daytime drama like
Young and The Restless.

OK. Let me stop and get back to reality.

Editorial Notes

I'm fortunate to have a great editor and a great agent. They are two people I feel like I just click with, especially for the first book process.

But when it came to hearing the feedback on Down For Whatever (formerly Same Script, Different Cast), I was scared crapless.

I'd heard horror stories from other author friends who said the editing process was going to be a battle. That it was a constant back and forth, ongoing arguing and debating, about what stays and what goes; what expands and what shrinks. So I prepped myself for the possibility of a not so fun time with editing and revising the manuscript.

Fortunately, it was painless. It was cool, actually. While there were areas that my editor saw needed strengthening, overall he found the manuscript I submitted in good shape. In fact, the parts of the book I thought would be changed (like slang, like pop culture, like race and ethnicity stuff) were left intact. Quite the contrary from what I expected. I guess all experiences are different.

For those of you who want an idea of what an editorial letter might include, below you'll find an edited version of my editorial notes. Deleting names so as not to give anything about DFWs plot away. Happy reading... and editing.

From editor:

"Here at long last are my editorial notes. The manuscript is in good shape, there were just a few spots to revise. Nothing that's going to be too hard for you to handle so with that in mind, let's get started...

P. 28: "And let's not talk about the lack of a sex life..." Again, why no sex between them? _____ is hot. _______ is hot. What are they waiting for? What gives?

P. 69: Even though you go into details later, give us a little backstory on _______ on this page. Try to flesh him out. Right now all he is is a name. That tells us nothing about who he is or why we should care about him being introduced to the story now.

P. 174: "That figures..." After this, get us into _______'s head more. Give us some backstory. Let us know his relationship with his brother... were they close growing up or not? If they were close, did that change when ______ came out? We need to know why we should care about the family dynamics.

P. 176: 3rd paragraph. It's better to SHOW the reader, rather than to TELL things to them. Let's see this scene unfolding between _____ and ______. Better than just running through what happened.

P. 243: "I think I'm falling for______. It's different than anything I've felt for someone..." After this, get us into his head more. Let us know more about his feelings for ______. Compare/contrast to previous relationships or tricks. What's so appealing about ____ now, since he's been afraid to get close to someone before?

And that's it, Fred. Send revised pages first. Disk later. If there are other spots in manuscript to address these points, feel free to do so. Need in a month."

And that was it. Well, just a few short examples of suggestions. There were many more I didn't list here. My editor was timely with everything. I was timely with getting everything back to him. I thought that was the end. Let the galley printing begin.

Then came the copy editor notes (grammar, punctuation, word choice, story and character consistency, etc...) about a month later. Now, I thought if one area I was an expert in was grammar.

Not even close.

The copy editing process... that's a whole 'nother game. More on that later... But the lesson to be learned... no manuscript or piece of writing is perfect. Even when you think it is. Even when it's about to be published. You always think of or see something else...

Happy editing!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

O, This Is Not Me... But 20,000 Crunches, 78 Straight Days On Treadmill, Subtract 9.5 years, And...

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This could have been me. But it's not. lol.

This is Omarion. I watch too much 106 and Park. Too much to no longer be a teeny bopper.

How little must I eat to look like this? How much more can I run? Maybe it's the belt and jeans that I'm missing. Or the nice gloss on the lips. Hmmm...

OK. Get over it. Let's lament food and fitness and fame... how about a visit to Carmen and Jane blog? Or Holiday-N? Or visit the boys in Brooklyn? Or Rod's take on Omarion?

Hmmm. Break over. Back to writing about writing. Tomorrow :-)

Save The World... While You Can

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Congressman John Conyers, a Democrat from my hometown, Detroit, wants a full Senate hearing on the Secret Downing Street Memo, which suggests that our current regime in Washington D.C. planned the war in Iraq long before any excuses and justifications were presented to the U.S. public. Excuses that most people bought blindly. Now, 1700+ U.S. deaths later, polls suggest most of us think it was a big mistake.

Of course most of us who are progressive, thinking types knew the whole war was/is a farce and an excuse for making rich people richer, and for sending poor black and brown boys off to fight and die for causes unjustified. (And on a side note, please tell your younger brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews that college is a much better option than the military... there's more military recruiters than college recruiters in most of our inner city public schools these days!!!)

I didn't know anything about John Conyers' efforts to make this public through hearings in Washington. None of the major news networks or papers are covering it. Heard about it this morning on Air America radio and the Stephanie Miller Show. Heard the Republicans are making it difficult for a hearing to happen. They don't think it's important. They are the "majority". "Majority" rules. Kinda like white, religious majority rules, if you get my drift. Howard Dean wasn't too off his rocker, but the mainstream media wants to suggest he's off the mark calling the Republican Party "pretty much a white, Christian party."

If you get Air America in your town, try to listen and support. Or any public radio station in your town for that matter.

These days, journalism is a farce of what it used to be. When getting all sides of every story was important. When questioning those in authority was the norm. When being paid by the government was not the way to get a story and particular view aired. That's not what I learned at Mizzou.

Send John Conyers or your own reps a note saying you applaud his efforts to get these hearings started and in public. Let Barbara Lee know you support her standing up in the face of adversity and ridicule. Barbara Boxer and Michael Moore, too.

In Case You're Heading To SF Next Week...

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This is Badlands. The club in San Francisco that's at the heart of what often is dismissed or ignored in LGBT life... racism. It exists, duh.

Well, of course it does. If it does in mainstream life, who's to say the LGBT community is any different. Oppressed people are capable of perpetuating oppression on other people. And classism, racism, sexism, and weightism in the LGBT community are just as prevalent as in mainstream life. Might just be ignored by the glittering disco balls and clouded over by drinks disguised as fun.

So many of you will be dancing in the streets next week outside this place if you're hitting San Francisco Pride. Enjoy the events safely.

In the Badlands case, black and Latino men, as well as women, were given difficult times getting in to the club time and time again. They also were never employed, according to investigations into the Badlands matter.

I won't lie. I've been to the bar. Never had a problem getting in. Might have gotten slow service a few times. Danced to lots of pop/Top 40 (i.e. white) music, some of which I enjoy. But also felt like wall paper. Just part of the background of the scene. No biggie. The black bar, Pendulum, is across the street... where I'd be an elaborate piece of art, not just wall paper :-) and where the sense of community among blacks and Latinos is a lot stronger.

Of course this is nothing new.

Blacks, Latinos, and Asians to some extent have always been ignored by their white counterparts in the LGBT scene, unless they're providing comic or sexual relief, or just glossing over their ethnicity to make them blend in with the majority crowds. Not always the case, but just head to your local bar or club and observe. You feel me?

Anyway, a couple writers have written about the Badlands issue: Rod and also Keith. Check out their sites.

Of course the idea of racism and club discrimination isn't limited to just the Badlands case. But it looks like, finally, a city is standing up and taking a stand against businesses that don't treat all potential customers fairly.

What's the "Badlands" spot in your city?

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Creating A Book Title

You may not know this, but authors go through several titles before settling on the right one for their projects. DOWN FOR WHATEVER, my first novel, is no different.

Originally, the title was Same Script, Different Cast. Yeah, kinda cheesy, and from that Deborah Cox/Whitney Houston duet from the late 90s. I thought it was cute, and so did my editor for a quick minute. My agent never felt the name. He's hilarious and blunt about these kinds of things. I thought it summed up what many of my friends say the LGBT scene is all about... same storyline, just different people. Over and over.

Uh, didn't work. So we brainstormed for several weeks:

  • Getting Over The Boys
  • Brown Days, Black Nights
  • Boyz On The Side
  • Men Of Color
  • Kickin' It
  • Something Sexy On A Saturday Night
  • So Over It
There were others... but I'll spare me... and you... the embarrassment.

And then finally, while on vacation visiting family in the midwest, I heard some Teena Marie song on the radio. Heard the phrase "down for whatever" said in the song. I was like: this is it! And I composed the following paraphrased e-mail to my editor:

"DOWN FOR WHATEVER. Like it because it's short and easy to remember. My friends and I use the phrase all the time: a yes to going out and not knowing where we're going; a yes for a short-term hook up; a yes to just being with people and open to the possibilities... kinda like love."

He wrote back immediately: "I kind of like this title. Let me run it by the other editors, the publisher, and sales. Touch base in a few days."

In a few days, editor, agent, and I were in agreement. DOWN FOR WHATEVER would be the title. My only worry was that the book would get lumped with all the "Down Low" books that came out in the past year or so. Didn't want people thinking I was jumping on the bandwagon. Last thing on my mind, and definitely not my intention. However, I notice when random people hear the title, it immediately creates an association with black and brown men having drama in their love lives. Is that a good thing? I don't know...

Selecting the right title is paramount to the story you're writing. It's what will roll off the tongues of potential readers and buyers when they ask, "Do you have ________?" Editors look for something that gives an idea of the overall theme. Sales look for something that will move books onto bookstore shelves. Authors look for something that best represents their work. Customers look for something catchy... that's easy to remember and repeat to their friends. I suppose.

I'm sure any of the other titles would have worked. But I think DOWN FOR WHATEVER works best. No turning back now. July 5 is right around the corner. And as I move forward toward editing my second novel, I know there will be no debate or discussion over the title. Agent and editor both love it. But I'll save, or reveal, that for another entry.

Coming up... editorial notes and requests for changes to your manuscript. Gotta be open. That's later in the week.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Graduation Season, Part 3

Great weekend with graduations. One of the highlights was helping with the 1st Annual PRIDE Graduate Celebration at Cal State L.A.

Jasmyne Cannick, producer, writer, activist, was the keynote speaker and gave a great speech. Check out her website for her commentary on the significance of PRIDE Graduate Celebrations... and take a look at her keynote address, too, which is linked on the site.

Thanks Jasmyne for making a great day even greater!

Summertime Bliss

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This is the cover of one of my Kensington labelmate's books, Bliss, by Fiona Zedde. It'll be out in August.

The cover totally reminds me of summer... laid back days at the pool, or finding your passion, being outdoors, creating fun summer storylines for yourself.

On my last night in New York City, Brooklyn to be exact, I was at a little gathering with friends Eric, Preston, Mark, Roberto, and me. Daiquiris. Warm weather. Lots of fun conversation, reminiscing on life in our early 20s, when we were all in college, and how fun the summer were. How we'd all just do WHATEVER, WHENEVER, and with WHOMEVER. Life was fun. Full of promise. No worries about real world issues. When everyone was a potential friend, mate, lover, or all of the above. Fun times.

Then Mark suggested that we can still have that BLISSFUL summer again. At least for 2005. When we just let go. Enjoy the company of new and old friends. But more importantly, make sure we have fun stories and dalliances to reminisce on at the end of summer. Since they're all East Coast, they're heading all up and down the coast and to Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and other fun islands for their summer of bliss. I've got book stuff, but will be traveling and meeting new, cool people too.

I think we should take it back this summer. Live life and this summer like we were 18 or 21 again. Have fun. Safe fun. And bring back tons of fun stories to tell by the end of Labor Day weekend in September.

I'm ready. Are you? :-)

Friday, June 10, 2005

Graduation Season, Part 2

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Such a beautiful sight. Black college graduates. College graduates period. About to make a difference in their families' lives and the world.

This month, you're probably celebrating someone's educational achievements... or maybe your own. If you are, CONGRATULATIONS!

I know it's an easy road for some. Filled with trials and tribulations for most others. If you are black or brown, over 30, a woman, gay or lesbian, differently abled, poor or working class, or dropped out for whatEVER reason... most would say the odds are stacked against you, and that college is a dream that should be snuffed out.

I say that in spite of it all, those are the reasons to continue your education... no matter how long it takes to get that piece of paper. And not just to prove other people wrong, but to show that you can complete a goal you wanted to finish. A few months ago I talked about working with many people who have beat the odds and made it to graduation. This weekend they will be walking the stage, listening to keynote speakers such as Jasmyne Cannick and Andre Farr.

I'm so proud of them. Makes me want to graduate again... but I'm not about to do a Ph.D. No, for real.

Have a nice weekend! Be safe... be cool!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Books Are Sexy!

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A hot new book club is launching in New York City.

The Derrick L. Briggs Book Club is looking for a few good men to kick off a new Books Are Sexy! campaign.

I've always thought books, brains, and brawn make for a good mix. Now it looks like Derrick and the guys in NYC are looking to bring together smart and sexy folks for a fabulous reading and gathering group.

Hit Derrick up via his site... or visit some of the other supporters of the Books Are Sexy! campaign... Bleu Party (who I PROMISE to hit up when I'm there in August, Z!!!) and Nathan.

Help make this campaign part of a nationwide, well, why not worldwide, effort to make books an every day part of sexy, single lives in the city.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

So It WAS Fantasia!!!

OK. Last week at Book Expo America, I was running from one signing table back to Kensington's booth, when I saw someone I thought was Fantasia of American Idol fame.

But then I thought to myself: Why would Fantasia be at a book expo? She's a singer, right? There's a lot of Fantasia look-alikes out there, right? Well, I'm wrong on a lot of fronts.

It was Fantasia. My writer friend Cydney Rax got a picture with her (scroll down a couple pics, look on the right). And she has a children's book coming out this fall. Go figure.

It wasn't an illusion. But low and behold, I didn't have my camera that day with me anyway. So all I could have done was gushed and said hello.

Silly me. Truth is.

L.A. Body Myths

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First, this photo is by my friend Kurt Brown, San Francisco photographer. Can make a dandelion look like calla lilies.

Now, to the matter at hand. No, you don't have to look like the model pictured above to find someone in L.A. Or even to have a good time in L.A.

Last week, while in NYC, I met a bunch of guys who will be visiting L.A. this coming weekend for Pride, or 4th of July weekend for At The Beach L.A. (Black Pride), or Latin Pride in August/September. For many, it's their first visit to the Golden State. And for many, they had a ton of myths and misnomers about L.A.

And while many can be true (or close to true until the makeup smears away, lol), let me tell all you out there eating cigarettes and mints for dinner and working out 25 hours a day, you don't have to look like the model above to find a long-term or one-night lover in L.A. You don't have to front like you're this close to a lucrative contract in "the industry" either. You don't even need a tan or body-altering surgeries. There are TONS of regular, down-to-earth, Southern and Midwest born boys and girls in L.A. People who get their eat on and their freak on. Oh, and there are regular, everyday L.A. natives too.

All you need is your yourself, your own personality, and just your own natural and God-given charm and talent.

Hope that helps :-)