Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Ghost Writer

Most writers like to receive credit for their work. Most writers also like to DO their own work.

Ghost writers fill the void -- doing writing work for others, but without receiving credit for their work. They do get paid, however.

A couple scenarios to ponder.

A good friend of mine was offered a lucrative contract to write a "tell all" by someone who'd gotten romantically involved, allegedly, with someone held to high esteem in the black community. The person/person's agent who approached my friend had the story, but not the skills to craft a book about the alleged affair.

My friend decided not to accept the offer, even though it probably could have been a huge seller and discussion stimulator about icons in the black community. My friend's reasoning... future career goals. My friend wants to write novels under his/her own name one day, but feared/wondered what would happen if his/her name was ever associated with the "tell all" project. My friend also didn't think the "tell all" format was the right thing for black folks to do to each other.

Another scenario... this time with fiction.

I've heard rumors/insider talk about many bestselling fiction writers who don't write or research their own work. That they have a staff of ghost writers who take their notes, or follow their formula, and craft their fiction books. Naive, Charlotte/Sex and The City me, was like, "No way!" But then I started thinking... how else can said writers release three or four titles a year? Maybe they ARE that talented and productive.

Another scenario. Celebrities who pen fiction or non-fiction books, who've never been known for their writing abilities. It's possible some ghost writing is involved in their writing process.

Another scenario. Ghost writers often are hired to keep a franchise going, long after the original author's death. One very public example of this is the V.C. Andrews series of books. Originals include Flowers in the Attic, My Sweet Audrina, Petals on the Wind. V.C. Andrews died in 1986, but her novels were so popular that the estate hired a ghost writer/ghost writing team to continue the V.C. Andrews franchise, which continue to come out regularly. And thank God! Those are some awesome books.

If you're a writer type, would you take on a ghost writing job? Could you do a job without receiving credit, but receiving a paycheck? Or, if you want to write a book, but don't have time or craft to do so, would you hire someone to complete the job for you?

Monday, October 29, 2007

November is National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo.

If forced to, could you start and finish a 50,000 word novel manuscript in a month?

Well, the good thing is you're not forced to... but thousands of folks around the world will be participating voluntarily in National Novel Writing Month, a yearly "contest" with yourself that takes place every November.

The goal. To start and finish a first draft of the novel you've always wanted to write. Doesn't matter how good, bad, or in between the first draft is. This contest is designed to motivate you toward your writing goals. And besides, you can always go back and rewrite or revise your first draft.

The contest goal, 50,000 words, will get you a short novel, but then you can work at your own pace to add the additional 15-20 thousand words for a novel-length work.

What do you say? You in? If you do the contest, that's about 1,600 words a day... or roughly four to five pages a day. If you do the contest, let me... us know how you're doing.

P.S. This contest does not apply to a manuscript you've already started working on, though I imagine you could psyche yourself into finishing the novel you've started writing. But for the fairness of NaNoWriMo, it's about starting and finishing an original piece of work.

You still in?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Time Goes By. So Slowly.

Had a wonderful time with the students at Sacramento City College and the Cultural Awareness Center this week. Thanks all of you who stopped by! And thanks for the feedback on what you think I should work on next. I appreciate the ideas!

My calendar is starting to get some signing and reading events on it. Will be visiting Baltimore, Washington D.C., and Atlanta on the East Coast so far. Doing the major cities in California too. More will be added. I'm really liking the college circuit... so if you're at one I'd love to visit!

Can't believe it's just a month until my next book comes out. It's such a nerve-wrecking time period waiting for the release. But so much work goes into the release, I'm thankful that the industry has this long lag time. If you're not a patient person, this might not be for you.

In the meantime, will be back soon with a more substantive blog entry. It's Saturday. Time for me to hit the gym, get some grub, and see what the night brings my way!

How is your weekend?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Busy. Like Everybody Else. That's All.

Could use one of those. Maybe this weekend.

Having one of those crazy weeks where every moment of the day has an appointment, or a task, and by the time you want to catch up on your blog you end up falling asleep... for the two or three hours you can sleep. Yeah, that's me. Hope you're well!

Kinda fired up because I got to see/hear Nikki Giovanni speak over at Cal State L.A. last night. Awesome.

Some random thoughts on my mind:

We in California have fires. The folks in New Orleans have hurricanes. Both are acts of nature. California, and the residents who lost their things in the fires, are perceived to have more money than the folks in New Orleans. Wanna bet all the homes destroyed in California this week will be re-built and with the full support of the insurance companies? O have no doubt. Makes you wonder where Hurricane Katrina and re-building New Orleans are on the national radar... and I should say re-building New Orleans for the orignial residents who were displaced.

On to something lighter... I am hitting the road to Sacramento City College to do a reading and signing of my first novel, Down For Whatever, and read from the new one, Right Side of the Wrong Bed. Thanks to the staff and students of the Cultural Awareness Center for inviting me to be in their space at 7 pm tonight. See you there.

The weeks and months leading up to your book's release are akin to having a baby. I think. Once you learn your due date, or in this case, your publication date, you do all you can to ensure the successful arrival of your baby... or your book. A lot goes on. You have a lot of questions of your doctor... or your editor/publicist. You wonder if people will like your baby... or your book. Because you're sure in love with the baby/book from the moment it is conceived/sold to publisher.

In addition to my day job, my busy-ness this week has been all for the successful arrival of the new book. More on that later.

But I check the stats. Exciting to see many of you check in to see if I've added anything new to the blog. I'll try to be more regular than I have this week :-)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Through The Fire

Not in the direct line of fire that's roaring through Southern California. Prayers and thoughts for those who are.

But can tell you this. At 5-ish this evening, when leaving my office, it looked like it was 7 at night outside. Enough smoke in the air to block out the sunshine to look like that time of day just when the sun goes down.

I guess we're all affected in some way, even when not in line of fire.

Friday, October 19, 2007

What Did You Think You Would Be When You Grew Up?

Keeping it light on Friday.

Simple question. Always a great conversation topic or starter... with someone new, or someone you already know. What did you think you would be when you grew up?

And don't get too distracted by those hot pink bedroom walls of mine from the 70s. Slap some chocolate brown stripes on it, and you've got a nice color scheme for 2007. My parents were fashion forward... yeah, that's the ticket.

Here's my list:

Poet. My mom used to play Nikki Giovanni albums in the house when I was a kid. Loved them. Tried my hand at a few poems and won some young writers contests when Detroit Public Schools actually encouraged the arts and creativity. But got bored with poetry. And these days, public schools don't encourage a lot of arts, ideas, and culture exploration.

Car designer. I didn't know that was called an engineer. But I loved designing the outside silhouettes of cars. I thought the early 80s Cadillac Seville was HOT! And I wanted to design the next fashion forward car like that. That humped trunk... HOT!

Architect. I used to draw these elaborate floor plans of my dream home, my parents' dream home, and for families of multiple sizes. Was especially concerned that every member of the house had their own bathroom.

Soap opera writer. Um. Enough said. Young and the Restless 1986 got me hooked. Remember Nikki/Victor/Ashley -- Nikki's fatal blood disease? Ashley's abortion? Victor's affair with Ashley? Young and the Restless 2007 got me unhooked from the soap habit. I'm just a Bold and Beautiful boy now. But, my middle school friends and I would write and stage these elaborate productions. Thought we were the next Aaron Spelling-in-the-making... just waiting to be discovered in Detroit.

Truck driver. Yeah, one of these things is not like the other one. I had to make up interest in this job to mask sexual orientation issues. Never had an interest. It was my cover... kinda like some people have a cover boyfriend or girlfriend. Next.

TV Anchorman. Sometime in late middle, early high school, I got obsessed with Detroit's news anchor teams. Kathy Adams and George Sells. Beverly Payne. Carmen Harlan and Mort Crim. Nikki Grandberry and Kay Lowry. Sherry Margolis. And who could forget the 3 "D"ivas at Channel 7: Doris Biscoe, Diana Lewis, and Dayna Eubanks (my personal favorite of the 3 "D's"... she'd do the news at 5 and come back at 11 with a whole new look and hair. Fierce.) This... was one job I got to actually do, when living in Columbia, Missouri. I was "Frederick Smith, NewsCenter 8, Columbia" doing evening news stories, and morning Today Show cut-ins.

Education. One day I had to do a child abuse story for NewsCenter 8. That was the day my news-spirit died. Didn't like the assignment. Didn't like staking out an accused abuser or victim's family. Felt like it didn't add one thing to humanity, and questioned if the allegations were even true. And that day, I went home and started researching grad school options in education and counseling. Ended up at a university in Chicago. Best decision I ever made. Didn't hurt that I followed a college crush/love to Chicago, while he pursued grad school in theatre arts. I like working with college students.

Novelist. The writing bug was always there. Glad I get to do it today along with working with college students. Best of both worlds.

Though I did some, and didn't do others, I'm so glad I had parents and family members who encouraged us to do whatever interested us. But there was just one rule -- the 18 and out rule. Went like this -- at 18, you're out the house in college, or with a job and your own place. Luckily, my sister and I were both able to do the college away from home thing.

So what about you? What did you think you would be when you grew up?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Nikki Giovanni in L.A. next week

Very excited about getting an opportunity to hear Nikki Giovanni speak, live and in person, next week in L.A.

You may recall last summer I wrote a blog entry about my introducation to Nikki Giovanni's work as a kid.

An Evening With Nikki Giovanni
Wednesday, October 24, 2007 at 6:30 pm
Golden Eagle Ballroom, 3rd floor, Golden Eagle Building
California State University, Los Angeles

The Cross Cultural Centers at Cal State L.A. present an evening with Nikki Giovanni, world-renowned poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator. Currently a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, Nikki Giovanni is one of the most widely-read American poets and writers. Always insisting on presenting the truth as she sees it, she has maintained a prominent place as a strong voice of the black community.

Event is free. Seating available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Nominal parking fee for off-campus guests. For more information, please contact the Cross Cultural Centers at Cal State L.A.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Have You Met Kristina Wong?

So excited to be seeing this show tonight, Wong Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, written and performed by Kristina Sheryl Wong. It's over at Cal State L.A. and it's a free show, first-come, first-serve seating of course at 7 pm.

The one-woman show is a mix of provocative politics and unapologetic humor that explores the high rate of mental illness (i.e. depression and suicide rates) that afflicts Asian American women and that often go undiagnosed. For a number of reasons.

Oh, you didn't know there's a high rate of depression and suicide among that demographic? Asiance Magazine did a pretty extensive article here. So did CNN, article here.

But we know that many communities of color don't always want to acknowledge, respond to, or treat mental illness. Some friends and I were talking about this the other night at dinner. Jenifer Lewis talked about this on Oprah earlier this fall, and in her show Bipolar, Bath, and Beyond, a phonomenal show I got to experience early in 2007.

A number of reasons -- lack of knowledge about treatment options, the stigma of being labeled "crazy," worry about financial costs, not wanting to "shame" or air the dirty laundry of your family or cultural identity category -- can attribute to communities not acknowledging or dealing with suspected mental illness.

I think Kristina Wong's show, which I've seen a small preview of last year, helps to take the sheets off the bed, so to speak, so that communities can deal with the realities of their lives... and get people the help they may need.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Literary Agent

I highly recommend this book, Guide To Literary Agents, to anyone with a completed manuscript and looking to enter the publishing world.

Now whether you buy it, borrow it from the library, or sit in a big chair at the bookstore and take notes is up to you.

But what you will find is a comprehensive guide to hundreds of official literary agents, their names, what categories of book projects they will consider, their comission, a list of clients and books they've represented, and how they like to receive queries. (Official agents don't charge you anything up front... they only receive money once your project has sold. Don't get taken in by con artists masking as agents, and there are quite a few!)

There are also practical how to's included -- examples of query letters, interviews with agents on the business, and guides on how to be a good client.

It is important to get the latest edition of the guide, as agents switch agencies, go off on their own, move, or retire.

Another way to seek out a literary agent. Make sure you read the acknowledgements pages of your favorite books. Once you find the agent name, do a quick online search or check the Literary Guide. Generally, authors thank their agent. And chances are if you liked the book, you'll like the agent... or the agent will like your project if it's similar.

Or, if you're enrolled in a creative writing class, a writing group, or attend writer retreats/conferences, you'll also have an opportunity to network and meet agents personally.

The thing is this. These days if you're looking to be traditionally published, you have to have an agent. They are the one's who pitch your project to publishers to consider. They serve as your communication liaison with the publisher/editor.

Getting an agent can be very time consuming and challenging. Once you query, you'll receive a good number of rejections as well as a good number of requests for your material. Be prepared to wait. Be prepared for rejection. Have patience. It's all about the right fit... and the work being ready for publication. My writing teachers and groups have always advised, "Don't send out your work too early. Make sure it's in the best shape possible." I offer the same advice.

But be sure your book is complete (meaning it's finished), grammatically correct, story in the best shape possible, and that you're not sending in your first draft. A first draft, while it may be your most "authentic" voice, isn't usually the best draft.

The hunt for a literary agent can be long and arduous. And once you have one, it's no guarantee that you'll be published. It just makes the journey a bit easier.

We can talk about agent expectations down the line.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Come On People by Bill Cosby

As most of you know, Bill Cosby has made it his mission to push for the upliftment of black people in the United States by looking at the areas of personal responsiblity and self-reflection on behaviors and choices.

He has a new book out, Come On People: On the Path from Victims to Victors, written along with Dr. Alvin Poussaint, who was a psychiatrist consultant on The Cosby Show in the 1980s.

I think it's a book worth checking out. And if you want to hear more, Bill Cosby and Alvin Poussaint will be guests on Meet The Press this Sunday, October 14 talking about the current state of Black America.

Not always the biggest fan of those Sunday morning news shows, because they usually only invite black, Latino, and women guests on to talk black, Latino, or women's issues... as if we can't talk about anything else.

But... I think for Bill Cosby, I will make an exception. Will you?

Have a nice weekend!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Slapboxing With Jesus

And one more thing I got from taking Kerry Madden's fiction class through UCLA Extension Writers Program...

I met a cool classmate named Monica P. She was the other black person in the class, so she and I just kinda bonded in the way that you do when you're outnumbered in a college classroom.

But she always mentioned that her all-time favorite book was a short story collection by Victor D. LaValle. It's called Slapboxing With Jesus. A short story collection about young men and women, coming of age or finding themselves, in the outer boroughs of New York City.

Several years after her recommendation, I finally picked up a copy. This weekend at EsoWon Books in L.A. Also saw a novel he wrote, The Ecstatic, and picked that up too.

Looking forward to finally reading what my classmate described so passionately.

Credit Where It's Due

How you get "your big break" so to speak is so random. A series of small and large twists, decisions, and coincidences that lead to somewhere... where you are today.

Kerry Madden and Denise Hamilton are two of the reasons why I'm a published author. Kerry is an author of young adult fiction set mainly in Appalachia. Denise is an author of the Eve Diamond mystery novels set in Los Angeles. Both write great books. And both thought I had lots of talent and potential.

Here's the story in reverse.

John Scognamiglio is my editor at Kensington. Love him. Great guy. Smart, talented, and makes the process so fun and learning-filled.

Denise Hamilton mentioned me in a conversation she had with John, when Kensington did the soft cover version of one of her novels. That led to my manuscript for Down For Whatever going from the bottom to the top of the editor's slush pile, which my agent Nicholas had submitted a few weeks earlier.

I met Denise because I was taking Kerry Madden's fiction class at UCLA in Fall 2001. They are long-time friends, share the same writer group, and Kerry invited Denise to class to talk about publishing, writing about L.A., etc... I shared some of my work with her.

I took Kerry's fiction class at UCLA because in September 2001, after having read my billionth novel (an exaggeration), I decided that I wanted to write one.

So I went to an open house the UCLA Extension Writers Program hosted. Found a day of the week I could "give up" to learning some craft. Signed up and paid for a class that afternoon. Just so happened to be Kerry Madden's Monday night class. 12 weeks. Just so happened that she thought I had potential and gave me feedback (on what is partially chapter 6 in Down For Whatever) that challenged me to look at expanding to a novel format. Who knew?

I think life is so interesting. Where we are AT THIS MOMENT is a result of many choices we made, when a decision to go THIS way or THAT way had to be made. Sometimes a choice to to THIS will lead to meeting people, places, things that bring us closer to our dreams. But I often think about the alternate choice we didn't make, and where that would have us at this moment. Who knows?

It's good to give credit where it's due, and I know that Kerry and Denise helped open some doors that a newbie like me five years ago would never have been able to open.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Terry McMillan on...

Terry McMillan has some interesting things to say on the state of black-focused books, the publishers and writers of those books, and her ex-husband Jonathan.

An open email from Terry to...

Thanks for the heads up Tayari!

Off to EsoWon now to buy some books. Maybe will see you there!

Friday, October 05, 2007

A Moment For Dru

OK. I know there's world peace, presidential candidates, Jena 6, West Virginia 6, and mine worker safety to worry about. I know we've all lost real-live relatives, friends, and family members. And all that is valid.

But it's Friday. And I want to have a moment for Dru.

As in Drucilla Winters, one of my favorite Young and Restless characters as played by Victoria Rowell.

Dru fell off that cliff six months ago, in a hastily written going-away for a character who'd been on the show for 15-plus years, brought on mainly because the actress asked to be released from her contract early. One can only surmise that artistic integrity is one reason, since Y&R has quickly gone down-hill since all the Bill Bell-trained writers and producers were let go/left the staff when a new Executive Producer and Head Writer brought in her regime.

(Side note... many of the Bill Bell-trained writers and producers now work for Bold and The Beautiful which ROCKS right now!)

Found this cool site, Serial Drama, which kinda shares the same opinion of Y&R lately. They did their own A Moment For Dru entry, which you should check out. And they have a long list of Y&R columns here...

You can also hear similar analysis at the Daytime Confidential podcast.

But this isn't just about what's not right with Y&R. It's about the fabulousness of Drucilla, and how empty the show feels without the character AND the actress who portrayed her.

So, start your weekend off with some great Dru moments... from YouTube of course:
Dru and her mom Lily Bell (Why she ran away as a teen)
Dru and Neil argue ("When was your last mistake, 1972?")
Dru catches Neil and Carmen
Dru and Carmen ("Project Stay Away From My Husband")
Dru and Carmen catfight

Aah. If only... we could get Dru and the original actress back. If only... Y&R could get back to the high quality show it once was. Maybe I'd get my daily viewing habit back.

But that's a fantasy for just a moment. In the meantime, you can read Victoria Rowell's memoir, The Women Who Raised Me.

From The (Somewhat Crazy) Mouths of (Writer) Babes

I saw today's The Doctor is In on the amazing Buzz, Balls and Hype blog and it triggered something. So much so, that I left a comment. And I started working on this blog... instead of the novel that's due. Bad Fred. lol. It was freaking 3 am-ish.

I wrote my first novel, Down For Whatever, for fun. Aspired for publication, glad it happened. No voices. No pressures.

I wrote Right Side of the Wrong Bed in between the time I sold DFW and when it was published. Again, no voices. No pressures.

Thank God I did. Because working on my third novel has been a crazy, non-stop -- lies, I've STOPPED a lot -- ride. Once you're published, you tell yourself it's about the writing, completing a project in its own time, blah blah blah. (Or is it wa wa wa, as in the adults on Charlie Brown?)

But the reality is... you're thinking moving units, wondering if that one book club member in NYC or San Diego will like what you're working on, how to maintain your base while expanding your readership, or if you write THIS will it result in THAT media coverage or book festival, hoping you're creating the next fiction phenomenon. Well, at least I do.

And if you could see my laptop, and all the abandoned manuscripts you'd think I was as productive and idea-frenzied as hmmm... Eric Jerome Dickey, Jackie Collins, um... who else cranks them out that fast?

So anyway, tonight while I was SUPPOSED to be writing, I was reading. The Buzz, Balls and Hype blog. And for some weird reason, picked up Eric Jerome Dickey's The Other Woman again. My third time reading that novel. It really is THAT good.

Lesson. Finishing the writing project is just the beginning. The reality is you're also marketer, publicist, event planner, and a little bit of a hustler. Basically, you're a partner with your publisher who has invested money and time into you. Going into this thinking you're just the writer is a little... crazy.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

EsoWon Books Might Close

It's always sad when one of our favorite businesses close.

And come Christmas 2007, there's a possibility that EsoWon Books, L.A.s well-known black-owned and black-focused bookstore might close.

Article here in the Los Angeles Wave: Black-themed bookstore faces possible closure.

They cite the usual culprit: not being able to compete with the discounts offered by chain stores and the internet, and a smaller amount of mass orders from local libraries and public schools.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Re-Visiting Atlanta

Atlanta is one of my favorite places where I've never lived. Love visiting. Feels like a second home. In fact, most of my high school classmates are now Atlanta residents. Too bad for Detroit, but to my friends Atlanta seems to offer something special for black college grads.

The city is also home to many authors, and it's also the setting for many of my favorite books. Such a rich history, all the spoken and unspoken rules, the dynamic black community. No wonder Atlanta is the backdrop for many great books.

In my opinion, Pearl Cleage's novels are some of the best out there. And you just can't help but love how she describes the loves, lives, struggles, and triumphs of the black community. Too many novels to name and love. Check out her website to find a good starting point. But I'm excited she has a new one slated for release in early 2008, Seen It All And Done The Rest.

The Atlanta child murders of the late 1970s is still etched in the memory of Atlanta residents and the U.S. There is a new book, No Safe Place, a memoir by Kim Reid, which chronicles her life growing up as the daughter of one of the lead investigators. It's gotten some great reviews and press.

And of course, if you want a fiction story set during the same time period of the Atlanta child murders, you can't go wrong with Leaving Atlanta by Tayari Jones. Read this as part of a book club a few years back. Her second novel, The Untelling, is another set in Atlanta that is a classic.

Of course, newbie Fiona Zedde is from Atlanta. And there are two fabulous independent bookstores I love in the city -- Charis and Outwrite.

I'm sure there are many MANY other Atlanta-based authors and books I'm not mentioning. If you're so inclined, what or who are some of your favorites from Atlanta? And... would you recommend Atlanta to someone from L.A. considering it as a potential move?

But focus on the books part first :-)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Proud Papa "Light"

Always makes me feel good when I see former students or employees go on to great jobs and opportunities.

So it's with a great sense of pride that I tell you to support the tv shows Sunday Best on BET and The Singing Bee on NBC. One of my former student assistants is a music/talent coordinator for both shows. Sunday Best is like an American Idol for gospel music singers, and it's been getting some great reviews.

Great organizer, great musician, and making a great name for herself starting in the entertainment industry. I'll be setting the DVR to see the results of her work.

OK. Back to books and related stuff tomorrow :-)

Monday, October 01, 2007

Cover Story

So... Unless you're self-published, or a Jackie Collins/Danielle Steel force of nature, most authors have no control over the design of their book covers.

Lies. You might get some "say" as in "what do these characters look like" (and I'll explain later how my cover -- which I LOVE -- for Right Side of the Wrong Bed came about), but that's generally about it. The publisher can take it or leave it with what you "say." And that's because publishers have a strong idea of what works and what doesn't in terms of selling and marketing books.

So yesterday at the WEHO Book Fair, Fiona and I are walking through the festival grounds, and off to the right she sees this woman at a booth pitching her book, Confessions of an Internet Model.

Fiona goes, "Oh my God, that's Shantelle from the cover of my book." The book in question is Fiona's A Taste of Sin, which came out summer 2006. I go, "Oh my God, it is!" Small talk is made. Everyone is happy. We all go on with our lives.

But flashback to 2005, when Fiona is asked by our editor at Kensington what she sees/envisions for the Taste of Sin cover, Fiona gives her suggestions and a list of stock images she's found at Getty Images that she sees/envisions being used. Editor takes information, sends to cover design staff, Getty Images photos are bought. Shantelle ends up on a book cover. FYI, models in Getty Images pics sign waivers giving use of their photos for any product.

In 2006 when I was telling Fiona and my literary agent Nicholas that I wanted "live photos" and not illustrations for my cover, as we did for Down For Whatever, Fiona suggested I take a stroll through Getty Images, and mark down a couple dozen photos of people, places, things I liked.

I did. Along with notes about what I was seeing/envisioning: light colors, pastels, dark men, just a little man skin (but tasteful man skin), and simplicity.

Don't ask why pastels. I think I was in my chocolate brown and pastels phase, which might have been in my notes. Man skin, because it sells -- to straight women and gay men, and those who like to see man skin. Simplicity, because I noticed a lot of "busy" book covers and thought simplicity would stand out. Didn't know if those notes would amount to anything regarding the cover, but I shared my two cents with no expectations.

And voila. A few months later after sharing those notes, the Getty Images, and my visions, Kristine Mills-Noble came up with a book cover for Right Side of the Wrong Bed that I fell in love with immediately. No changes suggested. No tweaks. No hesitations. Isn't it awesome?

And now that the book will be out next month (can't believe October/November are here already), I've gotten amazing feedback from people that the cover alone will get them to take a second look and buy. Hope so.

So that's the cover story today. And no, I haven't met either of the men on the cover. But if you know them, or have seen them, please let them know they are on the cover of a fabulous new book called Right Side of the Wrong Bed.

As If...

As if I didn't have a day job to get to on Monday morning, I just got in an hour ago from an evening at The Abbey in West Hollywood. It's 1 am now.

Big surprise seeing it as crowded as it was, filled with hundreds of bar-hoppers, enjoying the latest hip hop and $15 martinis. It was as if none of them had to get up on Monday morning either. The Abbey. Black Sunday. That's a whole entry in itself.

Of course none of them probably spent all day at the West Hollywood Book Fair, where I was with Fiona and my other writer friend Rhonda. Went to some great panels on historical fiction, lesbian foremothers in fiction, and making your book a success.

And for the first time in a long time, I felt 100% satisfied with the panels I attended. Like, I stayed at all of them for the entire time they were in session. And learned some good things too, which is always a treat.

It was as if I got a day of writer classes at no cost. The best deal around.