The After-Words

Option 3 AfterwardsFrom ‘Afterwards’:

“Things between them had been frustrating, but if he didn’t sleep with her he didn’t have to worry about the afterwards, the after-words, the explaining that inevitably came when a woman assumed too much . . .”

Just wanted to drop a line to thank everyone for their support of ‘Afterwards’ which has so far been so much more well-received than I could possibly have anticipated, given that its about two secondary characters who were never in the forefront of my mind as possible leads until a reader asked me, ‘Are you going to write a story about Chris?’

As I write this, ‘Afterwards’ has 33 reviews, and all of them are five-stars, and is ranked as follows on Amazon:

That’s amazing, and I don’t say that as a boast, because anyone who writes and tells you they know that people will love what they wrote is either a liar or self-delusional. You never know, and I certainly didn’t. For sure, I didn’t see the possibilities in the main character that the reader who asked about him saw. Generally, I consider every character, no matter how small to have some back-story, but more often than not, that story remains in my mind and never gets written. This time, because someone asked the question, I took a chance and found myself falling in love with a complex man and a somewhat bruised, though not broken woman.

Thus far, some of my most challenging work has been in response to reader queries, so I dedicated this book to two of the most voracious readers I know, Deloris and Sabrina who will remain surname-less to protect their anonymity. They don’t just read books, they devour them, and think about them, and talk about them, and remind writers like me that what feels like a solitary pursuit is really not because there are Delorises and Sabrinas out there who care and are watching.

So my after-words–to Deloris, Sabrina and everyone else who’s sent me email about my work, and made comments or asked questions on this blog–are simply this: thank you, you make my work better.

N.

If you don’t have your copy of ‘Afterwards’ yet, check it out!

Amazon
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Paying it Forward . . . The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

I’d never heard of a “blog hop” before today, but here’s the deal: I was tagged by author, M.J. Kane, in her blog which answered 10 questions about “the next big thing” she’s working on, She’d been tagged by another writer. At the end of this blog (which will answer the 10 questions) I will tag a bunch of other authors, effectively paying it forward and getting folks who read my blog to go to theirs and discover these wonderful authors. So it’s the author’s equivalent of a pyramid scheme, pretty much. Kidding!

This whole deal is incredibly well-timed because I am now officially “in the thick of it” – that place in the writing of your book where you can scarcely think of anything else, so just today as I was thinking about how I’ve neglected my blogging, this incredible opportunity came up for me to ramble on about the only thing I can think about these days – ‘The Art of Endings’ – my next big thing.

So here goes:

flatecover (1)Question #1. What is the working title of your book?

The Art of Endings‘. It’s not the ‘working title’ – it will be the title I use unless I get divine intervention telling me it should not be so.

Question #2. Where did the idea for the book come from?

I was plagued over the holidays by a sense I had (and honestly, some reviews from people I trust) that the ending of ‘Secret’ was only somewhat satisfying. That more remained to be said. And since ‘Secret’ was definitely a departure for me in terms of style of storytelling, I began obsessing about the ending, and how the art of doing it well in writing is the hardest thing to perfect, even if you’re a pretty decent writer otherwise. And also, it was the end of the year so there was that ending to contemplate as well. And finally, some of the characters in Secret needed to find resolutions (endings) to long-troubling issues, so I decided to explore those. I blogged about it here.

Question #3. What is the genre?

I write contemporary women’s fiction. Some would call it romantic fiction. That’s probably a fair assessment as well, though for me, that’s not the only point of the books I write. The romance is what lures you in – I hope the message I convey goes beyond boy-meets-girl.

Question #4. Which actors would you choose to play the characters of the movie rendition?

I dreaded answering this question because I never draw characters with anyone in mind except themselves. They are whole and unique to me. And I also don’t watch too many movies but  here’s what I got from my Googling:

For Darren, Lamman Rucker

Lamman Rucker

For Trey, Shemar Moore

Shemar Moore3

For Shayla, Joy Bryant (plus about 10 pounds)

Joy Bryant2

 

 

 

 

 

For Paige, Gabrielle Union

Gabrielle Union

 

 

 

Question #5. What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Two men learn to understand themselves and the women they love, in the context of relationships they never thought they would have, or were capable of.

Question #6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency/publisher?

Self-pubbed.

Question #7. How long did it take to write the first draft?

Still working on it! ARGH!

Question #8. What other books would you compare it to in your genre?

Wow. Tough one. I’ll take a page from M.J. Kane and compare myself only to myself. As writers we’re in the same trenches but fighting our own individual battles. So ‘The Art of Endings’ will be like ‘The Seduction of Dylan Acosta’ in that it will have only one side’s point of view, whereas I generally write from both the male and female POVs. This time it’s all about the guys (she says, biting her fingernails with nervousness).

Question #9. Who, or what inspired you to write this book?

It all comes to me in my sleep, or something. I dunno. But seriously, when I finish a book, the characters go away. They are no longer in my head, but after ‘Secret’, they were still there, and so I knew there was more to write and I had finished it too soon. That instinct was confirmed for me by some trusted readers.

Question #10. What else about your book might pique the readers’ interest?

The primary thing would be that it’s meant to demystify the male journey toward romantic attachment. As women we wonder what makes them tick, how they decide that they ‘love’ rather than just ‘want’ a woman. What are the forces that make them form emotional attachments, and what makes those attachments stick? Women’s fiction – especially romances – have examined to death how and why women love. This is meant to give the view from the other side, the other sex.

And done. Thanks for recruiting me, M.J.!

Delaney Diamond, Nikki Walker, and Candace Shaw, tag you’re it!

Happy Reading and writing!

-Nia-

‘Secret’ Release Day!

Whew. It’s here! The release day for ‘Secret’. All the levers have been pulled and it will go live on Amazon sometime today. I spent the last several days agonizing because it’s so different from anything else I’ve written in that it’s not pure romance, not chick-lit and in some ways lacks a genre. Still I stayed true to my favorite theme of self-discovery through relationships, and hope you like it.

Happy Reading and Happy Holidays!

-Nia-

Voice

I’ve been reading a lot lately. Most of it from the genre that I write, some of it very different. And I think it’s had an interesting side-effect. For a little while, it made me forget my voice. Some writers have a very strong voice – you read their stuff and you know who it is immediately. Stephen King is one such writer, as is Toni Morrison. No matter the subject, you know when you’re reading something they’ve written. But those are seasoned, acclaimed writers that everyone recognizes, whether they’re avid readers or not.

voiceLately I’ve encountered a few who are new to me, but who write with such strength and such purpose that you can’t help but admire them. Mercedes Keyes is one such writer. Her Fancy series has captured my imagination because it is so different from the stuff I’m usually drawn to, and about a period in history (the Antebellum period) that I have a strong, visceral reaction to. Another is RL Mathewson who writes lighthearted, whimsical romances with anti-hero male characters and underdog female protagonists. Both are indie authors that make me both angry and amazed. Angry because I wonder how many similarly talented voices we’ve been deprived of because of the idea that the only worthwhile fiction comes from big publishing houses. And amazed because in the art of writing, the voices are so varied and colorful and vivid.

Reading strong voices has an effect on every reader, but if you’re also a writer, it has one additional result. It can cloud and obscure your own. The more I read, the more other voices creep into my writing. And this is not necessarily a bad thing, but lately its made it difficult for me to get anything down on the page that feels authentically mine. So beginning today, I’ve decided to clear my head, read nothing but my own stuff and revive my own unique voice. It’s only Day One, but with all the great stuff out there, and the Amazon.com 1-Click button taunting me, ugh, it hurts already . . .

Hey, I may have to suffer, but you don’t. For the next week, I’ll post a book each day that I think represents strong voice. Today, check out The Fancy by Mercedes Keyes.The Fancy

-Nia-

NaNoWriMo #Fail

I suppose there is a very, very slender chance that I will finish my book in the next two days. And it may even be something people would want to read. But I doubt it. So I’m going to throw in the towel right now and acknowledge my NaNoWriMo fail.  Truth is, I’ve never been great about writing under duress, particularly where a timeline is involved.

I was the kid who would wait until the very last evening before the essay was due and knock it out between 10 p.m. and midnight, but only because the alternative was to get a failing grade. But maybe I’m being hard on myself by considering this a failure. I have a good number of pages that I feel good about and will probably be ready to edit within a week or so, but the specter of November 30th has had an interesting effect on my psyche – my characters are not speaking to me, they have fallen completely silent over the past couple of days. I visit them in my mind, knock on their doors, ask if they’ll come out to play and for the moment, they have rebuffed every attempt. So I’ve decided to play a little hard to get, ignore them for a day or so and hope they’ll come around.

The characters I’ve been trying to lure out to play are from my new book, ‘Secret’, Trey and Shayla. They’re a complicated pair with difficult pasts, each of them insisting to themselves and to each other that they don’t want a relationship. But sometimes what we say we don’t want is precisely what we need. Here’s an appetizer from Secret (and hopefully not the last piece of writing I’ll do this month)

Happy Reading . . . and to my fellow writers, happy (sigh) writing.

-Nia-

Bad Girls

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DeviantArt Design

There’s something about writing about “bad girls” that excites and interests me. The motivations, the compulsions, the experiences of women who are not examples of the feminine ideal awakens my imagination in a way that writing about “good girls” does not. It probably has something to do with my Catholic girls’ school upbringing where I was constantly restrained, restricted, admonished, and corrected.

And of course, hanging over my head (literally) at every turn was The Blessed Virgin, the ultimate example of female virtue and self-sacrifice.

For some reason, as I got older, I was always drawn to the girls who were in many ways the antithesis of that example: “girls who rode in cars with boys”, who had a little more information about sex than most of us, girls who advocated for breaking rather than adhering to the rules. But in terms of being a bad girl myself, I was always more of a poser than an actual do-er, more of a voyeur than a participant. Even then, I think I was honing my instinct for collecting information about how people live and why they do the things they do; and girls who against all instructions to the contrary broke free of an ideal someone else created for them struck me as worth studying.

In my new release ‘Unsuitable Men’ I write about a different kind of “bad girl”. She’s not a rebel at all and by all outward appearances, she conforms. But she has another side to her that’s self-destructive and inconsistent with the image she portrays. This is a different kind of bad girl – the kind some people call a ‘slut’, a word I think should not exist in any language, not only because it’s derogatory, but because it is an oversimplification of the complex ways in which women own, disown, are in touch with or pathologically out of touch with their ability to control and define their own sexuality. But that’s really heavy stuff and I tend – very intentionally – not to write very heavy books.

Still, I would love it if you would read ‘Unsuitable Men’ and leave me a review. I like to hear what you think about my writing, but also love hearing what you think about the themes. My goal is to tackle heavy themes in a light read. Let me know how I’m doing!

-Nia-

Unsuitable Men – AVAILABLE NOW on Amazon

Ah, technology. After many fits and starts, Amazon has finally uploaded ‘Unsuitable Men’ and it is available for purchase now.

The book details and description on Amazon indicate that it is an excerpt and 38 pages long. Those details are incorrect and are residuals from when only the excerpt was available. Amazon is working to update it and will hopefully do so soon.

Still if you purchase now, you will get the entire e-book. Enjoy, and please consider writing me a review!

-Nia-