Sample Sunday: The Divorce Chronicles 2

**unedited and subject to change before release**

divorce2Angela Bassett Moment: 

The full-sized bookcase headboard bed that had been handed down to me by my mother years ago had been replaced with a king size white diamond sleigh bed. Even more noticeable than the beautiful bed was the black and white zebra print comforter set-which was accented by hot pink decorative pillows- and the dozen or so shopping bags that set on top of it. I could definitely tell that a woman had a hand in the bedroom décor because Mike is a man’s man and there’s no way he would ever choose such a girly look for the bedroom if it were left up to him; nor would he wear the Nicki Minaj Pink Friday perfume and makeup that was scattered on top of the dresser.

My breathing increased and I began seeing red. So, he’s moved his whore up in my house already, huh?! I walked over and looked inside the bags on the bed. There were items from Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Body Works, and Pink Oasis- a store that sold slutty clothes to THOT’s around the world. To chicks like Daphne, this store was their version of Lord & Taylor. I emptied the items out of the Pink Oasis bags and studied the tacky mesh jumpsuits and skin-tight pattern print mini-dresses, all in loud colors.The one I have in my hand at the moment is a black tube dress with hip cutouts that leaves little to the imagination. Mike had obviously treated her to a shopping spree at the mall, because the receipts showed the last four digits of his debit card number, which had been used to purchase this stuff. Really, Mike?! I’m not a prude, by any means…but I would never wear this stuff. I don’t know any respectable woman who would.

I spent the next several minutes perusing the other bags and the countless Payless shoe boxes on the bed. My husband cheated on me with a hooker who wears cheap dresses and Payless shoes? Even worse than that, he’s moved her up in the house-MY HOUSE-and has her sleeping in a brand new bed, when he knew damn well the bed we’d shared was so old and uncomfortable, we could feel the springs in our backs. The loud, irritating squeaking noises the bed made every time we moved prevented us from ever getting a good night’s sleep.

My nostrils flared as I looked around the room. He couldn’t upgrade his wife, but he didn’t seem to have a problem upgrading his whore, who has definitely made her presence made around my house. I remember when I asked him for $20.00 one day to put gas in the car and he acted like I’d asked his ass for two million dollars. I still get mad when I think about how he acted all huffy with me, like he didn’t want to give me the money when he’s the one who drove my car and used all my damn gas anyway. Then he had the nerve to throw the money down on the table at me- like he expected me to fetch it like a dog or something- instead of putting it in my hand. “Nah, if that’s your attitude, you can keep your money,” I’d told him. And he didn’t hesitate to pick it up and put it back in his wallet. Cheap bastard!

‘Oh, but you can treat ol’ girl to shopping sprees at the mall with no problem, huh Mike? Oh, okay!’ I talked out loud to myself as if Mike were standing in the room with me.

I went on a rampage, tearing up and destroying anything my eyes set sight on. Tears mixed with snot ran down my face, but I didn’t care at the moment. I continued to talk to myself out loud- just like Angela Bassett did in my favorite movie, Waiting To Exhale– as I destroyed all of Daphne’s things: ‘After all I’ve done for this negro, this is how he repays me? I screwed his ass when he wanted it…however he wanted it; cooked his meals, washed his funky ass drawers, smelled his stank farts when he passed gas in his sleep. Where was Ms. Thang at when he had a common head cold, yet he acted like his ass had pneumonia and was about to die? Was she the one slaving over the hot stove, cooking him a pot of homemade chicken noodle soup just like his mama used to make for him, because he claims he simply can’t eat the stuff out of the can? Hell nah! Was she the one he called into the bathroom to squeeze the nasty infection out of the pimples and blackheads that he got often from him bacne flair ups? Fuck nah! Was she the one who was patient with him and held him down every time he was ‘between jobs’ and didn’t have money to help pay the rent? I think not. Damn you, Mike.’

I felt myself getting dizzy a few minutes later. Tired and out of breath, I let my body slide down the wall until my butt hit the floor. I sat and cried, using my sleeve to wipe my face. I effed this room up, that’s for damn sure. The words to Jazmine Sullivan’s song, Bust Your Windows came to mind: ‘After five whole years of this bullshit…gave you all of me and you played with it..’ Yep, that’s exactly how I’m feeling right now. Am I wrong? Maybe. But imagining the look on Mike’s face when he sees the mess I’ve made makes me feel better. Hell, he’ll be alright, and she will too. They’d better be lucky I got tired, because there’s a whole lot of more damage I could do.

I sat for a minute and caught my breath, but the tears kept falling. Here I was, thinking I’ve been a good wife, and Mike has been out laying it low and spreading it wide somewhere else. My phone rang, interrupting my thoughts. It’s Simone. I wasn’t going to answer her at first, but maybe talking to her will calm my nerves.

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Why Indie Authors likely won’t see our names on the NYT Bestsellers list

No matter what you dream to become when you grow up, we all have an end goal. We do what we do with the hope and intent that one day, our hard work will pay off and we’ll receive the best and highest accolades possible. Ask most singers what they want, and it’s most likely a Grammy. Aside from being a Hollywood A-lister, movie actors/actresses are aiming for the ultimate prize- the Oscar. And for authors, the majority of our goal is to see our name in lights (well, in print) on the NYT Bestseller’s list. If you’ve been lucky enough to land yourself a book deal with a traditional publisher, you just might get there one day. But for indie authors, this is a dream that few of us manage to see come true, and this is especially true for African-American authors.

I recently saw a post on Facebook that stated that ‘although there are many talented AA authors who deserve to be on the NYT Bestsellers list, very few of us are actually there.’ The person who posted this wanted insight as to why we thought this is. My immediate thought was this- most indie authors do not have traditional publishing deals, which is why we’re self-publishers in the first place. Most traditional publishing houses won’t even glance at your book query if you don’t have a literary agent and those- like everything else needed to make it to the top- costs quite a few coins that many of us don’t have. Most indie authors don’t have the luxury of quitting our nine-to-five jobs and staying home to write full time. IDK about you, but if I tried this, my kids and I would be sleeping in my car. I have to work and write when I can. I’m a struggling, single mom, which means I can’t afford an agent, which means my book won’t make it into the hands of the powers that be who can secure me a spot on the NYT list any time soon.

Secondly, to make it onto the NYT Bestsellers list, you have to have a certain number of book sales, nationally. While Amazon and Createspace has made it a blessing (and an even bigger curse) to publish our books through them for very little money, exclusively selling your books on Amazon will not garner you enough sales to make it onto this list- not unless you somehow manage to get the attention of millions of people around the world. We need to sell books in book stores, retail stores, as well as online, but without a traditional book deal, we’re limited as to where our books are available for purchase, which is the main factor working against us. Selling 500 books in a week on Amazon is great; but you need to sell ten times that amount of books in a weeks time to make the NYT list.

Another deciding factor is that the big time publishers who aren’t African-American, seem to think that only a certain genre of books are worthy of being on the NYT list. And unfortunately, many indie Urban authors/books don’t make the cut. Sure, you have Urban authors who are NYT Bestsellers, but they have traditional book publishing deals, which mean their books are available on many more platforms around the world than just Amazon. When it comes to who execs think deserves to be on this list, it’s no different than how it is during Oscar Award season. Every year, African-American actors/actresses are snubbed at these awards, no matter how great their movie and acting was. I once read that the panel of people who judge and make the decision as to who wins are mainly old, white males. There’s very little diversity when it comes to the list of movies in the running to win an Oscar. Who  can forget the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag that trended on Twitter last year? Just like the Oscar panel of judges- who either feel Black movies aren’t relatable to white audiences or simply aren’t good enough to win this prestigious award- the same happens with literary execs who feel that Black authors- specifically Urban authors- and the books they write aren’t relatable to the public. When I started my literary career, I had no idea how to categorize my books when it came to publishing them. I placed my first few books under the Urban category, simply because I’m an AA author. I know better now, but back then I didn’t. To many execs and readers, the moment they see Urban, they’ve made up their minds that they’re not interested, which really isn’t fair to the author. Just because a book is listed as Urban, doesn’t mean the content of the book is all about what has become synonymous with Urban Fiction these days.The genre of your book can unfortunately be a deciding factor against you.

Another thing to consider- book covers and titles. We can say ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover’ until we’re blue in the face; but the fact of the matter is- people do it anyway. I, myself, have taken one look at certain covers/titles and thought, “Nope…next.” I know some authors write what we know. We choose certain genres because it’s relatable. Urban authors, for example, write ‘hood romances’ and books containing drugs and gangs either because it fascinates them or because they’ve lived it, their family and friends have lived it, so they know that life and they write it. And contrary to what literary exes think, there is a growing trend and audience for this genre. However, many of the book covers reflect what the content of the book is about- which means there are guns, drugs, thugs, titles with bitches and whores in them- all displayed on the front of the book. To certain people, it’s these things that cause them to immediately decide to keep scrolling right on past your book- simply because of the cover. It’s not likely that you’ll be able to walk into Barnes & Noble, for instance, and find many books with these things on the front of them. We are certainly all entitled to write and read what we want. I’ve heard many Urban authors say they write this genre because ‘it sells.’ But is it selling to the people who have the opportunity and connections to take you from being an Amazon Bestselling author to a NYT Bestselling author? Because there is a huge difference between the two. If it’s not your goal or intent to go any further than the Amazon Top 100 list, then you probably don’t care what people think of your title/cover; but to make it to the top, be mindful of the content that’s on your book covers. Just like people eat with their eyes first, we read with our eyes first….wait, we read with our eyes anyway. It sounded a lot better in my head. Anyway, you get my drift- sometimes those titles and book covers carry more weight than you realize.

** Disclaimer: I’m certainly no expert on what it takes to make it to the NYT Bestsellers list- if I were, I’d be there myself. Maybe one day…but I did think that Facebook post was an interesting topic and this was my two cents on the matter**

 

Cover Reveal: The Divorce Chronicles 2

I am so excited to show you all the book cover for Book 2 of my series, The Divorce Chronicles (which I designed myself). I got so many compliments on the cover for Book 1. I wanted to make the covers and colors pop and stand out. Due to the fact that there are limited stock images featuring African-Americans, it’s easy to see why so many author’s book covers and models look the same; so I decided to go with vector images instead, and I absolutely love the results.

If you haven’t read book one yet, click the link to get your copy.

http://www.amazon.com/Divorce-Chronicles-Simone-Book-ebook/dp/B01F99ZSTO

Readers thought Book 1 was as informative as it was hilarious, so you won’t want to miss it. Also, Book 2 picks up where Book 1 left off, only instead of focusing on Simone, I’ve shifted focus to her best friend and confidant, Danielle, who has discovered that her marriage to her husband, Mike isn’t as solid as she thought it was. Check out the cover for Book 2 below.

divorce2

Literary Puppets: Is it worth it to allow self-published ebook publishers to pull the strings on your career?

Since I made the decision to follow my dream and become an author, I’ve been asked and advised to sign publishing deals with social media/ebook publishers. Two years ago, I got an email from a certain Urban Fiction publisher who said she’d come across my book and would like to sign me. At that point, I was very new to self-publishing (I’d only written and published my second book) but there was a part of me that enjoyed the process, even though I will admit it can be frustrating at times.

I spent many long nights and hours on Google- reading and doing research on as many self-publishing tips and articles I could find. I spent countless hours creating blogs, websites, and establishing connections with readers; and after doing all of that, I just wasn’t willing to give up all creative control to someone else. I immediately went to this publishers website to see their work. While she’s definitely made a name for herself, I knew that my writing style wasn’t going to fit in with the books and authors she had on her roster.My books do not fall under the Urban category. There are no thugs, gangstas, and bitches in my titles, which was what the majority of what I saw on her site were about. I very nicely declined her offer. I’ve never been a follower and even though this publisher has a bigger following than I do, I feel like with hard work, I can get where I want to be.

A lot of new authors see dollar signs when they scroll down their Facebook timelines and see all the fancy book covers from ebook publishers- who all claim to be better than any other publishing company- despite the fact that all of their covers are nearly identical. Add to that the fact that while many of these publishers posts how successful their company’s are, their success comes at the expense of the authors on their rosters, who usually don’t realize it right off. The idea of a publishing deal is fascinating to them, and that’s all they’re focused on. They don’t realize until it’s too late sometimes that the label (publisher) is more important than the product. It’s like how guys are with shoes- men will go out and spend their whole paychecks on a pair of Jordan’s, even though most of them are ugly and look exactly like the last one’s. To them, all that matter’s is the ‘Jordan’ symbol and label. That’s what their paying for. That’s what they get hype and excited about. It’s the same thing with books- most urban fiction readers buy books based on the label (publishing company) and couldn’t care less about the actual author. So, while the publisher is racking up the dollars when/if the book starts selling like hotcakes, the author is only seeing a small percentage of those earnings. Not only that, many are being told what to write, how to write, they don’t have a say so in the book cover design or even the graphics designer who does the cover. It’s similar to a new singer who’s just landed themselves a record deal- they go in the studio and sing the songs that the music execs/producers tell them to sing. I have heard many famous artists say that it took years and several albums down the line before they were given any type of creative control on their records. The music label owns them and makes all the decisions on everything from their songs, to their clothes, and even whether or not they can even get pregnant and start families.

Sorry, not sorry, I can’t give anybody that’s not doing a whole lot more than I am, that kind of control over my literary career. I have put in way too much time, effort, blood, sweat, and tears to just hand over the reins to someone else and become their literary puppet. Why would I let someone else make all the decisions about my stories, my ideas? I certainly understand why some new and self-published authors consider and give in to the idea- it’s two years in, and it’s still difficult trying to get readers to actually buy my books (and not want them for free) Marketing sometimes makes me want to throw my laptop across the room. I am constantly begging readers to leave reviews- which are what drive sales and attract new readers- although my pleas tend to go unanswered. It seems like no matter what I do or how good people tell me my books are, I’m still not where I want to be as an author. This reason- along with lack of know how- is why most authors give in to the allure/pressure of signing a publishing deal with smaller publishers. I even gave in to the temptation myself at one point about a year ago. Bad mistake. The ‘publisher’ I signed with kept pushing back the date of my book release..because she had personal issues. Although she’s very successful on her own, she didn’t seem too focused on her author’s books. When the release dates came and went, with no book released, she didn’t even contact me…I had to inbox her and ask what was up. While I understood her issues, books are a business, and the business side of me didn’t like being pushed to the back burner while she dealt with personal problems. That was money/potential money out of my pockets. I wasn’t liking how things were going, so I asked to be released from my deal before I even had one book published under her. Her response was, “Okay!” Just okay? I would hope that the person in charge of my career would have more to say than just ‘okay’ when I asked to be released from my contract. It was obvious that she didn’t care too much, which is all the  more reason why I’m glad I stuck to self-publishing my own books, the way I had been doing in the first place.

I won’t say that all smaller publishers are bad. I’m sure there are some good ones out there who really do have their author’s best interests at heart. I have yet to come across one, though. So, I think I’ll hold out and keep writing query letters and pray that one day, a big-time publisher will say, “Yes!”  I feel that in the end, all of my hard work, struggles, and frustrations will be worth it.

Sample Sunday: The Divorce Chronicles (Book 2)

Keep_Calm_Coming_SoonComing Soon!

**unedited and subject to change before book is released**

“Can you believe this negro had the nerve to tell me that he’s going to call the police on me for trashing his house?” I asked Simone before taking a sip of my Ameretto sour cocktail.

It’s been a few days since I wrecked havoc on Mike’s crib, and Simone suggested that we go out, to celebrate my ‘almost’ divorce from Mike. We’re sipping on drinks at The Purple Palace jazz club while enjoying music from the house band.

“I told you he was gonna call the cops on you. What did you expect, messing up his stuff like that?”

I waved her comment off with a nonchalant wave. “Girl, I ain’t worried about Mike calling the police on me.”

“You should be.”

“I’m not. I told him that if he calls the police on me, he’ll just be bringing unwanted attention to the little side-hustle he has going on…and he definitely doesn’t want that.”

“What side hustle?”

“Apparently, he’s selling weed, and God only knows what else.”

Simone’s eyes widened. “How do you know he’s selling drugs?”

“Because I found his stash while I was looking for my suitcase in the closet the other day. And it’s not just a little bag or two…there was at least twenty bags of weed in there, along with a scale and about one thousand dollars in cash.”

Simone gasped. “Mike’s a drug dealer?!” she said, a little too loudly.

“Keep your voice down,” I said, while casting a quick glance at the bartender, who was trying to pretend like he wasn’t ear hustling on our conversation.

“I’m just saying, how did you not know your husband…”

“That’s my soon-to-be-ex-husband,” I corrected her.

“Okay, your soon-to-be-ex-husband was selling drugs in your house?”

“Hell, I went to work everyday, and I put in long hours at the salon; I didn’t have time to sit around and watch Mike’s every move.”

“What if he gets caught and he tries to say that you were in on it the whole time? You’ll be going to jail for real.”

“I thought about that. That’s why I didn’t do what I started to do and keep the money. I left everything where it was. So, if he gets caught, he’s on his own…him and that little slut he left me for.”

Before Simone could respond, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around to find an older man who looked to be in his fifties, standing there grinning at me.

“Hey, sweet thang…you wanna dance with me?”

I gave him a quick once-over. “No thanks…maybe later,” I told him with my nose turned up in the air.

“I’ma hold you to that,” he winked before sauntering off.

“Why you didn’t wanna dance with him?” Simone asked me after he left.

“Girl, dude is rocking a Al Sharpton press-and-curl and gold chains; he looks like Jerome off Martin. All he’s missing is the gold teeth.”

Simone cracked up laughing. “He doesn’t look that bad.”

“Well let me call him back over here and you can dance with him, then.”

“Nah, I’m good.”

“Besides, I don’t want no old man; I like my men young and strong with good stamina…like that cute tenderoni who played Kunta Kinte in the new Roots. Did you see it?”

“I watched some of it…until I started getting mad, then I changed the channel.”

“Girrlll, well I tuned in every night so I could see Kunta. He made my kitty moist looking at him running through those African jungles, all hot and sweaty…” I said while squirming on my barstool and fanning myself. “He could definitely get it.”

Simone just looked at me and rolled her eyes. “Him and any other man under thirty. You better leave those young boys alone.”

“The hell I will. I love me some young men. I can train them just right.”

“Obviously you couldn’t train Mike,” Simone said sarcastically under her breath but loud enough for me to hear.

“Oh, that was such a low blow, bitch. You didn’t even have to go there.”

“That was pretty mean, huh?”

“Hell yeah, it was. You can buy me another drink to make it up to me.”

While Simone called the bartender over, I looked around the room, trying to see if I could find a potential candidate to spend the rest of the night with when we leave here. So far, all I see are men my age and older. I was glad when Simone suggested to come to this lounge because the age requirement to get in is twenty-five and above, which means there are men here young enough to be my type. The only bad part about it is I have to compete with these hot in the tail, twenty-something year old girls walking around with their silicone enhanced booties and tata’s on display, soaking up all the attention from the young cuties I’m hoping to attract.

My eyes landed on two men sitting at the opposite end of the bar. I caught eyes with one of them, who smiled and winked an eye at me, flirting with me. He has a perfect set of pearly whites, and his baby face suggests that he can’t be more than twenty-five. He’s wearing a white t-shirt, the sleeves hugging his bulging bi-ceps and showing off his muscles. He just doesn’t know- winking at me will get his little young ass molested up in here.

Our eyes talked to each other from where we sat. No words were needed…it was clear we both liked what we saw. I’m glad that I wore this low cut, v-neck top- so he can get an eyeful of my cleavage, which he can’t take his eyes off of. My boobies put Tocarra’s from America’s Next Top Model’s to shame, and I loved to show them off. Since he’s watching, I’ll put on a show for him. I took an ice cube from my glass and sucked on it seductively before accidentally-on purpose letting it slip out of my hands and down the front of my shirt. I took my time about digging the ice cube out of my shirt. By the time I removed it, my nipples were standing at attention. I looked up at him and winked.

“You are so thirsty,” Simone said, her voice full of disgust.

“I sure am, and I’m hoping that sexy piece of chocolate will quench my thirst as soon as we get up out of here.”

“After that pathetic show you just put on, I’ll bet his little dick is hard as hell right now.”

“Lawd, I hope so. I’m about to go find out. Excuse me.” I stood up, preparing to make my way over to where the two chocolate God’s were sitting.

“You are not about to go over there?! You don’t even know them,” Simone exclaimed.

I don’t know why she always acts so shocked at how forward I am when it comes to men. When I see something I want, I go for it…I’ve always been this way. “I sure am. I’m about to give him something he can feel, baby…and he’s gonna like it, too,” I laughed, singing the words to Aretha Franklin’s classic song that was remade by En Vogue in the 90’s. I adjusted my girls, making sure they were sitting up just right in my push-up bra. In my mind, Giving Him Something He Can Feel played in the background as I sexily sashayed over to sit down on the stool beside who I hope to be rolling around the bed in the throes of passion with by the end of the night. I’m not looking for a husband to replace Mike…not just yet; but I am not opposed to getting my freak on while I’m waiting on my divorce to be finalized.