ERIC JEROME DICKEY’S 6 TIPS FOR MAKING YOUR WRITING POP!

A couple of weeks ago I promised to share some of the tips I’ve picked up at the various writing events I’ve attended this summer. I’ve been hitting these streets hard and I feel terrible about taking so long to drop a ‘lil knowledge on y’all. Charge it to my head and not my heart. I’m a homebody by nature, and I’m past ready to have several seats. But, Fall promises to be just as busy, so I’ve got to keep grinding and chasing these dreams!

When I attended the National Book Club Conference in Atlanta I had the opportunity to sit in on an interview with two literary heavy-weights in the African-American fiction community. Eric Jerome Dickey and Victoria Christopher Murray have both published like a gazillion books and have been in the game for decades. Victoria did the asking and Eric did the answering. Needless to say, I was beyond interested in what they had to say about the writing process.


Victoria Christopher Murray Photo Courtesy of victoriachristophermurray.com
Victoria Christopher Murray
Photo Courtesy of victoriachristophermurray.com

ERIC JEROME DICKEY’S 6 TIPS FOR MAKING YOUR WRITING POP!

  1. Watch A Movie. Yep, that’s right. Get your popcorn, some kind of drank, kick your feet up and watch a movie. Just don’t get too comfortable because you’re going to be ‘working’ while you watch. Eric suggested downloading the movie script and studying the movie from the writer’s perspective while comparing the writer’s intentions to the actor’s portrayal. Look for movies and download scripts for free at The Internet Movie Script Database.
  2. 2. Minor Characters Matter. Every single person in your books needs to pop. They need to have personality, special quirks, ways of speaking, etc. No matter how minor the character, if they’re on the page, they need to be on the page. No one is allowed to have presence in your book as filler. If they’re not bringing anything to the table, it may be time to say, “Hasta la vista.”
  3. Move the Dialogue. If you want to speed up the pace of your book’s dialogue, have each character say no more than 5 words at a time. Couple that with each character’s distinct way of speaking and you’ve struck gold! The words will fly off the page for readers and as a writer, you’ll pack a lot of
    Eric Jerome Dickey Photo Courtesy of ericjeromedickey.com
    Eric Jerome Dickey
    Photo Courtesy of ericjeromedickey.com

    information into a scene without a lot of wordiness.

  4. Don’t Slip on Setting. Eric’s novel A Wanted Woman is set primarily in Barbados. To capture the exact feel and layout of the island, he had a taxi cab driver cruise the streets while he video recorded as much as he could. Later, when he got back to his hotel, he would review the video footage and write down as much description as he could. Repeatedly reviewing the video helped make the setting authentic and real to readers, and went a long way towards the success of the book.
  5. Hook Up With A Writer Friend. Get your mind out of the gutter. They weren’t talking about that kind of hook up. Eric said that his book, Milk in My Coffee, came about from an improv exercise he did with a fellow writer. The exercise consists of having an entire conversation in the voice of your characters. No take backs and you have to just roll with it. Recording the conversation can be helpful, but the real premise is to step out of the way and let your character speak. You get a better feel for them, which will help when you’re actually writing the novel.
  6. Avoid Predictability. Plotting can be difficult. Trust me, I know because the struggle can get ridiculously real for me at times. To avoid predictability Eric suggests making a list of all possible scenarios and guesses, and…don’t use any of them. Then ask your friends and critique group for possible scenarios and guesses…and don’t use any of those either. Challenge yourself to come up with new twists, new answers, new scenarios. Keep’em guessing and keep’em coming back for more.

I hope these tips help improve your writing process as much as they have mine. Getting the opportunity to soak up knowledge from people who have long traveled the path you’re starting out on is invaluable! As always, I strongly encourage you to make time to attend writing/author events. They’re all kinds of nerdlicious fun and I always walk away feeling like going was well worth my effort.

Do you have any unusual tips for writers? What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to help get you out of a writing slump? What author events have you attended that you highly recommend for others? I’m planning my 2016 events calendar and I’d love to have some input!

Advertisement

All Up in My E-Reader: Back With a Vengeance!

Some of y’all know I had a little problem at the start of the year: I was (and to be honest still am) addicted to downloading books left and right. So I put myself on restriction and it’s been over seven months since I posted an update about what’s new in my Kindle. It hasn’t been easy, but time restraints kept me from feening too hard. Even with my self-imposed restrictions, my TBR list is stupid long. I just can’t resist a book with a good blurb and sale pricing. I feel about books the way most women feel about shoes: they give me all kinds of life. Brace yourself, I went a lil’ crazy. Peruse at your leisure and hopefully you’ll find something that sparks your interest!

Click on pics or title for preview via Amazon.


Replacement wifeTitle: The Replacement Wife

Author: Tiffany L. Warren

Genre(s): Literature & Fiction, African-American Fiction, Christian Fiction

Description: Atlanta’s most eligible widower isn’t looking to remarry–but for one woman, that’s a mere detail…

Five years after his beloved wife’s death, wealthy Quentin Chambers still hasn’t returned to the church or his music ministry. Even his home is now devoid of music, and without his attention, Quentin’s five children are out of control–until his mother steps in and hires him a live-in nanny. Montana is pretty, compassionate, church-going, and even has a beautiful singing voice. The children take to her right away, and soon Quentin finds his heart opening to faith–and love–once more. But not everyone loves Montana…

A “friend” of Quentin’s first wife, Chloe has been scheming to become the next Mrs. Chambers since the funeral. Now she’ll do whatever it takes to get rid of Montana–including blackmail, theft–and digging up a trouble making man from Montana’s past. But Chloe’s got secrets of her own, and the tables may turn with a twist she never sees coming…


Lyrical DarknessTitle: Lyrical Darkness: 11 dark fiction stories inspired by the music that rocks your soul

Authors: Multiple

Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Anthologies, Short Stories

Description: Discover the stories inspired by some of the greatest songs of all time. Dark fiction that will keep you turning the pages as you read stories influenced by songs like Satisfaction, Angie Baby, She Loves You, Maggie Mae, The Hotel California and more.

Dark stories inspired by dark lyrics that tell the tales hidden behind the popular melodies that are so familiar to us all.

Ten different authors bring you their literary visions provoked by their favorite song lyrics to create a chilling read you will not soon forget.


Once uponTitle: Once Upon a Sunday (Currently Free!)

Author: Renee Allen McCoy

Genres: Literature & Fiction, Short Stories, Inspirational

Description: The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance. –John 10:10, AMP

Good Friday started off as anything but that for Melinda Black. After losing her job and self-dignity, a series of events cascade her onto an emotionally charged roller coaster ride that drastically changed her life forever.

Will Melinda be able to handle the pressure when she stands to lose what’s most important in her life?

Once Upon a Sunday is an inspirational short story.


Guilty BloodTitle: Guilty of the Body and the Blood: A Short Story

Author: Melinda Michelle

Genres: Teen & Young Adult, Christian Fiction, African-American Fiction

Description: When a preacher’s kid becomes a preacher’s wife following traditions and religious practices she enters into a world she never bargained for. Going through the motions of being a wife and first lady, she loses sight of the truth. She’s had her fill of pretending and goes searching for more. But she soon finds out that unhappiness does not negate the Word of God over her life. One communion Sunday she eats the bread, drinks the cup and brings damnation to herself.


Shattered Dreams

Title: Shattered Dreams

Author: Tyora Moody

Genres: Christian Fiction, African-American Fiction

Description: In this heart-warming short story, meet wife and mother EUGEENA PATTERSON. Eugeena has always been the glue keeping her fragmented family together. When her teenage daughter is rushed to the hospital, Eugeena’s usual attempts to maintain peace in her family reach a breaking point. Will her troubled teenage daughter rip the family apart?

This short story is the prequel to the Eugeena Patterson Mystery Series. Readers can take a sneak peek of Chapter 1 from Deep Fried Trouble.


Didnt Mean

Title: Didn’t Mean to Love You (Serendipitous Love Book 2)

Author: Christina C. Jones

Genres: Romance, Women’s Fiction

Description: Vivienne is one of “those” people, the kind that believes in love at all costs. Broken hearts are a natural product of that, and Viv is used to dealing with it by simply ignoring the ache, and moving on to a new love. But this time, she can’t seem to shake the pain — until Carter comes along, handing out easy smiles and the kind of attention that makes her not feel so fractured after all.

Everybody knows Carter as this cool, confident, charismatic guy. He has a penchant for saying just the right things at just the right times, being just the kind of friend that’s needed in the midst of sorrow. But, as he and Viv embark on what was only ever intended to be a friendship, the idea of Carter as the “perfect” guy is challenged, and the real person could very well just be the next guy to break Viv’s heart.

Old hurts are unraveled, familial bonds are tested, and hearts are put on the line in this story of two people who didn’t mean to fall in love.

(please note that this book is a spin-off of A Crazy Little Thing Called Love, and does contain major spoilers for that title.)


Fall in LoveTitle: Fall in Love Again (Serendipitous Love Book 3)

Author: Christina C. Jones

Genres: Romance, Women’s Fiction

Description: Everybody knows you don’t marry the rebound guy.

And yet, that’s exactly what Charlie does. But once the husband is out of picture — kinda — she’s ready to leap forward with her life. She returns to the neighborhood she left, the business she missed, and into arm’s reach of Nixon — the reason she needed a rebound guy in the first place.

Other than rebuilding her life, Charlie has one main goal now that she’s back in the place she considers home: Stay as far away from Nixon as she can. But their long history, his magnetic charm, and a certain sense of unfinished business makes that much, much harder than Charlie thought.

Nixon is willing to own up to his part in their break up, but for Charlie, finding a place of forgiveness is going to take much more than that. She’s willing to take a chance on friendship — something they’ve had since they were kids — but falling in love again? That’s a whole different story.


New BeginingTitle: A New Beginning ( Blended Blessings Book One)

Authors: Michelle Stimpson, CaSandra McLaughlin

Genres: Christian Fiction, African-American Fiction

Description: Sometimes love doesn’t work out the first time. Or the second. Now in her third marriage, Angelia is hoping for her happily-ever-after with former pro-football player Darren Holley. But soon after they move into their sprawling mini-mansion, Darren’s new job as a high school football coach in a trophy-hungry Texas town consumes him, leaving Angelia feeling like a single mother to her two children as well as Darren’s twin diva-daughters. Not to mention the drama from Darren’s mother, who can’t get over the fact that her son has married a woman with so much baggage.

When Angelia confides in a few ladies from the local church, their nice, sweet, holy-wife advice may prove ineffective and too burdensome. Should Angelia cut her losses and get out before the ink settles on their marriage certificate, or will she finally learn the true meaning of marriage as she and Darren attempt to blend two very different backgrounds in the face of adversity and nosy church folk?


A New Beginning is the first book in the Blended Blessings series by newcomer CaSandra McLaughin and bestselling author Michelle Stimpson.

Stopping TrafficTitle: Stopping Traffic ( A Back to School Romance) (Love at the Crossroads Book 1)

Author: Pat Simmons

Genres: Inspirational, Christian Fiction

Description: Candace Clark has a phobia about crossing the street, and for good reason. As fate would have it, her daughter’s principal assigns her to crossing guard duties as part of the school’s Parent Participation program. With no choice in the matter, Candace begrudgingly accepts her stop sign and safety vest, then reports to her designated crosswalk. Once Candace is determined to overcome her fears, God opens the door for a blessing, and Royce Kavanaugh enters into her life, a firefighter built to rescue any damsel in distress. When a spark of attraction ignites, Candace and Royce soon discover there’s more than one way to stop traffic.


Stand your GroundTitle: Stand Your Ground (A Novel)

Author: Victoria Christopher Murray

Genres: African American Fiction, Christian Fiction

Description: From the #1 Essence bestselling and award-winning author Victoria Christopher Murray comes Stand Your Ground, a new novel about two women who are faced with the same tragedy.

A black teenage boy is dead. A white man shot him. Was he standing his ground or was it murder?

Janice Johnson is living every black mother’s nightmare. Her seventeen-year-old son was murdered and the shooter has not been arrested. Can the D.A. and the police be trusted to investigate and do the right thing? Should Janice take advantage of the public outcry and join her husband alongside the angry protestors who are out for revenge?

Meredith Spencer is married to the man accused of the killing and she sees her husband and the situation with far more clarity than anyone realizes. What she knows could blow the case wide open, but what will that mean for her life and that of her son? Will she have the courage to come forward in time so that justice can be done?

#1 national bestselling and award-winning author Victoria Christopher Murray’s Stand Your Ground is a pulse-pounding meditation on race, motherhood, marriage, and vigilante justice that will have readers spellbound until its shocking end.


Pay DayTitle: Pay Day

Authors: ReShonda Tate Billingsley, Richelle Denise

Genres:

Description: One little ticket is about to change their lives. . .
but is it for better or for worse?

When the office lotto pool lands the winning ticket for four friends, each will embark on journeys that change their lives forever.

After years of stringing her along, Terrance has reluctantly married his longtime girlfriend, Sheray. . . just days before winning the lottery. Now, that he’s a rich newlywed, the former playboy is dreaming of what life would’ve been like as a rich bachelor. When the money drives a wedge between them, Sheray leaves and Terrance learns the hard way to be careful what you wish for.
Angelique has been overweight since she was young. Despite her insecurities, her boyfriend, Marcus, gives her his love and affection without reservation. When she uses some of her winnings to get weight loss surgery, her new body and new attitude gets her some new attention, and could cost her the man she loves.

After twelve years of marriage, Janine’s husband announces that he’s leaving her for another woman. When she realizes he could possibly get a portion of her prize, she devises a scheme to keep it from him. But when her plan backfires, will she lose it all?

Raquelle’s life has just been turned upside down when she’s caught embezzling money, which she started doing to support her sick son. With a boss bent on making her pay, Raquelle is facing hard time and about to discover there are some things her lotto winnings can’t buy…or can it?
With a bitter former coworker lurking in the background, these friends are discovering their big payday will definitely change their lives…just not in the ways they expected.


Seek and HideTitle: Seek and Hide (Haven Seekers) 

Author: Amanda G. Stevens

Genres: Futuristic, Science Fiction & Fantasy

Description: Six years ago, the government took control of the church. Only re-translated Bibles are legal, and a specialized agency called the Constabulary enforces this and other regulations. Marcus Brenner, a new Christian, will do anything to protect his church family from imprisonment–including risk his own freedom to gain the trust of a government agent.

Aubrey Weston recanted her faith when the Constabulary threatened her baby. Now released, she just wants to provide for her son and avoid government notice. But she’s targeted again, and this time, her baby is taken into custody. If only she’d never denied Him, maybe God would hear her pleas for help.

When Aubrey and Marcus’s lives collide, they are forced to confront the lies they believe about themselves. And God is about to grab hold of Marcus’s life in a way he’d never expect, turning a loner into a leader.


FaithfulTitle: Faithful

Author: Kim Cash Tate

Genres: African-American Fiction, Christian Fiction, Contemporary

Description: Cydney Sanders thought she knew God’s plan for her life. She’d marry, have kids, and then snap her body back into shape by doing Tae Bo. But she’s celebrating her fortieth birthday as the maid of honor at her little sister’s wedding…and still single. Now her life is suddenly complicated by the best man. He’s the opposite of what she wants in a husband…and yet, he keeps defying her expectations. Starting with a lavendar rose–symbolizing enchantment–each rose he sends her reflects his growing love for her.

Cydney’s best friend Dana appears to have the perfect marriage–until she discovers her husband’s affair and her world goes into a tailspin. Then there is Phyllis–who is out of hope and out of prayers after asking God for six long years to help her husband find faith. When she runs into an old friend who is the Christian man she longs for, she’s faced with an overwhelming choice.

Life-long friends with life-altering struggles. Will they trust God’s faithfulness…and find strength to be faithful to Him?


What you wontTitle: What You Won’t Do For Love

Author: Keleigh Crigler Hadley

Genres: Christian Fiction, African-American Fiction

Description: Eden Price, an unlucky-in-love nurse finds herself in the midst of a heated love triangle. Globe-trotting missionary, Gabe Clark ignites her soul. Who doesn’t want a man with a connection to God? Hard-working, Nemo Gates speaks to her heart. His past has caused a rift between him and God and Eden wants to help him heal.

She ultimately chooses the man that makes her passions come alive but did she make the right choice? Eden’s marriage is blissful and the newlyweds are happy, when her husband stuns her with a desperate plea; to prove her love for him in the most unthinkable way – to help him die with dignity. What would you do for the love of your life?


SummertimeTitle: Summertime (A Novella)

Author: Adrienne Thompson

Genres: Romance, Time Travel

Description: J’Nay Walker is a talented singer, driven toward success by a promise she made to her late mother. One gloomy day, on the tail of some disappointing news, tragedy strikes, threatening not only to derail her plans, but to end her life. As a result, she soon finds herself on an unlikely journey, but is she ready for an unlikely love?


Whew! I told y’all I had a problem. Pray for a sista. 🙂 What’re you reading?

National Book Club Conference in Atlanta!

Y’all, I have been on one. I traveled to Atlanta, GA over the weekend to attend the 13th annual National Book Club Conference and my little nerd heart must have expanded at least a dozen times! It was so much fun connecting with other authors and new readers. Here’s a quick re-cap of the weekend.

20150806_195803
We arrived in Atlanta safe and sound. I had to take a pic next to this welcome sign, even though I had been on the road for hours. Leave it to a car full of women to turn a 5.5 hour road trip into 10 hours. What can I say? We like to stop. 🙂
20150808_173627
My author/vendor badge!
2015-08-11 13.32.40
Me at my beautiful author table. Can you tell I was nervous? I got several compliments on how welcoming my table was. I think the candy helped. A lot.
20150808_102401
But when I busted out the cookies, things went to a whole ‘nother level. Just FYI, if you’re ever trying to market a children’s book, put cookies on your table. The kids just kept coming back for more. I was like, “Bring your mama next time!” Just kidding, I love the kiddies.
2015-08-11 13.23.34
These ladies made my day! They were my first customers of the day and they bought a total of 5 books! Color me happy. They even brought me a piece of homemade strawberry pound cake that was all of that and then some.
FOT35B6
I was able to attend one of the workshops with Victoria Christopher Murray and Eric Jerome Dickey. They have over 50 books between them and it was very interesting to learn about their process. I’ll post (and Periscope) more about that later.
FOT600E
After the first day of the conference, me and my sisters headed downtown to the Sun Dial Restaurant & Bar. No pics of me, although I did Periscope. I was a sweaty hot mess! 72 floors up is HIGH! I think I may have had a minor panic attack. Smh…
FOT8AA4
But why weren’t either one of my sisters afraid tho? Just me with my crazy self.
20150808_102437
Day 2. I’m tired as all get out from my late night shenanigans, but still ready for the day ahead! Can you tell how red my eyes were?
20150808_114928
Me and fellow author Melinda Michelle trying to get our selfie together. We’ve been cyber friends for months, and it was great to finally meet in person. Can’t wait ’til I meet the rest of y’all too. 🙂
20150808_094511
My A 1 since day 1. Sista C.J. was a great assistant and totally redeemed herself for her past slip ups!

Well, that’s all folks! If you have a love affair with books and love connecting with like minded people, I highly suggest you attend the National Book Club Conference.

Update: I had a cameo appearance in the conference video. I look like I’m having the time of my life at approximately 1:45 ish. Check it out!

What did you get into over the weekend? 

Stand Your Ground #Race #Politics #Justice #NewRelease

In light of recent racial terrorism (because say what you will, that’s what the Charleston massacre was all about), it seems fitting that I should help spread the word about this captivating novel that seeks to help start the conversation about race, prejudice and laws (or lack thereof) that make up the current American culture. If you dare to face this controversy head on, keep reading.


(null)

Book Summary: 
From the #1 Essence bestselling and award-winning author Victoria Christopher Murray comes a new novel about three women forced to grapple with their faith and their belief in the justice system when they become involved in a high-stakes murder trial.
Janice Johnson is living every mother’s worst nightmare. Her sixteen-year-old son was murdered in the parking lot of a convenience store and the shooter hasn’t been arrested. Janice and her husband want justice for their son, but disagree about whether to trust the police investigation—or take matters into their own hands.
Shelly Vance cannot believe the nightmare that has become her life. Her husband is facing murder charges for shooting a sixteen-year-old who he says attacked him in a parking lot. This tragedy is only magnified by the racial divide it has created, and Shelly feels herself being judged by everyone from her employer to her friends. She’s vowed to stand by her husband no matter what, but how can she keep quiet when she’s keeping a secret that could blow the whole case wide open?
Alax Wilson would rather be anywhere else but on the jury of this highly charged case. Not only is she missing work—which she can’t really afford to do—but she’s been chosen as the jury’s foreman, which means she has to take her role seriously if there is any hope of reaching a verdict.
Faced with the tragic death of a teenager and a dramatic trial that has turned into media frenzy, Janice, Shelly, and Alax are forced to face their own prejudices and those of the world around them. But will the truth come to light?
Purchase Links

Author Bio:(null) (1)
Victoria Christopher Murray always knew she would become an author, even as she was taking an unlikely path to that destination. A native of Queens, Victoria first left New York to attend Hampton University where she majored in Communication Disorders. After graduating, Victoria attended New York University where she received her MBA.
Victoria spent ten years in Corporate America before she tested her entrepreneurial spirit. She opened a Financial Services Agency for Aegon, USA where she managed the number one division for nine consecutive years. However, Victoria never lost the dream to write and when the “bug” hit her again in 1997, she answered the call.
Victoria originally self-published her first novel, Temptation and in 2000, Time Warner published that novel. Temptation made numerous best sellers list and remained on the Essence bestsellers list for nine consecutive months. In 2001, Temptation was nominated for an NAACP Image Award in Outstanding Literature.
Victoria has received numerous awards including the Golden Pen Award for Best Inspirational Fiction and the Phyllis Wheatley Trailblazer Award for being a pioneer in African American Fiction. Since 2007, Victoria has won seven African American Literary Awards for best novel, best Christian fiction and Author of the Year – Female. Her 2014 NAACP Image Award nomination for Never Say Never was her third Image Award nomination.
Several of Victoria’s novels have been optioned to become movies, including The Deal, the Dance and the Devil and the Ex Files series.
With over one million books in print, Victoria is one of the country’s top African American contemporary authors.
Victoria, along with ReShonda Tate Billingsley, is the cofounder of Brown Girls Publishing.
Contacts: 

What I appreciate about Stand Your Ground is the fact that it looks at the situation from three entirely different points of view. I can attest to VCM’s ability to manage these perspectives because she’s done it before.  There are so many people on both sides of the divide that refuse to entertain the thought that there could be valid points on either side. My hope for this book is that is sparks genuine conversation. Your thoughts?
PRE-ORDER STAND YOUR GROUND HERE!