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Author | Blogger | Workshop Facilitator Visit my website at www.authordeelawrence.com to learn more about my romantic suspense novel, Gotta Let It Go, which is set in Baltimore. Connect with me online @authordeelawrence (Facebook). Thanks for visiting with me today!

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Book Clubs Are Where It’s At! (My Appearance at the Heritage Book Club Meeting)

A few months ago, Brenda Bunting (Washington, DC poet and author friend of mine) told me that her cousin, Emma Lou Black (founder of the Heritage Book Club in Lexington, Kentucky) planned on reading my book, Gotta Let It Go, for the club’s August meeting. Emma Lou asked whether I would be interested in doing a Facebook live meeting or coming to Kentucky.

Since I’d never been to Kentucky, I said “What the heck? Let’s do this road trip.” So, on Friday, August 17, 2018 Brenda and I embarked on the trip to Kentucky. It was a nice ride with the exception of areas of road work and a brief thunderstorm. Anyway, when we arrived later that night, I was too thrilled to meet Emma Lou. We stayed up until 2 am talking, drinking and laughing.
In the morning, the excitement was building for the book club meeting scheduled for 6 pm that evening. The kitchen was hopping with Emma Lou preparing a feast with an expansive and mouth-watering menu of beef brisket, fried chicken, mac-n-cheese, collard greens, rolls, homemade pound cake with caramel icing, etc. (I’m still salivating).

By 6 pm, the living room and kitchen areas were filled with book club members ready to start the discussion of Gotta Let It Go. I read a few passages and then did a Q & A session. These ladies had some really great questions and I had a great time answering them and delving into the lives of Deidre, Hill and Kyle. We even talked a little about the sequel, Gotta Get It Back and they can’t wait to dive into the drama that these characters will bring. At the end of the meeting, they all scored my book a solid 10! WOW! I was blown away and truly humbled by this.
The evening wasn’t over. After enjoying the delicious meal and drinks specially made by Emma Lou (yeah, she’s a bartender too), there was an added bonus of Brenda who shared her poem, The African Locked Inside the American – powerful!

Overall, the energy in this book club meeting was amazing and I was grateful for their love and support. A million thanks again to Emma Lou for her hospitality and for introducing me to her group of avid readers. Book clubs really do ROCK!
Here are some photos from the event. Enjoy!






 







Wednesday, August 29, 2018

A Review of The Green Mile, Part 1: The Two Dead Girls by Stephen King

Although I have seen a few adaptations of Steven King’s books on the big screen (e.g. Green Mile, Dead Zone, etc.) I had never read any of his books until now. What intrigued me about The Green Mile was that it was written in six installments (aka a serial novel – over a six-month period) with each part revealing yet another piece of the puzzle around John Coffey, an inmate on death row.
In Part 1, readers are taken back to 1932 where they get to meet Paul Edgecombe who dubbed himself “the E Block super—the head screw” at the Cold Mountain State Penitentiary. Readers also get to learn about the Green Mile, a long corridor with its lime green floor. If prisoners made a left turn at the corridor then they were lucky enough to be given a life sentence and if they made a right turn then they were headed for Old Sparky, the electric chair.
King’s prolific characterization of the inmates and the penitentiary guards is spot on as well as their dialogue. I thoroughly enjoyed the first-person narrative as told by Paul Edgecombe. He was funny, insightful and caring.
Also, as I compared the actors in the movie with the description of their characters in the book, the casting was perfect. Yes - Michael Clark Duncan as John Coffey was spot on. I may have to watch this movie again!
Great read! Two thumps way up!
My favorite lines:
When Harry stood back (Coffey had remained motionless during the entire unlocking ceremony, as placid as a Percheron), I looked up at my new charge, tapping on the clipboard with my thumb, and said: “Can you talk, big boy?”
“Yes, sir, boss, I can talk,” he said. His voice was a deep and quiet rumble. It made me think of a freshly turned tractor engine. He had no real Southern drawl—he said I, not Ah—but there was a kind of Southern construction to his speech that I noticed later. As if he was from the South, but not of it. He didn’t sound illiterate, but he didn’t sound educated. In his speech as in so many other things, he was a mystery. Mostly it was his eyes that troubled me—a kind of peaceful absence in them, as if her were floating far, far away.
            “Your name is John Coffey.”
“Yes, sir, boss, like the drink, not only spelled the same way.”

Rating: 5 stars 



Monday, August 27, 2018

Interview with L.J. Taylor, author of Just Dreams

Author’s Bio: The oldest of six children, L. J. Taylor grew up in New York City. As a child, she escaped her noisy siblings by voraciously reading every book in her parents' collection and every romance novel she could check out of the public library. Her tastes later expanded to include classics, spy novels, and thrillers. Inspired by the stories she read, she began writing poetry and song lyrics and even tried to write a fantasy novel at the tender age of 13. She began writing novels as an adult during National November Writing Month in 2007 and has been chugging along ever since. When she's not writing, L. J. practices law in Florida.


DL: What’s the inspiration for writing your book?

LJT: I’ve always loved romance novels and action movies, so I married the two genres in my novel. The heroines are very loosely based on me and my four sisters. So, Kathy Brooks is the oldest of four sisters and an attorney like me. But the rest of the story is entirely fictional and straight out of my overactive imagination.


DL: Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
LJT:
I used to read a ton of Harlequin romance novels in high school and as a young adult. Also, one of my favorite authors and writing influences is Nora Roberts.


DL: How long did it take to write your book?
LJT:
I wrote the first draft of Just Dreams over thirty days during National November Writing Month in 2007, but I didn’t revise it until 2014.  I tend to write the first drafts of my novels quickly - usually within 30 days. Then I take another couple of weeks or so to revise them. Lately, I’ve been using dictation to create my first drafts, so now I’m able to whip out a first draft in two weeks or less.
DL: Do you write with an outline, or just let it flow organically?
LJT:
I’m a big believer in outlines. It makes for a much smoother first draft and an easier revision - especially if you write fast.
DL: Do you listen to music when you write? If yes, is there a theme song for this book?
LJT: Sometimes, I listen to music while writing. If I do, it’s soft jazz or something else without words to distract me.
If Just Dreams had a theme song, it would be: “My Heart Never Had a Hero” by Toni Braxton.
DL: What are the keys to success in marketing your book(s)?
LJT: For me, email marketing and paid ads have been the most effective ways to market my books. But it’s hard to get much traction unless you have at least four books in a series. That gives you the flexibility to do things like discounting one book to attract readers, creating box sets, etc.
DL: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
LJT: Keep writing. Don’t give up. Hone your craft, and if you can’t or don’t want to get traditionally published, consider self-publishing. The ultimate judges of the quality of your work are your readers. They’re the only people whose opinions matter.
DL: How about sharing an excerpt from Just Dreams?
LJT: Here you go:


“You can do this. It’s just another client meeting.”  Kathy Brooks mumbled the words under her breath like a mantra.


Nerves had her loitering in the hallway instead of entering the conference room where her new client waited. She’d learned of the case only two hours before in a meeting with the managing partner of her law firm. He’d made her lead partner on the case saying it was time she came out from behind her senior partner’s coattails and made a name for herself.



Lead partner. Kathy swallowed hard. She and her mentor, Steve Perdue, had tried cases together for the past five years. They had their respective roles down to a science. She dealt with the details. He dealt with the people. Together they made a highly effective team winning multimillion dollar jury verdicts and bringing in substantial fees. The very thought of having to deal with the people part of the practice made Kathy feel queasy. But she had no choice.


She glanced down at her navy-blue pants suit and sensible pumps to make sure she looked the part. She transferred the legal pad, file folder and business card from her right hand to her left, took a deep breath, and opened the conference room door.


He was standing by the window, gazing out at the view of Biscayne Bay, his back to her. Tall and lean, he wore dress slacks and a shirt tucked into his belt. His long legs and taut rear-end filled out the slacks nicely. She caught herself staring and shook her head.


He turned to face her and, for a moment, time stopped. He had a caramel complexion, high cheekbones, and hazel eyes she could just drown in. She felt her smile slip for an instant before she recovered her composure.  
DL: What’s next for you?
LJT:
Caged Dreams - the third book in my Brooks Sisters Dreams series is coming out next month. The fourth book in the series, Closer to Her Dreams, will come out in October 2018. The second book in the series, Dreams Deferred (Ivy Brooks’ story), was released in June, 2015
DL: Where can readers find out more about you and your book(s)?
LJT: Here are L.J. Taylor’s links:

Here are Just Dreams Links:

DL: It’s been a pleasure having you here with us today. I know my readers will enjoy getting to know you and your work.
LJT: Thank you for having me.




Sunday, August 26, 2018

Lori Manns' Sponsorship Sales Secrets Workshop - Let's Talk About It!



On Saturday, August 4, 2018 I ventured to Arlington, VA to attend the Sponsorship Sales Secrets Workshop by Lori A. Manns (Quality Media Consultant Group). The workshop was well attended by entrepreneurs and solopreneurs (including my friends, Cherrie Woods, Founder - Eclectic PR, Wendy Coakley-Thompson, Publisher - Duho Books and Deborah Franklin - Conversations with Deborah Franklin)interested in learning how to get sponsors for their books, businesses, and brands. 

Lori packed a lot of knowledge in this 4-hour workshop and to tell you the truth this could have been an all day event. While I had some idea of what it meant to get sponsors, my knowledge didn’t come full circle until Lori defined what sponsorship was, the various types of sponsorships available, the challenges of seeking out the appropriate sponsors for your business, and having the right mindset when you make  sponsorship connections.   

Sponsorship is providing support of an event, activity, person or an organization through funds or provision of products or services. Lori discussed three kinds of sponsorships: 1) corporate sponsorship – promoting the company’s message, 2) marketing sponsorship – promoting a product or service and, 3) cause related sponsorship – promoting the community. She gave great examples so that the audience was clear about how sponsors worked in these three areas.


What I also found interesting were the obstacles that Lori pointed out in securing sponsors for our businesses. They are:

1.      FEAR – False Evidence Appearing Real (Lori’s definition).

2.      Rejection – We shouldn’t take it personally when it happens.

3.      Sleazy – We may think it’s sleazy to ask for sponsorship for our businesses but there’s nothing sleazy about asking for help.

4.      Feeling Uncomfortable – There’s nothing wrong in feeling uncomfortable when asking for sponsorship as long as we are authentic when asking.

5.      Don’t be Aggressive – You need to nudge not push when asking for sponsors.
In addition, Lori had two guest speakers to further drive the message home about sponsorship. The speakers were Penny Miles, Founder and President of Intervox Communications and Janice Mathis, Executive Director of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW). Both speakers shared their experiences about how they secured sponsors for their businesses and clients and gave us tips on how to score big with sponsors. Great stuff!

Overall, this was a fantastic afternoon that was well spent learning about the world of sponsorship. Lori did an awesome job!
At the end of the workshop some of us gave video testimonials and here’s mine:


To learn more about Lori and where she will be next, please visit:

https://www.sponsorshipsalessecrets.com/
www.facebook.com/QualityMediaConsultantGroup

Here are some photos from the workshop: 










Monday, August 13, 2018

Interview with Kevin Don Porter, author of MISSING

Author’s Bio: Kevin Don Porter is the author of The Calvin Crane Chronicles suspense series, and the Ross Roulette thriller novels. He has been a writer for CBS Local-DC and AXS.com. As a reporter he has interviewed New York Times best-selling authors, including Kimberla Lawson Roby, Laurie Halse Anderson, and Lee Strobel. Other celebrity interviews include Morgan Freeman, Lupita Nyong’o, Roma Downey, Hayden Christensen, Kate Bosworth, Joseph Fiennes, Duck Dynasty’s Missy Robertson, the cast of the film War Room, and other public figures. Visit his website at www.kevindonporter.com.

DL: What’s the inspiration for writing your book?
KDP: MISSING is about a boy named Calvin Crane who accidentally gets involved in the case of a girl who’s been abducted and believes he’s become the kidnapper’s next target. The search for the girl is paralleled by his search for self-acceptance.

I wrote MISSING because I wanted to share my main character, Calvin Crane—in all of his irreverence, dark humor, imperfections and inner turmoil—with the world. At the same time, I wanted to make his story known—his struggle to accept his brown skin and to learn to live fearlessly. What’s unique about the story is that protagonists like Calvin are not common in today’s mainstream upper middle-grade and young adult literature. There’s a myth that black boys don’t read, and as a result there aren’t many black boys featured as viewpoint characters. While I didn’t write the novel for the sole purpose of dispelling that myth, I’m hoping that I contribute to its demise. Although a black boy is the lead character in MISSING, it’s a story that I believe will greatly resonate with girls, and even adults—regardless of race.

DL: Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
KDP: Yes. The Queen of Suspense, Mary Higgins Clark. She’s a master of raising nagging questions that the reader MUST have answered, and so they keep turning the pages. She builds suspense like an architect, and she is so good at keeping you guessing. You can identify the characters who you love, but there will be plenty of iffy ones and shady ones in the mix. Her cast of characters and their complicated lives are so well written and weaved so seamlessly that you never doubt their authenticity for a second. I especially love her high-powered New Yorkers.

DL: How long did it take to write your book?
KDP: It took about one year to write MISSING, from conception to a complete and polished manuscript.
     
DL: Do you write with an outline, or just let it flow organically?
KDP: I don’t use outlines in the typical sense. Maybe for a particular chapter here or there, but not throughout the book. I start out with a story idea that excites me and I decide whether or not I can develop it into a strong narrative that thrills readers.

From there I start writing. During each writing session, I have a general sense of where I want to go with the story, and I let it flow naturally. I write like I’m a reader—enjoying twists and turns in the story that I may not have anticipated when I started out. That’s what makes it exciting for me.

DL: Do you listen to music when you write? If yes, is there a theme song for this book?
KDP: Here’s the thing. When I’m writing a first draft, I can listen to music, or have the TV on, or tolerate loud conversations. BUT, when I have to go back and edit, I need dead silence. So, if I’m in an environment where I can’t escape noise, I’ll plug in my earphones and listen to loud “white noise” on YouTube. I know it sounds contradictory, but for me the consistency of that noise drowns out the other noises and it becomes its own silence. You should try it.

Nevertheless, if I could pick a theme song for MISSING—since it’s a humorous mystery that takes place during a family summer road trip—it would be “Holiday Road” by Lyndsay Buckingham, from the Chevy Chase movie, Vacation.

DL: What are the keys to success in marketing your book(s)?
KDP: That’s the million-dollar question. First, before your book goes to print, find influential authors and folks with publishing industry clout who like your book and are willing to give you a great quote to include on the cover, or inside the book.

I was thrilled when Lambda Literary Award-winning author Larry Duplechan, whose novel BLACKBIRD was adapted into a 2014 feature film starring Oscar-winning actress Mo'Nique, likened MISSING to a "present-day Hardy Boys" novel and said, "Calvin Crane is a Black urban Henry Huggins." He happened to read my book after it was published, but I was on cloud nine nonetheless.
Also, never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth. There’s nothing more convincing than seeing the excitement in someone’s eyes, or hearing the change in their voice when they talk about a book they love.

Writers should try to participate in book fairs, book festivals, and community events where they can interact with people who want to buy books—don’t go to bake sales and flea markets and try to sale books. I’ve tried it. Another very important thing to remember is to keep adapting to new methods and technologies to reach readers. You can’t be unwilling to change with the times.

DL: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
KDP: Here are my thoughts:
a) Write what you know. If you’re a nurse, write a story set within a hospital or a medical environment. If you’re a bank teller, write about a bank heist. If you’re a homemaker, write about an unusual event in your neighborhood, or with your family. If you do choose to write outside of your scope, do tons of research. Do research either way.

b) Start writing. Lots of people feel that they have a novel lurking somewhere within their psyche, and they probably do, but they never put pen to paper. Some wait for ideal conditions: “When the kids are older I’ll have more time.” Or, “Once I quit my job I’ll be able to focus.” There will always be a reason to put it off, but when you really want something, you’ll find a way. Also, once your start—finish. Most people who start writing never see it through to completion.

When Mary Higgins Clark was a widow with five small kids at age 37, she would get up at 5 a.m. to write before she got them off to school, and then she commuted to her full-time job. That was her routine as she wrote her first four published books. And it wasn’t until she was 43 that she had a novel that sold well, her book WHERE ARE THE CHILDREN? Not only did she make the time to write, she persevered, which is so important.

DL: How about sharing an excerpt from MISSING?
KDP: Sure, this excerpt is from Chapter 3,  pages 75 - 76:

     Inside the gift shop were all types of souvenirs and books about Mr. Rushmore. I picked up one and flipped the pages when it caught my eye. Something told me to look down.

     That small voice people usually ignore.

     I couldn’t ignore my voices.

     I glanced at the feet of the person across from me, their scuffed-up Reeboks. What was it about those shoes?

     I had seen them somewhere before. I remembered them specifically because of the paint. What looked like black spots of paint dripped across the tops.

     I had flipped halfway through the book when my hand went to my mouth.

    A wave of heat covered me. My armpits moistened. My heart pounded.

    That guy at Yellowstone. He had shoes like those.

    Exactly. Like. Those.

    I wanted to look again, but my neck wouldn’t budge.

    Don’t look; just run. But I was frozen. My feet were boulders. My body was stiffer than those presidents on the mountain.

     Look.

     I couldn’t. My eyes were heavier than paperweights. They lifted slowly in his direction.

     Slowly…slowly.

     No one was there.

DL: What’s next for you?
KDP: I’ve completed the manuscript for a novel about police brutality called ILLEGAL JUSTICE. It’s currently in the production stages. There will be a sequel to MISSING, the manuscript is currently in progress. In the meantime, readers can check out my ROSS ROULETTE adult thriller series on my Amazon author page.

DL: Where can readers find out more about you and your book(s)?

• Website: www.kevindonporter.com
• Amazon Author Page: https://tinyurl.com/y86pevnk or
https://www.amazon.com/Kevin-Don-Porter/e/B00CATBS9G/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
• Book Buy Links:
Barnes & Noble: https://tinyurl.com/yanvnnky
Books-A-Million: https://tinyurl.com/ya56cvul
• Facebook: https://tinyurl.com/ycsp45va or @kevindonporter, or
https://www.facebook.com/kevin.porter.37051
• Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kevindonporter /  @kevindonporter
• Twitter: https://twitter.com/KevinDonPorter @kevindonporter
• Blog: https://www.kevindonporter.com/blog-1

It’s been a pleasure having you here with us today. I know my readers will enjoy getting to know you and your work.