February 28, 2009

Street / Urban Fic: Donald Peebles, Jr., author of Hidden Fires

The Author

Donald Peebles Jr. is a lifelong resident of Jamaica, New York. He is an alumni of the Center of Writing Program at John Bowne High School in Flushing, New York. He is a writer who had poems and short stories published in WRITES OF PASSAGE USA, SBC, SHOUTOUT!, and URBAN DIALOGUE. His short story "Social Studies" is one of the inclusions in the gay anthology FLESH TO FLESH, edited by Lee Hayes and published by Strebor Books. He is an author with a three-book deal with Deja Vu Publications. His first novel, HIDDEN FIRES, will be published in March 2009. He is currently working on his second novel, THE SLAVE GIRL.

He can be reached both at MySpace and Facebook.

The Book

Delivery package handler Ellis Bethea does not foresee what the ramifications of his one-night stand with a female co-worker will hold for three women.

Author, library clerk, and former prostitute Sondra Rockmond thinks that her May-December romance with Ellis is solid as a rock but is totally oblivious to his sexual fluency with other women.

Janine Morrow is Sondra's best friend and a radio gossip personality who loves to dish the dirt about Black and Latino celebrities in the ghetto entertainment world but would freak out if her fans and listeners knew about her loveless marriage to impotent football hero and entrepreneur Malik, her sexually satisfying nights with handsome father-in-law Grant, her one-time tryst with Ellis, and her questionable past.

Charlotte Rockmond is Sondra's estranged daughter who shakes her booty at a ghetto strip club as Charlie Girl. Seeking a rare opportunity to be loved and accepted by her mother, Charlotte plans to entrap Ellis but finds herself getting trapped in his sexual web.

Hidden Fires is coming in MARCH, so click the cover to order today!

On Street//Urban Fic

What does urban/street fiction mean to you? Is there a distinction between urban and street?
I see urban/street fiction as a literary genre which focuses on the grim and stark realities of the streets in predominantly inner-city African-American and Latino neighborhoods with hip-hop flavor, raw street energy, scandalous sketches, and violent occurrences. The characters are those who are alienated from mainstream society and marginalized by the former political climate of the Bush-Cheney administration. I do think there is a distinction between urban and street. I feel the media makes it clear when the term urban is associated with the metropolitan city life and the high-brow cultural tastes which accompanies it. The term street is associated with the side of the city where people are taught to frown upon due to the poverty, racial disparities, high unemployment, and other social issues affecting people of color, the working class, and the poor.

Of all the genres present, what drew you to write street/urban fiction?
I worked as a Field Supervisor for the New York City Department of Employment in 2002 when I was first introduced to urban/street fiction. Many of my female co-workers were reading books like TRUE TO THE GAME by Teri Woods, B-MORE CAREFUL by Shannon Holmes, THE SEX CHRONICLES: SHATTERING THE MYTH by Zane, and BLACKFUNK and BLACKFUNK 2 by Michael Presley. They were hooked to those page-turners. I was working on a novel at the same but it ended up one big mess. I thought it was urban fiction and it did get some good reviews from several co-workers with the exception of a certain Charmaine Jones, who felt I needed writing courses and I was really a White guy slumming in the hood. Anyway! I noticed how urban/street lit took off since then. When I began writing HOOKER HERITAGE, the original title of HIDDEN FIRES, at the end of 2005, I knew it was going to be a scandalous urban fiction novel. I am a product of Southside Queens so I am going to represent my community. I definitely know I have the love and support of HIDDEN FIRES from many people who attended the annual Old-Timers benefit barbecue organized by Todd and Lance Feurtado at the Van Wyck Boulevard Park last August.

In the branch of Black literature, what do you think urban/street fiction brings to the table?
I think urban/street fiction brings to the table into the branch of Black literature a more realistic lens into the Black experience. Blacks are people who have different experiences, cultural expressions, and histories. Urban/street fiction is just another sum of the whole of Black literature. It brings forth the perspectives of the working-class, pimps, madams, prostitutes, addicts, pushers, dealers. hustlers, kingpins, czars, gangstas, homothugs, lesbian AGs (Aggressors), swingers, sexual freaks, nymphomanics, stick-up kids, and other klnds of people whose testimonies are not told by the upper-and-middle-class Black Bourgeoisie, the BAPS, the Buppies, and the Black Bohemians who feel that Blacks still need to write books which will be accepted by the mainstream in order to be on the New York Times bestseller list.

February 27, 2009

Do Some Writers Deserve to Starve?

I use Elaura Niles' book, SOME WRITERS DESERVE TO STARVE, to help answer this question in a three-part series on the popular blog, THE BLOOD-RED PENCIL [link].

Head to The BRP to see part one and two on this question. Check out why it's important for writers to know their book better than ANYONE (part one) and why it's important to write THE NEXT BOOK (part two)!

Part Three is TOMORROW!

The Blood-Red Pencil [link]

February 26, 2009

Street / Urban Fic: Markeise Q. Washington, author of Entrepreneur

The Author

Born November 21, 1984, in South Philadelphia, PA, Markeise Q. Washington was always more mature than his age suggested. He is absolutely making his mark with his debut novel Entrepreneur, and the young C.E.O is working diligently to get 5ive Star Publications up and running.

Having been somewhat of a Nomad during his childhood, he is determined to excel at whatever he puts his mind to. Becoming his own boss was one of his goals and aspirations. Being surrounded by supportive parents and siblings only make his journey all the better.

Check out Markeise @ 5ive Star Publications and MySpace.

The Book

Swift is a college graduate determined to establish himself in corporate America. Everyone from his school teachers to his mother has been skeptical of his goals. When he receives his degree, he thinks he’s prepared for the real world. He soon finds it difficult to match jobs with his degree.

After his frustrations reach a boiling point, he turns to the streets for guidance. Swift’s best friend Block is the most feared and respected hustler in Philly. When Swift's dilemma brings their combined efforts together, they both see opportunity.

Swift is convinced that he can make enough start up money for his business ideas. His plan is to build capital and leave the drug game alone. However, that is derailed when Block is incarcerated. The taste of money and power takes Swift for the ride of his life. Soon the underworld looks to him to pick up where Block left off. With cops, rival drug dealers, and stick up kids lurking, Swift is forced to show how much of an Entrepreneur he really is.

Click the cover to order Entrepreneur today!

On Street//Urban Fic

What does urban/street fiction mean to you? Is there a distinction between urban and street?
There has been so much debate over these two little words that it's utterly ridiculous. I hate that we get put in a category, period. I was in Borders the other day looking for the African-American section. The reason I couldn't find it was the black slots that say African American were taken down. I guess they classify street as dealing with drugs, prostitution, hustling, slang, etc. Any neighborhood can be considered urban. Here's the definition- "characteristic of or accustomed to cities; citified." So that means anybody that has lived in a city for a period of time is-you guessed it-urban. To me there is no distinction because literature is literature. Another thing that bothers me is that question that black authors get asked: "Do you plan to write that genre forever?" It has yet to be answered honestly. I haven't heard an author say well no I plan to write street lit until my arm falls off. Authors should write what makes them happy and hope they build a fan base that sticks with them. I don't want to read a romance novel by Teri Woods. I love the style she already has.

Of all the genres present, what drew you to write and publish urban/street fiction?
We publish all types of fiction, but I enjoy reading urban/street fiction - if you will. I know there is a market for it, and if it's good, it should be presented to the public. Simple as that.

What has been - if any - some of the positive and negative comments you have received from readers (as a writer and as a publisher)?
Wow. That's a great question. I take all negativity and view it as constructive criticism. My original cover art started an argument between a older woman and a guy around my age. This was at one of my book signings in Philly. The positive has been there as well. A lot of older women support me and what I do. I love book signings because you get to interact with the people. Those experiences are very positive. I am in the process of re-releasing my debut novel, Entrepreneur. It will be out March 2009. When I was in the process of making it a stronger read, I took certain things out and added things as well. That all came from constructive criticism. Another thing I will agree with is editing. Granted nobody is perfect. But I was reading a book the other day and there were no quotations where the character was talking. As a reader I was disappointed because there is no excuse for that. Instead of the synopsis on the back, it was an author bio. I'm like what the hell? That's why self-published "urban fiction" doesn't get the proper due because of things like that.

In the branch of Black literature, what do you think urban/street fiction brings to the table?
I think it gives people an avenue to represent themselves. It brings another element of fiction. I think it should be looked at as just fiction, period. There is a market for it. As long as there is somebody who enjoys it, it should be produced.

The Excerpt

From Entrepreneur



Nearly a month had passed since graduation, and my mother was already sweatin’ me. Normally, she was a sweet-looking woman, with her 5-feet-6, 175 pound frame and fudge complexion. She had jet black shoulder length hair with bright eyes and long eyelashes. However, at this particular time, she looked like the devil, horns and all. Of course she was on my case about employment. I was submitting applications left and right.

“Swift, get in this kitchen and wash these damn dishes,” my mom shouted loud enough for the entire city of Philly to hear.

“Get him to do it,” I mumbled under my breath. I gave Malik the ice grill as I passed the couch en route to the kitchen. I got in the kitchen and was able to count how many dishes were in the sink. There were two bowls, a plate, and three pieces of silverware. I think she yelled at Malik through me.

Everyday when I came home from community college, Malik was on the couch, hand in his boxers, watching MTV. It amazed me how lazy my brother was. My parents practically spoon fed him and that only made things worse. I could only shake my head in disappointment.

Later that night, I went to my room to finish a term paper. I was the greatest procrastinator on planet earth. I had to type 10 more pages, and I had to be in class at 10 a.m. sharp. I started to type the fastest you can with one finger. After awhile I incorporated a finger on my left hand.

I looked down at the bottom right corner of my laptop and the time read 11:57pm. The next thing I remember was waking up to a string of mismatched letters as a result of falling asleep on the keyboard. I spent 15 minutes deleting the letters. I wasn’t even done typing my paper, and I wasn’t surprised.

I ripped a sweat suit off the hanger, laid it on my bed, and hopped in the shower. I took the quickest shower time would permit and jumped into my clothes and boots. I sprayed on some cologne and tied my do-rag. I put my laptop in my bag and ran up the basement steps clear across the living room out the door.

I didn’t stop running until I was at the corner of 46th and Baltimore Ave. I could see the 34 trolley coming, and I was glad because I could barely breathe. I caught my breath soon as the trolley pulled up. I found a seat in the back by the window. I took out my laptop and took a deep breath before I attempted for a second time to finish this paper. I needed to pass this class to get my degree, and I was determined not to blow it.

February 19, 2009

Street / Urban Fic: Terra Little, author of Where There's Smoke

The Author

Terra Little currently resides in Missouri with her teenage daughter, Sierra, and hundreds of books. She is a graduate of the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Lindenwood University, and, in the fall of 2009, the University of Phoenix. Her first title, Running from Mercy, was published in January 2008, by Q-Boro Books, and her second title, Where There’s Smoke, was published in January 2009, by Urban Books. She works in community corrections, and she is addicted to reading, writing, blogging, and Coca-Cola (not necessarily in that order).

To learn more about Terra, check out her website, blog, and MySpace page.

The Book

Alec Avery gets an unwelcome blast from his drug-dealing, street-running past that turns his life upside down. Back in the day, he was known as “Smoke” and Anne Phillips was one of his customers. So how did they end up with a teenage son together? You do the math. Dollars make sense, but Anne didn’t always have the money to pay for what she wanted. Now Alec is paying the price.

These days he’s a military vet and a well-respected high school teacher. Just about the last thing he expects to encounter is a son that he never knew he had and a bunch of foolishness that he thought he was done with. His son is out of control, experimenting with drugs, and running with a rough crowd and the last thing he expects to encounter is a long-lost father who is
hell-bent on making his presence felt in a very meaningful way.

Before long, Smoke has no choice but to come out of hibernation to right some wrongs, starting with the thugs who don’t want to turn his son loose. They didn’t count on old school meeting new school, which is their first mistake.

Click the cover above to order Where There's Smoke today!

On Street//Urban Fic

What does urban/street fiction mean to you? Is there a distinction between urban and street?
The dictionary defines urban as “of or relating to a city” and street as “the people living, working, or gathering along a street.” In the context of these definitions, which make total sense to me, there is a definite distinction between the terms urban and street. What seems to have happened is that the term urban has been primarily assigned to what’s commonly referred to as ghetto or street life. But this isn’t always the case. Take, for example, the areas located within a city where upper and middle class people live. By no stretch of the imagination are these areas considered ghettos, and portraying these people in stories that highlight their everyday existence is not indicative of street life. These are upwardly mobile people who reside in urbanized communities, as opposed to rural communities or the “country.”

Still, urban and street life can and does clash at some point, since parts of most cities across the country have areas that are labeled as ghetto or hood, and these are usually the areas where street life dominates. I’ll leave you to your own devices for deciding what sorts of work, life, and gathering is going on in and along the streets in the ghetto or hood, particularly on street corners and in back alleys. I will, however, go so far as to predict that the various deviations between what you come up with and what a city truly is – “a town of significant size and importance” or “an incorporated US municipality with definite boundaries and legal powers set forth in a state charter” – are readily identifiable. I recognize them. Do you?

In literary terms, Urban Fiction should portray people who live, work, and/or thrive in everyday life in cities everywhere, leaving Street Fiction to focus on life on the streets, where there is mostly a survive by any means necessary mentality. I think that lumping the two terms together is yet another way to classify an entire group of people according to the lowest possible estimation frequently attributed to a fraction of the group’s population and justify that classification. Not all street people are there by choice, but some choose criminality and deviant behavior as a way of life, and this fraction of any given population can almost always be found on the streets conducting business as they know it.

Of all the genres present, what drew you to write urban/street fiction?
I don’t write Street Fiction as a general rule. For me, the setting and the characters dictate how a story will be written (1st, 3rd person, etc.) and the message I’m trying to convey dictates the genre that I will dabble in, in order to breathe life into the characters.

My second book, Where There’s Smoke, has an element of Street Fiction in it, because part of the main characters’ pasts are rooted in elements of street life. Now, in their present lives, they are law abiding, working class people, who happen to reside in urbanized communities, and neither of them works, lives, or gathers on the street. At one point in time they did, though. In the here and now they have a teenage son who thinks street life is what he wants, but it doesn’t take long for him to realize that its not. Lucky for him, his parents, who both dabbled in the streets when they were young, are better prepared to deal with him because of their previous exposure.

I had to write the story with a slightly street twist at various points, because of the characters’ histories. That way readers could see how the characters have grown as people, how far they’ve come, and how far they’re willing to go to save their son. Where There’s Smoke is Contemporary Fiction, first and foremost, and the concept of taking negatives and turning them into positives is an ongoing theme throughout the book. Readers need to see where the characters have been in order to fully appreciate where they are now, and the law of nature dictates that we can’t all have pretty pasts. Street life isn’t pretty.

What has been - if any - some of the positive and negative comments you have received from readers?
For the most part, readers have positively embraced my books and relayed to me how much they’ve enjoyed them. Where my first book, Running from Mercy, is concerned readers told me that they loved the town, the people, and the story itself. I found that Running from Mercy dug up some unresolved issues with childhood, parenting, and sibling relationships for some readers, making it hard for them to read, but still enjoyable, and I take that as a positive, as well. If that’s the case, then I’ve done what I set out to do, which was move readers in some way.

By contrast, some readers found that Running from Mercy wasn’t exactly the kind of story they were expecting, based on who the publisher was (Q-Boro Books). I received emails from people who admitted to almost having passed on picking up a copy, because of the preconceived and largely incorrect notions they had formed about the publisher. But they were glad they did pick up a copy and were very happy with their visits to Mercy, Georgia. I also received emails from people who thought there should’ve been shoot ‘em up, bang-bang from cover to cover, because of who the publisher was, and they were a little disappointed that there wasn’t. I’ll tell you a little secret…there wasn’t supposed to be. Running from Mercy is Contemporary Fiction

Any negative feedback I’ve received, though not very much, has primarily had to do with misconceptions centered on the words urban and street. That’s why I jumped at the chance to participate in this discussion. I’d like to hear from readers on what these terms mean to them. What should readers expect when they’re reading in one genre or the other? From personal experience, I know that Urban Fiction publishers will and do publish titles that are classified as Contemporary, Christian, and Non-fiction titles, but the stigma of being perceived as exclusively Street Fiction publishers is holding fast, slowing progress and preventing readers from discovering new talent.

You didn’t ask, but I’m going to say it anyway. I would like to see readers of every genre become a little more open-minded and willing to come outside of their houses once in a while. Case in point: A book club for women age 30 and over recently reviewed Where There’s Smoke. The reviewer emailed me and admitted to being reluctant to read my book, because of the cover graphic. But she was glad she did. She wrote that she was waiting for someone and decided to crack open the book while she waited. It turns out that she loved the book so much that she read it in half a day’s time. She told me that she couldn’t put it down for wanting to find out what was going to happen and that she was now rethinking her habit of judging books by their covers. Another reader wrote that she, too, was reluctant to pick up Where There’s Smoke, but after reading it, she wanted to know if there was going to be a sequel.

Is that positive feedback or what?

In the branch of Black literature, what do you think urban/street fiction brings to the table?
As a combined genre, which I don’t happen to think is always the case, Urban/Street Fiction brings confusion and, in some cases, anger to the table. There are truly urban, working class people who take offense at being perceived as having anything to do with street life by society’s standards, myself included. And there are those who are confused about what it means to be urban and what it means to be street; those who think one is unequivocally the same as the other. Along this vein, I think Urban/Street Fiction can bring stereotypical fuel to the table. We can all eat at the same table, but let’s not confuse corn with mashed potatoes, even if mashed potatoes is capable of covering up corn when we want them to.

On the other hand, when Urban Fiction is separated from Street Fiction, two different, but still related items come to the table. They come via two different routes, but those routes do intersect every now and again, as we see in Where There’s Smoke. Urban Fiction brings the trials, tribulations, joys, and dreams of everyday people who hail from urban settings. Street Fiction depicts life in the streets - the realities of living in the ghetto or hood.

The Excerpt

From Where There's Smoke

Just last night I’d told Isaiah that he was grounded for two weeks. Straight home from school every day and no television or phone privileges. So why did I come home from work and he was nowhere to be found? He had my cell phone and I called it, and immediately got the voicemail, which meant that either the phone was turned off, or he had rejected my call because he knew his behind was supposed to be in the house. I looked at the kitchen trash, then at the sink. The trash hadn’t been taken out, and the dishes hadn’t been washed. Again. A quick trip upstairs confirmed that his room looked like a tornado had whipped through it, and he’d left a pair of his funky drawers in the middle of the floor.

I sat at the kitchen table nursing a glass of lemonade and wondering what the hell I was going to do about my son. He was spinning out of control and I was getting more and more tired of dealing with his crap. The scene from last night had nearly moved me to violence as it was. He clearly had no earthly idea who he was messing with, and I had almost shown him before I caught myself.

He came stumbling into my house in the middle of the night, smelling like a brewery and looking even worse. Pupils dilated to the point that the whites of his eyes were barely visible and marijuana smoke thick in his clothes. I wanted to slap him and hurt him the way he was hurting me, but I hadn’t done that. I had simply informed him that he was grounded, laid out the rules for his grounding, and took myself to bed. What else could I do?

I thought he’d gotten the message last night that I meant business, but after two hours passed tonight, and he still wasn’t home, I conceded the fact that he simply didn’t give a shit. I tried the cell again. Still no answer. Then I got up and took a package of chicken breasts out of the freezer. I put them in the microwave to thaw, and snatched the phone up when it rang.

“Isaiah?” I barked. Whoever was on the other end said nothing for several seconds, which further convinced me that it was my son. I started in. “You’re supposed to be home doing your chores, boy. Where the hell are you?” I took a breath as alternate possibilities floated through my mind. “Are you all right?”

“This isn’t Isaiah,” the caller said. It was a man, but damned if I could catch his voice. Not many men called me, and if this was one of the select few, I would’ve recognized the voice instantly. I didn’t recognize this one.

“Then who is this? Has something happened to my son?”

“Your son is fine, unless you factor in the forty ounce I just saw him pulling from. This is Smoke, Breanne.”

“Smoke?” My voice went high and strange sounding. Smoke?

“Smoke,” he said definitively. “I got your little greeting card and I thought we should talk.”

“Oh . . . well, now isn’t a good time,” I stalled. “I’m waiting for my son to come home, and then I have to kill him. He was supposed to come straight home after school but—”

“But he hung out at school, shooting hoops and guzzling beer straight from the bottle. No class, your boy. I’m coming over.”

“Smoke, listen . . .”

“I’ll be happy to once you open the door and let me in.”


“I’m pulling into your driveway now. Daddy’s home. Open the door, Breanne.”

He hung up on me and I raced to the living room and pushed the drapes back to look outside. I recognized the car instantly, the one from the other day, the one I had admired without realizing that it belonged to him. The man had been sitting in front of my house, staking me out like I was a common criminal.

I was insulted and it showed on my face as I marched to the door and swung it open. We stood on opposite sides of the storm door staring at each other before I finally turned the brass knob and let him into my home. This was my sanctuary, and Smoke Avery was about to violate it.

“I can’t believe you’ve been sitting outside my house stalking me.” I backed away from the door one step at a time. Smoke stepped into my house and sucked up all the free space around him. I looked in his face for the first time in almost seventeen years.

“I can’t believe you had me served with child support papers.” The look in his eyes told me that he wasn’t quite as calm as his voice suggested, and I took another step backward. “I haven’t seen you in I don’t know how long, and suddenly you want me to be your baby’s daddy?”

“It’s not what you think. I didn’t want any of this, Smoke.”

“And stop calling me Smoke,” he snapped irritably. The next thing I knew he was brushing past me and walking through the living room toward the kitchen. Walking through my house like he had every right to do so. I closed the door and hurried to catch up with him.

“You identified yourself as Smoke when you called,” I reminded him as I came into the kitchen behind him. I busied myself with taking the chicken from the microwave and setting it in the sink.

“Momentary lapse of memory. Smoke is dead, Breanne.”

“So is Breanne. I never liked that country ass name anyway. I go by Anne now, so please call me that from now on.”

“Fine, Anne.” He rolled the name around on his tongue, took a seat at the kitchen table and watched me intently. “How did this happen, Anne?”

February 15, 2009

Writer Brian Spaeth Talks Writing, Movies, and Airplanes

The Writer

Brian Spaeth was raised in Hudson, Ohio, and attended The Ohio State University, where he went to class twice in two years. Anything else he would write here would be a lie or a joke, because he is very exciting and enigmatic in that way. His hobbies have all been abandoned, but he likes watching professional basketball and working out. Brian lives in Los Angeles, which is on the Western coast of the United States, right next to either Nevada or Arizona. He always gets those two mixed up.

Check out Brian at his blog, at his Twitter and Facebook pages, and at the official book site.

The Book

In the year 2012, These United States of America is politically divided to a degree not seen since the Civil War. On one side stands the fast emerging pro-flying car contingent; on the other, the stubborn and traditional pro-airplane members of the populace. At stake? The entire future of airborne leisure and transportation.

Set against this tumultuous backdrop, a young screenwriter has written a book about the only thing that can save the airplane riding industry - an impossible to conceive, 47-story airplane of such power and wonder, the world will have no choice but to submit to its glory.

The world’s first comedy/political thriller/mystery/drama/romance/action/adventure/science fiction/showbiz insider/horror/family/energy drink industry insider/holiday/autobiography, Prelude to a Super Airplane weaves the lives and destinies of 40 people together in astounding and unexpected ways, as they all find themselves facing the future of airplane riding…the Super Airplane.

Click the cover above to order Prelude to a Super Airplane today!

The Interview

I can't even start this interview the way I would do most because your book truly is out of the ordinary - but in a good way, LOL The back cover of your book - PRELUDE TO A SUPER AIRPLANE - offers the story of how this book came to be, but I'm not sure it's completely true...or is it? Tell us how this novel idea came to you.
The entire thing is fictional, but there are HEAVY layers of truth throughout. My parents really did own a chain of high-end retail furniture stores, for example. Certain elements of my brother are accurate, although he doesn’t work for the government. The second-to-last “deleted scene” is so true I almost didn’t include it. My “character” – that’s pretty much me. Everything with Jennifer is based on a real experience, minus the curse.

As to how this came to me, two days before Thanksgiving 2008, I woke up in the middle of the night, and Prelude to a Super Airplane was more or less fully formed in my head. Obviously it evolved, but the big picture just kinda appeared out of nowhere.

Did you really write the book in seven days? And if so, how was THAT experience for you?
First of all, allow me to apologize to any and all who have struggled for years with their respective novels.

If you want me to tell the absolute truth…it’s a lie. I actually wrote it in five days. I changed it to seven because I didn’t think anyone would believe me.

It was an amazing experience, and it was really just a 5-day cycle of write/gym/sleep, in a ratio of about 18/1/5 hours. I was home with my family around Thanksgiving when Prelude unleashed itself in my brain. My parents were really worried about me – they’d never really seen me in this state - but I knew I couldn’t break the cycle until I was done.

By the way, this has happened to me two other times in my writing life. Those two screenplays and this book are by far the best things I’ve ever written, so I know when it hits, to get it out.

In an odd contrast, it took me two weeks to teach myself basic Adobe InDesign and figure out how to format the thing.

The front and back covers of your novel look like movie posters. How much of your background as a screenwriter went into the development of this novel?
Totally and completely, this was a novel/movie. I make no secret of it in the book itself. And truthfully, I never, ever wanted to write a book. I’ve never really had any “book” type ideas, and the idea of detailed prose goes against all the rules of screenwriting, so I’ve never actively said, “Hey, I could write a book if I wanted.”

For whatever reason, this particular idea formed itself as a book. I’ve been told several times it reads like it wants to be a movie, and if you’ve read it, you know I’m pretty aware of that myself, and make no apologies for it. If it’s entertaining and tells a good story, I consider it a successful piece of writing.

In conclusion, I have no idea if I answered your question.

I know you have probably already envisioned your book as a movie, so tell us the logline of PRELUDE TO A SUPER AIRPLANE.
It means trimming a lot away from the book, but the movie would have to come down to this:

As the country is divided by the debate over airplanes vs flying cars, a young writer has his design for a revolutionary 47-story airplane stolen by a desperate airplane ride company.

Expand on that logline by pitching us PRELUDE in 75 words or less.
Two main converging plotlines, one main subplot:

Brian designs a world-changing 47-story airplane, and his oldest friend steals in order to save his crumbling airplane ride empire.

Peter Ovaire is running for office, promising to be the country’s first pro-airplane President in over 30 years, and he’s determined to destroy the flying car movement.

Brian meets a young pop/rock singer, but a curse only allows them to be in love while onboard an airplane.

What are you doing as an author to promote PRELUDE?
I just wrote a post about this on my site where I go into more detail, but for me, it’s basically about building awareness of my blog, on which I write irreverent nonsense every day. If people like my site, they’ll like the book. If they stick around long enough, they’ll buy the book.

In addition to that, I’ve put it out for some reviews in various places, and am doing the occasional interview with nice people, like what’s happening right in this sentence.

I’m avoiding the HARD SELL, because I just think it’s a bad vibe in 2009. I’ve made the first 55 pages available as a free download, with more to come.

I’m also writing what might be called a spin-off or companion book that I’ll be giving away in whole as a free e-book. It’ll also be available as a paperback through Amazon.

PRELUDE TO A SUPER AIRPLANE: The Soundtrack. What three songs would have to be on a soundtrack for PRELUDE?
Funny you should ask this, because there already is a soundtrack to Prelude. There’s a link to it inside, and readers are asked to listen to it during one section of the book. I have three composer friends who put it together for me - Dan Coe, Rob Gokee, and Kevin Samuels. They’re also characters in the book.

If you were asking for songs that are already out there, I’d go “All These Things That I’ve Done” (The Killers), “The Imperial March” (John Williams – from Star Wars), and definitely, 100%, without failure, “Welcome to the Jungle” (Guns N’ Roses).

If you’ve read the book, this last one is obvious.

What has been the response from readers for PRELUDE?
Really, really, good actually. I mean, most of the feedback I’ve gotten so far is from people who’ve been reading my work for a long time, so they totally “get” me. They accept my use of improper contractions, such as “who’ve”.

A couple people who aren’t exactly in the demo for it have said it’s clever, the story kept them engaged, and it was worth reading.

As mentioned earlier, you are a screenwriter. Talk to us about your screenwriting journey - what has been some of the highlights?
The absolute highlight was being able to get my first feature produced, Who Shot Mamba?. As a bonus, to have it come out good was phenomenal. It was a battle to get done, and there were plenty of times any sane person would’ve given up.

I mean, other than that, there are a ton of highs and lows. The second week I was in LA, somehow I was pitching a movie to one of the producers of Forrest Gump. I was sure I had made it, right? That didn’t work out.

When I got my first agent was cool. Then the second agent was less so. The third one you realize you’re gonna be doing as much for yourself as they are, so the coolness wears off.

The low lights are any of the times you talk to your friends who are lawyers and/or other successful things, and get those brief moments of self-doubt.

Overall, I’m one of those people who will never be satisfied, so I really don’t get too high or too low. Not that I don’t love the book to death, but already I’m kinda like, “Well, I wrote a book. That was fun - what’s next?”

Since starting your journey, what have you learned about screenwriting and the business that you think aspiring screenwriters should know?
It’s not easy, nobody’s gonna go out of their way to help you, most people are lying about what they have going on, it’s not a get-rich-quick scheme, and if you only have one idea, don’t bother. It just doesn’t work like that.

Also, as soon as you can, do two things. One, spend time on a real movie set. You can do this by doing work as an extra. I’m sorry - I mean as a “background actor”. See how it all works. Learn everything you can.

Two, produce a short film with someone who knows what they’re doing. Seeing your work go from page to screen will change everything about the way you write from a technical standpoint – especially once it’s been edited. I stress this…make sure it’s someone who knows what they’re doing.

I wrote a post about this on my blog, as well – I am a wealth of information!

Also, don’t make your first screenplay about “a struggling writer trying to make it, and he has problems with his job and girl/boyfriend”.


If you had the opportunity to do the journey all over again, what would you do differently?
I know this sounds cliché, but nothing. I mean, I could go through and pick points at which I could say, “ooh…that was a bad idea,” but overall, it is what it is. My brain doesn’t really function like that.

Word Association. What comes to mind when you see the following words:
MOVIES: Back to the Future
AIRPLANES: Sailboats
NOVELS: Apples

Ultimately, what was your purpose to writing PRELUDE?
The ultimate goal is a movie version. I think it’s not just a killer movie, but a killer movie trilogy. If you’ve read the book, you know I’ve got the whole thing mapped out. Also, it’s a way to update the Airplane! franchise without actually remaking that movie, which would be a mortal sin. PTSA would work as a spiritual, or even direct, sequel of sorts.

You also know I’m fully aware the extra “book-writing step” is perhaps unnecessary, but this is how the story came out of me this time. The creative process is a weird thing.

Do you think you'll venture back into the novel writing realm?
Ehhh…if I do, it’ll be like this time, i.e. unexpected. I may write a book on the making of my first film, though.

What's currently going on in your writing life?
Have a small independent screenwriting job I’m finishing up this month, and I’m writing that companion/tie-in book to PTSA, called Brad Radby’s Brad Radby.

Brad was a film director character in PTSA, and this is his complete filmography, in his own words, allegedly written in 2023, eleven years after the events of PTSA.

It’s not really a novel, so I didn’t actually lie in question 14. Thanks so much for doing this – it was fun!

February 12, 2009

Street / Urban Fic: Essence bestselling author K'wan

The Author

In 2002, K’wan hit the scene with his debut novel Gangsta, under Triple Crown Publications. What started as a therapeutic release went on to become a part of urban-lit history and an Essence bestseller, as well as drawing rave reviews overseas.

After penning his second novel, Road Dawgz, K’wan drew the attention of St. Martin’s press. The literary powerhouse quickly signed K’wan to a multi-book deal, the first of which being Street Dreams. K’wan’s titles also include Hoodlum (2005), Eve (2006), Hood Rat (2006),Flexin & Sexin: Sexy Street Tales Vol. 1 (2007), Blow: A G-unit novella (2007), Still Hood (2007) and Gutter (2008).

Through his work, K’wan has helped to empower thousands of young people not only to discover the wonderment of the written word, but to seek positive routes in reaching their goals.

Since his insertion into the publishing world, K’wan has been featured in Vibe Magazine, Pages, King, Felon, Big News, The New York Press and Time Magazine, to name a few. He was also interviewed by MTV news for a feature on Hip-Hop fiction, and a guest on Power 105’s morning show. In addition to being an accomplished author, K’wan is also the C.E.O of Black Dawn, Inc., a small press set up to help first-time authors accomplish their dreams of becoming published.

K’wan currently resides in New Jersey where he is working on his next novel. Please visit his website.

The Book

It’s been months since Lou-loc was brutally murdered on his way to freedom. The death is old, but the pain is still fresh. Gutter finds himself on a path to self destruction, vowing to eradicate the entire Blood faction in New York City in the name of his fallen comrade. Sharell urges him to abandon the suicide mission, but his oath won’t allow it. Not even for the child they were expecting. But as Gutter slips further into madness, a shocking revelation brings Satin out.

In the middle of all this is a man named Major Blood. He has been flown in from Cali with two very simple instructions. Shut down Harlem Crip, and execute El Diablo’s murderer.

GUTTER will reunite readers with some of their favorite characters from GANGSTA as well as several new ones. Walk with me once again, as I take you back into the mouth of madness.

Click the cover above to order GUTTER today!

On Street//Urban Fic

What does urban/street fiction mean to you? Is there a distinction between urban and street?
Urban fiction is the label placed on the genre by the media, not by the writers or the readers. The phrase used to bother me because I think there are too many layers to some of our stories and talents to box us into one category. I think I'm okay with it now though. After all, Urban really just means 'City' and that's where most of the stories take place in the inner cities.

Of all the genres present, what drew you to write urban/street fiction?
Nothing really drew me to it, I just sat down and told my story. The things I was writing about were happening right outside my window.

What has been - if any - some of the positive and negative comments you have received from readers?
I get a lot of different feedback. Some people understand what I'm talking about and some don't. For the most part I always try to include a moral lesson in my stories so that you take something away from it besides the entertainment part.

In the branch of Black literature, what do you think urban/street fiction brings to the table?
I think it brings something different and unique in its own way to the table. Some people shy away from reading because they don't have anything that they can relate to, urban fiction has changed that for a lot of people. I love the spike in the readership because of this genre. On the flip side, I want urban fiction to bring a spring board for people to open themselves up to all kinds of novels.

February 5, 2009

Street / Urban Fic: Teresa Patterson, author of Ex-Boyfriend

The Author

Teresa D. Patterson, who also writes under the pseudonym, Diane Diamond, is the author of It’s Your World, Black Girl, Project Queen, and Uncrossing Her Legs. She attended St. Petersburg College and has a degree in Business Administration. She lives in Florida with her two sons.

You can check out more about Teresa by visiting her website and her MySpace page.

The Book

Terrence James is Vicky Holiday’s ex-boyfriend. Rejected for the majority of his life, he refuses to accept rejection again. He is determined not to let Vicki go no matter what it takes. He continues to behave as though they never broke up, when it was his doggish ways that caused the split.

Vicki tries to ignore Terrence when he begins following her around. No matter where she goes, Terrence is guaranteed to show up and cause a scene. Not only does he stalk her, his actions show a side of him she’s never seen. He’s vandalizing her property, harassing her friends, and threatening any man he thinks she might be involved with. The last straw is when he breaks into her apartment and is confronted by her new love interest.

Can Terrence bow out gracefully when Vicki starts dating another man? Or will his jealousy escalate to a dangerous level?

Click the cover above to order Ex-Boyfriend today!

On Street//Urban Fic

What does urban/street fiction mean to you? Is there a distinction between urban and street?
Urban/street fiction means that the stories are very real. They are based on urban or black experiences. They are written about OUR lives, OUR people, and OUR neighborhoods. Reading urban/street fiction is like reading about someone that we know; situations that happen to US. That’s why there’s such a connection between the reader and the author who creates believable characters that they can relate to.

I think that the distinction is that urban isn’t as gritty and filled with gore, meaning it’s not filled with blood shed throughout. When I think “street”, I visualize the brutal aspects such as rape, beatings, gang-banging, shootings, hard-core sex, and vulgar language. With street fiction, you get the grit and gore, in my opinion.

Of all the genres present, what drew you to write urban/street fiction?
Actually, I write several different genres, but the first three novels that I’ve had published have been urban/street fiction. I enjoy writing in this genre because there is so many ways that you can expand as a writer. Personally, I don’t hold back when I’m writing. If I want to mix up romance, with urban, add a little erotica, and humor, I do it.

I want to give my readers/fans what they want, and that happens to be urban/street fiction. For the most part, I try to create the stories that will sell the most, hoping to get on somebody’s best-seller list eventually. LOL!

What has been - if any - some of the positive and negative comments you have received from readers?
I haven’t received any negative comments. It was hinted that my book Project Queen wasn’t “street” enough. However, that didn’t deter me from having it published. One person’s definition of “street” may not be another person’s definition. Personally, I wasn’t aiming for “street” when I wrote it anyway.

So far, the reviews I’ve received on Amazon.com have been favorable, and that’s a plus.

In my neck of the woods, I’ve heard nothing but positive things about both books, Project Queen and Uncrossing Her Legs. I got requests to write a Project Queen 2, so I’m doing it. When I receive emails from people who have read my books telling me how much they enjoyed them, that’s a good feeling. I had one reader tell me that she was crying as she read Project Queen. The fact that something I wrote can evoke that type of emotion let’s me know that I have a God-given talent.

In the branch of Black literature, what do you think urban/street fiction brings to the table?
I think urban/street fiction brings so much to the table for both the African American authors and the readers. Along with the newer “street” genre, came the opportunity for so many authors to put pen to paper and create. Before, they may have thought that no one would be interested in what they’d written, but times have changed. Today, if you write it and publish it, somebody is going to buy it and read it.

When once there were only a few African American titles to choose from now there are a variety of books on the bookshelves written by black authors. Urban/street fiction appeals to a lot of the younger generation. They may not necessarily have read much in the past, but now they can pick up something that they can relate to.

There is a market out there for urban/street fiction. For a moment, it seemed like urban lit was dead because of the quality of books that were being produced. However, more authors are coming to the realization that even though they want their books to appeal to the masses, they still need to produce quality written books.

The Excerpt

From Ex-Boyfriend

Terrence was livid. He couldn’t believe Vicki had thrown all that Chinese food on his new South Pole outfit. That red shit from the Teriyaki chicken had even gotten on his Nikes. How the hell was he going to get that out? He had fried rice all in his hair and inside his clothes. He’d had no choice but to let go of her car door when she’d started backing out of the parking space, almost dragging him in the process.

He would make her pay for what she’d done. People who had witnessed the incident had pointed and laughed. He’d almost wanted to shout at them, “Kiss my ass.” What the hell was so funny about a man getting food thrown on him? Some people were insensitive idiots.

He’d bought a newspaper to put under him when he sat down. He didn’t want all that stickiness from his pants to get on the seat of his truck. He peeled out of the mall parking lot, tires squealing.

“I’m gonna get that bitch. How in the hell can she treat me like this? I’ll get her.”

Fuming, he drove toward home thinking about all the ways he could get back at Vicki. He’d heard about people putting sugar in gas tanks. He wondered what would happen if he did that. Maybe he’d find out. Or maybe he’d just egg her car and let it simmer in the steamy, Florida heat. That would do quite a number on her paint job. Bet she wouldn’t be acting so high and mighty then.

He pulled into the driveway and got out, slamming the door of the Ford F150. He stomped across the yard and went inside his grandmother’s house.

“Lord have mercy. What in the world happened to you?” his grandmother asked as he entered. She eyed his stained clothes warily. “You all right, child?”

“Naw Grandma. I ain’t all right. I can’t understand why Vicki won’t listen to me. I just want her back. But, no matter how hard I try, she just won’t hear me out.”

“Terrence, leave that child alone before you end up getting yaself in some real trouble,” his grandmother advised. “Seems to me like you was the one in the wrong. You need to move on with ya life. You can’t keep running behind that gal if she don’t want you. Move on with ya life,” she said again, shaking her head.

“I can’t. You just don’t understand. Vicki is my life. If I can’t have her, I don’t want to live.”

“You’re talking crazy. This obsession you got with her ain’t healthy at all. Mark my words, it’s gonna land you in a heap o’ trouble.”

Terrence didn’t want to hear what his grandmother had to say. She was old school. She didn’t know anything about how things went down in the modern age. He hurried from the room before she started bombarding him with scriptures from the Bible. It burned him up when she did that. She thought everything could be solved by opening that book. She was so disillusioned. God wasn’t into answering prayers, at least not his. The only thing God could do for him was make Vicki take him back.

After taking a shower he dragged around the house looking pitiful. He didn’t cheer up until he received a call from his friend Jimmy. Jimmy wanted to go shoot some hoops at Fullerton Park. Since Jim didn’t have a ride, Terrence usually picked him up and they’d ball together. He had to put up with his grandma’s fussing before he finally made it out the front door. She treated him like he was still ten years old.

He stopped in front of Jimmy’s house and honked. Jimmy came outside, wearing Champion shorts, a tee-shirt and Nikes. “What’s up, man? How you been?” Jimmy greeted, getting in on the passenger side. “I ain’t seen you much since you and ya girl broke up. What’s the deal?”

“I’ve just been chilling at my grandma’s place. You know, trying to maintain.” The truth was he didn’t have much time to hang with the brothers. He’d been too busy chasing after Vicki, following her, watching her every move. Stalking a person took up a lot of time. Hell, it was almost a full-time job.

He wondered what his friends would think if they knew what he’d been up to. They’d probably laugh at him and call him pussy whipped. Most likely, they’d think he’d lost his damn mind.

“So, tell me something,” Jimmy shot at him. “Was it worth it? Hooking up with that project chick?”

Terrence exhaled loudly. “Hell naw! The pussy wasn’t even all that good and she couldn’t suck dick worth shit,” he lied. The truth was Tenisha could suck the skin off a dick. But that was for him to know.

“So, you lost a damn good woman like Vicki, over some lame pussy? Man, you must feel really stupid right about now.” Jimmy laughed.

Terrence felt like leaning over, opening the door and pushing his ass out. “Shut the fuck up,” he growled.

“Chill man. Chill. I’m just saying. Anyway, you’ll find someone else. If you get bucked off the horse, you just pick ya self up, dust ya self off and get back on.”

“I don’t want anybody else. I want Vicki,” he said with great passion. “I’m gonna get her back.”

“How? You plan to kidnap her or something? From what I heard, she ain’t never coming back. Give it up, man. Give it up.” Jimmy chuckled to himself and shook his head.

“You sound just like my damn grandma. Fuck you.”

“Hey, I can see it’s still a sore spot for you, so I’ll leave it alone. But, I still don’t understand how you could throw away a perfectly good relationship for ghetto, street booty.”

“Shit happens.”

“I guess it does.”

February 2, 2009

The Write Life for You Series Presents... Showing vs. Telling

Becoming a Lifelong Learner of the Craft of Writing
By author, editor, educator Shon Bacon aka ChickLitGurrl™

The Write Life for You is a series of articles on the writing craft. Past articles have focused on building character, developing a solid plot, and harnessing a writing style. This month, I look at SHOWING VS. TELLING IN STORIES.

Here's an excerpt:

Showing vs. Telling

This month, I’m talking about camping vs. marching. Before I pursued my MFA degree, I knew nothing about this “concept”.
Last month, I talked about camping vs. marching. At first glance, showing vs. telling seems like the same concept, but there is a difference. Both concepts examine how much a writer writes in a story; however, camping vs. marching tends to look at the development of scenes and their connection to the story’s purpose while showing vs. telling looks at the visualization of the things the writer writes in a story.
For example, if a writer has a scene that lulls and doesn’t connect to the story’s purpose, then the writer should cut and march through the scene, develop the scene so that it connects to the story’s purpose, or delete it altogether. This is camping vs. marching.
For example, if a writer summarizes action or tells the reader that a character is happy or sad, then the writer should revise the material to show the reader a character’s emotion or show the reader the action as it’s happening. This is showing vs. telling.

Want to learn MORE about showing vs. telling?

Then head to APOOOBOOKS.COM to read my latest article in The Write Life for You series!

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