Getting published is a real be-yatch! Hear about my ups, downs and a few random rants in between.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Thirteen Thursday: Edition Quatre

I'm on a double deadline to get the first draft of TWISTED to my editor as well as an approved proof of DRAMA. The creativity required to write a witty and interesting blog entry has escaped me this week. But, Thursday Thirteen I can handle...

Thirteen Things I've Taken for Granted...And One Thing I Haven't

1. Four years of Fall foilage in the Shenandoah Valley. If you've never seen the orange, yellow and reds of the Virginia mountains you don't know autumn.

2. Pledging one of the most prestigious service organizations as a frosh. It's always great when you're young and dumb because you don't always understand that some of the things you do are a privilege and not a right.

3. My metabolism of just one year ago.

4. That feeling you have when you first fall in love. What is it about that euphoric state that's so hard to re-capture? Not saying comfortable love isn't cool. But if someone could bottle the first pangs of love...that would be some serious mojo.

5. Late night runs to Denny's with the Hubster pre Princesses. I no longer understand the phrase "pick up and go." It's more like: Pick up, carry an extra Pull-up for Princess Bea, make sure I balance the check book before we go out spending, check Princess A's calendar to avoid double booking, check to make sure we have a stroller, oops did I bring the right purse...and...GO.

6. Living in a community far away from a busy, major road. Just how much money do you have to spend to live somewhere unassaulted by commercial zoning?

7. Having no street lights in front of my home. Those sleep blinders stopped looking silly to me six years ago. Why I haven't invested in a pair is beyond me.

8. The ability to say that all of my closest friends were just a phone call or email away. R.I.P. Big Ed.

9. Having someone else solve my problems for me. Man, to be a kid again and have my parents do the heavy lifting.

10. The four-hour day. Classes 8 a.m. to noon, lunch at PC Dukes and nap time in front of the Oprah show. Those were the days.

11. Sundays before the end of the Blue laws. Okay, so you'd get hella bored. But I still miss 'em.

12. The television sitcom. Reality TV can be entertaining, but I'll take a hilarious sitcom any day. 30 Rock is shaping up to be very funny.

13. The purity of mountain air. I was just down in the 'Burg and the air was as crisp and clean as I've ever smelled it. The thought of buying a house and doing all of my writing in the mountains is so on my mind, right now.

One thing I haven't taken for granted...

My blessings, which include a supportive, loving family and a successful career. Sure, sometimes I wanna run into the night screaming from one or both, but life without them...not an option.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


I was never very good at puzzles.

The 5-10 piece puzzles with the chunky, large pieces, I could handle. But the real, puzzles, the kind with more than twenty-five pieces or heaven forbid those torturous six digit kind were out of my league.

So it's nothing but karmic energy biting me in the ass that:

Princess Bea picked up a puzzle at the Dollar Store yesterday, thrusting it into our cart AND as I'm angsting over Don't Get It Twisted revisions, I realize that it's nothing more than a puzzle waiting to be solved.

Bea's twenty-five piece, Clifford puzzle wasn't a head scratcher by any stretch of the imagination. No doubt, it took ten minutes too long to put together, especially since me and the Princesses were working as a team - but, it was a relative breeze.

I'm not lying when I say, had it been double the size, I would have left the girls to do it without me.

Puzzles aren't my thing.

So why has God tortured me by making the re-working of Drama's sequel a literary puzzle?

I don't mean, there are mysteries to unlock. I mean, there's a major story re-write required and working it within the existing chapters has me stumped.

The worst part?

I can see where it should go. I can see how the story line should play out. But when I sit down to write it, I get all locked down by backstory.

I keep flipping the pieces, looking at them from different angles. But I can't meld it together.

I know what you're thinking - I'm afraid to let go of some of the existing text. But you're wrong! I've already had the talk with myself about giving the old heave ho to some of the original text. I'm not afraid to cut.


I wrote Twisted immediately after writing So Not The Drama, three years ago. Needless to say, Drama went through significant changes over time. So, of course, there are elements of Twisted that must be lopped off, cut down, spruced up and mended back together.

I've handwritten notes.

I've started a new document with only new elements.

I've reviewed the existing text to see what can stay.

I've cut and pasted.

And yet, I can't get them to come together to save my blessed soul.

It's exactly like when you're staring at a puzzle and feel you know what piece goes there but can't find it amid the rest of the pieces...the right fit is at the tip of my fingers. I can feel it.

Damn, I hate puzzles!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Flip the Script Fridays: Secrets of the Press Release

Normally on Friday, I like to turn my brain off. If I muster enough strength and motivation to actually show up on the FTJ, seventy percent of my job is done. But I've decided to flip the least where it concerns blogging.

On Fridays, I'll use my fourteen years of public relations experience to talk about promotions. Not only might it help me to remember from whence I came, but you can take what you will from it to promote your own work.

Today's topic: The Press Release

Behold, the press release. The most basic tool of public relations known to womankind.

If there's an event, new service, new product or the boss happens to fart, a press release is written. Reporters cower at its feet. PR execs frame those that generate headlines news.



Bull shit!

Press releases do not generate headline news. If public relations were only about churning out the perfect most awe-inspiring press release, the industry would have no need to exist. Or, PR pros would get paid much, much bigger bucks.

Since there is a multi-million dollar PR market and PR pros, on average, don't make glam dollars (I know, I've been there)the press release must not be all that. At the very least it doesn't get the job done by itself.

A press release should be one tool of many in your arsenal of promotional tricks. And I use that word seriously. Public relations, on the whole, is trial and error. You do what you can to garner interest in your event, service, product and let the hype fall where it may.

Some tricks work. Some don't.

The real power of a press release is the pitch. And it takes awhile to perfect the art of pitching news.

It's a very nervewracking thing, pitching.

Imagine standing in front of one of those machines that spits baseballs or tennis balls at 50 mph and having thirty to sixty seconds to find the magic word that will cut the machine off, saving you from a brutal pummeling.

If you don't find the right word you'll get fast balls pelted at you. Ouch!

If you do, the machine clicks off by itself and you stay unbruised.

Pitching news is like that. Don't find the right words to interest a reporter and you walk away with a bruised ego. Find it and you may be rewarded with a sweet piece of coverage.

But we're not ready for pitching. Let's talk about a getting a press release to the pitch stage.

It's all about ensuring your release, at the very least, gets read.

So, four and a half ways secrets to getting the most out of your press release: (didja think I was going to talk about how to write one? Come on, we're writers. That's the easy part!)

1. Know to whom the bell tolls AKA make sure you're sending it to the right person. As exciting as the news room is made to look on television, it's a wonder that a press release gets any attention at all. Reality is, adressing a release to "Dear Sir" is the best way to get it ignored. And sending it to news room to no one's attention is like playing darts blindfolded.

It might land. It might not.

Reporters have egos (they're writers aren't they?)and they like to know that you've paid enough attention to their past stories to know what they cover. Or, at minimum, that you've taken ten minutes to read the paper and know what sections are featured or what editor assigns what type of stories.

Familiarize yourself with the outlets you plan to contact. Blanket press releases - those that go out simultaneously to a shitload of outlets - only work if a) the news is big enough and b) the organization/person sending it is well-known enough.

Which brings me to...

2. It better be news! Yes, the fact that your book exists is good news to you, your family and friends. But why is it relevant to anyone else? It's your job to figure that out, otherwise your release will amount to this headline, "Author Writes Book."



Believe it or not, knowing what's news ties in directly to #1.

If you're familiar enough with the outlets you plan to contact, you know:
- What segments the paper has. Special book section, lifestyle, business, etc... there are many places your story can find home.

- What type of stories the segments cover.

- What reporters write hard news vs. soft news.

3. Hook 'em. The hook is essential to avoid "Author Writes Books" type of releases. The who, what, where are the easy parts of a release. The hook normally lies in the WHY. Why is this important to the general public?

And the WHY can vary depending on what section of the paper you're targeting. If it's the busines section - which is tricky because that's hard news all the way - the WHY may be that the info within your book could save the business commmunity money.

For warm and fuzzy stories, the why usually revolves around some sort of niche audience. For us children's writers, the WHY could be anything from a void in literature we're filling to a special initiative tie-in relevant to youth.

Find your hook. Embrace it. Love it. Know it inside out.

4. Write.Send.Follow-up. These are the three steps of media relations. The most important being the third. Why? Because when you're in the PR biz, it's a given you're going to write a head spinning, attention grabbing release. And of course, you're going to send it. It's the follow up that kills ya.

Chances are, if you're doing your PR by your lonesome, you'll be sending a release to one, maybe two outlets at a time versus twenty. Following up with twenty news outlets makes for a brutal day only soothed by copious amounts of wine at Happy Hour.

Sending out one, we can all handle. Follow-up is key. I guarantee, when you call Jane "Pulitzer Prize" Reporter and say:

"Hi, I'm The Next Great Author, I was following up on a release I sent yesterday..."

One of two things will happen. Either,

She's going to interrupt you (because reporters are always very busy) and say, "No. I don't remember seeing that. Can you send it again?"

At that, she'll expect you to say yes and get off the phone. Re-send immediately. Follow-up again the next day.

Don't try and pitch her unless you've nailed your elevator speech. Reporters are pros at getting you off the phone with the brusque, I'm busy technique.


"Look, I only have a few minutes. I'm on deadline. What was it about?"

Ding, ding, ding, ding!

If she says the latter, be ready to pitch the highlights. Because likely either she'll like it enough to ask for more info. Or she'll tell you she's not interested, but Reporter XYZ may be or that she's not interested and better luck next time.

Be ready either way.

5) Be visual. This rule is for the brave hearted who have decided that broadcast news is their target. Releases can be and are sent to TV news outlets. But know this - your story better be visual. Think a clown juggling flaming balls of fire.

Whatever you're pitching has got to be interesting to watch.

The only two things I've ever pitched that generated a TV news piece were a doctor I repped who was among the first to do vascular stents (the news recorded one of his surgeries) ::gross::: and a segment about how wireless technology played a part in the rescue efforts of 9/11.

So unless you're targeting a specific segment of the TV news that covers books, I'd stick with print media.

The ultimate goal of a press release is to get coverage. So remember, even a brief is coverage.

We'd all love a full article. But nine times out of 10, even PR pros have to be happy with a brief - those small, maybe 50-60 word news bits you'll see in each section of the paper, usually on the left hand side, announcing various happenings.

Many news items end up here. If you get one, rejoice.

Next Friday: The Pitch

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Thursday Thirteen: Edition Deux

As much as I love music, this was a tough one! Live shows are hella expensive.

Thirteen Live & In Concert

1. Budweiser Fresh Fest, Baltimore Civic Center Yes, it’s totally irresponsible for a beer to sponsor a concert that was targeted to under-aged kids. Yes, there was marijuana aplenty at the arena. Can you say, contact? But my very first live show, seeing Run DMC, sexy ass, LL and Whodini (Gah, Five Minutes of Funk is the shit!!) hands down was the Best.Concert.Ever!

2. New Edition, Merriweather Post Pavilion
Ahhh, the original 80’s boy band. Screw the New Kids on The Block, they were just N.E. wannabes! Hangin’ Tough my ass. Wanna talk about losing your mind? This is the first concert I ever cried at. When you’re thirteen and only dream of walking hand-in-hand with your fave boy band member then finally see him up close and personal, it can be quite an overwhelming experience.

3. BBD & Keith Sweat, Capital Center
Ya know, I always thought this an odd combo for a live concert. BBD (Mike Bivens, Ricky Bell & Ronnie Devoe from New Edition) were at their height with the whole Hip Hop, smoothed out on the R&B tip with a Pop appeal to it. Keith Sweat was still riding high from his whiney R&B debut. Never really thought they had the same audience but, the house was packed.

Me and my girl, Nise, were just doing a girls night out thing. I had a mad crush on Mike Bivens (still, seven years after the NE hype) and had just pledged a group of girls who I forced to greet me as Big Sister Poison in honor of BBD’s hit single. I was astounded when Keith was the one who really turned the concert out. Go figure!

4. Jodeci, Constitution Hall
Alright look, the acoustics in Constitution Hall suck! It sounds like the artists are singing into a stringed can and you’re holding the other end up to your ear. It’s awful. But when Jodeci came out (Yeahyay-e-yay-yeah-e-yayyyyy) it was a must-see concert. Bad news. They didn’t have a band, they sang against the track and the stage at C.H. must be small because it seemed like they were bumping into each other all night.

5. Mary J. Blige, Constitution Hall
But seriously, this was Mary when she was still dating K-Ci from Jodeci and probably doing all types of illegal pharmaceuticals. In other words, Mary used to seriously rock the mic, channeling all of her man troubles and substance abuse issues into song.

I’m not saying she needed that to make good music…but damn, Mary’s songs were ripe with all types of unresolved angst. She earned those Queen of Hip Hop Soul stripes!
The best MJB CD, hands down, Mary. All that live instrumentation surrounding her throaty vocals…if you don’t know you better ask somebody.

6. R. Kelly, Capital Center
This was before the infamous pee tape. Let me say this, I do not find R. Kelly sexy in the least. He’s tall and has some definition in his arms…but…he doesn’t do it for me. But Lord his concerts are packed with so much sexual tension it could melt your socks right off your feet. I needed a serious cold shower afterwards. And that’s all I’m gonna say about that.

7. D’Angelo, Constitution Hall
I know, right. Why do I keep going to concerts here?!

D’Angelo had cancelled the original date of this concert and this was the make-up date. No doubt in my mind he was doing all he could to make up for cutting out on DC a month earlier. It was a mellow, mediocre concert until, Oh My God, he did Shit, Damn, Motherf***er (yes, that’s really the name of it) as a rock song. His band cranked this joint so hard I thought the ceilings were going to crumble. The crowd went completely NUTS! D if you’re out of jail and getting yourself together, release this live, rock n roll version as a single. Gah!!!!!

8. Capital Jazz Fest, Year 1- in Annapolis, Year 2 – Bulls Run

Jazz fests are the shiggity. I love that you get a full day of music. Granted, I’m tired mid-way through, but getting your money’s worth is not a problem.

The first year, it was great having it, basically, in my backyard. I thought the Navy-Marine Corps stadium was a perfect place for it. Lounging around listening to jazz all day ain’t a shabby way to spend a Saturday. But of course the snooty Annapolitans who lived across from the stadium complained about the noise and the trash and the Fest moved on to Virginia, the next year. Yes, because when the Midshipman have their games and tailgate from high noon til midnight, there’s never any noise or trash. Please!

Bulls Run was muddy, messy and un-enjoyable. I haven’t been back since, even though it moved to Merriweather Post three years ago. Annapolis gets the gas face!!

9. Maxwell, Constitution Hall
Clearly Maxwell is in the witness protection program or something, because I haven’t seen or heard from the man since this concert. But if going into hiding is what helps him make good music, hide on brutha. The live version of Ascension is BANANAS.

I’ll never forget it, damn near front row seats. Maxwell was rocking the vagabond look – baggy hobo khakis, a white tee under a sweater vest and sneaks – and the women in the audience were losing their minds. I’m talking take your panties off throwing ‘em on the stage mind loss. The hubster, arms folded, looks around the arena, shakes his head and goes, “Now, you know damn well if brother came up to you trying to holler dressed like that you and the rest of the women in here would be pissed off thinking, I know that raggedy-ass expletive not trying talk to me.” Truth! Truth! All I could do was laugh.

10. Vivian Green, Constitution Hall
She was a relative unknown. Her CD wasn’t even out yet. Prior to the concert, I’d interviewed her for We knew she’d be a star if radio would let her. She’s completely under rated. Without any glitz, glamour or backdrops she mesmerized the audience with her band and her vocals. Live version of Emotional Rollercoaster, insane! Made me remember what music should be about.

11. The Scream Tour, MCI Center
Yikes! Do you know how big the MCI Center is? It’s where the Washington Wizards have their games. Okay, well the place was sold out. Wall-to-wall screaming teenyboppers bringing the house down every time Bow Wow or one of the little young ‘uns from B2K or IMX lifted their shirt.

It was Princess A’s first concert and when I wasn’t worried about finding the emergency exits (seriously, the place was ridiculously packed) I had as much fun as she did. My cousin and I had the girls make B2K hats with their favorite members name on it and we played the B2K CD all the way to the concert to get in the mood. We had a blast! First concerts rock. But umm…B2K broke up two months later.

12. Best of Both Worlds Tour, Baltimore Arena
Highlight of this concert with Jay-Z and R. Kelly, I got to see Mike Bivens from New Edition walking into the concert. No, really. That was the best part.

I really like Jay-Z. And I’ve already mentioned that R. Kelly in concert is foreplay. But together, meh…they were aiight. I hadn’t seen R. Kelly in concert since the first time, five or six years before. And I’d never seen Jay-Z, live. I expected a lot. It was mostly glitz (R. Kelly’s elaborate sets and clothes changes) and Jay-Z didn’t have a live band, so ya’ know I could have listened to his CD and jammed equally as hard.

Okay in order to make thirteen I have to cheat. These are two concerts I saw on television. But they’re live!

13A. Janet Jackson, HBO Special (the first one, not the second)

This concert was hot, hot, hot. If I were a guy, Janet would totally be on my list. I forget what this HBO special was called. But, I remember that she was donating some of the proceeds to a charity headed by Colin Powell. And he was in the audience.

Most memorable moment about this concert was Janet’s performance of Rope Burn. She chose this guy from the audience (pre-determined for sure) and tied him into a chair. As she sang to him she rubbed, cooed and lap danced. It’s no secret that many of Janet’s dancers and those in her circle of friends are gay. And I believe the guy she chose for this segment was also. But I tell you what, the song was so hot I’m sure he was having some serious thoughts about his sexuality. Hell, I was!

13B. Usher, Showtime Special
I’ve always liked Usher. I mean before he became Err-sher, he of the six-pack abs. I’m talking, rocking his first single, Think of U, which was three years before he blew up! That’s why I was so disappointed in this concert.

Sometimes, it’s good to keep the illusion provided by videos and thirty second segments on TRL as the only images of your favorite artists - because when given a full hour or god forbid, two, you really get to see how talented they are.

First, Usher lovers, it’s not that he’s not talented. But he’s not as talented as I originally thought. His vocal range is limited. Not saying he’s only a studio singer, but, I don’t know…he strained a lot throughout the night. And while I’m usually always into his dancing on videos, I got bored with the same choreography after the third or fourth song. I’d still buy his CDs. I just won’t be going to any live shows.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Independence Day

I love gadgets.

I love things that will make my life easier. I'm a very hip and happening girl, if I may say so myself.

But at the core, I'm an old-school kind of chick.

My Old School playlist, any song that I loved growing up as a kid, is longer than my Head bangers (Hip Hop) playlist. And I love Hip Hop!

I wish stores were still closed on Sundays. I applaud Chick-fil-A for holding to that policy in the face of losing sales. I guess they've realized that if your product is good (mmmm...chicken sandwich)the sales you lost on Sunday will come on back, Monday through Saturday.

And, finally, if an episode of Andy Griffith is playing on TVLand, I watch it. The Brady Bunch too. I don't care that there were never any black people in Mayberry or that the Brady's were scary perfect. They're old school shows about values, that unfortunately seem equally as old school.

So when I read the AP article about the struggle of Indie bookstores to remain an integral part of their community and the book industry, I had to take out my "Go! Go! Go!" pom poms.

Although there are still far fewer independent bookstores now than there were ten years ago, the rumors of the indie bookstore's demise are premature. The number of new indies opening are beginning to rise and those still alive and kicking are digging in their heels.

This is good news for debut authors. Often, the indie bookstore can be a close ally in the war on obscurity.

But what I really love about the indies fighting back is the integration of old school with nu school. Many indies realize they must embrace nu school methods to avoid becoming dusty old relics.

And there lies the synergy between indies and debut authors. Indies don't want to become a thing of the past and debut authors don't want their book to spiral out of print before its time.

We're both attempting to ride a wave versus being crushed by it.

While indies across the country debate whether to put in a cafe, host live music and spoken word performances, or specialize in a particular genre to keep customers returning and happy, authors (especially us newbies) ponder...

To agressively promote -OR- not.

Although the above, for me, is not a dilemma, there are some who believe that a more hands off approach to promotion is how it should be. They're not comfortable with agressive promotion, feel such a technique should be left to the glitzier creative mediums like movies and music and ultimately will do little to no promotion outside of what their publisher provides.

Ya know, write the book and let it sell itself. Old school all the way.

On the flip side are those who can't imagine leaving the success of their books solely to the whims of consumer choice. Sure, the reader may find the book. And sure, the book flap may intrigue them. But that's too many "maybe's" for me.

Both approaches have been known to work.

However, I'd like to point out that praying you don't get pregnant instead of using a condom has been known to work too. But it doesn't come highly recommended!

One of the reasons I'm pro-promotion are my own reading habits. I, like many readers am a loyalist.

If a loyalist is in the book store we're likely there to buy one of our old faithfuls, not some newbie we've never laid eyes on. If the author's name or book title hasn't entered our psyche before we enter the store it's pretty much all left up to chance, luck and good fortune.

And luck does happen.

I bought Tyrannosaur Canyon because of the blurbs. I love Michael Crichton and the blurbs all indicated that T.C. was going to be "better" than a Crichton read.

It wasn't. But it was still good.

I'd never heard of Douglas Preston before walking in the store. Bought his book. Liked it. Thinking about adding him to my list of regular authors to buy.

No idea what Preston did to market this book. Lucky for him, he didn't have to do anything except write a book that received good reviews to snag me.

So, yup, there are authors who may never actively promote and still their book sells. While others beat the pavement and flop. Vice versa on both scenarios.

I'm sure there are some indies who will refuse to do anything else but sell good books; holding fast to the literal meaning of their business, BOOKseller.

It doesn't mean they won't survive. Some have and will.

But others need to do more.

Authors, some of us need to do more. By more, I don't mean donning a costume of the book's character and standing on the street corner singing and dancing. Although, if it's a kids book that could really work.

What I mean, is author's can't be afraid to strike out on their own and toot their own horn.

For the promo shy I suggest:

1. Make school visits your friend. I was doing them before ever receiving a book deal. If you're gun shy about talking about your book, good. Don't. School visits for YA authors are about craft, our rock star lifestyles (stop laughing) and why creative writing isn't nearly as boring as academic writing. And guess what, this is promotion! Your book's name will be mentioned, you'll hand out book marks or your URL and bam, twenty-two more people in the world know you exist.

2. Flip the script. Yes, it would be totally awesome to think that having our book included in the publisher's catalog will do the trick. It may. But when your book is in a catty with fifty other books, odds are you're not standing out. Once the catalog is out, do a personalized letter or visit to those bookstores in your area/region. Exposure + Real-time Pressing the flesh = Recognition.

3. Become an expert. Is there any topic you know enough about that maybe the local media (broadcast and print) might need your services for? Reporters are always looking for sound bites and quotes. If you identify the right producer, writer, editor that will be interested in your topic, you'll gain exposure by being cited as Author of XYZ book, local source.

Relatively painless, no?

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Busy Blogger

When I was approached by Dakota Knight to serve as a regular columnist for Blogging in Black, it occured to me, this is the cycle of life.

Busy people stay busy because...they keep taking on new projects.

No doubt in my mind when someone wants something done, they look around to see who's more likely to do it. Are they going to ask the person playing solitaire on their PC or the one running by like their pants are on fire, talking into their cell phone as they rush into a meeting?

Not in spite of my already full plate did I agree to join the blog but because of it. I was honored that Dakota approached me because it made me stop for a second and realize 1) just how busy I actually am.

I know, it sounds weird. I should know how busy I am. After all, I'm me!

2) I'm not just busy for the sake of doing. I am seriously on my grind when it comes to this writing thing. Most days, I'm just too deep in it to recognize.

Truthfully, I keep thinking I'm not doing enough!

But Dakota's email, very casually saying, Hey we're ready to do this thing and thought maybe you'd like to play a part was literally like someone tapping my shoulder and sheepishly asking if I'd mind helping out on Project X as I sprinted past, phone in ear, feet moving a mile a minute so I won't be late for my next engagement.

Oh my God, I'm the pants on fire, cell in ear, rushing to the meeting girl!

Even though I've pared down my obligations quite a bit in the last year since snagging my book deal with Kensington, I've also increased my writing obligations in the name of promotion and staying nimble.

Blogging is among my favorite creative writing exercises. So joining the BIB, a community of literary professionals talking about, what else, the ins and outs of publishing: being published, getting published, and staying published, was a no-brainer.

Be sure to check me out every third of the month.

However, my committment to BIB is more than a promotional outlet. Being a columnist for a collective that shares the African American perspective on writing is important to me.

I think it has something to do with that "each one, teach one," philosophy. It's good karma to reach back and help someone get where you are.

There are definitely some issues that I look forward to seeing addressed by my fellow columnists, perhaps hear a perspective I've not yet thought about or heard. But in its debut BIB has proven what I've known all along: writing is writing is writing, no matter what color you do it in.