From the Desk

Brooklyn, NY–We live in troubling times. The norms of society have been upended. Facts and truth are under assault and those who attempt to keep us rooted in realty are branded enemies of the people, with the information that they unearth deemed as “fake news.” However, the voices of society will never truly be silenced. There will always be those who challenge, question, speak out and write about the issues that effect us all.  Hence, the birth of Medgar Voices.

The students of Medgar Evers College are a reflection of the larger society. As such they have come together to  address the myriad  injustices that impact the communities in which they live, and the effects of these injustices on people of color in particular. These emerging voices are rich and authentic touching on topics such as homelessness, gentrification, the  LGBTQ community, immigration, and police brutality.

These purveyors of truth do not offer answers or easy solutions, but rather a window into the world in which we reside and a challenge to the reader to do better when they know better.

The Beat Goes On

I know it has been a very long time since I posted to my blog. My mind is like a sieve these days.  Between teaching and trying to write and trying to remain up to speed on social media, I have neglected this small part of my world.  Well, I have been writing, quietly and not with a lot of fanfare. I’m cool with that.  Since my last post, MURDER IN THE AISLES  was released (under my pen name Olivia Hill). I finished another Lawson’s novel MY LOVE AT LAST (July 2016), a novella “A Gift of Love” that will be released this holiday season, and I’m currently working on two single title novels… (that’s a neat trick).  I hope to see them both on the shelves in 2017.

And I’m trying to find time for me. Time to think and have some space.  It is not always easy. There always seems to be something to do, someone who needs or wants something. But that’s cool, too.

So, if it seems as if I have “disappeared,” I haven’t. Not really.  I’m simply looking for a quiet corner.  The beat goes on . ..

MY MUSINGS

Yesterday
I was only what I would become
Now
I am more than I expected
Tomorrow
I will be greater . . . still
–D. Hill 4/23/15

The world kept distracting me
From where I needed to go
Kept me from arriving at the place I needed to be
But then
I looked up and I realized
That I was already here
—-D. Hill 4/22/15

What Am I Saying?

I can’t tell you how often I think, “have I run out of things to say?”  I guess the wider question is “have I run out of things to say that people would be interested in?” Tough question. I have no answer.  As a writer, at least for me, I am always questioning my value, my skills, my worthiness. Sometimes I think that this whole 25 year journey is all a big mistake.  But then I will hear from a reader or get invited to an event and I remember that I still have stuff to say matters.  For all the readers out there that remind  me…. thank you.

Beyond the Book

As a writer, you spend hours, days, weeks and months researching, writing, plotting and planning.  You have an idea for a novel that you want to share with readers.  You put your heart and soul into it. Often you sacrifice time with family and friends and time for yourself. Finally one day you write, “the end.” The sense of accomplishment (and relief) defies explanation.

If you already have an editor, you turn your precious baby over and pray that it will be treated with care. If you self-published, you have to find and editor, a printer, and a means to distribute your book. Now you can take a breath. Your book is written, your story is told. All of those hours, days and months have paid off. WRONG.  The real work has just begun.

Writing the novel is the easy part.  Getting it the attention that it deserves is where the real work comes in.  Whether you go with a traditional publisher or strike out on your own, marketing and promotion will be the difference between your “masterpiece” being read by hundreds of readers or just your best friends and family.

Even after having been in this business for more than 20 years, for me it never gets easier.  With each book the same amount—and sometimes even more—effort and enthusiasm goes into the promotion of the book.

With the book market being so tight and so competitive and continually changing, as an author, if you plan to be successful you have to keep working long after the last page is typed.

If I had my way, I would just write my books and stay in my room.  (As quiet as it’s kept, I’m really kind of shy). But I know that if I want to keep being moderately successful at this writing thing, I have to keep doing the work.  So I’ve put together a list of things that I have found to be terribly important:

Build your contact list.  Think of all the people that you know, starting with family and friends. Get email and snail mail addresses when you go to events.

Get a good-looking, functional website, easy to navigate. Not one that looks homemade with ads on the side. WordPress has great templates.

Secure your domain name. Domainrooms is a good source and inexpensive.

Get business cards.  Try Vistaprint. You can get 500 for a few bucks.  Keep them simple. Name, contact info (email, website) .Getting business cards with a picture of your book is cute but limited.  Get cards that will work with the next book you are writing.

Join some of the online book clubs. Contribute to the conversations. Don’t just show up when you have a new book, or only post when you want to promote yourself.

Set up your Facebook account, Twitter, Shelfari and Blog.

Plan to attend literary events. (Pick and choose wisely. You can’t be everywhere)

Find out what bookstores are in your area. Make sure that they stock your book.  Offer to do a stock signing.

Stay in touch with your readers.

Tour on a budget! Do virtual tours.  They are great ways to be all over without leaving home.

Open a Skype account so that you can “visit” book clubs online.

Open a Soundcloud account to record readings from your novel to upload to your website.

And while you are busy promoting your new baby, get to work on its sister or brother.  If you’ve written a great book and promoted it well, your readers are going to want more.

Good luck!

Does Reading Make U A Better Writer?

I recently devoured three books in the past couple of weeks.  To voracious readers this may sound like “so what.” But for me, as a writer, finding the time to read is like taking a mini-vacation. And I need to make the most of my time. As a result I have more books in my house than I will ever read (I’m always compelled to buy at least one book everytime I pass a bookstore!–It’s an illness). So when I do get that rare break in my hectic schedule I have to find a book that hooks me from the beginning, that is intriguing, enlightening, and exceptionally written.  Needless to say I have tossed many books aside that don’t live up to that criteria.

In any event, I’ve recently read GHETTONATION by Cora Daniels. A damned good book on all levels and a must read. Then I read THe  Cold Moon by Jeffrey Deaver one of my favorite authors. I followed that up with the master of the short chapters James Patterson’s 4th of July.  (I’m just getting into this series and will definitely be getting the rest). Tomorrow I intend to start on the sequel to A Cold Moon,  Sleeping Doll. It picks right up where The Cold Moon left off.

 I say all of this to bring me to the point of this post.  When we as writers read good work it can only enhance, stimulate and encourage us in our own solitary endeavors.  After reading a good book I feel charged and want to up my writing level. Do I? Hmmmm, only a reader will know for sure, but I certainly hope so.

 Although my motto is “A writer writes” my other one is, “Any writer worth a damn reads.”

When Writing Stops Being Fun …

When I first started writing back in the early 90’s (ouch that sounds so looooong ago), I was totally fascinated by the process, of seeing my ideas unfold on the page, of breathing life into inanimate folks.  Over time, when contracts and deadlines continued to loom in front of me, that spontaneity and zest for the written word at times gets sucked out of me.

I never want to be a writer that simply grinds words out on the page.  I want to have the time to write the book of my heart, not just the book that will pay the bills. So often I find myself at a crossroad between art and survival. And that’s when it stops being fun.

What to do? When moments like that hit me,  I think about all the wonderful readers that I have met in person, through snail and email and how much joy the words that I’ve poured onto the page have given them. And ya know what–it ain’t so bad afterall.