Tuesday, July 21, 2015


Karen Williams had her butt raised in the air as she bent down under Mama’s sleigh bed, sifting through the clutter of crumpled receipts, dated lottery tickets, and worn out pantyhose. Earlier in the week, she’d clawed her way through the grimy attic with boxes and bagged items, all of which were now a resting place for forgotten treasures. Giving in to defeat, she sucked her teeth hard, plopping down on the wooden floor next to the bed before releasing a set of twin cuss words.

She closed her eyes to calm her racing heart and thought about Mama saying, “Baby, just make somethin’ of ya’ life. Cut out all this silliness and act ya’ age. That’s all I ask.”

But Mama was about as subtle as a derelict dropping his pants and peeing in the middle of a first-rate restaurant. She would take aim at the wall then throw a spoon or some other nearby object before spewing out a string of expletives.  The scolding came when Karen strolled in late at night after hanging out with friends and hurling rocks off the overpass of the Davison Freeway. Unsuspecting motorists swerved their cars toward other vehicles with near misses. Nonetheless, she joked and high-fived cronies, saying the way she saw it, she too contributed to the history of Detroit’s oldest freeway.

Karen opened her eyes and gazed down at her clasped hands, dust covering her fingertips and palms. Her hardheaded ways, she knew, frazzled Mama’s nerves, especially when she acted like she was deaf. That’s when Mama started in, bunching her housecoat into her fist. “You betta’ get right and stop all this foolishness,” she complained, her chapped, bottom lip quivering. “You need to be in somebody’s church, girl.” Karen rolled her eyes so hard her closed lids fluttered. It didn’t matter if it were Easter or Mother’s Day. She wasn’t about to get out of her warm bed. She also ignored Mama’s beseeching hands and claims of nice young men being present because, up till now, the only “nice man” she wanted to get with was, Hershel Cummings, her best friend since childhood. But that required a whole other strategy altogether. Now that Mama was dead, Karen wished she could have taken it all back; the years of smarting off and stomping around the house like she was killing jumbo-sized roaches. Even so, all she needed to do now was stick to the plan . . . and find that doggone letter Mama was so secretive about.

Monday, February 3, 2014


It’s taxing and downright annoying to have your work scrutinized over and over. You’ve edited several drafts of your manuscript only to find more revisions are needed. But, it is necessary, according to Rachelle Gardner. In her blog post titled, Nobody Writes Good First Drafts, she notes that authors must be willing to make changes to their work.

Rachelle Gardner, who by trade is an editor, states: “When an editor pushes you to be your best, or when you push yourself, you’re doing exactly what’s necessary to rise above the hordes of regular writers to become a good writer.”

In all fairness, writers shouldn’t expect their first draft to be flawless. Even well-known authors make mistakes in the original stages of their book, explains Gardner.

To see more of her article go to: http://www.rachellegardner.com/


Monday, January 27, 2014


Mention the name Trice Hickman among writers and you’re likely to receive an array of pleasantries about the level of her craft. Among certain circles, the soft spoken author is referenced as the writer’s writer because of her high-ranking books and professionalism. But upon speaking with the personable novelist with a dazzling smile, she’ll say she’s a southern girl who grew up on the eastern coast of North Carolina.

Author Hickman earned a Master’s Degree from Wake Forest University, and then began a varied career path that involved the corporate world as well as the non-profit sector. Yet, her love for books and one day writing her own, never waned. When her first novel, Unexpected Interruptions hit the market, her dream had come true.

Her dedication proved worthwhile when her first novel went on to win literary honors, hitting several bestsellers lists. Authors and readers couldn’t get enough and delivered rave reviews such as this, by Booklover68, who wrote: “I haven't written a review in a very long time but after reading this wonderfully written story I had to write a review. Ms. Hickman wrote a fantastic story and I can't believe that this was her first novel . . .”

Since Unexpected Interruptions, the author has gone on to publish, Keeping Secrets & Telling lies, Playing the Hand You’re Dealt, Looking for Trouble and her latest, soon-to-be release work, When Trouble Finds You.

When it comes to the markets, the author gives this advice: “There’s no doubt in my mind that the changing market has created a wider, and in many ways, more efficient pathway for writers. With today’s advances in technology, social media, and the access to free computer software, authors are better able to produce books and market them across the country, if not the world.” She goes on to warn writers, “However, these same changes have also served to create an over-saturated marketplace, making it a hard to penetrate the crowded literary field that seems to be growing by the thousands each day.”

Author Hickman offers up additional guidance for writers starting out in the business; she tells writers to do their research by learning about the publishing industry.  “ . . . In today’s crowded literary field, writing a book simply isn’t enough. You must understand the process and mechanics of what it takes to bring a book to market, and then how to penetrate the market and build a solid readership.”

“Network, network, network!” is another admonition in this business authors should adhere to, according to Hickman.

Her last bit of advice is indicative of the author’s giving personality to help others. “Never give up! You’ll hear the word no, more than you’ll hear yes. But you can’t stop trying. You have to keep pushing forward in your mission because if you stay the course you’ll find that behind every no, there is a yes. And even if you continue to hear no, that just means it’s time to create your own yes!”

To learn more about the author and purchase her books, visit these websites:


Monday, January 20, 2014


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a husband, father, Christian, political advocate who became responsible for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 1965 Voting Rights Act; moved thousands with his charisma and dedication and shook the nation upon his assassination.

On this holiday, we ought not to forget the reasons why we celebrate Dr. King’s legacy. We should keep about our shoulders, the spirit of equality for everyone. We should take pride in the freedoms we are afforded, but remain vigilant for those who can’t fight for themselves.

Because of King’s legacy, little children of all races can dream big with the examples of those who’ve gone before them; and, we now have a voice regarding the government we select to make relevant decisions.

In the spirit of Dr. King, let us respect one another and observe the uniqueness we all possess. Let us build up individuals rather than tear them down. Above all, let us embrace the importance of connection and loving one another from the heart. Together we can make a difference!


Monday, January 13, 2014


Have you ever been outraged or moved to tears on the heels of reading a book? You reach for the tissue after a heartfelt love story and wish that the book hadn’t ended. Yet, this is likely deliberate by the author.


1)      Readers may bring on the waterworks. Booklovers enjoy feeling emotion from literary works. Readers love it when the heroine finds love, the good guy gains courage and defeats his archenemy.

2)      Your writing angers the reader. This can be a good thing when the reader clings to every page, waiting for the protagonist to gain control and defeat the bad guys.

3)      Your words may cause changes within the reader. Readers make declarations based on works they’ve been deeply moved by, like starting a nonprofit. Never underestimate the power of words.

4)      Readers are compelled to talk about your book. Most good things have been shared via word of mouth. Great books are no different.

5)      Strong writing adds flair to your work. Readers are apt to be more engaged with gripping passages.

6)      You, the author, reveal a little about yourself with deep writing. It’s a fact that authors are aware of, but sometimes revelations blind sight the creator when others expose an undeniable truth.


How does your writing affect readers?


Monday, January 6, 2014


The start of each year carries the promise of innovative ideas. While we diligently dust off the old and welcome the new, I feel compelled to admonish my fellow writers to revitalize their mindset toward their craft.

Know that you will realize your writing dreams, provided they are in comparison to your growth as an artist. Take the time to enjoy the journey. Stay strong when would-be deals fizzle; remain focused on the type of work you want to release into the universe, worry-free of popular trends.

Each project is done within its own time. Resist the urge to push your work through prematurely or compare yourself to other writers. Finally, regardless of the genre you revel in, know that your work . . . your words, can change the world; what you do matters. Good luck!

Monday, December 9, 2013


Dialogue tags specify which character is talking. While tags can detract from dialogue if overused, they are necessary. The most common tag is said.

“I can no longer help you,” said Frank.


This allows the reader to keep up with who is speaking without having to go back to figure it out.           

According to the article Another take on Dialogue Tags, from The Editor’s Blog, (http://theeditorsblog.net/2013/12/04/another-take-on-dialogue-tags/)“Some action words are given leeway as dialogue tags in a number of genres---typically whisper and murmur, and others such as mutter, yell, holler, and cry. Romance also allows for words such as groan and moan, although those are also action words.”


“Don’t forget to bring pop to the party. Otherwise, they’ll send you out to the store,” Debbie warned.

            “I can’t because I’m already making the casserole, cake and the dip,” Alice declared.


Variations of tags have a nicer flow and are acceptable.

            “I think we should leave now,” Peter pointed to the clock.

            Frank nodded, “Okay, I’m ready.”


Action beats are another way to communicate who is speaking. They are intended to break up a long stretch of dialogue.

            “Let’s go out for pizza,” said Larry.

            “That’s fine with me, but I need a babysitter.”

            “You can bring little Jimmy, he has all his teeth right?”

            “Yes, but I’m not up for keeping an eye on him. The last restaurant we went to he caused quite a commotion.”

            Larry stood and shoved his hands in his pockets. “That’s fine. I have just enough money to treat us to pizza, not cover broken items.”

How do you use tags with your dialogue?