#WriteTipWednesdays Are Back!

I know…it’s been a long time since I posted one of these. I’ve been slacking. Live outside of writing…life as April instead of Jackie Chanel got more crazy and weird than I ever imagined.
To make things more challenging, I had to do some serious soul searching for a cool month or two because, as an author-publisher-editor, I kind of lost my way. I even took a steady job and was about to give up on writing period. I honestly felt like I didn’t want to be a part of this industry anymore. I talked it out with myself, my mother, and God, and determined that writing is my calling. As John Mayer pointed out in 2010 (the speech that made me want to publish UNTITLED in the first place) …

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Having a baby IS a miracle and DOES make you a Goddess

Dear Naomi Schaefer Riley,

Like many others, I read your NY POST piece titled “Having a Baby isn’t a miracle and doesn’t make you a Goddess.”

I’m going to be nice and not fill this post with all the curse words I used while I read your little op-ed piece for the NY Post. Also, you’ve probably heard or read all the names and insults everyone has been thinking on Twitter. I don’t even have to go on Twitter to know that the BeyHive came all the way for you. Or maybe you haven’t. I looked you up on Twitter and surprisingly, the last tweet from you was on February 17th, the day before you decided to hit publish on t his hot mess of an article. Seems like you’re the type of person to throw a rock then run away.

After reading what you wrote, I came away with a few questions, the main one being ‘Who raised you?’ and then ‘Who hurt you?’ And finally, ‘Do you have any friends?’

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Conversation & Participation

I’m an introvert. It’s hard being an introvert and an author in the Social Media age because readers expect a lot from authors. Not only are we required to put out good books, but we are required to entertain and capture reader interest outside of the pages of our books. Despite every inch of my soul begging me not to, I try my best to put myself out there and interact with the people who like my work. Same holds true for a ton of other authors.

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Should You Hire an Editor That is Also an Author?

shutterstock_redpencilbigShould you hire an editor that is also an author? My answer to that is an emphatic YES. Here’s why.

A while ago on Facebook, I stumbled across an author venting about other authors who offer editing services. She was so far in her feelings that I didn’t know how she’d ever managed to get out. This author was very adamant in her stance that authors shouldn’t be editors and editors shouldn’t be authors.

Slow your roll, Nellie!

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Can we please get rid of the stars? No, not those stars

no starsI haven’t written a blog post in a minute. I had other shit to do. Sike. I didn’t have anything to do. I was just uninspired. But then I had one of those “JC, get your shit together” talks with myself so here I am.

A convo with a fellow avid reader this weekend got me thinking that maybe I should explain why I don’t leave reviews on Amazon and hardly leave them on Goodreads. After all, I am an author and I’m constantly out on the Internet streets begging for reviews. Plus, my friend really laid into me for not wanting to give this book 5-stars when I really liked it. After the whole “heffa, get out of my face” argument was over, I switched from Jose Cuervo to Earl Grey tea and considered all the things I should have said during our heated convo.

I remember when I was thinking of names for my editing company and the first thing that popped into mind was 5-star Editing. It sounded good because everyone wants a 5-star rated book, right? The problem was that I hate the star rating system and every variation of it so I couldn’t name any business associated with the Jackie Chanel brand after something I loathe.
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The Kindle Bookstore Doesn’t Have to be Your Only Source for e-Books

ereaderBy now, everyone who owns a Kindle or Kindle reading app knows that the Kindle Bookstore is a magical place with unsuspecting dark cavernous spots that make you rethink your existence as an e-book reader.

I have firsthand experience in the Kindle store, as a reader and an author, and I’m here to tell you that Amazon’s Kindle Bookstore has so many flaws that sometimes it’s just easier to find another source for eBooks than to wade through the muddied waters and quicksand that Amazon provides.

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Ashley Graham’s Sports Illustrated cover is SUPER Important…to me

I’ve never met Ashley Graham. I’ve never even heard of Ashley Graham. However, I have Sports Illustrated subscription. When her SI cover came across my Facebook newsfeed, I stood up at my desk and applauded my favorite sports magazine. (SLAM, I still love you though).

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Editor’s Note: The Devil’s in the Details

details quoteWe’ve all heard the saying, “the devil is in the details” or some variation of it. I’d like to think that this doesn’t apply to novels because a novel isn’t a house. It’s not an eloquently designed red carpet dress where yes, the devil is in the details. A novel is fluid and needs to flow smoothly. However, what I’ve come to notice is that when it comes to novel writing, sadly, the devil is in the details. These details can and will wreck havoc on your story.

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Writing Resources: Television

Let’s face it…writing something new, a story that hasn’t been told before just isn’t going to happen. Not in this day and age.

Authors, our job is not to reinvent the wheel. Our job is to entertain, educate, enlighten, and entertain. I know I said it twice but I had to. Entertainment is just that important. It’s the reason most readers (and all of my readers) buy a book.

So, instead of pulling out your hair as you search Goodreads or Amazon in frustration, seeing title after title of that ploy you just KNEW was your original idea, BREATHE! Grab a cup of coffee or tea and let’s hash this out.

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Chasin’ Dreamz Playlist

Every book I write has a playlist that I listen to almost exclusively while I’m writing. I spend almost as much time building this playlist as I do plotting the book and writing the character sketches. It’s that important because without the music to inspire me, nothing would ever get written. This is one of my favorite playlists so far…#2 behind the Untitled playlist…so I thought I’d share.

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How to Survive NaNoWriMo without losing your sanity (or hair)

Photo Oct 29, 3 36 35 PMFor newbies and veterans alike, National Novel Writing Month can be a harrowing experience. I’ve done NaNo four times and the first time, I was so stressed that I accepted my defeat and bowed out gracefully after 10 short days.
After having a number of successful books under my bet, I wonder why I get so excited when November comes around and survival means there better be an adequate amount of coffee and #writerfood in the pantry. I’m a successful author so why should I still be trying to crank out 50k words in 30 days? What point am I trying to prove?

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Thank You, Jackie

Jackie Collins sigToday is the eighth day that I’ve had to live in a world where my favorite author, my unofficial mentor, my inspiration, and the reason why I write no longer resides. It’s been a long eight days. I’ve finally come to terms with this therefore, today is the day that I’m able to say goodbye to Jackie Collins.

I was twelve when I discovered that life wasn’t all Ramona the Brave and Sweet Valley High. This realization came in the form of Nick and Lauren in American Star.

I fell in love with the way Jackie Collins told a story. I was fascinated by the way she showed the dirty and glamorous sides of Hollywood. I loved her behind the scenes all-access pass she gave her readers into a world most of us could only dream about.Then I met Lucky. Since reading Chances, I’ve chalked up a body count of books high in the thousands but no other character has held my attention like Lucky Santangelo.

I, like thousands of others, had the opportunity to meet Jackie Collins at a book signing. This was when I was writing my first book and was trying to get published. As soon as I walked through the bookstore door, I felt her presence. I was star struck. Her smile was warm and comforting. Her aura was magnetic. I found the courage to ask her what I should do in the face of consistent rejection from publishers and her advice still holds true today.

“No doesn’t mean stop and no doesn’t mean you’re not good enough. No just means you can’t give up. Just keep writing and trying. Someone will love what you do.”

John Mayer once said, “Who I am as a guitarist is defined by my failure to become Jimi Hendrix.”

The same holds true to me as an author. I picked up a pen and pad because I wanted to be the black Jackie Collins. I modeled my career path after hers. It was in my attempt to emulate my favorite author that I found my own voice, my own style, and was able to define Jackie Chanel as an author.

I used to imagine having a one on one conversation with Jackie Collins where we’d talk about writing and Hollywood and she’d share the secrets of her immense success. And I would finally get to say what I’ve always wanted to say. With her passing, I won’t be able to say that in person so I’ll say it now.

Jackie,

Your work awoke a sleeping giant in me. Each time I read a Jackie Collins novel, I want to become a better writer. Your work encouraged me to write more engaging characters, more thoughtful plots, but most importantly, you encouraged me to never ever give up on myself. You didn’t have to know me personally in order to be my motivation and inspiration. I have called you my unofficial mentor since the day we met in that bookstore. It’s a moment that I will never forget and you are a person that I hold very near and dear to my heart. As a reader, a fan, and a fellow author, my life changed as soon as I opened a Jackie Collins book. Thank you for just being the amazing woman that you are.

You will truly be missed.

xojc

 

September 13, 1996

2pac1

Where were you when you heard 2Pac died?

I was sitting in front of the television. I’d been glued to the same spot for hours every day, watching BET and MTV because they would be the first to report on any changes in his condition. I feared the worst and hoped for the best. This time, they broke into regularly scheduled programming.
While I can’t remember the exact words, I remember the soul crushing expression on Tavis Smiley’s face when he delivered the words I couldn’t bear.

“Rapper Tupac Shakur had passed away tonight.”

Tears poured from my eyes and would not stop. My sisters and mother crowded around me and hugged me and held me. I felt a sadness that I was all too familiar with.

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I’ve been Hoovered!!!

I’ve been Hoovered.

I didn’t see it coming at all.

Before I continue, let me issues this disclaimer…

Aside from Harry Potter and the Twilight books, I’m really not the type of adult that reads young adult or new adult books. I lurk around the genre and know the major players but I’m not searching for YA/NA when I’m buying books.

This is why I’m not exactly sure how I got Hoovered.

Colleen Hoover is a name that kept popping up in nearly every single on of my book recommendation emails. I saw some of her covers and thought they were gorgeous covers but not my cup of tea. One day, I’m trying to make room on my Kindle and I saw that I actually had Hopeless in my library. I don’t even know when I bought it.

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Dear Amazon…WTF?

KU-gift-lp-header._V308065772_I think I speak for a lot of authors when I say, I don’t know what the heck is going on with Amazon. In the recent weeks it seemed like they were sucker punching Indie authors in the gut for absolutely no reason. Then I realized, yep, they were sucker punching us. It was no longer a “seems like” situation. As of July 1st, it actually happened.

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Where’s My Book?

sinclair_lewis_writing_quote.jpg.scaled1000Being an avid reader is a tough job. You latch on to characters and your favorite authors all the time. There’s nothing like RELEASE DAY, espeically when you’ve pre-ordered that book MONTHS ago. Still, the feeling that comes with reading about the next phase of your faveorite character’s life is practically euphoric. And when you read the last page, nothing hurts worse than THE END. Because we, as readers, never want our favorites to end.

Sadly, they do.

Speaking from an author’s point of view, they have to.

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I Agree With Kanye (shocker, right?)

Normally, I don’t pay attention to Kanye’s rants but something about his post-Grammy rant stuck with me to the point that I was thinking about it when I woke up. Granted, Beck shouldn’t have to give his Grammy to Beyonce, but what Kanye said made absolute sense.
It made sense because his words don’t just apply to music or the Grammys. He’s talking about artistry and creativity.

“What happens is, when you keep on diminishing art, and not respecting the craft, and smacking people in the face after they deliver monumental feats of music, you’re disrespectful to inspiration. We, as musicians, have to inspire people who go to work every day, and they listen to that Beyoncé album, and they feel like it takes them to another place. Then they do this promotional event, and they’ll run the music over somebody’s speech, the artist, because they want commercial advertising. No. We not playing with them anymore. And by the way, I got my wife, my daughter, and I got my clothing line, so I’m not going to do nothing that would put my daughter at risk, but I am here to fight for creativity. That’s the reason why I didn’t say anything tonight. But you all knew what it meant when ‘Ye walked on that stage.” – Kanye West, 2.08.15

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Writing is NOT a Competitive Sport

Today is Monday. Duh. It’s the start of the week and the day that I have my weekly (as it seems) existential writer’s crisis. I don’t know exactly why I feel so disheartened by the business that I am a part, but I do. A couple of weeks ago, R&B singer Tank had a “meltdown” on Instagram regarding his album sales. While I’ve never been a big fan of his, hence I do not own any of his music, some of what he said hit me square in the heart.

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Fictionalizing emotional subjects is a form of therapy.

For those unfamiliar, National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriWo in laymen’s terms, is a big deal for authors. It’s when we try, some of us desperately try, to write a novel of at least 50,000 words in 30 days.
I’ve completed NaNo 3 years running and I plan on keeping my winning streak intact. This year, I’m not only challenging myself to complete a new novel, I’m going to explore a topic that is a scary place for me to visit.
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How did A Hustler’s Promise 3 Get Written?

AHP3 no shadowI eat, sleep, and breathe music. It’s no secret. Music is the plot of one of my most successful series. And it was music that guided me through the harrowing process of writing A Hustler’s Promise 3. Let me go back a bit…

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Authors and Readers…can’t we all just get along pt. 2

e8cf5ca0c0fb9fb8da67385825dfd2d1A few months ago, I addressed the growing discourse between authors and readers via Social Media. You can read that here. Recently, not that I give myself that much credit, but I’ve noticed that not much has changed. In fact, it’s getting worse. I don’t know what the problem is but I know how to fix it.

There needs to be a mandatory author-reader etiquette “class” implemented by Goodreads, Facebook, and other social media sites that you have to pass before you’re allowed to interact with readers and authors. The level of disrespect from readers and authors alike is off the charts. There should be a positive union between authors and readers because you can’t have one without the other.

There are too many incredibly talented authors ready to stop writing because readers keep crossing the line and too many authors losing readers because they don’t know how to act on social media.

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Sleep is for Suckers? Authors, Stop Feeding Into That Bulls^&t

****THIS IS A VENT…TURN OFF YOUR FEELINGS. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED****

I’m an insomniac. It’s not a fun thing to be. Do you know what it feels like for your body to be completely exhausted but you cannot sleep? Do you know that sleep deprivation is a method of torture? Depriving your body of rest adversely affects your brain and cognitive functions.

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Married At First Sight…what a concept!

In the midst of one of my self-imposed writer’s block episodes, I was tuned in to the Bio channel for a Kitchen Nightmares marathon. I absolutely adore Gordon Ramsay! Anywho, I found out that Bio was turning to FYI and they were coming out with a new reality show called Married at First Sight. Immediately, I was intrigued.

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I’m not obsessed…really, I’m not.

tumblr_l4o59kLUwn1qbi95uo1_500“I didn’t know you were a Mayer fan.”
“You like John Mayer? Why?”
It’s been asked before. Recently, it’s been asked more frequently since I’ve been posting more on Facebook about music. The questions come from all around. White people can’t believe I rock out to the Mayer regularly and Black people don’t understand why. I have so many blog posts (at least ten) on tumblr about why I am a tattooed John Mayer SUPERFAN. I’m not really big on sharing personal stuff with strangers, but maybe it’s time for my readers to know about something that is very important to me.
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Should I have a Street Team?

* in my Fresh Prince voice* Well, maybe I shouldn’t. Yeahhhh, of course I should.

I’ve been playing around with idea of a street team for months. It always seemed like so much work that I just didn’t have time for. However, after reading and talking to authors, I decided to give it a go and spent all weekend deciding what I wanted my street team to do and how I’d like it to function.

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Authors and Readers…can’t we all just get along?

angryreaderBefore I ever decided to write a novel, I was an avid reader. I read any and everything I could find…my books, my mother’s books, my sister’s books…you get the idea.

I own over 200 hardcover books, 150 paperbacks and my Ebook library has reached a point where I’d have to read a book a day for the next 3-4 years to read them all.

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