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fiction

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Four Golden Rules of Being a Writer

Writing is art. Not the kind displayed in galleries, where patrons reflect on the intentions or musings behind the piece. To view our art, one must crack open a book, turn its pages and allow the artist to take you on a journey through the power of the written word. The writer is an artist. Our canvas is the blank page. With a stroke of our pen or rhythmic taps on keyboards, we paint with words, driven by passion to tell a story. When a writer paints from the heart, readers lose and find themselves within the pages. The content becomes real — a part of the reader, perhaps inspiring action or stirring up memories.

Hopefully, the information below proves helpful to those who share a love and passion for the written word.

1.  Stories are everywhere. Ideas are in everything. Writers write and write some more. Just start writing. Don’t get caught up in trying to the write the next great American novel or bestseller. Simply give yourself over to the creative process and write from the heart that which compels.

    • Don’t worry about the clean up when you’re writing a section or a scene. Transfer everything that’s playing in your head onto paper or a laptop. Somewhere during this phase, you’ll probably look over your piece and may even consider it worthy of the trash bin since, at present, it doesn’t resemble the literary masterpieces you’ve come to love.
    • Writers understand that writing takes time. Allow your canvas to fill up with the basics—ideas and thoughts.

2.  For me, once I’ve gotten a scene down, I must go back  and begin to flesh it out. This is where I begin to carve out the characters and scene. It is important, as the writer, to paint the picture. Whatever you imagine in your mind, the reader should be able to recreate a similar image from what you’ve written.

    • Not every detail of a leaf is necessary when it’s not the focal point of the scene or story. However, if detailing the leaf illustrates a character lost in thought or an artist’s keen eye for detail, perhaps an in-depth description is of importance.
    • Details add dimension to your canvas. Paint with sharp or subtle contrasting strokes to evoke a sentiment or emotion.

3.  Dialogue is key. How the characters communicate is just as important as the setting, if not more. Their interactions, vocal inflictions, little nuances that are specific to them add dimension and depth.  Adding these elements heightens character awareness.

    • Visualize and act out some of the conversations. Make the conversation real. So real, the reader feels as if they’re overhearing or eavesdropping on a private conversation.
    • Conversation adds color to your canvas. Paint with a vivid palette and watch your canvas come to life.

4.  Edit, edit and edit some more. You’ve finished your piece and are ready to shout, dance and jump for joy. Do all of those things, but recognize you are far from done. Your writing is nowhere near the masterpiece it can be and will be without proper editing.

    • Masterpieces take time to develop. Editing is where extraordinary things happen. To me, this is where creativity truly kicks in. You’ve gotten the story down, cleaned portions of it as you wrote, but now you it’s time to switch hats and become more critical of your piece. I can easily spend double the amount of time it took the write the piece in editing it. This is a potentially never-ending process, yet the most important.
    • Before you display your work, consider seeking the services of an editor. Their objective eye can provide insight into making your piece something truly unique.

Masterpieces are created, birthed from a thought and guided by ideas. Don’t rush the steps; don’t rush the process. Readers deserve great stories. How about we paint a few for them?

*Originally a guest blog featured  in October 2011.

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Fifty Shades of WHAT?!

50sojf

I do not recall what serendipitous happenstance or celestial alignment led me to LV Lewis, but all I can say is I'm glad it did. Before I continue, I must issue a bit of a disclaimer:

I'm a member of a small subset of earthlings who fall into the category of not liking the original bodies of work.

That said, back to LV. Just typing those two letters has me smiling and happy dancing in my chair while humming the chorus to Steve Wonder's "Jungle Fever" (I kid you not).

To rephrase a portion of my Amazon review: I'm hooked, I'm a fan, I'm all in! Chick had me at the Kente necktie featured on the cover and kept me with a female protagonist who is no slouch and despite the "ghetto" label in the series, she is anything but. Keisha is an intelligent, gifted sister who ventures into the music industry as co-owner with her college BFF, determined to succeed.

The man blessed to catch her eye and tug at her heart is an intriguing fellow, but not because of wealth or bewitchingly, mind-numbing good looks. Tristan brings to the table confidence that oozes from their initial run-in to her abrupt departure. He appears sure of himself and what he wants. Nothing deters him ... not even Keisha's initial reluctance to his offer. Also endearing are the strokes of vulnerability LV uses to paint Tristan. His is a heart carefully tucked away from himself and Keisha, although it becomes quite evident to the reader.

Both characters, it would seem, appear to hide from the truth of their emotions based on issues in their past. Interesting dynamics also arise in this D/s relationship between a caucasian man and an african-american woman. Just how will that work? I'll tell you this much, LV does not shy away from addressing the basics. Love that.

The chemistry between Keisha and Tristan is sizzling from the opening pages until the end. I shall refrain from going into any further detail. Read for yourself and enjoy.

My recommendation:  Grab a copy today.

By the way, the story doesn't end there. Here's the cover for Exit Strategy, which is due to be released shortly. Can you say fiyah? Click on the sexy cover to visit LV's website and read the first two chapters of Exit Strategy.  

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Writing Confessions

So the characters are back, occupying my sleeping and waking hours.

As Chase and Tia's story continues in this third book, I find that I cannot write or type fast enough to get every word down before they advance the scene or jump to another. Conversations, dealings, happenings and conscious streams of thoughts are taking place almost simultaneously. There is so much going on; so much they're addressing and I'm the one left with the task of making sense of it all. Writing the story as it unfolds; capturing it in a manner that you, the reader, can recreate in your mind. Daunting, really, but oh, so very worth it.

My process of writing is one of isolation. Shutting myself off from people and distractions allows me clear access into the story as it unfolds in my third eye. Therefore, I retreat, listen and watch either in my home office or bedroom where I'll type or sit visually capturing the mental images of the scene(s) as they play out.

There is no outline I write from. There is no point I consciously decide to include. The characters drive the story. They always have and they always will. The insertion of the actual events that have happened during the chunk of time in which the story takes place is another element I must keep track of. That alone is the single thing I admit to making a conscious effort to include, especially if I'm guided to believe it bears some relevance to the scene or story in general. Next are conscious streams of thoughts, or words of wisdom. I call them WoWs. Those, for me, are among the best. Well ... that and watching how Chase and Tia and their host of family and friends interact. That's the entire story, really. What am I saying? I love it all.

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PAR - The Photographer

There's something to be said for following your passion and inspiring others to do the same. Those who serve as inspiration should, too, also be inspired. All of life seems to be centered around the energy of giving and receiving and if done correctly, the journey is an incredible one. My brother-in-law Peter A. Richardson, PAR, is a damn good photographer. Two of his images were used as the front and back covers of my second novel, Never Said It Was Easy; additional images were used in the book trailer.

When you're willing to lie down on a bed of rocks, among the leaves, dirt and crawling critters just to get the right shot ... it is a passion.
When you're willing to lie down on a bed of rocks, among the leaves, dirt and crawling critters just to get the right shot ... it is a passion.

Each time PAR sends an email with a new image, I'm amazed at how something that seems so ordinary appears to be anything but when seen from the perspective of the photographer. The photos allow for a pause ... to reflect, appreciate and recognize the beauty in each.

Well, brother-in-law has launched a website showcasing his phenomenal gift for capturing and viewing life from a different perspective. Visit the galleries. If you fall in love with any prints, you can order in the format and size of your choosing.

Although I have an inkling of what I'd like to see for the front and back covers of my third novel, I'm waiting to see what else he captures. Some photo(s) may speak directly to the characters and my choice will be made for me. One thing I do know, PAR and I will be creating companion books featuring his evocative images spanning the glossy pages from top to bottom, left to right with excerpts from the novels in the Experience Life from a Different Perspective series.

Exciting times! And wait ... did dude really name one of the galleries 'Wood'? Now that's funny!

Check out the photographer in action.

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2013: A New Year

2013

2013 is here. Not sure if it's just me, but the years seems to be doing that quick calendar page-turning action indicating the speed with which time is whizzing by. WHIZZ! Whatever the case, we are here (never believed for a second we wouldn't be) and that means we are needed.

May this year and every day prove to be the stepping stone that continually catapults you towards your purpose, your dreams with arms spread wide and eyes truly seeing as you soar above those doubts, fears and insecurities that once held you back, but no longer. Embrace the possibilities that actively stir within you and, if you haven't already been doing so, get ready to live life in high definition.

Many new things to look forward to in 2013. Keep checking here or, if you prefer, my Facebook page for updates as we roll them out. I personally cannot wait to hit you with the third installment of Chase and Tia. Miss 'em? I'm sure you do.

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Meet the Ladies

The Harlem Holiday Doll Show was this weekend at LeRoy Neiman Art Center and as you read in a few Facebook updates or news posted on this site or by virtue of knowing me, I have developed a healthy obsession for these dolls. Tanya Montegut, creator of these precious, unique and splendid pieces, is the bomb diggity.

So as promised, I attended the event and did so with every appendage of limbs crossed in hopes of rounding out the females of the Experience Life from a Different Perspective series with a Megan and Stephanie acquisition. Well, guess what? I have indeed found my chicas! Meet the ladies in all of their fabulosity (don't give me the stank side-eye; look it up, according to Webster it truly is a word):

The-Ladies

Now in all honestly, I'm not sure if I'm done acquiring all of the women. There are still a few sisters who require representation and who knows what individuals will pop up in future novels. I certainly don't; we shall see.

Right now I'm all about acquiring the mens. So who's up first? Chase, of course. Then Derrick, then Peter, then David....

Interested in your own DollsbyMonTQ contact Tanya. The holidays are right around the corner ... think books and dolls!

Toodles!

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Introducing . . .

 
She was the complexion of a Hershey Kiss with black shoulder length wooly hair. Her hair had natural waves that came from opening twists and running your fingers through them to give them a bit of body.
— Never Said It Was Easy / mr
 
Katherine Richards

This description references Katherine Richards. While writing the sequel, the second Kat made her appearance, she quickly became one of my favorites in the series. I'm sure that as you read she will maneuver her way into your heart, as well. In my opinion, she is that good. Here she is in all of her fabulousness.

So what about Megan and Stephanie? What happened to them? In December I'll be attending the Harlem Holiday Doll Show at Leroy Nieman Art Center, expect for me to return from this event with a few more characters. Fingers crossed for Megan and Stephanie miniature embodiments to jump out at me and scream for me to take them home. We shall see.

Love Kat? Let Tanya know. Interested in attending the doll show, here's the information:

For three days I had the pleasure of attending (thanks to a friend) the Arts Off the Main exhibit at the Jacob Javits Center. While I was able to speak with many about my novels, I was in attendance to lend my support. This year, three shows were combined into one and some of the hottest talent in Crafts from around the country were able to share the spotlight with the likes of Woodrow Nash, George Nock, Franco Castelluccio, Stuart McClean and Edwin Lester. Well, Tanya Montegut of Dolls by MonTQ was present and you know the rest ... her dolls were a hit! What's not to love about sisters captured in miniature?

Although a number of Tanya's dolls spoke to me, they always do, one in particular held and kept my attention. My original thought was to round out the cast of It's Simple with either Megan or Stephanie or acquire both, so I was surprised when I found myself coming back to this doll and recalling a passage from the sequel, Never Said It Was Easy.

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Recap - Circle of Sisters 2012

As an author and a first-time vendor at this event, I must say I enjoyed myself immensely. One thing I enjoy slightly more than writing is conversing with lovers of literature and like-minded individuals about the things that matter most to them. Circle of Sisters at Jacob Javits provided that platform, allowing for this exchange of ideas and beliefs. So much so that at the end of the first day of this two-day event, my voice sounded much like sandpaper — coarse and gritty. Surely tea and a few hours of sleep would remedy this, right? Absolutely not. With one more day of this level of talking ahead of me, I was certain any and everything I uttered would be unintelligible and the sisters would give me the side-eye as I tried to answer their questions. I managed with the help of my incredible team: my daughter, Nia and my dear sisterfriends Nicole and Stephanie. On the first day, the husband and son also came out to lend their support. Love them! Of note, no matter how many events I attend, Tia Maddison and the cover photography of It's Simple are of primary interest. At Circle of Sisters this was no different. Not only was Tia her fabulous self, but this time she was rocking her one-of-a-kind Moetleh bag thanks to booth mate and bag creator, Winnie Burch.

CoS3

"Are you an interior designer?" I can't tell you how many times women and men thought It's Simple was about interior design or that I, myself, was an interior designer because, as they shared, the cover art was so "stunning", "beautiful" and "elegant." Incorporate the table presentation and the 5' x 8' banner, one could easily understand how that assumption could be made. However, after sharing that the cover art was a welcome into the lives of Chase and Tia and a taste of what's possible in their own homes as well as relationships, the women readily agreed that we need to associate positive self portrayal and beauty of our surroundings in the pages of literature and other forms of media when it comes to people of color. Each time I heard women or men, regardless of race, affirm this, I was refreshed.

The ensuing conversations were insightful, encouraging and filled with personal examples of the beauty in their lives. Some boasted years of happy married life; others years of struggle and therapy before the marriage became something each respected, wanted and finally cherished. I loved listening to others share their experiences and how those experiences shaped how they handled subsequent relationships. One such lively discussion took place minutes before the doors opened to the public on Sunday with vendors, male and female, passionately sharing their views on what each partner should bring to the onset of the relationship and what was needed to maintain it.

For every three positive exchanges, there was one negative. Belief in the possibility of better did not exist because their experience(s) had been filled with heartache, betrayal and pain. Hope for them wasn't an option nor a viable choice. Those exchanges saddened me, yet still I could not help but want more for them ... for us. But is it possible to experience better if you don't believe better is available? How can individuals exist without hope or a belief in something better? The reality and hard truth is, many live in that realm of disbelief and hopelessness. That is their universe and the orbiting stars, moons and planets align daily sending and sharing the same sentiment to its human creator. My reality is to write for both the believer and non-believer in hopes that some day, one day, some thing will awaken a seed of newness in their spirits and they will shift their outlook to reach for more.

Saturday and Sunday were filled with many of those exchanges, stories, dancing, lots of laughter and a whole lot of love and fun with participating vendors and those in attendance. The team even managed to take in the sights on the convention floor and the daughter, accompanied by her Auntie Nicole, met and posed with Nicole Ari Parker and Olympic swim team silver medalists. Lucky her.

Congratulations to the winners! Tina Billie and Charmaine Parker are the winners of the It's Simple Saturday and Sunday raffles. The lovely centerpieces featuring the sequel to It's Simple, Never Said It Was Easy now belongs to them. Enjoy!

As of this evening, Sunday, October 14th, my voice is still not a 100%. Yet in spite of this unfortunate occurrence, I look forward to attending Circle of Sisters 2013. Hope to see you there!

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Michelle Richardson on Good Morning Caribbean with LT Goodman

This Saturday, August 4, 2012, Michelle Richardson will be LT Goodman's special guest on Good Morning Caribbean-Weekend Edition (10:00 a.m. - 12 p.m.) at 11:00 a.m. Tune in and join us. It's sure to be a fun and insightful interview!

UPDATE

Enjoyed my time with LT Goodman this morning on Kallaloo Radio. The hour was an enjoyable one, full of laughter, insight and discussion. Thank you for offering a place where authors and others can share a bit of themselves with your listeners. It was truly my pleasure.

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It's Simple: Great Day in Harlem

WBLS hosted a Great Day in Harlem and we were there to support the community, meet people and talk about my series: Experience Life from a Different Perspective, of which It's Simple and Never Said It Was Easy are the first and second novels, respectively. For the most part, the weather was cooperative. There was only a passing thunderstorm that lasted all of ten minutes, if that long. Our children walked the streets, ate delicious food, purchased African art and jewelry, watched the fashion show, listened to soulful tunes from a vendor who digitized the vinyl classics and were finally serenaded by Freddie Jackson under the stars. It was another great Saturday in Harlem and my husband and I fondly expressed to our children, during our drive home, how much we miss the city. Living out in the suburbs, at times, you can feel disconnected.

Folks tend to run from the city once Friday rolls around to enjoy the beach or tranquility of the Hamptons; we seem to run to the city. When you no longer live among the noise that once lulled you to sleep as a youngster, you find yourself missing it.

Photos: Radiant Amar Photography

Dondré (my son in the background)

Tia Maddison (Dolls by MonTQ)

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Michelle Richardson featured in Harlem World Magazine

You really have to love surprises. Do you know the kind I'm talking about? No? Well, it's the kind where the word oblivious best suits you; the kind where your face is truly twisted in confusion before you actually realize what just happened. I attended the Harlem Book Fair on Saturday, July 21 with my crew and daughter and we had an absolute blast chatting with readers and authors before taking ourselves over to Spoonbread Too to dine on fine authentic Southern cuisine. After all, we deserved it. We worked hard and our tired feet sung a similar tune, but I digress. Food does that to me.

Anyhoo, here's the write-up I was greeted with this morning. Thank you Eartha Watts-Hicks.

Harlem World Magazine

Michelle Richardson and her daughter, Nia

Nia and MR

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