Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Meet The Mainstream Author

Tinisha Johnson

Francis Ray

Angela Benson

Tia McCollors

Beverly Jenkins

Electa Rome Parks


Ms. B said...

Morning SORMAG on line conference attendees. I hope you enjoy the conference. If you have any questions just post them. Looking forward to hearing from you all. B Jenkins

Anonymous said...

Hello I'm one of the mainstream authors - Tinisha Nicole Johnson. I consider myself a mainstream author because I write in various genres. I've written a mystery novel entitled Searchable Whereabouts, I write poetry, I was co-author of an inspirational book, Somebody Prayed for Me, which is up for nomination for the African American Litrary Award show in the category of 'Best Anthology.' Please vote for this book at the following site: www.literaryawardshow./voting.html

I've also written a romance ebook, entitled "Unexpected." And I'm currently working on other projects in other genres as well, including my upcoming non-fiction book, Lessons Learned: Loving Yourself As A Black Woman. <

To learn more about me as an author and to read excerpts of any of my books, please visit my website:

LaShaunda said...

For Beverly:

I had the pleasure of attending a PJ party and wishing I can attend this year.

Can you tell us what inspired this event and any plans you can share for this year?

P.S. I highly recommend attending a PJ party in your lifetime. You wont' regret it.

LaShaunda said...

Welcome panel! Thanks for stopping by today.

A few of you came from romance and moved to mainstream. Can you offer some advice to those who are considering this move?

Ms. B said...

Hey there. The PJ came about as a way for me to say thanks to my fans. It has grown into quite the event. we throw it every two years. This year it will be in Oct. Looking forward to it. Even though it takes an amazing amount of energy and work, my fans are worth it! B

Angela Benson said...

Hi, I'm Angela Benson. I'm honored to serve on the panel with my sister authors today. I'm in a celebratory mood because my most recent novel, Sins of the Father, was released yesterday.

I write what I call inspirational family drama. In my stories, the main characters are related, the story problem threatens to break the family bonds in some way, and the faith of one or more characters is challenged.

In The Amen Sisters, twin sisters are at odds because one joins a cult. In Up Pops the Devil, a drug dealer becomes a Christian while in prison and decides to leave the drug business that he ran with his sister. In Sins of the Father, a man with two families attempts to bring them together.

My stories also have ensemble casts, with 3-5 point-of-view characters.

That's it for me. Please jump in with your questions and comments.

Ms. B said...

I don't have any advice, but moving back and forth between genres is work - especially going between historicals and mainstream contemporary. Love the historicals the most. B

Ms. B said...

Congrats, Ms. Angela! Last year around this time we were on a bus touring WalMarts! LOL Glad to hear you are doing well. B

Angela Benson said...

Thanks, Bev! I really did enjoy that trip, especially spending time with you and the other authors.

As for moving from romance to mainstream, I don't think I had a plan to do it. I turned in the last book of my contract to Tyndale and they said, "this is not a romance." I couldn't turn it into a romance so we parted ways. That book went on to become my first mainstream novel, The Amen Sisters.

I think you write from a personal place. As a single woman, I found writing romance draining after a while. Maybe it was hard to keep writing "she found her man" when I hadn't found mine.

I think moving beyond the single relationship story allowed me to explore more of the things going on in and around my life, thus making the stories more self-expression for me.

Okay, what I wrote makes a lot of sense to me. Now does it make sense to anybody else?

Ms. B said...

Angela. Writing whay you are not feeling can make you stressed. I had a real tough time doing romance after the death of my husband, so I understand. Doing this mainstream thing is very freeing in a way because you get to step outside the box. B

Francis said...

Hello Authors and Readers,
It's wonderful to be here. Enjoy yourself and thank you so much for supporting all of us.

Francis Ray

Francis said...

LaShaunda said...
A few of you came from romance and moved to mainstream. Can you offer some advice to those who are considering this move?

In a mainstream novel the focus of the story is not romance but, character's growth. In mainstream you can have two or more stories- plot lines going on at the same time. This makes for a bigger book.

Angela Benson said...

Beverly, I appreciate your sharing. I know that had to have been a hard time for you but I think it illustrates that when writing is your business you really can't be all emotional about it. You have to write through whatever you're going through.

What I didn't say in my tale is that my last book with Tyndale came out in 2001 and The Amen Sisters came out in 2005. That's a long time to go without a new book or a check. If I hadn't had a day job, I may have found a way to turn that Tyndale story into a romance. after all. :)

This business is not for the faint-hearted.

Francis said...

Good point Angela. Many new or would be authors are under the assumption that if they publish one book they'll get mega bucks.

'Cilla said...

Hello Everyone....
Most of you know me. I am a HUGE fan of everyone and I have read everyones books. I am also a reviewer for APOOO. My question - what bothers you the most about reviewers?

From Tia's Pen said...

Hi everyone -
First all let me add that I posted late comments on the first day about moving from idea to go back to day #2 and catch up if you can.

As for me, I'm not sure if I really truly fit in the "mainstream" category. It depends on who you talk to.

I'm mostly grouped in the inspirational fiction category, but lots of folks called my first novel, A Heart of Devotion, a romance. This is true of my latest August 2009 release, The Last Woman Standing. I never intended to write a "romance" but I don't mind being "grouped" wherever people put me.

This latest book has the faith element seamlessly weaved into the plot, I believe. I've received comments from readers across the board.

Write what you love and write the story you're compelled to tell...your readers will find you (or you'll find them with a little creative marketing).

The other side of it is the "practical" side. Like Angela said, 5 years is a long time to go when making a "transition," but the "testimony" should be focused on the fact that she's back!!!

Another side note: I was at a conference this past summer and it was mentioned that romance was really hot right now :-)
Other notes:
Congrats Angela on the latest release! Let me know if you need anything.

Francis -- I've always been a fan@

Ms. B said...

Angela you and Francis are so right. You have to be tough to be in this business and none of us can afford to hire somebody to peel grapes for us - at least not yet. LOL. We tell our stories for the joy of storytelling. Lord knows few of us are getting rich. Except for maybe Nora Roberts. According to a New Yorker article, her books took in 60 million last year. B

Ms. B said...

Cilla. I try not to let reviewers bother me. Not everyone is going to like everything, and sometimes legitimate criticism can be very helpful, if you don't take it personal. B

Ladysilver said...

Great question 'Cilla.

I am an avid reader and have read books by each of you at one point or another. Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. it is refreshing to see authors who take the time to talk with their fan base.

Rachel Berry said...

Greetings fellow authors,

I'm a newbie to the scene but enjoy all of your seasoned company and advice. I find that I write mainstream because my characters tell their life story which includes suspense, romance, drama and all the other usual lifetime elements. I was glad to find the genre of mainstream since I didn't fall into any of the other categories. I agree that you should write what's inside and the readers will identify you and your saga. My first novel "Family Pictures" which I just released this March is 672 pages. I stopped writing when the characters stopped talking. I lived with that huge family for at least a year and even when I went back to rid the story of characters that weren't needed I got rid of three and about thirteen was the end results. I've gotten wonderful feedback on the story by my readers but hope the people in my next story have less to

Ladies keep up the soul work and being the inspiration that you all are!

Francis said...

Thank you so much Tia for your kind comment.

Angela Benson said...

Hi, Tia, my mom wants to come to your signing. Please send me the info again. Don't make me look for it.

About reviews, I'm only bothered when the review gives away too much of the story. Most reviewers give just the right amount to tease but some tell a bit too much. To be honest though, I've only had such an experience a couple of times over twelve books so maybe it's not much of an issue at all.

Angela Benson said...

Thanks for the kind words of support, Cilla.

Tia said something about romance that always seems to be true -- it's hot. Romance sells all the time. All the subgenres don't sell at the same level but they do sell. I think that's because of the "happily ever after" endings. People like the idea of knowing they're picking up a book that going to end on a happy note. That's probably why they're selling even in a downmarket like now.

What do you think?

Francis said...

Thanks Beverly.

Author Shelia E. Lipsey said...

I have enjoyed reading all of your comments and information today. Francis Ray and Angela Benson, I hope I get the privilege of meeting you in person one day! I don't mean that I don't want to meet the other authors, because I do, but Francis and Angela have been in the game a long time and I'm learning that they are right about the literary industry. It is not for the faint hearted.

Deltareviewer said...

Authors - when did you know that you had the gift of telling/writing stories?

BTW - I've something from all of you...keep those stories coming.

Ms. B said...

Delta. I knew when I was about 13, or so. I would tell stories to my sisters at night when we were supposed to be sleep. I dedicated my western, Topaz to them. Great question. B

Francis said...

You are to kind. Thank you.

I hope to meet you as well to give you this [extra huge hug].

Francis said...

Deltareviewer said...
Authors - when did you know that you had the gift of telling/writing stories?

I'm not sure if even now, I think I have the gift. Every book I write is just as difficult as the one before. The only thing that I do know is that I want to tell a story about good people who, despite adversities will find within themselves the strength and courage to overcome and find a love that will last a lifetime.

Ms. B said...

Thanks for a great day everybody. It's now dark here in Mayberry, which means time for me to get to work. LaShaunda thanks so much for the invite. I had fun.
See you all soon. B

'Cilla said...

Thanks everyone .. SORMAG.. this is great.. And to all the authors... I got your book on my calendar.. can't wait to read them :-)

Francis said...

Goodnight and good luck to everyone and may your dreams come true.

Angela Benson said...

Oh, no, the party's over and it's all dark in here.

Thank you, Sheila, I know what you mean. But Bev was right there, too. Her first book for Avon, Night Song, came out in the launch month of Arabesque, if I'm not mistaken. We have been around a long time and we've attained different levels of success. Then there are authors who started after we did who have surpassed us in terms of sales and recognition. That's just the business, as you know.

Deltareviewer (that you, Monique?), I started writing in fifth grades. We would write stories each week and read them to the class. They all clapped for mine. I can't even explain how much that did for my confidence. Anyway, I don't remember pursuing writing after fifth grade. It was some twenty years later before I started writing again.

I guess I'd better leave now. Not only did y'all turn off the lights, you didn't even leave a sistah any leftovers. Shame on you!

Unknown said...

hi, all.

francis, thanks so much for sending me the autographed copy of your book.

angela, i'm still laughing at what you said at the faith and fiction retreat

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