Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Interview with Jewel Amethyst

***Update*** The contest winner is Patsy!!! Congratulations!!!

I am so very happy to have brand new author Jewel Amethyst at my blog today. Jewel is a fellow member of the Dorchester Publishing family who launched into this crazy publishing world with both feet, having her debut novel, A Marriage of Convenience, and a novella in the anthology Holiday Brides (you’ll notice a familiar name on that cover) hit bookshelves within a couple months of each other.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Jewel!

First thing's first, when did you start writing?

I’ve been writing since I was seven years old. My first book was written in ink on 3 x 5 scrap paper, stapled together and covered with clear plastic. It was for my sister’s 10th birthday and it was all about princesses and happily ever after.

Since then, I’ve written poetry, short stories and other novels none of which were published until “A Marriage of Convenience.”

What is “A Marriage of Convenience” about?

In a nutshell, it is about a woman, Tamara Fontaine, who after being ditched at the altar and jilted by a con-artist who leaves her broke and in debt, becomes desperate enough to enter a pre- arranged green card marriage with a Ghanaian. It is a business deal where he gets his green card and she gets the financial help she so desperately needs. All seems to be going fine until Tamara finds herself falling in love with her husband, Kwabena Opoku, and Kwabena starts pushing to consummate the marriage.

What gave you the idea for this novel?

As an immigrant you hear stories of people entering marriages for the sake of attaining a green card and remaining in the US. But a few years back a friend of mine entered into a marriage strictly for the sake of obtaining a green card. Somewhere between the wedding and the interview, they fell in love and now years later are still happily married.

I realize your lead character is not your typical romance novel heroin, and being a “more to love” woman myself, I was happy to see it. What inspired her character?

You know, after reading one too many romance novels where the women are tall slim, shapely and extremely beautiful and the men are outrageously handsome and rich, I had to ask myself: “Don’t ordinary people fall in love?”

So Tamara’s is short and overweight. She loses weight and gains it back throughout the book, yet the focus is not on her weight, but on her inner beauty. Like me, she is very light skinned and has some issues with that. Yet she is smart and confident and witty. Physically and emotionally, I would say Tamara is a complex amalgamation of several people who have touched my life, including myself.

“A Marriage of Convenience” has been given a 4 star rating by Romantic Times and has received great reviews. Any tips for first time authors on successful novel writing?

Stick with it, and have a great editor. Monica Harris was my editor. She is excellent. Like most authors, “A Marriage of Convenience” was not the first book that I tried to get published. After receiving a thousand and one form letters of rejection, I decided to write a different novel and try to get it published. That too came with tons of rejection as many in the industry are unwilling to invest in new untried authors. But then just when I began contemplating self publishing, I got the call from Monica Harris that Dorchester publishing was interested in the book. The point is, no matter how many novels it takes you, keep writing them until one gets accepted. Have your friends or close associates read and critique your book, and use those as pointers for improving your writing.

So when can we expect more of your work?

“From SKB with Love” part of the Holiday Brides Anthology, featuring novellas by Stephanie Worth and Farrah Rochon, and Jewel Amethyst will be out on September 29th. It is a great read for all who believe in the happily-ever-after of romance. I also have a few WIP up my sleeve.

Jewel, thanks so much for sharing some of your story with us. I can't wait to delve into my copy of "A Marriage of Convenience.”

To celebrate the release of Holiday Brides, I'm going to give away a copy of the book to a lucky poster today!

Good luck!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Book Recommendations: Better Than Gold

If there’s one thing readers enjoy, it’s getting recommendations for other good books. I am first and foremost a reader, and other than the occasional browsing of a bookstore shelf for a cover that catches my eye, virtually all of the books in my “to be read” pile have come from recommendations from friends.

Over these past few days I’ve been reflecting on some of the great book recommendations I received from a very dear friend, one who I’m having a hard time accepting is no longer here. We had very similar reading tastes, so I never questioned when she told me “You have to read this book.” In fact, when she told me I had to read Richard North Patterson, I went out and bought all of his books just on the strength of her word. Of course, she was right.

She never steered me wrong when it came to suggesting reading material, but one of her recommendations did much more than provide entertainment. It changed my life as both a reader and, eventually, a writer. It was her insistence that I read Suzanne Brockmann’s series about Navy SEALs. At the time, I didn’t know what a Navy SEAL was, and after I found out I wasn’t all that interested in reading a romance about military guys. It’s a good thing my friend was so persistent. Not only did she open my eyes to a world of amazingly good stories, but I later used Ms. Brockmann’s writing style to study things such as characterization and deep point-of-view.

When my dear friend recommended those books, I’m sure she was only interested in introducing me to yet another wonderful read, but she gave me so much more. She played a part in helping me develop as a writer. Just one in a long line of things in our relationship that I’ll always be grateful for.

Have any books that have been recommended by a friend profoundly touched your life?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A different look at the shelving issue

As you probably noticed, I took a week or so off from the blog. I was on vacation and spent a week disconnected from everything. It was glorious!

I'm back, however, and blogging today at Novel Spaces about the always controversial issue of shelving African American books in their own special section of the bookstore. It's a practice I don't support; one I've discussed on this very blog several times.

At Novel Spaces I look at this issue from the reader's perspective. Hop on over and check it out and let me know what you think about this issue. You can find the post here: The Shelving Issue: Another Perspective.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Required Reading for a New Generation

It's back-to-school time again, and it has me in a certain frame of mind. I'm at Novel Spaces again, talking about required reading list for school kids. I want to know what are some books you would like to see on the list. I'm pretty sure Gossip Girl will never make it, but are there some modern favorites that should be read and discussed in schools? Hop on over to Novel Spaces and let me know!