Annnnnd we’re back on schedule. Happy Monday, folks! Let’s do this!
I have a confession to make. I fangirl a lot over authors whose books I love, but Savannah brings out some serious fangirling. LOL, I’m amazed I kept my cool when I met her last year at RT. I’m not a big on rereads, but I love revisiting Benjamin and Coralee from Being Plumville when I need a pick me up. It’s the friends to lovers trope. TUGS AT MY HEARTSTRINGS EVERY SINGLE TIME! 💕💕💕
Get to know a little about the woman who penned one of my favorite slow burn romance novels! Take it away Savannah…
I always find author interviews kind of boring. We only get to see one side of an author, the polite side. If you had an evil doppelganger, what detail would they enjoy revealing about you to the public that people would find surprising and possibly questionable?
Right out the gate, huh? LOL, uh, this is probably tame for other people, but I have had a booty call! And that’s where I’m going to leave that.
Name one habit/behavior you’re trying to improve.
Hoarding my stories. I have a lot that haven’t seen the light of day. They’re collecting dust. I need to do better about sharing.
Finish this sentence: Success and happiness __________.
Are what I want but I’m so afraid to actually have.
What was your gateway romance novel?
I don’t remember the very first one, but the first one to leave an impact is Sandra Kitt’s The Color of Love. I still go back to that novel.
Say you’re selected to compete on Jeopardy. Who are your opponents?
Jon Snow because he knows nothing and Jeff Sessions because he recalls nothing.
This is a morbid question, but I think it gives a great deal of insight into someone’s personality. At your memorial service, what song do you want to be played?
“Psalm 23” as sung by the Kuumba Singers of Harvard College (if you squint on the right, you can see me singing).
What’s the last book you borrowed from the library?
An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole. Still going through it. Still in my feels.
What’s a current cultural phenomenon you want nothing to do with?
#MAGA. It’s not about progress; it’s about reverting the country back to the time where nobody but propertied white men had a say in how the government and the society are run.
What’s one piece of writing advice that has always stuck with you?
“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” –Toni Morrison
Name three romance novels you think everyone should read right now.
Indigo by Beverly Jenkins; Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare; Glutton for Pleasure by Alisha Rai.
Ever tried BDSM? If not, would you?
Savannah J. Frierson realized writing was her calling her junior year of high school. She completed her first original work, Reconstructing Jada Channing, as her senior thesis at Harvard University, earning the 2005 Dorothy Hicks Lee Prize for most outstanding thesis concerning African or African-American literature. In 2007, Savannah released her first novel, Being Plumville, which earned Savannah SORMAG Readers’ Choice Awards in 2007 and an Emma Award nomination for Debut Author of the Year at the 2008 Romance Slam Jam Conference. She has also spoken at several book fairs, including the South Carolina Book Festival, Capital Bookfest in Charleston, South Carolina, book clubs, radio shows, and classes about her work.
Savannah is dedicated to social justice issues, especially those concerning Black womyn. She is dedicated to ensuring representations of Black womyn are as full of breadth, life, and vitality as they exist in the world.
For more information, please visit www.sjfbooks.com.
SJF Books Website | SJF Books Facebook | SJF Books Twitter
Activate your one-click finger! Savannah’s latest release is The Sight: City of Sin, the eleventh book in the City of Sin Collection.
I know, I know. I was supposed to resume blog posts after NaNoWriMo, but I decided to take the rest of the year off and concentrate on fiction writing. It was a good decision. #noregrets
We’ll resume our regularly scheduled programming on Monday, January 8th.
*whistles* Folks, 2017 was a heck of a year.
Depressing is an accurate description. The first few months of the year was me trying not to keel over from an aneurysm after reading the daily news about shit-show that is the White House administration. I’m sure a lot of people found themselves in a similar posture. I wasn’t writing. I had no desire to write. An overwhelming feeling of despair overshadowed everything. I was angry and frustrated. Some peace came when I found a couple of Facebook groups full of romance writers and readers who felt as I did. Chatting with them and venting made things slightly better for me. Comradery in those groups, along with Twitter, helped me make it through a super rough part of the year. Shout-out to romance readers, writers, and bloggers in the Resistance!
Officially, my groove came back when I attended RT in May. Romantic Times was my first major book event and signing, and it was also the spark that set my writer soul on fire. Never in a million years did I anticipate readers seeking me out to say they’d read and loved my work. *in my Keanu Reeves voice* Whoa.
After RT, the flames kept burning. I attended my first RWA conference. Then, in September, I attended the Brooklyn Book Festival and the Baltimore Book Festival. I was on a roll. Gooo meeee!
But allow me to get a little more personal and tell you how 2017 changed my perspective as an author and how these changes have guided my career moving forward. Let’s begin with…
The One Thing No One Likes to Talk About: Money
Ready for some blatant honesty? I’m not making any money, meaning I’m not bringing in stellar bucks. SHOCKING, RIGHT? Not really. I’ve only published five stories: three short stories, one novella, and one novel. I have a long way to go before writing can be a sustainable full-time career, but guess what?
I mentioned the dreaded M word.
At this stage of my career, I spend more money than I take in. For now, I’m fine with that because I’m building an empire. #bossladygoals I’m more than certain things will change in the next two-to-three years. My number one goal has always been to make back the money I’ve spent on covers and editing. That’s it. Not everyone shares the same mindset as me, and that’s okay. There are some authors who want to see an ROI immediately. We are all on different paths. There is no absolute right or wrong way to guide your writing career. Okay, there is a wrong way (not researching the market properly, not caring about your product enough to make it shine, spamming any and everyone all day every day with your book promotion, being a dick to readers and authors, etc.), but I think you know where I’m going with this. We do what works best for us at that moment.
Money doesn’t guide my writing decisions. I write the types of stories that excite me, and I self-publish. If something I write is considered “a flop” I don’t see it as a failure. Even in failure, there are lessons to be learned. With each release, I’ve learned something about myself as an entrepreneur, and those lessons guide me daily.
Spending some serious ching in 2017 led to a lot of wonderful experiences, and I know for certain it was a worthwhile investment. I’m investing in myself and my business, and I believe my investments have enabled me to network and connect with individuals I wouldn’t have had access to in the beginning of my career.
I’m inching forward and setting myself on a path of greatness, and holy crap is it exciting!
Keep it Real
In 2017, aside from spending $$$, I also took more chances. To some degree, I stopped giving a fuck, and boy was it freeing. As an author—let me rephrase—as a black romance author, I have always been very cognizant of my image and branding. I want to be perceived a certain way. While my marketing has enabled me to build a small following of readers who enjoy what I write, I also realize that it doesn’t matter if I’m the best marketer or the best writer in the world, there will be individuals who will never choose to read my work. My type of romance will not be everyone’s jam, and that’s perfectly okay.
Instead of trying to win everyone over, I’ve chosen to cultivate an intimate relationship with readers who are eager to expand their romance-reading horizons. They want to see more PoC in stories. They want to see more LGBTQIA+ people in stories. They want to read about non-Christian characters. They want to read about heroines, heroes, and non-binary folks who are coping with mental illness. Good lord, there’s a demand for stories featuring REAL humans dealing with REAL issues! LOL, insane, right? When I craft my romances, I’ve always written with realism in mind. I know there is an audience for my material, and I want to keep that audience coming back for more. It’s one of the reasons I’ve started writing short stories exclusively for my newsletter subscribers as a way to thank them for joining me on this journey.
Email addresses are gold, and if someone is willing to give you access to their inbox, you’d better do your best to keep em satisfied.
After three years in publishing, a lightbulb finally came on— I think the 2016 election had a lot to do with my awakening— I always want to see the best in people. I want to be positive and spread love and cheer, but I also believe in putting in the work. I recently read an article that said to pay attention, not only to the words people say and their actions but whether or not they’re consistent in their speech and their actions. In 2017, I chose to focus on being consistent with my intentions and surrounding myself with other author folk who abide by the same rules. I finally got a handle on my tribe. In 2016, I was building it little by little, but now I have a solid foundation of author friends.
Making friends as an adult is hard. Making friends as an author is like pulling teeth. There are people who are friendly and outgoing and want to befriend everyone. *raises hand* Then there are people who aren’t very trusting because they’ve been burned. *raises hand again* If I let the people who’ve burned me keep me away from seeking out new friends, I’d be doing this writing thing alone.
No one can survive alone. No one. Working solo in a bubble can only take you so far. We all need the assistance of others in some form. Authors need other authors in order to succeed. Individual efforts matter, but collaborative efforts also go a long way toward success. Many authors helped me in 2017, and I am so incredibly grateful to each and every one of them and their unique assistance. Because of them, I’m more productive than I’ve ever been, and I have a clear vision of my career trajectory.
2017 has changed my mindset.
Spending money is a necessary evil. I no longer hem and haw when I have to shell out $$$ to ensure I’m making the right moves as an entrepreneur.
Not giving a fuck is freeing. I’ve lost some readers, and I’ve gained some readers. I’ve been unfriended, unfollowed, blocked; you name it. I will not be everyone’s cup of tea, and that is A-okay. Being my authentic self is all that matters in the end. Well, that and writing a quality story. LOL. I don’t want to be an authentic person who writes crap. I’m always trying to hone my craft!
Being consistent with your intentions garners support in ways that may surprise you. Never be afraid to ask questions. Never be afraid to ask for help. Never be afraid to tell people they inspire you. Do not be afraid to put yourself out there. Everyone will not love you. Everyone will not like you. But it’s important to have people within the writing community who have your back. Writing is a solitary gig, so find people who get you and want to help you succeed. Like any other community, the romance writing community has its ups and downs. The ride has a tendency to get a little bumpy, so strap in tight and make sure you’re seated next to people who are ready to hold your hand through it all.
In a very odd way, the horrible beginning of the year helped me to round out the year on a good note. I may not be able to control what happens in the White House or in our nation, but I chose to focus on things I can control, and it’s been the most therapeutic form of self-care ever.
2018 has already kicked off in stellar fashion. Here’s hoping the rest of the year brings forth many more opportunities for prosperity!
We interrupt our regularly scheduled spotlight feature to bring you a NaNo prep post.
Spotlights will be on hold for November and return on Monday, December 4th.
Hard to believe we’re getting to the nitty-gritty of the fall season! Come November 1 I will embark on my second year of National Novel Writing Month.
Here are some tips that helped me get through last year—maybe they’ll help you too:
Pick a novel you WANT to work on, not one you NEED to work on
NaNoWriMo should be fun. Being forced to write something you don’t enjoy sucks. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know you have a contract and need to get the next book in your series done, but if the book isn’t something you’re super excited about, table it for after NaNo. I want your fingers to fly across the keyboard to the point where you’re destroying your daily word count.
Clean your house/apartment
Procrastination likes to nudge. You know how it gets you? By whispering in your ear that your tub needs scrubbing, the kitchen floor needs mopping, or those three loads of laundry need to be done right now. NaNo lasts for an entire month. It’s inevitable that you’ll have to get in some light cleaning, unless dust bunnies and mildew are your jam, but don’t let the heavy-duty jobs suck you in. If you need to clean your oven or defrost your fridge do it now. Need to regrout that bathroom tile? DO IT NOW. Kick distraction’s ass and make your home shiny and sparkly in the process.
Create a playlist
Soundtracks are my life. For every single project I work on, I create a playlist that represents my couple. The songs are indicative of my characters’ personalities as well as the trajectory of their relationship. I also organize the songs by scene. This helps IMMENSELY when I’m stuck or need the motivation to power through and exceed word count goals for the day. Let’s face it, some days writing isn’t the thing we want to do. Watch movies? Sure. Watch porn? You betcha. Write? Womp womp womp. Not always. All it takes is a day of falling behind for your NaNo to get completely derailed. When you feel yourself walking near the pit of despair, cue up the playlist! It helps, I swear.
Get your food on
If you’re unable to get to the grocery store to stock up on noshables, try one of those home delivery services. FreshDirect, PeaPod, Blue Apron or whatever is available in your area. Life can be crazy hectic, why not scratch food shopping off your to-do list? These websites will help you, and your loved ones won’t starve to death in the process. I mean, do you really want your cats to eat your carcass?
Have some sort of outline ready to go
As a former panster, this is the holy grail of preparation. Your framework can be as detailed or as bare-bones as you’d like, but for chrissakes, have something to guide you. I find that when I don’t outline, I get stuck. My brain is like WUT. WUT IZ WERDS? Don’t self-sabotage, peeps.
Ditch social media
Yep, I said it. If you’ve been following the news today, would it be so horrible to tune out for a bit? #indictmentMonday #KevinSpaceyiscanceled
Social media can become an unwanted distraction. Some people can multitask and log into their fave website and be totally fine. Me? I see something that freaks me out, and my writing comes to a grinding halt. Last year, I was doing GREAT up until the election. I had to really dig deep to finish NaNo, and time spent on social media only made my finishing more challenging. So, if you know social media is a trigger that can stifle your progress, delete all the apps. Worst case scenario, have a loved one change your passwords and not tell you until Nov 30th. Drastic times call for drastic measures. I WANT YOU TO SUCCEED!
Even if you don’t hit 50k, whatever words you end up with are more than you had at the beginning of the month. That’s progress! Celebrate your victories no matter how big or small.
And that’s it for my NaNoWriMo prep. Easy peasy.
I love seeing those glorious word counts on my dashboard! And for each night I exceed my word count, I intend to reward myself with Outlander episodes. Maybe a little Mindhunter too.
Here’s to hoping you kick ass next month. If you’re registered on the NaNoWriMo website, add me as a buddy! See you in December!