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Monday, October 29, 2007

Great Posts on Race and Romance

The discussion about race and romance is starting up again and there have been several great posts on the topic from my sister authors. You can check them out by visiting the links below and share your two cents. I will probably share my fifty 'leven cents when I'm done with this manuscript... But for now, I'm ghost... See you when I get back in the blogesphere.

  • I Really Wish I Gave A Damn, Adrianne Byrd


  • Readin Writin Racism Romance, Seressia Glass


  • A Post on Black White Race Discussions by a Professor


  • Ch-ch-changes, Black Romance Reader


  • Check them out and add your voice to the discussion.

    much love and peace,

    Gwyneth

    Saturday, October 27, 2007

    Great Post on the Romance Slam Jam



    Deatri King-Bey has an excellent post on the Romance Slam Jam on Dionne Galace's blog. You can check the post out here:

  • Deatri King-Bey Presents Romance Slam Jam: A Slice of Heaven


  • And you can find out more about the Romance Slam Jam here:

  • Romance Slam Jam Website


  • Have a great weekend! I'll be away from the blogosphere for a minute. But I'll be back after I've made my deadline... or close to it. :-)

    Gwyneth

    Friday, October 26, 2007

    De-Lurk Day



    So I found out from the wonderful Elle Ph.D's blog that today is De-Lurk Day. See what happens when you have your head in a book or you're busy handling important business like reading other blogs and stuff? Anyway, since I haven't done a de-lurk post yet, I thought I'd take advantage of the day. So if you're reading this, say hi. Hi!

    much love and peace,

    Gwyneth

    Thursday, October 25, 2007

    This Is How We Do The Old To The New...Thursdays

    It's about a banging track...

    Who doesn't remember MTUME's "Juicy" from the 80s? The track just pulls you in and you can feel the desire and passion that the lyrics express. It's a banging track so of course the Bad Boy camp had to resurrect it in the 90s with the late Notorious BIG's "Juicy." "It was all a dream. I used to read Word Up Magazine. Salt-N-Pepa and Heavy D in the limousine. Hanging pictures on my wall..." And because banging tracks don't go out of style, of course producer "supa dupa fly" Missy Elliot had to flip it for the 21st century in Keysha Cole's "Let It Go." This song has become a ladies’ anthem. I know I rocked it on my MySpace page for more than a minute and quiet as it's kept a sista has it as her ring tone right now. I think the reason why this song is speaking to so many folks now has to do with the liberating lyrics and the "Juicy" legacy. But mostly I think the reason this track has spaned three decades with hits is because it's banging! :-) Enjoy!

    MTUME “Juicy Fruit”



    Biggie Smalls “Juicy”



    Keysha Cole “Let it Go”

    Tuesday, October 23, 2007

    Working hard or hardly working?



    You ever feel like you have so much to do that there is no way you can possibly get it all done? Have you ever felt that way and then decided it was time to do something super important like update your Meez or add some books to your Shelfari page? If you have, then I like you very much. You are my kind of people! If you haven't... so what goody-two-shoes. ;-)

    Okay, back to work for me...

    much love and peace,

    Gwyneth

    Great Post on Readers, Romance and Book Buying

    Adrianne Byrd has a thought-provoking post on her blog about changes in the romance industry. This is important information for readers and writers to know... Check it out here:

  • The Bottom Line, Adrianne Byrd


  • much love and peace,

    Gwyneth

    Sunday, October 21, 2007

    Teach Me Tonight: Gwyneth Bolton - Sweet Sensation

    Laura Vivanco at Teach Me Tonight: Musings on Romance Fiction from an Academic Perspective has done a wonderful analysis of my latest novel, Sweet Sensation . The funny thing about writing fiction as someone who has done literary analyses on the works of others is that I'm usually not aware of themes in my own creative writing. Reading Laura's great analysis I was reminded of the time I presented a paper on Nalo Hopkinson's novels at the Blacks in Science Fiction conference at Howard University a few years back and Nalo was in the audience. After my paper I talked with her for a moment and she told me that she had no idea that all the stuff I was talking about was in the novel but she could sort of see it after listening to my paper. (I'm paraphrasing here; it was a little while ago.) I'm also reminded of when a colleague in my department read I'm Gonna Make You Love Me and told me she loved how I worked in critique of masculinity in there. I had no idea there was one in there. But, here is what I've come to understand. As much as I try and keep my academic self separate from my creative self, they do merge often. So, when I look at Laura's analysis and what she found in Sweet Sensation it makes sense that she'd find all this cool stuff about the power words and language... I'm a rhetorician by training. I guess I can't keep them separate after all...

    Anyway, check out Laura's analysis here:

  • Teach Me Tonight: Gwyneth Bolton - Sweet Sensation


  • much love and peace,

    Gwyneth

    Thursday, October 18, 2007

    This Is How We Do The Old To The New...Thursdays

    Sometimes... It's about a song...

    Today's pick is the Ojays classic "Cry Together." Am I the only one who thinks there's something a little bit sexy about a guy who can allow himself to be vulnerable enough to shed a tear or two? Especially a guy who is caring enough to shed a tear because his woman is crying... Now I'm not talking about some whining and childish temper tantrum throwing brother like Kanye West when he doesn't win an award. But I think y'all know what I mean. Anyway, that's why this song and the beat has been recycled so much... it's so romantic... :-)

    I couldn't find the Ojays version alone on You Tube. But I did find the remake by Prophet Jones and a nice mix of the Ojays, Lil Mo, JA RULE, and The Diplomats. So enjoy!

    Prophet Jones "Cry Together"



    "Cry Together" Mix of Various Versions by the O’Jays, Lil Mo, Ja Rule, The Diplomats



    much love and peace,

    Gwyneth

    Tuesday, October 16, 2007

    Great Post on Young Men, Masculinity and Emotions

    Folks, Angelia is really dropping some powerful seeds of insight and inspiration on her blog today! Go on over, check it out and comment!

  • Emotional and Unprepared



  • much love and peace,

    Gwyneth

    Monday, October 15, 2007

    FYI: Wear Red on October 31, 2007 (Ending Violence Against Women of Color)

    I found out about this via e-mail and thought I'd pass it on... See below:


    Hello Sisters,

    Recent events in the United States have moved us to action. Violence against women is sadly, not a new phenomenon in our country or in the world, however, in the last year women of color have experienced brutal forms of violence, torture, rape and injustice which have gone unnoticed, received little to no media coverage, or a limited community response. We are responding to:

    The brutal and inhumane rape, torture, and kidnapping of Megan Williams in Logan , West Virginia who was held by six assailants for a month.
    Rape survivors in the Dunbar Housing Projects in West Palm Beach , Florida one of whom was forced to perform sexual acts on her own child.
    A 13 year old native American girl was beaten by two white women and has since been harassed by several men yelling “white power” outside of her home.
    Seven black lesbian girls attempted to stop an attacker and were later charged with aggravated assault and are facing up to 11 year prison sentences.
    In a Litany of Survival, Audre Lorde writes, “When we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak remembering we were never meant to survive.” These words shape our collective organizing to break the silence surrounding women of color’s stories of violence. We are asking for community groups, grass-root organizations, college campus students and groups, communities of faith, online communities, and individuals to join us in speaking out against violence against women of color. If we speak, we cannot be invisible.

    Join us and stand up to violence against women by wearing Red on October 31, 2007.

    I have attached two important documents detailing the "Be Red Be Bold Wear Red on October 31st Campaign."

    Please send questions to beboldbered@gmail.com.

    For updated information, please visit our website http://documentthesilence.wordpress.com on Wearing Red on October 31, 2007.

    Thursday, October 11, 2007

    On the road again...

    Well, I'm getting ready for my flight to New Hampshire. And I'm not sure what the internet access will be or if I'll have much time to check in... So, I wanted to bid you all a great weekend. I'll catch you when I get back.

    FYI: I'll be one of the key notes at the University of New Hamphire's Literacy Conference: Literacies: Personal, Professional, Academic

    For more information about the conference visit:

  • University of New Hampshire Literacy Conference


  • See you when I get back!

    much love and peace,

    Gwyneth shifting into Gwendolyn :-) LOL

    This Is How We Do The Old To The New...Thursdays

    It's about a melody...

    Today's melody is so tough three stunning artists from three different generations laced their vocals over it. The first is Eddie Kendricks with "Intimate Friend." The second is Sweet Sable with "Old Times Sake." And the most recent is Alicia Keys with "Unbreakable." And I know I clowned Alicia Keys's song on this blog before... And honestly her song is my least favorite of the three. But I figured I'd include it anyway. The song really shows how the right melody will have you humming and singing along even when you don't like a song. (Yes, I know all the words to "Unbreakable" and sing them whenever the song comes on the radio...What!?) But my favorite of the three, the one that takes me back to my, err... youth... is Sweet Sable's "Old Time Sake." I love that song!

    "Intimate Friend," Eddie Kendricks



    Gotta love that voice... Nothing like a smooth falsetto...

    "Old Times Sake," Sweet Sable



    When I hear the words, hip-hop love song, Sweet Sable's "Old Times Sake" comes immediately to mind...

    "Unbreakable," Alicia Keys



    It's about a melody...

    Have you ever found yourself drawn in by an old melody in the guise of a new song?

    much love and peace,

    Gwyneth

    Tuesday, October 09, 2007

    Cool Interview with Actress Tasha Smith in that Magazine



    Finally, something worth reading from the former bastion of profession black womanhood that was Essence ! I just found this wonderful interview with actress Tasha Smith. I adored her in Tyler Perry’s Daddy’s Little Girls and she is one of the main reasons--besides all those yummy fine brothers in the movie--that I will be in the theater as soon as I can to see Why Did I Get Married? I liked her as an actress and now that I’ve found out more about her, I just love her! This interview should have been in the print magazine, not just on-line. I bet they’ll run an interview with Kim Porter and why she finally left Diddy--if they haven’t already--right in the magazine and not on-line. Oh well…

    Here’s some of the interview:

    Tasha Smith: Survival of the Fittest
    Actress/activist and motivational speaker Tasha Smith talks about her latest film role and her real-life drama


    By Kenya N. Byrd

    Hollywood can be a fickle town when it comes to making or breaking talent, but some actors withstand the shuffle and show promise of longevity. Tasha Smith is that chick. Some might recall that the statuesque beauty once busted guts on the comedy strip in Los Angeles. Most will remember Smith as Jennifer, the vindictive ex-wife, in Daddy’s Little Girls or from her days as a crack addict on HBO’s Emmy Award-winning gritty street drama, The Corner ,. No matter where the Camden, New Jersey-born actress banks screen time, she is a bonafide scene-stealer. This month, Smith co-stars in Tyler Perry’s latest film Why Did I Get Married? as Angela, a feisty entrepreneur who is trying to mend her marriage during a weekend getaway with three other couples. Essence.com caught up with the fire starter to talk about the power of “ghetto” women, her past drug abuse and paying it forward.

    Essence.com: In the film, your character Angela handles her business and husband. Her mama-don’t-take-no-mess attitude could be perceived as “ghetto.” Do you think real women who express themselves unapologetically are wrongfully deemed uneducated?

    Tasha Smith: I don’t think it’s a lack of intelligence, but a lack of truth. People are so used to not being transparent with their feelings. Angela is smart, fearless and keeps it real because she’s not pretentious. It’s a shame that some people might identify that transparency as “urban” or “ghetto” because there are a lot of wonderful businesswomen who are truthful, transparent and confrontational. And I don’t mean “confrontational” in a negative way, but more like, ‘This is what this is, let’s deal with it.' Angela is our mother, our auntie, our neighbor and our mail lady. Trust me, there will be more women who identify with Angela than not.

    Essence.com: So, would you recommend this film to women whose marriages are in crisis?

    T.S.: A woman told me, ‘A group of my friends are going through some marital problems and we are going to see the film together.’ And I said, ‘No you need to go with your husbands to see the film. Don’t go with a bunch of chicks thinking that you’re going to get validated by your girls to give up on your marriage. Instead, go with your husbands and hope that something is going to be spoken that will make you guys say, `Hey baby, why did we get married? Let’s talk about that and the good things we have and how much we love each other so we can stop harping on everything that made us angry and unforgiving.’

    Read the rest of the wonderful interview here:

  • Tasha Smith: Survival of the Fittest
  • Monday, October 08, 2007

    Book Tagged

    The lovely and talented Deirdre Savoy tagged me with this book meme. I’ll forgive her for that… (smile)

    Total Number of Books:

    I have no idea. Let’s just put it this way… I have six tall bookshelves in my home office and several bookshelves in my office on campus. All of my bookshelves have books stacked in front of/on top of books… I have piles of books on the floor in my home office and we won’t even talk about the books on my nightstand or my ever-growing e-book file… I can’t count them. But I will say that the over one thousand books on my Shelfari shelf are books that I own. And that’s not all of them...

    Last Book Read:


    Big Spankable Asses by Angie Daniels, Kimberly Kaye Terry and Lisa G. Riley (I liked it. I hope to get a chance to do a latest reads post. I have several books that I want to share with you all like Pat Simmon’s, Guilty of Love and F. D. Davis’s In the Beginning; A Vampire Series (finally I get my black vampire series… yay!) But if I sneak time to read, I can’t sneak time to do a nice review post… A girl has to have her priorities in order…

    Last Book Bought:

    On the first day of each month I go to eHarlequin and pre-order all my books. So-oo, I just purchased a bunch of books on October 1… You can get the books a month early and for all the category lines. I ordered all of my Kimani Romances that are due to hit the stands in November. But the last book I actually purchased from the bookstore was J. R. Ward’s Lover Unbound.

    Five Meaningful Books:

    The River Where Blood Is Born by Sandra Jackson-Opoku
    This book blew my mind. It spans generations from the kidnapping and enslavement of African people to contemporary times and follows one family of women who are all connected to this mythical river in Africa. It has a river goddess, a trickster spider and just about every kind of black woman you can imagine. It is magical realism at its best and I would love to write a novel like that one day. I just have to share the blurb because I feel like I’m not doing the book justice:


    Stitched together like a quilt or a piece of Kente cloth, this novel recasts the black experience as myth, encompassing both the world of the spirits and the world of ordinary human endeavors. It opens with the story of how Ananse the spider entered the villages of women ancestor spirits and learned the stories of Africa's daughters. The tale that drives the novel is of two women who are made to leave their village with their children. Ama, the daughter of one of the women, bears a child with the son of the other, and is then sold into slavery. The novel--told in diaries and journals, letters, and more conventional narrative forms--follows Ama's descendants in their wanderings throughout the New World and finally back to Africa.

    New Black Man by Mark Anthony Neal
    This book is amazing. It offers a stunning critique of Black masculinity that made me want to buy copies and give them to all the brothers I know. It’s so rare to see a man really grapple with issues of gender, sexism and sexuality in such real and honest ways. Plus his prose is just like butta… The man can write! I’ve read all of his books and each one becomes my new favorite. I have to share the blurb again for this one because I feel like I’m not doing the book justice.

    From headlines to street corners, the message resounds: Black men are in crisis. Politicians, preachers, and pundits routinely cast blame on those already ostracized within African American communities. But the crisis of black masculinity does not rest with "at-risk" youth of the hip-hop generation or men "on the down low" alone. In this provocative new book, acclaimed cultural critic Mark Anthony Neal argues that the "Strong Black Man"-an ideal championed by generations of African American civic leaders-may be at the heart of problems facing black men today.

    New Black Man puts forth a revolutionary model of black masculinity for the twenty-first century-one that moves beyond patriarchy to embrace feminism and combat homophobia. Neal begins by tracing the origins of the Strong Black Man, an empowering figure called forth by Frederick Douglass and W.E.B. Du Bois at a time when black men were resisting enslavement, economic exploitation, and violence. Despite the good intentions of its creation, he argues, this rigid model has been used too often as justification for the oppression and mistreatment of black women and children. Neal urges us to imagine instead a New Black Man whose strength resides in family, community, and diversity.

    Part memoir, part manifesto, this book celebrates the black man of our times in all his vibrancy and virility. This impassioned tribute to a new face on the horizon of black America is not to be missed.



    For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enough by Ntozake Shange
    The monologues in this play speak to women across generations for a reason. If I could ever write something so powerful… “I found god in myself and loved her fiercely…” Wow!

    Sula by Toni Morrison
    This is my favorite Toni Morrison novel because of the female friendship between Sula and Nel. The characterization and the emotions in this novel give me something to strive for. Phenomenal!

    Parable of the Talents and Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
    Okay I know that’s two but they are a set. I can’t put into words the feelings that came over me when I read these. They are so prophetic, so eerily prophetic… You have to read them and then try and tell yourself Octavia Butler wasn’t a genius… It would be impossible.

    Tagging:

    Let me see… Umm…. No one. Okay, you can stop shaking in your boots now. You’re all off the hook… for now…

    Friday, October 05, 2007

    Crank That Holy Ghost... ???

    Okay, normally, I'm all for doing what it takes to bring the young folk back to the church. But this song makes me think that the elders may be right about some things being a little too secular...



    When teenagers in the church were saying "Ain't no party like a Holy Ghost party, 'cause a Holy Ghost party don't stop..." I thought that might have been a little too much club and too little Jesus... But with crank that... I think the line is forever blurred... What do you all think?

    much love and peace,

    Gwyneth

    Thursday, October 04, 2007

    This Is How We Do The Old To The New...Thursdays

    It's about a beat...

    Have you ever heard a new song on the radio, automatically loved it and couldn't figure out why? Did you then hear an older song that you used to love and realize that the new song samples the old one?

    Because I love music--all kinds of music--this happens to me a lot. Sometimes it's just a snippet of the beat sampled and it takes me a minute to place where I've heard the beat before. Sometimes it's enough for me to tell right away where it comes from. In any case, I thought I'd try something new on the blog and devote Thursdays to music that makes the old school new again. And first up we have a song that had me stumped like crazy. You see I had never purchased a Beyonce CD or a Destiny's Child CD. And I was pretty much content to never purchase one. Not that I have anything against them... But, I have a three-song rule when it comes to buying new music and I've never made it there with them.

    Until Beyonce's latest CD B-Day ... I loved "Ring the Alarm." But I didn't love it enough to buy the CD. I loved "Irreplaceable." But I didn't love it enough to buy the CD. I was really feeling "Get Me Bodied" and even envisioned myself working out to that song--when and if I ever start an exercise routine. But it was "Upgrade U" that made me finally, after months and months, buy the CD. I thought what is it about this song that made me finally crack? Then one day I was listening to my Best of Betty Wright CD and heard this song:

    Girls Can’t Do What the Guys Do… (Betty Wright)



    Then I knew what it was about Beyonce's song that initially pulled me in. It sampled Betty Wright. It adds a little hip-hop flavor but it's that old school feel that sparks the fire in me. I really liked "Upgrade You." And, while I might have liked it without the sample--maybe--I think it was the sample that made it possible. The lyrics are sassy and boastful and ironically bold and brash. Beyonce is boasting like a boy on this track. So I guess the 21st Century version has girls doing what the guys do and doing it very well. I like that. So in light of my blog getting an upgrade, here's Beyonce:

    Upgrade U (Beyonce)



    much love and peace,

    Gwyneth

    Tuesday, October 02, 2007

    Ann(ie) Rocks

    So, I was busy visiting the blogs of all my blog buddies and I came across Ann Aguirre/Annie Dean's blog. And she has this hot new blog. And everyone knows I have been wanting a pretty blog since forever... So I told her that I loved her new blog. (It's hot you should go check it out.) And of course I made my usual sulking "I want a pretty blog" comment. And Ann, goddess that she is, e-mailed me and said I can give you a pretty blog. Now, a person with home training would have said no, you're far too busy. I'll do without... But like I said, I've been wanting a pretty blog forever. And Ann gave me a pretty blog. She rocks!

    So check out her blog:

  • http://annaguirre.com/blog.html


  • Check out her websites:

  • http://www.anniedean.net


  • http://www.annaguirre.com


  • And buy her books. Because clearly she rocks!

  • http://www.annaguirre.com/books.html


  • And by the way, what do you think of my pretty new blog? :-) I mean, I'm gonna be posting all the time just because it's so pretty.... :-)

    much love and peace,

    Gwyneth

    Monday, October 01, 2007

    October Interview with Bettye Griffin



    GB: Hi, Bettye! I’m so glad you decided to drop by my blog for a chat. I know that you are a busy woman so I appreciate you taking the time to chat. I’m also so-oo excited because I love your blog and I admire your work. So thanks so much for doing this. My first question has to do with time management. How do you do it all and do it all so well?

    BG: Thanks, Gwyneth! I'm glad to be here. We chat so much online that sometimes I have to remind myself that we actually haven't met yet, but hopefully soon. I never noticed before that your initials are the opposite of mine. Thank God I'm not dyslexic as I answer these questions.

    As far as time management, I try to make the most of every minute. I rarely just lounge around doing nothing. I'm big on multitasking, like folding laundry or ironing while watching TV. If I walk for exercise, I've got my handheld tape recorder with me so I can “write” (it's amazing how many pages I can dictate while walking two measly little miles). If I’m driving alone, I’ll also dictate. Most lunch breaks (I don’t want to be entirely antisocial) are spent writing. I’ll draft a blog idea as soon as it occurs to me. And I limit my time on-line (usually in the mornings; people who post blogs in the afternoon usually won’t see a response from me until the next day!) The fact that it’s just my husband and me is also a factor, I think. There are no children in our household.

    As far as my doing things well, I’ll just smile and say thank you for the compliment.

    Incidentally, when this interview hits your blog I’ll be on vacation in Colorado, preparing to return home. I’m a big believer in recreational travel.

    GB: Vacation, lovely! Have a wonderful time! Okay, I heard that you’ve known you wanted to be a writer since the tender age of six. What was the spark that made you finally decide to really pursue your desire? What led to that first book being published in 1999?

    BG: I’d flirted with writing from the age of 10, when I taught myself to type with an old textbook in the hall bookcase (I can do 90 words a minute) and spent rainy summer days writing my first novel. I will always cherish the memory of my father adhering stamps to a large manila envelope and mailing it off to Morrow Junior Books. I could tell he hoped it would be published. I was a child of his middle age, and I’m grateful he lived long enough to see my first book published (BTW, it actually came out in December 1998, although the official publication date was January 1999), passing away four months later.

    I seriously decided in 1983 to seriously pursue my dream of professional writing. Just fifteen short years later ,
    At Long Last Love was on store shelves!


    GB: With your recent mainstream release, If These Walls Could Talk , and your recent romance release, A Love For All Seasons , you have thirteen published novels to date. Congratulations on being so prolific and getting your work out there. Has your writing changed over the years? How do you keep it fresh for yourself?

    BG: Well thanks, but I don’t think I’m particularly prolific; there are many authors who produce loads more than I do (of note, all of my titles have been full-length novels; I’ve never written a novella). I do hope my writing has improved over the years. I do work at it. I’m always reaching to do better and am particularly proud of my two 2007 releases, one that weaved flashbacks into the story, and the other that balanced the stories of three marriages.

    I did read somewhere that there are only X number of romance themes. I believe it takes great effort to take one of these themes and make it fresh, something you certainly know about, having written romances yourself!

    GB: I know! It takes some creativity to make the classic boy meets girl… new. (Smile) What has your journey to publication been like? How did you get in print and remain in print? Are there any secrets to your success that you are willing to share?

    BG: I wrote three romance novels before one sold, so I'd say that being hardheaded helps. I also work on my writing on a continuous basis – these books don’t write themselves, you know – to make sure I have a product to market so I can stay in print with reasonable frequency. Readers don’t like to wait a year-and-a-half between books. I’ve had two books out per year for the last three years, one romance and one women’s fiction, but I wasn’t ready to do this early in my career. My first agent lost interest in me after I refused to write a romance every six months (eventually I fired her). I love to write, but I don’t imagine myself lying (or is it laying? – the difference still confuses me) on my deathbed saying, “I wish I’d spent more time working on my books . . . .”

    GB: LOL. That’s a funny one Bettye! Okay, with so many wonderful novels under your belt, do you find that there are any common themes in your work, themes that resurface or topics that you revisit?

    BG: Someone once asked me why I liked to write about step or blended families. I didn’t realize there was a pattern, but in hindsight I guess there is. It makes for good drama. This dynamic played a part in At Long Last Love , From This Day Forward , One on One , The People Next Door , and Nothing But Trouble .



    GB: You have published mainstream women’s fiction, romance novels and nonfiction. Do you find that you have to be in a different mental space or frame of mind to move from genre to genre? And I know this question is one you probably can’t answer, but… Which is your favorite? If you could write only one, what would it be?

    BG: I’ve never had a book of nonfiction published, just articles going back many years now. To the frame of mind question, my answer would be, not really. A good story is a good story, no matter what the genre, and I find I easily get excited about/engrossed in whichever story I’m working on at the moment. I’ve been known to work on two manuscripts in a single session; when I get stuck on one and need time to work something out, I’ll go to the other. This is actually very efficient for me, and I find that I prefer working on two manuscripts at once. Sometimes, if I’m coming down to the wire deadline-wise, I’ll switch my background music – jazz for mainstream, romantic standards for romance, to help get in and remain in the appropriate mindset for the story.

    Regarding my favorite, my first love has always been more general women’s fiction, so if I had to limit myself to one genre, that would be it. There are none of the restrictions that must be adhered to in romance (although writing romance is hardly easy, as I stated above). As you know, the purchasing of Arabesque by Harlequin has put a stop to my romance writing (at least for the time being). Arabesque is converting to a different focus, and my writing style doesn’t mesh with what Kimani is looking for.

    GB: Your latest book, If These Walls Could Talk , seems perfectly suited to comment on these times of predatory builders and lenders. Can you tell us a little bit about why you decided to craft a story about three families going after that often out of reach American dream of home ownership?



    BG: I’m always on the lookout for story ideas, and some years back I saw an article or a TV news report (I can’t remember which it was anymore) about the high rate of foreclosures in Eastern Pennsylvania, usually by black and Hispanic people from New York. These people took on the responsibility of home ownership and the improbable commute because impossibly high real estate prices in the city made them feel hopeless about achieving the American dream, but unfortunately they often bought without doing their homework. Shifty financing from one developer approved many who would not qualify at more traditional lenders. It had just recently all blown up in a huge scandal that stretched from predatory lenders to inadequate construction inspection laws in place at the time. Being from New York myself and having relocated to Florida so my husband-at-the-time and I could buy a home of our own, I saw the potential for a novel and started researching the situation. It’s merely coincidental that this is still in the news; I first pitched this story two or three years ago.

    The ideas for many of my books come from the media. An article I saw in the local paper about a man who was found dead in his office Monday morning after an accident while lifting weights alone in the office gym on Friday evening became the basis for the opening chapter of Nothing But Trouble . I'm not exactly ripping from headlines, but those human-interest stories buried in the third column of Page Fourteen are just as interesting.



    GB: Can you tell us a little bit about your latest romance novel? What would you say is the biggest difference between your first romance novel, At Long Last Love , and your latest, A Love For All Seasons ?



    BG: A Love For All Seasons , published in May 2007 by Kimani Press/Arabesque, is about a woman who's gone through life without forming any close attachments to anyone and who likes her intimacy without strings. When friends of hers bring a friend of theirs to a party at her apartment, she is mystified by her nervous reaction to him. She doesn’t realize that seeing this man is the key to unlocking long-buried memories in her mind’s deepest recesses.

    There are actually a few similarities between that book's heroine, Alicia Timberlake, and Kendall Lucas, the heroine of my very first novel, At Long Last Love . Kendall felt guilty because she had no maternal instinct whatsoever, possibly from a difficult childhood. But I’m sure the writing’s better. I keep saying I’m going to read one of my old titles, but I’m afraid of how I’ll react. (I’ll probably want to re-write the whole thing.)

    Incidentally, I now own the rights to At Long Last Love as well as A Love of Her Own , my second novel, both of which are out of print. One of these days I’ll get around to doing something with them.

    GB: It would be great if you could publish them again and make them available to those who didn’t catch them the first time around. Okay, you know I have to ask the cover question because I love your covers. I love that ever since around 2002 one could always tell a Bettye Griffin book by the cover. The covers all started to have those nice chocolate faceless people, really beautiful artwork. And it’s amazing because this is the case with your books from two different publishers. How did that end up happening for you? I have to ask this question as an author because covers are so-oo out of our control…

    BG: One word: Luck. I can’t say I had anything to do with it. As far as I know, the faceless illustrations were the brainchild/personal style of the respective artists, first at Arabesque and then at Dafina. Whether it was a coincidence or planned in advance when I started doing mainstreams for Dafina is something I’ll never know. But I’m grateful. Every author didn’t have artists this eye-catching.

    I can tell you this . . . that five-year streak is about to end. The cover of my next mainstream novel, Once Upon A Project , will usher in a new look for me. No more faceless drawings. I received a draft of the cover back in July, but since the book won’t be out until May I feel it’s still too early to unveil it to the public. I’ll probably wait until the six-month mark, which will be sometime next month. Book covers tend to go in cycles . . . remember those bright geometric designs in the beginning of contemporary A-A fiction boom? And how about the covers with all the appendages, arms, legs, feet wearing high heels in recent years? Now I'm seeing a trend toward the more dramatic, and that is reflected in my new cover. By next year this cover style will probably be all over the place.

    GB: I knew you were gonna say something like luck! (Smile) So, how has your life changed since becoming published? Would you change anything if you had it to do all over again? What changes, if any, do you anticipate in the future?

    BG: I can’t think of anything I’d change, but I’m sure there must be something. I’ve gone from being essentially lazy and undisciplined to much more organized. As for changes in the publishing industry, that’s like trying to predict the next late-life allergy I’ll develop (please Lord, don’t let it be shrimp).

    GB: You have a wonderful web and blog presence. I love your website. And I adore the wonderful, witty commentary on your blog. Can you talk a little about what went into the creation of your various sites?

    BG: I was late coming to both a web site and a blog, but I was determined not to do it unless I could make a commitment to keep it up. I hate looking at blogs where the last entry was, like, March; or web sites that say, “Happy 2003!” (Remember that old adage, don’t start what you can’t finish?) I set up my own web site through a hosting company and keep it updated. It’s much easier to do updates myself at my convenience than to wait for a webmaster who can go AWOL on me.

    I try to post a new column on my blog at least three times a week, and four is better. With all the blogs out there to choose from, readers will quickly get bored with the same old stuff and will go elsewhere.

    My husband is designing a new website for me, which I’ll get unveiled within the next month or so. I think it’s wonderful.

    Gwyneth, I did want to thank you for commenting on my blog a regular basis. (Ditto to Patricia and Donna). I wish more of the people reading would speak up every now and again.

    GB: Your welcome. I like your blog a lot. I always know I’ll find something to either make me think or laugh or both. (Smile) So, what do you like to read in your spare time? What are you reading right now? Do you have any favorite authors that you would like to share with us?

    BG: I can say that I don’t have favorite authors, but rather favorite books. I haven’t come across an author yet who hasn’t put out at least one book that didn’t work for me, but that’s part of being a writer. You don’t want to tell the same story over and over again, where only the names of the characters change. You have to grow and try new things. Readers can’t always appreciate that.

    I’m presently reading a sort-of mystery that is just blowing me away with the quality of the writing. I’ll be looking at my own work with a much more critical eye after reading this. It takes me several weeks to finish a book – no reflection on the book, but nothing comes between me and my writing time. I won’t name the title . . . I prefer not to publicly comment on a book until after I’ve completed it. I might change my assessment . . . if I hate the ending, for example.

    GB: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

    BG: First, decide what kind of writer you want to be. Be honest. Are you looking for a quick payday, or do you want to produce truly good work? If it’s the former, good luck. If it’s the latter, keep your eyes and ears open for good story ideas. You’d be surprised how far you can go with a good imagination. Learn as much as you can about the craft of writing (is this a good time to mention my editing service?) and don’t lose all sense of logic by writing implausible plotlines (Sonny Crockett of Miami Vice couldn’t possibly afford to live the way he did unless he was on the take big time, so no secretaries with apartments on Central Park West, please.) Learn to overcome your bad writing habits (we all have them). Don’t assume that getting picked up by a publisher means you have nothing more to learn.

    GB: What are you working on now? Tell us a little something about your future works.

    BG: Once Upon A Project will be published by Dafina in May. It’s women’s fiction, about four friends from childhood, only two of which have stayed in close contact over the years. One of them organizes a reunion of former tenants of the Southside Chicago public housing project where they spent their earliest years, and as the friends reunite, it is revealed that each of them is at a crossroads in their personal lives as they approach fifty, the same age as their former home. The reunion sets in motion a chain of events that will change the course of their lives. I hope it will appeal to older readers who might want to read about someone older than the typical thirtyish heroines. I’ve got nothing against being thirty-five, but I’ve said good-bye to my thirties and my forties, so I’d like to take a one-time leap out of the box. (Of course, thirty-year-olds can still read and enjoy the book.) I will likely leap back to writing about younger characters after this book. I just hope I can still relate to forty when I’m seventy.

    Because the reading public often doesn’t want to let a story end, I’ve given in to requests and am working on a sequel to my first mainstream, The People Next Door , in which one of the main characters, Suzanne Betancourt, is put up against another gold digger, Micheline Mehu Trent from Nothing But Trouble . It took me a while to come up with a storyline that I really liked, one that shows the characters maturing rather than doing the same old antics, but now that I have, I’m rolling with it. I’ve got a first-person chick lit that’s been bouncing around for more years than I care to admit (actually, since before the coining of the term ‘chick lit’!) that I believe is rather good. And I’ve fooled around a bit with the promised sequel to my Arabesque romance From This Day Forward , featuring the two much-younger sisters of that book’s heroine, who’d now be in their early twenties (and older than that by the time I can get it into print!) And I’ve got an amusing mainstream romance about three sisters I’m working on. I want to do a World War II to present family saga. So many ideas, so little time. I’m already fifty. I should live so long to get all my ideas into print.

    GB: They all sound fabulous too. I love the idea of bringing characters from two different books together. And Once Upon a Project sounds like it could be made into a movie. Can’t wait to read it! Well… thanks for taking the time to chat with me, Bettye. Your work is phenomenal and we look forward to all of the wonderful projects that you have in store for us in the future!

    BG: Thank you, Gwyneth!

    Readers can find out more information about Bettye and her wonderful novels here:

  • http://www.bettyegriffin.com/homepage.html


  • http://chew-the-fat-with-Bettye.blogspot.com


  • Thanks for checking out the interview! Next month instead of the usual author interview we will have “Debut Authors Week.” We’ll have three short interviews from three new authors! And these new authors are sizzling hot. You’ll just have to come back to see who they are because I’m not telling… (Smile)