And the Winner is…

When watching the BET Awards, Academy Awards or People’s Choice Awards, do you ever wonder why the winners thank people we don’t see or have ever heard of: directors, producers, and executive producers, writers, technical, choreographers and on. Have you ever asked yourself, “Who cares?”

One of the most memorable entertainers of all time was the late Michael Jackson. His Thriller video set the bar for all music videos. Michael might have had the vision, but others helped him to put it together: costume designers, directors, dancers, music mixers and other people that I’m sure I know nothing about. Who decided that Vincent Price’s laugh should end the video? Who decided what scenes to use and which to cut? Who decided how many dancers to use? Who created the dance steps?  How big was the crew that helped Michael Jackson pull it off? Trust me, Michael didn’t do it alone.

As a storyteller, I see the stories in my head and hear the dialogue in my ears. I dream up the handsome black men I write about, I recall the silly antics of a four-year old child. I’m the fly on the wall when my heroine whispers her first, “I love you,” and the hero embraces her, then gives her a sweet kiss. I’m there right in the middle, but that’s where the fantasy ends and the realty of putting my vision on paper begins. I have a behind the scene crew too.

The first editor I’d ever worked with was Chandra Sparks Splond. She began to free-lance after being an editor with Arabesque under BET. She got into my head and helped me to enrich my characters.  Next, Joylynn Jossel at UC kept Grandma BB’s character going in the Guilty series.

When it came to writing one of my favorites, Crowning Glory, Chandra didn’t like how I portrayed Levi Tolliver’s character. Her comments helped me to soften him and made readers fall in love with him. That novel went on to win an Emma Award.

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She initially had the same opinion with Landon Thomas in my newest release Redeeming Heart.

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I had to soften him too.  Kathryn Hall, my editor at Moody, showed me how smooth transitions tell better stories. Courtney Hartzel at Whitaker took me to task about proper English usage. Recently, my agent reminded me to stay in an active voice in a story and not fall victim to passive writing. Without these “behind the scene” editors, my characters wouldn’t be consistent, multi-dimensional and human. When I’m in the zone, my fingers can’t keep up with what’s going on in my head. That’s where another editor or proofreader comes in. I’ve used Karen Rodgers for many of my projects, because she had a good eye to catch missing pieces. After twelve novels and thirteen novellas, I’ve continued to practice these nuggets handed down to me.

So, as I celebrate my newest release, Redeeming Heart, I have to give a shout out to those behind the scene who had a hand to bring you the best stories I could give readers. Readers become fans and without knowing it, they are our support system by posting reviews and spreading the word about their favorite books. Without editors and readers, I wouldn’t be a winner.

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