Sunday, December 21, 2014

Happy Holidays! Onward and Upward

So much has happened in 2014 that it is a bit bittersweet to see it close. So much in my writing world has been accomplished. Some of those celebratory moments weren't planned, but were opportunities that I stepped up and grabbed, while, for other milestones, they were part of my goal plans.

For The Readers in 2014

  • Into The Pride was my first foray in urban fantasy, which earned an Evernight Reader's Choice award. 

  • One of A Kind (1st book of Meadows Family), published with Kimani Romance, featuring four cousins and their bid to be independent and finding love on their own terms.

  • Part of the Executive Assistant anthology, as Michelle Rhys, an erotic romance set in the corporate boardroom.

  • Carnival Temptress, part of the Revelers series, on my self-pub platform.

  • Part of the free Tiny Treats Holiday micro reads with A Holiday Miracle.

  • Read and recommended over 150 books for the USA Today Happy Ever Blog


Behind the scenes:


  • Finished writing two out of three novellas for Boroughs Publishing
  • Participated in NaNo with a 50K word (rough draft) book completed
  • Jotting down ideas, collecting several research books for big project.


And what does 2015 bring?

So far it will be...

  • On self-pub platform: Something To Hold, Making Promises, Island Rendezvous (backlist from BET Arabesque books by end of January)

  • One To Love (March), which is the 2nd book of the Meadows family series.

  • Two of three novellas from Boroughs Publishing to hit digital shelves. Release date to be announced.

  • Participating in St. Patrick's Day Tiny Treats Holiday Collection.

  • Participating in 12 Alphas/ 12 Months multi-author box set (July); sequels to my story will be in separate box set in September

  • Participating in Bad Boys on Vacation multi-author box set (July); sequels to story will be in separate box set in September
I look forward to continuing reading and recommending books for USA Today Happy Ever After Book club. And you can be sure that I'm also working on a variety of projects, behind the scenes. Thank you for your support. Feel free to join my newsletter email list to keep updated with my busy schedule.

All the best,


Michelle

Monday, December 15, 2014

Fall Out Boy -- American Beauty/American Psycho Album


Fall Out Boy is back with a new album: American Beauty/ American Psycho. Earlier this year, they released Centuries. What do I think? My daughter shared her FOB love with me when she was in middle school. We went to their concert at Merriweather about five years ago when they headlined with Hey Monday, Cobra Starship, All Time Low, & Fifty Cent.  Absolutely loved them. Didn't get to the concert this year, timing didn't cooperate with her college classes.

I'm no expert on indie rock. Do I like the songs? Yep. And pretty much that's enough reason for me...cause I said it's good. LOL














Patrick Stump is quoted as saying: "All I can say is, some people will love it. Some people will hate it. The four of us like it a lot, so we're happy."

Pretty much my sentiments with my books, too LOL 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Celebrating--Best Urban Fantasy: Evernight Readers' Choice Awards




Thank you to the readers who remembered this short story, INTO THE PRIDE, and thought positively enough about it to nominate the title in Evernight Publishing Readers' Choice Awards under the urban fantasy category. I'm truly honored and especially appreciative of winning the category.

I look forward to writing more stories that both entertain and remain happy memories with each of you. Cheers, my friends.


Available at major e-retailers and at Evernight Publishing site

Monday, December 1, 2014

December 1 -- Day after NaNoMo2014 Completion


Last year, 2013, I participated in NaNo. I started the process of writing a daily minimum of 1,667 words for 30 days with great enthusiasm. In the first week, I delivered double, even triple the word count. I felt invincible. Second week hit, and the story started flagging. I was writing aimlessly only thinking of the daily goal, instead of the story plot. My project veered in all kinds of directions as I tried to stay the course. But by the end, November 30, I was done. Crawling to the finish line, gasping on fumes, the so-called victory was not pretty. My vow when I hit the button to verify my word count--I would never do this again.

That 2013 novel still sits in a computer file waiting for massive editing to be done. It hasn't quite made into the top five priority of works in progress. But the basis of the story was good and I'm not giving up with getting it polished and salvageable.

So when 2014 NaNo announcements and euphoria hit the social media platform, I screamed, No and Hell no. Never again. That is, until I tried it under Savvy Authors, which is a separate writing circle and a potential feeder pool for submissions to Entangled Publishing imprints. I thought, okay, why not? They had a system in a place, not just to write randomly but to approach the exercise with more focus and better preparation. Synopsis and beat sheets were read and feedback provided, with any more questions welcomed and answered throughout the process.

By the time, NaNo started on November 1, I had a road map of sorts to begin the process. Working in teams, for the various imprints, also provided a lot of support, especially after the initial excitement waned and the hard work was ahead of continuing beyond chapter 3. I love my TeamHussy, we rocked it.

However, I still crawled to the end. But what it did, once again, was show that I can sit down long enough to write substantive words on the screen, every day. This time I also used Scrivener because of a 50% deal they had for the winners, another incentive for me to tackle this software that so many have been encouraging me to use. And I'm now a convert to the software.

So now December is here and it's going to be mainly the editing month for this project. I won't let it sit and grow dust bunnies.

I don't know what the future holds for this particular work. I do like it. I do think it has potential. And I'm looking forward to nurturing it until it bears fruit. Check out my Pinterest inspiration page for the book, temporarily titled Aja and The Bounty Hunter.

Will I participate in NaNo 2015? I have no idea, but I didn't finish the year with a No, never again approach. The exercise did what was probably intended, which was for me to challenge myself to write a 50K (first draft) book in a month. Mission accomplished.

Visualize your unique dreams in your mind, set a timeline, commit the game plan on paper, and proceed one day at a time, one task at a time, then see how far you go to accomplishing it.

One of my dreams -- to be a kick-ass edgy, push-those-boundaries paranormal/urban fantasy author like Sherrilyn Kenyon.

Wishing you (and me), Good luck!

Michelle Monkou

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Writer's Life: My Social Media Blackout

Whew! October is winding down and so is my seclusion from social media, namely Facebook, my addiction.

I went cold turkey. First, teaching myself how to delete my attempt at any response to a post or my post to my status update box. Then, I learned how to read newsfeed and not respond. Finally, training myself not to read or interact, while I communicated with my various Facebook writer groups. This sort of behavior could spell death to an author, such as me, right? Not really.

You see, unless you've made Facebook your one and only way to communicate and promote, you'll be fine with a little social media black out. But, I didn't do this to prove a point. And I certainly didn't do it because I'm anti-Facebook. I wanted to rein in time-wasting elements.

I was cognizant that another year was winding down. I had a long list of goals that were in place from the beginning of the year. Over the months, more projects were added, old goals got pushed aside, and due dates fast approached, causing an ugly bottle neck in October. I couldn't add hours to my day.  I couldn't duplicate me. So I had to look at how I was using my waking hours and make serious adjustments.

Trust me, it was damned difficult to wean myself off Facebook. Everything seemed worthy of a reply, even if it was to agree with the poster. Some days I would come off Facebook in a grumpy mood because of the vibes of the postings that day, when I was fine in my little bubble of happiness before I had signed on. And once I posted my intelligent philosophy on life, not a damn thing changed. I wasn't Gandhi or Mandela inspiring with my witty comments. Yeah, sometimes I could be entertaining. But most times, people don't approach social media to learn and change minds. I can't tell one sticking point that has me go...hmmm, maybe I will switch or convert or see you on the other side of that point.

When I approached Facebook in the first place, it was for promoting me and my work. No one wants to hear me ramble on about my book or harassing them to buy my book. The next step in author marketing was about creating that high like-ability factor, connecting with the readers, etc. That strategy sounds good on paper. It's easy--pop in, say hi, pop out. They've spent $5.99 to buy your book, this is the least you could do. That QUICK pop in, never is quick. Five minutes turn into 15 minutes, into an hour--several times a day.

I'd counter with the fact that I have must-read, and auto buy authors whom I've never met, probably won't ever meet, aren't on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Many of them know their social interaction limitations and make no apology. And frankly, I might be better off for not going after that like-ability factor because we've seen the harsh results at any glimmer of people's true thoughts, political affiliation, (consensual & legal) sexual practices, and on and on. If people knew my real feelings about squirrels, well....

When I published in the 90s, I just wanted to write my stories and send them out into the world. And I have a lot of them. Although I'm a whiz at multi-tasking, writer is only one of several titles in my life. Twelves years later in this career, I refuse to put so much time in creating/writing/editing (and it's long ass hours, trust me), my personal life, and then with rest, sit on social media just to be liked.

I will be on Facebook occasionally. I think a short breath at the end and beginning of each month is sufficient. I'll keep you updated. I'll try to be entertaining and witty. But the remainder of the month, I have to be  fully submerged in my world of creating. My Happy Place.

I started the month with nine projects in various stages of completion.  Five of those projects were completed and moved off my computer or to the next stage.  I still have one more day in the month for the other four--miracles can happen.

Next month is National Novel Writing Month NaNo, where you fast draft a 50K book in a month. I successfully did so last year with a New Adult novel that is in the "to be edited" queue. This time, I'm working on another project under the wing of a publisher. No promises or guarantees to this outcome, but I'm giving it all I've got. November has turned into a good opportunity to follow up with my Facebook blackout. Somehow, Twitter doesn't have same addictive hold on me.

For now,  this works for me. Hope my schedule works for you.

Take care,

Michelle

Friday, August 22, 2014

Outlander--My New TV Show Obsession

For the first time in a while, I'm actually hooked on several TV shows. I watch a lot of TV and movies. Most times, it's way after the show is out, many seasons deep, or has ended.

And now I'm picky with the movies as the ticket price and the outrageous concession prices add up. So with the help of Netflix and my Comcast On Demand, I've fallen hard for Orphan Black, The Strain, Helix, The Last Ship, Longmire, Sherlock, Sleepy Hollow, Bitten, Blacklist.

If those weren't enough, I must add Outlander to the mix. I read the book many moons ago. Here's the blurb, (courtesy of Dell; Random House): Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another...

In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon—when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an "outlander"—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord...1743.
Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire's destiny in soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidden Castle Leoch. She is catapulted without warning into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life ...and shatter her heart. For here, James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire...and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

I might reread. But it's not necessary to enjoy this TV series on Starz. Every week, the episode is a tourism invite to visit Scotland with its sweeping shots of the landscape, kilts, and the wild haired men folk. Every week it's an invite to an older time of which we hold romantic notions about honor and duty, when it was more like survival of the fittest. Then there are the "feisty" women who must be able to hold their own and navigate through the confines of the day. And when you slide all that aside, there is a remarkable love story of a woman with two men. Get rid of those erotic fantasies.The woman has a husband in the present time (post WWII) and quite possibly will have this lover in an earlier era. You, however, might indulge in your fantasy as you head to Scotland on the hunt for the circle of stones to see if you can also defy the laws of time travel (are there laws?).

So if you'd like to catch up on my tongue in cheek review of each episode, which I share with Mandi Schreiner, please join us at the USA TODAY Happy Ever Blog every Saturday, immediately after the episode airs at 10 p.m. EST.

Episode 1: Please click here

Episode 2: Please click here

Friday, August 8, 2014

To MD's Prince George County Police

You would think that with the rash of negative publicity that cops from various states have earned by their own doing that the rest of the fraternity would have a more measured approach when dealing with the community. Apparently three of The Order didn't feel that the rules had to change. Instead, they preferred the "us" vs. "them" attitude and did their best to foster that feeling. For their efforts, they get an A+ for being total dicks. As a public servant, taking the vow to protect and serve, they've earned an F.

Over dinner late last night, after my son returned from work, I asked the obligatory question, "how was your day?" The reply wasn't the routine answer of "played video games," "working at the job is hard," or the latest happenings about a friend. Nope. He said, "I was stopped by the police." I laughed. "What do you mean stopped?" He doesn't drive. "I was stopped by the police. Me and my friend." I laugh because I can't tell whether he's being silly. So, I asked, "Why?" "Because I'm black." I laugh some more. He says, "I'm not kidding. It's because I'm black." I replied, "I don't doubt that they stopped you because you're black, but are you telling me that they just pulled up and said, 'hey, you, what are you doing?'" He said, "Yeah." And so I stopped laughing to hear the rest of this story.

I'm sure in all the police procedures and laws, you can stop a person for a variety of reasons, even on the basis of suspicion. But here's how it played out. So my son's friend, let's call him Bob, was walking toward the park in the neighborhood from one direction and my son was coming up from the opposite direction. They'd stopped Bob, questioned him (he texted another friend afterward about the entire thing), took down my son's name as the person Bob was going to meet, took a photo of him, and told him to go back home.

So then here comes my son. The officers are basically waiting for him, to ask him not only who he is, but has he been stealing from the houses in the neighborhood. He was asked this several times, in different ways. Then one officer asked if he had outstanding warrants. My son says no. The other officer says no outstanding warrants...yet. Third officer remains quiet (but he had done his part in the interrogation of Bob). My son didn't have ID on him. One officer said you're supposed to have your ID. My son said, I was just going to the park (again, in his neighborhood). Then they asked my son if he knew the people at the park, pushing to see if he's from the area, he named everyone. One officer says that's enough, as he laughs because the other officer is clearly annoyed because with all the questions my son is calm, but also not backing down from responding to all their asinine questions.

My son since senior year of high school has been stopped by county or park police 4 or 5 times in the area, just like this time, with this random questioning. The worst cops are the black ones he says. They approach with an attitude and aggression, even if another (white) cop is present. He said, the white cops have actually been kinder in the way they talk to him.

I'm not going to dissuade him that he wasn't stopped because he was black, but I'm also going to add that he was stopped also for being young. I watch how people, these officers, sales lady in a store, adults in general, react to young males. I watch because I use the information in my writing. Their body language changes, as if they are preparing themselves for a skirmish. In my son's case, when I identify that I'm his mother, then they are all smiles and solicitous...too late. I know how foul you are.

The youth are not the enemy. Black young men are not the enemy. You can't come into the neighborhood, of which he has lived for 18 years, and act like the Gestapo. Taking pictures of these men. What's next, a yellow star? How dare you tell anyone to go home, or go back to his own neighborhood, whatever. You have lost your sense of reality.

If you'd bother to take the time to get out of the car, walk around the neighborhood, stop in at the parks, introduce yourself to the kids, you'd start knowing the faces at these places. It's the same people who usually pop up to play basketball or skateboard.

As for the black male officers, you are looking at your citizens as failures, guilty until you convince me otherwise. Don't project your stereotypes, prejudices, and policing issues on all our young men. Don't look at him and decide he is a gang member, a thief, a burglar. Don't judge him and determine that he lacks a father figure, has an absentee mother, is a delinquent. You are the one who is the failure in the system. You fail as a police officer. You fail as a man. You are a bully with a badge and a gun.

For the Hispanic officer who said to my son, you don't have any warrants yet. I have to shake my head in utter disgust that you looked at my son as a statistic. You, part of the Latino population, dare to prejudge on statistical or stereotypical data. Let me turn the tables on you. How far into your family tree is someone on drugs, out of wedlock pregnant, on welfare, holding outstanding warrants, an alcoholic, illegal? Do I get to judge you, the member of a minority population, despite your gun and badge that give you a false sense of honor and identity. Another bully in the mix.

You are public servants. My taxes help to pay your salary. You serve the public. It's a job you chose to do. It wasn't thrust upon you. It wasn't a royal title that you were born into. My point is that, if you can't do the job properly, then like any job get the hell out. It doesn't matter to me if you are decorated with ribbons and awards, you, collectively, make the mistake of harming my son in any of your "stop and be an asshole" techniques of interrogation and I swear that my only mission in life is to make your life a living hell.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Land of Romance Fiction Is Like A Colorful Fruit Salad

Readers,

Have you ever attended Romance Writers of America 400+ author booksigning event. It's always the Wednesday of the conference week. Quite an impressive sight to see because it's a smidgen of the books and authors who dwell in romance fiction land.

I personally haven't signed at the event in years. But I do go through to say hi to my fellow authors. This year had a massive outpouring of readers in San Antonio, Texas. They lined up for hours, as though it was a rock concert and they had to get to the mosh pit. BTW, next year is in New York City. Keep an eye for the details at RWA's site.

Basically, there were books filling every corner and space of several large meeting rooms.

Paranormal. Erotic. Contemporary. Urban Fantasy. Historical. New Adult. Young Adult.

Over $50K was spent that night in book purchases. Again, this is only a smidgen of what's out there.

The visual of that extensive and diverse list of books reminded me of my delightful childhood food/fruit options. I grew up in Guyana, home to an enormous amount of fruits. Trust me, nothing in any supersized supermarket captures half of the tropical gifts like guinep (fleshy tart, tangy, or sweet), five finger (tart), Pawpaw aka papaya (soft & sweet), star apple (purple & milky white flesh, sweet), souri (sour), plus simmoto, mangoes, cashews, gooseberries, guavas, pineapples, soursop, and on and on.

Some people loved them all. Some liked most, with a few exceptions. Others with finicky tastes may have only liked a handful of the selection. But it didn't matter because there was something for everyone.

That is the romance genre in a nutshell: There's something out there for everyone.

Thank you to those who have sampled my wares as part of the "fruit salad." I especially love those who have sought out MY "fruits of my labor" because you've fallen in love with my style and voice. I appreciate you adding me to your favorite author list and hanging in there for my literary ride.

Keeping you in the loop:
Turned in my 2nd book to the editor, One To Love, in the Meadows Family series. Coming out in Apr 2015
1st book, One of A Kind, on sale at all major e-retailers--Amazon's.

Still enjoying sales of my short story - Operation Conquer and Seduction in the Executive Assistant Anthology (written as Michelle Rhys). On sale at major e-retailers. Evernight's.



Happy Reading!
Michelle 

Monday, June 30, 2014

Executive Assistant Anthology--12 Sexy, Erotic Romantic Tales

Unleash your naughty side with Evernight's Executive Assistant anthology…

These sizzling hot stories dare to explore the taboo world of office romance. From X-rated job interviews, controlling Doms, to the unprofessional use of office furniture—these twelves stories have it all.




Evernight's bestselling authors are determined to make you squirm. You may never see the office the same way again!

In the Executive Assistant anthology, the authors include:
Doris O’Connor, Leteisha Newton, S.J. Maylee, Michelle Graham, Allyson Young, Lila Shaw, Elodie Parkes, Chacelyn Pierce, Jean Maxwell, Beth D. Carter, Jezebel Jorge, Michelle Rhys (that's moi!)

In Operation Conquer and Seduction by Michelle Rhys, it's one helluva day (think TV show 24). Enjoy the excerpt:

7:15 a.m.
   Melissa pushed open the familiar glass doors that changed her life. Her heels clicked along the marble floor as she approached the imposing receptionist’s desk. A familiar face, a mature picture of elegance and grace, looked up at her. The welcoming smile opened the release valve on Melissa’s panic, somewhat.
   “Miss Honsou, good morning.”
   “It’s good to see you, Laila. And please, stop pretending to be formal. I’m already nervous as hell. Can’t believe I’m back.” 
   “To your first job.”
   “Yeah, a lot of firsts happened under this roof.” Melissa mentally ticked off her first office romance, sexual encounter, orgasm, falling in love, heartbreak, and resignation.
   “And, now, you’re back, bigger and badder.” Laila winked, and covered her mouth as if she’d said a bad word.
   “Hopefully, not too big.” Melissa patted her hips.
   They hugged each other with their laughter filling the open atrium. 
   “Let me get you on your way. You don’t have much time. The executive team meeting will start in about forty-five minutes. And he’s particularly testy over his opening remarks.” Laila looked at her watch and then hurried back to the desk to answer the phone. She covered the mouthpiece and whispered, “I’ve got to take this. You know your way, right?”
   Melissa gave her thumbs up. Of course, she knew her way. Three years on the job couldn’t be erased in a finger snap. Although in those days immediately after she’d left, her greatest wish was a clean memory sweep of New Dimensions Technologies. Supposedly, she had gotten over it and this would be a new chapter. At least that’s what Laila had spent many weeks convincing her to believe and not to give up. Melissa headed down the familiar hall that led to the executive wing.

To enjoy this and the other stories, you may purchase at Evernight Publishing, Amazon, ARe, and Bookstrand.com

Michelle Rhys

Monday, June 16, 2014

Sexy, Erotic Executive Assistant Anthology-- Friday, June 20

Release Day: June 20

Meet my 'other' self -- Michelle Rhys.

As Michelle Rhys, my stories are targeted, without a doubt, for the adults who like their characters and plot laden with the uber sexy and tastefully erotic. I debuted in Evernight Publishing's Executive Assistant anthology, among a line up of great writers. Can't wait for you to read and enjoy. Definitely let me know what you think.

EXCERPT: Operation Conquer And Seduction (MFM)

7:15 a.m.

Melissa pushed open the familiar glass doors that changed her life. Her heels clicked along the marble floor as she approached the imposing receptionist’s desk. A familiar face, a mature picture of elegance and grace, looked up at her. The welcoming smile opened the release valve on Melissa’s panic, somewhat.

“Miss Honsou, good morning.”

“It’s good to see you, Laila. And please, stop pretending to be formal. I’m already nervous as hell. Can’t believe I’m back.” 

“To your first job.”

“Yeah, a lot of firsts happened under this roof.” Melissa mentally ticked off her first office romance, sexual encounter, orgasm, falling in love, heartbreak, and resignation.

“And, now, you’re back, bigger and badder.” Laila winked, and covered her mouth as if she’d said a bad word.

Check out Evernight Publishing or the major e-retailers for your copy on Friday, June 20.

If you'd like to keep updated with my happenings (I'm writing paranormal, sexy & erotic, and older YA/New adult), please sign up for my newsletter.

Take care,

Michelle Rhys

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Why I Switched To Paranormal Romance?--My Answer

In an interview this week, I was asked, "Don't you think you are going into paranormal romance after its peak?"

I can't remember my exact response, but I do know that I didn't say, yes.

The question, however, stayed with me because I mulled it over, bothered by its underlying assumption and bothered that I didn't give a succinct response. As is the case, with me, I'm much better writing my thoughts than spontaneously supplying a fantastic answer.

First, the context of the interview was about the landscape of self-publishing, especially for African American writers who were and in many ways still are marginalized by corporate publishing. So while there are certainly more African American authors in the general romance spectrum, as you break it down into the various subgenres of paranormal, historical, new adult, etc., the percentage gets dramatically smaller. Hence, many authors are turning to self-publishing for their platforms.

Why paranormal in the first place? The decision isn't an overnight one. Back in the late 80's and much into the 90s, I wrote horror fiction. Stephen King, Dean Koontz, William Peter Blatty's Exorcist, David Seltzer's The Omen, Ira Levin's Rosemary's Baby were the books that I devoured. At the same time, I was also reading Anne Rice's Interview With A Vampire, Chelsea Quinn Yarbo's vampire series. I loved Daphne Du Maurier's suspenseful mysteries and that wonderful gothic atmosphere to her books. That led to my love affair with the gothic romances. I particularly liked the stories where the mysterious goings on were not man-made, but elements of the supernatural.

That was the backdrop for my early novels. The works that will never see the light of day, but which held the truest passion for what I wanted to write. But that door was firmly closed, whether explicit or implicit (you know when you're not wanted even if someone doesn't show you to the door). Slowly I turned to historical romances and then to contemporary romances--conform and be accepted. And the mantra worked to get me published in 2002.

A lot has happened since then...paranormals have exploded. Mythologies and complex world building are all the rage. And even Hollywood and TV land has jumped into the fray with True Blood, Supernatural, Buffy, but even the science fiction stories--Walking Dead, Helix--appeal to me with humans turning into demons and monsters via experiments and viruses, instead of by the bite of a vampire. Clearly boundaries are being pushed, genres crossed, creative blending is producing innovative and original stories.

And yet, there is still a dismal lack of diversity even within the paranormal romance land. We are inundated by Eurocentric or Judeo-Christian mythology. To say that we've reached any sort of peak is to intimate that there is only one or two types of stories to tell. Arrogance at its highest. How much have you learned of the various Caribbean, African, Native American mythologies among these books. There is more than voo doo and there is more than animal spirits that turn hunky Native American men into werewolves. How about Chinese, Korean, Japanese mythology? They also have messengers of prophesies, death, and mayhem. Apply a few what if scenarios and a whole new world is born.

Who determines the rise and fall of a genre? Readers? Publishers? Exactly who carries that powerful job? Because clearly I've shown my love (financially) since the 80s for the type of stories that interest me. And I've also devoured (reading and rereading) the types of stories that interest me. And I wanted more. But I had to wait for gatekeepers to quantify how I would be satisfied with fits and starts of whatever is hot at the time. And in the meantime, no one fulfilled (and still hasn't) one of my needs to read paranormals beyond the neat box of who and what are included.

With self-publishing, I have creative freedom. It might be a niche. It might be enough people to fill a two-car garage. It might be enough to fill my high school auditorium. Or enough to fill three nights at Madison Square Gardens. You don't know until you do it. And the indie platform doesn't care whether it's in season or out of season--it's not fruit or garden vegetables that we're talking about.

My equation: Write the best book you can. Professionally edit the book. Design a bumpin' ass cover and hooking title. Market the book. Those are the things I'm capable of getting done. Strengths and weaknesses will occur, but that's normal. It's not as though "the other side" has the various elements of the equation nailed down. You live and learn (even fail), but you do it.

If a corporate publisher is interested in my work, Congratulations to me. But notice, they aren't at the front of my equation. Please don't come at me with "in season or out of season." Now, I've sufficiently answered the question. Next.

If you'd like to keep updated with my happenings (I'm writing paranormal, sexy & erotic, and older YA/New adult), please sign up for my newsletter.

Take care,

Michelle

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Re-Branding--Let The Renovations Begin

Have you ever suffered through a renovation of a room, or a house? There is high expectation for the end result, while a growing alarm over the chaotic feel of the removal and addition of various elements. Often times, you have to pull out that proposed plan or the vision photo to remind yourself of where you're heading. That the "under construction" sign is only a temporary transition. And one day, you'll be able to say, voila! and pop the champagne.

That's my current state of affairs. Renovations are underway. I'm undergoing a nip and tuck of my brand, which is more than shuffling sentences around with the latest, marketing buzz words. The intended brand change is a direct result of personal career changes to my writing portfolio. Now, I could wait for the complete make-over and have a grand announcement. That would be too tidy. It's me, we're talking about, after all.

Here's the reality. The thing is that my current brand will take a year or so to wind down and put to bed; while the new brand, which has already started, will continue into full bloom during this "year or so" transition period.

Right now, it's not important to know what is (soon to be 'was') my current brand. If you don't know me, haven't read my books, then, there is no need to make space in the brain/memory department on what I've been doing for the past 12 years. Thanks to digital technology...it's all there.

It's what's going on, from 2014, that I'm directing new focus. So while the under construction zone of branding entails tinkering with my social media sites, marketing for the new works, and my trajectory in the writing business, know this of my new brand:


As Michelle Monkou, I’m a writer comfortably at home in the world of dark and edgy paranormal romances that push boundaries.

As M.A. Monkou, I’m a writer of gritty, heavy, emotional young adult stories. 

As Michelle Rhys, I’m a writer of the sensual, sexy, or erotic tales for grown folk.

Don your hard hat, goggles, face mask, and join me on the construction zone. Sign up for my newsletter to stay abreast of the renovations. Looking forward to popping that champagne and toasting to the new me.


Take care,

Michelle

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

My Official Author Newsletter--Sign Up Invite


Hi Everyone!

It's me, Michelle Monkou.

In addition to writing the next romance book, I'm getting started with my official newsletter. Looking forward to getting the word out, on a regular basis, about my activities and all the fun contests and events planned. Would hate for you to miss anything, so I'm inviting you to join my newsletter community.


Subscribe to Michelle Monkou's newsletter

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

On The Hunt For My Reading-Writing Mojo

Once I turned in my last project, I knew my downtime would be near zero before having to jump into the next project. Instead, I jumped off the hamster wheel to pause, take a deep breath, and continue taking deep breaths (of course, exhaling). What I did was head for the library and grabbed two armloads of books.

Yes, I'm a bookaholic and will always have a book in hand, e-books too. My varied collection, this time, was more than casual reading. I was on the hunt for my reading-writing mojo. What did that mean?

For me, the reading and writing mojo are connected. I read before writing was ever a thought. How would you know how to tell a story, if you don't read? Why would you write if you didn't experience the emotions that you'd felt from reading? Those books that I've read and continue reading always motivate me with the desire to tell my stories, share my what if scenarios.

Over time, that mojo may get stale, lose its strength, or not have enough juice to nourish the creative well. And so I browsed library shelves selecting books that were recommended by friends, books by authors who I've always admired, books that approach subjects that I'm interested in writing, etc. Some were genre-specific, some were mainstream, some were writing manuals. And every day, I read, pondered over what I liked or didn't care for; considered the technique of the writer; deliberated over my satisfaction, or lack thereof. I made notes from the how to, considered the suggestions on improving the craft, etc.

And I know that what is occurring, what is transforming, is a steady journey from a narrow waterway to the expansive area of uncharted waters. Nothing is defined, at the moment (or that I'm willing to share with specifics). And that's how I want it. I'm open. Ready to receive and in exchange, gift what I've learned, what I question, what I celebrate, what I doubt, what I propose, what I love in bigger, bolder works.

That's a big task ahead. But it's one that only I can make. And really, I'm up for the challenge. Ready to fluff, spread my wings, and lift off for places yet to be discovered by me.

Michelle

Friday, April 25, 2014

Meet Your Next Book Boyfriend -- David Chastain


WINNER ANNOUNCEMENT: Amy B. enjoy your Starbucks E-Card

The Book Boyfriend Blog Hop is back and better than ever!


The authors of Evernight have a brand new team of swoon-worthy book boyfriend candidates. A sexy assortment of cowboys, Doms, detectives, millionaires, royalty, vampires, soldiers, and shifters are just a click away.


Get ready to find your next book boyfriend...

David Chastain

Is he a bookish archaeologist or surviving heir to the Nuuba Pride of Shifters?

Physical Stats:
  • In his own words: "he had the sleek, powerful design that nature intended, his cock included. At six-five, two hundred ten pounds, body fat at three percent, he was chiseled like a masterpiece."
  • He is a hybrid Panthera-a Leo cosmically linked with humans.
  • Keen eyesight, even in the dark; powerful sense of smell.
  • One admirer in her pursuit of him: "she wanted to fuck Adonis-reincarnated."
  • Left pectoral--inked design of tribal swirls, thick lines, and sharp hooks. Continues over his shoulder and along his neck, curling up behind his left ear.
  • Right pectoral--inked design of majestic lion wearing a full mane, sitting in repose. Its profile shows off a tiny diamond, as its eye, partially embedded in his skin.
Mission: David Chastain has one mission—to avenge the death of the royal Nuuba Pride, a dynasty of lion shifters. Enemies abound in all forms. Could Starr, the sultry warrior-priestess who abruptly interrupts his life for a quest, be his mate for life or his downfall for eternity? The adventure promises to be a wicked, steamy erotic ride to the end and beyond.

What’s up for grabs?
One lucky hopper will win a $100 Amazon Gift Certificate sponsored by Evernight Publishing.
Plus, each author is giving away their own unique prize! So visit each blog hop stop for a host of fabulous prizes to win.

How to enter? Answer this question in the comments below…

To win $15 Starbucks e-card
Share THREE drool-worthy, must-haves for your favorite book boyfriend to earn your love. Winner must join my Twitter page and/or my Author Facebook page (leave a comment on either page that you've joined the Pride). One winner will be selected and receive a $15 Starbucks e-card. Void where prohibited. 

Be sure to leave the answer and your email address to be eligible to win a prize. Each comment gives you an entry for the grand prize (one per blog hop stop).

Keep hopping to the next author or blogger. After you’ve met each hero click HERE to vote for your favorite book boyfriend. You’ll earn an extra grand prize entry!


You’re one step closer to meeting your next Book Boyfriend...





Friday, April 18, 2014

The Writer's Life - Taking Time To Revitalize

Another book completed.

Another sign that writing is my career, my calling, a serious pursuit.

What comes with the accomplishment is a major feeling of release. There are lingering effects of physical and emotional stress, understandably. And already there is one foot in the rollercoaster car as I look up at the steep climb of a blank screen with blinking cursor for the first line of the next book. And all of these elements of writer life don't necessarily jive with each other. What becomes more than necessary, but life-saving and sanity-preserving is inserting the space and time to chill.

Regroup. Revitalize. Restart.

Enter writer friend to the rescue with her lake home setting. The sanctuary is important. I'm not in need of seclusion from the world. I don't need a schedule of activities. And I also didn't need to spend hundreds of dollars to find my quiet place. A reasonable driving distance and time behind the wheel were enough incentive to pack my things into the car and head out for several days. There was need to Regroup.

First day, we chatted. Caught up on life and writing news. We worked on prioritizing my schedule for the next six months and massaging a marketing plan. A great discussion with lots of laughter and cool conversation. And then I stared at the lake. Total relaxation. Literally, stared at the constant ripples of its dark surface. Admired the geese and their constant loud calls.

Still not ready to write, and with no need to rush the process, I read Rebecca Walker's Ade: A Love Story. Memoir-style with fictionalized additions. Beautiful and deceptively simplistic. But it was the perfect launch for my writer soul. By the evening, we had our communal sharing of our writing experiences and sometimes, irreverent musings that are perfect over chips and salsa and wine.

As the days progress, we are entering the serious phase. Focus is tuned in as we ascend into our individual writing worlds. Maybe our paths will cross on the way in or out of the kitchen for coffee or tea. The half-eaten bag of chips may be opened for a quick crunchy snack. The mood shifts into work mode according to individual schedules and deadlines.

I'm cutting myself some slack. Didn't plan to. I aimed to have started working by now. But I'm not ready. I want to read a few more books for leisure, but also for the voice and style necessary for an upcoming project. And I'm still not done with staring at the lake. Letting my thoughts now bounce around unfettered by deadline stress or fear of evil distraction. The Revitalization is underway.

A couple days are left before reinserting myself back into my everyday life. I feel the spark, the initial desire and need to tell the next story. I'm going to re-read Anne Rice's Interview With A Vampire. A book that I read in April, 1990 on a Caribbean cruise and that launched my love for the paranormal. A book that matched the dark passionate romances that I'd written. It's the voice that's re-emerging.

Like a glowing ember, my creative spark will stay lit for that magical moment when I carry it to ignite the fire of creativity. I'll take the power of these days, the restorative spirit of the lake and Restart the engine.

This morning as I began my day with reading emails, I came across a note from a reader, Paulette H, "Love your books. Keep writing."

A beautiful incentive to continue with the course ahead.

Michelle Monkou
One Of A Kind (The Meadows Family)
Into The Pride (Nuuba Pride Shifters)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Get RADICAL Conference Experience -- Part 3, The Finale

All good things must come to an end. And the Get RADICAL Conference not only wrapped up today, but it also was the last time that this conference would be offered after six years.

And I was ready to go home. Had nothing to do with the fatigue or tiredness of the conference, which I didn't experience. Instead, it was the urge to get to work. I didn't want to talk about it. I didn't want to meditate over it. I knew what needed to be done. Some of my motivation was advice taken from the various workshop facilitators. Some of it was my own analysis because I had the chance to have a "retreat" of my own this weekend.

As things wound down, a farewell treat was listening to the women who were nominated for awards. Of course, to be nominated you had to do great things as a business owner and for the community. As each person rose to speak on what they'd accomplished, one couldn't help but be impressed.

They spoke about their businesses with passion, confidence, and focus. In some cases, they took blind risks, but with the utmost faith that they were doing the right thing. No one was an overnight success: hard work, sacrifices, and being unafraid to fail set them on their path.

It was the perfect send off to return to my life, get out of my way, and open the door to my success.

It's time to Roar!


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Get RADICAL Conference Experience -- Part 2

So we're onto day two of the Get RADICAL Conference. And I've learned that I'm not shitty. Any small business owner knows that it's hard as heck working that business 24/7. Add being a writer as the career and the crazy, unpredictable life could take you to the mental/physical edge. I'm not perfect, but I'm not all bad either.

One of things that I don't do anymore with conferences is to fill up my schedule every hour for the entire day. From my days of attending romance writing conferences, I would be at a workshop from the start time for the day until the last hour. By the time I got home, I had a notebook filled with information. Sometimes that information conflicted because two presenters had varying opinions on approach. Altogether, I'd be one confused and overwhelmed mess.

For this conference, I knew what would be my focus--business development. I stuck to that priority and selectively opted for workshops that could give me immediate assistance. Not something to develop or try over the next six months. But what could I put to use at this very minute.

There were two breakout sessions and an end of day wrap up that interested me. There will be an evening Q&A session that I will also pop into, but for the most part, what I needed was already offered today. Unfortunately I missed one of those sessions because I double booked. And although I didn't make it, what I got from the webinar meeting on self-publishing that I attended was massively helpful and went in tandem with what I was getting at the conference. So, I'm not that sad.

From today, I can boldly state:

I know what I want to do.

I have expertise in the area.

I have done the research.

I am doing the marketing.

I am enjoying the sales.

Now each statement is true with various levels of success, per my definition. Today, from the advice that I received, it reaffirmed that I am on the right track. That tweaks in my process are necessary. I'm sure those tweaks might come with real headbanging mindset changes, but still, they are tweaks. I don't foresee having to toss out the baby with the bathwater. I do look forward to putting some serious focus and game changing moves to my business.

And with the self-publish webinar that I attended and had caused the double-booking, that was sheer wow. I could see simple things that I had done wrong, but can easily fix. Almost two hours of information sharing helped set my mind at ease that this career, this life, can be successful, per my definition.

So with confidence, I say that...I'm not shitty.

Get RADICAL Conference Experience -- Part 1


Attending Doreen Rainey's Get RADICAL women's conference in Reston, Virginia. Special guests include Laila Ali, Lori Greiner, Jean Chatzky, Teneshia Jackson Warner. This year's theme is The Heart of A Champion.

The agenda covers personal and business development, along with attaining financial independence and empowerment. In other words, a taste of all the tools needed to make the bold dreams, take the necessary courageous action and get those radical results.

And it sounded like the perfect boost I needed for all the things I want to accomplish in 2014 and beyond.

Yet, the minute I paid for the conference, I wondered if this was for me. I've been to similar empowerment conferences. Get fired up. Go home on the high. And by the next week, can't remember a thing, the buzz has fizzled, back to the same-ole-same-ole thing.

By the day before the conference arrived, I wondered if I should just not go. Who would care? But I had paid. It was practically in my backyard...didn't have to fly. However, I had to remind myself that there was a reason why this appealed to me in the first place. It wasn't something that suddenly popped into my head to do. I do believe that people a.k.a. guides and opportunities are placed in your path for a reason. So, why not just go.

Off I went to the conference flying solo. I didn't have any buddies who went with me. I wasn't going to join up with recently discovered friends, etc. But that doesn't really bother me. I'm not timid with being among strangers. By the time, I attended a workshop, I found myself mentally sitting in as a spectator. Really, I knew that I was watching outside of any emotional investment or engagement. Ladies in attendance were excited. They were writing notes. Nodding. Cheering on. Agreeing. And I did cheer along, clap, listen, but felt nothing more than that. I chalked it up to being tired.

Late in the evening, Doreen invited folks to her suite for an intimate Q&A. I went with no real expectation of anything. I think that I just wanted to let her know that I came to the conference. That she'd done a fantastic job, etc. And as I plan to hire her as my coach, I wanted to let her know that I was serious by attending.

By the end of a long night, I finally raised my hand. I wasn't even sure what I wanted to ask. But out of the blue, I shared that I wasn't engaged. The room was quiet. I was thinking...now, why would you say that. You could have stayed silent. As I continued to explain what I meant and what I was feeling, Doreen understood. This wasn't a criticism of the conference.

Doreen was able to diagnose through tough questions that I'm at a place where I'm sitting on the fence, not wanting to feel vulnerable, so that if one more thing doesn't work, I can feel comforted that I wasn't fully in it, anyway. Her big question which I couldn't answer was what would it feel like to be engaged. As I struggled to answer, I knew that it wasn't a physical thing that had to be done to show engagement. Because I am attending the workshops, listening, cheering, etc. But the internal buy-in is what has to be turned on. She suspected that this wall to protect myself is up for more than this conference. Now is that the A-Ha moment that she's talking about a lot in the conference? And while we will attempt to bring this wall down for this event, I'm not altogether dissatisfied with it being in some parts of my life. This will definitely be a work in progress.

So far, it's been quite and illuminating evening. More to come this weekend.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Writing Process -- Farrah Rochon


(While Farrah is jetsetting in Turkey) Please help me welcome RITA nominee Farrah Rochon who is stopping by to talk about her writing process that leads to those fabulous books.


Hello to all of you out there and thanks to fellow author and friend, Michelle Monkou, for inviting me to talk about my writing process. I love hearing about how other authors go about their writing, and am happy to share my own crazy process.

1)        What am I working on?
It seems as if I’ve been on a perpetual deadline for the last couple of years. Currently I’m working on a continuity series with two fellow Kimani Romance writers, A.C. Arthur and Phyllis Bourne. It’s about three long time girlfriends--a florist, dress designer, and event planner—who call themselves “The Silk Sisters” and run their businesses from a lovely three-story Victorian in a small, fictional, coastal New England town called Wintersage.

I’m also toying with ideas for the next story in my “Moments in Maplesville” novella series, which I plan to publish this summer.

2)        How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I often joke that I’m horrible at writing category romances, because I try to put way too much into those 55,000 word stories. My work tends to touch on deep subjects that don’t seem typical of category romance, but for some reason it works. Take for instance YOURS FOREVER, my March 2014 release from Harlequin Kimani, and the third title in my Bayou Dreams series. The heroine is a history professor conducting research on her late ancestor; a woman whom she believes started the first school for African American slave children in the country. Despite the contemporary setting, the story relies heavily on history. It has a lush, rich feel to it.

3)        Why do I write what I do?

That’s a simple one: I love it. Writing is much too taxing on my brain to write something that I do not absolutely love. I tried that once. When I first started writing, back as a college undergrad, I wrote a suspense thriller, which is what I considered “popular” at the time. I still think that story was pretty good, but it wasn’t until I wrote my first romance that I realized how much more fun writing could be.

4)        How does your writing process work?

I’m a former “pantser” who has moved to the other end of the spectrum in a huge way. I now have a very detailed plotting and outlining process that I go through before I ever type a single word. It starts with a blank notepad (yes, each story gets its very own notepad), and ends with about a half-dozen poster boards covered in colorful Post-it notes. I consider this my “skeleton” stage, where I’m creating the backbone of my story. Writing the first draft is “adding the flesh” and I “dress it up and make it pretty” during those final rewrites and revisions.

For your further enjoyment about my writing process, check out the video:

)

~~~~~~~~~

THANK YOU, Farrah! Hope many of you learned a thing or two or more about Farrah. If you're an aspiring writer, she's a great role model in the business. 

Farrah's website: http://farrahrochon.com. Twitter: http://twitter.com/farrahrochon; Facebook: http://facebook.com/farrahrochon

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Writing Process Blog Tour

Welcome to a blog tour where writers and authors answer questions about their writing process. My gal pal and talented author, Evie Owens, posted hers last week, where she gives you the insider information on her process and upcoming YA project--Witch Boy -- and she tagged me to join the tour. Thanks, Evie! 




Purchasing the book is easy as pie. You can purchase directly from Evernight Publishing (right now there is a discount), or Kindle or Nook (they are little slow on the link, so I'll update as soon as available), All Romance EBooks.

What am I working on?
I'm working on several projects ALL the time. Stories pop up like dandelions in this brain of mine. With the recent release of my first urban fantasy Into The Pride, I'm working on the next book. At this very minute, I'm also working on my next book for Harlequin Kimani Romance, titled One To Love. It's book #2 in the Meadows Family. I will also be re-issuing several backlist titles in March: Making Promises, Island Rendezvous, Somebody To Love. I will soon be working on the sequel to my Revelers series, Carnival-based novella. This time the story is set in Brazil. Last year, I published the first, titled Carnival Temptress.




One of A Kind (Feb release)

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
With any author, the difference lies in her style and voice. You can put three authors in a room to write Cinderella's story and three varied outcomes will result. Guaranteed that you will get three versions with certain elements heightened, different tones, and voices.

I write contemporary--long and short, urban fantasy, young adult and new adult. Pretty soon, I will add historical to my portfolio. All with various ranges of my writing chops.


Making Promises (reissue) will hit Kindle and Nook in March.

Why do I write what I do?
Because I can. I have been telling stories from childhood when I turned them in for my Writing assignments. Many moons later, the desire is still there. The discipline is more honed. And I'm still in learning mode--acquiring and applying knowledge to improve my craft. I want readers to have a great experience. I write stories that match my reading appetite.


Available on Kindle and Nook.

How does your writing process work?
Each project is different. But I will take the time to plot and work on my characters before I begin writing. Once I start writing, I will continue to the end. Of course revisions may come in on something that requires my immediate attention. My motto is -- Get it done!

And now it's my turn to tag some people! I've chosen three of my colleagues. Check them out next Monday to find out their secrets to success....

Kwana Jackson 
A native New Yorker, Kwana  had two dreams: 1. to be a fashion designer and 2. to be a writer. After graduating from Stuyvesant, Kwana studied fashion design at FIT. She then spent ten years designing for various fashion houses. But after having twins and juggling that and fashion, Kwana took the leap of faith and decided to pursue her other dream of being a writer.
Website: http://kwana.com/

Bridget Midway
My passion for writing sensual, titillating scenes stemmed from my mother who always told me to follow my heart.  I now live on the east coast with my dreams, my close friends and wonderful characters who keep me up at night...and hopefully will do the same to you all, too!
Website: http://www.bridgetmidway.com/

Shelia Goss
Shelia M. Goss is a screenwriter, national best-selling author and a 2012 Emma Award Finalist. Her book, Montana’s Way, is nominated in the mystery category for a 2013 African American Literary Award. She has over sixteen books in print and over seven books as ebooks. She writes in multiple genres: Christian fiction, romance, women’s fiction, suspense, and young adult.

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Book Release: To Tempt A Billionaire

Have you ever had an item on your to do list that never seemed to get completed? For a while To Tempt A Billionaire was on the to do list ...