Saturday, March 15, 2014

A Perfect Vocal: A Revision Model

Teena Marie had one in the song, “Fire and Desire,” and Luther Vandross had several throughout his career, Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway and Phillip Bailey as a lead in the mega –group Earth, Wind and Fire. I’m talking about a perfect vocal where notes are delivered so clear that they touch down masterfully onto the musical melody. It’s undeniable, not a note, rift or run has to be changed. Most likely a production engineer did not say,” Let’s run that back and try again.” No remix needed. A remake by another artist is not advised. This is why I listen to music while I’m editing a novel. It reminds me that perfection is possible. Artistry begets Artistry. We are all looking to produce as Larenz Tate described in the movie, Love Jones, ‘the definitive work’. Julia Cameron in the book, The Artist Way talks about taking an artist date where you nourish your inner artist by indulging in muse-worthy activities. It could be a day at the theater, a movie or a leisurely walk through a park. You can find me taking my date tethered to Beats headphones with my 1418 song playlist. What defines us- our brand – our message must all be contemplated when you’re editing. How will this work measure up to other books, and how will it stand out? Revising a novel like recording a song must concentrate on what a work is saying. A great beat is cool, but a song has to be lyrically strong for me to make a connection. Everyone knows or has known someone who can just,” . . .love them and leave them.” Still others may identify with the raw and vengeful voice of newcomer, Jazmine Sullivan who boldly confesses, ‘I bust the windows out your car.” Plotlines are everywhere. I create a playlist with each book I write as if I were asked to make a soundtrack for the movie version. Each song reminds me of the minutest detail in my story make up. When I edit, I whittle my first draft back to my characters motivation and the pursuit of their goal. My goal is to reach the very nerve ending of my characters certainly, but my readers as well, and poke at it. In fact on of my themes of my new book, Submissionary, about an unlikely missionary on his way to Haiti, is about editing his relationships after a long absence. It’s a process, you either love or hate, but it is necessary. Revising a novel like recording a song is all about the way in which you say things. Who can forget Adele’s break out hit, “Someone Like You.” Now, that’s a perfect vocal in its mix of what its saying and how it is said. It has very poignant lyrics, and it is haunting in its delivery. I try to be a relationship weaver in that same respect to show those bonds between people, and, certainly the bond between a person and their creator is what art is all about. It’s about experience. I guesstimate 85% of the songs written at its core are about relationships. Most of them are not ever covered the same way. Love has subtle nuances you don’t get right the first time whether on a digitally mastered MP3 or the printed page. The way people meet, how they love and how they clash, ultimately calls for creativity in one’s delivery. I must remember as a novelist that it’s not just the outcome but how my characters arrive there. It’s about the journey that seems fresh and new. When you achieve what you’re trying to say and how you are trying to say it, you’ve just laid the perfect track. Admittedly, not everyone achieves it. You got to tinker with the elements- Earth, Wind and Fire – your Fire and Desire to get it right, and the saving grace of talent.

Some Thoughts Take Longer to Complete

I am motivated by tangents – obsessions really. I remember in my late twenties being obsessed by what I consider the lost artform of quilting. I read up on it, went to exhibitions, and endeavored to make one myself. I made a photo transfer quilt for my family and went on to make other decorative pieces (earning a blue ribbon at the Charles Co. fair.) Then just like that, I felt like, I think I’ll write a book. You can imagine that writing a book becomes an all-consuming task. Maybe it’s because I write Christian fiction but research becomes Bible study and the message resembles ministry. I liken writing a novel to completing a thought. Second to characterization, theme is so important to how and why I write. I start off with a bunch of questions and a few big ideas and characters big and bold enough to embody what I find out. Through the process of writing, I seek to come up with some answers and complete a thought. My second book, Path to Promise in the LOP series (Land of Promiscuity) is about to come out this fall. The characters, Rebecca (Weary) and Will have traipsed through my mind for a long time. I knew them to be characters, but sat them on the shelf for a good ten years. I figure to endeavor to do His will without getting weary has to be the struggle of every Christian, not just me. I should have known these characters would need more than one book to bring their story to a close. So outside of trying to complete their story I wanted to find other stories, and other’s interpretation of these scriptures. So watch out for an anthology that I compiled on my imprint Holy*Ghost*Writing*. It is my hope that you will pre-order and buy Path to Promise and for its October 29th release and support these new and experienced authors I’ve invited into this conversation titled ( wink, wink), you guessed it, Weary and Will on November 12th.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Write Away Weekend October 5-7, 2012 Fort Washington, Maryland Put your writing goals and dreams on you to-do list! Change of Pace, Change of Productivity, Give Yourself the Write Away! Write Away Weekend is an intimate writer's residency at the tranquil Private Stay by Madly Living bed and breakfast in Fort Washington, MD. Writers of Write Away will be focused, inspired and productive amongst a supportive community of writers. Hosted by Multi-published author,Sherryle Kiser Jackson. Space is limited to only ten slots with an option for daystayers and overnighters at our inaugural event. Make your writing goals a priority and reserve your spot today. Check us out on the web for payment details at: http://www.writeaway.vpweb.com

Monday, February 20, 2012

2012 Favorite Literary Couples

There is no mistake I am a hopeless romantic. First hint, I was married on Valentine’s Day. Second, some of my favorite movies are Love Jones, where Larenz Tate’s character tells Nia Long’s character, “Love is serious as a &$%#@^&*,” and Love and Basket ball where Sanaa Latham knocks on the window of neighbor and first love, Omar Epps and challenges him to a game of one on one basketball, “for his heart.” I eat that stuff up.
Love is complicated, and I thank God He caters love stories to each and every couple. I got to thinking, this Valentine’s day, of Literary couples whose pursuit and / or possibility of love stuck with me long after I finished the book. Here they are in no particular order except #1.

1. Lena and Herman from Tina Mc Elroy Ansa’s novel, The Hand I Fan With. You got to read this love story. One of my favorite books of all time. Let’s just say, Herman is, shall we say, other –worldly, and is tailor made for her. He loves him some Lena, and love him she does.
2. & 3. Triptych. Look it up on both on Amazon and Dictionary (dot) com. Buy it. Read it. It’s worth it. Like #1, this is not Christian Fiction. This book takes two spots because, well you just have to read to understand, but I looooved what Wendy Coakley Thompson does with the character Ally. You go girl, that goes for Ally and Wendy. As far as couples go, there are two that stuck with me, Ally and Jonathan and Ally and Tim to quote the author from the front cover to better explain this triangle, death and infidelity. Straight up. With an erotic twist.
4.Gideon and Arizona from Eric Jerome Dickey’s Gideon Series (Sleeping with Strangers, Waking With Enemies, Resurrecting Midnight) Why aren’t they together? Uh, maybe cause they are both armed, dangerous and explosive together. Under all that grit, there is love. They’ve darn near laid down their life for one another in several scenes, and in their business, the biases of a love affair can be costly. Even in one of the last books where she appeared to be permanently linked to another man, who was there to save and nurse her back to health? Love him, love them.
5.Up pops love, in my girl, Rhonda Mcknight’s short story, “ A Piece of Revenge” in the trilogy of stories found in A Woman’s Revenge .Tamera Watson finds a hunky detective in Kemuel Powers to help her track down her husband and save her from going postal on him when he runs away with her dreams. I love the possibility of them and urge my sister-writer-friend to revisit them at some point.
6. Lady Jasmine could be paired with anyone. She’s beautiful, crafty and smart, but her heart ultimately belongs to Hosea Bush. Victoria Christopher Murray has weaved this love story in several books ( A Sin and a Shame, Too Little Too Late, and Lady Jasmine,to name a few). I l ove Hosea. I want to steal him from Jasmine. He’s too good for her. This couple’s relationship has been tested by fire. They’ve been to hell and back with Jasmine driving sometimes, but they manage to stick in there. I wonder did Victoria know Jasmine’s capacity to love from book one, Temptation?
7, From Miranda Parker’s debut novel, A Good Excuse to be Bad, bounty hunter, Angeline Crawford and her pastor-slash-crush ,Justus send off sparks. It proves the chase is sexy.
8. Regina Burns married Blue Hamilton from Pearl Cleage’s Baby Brother Blues shows that tough guys fall hard. Blue shows up in other novels by Cleage as this community activist-slash-Neighborhood Watch-Hell’s Angel character. He’s smooth, could have anyone but chooses Regina. His passion for her and his community mission pours from the page.
9. You thought I wasn’t? Certainly, if I love an authentic love story, I would try to write a few. Newlywed and nearly insane, Willie and Vanessa Green combines their congregation and invite new troubles into their new union in Soon and Very Soon and again in Soon After.
Deidre Collins and Andre Hicks is my "Been there, done that" couple who parted ways and are brought back together when their teenaged son starts making all the mistakes they made in my sophomore release,The Manual
10. Pamela “Pill” Taylor vowed to live a fabulous life. What will the mirror of marriage reveal about her past? Poor Corey didn't know his new wife came with a promissory note, but he loved her furiously. Corey and Pill are from my current selection, Taylor Made.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

My New Book Contract


An idea for a novel starts as a notion that becomes an obsession. Writing the novel is therefore obssessive compulsive behavior ~Sherryle Kiser Jackson

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

An excerpt from Taylor Made

Pamela Jones Taylor was looking at a pitiful sight nestled in her lap. When she realized she wasn’t moving she turned her attention back to the road. She crept toward the exit of the Suburban Banking and Trust lot.
A drizzle was dampening the sign of a homeless man at the corner. It read, Hungary, please help. God Bless. The misspelling was compounding the effect of the man’s hopelessness.

“C’mon,” she groaned, out of exasperation a few moments later, as a new model Mercedes Benz switched over into the lane she was about to turn into, blocking her exit from the bank parking lot. Three more luxury cars whizzed by her before a soccer mom in a stereotypical minivan, distracted and obviously yelling at several kids, allowed her access to the main road where she sat with the rest of the speed demons at the red light.

The homeless guy could hardly be seen for the Korean man with a pail of roses working the same corner. The homeless man, a wiry dark-skinned man of fifty-something with few personal effects confined to a small duffel bag did have a rain poncho. It was the thin, clear plastic kind with a hood that anyone can buy from the dollar store that made them feel as if they were wearing a plastic bag.
Pam remembered being forced to go into a corner store by her older sister to buy one of those cheap shields herself years ago when she was crowned homecoming queen in her senior year of high school. She remembered how embarrassed she felt encased in plastic like a couch in her Aunt Agnes’ living room. She played it off by telling people that she still wanted her outfit to be seen through the transparent shield. Other girls in her homecoming court in anticipation of the rainy forecast went out and bought matching umbrellas and the pink polka dot rain slickers that were high-priced and in style then.

In her Cosmopolitan dreams, she would have done one better and gotten the complimentary designer boots. In reality though, her sister informed her that her homecoming attire was already a luxury they could not afford. Once again she was painfully aware that there was a wide gap between the have and the have nots. The latter was the story of their life with their momma. She decided then that she would not only be among the ones who have, but that she would have it all.

The memory made her sneer at the homeless man as he inched his way toward her car holding his sign at her car window. He had nothing coming. She put her hand up for added emphasis. She had her own problems. She flipped open her pink metallic razor cell phone and adjusted the ear piece. The round knob would not fit comfortably in her ear. She needed a Bluetooth in her life, like the girls at work. She also had her eye on the new iPhones with a built in Mp3 player and touchscreen for texting, like Carmen’s, the salon owner she worked for. Switching phones meant switching payment plans and since she was now married it would be something else she would have to negotiate with her husband, Corey.

She decided to call Corey and engage him in a little game of bait and catch. He was a ground deliveryman for UPS which made his cell phone his mobile office and made his talk time limited. When they first got married six months ago, she had to get use to their brief check –in calls at least once a day. She figured today it would give her opportunity to gage his mood.

“Everything all right?” Corey asked, after greeting her.

“I have to run into the drugstore. I was wondering do you need anything?”
He did that kind of half-sigh, half-chuckle he sometimes does that she had not quite distinguished between amusement and disgust. “Is that your way of telling me you’re going shopping? Knowing you, you’ll get to CVS via Macy’s, Ann Taylor and Abercrombie and Finch.”

At least he had gotten her stores right, she thought. “Excuse me for being considerate of my husband. Isn’t that what they tell us in Marriage Maintenance Class?”

“Yeah alright, Pill,” Corey said, calling her by her nickname. She could admit that she could be moody at times, add that to her confidence that some would mistake for arrogance and refer to her as ‘a trip.’ Ms. Tyler, her third grade teacher, trying her best to censor her comments about Pamela’s behavior simply wrote in the comment section of her report card, Pamela is quite a pill. Her outburst and overall off-task behavior is a little hard to swallow. The name stuck. She would put her own spin on it when having to explain the sometimes embarrassing nickname by saying, “Whether bitter or sweet, I’m good for ya.” Most people elected to call her primarily by her given name, Pamela, or a shortened version, Pam, when they first meet her. Like Corey, they soon switched off and used her nickname once they had ingested a taste of the Pill.

“Keep in mind your booth fee is due today. Don’t go spending any money,” Corey said.

Apparently she already had spent lots of money and just didn’t remember. Shopping gave Pill a high. Sometimes it was as if Pill blacked out after a shopping binge much like an alcoholic that had too much to drink. She couldn’t remember what she had bought, especially when trying to hide her purchases from Corey. He had asked her time and time again to write stuff down particularly when the money for those purchases came out of their joint account. In her mind that kind of documentation provided evidence to her husband about her spending that could easily go under the radar. Accounting for every belt, hat, purse, jacket and pocketbook to a man is what she refused to do.

“Well, I put in three hundred fifty for us on that mink coat my mom wanted. Although, I don’t know what a 65 year old needs with a fur coat. I didn’t look at the ATM receipt for a balance, but I know there should be enough left in the account,” Corey said.

Pill almost expelled a sigh of relief into the phone. She was so glad she hadn’t tampered with the money for her mother-in-law’s gift. Corey told her over a month ago that the two of them would go in with his dad and his only sibling, Danielle, to buy a mink jacket for their mother to show off in when she wore it to church. There was never any denying that Pam was not her mother-in-laws’s choice for Corey. Pill didn’t know what she had done to the woman, but the air of distrust was immediately apparent upon meeting her. She assumed it was just game recognizing game. Mrs. Jones was spoiled by Corey’s father and everyone else in the family. Obviously she didn’t want Pill to be the recipient of any generosity Corey may have inherited. Pill would have never been able to live it down if Corey’s mother couldn’t get her precious mink because they didn’t have their share of the money.
In this case, Pill happened to agree with her mother-in-law’s fashion sense. A mink coat meant she truly had it going on. Jet Black, she thought, Corey and Danny better had gotten her a black mink that would absolutely sizzle with her salt and pepper hair. Pill dreamed about flossin’ in her own mink coat one day, but for now she would settle for a short chinchilla coat with the matching headband.

Recollection of where some of the money went hit her like a thunderbolt. She could see eighty dollars change hands between her and Ahmad, the resident hustle man at Carmen’s Epic Beauty salon. He came in the shop twice a month with two large storage tubs and a rickety clothing rack filled with trendy apparel still tagged and on hangers that, “just came in.” From where was never questioned.

While her fellow stylists were devouring Baby Phat knock-offs, Pam spotted a camel colored sheerling poncho with the matching alpine boots. It wasn’t out for public display, but she had to have it. She remembered the supermodel, Gasselle wearing a similar poncho while riding a white stallion in an ad in the latest issue of Cosmo. Although she knew Ahmad’s version wasn’t designer, her knock off was definitely better than her co-worker’s knockoffs. She went into acquisition mode.

She waited until Ahmad went to the back to question him about his hidden stash. He explained that he had promised the ensemble to his lady friend, but assured her that he could get her one when his cousin went back to New York’s garment district. It was a lay-a-way of sorts, which was not their normal way of doing business. His policy when selling was cash-and-carry, and hers when purchasing was cash-on-delivery. She had made an exception that day as she dashed to the ATM, ordering the shampoo girl to put a heat activated conditioner in her next client’s hair and set her under a blow dryer to stall for time. She gave him the $80 plus another $ 100 from her smock. She figured since he was going to New York, he might find a pair of Seven jeans she had been wanting.

If Carmen wanted her money on time, she had to stop the vendors from soliciting in her shop, Pill reasoned.

“When I get paid tomorrow the cycle starts all over again.” Corey said, interrupting her thoughts.

The cycle he was referring to was their bare bones budget that delineates his first check of the month for the mortgage on their three bedroom townhouse and her earnings going to the other bills. They used his second check to pay the lease on her new Honda Accord and pay insurance, which included a policy on his Corolla that had been paid off long ago. They locked into this schedule during the last month of their marriage prep class and agreed to revisit it. Once a month they attended the Marriage Maintenance class for newlywed couples at church that focused on the emotional, physical and financial side of their relationship now that they have taken the plunge into matrimony.

“You’re saying that to say?” Pill said defensively, still trying to account for the extra money she had obviously spent.

“Don’t go spending any money. I gotta go. See you later,” Corey said. Good-byes were not necessary.

Money from Rosetta’s weave that she did on Saturday would give her a quarter of her monthly booth fee, but subtract from her bill money. She did at least call in the digits from her debit card to pay the gas and electric on Monday. Corey had warned her against debiting the account as opposed to taking the money directly to source or mailing it out on time. ‘You never knew when they would take their money out your account’. Gosh, she should write this stuff down.

Pill laid her hand on the horn to join in with those cars in front of her showing their displeasure at an eighteen wheeler who was unsuccessful at making a u-turn and was blocking their lanes when the light turned green. Now she would be late for the staff meeting at the salon on top of being late with her booth rental.
The rain hadn’t let up and there she sat. The rose man had long since taken cover, leaving the homeless guy with a now drenched cardboard sign in position at the base of the intersection. Pill looked down in her lap. She was indeed witnessing a pitiful sight. Her bank receipt read -$152.00.

Soon and Very Soon Book Trailer