A View from Another Room

When I first started writing, I was an avid reader and still am. As a reader my selections of books were based on an eclectic taste I still can’t understand. Of one thing I was certain, I loved mysteries. From my first John D. McDonald’s color coded mystery to Walter Mosely’s latest Down Under the Sea I’ve come to learn, I wanted to see a bit of myself in those stories. None were truer than my lo020619_2139_AViewfromAn1.jpgve of the Stephanie Plum Mysteries by Janet Evanovich. I LOVED THOSE BOOKS, until I…didn’t. No fault of the author. Her characters were funny, unique and my kind of people. What got me writing my Maggie and Odessa Mystery series, was I wanted to step into that world and feel welcome. I wanted to go to the Blue Moon Restaurant, order coffee and one of Odessa’s best cakes and eavesdrop.

As a writer of color and a woman, I know we come in various shades as writers than what is expected of us. I like to believe the world is learning that as well, if not slowly. I look at N.K. Jemison, Octavia Butler, Attica Locke, Tananarive Due as well as others. What these authors bring to the table is what makes me feel welcome. A view that sometimes is missing, especially with the traditional publishing industry being over 80% white and male. As women of color, their view of the world deepens my choices as a reader.

As I’m about to release my newest book in the series, I still remember the first time I finished the last page of Pennywise. I wasn’t sure if I did Ms. Plum any justice, but I filled a void I thought was missing, at least for me. Some new voices that follow continue to do the same. I’ve seen them, they are out there, growing and gaining strength.

My view, slightly different to some, but not to me, is a view from my room. A sometimes humorous, silly, culturally mixed bag of characters that I see every day. While I loved Stephanie Plum, I was looking for Maggie and Odessa. Our view of the world is often seen from different rooms. Giving each a slightly distinct perception of the scene before them. I like that, I like that a lot.


An Upside Down Life

Blog upside down imageWhen I first started writing, I used it as an escape. A place where I could forget about everything. Someplace where I dictated the rules. It was like taking a vacation every time I put words to an empty page. As I took my writing seriously, it evolved into something else. I was no longer writing just for myself. I assume all writers go through this, as their work evolves, so do they. When writing became my full-time occupation, it no longer became an escape I could just disappear into and nothing else, it became my job. First, writing on demand became a problem for me. Expectations of delivering so many words per day, a novel a year, fresh ideas and let’s not forget feeding the social media beast. My joy of writing suffered from it and I had to evolve again. For me to get to the place where I love putting words on the page, I had to turn my life upside down.

Like my former nine-to-five job, I had to find enjoyment, or I wouldn’t be good at it. Even on my worst day at work, I needed to find the joy. Writing full time made this easy, I already liked my choice of careers. The hard part was to see it as the job it was. Something with schedules, goals and objectives I had to accomplish. Otherwise, I would just write for myself. There was my need to write, but also a need for someone to read what I had written. I am not ashamed to admit as a reader, demanding my favorite author/s to finish writing his next book, so I could read it. I’m sure George R.R. Martin gets a lot of nasty little nudges from anxious readers. Like some unwritten contract between the writer and the reader.

I can say I write for myself and for my readers. As long as I can do that, I’m fine. A nine to five I will happily accept. Now, most days I find myself in front of the computer writing. A day that starts off with my mandatory cup of coffee, a quick breakfast and notes for the day. A break for lunch and back at the computer, struggling with characters, plotting and editors. Unless I’m on a mad bent, I stop in the late afternoon. Time to connect with the outside world, family and friends who thought I fell off the face of the earth. A time to not think about my new job. Upside down, you see.