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I started writing fiction 15 years ago. Unlike some, I didn’t start out to write the great American novel. I viewed learning fiction techniques as a means to improve my non-fiction writing. To that end, in September of 1997, I took an eight-week class on how to write a novel.

Our assignment was to write the first chapter of our book. I volunteered to read mine aloud. After I finished, the class applauded.

“That’s really good,” my teacher said. “What happens next?”

I told her that she’d asked us to write the first chapter, not what happened next, so I had no idea. She pushed me to continue the story, and by the end of the class, I wanted to know what happened next. That quest, to tell my character’s stories, to give them a voice, to learn what happens next, drives me as a writer.

I’m currently shopping the first book in the Kadence MacBride mystery series, Death of an Island Tart. 

Excerpt—Death of an Island Tart 

There comes a time in every woman’s life when she has to go get her man. My time was now. That’s what put me on a jet, somewhere over the Caribbean, in this hootchie-momma outfit I’d let my friend Charlene talk me into. Everything I normally let hang out was trussed up like a turkey, and the things I always kept covered were out there swinging in the breeze.

Clothes may make the man, but they change the woman. I’m a knocking-on-forty African-American with junk in my trunk and a chest that women go under the knife for; I always dress to downplay that. I want folks judging me for my mind not my body.

In this stuff, every time I stood up, I was sticking my chest in some man’s face. And when I walked, my butt swished like a Whirlpool on agitate.

Clothes may change the woman, but they make the man lose his mind. They got me to the front of the security line and in first-class on a coach ticket. Terrence didn’t have a prayer.

 Death of an Island Tart won Go On Girl’s (the largest African-American bookclub in the U.S.) 2011 unpublished author’s award, placed second for the 2010 Linda Howard Award of Excellence, second for the 2009 Daphne du Maurier Award for single title romantic mystery, and was a semi-finalist for the 2008 Amazon/Penguin Breakthrough Novel Award.