How to Use Twitter to Get an Agent – Guest Post by Stephanie Faris

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My quest to get published began before every agent had a website and accepted queries by email. I spent years carrying packages to the post office, paying for return postage, then checking the mail every day to see if a rejection letter had arrived yet.

Today’s aspiring novelists don’t even have to leave the house to land an agent. However, the Internet has also increased the competition. More authors than ever are trying to get the attention of an agent and all of them have access to the basic information on agency websites. However, even if agents list their preferences on those websites, they can change on a whim. My agent posted this a couple of months ago:

“I am dying for a new adult cozy mystery serious; historical or funny contemporary!”

If you were following her and just happened to have such a book on your hard drive, the timing would have been perfect to send it right over.

But there’s an art to participating on Twitter. Here are a few things you should do if you’re looking for an agent.

Follow Agents

Success on Twitter relies heavily on the people you follow. Find writers who have interests similar to yours and start interacting with them. They’ll likely help you build the community you need on the site. As you start querying, make sure you review each agent’s Twitter feed to see if they’ve expressed an interest in anything in particular lately. Here are a few agents who are always helpful:

Find Hashtags

In addition to following agents, you can also use hashtags to join in a conversation. Often the most useful hashtags will be part of events where participating authors get something useful out of it. Here are some hashtags to note:

  • #PitMad—A pitch party where participants tweet three short descriptions of three of their books. Polish your pitches—the next #PitMad is September 8!
  • #PitchWars—This contest has multiple rounds, with mentors and agents reading manuscripts. The most recent one just took place, but read all about it before the next one!
  • #AskAgent—Agents announce that they’re taking questions through the hashtag #AskAgent and Twitter members send them over. Read over past sessions and you’ll likely find some great tips.
  • #MSWL—Under this hashtag, agents and editors post their manuscript wishlists. A must follow, for sure!

Most importantly, participate. Have fun. The more you participate in Twitter events and get to know other authors, the more likely you’ll be to get the information you need to achieve your dreams.

PiperMorgan Joins the Circus

When Piper Morgan has to move to a new town, she is sad to leave behind her friends, but excited for a new adventure. She is determined to have fun, be brave and find new friends.

In Piper Morgan Joins the Circus, Piper learns her mom’s new job will be with the Big Top Circus. She can’t wait to learn all about life under the big top, see all the cool animals, and meet the Little Explorers, the other kids who travel with the show. She’s even more excited to learn that she gets to be a part of the Little Explorers and help them end each show with a routine to get the audience on their feet and dancing along!

Piper Morgan In Charge

In Piper Morgan in Charge, Piper’s mom takes a job in the local elementary school principal’s office. Piper is excited for a new school and new friends—and is thrilled when she is made an “office helper.” But there is one girl who seems determined to prove she is a better helper—and she just so happens to be the principal’s daughter. Can Piper figure out how to handle being the new girl in town once more?

Stephanie Faris

Bio:
Stephanie Faris knew she wanted to be an author from a very young age. In fact, her mother often told her to stop reading so much and go outside and play with the other kids. After graduating from Middle Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Science in broadcast journalism, she somehow found herself working in information technology. But she never stopped writing.

 

Stephanie is the Simon & Schuster author of 30 Days of No Gossip and 25 Roses. When she isn’t crafting fiction, she writes for a variety of online websites on the topics of business, technology, and her favorite subject of all—fashion. She lives in Nashville with her husband, a sales executive.

 

Links:
Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
Amazon

 

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Tips for Writing a Page-Turner – Guest Post by Audrey Mei

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“I’m crying, your book is so great.”

It was one day since I’d sent my manuscript out to a round of beta-readers. I was nervous. Then I started getting real-time updates from people as they read my book.

“I have SO much to do this weekend, but I can’t stop reading your book!”

And I realized, I had written a page-turner. A 120,000-word, historical, literary fiction page-turner! Talk about an oxymoron.

It hadn’t even been my goal to write a big, fat, Chinese family saga that readers would eat up in two days, although I was very (cautiously) flattered when feedback started rolling in sooner than expected. My goal was just to write really well, to cleanse my manuscript of the most pernicious mistakes that writers make. However, in retrospect, I learned from writing Trixi Pudong and the Greater World that to create a true page-turner, you need two things.

The first is Suspense. That’s a no-brainer and it’s pretty easy. Most authors who have completed a manuscript already do this. Basically, it’s a natural law that readers want to know “What happens next?”. So you toss in a dead body, a mysterious new-comer in town, or a missing family member and the reader flips pages to know more. But suspense isn’t enough. Sometimes the reader still doesn’t finish the book, no matter how many loose ends you lay at their feet.

You need the important second element of a page-turner: Clarity.

While I was writing Trixi Pudong, my editor made a comment which I’ll remember forever. It pertained to “Edwin’s Story,” the longest chapter in the book. She had circled a minor character’s name in red ink and written:

“Who is this man again? I had to go back and re-read a few pages to find who this guy is. Be more clear. Don’t make your readers go back. After a while they’ll give up.”

Thus it clicked. Clarity is the real hidden secret to writing a page-turner. You need clarity on every page about who the characters are, where your story takes place, and what the motivations are, otherwise your readers will have to “go back and re-read.” The opposite of page-turning is page-turning backward. This makes a book seem like a slog. I notice this often when I read self-published books that haven’t been properly edited. Inevitably, I find myself asking at regular intervals:

Wait a second, where are we again?
Um, who is this person?
Why does he/she care?
Who’s talking again?
What does he/she mean?
Excuse me, but what’s the big deal again?

So I repeat: Do NOT make your readers go back.

A page-turner flows forward, quickly.

Novel writing is like stage acting. You must exaggerate. It’s not enough to open a chapter with “Wednesday in the car” and then expect the reader to remember this while your characters have a conversation that could’ve taken place in a kitchen, a school, or a train. Um… no. The reader has to feel the time and location, because in real life, we talk differently if we’re in a car, a night club, in an igloo, or in a room with a sleeping baby. We whisper, we yell, we misunderstand each other, we’re distracted. The location and time of the scene has to come across on every page. Same for characters: Their unique voices and motivations have to come across on every page. How is the sister different from the aunt? What’s the difference between the Sergeant and the General? I don’t want my reader to “go back and re-read” to remind themselves why it’s important that Whatsherface said Whatever.

Like many of you, I’m a writer of #DiverseBooks. It’s a huge risk to write a long Chinese family saga that no agent or publisher anywhere would want to represent. And that few readers would relate to or even want to buy. So I’m up against many odds. Therefore, the greatest feedback I have yet received came from the American Midwest, from readers who have never left the country:

“Your book is so exotic! I couldn’t put it down. I had no idea that I’d learn so much about China.”

Very interesting. I just sent my reader on a trip. That was an unexpected mission, accomplished.

And I hope readers also take a page-turning trip to all sorts of new places, with your books.

Many thanks to Quanie for setting up my blog tour, for hosting me, and for being an all-around wonderful, supportive, and inspiring fellow author. 
———————-
Trixi Pudong and The Greater World
Trixi Pudong and the Greater World is currently a top-selling Asian American Literature ebook on Amazon.
Find out more at www.trixipudong.com.
You can purchase it on Amazon.
Twitter: @TheGritlands
Bio:
Audrey in Oslo PicAudrey Mei was born in California. She studied in Boston, where she graduated from New England Conservatory with a BM in cello performance and from Tufts University with a BA in biological psychology. In 1996, she received a Fulbright Grant to study cello at Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland. Although her field was music, the Fulbright Committee was deeply impressed by her writing and greeted her with the question, “When will your first book appear?” Audrey would like to thank the Committee for their enthusiasm and apologizes for the 20-year delay.
Audrey’s writing as appeared in Gangway Literary Magazine and Glimmer Train, among other publications. She spends her time between Berlin and San Francisco with her husband, daughter, and black Havanese dog.

Diverse Historical Fiction Blog Tour – Sign up!

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I am sooooo super excited to announce the release of Audrey Mei’s debut novel, Trixi Pudong and the Greater World. With the huge push for diverse books, Trixi Pudong and the Greater World is right on time: it’s a family saga with a magical twist that spans from Shanghai’s Golden Age to 2015.  I cannot wait to read it. You can add it on Goodreads here.

Trixi Pudong and The Greater World

 

Here’s the blurb:

Revolution rages in 20th-century China, a rusting container ship sails the world for two decades, and a tiny fairy is frustrated in a northern harbor town. “Trixi Pudong and the Greater World” is a family saga with a magical twist, spanning Shanghai’s Golden Age to Hamburg, Germany, 2015. It is a tale of four generations of a Chinese family, torn between their deepest dreams and loyalties.

And trailer:

I met Audrey at The San Francisco Writers Conference a few years ago. After a panel of literary agents gave me feedback on the first page of my then WIP, I realized that I needed to cut the first two chapters of the novel. But I wasn’t exactly sure how to approach the new beginning. Enter The Awesome Audrey Mei. We were sitting around in one of the sessions waiting for the speaker when Audrey asked me what my book was about.  I started telling her how the main character receives a mysterious yellow envelope the day of her wedding. “That’s it!” she said. “Start it there. Absolutely.” And the rest is history!

I’m so glad to celebrate this milestone in Audrey’s career. She’s having a blog tour to launch her book and I’m incredibly honored to help her organize it (and to participate in it myself).

If you’d like to sign up, you can do so here or below.

 

Meet Audrey!

AUDREY!Audrey Mei was born in Oakland, CA, and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area before studying cello and biological psychology/pre-med in Boston (New England Conservatory of Music/Tufts University). Following graduation, she received a Fulbright Grant for graduate studies in cello performance at Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland.

Since 2006, Audrey has been dedicated to writing prose and poetry and has been published in Gangway Literary Magazine and Glimmer Train among others, as well as participating for several years in the Berlin English language literary scene. She lives with her husband, daughter, and dog in either Germany or California. Drop her an email to find out which one!


New Romantic Suspense Release! Seismic Crimes by Chrys Fey and #Giveaway!

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Happy Monday, Everybody! Today I’m hosting blogger and author extraordinaire, Chrys Fey, as she celebrates the release of her novel, Seismic Crimes. And don’t forget to enter the giveaway below! Any lovers of romantic suspense in the house? How do you approach writing about cops??? Let’s hear about it!

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Profile of a Cop – BURNETT

Name: Burnett

Occupation: Police Officer

Character Type: Good Guy

Location: Orlando, Florida

Likes: Coffee, protecting the innocent, and putting away criminals

Dislikes: Fellow officers trying to get away with crimes.

Favorite TV Show: The Blacklist

Favorite Movie: Die Hard

 

EXCERPT:

Her eyes lowered, her fingers tugged the string on his pants. “These are nice.” The look on her face and the way she batted her lashes told him she was teasing him. “You came close to wearing these for the rest of your life.”

“Would you have visited me?”

“Hm.” She bit her bottom lip as she considered his question. “I don’t know. I think things would’ve been different if they had hauled you away.”

He nodded, knowing she was right.

A throat cleared behind them. Burnett stood, hands on hips with a smugness tugging at his mouth. “Try to keep the PDA down, or I’ll arrest you two.”

Beth pulled free from Donovan’s hold. “Sorry, Officer.”

Donovan lifted his hands in the air. “I’ll do my best.”

 

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Title: Seismic Crimes

Author: Chrys Fey

Series: Disaster Crimes Series (Book Two)

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Format: Digital and Print

Page Count: 282

 

DIGITAL LINKS:

Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon CA

NOOK / KOBO / All Romance eBooks

PRINT LINKS:

Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon CA

The Wild Rose Press

 

BLURB:

An Internal Affairs Investigator was murdered and his brother, Donovan Goldwyn, was framed. Now Donovan is desperate to prove his innocence. And the one person who can do that is the woman who saved him from a deadly hurricane—Beth Kennedy. From the moment their fates intertwined, passion consumed him. He wants her in his arms. More, he wants her by his side in his darkest moments.

Beth Kennedy may not know everything about Donovan, but she can’t deny what she feels for him. It’s her love for him that pushes her to do whatever she has to do to help him get justice, including putting herself in a criminal’s crosshairs.

When a tip reveals the killer’s location, they travel to California, but then an earthquake of catastrophic proportions separates them. As aftershocks roll the land, Beth and Donovan have to endure dangerous conditions while trying to find their way back to one another. Will they reunite and find the killer, or will they lose everything?

 

HURRICANE CRIMES 99¢ SALE!

 

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DIGITAL LINKS:

Amazon US / Amazon UK

Amazon CA / NOOK / KOBO

All Romance eBooks

The Wild Rose Press

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chrysfeyAUTHORPIC

BIO:

Chrys Fey is the author of Hurricane Crimes, Book One in the Disaster Crimes series, as well as these releases from The Wild Rose Press: 30 Seconds, Ghost of Death, and Witch of Death. She is an administrator for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group and has participated in the Blogging from April A to Z Challenge.

When Fey was six years old, she realized she wanted to be a writer by watching her mother pursue publication. At the age of twelve, she started writing her first novel, which flourished into a series she later rewrote at seventeen.

Fey lives in Florida and is always on the lookout for hurricanes. She has four adopted cats who keep her entertained with their antics, and three nephews who keep her entertained with their antics. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and through her blog, Write with Fey. She loves to get to know her readers!

 

AUTHOR LINKS:

Website / Blog / Facebook / Twitter


Guest Post – Chrys Fey – Witch of Death Blog Tour

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Happy Monday, all! Today I’m super excited because I get to host fellow author and blogger, Chrys Fey. Chrys’ latest short story, Witch of Death, is now available and today’s she is talking to us about…you guessed it: her favorite witches! Check it out:)

* * *

I love witches. I’ve never made that a secret. I’ve shared a post on my blog to help writers who want to write about fictional and real-life witches. And for this blog tour, which is for one of my short stories Witch of Death, I’ve had a lot of fun discussing them. Well, now it’s time to share my favorite witches of all time!

My Top Ten Favorite Witches:

  1. Phoebe Halliwell (Charmed)
  2. Piper Halliwell (Charmed)
  3. Paige Matthews (Charmed)
  4. Hermione Granger (Harry Potter)
  5. Winifred Sanderson (Hocus Pocus)
  6. Sarah Sanderson (Hocus Pocus)
  7. Sally Owens (Practical Magic)
  8. Bonnie Bennet (Vampire Diaries)
  9. The Wicked Witch/Zelena (Once Upon a Time)
  10. Cassie Nightingale (The Good Witch)

QUESTION: Do you have a favorite witch?

Blurb:

Detective Reid Sanders doesn’t believe in the supernatural, but when he’s faced with a crime scene that defies the laws of nature, he has no other choice but to start believing. And solving a magical murder involves working with a witch.

Liberty Sawyer embodies the look of your classic evil witch, so, it’s no surprise when she uncovers the murderer is a witch that she becomes Reid’s number one suspect. If she can’t convince him otherwise, more people could lose their lives to dark magic, including her.

Book Links:

Amazon US / Amazon UK / The Wild Rose Press / NOOK / KOBO

Excerpt:

Liberty Sawyer glided swiftly through the horde of police officers, reporters, and on- lookers. Black hair fell from a rigid part in the middle of her scalp to her hips. Her eyes were a soul-stabbing blue and her lips were blood-red. She towered over the other officers on the scene, and wore all black, which set off the pallor of her skin.

Showing her badge to the officer, she slipped under the crime scene tape. A few paces away, she spotted Detective Corbin talking to his new partner, a man she knew by name but hadn’t had the privilege of meeting yet.

“I cannot believe you called her,” the new man was saying when she came up behind them. “We don’t need a damn psychic!”

“Actually, I’m a witch.” She smiled when Reid jolted and turned to face her. “I’m

Detective Liberty Sawyer.” She stuck out her hand.

“Detective Reid Sanders,” he grunted back and took her hand.

The feel of his palm against hers sent tingles of lust from the tips of her fingers to her shoulder blade, and she knew he felt it too by the way he jerked his hand back. She winked at him playfully, hoping it would unnerve him even more.

Also Available:

GHOST OF DEATH

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Blurb:

Jolie Montgomery, a twenty-one-year-old woman, wakes up in an alley next to her corpse. She has no memories of her murder or the night she died. She didn’t even see the killer’s face before he or she took her life. Wanting justice, Jolie seeks answers in the only way a ghost can…by stalking the lead detective on the case.

Avrianna Heavenborn is determined to find the person responsible for a young woman’s death. She gets closer to the killer’s identity with every clue she uncovers, and Jolie is with her every step of the way.

But if they don’t solve her murder soon, Jolie will be an earth-bound spirit forever.

Book Links:

Amazon US / Amazon UK / The Wild Rose Press / NOOK / KOBO

BIO:

chrysfeyAUTHORPIC

Chrys Fey is the author of Hurricane Crimes and 30 Seconds. She is currently working on the sequel to Hurricane Crimes that’ll serve as book two in the Disaster Crimes series.

When Fey was six years old, she realized her dream of being a writer by watching her mother pursue publication. At the age of twelve, she started writing her first novel, which flourished into a series she later rewrote at seventeen. Fey lives in Florida where she is waiting for the next hurricane to come her way.

You can connect with her on Facebook and her blog, Write with Fey. She loves to get to know her readers!

Author Links:

Facebook / Blog / Website / Goodreads

 

 

 

 

 

 


Shadow Stalker Blitz Tour!

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Shadow Stalker Button

So today I have the pleasure of participating in the blitz tour for Renee Scattergood’s Shadow Stalker: Shadows’ Betrayal (Episode 3)! Woo-hoo! I got a chance to read the story and I have to tell you, folks: it’s a fast paced read with an ending that will leave you on the edge of your seats!

The book is available today so hop on over to Smashwords and get yourself a copy (and add it to your shelf on Goodreads🙂

Renee was kind enough to drop by for a quick Q&A session with me. So sit back, relax, and let’s get to know Renee!

1. How’d you get the inspiration for your Shadow Stalker series?
I first got the inspiration to write Shadow Stalker after reading The Celestine Prophecy. That’s actually how I came up with the character, Kado, and then it grew from there.

2. Are any of the characters based on people you know?
Not entirely, no. I do tend to pick certain traits from people I know and characters from other novels, but they’re usually just little things I think will fit the character.

3. What are you working on currently?
Well I publish an episode of Shadow Stalker every month, so I’m always working on that. I’m also compiling the episodes (every six episodes I write) to write a novel based on them. The novel will have the same story as the episodes, but they will be written in third person as opposed to first person and have a lot more elements involved. I’m also working on a prequel novella for the Shadow Stalker series called Demon Hunt. I’ll be writing that one during NaNoWriMo this year.

4. I was actually going to ask you if you’d be participating in NaNoWriMo. Can you tell us more about the project you’ll be working on this November?
As I mentioned, Demon Hunt is a prequel novel based on the Shadow Stalker series. It takes place the year before the series starts when Kado takes Auren camping on Luten Isle. Something goes wrong, and Auren ends up having to face her worst nightmare. It will be a lot of fun to write.

5. What does your family think about your writing?
They love it. Even my mom, who hates to read, has been eager to read my stuff. My husband gives me ideas and feedback on ideas, but he refuses to read them until the series is done. He can’t stand the suspense of waiting for the next novel. So he’ll read it all at once. LOL

6. Do you write in other genres?
I haven’t yet, but I’d probably consider it if inspiration struck.

7. What’s your writing process?
I always start with a character. Once I have developed the main character and that character’s back story, the plot usually starts coming together in my mind on its own. When I have the plot worked out, I start writing summaries of each paragraph. Other characters and subplots start to form during this process. Then I’ll start writing the first draft once my outline is done. I don’t use a very detailed outline because things tend to change too quickly during the writing process.

8. How do you deal with fear and doubt as a writer?
Whenever it rears its ugly head, I start thinking about everything I’ve accomplished so far or my goals. That always puts me in the right mindset. I don’t have very lofty goals, so I can’t be too intimidated by them. LOL

9. Have you ever had a particularly harsh critique? How did you deal with it?
Not really harsh, no, but I’m pretty laid back and don’t get offended easily. I get frustrated easily, though, when people point out things or offer suggestions and I’m not sure what they’re talking about. I always seem to figure it out, but it drives me crazy until I do. I also get really frustrated when someone says that I haven’t previously established something, then I’ll read back and find it two paragraphs before the one they pointed out. It’s good at the same time, though. Most of the time I find I can expand on it and make it more obvious so people don’t glance over it.

10. What’s some of the best and worst writing advice you’ve ever received?
The best advice was to write what you know, don’t over-complicate things, and don’t be afraid to experiment.

I don’t know if I have ever gotten any bad writing advice, but I have been told on more than one occasion that it would be a mistake to self-publish. Apparently, it lowers an author’s credibility.

11. Have you ever gotten inspiration for a story from something truly bizarre?
I have thought about writing a series of children’s books based on a cat I used to have. I think he thought he was human or something. He certainly didn’t act like a cat!

12. Any advice for aspiring writers?
Get to know people and don’t be afraid to help them. This is the best way to get your name out there. Also, spend some time learning your craft. It will go a long way to saving you time and heartache in the long run.

Renee, thanks so much for stopping by and chatting with me! Now, here’s my review of Shadow Stalker: Shadows’ Betrayal (Episode 3):

An adventure set in the mysterious Dark Isle, the story begins with Auren seeing a disturbing vision about her future. Auren wrestles with what is supposed to be her destiny—and vows that she’ll do all she can to change it. Will her mysterious past be revealed? And most importantly, will the deadly prophecy come to pass? Excellent world building makes this an enjoyable read. Some of the descriptions were so vivid that I felt my skin crawling. Here’s an example:

I turned to see what I had tripped on to find that something had wrapped around my leg and was snaking its way up my thigh. It took me a moment to realize what was happening. The plant was about three meters from where I stood. It was at least as tall as Kado with a huge bulbous flower on the top. The purple pedals were opening to reveal…were those teeth?

Allowing myself to be distracted by the plant was a mistake. I didn’t notice the vines that had been wrapping themselves around my body.

Yikes! But carnivorous plants are the least of Auren’s worries, as there is danger everywhere she turns. Shadow Stalker: Shadows’ Betrayal (Episode 3) is a quick and entertaining read by a very talented author. While reading the story the reader has to wonder: what is waiting for Auren in the dark shadows of the forest??? Well, you’ve got to read the story to find out!

Well, that’s it folks! Make sure you head over to Smashwords to get your copy of Shadow Stalker: Shadows’ Betrayal (Episode 3), and in the meanwhile,  check out where you can catch up with Renee online!

Social Media Links:
Website:
Google Plus: /+NayaScattergood/posts
Until next time, folks!

How a Bad Hair Weave Helped me to Finish my Novel

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So today is the release day of my first paranormal novel, The New Mrs. Collins! Woo-hoo! I’m super excited! I want to thank everyone who signed up for my blog tour. Your support really means a lot! Today I’m going to be busy because 4 super fantastic authors have been gracious enough to host me!

Christina C. Jones is hosting me at Being Mrs. Jones with a spotlight and review.
Kimmie Thomas over at She Really Said It is also sharing a review.
Gina Stoneheart  is sharing a book spotlight along with Melissa Barker-Simpson over at Writing Room 101 (You can see the rest of the tour stops here).

And over here at my blog I’m sharing the story of the shady hairstylist who encouraged me to finish the novel. But I’m so excited about the release that you know I have to do it. Oh, c’mon. You knew it was coming. Excuse me for a second folks…

 

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Now that that’s out of the way…

A few years ago, I got a story idea about a woman who could speak things into existence. That was all I had. No name. No plot. No nothing. I went to lunch with a friend who asked me what I was working on. “Well,” I said, picking at my salad, “It’s about this woman who can make things happen just by speaking it. Like if she tells you, ‘Jump off that bridge,’ you’d actually do it.”

My friend said, “Hunh. I sure wish I could do that! You know how many people would be jumping off of bridges?”

I began to kick the idea around some more but didn’t get very far. I outlined the story, started writing it, realized it wasn’t working, abandoned it, went back to it, abandoned it again, and then decided that maybe I should work on something else—until I met the hairstylist who gave me the bad weave.

Picture it: December, 2011. I was upset with my regular beautician for overcharging me for a style so I did something I soon came to regret: I cheated on her. Now, in my defense, the other stylist was offering a significant discount on her weaves, and at the time, there was something about the combination of the terms “discount” and “weaves” that sent me running for my wallet (I have since been reformed). In any event, I booked the appointment and headed off down Interstate 280, confident that by the time I left that hair shop, my hair would be laid like nobody’s business.

Boy, was I wrong.

When I got there, she had somebody in the chair. “I’ll be with you in just a second,” she said. Any woman who’s ever gotten her hair done knows that this is secret language for: Dude, I’ve double booked. Hope you’ve brought yourself a snack because you’ll be here until the Lord comes back. Maybe even later.

I sat. And waited. And waited some more. Finally, a couple of hours later, she was done with her other client. I was peeved—but I wanted that discount—so I moseyed my behind over to her chair and sat (and sulked). But once we started talking, my agitation dissolved and it dawned on me: Okay, maybe this heifer ain’t so bad double booking aside, she actually seemed…nice. She asked me, “So, what do you do?”

I told her. Then I said, “But what I really want to do is write.”

“What kind of stuff do you write?” I told her that I wrote novels, and about the idea I had about the woman with the mystical powers. “Oooh! I love that! It’s so different! And you know what? I could totally see Gabrielle Union playing that part!” And almost as if the story gods were listening, when I flipped the page in the magazine I was reading, there was Gabrielle Union. Smiling that majestic smile of hers. “See that? It’s a sign!” she yelled.

“You don’t think the idea is stupid?”

“No! I love it. You should definitely finish that story!”

“Oh. Well…okay.”

She finished my hair at about one in the morning (yes, one in the morning), and said enthusiastically, “Oooh, girl! This looks good!” She gave me a mirror and at the time, I thought the style was fine (but then again, it was one o’clock in the morning. I was so tired she could have slapped a parakeet on top that thing and I would have given her a thumbs up). My only “issue”? I felt the hair was too long.

She said, no pun intended, “I think it’ll grow on you. I tell you what: if you get home and decide you don’t like it, call me and I’ll cut it for free.”

I nodded, paid her, and left. The next morning, I woke up and got a good look at the hair in the mirror. For some reason, every time I tried to comb it, the hair fell in front of my face like a curtain. I parted it like it was the Red Sea but it wouldn’t stay. I looked like Cousin It! And then I took a mirror to inspect the back and gasped: Ms. Hair Stylist Extraordinaire had boasted of how she created her own closures. To my non-weave wearers: a “closure” is a hairpiece that closes the weave at the top, so that it looks natural. You can buy it, but Ms. Thang, apparently thinking that she was the MacGyver of hair weaves, had made her own with one little piece of hair, relying solely on a wing and an unanswered prayer a prayer.

But I digress.

Chile, when I looked at that thing, I wanted to cry! There was a clear opening—like a tunnel!— at the very top of my head where you could see my scalp! Closure my ass! Ms. Thang had clearly exaggerated her talents! So I called and left her fifty-leven messages, and guess who called me back? Nobody! I started to get the sneaking suspicion that Ms. Discount Weave had decided that she’d already done enough for me and couldn’t be bothered to fix the mess on my head. And I was about to go out of town for Christmas. How could I go looking like Cousin It with a wind tunnel? Ain’t nobody got time for that! Three things happened next:

1. I crawled back to my regular hairstylist to fix the mess on my head. She took the price she (accidentally) over charged me off the price of the style and smirked as she asked, “Who the hell did your hair?”
2. I put Ms. Discount Weave on my, “People I will snub when I’m rich” list.
3. I started thinking about my novel and her enthusiasm about it, and guess what happened? I finished it!

Several years and several beta readers later, I have come to really believe in the story. I know that if it hadn’t been for her, I would have abandoned the novel, so I know that our encounter wasn’t by chance. So to Ms. Discount Weave, wherever you are, I’d like to thank you for encouraging me to finish my novel, wind tunnel and all!

What about others? Have you had a bad experience with a hair stylist? Have you ever received encouragement from an unlikely source? I’d love to hear your thoughts!