Thursday, December 27, 2007

DEADLINE COUNTDOWN & BOOK CLUB REVIEWS

As most of you know, we are on deadline for a new book (What Doesn’t Kill You will be out January 2009) which is due to our publisher the day after New Years. So you can be sure we won’t be ringing in 2008 along with everyone else. Our celebration will happen when that baby is out of our hands--OK out of our computer, and delivered via the magic of the internet, to our editor. But trust us, we remember all to well deadlines where we printed—night and day ‘cause it takes a while to print 300, 400, 500 pages. Then we had to find an open Fed Ex location, or if it was really late, drive like maniacs on deadline day, fighting traffic all the way, to hand deliver the pages, so we are truly grateful for the convenience of the “SEND” button!

But because we are still working like crazy, there’s no real blog today. What we are posting instead is a few reviews of Gotta Keep on Tryin’ that have come in from book clubs around the country who were given the opportunity for an advance read. And please remember to check out our TOURS page on deberryandgrant.com and the calendar on MySpace.com/twomindsfull to see if we’ll be in or near your city while we’re on the road. We’d love to see you!!
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“DeBerry and Grant have done it again as they give us an entertaining, empowering and enlightening read with mature adults and realistic situations. They give us characters and situations that we can relate to and identify with. Memorable characters that we will not soon forget. Gotta Keep on Tryin' is recommended to readers of well-written storylines and fans of DeBerry and Grant who have anxiously awaited this sequel. Pick up a copy today...I do not believe you will be disappointed.”
-A Place of Our Own Book Club a.k.a. APOOO

“Reading Gotta Keep Tryin’ was like catching up with old friends who had been away for a while. Grant and DeBerry did it again with Pat, Marcus and Gayle, the characters from Tryin to Sleep in the Bed You Made. I found myself grabbing my old throw, some herbal tea, and a Do Not Disturb sign for the door. Such true-to-life scenarios that included laughter and growing pains. All I can say is give these characters their own series: The Power of Friendship.”-Sistahs Who Enjoy Reading Club (Lake Providence, LA)

“Gotta Keep Tryin’ proves that DeBerry and Grant can spin a gifted tale of two spirited women that find themselves on a wild journey through life that offers bumps in the road, detours around bends and the gratification of smooth sailing that only comes after time and patience. Gotta Keep on Tryin’ is a dynamic read with real life truths, struggles, secrets and battles that will touch the hearts, minds and souls of the readers. It is rare to find a sequel that can stand on its own and capture a reader's attention with such force. DeBerry and Grant have outdone themselves and have once again left the undying yearning for a follow-up.”-Words of Inspiration Book Club (Atlanta, Georgia)

"Expect the unexpected as you maneuver your way through an emotional maze. Pat, Gayle, and Marcus mirror the socially relevant issues of a contemporary, multitasking society. As you anticipate their next move you are forced to come to terms with your own strengths and weaknesses. An excellent read that is destined to cause you to prioritize your priorities. DeBerry and Grant, have done it again. Gotta Keep on Tryin' makes you want to give life a second chance."
-R.S.V.P Book Club (Bear, Delaware)

“Gotta Keep on Tryin' by Virginia DeBerry and Donna Grant was an awesome read. It is mind boggling how two women can write such an incredible story together. Since having read Gotta Keep on Tryin' I have read all three of their other intriguing books. Need I say more.”
-When Sunday Comes Book Club (San Jose, California)

“Donna and Virginia have done it again. I mean, they really know how to put a story together. I was intrigued from the moment I read the first page to the end. They make you truly take a wholehearted interest in the characters and make them real with real issues and problems. They never try to give you the answers to all of the characters issues at the end. They need to teach some of these new authors it's not always about dumbing down characters and making them seem invincible but make them human and believable. I love them!”
-Sistas Are Reading Book Club (East Orange, NJ)


“This was a fantastic read! I love to read about women who can learn to achieve. Achievement is hard work and you have to learn to overcome things in life. This book did just that, ladies keep writing for us.”
-Ladies Affair Book Club (Chattanooga, TN)

“The book was really awesome. I think this book is a great read. I know once you get started, you will not be able to put it down.”
-The Distinct Ladies and Gentlemen Book Club a.k.a DLG Book Club (Memphis, TN)


"DeBerry and Grant pen a story that's so real. They address issues of friendship, business, marriage, the sports world and being a parent. Sometimes it felt like looking in the mirror. Gotta Keep on Tryin' shows the readers what an honest friendship is all about."
-Ladies of Color Turning Pages Book Club (Los Angeles, CA)

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posted by DeBerry and Grant at 9:46 AM 1 comments links to this post

Thursday, December 20, 2007

LIFE IMITATES ART?

We’re fully aware that life imitates art sometimes, but last night we had a very literal dose of it, which fortunately has a happy ending.

Yesterday afternoon we were holed up in the writer’s bunker, finishing our next, next book (What Doesn’t Kill You will be out in Jan ’09). The main character has a situation where she must ask an acquaintance to get out of her bed and meet her at the emergency room. Don’t you know that at 9:30 last night one of Virginia’s neighbor’s called to ask if we could take her to the emergency room. She had fallen in the bathroom, had a blinding headache and was afraid she had a concussion. We looked at each other like, “This can’t be happening,” then we were out the door.

Well, the good news is that after exams and a CT scan it was determined she did not have a concussion, so we stopped at the all-night pharmacy for meds and dropped her home at 1:30 in the morning. And we’re still shaking our heads at the coincidence—or was it?

So we’re back to work this morning. We would prefer for our story to stay on the page today. We know what we put our characters through and we’d like life to be a bit more tranquil than that. Although a little excitement is always welcome, especially book news.

Earlier in the week we got our first poster for Gotta Keep on Tryin’, which was really cool. It’s our fifth book, but the first one to have a poster! We grinned at them for a while, then put them back in the box so they don’t distract us from work.

January 8th, the official pub date, is coming fast! Several book clubs have told us they are re-reading Tryin’ to Sleep in the Bed You Made to refresh their memories so they are ready to dive into the sequel. A little hint—there’s an extra chapter in the trade paper edition of Tryin’ (that’s the paperback that’s the size of a hard cover) that was not in the hardcover. It’s a chapter about Marcus and it gives you additional insight into a situation that comes up in the sequel. A new edition of Tryin’, with the extra chapter and a brand new cover (pink and purple instead of the orange) will be available in January too.

OK—enough excitement for one day. Our book tour schedule is available on our website: deberryandgrant.com and on our myspace page: myspace.com/twomindsfull. Give us a holler if you’re planning to join us along the way. We love hearing from you.

BTW–we just got a great Gotta Keep on Tryin’ review from Patrik Bass on the Essence.com site and we have some early book club reviews which we’ll start to post next week….

ESSENCE BOOKS.
PATRIK'S PICKS--JANUARY 2008

Gotta Keep on Tryin'
BOOKS BACK TOGETHER AGAIN
Remember those you-go-girl! novels of the mid-nineties? They often featured three or four friends with good jobs, great clothes and gigantic man drama. One of the best of the bunch was 1997’s Tryin’ to Sleep in the Bed You Made by real-life friends Virginia DeBerry and Donna Grant. That story of blue-collar-born beauty Gayle Saunders and her brainy cut buddy Pat Reid, was a richly layered tale with twists that made this a not-to be-missed tearjerker. Though the writing duo did well with 2001’s Far From the Tree and 2004’s Better Than I Know Myself, their fans have been clamoring to know what happened with their favorite folks from Bed. At last, DeBerry and Grant are giving readers what they want with Gotta Keep on Tryin’ (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster, $24). This worthy sequel finds Gayle, Pat and romantic interest Marcus Carter (yes, he’s still in the picture) grappling with all kinds of plot surprises, especially involving their children—at least the ones they’re sure are theirs.
posted by DeBerry and Grant at 10:46 AM 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, December 13, 2007

RIPPED FROM THE HEADLINES...

Tonight’s season finale of Law & Order: CI is called “Senseless,” and it depicts a truly senseless crime—the August 4, 2007 executions of three Delaware State College students in a Newark school yard. A fourth student has survived her injuries. Members of the gang MS-13 have been arrested and await trial.

The crime seemed random, and vicious and even though we hear about horrible acts on a daily basis, this one was particularly hateful. We also have watched many Law & Order franchise episodes. Seems like they coined the phrase, “ripped from the headlines.” We are often amazed by how quickly they air shows that are clearly based on a recent event. We even comment on the twists they make in the facts to put a different spin on the story—and to keep from being sued?

But this time the families of the victims are upset. They are angry at not being consulted or even notified about the show, at being faced with this dramatization while they are trying to heal. Click here: Newark schoolyard killings to appear on 'Law and Order' - Breaking News From New Jersey - NJ.com Producers of the show have said they never consult those involved or their relatives. What we don’t know, is how many other families have been similarly affected, re-victimized as it were, by the show in the past.

When events in a work of fiction are based on specific and identifiable events, what is the writer’s responsibility to those being depicted? We have our first amendment freedom of speech to protect us, but do we owe any kind of consideration to the people whose stories we tell? James Harvey, the father of Dashon Harvey who was killed in the attack, is concerned with how the four young people will be portrayed. Will viewers assume that whatever is shown on TV is fact? There is a disclaimer before each show begins, stating that the events depicted are purely fictional. Does anybody read it?

And when is too soon. When the 2006 movie United 93, about the 9/11 plane that crashed in Pennsylvania, opened, many people complained that it was too soon. This schoolyard shooting was only four months ago. Do we at least owe people some time to deal with their grief? Or must we get the story while it’s hot?

In our novels we have chosen very deliberately not to write thinly veiled versions of events from our personal lives. First, in telling our stories we would put our friends, loved ones or even hated ones in the spotlight and they did not consent to have their lives open for discussion. And frankly, we’re not too eager to have our business in the street. Of course we use experiences in our lives as a jumping off point, but they are not easily identifiable, although people who know us very well sometimes have an idea what inspired the threads of a particular story.

Readers often ask us if the stories we tell are from real life and frequently seem disappointed when we tell them they are not. Do readers feel a novel is somehow more “authentic,” if the events really happened? Which means it’s not really a novel at all but a work of non-fiction. Have we been inundated with so much “reality,” TV (which is mostly no more real than the tooth fairy)—that a well crafted story no longer has a place?

Natasha Aeriel, the only survivor of the attack, celebrated her 20th birthday on Sunday. Her brother Terrance, who was killed in the attack, would have been 19 the day before. What are she and her family, along with the families of Iofemi Hightower and Dashon Harvey supposed to do tonight?
posted by DeBerry and Grant at 12:29 PM 4 comments links to this post

Thursday, December 06, 2007

WRITING IS NOT PRETTY

We got our first real copies of Gotta Keep on Tryin’, on Tuesday. We even celebrated with the UPS guy—he’s the regular guy—so he knows what we do and said he was honored to be the first “real person” to see the new book. We are always supremely silly when we see the first book—in the dust jacket, all nice and shiny. Until then, it’s like we have hallucinated this notion that we have written a book and someone is going to publish it. The book is physical evidence. This is novel number five and it happens every time.

We have it on the desk while we’re working to finish What Doesn’t Kill You, our next book—it’s kind of inspiration and sometimes we stare at it and grin for no apparent reason—very goofy.

We had this cute (retarded) idea that we were going to take a picture of ourselves holding the book to include with the blog today. Then we got up this morning, and the ridiculousness of this notion became apparent when we looked at each other. Because we are eyelash deep in writing, and writing is not cute.

On any given day we are wearing whatever we can put our hands on that is reasonably clean—color coordinated is optional. Virginia finally had to toss a red sweater she wore so long (through our early magazine adventure and three books) that her mother, who is unfailingly sweet, said, “I would like never to see that sweater again, dear.” Donna is still breaking in a new pink and white striped button down shirt—the old one finally disintegrated. Shredded really, not at the seams, the actual fabric.

Our hair is frequently standing pretty much the same way it was when it left our respective pillows. OK, maybe a little finger combing has taken place—Virginia found something crunchy and unidentifiable in hers this morning. Are we scaring you? Sorry, but these are the sad facts—not pretty.

Neither are writer’s desks. Whenever you see a photo of a writer sitting in a handsome chair, before a gleaming desk, with a pen and pencil set mounted in a polished wood stand, a leather bound journal, and a bouquet of jonquils, and they tell you that’s where they work—they are lying. Writing is chaotic. Our desk has this morning’s coffee cups, yesterday’s soda cans, water glasses, wine glasses (we like to stay hydrated), a salt shaker and two crackers left over from yesterdays soup, a tape measure (no that’s not how we measure the length of the manuscript), a dead light bulb laying in a votive holder, floppy disks from two books ago, notes taped to the monitor, a heating pad, bottles of Mucinex and Aleve (for Virginia’s cold and Donna’s sprained thumb), papers, pamphlets, business cards, a week’s worth of unopened mail, tissue boxes, various sweaters, jackets and bras (which can become particularly restrictive to thought and thus must be removed), nail polish remover. . . You get the idea, and like we said, it’s not pretty.

So, imagine if you will, the two of us looking rested and well groomed seated at our gleaming desk and smiling as we hold our new book. It’s a nice picture—just not today.

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posted by DeBerry and Grant at 11:19 AM 5 comments links to this post

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