Friday, March 27, 2009

Our publisher, Simon & Schuster, has a brand new website!!! And we are featured there--along with several hundred (thousand) other authors. But the new author pages are quite snazzy and very different from the old static pages. . . and you can find out things you never knew about your favorite writers through the Author Revealed sections.

They asked us tricky, complex questions that were meant to evoke answers we had to really think about. It took us weeks to finish all our homework. So take a visit and drop a line to let us know what you think!
http://authors.simonandschuster.com/Virginia-DeBerry/39429354
http://authors.simonandschuster.com/Donna-Grant/39429359

And please remember you can check us out and see what we're up to every day on Twitter (http://twitter.com/deberryandgrant), FaceBook & MySpace (http://myspace.com/twomindsfull)...

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posted by DeBerry and Grant at 11:30 AM 1 comments links to this post

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Getting By Story Contest WINNER, Week 2!!

This week's winning entry comes from Kim Pinson in Florida!! Thanks for the great tips--we think everybody can learn from them. Your prize is on the way Kim!!

Saw your post and thought maybe I could toss in a handful of helpful hints. Having previously worn the spoiled-rotten tag, then having my head smacked clear by a financial "trial by fire" of sorts, I feel like I can offer up some moves my husband and I made to save our sinking ship. Some of these are time consuming...and took some persistence and determination...but in the long run we are better for having powered through.

* Call all of your credit card companies. Tell them you have had a drastic pay cut and are considering bankruptcy (even if you aren’t). Ask if they offer any programs that would halt interest and/or provide a structured repayment plan. Don’t take "no" for an answer. Ask for a supervisor and ask the same question if you don’t get adequate response from the first person you speak to. Yes time consuming…but could save you money and protect your credit rating.

* Take advantage of 0 % balance transfer offers from credit card companies offering a lower interest rate (after the initial 0% period…usually six months to a year) to consolidate debt. Read the entire offer very carefully and make certain that there is not an outrageous transfer charge. Many offer a very low or free transfer rate.

* Two words. GARAGE SALE. Get all of your un-needed items together (everything from paperback books to vehicles to clothing and toys), put up signs at all busy roads near your house, put an ad on Craig’s List and sell, sell, sell. Top price on big items (big pieces of furniture mainly) should be no more than $50…and be ready to negotiate. The average take at every garage sale we have had was $300….the highest take was $800. Stuff that you think is crap someone else will pay money for without hesitation. If you haven’t used it in a year sell it.

* Call your mortgage company and see if you can refinance, taking no cash out of the deal. This can get you up to two months without a mortgage payment which will allow you to pay down bills and reduce your future monthly expenses.

* See if your auto loan people have a program in place that will allow you to skip one payment (which they move to the end of the loan) with no penalties. If not…ask if they have a program in place to assist people who are being financially stressed by job cuts/downsizing/etc… We’ve done both with remarkably good results.

* Barter: Whatever skills you have someone you know, who you pay for some service, is paying someone to do. You can barter hair styling, babysitting, lawn service, errand-running…working out a deal for the service provider to exchange service for service. You can also go the other way and offer your skill for pay. Doing taxes, babysitting, doing resumes, typing papers, etc… it adds up. I barter my writing skills and love of doing house painting for my cherished hair style and coloring requirements. My Husband barters his computer skills for everything from car repairs to sprinkler system repairs. My 74 year old Mom barters her love of animals...taking care of friends who travel for business' animals in exchange for hay for her horses and repairs to her fences and barn.

* Use a spreadsheet program like Excel to project your income and expenses at least three months in advance. This helps you see where your money is going and where you can make changes. This has helped us probably more than anything in the short run. Set the budget and stick to it.

* Carry your lunch and pack lunches for any kids going to school or day camp. Even if you only spend $10 for lunch each work day that’s $50 a week. Multiply that by a year of weeks and gasp. Same goes for designer (Starbucks, etc…) coffees. Skip it or only get it on Friday as a treat.

* Coupons, Coupons, Coupons. You can get them from the newspaper, from online sites and in magazines. They add up fast. We save about $20 per trip when we shop for groceries. The key is to only use coupons for things you normally buy and stock up when you can combine coupons with a great sale on non-perishables.

* Scale back going to the movies, out to dinner, for drinks, etc…to one night a month and set a $25 spending limit for that event. This includes ordering pizza/Chinese food, etc… Only one special treat…and only once a month. Honestly? This makes one appreciate this type of thing more. I have more...but I'll stop here :-) Hopefully these ideas can help someone else out there.

Kim Pinson
www.myspace.com/klpinson

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posted by DeBerry and Grant at 6:35 PM 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Getting By Story Week 2

In our new book, What Doesn’t Kill You, our main character Tee is forced by circumstances to re-evaluate and change her spending habits. Last week w started a Getting By” story contest and yesterday we announced our first winner—Bryana C., from Aurora Colorado. The contest continues for five more weeks and a new winner will be announced next Wednesday.

So our question to you is (and we’ll ask again, once every week): What changes are you making to get through these tough economic times? What are you doing differently in order to get by? Send us your ideas—either leave them here as comments or email your idea to us at mybrokestory@gmail.com and we’ll post them. Once a week, for the next six weeks, we’ll pick a winning suggestion and that person will receive either a TiffiBag or an autographed copy of Gotta Keep on Tryin’. BTW we’re still accepting Broke Stories at the same email address.

Below are two of the entries we received for Week 1. We’ll post more of them, between now and next Wednesday and look forward to your comments and more helpful hints on how we can all make getting through these tough times a little easier.

CTR
I think the situation with the economy represents a great time for people to make green lifestyle changes that support both their wallet and the environment. To that end, I have installed a water filter on my kitchen sink to reduce pollutants and eliminate the need for bottled water. I was buying 7-9 gallons a week. Now, I get highly filtered water from the tap. I've also installed Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs to reduce my electric bill. These bulbs are more pricey than regular bulbs on the front end, but they last around 5 years and only use 25% of the energy of their counterparts. Hope this helps.



JC Martin
Before the economic crisis I had convinced my husband to take his lunch to work. That saves us a good $7-$20 a day. I started making him a couple sandwiches for his breakfast, which eliminated another $5-$8 dollars spent. He brings snacks and a gallon of filtered water from the tap with him every day. So not only are we saving money, he's staying healthy as well.We installed a digital thermostat, which we programed with our desired temperature which helps to cut back on electricity. I also cook a couple meals out of one pack of meat. I was surprised to watch Oprah and a guest chef suggested the same thing. I will make lasagna and nacho from one pack of ground turkey. Now I need to try his turkey noodle shepherd's pie and sloppy joes.We also shop with a shopping list, which helps us not buy things we don't need.The best thing is to have all my kids read even more than before in an attempt to keep the televisions off and their minds stimulated. And when they tire of that outside to play in the yard, gives them the necessary exercise.

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posted by DeBerry and Grant at 2:19 PM 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

And the winner is...

This week's winning entry in our Getting By contest was submitted by Bryana. Her story, Daycare or Rent, won because it was definitely innovative and shows how creative we can be in order to "get by."

We'll be sending Bryana an autographed copy of Gotta Keep on Tryin'. Congratulations Bryana!


Remember to send us your "Getting By" stories to mybrokestory@gmail.com or comment here on the Getting By blog entry.



Next week's contest ends Tuesday, March 24 and the winner will be announced on Wednesday March 25.

(And we're still collecting Broke Stories too!)



Daycare or Rent?

My broke story is simple. I realized that I didn't have enough money in the bank to cover rent and daycare. I had previously asked my landlords for a deduction in rent. Who does that??? They graciously agreed and I could not go back to them and tell them that I had to be late or didn't have the money. I remembered in my child care contract that I received 2 weeks per year where I didn't have to pay for childcare, so I scheduled a vacation from work and daycare because I couldn't afford day care. Not that I didn't enjoy spending time with my little one, but I took the vacation because I couldn't afford to work and I couldn't afford daycare...it was inventive, but PRAISE God I had the option.

Bryana

Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain.

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posted by DeBerry and Grant at 2:31 PM 0 comments links to this post

Monday, March 16, 2009

LitChat.com

We don't know whether you're a follower of Litchat on Twitter or not (or even if you Tweet) but we do (http://twitter.com/deberryandgrant) and a recent discussion on what makes women's fiction “women’s fiction” got us involved—and following them. They chat about various topics on http://tweetchat.com every Mon-Wed-Fri from 4-5PM. They asked for us to host "sometime" and for a topic suggestion. We had no idea our slot would come up so quickly, but this week's topic is Beyond Black & White:Writing in Color and on Friday 3/20 4-5PM we'll host the chat--and give a way an autographed copy of What Doesn't Kill You to one lucky participant. We wanted to let you know because we hope that you can join in the discussions during the week and especially on Friday when we’re hosting!Thanks!

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posted by DeBerry and Grant at 11:52 AM 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Getting By

Just before What Doesn’t Kill You was released, we asked you to share your Best Broke Story with us and many of your essays blew us, (and our judge, Deborah Owens) away! And we learned, for sure, that the stuff that doesn’t kill us, definitely makes us stronger.

Now we’re asking you for a different take on the same subject. In WDKY, our main character Tee is forced by circumstances to re-evaluate and change her spending habits. She learns to take a lunch to work instead of ordering in or going out, that store brands and/or generics are, in most cases, just as good as the expensive name brand, that she actually can do her own nails and that shopping gets you a bag full of stuff---not happiness.

March 9 the NY Times had an article called Belt Tightening Tickles Up—about downscaling vacations, wearing 10 year old dresses to charity events.
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/10/us/10reset.html?_r=1&emc=eta1

A local supermarket here in NJ has a brand new display of hand-held scanners to carry with you while you shop, so you can keep a running total of your purchases and not go over budget. Maybe it’s that $1.69 box of Duncan Hines double fudge mix instead of the $10.99 bakery cake?

So our question to you is (and we’ll ask again, once every week): What changes are you making to get through these tough economic times? What are you doing differently in order to get by? Send us your ideas—either leave them here as comments or email your idea to us at mybrokestory@gmail.com and we’ll post them. Once a week, for the next six weeks, we’ll pick a winning suggestion and that person will receive either a TiffiBag or an autographed copy of Gotta Keep on Tryin’. BTW we’re still accepting Broke Stories at the same email address.

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posted by DeBerry and Grant at 2:51 PM 4 comments links to this post

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Written the Podcast

While we were in Atlanta on book tour for What Doesn't Kill You, we did an interview and a podcast with Michelle Gipson, publisher of Written Magazine which is a bi-monthly insert found in African American news papers.

A podcast of our chat with Michelle can be found here:
http://written.ning.com/music/playlist/popup?playlistUrl=http%3A//written.ning.com/music/playlist/show%3Ffmt%3Dxspf%26id%3D2025069%253APlaylist%253A121&playlistType=network&autoplay=1&selectTrack=4

http://www.writtenmag.com/
Written Magazine
Written was created to focus on the lifestyle of the reader by celebrating the art of words and the wonders of language of artistic work. This includes profiling readers, reviewing books, music and movies and showcasing works. Written’s goal is to create a publication that appeals to the lifestyle of the occasional and avid reader. http://Writtenmag.com is an extension of the published magazine.

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posted by DeBerry and Grant at 11:28 AM 0 comments links to this post

Monday, March 02, 2009

REPOST: Rearrange a Bookstore Day

We’ve been meaning to repost this blog from our friend Debra Owsley since we read it back in January. Deb is a passionate reader, a die hard true blue, supporter of authors AND a business woman—please check out her site (http://www.simply-said.net/index.html) for amazing reading accessories. But What Doesn’t Kill You came out, the tour started and life got kinda crazy. However, in this case, late is better than never and we TOTALLY believe any day can be

Rearrange a Bookstore Day !

(Originally posted January 12, 2009 at http://simplysaidreadingaccessories.blogspot.com/2009/01/rearrange-bookstore-day.html)


I’ve been known to go next door to my job, to the Wal-Mart, and rearrange books. Sure I have better things to do but I do it regularly. At first the store manager would, ask me what I’m doing and I simply told him “I’m straightening up your book shelf”. But then I guess they realized they were not just straightened up but also rearranged. LOL They are not going to raise hell when I have a $100.00 worth of merchandise in my shopping cart now are they?

Why do I do this? Well first off , I don’t think we should be segregated. I will stick some Donna Hill’s and some Marcia King Gamble’s and most recently Cheryl Robinson’s, (just to name a few off a very long list), books into the Main Stream romance section.

They ARE romance authors that just so happen to be black.

Yesterday I was at the Books A Million, here in Florida and I caught an attitude big time. the romance section was 43 feet long yes I counted. Each shelf was either 5 rows or 7 rows. The 5 rows were hard backs and mass paper backs and the 7 rows were trade paperbacks.

As I looked to see if any of us were sprinkled in, my attitude worsened.

I then went to the African American Literature section and really got pissed. The African American section was 9 feet long and each rack was 5 rows per, and very sparse. Not only was it romance it was also fiction, non fiction, and bio’s scattered in or shall I say peppered in. I started looking for some authors I know recently released new books. Hmmmm I am not happy, one Seduction and Lies, Donna Hill’s newest release, one Gotta Keep On Tryin’ De Berry and Grant one Tempting The Mogul, Marcia’s new book, 6 Something On The Side, Carl Weber’s book released last January 2008, and I could keep going be you get the point.

Yes maybe they were sold, it was the weekend, but re-stock damn it. It was not kept and not in order at all. I went to my friendly African American salesperson and asked her what’s up with this??? And why are we segregated?, Ain’t Obama in office now? We both laughed but she understood where I was coming from. She said the same argument that I’ve heard repeatedly, half the people want an African American section and half don’t.

That was still no excuse for the way the section looked.

I remember years ago when I wanted one too. The names of authors I wanted to read I did not know unless they came out in Essence magazine each month. I would run to the store and look for them and sometimes be disappointed because they weren’t there, or very annoyed when the salesperson said ”WHO”? GRRRR. E. LYNN HARRIS was the book I was requesting and it was not his first one either.

So I spent the afternoon doing my chosen task, putting the books in order, “peppering the salt” and I did a top shelf of new releases.

Hey, it’s all about love lol

While I was doing this I was thinking about Carlene Brice’s blog about give a black book to a non black reader.

Hmmmmm

Light Bulb Moment

What if I could get all my friends, bloggers, readers, and authors, to do this too??? THIS COULD BE BIG!!!!

If you spend as much time in bookstores as I do...

Let’s pick a day and we all do it.

Rearrange, pepper in and spread us around, put us on the top shelf on an end cap at the check out counter. If they have several copies. If not ,face the book forward in the African American section.

The only thing I wish was I had way of tracking the results.

Are you willing to rearrange a bookstore?I have even left notes to say “LOOK IN African American ROMANCE SECTION”….. by the way, it works both ways.

Put your favorite authors and new releases on top “Pepper” them in “Main Stream” sections.

Order some books they will add it into inventory or you can, when they hand them to you.

Demand that books are in store and on shelf on release date

Talk to browsers about your favorite book or author

Place new books or your favorites face out

Don’t put them in a weird place; we do want folks to find them

Leave a book review

Leave a post it note

Leave a bookmark in the book from an author

Leave information about your book club

Start a African American club in store

Readers, do you want to add to the list?

Are you willing to adopt a African American book section?

I would love feedback on this

Just My 2 Cents, http://www.simply-said.net/index.html Posted by Simply Said Reading Accessories

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posted by DeBerry and Grant at 3:33 PM 2 comments links to this post

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