Thursday, November 15, 2012

The End of This Chapter

This isn’t easy to say which is why it has taken us so long to say it. But so many of you have asked and continue to ask when the next book is coming. Our answer has been somewhat oblique and indefinite “We’re taking a break…” or “We’re not working on anything now…” because it was less complicated than explaining what’s actually happening with us.

So here goes…

No, neither of us is ill.

Yes, we are still bestest friends.

However, our writing career is officially on “HOLD”.

We are stepping back, down, out—for now. We’ve been in the publishing business for more than twenty years and we’ve had a great ride, but the business has changed…in ways not necessarily to our liking. And we have changed. For more than half of those twenty years, we were lucky enough to write full time and support ourselves (TWO OF US) from our novels!! This is something we know not many authors get to say—and we are hugely grateful to all of you who have supported our work –and those who will continue to buy and read our books, because they aren’t going anywhere. But we now find that is no longer the case, nor is it likely to be that way again. Back when we started this journey we were 20 years younger and working full time and writing full time seemed doable—because it was. It isn’t any more. Period. As any of you who’ve ever written or attempted to write a novel know, it is so much more than a notion. It is an all consuming undertaking.

We are not the kinds of writers who can pump out a book every six months—we think and plot and outline and think and plan and think and write. Every single solitary word we put down is important. We have spent tens of thousands of hours working on our novels—probably somewhere around 5000 hours a book. We have missed holidays and family vacations because of deadlines. Despite all that, it used to be fantastic. It used to be fun. We were doing what we loved. We got to travel far and wide. We got to hang out together all the time. And we got paid!! How cool was that?! But these days the publishing industry requires authors to do WAY more work, for WAY less money. Write a book (or more) a year. Tweet, Facebook, Blog, Tour, Skype, Pinterest, YouTube without ceasing. The internet and the ease of self publishing have been both a curse and a blessing. For us the business of writing has become a grind. To be successful these days being a good writer is not enough. You must become a brand, a salesman, marketer, publicist, travel agent and a friend to all! Great books are written. Bestsellers are manufactured. It’s exhausting and at the moment, we don’t want to do it any more.

The authors at the top—you know the names, are doing just swell. Their books sell on their names alone, they get gobbled up by Hollywood and the beat goes on. Those at the bottom are eager and willing to do whatever is asked of them, including work very hard for very little. We fall somewhere in the middle and like the rest of the “middle” the squeeze is tight—especially for black authors. When we started, there was no African American category. We wrote contemporary women’s fiction.  Then they created a “Black Box” for “us” (one publisher actually did this—with a real black box) and in many ways decided what would go in that box. And as they put more and more of what they wanted in the box, the space for the kind of books we write became smaller and smaller.  We’ve been asked to do things we’re not interested in or willing to do. “Can you put in more sex?” “NO!” “How about making this more ‘urban’—a little more ‘street’?” “NO!” “You could write erotica under a pseudonym…” “NO!” “You guys are so good, you could write anonymously as a white author…” “NO!”

We have written seven novels. They aren’t going away and neither are we. You’ll always know how and where to find us. We have no idea what the future has in store for us. Donna has some writing ideas she’s exploring and she’s started a not for profit called Footsteps to Follow that helps NYC school kids learn about career opportunities they might not otherwise know about. Virginia is still trying to finish Cute Still Counts, her book of advice for women about getting older and she’s started a social media business and the New Brunswick Jazz Project –an organization that presents live jazz events in her area of New Jersey. One day there may be another novel or another seven…who knows? We’ve adapted What Doesn’t Kill You into a one woman stage play—one day it may get produced….who knows? One day one of these film options could finally come to fruition and one of our books will be coming to a movie or TV screen near you…who knows?

So we said all this to say—there are no more DeBerry and Grant novels in the pipeline. Whew…that was hard, but also a relief.

We’re writers without a deadline, and for once we’re working without a plot so we won’t know the twists and turns until we get there, but, we’re living life and exploring new possibilities. And whatever we’ve got going on, separately or together, you’ll be the first to know. We are grateful for the support, enthusiasm and encouragement we have received from readers along the way. That has been an extraordinary gift--one that keeps on giving, and we THANK YOU!!
posted by DeBerry and Grant at 11:21 AM


Blogger Danny1 said...

Wow! I am sad to hear that you two wonderful woman are done(for now). I must say that you two were some of my first inspirations when I began writing. You are correct, people today want sex, sex, gangsta, killings etc.. to satisfy their reading palate.You two offered fresh,comical,loving although very real plots and storylines with twist and turns that I have loved for years.I applaud you both! I wish you luck on your journeys and hope you come back! But, if you choose not to i understand and i thank you for your years of hard work, enthusiasm and awesome stories! May God bless you both and keep you.Oh and Good luck on any future endeavors you each may embark on!! Love you !!

12:31 PM  
Anonymous Norma Jarrett said...

I can truly relate. I know you are great writers and it is bittersweet. Met you at teh retreat years ago at Amigals Retreat - Camp Mariah and I remember your glorious red convertible. Yes time marches on. I miss many of the great fiction writers I read and bless God had a chance to do signings with. Many blessings, and much more good living!

3:26 PM  
Blogger Robin Holloway said...

I haven't read any of your books, nor do I know who you are. I do have one thing to say...if you have all of that experience change the game! Blessings to you!!!

3:30 PM  
Blogger beverly said...

This makes me sad, but women have to do what women have to do. Thanks for all the great reads over the years and for setting an example for writers of all races and genders. You will be missed. B Jenkins

3:35 PM  
Blogger Author D A Isley said...

WOW!!!! Very powerful and I commend you on your endurance. As I black writer, I first published in 05'. I was rejected by mainstream and decided to self-publish. I now have 3 books I like to read. I say this because, I write what I would want to read. I was told to make changes, do this, do that. NO! This is my work and I wanted printed as I wrote.

You two are an inspiration to thousands, if not millions. I bow down and say thank for all that you have done and will do in the future.

3:42 PM  
Blogger Tracy said...

Thanks for the honesty. I don't believe a lot of people truly understand what it takes to bring a book to market, the love, the creativity, etc. Really hate to see you ladies go because finding good contemporary fiction novels is getting harder by the day and I refuse to settle.

Best of everything in your future endeavors, your contributions to the literary world as we knew it, will surely be missed.

4:08 PM  
Blogger Tracy said...

Really hate to read this, but I do understand. Best of everything in your future endeavors.

4:17 PM  
Blogger LaShaunda said...

We will miss you. It was a pleasure helping promote your books. Blessings to you both.

LaShaunda - SORMAG

5:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent blog. I agree with everything you’re saying and what is really disheartening as a black person, is how so many of us won’t even support each other and actually BUY a black author’s book. As an author, I have given literally thousands of free books away on Amazon. One book I gave away 10,000 copies during a free promotion. And I haven’t seen one review. I too have become disillusioned with writing. Why are so many black readers looking for a freebie? If you go on Shelfari and look at some of their bookshelves, they have thousands of free books on there that they haven’t read. Many black folks will spend almost a hundred dollars to buy a Kindle and are too cheap to spend money on actually purchasing a five dollar Ebook! It’s a shame all the hoarding of books Amazon has created with their free giveaways. Yet, you have authors struggling to pay their bills and keep a roof over their heads. Lots of authors love to write and create stories, but readers are being inconsiderate when they don’t even bother to read the book and what’s worse if a person have read someone’s book, they should the common decency TO LIVE A FREAKING REVIEW! Good or bad, it at least lets the author know something! Hey, my black people, authors don’t owe you any free books and writing isn’t easy. So the next time you sit and monitor what is Free on Amazon, think about the fact that you are actually hurting that author financially. You would be helping them out better if you actually paid for the book. Just read this blogger's post again, and listen as they're telling you they can’t support themselves from writing anymore. Like I said, it’s a shame!

10:34 PM  
Blogger Barbara Albin said...

I could not read your story without leaving another comment. Your letter is so beautifully written and I know this will give you both time to do some of the things that you have put aside, because the books came first. I am looking forward to Virginia's book, although turning 65 next week is leaving me a bit "un-cute" but reading about what Virginia is doing all the time, keeps me going. It was my great joy to meet you last year and as soon as I can get a decent outfit on, my hair brushed, I will have a picture taken with my new very retro glasses. Love always, Barbara Albin

1:55 AM  
Blogger laughing808 said...

Awwww, I'm sorry to hear this. You two of two of my all time favorite authors and I was eagerly anticipating something new. But I totally understand and wish you both the best in your personal endeavors.

Peace, Blessings and Laughs to you both.

10:59 AM  
Blogger Anne Everitt said...

Well, I have just discovered your books and while I am glad to see I have quite a few wonderful books ahead of me to enjoy, I'm disappointed that there will not be more. Having said that, I totally understand why you have made this decision. I immensely respect your refusal to compromise your ideals and work for "what the business wants". How do they know what we want? I am almost finished with "Better than I know myself" and I have so enjoyed your richly drawn characters that I feel like I know them. I do hope this gets made into a movies someday and played by wonderful African American actors not by the mix of races on the cover of the audio book I have.

9:47 AM  

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