January 2002's Author! Author!

Michelle McGriff
(Chosen by reviewer & interviewer, Alvin Romer)

 
Accolades for Michelle
By Alvin Romer, MyShelf.Com

It is my opinion that at more than any time in literary history African-Americans are reading, purchasing, and writing books at great levels, carving niches and becoming viable contributors in the world of books. This can be authenticated by the 300 million worth of books purchased in 2001, and the acclaim that writers of color have achieved in various genres. I'm using the aforementioned entree to paint a specific picture for an author who has captured my imagination and who is destined for much greener pastures.

Michelle McGriff is a native Californian and grandmother of one with two more planning an early spring arrival. Now residing in Sacramento, California where she is currently attending The Union Institute, by the time you read this she may have already accepted a teaching position there. It is her writing style that first attracted me to her as I read her first novel. Six years later, I'm able to interact with her again but under different circumstances. Writing since her early teens, Ms McGriff has always had love for the written word. The early stages of her first novel, Majestic's Secret was the forerunner to the highly successful The Majestic Series, a five book odyssey that offer vivid imagery, rich characters, and strong prose. Through practice and persistence she continues her growth from short story writer to novelist and on to screenwriter. Sharing what she learns freely with her students to 'fly high above oppressive reality' showing them how to dig deep within themselves to find positive sight and confidence has been used by her in directing them through her own written words. With over a dozen short stories under her belt, seven finished novels (Majestic Secret, A Style Of His Own, Destiny's Song, and the current Rested Memories), the screenplay adaptation of Majestic Secret, a new 2-book series entitled Stone, finishing up the last book of the Majestic Series, that will be subsequently be called Temporary Rain, one can readily see perseverance at work then and now!

I chose her as my Author Of The Month for various reasons. First and foremost her talent for the written word is understated in the work that has been produced by her, but it's the unselfish attitude that I've come to know that has been exhibited toward others that has made a mark on me. For years I've admired her work on Amazon.com and have joined others in the literary field that answered her call to become members of an eclectic group of first time writers, reviewers, publishing agents, and others who share the love for books. As the Moderator, Owner, and Chief Bottle Washer for Mosambasbookshelf.com her realization that a separate entity for those in the field that wanted to air differences, share knowledge, discuss current & past books, and to just interact with the mainstream public on how other authors' books could become available showed her management skills and affability to operate such a site. It's not an easy task trying to make sure others adhere to certain policy & procedures needed to protract a model for perfection. Operating an online cyberspace product such as a writing group takes a lot of patience, ingenuity, and attentiveness to make the sum a much greater part than any of it's individual parts. I've been a member since it's inception and have had ample opportunities 'talking' with her sharing all the banter witnessing her proficiency to make this writing group fun and informative to all. Mosambasbookshelf is now considered the number one stop for any aspiring author that can count many accomplished writers as members. It is because of this success and Ms McGriff's love of writing and the need to teach it to others that has rendered me a great fan. I bestow this honor on her with no regrets, for I honestly feel that this talent should be shared by other readers who may want to discover a different flavor that is not being promoted among the 30 AOM authors already showcased here. Here's hoping that this talent can be expounded into other projects. I had an opportunity to interview and telephonically talk to her to facilitate this accolade, and give great pleasure in introducing to you.... Michelle McGriff.

Be sure to visit her website: http://mypages.blackvoices.com/mosamba2000/door/

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Interview with Michelle McGriff

Alvin Romer: The craft of writing and the seminal esthetics of reading make for a formidable combination. How have you linked the two in your quest to improve your writing to be taken to the next level?

Michelle McGriff: I found that by reading styles close to the ones I wanted to emulate, I was able to create a stronger voice for myself. I was also able to keep my confidence level high (which is important to a new writer), by seeing that not all writers are profound and deep. Some write just like you do. So I believe that reading helps round out the circle for a writer. Also, it's like the old saying: What you want someone to do for you, you should be willing to do for them. I want my books read so I read the books of others.

AR: Every writer has a different source for inspiration. Who do you read, and who are some of your writing influences?

MM: Actually, short of my favorite writer Ed McBain, I use SONG writers more for inspiration than fiction or non-fiction writers. My favorites are Joni Mitchell and Cat Stevens. They tell a great story in their songs, ones based on characters I try bringing to life.


AR: What path did you follow to facilitate and cultivate your style, and what does it take to be a successful writer based on what YOU went through?

MM: I utilized my friends and what they had to say about my storytelling ability. I use my visual mind to see what I write as if it were in real motion. My style of writing is based mostly on 'romanticizing' real life, taking people and situations I know and changing them.

AR: For those that may not know who Michelle McGriff is, what can you tell the reading public to accentuate or promote things that you are into?

MM: I'm actually quite the homebody. I used to be a very social person but time and personal situations have changed all of that for me, and now I usually can be found at home. My children call me a nerd! I'd rather be home writing--uninterrupted--than on a free cruise to the Bahamas.

My fantasy is that I'll get a contract and finally earn enough money writing to get a home with the woods as my back yard, and the ocean as my front where I can write and write and write...play with my grandbabies, and write some more.

**AR: Speaking of Mosamba how did that entity of your life come about, and why did you feel that it was a necessity to become a reality?

MM: My alter ego... the SAMBA QUEEN, coupled with my former initials before returning to my maiden name of McGriff were M.O. Thus, Mo Samba as opposed to less. I also LOVE to Dance. Even if it's alone.


AR: How many books have you written? Other than books, are there any other literary genres that you consider part of the process of you being complete?

MM: I have written and published 7 finished projects. I have 3 more in store for 2002, and will never be complete until I AM COMPLETE, but my next venture is the screenplay adaptation of Majestic Secret.


AR: Let's talk about the Majestic Series? How did it come about, and why did you decide to serialize it?

MM: It came about at the age of 14 when it was originally written. I have since never forgotten the story, and after a life changing accident in my home in l996, I used my recovery time to rewrite the story and ended up with what I have now -- The Majestic Series. Serializing came after many requests to continue with the "What happened to so and so" question. I have also basically fallen in love with the characters and they are very easy to write and build on. I work on character development, and utilize other writing techniques using my characters from The Series.


AR: What drama can you drum up to convince readers that they should invest time and readership in the series?

MM: Drama? I'm not sure how to answer this. I guess I could say that the draw of this story is the realistic plotline. People trying to get themselves through love, loss, success and failure, while finding themselves, even though some didn't know they were really lost. It's romance, at it's best! (smile)


AR: In your estimation, what strides and improvement have you made from your first novel to the current one? What has been most gratifying to you in the same aspect?

MM: I feel I write a stronger book grammatically speaking. And as far as my storyline, I've always had a vivid imagination and it's always gratifying to see your brain on print. But I will never get over the thrill of seeing a book cover with my graphic concept and name. I will never get enough of reading my books over and over and still saying... that was good! There is ALWAYS room for improvement and I think my books show that. With each one I try to get better and better. I've written Majestic Secret 3 times.


AR: Do you have a specific approach to creating a character, creating storylines, or crafting an end to your stories?

MM: I listen to music and it moves my imagination. I also enjoy a 'little' bit of TV. I only watch shows that are written in the style I want to emulate such as Law In Order, CSI, and Murder One. I people watch A LOT imagining that they are doing something other than what they are probably doing. I ask myself constantly, WHAT IF. I see a woman waiting on a corner I say, "What if she was waiting for a pay off from a kidnapper?" "What if the love of her life just drove by and their eyes met?" What if?!

I usually write the END of my books first!


AR: What can mainstream booksellers and publishers do to improve how books are being marketed in your opinion?

MM: Give new comers more of a chance! The speed in which a writer is rejected never ceases to amaze me. How can you KNOW you don't want something if the package was never opened?


AR: At this point, it seems as though you prefer certain continuity in your writing toward the serial. Do you find it particularly fulfilling to write in this style as opposed to writing without a continuing storyline?

MM: I like adding to an existing story line. It's like the childhood game...Let's tell a story where everyone in the circle adds to an existing sentence until you get a big tale. I like adding to what I've already got and making it better.

I think the stories in a series are easier to write and VERY entertaining. So many books have such great peripheral storyline potential that I'm surprise more writers don't do it. I mean, Ed McBain and his 87th precinct, etc.


AR: Now that your life is extra-curricularly defined with projects left and right, how do you manage to allot quality time to write and allot time accordingly to other responsibilities?

MM: It's very difficult. But I try to get everything I enjoy doing into my day or week, and the things I don't like to do...well it's catch as catch can.

I write late at night so since I've gone back to work full time, It's been hard to get in the writing that I want to do, but I'm still on task with my new book. I hate having to FIND time to write but sometimes the REAL world does closes in and force you to put your priorities in other.

My family is pretty much grown up and out so they have to catch me when they can, too. However, there's always room for the grandbabies!


AR: What advice can you give aspiring writers?

MM: Write everyday. Talk about your writing all the time. Self-publish if you want to. Feel good about what you have the ability to do, not everyone can put words on a page. It's truly a gift! It's YOURS and no one can take that away from you. And do not be discouraged by rejection, a small royality check, or NO royality check at all! Listen with your heart...a hundred people may ignore you in a day, but that one that tells you your book is Da Bomb...that's the one you need to hear!


AR: What would you do different if you were starting anew as a writer, as opposed to the progress you've made at this point?

MM: I would not have started out so prudishly. I would have written what my heart dictated more than what others and their fears for MY rejection dictated.

I would have gotten an editor and a press agent. I would have invested a little more in book promotion over solely word of mouth.


AR: What's in store for those who already know who you are, as well as those that are destined to be enlightened? Are you willing to give insight to future projects and literary offerings in progress?

MM: I'm currently working on a new 2-book series entitled Stone, a hopefully exciting and fast paced, suspense/romance entity with my trademark of dry humor.

Also in the wings is a close on the Majestic Series. Book five, Temporary Rain will be the name and it's due out in 2002. It promises to be FULL of surprises.


AR: Lastly, what legacy do you want to leave your fans to be remembered by?

MM: My love of writing. I want to teach it, share it, and have my grandchildren say my name and people go, THAT WAS YOUR GRANDMA. I read her book, and it was great!



Review of Rested Memories

Rested Memories: The Majestic Series by Michelle McGriff
iUniverse.com - July 2001
ISBN: 0595193633 - Paperback

Reviewed by Alvin Romer, MyShelf.Com
Buy a Copy

Continuous sagas that are held in balance with intriguing and suspenseful subplots, extenuating characterization, and a writing style to induce a need to follow recurring themes should be status quo in the makeup of a successful literary series. Michelle McGriff's The Majestic Series gives us the 4th installment, Rested Memories where all of the above play an important part in making this entity a significant unit of the serial whole. This is so because we follow one of the protagonists, Jimmy Smith both in retrospect and in present-day drama as he deals with situations that are direct influences to him, and others that are circumstantially beyond his control. Jimmy Smith is a wealthy man who had everything, but peace of mind....who went on to found, produce, and lead a tremendously successful band which proved to be at the forefront of his problems.

This is also a story of murder, mayhem, and mystery surrounding Mr. Smith and the characters that are central to the storyline, with the entertainment world as a formidable backdrop. We have the ruthless ElJen and the bad blood that is displayed throughout between them; Candice and Rickki, two women he couldn't do without; His sister Mary who was strong but too weak for the 'bad apple' Simon; Then there were the sultry Destiny (ElJen's daughter who's spotlighted in a previous book within the series) who he couldn't resist; and the surrogate and real families that sprung up to give this book it's misplaced title. There are questions and answers to them that keeps this an interesting read, among them: Who REALLY killed Lasiter, and why? Will Jimmy allow the past to rear it's ugly head to reveal secrets best left alone? What happened that caused the tragic death of Jimmy's lover Rickki?

In order to really understand and delve into the myriad of subplots that this book has, one should invest into the previous titles within the series. The chapters are short, breezy, and easy to contemplate without having to wait until the next scenario to unfold before abandoning interest. Michelles writing style too, gives the reader a sense of contentment because of how easy the dialogue is juxtaposed withing the storyline for easy adaptation. I recommend this book and the whole series. My assessment of why one should read and discover this author is a testament to the short article I wrote, the interview displayed, and the review of this book. For further details, visit her website and purchase her books in bookstores nearest you!


Booklist
Majestic Secret (a romance novel)
Majestic's Secret
A Style Of His Own
Destiny's Song
Rested Memories
For Love's Sake
And to release soon...
The Fourth Floor and Other Short Stories

 

2002's Honorary List

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