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Monday, December 28, 2009

Meet Solomon Crawford: He's bad and doesn't give a damn!



  
Chapter One

    Solomon Crawford turned his back to the buxom blond model lying beside him. She was on the cover of Maxim this month and he thought it would’ve taken him longer to get her in bed. In reality, it had only taken him two hours and a bottle of expensive champagne to get ‘what’s her name’ to drop her panties and give him what every man in America wanted. But for all her beauty and silicone, she was a complete bore in bed. The woman lay there just like a sack of flour and Solomon had never been more disappointed. He probably would’ve had more fun watching paint dry or grass grow. The red numbers on the alarm clock next to the bed read four-thirty.
    Hell, the room is paid for, he thought as he rose from the bed. Solomon didn’t even try to be gentle or quiet as he reached for his discarded Armani slacks and Italian leather loafers.
    “Where are you going?” she asked, her voice deepened by sleep.
    “Home,” he said.
    “But, I thought we could. . .”
    “Listen, we’re done. And honestly, there’s nothing you can say or do to make me want spend another minute with you,” Solomon said as he buttoned his shirt. “The room is paid for, but check out is at noon.”
    “You’re going to leave me here alone?” she asked incredulously. “How can you do this to me? Do you know who I am?”
    Solomon shrugged as he picked his jacket up from the armchair near the door. “Just another piece and not a very good one,” he said then walked out the door. Solomon heard a crash as he headed down the hall to the elevator. Maybe if she’d shown that kind of passion in bed he would’ve stayed until at least five. Solomon chuckled as he climbed onto the elevator and rode to the W Hotel’s parking garage. She, like so many before him, would get over it and have a great story to tell her friends about her night in Solomon land.
    Solomon Crawford was the kind of man that women couldn’t help but get naked for. He had money, power and model good looks. To the many women he’d bedded, he was an untamable stallion who they had to ride at least once. And one ride was all they’d ever gotten. Solomon didn’t believe in fidelity, love or all that other bullshit that sold greeting cards and roses. He wanted sex and it was given to him freely. The only thing he’d ever worked for was building his family’s hotel empire. The Crawford chains of hotels and resorts stretched across the U.S. and Canada.
    Three years ago, Solomon was handed the reins to the business with Cynthia and Elliot Crawford retired from the hospitality business. His older brother, Richmond, was super pissed when he was passed over to run the business. Richmond was forty years old and thought he knew more about running a hotel business than “the little playboy.”
    But at age thirty-five, Solomon had been more than ready to take charge. Solomon knew the only way to shut Richmond up was to take the business to the next level and that he did with the help of his bright business partner Carmen De La Croix. Carmen talked him into investing in resorts and making the Crawford name synonymous with deluxe vacation resorts. Of course, Richmond thought this was a bad idea until they turned a million dollar profit in the first quarter. And the money kept rolling in. Solomon knew he’d be lost without Carmen. She was the only woman who he could talk to and trust. She didn’t want anything from him and he liked that. Why couldn’t the women he slept with be more like that? Solomon Crawford wasn’t going to give anyone a diamond and a happily ever after, that wasn’t the Crawford way.

Monday, November 2, 2009

It's November!!


I'm so excited that Betting On Love  is coming out this week. This book is a milestone for me because it is my tenth novel.

Also, it is the first book that was actually inspired by a real event. When you all read it, I'll tell you the story behind the book.

Betting On Love also introduces you to three friends who I will be writing about in the future. (Like February, No Other Love Will Do .)

If I can't make it to your city for a signing, but you want an autograph, e-mail me directly at cheris87@bellsouth.net with your address for an autograph label. Thank you so much for your support and I hope you enjoy Betting On Love.


Cheris.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Becoming Nola Darling (minus the rape)


So, I'm sitting here watching She's Gotta Have It for the hundredth time. The first time I saw this movie, I didn't get it. I thought it was all about sex. Hell, I was a teenager, so that's why I wanted to watch it. 

But as a 32-year-old, watching this movie has led me to believe that Nola Darling had the right idea about relationships. Why settle for one man? It’s not as if I have a goal of being Mrs. Somebody any more. Marriage is an institution and institutions are for crazy people.
I thought I was falling in love and I thought I'd met the last honest man in the Queen City, but after a check of text messages on his cell phone--I was wrong. 

Most women my age are married, engaged or mothers. I'm none of those and I don't want to be. I'm sick and tired of the games people play and men not knowing what the hell they want. All I want is a little honesty. 

Honesty worked for Nola Darling and yes, I know this was a movie. But she let the three men she'd been seeking know about each other. Too bad more men won't and can't do the same. So, I'm going to try dating Nola Darling style. I'm tired of the games and the lies--so, it's time to have some fun. Time to do what the hell I want to do and not consider what he's going to think or how he feels. It seems that he didn't give a shit about my feelings. 

Sunday, October 25, 2009

And don't forget to Check out Let's Get It On

One week to go!!


My tenth novel will be release on Nov. 3rd. I'm so excited and I hope that you all will pick up this book and love reading it as much as I loved writing it.

James Goings, the hero of this novel, is a character who stuck with me. He has a famous brother, but James still had a story that needed to be told.

And he needed a woman who had her own. As much as I hate the Ne-Yo song, Miss Independent, that's who Jade Christian is. But even Independent women need love.

So, get your copy of "Betting On Love" on Nov. 3rd and stay tuned for where you can meet me and get your book signed.

Cheris

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Want to Win it Before you Can Buy it? Betting On Love Contest



Betting On Love is the story of Jade Christian and James Goings.

If you want to win an uncorrected proof of Betting On Love, be the first
one to e-mail the answers to these questions to covingtonpublicity@yahoo.com.
Please don't answer these questions in this forum. The contest will be
voided. Be sure to include your mailing address in your e-mail.

1. What book did James Goings first appear in?
2. What is James's brother's name and occupation?
3. In "More Than He Can Handle" what does Lillian tell Freddie she does
every morning before her husband, Louis, wakes up?
4. In "Just Can't Get Enough" where did Darius work and live before
returning to South Carolina?

Good luck.

Cheris

Friday, September 4, 2009

Are you ready for some football?

Football season is breathing down our necks and I can't wait.
Here's what I'll be wearing on Sundays.






Want to read a good football romance, check out Let's Get It On


This book was inspired by my love of football and the wide receivers of the NFL, so strong and arrogant on the field, but what about off the field after getting jilted at the altar?
That's what Maurice Goings is facing after winning the Super Bowl. Getting this book also prepares you for Betting On Love.


This book, which will be released in November follows James Goings, Maurice's loyal brother.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Lucky Number 10 --Press release from my publicist.


This November, author Cheris Hodges will celebrate the release of her tenth book, Betting On Love.
The novel follows her successfully 2008 release, Let’s Get It On, by telling the story of James Goings, brother of NFL super star Maurice Goings from Let’s Get It On.
“I knew I had to tell James’s story because he was such a big part of Maurice’s life and he deserved to get a life of his own,” Hodges said.
Betting On Love starts off in Las Vegas, where Hodges said she got inspiration to write the book after spending a weekend in Sin City with her best friend.
“I had a great weekend in Las Vegas and when I returned home, the sights and sounds of the iconic Vegas strip stayed with me, so I looked at my vacation pictures and started writing. It was a lot of fun,” she said.
Here’s that the book is about:
What Happens In Vegas…
High-stakes action and even hotter men are all Jade Christian wants now that her scheming boyfriend has aced her out of his bed and their successful company. But her Vegas weekend spree has turned into several nights of steamy commitment-free hookups with easygoing businessman James Goings—and he’s becoming the one bet she can’t resist …
Is Just The Beginning…
Growing up in the shadow of his famous athlete brother taught James that focusing on his career was far safer than trusting beautiful women. His sizzling encounters with Jade could almost change his mind … if he wasn’t afraid she’d use him for revenge on her ex. But the more he sees of the real, down-to-earth woman behind the seductress, the more James will risk to win her love for a lifetime…

Betting On Love arrives in stores this November from Dafina Books, a division of Kensington Publications.
Log on to www.cherishodges.com, www.myspace.com/cherishodges,
www.twitter.com/cherishodges, www.kensingtonbooks.com, www.facebook.com/cherishodges for more information.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Thursday, July 16, 2009

No Other Lover Will Do, Coming Feb. 2010



Ultimate bad boy Solomon Crawford dates for sport. He hunts the most attractive women in town, and after sex, leaves before sunrise, never to return. He also happens to co-own the hottest resort in North Carolina—Sugar Mountain, where stunner Kandace Davis is taking a much-needed break from her hectic work schedule. The last thing the two expect is to find each other—in a steamy hot tub…

Solomon is the most arrogant, wickedly sexy man Kandace has ever met, but she’s not the only one who can’t resist him. Carmen De La Croix, Solomon’s business partner, has loved him from the start—with a vengeance. There’s no way in hell she’ll allow Solomon and Kandace to play out their passion in front of her. In fact, she’ll do whatever it takes to keep Solomon away from the woman he’s finally ready to watch the sunrise with…

BE my fan

Cheris Hodges on Facebook

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Shakespeare at the Green

I can't wait to go see a good Shakespeare performance.

May 28th - June 14th

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00 pm
Sundays at 6:30 pm

Uptown at The Green
in beautiful Charlotte, NC

(directions and parking info...)

Admission is Free
(donations will be accepted at the end of the performance)

PERFORMANCES

Thursday May 28, 8:00 pm
Friday, May 29, 8:00 pm
Saturday, May 30, 8:00 pm
Sunday, May 31, 6:30 pm (Workshop at 5:00pm)

Wednesday June 3, 8:00 pm (Trivia at 7:15pm)
Thursday June 4, 8:00 pm
Friday, June 5, 8:00 pm
Saturday, June 6, 8:00 pm
Sunday, June 7, 6:30 pm (Workshop at 5:00pm)

Wednesday June 10, 8:00 pm (Trivia at 7:15pm)
Thursday June 11, 8:00 pm
Friday, June 12, 8:00 pm
Saturday, June 13, 8:00 pm
Sunday, June 14, 6:30 pm (Workshop at 5:00pm)

No Reservations Required
Patrons are encouraged to bring blankets or lawn chairs and may bring food and beverages, if desired.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Columbus, Ga. weekend.





This weekend I had a signing at Barnes and Noble and a book club meeting with the SBS Book Club on Sunday in Columbus. I stayed at the Days Inn near Fort Benning, Ga. and I'm sure if the walls of the hotel could talk, some young soldiers would be in trouble. But I digress.
Here are some photos, including one that I hope my father never becomes, the creepy old man in shorts and high black socks. I had a great time and enjoyed the hospitality shown by Shaw High School's Sonya Boyd who helped promote my signing along with the school's book fair.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Scenes from Florence, SC signing




I had a great signing at Barnes and Noble at Magnolia Mall on May 16th. As you can see, the store ordered my entire catalog. So, if you're near Florence and need one of my books, you can get signed copies at Barnes and Noble.



My little cousin, his mom didn't want to take a picture.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Book signing in Florence, SC this Saturday

Romance novelist, Cheris Hodges, listens to her fans. Take her latest book for instance, More Than He Can Handle. After readers finished her novel, The Business of Love, they flooded her e-mail inbox wanting to know when Cleveland Alexander would have his on novel. Cheris knew she had to give her readers a good story of their favorite hero. Then she came up with the steamy novel set at a wedding that the best man and
the maid of honor didn’t really want to attend.
More Than He Can Handle was born.
Publisher’s Weekly called the book, “a sizzling romance.”
Set in Atlanta and New Orleans, Hodges delivered just what her fans wanted, a feisty heroine, a bit of mystery and a whole lot of love.

Cheris will be signing copies of her latest book at Barnes and Noble, 2701 David McLeod Blvd, on May 16 at 2 p.m.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Upcoming Book signings

April 26th
Spring Fling
A Celebration of North Carolina Romance Authors at the East Regional
Library on Sunday April 26th at 2:00 pm.
Directions:

Take the ramp onto I-40 E

Merge onto I-440 E

Take US-64/13-B New Bern Ave exit

Merge onto New Bern Ave/Rt 64

Continue to follow New Bern Avenue

You will pass Golden Corral on your left, DQ on your right

You will pass Lonestar and Target on your left, Lowes Food Store on your
right

Turn left at Smithfield Rd-that intersection has a Hardees, Walgreens, CVS
and Exxon at
its corner

You will go up a small hill (Martial Arts studio on your left)

The East Regional Library is on your left across from the Lockhart
Elementary School
(if you see Forestville Rd you have gone about a block too far)

May 2:
Borders at Stonecrest Mall
Lithonia, Ga
2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

May 16:
Barnes and Nobles
Magnolia Mall
Florence, South Carolina
2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Your Free Weekly Read: From The Ex Files

The moment I got in my car, I knew I needed to call the tribe. I could imagine what my best friend, Eva, would say about Xavier’s invitation and my acceptance of it. Still, she was the first person I called.
“Eva Rice,” she said when she answered the phone.
“What’s up, E?”
“Pilar Brooks, what’s going on?”
“Do you have plans this weekend?”
“Umm, a stack of manuscripts to edit, but nothing fun and exciting, why?”
Sighing, I steeled myself to hear my friend tell me how crazy I am. “I’m going to a wedding reception and I need you to go with me.”
“Who’s getting married?” Eva asked.
“Xavier.”
“Hold on,” she said. In the background, a door slammed. This is it, she’s about to let me have it.
“You mean Xavier Brooks, my goddaughter’s father and your ex husband is going to get married and you’re going to the reception? Have you fell and bumped your crazy head?” Eva snapped. “And you want me to go for what reason? Xavier and I have never gotten along.”
“If you don’t go, them I’m not going to have anyone to talk to. Kendall is probably going to be up under her daddy. Go with me, please.”
“What’s in it for me?” Eva asked.
“Whatever you want,” I said, then immediately regretted it.
“All right, I’ll go, but don’t expect me to be on my best behavior. By the way, I’m coming to your house with a bottle of chardonnay, cook dinner.”
“You got it,” I said.
“And don’t bring something home from the restaurant either,” Eva warned as if she saw inside my brain.
Moments later, I pulled into the parking lot of Miss Cherry’s Dance Studio to pick up my six year old daughter. Kendall is the light of my life and proof that my marriage to Xavier wasn’t a waste of seven years. I watched my daughter, her head filled with brown braids dance out of the front door of the studio. The smile on her cocoa brown face reminded me of her father, but the way she moved her small body took me back to a time when all I had to worry about were dance recitals and practicing the piano. Now, it was all about protecting her. Rising from the car, I crossed the parking lot to Kendall.
“Hey, Mommy,” she cried excitedly as I bent down to hug her.
“Did you have a good practice?”
Kendall shook her head. “I’m going to be the lead swan! Daddy’s going to come see me dance, right?”
Forcing a tight smile on my lips I nodded. “He said he’s going to be there. I’m so proud of you. What do you say, I make your favorite dinner and we celebrate, after you do your homework.”
“Okay,” she said.
We piled into the car and headed home, though part of me wanted to go check on my other pride and joy, The Sweet Spot. But going there would mean my night would end because my staff would show me problems or I’d spot them myself. Besides, it was Xavier’s night to pretend he was the general manager of our restaurant. The Sweet Spot was the other thing that made me realize Xavier and I didn’t have horrible marriage. When I told him that I wanted to open my own restaurant, one that specialized in decadent desserts and southern meals, he was all for it. Xavier encouraged me to quit my bland office job, cash out my 401 (k) and live my dream. For the first year, money was tight and Xavier took care of the house hold bills. When I was about to give up, because the restaurant didn’t seem to be making it, Eva and Xavier gave me the kick in the behind that I needed.
Eva, who ran a public relations firm, created a media campaign that got me and my restaurant featured in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Essence, Ebony, Black Enterprise and Everyday With Rachel Ray. The business picked up almost overnight. Soon, the Sweet Spot was one of Atlanta’s elite restaurants and I was pregnant with Kendall. It should’ve been a happy time for me, but it was around this time when my marriage began to crumble. Xavier and I argued all the time. Sometimes it was because the kitchen was cluttered or there were too many baby things sitting around the house.
Sometimes, I felt as if he didn’t want our child and I questioned him about it several times.
“Of course I want this baby,” he’d say. “This is just too much, the restaurant and . . . Pilar, I love you and I’m always going to be here for our baby.”
But what about me, I’d wonder, but never say. It wasn’t until Eva showed up on my door step one night at eleven-thirty, that I knew something was wrong.
“Where is your fucking husband?” she’d demanded when I opened the door.
“Eva, what’s going on?”
My friend dropped her head and tugged at her growing locs. When she looked up at me, her eyes flashed anger, then sadness. “You know you’re like the sister I never had and I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t know what I’m about to say is a fact.”
“You’re scaring me,” I’d said as I clutched my stomach. Kendall had been kicking up a storm.
Eva placed her hand on my shoulder, “Are you okay? Do you need to sit down?”
“No, the baby is kicking like crazy. He does this every night.”
“I hope it’s a girl,” Eva said as she’d walked into the foyer. “Because if it’s a boy, he might turn out like his dad.”
Needless to say, my then husband and best friend didn’t like each other. They merely tolerated each other out of respect for me.
I led Eva into the kitchen and poured us two glasses of milk. She’d looked at the milk and shook her head. “I’m going to need the wine you’d drink if you weren’t pregnant.” She stood up and walked over to the refrigerator and grabbed a bottle of wine. Without even asking, as was the way we did things, Eva had retrieved the wine bottle opener. As she twisted the cork, she turned to me.
“I fired Debbie today.”
“I thought she was the best assistant you’ve ever had?” I’d asked as I sipped my milk.
“Because the bitch is pregnant,” Eva said harshly as she popped the wine cork out.
“You know that’s illegal.”
“Well,” Eva said as she filled a large plastic cup, “I fired her because she said the father is. . .” She took a huge gulp of wine before saying, “Xavier.”

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Life on the mid list

My life on the mid-list

Published 02.03.09

Every year — probably every day — thousands of people chase the dream of being a published author.

In 2001, I made a $99 investment in my own literary fantasies. Eight years later, with nine books in print, I'm living the dream ... sort of. Sure, I write books that get published, but I'm stuck on what's known as the "mid-list."

A mid-list author, like me, is considered to be someone worth publishing because their books make money ... just not millions.

As an author of romance novels, my books aren't hardcover, which makes it even harder to get on the bestsellers list. But romance-themed books are some of the top-selling titles out there, especially when the cover price of a new novel in paperback is under $7 and hardcover novels are at least $25.

I've signed with an agent, and I have a contract with the New York publishing house Kensington Books. I've even tried to be prolific like Prince and push out a book a year. So far, it's been working. When reviewers get my books now, it's not a question of who I am anymore. But that still doesn't make me rich or famous.

But, it's better than it was when my first book went on sale via the Internet.

Print-on-demand publishing was just getting started, and I was working as a journalist in Winston-Salem, N.C. After I wrote the last sentence in my book, I recalled an interview I'd done with author Natasha Munson. Munson published a self-help book with the online service Iuniverse.com. I looked up the Web site, and that week they were running a special; I was so excited. I thought: "Hell, I'd blow $100 on something over the next week anyway; why not put it to good use?" Then, I'd either get the writing bug out of my system or I'd be the next Terry McMillan or John Grisham.

Keep in mind, I'd been trying to get published since high school and had foolishly sent my full manuscript to Penguin Books. (And yes, I still have that rejection letter.)

As the arts and entertainment editor at The Winston-Salem Chronicle, I'd been talking to a lot of authors who were self-publishing. It seemed to be the way to go to get your book out there.

What they failed to tell me, and what I didn't know, was that bookstores don't order books they can't return. And guess what's non-returnable? You got it: self-published books.

But I digress.

It took three months for my book, Searching For Paradise, to be published; there were revisions and a job change. I left Winston-Salem and went to High Point. Paradise was a coming-of-age novel based on the life of women just graduating from college. Like most first-time authors, I chose to write about something I had the most knowledge about. I was fresh out of college, and it wasn't at all what I thought it was going to be. I wanted my next book to be something different. And since the majority of my day was spent covering catastrophes as a police reporter with the News & Record, I needed a release.

That's when I decided to write my first romance novel.

In two months, I was done with my first draft. But unlike my first book, I wanted someone to pay me to be published, instead of the other way around.

This time, I did the research and found a publisher who accepted manuscript proposals from new writers without agents. That was me all day. And I was tired of searching for a literary agent -- because most of them were just scammers. Why pay a fee when reputable agents charge you nothing up-front?

I sent one prospective agent a query letter and some sample chapters; he wrote me back requesting the entire manuscript. When I received that letter, I pumped my fist and jumped around my apartment as if Publisher's Clearing House had just knocked on my door. This was a New York agent. Simon and Schuster is in New York. I was on my way ... or so I thought.

Two weeks later, the agent sent another letter that grounded me like a lead balloon: "I received your manuscript; however, your check for the $150 reading fee was not included. Please send the check as soon as possible or the manuscript will be destroyed."

Instead, this "agent" received a self-addressed stamped envelope and a request for my work back.

I would've given up, but my new book Revelations was special to me, and I decided to find my own publisher. I was determined not to go the self-publishing route again. Authors who have success publishing and selling their own books are a special breed. They have to go out and convince booksellers to give them a chance. Back in the day, there were plenty of independent bookstores that would allow a self-published author to come in and have a signing (for a percentage, of course). But many of those stores are gone now. And while online sales are great, I've learned that if readers like your books, they want to meet you. You'd better damned well hope they like you, too, because your sales will suffer if they don't.

I wanted my book on the shelves of bookstores. I had never read a story like mine, and I was sure that other people would relate to it or at least like it. Then, I'd be Nora Roberts. And my book would be made into a cheesy Lifetime movie, and I could move to New York and write from a sidewalk café all day. (Yeah, I had very unrealistic expectations. But, if you're going to dream, why not dream big?)

I joined every online writer's group I could find, hoping that networking with other writers would point me toward that coveted bestsellers list. By this time, I'd interviewed a dozen or so best-selling authors. They'd all had one common thread: They faced rejection before hitting the big time.

I could do this. I was born to do this. And then it happened: I received a letter that didn't say "no."

Genesis Press wanted Revelations. I thought this was fitting and funny. Less than three years ago, they'd turned down my first book. At the same time I was offered a contract from Genesis, I found an ad from a new literary agent out of Maryland. Though I had been offered a two-book deal, something told me to go ahead and reach out to this agent. I had hopes that I wouldn't be greeted by another scam or rejection.

I e-mailed Sha-Shana Crichton and, to my surprise, she e-mailed me back the same day. My synopsis had caught her eye, and she wanted the entire manuscript. Yes! When I told her that I had been offered a contract, she seemed even more interested in signing me as a client. And signing with her was a good thing because she renegotiated the contract that I was ready to sign and secured a better two-book deal for me as well.

It was 2002, and I knew it was only a matter of time until I was sipping espresso in Greenwich Village.

What I didn't know was that unless you're with a large publishing house, like a Random House, and your name is Dan Brown or Eric Jerome Dickey, you've got to do your own publicity.

It'd be great if people just picked up your book because they wanted to give a new author a chance, but that isn't the case. Just read the reviews of books on Amazon.com.

And when authors call bookstores and ask to set up a signing, the response isn't very positive. It's as if the bookseller is wondering, "If you're going to sell so many books, why are you calling and not your publicist?"

But who could afford to pay a publicist upwards of $400 a month? That money doesn't guarantee that you'd get coverage in regional, local or national publications or that your book would be reviewed.

I figured: If I can write a book, I can write a press release. It also helped that, working as an editor, I saw press releases on a daily basis; some were good, some bad. So, I tried being my own publicist for about a week, and let's just say a full-time job, a deadline for book two and life in general made it a little difficult to keep up with details like who had received a press release and the location of my next signing.

Thank God for friends. One of my good buddies works in public relations and was ready to start her own company right around the time that I realized I needed a publicist. We came to an agreement: She handed over her contacts, and I sent out the press releases from her e-mail address.

It worked. By 2006 when my book, The Business of Love, was released, I was finally getting the publicity I wanted.

Book signings are another way to meet the public and another way to find out that being famous on MySpace doesn't always translate into sales.

I've had the pleasure of attending some great signings -- like the time the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Library hosted me at the Beatties Ford Road branch the day after Valentine's Day. While my ego would love to take the credit for packing the house, it was probably the free chocolate that got people in the door.

I've been invited to discuss my work with two book clubs in Charlotte and one in Jacksonville, Fla. Those women take to your books and while you're in their presence, you feel like your work actually matters. You can look over your shoulder and see Hollywood calling.

Then, you have an experience like the one I had in Columbus, Ga.

Part of me always looks for a chance to get to Atlanta. A few of my books have been set in Atlanta, and when I was invited by a book club to come to Columbus for a meeting, I jumped at the chance. The meeting was on a Sunday, so that meant I could spend Saturday in Atlanta with my best friend. I was looking forward to this meeting, hoping that I was really expanding my reach and would soon be off the mid-list.

Columbus is about two hours from Atlanta, which makes it about six hours from the Queen City -- and that's not counting traffic and road construction.

So, we were to meet at a local Cheddar's restaurant; however, when I arrived, there was only one person in attendance. Part of me wanted to turn around and leave, especially since I had thoughts of canceling earlier that day. But I took a deep breath and decided to stay. The conversation was great, and after dinner, I was ready to go. But, another book club member showed up. Now, I could say two people in Columbus knew who I was.

The drive back to Charlotte was hell on wheels. When I got on to I-85 North, a wave of sleepiness washed over me. I was too far from my friend's house to go back and too close to South Carolina to stop. "This is just great," I said aloud as I rolled the window down to let the cool air slap me in my face. "I'm going to die before I make it to Oprah." I think laughing at myself (and nasty truck stop coffee) kept me awake long enough to make it back to Charlotte.

Once you show a bookseller that you can sell books, they don't mind having you back for a signing. But in these economic times, it's nothing to call up a store where you had a good showing only to find out that it's permanently closed.

This happened to me in both Atlanta and Raleigh.

The former B. Dalton at Crabtree Valley Mall was the first place I really felt like a star. By the time my 2006 titles, Second Chances at Love and The Business of Love were released, B. Dalton was closed.

And as plans were being made for my book tour in support of More Than He Can Handle, my favorite store in the Atlanta area, Waldenbooks in North DeKalb Mall, was no more. That bookstore had the perfect location for a signing: right next to the bathroom and the movie theater. People couldn't help but stop by your table. Most of the time they bought a book; but more often than not, you got people who would say, "I'll be back." And when they did return, they zoomed past you so quickly, you forgot that you were supposed to sell them a book.

Dealing with chain bookstores when you're not a bestseller is akin to pulling teeth at times, even with a publicist. Phone calls go unanswered, and messages and e-mails don't get returned. It's enough to make you want to scream. But Charlotte is a city with great independently owned bookstores and booksellers who want to help local authors. And let's be real: When a bookstore hosts a signing, the store isn't taking a big risk because what books they don't sell they can return -- unless the author signs every book. (Yes, I've done that before.)

Being a mid-list author means you're always in danger of losing your contract, so you do whatever you can to get those numbers up. You have book signings in hair salons, you send out 1,500 e-mails each week and you pray that someone connected to Oprah reads your book.

But all that said, all you can do is hope that the reviews are kind.

They aren't always.

Of course, one person's one-star book is another reader's favorite. A lot of times, a critic's favorite isn't always the author's top pick.

For instance, Let's Get It On was one of my favorite titles. I wrote about Charlotte, football and sex. It gets no better. Romantic Times Magazine didn't like it so much.

In a two-star review, the magazine said, "there's no connection, emotionally, to the main characters, which makes it hard to cheer for them."

Getting a bad review is like someone telling you that your child is ugly. I've always believed that I can learn from each review, good or bad -- but, hey, it stings.

Then you read what the readers have to say.

"I loved this book!" D. Lee wrote on Amazon. And countless other e-mails I received about this book just let me know that you can't please everybody.

It takes a lot to make it on the mid-list. I'm more than aware that there are plenty of people who'd like to be in my shoes. I'm thankful to have a contract, especially when Publishers Weekly constantly reminds you that the publishing industry is in big trouble with layoffs at big publishing houses. Maybe that's why being a bestseller has become part of my mission these days.

That's also why it's good to have friends and family on board with your dream. So many times my sister has been in Wal-Mart and sold my book to a shopper wandering around the book section. My mom sells my books in church -- and I'm certain we're going to hell for that because these novels are really steamy. When my dad was waiting for a kidney transplant and had to undergo dialysis, he got his nurses hooked on my books.

So, my plan for 2009 is to kick it up a notch. It's time to step out of my comfort zone and hit cities that I've never visited before to build a bigger fan base.

I'm hoping that if I make the right moves, then maybe I'll be able to write my own happy ending.

The Betting On Love cover


WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS…

High-stakes action and even hotter men are all Jade Christian wants now that her scheming boyfriend has aced her out of his bed and their successful company. But her Vegas weekend spree has turned into several nights of steamy no-strings sex with easygoing businessman James Goings—and he’s becoming the one bet she can’t resist …

IS JUST THE BEGINNING…

Growing up in the shadow of his famous athlete brother taught James that focusing on his career was far safer than trusting beautiful women. His sizzling encounters with Jade could almost change his mind … if he wasn’t afraid she’d use him for revenge on her ex. But the more he sees of the real, down-to-earth woman behind the seductress, the more James will risk to win her love for a lifetime…

An Interview with Eric Benet

Singer loving life
Eric Benet’s brings new outlook on Love and Life to Charlotte
By Cheris Hodges
The last time we saw R&B singer Eric Benet, he was defending himself against his divorce from Academy Award winning actress Halle Berry.
For a while, people knew Benet as Mr. Halle.
“Take that as an occupational hazard,” he said of his time with Berry. “I was with somebody who was internationally famous and successful. Had I been a recording artist who made the mistakes that I did with someone who wasn’t famous it definitely wouldn’t have been quite as earth shattering to the press. But it overshadowed things for a while.”
Those days are gone and with his latest CD “Love & Life,” Benet has shown that he’s moved on to better things and the focus is back where it belongs—on his music.
“I’m at this really great place in my life right now where I like singing, dancing and laughing and making love and just experiencing the fruits of being a little wiser and a little older,” says Benet. “It feels good. People have been listening to this record and they tell me first it sounds good and the songs just make me feel good.”
The singer who performed in Charlotte on Oct, 12 at the Neighborhood Theatre and if you want to be seduced lyrically, you want to be in the audience.
Just what is one of his favorite songs to sing on stage?
“My favorite song to perform is ‘Chocolate Legs.’ The reaction to ‘Chocolate Legs’ is incredible. It just touches people, specifically women with chocolate legs in a powerful way,” Benet says. By the time he reaches the second verse of the sensual song, he said the crowd is whipped up in a frenzy.
How could they not be? Check out these lyrics:
“Your cocoa skin against mine, babe/Is all I need to help revive me
Just touch me and I feel pure, pure love/You're the only thing I'm ever sure of(your love I'm sure of)/I need some reminding/That God is still, He's still behind me/Baby, come take my soul and set me free/When you come wrap your chocolate legs 'round me.”
And when he’s done crooning about “Chocolate Legs,” Benet said the crowd wants to hear “Femininity,” a single from his 1996 “True To Myself” album, “A Love of My Own,” from 1999’s “A Day In the Life” and “Spend My Life” the hit single he made with Tamia. Who probably won’t show up at the Neighborhood Theatre with Benet. “That would be nice but she just had another baby and she and Grant [Hill] are doing their thing and being wonderful, happy, beautiful couple.”
Benet oozes sexuality without the overt crassness of some R&B artists [R. Kelly]. “When the idea of a sexy song comes to me, I just treat that with what I find sexy to me,” he said. “I think when you’re too overt and try to hit someone over the head, it’s not as sexy as the subtleties and the creativeness of it. I think that’s a lot more sexy and I come from the school of the Isley Brothers, making love between the sheets and Marvin Gaye, let’s get it on and sexual healing. Those songs were extremely sexy but not vulgar.”
Take the lyrics to his song “The Hunger,” while there’s no doubt that he’s talking about the newness of a sexual relationship, the lyrics are smooth as silk.
“Did you know that you smile when you're asleep?/Is it there all the time?/Or only when you're with me?/When the morning sun shines on your face/Let me be the first breath you take.”
But sex isn’t all Benet sings about on the new album, he touches on the war in Iraq.
“The best music comes authentically from the heart and that’s just been the best way for me to write. I’ve always been the kind of song writer that where ever I am in my life that’s going to come through in the music.”
And the other stuff that’s happened in his life has taught Benet a few lessons as well.
“Most of my life I feel like I’ve been the kind of person who looks for validation or wants people to like me to feel good about myself,” he said. But after the media storm during his marriage to Berry, Benet said he doesn’t rely on that anymore.
“For a while, I couldn’t rely on that. I had to love me for me and keep it moving,” he said.

My interview with Terry McMillan


Acclaimed author Terry McMillan is coming to Charlotte.

McMillan will take the stage with fellow New York Times Bestselling author Omar Tyree on Saturday at the McGlohon Theatre.

This event is a part of the "Change is Coming to Charlotte" Event Series. Sponsored by RealEyes Bookstore and the Charlotte Literary Festival, the "Change is Coming to Charlotte" Event Series is a fundraiser for the Charlotte Literary Festival and the Kickoff to Writing Scholarship Program.

But before McMillan hits the stage, she gave Creative Loafing 15 minutes to pick her brain.

Creative Loafing: What do you think of the current state of the literary market?

Terry McMillan: Based on what's going on with the economy, the market is tougher, especially for African American writers. And there's so much of the street fiction out there that it's starting to cancel each other out. As far as African American writers in general, there are a lot of fine young writers out here, who are not getting the kind of attention that they deserve. Good quality fiction has seemed to fascinate the publishing industry as much as some of this other stuff, because it doesn't seem to have been selling. But, I think publishers are getting tired of this fiction that is written with all of this gratuitous sex and violence. It doesn't represent what's going on. It's not even pleasurable to read. Some of that stuff is scary.

So, what are you currently reading?

I just started reading James McBride, "Song Yet Sung." And I started reading a memoir by a writer, a southern writer, his name is Rick Bragg.

Do you plan on ever writing a memoir?

No. My life hasn't been tragic enough and plus, I don't think my life is all that interesting. And I don't want people to know--this is my business. I write fiction to express and explain a lot of things that I see happen to people and some of which that has happened to me, emotionally, but I can dispense with it through my characters. To me, it is a lot more redeeming. I love memoirs, especially really good ones. But there have been some horrific things that have happened to people, but I don't think that one of the things you need to write a good one. But what's been happening over the last few years is the more shocking it is, the more they think it is interesting. You don't have to have a catastrophic life to write a good memoir.

What are you working on now?

I'm working a novel, yes, Lord. I just changed the title of a chapter. What was it called? "If I Sit Still Long Enough." That's not the chapter now; it's called "14 Years." That's the name of a chapter, but the novel is called "Getting Back To Happy." I'm about two-thirds through it. I'm going to read from it in North Carolina. I cannot believe how many times I've been to North Carolina. I just came back from North Carolina, I was in Greensboro, I was at Wake Forest [University].

Oprah Winfrey bought the movie rights to your novel, "The Interruption of Everything." Are we ever going to see this book on the big screen?
Want to read more? Log on to: http://blogs.creativeloafing.com/theclog/2009/04/14/fifteen-minutes-with-terry-mcmillian/

Monday, April 13, 2009

Your Free Weekly Read: From The Ex Files

The economy is tight for all of us and as much as I want everybody to buy my books, I know some people might not be able to pick up one right now. That's cool, hopefully in November, you'll be able to pick up "Betting On Love."
You can always check out my books on Amazon.

But until then, I want to share a short story with you, titled From The Ex Files. I plan to update it for the next four weeks until the story is done.

From The Ex Files
By Cheris Hodges

As my ex-husband sat across from me at Starbuck’s holding my hand and pleading with me to attend his wedding reception the next weekend, I realized why our marriage didn’t last.
This man didn’t understand the meaning of the word no. Or as my brain was screaming, hell no.
“Pilar, we’ve always been friends, I want you to be there.”
“But I don’t want to be there,” I replied as I took a sip from my frothy latte. “Kendall will be there, I’m going to see to it.”
Xavier Brooks smiled at me as he did when we were students at North Carolina A&T University and my heart did the same somersault that it did that first day he’d said hello. If only I could reach into my chest and replace that organ with one that wasn’t effected by Xavier’s bright smile and white teeth.
“I’ve known you a lot longer than I’ve known Kendall,” he said.
Part of me wanted to toss my coffee in his face. “You idiot, Kendall’s your daughter.”
Xavier’s smile faded. “I know that, but once upon a time you were my best friend and that’s all I was trying to remind you of. This is a special day for me.”
And your new wife is a damned bitch, I don’t like her and I don’t want to be around the two of you, is what I wanted to say and what I should’ve said, instead, my reply was, “Fine, Xavier, I’ll be there.”
Reaching across the table, he took my free hand in his and kissed it gently. “Thank you.”
Despite my smile, what I was saying to my ex in my head wasn’t nice at all. “I have to go,” I said. “Kendall’s going to be done with her dance rehearsal soon. You will be here for her recital next Sunday, right?”
“Umm, I think . . .”
“I think you’d better be there or I’m going to kick your ass.” Rising to my feet, I was beginning to see another reason why Xavier and I had divorced. He was quite the disappointment and he was selfish. “Kendall will be looking for you and if I show up at this reception of yours, you’d better have your ass on the front row watching our baby dance like a swan.”
Xavier gave me a mock salute. “Yes, ma’am. And Pilar, thanks.”
Turning my back to him, I grabbed my purse and car keys. I was not going to tell him that he was welcomed.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Romance IN Color reviews More Than He Can Handle



MORE THAN HE CAN HANDLE - Cheris Hodges
Kensington Dafina/Romance
0-75823-151-2
February 2009
SYNOPSIS: A sizzling one-night stand between a maid of honor and a sexy best man surprises them both when it turns into something more, in this scorching page-turner.
CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE 4 Ashley Haney
REVIEW: Cheris Hodges takes on the crazy ride of finding love through the lives of Cleveland Alexander and Winifred Barker. Cleveland is a firefighter whom everyone has pegged as the king playa-playa. Winifred “Freddie” is an independent woman who is very distrustful of men. After indulging in a one night stand during her best friends wedding, Freddie heads back to New Orleans without a second glance while Cleveland can’t seem to get this beauty out of his mind. Cheris Hodges takes us through a turn of events as Cleveland tries to convince Freddie to not only love him but to trust him.Cleveland is a firefighter who gets trapped into stepping in as the best man for a friend’s wedding which is the last place on earth he wants to be. He finds himself falling head over heels for Freddie and constantly trying to convince everyone especially Freddie that what he feels is the real thing. Freddie hasn’t had much luck with the men in her life starting with her father. Along with her mother’s constant mantra about how all men are no good, Freddie doesn’t hold them in high regard. As Freddie searches for the truth about her parents, she has to decide if Cleveland is worth taking a chance on and if there really is a thing called love. The supporting characters in this novel help the reader gain a better understanding of the main characters. They also help to show what real love and friendship is all about and proves that you can disagree but still love each other.The story begins in Covington, Georgia. We then follow Freddie back to New Orleans and Cleveland to Atlanta. The couple meets again in New Orleans and leave there to come to Atlanta. The setting fits in with the story line and allows you to see each character in their natural surroundings. The story has a dialogue that grabs and holds your attention. It is also very detail oriented. At some points it seems as if the author is bogged down with too much detail but the pace of the story picks up and becomes very interesting. I enjoyed this novel. It was a great story that shows how we don’t know what we need until it falls into our laps. I would recommend this book to people who are looking for an intriguing novel.
reviewer@romanceincolor.com 1st March 2009

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My Black history feature with The SistahFriend Book Club



Cheris Hodges, Blog Blitz #18
What does Black History Month mean to you?

Black history month to me is about showing off our history to people who don't normally pay attention. This year, I'm sure there will ne more people focused on Black History because of President Barack Obama. (Don't you just love to say or write that?)

This month also gives me time to reflect on the richness of what our forefathers and mothers did to blaze the path to greatness for us. But more than anything else, Black History is American history and with President Barack Obama in the White House, I hope more people will recognize that.

February is also the month of LOVE. How do you incorporate the L-word in your work?

The month of love! Yes. I plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day in Atlanta at Waldenbooks in the CNN Center doing a book signing of "More Than He Can Handle"which is an unlikely love story of Cleveland Alexander and Winfred "Freddie" Barker. I like to show love in unusual ways. Love isn't always easy, but when you find that right one, it is a beautiful ride.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The most anticipated event of 2009!! (Not dealing with Barack Obama)


There has never been a MORE anticipated event!
(At least in my mind anyway.)
The release of More Than He Can Handle.
Feb. 3, 2009!

Stay tuned for your chance to win a signed copy!


Join the Cheris Hodges Book Club today.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Is this still America?

Two stories in the news stand out to me today.
First, there is the transit cop in California who killed an unarmed black man on New Year's Day. It was caught on video tape, but after Rodney King, we all know that doesn't mean shit.
Then there is a story out of Houston:
From CNN.com:
Robbie Tolan sits in a Houston, Texas, hospital bed with a bullet from a police officer's gun lodged in his liver. The son of a famed baseball player was shot in his own driveway.


But how this unarmed 23-year-old and his cousin ended up in the cross-hairs of an officer's gun, suspected of stealing a car, is a question sparking allegations of racial profiling.

"There's no doubt in my mind that if these had been white kids this does not happen," said David Berg, Tolan's attorney.

It was 2 a.m. on December 31 when Tolan and his cousin, Anthony Cooper, were confronted in the driveway of their home by Bellaire, Texas, police officers. Police officials say the officers suspected the two young men were driving a stolen car

Bellaire is a prominent, mostly white suburb in southwest Houston.

So, how does this happen in this post racial country that white folk (Fox News) wants us to believe that we're living in?
Guess what the police chief said:
"Anytime someone is injured we take it very seriously," said Byron Holloway, Assistant Chief of the Bellaire Police Department. "But any allegation of racial profiling, I don't think that's going to float."

The police department is investigating and the district attorney's office in Houston is also looking into whether charges will be filed against the police officer.

The policeman is a white, 10-year veteran of the force whom police say has an excellent record.

I don't know what bullshit smells like, but I know what it sounds like. And Byron Holloway, you are speaking total bullshit. How did cops think the car was stolen? Do you not have computers to run the license plate?
What the fuck are these officers learning in this hick ass Texas town? Shoot the black man?

I don't want to hear that racism is a thing of the past because as this man sits in the hospital, his baseball career possibly over and several health issues that may develop later, he is living (Thank God the redneck didn't kill him) proof that racism is festering in the U.S.A.