Before Starbucks: Remembering the Late-Nineties Independent Coffeeshop

Starbucks may have been founded in the 1970s, but it didn’t make its way around Michigan until the early 2000s. Before that, the quirky local independent coffeeshop was the only game in town.

Here’s a little taste of the long-gone coffeeshops that fueled my late teen years in the late Nineties.

Writing Across the Color Line

Last week I did an interview for a couple publications that will be coming out around the time We Hope for Better Things comes out to help spread the word about it. One of the questions the writer asked me is one I expect I will get a lot as people begin to encounter the book:

What did you, a white woman, do to ensure your black characters were authentic?

In answer to that question, I talked about my minor in US History in college and my year of extensive research into the black experience in America before I put pen to paper.

After that, I told her about Nancy, Mary, Debra, and Booker.

At various stages of the writing and revising of the manuscript that would become We Hope for Better Things, I asked black friends and writers to read and critique it, looking specifically for issues with black speech and characterization. Looking for anything that didn’t feel authentic to them, or that smacked of misinformation or stereotype.

Waiting for their critiques was sometimes nerve-wracking, especially since some of them were personal friends, not just other writers.

Today I’m with Nancy Johnson (who is now my critique partner) over on Writer Unboxed talking about how we’ve worked with each other to bring out the best in our writing, specifically how we’ve approached questions of race in our writing.

If you’re a writer who wants to populate your stories with a diverse cast of characters but you’re worried about getting something wrong or unintentionally offending someone, come join the conversation!

If you’re a reader who wonders how writers do what they do, come read about it!

NaNoWriMo Success, a Goodreads Giveaway, and the Return of #Debut19Chat

The past week has been busy in a good way.

I topped 50,000 words in my newest novel manuscript and won National Novel Writing Month for the second time (the result of the first time will actually be my second novel, coming out in September, and which has a shiny new title I can’t wait to share with you).

I finished up several PR items my publicist needed in order to spread the word about We Hope for Better Things.

I actually did my very first interview with a writer for a magazine!

I made much progress on an advance reader copy of The Patricide of George Benjamin Hill by James Charlesworth, another author who will debut in 2019.

dusted. I actually dusted.

I decorated for Christmas.

I did some laundry (finally).

I prepped food for a church potluck.

I started my Advent reading, Wrapped in Grace by Deana Lynn Rogers.

And #Debut19Chat is running again on Twitter, with new questions and answers to get to know 2019 debut authors and their projects.

Now I sit back a moment and consider the reality that 2018 is racing to a close and I have a very busy year ahead of me, in which I have two books coming out (one in just a month!), two books in the process of writing and revising, and I’m directing my beloved WFWA writing retreat.

If you want to keep up with what I’m doing, including my book launch events, speaking and workshops, my podcast, and more, you can get my newsletter in your email inbox by subscribing here.

If you want to enter to win one of ten free copies of We Hope for Better Things, you can enter the Goodreads Giveaway here!

And if you want to listen to me riff about the cute online animal videos I would have attempted to make as a child had the technology been available to me, click here to listen to the latest Your Face Is Crooked podcast episode. Or click the graphic below, which is my husband communing with a goat.