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Viqi_french
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Username: Viqi_french

Post Number: 7
Registered: 07-2005

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Posted on Tuesday, July 19, 2005 - 07:42 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Welcome! Please scroll all the way down to read excerpts from the first two chapters of my forthcoming book, "Daddy's Gonna Buy That Baby a Jaguar." I'm really interested in reading your feedback.

The book is in the Humor Memoir genre, with a subtitle of: A Suspenseful Life with an UpROARious Bite. (The book starts with childhood ghost-type stories, goes into a young sexual discovery "bust", into the P-Funk party days, and ends after college in Philly, with MOVE, a kind of Black Power movement that I sympathized with.)

But there only 2 excerpts here. My main question is, Is this first chapter compelling enough to really be the first? (So-long Seal-skin Kid) Or should I start with the 2nd essay you'll see? (Haints-R-Us)

For more info, visit ViqiFrench.com

application/octet-stream
Jaguar in word to Derek.doc (295.9 k)


So Long, Seal-Skin Kid


Daddy was buried on a deep-fried, summer day in Little Rock. Mama and I had come from St. Louis for the funeral. So had Daddy’s poor, cancer-riddled body. Mama and I stayed at Aunt Minnie’s leaning, white house near the woods. Daddy did, too?

Turns out it was custom among southern families in the sixties to keep the dearly departed very near. For my father’s long, lifeless body rested right in Aunt Minnie’s crammed living room, in a white casket as sleek as a limousine. This had allowed his friends to visit the day before, gaze lovingly at him a while, and then sit on the crunchy, slip-covered sofa and reminisce about the good times. As if keeping Daddy company and he’d remember that time, too. And when he did, he'd stop joking -- maybe bolt right up and grin!

Eventually the mournful visitors would have a bite to eat – and they’d perk right up. Kitchens and dining rooms are often the hubs of Black family life. Particularly in the event of death, cooking and eating reach obsessive proportions. Good food seems to make a “home going” great. And it was determined that my father deserved no less than a great celebration of his zestful life.

He’d been a vibrant man, gregarious and playful. He loved chasing me around our backyard, through the colossal peony bushes, pretending he couldn’t catch me. I’d screech with glee while he watched me, his “Little Poupee” – which Mama had said meant “doll” in French.

So I was Daddy’s little doll – his toy? Well, I sure came alive under his spell!

But there was little laughter now. Several relatives who’d traveled by train with us to Little Rock stayed at Aunt Minnie’s, too. Feisty Aunt Willow, a sassy, bottled redhead who loved a good party; old Aunt Gerta, who baby-sat me back home; and Uncle Earl with the Bozo-like Afro. I was the only child in the house, the only one my parents had adequate time together to produce, before Daddy became ill.

We were getting down to the wire. In about three hours, we were due at the church for the funeral. My mother had gotten me dressed and out of the way early. The adults were now preoccupied, moving things absently along despite the pall of grief surrounding us. The aunts were in the kitchen, brusquely scaling fish or kneading biscuit dough for our pre-funeral breakfast. And Uncle Earl was in the bathroom, getting a jump on grooming his scruffy Afro before the women chased him out.

But no one was in the living room – no one but Daddy. And me, decked out in my snow-white funeral frock with my hair braided and tied with tiny bows. With absolutely nothing to do... Here, things were still and dim, washed in the glow of a lamp beneath an immense beige shade. Little more stirred around Daddy and me than the wind, rustling the sleepy trees outside.

I gazed across the room at his glistening vessel, which was elevated on a wheeled brass cart. It was quite a shrine, surrounded by elegant gladiolas reminding me of swans and huge floral wreaths wrapped tight with red ribbon. The casket was open; its inner lid boasted an intricate, tufted satin lining. From this awkward vantage point, I could see no more than the jutting tip of my father’s nose… The nose that had always given this little girl warm Eskimo kisses.

“Do it now!” a tiny voice in my four-year-old mind urged. “Do it now…”

After weighing the risk, checking that the coast was clear, I mustered the courage. I tiptoed closer, trekking across the wooden floor as if Daddy and I were already in church.

On reaching my destination, I stood on the toes of my patent leather shoes and peeked inside...



__________________________________________________

Haints-R-Us


Most people swore by them, but I could never get the Ouija boards to work. I’d asked one once what size shoe Barbie wore. After long and stealthy deliberation, the answer doohickey shook under our fingers, jerked over and said she wore a “YES.” Ten minutes it had taken to get this breaking news! So Ouijas looked impressive and all, but whoever was behind them obviously didn’t know much more than I did.

Now this Mississippi gizmo might be quiet as a Ouija, but my mouse-eared cousin Darwin swore it knew a heck of a lot more. “It’s lack it’s alive!” he’d sworn last summer. And this was good enough for me.

“It’s in the stow uptown,” he’d added, providing me helpful direction. “It kin an-suh any querstion you ass it.”

And at six, I had lots of them. He could probably tell by the frenzy that must have shone in my eyes. “Really?! Any question? Could I make it talk to God? And actually get some answers?”

“Yup,” Darwin said, smirking like a little Cheshire Cat. “Now, don’t ass me the name of it. We jus’ call it The Toy.”

Clearly, like the Ouija, this gizmo was beyond the realm of ordinary. This sounded like a revolutionary, new machine of some sort; I couldn’t believe that Darwin didn’t already have one! If I could find it, I’d be the unique owner of omniscient brainpower for the rest of my life -- I’d have The Wizard of Oz in a box!

My voice trembled when I spoke. “But you don’t know what it’s called… Well, what color is it and which aisle is it in? And can it – ”

“Gull, you show gotta lotta querstions all right,” he interrupted, squinting at his inquisitive city-cousin. “Just ass the lady at the sales cow-nah up thare. She-a show you whir it’s at.”

I wasn’t pleased with Darwin’s inability to provide me specifics, but that’s how things were in this sleepy place called Lambert, my mother's no-stoplight hometown. But they sure woke up here whenever the conversation turned to "haints." That's what they called ghosts. Apparently, the place was swarming with them...

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Viqi_french
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Username: Viqi_french

Post Number: 8
Registered: 07-2005

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Posted on Tuesday, July 19, 2005 - 07:45 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Oops! Thought my book cover "jaguar" image would show up, but it didn't. Ignore that little mid-section. :-)
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Roxie
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Post Number: 63
Registered: 06-2005

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Posted on Wednesday, July 20, 2005 - 08:12 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I "think" we have a best seller here!
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Viqi_french
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Posted on Thursday, July 21, 2005 - 05:16 am:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hi Roxie,

Thanks so much for the vote of confidence! Your words mean more than you'll ever know. I've paid BookSurge.com to self-publish this, but have been hemming and hawing and changing "The" to "the" before actually submitting it. Waiting for everybody I know to try to read some of it and tell me what needs fixing.

I guess it's time to get off the pot. Your feedback seems like a whisper from God, to just let it go -- it will be all right!

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Roxie
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Posted on Thursday, July 21, 2005 - 11:32 am:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

--Waiting for everybody I know to try to read some of it and tell me what needs fixing.--

Ignore those people. If they don't like what's in the story they can write their own.
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Cynnique
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Posted on Thursday, July 21, 2005 - 04:59 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

From what I've read you have a whimsical approach to humor, which is a plus. You do, however, need to correct some of your punctuation.
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Slow Poke
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Posted on Thursday, July 21, 2005 - 05:09 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Sorry girls, I'm not really feeling it.

Doesn't mean many others won't though. Good luck Vicki.

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Roxie
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Posted on Friday, July 22, 2005 - 08:35 am:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

"It's Slowpoke's Opinion. ONE person's Opinion.It won't end my career. I won't end my dream. If Kola can do So can I."

Just keep saying that to yourself Viqi.
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Viqi_french
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Posted on Friday, July 22, 2005 - 10:43 am:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Cynnique,

Thanks so much for your positive feedback!

I do wonder, though, what punctuation errors you've picked up on. I've had two different editors on the manuscript, although I have tweaked a tad afterwards.

If you can, please let me know so I can fix (if necessary).

Thanks!

Viqi
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Viqi_french
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Posted on Friday, July 22, 2005 - 10:50 am:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hi Slow Poke,

Congratulations! You're the first to say you weren't at all feeling this! lol

Of course, I never expected the whole Rhythm Nation to fall in love with it, so it's quite okay. Really, I'm just glad you came in here and read it, and left your message.

Hearing more about why it left you cold, though, probably could be VERY helpful to me -- especially from a marketing perspective. So please:

1. Let me know why you didn't feel it.

2. Tell me what kind of work floats your boat.

Thanks so much,

Viqi French

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Viqi_french
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Posted on Friday, July 22, 2005 - 11:00 am:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Okay Ms. Roxie :-) Good advice about not getting too hung up on my friends' opinions.

Girl, it's just AMAZING how everybody in the world sees/feels something different regarding the exact same words and sentences! Seriously, one childhood friend let her older sister read one of my stories, and she loved it.

But DANG, she got deeply stressed about this one word I used three times in the story. Cause I thought I'd latched onto a funny "hook" and wanted to keep bringing readers back to it. She clearly didn't see it that way and asked if my Thesaurus was broke! lol

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Viqi_french
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Posted on Friday, July 22, 2005 - 11:23 am:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Now here's a $64m question...

Years ago, I started off writing a manuscript in the suspense genre. (Inspired by Tananarive Due's excellent work.)

My current manuscript, "Daddy's Gonna Buy That Baby a Jaguar," marries my love of suspense writing with humor, which certain folks think I handle well so "twisted my arm" to try.

Question is, Would it be too weird to throw a chapter from my "real" suspense manuscript into the back of my "suspense/humor" book? (To promote my next book in 2006.)

The suspense chapter ain't funny (or at least I don't MEAN it to be!!). It deals with vodoo in the Hip Hop industry, and has an international flavor (NY/Haiti/Paris).

In "Daddy's Gonna," I have a couple of Old Skool ghost stories, reference The Exorcist, etc. -- but all with a funny twist and from a yesteryear perspective. Does a "real" suspense bonus chapter set in today's hip hop world seem sound like a dumb or smart idea?

Have you all seen bonus chapters that don't necessarily tie to the original book you just read?

Thank yawl!

Viqi French
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Cynnique
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Posted on Friday, July 22, 2005 - 11:49 am:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

You need to remember that the possessive of the word "it" is "its"; no apostrophe. The contraction for the phrase "it is" is "it's" - and calls for an apostrophe. This is a common error, and hard to catch but it was the first thing I noticed in your sample excerpt. As I said, your humor was a little whimsical, but I think the reason some might have a problem with your work is because you are trying too hard to be funny and this makes your style heavy-handed.
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Cynnique
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Posted on Friday, July 22, 2005 - 11:59 am:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Strike the punctuation heads-up I just offered. I had reference to the original excerpt you provided a link for. I see the errors have been corrected in the latest version you just posted on the board. Sorry.
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viqi french
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Posted on Friday, July 22, 2005 - 02:31 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Cynnique,

No problem: you stand corrected. :-)

Fyi, The Web site builder I'm using... When you cut and past Word manuscript sections to create excerpts, it doesn't recognize several punctuation marks.

So I'm just learning that my stuff can be scrambled in different ways on the site, and I'd not have a clue about it. I went to work on it earlier this week and was HORRIFIED!! None of my paragraph returns had "stayed put," commas had vanished, apostrophes. Huh? What's that? (Believe me, I very well know the difference between "its" and "it's".)


Normally, I forewarn people that my site is still under development. (My goal is to polish the site in time for book's online debut in late August.) Guess I should have indicated "Site Under Development" here, too. lol

Thanks for checking, and thanks for explaining why you thought there were punctuation errors in the above excerpt on aalbc.com.

Viqi
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Roxie
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Posted on Friday, July 22, 2005 - 08:37 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

---I do wonder, though, what punctuation errors you've picked up on. I've had two different editors on the manuscript, although I have tweaked a tad afterwards.

If you can, please let me know so I can fix (if necessary). ---


I am learning to professionally write myself, so to tell another what to improve when my own work gets covered in the notorious red pen is a bit hypocritical IMO.
I can help you with grammar, but I'm sure you have Spell Check. :-)
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Viqi_french
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Posted on Saturday, July 23, 2005 - 03:52 am:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Well, Roxie, I'll just say that I appreciated Cynnique's apology and explanation about there being punctuation errors in the above excerpts.

She hadn't read the above excerpts at all, was commenting on excerpts from my Web site, where my latest changes hadn't properly been saved.

I suppose there are plenty of writers who'd need someone to break down the difference between "its" and "it's" so presumptively. I would not be one of them, but sure could use her Web programming help!
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Cynnique
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Posted on Saturday, July 23, 2005 - 11:41 am:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

No writer is immune to mistakes. That's why publishing houses employ proof-readers and editors. A gifted writer is not someone who uses perfect grammar and punctuation but one who can engage the reader with his or her story-telling. Humor is one of the hardest genres to tackle, vigi, because as Slow Poke proved, one person's smile is another one's frown. They say "brevity is the soul of wit", and I've alway thought that humor should flow effortlessly. But there are styles of humor within the genre. Some people are natural comedians and can successfully transfer their humor to paper. Other's have to construct their humor in the process of writing. Obviously, whatever works is what makes the grade. As for injecting a serious chapter in your book of comedy, who knows? I've heard of "comic relief" but never "solemm relief". But, there is something to be said for a change of pace.

Roxie, I know where you're coming from. Actually, anybody can call attention to punctuation errors. It takes a more accomplished person to critique a work.
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Slow Poke
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Posted on Saturday, July 23, 2005 - 01:33 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Well said Cynique.

Vicki--don't mind me. Humorous memoirs are just not my cup of tea.

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Viqi_french
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Posted on Saturday, July 23, 2005 - 05:14 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Cynnique wrote:
"Humor is one of the hardest genres to tackle, vigi, because as Slow Poke proved, one person's smile is another one's frown."


Fyi... It's "Viqi." Good case in your point about everyone's occasional typo, and that "anyone" can/should point them out.

(I'm a PR/Marketing professional by day, so branding the unique spelling of my name [correctly] is something I pay attention to.)
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Cynnique
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Posted on Saturday, July 23, 2005 - 07:13 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I am very bad with names as anyone who frequents this board can attest to. 'Must've been thinking about my ex-boyfriend, Viggo, when I called you "vigi", "viqi". heh-heh. Am I conjugating a Latin verb, or what?

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