Coming in Just 7 Days

The mass market edition of Nothing But Trouble is coming to a bookstore near you on Tuesday, October 7th. I've been so busy with rejoicing the completion of A New Kind of Bliss that this one kind of snuck up on me. When I got home from work yesterday to find a carton of author's copies on my front porch, I realized I'd better get busy letting folks know.

Here, therefore, are some hastily compiled reviews from the trade paperback edition of this book, which was published in 2006 (only the good ones, of course):

"A compelling read." -- Booklist

"It is a good choice for bookclubs because it invites plenty of discussion. Nothing But Trouble is a good read for the modern woman." -- APOOO

"Bettye Griffin has become one of my favorite authors starting with "The People Next Door" and now, "Nothing But Trouble." -- People Who Love Good Books

"Griffin provides a very thorough look into each character's situation that vividly portrays their emotions and thoughts. The book was very well written." -- RAWSISTAZ

"I truly enjoyed this story. It was almost like reading about people that you are friends with or that you work with. I recommend this book for any avid reader." -- a reader

So if you haven't read Nothing But Trouble, do plan on picking up a copy of the mass market edition, which will fit nicely in your purse!


I'm Bettye Griffin, and I approved this message . . . .

Carrying On

Wow, what a weekend. First, Paul Newman dies, which was sad, if not shocking (one of his close friends recently told the press that the actor only had a few more weeks to live). Then, the debate. I'm glad that Barack didn't slouch out on foreign policy, but I do think he was a bit of a punk. I understand he doesn't want to be perceived as an Angry Black Man, but come on! I wanted to jump into the TV screen myself and punch the smug of McCain's face. Patronizing bastard. Would it really have been so bad if Barack prefaced one of his answers with, "No, John, you don't understand." ?

The news that came as the biggest shock to me this weekend was the passing of Marpessa Dawn. (I know, you're saying, Who?) Just the other week I blogged about the death of Breno Mello, the male lead in the classic French-filmed tale of doomed lovers Black Orpheus. Marpessa was his leading lady. Remarkably, they passed away within 41 days of each other. If you've seen the movie, you'll know the significance of this.

Ms. Dawn, whose good looks remind me of a younger Phylicia Rashad, was of black and Filipino heritage and although she sprouted Portuguese like a native in the movie, she was born in, of all the unglamorous places, Pittsburgh. She spent most of her life in Europe and in fact died at her home in Paris from an apparent heart attack at age 74.

She did slightly more acting that her leading man, mostly in France, and appeared as herself in a production as recently as 2005. She and Breno Mello likely never even saw each other again after completing the French-produced film (he was a native of Brazil and lived there all his life, while she returned to France), but they are immortalized forever on the screen as Orpheus and Eurydice. Black Orpheus was the first movie featuring love between a black man and woman I'd ever seen, and it will always be special to me.

The Week That Was (the debate that wasn't?)

I know I've said this before, but it bears repeating. One of the nicest things about being a writer is the people I get to meet, either in person at an event like the Romance Slam Jam, or simply on the Internet. I can't say I've had overwhelming success with book clubs - a good number of them have ignored my invitations to provide them with review copies - but one whom I've forged a nice relationship with is the Cozy Corner of Elegance Book Club in the Huntsville, Alabama, area. They have just unveiled their web site. Stop on by and say hello to club president Renee Booker and the rest of the ladies! (Be sure to tell 'em Bettye sent you!).

One of the things on my to-do list in this brief period of free time between contract obligations (I've given myself the date of December 2nd - the 1st is my anniversary - to start work on my 2010 book, a sequel to The People Next Door) is to see what I can do with some incomplete story ideas that have been floating around since before the presidential candidates declared their intent to run, in other words, a long, long time. I'm going to try my hand at storyboarding. Maybe that will unleash those missing ingredients.

Speaking of ingredients, it's time to resume Pick Your Favorite, your choice of two versions of the same song. I'm gonna go waaaaay back this week. When I first heard this lovely song by the Main Ingredient, I had no idea it was a cover of a song penned by the late, great talent Curtis Mayfield and recorded by his group, The Impressions, back around 1961.

The Impressions

I love both versions, but the one by the Main Ingredient is just so dreamy and romantic, I'll have to give that one the edge. (Incidentally, even though the accompanying visuals on You Tube show Cuba Gooding, Sr., he was not the lead singer on this song and not even a member of the group at the time it was recorded. Donald McPherson was the original lead singer of The Main Ingredient. Tragically, he became ill with leukemia and died soon afterward, barely 30 and having recorded just three R&B hits with the group. What a lovely voice he had. (If anybody's keeping score, group member Tony Silvestri (the fair-skinned brother), passed away from multiple myeloma in 2006.)

The Main Ingredient (with the late Donald McPherson on lead vocals)

So share with us, which of these two versions do you enjoy the most, and why?

I'll be parked in front of the TV tonight, watching Barack Obama debate . . . (himself? an empty chair? Or will McCain show up at the last minute, like somebody's white damn knight?). And I hope to heaven that people recognize John McCain's grandstanding for what it is.

Have a great weekend!

Free at last

The best part of writing a book is, by far, finishing the damn thing. I have been eating, driving, sleeping, showering, ironing, vacuuming, and everything else, this book for the last two weeks. I sat down at the computer Friday night and barely got up until 9:30 this morning, when I emailed it to my editor and agent. Is it any wonder I feel like a hostage who's just been freed?

My work-in-progress is now a bona fide manuscript. Now that it's done, I'll tell you a little about it.

What would you do if you (presuming you're in the market) met a man who was successful, wealthy, handsome, considerate, a true gentleman, and who was crazy about you? The absolute perfect man . . . in every way but one? And if his one imperfection was, well, the stuff romance novels heroes are always so great at? (I call this my anti-romance; the idea came to me by playing the traditional writer's game of What If . . .?)

The name of the book is (drum roll, please) . . . A New Kind of Bliss. It'll be published by Kensington's Dafina imprint and will be at a bookstore near you in May 2009. More info will be following in the months ahead.

So what will I be up to now that this manuscript is finished? Not a blessed thing. At least for the next couple of days . . . .

And the Emmy goes to . . .

No, I'm not goofing off. I'm working diligently and have been all weekend. (Now I know why I was such a washout at trying to write full time . . . I'd honestly rather be curled up with a good book right about now. Even doing some ironing has its appeal after being planted in front of a laptop or a desktop for eight hours a day.) I took one break, last night, to watch American Gangster on HBO with my husband. If it weren't for the deck I'da been inside the house from the time I got in Friday afternoon. And if it weren't for Bernard cooking breakfast and tonight's and Friday's dinner (I took over last night,) we would have starved. What a prize. I think I'll keep him.

One more day to go!

I do have the TV on while I'm working, watching the Emmys, and I've noticed something that's always bothered me about the Emmys and the Oscars as well. Why do they always give out awards to the male actors before the females? Have they ever heard of the expression, "Ladies first?"

Any ideas?

Yes, I'm Still Alive

. . . and in the home stretch. I'll be back when I'm done, which will be early next week . . . because at this point I have no damn choice.

Happy Friday, everybody!

Please send prayers for the people of Galveston Island and other areas near the East Texas coastline as Hurricane Ike prepares to bear down. It's a frightening graphic being shown in those weather reports; Ike's circumference seems to be as wide as entire the Gulf of Mexico. Here in Wisconsin they are already writing off the fall tourism season, because all that rain is going to get up here eventually. (We're gettng the remnants of Gustav right now.)

If you're in an area of the country that allows for more frivilous activity, you might want to consider going to the movies this weekend. A couple of good ones are opening today: The Family That Preys, Tyler Perry's newest; Righteous Kill, featuring acting giants Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino (I'm betting DeNiro gets top billing, but I can be wrong); and the one I'm most excited about, the long-awaited remake of the 1939 classic The Women, based on the play by Clare Boothe Luce.

The original play itself (no, I wasn't around for the original production in 1936, but I saw a filmed version of a revival on PBS a few years back; I'm old but not that old) was much racier than the film version, and this new version brings the story into the present day. I'm curious to see what they did with it. The cast sounds wonderful - you can always count on Bette Midler to liven things up - and includes a couple of sistahs (Jada Pinkett Smith and the too-seldom-seen-these-days Lynn Whitfield).

I'm also eager to see the cleverly titled The Family That Preys as well. All of the Tyler Perry movies I've seen (and I haven't seen them all) haven't thrilled me, but he's clearly getting better budgets and bigger stars (both Kathy Bates, of this film, and Angela Bassett, who starred in his previous outing, have "Academy Award" attached to their names as winner and nominee, respectively) and is moving away from the all-rich-white-collar-men-are-evil theme. As for the Madea character, the best thing I can say about her (?) is that a little bit goes a long way. Tyler Perry is like Fort Knox on legs, but the black media is urging people to go see his new film this weekend, because in this business it apparently isn't good enough to create movie after movie that all make money, both in ticket sales and in video rentals and sales, both domestically and internationally, without a single bomb in the bunch . . . you've got to be #1 (sounds a lot like the book business, but that's a column for another day). So go see the movie if you can.

Unfortunately, I'm doubting I'll be able to get to the theater this weekend. We're entertaining tomorrow (I thought I'd be done with my manuscript by now, which is why I approved this date). The rest of my weekend will go toward my overdue manuscript. I will say I'm pleased with my progress of the last one-third of the story. My goal is to get it at least a few days earlier than the date I've been given. My editor's been so nice about this; I don't think there's anything fun about rearranging a set production schedule (twice).

I'll conclude this column by addressing Michael Jackson's dirty drawers - complete with skid marks, it's been said - being auctioned off on E-Bay with an opening bid of $1 and also those rumors that Paul McCartney, fresh off a nasty divorce from Heather Mills, is about to marry for a third time. To the ultimate purchaser of Michael's underwear and to Sir Paul (if the rumors are true) I'd like to say this: There's no fool like an rich fool, or an old fool, or a rich old fool.

I'm outta here!

September 11th

Seven years ago today we lost over three thousand citizens, not due to an act of nature, but to a man-made carnage . . . something that did not have to happen if it were not for the wishes of people to shatter lives and innocence just for the sake of evil. We honor their memories.

There was also good news in our family on this date. Two years ago today we became grandparents. I was late sending off the card and check, but since she's only 2 she probably still doesn't get this birthday thing (but next year it'll probably be, "Where's my card from Papa and Grandma Bettye?"

This is my favorite (to date) photo of that sweet bundle with her Papa, taken when they visited us back in June (they also visited us Labor Day weekend). So Happy Birthday, Baby Girl! Grandma Bettye loves you.

Or Would She Rather Be a Pit Bull?

Enough of this foolishness. Get on with the important stuffm for crying out loud.

Remembering Breno Mello

I know. You're saying, "Who?"

Breno Mello was a Brazilian man discovered on the beach and offered the part of Orpheus in the classic film Black Orpheus (1959). Sadly, it was announced this week that he'd been found dead from an apparent heart attack at his home back in July. He was 76 years old.

For film lovers like myself, he will forever be young, sexy, and handsome. Just looking at his picture makes me want to sit down and pen a romance. If you've never seen this classic (it's in Portuguese but has English subtitles), you've missed out. Breno Mello only made a handful of pictures between making a living - apparently the market for black actors in Brazil is even worse than it is here in the States - but his first performance and possibly only one as a star of a picture has made him immortal. Here's the trailer:

Okay, back to my cave now.
Gettin' Snarky With It

How's your WIP?

So asks my friend Patricia Woodside at her blog. My answer: Gorgeous . . . at least the first 200 or so (manuscript) pages. After that the tone changed from a snarky chick lit to a more sedate women's fiction, which is the literary equivalent of painting one wall orange and the other fuscia in the same room. Either way you look at it, it's not going to work.

Unfortunately, I did not come to this realization until the weekend, less than 48 hours from the time I was due to turn it in . . . and this was the extension I'd been granted. Nothing like starting the week with a crisis. Thank God for agents. In addition to getting good deals, they also jump in and handle the dirty work, like telling editors the last thing they want to hear.

So excuse me while I work to meet extension deadline #2.

I've got a feeling that this book is going to be dedicated to my editor.