A little irony for your Friday

I was tickled when my friend, author Shelia Goss, sent me a link to the bestselling books as reported by Jokae's African-American Bookstore in Dallas, for the Dallas newspaper. A New Kind of Bliss rounded out the five titles. After informing my editor and agent, I promptly forgot about it...until I saw the latest issue of Essence magazine at the Islip, Long Island, airport earlier this week. Jokae's is a contributor to their list of bestselling books, and I thought there was a possibility that I might see my name on that list for the first time (wouldn't that be great!).

Well, I bought a copy, and guess what? After scouring the magazine plus the table of contents, I came to the unhappy conclusion that there is no bestselling list of books for September! I haven't been a regular reader of Essence for quite some time now, but this list has been a staple of their issues for years now. I don't ever remember there not being one.

I then checked their web site, which traditionally has an extended list of the 10 top books in four categories (Hardcover and paperback fiction and nonfiction), only to see that it still has the August listing...and just 5 books at that (not an extended list).

Could I have made the list? There's still time for a September update on the website, even if it was not included in the magazine. But if they don't update their website, I guess I'll never know. Such is life, I suppose.

Have a great weekend!

Reviews are coming in

The reviews from some of the big review sites like RAWSISTAZ and Urban-Reviews are not in yet, but readers and at one major book club are weighing in on Save The Best For Last. Here's some text borrowed directly from Amazon:

"Save The Best For Last is a wonderful book . . . you will not be able to put the book down once you begin reading it." -- Louise Brown

"I enjoyed this book for the suspenseful elements in the story. . . I recommend this book to romance readers and fans of Bettye Griffin. This is a perfect book to read as you wind down from the lazy days of summer." -- Beverly Jackson, APOOO Book Club

"This was a very moving story with a well thought out plot, believable but everyday type characters and enough emotion to keep you turning the pages every minute." -- Charlotte Robinson

Have you ordered your copy yet? Remember, this is not available in stores, but can be ordered from my e-store, from me directly, or from Amazon.com in trade paperback or Kindle format.

Gone Conferencing

I'm still out of town (isn't the Internet wonderful?), but I'm over at SORMAG, participating in the Online Conference. This conference is a wonderful source of information for readers and writers alike, so click here to visit!

We have had gorgeous weather. Hurricane Bill made for some fantastic waves in a beach known for its waves. I'm writing this on the covered patio, and the sun is sparkling off the water of the pool. It's my last day here, and I'm going to make the most of it!

Heading for the Hamptons . . .

. . . sadly, to bury my uncle. It is a sad occasion, but yet a joyous one. Chester E. Morris lived for 88 remarkable years, and he wa loved by many. As my cousin said, we will shed a few tears, but we will also celebrate his life.

I'm taking some time for R&R while I'm up there (it is, after all, the Hamptons). Will be back midweek next week.

Contrition and Redemption . . . and he's still a young man

I saw part of Michael Vick's news conference this morning as he reported for training with his new team, the Philadelphia Eagles.

There's going to be a lot of controversy about his return to the NFL after his horrendous activities came to light. I hope this young man realizes that if he didn't possess a great talent that can help his team make money and win the top prize, he may well not have been given this second chance. He certainly seemed geuninely contrite about his past actions, and equally appreciative of this second chance. I hope he can successfully rebound, and I wish him success ... it's not going to be easy for him, and it will take a strong spirit not to crack under the heckling that is bound to happen from spectators.

I pray Michael Vick will become an upstanding citizen, and I say God bless Tony Dungy for stepping forward to help him.

Have a good weekend, everybody!

My friend(s) Bettye/Bette (and a guest blog, too!)

Those of you who know me know I never did much in terms of online networking, other than my blog and an occasional guest blog or online chat, simply because there were too many of them out there, and there isn't time to do that and write, too. My personal editor, Kim, suggested that I join Facebook for more exposure, which was easy enough where it would only take about ten minutes of my time, so I bit the bullet and set up a profile.

I must say I'm getting a kick out of reconnecting with old friends and fellow authors I haven't seen in a while. But I'm also meeting new people. Anyone who has ever looked for anyone on Facebook is probably aware of how many people out there have the same name, and two of my new friends are Bettye Griffin and Bette Griffen.

Bettye was aware of me, as people have asked her over the years if she's the novelist. Bette learned about me when she noticed there were two more of us out there with the same name and saw I was a writer.

I always knew there was at least one other Bettye Griffin out there; someone is listed on Amazon as having written a book with a copyright back in 1980 (no, I did not write the book Family to Family). But it's really swivvy to learn that there are two more whom I never would have known about otherwise, since we're all in different parts of the country. I'm so pleased to have met both ladies, and you can bet if I ever get to their respective neck of the woods I'll see if we can meet for lunch!

Incidentally, I'm doing a guest blog today about writer obsession (but it's not creepy, I promise) over at Love Is An Exploding Cigar. Please drop by later (it's not yet posted as I write this at 7AM Central Time) and leave a comment for a chance to win an autographed copy of Save The Best For Last!

Honoring Hilton White

Hilton White was the father of my best friend, Kim (not the Kim who edits my books, who is much younger than us). I am so proud to say that a street in the Bronx was named for him this past Saturday, August 1st. (The photo above is of Derrick White holding the newly minted street sign identifying his father's namesake street, Hilton White Way.) Unfortunately, I was unable to get to New York this weekend . . . but I was there in spirit.

Those of you who've read my older books might think that name sounds familiar. With the permission of his family, I named the hero of my second romance, A Love of Her Own, after him.

Here's the text of the article reprinted from The New York Times about a tribute to a wonderful man:

August 3, 2009
More Than Playing Ball on a South Bronx Playground

The small patch of concrete in the South Bronx features slides and swing sets, along with a large fountain where neighborhood youngsters frolic happily through the spray. But the basketball hoops, and the legendary coach and recreational leader who once presided over them, have vanished, part of the ever-changing demographics of this gritty neighborhood.

But every once in a while, some local residents say, the deep baritone of the unforgettable Hilton White can be heard echoing across the old playground, and his muscular, 6-foot-3 frame can be seen stalking the former sideline. For it was here — on a small concrete playground near the intersection of East 163rd Street and Cauldwell Avenue — that the locally renowned community leader and coach taught some of New York City’s greatest 1960s and 1970s basketball players (like the former N.B.A. star Nate Archibald) how to become both outstanding basketball players and responsible adults.

It was also where White, who died at 57 in 1990, put together one of the most successful recreational teams in city history: the famed Bronx Falcons, who became local legends by often winning well-known amateur tournaments, like the Rucker in Harlem.

On Saturday, dozens of White’s protégés, most now in their 50s and 60s, returned to the Bronx from across the United States to pay homage to a man many called their surrogate father. Against a background of thumping soul music and speeches by elected officials, an enthusiastic crowd of about 170 — including roughly 30 members of White’s extended family — beamed as the little fenced-in park was renamed Hilton White Playground and an adjacent street received a new moniker, as well — Hilton White Way.

During White’s decade-long career as the reigning youth basketball coach at tiny Cauldwell Park and Playground in the South Bronx, White taught the fundamentals of the game to hundreds of teenagers — including Willie Worsley, Nevil Shed and Willie Cager, three Bronx youngsters who later gained national fame as starters on the 1966 Texas Western College team. That year, Worsley, Shed and Cager helped lead an all-black starting lineup to an astonishing upset victory against Adolph Rupp’s all-white Kentucky team to win the N.C.A.A. championship.

On his small outdoor lot, White insisted that his young charges learn the value of education, discipline, hard work and respect for others. By combining basketball instruction with fatherly guidance, he helped mold hundreds of teenagers into socially responsible adults. Many went on to become doctors, judges, social workers, educators and coaches.

During the ceremony Saturday, many attendees said they missed White and the other “parkies,” former city recreational workers who had helped to shape their characters. They also lamented that these recreational positions were eliminated in New York during the 1970s by budget cuts.
“What I remember was the sense of excellence he instilled,” said Walter M. Braswell, 59, now an administrative law judge in New Jersey who sometimes sought out White for advice. “He looked you in the eye, and he was a big guy, tough. He was very convincing that you could accomplish whatever you want.”

Braswell, whose son plays basketball at Yale, looked around the park and added: “And the results he got. He told us how good we could be, and then the Falcons went out and were that good. And the kids started getting college scholarships. That’s what I think really woke everyone up in the neighborhood to the fact that, there was a way out.”

Standing near the little park’s iron fence, the former White disciple Robert McDonald described how he ran into the coach in 1987 at an educators’ conference in Washington. There he asked White why he had put so much extra time and effort into working with young people.

“The main thing,” McDonald said, “is he wanted to help our community get more scholarships for the underprivileged kids — he wanted these kids to get a fair shake and he thought education would be their road out. He used basketball as a tool.”

At the renaming festivities Saturday, the players hugged and slapped hands, some of them looking ready to tip off in shorts, T-shirts and shiny high tops, others in slacks and collared shirts. Shed, now 66, stood tall at 6-8 and flashed his chunky, gold N.C.A.A. championship ring on one finger and his diamond-inset Naismith Hall of Fame ring on another, while Archibald, a longtime N.B.A. star, warmly greeted old friends.

Many remembered White’s incredible dedication — how he would follow them home at night to make sure they stayed out of trouble or would call their parents to discuss both basketball victories and potential behavior problems.

Speaking earlier at a Bronx reunion dinner in honor of White, Shed remembered receiving a hug from his old recreation-league mentor at Cole Field House in Maryland, moments after the 1966 victory over Kentucky.

“He was beaming, and I hugged him,” Shed said. “We didn’t have to say thank you to him, because we knew that he was proud of us.”

Then, tears coming to his eyes, he added, “I would say that I’m a child of God, I’m the son of Lillie Mae and James Shed, and I’m a product of Hilton White. He helped make me into a man.”


Urban-Reviews.com Gives A New Kind of Bliss 5 stars!

I saw Jackie at last weekend's Bookfest in Milwaukee and she told me she absolutely loved the book, but I wasn't expecting the Top Shelf rating (I thought it would be a 4, which I'll take at any time!)

Here's what Jackie had to say:

"After Emily's father passed away, she decided to go back to her hometown and her mother. Emily had no time for a personal life due to helping her mother out. That's until she unexpectedly meets Dr. Aaron Merritt. Aaron's a successful physician, very handsome, and a single parent. Aaron showers her with expensive gifts and extravagant dinners, but there's something missing from her relationship with Aaron.

"Emily runs into a guy from junior high that she used to have a huge crush on named Teddy. Teddy doesn't have Aaron's money, but he's the one that can fill the void missing in her relationship with Aaron. What will Emily decide? Will she continue to see Aaron and live in the lap of luxury or will she choose true love?

"Bettye Griffin keeps your interest in A New Kind of Bliss from beginning to end. She intrigues readers with the complications of Emily's life and the decisions she needs to make about her future. I thoroughly enjoyed this book because of the characters in the story. Each character had his or her story to tell and it was told in such great depth that it would peek your interest to find out what would happen next."

A New Kind of Bliss is available from stores and online retailers.