Monday, September 29, 2008

Hold Up, Wait A Minute! A FREE Audio Sample of After The Dance . . .

I guess I started tooting my horn a little too soon (see previous post) because today I discovered the audio version of After The Dance is now available via

The actors (Caroline Clay & Ezra Knight) who read the work do an EXCELLENT job. If you'd like to listen, a FREE audio sample is available HERE. (Just press the listen button and you'll hear both Carl & Faye at no charge).

Now, if you're interested in purchasing the download, Amazon is runing a promotional special for only $29.79!

Wow! I've never been a big fan of audio books, but now that I've heard a sample, you know I can't wait to listen to mine (LOL). Oh, and I absolutely LOVE the cover on the audio version. No, it's not how I picture the characters, but it conveys so much warmth and tenderness. Beautiful! Job well done!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Horn-Tooting Links . . .

The following is a link to an article about me that appeared a couple of Sundays ago in the Charlotte Observer: "SoMeck writer sets appearances." One small correction though, even though I am from Memphis, I relocated to Charlotte from the Cleveland area. I know, it's confusing (smile).

Did you know After The Dance was available on the Kindle reader? See for details.

The audio version of After The Dance recently went on sale. A digital version is available via Griot Audio (an imprint of the Recorded Books Library Site) on something called a Playaway for the tidy sum of $56.75. If that's too rich for your blood, why not ask your local library to make it available for all of your area's library users?

You may still be able to pick up signed copies of After The Dance at the following locations: The Barnes & Noble (The Arboretum Shopping Center, Charlotte, NC); Joseph-Beth BookSellers (SouthPark Mall, Charlotte, NC); Park Road Books (Park Road Shopping Center, Charlotte, NC); The BookMark (Uptown, Charlotte, NC): Joseph-Beth BookSellers (Legacy Village Shopping Center, Lyndhurst, OH); and possibly SeneAfrique in Cleveland, OH.

Actually, at last report there was only one signed copy of After The Dance left at SeneAfrique. But the African arts store is still worth a visit anyway, if you're in the area (smile). Here's a link to a recent Cleveland Plain Dealer interview with one of the owners, Waly Sene.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Hand Selling & Pitch Preferences . . .

What turns you off as a consumer? What type of pitch approach works best for you?

Not long ago, I was in a bookstore browsing in the section set aside for"African American" fiction when one of the bookstore employees walked over and asked if needed help finding anything in particular. When I told her no, I was looking, she made an interesting comment. She said, "You know a lot of this stuff is garbage."

Now, had I not agreed, the conversation might have taken an ugly turn (LOL), but since so much of stuff showing up the "African American" fiction shelves these days makes me grimace and shake my head, she got no argument from me. For the sake of full disclosure, let me just add that I'd also had a successful book-signing in this same bookstore the day before this particular conversation took place.

Anyway, the bookstore employee went on to give me a glowing and detailed review of a book by an African American author that she'd absolutely adored. When I asked the middle-aged White woman what had prompted her to read a novel by an African American author and that had something of an "urban" storyline, she'd laughed and said, she felt a certain obligation as someone in the book business to read beyond and outside the realm of "dead White authors."

I nodded, listened and took note, in part because I'd heard/read good things about this same author's work elsewhere. Even though on that particular day, I ended up purchasing a different title, I won't soon forget the bookstore employee's enthusiastic sales pitch and I'm sure at some point, I will check out the novel she recommended.

A number of things generally play into my decision to buy or not buy a book. At the top of my list are factors like recommendations, reviews and excerpts. I pay particular attention to the recommendations of folks whose reading taste are similar to mine. If I keep hearing about a book or seeing mentions of it everywhere, I'll typically go online and take a look at some of the reviews written by both customers and bonafide book critics. If I've never read the author's work before, I generally make an attempt to read an excerpt before I make a final decision.

The bookseller's approach worked well for me because she soft-pedaled her pitch and made an effort to both ascertain my tastes and engage me in polite conversation. What doesn't work so well for me is the hard-sell or what I've come to view as the "hustle man" approach.

Pitch turn-offs for me, include the following:

Shoving a book in my face or hands and saying something along the lines of this, "This here is the bomb! You really do need to buy/ read/check this out today!;

Hounding me, chasing me, or following me around with a book while I'm browsing in a bookstore, at a festival or while I'm out in the grocery store parking lot;

Questioning my intelligence, racial solidarity, spiritual integrity, sanity, willingness to help a brother or sister out, etc.;

Bombarding me with notices (email, snail, etc.) about your latest book, literary endeavor and/or accomplishment, but never attempting to engage me otherwise. I mean, an email just to say hello, how ya doing or a comment on my blog every now and then wouldn't hurt;

Turning up at somebody else's event, uninvited, for the specific purpose of hustling me and the other guests with your literary wares;

Authors who under the guise of marketing and promotion-- boast, brag and otherwise act like they're the best thing to hit the scene since barbecued beans and chicken wings.

I do understand and appreciate that some of the items on my "turn-off" list don't bother others. We're all different and that's a beauty thing (smile). I'm also certain that to some my comments will mark me as a snob or some kind of an elitist. Oh well . . . go ahead and hate me for thinking books deserve better than to be hawked like crack, stolen sneakers or bootleg dvds (LOL). Really, all I'm doing is sharing my preferences and trying to get a better sense for how others go about making that decision to fork over their hard-earned dollars for a book. What say you?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Warrensville, OH Public Library Pics . . . From The Reading & Discussion of After The Dance

Yeah, I know, this event took place way back in July and I'm just now getting around to posting the pics! What? Can't a sister be busy? Anyway, my son took most of these pictures and I think he did a fairly decent job.

I truly enjoyed my visit to the Warrensville Public Library. Not only did I finally get to meet Emanuel Carpenter of Thumper's Corner (AALBC) fame, but I was also treated to my first real taste of in-the-flesh feedback. It's simultaneously an odd, humbling and heady experience when folks you don't know show up at one of your events in order to express their praise and appreciation of your work.

Again, I'd like to thank Elayne Jackson for insisting that I visit the branch and for making it all happen. Also, my hat goes off to Mr. Carpenter who drove all the way from Westlake in order to assist me with a reading of After The Dance. Not only is Emanuel an excellent writer, he is an all around cool and level-headed guy. He's been toiling in the background for a few years now, but I have no doubt that he's destined to make a BIG SPLASH on the literary scene one day soon.

Lori & Emanuel
Giving Voice to "Carl & Faye"
At The Warrensville, OH Public Library
From Lori's Picture Collection
July 2008
Emanuel Carpenter & Lori Johnson
at the Warrensville, OH Public Library
From Lori's Picture Collection
July 2008
Lori Chatting With A New Fan
At The Warrensville Public Library
From Lori's Picture Collection
July 2008
A Reader Shares Her Opinion
at the Warrensville, OH Public Library
From Lori's Picture Collection
July 2008
Lori With Library Staff Memebers (Elayne & Aaron)
at the Warrensville, OH Public Library
From Lori's Picture Collection
July 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #26 . . . Last 13 Books I've Read . . .

There just isn't the time to read as much as I'd like or even as much as I did only a couple of years ago. These days I'm too busy writing, marketing or skimming other things (like magazines, newspapers or blogs) to even garner the energy it takes to hunker down with a good book. As painful as it is to admit, sometimes I'll go for weeks, without reading a single book and typically, I don't even finish half of the books I start.

But as the following list suggests, when I do find the time and the engery, I'm very much an eclectic reader. Even though I lean decidedly toward literary fiction, I'm pretty open to some of everything. If you'll look closely, you'll find on my list books by women, men, African Americans, Canadians, dead authors, etc. You will also find a bit of poetry, a couple of essay collections, a mystery, a childrens' book and a love story, penned by none other than yours truly (smile).

While visiting Cleveland in July, I met a young Black woman who'd only recently started reading books that weren't written by African Americans. She said when she'd bring home the non-African American titles, some of her friends & family members would tease her about her reading selections. My jaw dropped when I heard that. The thought that anyone might actually limit themselves to a certain type of book, based on someone else's opinion astounds me. Why limit yourself or care. The world is full of all kinds of books. When it comes to reading, just like eating, the joy for me is sampling a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

Anyway, the following list is in no particular order, but I believe it's a fairly accurate accounting of the books I've read (from cover to cover) over the past year or so.

1) Trading Dreams At Midnight (Diane McKinney Whetstone)

2) Savoring The Salt: The Legacy of Toni Cade Bambara (Linda J. Holmes & Cheryl Wall, editors)

3) Family Bible (Melissa J. Delbridge)

4) I Wish I Had A Red Dress (Pearl Cleage)

5) Diary of A Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (Jeff Kinney)

6) No Time To Die (Grace F. Edwards)

7) The Last Days of Dogtown (Anita Diamant)

8) Wise Blood (Flannery O'Connor)

9) Moral Disorder: And Other Stories (Margaret Atwood)

10) After The Dance (Lori Johnson)

11) Weather Central (Ted Kooser)

12) D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths (Ingri & Edgar Parin d'Aulaire)

13) Deep Sightings and Rescue Missions: Fiction, Essays and Conversations (Toni Cade Bambara)

What was the last book you read? Have you read any of the titles on my list?

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here! The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Birthdays . . . Who Has One On The Same Day As Yours?

While listening to the radio this morning, I learned that the following three individuals were all born on September 13: Tavis Smiley, Tyler Perry and Iyanla Vanzant. Interesting, huh? Well, it is to me, particularly because my father also celebrates a birthday on September 13 and he shares quite a few of the personality traits & quirks (both good & bad) of the three aformentioned celebrities (smile).

I have a birthday in September as well. No, not on the 13th, even though my Mom says she was hoping to have me on that day, if only so she could give me to my Dad as a gift he wouldn't soon forget. But I guess the Muse-Maker had a slightly different plan because my entry into the land of the living didn't come until 10 days later, on September 23rd.

I'm honored to share a birthday with none other than John Coltrane. As I've mentioned, more than once in the OSM, thanks to my Dad, I grew up listening to 'Trane's music. Long before I knew we shared a birthday, I had an interest in him and his work. Based on what I've read, I'd dare say Mr. Coltrane and I have a number of things in common--though, none of which, besides our love for music, I'm fixing to share here with you today (LOL).

But what about you? Do you share a birthday with someone well-known, whether famous or infamous? If so, do you think you have anything in common with that person? Do tell.