Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Dancing With Murphy's Law

Apologies for not having a Monday Blog. Lightning took out our phone lines and internet over the weekend. No Internet.

  • "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong." Murphy's Law

    I'm pleased to have the indomitable Francis Ray as guest today. The New York Times bestselling author writes multicultural romance and women's fiction.

    My first introduction to Francis was the anthology, Living Large. I loved Monica's story, STRICTLY BUSINESS. To be honest, I enjoyed the work of all four authors so much I sought out other stories by them.

    What impressed me about Francis Ray's stories is the sense of humor and well developed characters. Another thing I like about her stories is her strong, successful women, who are sassy, fun, and confident. She's a wonderful storyteller and I love the way she makes her characters work for their happiness. No pat HEA for her.

  • I recently finished IT HAD TO BE YOU. An engaging story about the romance between RD and Laurel. The setting is in the music business with two artists at polar ends of music. This is a story rich in atmosphere of the business but without drowning you in unnecessary factoid backstory. Each piece is woven in as texture to the dialog happening right then or inner dialog happening at the moment--the now. I liked the way Francis worked in how misconceptions and prejudgements can color perception and that love is worth fighting for despite it. It's a story that makes you realize just why Ms. Ray consistently hits the bestseller list.

Francis Ray, is a successful author. She has over thirty books in print and you would think she's made the climb to success without any glitches, smooth sailing all the way, right? And you couldn't be more wrong.

Francis shares with us her ambition to succeed despite a lot of dancing with Murphy's Law.

I published 16 short stories before I sold my first full-length book. While I enjoyed writing short stories for confession magazines, I dreamed of publishing a book with greater depth, richer characters. I wrote FALLEN ANGEL with that dream in mind. Unfortunately, two editors didn't agree with me on the merit of the book. With each rejection, my dream seemed less attainable. Finally, on December 24, 1991, I received The Call.

FALLEN ANGEL was released November 1992. I had a book signing and sold 88 books! I thought I was on my way to having a long and successful career as a published writer. Unfortunately, the publishing house went under a few months later and I was left wondering what to do next.

After a few months of tears, doubts, and self-pity, because of the unwavering support of my family and my critique group, I decided to finish the two books I had been working on. Once that was done, I promptly sent both in the same envelope to Kensington. Although I knew you were supposed to send to a specific editor, I just put "editor" because one book was a Victorian historical romance and the other a contemporary romance. Once that was done I began the long difficult wait. At the 1993 RWA conference I was stunned when Denise Little approached me and made an offer for the historical, THE BARGAIN. At that same conference Monica Harris, an editor for Kensington, indicated she was looking for African-American romances. Yes, she'd read my book and would get back to me. A few weeks later she called to tell me she wanted to buy FOREVER YOURS, and best of all, it would co-launch the Arabesque line.

FOREVER YOURS went into 7 printings and was named one of the top 25 books of 1994 by The Library Journal. Once again I thought my worries were over.

I should have known better.

I received a quick reality check regarding distribution, shelf space, positioning, and spine out vs face out. I learned that writing the book might be the easiest thing a writer does, and perhaps the only thing she/he has some control over. Once the book leaves your house, things can and do go wrong.

When my 6th book, INCOGNITO, was the first BET TV movie, I forgot about past bumps and thought surly it would be smooth sailing from now on. Wrong. Once again I wanted to write a bigger book. I made the difficult decision to leave a wonderful editor who purchased every proposal I sent, and find a house that published women's fiction. Talk about scared, but I had a great agent and thankfully, I was picked up by St. Martin's Press. I was ecstatic. Not only could I write women's fiction, but romances as well. My editor even published my Living Large series about full-figured women!For me, writing is a journey. You never know what the next day or the next phone call will bring. Case in point, several months ago I was in the kitchen getting a Pepsi and the phone rang. It was my always supportive and fantastic editor telling me that NOBODY BUT YOU had made the New York Times extended bestselling list. I didn't believe her. My goal was to one day possibly hit the USA Today list. When it sunk in I was elated and already worried whether the next book would hit.

It didn't.

I was crushed. I had to remember that in publishing things can and do go wrong, you can be up one day and in the depths of depression the next. All that really matters is the work that will remain long after the writer is gone.

I love weaving stories and have no intention of quitting. Plots might be similar, but no one else can tell the story that I envision. My goal with each and every book is to make it the best that I can, and always be proud of the finished product. After all, it has my name on the cover and that and the story are the only things I can control.

  • How about you? Have you danced much with Murphy's Law? How have you handled setbacks in your writing career?


  • Francis is giving away and autographed copy of IT HAD TO BE YOU to a commenter today.

It Had To Be You Blurb


Most musicians would do anything to work with the hot, young record producer known as “Rolling Deep.” R.D. can pick and choose any artist he wants—and he wants Laurel Raineau. A classical violinist, Laurel plays soaring music that touches R.D. to his very soul. But the last thing Laurel wants is to work with someone whose exploits with the ladies appear in the tabloids every week.


Not one to take no for an answer, R.D. keeps trying and failing—to let Laurel know that he’s not the player he’s made out to be. So he introduces himself to her by his real name, Zachary Wilder, hoping to win her over. But it’s Zach who falls under this beauty’s spell. Now it’s only a matter of time before Laurel learns who the man she’s losing her heart to really is—but can she walk away from a passion that feels so right?
Review from
Click Here to Read an Excerpt

Buy: Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million

~ * ~ * ~

Francis Ray is a native Texan and lives in Dallas. A graduate of Texas Woman's University, she is a School Nurse Practitioner with the Dallas Independent School District. In 1999 and 2000 she was nominated for Texas Woman's University Distinguished Alumni Award.

Ms. Ray's titles consistently make bestseller's lists such as Blackboard and Essence Magazine. INCOGNITO, her sixth title, was the first made-for-TV movie for BET. She has written forty titles to date. Awards include Romantic Times Career Achievement, EMMA, The Golden Pen, The Atlantic Choice, and Borders 2008 Romance Award for Bestselling Multicultural Romance.

  • Website (which has the blurbs and trailers for her books)


~Sia McKye~ said...

Welcome to Over Coffee Francis! Grab some coffee or the caffiene of your choice and set a spell with us!

Mason Canyon said...

Enjoyed the interview. Sounds like an interesting book. :)

Glad you've got your internet back.

Thoughts in Progress

Judi Fennell said...

Francis, thanks so much for sharing your stories - both the ones you write and your publication journey. This business is fraught with ups and downs, so I focus on the only one I have control over: the story. I agonize over every word/element and try to make them the best they can be for a reader experience that I want when I sit down to read.

All the best!

Joanne Kennedy said...

Thanks, Francis - and thanks Sia, for your review! I'll definitely be checking out those "sassy, fun, confident" ladies.
I've been incredibly lucky in my writing career, but one the book is on the shelves, it's a bit of a wild ride! So much depends on others then - reviewers, bookstores, and readers. I constantly remind myself that the writing is what matters. I'd do it for free (don't tell my publisher!!), so whatever happens, happens!

Helen Ginger said...

The books sound great. Francis, you have certainly lived through the twists and turns in your career. Thanks for sharing them with us.

Straight From Hel

~Sia McKye~ said...

Francis will be here and commenting when she gets off from work this afternoon as she can't access the blog from work.

Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi Sia, sorry about the storm and losing internet. So glad you are back up and running. I hope not too much else was damaged.
Thanks for hosting Francis.(Love how you wrote "well developed characters" right next to the hunk's chest...hee,hee.)

Hi Francis,
Thank you for posting the ups and downs of writing. More people need to see this. I think the best authors are the ones who stretch, take chances and shrug at the roller coaster ride of publishing. Love your work and I wish you all the best.


Francis Ray said...

Thanks to everyone who stopped by and offered the well wishes. IT HAD TO BE YOU, the books I'm giving away, is book # 4 in the Grayson Frinds Series and book # 43 for me. IF YOU WERE MY MAN, book # 6 in the Invincible Women Series, was released March 2010. I'll have 5 books scheduled for 2010. It's been a long journey, but I feel very blessed. I have friends who never sold - which is heart-breaking, and friends who sold and now can't get a contract, just as heart-breaking. Publishing is a crazy business.

Francis Ray said...

Sia, glad you're up and running.

Anonymous said...

Hi Francis,
Thanks for sharing your journey as an authors and all I can say is to keep writing. The first book I read was Forever Yours and I have been a fan every since. You character are wonder and your latest book It Had To Be You I shared so many tears while reading this book and I made the mistake of taking this book to work with me sitting at my desk with tears she rolling down my face. Thank god didn't anyone see me cause they would have thought something was really wrong...:) I absolutely love this book and as a reader I can't wait for the next.


Anonymous said...

Hello Sia and Mrs. Ray. Reading IT HAD TO BE YOU, was such a treat. Great story from beginning to end. My question is do you plan to write another musical background romance or something with the movie industy?


Leann Stewart said...

I've loved romance novels since I was old enough to have my first crush!! When I was in high school, I learned that African Americans wrote them too. You were the first one that I read. Until There Was You was the book. I'm currently in the process of buying all of the Graysons of New Mexico series.
When I was in college, I realized that I love writing. You have been such an inspiration to me since I was 17 years old. It is because of you that I aspire to be a successful, published author today. So thankyou!

Anonymous said...

1.Will Carmen and Toby have their background stories told? Separate books. Please don't put these characters together. If only one could be chosen to have a book, I would choose Carmen. To find out what drove her to be so dramatic and scheming. The prequel for IT HAD TO BE YOU, was great in showing Zack's life and how Carmen wanted to stay in it. Loved both projects that you wrote.
2. Is it to late to write a prequel for Laurel?
3.Are you planning a short story for Rio while we wait for his book?

Dana Pittman said...


I learned so much about your journey. What advice would you give to new authors about the bumps you've experienced?


~Sia McKye~ said...

My goodness, we have some well thought out questions from readers of your book Francis.

The funny thing I've noticed along the way with authors and people who love their books is the readers know these *people* so well. What makes them tick.

I really liked Rio in It Had To Be You. I wondered, since I came in late on the series, what his story was. Intriguing man.

I'm very curious about the Invincible women series. Are all these characters known to each other? Or are you just highlighting strong women who overcome obstacles and get on with their lives?

I have to tell you, I like the fact your women characters don't allow themselves to become the eternal victim. I've ordered one of the IW books. I haven't read those yet.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Nancy, the statement and placement were purely coincidental. lolol!

francis ray said...

Thanks, Louise, for joining us, and thanks for being so supportive. It really means a lot.


Anonymous said...

Francis, I am a fan of ALL your books. I finished It Had To Be You - loved it. I now have a Kindle, but still purchase some books and your books are ones that I will have both a physical and e-book. If I could, I'd do it for all the wonderful authors out there. Be blessed - JB

~Sia McKye~ said...

This is very strange. This is MY blog and it has the nerve to eat MY comments? hmmm. They just disappeared.

francis ray said...

Dana, thanks for stopping by. My advice would be to keep your head down and keep writing no matter what. I wasted time that I can never get back by feeling sorry for myself. It's all right to look at what's selling, but it's more important to write what moves and interess you.

francis ray said...

I've received a couple of email sfrom readers who have purchased the book in print form and purchased the e-book on Kindle. Wow!!

francis ray said...

At this time I don't plan to write another book set in the music industry - but I've learned plans can change. The music industry is fascinating. It was fun leanred about the production of music and why it touches us so deeply.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Too much to totally reprise. But I had mentioned that Rio was an intriguing character and I wondered about his story.

Francis, tell me a bit about the Invincible Women series. I've always hated the whole concept of eternal victimhood. I've never noticed your character ascribing to that.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I'd love to read your books, are they for sale in South Africa?

Bantsi Makhandeni

Anonymous said...

I'd love to read your books, are they for sale in South Africa?

Bantsi Makhandeni

francis ray said...

Leann, good luck on your writing. I continue to struggle with each book. My friends and family call it "my process." I really hope your process is easier. There is always room for a good book!

francis ray said...

Sia, the women characters in the Invincible Women series are loosely connected by friendships. I wanted to write about women who faced seemingly insurmountable odds, yet with perseverance, strength, dignity and belief in themselves, overcame. Their reward was a richer life and a fabulous guy who adores them and their independance. The 6 books are also connected by the Dunlaps - a niece and her four gorgeous uncles.

francis ray said...

At the present time I don't plan any other books set in the music industry. I really enjoyed doing the research for IT HAD TO BE YOU. The music industry is fascinating. If you haven't done so already, please visit my web site and view the book video. I think you'll enjoy it.

francis ray said...

Rio from previous books in the Graysons of New Mexico series as well as the Grayson Friends series, is a work in progress. He's gorgeous, intelligent, silent as smoke and can kill in countless ways. He was taught to track by a man with no name. His story won't be a conventional one, because Rio isn't.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Okay, now I REALLY need to read the Invincible Women. My kinda girls, lolol!

How in the world do you balance writing more than one series, Francis? Without getting overwhelmed?

francis ray said...

Sia, by the way, love the title - Dancing with Murphy's Law. It fits perfectly with my career woos and the music industry in IT HAD TO BE YOU.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Oh good. I can already tell I'm going to like Rio's story. You know who he kind of reminded me of, but not quite as obviously dangerous? Hawk--played by Avery Brooks. Spencer was cool but I gotta tell yah, between the two? I'd want Hawk at my side in any dark corner.

francis Ray said...

I flip-flop the two series. I write one mainstream, then a romance. Since my editor now wants the mass market romances quicker, I'll write two romances between the mainstream. They have entirely different characters with differnt mindsets/goals so it's easy to keep them seperated. Finding time to write is another issue.

francis ray said...

You and me both on Hawk in a dark corner. Hawk was in your face. You won't know Rio is there unless he wants you to or until it's too late.

francis ray said...

I'm not sure if the books are in South Africa. Please call your local bookstore and check. There's always Internet outlets.

francis ray said...

Thanks to Sia for the invitation and to everyone who dropped by. My bed is calling me. Smile. I'll drop by tomorrow to see if any questions.

Hugs and good night,

selena said...

Hi Mrs. Ray,

I am an avid fan of yours...I have every single Grayson book that you've written with the exception of this latest one...I can't wait to get it! I think your books are very well written and captivating! Please keep doing what you are doing because you have millions of readers that love you dearly and that will support every book you write!

-Selena E

Ranurgis said...

I always find what authors post so very interesting; maybe especially because I know I could never write a "creative" book myself. I'd be much more likely to write about something that I'd have to research, but I doubt I'll ever do that either.

Murphy's law has definitely been in effect for me for about the last 5 years, and especially for the last 18 months. I'm trying to get my German pension and truly everything that could go wrong has. From getting papers for someone with the wrong name, to having to constantly send over additional forms and affidavits, to not being allowed to ask questions by e-mail, thus taking up tons of time, everything seems to conspire to hold up my pension. It almost makes me wish I'd never gone there to work. But I did and it was a great experience.

I hope to read many more of your books, though I haven't been able to find your latest here in town yet.

But now, "Der Bettzipfel zieht," as the Germans would say, i.e., I'm ready for bed.

Houston A.W. Knight said...

Hi Sweetie!

Great review and this is an author I'll check out next time I'm at the book store...which will be soon...I've been reading a lot of late...time to go shopping! And This author's first on my list.


James Jackson said...

I must say reading this book has been a great enjoyment. RD and LR are the perfect couple and would have a nice life together. I say i really enjoyed this book because it was different from all the other Grayson friend books in the series. I would love to see these books as movies, you know. I will get my directors license so i can make them into film. I want to know why Shane and Rio kept getting mad at RD even though i know their reason, but they kept getting involved in something that wasnt for them. At least i felt uncomfortable about those parts. Great book.

Renee Williams said...

I enjoyed the interview and the book as well. Francis you are a wonderful writer, so keep doing what you do! :-)

Francis Ray said...

Thanks again to Sia for the invitation, and to everyone who stopped by.

Happy Reading,