Monday, October 4, 2010

TAKE TEN: Author Mikki Zimmerman

by Cyrus Webb for Conversations Magazine (

If you are looking for a book that is sure to be a discussion piece, I would suggest you take a look at Monroe, LA native Mikki Zimmerman's "CAN I GET A WITNESS? 21 Frustrations of Black Women (Including Me)". Packed with issues that people around the world are dealing with, Zimmerman takes her conversations with black women from across the United States and addresses issues that she feels need to be addressed.

In this conversation she talks about her direct approach, why she singled out black women for her subject matter and how the internet is helping her to spread the word and reach a new audience. 

Mikki, thank you for taking out the time to talk with Conversations Magazine. First,  when did you realize that you had an interest in writing?

I would have to say my freshman year in college - Fall '91.  My professors always complimented me on my writing skills and a few even suggested that I pursue writing as a career.  The interest was there but I eventually took the business route.  Even though I stumbled back to writing a few years ago.

Have you always been a person who didn't mind sharing their opinions on issues?

Always!  I have never been shy about giving my opinion.  I've been called "judgmental" quite a few times in my life; but my family and real friends know that I am a very passionate person.  Not judgmental at all.  Just real passionate about my beliefs. 

Of all the things you could have written about, why the issues of frustrations for women of color?

Great question Cyrus!  Keep in mind, I conducted the research for the book in 2006.  This was one year after the destruction of Hurricane Katrina along the Gulf Coast.  Talk about frustrations!  You could see it in the faces of African-American women everywhere.  Even through my online research.  They vented to anyone who would listen.  Basically, the need was far too great for me to ignore the subject.  And I had a few frustrations of my own, so I threw those in the book as well. 

Mikki, you and I had the opportunity to talk on Conversations LIVE about your book and the topics you address. I mentioned to you that I thought men and women of any race could appreciate what you had to say. Have you heard similar things from others?

Actually, I've heard it from a few people.  My mom's physician, who is white, was intrigued after a 30 minute conversation about the book and he stated, "You could have deleted the word 'Black' because white women have the same frustrations too".  I chatted with a few of my white readers as well.  And they echoed the same setiments.

Now that the book is out and people are talking about it, what would be success for you in the way the book is received?

Being recognized as an author and getting lots of attention from readers is great but that is not the reason I wrote the book.  Success for me is getting people to really understand black women.  I mean fully understand us.  Like I said in the book, everyone is so quick to talk about angry black women.  But no one is willing to take the time to find out why many of us (not all) are so frustrated.  Getting readers - men and women of all races - to see black women in a different light after reading my book would definetly fullfill the purpose of my writing this book.

Outside the traditional booksignings and literary events, do you see yourself doing speaking engagements about the topics in the book or hosting panels to create some real dialoge about the topic?

Defintely.  I have already spoken to administators with public libraries throughtout Northeast Louisiana to do workshops on this topic as well as others.  I've also been asked to do a workshop at my church for our Annual Women's Day Conference.  I've spoken to a few radio personalities about appearances.  So yeah, I have a few speaking engagements lined up in the near future.

I want to talk about your promotional campaign for the book for  moment. How effective have social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter been in getting the word out about your book as well as just meeting new people, whether its readers or fellow authors?

For me, social networking has been great!  I don't have a Twitter account but I live on Facebook!  My book sales have increased dramatically since advertising on Facebook.  And I have connected with so many authors and old friends and classmates.  I just love it!

There were many topics you didn't get a chance to address in your first book, Mikki, so is that your setup for the second one or do you plan on going in another direction?

Actually, I am working on my second book.  This one is geared toward teens and young adults.  It's more a manual than a book and it addresses conflict resolution.  I am so tired of seeing young black men waste their lives behind bars or buried six feet under prematurely.  I am a single mother to a young black male so this subject is near and dear to my heart.  So again, I will pour all of my passion and emotions into this one as well.  Stay tuned!

Any advice for aspiring writers that you would like to share based on your own experience with publishing?

Wow, where do I began?  I would start by saying this publishing business is RUTHLESS!  If you cannot handle rejection, you are in the wrong business.  You must learn to take rejection first. . .because you will receive it.  And it may come from family members or even friends.  So be prepared to face it.  Secondly, never give up!  I don't care if no one else believes in your project except you.  Never give up!  Your dream of becoming a published author will come true.  Keep believing and continue to move forward. 

Thanks again, Mikki for this opportunity. How can our readers keep in touch with you online?
Thank you Cyrus for everything you have done in helping promote my book.  May God continue to bless you!  I can be found on Facebook, of course.  My book is available at Amazon and  It can also be purchased at the publisher website which is or by calling 888-795-4274.  And you can catch my bi-monthly column - Back and Forth with Mikki - on  Thanks again!

TAKE TEN: Author Nancy Taylor Rosenberg

I have been a fan of New York Times bestselling author Nancy Taylor Rosenberg for quite some time, so I saw it as a privilege to have the opportunity to interview her not just for my radio show but Authors Take Ten as well. Over the years she has captivated readers of both sexes, giving the world stories that are as intriguing as they are addictive. The Dallas, Texas native moved to West Hills, CA this year and also released her latest page-turner called MY LOST DAUGHTER.

She talked with me about her writing career, what inspired one of the themes of the new book and had a surprising response to what she would tell aspiring writers today.

Here is our conversation:

Nancy, it is an honor to have this time to talk with you. I want to first ask you if you are at all surprised about the fact that you have been able to transition so well from a fulfilling legal career to a literary one?
I always thought I could write a book, but I never dreamed I would actually be published and that my first novel would hit the New York Times Bestseller list. As far as transitioning, as a criminal investigator I wrote what could be referred to as mini novellas. A prosecutor once said I could "write a man into prison."

Do you remember when you realized that you had a book in you that you wanted to share with the world?
About ten years before my first novel, MITIGATING CIRCUMSTANCES, was published I wrote a novel in longhand. After asking a few friends to read it, I became discouraged and the book was never published. I knew MITIGATING was something special because I stood up to type the ending, which in itself isn't an easy thing to accomplish.

What about support? How has it changed from your beginning of your decision to pursue writing until now?
I took a “Novels in Progress” course at UCLA and had a brilliant professor named Leonardo Bercovici. He told me I could write a good book and I believed him. My husband and family didn't support me until the money started coming in. I wrote my first book on a Smith Corona word processor. As soon as I got my first contract, my husband bought me a new computer, a new printer, and a fax machine.

For five years I have been a fan of yours, and it seems as though men and women are enthralled by your work. Was there any expectation of that in the beginning?
I suspected I might attract both male and female readers because my books are somewhat of a hybrid. Because of my background in the criminal justice system, my thrillers are very authentic and at that time women were mainly writing softer books. But I always incorporate romance as my characters have real lives. I also write sex scenes.

Nancy, you have catapulted into one of our most respected authors in the industry. What does that level of success mean to you, and what kind of pressure does it bring with it?
I enjoyed having my books on the bestseller list, but it was terribly stressful. We would get a copy of the list every Wednesday and if my book had fallen off, I would run to my room and sob. I also wrote fifteen hours a day, which was exhausting and later damaging to my spine.

Publishing has changed quite a bit since you first burst onto the scene. Some who were around when you first were published aren't still in demand as they once were. What do you think has been the key to your fans and new readers gravitating to you?
I’m not certain they have as my numbers have steadily fallen. But I’ve written thirteen novels, and had my big successes. It’s all about how much a publisher is willing to spend promoting you, and right now, they’re not willing to spend big money. The recession has hit the publishing industry hard.

Talk to us about the new book.
MY LOST DAUGHTER is a thriller, but it also deals with the greed and corruption in the private psychiatric industry.

Are parts of MY LOST DAUGHTER based on your own experiences?
In 1990, I went to the ER thinking I was having a heart attack. After waiting all night to see the doctor, someone in a uniform came to get me in an ambulance and took me out of the hospital with a blanket over my head. I later realized I had been kidnapped by an unscrupulous and corrupt private mental hospital who received kickbacks from various ER doctors for referring patients. The only requirement was that they had insurance. When I got to the hospital, they administered dangerous, mind altering drugs. I was restricted from making phone calls to my family and friends, and they were in turn told that I refused to speak to them or see them.

Since I was a probation officer at the time, I was horrified that something like this could happen and that a patient in a mental hospital had fewer rights than a prisoner. The hospital was later investigated by the attorney general's office for what they called "patient snatching." At the time, unknown to me when I was kidnapped, this was common practice throughout Texas.

There are men and women who are in one profession, have a true love for writing but don't know if they have what it takes to make it. What advice would you give them?
Many agents say they are looking for people who feel “compelled to write.” I think this is a good sign of talent. I felt this way. I simply couldn’t stop writing. With the recession and the state of the book business right now, I wouldn’t recommend that anyone try to break into the business. On the other hand, a person who has never been published who writes a terrific book might be more appealing than someone who has had a few flops. It’s all about the numbers.

Since books becoming movies is the dream of so many authors today, which one of your books would you like to see brought to be big screen if you had your way?
They made one of my novels into a movie and it was awful. My name wasn’t on it, so I was lucky. Most novelists don’t like the way Hollywood adapts their novels.

Find out more information about Nancy by visiting her website: