Charmaine Parker – Zane’s Sister Shows Off Her Writing Prowess With Debut Novel

The groundbreaking success of her sister’s erotic novels may have opened the door to the literary world for the both of them but for Charmaine writing has literally been in her blood. With the release of her own debut novel The Next Phase of Life, Charmaine is ready to wow the literary world as an author.
Parlè Magazine: What influenced you to start writing?
Charmaine R. Parker: Writing is actually in my blood because both of my parents are writers. My mom said I’ve been writing since kindergarten but I can remember writing poems and short stories as early as seven.  Its seemed so natural for me to start writing, I remember writing a poem about going to Disneyland when my family and I were going on a road trip from DC to California. Also, I was a big reader and started when I was young. My father was a professor and he had a large collection of books in his study.
Parlè: Can you tell us a little about your book, The Next Phase of Life?
Charmaine: My book was released this past summer in July. The Next Phase of Life is set in Washington D.C. about a woman, the main character, Tai Wilson has just turned 40 and in her most recent relationship, she thought this was going to be the man of her dreams. On her 40th birthday, she throws a big party for herself but gets stood up by the man and never hears from him again. Now she’s reassessing her relationships, life and trying to figure out what she should do now. Instead of looking for Mr. Right, he finds her and he was right in front of her face the while time, literally in her backyard. Even with their differences, they hook up. Her two best friends, one’s a Fashionista and the other’s a detective, it’s about the three women and their camaraderie. Tai experienced a tragedy in her life youth that took the lives of both her parents. She was living in North Carolina as a kid and when her parents died, her grandmother could only take care of one of them them. So she moved to DC while her sister stayed in North Carolina. Years later, the sister, Trista reaches out to her on Facebook. The two try to form a sisterly bond. One of the main things I was focusing on was that you have to enjoy your life and live each day to the fullest.
Parlè: What was the influence behind The Next Phase of Life?
Charmaine: I have a very strong network of friends and family. I wanted to write something that spoke to women who are in an awkward period in life and may not know what to do next or feel as though when they hit a certain age they can’t do certain things anymore. As I was writing this book, I lost a friend in 2010 and this became very therapeutic for me. Life is so short, you’ve got to celebrate it while you can.
Parlè: Can you tell us about your publishing company Strebor Books?
Charmaine: I am the publishing director of Strebor Books which is a publishing company owned by my younger sister, who people may best know as the national bestselling author Zane. She started the company when she self-published her first novel The Sex Chronicles.  Of course, she’s since gone on to publish many more books and people since then. The first person she published was a writer from California who sent her a manuscript that moved her so much that she wanted to start a publishing others. At the time when she started this I was in-between jobs but I had a background as a journalist when I worked for a newspaper, recording, copy editing, production editing, I’ve written editorials and I’ve worn many hats in my field. I decided to join her at the time and her out, this was back in 2002. In 2005, she became a book imprint for Atria which is under Simon & Schuster and that’s when we really started picking up more authors. I am the main editor and production editor which means I have to make sure the books come out on time before the deadline, make sure everything with the book is correct like the color, cover and font. I proof-read and edit and I am the head liaison for the author and Atria. Alot of people may think we have a huge staff but it’s really just the two of us.
Parlè: What was it like working with your sister, Zane, before she became well-known?
Charmaine:  When she first started in 1997, she had moved from the Washington DC/Maryland area to North Carolina to a little small town where we have a lot of family. She became bored living down there so she started writing erotica and short stories and sold them on the internet. When she told me this, at around Christmas of that year I really didn’t know what to say. I had come down to North Carolina and we were at a friend’s for a Christmas Eve party, I hadn’t seen her for a while since she moved. So she says “Guess what I’m doing? I’m writing erotica and selling it online.”  I was like “Oh okay, that’s cool. That’s different.” She continued this and it wasn’t until she moved back to Maryland that she decided to put these stories together into an anthology. She had gained a lot of fans online who had already discovered her underground.  When she wrote her second novel, Addicted she had actually given it to me to edit. Back then, there were only a couple of family members who knew she was Zane; she was living with our parents back home for a while and they didn’t even know.  When we were working in the same office building, people knew she was my sister but didn’t know she was Zane the author. When I’d go see her at lunch and ask her what she was doing, she’d tell me was going to ship books on her break. So she was shipping books out of her car and when I first started working with her, we were working out of her home. She hasn’t changed even though people know she’s Zane. It’s been an interesting journey so far.
Parlè: Why put out a novel now?
Charmaine: I’ve actually been meaning to put out a novel when we first started doing this and people kept telling me that I needed to.  Zane even asked “Charmaine, when are you going to put out a book?” I’ve been working on other’s people stuff for so long it just felt like I didn’t have time.  It’s been very exciting and interesting for me.
Parlè:  Where can readers buy your book?
Charmaine: Readers can get my books at online stores like Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, and Wal-mart.
Parlè: Are you connected with any social sites where readers and fans and get updates about you?
Charmaine: I am on Facebook, www.facebook.com/CharmaineRoberts Parker.
Parlè: Do you have any words of advice for aspiring writers?
Charmaine: Yes, this advice is based on me being a publishing director, I get many submissions on a daily basis and if you are going to make a submission even if its self-publishing, it is extremely important that you have your work edited before you turn it in.  If you get someone like me who edits and proof-reads all day, it can be a turn off. Make sure it’s in the right format like what you see in a book, study as much as you can by reading other books. I am big on punctuation. Also try to do something different with your genre, just because that’s your genre doesn’t mean you can’t expand.  Of course, a solid plot line and good character development is always important.

The groundbreaking success of her sister’s erotic and urban fiction novels may have opened the door to the literary world for the both of them but for Charmaine Parker writing has literally been running in her blood stream. With the release of her own debut novel The Next Phase of Life, Charmaine is ready to wow the literary world as an author.

Parlé Magazine: What influenced you to start writing?
Charmaine R. Parker:  Writing is actually in my blood because both of my parents are writers. My mom said I’ve been writing since kindergarten but I can remember writing poems and short stories as early as seven.  Its seemed so natural for me to start writing, I remember writing a poem about going to Disneyland when my family and I were going on a road trip from D.C. to California. Also, I was a big reader and started when I was young. My father was a professor and he had a large collection of books in his study.

Parlé:  Can you tell us a little about your book, The Next Phase of Life?
Charmaine Parker: My book was released this past summer in July. The Next Phase of Life is set in Washington D.C. about a woman, the main character, Tai Wilson has just turned 40 and in her most recent relationship, she thought this was going to be the man of her dreams. On her 40th birthday, she throws a big party for herself but gets stood up by the man and never hears from him again. Now she’s reassessing her relationships, life and trying to figure out what she should do now. Instead of looking for Mr. Right, he finds her and he was right in front of her face the while time, literally in her backyard. Even with their differences, they hook up. Her two best friends, one’s a Fashionista and the other’s a detective, it’s about the three women and their camaraderie. Tai experienced a tragedy in her life that took the lives of both her parents. She was living in North Carolina as a kid and when her parents died, her grandmother could only take care of one of them. So she moved to DC while her sister stayed in North Carolina. Years later, the sister, Trista reaches out to her on Facebook. The two try to form a sisterly bond. One of the main things I was focusing on was that you have to enjoy your life and live each day to the fullest.

Parlé:  What was the influence behind The Next Phase of Life?
Charmaine Parker:  I have a very strong network of friends and family. I wanted to write something that spoke to women who are in an awkward period in life and may not know what to do next or feel as though when they hit a certain age they can’t do certain things anymore. As I was writing this book, I lost a friend in 2010 and this became very therapeutic for me. Life is so short, you’ve got to celebrate it while you can.

Parlé:  Can you tell us about your publishing company Strebor Books?
Charmaine Parker: I am the publishing director of Strebor Books which is a publishing company owned by my younger sister, who people may best know as the national bestselling author Zane. She started the company when she self-published her first novel The Sex Chronicles.  Of course, she’s since gone on to publish many more books and other people since then. The first person she published was a writer from California who sent her a manuscript that moved her so much that she wanted to start a publishing others. At the time when she started this I was in-between jobs but I had a background as a journalist when I worked for a newspaper, recording, copy editing, production editing, I’ve written editorials and I’ve worn many hats in my field. I decided to join her at the time and help her out, this was back in 2002. In 2005, she became a book imprint for Atria which is under Simon & Schuster and that’s when we really started picking up more authors. I am the main editor and production editor which means I have to make sure the books come out on time before the deadline, make sure everything with the book is correct like the color, cover and font. I proof-read and edit and I am the head liaison for the author and Atria. A lot of people may think we have a huge staff but it’s really just the two of us.

Parlé:  What was it like working with your sister, Zane, before she became well-known?
Charmaine Parker:  When she first started in 1997, she had moved from the Washington D.C./Maryland area to North Carolina at a little small town where we have a lot of family. She became bored living down there so she started writing erotica and short stories and sold them on the internet. When she told me this, at around Christmas of that year I really didn’t know what to say. I had come down to North Carolina and we were at a friends for a Christmas Eve party, I hadn’t seen her for a while since she moved. So she says “Guess what I’m doing? I’m writing erotica and selling it online.”  I was like “Oh okay, that’s cool. That’s different.” She continued this and it wasn’t until she moved back to Maryland that she decided to put these stories together into an anthology. She had gained a lot of fans online who had already discovered her underground.  When she wrote her second novel, Addicted she had actually given it to me to edit. Back then, there were only a couple of family members who knew she was Zane; she was living with our parents back home for a while and they didn’t even know.  When we were working in the same office building, people knew she was my sister but didn’t know she was Zane the author. When I’d go see her at lunch and ask her what she was doing, she’d tell me was going to ship books on her break. So she was shipping books out of her car and when I first started working with her, we were working out of her home. She hasn’t changed even though people know she’s Zane. It’s been an interesting journey so far.

Parlé:   Why put out a novel now?
Charmaine Parker:  I’ve actually been meaning to put out a novel when we first started doing this and people kept telling me that I needed to.  Zane even asked “Charmaine, when are you going to put out a book?” I’ve been working on other’s people stuff for so long it just felt like I didn’t have time.  It’s been very exciting and interesting for me.

Charmaine Parker - The Next Phase of Life book cover

Parlé:  Are you connected with any social sites where readers and fans and get updates about you?
Charmaine Parker: I am on Facebook, www.facebook.com/CharmaineRobertsParker.

Parlé:  Do you have any words of advice for aspiring writers?
Charmaine Parker: Yes, this advice is based on me being a publishing director, I get many submissions on a daily basis and if you are going to make a submission even if its self-publishing, it is extremely important that you have your work edited before you turn it in.  If you get someone like me who edits and proof-reads all day, it can be a turn off. Make sure it’s in the right format like what you see in a book, study as much as you can by reading other books. I am big on punctuation. Also try to do something different with your genre, just because that’s your genre doesn’t mean you can’t expand.  Of course, a solid plot line and good character development is always important.


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Adrian "A.D." Dubard

Born in Washington DC, Adrian was placed in the care of his maternal grandparents after his mother died when he was a baby. For the most part of his life, Adrian’s biological father was absent from his life. Growing up with a house full of cousins, aunts and uncles, Adrian began his love of writing to document his surroundings. Attending a private school for 9 ½ years, it was there that many influential teachers help strengthen his love of writing via English and creative writing classes. Even though, Adrian loved to write he was reserved about what he wrote about. Leaving DC at the age of 7, Adrian and his family moved to Temple Hills, Maryland in Prince George’s not too far from where he had lived previously. Luckily, Adrian had taken part in many youth outreach programs as a youth that allowed him to travel and see the country, many kids he knew around his own age hadn’t even left the city. These experiences opened his eyes to other cultures and ways of living. As a teenager, Adrian had many friends who passed away before their time but he promised to keep writing to honor their memory. Other than writing, Adrian has helped various charities rise by going on public speaking tours. Some of these charities include The Safe Haven Project and The Journey of Hope. He has contributed to several book projects and currently resides in Queens, NY. Read more articles by Adrian.

Adrian "A.D." Dubard has 78 posts and counting. See all posts by Adrian "A.D." Dubard

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