Question of the Day: Where is Black Diamonds?


ImageTo answer the question, Black Diamonds is only halfway written. When I mean, halfway, literally halfway, I’m on Chapter 13, which is halfway through the book. I expected to have the book released this month, however, that is obviously, not going to happen. The only thing I can guarantee is that the book will be released this year. Thanks so much Diamonds for everything! *Razzle~Dazzle*

Special Preview: The Ace of Diamonds


Prologue

Dallas, Texas

November

realestaecom“Sir, can I help you?”

Jay’s eyes traveled around the main lobby of Davenport Realty as he took in the space. It was tastefully decorated by illustrations of luxury home floor plans and commercial real estate properties. In addition, there were several framed portraits that lined the wooden walls. Jay’s attention was more focused on the single portrait of Lotus Pagua, which hung above the receptionist’s desk, than the receptionist in front of him. He was staring at the portrait when her voice sounded once again in his ears. This time, she had a slight attitude.

“Sir, do you have an appointment? Who are you here to see?” she asked.

Jay raised his brow, hearing the harshness in her tone. He looked down at her desk and saw an enormous amount of paperwork. He figured she had other things to do so he decided to stop stalling. “Lotus,” he told her.

The woman looked at him quizzically, and it was then that Jay realized his mistake. Most people were unaware that the owner of the real estate company was born Lotus Pagua. “Harold Davenport, I need to see Harold Davenport,” he told her, and then held up his briefcase as a sign that he had come on business. The woman didn’t seem to recognize him, a factor that could potentially work in his favor.

“You know, Harold Davenport retired. You chose the right day to come because he is actually in a meeting with the new CEO of the company. You’ll have to wait until the meeting is over, though. Why don’t you take a seat over there,” she suggested, as she stood up from her desk and pointed to a row of chairs in the waiting area. “Would you like some coffee?”

Jay ignored her question, and headed to the row of empty seats. He sat his briefcase in the seat next to him before giving the lobby another once-over. The building that housed Davenport Realty was far more upscale than the premier office in Brookstone. Jay assumed that the Texas location was more profitable.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” a male voice burgeoned. “Don’t make me have to come back up here. I retired for a reason.”

texasJay plastered a smile on his face as he saw Lotus walking into the reception area. He appeared to be in a dismal mood from the signs of stress on his face. It made Jay think twice about approaching him; however, he was determined that his visit to Dallas was not going to be in vain. He rose to his feet quickly and stepped into Lotus’ path.

“Uh…” Lotus uttered as he blinked his eyes twice to make sure he was seeing right. Certain that he was, he looked Jay over from head to toe. Lotus hadn’t spoken or seen Jay in years. Jay lived in New York, so Lotus knew that he had intentionally come to Texas and sought him out for a specific reason.

“Do you have a moment for Hector’s son?” Jay asked him with a smile. He followed Lotus’ gaze, which was fixed on his briefcase. He then looked back at him only to see that his facial expression had turned to one of nervousness.

“Sure, I was headed out,” Lotus told him, nodding his head. “Come with me.”

Jay quickly grabbed his briefcase and followed Lotus out of the building. A black limousine awaited them outside directly in front of Davenport Realty. Jay made no hesitation in getting inside although his own limo was across the street in the parking deck. Before turning to address Lotus, he sat his briefcase in between them and buckled his seatbelt.

“Why are you here?” Lotus asked. “You’re the last person I’d expect to see in Dallas.”
Jay chuckled, because it was obvious that Lotus was suspicious of his presence. He couldn’t blame him, either. It had been a long time since they had held a conversation, besides; Lotus wasn’t exactly his biggest fan. “Our paths are always bound to cross. I’m Hector’s son, remember? He was your best friend. I also have two kids by your daughter, Carmen, and not to mention a little princess on the way. Your grandkids are a good enough reason for us to talk.”

“Are you counting Rakim as your son?”

Jay looked over at Lotus hoping that he could read his facial expression. Instead of answering his question, he opened up his briefcase. He pulled out a white envelope and handed it to him.

“As you can see,” he said as Lotus opened the envelope, “I do believe that Rakim is my son. If you want me to be honest, I always believed that he was. I just didn’t push the issue as much as I should have. Now that Carmen has broken up with me, I am going to push the issue. Rakim is still very young, but he needs to know that I’m his father. By the time I get back to Brookstone, Carmen will have a copy of these court papers.”

imagesCAJTH6YJLotus looked at Jay as he took the papers out of the envelope. He read the documents quickly before placing the papers back inside. “Is this how you intend to get her back?” Lotus chuckled in disbelief. “You take her to court for a DNA test, and then sue her for paternity fraud? Rakim is almost a year old. If you really thought he was your son then you would have did this a long time ago. Why bring it up now?”

The question that Lotus posed was a good one. Jay was unsure of how to answer other than to explain that it took him awhile to make sense if it all. “Carmen told me that her husband couldn’t have kids. I believed her, but I got confused when Kane came with his paternity test. For a while, I thought that maybe a miracle had happened. You know, maybe he was Rakim’s father after all. Then, I used my common sense and remembered that Kane had never produced a child naturally. The only child that is biologically his is Kristian and they used in vitro to conceive her. I know that Rakim is my son. Since Carmen doesn’t want to admit that, I have to take matters into my own hands.”

Lotus gave the envelope back to him. “Okay, so what do you want from me?”

Jay focused the conversation on the real reason that he had come to Dallas. He had recently linked up with one of his old comrades who had helped him put millions into a new investment, one that he wanted Lotus to help him out with. His plan was to use their connection to his advantage.

“I figured that since I’m Hector’s son that you would help me.”

Lotus was taken aback. “Help you? Help you with what?”

Jay knew that what he said next was going to send Lotus into a fury. “I need a warehouse,” he told him, quickly.

“Oh hell no,” Lotus said, taking off his seatbelt. “Stop the car, Arnold. Pull over.”

imagesCAW5691RJay unbuckled his seatbelt as well. He grabbed Lotus’ shoulder, in an attempt to calm him down. “Lotus, come on, listen to me. I know you helped me with this before, but I need another one. I mean, you sold me the building for Blue Magic. I’m making honest of the restaurant, aren’t I? I promise you, I will—” Jay was interrupted as Lotus screamed in his ear.

“Are you out of your damn mind? What kind of shit are you getting into now?”

“I can’t go to anybody with this project. I don’t need a lot of ears or eyes on this. I trust you, Lotus. I know that you won’t publicize this sale like you do the others. I know you will take the warehouse out of your company’s listings way before the sale is even complete.”

Lotus shook his head, nervously. He knew that if Jay was asking for a warehouse then there was probably some illegal operation about to go down inside of it. The last time he had sold him one, he ended up using the space to house illegal drugs and weapons. Now, he wanted one again. Certain that Jay was still running a drug cartel, Lotus didn’t want anything to do with it. His days of working alongside a criminal enterprise were long gone.

“Sir, should I still pull over?” his driver asked.

Jay looked at Lotus, waiting for him to respond. He smiled when he told Arnold no. It was a clear sign that Lotus probably wanted to know more. If he did, Jay could potentially be leaving Dallas with a place to house his newest project.

“Jay,” Lotus began, “Do you really think that I’m going to risk my real estate business for your criminal enterprise? You know what, don’t answer that. Arnold, head back to the parking deck so we can drop Mr. Santiago off.”

imagesCAYZQ5SLJay became uneasy as the conversation took an unexpected turn. He knew now that he had to pull out all of the stops if he wanted Lotus to comply. “I’m begging you. You were my father’s best friend, his right-hand man. I know our relationship hasn’t always been good, but I’m asking you to put our differences aside. I’m not trying to get you in any trouble. I want to keep everything that is done between us discrete.”

Lotus closed his eyes briefly as he thought of Jay’s father. Everything that Jay was saying was true. He had been Hector’s best friend. In addition, he was also legally Jay’s godfather. It was a secret that he had never made known. Part of the reason was because his main concern had always been in establishing a new identity. He didn’t want anything to do with Hector’s criminal enterprise, which was why he had broken away in the first place. Even now, he didn’t want to take part in Jay’s project. Lotus felt that if he gave Jay what he wanted, he wouldn’t be working in his best interest. Instead he could be aiding him in getting another seventeen year stint in prison.

As the limo eased into the median, Lotus knew that he was pressed for time. He still had to break the news to Jay that he wasn’t going to help him and reveal his secret. He knew that if he gave Jay a heartfelt explanation of why he wouldn’t help him that he would accept it. Besides, it was time for him to let a skeleton out of the closet.

“When you were first born,” he revealed, “I signed court documents to be your godfather. Hector wanted me to watch over you in case anything ever happened. I hate to admit that I failed in that department, but I did. Even when we reconnected, I didn’t play the part that I was supposed to. But, today is a new day.” Lotus turned towards Jay so that he was staring into his eyes. “I don’t want to see you back in prison. I don’t want to see you following in your father’s footsteps either. I know you’re still running the cartel. Right now, I’m looking out for your best interest. My daughter is having a baby by you that is due this month. You need to be around to see that child grow. I don’t believe that you intend to use this warehouse legally and because of that, I won’t help you. That doesn’t mean I hate you or I’m trying to be spiteful. It means that I want to look out for your best interest.”

Jay looked out the window as the driver parked the limo directly across from his own. The bomb that Lotus had dropped had made him speechless. He never thought in a million years that Lotus Pagua could be his godfather. Lotus was right when he said he hadn’t played the part. He had been absent from his life for many years. While his secret helped Jay to better understand Lotus’ stance, he still wanted his warehouse. Deep down, Jay knew that Lotus wouldn’t let up. Therefore, without bothering to respond, Jay got out of the vehicle.

Ruby XLLotus took a deep breath as Jay’s lofty frame disappeared into a white limo. He wasn’t quite sure how to take Jay’s reaction. In addition, he was very curious about his godson’s newest venture. What are you up to now? You’re too much like your father, always working on something. Lotus sighed at the comparison. He got ready to direct Arnold towards his house until he noticed a black velvet bag on the seat opposite of him. He had never seen Jay place it there but he figured his godson had pulled a fast one on him. Lotus picked the bag up, loosened the strings, and glanced down into it. A slight snicker escaped his lips as he saw that the bag was full of diamonds.

How Do You Come Up With a Character?


This question was asked to me last night and I wanted to share my answer with the rest of the world. Generally, I know what a story needs. For example, although I am going through the edits for The Ace of Diamonds, my mind is still on the plot for Book No. 4, Black Diamonds. In the fourth book, I know that I need a character who can basically stand-in for Jay while he is somewhat out of the picture (dont’ get scared- he’s not going too far, promise!). I also wanted Jay to have some kind of family other than his children.

I decided to create a male character who just so happened to be Jay’s first cousin. This person needed to be fearless, aggressive, smart, and attractive, all at the same time. I didn’t have a name for this person until I was watching an episode of Chrissy and Mr. Jones on VH1. I can’t remember what was going on, but I knew that Jim Jones had made a facial expression that just screamed the character that I needed in my book. I remember staring at the TV and the words, “That’s him!” were being thrown around in my mind.

I immediately went to the Internet and started the search for a name that now matched the face I had in my head. Lo and  behold, I learned that Jim Jones’ middle name was Guillermo. Perfect for a Hispanic character, right? Thus, was born Guillermo Perez, who I decided to refer to as Gully in the fourth book. Gully can be defined as something from the street, gangster, or gutter , which fit the character I had just created to the T.

So as you can see, I take what I need for a story, throw in what I want, a little TV and internet, and here comes a…CHARACTER 🙂

Behind the Book: Jayceon King Santiago


When I first decided that Carmen would become a mother, I instantly knew that her first born would be a boy. The next thing I knew was that he was going to be a bad ass. I didn’t want him to be as tough or as ruthless as Jay, but I wanted to set him up on the trek where he had the potential to maybe one day become just like him.

Now that I’m older and more mature, I want my characters to make that same transition. My plan is to transform the character of Jayceon King Santiago (born Jayceon Santiago Kane, but generally known as King) from a troubled young male to a legit businessman.

The Troubled Young Teen

If you’ve read Diamonds are Forever (DAF) then you know that when you are first introduced to King that he is beating up an old comrade who owes him money for drugs. The purpose of this scene was to set the tone for the kind of persona that King has. It also allows you, the reader, to see that although he was not raised nor has knowledge of Jay, he still possesses some of his characteristics.

Most of King’s teenage years were spent in juvie and behavioral centers as a result of selling drugs, truancy, fighting, and theft. In DAF, he attributes this behavior to wanting his mother’s attention. He realized early on that he got it whenever he was getting into trouble and she had to come to his rescue. When he finally reveals this to her, Carmen expresses her love for him and tells him that she will try and work on their relationship.

Making the Change

Throughout the course of the book, his persona starts to change, which is due to his new relationship with Jay (who is first introduced to him as Jigga). In addition, Malik encourages King to stay out of trouble so that he can successfully maintain his new position in the Santiago cartel. Although King is still involved in illegal business, he does become more levelheaded. This can be seen in the scene when he is arrested by his stepfather for a jewelry heist. In the past, he usually put up a fight, but this time, he keeps his cool. He just wants to do his time, get his sentence over so that he can get back to business.

Behind Bars

Most of his downtime is not described or shared in DAF or AOD, but I can tell you that he spent most of his time developing several business plans including one to start his own record label (King Records). A millionaire before the age of eighteen (due to his father’s constant financial support), his money nearly doubled because of his involvement with the Santiago cartel. It is with this money that he plans to fund his record label along with two silent partners.

King’s Future

I will go on record and say that King has a bright future ahead of him. After he is released, you will see more of this as he branches out and creates his own businesses. He also becomes more of his own person and gets out of his father’s shadow.

Tidbits about Jayceon King Santiago

-Jayceon is normally pronounced Jay-see-on, but his name is actually Jason which is a play on Jay’s son

-He is short for a male, only 5’9 and weighs approximately 160 lbs.

-He keeps his hair cut low and closely resembles his great-grandfather, Vincent Santiago (Hector’s father).

– He changed his name to Jayceon (first name) King (middle name) Santiago (last name) when he was nineteen years old to reflect his true parentage.

-The collection, King, manufactured by Flame is named after him.

-His love interest is Coco Masterson, who is best friends with his sister, Kristian.

Something else you want to know? Feel free to leave a comment!

Behind the Book: Rakim Washington


ImageRakim Washington was a character that most readers took a liking to at the beginning of the series. In a way, this was intentional when I was writing his character because I wanted him to be the perfect balance between Jay and Kane. On one side, he was the good guy who was in college (Rakim attended Brookstone University with Carmen) and wanted to go to medical school and on the other; he was the guy who ran the streets to provide for himself financially.

Rakim became dependent on the drug game after his parents were killed in a car accident, which was caused by a tornado three years prior to the start of the novel. He, along with his fraternal twin brother, Malik, were barely out of high school when they linked up with Jay and joined the Santiago cartel. Although Rakim was a drug dealer, he was not as deep in the game as his brother. Rakim’s passion was education and selling drugs was merely a way for him to fund his dream.

In addition to being a college student, Rakim was looking to pledge the fictional Theta Beta Psi Fraternity. In an earlier post of Behind the Book, I discussed my reasoning behind having him join a fictional fraternity versus an organization that was part of the Divine Nine (see Behind the Book: Brookstone University). If you’ve read Diamonds in the Rough, then you are well aware that Rakim never completed his pledge process due to unfortunate events.

Rakim’s demise was the main turning point in the story. It is the dividing line between the “good Carmen,” and the “bad Carmen.” I honestly believe that if Rakim was still living that Carmen wouldn’t have done half of the things that she did. His passing left her without a confidante and made her more susceptible to temptation and greed.

What do you think? If Rakim had of lived, would Carmen have gotten into that much devilment? Feel free to share your thoughts!

Tidbits on Rakim

-Although he and Malik would be confused for identical twins, they are actually fraternal because Rakim has a mole on his face. This is used to distinguish between the two.

-He was a Biology major at Brookstone University

-He once claimed to work at the pharmacy at Kroger to hide his true occupation

-He dated Carmen’s best friend, Monifah, which he kept a secret for the majority of the book

-In his honor, Carmen named her second biological son (Malachi is adopted) after him. Her son’s full name is Rakim Antonio Kane.

Behind the Book: Michael Antonio Kane


I think that it is only fair to say that Kane is a character that I still haven’t figured out yet. When I first introduced him in Diamonds in the Rough, my plan was for him to be the reincarnation of Rakim. I wanted him to be the good Christian guy that rescued Carmen from Jay and was also the polar opposite of him.

Then, while writing the novel, I created a twist in the storyline and revealed that he was a Triad agent (the Triad is a fictional government agency, somewhat of a mix between the FBI and DEA). Some readers were already suspicious of him because he was so accommodating to Carmen and wasn’t that surprised when I revealed the secret. However, I took it a step further with his dramatic turn in Diamonds is Forever.

My whole plan for him being the perfect man for Carmen was now officially out the door.

As I continue writing the series, I see now that I am showing more of his alter ego than the real him. The “real Kane” is the man that Carmen met inside of her store and fell in love with. His alter ego is the one who pins her down in the bed, calls her out her name, and is quick-tempered. This is the same alter ego that Kane uses when he goes undercover.

In terms of Kane’s background, I shall start with the origin of his character. In one of the earlier versions of Diamonds in the Rough, Kane was actually the name of Jay’s character. Somehow, I ended up sending that version to the chop shop. There was also another version of the book where I introduced Kane at the beginning of the story as an up and coming clothing store owner who was Carmen’s competitor. I actually kept part of this storyline for the current version of Diamonds in the Rough.

Originally, I didn’t plan on giving him a full name until I decided that his character would be prevalent throughout the series. I settled on his first name being Michael and his middle name Antonio, which doesn’t have any real major significance. As for his moniker, “Kane,” he started using it when he went undercover as a drug dealer. Since his product of choice was cocaine, “Kane,” seemed to be the perfect name for someone who was posing as a Jamaican drug lord.

In addition, Kane was born and raised in New York and his family (his parents and sister) currently lives in Manhattan. Right now, I am unsure if they will play a bigger role in the series than what they do. With the way the storyline is going, I don’t really see them fitting in unless I squeezed them into book five (tentatively titled Diamonds N’ Roses).

Of course, I can always change my mind.

When it comes to Kane’s physical characteristics, his looks are somewhat similar to Lotus’. He’s dark-skinned, bald-headed, about 6’2 and weighs approximately 200 lbs. He is also very muscular. Several people have told me that they envision Tyrese when reading about Kane or D.B. Woodside who plays Malcolm Franks on VH1’s Single Ladies. In my personal opinion, I see more of Kane in D.B than Tyrese.

What do you think? Feel free to leave a comment!