Category Archives: Adult Fiction

Announcements of new fiction by and about African Americans

Ebony Magazine July 2014

Ebony Magazine’s Book Feature for July 2014

Ebony Magazine’s book selections for July 2014, featuring their “Summer Must-Reads” (J.J. Murray’s “Until I Saw Your Smile,” Gillian Royes’ “The Sea Grape Tree,” and Tiphanie Yamique’s “Land of Love and Drowning”), Toni Braxton’s memoir “Unbreak My Heart,” and T.D. Jakes’ “Instinct”:

Michael Jackson, Inc.: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of a Billion-Dollar Empire

by Zack O’Malley Greenburg

Atria Books, June 3, 2014, Hardcover

The surprising rags-to-riches-to-rags-to-riches story of how Michael Jackson grew a billion-dollar business.

Michael Jackson is known by many as the greatest entertainer of all time, but he was also a revolutionary when it came to business. In addition to famously buying the Beatles’ publishing catalogue, Jackson was one of the first pop stars to launch his own clothing line, record label, sneakers, and video games — creating a fundamental shift in the monetization of fame and paving the way for entertainer-entrepreneurs like Jay Z and Diddy. All told, Jackson earned more than $1.1 billion in his solo career, and the assets he built in life have earned more than $700 million in the five years since his death — more than any other solo music act over that time.

Michael Jackson, Inc. reveals the incredible rise, fall, and rise again of Michael Jackson’s fortune — driven by the unmatched perfectionism of the King of Pop. Forbes senior editor Zack O’Malley Greenburg uncovers never-before-told stories from interviews with more than 100 people, including music industry veterans Berry Gordy, John Branca, and Walter Yetnikoff; artists 50 Cent, Sheryl Crow, and Jon Bon Jovi; and members of the Jackson family. Other insights come from court documents and Jackson’s private notes, some of them previously unpublished. Through Greenburg’s novelistic telling, a clear picture emerges of Jackson’s early years, his rise to international superstardom, his decline — fueled by demons internal and external, as well as the dissolution of the team that helped him execute his best business moves — and, finally, his financial life after death.

Underlying Jackson’s unique history is the complex but universal tale of the effects of wealth and fame on the human psyche. A valuable case study for generations of entertainers to come and for anyone interested in show business, Michael Jackson, Inc. tells the story of a man whose financial feats, once obscured by his late-life travails, have become an enduring legacy.

Listen Out Loud: A Life in Music–Managing McCartney, Madonna, and Michael Jackson

Ron Weisner

Lyons Press, June 3, 2014, Hardcover

Even hardcore music fans don’t know the name Ron Weisner . . . but they should. A high-powered manager for over four decades, Ron worked alongside Madonna, Paul McCartney, Steve Winwood, Gladys Knight, Curtis Mayfield, Bill Withers, and, most notably, Michael Jackson. He saw the King of Pop through his game-changing multi-platinum albums Thriller and Off the Wall. He watched M.J.’s prickly father Joe run roughshod over both his son and industry execs. He fought back as the industry tried to steer Jackson in a musical direction that would have derailed his career. And he saw Michael suffer through devastating press coverage that turned the troubled singer’s world upside down.

Featuring an introduction from Quincy Jones and commentary from Winwood, Knight, and some behind-the-scenes record label power brokers, Weisner’s illuminating memoir Listen Out Loud underscores the destructive changes to the industry during his forty-year career, including the shift in focus from artistic integrity to the pursuit of cold hard numbers. It’s an intimate glimpse into the music world from a man with a keen eye, sharp ears, and a big heart.

Until I Saw Your Smile by J.J. Murray

Kensington, May 27, 2014, Paperback

At Smith’s Sweet Treats and Coffee, you’ll find Brooklyn’s best house blend and the freshest homemade pastries. It’s more than a business to owner Angela Smith. It’s her home and her refuge–one she stands to lose thanks to her gouging landlord. Then a new regular offers to cover her rent increase if Angela lets him meet his clients there. If Matthew McConnell weren’t such a persuasive lawyer–and so sweet, funny, and sexy–she wouldn’t dream of letting him in.

Since he left a high-paying, soul-sucking legal firm to go solo, Matthew has been striking out, professionally and personally. The best part of his love life is regaling Angela with date-from-hell stories over steaming, fragrant coffee. Behind her captivating smile is a smart, sensual woman he’d love to get close to. And when a secret from her past is suddenly exposed, he gets a chance to prove he’s the man she needs, in every way that matters. . .

The Sea Grape Tree: A Novel (Shad Myers)
Gillian Royes

Atria Books, July 1, 2014, Paperback

Set in a sun-kissed Caribbean paradise, this third book in the Shad detective series explores a love triangle gone wrong — and how class divisions create a perfect storm of trouble.

Sarah, a talented but shy artist from England, arrives at the perfect getaway — a small fishing village in Largo Bay, Jamaica. There she falls in love with Danny, a wealthy investor with a hotel in Largo Bay. Soon Sarah runs afoul of her host as well as Danny’s local lover, and her fate, as well as that of Danny’s hotel, become endangered.

Meanwhile, Shad Myers — bartender by trade, investigator by vocation, and unofficial sheriff of Largo Bay — has another set of problems to solve, alongside his friend Eric, an American who owns the bar. The two friends entertain a new potential investor in their quest to rebuild their hotel left in ruins by a hurricane. Eric wants to make Shad a partner in the business, not just a worker. But first the two must overcome the class divisions that make it difficult for local partners in the business to accept Shad’s new, more important role.

With a delicious blend of suspense and soul, The Sea Grape Tree explores the class divisions in Jamaica — and what happens when a love triangle becomes life threatening. Gillian Royes once again delivers a vivid, thought-provoking novel with passion and punch that is sure to leave her fans wanting more.

Land of Love and Drowning: A Novel by Tiphanie Yanique

Riverhead Hardcover, July 10, 2014, Hardcover

A major debut from an award-winning writer—an epic family saga set against the magic and the rhythms of the Virgin Islands.

In the early 1900s, the Virgin Islands are transferred from Danish to American rule, and an important ship sinks into the Caribbean Sea. Orphaned by the shipwreck are two sisters and their half brother, now faced with an uncertain identity and future. Each of them is unusually beautiful, and each is in possession of a particular magic that will either sink or save them.

Chronicling three generations of an island family from 1916 to the 1970s, Land of Love and Drowning is a novel of love and magic, set against the emergence of Saint Thomas into the modern world. Uniquely imagined, with echoes of Toni Morrison, Gabriel Garci­a Marquez, and the author’s own Caribbean family history, the story is told in a language and rhythm that evoke an entire world and way of life and love. Following the Bradshaw family through sixty years of fathers and daughters, mothers and sons, love affairs, curses, magical gifts, loyalties, births, deaths, and triumphs, Land of Love and Drowning is a gorgeous, vibrant debut by an exciting, prizewinning young writer.

The African-American Guide to Divorce & Drama: Breaking Up Without Breaking Down
by Lester L. Barclay

Khari Publishing Ltd, June 27, 2013, Hardcover

The first-ever comprehensive book on divorce tailored specifically for the black community, The African-American Guide to Divorce & Drama is a 277-page guide that skillfully shepherds readers through the often painful process of separation and divorce, while seeking to minimize the “drama” and trauma for them and their children. Its message focuses primarily on divorce and non-marital separation, alongside custody, visitation, child support, financial disputes, and related issues in the context of African-American cultural and social realities.

Get Married This Year: 365 Days to “I Do” by Dr. Janet Blair Page

Adams Media, December 18, 2011, Hardcover

Forget waiting for Mr. Right! You can go out and find “The One” yourself when you follow this plan. Celebrated relationship expert Dr. Janet Blair Page has distilled the very best of her acclaimed dating class at Emory University — the one covered by CNN, FOX, Good Morning America, and The Early Show — into this one-of-a-kind book. She’s helped bring thousands of singles true love — and now it’s your turn!

Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison
Nell Bernstein

New Press, The June 3, 2014, Hardcover

When teenagers scuffle during a basketball game, they are typically benched. But when Will got into it on the court, he and his rival were sprayed in the face at close range by a chemical similar to Mace, denied a shower for twenty-four hours, and then locked in solitary confinement for a month.

One in three American children will be arrested by the time they are twenty-three, and many will spend time locked inside horrific detention centers that defy everything we know about how to rehabilitate young offenders. In a clear-eyed indictment of the juvenile justice system run amok, award-winning journalist Nell Bernstein shows that there is no right way to lock up a child. The very act of isolation denies delinquent children the thing that is most essential to their growth and rehabilitation: positive relationships with caring adults.

Bernstein introduces us to youth across the nation who have suffered violence and psychological torture at the hands of the state. She presents these youths all as fully realized people, not victims. As they describe in their own voices their fight to maintain their humanity and protect their individuality in environments that would deny both, these young people offer a hopeful alternative to the doomed effort to reform a system that should only be dismantled.

Burning Down the House is a clarion call to shut down our nation’s brutal and counterproductive juvenile prisons and bring our children home.

Land of Shadows by Rachel Howzell Hall

Forge Books
June 10, 2014

Along the ever changing border of gentrifying Los Angeles, seventeen year old Monique Darson is found dead at a condominium construction site, hanging in the closet of an unfinished unit. Homicide detective Elouise “Lou” Norton’s new partner, Colin Taggert, fresh from the comparatively bucolic Colorado Springs police department, assumes it’s a teenage suicide. Lou isn’t buying the easy explanation.

For one thing, the condo site is owned by Napoleon Crase, a self made millionaire. . .and the man who may have murdered Lou’s missing sister, Tori, thirty years ago. As Lou investigates the death of Monique Darson, she uncovers undeniable links between the two cases. But her department is skeptical. Lou is convinced that when she solves Monique’s case she will finally bring her lost sister home. But as she gets closer to the truth, she also gets closer to a violent killer. After all this time, can he be brought to justice. . .before Lou becomes his next victim?

The Reunion by Charles L Freeman Jr

MEG Books
November 15, 2013

The Reunion is the story of four lifelong friends attending their 20-year high school reunion. It’s also the tale of two love stories: one that involves a long marriage and one that involves a couple who broke up years ago and still have unresolved issues between them. Over the course of a long weekend in San Diego, California, the four friends will catch up with each other and come to grips with a past tragedy that strengthens the bond between. The author takes readers deep into the life of Lorenzo (Chocks) Taylor, an award-winning music producer and record company executive who’s at a crossroads in his professional and personal lives. Step inside Lorenzo’s fast-paced world of music, money, power, jealousy and corporate intrigue as he tries to remain true to his beliefs and his friends.

8th Annual Leimert Park Village Book Fair, August 9, 2014

Saturday 8/9/14, 10am-6pm
Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza

This year’s theme is, “1970-1979: A Decade of Self-Expression” and this year’s Legacy Awards will be honoring “Good Times” TV Show creator, Eric Monte and the legendary, Stevie Wonder.

Please join Charles L. Freeman, Jr at this year’s Book Fair where he’ll be selling and signing his self-published romantic novel, The Reunion.

Look out for Lil Nay Nay’s, “Rising Star” tribute to Earth, Wind and Fire on the main performance stage! Also, her new song, “Gotta Get Mine” at the Children’s Stage!

Author Earl Middleton

Interview with Earl Middleton

Author Earl MiddletonAuthor Earl Middleton

Earl Middleton earned a BBA in accounting from Adelphi University and an M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, then went on to preach more than 2,000 sermons, create over 400 YouTube teaching videos, and write 10 books under the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

A former pastor of congregations in NY, NJ, CT, and CA, he loves preaching and teaching the Word of God across multiple platforms despite his retirement from the pastorate after 22 years of service. He is a past member of the Professional Comedians’ Association, and the creator of the Internet’s first Christian dramedic series, Fine Church Girls.

A longtime member of Mensa, Earl lives in Los Angeles with his family and throws up a whole buncha shots a day at his local YMCA. He’s currently at work navigating new, hilarious plot twists with Pastor Tony Hook and the rest of the zany characters of the First Baptist Church of Belton, NJ. He is available for revivals, preaching engagements, family healing seminars, writing workshops, and basketball jumpshot coaching.

(1) “Christian and Urban Fiction are bestsellers in African American literature. It appears that you have combined elements of both in your character Pastor Tony Hooks in My Pastor Didn’t Do It. What makes him stand out?”
Tony Hook is a unique character in African American literature primarily because he’s both an urbane and urban black Christian who happens to be the pastor of a traditional black church. His anointing definitely doesn’t match his ministry, and the many molehills that surround his life keep erupting into mountains too difficult for him to scale by himself. He’s the rare example in African American literature of a pastor who is lovable, believes that a merry heart does good like a medicine, and yet lives the kind of clean life that necessarily draws trouble like a magnet. As Paul said, “I find then a law that when I would do good evil is present with me.” With the plethora of shady, hypocritical, and acutely flawed pastoral characters currently flooding the urban Christian fiction landscape, Tony Hook is my response from the other side of the altar. I’ve pastored churches like First Baptist and lived in communities like Belton, so I bring a layer of realism to the character while having a ball inventing new ways for him to get stuck at Baal-Zephon, between a rock and a hard place…or the Red Sea. I believe there’s both room and need in African American literature for a fictional pastor cast as an edgy good guy to restore the audience’s faith in the black pulpit.

(2)What elements, such as setting, character, and plot, drive your story? Are there any personal inspirations in your story?
There’s a strong sense of place in my fiction writing, and I’ve been told that my stories are very descriptive and many of the characters are memorable. But because I’m writing a classic whodunit mystery to introduce Tony Hook and the My Pastor series, I’ve leaned heavily on plot to drive the story. I want readers to wonder what’s going to happen next, and have a difficult time figuring out who did it (obviously, from the title, it wasn’t the pastor…or was it? LOL). The central idea for this story actually comes from a real life cold case murder that took place at one the congregations I pastored…after I left, of course! I wondered what it would have been like if the murder happened while I was still the pastor of that congregation, and before I knew it I had a full length novel on my hands.

(3) There are so many characters in your story. What’s next for them? Do you have any favorites that are going to have their own stories?
Although I write fiction (and non-fiction) I’m really a prophet at heart, and believe that every person’s story is the most important event in their world. As a result I really think there are no minor characters in life, and I bring that conviction to my fiction writing. I wish I had the time to tell all of my characters’ stories in full, and perhaps one day I’ll have enough time to do that. Until then I’ll have to settle on my plans to spin off both Mother Freddy, the gun-toting, sombrero wearing matron of First Baptist Belton, and Cornel Brown, the white pastor with the sweetest whoop in Newark who claims to be a descendent of John Brown, the Harper’s Ferry dude.

(4)What is on your bookshelf or nightstand? Do you have any favorite authors?
Right now on my nightstand there’s an iPad with the Kindle app. I’m totally hooked on digital media. I’ve gotten over paper a long time ago. When it comes to fiction I like a hip, urgent, urbane voice, so I’m drawn to people like John Ridley, Paul Beatty, and Adam Mansbach. I love mysteries and still enjoy rereading Walter Mosley, Janet Evanovich (she’s hilarious), and even Valerie Wilson Wesley. I don’t read a lot of Christian fiction, urban nor prairie, but I respect what Brenda Barrett is doing. That woman’s a machine! When it comes to non-fiction I’m drawn to anything that looks at left brain stuff from a right brain perspective. I’ve been reading a lot of Daniel Pink lately, and of course Seth Godin is required reading for anyone who wants to build or create something salient. And, believe it or not, I do read the Bible. A lot. Still. ;-)

My Pastor Didn’t Do It by Earl Middleton
Food for Faith Publications, September 22, 2013, Paperback

Pastor Tony Hook is everybody’s favorite preacher in the quiet Newark suburb of Belton, NJ. Well, almost everybody’s. Conflicts, tensions, and resolutions grace every turn of this clean and humorous black church caper. And it’s all from the witty mind and converted heart of a real seminary trained preacher with 22 years of pastoral experience.

When the sexy Anemone Allon’s body turns up in her basement naked, sporting a hole through the head, the only evidence recovered from the scene is Hook’s DNA, and all he can offer for an alibi is that he was alone in his study, praying for Anemone’s soul. And his own. Of course, golden-eyed detective Sgt. Chris Sears sets her sights on him as her prime suspect, jeopardizing his future at any church, and Pastor Hook launches his own investigation into the murder. With an anonymous rival who will stop at nothing to get him out of the way, and a crusty trustee who will try almost anything to get rid of him also breathing down his neck, only heaven can help Hook out of this mess, but God has chosen this time to go silent on him. Pursued by good and hounded by evil, poisoned by deadly wildlife and stricken with writer’s block, Pastor Hook must overcome Jobian loss and ugly suits, resist witchcraft, brave fire, dodge bullets, survive explosions, and tame ravenous beasts to track down the killer.

As the body count rises, and in spite of “help” from his iconoclastic best buddy, Rev. Cornel Brown, and his nutty adopted mother, Freddie Pearl, Hook unravels the mystery, exposing the killer in a final confrontation before the entire Belton community. In the end almost no one is who they appeared to be in this clerical romp, and Hook realizes that even for pastors some cliches are built on truth: home is where the heart is, and the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

Forty Acres: A Thriller by Dwayne Alexander Smith

What if overcoming the legacy of American slavery meant bringing back that very institution? A young black attorney is thrown headlong into controversial issues of race and power in this page-turning and provocative new novel.

Martin Grey, a smart, talented black lawyer working out of a storefront in Queens, becomes friendly with a group of some of the most powerful, wealthy, and esteemed black men in America. He’s dazzled by what they’ve accomplished, and they seem to think he has the potential to be as successful as they are. They invite him for a weekend away from it all — no wives, no cell phones, no talk of business. But far from home and cut off from everyone he loves, he discovers a disturbing secret that challenges some of his deepest convictions!

Martin finds out that his glittering new friends are part of a secret society dedicated to the preservation of the institution of slavery — but this time around, the black men are called “Master.” Joining them seems to guarantee a future without limits; rebuking them almost certainly guarantees his death. Trapped inside a picture-perfect, make-believe world that is home to a frightening reality, Martin must find a way out that will allow him to stay alive without becoming the very thing he hates.

A novel of rage and compassion, good and evil, trust and betrayal, Forty Acres is the thought-provoking story of one man’s desperate attempt to escape the clutches of a terrifying new moral order.

Laws of Wrath by Eriq La Salle



4 Clay Productions
July 1, 2014
Paperback

Chinatown, New York – The butchered body of a transvestite is found in a dumpster. Nothing out of the ordinary for NYPD, except the victim just so happens to be the brother of Detective Phee Freeman. At first the slaying looks like the random act of a vicious killer, but when it is discovered that there are similar ritualistic murders throughout the city, Phee and his partner Quincy Cavanaugh, along with FBI Agent Janet Maclin, have no choice but to join forces with Dr. Daria Zibik, a brilliant but deranged cult leader. With the clock running down and bodies piling up, Phee and his partners must do everything they can to stop the bloodshed and determine if the evil they are hunting and the psychopath they are trusting could actually be one in the same.


Laws of Depravity

In a 30-year murder spree, the Martyr Maker has left behind a legacy of torture and fear: 36 clergymen butchered in twisted scenes reflecting the martyrdom of the twelve Apostles. The same M.O. — Twelve murders. Every ten years. All of the victims preachers and priests. And now, the Martyr Maker is back.

The recent murder of a local priest signals the beginning of another three-week kill cycle. It falls to NYPD detectives Quincy Cavanaugh and Phee Freeman and FBI agent Janet Maclin to catch the killer even though dark family secrets, the need for revenge, and hidden agendas frustrate the team at every turn. If they stand any chance of stopping the relentless serial killer, they each must first confront their own depravities that threaten to destroy them as readily as the monster they are chasing.

This is the first in a trilogy.

Forever an Ex: A Novel by Victoria Christopher Murray



Touchstone
June 17, 2014
Paperback

Three Los Angeles women who’ve helped each other overcome heartbreak are reunited eight years later when their troublesome exes come back into the picture in this follow up to Victoria Christopher Murray‘s bestselling novel The Ex Files.

Sheridan, Kendall, and Asia first bonded when they met seven years ago at a church prayer support group and now, their friendship has blossomed into a strong sisterhood. They’ve helped each other through the tragedies of their breakups and together, they’ve celebrated their triumphs. But now, their exes are back, wreaking havoc on lives they’ve work so hard to rebuild.

Sheridan has found love again after her ex-husband left her for a man. But old wounds are reopened when her ex-husband appears with his fiance’s woman! And all of Sheridan’s insecurities and doubts come rushing back. Kendall’s former husband is now married to Kendall’s sister, Sabrina. And though Kendall has refused to interact with either one in the last seven years, she’s forced to reunite with Sabrina when their father is diagnosed with cancer. Asia has done her best to move away from her married boyfriend, a former star with the LA Lakers. But when they share a kiss, old desires are rekindled and Asia decides that it’s time for her and Bobby Johnson to get back together again.

The Root’s Summer Reading List

The Root’s book selections for the Summer of 2014, featuring “Book of Hours” by Kevin Young, “Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson” by Barbara Ransby, “Harlem Nocturne: Women Artists and Progressive Politics During World War II” by Farah Jasmine Griffin:

Book of Hours: Poems by Kevin Young

A decade after the sudden and tragic loss of his father, we witness the unfolding of grief. “In the night I brush / my teeth with a razor,” he tells us, in one of the collection’s piercing two-line poems. Capturing the strange silence of bereavement (“Not the storm / but the calm / that slays me”), Kevin Young acknowledges, even celebrates, life’s passages, his loss transformed and tempered in a sequence about the birth of his son: in “Crowning,” he delivers what is surely one of the most powerful birth poems written by a man, describing “her face / full of fire, then groaning your face / out like a flower, blood-bloom,/ crocused into air.” Ending this book of both birth and grief, the gorgeous title sequence brings acceptance, asking “What good/are wishes if they aren’t / used up?” while understanding “How to listen / to what’s gone.” Young’s frank music speaks directly to the reader in these elemental poems, reminding us that the right words can both comfort us and enlarge our understanding of life’s mysteries.

Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson by Barbara Ransby

Eslanda “Essie” Cardozo Goode Robeson lived a colorful and amazing life. Her career and commitments took her many places: colonial Africa in 1936, the front lines of the Spanish Civil War, the founding meeting of the United Nations, Nazi-occupied Berlin, Stalin’s Russia, and China two months after Mao’s revolution. She was a woman of unusual accomplishment — an anthropologist, a prolific journalist, a tireless advocate of women’s rights, an outspoken anti-colonial and antiracist activist, and an internationally sought-after speaker. Yet historians for the most part have confined Essie to the role of Mrs. Paul Robeson, a wife hidden in the large shadow cast by her famous husband. In this masterful book, biographer Barbara Ransby refocuses attention on Essie, one of the most important and fascinating black women of the twentieth century.

Chronicling Essie’s eventful life, the book explores her influence on her husband’s early career and how she later achieved her own unique political voice. Essie’s friendships with a host of literary icons and world leaders, her renown as a fierce defender of justice, her defiant testimony before Senator Joseph McCarthy’s infamous anti-communist committee, and her unconventional open marriage that endured for over 40 years—all are brought to light in the pages of this inspiring biography. Essie’s indomitable personality shines through, as do her contributions to United States and twentieth-century world history.

Harlem Nocturne: Women Artists and Progressive Politics During World War II
by Farah Jasmine Griffin

As World War II raged overseas, Harlem witnessed a battle of its own. Brimming with creative and political energy, the neighborhood’s diverse array of artists and activists took advantage of a brief period of progressivism during the war years to launch a bold cultural offensive aimed at winning democracy for all Americans, regardless of race or gender. Ardent believers in America’s promise, these men and women helped to lay the groundwork for the Civil Rights Movement before Cold War politics and anti-Communist fervor temporarily froze their dreams at the dawn of the postwar era.

In Harlem Nocturne, esteemed scholar Farah Jasmine Griffin tells the stories of three black female artists whose creative and political efforts fueled this historic movement for change: choreographer and dancer Pearl Primus, composer and pianist Mary Lou Williams, and novelist Ann Petry. Like many African Americans in the city at the time, these women weren’t native New Yorkers, but the metropolis and its vibrant cultural scene gave them the space to flourish and the freedom to express their political concerns. Pearl Primus performed nightly at the legendary Cafe Society, the first racially integrated club in New York, where she debuted dances of social protest that drew on long-buried African traditions and the dances of former slaves in the South. Williams, meanwhile, was a major figure in the emergence of bebop, collaborating with Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, and Bud Powell and premiering her groundbreaking Zodiac Suite at the legendary performance space Town Hall. And Ann Petry conveyed the struggles of working-class black women to a national audience with her acclaimed novel The Street, which sold over a million copies — a first for a female African American author.

A rich biography of three artists and the city that inspired them, Harlem Nocturne captures a period of unprecedented vitality and progress for African Americans and women, revealing a cultural movement and a historical moment whose influence endures today.


The Cutting Season: A Novel by Attica Locke

Attica Locke‘s breathtaking debut novel, Black Water Rising, won resounding acclaim from major publications coast-to-coast and from respected crime fiction masters like James Ellroy and George Pelecanos, earning this exciting new author comparisons to Dennis Lehane, Scott Turow, and Walter Mosley. Locke returns with The Cutting Season, a second novel easily as gripping and powerful as her first — a heart-pounding thriller that interweaves two murder mysteries, one on Belle Vie, a historic landmark in the middle of Lousiana’s Sugar Cane country, and one involving a slave gone missing more than one hundred years earlier. Black Water Rising was nominated for a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, an Edgar Award, and an NAACP Image Award, and was short-listed for the Orange Prize in the U.K. The Cutting Season has been selected by bestselling author Dennis Lehane as the first pick for his new line of books at HarperCollins.

Men We Reaped: A Memoir by Jesmyn Ward

“We saw the lightning and that was the guns; and then we heard the thunder and that was the big guns; and then we heard the rain falling and that was the blood falling; and when we came to get in the crops, it was dead men that we reaped.” — Harriet Tubman

In five years, Jesmyn Ward lost five young men in her life — to drugs, accidents, suicide, and the bad luck that can follow people who live in poverty, particularly black men. Dealing with these losses, one after another, made Jesmyn ask the question: Why? And as she began to write about the experience of living through all the dying, she realized the truth — and it took her breath away. Her brother and her friends all died because of who they were and where they were from, because they lived with a history of racism and economic struggle that fostered drug addiction and the dissolution of family and relationships. Jesmyn says the answer was so obvious she felt stupid for not seeing it. But it nagged at her until she knew she had to write about her community, to write their stories and her own.

Jesmyn grew up in poverty in rural Mississippi. She writes powerfully about the pressures this brings, on the men who can do no right and the women who stand in for family in a society where the men are often absent. She bravely tells her story, revisiting the agonizing losses of her only brother and her friends. As the sole member of her family to leave home and pursue higher education, she writes about this parallel American universe with the objectivity distance provides and the intimacy of utter familiarity. A brutal world rendered beautifully, Jesmyn Ward’s memoir will sit comfortably alongside Edwidge Danticat’s Brother, I’m Dying, Tobias Wolff’s This Boy’s Life, and Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

Essence Magazine, June-2014

Essence Magazine’s Book Features for June 2014

Essence Magazine’s book selections for June 2014, featuring their “Summer Reading Challenge” (Wendy Williams’ “Hold Me in Contempt,” Walter Mosley’s “Debbie Doesn’t Do It Anymore,” Morowa Yejide’s “Time of the Locust,” Cynthia Bond’s “Ruby,” Lauren Francis-Sharma’s’s “‘Til the Well Runs Dry,” and Elizabeth Nunez’ “Not for Everyday Use”), Toni Braxton’s memoir “Unbreak My Heart,” and T.D. Jakes’ “Instinct”:

Hold Me in Contempt: A Romance by Wendy Williams

Move over 50 Shades, there’s a new romance in town. Superstar Wendy Williams brings on the heat in her first ever, no-holds-barred, down and dirty, romance novel.

Kimberly Kind is trying to get beyond her roots. A successful, beautiful, smart lawyer, she’s finally finding direction in her life and getting out of the streets. But a terrible accident threatens to throw her carefully laid plans off course. Now Kim’s hiding a huge secret — one that could threaten everything.

Enter King. A perfect mix of Justin Timberlake and David Beckham, the man oozes sex and has more swagger than anyone Kim’s ever met. Their chemistry is off the charts. But after passion-filled nights, the intensity of their emotions takes both of them by surprise.

Love was not supposed to be an option. Now it’s the only thing holding them together. When their pasts come back with a vengeance, can love possibly be enough?

Debbie Doesn’t Do It Anymore: A Novel by Walter Mosley

In this scorching, mournful, often explicit, and never less than moving literary novel by the famed creator of the Easy Rawlins series, Debbie Dare, a black porn queen, has to come to terms with her sordid life in the adult entertainment industry after her tomcatting husband dies in a hot tub. Electrocuted. With another woman in there with him. Debbie decides she just isn’t going to “do it anymore.” But executing her exit strategy from the porn world is a wrenching and far from simple process.

Millions of men (and no doubt many women) have watched famed black porn queen Debbie Dare — she of the blond wig and blue contacts — “do it” on television and computer screens every which way with every combination of partners the mind of man can imagine. But one day an unexpected and thunderous on-set orgasm catches Debbie unawares, and when she returns to the mansion she shares with her husband, insatiable former porn star and “film producer” Theon Pinkney, she discovers that he’s died in a case of hot tub electrocution, “auditioning” an aspiring “starlet.” Burdened with massive debts that her husband incurred, and which various L.A. heavies want to collect on, Debbie must reckon with a life spent in the peculiar subculture of the pornography industry and her estrangement from her family and the child she had to give up. She’s done with porn, but her options for what might come next include the possibility of suicide. Debbie . . . is a portrait of a ransacked but resilient soul in search of salvation and a cure for grief.

Time of the Locust: A Novel by Morowa Yejide

Travel into the heart and mind of an extraordinary autistic boy in this deeply imaginative debut novel of a mother’s devotion, a father’s punishment, and the power of love.

Sephiri is an autistic boy who lives in a world of his own making, where he dwells among imagined sea creatures that help him process information in the “real world” in which he is forced to live. But lately he has been having dreams of a mysterious place, and he starts creating fantastical sketches of this strange, inner world.

Brenda, Sephiri’s mother, struggles with raising her challenged child alone. Her only wish is to connect with him — a smile on his face would be a triumph. Meanwhile, Sephiri’s father, Horus, is sentenced to life in prison, making life even lonelier for Brenda and Sephiri. Yet prison is still not enough to separate father and son. In the seventh year of his imprisonment and the height of his isolation, Horus develops supernatural mental abilities that allow him to reach his son. Memory and yearning carry him outside his body, and through the realities of their ordeals and dreamscape, Horus and Sephiri find each other — and find hope in ways never imagined.

Deftly portrayed by the remarkable and talented up-and-comer Morowa Yejide, Time of the Locust is a brilliant narrative about the psychological realms of solitude, youth, and wonder. At its heart, this is a harrowing, surreal, and redemptive journey to the union of a family.

Ruby: A Novel by Cynthia Bond

The epic, unforgettable story of a man determined to protect the woman he loves from the town desperate to destroy her — this beautiful and devastating debut heralds the arrival of a major new voice in fiction.

Ephram Jennings has never forgotten the beautiful girl with the long braids running through the piney woods of Liberty, their small East Texas town. Young Ruby, “the kind of pretty it hurt to look at,” has suffered beyond imagining, so as soon as she can, she flees suffocating Liberty for the bright pull of 1950s New York. Ruby quickly winds her way into the ripe center of the city–the darkened piano bars and hidden alleyways of the Village–all the while hoping for a glimpse of the red hair and green eyes of her mother. When a telegram from her cousin forces her to return home, thirty-year-old Ruby Bell finds herself reliving the devastating violence of her girlhood. With the terrifying realization that she might not be strong enough to fight her way back out again, Ruby struggles to survive her memories of the town’s dark past. Meanwhile, Ephram must choose between loyalty to the sister who raised him and the chance for a life with the woman he has loved since he was a boy.

Full of life, exquisitely written, and suffused with the pastoral beauty of the rural South, Ruby is a transcendent novel of passion and courage. This wondrous page-turner rushes through the red dust and gossip of Main Street, to the pit fire where men swill bootleg outside Bloom’s Juke, to Celia Jennings’s kitchen where a cake is being made, yolk by yolk, that Ephram will use to try to begin again with Ruby. Utterly transfixing, with unforgettable characters, riveting suspense, and breathtaking, luminous prose, Ruby offers an unflinching portrait of man’s dark acts and the promise of the redemptive power of love.

‘Til the Well Runs Dry: A Novel by Lauren Francis-Sharma

A glorious and moving multi-generational, multicultural saga that begins in the 1940s and sweeps through the 1960′s in Trinidad and the United States.

Lauren Francis-Sharma‘s ‘Til the Well Runs Dry opens in a seaside village in the north of Trinidad where young Marcia Garcia, a gifted and smart-mouthed 16-year-old seamstress, lives alone, raising two small boys and guarding a family secret. When she meets Farouk Karam, an ambitious young policeman (so taken with Marcia that he elicits the help of a tea-brewing obeah woman to guarantee her ardor), the risks and rewards in Marcia’s life amplify forever.

On an island rich with laughter, Calypso, Carnival, cricket, beaches and salty air, sweet fruits and spicy stews, the novel follows Marcia and Farouk from their amusing and passionate courtship through personal and historical events that threaten Marcia’s secret, entangle the couple and their children in a scandal, and endanger the future for all of them.

‘Til the Well Runs Dry tells the twinned stories of a spirited woman’s love for one man and her bottomless devotion to her children. For readers who cherish the previously untold stories of women’s lives, here is a story of grit and imperfection and love that has not been told before.

Not for Everyday Use: A Memoir by Elizabeth Nunez

Tracing the four days from the moment she gets the call that every immigrant fears to the burial of her mother, Elizabeth Nunez tells the haunting story of her lifelong struggle to cope with the consequences of the “sterner stuff” of her parents’ ambitions for their children and her mother’s seemingly unbreakable conviction that displays of affection are not for everyday use.

But Nunez sympathizes with her parents, whose happiness is constrained by the oppressive strictures of colonialism, by the Catholic Church’s prohibition of artificial birth control which her mother obeys, terrified by the threat of eternal damnation (her mother gets pregnant fourteen times: nine live births and five miscarriages which almost kill her), and by what Malcolm Gladwell refers to as the “privilege of skin color” in his mother’s Caribbean island homeland where “the brown-skinned classes…came to fetishize their lightness.” Still, a fierce love holds this family together, and the passionate, though complex, love Nunez’s parents have for each other will remind readers of the passion between the aging lovers in Gabriel Garcia Marquez‘s Love in the Time of Cholera. Written in exquisite prose by a writer the New York Times Book Review calls “a master at pacing and plotting,” Not for Everyday Use is a page-turner that readers will find impossible to put down.

Unbreak My Heart: A Memoir by Toni Braxton

In this heartfelt memoir, six-time Grammy Award-winning artist and star of WE TV’s reality hit, Braxton Family Values, Toni Braxton writes about her personal life decisions and their impact on her health, family and career.

While Braxton appears to be living a gilded life — selling 60 million records, appearing in sold-out Las Vegas performances and hit shows like “Dancing with the Stars,” and starring in her own reality series — hers is in fact a tumultuous story, a tale of triumph over a life filled with obstacles, including two bankruptcy filings. The mother of an autistic child, Braxton long feared that her son’s condition might be karmic retribution for earlier life choices, some of which will shock fans. But when heart ailments began plaguing her at the age of 41 and she was diagnosed with Lupus, Braxton knew she had to move beyond the self-recrimination and take charge of her own healing.

Intensely honest and deeply inspirational, Unbreak My Heart is the never-before-told story of the measures Braxton took to make herself and her family whole again.

Instinct: The Power to Unleash Your Inborn Drive by T. D. Jakes

Modern life can seem like being lost in a jungle. With distractions and dangers emerging from every direction, it’s easy to lose focus. Over time, we lose touch with one of our most powerful, purposeful, God-given attributes–the desire to be fruitful and multiply, what Bishop T. D. Jakes calls our “instinct for increase.”

Combining historical, cultural, and personal examples with biblical insights, in INSTINCT, Bishop Jakes outlines how to re-discover your natural aptitudes and re-claim the wisdom of your past experiences. When attuned to divinely inspired instincts, you will become in sync with the opportunities life presents and discover a fresh abundance of resources. Knowing when to close a deal, when to take a risk, and when to listen to your heart will become possible when you’re in touch with the instincts that God gave you.

Bishop T.D. Jakes — iconic preacher, bestselling author, and entrepreneur–has inspired millions of people around the world. Here he writes from the peak of his personal power about how to experience the satisfaction of a life well lived. If you long to conquer the jungles of life, INSTINCT offers the personal and professional tools needed to navigate your course successfully and according to God’s design.

Angela Ardis

Interview with Angela Ardis

Angela ArdisAngela Ardis is an exceptional writer of animation, live production, television, film and ghostwriting. She’s also written children’s books, poetry books, erotica, fiction and memoirs. Angela reached international acclaim with her memoir entitled, “Inside A Thug’s Heart,” which was compiled of an exchange of letters, poetry and conversations with the late rapper Tupac Shakur which was published in hard cover in 2004, re-released in paperback in 2009 and an e-book released 2013. This award-nominated book was also translated into Polish.

After a year of co-hosting the internet radio show “Talk with Angela and Hank,” Angela joined as co-host of the popular internet radio show “Lipstick, High Heels and B.S.,” a no-nonsense internet platform that allows her and several co-hosts to express their views on sex, relationships, love, current events and life. Here she was given an opportunity to head two segments, “Shoe Lover Tuesday,” where she expresses details, information and tips for everything shoes and “Lipstick Letters” where she gives advice, help and opinions on questions asked by the public.

Angela Ardis has experienced some success in films (“Black and Blue” and “All I Want“) as well as television shows like (“The Wayan’s Brothers,” “In The House,” “Michael Hayes“). Modeling lent its hand to several projects (fashion shows: Reggio, Banu Paris, Farinae, Bonnie Strauss, and Don Sayres; print: regional and national magazines such as Today’s Black Woman, Today’s Black Man, Jet, Aloette, Profiles Magazine, Black Market, Silk2, Mallory Furs, Playboy).

She released several new projects in 2013: a poetry book “My Mind’s Poetry: Relationships,” a petite help book series for beginning writers “I Have a Story: Getting Started,” and her sophomore novel, the first of a trilogy, entitled “The Block.” In addition, production has begun on a series geared for Showtime television and preparations are being made for a South African book tour in the fall of 2014.

(1) “The Block” is such an intense read. What was your inspiration in writing in it? What has been the reader and critic response to it?
The Block” was inspired by a particular neighborhood in Detroit – not knocking Detroit, but this particular neighborhood was one where sheets adorned the windows, the roofs were caved in, porches broken, stripped paint, fire damage, dirt lawns and trash everywhere. However, the poetry in the view was the music playing loudly, people hanging out on the porches of these, supposed, uninhabitable homes. The children playing looked happy. The people looked content and settled.

It was clear the occupants had ‘leaned into’ their circumstances, environment and their lives. But what were their lives? My brain immediately came up with a synopsis of what I was seeing, put it on steroids and then the voices began telling me their story… Hence, the conception of “The Block.”

Readers and critics have been moved by the story. The rollercoaster ride, the book sends the reader on, exercises every emotion available. Some feel extremely sad by some areas because “The Block” is seen through the eyes of the children and not flashbacks from adults. It’s funny, dramatic, harsh, but most of all it’s real, truthful and unfortunately happens in almost every neighborhood, town, city, state and country. Readers enjoyed and cringe from the rawness. However, overall, most had a hard time getting through the first 3 chapters but couldn’t put the book down after that and are eagerly awaiting the sequel. That excites me.

(2) You mentioned that “The Block” is the first of a trilogy. While you may not want to divulge any secrets, what should we expect?
Jaw dropping revelations! Getting a sense of who these characters are and what you “believe” their circumstances were, was what book one was geared to do. However, “The Block: Truth Revealed,” the sequel, will give you the real truths behind everyone and introduce the parents in a tangible way. However, the danger that lurks throughout book 2 will be felt until the end.

The final installment “The Block: The Labyrinth,” will be the ultimate revelation of what the block really is and how the lives of so many have truly never been their own. Everyone won’t make it to book 3 and some may not make it out of book 2. You’ll have to read to find out!

(3) With this era of books being turned into movies, especially trilogies and other series, are you planning anything beyond the printed word for “The Block“?
Yes. My intention is to mold it into a TV series, then movie and possibly a stage play. It has layers and legs that could and would inspire, move and engage society as a whole.

(4) You have so many interests – acting, modeling, ghost-writing, internet radio host, shoes (!) – how do you find the time to write for yourself? What is your writing process like?
I write on my phone a lot! Between my notepad and voice recordings, there are tons of notes. However, they’re not all geared towards one project. Oftentimes, I find myself awakened in the middle of the night by a voice…loud thought and I begin to night write in the dark. I never turn on the lights. In the morning I’ll read what I wrote and place it in my project folder, for whichever project it’s for. I write while I’m shopping, watching TV, in the movies, at dinner, out with friends, it doesn’t really turn off. Everything I see is inspiring.

The more I tap into that side of myself, the better my writing will become.

My writing process isn’t complicated. I write when my characters speak. If they have something to say, I write it. My job is to tell their story not my version of their story.

Patience is essential. However, I’m creating scenarios all the time for the story but the characters determine where the story is going and when.

(5) What is the process like for promoting your books? As a self-published author, what did you do to get the word out?
Arduous — I definitely prefer going the publishing house route. The work is on them and I show up. However, social media plays an enormous part of promoting. I made a valiant effort to stay connected to the fans who reached out and who continue to reach out from my first release “Inside A Thug’s Heart.” Those loyal fans where some of the first to purchase “The Block,” my poetry book “My Mind’s Poetry: Relationships,” and “I have a Story” which helps anyone trying to get started writing. I’ve also been interviewed by several internet blogs and magazines. Word of mouth has been amazing too!

(6) What is on your bookshelf (or your e-reader)? What are you reading and enjoying? Any favorite authors?
I’m a bookie! LOL! I love the physical copy. I love Eckhart Tolle, Danièle Bott, Terry
McMillan, Sister Souljah (Coldest Winter Ever), Russell Simmons, Dr. Seuss, Gary Zuvak, Rick Johnson, and many more. My book collection is as eclectic as everything else in my world. I’m currently rereading Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth” because I got so much from it the first time. I highly recommend it to everyone!

The Block by Angela Ardis
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, April 3, 2013, Paperback

Five children, Robert, Troy, Reigna, Tina and Kora are trapped inside a labyrinth known as “The Block.” The inner workings of these children’s minds are released as we follow them from age ten to eighteen. Experiencing their journey through their struggle to cope, comprehend, and develop while dealing with extreme neglect, physical, mental, verbal, emotional, and sexual abuse. They’re looking for love, all wanting something more, and all trying to figure a way out of their unfortunate circumstances. Born into a “no chance of a childhood” reality, they find each other, forming an alliance against the ills that plague them all. The Block will awaken the very core of the reader. It’s true to life scenarios and graphic dialog will send waves of discomfort, lending extreme compassion to the plights of the children.

Inside A Thug’s Heart by Angela Ardis
Dafina, August 1, 2009, Paperback

Rikers Island is the centerpiece of the New York City Department of Corrections, a sprawling prison city of concrete and steel with housing for more than 16,000 inmates. Early in 1995, it was also the temporary home of legendary rapper and actor Tupac Shakur, incarcerated for a crime he swore he did not commit. And it was there that Angela Ardis, acting on a late-night wager among her friends and coworkers, sent a letter, along with a photo and her phone number. To her utter delight and amazement, Angela’s phone rang a short while later. Tupac Shakur was on the line.

Over the next several months, Angela and Tupac shared a near-daily exchange of letters, poems and phone calls, and their the relationship quickly grew into something neither of them could quite define, a kinship of souls that touched each in unexpected ways. Those original poems and letters, many of them written after Tupac’s transfer from Rikers to Dannemora State Prison, are presented here, along with the increasingly passionate and personal phone calls that touched on every subject imaginable. Far from the media spotlight, Tupac was by turns playful, sensual and serious, offering sharp observations on prison, music and the uncertainties of life. His letters to Angela reflect how he felt about being shot five times and left for dead one terrible night in New York in 1994, and his heartfelt verse encapsulates his dreams for the future–a future that would be so tragically cut short just over eighteen months after their correspondence began.

Tupac Shakur was shot on September 7th, 1996 and died a week later from his injuries. His murder remains unsolved, an ending as enigmatic as his life. But while Tupac may be gone, his words live on here, giving every fan a rare glimpse inside the mind and unbroken spirit of a passionate and unpredictable musical icon.

My Mind’s Poetry: Relationships (Volume 1) by Angela Ardis
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, March 8, 2013, Paperback

A lifetime of experiences, trials and tribulations, heartaches and joy, drama and pain mixed with lessons learned. A real perspective to life through analogies and poetic expression. Nothing like you’ve ever read before. No mixed words or sugar coated verbiage. Lightly illustrated. Contains some adult language.

I Have A Story: Getting Started (Volume 1) by Angela Ardis
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, June 14, 2013, Paperback

After receiving hundreds of emails and letters from people asking me how to get started writing their books, I decided to put together a “petite” book series that will do just that. I Have A Story book series gives potential authors a P.S. version to writing without getting stuck with a barrage of verbiage. As they complete each volume, they will begin to see their ideas come to life on the pages of their soon-to-be publications. Volume One will help you formulate the idea then break it down in an effort to rebuild it as the story you envision.

Shashana Page

Interview with Shashana Page

Shashana PageBorn and raised in the city of San Bernardino, California by her loving grandmother, Shashana Page grew up with the support necessary to appreciate family values that most overlook. Determined to overcome the unfortunate circumstances associated with being born to heroin-addicted parents, she obtained a degree in nursing by the age of twenty four. During the course of pursuing her education, Shashana was unexpectedly forced to face single motherhood as a result of the brutal murder of the love of her life and father of her children. Despite the obstacles presented before her, Shashana nurtured two beautiful daughters who now attend college full time.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”
- Maya Angelou

Influenced by the legendary Maya Angelou, her gift of writing was unveiled during an English course required for nursing school which opened a door for another business opportunity. After receiving her first review from a short story titled ‘Paris’, her interest in writing awakened a passion for authoring novels and empowering a demographic with similar backgrounds . After maintaining a career as a Registered Nurse for twenty three years, Shashana has allowed her intuition to guide her into this literary and publishing journey.

Shashana Page is now a successful author and CEO of Lost Page Publishing. It’s been a long time coming… Nevertheless, she is finally given the opportunity to share her true passion with the world, as it is revealed in her debut novel, “Intuition.”

(1) How would you describe “Intuition”? A romance? Christian-based fiction? What was your inspiration in writing in it?

Intuition is a fictional story based on a family of three sisters who were raised by their mother. Although she instilled spiritual and moral values within each of them, the choice to follow her wise advice, remains to be seen. As these women face various challenges, adversities, and temptations, the Holy Spirit sends numerous signs to redirect their paths. This novel takes you through the journey of their lives as they choose to follow or ignore their inner voice…. Ultimately, leading to their destiny or fate.

Although many readers feel the book could, very well, be placed into the “Religious Fiction” category, I placed Intuition in the “Contemporary” and “Women’s Fiction” genres. The reason for doing so, was, there are characters who play a role which exhibits vulgar and inappropriate behavior. For that reason, alone, I chose not to disrespect “Religion” or the “Christian” audience. However, the book has won the 2013 Bronze eLit Publishing Excellence Award in the Religious Fiction category.

I was inspired by God. I am not an avid reader, never planned to write a book, nor, have I ever taken any creative writing courses… yet, I’ve written two novels that readers enjoy.

(2) What was your experience like in writing “Intuition”?

Writing Intuition was a wonderful journey and I enjoyed every moment. I’ve spent hours, days, weeks, and months writing Intuition… and over a year, writing my upcoming novel, Grace. It was a great experience of learning, growing, and discovering a true passion. As a first time author, as well as, publisher, I was forced to overcame many obstacles; and although some were more painful than others, I wouldn’t change it for the world… I absolutely love writing and, like they say… “When work entails doing what you love, it’s no longer a job!”

(3) How is the effort to promote “Intuition”? Are you making new fans? What would you tell new authors?

Promoting Intuition was one of the greatest challenges… Being a first time, independent author and publisher, created limited opportunities for exposure. However, social media, as well as events designed to bring authors and readers together has been the greatest tools for marketing my brand.

(4) What’s next for you? Any future projects?

As I mentioned, I’ve recently completed the sequel to Intuition, entitled “Grace,” which is scheduled for release on September 6, 2014. I’m looking forward to promoting both and hearing the readers’ experience, while beginning the third book of the Intuition series….

(5) What is on your bookshelf? What are your favorite authors?

Although, I have several books on my shelf because I like to support authors, I don’t have a favorite author. I’m not an avid reader of fiction… Most of the literature I read is inspirational/spiritual works or informative books that will enhance my role as a publisher. Recently, I was advised to read, simply to learn the various styles of other authors… and I’m considering doing so. However, if I had to choose an author that I most admire, it would be Maya Angelou. Her work is inspiring, uplifting, and she is a phenomenal woman, author, and literary legend.

Intuition by Shashana Page
Lost Page Publishing, September 12, 2012, Paperback

Momma Faye is the link that binds the entire family… Although she has instilled spiritual and moral values within each of her daughters, the choice to follow her wise advice remains to be seen.

The beautiful, intelligent, and stylish Aniiyah is the youngest of Momma Faye s three daughters. Married to Doron, a successful Cardio-thoracic surgeon, Aniiyah is blessed to live a luxurious lifestyle similar to the rich and famous. Doron is everything a woman could possibly desire, but unfortunately, not enough to keep Aniiyah from communicating with the man of her past… Neissah, the middle child of the family, is attractive, educated, and successful. Unfortunately, these attributes cannot fulfill her longing desire to be loved, and Neissah soon finds herself faced with the challenges of dating as a single parent. Desperately seeking a long lasting romance, she becomes prematurely involved with Roman, and is blinded by the fascination of having a man. However, as Roman s unfavorable past is revealed, Neissah s infatuation abruptly comes to an end… Raeyah, the eldest and most wise of the sisters, is widowed and raising three daughters on her own. Her first born, Reign, falls in love with the handsome, charming Mauricio and subsequently, changes his life forever.

Momma Faye always said, The answer lies within! God gave you the innate discernment of good, bad, right, and wrong. Whether you choose to listen or not will, ultimately, determine your destiny or fate …INTUITION!!!

Murder at Cape Three Points by Kwei Quartey

Accra’s hotshot Detective Inspector Darko Dawson returns to solve a complex mystery that will take him out of the city to the beautiful coasts of Ghana, where a grim double-murder seems to have larger political implications.

At Cape Three Points on the beautiful Ghanaian coast, a canoe washes up at an oil rig site. The two bodies in the canoe — who turn out to be a prominent, wealthy, middle-aged married couple — have obviously been murdered; the way Mr. Smith-Aidoo has been gruesomely decapitated suggests the killer was trying to send a specific message — but what, and to whom, is a mystery. The Smith-Aidoos, pillars in their community, are mourned by everyone, but especially by their niece Sapphire, a successful pediatric surgeon in Ghana’s capital, Accra. She is not happy that months have passed since the murder and the rural police have made no headway.

When the Ghanaian federal police finally agree to get involved, Detective Inspector Darko Dawson of the Accra police force is sent out to Cape Three Points to investigate. Pretty as the coast is, he is not happy to be sent away from his wife and two sons, the younger of whom is recovering from a heart operation. And the more he learns about the case, the more convoluted and dangerous it becomes. Three Points has long been inhabited by tribal villages of subsistence fishers, but real estate entrepreneurs and wealthy oil companies have been trying to bribe the tribes to move out. Dawson roots out a host of motives for murder, ranging from personal vendettas to corporate conspiracies.

Ebony Magazine cover, March 2014

Ebony Magazine’s Book Choices for March 2014

Ebony Magazine’s March 2014 book selections:

Red Now and Laters: A Novel
Marcus J. Guillory

In this impressive debut Marcus J. Guillory brilliantly weaves together the many obstacles of a young man growing into adulthood, the realities of urban life, the history of Louisiana Creole culture, the glory of the black cowboy, and the role of religion in shaping lives.

South Park, Houston, Texas, 1977, is where we first meet Ti’ John, a young boy under the care of his larger-than life father — a working-class rodeo star and a practitioner of vodou—and his mother — a good Catholic and cautious disciplinarian — who forbids him to play with the neighborhood “hoodlums.” Ti’ John, throughout the era of Reaganomics and the dawn of hip-hop and cassette tapes, must negotiate the world around him and a peculiar gift he’s inherited from his father and Jules Saint-Pierre “Nonc” Sonnier, a deceased ancestor who visits the boy, announcing himself with the smell of smoke on a regular basis. In many ways, Ti’ John is an ordinary kid who loses his innocence as he witnesses violence and death, as he gets his heart broken by girls and his own embittered father, as he struggles to live up to his mother’s middle-class aspirations and his father’s notion of what it is to be a man. In other ways, he is different — from his childhood buddies and from the father who is his hero.

The question throughout this layered and complex coming-of-age story is will Ti’ John survive the bad side of life — and his upbringing — and learn how to recognize and keep what is good.

Pageants, Parlors, and Pretty Women: Race and Beauty in the Twentieth-Century South
Blain Roberts

From the South’s pageant queens to the importance of beauty parlors to African American communities, it is easy to see the ways beauty is enmeshed in southern culture. But as Blain Roberts shows in this incisive work, the pursuit of beauty in the South was linked to the tumultuous racial divides of the region, where the Jim Crow-era cosmetics industry came of age selling the idea of makeup that emphasized whiteness, and where, in the 1950s and 1960s, black-owned beauty shops served as crucial sites of resistance for civil rights activists. In these times of strained relations in the South, beauty became a signifier of power and affluence while it reinforced racial strife.

Roberts examines a range of beauty products, practices, and rituals–cosmetics, hairdressing, clothing, and beauty contests–in settings that range from tobacco farms of the Great Depression to 1950s and 1960s college campuses. In so doing, she uncovers the role of female beauty in the economic and cultural modernization of the South. By showing how battles over beauty came to a head during the civil rights movement, Roberts sheds new light on the tactics southerners used to resist and achieve desegregation.

Saint Monkey: A Novel
Jacinda Townsend

A stunning debut novel of two girls raised in hardship, separated by fortune, and reunited through tragedy.

Fourteen-year-old Audrey Martin, with her Poindexter glasses and her head humming the 3/4 meter of gospel music, knows she’ll never get out of Kentucky — but when her fingers touch the piano keys, the whole church trembles. Her best friend, Caroline, daydreams about Hollywood stardom, but both girls feel destined to languish in a slow-moving stopover town in Montgomery County.

That is, until chance intervenes and a booking agent offers Audrey a ticket to join the booming jazz scene in Harlem — an offer she can’t resist, not even for Caroline. And in New York City the music never stops. Audrey flirts with love and takes the stage at the Apollo, with its fast-dancing crowds and blinding lights. But fortunes can turn fast in the city — young talent means tough competition, and for Audrey failure is always one step away. Meanwhile, Caroline sinks into the quiet anguish of a Black woman in a backwards country, where her ambitions and desires only slip further out of reach.

Jacinda Townsend’s remarkable first novel is a coming-of-age story made at once gripping and poignant by the wild energy of the Jazz Era and the stark realities of segregation. Marrying musical prose with lyric vernacular, Saint Monkey delivers a stirring portrait of American storytelling and marks the appearance of an auspicious new voice in literary fiction.

The Secret of Magic
Deborah Johnson

In 1946, a young female attorney from New York City attempts the impossible: attaining justice for a black man in the Deep South.

Regina Robichard works for Thurgood Marshall, who receives an unusual letter asking the NAACP to investigate the murder of a returning black war hero. It is signed by M. P. Calhoun, the most reclusive author in the country.

As a child, Regina was captivated by Calhoun’s The Secret of Magic, a novel in which white and black children played together in a magical forest.

Once down in Mississippi, Regina finds that nothing in the South is as it seems. She must navigate the muddy waters of racism, relationships, and her own tragic past.The Secret of Magic brilliantly explores the power of stories and those who tell them.

The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery
Sarah Lewis

It is one of the enduring enigmas of the human experience: many of our most iconic, creative endeavors — from Nobel Prize-winning discoveries to entrepreneurial inventions and works in the arts — are not achievements but conversions, corrections after failed attempts.

The gift of failure is a riddle. Like the number zero, it will always be both a void and the start of infinite possibility. The Rise — a soulful celebration of the determination and courage of the human spirit — makes the case that many of our greatest triumphs come from understanding the importance of this mystery.

This exquisite biography of an idea is about the improbable foundations of creative human endeavor. The Rise begins with narratives about figures past and present who range from writers to entrepreneurs; Frederick Douglass, Samuel F. B. Morse, and J. K. Rowling, for example, feature alongside choreographer Paul Taylor, Nobel Prize-winning physicists Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, Arctic explorer Ben Saunders, and psychology professor Angela Duckworth.

The Rise explores the inestimable value of often ignored ideas — the power of surrender for fortitude, the criticality of play for innovation, the propulsion of the near win on the road to mastery, and the importance of grit and creative practice. From an uncommonly insightful writer, The Rise is a true masterwork.

Twisted by N’Tyse

Twisted Vows of Seduction (Twisted Series)

Strebor Books, 12/10/2013, Paperback

Some secrets aren’t meant to be kept.

In this scandalously provocative soap-drama series, deceit, seduction, and a tempestuous affair intertwines the lives of lascivious lovers who will go above and beyond to keep their sexual trysts a secret, but the curse of temptation will lead to revelations that may result in their own demise.     
Still mourning the death of his lover, Denise, Greg Adams conspires to leave his wife. He believes that Denise has come back to him in the form of a woman named Naomi Brooks, and he can’t forget her. But there’s one problem–his wife is going to honor every line in their wedding vows until death does them part.

Naomi Brooks, a recovering alcoholic, enters into an orchestrated affair to deceive Greg by creating the perfect illusion. Will the plan work or will she find herself a victim in a twisted game?

A long-term torrid affair with her best friend’s husband, Jeff, has scarred Nadine Collins for life. Nadine decides she must take a vow of celibacy to cleanse her spirit. While her journey seems impossible, she can see a light at the end of the tunnel. There’s only one problem–she’s still not over Jeff, now a divorcé living life in the fast lane.

Ménage, an aspiring actress, has her sights set on Hollywood. She will do anything to ensure her rise to the top, including robbing Jeff of all the life insurance money he collected after his wife died. But a blast from the past slows her down. When Jeff comes running to her rescue, it proves to be the perfect setup.

The real twisted games are just beginning.

Twisted Seduction: A Novel (Twisted Series)

Strebor Books, 11/26/2013, Mass Market Paperback

An erotic, drama-laced journey into the lives of two best friends who will stop at nothing to have the man of their dreams—even when the cost of betrayal has a price tag neither of them is ready to pay.

Thirty-two-year-old Denise Jackson seems to have everything a woman could want: a lovely home in the posh Dallas suburbs, a fancy car, a caring husband, and a beautiful nine-year-old daughter. Yet Denise feels incomplete. She pretends to be happily married as she allows her husband and best friend to carry on an affair so that she can get better acquainted with a millionaire client. But when Denise’s husband discovers he isn’t the father of their child, all her carefully built lies come tumbling down.

Twisted Seduction lures readers into an orchestrated web of raw emotion, deceit, infidelity, and sex that makes for an exhilarating read.

Connected by Coincidence: Covington Family and Friends by Carla Buchanan



January 19, 2014,
Kindle Edition
Randall Covington lost his wife and unborn daughter in a plane crash. Nearly three years later he is still trying to figure out how to move on without feeling like he is betraying the memory of Farrah. But when he meets the beautifully chaotic, Lily Burke, his whole world is turned upside down.

Lily Burke is recovering from her own tragedy which is also three years behind her. She hides behind her bubbly, outgoing personality but underneath it all is an unbearable pain that no one she knows can relate to. That is until she meets Randall Covington, the oldest of triplets.

The two meet and are able to find something on one another that gives them the strength to deal with the tragic connection they share. A connection that threatens to break them, consume them, and drive them to the point of insanity.

And if that isn’t enough! A secret relationship is exposed, new family members are introduced, and stalkers are in rare form.

Boy, Snow, Bird: A Novel by Helen Oyeyemi



Riverhead,
March 6, 2014,
Hardcover




Riverhead Trade,
November 6, 2012,
Paperback
From the prizewinning author of Mr. Fox, the Snow White fairy tale brilliantly recast as a story of family secrets, race, beauty, and vanity.

In the winter of 1953, Boy Novak arrives by chance in a small town in Massachusetts, looking, she believes, for beauty — the opposite of the life she’s left behind in New York. She marries a local widower and becomes stepmother to his winsome daughter, Snow Whitman.

A wicked stepmother is a creature Boy never imagined she’d become, but elements of the familiar tale of aesthetic obsession begin to play themselves out when the birth of Boy’s daughter, Bird, who is dark-skinned, exposes the Whitmans as light-skinned African Americans passing for white. Among them, Boy, Snow, and Bird confront the tyranny of the mirror to ask how much power surfaces really hold.

Dazzlingly inventive and powerfully moving, Boy, Snow, Bird is an astonishing and enchanting novel. With breathtaking feats of imagination, Helen Oyeyemi confirms her place as one of the most original and dynamic literary voices of our time.

Braxton A. Cosby’s School of Ministry Novels



Keith Publications LLC,
September 26, 2013,
Paperback

The School of Ministry: The Windgate by Braxton A. Cosby

TO CHOOSE, IS FATE!
A young man named Ziv struggles to find his place in life after both of his parents are murdered. Orphaned and alone by the age of six, he bounces in and out of foster homes hopeless and afraid, wondering if he will ever find a path to happiness. He resolves to accept a life of depravity, until one day he discovers he possesses the gift of sight: to see creatures from the afterlife, but not angels…demons! Ziv is recruited by The School of Ministry, a secret society that promises to help him find his best friend Stephanie, who has gone missing.

But there is one catch: he must agree to join them in their quest to eradicate evil and protect the weak. Ziv learns that he is a “Conduit,” which allow him to cross over into the spirit world and transcend time itself. When he is partnered with two other young men who have similar gifts, the unlikely trio is trained in the mastery of weapons and the art of Shouting, during treacherous challenges of the tortuous Quad in preparation for their mission: to secure the Windgate. An untimely love triangle clouds Ziv’s judgment, forcing him to choose between the love of his life and the new female interest Evan. Entrenched in a quest of identity, love, and will, he eventually comes face to face with pure evil itself-Akabod, the spiritual prodigal son to the School of Ministry and a master of talents.



CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform,
January 18, 2014,
Paperback

Evan’s Heart: A Windgate Novella (School of Ministry Novellas) (Volume 1) by Braxton A. Cosby

The heart never lies! The only words that bring comfort to a confused mind. Partaking in the experience of the Quad from the safety of the observation room used to be the only thing Evan needed to worry about, other than supervising the Recruits in the field. Secretly, she desires more; driven by her thrill-seeking hidden side.

Her wish is finally granted when Maxwell and Mr. C. inform her that she must choose to support Ziv, Francis or Jaythan during one of the Quad phases. Ignorant to what exactly that entails, Evan is confounded by the question, knowing full well that it could very well end up in her death. Now, Evan is beginning to understand that life and the outcomes of your decisions is less of a game than she accounted for. When she finally makes the choice, she finds herself submerged — literally — in a desperate fight for her life, as well as wrestling with this reality: she is torn by her growing feelings for two of the new young prodigies.

Follow the perspective of Evan (Miss Evans) as she retells the tank scene from the Quad in The Windgate: Book 1 of The School of Ministry Series and gain insight into other characters from the story such as Maxwell, Francis and the intuitively gifted Ezra.

Essence Magazine Cover, February 2014

Essence Magazine’s Book Features for February 2014

Essence Magazine’s book selections for February 2014, featuring Southern novels “Queen Sugar” (Louisiana), “The Secret of Magic” (Mississippi), and “The Invention of Wings” (South Carolina):


Pamela Dorman Books, February 6, 2014, Hardcover

Viking Adult, 2/6/2014, Kindle Edition

Queen Sugar: A Novel by Natalie Baszile

A mother-daughter story of reinvention—about an African American woman who unexpectedly inherits a sugarcane farm in Louisiana

Why exactly Charley Bordelon’s late father left her eight hundred sprawling acres of sugarcane land in rural Louisiana is as mysterious as it was generous. Recognizing this as a chance to start over, Charley and her eleven-year-old daughter, Micah, say good-bye to Los Angeles.

They arrive just in time for growing season but no amount of planning can prepare Charley for a Louisiana that’s mired in the past: as her judgmental but big-hearted grandmother tells her, cane farming is always going to be a white man’s business. As the sweltering summer unfolds, Charley must balance the overwhelming challenges of her farm with the demands of a homesick daughter, a bitter and troubled brother, and the startling desires of her own heart.

Penguin has a rich tradition of publishing strong Southern debut fiction—from Sue Monk Kidd to Kathryn Stockett to Beth Hoffman. In Queen Sugar, we now have a debut from the African American point of view. Stirring in its storytelling of one woman against the odds and initimate in its exploration of the complexities of contemporary southern life, Queen Sugar is an unforgettable tale of endurance and hope.


Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam, January 21, 2014, Hardcover

Putnam Adult, 1/21/2014, Kindle Edition

The Secret of Magic by Deborah Johnson

In 1946, a young female attorney from New York City attempts the impossible: attaining justice for a black man in the Deep South.

Regina Robichard works for Thurgood Marshall, who receives an unusual letter asking the NAACP to investigate the murder of a returning black war hero. It is signed by M. P. Calhoun, the most reclusive author in the country. As a child, Regina was captivated by Calhoun’s The Secret of Magic, a novel in which white and black children played together in a magical forest.

Once down in Mississippi, Regina finds that nothing in the South is as it seems. She must navigate the muddy waters of racism, relationships, and her own tragic past. The Secret of Magic brilliantly explores the power of stories and those who tell them.


Viking Adult, January 7, 2014, Hardcover

Viking Adult, 1/7/2014, Kindle Edition

The Secret Life of Bees
The Tenth-Anniversary Edition
Penguin Books, November 23, 2011, Paperback

The Invention of Wings: With Notes by Sue Monk Kidd

From the celebrated author of “The Secret Life of Bees,” a magnificent novel about two unforgettable American women

Writing at the height of her narrative and imaginative gifts, Sue Monk Kidd presents a masterpiece of hope, daring, the quest for freedom, and the desire to have a voice in the world — and it is now the newest Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 selection.

Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.

As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.

Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better.

This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved.

When Good Men Go Bad by Dante D. Long



Paperback
August 15, 2013
Dark Diamond Publishing
Jasper Hooks would be considered by most as an overall good guy; intelligent, well-mannered, attractive, and very sociable. His personality has brought him quite a lot of popularity, as well as broken a few hearts, during his years at the historic Pembrook College. Throughout all this, his strong upbringing and tenacity for success has kept him humble and focused. With college graduation over, a new and exciting career underway, and the love of his life just moving in, one would think that Jasper has it all together.

As he leaves the somewhat sheltering college days behind and adjusts to being a professional adult, situations at his job and in his personal life test his optimistic future to the point that he may lose it all. Starting with the betrayal of his fiance Tina, a spiral of events occur in Jasper’s life which test fraternal ties, brings on-the-job strife, revisits pressures of the past, and emphasizes the constant struggle between right versus wrong. The escalating conflict in his life may ruin his career, put his life in danger, and make him question his own mental stability as he fights to make sense of it all.

When Good Men Go Bad is the first book in the coming of age “Men of 1302″ series by up and coming author Dante Long which shows the pleasures and pains of three college roommates, forever bonded by friendship, as life takes them through their varying adversities and blesses them with their individual achievements.