Category Archives: Adult Fiction

Announcements of new fiction by and about African Americans

Essence Magazine’s Book Features for April 2015

Essence Magazine’s book features for April 2015, selected to catch some Spring Fever — featuring Attica Locke, Eric Jerome Dickey, Angela Flournoy, Tracey Baptiste, Tracy K. Smith:

Pleasantville (Jay Porter Series) by Attica Locke

Harper, April 21, 2015, Hardcover

In this sophisticated thriller, lawyer Jay Porter, hero of Attica Locke’s bestseller Black Water Rising, returns to fight one last case, only to become embroiled once again in a dangerous game of shadowy politics and a witness to how far those in power are willing to go to win.

Fifteen years after the events of Black Water Rising, Jay Porter is struggling to cope with catastrophic changes in his personal life and the disintegration of his environmental law practice. His victory against Cole Oil is still the crown jewel of his career, even if he hasn’t yet seen a dime thanks to appeals. But time has taken its toll. Tired and restless, hes ready to quit.

When a girl goes missing on Election Night, 1996, in the neighborhood of Pleasantville — a hamlet for upwardly mobile blacks on the north side of Houston — Jay, a single father, is deeply disturbed. He’s been representing Pleasantville in the wake of a chemical fire, and the case is dragging on, raising doubts about his ability.

The missing girl was a volunteer for one of the local mayoral candidates, and her disappearance complicates an already heated campaign. When the nephew of one of the candidates, a Pleasantville local, is arrested, Jay reluctantly finds himself serving as a defense attorney. With a man’s life and his own reputation on the line, Jay is about to try his first murder in a case that will also put an electoral process on trial, exposing the dark side of power and those determined to keep it.

One Night by Eric Jerome Dickey

Dutton, April 21, 2015, Hardcover

For one night, a couple checks in to an upscale hotel. The pair seem unlikely companions, from opposing strata of society, but their attraction is palpable to all who observe them — or overhear their cries of passion. In the course of twelve hours, con games, erotic interludes, jealousy, violence, and murder swirl around them. Will they part ways in bliss, in sorrow, or in death?

Filled with all the hallmarks of an Eric Jerome Dickey bestseller — erotic situations, edge-of-your-seat twists and turns, and fun, believable relationships — One Night will delight Dickey’s existing fans and lure countless new ones.

The Turner House by Angela Flournoy

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, April 14, 2015, Hardcover

The Turners have lived on Yarrow Street for over fifty years. Their house has seen thirteen children grown and gone — and some returned; it has seen the arrival of grandchildren, the fall of Detroit’s East Side, and the loss of a father. The house still stands despite abandoned lots, an embattled city, and the inevitable shift outward to the suburbs. But now, as ailing matriarch Viola finds herself forced to leave her home and move in with her eldest son, the family discovers that the house is worth just a tenth of its mortgage. The Turner children are called home to decide its fate and to reckon with how each of their pasts haunts — and shapes — their family’s future.

The Turner House brings us a colorful, complicated brood full of love and pride, sacrifice and unlikely inheritances. It’s a striking examination of the price we pay for our dreams and futures, and the ways in which our families bring us home.

The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste

Algonquin Young Readers, April 28, 2015, Hardcover

The jumbies are coming!

Corinne La Mer isn’t afraid of anything. Not scorpions, not the boys who tease her, and certainly not jumbies. She knows that jumbies aren’t real; they’re just creatures parents make up to frighten their children. But on All Hallows’ Eve, Corinne chases an agouti all the way into the forbidden woods. Those shining yellow eyes that follow her to the edge of the trees, they couldn’t belong to a jumbie. Or could they?

Corinne begins to notice odd occurrences after that night. First she spots a beautiful stranger speaking to the town witch at the market. Then this same beauty, called Severine, turns up at Corinne’s house, cooking dinner for her father. Danger is in the air. Sure enough, bewitching Corinne’s father is the first step in Severine’s plan to claim the entire island for the jumbies. Corinne must call on her courage and her friends and ancient magic to stop Severine and to save her island home.

Ordinary Light: A memoir by Tracy K. Smith

Knopf, March 31, 2015, Hardcover

From the dazzlingly original Pulitzer Prize-winning poet: a quietly potent memoir that explores coming-of-age and the meaning of home against a complex backdrop of race, faith, and the unbreakable bond between a mother and daughter.

The youngest of five children, Tracy K. Smith was raised with limitless affection and a firm belief in God by a stay-at-home mother and an engineer father. But just as Tracy is about to leave home for college, her mother is diagnosed with cancer, a condition she accepts as part of God’s plan. Ordinary Light is the story of a young woman struggling to fashion her own understanding of belief, loss, history, and what it means to be black in America.

In lucid, clear prose, Smith interrogates her childhood in suburban California, her first collision with independence at Harvard, and her Alabama-born parents’ recollections of their own youth in the Civil Rights era. These dizzying juxtapositions — of her family’s past, her own comfortable present, and the promise of her future — will in due course compel Tracy to act on her passions for love and “ecstatic possibility,” and her desire to become a writer.

Shot through with exquisite lyricism, wry humor, and an acute awareness of the beauty of everyday life, Ordinary Light is a gorgeous kaleidoscope of self and family, one that skillfully combines a child’s and teenager’s perceptions with adult retrospection. Here is a universal story of being and becoming, a classic portrait of the ways we find and lose ourselves amid the places we call home.

March Bestsellers for 2015

The year’s celebrated and bestselling African American books by or about African Americans, published in 2015, from Amazon.com.

Ruby (Oprah’s Book Club 2.0) by Cynthia Bond

Hogarth, February 10, 2015, Paperback

The newest Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 selection

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 Bell, “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 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.

Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America by Jill Leovy

Spiegel & Grau, January 27, 2015, Hardcover

On a warm spring evening in South Los Angeles, a young man is shot and killed on a sidewalk minutes away from his home, one of the thousands of black Americans murdered that year. His assailant runs down the street, jumps into an SUV, and vanishes, hoping to join the scores of killers in American cities who are never arrested for their crimes.
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But as soon as the case is assigned to Detective John Skaggs, the odds shift.
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Here is the kaleidoscopic story of the quintessential, but mostly ignored, American murder—a “ghettoside” killing, one young black man slaying another—and a brilliant and driven cadre of detectives whose creed is to pursue justice for forgotten victims at all costs. Ghettoside is a fast-paced narrative of a devastating crime, an intimate portrait of detectives and a community bonded in tragedy, and a surprising new lens into the great subject of why murder happens in our cities—and how the epidemic of killings might yet be stopped.

The Sellout: A Novel by Paul Beatty

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, March 3, 2015, Hardcover

A biting satire about a young man’s isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, Paul Beatty’s The Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game. It challenges the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship, and the holy grail of racial equality–the black Chinese restaurant.

Born in the “agrarian ghetto” of Dickens–on the southern outskirts of Los Angeles–the narrator of The Sellout resigns himself to the fate of lower-middle-class Californians: “I’d die in the same bedroom I’d grown up in, looking up at the cracks in the stucco ceiling that’ve been there since ’68 quake.” Raised by a single father, a controversial sociologist, he spent his childhood as the subject in racially charged psychological studies. He is led to believe that his father’s pioneering work will result in a memoir that will solve his family’s financial woes. But when his father is killed in a police shoot-out, he realizes there never was a memoir. All that’s left is the bill for a drive-thru funeral.

Fuelled by this deceit and the general disrepair of his hometown, the narrator sets out to right another wrong: Dickens has literally been removed from the map to save California from further embarrassment. Enlisting the help of the town’s most famous resident–the last surviving Little Rascal, Hominy Jenkins–he initiates the most outrageous action conceivable: reinstating slavery and segregating the local high school, which lands him in the Supreme Court.

Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad by Eric Foner

W. W. Norton & Company, January 19, 2015, Hardcover

The dramatic story of fugitive slaves and the antislavery activists who defied the law to help them reach freedom.

More than any other scholar, Eric Foner has influenced our understanding of America’s history. Now, making brilliant use of extraordinary evidence, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian once again reconfigures the national saga of American slavery and freedom.

A deeply entrenched institution, slavery lived on legally and commercially even in the northern states that had abolished it after the American Revolution. Slaves could be found in the streets of New York well after abolition, traveling with owners doing business with the city’s major banks, merchants, and manufacturers. New York was also home to the North’s largest free black community, making it a magnet for fugitive slaves seeking refuge. Slave catchers and gangs of kidnappers roamed the city, seizing free blacks, often children, and sending them south to slavery.

To protect fugitives and fight kidnappings, the city’s free blacks worked with white abolitionists to organize the New York Vigilance Committee in 1835. In the 1840s vigilance committees proliferated throughout the North and began collaborating to dispatch fugitive slaves from the upper South, Washington, and Baltimore, through Philadelphia and New York, to Albany, Syracuse, and Canada. These networks of antislavery resistance, centered on New York City, became known as the underground railroad. Forced to operate in secrecy by hostile laws, courts, and politicians, the city’s underground-railroad agents helped more than 3,000 fugitive slaves reach freedom between 1830 and 1860. Until now, their stories have remained largely unknown, their significance little understood.

God Help the Child: A novel by Toni Morrison

Knopf, April 21, 2015, Hardcover

Spare and unsparing, God Help the Child — the first novel by Toni Morrison to be set in our current moment — weaves a tale about the way the sufferings of childhood can shape, and misshape, the life of the adult.

At the center: a young woman who calls herself Bride, whose stunning blue-black skin is only one element of her beauty, her boldness and confidence, her success in life, but which caused her light-skinned mother to deny her even the simplest forms of love. There is Booker, the man Bride loves, and loses to anger. Rain, the mysterious white child with whom she crosses paths. And finally, Bride’s mother herself, Sweetness, who takes a lifetime to come to understand that what you do to children matters. And they might never forget.

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt De La Peña (Author), Christian Robinson (Illustrator)

G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, January 8, 2015, Hardcover

Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don’t own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them.

This energetic ride through a bustling city highlights the wonderful perspective only grandparent and grandchild can share, and comes to life through Matt de la Pena’s vibrant text and Christian Robinson’s radiant illustrations.

Welcome to Braggsville: A Novel by T. Geronimo Johnson

William Morrow, February 17, 2015, Hardcover

Born and raised in the heart of old Dixie, D’aron Davenport finds himself in unfamiliar territory his freshman year at UC Berkeley. Two thousand miles and a world away from his childhood, he is a small-town fish floundering in the depths of a large, hyper-liberal pond. Caught between the prosaic values of his rural hometown and the intellectualized multicultural cosmopolitanism of Berzerkeley, the nineteen-year-old white kid is uncertain about his place until one disastrous party brings him three idiosyncratic best friends: Louis, a “kung-fu comedian” from California; Candice, an earnest do-gooder claiming Native roots from Iowa; and Charlie, an introspective inner-city black teen from Chicago. They dub themselves the “4 Little Indians.”

But everything changes in the group’s alternative history class, when D’aron lets slip that his hometown hosts an annual Civil War reenactment, recently rebranded “Patriot Days.” His announcement is met with righteous indignation, and inspires Candice to suggest a “performative intervention” to protest the reenactment. Armed with youthful self-importance, makeshift slave costumes, righteous zeal, and their own misguided ideas about the South, the 4 Little Indians descend on Braggsville. Their journey through backwoods churches, backroom politics, Waffle Houses, and drunken family barbecues is uproarious to start, but will have devastating consequences.

Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule by Jennifer Chiaverini

Dutton, March 3, 2015, Hardcover

In 1844, Missouri belle Julia Dent met dazzling horseman Lieutenant Ulysses S Grant. Four years passed before their parents permitted them to wed, and the groom’s abolitionist family refused to attend the ceremony.

Since childhood, Julia owned as a slave another Julia, known as Jule. Jule guarded her mistress’s closely held twin secrets: She had perilously poor vision but was gifted with prophetic sight. So it was that Jule became Julia’s eyes to the world.

And what a world it was, marked by gathering clouds of war. The Grants vowed never to be separated, but as Ulysses rose through the ranks—becoming general in chief of the Union Army—so did the stakes of their pact. During the war, Julia would travel, often in the company of Jule and the four Grant children, facing unreliable transportation and certain danger to be at her husband’s side.

Yet Julia and Jule saw two different wars. While Julia spoke out for women—Union and Confederate—she continued to hold Jule as a slave behind Union lines. Upon the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, Jule claimed her freedom and rose to prominence as a businesswoman in her own right, taking the honorary title Madame. The two women’s paths continued to cross throughout the Grants’ White House years in Washington, DC, and later in New York City, the site of Grant’s Tomb.

The Book of Negroes: A Novel (Movie Tie-in Edition) by Lawrence Hill

W. W. Norton & Company, January 12, 2015, Paperback

Lawrence Hill’s award-winning novel is a major television miniseries airing on BET Networks.

The Book of Negroes (based on the novel Someone Knows My Name) will be BET’s first miniseries. The star-studded production includes lead actress Aunjanue Ellis (Ray, The Help), Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr. (Jerry Maguire, A Few Good Men), Oscar and Emmy winner Louis Gossett Jr. (A Raisin in the Sun, Boardwalk Empire), and features Lyriq Bent (Rookie Blue), Jane Alexander (The Cider House Rules), and Ben Chaplin (The Thin Red Line). Director and co-writer Clement Virgo is a feature film and television director (The Wire) who also serves as producer with executive producer Damon D’Oliveira (What We Have).

In this “transporting” (Entertainment Weekly) and “heart-stopping” (Washington Post) work, Aminata Diallo, one of the strongest women characters in contemporary fiction, is kidnapped from Africa as a child and sold as a slave in South Carolina. Fleeing to Canada after the Revolutionary War, she escapes to attempt a new life in freedom.

Essence Magazine’s Book Features for February 2015

Essence Magazine’s book features for February 2015, selected for Black History Month — featuring Ethel Payne, Rosa Parks, Wes Moore, Sonia Sanchez, Malcolm X:

Eye on the Struggle: Ethel Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press
by James McGrath Morris

Amistad
February 17, 2015
Hardcover

Acclaimed biographer James McGrath Morris brings into focus the riveting life of one of the most significant yet least known figures of the civil rights era — pioneering journalist Ethel Payne, the “First Lady of the Black Press” — elevating her to her rightful place in history at last.

For decades, Ethel Lois Payne has been hidden in the shadows of history. Now, James McGrath Morris skillfully illuminates this ambitious, influential, and groundbreaking woman’s life, from her childhood growing up in South Chicago to her career as a journalist and network news commentator, reporting on some of the most crucial events in modern American history.

Morris draws on a rich and untapped collection of Payne’s personal papers documenting her private and professional affairs. He combed through oral histories, FBI documents, and newspapers to fully capture Payne’s life, her achievements, and her legacy. He introduces us to a journalist who covered such events as the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Little Rock school desegregation crisis, the service of black troops in Vietnam, and Henry Kissinger’s 26,000-mile tour of Africa.

A self-proclaimed “instrument of change” for her people, Payne broke new ground as the Washington correspondent for the Chicago Defender. She publicly prodded President Dwight D. Eisenhower to support desegregation, and her reporting on legislative and judicial civil rights battles enlightened and activated black readers across the nation. In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson recognized Payne’s seminal role by presenting her with a pen used in signing the Civil Rights Act. In 1972, she became the first female African American radio and television commentator on a national network, working for CBS. Her story mirrors the evolution of our own modern society.

Inspiring and instructive, moving and comprehensive, Eye on the Struggle illuminates this extraordinary woman and her achievements, and reminds us of the power one person has to transform our lives and our world.

With 16 pages of black-and-white photos.

The Tyranny of the Meritocracy: Democratizing Higher Education in America
by Lani Guinier

Beacon Press, January 13, 2015, Hardcover

Standing on the foundations of America’s promise of equal opportunity, our universities purport to serve as engines of social mobility and practitioners of democracy. But as acclaimed scholar and pioneering civil rights advocate Lani Guinier argues, the merit systems that dictate the admissions practices of these institutions are functioning to select and privilege elite individuals rather than create learning communities geared to advance democratic societies. Having studied and taught at schools such as Harvard University, Yale Law School, and the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Guinier has spent years examining the experiences of ethnic minorities and of women at the nation’s top institutions of higher education, and here she lays bare the practices that impede the stated missions of these schools.

Goaded on by a contemporary culture that establishes value through ranking and sorting, universities assess applicants using the vocabulary of private, highly individualized merit. As a result of private merit standards and ever-increasing tuitions, our colleges and universities increasingly are failing in their mission to provide educational opportunity and to prepare students for productive and engaged citizenship.

To reclaim higher education as a cornerstone of democracy, Guinier argues that institutions of higher learning must focus on admitting and educating a class of students who will be critical thinkers, active citizens, and publicly spirited leaders. Guinier presents a plan for considering “democratic merit,” a system that measures the success of higher education not by the personal qualities of the students who enter but by the work and service performed by the graduates who leave.

Jam on the Vine: A Novel by LaShonda Barnett

Grove Press, February 3, 2015, Hardcover

Ivoe Williams, the precocious daughter of a Muslim cook and a metalsmith from central-east Texas, first ignites her lifelong obsession with journalism when she steals a newspaper from her mother’s white employer. Living in the poor, segregated quarter of Little Tunis, Ivoe immerses herself in printed matter as an escape from her dour surroundings. She earns a scholarship to the prestigious Willetson College in Austin, only to return over-qualified to the menial labor offered by her hometown’s racially-biased employers.

Ivoe eventually flees the Jim Crow South with her family and settles in Kansas City, where she and her former teacher and lover, Ona, found the first female-run African American newspaper, Jam! On the Vine. In the throes of the Red Summer — the 1919 outbreak of lynchings and race riots across the Midwest — Ivoe risks her freedom, and her life, to call attention to the atrocities of segregation in the American prison system.

This House Is Not for Sale: A Novel by E.C. Osondu

Harper, February 3, 2015, Hardcover

A powerful tale of family and community, This House Is Not for Sale brings to life an African neighborhood and one remarkable house, seen through the eyes of a young member of the household. The house lies in a town seemingly lost in time, full of colorful, larger-than-life characters; at the narrative’s heart are Grandpa, the family patriarch whose occasional cruelty is balanced by his willingness to open his doors to those in need, and the house itself, which becomes a character in its own right and takes on the scale of legend.

From the decades-long rivalry between owners of two competing convenience stores to the man who convinces his neighbors to give up their earthly possessions to prepare for the end of the world, Osondu’s story captures a place beyond the reach of the outside world, full of superstitions and myths that sustain its people.

The Work: My Search for a Life That Matters
Wes Moore

Spiegel & Grau, January 13, 2015, Hardcover

The acclaimed author of The Other Wes Moore continues his inspirational quest for a meaningful life and shares the powerful lessons — about self-discovery, service, and risk-taking — that led him to a new definition of success for our times.

The Work is the story of how one young man traced a path through the world to find his life’s purpose. Wes Moore graduated from a difficult childhood in the Bronx and Baltimore to an adult life that would find him at some of the most critical moments in our recent history: as a combat officer in Afghanistan; a White House fellow in a time of wars abroad and disasters at home; and a Wall Street banker during the financial crisis. In this insightful book, Moore shares the lessons he learned from people he met along the way — from the brave Afghan translator who taught him to find his fight, to the resilient young students in Katrina-ravaged Mississippi who showed him the true meaning of grit, to his late grandfather, who taught him to find grace in service.

Moore also tells the stories of other twenty-first-century change-makers who’ve inspired him in his search, from Daniel Lubetzky, the founder of KIND, to Esther Benjamin, a Sri Lankan immigrant who rose to help lead the Peace Corps. What their lives — and his own misadventures and moments of illumination — reveal is that our truest work happens when we serve others, at the intersection between our gifts and our broken world. That’s where we find the work that lasts.

Our Auntie Rosa: The Family of Rosa Parks Remembers Her Life and Lessons
by Sheila McCauley Keys

Tarcher, January 22, 2015, Hardcover

A warrior in the fight for freedom, justice, and equality, Rosa Parks had the vision for a better world. She demonstrated that one person’s actions can indeed make a difference. What many don’t know is the person behind the persona. “Auntie Rosa,” as she was called by the many nieces and nephews she helped raise, extended her love and encouragement to her closest kin. She was a guiding force and inspiration in their lives, and in this remarkable book they share with readers the great wisdom Auntie Rosa imparted to them.

In Our Auntie Rosa the family of Rosa Parks presents a collection of personal remembrances, reflections, and never-before-seen photos and letters that pay tribute to Rosa Parks’s incredible strength and determination. Parks’s brave act on a bus in Alabama on December 1, 1955, was just one moment in a life lived with great humility and decency. Our Auntie Rosa is a life’s instruction manual from one of the most famous figures in American history that will inspire generations to come.

SOS – Calling All Black People: A Black Arts Movement Reader
edited by by John H. Bracey Jr., Sonia Sanchez, James Smethurst

Univ. of Massachusetts Press, February 28, 2014, Paperback

This volume brings together a broad range of key writings from the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, among the most significant cultural movements in American history. The aesthetic counterpart of the Black Power movement, it burst onto the scene in the form of artists circles, writers workshops, drama groups, dance troupes, new publishing ventures, bookstores, and cultural centers and had a presence in practically every community and college campus with an appreciable African American population. Black Arts activists extended its reach even further through magazines such as Ebony and Jet, on television shows such as Soul! and Like It Is, and on radio programs.

Many of the movement s leading artists, including Amiri Baraka, Ed Bullins, Nikki Giovanni, Woodie King, Haki Madhubuti, Sonia Sanchez, Askia Tour, and Val Gray Ward remain artistically productive today. Its influence can also be seen in the work of later artists, from the writers Toni Morrison, John Edgar Wideman, and August Wilson to actors Avery Brooks, Danny Glover, and Samuel L. Jackson, to hip hop artists Mos Def, Talib Kweli, and Chuck D.

S.O.S Calling All Black People includes works of fiction, poetry, and drama in addition to critical writings on issues of politics, aesthetics, and gender. It covers topics ranging from the legacy of Malcolm X and the impact of John Coltrane s jazz to the tenets of the Black Panther Party and the music of Motown. The editors have provided a substantial introduction outlining the nature, history, and legacy of the Black Arts Movement as well as the principles by which the anthology was assembled.

Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the Selma Voting Rights March
by Lynda Blackmon Lowery

Dial, January 8, 2015, Hardcover

A memoir of the Civil Rights Movement from one of its youngest heroes

As the youngest marcher in the 1965 voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Albama, Lynda Blackmon Lowery proved that young adults can be heroes. Jailed eleven times before her fifteenth birthday, Lowery fought alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. for the rights of African-Americans. In this memoir, she shows today’s young readers what it means to fight nonviolently (even when the police are using violence, as in the Bloody Sunday protest) and how it felt to be part of changing American history.

Straightforward and inspiring, this beautifully illustrated memoir brings readers into the middle of the Civil Rights Movement, complementing Common Core classroom learning and bringing history alive for young readers.

Dark Girls

Amistad, November 11, 2014, Hardcover

From the director of the NAACP Award–nominated documentary comes this gorgeous companion book to celebrate dark-skinned women.

Black has never been more beautiful. Dark Girls is a testament to the strength and grace of women everywhere, no matter their skin tone, upbringing, or education. Featuring such celebrities as Lupita Nyong’o, Vanessa Williams, Sheryl Underwood, Judge Mablean, and Loretta Devine, Dark Girls presents outstanding women from all walks of life, sharing intimate insights into what their dark skin means to them.

Combining Barron Claiborne’s brilliant photography, Shelia Moses’s touching narrative, and Bill Duke’s extraordinary vision, Dark Girls is a beautiful and empowering work to be treasured by women of all ages. This thoughtful, sophisticated, and uplifting collection captures the elegance of dark skin—joyfully showcasing that we truly are beautiful for who we are.

X: A Novel
by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon

Candlewick, January 6, 2015, Hardcover

Co-written by Malcolm X’s daughter, this riveting and revealing novel follows the formative years of the man whose words and actions shook the world.

Malcolm Little’s parents have always told him that he can achieve anything, but from what he can tell, that’s a pack of lies—after all, his father’s been murdered, his mother’s been taken away, and his dreams of becoming a lawyer have gotten him laughed out of school. There’s no point in trying, he figures, and lured by the nightlife of Boston and New York, he escapes into a world of fancy suits, jazz, girls, and reefer. But Malcolm’s efforts to leave the past behind lead him into increasingly dangerous territory. Deep down, he knows that the freedom he’s found is only an illusion—and that he can’t run forever.

X follows Malcolm from his childhood to his imprisonment for theft at age twenty, when he found the faith that would lead him to forge a new path and command a voice that still resonates today.

A Christmas Prayer by Kimberla Lawson Roby

Grand Central Publishing
October 28, 2014
Hardcover

Alexis Fletcher hasn’t had a merry Christmas in five years-not since her mother passed away. Every December she remembers the joy her mother brought to everyone during the holiday season and feels the pain of her absence, even more so now that she and her sister are barely speaking. More than anything, Alexis wishes her family could be whole again.

However, with her wedding fast approaching, Alexis might just be ready to make some holiday memories with a new family of her own. Alexis’s fiance, Chase Dupont, is everything she ever dreamed of. He’s kind, handsome, fully supportive of Alexis’s career, and the CEO of a large company. But outside forces threaten to derail this happy couple from ever reaching the altar.

As tensions rise, a dramatic event causes Alexis to question everything. Will fate give her what she needs to finally embrace the season that has brought her so much pain? Will Alexis get her wish for a happy holiday? Or will her Christmas prayer go unanswered?

Living in Fear by Keyanna Ford



NCM Publishing
July 29, 2014
Paperback

Tia Green came from Kalamazoo, a small town in Michigan. From the time she was a child, Tia had known exactly what she wanted out of life and had already dreamed about how to get it a thousand times over. Tia had always planned on attending the University of Michigan with her childhood friend where they both wanted to become nurses. She worked hard in high school and made sure she got good grades. Eventually, that hard work paid off. She was admitted early to U of M with a full scholarship. After going on the college tour, life changed for her in ways she would have never believed!

Ace was the guy that everybody dreamed they had. He was smart, sexy, and athletic, not to mention, the star of University of Michigan’s football team. See, Ace turned heads wherever he went, and people were always striving for his attention, but Ace could care less. He was a player who didn’t believe in giving his heart away to any female due to his childhood, but that all changed when he met Tia. She was everything he had ever wanted, and most importantly, she reminded him of his late mother whom he lost at a young age.

Ace thought Tia was perfect for him. He thought he would finally get the family he had always wanted. He never imagined she’d betray him, especially not with the only other person he loved! Tia and Ace started with a fairy tale romance, truly in love.

As true colors bleed out from the cracks of their exteriors, the couple discovered that their fairy tale romance was turning into a painful nightmare and the dream-filled partnership was on its way to ruins.

About the Author:
Keyanna was born and raised in Kalamazoo, MI. She has always been into school but never knew exactly what she wanted to do. She graduated from Loy Norrix High School in 2005 with high honors and went to college where she studied Criminal Justice at Kalamazoo Valley Community College first then went on to get her bachelors at Western Michigan University where she doubled major and graduated with two majors in Criminal Justice and Social Psychology. After going through a bad situation, Keyanna decided to write about it where she discovered her love for writing and that’s how her debut novel “Living in Fear” came to life.

Ebony Magazine’s Book Features for August 2014

Ebony Magazine’s book selections for August 2014, featuring their “Great Book Club Finds” (Angela Burt-Murray’s “Games Divas Play,” Dwayne Alexander Smith’s “Forty Acres,” and Wayne Pharr’s “Nine Lives of a Black Panther: A Story of Survival,” Zane’s “The Other Side of the Pillow”):

Games Divas Play (A Diva Mystery Novel)

by Angela Burt-Murray

Thomas & Mercer
July 29, 2014
Paperback

An ambitious entertainment reporter, millionaire basketball player, desperate wife, scandalous groupie, and murderous stalker. Games Divas Play takes you inside the high-stakes world of professional sports, where everyone plays to win.

When Nia Bullock lands a job as editor-in-chief of the hot new magazine and web site DivaDish, she finds that her platinum dreams can quickly turn into a nightmare. Battling backstabbing colleagues and reeling from murderous threats, she must turn to an ex-boyfriend for help.

Vanessa King, the first lady of the NBA, is looking for a fresh start with her husband, Marcus, the new star point guard for the New York Gladiators who’s as popular with the ladies as he is with hoops fans. Since marrying her college sweetheart, Vanessa has learned to deal with life with a professional athlete — the groupies, the paparazzi, and the unchecked ego of a man the sports world puts on a pedestal.

When Laila James, self-proclaimed “Golden Goddess,” sets her sights on Marcus and shops a reality show based on their affair — and then a dangerous stalker threatens his family — Vanessa turns to her best friend Nia to save her marriage and her life.

In the first book in the Diva Mystery series, three women engage in a ruthless battle for love and the limelight, and soon learn what it really takes to stay on top.



Forty Acres: A Thriller

Dwayne Alexander Smith

Atria Books
July 1, 2014

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’e 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.

Nine Lives of a Black Panther: A Story of Survival
by Wayne Pharr

Chicago Review Press
July 1, 2014
Hardcover

In the early morning hours of December 8, 1969, three hundred officers of the newly created elite paramilitary tactical unit known as SWAT initiated a violent battle with a handful of Los Angeles-based members of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (BPP). Five hours and five thousand rounds of ammunition later, three SWAT team members and three Black Panthers lay wounded. From a tactical standpoint, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) considered the encounter a disaster. For the Panthers and the community that supported them, the shootout symbolized a victory. A key contributor to that victory was the nineteen-year-old rank-and-file member of the BPP Wayne Pharr.

Nine Lives of a Black Panther tells Wayne’s riveting story of the Los Angeles branch of the BPP and gives a blow-by-blow account of how it prepared for and survived the massive military-style attack. Because of his dedication to the black liberation struggle, Wayne was hunted, beaten, and almost killed by the LAPD in four separate events. Here he reveals how the branch survived attacks such as these, and also why BPP cofounder Huey P. Newton expelled the entire Southern California chapter and deemed it “too dangerous to remain a part of the national organization.

The Los Angeles branch was the proving ground for some of the most beloved and colorful characters in Panther lore, including Bunchy Carter, Masai Hewitt, Geronimo “ji-Jaga” Pratt, and Elaine Brown. Nine Lives fills in a missing piece of Black Panther history, while making clear why black Los Angeles was home to two of the most devastating riots in the history of urban America. But it also eloquently relates one man’s triumph over police terror, internal warfare, and personal demons. It will doubtless soon take its place among the classics of black militant literature.

The Other Side of the Pillow
by Zane

Atria Books
August 5, 2014
Hardcover

The New York Times bestselling Queen of Erotica, Zane is back with a new novel about a testy love affair that emerges between a woman who’s had enough and a man who’s had it all.

Jemistry Daniels is a bitter woman and not trying to hide it. Even though she is beautiful, intelligent, and makes six figures a year as a high school principal in Washington, DC, one man after another has failed her. So she decides to give up and join the party by adapting the entire “friends with benefits” mentality with a couple of men that she beds on the regular but refuses to hold any kind of real conversation with, in fear that she might actually catch feelings.

Everything is going according to plan until she meets Dr. Tevin Harris, a prominent vascular surgeon, one night at a poetry slam. Tevin listens to her deliver her male-bashing poem and instead of steering away from her like most men with any common sense would do, he asks her out. Tevin has been casually dating for years, ever since his failed marriage to Estella. They had suffered several miscarriages and the emotional pain had become too much for either one of them to bear and still wake up with each other every morning.

Opening up, gaining trust, tearing down barriers, and ultimately, having the audacity to love again is not easy for either Jemistry or Tevin. It takes a lot of transparency, emotional honesty, and patience to even begin to build a life together by helping each other rebuild what has been broken. The Other Side of the Pillow examines, explores, and exposes what it means to truly fall in love. It proves that true love stories do not have a happy ending. True love stories never end at all.

Teach Me How to Fly by Alberta Lampkins

A.L. Savvy Publications
July 5, 2014
Paperback

“Settle down and take a journey through a heartrending story of faith, friendship and forgiveness as secrets unravel and the truth unfolds.”

Teach Me How to Fly is a true to life story of Jocelyn Hamilton, wife of a retired Army Sergeant Major and coffee shop owner in Buffalo, New York, and her friend, Angel Medina, a fashion clothing designer. Jocelyn sets out on a train ride headed from New York to Virginia. She is determined to find the truth behind a secret her mother never shared. Jocelyn thought she knew everything there was to know about her mother – that is until she received that phone call.

Jocelyn’s curiosity leads her back to her mother’s hometown of Martinsville, Virginia, to meet the one lady who can give her the answers she is looking for. While Jocelyn is busy putting the pieces of her life together, her friend, Angel Medina, is desperately seeking to keep her past tucked away. Angel soon comes face to face with the one person she hoped she would never see again. What happens to a broken soul left untreated? Can you escape what lies behind you? How do you learn to forgive? Jocelyn and Angel find strength through their unexpected friendship in Teach Me How Fly.

Rose Gold: An Easy Rawlins Mystery by Walter Mosley

Doubleday
September 23, 2014
Hardcover

Rose Gold is two colors, one woman, and a big headache.

In this new mystery set in the Patty Hearst era of radical black nationalism and political abductions, a black ex-boxer self-named Uhuru Nolica, the leader of a revolutionary cell called Scorched Earth, has kidnapped Rosemary Goldsmith, the daughter of a weapons manufacturer, from her dorm at UC Santa Barbara. If they don’t receive the money, weapons, and apology they demand, “Rose Gold” will die — horribly and publicly. So the FBI, the State Department, and the LAPD turn to Easy Rawlins, the one man who can cross the necessary borders to resolve this dangerous standoff.

With twelve previous adventures since 1990, Easy Rawlins is one of the small handful of private eyes in contemporary crime fiction who can be called immortal.

Ebony Magazine’s Book Features 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!

Interview with Earl Middleton

Author 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.

Author Earl MiddletonA 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’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.

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.

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!!!