Music, Money, Madness, and the Mob
By Matt Birkbeck
On Sale: 9/16/2008
Sammy Davis Jr. lived a storied life. Adored by millions over a six-decade-long career, he was considered an entertainment icon and a national treasure. But despite lifetime earnings that topped $50 million, Sammy died in 1990 near bankruptcy. His estate was declared insolvent, and there was no possibility of it ever using Sammy’s name or likeness again. It was as if Sammy had never existed.
Years later his wife, Altovise, a once-vivacious woman and heir to one of the greatest entertainment legacies of the twentieth century, was living in poverty, and with nowhere else to go, she turned to a former federal prosecutor, Albert “Sonny” Murray, to make one last attempt to resolve Sammy’s debts, restore his estate, and revive his legacy. For seven years, Sonny probed Sammy’s life to understand how someone of great notoriety and wealth could have lost everything, and in the process he came to understand Sammy as a man whose complexity makes for a riveting work of celebrity biography as cultural history.
Matt Birkbeck’s serious work of investigative journalism unveils the extraordinary story of an international celebrity at the center of a confluence of entertainment, politics, and organized crime, and shows how even Sammy’s outsized talent couldn’t save him from himself.
Like many young people who join the military, Wayne Jackson wanted to serve his country and go on an adventure beyond the confines of Mineola, Long Island where he grew up. As a Military Policeman in Baumholder, Germany he served Uncle Sam and took sometime to travel throughout Europe.
When he was deployed to Saudi Arabia in 1990, his unit was filled with confidence and youthfulness. During their tour of duty, his unit, along with Army engineers, constructed some of the first detention camps in Iraq. His platoon was attached to a unit of Army intelligence officers and he assisted with the apprehension and interrogation of Saddam Hussein’s spies that operated covertly in the cities of Safwan and Basra. Eventually, Wayne’s unit was awarded for processing over 10,000 enemy prisoners of war. However, after six months of witnessing the atrocities and rapid degradation of mankind, Wayne Jackson knew he’d never be the same.
Once he returned to Germany, Wayne was reassigned to Ft. Jackson, South Carolina where he later became a member of the Special Reaction Team (SWAT). There, he served the remaining years of his service tussling with PTSD and the dramatic aftermath its malignant destruction. Once he was honorably discharged the demons of the past were always around the corner and once his beloved mother died in 2001, they came calling and Wayne resorted to alcohol and became one of the walking wounded like many other former soldiers suffering from PTSD
After a period of darkness, Wayne was able to find his way back to life through writing. Although he never considered himself a writer, Wayne actually began journaling his military experiences in 1988 when he joined the Army. Instead of writing about his experience in Saudi Arabia, Wayne found a sense of peace and creative zeal that was dormant for a long time, which is how the In Lieu of Light Series was born.
Wayne Jackson has a unique perspective that relates to both soldiers and civilians. In Lieu of Light (Dailey Swan Publishing May 2008) has received terrific reviews and is amongst the showcased titles at the BEA in LA.
The following is an interview with Wayne by Eric Brasley of Books of Soul conducted on October 19, 2008.
- I have to ask the most obvious question first, what was your inspiration for writing In Lieu of Light?
To be honest and off the cuff, Eric, when I was living in South Carolina, I found myself at the lowest point of my life. I was in a very dark place spiritually after witnessing the death of my mother and taking on the huge responsibility of raising my younger brother.
Although the basic blueprint for the story began years prior, after reading the first three novels of Anne Rice’s Vampire series, I discovered a missing element and wanted to capitalize on it. I wasn’t sure how to approach the story until I found myself empty and spiritually bankrupt. I was then able to harness the negative energy and make it work for me.
So in short, I would say several tragic moments in my life have ignited my ambition and Anne Rice has inspired me to write about them.
- Did your military experience help in developing your novel?
Yes. I would say that my military experience most certainly has tempered me as an artist. Having experienced war and combat I knew then I wasn’t going to make a career out of the Army. The atrocities that I witnessed still linger and from time to time I am able to draw from memory just how brutal (mankind) can be.
I used photography and writing as my avenue of escape while we marched forward as the rawest element on earth.
- Authors seem to approach the task of writing in different ways — writing certain scenes first & building a story, writing the end first, etc. How do you write? Did you have a favorite time? A favorite spot?
I call my approach to writing “drops in a bucket.” First, let me say you must have an outline before you can begin, it’s the most practical blueprint. The writer can always alter the basic blueprint as the story evolves but you should begin with the basics, after that it’s just drops in a bucket.
Whenever a thought comes to me I have a pen and some paper or I use my hand so as not to lose the idea. At the end of the month, I place all the writing in separate folders that correlate to the sections of the outline. Then after a few months, I begin to piece the story together using the collective material.
So far as a favorite place or time, I’d say no. But if I needed a character analysis, I would sit for hours in a coffee shop or a mall and write descriptive details of the patrons as they passed. I’m sure many thought of me as some psycho or pervert, shooting glances at them. But what better way to create a character of fiction than from the living?
- What shaped your writing style? Where did you get your writing experience and hone your “chops”?
For this question I would have to refer back to the first question, but to expound by saying my grandmother (Laverne Jackson) was an awesome creative writer and has also in some way inspired me. I must give credit to the dearly departed.
- Can you introduce us to Sabrina and Chantelle, the Le’Noach sisters? How did you come up with these characters?
The two sisters, Sabrina and Chantelle, both bi-racial children, grew up on their father’s plantation in post-slavery South Carolina. Most of their lives, they lived under the protection of their father and his estate but in some ways are bound to the land because of racial barriers.
One tranquil evening while they were playing on the outskirts of the plantation, they encountered young white men from the neighboring estate. A conflict ensues, and the young women and their brother fight for their lives. A chain of events occur and Sabrina is abducted by a stranger (a vampire) that was passing through toward Charleston.
Sabrina’s inner strength and beauty is what saves her from the vampire’s thirst and an untimely death. The vampire obligates Sabrina to do his bidding and to help him kill another vampire. In turn, he sets her free. Sabrina returns several years’ later craving companionship and family. She leads her younger sister astray, into a dark and seedy life, a lifestyle that Chantelle finds repulsive.
(Sorry, I speak vaguely so not give too much away)
The two sisters represent how we each deal with traumatic moments in life. How we choose separate paths in order to cope with a negative experience. I believe everyone has found themselves in a dark place spiritually and some want to free themselves of it in search of redemption. Others like Sabrina choose to dwell in darkness and, as their malignant life continues, their hatred grows too.
- Horror fiction always has its “gotcha” moment, either something suspenseful or something gory, that has the reader turning the page. You don’t have to give too much away but what scenes or events will give your readers the chills?
I would have to say the slaughterhouse chapter. Many readers are taken aback by what occurs in the slaughterhouse, when Sabrina is carried off by the group of boys and into the slaughterhouse. Then the vampire is provoked by their aggression and exacts his own nature upon everyone.
- You have plans for a second volume. What’s next? What seeds are you planting in this novel that will carry us to the next one?
The second novel is complete and due to be released April of 09. The seeds planted in the first book are the mysterious years that Sabrina was missing before her return to the United States. I write about her adventure with her abductor in England while they tracked his maker.
I also lead the reader into Chantelle’s quest for redemption and her search for religion which doesn’t help her situation on a personal level but reveals a cure. Chantelle realizes she must first be released from Sabrina’s fettered love in order for the cure to work.
- What are your plans for marketing and promoting your novel? Are you looking forward to the book readings and booksignings?
Other than selling books out of the trunk of my car and soliciting book stores for signings, I leave the rest to my agent and publisher. They pretty much tell me what to do and where to go and sometimes not in a nice way.
- Do you belong to any writer groups?
I use to belong to a writing group when I lived in Miami while I was promoting this book. They were very supportive and we took turns critiquing each others’ work. I recommend writers that are just getting started to join.
I would like to join another group but at the moment I’m just inundated by the demands of my agent and the endless pursuit to sell more books. I feel I spend a great deal more time marketing than writing.
- What horror authors do you look up to?
I don’t really look up to any horror authors I was relegated to this genre by my publisher. He said, “If it’s got gore and vampires, it’s Horror.” I believe it’s more suspense with a touch of gore but a story of inspiration as told from a macabre viewpoint.
- If I was to peruse your book shelves, what would I find?
I have a very long book shelf. Most books that I have read I’ve donate to the library or VA Hospital where I’m employed. If you perused my “shelf,” you’d find:
Anne Rice’s collection
Edgar Allan Poe’s collective works
Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray
Ernest Hemmingway’s The Garden of Eden
Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita
Bram Stoker’s Dracula
C.S. Lewis’ The Screw Tape Letters
Franz Kafka’s book of short stories
T.S. Elliot’s The Waste Land
Elizabeth Nunez’ Prospero’s Daughter
Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye
You would also find a host of poetry books, and books on fine cooking and photography.
- Since it’s Halloween time…. What was your favorite costume? And, what got you scared as a kid?
The most frightening is the clown costume. I don’t know why but some people should not wear that costume. I usually keep it simple and dress up as a monk or the Grim Reaper. It saves time and money.
- What is the creepiest thing you’ve ever eaten?
As a child, I was forced to eat “cow tongue.” I sat at the table and cried for an eternity but my uncle made me eat it. He called it a delicacy. I called it awful and abusive.
- Back to writing, what is your favorite part? Developing plots, creating characters, writing dialog or something else?
My favorite would be writing characters and being descriptive as possible. A person’s mannerisms can tell a story alone, and too many writers get caught-up in dialog. Of course, dialogue can move a story but without a good description of the characters, the story has little depth. Many words can be said without the character even speaking.
- Do you have any tips for your fellow writers? Anything that has worked for you in writing, finding a publisher & agent, in promoting your book?
The best advice I can give is to believe in yourself even when others don’t! Take criticisms lightly but pay attention to a good critique. Above all, don’t sign a thing without sound legal advice even if you have to pay for it.
Over the years I’ve saved a few bad contracts that I refused to sign and occasionally I pull them out of my briefcase and look at them. It fuels my ambition.
Other people will recognize your talent and do their best to exploit you. Many people want a free ride at the cost of your talent, sacrifice, and hard work. Don’t give credence to their cause!!!!
Title: 2009 Romance Writers of America Annual Conference
Location: Washington, D.C.
Link out: Click here
Description: RWA is proud to host its 29th Annual National Conference in Washington, D.C., at Marriott Wardman Park Hotel.
Be sure the join us in Washington, D.C., to enhance your writing and knowledge of the ins and outs of publishing at more than 100 workshops; get the inside track at panels and round-tables featuring publishing professionals; schedule a one-on-one pitch meeting with an acquiring editor or literary agent; attend parties and network with the stars of romance fiction; and be a part of RWA\’s massive, 500-author strong \”Readers for Life\” charity book signing. And let\’s not forget the 2009 RITA and Golden Heart Awards.
Title: 2008 La Jolla Writers Conference
Location: San Diego, CA
Link out: Click here
Description: Welcomes writers of all levels of experience. This three-day event, now in its 8th year, always boasts exciting, interactive workshops, lectures, and presentations by an outstanding and freely accessible faculty comprised of best-selling authors, editors from major publishing houses, and literary agents, all of whom value meeting and working with a diverse group of creative people passionate about writing.
Start Date: 2008-11-07
End Date: 2008-11-09
Title: 2008 Men of Mystery
Location: Irvine Marriott, CA
Link out: Click here
Description: This annual event offers attendees the chance to visit with and get books signed by more than 50 male mystery writers — everything from legal thrillers to surfer P.I.\’s. Featured Speakers in 2008 are Andrew Gross (The Dark Tide), and a special legal thriller team of Paul Levine (Trial & Error), Sheldon Siegel (Judgment Day), Robert Tanenbaum (Escape), James Grippando (Last Call) and Alfredo Barrios. San Diego\’s own Ken Kuhlken, Jeffrey J. Mariotte, and Christopher Reich are highlights among the men from all over the nation, and all over the genre.
Start Time: 09:00
End Time: 16:00
Sasha Diamond, fresh out of a relationship with a cheating boyfriend, is ready to give up on love when she meets Sexton, an NBA star. Although she is immediately attracted to the handsome athlete, she is haunted by her doubts about men … doubts that are reinforced when her best friend, Tiara, finds out that her husband has been frequenting prostitutes. Sexton persists, eventually wearing down Sasha’s resistance, but then she’s confronted with seemingly incontrovertible evidence that he’s betrayed her. Now Sasha must choose between trusting Sexton or giving him up for good.
Michele Cameron was born in Connecticut and is a graduate of North Carolina A & T State University in Greensboro. She teaches high school English in Orlando Florida by day and pursues her love of writing in her spare time.
October 4, 2008 *Romance * Mass Market Paperback
304 pages * 6.99
In This Life Isn’t Perfect, Kimberly, a middle class wife and mother who has really let herself go over the years, and her handsome, camera-ready husband, Daniel, go their separate ways—after nearly two decades. That should have been the difficult part, but they soon discover starting over will be their real challenge.
Sandra Marie Foy is originally from Tunica, Mississippi, her debut novel is This Life Isn’t Perfect. Following medical obstacles with her youngest son, Sandra became a stay-at-home mom as well as a full-time writer. She lives in Worcester, Massachusetts with her family.
November 4, 2008 *Romance * Mass Market Paperback
304 pages * 6.99
Craig Thompson has a problem: His grandfather has just left him $3 million, but the only way he can get his hands on the money is if he’s married. According to the will, Thompson must be married for at least three months before the bank will hand over the money. Craig thinks he’s got the solution in hand: his childhood friend Renee. They made a childish promise to marry when they were both very young, and now Craig is determined to get her to follow through. Renee has problems of her own: an ex has stolen her life savings and is now threatening her safety. A marriage, even for three months, seems a godsend. However, the old sparks quickly heat up, and before long Craig and Renee are fighting to keep their love alive in the face of their own secrets … and an unexpected enemy who wants Craig’s money and will go to any lengths to get it.
Bernice Layton was born and raised in Baltimore Maryland. Bernice is married and still lives in the city she loves. Promises Made is her debut novel.
November 4, 2008 *Romance * Mass Market Paperback
304 pages * 6.99
Kayla, veteran of too many failed relationships, has sworn off men for good, or so she claims. However, that was before she met the guy three doors down. Now, all she can think of is sexy Marley Jarnette. Marley knows he has an uphill battle if he wants to win Kayla’s heart, but he soon finds he has some unexpected allies: Kayla’s two daughters, who are tired of their lives being affected by their mother’s promise. Will their help be enough to help Kayla realize that she needs Marley to make her life complete?
Michele Sudler lives in the small East Coast town of Smyrna, Delaware. Busy raising her three children, Gregory, Takira, and Kanika Lambert, she finds time for her second passion, writing, in the evenings and on weekends. After attending Delaware State College, majoring in Business Administration, she began and continues to work in the corporate banking industry. Besides spending time with her children and writing, she enjoys playing and watching basketball, traveling, party planning, and reading in her spare time.
September 3, 2008 *Romance * Mass Market Paperback
304 pages * 6.99
Awl’s well that ends well?
On the eve of her acceptance of the Torchbearer Award, an industry honor for the romance writer who best represents the genre, Khela Halliday reveals the deepest, darkest secret of her heart—that she doesn’t believe in love. Not at first sight, second glance, everlasting or springing eternal. But love just might be in Khela’s future when handsome handyman Carter Radcliffe helps her save face during the award’s weekend ceremonies. Alluring, intelligent and delightfully wacky, Khela interests Carter more than he’d like. Women typically wanted only one thing from him, and rarely was it the one thing he wanted to give. Through Khela’s books, Carter finds the tools to unlock her impenetrable heart, all the while wondering if he can raze his own defenses to let her into his.
Mr. Fix-It is a riveting tale of a hot handyman who loosens the screws of an uptight romance novelist who doesn’t believe in love.
Crystal Hubbard’s debut novel was Suddenly You. She followed it up with Only You, and, in March 2007, Crush, which was her first inter-racial romance. A former reporter and sports copy editor, Crystal is a full-time writer who works from home so she can also be a full-time mother to her four children. Crystal has had an interesting career history that has allowed her to “Gump” her way into extraordinary situations, from arguments with Tipper Gore to being sideswiped by a limo containing Bishop Desmond Tutu. She celebrates real-life characters through her efforts as an award-winning children’s book author. Crystal is an accomplished cake decorator and also enjoys boxing, tennis and seeking out new confectionaries when she travels.
September 3, 2008
Mass Market Paperback
304 pages * 6.99
Up at the College
by Michele Andrea Bowen
Available April 2009
UP AT THE COLLEGE is the second novel in a three-part series about the lives of contemporary African American church folk who live in Durham, North Carolina. Yvonne Fountain Copeland’s world turns upside down when her husband of fifteen years decides to leave her because their marriage was getting boring. Yvonne returns to her hometown of Durham, North Carolina, to try and pick up the pieces of her life.
Coach Curtis Parker seems to have it all: money, a successful coaching career at Evangeline T. Marshall University, plus he’s great-looking, single and childless.
Yvonne and Curtis are both spinning around in circles trying to attain happiness without God’s help and what began as a series of “why me’s” evolves into an extraordinary journey consisting of victory, faith, joy and love.
Shelley Parsons is pleased to announce the last installment of a two book series. Rosebud. After reading, “Quieting the Storm”, readers wanted to know more about one of the back characters; Rose.
“RoseBud” is a story that takes the reader through the many ups and downs of life to the beginning days of this dynamic character to the future. Although “Rosebud” is fiction based, the author takes you on a metaphysical journey that will surprise you and make you think twice about our presence on this planet. Rosebud delves into many issues but the most crucial are the ramifications of sexual abuse and the cycle of changes that derive from the pain and different levels of behavior that the consequences manifest. If you thought “Quieting the Storm” was a page turner, be ready to sit down and not get up until the last word is read. “Rosebud” is deep, insightful and exciting.
Just came back from the Leimert Park Book Festival. It was a wonderful sunny, soulful event. I met many great writers and saw the famous Nikki Giovanni read. What a treat! Today I am off to BEA at the convention center in LA. Visit me at www.pamwardwriter.com and see my new book BAD GIRLS BURN SLOW a vicious, lower the casket, cat and mouse dance. And for those who have not gotten my first book yet, WANT SOME GET SOME is a heart attack in print. Filled with car chases, bank robbery and good ol’ boxing-match sex. It is everything LA and then some.
Publisher: Dafina (March 1, 2007)
Trudy, a.k.a. “Trudy with the Booty,” knows what she wants and how to get it. But a better life far away from the jacked-up streets of South Central L.A. needs to be financed, and she can’t think about leaving without handing some sweet payback to Lil’ Steve, her slick talking ex. Ever since he started selling nude videos of her to the neighborhood men, Trudy can barely walk the streets. His demise would be the icing on the cake. But Trudy’s plan to get even and escape the ghetto is more than risky–it may be the worst mistake of her life. Having recruited a crew of hustlers, car-jackers, and homewreckers who hang out at the seedy nightclub, Dee’s Parlor, where she sings nights after working days as a bank teller, Trudy is ready to put her scheme into action–a heist that can make them all rich. There’s just one problem: Jimmy, a stone-cold killer who doesn’t like being ripped off. And while the best laid plans often do go awry, no one could have guessed where this wild, crazy ride takes this cast of bumbling lawbreakers and heartbreakers as they scramble over and under each other to get what they want.
A fast-paced, exhilarating drama with sharply drawn characters, sultry writing, and a fierce intensity of emotion, Want Some, Get Some is a brilliantly assured debut. A promising new talent, Pam Ward brings a woman’s sense of bravado to a boy’s game.