Tag Archives: Authors

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.

Author Earl Middleton

Interview with Earl Middleton

Author Earl MiddletonAuthor Earl Middleton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Shashana Page

Interview with Shashana Page

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LaDonna Marie

Interview with LaDonna Marie

LaDonna MarieLaDonna Marie is an author, writer, poet, and motivational speaker. She is a Program Coordinator at Goodwill Industries and a contracted Therapist at Malinda Graham & Associates. She is originally from Mississippi and now lives in GA. She discovered her love for words early and started writing poetry pre-teen. It was always her childhood dream to become an author. She loves creating an atmosphere for learning and growth. She has also been a public and motivational speaker for numerous youth groups.

She received her undergraduate degree from Alcorn State University in 2005 with a B.A. in Social Work. She has a M.S. in Counseling Studies from Capella University and a M.A. from South University in Professional Counseling in 2012. LaDonna has two wonderful children, Landon and Lathan Cook.

Ladonna wants her true passion of love of writing, her encouraging word, her humble spirit, and compassion for people to be her message. She uses her poetry to release & teach lessons of growth and evolving from transformations in life. Her biggest motivation is to touch someone with her words and engage them to want to change their perspective. She believes that anyone can change the situation they are in. She believes in being positive and fighting for what one would like to happen. She feels that becoming a writer and her love for words, are her greatest gift from God.

She became apart of and The League of American Poets in 2007, in a collective anthology called Whispers. In 2012, she received a Certificate of Congratulation from Congressman Bennie Thompson 2nd district of MS. Also she was inducted into Who’s Who in Black Mississippi in 2012. In 2013 Best of Liberty Contest she was listed as runner up in the Writer category. Also in November 2013 with her dedication to the youth, she launched her first youth for Christ conference, called Planting Positive Seeds, to help motivate, encourage, and empower the youth. In 2014, she is featured in The Gospel According to Poetry : An Anthology, also in Sibella Women’s Poetry Magazine for the entire year. In 2014, she landed the January cover of Precious Stone Magazine, with Poetry Features and Author interviews in YoUnique Magazine, Shine Magazine, C Hub Magazine and Image & Style Magazines to spread her words of empowerment.

Publications

In 2010, she self-published her first book, Expressions of the Mind, Body, & Soul with Xilibris publishing company. She started writing to put a voice to issues that she felt needed to be expressed This is a book of collective poetry that talks about love, relationships, spirituality, and encouragement. Her motto is “Poetry is an outlet for the heart”.

Her second book Until Tomorrow Comes was released in September 2013. This book will also be an eclectic look at growth and awareness while using creative expressions in poetry. Her books can be found on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. She is looking in the future to continue writing about encouragement, relationships, and children books.

1. What is your inspiration behind your poetry? At what point, did you want to be a writer/poet?
My inspiration behind my poetry is to motivate and empower others. Poetry became my voice to speak on perceptions I had about life experiences growing up and others that I noticed in day to day life. I often use my pen to bring awareness about love, growth and relationships being able to positively transition in making life better each day at a time.

 
I started writing during pre-teen, and just wanted to journal things to be able to write out my emotions. I knew after I got to high school, that I wanted to be author and a poet. I started to writing sonnets, love poems and learning about the different styles of poetry. Then as my interest increased I started to write more and more each day from them until now. In high school, I met Nikki Giovanni and Maya Angelou, I started reading their work and being inspired to use my love of poetry to speak to others.

 
2. What would be your choice, reading a poem or writing one?
In the beginning when I started writing, I only wanted to be the voice behind the words. Until about a year ago, When God spoke to me to start doing some motivational speaking and sharing my poetry. Now, I love both experiences of writing and reading poem that will uplift or enlighten others. I now recite the poems with the same passion that I write them with.

 
3. How often do you write (and re-write)? What is your process for writing?
My writing process is based off of inspiration, whenever God gives me a piece. I immediately get a feeling in my chest or a whisper of a line in my head. Then, I start to pull out my pen, pad and write. I normally look over poems about 3 times before I finalize it. During that time I will change anything that I don’t feel with work.

 
4. What are you reading now? What is on your nightstand?
I am reading Never Again, No More A Novel by Author Untamed, and L.A.P.D. Life after a painful Divorce by Pastor J.K. Sanders

 
5. Do you have an author crush? Any favorite authors? How about a poem or book that you wish you had written?
No, author crush, but one of my favorite authors is G.P.A. Greatest Poet Alive aka James Gordon. I have all of his six poetry books, to name a few: The Confessional Heart of a Man, The Mind of a Poetic Unsub and his new release Hi, My Name is Bobo.

 
6. What’s next for you and Until Tomorrow Comes?
Right now I am working on a new empowerment poetry book for girls, that should be coming out soon. I am also working with an artist to get a single made for Until Tomorrow Comes. I have been featuring UTC in Magazines and also in the UK. I would love to continue to share my poetry with the world, with hopes of inspires others.

Until Tomorrow Comes by LaDonna Marie
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, September 25, 2013, Paperback

Author LaDonna Marie wants to introduce through her poetry a journey of growth and awareness with different life experiences. She shares her poetry in efforts to spark reflections and enlighten the reader on your own journey as well. Look inside and answer these questions. Are you feeling lost in some areas of your life? Are you on the verge of giving up? Are you seeking to become stronger and independent? Are you seeking a deeper connection in your spirituality? In answering these questions you may find some come instantly and some may take time. So Until Tomorrow Comes, let’s approach each a day with a positive outlook while finding yourself.

Black Authors and Readers Rock, October 19-20, Maryland

The Reading Divas presents its 5th Annual Literary Event — The First BLACK AUTHORS & READERS ROCK WEEKEND!

Friday & Saturday October 19 & 20, 2012
at the Metro Points Hotel
8500 Annapolis Road, New Carrollton, MD

Friday 7 -11 pm
Reception/Book Club Meeting including the Book Launch of “An Angry Ass Black Woman” by Karen Quinones Miller​ and a Book Club Meeting featuring Pamela Samuels Young‘s latest novel, “Attorney Client Privilege.”

An Angry-Ass Black Woman by Karen E. Quinones Miller
Gallery Books/Karen Hunter Publishing
Available October 2, 2012 in Paperback

This sassy, shocking autobiographical novel captures the racial tensions, the hardships, and the bonds that formed between families and neighbors growing up poor in Harlem.

The Essence bestselling author of Uptown Dreams delivers a fictionalized look at the life she lived before she achieved success as an established writer. “Ke-Ke” (Kay-Kay) grew up on 117th Street in extreme poverty. After an accident leaves her in a coma in her late forties, her beloved family around her in the hospital, she remembers moments from her childhood and the events that would later shape her desires to get out of Harlem and make something of herself. Her sometimes poignant and sometimes hilarious memories — like trying to rob the landlord to pay her family’s back rent — are interspersed with her present-day family’s concerns for her health. Filled with vibrant anecdotes about childhood in Harlem and her journey from dropping out of school, to re-entering and graduating from college, becoming a journalist and then an author, Miller showcases the love experienced by her family and neighbors and the bond secured between them as part of their common upbringing.

When a hotshot L.A. lawyer takes on a corporation with a long history of discriminating against women, her quest for justice is hindered by a brutal murder, missing documents and an unscrupulous opposing counsel.

Goldman House Publishing
Available June 9, 2012 in Paperback

Saturday Morning 9-11:45
Workshops/Panels:

  • Is Urban Lit Really Literature
  • So You Wanna Write
  • What Impact has the Ebook had on Black Publishing
  • How to Start, Improve and Get the Most Out of Your Book Club

Noon Luncheon 12-3
Featuring Mary Monroe

God Don’t Make No Mistakes by Mary Monroe

Available by Dafina on June 1, 2012 in Hardcover

In the sparkling conclusion to Mary Monroe‘s bestselling God series, two forever friends face their biggest betrayals yet and learn the hard way that putting your trust in the wrong hands can change your life forever!

These days, Annette Goode Davis has a pretty full plate–literally and figuratively. Although she’s trying to reconcile with her husband, Pee Wee, she’s still seeing other men on the side. A woman’s got to cover her bases, right? With her love life hopping, Annette should be as pleased as punch. Instead, the stress has her eating everything in sight and packing on the pounds along the way.

Meanwhile, Annette’s best friend, Rhoda O’Toole, has her hands full–as usual–dealing with her wild child daughter. Jade has always been a cross to bear, but when her antics almost cost Rhoda her man, Rhoda throws Jade out on the street. But Jade soon finds a way to make Rhoda regret her choice.

Privately, Annette thanks her lucky stars that her daughter, Charlotte, has her head on straight. And she’s been doubly blessed to have a strait-laced neighbor look after Charlotte when she’s caught up in Pee Wee and Rhoda’s many problems. But when Annette’s world is rocked by a terrible revelation, she’ll discover that appearances can be very, very deceiving–and she’ll have to summon every ounce of strength she has to protect the ones she loves.

Early Bird Tickets/(after 9/15)
Friday Only – $20/($30)
Saturday Only – $40/($50)
Combined Ticket – $55/($75)

Click on link below to buy tickets!
www.readersrock.eventbrite.com
or send certified check or money order to

The Reading Divas
P O Box 102, Glenndale, MD 20769

Make it a weekend event!
Call for your reservations at Metro Points – (301) 459-6700

Author Ni’cola Mitchell

Ni'cola MitchellStriving to inject her unique flair into the realm of contemporary fiction, Award-Winning, Best-Selling author Ni’cola Mitchell enter the literary scene with one main objective: To Stimulate Your Mind, One Word at a Time.

Through her independent publishing company NCM Publishing, Ni’cola published numerous titles which have been featured on various best-selling lists throughout the country. Much of her work revolves around complex relationship issues and Mitchell’s compulsive desire to see women overcome challenges.

Over and Over Again was featured in the top ten by EDC Creations Recommended Reading List for the 2009 fall season under Mainstream Fiction and Women’s Fiction. Ni’cola was nominated Self-Published Author of the Year with the African-American Literary Award Show for 2010 and 2011. Her short story “The Forbidden Rain” was featured in the Between the Sheets anthology which won 2011 Anthology of the Year with the African-American Literary Award Show. Recently Twisted won Book of the Year for 2011 with the African American on the Move Book Club.

Because of her outstanding representation of Las Vegas’ African American community, Ni’cola Mitchell was featured in the second edition of Who’s Who in Black Las Vegas. Ni’cola was also included in the fourth volume of the I Am Royalty: Profiles in Black History series. She is also a motivational speaker and literary consultant. Currently, she is touring across the country, speaking about the importance of going after your dreams and overcoming obstacles, and how to self-publish your book successfully.

When she isn’t writing, Mitchell loves to spend time with her family and volunteers as a mentor or youth activities. Originally from Kingston, Jamaica, she currently resides in North Las Vegas, Nevada with her two daughters Destani and Diamond. Co-Founder of the Baltimore Urban Book Festival, Ni’cola holds a Bachelors degree of Science in Business Management and is currently pursuing a Master’s of Business Administration in Small Business.

Beautiful Liar by Ni’cola Mitchell
(NCM Publishing, October 1, 2013, Paperback)

A night out on the town with her best friend Natalie, was the perfect antidote to her broken heart. Not only was she able to finally not think about Jarvis and allow herself to have a good time, but she was introduced to something new. An interesting couple whose husband, Damien, handpicked her, and wanted to live out their ultimate fantasy; a menage~a~trios. After a night of kinky passion Raquel hoped that the pain of Jarvis’s infidelity, would finally go away, but found her self entangled in a love triangle, where both Damien and his sexy wife Staci wanted her. Falling into the trance that Damien spun around her, Raquel finds herself lost in a bed of deceit and lies. Trying to break away and attempt to love herself, Raquel now has to fight to not only protect herself, but the life of her unborn child. Who can she trust? Is it really a beautiful love that Damien has bestowed upon her, or is he just a Beautiful Liar? From the Pen of Ni’Cola comes a tale that makes the movie Menage~a~Trois seem like a children’s Story and brings Raquel into truths you don’t talk about with your friends.
Love Don’t Walk Away…People Do by Ni’cola Mitchell
(NCM Publishing, April 30, 2013, Paperback)
Sunny, a young attractive choreographer, is attempting to make a name in the industry. Upon attending a youth basketball game she has a chance encounter with DeVe’, an entertainment manager looking to manage the next star on the horizon. The two women decide to become partners on the way to the top and over time they become friends. Besides being young and naive in the entertainment industry, Sunny and DeVe’ have one other thing in common which can be an asset as well as a hindrance. They are both very gorgeous woman in an industry that sees them as nothing more than sex objects to be dismissed when real business is being discussed. During their rise to the top, both women face issues in the industry that seems to be more and more cut throat, so that is what they must become to gain respect. Issues come about as they try to stay consistent in their careers and at the same time hold on to their personal relationships. From the pen of Ni’cola comes a story of two determined women who must manage their careers alongside their personal lives. During this journey, each woman experiences love and lost, heart-ache and pain, judgments and labels, as they find out that love is not the factor that walks away, people do.
A Cold Piece by Ni’cola Mitchell
(NCM Publishing, 2012-04-17, Paperback)
Lisa Oliver had it all. A beautiful home, luxury cars, a lavish lifestyle, and a wonderful husband Anthony who loved and adored her until…. That dreaded morning when her perfect life spiraled into extinction, right before her eyes. After hiring a private investigator, Anthony learns about her dark hidden secrets, and comes up with a plan to get away from this evil seductress.Serving her with divorce papers after a passionate morning sex-capade, Lisa is on wits end because Anthony would not give her a reason and shut her out of his life completely. Solitude makes Lisa go crazy and is on a rampage to get her man back… at any cost. After two years Anthony has gone on with his life, but everything changes when everyone around him comes up missing, hurt, or dead.From the pen of award winning, bestselling author Ni’cola Mitchell comes a cold, gritty tale that takes you into the mind of a woman that has lost everything and there is only one to blame. This suspenseful thriller will remind you of a cross between Obsessed, Single White Female and The Hand that Rocks the Cradle.
Twisted by Ni’cola Mitchell
(NCM Publishing, 2011-02-05)
“I have to do what’s best for me” has been Dionni’s motto since the horrible night she found her finance Dale entangled between the legs of her best friend Eva. Enraged and torn, Dionni goes on a hiatus from Las Vegas to clear her mind and get her heart back in order. Dionni’s much needed vacation is interrupted once she is informed that Tiana, her other best friend was found raped, beaten and now in a coma. Without any family around, Dionni has to return home to face her past while trying to put the shattered pieces of her life back together.Will the demons of Dionni’s past allow her to be free or continue to keep her twisted?Twisted is the highly anticipated sequel to Over and Over Again.
The Appetizer When You’re Not His Main Course by Ni’cola Mitchell
(NCM Publishing, 2010-02-07, Kindle Edition)
Three girlfriends with three totally different lives, or they think……..Yazmin and Trey have been together for five years. Enjoying her life as a stay at home wifey, the couple is expecting a set of twins. Their life could not have been any more picture perfect, until the day that Yazmin was involved in a hit and run accident. Scared for the life of her babies, Yazmin damn near goes into shock after she attempts to call Trey only to be greeted by his wife of the past ten years……Monae and Malik have had a drama free long distance relationship for the last two years. Malik is a Marine, and is stationed in San Diego. They both have an understanding that once Monae graduates from UCLA, they will have their dream wedding. Planning an intimate surprise party just for two in his apartment, Monae discovers that she is not the only woman waiting for “her” man to come home……Knowing that Devaugn is in a relationship, Nia simply don’t care. He is the ideal man, and Nia is convinced that if she works hard enough, she can show him that she is all the woman that he needs. Stephanie will be a thing of the past and Devaugn can start taking care of Nia and her three children full time. Or will he…….These three friends all have one thing in common; they are really their man’s chick on the side. What happens when a woman find’s out that she is not her man’s main course, she is only the appetizer…..
Over and Over Again by Ni’cola Mitchell
(NCM Publishing, 2009-07-09, Paperback)
At first glance, 27-year-old Dionni Stone, owner of Whatever You Like Entertainment seems to have what all black women desire: natural beauty, a successful business, and a beautiful black man on her side. Until…. Dionni has found the love of her life – once again – in a compromising situation. For Dionni, this is the final heart break. With the love and support of her family and friends, she concentrates on her business, and it’s there she meets new client, Xavier “Zay” Grey, an investment banker that hires her to plan a surprise graduation party for his baby sister. Timidly, Dionni begins to think she might have found “the one” for her, but a devastating secret finds her world once again shaken. It also finds her back in the arms of an unlikely man, and even more pain than even she could imagine. Over and Over Again is a funny and sensual tale that weaves between lies and love, deceit and truth, teaching Dionni the ultimate meaning of what is honesty, passion, and friendship.

Event: National Black Writers Conference, March 29 to April 1, 2012

The Eleventh National Black Writers Conference:
The Impact of Migration, Popular Culture, and the Natural Environment in the Literature of Black Writers
Thursday, March 29, 2012 – Sunday, April 1, 2012

As our society becomes increasingly globalized, the themes in the literary texts and literature created by black writers throughout the African diasporic communities of the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Europe are shifting and expanding in varying ways. There is recognition of the importance and value of preserving cultural memory and identity and of cultivating and nurturing cultural and geographical spaces. At the same time, there is also a recognition that politics and popular culture shape what we respond to, what we read, what gets published, what we teach, and what conversations we have in our literary communities, in the media, in our educational institutions, in our work environments, and in our homes.

Through novels, stories, poems, plays, memoirs, and essays, black writers have explored the importance of memory on our concepts of self and family. They have examined the impact of popular culture on our personal lives, belief systems, values, and traditions. And they have chronicled what happens when we neglect and do not nurture our natural environment. In essence, they have used the power of words and the literary arts to stir our imagination and to motivate us to affirm, critique, and reflect on our responses to personal, societal, and environmental issues in our lives. The Eleventh National Black Writers Conference will provide writers, scholars, literary professionals, students, and the general public with a forum for engaging in dynamic and spirited conversations, panel discussions, readings, workshops, and performances on themes related to migration, cultural memory, popular culture, and the natural environment.

Major funding provided by: National Endowment for the Arts

Media support provided by: African American Literature Book Club, AKILA Worksongs, Inc.

2012 NBWC Honorees:

  • Ishmael Reed – John Oliver Killens Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o – W. E. B. Du Bois Award
  • Nikki Giovanni – Gwendolyn Brooks Award
  • Dr. Howard Dodson – Ida B. Wells Institutional Leadership Award

Strings of Color by Marian L. Thomas

Life can grab a hold of you like captivating strings of color. It is a lesson that four women will learn as they each travel down a journey filled with lies, betrayal, and shocking secrets.

Simone. Is immensely talented, yet everything she has ever known will be ripped apart. Her love will be tested. Her heart will call out for a strength that could only exist in moments like this, and her tears will carry her through the storm. Will she be able to give her heart to the love of her life while fighting to open her heart to a mother she has never known?

Naya. While facing her greatest loss, will she be able to find the key to strength, the will to continue on, and the endurance to make it through one of the darkest moments in her life?

Monà. Within her heart is a secret so deep that it could shake the very foundations of two lives. Will she be able to finally look into the eyes of a daughter she has only known from a distance?

Misty. Two paths are set before her; one could lead her back to the life of fame and prominence, which she so desperately wants; and the other could give her the love she so desperately needs. Will she choose the path that is best for her future, or for her heart?

Author’s Website: http://www.marianlthomas.com

Event: Mindshift 2012

Mindshift 2012 is a panel discussion will be taking place on Saturday March 10, 2012 from
12PM – 2PM.

The event, being held in celebration of Women’s History Month, brings together an eclectic mix of writers and authors will be hosting an open discussion with the public. The event is FREE to the public.

Come Out and be part of the conversation!

Event location: Carson Regional Library, 151 E. Carson St, Carson CA 90745

Contact:
Professor Robyn McGee, California State University Dominguez Hills , robynmarie1973@yahoo.com
Author & Poet Cherise Charleswell, eclecticlifediva@yahoo.com

Eclectic Life Books Exhibiting at 15th Annual Cameron’s Family Book Festival

Cherise Charleswell
Author of Real Talk TIPS: Laugh-Out-Loud Pointers & Suggestions For The Morally Challenged, Socially Inept, & Those Who Love Them

For Immediate Release
Contact: Cherise Charleswell 818-521-8422

Event Date: Saturday October 1, 2011
Time: 11:00am – 7:00pm
Location:
The Promenade at Howard Hughes Center
“The Rave 18”, 6081 Center Dr. Westchester, CA

15th Annual Cameron’s Family Book Festival

The Cameron Eugene Jackson Children’s Library will be hosting the largest book club meeting in the Los Angeles area. The festival is free to the public, and includes a day of author signings, panel discussions, and workshops.

The purpose of this project is to promote and celebrate Literacy, music and “The Arts” as well as to help stamp out illiteracy. We would be honored if you would participate. The success of the Festival is directly due to authors like you who plan to embrace this EVENT with your presence.

For more information please contact Marilyn Pitts, Director/Author-Vendor Booths at (323) 841-BOOK or ccnmax@aol.com.

Support for LA Banks

A message to all members of Black Author Showcase

L.A. BanksLeslie Esdaile – signed up as a member in our first year of operation and even though she was constantly busy with her Vampire Huntress series and other new projects, often took the time to answer member questions and provide help and support for others.

Right now, she needs our help more than ever. She is gravely ill and her medical bills are astronomical. The literary community (especially her fellow romance authors and readers) are pulling together to help a fellow author and all around great personality.You can read more about these efforts and participate in the auction to benefit on the following sites:

http://www.leslieesdailefund.info/index.html

http://www.labanksauction.org/

http://www.labanksauction.org/Auction.htm

You can leave a donation via Paypal or bid on some of the wonderful items including marketing packages, readings, reviews, critiques, conferences,autographed books, interviews and more. Here’s a sample:

*Tananarive Due ARC, a signed first edition hardcover of my novel MY SOUL TO KEEP, which launched the series in 1997 and is a reader favorite, a signed ARC for my upcoming African Immortals novel, My Soul to Take, OR a 30-minute phone conference and feedback on 20 pages of fiction. (I am a writing coach and MFA instructor)

*Zane A signed DVD set of my Cinemax Series #1, A set of 10 autographed books

*Charlaine Harris FIRST EDITION novels from the Sookie Stackhouse series. The titles are Dead in the Family, and Dead Reckoning

*CRITIQUE: of A PROPOSAL by LA Bank’s editor

*ONE AGENT READING of Synopsis and Three Chapters #1

*TWA Solutions Trade Book Cover, eBook Cover & Interior Design

*Registration for the RT Book Lovers Convention 2012

There is much, much more. Lots of services that aspiring writers can use. You were going to buy these services anyway, so why not help someone out while you do it? The auction ends in ten days, so get in there early.

http://www.labanksauction.org/

Check out Leslie’s books by clicking here at Books of Soul

African Voices Cultural Circle Conference

The African Voices Cultural Circle Conference connects writers and visual artists with the resources they need to pursue careers in publishing and the arts. The annual conference offers workshops that provide information on exploring opportunities for writers and artists interested in independent and mainstream publishers and using new technology to promote their work. African Voices is a nonprofit arts organization that publishes a quarterly literary magazine.

Registration Fee:$25.

Seating is limited so register now! For info call: 212 865-2982 or visit www.africanvoices.com. The conference schedule and guest bios are online.

Create Your Writing Destiny: Novels, E-Books & Niches is the theme of this year’s Circle Conference. Professional editors, publishers and authors will come together to share their successful journeys in carving out a prosperous writing career through finding their niche and voice. From teen novels to business magazines, many writers launch their careers as niche writers specializing in specific genre then exploring limitless possibilities once they establish an audience. Karen Hunter, the president of FIRST ONE Digital Publishing, and Yvonne Bynoe, the founder of SoulAffluence and author of Stand & Deliver: Political Activism, Leadership and Hip Hop Culture, will explore ways writers can live abundantly as artists by building an audience for their work.

Circle guests include Tania Padgett, the small business editor of CNNMoney.com; Atim Annette Aton, publisher of Calabar Magazine; Caren Estesen, founder of the Caren Johnson Literary Agency and a blogger for the GatekeepersPost.com; and Rosalind McLymont, executive editor of The Network Journal. Join us for a day of workshops, networking and fun! The Circle welcomes Richard Fewell, a playwright and author of the recently released novel Everything Happens Today. Mr. Fewell will read excerpts from his work. Reg E. Gaines will also host a second session of his Poetry as Theater workshop at 12 pm.

SPONSORS: WABC-TV, New State Council on the Arts, New York City Dept. of Cultural Affairs and NAACP Roy Wilkins Center. Media Sponsor: The Network Journal.

Interview with G. M. Cummings

G. M. CummingsG. M. Cummings is a divorced mother of four beautiful, children. A nurse for over 25 years, she is an anointed singer , songwriter, and worship leader. She enjoys anything artistic such as cooking, interior decorating, and fashion design. Currently she is busy promoting her book and CD “Stay”. She resides in Inglewood, CA.

A work that was 10 years in the making, A Promise of Fidelity is G. M. Cummngs‘ first novel.


  1. Tell us about A Promise of Fidelity and the inspirations behind it.
    A Promise Of Fidelity is about the power of God to deliver from the grips of witchcraft. It was inspired by a dream that I had one night about a millionaire playboy who suddenly awakens in a New Orleans hospital following a freak accident. He soon discovers someone is out to get him. He is aided by 5 beautiful nurses who become his friends. He vows to change his scandalous ways but finds out his only hope of survival is in God, who he really does not care to know.

     

  2. From those inspirations, how do you go about creating and developing your characters and your plot? Was it difficult?
    The characters and plot were based on my dream. I simply expanded it. Some of the situations were inspired by real life as well. The characters came to life after I lived with them for 4 months. That’s how long it took to finish the book.
     
  3. Is writing easy for you? Have you published other items before?
    This book was very easy to write and so much fun! My friends inspired me by reading along as I wrote. This is my first novel.

     
  4. What was the process like in preparing the book to be published?
    I wrote this book 10 years ago. Six months ago, a friend found the script and started reading it to me. It came alive again inside me. I knew in my spirit, God was saying “Publish it now! No more excuses!” He led me to people who took interest and helped me out. Dr. Rosie Milligan, a black publisher, told me to self-publish and she would guide me along. Then, God miraculously provided the funds for me to do so.

    I had to do a lot of proofreading and corrections. Then the book was evaluated by Dr. Milligan. Once she okay’ed all the changes then it was edited. The cover design was suggested by a friend who thought that picture of me would give it “shelf appeal.” Then, it was off to the formatting and printing. This all took about 5 months.

    A Promise of Fidelity

     

  5. What has the feedback been like?
    Most people say they can’t put the book down! At least ten have told me that they read it in 2 days. Some are suggesting that there should be a sequel. The book is very sexy, intriguing and exciting (if I say so myself.) (smile)

     
  6. What are you doing to market and promote your books?
    I am doing a commercial for radio as well as web-commercials. I am hitting the warm market assisted by friends — book clubs, book signings, passing out postcards, Facebook. I am also doing a website which is still under construction.

     
  7. Any plans for a next project?
    I am on chapter eight of my next book, Destiny Delayed. This is the story of a middle-aged woman who is asking herself the question, have I missed my chance to make it big because of so many mistakes and wrong choices? She feels God is saying it’s not too late, and then watches in awe as God performs the impossible in her life.

    There will be a sequel to A Promise of Fidelity — I’m naming it St. Vincents Place. All of the main characters will appear in this book. It will be just as sultry and sexy. Katrina Collins will be dealing with the issue of temptation in the work place when the doctor she works with falls madly in love with her.

     

  8. What are your favorite reads? What books are your shelves?
    Favorite reads? Inspirational books like “A Purpose Driven Life.” Honestly, I do not consider myself an avid reader. I am a hopeless romantic so when I choose a novel it usually because of the romance aspect. I am a very spiritual person, gifted you might say. I have dreams that come true and on occasion I see visions so spiritual books are particularly interesting.

    I consider the book A Promise of Fidelity to be inspiring because it deals with real issues about sex infidelity and Gods power to deliver from witchcraft.

Interview with Cheryl Robinson

Interview with Cheryl RobinsonAuthor Cheryl Robinson has penned her latest novel about a forty-three year old woman falling in love with a twenty-five year old man.  In Love with A Younger Man (NAL Trade, January 2009)is more than a new twist on the hot topic and growing trend of relationships between older women and younger men. It is about the sacrifice that some women make in their personal life in exchange for a lucrative career. Often forgoing family, friendships, and the work life balance needed. Moreover it is about redefining self and rediscovering love. 
 
A bestselling author and native Detroiter, Cheryl Robinson has been known for writing novels with a twist, portraying women who face the odds and succeed. Cheryl began her literary journey in 2002 as a self-published author of two novels; Memories of Yesterday and When I Get Free. Memories of Yesterday, the story of Winona Fairchild, a single mother of two concealing her HIV status, and Porter Washington, the man who falls in love with Winona before learning of her status. Memories of Yesterday appeared on the Essence Bestseller list in July 2004, which was a major accomplishment for an independent author. It was later re-released in January 2005 by NAL Trade a division of The Penguin Group under the title, If It Ain’t One Thing in a two book deal that included the sequel, It’s Like That. If It Ain’t One Thing, now in its third printing, also appeared on the Essence Bestseller list in September 2006 and numerous other best seller lists including The Dallas Morning News.
 
In addition, Cheryl signed two more book deals with NAL Trade; Sweet Georgia Brown (January 2008) is the story of Georgia Brown, a humble housewife determined to become a household name and her obnoxious husband Marvelous Marvin, a popular syndicated morning radio host who readers love to hate, and In Love With A Younger Man (January 2009), the story of a very successful female corporate professional who falls in love with a man eighteen years her junior while on a one-year paid sabbatical, and although fictional, the story does at times mirror Cheryl’s current relationship. She also contributed to the anthology These Are My Confessions with her novella entitled Strapped. It was the first African-American erotica collection released by AVON Red, a division of HarperCollins Publishing.
 
Currently, Cheryl resides in central Florida and spends most weekends in Atlanta, Georgia, which is quickly becoming her home away from home. She is writing her next novel, which is the second book in a series that revolves around Olena Day.

  • With your current book, a lot has been made about your reality inspiring your fiction. Tell us about your writing experiences with this book as opposed to your earlier books.

    Every book I have written have revolved around a woman who was broken in some way, but who finds the courage to move on from her past and live again. With In Love With A Younger Man, I put a little bit of my college experiences from Howard University into this book, but very little. For instance, there is a scene where Olena is reflecting about being a part of the fashion show at Howard and what she experienced at the after-party that was held in one of the row houses. None of that was fiction. I was one of the models in the fashion show my second year at Howard and yes, I did have a big crush on the fashion show director who happened to be gay, but I at the time I didn’t know.

    Aside from that, Olena is the first character I have written about who was single with no children and from that standpoint I can really relate to her.


  • How do you go about creating your characters and your plots? What inspires you?

    Often I’m inspired by the people I meet and the conversations that I overhear. I don’t consider myself to be nosey, but I must say I’m a great listener even when I’m not the one being spoken to.

  • Is writing easy for you? Or, do you have to enforce a discipline to write, to review, to re-write?

    Writing is a process that is becoming easier for me. I used to never enjoy the revision process, but now it is one of my favorite parts in the process. My favorite part is the beginning. I love beginnings.

  • Another slant on the previous question: Is writing getting easier for you, now that you are a published author? How much input do you get from your fans and critics?

    For me, being a published author does not make the process any easier. As far as input from fans and critics I get a fair share, but because I love hearing from those who have read my books I don’t think I could ever get enough.

  • How much effort does it take for you to get a book published now as opposed to when you were getting started?

    I believe that getting my next book published depends on the success of my previous book combined with the belief my editor and publisher have in me as a writer. Publishing is not an easy business by any means. Now that I am published I have to pitch my ideas first to my agent and from that point my agent pitches the idea to my editor. However, my perception prior to getting picked up by a major publisher was that once I got picked up the process would be easy. Even distribution isn’t easier. Just because an author is published doesn’t mean you will see their book everywhere books are sold. However, you can order the book from any place books are sold because so many major distributors will carry the book.

  • What are you doing to market and promote In Love with a Younger Man?

    I am connecting with book clubs across the country, marketing on various web sites that attract readers, doing blogtalk radio interviews. I have a web site, which is www.cherylrobinson.com and www.myspace.com/cherylrobinson

  • Any plans for a next project? Will we see the same characters again?

    My next project will be released in April 2010. It is the story of Alicia Day and her two half sisters. Alicia Day was one of the supporting characters from In Love with a Younger Man. She is Olena Day’s niece. Aside from Alicia all of the characters are new. And the story has nothing to do with Olena’s story. But Olena may make a cameo.

Interview with Pamela Samuels Young

Pamela Samuels Young
Pamela Samuels Young is a Los Angeles attorney and author of the legal thrillers, Murder on the Down Low, Every Reasonable Doubt, and In Firm Pursuit.

A former journalist and native of Compton, Pamela serves on the Board of Directors of the Southern California chapter of Mystery Writers of America.  She is a graduate of USC, Northwestern University and UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law. 

Pamela earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Southern California and her master’s degree in broadcasting from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. After spending several years as a television news writer and associate producer, including stints at WXYZ-TV in Detroit and KCBS-TV in Los Angeles, Pamela took a break from the news business to serve as a Coro Foundation Fellow in St. Louis, Missouri. Pamela later returned to school and earned her law degree at UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law. She practiced law at the Los Angeles office of O’Melveny & Meyers for several years and served as Employment Law Counsel for Raytheon Company.

She has served as legal consultant to the Showtime television series, Soul Food and is a frequent speaker on the topics of self-empowerment, diversity and pursuing your passion.

Pamela is an in-house employment attorney for a large corporation in Southern California, an adjunct professor at the University of Redlands’ School of Business and the legal columnist for Global Woman magazine. She still finds time to serve on the Board of Directors of the Southern California Chapter of Mystery Writers of America.

A desire to see engaging female and African-American attorneys depicted in today’s mainstream legal fiction motivated Pamela to start writing despite a busy legal career.

Pamela’s fast-paced novels, Every Reasonable Doubt and In Firm Pursuit, have been described as “John Grisham with a sister’s twist!” Both books, published by Harlequin’s Kimani Press imprint, are Essence magazine bestsellers. In Firm Pursuit was honored by Romantic Times Book Reviews magazine as a nominee for Best African-American Novel of 2007. Urban Reviews.com also honored In Firm Pursuit as one of the “Best of the Best” for 2007. Her debut novel, Every Reasonable Doubt, was the first place winner in the Black Expressions Book Club’s Fiction Writing Contest. USA Book News selected Every Reasonable Doubt as a finalist for Best Books of 2006 in the mystery, suspense, thriller category.

Her short story Setup is featured in the Sisters in Crime Anthology, Landmarked for Murder.

Pamela’s newest release, Murder on the Down Low, was an “Editor’s Pick” by the Black Expressions Book Club.

Pamela shares her writing expertise via articles on fiction writing at BizyMoms.com, where she is a featured expert. When attorney and best-selling author Pamela Samuels Young isn’t practicing law, you can usually find her penning her next legal thriller.

Visit Pamela’s website at www.pamelasamuelsyoung.com. To invite Pamela to your book club meeting or event, email her at pamelasamuelsyoung@gmail.com.

  • Legal thrillers have such broad appeal, whether the attorneys are ambulance-chasers or high-priced corporate lawyers. Can you explain the fascination?

    I think people love reading about people they love to hate and attorneys are perfect for that role. Also, legal thrillers give the reader the opportunity to root for “justice.”

  • So, tell the truth: Can practicing law be as exciting as one of your novels?

    No way! Much of my current practice involves providing advice and counsel aimed at keeping my company out of court. Unless you’re a prosecutor or public defender, most lawyers don’t spend all that much time in court and rarely see the kind of drama played out on shows like Law & Order and The Practice, two of my favorites legal dramas.

    However . . . my second novel In Firm Pursuit is actually based on a race discrimination case I tried in federal court several years ago. A guy terminated for sexual harassment sued the company, claiming he was wrongfully terminated. I represented the company and we won at trial. In the book, I added lots of imaginary legal drama that didn’t occur in real life. So I guess that proves that the real life practice of law isn’t as exciting as the imaginary legal world I created.

  • What can you tell us about Vernetta Henderson, the lead character of your novels? Of course, the question must be asked: How much of her is you, and vice versa?

    Vernetta grew up in Compton, California, and so did I. Vernetta worked at a large corporate law firm where she was one of only a few African-Americans. So did I. Vernetta is married to an electrician. I’m married to a plumber. So yes, I’ve put a lot of my own experiences in my novels through Vernetta. They say write what you know, and that’s exactly what I did.

  • Care to share any hints as to what your next novel will be? Will we see more of Vernetta Henderson?

    My next book, Buying Time is my first stand-alone. But don’t worry, Vernetta, Special and Jefferson aren’t gone for good. I have lots more legal drama for them down the line.

    In Buying Time, Waverly Shaw is a down on his luck lawyer. But just when he’s about to hit rock bottom, he stumbles upon a business with the potential to solve all of his problems. In his new line of work, he comes to the rescue of people in desperate need of cash. But there’s a catch. His clients must be terminally ill and willing to sign over rights to their life insurance policies before they receive a dime. Waverly then finds investors to advance them thousands of dollars—including a hefty broker’s fee for himself—in exchange for a significant return on their investment once the clients take their last breath.

    The stakes get higher when Lawrence Erickson, who’s bucking to become the next U.S. Attorney General, hires Waverly to broker the insurance policy of his cancer-stricken wife. But Waverly’s clients start dying sooner than they should and Erickson —who has some skeletons of his own to hide—is unwittingly drawn into a perilous web of greed, blackmail and murder. With two determined federal prosecutors hot on his trail, Waverly is on the run, and this time, the price is on his head.

  • Needless to say, your novels have been well-received. What has been the reaction at your book tours? How have fans received you at book signings and readings? Any comments from other attorneys?

    The reception to my books has been tremendous! It’s really what has kept me going in the face of rejection from the publishing industry. I started writing because I was fed up with never seeing women or people of color depicted as savvy, hot shot attorneys in the legal thrillers that I read. So I decided to create my own characters. My fan mail has been so uplifting. The readers who’ve taken the time to write to me to let me know they enjoyed my books have been people of all ages and races. One of my favorite fan letters came from a 75-year-old white attorney I met at a book signing in Atlanta. I was so pleased that he took the time to write me a complimentary letter (which he sent to my publisher, I guess because he doesn’t use email) about my first novel, Every Reasonable Doubt. Book clubs have also supported me. I love bonding with them at their book club meetings.

  • With the variety of nominations that your books have received, what do you do to promote your books?

    Book clubs are a big focus of my promotional efforts. My sisters all over the country have given me such tremendous support. I make book club appearance both in person and via speaking phone. I even did a book club meeting in the San Francisco Bay Area and patched in another book club in the D.C. area via speakerphone at the same time. I also do a lot of motivational speaking and writing workshops. Libraries and churches are also big on my promotional list. If you take a look at the tour page of my website, you’ll see that I rarely turn down an invitation. And of course, I’m all over the web and have even done a virtual book tour.

  • Is being a published author what you expected it would be? What has been the biggest challenge to you?

    Before I was published, I didn’t realize that very few authors these days get promotional support from their publishers. The biggest challenge has been trying to get my name out there. My first two legal thrillers Every Reasonable Doubt (BET Books) and In Firm Pursuit (Harlequin) were traditionally published. But my third book, Murder on the Down Low is self-published. While I don’t have a big publisher behind me, I’m really pleased at my promotional success. I was offered a distribution deal from the Independent Publishers Group, so Murder on the Down Low is on bookstore shelves, which is a big coup for a self-published novel. Frankly, I’ve landed much bigger publicity as a self-publisher. For instance, Murder on the Down Low was featured as an Editor’s Pick by Black Expressions magazine and was featured on the cover of Publisher’s Weekly (March 2, 2009 edition). Nothing like that ever happened with my traditionally published books. And I can see the snowball effect of word-of-mouth publicity. Like I said, my sisters have really been talking up my books and I truly appreciate it!

Interview with First-Time Author, Tammy Fournier

Tammy Fournier

Tamara K. Fournier founded Vision Development Corporation (VDC) in reflection of her own personal success story. P.I.E.C.E.S.: A Booster’s Story is her story. Born in Columbus, Ohio and raised in the Church, Tammy’s connection to her spiritual foundation began at an early age as the sister of a minister and wife to a minister’s son. Her life course took a turn for the worst when she divorced her husband of 14 years and married a Dominican drug dealer. Swept off of her feet and into the fast lane, her life spun out of control, and the end result was her 3-year sentence at the Ohio Reformatory for Women and Franklin County Pre-Release Center.

During her incarceration, Tammy did much soul searching. Having the spirit of a born leader, she knew and understood that her true purpose was to give back to her community through outreach. Today, she is currently the Program Director for the Revival Development Corporation at Trinity Baptist Church. Her ministry has been working hands-on with several Re-entry and prison programs, personally working with and cared for hundreds of at-risk youth in Educational Development Empowering Network (E.D.E.N.) after-school program and Camp Healthy Kids summer camp, as well as being a Life Coach and Motivational Speaker. Life experiences have led her to the creation of VDC and the completion of her first novel.

  • What led you to write P.I.E.C.E.S.? Do you remember the moment that you wanted to write your story?
    While working at Triple Crown Publications, and reading hundreds of submissions, I realized that many of the stories published by TCP were similar to my own story. During my employment at Triple Crown I assisted with the plotline of the book Crackhead by Lisa Lennox. It was then that realized I had a strong desire to write my story and my “baby” was born.
     
  • Walk us through the process: How did you write your story? How did you edit and review it?
    Because my book is based on my life experiences, I began writing my book by first outlining the time period in my life that I wanted to focus on. Knowing that I would be writing a sequel, I knew from the start where I wanted the book to end. My love affair with Julio was a truly moving love story and I wanted to share that experience with the world. I also wanted to use my story as a cautionary tale for anyone that has stumbled in life’s journey. Upon my completion of the novel’s first four chapters, I shared my writing with friends and family members, and used their comments and critiques to help further the storyline.
     
  • What steps did you take to getting it published? Did you search out for an agent?
    Having previous experience working in the publishing industry, I was fortunate to have several contacts and friends who were interested in my story and helping me to get it into print. I reached out to my friend, Joylynn Jossel, who read the book, believed in me and secured my two-book deal with Urban Books.
     
  • What have you done to promote your book? What’s it like to do booksignings and readings? Any interesting stories to tell?
    In my position as a Program Director, I work hands-on with at-risk youths and incarcerated men and women. Through my work in this field, I’ve been able to promote my book in several youth programs as well as correctional facilities across Ohio. I use my story to teach others how to overcome the challenges that we face everyday. I believe that each of us have a Purpose, and once you’ve discovered your individual Purpose or calling, you should use it to empower those around you. I believe that my Purpose is to be an advocate for the misplaced and misrepresented in our society. By sharing my story, I hope to prevent others from making the same mistakes I’ve made.

    My first official book signing was the most stressful, nerve-racking, fulfilling, wonderful experience of my life. I worried about it until the day of the event and ended up having the time of my life sharing my experiences with my friends, family and colleagues. I planned the event for 50 people and, on the day of the event, I had only sold 10 tickets! However, by the end of the event, we had over 100 guests and standing room only. The highlight of the evening was when Joyce Beatty presented me with a proclamation from the State of Ohio.
     

  • Is being a published author what you expect it would be? What has been the reaction of your readers?
    It continues to sink in daily that I am a published author. At times it’s overwhelming to think of this accomplishment, considering that, in the early 1990s, I was certain that my life was over. For this reason, and many others, I am so grateful for God’s grace and mercy. I know that each day we have a fresh opportunity to get it right.
     
  • Any plans or hopes for P.I.E.C.E.S. – bestseller lists, theater play, movie options?
    My dream is to see P.I.E.C.E.S. on the big screen and to watch the characters in the book come to life in an American Gangster-meets-Medea style.
     
  • Any lessons learned about writing or promoting your book?
    I have learned that writing is therapeutic process, especially when you tell your own story.
     
  • Any plans for another book? How about any other artistic endeavors?
    Currently, I am writing the sequel to P.I.E.C.E.S., which will pick up where the first novel ends, with Tara heading off to prison. My desire is to tell a very realistic tale of prison life from a female perspective. I don’t think prison life is often told from that view.
     
  • What other books or authors are you reading?
    I just started reading Living At The Next Level by B. Courtney McBath. Next, I plan on reading Tavis Smiley’s Accountable.

Interview with Essence Magazine’s Storyteller of the Year, Leslie Banks


New York Times bestselling author, L.A. Banks has penned over 35 novels and 12 novellas in a wide range of genres and is the recipient of the 2008 Essence Magazine Storyteller of the Year Award, as well as the 2008 Best 50 Women in Business Award for the State of Pennsylvania.

A native of Philadelphia, Banks is a graduate of The University of Pennsylvania Wharton undergraduate program, and alumnae of Temple University’s Master of Fine Arts in filmmaking program.  Ms. Banks began her career in corporate marketing for several Fortune 100 firms and worked as an executive for over a decade at Xerox, Hewlett Packard, and Digital Equipment Corporation.  She then subsequently evolved her veteran marketing experience into a solid entrepreneurial career as a marketing consultant within the economic development and community-based organization environment.

In 1992, Banks added another facet to her career, entering the publishing industry.  She writes under the pseudonyms: L.A. Banks, Leslie Esdaile, Leslie E. Banks, Leslie Banks, and Leslie Esdaile Banks.  She has won several business as well as literary awards, and writes in genres as diverse as romance, women’s fiction, crime suspense, and paranormal.  She has contributed to magazines, newspaper columns, and has written commercial fiction for a variety of major publishers:  St. Martin’s Press (NYC), Simon and Schuster (NYC), Kensington Publishing (NYC), BET/Arabesque (NYC), Genesis Press (MS), Parker Publishing, Harper, and Tor.  Her non-fiction work includes the riveting and motivational story of Bank’s life journey in her contribution to the Chicken Soup for the African American Soul anthology.

Banks has written the book series for the popular cable network television series, Soul Food and the novelization of the movie, Scarface. In addition, Banks penned a four-book crime thriller for Kensington/Dafina, beginning with Betrayal of the Trust, under her alternate pseudonym, Leslie Esdaile Banks.  From there, Banks transitioned into another hot genre—the world of paranormal fiction, in the form of the 12-book Vampire Huntress legend series under the pen name, L.A. Banks, as well as a hot new werewolf series, Crimson Moon.

Currently, Banks writes full-time, always working on multiple projects and anthologies simultaneously, and she resides in Philadelphia with her teenage daughter and her black labrador retriever.

  • 2008 has been good to you. You won the 2008 Essence Magazine Storyteller of the Year Award, as well as the 2008 Best 50 Women in Business Award for the State of Pennsylvania. Were you surprised to receive such prestigious awards?
    I was absolutely stunned to receive those awards, LOL–seriously… the Essence one came out of the blue–my Street Team nominated me, fought for me, but given who else was up for that award, I assumed that they would get it.  But that just goes to show you the power of passion… my Street Team and readers are passionate about the series… so, yeah, it was very surprising and humbling to say the least.  I was honored.
     
  • How have your fans and readers reacted to your success?
    They are the cause of it, they participated in it, and have been fabulously supportive.  If I didn’t have them, then what?  I really enjoy the notes of encouragement they send and all the love–I’m blessed to have them.
     
  • You have written across a number of genres. Is it your diverse interests, a call to write different stories, or an agent selling you an idea? Are any of these genres near and dear to you than the others?
    I think, more than anything, what I write about is a function of who I am and what interests me.  I am a total romantic–so I write romance, I believe in “Obama-esque” couples, you know… when I see Michelle & Barack, I’m like–Yeah!  I believe in justice and the underdog, so I write crime thrillers where the good guy or gal triumphs in the end.  I believe that good will conquer evil, hence The Vampire Huntress Legends series… albeit a very graphic depiction of the spiritual battle (smile), but I flow my beliefs into a genre that’s fun for me to write.  I don’t think one can really separate it out… and when writer’s just write what their agents pitch, readers can tell.  The writing lacks the passion.
     
  • How about a character? Do you have a favorite, or one that you want to spend more time with?
    LOL… oh, yeah… Carlos Rivera is my quintessential bad boy that I had so much fun writing.  Now that the series is over at book #12, The Thirteenth, I’m gonna miss him dearly :)  But that only means I have to create another one!
     
  • As “Storyteller of the Year,” you have to share some secrets.  What gets you started on a story?  Do you have to get into a certain mood for the story or a certain scene that you are writing? What provides your inspiration?
    Oh, yeah, I definitely have to be in the mood to write whatever scene I’m working on.  First, I have to let the story roll around in my head for about a week… I have to really cogitate on the characters, their motivations, their voices, even their names and backgrounds.  Then comes the time to write them.  If it’s a battle scene, I put on Luda, old DMX, Pit Bull Miami, LOL… if it’s a love scene, I’ve gotta get mellow, have a glass of Merlot, turn the lights down, put on soft jazz, light some candles, and get my head into that zone.  Most assuredly, one has to mentally be there to create what translates onto the page.
     
  • Does writing for horror/paranormal present any challenges to you? It would seem that building to that moment of suspense can be more difficult than writing a romance story.
    It does have the additional challenge of significant research and the action/adventure quality of plot design is formidable in a long-running series.  The romances I write are what I call “my palate cleaners” in between the gore and paranormal adventures :)  However, attention to character detail is key in anything you write if you’re going to present believable characters–and that takes work no matter what genre.
     
  • Going back to your fans and readers, vampire lore seems to have piqued everyone’s interest lately with the upcoming movie release of Twilight and the new HBO series True Blood. Your 12-book series, The Vampire Huntress, is drawing to a close with the soon-to-be-released, The Thirteenth. How have your fans reacted? Are you sure this is the end?
    BIG SMILE… With vampires, you are never sure it’s “the end” — but I am going to be coming out with a graphic novel version of the series in 2009, plus manga and a version of the tale young adults.  So, in that regard, I guess the danged thing morphed on me, LOL!  But the response from readers has been HUGE!
     
  • And we know that we haven’t seen the last of your pseudonym, L.A. Banks, with the release of the Crimson Moon series.  How have your fans reacted to the start of this series?  Any surprises that you would like to share?
    People have been overwhelmingly supportive… so much so that, the big surprise is this is no longer a trilogy.  We’ve inked another 3 book deal taking it up to at least 6 books so far contracted for this series. The response to my werewolves and shadow wolves has been very cool.
     
  • Do you have some favorite stories or authors to share?  For example, if I was to peek at your book shelves, what would I find?
    Wow, yeah, you’d find an eclectic mix… Tananarive Due (Blood Colony and The Living Blood series), Brandon Massey (Thunderland), Sherrilyn Kenyon (Archeron), Jonathan Maberry (Cryptopedia and Patient Zero–I got an arc, smile!)… then there’s biographies, Obama (The Audacity of Hope), Patti LaBelle, Phyllis Hyman… self help stuff from TD Jakes, Deepak Chopra… I mean, my bookshelf is like my sock drawer–a hot mess :)
     
  • It looks like you have taken advantage of the Internet to promote your novels — Amazon, MySpace, your websites.  Do you get a lot of feedback? Do you look forward to the book readings and the booksignings?
    I get so much feedback sometimes that it’s scary, because I try diligently to answer all my email myself–which becomes daunting while crafting a novel… Hey, I don’t even answer my family, then, LOL!  But I do love people and look forward to going out and meeting folks.  I look at booksignings and readings as mini-focus groups, because people give you instant feedback–good or bad, it’s all good, because then you can know how to work better in the future.
     
  • 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?
    Really hone your craft and your manuscript before submitting it by going to the conferences and taking the classes there.  I go to about 4-5 conferences annually, and I sit and listen in the workshops taking notes… We’re all still learning and polishing our craft, so that is the biggest thing I would say to do.  A really tight manuscript is hard to reject–and it’s a joy for agents to sell.  Once you have a deal, start marketing.  Set up that website, get your booksignings organized, and hit the street.  Great numbers mean a repeat in contracts with higher advances.  It’s really simple, just a LOT of hard elbow grease.
     
  • With 2008 being such a banner year, any plans for 2009?
    In 2009 I’ll be writing like a fiend, LOL… graphic novels, manga, YA, follow-on books for the Crimson Moon, whew!  It’ll be the kind of year where I’ll look up and it’ll be 2010, LOL!  So pray for a sistah, would ya?  BIG HUG!

Interview with African American Christian Fiction Author, Michele Andrea Bowen


A native of St. Louis, Michele Andrea Bowen began writing stories as a child, and her experiences growing up gave her insight concerning all of the possibilities for telling great stories about regular folk who go to church and love the Lord.

Michele was educated in the St. Louis Public School system in segregated schools. She then went on to earn her Bachelor and two Master’s degrees from Washington University in St. Louis. And she also furthered her education by earning graduate degrees in United States History and Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has worked as a social worker in mental health and child abuse, a program coordinator in health care, and instructor at the undergraduate level. She also worked at Barnes and Noble Books, a job that offered considerable experience with the retail side of the book world.

Michele currently lives in Durham, North Carolina with her daughters. They are members of St. Joseph’s AME Church.

I was on my way to becoming a history professor when the writing bug really hit me and I started writing what was the rough draft of my first novel, Church Folk. I originally titled this book “The Missionary Ladies” but quickly came up with Church Folk after my good friend, Dr. Valerie Kaalund, a professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, took one look at that title, frowned and said, “NO. NO!”

I became a writer and subsequently an “author,” when Church Folk became the third book in an African American Christian Fiction line of books under a new Warner Books Imprint called Walk Worthy Press in June 2001. I was blessed beyond belief with the response to this outrageously funny book about black “peepes” who went to “chutch.” And since that time, I have published two other books with Warner, Second Sunday (June 2003) and Holy Ghost Corner (September 2006).

I am currently writing a fourth book that continues with my tales of African American religious life and culture. Writing is a ministry for me. I love the Lord and I love writing about God and church life. It has been a tremendous blessing to reach so many people with my stories. I praise God for this. I can’t imagine writing in any other way.

Her next novel, 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, featuring Yvonne Fountain Copeland.

From her website – www.micheleandreabowen.com: “She writes black Christian Fiction because that is what the Lord called her to write. And each novel is a venture into black church life and culture that she hopes will entertain, make you laugh out loud, inform, inspire, and hopefully encourage each reader to seriously think about what a wondrous thing it is to serve the Lord.”

  • With each of your novels appearing on the Essence bestseller list, do you have any expectations for your next novel, Up At The College? Do you expect any “controversy” that came with your first, Church Folk?
    My prayer partners and I prayed over Up at the College.  I asked God to bless this book, as I have for each of my books.  My expectation is that the Lord was listening and answered our prayers.  
     
    As for any controversy…haven’t thought about it at all. 

     
  • Like most genres, Christian fiction can’t be lumped into a simple bag.  Are you stretching those boundaries? Or, are you writing something secular with a church setting?  How would you classify your work?
    I write Christian Fiction.  I don’t write something secular with a church setting.  I write as a ministry and I’m thankful that my stories crosses the lines, so that folks who read secular fiction will reach out and pick up a copy of one of my books.  And I write what is placed in my heart, what appears to be a good project to pursue, and something that makes me crack up with laughter whenever I think about it. 

     
  • How have readers reacted to your success?
    The readers have been a blessing and very encouraging and supportive.  I am thankful for them.  Many of them keep me lifted in prayer, some have prayed for me when I meet them, some have met me and just started laughing and said that I was funny and those books were something else. 

    When I was in Dallas, Texas at Cedar Valley Community College, a reader came up to me, hugged me and blessed me while we hugged. She prayed over me. That is not the first time this has happened. On another occasion, back in 2004, I was at the AME General Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. A woman who worked in the maintenance department came over to us on her break and asked about my books, she was very interested but didn’t have the money at the time. We gave her a copy because there was something kind, honest, and warm about this lady. She thanked me, and then turned back and gave a blessing that floored us. I will never forget that experience. I could feel what she shared.

    These are just two examples but this happens on a regular basis. And I get the laughter from readers all the time. They give testimonials about the people at their church. They also will tell folks that they need to read one of my books because they are very funny.

     

  • From where do you find the inspiration for your stories?  For your characters?
    I find inspiration in events happening around me.  I find inspiration in what folks share.  I find inspiration in my own experiences…and I am inspired when I read the bible (lot of good stuff in the bible).  As for the characters…I see so much in everyday life and find a lot of inspiration in some of the most unlikely places like the mall, grocery store, a church event.

    If I see something that tickles me to no end, I use it to create a character. Also, if someone has come through a serious storm and is still standing, I use that story or experience to create a character. The person who inspired me to create Baby Doll Henderson was actually a man, who used to be homeless. He lived under a bridge, has battled with crack/cocaine for years, and got saved, joined our church, and walks a hard road each and every day.

     

  • Do you have a favorite character?
    I have a few favorite characters.  Precious Powers and Rev. James (Church Folk); Sheba Cochran Wilson, George Wilson, and Mr. Louis Loomis (Second Sunday); Baby Doll Henderson Lacy (Holy Ghost Corner).

    These characters are my favorites because they are funny, sweet at times, very different with regard to their outlook on life, bold, unconventional, and have good hearts. My characters are true-to-life, only because they represent something that needs ‘reppin’ well. And I haven’t created anybody who I personally thought was too outlandish, even if some of them are very colorful at times

     

  • How do you write?  Do you work in developing dialogue, characters, or scenes? Are there any special challenges to writing your novels?
    I write on the computer or laptop… I like to type.  Also, I prepare a synopsis and now, write a very detailed outline that provides comprehensive overview of entire book from start to finish, including characters.

     
  • African American fiction and Christian fiction have experienced booming sales over the last few years.  Publishers have certainly responded. Do you have to do anything different than other authors to promote your novels because of the content?
    Yes, I have to be aggressive about where to go and how to market the book.  I look for those hidden markets that publishers may overlook because it’s outside of the main stream.  I use the model of gospel artists.  They go to the churches and places where they know their audience is in abundance, and trust that they will support them and their work–which they do.  There is a very vibrant market of readers out there…you just have to know where to look, and have your heart right when you go to those places and to those potential readers because they don’t like mess and foolishness.

     
  • 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?
    I think I’ll have to tailor this answer for budding writers of Christian Fiction.  Be right with the Lord.  Study God’s Word.  Pray without ceasing.  Be in church and fellowship with other Christians.  Read, read, read, and write your story as you are led by the Lord to write it.  Trust God in every phase of this endeavor, strive for excellence in your actual craft of writing, pray for direction, and ask questions of those who have come before you.