Barack, Race and the Media: Drawing my own Conclusions is a 2009 NAACP Image Award winning book features a collection of satirical cartoons highlighting the historical campaign of the first African American U.S. President Barack Obama and other significant events effecting America.
(1)Considering that most writers can use an article to make a point, what are your steps in drafting a few cartoon panels to do the same thing?
It all begins with a good idea or concept for the cartoon (which is the most challenging step). Secondly, what is your opinion or perspective on the concept and how do you convey this idea in the simplest and concise way possible. Third, lay out and design (usually involves a series of thumb nail sketches). Fourth step involves the execution of the final illustration
Throughout this entire process I am constantly revising experimenting and exploring different possibilities. The creative process does not stop until the project DEADLINE.
(2) Taking liberties with a well-known quote, are your cartoons worth a thousand words?
I think that there are concepts, ideas and situations that can best be conveyed in a cartoon. Additionally, we live in a visual society and images can leave a much more powerful and lasting impact then words.
(3) Your work has been widely celebrated and published. What was your favorite moment as a cartoonist?
Sharing the stage with Halle Berry, Tyler Perry and my son at the NAACP Image awards and accepting the Image award for my book.
(4) Who inspires you? Do you have a favorite author or cartoonist?
LIFE and the human spirit inspires me, especially when I think of the challenges of my ancestors. My favorite political cartoonists include Pulitzer winners Paul Conrad and Clay Bennett.
(5) What was the experience like in producing “Barack, Race and the Media: Drawing my own Conclusions“?
During the Obama Presidential campaign when I was producing the cartoons that would later appear in my book, my focus was on capturing the excitement, challenges and drama of this historical time in America’s history. I had been doing political cartoons for five years and though it would be a good time to put together a collection of my work. It then occurred to me to give the collection an Obama theme. I did not decide to do the book until the summer of 2008 only months before the election.
Link to my book on Amazon:
(6) What are your thoughts on the popularity and Hollywood’s, i..e., the film industry’s, big interest in graphic novels? Any plans on doing your own?
I began my career in publishing in the comic book / graphic novel industry. My first self-published book was about an African American Super Hero called the “L.A. Phoenix”. http://www.facebook.com/pages/LA-Phoenix-super-Hero/141008859274669 It was inspired by the Los Angeles riots of 1992. There was interest for a movie or television treatment at that time and I had a few meetings with the studios (Fox Studios, Sabad Entertainment, New Line Cinema and Motown Animation). However, we could not agree on a deal. I do plan to resurrect the character next April, on the 20th anniversary of the riots.
In general I do think the movie studios have done a good job at bringing these properties to the big screen.
(7) What’s next for you?
I will be releasing a new L.A. Phoenix comic book next year, perhaps an updated version of the “Barack, Race and the Media: Drawing my own Conclusions” about the Obama Presidency and I have a children’s comic strip in development.
Thank you for this opportunity to discuss my work.
David G. Brown
Denise L. Cook brings to the stage a wealth of experience as a choreographer, producer, assistant director, published author, actor, dancer, spoken word artist, singer and motivational speaker, and is well known as a healer in the field of massage therapy. Asked what motivated her to pursue such a wide range of interests, she answers, “my father always said ‘anything worth doing is worth doing well. And anything you put your time and effort into, you may as well get credentialed’. I believed him, so doing anything less wasn’t an option. With Daddy excellence was the first line of defense against the big bad wolf of life.”
Denise began her career in the arts at an early age establishing her first dance company at the age of eight. Ms. Cook went on to receive her B.A. in Dance and MFA at U.C.L.A. and later a MEd at National University. She has studied, performed and worked alongside such notables as Carmen De Lavelaude, Chester Whitmore, Fayard Nicholas, Debbie Allen, Steven Simeon, Shirley Martin, the U.C.L.A. Dance Company, Hal DeWindt, Eddie Beale, Peter Long, Curtis Gadson, Saul Bernstein, Delilah Williams, H. B. Barnum and Mark Swinton. Stage credits include producer, choreographer, assistant director, lead, principal, and supporting lead roles in known plays, for coloured girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf, Tell Hell I Ain’t Coming, Dream Girls, A Chorus Line, Shades, West Side Story, Oklahoma, Legends and Traditions Claim It and the Special Program, and dramatic plays A Shrine To Junior, Love Makes No Sense, and Looking For A Man. Two years on tour with Vickie Winnans in the award winning gospel, Somebody Oughtta Tell God Thank You, and two seasons on BET television sitcom, The Blackberry Inn as Ms. Laura’s evil sister Ruthie Anne and her one woman show titled “Lena Horn Elegance With Lady Day Style” circa 1945. To top it all off, Denise has ventured into the exciting eclectic realm of Spoken Word Artistry. Denise is a prolific writer and captivating performer bringing to life words penned by her hand and others; she invites in, then envelopes her audience with memorable performances.
Her first book and CD, FULL CIRCLE Balance In Life: A collection of poetry and prose chronicling self-love and self-awareness, was nominated for several awards.
(1)What was the effort like in preparing and producing The ORACLE Speaks?
There really was no effort at all in preparing and producing.
The ORACLE Speaks… just because. After having walked through the publishing process with Cullen Chambers of Back To One Publications on my first book, FULL CIRCLE Balance In Life, this one was a breeze. It took six months to publish the first book, only three with The ORACLE Speaks…
(2)Who (what?) is The ORACLE?
The ORACLE is a wise woman who gives no advice save to hold the mirror of life that you may see your own truth. Like the masterful Oracle of Delphi or Malkeventa Melchizedek, I simply point out the truth as I see it. No agenda, just the truth, sprinkled with love, understanding and unconditional acceptance of who and what you are. Pure love. My claim to fame is that I make people feel good about themselves. My hope is to envelope them with my word and love of self and life, that they may find their own truth.
(3)What are the inspirations behind doing both a book of poetry and a music CD? Who inspires you?
The inspirations behind doing both a book of poetry and music CD came from a deep seeded desire to share my word with the world. What better way than to speak the language of Havona (heaven); MUSIC. So, as with the first book, for which I have a companion CD, I set out to do just that. Only the second CD, I Gotta story To Tell, became more than just spoken word with music. Each piece is stand alone and worthy of radio airplay. They are finger-snapping and toe-tapping in additional to being inspirational. Not churchy, just a real feel good experience.
My inspirations are varied, from the candid truths shared by Kahlil Gibran to the sultry honesty of Nina Simone, to the veiled and hidden messages of life shared by Kurt Vonnegut. As a child I really liked e.e. cummings because he broke the standard “writing rules” and David Frost, simply because I liked his style. I would be wrought not to mention Maya Angelou because she’s bold and in your face, which I can tend to be.
(4) How are you promoting The ORACLE Speaks?
I am promoting The ORACLE Speaks, along with my CD, inspirational booklets and other products via the internet, Social Media, book signings, Amazon.com, mostly word of mouth. I don’t have the budget to do a full out publicity blitz, so I rely heavily on the net. I am also a Motivational Speaker and find I am able to promote from the stage. It’s tricky though, you never want to come across as being “salesy”, so you find a balance. Final answer, word of mouth and lately lots of radio interviews.
(5) With such a variety of interests and experiences, what is next for you?
What is next for me is the next book, Facing The Demons. Although the first two books speak to my life experiences, they are camouflaged in the commonality of life experiences we all share; love, death, hardships of life. This third book will speak specifically to some of the incidents in my life which helped to make me who and what I am. An honest shedding of the mask I, we all wear as a way to protect our inner child (innocence). At 53, I certainly can’t be considered an innocent, but I beg to differ and my writing opens the door to the fantasy of innocence that we all strive to cling to.
Lorna Clarke Osunsanmi aka Lorna O. is not your average love coach. She is a life changer with an uncanny knack for vividly identifying self-help strategies. Her witty yet practical style underscores a nurturing demeanor that is a gateway way to big advice. A film and television host and producer of her own show “Yin N Yang” in Hollywood, Lorna O. graduated magna cum laude from Texas Woman’s University. The native Christiansted, St. Croix U.S. Virgin Islands is the byproduct of parents who have sustained a 40-year marriage. With two older and younger siblings in 20 and 10-year marriages, respectively, Lorna has seen and heard the gamut of ups and downs in both relationships and marriages. The happily married advice diva continues to live bold daily and has plans for a series of additional inspirational books. Be BOLD and uncover Lorna O’s guidance at http://www.lornaonline.com and http://www.mylobsterforlife.blogspot.com.
Becoming Bold unleashes a straightforward guide for delving deep and mining one’s inner audaciousness. With the goal of unmasking and releasing latent deterrents to success, “Becoming BOLD” serves as the definitive guide to self-actualization and transformation. By going for the gusto, we set the pace for achieving ideal love and life.
(1) Among the many volumes of self-help, self-improvement, and self-sustaining that
weigh heavy on the store shelves, what makes Becoming Bold stand out?
The Orange Lady! Most people love the cover and people have told me how compelling it is. It encapsulates how they feel either as a person stuck in the row or the Orange Lady breaking out of the mold to become the person they want to be. Personally, I am inspired by the Orange Lady!
(2) What were your inspirations in writing it? What is the message that you want to
impart to your readers?
I always wanted to be writer growing up. I wrote articles for my school newspaper, I wrote poems, and short stories, but I got serious about having a career as a writer after college. It then decided to pursue a career as a television film writer and ended up working as as Assistant to Executives on a variety of popular shows and on the movie “Get Him To The Greek”. My career expanded early on as a talk show host/producer and with each episode I researched for Yin N Yang, I came up with more and more ideas about how to help people have healthier relationships and fuller lives with themselves and others. I drew from my own journey and my own struggles on how to achieve success, and knew if I was having to become a stronger, bolder person and overcome challenges, that others were going through the same thing. I wanted to tell people that they could change. I wanted to share what I discovered: that with a little bit of courage, fearlessness, your entire life could change for the better. Mine’s did! This is where the idea for Becoming Bold was sparked.
(3) What does “mining one’s inner audaciousness” mean?
Audacious means invulnerable to fear or intimidation, which is essentially being bold! Boldness also includes being direct, clear and honest even in the face of opposition. But I believe everyone has a level of boldness and audaciousness inside of them except the fire burned out. The switch was turned off. Fortunately, that switch is still there. It exists! The ability to be bold, audacious is possible, it’s just deep inside of us. It calls for us to make choices and moves that ignite those bold fires so we can turn that switch back on. When we do we’ll our life will change for the better. I love the quote that I use in the book because it so true and encompasses the ideas in Becoming Bold: “Courage [Boldness] is the greatest of all virtues. Because if you haven’t courage, you may not have an opportunity to use any of the others.” (Samuel Johnson, Novelist, Poet)
(4) What are you doing to promote Becoming Bold?
I’ve been doing radio interviews across the U.S. I’ve also been sited in news articles. I was featured on Tom Joyner’s Black America Web.Com with Erica Taylor; and I’ll be a part of the Author’s Circle at the Tom Joyner Family Reunion in Orlando, Florida next month. With my own dating and relationship talk show, Yin N Yang, I’m able to promote my book and discuss different ideas that I talk about in Becoming Bold. I’m also planning a book tour. Basically, I’m promoting my book in every way possible!
(5) What has been the response like to Becoming Bold?
The response has been fantastic! A friend told me that just by looking at the cover she felt stronger. She made a “bold” decision that she was vacillating on that ended up saving her $3000.00 dollars and she was motivated by the cover of Becoming Bold. Stories like that are what I’ve been hearing. It’s truly a blessing to be a blessing to others. It makes every second I spent writing the book worth it!
Dameon Wroe is a former member of the R&B singing group, H2O. While recording their first album for Capitol Records, Dameon and his group members were also involved in acting. Dameon landed several featured roles and was also cast in a Dr. Pepper commercial. He has worked with entertainers such as Brian McKnight, Naughty By Nature, Silk, Jennifer Lewis, Robert Townsend, Don Cheadle, and Eddie Griffin. As suggested by many who had either read his poetry or watched him perform, Dameon took his passion for writing to the next level and wrote his first, self-published book of poetry entitled True Inspirations – A Poetry Collection, Vol. I and ultimately persuaded major book stores, such as Borders Books and Barnes & Noble, to carry his book. Dameon has released his second book, No Longer Silent – By Way of Poetry.
Professionally known as “Wroe-Wroe,” Dameon is aggressively searching to give the music industry a much needed face-lift with his innovative, motivational, and cutting-edge style of rap. As a solo artist, Dameon aspires to make a name for himself by writing for accomplished artists and eventually recording a solo record of his own in the future. Dameon has chosen to dedicate his life to reach out to the youth of our society through his music, and inspire them to be leaders in their communities while teaching them the concepts of turning wrongs into rights. Through his publishing company, Dameon is launching an online mentoring program to help better the youth of our society. Having had his life spared on many occasions, Dameon’s lyrical ability is unlike anything the music industry has seen. While focusing on his goals each day, Dameon reminds himself of the words of motivational speaker and author Les Brown who suggests, “You have to be willing to do the things today that others won’t do, in order to have the things tomorrow that others won’t have.”
(1) No Longer Silent – By Way of Poetry is your second volume of poetry. What was the response like to your first, True Inspirations – A Poetry Collection, Vol. I?
The feedback and response in sales that I acquired from my first book, True Inspirations – A Poetry Collection, Vol. I was very encouraging. I say that because I didn’t go into the publishing arena with confidence that I could sell a lot of books. After getting turned down by Barnes & Noble while soliciting stores to carry my book, I became very discouraged but I didn’t quit. I then took my book to a manager at the Borders Bookstore at the Puente Hills Mall in the City of Industry and they agreed to carry 10 copies to start with. Several weeks later, I was notified that Borders needed me to ship them more books because the first supply had sold out. Ultimately, I sold out four times while my books were on the shelves at Borders and the rest was history!
It was the greatest accomplishment in the world to know that I had written a book that other people actually cared about reading. When I got my first few checks from Borders, based on the books I sold, it was proof that I could accomplish whatever I put my mind to. True Inspirations – A Poetry Collection, Vol. I sold enough copies to inspire me to want to write another book, which brings me to the most prolific and awe-inspiring book I have every written…. No Longer Silent – By Way of Poetry.
(2) Any “learnings” or “discoveries” from True Inspirations that are helping you in producing and promoting No Longer Silent?
By taking the advice of some very prominent,influential business mentors that I confide in, I learned from them that quitters never win. I also learned from them that, if you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything. Since I do stand for something, I knew that failure could not ever be an option for me. While learning what it would take to produce my first book, I did not have anyone to lean on along the way to show me how to do this and how to do that. I pounded the pavement on my own and did my homework to make this book come into existence on my own. I knew if I put all my trust and faith in “people” to show me what needed to be done, “people” would let me down. However if I did the work myself and did it the way it needed to be done, I knew that I would never let myself down because I could not afford to fail.
A priceless lesson that I learned while promoting my first book, is to ALWAYS have a book on me to be able to make an immediate sale once anyone were to ever ask to buy a copy. This lesson is definitely helping me promote No Longer Silent – By Way of Poetry because I carry a box of books around in my car at all times, ready and willing to sell it to everyone I come in contact with that may ask me about it. Although millions of copies sold is the goal of every author, we as authors should be ready to sell a book at any given moment because it only takes one important person to get their hands on our book and the rest could be history. If you get your books exposed to the right people as quickly as possible, the rewards for future books can be quite substantial.
(3) How do you think readers will respond to No Longer Silent? How are you promoting it? And, how has been feedback so far?
I know for a fact that every person who has No Longer Silent – By Way of Poetry in their archives will truly be blessed by reading it. This is not a matter of opinion, it is a matter of fact. No Longer Silent – By Way of Poetry is far more than just a poetry book; it is far more than just stories told through the eyes of poems… it is a movement. This book is the spokesperson for everyone who has ever wanted to speak their true feelings but allowed FEAR to stop them from doing so. The book is selling consistently thus far and I believe the reason I can make that statement is because I know there are valuable lessons shared in this book that everyone in society can benefit from, regardless of what walk of life they come from.
The majority of the readers who have already purchased the book have already shared with me that they have fallen in love with the book before finishing the third chapter and, for a ten chapter book, that’s a success story all by itself. If you are a person who ever had an absent parent in your life growing up, then this book is for you. If you are a person who has a desire to mend a broken relationship with a sibling, then this book is for you. If you are a person who wants to gain a better spiritual relationship with God, then this book is for you. If you are a person who strives to become more of a leader and not a follower, then this book is definitely for you. If you know of someone who has been in and out of trouble with the law, then this would be a great book to share with them to get them to see that a better quality of life is possible if they want it bad enough. Our company website is currently under construction but No Longer Silent – By Way of Poetry can still be purchased by sending a check or money order to: Another EP Publishing Company P.O. Box 300 Walnut, CA 91788-0300. The book is $10.81 per copy (tax included).
(4) With No Longer Silent just recently being published, I am sure your efforts are around this book. But, what’s next for you? Any future projects?
Although I am working on promoting my current books, I am also currently writing book number three – which has not yet been titled. My third book is scheduled for completion December 31, 2011 and, once that book is finished, I will begin treatments on book number four – which will be my first full-length novel based on a true story.
I am also accepting completed manuscript submissions from writers who are looking for a great publishing home. Whenever I am not writing books, I am in the recording studio writing songs and also stepping up my efforts to get back into my passion for acting and public speaking.
Tamika Newhouse will be appearing at the Los Angeles Black Book Expo on Saturday, August 20.
Tamika Newhouse is a self-published bestselling author and founder of Delphine Publications. At the age of 21, Tamika appeared on various bestseller lists and won Self Published Author of the Year at the 2009 African American Literary Awards. Along with Delphine Publications, she is the founder and President of African Americans on the Move Book Club (AAMBC) – an online book club and radio show catering to avid readers across the nation. With future projects in the works from short films, stage plays and much more, Tamika is a young woman on a mission.
Tamika presently tours the country speaking about overcoming her teen pregnancy to fulfill her dream, as well as teaching aspiring writers the publishing ropes. She has hosted her own Internet radio show (AAMBC) for over three years and continues to expand her brand. She lives in San Antonio with her son, and daughter. She is currently working on her fourth novel Cookie: A Fort Worth Story.
(1) Award-winning and bestselling author. Publisher. Social networker, par excellence. How do you find the time to write?
I get asked that all of the time. I simply multi-task and plan the day out. I make a list of things to do and try my hardest to get most of it done. It all boils down to timing. If you can multi-task, you can do so much to reach your goals.
(2) Considering your accolades, what is your proudest moment as an author? As a publisher?
Wow, I have never been asked that and to be honest, my most proud moment was holding my very first book for the first time. I couldn’t believe that a lifelong dream was real. It had come true and I made it come true. As a publisher, my proudest moment was signing great talents and seeing them flourish. I love to mold great writers so that they can be successful.
(3) What would you tell new authors about getting their book published?
This is a process and there is no overnight or quick success. Everything comes in its own time and if you are looking for a quick way to make money, look into another source. You have to be a writer because you love it. Point black period.
(4) What can you tell us about Cookie: A Fort Worth Story? And, what’s next on the horizon for you?
Cookie is based on true events about a young girl who decided to step out of her shell and live on the edge. But unfortunately, living on the edge involves sex, drugs, stealing, lying, murder, rape, and so much more for this young girl. I write it simply to help teens see, that if you choose to be in the in crowd this is what can happen. I am currently writing on two novels that are contemporary fiction. I am working with a agent on a multi-book deal as well. I’m just staying consistent and hoping everything works out.
(5) And, what’s next on the horizon for you? Is there a collaboration in the works?
Yes I am working with another bestselling author, Ni’Cola Mitchell. We have penned the novel, He’s My Favorite Mistake to come out next summer. A tour will follow the release. I am very excited because it’s the first of a few collaborated novels from us.
Over the past 3 decades, Russel Blake has established himself as a professional musician, concert soloist, educator, and author. He carries on the musical legacy of his father, Latin musical great Alexander Blake, and his brother, world renowned jazz bassist, Alex Blake. At the foundation of all of his success is Russel’s impeccable composition, theoretical and musical arrangement skills; all of which are self-taught.
As a public speaker, Mr. Blake eloquently conveys a message of personal empowerment and all-encompassing hope. In a remarkably refined manner he captivated crowds, young and old, by condensing his wealth of musical knowledge, his spiritual resolve, and a genuine love for humanity into a series of inspiring and insightful lecture topics.
To date, he has shared his talents in 65 countries, on five continents, held the title of ‘Adjunct Professor’ at five universities across the country where he has shared his creation, “The Universal Language Music History & Cultural Program” with a variety of audiences from Elementary through High School, Colleges and Universities, Senior Centers, Prisons, Hospitals and Military Installations about the history of Music.
Russel Blake currently holds over 432 pieces within his repertoire encompassing Classical, Spanish Classical, Traditional Jazz, Brazilian, Opera, Latin & Blues music idioms. He performs works from Mozart, Beethoven, Segovia, Albeniz, Cole Porter, Gershwin, Monk, Jobim, Stevie Wonder & Elton John.
Mr. Blake has earned the opportunity to accompany and record with several music giants such as Sonny Rollins, Pharoah Sanders, Hugh Masakela, Cybil Shepherd, Chaka Khan, Harry Belafonte, El Gran Combo, Wynton Marsalis, Dee Dee Bridgewater, and has enjoyed playing as the exclusive bassist for The Lion King, Dream Girls, Angie Stone, Brenda Russell, Mary Mary, to name a few.
Among his highest achievements was his appointment by the U.S. State Department to perform as an Ambassador of Goodwill to Eight West African Nation’s, and was also contracted by the U.S. Department of Defense to lecture on the symbiotic nature of Science and Music for DARPA’s (Defense Advanced Research Agency) International Conference.
Most recently, Russel Blake authored Proverbs 31: The Virtuous Black Woman Volume 1, in which he communicates the precious and priceless value of Black Women, the right for all women to be treated with unwavering respect and dignity, and the seeds of reverence to be sown by virtue of changing perception one community at a time.
(1) Tell us about Proverbs 31: The Virtuous Black Woman. What led you to write this book?
The book is the first installment of a three volume series with Volume 1 being authored in dedication to Black Women.
It is 50 pieces of non-fiction with several fictional stories included, composed in a Book Of Psalms/Song of Solomon love lettered form of writing. Each piece addresses an issue pertinent to Black Women. For example, the piece entitled “Masculinity”, addresses the plague of physical, emotional and psychological abuse our women are experiencing at the hands of men and subsequently builds them up with the encouraging truth of who they are and their better tomorrow.
In beholding an incessant barrage of negative portrayals and depictions of Black Women in the media here and abroad, I took up arms with pen in hand to refute the stereotypes, rebuke the lies and restore the rightful truths indigenous to the essence of Black Women. It is the inherent historical, present and future responsibility of every Black Man to defend the Women of his community regardless of what source her enemies originate from.
(2) Who are you trying to reach out to in Proverbs 31:VBW?
In addition to the target audience of Black Women, my hope is for all peoples, especially the Men of our community to reflect within themselves and re-evaluate the vital importance that Black Women have historically and significantly contributed to both our Family and to humanity.
In so doing, we raise our consciousness to be a catalyst for truth, thereby setting emotions to thoughts, thoughts to words and then words to action in challenging every identified threat to the perception of Black Women. As Men, we can then easily segue and share our earnest love and appreciation of God, our children and ourselves for our tomorrows, through loving the beautiful and virtuous Black Women in our lives today.
(3) What was the process like in writing Proverbs 31:VBW and in getting the book published?
No change of significance can ever take place without revolution. In my Spirit an uprising took place to confront the invisible regime of bigotry, misogyny and falsehoods oppressively perpetuated against the Women of our community via the media and institutionalized entities. I am a self-published author due to what amenities availed itself to me at the time of my completed manuscript.
(4) What kind of feedback have you received?
I am humbled by the national and international response and attention to this work. It has resonated with people from all walks of life, religions and ethnic groups. I was contacted recently by a Woman who happened to be white, and in praising the book stated that she wished a white man would have written a work that bestowed honor and uplifted the women of her community in such a positive way.
(5) With “Volume 1″ in the title, what can we expect in your next book?
The next work in the series will be titled, “Proverbs 31:The Virtuous Woman Volume II.” Just as a Rose is not the singular flower in every garden, the quality of virtue is not limited solely to Black Women. Therefore in honoring Women of all ethnic groups, volume II expounds upon the theme to encourage the love, appreciation and reverence of their blessed existence and significant contribution to humanity.
Lutishia Lovely will be appearing at the Leimert Park Village Book Fair on Saturday, June 25.
Lutishia Lovely is the bestselling author of the popular Hallelujah Love Series which includes Sex In The Sanctuary, Reverend Feelgood and Heaven Forbid. A professional writer for more than a decade, she made the leap from stage and screenplays with a children’s book before writing her first full-length novel of contemporary fiction.
The first book in her new series, All Up In My Business, is out now and she’s just completed her fourteenth work. Six are romances penned by her alter-ego, Zuri Day. Lutishia resides in wine country, between LA and San Diego, and in her spare time loves to create delicious, vegetarian cuisine for family and friends. She also enjoys sports, the arts, travel, and most of all hearing from readers. Contact her at www.LutishiaLovely.com.
(1) How does it feel to be a full-time writer? Are you living the dream?
Every day I get to wake up and do what I love! I set my own schedule, work from the comforts of my home office, and basically have only due lines as my taskmasters. I work hard, but then I get to play hard. Which means that while I’m working today, Sunday, and will be working through all weekends in July and most of August, I’ll also be taking a month off at the end of the year and heading to Costa Rica! Add to that a fabulous team that includes editor Selena James and agent Natasha Kern and what you get is a woman who doesn’t take any of this for granted and who feels blessed to be living the dream!
(2) What have you learned since your first novel was published? How about after you had your first taste of success?
I’ve learned so many things and the lessons continue! Like many industries, publishing is continually changing and one has to absorb as much information as possible to stay at the top of their game. But specifically since publishing my first novel I’ve learned that the “high class hustle” continues; that just because you’ve got five, ten, fifteen books out there doesn’t mean you can sit back and relax. You’ve got to network, promote, and interact with fans to stay visible in a sea swimming with thousands of authors. Most importantly, you’ve got to keep putting out great product. You can’t depend on last year’s well-reviewed book for tomorrow’s sales. When people ask me what’s my favorite book I always answer, “my next one!”
||For me, I felt successful from the time I held my first novel, Sex In The Sanctuary, in my hands. I published it independently and as anyone in this biz will tell you, self-publishing is hard work…not for the faint of heart! But all of the blood, sweat and tears was well worth it, especially when publishing that novel led to a book deal the following year.
(3) How have your readers supported your works, especially when you cross church and romance together?
From the beginning, I knew that mixing spirituality and sexuality would be controversial, but I also knew it would be “real talk.” I’m a PK (preacher’s kid), grew up in church, and for many years was intimately involved in various denominations and congregations – from the small town, 50-member church to mega-churches boasting 15,000 members. While these novels are works of fiction, most of the storylines are pulled from real life situations that I’ve witnessed first-hand. That said, I didn’t write this series to make any type of statement. I just want to tell great stories about relationships that involve real characters and real situations. And that’s what I’ve done.
Fortunately, I am blessed to have a large, strong core of readers for the Hallelujah Love series; it’s one of the reasons I’m still a major part of this game. Many of these supporters are pastors, elders, first ladies, and leaders of women’s fellowships, and many don’t go to church at all. The readership is a mix: Black, White, gay, straight, Christian, other. They’ve all kept reading this somewhat controversial combo and that has allowed me to keep writing about these fabulously flawed characters and congregations. So much so that book number seven, Divine Intervention, drops next year with plans for more to follow!
An unexpected blessing has come from this series also. Women and men are feeling free to talk about topics in a more real, less religious way – to discuss in church settings what we’re talking about on the phone! The outline from the Sanctity of Sisterhood (SOS) Summit, a conference that’s put on by the ladies of SITS (Sex In The Sanctuary) has been used by several women’s groups throughout the country and I just found out that several SOS Conferences have sprung up as well!
(4) New novels, new themes? Tell us about your latest book series, and your short stories.
I’m very excited about the Business Trilogy: three books about a hard-working, close-knit soul food dynasty where sizzling scandal and delicious loving is always on the menu. Again, I’m writing what I know, having come from a line of southern cooks whose meals make you want to slap somebody! All Up In My Business is the first novel and is available now. The second, Mind Your Own Business, drops in September and book three, Taking Care Of Business, comes out in the spring of next year. My first novella, Wanted: You, appeared in the anthology CRUSH, with Michele Grant and Cydney Rax. I love writing short stories and networking with other authors. It’s a fantastic way to cross-promote and gain new readers.
My romance writing alter-ego, Zuri Day, is busy as well. Her first novella, Too Hot To Handle, dropped last month alongside veteran writers Donna Hill and Niobia Bryant in a book called Heat Wave. Her newest release, Lovin’ Blue, is out now. It’s about a tree-hugging, peace-loving vegan who falls for a meat-and-potatoes badass cop. Her last release of the year, Love In Play, drops in December.
(5) Of the characters that you have given us, are there any favorites?
I must say that I’m in love with several of my male leads, yes, even the married ones! I love Derrick Montgomery’s love and loyalty, King Brooks’ swagger, everything about heartthrob Cy Taylor and about the fantastically flawed but utterly lovable Reverend Feelgood, otherwise known as Nate Thicke. We don’t read much about “seasoned” citizens and I’ve really enjoyed writing in the voice of 70-something Mama Max, her husband, Obadiah Brook, and their long-time nemesis, Dorothea Bates. Old folks need love too, and often have drama to go along with it!
(6) How can readers contact you, and get more information about your work?
I LOVE hearing from readers and respond personally to every email. Hit me up at LutishiaLovely.com and check Zuri out at ZuriDay.com. Please, and thank you! And Eric, thanks so much for the chat. I really enjoyed it.