In My Sistah's Corner at Black Pearls

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by Kimberla Lawson Roby

From New York Times bestselling author Kimberla Lawson Roby comes the ninth installment in her award-winning Reverend Curtis Black series. 

It's been months since Reverend Curtis learned that his wife, Charlotte, had affairs with two different men, and for now, he continues to be cordial and respectful to her. But he's also made it clear that once their son, Matthew, graduates high school, he will be filing for divorce. Charlotte, on the other hand, continues to do everything possible to make amends in hopes of saving their marriage. Unfortunately, Curtis is ready to move on and is being propositioned by a woman who desperately wants to become the next Mrs. Curtis Black. When the situation heads down a path that is frighteningly shocking, could it be the final blow to this once blessed union?

SNEAK PEEK:  Chapter 2
Curtis drove his black, luxury SUV into the church parking lot, eased into his designated spot and sat for a few minutes. They’d moved into the new building about a year ago, but Curtis was still in awe of all that God had blessed him and his congregation with. So much so, the thought of it all got him emotional. It sometimes made him cry like a baby with gladness. It was true that years ago, Curtis had been senior pastor of two very large congregations in the Chicago area—two churches he’d been ousted from because he hadn’t been living the way God wanted him to—but having the first two-thousand-seat sanctuary in a smaller city like Mitchell, IL was a major accomplishment. 

Everyone in the area was impressed by Deliverance Outreach and with how quickly its membership had grown, and Curtis was also excited about the number of people who lived as much as an hour away but still had no problem driving over to worship with them every Sunday. This kind of ministry and support was all that Curtis had prayed for, and he thanked God every day for all He’d done.

Curtis left his vehicle and started toward the church. Once inside, he strolled down two different plush carpeted hallways and into his office. Lately, he’d been arriving earlier than normal on Sunday mornings, and while he’d told himself he was only doing it because he needed a bit of quiet time before delivering his sermon, deep down, he knew the real reason was because he didn’t want to ride in the same car as Charlotte. When he’d first begun doing this a few months ago, Charlotte had highly objected to it, but Curtis had insisted this was best for everyone involved. He hadn’t elaborated, although, his thinking had been that it was better to drive separately since they’d be doing so permanently not very long from now.

Curtis removed his navy blue suit jacket and sat down at his desk. He’d certainly loved the office he’d resided in at the old building, too, but this one was on a whole other level. It was twice the size, had a sitting area larger than some living rooms, and it was decorated with the most tasteful charcoal gray leather furniture. There was also a spacious bathroom connected to the office which housed a huge shower and double sinks, and on the opposite side of the office was an attached conference room with multiple bookcases, a projection screen and a classy mahogany table that seated twenty. His suite had everything he could possibly want and he was thankful.

He thumbed through a few sermon documents and then glanced at his latest book, God’s Favor and How to Accept It, that had just been released in January. He was elated to know it had made number one on the New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestsellers lists, but he was glad all the traveling to promote it was over. He’d been out for five weeks straight, visiting seventeen cities and spending two days in each of them so he could do all sorts of media interviews and book signing events—where in some cases, nearly a thousand people had attended and he’d sometimes signed for eight hours. It was all a blessing, of course, but the entire tour had proven to be physically taxing, and it had taken him a full week to recover from it.

Now, he looked at the beautiful photo of his three children and soon swiveled around in his chair, staring out the massive picture window, and sighed. Gosh. In only a matter of months, four to be exact, he’d be filing for divorce from his third wife. Even more surprising, this would be the first time he’d be the one initiating the process. His first two wives had left him and rightfully so, but this was different. Yes, he’d taken Tanya and Mariah through a lot, but when it came to Charlotte she’d dished out a lot more than she’d ever taken. She’d done things he hadn’t expected and while he’d had an affair on her, too, she’d had three, and he just couldn’t get beyond it. He had forgiven her, but his feelings had waned so much that he couldn’t see himself staying with her—not even for Curtina’s sake—and that’s who he worried about because interestingly enough, Charlotte and Curtina held a special bond. They loved each other the way any mother and daughter should, and Curtis worried how negatively the divorce would affect his child. He’d thought about that a lot, but in the end, he’d decided he just couldn’t be married to Charlotte any longer. 

He worried about Matthew, too, but the good news there was that Matthew had made it very clear that he understood Curtis’s decision and that he was fine with it. Although, Curtis did wonder if the reason Matthew felt that way was because he still hadn’t fully forgiven his mother for the two affairs she’d had last year. He’d been terribly hurt by them, and in many ways, he hadn’t been as close to her since.

Curtis reminisced about his past a little while longer and finally turned around and reviewed his sermon notes. At the same time, however, he thought about Sharon Green, the woman he’d almost slipped and had an affair with. But who he’d also been thinking about a lot more than usual was his first wife, Tanya, and how over the last few months, he hadn’t been able to stop reflecting on the love they’d once shared, how perfect they’d been for each other and how horribly he’d treated her. He could kick himself a thousand times for sleeping around with so many women behind Tanya’s back. It had been eighteen years since the day Tanya had taken little Alicia and walked out on him, but there were times when he felt like it had happened yesterday, and Curtis wished things had turned out differently. He wished he’d been completely faithful to his first wife, the woman he’d loved with all his heart—God forgive him, the woman he’d never fully stopped loving in the first place. 

He knew it was wrong, not to mention he did have the greatest respect for her second husband, James, the man she’d been married to for years, but he couldn’t help how he felt. He couldn’t change the fact that Tanya had been his soul mate ever since college or that even to this day, no one, not Charlotte or anyone else, compared to her. No woman was classier or kinder, and he’d made a grave mistake having lost her. He would regret it from now on, and it bothered him.

( Continues... )

Excerpted from THE REVEREND'S WIFE. Copyright © 2012 by Kimberla Lawson Roby. Excerpted by permission of  the author Kimberla Lawson Roby. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

How to Find Your Serenity Place 
by Kerri Herndon

My typical day begins at 5 am. Today, I truly look forward to rising before the sun and greeting everyone with joy. I must admit, it took me some time to find my morning glory. Blissful rest was always interrupted by insidious honking and silenced with with my right hand as I quickly hit the snooze button to give me at least 10 additional minutes of sleep. The plush purple toasty fur lined slippers that awaited the arrival of my feet to slide in to begin the normal daily routine, were very rarely in reach. 

Next, as I waddled downstairs to grab the kettle from the stove, fill it with water for coffee (still yawning), dings from my iPhone alerting me to brand new emails, text messages, FaceBook messages and notifications and invites to events that I would never attend grab the first moments of my day.  As I pour the creamer in my coffee, my mind is already beginning to list out all the items that will be placed on the “to do list” creating my agenda for the day. Before I have taken one sip or sat down for devotion, my mind has dictated at least twenty tasks that need to be accomplished by 3pm.  With my mind racing around everything that needs to be done for the day, enjoying the solitude while basking in serenity is slipping away…

But wait.

I woke up early for solitude and devotional time to clear my mind thus bringing forth feelings of serenity and clarity to pave the way for a more productive day…

If any of this sounds remotely familiar then you can more than likely also relate as the day unfolds, so do the responsibilities and the ever increasing demands that are piled upon you. Within the midst of all of it, are your personal ambitions and desires.  Without surrendering your white flag, you begin to read books and listen to audios on how to jam seven hours into three to become more efficient so that you have more “me” and family time. You up your intake of vitamins and supplements, temporarily change your eating habits and join the gym all attempting to continue ironing your shero cape and not relent. Yet, feelings of fatigue, low energy, occasional mood swings and irritability have now become a part of your personality while stress and thoughts of depression are knocking at the door for permanent residency.

I’m reminded of the 80’s song by Karen White, where in the video poised with strength, she serenades her uniformed husband, I’m not your superwoman. The scenes switch back and forth as we viewers are relating to the stamina she excludes as she is hanging up laundry and then cooking dinner ( all while looking good in her heels). What is it in some of us that believes we can and should play the balancing act of twenty item task list and still meet the needs of others around us?

The above daily routine I described, used to be me. Running the hamster wheel wore me out and left me feeling overwhelmed and discontent. I still wake each day at five am with the same responsibilities yet with a new mindful approach in gaining my morning glory.
I believe in the search of happiness, fulfillment, security, financial stability, career advancement and other personal goals, our true focus gets lost. With so many distractions; a lack of direction and/or definite purpose, daily stressors, family responsibilities, demands of co-workers, expectations of others, and personal ambitions, our judgment gets cloudy leaving some in a standstill of hazy mental fog. 

The lack of serenity skills to assist us with balancing the surge of raging emotions that swing like pendulum to meet the pressures of life unfortunately result in the inability to focus and remain grounded. Yet there are some who pick up other peoples burdens and responsibilities adding them to an already jam-packed schedule; over-stuffing their own nap-sack causing complications and strain. This “strain” is the emotional baggage (nap-sack) causing tension, headaches, fatigue, irritability and more. Trying to rearrange your day, adding supplements, vitamins and the like only temporarily mask the symptoms of what your body and spirit are trying to tell you. Burnout and exhaustion have arrived and if not tended, the toxicity from uncontrolled emotions can have catastrophic effects in the spirit, soul and body.

Your spirit eventually becomes weighed down which can leave feelings of doubt, insecurity and anxiety. Proverbs 12:25 provides a timely reminder that we should not allow anxiety to take root as it can cause depression. Today we see more and more commercials for medications to treat the symptoms of depression. Depression has been commonly referred to as the “common cold” of mental illness and if left untreated can lead to suicide. It’s time to deal with the root causes and stop masking symptoms of burnout and exhaustion to prevent full blown depression. But how?

One approach…Morning Glory.

Morning Glory is a serenity skill that I have developed in preparation for daily devotional time. It will give a guide to quieting the “white noise” or clear the mental fog so you can focus on learning to live a life of love and appreciation. It provides you with some basics to develop compassion for self and others using the power of imagination to heal the soul while releasing toxic emotions.

Let’s begin!

Keeping in mind that we are three-part beings (spirit, soul and body), every part of you is connected. If you have a tense mind (which resides in your soul), you have a tense body. Optimal results are achieved when allowing at least 20 minutes to perform The Morning Glory Serenity in the morning prior to your personal devotional time. It will assist you with clearing the clutter and the random thoughts that try to invade your mind as you seek wisdom in asking the Lord God to establish your thoughts and steps for the day.

Find a comfortable place to sit and pay attention to your breathing. Focus on the love of God, His grace and mercy being extended to you this morning. Begin to focus on your breathing. Imagine that each breath you take is the Spirit of the Living God coming into your body cleansing and healing it. Concentrate on the sensation of the cleansing air moving in and out of your nose and mouth. Notice your belly move in and out.

Pay attention to your breathing. Allow your belly to rise as you inhale and to slowly fall fall back down as you exhale. Take some time to breathe deeply as you prepare to welcome the Holy Spirit.

First concentrate on your forehead. As you breathe in, notice the muscles of your forehead. Become aware of any muscle tension in this area of your body. As you breathe out, let go of any muscle tension you find by purposely relaxing the muscles. It begins with an awareness of the tension on the in-breath, and letting go of the tension on the out-breath. Repeat for several slow deep breaths.

Next concentrate on any muscle tension in a particular body area as you inhale (like your shoulders). Now, as you exhale, consciously loosen and release that tension. Imagine the breath traveling into that particular area is a radiant healing light, then traveling out as you exhale. As the breath leaves the area, visualize the muscles slackening, as if your breath is carrying away any tension and stress you may have. Each time you breathe, make sure you are taking slow, deep breaths, concentrating on noticing how your belly rises as you inhale and falls as you exhale.

You may be aware of thoughts or feelings rising into your consciousness, or even possibly images popping up in your mind’s eye. Perhaps you are aware of impinging worries, anxieties, fears, fantasies, or other preoccupations involving the past or future. It’s okay and do not allow it to distract you. It is not a “failure” of your efforts to relax or become mindful; you are learning a brand new skill to support you in learning to take control of random thoughts and responses.

Begin to recite the following phrases (or an affirming scripture focused on love):

* I am filled with love, joy, peace.
* I am filled with longsuffering, kindness, goodness.
* I am filled with faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.
* I am filled with the wisdom and knowledge of God.
* I am strengthen with might through His Spirit in my inner self.
* I have been renewed in the spirit of my mind through Christ.

Allow the feelings to arise with these words. Repeat the phrases, letting the feelings permeate your mind and body. (Continue this practice for a few weeks until you sense an authentic loving kindness toward yourself.)

If and when you notice that you’ve been carried away in a stream of associations, merely observe them. Then, gently return your awareness to your breath. Your breath is the gift of God giving you life; healing and cleansing your spirit, soul and body. Allow your breathing to once again become your focus, letting your thoughts recede to the background. Your awareness of your breathing helps anchor you in the present.

For the remaining time, keep your awareness focused on your breath and how it travels into your body; healing all tension and stress restoring the presence of peace and the euphoria of love. Gradually bring your consciousness back to your surroundings.

When you feel ready, start with this meditation practice, using the same phrases, but gradually expand the focus of your love, kindness, and appreciation to include others. Imagine the person and thoughtfully recite the phrases:

* I am filled with love, joy, peace.
* I am filled with longsuffering, kindness, goodness.
* I am filled with faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.
and so on (same as above).

Remember, consistency is the key. The more consistent practice of this practice along with other spiritual beliefs (attending church services, praying regularly, etc.) along with serenity skills such as Morning Glory can greatly reduce feelings of anxiety, stress, and overwhelm. Thoughtfully consider including a regular exercise program and vitamin supplement and gain overall tremendous health benefits.

Morning Glory Serenity has the potential to bridge the gap between yourself and others replacing fear, worries, and anxieties with love and compassion. I would love to hear how Morning Glory is working for you! Post how it’s going for you and what you are receiving below. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Blessings, Kerri Herndon

About the Author
Kerri Herndon,
affectionately known as Coach Kerri the Life Transformation Coach is a Motivational Speaker, Radio Talk Show Host, Entrepreneur, Author, and Founder of one of the fastest growing organizations dedicated to empowering women of all ages. Her B.A. Biblical Studies and M.A. in Christian Counseling coupled with an unflinching and honest understanding of today’s woman, enables her to skillfully assist others with indentifying the root causes of their personal dilemmas.

Coach Kerri specialty lies in assisting women with breaking the barriers of limitations and achieving emotional wholeness. Living by the mantra of "Create the life you love", Coach Kerri implements this truth into powerful coaching programs that equip women with eliminating fear and stress and bridging passion to purpose.  Remaining true to her powerful message of transformation, in her recently published book, "Simply Me - Taking Off the Mask Through Effectual Prayer", she provides practical self-help tools along with spiritual insight that explains how traumatic experiences such as depression, rejection, abortion, attempted suicide can alter the course of destined purpose. 

Coach Kerri's testimony and life-transforming messages share the miracle working power of God and how He is able to use all our baggage for His greater purpose. She is a walking representation of the WORD at work and has made it her life mission to allow the Holy Spirit to use her to impact the lives of others. Her inspiring stories and personal reflections have made her a highly respected and sought after speaker with women’s groups, conferences and churches.   Website:


Marriage is a Crazy Love

Examine genuine love in marriage that is different than popular culture. 

The buzz rang across the world. The word was finally out, “Whitney Houston was dead.” The idea that a woman so talented would be forever lost to the world was unthinkable. On February 12, 2012, Whitney Houston had died at the age of 48 years old. Through the public eyes, the six-time Grammy winner was on a sobriety roller-coaster. In her awarding song, Whitney sings, “If I should stay I would only be in your way, so I'll go. But I know I'll think of you every step of the way. And I...will always love you.” Yet, this kind of love is mysterious. In a world looking for comfort from Whitney’s death, there are some lessons to learn for everyone. The article examines today’s marriages and how to assess the true love.

Marriage Drama
Many people blame Whitney’s eventual downfall of her stormy marriage. She married Bobby Brown in 1992. With her concert cancellations and erratic behavior, rumors circulated about her drug abuse with husband Bobby Brown. On one occasion, police responded to a domestic violence call from Whitney about her husband. Eventually, Bobby was eventually charged with misdemeanor battery in 2003; he allegedly struck his wife in a heated domestic altercation.

In 2005, the couple allowed the world to take an inside peek into their rocky relationship with a reality TV show Being Bobby Brown. Whitney later admitted to Oprah Winfrey in an interview that doing the show was a mistake. She did the show to support her husband Bobby. In an interview, Whitney explained, “Nobody makes me do anything I don't wanna do, it's my decision. So the biggest devil is me. I'm either my best friend or my worst enemy.”   

After 14 years of marriage, Whitney and Bobby ended their marriage in 2007 but not all the drama associated with being famous. In fact, drug addiction continued to haunt Whitney’s life. Her daughter Bobbi Kristina, who was informally Whitney’s primary caretaker, was very close to her mother. Sadly, Whitney and Bobby’s marriage will not be remembered for its intense love but for its drama and crazy love. 

Marriage Problems
The state of marriage should be troubling to many. According to estimates, 46% of women aged 15-44 years were married or 9% were co-habiting which refers to a man and woman living together in a sexual relationship without being married. For men, 42% were married and 9% co-habited. Although many discuss the plight of marriage with about half ending in divorce, marriage continues to provide some stability for families in society. According to a 2002 National Survey of Family Growth by Paula Goodwin, William Mosher, and Anjani Chandra, marriages last longer than co-habiting unions (78% of marriage lasted 1 year or more, compared with less than 30% of co-habitations).

Crazy Love 
On a steady pace, popular legends and media experts seek to bombard negativism about traditional marriage as a failing institution. Genuine love in marriage could be a crazy love to individuals caught up in fake love. This unconditional love is best outlined biblically: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” This love is considered a crazy love because it is unconditional. In most marriages, the relationship is transactional. If one person does something, there is a reciprocal action. 

Pastor Richard Brown, who routinely offers advice to married and engaged couples, understands the misconceptions that many people have when they enter into marriage. Many expectations are unrealistic. Pastor Brown explains, “Most times our love is conditional. It is about how we act…Saying ‘I do’ is the easy part. Making a marriage work is the difficult part.”

Yet, some of the longest marriages involve more. With people married for over 40 and 50 years, there is more of an effort to accept each other faults and attempt to make the marriage work in spite of the problems. This unselfish marriage strategy is often short changed with a mindset that marriage is about ‘Me’; my needs must be met. 

Whitney Houston will forever be remembered for her powerful voice and lasting memories of unforgettable ballads such as ‘I Will Always Love You.’ Like Whitney, many people are caught of a marriage roller coaster that ends in their peril. As popular culture replaces the tenets of marriage, lasting marriages are based on genuine love. 

Many marriages are filled with drama and unrealistic expectations; some would declare it is a crazy love. However, this is not the same kind of unconditional love that the world argues is a crazy love because it is unconditional. In order to endure the cultural wars, there needs to be the right kind of love that is not transactional or shallow. Let us hope that it is not too late.          © 2012 by Daryl D. Green

About Dr. Daryl Green:
Dr. Daryl Green
provides motivation, guidance, and training for leaders at critical ages and stages of their development. He has over 20 years of management experience and has been noted and quoted by USA Today, Ebony Magazine, and Associated Press. For more information, you can go to or  

Don't Be an Old Fool: Common Sense and Gratitude 
by Daryl Green

In  Don’t Be an Old Fool, Dr. Daryl Green mocks popular culture solutions that leave many people helpless and unfulfilled. Dr. Green’s recommendations in the book to some of life’s common issues, including relationships, are rooted in sound, practical solutions that have been offered through the years by wise community members.

Purchase Don't Be an Old Fool
ISBN-13: 9781466236530

Loving Whitney Too Much 

By author, Sheryl Mallory-Johnson

In light of our beloved Whitney Houston’s untimely death, I was moved to examine the complexity of “Unconditional Love” versus “Tough Love.”  Many of us who believe in a higher power understand unconditional love. In His view, we are whole and perfect beings despite our many imperfections. What can we possibly do to lose His love? This rhetorical question leaves us wondering if we deserve such abundant love. Lord knows we fall short.  But even God, in His infinite wisdom, understands the importance of  “Tough Love…” 

Many of us who believe in a higher power understand unconditional love. In His view, we are whole and perfect beings despite our many imperfections. What can we possibly do to lose His love? This rhetorical question leaves us wondering if we deserve such abundant love. Lord knows we fall short.

But even God, in His infinite wisdom, understands the importance of “Tough Love.” When love is tough it sets a standard. It doesn’t play possum, it doesn’t coward, hide or submit to unacceptable conditions. Tough love gets tough when the going gets rough. Tough love says “I will always love you, but I don’t like who you’re being.” Tough love will turn its back, yet keep an open heart.

I wonder how “tough” each one of us would have been in the face of Whitney’s struggles. Through the television and movie screen, it was easy to love her no matter. No matter her troubles, we loved her. No matter her faults, we loved her. No matter her imperfections, we loved her. As long as she lulled us with her impeccable vocals and wowed us with her God given talent, grace and beauty, we loved Whitney.

If we were as close to Whitney as her family and friends, could we have gotten tough when the going got rough? Before you answer, take a look around you. How many Whitneys do you know? Not just those ravished by drug use and abuse, but those that are headed toward self-destruction in other ways? Are you holding them accountable for their lives or playing possum?

Many of us play possum; maybe out of the fear of being cursed out, hated, disowned, or our biggest fear of all, losing someone we love.   “ We’re not God,” we tell ourselves and settle on  “What can I do?” But we must ask ourselves what more can be done?  Simply praying and having faith sometimes isn’t always enough. Whitney had the masses praying for her life to no avail.

Let us learn from this. If someone you know and love personally is on a path of self-destruction, make a decision NOW to take a powerful stand for their lives. Tell yourself: “I can do more! I will! I will get tough. I will get angry.” Tell that person: “You are valuable, worthy and I love you too much to watch you destroy yourself. I will help you heal, but I won’t help you die.”

About the Author
Sheryl Mallory-Johnson
is a contemporary fiction author and literary coach. An emerging voice on love and relationships in the realm of fiction and reality, her latest novel “Love & Regrets” is available now through Amazon and Barnes & For more information, you can visit Sheryl at:  View the original article here and leave comments, go.

Follow comments from Lionel Richie on how Whitney Houston ‘Had to Save Herself’ 

by Angelia Vernon Menchan

I say little…but listen a lot…
I am a part of several online literary groups, blog-fests, etc…
I love listening in…I have learned so much by keeping my mouth shut and my ears open…
What I often wonder when I hear opinions, is whose truth is it?

My truth might lead me to write one thing…read one thing…
Your truth might lead you to write something else…read something else…
Can’t they all be truths?

I was amused recently by a post that argued ,“Leave Romance Alone----no one has that and if they do they lose it…that’s why drama is more realistic we all have it”…

I was astonished because at more than 33 years married, my life is filled with romance…sure there is drama, trials and tribulations, but everyday the romance runs through it like holy water…
That is my truth…

I guess you can tell where someone’s life stands…when they can tell you in words that your life can’t be like that…

Because their life isn’t…

What happened to good old-fashioned believing…
That if someone can have it…anyone can have it…
Ain’t that the truth...

About the Author
Angelia Vernon Menchan is wife, mother, nana and mentor. The former Job Corps Counselor is employed by day as a Budget Officer. However, by night she is the author of ‘Fictionalized Truths’… Since January 2006, she has published 14 books through her small publishing company, MAMM Productions. Her personal motto is, ‘There is an abundance through God for all of us, we simply have to be open for our blessings.” Her most recent offering is FAMILY, FRIENDS, FOES? The follow up to Mrs. Black? And The Blacks: LOVE’S Politics. AURA BROWN: LIFE CHOICES coming April 29th.

Connect With Angelia Online

by Alicia M. Singleton

Who am I?
I’m the dejected mother trudging the unemployment line
I’m the old vagabond clutching the Wild Iris Rose Wine
I’m the runaway teen with no place to go
I’m the visage of desperation of sorrow and of woe

Who am I?
I’m the prosperous young lawyer
Who comes home to hellish abuse everyday
I’m the professor whose crack-addict child has surely lost his way
I’m the seasoned physician on the verge of mental breakdown
Yet you still ask me,
Who am I?

I’m the face of despondency
That you look through, as if I’m not there
I’m not a ghost
I’m not a specter
But do you even care?

I’m the brother or sister to your left or to your right
Who’s drowning in hopelessness and might not make it through the night
Will you miss your opportunity to share your love and your care?
That might pull that brother or sister through their gloom and despair

For you see, if my sister is crying, then my tears should be flowing through
And if my brother is in pain, then I should be hurting, too
But if my sister is rejoicing, then I’m shouting as well,
I’m not envious, I’m not jealous and I’m not raising hell
And you question, who am I?

Well, your man in the mirror is just one disaster away
From the man in the mirror that I see everyday
Yet in my torment I turn to you but you hastily look away
But your spirit whispers, who am I?

Oh I know, you have life to attend and goals you must pursue
But be careful beloved, God might up and flip that script 
So that one day I will become you 
And you become me 
Then you’ll be the man your eyes never see

Who am I?
Who am I?
I am your keeper
My brother, I am you
My sister, I am you

Copyright 2005 by Alicia M. Singleton

Meet Author Alicia Singleton
Alicia M. Singleton, an award winning author, was born and raised in Philadelphia. The Howard University graduate embraced the written word at an early age. She credits this to her loving older. Alicia resides in Maryland with her wonderful husband and son. Still an avid reader, Alicia is currently at work on a new novel. Visit her website at

Love in Play 
by Zuri Day

Zuri Day spins a captivating and sexy tale of taking charge, letting loose, and playing for keeps. . .

With her curvaceous full figure and a mega-successful magazine career, Dominique Clark is finally large-and-in-charge of her life. The last thing she needs is romantic drama—especially in the form of her son's football coach, Jake McDonald, a man who's used to calling the shots. Yet when their instant attraction leads to a sizzling all-night sexual marathon, they agree that several rematches are in order just to get each other out of their systems. The loving is good, but their differences of opinion have Dominique's head screaming time out. Her heart, however, wants to stay in the game. . .

Chapter Three

Dominique ran her hand discreetly over her abdomen as she stepped into Hollywood's W Hotel's great room. Having grown confident in and comfortable with her plus-size figure years ago, she still thanked God for the body shaper that smoothed, toned, and highlighted the curves that flowed in all the right places. Her freshly done twists accented the high cheekbones in her otherwise round face and her auburn hair with gold tones sparkled under the light of the chandeliers. In this room of size twos, Dominique felt good about how she looked. She went to black-tie events all the time.

So why is my stomach fluttering?

Was it because of the stress of a deadline a week away, Reggie's continued depression, or the fried catfish with jalapeño cornbread she'd had for lunch? No matter, Capricious rarely missed a PR opportunity and tonight's event benefiting education was one that would get major press. When solicited last year, Dominique and the board had immediately agreed to be one of the night's sponsors and she'd also agreed to provide complimentary subscriptions to one hundred lucky student winners. In an age when girls under sixteen were having plastic surgery and a size 10 was considered big, the magazine's brass felt it more important than ever to tout their message: beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, and in every Capricious magazine! So even with a looming deadline and the knowledge that she shouldn't stay long, Dominique had braved an hour of LA traffic to show her support.

Secure that she was a walking ad for "fat, fit, and fabulous," she looked around, recognized the organizer whom she'd lunched with last month, and headed in her direction.

Someone tapped Jake's shoulder. He turned and saw a TV host he'd known for years, a beautiful blonde who was the ex-wife of one of his NFL buddies. They'd just started to chat when he saw someone else—a statuesque African American woman gliding across the room, her chin slightly tilted as she scanned the crowd. Her form-fitting copper dress showed pow out to here and bang out to there and as if that wasn't enough to make a brothah's mouth water, those thick, shapely calves would definitely do the job. Dayum! Who is that?

"Jake, did you hear me?"

"I'm sorry, Madison, what did you say?"

"I was asking if you'd seen my ex lately. I heard he got divorced again, and quite frankly I'm worried about him."

( Continues... )

Excerpted from Love in PLAY by Zuri Day. Copyright © 2011 by Zuri Day. Excerpted by permission of DAFINA BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Meet the Author
Zuri Day
snuck her first Harlequin romance from her older sister's off-limits collection and was hooked from page one. Knights in shining armor and happily-ever-afters filled her teen years and spurred a lifelong love of reading. That Zuri now creates these stories as a full-time author is a dream come true! Splitting her time between the stunning Caribbean islands and southern California, and always busy writing her next novel, Zuri still loves to connect with readers via Purchase books at:  or 

Lovin' Blue 
by Zuri Day

Thanks to a stroke of bad luck, Eden Anderson’s childhood tormentor, Jansen McKnight, is now her temporary roommate. He’s also a badass, gun-toting cop who relishes a steak dinner. As a peace-loving vegetarian, there’s nothing Eden hates more than guns—and meat. But there’s nothing she’d love more than to deflate Jansen’s overblown ego. So when Jansen bets Eden that he can seduce her within two weeks, she can’t wait for him to lose. But as Eden learns more about the man beyond the badge, their teasing turns tantalizing. Soon, Eden starts to believe that opposites may indeed attract, and she can’t stop thinking about the man in blue…

Praise for Lovin' Blue by Zuri Day
“Day’s sensuous African American romance offers new proof of the old saying, opposites attract.” -- Booklist

Chapter One

The police! Eden Anderson's heart leaped into her throat as she pulled behind the police cruiser parked in front of her brother's Baldwin Hills residence in southern California. "What's going on, Michael?" she whispered as she fumbled with her seatbelt, then the lock button, before scrambling out of her packed Acura SUV and rushing to the front door. Her concern had been growing for the past three days—ever since her phone calls and e-mails to her older brother had gone unreturned.

At first she'd shrugged off her worry. After all, her brother, Michael "Big Mike" Anderson, was trying to make a name for himself in the music game. He'd produced a couple B-level acts while working for a major record label. His work often went late into the night, and reaching him wasn't always easy. But when Eden had left two "call me right now" messages, followed by texts marked with the same urgency, she'd experienced the first twinges of fear. And now, looking at the black-and-white squad car sitting at the curb of her brother's front door, Eden's anxiety went into full throttle.

Eden knocked on the front door. No response. She repeatedly rang the doorbell but didn't hear the chimes that usually sounded when the button was pushed. Eden knocked harder, first on the door, then on the window. The living room was dark; she could detect no movement. But lights were on upstairs. Eden's fear increased.

You've got a key. Out of her panic came a voice that reminded Eden she had a key to her brother's house. He'd given it to her months ago, when she'd come house hunting and stayed at his place. She'd meant to give it back but hadn't. Remembering that she'd placed it in the zipper compartment of her large Junior Drake purse, Eden walked purposefully back to her car to retrieve it. Her steps were measured and much slower than before. Eden wasn't sure she wanted to find out what was happening on the other side of the door.

Jansen McKnight turned off the shower. Did I hear a knock? He waited a beat, and then another, before turning the water back on and finishing the long, hot shower. He turned to let the water pound against the knots in his shoulders. I need to see Dakkar, he thought dispassionately. Dakkar was the masseuse trained in Swedish massage who had rubbed away tension, stress, and frustration from Jansen's body for years. For now, however, the near-scalding hot water pulsating from the heavy-duty showerhead was serving as a viable alternative. Jansen rested a large palm on either side of the stall, hung his head, and let the water work its magic.

A loud thud interrupted Jansen's serenity. His just relaxed muscles tensed, his entire body rigid in alert. He lessened the water pressure, straining to hear beyond the guest bathroom he'd used since agreeing to house sit for Michael the previous week, and beyond the stereo playing in the bedroom across the hall.

Thump. There it was again, unmistakable this time. Either the sound of footsteps, or something being dragged across the floor, or both. Jansen's officer instinct went into auto mode, and for good reason. A recent rash of burglaries in the upscale, central Los Angeles neighborhood was why Michael had asked his friend to house sit. Jansen loved the comfort of his home in Gardena, and agreed to his best friend's pleas only after Michael promised that a home security system would be installed immediately upon his return. Well, brothah, Jansen thought with a resigned sigh, looks like I'm getting ready to earn my keep.

With the stealth of a panther, Jansen turned the shower back to full blast, eased out of the stall, soundlessly wrapped a towel around his waist, and reached for the 9mm Glock that was never far from his reach. Tonight he'd unstrapped and rested it on the closed toilet seat, before the rest of his navy uniform ended up in a heap on the bathroom floor.


Jansen eased the gun out of its holster and crept down the short hallway to the top of the stairs. Taking a deep breath, he placed his foot on the top step and prayed the old maple wood wouldn't creak under his weight.

* * *

Eden walked into the living room and dropped another load onto the hardwood floor. Her first thought had been to leave everything in the car until morning, but a chance glance at a crime-watch sign nailed to a post nixed that idea. Even in what she felt was a fairly safe neighborhood, a car packed with clearly visible goods may be too much for either a hardened criminal or a bored teen to pass up. So with the last ounces of energy she could summon after driving for ten hours, she walked in with her beloved stereo system—the final load.

Jansen kept his back against the wall as he noted the shadow passing along the living room's far wall. Whoever this fool is has a lot of nerve. Normally, especially when it was obvious that someone was home, a burglar would do one quick, thorough sweep—get in and out. But Jansen wanted to catch this perpetrator, believing that in doing so he may nab the person or ring of persons behind this neighborhood's woes. That's why he'd left the shower running, to give the thief a false sense of security. The criminal had obviously taken the bait and made himself at home. You may be nervy, but you're not too bright, son. Jansen quietly cocked his weapon. It was about to go down.

Eden gingerly sat her stereo on the coffee table and then reached for the suitcases she'd tossed on the couch. She couldn't wait to get in the shower. Her head hurt; her hair—stuffed under an Orioles baseball cap—was in desperate need of shampoo, and the secret that was strong enough for a man but made for a woman was about to become public news. Oh, I'm funky, she thought as she used the sleeve of her long-sleeved Bison Blue T-shirt to wipe her face. As she did so, her earring caught on the sleeve and came out of her ear. She'd planned to replace the clasp on her favorite hoops before leaving DC, but like many other plans she'd made in the past two weeks, these, too, had changed. Ever since resigning her job on Capitol Hill, her life had been a series of unexpected interruptions. Part of what she was hoping for with this move back home was a life without surprises.

"Freeze! Don't move!" Jansen eased off the last step onto the floor, assumed a strong, wide-legged stance, and pointed his gun at the back of the scrawny, ball-capped thief who'd been wreaking havoc on the neighborhood. "Get your hands up and slowly turn around."

Eden stood frozen, unable to speak or move. What's going on? Where's Michael? After hearing the music, and the water running, Eden had assumed it was Michael upstairs. But these strong, authoritative commands had definitely not been uttered from her brother's lips, and her womanly intuition, along with a rapidly beating heart, told her this was not a joke.

"Do it now!" Jansen took another step toward his suspect.

Eden began to shake as she slowly turned around. She took one look at the huge man whose face was hidden in the darkness, noted the gun that—unlike his countenance—was clearly visible from his outstretched hands, and did what any normal, law-abiding citizen would do under such dire circumstances. She fainted.

( Continues... )

Excerpted from Lovin' Blue by Zuri Day. Copyright © 2011 by Zuri Day. Excerpted by permission of DAFINA BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Meet the Author
Zuri Day
snuck her first Harlequin romance from her older sister's off-limits collection and was hooked from page one. Knights in shining armor and happily-ever-afters filled her teen years and spurred a lifelong love of reading. That Zuri now creates these stories as a full-time author is a dream come true! Splitting her time between the stunning Caribbean islands and southern California, and always busy writing her next novel, Zuri still loves to connect with readers via

Zuri Day is a hopeful romantic. She believes in happy endings, half-full glasses and dreams coming true. Visit with her at:  Purchase books at:  or  


Intimate Conversation with Toney T. Rowe

BPM: Tell me about your writing background. How does one become a successful author/novelist?
Over the years, I’d been journaling about my life and experiences of living the secret life I led for so many years. It wasn’t until I finished the book, which I had not had a title for at that time, that I reached out to my cousin, Jessica Tilles, to help me put my thoughts, my life, my experiences into a book, Trapped Inside a Female's Body. While I may not be successful as far as book sales, yet, I am successful if my story helps one person.

BPM: Who did you write Trapped Inside a Female's Body for and why now? Why was this book important to create?
I felt trapped and stifled. I felt it was time for those I love to know the truth. I didn't write this book to hurt anyone, but I wrote it more for myself...a process of healing. It was important for me to write this book to get all of my past secrets out, about the life I used to live. I was trapped inside a female's body. 

BPM: How will your book, Trapped Inside a Female's Body, motivate others to live life to the fullest?
It was really hard to live a secret life, as a person of a hidden sexual identity. Once I came open with whom I really was, I felt more comfortable and true to others and myself, that I'm a gay female. Here, I would speak on how the gay lifestyle is more accepting in society now, and being true to one's self and identity will allow them to live a full and healthy life.

BPM: Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book?
How hard and dangerous it was living as a hidden sexual identity. Hurting others and myself, not being truthful and honest. Just be true to yourself and you can still find love. I was really thinking about getting a sex change during these times, but as I came openly with my lifestyle, it changed all my feelings about being whom I really was. There are so many other people whom lives this life, males living as females and females living as males. Living a secret life not telling your partner the truth about your sexual identity, that relationship may end up a dangerous situation.

BPM: What is the most surprising thing you have learned from publishing your book?
Having the courage to tell my true story from growing up and finding my true sexual identity. Sharing this story to my family and friends that really did not know all that I went through. I was very surprised that I did not receive the type of backlash I thought I might have received from my family. I was also very surprised at the amount of support I received from my Mother and Father.

BPM: What would you say has been your most significant achievement with this book?
I kept this secret out for the longest time and I'm feeling more open with my family and friends knowing my real life story growing up. Aside from releasing a secret I'd been harboring for most of my life, a big achievement for me would be that my book, Trapped Inside A Female's Body, will affect someone's life. Maybe there's someone out there who is afraid to open up, still in the closet. Someone from reading my book, who needs that extra push, will realize that it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks or feels about them, their sexuality, or their lifestyle. As long as they are happy with who they are, that's all that's important. I'm happy and love me for who and what I am, and so do my family and friends.

BPM: What advice would you give a person who wants to tell their story?
Have the courage to tell your true story, knowing everyone may read about secrets that you have kept inside from others. Be truthful and honest with yourself. The life you have is the only life you have to live. 

BPM: Name three things that it takes to make a successful person, in your opinion?
Be Honest, Be Truthful and Be Forgiving.

BPM: What can we expect from you in the future?
To write a part 2 of Trapped Inside a Female's Body.

Connect with Toney T. Rowe



Intimate Conversation with Marissa Monteilh

Voted amongst the 2010 Women of Influence in Publishing by Written Magazine, Marissa Monteilh, a former news reporter and commercial actress, is the author of ten novels, two novellas, and one non-fiction title, as well as four erotica titles under her pen name, Pynk. Originally self-published, Marissa mentors new authors and is a regular contributor to the literary blog, Novel Spaces. Originally from Los Angeles, she now resides in Atlanta, Georgia with her family. 

VIDEO: Hot Girlz by Marissa Monteilh

In the continuing tradition of the hit novel Hot Boyz, celebrity, sex, money, and violence are all components of the long-awaited sequel called Hot Girlz, a family drama that explores the lives of three women, Mercedes, Venus, and Sequoia, the wives of wealthy brothers, Mason, Claude and Torino Wilson. This time it's seven years later as the housewives return to tell their stories. The ladies quickly prove that even with their fancy cars, big homes, designer clothes, and luscious spending sprees, the scandalous drama still continues in the upscale neighborhood of Ladera Heights, California. 

BPM: How did you initially break into the publishing industry? What road did you travel? How do you feel about self-publishing? 
I began chronicling my life story and half way through, I turned it into a novel. I submitted query letters for one year, and then after receiving a slew of rejection letter, I self-published. I’m a big proponent of self-publishing because it led to my book deal with HarperCollins in 2001. 

BPM: What is your definition of success? 
Success to me means overcoming the odds, surviving the negative, achieving your goals or at least going for it, and most of all, success means having the courage to live your dreams enough to leave your mark and making a difference. 

BPM: Success leaves clues, whose clues did you follow on your journey? 
My clues were in the form of various light-bulb moments. One in particular was when I was in junior high school and my English teacher asked me to promise her I would be a writer. She raved over a play I had written. Each job I had seemed to lead to identifying some sort of writing skill. And then one day while in church, my pastor talked about discovering our life’s passion. I realized my passion was writing. Soon after, I sat down and wrote my first novel, May December Souls, which was later auctioned for sale. All of those special moments led to my career in writing. Success yet, I’m not so sure but I will say that I am living my dream.

BPM: What books or authors made a difference in your life? 
James Baldwin was one of the authors I read when I was young. He shocked me with his word-courage and helped me to be brave. And Terry McMillan made a difference by offering characters I could relate to. She taught publishers that African Americans buy books, read books, and write books. I don’t think they really understood that before the Terry McMillan experience.

BPM: What have you realized about yourself since becoming a published author? 
I realize that I’m in love with words; so much so that I can’t wait to get started on the next title, and the next. I’ve also realized that I love the independence and excitement of the writing process. I’m hooked!

BPM: What are some of the benefits of being an author that makes it all worthwhile? 
Being a full-time writer allows for a lot of autonomy and freedom without the restraints of being supervised or monitored. You must monitor and motivate yourself, so you have to exercise great discipline. But whether you write full-time or not, writing books is an amazing release of creativity. Writing is not glamorous, in most cases it’s not very lucrative, and it is not for the faint of heart. It is work and one must study the craft. But there’s nothing like completing a book and releasing it for the readers to experience.

BPM: Do you have any advice for people seeking to publish a book? 
Buy books on self-publishing, research, ask other authors how they did it but don’t expect handouts – do the hard work. Focus on putting out a quality product, both story-wise and production-wise. Don’t rush the writing process. Get to know your characters and be true to them. 

BPM: If you were not a writer, what would you be? What are you passionate about, besides writing books? 
I’m passionate about decorating and I love HGTV. If I weren’t an author I’d be an interior designer. Or a race car driver. Yep. I know. Hard to imagine, huh?

BPM: How has your writing style evolved over the years? What stimulated your growth the most? 
My writing style is much more artistic in sentence structure and tone than it was before. It’s richer. I craft my scenes almost like I’m writing a play. The scenes in my head are intensely visual. I can see the movements unfold and it’s like I’m just transcribing what’s happening. While it is true that I’ve learned how to write by studying, I’ve also learned how to write by writing. Trying different styles and structures and angles have allowed me to grow and evolve. The feel and touch of it is ever-changing.

BPM: Finish this sentence- “My writing offers the following legacy to future readers... ” 
My writing offers the following legacy to future readers...the legacy of contemporary, relationship-type, real life dramas, with sometimes taboo subjects and edgy characters, that I felt secure enough to create.

BPM: Are any scenes from the book borrowed from your world or your experiences? 
I grew up near Ladera Heights, which is the neighborhood Hot Girlz is set in, and I know the so-called wealthy African Americans in the big houses in L.A., driving the fancy cars. But I also knew that often, the view from the outside did not mirror the view on the inside. Also, one of the chapters is straight from my life, and that is chapter sixteen. It was hands down the toughest chapter I’ve penned in all my days of writing. I couldn’t see beyond my tears and had to stop.

BPM: What should readers DO after reading this book? 
Readers should hold their parents and children a little closer, and hug their mates a little tighter. I hope Hot Girlz reminds us all to forgive, to think first, and to love unconditionally. 

BPM: How do you avoid the temptation of interjecting your own morals or ministry in your writing? 
I find that if I get to know my characters well enough before I start writing, then I am better at staying stay true to them and remembering that the writing is about what they would do, not what I would do. It is their journey, not mine. And I don’t worry about what a reader might think of me. I write to entertain by throwing some friction into the lives of the characters I’ve developed. When they surprise even me by their reactions, I know I’m on to something.

BPM: Thank you, Marissa, for sharing a little bit about yourself, your journey and your book with our readers!
Thank you, Ella! You have been a constant in my career and I appreciate you for all you’ve done for readers, authors, and for the literary world.

Visit with Marissa at:


My Dates from Hell by Mary Monroe

One thing that most of us have in common is that we have all had at least one date from hell. I have had enough for five people. These hellish liaisons have given me some great writing material!

A few years ago I had dinner with a real cutie in one of the most expensive restaurants in San Francisco. Just as we were about to order dessert, the cops stormed in and arrested my date for assaulting his ex. I had to use my rent money to pay for dinner, and I had to take a bus home. On that bus, a fight broke out between rival gang members and two guys started shooting!

About six months later I reluctantly went out with a friend’s recently paroled brother; an individual who swore that he had found Jesus during his incarceration and he had become a changed man. During the date, that “changed man” stole my wallet out of my purse while I was in the ladies room. I didn’t realize what had happened until the next day. By then he had already gone on a shopping spree with my credit cards and skipped town.

During another dinner, my date’s credit card got declined so I pulled out of one of mine and it got declined! I knew one of the waiters and he paid the check. 

Another date took me to a Hell’s Angels hangout for dinner where a roach crawled into my plate. Where do I meet these Romeos? They are everywhere. They can be the boy next door like my very first date and the worst (so far). It happened when I was sixteen. 

My mother had told me that I could date, but she and my step-father were particular about the boys I went out with. The only ones that they approved of were the boys that nobody wanted! Like “Tommy” from church; God’s homeliest creation since the baboon. But their favorite “potential son-in-law” was our bug-eyed, stuttering paperboy. Like most of my girlfriends, I liked the “cool” boys; the ones usually in and out of trouble. The more devilish they were, the more I liked them—especially if they were cute too. That summer, I fell for a boy who was too cool for his own good. He had sideburns, lots of muscles, and a chipped front tooth. I’ll call him “Chucky” but to this day, I don’t know his real name. He was twenty and already had babies by three different girls, and a lengthy rap sheet. 

“That Chucky is the Devil,” my mother said one day. I had been flirting with the Devil for weeks and was glad that he’d finally followed me to the park one day and asked me to go out with him. Around nine-thirty that same night, I crawled though my second floor bedroom window to the roof, scooting like a crab until I reached the buckeye tree that leaned against our house. The same way that my character Ruby Upshaw does in my novel Mama Ruby. I shimmied down the tree, proud of the fact that I’d managed this clumsy feat with so much grace.

I had dressed in the dark so I was not surprised when I made it to the sidewalk to a spot under a streetlight and saw that I had on two different shoes. That was a bad sign but I chose to ignore it.  Chucky winked a bloodshot eye at me as soon as I reached his decrepit old Mustang, parked two blocks way in a church parking lot. “Baby, you are lookin’ real good,” he swooned, rubbing my backside with both hands. Another bad sign I chose to ignore…

I stared at him in awe as he told me his plan for the night. “There’s a real good movie at the drive-in but I ain’t about to pay them shylocks for no two tickets. You are goin’ to hide in the trunk ‘til we get inside. That way we’ll have money for snacks and stuff.”

“Oh. Sounds like fun,” I muttered as he sped off like a bat out of hell. A block from the drive-in Chucky stopped and I climbed into the trunk of his car. After a brief but bumpy ride, the car stopped again. A few moments later I heard Chucky’s key in the trunk lock. It jiggled for a couple of minutes and then it stopped. Twenty minutes later I was still in the trunk. I didn’t know what to think so all kinds of thoughts began to run through my head. Had one of Chucky’s enemies ambushed him and left him for dead? Had one of his other admirers hijacked him? Even worse was the thought that this boy was playing a cruel joke on me. I yelled for help but no one came.

About an hour later the trunk popped open. By then I was hysterical and my dress was soaked with my urine. Staring at me were two scowling police officers with their flashlights shining in my face. They told me that Chucky had broken the key trying to open the trunk and had not been able to locate our town’s only locksmith. He had had no choice but to throw himself on the mercy of the theater manager, who had promptly called the cops.

The cops had already handcuffed Chucky and placed him in the back seat of their squad car. I found out later that they’d found drugs and a stolen gun on him. I didn’t get arrested. But I had cooked my own goose anyway. When I got home, I got the whupping that I had earned. Everything that happened on this hellish date happened to my character Carmen Taylor in my novel Gonna Lay Down My Burdens. (See, bad things happen for a reason—great material to write about). I choose not to date as much as I used to… 

About the Author
Mary Monroe i
s the author of the award-winning and The New York Times bestselling God Series, which includes God Don’t Like Ugly and God Ain’t Blind. The winner of the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Award, Mary Monroe currently lives in Oakland, California. Meet author Mary Monroe as she travels across the nation discussing Mama Ruby and her literary journey: 

Order Books by Mary Monroe 

Intimate Conversation with Kimberla Lawson Roby

New York Times Bestselling Author Kimberla Lawson Roby has published fifteen novels which include LOVE, HONOR, and BETRAY, BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU PRAY FOR, A DEEP DARK SECRET, THE BEST OF EVERYTHING, ONE IN A MILLION, SIN NO MORE, LOVE & LIES, CHANGING FACES, THE BEST-KEPT SECRET, TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING, A TASTE OF REALITY, IT’S A THIN LINE, CASTING THE FIRST STONE, HERE AND NOW, and her debut title, BEHIND CLOSED DOORS, and which was originally self-published through her own company, Lenox Press. 

Her novels have frequented numerous bestseller lists, including The New York Times and those in USA Today, The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Essence Magazine, Upscale Magazine, Emerge Magazine, Barnes and Noble,, Wal-Mart, The Dallas Morning News, and The Austin Chronicle to name a few and both BEHIND CLOSED DOORS and CASTING THE FIRST STONE were #1 Blackboard bestsellers for four consecutive months in both 1997 and 2000. BEHIND CLOSED DOORS was the #1 Blackboard Best-selling book for paperback fiction in 1997. 

Each of Kimberla's novels has dealt with very real issues, including corruption within the church, social status, gambling addiction, infidelity, single motherhood, infertility, sibling rivalry and jealousy, domestic violence, sexual abuse, care giving of a parent, racial and gender discrimination in the workplace, sexual harassment, overweight issues, and female illnesses to name a few.

Kimberla resides in Illinois with her husband, Will. Her sixteenth novel, SECRET OBSESSION, will be released on Tuesday, September 6, 2011.

BPM: What have you realized about yourself since becoming a published author?
What I've realized is that, to a certain extent, I tend to be a people pleaser because Lord knows I work very hard to please my readers as much as I can. My reading audience is extremely important to me as a whole, so my primary goal is to try to satisfy them versus worrying about the overall industry.

BPM: Besides the creative process, what is the most gratifying aspect of being a writer?
The most gratifying aspect of being an author is connecting with my readers on a personal level. Whether it be through email exchange, Facebook, Twitter or in-person at events, meeting and conversing with my readers brings me great joy.

BPM: What's the most important role writers play in today’s world?
For me, it's all about telling the truth, even though I write fiction. What I always try to do is write about real-life issues without sugarcoating the storylines. Sometimes that can mean writing about pretty controversial and/or taboo topics, but I truly think writing these kinds of stories are very needed and appreciated by many readers.

BPM: Can you see any of your books being optioned for movies?
Yes, and actually, CASTING THE FIRST STONE has been optioned for film as well as ONE IN A MILLION.

BPM: What do you think of the increasingly gratuitous sex in African American literature? 
Well, for the most part, I try not to focus on what anyone else is writing, but what I will say is that a few years ago, I decided to no longer include graphic sex scenes or profanity. In some of my earlier books, I'd never included more than a word or two here or there and only included a couple of tasteful sex scenes anyhow, but ultimately I decided it wasn't even necessary to include any profanity or graphic sex scenes at all. Many readers have categorized me as a Christian Fiction writer, but in reality, I am simply a Christian who just so happens to write fiction. The other important thing is that I don't want to write anything that might hinder my relationship God.

BPM: A Legacy is something that is handed down from one period of time to another period of time. Finish this sentence- “My writing offers the following legacy to future readers...” 
It represents the truth and a ton of reality, and readers will always be able to learn from the mistakes my characters tend to make. My hope is that my work will encourage readers to make much better choices in life than many of my characters have, so that they won't have to experience such dire consequences.

BPM: Introduce us to your book and the main characters. What genre is the book? On Kindle or Nook?
Secret Obsession is African-American, Mainstream, Contemporary and Women's Fiction. Yes, it is available as an e-book for both Kindle and Nook.

Paige Donahue has always resented her sister, Camille. As children, Camille got the good grades, friends, and their parents’ love, while Paige received hurtful criticism and no real affection. Now, as adults, Camille lives in a gorgeous home with her husband, Pierce, and their two beautiful children, while Paige is stuck in a small condo she can barely pay for. But enough is enough, and soon—by planting seeds of doubt in Camille’s and Pierce’s minds—Paige’s plan of stealing her brother-in-law begins to work perfectly. Until Pierce makes a stunning decision and drives Paige to an even more desperate scheme…

BPM: What insight does Secret Obsession give readers on relationships or one defined topic? Has your view changed since completing your book?
Because the story is about two sisters who grew up together and how one feels as though their parents treated the other sister much better, it shows how siblings can literally grow up in the same house but have a totally different recollection of how life was for them as a family. And yes, after writing this book, it really made me wonder if my brothers and I would answer certain questions exactly the same about our childhood or if we would all have very different responses.

BPM: Who are the major players? What are two major events taking place?
Paige Donahue and Camille Montgomery. Paige schemes her way into sister and brother-in-law's life and does everything she can to turn them against each other. Another major event is when Paige fakes being raped.

BPM: Are your characters from the portrayal of real people or experiences?
No, my characters do not portray anyone that I know personally, but the idea of sisters and/or siblings in general being envious of one another is what inspired me to write this particular book. I hear about adult sibling rivalry all the time.

BPM: What inspired you to write this book? Why now?
I have a lot of topics I'd like to write about, and for whatever reason, now just seemed liked the right time to write SECRET OBSESSION.

BPM: Who do you want to reach with your book and the message within?
I'd like to reach women across the board, but I also think men could benefit from reading the story as well. Especially given the fact that there are two sisters and one man who ends up caught in the middle.

BPM: What should readers DO after reading this book? 
Think about their own sibling relationships and also pay attention to the closeness or lack there of when it comes to the relationship between their children.

BPM: What's more important: critical acclaim or popular success amongst the readers? Why?
I would definitely have to say popular success amongst readers, because in the end, it is my readers who I truly want to satisfy. They are the folks I am constantly thinking about when I'm writing my novels. 

BPM: Share with us your latest news or upcoming book releases. How may our readers follow you online? 
I'm working on a new novella right now, and next year on May 1, 2012, the 9th novel in my Reverend Curtis Black Series will be released. The title is THE REVEREND'S WIFE. 

Readers can contact me at,  and at 

Heart Stealer by Tiphanie Thomas

Heart Stealer is a sexy, heartwarming novel of an unlikely duo as they navigate love, acceptance, and fears.

After several box-office flops, movie star Randall Rowe returns to his small hometown to rebuild his relationship with his preacher father and persuades stubborn Kayla Denton, the runaway he'd once helped, to decorate his new home. With their close proximity, Randall starts seeing independent Kayla as an alluring woman with whom he can be himself, though he knows she's all wrong for him. 

Meanwhile, Kayla has already been abandoned by one man in her life, and she's determined not to endure it again. Yet underneath Randall's fast lifestyle and devil-may-care persona lies more than she could've imagined. 

Can either of them ever trust the deep connection they share when faced with Hollywood and crippling fears? 

Excerpt from Heart Stealer -- Kayla’s POV
Here is a new, exclusive teaser for Heart Stealer! This scene is one where Kayla goes over to Randall’s apartment to make a deal for decorating his house and finds him in an unexpected state. This is the first teaser from Kayla’s POV! Hope you enjoy! Click on here: 

About the Author Tiphanie Thomas
Tiphanie Thomas is a Michigan native and former financial analyst. She loved books and writing since a young girl. Visit her at:  Tiphanie shares a little about her journey below:

Born in Jackson, Michigan, my mother taught me to read when I was four. I remember reading to my kindergarten class and living at the library, hence my love of books began. Then when I was thirteen I discovered romance novels (I know, too young to be reading Johanna Lindsey!). But I did, and I’ve been in love ever since.

About sixteen, I was so in awe of romance authors that I dreamed of giving another person the same wonder and happiness that reading gave me. So I started writing and continued reading, falling in love with Susan Elizabeth Philips, Toni Morrison, and Diana Gabaldon. I finished college getting a degree in Accounting. Then, at twenty-five, a story I was dreaming about stuck in my head and wouldn’t let go.

Last year, I completed my first novel about a runaway and a movie star who discover falling in love is just the beginning, and now they must face fears and challenges. I’m so excited to share my dream with the world, and hope that you all enjoy reading it as much as I love creating the book.

Heart Stealer by Tiphanie Thomas
ISBN-10: 1461036003 
ISBN-13: 978-1461036005 
Buy Now: Paperback or Kindle

Twisted by Ni'cola Mitchell
Twisted is the highly anticipated sequel to Over and Over Again.

“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 Official Release Party at The Artisan: Hotel Boutique 

Ni'cola Mitchell  came up with the new title Twisted.

The Appetizer is the direct sequel to my first novel Over and Over Again. Even though all of my stories are connecting, Twisted is centered around my main character Dionni Stone. In Over and Over Again I described Dionni as being charismatic, goal oriented, and very sophisticated. Even though she had everything together on the outside, Dionni was not as successful in the area of love. Her life was in so much turmoil, which in the end of the book sent Dionni on hiatus. 

Several months later, Dionni finds out that her best friend has been beaten, raped, and left for dead which is why Dionni has to come back to Vegas to face her demons. Dionni has a new perspective on life and has come back with a vengeance sporting a new look and attitude. Trying to find out what happened to Tiana,  Dionni is faced with a new set of tribulations that she has to face.

I brought back all of the original characters, including Candy, Dionni’s direct foe, and introduced Rain. A young beautiful woman, who’s main focus, is getting rid of Dionni by any means necessary.  This book is filled with so many twist and turns, that I could not believe that I wrote it. It will also explain the importance of not playing with a person’s heart and emotions. I can’t lie, Candy and Rain are both crazy, but Twisted gives the reader an explanation on how they each became that way. 

BOOK REVIEW: 5 STARS reviewed by Cynthia R. Hooks 
This review is from: Twisted (Paperback) 

With her latest novel, "Twisted," Ni'cola Mitchell drops us head-first back into the drama-filled life of Dionni Stone from "Over and Over Again."  Ms. Dionni Stone has been through some things: heartbreak, betrayal, and now her best friend needs her. But returning home comes with its own set of challenges, and it means a return to face the things that made her move away in the first place. 

In her third novel, Ms. Mitchell has managed to elevate first-person storytelling to an art; each character tells the story from their perspective, but they also get to chime in on the role of the other characters. I thoroughly enjoyed "Twisted," and read it in less than a day. Ni'cola drew me in with her real dialogue, and a cast of characters who seemed like people that I know. Her writing style made me care about Dionni Stone on a personal level. Then Ms. Mitchell wrapped it all in a nice bow at the end. 

For me, "Twisted" was the perfect tale of deception, pain, revenge and unpredictable twists as Dionni finally laid down the law: determined to stand up for her friends, be with her man and, one way or another, make her enemies pay for not taking her seriously in "Over and Over Again." 

Excerpt - Twisted by Ni'cola Mitchell

I removed my Armani Exchange sunglasses and extended my left hand to take a good look at my ring finger. I was in love with my two carat, sky blue diamond, platinum engagement ring that Dale gave me when he proposed to me. 

The ring he gave me just hours before I went on a high speed chase with a damn near empty gas tank through the city of North Las Vegas chasing him and his chick of the moment. The same ring that he gave me before he knew that Ashley, his mistress from the garage was pregnant. The same ring that he gave me despite of the secret love affair that I discovered that him and Eva, my supposedly best friend was entangled in. 

Yea, I was oh so in love with this beautiful ring, that I did not think twice as I stood in line at the small pawnbroker downtown to do the inevitable. 

I was about to pawn it.

That’s right. I walked up to the elderly Middle Eastern woman that stood behind the counter and asked her for her best offer. 

The lady peered at me for a moment over her wire reading glasses, before stepping away to speak to her supervisor. I really was not in the mood for speculations, and I glared right back at her. My hazel colored eyes never blinking. 

I knew that we were in Las Vegas, home of big dreams and huge losses. Land of gambling your rent money away, and spending all night at the neighborhood casino trying to flip it back. The city known for its connection of sin, and the motto of by any means necessary; but this situation was not the case. 

I am far from being hard up for money. I do not harbor any typical addictions such as gambling, drinking, sex or smoking. I did not have to live by the rules of robbing Peter to pay Paul. 

My kryptonite was on a totally different level. My addiction was Dale, and the heartbreak that he proposed on me on so many occasions. Getting rid of this ring was going to be the first step of my road to recovery, and I really didn’t care about what this old lady nor anyone felt or thought about what I was doing. Pawning this ring was in the best interest of me.


Twisted by Ni'cola Mitchell
ISBN-10: 0983346119 
ISBN-13: 978-0983346111 

About Ni'cola Mitchell

Striving to establish a new flair to the term contemporary fiction, author Ni'cola Mitchell entered 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 her debut novel entitled Over and Over Again in June 2009. Following on the heels of her debut book was The Appetizer: When You re Not His Main Course.  Ni' cola's growing readership eagerly awaited her next literary masterpiece Twisted, which was released in December 2010.  

Much of her work revolves around complex relationship issues situations and her compulsive desire to see women over come challenges. Over and Over Again was featured in the top ten by EDC Creations Recommended Reading List  in the Fall 2009,  under Mainstream Fiction and Women's Fiction

Ni'cola Mitchell was nominated Self-Published Author of the Year with the African-African Literary Awards Show. Because of her outstanding representation of Las Vegas African-American community, she was featured in the second edition of Who's Who in Black Las Vegas. She is also a motivational speaker and literary consultant. 

When Ni'cola isn't writing, she loves to spend time with her family and volunteer as a mentor for youth activities. Originally from Kingston, Jamaica, Ni'cola Mitchell currently resides in North Las Vegas, Nevada, with her two daughters, Destani and Diamond. She holds a Bachelors degree of Science in Business Management and is currently pursuing a Masters of Business Administration in HealthCare Management. 

Connect with Ni'cola Mitchell:  | 
Twisted Release Party video footage filmed and edited by David Dorudiani

Intimate Conversation with Renee Bess

A native of Philadelphia and a former teacher, Renee Bess has been writing most of her life...poetry, short fiction, and now novels. In authoring LEAVE OF ABSENCE, BREAKING JAIE, RE: BUILDING SASHA, AND THE BUTTERFLY MOMENTS, Renee has remained committed to writing stories about multi-ethnic characters, timely social themes, romance, intrigue, and mystery. She welcomes a diverse audience of readers to her books and to her website,  

BPM: Tell us about your journey to becoming a successfully published author. Do you have anyone in your life who was influential in your deciding to become an author?
It seems to me that I've been writing for most of my life. A few of my early poems were published in anthologies. In 1994, my short story, "At the Beauty Parlor," won first place in a short fiction contest sponsored by a Philadelphia area feminist newspaper, "Labyrinth." A year or two after that, two of my stories were included in two different Canadian LGBT anthologies. 

During the mid-1990's I began writing what started as a piece of short fiction. I would write in the summers during my breaks from teaching. This particular short story kept growing, chapter by chapter. Before I knew it, I'd written a novel, "Leave of Absence." I self-published it with Borders Personal Publishing. After my second manuscript was rejected by two different publishers, I submitted it to a third, Regal Crest Enterprises. The owner of RCE liked my work and offered me a contract. RCE published BREAKING JAIE along with my third and fourth books.

I credit my parents for influencing my love of the written word. When I was very young, my dad was the bedtime story reader. Whenever he ran out of new story books to read, he would invent his own tales to entertain my sister and me. My mother has either given me a book or a gift voucher from a book store every Christmas of my life.

BPM: Take us inside your latest book. Of the main characters, do you have any favorites?
My latest book, THE BUTTERFLY MOMENTS, began as a traditional romance. Very quickly, it morphed into a romance-with-intrigue. This book is my first foray into writing a murder mystery with romance elements. The murder, which has taken place before the story begins, is based very loosely on the real killing of a high school student who lived not far from me. After that crime occurred, I couldn't drive by the murder scene and the area where her body was abandoned without feeling sadness for the loss of such a promising young person.

In the book, the main characters include Detective Johnetta Jones (a character who is in two other books,) Alana Blue (a Parole officer on the cusp of retirement,) Rafaela Ortiz (a P.O. with a checkered work history,) Nikki and Owen Reid (Alana's homophobic daughter and supportive son-in-law.) 

The murder is the thread that connects these characters. Certainly I have favorites, but I prefer not saying who they are.

BPM: In writing your novels, how do you develop the plot? How much research was required, if any? Do you ever experience writer's block?
From time to time, I do experience writer's block. I find that any kind of stress tends to squelch my creativity.

My characters emerge from my imagination long before I begin to write. Usually it is the characters who lead me to the plot. I know some writers develop elaborate outlines for their books. I haven't used that method so far. I have a sketchy idea of where I want the story to go, but my characters always take themselves through the story arc.

For THE BUTTERFLY MOMENTS  I needed to research a typical day in the work life of a Parole Officer, so I interviewed a neighbor of mine who is a career  Parole Officer.   Prior to writing RE: BUILDING SASHA, I interviewed a cousin of mine who had been a general manager of a construction company. I was curious about the subtle and not so subtle challenges that face a female in such a male dominated field.

BPM: How did you come to create such strong main characters? Did you know from the start that they would be so complex and exciting?
Whenever I write fiction I have three goals: to create fully formed and well described characters, to craft the language with the same precision with which a sculptor would carve a statue, and to tell a story that will encourage the reader to think beyond it. So yes, I intended for the characters to be complex and exciting. I want the reader to wonder what becomes of Johnetta's and Alana's relationship; what does Nikki do with her feelings about her mother's sexuality; where does Rafe land as a consequence of her choices?

BPM: Who do you want to reach with your book, THE BUTTERFLY MOMENTS?
I want to reach as many readers as possible. I've been told that my fiction is not solely for African-American LGBT readers; that the stories have cross-over appeal. I believe that their themes and characters are recognizable to all people, regardless of gender, sexuality and racial/ethnic identity. In a most gentle non-proselytizing way, I welcome all readers.

BPM: What particular scenes from the novel will grab readers and serve to stimulate spirited discussions?
The scenes between Alana and Johnetta and between Alana and Rafe should be thought provoking, especially for the more mature readers who might find themselves somewhere along the continuum spanning rational decision making and do-it-because-it-looks-exciting-and dangerous decision making. And of course, the scene in which the murderer is revealed will grab the readers.

BPM: What has been your most difficult hurdle to leap--marketing, promotions or gaining media exposure?
All three of the above. I am an introvert, a quiet thinker, a ponderer. I live in my head. Getting the word out about my books is much more challenging than writing them. I am grateful for outlets like Black Pearls Magazine, and the interviews I've done on BlogTalkRadio. 

BPM:  Share with us your latest news. How can the readers purchase the book.
I'm pleased that THE BUTTERFLY MOMENTS is short-listed by the Golden Crown Literary Society as a finalist for a Goldie Award in the Romance with Intrigue category. The awards will be announced on June 12th during their annual conference. Your readers can stay abreast of my news by going to my website: 

The Butterfly Moments by S. Renee Bess 
Genre: Romantic intrigue; Audience: All adults/LGBT readers
ISBN-10: 193505337X | ISBN-13: 978-1935053378 
Available for ebook download today on Nook and Kindle
Available at: 

Picture This…A Happily Ever After Story Framed by You!

by Lakia Brandenburg

What is your perception of marriage?  Did you grow up believing that marriages came from a fantasy world of bliss? Did you realize that someone told you a tall tale when you woke up from dreamland? In a true story, Lakia shares her personal journey on redefining how she viewed marriage and the love shared in it. Her perception of marriage was soiled by the fantasy of the wedding day not to mention the many marriages that had “gone bad.” 

But through her very own once upon a time story, she was able to create a picture perfect marriage based on imperfections. Do you desire to have bliss, love, and happiness in your marriage? You no longer have to fantasize about it…you just simply have to create it to be your reality. 

You will discover how:
· Creating your happily ever after marriage can be a reality!
· Perceptions of marriage are flawed due to other peoples’ relationships and experiences.
· Developing a clear purpose for getting married will redefine your own views on marriage.
· To embrace your imperfections and those of your potential spouse to create a picture perfect marriage.

Picture This…A Happily Ever After Story Framed by You!
Excerpt: Perception of Marriage 

For any woman to become a beautiful bride, it has proved to be an overbearing, daunting task. I mean, really, an induction into The Wives Club involves spending six to 12 months (and in some cases two years or more) of metamorphosing into a raving bridezilla. She travels up and down the weight rollercoaster, experiences high levels of stress, and nearly has a nervous breakdown all to plan an overly priced, one-day celebration? 

The bride-to-be flashes her soon-to-be role on a bedazzled top as she plans to create her royal day. There’s so much to do. She has expectations to meet. She perceives her wedding day to be the most important stage in her life.   After making some final decisions on the venue and menu, she then goes three rounds of eliminations to see what lucky individuals will make the final guest list.

In the end, she invites everyone: her childhood friends; associates; distance relatives; all of her coworkers—to lessen the chance of hurting someone’s feelings or leaving them out; friends of the bride and groom’s parents; oh, and the acquaintance she hasn’t spoken to in five years.  All for what?  For her invitees to create a gossip column the moment they tip-toe out to dictate how elegant, how hood-rich, or even to mimic the actual classical story she attempted to re-create?

The perception of “getting married” is truly flawed; nevertheless, I still love weddings. They bring out the most sentimental feelings. They make me feel so sappy inside. It never fails. There’s just something about seeing the spotlight on the bride-to-be and then catching a glimpse at the groom.
It’s priceless. 

For the bride, the pieces of her dream have finally fit together. She strolls down the aisle, with each step getting closer to her posed statue of art. (Regardless if I could sense that the love shared between the two was authentic or if they were tying the knot for convenience, I would still feel genuinely happy for the couple.)

For many, the day that a woman says  “I do” is a great accomplishment. It’s such a joyous occasion to see two people come together to become one. For the bride, she’s making a bold statement in front of an audience of friends, loved ones, and acquaintances that she has found her prince charming. 

In the presence of their invited guests, the engaged couple stares deeply into each others’ eyes. Flashbacks – of the good and trying times that brought them to where they stood on this very day – race through their heads.  For the invitees, they’re witnessing before them the magic of love. But to the pair, spurts of nervousness, doubt, and confusion overshadow their minds. It’s cold feet.

Everyone told them that feeling this way was normal. It was considered totally natural for the bride and groom to entertain a serving or two of these thoughts. But by the time the pastor, in his baritone voice bellowed ... 

“Dearly beloved ...”  the thoughts of uncertainty are quickly swept under the rug – either that or they’re expected to be ignored; at least that’s what the one wearing the glass slipper is thinking. The pastor continues ...

“… we are gathered here today. …”  As the bride closes her eyes for prayer, she remembers this perfect moment envisioned some time ago. She remembers it like it was yesterday:

As she spent time with her girlfriends, she would daydream about this special day. She knew that she wanted to feel like a princess while experiencing all the perks of being a part of a pretend royal court. Thousands of dollars would be spent on the elegant wedding dress that she would wear only once. From her head down to her wrist, she would be draped in her shiny best friends. She would look absolutely stunning. The day would be all about her.  Now, here they stand: He, in a rented white tux. She, in her designer vintage gown. Both, ready to make a vow to live in holy matrimony.

Holy? Like pure before God and separated from all wrongdoing? The handsome couple couldn’t possibly understand what they were promising. Were they really prepared to endure this new life of the unknown? If so, this would discount the unforeseen years of struggling to keep the marriage working, wouldn’t it?

Instead of enlisting in what married veterans considered to be boot camp, they would be enjoying the bliss that the story portrays, right?

But that’s not important right now; we’re at a wedding.


Reprinted by Permission
© 2010 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author's written permission. Copyright infringement is a serious offence. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only. Share a link to this page or the author's website if you really like this sneak peek.

About the Author
Lakia Brandenburg
is an accomplished writer and educator with a heart for love and relationships. She's written for Gospel Today and has freelanced for top national magazines such as Upscale! As an educator, she is devoted to building healthy relationships in and out of the classroom where she teaches and mentors 7th grade boys. Her rapport and unique approach to teaching her “distinguished gentlemen of purpose” earned her a nomination for Teacher of the Year. 

Picture This…A Happily Ever After Story Framed by You
Book available: 
ISBN: 978-0-9837182-0-8  
Non-fiction (Marriage/Relationships)


Intimate Conversation with Jamila D. Smith

Jamila D. Smith was raised in Massachusetts and Indiana. She became inspired to pursue her writing talents during early childhood. Smith has enjoyed creating fictional stories with passion, suspense and action plots. She holds a bachelor's and master's degree in social work and secondary education. Currently, she is pursuing certification in TESOL. Her ultimate goal is to teach English to ESL high school students. 

Smith has previously counseled adolescents and has taught ESL to immigrant adults. She currently teaches Kindergarten and enjoys traveling to the Caribbean, where she loves having jerk chicken and macaroni pie. Jamila D. Smith also loves writing intriguing stories, such as her previous novel, Sprouting Seeds, with twisted, thrilling plots for her readers.

BPM: Tell us about your journey becoming a successfully published author. Do you have anyone in your life that was heavily influential in your deciding to become an author?
My 4th grade teacher inspired me to become an author. She used to assign the class “journal time” every day. Other students would write about their daily activities such as what they did with their families and friends. However, I would create fiction stories with thrilling plots. My teacher used to give feedback such as “good job,” or “great imagination.” After receiving those comments, my confidence grew from there. 

BPM: Did you choose your genre, or did your genre choose you? 
I chose my genre, writing books for YA readers. I’ve always enjoyed reading fictional stories. They have always fascinated me. When I was a teen I used to want to read stories that appealed to the youth, but I never found any that I could relate to. Once I became a young adult, I became inspired to write those types of stories for today’s teens.

BPM: What is your definition of success? 
My definition of success is reaching to your highest potential. Success is when you have established and reached all or most of your goals. 

BPM: Success leaves clues, whose clues did you follow on your journey?
I followed my mother’s clues. She has taught me to work hard and to never give up. I learned from this motive by observing my mother as she raised me.

BPM: What have you realized about yourself since becoming a published author?
I realized that writing is a precious, important gift. It takes a special person to recognize it within someone who has that potential. Now that I’m a writer I have the gift to see it in other potential, young writers and I want to help motivate them.

BPM: What are some of the benefits of being an author that makes it all worthwhile?
Being an author gives me the opportunity to recognize this gift in other people. I like to see children develop their personal strengths. It’s really fascinating when a child has such potential. Once I recognize a child with excellent language skills, I immediately want to challenge him and help encourage him to develop these skills.

BPM: Do you have any advice for people seeking to publish a book?
My advice is to go with your gut. If you hear a voice or have a feeling that’s telling you to develop your talent, do something with it immediately, don’t just sit on it. Otherwise, the world will never have the opportunity to see your blessing or become blessed from it.

BPM: If you were not a writer, what would you be? What are you passionate about, besides writing books?
If I were not a writer, I would continue to work as a teacher. Besides writing books, I’m passionate about traveling and helping children in other countries. I love to meet families from other cultures. I could see myself teaching language arts to children here in the US, or English as a Second Language (ESL) to students overseas.

BPM: A Legacy is something that is handed down from one period of time to another period of time. Finish this sentence- “My writing offers the following legacy to future readers...”
My writing offers the following legacy to future readers...It offers insight to those who need coaching with discovering and pursuing their personal talent. My writing also provides intriguing plots to readers who may have a story that has never been told or a plot they can personally relate with.

When I was a teen I was always encouraged to pursue my writing, but I was nervous about it. This phase was a huge stepping stone for me. But eventually as I matured, one of my friends coached me and said that I would be holding myself back if I did not pursue this talent. So eventually, I took a risk and I never regretted it.

Prior to becoming an author, I worked as a social worker with children and families, the elderly and chemically dependent clients. I also served disabled adults. Then I took a career change and decided to work with special education and English as a Second Language (ESL) children. Today, I am currently pursuing the ESL profession. 


Become Yourself by Electa Rome Parks

“Ordinary, brown braided woman with big legs and full lips, become yourself.”


Wow! The first time I heard Phylicia Rashad’s character speak those words with her gravely, powerful voice that demands attention, speaking straight, no chaser, from her soul. . . from a place of knowing, from a spiritual realm in the For Colored Girls trailer. . . I literally experienced chills up and down my spine as if they were saying, pay attention. This is a lesson in life. 
I was speechless, mesmerized and empowered to action. Two little words.

Become yourself.
I have been trying to accomplish that task my entire life. You hear me, my whole life. That has become my subconscious quest and divine mission. Only in recent years has it become my mantra, repeating it over, again and again in my head. I embrace it with a depth and passion as my own.

I desire to be the best mother, wife, sister, daughter, aunt, friend. . . person. . . that I can be. I owe it to myself and I owe it to those around me, the ones I touch with my spirit on my path to discovery and wisdom.

Become yourself.
Something supernatural screams directly to my soul, with a mind of its own, challenging me to make a difference. A positive difference. Life is too precious to live and pass through in the blink of any eye, and nothing has changed. That is simply not acceptable. You were simply a blink when you should have been a bang. The world should be a better place simply because you were here.

Words, especially robust, passionate ones spoken from a place of wisdom, a place of knowing. . . words that speak to strength and coming into one’s rightful self. . . they wrap me cocoon-like in colorful, vibrant silks as they caress my mental palette and stroke my very soul with the possibilities. Something primal, from generations after generations gone by, remembers who I am suppose to be. And I embrace it because I recognize its power.

Become yourself.
I want to embrace my essence, live up to my fullest potential and beyond. Each year of my life, I’m changing, growing, and evolving. That’s a good thing. I’ve come to realize there is power in my words. They touch people. They make people feel. My words incite emotion. A higher power has lovingly bestowed that gift upon me and I gladly accept it and all the responsibilities that go with it. Find yourself so that you can become.

Become yourself.
What a beautiful world we would live in if we all did as much. We could create a world of miracles and harmony. A utopia. Yes, such simple words, but oh, how powerful upon closer examination, scrutiny and understanding.

I have a glorious destiny to live out, so do you. Become the beautiful spirit you were meant to be. . . you don’t have to be extraordinary, you can be ordinary, brown-braided. . . simply look within.

Become Yourself.

About the Author
Electa Rome Parks lives outside Atlanta, Georgia and is the best-selling author of six acclaimed novels, The Ties That Bind, Loose Ends, Almost Doesn't Count, Ladies' Night Out, These Are My Confessions (anthology) and Diary of a Stalker. Dubbed a "book club favorite," avid readers have embraced Electa's true to life characters that tackle prevalent and heavy hitting issues that take them on an emotional roller coaster.  The self-proclaimed Queen of Real, Electa has been a frequent guest on radio shows, nominated for many industry awards and interviewed by numerous newspapers and national magazines. Electa is currently following her passion and working on her next novel and first screenplay.


Let’s Talk About SEX…
by Trice Hickman

When women think about their physical health, I’m not sure that most think about their sexual health, which is just as important to one’s overall well-being. Sex is good for you!   Indulging on a regular basis, at least twice a week, is even better. Research links sex to an array of physiological benefits, from longevity to pain relief. 

Many studies don't address whether the health bonus comes from the act itself or from the corresponding emotional intimacy, but the bottom line is that getting physical has some great side effects—especially for women, that include; less frequent colds and flu, reduced depression, increased energy levels, weight loss, and overall improved fitness.

Yes, sex is an important part of life, physically and emotionally. Here is some information and tips that can help you get the most out your sex life. Oh, and one very important thing...always practice safe sex!

Sex with your partner
It’s important to communicate your sexual needs to your partner. Be gentle, but direct. Remember that sex occurs between the ears, not the legs. Tell your partner what you want and how you like it, then be willing to give the same in return. And ladies, please, please don’t fake an orgasm! It’s non-productive and counter intuitive to the mission at hand. 

All that panting and moaning will get you nowhere because the next time you’re making love he’ll do the exact same thing (that you really don’t like), believing he’s hit your sweet spot when he has actually struck out at the mound. Moan when it feels good, and when it doesn’t, gently instruct him by guiding his hands to where you want them to be. But don’t make him do all the work either. Lift your hips to meet his thrusts, or straddle him (this is an optimal position for women) and rock back and forth on top of him so that your vagina and clitoris receive stimulation at the same time. You’ll both appreciate the pleasure of giving and receiving. 

Make it relaxing
Have your partner give you a yoni massage (the best massage ever!). Yoni is the Sanskrit word for vagina and is loosely translated as “sacred space” or “sacred temple”. This vaginal massage should be performed in a slow, deliberate, and controlled manner. It is intended to relax and pleasure both the giver and the receiver. 

Okay, I’m going to get detailed so you’ll know exactly what this massage entails and how to do it properly.... Start with scented or edible oils and have your partner pour a small amount on the mound of your yoni, just enough so that it drips down the outer lips and covers the outside of your vagina. He should gently squeeze your well lubricated outer lips between his thumb and index finger, sliding up and down the entire length of each lip, then do the same to the inner lips. Next, he should insert his middle finger into the center of your yoni, massaging in a counter clockwise position, starting at twelve o’clock, shifting over to nine o’clock, gently easing down to six, then moving on to the three o’clock position. 

Once there, he should slowly straighten out his finger, repositioning it as he works back up to the twelve o’clock position. Make sure he takes his time. During the massage you should look into each other's eyes as much as possible, as this connects you and intensifies the pleasure. Once you’ve been sufficiently relaxed give him a lingam massage. Lingam is the Sanskrit word for penis, and is loosely translated as “wand of light”. 

Again, use scented or edible oil and gently massage his testicles and the area above the penis, on the pubic bone. Also, massage the area between the testicles and anus. The thumb or index finger work well for this type of stimulation. Move on to the shaft and the head, and ladies, take your time with this. Vary your speed and pressure, gently squeezing the penis at the base with your well-oiled hand as you carefully pull up and slide off. Repeat this move several times, using the same gentleness as if you were messaging your own flesh. By the time you two are finished rubbing and touching you’ll be ready for just about anything! 




Meet Literary Leader Linda A. Duggins

Linda A. Duggins is the Director of Multicultural Publicity at Hachette Book Group, USA. Terrie Williams, Teri Woods, Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Nalo Hopkinson are among the many great authors represented by Duggins at Hachette. She earned her MBA in Media Management from Metropolitan College of New York in January 2005.

As Co-founder of the Harlem Book Fair, she has helped to create a nationally recognized venue that promotes literacy and literary expressions with writers of the Diaspora. An avid booklover, she is the Co-leader of the African Diaspora Literary Group in New York City. 

Linda represents the Board of Directors of the Caribbean International Literary Festival, held in Antigua, as well as the Board of Directors of the Queensbridge Scholarship Fund, serving college bound students in the Queensbridge and Ravenswood housing developments. 

Founder of the Caribbean Women's Literary Celebration held in March of each year. In celebration of women's history month five women writers of Caribbean descent discuss the voice and role of Caribbean women on the page and live and in living color at the historic Enoch Pratt Library in Baltimore, MD.

Linda is also on the Board of Directors of the National Book Club Conference, based in Atlanta, GA, whose mission is to advance literacy and knowledge through reading and dialogue. You can view her full list of culture contributions, here. Linda is someone readers and authors should get to know!


Intimate Conversation with Sarita Mandanna

Sarita Mandanna is from Coorg, the stunning setting of Tiger Hills. Often described as the ‘Scotland of India’, beautiful Coorg is famous for its hills and coffee plantations, and Sarita’s family traces roots here for centuries.

Sarita has an MBA from Wharton, and was a private equity investor in New York before moving to Toronto in 2010.Tiger Hills is her debut novel. Long-listed for the 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize, it is being translated into 14 languages world-wide.

BPM: What makes you powerful as a person and a writer? 
Determination. Each of us has it within ourselves to realize our passions. Writing Tiger Hills was an act of obsession for me. It took five years, working on the “night shift” – 11 PM through 3 or 4AM virtually every day, while working during the day as a private equity investor. The only thing that kept me going was the determination to finish the story and to tell it in the best possible way I knew how. 

BPM: What compelled you to write your book, Tiger Hills?
I began writing about 7 years ago, after a particularly trying week at work. Wanting to do something entirely different and non-numbers driven for a change, I came home, booted up my laptop and began to write. Those initial paragraphs became a short story, and I found that I enjoyed that process so much that I wrote six more. That was the start, to jumping off the deep end and trying my hand at a novel. 

BPM: Sarita introduce us to your book, Tiger Hills and the main characters. 
Tiger Hills is a multi-generational epic spanning the years between 1878 through after WWII. As the first girl to be born to the Nachimandas in over sixty years, beautiful, spirited Devi is adored by her entire family. She befriends Devanna, a gifted young boy whose mother has died in tragic circumstances. 

The two quickly become inseparable, 'like two eggs in a nest', as they grow up amidst the jungles, rolling hills, and rich coffee plantations of Coorg in Southern India; cocooned by an extended family whose roots have been sunk in the land for hundreds of years. Their futures seem inevitably linked, but everything changes when, one night, they attend a 'tiger wedding'. It is there that Devi gets her first glimpse of Machu, Devanna’s cousin, a celebrated tiger killer and a hunter of great repute. It is the tangled relationships between these three that sow the seeds of a heartbreaking tragedy that has consequences for the generations to come. 

BPM:  Are your characters from the portrayal of real people? Tell us your favorites.
As a writer, I have a soft spot for all the characters, I have to admit. Every character in Tiger Hills has good and bad to them, just as all of us do. There is strength, there is weakness, there is love, there is obsession, there are crossroads faced and decisions taken, both sound and questionable.

The characters are fictional in the aggregate. Being from Coorg, and with a significant amount of family still there, I was concerned that I would end up ruffling feathers, however inadvertently, were my characters to mirror actual people or their lives! Having said that, there are bits and pieces of each of the characters that are rooted in reality.

Devi for instance. Her inner fortitude is based on the women in my family – the most gently, softly spoken souls imaginable, but each possessing a backbone of steel. My paternal great- grandmother for example, was widowed very young. She brought up her children single-handedly, all the while managing the family property. They say she would stalk up and down her fields alone, a dagger tucked into her sari for protection!

BPM: Who do you want to reach with your book, Tiger Hills ?
While Coorg forms the highly personalized canvas of Tiger Hills, I wanted to write a universal story that would resonate with every reader. Tiger Hills is almost classical in structure – a large, old-fashioned narrative, whose characters struggle with universal themes. What do we do when thrust into circumstances not of our choosing? Tiger Hills explores the nexus between fortitude and acceptance, the choices we make in the aftermath of happenstance and the far-reaching impact they can carry. Determined not to be victimized, Devi fights for happiness the best she can. She isn’t always easy to like and makes some decisions that are far from right. And yet, who was truly the victim and who the aggressor? 

As she forges a life for herself within the parameters decided for her, Devi hardens. To such an extent however, that she becomes wedded to a version of happiness too rooted in memory to ever become real. When is it best to let go, to seek happiness along new roads, even those previously discounted? 

Devi’s story lies at the core of Tiger Hills, but it is the other stories, unvoiced, like a dried flower lying pressed within the pages of a book, that form its undercurrent. A missionary, searching for something he cannot express; an orphan, single minded in his devotion; a boy, marked by both the mother who leaves him to the care of another as well as the legend of a father barely remembered. Different interpretations of love – obsessive, possessive, filial; the ways we wield them to undo one another, the suffering we invite upon those we hold dearest. 

Finally, redemption. Tiger Hills is an exploration of our all too human need to come full circle, for reconciliation; and the idea that often, it lies well within our grasp.

BPM: Share with us a quote from one of the most powerful chapters.
A paragraph that encapsulates the philosophy behind Tiger Hills is: “Hurt accumulates. Unless consciously cast aside, it accumulates, building on itself. Hardening, thickening, gouging our hearts apart. We try at first to pick at the scabs, to render ourselves as untainted and innocent as we once were. Over time, though, it becomes too difficult. This forced unbandaging, this revisiting of painful memory. Easier to lock it away, unseen, unspoken. To haul it about like an invisible stone about our necks. We leave our wounds alone. Layer by layer our scars thicken, until one day we awaken and find ourselves irrevocably hardened. Rooted in a keloidal past while the world has passed on by. 

To let go of hurt, to cast bitterness aside. This is the only way forward. To cast aside the pain and allow hope a chance once more. We drift through time, sometimes in shadow, sometimes blistering under the sun, laying ourselves open to the skies. Until, inevitably, we begin to heal, the lips of our wounds coming slowly together. We fill with light, with grace, capable once more of opening our hearts, of letting someone in. The breeze catching our wings once more."

BPM: Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book?
A key theme in Tiger Hills is that our stories don’t always play out like we wish them too. What do you do when your dreams do not come true? We are often placed in circumstances not of our choosing, but I do believe that we still have a choice when it comes to reacting to those circumstances. Time spent in bitterness and regret is time lost forever. No matter what, we can still choose happiness; we can still find happiness. A happiness different in shape and form than what we had perhaps imagined, but if we look hard enough, there is happiness to be found even in roads previously discounted. 

BPM: Share with us your latest news, awards or upcoming book releases. 
Tiger Hills is being released in 18 countries worldwide. It has been selected as one of the 10 Best Reads by the 2011 TV Book Club in the UK, and is long-listed for the 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize. 

BPM: How can our readers reach you online? 
I have a Facebook page: 

Thanks for such a great interview!

Intimate Conversation with Tanya Wright

Tanya Wright plays the role of Deputy Kenya Jones on HBO's TRUE BLOOD. 
BUTTERFLY RISING, was deemed one of the 'five finest debut novels of 2010' by the prestigious Brooklyn Book Festival and was written, directed by and stars Wright. She was a semi-finalist in the Nicholl's Screenwriting Competition, administered by AMPAS (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) and a fellow at the Mark Taper's Blacksmyth's Playwrighting Program. Wright is the creator of several feature film screenplays and television pilots in various stages of development. 

BPM: Who are your mentors? Where do you find your inspiration? 
There are many people to whom I can go to and ask for advice. It is important for artists to have mentors because the path of the creator is a sometimes lonely-- and often humble-- journey. It is important to stay connected. I remind myself of that often, because I have a tendency to go straight-hermit! I admire people like Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry—they've been able to succeed out the box in a BIG way. I admire people with courage, with vision. They don't necessarily have to be famous people, either. Anyone making bold life choices and aren't content to settle with mediocrity. Folks who push the boundaries, ask questions, poke around to find THE TRUTH-- which is sometimes hidden under a whole lot of other...stuff.

BPM: What situation or revelation prompted you to write your book? 
There were many: first, the death of my young brother was a catalyst. Grief and death makes you question your own mortality, makes you ask yourself, if I die tomorrow, did I do all I could? I always wanted to put my writing more in the forefront of my life. The director John Singleton told me many years ago I would have little control over my destiny as an actor, but I would have more control as a writer-- I've found that to be true. 

Also, Aretha Franklin's music was a major catalyst in the writing of BUTTERFLY RISING. She writes great stories about love, loss and pain that all women can relate to. And, lastly, butterflies were, literally, an inspiration. At one point in my life, I was obsessed with them and I began to do research about them on the internet. They evolved as a symbol of TRANSFORMATION-- I felt like I was transforming, like I was changing-- and so are Rose and Lilah.

BPM: Introduce us to your book, Butterfly Rising and the main characters. 
Butterfly Rising is the story of two women—Rose Johnson (the town seductress) and Lilah Belle (a grief-stricken singer) who become friends. In order to beat a hasty retreat out of town, they steal a vintage truck and set out on the open road to meet a mystical medicine man named Lazarus of the Butterflies.

BPM:  Are your characters from the portrayal of real people? Favorites?
Ha! That's like having children and asked which one of them is your favorite! I love them all-- people ask me who I most identify with. The truth is, I am all of them and I am none of them. Every writer, I think, has to have a visceral connection to the characters they create. Even if you don't agree or like their actions, it's important that you have no judgment about them. My job is to show people WHY folks sometimes do the things that they do and, hopefully, we can develop some compassion for the people in our OWN lives-- their pain, struggles, trials and joys. And, in turn, we can have some compassion-- and forgiveness-- for our own transgressions.

BPM: Take us inside the book. What are two major events taking place? 
One major event is where Rose and Lilah meet Lazarus for the first time. Lilah describes her heart “bursting open like a watermelon on a hot summer's day.” The fated encounter between the girls and the strange, ethereal medicine man is a wordless exchange, but nonetheless very healing for them. Another major event is what happens to Daniel when Rose finds out she is finally pregnant with his baby. Something shocking. I was even surprised when I was writing this, I had no idea this would happen to Daniel, but it does. Daniel is probably one of the most beloved characters in the book and the movie. I don't want to give anything away by saying what happens to him, but it is definitely shocking and surprising. That is all.

BPM: Who do you want to reach with Butterfly Rising
People who have lost hope and the faith to dream; people who are fascinated by the possibilities of things; women; men; folks interested in the spirit world, awakening and transformation-- like the butterfly...

BPM: How will reading Butterfly Rising  shape the readers lives? 
Well, the thing I am most excited about is that people tell me they have dog-eared certain passages of the book, that they come back to them, re-read them and then reflect. I am happy that I have written a book that is not only entertaining, but could be useful to people in their lives. I am very happy about that. 

BPM: What are some of the  issues or problems addressed in this book? 
It takes a very close look at the meaning and application of FAITH in our lives. I think faith is a hard thing to sustain in this world, but it MUST BE SUSTAINED, if you are to complete anything at all. We could all use a little more faith. It's an uncomfortable concept, stepping out on ground you can't see but only feel! But this is the first step to realizing the life of our dreams. And it must be sustained without regard to fear, what you see, what other people tell you. It must be unshakable, unmovable. 

BPM: Share with us a quote from one of the most powerful chapters. 
“Faith ain't gone nowhere. It's just up under all that stuff where you can't see it. Doesn't mean it ain't there.”

BPM: Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book? 
To BELIEVE, and that they DO have the power to create their own reality in this life. 

BPM: What makes your book different from others on the same subject? 
There are many great book written by great authors. I don't know. I am interested in telling THE TRUTH in my writing-- no matter what it seems like to anyone else—in a way that's never been done before.

BPM: Share with us your latest news  or upcoming book releases. 
The book was deemed 'one of the five finest debut novels' by the Brooklyn Book Festival. I have a few films coming out; a full length feature I shot in Boston called BEYOND CONTROL and a short called MISSION CRITICAL in which I play the lead role. 

I am REALLY EXCITED to announce a fun new CONTEST ON the BUTTERFLY RISING FACEBOOK PAGE! I will help ONE LUCKY WINNER FULFILL THEIR CREATIVE DREAM!!! I am very excited to do this. To learn more and enter, join us on Facebook!
BPM: How can our readers reach you online? 
I love to connect with my readers! Please drop a line! These are the best ways to be in touch:   Twitter: @tanyaTTwright  (for quick, fun, bite sized communication)

Website:  (for info on the book and movie)

Facebook: (contests, ongoing dialogue. Probably best of all)  

Intimate Conversation with Jasmin Darznik

Jasmin Darznik was born in Tehran, Iran. A former attorney, she received her Ph.D. from Princeton University. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and other publications. She is a professor of English at Washington and Lee University and has also been a visiting professor of Iranian literature at the University of Virginia. THE GOOD DAUGHTER is her first book and will be published in twelve countries.

Book Spotlight--The Good Daughter: A Memoir of My Mother’s Hidden Life
Quote from book:   We were a world of two, my mother and I, until I started turning into an American girl. That's when she began telling me about The Good Daughter. It became a taunt, a warning, an omen.

Jasmin Darznik came to America from Iran when she was only three years old, and she grew up knowing very little about her family's history. When she was in her early twenties, on a day shortly following her father's death, Jasmin was helping her mother move; a photograph fell from a stack of old letters. The girl pictured was her mother. She was wearing a wedding veil, and at her side stood a man whom Jasmin had never seen before.  In this sweeping, poignant, and beautifully written memoir, Jasmin weaves the stories of three generations of Iranian women into a unique tale of one family's struggle for freedom and understanding. The result is an enchanting and unforgettable story of secrets, betrayal, and the unbreakable mother-daughter bond.

BPM:  Welcome Jasmin!  This wonderful story all started when you found an old photograph of your mother as a very young bride. The man beside her was not your father. That must have been a life changing moment for you.
Absolutely. Apart from the shock of learning she’d been married before, it was as if I was encountering a different woman altogether. The mother I knew was fierce, strong, and utterly unsentimental. She used to tell me that if I didn’t behave, if I became an “American girl,” she’d go back to her “Good Daughter” in Iran. As a child I’d felt confused and ashamed of her strict foreign ways, and as a young woman I resented her for them. 

By the time I found the photograph, I’d almost completely broken off my relationship with her. I’d left home and I had no interest in going back to what I thought of as “her” Iranian world. But here, suddenly, was proof of a life she had totally hidden from me. Who was this man and why hadn’t she told me about their marriage? I couldn’t push these questions from my mind. And for a long time I just could not square the mother I remembered with the vulnerable child bride staring back at me from that picture.

BPM: At first, she refused to share any information with you, but months later, she made a series of cassette tapes in which she revealed that she had not only been married before but had also been forced to abandon her firstborn daughter in order to escape a life of neglect and abuse. What was it like for you to learn that?
I was floored. For me, learning the truth about my mother completely upended my understanding of my family’s past. I’d always assumed the 1979 Iranian revolution was the reason we left Iran for America. The revolution was definitely part of why we’d left, but now I understand that the reasons were at once more painful, intimate and far more cannily obscured than I ever imagined. 

Not only had she kept her marriage and divorce a secret, but apart from what I thought of as this totally fictional “Good Daughter,” she’d also kept a sister secret from me. I felt confused and also deeply betrayed, but the revelation of her secret marked the beginning of knowing her more fully and more compassionately. As a teenager and young woman I had bitterly resented her protectiveness, but I understand now that the surrender of her first daughter totally shaped—I’d even say warped—her love for me. 

But while my mother’s secret was a shocking one, I think many of us go through a version of this story. We think we know our mothers only to realize, years later, how very little we in fact understand about their lives. Sometimes, if we’re lucky, we make up the difference later on.

BPM: Why did your mother keep her past a secret for so long?
In Iran a divorcee has traditionally been regarded not much better than a prostitute. My mother was married at the age of 13. Her marriage was an abusive one, but she had no legal right to seek a divorce on her own. What’s more, her father would only petition for a divorce on her behalf on the condition that she never see her child again.

This was, sadly, a common story for Iranian women of her time. Divorces were exceedingly rare and when couples divorced, the children almost always went to their fathers. This means generations of Iranian women have been faced with near-certainty of surrendering their children if they do the already quite unthinkable and divorce their husbands. 

In my mother’s case, she was not only forced to surrender her child but also urged to completely forget her. Her family thought a complete break would be best both her and her child. But it’s almost impossible to ask a mother to forget her child. Even though my mother created a remarkable, independent life for herself after her divorce, she never fully recovered from giving up her child. Nor did her daughter ever recover from the experience. 

BPM: Is that kind of situation changing in Iran?
Iran has undergone stunning transformations in the last century, and nowhere do those transformations seem more striking than in the lives of the country’s women. The last shah of Iran initiated a so-called “White Revolution” in the1960s that completely overhauled Iran’s family law system. Women gained the right to divorce, to retain custody of their children, and to receive spousal and child support. 

These laws were repealed in the 1980s under the Islamic regime. Although the current marriage law system is perhaps not as biased against women as it was in my mother’s era, I do think that many of the cultural attitudes toward divorced women have survived. And not just in Iran but also in the Iranian-American community. That’s why I think she chose not to tell even her closest friends here she had been divorced--the shame has been that strong.

BPM: Why did you decide to write your mother’s story in the form of a book?
This book has been, on the one hand, a deeply personal inquiry--an attempt to know a past my mother had hidden from me--but also a way of understanding Iran better. Having left the country as a young child, Iran itself had become quite “hidden” to me. Researching and writing this book gave me a view of Iran beyond the media representations of the country and also the nostalgic haze of exile. The result is a story I believe has never been told before. It’s an unflinching account of divorce, domestic abuse, and alcoholism--taboo subjects in Iranian culture and in Iranian literature as well--but it's also a story about the fortitude and ingenuity of Iran’s women.

BPM: How much of the THE GOOD DAUGHTER was based on the tapes your mother recorded for you? 
The basic story and the overarching framework come directly from the ten cassettes tapes she made for me. For instance, I start each chapter with words my mother actually said on the tapes. This is because I wanted the reader to “hear” her voice, to know her as a storyteller. But the details of the story came much later--and were also much harder to come by!

For the better part of a year I’d show up at her house three or four times a week with a pen and a notebook. She’d pour us some tea and we’d go to work on the story of her life. Some days she could be maddeningly evasive, but for the most part she was honest and generous beyond my every expectation. 

I spent another year researching and writing the book. Because I wanted to capture for a reader the sights and sounds and smells of Iran, during this time I lived in a kind of Iranian world of my own making. I spoke Persian, I ate Persian, and so on. Of course, I also read every book on 20th century Iran, fiction and creative nonfiction, English and Persian, that I could get my hands on. Looking back, I think the experience of writing THE GOOD DAUGHTER was as close to Iran as I have been since living there as a very young child. It was a homecoming of a kind.

BPM: What does your mother think about the book?
There are times, even now, when she’ll howl, “Stop the presses!” These are secrets that even her closest friends do not know, so you can imagine her trepidation at having them told in such a public manner. She’s always had a tremendous fear that people would judge her for leaving her daughter, even though she had little choice, if any, at the time. And yet, in some ways, I think it’s easier for her to have her secrets told in this way, mediated through my voice for a largely non-Iranian audience. In the book I write about “an intimacy that’s possible only among strangers.” I think it’s the distance--of time but also between cultures--that has made it possible for her let her story be told.

BPM: Your sister,  Sara “The Good Daughter”  is still living in Iran. Is it possible to have contact with her?
The final tape revealed that Sara—The Good Daughter—was still living in Iran. I have had some contact with her in the years since I found the photograph and listened to my mother’s tapes. Sara’s story is an amazing, complex, and exceedingly painful one. In some ways, this memoir is written to her from what still feels like an impossible divide between Iran and America. I do hope to find a way to visit her in Iran and to write that story as well. For now, though, I think of THE GOOD DAUGHTER as the beginning of her story and ours. 

THE GOOD DAUGHTER: A Memoir of My Mother’s Hidden Life 
by Jasmin Darznik

Purchase your copy today!
ISBN-13: 9780446534970
Author's Website: 


Bride and Groom Money Talk FAQ
by Dr. Taffy Wagner, CEPF

Watch the video book trailer 

Bride and Groom Money Talk FAQ  answers over 70 questions about money before marriage for brides and grooms. This book addresses how to talk about money, who should manage marital finances,  how to handle a future spouse bringing debt into the marriage and much more. 

This book can be purchased by brides and grooms as well as family, friends or anyone in the wedding party to be given as a gift. 

Bride and Groom Money Talk FAQ  can be used by engaged couples, newlyweds or even couples that are married for some time.  It is a much needed resource in the wedding industry.  The book is available for purchase on Dr. Taffy Wagner's website at: 

Genre:  Relationships/Marriage;   ISBN:  978-0976742197.   
Not available on Kindle or Nook. Author’s Website: 

Taffy W. Wagner remembers writing her life story when she was in Junior High School. It was more of a class
project that she enjoyed. Throughout high school and her military enlistment she always kept a journal. Every now and again she wrote poems for family members, friends and on special occasions.  Once in her doctoral program, she began writing more in depth due to the numerous papers she wrote.  As a matter of fact, her professors recommended that she turn her papers into book. Within months of completing her degree, her first book, Debt Dilemma was on the scene. 

Please consider giving this book as a wedding gift to the bride or groom in your life. Visit her website at

Women Rock by Electa Rome Parks

If I had the opportunity to live my life over, I would like to come back as a woman, again, without hesitation. That's a fact. I adore being a woman and all that entails. Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou sums it up beautifully.

It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman

I think women are the most powerful, special and divine creatures on earth and some of the best and meaningful times of my life have been spent in the company of my sister friends.

There is nothing quite like the society of womanhood that nurtures, protects, grooms and loves with so much passion and distinction. 

I am who I am and what I am today because of life lessons learned at the knees of my mother, aunts and female cousins. I am a strong, resilient, independent and self-sufficient woman because of them. I pray that someday someone will be able to say the same of me.

Over the years, I have developed friendships with a small number of girlfriends that will last a lifetime. I love them like a sister and they love me back even when we get on each other's nerves. However, that's the beauty of it all. They have been there for me through thick and thin, flowing tears of joy and sadness, wonderful triumphs and devastating tragedy. My best girlfriends have comforted me during the death of my mother, celebrated my marriage and rejoiced in the birth of my children. There is so much history and that means everything to me…they know me as well as I know myself.

Girl talk over the phone that lasts for hours, unbridled laughter and gossip over drinks and dinner, making a six-hour road trip just because I asked, checking in on me when I'm not feeling well, supporting my dreams as if they are their own.  

There is truly something spectacular that encompasses a genuine circle of women. There is magic and power in their midst that rises up and transforms.

Not too long ago, I recall reading a short passage via the Internet; someone forwarded it to me. It focused on advice an elderly grandmother gave to her only granddaughter the night before her big wedding. She calmly and cautiously told her granddaughter no matter what happened in life, never let go of her friends. The young, soon to be bride reflected on how much she adored her future husband and how she couldn’t wait to have his children; he was all she needed in her life. Then the grandmother wisely explained: Husbands may come and go, children grow up and take on lives of their own, but friendship, true friendship, is everlasting. Cling to it. 

Sure enough, years later, the granddaughter and her husband had divorced, the children had graduated from college with careers and families of their own, but the granddaughter had adhered to her grandmother’s advice and clung to her friends. They, her friends, were still there. . . through it all.

In my newest release, True Confessions, readers will appreciate the genuine ‘best friends forever’ friendship of Kennedy and Taylor. They are two friends who have each other’s back through thick and thin. There is a genuine love and solid bond that has existed since their college days and has transcended beyond being simply friends, they are family. Neither is perfect and they both come with their childhood baggage, but their friendship is an anchor that is solid.

I'll say it again, from the bottom of my heart, women rock!

Connect with Electa Rome Parks online:

Author Blog: 


Escaping From The Misery In My Relationship
by JoAnne Williams

What do you do when you all of a sudden wake up one day and realize that you have remained in a worthless, unhappy, failing relationship for far too long? And you now begin to ponder the question of how can I escape from this madness. When you’ve asked yourself this question time and time again, you should begin to prepare yourself for exiting that relationship. Sometimes we allow that deep emotion of LOVE that we feel; to keep us clinging onto and remaining in, bad relationships. One should never love too deeply to the point where you accept bad behavior from your significant other for an extended period of time. 

More often than not, we don’t equip ourselves with the necessary tools that will assist us when we have decided to exit out of a worthless/unhappy/failing relationship. Know that the emotion of love does not mean that you should allow yourself to be held captive in a relationship that you are so desperately trying to escape from. Know that you can still be in love with your significant other even though you have made the decision to exit out of the relationship.

Also know that being alone and uncommitted, is not the worst possible place you can be. Know that there is somebody else out there who will love you and respect you for who you are. Know that you DO have the capability of surviving in the world without being attached to someone that brings constant emotional turmoil to your life. 

Learn how to master the skills of being able to close the door on a worthless, failing, or unhappy relationship without looking back.   

Learn how to say NO to that revolving door of misery.   If you are in a worthless or unhappy relationship; and you are looking for an exit out of that worthless/unhappy relationship, just convince yourself with every fiber of your being that this is not where you should be. And then start executing the actions towards your ESCAPE!

Escaping from the Victim or Volunteer Role in Your Relationship takes a harsh look into why some relationships fail. In this no holds barred book, you will discover why some women are afraid to exit from their worthless, failing, or unhappy relationship. And you will also learn what you can do to move on. So hold onto your seat because the ride is going to be SHAKY! 

I was inspired to write this book as a result of some of the issues that I see in primarily in the African American community. Essentially, the issues that my book speaks to are relative to young black females, who oftentimes make one bad decision, right after the other. This book also speaks to the young women who constantly bear and give birth to children as though they are accessories. And they do so without realizing the broad spectrum of their decision which will force these children to grow up in poverty. Oftentimes, these young girls don’t realize that having children (multiple children) at a very young age greatly diminishes any aspirations they may have had to go to college, to become productive members of society, etc. 

When I look at some of these young ladies (older women as well) it pains me in that from the outside looking in, I can realize the difficult challenges they face simply because they made an uneducated decision that will grossly affect their lives going forward. And we all know that some of the decisions we make as adolescents, if they are good, bad or indifferent, can follow us through to our ADULT life. 

I strongly feel that a great deal many women are not aware of what tools are required in their arsenal that will help them navigate through life with relative ease. I also speak LOUDLY (in the book) about the benefits of having BOUNDARIES in every aspect of one’s life. Having boundaries is a useful tool in that it greatly assists people in making better decisions in life. I say this because if you attempt to navigate your journey through life without any established set of boundaries, then ultimately you will encounter situations where you simply will not know how to respond and then you’ll be forced to make it up as you go along! The absence of boundaries, places you in the category alongside other people, who will in all probability, exhibit bad behavior, or allow other people to exhibit bad behavior towards you.

About the Columnist:
JoAnne Williams
is a self-published author of a book titled: ESCAPING FROM THE VICTIM OR VOLUNTEER ROLE YOUR RELATIONSHIP. She currently resides In Bayonne New Jersey. At the age of 53, she decided to write this book for the purpose of helping to empower women with the tools they need in order to have and maintain a happy, healthy relationship. She has written several articles for Biblioscribe and Self Growth Magazines.

JoAnne Williams, author: Escaping from the Victim or Volunteer Role in Your Relationship 
Website:  http://  ;   Email address : 

Escaping from the Victim or Volunteer Role in Your Relationship
ISBN-10: 0615432638 | ISBN-13: 978-0615432632 

4-Star Amazon Book Review by Cheryl Hayes, APOOO BookClub

I was drawn to the title which is why I wanted to read Escaping From The Victim or Volunteer Role 
in Your Relationship by Joanne Williams.
While it is a compact book it is full of valuable information regarding how to find love, fulfillment and happiness. You are in control of your relationships, not the other way around, and once you know your worth, goals, needs and desires you can go forth in seeking what you want. This is a hands on look into several relationship types that we all can relate too, such as the “clingy, needy type”; this is the sister who knows this relationship is bad for you but does nothing to get out. She has lost herself in the man and he no longer finds her a challenge or exciting.

We meet the “Victim” and “Volunteer”, these are the women who do not realize they are being abused because it is not blatant; however, verbal is just as bad as physical. While this guide is under 100 pages it was well written, clear stories, and a must read for men as well as women. I recommend this book to our up-and-coming youth; these poor kids are misguided and are accepting anything they think is in the form of love. Whether they are witnessing this abusive treatment at home amongst their parents or within their inner circle.

No one should be a victim of circumstances, you should love yourself so much more that you are willing to sacrifice what you think is happiness for the joy you can bring to yourself. I recommended this book for anyone looking to improve their relationships.

Reviewed by:  Cheryl Hayes, APOOO BookClub. This book was provided courtesy of the author for review.

Inside Rain 
by Monique D. Mensah

Rain grapples with memories of a horrific past that leaves her far from unscathed. After witnessing her mother’s gruesome murder as a child, she is now left piecing together the fragments of her shattered psyche as an adult. Quickly, she is drowning in years of frustration and confusion with no promise of relief. 

Sinister visions and undying spirits haunt Rain relentlessly, driving her deeper into darkness and lunacy. Rain’s grandmother, GiGi, tries her best to help Rain face the truth, urging her to confront her past, but the past is too painful—it’s easier to hide. 

As Rain struggles desperately to define herself, she's forced to brave her live-in siblings: a violent and narcissistic brother, Danny, who resents her weakness and Carmen, her promiscuous and hostile older sister, who wishes Rain would disappear. 

In her fragile mental state, Rain is ill-equipped to handle the chaos of their ruptured lives. When Rain, Carmen, and Danny are submerged into the horrors of prostitution, drug-addiction, domestic violence, and murder, Rain is left alone to face her internal demons and find her identity, with no one to answer to, but herself. 

Excerpt: Inside Rain by Monique D. Mensah 

A cold chill invaded her bedroom. The windows were closed and the heat was on, but there was still an unjustified frost that nipped at Rain’s skin as she lay snuggled in her twin-sized bed under her Sesame Street blanket. Living in Detroit, frigid nights could be expected in the dead of winter, but this was different than any other chill she’d experienced; it was eerie. That’s what woke her up. It wasn’t the faint sound of screaming in the near distance or the echo of heavy footsteps pounding the linoleum floors. It was the creepy, cold air that bit at her ears, fingers, and toes. Rain rubbed her eyes and lazily threw the covers off her small body. Her tiny feet dangled from the side of the bed as she sat there for a moment, yawning and wondering how long it would be before it was time to eat her usual Crunch Berries and toast for breakfast. 

It was dark in her room, and the light from the hallway crept through the crack under the door. She could tell it was still nighttime. She opened her curtains and saw the steel moon staring back at her, confirming her initial thought; it was still the middle of the night. Then she heard it again, thundering footsteps followed by a shrill scream. This time she knew—it was her mother. 

Rain jumped out of bed and rushed out to the hallway. The light made her squint as her eyes adjusted. She started running down the hall, but quickly slowed her pace to a slow and careful walk. At five years old, she had the senses of a grown woman. She knew her mother was in danger and that she might be as well. Still, her curiosity compelled her forward to find out what was going on. As she got closer to her mother’s bedroom, the noise became louder and clearer. She heard her mother again, but this time she wasn’t screaming. She was talking desperately. Begging.

“It wasn’t me, baby. It was Rock. He forced me. He got the money. We can go get it, me and you. We can get it right now. Please, just let me get it and this whole thing will be all over.”

Rain heard a smack, then a crash. The brash voice of a man bounced off the thin walls of the small bungalow. “You think I’m stupid don’t you? I told you last Friday if you ain’t have my money, I was comin’ for you. Gimme my money now!” Smack!

To Rain, he sounded like a monster. Like Skeletor, his voice was deep and groggy and sent a cold shiver down her spine. Suddenly, she started to cry. Warm tears staggered down her face, but she managed to remain silent as she kept a slow and steady pace toward her mother’s bedroom.

She heard her mother again, “Rock! Rock got it!”

“Rock dead. You ain’t heard?” The man’s cruel laughter made Rain flinch. “Yup, got himself shot in the head and set on fire.”

“Oh my God! Please! Let me explain. We can straighten this out. I promise. Just let me put some things together fo’ you. I got you!”

Rain finally reached the door to the master bedroom. It was open just a crack, not wide enough for them to see her, but she could see them—the whole scene. A tall, dark man stood over her mother, as tall as the tallest building she’d ever seen. Her mother was on her knees begging for her life while he yanked her auburn-dyed hair. He was dressed in all black—black leather jacket, black shirt, and boots. 

Rain had seen him before. He had been near the house occasionally, but she didn’t know his name. This was the first time she’d ever seen him actually in the house. Usually when he came around, her mother would call GiGi and tell her to come get Rain because she had to take care of some business. GiGi would get mad at her and fuss about how she was too absent from her child’s life, but Rain didn’t mind it at all. She loved going over her GiGi’s house. It was always so much fun. Most of the time she didn’t want to go back home; sometimes she didn’t for a couple of days. When her mother came back to get her, Rain would ask where she had been, she would always get the same answer, “Working. Mommy had to take care of some things, baby.”

But now, that man was standing in their house, in her mother’s room, and he was hurting her.  She was crying. Rain had never seen her mother cry before. It made her own tears come down even faster.


Inside Rain by Monique D. Mensah 
•ISBN-13: 9780615379913
•ISBN: 0615379915
Genre: Fiction/Psychological Thriller

Purchase from Amazon
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About the Author
Monique D. Mensah
  is the award-winning author of  Who Is He to YouInside Rain  and  Smoke Screen. After graduating from U of M with a bachelor’s degree in business management, she went on to pen her first novel. Shortly after, she founded Kisa Publishing and published her debut novel, launching a fulfilling career as a critically acclaimed author. She resides in Southfield, MI, with her daughter, Alana, where she works full-time at a private university.  Visit the author's website: 

The Tell-It-Like-It-Is Advice Your Love Life Has Been Missing

Tionna Smalls calls herself a relationship expert today, but it did not come easily. 
After ending a six-year relationship, she began re-evaluating her past mistakes and triumphs. She used the closure that came with the romance as inspiration in writing GIRL, GET YOUR MIND RIGHT: The Tell-It-Like-It-Is Advice Your Love Life Has Been Missing. It was from here that her career unexpectedly took an upward turn.

Smalls began simply with a letter written in the third person to the editors of, a popular New York City-based blog, in hopes of them promoting her book. After a few postings, a letter from one of the editors asking for advice changed her relationship with the site from fan to columnist. Her column, “Ask Tionna” received over 20,000 unique views daily. With her tell-it-like-it-is style and signature catch-phrases, “Ask Tionna” became one of the sites most visited sections, receiving over 100 comments a day. Her internet celebrity status on the rise, Smalls went on to host her own internet radio show, write for other websites including Global Grind and Radar Magazine Online, and be featured in various publications.

In April of 2009, VH-1 approached Smalls with an opportunity to turn years of hard work and past heartache into a position as relationship expert to popular singer Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas in her quest to find true love. In the show What Chilli Wants, Smalls’ experience and forthrightness help to manage the singer’s expectations and are vital in helping to prepare her for a successful and enduring relationship. The show was an instant fan favorite and became such a ratings success that VH-1 picked it up for a second season which will air in January 2011. 

In GIRL, GET YOUR MIND RIGHT, Tionna expands the advice she doles out on the reality show and shares her insights on what women need to do to find and maintain healthy and loving relationships. While the advice is always caring, she pulls no punches and is brutally honest in asking women to take a hard look at themselves in an effort to not repeat bad behaviors. Some of that advice includes:

» Don’t Lose It All for “I Love You” – Everyone longs to hear those three little words, but it can be a gift and a curse. If a man knows he can get what he wants from you by simply saying I love you, he will use it against you. Keep quiet about your feelings of abandonment or “daddy issues” as he’s listening and learning how to play on that.

» Know What A Good Man Looks Like – Love the one who loves you! He may not be the one you are instantly attracted to, but he is the one who wants to be a part of your world and shows genuine concern for your happiness and well-being. Start looking at the ones who think you are the best thing since sliced bread! 

» Stop Comparing Yourself to Her – Comparing your happiness in your relationship to other people’s relationships will only leave you feeling sad and jealous. While it’s okay to learn from others, time is better spent discussing your likes and dislikes in an effort to strengthen your union.

» You Can’t Have Sex Like A Man – It is important to understand the dynamic between sex and our feelings and not confuse sex with love. Realizing and respecting the uncanny ability men have to emotionally detach themselves from their manhood will save you a lot of heartache in the long run.

» Know When He Doesn’t Want You – While you may be a good flavor, you’re just not going to be every man’s cup of tea. Stop going after men who continually reject you because nothing turns a man off more than a desperate woman.

Fans who couldn’t get enough of  Smalls’ sass and wit on television; and those who embrace Steve Harvey’s “Act Like A Woman, Think Like A Man” and “Straight Talk, No Chaser” will delight in GIRL, GET YOUR MIND RIGHT.   Tionna Smalls is an emerging voice for the 20 and 30 something generations, and for women everywhere who just want to get this love thing right. 

The Tell-It-Like-It-Is Advice Your Love Life Has Been Missing
Tionna Tee Smalls
Harper Paperback Original
Purchase from Amazon Today


Intimate Conversation with Toye Brown

BPM:  Tell us about your journey becoming a successfully published author. Do you have anyone in your life that was heavily influential in your deciding to become an author?
A native of Cleveland, Ohio, I have dabbled in many hobbies over the years but writing has always been my passion. It allowed me to escape from the day-to-day grind of work and stress and into a world of fiction where I decided how the day would end for my characters.

"Obsessive/Obsession" is the first book of a series of three with the release of  "Nayla's Dilemma-The Ends of Justice" due out this spring.  "Fighting The Desires" will be following thereafter to wrap up the Lofton Sister's storyline before a new series starts with all new characters.

"Obsessive/Obsession" is dedicated as a tribute to my family who has supported me throughout this process. We are a family of strong men and women who love and support each other and keep God first in our lives. If you would like to contact me for book club meetings or speaking engagements, I can be reached at  or on my website

BPM: What is your definition of success? 
A personal goal. I wanted to write a book and I set out to do it and completed it.

BPM: Are your characters from the portrayal of real people or experiences?
No my characters are totally fictional. The only similarities my characters might have, maybe taken from my sisters personalities.

BPM: What compelled you to write Obsessive/Obsession and the follow-up Nayla’s Dilemma-The Ends of Justice? What are some of the unique issues or topics addressed in this book?
This particular story was started years ago. I won’t mention how many years. I had an interest in writing but with a family to raise I had to work and my ideas were on paper but pushed in a drawer. When I came across my story later in life, I updated it to fit today’s world.

Since my book is fiction, I didn’t draw from any pertaining to today’s events. My story is more of a romantic mystery with suspense. So maybe I did use technology as far as solving crimes. Since things have changed so much with solving crimes, I had to speak with members of law enforcement to make sure my facts were correct. The agency that was most helpful was the FBI.

BPM: Why did you select mainstream fiction as the genre to write in?
I picked fiction because I like to be able to pick the beginnings and endings for my characters. I deal with enough of daily stress and pressure and fiction is my way of escaping that world for a short time.

BPM: Please share an excerpt from your book, Nayla’s Dilemma-The Ends of Justice.
“Wait, Isaac, let me try to get in the house first. If I can get in, I can see exactly where they are.”

“I don’t know, Ben. That might be too risky. Rob couldn’t see them, what makes you think you can get in without being seen?”

“Look, we have to get Kady and Belle out of there before SWAT starts throwing tear gas or take other drastic measures. I will radio you when I’m in.”

Taking off his jacket and tie, he pried open the window to the butlers pantry. Rob and Ryan hoisted him in with Rob following behind. “I’ll try to get them to you, Ryan; you get them away from the house as quick as you can.” Ryan nodded to Ben’s plan.

BPM: Do you have any advice for people seeking to publish a book?
To make sure you use a company that has your best interest at hand and not what they can make off you. Also editing is a very important issue. No one can catch every mistake but try to catch as many as you can to avoid the hassles of reprinting and re-editing.

BPM: What types of books do you read? Who are your favorite authors?
Alice Walker, Jerome Dickey, Walter Mosley, John Clancy, and few more. I love mysteries with romance tangled in. I like romance novels also if they are too soppy. The authors I listed give me that suspense with the romance thrown in.

BPM: Share with us your latest news  or upcoming book releases. 
My newest novel  “Nayla’s Dilemma-The Ends of Justice” came out in March of this year and is the conclusion to “Obsessive/Obsession.”  So far its doing well and I hope to release my third novel  “Fighting the Desires” later this summer.

Nayla’s Dilemma-The Ends of Justice
Fighting the Desires

Available at:,,, and  Electronic versions are available for $0.99 for all eReader formats at the above online book stores.

Excerpt From The Inside Cover of Obsessive/Obsession  

Reverend James Lofton.
The patriarch of the family took his wife and children on the road with him and turned the family into a singing sensation. Through his ministry, he educated his daughters and maintained a lifestyle free of controversy until he started receiving letters threatening his family. Now he had to turn to his daughters for help in solving this mystery.

Jean Hall-Lofton. Jim's high-school sweetheart and wife of thirty-years. Jean never swayed or backed down from challenges. She didn't understand what was happening with her husband lately. His over-protectiveness and sudden desire to retire, had her worried something might be wrong with him or the family business.

Tina Lofton-Robertson. The successful psychiatrist that focused her practice on treating violent criminals. To be the daughter of a minister she had a crass side, if you crossed her, she didn't hesitate to let you know. She uses her ability to try to outwit the criminally insane while being held captive.

Nayla Lofton-Smith. The successful attorney living in California returned to Cleveland to take the position of Assistant District Attorney. The change has her doubting herself when she butts heads with the head D.A. and her ex-fiancee but she is determined to bring down the person or persons responsible for bringing havoc to her family.

Isabelle Lofton-Johnson. Found out the hard way you can't look at life through rose-colored glasses. After a brief troubled marriage and one child, she took it upon herself to regain control of her life. Always the nurturing figure Belle maintained her family and became CEO to a multi-million dollar institution.

High Level of Low Self- Esteem 
by Electa Rome Parks

“Many women have a high level of low self-esteem” – Michael Baisden

I still recall the first time I heard those words spoken by the then, up and coming nationally syndicated radio host, Michael Baisden, on Atlanta’s #1 urban radio station, V-103.

I clearly recall cringing and being totally outraged. I thought, “How dare he?” attempt to call out my African-American sistahs with such a catchy, yet degrading slogan. “He didn’t know us and if he did, how dare he air our dirty laundry.” I would hear his slogan passionately proclaimed time and time again as he made guest appearances on the show as his popularity grew.

If truth be told, I cringed because I knew women exactly like that. They were my friends, female family members, co-workers, etc. Over and over again, I witnessed it played out with the same end results. If you keep doing the same thing, you keep getting the same results. My sista-friends going above and beyond to please a man, any man, a piece of a man, just to feel love and validated. . . yet they were not receiving these things in return.

Each sad relationship story ended the same. After enduring some form of abuse at the hands of a lover, after she placed him on a pedestal, pleased him sexually, lavished him with gifts and money, accommodated his every need, took him back after he cheated, forgave him after he gave her an STD, believed in him once again as he had a baby outside the marriage---yes, it all ended the same. The lover moved on, found someone “better”, someone who respected herself or maybe repeated the pattern with another victim who was willing to give more and receive less.

When the inevitable question was asked between gut-racking sobs, “What did I do wrong?”  The answer was always the same.   I wanted to scream it from the midst of a mountaintop. “You have to love yourself first before you can expect anyone else to.”

Michael Baisden’s slogan touched a nerve because I had seen these women up close and personal and it wasn’t cute. My sistahs deserved so much more. Much like Kennedy Logan in True Confessions. Kennedy represents a myriad of women who have a heightened level of low self esteem due to many underlying factors. In True Confessions, simply stated, Kennedy loves the wrong man, Drake. She loves him more than she loves herself and he knows that, even thrives on that. I predict her story will make for lively candor at book club meetings as it speaks to many women who have been in or are still in her situation. Women need to take a step back and really look at themselves and ask the question. . . do I value my worth and all I bring to the table?

They are several factors that are clear indicators of low self-esteem. Do any of these speak to you? If so, what are you going to do about it?

Characteristics of Genuinely Low Self Esteem

1. Depression and/or bouts of sadness 
2. Anxiety and emotional turmoil 
3. Lack of social skills and self confidence 
4. Less social conformity 
5. Eating disorders 
6. Inability to accept compliments 
7. An inability to see yourself 'squarely' - to be fair to yourself 
8. Accentuating the negative 
9. Exaggerated concern over what you imagine other people think 
10. Self neglect 
11. Treating yourself badly but NOT other people 
12. Worrying whether you have treated others badly 
13. Reluctance to take on challenges 
14. Reluctance to put yourself first or anywhere 
15. Reluctance to trust your own opinion 
16. Expecting little out of life for yourself 
17. Social withdrawal 

About the Author
Electa Rome Parks
currently resides outside Atlanta, Georgia. After successfully self-publishing her debut novel, The Ties That Bind, New American Library, a division of Penguin Group, bought the rights. Electa signed a three-book deal with New American Library. All three books were immediately chosen as Black Expressions Book Club main selections and embraced as Books of the Month by book clubs across the country. Dubbed a "book club favorite," avid readers have embraced Electa's true to life characters that tackle prevalent and heavy hitting issues.

Since then Electa has become a bestselling author of several other mainstream (Loose Ends and Almost Doesn't Count) and erotic (These Are My Confessions, Ladies' Night Out, Diary of a Stalker and True Confessions) novels with Penguin Group, HarperCollins and Kensington. The self-proclaimed, Queen of Real, Electa has been a frequent guest on radio shows, has been nominated for many industry awards and has been interviewed by newspapers, AOL's Black Voices, Vibe Vixen, Upscale Magazine, Today's Black Woman, Rolling Out and Booking Matters, to name just a few. With a BA degree in marketing and a minor in sociology, she is following her true passion and working on her next novel and first screenplay.

To find out when and where Electa will be in your area, check out her website at  or  To share your thoughts with Electa regarding her work or to schedule an event, please e-mail her at


Intimate Conversation with Rhonda Bowen

Rhonda Bowen is a writer and event planner living in Toronto. When not stressing over her job, she can be found at church stressing over the kids she teaches in youth class. She enjoys spending time with her family, trying on shoes she can’t afford, and enjoying life’s unexpected twists and turns. Visit her online at 

BPM: What makes you powerful as a person and a writer? 
My relationship with God. It continues to be first and foremost in my life. My goal is always to use this gift of writing that He has given me in a way that is pleasing to Him. If I don’t think I am doing that, I am powerless to even write a sentence.

BPM: Introduce us to your book, Man Enough For Me and the characters. 
Man Enough For Me is about Jules Jackson a young ambitious woman who’s got her life on a tight schedule. She’s holding down a day job, running a different hustle on the side and handling the issues of her friends and family all at the same time. She is used to having everything under control, but she learns that to really get what you want out of life, you have to willing to let go of the reigns sometimes.

Germaine Williams is the other main character in the novel. Germaine is the kind of brother you look at and know for sure that he’s got everything handled. He is the guy who manages to catch Jules’ attention despite the busyness that is her life. This tall, dark and handsome record store owner has ambition that matches Jules’ and game that keeps her hooked. However there are secrets surrounding his life that makes it hard for Jules to trust him. And when she catches him with the wrong people everything in both their intertwined lives, begins to fall apart. 

There are a host of interesting side characters, including Jules’ girlfriends Tanya and Maxine, who are going through personal dilemmas of their own; Jules’ client, Truuth, an up-and-coming recording artist; Dre, Jules’ boss and head of Triad Entertainment, and of course Jules’ own mother Momma Jackson. They all come together to make her life chaotic but meaningful.

BPM: Are your characters from the portrayal of real people? Favorites?
If the friendship between the women in the novel could be a character, it would be my favorite. The bond between Jules, Maxine and Tanya is solid. They love each other like sisters and defend each other fearlessly outside the group. But among themselves, they don’t mince words. Each one has something special that the other two are lacking; Maxine is the one without a filter; Tanya is the diplomat and the peacemaker; and Jules is the practical one who you can count on in an emergency. The characters were based loosely on people I know, and so it was easier to recreate the relationships on paper. I hope it will feel just as authentic to readers.

BPM: Take us inside the book, Man Enough For Me. What are two major events taking place? 
One major turning point in the novel is when Jules’ realizes that the man she has become involved with might be into something illegal and dangerous. As Jules’ friend Easy, confirms her suspicions about Germaine, she begins to put all the pieces together in her mind. It is then that her whole world shifts.

Another major event is Jules’ confrontation of her mother. Their relationship has been deteriorating for years. But when she actively takes steps to heal the rift between her and her mother, it triggers the healing of the other issues in her life.

BPM: What are some of the specific issues addressed in this book?
Trust is the big theme in Man Enough For Me. In Jules’ case it involves believing in the people around her, and having faith in them. Initially Jules doesn’t trust her friends enough to tell them her suspicions about Germaine. Even after years of friendship she still believes they might side against her. She trusts her mother even less, believing that she can never win her approval. And as things begin to get rocky in her life she begins to question her faith in God.

Other characters also struggle with trust issues. Maxine hesitates to tell her boyfriend what’s going on with her, and Tanya hesitates to tell her business partner ‘Dre something that has been on her mind for a long time. They all learn that their relationships with each other will not survive unless they are willing to be vulnerable with the people they care about.

BPM: Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book?
I believe that what each reader takes away will be specific to his or her situation. Friendship is a major component of this novel and so I hope readers will be able to celebrate true friendship through the characters.

I hope readers also take away the idea that God created them with a specific purpose in mind that they only can fulfill. But in order to achieve our full potential we sometimes have to let go of what is easy and safe so that we can have room for something amazing.

BPM: How can our readers reach you online? 
I love hearing from readers. So please, drop me an email, tweet or FaceBook message anytime and let me know what you’re reading (hopefully me!) You can reach me at,  or  I can take the good, the bad and the ugly, so don’t be shy!

Intimate Conversation with Ivette Attaud

Ivette Attaud
, a Harlem, New York native and former Fort Bragg Army wife, has been a survivor of domestic violence and abuse for over twenty years.   Ivette served on the Battered Women’s Justice Committee of  Voices of Women Organizing Project in New York as well as contributed research regarding law guardians to their report Justice Denied: How Family Courts in NYC Endanger Battered Women and Children

She received a Certificate of Completion in Victim Assistance Training from the New York State Office For Victims of Crime; has received numerous awards for speaking at high schools and colleges; created and facilitated a domestic violence and abuse training for Chaplains called Healing The Body Before The Spirit and talks to teens in various high schools about dating violence and their internet footprint.  More information can be found online at:

Domestic violence affects two to four million people alone in the United States including teenagers and 54% of parents admit they haven’t spoken to their teen about dating violence or healthy relationships.

Video Interview with Ivette Attaud:   Surviving an Abusive Relationship: How do you break the chains of an abusive relationship?


Healing Touch TV Show with Host Dr. Gina Miller (Part 1)

My Life My Soul, Surviving, Healing And Thriving After An Abusive Relationship is an honest and graphic true story of  Ivette Attaud’s dating relationship as a teen and how it quickly manifested into a destructive, violent and psychologically abusive marriage.  Ivette puts a face on domestic violence as she describes how she was able to break the emotional and psychological chains of her abuser.

Ivette recounts vivid memories of growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness; her experience with dating violence; her battle with depression; a suicide attempt; the loss of her infant twin daughter to a domestic violence assault and re-victimization by the New York City family court system, including actual documents!   In the first part of this three-part series, My Life My Soul, Surviving, Healing And Thriving After An Abusive Relationship:  Part 1 – Surviving, Ivette lays bare the life-long difficulties those in abusive relationships face.

BPM:   What inspired you to write your first book, My Life, My Soul? How did you come up with the title? Who designed the book cover?
I wrote this book as a way to cope with the loneliness and isolation that is felt by survivors of an abusive relationship, and to deal with the grief of losing my child as a result of the abuse. I experienced writer's block frequently, as this is a difficult topic to write about. Over 15 years ago, I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of the abuse, and one of the primary symptoms is re-living the trauma. It took me 10 years to write this because I needed to deal with the book setting off my triggers. 

When I was invited to speak in public about my experience and scores of people approached me with positive feedback and shared their experiences with me, I believed that my book could help a lot of people. When I saw the statistics on teen dating violence, I included my experience with that as well.

I designed the cover myself to show that real freedom does exist for the survivor when they break the emotional and psychological chains of their abuser.   My Life, My Soul - Surviving, Healing And Thriving After An Abusive Relationship: The title is a reflection of the physical violence and psychological abuse that threatened my life and the spiritual abuse that jeopardized my soul; and that leaving an abusive relationship is about breaking the chains that bind you.

BPM:  What insight does the book give teen readers on relationships?
The whole book is based on my experiences. I didn't want my book to be a glossed-over version of an abusive relationship. I wanted it to be as real to the reader as it was to me, so there is graphic language in the book. Not because that is my writing style, but because that is the true nature of domestic violence. 

The book gives the reader insight on what a person in an abusive relationship goes through. It also helps the reader understand the isolation that survivors of relationship abuse go through. And, more importantly, that you can live a happy and fulfilling life after an abusive relationship.

BPM:   What was the hardest part of writing your book?

As a result of the abuse, I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. One of the symptoms of PTSD is re-living the experience. Writing this book meant that I re-lived the experience over and over again, including when I lost my daughter. Although writing this book will help a lot of people, it set off my triggers, which I have learned to manage. That is why it took me so long to complete it. But, the more I wrote, the easier it got to deal with and that meant I was on my healing journey.

BPM:   Did you learn anything from writing  My Life, My Soul and what was it?
We go through things in life for a reason. I was able to take a negative and turn it into a positive so I would be in a better position to heal and help others. I learned a lot about myself and what constituted an unhealthy relationship. I was also able to see how I’ve grown psychologically and emotionally from my teenage years, all the way to adulthood. Understanding where you’ve come from is crucial to knowing where you’re going. I also learned that I have a very powerful gift for helping people past obstacles in life that may be holding them back from achieving their goals. So, I am also a Personal Life Coach.

BPM:   Is there anything that makes your book different from others in the same genre?
I write in a style that makes the reader feel as if  I’m talking directly to them. While I was going through my experience, I told a lot of people about the abuse, including the military police, doctors, even the NYC family court system, and no one believed that an enlisted service member could be capable of abuse. As a result,  my children and I fell through the cracks and no one did anything to protect us.  Not only do I include actual court documents and excerpts in my book, but I mention the names of the people who pushed my children and I through the cracks, including judges.  From what I’ve read over the years, there are a lot of people out there who have experienced the same thing.

BPM:   What messages in your book, My Life, My Soul, do you want readers to grasp?
The book contains several messages: it inspires and gives hope to the survivor who is currently in or who has left an abusive relationship so they know they’re not alone; it’s an example for the families and friends of the survivor to know what NOT to do and say; it’s for parents and teens who want to know about the red flags of an abusive relationship and it’s for the professional who works with those who have experienced domestic violence and/or abuse. The reader has a birds-eye view of what the daily reality is like for someone going through an abusive relationship, whether you are a teen or an adult. I remember what my thought process was like as a teenager. I believe there is always something to learn from someone else’s experience.

BPM: In writing your book, how much legal research was required, if any?
I still have the court documents I received when my abuser took me to court. When I decided to publish this book, I went to family court to review my family court file and see if there were any additional documents in it. To my surprise, there were court documents in my file that I knew nothing about. I decided to include those documents in my book.

BPM: Who do you want to reach with your book and the message enclosed?
There are approximately 32 million American men, women and children that have experienced some form of family violence. I wanted the reader to understand and know:

• The Military Justice System to know what the daily reality of someone being abused by an active duty service member is like;

• the Legal System to understand that there is more to addressing the issue of domestic violence and abuse than “whoever gets to court first and has the most money wins,”

• the Mental Health System to see how their decisions and diagnoses, without the appropriate follow-up, severely impacts the lives of the victim and his or her children long after the case is closed;

• the Medical Community to see that the number of bruises and broken bones that pass through their emergency rooms are more than statistics;

• the Religious Community to realize that you have to heal the body before the spirit;

• people whose loved ones are in an abusive relationship to recognize the signs of the type of severe depression that leads to suicide and to understand that family support is crucial in the healing process;

• parents of teens who are dating to recognize the red flags of an abusive relationship; and

• anyone who currently is in an abusive relationship or has left an abusive relationship to know that you are not alone and you can and will break the emotional and psychological chains that bind you.

BPM: Share with us your latest news, awards or upcoming book releases. How may our readers follow you online? 
Readers can follow me on Twitter - @ivetteattaud  or on Facebook. They can also email me directly at 

Domestic violence is devastating. Understand how to better help a friend or loved one.
Purchase My Life, My Soul - Surviving, Healing And Thriving After An Abusive Relationship, Part 1: Surviving on

My Life, My Soul - Surviving, Healing And Thriving After An Abusive Relationship 
Part 1 – Surviving by Ivette Attaud
US $15.95; Nonfiction;   ISBN-13: 978-0615440613 
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7 Tips for Identifying Your Passion 
and Turning it into a Profession 

by Trice Hickman

1.  Write down the things you would do for free (things you would enjoy doing every day even if you didn’t get paid a dime for it). Most likely, there’s a profession disguised as one of your hobbies!

2.  Find a way to make your passion work for you. Ask yourself; Can I provide a service to others through my passion? Are people willing to pay for the service my passion offers? How can my passion add value to a potential customer’s life? 

3.  Develop a plan. Successful ventures start with a good plan because good plans shape good decisions. Chart your course—If you know and understand the direction in which you’re headed, the journey getting there is much smoother.

4.  Surround yourself with others who are doing what you aspire to do. Learn from them, network with them, and build your platform, i.e., who you are, what you stand for, and what you have to offer?

5.  Promote what you’re doing. Word of mouth is still the best advertisement, and in the Internet age, social media has taken word of mouth from a local to a global level. Promote your service/business on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Pitch your service/business to local media by writing an article or offering advice for consumers that is directly tied to the product or service you provide.

6.  Perception is reality, so always present yourself in a professional, competent manner.  Create professional looking promotional materials to advertise your service/business. 

7.  Reach out to established professionals in your field so you can partner with them on projects or combine your services to offer customers a special deal. 

Remember to have fun along the way. Never give up and keep pushing forward until you reach your goal? 

About the Author
Trice Hickman
is an award winning, bestselling author of contemporary fiction. Her love of reading and words led her to become a writer. Determined to have her voice heard, Trice self-published three novels before signing a book deal with Kensington (Dafina Books), who will re-release her original works. 

Trice is currently writing her next novel, and in her spare time she enjoys cooking, reading, home improvement projects, and traveling. Visit her website for more details on her books and upcoming tour schedule at:  

Purchase the Love with No Limits Trilogy Today!  

Love with No Limits Trilogy
Unexpected Interruptions by Trice Hickman 
Keeping Secrets & Telling Lies by Trice Hickman
Playing the Hand You're Dealt by Trice Hickman
Available wherever books are sold!


Teen Girls Need L.O.V.E. 
by S. Dodson

Coming June 01, 2011

Teen Girls Need L.O.V.E.   is suitable for the straight A student, the troubled teen, and the girl that is looking to be empowered. The goal is to transform our teens from homegirls to IT girls by giving them the tools needed to build their self confidence. This book focuses on the hottest topics facing teens such as relationships, self esteem, bullying, the importance of education, and how to set goals. If guidance is what you need, Teen Girls Need L.O.V.E.  is here to the rescue!

About the Author
S. Dodson
is originally from Arkansas and currently resides in Northern Virginia. She is pursuing a doctorate degree in Education specializing in Adult Learning and Higher Education. She holds a BA in Psychology from Grambling State University and a MA in Counseling from Dallas Baptist University. Her memberships include Kappa Delta Pi honor’s society, Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority incorporated, and the American Management Association.

Teen Girls Need L.O.V.E.  is  S. Dodson's  first non-fiction book. She wrote this book with the hopes of inspiring all teens to push to the next level. Website:  

Why Do Smart, Good Women Fall for Bad Men
by VegasClarke

We see it all around us…every day, a sweet wholesome woman on the arm of some arrogant, cocky guy who thinks he’s the king of every castle. He's not that cute, and doesn't seem to give a damn about anyone but himself. Why is she with him? Please tell me. Somebody?? Anybody??

Bad men or should I say, bad boys…. know just what to do to hook the ladies. They look for women who like their mess. That's right. They wouldn't be able to pull off half of the antics they do if they weren’t allowed to do so. Bad boys are confident and they simply don't give a damn. They can take you or leave you. That's one reason why they fare well with women. If a woman says no, who cares? They move on to the next one, and they do it with the same energy and boastful attitude as they did with the last woman. 

So, I ask, “Why?” 

Here’s one reason. When was the last time a man excited you? If you have to think about it, then you probably already have a good, loving, boring man. The bad boys are always testing the boundaries and pushing the envelope when it comes to their life - and women can't get enough of it. They find it intriguing. And when you put exciting and adventurous beside the other unruly traits, it sends women into a tizzy.

Women don't crave men who are pushovers. They also don't like men that they can see coming a mile away. Contrary to the belief women like men they can read and men that provide them with a sense of security, women actually LOVE to guess! It is challenging for them, and it is one of the elements of the bad boy that keeps them coming back for more!

They are exciting, adventurous... and bad! Bad boys are often rugged and in-control and sometimes even end up in jail. But after all of that, the important piece here is that they will still get the ladies. Who do you lay beside at night?

Take a stroll on the wild side in the bookstore. Pick up a copy of   Snitch by VegasClarke 
(ISBN# 9781934230763) to uncover why Diona just can’t get enough of Drape, her loving, bad-boy boyfriend.  Check out the trailer here, Go

Purchase Snitch from Life Changing Books

ISBN-10: 1934230766 
ISBN-13: 978-1934230763

About VegasClarke 
Authors, VegasClarke
demonstrate that opposites attract. Vegas entered a life of crime beginning at the age of 13. Selling drugs was all he came to know which finally landed him a 78-month sentence in the Federal Prison System. During his incarceration, he was able to cope with his time and mature through writing. He put his heart into manifesting urban tales, poetry, and songs. He is currently pursuing his degree in Business Administration and working on the sequel to Snitch. Vegas believes that it is never too late to change his life. On the other hand, in order to change, one has to be willing to change he often tells his fan base.

Clarke developed a passion for writing while becoming an avid reader of all kinds of fiction. Once Vegas and Clarke were reunited, they were able to combine Vegas' street smarts and Clarke's school smarts, creating literary magic while focusing on real-life realities. Clarke graduated from Kent State University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Public Communications Studies with a minor in Pan-African Studies. Since then she has changed fields and works in Corporate America, where she is working on a Masters in Business Administration. VegasClarke spends their time working on future novels while residing in Cleveland, Ohio with their two children.


The Misery of Amore's Demise Excerpt
by Nikkea Smithers

Committed Detective Dwayne Booker is the go to guy when it’s time to solve the hardest cases. Son of a fallen decorated officer, he followed his father’s footsteps, despite his mother’s suicide after his father’s passing. When he’s assigned to a highly controversial case that happens to be the first murder of the New Year, it causes him to reevaluate his workaholic lifestyle and appreciate life more. 

Amore is loved by many but obviously hated by at least one.  When her body is found dangling from the rafters of trap doors in the ceiling of her night club all types of mayhem ensues.  Three different lovers, a jealous former employee and a not so secret past makes this case hard to crack and the trail to the killer covered well.  Detective Booker and his new partner have to fight through the truth and lies told by those who knew Amore best. 

The Misery of Amore's Demise Book Video Trailer By Nikkea Smithers

Book Review for The Misery of Amore's Demise by Nikkea Smithers 

“An intriguing beginning to a New Year. Amore’s Demise is a suspenseful journey into a world, most of us would rather pretend doesn’t exist.”
~Emma Award-Winning Author, Iris Bolling~

Excerpt from Prologue The Misery of Amore's Demise by Nikkea Smithers

The night air was crisp, cold even, but ignored by those who embraced it walking briskly in furs lavish enough to be envied by passersby. Amore’s was the home to the elite Queens who flamboyantly paraded throughout the city with blatant disregard for everyone else’s contempt for their existence. They pranced in stilettos that were hard to find on even a good day. 

It was easy to explain how anyone could be taken by these queens if they started their admiration from the ground floor up. The stilettos were no less than three inches and came to a cascading conclave when they met the harsh street. The legs that extended beyond the shoes going up were always well defined, toned and enclosed within the restraints of the finest hosiery. Berkshire name brand stockings had to be the selection, something jet black with a shimmering tint that sparkled against the streetlights. Oh and beneath the fur coat that exhibited just how serious they took themselves was always a fabulous behind that would keep lingering eyes right there when they looked from the rear. They stayed in the gym making sure their bodies remained intact and their doctor assisted breasts remained pointed in the air. 

If someone made it past all of that, it would be easy to understand why they missed something. They would be too focused on all the glitter that they would mistake it for gold. Yes there was gold there, but not quite the gold that the common man would be looking for, unless he was already aware. 

Still, the group of carefully put together queens made their way to the ball that was the talk of their community. It was New Year’s night and anyone who was anyone would be at Amore’s. 

The music could be heard well down the street; everyone was having a good old time. The real show would take place once the party was good and packed. In the interim, the party goers would suffice with showing off the time they took to look flawless while twirling with the melody. 

“Where’s Amore?” someone asked in the midst of the celebration. It was almost midnight and it was unlike the owner of the club to be missing in action. 

Amore absorbed the attention she received like a sponge, how on a night like this could she be missing? And with all the work that had been put into that night? The environment was past festive and everyone anticipated what would drop from the ceiling this year. Each year Amore’s did something that even Times Square couldn’t compete with. One year it had been fresh rose petals that dropped from the sky. Another year it had been faux diamonds and pearls. This year it was rumored that money would actually fall from down to the floor which was a minor reason as to why the event was as packed as it was. With Amore, who knew! 

The question of the night had been “Where’s Amore?” That mystery had yet to be answered. Everyone just assumed that she would make a grand entrance the way that only she could, ready to absorb all of her love. In the mean time the countdown had begun. …ten…nine…eight…seven…six…five…four…three…two…one…Happy New Year!

Everyone sung in unison, and as expected the trap doors to the ceiling opened up and sure enough dollar bills dropped from the sky. As everyone rushed to collect the money that was falling fast to the floor, it took a minute before anyone noticed what had also dropped from above. 

It was Amore, but the entrance was far from glamorous. A shriek came from somewhere in the crowd and then utter chaos broke out. Amore was hanging from the ceiling, in a silk scarf noose.


© 2011 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author and publisher Nikkea Smithers. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author's written permission. Copyright infringement is a serious offense. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only. Share a link to this page or the author's website if you really like this sneak peek. 

Purchase your copy from Amazon today
Purchase your copy from Barnes and Noble today
ISBN-10: 0977938786 
ISBN-13: 978-0977938780 

About The Author 
Nikkea Smithers
is a dynamic award winning and Essence Magazine bestselling writer and spoken word artist, originally from Connecticut , currently residing in Richmond , VA.   She has released several novels, poetry compilations and has contributed to several anthologies.  Her writing style is unique as she uses her ability to play on words throughout each project.  Her novels flair with the explicit details of life told through her characters’ eyes.   Visit the author's website at:  for more book excerpts and event details.

Intimate Conversation with author Pynk

PYNK is the best-selling author of three erotica titles and winner of the 2008  YOUnity award for both the Fastest Rising Literary Star and Author of the Year.   Hachette Books released the first title, Erotic City, in November 2008.   Erotic City was a finalist for a 2009 African-American Literary Award in the category of erotica and voted one of the Best Reads for 2008 by Black Expressions.   

The second title,  Sexaholics, about four women addicted to sex, hit the shelves on March 23, 2010 and was voted among the 2010 Best Books by the Sankofa Literary Society.   

The third PYNK title, Sixty-Nine, about three women born in 1969 who are about to turn the big 4-0, came out on March 25, 2011.   Politics Escorts Blackmail  follows in 2012.   

Each steamy PYNK title is set in a different city - Atlanta, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and soon in Las Vegas and Dallas.   Allow yourself to live your sexy dreams through the words of PYNK, as her characters are sure to make a fictional appearance in your city soon.

BPM: Who are your mentors? Where do you find your inspiration? 
Some of my mentors have been those who came before me, not hands on but showing by example, like Octavia Butler, Terry McMillan, James Baldwin, and Stephen King. Today, I've learned much from talented author-friends like Mary B. Morrison, Eric Jerome Dickey, and Victoria Christopher Murray, among others. My love of writing inspires me by piquing my curiosity in certain topics, motivating me to breathe life into characters so I can explore their journeys in my mind's eye. That's exciting!

BPM: What have you realized about yourself since becoming a published author? 
I've realized that I am very effective at managing the reclusive times that are absolutely necessary when it comes to writing - some can't. I know when it's time to shut down the computer and see to my needs and connect with others, and I have great people in my life who understand and respect my deadlines. I'm very disciplined and the life of a writer suits me well. 

BPM: What is the most rewarding aspect of your career? 
The most rewarding part of my career is hearing from readers. I so enjoy connecting with readers who've taken the time to not only read my works, but to also sign my guestbook, send emails, share their lives, post reviews, or come out and meet me. I'm honored and appreciative. My readers make me smile big!

BPM: Do you have any advice for people seeking to publish a book? 
Study the craft of writing and do the research on the business of publishing, whether you self-publish of accept an offer. Also, ask yourself if writing is your passion. Would you do it for free? If the answer is yes, then do the work, stay disciplined, develop a think skin, manage the lifestyle, be patient, and work toward making a living at it.

BPM: If you were not a writer, what would you be? 
If I was not a writer I would be either an interior decorator or a professional bowler. I love both - do what you love! 

BPM: When you have completed a project, how do you celebrate? 
I celebrate by making sure to enjoy my favorite meal, along with a chilled glass of wine champagne. I take a long bubble-bath, perhaps enjoy a massage, and make sure to get away somewhere out of town for a while with someone I love, just relaxing and recharging until the next one.

BPM: Hot Seat-- share with us ONE detail about you or a hobby readers would enjoy. 
Detail: I was a commercial actress and my first acting job was a one-on-one scene with legendary actress Angela Lansbury, who's the most beautiful and patient spirit I've ever met. She sat nearby and chased away the butterflies, even when she wasn't in the scene. I'll never forget her. 

BPM: Introduce us to your book, SIXTY-NINE and the characters.  On Kindle or Nook? 
In my third title, SIXTY-NINE, Magnolia Butler, Rebe Richardson and Darla Clark are about to turn the big 4-0.   They're all born in 1969 (thus the title).   They've been best friends since high school and have lived life on the safe side of the street, especially when it comes to sex.   

SIXTY-NINE is a coming-of-age story of sisterhood and friendship, and about how our upbringing and experiences shape our ideas about life, sometimes leaving us unfulfilled and dissatisfied, though it can also be true that some things are better off left alone.   One New Year's Eve, these three best friends make a vow to go beyond their boundaries and the outcomes change their lives forever.   SIXTY-NINE is erotica, available in trade paperback, and on Kindle and Nook.

BPM: Take us inside SIXTY-NINE. What are two major events taking place? 
1) Darla Clark has been a widow for five years and has been celibate since her husband's death. She's at a crossroads as far as whether to move on, or continue to show respect to her husband's memory by never again sharing her heart or body with anyone, just as her father has done ever since Darla's conservative mother passed away. The toughest part for Darla is that when her husband died, she was in bed with him. 

2) Magnolia Butler is in a make-up to break-up relationship with Mr. Wrong whose name is Neal Graham, whom she just can't seem to shake. The supposed last straw was that he cheated with his freaky-deaky secretary, yet now he wants Darla back "one more time." She vows it'll never happen again, and also vows to explore her own wild side of life, believing if she'd just been a little more of a vixen, he would've never strayed. But being that it's a small world, she finds one particular encounter to be too close for comfort.

BPM: What situation or revelation prompted you to write your book, SIXTY-NINE
My characters were created after watching an episode of The Oprah Show on the topic of sexual repression. She talked about how some women have never had an orgasm, and that some do not know how to enjoy sex, while others know how and are willing, yet the old programmed messages of guilt speak louder than their desire to enjoy themselves freely. I see this as a problem in our society for women. We women need to be educated and seek help if necessary. The word sex is still so negative to so many. Healthy sex between consenting adults, or alone, is a woman's right as well as a man's. 

BPM: Who do you want to reach with your book and the message within? 
I would like women who might feel some sort of sexual repression to relax and embrace their sexuality. Mind you, I'm not saying be promiscuous and partake in risky behavior. Whether you have a lover or not, learn as much as you can about your own body and how it works, what it looks like, focus on your likes and dislikes, express yourself and ask for what pleases you. Be more creative. Try something new that you're comfortable with. If you have repressive aspects that have caused problems, seek help from a counselor and/or gynecologist. Enjoy yourself and be happy. That is key. 

Even women who don't have repressive issues might recognize a friend in this story, and men could learn a lot about the women in their lives by reading SIXTY-NINE. It could help men to become more patient and understanding. It's all about sexual awakenings, in the book, in one's mind, and in the bed.

BPM: What are some of the specific issues or problems addressed in this book? 
In SIXTY-NINE, I address the inability to achieve orgasm, a woman's first experience on an adult website, abusive parents, conservative upbringings, economic pressures, betrayal, threesomes, mother-daughter-issues, mid-life stripping, love-addiction, second chances, and more.

BPM: Share with us a quote from one of the most powerful chapters. 
I suppose that would be the opening line of the book: She really did love her best friends, but less than twenty years ago she slept with her best friend's man and got pregnant.

BPM: Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book? 
I want women to learn to be Sex-see, as I call it, seeing themselves as sexy, feeling sexy and looking sexy for themselves. I have a "Pynk Dares You To Be Sexy" chapter in SIXTY-NINE that lists 26 ideas or homework assignments on how you can be sexier. Try a few alone or with a partner whom you trust. You just might find new meaning in the term Sixty-Nine. Flip your sex life to a brighter side.

BPM: Share with us your latest news, awards or upcoming book releases. 
I'm happy to say that I was an honoree at the SistahFriend Book Club's African-American Literary Festival, where myself and other authors were awarded the 2010 Pink Diamond Award. Also, EROTIC CITY was nominated in the best fiction category for an African-American Literary Award. SIXTY-NINE hits the shelves on March 25, 2011, and I'm wrapping up my 2012 title called POLITICS ESCORTS BLACKMAIL, about the call-girls and politicians in New York City. It's Madam Money Watts' fictional memoir.

BPM: How can our readers reach you online? 
My website address is  - Facebook is  - Twitter,


by Shevelle Ford

Are you feeling OVERWHELMED? Has the new year be­gun but you just can’t seem to get it together? Are you tired of EVERYONE pulling for your attention? Do you want to stop the juggling act, but just can’t seem to figure out how? Does the mere thought of all that you have to do today, exhaust your brain cells? Are you a hairpin away from telling EVERYONE, "SHUT UP" and “LEAVE ME ALONE”?

IF you answered YES to ANY of these questions, help is just a click away… 

Wearing many hats is not easy! Having to be wife, mother, sister, confidant, friend, teacher, nurse, cheer­leader, errand-girl, and whomever or whatever our loved ones need us to be can be quite overwhelming. How do we keep our sanity? 

I’m Not God, I’m Just a Woman, is a must read for both men and women alike. This book is by far NOT your typical self-help book. It was inspired by the Holy Spirit to help every woman recognize that she is not God; therefore, she cannot be everything to everyone at the same time. 

Combining practical everyday life scenarios with a twist of entertainment and drama that will keep the reader seated between its pages. Loops of laughter, turns of tears, and elevations of enlightenment will even peak the curiosity of the non-reader. 

The primary focus of this book is to help every woman prioritize her life; so that in the midst of everyone pulling for her attention, she can still manage to keep it all together! Visit my website for an excerpt or to place an order at:  SHIPPING IS FREE! 

Visit my website at:  to see what others are saying about I'M NOT GOD, I'M JUST A WOMAN...LIFE CHANGING! 

An excerpt from I’m Not God, I’m Just a Woman…

So many times in life as women we find ourselves wearing many different hats, playing many different roles, quite often at the same time. In the midst of being mother, wife, sister, confidant, cheerleader, housekeeper, errand-girl, teacher, nurse and whomever or whatever our loved ones need us to be, we have a tendency to lose touch with who we are. 

Nearly eight years ago God gave me a revelation of how much responsibility rests in the care of a woman. It was a mind-blowing experience that happened one Sunday evening; actually it was the day after I preached my first sermon. I was lying on the sofa, enjoying the luxury of a quiet moment, when out of nowhere everyone started screaming for my attention. My daughter Trinity wanted something to eat, my son A.J. wanted to nurse, my husband was calling me for something, and my mother-in-law was knocking at the door. Feeling so overwhelmed, not being able to decide who needed me the most or what to do first, I began to yell, “I’m not God, I’m just a woman!” 

Then in a very meek almost defeated voice, out of my mouth I could hear these words, “I can’t be everything to everyone at the same time.” For a moment it seemed liked the whole world stopped spinning. They all looked at me as if to say, she can’t be serious, she’ll be whatever we want her to be. Recognizing that those vultures were not about to have any sympathy for my moment I got myself together and did what was needed. 

Later that night God began to tell me, “Yes, you are just a woman; you are neither omnipresent nor omnipotent.” He reminded me that I was created in the image and that I wasn’t the image. Ultimately He shared the importance of me needing to know how to prioritize my life. Enlightened to the fact that I was not a lone ranger and that so many women felt the same way I did, overworked and underpaid. Always having too many irons in the fire and always attempting to master the juggling act just to make it through the day. He gave me an assignment that night to write this book, but my body was drained both mentally and physically. I was very disobedient, because I didn’t have the energy to obey Him. I felt like Peter, James, and John when they were in the Garden of Gethsemane and Jesus asked them to watch for him just one hour. (Matthew 26:36-42) Their spirit was willing but their flesh was just as I was, weak. 

Several weeks after that night, He would wake me up very early in the morning, and I could feel His Anointing present in the room for me to write, but my flesh was in control. I would just lie in my bed and wrestle with only the desire to do God’s will. After many sleepless nights, I decided to put forth an effort. Getting up with pen and paper in hand, I remember telling God, “Okay, here I am, tell me what you will have me to write, in my quest to help my sisters out,” and He would not say a word, dead silence. Ain’t it funny when we decide to obey God, we act as if we’re doing Him a favor. We have a tendency to forget that we need Him to continue to speak life and direction that we may continue to walk in His perfect will for our lives. Ignoring the fact that God was not speaking, I decided to get started anyway. I jotted down some ideas of what I thought this book should be about, and believe me when I say that they were my ideas, not His (God’s). 

Finally, I reached a point where I was so frustrated because I couldn’t sleep; as a result I was always irritable. I could hear these thoughts in my head constantly, but was unable to transpose them to paper. Knowing that I couldn’t go on living like that and realizing that something had to give, I attempted to do what some refer to as, “Calling God on The Carpet.” Yes, I began to have a little talk with my “Daddy,” or should I say a monologue because I was the only one talking. I pleaded with Him for another chance to say yes to His will for my life; reminding Him that He knew better than I, all that I had to do. My plate was full! He had just given me a vision to start a business, my husband had just started pastoring a little Baptist church, and I had to be his biggest, and in most cases, his only cheerleader. I had two kids that were 20 months apart and had no family near me for support. 

My mom and dad lived over two and a half hours away and my father was very ill, so I would travel home weekly to help care for him. As if all of that wasn’t enough, I had just accepted the call to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I had no experience in writing; let the truth be told, other than the Word of God, I hated reading. My list went on and on because you can do that on “the carpet.” That is your opportunity to lay it all on the line. I must admit that my God is truly a gentleman, not once did He interrupt me. He allowed me the opportunity to get everything off my chest and still did not speak anything different than what He told me at first, “you need to prioritize your life.” 

For some reason I expected Him to say something different, maybe it was just me.  But I had just had a tantrum (eyes swollen, nose running, head hurting, the works)  and I wanted to hear;   “daughter I understand,”   “it’s going to be okay,”   “don’t worry about it,”   “we’ll try later,”  but not my God, the exact word He had given me before is what He spoke again.   I promise you it was as if something phenomenal happened that very instant, the Word was the same but I was different.   The switch was turned on, my eyes were opened, and I was able to see, for the first time, how hectic my life was, and realized the true need for some sort of order. 


Book Review for Evangelist Shevelle Ford ~  I’m Not God: I’m Just a Woman 

Evangelist Ford has managed to write one of the most interesting self-help and motivating books of being a woman. Women always have a tendency to attempt to be the ”superwoman” and we have such a hard time saying no. Evangelist Ford manages to give us examples of her life in which she has tried to be the super human. You witness the transformation of Evangelist Shevelle Ford trying not to sometimes follow what the Holy Spirit is leading her to do and how so much harder you life can be if you do not follow the message. 

In reading this book, you learn that we are human and not God. She writes that it is okay to say no and not feel guilty. As I read and laugh at her stories, I could relate and testify to some of the same situations she wrote about. The book is very well written and very unique because the references to Bible verses and the real life scenarios were so easy to understand.

I’m Not God; I’m Just a Woman” is not just another self- help book that just tells you what you need to do. The title alone is enough to grab your interests and you will not be disappointed. The book is a little short and it makes you yearn for more of Evangelist Ford’s message. I hope there is a part two of this book.  --  Reviewed by Karen Waiters, Sistahs of Urban Literature Book Club

About the Author
Evangelist Shevelle Ford
is an aspiring author and co-founder of Higher Grounds International Worship Center, where she serves as CEA (Chief Executive Administrator). She is married to Bishop Joseph "AJ" Ford, founder and Senior-Pastor of Higher Grounds International Worship Center, and they are the proud parents of two children, Trinity and Joseph Anthony (AJ). She is a native of Phoenix, LA. The tenth of ten children of the late Rev. Dr. Percy Murphy Griffin and Irene Williams Griffin. 

Shevelle is a graduate of Xavier University in New Orleans, LA; there she received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Pharmacy. She not only ministers the Word to the spirit-man, but she also has a pharmacy ministry that offers free home delivery of prescriptions to patients throughout the state of Louisiana. Higher Grounds Pharmacy Ministry has faithfully served the elderly, home bound, economically disadvantage, and others since April 1998. 

Shevelle is a Captain in the United States Army and currently serves as an Inactive Ready Reserves (IRR) officer. She loves to cook and desires to open her own restaurant, if God sees fit in His perfect will for her life. She recently published her first book entitled, I’m Not God; I’m Just a Woman. Shevelle is a firm believer of  "letting God be God,"  with an intense love for the Word of God. Her desire is to help others enhance their relationship with God, currently serving as a mid-wife to aide others that are giving birth to their kismet. Ministry is her passion, and at this juncture in her life, she has committed to preaching the Word of God full-time. 

Purchase the book from the author's website at:

Intimate Conversation with Chicki Brown

Chicki  is the author of two e-published novels. Her next book will be released in June 2011. She is currently working on her ninth manuscript.  An avid reader, her favorite authors are Beverly Jenkins, Eric Jerome Dickey, Lisa Kleypas, J.R. Ward and Suzanne Brockmann.  A New Jersey native, and the mother of two adult daughters, Chicki and her husband reside in suburban Atlanta, Georgia.

BPM: Who are your mentors? Success leaves clues, whose clues did you follow on your journey?
Unbeknownst to them authors Beverly Jenkins and Joe Konrath are my mentors. Jenkins for writing about black love with such beauty, tenderness and passion without ever being crass. I will always read everything the sister writes! Konrath for being solely responsible for my decision to forego traditional publishing and publish directly to Kindle. I’ve been following his refreshingly candid blog for three years.

BPM: What have you realized about yourself since becoming a published author?
I’ve proven to myself that I am tenacious and am able to start and finish a project. When I completed my first manuscript, the sense of accomplishment I felt was incredible. That’s when I realized writing wasn’t “just another one of her things,” as my father used to say. The difference is that I’ve finally found what I was meant to do, and have eight long contemporary manuscripts to prove it. 

BPM: Do you have any advice for people seeking to publish a book?
Learn the craft and study the industry. There so much more to being a published author than just having your name on a book cover. This is a craft where we never stop learning. This business is changing so rapidly it can make your head spin, and the authors who will survive the changes are those who are informed and able to adapt.

Get as many critical opinions on your work as possible. Joining a local or online critique group is one of the best ways to do this. Understand that you don’t have to accept all of their suggestions, but if more than one person says the same thing, pay attention.

BPM: Introduce us to Hot Fun in the Summertime. On Kindle or Nook?
My latest release, Hot Fun in the Summertime, examines friendships between four women and three men who share a New Jersey beach house for the summer. During their two month stay, romances bloom, friendships are tested and when a tragedy strikes one of the housemates, they learn the answer to the age-old question: Can men and women ever be just friends?

Hot Fun is a contemporary women’s fiction story available on Kindle, Nook and all e-formats on Smashwords and Google e-Books.

BPM: Are your characters from the portrayal of real people or experiences?
Both. I often combine real people’s personalities with the physical characteristics of Hollywood actors/actresses and my idea of who the character should be. Two of the women in Hot Fun are based on people I know, and one is based on a well-known celebrity. The men are strictly from my imagination.

Since the story takes place at the Jersey shore, which was a big part of my young adult years, some of my own memories are sprinkled throughout.

BPM: Share with us a quote from one of the most powerful chapters in Hot Fun in the Summertime.
She represented everything I despised about black womanhood. The epitome of poor self-esteem, Kinnik had bought into the hype, usually created by men, about what we’re supposed to be. Naturally, most of that hype focused on the physical, the outward rather than what truly makes us who we are. 

And beautiful, young black women were being “traded and sold” like back in the days of the old Charleston slave market. Only they thought, because they were getting paid big money, the situation was different. The worst part was they looked at women like me, who made a decent, honest living, as fools. I refused to base my success on how well I performed in some man’s bed. And I’d had plenty of opportunities to do just that. If that was dumb, then I’d resigned myself to being a single, middle-class “failure.”

BPM: Share with us your latest news or upcoming book releases. 
Hollywood Swinging, the sequel to Hot Fun is due to be released in June. It follows two of the characters from Hot Fun after they leave the beach house.

BPM: How can our readers reach you online? 
Website and Blog: 
Amazon Central Author Page: 

Intimate Conversation with 
Elder Brenda Bradley


With over 20 years of experience, Elder Brenda Bradley's approach to relationship counseling is grounded by the Word. Quickly establishing herself in the industry through her wit and down to earth teaching style, Pastor, Teacher, Playwright and Mentor, Elder Bradley makes the subject matter so simple “a baby could understand it!”  Her message is simple: You don’t have to invest your heart in something that will never give back what you put in!

BPM: What makes you powerful as a person and a writer? 
My thought process makes me powerful as person, for it allows me to start from the big picture and work down to the details. As a writer, I write from a prospective of breaking down the big details so that you understand what is happening in the whole scenario. 

BPM: Who are your mentors? 
Lossie P. Williams and Rosa L Newsome. May they both rest in peace. They were my grandmothers. Both of them did and accomplished things that were not normal in their generations. 

BPM: What compelled you to write The Boaz Factor. 
I was fascinated with the current state of relationships, the obvious change in how relationships progress, and what we as women have chosen to put up with in order to keep a person (a man) in our lives. This Christian Devotional takes readers on a journey of self-discovery, opening their eyes to the truths in their relationships.

BPM: Of all the relationships in the Bible, why choose Boaz and Ruth? 
Ruth is one of my favorite people as well as one of my favorite books of the Bible. Therefore, as I studied her, the Lord shined the light on them. I had never heard a Bible lesson or a sermon on Boaz. Nor had I seen or done a study on them in a relationship setting. It was time to create one!

BPM: Introduce us to The Boaz Factor... When You Are Ready For the Right One! 
Looking for Love?  Knowing who Boaz is will free you from looking for love in all the wrong places. You will be encouraged, remembering the priority is not you finding him, but him finding you focused and determined.

Found, but not Chosen?  For women currently in a relationship, knowing who Boaz is will save your heart from putting more time into something that will not materialize.

Based on the Biblical account of Boaz and Ruth, The Boaz Factor...When You Are Ready For the Right One! will take you on a journey of self-discovery, highlighting why we hurt from past relationships and why we continue in a cycle of false relationships that we desire to be real.

With this revolutionary new book, I use The Boaz Factor to break through the barriers of how and why we end up in the relationships that break our hearts. Grounded in scripture, truth and past experiences, The Boaz Factor will first help you to see truths that shift the paradigm of your relationships. Then, through practical, hands on application, I give you a new plan to obliterate the cycle!  The Boaz Factor... When You Are Ready For the Right One! will be released on March 21, 2011 by Ellechor Publishing House, LLC.

BPM: What insight does the book give readers on relationships? 
It defines what type of relationship we are in as well as the relationship we should expect. It provides key principles to us as to whether or not we are investing ourselves into someone who is not ready to give us a corresponding return.

BPM: What are the signs of a Boaz man? 
Signs of a Boaz man include his attention to details concerning his woman, and his mindset about the future. His conversation is different, focused and empowering. There are Seven Principles that I discuss in my book and on my blog that break this question down further.

BPM: What should women DO after reading this book? 
Be empowered to walk away from a “non-relationship” relationship. Pursue the thing that God has gifted you to do. By focusing on your purpose, plan and passion, it will take you places and introduce you to people you have yet to meet. THAT is when Boaz will find you!

BPM: How can our readers reach you online and order copies of the book? 
How to Purchase The Boaz Factor... When You Are Ready For the Right One!
Available via:  

Where to Find the Author Online
Undeniably Female Blog:  

Connect on the Social Networks
Facebook Author Page-  

Intimate Conversation with Riisa Renée 

Grounded by a strong faith, Riisa Renée is passionate about inspiring others and believes that her primary duty is to love - in words and action. Through challenge and triumph, Riisa’s history and education enable her to combine training with personal experience in this pursuit. Daily, Riisa grows to understand how every stage of her journey was carefully designed to equip her for her present ministries as a mother, author, speaker, minister and an entrepreneur.

BPM:  What makes you powerful as a person and a writer? 
The power of my words flow from the strength of my passion and the depth of my love. I write from my heart and I speak from my heart with passion and conviction. I always endeavor to be transparent and sincere in my writing and in my life because I have come to understand that it’s not about me. If I can help one person with my willingness to share the lessons I have learned in life and love, then I have come one step closer to fulfilling the purpose for which I was created.

BPM:  Who are your mentors? Where do you find your inspiration?
Though it may sound cliché, my greatest mentor is my mother. She has always been such a beautiful example of grace in the face of adversity, unwavering faith and unconditional love. I admire her strength and her gentle spirit and the way they coexist without any dissonance or pretense.

My two children are my greatest source of inspiration. In teaching them I learn so much about life, about love, and about myself. They have an uncanny knack for making the most unwittingly profound statements that completely transform my appreciation of simple truths that I have previously only half-heartedly acknowledged. These three relationships are a huge catalyst for my constant pursuit of growth and positive transformation.

BPM:  What is the most rewarding aspect of your career?
This one is easy! Words cannot describe the deep sense of gratitude I feel whenever someone contacts me to tell me that my book or some words that I have spoken have impacted their lives. Since Breaking the Silence was published, I have had a number of people approach me to say “Thank you for telling my story!” I have had many more inform me that the book inspired them to: forgive themselves; to have conversations with loved ones that they had been too afraid or ashamed to have, ultimately leading to healing or a restored relationship; to feel like they were not alone in their experience or in what they were feeling.  I often say, “no pain without purpose”. There is no greater reward than knowing that my words have been a blessing or encouragement in the life of another – for that is the purpose for which my work is intended.

BPM:  Do you have any advice for people seeking to publish a book?
Do your homework: There are many publishing options out there. Make sure the one that you choose is the right fit for YOU.

Network: There are many published authors out there who have successfully gone through the process and are surprisingly gracious to neophytes like myself. Use their experience and wisdom to make an informed decision. 

Persevere: Delayed does not mean denied. If you are passionate about your purpose and confident in your calling; work to pursue your dream with excellence, guard against dream-killers and be confident that “in the fullness of time” your dream will be fulfilled.

BPM:   Hot Seat- Share with us ONE detail about you or a hobby readers would enjoy.
Since childhood, I have harbored dreams of being on Broadway. In fact, I came close to majoring in music in college only to chicken out in favor of something “more practical” , fearful that I wouldn’t “make it”. I revisited my singing dreams briefly in the late ‘90’s and actually appear on an album produced by a Grammy-winning recording artist/writer/producer including lead vocals on one track. Perhaps one day I will feel inspired to revisit that dream once more; but for now, I will stick to the Praise Team at church and reserve my Broadway-inspired performances to the privacy of my shower and the confines of my automobile.

BPM:  A Legacy is something that is handed down from one period of time to another period of time. "My writing offers the following pearls to future readers..." 
It’s all about LOVE! A life of LOVE is a life worth living. You, by virtue of being born are exceptional and worthy of love. Despite any shortcomings or shortfalls that life inevitably brings, love allows us to forgive ourselves, learn from our mistakes, and move on using our mistakes as an opportunity to help someone else. A life of LOVE is a life worth sharing. There is no greater demonstration of love than to forgive ourselves enough to share our lives with another. There is no greater gift than LOVE. 

BPM:  Introduce us to Breaking the Silence
On Kindle or Nook?

Breaking the Silence is a compilation of lessons that I have learned in my quest to love and be loved. I speak from my heart and detail some experiences I have had in relationships, the choices that brought me to critical decision-points in those relationships and the consequences of those decisions. 

I make no attempt to rationalize or justify my decisions, nor do I pretend to understand the thought processes, motivation or intent of the other parties whom I describe in the book. I do however, try to give the reader a glimpse into my heart and the emotions I experienced in each situation described. I am also very intentional about bringing a Biblical perspective to every lesson that I have learned. The lessons I share are simple and powerful because they are rooted and entrenched in the timeless wisdom and principles of the Holy Bible.

As for genre, Breaking the Silence has been described as an “inspirational memoir”. It is a non-fiction account of snapshots of my life paralleled with Biblical principles taught through snapshots of the lives of prominent Bible characters. Breaking the Silence is also available in e-book format on Kindle. 

BPM:  Take us inside the book. What are two dramatic or major themes covered?
A dramatic and major theme in my life as described in Part I of the book centers around my decision around remaining celibate or embarking in relationships that challenged the foundation of my belief system. These experiences challenged my faith and forced me to confront the what and the why of my personal faith.

Another dramatic theme and without question amongst the most dramatic events of my life is detailed in Part II of the book where I discuss my thoughts, emotions and decision-process through the experience of unplanned pregnancy. Here again I offer a glimpse into my heart and mind as I grapple with my principles and my faith on my continued journey to love and forgiveness.

BPM:  Is this a actual portrayal of real people or experiences?
Breaking the Silence is non-fiction, the characters are real, though the names have been changed to protect the privacy of those mentioned. The experiences are mine. Each story that I describe in BtS is my lived experience, with the exception of course of the Bible stories that I use to make illustrations.

BPM:  What specific situation or revelation prompted you to write your book?
I actually get this question a lot. As I mentioned before, I frequently say, “no pain without purpose”. Throughout some of the most difficult moments in my life, many of which are described in this book, there were people who were standing in the shadows, unbeknownst to me, watching my struggle and rooting for me in silence. When I eventually emerged on the other side of my trial battered and exhausted – yet victorious – I would hear comments like “I was praying for you” or “I saw you going through, I knew you would make it”, or my personal favorite, “I went through the exact same thing. I was hoping you would be alright”. 

In those moments I would always wonder, where were these people in the midst of my struggle? Why couldn’t they have offered these words of encouragement when I actually needed them? Better yet, if you saw me headed for destruction – why not give me a heads-up in the event that I would listen to your words and avoid the situation altogether?

Bottom line, we all have our own reasons for keeping our private battles to ourselves. I get it. But I have experienced enough heartache to know that I wouldn’t wish the emotional pain I have felt on another human being. It was following what I still refer to the darkest period in my life that I vowed that I would not be “that person”. I made a vow to the Lord that I would not keep silent if ever I had an opportunity to share my heart as a means of helping another. My pain would not be without purpose. When I first felt compelled to write Breaking the Silence, I wasn’t certain if it was just for me, or if I would attempt to publish the book. The more I opened my mouth, the more people began to express the impact of this testimony and the need that existed among their family and friends. With that I began to feel an increasing sense of urgency to share this message of forgiveness, healing, hope and LOVE with as many people as possible. And here we are today, one step further on a journey of love and purpose.

BPM:  Who do you want to reach with your book and the message within?
Breaking the Silence is written for young women who have not experienced the pain and pitfalls of counterfeit love out of season. I candidly share a first-hand account of what can potentially happen when something so beautiful is distorted as a means of providing information needed to make an informed decision.

I write to women who have experienced heartbreak and made choices for which they are finding it difficult to forgive themselves. I share my experience and my journey to love and forgiveness to demonstrate that you do not have the right to hold yourself hostage when in fact you are loved and forgiven.

Beyond that, Breaking the Silence is for anyone who knows people who fall into one of the above categories – male or female. I write from the female experience because that is the only perspective I know. I have been instructed however by several men who have read the book that Breaking the Silence speaks to men and women alike. That said, I hope to reach anyone who could use some encouragement in their quest to love and be loved.

What BPM:  are some of the specific issues, needs or problems addressed in this book?
Breaking the Silence rips the cover off of the taboo topics of sex, single-parenthood and abortion among saved singles. It is a story of hurt and hope, failure and redemption, self discovery and the power of LOVE.

Share with us a quote from one of the most powerful chapters.
“I even found myself on the outside of a one-sided relationship before I understood you must love yourself enough to recognize that you are worthy of the love you seek. When we allow our hearts to be trampled in the hopes that we will one day win the affection of the one we love, we are giving permission to others to treat us poorly. We are saying to the object of our affection and reinforcing within ourselves that we are not worthy of the same level and quality of love that we are willing to give. When we develop the habit of suppressing our misgivings and pushing aside our feelings for fear that we might come across as “holier-than-thou,” when we extinguish our light so that its brightness does not offend others, we continue to reinforce this behavior, not only in ourselves, but also among others who learn from this example.

I encourage each of you to take the time to discover who you are and the greatness that lies within you before you begin to seek out a romantic relationship. Take the time to become a woman of excellence before trying to find a good man. Spend at least as much time developing your character as you do your curves. For those of you who do not believe that you are excellent and that power, passion, and purpose reside within you, you don’t have to take my word for it:

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake I am still with you. (Psalm 139:13–18)

This is what your Heavenly Father, your creator—the creator of ALL things—thinks about you! I encourage you to reflect on this and allow this to be the measure by which you compare any other message—internally or externally generated—about yourself. Again, my sisters, in all love I admonish you to LOVE: Learn your Own Values and Excellence.” (from Chapter 5, Let’s Talk About Love, p.63)

BPM:  Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book?
No matter who you are or what you have experienced, God desires to arrange the story of your life in such a way that the end will be far greater than anything you could ever have imagined. Why? Because of His incomprehensible love toward you. It’s all about LOVE! It always has been – before the foundations of the earth – and it always will be – throughout eternity. The answers you seek are found in love, the healing you need is found in love. The love you desire and so desperately long to give is enabled, empowered, and actualized by His Divine Love. After reading Breaking the Silence my prayer is that you would be so assured of your Creator’s love toward you that you experience an overflowing demonstration of love that compels you to openly share it with others.

Share with us your latest news, awards or upcoming book releases.
Breaking the Silence was featured among the top 100 non-fiction books of 2010 in the Conversations LIVE book club and magazine! To hear audio clips of radio interviews and for upcoming engagements, connect with me online.

Breaking the Silence is also available for purchase through all major online retailers.
ISBN-13: 978-0984196579
Cover design by Rakeda Rianna Sharber  

How can our readers reach you online? 
You may reach me through either of my websites, or connect with me on Facebook or via my new blog: Single, Saved, Sexy, Celibate!

For ministry, booking and contact information:  
Official website of Breaking the Silence:  

Interview hosted by Ella Curry, Black Pearls Magazine
Visit our website today for more author interviews:

This is YOUR Year: Straight From 
Your Gay Best Friend

No more games, drama, or stress. Life is too damn short.

It’s 2011 and you’ve determined that this is your year. No more games, drama, or stress. Life is too damn short. And, you’re definitely not going to put up with men who are not bringing anything to the table. No ma’am. It’s all about you, and darling, Terrance Dean is here to tell you, yes, DIVA, it is all about you. 

In today’s society every woman needs a gay best friend—someone who gives it to her straight about life, clothes, sex, and relationships. From the inner city to suburbia, a gay best friend has become the new must-have for women. 

Terrance Dean can be your new gay best friend. In his new book, Straight From Your Gay Best Friend – The Straight Up Truth About Relationships, Work, and Having A Fabulous Life   (Agate Bolden - $15; October 2010), Dean gives women terrific insights and advice on some of life’s most challenging issues—family, friends, career, love, sex, and intimate relationships. Dean offers direct and to-the-point perspectives, mixed with a little sass, wit, humor, forwardness, and spirituality, as only a gay man can do. 

Dean also dedicates a chapter to the most controversial topic in the black community—down-low gay men.  He writes, “I am often asked by women, ‘How can I tell if my man is on the down low?’  Or, ‘What are some signs I need to look out for so I do not end up in a relationship with a down-low man?’  This chapter will help women identify if the man they are in a relationship with or considering dating may be on the down low.”

This book will help women discover the power they need for a life of abundant success, prosperity, and happiness with loving relationships. 
It dispenses practical advice and tips on creating healthy relationships with themselves and any man they desire. And it’s all done from a place of love.

Is the gay best friend here to stay or is it a passing societal whim? 
The gay best friend is here to stay. We’ve always been around. It’s just that now we are getting more recognition and visibility thanks in part to television programs, movies, and the internet. People will be amazed at the number of women who rely on their gay best friends for advice about everything, from relationships and fashion to dealing with their family members. 

What does the gay best friend have to offer a woman that her girlfriends don’t? 
First and foremost, we are men. We know men. We know how we act, and what we will do in various situations. We’re the best ally for a woman who needs advice on her relationships and love life. Trust me, we are not going to steer women wrong.
We can also be that go-to person for a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, and the straight truth about everything. We’re not in competition with our good girlfriends, nor do we have an ulterior motive. We are not trying to sleep with our girlfriends, and we certainly won’t borrow your best fashions and not return them. 

What do you hope your readers will walk away with from this book?
I hope readers will walk away with a sense of empowerment and inspiration. Women are naturally powerful, fabulous, and intelligent. In my book, I only reinforce what they already know, and remind them of who they are. Sometimes we forget who we are and what we are here to do, especially when it comes to dealing with other people. My book is intended to provide women with some assistance on their journeys, remind them of their inheritance of what is good and true. I also want every woman to know that no matter what, no one can take away your true divine place in this world. You have a purpose, and your whole life and whatever you desire all depend on you recognizing your purpose. 

In your opinion, what are the biggest mistakes women make when entering a relationship? 
One of the biggest is giving their power over to men, in the process forgetting who they are and allowing their emotions to take them over. Men think with their brains. Women think with their hearts. Also, women have forgotten how to date. We live in a day and age where people are too eager to hook up instead of taking the time to get to know one another. Another mistake is that women forget that men like to pursue; they like to hunt. A woman has to make the man pursue her and not give in so easily to her (or his) desires. Women have to own their power and virtues. 

Another mistake is the failure to listen. Women must listen to men and observe their behavior. Pay attention to what he is saying and doing. If he is not living up to your standards and he is not doing what he says he will, then that woman must reevaluate that man and make him accountable, responsible, and integral. Finally, women tend to date the potential in men. They see who he will become, or what they want him to become, and they fall in love with that man instead of the man they meet. When he doesn’t become who they want him to be, women become disappointed, frustrated, and angry.

If you had to sum up in three or four sentences your career advice for women, what would you tell them? 
Do what you love. Whatever you feel deepest in your heart, whatever brings you the most joy, that is what you are supposed to be doing. Whatever you think about before you go to bed, and think about first thing when you wake up, that is what you should be doing. Your career should bring you joy, peace, and happiness. Don’t do something just for money. If you love what you do, and it provides fulfillment beyond anything you’ve ever experienced, the money will come. 

Your book talks about the down-low phenomenon—in your view, how prevalent is the issue of down-low gay men in the black community?
Well, the down-low phenomenon is not just prevalent in the black community, but in all communities, including whites, Latinos, and Asians. Unfortunately, when people hear the term down-low, they associate it with the black community. I feel there should be more open discussions in all communities around sex and sexuality. We’re so afraid to have those discussions, though, that it’s crippling us—as a result, we have an alarming rate of HIV infection among women. People are scared to talk about gay sex, bisexuality, and down-low. If we talk about it then we have to admit it exists. As long as we avoid talking about it, we are keeping it in the closet, and we are keeping ourselves in the dark. 

What is the most important ingredient to living a fabulous life? 
Loving yourself. If you love who you are, then others will love you. If you don’t appreciate you, then others will not. If you don’t show yourself respect, then others will not. It’s all about love. And that means loving everything about yourself from the bottom of your feet to the top of your head. 

So, what are you waiting for?  Order your copy of Dean’s new book and start living your FAN-TAB-U-LOUS  life today. The book is available in bookstores everywhere. If you’re in a hurry, it only takes a second to order on And, you can order it here.

Terrance Dean is the author of Hiding In Hip Hop – On The Down Low in the Entertainment Industry from Music to Hollywood (Simon & Schuster/Atria Books – June 2008); Reclaim Your Power! A 30-Day Guide to Hope, Healing, and Inspiration For Men of Color (Villard/Random House – June 2002); Visible Lives – Three Stories In Tribute To E. Lynn Harris 
(Dafina – June 2010). 

Follow Terrance Dean on Facebook, here.  
Twitter: @terrancedean 



Prescription for Healthy Relationships
by Talayah G. Stovall

Human beings have an inherent need to develop meaningful relationships. We all want to share our goals, ideas, joys, sorrows, desires, affection and experiences with someone else. However, we all fall short at times in handling the mechanics of them. There are times when we need to “doctor” up or even perform “surgery” on some of our relationships.

Do you experience any of the following symptoms in any of your relationships?
• Frequent arguments
• Low energy conversations
• Apathy regarding the relationship
• Lack of interaction/no desire for proximity
• Continuously looking for “something better”

We go to the doctor for regular checkups, but how often do we check the health of our relationships? Just like your physical health, positive relationships whether they are romantic, social or professional–require maintenance. Good relationships don’t just “happen.” Just as our physical bodies get sick from time to time, most relationships go through periods of “illness” as well. Fortunately, with proper treatment, these relationships can “recover” and thrive.

Being constantly on guard for symptoms of illness within your relationships will help keep them healthy and prosperous. People who have healthy relationships are happier and less stressed.

If you answered “yes” to any of the above symptoms, you might be in an unhealthy relationship. If so, here are some possible “remedies”:

Regular check-ups – to determine the overall health of your relationship, it is important to regularly communicate with your partner, friend, relative or associate to determine how they are feeling about the relationship. Set a regular period, depending on the relationship – monthly, quarterly, etc. to get together for the sole purpose of assessing the relationship.

Relationship checklist/chart – discuss what is working and what is not working in your relationship. Work on the issues and revisit them to see if the “stats” have improved at the next check-in.

“Weigh in” on your relationship – each of you should share your feelings with the other person. Be open and honest about what you are experiencing and listen carefully to his or her concerns.

Take the “temperature” of your relationships. Is it running hot or cold? Do you still enjoy each others’ company and/or benefit from the association? Is it moving in a positive direction?

Measure the “pulse” – Is it strong or weak? Is the bond between you growing stronger or weaker from one check-in to the next?

Use the correct prescription – know the right dosage of love and caring to share with that person, remembering that the prescription will be unique for each individual.

Know yourself – just as you pay attention to your body’s signals when it is experiencing injury or illness, know your personal reactions to the situations you encounter in your relationships and how those situations affect you. Know your “numbers” and how to read your results.

Read the warning signs/symptoms – as indicated above, watch for “key indications” that might indicate that there is a malignancy in your relationship.

Here are some of the “vital signs” of a healthy relationship:

• Built on respect, trust and caring
• Allows each person to be an individual and to grow personally
• Allows for differences of opinion and interests
• Apologizes, talks things out and moves on
• Knows how to respect each others’ “space”
• Enjoys each other’s company
• Benefits from each other’s opinions
• Supports each other’s goals
• Contains open communication and sharing of thoughts and ideas as well as active listening
• Establishes boundaries that the other knows not to cross
• Has common interests, but also values differences
• Picks their battles by determining what is really important and what issues are not worth arguing about and works on one issue at a time. 
• Comfortable saying “no” when necessary 
• Expresses appreciation for each other to reaffirm respect and affection

In a healthy relationship, you should not be afraid to speak your mind.  
No type of relationship should cause you to compromise or doubt who you are. People who have your best interests at heart will never ask you to be someone you are not or to compromise what you believe in. Before being open with anyone else, you must first be honest with yourself about who you are, what you are seeking from another person and what you are willing to give.

Remember, healthy relationships are not built overnight.  
It takes time, energy and commitment to develop any type of relationship, whether with business associates, family, friends or a romantic partner. So, be happy; be healthy; be whole. Here is to a healthier you!

About the Author
Talayah G. Stovall is an author, speaker and life purpose coach. For information on motivational CD, “PUMP It UP!, her book, Crossing the Threshold: Opening Your Door to Successful Relationships, her eBook, 150 Important Questions You Should Ask Before You Say “I Do”, to sign up for the “EmPOWERed to…” newsletter or find out about other offerings, visit Email  Watch for her next book, Light Bulb Moments: Lessons from Every Day Living.



Intimate Conversation with Joyce Fields

Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Joyce Fields has been in love with reading and writing virtually all her life. Joyce coupled her love of writing with her desire to help people improve their lives, resulting in her authoring six books.  Here, she discusses one:  The Best Way to Keep a Man is to Let Him Go  (among other things). 

In The Best Way to Keep a Man is to Let Him Go  (among other things), Joyce shares her experiences and observations, based on a 53-year relationship (43 years of marriage) with the same man--and the fire is STILL hot, hot, hot!   Based on these experiences and observations, she thinks that 80% of the success of a relationship rests on the shoulders of the woman.   The book explains why.   Joyce has included 21 pages of her own recipes at the end of this 64-page book.  The preview and rave reviews are accessible at the website that she shares with her sister, Anita Jones, who is also an author. 

What inspired you to write this story, The Best Way to Keep a Man is to Let Him Go
I was inspired to write this story because so many females seem to be in love with love and don't understand that, as young girls, many of us dream and talk of the day when we will be married and have kids, but boys don't do this. 

Young men don't dream of becoming husbands and fathers. We have to show them that the relationship is worth it. 

What issues in today's society have you addressed in the book? 
The high divorce/break-up rate could be lower if more females understood that men do not mature as quickly as we do. Women must find happiness within themselves; they cannot expect a man to make them happy. Men can enhance our happiness; they cannot create it.

What writers inspire you and why? 
I am inspired by Dr. Maya Angelou and Dr. Wayne Dyer because they both speak to the spirit of the individual and inform us of the immense power that we hold due to our connection to God. 

What did you hope to accomplish by writing this particular story? 
Based on the reviews, this book is accomplishing what I hoped it would:  to give females some tips on building and maintaining a healthy relationship with their man. To get the ladies to understand that they cannot expect to make hefty withdrawals if they have not made hefty deposits into the health and peacefulness of their relationship with their man. 

Share with us your latest news  or upcoming book releases. 
I have written and released five other books. The previews and reviews for all of them are available at the Web site. The non-fiction titles are:  Mother's Dozen: An Easy Recipe for Raising GREAT Kids! 

This book is also available in Spanish.  The Spanish title is Madre Docena:  iUna Receta Facil Para Criar a Ninos Magnificos!,   THE VISION: Telling Kids That They Can Make the World a Better Place, and Line of Serenity.   One children's fiction title: Jette Black and Her Seven Friends. 

In The Best Way to Keep a Man is to Let Him Go
by Joyce Fields


The Conversation: How Black Men and Women 
Can Build Loving, Trusting Relationships 

by Hill Harper

The Conversation Introduction
In his first book for adults, New York Times bestselling author Hill Harper invites you to join the Conversation: an honest dialogue about the breakdown of African-American relationships. For generations African Americans have turned to their families in times of need—but now, this proud and strong legacy is in peril. Black men and women have stopped communicating effectively and it threatens the very relationships and marriages necessary to sustain the Black family. Today, less than a third of Black children are being raised in two-parent households, a sharp decline from past generations. So, why is it so difficult for Black men and women to build long-term, loving and mutually beneficial relationships? What is happening in the community that makes it so hard for women and men to find their way to each other? And why are there so few people who manage to hold a marriage together, even after finding a person to love?

In his moving yet practical book, Hill Harper undertakes a journey both universal and deeply personal in search of answers to these questions. He has conversations with friends and strangers—married, single and divorced—and learns about their private struggles, emotional vulnerabilities, and real concerns, and begins to see common themes emerge. As his journey picks up momentum, Hill begins to recognize his own struggles in other people's stories, and is encouraged to more deeply examine his own relationship issues.

Why did Hill Harper write The Conversation?   
Listen below to an interview with Ella Curry of EDC Creations

MP3 File

Why does so much misinformation and mistrust exist between the sexes? Hill addresses the stereotypes that have developed in the Black community, in the hope that by addressing the challenges, Black men and women can find their way to common ground. The Conversation aims to open up the lines of communication, and offers inspiration to those who want to take control of this crisis and start building successful, sustainable relationships. 

ISBN-13: 9781592404759;  ISBN-10: 1592404758;  Buy this book today.

Author Biography
Hill Harper is an accomplished film, television, and stage actor currently starring in the hit CBS drama series CSI: NY. A volunteer for the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization in Los Angeles, he frequently speaks to schools and youth groups. Harper graduated magna cum laude from Brown University with a B.A.; cum laude with a J.D. from Harvard Law School; and earned a masters in public administration from the Kennedy School of Government.

Leading Ladies 2011-2012
by: Jeff Evans 

We stand facing into new opportunity!
2009 has nearly reached its completion. The Winter Solstice has just passed, and each day is successively longer for the next 6 months. The steady lengthening of the day is emblematic of the building energy of the coming year. 2011-2013 beckons on with much inspiration!  The world around us pauses to shift its focus to celebration, rest, and togetherness.

To some, this shift in energy at year end can feel like a void
Business slows down and in many cases comes to a complete stop. Many unfinished items get put aside until the New Year. This can be the space within a breath for leaders, a time to prepare for the coming year. So, here are a few things for each of us to think about as we prepare to lead into 2010.

Take time to reflect on the positives of the past year
For whatever reason, for many of us, the positive accomplishments of the year tend to vanish behind the problems or things that didn't go as well as we had hoped. The art of leadership requires a practice of going into our past and making sure our positive accomplishments show up like they are on the big screen. Find the positives, talk to others about them, write a song about them, or create a collage on your refrigerator. Leaders are able to immediately go into the past and find inspirational examples of success to use for themselves and for others. Make sure yours are mentally indexed, in Technicolor, and with full surround sound. Then, put them on play and sit back and enjoy the show.

Celebrate your accomplishments
Next, after you have the fully evolved picture of your accomplishments, go out and celebrate them. Make sure your celebration is in keeping with the fullness of your successes. Make it big, active, and vibrant. You worked hard, you deserve it. Now, as a bonus, think about who has made this possible for you. Maybe it is your business partner, your office manager, or your spouse. Whoever it is, they deserve a good fling as well. Take them with you, tell them how much you appreciate them, and make sure that know just how important they are to you. Leaders don't lead long unless they maintain their following.

Put things into perspective
Okay. Work, career, and business are all great. They enable us to do some really wonderful things. Years ago my dear friend Chuck took me to dinner at a beautiful little restaurant in California. We talked business, practice, and theory for a while. He stopped and looked around the room, then said something that has obviously stuck with me for a long time. He said "Remember, the only reason we do any of this work is so that we can do what we are doing now .... sit around the table in a great place and have wonderful conversations." He was (and is) so right. All of this work is to create a better place for us to be as human beings. Remember that all work is more powerful when it serves a higher calling. The most effective leaders keep their sights on a larger aspiration and ensure that everything they do is in line with that.

Select the tone you want to live for the next year
I have recently started to think in terms of the overall tone of a moment. It includes what is happening, the physical events, as well as the feeling of the event. All together, this creates a vibration that we perceive as the overall tone of the moment. I use the events in the past, fully evolved in Technicolor, to understand that tone. I then get choiceful about which tones I want for the future and start living in it. You can put it on like a suit of clothes. Leaders develop this to a fine art. It is larger than trying to act something out, it is pulling that feeling into your cells and into the fiber of your being. Find it, feel it, and live it. Your year will be profoundly impacted by this act of personal leadership.

Be in the moment during this time
Lastly, take the opportunity to enjoy this beautiful time. In years past, I have spent this time in a frenzy to finish the last year and get ready for the next. Later on, I have looked back and wondered what happened to the holidays. This is a profoundly connected and spiritual time of the year. Live in the moment, enjoy it, and love it. This is the ultimate leadership lesson ever. Be your higher self, create a space for a glorious future, and be available for others during this time.

Make 2010 your best ever
My challenge to all of us who choose to lead is simple. Learn to live the steps above. Understand your past and learn from it. Choice your future and create it. Live in the moment fully, being fully available for all of those who choose to follow. These simple steps can serve to make the coming year the best ever, not only for you, but for all those whom you influence. For now, I wish you all a 2010 filled with love, light, and great adventure.

About the Author:
Jeff Evans is an executive coaching consultant with The Gaian Group, an organization dedicated to helping organizations grow and develop through transformational change. Article Source:; 

Intimate Conversation with Gloria Mallette

Join me in welcome bestselling author Gloria Mallette! Nationally acclaimed award winning author GLORIA MALLETTE began her true literary journey by self-publishing her second novel Shades of Jade in April of 2000. By July and 13,000 sold copies later, Gloria signed on with Random House who re-released Shades of Jade in 2001. Shades of Jade made several best sellers lists, including Black Board, Essence Magazine, The Dallas Morning News, and The Washington Post/Washington is Also Reading listing.

Gloria has been featured in The New York Daily News, USAToday, ToDay’s Black Woman, Upscale Magazine, The Dallas Morning News, and The Pocono Record. Gloria also has a featured novella, Come Tomorrow, on the USAToday website. To her credit, Gloria now has ten published titles including the newly released SASSY, a Finalist in the National Best Books 2009 Awards; Weeping Willows Dance; and Living, Breathing Lies, winner of the National Best Books 2007 Awards and the 2008 Indie Excellence Award.

Intimate Conversation with Gloria hosted by Ella Curry of EDC Creations

Q: Introduce us to your new book SASSY.
GM: Finally SASSY! It took a while but SASSY is now available where ever books are sold. Order your autographed copy from the SASSY page, or order from If not online, please order through your local bookstore. 

Who is Sassy? A successful romance novelist, Sassy Davenport is a woman looking to fulfill her own romantic fantasy. When the man of her dreams steps right out of the pages of her latest novel, Butterfly, Sassy falls madly in love with him. But what evil lies behind Norris Yoshito’s beautiful eyes and sexy smile? Is the man of Sassy’s dream a serial killer of women who made the mistake of trusting him just as Sassy did? When Sassy finds herself caught up in a nightmare of deception and danger, she has to keep her suspicions to herself or fall victim to a heartless killer who sees her death as the ultimate act of revenge

Book Review for Sassy:
"[Sassy] is a fascinating psychological drama...." Harriet Klausner, #1 Amazon Reviewer 
"This is a thriller that I couldn't put down...I read it within 24 hours...a must read." --- B. Davis 'crazy about books.' 

Q: Tell us a little about your main characters. 
GM: The main characters in SASSY are Sassy Davenport and Norris Yoshito. Sassy is a romance novelist who has yet to find the man of her romantic dreams. That is until Norris Yoshito, an architect of Japanese and African American decent, by chance, attends one of Sassy's book signings and purchases ten copies of her latest novel---which impresses her.

The attraction between Sassy and Norris is immediate. Norris is the embodiment of the leading man in Sassy's novel, but Sassy quickly learns that Norris is a man of great compassion and substance when he helps her take care of her cousin Bernard who is dying of AIDS. However, there appears to be a darker side to Norris that frightens Sassy. Women associated with Norris are being murdered and the police believe Norris is the killer. Not knowing what to believe, Sassy fears that she might have to fight the man she loves in order to save her own life.

Q: Who was your favorite? Why?
GM: While I liked Sassy's strength and tenacity, I fell in love with Norris. I liked that Norris was caring, loving, and strong. Norris didn't shy away from Bernard's illness; nor did he back down from Sassy whenever she tried to get the upper hand; nor did he fear his older brother Clarence who had hated him all of his life. Norris was indeed the man that most women dream about being in love with.

Q: What issue, person or thing inspired you to write this story?
GM: Actually, my character, Norris, inspired me to write this book. Strange as it might seem, I kept dreaming about this Afro-Asian man who marries an African-American woman who faces head on the problems they were up against because of his past. My dreams evolved into SASSY.

Q: What issues in today's society have you addressed in the book?
GM: One of the issues I addressed in SASSY was AIDS and the other mixed race children in Japan who are technically outcasts in a very purist, racist society. Even today, Japanese people as a whole do not condone the mixing or tainting of their blood by foreigners, especially people of African decent. I even learned that bleaching cream is very big in Asia because Japanese people believe the whiter their skin the better. I had to do a lot of research and it was no surprise that women who bore mixed race children were ostracized. Big surprise---not.

Q: What was your primary quest in publishing this book?

GM: My primary quest in publishing SASSY was to do it my way. My previous publisher wanted me to add a lot of sex to my books, but sex is not what I write. If a sex scene is called for, that's fine, but to write sex to drive the story, that's not me. I write what my characters lead me to write, not what I think will sell more books.

Q: Thousands of books are published each year. What sets your book apart from other books in your genre? 
GM: That's just it, publishers have never been able to pigeonhole me. I don't write in a particular genre which is what sets my books apart from other books. I love mystery, suspense, and romance. Combining the three seem to work perfectly for me, which is why readers tell me they can't stop reading until the very last page. 

Q: What was the most powerful chapter or scene in the book for you?
GM: There were several powerful scenes in SASSY that touched me. One in particular was when Bernard, who is dying of AIDS, gets to see his seven-year-old son Brice. Bernard had been afraid that he would scare Brice by his emaciated appearance and tried to end all contact with Brice and Brice's mother Evelyn. When Brice was brought to the house, it was Brice who embraced Bernard and said he would take care of him. I actually cried when I wrote this scene.

Q: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
GM: Interestingly, there is nothing in the content of the SASSY that I would change, it would be the copyeditor who didn't do such a great job. 

Q: Share with us your latest news, awards or upcoming book releases. 
GM: SASSY placed as a finalist in the National Best Book 2009 Awards. I feel fortunate that it has been acknowledged, just as Living, Breathing Lies was in 2007 and 2008 wherein it won a National Best Book Awards and an Indie Excellence Award. As a self-publisher who has been mainstream published, a little validation goes a long way.

I'd like to extend an invitation to readers to visit my website:  to see the videos for both Sassy and Living, Breathing Lies. Books ordered through my website are personally autographed. 
Writing remains my passion. I am now hard at work on my next book, Shh! Don’t Tell which will be out in 2011. 

Sassy by Gloria A. Mallette
ISBN-10: 0967878934 | ISBN-13: 9780967878935

Purchase your copy today from Barnes and Noble or by visiting Gloria's website for a signed copy.

Follow Author Gloria Mallette

National Best Book 2009 Awards Finalist -- Sassy
National Indie Excellence 2008 Award Winner -- Living, Breathing Lies
National Best Book 2007 Awards Winner AA Fiction -- Living, Breathing Lies 2007 Bestseller -- Living, Breathing Lies


Advice from the Top: What Minority Women 
Say About Their Career Success

by author Valencia Campbell

Join me in welcoming author Valencia Campbell to Black Pearls. Valencia is a consultant on educational topics and women’s issues Her completed projects include those for the Baltimore Public School System, National Science Foundation, National Congress of Black Women and the National Council of Negro Women. She has taught sociology courses at Howard University and Bowie State University. Her many awards include: Governor’s Citation for Work on the Improvement of the Status of Women, Woman of the Year for Southern Prince George’s Business and Professional Women, WHUR Hometown Hero Award, 9to5 National Association of Working Women Awards and a Presidential Appointment to the United Service Organization World Board of Governors from 2006-2008. Valencia holds a Ph.D. and M.A. degree in Sociology from Howard University and B.A. in Sociology from Virginia State University. 

Intimate Conversation with author Valencia Campbell, hosted by Ella Curry of EDC Creations

»Ella: Introduce us to the primary message in your book, Advice from the Top.
One of the key messages in my book relates to how the minority women define success. A common theme was the idea of setting your own goals and achieving them. Nearly all of the women did not equate money with success despite the fact that they all had achieved considerable financial wealth.

»Ella: What lead you to create Advice from the Top now?
I wrote this book to help minority women realize their career dreams. Often we minority women are confronted with race and gender barriers that impact our career aspirations. By learning from the career experiences of other women, we can move ahead at a faster pace. I include specific tips that will help women overcome some of the barriers as well. 

»Ella: What impact will Advice from the Top have on the community?
I think my book will inspire women to set their career goals high. Chapter Three for example, shares the amazing stories of millionaire business owners like Cathy Hughes and Eunice Dudley. Also, former Prince George's School Superintendent Iris Metts is included. News anchor Andrea Roane and medical doctor, Beatrice Muglia, among others are included too. Readers will see how the women's family, mentors, professional networks, and personal drive propelled them to success. These women's stories will leave a lasting legacy for those who want to improve the status of women in our society. 

Advice from the Top offers tips and advice to minority women and others wondering what it takes to succeed in careers in both the for-profit and non-profit worlds. To gain the insights, Valencia Campbell reviewed research on career success. Then she interviewed fourteen extraordinary minority women, all of whom shared stories about the path to the top of their fields. But this book goes beyond the usual superficial profile of women achievers. Rather, it shares their views on what constitutes success, the factors they consider important to their success, the obstacles they encountered and overcame, and what women can do today to get ahead.

Advice from the Top will inspire minority women who want to advance their careers. The compelling stories described in this book will, further, help them avoid common pitfalls on the road to success. Better, it provides action steps designed to help readers vault the same hurdles with aplomb. Advice from the Top will also help organizations, educational institutions, and business organizations develop and support career and mentoring programs that promote the success of minority women.

»Ella: Is there a defining message that you want readers to grasp and share?
It's so important to me for my readers to start sharing their own stories of success whether it is in a news article, magazine article or their very own book. It is important that minority women across a wide range of occupational fields share their stories. 

»Ella: Before we end the interview, define SUCCESS. What part does GRATITUDE play in achieving success, in your opinion?
Like the women I interviewed, I believe that success is achieving goals that you set for yourself. You should not let others define success for you. When we receive support from our families, mentors, professional and or social networks, we can show our gratitude by helping someone else realize their career dreams. 

»Website: ; Email:  

Order from Amazon
ISBN-10: 0313358583 | ISBN-13: 978-0313358586

Intimate Conversation with Saundra E. Harris

Former two-term Vice President of the Black Writers Guild of Maryland, Saundra E. Harris, is the author of THE PARTY, which received the Romantic Times Magazine BOOKreview 2005 Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best African American Romance by a First Time Novelist. Ms. Harris recently completed her long awaited sequel to her first novel THE AFTER PARTY which is also receiving rave reviews.

She holds a Bachelors degree in Business Management and plans to pursue a Masters. Additionally, she is the President of SHE Media Group the parent company whose holdings include Saphari Books, Inc., an independent small press, and WSER Sassy Entertainment Radio™, a weekly internet radio show, focusing on bridging the communication gap between the sexes. Currently she is at work on her third and fourth novels, due to be released in 2010 and 2011, respectively. 

Tell us about your passion for writing.

SEH: I never knew how cathartic writing was until I was dared to actually write my stories that I told on paper. I was going through a bad relationship and an even worse breakup and it was so healing to be able to write down what happened. I was not only able to see his issue, but my own as well and my contribution to the demise of the relationship. Now I cannot go a day without writing something. Whether it’s an entry in my blog, or a thread topic on my Twitter or Face Book pages, or even an answer to a thread, I have to get my opinions out and my thoughts on paper. 

My main motivation for writing are men and sex, the very thought of the two stimulate my senses and gives me an awareness of life. It may sound strange, but the inner workings of relationships intrigue me, and the more I see women in miserable situations [sometimes of their own choosing] it inspires me to write more. I want to empower women with the knowledge that being single is not a dirty word and that your true friends will help you through all trials and tribulations.

Finish this sentence- My writing offers the following legacy to future readers... 
SEH: My writing is inspirational and I want to show future readers a true understanding of what it means to be a friend. I also want to leave the legacy to my family of the importance of writing and how diverse and talented the family is. It is my hope to jumpstart their imagination into a new world and a new realm of creativity.

Introduce us to your book The After Party
SEH: THE AFTER PARTY: Shaeyla, Benét, Kendra, Diandra, and Worthy have been friends for years, and are known as “the party girls”, but what happens when the party spirals out of control testing their sisterhood as well as their relationships? 

Shaeyla Andrews the preeminent event planner in the Mid- Atlantic region is roped into hosting yet another party celebrating love and life centered on her girls. Benet and Worthy barely survived the last party, while Kendra and Diandra found love and Shaeyla remained torn between two men. The After Party invites you back into the lives of five dynamic and sexy ladies… It’s a new year and the ladies have finally learned their lesson…or have they?

What Inspired You To Write This Story?
SEH: This story is actually the sequel to the first book THE PARTY, yet it has been so long between books that I wanted the readers to be able to read THE AFTER PARTY and still understand the storyline. I was inspired to write both books because of my own relationship and how I dealt with it at the time. I also noticed that women in my life were turning a blind eye to the odd habit forming vices – i.e. gambling, womanizing, alcoholism, and drug addiction, and to me they had sold their souls just to say they had a man AND they no longer had their girlfriends. I noticed that they only called on their friends when times were hard, but when times were good, they pushed their friends away. So that was another key aspect for writing the book. I wanted to show how true friendship and sistergirl’s related and how they acted with each other, that they could say anything they wanted without rancor and that it was an understanding between the ladies that we say things out of love and not hate. As a side bar, my girlfriends and I are known as “the party girls”.

What Issues In Today’s Society Have You Addressed In the Book?
SEH: I have addressed the issue of friendship; true and real friendship between women. Society tells women that we cannot be friends, and that we have to be leery of each other around our men and since that is not my point of reference, I wanted to write about women like me. Women who have friends that have lasted through all the ups and downs in life for more than thirty years, the type of women who try to cheer you up when you are down or give you a shoulder to cry on when your sad, or even the type that say “I told you so”. That is the type of woman that I am and that is the type of female sistergirl friends that I surround myself with. 

How Difficult Was It to Complete The Novel?
SEH: This novel was actually completed in 2003 when I finished my first novel, but I was not satisfied with it, so I sat it on the shelf. I did not revisit the manuscript again until 2007 and after a year and half of rewrites and edits; the story came together to the point that I was excited and in love with my characters again. So there was a six year hiatus between my first novel THE PARTY and the sequel THE AFTER PARTY. What I don’t think people understand is that you have to have a passion for your art and I can only write what I would want to read as a reader. I am an incurable romantic and despite the drama in my books I always want them to have a happy ending. So choosing to write a dramatic romance was easy, because my favorite author’s are romance writers, such as Brenda Jackson and Rochele Alers.

Share with us your latest news, awards, or upcoming book releases?
SEH: My alter-ego SassyScribe will be publishing her very first novel. It is a non-fiction book entitled SITUATIONS with SASSY which discusses dating, love, sex, and relationships, and is currently in the editing stages, with a release date set for Feb 2011. For 2012, I hope to have two more novels completed - SUMMERS OFF and DELIVERANCE AME are both in rough manuscript form and deals with marriage and infidelity and the church respectively and will make for great summer reading.

Follow Saundra aka SassyScribe Online 

Intimate Conversation with Nikkea Smithers

Nikkea Smithers is a spoken word artists and Essence Magazine Best Selling Author She has performed on stages in front of thousands. Her literary work often speaks to issues in the community that are often under-discussed. Her readers have fallen in love with her ‘tell it like it is’ approach to writing making her readers lifelong fans. 

Black Pearls Magazine Interview hosted by Ella Curry, CEO of EDC Creations

Ella: Hello Nikkea! Introduce us to your book, On The Flip Side.

Nikkea: On The Flip Side deals with a situation that many men face but little light is shed on. We often hear the story about the single mother doing it for her kids on a daily basis. While I would never want to take anything away from them, what we don't often hear about is the single father who is standing up to his responsibilities and being burdened with social issues beyond his realm of control. What if the mother is not the one holding it down? What if the father has the kids but the mother has the greed? On The Flip Side deals with a different kind of baby momma drama and show that real men are fathers and not just baby daddies. 

Ella: Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?
Nikkea: Tavares was on the path to be a very successful young man. A one night stand turns his life up side down and he finds himself in a position where he has to be accountable. As he struggles to be a respectable father the mother of his children does everything in her power to break him down. The twist to this tale is he just isn't just a single father, he is also paying child support as if his kids don't live with him and in two different states. 

Danica is a very interesting woman with a serious God complex. She truly believes that she is better than everyone around her. Not only does her complex cause her to throw stereotypes around like they are going out of style but it causes her to play the role of karma. The problem with playing karma is that it's bound to come back on you if you aren't living right. 

My favorite is Tavares because he is the epitome of real man. He immediately steps up to the plate and makes things happen. As you read the book you genuinely feel for him. His kids come first, plain and simple. Who doesn't love a man like that?

Ella: Are your characters from the portrayal of real people? What inspired you to write this story?
Nikkea: The characters aren't based on real people but are influenced by conversations. I love talking to people and my husband and I often throw these parties where there are debates on different topics. Of course one of the most popular topics of debate is child support. The men thought they paid too much. The women thought it wasn't enough. One man talked about how he was paying support in both NY and VA. He talked about how neither state would take into consideration the order in the other state. This blew my mind! My mother was even present and shared her views on the subject which opened my eyes even more. I see story lines in the strangest of things so I thought, what if was the other way around? What if the man had his kids and was still paying child support? So I wrote the poem On The Flip Side and was surprised at the response it got from men that were going through this very thing. Then a friend of mine and I were talking after she saw me perform the poem and was telling me about a friend of hers going through this only his child's mother left the kids at the hospital after birth! I immediately thought oh this needs to be a book! I then took the poem and turned it into this book.

Ella: What issues in today's society have you addressed in the book?
Nikkea: Child support is the obvious issue addressed in the book but there are several subliminal messages. I love dealing with subliminal messages and try my best to place a few in every novel I write. One issue is accountability. Society is really hard on women in regards to promiscuity but men don't always get the same scrutiny. I want to show young men that they have to be responsible for their actions as well. That one night of passion could mean kids with a woman you don't know or worse, a death sentence of H.I.V. Another issue that is addressed is karma. We really need to understand that what we throw out into the universe will come back to us pressed down, shaken together and running over.

Ella: What was your primary quest in publishing this book?
Nikkea: I love to break down barriers and talk about things that no one is talking about. At least not in this sense. I wanted the roles to be reversed and stretch my imagination. Especially with Danica's character, I had to dig deep for her because she is so far from me and what I would naturally do. I wanted this book to be true to the characters and show them for who they are regardless of the outcome. I love being able to uplift my brothers and say kudos to those doing the right things. Through Tavares I get to connect with readers and share with them the story of a good man. 

Ella: What sets your book apart from other books in your genre? 
Nikkea: It's all about the message. My work is educational but entertaining. I want to enlighten people. I want them to finish one of my books thinking about the subject matter and want to take action. How can we change things if we don't start by talking about them? I actively strive to write away from what's popular and get to the bottom of social issues that need to be addressed.

Ella: What do you like to do when you're not writing? 
Nikkea: When I'm not writing I love to read! I'm the biggest book worm. My husband and I joke that our house looks like the Library of Congress. I don't discriminate. I have poetry from Langston Hughes to Nikki Giovanni. I have nonfiction from George Jackson to Steve Harvey. I have fiction from John Gresham to E. Lynn Harris. With me being a self published author I am also a huge supporter of self published authors because I understand their grind. I also enjoy culture. I love museums, art viewings, jazz clubs, and poetry readings. I love the movies too! 

Ella: What does your family think of your writing? 
Nikkea: My family is very supportive. My husband has a prized collection of all of my books in his 'man room' that he shows off to all his friends. He gets the first copy in every edition of all of my works. When he sees something has discouraged me he tells me to shake it off and keep doing what I do. My mother buys my books in bulk like she doesn't know me! They are my two biggest supporters. I appreciate being surrounded by positivist and they keep me inspired to keep on writing.

Ella: What is the best piece of advice you would give to an aspiring author?
Nikkea: Do your research, stay positive and value the message over all else.

Ella: Share with us your latest news, awards or upcoming book releases. 
Nikkea: I was excited to find out that two of my books (Keith's Story and Attitudes of a Woman) were awarded with the Literary Hallmark & Legends Top Books 2009 award by your Magazine. That honor was one of the highlights of my year! Within the next year I have three more books that will be released. I also look forward to touring and performing. I want to dedicate my time in the new year connecting with my readers. Book clubs who select my book as their book of the month can reach out to me so that I can make plans to either be present or available for a teleconference. Email: ;  Website:   

Purchase the book at: Amazon Online
Purchase the book at: Barnes & Noble Online

15 Ways to Communicate Effectively with Your Spouse

1. Listen attentively while your spouse is speaking, rather than concentrating on what you are going to say in response. This way, you can hear what your spouse is really saying. You may be also able to hear what your spouse is not saying, as well as what he is.

2. Learn to speak the same things (for example, you want to live debt free or have a happy, fulfilling marriage). If you are speaking the same things, you are in agreement. The scriptures ask, “Can two walk together unless they are in agreement?” The answer is no. Therefore, agreement is very important in a marriage.

3. Make eye-to-eye contact when you are speaking. Eyes will reveal anger, pain, sickness, and so on. Eye-to-eye contact also creates a connection between you and your spouse.

4. Think before you speak, thereby giving yourself time to speak your words with love. People are easily offended. Once anger or offense enters the conversation, the person who is offended stops listening and goes on the defensive. So think carefully before you speak.

5. Pray together. Again, this brings agreement, but more importantly, brings God into the conversation.

6. Dream together and write a vision. Understanding the purpose for your marriage should drive you and your spouse to accomplish God’s will for your life. Whether His reason is for you to raise your children a certain way, to start a business, to start a non-profit organization, to start a prayer meeting in your community, or to sing, every couple has a purpose.

7. Know your spouse and why she does what she does (for example, is it based on her upbringing? military background? being from a single-parent home? growing up poor?). Knowing this will help you to communicate more effectively. For example, if your spouse grew up poor, then you can understand why she responds a certain way when you spend a lot of money. Because of your spouse’s past, she might be used to people telling her to not spend as much or feelings of poverty may rear their ugly head.

8. Communicate with your spouse—he is not a mind reader. You must communicate your wants and desires.

9. Know what your spouse expects from you (such as dinner every night, or a phone call to let her know you are okay). You have been with your spouse long enough to know what she expects.

10. Understand what your mate is trying to say. Men are definitely from Mars and women are different from Venus. We can speak the same things, but in different ways. Understanding your spouse’s background and gender, and knowing his heart, will help you to decipher what he is really trying to say. For example, your spouse may have a hard time expressing love verbally but may be able to express it physically, giving you hugs or kisses that say, “I love you.”

11. Forgive one another. Every marriage, including yours, will get to a point at which your spouse will do something to hurt you. At the end of that day, make up in your mind to forgive your spouse. If you don’t, that unforgiveness will grow day by day until your heart is hardened or your ears get dull and you no longer want to hear what he has to say. Those are walls that start the separation process. Don’t let that happen. Forgive and move on. God says that He gives us new mercies every day; therefore, because He has given freely, you should give freely, too.

12. Complement and say “I love you” and “I appreciate you” often. By doing this every day, this is something that can keep a marriage peaceful and strong.

13. Know the best time to talk with your mate. If your spouse is not a morning person, 7 AM is not the best time to have a serious conversation. If your spouse needs an hour after work to relax, wait to have that heart-to-heart.

14. Conduct family meetings regularly. This allows you to discuss what’s going on with the child(ren), plan dates and vacations, agree about large purchases, and other important matters.

15.  Control your emotions. Keep your mouth shut! DO NOT discuss issues when either of you is upset. If your spouse is trying to discuss a matter while angry, find a way to let her cool off first. For example, excuse yourself to the bathroom and go pray. If you are the one who is upset, definitely pray first and wait until you are able to speak nicely. 
© Jewell R. Powell, the Marriage Coach and author of Marriage 101: Building a Life Together by Faith. For more information, visit  


 What is financial freedom? More than just a dollar amount on your paycheck, financial freedom is a state of mind. It’s the comfort of knowing you’re debt-free. Getting started with eliminating debt is easier than you think. If you follow these seven simple steps, you’ll be on your way.  

1. Change the way you look at money – renew your mind!
We tend to think of money as the enemy, a scapegoat for all of our financial woes. Learn to look at money as a means to living comfortably, not the cause of your struggles. Ultimately, we are the ones who decide where our money goes. It’s not like dollar bills sprout legs and go buy a new TV, right? Money discussions can be uncomfortable for many married couples, but talking is an important first step. A good book on this is “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind” by T. Harv Eker 
or “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki.  

2. Get out of debt – owe no man anything!
Living with debt is more than a financial drain and mounting interest. It’s also constant worrying over whether you can pay your bills. Here’s the most effective (and simple) way to tackle your debt:  

Start by paying off the credit card with highest interest rate. Set some specific goals here. How much extra can you pay each month? Always make more than the minimum payment. Once that card has been paid off, start working on the bill with the next highest interest. Throughout this process, you should be paying the minimum on all of the credit card bills you have. Check out this free e-course on getting out of debt ( ).  

3. Don’t create any more debt – be a wise steward!
Now that you credit card balance is down to zero, you want to keep it that way. To remain debt-free, all you have to do is spend less than you take in. Easier said than done? Maybe. This is another opportunity to have a good heart-to-heart talk with your spouse about both of your spending habits.  

Some people recommend cutting up all your credit cards. However, keeping one credit card as a safety net in case of emergency is perfectly fine. Keep only one card, take it out of your wallet, and put it some place less accessible – such as your family’s fire safe. The time it takes to get out the card will serve as a “cooling off” period.  

4. Create a budget – count the cost!
Budget can be an unpleasant word – like ‘diet’. But don’t think of it as depriving yourselves – think of it as investing in yourselves. Which sounds better: one dinner at your favorite steak house or going to be every night knowing you’re debt-free? Think of your budget as an opportunity to cast a vision together as a couple. What’s important to both of you? Your spending should reflect your values, what you hold most dear in your heart. Here’s a simple software program you can use for creating and keeping your budget together ( ).  

5. See where it goes – make a list and check it twice!
For an entire month, track everything you both spend money on – down to the last penny. Evaluate whether you are prone to making impulse purchases. Also, look at whether advance planning will help. For instance, plan your meals at least a week in advance. Multiple trips to the grocery store mean multiple opportunities for impulse purchases.

 6. Start saving – plan for the future!
Build yourselves a nice cushion of cash. After you’ve lowered your debt and begun living on a budget, you should money to put into a savings account each month. When an emergency arises, you’ll have cash to cover the expenses – no need to borrow money or use a credit card.  

Seek wise counsel about different kinds of accounts you can use to save money tax-free. For example, you can contribute to a 401(k) and steadily build a nice nest egg – and the difference in your net paycheck is so small you might not even notice it.  

You’re not limited to stocks, bonds, and savings accounts, either. There are a lot of pretty creative ways to save money that you might not have considered before. Check out for some great ideas.  

7. Get insurance – get yourself into good hands!
If you don’t both have enough health insurance, one accident or illness could devastate you financially. Even if you have insurance through work, evaluate whether it’s enough to prevent a financial crisis. Consider getting supplemental insurance if you believe you’re underinsured. Also, don’t overlook disability insurance. Should you find yourself unable to work, debt is guaranteed to mount. You might think extra insurance is too expensive – but you’re wrong! For most young adults, life insurance and disability insurance cost less than a dollar a day. You’ll never know unless you ask – so call around and start learning about your options.  

Small changes add up quickly. Don’t let bad money habits wreck your marriage. You’ve got to both be committed to this goal if you’re going to make it happen. Financial freedom is closer than you think. Don’t wait a minute longer to achieve your dream – start on these seven steps today!  

© Jewell R. Powell, the Marriage Coach and author of Marriage 101: Building a Life Together by Faith. For more information, visit


T. Nicole author of My Own Terms

T. Nicole has always had a love for writing. As a young child she could be found in her room writing anything from poetry to short stories and graphic novels. Her love for the written word has continued to grow and she now has decided to share her projects with the world.

My Own Terms has been said to be "happening and fresh", giving the reader a good blend of action, suspense and romance. This novel takes your typical girl done wrong story and intertwines scenarios that leave the reader wanting more. Three thousand miles isn't far enough for Shana, the main character, to escape the life she once loved. How will she get away and move on?

Intimate Conversation with Ella Curry of EDC Creations

Ella: T. Nicole, are your characters from the portrayal of real people?

All the characters in My Own Terms have personality traits of people that I have come in contact with in my life at some time or another.

Ella: What inspired you to write this story?
Inspiration for this story came in many different forms. Life experiences from myself and those of friends and family contributed to the story line. The story just about wrote itself.

Ella:  What is your most valuable lesson about the publishing industry?
The most valuable lesson I have learned in this industry is to educate yourself as much as possible. The more educated you are about the publishing industry, the less likely you will be taken advantage of. Always do your research!

Ella:  What makes a successful writer?
Three things that make a successful author, in my opinion, are: Confidence in their work; Knowledge of the business, whether you are publishing your own work or not; The ability to take people's opinions about your work, whether they are good or bad.

Ella:  What is your most significant achievement as a writer?
My most significant achievement as a writer is the fact that I decided to take myself seriously as well as my writing. This allowed me to move forward and publish my work.

For more information on T. Nicole go to 

T. Nicole Author of:
My Own Terms
Scattered Thoughts Of Unpromising Romance
Moments of Clarity

Ni'cola Mitchell author Over and Over Again

A Jamaican native, Ni'cola Mitchell published her debut novel Over and Over Again through her independent publishing company NCM Publishing. Much of her work revolves around situations that are a compulsive desire to see women over come challenges. She holds a Bachelors degree of Science in Business Management and is currently pursuing a Masters of Business Administration in Health Care Management. 

Introduce us to your story and the main characters. 
NM: Over and Over Again is a fictional work based on life experiences of people and me that I have met throughout my life. It is set in present day Las Vegas, and it revolves around my main character Dionni Stone. She is a successful business owner that appears to the outside world that she has everything under control, but in actuality, it is not always what it seems. Her boyfriend of several years Dale, has had a string of affairs throughout the duration of their relationship, and has made Dionni somewhat insecure. Dionni finally decides to move on when she catches him in the act of infidelity.

Her two best friends Eva and Tiana tries to ensure that she doesn't fall back under Dale's charming spell, and with the help of their beautician David, introduces Dionni to Zay an investment banker. Dionni believes that she has found her knight in shining armor but in the end has been sucked into a black hole filled with even more lies and secrets leaving Dionni feeling as if she is going out of her mind. The message that I am trying to portray in this story is very simple. In life everyone in the world, especially women are faced with trials, tribulations, and hardships, but what allows them to be classified as a strong woman, is the way they overcome and rise above it.

Are your characters from the portrayal of real people? What inspired you to write this story?
NM: All my characters are fictional, but I did take situations, mannerisms, and characteristics from real life people to create them. What inspired me to write this story is to demonstrate to my children that if they follow their heart; anything is possible.

What issues in today's society have you addressed in the book?
NM: I addressed many issues in this book such as infidelity, deceit, low moral and self worth, sex, lies, relationships, and prostitution.

What is your most valuable lesson about the publishing industry?
That if you stay grounded, focused, and believe in your self, you can put out a successful book that can hold its own among other works in your genre. 

Share with us your latest news, awards or upcoming book releases.
NM: I was selected to be featured in the second edition of Who's Who in Black Las Vegas. Over and Over Again was also featured #10 by EDC Creations Recommended Reading list for the 2009 fall season under Mainstream Fiction and Women's Fiction. My next book entitled The Appetizer, when your not his main course, comes out in February, and Twisted is coming out in the summer of 2010. 

Contact info for Ni'cola Mitchell, Author of Over and Over Again 
Stimulating Your Mind, One Word at a Time


Links to booksellers 

Intimate Conversation with S. Dodson

S. Dodson is originally from Arkansas and currently resides in Virginia. She is pursuing her doctorate in education. She holds a BA in psychology and a MA in counseling. She is the owner of a small publishing house Mahogney Ink Publications. Her upcoming releases are Cheating On My Mistress (the sequel), and From Minority to Thinking Like The Majority. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, cooking and spending time with loved ones.

Ella:  Introduce us to your story, message and the main characters. 
Cheating On My Mistress is about the life of a retired NBA player named Carmelo Miller. 
He has the money, cars, house, and the family. Looking from the outside in, everything seems perfect. There is one small issue. Carmelo is bored with his sex life. Instead of talking it out with his wife, he steps outside of his marriage and starts a relationship with two women: Monique and Augustine. 

Monique is a young vixen. She is freaky, but ambitious. She uses what she got in hopes of making it big and becoming a video girl. She is a typical mistress believing that one day Carmelo will leave his wife for her. In contrast you have Augustine. She is pretty enough to be on the arm of any well established man. She is the type that doesn‘t have marriage anywhere on her agenda. These outside relationships result in Carmelo learning what is done in the dark will eventually come to light. The message I want readers to get is when you do wrong it will come back on you no matter how smart you think you are. 

Ella:  What issues in today's society have you addressed in the book? 
In Cheating On My Mistress, I address the issues associated with cheating. I give you the good, the bad and the ugly: the risk of having unprotected sex, being seen as the “man”, and the revenge. In addition, I give you the perspectives of the mistress, the wife, and the cheater.

Ella:  Are your characters from the portrayal of real people?
Cheating On My Mistress and the characters are a work of fiction. The story came to me in a dream. The next morning I got out of bed and began putting my thoughts on paper. My main characters are Carmelo, Augustine, and Monique. Each of these characters bring something different to the story.

Ella:  What is your most valuable lesson about the publishing industry?
The most valuable lesson I learned is that you need to do research before you get involved with anything that is unfamiliar. When I decided to write a book, I searched the internet and went to the library. I wanted to know as much as possible about the industry. 

Ella:  Share with us your latest news, awards or upcoming book releases.
I recently began promoting my company Mahogney Ink Publications. Mahogney Ink Publications is a small publishing house searching for raw and new talent. The company is searching for everything from poetry to street lit. Also, I am getting ready to promote my 2010 novel Cheating On My Mistress (the sequel). I also plan to release a self help book in 2011 titled From Minority to Thinking Like The Majority. 


Book seller links:
Precious Memories Bookstore

                                 Intimate Conversation with Stefanie Newell

Stefanie Newell was born and raised in Chicago, IL. She graduated from DePaul University with a B.A. in Finance. While finance has been her day job, she has been a writer for many years in different facets. Stefanie first co-wrote a song for Latin recording artist, Yohany and later began freelance writing for Unrated Magazine and her entertainment blog The Music Hot Spot. After observing the entertainment industry and lurking on various message boards and blogs over the years, Stefanie came up with the idea for her debut novel The Buzz. Published by Write One Publications, Inc., The Buzz has created an incredible buzz amongst book readers and fans of celebrity gossip. Stefanie is currently working on her second novel Rules of the Game.

The Buzz is the story of three people all searching for buzz in their own ways. Ebony Jenkins has exactly what most women are seeking - a good looking devoted boyfriend, a flourishing business and a beautiful little girl. But people don't know about the lies and deception behind her faux celebrity lifestyle. Despite her loving the glitz and glam, she despises celebrities and her Internet addiction is feeding her dislike more and more everyday. Buzz is an up and coming rapper and Ebony's boyfriend. He's a great boyfriend and father to their child but he feels unappreciated. Arika is an R&B singer who's just hit the music scene. She's busy living her dream and adapting to her new celebrity life. Chaos erupts when all of their lives cross paths and Ebony suspects that Buzz is cheating with Arika. To what lengths will Ebony go to ruin Arika's career?

Ella:  Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?
A: I liked all of them in their own way but my favorite character hands down would have to be Ebony. She's fiery and has a very strong personality. You either love her or hate her! There's really no in between with her! She's a successful hair stylist, but nothing is ever good enough for her. She wants to be known as the baddest chick in the Chi. She despises celebrities and spends most of her day gossiping on the Internet. 

Arika is a lot more timid. She's really trying to adjust and stay grounded in her new celebrity lifestyle. She's the R&B newcomer in the music industry. She's everywhere! On TV, the radio, magazines and her hometown of Chicago is really showing her a lot of love. Buzz is Ebony's boyfriend and an up and coming rapper. He's passionate. He's dedicated. And he's loyal. He's an all around good guy but he has a girlfriend who doesn't appreciate him. So imagine the turmoil.

Ella: Are your characters from the portrayal of real people?
A: Yes Ebony definitely is! Not someone I know personally but people I observed on the internet. I am a freelance writer and blogger and I often visit message boards and blogs looking for content for my site. But I would get sidetracked because some of the people I would encounter on these sites were characters waiting to happen. Their comments were witty and funny, their opinions were strong. These are people that really enjoy reading and commenting on celebrity gossip! So I thought it would be interesting to tell The Buzz from the perspective of a person spreading the celebrity gossip. Who would this person be? What would motivate them to create a rumor? 

Ella:  What is the best piece of advice you would give to an aspiring author?
A: I would encourage them to approach the process as creatively and genuine as possible. When I was writing The Buzz, I would engross myself in the characters. There were things that happened in the book that even I didn't see coming. (laughs)

Ella:  Share with us your latest news, awards or upcoming book releases. 

A: I'm really excited about the newest release from my company. Its a self-help book entitled Pull Your Pants Up and Be a Man! by Bernice Harris. This book is truly inspiring and a must have for every young man! Its a book that inspires thought and change but also provides steps for the young men to take towards having a prosperous life. The foreword was written by actor Malik Yoba and his contribution was a seamless compliment to the words of the author! 

The Buzz and Pull Your Pants Up can be purchased at And you can find me at,  and 

Intimate Conversation with authors
Tracie E. Christian and Adra Young

Black Pearls family join me in welcoming the dynamic writing team of Tracie E. Christian and  Adra Young. Tracie Christian is a native of Detroit, Michigan and has nine years in the field of education and seven years experience of special events planning. Entering into the world of independent publishing in 2007, Ms. Christian's first book titled, The Black College Sabbatical Fall Quarter, has taken the country by storm. Her second release, The Black College Sabbatical Winter Quarter was released in March of 2009. Effortlessly working on this fiction trilogy series, Ms. Christian is wife, mother, poet, motivational speaker,  widely known and acclaimed advocate for the Detroit  Arts Community. Currently, Tracie Christian is on her Live Ladies of  Literary Tour with partner AdraYoung.

Adra Young is a native of Gary, Indiana and educator of 14 years for the Detroit Public Schools. Wanting the issues of children to be heard and represented, Ms. Young wrote her first book, The Everyday Living of Children & Teens Monologues in 2005. In 2006 Ms. Young created ARDANNYL, a after school performing arts company that provides acting, singing, dance, and creative arts.  Ms. Young's second release, The Everyday Living of Children & Teens Monologues Volume II was released in November of 2008.  Ms. Young is currently on her Live Ladies of Literary Tour with partner Tracie Christian.

" ... as  literary artist, we are showing the world how secure sisters can have each others backs."

Ms. Christian in collaboration with Literary Partner and Ms. Adra Young, kicked off the LIVE LADIES of LITERATURE BOOK TOUR where the ladies host signings, readings and selling of their fiction and non-fiction titles, The Black College Sabbatical (Christian) and The Everyday Living of Children and Teens Monologues (Young). Aside from the release of the second installment to her book series, Winter Quarter in March 2009, Christian also launched the "Say It Loud...I'm Black College Proud" seminar series for junior and senior high school aged youth to become informed, entertained and engaged in exploring the numerous educational opportunities made available through historically black colleges and universities.

Ella: Tell us about your passion for writing. Why do you write? What drives you? What impact do you want your book to make on the readers?

Tracie Christian's Passion for Writing:

Ms. Christian's everlasting ability to always have something to say not only purged her passion to write her first book and others to come.

Adra Young's Passion for Writing:
Adra Young simply wanted to be the voice for the unheard child.

Ella:  Finish this sentence- My writing offers the following legacy to future readers... 

Tracie Christian's Legacy to Future Readers

Ms. Christian's writing offers real life reminders of the awkwardness and vulnerability of the human condition. In other words, art imitates life. Seeing the real life depictions offered through Ms. Christian's writing's allows readers to connect and draw back to realistic situations and endings.

Adra Young's Legacy to Future Readers

Ms.Young's legacy is to ensure that the unforgotten child is exposed in her writings.  That is the legacy that Adra Young wants to leave behind to all her readers.

Ella: Ladies, Introduce us to your books and the messages within.

Tracie E. Christian's Book Introduction

Tracie E. Christian, a native of Detroit, Michigan attended both Central State and Wayne State Universities, studying both speech Communications.  A former educator with Detroit Public Schools, Tracie is founder/ CEO of KTE foundation for literacy Discovery incorporated, a non-profit Literacy Arts organization dedicated to producing innovative special events that support their mission of "Keeping it R.E.A.L."  Revitalizing Excitement Around Literacy for the Detroit area youth.  Tracie resides in Detroit with her family.

Ms. Christian's book series, The Black College Sabbatical, is based upon a fiction adventurous plot of four young ladies learning life experiences while attending a historical black institution. Currently, Ms. Christian's topic for discussion pertaining to her book series is, the following, "Please provide in your own words in 60 seconds or less your knowledge content on Historical Black Institutions.

Adra Young's Book Introduction 
Adra Young is a native of Gary, Indiana.  She is an author and acting coach. Young was accepted and attended the prestigious Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio. In 2005, Ms. Young wrote her first book, The Everyday living of Children & Teens Monologues. The concept was to provide a acting guide for today's youth that placed a direct emphasis on appropriate socialization skills. Her second book, The Everyday Living of Children & Teens Monologues Volume II is a sequel to the first was released in 2008.  Modeling the same concept as the first, Volume II is a realistic testament of dilemma's20and situations that today's youth have been exposed to.  Currently, Ms. Young's topic for discussion is the following, "How many individuals are aware of the traumatic issues are kids, tweens, and teens are exposed to today?"

Ella: How did Tracie Christian start her writing journey?

Tracie Christian started her writing journey at the age of nine. Ms. Christian would both write and illustrate short stories based upon her experiences with her friends.

Ella: How did Adra Young start her writing journey?
Adra Young started her writing journey as an acting coach at the age 30 . She offered to write the scripts and dialogues for a local entertainment company in Detroit and from that point her creativity in writing took off.

Ella: Why was it important  for Tracie Christian to create her books?
Ms. Christian reasoning for creating her books is to share her insight lessons and ideology with the world in hopes of making their lives better.

Ella: Why was it important for Adra Young to create her books?
Ms. Young believed and felt that the voice of the unheard youth needed to be addressed.  She simply wanted to be there advocate.

Ella: How will Tracie Christian's books impact  parent-child relationships?
Ms. Christian books impact parent-child relationships by providing an informal setting for touchy topics associated with adolescence while growing up to be addressed and explored.

Ella: How will Adra Young's books impact parent-child relationships?
Adra Young's books will impact parent -child relationships by allowing parents and children both to observed and see the issues at hand of the youth today together which shall in result initiate a positive beginning of effective communication and understanding necessary and needed for productive loving parent/child bonds.

Ella: What can we expect from Author Tracie Christian in the future?
Tracie Christian and partner Adra Young are in the process of creating their non-profit organization titled, (UWAN) United Writers Artist Network, an organization solely designed to support artist in all arenas.  In addition, Ms. Christian and Ms. Young want to take their seminar titled, "The Guide to the Book in You Series, on tour nationally. Tracie Christian's third book from her series, The Black College Sabbatical will be released in 2010. And her fourth coming book, A Toast to the Fool will be released in 2012.

Ella: What can we expect from Author Adra Young in the future?
Adra Young and partner Tracie Christian are in the process of creating their non-profit organization titled, (UWAN) United Writers Artist Network, an organization solely designed to support artist in all arenas. In addition, Ms. Young and Ms. Christian want to take their seminar titled, The Guide to the Book In You Series ,on tour nationally. Adra Young's goals for the future are to write her first fiction book titled " The Misfits"

Ella: Tell us about Tracie Christian's awards and latest news?
Ms. Christian won the Spirit of Detroit Award in both 1999 and in 2004.  In addition she was also nominated as the 2002 poet of the year with Poetry.Com.  In 2008,RawSistaz Book Club, a  renown nationally review club stated that Christian's First book, The Black College Sabbatical Fall Quarter was simply hard to put down.  Ms. Christian was the 2009 Spot light featured author for Book Event's Center, and Black Author's Showcase.  Ms. Christian's first free lance article shall be released in 2009 in City Talk Magazine, a local magazine established in  Detroit  by Katrina Brown, that caters to the positive activities taking place within the South-East of Michigan.

lla: Tell us about Adra Young's awards and latest news?
Ms. Young was featured in the National Rolling Out Magazine in 2008. Her second release, The Everyday Living of Children & Teens Monologues Volume II was name the Monologues Guide To Have for the youth by City Kids World Magazine in 2009.

Purchase books by Tracie E. Christian at Amazon

Purchase books by Adra Young at Amazon

Infidelity by Ericka Williams
Author Website: 

"Once a cheater, always a cheater" is a popular saying. Is it true? Some people believe that if you are not married, then you are single and free to "see" whomever you want to, until you take vows and become committed to your spouse. Others believe that if you are in a relationship with someone, it is cheating to talk to someone of the opposite sex; especially if the conversation is one that cannot be had in the presence of your significant other. To this group, going out on a date or any intimate contact with someone else is wrong and drama will unfold. 

Nowadays, with Facebook, My Space, and a million other social networking sites, not to mention, everything else that we can do online, it is very hard to trust or be in a committed relationship with someone at all—married or single. One cannot possibly make sure that their "other half" is not involved with someone else with all the possible ways to "mix and mingle". 

So what is a person to do in this day of AIDS epidemics? How do you guarantee that you’re safe and in a monogamous relationship? Some believe that "snooping" is unacceptable, but I beg to differ. Yes, we all would love to be able to just trust and believe that our partner is being true. But, isn't a cheater also a liar? So how can someone who is cheating on you tell you the truth? I will be frank in saying that if I suspect that my "man" is cheating, that I will do my homework. I will do what I have to do to protect myself, my interests, and my health. I am very open when it comes to being in a relationship, because if there is nothing to hide. I don't have to hide my cell phone, or have a lock on it. What about the right to privacy? I don't need it if I am being faithful. My business is my man's business. What are your thoughts on this?

Yes, men and women are different and men oftentimes feel trapped in relationships, so it doesn't necessarily mean that he is cheating because he doesn't want you reading his texts from his "ex." Then again, "Why can't I?" if there's nothing in them indecent. I think the problem really lies in lying to begin with. A man, or woman for that matter who is not ready to be in a committed relationship, should not commit to being in one. The reason many people "go along" with being in a relationship, when they are not ready for one, is to hold on to the person they love, until they are ready to be loyal. But that is just a selfish way to live. It will only come back to bite you when you get caught out there. It is not fair to the person who you are supposed to love and it is cruel to put their health in danger because you are not ready. An Essence poll showed that many Black men who cheat admitted that they do not always or regularly use condoms when they cheat. That is just not fair.

There are so many distractions and attractions for people, but there is also such a thing as self-control. Actually, it is understandable that people will have urges, but do they have to act them out? Why is it that a man will throw away his whole family for a night of indiscretion? Why is it that having one woman is not enough? I must side with some men who say that their women get comfortable, and no longer are concerned with keeping them satisfied, once they have the man. It happens. I must also say that there is a noticeable lack of respect from the single woman in regards to married men, with wives at home! Unfortunately nowadays, anything goes, relationships are temporary, and people are only together until they break up. What happened to true commitment and to “death do us part?” Are we really doomed to lives of expected infidelity? What’s sad is that nothing is sacred, cherished, or sustained. Many children will not know what it is like to have two parents in the same home; just as many children of divorce must see the breakup of their families. All while, some just continue to "stick and move." Are there any people in this world who want to stick together, through thick and thin and live out the real til’ death do us part? It doesn't look that way. If you are in a committed and loving relationship, speak up and tell us about it! Bring back the HOPE to our relationships.

Meet the Author
Ericka Williams is a determined business woman and author. She never takes no for an answer. When she sets her mind on a goal, she doesn't stop until it is reached. She is a graduate of Teaneck High School, in Teaneck New Jersey. She attended Howard University and graduated from Rutgers University. She is currently a teacher. Ericka has always had a yearning for knowledge, expression, and creativity. She is the author of three books the Essence Magazine bestseller “All That Glitters”, and the sequel “Shining Star”, as well as the forthcoming release A Woman Scorned.  ISBN-10: 1934230715 or ISBN-13:9781934239718. Pick up a copy at Amazon Online. 

Domestic Violence and Revenge: Two Sides of the Same Coin
By Ericka Williams
Author Website: 

Domestic Violence is a touchy and controversial subject. In society it is considered unacceptable and unconceivable for a man to physically batter his girlfriend or wife. The recent incident with singers Chris Brown and Rihanna was a publicized and highly debated event. Many famous people expressed discontent with, criticized, and verbally condemned Chris Brown; while siding with and supporting Rihanna, without being witnesses to the occurrence. I have two conflicting feelings in regards to domestic violence. Generally, I believe that it is wrong to hit a person that you are supposed to care for, because that person may be critically injured or killed. Many women have died at the hands of the men they loved. It is a dangerous habit and a problem that escalates over time, as many statistics prove. Relationships are so multi-faceted and often times built on foundations of lust, long before love. Add is a little stress, a few lies by omission and things get out of hand quickly. 

Many young women have the misconception that if a man puts his hand on them, it is because he loves them enough to lose control, because if he didn't care he wouldn't get that angry. Herein lies the problem: a man who does not know how to deal with his emotions or control his anger, is a man to fear. When a man starts the cycle of abuse often times the assaults become worse and worse as time goes on and more and more frequent. What may begin as a shove may turn into a punch and ultimately a murder. Emotions run high in matters of the heart and volatile relationships don't become healthy ones easily. When things are going great is not the time to decide whether you are with the right man. However, the time to assess who you really love is when there are issues or conflicts. No one should hurt you in order to show their love. Your spouse or mate should be able to deal with problems with their mind and not their fists. When the schoolyard fighting days are over, adults need to know how to handle situations. 

As an author, I write about these situations because I see them unfold daily; most likely not receiving the same publicity of Chris and Rihanna. My book, A Woman Scorned, addresses the issue of domestic violence from the female abuser’s point of view. The main character, Brielle Prescott, remained in an abusive marriage partially because of her physical abuse by her parents as a child. The emotional scars and distress from being battered lasts, affecting the victim for a lifetime, in many cases, in real life and in my fictional tales.

No matter how damaged the individual is there really an excuse to hit someone you are involved with? What if she/he cheats? What if she/he lies about where they were and who they were with? What if she spends the money that should have gone to bills? Is there really any justification for physical abuse except for the fact that it comes from lack of rationale. When a man lashes out, he may not intend to black an eye, bust a lip, break a limb, or commit a stabbing or shooting, but that does not mean it won't happen. As a woman who has dealt with more than one hostile and violent man in my lifetime, I know that it is by the grace of God that I was never badly hurt. However, I could have been. I choose not to excuse that behavior in my "seasoned" time as a woman. 

I decided to heed the warning signs and not leave my life in the hands of an irrational man, because life and death are only a breath and heartbeat away from each other, and in one split second you can be gone. Contrary to what I just expressed, however, I do understand what rage feels like. I have been wronged by past boyfriends, as well, and it is not a good feeling. I know how it feels to lose control and lash out with my fists. I have been on both sides of this issue and that’s why I wrote A Woman Scorned. My main character, Brielle, is a victim and a perpetrator. She becomes the very thing she had come to hate, an abuser. She resorts to revenge, which is also a form of domestic violence—if violence is the means to getting that revenge. 

How do we know what Rihanna did to Chris Brown to make him lash out? How do we know that she did not hit him first? Many might say that it doesn't matter because a woman is not capable of hurting a man the way a man is able to hurt a woman. However, is that true when a woman has a weapon? No, it is not. I have brought Domestic Violence and Revenge together because there is sometimes a marriage of the two in relationships. Domestic Violence is sometimes a reaction to a real injustice that is done to someone and Revenge is a reaction to the same. Therefore, what I believe we must do as a society is be more understanding, as opposed to condemning. Next, offer help to those who are on both sides of the issue. Chris Brown expressed a feeling of betrayal from Oprah for "all that he had done for her" because he said that he expected Oprah to offer him some advice or assistance in how to heal as well. Rihanna was not the only one who needed support. He is human, as we all are. 

I am not condoning abusers or anyone who inflicts pain on another. But let’s be real, it happens, on both sides! None of us can handle things the right way, at all times. Emotions run high the matter of love. So why is it that we find it okay, to kill the perpetrator? Isn't that violence too? What about trying to find the root of the problem? Let’s try to find the stressors that created the violence and address those issues, instead of rushing to judgment. I am sure many of you have opinions on revenge and what defines domestic violence. Share your views on the subject too, let’s talk about it.

Meet the Author
Ericka Williams is a determined business woman and author. She never takes no for an answer. When she sets her mind on a goal, she doesn't stop until it is reached. She is a graduate of Teaneck High School, in Teaneck New Jersey. She attended Howard University and graduated from Rutgers University. She is currently a teacher. Ericka has always had a yearning for knowledge, expression, and creativity. She is the author of three books the Essence Magazine bestseller “All That Glitters”, and the sequel “Shining Star”, as well as the forthcoming release A Woman Scorned. Pick up a copy at Amazon Online. 


Intimate Conversation with Eat and Compete

Eat and Compete's Story: 56% of New Yorkers are overweight or obese. 40% of them are elementary school children who are currently at risk for having shorter life spans than their parents; in addition to Diabetes, High Blood Pressure and a host of other serious health conditions. Eat and Compete is a producer of Natural Specialty Foods that started in response to the obesity crisis currently facing New York. We believe that eating well helps to put you in the right state of mind and body in order to be able to compete and succeed in the world, hence our name Eat and Compete

Ella:  What separates you and your firm from the competition? 
We offer products that are socially and environmentally responsible; creative, full of flavor, versatility and zest! We strive to always support community food education programs that target, support and empower disenfranchised inner city youth and their families with information they need to make better food choices.

Ella:  How would you describe your experience as an Entrepreneur? 
Eventful, challenging and rewarding.

Ella:  What do you like most about your profession? 
Meeting and conversing with people who want to live a better life and are now more mindful about the types of food that they put into their bodies. 

Ella:   What is your biggest challenge in business? How did you overcome it? 
One of our biggest challenges in business is getting the word out that our company exists. We have begun to overcome it by coming out to the community and letting people experience our products.

Ella:   What advice would you give someone just starting out in your industry? 
Failure is easy. Success takes a lot of work, focus, faith and prayer.

Ella:   What do you hope to offer your clients or customers to shape their lives? 
We offer versatile, great tasting and creative quality Natural Specialty products that transcend the spectrum of international taste buds while benefiting the mind and body. We add NO: ? Hydrogenated Trans-fats ? Sugar ? Caffeine ? Artificial additives and Colorings ? Sulfites or ? High Fructose Corn Syrup to our products.

Ella:   What are 3 things all leaders possess? 
Vision/focus, energy and consistency.

Ella:   How does your mission or vision keep your business growing? 
Our passion for producing quality natural specialty food products and helping people make better food choices keeps us inspired and out in the community which in turns builds our brand recognition and grows our business.

Eat and Compete™ 
Specialty Natural Food for the High Energy Lifestyle

We are "Your Better Choice"! 
Visit Us Online:

Who Was The Mysterious Queen Nefertiti?
By: Rob Mabry 

In 1924, a bust of a beautiful woman was put on display at the Egyptian Museum in Berlin. The bust depicts a woman with a long, slender neck and possessed of great beauty. In fact her name, "Nefertiti," means the "beautiful one has come."

Despite her vast beauty and the rise of her legend in modern times, details of Nefertiti’s life are scarce and were it not for the discovery of this exquisite bust, she may have faded from ancient history all together.

Queen Nefertiti was wife to the Pharaoh Akhenaten, ruler of Egypt around the time of 1350 B.C. It is believed that after his death, she may have ruled Egypt herself for a time. But history whispers that Nefertiti had many enemies, and that those enemies may have assisted in erasing both her life and her legacy.

What we do know of this elegant Egyptian queen comes mostly from the Aten Temple and an ongoing excavation at Amarna by the British Egypt Exploration Society. Some Egyptologists theorize that her name’s meaning, "the beautiful one has come" is evidence that she entered Egypt from a foreign land. Others believe she may have descended from royal blood. There is also a contingent of scholars that believe she was daughter to Ay, a powerful political figure, who became Pharaoh after the death of King Tut. A death in which they suspect he may have played a hand.

While details of her life before marriage are scant, her rise to power along with her husband, the Pharaoh Akhenaten, provides some insight into the mysterious queen. Their elevation of Aten, the sun disc god, as the "true god" proved controversial and many believe this monotheistic direction was plotted by Queen Nefertiti herself. This practice did not sit well with the Egyptian priesthood and surely garnered the ruling couple an army of powerful enemies.

Questions still shroud the life and death of this controversial and enigmatic queen of the Nile. Her name and history were erased from historical records and statues and busts that bore her likeness destroyed as Egypt returned to polytheism. Only traces of the intriguing story of her past remain. The cause of her death too remains a mystery. With so many powerful enemies in the priesthood, she may well have succumbed to the perils of her own ambition.

With so little historical evidence, we are left mostly with speculation and conjecture that draw an incomplete picture of an intriguing historical figure. Anyone who has the good fortune to visit the Egyptian Museum in Berlin and see the bust of this exquisite Egyptian queen will wonder at her beauty and wonder even more about her life as a queen of the Nile.

About the Author
Rob Mabry is owner of  Your Museum Store, an online store offering unique museum replicas and reproductions including dinosaurs fossils and art and artifacts. Not likely to make it to the Egyptian Museum in Berlin any time soon? Why not bring home the enticing beauty of the Nefertiti bust?


African American Diet
By: Shalisha Alston 

Greasy Foods - The Holy Grail Of African American Diet 
I do not know about you, but when I was growing up, my mom cooked fried chicken (no, not oven "fried" chicken, we are talking about southern deep fried chicken), macaroni and cheese topped with tons of butter and mounds of cheese, collard greens cooked in chicken fat, hot buttered biscuits and brown gravy for dinner - at least twice a week. 

Yes, I know you are salivating right about now. Here is another past time favorite to which I am sure you can relate - deep fried catfish, red beans and rice soaked in oil, candied yams with tons of butter, sugar, and cinnamon and deep fried pork chops. 

I can relate. I grew up in a family of 9 where food portions were humongous. I mean we are talking about a 9-year-old whose plate was filled to the edges that was even too much for an adult! Years later, with the same poor dietary habits intact, I ballooned up to 213 pounds! 

My Food History Repeated Itself 
So there I was 20 years later weighing 185 pounds. I thought I could control it. The smallest I had ever been was 140 pounds. But my weight went up and down my whole life. Finally, I crossed the line where I could not stop eating. I was addicted to fried foods, white flour and sugar, but I did not know that until 3 more years of food agony and an additional weight gain of 18 pounds. 

My Health Deteriorated 
I come from a long line of strokes, heart attacks, diabetes and high blood pressure. At age 29, severely overweight and a heavy smoker, I was headed down the same path as my ancestors. 

My Aha Moment 
There was a voice inside me that said, "Shalisha, you are lost when it comes to food. Get help." I did. I was introduced to a food plan that was abundant, healthy, delicious, and made me lose 90 pounds in 6 months. This was no diet. It was a lifestyle change. So here are the top 5 reasons I think the African American diet is in dire need of an overhaul: 

1.The African American diet is extremely high in fat 
2.The African American diet is extremely high in sugar 
3.The African American diet lacks fruit 
4.The African American diet lacks vegetables 
5.The African American diet is extremely high in sodium 

If you want to start eating healthy and lose weight: 
1.Stop deep frying and start broiling 
2.Cut out sugar and white flour 
3.Include at least 5 servings of vegetables daily 
4.Include at least 3 servings of fruit daily 
5.Drink plenty of water (8-12 cups) 
6.Take the salt shaker off the table 

One more thing - dare to be different! Demand that your neighborhood Key Food supermarket carry Fage Fat-Free Greek Yogurt. Demand that your friendly neighborhood Met Food supermarket carry organic fruits and vegetables. 

All it takes is one person to lead the way. Be a power of example and show other African Americans in the community that it is not only okay to eat healthy - it is a matter of life and death. By making those 6 small dietary adjustments, you will go a long way to improving your health and losing weight.

About the author
Shalisha Alston is an African American weight loss consultant ( She lost 90 pounds in 6 months and you can do the same. Download her ideal African American Diet and learn how. 
( Find out more at 

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50 Ways to Commit Suicide With Food
By: Shalisha Alston 

There is an old song called "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover." It was a very funny and popular song. Unfortunately, there are no popular songs called "50 Ways to Commit Suicide with Food." Maybe it would make us think about how we are killing ourselves with food! This article is about the many ways we commit suicide with food - and aren't even aware of it. It is so commonly acceptable to super-size servings that we are unaware just how deadly this practice is. We are slowly killing ourselves with food. 

400,000 Obesity Related Deaths Each Year 
The obesity rate continues to soar worldwide. 400,000 deaths each year are attributed to obesity. Spending money on weight loss products like Hoodia Gordonii surpassed the $750 million sales mark this past year! These statistics are appalling. Yet, it seems the government is committed to seeing its people commit suicide with food! 

50 Ways to Commit Suicide With Food 
I won't list all 50, but here are the top 20 ways to kill yourself with food: 1) eating sugar; 2) eating high fat foods; 3) eating processed foods; 4) lack of exercise; 5) eating trans fatty foods; 6) eating lots of red meat; 7) eating full fat dairy products; 8) eating artificial sweeteners; 9) eating foods with high fructose corn syrup; 10) eating foods with MSG; 11) eating foods with tons of pesticides; 12) lack of portion control; 13) super-sizing meals; 14) drinking alcohol; 15) eating too much salt. As a result, we gain these diseases which kill us: 16) diabetes; 17) high blood pressure; 18) thyroid problems; 18) asthma; 19) coronary heart disease; and 20) various forms of cancer. This list can go on and on to list more than 50 ways we commit suicide with food, but that's enough for now. Let's get to the solution - how to lose weight and keep it off! 

Aren’t You Tired of Yo-Yo Dieting? 
Losing weight is not about going on a diet. It’s about learning which foods to eat and how often to eat them so that you stay satiated, keep your blood level on an even keel, and eating until you’re comfortably full. Eating foods high in fiber such as oatmeal, fruit and vegetables, enable you to stay full longer because glucose is released into your bloodstream at a slow rate – as opposed to eating highly processed foods – which will make your blood sugar rise and dip quickly. When you eat sugary fatty foods, you get quick energy, but you crash and burn shortly thereafter and you’re left ravenously hungry, which makes you reach for that donut 15 minutes later. Then the vicious food and weight gain cycle start again. 

"Just Say No" to Food 
The key to rapid safe weight loss and healthy living is to remember that we have to eat to live – not live to eat. To learn more about healthy eating and weight loss, do a little bit of research on your computer. There are more than 50 ways to eat healthier and live a longer life, than 50 ways to commit suicide with food!

About the author: 
Shalisha is a successful weight loss coach who has lost 90 pounds and has kept it off for over 10 years. Do you want to stop food cravings, lose weight and keep it off without all the hassles of food scales and cups? Visit 

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Effective Time Management For Today's 
Christian Entrepreneur

By: Ericka Jackson 

As believers, mastering effective time management is one of the greatest ways we can be fruitful and demonstrate our faithfulness. We have to do all that secular businesses do and find time for our prayer, meditation, worship, and service. As believers, we have to be twice as good to be a full reflection of God’s glory. There is one business principle that is true for all businesses – your business will prosper to the extent that you master peak productivity. The key to executing at a peak performance level is having effective time management habits. 

It is truly possible to know what God created you to do and live life longing for it, without ever making the time to actually carry it out. Second to lack of trusting God to provide, lack of time management is the reason so many people never fully bring forth God’s vision for their lives. It would be a torturous existence, but people do it everyday because it is so easy to stay completely busy each and every day of your life without making a single significant dent in God’s intended purpose for your life. 

In God’s Kingdome, time multiplies when we put Him first. Now is the time to take an inventory of how you are spending your time. Is it forwarding your freedom and vision? Is how you currently spend your time adding to your income? Remember that your schedule should be full of tasks and commitments that bring you joy, increase your spiritual and physical energy, and create profits for your business. 

As believers, time is more valuable than money and you often need to tune-up your schedule. Here are my top five effective time management secrets that can transform your relationship to time. 

§ Slow down to get more done. This is my best time tip ever! Traditional myths of success tell you that the busier your schedule is, the more successful you will be and this is just not true. The more focused and smarter you work, the more successful you will be. S-L-O-W down and you will find yourself getting more and more done. 

§ Take time to plan out your year, quarter, month, week and day. This sounds basic, but so few people actually do it. When will you complete that large project? When will you make those follow-up calls? What days are available for meetings? When are you available to serve? Block out those days on your calendar and you will know how much time you have left to work with. 

§ Limit access to your schedule. This is one of the greatest techniques of all time! Guard your time because it is the most valuable asset you own. The more you create undisturbed time to complete priority tasks, the more quickly you will bring forth the success you desire. Allow your voicemail to pick up your calls for 2-3 hours per day, turn off your cell phone ringer, set up phone meetings instead of live meetings, limit the number of incoming calls you accept, have people send you faxes before you will set up a phone appointment with them, etc. Hang up a “Do Not Disturb” sign…do whatever it takes to guard your time like it is more precious than diamonds or rubies. 

§ Handle outgoing before incoming. Always handle outgoing tasks first and then open the gates to you incoming items only once you have sent out your priority communication for the day. Place your phone calls before you even check your voicemail messages. Send out your necessary emails before you even peek into your email inbox. (Please disable any email notifications or pop-up notifications.) Send out those letters before you open your mail for the day. 

§ Choose 3-5 main visionary tasks to complete first thing each day. Choose only your most important 3-5 tasks to complete that day and do then first thing. Limit all access to you until you complete these tasks and you will find that the productivity will increase your energy and the time you have for everything else. 
As you continue to move from busy to more profitable in your life and business, there are some great questions you should ask yourself so you can uncover any deep-seated habits, or self-sabotaging patterns that will set you back. Ask yourself, “What are my time wasters and excuses?” and “What am I hiding from by always staying too busy?” Implementing these five techniques alone will get you back in control of your schedule. With these questions and techniques, you are on the road to increasing your fruitfulness.

About the author: 
Ericka D. Jackson is a Christian Speaker, Author, and Business Coach. She provides individuals, organizations, and churches with the tools to achieve God’s vision for their lives. Visit  for insights, techniques and resources to fulfill your calling.

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The 10 Steps To Emotional Healing
By: Ericka Jackson 

You may think that emotional issues should be relegated to the couch in your local therapist or psychologist’s office, yet if you have experienced anything in your past that has left you feeling hurt, disappointed, or not enough, you are walking around with unresolved emotional issues. While you may think you are masking them effectively and they don’t affect your business, guess again. Have you ever met an irate or rude vendor that just seemed to have a “chip” on their shoulder? Have you had to deal with an employee who seems to be depressed or have sadness in their energy? Have you ever held back from sharing a business idea or your business vision with someone because you doubted that they would take you seriously? 

All of these scenarios exist solely because of unresolved and unhealed emotional issues. Whether or not you are aware of it, I would be willing to bet that you are still harboring something that is holding back your success. Unless you are highly aware of the state of your heart and know how to walk yourself through the steps to emotional healing, you are more than likely slowing your potential success because of your issues. 

Now for the good news…you can do something about it. As a matter of fact, you can be completely free of any and all emotional triggers, pain, and unresolved hurt. Although it doesn’t happen overnight, the old myth that time heals all pain is simply not true. You only heal and release to the extent that you handle the pain. While women usually cover their emotional issues with sadness, shopping, or developing a hardened attitude, men’s hurt shows up with exaggerated toughness or a larger than-life ego. It may also show up in cockiness or avoiding relationships that could potentially leave them open to future hurt. 

By following the following steps, you can eradicate your messed-up emotions once and for all: 

1. Acknowledge that incomplete pain is present. 

2. Identify the source of the pain. When did it begin? Who is it associated with? When was the last time you remember not having this emotional pain? 

3. Fully realize the depth of the pain you are feeling. When you allow yourself to feel it, how badly does it hurt? Where do you carry the pain? 

4. Ask yourself what you made it mean about yourself. What conclusions did you draw about yourself? What did you attach or Velcro to what happened? How are you punishing yourself? How are you sabotaging yourself? Did you make it mean that you aren’t good enough or worthy enough? 

5. Remember the negative and positive that you experienced. What lessons did you learn? What blessings have come out of the pain? 

6. Express your pain. Let it out…bring completion to the situation without doing harm to yourself or anyone else. Go beyond the anger. Write it. Speak it. Scream it (into a pillow or on a walk in the woods). 

7. Re-program yourself to redefine your reality. Work on the things that make you feel lovable and deserving of the best. Post what you really want to internalize and believe on your walls, in your wallet, on your desk and on your dashboard. 

8. Pray! Pray! Pray! Take time to get in touch with God and the fact that you are a child of God. Give your burden to God. Release it. Ask God to take the pain from your heart and spirit. He will. You can wake up and no longer have to carry that raw feeling of hurt and pain. 

9. Forgive yourself and the other(s) involved. They didn’t know better or didn’t act on what they know to be right at the time. Even if it appeared that they vindictively or purposely set out to hurt you, they did what they knew to do at the time. They may have even been doing the best they could at the time. Write a letter to every person you have not yet forgiven. Ask a friend to pretend to be that person and listen to all you have to say. Talk it out with yourself. Do what you have to do in a safe way. 

10. See it, speak it, be it!!! 

You can take any issue still hiding out in your emotional baggage (see Ericka’s article, Are You Masking Your Success? for a full explanation of your emotional baggage) and walk it through these steps and you will be released from it. The best way is to think through the steps and then write them down to get them out. Once you write them down, do something with them. Burn them. Tear them up. Bury them. Perform some ritual that represents letting it go. I once even went to a stream, ripped up my steps and watched them go downstream. Do whatever it takes to be emotionally free of your barriers to the fearless life you deserve. It is not only possible, it is time.

About the author: Ericka D. Jackson is a Christian Speaker, Author, and Business Coach. She provides individuals, organizations, and churches with the tools to achieve God’s vision for their lives. Visit  
for insights, techniques and resources to fulfill your calling.

Article Source:; Permanent Link: 

  Who Is He To You by Monique D. Mensah

Simone, a shockingly beautiful teen, is on the downward spiral of destruction as she battles incest and self-hatred and she finds cutting to be the only way to relieve her pain. Jessica lives the upscale lifestyle of a refined society matron. She strives to be the perfect wife, but without her husband, Ross, she would be nothing more than the abused stripper he rescued 16 years ago. Ryan, a fiery thirty-something, is quickly slipping into depression and prescription drug addiction as her boyfriend, Anthony, artfully dangles the empty promise of marriage.

As the shattered lives of three very different women collide, they find that they have one thing in common: they are all in a desperate fight to hang onto love. Experience their emotional journey through to the shocking end where these women will experience injury, imprisonment and even death while crafting new lives from the ashes of their ruination.

Monique D. Mensah
is a native Detroiter with an innate love for the written word. Her talent for writing was first discovered by her third grade teacher when she declared her dream to become a published author. After earning a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Michigan she completed her first manuscript, Who Is He To You. Shortly after, she launched Kisa Publishing and published her debut novel. Monique now resides in Southfield, MI where she is raising her daughter and working full-time as an enrollment counselor for a private university. She is also a freelance copywriter and copyeditor and is currently working on her second novel.

Monique D. Mensah, Author of Dramatic Fiction
ISBN: 978-0-578-02348-9


Intimate Conversation with
Dominique LeSane



Dominique LeSane is the author of the sexy new series "The Housewife Diaries". She pens mystery and erotic short stories that leave her readers panting for more! A native of Baltimore, MD, Dominique LeSane now calls the Dirty South her home. Dominique loves to share her gift of writing with her readers. 

Ella:  Tell us about your passion for writing. What drives you? What impact do you want your book to make?

I have so many friends with such interesting lives. People are always offering me their stories to tell. I love to read, so I'm driven to write the kind of stories that would keep me interested and entertained. I want my readers to be entertained and make sure they come back for more!


Ella:  Introduce us to your books, The Seven Year Itch and The Housewife Diaries Series. 

The Housewife Diaries series is three parts. Each tells the story of a woman who is faced with making decisions about herself and facing the true questions about her marriage and how to still maintain her independence. The Housewife Diaries Series features women who are struggling to keep their marriages together and who also have to find who they are as individuals in the process. 


The Seven Year Itch introduces us to Dara and Isaiah Moore. Isaiah and Dara Moore have all the creature comforts that life can afford, but as they reach year seven in their marriage, they realize their perfect life is missing an essential ingredient: sex. They are also missing another integral key in their marriage- passion. Dara and Isaiah Moore, a couple who are in love with each other, but find that the passion is gone, after spending too much time trying to mesh their schedules and to make time for each other. They pull out all the stops to bring the passion back to their marriage.  Isaiah whisks Dara away for their anniversary to a place he believes will re-ignite the spark, but when they arrive at the location, will Dara be game?

Ella:  What issues in today's society have you addressed in your books? 

Marriage and most importantly finding a balance between living and loving.


Ella:  What inspired you to write The Seven Year Itch and The Housewife Diaries Series?

 I'm married and I know that it takes time and patience and effort on both the wife and husband's part to keep a marriage together. You both have your independent lives, and your lives together and you have to find a way to make that work.

Ella:  What did you hope to accomplish by writing The Seven Year Itch?

To show a woman that wants to keep her marriage. She didn't step out on her husband when things weren't going right. She did what it took to keep them together.


Ella:  Are your characters in both books from the portrayal of real people?

They could be. I think that's why people relate to it so well.


Ella:  What writers inspire you and why?

Fern Michaels, Danielle Steel- these ladies have so many stories that they tell and so many readers that they reach. I would like to do the same with my growing audience


Ella: Finish this sentence- My writing offers the following legacy to future readers...

 The chance to experience romance and passion which is timeless

Ella:  What can we expect from you in the future?

Sugar and Spice- coming Fall 2009!!!   Dominique LeSane is the newest writer on the Blue Planet Publishing roster. I'm so excited about finding a home for my full length stories. Stay tuned on Lady Leo because there will be more short stories to come!   Lady Leo Publishing:     


Visit her at  or email her at 

Available at the following online bookstores:



Intimate Conversation with Lynetta Marlin

Lynetta Marlin, mother, wife, and decorated Desert Storm veteran began her journey of writing at the very young age of twelve and after serving many years in the military, she decided now would be the time to release and show her many dreams.

Ella: Introduce us to your book An Image of Imperfection, the message and the main characters. 
Is perfect love or the perfect life even possible? Trechelle Young wonders if her marriage will hold this perfect love. However, her commitment to family is stronger than her husband’s, and Trechelle’s hope for the perfect family quickly fades away. The fairy tale she always desired is gone and now she’s left with the realities of life.
After fifteen years of mistrusting her husband, Ralph, Trechelle is tired of holding on for better days. To even the score, she indulges in a few hot and steamy interludes with Frank Henry, Ralph’s partner and friend. Will she move on to fulfilled days and promises of happiness with Frank? Or will she put the Young’s family image back together again?

Find out what happens in An Image of Imperfection, where readers will indulge in self-esteem issues on top of betrayal. As the story weaves its tale of deceit and lust, readers will come to understand that the breaking point is different for every person, and wonder what their final straw would be.

Ella: What inspired you to write this story, An Image of Imperfection? 
My name is Lynetta Marlin; my debut book is called “an Image of Imperfection.” I began writing around the age of 10 to escape such a troubled and abusive life and enter a life of creativity and peace. My writing enabled me to escape to a serene life that I made-believe to be true. I love writing today more than ever because it still gives me the opportunity to escape. The times have changed for me in a positive way but sometimes the revisit of old pain resurface and to escape I love to write a new story. I have only self- published one book so far but wrote five. 

Ella: Are your characters from the portrayal of real people? 
An Image of Imperfection is a fictional book but some of the story line is built on truth. I wrote the story to let out a part that had dug deep into my heart and hurt me for so many years. In this story a talk about a woman who has to take care of children, a cheating husband, friends, family, and her self and still be strong and mighty. The pretense of nothing bothers her has to be held in front of so many people and she has weakened and allowed another man to see her pain. She does have a feeling that her husband has strayed but she doesn’t know how far and the question is with whom? I desire readers to get the story especially women, and decide if their pretense in life is worth a life time of pain or will they say I am more than just a side item forced to be in the front to cover, even my husband, facades in life. I want readers to say enough is enough and become real with their self and others. 

Ella: A Legacy is something that is handed down from one period of time to another period of time. Finish this sentence- My writing offers the following legacy to future readers... 
The legacy of strong black women has already been laid down for many women today and I try and touch on that continued legacy and say “women we can still be strong with boundaries. It’s okay to say no more pain and be happy with life.” I feel like women have life harder than men many times and as they push forward there are five hands pushing them backwards yet we have to press and many do just that. I served in the United States Navy and this is where I found the pressure of women having to do more and be more with more put on them. 

Ella:  Did you self-publish? What genre is the book?
An Image of Imperfection is self-published completed 67,324 word erotica novel that’s set in the suburbs of Atlanta , Georgia . This story is targeted at the strong yet naïve black woman who believe in love and main focus is on making their family the prime priority, while their supposed blameless cheating husbands desire them, their friends, and men. 

Trechelle Young is a believer in love and at all cost she wanted the life that romance story novels proposed as ideal. When she tackles the battle of (Ralph Young) husband, children, and happily ever after she finds that there are at least two different directions in which her marriage is traveling and the desires of her heart are not on the route. As multiple disappearing acts take premier and suspected marital flings arise Trechelle is faced with doubts of her marriage stronghold. She discovers Ralph’s infidelities might not stop at just women and is thrown into fear of knowing the truth. When Frank Henry (Ralph’s partner) notices a damsel in distress in Trechelle and hurries to aid and see to her every need, will she take the bait and enter into a life altering experience or will she stay in her troublesome marriage and piece her family image together again? 

Ella:  What issues in today's society have you addressed in the book? 
Issues of down-low men, adultery, real or fake church-life, rearing of children in a complicated home where the children could suspect something, friendships and their true meanings, and death plus after-life are present in this novel. My book is a an erotic novel because it is another part of me that I enjoy delve ling into and bringing forward without being loud and upfront with my most intimate thoughts. This is another life I can disappear into and have happiness. 

Ella:  What writers inspire you and why? 
Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, Mary B. Morrison, Tina Brooks McKinney, Wahida Clark, Michael Baisden, Kimberly Sims, Thomas Green, E. Lynn  Harris, Erica Lewis, Anita Bunkley, Omar Tyree, and many new comers are some authors that I love and are influenced by. They all have different styles to me and have different lessons to learn from their books and they are entertaining. 

Ella:  Share with us your latest news or upcoming book releases. 
My upcoming book is called “A crucial decision” which is a follow up to “An Image of Imperfection.”

An Image of Imperfection by Lynetta Marlin
ISBN: 9781587368714

Buy the book here

Intimate Conversation with GStarr

Somewhat obsessed with fabricating stories that usually got her in big trouble as a child GStarr is now able to keep the stories going for a profit. Born in her native country of Panama author GStarr is the co-founder of UrbanL Publishing in Queens, New York. Inspired by the late E. Lynn Harris and bestselling author Eric Jerome Dickey, GStarr’s first novel Pulling Me Back is a story about the discovery of lesbian love between best friends. 

Ella: Where did you get the idea and inspiration to write Pulling Me Back?
My inspiration for writing Pulling Me Back a novel that centers around two women beginning a lesbian romance in the midst of everyday issues was inspired by reading Eric Jerome Dickey’s Friends and Lovers and E. Lynn Harris’ Just As I Am. I genuinely enjoyed the books for different reasons. Eric’s novel dealt with the essence of friendship and the dynamic among different personalities, E. Lynn Harris’ novel was a trailblazer for introducing avid readers to characters living within the lesbian and gay communities. The idea of infusing subject matters from my two favorite authors seemed to be an untapped niche. I was tired of reading the urban fiction novels with so much drug crimes and gold digger related plots. 

Ella: Introduce us to your book, Pulling Me Back.
What makes the picture perfect working girl go from being with a man to being with a woman? In Pulling Me Back Bre Morgan learns that her beloved honey is not the faithful hardworking man that she thought he was. He may be hard working as a celebrity bodyguard, but he’s diligent at keeping his “other life” a secret. A heartbroken Bre learns turns to a night of drinking and partying with her closest friends including Jordan Powers her lesbian BFF after learning who Sean Hunter really is—a cheating bastard. 

Throwing caution to the wind Bre makes an overt pass at Jordan, who chooses to ignore it the first time it happens. When a sexual pass comes Jordan’s way a second time, she indulges in her best friend and the two embark on a closeted, insane ride of bliss, pain and confusion that neither can seem to navigate. 

Pulling Me Back is a novel that satisfies a dire need for erotic, alternative lifestyle story telling. In the midst of family feuds and broken hearts can two women find true love beyond the mayhem that life has thrown their way? 

Ella: Are your characters from the portrayal of real people?

The main characters all have bits and pieces of parts of the girl I used to be and the woman I am today. 

Ella: Tell us about your passion for writing. Why do you write? What drives you? What impact do you want your book to make on the readers?
I write because ever since I was child I would make up stuff. I would just talk and fiction would always come out, I think the fiction was more entertaining to me than telling the truth. It’s been said that I’m always in my own world—daydreaming and contemplating life and scenarios better than the reality we have before us. I have "mini- movies" going on in my head, so a new author I plan to share these visions with my followers. 

My passion comes from always having a story to tell. I really do enjoy making things up and having control of all fates of my characters—what they do, where they live, who they hook up with, where they travel, etc. That kind of control is fun—even if it’s only in fiction. 

Ella: As an author, what is your writing process? How long did it take to  finish Pulling Me Back? 
I received a laptop for a birthday gift. Once I knew I wanted to write Pulling Me Back I would carry my laptop with me everywhere. I would type during the roundtrip bus ride to and from work and on my lunch break. Any extra downtime was used to get this book typed up. Once I got started, I just couldn’t stop. It took a total of 5 months to complete. Writing Pulling Me Back was a new goal in my life and I’m glad I can check it off my list. This is just the beginning for GStarr. 

Ella: What is your most valuable lesson about the publishing industry? 
So far the most valuable lesson that I’ve learned from being in publishing is-- a book won’t sell itself. A great book does not make for great book sales, unless the author, especially a new one is willing to get out there and meet the people, sell yourself and your product. It is my job to form a fan base and let people know what I have to offer. The marketing aspect of publishing is very important. 

Ella: What issues in today's society have you addressed in the book?
An important topic among today’s generation that I cover in Pulling Me Back is --being gay. One of the characters, Jordan is openly gay to everyone who knows her, except her parents who just refuse to believe it. Her mom keeps wanted her to get a man and her father doesn’t choose to discuss it at all. When Jordan let’s her family know that her being a lesbian is who she is and they must except that things get ugly. This happens in so many households across America. It’s sad that acceptance can sometimes come from outsiders before your own family. E. Lynn Harris was a role model to me and I respect his writing and his creativity, but more importantly I admired him for being a trailblazer and opening the door for myself and authors to write about the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) demographic. You will still find, love lust, lies, happiness, sadness, etc in Pulling Me Back, I hope to pick up where the late E. Lynn Harris left off. 

Website: To connect with the author via social media send friend requests to: ; ; 

To request an advance read copy for print, online or book club reviews contact Dream Relations 347-715-4921 or email request to

                                    Intimate Conversation with LaCricia A`ngelle

LaCricia A`ngelle is a licensed Evangelist, writer, and the President of His Pen Publishing. A native of Chicago, LaCricia currently resides in Tennessee with her four children. As a Christian Fiction author, LaCricia not only writes for entertainment, but she also writes for ministry. Her goal in every piece of written work is to draw someone closer to Christ. 

Ella:  How did you start your writing journey?
I am originally a native of Chicago, however I settled in Tennessee several years ago. My favorite genre is Christian Fiction. I am very impressed with how many Christian Fiction authors are stepping out of the box and writing about topics that are relevant to today’s time. I started my writing journey as a child by writing poetry and songs.

Ella:  Tell us about your passion for writing. Why do you write? What drives you?
I write first and foremost for ministry. Through my writing I not only minister to others but I minister to myself as well. In addition to ministry, I write for entertainment. I enjoy going back over some of the things I have written to see my thoughts on paper. I am driven by my desire to set a good example for my children. My writing offers me the opportunity to show my children that although my original plans/goals for my life were not achieved, I was able to dream new dreams and to become successful doing it.

Ella:  Finish this sentence- My writing offers the following legacy to future readers... 
Forgiveness is a choice. When we choose not to forgive, we harm ourselves much more than those we choose not to forgive.

Ella:  Introduce us to your new book, Girl Naw!.
What happens when the window becomes a mirror. Antoinette Walker is good at helping other women resolve their issues but her closet isn’t free from skeletons. Girl, Naw! takes you on Antoinette’s journey of ridding her bed of roses of the thorns that continue to prick her heart. Forgiving others will only be part of her struggle. 

Ella:  Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book?
Ultimately, I hope readers will gain from Girl, Naw! strength to move past the emotional scars that have paralyzed them. It is my prayer that readers will gain more compassion for others that are going through various things in life, because we never really know what someone else is truly facing.

Ella:  Who would this book really "speak to" and why?
Girl, Naw! speaks to hurting people. It opens the door to forgiveness, and ushers in the healing process. I also believe Girl, Naw! speaks to individuals both male and female who are in a position of authority where people depend on them a lot for various reasons. Girl, Naw! shows its readers, they are not alone. Some of the very trials and tests they are facing there are others going through it as well.

Ella:  What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer? 
My most significant achievement as a writer has been having readers contact me both in person and via email and tell me the impact Girl, Naw! has made in their lives. I will never forget the time I was doing an interview about Girl, Naw! and a woman in the audience shed tears after hearing an excerpt from the book. The section that was read touched on something she was going through.

Ella:   What advice would you give a new writer? 
I would advise a new writer to persevere. New writers will often have their confidence challenged. It is important to take your time and put out a good product. Don't allow yourself to become overwhelmed with unrealistic deadlines. I would also advise a new writer to take advantage of all of the resources that are available such as writers' workshops, and online writers' groups that focus on the genre in which they are writing. Finally, I would advise a new writer to read books that are compatible to what they are writing.

Ella:  What can we expect from you in the future?
In the future readers can expect to see more life altering stories from LaCricia A`ngelle. Stories that show characters overcoming tough obstacles by the power of God. You can also expect to see more authors realizing their publishing dreams through His Pen Publishing. Most importantly Expect the Unexpected.  

Intimate Conversation with Jacquelin Thomas

Jacquelin Thomas is an award winning, bestselling author with over 30 titles in print. Her books have garnered several awards, including two EMMA awards, the Romance In Color Reviewers Award, Readers Choice Award, and the Atlanta Choice Award in the Religious & Spiritual category. She was a 2008 NAACP Image Award nominee and was given the 2008 Career Achievement Award by Romantic Times Magazine. She is happily married to her best friend and is the proud mother of three children. Jacquelin and her family live in North Carolina.

Ella:  Tell us about your passion for writing. Why do you write? What drives you?
I write because I don’t know how NOT to write. I have been writing since I was in the third grade and its how I got through those years of being extremely shy. In writing, I have the ability to control everything—something we don’t have in the real world. I love being able to make someone smile, lift someone’s spirits or just entertain with my stories. I love it and can’t see doing anything else in my life outside of serving God. 

Ella:  A Legacy is something that is handed down from one period of time to another period of time. Finish this sentence- My writing offers the following legacy to future readers... 
My writing offers the following legacy to future readers... entertaining stories of flawed individuals whose weaknesses become their greatest strengths. 

Ella:  Where are you from? What is your favorite genre? How did you start your writing journey?
I live in North Carolina. My favorite genres are mystery, romance and Christian Fiction. I love them all equally. 

I’ve been writing since I was in the third grade—I was painfully shy growing up, so writing became my outlet. However, I would never submit anything and it wasn’t until I was pregnant with my third child that I decided to finally ‘test’ the publishing waters. I wrote a novel titled Hidden Blessings and submitted it to Kensington Publishing. Monica Harris was the editor at the time and she purchased it in 1997. The book came out in 98’, was adapted into a BET television movie and I’ve been writing ever since. I have over 30 books in print today. 

Ella:  Introduce us to your new book The Ideal Wife.
THE IDEAL WIFE is the story of a woman whose husband wants her to embrace the swinging lifestyle and her quest to make her marriage work without dishonoring God and her husband. The book offers the reader a glimpse into the lifestyle of a “Christian swinger.” The story will also challenge reader’s beliefs on whether swinging or wife-swapping is considered adultery. I ran across an article that said that sixty-eight percent of swingers consider themselves Christian, which inspired the writing of this story. 

Ella:  Who are your two main characters? Favorite things about them?
Jana and Lawrence are the main characters in The Ideal Wife. I love that Jana knows who she is in Christ and stands her ground with her husband, despite her love for him. Lawrence is likeable because he’s not out to hurt Jana—he loves God, but truly believes that there is nothing wrong with the swinging lifestyle. His pastor is a swinger, so how can it be so bad? 

Ella:  How does this book shape or add value to the reader's life?
The Ideal Wife is written to entertain, but also to educate. I make no attempt to pass judgment or tell couples what they should do behind closed doors. I simply want the story to open the door for discussion. I believe Jana is a wonderful role model for women, in that she loves Lawrence, but she is not willing to do something she considers immoral. 

Ella:  Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book?
I would like readers to gain understanding that you can’t just accept someone else’s word over what the Bible says. You have to search the Word for yourself and ask God to give you wisdom and understanding, because scriptures are oftentimes manipulated to suit someone’s purpose. 

Ella:  Who would this book really "speak to" and why?
It should be to everyone. Sex is a gift from God and unfortunately, it’s become perverted by the world. Intimacy between a husband and wife is special and I think you have to be careful. I want my relationship with my husband to honor God because He is also a part of our marriage. Again, the book speaks to everyone and will provoke discussions between married couples and singles alike. 

Ella:  What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer? 
Being nominated for a 2008 NAACP Image Award for Divine Confidential. I found out the day that I buried my father that I had been nominated, so it was bittersweet. 

Ella:   What advice would you give a new writer? 
When writing your first draft—just write and don’t worry about how it reads. Finish the story before going back over to revise and don’t compare your work to other authors. 

Ella:  Name 3 things that it takes to make a successful author, in your opinion?
1. Putting pen to paper. Writers write!

2. Be willing to accept that you don’t know everything there is to know about writing and that your editor is there to help make your story shine.

3. Read books on the craft of writing and read just for fun when you’re not working on a project.

Ella:  Share with us your latest news, awards or upcoming book releases.
The Ideal Wife will be in stores October 6, 2009, Teach Me Tonight will also be in stores in October, and Split Ends (Young Adult) will be released December 29, 2009.

Intimate Conversation with Venom Patton

Born and raised in Niagara Falls, New York, Venom Patton was introduced to the world of writing as early as the eighth grade. She expressed herself through journals and diaries over the years until one day she decided to take one of her journals to the next level. Her debut novel "I Can Go to Hell by Myself!" is a journal entry transformed into a masterpiece that many can identify with. It encourages you to indulge in the life of the main character Decadent, and to see life through her eyes. Venom's writings are a combination of life as she views it through the eyes of others and her creative imagination. Her purpose is to inspire, motivate and challenge her readers to look beyond the obvious and judge reality. 

Venom is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University with a BA in Political Science, and also holds a Master of Science in Criminal Justice from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She currently resides in Atlanta, GA where is working on her second novel which continues the story of Decadent and the journey she takes through life. 

Ella:  Where are you from? How did you start your writing journey?  What drives you? 
I am from Niagara Falls, NY and I started writing in 1989, at least that was my first dated journal entry. My writing journey was about me expressing myself emotionally. I did not necessarily share my writings with others; however, my writings often influence my reactions. I have evolved in this journey as I have turned some of these writing into blogs, novels and I still keep a personal prayer and general journal to reflect.
My passion for writing comes for my inability to express my emotions verbally. I would often have to write my thoughts down in order to get across to people and be understood. I have been writing and keeping journals since 1989. These journals, some personal and other I share allow me to express my emotional side. My passion is not just for the love of the art but the ability to express myself explicitly without barriers.

Ella:  Let's me introduce your book, I Can Go to Hell By Myself, to the Black Pearl family.
"I Can Go to Hell By Myself"-- Compiling numerous stories Venom has come across in her experiences as a social worker, her novel is a work of fiction that tells the story of the main character, Decadent, who uses her gift to trap anyone that crosses her path into her web of sexual seduction. Decadent entices one too many people when she finally meets her match, reality. She becomes a victim of karma and finds herself wrapped up in a fight for her life.

"I Can Go to Hell By Myself" is not just another tale of a young girl battling the challenges of life. Instead, Venom Patton creates a masterpiece that challenges the reader to look through the eyes of Decadent, experience some of the events that she encounters, recognize those things that seem familiar and then judge accordingly.
Inspiring, motivating, and challenging, "I Can Go to Hell By Myself" is a must read. ISBN: 978-0-615-21743-7\

Ella:  What was your motivation in crafting I Can Go To Hell By Myself?
In my professional career I have encountered so many people who thrive on negativity. Negativity about people, themselves, within their behaviors and life in general. The often are cynical and look at the world in a "what can you do for me" mentality. "I Can Go To Hell By Myself! "focuses on those negative behaviors. We can blame the entire world but at the end of the day we have to answer for our behaviors. 

My main character, Decadent is one of these people. She has a lot going for herself but would rather play the victim than take responsibility for her actions. We see this all the time in our families and communities, as we try to support those who have been wronged but eventually their cry of "woe is me" will cause those intended to encourage them to walk away.  Just like many people in society today, Decadent chooses the wrong friends and loves the man who loves himself more. All the time she alienates her family and the gifts of God. Decadent for a long time feels like I can do this and I don't need any advice but when she reaches for help it may be too late.

I don't want to give too much away but you will see a lot of inspirational messages as well how some of the characters personalities match their name meanings. I am also a big fan of William Shakespeare and I have even made my own little twist of the Othello tragedy. I also give you the story strictly from Decadent's point of view, you feel what she feels, and you think how she thinks. If Decadent is mad at someone, you have no choice to be mad at them as well. No other opinion matters but that of Decadent's and you will almost find yourself becoming her.

Ella: Introduce us to your main characters. Why did you create this story now?
Decadent Indulgence Vincent-Allen is the main character of "I Can Go To Hell By Myself! "her name alone causes her behave in a certain manner. Athena and Nathanial are the fighters and supporters of Decadent. While, I will let you make your own conclusion of Maurice and Kennedy.

I created this novel because of a need I had to express my dealings with people from my professional life. I have heard many stories of despair and victimization. However, it is how you overcome this issues that make us who we are. I have listened to some horrific things and I wanted people to read and be able to identify with someone besides a "hustler" or drug addict.

Ella:  What is the most surprising thing you have learned from the community? 
 I have been surprised by some of the responses I have gotten so far. I have actually had people tell me that could not read it anymore because they had similar experiences and others became more aware of their surroundings. There were some who were offended and did not want to read and that too is understandable. I want the community to recognize that there are silent issues that people face and if you are one of those people you are not alone.

After reading the book as a reader instead of the writer. I realized how much emotion I have in me. In Nathanial I poured my love into him and I think I surprised myself of how much I could actually love and show it.

Ella:  Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book?
I want them to gain a joy for reading. If they don't learn anything from the book at least they have read it. We are at a time in which we want everything instantly. If I can't get it one DVD then I don't want it. So I want the community to get back into the habit of reading and although this is not a book for children, as the children observe adults reading then they will be encouraged to do the same. Then I want them to gain awareness for things that can happen to people as a youth that ultimately translates to their behavior as an adult.

Ella:  What would you say has been your most significant achievement with this book?
"I Can Go To Hell By Myself!" has opened so many doors for me. I have met so many different people through this journey and had the opportunity to share and inspire. I have inspired myself to continuously be a blessing to those that read and support this journey. This alone is an achievement above all others.

Ella:  Finish this sentence- My writing offers the following legacy to future readers... 
My writing offers the following legacy to future readers in that it gives those that are struggling hope. Although my novel is fiction it gives readers the opportunity to relate and hopefully redirect themselves in a positive manner. This is not saying that all readers will have experienced something negative or traumatic in their lives but I hope to always offer a spirit of reflection, redemption, restoration and rejuvenation.

Ella:  What can we expect from you in the future?
I hope to definitely write more books, continue to blog and advance into a motivational speaker by using my passion and profession to encourage the youth. I am definitely looking into becoming a household name but as I continue to advance in this career my interactions with the community evolve as well. So I cannot clearly tell you how the future looks but I know I am definitely moving up in it. I am expecting my next novel "It's Not Always About Me" out in November 2009 just in time for Christmas. I will also be doing some video blogging as well as supporting and encouraging other potential writers to get their stories out.

Visit the author online:

Did you know that it is NOT GOD'S WILL that you
be physically, sexually, or emotionally abused?

Award Winning Author Cheryl Lacey Donovan Speaks out about Faith Communities about Domestic Violence

In Texas alone, statistics indicated in 2005 that there were 30,995 reported incidents of domestic violence? Just imagine the "silent" unreported incidents who are living in silent fear! Each year, an estimated 3.3 million children are exposed to violence by family members against their mothers or female caretakers.

In a national survey of more than 2,000 American families, approximately 50% of the men who frequently assaulted their wives also frequently abused their children! Of children who witness their mothers being abused by their fathers, 40% suffer anxiety, 48% suffer depression, 53% act out with their parents and 60% act out with siblings.

Statistics further indicate that victims of domestic violence are everywhere, even in your faith community. Seventy-four percent of all Texans have either been a victim of domestic violence or know someone who has (according to a quantitative study conducted for Texas Council on Family Violence, Saurage, 2002.)

Because there is a need for outreach and education in faith communities, the faith family can be a critical resource for spiritual renewal and guidance. Texas Council on Family Violence. The problem is communities of faith can inadvertently make the situation worse. Misguided attempts at counseling can, in some cases, endanger rather than help the victim. In addition, religious values may pressure the victim to keep the family together at all costs.

Some batterers may even use scriptures and faith as a way to control their partner. "I grew up in a ministerial family. My parents were divorced when I was very young, but the religious impact was always there. Therefore, when I was initially thrust into an abusive situation, I found it difficult to come to a conclusion about my future because I didn't want to do anything that would be seen as contradictory to God's teachings on marriage," said Donovan. "Dissolving the marital relationship was one of the hardest things I had ever done because I wanted to be right in God's sight.

Yet, there were no programs within the church setting to provide guidance in this respect." The bottom line is, love should never hurt. Domestic violence is never acceptable. It goes contrary to any religious teachings. Expecting a victim of domestic violence to simply pray about a situation and expect it to go away is ludicrous. Encouraging a victim to keep the family together because it is what God would want is not scriptural or moral. Communities of faith need to open their eyes and understand the important role that they play in the fight against domestic violence. Training programs and outreach can assist congregants who may be experiencing physical or psychological abuse.

Information regarding training and outreach programs can be obtained from the Texas Council on Family violence

Cheryl Donovan is the award winning author of Women What the Hell are You Thinking and the soon to be released Ministry of Motherhood. She is also the host of the inspirational radio show Worth More than Rubies which airs on  To contact Cheryl to speak about domestic violence issues as they relate to communities of faith, or to learn more about other potential topics, e-mail her at You may also visit her website at:


Abuse in Teen Relationships: Is your teen crying silently?

The issue of teen abuse is not one that immediately pops into mind for most of us when we discuss domestic violence. Until November 2006, I was one who might have believed that it didn't exist, at least not in my world.

The morning I received a phone call informing me that my younger cousin, who was seventeen at the time, had been raped by her ex-boyfriend, is one that I'll never forget. 2006 had already claimed the life of my maternal grandmother, and I didn't want to imagine that things could get any worse in our family. But low and behold, we had yet another travesty to deal with, leaning on the arms of God's mercy and love for strength that only He could deliver.

My heart broke into a million pieces when I saw my cousin. I thanked God that she was alive and not seriously bruised externally, but the fear and pain I saw in her eyes nearly stopped the rhythmic beating of my heart as it filled with just a portion of what she was feeling. I didn't know her pain personally but knowing and loving her is what caused my eyes to fill with tears.

I sat with her at the hospital waiting for them to call her back to do the rape kit. I listened to the question and answer session between her and the detective. Every answer angered me as my heart continued to break and my blood boiled. I wanted to find the aggressor before the police did. Not only had he raped her at knife-point but he took off with their one-year old son and was nowhere to be found.

Over and over I asked myself, when did teens start having these type issues? Shouldn't she be at school taking a test and preparing for her graduation? Why are we here at the hospital? And the most nagging question of all was why-why didn't she come to us the first time he hit her? Why did she allow the abuse to continue only to have him rape her when she finally got out of the relationship?

Parents, I urge you to talk to your sons and daughters because domestic violence in teen relationships is real. For my cousin, it started with verbal abuse. He belittled her and broke down her self-esteem. He made her feel sorry for him, filling her head and heart with lies that he could not endure life without her. She felt obliged to be there for him for fear he'd kill himself otherwise and that was guilt she didn't want to face.

The verbal abuse soon escalated to physical abuse and more threats to harm himself if she left. When she finally found the courage to leave, a decision that was clearly in the best interest of her son and herself, he didn't kill himself; he instead lashed out at her, taking from her something that a woman should only willingly give to a man.

My cousin is now in college. She is a single parent who works part-time, and even though she doesn't talk much about her experience, I know that it still weighs heavily on her mind. I also know that by the grace of God, this too shall pass. I have a website set up for my cousin where copies of Somebody Prayed for Me, which features her story "Silent Cries", will be sold. All profit from sales go to my cousin, towards her education and her son. The website address is

Authored by Linda R. Herman

Please join in the discussion by leaving questions, comments or congrats here.

In Pursuit of Perfection: Searching for the Body Beautiful
By Jacqueline Moore

For you created my innermost being, you knit me together in my
mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made, your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139: 13-14

For centuries, women have been competing with the unrealistic portrayal of beauty as depicted by Hollywood and in the print media. The need to be thinner, younger and in some cases, plumped up in certain areas; has escalated to epidemic proportions.

African-American women have been taught that the darkness of their skin, the fullness of their lips, and the thickness of their waist, are the things that make them unattractive. Their nappy hair is a sign of un-cleanliness and their big noses are a sure sign that they must have descended from apes.

Our Caucasian sisters are also confronted with faulty conditioning by society. They are told to seek a darker complexions, hence the popularity of the "tan body." They run the risk of skin cancers by tanning in the tanning salons and baking their white flesh in the sun. If their lips are not full enough, then they are supposed to have collagen added for fullness. If their hair is curly, they need to straighten it. If their hair is straight, they need perms to make it curly. No matter what their hair color, they are told that blondes have more fun.

In recent years, the desire to become more like the Hollywood caricature has escalated to behavior that is putting our very lives at risk. Eating disorders and plastic surgery, issues that until a few years ago were unheard of, have now spiraled out of control. Bulimia and Anorexia were once words that did not exist in the minds and lives of young women, but now they are as widespread today in our schools as the common cold.

Women of all races are dying everyday from their attempts to become more beautiful.

Gastric bypass surgery, breast augmentation, nose jobs, cheek, and chin implants are becoming commonplace as a means to reshape and redefine who we are. Young girls are starving themselves to death, just to fit it. Hollywood’s image of the beautiful and desirable woman has tainted our perceptions of the acceptable standards of beauty.

Even successful women, who appear to have achieved greatness through their work, are succumbing to the pressures of being in the public eye. Starr Jones and Cher are but two well-known celebrities who have undergone dramatic procedures to improve their looks, while Oprah, Kirstie Alley and Janet Jackson are criticized for gaining even the slightest bit of weight.

We are born into this world, with no preconceived notions about how a person should look. As children, we don’t know to judge others based on their skin color, hair length, how tall or how short they are. We don’t instinctively look at another child and say, she looks different to me. The tendency to judge is not a natural part of our makeup; we teach our children these things. At some point during our childhood, we start judging others by standards we have been taught. We start tearing down one another’s self-esteem. We create doubt in the minds of others on their worthiness. We start going along with the crowd. We start thinking like the crowd instead of thinking for ourselves.

I am not trying to imply there is anything wrong with us making cosmetic changes so that we look better or feel healthier. I have acrylic nails, I wear make-up, and I have had dental work done. However, I did these things to help me feel better about myself, not to be accepted by others. While doing research on this topic, I came across a very interesting passage written by Wade Hodges.

In speaking on the Virtuous Women in one of his sermons, he quoted another passage of scripture from the book of Proverbs. It was from the book of Proverbs, Chapter 11; verse 22. He used the NIV interpretation, which really drove the point home. Proverbs 11; 22 says, like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion. His interpretation stated, don’t get so enamored with the golden ring that you fail to see that it’s stuck in a pigs nose.” In other words, don’t let the beauty fool you. Beauty is fleeting, charm is deceitful, don’t be led astray by such things. Self-acceptance is the real beauty secret.

Please join in the discussion by leaving questions, comments or congrats here.

Jacqueline (Jackie) Moore is a Christian writer of non-fiction and fiction. She is currently working on publishing her first fiction book Serving Justice and has written a non­fiction book on "Virtuous Women" from which she has developed a workshop/seminar.

Jackie is currently pursuing her undergraduate degree in religion at Liberty University and offers spiritual words of encouragement daily on her website She and her two sons, James and Joseph reside in Detroit, Michigan.



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