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First Things First: Learning to Love God & Self 

I have seen far too many African American women emotionally wrecked because the love relationship they've invested so much of themselves into—ended. The reason being, it started out on all the wrong reasons. The contemporary single woman of today is armed with the wrong thoughts, actions and second-hand information on how to have and keep a love relationship that will hopefully blossom into a marriage. (Sadly, too many single black women are given baby showers and not enough bridal showers).

Taking a brief look at history, we learn that women have suffered from the atrocities of a dominant male society from practically every culture in the world including the U.S. These atrocities gave birth to misogyny which without a doubt planted seeds of low self-esteem, insecurity and self-exploitation in young and mature women alike. 

Again, with just that brief examination, it is imperative that women are nurtured to love themselves and to TRULY love themselves, they must accept God into their souls. When we enter into a relationship—a love affair—with Spirit (God), we embrace ourselves thereby embracing the Divine Feminine. (Anyone, men and women alike, seeking a spiritual path to God must embrace the Divine Feminine). But for now the focus is on emotionally and psychologically wounded women who need to understand the wisdom and beauty of the Divine Feminine within them-- these are the daughters of the living God. 

One of the many attributes obtained through prayer, meditation and growth on the spiritual path to God is knowing how to discern the difference between a healthy, exhilarating and humble love of self versus a vain, conceited self-indulgent love which is not really love but an insatiable lust to fill a void. We must do some serious soul searching, introspection and reflection...and that may require opening up some old wounds and letting them bleed for a moment. This symbolic “bloodletting” is forgiveness. 

Some of us feel that if we refuse to forgive certain individuals, they will reap their karma much sooner. We could never be further from the truth. The spiritual law of Karma will prevail—you need not worry yourself about that. When we engage in healthy introspection and reflection, we seek to learn from our past mistakes and experiences, our souls are cleansed and with that cleansing comes a peacefulness—the peacefulness Jesus Christ spoke of that 'transcends all understanding.' But until we honestly forgive ourselves and the pain inflicted on us by others, we will NEVER be able to give or receive wholesome love. 

Meet Magdalena Allen
is a spiritual/motivational coach and writer.  She is a TV/print commercial model. She lives with her husband and two children in Maryland. She can be contacted via email at:




Taking Lemons and Making…Lemon Ice Box Pie! 
By Lutishia Lovely

I don’t know about you, but memories of food punctuate much of my childhood and in fact, my life. Untold hours of bonding occurred while my mom was fixing a meal or, even more delectable, a dessert!  I’d be asked to measure a cup of this, or a teaspoon of that, to check the item in the oven and determine whether or not it was ready to come out.  During these times spent together in a warm and aromatically amazing kitchen, I developed a respect for food, a love of cooking, and a wonderfully close relationship with Mama! 

Do you have a particular food or dessert that elicits a wonderful childhood memory? Or does your family have a favorite dish that encapsulates who you are, or epitomizes your taste buds? For me, there are several dishes, but one would absolutely have to be the lemon ice box pie. If anyone is having a birthday, or if it’s a holiday, or if there is any type of celebration in my family, the hands-down dessert request for my mama to prepare was, and continues to be, a lemon icebox pie.

There’s something you need to understand. It’s not so much the ingredients of this relatively simple, yet absolutely succulent dish that makes it special. It’s the love that goes into its preparation. If you try and skimp with the recipe, using prepared graham cracker crust, for instance, or imitation lemon juice instead of fresh squeezed, the results won’t be the same.  But if you follow the recipe below, the one that I requested and then typed (pretty much) verbatim from the letter my mother sent me…then you’ll not only taste a dessert that is delicious, but you’ll feel a whole lotta love!

Lemon Ice Box Pie

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

1 Box Honey Graham crackers, crushed to make the crust, finely crushed, and add ¾ cup butter along with 1 ½ T. sugar. Form in pan. Normal for one 9-inch pie crust, takes two packages (of graham crackers from the box).

1 can condensed milk
½ c., plus 1T fresh lemon juice
3 egg yolks, and the zest of 1 lemon
Save the 3 egg whites for topping

(Mix the above ingredients together, and pour into the pie pan lined with graham cracker crust.)

Beat the 3 egg whites  until stiff,  gradually adding 2 T. sugar.  Creating a meringue for the topping. Spread meringue over lemon/milk/yolk mixture.  

Place pie into the oven, leaving in only until the meringue has a nice, toasty look on top. Transfer pie from the oven to the refrigerator, leaving it there for two-three hours or until filling is firm.

Slice and enjoy!!!

About the Author
Lutishia Lovely
is the award-winning, best-selling author of sixteen novels. The Business Trilogy, her latest work, combines two of her passions: writing and food. This series (All Up In My Business, Mind Your Own Business and Taking Care Of Business) centers around the Livingstons, owners of a soul food dynasty called Taste Of Soul—where sizzling scandal and delicious drama are always on the menu. Find out more about this series and Lutishia at her website:  And please sign up for her newsletter, where readers are treated to contests, updates, excerpts from upcoming novels, contests and more!

Purchase Mind Your Own Business by Lutishia Lovely  
• ISBN-10: 0758265794
• ISBN-13: 9780758265791


10 Tips To Making Lasting Changes In Your Life
By Farah Risoen 

Rising Light Coaching & Inspirations 

If you are going through midlife changes, life transitions, or just want to take your life to the next level; here are 10 simple tips to making lasting changes and start living your best life:

1. Make a Commitment - Commit yourself 100% to the change you want to make or create, and make the change a MUST. That means no more excuses!! Step up and do whatever it takes!

2. Be Specific - Make sure you are very specific, exact and clear about the change you want to make or create. The more concrete your goal, objective or intention, the easier it is to achieve it.

For example, if you're 150 lbs and want to lose 20 lbs;  instead of saying:  "I want to lose 20 lbs" or  "I want to lose weight", say:  "I intend to weight 130 lbs in three months, releasing 1.5 - 2 lbs each week."

3. Focus on Solutions - Again! No more excuses. Let go of what you can't do... Instead focus on the solutions and what you CAN do! For example, if you want to exercise, but you keep saying to yourself: "I don't have time to go to the gym or work out"; then STOP saying that, and make the time!

Come up with 2-3 possible solutions and options like getting up an hour earlier, or ridding your bike to work...

One of my clients used to get up at 4:30 in the morning to be at the gym by 5:00. At the time, this was the only time she could fit into her schedule to work out, and since she had already made a commitment to herself (and me!), she just did it!

4. Schedule it - Schedule your action items into your day! When you schedule things, they actually happen! So if you want to get up earlier to go to the gym, then schedule your workout time. My client used to get up at 4:30 am, be at the gym by 5:00am, workout until about 7:00am, get home, shower, get ready and be at work by 9:00â?¼! Remember... When you schedule things, they become part of your routine!

5. Do it Everyday - Create a daily practice. The more you make you what you want part of your daily life, the faster you'll get in the habit of just doing it. For example, if you want to live a more healthy and active lifestyle, then do a little something each day: Go for a walk during your lunch; take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever possible, or substitute green vegetables for bread or white rice at dinner.

6. Find a Role Mode - Look around you and find someone who is already made the change you want to make or create! If you want to lose weight, make more money, start a business, be more kind, patient, forgiving, grateful or determine, study people you know who are already successful and embody those qualities.

7. Notice What's Working - As you go through your day, pay attention to what's working by keeping a journal. Research shows that when we keep track of our progress in writing, we tend to do better. So monitor your actions, behaviors and thoughts! Continue doing the things that work, and let go of the things that don't!

8. Teach What You're Learning To Someone Else - One of the best ways to really strengthen a new habit, is to teach it to someone else! Become a mentor and always walk your talk!

9. Take It One Conscious Choice At A Time - Making or creating a change can feel overwhelming! The trick to go through it making one conscious choice at a time! The reality is our lives are made up of our minute by minute choices and decisions. When we bring our choices to consciousness we are in control and in our power. If you're having one of those days, and about to do something that's unsupportive of your commitment; then make your choice consciously. For examples:

• I can either eat this piece of cake for lunch, or go get a salad instead
• I can either sleep in, or get up right now and go workout
• I can either get angry with this person, or find out all the fact and come up with a solution
• I can either distract myself by reading emails, or finish this project

Remember you have a choice in any given moment. Make choices that will give you long term gratification vs. short term!

10. Be Loving To Yourself - Practice being loving and kind towards yourself. You may have some great days... But you also may have some not so great days! If you mess up, fall off the wagon, or have a temporary setback, remind yourself that you are only human and are doing your best! Be very gentle and kind to yourself when you face challenges, and move forward by focusing on your smallest wins and successes!

With much respect and appreciation
Farah Risoen

To learn more, visit Rising Light Coaching & Inspiration at:  or email me at farahr@risinglight.comArticle Source.


Learning to Tap Into Personal Power 
by Kerri Herndon

Kerri Herndon, affectionately known as Coach Kerri, is a Life Transformation Coach and Christian Counselor. Through her weekly podcast, books, and seminars, Kerri gracefully shares spiritual insights to assist others with discovering the spirit-soul-body connection to live emotionally balanced lives.  Her witty tips and simple truths provide transforming power that will guide readers and listeners toward making consistent, purposeful choices.

This morning as I cleared my family room removing the remnants of last weeks celebration, I began to reflect upon this past year and the phrase “Personal Power” whispered in my spirit. The whisper turned into an echo which began a stream of thoughts which resulted in a simple truth; each of us were born with power to conquer and fulfill. A power that enables us to not only create goals, but to accomplish with extraordinary success for whatever we put our minds to do. 

A power so great, that if harnessed produces personal success to do works beyond our limitless imaginations. 

The poet Hafiz beautifully delivers the message of the “birth gifts” provided:
There are so many gifts still unopened from your birthday. There are so many hand-crafted presents that have been sent to you by God. The Beloved does not mind repeating, “Everything I have is also yours.” There are so many gifts, my dear, still unopened from your birthday.

Between taking care of family, social obligations and the steady demands of our careers, it is easy to become overwhelmed and find there is little time to discover your own personal power. Once this delegate balance begins to dissipate, stress and feelings of being overwhelmed can gain entry access into your soul. 

These fugitives drain your desire, ambition and drive to begin the journey of developing your power of potential. They stealthfully enter leaving traces of thoughts that suggest one or more of the following:

* I can’t
* I am too stressed
* I am not intelligent enough
* I’m to tired
* I have no energy
* No one will listen to my ideas
* I don’t know my purpose
* What should I do with my life
* Maybe I’m just not good enough
and unfortunately more.

One of the many oracles of God that provides hope and refutes any thought that is contrary to us having “personal power” to accomplish is found in Exodus 35:35.   The writer informs us that, the Lord has provided wisdom to know how to make all kinds of “things”, and to devise all kinds of new “things”.  I highly suggest reading the Wycliffe Bible version of the passage of this scripture.

Personally, I have embraced the truth that from birth, a seed was deposited within which has the mechanics for success, prosperity, joy, happiness and completion for all manner of tasks and work. When we find ourselves “stuck” unable to clarify our goals or finish tasks that would keep us on target with completion dates, it is vitally important to begin to uncover what core thoughts are corrupting your personal success.

This “uncovering” begins with surveying your heart to identify the real culprits of your feelings of being overwhelmed or stressed. Your heart has it’s own nervous system, or brain in the heart, containing around forty thousand neurons.  This heart-brain can sense, feel, learn, remember, and process information (Armour 2003; Armour and Kember 2004). 

Research has found that there are more nerves going from your heart up to your brain than from your brain to your heart (Cameron 2002). When you feel worried, frustrated, or stressed, your heart’s rhythmic pattern becomes irregular and chaotic pulling your heart brain out of sync. So what does this mean? Your thoughts have the ability to create internal havoc and chaos which will manifest in self sabotaging behavior and a host of unwarranted physical symptoms. Acknowledging core thoughts and perceptions will assist you and be a guide to restructuring your beliefs to bring sync to heart and life.

Gateway to Your Personal Success

What have you allowed in and not taken the time to throw out?  Could it be other peoples perceptions of you personally and professionally which has caused anxious thoughts and behavior? Or is it the unsatisfying feeling of unfulfilled dreams and desires that have created the “it’s too late syndrome” which need to be thrown out. Traumatic experiences and events can also trigger painful memories for some leaving them emotionally unstable to receive the gift and promises of transformation for personal success.

Have you truly cleared the debris and the packaging that at one time may have been beautifully wrapped, but now has expired and must be thrown out due to contamination?

I do know that all of us have a force of power inside that is tremendously great, yet many people are not living the life that was promised to them to fulfill. This could be a direct result from allowing your soul to become toxic thus clouding your ability to fully recognize your birth gifts. For others, it could be a lack of balance and not taking the time seek and develop your gifts. Remember, there is always danger in comparing your gifts with others and under estimating the value of your personal gifts. Both of which result in never attaining the fullness of the power within.

Before the new year begins, let’s determine to unwrap your gifts and develop each one with intention and determined focus. Begin by applying three simple truths that will revolutionize the way you think, you act, and what you will do next in your life.

Keys to Unwrap the Power Inside:

1. Principle – Who are you? What do you stand for? What does your character say about you?  Your mouth can say anything it wants but your actions, tell the truth. That brings me to my next point, actions. What are you about? What is your attitude, does it reflect the opposite of who you say you are? In order to begin to tap inside of yourself, you must do some self reflection and discover the principle things you stand for.

Gal 5:22-23, psalm 15:1-5, Micah 6:8, 1 Timothy 4:8, Proverbs 28:6, Romans 5:3-4, Psalm 1:1-3 

2. Purpose – Why are you here? What makes your existence different than mine or anyone else? What is your personal mission, if you could change anything in this world, what would it be? Discover yourself through your own eyes, not someone else – and allow your purpose to shine to lead you to the path of self discovery which ultimately will assist you in tapping into your personal power source.

Exodus 31:3, Ecclesiastes 2:26, Romans 11:29, 1 Corinthians 1:5, Romans 12:6-8, James 1:5, Romans:8:28, Jeremiah 29:11

3. Performance – How do you conduct yourself? Are you a high achiever? Or are you stuck in between? In between what – the halfway point of failure and success. The halfway point is called Mt. Mediocrity. How many of us get stuck there and feel as if we are caught? Begin to visualize through writing down who you are and except the fact you are a designer original and you were created with a principles, values, and purpose, which through your performance places you in the crowd of effortless high achievers. The I can, and I do crowd, the soaring eagles, not slothful pigs.

Psalm 20:4, Proverbs 6:3, Proverbs 3:5-6, Isaiah 48:17, Psalm 32:8, Exodus 15:13

Begin each day with the end in mind. Start  the day with being accountable to yourself. Read each key and thoughtfully meditate upon each one of the scripture references. Spend time meditating each day and affirm powerful truths to your heart to regain balance and alignment. 

Remember this simple truth, you already posses the power inside of you to propel you into destiny. Unwrap your gifts today and receive a harvest of an abundant future.

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's  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.  The book poetically illustrates the personal life experiences of Kerri additionally providing powerful deliverance prayers and accountability exercises.

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: 


The 4 Fundamentals of Leadership Gratitude
by Kevin Eikenberry

Gratitude is a positive emotion and studies have shown it creates a more positive attitude, reduces stress and provides many other benefits.  But, c'mon, we don't really need studies to tell us this, do we?  You know how it feels when you are grateful. 

This article won't restate the obvious (more than I already have). Instead, it explores the fundamentals of how leaders can transform genuine gratitude into a positive force for change and success for those you lead and in your organization in general. 

Before I go on I must highlight a critical word in the previous sentence - genuine. 

Please know that all the suggestions that follow will make a huge difference, but the difference will only be a positive one (for you and others) when your gratitude is genuine, authentic and heartfelt. Please read the rest of my suggestions, with this as a given.  In the end, I hope you see that gratitude is far from a soft, "nice to do" behavior. On the contrary, it is a real and important key to your success as a leader.  All the benefits start with the fundamentals. 

The First Three Fundamentals 

See it.  As a leader, you have lots of things on your mind. In order to be grateful, you must first see or notice things for which to be grateful. Do you want to be grateful more often? Then set your mind on looking for things to be grateful for. Once you set your subconscious mind in motion, you will begin to find them more often. 

Say it.  Are you grateful or thankful for something someone did or is doing? Let them know! Once you have seen something you appreciate or are grateful for, let people know by telling them. And while you are at it, make your gratitude as specific as possible. It could be a simple thank you, but it also could lead to a habit of giving more positive feedback. 

Write it.  This could be in an email, but, even better in a handwritten note. Let people know what you saw, how it made you feel and why it is important. These words will be read, and likely read repeatedly, and the quite possibly shared with others. Most people I've ever asked tell me they have a file of letters and positive comments they've received from others. As a leader you will be adding to people's positive memories, and perhaps treasured files, with your words. 

This is all good advice in any part of our lives, but as leaders, when we see, say and/or write our gratitude to others it makes a huge difference. As a leader, you have a special place in people's lives. Your words, opinions and actions matter. The gratitude you share in conversation or on paper could absolutely change someone's life. 

The Final Fundamental - The Transformational Component 
I started by stating that when we are grateful, good things happen for us. When we think about it from a leadership perspective, we realize the benefits are potentially much larger. 

The final fundamental is to share it. Gratitude is a viral emotion - meaning it's one that can spread quickly. 

As a leader you are more than just carriers of any emotional contagion (positive or negative) - you can spread it much faster and much further than anyone else. When you share and role model your gratitude in the ways described above, you begin to positively change the culture and environment of the workplace. 

The results of these changes can result in improved performance, improved teamwork, reduced stress, higher retention and much more.   Hopefully you see that being grateful is more than something you can or should do at the close of a big project or at a couple predefined times of the year. Rather, genuine gratitude is always appropriate and always in season.

About The Author 
Remarkable leaders know gratitude matters. It’s one way of giving better feedback and developing others. One way leaders learn those skills is by participating in The Remarkable Leadership Learning System - a one skill at a time, one month at a time method of becoming a more confident and successful leader.  Kevin Eikenberry  is a bestselling author, speaker, trainer and the Chief Potential Officer of the Kevin Eikenberry Group. The Kevin Eikenberry  invites you to visit:  for more information on his books and leadership system.


Intimate Conversation with Rochelle Alers

Forever is thrilled to release SANCTUARY COVE by bestselling author Rochelle Alers – Forever’s first African American romance author.  Known for her warm yet sensual writing style and intriguing plots, Rochelle does a lovely job of capturing the geniality of the south in her new Cavanaugh Island series. 

With nearly two million copies of her novels in print, Rochelle Alers is a regular on national bestseller lists, and has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Gold Pen Award, the Emma Award, Vivian Stephens Award for Excellence in Romance Writing, the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award and the Zora Neale Hurston Literary Award. 

BPM: Ms. Alers, when did you get your first inkling to write, and how did you advance the call for writing? 
The writing bug bit me while in high school after I’d read a Zane Grey western novel. Needless to say I was hooked and I read every book in the series. I purchased several journals and began writing my own short stories with heroic cowboys and women who needed to be rescued. My only regret is I didn’t save the journals. The stories would’ve shown me how far I’ve come in my quest to become a published author.

BPM: Please share with us a reflections on your journey to this point in writing or your philosophy on life in general?
It would be another twenty years before the bug bit again – this time in romance rather than westerns. And the bug had escalated into an addiction. Plots and characters haunted me in my sleep and I took to placing a pad and pen on the nightstand to jot down ideas and dialogue. It was very easy to make up excuses as to why I couldn’t complete a manuscript. Procrastination had become my BFF until focus took precedence and I found myself with a completed first novel. It would take another three years before I would become a published author, but it took patience, focus, perseverance, and faith in my own ability to stay motivated.

BPM: Would you say your writing style is more plot driven or character driven?
Most, if not all, of my novels are character driven. When readers talk to me about a particular novel they invariably will refer to the characters rather than the plot. It will be Matt and Eve, Deborah and Asa, Joshua and Vanessa or Salem and Sara. A few will say, “I know these people aren’t real, but I love them.” There are a limited number of plots and never-ending numbers of characters who tell the story as readers role-play with them when they laugh, cry, love and live happily ever after.

BPM: Cavanaugh Island is a brand new series in Grand Central’s/Forever line. What inspired this new Romance series?
The Cavanaugh Island series has been a long time coming. I’d written several novels set in the Lowcountry, however when given the opportunity to create a series using this locale I couldn’t contain my joy. These novels are a reminder of my childhood memories of Gullah relatives, Sea Island cuisine, and a yearning for a different lifestyle. It’s about nostalgia for what was and could be again. 

BPM: Allow me to briefly share the synopsis of your latest release, Sanctuary Cove.
Reeling from her husband’s untimely death, 38-year-old Deborah Robinson is in need of a fresh start. Deciding to return to her grandmother’s ancestral home on Cavanaugh Island, Deborah packs up her home, boxes up her bookstore, and heads to Sanctuary Cove with her teenage children in tow. Full of charm and happier memories, the Cove promises the new start Deborah so desperately needs. 

BPM: Set off the South Carolina coast, amid sea-island culture, readers will feel an appreciation of a slower, more relaxing way of life. Introduce us to your main characters.
Deborah Robinson remembers the wonderful summers she’d spent on Sanctuary Cove, so it is here where she begins her journey from loss to recovery, and finally an offer of a second chance at love. Dr. Asa Monroe also finds Cavanaugh Island the perfect place to take a break in his nomadic travels as he struggles with a devastatingly personal loss, while awaiting approval for an overseas medical assignment. It is on Sanctuary Cove where Deborah and Asa meet, and despite the parallels in their lives their future has been preordained.

BPM: In your latest release, Sanctuary Cove, you introduce readers to Cavanaugh Island and the Gullah language. Did you base this story on a real town or island?
Cavanaugh Island is wholly fictional, but the Gullahs are real. If you visit the Sea Islands off Georgia or South Carolina you will see women weaving sweet grass baskets, and if you listen intently you will hear traces of the language so intrinsic to this region. There are a number of foundations dedicated to preserving Gullah history, culture, customs, traditions, language, stories, songs and structures to counter the rise of tourism and residential growth.

BPM: As we read Sanctuary Cove, readers learn about the Gullah origins, superstitions, and cuisine. How much research did you need on Gullah language and traditions for the book?
Fortunately I didn’t have to research the cuisine or the superstitions because my mother was Gullah. As a young girl I used to eavesdrop on her and my aunts trading stories that gave me goose bumps. Although aware of the consequences for listening in on “grown folk bizness” I was willing to take that risk, because these are the same stories I use in this series. I didn’t have to research the cuisine or superstitions but I did research the language. I do recall remember my grandfather speaking the dialect and even though I’m not fluent, I am able to understand it.

BPM: We will meet characters who depict folks on the Cove, Landing and Creek. Does this describe the economic levels of the community?
The residents of Sanctuary Cove depend on tourism for their survival, and it is the only town on Cavanaugh Island with a downtown business district. Those who live and work on the Cove are predominately working class. Angels Landing is the largest town on the island; the least populated, and is completely residential. 

More than 90% of Landing residents are college-educated, upper middle-class professionals who consider themselves socially superior to those in the other towns. Haven Creek has been dubbed the Lowcountry Taos art colony because of the number of artisans that live and work there. There are still farmers in the Creek who sell their produce and livestock to locals and businesses on the mainland. The majority of Creek residents are self-employed, are the least affluent, and yet are quite content to follow the slower, more relaxing way of life established by their ancestors.

BPM:  How do you stay focused? Is this the book you intended on writing or did it take on a life of its own as you were writing? 
I knew what type of book I wanted to write when I began Sanctuary Cove, but with each scene or the introduction of a new character it was like watching the sun rise. Everything that had been shrouded in darkness became very real. Thankfully I have an incredible editor who helped me stay focused. We worked together to tweak the outline until it was a literary storyboard.

BPM: Which character or topic in the book can you identify with the most? Why?
It would have to be Deborah. Wherein she relocates from Charleston, South Carolina to Sanctuary Cove, and I recently moved from a fishing village with a population of 40,000 to a village with 1,600 residents. I also identify with the topic of developers buying up ancestral properties belonging to Gullahs. My mother had a friend who’d owned a large ancestral parcel on Hilton Head, and was forced to sell out when property taxes became prohibitive because of a nearby resort and golf course.

Also at a turning point in his life, Asa Monroe has been on a journey in search of faith and meaning since losing his family.  As a member of Doctors Without Borders, he is constantly on the road, traveling from one place to the next. But when Asa catches a glimpse of the beauty with the radiant smile, he suspects he may have found a reason to stay in Sanctuary Cove a while longer.  As friendship turns to romance, Asa and Deborah aren’t prepared for the next challenge that life brings their way. 

BPM: What would you like to accomplish as you continue to write?
I would like to continue writing books featuring mature characters with small town connections. Many Americans, African-Americans in particular, can trace their past to small towns, and have said they want to read about a lifestyle that currently differs from their own – a place where they meet characters they want to revisit again and again.

BPM: What legacy do you hope to leave future generations of authors and readers?
I would like to leave a body of work for readers that will be as relevant for future generations as they are today. I want future authors to know all I’ve written is not in vain, but to make your journey easier for you.

BPM: How may our readers follow you online?
Twitter: @rochellealers 


Today I Marry My Best Friend: Myself 
by Shampriest Bevel 

Today I Marry My Best Friend: Myself, focuses on single women living in a world with limited good men and unlimited drama. These women are tirelessly dating men in hopes of marriage. Each woman’s story has its own twisted journey, but the ending will be familiar to them all. The characters are all waiting for proposals of marriage which, after many wasted years, will never be heard. They are all in relationships with the type of men who prove not to be ready for marriage.

Talia Sands, who is the most ready for marriage, is left broken-hearted after five years by a man who she accidentally learns is having an affair with the neighborhood trick. This becomes a turning point for Talia. Talia decides not to allow a nugatory man destroy her dreams of marriage. She decides to marry herself as a symbol of self-commitment and self-love. 

Today I Marry My Best Friend: Myself  tells the story of how a woman can stop tirelessly and painfully waiting for a man to ask for her hand in marriage. Talia takes control of her life by getting her middle finger sized, purchasing her own wedding ring, and marrying herself.

Purchase Today I Marry My Best Friend: Myself by Shampriest Bevel 
ISBN: 9780977478606
Genre: Women's Fiction

Today I Marry My Best Friend, Myself summarizes both the hopeless quest of women waiting to receive a proposal of marriage and their journey to commit to themselves. The book not only tells the story of those women who are left waiting, but it also details how to plan a wedding for a bride without a groom. This tells the untold story of single women living in a world with limited good men and unlimited drama. 

This book reminds women that they do not have to validate themselves and wait for a proposal of marriage. Women can marry themselves as a symbol of self-commitment and self-love. The themes of self-love, self-commitment, marriage, single women, self-validation are evident throughout the book.

About the Author
Shampriest Bevel
was born and raised in Bronx, New York. She has an MBA in Global Business Management and a Master's in Education. In June 2005, she self-published a poetry chapbook entitled Therapy for the Soul's Pain. Commentary from the Writer’s Digest 14th Annual International Self-Published Book Awards described her poetry as “lyrical and sooth, similar to Nikki Giovanni” and “Langston Hughes Blues Era”.  

Her exposure to the lighter side of publishing inspired her to challenge herself to write her first fiction novel, When the Mirror Doesn't Look Back. She was awarded with the Honorable Mention Award for poetry at the 2011 Hampton Roads Writers’ Conference. 

She is a member of Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts and Hampton Roads Writers. After attending Christopher Newport University’s Writer’s annual conference and becoming an avid reader of Mary B. Morrison, she decided to begin her second novel. The book, Today I Marry My Best Friend: Myself summarizes both the hopeless quest of women waiting to receive a proposal of marriage and their journey to commit to themselves.

Author Website: 
Available at:    Pulse Publishing,,

ADA’S RULES:   A Sexy Skinny Novel

By Alice Randall

The New York Times Bestselling Author of The Wind Done Gone turns her pen on women, important health issues, and relationships in a transformative novel that is as much a juicy page-turner as it is an important call-to-action!

“A heartwarming and engaging read, Ada’s story is more than that—readers following Randall’s rules will drop the pounds along with Ada, and perhaps discover something about themselves.” – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

Alice Randall burst onto the publishing scene in 2001 with her critically acclaimed bestseller The Wind Done Gone, telling the story of Scarlett O’Hara’s half-sister, Cynara, who was a mulatto slave on the plantation. The novel was named one of The Washington Post’s “Best Fiction of 2004” and has since been taught at Harvard University, Randall’s alma mater.  Yet, it is ADA’S RULES: A Sexy Skinny Novel (Bloomsbury/May 2012/$24.00/Hardcover) that is most likely to make women look to Randall as their modern-day literary hero. 

In ADA’S RULES, readers will find a kindred spirit in the book’s heroine, a woman who is at a crossroads in her life – she fears that her husband, the beloved pastor of Nashville’s Full Love Gospel Tabernacle, is having an affair. What’s more is Ada is so busy taking care of those around her – her two grown daughters, elderly parents, and the kids at her day job – that she loses herself. An invitation to her 25th anniversary college reunion is a game changer for Ada. She takes a deep look in her physical and spiritual mirror and decides that she wants to get back to the Ada who was once happy, fit and fabulous. As a result, Ada establishes “Ada’s Rules: Fifty-Three Perfect Rules for an Imperfect but Excellent Health and Beauty Revival.”

What makes ADA’S RULES so very special is that while it is a novel, there are a lot of real-life lessons and strategies that Randall brings to the page. The author experienced her own re-birth with a decision to adopt a healthier lifestyle. So ADA’S RULES can also be thought of as a simple, practical guided tour to a better ‘you’. “I had an awakening that I wanted to do something for me. I think all women experience these moments but not enough of us actually do something about it,” says Randall. “We get so preoccupied with everyone else’s problems, issues, and lives, that we forget that there is a vibrant, beautiful woman inside of us all, and we deserve to nurture and care for her, too. So ADA’S RULES is my call-to-action to women to pay more attention to themselves, to get healthy and guess what? Here’s the roadmap for how to do it.”

One of the alarming statistics that stirred Randall was the fact that diabetes is the fourth leading cause of death amongst African American women, affecting one in four black women over the age of 55. It was enough to literally get Randall moving and choosing to eat more nutritious foods. The effects are what Randall sees in the mirror each and every day– a woman who is 70 pounds lighter and who she unconditionally loves. “This novel will help readers lose one to two pounds a week…Whether you have seven, or seventy, or a hundred and seven pounds to lose, if you read this book and work Ada’s Rules, you’re going to be more fit and less fat,” writes Randall.

Publishers Weekly
It is impossible not to fall in love with the plucky plus-size heroine of bestselling author Randall’s fourth outing (after Rebel Yell). When Ada Howard—wife of Lucius “Preach” Howard, the pastor of Nashville’s Full Love Gospel Tabernacle (whom Ada suspects of getting love not just from the Lord, but from another woman)—receives an invitation to her 25th college reunion, she takes the opportunity to reclaim the thin body she once had, in hopes of impressing her college sweetheart. 

Ada draws up a list of 53 sensible diet rules, and vows to follow every last one. Rule #1: “Don’t Keep Doing What You’ve Always Been Doing.” Randall uses each maxim as a chapter heading, leading readers deeper into Ada’s struggle and self-discovery while she drops the pounds. As Ada learns that any meaningful change must be made for one’s own self, she inspires and energizes those around her. 

A heartwarming and engaging read, Ada’s story is more than that—readers following Randall’s rules will drop the pounds along with Ada, and perhaps discover something about themselves.     Agent: Amy Williams, McCormick & Williams. (May)

Meet the Author
Alice Randall
was born in Detroit, grew up in Washington, D.C., and graduated from Harvard. She is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Wind Done Gone, Pushkin and the Queen of Spades, and Rebel Yell. She is also an award-winning songwriter, and the first black woman in history to write a number one country song. Randall lives with her husband in Nashville and is currently writer-in-residence at Vanderbilt University. Like Ada, she's done battle with her weight and won.

Purchase Ada's Rules: A Sexy Skinny Novel
by Alice Randall
ISBN-13: 9781608198276 


The Rainbow through the Eyes of a Closet Homosexual’s Wife
by author Jreamwriter®

Kyleena forces readers to examine the two most influential men in her life; her loyal, eccentric, and openly gay best friend, Gerry, verses her latest husband, Alex, who misrepresents his sexuality in a manner that has afforded him the ability to hide his debased character behind spirituality, ministry, marriage, and family. However, at some point, what goes on in the dark does eventually come to light... 

Applied in the field and study of social work this fictionalized work addresses the signs and co-morbidities associated with two often under-addressed, under-acknowledged, and routinely minimized, facets of domestic violence, psychological and spiritual abuse; conditions, if left untreated, can precursor the manifestations of mental and physical breakdowns statistically linked to depression, substance abuse, poor health and eating habits, abortion and miscarriage, and suicide.

Family & Relationships: Abuse - Domestic Partner Abuse, Women’s Literature, Academic

Available in ebook and print
& wherever books and e books are sold 

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Texas Love Song 

by AlTonya Washington

From the author of the explosive Ramsey/Tesano series comes something new. Ross and Melendez: Two families from the Lone Star State who share a past as accomplished as it is contemptible.

Setha Melendez has stumbled across a threat to her family and a scandal involving the way her father Danilo Melendez crafted his fortune. In the midst of this, Khouri Ross learns that he and the reclusive Ms. Melendez will take over Melendez contract negotiations with the Ross Review, the Ross family’s well known and respected Houston paper. Negotiations had previously been handled by Khouri’s sister Avra and Setha’s brother Samson. Samson and Avra had reached an impasse with their talks and the hope was that Khouri’s and Setha’s cooler heads might prevail so that an agreement could be reached.

When Setha meets the strong, soft-spoken and seductive Khouri Ross, she re-gains a bit of the bubbly personality which had dimmed as she uncovered more clues about the brewing scandal involving her family. As the business acquaintance with Khouri grows more personal, Setha forgets her frustrations and almost everything else. That is, until she realizes that Khouri knows of the suspicions she’s hiding from her family. He proves more protective than her father and brothers had ever been. The man is irresistible, completely sexy and brooding in a way Setha finds unquestionably staggering. 

As the second eldest and only son among three daughters, Khouri knows that in a family of women, a man can be strong or he can be run over. Not a problem for Khouri who can match his sisters play for play and who’s learned a lot about handling the opposite sex. 

Still, nothing prepares him for Setha. When they meet, he knows his fate is sealed. She’s his and he won’t stop until he’s found who’s set their sights on threatening her.

EXCERPT: Texas Love Song  

Khouri’s phone chimed just as he approached the black Rover bearing the personalized plates carrying his first name. There was a text from Niko Latham one of his poker buddies. The man had wasted no time boasting about his winnings from the night and thanked Khouri for his absence.

Smirking, Khouri opened the passenger door to the Rover. Dropping down to the leather champagne seat, he texted back telling Niko to enjoy his one and only win. He stood and was easing the phone into a side pocket when he lost his balance when something/someone brushed against him.

Lengthy hair and a gasping sound gave him pause but didn’t diminish his reflexes. He caught the woman’s forearm and held her fast.

“Calm down,” he whispered, tilting his head to get a look at her face partially covered by thick black tendrils. He could see that she was terrified. “I won’t hurt you,” he said.

Setha Melendez barely heard the voice and scarcely registered the hold on her arm. She struggled viciously and her gaze remained fixed on the alley she’d just run out of.

Soon, Khouri’s light eyes were trained in that direction as well. “Someone’s following you?”

“Let’s go inside.” Again, Khouri tilted his head to get a better look at her face- a beautiful one at that. 

Setha shook her head frantically and slightly renewed her struggles against his hold.

Khouri opened the passenger door to the Rover. “At least have a seat in my car while I get some help.”

She tugged more insistently on the imprisoned arm. With her free hand, she kept a death grip on the clutch purse at her chest. Still, her eyes remained on the darkness filling the alley.

“Please?” It was Khouri’s turn to urge. He eased his grip on her wrist and motioned toward the passenger seat.

Eventually, Setha shifted her gaze. She didn’t appear any more trusting of the seat than she did of the faceless threat in the distance. When noise rose from the alleyway, she chose the lesser of two evils and took refuge in the SUV.

She’d slammed the door shut before Khouri could do the honors. She used the flaring sleeves of her mocha swing dress to cover the lower half of her face. Khouri watched her hunker down in the seat, appearing every bit the timid child. The windows were tinted a few shades above complete black, but she remained hunched low.

Khouri told himself to focus on the matter at hand and he reached for his phone. He was about to dial inside the club for someone to come outside, when the sound of a runner caught his ears. Eyes narrowed toward the dark alleyway beyond the club, he waited. He winced, feeling a dull pressure tighten his palms. He realized his hands were aching to reach out and instill the same fear the man running towards him had instilled in the woman who cowered in his car.

Somehow, he resisted the urge. The hooded pursuer raced by the other side of the Rover. Silence returned to the alley as the figure ran further off into the distance.

Khouri turned, intending to help the woman from his car. Again, Setha handled the door herself. Jumping out to the sidewalk, she sprinted off in the opposite direction from her tracker.

“You’re welcome.” Khouri said to her departing figure.

( Continued... )

© 2012 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, AlTonya Washington. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the publisher's written permission. Copyright infringement is a serious offense. Share a link to this page or the author's website if you really like this promotional excerpt.

New Releases from AlTonya Washington
Contemporary Romance
Texas Love Song ISBN: 978-0373862658
His Texas Touch ISBN: 978-0373862696
Family Secrets, Revenge, Corporation Image and Concern for Employees 

Purchase Texas Love Song by AlTonya Washington
Publisher   |   Amazon  |   Kindle eBook   |   Nook Book

Meet the Author
AlTonya Washington
has been a romance novelist for 9 years. Her novel Finding Love Again won the Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award for Best Multicultural Romance in 2004. She lives in North Carolina and recently received her Masters in Library Science. As T. Onyx, AlTonya released “Pleasure’s Powerhouse” in 2011. Her latest Harlequin/Kimani title is “Texas Love Song” first in the LoneStar Seduction Series. 2012 marks the release of the thirteenth title in her popular Ramsey Saga “A Lover’s Sin.”

The Power of Forgiveness
by Adrienne Thompson

In the summer of 1997, I found myself in an impossible situation. I was twenty-four years-old, and had been married since I was sixteen years-old to a man I thought I could not live without. We were the parents of three children: a nine year-old daughter, a seven year-old son, and a five week-old daughter. After a pregnancy which entailed nine entire months of miserable sickness and after enduring years of my husband’s periodic and sporadic disappearing acts, and after learning that he had been having an extramarital affair, he left me.

Although I felt it coming, saw it coming, and knew it was coming, I was still in shock. I didn’t have a job and I had no idea what I was going to do.  So to say that I was hurt and afraid would be an understatement.

I was grieving for my marriage and for the loss of the family I’d always dreamed of having. I was the product of a broken home, and I’d done everything in my power to prevent my own divorce. I was depressed and I felt alone.  In a lot of ways, I was alone.  After all, who else did I know in my position? No one.  Here I was, a single mother with children who needed me.  In essence, I was all they had, but I was in no condition to give them what they needed because I was so full of pain, so full of hatred.

Yes, I hated him.  I despised him for throwing me away and for not loving me the way I’d loved him. I detested him for not being everything I’d dreamed of since my childhood.  I was embarrassed and I was a failure because of him. Oh yes, I hated him. 

And I told him so on more than one occasion.  He’d call to talk to the kids, and I’d hang up in his face or cuss him out. I told him to die and go to hell so many times I lost count.  And I meant every word of it. I hated him and I wanted to hurt him. I wanted him to feel what I felt. I wanted him to cry, and ultimately, I wanted him to suffer.  But buried deep within my desire to punish him was a desire to punish myself.  As much as I hated him for leaving me, I hated myself more for failing to make him want to stay.

And so it went on—this relentless vendetta.  I kept the hate campaign going, oblivious to the fact that my children and I were suffering more than he ever could.  After all, he’d moved on with his life. He’d remarried and had another child. While I continually engaged in self-destructive behaviors and subjected myself to horribly unhealthy relationships, he moved on.  I became a major people-pleaser as I searched for love and acceptance when all the time, there sat my children, loving me unconditionally, accepting me for who I was, and needing my love in return.

My life finally started to turn around when my son began to attend church with one of his teachers, and then he decided to get baptized. Standing next to the baptismal pool, watching my son take such an important step, shook something inside of me, and for the first time in several years, I began to attend church regularly. I listened to the sermons and the songs, and the words began to penetrate my heart. It didn’t take long for a big revelation to hit me. I finally realized that all the years of hating my ex-husband had been a huge waste of time and that I had been very wrong to behave as I had.

I looked at my children and clearly saw that they needed him and that maybe, just maybe, my behavior and attitude towards him had played a part in the distant relationship he shared with them. I was not accepting total blame for the situation, but I understood that I’d played a part in it. So I reached out to him. I apologized, and guess what?  So did he!  I asked him to become a bigger part of our children’s lives, and he did.

Now, this is not a fairy tale.  So, I’m not going to pretend that everything became some perfect scenario.  It didn’t.  But it got better and better.  Once I realized that it takes two to make and break a relationship and that the expectations I’d placed on him had been unfair and impossible to live up to, I forgave him, and I forgave myself.  I saw us both as we were and still are—human. Not perfect, but imperfect, as God made us.

We are actually friends now and we talk often. We have real conversations that don’t even involve our children. We just talk like two adults. He’s even said that my change in attitude showed him that anything is possible. With God in the equation, I have to agree. Anything is possible, even forgiveness.

About the Author
Adrienne Thompson
is a divorced mother of three who resides in Arkansas. She currently works as a Registered Nurse. Her first published novel, Bluesday, is available at or For more information about the author, go to:

Love & Regrets

If love was uncomplicated, this would be a simple story with a fairytale ending - add betrayal, lies, secrets, family drama, and sexual exploits, and love spirals out of control.

Carmen, a thirty something mother of one, is happily married to her loving husband Devon - so she thinks. At the wrong time in her life, along comes Kendall, the man who awakens a side of Carmen that is better left slumber – her oversexed side. 

Carmen can’t seem to get enough of Kendall, even at her wits end. Facing a sure divorce isn’t Carmen’s worse fear; losing her prestigious job has her equally petrified; and Kendall, who happens to be her employee, is out to make sure both take place. Can Carmen salvage her life or has she done irreparable damage?

Second to God no one is more important to Tempest than Sterling. Her every waking moment is spent planning to wed the “Cinderfella” of the NFL, that is until media sensationalism comes into play. Desperate to uncover the truth, Tempest sets out to prove naysayers wrong. Is Sterling up to no good or should Tempest hold fast to her belief in fairytales and happily ever after? 

Dana has one desire - to own a home, marry and start a family by her 27th birthday. That sounds simple enough, if Omar, the man Dana loves, would step up. Enter into the picture Matthew, a modest rich man who woos Dana with romantic excursions and exciting adventures. No sooner than Dana allows Matthew to encroach upon her heart, Omar proves her perceptions of him wrong. Has Dana just made the biggest mistake of her life or is Matthew more than meets the eye?

Love & Regrets exposes the struggles of commitment, the human capacity to rise above hatred and revenge, and the power of love and kinship. 

Meet Sheryl Mallory-Johnson 
I write for my own enjoyment. If I don't enjoy my stories, no one else surely will.

Sheryl Mallory-Johnson was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She holds a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration from Texas Southern University, and a Masters Degree in Social Work from San Diego State University. 

Among Sheryl's many passions, writing a good book is chief. While working in child welfare some years ago, Sheryl Mallory-Johnson discovered her true purpose in life, writing real stories about real people. She began her writing career as a screenwriter and was ultimately led to writing novels. She went on to adapt her first two screenplays into her first published novels. Sheryl's endeavor didn't come easy. Taking a series of writing courses, attending writer's workshops and leaning on her lifelong love of literature, Sheryl became a true novelist. "In any career choice, educating yourself is a necessity," Sheryl says.


Reaching Out to Japan: Interview with Noriko Chapman
By Dr. Daryl D. Green 

In most cases, individuals are not hurt by giving to others. For Noriko Chapman, it has created an international collaboration between a local U.S. nonprofit organization and a global leader in the automobile industry which led to the empowerment and economic independence of disabled workers. Chapman, who is a DENSO production manager, had worked with the Tennessee Rehabilitation Center (TRC) in Maryville to help increase its operations efficiency as part of her MBA project. In 2009, the Maryville TRC was ranked at eighth in contract sales in Tennessee. Its mission is to provide services that help lead individuals who have a physical and/or mental disability to employment and are designed to meet individual needs. 

However, Chapman’s goodwill had many unintended consequences. S-he has had four versions of her first book published in one year, which is impressive for a beginning writer. She pledged 30 percent of the book proceeds to this organization. Chapman also helped to restore $75K of government funding to the Center. Chapman became connected to this organization. She observed, “I was inspired by the staff and by individuals with disabilities who were trying very hard to learn work skills and seek permanent employment.” Through her first book, she was able to bring more attention by the media and the public in general to this disability cause. In fact, it landed the TRC’s director an expense-paid visit to DENSO in Japan.

DENSO Corporation, headquartered in Kariya, Aichi prefecture, Japan, is a leading global automotive supplier with customers that include all the world's major carmakers. With more than 200 subsidiaries and affiliates in 35 countries and regions (including Japan), DENSO had worked to assist the nonprofit organization with a contract that allowed disabled workers to earn income. In reality, DENSO was offering these workers a second chance. Chapman had made this relationship possible.

Therefore, Chapman has become a role model to millions of women looking to overcome extreme obstacles in life. She has been noted and quoted in such media outlets as Knoxville News Sentinel, Black Pearls Magazine, What’s Going On? Talk show, and The Daily Times. The Knoxville Examiner sat down and talked with Chapman during the preparation of her upcoming book tour in Japan.

DDG: It appears you are becoming a role model to many women who do not have these opportunities and freedoms across the globe. What can you tell us about the Japanese culture as it relates to women in power?
Japan is a male-dominated society. Japanese women have more responsibilities at home to raise children, manage household chores and finance and support their husbands who work long hours and usually are breadwinners. Even though the culture is gradually adapting to accommodate the female workforce, career advancement for women in Japan is still limited. The changes are not quick enough to satisfy thousands of bright, hard-working Japanese women. Hopefully Japanese companies recognize the positive characteristics of women who can pay more attention to details or can multitask, and they are learning to utilize these strengths. 

In addition, I believe we can find a variety of avenues to enjoy our lives. I was born as the oldest child in my family who has owned a small company for 101 years. Due to the fact of being a female, I was not given the opportunity to take over the business. Even though it was a disappointing cultural practice, I had the freedom to choose my career and chase my own dreams. I moved to the US 24 years ago and never regret it. This country gives me so many more chances than I could have imagined. I’m so glad now that I am not male!

DDG: Who are the individuals who influenced you when you were growing up in Japan? 
My hero is always my 99-year-old grandmother who lives in Japan. She has taught me to treat people with respect, to be strong and courageous and to be able to say “No” when we have to. She is also a business person whose motto is “customer and quality first.” She lost her husband and brother in the Philippines during WW2. During and after the war, she ran a family business while raising my father and uncle. She established a group and became a chairperson to help widows and women in the community. She never remarried but has devoted all her life to her family, business, employees, widows and single mothers in the community.

DDG: Discuss your planned international book tour to Japan. Why did you decide to do this?
My Japanese colleagues in Japan learned about the book Second Chance, about the Tennessee Rehabilitation Maryville Center with which Denso Manufacturing Tennessee has maintained a good business relationship for years. Some of my colleagues and friends preferred to read my book in Japanese. My family and friends also encouraged me to translate it into Japanese. Some may be interested in my personal stories about surviving cancer. The book cover is a Japanese painting by a lady who has been fighting against cancer. I truly honor her courage and strength. I am blessed to receive the invitation from Japan to introduce the book. 

DDG: What activities do you have planned on your book tour?
A speaking engagement with Japanese ladies to discuss not only the book but also my career in the US and women’s career-related issues. to compare and contrast the cultural differences in Japan and US. 

DDG: What do you hope to gain with this new book in Japanese?
I hope for people to receive the message that small acts can help our community in many different ways and by different talents. 

DDG: The first book was done in conjunction with Lincoln Memorial University’s professor Dr. Daryl Green. In your Japanese book, you collaborated with Reiko Farr. Please discuss how this came to reality.
Reiko is my friend and co-worker. She is a very polite, caring, faithful, hard-working mother. I approached her with the translation proposal because she knew my personality and the time when I was going through cancer in 2009. Our friendship became stronger through collaborating on the Japanese translation.

DDG: How has your company supported your efforts to work with nonprofit organizations? 
My employer, DENSO, has supported me to obtain higher education, prepared me with technical experience and materials to support the LMU MBA project Real World Application, and provided adequate contract work to the center. I’m grateful to have the employer who even provided the opportunity to benchmark a manufacturing facility in Japan for the disabled.

DDG: Since you have come into the public view, you have been an advocate for nonprofit organizations such as the Center. What are your plans for the future?
I really enjoy the expanding opportunities to be able to interact with people from different backgrounds. I’d love to talk with them, listen to them, write about it, and maybe find common goals in order to make positive changes in our society. 

DDG: Where can people get a copy of your book and how do we reach you?
The books are now available at bookstores or online distributors such as I also can be reached through social media such as Facebook.

© 2011 by Daryl D. Green
The photo credit goes to David Williams

Second Chance: An In-depth Case Study on Nonprofit Organization's Resource Allocation and Operational Optimization  by Noriko Iwanaga Chapman and Dr. Daryl D Green (Contributor)

Second Chance presents nonprofit organizations with a way to use operations management tools to make them more efficient and better equipped to assist their clients and constituents in meeting their needs. Through the eyes of student Noriko Chapman, readers will be taken on a magical journey of overcoming a difficult situation in operations management and life. 

This book will guide to:
• Learn how to navigate operations management as it relates to nonprofit organizations. 

• Gain greater confidence in your ability to apply these concepts to your own problems and issues. 

• Discover how to break from your own limitations by breaking the barriers of your self-doubt. 

Noriko Iwanaga Chapman assisted Tennessee Rehabilitation Center, a local TN nonprofit organization, to become more efficient with their program to assist the disabled. During the research, she was inspired by the staff, and individuals with disabilities who were trying very hard to learn work skills and seek permanent employment. Her research was the main inspiration for this co-authored book with her Lincoln Memorial University MBA instructor, Dr. Daryl Green, Second Chance: An In-depth Case Study on Nonprofit Organization's Resource Allocation and Operational Maximization.

Purchase from Amazon Today!
ISBN-10: 1461146070 
ISBN-13: 978146370591 

Second Chance Book Review Written By Teresa Keith
What a great inspiration! Ms. Chapman tells the story of using her own personal struggle as the impetus to help others. Cancer is such a scary diagnosis; but by overcoming the Big C, she found the courage and bravery to step outside her comfort range. Ms. Chapman not only worked to further her own skills and knowledge, but also by applying prinicples that she uses in her daily work life, she helped strengthen a local nonprofit organization. A shining example of how one person can make a difference in the lives of so many and how second chances can be paid forward. 


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 Andrea Foy

Andrea Foy is an author, speaker and coach. She conducts workshops and seminars on topics such as: Women in Management, Leadership Skills for Women, Professional Presentation Skills, Self Esteem, Assertiveness, Diversity, Leadership Skills and Business Etiquette. Ms. Foy has been certified by the Professional Woman Network as a Professional Coach and Diversity Consultant.

Ms. Foy’s knowledge of business and professionalism comes from over 20 years of customer service experience working for companies such as McDonald’s, Sears, Delta and USAir Airlines, American Express Financial Advisors, Sharkey’s Modeling and Talent Agency the Federal Government. She is a member of Professional Women’s Network and the National Black MBA Association. 

Among her many accomplishments, Ms. Foy has authored her first book, has a Bachelor’s in Communications from Wright State University and is working on her Master’s Degree in Business and Technology specializing in Management and Leadership from Capella University. She is also an Advanced Communicator with Toastmasters International.

BPM: What are you most thankful for today? 
My family, my health, my success, friends, talent and the Obama family! I am thankful for being a published author. It is one of the most challenging but rewarding things you can do in life. Being a self-published author puts you in complete control and it is nice.

BPM: Do you have holiday rituals that absolutely, positively must be followed?
It is all about the food. I love eating my way through the holiday! I used to be a flight attendant and on what I thought would be my first Christmas away from home, I pulled an all nighter and got home by noon on Christmas day. That was considered the best present by my family.

BPM: Do you have a favorite holiday menu, story or song?  Share with us.
Menu – Turkey, sweet potatoes, homemade rolls, and cranberry sauce. Story and song – The Little Drummer Boy story and song.

BPM: What was your most memorable holiday from the past? 
Christmas! When I was about 12 yrs old, I remember coming home from school and my little brother, who was about 5 was waiting for me at the door. I wondered why he was so excited to see me. As soon as I got through the door he grabbed my hand and pulled me towards our Christmas tree which had a bunch of newly wrapped presents under it. 

Before my mom or I could stop him, he excitedly told me everything that I had gotten for Christmas. I was so disappointed. I moped around for days. Christmas finally came and I was delighted to learn that the best presents had not been wrapped and I still had some holiday magic to enjoy.

BPM: Tell us about your latest book, HIRE POWER: How to Find, Get, and Keep a Job.  What are the main subjects discussed?
My book is a non-fiction book for the mature YA reader, with tips on job hunting, customer service and working in general.

BPM: How important is reading to you? 
Communicating in some way, talking, reading, writing, it is like breathing to me. It calms me down and soothes me, no matter what the content.

BPM: Have you ever considered what kind of legacy you want to leave future generations? What do you want to be remembered for? 
I hope my book is used for future generations because they all need to learn.

BPM: How may readers contact you online and pick up your latest work?
Readers can purchase HIRE POWER: How to Find, Get, and Keep a Job at my website:  and It is available as an e-book too.

Purchase HIRE POWER by Andrea Foy
Author Website: 
ISBN-10: 0981743692 
ISBN-13: 978-0981743691 

The Robbin Hoods 
by Ericka Williams 

This story is about the unattainable "American Dream", when the only dream hopeless and uneducated men have is to steal someone else's "Dream Come True."

Based On Actual Events...

The Robbin Hoods are burglars. They are hood stars who are living the good life splurging their money on women, fast cars, jewels, nice homes, trips, and drugs. Chance was from Brooklyn. His mother moved him and his siblings to New Jersey for a better life. They moved to the suburbs where the dangers and crime of city life were not supposed to exist. 

Very early on his family learns that the have-nots are surrounded by those who are successful; as opposed to the projects where everyone is struggling. Chance chooses a life of robbery to support his mother and siblings. The "crew" started out robbing houses in their town and the surrounding working class and middle class towns. 

What started out as a petty crime with teenagers who would cut school and break and enter into houses, on foot, turned into a multi-million dollar empire when the crew took their craft to a higher level. They graduated from boys to men, who made millions of dollars when they began venturing into exclusive upper class neighborhoods. The Robbin Hoods is about what happens when you take from others, instead of building your own. 

Order The Robbin Hoods by Ericka Williams 
ISBN-10: 0615474322 
ISBN-13: 978-0615474328 

Amazon Reader Book Review by L. Taylor
4.25 Rating for The Robbin Hoods by Ericka Williams 

A drug addict mother, younger brother, sister and dead father, Chance Major has been thrown into being head of the household at an early age. His mother's abusive drug addict boyfriend is the only male figure he's known for too they move for a better life. Chance takes the responsibility of taking care of his mother and siblings seriously. Drug dealing not being his thing; he takes to breaking, entering and taking from those who have to support his have not family. Chance has smarts but he uses them for his illegal activities.

'You do the crime, do your time...come back and start all over again'. Chance and his crew do just that; only on a higher level, until......

Ms. Williams has written a very good story of how these young Black men became addicted to B&E...they found a niche in life and got overly comfortable in it. How and why? In my opinion because they had no blue print or guidance on how to be a responsible man. No father's shoes to walk they walked in their own...drew up their own blue print along the way.

Chance is the perfect example of a lot of our young men that are imprisoned for more years than they are old...the result of the man that helped create them decide to leave them (sometimes before they are born) to fend for themselves. Without the guidance of a male figure in their lives, young men make choices that they think make them a MAN, money and women, but find it has only two consequences...death or imprisonment. 

Good job on a story that sends a message...1.Stop blaming others (even the white man) and put the blame where it goes...irresponsible Black fathers and 2.Stop going in raw dog.....use a condom or practice abstinence.

Visit Ericka Williams 
Author website:

Intimate Conversation with author  Ericka William

Ericka Williams has had a passion for writing since junior high school. She attended Howard University and graduated from Rutgers University. Ericka's first dream was to become a journalist, but she began a teaching career instead. Ericka has been a Language Arts teacher in Paterson, NJ, since 1998. 

Ericka is also a mother of two, an actor and independent filmmaker. Her hobbies are movie going, roller-skating, and traveling. Ericka has written five novels on various subjects, but all of her novels touch on social issues and overcoming personal conflicts. All of her novels have a moral or lesson.

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?
I have become an author as a result of feeling very strong about the fact that as a people, we are too complacent and mentally bound. I try to change our thinking by showing us our ills. When my cousin died I became an author.

BPM: How did you initially break into the publishing industry? What road did you travel? 
Initially I used a subsidiary publisher. I then met my publisher, Life Changing Books at the Harlem Book Fair, and then I started my own company, ESharan Publishing. It is important to learn all facets of the business.

BPM: What is your definition of success? 
Accomplishing your goals makes you successful. Your goals should be prioritized from small ones to big ones. As you check them off, you will get more and more focused and better and better at accomplishing them.

BPM: Success leaves clues, whose clues did you follow on your journey? 
Success teaches you that it is not something to take for granted. It is something that you must appreciate and not be obsessed over. Success comes in big and small packages, and it comes and goes. Sometimes you must fail to appreciate when it comes back around.

BPM: What books or authors made a difference in your life? 
Acts of Faith, by Iyanla Vanzant. It taught me that I have all the ingredients within me to realize my dreams and to be content and have inner peace.

BPM: How has your writing style evolved over the years? What stimulated your growth the most? 
I went from writing linear stories to rollercoaster rides, stories with twists and multiple dimensions. I like the fact that I was able to step out of myself and write about a murderous as much as I despise murder. I did not want to be pigeon holed.

BPM: What are some of the benefits of being an author that makes it all worthwhile? 
Definitely meeting people and traveling across the country. I love book club meetings the most when the members know the books’ every detail.

BPM: Do you have any advice for people seeking to publish a book? 
I advise people not to worry about editing at first, to just “write the book.”

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… We all can change.

BPM: Introduce us to your main characters. Do you have any favorites?  On Kindle or Nook? 
The Robbin Hoods is about misguided men who are “digging their own ditch.” We all know men like them. They are nice on the inside, but ruthless and twisted in the eyes of others. We know men who would have been great, successful examples of triumph had they only believed in themselves.

The Robbin Hoods is about Chance Major. He is a criminal-minded, destructive, inconsiderate, “sweetheart.” He loves his family and will protect them but does not know that he must first protect himself for that to be possible. Chance is a bad boy who you will love to love. We all will feel his pain of having a drug addicted mother and losing his father at a young age and feeling the pressure to provide and become a man, without the ingredients to achieve that goal. His friends are just like him, although some are worse than him. We want Chance to win, but he is so angry and hardheaded. The Robbin Hoods is not yet on Kindle or Nook.

BPM: What inspired you to write this book? Why now? Ever experience writers block? 
The main character is based on a very close friend who spent his life going in and out of prison. I felt he deserved to be made human after years of being demonized in the local newspapers and news shows.

BPM: What insight does the book give readers on living in the suburbs vs. city life? 
This book gives insight on living in the suburbs and on the way that many boys grow up thinking that committing crime is their only option.

BPM: In writing your novels, how do you develop the plot? Did you have difficulty keeping the story on point? How much research was required, if any? 
I grew up with it, and knew it well. Most stories take on a life of their own even after you try to follow your outline very closely.

BPM: What particular scenes from the novel will grab readers and stimulate open discussions? 
The burglary scenes are surprising and his sexual promiscuity is typical but still interesting. You wonder why he doesn’t see himself running into a brick wall eventually. You get mad when he doesn’t but continue to want him to. We care about him although he seems not to care about himself; or in a healthy way.

BPM: Who do you want to reach with your book and the message enclosed? 
I want everyone to know that our materialism is destroying all of our lives, causing us to make bad choices and worship superficial things; to the detriment of our future and success and freedom.

BPM: What should readers DO after reading this book? 
I want readers to mentor juveniles, boys as well as girls, take part in improving their mindsets and shaping their lives. Help young people to value their lives and other people’s lives. Create opportunities for young people to have better options.

BPM: Do you try to avoid the temptation of interjecting your own value system or ministry in your writing? 
I do not always avoid it. That is my voice I am using in my characters’ voices. I am making a stand by spreading what I believe. Some will agree with my morals and values and some won’t. The narrator is the author in the form of many characters.

BPM: Share with us a quote or brief excerpt from one of the most powerful chapters.
A scene when Chance and his children's’ mother have a heart to heart is important because he basically tells her that he is not “marriage material” and that she should just be happy that he is in the home with her and the kids. He has not idea to try to be a better man or desire to.

BPM: Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book? 
I want readers to gain an understanding that everyone who does something bad is not a bad person.

BPM: Will the digital age or social media usage change the face of publishing? 
The digital age will make the culture of books, authors, and readers less personal. I love meeting the people. How will we have book fairs without books?

BPM: How do feel about selling digital books vs. selling in a brick and mortar store? What impact do you think electronic book sales will have on black authors? On indie authors? 
The electronic age is dangerous to the culture. It takes our face away and the impact of the human touch.

BPM: What has been your most difficult hurdle to leap? Marketing, promotions or gaining media exposure, etc. How can EDC Creations and our readers help you?
I would say that it all takes a lot of work, perseverance, and determination. I would like EDC Creations to help me stay relevant by allowing you to be an outlet to keep pushing myself and my brand. 

BPM: How much does “word of mouth” play into the success of your book? What grassroots strategies have you used to spread the word about your book? 
Word of mouth is very important and I do it all from driving around with books in my trunk and going to Laundromats, barber shops, nail salons and beauty parlors; to calling back people who call my voicemail to meeting people in parking lots to bring them my books. 

BPM: Share with us your latest news. How may our readers follow you online? 
My final installment of the  “A Woman Scorned” series is next,  A Woman Scorned 3-Déjà vu.

Ericka Williams  
Twitter: Authorerickaw 
Facebook: Ericka Monique Williams

Order The Robbin Hoods by Ericka Williams
ISBN-10: 0615474322 
ISBN-13: 978-0615474328 


A Blessing and A Curse 
by Andrea Clinton

In "A Blessing and A Curse" Malika has the life every woman wants, a hard working husband who makes it happen financially; kids, both adopted as well as biological; her career as an artist with partners who own an art gallery; nice house, nice neighbors and the gift of foresight.

Malika couldn't ask for much more, until her gift of sight and infrequent ability to read minds opened her up to her husband's disgust, followed by his uncaring desire to leave her. She can't figure it out, what has gone wrong? But a well needed vacation helps her find her worth but to what detrimental end? 

Malika finds a different type of groove in her story,  A Blessing and A Curse. 

Purchase copies of  A Blessing and A Curse
ISBN-10: 0981837646 
ISBN-13: 978-0981837642 
Order books: 

Intimate Conversation with Andrea Clinton
Hosted by BAN Radio Show

Previously an English teacher and high school principal, Andrea Clinton is a Novelist, Poet, Essayist and aspiring Screenwriter and Filmmaker. Andrea is a Montclair State University Graduate, who's achieved a degree in English, Film and Journalism. She's the founder and CEO of the non-profit organization, People Helping People, Inc., whose mission is to help citizens become independent and self-sufficient; Andrea is Editor in Chief of AMISTAD newspaper and magazine; and is presently working on a biography and screenplay featuring her uncle, Rock and Roll Hall of famer, George Clinton of Parliament/Funkadelic and the Clinton family.

Struck with Lupus in 2002, Andrea decided that if she were blessed to live, she would bring her countless stories into fruition by publishing them for the world to read. Her first novel is one of five in the first volume of, "Life Knows No Bounds." Andrea began this chronicle to exhibit to the world and address through fiction, the many directions life leads us in, regardless of which class we belong to. Andrea also set out to express to the world that life isn't after anyone in particular, it just doesn't know boundaries.

With the goal of helping people to understand and accept life, Andrea is said to write with that same creative gene and knack that made her uncle George Clinton the musical great that he is. See her many book reviews that support Andrea Clinton as a creative and entertaining great writer on the rise.

BAN: You have overcome many obstacles in life, how do you stay focused and keep writing? Do you have days when you just want to give up writing?
Many. In fact, it’s the reason I’m just now publishing. I had heard so many horror stories about the book industry that I ran like a chicken for many years, sharing my stories in magazines and newspapers as well as with friends. Even when professors encouraged me to send my work out to authors I wouldn’t because it seemed too cut-throat and I wasn’t up for the task. After all the research I did and an agent who seemed rough around the edges, I just did away with the thought. But, when I was struck with lupus in 2002, I regretted having 10 or more year old stories that received rave reviews, but were all packed in trunks and storage boxes. It was too heavy on my mind as I lay sick that I never published, nor attempted to. All this, while laying and worrying about dying from lupus. So when I was well, a publicist I’d consulted with at that time said with having lupus and being fearful of not having the time to live to publish my finished books, I should self publish. Thus, the 1st book in the “Life Knows No Bounds series.”

BAN: Do you have any favorite authors or books? 
Sure, J. California Cooper, she’s outstanding. I started out writing stories like the ones she writes, with the same aim to enlighten others about previous goings on in the south and things they forget about. I also love Terry McMillan, Alice Walker, Michael Baisden and Eric Jerome Dickey. Other Books in African Literature.: Mother To Mother, Mema, and Devil On The Cross. 

My literary muses are, and I say it proudly, Richard Wright who made me want to tell my story; and my favorite author,  J. California Cooper who pushed me to complete my first short short story after I read family. Charles W. Chestnut who was the first African American realism writer in the 1800′s, he shed light on slavery from a different angle; and Charlotte Perkins Gilman who wrote, “The Yellow Wallpaper” after experiencing some mental health issues and felt the condition and the treatment of women needed to be exposed so male doctors at that time could stop treating women as if they were insignificant and limp. They make me not just want to write, but they make me want to blast off in the literary world! They are my Duracell batteries... my muse. 

BAN: Name three people who inspire you and the community. 
Dr. Cornell West because he’s attacking issues. He knows we sleep and he’s right there in the trenches with that gong in our ears saying, “Wake up! See what’s going on around you!?  Look, it’s right there.” He’s really giving us the 411, and often times many others when he’s on shows like Bill Maher. 

Monique, because she is truly one of us and showed us when she was doing comedy shows, on Apollo, telling plus size ladies to love themselves and she even took it to a TV show and a movie. Then topped herself by winning an Oscar and topped that with a TV show where she’s putting the spotlight on others and helping them promote their projects. Monique is good people and we need that. 

Also, whether people realize it or not, I believe Russell Simmons inspires us. In the front of our mind we may not give it too much thought but, you see a man who came from the same neighborhood we everyday folk come from, where he made it from scratch and still moving ahead, it makes you want to get back up when you fall down; he delivers hope just by doing his own thing.

BAN: How did you start your writing career? Who influenced you the most?
I think I knew I wanted to be a writer when my grandmother, a teacher who specialized in Early Childhood Education, gave me books to read to her at around six years old. After each story I read, I began to sit and tell her stories. So one day she gave me a pencil and paper and said, "Here, sit down right here and write your story." I did, and a few years later when I was reading a play for homework, she introduced me to writing plays. Experiencing those different ways to tell stories, I knew at that point I was going to be a writer. 

BAN: What's the best literary advice you would offer other writers? 
"Keep writing until you find your voice, and realize some people spend a life time never finding theirs."

BAN: What do you want to accomplish as a writer? 
My plan is to do a lot with my writing. I have a few screenplays I’m holding out until I get a few books published. A few of them I wrote with Queen Latifah in mind, our families know one another. I would like to do a few screenplays for Latifah, Sean Blakemore and Treach and a few others such as: Jada Pinkett-Smith who I fully support; Will Smith in his Sci-Fi adventures; and Laurence Fishburne, Robert Dinero and Al Pacino, all of whom I admire, and many more. Also, I would like to bring some of my books to life in screenplays and stage plays.

BAN: Tell our readers about Life Knows No Bounds Series latest release
  "A Blessing and A Curse."    
In "A Blessing and A Curse" Malika has the life every woman wants, a hard working husband who makes it happen financially; kids, both adopted as well as biological; her career as an artist with partners who own an art gallery; nice house, nice neighbors and the gift of foresight.

Malika couldn't ask for much more, until her gift of sight and infrequent ability to read minds opened her up to her husband's disgust, followed by his uncaring desire to leave her. She can't figure it out, what has gone wrong? But a well needed vacation helps her find her worth but to what detrimental end? 

Purchase copies of  A Blessing and A Curse
ISBN-13: 978-0981837642 
Order books: 

BAN: Do you have any upcoming projects that we can look forward to? 

Yes, Clinton Family Ain’t No Robinsons, which is a biography I’m working on for my uncle George Clinton of Parliament/Funkadelic. Also, a few more novels from the Life Knows No Bounds chronicle: A Blessing and A Curse; Where Do We Go From Here; One Man is Smoke and The Other is Fire; Notes & Messages, and a few non-fiction books: Death of my Other Half; and, Why Men Aren’t All Alike & How to Deal With Them. I innovated on a few of these books so things aren’t so typical-usual.

BAN: Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself or your novel? 
I would like to say to the money grubbing gold diggers, especially those aspiring to wear this title like a tiara, to please take note of the gold diggers in this book. They used men for money or played mind games with men and look at where it got them. The examples in the book were the bare minimum of what really happens when people find they’re being played for their hard earned money or that their feelings are being toyed with. I plan to further the goal of enlightening you of the consequences and repercussions of a money grubbing gold digger in a novel titled, "Tracy," one of the characters in this novel. Due to our insufficient-dependent women out there who like to gamble with their life using and toying with men, this book is necessary.

To those who want to know the history of Islam here in America, I offer you another view in this novel. Although the characters and details are fictitious, the tragedies, issues, hardships and interruption of the Muslims of that time period are factual. What was developed to give a sense of direction and self worth was strategically ripped apart and many many Muslims went astray. 

BAN: How can readers purchase your books and get to know you better?
You can buy it from  or my website at:,  Barnes & Noble, and your local bookstores. Establishments buying more than one should contact me at:  to receive bulk or wholesale discounts. 

Intimate Conversation with author Pat Tucker

Hello Pat it gives me great pleasure to have you on the couch with me today! The Black Pearls readers are in for a literary treat. 
By day, Pat Tucker Wilson works as a radio news director in Houston, TX. By night, she is a talented writer with a knack for telling page-turning stories. A former television news reporter, she draws on her background to craft stories readers will love. 

With more than fifteen years of media experience, the award-winning broadcast journalist has worked as a reporter for ABC, NBC and Fox affiliate TV stations and radio stations in California and Texas. She also co-hosts the literary talk show, “From Cover to Cover,” with ReShonda Tate Billingsley.

Known as one of the fastest writers in the country, Pat has wowed editors with her ability to turn out five to ten thousand words a day. But it's not just quantity that has Pat at the top of her game. The quality of her stories is what keeps the readers coming back. A much sought-after ghostwriter, Pat gets her greatest joy in creating her own stories. She is the author of six novels and has participated in three anthologies, including New York Times Bestselling Author Zane’s Caramel Flava. 

A graduate of San Jose State University, Pat is a member of the National and Houston Association of Black Journalists and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. She is married with two children.  Visit  

BPM: Tell us about your journey to becoming a published author.
I burst onto the literary scene as an independent publisher/author back in 2003. My self published title When Loved Ones Lie was my pride and joy, and I was so proud of it. Unfortunately, the book was not picked up by a mainstream publisher, but that didn't stop me. Armed with determination and a sample chapter of a book I wrote specifically for a small press, I headed to Book Expo America. After making a few connections, and following up weeks later. I landed not one but two book deals. And that's how my journey to becoming a published author began.

BPM: What are the holidays like for you and your family? What are you the most thankful for now?
I'm most thankful that my entire family is healthy, of good sound mind and have quite a bit to be thankful for. We actually enjoy being around each other and rarely fight. The holidays are a wonderful time for my family, because I have small children. The holidays are special because it's an exciting time for them. This year my family will spend some time doing a community service project that I hope will help the children understand how fortunate they are to have a loving mother and father who work hard to provide for them.

BPM: Can you tell us about the best holiday experience you have had in life? I'm sure there has been many awesome events!
My family is spread out, from Belize, to Los Angeles, and Seattle, Washington. The best holiday experience for me was the last time my entire family traveled to Houston to spend the holidays with my immediate family. We didn't do anything extraordinary, but the simple things we did took on a completely different meaning because we were together. 

BPM: When did you get your first inkling to write, and how did you advance the call for writing? Who helped to influence you the most? 
I've been writing for as long as I could remember. Early in life I knew I'd make my living as a writer. I wanted to become a journalist at the age of 12 and from that day forward, everything I did was working toward making that happen. Unintentionally, my mother helped influence my passion for both reading and writing. As a kid when I was in trouble, my punishment was being sent to my room with nothing but books, a notepad and pencils. 

BPM: Tell us about the book. What message did you hope to convey to the readers? 
Readers will get a glimpse into the secret and unique lives of the women behind NFL coaches—and with them, game day takes on a whole new meaning as these vixens turn up the heat off the field.   NFL wife  B.J. Almond has had enough. When she walks in to find her head coach husband in bed with one of his assistant coaches’ wives, she is livid. But what really sets her off is when she discovers the other wives knew about the affair all along. Now she’s furious and hungry for revenge. And what better way to exact that revenge than to air everyone’s dirty laundry in a juicy tell-all book! 

BPM: Is this the book you intended on writing or did it take on a life of its own as you were writing?
Football Widows turned out just as I'd expected. I've had occasions when I started with one idea and it blossomed into something totally different, but I'm happy to say that didn't happen with Football Widows.

BPM: Which character can you identify with the most? Why?
I probably identified with each character in one way or another. I appreciated B.J.'s strength when needed, Mona's take charge attitude when necessary, Jewel's need to keep the peace, and even Ella's vulnerability. I think these characters strengths and weaknesses are what made them so real with me for the time that I was telling their stories.

BPM: Ultimately, what do you want readers to take away from your book?
Ultimately, I always want my readers to walk away satisfied. I want to leave them with thoughts about the characters and whose story line resonated most with them. I hope that they have a new perspective and are willing to change their outlooks when necessary.

BPM: What would you like to accomplish as you continue to write?
As I continue to write I want to expose my readers to issues near and dear to my heart. I want to educate them while I entertain, and hopefully give them a new perspective. I long for the day when I can see my work translated to film because I think it’s a way for authors to broaden their audience. I don't want to change people's mind about a topic or issue, but hopefully provide them with a different perspective.

BPM: Please share with us one or two thoughts or reflections on your journey to this point in writing or your philosophy on life in general? 
Writing is power in my opinion, I am passionately in love with the transformative power of the written word. I especially enjoy the ability to transport readers to new worlds, introduce them to new and exciting people, and sometimes alter their perspective. I challenge myself as a writer to put a twist on the same ol' story and help quench a reader's literary thirst. My general philosophy on life is to keep learning and always keep an open mind.

BPM: If you could change just one thing in the literary world, what would it be and why?

If there was one thing I could change about the literary world, it would be a better understanding of where things are going. Meaning, I'd educate black readers about just how much black authors need their support. Readers have stopped buying books and we desperately need them back. We need them to use their powerful buying power to keep the industry going in the right direction. We also need our readers to spread the word and not the book!

BPM: What legacy do you hope to leave future generations of authors and readers?
I hope my legacy will be one of promoting education through the written word. I want readers to know my name is synonymous with a great story. So when they pick up a Pat Tucker book, they know that they will be entertained and educated from page one to the very last page.

BPM: What’s next on your horizon…can we expect more of same, or will you give us something different? 
Party Girl is next for me. The book drops in Feb. 2012. You should never expect more of the same from me. I like to switch things up and keep the reader wondering what to expect next. In Party Girl a young mother of three is on death row after she's convicted of a crime she didn't commit. She accepts a ride from neighborhood friends, not knowing they robbed a store and killed two people during the robbery. The book focuses on the law of Parties here in Texas. It says if you are with someone and a murder occurs during a crime, everyone is eligible for the death penalty regardless of whether you knew a crime was taking place or took part in the murder. 

I strongly believe this country's justice system is both broken and flawed. Black and brown people as well as the poor, and uneducated, are often victims of a system that is supposed to be blind. Instead our prisons and death row are over populated with many who are innocent of the very crime for which they were condemned. 

BPM: How can readers contact you so that they can stay in the loop?
I'm a social media butterfly, meaning you can find me on Facebook/pattucker Facebook/mingle with Pat Tucker Facebook/Pat PL Wilson Tucker Facebook/Pat Tucker readers and on twitter I'm authorpattucker, please follow me, I'm always looking for new followers and people to follow. Then you can find me at  

Purchase FOOTBALL WIDOWS By Pat Tucker
ISBN-10: 1593093152 
ISBN-13: 978-1593093150 

Football Widows, by Pat Tucker, gives a glimpse into the lives of the women behind NFL coaches. The synopsis says: "During football season, when NFL coaches gear up for war on the gridiron, their wives are left to fend for themselves. NFL wife B.J. Almond has had enough. When she walks in to find her head coach husband in bed with one of his assistant coaches' wives, she is livid. But what really sets her off is when she discovers the other wives knew about the affair all along. Now she's furious and hungry for revenge. And what better way to exact that revenge than to air everyone's dirty laundry in a juicy tell-all book! 

B.J. knows where all the bodies are buried, and she's digging up all the dirt. But before she starts writing, she's running up the score with a lawsuit against her husband and his mistress. Armed with flight records, copies of naughty emails, phone records, and pictures, B.J. isn't holding back. And neither are the other football wives, who will stop at nothing to keep their dirty secrets from going public."  Football Widows is out in October. Tucker is a radio news director in Texas.

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! 



Angela's Awakening 
by Ariel Driskell

Angela's Awakening is a story of a woman who gives up a high powered career to become a wife and stay at home mother. And after the birth of her second daughter she begins to struggle with postpartum depression. And one day, she decides to leave her family, thinking they'd be better off without her.  But before she can leave them, she has a near death experience, causing her re-evaluate her decision to leave behind the only people she's ever really loved. 

This is a story about the importance of finding oneself when all seems lost. And I also believe that a lot of wome n will be able to relate to this story because postpartum depression is something that people struggle with everyday.  Read the short story below.  Enjoy!


Angela was not sure what made it more difficult for her to see, the warm tears flowing down her cheeks, or the rain dancing across her windshield. As she sat at the stop sign thinking that her two girls and loving husband would be better off without her, there was the sound of a horn blaring that interrupted her thoughts. She quickly wiped her face and made a left turn onto the street that would take her to the highway. Angela felt like she was driving on auto pilot. She did not have to think about where she was going. She had driven to the airport many times before to pick up Phillip from his many business trips.

As her thoughts turned to her husband of ten years, she began to replay in her mind the first time that they met. He was tall, dark, handsome, and walked with a self confidence that you couldn’t help but notice. Every woman in the room wanted him, but Angela was the one he’d chosen. She remembered inhaling the scent of his cologne as he introduced himself to her, and in that moment she knew she would belong to him, and all he had to do was ask.

They’d met at a mixer for singles and six months into the relationship, Phillip proposed. Angela knew she had a good black man, and without hesitation she said yes. She was thirty at the time and up for junior partner at her mid size law firm and Phillip, who was thirty two, was a rising star at his architectural firm. The two became the perfect power couple.

After being married for three glorious years, Angela decided that it was time to give her husband what he’d been waiting so patiently for, a family. She’d never really seen herself as the mothering type; probably because her mother had told her she wasn’t and she’d bought into it after hearing it her whole life. Or maybe it was because Angela’s mother hadn’t been much of a mother herself. Angela’s conception had been an accident, and her mother constantly reminded her of the fact that she had never really been wanted.
None of that seemed to matter anymore because she had Phillip now. His love for her made all things seem possible. It had even been her idea to put her career on hold and stay at home for a few years with the baby. She’d longed to see herself the way he did. The tears seemed to be coming harder and faster now as she thought about the first time she’d told him that she was pregnant.

“Baby, are you sure?” Phillip asked for the hundredth time as he swept Angela up into his arms once again.

“Yes, sweetie,” she replied laughing harder now. “I had my doctor’s appointment today and she confirmed it.”

Phillip lowered her to the ground and began to shower her face with kisses. “I’m taking you off for a very special weekend to celebrate.”  Despite the fact she had a major case coming up in court next month and had planned on working on it all weekend, she could not refuse the man she loved with all her heart. They spent the whole weekend cuddled up in front of the fireplace in their room, only leaving the warmth of their new found haven to eat. She’d never imagined that she could have ever been as happy as she was at that moment.

When Anne Marie was born, she became the second greatest love of Angela’s life. She had no idea how the human heart was capable of holding so much love and joy for more than one person. Having his child made her fall deeper in love with Phillip, strengthening their marriage even more. He cherished their daughter, and spent as much time at home with her and Angela as possible. Raising a child was a full time job, so Phillip tried to be as supportive and helpful as his schedule allowed him too. He didn’t want Angela to feel overwhelmed while staying at home with the baby. He’d even began encouraging her to think about returning to work when Anne Marie turned three, but Angela had decided they should have another child. She knew how hard it was for her growing up without any siblings to share things with, and didn’t want her daughter to experience that as well.

It wasn’t until they had Samantha that things changed for them. Once they returned home from the hospital, Angela’s overwhelming joy had been suddenly replaced with what felt like an endless pit of despair. She felt anxious about everything, and although Phillip had taken time off from work, his being there didn’t bring her any comfort.  Concerned and not knowing what else to do, Phillip suggested that Angela see someone about her mental state, and so she did. The doctor diagnosed her as having post partum depression, and told her that many new mothers experienced it, and that it was nothing to be concerned about because there were drugs that could help her feel like her old safe self again. But because Angela wanted to breast feed Samantha, she turned down the option of taking medication. Samantha was now two years old, and the depression had only seemed to have worsened over the years.

The bad days outweighed the good days, and sometimes the days ran together and it was hard to discern which was which. No matter how much Phillip tried to help, it was never enough, and it was slowly killing their marriage. The strong vivacious woman he’d fallen in love with was disappearing more and more each day, and he felt helpless. Angela knew it was breaking his heart, which is why she felt all the more reason to leave him, t o leave them. It had taken them almost ten years to build the wonderful life they had together and she was going to destroy it in just one day. She knew it was selfish, but she didn’t know what else to do. She’d lost herself so long ago, and she didn’t know how to get back to the woman she used to be.

All of a sudden there was a beeping noise inside of the car, alerting her that her fuel was low, and that brought her out of the daze she’d been in. Angela was only a few miles away from the airport, but she figured that the least she could do was put gas in the tank so Phillip wouldn’t have too when he came to pick up the car. She exited the highway, and pulled into the first gas station she saw.

Angela slowly flipped down the visor and looked herself over in the mirror, hoping her eyes weren’t too puffy from all the crying she’d been doing. She wiped her face, and ran her fingers through her short hair, trying to gather her composure before exiting the car. When she opened her wallet to retrieve her debit card, her eyes fell upon the picture they’d taken last year during Christmas time. She smiled as she thought the things that had taken place that day.  Phillip had given her the Tiffany necklace she was wearing in the picture as an early Christmas present. She awoke that morning and to her surprise, there on his pillow was a box containing the necklace she’d admired almost three months ago. She slipped into her robe and went downstairs to find the kitchen a mess. Her first instinct was to be upset, but then she saw Anne Marie standing on a stool and leaning over the pancake griddle, and Samantha, covered in pancake flour and her husband trying frantically to clean her up, she couldn’t help but laugh a little.

“Mommy, we are making pancakes, your favorite,” Samantha exclaimed once she saw Angela standing at the bottom of the stairs. Samantha wiggled from her father’s grasp and ran to her mother, wrapping her tiny arms around her legs. Angela laughed, and picked up her daughter, and kissed her nose.

“Good morning my beautiful girls,” Angela said, as she walked over to Anne Marie, who was grinning from ear to ear. Angela kissed her on the top of her head as Anne Marie carefully flipped a pancake, making sure it was perfect. She took a seat beside Phillip and kissed him softly on the lips, thanking him for her necklace. The girls giggled and yelled for them to stop.   “Okay, okay,” Angela said tickling Samantha. That had definitely been one of the good days.

She ran her fingers across the plastic cover that protected the picture, and wiped away the tears as they began to fall again. She felt a slight twinge of pain and remorse as she looked at the two girls in the picture and realized that she wouldn’t be there to help them get ready to go out on their first dates. She and Phillip had joked often about how he would attempt to scare off any suitors the two would inevitably have when they became young women. There would be no more dance recitals, choir practices, or school plays. She was leaving everything behind in hopes of finding a new life, a more fulfilling life, or so she hoped.

Phillip was her best friend, and she prayed that one day he would be able to forgive her for leaving him without saying goodbye. She tried to explain as much as possible in the letter she’d left him but a letter was not a proper way to end things. She knew she should have never taken on the role of motherhood, but she wanted more than anything to give him what he wanted. She did love him and the girls, as much as she could, and in her own way. She hoped that once she got settled, wherever that might be, that he would allow them to come visit her.  They were after all a part of her just as much as they were a part of him.

She closed her wallet and placed it back into her purse and exited the car. As Angela stood and pumped her gas, she’d become so distracted by her own circumstances that when she saw the young man walk into the gas station, she didn’t even wonder why he was wearing a jacket with a hood on in 90 degree weather. Besides, it had been raining and she was wearing a jacket herself, so she thought nothing of it. 

Shortly after he entered the store, shots rang out, and the hooded figure came running out at full speed with the owner of the gas station chasing behind him and shooting. It had all happened so fast, and Angela hadn’t had time to react. It didn’t seem real until she felt the pain, and her hand automatically clutched her side. It was a throbbing sensation she’d never felt before, and then she saw blood and realized she had been shot.
In shock she fell to the ground. The young man jumped into the car that had been waiting for him, and they sped away leaving tire marks, broken glass, and bullets in their wake. Angela began to call out to the owner who hadn’t seen her. It started as a whisper then got louder. When he saw her he ran to her side.

“My wife is calling the police ma’am, just hold on.”  He placed his hand over her wound and applied pressure trying to stop the bleeding.

“My husband,” Angela began to say, salty tears running into her mouth. She tried to reach for her purse. “I need to call my husband.”

“What’s his name?” asked the man. But it was too late, Angela passed out before she was able to answer.
When she awoke, she thought she had been dreaming, until she saw and felt the tubes coming out of her nose and arms. Her throat was parched, but she managed to make a moaning noise, and then mumbles, which turned into words, and then names. “Phillip, Samantha, Anne Marie.”

“She’s awake,” Phillip called out to the nurses. He’d entered the room just in time to hear her call their names. He’d been down the hall in the chapel praying for her recovery. He rushed to his wife’s side and took her hand into his. He knelt down beside her bed and began kissing her hand. His tears felt warm and welcoming to her. 

“Don’t talk, sweetie,” he said once he saw her struggling to speak. “I thought I’d lost you forever. The letter, then the call about you being in some kind of accident, I didn’t know what to think or do.”

“I’m so sorry,” Angela responded, clearing her throat.

“I don’t know what I would have done without you.” He stood and kissed her on her forehead.

“I am so sorry for putting you through all of this,” she said tears free flowing once again.

“And I am sorry for allowing you to give up so much for me and the girls.”

“No, don’t be, that was my decision.  You know, it’s true what they say about your life flashing before your eyes.” She paused before speaking again.  “All I saw were you and the girls. Anne Marie’s first slumber party, and when you took her training wheels off her bike. Samantha playing dress up in my shoes and makeup all over her face, and the time they made a get well card for you when you had the flu. And most importantly, the day we got married.”   She paused again, taking a sip of water. “But what I didn’t see,” she said as he wiped the tears from her face, “were my coworkers, or the clients I won cases for, or any of the partners of the firm. “Just you and this wonderful life you’ve given me. You three are my life, my heart, and my soul,” she managed to say in between sniffles. “God really did make you just for me, didn’t he?”

“And you for me.” The thought of losing her had been unbearable for Phillip.

“I am just sorry I was too blind to see that. I want to go home, Phillip,” Angela said, wiping his tears away.

“And you will as soon as they say you’re well enough. We will work this out, together.” He bent down and kissed her softly on the lips.

Angela felt as though she had been sleepwalking the past three years of her life, but her near death experience awakened a passion in her she’d never felt before. Her eyes had been opened to all of the wonderful things she and Phillip shared together, and she vowed from that day forward to never take another moment with her loving husband, and two beautiful daughters, for granted, ever again.

About the Author
Ariel Driskell holds a bachelor’s of science degree in Psychology from Florida A & M University. Her first romance novel, A Life Less Interrupted, is scheduled to be released in mid to late 2011. You can reach her at  or check out her blog 

Reprinted by Permission
© 2010 All rights reserved. Story reprinted by permission of the author. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author's written permission. Copyright infringement is a serious offence. 


Second Chance: Working Women Return to School
By Dr. Daryl D. Green


With the economic downturn, many individuals are turning to universities to retool their skills and abilities to become more attractive to employers. With roughly 15 million people unemployed, people are looking for new job strategies. 

According to the U.S. Department of Education, approximately 90 million individuals participate in some form of adult education each year, including training and basic education offered outside of traditional higher education. Yet, non-traditional students make up the fastest population of those returning to school. 

In fact, 40% of American college students (almost 6 million people) are 25 years of age or older. This article examines practical and proven strategies to better assist working women in their transition to higher education. 

Economic Plight 
Economic troubles make career planning more difficult. Since November 2009, America has lost 7.2 million jobs, with the unemployment rate topping 10%. Companies have shed 11,000 workers from their payroll. State agencies have had to lay off or furlough workers. Millions of Americans are now waiting longer for food stamps, unemployment checks, and disability payments. Margaret Simms of the Urban Institute notes, "The length of the recession clearly has put a strain on the resources that states bring to bear."   Therefore, our lives continue to unravel as things we depend on disintegrate before our eyes. 

Today's women comprise more than half of the labor force. According to the U.S. Labor Bureau, mothers with older children (6 to 17 years of age) are more likely to participate in the labor force than mothers with younger children (under 6 years of age).  Furthermore, unmarried mothers have higher participation rates than married mothers. 

The Right Strategy 
Working mothers need practical, proven methods if they are to make a successful transition to college life. Yet, many working women find various obstacles that prevent them from reaching their dreams. Noriko Iwanaga Chapman, a Japan native, is a working professional with over 16 years' experience in the automobile industry. As a young, single-parent Baby Boomer, Chapman understands the demands of caring for elderly parents and raising a young family. 

Chapman was preparing to enter graduate school when he encountered a severe obstacle. Chapman notes,  "In 2009, when being diagnosed with cancer, I was devastated by the life-threatening disease and unknown future.  A year later, I have survived and gained my health back for a second chance of my life."   Overcoming the health challenge, she was able to start graduate school at Lincoln Memorial University while balancing work and family life. 

Her first book, Second Chance, fully utilizes Chapman's  "can do" attitude to assist others in her community. Likewise, the right strategies can help encourage a working mother who is straddling the fence when considering returning to school. Below are some proven strategies for working mothers: 

» Join a group that shares your values and beliefs in order to build your network. 

» Seek to find a mentor who has returned to school from the workforce. 

» Write positive affirmations regularly to create a positive environment. 

» Allow your children to share in the excitement of you returning to school.

» Build a positive support group that can assist you with the demanding lifestyle of returning to school with children. 

» Check out the latest college scholarship books at your library, such as Peterson's Scholarship. 

» Remove or limit negative people from influencing your personal decisions related to your goals. 

» Research non-traditional programs, such as weekend formats and online degree programs that provide maximum flexibility. Check out John Bear's books, such as Bears Guide to Earning Degrees by Distance Learning. 

» Get a good grasp on how you will finance your education by talking with financial aid officers, applying for grants and scholarships, or borrowing the money from non-traditional sources, such as local community groups in your area. 

» Be persistent and patient. 

Many women recognize the need to retool their skills during this economic crisis, which threatens to dash the hopes of millions searching for the American Dream. With such a weak job growth outlook, many working adults are looking to sharpen their skills in order to be more competitive. Women comprise a large share of the labor force and an increasing proportion of those who are returning universities and colleges. Yet, the hectic lifestyles of most working mothers stop them from pursuing this career strategy. Going back to school can provide the mechanism to assist them in improving the quality of their lives. Therefore, taking the right steps in this transition is critical for working mothers so they can be successful. 

© 2011 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 

Behind The Pen:  Meet Lutishia Lovely

Lutishia Lovely is the award-winning, best-selling author of sixteen novels. The Business Trilogy, her latest work, combines two of her passions: writing and food. This series (All Up In My Business, Mind Your Own Business and  Taking Care Of Business) centers around the Livingstons, owners of a soul food dynasty called Taste Of Soul—where sizzling scandal and delicious drama are always on the menu.  

Find out more about this series and Lutishia at her website:  Also please sign up for her newsletter, where readers are treated to contests, updates, excerpts from upcoming novels, contests and more!

BPM: What makes you powerful as a person and a writer? What drives you to write? 
What makes me powerful as a person and a writer is my connection to and constant communication with Spirit, the ultimate creator!  Through this connection, and the beliefs I hold as a result of it, I know that God is all there is, that everything is possible, and that our beings are so powerful that everything we think and speak ultimately comes to pass. In short, our words (thoughts and spoken) create the world we live in.

BPM: How do you define success?
Being happy, healthy, living comfortably, sharing love and giving back.

BPM: What have you realized about yourself since becoming a published author?
I’ve learned a lot about myself. For one thing, I have more stories in me than I ever dreamed and that with all of my knowledge of oneness with Spirit, I am still more than I imagined. I’ve learned that when I don’t think I can write another word, I can actually write pages. And I’ve realized how much I enjoy using my gift to enrich others lives. 

BPM: Besides the creative process, what is the most gratifying aspect of being a writer?
I am living my dream. I get to wake up every day and do what I love.  Now granted, some days I may not like every aspect of it.  The job of being a successful author is not for the faint of heart. But every time I finish a book that I’m proud of, or read letters about how my book has changed someone’s life, or why someone stayed up all night because they couldn’t put the book down, I’m reminded why I work so hard.

BPM: Share with us one thing most readers don’t know about you? 
Because of the succulent meat dishes described in The Business Trilogy, many people would be surprised to know that I’m basically vegan!  The descriptions and tastes so vividly portrayed in my writing comes from memory, research and a wild imagination!

Intimate Conversation with Rekaya Gibson

Rekaya Gibson is the author of three fiction titles:  “Mama Don’t Like Ugly,”   “The Food Temptress,” and the sequel, “The Food Enchantress.”   She launched her freelance writing career in 2005 by writing for several magazines.  She reviews cookbooks for Cuisine Noir, a foodies and wine magazine for African Americans, as well as writes articles for the Hampton Food Examiner. In addition, she offers grant writing services/consultations and grant writing workshops. She resides in Virginia. 

Mama Don't Like Ugly by Rekaya Gibson 
Mama Don't Like Ugly takes readers on a journey of Dana Calhoun's life growing up in Nautica, Louisiana - the good, the bad, and the ugly. Her Mama, a young light-skinned pharmacist, holds the title as her number one hater, all because she dislikes her dark skin. Regardless of her unconditional love for her Mama, she encounters a cycle of torment.

When Mama bathes Dana, she tries to scald her with hot water. She neglects her to the point where she is malnourished. She tosses her around like a doll. Out of shame, she relaxes her hair two days in row. She watches a pedophile grab her. She steals money from her just to prove a point. Once Dana challenges her, she finds Mama's hands wrapped around her neck - praying that she does not die.

These snapshots of Dana's life give insight into the abuse and neglect that she endures growing up. Still, she longs for her Mama's acceptance before she goes off to college. Will Mama finally realize that Dana is a beautiful person in spite of her dark skin or will she spew those hateful words, "Mama Don't Like Ugly!" 

Purchase: Mama Don't Like Ugly by Rekaya Gibson 
•ISBN-10: 0983346100
•ISBN-13: 9780983346104

BPM: Introduce us to your main characters in
Mama Don't Like Ugly
“Mama Don’t Like Ugly” is a fiction story about Dana, a dark-skinned girl, growing up in a household with a mama who dislikes her because of her skin color. Her mama not only abuses and neglects her, but she constantly compares her to her light-skinned sister. In spite of her situation, she still loves her mama unconditionally. 

BPM: Who were your favorites? Are your characters from the portrayal of real people? 
My favorite character is Dana. I want readers to connect with her because she is intelligent and resilient. In spite of her situation, she still loves her mama unconditionally. Most importantly, her beauty radiates from the inside and she does not let her imperfections dictate her destiny. 

BPM: What specific situation or revelation prompted you to write your book?
I am fascinated that people’s behaviors and/or perceptions about skin color are passed from generation to generation - consciously and subconsciously. I have seen this in so many families. It has made some stronger while it has destroyed others. 

BPM: What do you think makes your book different from others on the same subject? 
It has a good balance of drama, humor and suspense. Also, it will resuscitate nonfiction discussions about beauty and skin color. I am hoping that families will stop being in denial about their prejudices toward other family members. 

BPM: Share with us your latest news or upcoming book releases. 
My next release is “My Mama’s Sweet Potato Pie” a bi-lingual coloring book for ages three and up. The 20-page story offers 10 illustrations with its 10 Spanish translations – making it a delicious treat. Grab your crayons and discover how mama makes a sweet potato pie for her son. 

BPM: How can our readers reach you online?  Share with us your online contact info. 
Readers can connect with me by becoming a fan of Author Rekaya Gibson on Facebook and following me on Twitter. Also, they can find me on the Food Temptress Blog and my website.   All my books are available at online retailers such as Amazon (paperback and Kindle), Barnes and Noble (paperback and the Nook), and Smashwords (Other e-Readers and Computers). In addition, folks can request them at their local bookstores and libraries. 

Rekaya Gibson, Author and Hampton Food Examiner
Mama Don't Like Ugly - (Paperback, Download on Kindle or Nook)
The Food Temptress and the Sequel, The Food Enchantress

Intimate Conversations 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 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: How did you initially break into the publishing industry? How do you feel about self-publishing? How do feel about selling digital books vs. selling in a brick and mortar store?
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. 

Selling digital books is something new for me. But I am willing to learn about it and give it a try.

BPM: Did you choose your genre, or did your genre choose you? 
I chose my genre, YA books. 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...”
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.

BPM: Take us inside your latest books. Introduce us to your book and the main characters. Do you have any favorites? What genre is the book?
Sprouting Seeds is a story about a great-grandmother with a feisty attitude who tells her life story to her great-grand daughter. She talks about the struggles that she experiences during the segregation in the south, old rituals that were passed from previous generations, and lustful encounters that occurred at the bayou in Louisiana.

Runaways is a story with four girls from completely different backgrounds. It takes us on a twisted journey of how these girls encounter their hardships of peer pressure and social concerns that teens face today. We learn how these girls persevere through the fast life and temptations of promiscuity in South Central California.

My main character in Sprouting Seeds is Cora. She’s the type of woman that many people would enjoy talking with. She’s fun; she’s witty, full of wisdom, and very feisty and adventurous. I would have to say that Cora and Kelly (great- grand daughter) are both my favorite characters in this book.

The first portion of Sprouting Seeds paints a picture of Cora’s family background and lineage. She immediately dives into the mischief and nightly temptations at the bayou during her tender age. This is a historical fiction story that is also available in e-book version.

In Runaways I have four main characters. They are Rianna, Simone, Amy, and Melanie. These teen girls come from different backgrounds but have one thing in common. Each girl is in foster care trying to search for something. Rianna has a rough-around-the edges attitude with a mean-streak since she’s mad at the world. Simone is a diva that many girls would envy since she has the body to kill for along with her beauty. Amy is the all-American girl with her blonde hair and blue eyes. From her outside appearance people assume that life is easy for her, but she has many deep, dark secrets. Then there’s Melanie. Melanie is an edgy red-head who knows all about the hard-knocks of life on the streets. These girls have different qualities, but throughout the story you discover other commonalities that they share. 

My two favorite characters in this book are Rianna and Simone, since they were so much fun to create. This story is appropriate for teens and young adult fiction. It is also available in e-book version.

BPM: What inspired you to write this book?  Ever experience writers block?
I became intrigued with writing these stories many years ago. I started writing the story Runaways while I was an undergrad student in college but never got to finish it until a few years later. As an undergrad, I worked inside a group home with disabled adults, while pursuing a social work degree. During this time I used to imagine how the world would become if encaged residents (i.e. institutionalized clients or inmates) had the opportunity to escape. 

After completing graduate school, I started to write Sprouting Seeds. I was intrigued with writing this story after attending an educational workshop. Our facilitator read a story to us about a young woman who shared stories about her childhood with her grandmother. The story was amazing! Immediately, I knew that I wanted to create a similar story, yet implement some twists with more thrilling plots. I’ve never experienced writers block because once I’ve made a decision about a story, I stuck with it until it was finished.

BPM: Are any scenes from the book inspired from your world?
I have a couple of scenes from Runways that sort of inspired me as I created Simone. In some ways I can personally relate with her when it comes to dealing with peer pressure with her boyfriend. She wants to please him in every way that she can since he means the world to her. I can remember a time when I was constantly bullied and tormented in high school. The only peer who wanted to accept me at the time was my boyfriend, since my other classmates were so cruel.

BPM: In writing your novels, how do you develop the plot? Did you have difficulty keeping the story on point? How much research was required, if any?
I never really experienced any trouble with creating a plot. It was something that just came natural. Once I envisioned it, my stories became real. I’ve never had any trouble keeping the story on point either, since this is a gift that I was blessed with. As for research, I would occasionally talk with my grandmother about her youth so that I could get some helpful tips for Sprouting Seeds. She has really helped me a lot!

BPM: What particular scenes from the novel will  stimulate spirited discussions?
The best portions from Sprouting Seeds that would grab the reader’s attention would be the first and second chapters. It dives right into the times of her youth. In Runaways, the first chapter would immediately grab the reader’s attention. I jump right into the scenes that explain Rianna’s family dynamics. These story scenes will definitely stimulate a spirited discussion among my readers.

BPM: Who do you want to reach with your book and the message enclosed?
My target audiences are teens and young adults. Since I never found any teen fiction stories to relate with, I hope that I can reach this population with mine. I want to inform my readers that they have support and encouragement. The world is tough when our classmates and peers treat us cruelly. However, times do get better as we mature. But in the meantime, it’s ok to have fears, anger, resentment, and hostility. All of these emotions are normal and there are available resources that can help. There are counseling agencies and/ or mentoring services available.

BPM: What should readers DO after reading this book?
I hope that readers will share my stories with their friends and loved ones once they finish reading my books. They can reflect on that they have learned and hopefully develop a new outlook on life. Or perhaps my readers can help others by providing them hope and encouragement. 

BPM: How do you avoid the temptation of interjecting your own morals, value system or ministry in your writing?
I’ve never really ran into this problem when creating a story. Usually I either imagine how another person at a particular age would handle a specific situation. Or I sometimes imagine myself in a scenario and think of ways of how I would handle it. Then I create a scenario for my characters and discuss how they would overcome it. Interjecting temptations and personal morals is not a major concern as I write my stories. I can either put them aside since I know that I am writing about a different person. Otherwise if I choose to include temptations and my personal morals, I realize that I can complete this task since I am creating a character who shares similar traits as me.

BPM: What insight does the book give readers on teen relationships? 
Runaways gives readers insight on social concerns that our youth encounters. In some cases, some teens are faced with extreme concerns, yet they may not feel comfortable with discussing them. Or they may lack a support system that can help them. 

However, as my readers read this story, I hope that perhaps they can change their outlook on our youth and develop alternative ideas for intervention. In Sprouting Seeds my readers can gain shared wisdom. 

Based upon our history, African Americans have encountered so many hardships, however some have persevered. Hopefully, my readers can become reassured and encouraged to persevere throughout their current hardships. At times it appears that we as African Americans have a long way to go when it comes to seeing improvement within our country. Yet, we’ve overcome so much already.

BPM: Share with us a quote from one of the most powerful chapters.
There’s a section in Sprouting Seeds when Cora says, “What’s done in the dark eventually comes to light.” Some people may not fully understand this concept. However as they read the remaining portions of this chapter, my readers will eventually realize what she is referring to.

BPM: Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book?
As people read my books, I want them to gain hope and encouragement. Cora in Sprouting Seeds and the four girls in Runaways all encounter different conflicts. However they were strong-willed and determined. This is an important quality that I would like my readers to recognize as they read my stories.

BPM: What has been your most difficult hurdle to leap? Marketing, promotions or gaining media exposure, etc. How can EDC Creations and our readers help you?
My most difficult hurdles have been everything that is listed in the mentioned question. I’ve had some trouble with getting the media exposure and marketing due to having limited funds. Promotions have also been a struggle since I am a struggling artist while employed as a teacher.

EDC Creations and my readers can help as they read my stories and continue to spread the word about intriguing plots from my books. They can inform others that I tell the truth in my stories. I talk about the emotional issues that teens encounter and how they struggle with being heard as they seek for help. Yet, I offer hope and encouragement as well. As people discuss my books, hopefully my novels can gain the publicity that I constantly dream of.

BPM: How has your writing style evolved over the years? What stimulated your growth the most? We are here to shine the spotlight on your new book, but what's next?
My writing style has evolved as I matured. As a teen I would create suspenseful characters and stories with a sophomoric mentality. However now that I’m an adult I have more insight about life and I know what is suitable for the book. I have the ability to create interesting books for teens and young adults. 

What stimulated my growth the most was when I worked in the social work profession. I’ve learned so much on the job. For example, I’ve learned how to explore alternative approaches for early intervention with teens. Once I’ve learned these qualities, they have really evolved my writing style over the years because I now can present myself professionally, but less intimidating to the youth.

Currently I’m in the process of creating an infomercial for Sprouting Seeds. This promotion will definitely help give my readers a better visual as they try to paint a picture of how the storyline depicts.

BPM: Share with us your latest news, awards or upcoming book releases. How may our readers follow you online? 
I’m now in the process of creating a third book, Cyndi. This will be another fictional story for teens and young adults. I really enjoy writing for this population. I think this age group has so many concerns to acknowledge such as emotional issues, self esteem, and socialization factors (i.e. establishing appropriate peer groups). To get more information about my work, my readers can go to  and  to view them. I have an online book club discussion as well as links that lead toward purchasing.

Sprouting Seeds by Jamila D. Smith
Cora takes us on an emotional journey with intriguing tales of her youth through the segregated past of the Louisiana Bayou. She shares joyful and sometimes heartbreaking memories of the times she spent in the rural south, from stories of oppression to tales of lustful temptations in the nights at the swamp. 

Despite the racism and discrimination she faces, Cora perseveres and overcomes the various adversities she encounters, sometimes even battling them with her deep-rooted spells and rituals passed down from her ancestors. But will some happenings be just too horrible for Cora to overcome, or will they haunt her forever? Can she truly triumph over her hardships with her feisty flare and witty charm?

Join Cora, the compelling matriarch of this southern Bayou family, for a voyage through time that answers these questions and more, in Sprouting Seeds...

Runaways by Jamila D. Smith
If you enjoyed the movie Set if Off, then you will definitely experience a constant page turner with Runaways. Smith keeps her readers on the edge of their seat with her thrilling stories and suspenseful plots. Runaways is a story of four girls who come from completely different backgrounds, but come together when they escape a traumatic encounter. 

Meet Rianna who is from Phoenix. She has a face of an angel, but a rough- around- the- edges mentality with a mean streak. Rianna is never afraid to defend herself if others stand in her way. Yet she truly has a soft heart when it comes to protecting her family and receiving attention from her lover, who has the perfect touch.

Simone is a naive diva from Los Angeles who has many odds against her: a striking beauty that girls envy and a smoking body that guys kill to tamper with. Despite that dilemma, she engages in her art work to escape from any drama that threatens her. All she wants is security with her family and acceptance from her rough neck boyfriend, Jamal.

Amy is often perceived as the  "perfect Malibu Barbie"  from Beverly Hills. She has many secrets and struggles to be heard. Instead, she decides to bottle them inside and has strange outbursts when she finally releases her demons. At other times she remains in her private world since most people don't seem to understand her.

Melanie is an edgy red head with a sultry vibe. She knows all about the hard knocks of working the streets of the slummy side of Santa Monica. She stays determined when it comes to hustling and scheming others who stand in her way. Yet, internally, Melanie struggles with confronting her fears and fights the urge of running from her past.

With these different dynamics, the girls have just one thing in common: searching for personal security. But with such different pasts, can these teens learn to bond and support each other through the brutal storms of hard times? Or do they fall for the temptation of chasing fast money, indulging in promiscuity, and tampering in crimes that can have them on the constant run forever? Enjoy the suspenseful events and tear-jerking relationships these ladies encounter in Runaways.

Purchase book from the  Jamila D. Smith website 



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: 

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.


Intimate Conversation with Andrea J. Dixon

Andrea J. Dixon is the insightful author of She Wears It Well: 12 Essential Qualities of God’s Contemporary Single Woman. She is a dynamic speaker and visionary educational leader in the public school system. Ms. Dixon is the president of By Divine Design Enterprises, a multifaceted company that endeavors to inspire, envision, innovate, and empower through her writing and speaking with the purpose of leaving a legacy of information literacy for generations to come. Andrea was empowered to write her literary debut based upon her faith-filled years of experience as God’s Contemporary Woman while single. 

BPM: How did you initially break into the publishing industry? What road did you travel? How do you feel about self-publishing? 
Breaking through to the self-publishing industry was not as difficult as I anticipated. It all began with my attendance at a writer’s workshop on the self-publishing process several months before I began my writing project. After submitting the manuscript to the U.S. Copyright Office, I was referred to a self-publishing company by a successful published author whose advice was well-taken. From the time the manuscript was completed until the final product was available for distribution was about a 6-month time-period that was at times frustrating, challenging, exciting, and exhausting, but in the end rewarding. I believe that the self-publishing route is the most cost-effective strategy for the aspiring writer because of the ownership it affords the author; depending on which company you choose to produce the book for you, as much as 95% of royalties can be earned by the self-published author. 

BPM: Tell us about your journey to becoming a successfully published author. Do you have anyone in your life that was heavily influential in you deciding to become an author? 
My journey to becoming a successfully published author began a decade ago when I had a divine idea to sit down and write a book on the subject of faith. Although that manuscript was never completed; it awakened the potential of a hidden treasure buried deep inside of me just waiting to be discovered. Years later, that strong unction resurfaced for me to write again; intuitively I knew it was now time to write with the pen of a ready-writer. Once the topic of the book was solidified I immediately began the writing process which developed into a strategic plan for writing the book within a 90 day time period from beginning to end. 

The end result has been a self-published literary debut that has blessed every woman in any season of life whether she is single, married, divorced, or widowed. One of my favorite authors is Michelle McKinley Hammond, and as I would read her books, I often thought to myself: “One day I am going to write great books, too!” Her conversational writing style has greatly influenced my decision to become an author. 

BPM: What is your definition of success? Success leaves clues, whose clues did you follow on your journey? 
My definition of success is the attainment of clearly established goals in life. It doesn’t matter how great or small those goals are- if you put forth the effort to write the vision and make it plain for you and others to see, coupled with a solid plan of action- it will come to pass! Even setbacks, detours, disappointments, and delays factor into the success equation because it is in the difficult times that your goals become your source of strength to keep pressing forward until you reach an expected end. 

Perhaps one of the most successful people in my life whose clues I have traced like a detective to solve a mystery is Dr. Donna L. Houpe, the first lady of Harvest Church International in Kansas City, Missouri. Mrs. Houpe is a phenomenal woman whose godly attributes can be found in my book. As an educator, author, entrepreneur, and powerful woman of God, Dr. Donna L. Houpe has left behind clues of excellence, grace, confidence, wisdom, creativity, and integrity. As I have followed her steps the pathway has lead to divine destinations on the road to success, and the journey still continues. 

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 a legacy of inspiration, empowerment, and innovation through relevant messages that connect with readers to propel them forward in their living, giving, loving and serving others. The sole purpose of my inspirational writing style is to leave the behind the imprint of information literacy so that readers will utilize my literary works as a valuable resource that imparts, informs, and inspires them to reach their fullest God-given potential, promise, and purpose. It is my hope that the next generation will read my books as a source of strength and encouragement to face the storms of life with confidence and grace, and a spirit that overcomes any circumstance. 

BPM: What have you realized about yourself since becoming a published author? 
Since becoming a published author, I now realize the life-giving power contained within my words, and that your gift truly will make room for you and bring you before great men. This means that all the godly attributes that are celebrated in She Wears It Well will make room for me as a self-published author…Excellence will make room for me, Creativity will make room for me, Integrity will make room for me, Faithfulness will make room for me…and bring me before great men who open doors for me that lead to destiny fulfillment. I now understand that as I operate within my gifting, destiny-defining events happen suddenly with effortless ease all because I was born for this! 

BPM: If you were not a writer, what would you be? What are you passionate about, besides writing books? 
I cannot think of anything else I would rather do than write because of the freedom and flexibility it affords me as I transition into becoming a full-time writer. In the meantime, I am very passionate about making an impression on bright young minds as an intuitive educational leader in the public school arena. I am very energetic about imparting into the lives of others through public speaking engagements that navigate people toward the course of destiny fulfillment with a clear sense of purpose. 

BPM: What are some benefits of being an author that makes it all worthwhile? 
There are several benefits to being an author. A strong sense of purpose is the greatest benefit for me personally as I share my gift with the world and fulfill God’s calling for my life. Inspiring others through my writing is perhaps the greatest reward especially when people share with me how they connect with the message and the characters of the book as well as the 12 essentials qualities that can be easily applied to everyday life. What makes it all worthwhile for me is the idea that for generations to come She Wears It Well will be a distinctive brand of its own that speaks for itself in celebration of godliness as the attribute that every woman should aspire to wear as her most valuable accessory.

She Wears It Well: 12 Essential Qualities of God's Contemporary Single Woman 
by Andrea J. Dixon 

Just how does she wear it well? With all the pressures of life that a single woman must face, there comes a point where her focus must shift from outward appearances and accomplishments to the inner person which is the essence of who she really is as God's woman. It is this careful introspection that enables godly character traits to be developed in you from the inside out, having lasting value. 

This book is written for every contemporary single woman who desires to find her total fulfillment first and foremost as God's woman. Whether single by choice or circumstance, these twelve essential qualities such as: faithfulness, creativity, excellence, and strength are attributes every single woman can wear better than expensive make-up, fancy attire, or even a sassy pair of shoes. 

Each of the twelve essential qualities is featured in its own chapter with a discussion of its relevance and importance in modern times from a biblical context, followed by a profile of a woman in the Bible who wears it well. Every chapter concludes with a practical application of how the quality can be cultivated so that the contemporary single woman can realize her fullest God-given potential. The art of wearing these twelve essential qualities is critical to your being satisfied with who you are and where you are at this glorious season in your life. 

Purchase Your Copy Today
•ISBN-10: 1936198010
•ISBN-13: 9781936198016
Publisher's Website: 

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.


Return of the African Diaspora 
by Linda Pace Samuel
Genre – Realistic Historical / Political Fiction

Return of the African Diaspora is a thought provoking novel that reveals an infinite array of possibilities realized after relationships are healed. The book places special emphasis on the relationship between Mother Africa and its Diaspora living in America . It sheds light on the black American "underbelly," the descendents of former slaves who were permanently traumatized by their experience, adding insights to issues of racism and color in the black community.

A glimpse at historic Tuskegee University "back in the day" ads humor to this entertaining and realistic work of political fiction. The storyline is intertwined with the book's factual content, its pearls of little-known African American history, and its introduction to Ghanaian culture, where many of our ancestors originated. 

Although the underlying topic is meaningful and relevant today, the love story threaded throughout the book captivates readers as a blended family becomes entangled in a web of misplaced passions, painful secrets, and mystery. The protagonist relies solely on spiritual guidance, as she reaches for an unlikely future that can change the lives of millions. 

Book Excerpt taken from the book's prologue
Return of the African Diaspora by Linda Pace Samuel

Despite the futility of her efforts, Kristin made her way from the living room couch to her bed before the midnight hour each night, and back to the couch again on awakening. It was her way of marking time against a hazy reality that otherwise had no beginning or ending. She would close her eyes once in bed, ever hopeful of sleep that continued to elude her. After a few days, her body began frequent shivers and it signaled its intent to go into shock. She was still not motivated to respond to its warnings, perhaps because she had long since lost faith in the practice of Western medicine. She had pleaded with her friend Niyla each time she stopped by and threatened to override her objections, to force her into a hospital emergency room. Kristin begged her for more time to allow her body’s own natural recovery, knowing that the sight of her frail condition would likely prompt a battery of invasive “rescue” drugs and procedures at the emergency room.

Once the cayenne had completed its physical cleanse of her body, it immediately turned its focus to an emotional cleanse. A slow trickle of unexplained tears would then escalate to uncontrollable sobs with little warning. She was certain that medical responders in any emergency room would see her symptoms as evidence of her need for psychiatric care. After she had watched the endless dramas swirl around in her head for several more days, Kristin had a stunning realization. All of the scenes from her life she had replayed had been just stuff. That simple notion led her to a significant turning point in her experience. While it was true that some of the events that were parading before her had helped to shape that she had become in her life, none of it had anything to do with who she really was—who she had always been.

She finally understood what it all meant: why the desires of her loved ones would never influence the life or death decision, she was being asked to make. She also knew they would each understand the choice that she made at their own appointed hour. She was sure that Trazi and Celeste would be devastated should she choose to make a sudden departure, but she was equally certain that their hearts would heal in time. She suspected that Winston would carry his grief around with him until he had transitioned from the earth himself. And she gave silent assurances to his spirit that she would come back to visit with him, to help him ease his pain. As for her, she had no doubt that to leave her body behind would be a liberating experience, especially in the fragile condition it had been left in after her weeklong torment. 

Her experience had given her the gift of realization that her authentic Self was indeed immortal. She accepted it as absolute truth with the same certainty that she anticipated the sun rising each morning. Her physical “death” would be of no real consequence because her immortal Self would never die. Her body’s shell would change form but in the grand scheme of things, it would only matter to those who would miss her physical presence on the earth.

Eventually, her thoughts turned to an examination of the divine plan of her life. She wondered whether any of the experiences she had been reviewing involuntarily meant that she had already fulfilled her purpose. That consideration became the basis for the answer she would ultimately give, and she began to think about the impact she had made on the lives of the people she knew–her family, friends, and especially her students. 

She felt her connection grow stronger to Infinite Intelligence as her relaxed mind drifted along in the sea of unlimited potential. From the creative darkness that contains all possibilities, a burst of clarity suddenly took center stage to command her attention. In an instant, it ended her indecision and she no longer had to speculate about the fulfillment of her divine purpose. No sooner had the revelation popped into her head than did Kristin recognize it as the answer she had been seeking. It was finally clear to her what she had come to the earth to do. 

“It’s time to go home.” She said the words out loud to the universe, speaking them into being.


Reprinted by Permission
© 2011 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 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.

About Linda Pace Samuel
A native of Tuskegee, Alabama, Linda Pace Samuel grew up in the predominantly black college town, which was also birthplace of Civil Rights activist Rosa Parks. Inspired by a 2002 trip to Ghana , Linda wrote Return of the African Diaspora in hopes of reviving black America 's interest in Africa by revealing a different side of the African slavery story.  

The former aide to Congressman John Lewis studied political science at Tuskegee " Institute " and began her professional career on Capitol Hill. Visit Linda Pace Samuel's website for more details: 

In-depth look inside Return of the African Diaspora
Return of the African Diaspora is a rich tale woven around the saga of a blended African-American family, whose lives are marred by missed opportunities, painful secrets, and a mystical love that hangs in the balance. Kristin, a college professor in the nation's capital, is brought face-to-face with the indisputable link between the African Diaspora and Mother Africa on an impromptu visit to Ghana. She had hopes that the trip, which she planned as a brief escape from passions for her ex-husband, would also break through her transcendent connection to the daughter born to his new wife. 

Instead, it leads Kristin toward her destiny, as she learns to follow the breadcrumbs of synchronicity left for her by the universe. Her path takes her far beyond the platform she improvised at Hunter University after returning from her trip, where she helped her students connect the dots between big business, the origin of racism, and other seldom-discussed factors of American slavery. Kristin taps into the courage of her shero, Rosa Parks and their common heritage of growing up in the same neighborhood of Tuskegee, Alabama. 

The 'Skegee Spirit of the pre-dominantly black college town inspires her to reach out to descendants of the captured Africans, who lost their footing during the American slave experience. She finds motivation in the legacies left by other heroes from her Tuskegee childhood - Lewis Adams, who hired Booker T. Washington as Principal of the new school for former slaves, and Dr. George Washington Carver, the former slave and internationally acclaimed agricultural scientist, whose skills in soil science helped to save a flailing southern economy after the Civil War. 

Her sheroes helped fuel her determination to move forward in finding a solution that would finally free the black American "underbelly" from its stagnation. Though Universal Intelligence reveals that the solution lies in reuniting the African Diaspora with the Motherland, Kristin also realizes that the level of effort required to succeed would equate to that required to fit a square peg into a round hole. There would be staggering benefits to both sides of the ocean - but could it be done? Could Kristin to do the impossible, and lead the way home? 

This intriguing and sometimes-comical work of fiction is the first of a two-part series that spans nearly three decades. 

Return of the African Diaspora by Linda Pace Samuel
ISBN-10: 0615294170  |   ISBN-13: 978-0615294179 


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


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 Stacey Covington-Lee

Stacey Covington-Lee is a native of Atlanta, Georgia. Stacey worked in the insurance industry for a number of years as an Instructional and PC Trainer. She has written and developed multiple training guides and manuals for various health insurance companies and local government. 

Stacey has always had a passion for literature and a desire to write. She has written several short stories over the years and is continuously reading material from all genres. 
Her first novel, The Knife In My Back, was released by Xpress Yourself Publishing, March 10,2009. The second novel, The First Cut Is Always The Deepest, was released on March 15, 2011. 

Stacey is happily married and the proud mom of one son. She continues to live in an Atlanta suburb with her family and is currently working on her next novel. 

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? 
I actually started writing as a pre-teen after reading Judy Blume's book, Are You There God? It's me, Margaret. I loved the story and had enough audacity to think that I could write a novel that would be just as good.  However, it was finding a half written manuscript by my older sister, T'Irma that inspired me as an adult to complete my first book.  I initially self published just so that I could see my words, my story in print. Then I had the good fortune of becoming part of the Xpress Yourself Publishing family. My sister's manuscript was so powerful that I will continue to write in hopes of rising to her level of writing genius. 

BPM: What is your definition of success?
Success for me is following my passion. I have always felt that if you do what brings you joy, what you find comfort in and you do it well, you've achieved far more success than some others will ever know. 

BPM: Share with our readers the "behind-the-scenes" dish! Introduce us to your book and the main characters. Do you have any favorites? 
Stacey: My latest novel, The First Cut Is Always The Deepest, covers everything from revenge and forgiveness to spousal abuse and the down low life style. 

There is truly something in this contemporary novel for everyone. The main characters of this book are Tameka Williams, who is in a constant struggle with herself and her ability to be a better person. Brook Mansfield-Banks, who is allowing her anger with Tameka to consume her and prevent her from being the friend that Mia needs her to be. Then there is my favorite, Mia Purcell. Mia is struggling with a very damaged marriage and trying understand where her husband's interest and loyalties now lie. I am thrilled that this book is now available on Kindle. 

BPM: Here is the official introduction and character break down for The First Cut Is Always The Deepest.
Tameka Williams has spent the last seven years of her life in state prison. Now she is being set free. Unfortunately, all of the anger and resentment that she's lived with during her incarceration is being freed as well. 

While Brook Mansfield-Banks was not pleased with the idea of her mortal enemy being released, she was ready to take Tameka on head first. She would not allow Tameka another opportunity to cause her family harm. But, Brook has forgotten just how deep Tameka's wickedness runs. Now the fate of her child will once again be determined by Tameka. 

Mia Purcell has always been the loving and supportive friend. She was there for Brook through all of her trials and tribulations. But with her marriage falling apart, she's the one that will now need the strength of a true friend. There's only one problem, her marital issues have a strange connection with Tameka. Mia and Tameka find themselves working together in order to uncover the truth about the men in their lives. But is this unlikely duo more than Brook can stand?   She will have to dig deep and put her hatred for Tameka aside if she wants to be the friend that Mia desperately needs. 

BPM: What inspired you to write this book, The First Cut Is Always The Deepest? Why now? Ever experience writers block? 
I was moved to write this book because of the large number of requests for it from those that read my first novel, The Knife In My Back. I actually started writing a very different book but, the question of a follow-up seemed to always pop up. It was something I had already planned to do, the characters deserved closure. While I rarely experienced writers block, I was careful to write this story in a manner that would allow those that hadn't read the first book the opportunity to follow the characters, know their background and care about their outcome. 

BPM: How do you avoid the temptation of interjecting your own morals, value system or ministry in your writing? 
I know that when I pick up a fictional novel, it is for the purpose of being entertained. I realize that when I'm blessed enough to have readers choose my books, it is also most likely for entertainment purposes only. Folks love to read as an escape from the everyday. 

Now while my writing does address some of today's hottest topics, It is always in the forefront of my mind that I am writing as a means of entertaining. If I can also inform people of issues and situations that we can all have a positive effect on, then that is awesome. But I know what my purpose is and I've been blessed enough to not let my opinions interfere with my ability to tell a good story.

BPM: Share with us a quote or brief excerpt from one of the most powerful chapters of  The First Cut Is Always The Deepest
In chapter three, Tameka writes a letter to Brook. At the end of that letter she writes "I am worthy of being given a second chance." I love that because it reminds me that everyday I wake up, I'm being given another chance to do better and to be better and to live up to my full potential. It's completely up to me (and you) not to waste our second chances. 

Stacey Covington-Lee, Author
2009 release - The Knife In My Back
2011 release - The First Cut Is Always The Deepest 

The First Cut Is Always The Deepest
ISBN: 9780984527373
Contemporary Fiction 

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 
Purchase books here:


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:

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: 


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


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

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



Jozette's Desk Book Review for 
Transformations: Give Up The Struggle

This an affirmation from the book "Transformations: Give Up the Struggle" 
by Renee Wiggins. Purchase a copy online at



Book Reviewed: Transformations: Give UP The Struggle
Author's Name:  Renee Wiggins

Book Synopsis:
We all have had our ups and downs in our lives, some more than others. But, how we end up in the end, determines how we actually see the storms. The storms help us to change to a better and stronger person. Resisting change can make the obstacles, the hindrances and the storms become even more unbearable. However, if we choose to view them in a different light, change can move us into a bigger and better job, or a more rewarding , loving relationship- it indeed can make us better. The affirmations presented in "Transformation: Give UP The Struggle," can be a turning point in your life. View hardship as helpers to a stronger you. See obstacles as ripples in a pond as you move closer to your victory. Discover that hindrances are hurdles that make you jump high above the clouds.

Jozette's Book Review
Transformations: Give Up The Struggle by Renee Wiggins  is a little book with a powerful message.  In this age of uncertainty, our daily lives are stained with the blood of war, the blight of environmental catastrophes, and economic regression. There is the ever present hatred between races, religions and cultures that lends a tendency towards fear, anger, revenge and disbelief.

Life is a constant challenge of ups and downs, setbacks and advances, failures, successes and pain. It is how we handle these experiences that determine whether we regress, stay stuck in the present or move forward on our individual paths. Wouldn't you like to know how to turn the negatives in your life into positive growth?

In her book Transformations: Give Up The Struggle,  Ms. Wiggins guides you on a journey that will answer your questions and address your skepticism with words and phrases you may have thought of at some point but put aside thinking you need more than words to help you. 

Transformations: Give Up The Struggle is a collection of affirmations you can easily and effortlessly incorporate into your daily life. One affirmation that stuck with me is, 
"I should pray before I make the choice, instead of praying to get out of the choice I made." 

How many of us are guilty of this?  Another is, 
"Who I was yesterday, I am not today." 

I've experienced a lot of adversity in my earlier years, experiences that have changed me for the better.   I am a stronger, more focused individual and I am living a happier, fuller life.   What the book does not do is promise instant change but rather assures a gradual move through change to a better way of living your life. Some are resistant to change and Ms. Wiggins addresses this in her book sighting compelling reasons why to resist change would make the obstacles you face insurmountable when they shouldn't be.

I found Transformations: Give Up The Struggle to be both enlightening and soothing. The message is clear and of an urgent nature for those still mired in the past, stuck in a mental quagmire needing change.

Transformations: Give Up The Struggle by Renee Wiggins is a must read book for those who want to change the way they live their lives and experience the world.


Intimate Conversation with Katie McCabe

Katie McCabe is a National Magazine Award winner whose Washingtonian article on black surgical legend Vivien Thomas formed the basis for the HBO film Something the Lord Made, one of the highest rated original movies in HBO history and the winner of the 2004 Emmy and 2005 Peabody Awards. McCabe’s 2009 book Justice Older than the Law, co-authored with pioneering lawyer Dovey Roundtree, won the Association of Black Women Historians’ Letitia Woods Brown Book Prize.

BPM: How did you get your start in writing articles and publishing books?
KM: As a former high school English teacher who had always wanted to write, I launched my writing career in 1985 by pitching an article to Washingtonian magazine on the subject I knew best: education. 

While teaching and tutoring at the Holton Arms School in Bethesda, Maryland, I wrote an article on speculation for Washingtonian on selective college admissions and the SAT prep courses that were new on the horizon. I studied the style and tone of Washingtonian magazine and pitched the piece very carefully to that magazine’s particular audience: upscale, educated, sophisticated, well read, and eager to give their children every possible advantage. I was fortunate to sell that very first piece, whereupon I began writing regularly for the magazine, branching out from education and private school topics to lengthy narrative pieces on medicine, medical research, and medical history. 

The article that moved my career to another level was an August 1989 Washingtonian article on black cardiac surgery legend Vivien Thomas, “Like Something the Lord Made,” which won the 1990 National Magazine Award for Feature Writing and was optioned for a television movie. The 2004 HBO film that was based on my article, also named “Something the Lord Made,” starred Mos Def and Alan Rickman, and it won the Emmy for Best Made for TV Movie and the 2005 Peabody. It was named the best movie of the year by the American Film Institute, which called it “a revelation…a bittersweet story that is an important tool for America as it continues to search for a public vocabulary to discuss issues of race.” The HBO film enabled me to secure representation by a premiere New York literary agent and led to a host of other opportunities, including speaking engagements. 

In the 14-year period during which the Vivien Thomas piece was in development as a movie, I continued to write for Washingtonian, and I was approached by Reader’s Digest to write for them on contract. While the Digest experience was not artistically satisfying for me as a writer who places great value on style, writing on contract for the Digest provided income while I worked on other projects and embarked on a book, and it helped me hone my narrative skills. 

In the 11 years I wrote for the Digest (1989 to 2000), I did lengthy “Book Section” pieces which required not only extensive research but also a mastery of narrative structure and character development within the strict confines imposed by the Digest form. I found that those storytelling skills stood me in good stead when I embarked on my first book, Justice Older than the Law: the Life of Dovey Johnson Roundtree, in February 1995, in collaboration with the book’s subject, pioneering civil rights lawyer, veteran and minister Dovey Roundtree. Nearly 15 years in the making, the book was published in July 2009 by the University Press of Mississippi and won the 2009 Association of Black Women Historians’ Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Book Prize for the best publication on an African American woman.

BPM: Did you have any formal journalism training?
KM: I had a journalism minor at the University of Maryland, but essentially I learned the narrative craft by studying fiction and non-fiction, by teaching writing, and then by writing myself in many different markets.

BPM: Katie, what can readers expect when they open a book created by you?
KM: I believe my power as a writer derives from my lifelong love affair with words and literature, my sense of the compelling stories hidden beneath the surface of outward events, and my fascination with unsung heroes. These passions came from my late parents, John and Kathleen Burns. They exemplified for me the kind of nobility and courage I endeavor to portray over and over again in my non-fiction as I seek out heroes and heroines whose lives have profoundly altered our world but whom history has forgotten or marginalized. My goal is to portray these history-makers with the vividness of fiction, and to bring them alive for future generations.

BPM: Discuss your approach to writing and your book, Justice Older than the Law, in particular. 
KM: “It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success nor more dangerous to manage than the creation of a new system. For the initiator has the enmity of all who profit by the preservation of the old institution and merely lukewarm defenders in those who would gain by the new one.” – Nicolo Machiavelli

As a writer, I’ve chosen to portray individuals who defied existing systems and conventional notions of power, and in doing that, I’ve challenged my readers’ assumptions about the way that history is altered and the world changed.

One of my first articles for Washingtonian magazine, “Like Something the Lord Made,” told the little-known story of black heart surgery pioneer Vivien Thomas, a man who had changed the course of medical history so quietly that he was virtually unknown outside the rarefied circle of Johns Hopkins surgeons he trained. In my article, I brought from obscurity the story of this extraordinary man who changed the course of medical history without ever having obtained a medical degree or even attending college. It was the sheer force of his brilliance and the power of his character that enabled Thomas, in his capacity as laboratory technician to the powerful white surgeon Alfred Blalock, to carve out a revolutionary role for himself and to propel heart surgery into the modern age. 

At a time when the only black employees at Johns Hopkins Hospital were the janitors, Vivien Thomas ran the surgical lab, trained dozens of white med students who would go on to become the most famous heart surgeons in America, and most importantly, partnered with Dr. Blalock in an extraordinary interracial collaboration that defied every stereotype of their time and place. Together, the two made medical history, accomplishing things together that neither one could have done alone. Vivien Thomas shattered stereotypes for black men during Jim Crow, proving by the sheer force of his intellect and his character that he could contribute mightily to medicine at the most complex level. He challenged the status quo by excelling and by surviving within a deeply flawed society, and in so doing he lodged a powerful and eloquent protest against the evil of segregation.

KM: Pioneering lawyer, veteran and minister Dovey Johnson Roundtree, the subject of my 2002 Washingtonian article “She Had a Dream” and my 2009 book Justice Older than the Law (which I co-authored with Dovey Roundtree), was a woman who challenged deeply entrenched racism and sexism on a number of levels over her 50-year career. She shattered the color and gender bars in the World War II military as one of the 40 women selected by the great activist Mary McLeod Bethune to integrate the newly formed Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. 

As one of only five women in her class at Howard University Law School (1947-1950), she challenged gender stereotypes in the law, and went on to transform the rigidly segregated legal system of the Nation’s Capital as the first black member of the DC Women’s Bar. Even as she overturned hardened prejudice in Washington’s legal community against blacks and women, she led the vanguard of women ordained to the ministry in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, which had resisted the ordination of women for decades. When Dovey Roundtree was ordained to the ministry in 1961, she was among the first women to rise to that status within the male-dominated church. 

I believe I am drawn to stories of unconventional heroes and heroines because I myself defy classification as a white woman who has chosen to celebrate the life stories of African Americans. I have learned that this unsettles some readers because it challenges existing systems, but I have also seen that many people have been inspired by the way in which I have crossed racial lines in the course of my career. In choosing to bring to the world the stories of quiet revolutionaries like Vivien Thomas and Dovey Roundtree, I believe I have illuminated a particular kind of power that is very different from that which we see in our politicians and big business entrepreneurs. Those who change the world by the force of their nobility and tenacity, who quietly challenge the status quo and manage to hold onto their sense of selves in the midst of a hostile society have much to teach all of us about how to live our lives.

BPM: What social issues do you address in Justice Older than the Law? How is this book affecting the public?
KM: I have never been a “political writer” in that I have never set out to address any social issues. I am a storyteller, and my goal is to pass along stories that matter, that illuminate lives that exemplify nobility, courage, tenacity, faith and goodness. All truly great stories change the world, and they do so precisely because they come in “under the radar” of our critical sense and move our hearts and minds. When I set out to write Dovey Roundtree’s story, I did so because I was enthralled with her life experience and with her personal charisma. Having said that, I do believe that Justice Older than the Law speaks importantly to some of the most critical issues of our time. 

Contemporary America urgently needs this book. As we contemplate at fifty years’ distance the meaning of Brown v. Board in the light of recent Supreme Court rulings, as we struggle with issues of race at every turn, there is a sense that we’ve lost our bearings. What is justice? What sort of a society are we aiming toward? How can we capture the values we seem to have lost? How do we arrest what Dovey calls “the demon of violence” that is destroying our cities? To be able to tap into the world view of a 96-year-old living legend who brought her fight into the streets, the jailhouses, the churches, and ultimately, into the hearts of the individuals to whom she ministered, is an extraordinary opportunity, I believe, for people of all races. 

Katie McCabe reading from Chapter One, "Walking Unafraid," about Dovey Roundtree's courageous Grandma Rachel, the woman Dovey calls "the greatest warrior I ever knew."  Listen here now.  

BPM: What are you most proud of as a writer in today’s market?
KM: I have endeavored to pass on to the next generation of readers the stories of men and women who have prevailed over almost insuperable odds to achieve greatness in medicine, in the law, in athletics, and in public service. I believe that my legacy as a writer is that I have brought to life some truly extraordinary examples of the triumph of the human spirit. These examples speak to people of all races and backgrounds about what is possible when one draws strength from mentors and taps into one’s own well of courage, faith and tenacity.
In today’s market, which is dominated by books and movies that glorify violence, brutality and sexuality run rampant, I choose to tell stories that celebrate the eternal values, and I think that sets me apart from the mainstream.

BPM: What advice would you give someone just starting out as a writer?
KM: I would tell young writers two things: first, to choose stories that they consider deeply important, to bring to bear every particle of talent they have to those stories and market them with all the energy they can summon; and second, to operate on the assumption, at least at the beginning, that it will not be possible to make a living by writing. It is possible to succeed in today’s brutal publishing market, but the reality is that one needs a reliable income from a steady job in order to “support the writing habit.” 

BPM: How may readers contact you for more information and to find out more about the book?
KM: Visit us at,  the web site address for the book, and there is a link there to email Katie McCabe (at

Justice Older than the Law by Katie McCabe
Purchase your copy today!
Hardcover: 288 pages 
ISBN-10: 160473132X 

Intimate Conversation 
with Danette Majette
Hosted by Ella Curry, Black Pearls Magazine

Danette Majette was born in Long Branch, New Jersey, and moved to Norfolk, Virginia when she was five. After graduating from high school and going into the U.S. Marine Corps, Danette's love for fashion led her to Nordstrom where she worked as a manager.  It was there that she was advised be a friend and co-worker to write her first novel  "I Shoulda Seen It Comin"  which debuted in 2005.  

She followed this success two years later with her second novel 'Deep" which successfully made the Essence Magazine bestseller list in 2008. She released her third novel “Good Girl Gone Bad’ in April 2009.

After years of living in Washington D.C., Danette decided to move to Raleigh, N.C., with her two children, Bryan Majette and Marketa Salley.  Marketa is a featured author in LCB’S  Teenage Bluez;  a series of urban short stories written for and by teens.  Danette’s  fourth novel 'Bitter' is set to be released in February 2011.

BPM: Tell us about your passion for writing. What impact do you want your book to make on the readers? 
My passion comes from the deep interest I have in things going on in my community. I always have issues going on around me so I take those issues and turn them into a book, with added spice of course. To be honest, I love to write entertaining novels!!
I think people are so consumed with the trivial things in life that they don’t realize that there are people out here with serious issues and problems going on in their lives. There are people that are homeless, hungry, dealing with bad relationships, and fighting for their lives everyday. I hope my stories will effect someone in a positive manner. 

BPM: Finish this sentence- “My writing offers the following legacy to future readers...” 
I hope to show people that you can come from nothing and make something of yourself. I don’t want my life to be measured by what I accumulated but instead on how I used a gift from God to spread the word about issues affecting our society. I want to be remembered for putting out quality material and always conveying positive messages in my books to help the next generation. I hope long after my death, my legacy will continue with the lives I’ve touched with my writings.

BPM: Introduce us to your latest novel, Bitter.
Reese Kennedy, is a controversial radio talk-show host who was on top of the world when she was married and living the glamorous life. 

That is until her husband Eric, a former NBA player, leaves for her for a much younger woman. After a nasty divorce, Reese takes her frustration out on every man by bashing them on her show and soon becomes the most hated woman in Dallas. Just when Reese thinks she s completely fed up with men, a handsome and charismatic investor named Xavier walks into her life. 

Trying her best to adjust to love again, Reese finally puts her guards down until she suddenly finds herself on death s door. The phrase keep your enemies close will take on a new meaning when an awful truth is revealed and Reese quickly learns that she s not the only one who s bitter.

BPM: Who are the main characters of Bitter. What are two major events taking place?
The first major event is Reese is being stalked. Then there is Joi and Lavar who have a very explosive relationship which turns deadly for one of them.

My main characters are Reese, Joi, Julian, Lavar and Xavier. Reese is a radio host who loses her husband to a young white girl so she’s very bitter about that. She later finds love but at what cost. Joi is Reese’s best friend and co-host who is in a volatile relationship with Lavar a big time hustler who is the epitome of evil. 

Julian is Reese’s producer who is obsessed with her but keeps it a secret until she meets Xavier. He then starts to unravel right before Reese’s eyes showing his bitter side as well. Xavier is Reese’s new love who has a few secrets of his own. 

BPM: Who were your favorites? Are your characters from the portrayal of real people? 
Joi is my favorite. In a lot of ways she reminds me of myself. She’s funny, loves shopping, tells it like it is, and she’s not afraid to stand up to Lavar, even though everyone else is. She knows he’s dangerous but she checks him when he gets out of bounds with her. 

BPM: Were there things from "your world" incorporated into this storyline?
Absolutely! There are few scenes between Joi and Lavar that were really things that happened to me so it was really surreal writing them. When things happen to me I don’t think about how crazy they are until I write them in my books. I then look back and think to myself ‘wow’. Some of them have me laughing. Some of them make me wonder how I even allowed myself to get in that situation. I think we are all still learning from our mistakes and will continue to make mistakes because that’s a part of life. Nobody is perfect and life isn’t always going to go the way we want it to. With that said…I’ll never run out of stuff to write about because my life is just that colorful! The good and the bad! 

BPM: What compelled you to write Bitter? What are some of the issues discussed in the book?
Domestic violence, stalking, and how to handle baby mama drama are some of the issues addressed in my new book.  I read something about Wendy Williams and how she was the radio talk show host everyone loved to hate, my own personal relationships with people, and then just things I see everyday when I leave my home. 
I can go to a Walmart and see the craziest stuff, come back home, write it down and have a storyline for a book. LOL. 

BPM: Who do you want to reach with your book and the message within?
Everyone…because everyone is bitter about something or has been bitter at one time. We put our whole lives out there for the world to see. We get on Facebook and other media outlets and put our exact locations at that moment. We let people know where we work, where we live, we post our children’s pictures, and photos of our home and cars. Well if someone wanted to hurt you…they would know where to find you. 

I think we’re also very trusting of people we don’t really know. We go out on a date with someone and the next thing you know they know where we live, what we do, and they’ve met the children. Then we find out their not the person we thought they were we get mad. Well we didn’t really get to know them did we? Yet we’re soooo surprised when it happens.

BPM: How will reading your book shape the reader's life? 
It’s going to make the readers re-evaluate a lot of things they normally do. Hopefully they’ll become a little more cautious and tread with open ears.

BPM: Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book?
I want them to gain a sense of self-worth. If you don’t love and protect yourself…you can’t expect anyone else to.

BPM: What makes your book different from others on the same subject?
I think each of my scenes suggest some kind of mystery and romance. Each chapter is going to arouse curiosity and tantalize readers. 

BPM: How can our readers reach you online? 
I can be reached at: or 

Order  Bitter by Danette Majette
ISBN-10: 1934230278 


Intimate Conversation with 
Author Carla S. Pennington

Hosted by Ella Curry, Black Pearls Magazine

Author Carla S. Pennington was born and raised in Prichard, Alabama where she continues to reside with her family. In 1995, she graduated from Mattie T. Blount High School, an all black school. She became a teen mother in 1992 and was advised that she couldn’t return to school for an entire semester after giving birth. This devastated Carla, but she refused to be held back. Her dedication and hard work paid off. She ranked number five in her graduating class and received an advanced diploma with honors. 

In 1996, Carla was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Over the years, the disease has halted her, but she refuses to let it stop her. She is currently working on a number of other projects that she plans to have published in the near future. 

In 2002, she received her Bachelor of Arts degree with a concentration in journalism from Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama. After graduation, Carla decided not to pursue her career in journalism. Her heart and mind were elsewhere. She wanted to write fiction novels and short stories, something that she had been doing since she was a young girl. 

In 2005, Carla published her first novel, Fling and from there several short stories which appeared in anthologies across the country. Finally, she landed a book deal with Life Changing Books which released the wildly anticipated novel, the Available Wife in January 2011.  Readers can reach author Carla S. Pennington on FaceBook and Twitter as:  carlapennington.   Email address: 

BPM: Carla, tell us about your passion for writing. What impact do you want your book, The Available Wife, to make? 
Carla: My passion for writing began when I was in elementary school. Once I started reading, I became fascinated with words. At first, I was into poetry and that turned into short stories and that turned into full length books. I write because it feels good. Writing is a de-stressor for me, my escape from reality. It’s my drug of choice. What drives me to write is the fact that I can write what I want. It’s my choice to do a love story, an erotic piece, an abusive relationship, etc. The impact that I want my book to make on readers is: “I want to read more books by this author. She is fire!”

BPM: Finish this sentence- “My writing offers the following legacy to future readers...” 
Carla: My writing offers the following legacy to future readers and authors: to the readers, read with your eyes AND mind open. To the authors, be you at all times. If you can imagine or think it, you should write it. You should never be afraid of your imagination and thoughts. That is what makes you stand out from the rest. 

BPM: Introduce us to The Available Wife and Niquole Wright. 

Carla: Niquole Wright seems to have it all; a loyal and devoted husband, two children and a rising record label that she dedicates more time to than her family. Everything is perfect except for one thing...her husband Germaine. She has run her course with him and he needs to be replaced.

  When the handsome and seductive Kingston enters her life, he becomes the perfect substitute. Clueless to his wife's plan, Germaine continues to be a loving naive husband while Niquole's full blown affair quickly becomes her obsession. 

Desperate to start a new life with her new man, Niquole does everything in her power to push Germaine out of the picture. However, little does she know Kingston plans are different from hers. Sit back and see what happens when a wife learns that the price of betrayal can have a shattering toll.

With this book, I am offering the reader a chance to explore the side of a selfish adulterer, an emotionally abused husband, a dysfunctional mother/daughter relationship. The list goes on.

BPM: Take us inside the book. What are two major events taking place? 
Carla: Two major events that take place are when the Germaine finally decides to leave after years of emotional abuse and when Kingston, the lover, reveals his ulterior motives to Niquole. This is a shocker especially since Niquole didn’t care what his motives were. She still wants to be with him. 

BPM: Who are your main characters? Give us a little bit of the back story in The Available Wife. 
Carla: The main characters are Niquole (the record label owner and adulteress), Kingston (Niquole’s lover), Germaine (Niquole’s husband), Meagan (Niquole’s assistant) and Jalisa (Niquole’s best friend). 

Niquole is unhappy with her spouse. She falls head over heels for Kingston who doesn’t possess the same feelings that she has for him. Niquole comes from a once happy home and blames her mother for making it unhappy by kicking her father out when she was a teen. She’s looking for love, but going about it in the wrong way. 

BPM: Who were your favorites? Are your characters from the portrayal of real people?
Carla: My favorite characters were Niquole and Meagan. Although I didn’t agree with the way Niquole went about getting what she wanted, I did admire her will to go get it. I guess I can say some of Niquole is some of me but not the crazy stuff though. 
Meagan is one of my favorites because she played Niquole ‘til the very end. Niquole is supposed to be this sharp chic who was screwed over by her assistant. It’s always fun to see someone like Niquole, a villain, get screwed over. 

BPM: Were there people or experiences from "your world" incorporated into this storyline? 
Carla: I originally wanted this to be a love story with a not so happy ending as I’ve seen happen on a number of occasions. As I dug deeper into the writing, my direction changed. I began thinking about a few dysfunctional relationships that some of my girl and guy friends as well as I have had where we thought we were in love and vice versa. Some of the crazy thoughts we shared amongst each other over the years swarmed my head so the entire concept of the book was changed. So, I guess you can say that some of my world was incorporated into the storyline.

BPM:  What specific issues do you address in The Available Wife?
Carla: Adultery, lack of communication in marriages, betrayal, collective lies, family secrets are all discussed in the book. You can’t make someone love you and you have to love yourself first before you can love another. 

BPM: What was the most powerful chapter for you to write?
Carla: I’m not sure which chapter it is now because of the formatting but the most powerful chapter for me to write was the one when Germaine uses reverse psychology on Niquole to make her reveal a huge secret. Later that night, she tries to seduce him hoping her actions will keep him from revealing her secret to others. He lets her know that he knows what she is doing. Her plan backfires and he makes he go through with her original plan. She hates it. He regains control.

BPM: Who do you want to reach with The Available Wife ?
Carla: I would like to reach men and women, young or old. Don’t lie! Don’t keep secrets! Someone will always get hurt if you do. If you’re on a relationship where you’re being abused, Get out! If you’re in a relationship that you don’t want to be in, Get out!

BPM: What makes your book different from others on the same subject?
Carla: I think what makes my book unique is that I haven’t come across many that deal with domestic abuse toward men. Women are always perceived as the victims when it comes to domestic abuse, but men are being abused as well. For men, abuse is a current problem but a hidden crime. 

BPM: How can our readers reach you online? 
Readers can reach me on FaceBook and Twitter as: carlapennington. Email address:  

Thanks Ella and Black Pearls Magazine for the wonderful interview segment!
Carla S. Pennington, author of The Available Wife 

Order The Available Wife today!
ISBN-10: 1934230170 


Intimate Conversation 
with Kendall Banks

Hosted by Ella Curry, Black Pearls Magazine

Kendall Banks, author of bestselling author of Rich Girls (2009) and the soon to be released One Night Stand (February 2011), is offering the reader a glimpse at the consequences of cheating. In addition, after reading One Night Stand you’ll realize that sleeping with someone you don’t really know can have a life changing effect. Check out excerpts from her books on the publisher's website at:  

Check out the Video Intro  for  One Night Stand by Kendall Banks.

BPM: Kendall tell us about your passion for writing. What impact do you want your book, One Night Stand,  to make on the readers?   
My passion is simple. Telling it like it is. I’m such a realist. I yearn to write about things that are really happening in life; especially in relationships. I’ve had enough crazy relationships to be an expert at this point. Okay, I had to stop and laugh. Laughing makes the pain go away. But seriously, I just want my readers to learn from my writing. Let the do’s and don’ts of relationships, marriage, and commitment meditate in your heart. Take what I write as a warning because Lord knows if you run across one of my characters in real life…you’d better take off sprinting! 

BPM: Finish this sentence- “My writing offers the following legacy to future readers...” 
My writing offers the following legacy to future readers and youth headed toward adulthood….my writing is on the wall…literary…learn to stay monogamous. We as parents, authors, and society as a whole are helping to raise our youth. They will someday read- One Night Stand and think…what? Is this real! Could this really happen! Would my husband do that? Will I be tempted to cheat? The answer is yes. Now, what will you do about it?

BPM: Give us a peek inside your latest novel, One Night Stand.  
Read an excerpt from the book today =>

This book is like no other, so I’ve been told. One Night Stand explores both the male and female after effect of a One Night Stand. In fairy tale land both parties have great sex and go home to peace. 

In this book the gritty truth is revealed. From smashing up cars, to court dates, to kidnapping, to border-line divorce; are all implications that one night of pleasure can lead to a lifetime of misery. 

BPM: Introduce us to the main characters in One Night Stand.
The main characters are Zaria (lonely woman in her thirties with mental issues) and Gerald Hardy (male womanizer who’s married and thought to be untouchable) (Milan), Zaria’s room-mate who’s beautiful and desperately trying to flee from Zaria and her over the top ways. (Dana) Hardy’s wife who doesn’t believe nothing he says. However, doesn’t realize she’s in danger. 

Zaria, who’s always looking for love falls head over heels for Hardy, a man she met only once. His routine is to sleep with women, then forget he ever met them. Problem…Zaria refused to be played. In addition, Hardy never took the time to explore Zaria’s background. 

BPM: Who were your favorites? Are your characters from the portrayal of real people?
My favorite character was Hardy. Since I’m a woman, so it was fun to write his parts from a male perspective. He’s off the chain and will give women some insight as to what men are thinking. This is beyond info put into Steve Harvey’s book. This is straight talk with no chaser. Many men were questioned to assist with material to write his parts. 

The aspects of realism come from too many parts of the book. I’ve been sworn to secrecy, so can’t say. The only thing I can tell you is that a lot of Hardy’s behaviors are real and the consequence has been changed to protect the innocent. Go ahead, “say, ahhhh.” Drool at the mouth and then go to Amazon to order your copy. 

BPM: Were there things from "your world" incorporated into this storyline? 
Absolutely, I’ve been hurt so many times in life. But one relationship put the icing on the cake. I was lied to, pounced on, and treated like less than a human being. It was hard to walk the other way, so yes, a little payback was needed. Some of the crazy things I did over the years make me want to cringe now. I’m a little older, more mature so I choose to let things go. However, I wouldn’t suggest that a brotha try this mess with me in 2011.

BPM: What specific revelation prompted you to write One Night Stand?
The revelation that the world would be a better place if cheaters were exposed gave me inspiration. What about a database like we have for sex offenders? LOL! I’ve already begun working on a handbook titled, “Rules for One Night Stands”.

BPM: What are two juicy events taking place? 
One initial event that lets you know that Zaria is a sick puppy is when Zaria goes to a club and sees that an attractive man has eyes for her. She instantly speeds of the relationship and assumes they will be a couple. Instantly, she digs her claws into him, claiming him as her own. He doesn’t realize she’s more than needy. She has emotional issues and eventually shows out at the club claiming that some woman wants her man. 

Another event is when Hardy , the man Zaria has one of her One Night Stands with realizes he can’t just have a good time for one night and get away with it. His family is threatened and things spiral out of control all too quick. Even with the police involved, no one can stop Zaria after feeling like she’s been hurt one time too many. 

BPM: Who do you want to reach with your book and the message?
I would like to reach men and women, of all ages. It’s important to know who you’re dealing with sexually. If he or she is married, turn the other way It only leads to the break-up of families and sometimes…someone’s bones

BPM: How will reading your book shape the reader's life? 
If I am discussing them in any way, hopefully they will see themselves. The whole One Night Stand situation can’t be good on any level. Think about it, you’ll have one night of good sex…maybe! Then what? Let this be a lesson. ..Good things in life come from hard work. Spend time with a person, before sex. Try to figure out if they are a good match for you just in case you get married later and have children. 

BPM: What was the most powerful chapter for you to write?
The chapter where Zaria realizes that Hardy really doesn’t want her. It was like she was in super duper denial. Why can’t we as women see when a man doesn’t want us?

BPM: What makes your book different from others on the same subject?
Mine is different because it brings the truth out. I don’t sugar coat anything. It’s raw at times but also entertaining. It hasn’t even officially been released yet has people talking everywhere. I’m sure it’ll be a Urban Lit classic. 

BPM: Share with us your latest news or upcoming book releases.
My book will be released on March 1, 2011. I’m looking forward to sell-outs everywhere. So pleaseeeee pre-order now. In the meantime, check out my first book- Rich Girls written in 2009 at   

BPM: How can our readers reach you online? 
Readers can reach me on FaceBook (Kendall Banks). I don’t have my website yet…but for now check me out on:  I’m hoping readers will contribute comments and suggestions to my handbook on , Rules for One Night Stands.

All Best!
Kendall, The One Night Stand Specialist

Order One Night Stand by Kendall Banks

ISBN: 193423026X

Intimate Conversation with Miss KP
Author of The Dirty Divorce Trilogy
Hosted by Ella Curry, Black Pearls Magazine


Miss KP began writing in high school as an outlet to express her emotions as a teenager. She would write poetry and has even written unpublished songs. However, after feeling as if she had much more to say, she decided to purchase a laptop and began working on her first novel, which we now know as Dirty Divorce, Part 1.

Just months after a good friend introduced her to publisher, Azarel; Miss KP’s dreams came true. She became a published author with the Life Changing Books (L.C.B) family with a #1 hit behind her name.  

Along with being an author, Miss KP works in the fashion industry as a Merchandise Manager in prominent department store.  

A native Washingtonian, Miss KP currently resides in Maryland with her eight year old daughter, and is awaiting the release of her second and most anticipated novel of 2010, The Dirty Divorce- Part 2.  For more information on Miss KP or her books, visit her website at: 

Check out the video introduction for The Dirty Divorce 

BPM: Please introduce us to The Dirty Divorce 2 and the main characters.
Drugs turn out to be a way of life for Rich, a powerful, sexy Drug Lord hailing from Washington, D.C.   His desire for fast money and the extravagant things that it brings puts his family in harms way.   Soon, his ego forces him to leave his castle and empire to expand business on the West Coast.  His decision to leave his love ones behind at the mercy of his enemies turns out to be catastrophic.  One by one, each of Rich's children spiral out of control. 

Pregnancy, rape, and abduction all hit the family structure one day after another. With Rich putting his focus on money, sex, and insignificant things in life his wife Lisa, throws some new drama into the relationship as well; a side-piece and divorce papers. This creates an even bigger wedge between Rich and Lisa.  The hate that Rich and Lisa develop for each other causes the divorce to get down- right dirty. Can their love out way their hate to save their family or is it too late? 

Read excerpt from DD1, GO.   Main Players in Dirty Divorce 2 

Rich- Handsome and definitely a lady's man. Father and husband that is ruthless and some think he's heartless but he's real. He lacks respect for women and his infidelity causes major issues in his home. His only love is for his money and his daughter. He keeps his son and wife on the back burner which causes major problems.

Lisa- Rich's wife. A docile, fragile wife and mother that struggles with what's important in life-- the love of money or her happiness. She deals with Rich's infidelity for the finer things in life but realizes when it's too late the price of street life has a hefty price tag.

Juan- Rich and Lisa's son. Has extreme hate for his dad due to his lack of respect for Lisa but doesn't realize he's more like his father that he knows.

Denie- Rich and Lisa's daughter. Teen girl that loves her father no matter how much he neglects her. He can do no wrong until it effects her and their relationship is tested.

Carlos "Los"-  Rich's Cousin- Handsome street Colombian that holds rank in the street. His father Uncle Renzo makes things happen on both coasts and is the reason for the major cash flow that Rich and his family benefits from. Carlos and Rich's loyalty is tested by the ultimate betrayal and causes the family to dismantle. 

Marisol- Carlos' wife. Beautiful but ruthless. A true ride or die chick. Will do anything for her husband. A close friend to Lisa.

BPM: Who are your favorites? Are your characters from the portrayal of real people?
KP: I would have to say that Lisa would be my favorite character in Part 1 because of the transformation of her character. It was intriguing to have her go from being this gullible wife to this deranged woman that was lost and willing to do anything for revenge. The characters of the book are fictional characters but the situations are real.

BPM: What role do you give the mean spirited characters? 
KP: The mean spirited character in the book is Rich, but he is consistent. Sometimes we have to look inside to see what makes people tick and why are they the way that they are. When people treat others with lack of respect and there are no consequences, do we blame the victim for allowing it and not standing up for themselves.

BPM: What compelled you to write a book?
KP: As a teenager I would write as an outlet because I experienced a lot at a young age. My father’s absence through my teen years contributed to a lot that I went through. One of good friends was going through some relationship issues and made a powerful statement, she said, “I feel as though I’m being punished for everything my father did wrong to women, why do my relationships keep failing?”  From there I said I want to write a book with a storyline that speaks to the troubled black family.

BPM: Who do you want to reach with your book?
KP: The Dirty Divorce is a novel I feel anyone can relate to. Most people will know someone who has been through a divorce or has been through one themselves, even if they are a product of divorce. Everyone in the family is affected by the break up, whether dirty or not.

KP: The one thing I always say is,  "I don’t want anyone to lose the message. The cars, the money, and the big house might seem all good but we need to know the consequences that come with it. The streets are always watching and you have to live a life in fear of the day it could all come to an end; whether if it’s the Feds or the next man trying to get on top it eventually comes to an end.  
Infidelity and betrayal come with the territory as well. Know that these are all the things you sign up for street life, but the main message is not only what I just mentioned, it’s the effect on the family and the children. "

It’s a vicious cycle because we are teaching our children that this is the only way, and as young girls we choose the hustler as our boyfriend, and as young men we choose street life as the way because this is all we know. The abuse in the home becomes a way of life and you take the risk of your off springs either becoming a product of their environment or finding a way out. I want people to see that even though this book is fiction, it’s somebody in this world going through the same things and what are we going to do differently in our lives to make a change in our current behaviors. 

BPM:  What specific issues do you address in this book?
KP: Divorce has been such an easy way out these days, the younger generation doesn't fight anymore for their relationships so this is definitely a topic everyone can relate to. Also the relationship between a mother and her son as well as a father and their daughter. How the decisions that we make as parents and how they affect our children.

BPM: Please share your upcoming releases and online contact info.
KP: The Dirty Divorce is a trilogy and Part 2 will be released on November, 2011. For  Dirty Divorce 3  release update information or to contact me I can be reached on Twitter:  Facebook:  or visit my website at  

Purchase Dirty Divorce 1 and 2 written by Miss KP, HERE.
Publisher: Life Changing Books 
ISBN-10:  193423074X 


Intimate Conversation with Michelle Walker Nelson

This is Michelle Walker’s first novel. She lives in Northern NJ with her three daughters. She has also written an illustrated children’s book, “Curly Top.” Michelle received a BA in Journalism from City College of New York and is currently working on her Master’s in Risk Management in Business.

BPM: What makes you powerful as a person, mother and a writer? 
My ability to still believe in love after so much heartache. 

BPM: Who are your mentors? Where do you find your inspiration? 
My mentors are those from who I've learned life lessons whether good or bad. It was all relevant. I'm inspired by anyone and everyone who dares to try. 

BPM: Finish this sentence -"My writing offers the following legacy to future readers... "
My writing offers the following legacy to future readers... If your spirit is telling you that must do something. Do it. Dare to be that bold. 

BPM: Introduce us to your book, It S' Alright Now. What genre is it? 
It S' Alright Now is a fictional novel that speaks to perseverance and faith. Raised in Harlem, New York, in a dilapidated five-story walk up Simone Kimmels is the youngest of seven siblings who are junkies. Her mother, Yancy, appears to be as strung out as they come. Ole Johnny Walker Red and the pain from all the men that have left her, helped to consume Yancy’s life. Simone must learn at a young age how to navigate through the madness of her existence. It S' Alright Now is story about love, trust and mistrust, redemption and triumph. 

BPM: What issues in today's society do you address in the book, It S' Alright Now

Although the scene is set in the late 70's through late 90's, many of the issues still resonates in our communities. There's still much drug activity in our communities that's desecrating families. There's also still too many stories of delinquency, teenage 
pregnancy and illiteracy in our communities. 

BPM: Share with us three life enhancing sections from It S' Alright Now.
The first life enhancing section would be when Simone was in high school and became lax about attending classes. Her two friends literally dragged her out of bed and made her go to school. That action enabled Simone to break the cycle within her family of delinquency and allowed her to further her education thereby enriching her life. 

Secondly, Simone was loved unconditionally by her father. Experiencing that kind of love while in the midst of constant turmoil and despair, ingrained a subliminal acknowledgment within her that love. Third, having grown up in a destructive environment, she finally recognized her own power to escape the harsh realities of her life when she was confronted with a most horrendous act by her sister. This propelled her to get up and at least try. 

BPM: What motivated you to create this book now? What was your primary quest in publishing this book?
My primary goal was to share my work with the world and hope that others could relate. This book has been a work in progress for many years. It was supposed to be here. When I lost my job. I took that opportunity to complete and publish it. 

BPM: Who did you write this book for? Why? 
Anyone 18 or older should read this book. I wrote it for anyone that's feeling or have ever felt trapped. There's always a way out. It S' Alright Now tells a powerful story of love, despair, torment, shame and possibilities. It speaks to how profoundly the effects of ones upbringing have on their life, throughout their life. It's a story about beating the odds, and learning to love oneself. 

BPM: Now let's turn the interview toward your new business venture. How did you get your start in publishing? 
I took a leap of faith after I lost my job. I love reading and I'm also a writer. I decided that this was the time to take a leap of Faith and chart my own destiny. 

BPM: Did you have any formal business training in publishing? 
No, not in publishing so to speak. I've been a manager for 20 years in corporate America. 

BPM: How would you describe your experience as a Entrepreneur? 
Awakening, scary, exciting, frustrating, comforting. 

BPM: What do you like most about your new profession in publishing? 
Networking and having the ability to set my own agenda. 

BPM: What is your biggest challenge in business? How did you overcome it? 
Financial challenges. You must have Faith, strength, and the perseverance to hold on. 

BPM: What advice would you give someone just starting out in publishing? 
Pay attention. Do your research first. Speak to as many people as possible in the business. And lastly, before you spend a dime, lay it all out from beginning to end. 

BPM: What are three things all leaders possess in your opinion? 
Determination, creative intelligence and perseverance. 

BPM: How is your writing and publishing company impacting the public? 
By giving rise to many voices that would most likely never be heard. 

BPM: Before we end the interview, define SUCCESS. What part does GRATITUDE play in achieving success, in your opinion? 
Surrendering to God and allowing the blessings He has for you to flow and thank Him for all of it each and every morning that you awaken.

BPM: How can our readers reach you online? 
Pick Up Your Copy Today, here!
ISBN: 0981865259

It S' Alright Now by Michelle Walker 

Raised in Harlem, New York, in a dilapidated five-story walk up Simone Kimmels is the youngest of seven siblings who are junkies. Her mother, Yancy, appears to be as strung out as they come. Ole Johnny Walker Red and the pain from all the men that have left her, helped to consume Yancy’s life. 

Simone must learn at a young age how to navigate through the madness of her existence. 

Simone lives in constant fear and confusion; too young to understand the ramifications her home life would have on her future and for the rest of her life. After years of torment and despair, she finds comfort and security in the arms of her first love, Byron Tyrone Shaw, better known as Stack. She’ll soon find out however that even her life with Yancy couldn’t prepare her for what her mother-in law has in store for them. 

It S' Alright Now is story about love, trust and mistrust, redemption and triumph. 

They sang my life in song. I'd awaken to Marvin passionately screaming, "What's going on" as my world collapsed in chaos all around me as I struggled to understand:
and when I graduated from high school and no one cared
and when daddy died and I was left alone
and when the "outlaws" protested against my marriage
and when I had my first child
And when he left...

And then came Luther. 
Just as I'd bottled up all of my pain and used it as a force to validate that my life was inconsequential. I heard him say,
it s'alright…
it s'alright now… 
and I tried desperately to find that place.


It S' Alright Now by Michelle Walker 
Purchase the book at:,, or 

Pick Up Your Copy Today!
ISBN: 0981865259
ISBN-13: 9780981865256

Sistergirl Devotions
Keeping Jesus in the Mix on the Job

by Carol M.  Mackey

Encouragement, advice, and real talk 
from a successful sister

It's not always easy to live your faith during the nine to five. But no matter where you work, that's the mission field in which God has placed you. It doesn't matter if you're a waitress or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company--you're equally important to God. And he wants to use you to build his kingdom.

Sistergirl Devotions is for you--the working woman who wants to grow spiritually while on the job. Using Scripture, "sistergirl" wisdom, and true stories, each down-to-earth devotional shows how your faith can empower you to have success no matter where you work. With topics such as respect, resourcefulness, image, timeliness, honesty, setbacks, and balancing work, church, and home, each devotion ends with a "Power Move"--practical affirmations that will drive you toward victory.

As editor-in-chief of the esteemed Black Expressions Book Club, Carol M. Mackey has her finger on the pulse of African American women and what they’re reading, thinking about and their search for information that speaks to their daily lives and struggles.

In “Sistergirl Devotions”,  Mackey addresses the stresses that crop up at the workplace. With workplace stresses ranging from bad bosses to gossipy coworkers to a lack of passion for what you’re getting paid to do, what’s a Christian woman to do? Sometimes it can feel like your faith is putting in overtime, too, just to get you through the week.

Mackey can speak to these and other hurdles that working women face through a collection of 90 insightful and inspiring readings. Using Scripture, conventional wisdom and stories from her own experiences, Mackey teaches how faith provides timeless and trusting answers to these daily struggles. Each devotion offers a “Power Move,” which will give women actionable tips for applying these principles to their own lives and careers.

Carol M. Mackey is editor-in-chief of Black Expressions Book Club, an award-winning book club and the largest African American club in the nation. She has been names among the 50 Most Powerful African Americans In Publishing by Black Issues Book Review and has been featured in Literary Divas: The Top 100 + Most Admired African American Women in Literature. 

Endorsements for Sistergirl Devotions: Keeping Jesus in the Mix on the Job

"Carol Mackey has done a masterful job of incorporating the practicality of God's Word into daily meditations. She does not shrink from the real issues we often struggle with. Carol addresses them boldly, giving clear answers and 'Power Moves' to equip us to have the victory we long to experience in our everyday lives."
--Michelle McKinney Hammond, author of The Power of Being a Woman

"Sistergirl Devotions is by far one of the best self-help books I have read in a long time. Carol Mackey masterfully weaves in Scripture, invaluable wisdom, and her own personal experiences. Absolutely brilliant!"
--Kimberla Lawson Roby, New York Times bestselling author; author of A
Deep Dark Secret and Be Careful What You Pray For

"Sistergirl Devotions delivers inspiring daily nuggets that will warm the soul and motivate every reader to succeed on the job for the Lord."
--Stephanie Perry Moore, author of the Payton Skky series 
and the Beta Gamma Pi series

Purchase your copy today at Amazon
Sistergirl Devotions Website: 

Intimate Conversation with author Rachel Berry

Author Rachel Berry grew up in Newark, East Orange, and Orange, NJ. She is a wife, proud mother of four adults, grandmother of two gorgeous girls, a published author and poet, motivational speaker, radio talk show host, columnist for SORMAG and community leader. As founder and president of a social group, this artist juggles a full schedule. "Black Pearls United INC" (an African American sister-circle) was founded in 2000.

Rachel is an alumni of Toastmasters International where she served as Sergeant at Arms, earned her CTM and Toastmaster of The Year award. Rachel’s book ‘Family Pictures’ made the EDC Creations 2009 best books list and she is an AFLA 2010 nominee.  Mrs. Berry's speaking engagements include ILMW (The International League Of Muslim Women), Hampton Social Services, Heritage Elementary School, Healthy Family Partnership, The Red Hat Society, Norfolk Methodist Church, Sixth House and Everest College to name a few.

Rachel puts family first and enjoys life in Virginia. When she's not writing, she also enjoys reading, dining out, traveling, and watching movies. She accredits her gain in blessings and achievements to her relationship and guidance from her creator, association with great women, positive family members, loyal friends, the upbringing of an amazing woman-her mother, and the support and love of her husband and children.

BPM: Rachel, introduce us to your book, A Slip In The Right Direction
RB: A Slip In The Right Direction – The Clifton Henderson series is a coming-of-age book written especially for tween and teen boys. The story takes place in Chicago and speaks to you through the eyes of 14 year-old Clifton Henderson aka Slip. Slip isn’t happy about his recent move, or having to start all over in a new school, and make new friends. Also, a crush on a schoolmate who in the beginning doesn’t notice him, the yearning for his father’s approval as a young man, sibling rivalry, the gift of premonition, and a certain mysterious neighbor, all add color to his daily life. 

However, things really heat up for this young man when he’s kidnapped by gang members and his home training and family values are tested. Slip’s parents are Evelyn and Morris Henderson, and they too find themselves dealing with a few familiar challenges of their own as a couple, parents, dealing with career changes, and personal struggles. 

BPM: What specific situation or revelation prompted you to write your book?
RB: I wrote this book because I want young men to have more available to read than just sports, comics, and SCI FI. I want young men to read and rise above the stigma that they don’t. I want our young boys to have someone to relate to that’s going through some of the things they’re experiencing and to know good guys have a life too and it’s alright to have values and principles. And, I want young ladies to understand some of the things young men go through. 

BPM: Take us inside the book. What are two major events taking place?
RB: One major event that takes place is when Slip is kidnapped by gang members and unwillingly becomes involved with a robbery. Since he has been raised with family values he knows stealing and robbery is wrong. But when he finds himself in a good place at a bad time, he does what he believes is in the best interest of the people being robbed and goes along with the robbery as if he’s a willing participant. Once he’s alone and in the company of this bad influence he experiences what so many youth find happens to them, he begins to question his home training 

Also another ongoing event or more of a growing revelation throughout the story is the relationship and challenges that Slip’s parents discover, face, and eventually resolve. The father is very strict and believes his wife babies their son, yet he spends very little time with him because he’s trying to make money for the family. The mother is unhappy having given up her career for the move and has become a housewife looking for fulfillment. However, I’m proud that both situations provide enlightenment and growth for Slip, his parents, and other people around them.

BPM: What are some of their specific issues, needs or problems addressed in this book?
RB: Well this is a coming-of-age story so I wanted to address a few things 14 year-old boys go through at that age. Things like: first kiss and puppy love, sibling rivalry, wanting to be heard, recognized and understood: in this case Slip wants all this from his dad. The story also briefly addresses and without being preachy the importance of staying a virgin until married, the perils of bad association, drinking, and smoking. 

Also, I show how family issues affect our children whether they speak on it or not. As parents we can’t be with our children all the time and there are times our kids are faced with tough people and touch choices, but if we raise them right most of the time then can prevail over them. This story shows that and also shows how we as parents have growing to do as well.

BPM: What do you think makes your book different from others on the same subject?
RB: My story is different because I chose to write it from a child’s point of view and simply show realistically that as parents and a family unit that we all have growing to do. I also feel my story is different because it also shows that while a two parent home is best for a child, providing is not all there is. A child needs a parent’s attention and time as well. 

Then, to add entertainment and excitement for the young curious mind I gave Slip the whimsical gift of premonition, an asset that adds a bit of mystery to his life almost as much as his quest to discover who his mysterious neighbor is. So you have a mixture of real life issues and discoveries, sprinkled with a little mystery and suspense. I’ve also included 10 workbook questions at the end of the book to query the reader about what they got from the story and to address some things going on in their own life. Also, as a poet I wanted to entertain the reader in another way and did the synopsis poetically and included another poem at the end.

BPM: What makes you powerful as a person and a writer? Who are your mentors?
RB: I believe my power comes from the love of people and getting to know the “human condition.” I care about people, who they are, and why they do what they do, what motivates and drives them. I try to relay what I learn through my characters. My greatest mentor is my mother. Even now as a senior citizen she’s teaching me and showing me about how the twilight years of ones life can be. But seasoned writers like Alice Walker, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, J California Cooper and Zora Neale Hurston are on my list of admired wordsmiths. But trust me, that list is extended by a lot of new artists too, too long to list here. 

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... 
RB: My writing offers the following legacy to future readers... write from your heart & soul, believe in yourself, and your message will touch the heart & soul of others.

BPM: How can our readers reach you online? 
RB: I can be reached at my cyber home which is  and upcoming a home for Slip and his readers at:  I’m always happy to hear from my readers and can be reached at: 

Intimate Conversation with Cheryl Robinson

Cheryl Robinson is the author of five novels. Most recently, When I Get Where I'm Going, In Love with a Younger Man and Sweet Georgia Brown.  She is a native Detroiter and graduate of Wayne State University.  Robinson now resides in Central Florida where she is writing her next novel.  Cheryl has set many goals for her writing career, which include becoming a New York Times bestselling author. Cheryl’s novels are primarily character-driven and her themes often revolve around family, relationships, love, beating the odds, and redemption.

She loves dogs,  crème brûlée,  and almost anything organic. And the “real” job in corporate America her parents urged her to pursue? Well, after nearly twelve years with an automotive-related company and four corporate relocations where she’s lived in New York, Kansas, Texas, and Florida, she lost it. In the summer of 2010, the company was forced to downsize due to the ailing economy. However, she always considered her passion for writing to be a real job, even when she only had time to write her novels at night and on weekends. Now she has even more time to focus on fiction. 

BPM: What specific situation prompted you to write your book?
Some years ago, when I was about nineteen or twenty, I answered the phone at my parents' home and there was a woman on the other end who insisted that we were related. She was trying to tell me that she was my half sister and that we had the same father. I remember my heart sinking. In order for that to be true, based on her timeframe, that would mean my father, who I thought had been happily married to my mother for years, had cheated. But as the conversation continued we both realized that while the two men shared the same name they weren't the same person. 

Still, for those few minutes, I had to ask myself what if that was actually the case. The thought never completely escaped my mind, and in some ways it was that event that prompted me to eventually get around to exploring the scenario. And now, in the age of social networking, it's much easier to find your missing relatives. And in the case of these three sisters, it's also true, and they do share the same father. 

BPM: Who do you want to reach with When I Get Where I'm Going and the message within?
I am a Women's Fiction author. That does not mean I only write for women. Nor does the fact that I'm black mean I only write for black people. I don't write to exclude any one, but to enlighten and entertain us all. I write about women and women's issues, and of course, men are in my novels too. As an author I have an opportunity to go beyond stereotypes. I've learned over the eight years that I've been writing professionally that there is a way to entertain without offending. 

If I, as a black woman, do not feel good about how we are represented in the media. If I don't feel empowered about what is being written about us on the internet and elsewhere and if I have to continuously hear from the media that black women are "the least desirable of all the races" or not a preference by some men even within our own race, as an artist, I have an opportunity to present a different message that isn't a negative one, but can still be realistic. It's like music. Some songs only have a good beat while others also have wonderful lyrics. I want to write books that make people feel good. 

My intended message isn't given to readers, but written in such a way that the reader gets out of it what they came to the story with and how they view the story and the characters will be interpreted by how they view the world. But maybe, if I do my job as I intend to, they will have a different opinion after it's all said and done. 

BPM: Introduce us to your latest book, When I Get Where I'm Going.
What would you do if you discovered that you had a sibling you never knew existed? Would you be like Heaven, so excited to connect to that person that you quickly took to Facebook and started searching? Would you be like Hope, too caught up in the trials and tribulations of your own life to even care? Or would you be like Alicia, skeptical at first, but willing to open up to the idea?

Alicia, Hope, and Heaven are three estranged sisters embarking on one special reunion. And it will take an earth-shattering discovery, a lucky lottery ticket, and a near-fatal encounter to finally bring three sisters together and have them realize that nothing can save a person like family. 

BPM: Introduce us to your main characters in When I Get Where I'm Going
Heaven Jetter, Hope Teasdale, and Alicia Day are three special sisters! Heaven is twenty-one and the youngest sister. She's on probation, caught up in an abusive relationship, and trying desperately to get her life back on track. Hope is a young widow and single mother searching for the truth behind her husband's death, but once she finds out, can she handle it? Alicia is a struggling actress trying to catch a break in Hollywood after thirteen years of trying, but a devastating one-two punch forces her back to Detroit. 

BPM: What are a couple of the specific issues  addressed in this book? 
One issue in the story is domestic abuse. Heaven is involved in an unhealthy relationship, but like so many other women involved in something like that, she finds it nearly impossible to leave. Her story isn't from the viewpoint of a woman who is both a wife and mother and being abused, but from a young woman who has gotten caught-up with the wrong man and finds herself so confused that she doesn't know what to do and feels that her life in general is spiraling out of control.

Alicia Day's character was written for anyone who has been holding on to a dream for a very long time and wondering if it will ever come true. Aspiring actors, singers, and writers should be able to especially relate to her story. Black actresses, in particular, should also be able to as much has been discussed about the struggles that black women experience while trying to succeed in Hollywood. 

BPM: Share with us your latest news or upcoming book releases. 
When I Get Where I'm Going is featured in the September 2010 issue of Essence Magazine. And I recently completed my next novel, Remember Me, that will be released in September 2011.

BPM: How can our readers reach you online? 
Readers can connect with me through my website at:  and also join me on my recently created Facebook page.  There is a link on my web site to Facebook. 

Cheryl Robinson--When I Get Where I'm Going 
Purchase your copy today at Amazon

Intimate Conversation with Skyy Banks 

Before Soul on Fire, Skyy Banks shared her work with the world through freelance writings. She is a native of Arkansas who now calls Atlanta, GA her home. Banks enjoys reading, writing, and traveling. Banks uses her writing as a platform to encourage her readers to explore taboo subjects and engage in dialogue to find solutions. She is a self-motivated woman and knows the world is waiting for her greatness. 

Soul on Fire, Skyy Banks premier novel, is an exploration of the torment of abuse and the consequences of self-hatred and self-destructive behavior, and it sheds light on why so many women sabotage relationships and friendships that mean so much. 

Every woman knows Dana, the heroine of Skyy Banks’ debut novel, Soul on Fire. Dana, simply put, is a survivor. Her sexually abusive past has imprisoned her and she has unleashed her pain to a sea of devastation and damage. Not until she confronts her demons can she garner the strength to brave the journey to redemption. As she begins her journey to release herself from the shackles of her past, Dana quickly discovers the path to salvation and freedom is anything but smooth.  Set against the backdrop of the corporate world of Atlanta, Georgia, Soul on Fire chronicles a young professional woman’s journey for inner peace and happiness.


BPM:  Take us inside the book, Soul on Fire by Skyy Banks.  

Dana Taylor is 29, a beautiful, well- educated, rising star in corporate Atlanta. Dana lives life on her own terms, no matter the cost. She can have any man she wants, but often finds herself in the throes of one unhealthy relationship after another. Not until she has retreated into the emotional shelter of various unavailable men, ruined a marriage, and jeopardized a friendship does she look inward to find the source of her self-destructive behavior. To reclaim herself and find redemption, she must unlock the demons of her past and confront those that stole her innocence. 

BPM:  Who do you want to reach with your book and the message within?
Childhood sexual abuse is a no respecter of race, gender, or socio economic statuses. It is an offense that has become increasingly prevalent in our society, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys is sexually abused before the age of 18. Oddly enough, I want not only to reach victims, but potential victims and perpetrators as well. I want victims to know that they can overcome the emotional scarring of the violation that has occurred within their lives and the abusers to see from a different vantage point the devastation they have caused the victim and those closest to them.

BPM:  How will reading your book shape the readers lives? 
Reader’s lives will be shaped in that the book offers an opportunity for self-reflection. It touches on many dynamics as it relates to intimate relationships, family, friendships, and decision making. Life is all about choices and although we are not always dealt what we deem a fair hand, we must not allow the transgressions of others against us or our circumstances dictate how we move forward in life. 

BPM:  What was the most powerful chapter in the book?
The book has several powerful scenes, but what I have witnessed and received from readers as being the most was a confrontation scene in which the main character confronts her abuser. The raw emotion is heard when readers read this passage aloud, tears flow, and some have said they wish they too could have done that. They didn’t or couldn’t confront the abusers yet they could identify with the hurt. Only now to be able to open up to someone else, this for some has been twenty years later.

BPM:  Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book?
To survive is to thrive, mind blowing, devastating things occur in daily life. When it happens, nothing stops, not time or even life and people move right along with that flow without ever addressing or pausing to think about the situation. The bottled hurt and emotions then manifest themselves in unhealthy ways. Or on the flipside, it’s repressed and they are just living. Nonetheless, the person has survived in the physical sense, but is not thriving because mentally and spiritually they are dead. 

BPM:  How can our readers reach you online? 
I can be reached at where readers can subscribe to my blog and have the most current information on booksignings and appearances. Follow me on twitter, MySpace, and Facebook. 

Purchase Soul on Fire by Skyy Banks at Amazon
ISBN-10: 0981532659 | ISBN-13: 978-0981532653 

Intimate Conversation with Russel Blake

Russel Blake has been a Music Producer/Professional Musician/Concert Soloist/Educator for over three  decades. As a music producer, Mr. Blake has created a multitude of projects covering all genres of music. His last CD project entitled “Quiet Strength” is a powerful and soulful jazz project that received critical and commercial success. His next soon to be released CD project is entitled “Fierce Solitude” and is highly anticipated. 

Russel Blake has also just self-published his first book entitled “Proverbs 31: The Virtuous Black Woman Volume 1.”  The strength of the idea is to communicate the precious and priceless value/existence of Black Women to the minds of black men, the rights to be treated with unwavering respect and dignity in the minds of black women and the seeds of reverence to be sown by virtue of changing perception one community at a time. 

If one Black Woman is thought to be expendable, then every Black Women’s immeasurable value is now diminished in the eyes of the world. 

Proverbs 31: The Virtuous Black Woman Volume 1 by Russel Blake
“Proverbs 31: The Virtuous Black Woman” is published by Man of Psalms Publishing. It is a book of Psalms, Praises, Short Stories, and observations whose foundation are the Holy Scriptures utilizing Proverbs 31 as its central theme based on the Virtuous Black Woman. 
Mr. Blake's writings are in essence a global dedication unto African, Caribbean, and African American Virtuous Women who everyday exemplify the proverb of the wise Woman who builds her house with peaceful dignity.

BPM: What is the inspiration behind your book, Proverbs 31:The Virtuous Black Woman? 
My inspiration is drawn from the resiliency and persistent determination I have witnessed in the depth of character from my own Mother to African, Caribbean and African-American Women during my world travels.

BPM: Why do you feel that the topic of this book is relevant at this time?
I feel it is arguably factual that at no other time in history have black women faced such a daunting foe of mis-characterization and victimization since the transatlantic slave trade.

BPM: Why was this book specifically targeted to Black Women or Women of Color and not all women?
Regrettably, black women particularly in the United States still constitute the highest “negative” statistics belonging to women. Whether in the areas of health, incarceration, leading single parent households, etc;…

BPM: What do you want women to take away from your book? 
A renewed sense of value and purpose inspiring them to reassess themselves in the most positive light and moral worth possible in order to both endure and succeed.

BPM: How can my readers obtain a copy of  the book.
Russel Blake website address: 

Proverbs 31: The Virtuous Black Woman Volume 1 by Russel Blake
Price: $19.99; ISBN: 978-0-615-34398-3 

The primary subject matter is Christian Inspiration/Psalms/Spirituality/Self-Help
The primary audience is Adults, African-American, Caribbean/African Women and Men 

To place an order, please order at 

Email Monica Hart, Director:  



Intimate Conversation with Andrea Clinton 

Andrea Clinton is a novelist, poet and essayist, and aspiring screenwriter/filmmaker. As a Montclair State University graduate, she posses’ a degree in English, Film and Journalism. She’s the founder and CEO of the non-profit organization, People Helping People; worked as Editor in Chief of AMISTAD newspaper, New Jersey; and is presently working on a biography and screenplay featuring the life of her uncle George Clinton of Parliament/Funkadelic and the Clinton family. Read more on Andrea here.

BPM: 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?
What drives me is my passion for story telling and entertaining the readers or listeners (I've been summoned to randomly make up and tell stories). I write to enlighten or to pull the readers coattail to an issue or subject matter. I pray the impact that my books have on readers is that: The upper class begin to learn and are introduced to the other classes and what they live and experience, why they make the decisions they make, etc.; I give the middle class a chance to learn not to look down their noses at the poor or lower class, but have a respect for their struggle and to recognize that they are being played in the game as well. 

I also give the less fortunate a chance to not revere the upper class so much, as their problems are as great as their money. My writing offers the lower class a way to reach for the stars by obtaining KNOW-HOW. I teach them how to work hard to maintain that sense of "down-to-earthness" we posses, that the other classes wish they had and seek, but can't find because of the airs they put on and their ongoing evil to maintain what they have. I want to show the poor or lowered class that we really aren't missing as much as we believe, and we're much happier than we think.

BPM: Finish this sentence- My writing offers the following legacy to future readers... 
Realness with an understanding that: Our upbringing/what and how we're taught, our environment, innate qualities that we get thru genetics or are God given, instincts and drives such as Self-preservation and Desires all play a role in how we turn out, how we think and the decisions we make. We have to look at all of these things and decide who we will be, hopefully enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong.

BPM: Introduce us to your new book, Life Knows No Bounds: One Who Loves You More.
The book is about Alisa, a money grubbing gold digger who's following in the foot steps of the older girls who came before her. She's got several men thinking she's their woman, and when one drops her off at home, another picks her up.  She has gold, diamonds, money and more, but when her family gets on her case about the trouble it's causing, Alisa decides to get her one man with riches to take care of her, thus Omar. Omar has his own issues trying to stop hustling drugs and going back to being the Muslim he grew up as without the street troubles, but when he and Alisa come together, it's like clash of the titans and he loses his focus. Then, Hell erupts in, "Life Knows No Bounds: One Who Loves You More."

BPM: Introduce us to your main characters in One Who Loves You More
Alisa is the main character and she is a hand full. She's not too long out of high school and acting a fool. She thinks she's grown but has much the behavior of a young minded girl in a woman's body. She shares her mind set with you but this doesn't make her inviting. She is who she is, young and dumb. But, you couldn't tell her that because she is head strong in what she feels, but is always contradicting herself with her behavior and her tongue lashes that cut like a knife. She doesn't want to face that she loves Omar because in her mind, she's still a gold digger; no strings attached and still tries to wear this title like a tiara.

BPM: What makes you powerful as a person and a writer? Who are your mentors?
I would say as a person, Islam humbles me and any power I feel should probably be interpreted as blessed. As a writer, my professors back at college who helped me to think of the type of writer I wanted to be and if I wanted to be put in a little box or write creatively in many genres, they are my mentors. A good professor shows you paths and gives you one to grow on; they should mentor. My mentors are my professors I listed in my book and people I barely met like Whoopi Goldberg who graduated from Montclair State University with her masters when I graduation with my BFA. The words she spoke reminded me of the obstacles to come and helped me to set my mind straight to continue full steam ahead and not listen to naysayers, and as she emphasized, "Know that they are coming."

BPM: What specific situation or revelation prompted you to write your book?
There were too many young girls out there using men for money. Like the main character, they use men so much it's almost a form of prostitution, but they don't see it that way as they may never have sex with these men, just use them for what they can get from them.

BPM: Take us inside the book. What are two major events taking place? 
I would like to say, when Alisa and Omar decide there is definitely something there, and speak to each other with their eyes just after he gave her his leather trench; and a cross between when he addresses her about another guy and/or when they have it out at her house. I say that part because it reminds me of so many relationships where we allow our emotions to make us stubborn and hide how we really feel, and we end up not giving in to our mate and are left sad and alone.

BPM: What are some of their specific issues, needs or problems addressed in this book?
I guess using men for money is a quick resolve to being poor or getting the things they want. With sex so free - for - all these days, some of them look at it like a quick harmless gain if they do partake in sex for money. But majority in this new game they play are not having sex with these men they make their mark. They instead make the man think they're his woman, and then get that money, jewelry, credit cards, etc. And it's dangerous because these men REALLY think these girls are their woman, their mate. 

To top it all off, the girls have rules also. Three, four or six months tops. Then, they find some ill excuse to drop them and get a new sucker. Because there was no sex involved, meaning he waited on her, a lot of the men take it personal and feel played and some have been known to be dangerous.

BPM: What do you think makes your book different from others on the same subject?
I don't know; I think I might, might help the reader experience the characters instead of just reading about them and saying, "Oh, that Omar is something else" or "Alisa is a trip."   Because Alisa has a lot of crap with her; she's no walk in the park. But the readers will experience her and what she's going through even when they don't agree with her or understand fully what the heck she's doing or her motives. Omar, you can't help but love him, and I did that on purpose. He's much like my brother, he and Man-Man in the sense that they are lovable people, but out there doing wrong, and you hope they get it together before it's too late. For my brother, it was too late; let's see how it goes with Omar or Man-Man. 

But you don't just read this; you feel this in your chest at times. I've had some tell me as they read the chapters, they went through so many emotions from chapter to chapter and sometimes from page to page. That's the Realism genre. Real stuff making you feel mad, glad, happy or sad for the characters. Naturalism stems from Realism and Naturalism, which is the basis of the book, shows the character's self-preservation/greed drive, hustling and their desires via their attraction to one another throughout. 

And, the reader feels it, gets goose bumps or chills, and is excited to move on in the book hoping Alisa get's hers, hoping Omar get's a grip. But it's all thru the emotional aspects of the novel, not just the words on the page. I believe it's heart felt and how I arrived there, or so I've been told, was, I wrote it with the flow of a soap opera in my head. I took myself through all of that drama just to appease my readers.

BPM: Share with us your latest news, awards or upcoming book releases. 
We're about to launch our newspaper again, this will help us to contribute to supporting the hard working authors, artist, actors, and so on, as well as keep our community up on the news around the world. I think the reward right now is to be exposed to so many opportunities. I think I'll be even more rewarded when I began speaking engagements, speaking to the youth and young girls and women about this new trend. 

Upcoming releases: There's the second book in the "Life Knows No Bounds" chronicle titled, "A Blessing and A Curse," then there is a non fiction book on Writing. So many students in high school and college are having a hard time writing properly; scoring low on SAT's and essays and research papers in school. So, I want to shed light on that. I have a writing component I used with my students and they still email me today saying Thank You because it helped them with their college writing. Those books will be forthcoming in the Spring season 2011. 

BPM: How can our readers reach you online, Andrea? 
The readers can connect with me in various ways. My website is the best way to find out more information, but I will list several modes.


Conversations in the Dark by author Skyy Banks 

The Deep Secret of Sexual Abuse in the Black Community

It’s nothing that we sit around the dinner table and talk about. It’s not a discussion at family gatherings. In fact, sexual abuse, in its rawest form, has become taboo in the realms of the African American culture. Yet, it is rocking our community to the core of our very existence. This imbalance, hurls us into a pit of endless cycles- the cycles of broken marriages, unhealthy relationships, and isolation. 

Guilt, shame and hopelessness are all emotions associated with the trauma of child sexual abuse. The act of abuse, whether covert or overt, scars the victim. Essentially, every facet of the victim’s life has been damaged; however the affects are sometimes not evident until years later. 

Affecting millions of people every year, sexual violence is a serious issue. Available data underestimate the problem due in part to how it is defined and how the data is collected. More than 70% of sexual assault cases are not reported to police and many more are not disclosed at all. 

Sexual abuse crosses all boundaries; it is no respecter of race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. Yet, studies show that abuse is more common among children in lower-income families. It appears that in these cases, abuse is more likely to be reported because this group tends to be in contact with public agencies more than others.

The childhood wounds of abuse often lead to lifelong mental and physical problems. For example, many psychologists believe that the inability to form healthy adult relationships is a direct result of being abused/traumatized in a child’s formative years. Most of this trauma results from being hurt by other people, including family members. Black Americans report being more severely abused in terms of sex acts, as well as the amount of force used to commit such acts. They also report being more often abused by uncles and stepfathers. As a result these victims have a difficult time developing trust. They often grow up expecting that others will violate them. 

On the other side, many women trust to easily, having a hard time judging who is safe. Remember, they too have been betrayed by their family members they loved. For all intents and purposes, this has given them a false security of just handing over trust instead of requiring it to be earned or deserved. Because they have not had the opportunity to develop trustworthy relationships, women don’t know how to recognize trustworthy individuals.

A woman’s sexuality can also be affected as a result of childhood sexual abuse.  Sex is confused with love or getting care because the abuser gave her attention and affection through sexual contact. Such attention can open up a woman to unwanted or forced sex.  Childhood sexual abuse can also frighten women and cause them to develop negative feelings about sex.  When a woman becomes sexual as an adult, she often has flashbacks of abuse and will altogether avoid sex or intimacy to avoid the negative feelings and memories associated with the childhood trauma.

Studies have shown that childhood sexual abuse is typically an inter-generational occurrence. Mothers of abused children are significantly more likely to have been sexual abuse victims themselves. To tackle the crisis, we have to empower parents and children to understand the severity of its ramifications; the ramifications of not being able to thrive in healthy adult relationships both sexually and emotionally. 

The safety of our children begins with parents. Parents must teach children to have authority over their body and be aware of not necessarily people but particular circumstances. Let them know that they have the right to say “no” to whomever. If it does not feel right, sound right, or look right seek help. Self empowerment comes from self love and respect which leads to prevention.

For more information and help on talking to your children visit:
Stop It Now!:  

About the Author
Soul on Fire,  Skyy Banks premier novel, is an exploration of the torment of abuse and the consequences of self-hatred and self-destructive behavior, and it sheds light on why so many women sabotage relationships and friendships that mean so much. 

Before Soul on Fire, Banks shared her work with the world through freelance writings. She is a native of Arkansas who now calls Atlanta, GA her home. Banks enjoys reading, writing, and traveling. Banks uses her writing as a platform to encourage her readers to explore taboo subjects and engage in dialogue to find solutions. She is a self-motivated woman and knows the world is waiting for her greatness. Website:  

Purchase Soul on Fire by Skyy Banks at Amazon
ISBN-10: 0981532659    |    ISBN-13: 978-0981532653 

Intimate Conversation with Arlene R. Crenshaw

BPM: Please tell us a little bit about yourself, Arlene.
I’m a 48 yr. old woman with one son and two grandchildren. I raised my son on my own. We struggled many of days but we made it. I am blessed in many ways and I'm so grateful. I lost my job about a year ago for something that was not my fault. It was difficult trying to find work after working for so many years. I prayed everyday for God to help me find something in this world that I would enjoy doing, and in a dream a voice came upon me (God) and said to me. “You are here for a purpose and it is to write and inspire people.” Something I’ve done all of my life…inspire people. Who would thought that I would be writing novels today, you see dreams do come true if you believe. 

BPM: Tell us about your latest release, Twelve Roses For Uretta
The Book is called “Twelve Roses for Uretta” This is a true story of a mother’s struggle with domestic violence, while trying to raise her eight children. This story is told through the eyes of Uretta's daughter (Erica) who carried the burden of not being able to help her mother because she was just too young, plus Erica's own secret she was never able to tell her mother’ before her mother's untimely death.

BPM: What specific situation prompted you to write your book? 
My story is a true story and after the death of my mother, life was never the same for me again. For years I suffered with depression and anxiety because of my past. Finally one day I decided it was time to take control of my life and by doing that it prompted me to write my book  “Twelve Roses For Uretta.” 

The book tells of the domestic abuse my mother endured from her husbands, and the secret her daughter Erica never got to tell her before her untimely death. The more I wrote my story the more I began to feel better about life. I started to notice that all the pain that was embedded within me and even the things in my life I blocked out, was now coming out and I felt renewed, then a sense of healing within. After all the adversity I had been through in my life, I was now starting to live my life, and know I live my life beyond adversity.

BPM: Who do you want to reach with Twelve Roses For Uretta and the message within? 
My book also brings about awareness to a problem that exists sometimes right under our noses, and many just ignore it sometimes to the point that it’s to late to recover. There are a lot of people that would like to ignore that domestic violence is present in their lives or a loved ones. I grew up around it, I’ve met many women who have gone through it and I know many who still do endure domestic violence everyday. My message is that love shouldn’t hurt, anyone who loves you wouldn’t do anything to damage you in anyway whether it’s mental or physically. Love shouldn’t hurt.

BPM: How will reading your book, Twelve Roses For Uretta, shape the readers lives? 
I hope by reading my story that it helps someone to think twice about being in a relationship that involves domestic violence and my greatest hope is that an abuser reads this novel and changes his or her ways…because you know that an abuser does not always have to be male. Love shouldn’t hurt.

BPM: What are some of their specific issues or problems addressed in this book? 
Two specific issues are “warning signs” most abusers love to be in “control” and they’ll work day and night on your “self-esteem” trying to destroy what ever fight or little fight you have to stand up for yourself, and break you down to your lowest point. Do not allow anyone to take your power. 

BPM: Share with us your latest news or upcoming book releases. 
I have a new book coming out July 2010, called “Hidden Closets” a book of fictional short stories. The stories will hit close to home for many!  This book journeys into the minds of people with jaw dropping hidden secrets. They never want people to know about their REAL side, for fearing of being exposed to their real truths. Visit my website for excerpts and other news.

BPM: How can our readers reach you online?
Readers can reach me at,  arlene crenshaw@facebook, and my website is   I also post a daily quote on Facebook and Blogger I call it “My quote of the day” which I share everyday.  I try my best to inspire people to believe in themselves and to let no obstacle stand in their way, no matter how difficult life or challenges in life may seem.

Excerpt from Twelve Roses For Uretta by Arlene R. Crenshaw

For as long as I can remember, I witnessed the men in my momma’s life abuse her mentally and physically, these were men she swore to love, honor, and obey till death do them part. I was the third to the oldest of my momma’s eight children, and I started noticing the abuse on my momma when I was around four or five years old. I remember hearing her screaming from being beat up and this “boom booming,” sound as if something or someone was hitting walls or even being thrown or slammed into them, my name is Erica and this story is through my eyes. This is a true story about my momma and me together; and the years I grew up with her.  Why, did my momma have to cry and suffer so much in the name of love?

Growing up in my momma’s home was very uncomfortable, scary and traumatizing these uncomfortable feeling stayed with me day after day, year after year; these feelings were embedded deep in my mind, body and soul for a long as I could remember, not that I haven’t had my own issues to back me up, but growing up with my momma my, sisters, and brothers there were a lot of very painful times and so many memories that I’ll never forget. The things I heard, felt and saw started my life out as just plain old misery, sadness and traumatizing to my soul.

Pick up your copies of Twelve Roses For Uretta today!

ISBN-10: 0557309204 | ISBN-13: 978-0557309207 

Twelve Roses For Uretta can be found at Amazon 
Twelve Roses For Uretta can be found at Lulu

Twelve Roses For Uretta can be found at my website  and  

Connecting to Your Vocation: How to Get More from a Job
By Dr. Daryl D. Green

Do you enjoy your job? If you feel under-utilized in your organization, you are not alone. 
On a routine basis, many employees force themselves to work without a clear purpose. Numerous people work to maintain their daily bread without ever doing what they love. Sadly, many managers are unable to inspire today’s workforce toward greater performance. 

Manager guru Peter Drucker argued for several decades that managers must understand their employees as well as their customers. Few executives listened. Drucker concluded, “Business tends to drift from leadership to mediocrity. And the mediocre is three-quarters down the road to being marginal.” Yet, emerging leaders need to know how to rekindle such emotions in the workplace. This article will discuss how one’s calling can transform an individual’s life in order to improve organizational performance. 

The Vocation 
Becoming more productive in life is a function of working in a career that is aligned with one’s abilities. Unfortunately, many organizations fail to understand this simple principle. As a consequence, they have people in jobs that do not fit their abilities. Yes, the organization knows the individual’s education and career experience. However, managers are unable to understand the worker’s ability without input from that worker. There is a distinct difference between an occupation and a vocation. An occupation relates to the principal activity in an individual’s life that earns money for living. 

Some people, due to their own financial situation, are forced to work in jobs they hate. Others must occupy jobs where they are overqualified; this speaks to the issue of underemployment in our nation. Yet, many folks are slaves to their jobs simply because of the income. This situation can lead to stress, depression, and unhappiness. In fact, some people take desperate measures. According to one study, more than 30,000 Americans take their lives annually. In fact, this works out to more than three suicides for every two murders. 

A vocation is a natural alignment with one’s ability. Vocation relates to a career which a person is particularly suited or qualified to perform. Some individuals credit this special alignment to a divine provocation. In the medieval Christian period, it was believed that God called certain people and their work was a "calling." This calling was usually reserved for the clergy and priest. In the secular sense, individuals who can fully use all of their talents in a way that liberates them can make great contributions in society.

However, it does invoke a different mental journey. Marsha Sinetar, author of Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow, argues that individuals rarely take the time for introspection: “Most of us think about our jobs or our careers as a means to fulfill responsibilities to families and creditors, to gain more material comforts, and to achieve status and recognition. But we pay a high price for this kind of thinking.” This mental awakening is happening across the nation. Thus, some people are able to tap into their own calling. 

Therefore, it is important that individuals take the time to learn what they enjoy and what they are good at. This reality will lead them to their special calling. In fact, one has a calling when he or she realizes what can be done with his or her God-given abilities. Once this career revelation is realized, an individual can then take the journey toward greater happiness and job performance.

As society pushes people to acquire more things in order to be happy, individuals can become unhappy with life. Many black professionals struggle to connect on their jobs. Therefore, it’s important that individuals take a personal assessment of their own career objectives in conjunction with their own calling. Furthermore, organizations that understand how to tap into an employee’s calling will have a competitive advantage because they will maximize the talents of their workforce. In the future, there will be a global war for talent. Discover your innate calling and propel yourself into a better future. 

© 2010 by Daryl D. Green

About the Columnist:
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  

Women Power in Today’s Organizations
by Dr. Daryl Green

America has continued to learn how to deal with strong women during the great demographic shift in history. Corporate America celebrates media moguls like Oprah Winfrey. According to Fortune Magazine, 15 Fortune 500 companies are run by women. In fact, women of color are showing others how to break traditional barriers. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice transformed how powerful women can lead major government sectors. In fact, there is a long list of successful women in all types of institutions. 

Yet, the road to success for most black women isn’t easy. Many women’s dreams of a successful career have come to reality. Strangely enough, some women have been trying to have it all. This marks the clash. There are women who focus on the primary care of their families while delaying their personal dreams. Others dedicate their lives to their careers while compromising the stability of their families. In the middle, there are millions of mothers who attempt to do it all out of necessity and attempt to chase the great American Dream. This article focuses on the issues facing professional women and provides solutions. Several professional women were interviewed. However, their real names are not disclosed, to protect them since they work in small industries.

The Problem
According to the 2005 Census Report, there are 82.5 million mothers in the United States, 
and there are 10 million single mothers living with children under 18 years old. Working moms make up 55 percent of mothers with infants. Feminists celebrate the liberation of working women while traditionalists postulate the merits of home-bound mothers for institutional stability. In fact, some people blame the moral decay of the country on mothers abandoning their families for professional careers. Many women try to maintain a healthy balance of work and family life, but this balancing act leaves some of them “burnt out.” Therefore, there is a growing problem for women in particular and society in general in understanding consequences of women’s power in the near future.

The Trend
Women stand at the fore front of disruptive change in the political, social, economic, and technological sectors of most counties. Dr. James Canton’s The Extreme Future notes “Women will comprise a high percentage of new workers and leaders, forever changing the politics of boardrooms and markets.” According to a US Census report, nearly one-third of all married women in the US make more than their husbands. More than 25% of working wives earned more their husbands in 2007 (up from 20% in 1983). Furthermore, women are earning college degrees at a faster pace than men. Between 2000 and 2001, women earned 57% of all undergraduate degrees. 

Woman power is also being flexed in the corporate world. In 1983, women held 34% of all US executive and managerial positions. However, women held more than 50% of these positions in 2003. Futurist John Cashmen predicts women will forever change the landscape of all institutions: “The number of women in the primary breadwinner role will likely grow in coming decades, driven by social change and the fact that women’s educational achievement is outpacing men’s in many parts of the world.” Therefore, executives must consider how the changing roles of women in organizations will impact their corporate strategies.

The Career Strategy
Progressive women need to develop critical career strategies in a holistic fashion. Balancing work and family is difficult. In general, some men are already taking this transition personally. Some men are opting for the domestic life while their wives become the principal breadwinners. Therefore, society watches gender role reversals and wonder how it will end…relational success or failure? 

For working women, any results are often problematic anyway. Yenissee Alonso and Vickie Brint, authors of the article Women in the Workplace, argue that women still deal with institutional barriers that keep them from being successful. For example, women in general are making less than their counterparts doing the same job with the same experience. 

Alonso and Brint note, “Since nearly half of the workforce is comprised of women, it stands to reason that woman should be enjoying the same success as their male counterparts in terms of advancement opportunities and earning capacity.” Princeton researchers in a 2003 study concluded that college-educated women who hold higher expectations for their potential mate may lower their chances for getting married. In fact, some men may be uncomfortable with having a woman who has more education and makes more than them, postulate some theorists.

Sue Means is a professional engineer in a highly competitive consulting industry. She sees challenges for professional women. She notes that men are treated differently. Means explains, “Some of my colleagues talk about how pretty I am. They comment on my clothes and make suggestions regarding what I should wear. That would not happen to a man.” 

Liza Fuller is a government program manager with a decade of experience in handling difficult environmental issues. She exists in a mostly male dominated industry. Fuller notes, “Women are still expected to work harder than men to prove themselves and avoid criticism. Attractive women still get grief about being promoted for reasons other than their own merit and it’s not fair.”

Furthermore, Canton suggests that the most educated, skilled, and experienced employees will be in high demand. Therefore, professional women need better strategies. Means recommends prioritizing what’s important: “I let go what’s not important. Most women get overwhelmed with trying to manage all of the household and family responsibilities while working at the same time. You need to be realistic about what you can do. It’s a balancing act.” Some women feel that they can have it all without any drop off. Fuller disagrees: “There is always a sacrifice because you spend more time away from your family.” Although there will be an ever increasing number of opportunities for women in the workplace, women must analyze every career move in a holistic fashion if they want to keep that delicate balance. 

The future is bright for working women as never before. In fact, women will drive most institutions toward major changes in the near term. However, this article demonstrated that the road to success for most professional women isn’t easy. They must deal with sexism to a certain degree. However, the demands of their professional life have not kept up with the heavy demands of a family and personal life. Therefore, women must develop career strategies in a holistic manner that maximizes their efforts. Black women continue to excel against tremendous obstacles. In turn, society must learn how to embrace women’s power in the future if America hopes to continue to compete. 

© 2010 by Daryl D. Green

Dr. Daryl D. Green writes on contemporary issues impacting individuals, businesses, and society across the globe. With over 18 years of management experience, Dr. Green’s expertise has been noted and quoted by USA Today, Ebony Magazine, and Associated Press. For more information, you can go to  or 

Intimate Conversation with Connie May Fowler

New York Times bestselling writer Connie May Fowler is an essayist, screenwriter, and novelist. She is the author of five novels, most recently The Problem with Murmur Lee, and a memoir, When Katie Wakes. In 1996, she published Before Women Had Wings, which became a paperback bestseller and was made into a successful Oprah Winfrey Presents movie. She founded the Connie May Fowler Women With Wings Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to aiding women and children in need. Connie lives in Florida.

Ella: What specific situation or revelation prompted you to write your new book, How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly?
I was reading up on pre-Civil war Florida history and discovered that when Florida was a Spanish territory, women could be property owners and slavery was outlawed. But Spain and the United States signed an agreement that would change all of that. The Florida Purchase Treaty of 1819 guaranteed that the United States would lay claim to Florida in 1821. With a stroke of a pen and strike of a clock, suddenly all women and blacks would have their rights stripped away. That haunted me and I walked around with that kernel in my head for a few years before I sat down to write the novel, which takes place in 2006 but is populated with ghosts. 

Ella: Take us inside the book. What are two major events taking place?
The book tracks a day in the life of Clarissa Burden, a woman who wakes on the Summer Solstice with the knowledge that her life must change because she is wracked with spousal death scenarios and writer’s block. Concurrent with her story is that of Olga Villada. Villada and her family are ghosts, their souls unable to move on from the place where they were brutally murdered. Their stories converge, resulting in a startling and life-changing chain of events.

Ella: Who do you want to reach with your book, How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly, and the message within?
I think this book will have a broad appeal. The book, at its core, is about freedom—individual and universal—and it’s wrapped up in a story that is both comedic and dramatic. I think readers of many ages and races will identify with the struggles of Clarissa Burden and Olga Villada.

Ella: How will reading your book shape the readers lives?
One, I hope it will make readers laugh even amid a few tears. But if there is one message I want readers to gain, it’s that how easy it is for the course of history—the course of one person’s individual day—to go suddenly very, very wrong. There are bad people in this world—sometimes bad people have all the trappings of kindness—and they are capable of terrible things. So we have to be vigilant for ourselves and for one another. Casual prejudices and ordinary meanness can, in the blink of an eye, become lethal. So we have to learn to be pro-actively kind and relentless protective of our rights.

Ella: What are some of their specific issues, needs or problems addressed in this book?
Women’s issues, race, personal empowerment, marital relations, Florida history.

Ella: What was the most powerful chapter in, How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly?
I think that once Clarissa decides—in a fit of rage—to kill her husband, this book takes a major turn and all the chapters that follow are highly entertaining, shocking, and ultimately satisfying.

Ella: Share with us your latest news, awards or upcoming book releases.
I recently wrote a story for Slate’s online women’s site DoubleX about how the Haitian earthquake has severely impacted their women’s movement. How Clarissa Burden Learns to Fly will be in stores April 2, 2010.

Ella: How can our readers reach you online? Share with us your online contact info.
My website is  I blog at Readers can also follow me on Twitter and friend me on Facebook, where I’m very active.  There is also a Facebook fan page for How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly.  In March, in honor of Clarissa and those pesky spousal death scenarios that haunt her, I am launching the Clarissa Burden Postcard Project in which I will be asking readers to anonymously send me one secret they cannot tell their spouse or partner.  The secrets can be silly or serious, and will be posted on my website.

Purchase How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly today 
ISBN-10: 0446540684 | ISBN-13: 978-0446540681

Intimate Conversation with Thembisa S. Mshaka

Thembisa S. Mshaka is a 5-time Telly Award winner and 17-year entertainment industry veteran whose career spans the areas of touring, management, magazine publishing, recorded music and technology, advertising, music supervision for film, voice over, and television. As Senior Copywriter at Sony Music, her campaigns contributed to the sale of more than 150 million albums for Lauryn Hill, Will Smith, Beyonce’, NaS, Maxwell and others. Her byline has appeared in,, and She contributed to the anthologies Sometimes Rhythm: Sometimes Blues edited by Taigi Smith and Icons of Hip-Hop, edited by Mickey Hess.

BPM: What makes you powerful as a person and a writer? 

First and foremost my relationship with the Creator fortifies me and helps me to remember what’s really important. I also have to mention my connection to my African-American heritage; the strength and support of my family; my education at single-sex institutions from middle school through undergraduate. Women’s education gave me a strong, healthy sense of identity. I also learned how to summon my personal power and sharpen my communication through the Landmark Education curriculum, which I completed in 2003.

BPM: Who are your mentors? 
My mentors are my late mother, Fulani Mshaka, to whom I dedicated my book, author Terrie M. Williams, who taught me the value of the personal touch in business, and music executive turned film producer Lisa Cortes, whose path greatly inspires mine. 

BPM: Finish this sentence- My writing offers the following legacy to future readers...
My writing offers the following legacy to future readers by thrusting the voices of women who work in entertainment into the literary cannon. Put Your Dreams First provides mentorship from over 90 women so readers won’t have to compromise their bodies or values to be successful in entertainment. Writing this book crystallized the importance of legacy building for me.

BPM: Introduce us to the primary message in your book, Put Your Dreams First. 
That while men dominate the entertainment world, women drive it—and their business insights can help all readers become successful while keeping their integrity intact. The key is to Put Your Dreams First, hence the title. This highly informative guide is for every woman wanting to know how to navigate the entertainment superhighway and find that job of a lifetime. 

BPM: Share with us 2 or 3 life enhancing sections from Put Your Dreams First: Handle Your [entertainment] Business.

The Work-Life Balance Myth

Yeah, I said it. Balancing work and family is a myth. While PDAs and laptops allow us to seem like we’re in many places at once, in the physical realm, we have yet to clone ourselves. Until that day, we’re left with the choice to make our passion for work and our love for our spouses, partners, children and families work. As a wife of almost twelve years who was seen many an industry couple implode, and as a mother of a young son who has been the ear and shoulder for countless single parents, I am clear that “balance” in this scenario is non-applicable. Once I figured this out, I became a much more successful wife. My choice to make a family and personal life work looked like me giving up my 90+ hour a week job for one where I could actually leave the office at 6 o’clock without my boss looking at me sideways. 

Thankfully you don’t have to be a home maker in the 21st century, but if you want to nurture a committed relationship and raise children you do need to be home. And while I was working at Gavin, I was barely ever home. I was either in the office or out at clubs, radio stations, retail outlets, concerts. My professional life was my personal life. I was always in work mode. Ironically when I got to New York I was pulling down fewer hours a week. Outside of preparing for campaign presentations and shoots, my weekends belonged to me. Being home at 6:30 pm means being home for dinner instead of dinner meetings with a promotion rep. It allows for a date with my husband on weekend evenings when I might otherwise be networking at an industry event. 

Now that my son is here, my weekends are split between him and me, since my husband’s the one working weekends in real estate. I am much happier running him from sports camp at Chelsea Piers to play dates and parties than I was making appearances at every event just to stay ahead of what and whoever was the next big thing. I still go out, but I am much more selective because my work as a tastemaker has grown and shifted. I’m not part of the underground anymore. I helped take it mainstream, so that’s where I reside now. As a creative I get my creative food from multiple sources: museums, theater, gardens, travel, community events, all things that don’t have to mean leaving the family to engage in them.

Yvette Noel-Schure has made her work and home life work for over 25 years, but not without the real-world sacrifice of her husband and both their families to make sure her three children didn’t miss out on their mother. This harmony we seek between work life and home life requires an orchestra of support from the Village of which the African proverb speaks. Yvette describes how her family has gathered around her before her career took off, starting with “three people with one name, my husband, my husband, my husband. He doesn’t have the hang-ups many have about roles. I got married my first year of college and had my son my second year. I would go to school four days and be home twice a week as often as I could. My husband ran an ice cream parlor in the Village at night. We crossed each other a lot on the stairs. As my career changed, we asked a family member to help with the younger children. 

After September 11th we vowed to change our lives and opted not to chase two incomes. My husband works from home and I am out ‘galavantin’ as my grandmother says,” she laughs. “I have the most unconventional job in the family and I have missed a lot, but not when it comes to the kids. When there’s a boo-boo to blow, I blow it. I don’t miss recitals or meets. I am on the 5:30 bus so I can be at dinner by 7:00 if it kills me! The girls of Destiny’s Child would tease me because I was always going home right after a job; the first time I went to an after-party, I was in London and couldn’t go home. The paycheck is not for me, it’s for the family.”

Nzingha has a wake-up call for us women who aren’t keeping track of the time as we climb the career ladder. “All the stuff you want to do—get married, have kids, guess what? The higher you go the more it ain’t hapnin’. The fight gets harder, and you’re fighting to keep your very life. I want to share a quote for those who don’t know what they’re getting into or how deep the rabbit hole goes,” Nzingha says. “It’s from All About Eve where Margo Channing is talking to her girlfriend Karen about climbing up the ladder.” Here is Margo’s sage wisdom as written in the 1950 classic by John Mankiewicz: 

“The things you drop on your way up
the ladder, so you can move faster.

You forget you'll need them again
when you go back to being a woman.

That's one career all females have
in common - whether we like it or
not - being a woman.

Sooner or later we've all got to
work at it, no matter what other
careers we've had or wanted... and,
in the last analysis, nothing is
any good unless you can look up
just before dinner or turn around
in bed - and there he is. 

Without that, you're not woman.”

As long the myth of balance is playing in your head, you’ll be looking for everything to balance out. The truth of the matter is creating a relationship and making the time to be in one is up to you, not the circumstances of life. You have to put the brakes on to be available for your partner. Sure that person’s going to feel insecure and intimidated if you’re hardly there, because they barely know you. Relationships have to have time invested in the same way careers do. 

If the only muscle your flexin’ is your career muscle, your relationship muscles will weaken and atrophy to the point where you forget how to even be in a relationship. That’s how so many of us end up married to our careers, pushin’ 40 or more, lonely as hell, with all our self-esteem and identity intertwined with what we do to the point that when we lose the job, we lose ourselves. “I’ve gone to a lot of panels that are allegedly about balancing career and family,” Stephanie chuckles. “What I actually end up hearing is a lot of people having one or the other. You may have a very successful single mom because the husband couldn’t stick around, couldn’t go a long with her drive. I think women can have both, but at different times. You have to choose which one you want.” Stephanie chose family and in her case, even after demonstrating her commitment, her spouse could not support her line of work. “I haven’t had any children. I wish I had; I had a husband but he didn’t stick around because it wasn’t so much that I chose a career, it was the career I chose. He was very intimidated by it.” 

The pain we endure as we endeavor to make it all work is very real. In Stephanie’s case, her marriage was crippling her career instead of supporting it as was the case with Yvette. But her failure at the relationship itself almost took her under. Stephanie’s divorce was devastating to her. In the darkness of its aftermath, she learned how strong she really was. “I went through an emotional breakdown directly related to going through a divorce,” she reflects. “and right before I got laid off at the PR firm where I worked. 

Even though that was like a blessing because I didn’t want to work there anymore, I figured I was out of a job and the whole marriage was collapsing…it was a very traumatic time. I found myself waking up laying in the middle of the floor crying every day. Eventually I crawled out of bed one day and ended up seeing someone at a mental health clinic in Hollywood. They gave me medication, told me how to take it, and said I’d start to get relief in a month. I was like, ‘a month?! With the anxiety and pain I was feeling, if I had to endure another four weeks I would not be around for the medication to take effect. I put those meds in my closet and never took them. I knew then I had to draw on strength from God. I had one friend who stepped me through all this, but I didn’t turn to a lot of individuals. I turned to the power of prayer. I started to call my energy back and transform it. It was very spiritual, intense, very conscious and targeted. Once I changed the way I was thinking about my life, my whole life changed.”

Stephanie’s testimony is an offering to anyone starting out in the business. the lesson she learned in the middle of her career is one you can implement at the start of yours. Commit to making yourself work, however that looks for you. Be it through religious or spiritual practice, self-improvement, wellness, mediation, yoga, the list goes on. The more centered you are the better prepared you will be for the inevitable curveballs your journey in this game will be. 

BPM: What led you to create Put Your Dreams First now? 
After being in the industry for 18 years, I’ve seen too many women play themselves to ‘get put on’. Instead of complaining about it or judging them, I wanted to educate them. I also wanted to shine a light on the women who go about being successful without being golddiggers, video vixens, or strippers. We are much more than those sexualized archetypes. I also wanted men to read about the business from women’s points of view so they understand the impact of their biases in their relationships with women, platonic or not.

BPM: What issues in today's society do you address in Put Your Dreams First
Wow. The women in this book cover it all: navigating the workplace, pay inequity and its impact, choices made between work and personal life. I specifically address the full career timeline, from getting the business to thriving in it and then, exiting if you so choose. I also give straight-up tips on how to exit a job powerfully called The 10 Severance Commandments.

BPM: Before we end the interview, define SUCCESS. What part does GRATITUDE play in achieving success, in your opinion? 
A huge part. Gratitude means you understand that your success is bigger than you; it happens because of the strength and support you receive from a higher power, one’s mentors, family and friends. The ungrateful person is rarely in the moment. They are usually upset about something or wrapped up in themselves; what they feel people owe them. Ingrates may experience success, but it is not nearly as fulfilling or long-lasting. 

BPM: How can our readers reach you online?
My blog covers women, business, and entertainment:  The site for the book is  I am on Twitter at  I am also on Facebook and BlackPlanet under Thembisa Mshaka. Thanks for the interview and thanks to all the readers for reaching out and supporting my work.

Thembisa S. Mshaka 
To Read My Blog, visit  

Purchase your copy today at Amazon


Intimate Conversation with Vonda Howard

Mom of two, wife of 14 years, graphic designer, author and a dreamer. I make it a point to only do things that I am passionate about and only deal with positive people. I grew up in Southeast DC and have been writing since I was 10 years old. It has always been my dream to see my words in print, and this is a dream come true for me. I love writing stories that are filled with passion, intrigue, and compelling story lines. If it doesn’t feel good to me when I’m writing it...I won’t write it. I love books that grab you, pull you in and hold you. I love story lines that keep you guessing too.

I wrote my first self-published novel named “Diamond Lives, Platinum Lies” in 2007 which has received shining reviews. my second book, “It’s Always the Pretty Ones” was released in 2008 and has received glowing reviews as well. In June 2009, my dream came true when I signed on to Anexander Books. 

BPM: How much of what you write reflects on your outlook on life?
It depends. I always feel like characters are like your kids. They all carry a bit of you in them when they are created. I agree sometimes I let a little of my views on certain things leak out through my characters, but only when it is relevant to the story. 

BPM: Who are your mentors? Where do you find your inspiration?
I would say my mentor is my publisher Torrian Ferguson. (The best publisher in the world, by the way). He has really taken me under his wing and let’s me dig around in his head whenever I need to. He is fair and honest...all the things I want to be as a writer and business woman. I find my inspiration in everyday things; music, nature, my favorite movies, my friends and family. I truly believe that the best fiction comes from real life!

BPM: What do you think of the increasingly fortuitous sex in African American literature? 
I don’t mind the sex IF it add to or is relevant to the story. I personally am not a fan of the really XXX-rated scenes and the really harsh language, but I don’t knock anyone’s hustle. If it’s not your thing, just don’t buy it. ;o)

I love writing sex scenes that are erotic and steamy, but also fit in line with what the characters are involved in or going through in the story. I don’t think just throwing sex all over the book is good for the storyline or the readers. Just like in real life, it should mean something.

BPM: Introduce us to your main characters in The D-Cup Divas
The book series (The D-Cup Divas) spotlights the lives of four confident, successful plus size women:

Chandra, he sassy, take no prisoners, very well to-do psychiatrist that has a hard time letting her iron clad guard down in the area of love. Rossalyn, Chandra’s little sister, who is the mediator of the group. She tends to want everyone to get along and tries to see the good I any and everybody. 

Lanora, the oldest of the group, but the most active. She is a total sex kitten that loves it anyway and anywhere she can get it. Samantha, the domestic goddess. She loves her family and her husband. An avid church-goer and “goody-two-shoes” as Lanora calls her. She loves everything in its place and is a huge perfectionist.

Who are your favorites? Are your characters from the portrayal of real people?
I would say Lanora is my favorite. Even though I am just getting started on her book it has been so much fun writing her in the first two! She is an open book, and a bit of a trouble maker. She always has a smart comeback for anything. I would say parts of her do remind me of someone in my life. (I won’t call her out though...LOL)

BPM: What role do you give the " mean-spirited" characters? Do you have such characters?
The books do have antagonists. I always write the bad guys to be wake up experiences for the main characters. Just like in our real lives, sometimes we overlook or miss certain things in people we should notice. Also sometimes we want something so badly, we ignore the warnings or open ourselves up for heartaches. I want my “bad guys” to have a purpose in the main characters lives. Whether it be something they ignored by being selfish or negligent, or whether they bought it on themselves. 

BPM: What specific situation or revelation prompted you to write your book?
I wanted to write a book(s), that highlighted plus size or curvy woman the way MOST of us feel! We are not low down, on drugs, miserable, on welfare or depressed. Like me, they are all beautiful, confident and successful women! The books do not condone unhealthy living. None of my characters are huddled over cheesecake or inactive. The purpose was to spotlight the girls that will never be a size 2, 6, 9 or ever a 12 or 14. They are about seeing these women and realizing that, “hey, I’m beautiful and sexy too!”

BPM: What are some of their specific issues, needs or problems addressed in this book?
I would say in the current book, it deal with the issue of women who get all the accolades and success they want, but then turn around and say that, “They don’t need a man” or “A man can’t do anything for me that I can’t do for myself.” A lot of times we can get so hard on the outside and full of ourselves that we miss the good men you are looking for. 

BPM: Share with us your latest news, awards or upcoming book releases. 
Well, aside from the huge popularity of the D-Cup Divas Series (in which all the books are set to come out concurrently), I also have The very first D-Cup Divas Dialogues coming in October of this year! It will be a showcase talent that just oozes love for the plus size figure. There will be monologues from each of the characters in the series, spoken word, poetry and short story readings. It is going to be a huge event! You can get more info about the casting calls and the event itself at . I will also be writing more books that feature plus sized heroines in upcoming books under the D-Cup Divas™ line. 

BPM:  How can our readers reach you online? 
I can be reached at my website:  or  You can also get in touch with me on Facebook (VondaHoward). 

Intimate Conversation with author Cairo

Cairo divides his time between Jersey and California, and is the author of The Man Handler and The Kat Trap. His many travels to Egypt are what inspired his pen name.

BPM:  What makes you powerful as a person and a writer? Where do you find your inspiration? 
My ability to write in both male/female voice, to mentally seduce, and create erotic images in my reader's minds through words that leave a lasting impression are what make me a powerful writer. My inspiration comes from the universe.

BPM:  Introduce us to your book, Daddy Long Stroke, and the main characters. 
Daddy Long Stroke is a voyeuristic look into the mind of a womanizer who manipulates and seduces women by using what he's got--good looks, chiseled physique, charisma, and sexual prowess--to get what he wants without remorse, or regret. The main character in Daddy Long Stroke is the sexy Alexander Maples a.k.a Daddy Long Stroke. Arrogant and self-indulged, he is what every woman secretly craves in the bedroom--rough, rugged, and ravenous. And he is always happy to deliver. When it comes to pleasing a woman, he knows no boundaries, leaving no area untouched, not even her heart--or her wallet. But love is the last thing on his mind. Getting paid, and whetting his sexual appetite are the only things that motivate this salacious gigolo. And any woman trying to claim him finds herself on the receiving of heartache, tears, and drama. 

Dramatic, bold and racy, Daddy Long Stroke uncovers the shocking and painful reality of some men's belief systems about women and sex. Written in raw, graphic language, Daddy Long Stroke is a cautionary tale of one man's insatiable thirst for sex and his quest to bed down as many women he possibly can—no matter the costs, and no matter who gets hurt in the process.

BPM:  Are your characters from the portrayal of real people?
Although Daddy Long Stroke is a fictitious character, I'm sure many of us know of someone who is like (or similar to) the main character in this book.

BPM:  What specific situation or revelation prompted you to write your book? 
Daddy Long Stroke was written for all the women who crave thick chocolate, and the bad boys who serve it.

BPM:  Who do you want to reach with your book and the message within? 
I want to reach the sexually liberated and open-minded. The message in Daddy Long Stroke is don't get emotionally attached to someone who is only looking for no-strings attached sex. Bottom line, everyone who makes good love to you isn't always gonna be good for you.

BPM:  What do you think makes your book different from others on the same subject? 
Besides the fact that the sex scenes are on fire, what makes my book different from others on the same subject is that I give it to readers rough and raw. It's blunt, graphic, in your face dialogue. Period. 

BPM:  Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book? 
Aside from great sex tips and a toe-curling, stimulating read, I want readers to gain insight into their own sexual behaviors. For them to indulge their sexualities respectfully. And to enjoy the sexual revolution responsibly! 

BPM:  Share with us your upcoming book releases. How can our readers reach you online?
My next book, Deep Throat Diva, releases March 2011.  I am currently in the process of developing a website, but, in the meantime, I can be reached online at,  or by email at:

 Purchase your copy today from Amazon



It seems like every day now, I hear on the news or read in a newspaper, the tale of the rape of a young girl, be she 3 years old or 16 years old, or as old as eighty decades or more. And at times, the rapist, in his vile, demonic quest for sexual gratification, goes as far as to rape and destroy the tender body of a baby girl, as young as nine months old, who has not yet learned to crawl. 

Each time I hear these tales, I am appalled, I am disgusted, I am angered that such an horrific deed continues to infest and infect our society. I must admit, I am terrified that one day it might be my child, my neighbor, or even my own body that is so viciously violated. I am told that rape is not about love, not about sex, not about enjoyment. I am told that rape is about power, about control, about dominance. Is this so, is this true, is that what rape is about? 

Then tell me, please, why must a rapist humiliate, desecrate, even terminate the life of a woman in order to feel all powerful? Why is a female, no matter her age, no matter her position, no matter her ethnicity, viewed as a threat to a being who calls himself a man? Surely, a nine-month old baby girl is not a threat to anyone. Surely, a nine-month old baby girl has said nothing to denigrate any man. And most definitely, surely, a nine-month old baby girl has deceived no one. 

So, is rape about power?  Is rape about dominance? Is rape about control? I think not. I think rape is about self-gratification, about self-indulgence, about selfishness. Rape is about lack of control, about lack of morals, about lack of respect, about lack of discipline, and about lack of godliness. When a man can rape an innocent baby, when a man can rape his own mother, when a man can rape anyone; he is evil in his soul, he is evil in his mind, he is evil in his spirit, he is the Devil’s own, and he should go back to hell from whence his ungodly spirit came. 

We, as women, must protect ourselves and we must protect our daughters. It doesn’t matter whose daughter a girl is, all girls are ours to protect. This is not to say that men as fathers, as brothers, as sons, as human beings, are exempt. They, too, must protect the mothers, the daughters, the sisters, the friends of man from the rapists of the world. 

In 2004, I wrote a book called The Honey Well. The Honey Well was about a woman, a mother, who prostituted her own daughter in order to keep a roof over their heads. The Honey Well was based loosely on the true story of a woman who, indeed, prostituted all six of her own daughters in order to survive during the Great Depression in America. 

After writing The Honey Well, I was lead to write a poem, Baby Girl, which speaks to my message of protecting our daughters. 


Baby girl, baby girl, you’re born into a world in which you are 
a pearl. You’re precious, you’re pure, you’re lovely to behold, 
yet you’re ignorant to the world of troubles that shadow you. 

If you are not protected, you will be used, abused, stolen 
and misused, maybe your life taken to render you voiceless. 
For you, baby girl, are born with something more precious 
than the golden sweet honey made by the honey bees. 

Kings have abdicated, battles have been fought once eyes 
have set upon your beauty and man has tasted of your honey. 
Some men will not wait to be worthy, some men will 
seize what is yours by right of birth. 

You can choose, baby girl, you can decide. 
You have a will, you have a voice, let no one take it from you. 

Baby girl, baby girl, grow in mind, grow in body, 
grow in spirit, and nurture your soul. 
Protect yourself, respect yourself, and know that only you 
can lose yourself 

I am not naive. I know that since the dawn of time, women and men both have put price tags on a woman’s body, and that is unfortunate, but we as human beings have done many things in order to survive. And even then, most women who would prostitute their bodies in order to feed their children are oftentimes filled with shame. 

Rape is not about survival. Rape is not about choice. Rape is about evilness. 

Written and Copyright by author Gloria Mallette 


Can A Sistah Get Some Love?

In Tinisha Nicole Johnson's,  "For Love or Success," successful career woman Jasmine Carter is a woman who dates nothing but white-collared men. But after a string of short-lived relationships, she decides enough is enough until she meets Kevin Matthews. Jasmine doesn't want to admit her feelings for him, because in her mind, the men she dates must have high profile careers. However, it comes to a point where she can no longer deny her feelings. But will love be enough for her to take the chance?

In Nathasha Brooks-Harris, " Arctic Love Call,"  teacher Ava Chantrelle Wellbourne is through with living in Brooklyn and seeking a change in life and location. On a whim, she answers an ad to teach in all places, Alaska. She's determined to keep her mind on nothing but her new job, but even Ava can't deny snuggling up with Zachary Blackmon on those cold winter nights is just what her heart needs.

In the blink of an eye, 40-year-old Kayla Powell, the heroine of Zana Kayne's,  "A Taste for Love," goes from being downsized from her corporate executive position and losing her cheating boyfriend in one day; to being the inheritor of Tasty Kakes, an upscale bakery. When Kayla finds herself a victim of a robbery, young and handsome detective Clay Weston is sent to investigate the crime, but she's more interested in investigating him. Can she give him a taste of true love?

In Gail McFarland's,  "The Twentieth Century Fox," Margie Wilson is definitely a woman of her time. When her husband makes a break for freedom, Margie decides that her time is now. She's determined to transform a new inner and outer self. When she wins a gym membership, personal trainer Justin Gray has his work cut out for him. Is he ready for Margie, The New Twentieth Century Fox?

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Poem:  I Sweep 
by author/poet Monda Raquel Webb 

I sweep 
I sweep because my mother sweeps 
And her mother sweeps 
And her mother’s mother swept 

From makeshift brooms held together by sticks and twine 
Sweeping a dirt driveway off a dirt road 
That was a throwback in time 
To shiny wood and marble floors 
In a home off an asphalt driveway 
Where time isn’t concerned with what was but exists for the day 

I sweep 
I suppose I could use a robot or vacuum 
It would be faster than this broom 
But I sweep 
Because I know my spirit 
Needs a good solid broom 
To sweep through heartache and pain 
Love lost, lessons learned and memories gained 

To sweep through weary blues 
Bad news 
And pundits pontificating their world views 

To sweep through job loss, betrayal and the see-saws of self 
Self-esteem, self-doubt, self-respect 
I sweep to build emotional wealth 
I sweep to prevent becoming an emotional wreck 

I sweep up the dust and the dirt and the grime 
Until my muscles ache and my body is sore 
But when it’s done I feel just fine 
I can retreat to my inner sunshine 
Soothe my calloused hands and sweep some more 
Wondering why so much debris 
Loves to occupy this floor 

I sweep this way 
That way 
And back again 

My chin lifts 
My back straightens 
And my confidence is prepared to win 
Over helplessness defeat and despair 
With every stroke I smile and victory fills the air 

Sweep sweep sweep 
It’s a new day 
A new time 
A new place 
I sweep out negative thoughts 
And sweep in a new stream of consciousness 

I place my broom in the corner 
My buddy my friend 
And I know someday 
I’ll have to pick up where I left off 
And sweep again 

Monda Raquel Webb © 2010 
New poem from "Life is Like a Soul Train Line" - I Sweep

Lord, I'm Ready to Be a Wife
by Christine Pembleton (Author) 

You can fulfill your dream of being a wife, God' s Way!

Are you waiting for your wedding day to become a wife?  Your future husband isn' t looking for any old woman; he' s looking for his wife. If you want to attract him, stop acting like a single woman, and start acting like a wife-in-waiting. With fresh perspectives on traditional Bible stories and the wisdom of happily married women.

Do you want to get married, God's way?   Lord, I'm Ready to Be a Wife will show you how to avoid common dating pitfalls and recognize a potential husband when you meet him. Funny, real, and relevant, this book will encourage you while you're waiting, and help you prepare to be the woman he's always wanted to marry. The stories of Ruth and Esther will show you what it takes to get a man to "put a ring on it" and still maintain your love for the Lord. Today could be the day you meet the man you've been praying to meet.

With this book you will discover:

  • What a man is looking for in a wife
  • How to know if a man loves you and if he's is ready for marriage
  • What marriage really has in store for you
  • And so much more.

Book Video--Lord, I'm Ready to Be a Wife: Helping You Go From Single to Married God's Way
by Christine Pembleton  

The author shares her experiences as a single and now married woman. You ll discover how to change your marital status by changing the way you look at marriage and, after you ve read this book, Queen Esther will no longer be just a Bible character, but your girlfriend. Her story, along with Ruth, Rachel and Rebekah, will encourage you in your preparation to become the queen in your husband's kingdom.

ISBN-10: 0615292011 
ISBN-13: 978-0615292014 

About the Author
Christine Pembleton is a proud wife, mother, entrepreneur, teacher, talk show host, author, and minister of the Truth. With a sincere desire to encourage and empower women who want fulfillment and happiness in their marriages, she helps people understand the foundational truths of the Word of God through her ministry of writing, speaking and teaching.

In 2008, she established the Christian Wives Club Show, a weekly internet radio show for Christian wives and women desire to be married. The show airs every Sunday at 9 p.m. EST on BlogTalkRadio.

With guidance from the Lord, Christine was able to complete two products, designed to encourage and teach single women how to prepare to be wives. Dating Tips for Saved Women: The Series is a 2-part audio series. It covers the basics women need to know about choosing a Godly husband, and becoming a Godly wife, before marriage. Christine has also completed her first book, Lord, I'm Ready to Be a Wife: Helping You Go from Single to Married God's Way, scheduled for Internet release in June 2009.

Lessons Learned: Loving Yourself As A Black Woman 
by Tinisha Nicole Johnson

As a Black woman, have you ever dealt with insecurities and pressures from the world that made you feel unsure about yourself or life in general? Do you want answers and solutions to your most deepest, darkest feelings? If so, Lessons Learned: Loving Yourself as a Black Woman is a book you should read. It is an inspirational and uplifting book, emphasizing ten life lessons addressing your intimate, personal, and professional life. 

In Lessons Learned, the author passionately and straightforwardly expresses and lays out the following: --The Q&A Method of problem solving life's problems --Understanding your deepest feelings and using the positive to overcome the negative --Your self-worth is greater than you think, learn why --What women tend to think the definition of true happiness is --The five most common types of Black women --What some Black women say to themselves that they would never say out loud --Why some Black women sacrifice their souls --Balancing children, family, and friends The author thought it necessary to create a book specifically catered to Black women in the self-healing process while laying out techniques on how to gain more self-confidence and strengthen your self-worth and overall life. Life Lessons reminds Black women of the importance of loving themselves first. [
ISBN-10: 097793988X ]

Interview withTinisha Nicole Johnson
Author, Writer and Poet   

Tinisha Nicole Johnson is an author that writes in various genres. She’s written inspiration, poetry, self-help, mainstream woman fiction, mystery, psychological thriller, and romance. She also freelance writes as a profession. The author’s objection with her recent self-help book titled Lessons Learned is to revolutionize the way women of color think about themselves – personally and professionally. 

Why will people buy your book?
Lessons Learned is a self-help book specifically catered towards women of color. It is a book about loving everything about yourself, while continuing improving upon your potential. 

How will this book add value to the reader's life?
Lessons Learned is a book into the culture of women of color. It addresses their most personal and professional life. The book covers why some women sacrifice their soul, the true definition of happiness, and the top five types of black women. It also includes balancing family and friends amongst other topics. The book is based off ten life lessons the author thought primarily composes a woman’s lifestyle and way of thinking and feeling. 

Meet the Author Tinisha Nicole Johnson

Humble, down-to-earth, relaxed, reserved at times, and a cheerful giver, are just a few words to describe Tinisha Nicole Johnson. She was born in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois and grew up and still resides in Denver, Colorado. Tinisha is an entrepreneur, an only child, and mother of two. When she's not writing, she works for a telecommunications company hosting political and sports teleconferences as a profession.

Tinisha has written various articles for 'The Black Corner' section of a local urban magazine entitled, Denver's Finest Underground. In 2004, her short story, "Mother and Son Moment," was published in the Chicken Soup for the African American Soul (2004). She also has a story featured in the Chicken Soup for the Soul: Moms and Sons (2008) and her story has been chosen as one of the 101 Best Stories. Her poetry can be seen on various sites, including her own poetry website. She contributed poetry to a collaborated anthology, entitled Step Up To The Mic: A Poetic Explosion, edited by Michael J. Burt. (September 2007) It features some of HBO's Def Poets and many more. Tinisha currently writes social and political articles for the Denver Examiner, a local news source. She is also a columnist for Sister Space - Empowering Women of Color and Black Pearls Magazine. 

Tinisha's debut novel, Searchable Whereabouts, was published and released in February 2008 by Xpress Yourself Publishing. She also collaborated with two authors in the inspiring book, Somebody Prayed For Me. Tinisha is a versatile author and writes in various genres. She also has other literary works under her belt. Tinisha is known for saying, "I'm working on my next book.". 

In addition to Tinisha's literary passions, she is co-founder of a non-profit organization Authors Supporting Authors (ASA) which promotes avid reading and provides support and resources to authors. It's a great network of talented authors, artists, poets, professionals and publishers. Tinisha also manages the website and publishes a quarterly newsletter for the group.

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Intimate Conversation with E.N. Joy

E.N. Joy is the author of Me, Myself and Him, her debut work into the Christian Fiction genre. Formerly an Essence Magazine Bestselling secular author, when she decided to fully dedicate her life to Christ, that meant she had to fully dedicate her work as well. She’s launching her second Christian fiction work, She Who Finds A Husband, February 2010. 

E.N. Joy writes children's and young adult books as well as Christian fiction for adults. The executive editor for a Christian fiction imprint and a magazine columnist, she is currently working on a young adult series entitled The Soul Sisters. E.N. Joy lives in the midwest with her husband and three children. When she's not writing, she enjoys praise dancing and reading.

Ella: What current projects are you working on? 
I have a series titled “The New Day Divas Series.” The first book of the five book series is titled She Who Finds A Husband (February 2010). This first book of the series reads like a soap opera in print as it goes deep-way deep-into the lives of some real church folk and some real Christian folk. It's serious, it's humorous, all while hitting taboo subjects in the gut. No stone is left unturned in these diva's lives. The second book is titled Been There, Prayed That (June 2010). The third book is titled Love, Honor or Stray (December 2010). The other two will be released in 2011. This project is one that definitely glorifies God in every aspect, but still manages to display in a godly manner that there are “Church Folks” (church fiction) and then there are “Christian Folk” (Christian fiction) and come Sunday morning, they all end up in the same place.

Ella: What made you go from writing secular works under the names Joylynn M. Jossel and JOY, to writing Christian fiction and children’s work under the names E. N. Joy and N. Joy? 
That’s an easy one word answer; God. God has always been there keeping, watching over and protecting me, but it wasn’t until I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior did I acknowledge just how much God loves me. Now I live to glorify Him in everything I do, including my writing. So I’m now not only proud to be a Christian, but proud to be a Christian fiction author.

Ella: Please introduce us to your new Christian Fiction title, She Who Finds a Husband.
What was the pastor of New Day Temple of Faith thinking when approving the creation of the New Day Singles Ministry? Better yet, what were its members thinking when they joined? 

Doreen, lovingly known as the Church Mother of New Day, thought that when she presented the idea of the ministry to the pastor, it could serve as a foundation to empower, encourage, and enlighten the church’s single members. But when only women join and Doreen learns that all these women want only one thing out of the ministry—help in finding a man—her mission goes astray.

She Who Finds a Husband is what you get when you combine some Divine, some Independent, some Virtuous, some Animated, and some Stoic personalities all in one setting—DIVAS! Dig into this soap opera in print as the women of New Day Temple of Faith Singles Ministry set flight to include men in their future, not realizing that the past is what’s keeping them bound.

Ella: What was your first Christian fiction title? 
It’s titled Me, Myself and Him. It came out March 2008. It’s about a woman who is trying to live in the word while holding onto the hand of her live in boyfriend, who is in the world. When the story begins, neither the main character or her boyfriend are practicing Christians. The story shows the struggle between an unsaved couple, when one partner begins to fall in love with Jesus.

Ella: What was your first children’s story? 
My children’s’ story is titled The Secret Olivia Told Me. It was published September 2007. In February 2008, the American Library Association gave the book a Coretta Scott King Honor for illustration. Scholastics Books purchased the book club rights, and the book is on tour across the country at various schools for book fairs.

Ella: What is the difference, if any, between writing secular fiction and Christian fiction? 
There is a big difference. Now, instead of outlining and figuring out in which direction I want the story to go, I simply get in God’s word, get in God’s face, ask Him what He wants me to do, what He wants me to say, what He wants the message to be, then I take dictation from the Holy Spirit. 

Ella: Do you ever stray from what you think God is calling you to write? 
I try very hard to keep my mind clear; to make sure I’m in tune with the Holy Spirit when I’m writing. But I’m going to tell the truth and shame the devil; I’m human, so just like in every day life, when it comes to my writing, I do sometimes allow my flesh to rise up and do it’s own thing. I have written things that I thought the reader might want to read without consulting the true author. Do I get convicted for it? Yes, via readers’ emails and reviews…and some of them, unlike God, have no mercy. So I try my best to stick to ghostwriting…Holy Ghost writing that is.

Ella: Is writing a full-time job for you? 
Yes, well, actually, I have two full-time jobs (three if you count taking care of my family). I write full-time and I edit full-time.  I’m the acquisition editor for Urban Christian ( I’m also the editor for the “Sinner Series”, which includes the titles Even Sinners Have Souls (Nikki Turner, Noire, Chunichi), Even Sinners Have Souls Too (K’Wan, Michel Moore, Victor L. Martin) and Even Sinners STILL Have Souls (Kiki Swinson, Karen Williams, Brandi Johnson).

Ella: How may our readers connect with you online?
My website is:  
The email address is:

Purchase  She Who Finds A Husband (New Day Divas) 

Intimate Conversation with Kovabis MJ

Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio author  Kovabis MJ developed a love for reading and an aspiration to write at around the age of 19. While in college she began putting her desire into practice by writing poetry. She then moved on to journalizing her thoughts and experiences on paper.  Today Kovabis MJ is a mother of two daughters. She enjoys spending time with her family, volunteering, coaching and mentoring. Website: 

BPM:  What inspired you to write Operation Real Love: A Woman’s Guide to Protection against the Playa Pimp
I was inspired to write this book by the increasing issues we have in our communities with unhealthy male/female relationships. I wanted to shed light on a common practice within the dating landscape that is proving detrimental to the social fabric of family life and loving relationships between Black men and women. I felt that I had something positive to offer from my many years of experience and observations in life and love.

BPM:  How is your book different than others in the market? 
My book is different because it gives a unique perspective for women to consider in the complex dating scene. 

Operation Real Love: A Woman’s Guide to Protection against the Playa Pimp is a guide that brings light to the various games players use in exploiting a woman’s genuine love and care, for their sole benefit. This straightforward book gives its readers real tools and strategies for recognizing emotional abuse, enhancing their love life, and acknowledging how they are empowered to transform the things that are not producing positive outcomes in the quality of love they desire and deserve. 

No newcomer to the many challenges involved with maintaining positive and productive relationships with some men, Kovabis M.J.  gives you her in-depth analysis on some of the most destructive relationship practices currently plaguing today’s dating landscape. 

This incredible resource will provide you with beneficial information that will save you years of unnecessary pain and aggravation in tolerating an unproductive love connection. Her practical and street savvy approach in identifying men who exploit and manipulate women will inform you of innovative ways of self- empowerment against these attacks on your precious love force. She then inspire you further by suggesting ways which can help you re-connect with your natural inner-power in order to consciously evolve from negative relationship experiences. Her wise words of reason and encouragement in this guide helps instill within the mind of its readers the bravery required to freshly approach the true concept of love by opening up their heart, mind and spirit to its more positive and productive possibilities.

BPM:  What issues in today’s society have you addressed in
Operation Real Love
There has grown to become within our community this ‘playa or pimpin’ culture that some of us have learned to tolerate within our personal lives. Some women feel that they have no power to stop these experiences with the men who choose to express this persona. My book addresses the ‘pimpin culture’ to shed light on some of its aspects and how a woman can protect her love from those who seek to exploit her.

BPM:  What is your most valuable lesson learned about the publishing industry? 
The lesson I’ve learned is that you have to believe in your work. You must be determined and ambitious in accomplishing your goal of publishing your work and be willing to allow others, who have more experience in the industry, to mentor you, especially if they have your best interest at heart.

BPM:  What needs does your book meet that makes it a must for someone to buy? 
Instead of fighting ‘fire with fire’ the men who chose to be playa or pimps, women are encouraged to rise above the pain resulting from hurt and heartbreak through self protection, empowerment and awareness.

BPM:  What is the most controversial aspect of your message in your book? 
My book takes a close look at the mentality of a playa pimp and sheds light to the origin of his mindset by addressing some of the family issues currently afflicting some families in the African American community. It also encourages the responsibility of the Black media to become more conscious about the music it chooses to showcase and play for its listeners and viewers.

To schedule an interview, book signings or request copies for sale, please contact: 
Author Kovabis M. Jones 
P.O.  Box 11142,  Cincinnati, Ohio 45211-0142 
Or by email:  

Operation Real Love: A Woman’s Guide to Protection against the Playa Pimp
ISBN # 978-0-9841991-7-4;  Purchase online on author’s website: 


Intimate Conversation with Andrelena Harris

Born in Long Beach, California and reared on Governor's Island, New York and New Orleans, Louisiana.  Andrelena's  focus is on the "empowerment" of women. Her passion to equip women to overcome challenges in life stems from her own life experiences. A single parent, a past victim of domestic violence, and living a life of destruction, Andrelena rose out of her circumstances to proclaim that she is  "Somebody".   At an early age, writing became her sanctuary. Writing the truth became her praise. After receiving a vision that launched her into her purpose, Andrelena sets out to inspire, motivate, and encourage women to live life to the fullest. Her love for broken women transpires in her poetry and her letters.

Andrelena Harris is a proud mother of three, a publisher, and published writer. She is a motivational speaker, and a visual artist. She speaks to inner city youth about self esteem, value, finding purpose, reaching goals and spends her leisure time making the world a better place one day at a time. 

Ella:  Allow me to introduce the readers to  Letters to the Sisterhood.
Letters to the Sisterhood  is a book of healing letters for the wounded woman's soul. With the many challenges women face today i.e, single parenting, abuse, low self-esteem, inner conflict, depression, and self discovery; there are few solutions that understands the woman's crying soul. This book tackles those deep rooted issues; written by a woman that has been through it all.  

Andrelena, by her experiences, is determined to reach women through her letters, to instill confidence, self esteem, self respect, love, wisdom and value into the hearts of wounded women. Written woman to woman and sister to sister, these letters will empower you. 

Letters to the Sisterhood  is a book that enlightens, inspires, motivates, teaches, and guides with real woman to woman talk, laughter, tears, and love.

Ella:   Andrelena, what led you to create this book now?
A. My compassion for broken women lead me to my purpose for creating this book and writing these letters. More and more women are becoming depressed and losing sight of God and themselves; even turning to drugs, alcohol, and all kinds of destructive behavior. Now, is the time for a message of hope and renewal for these women.

Ella:  Who should read this book and why?
A. Women that are faced with the many trials of life i.e. single parenting, abuse, low self esteem, depression, and self discovery because Letters to the Sisterhood speaks about those issues and offer hope and an answer. Even men can read this book. In fact, many men have read this book and saw the trials of a woman through a woman's perspective and their eyes were opened.

Ella:   What impact will this book have on the community?
A. It would have a major impact because Letters to the Sisterhood is about community and love. Loving God, loving self, and loving others. It's about functioning and prospering as one being to effect many others. It is about coming out of gutter living and striving for excellence.

Ella:  What inspired you to write these letters?
A.  God.  I had a vision that moved me into action and I will not stop until African American women know that they are important and they are loved beyond measure! Through my own life experiences, making bad choices, having low self esteem, being abused, being a single parent, and struggling to find my self; I want to let my sisters know that there is hope.

Ella:  What issues in today's society have you addressed in the book?
A.  Letters to the Sisterhood addresses the issues of accepting abuse. Many African American women are dying at the hands of men that claim to love them. Many of our children are watching this demoralization process and are repeating the cycle. Many African American women are contracting HIV/AIDS and many other STD's because of their promiscuous lifestyles. 

Many of our children are launched into society that has given up on them. Many of us are living selfish lifestyles that will reflect in our children. Many African American women are living mediocre lives with past hurts that are crippling our societies. Many of us have no where to go or do not know how to get there. Many of us do no know where to go when the only way to go is with God. Letters to the Sisterhood addresses women on many issues because each of us have to make a change in order to change our society.

Ella:  Who did you write this book for? Why?
A.  I wrote this book for urban women, broken women, hurt women, because I call us the women that love forgot and I want every woman that feels as if no one cares; as if no one loves them; as if everyone has given up--God has not forgot! He just requires more from us and more is what I am hoping that these women can get out of life because there is so much more to get. 

Ella:  Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp and share?
A.  I want the readers of Letters to the Sisterhood to grasp the concept that they are valuable. I want them to share the fact that there is purpose in life and it has little to do with self. I want them to share love until it overflows to someone else.

Ella:   What sets your book apart from other books in your genre?
A. What sets my book apart is that I am speaking on a spiritual level, but I'm 'keepin' it real',  so to speak. My book is a book of personal letters written woman to woman and sister to sister. I am crying out from my soul and my letters are written as if I was writing them to someone very close to me. In which, I am writing them to my many sisters that will receive them and find themselves between the lines.

Ella:  What was the most important letter in the book for you?
A.  One letter I liked most or a verse in it was really neat and it was the one about women staying in abusive relationships with the hope that one day he, the abuser, would change and I stated that...

"Some storms were created to tear up everything in its path and that is what it does. We try to weather the kind of storms that we are supposed to be running away from! You know what a tornado does, you do not sit there and hope that it doesn't do what it is created to do!"   
I liked that! I wish I was that wise, to know that, years ago when I was hoping for my abuser to change.

Ella:  Do you write full time? Describe your writing schedule for our readers.
A.  I am working on children's books (none published yet) and I'm writing a novel and I'm currently working on my next book 'Driving My Girls Home' and I'm writing poetry and plays. There's really no schedule. Whichever ones I feel like working on is what I work on. I multi task alot which keeps me pretty busy, but not full time. I enjoy staying up late at night when the house is quiet to write. I could be in the line at the grocery store and something comes to me and I write. While writing Letters to the Sisterhood, I would awake in the middle of the night to write because the words felt like fire in my bones and they had to come out.

Ella:   What do you like to do when you're not writing?
A.  I like to be around loved ones; laughing and having a good time. I have a funny family and they are like medicine to me. I also love painting. The power of creating does something spectacular to the soul and so I love creating things.

Ella:   What is the best piece of advice you would give to an aspiring author?
A.  Don't give up! If your mind can visualize it, then that is your book in publication already!

Ella:  Share with us your online contact information with our readers.  

You can purchase Letters to the Sisterhood at: ,, and   Please visit  for more information. 

Intimate Conversation with Missy Jackson

Author Tennette “Missy” Jackson hails from Somerset , New Jersey . She has two daughters and three grandchildren. Missy began writing at a very young age and knew it was her passion. After years of drug abuse and numerous prison stints, Missy found an outlet in writing. Cheetah, her debut novel, was written in the state prison. Missy currently lives in Bound Brook , New Jersey while working on her second novel.

Spotlight on Cheetah by Missy Jackson
Born and raised on the mean streets of Newark , New Jersey , Yanika Johnson aka Cheetah is far from your average female. A true thug in every sense of the word, Cheetah has the ego and persona to prove it all. After she and her best friend Naj take Newark drug trade by storm, the haters begin to do just what they do best...HATE. Can the tough streets of this brick city accept being ran by two women, or will their budding empire come tumbling down?

Cheetah is a young woman with a heart of gold and steel. Follow her journey through a year of murder and madness. In this book, you will see how a true friendship is supposed to be. You will become engrossed in the "Hood Happenings" as you ride the wave of real street life. Cheetah will make you cry, laugh, and truly understand how things work in the ghetto.

Ella:  Missy, please tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite?
A) My favorite has to be Cheetah, since she was designed from my past. Her gritty, no nonsense attitude, and love for her family made her my favorite. Actually all four of the main characters Nissan, Qua Naj, and Cheetah are mirrored after my life. I took a piece of me and structured each one.

Ella:  What inspired you to write this story,  CHEETAH? 
(A) I was in prison and the urban novels were the hot commodity. I read a book a day and knew that if I could write one myself. My bunkie doubted me, so I wrote CHEETAH.

Ella:  What issues in today's society have you addressed in  CHEETAH? 
(A) CHEETAH touched on issues close to home for me. Here are a few of them: how some young people feel as if the only way to make it is to either sell drugs or rob. It touches on how you can even be educated, headed in the right direction; yet allow the lure of the street and the lifestyle to suck you in. My main issue is how most families in society deal with either having a drug dealer, gang banger, or drug user in the household.

Ella:  What sets you apart from other books in your genre?
(A) The fact that I write from the lesbian point of view, sets me apart from many. When you read about drug dealers, gangs, clique, or a pack of robbers it is usually guys or a mixture of guys and girls. My story shows the struggle of not only the women in the hood, but also the lesbian women. The stereotyping and the differences they face due to life in an alternative lifestyle are prominent.

Ella:  If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?  
A)  No, I would leave the story as is. Though this is not a true story, it is very dear and personal. I feel that CHEETAH is one of the realest books out there. It portrays the everyday hustle and grind that's going on in every hood. The corner boy/girl hustler, the one who don't see the mansions and millions, and also the brutal end results that most encounter.

Ella:  Missy what's next for you? Are there any new books on the horizon?

My upcoming novel "THE JUMPOFF" is sure to catch the same buzz. Be on the lookout for it summer 2010.

Book Club Reviews for Cheetah

5 Stars by Readers in Motion Book Club
Can't Knock Her Hustle

Meet Yanika Johnson a.k.a. Cheetah, a female thug with more swagger than any male thug on the block. Born and raised in Brick City , life has been a struggle for her and those she loves. Her ultimate goal is to become financially stable and get out the game. With her best friend, Naj, covering her front and back, nothing is impossible. That is until she runs into a few stick up dudes, who obviously didn't know who they were messing with. Revenge soon becomes added to Cheetah list of goals.

With the love of her life, Naj, and other loyal members of the crew, Cheetah locks down the drug game in Newark . Will she survive being the backbone to her family and loved ones, since her gangsta will be tested time and time again? ---Reviewed by: Minah, for Readers in Motion Book Club


4 Stars by  The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers
What Goes Around, Comes Around

Cheetah, born Yanika Johnson, is far from the cuddly name presented here. She is a street hustler from Newark , NJ and she is no one to mess with. She gives new meaning to the word "thug". Circumstances make her even more ruthless and she sets about the streets of Newark on a reign of terror. Eventually what goes around comes around, and unfortunately for Cheetah, it comes around in the worst way.

CHEETAH was a very powerful read. I could not put this book down. Missy Jackson gives the reader some insight on what could be happening in the streets where you live. This book fits the bill when we read about or hear about street violence in newspapers and on television everyday, but it hits home once you read it. The reader gets a glimpse as to what really goes down between street hustlers and crime. It also shines some light on females living in "the life"...the life of lesbianism. Despite the hard core persona Cheetah portrays, she has a soft heart when it comes to the people she loves. An excellent read!  --- Reviewed by Cheryl Dublin, for RAWSISTAZ Reviewers

Peek inside the book

ISBN-10: 0981854559


Intimate Conversation with Tash Hawthorne

Tash Hawthorne comes out strong and does her thing with her freshman novel... Showing that Karma is definitely a mutha! --J.M. Benjamin, Essence Bestselling author of Ride or Die Chick and On The Run With Love

Tash Hawthorne, born in Summit , NJ and raised in the Valley section of Orange, NJ ,  cannot be viewed as the typical Jersey Girl. For the first 18 years of her life, Tash had the rare privilege of being raised by three generations of strong Black women; all who lived under the same roof. Having received such ingredients like fearlessness from her mother, compassion from her grandmother, and resilience from her great grandmother, Tash grew to be a product of her environment. One of pure love and unadulterated passion for the human condition. 

As a child, Tash dreamed of becoming an Olympic gold-medalist in track & field and an Alvin Ailey dancer, but her hopes to run and dance were soon deferred due to medical reasons. Writing evolved from that of her mother. Tash showed early signs of her gift of script at the age of 9; winning second place in a state-wide essay contest for students in grades 4-6. At age 14, she placed first in another essay contest which consisted of 1300 junior high school candidates along the East Coast. 

Despite her early accolades, Tash did not seriously begin writing until the age of 17, three months after the untimely passing of her best friend. Writing became a therapeutic way to escape the unpleasant realities of her surroundings. And it was in that time of salutary that her first screenplay, "The Jaded Edge" was born.

After graduating from high school, Tash went on to attend the first college of her choice, Hampton University , where she furthered her love for the arts, pursuing a degree in theatre. She would soon be faced with another tragedy. Just seven days into her studies at the university, Tash received a phone call from her mother stating that her great-grandmother had unexpectedly passed away. Tash's entire academic world came to a standstill. The woman she used to secretly meet in the middle of the night to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with had been taken away from her. It would take Tash the rest of her tenure at Hampton to fully recover from the sudden loss.

Having regrouped and accepted God's will, Tash turned her focus back to her studies. With the help of some of her professors and staff at Hampton , she went from being on academic probation to graduating on time with Honors. During her term, she was able to write a second screenplay entitled "Nu JeruSlum" and a stage play entitled "Mourning Glory."  After returning home to Orange , Tash began to write a third screenplay entitled "Karma." Throughout that year, she experienced unsettling thoughts about the format of the piece. It was not until a year later when she decided to turn it into a novel. “Karma,” like all of Tash's works, encompasses the reality of life as she sees it and knows it.

Ella: Tash, you've had a full life for one so young! Please tell us about your passion for writing. 
My passion for writing stems from life experiences (mine and others) and my love for the arts. I write because I believe the genre of urban literature is missing something…and that something is substance. My goal is to give readers an alternate view of the urban world. This goal is what drives me.

Ella: What legacy do you want your writing to leave future readers?
My writing offers the following legacy to future readers…A legacy of integrity. When I say that, I mean to say that I stood my ground in telling my characters’ stories. It was important to always tell the truth…their truths.

Ella: Introduce us to your new book, Karma with a Vengeance.
There is a time in a young woman’s life where the choices she makes will determine the outcome of her existence in the years (of uncertainty) to come. Those choices will lead to mistakes. The mistakes will lead to hard times. The hard times will lead to answers, searched for by that lost soul.

In the urban setting of Newark , NJ , we accompany Karma Alonso-Walker, who, on this journey, gains support from an unwanted, unlikely source through life's greatest troubles. At the age of 17, Karma becomes caught in the middle of her parents' deteriorating marriage. Due to the unexpected appearance of her father's one night-stand at the family's church on Easter Sunday, Karma's perception of men changes for the worst. With an opportunity to join the US Women's Track and Field team for the 2000 Summer Olympics in Australia , Karma is driven to achieve her dream of winning Olympic gold. But to her dismay, her mother is stricken with Ovarian Cancer. Karma is forced to choose between running professionally at her mother's request or running home to be at her mother's side. 

Ten years later, we follow Karma to her mother's home on her fifty-second birthday. Her parents have separated and found comfort in new partners. All the while, unbeknownst to Karma, her mother's boyfriend has made himself a permanent fixture in their life. While trying to protect her mother from her abusive lover, Karma finds herself distracted by the presence of her cousin's new police partner. As distraction and attraction become intertwined, Karma loses focus of her mother's safety. And on the very same celebratory day of her birth, Karma is forced to mourn her mother's death.

Driven by hatred and fury, Karma sets out to find her mother's boyfriend and avenge her death. Having severed her ties with God, been dismissed by her family and the Newark Police Department, Karma becomes a menace to society--and to herself.  This timeless chronicle about a young woman's unyielding loyalty to her mother will open your eyes to the way life can be, even when the glass looks half empty. As Karma’s life spirals out of control, her exploration leads her to self-preservation and true happiness…or does it? 

Ella: Who are your two main characters? And what do you like most about them?
My two main characters are Karma Alonso-Walker and Money Parks . What I like most about Karma is that she is a strong, independent woman who can adapt to any environment. I also admire Karma’s ability to be dependent on someone else when her burdens are too much for her to bear. What I like most about Money is that although he makes many mistakes (terrible ones at that) his intentions are good. 

Ella: Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book?
I want readers to know that there are successful people of color in the inner city. Every woman is not materialistic or abusing the system or bedding multiple men for financial gain. Every man is not a drug dealer or a gangster or a male gigolo. For the most part, people are living their lives trying to do the right thing.

Ella: What advice would you give a new writer?
I would advise a new writer to not write pieces for the sole purpose of sales or what he/she thinks other people would want to read. I would encourage the writer to write what he/she feels people NEED to know. It is imperative to ALWAYS tell the truth. 

Ella: Name three things that it takes to make a successful author in your opinion.

    1. A writer must have discipline. For instance, they must have the strength of mind and will to be able to shut the world out so they can immerse themselves in their work. 

    2. A writer must be able to deal with adversity.  They must have tough skin and be able to take criticism, be it constructive or destructive.  They must have an open mind and be flexible in their approach to the art and craft of writing.  

    3. A writer must be a consummate student. A successful author reads works written by other authors, not only for pleasure, but also to learn new ways to invent and deliver their own stories.

Ella: What can we expect from you in the future?
You can expect the sequel to Karma: With A Vengeance (wink). Seriously, you can expect a continuation of my works in film and theatre in the future. I believe writers should be multi-dimensional. They should never cripple themselves by writing in only one facet of scribe. 

Ella: How may our readers connect with you online?

E-Mail Addresses:

Web Links:

ISBN-10: 0981854508   |  ISBN-13: 978-0981854502
Genre: Urban Fiction, Contemporary, Women, African-American, Cuban-American

Peek inside the book


Infidelity by Erica Williams

"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" who 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 if the conversation is one that cannot be had in the presence of your boyfriend or girlfriend; and that going out on a date or physical contact with someone else is wrong. 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 the day of AIDS? How do you guarantee that you are 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? Without you finding out what they are doing, of course? I will step out on a limb and 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 my self, 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. 

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" but then again, "why can't I?" if there's nothing in them. 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 because they want to hold on to the person they love, until they are ready to be loyal. But that is just a selfish way to live and 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. I must also say that there is no respect from a single woman for a wife. Unfortunately nowadays, anything goes, relationships are temporary, and people are only together until they break up. 

What is 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 death do us part? It doesn't look that way. 

Domestic Violence and Revenge, Two Sides of the Same Coin

by Erica Williams

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. My book A Woman Scorned also addresses the issue of Domestic Violence. The main character, Brielle Prescott, remained in an abusive marriage partially because of being physically abused by her parents as a child. The emotional scars and distress from being battered lasts and affects the victim for a lifetime, in many cases. 

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 for one, that person may be critically injured or killed. Many women have died at the hands of the man that they loved. It is a dangerous habit and a problem that escalates over time, as many statistics prove. When a man starts the cycle of abuse oftentimes the assaults become worse and worse as time goes on and more and more frequent. What may begins 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. Many young woman 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. The problem herein lies in the fact that a man who does not know how to deal with his emotions or control his anger is a man to fear. When things are great is not the time to decide whether you are with the right man. 

However, it is when there are issues or conflicts is the time to assess who you are really loving. A man should not have to hurt you to show his love for you. A man should be able to know how to deal with problems with his mind and not his fists. When the schoolyard fighting days are over, a man needs to know how to handle situations. Is there really an excuse to hit his woman? What if she cheats? What if she lies about where she was and who she was with? What if she spends the money that should have gone to bills? Is there really any justification for physical abuse accept 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 choose to heed the warning signs, spare my life, 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, is the fact that 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 hands and fists. I have been on both sides of this issue and that is why I wrote A Woman Scorned because 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 and many way 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 their is sometimes a marriage of the two.  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 and 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 her 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, and we all do not always handle things the right way. So why is it that we find it okay, to kill the perpetrator? Isn't that violence too?

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Ella Curry, President of EDC Creations
Founder & Editor In Chief Black Pearls Magazine