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Welcome To SORMAG's Blog

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

BOOK CLUB SCHEDULE - FEB

Feb 6 - Go Work Da Dollar – Spong E. Akowe

Feb9 - The Wages of Sin - Audrey Forrest Carter

Feb13 - Unbreakable - A Guide to Understanding Marriage and Relationships -
TOI MOORE with Gregory Moore

Feb16 - THE WAVE - Walter Mosley

Feb20 - Backroom Confessions - Rose Jackson-Beavers

Feb24 - Son of Perdition: Book Three of Ahab's Legacy - Louise M. Gouge

Feb27 - Single, Saved and Having Sex - Ty Adams

The online book club introduces you to two authors each week by
sending out a chapter excerpt of their books.

To join the book club - sormagforum-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

If you would like your book featured again in our book club, we are
currently scheduling for 2006. All genres are welcome. Contact sormag@yahoo.com for guidelines.

Feature your book in our online store - For the low price of 15.00
your book will be featured for MAR

Check it out - http://www.sormag.com/store.html

Would you like to be a FEATURED AUTHOR?
http://www.sormag.com/AUTHOR.html

Please feel free to forward this information on to other book lovers.

LET's TALK ABOUT IT - African American History Month


What are your plans for African American History Month?

How do you celebrate?

How do you pass on the history.

Let’s Talk about it this month.
Share your memories of African American history month.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

FEATURED AUTHOR - Cheryl Talley Moss

SORMAG: Please give the readers a brief bio on you the person and the writer.

Cheryl Talley Moss:
I'm a native of Gary, Indiana, but I've lived in Texas for the past twenty years. I have been writing and expressing myself all of my life. I made it a career choice after surviving cancer. I honed my skills as an Ethnic Hair & Skin Care Specialist during my twenty-five years experience as an Award-Winning Cosmetology Stylist/Educator. Over 20 years ago, I was employed as the assistant to the chemist of the Research and Development Department at the oldest African American owned manufacturer of cosmetics and hair care products made especially for African Americans. I became the first African American woman to own a full-service hair salon in shopping mall in Mesquite, Texas in 1992. It was also the same year I became a cancer survivor. I believe God spared my life for a reason, and I'm determined to share all the gifts and talents He has blessed me with. In 1999 I wrote, self-published, and sold over 6 thousand copies of my self-help book, Healthy Hair Care Tips for Today's Black Woman, the black woman's guide to healthy hair. My current book, Sooner or Later, is a romance suspense. I recently released Cheryl Talley Moss Healthy Hair and Skin Care Products. I named part of the line: Georgia's Girl, in honor of my late mother. I'm currently happily single. I was married for 29 years and I have three adult children. In my spare time, I enjoy gardening, traveling, sewing, listening to music, and designing jewelry.

SORMAG: Tell us about your current book?

MOSS:
Sooner or Later is an entertaining romance suspense that deals with real issues such as sexual assault, obesity, discrimination in the workplace, infidelity, and baby momma drama.

SORMAG: What would you like your readers to take away from your book?

MOSS:
I want my readers to realize that we all have issues. The sooner we deal with whatever causes us hurt and pain, the better off we will be.

SORMAG: What makes your writing style unique?

MOSS:
My experience in the cosmetology industry has taught me to write in a simple and descriptive manner.

SORMAG: What do you do to make time for yourself?

MOSS:
I'm a very organized person. I make time for myself by scheduling time for myself.

SORMAG: Why did you choose the self publishing route?

MOSS:
I've been self-employed since 1992. Self publishing was another way to fuel my entrepreneurial spirit.

SORMAG: What's something you wish you'd known earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?

MOSS:
Publishing Healthy Hair Care Tips for Today's Black Woman was very expensive because I subcontracted all of the prepress work. Before I published my second book, Sooner or Later, I learned how to do everything myself ¦from developing the concept of the book cover to actually doing the book layout.

SORMAG: How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

MOSS:
I love hearing from my readers. They can contact me by visiting my web site: www.CherylTMoss.com. I appreciate the time you took out of your busy schedule to conduct this interview.

EXCERPT- Sooner Or Later


SOONER OR LATER
by Cheryl Talley Moss
Chapter One

Taryn Carter jumped into her midnight blue Mazda Miata and sped out of the parking lot of the downtown office building owned by Cannon, Collins, and Jeter, the most prestigious corporate law firm in Dallas, Texas. Taryn had been a law clerk at the firm during her last year of law school. But she'd been hired as an attorney after graduating number two in her class from the meritorious DFW School of Law. Even though Taryn had received numerous job offers from across the country, she chose to remain at CC&J. Taryn met her late husband, Attorney Joe Carter, at the firm. Unfortunately, Joe had died tragically in an automobile accident a few days after they had celebrated their first wedding anniversary. Taryn was considered CC&J's most promising attorney. For the last five years, she'd been knee deep in trials, and her track record was impeccable. During her entire career, Taryn had only lost one case, but that case had been impossible to win because the company she represented unjustly terminated a morbidly obese employee. Immediately after the case had been assigned to her, Taryn recommended her client offer a generous settlement. But the plaintiff had refused to settle out of court because she was certain she had sufficient proof that being overweight didn't hinder her work performance. Well, by the time the trial was over, the jury had been convinced enough to award the plaintiff two million dollars.

A week earlier, the firm had hosted an extravagant dinner to announce officially that Taryn had made partner. Also, the Dallas Morning Post had covered the ceremony the Bar Association had recently sponsored to announce its naming her ‘The Best Litigator in the City’.

It was around eight-thirty in the morning, and because of the drizzling rain, the streets were slippery. Driving fast and frantically, Taryn momentarily lost control of her car, but she quickly swerved to the next lane and avoided a rear end collision. After asking God to help her stay focused, she moved into the right hand lane and merged onto Interstate seventy-five north. Ordinarily, she loved driving the five-speed sports car her father bought her for graduation because it allowed her to maneuver in and out of traffic easily. At that moment, however, she wished she had driven her Mercedes today because of the rainy weather. Several attorneys at the firm offered to drive her to the hospital, but she had assured everyone that she could get there safely on her own.

As usual, traffic was terrible during rush hour, and the drizzling rain made it even worse. Taryn glanced at the speedometer and could not believe she was driving thirty miles per hour because it seemed as if her car was barely moving.Ten minutes earlier, Taryn’s brother, Trey, had phoned her at work to let her know their father, Robert Hamilton Sr., had suffered a heart attack, and he was being rushed by ambulance to Medical City University Hospital where Trey was a pediatrician. After driving for about fifteen minutes, Taryn realized that Trey could be in touch with the paramedics while their father was being transported. Instantly, she felt a strong urge to call her brother to get an update on their father’s condition. Ironically, as soon as she reached for her cell phone, it rang.

“Please tell me that he’s gonna make it, Trey,” she demanded nervously.
“Pray, Taryn, it doesn’t look good. Dad is unconscious and they haven’t been able to stabilize him. I have to go! They’re bringing him in now,” Trey said in a rush and hung up the phone.

Taryn prayed as the drizzling rain transformed into a boundless downpour, and traffic came to a sudden halt. What now? Please don’t let it be an accident! But an accident is exactly what occurred. When Taryn heard the blasting sirens of police cars approaching from the service road, her memory was reverted back to another rainy day…

Thirteen years earlier

When Taryn was sixteen, she went to the local mall to shop for presents because it was a few days before Christmas. She finished making her purchases around four-thirty in the afternoon. Jamar, a high school friend of her brother’s, approached her while she was walking to her car. Taryn had known Jamar since she was twelve years old, and she had a serious crush on him since the moment they first met. Jamar loved to draw portraits. Whenever he was home from college, Jamar would come to her house to visit. Taryn looked forward to seeing him and viewing his new sketches. She loved his friendly personality, and she admired the way he took pride in his appearance. Jamar was a fashion trendsetter. When most kids across the country were wearing baggy jeans, Jamar started wearing fitted jeans with plaid, preppy, shirts tucked inside his pants. And the next thing you knew, all of the guys in the neighborhood started to imitate him. Jamar was just cool like that. Jamar had been the starting quarterback for the University of North East Texas. Several broadcasters on ESPN had reported that he was a top candidate for the Hiesman Trophy. But he lost his shot at winning the illustrious award. You see, Taryn’s father, the head football coach for UNET, kicked him off the team two weeks earlier because he tested positive for cocaine. Jamar insisted that he had experimented with cocaine the one time. Coach Hamilton was sympathetic to his situation. However, the decision was out of his control. The school had a zero-tolerance policy concerning drugs. Furthermore, Coach Hamilton had repeatedly warned the players that drug usage would end their football career at UNET.
Taryn was very happy to see Jamar because she had been constantly wondering how he was doing. No one had heard from him since he was expelled from the university. “Hey, Jamar,” Taryn said, giving him a hug.

“What’s up, Baby-girl?”

She grinned as she held up her shopping bags. “Nothing much. Just shopping for a little sumthin’ sumthin’ for the folks.”

“I was about to go to Burgers & Stuff for something to eat. You wanna go?” Jamar asked.

“Sure,” she said cheerfully. “I’ll follow you. I’ll meet you at the front of the mall.”

Jamar shook his head. “You can ride with me. My jeep will be much safer in this drizzling rain.” Jamar noticed that Taryn was hesitating, so he smiled and quickly continued, “C’mon, girl. Stop trippin’. I’ll bring you back to your car as soon as we finish eatin’.”

“Okay, I’m parked right over there” she said, pointing toward her vehicle. Then she walked to her car and put her packages into the trunk. When Jamar drove his car beside Taryn’s parked car, she opened the car door and hopped into his SUV.

“So how have you been, Jamar?” she asked as he drove out of the parking lot.

“Okay, but I’ve been better.”

“Look, I want you to know Dad told me that cuttin’ you from the team was one of the hardest things he had to do. He said that he believed you when you told him that you only messed with drugs once.”

“Yeah—right,” Jamar mumbled sarcastically, rolling his eyes at her.

“No, seriously, Dad loves you like a son, Jamar.”

“If he loved me like a son, he would’ve had my back, Taryn!” he shouted.

“C mon now, Jamar. You know he had to do his job,” Taryn said as she turned around in her seat and looked at the street sign. “Hey! You should’ve turned left back there.”

Jamar didn’t say anything. He just glared at her, and flicked on his turn signal.

“Why are you getting on the interstate?” Taryn asked after she realized Jamar was about to get on the highway.
Jamar continued to drive in silence.

“Just where are you going, Jamar?”

“Shut up, bitch! Your punk ass daddy ruined my life! Now I’ma ‘bout to ruin his by killin’ yo ass!”

Taryn blinked with surprise. “Please pull over so that we can talk! You don’t wanna do this, Jamar,” she pleaded.

Jamar slapped her hard across the face with the back of his hand. “Didn’t I tell you ta shut up?”

Taryn’s eyes widened and her ears rang. She didn’t realize her lips were bleeding until she wiped the tears from her face. When she saw the blood on her hands, she panicked and tried to open her door.

“I know you not tryin’ ta jump out the car!”

“I wasn’t gonna jump, Jamar!”

“You must think I’ma damn fool!” he yelled before he punched her in the ribs with his fist.

Taryn doubled over in pain. This fool is crazy. He really must be on drugs. I’m gonna die if I don’t do something, she thought. Taryn also thought about how her family was going to be disappointed in her for getting into Jamar’s car in the first place. Then she remembered talking to her father on her cell phone while she was in the mall. If I can distract him for a moment, I could call for help. Dear Lord, please help me!

She believed God must have answered her prayers because the drizzling rain immediately stopped. When Jamar turned off the windshield wipers, Taryn slipped her hand into her jacket pocket and curled her fingers around her cell phone. She then pressed the send button, and prayed her father would answer.

“Please think about this! Think about your family, Jamar! I swear to you, if you let me go, I won’t tell anybody!”

“You must think I’m stupid?”

“No, I know you’re not stupid, Jamar! But can you just tell me why we’re going south on Highway 80?” she yelled.

Jamar ignored her as he continued to drive. “Why are you getting off at the Big Town exit?” Taryn asked in a loud voice. Dear God, please let someone hear me!

“Shut up!” he shouted.

“All I want to know is why you’re getting off at Big Town, Jamar!”

“’Cause you and I are gonna see a movie.”

“The movie theater is closed, Jamar!” she yelled in exasperation.

“Shut the fuck up! If you say one more word, bitch, I’ll kill yo ass right here!” Jamar shouted as he pulled a gun out of his pocket and pointed it at her face. He then drove to the back of the vacant theater and turned off his lights.
Taryn wanted to scream. She was so scared she started shaking. She couldn’t believe what was happening. Her mouth wouldn’t open. She just stared at him absolutely speechless. Please hear me, Daddy.

Jamar circled the vacant parking lot several times before he parked the car and got out. When he walked around to the passenger side of the car, Taryn lunged into the driver’s seat, opened the car door, jumped out of the SUV, and ran as fast as she could. But Jamar was faster. He caught her by her ponytail and repeatedly threw punches to her upper body. Taryn slumped over and pretended she was losing consciousness. She just wanted him to stop hitting her. Thinking that he knocked her out, Jamar pushed her to the ground. He knelt over her, snatched her jacket apart, and yanked her blouse open. Then he pulled up her skirt, ripped off her panties, and spread her legs.

Friday, January 27, 2006

BOOK WINNERS - JANUARY

Book Winners for JANUARY are:

Friday - 13

Mary Griffith

Patsy Nelson

Friday - 20

Eugenia Renskoff

Vanessa Johnson

Friday - 27

Cindy Appel

Mahaira

Jackie Young

Deatri King- Bey

Send me your mailing address, and book choice - sormag@yahoo.com and I'll put your book in the mail.


Below are the choice for JANUARY.

Waving From The Heart – Ann Clay
The Wave – Walter Mosley - Marilynn Griffith
Wednesday Woes – Gayle Jackson Sloan
Obsession 101 – Michelle McGriff - Patsy D. Nelson
Original Love – J.J. Murray
Make Me Hot – Marissa Monteilh
What You Won’t Do For Love – Wendy Coakley- Thompson
Destiny Disguise – Angie Daniels




Thank you for your support.

LaShaunda
SORMAG

Would you like to donate a book to our winners:

Send to:

L.C. Hoffman
7127 Minnesota Ave
St. Louis MO 63111

Sunday, January 22, 2006

FEATURED AUTHOR -Tamika Johnson


SORMAG: Please give the readers a brief bio on you the person and the writer.

Tamika Johnson:
Well…let’s see. I am a professional speaker specializing in the areas of bullying, dating violence, domestic violence, and discovering one’s personal best. I am the founder and CEO of Leading Lady Enterprises which is an umbrella organization to four different sub-divisions: Leading Lady Publications, Miss Christian United States Pageants, Forever A Conqueror Productions, and Worship Café (coming 2006).

Most important, I am a mother of one special little girl named Andraya (means Courageous), who was my motivation for getting out of a very unhealthy marriage and work on my self-esteem issues. It is because of her that decided to really look deep within myself and attack the issues that kept leading me to destructive relationship.
I am also very excited to be engaged to an incredible man who is supportive and loves me just because I breathe. Isn’t that what we all dream for ladies?

Tamika, the writer, is someone who has always been an avid reader! I love Romance! Beverly Jenkins is one of my all time favorite authors; I have all of the books she has ever written.

SORMAG: Tell us about your current book?

JOHNSON:
“He Loves Me Not, but I Love Myself!” is a young woman’s guide to understanding and conquering dating violence. At the age of fourteen I found myself in an abusive dating relationship. A relationship packed with verbal, emotional, sexual, and physical abuse. Yes…I was only 14! I am from a good home and background as both of my parents are preachers, but I still found myself in this destructive relationship.

Each chapter specifically targets an area of dating violence: verbal and emotional abuse; sexual abuse, and physical abuse. Each chapter begins with my own personal story and then gives factual information on how to deal with a certain aspect of abuse. The book also includes a Parent’s Discussion Guide at the beginning of the book, as well as space for reflection after each chapter. There is also a relationship inventory, dating bill of rights, and listing for all of the domestic violence coalitions in the country.

“He Loves Me Not, But I Love Myself!” is written for the young woman 13 and older who feels that there is something in her relationship that just isn’t right; this book is for the parent who wants to be proactive and talk to her daughter or other loved one in her life about dating violence. This book is for someone who has a friend in an unhealthy relationship and you want to know how to talk to her. This book is for the church group or school book club who wants to shed some light on this growing issue. This book is for ANY woman who may be in an abusive relationship.

SORMAG: What would you like your readers to take away from your book?

JOHNSON:
Statistics tell us that for every three teenagers you know, one of them with be a victim of dating violence before they get out of high school!!! It’s a lot to swallow, I know, but the great thing is that statistics are always changing. I pray that parents and other concerned adults will be inspired to converse with the loved ones in their lives; that the young women who read this book with say “HE doesn’t have to love me, because I love myself!”

Once we open up the lines of communication and send the message that “Love Shouldn’t Leave Bruises!” statistics will change for the better!

SORMAG: What do you do to make time for yourself?

JOHNSON:
I escape through good books! After I put my daughter down to bed, I try to give myself a good hour of quiet reading. I am also a performer, having worked professionally as an actress, dancer, and choreographer, I love to put on some good gospel music and dance before the Lord.

SORMAG: Do you do anything to promote family literacy?

JOHNSON:
Absolutely!!! Literacy is so important. I created a program called “Spotlight: Learning on Center Stage!” which is a Performing Arts based program designed to promote reading and interpersonal communication skills among elementary school age children.

SORMAG: How did it feel to hold your first book?

JOHNSON:
The first thing I did was drive over to my mother’s place of employment to show her. Don’t we always call mama first? The moment was surreal. I would compare it to holding my daughter for the first time, I’d spent nearly nine months cultivating this incredible project and when it was finally in my hands….it was just beautiful. My publishers, Neshee Publication did an amazing job with the cover.

SORMAG: What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?

JOHNSON:
I love getting lost in the story. I have just completed my first Christian Romance Novel entitled, “Meet Me At the Altar,” which will be available in September 2006, and I couldn’t wait to get to my computer each night and get lost in the lives of my characters! I view my stories like a movie, I can hear the character voices, see their facial expressions…it’s great!

What I hate most, is the editing process. It can be so tedious reading and re-reading one’s work to make sure the grammar is correct and that the storyline flows. Oh my…it be so painful!!!

SORMAG: What’s something you wish you’d known earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?

JOHNSON: Oddly enough, I would say take your time and create a marketing plan. I was so excited to have my first book published, and after it was in my hands I realized that I had not done much to promote the book. No one knew about it! Creating the marketing plan has so many benefits as it makes you think about who are going to sell your book to, how you are going to inform them of this, and your budget. Here are some good books to add to your personal library:

Bestselling author Mary Morrison has written a very comprehensive and FREE self-publishing guide on her website: www.marymorrison.com. It is a good starting point.

Kimberley Brooks, Author of “He’s Fine…but Is He Saved?” also has a self-publishing article on her website: www.kimontheweb.com.

How to Self-Publish and Market your Own Book by African American Authors Mack and Sara Freeman: http://www.sarafreemansmith.com/books.html

Christian Writers Market Guide, by Sally E Stuart

Publicize Your Book, by Jacqueline Deval (Dedicates a whole chapter to creating a marketing plan)

Also, make sure you file for a Library of Congress Number. It’s free and must be done before your book is published. If you think libraries would be interested in your book, you have to have one of these numbers!!

Distributors are another thing I would tell self-published authors about. If you want to get your book into major bookstore chains, libraries, etc. You will want to get a distributor(s) to help you do this. Some distributors that I have seen used over and over again are the following:

Midpoint Trade Books
(includes Ingram, Spring Arbor, and Baker & Taylor)
27 West 20th Street Suite 1102
New York, NY 10011
(212) 727-0190
www.MidpointTradeBooks.com

Lushena Book Distributors
1804 W Irving Park Rd
Chicago, IL 60613
(630) 238-8708

African World Book Distributors
2217 Pennsylvania Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21217
(410)383-2006

SORMAG: What should a new writer know about the publishing business?

JOHNSON:
In addition to the information I just gave, I would say to believe in the work you publish. You’ve got to believe that what you are publishing is great, if you don’t you won’t be able to sell it.

I would also advise a new author to talk to other authors in the business. I have obtained so much valuable information just by emailing a best selling author. You may not get a response right away, but if you are patient you will make some great connections with those who have already made mistakes and want to help you avoid them.

SORMAG: How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

JOHNSON:
Websites: www.tamikajohnson.com; www.misschristianunitedstates.com
Email: leadingladyenterprises@yahoo.com
Mail: P.O. Box 35, Worton, MD 21678

Friday, January 20, 2006

EXCERPT - He Loves Me Not, But I Love Myself


"He Loves Me Not, But I Love Myself!
A young woman's guide to understanding and conquering dating violence"
by Tamika Johnson

He Loves Me…
He Made Me Feel Pretty
“Come here blackie!” Swish! Goes the bitter wind as it rolls across the playground and cuts into the skin of the young girl being whirled around by a group of three boys.

Obeying the orders of her mother, the dark skinned girl has buttoned up, and her hood is tied securely around her neck. Her mother would never know that the very instruction given to protect the young girl from the cold Utah winter was being used to humiliate her. One boy, the ringleader, has his hands wrapped tightly around the strings of her hood and is swinging her around and around on the thick ice. She whimpers as other hands feel her budding breasts through her coat.

Crack! The ice begins to break.

“Why are you so black?” The ringleader asks as he releases his hold and sends the girl flying through the air. The ice cuts into her fingers as she skids to a halt.

“Leave me alone!” She screams struggling to stand up and run from the milky white hands grabbing at the collar of her winter coat. Her knees hurt from hitting the ice; her lungs burn as she fights to catch her breath. Blackie, Whoosh! Swish, Crack, Blackie! The words and the wind mix with the sound of the cracking ice and the girl’s screams of terror. LeavemeAlone!LeavemeBlackieAlone!LeaveME!Whoosh!Crack!Alone!

Thud! Her foot connects with something hard. It seems all activity halts, and everyone stops what he or she is doing to stare at the young boy writhing in pain on the ground. The outside teacher appears suddenly and yells at the girl for fighting. She finds it strange that the teacher did nothing to stop the group of boys from grabbing her and throwing her around the ice, but now they are sending her to the principles office. No one seems to care as the young girls stutters to explain the nasty words said to her. “I don’t care what they said to you!” the teacher exclaims as she tries to soothe the ringleader.

The ringleader is holding his jaw and crying. The girl looks down at him tossing to and fro like a fish out of water. Her toe is stinging from the cold and the impact of her foot connecting with his jaw. She finds it odd that instead of feeling fear or remorse she is strangely calm and feels victorious. For the first time in her young ten years of life, she has stood up for herself. “I think you broke my jaw you B---!” He screams as the teacher runs into the building to get the principal.

“I hope I did break your jaw, I bet you won’t mess with me anymore will you?” the young girl says as she walks away, to sit at her desk, and wait…

That was me fifteen years ago waiting for someone to understand my dilemma; to see behind my smile and confident façade and rescue me. Looking back on my childhood I do not have many memories of looking in the mirror and liking my reflection.

Sure, I have wonderful parents who told me I was beautiful, but I did not believe it. What I remember is an overwhelming sense of shame. The feeling of disgust one gets from being touched inappropriately at the tender age of five. The feeling of suffocation one gets from being kissed without permission. I remember feeling “unpretty” as the TLC song says.

By the time I met him, this self-awareness (or lack thereof), was evident in my outward appearance. I either wore clothing that was tight and revealing or three sizes too big in an attempt to hide my body. He made me feel pretty.

We spent every free moment together during the school day, sometimes sneaking out of class to meet in the hallways to steal kisses and caresses. He made me feel pretty. With him, I wasn’t “blackie” or the “only black girl in her class.” With him I was beautiful and envied because all of the other girls wanted him.

There are many reasons why young women find themselves trapped in abusive relationships. I have narrowed them down to three:

Everyone else is in an unhealthy relationship, so abusive relationships seem normal.
I hate to sound like a parent when I say that teens aren’t experienced when it comes to relationships and that almighty L-Word, love. However, I am able to say this with merit because I was in an abusive relationship. We learn what is acceptable and unacceptable by experience. In other words, we live and learn.

Have you ever wondered why it is so easy to “cut off” a friend who has betrayed your trust? The answer is because you have had many more years experience in the field of friendship. You have been developing friendships since pre-school or kindergarten, and you have learned the differences of a good friend versus a bad friend.

Now what experience do you have with dating? Not much. And again, I don’t mean to be the parent, but your friends haven’t had much experience either, so if you are getting advice from them, or looking at their relationships, you are probably not receiving an accurate picture of what a healthy relationship looks like. A healthy relationship is one where both partners are able to:

· Be respected, mind, body, and soul.

· Have opinions and ideas and express them without fear of being ridiculed by the other.

· Have needs and know that they are just as important as the needs of their partner.

· Live without fear, verbal, emotional, sexual, and physical abuse at all times.

· Spend time with friends and family without being pressured by their partner’s jealousy or insecurities.

· Have disagreements that do not result in violence or hurtful exchange of words.

Female competition causes young women to put up with unhealthy behavior.
Why is it that when a female walks into a room, she is immediately sized up by the other females in the room? Have you ever looked at a female and felt a sense of competition? “Her hair is too long,” or “I look better than she does because I’m thinner than she is,” or “She thinks she’s cute!” Isn’t it funny that all of these thoughts go through our heads, and we may not even know the female?

You would be surprised at the number of teens that tell me they stay with an abusive partner because “all of the other girls want him, and I’ve got him!” Truthfully…when I look back on my relationship, this is one of the reasons why I stayed.

Lack of Self-Confidence.
Another word for self-confidence is self-value. The message behind self-value is this: what you value, you take care of. You don’t allow people to destroy the things you value. If a young woman has a lack of self-confidence or self-value, then it is easy to see why someone who makes them feel pretty would have so much power and influence in their life.

It is easy to see why a young woman with little to no self-esteem would be easy prey for an abusive boyfriend as I was.

Once you have finished reading this book, my goal is that you will understand that your past does not define your future. You may have legitimate reasons for having a low self-esteem. Things may have happened in your childhood as they did in mine; people may have told you that you wouldn’t amount to anything or that you were worthless, but know that you do not have to be a victim for the rest of your life…this is not your destiny. You were born for greatness. You were born to achieve and triumph…to be a conqueror.

By reading this book you have taken the first step of conquering your situation, you have chosen to educate yourself.

Let me be the first to say, “YOU GO GIRL!”

JANUARY REVIEWS

RATINGS:

1 Star - POOR

1 ½ Star - FAIR

2 Stars - OK

2 ½ Stars - GOOD

3 Stars - VERY GOOD

31/2 Stars- GREAT

4 Stars - EXCELLENT

41/2 Stars - EXCEPTIONAL

5 Stars – SUPREME

BOOK OF THE MONTH

Goodbye Heartache
Doris Johnson

Dafina Books
Kensington Publishing Co.
ISBN: 0-7582-0900-2
Published: February, 2006

Contemporary romance
Rate: 4-1/2 stars – EXCEPTIONAL
Reviewer: Connie Quarles

I love a book that has both romance and suspense and “Goodbye Heartache” is just that type of book. Kudos to Doris Johnson on a sensational book which offers romance, suspense, pain, and family healing.

Ava Millington is a history professor who lives a quiet, sedate life at the end of a deserted street until the mysterious black SUV appears in the vacant house next door.

Cole Dumont has been running from his past all his adult life. But an injury forces him to reevaluate his career and his life. He returns to his childhood home to face the ghosts of his past.
Can two people face their past without losing something very special between them? What other secrets do their friends hold that can jeopardize their relationship? Will they face their demons or run. These questions can be answered when you pick up “Goodbye Heartache” and read it for yourself.


White Christmas
Marilyn Lee

Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.
ISBN: 1-4199-0483-3
Publish Date: December 2005

Interracial Erotica
Rating: 3 STARS – VERY GOOD
Reviewer: Kaia Alderson

Seven years ago, Mark McCall promised Taylor Danford a very special “white” Christmas. That promise and a string of others fell to the wayside when Taylor’s rival announced she was carrying Mark’s baby and won the ultimate prize of wearing Mark’s ring on her finger. Now, Mark is divorced and Taylor is determined to re-claim the white Christmas “gift” that she had been denied all those years ago.

In this novella, Marilyn Lee continues to build on her reputation for writing the hottest erotic sex scenes. Along with her vivid “blow-by-blow” action sequences, she does a wonderful job of physically describing the small town to which Taylor returns. However, the sex is what made the story for me. I had to turn off the central heating despite the cold outside. But, I found her description of Taylor’s physical “attributes” rather limited and repetitive.

If you’re looking for a short, hot read to enjoy with your honey, this is the one for you.


The Flip Side of Money
Earl Sewell

BET Books/Sepia
ISBN: 1-58314-640-7
Month Published: November 2005

Mainstream Fiction
Rating: 4 Stars - EXCELLENT
Reviewed By: Shelia M. Goss

Earl Sewell is back with another page-turner: The Flip Side of Money. He cleverly uses the premises two’s company, three’s a crowd with the unforgettable characters Tabetha Murphy, Gilbert, and Marlon.

Tabetha’s love life was on a roller coaster ride until she met Gilbert. Gilbert showed her unconditional love and provided her with a stable home environment. He became a father figure to her son. All of that is jeopardized when a blast from her past comes back into the picture, Marlon. Marlon is the father of Tabetha’s son and bomb rushes his way back into Tabetha’s life. Their son uses his relationship with his father to get between Gilbert and Tabetha. Instead of Tabetha stepping in and communicating with her son about his new attitude towards Gilbert, she allows her son to continue disrespecting Gilbert.

Marlon purposely sets out to cause friction between Tabetha and Gilbert. Tabetha gets swept up in the “what ifs” and it leads to more problems in her now rocky relationship with Gilbert. On the surface, Marlon appears to be a changed man. He now spends quality time with his son and sets out on a course to win Tabetha’s trust and heart. During Tabetha’s confused state of mind, her and Marlon draw closer while things get worse between her and Gilbert.

Will Tabetha allow a man from her past destroy her future with Gilbert?

Mr. Sewell does a wonderful job of showing how one decision can affect multiple lives in the Flip Side of Money. I found myself engrossed in the story from the beginning.


Flirt
Carmen Green

Dafina Books
Kensington Publishing Corp.
ISBN: 0-7582-0865-0
Published: October, 2005

Contemporary Romance
Rate: 4-1/2 stars – EXCEPTIONAL
Reviewer: Connie Quarles

I love reading about the Crawford Family. They are quite an interesting bunch of folks and whenever I read one of Carmen Green’s stories about one of them, I want to go back and re-read the couple I have and the ones I missed. “Flirt” is no exception.

Sydney Morris has spent her entire life pleasing her father even when that meant giving up the chance to know her mother.

But Merry Morris is determined to let Sydney know that she loves her and leaving a sex toy store for her in her will seems to be the perfect solution. But can shy and backward Sydney Morris be able to step outside of her comfort zone to become the owner of a sex toy store? Not if her father has anything to do with it and not her neighbor has any say in it either!

Drew Crawford has worked hard to prepare for the opening of his restaurant. He was told that the owner of the sex toy store had died and it would not be reopened. But to his dismay he finds the pretty stranger the new owner of the store. After one of his relatives observes the friction between the two he declares her to be Drew’s future wife. But all Drew wants his to make her shut down. Will he stoop to use their attraction to each other as a means to get her to do what he wants? This story stands on it own. But if you are wondering about the rest of the brood, don’t worry, you will see them helping Drew with the restaurant and his love life.


The Last Temptation
Gerald K. Malcom

Q-Boro Books
ISBN: 0-9753066-8-5
Published: August 2005

Rating: 4 Stars - EXCELLENT
Reviewed By: Shelia Marie

The Last Temptation is the debut novel by Gerald K. Malcom. The book focuses on the relationship of Traci Johnson and Jordan Styles.

Jordan is successful and doesn’t mind spoiling his woman. Although he feels that Traci is the woman he wants to commit to, he still finds himself in close encounters with other women. He puts himself into several situations that cause Traci not to trust him. His pride gets in the way and he allows her to think the worse. Will he be able to convince Traci that all is not what it seems?

Traci questions Jordan’s commitment to her. Her insecurities results in bad decisions. She finds herself torn between her love for Jordan and her love for an ex-boyfriend, Solomon Jackson. When Jordan finds out about Solomon, Traci attempts to reassure Jordan of her love and devotion are unsuccessful.

Solomon is determined to have Traci “any means necessary.” He feels that his money is enough to win Traci’s allegiance and heart. Traci is tempted by her past feelings for Solomon.

Jordan’s secretary, Deanna, uses the downward spiral of his relationship with Traci to get closer to him. With all of the problems him and Traci are having, Jordan is tempted to pursue a sexual relationship with Deanna.

Will Traci and Jordan be able to fight these last temptations to be with one another?

The plot held my attention and I was able to finish the book within a few days. The Last Temptation is urban fiction with a romantic twist.


Would you like your book reviewed?
Send a review copy to:

L.C. Hoffman
7127 Minnesota Ave
St. Louis MO 63111

Please do not autograph to me.

Monday, January 16, 2006

FEATURED AUTHOR - Tracy Foster

SORMAG: Please give the readers a brief bio on you the person and the writer.

Tracy Foster:
I’m creative, outgoing, and obviously love writing. I’ve been living in St. Louis for 4 years and everyday I live life to its fullest.

SORMAG: Tell us about your current book?

FOSTER:
This Bitch Is Crazy is a fast paced, easy to read dramedy filled with wild escapades, mischief and a little sex. Clarke Harvey, a thirty-something woman has made a mess of her charmed life and doesn’t know-or want to know-how to fix it. Readers will not be disappointed.

SORMAG: What would you like your readers to take away from your book?

FOSTER:
My book is a roller coaster ride of incredible events, and it’s funny as hell. I hope that readers will like that the characters are authentic in their pursuits giving my book a realistic feel. I want readers to identify with Clarke. Truth be told there’s a little of her in all of us.

SORMAG: What do you do to make time for yourself?

FOSTER:
I turn off the phone, the tv, and enjoy the silence.

SORMAG: Do you do anything to promote family literacy?

FOSTER:
I volunteer at a reading program for school age children.

SORMAG: How did it feel to hold your first book?

FOSTER:
Its hard to put into words, saying I was ecstatic is an understatement. I felt like I had accomplished a huge dream and to think that it’s just getting started is unbelievable.

SORMAG: What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?

FOSTER:
I love writing not only does it relax me but it also allows me to share my stories with others. And I don’t feel pressured to keep writing. As of now there are no complaints about sitting down and putting my thoughts on paper.

SORMAG: What’s something you wish you’d known earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?

FOSTER:
Persistence, persistence, persistence.

SORMAG: Why did you choose the self publishing route?

FOSTER:
I wanted to make sure that my first book was going to be done without any compromises, so for me self-publishing fit my plan. Not only that, I want Foster House Publishing to serve as a vehicle for other authors who are interested in getting their work published as well.

SORMAG: How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

FOSTER:
Tracy@tracylfoster.com, www.Tracylfoster.com

Sunday, January 15, 2006

EXCERPT: The B*tch Is Crazy



Never Where You Work,
Never Where You Live

I rented an apartment around the corner from Mama’s house and
found a job working as an executive administrative assistant for a
brokerage house in downtown Chicago. I didn’t know one thing about
the stock market, but my resume was impressive. It didn’t hurt to have
Professional Football League all-pro players, a Professional League
Baseball MVP, and a Phoenix city councilman as references.
I knew I had the job five minutes into the interview; the men who
were interviewing me were seeing dollar signs. With connections like
mine, they were praying that I could bring in some big accounts for
them. But that wasn’t my angle. I needed a job, plus I didn’t want to mix
business with pleasure. Those were words to live by.
Living in Chicago again was a major adjustment. My wardrobe
needed winterizing, to the tune of forty-five hundred dollars. I was so
comfortable living the suburbia life of Arizona that on more than one
occasion Mama had to remind me to lock my car doors.
And that job was working me! They treated me like an errand
girl–with an emphasis on girl–and I knew that before long I would snap.
That thing they gave me on the first and fifteenth of each month called
a paycheck didn’t do justice. If it hadn’t been for my monthly allowance
from Vince, my ass would have been a paycheck away from homelessness.
I was writing my bills when the phone rang. The caller ID read
“Falana Love.”
“Hey, girl? What’s up?” I asked.
“Clarke? This is Kevin.” Kevin was Falana’s newest beau.
“Is everything all right?” I answered, panicked.
“No. But Falana’s fine.”
“Then what’s the problem?”
“I think your girl is cheating on me.”
Oh, my God! How did he know?
Falana had just moved back home as well. When she got there, she
had discovered that Thomas, her old boyfriend, had also moved back.
Even though she was newly engaged to Kevin, she couldn’t let Thomas
go.
“He’s so fine,” she’d say. “He’s just so fine.”
“Look,” I said, getting back to Kevin. “Why are you calling me
from Falana’s house? Did she give you a key?” I already knew the
answer.
“No, she didn’t,” he stuttered. “She told me to take her keys to her
mom about a month ago, and I made a copy.
“Good thing,” he continued, “I came in here looking for proof and
I found a condom in the trash basket.”
“Kevin, you need to leave ASAP. I don’t know anything about some
condom in the trash basket, but I do know that Falana’s gonna kick your
ass when she finds out.”
“But, Clarke,” he started.
“Clarke, my ass. You’re dead wrong to be in her place. She’s going
to flip a switch. Do you hear me? Leave now!” I yelled.
Oh no! There was going to be drama, and I wasn’t even there to
see it.
I started dialing as fast as a telemarketer. I called Falana’s mama,
her granny, her aunts, her uncles, the beauty shop, Thomas’ house, and
everywhere in between. Since I was the drama queen, I had to make sure
that I had all of the pertinent phone numbers of The Committee in case
of an emergency. This was most certainly an emergency.
No one knew where Lana was. I paced, trying to figure out my next
move, when the phone rang.
“Hey, girl, you looking for me?” Falana inquired.
I could tell she was in a good mood, but I was about to ruin all
that.
“Where are you?” I asked.
“I told you earlier that Thomas and I left work early to hang out.
Remember?”
The Committee knew that I had an unforgiving memory. I didn’t
forget anything, so I was kind of insulted, but I didn’t have time to be
mad.
“Look, Kevin just called me. He’s been in your apartment snooping
around and found a condom in the trash basket.”
“Girl, stop playing ’cause you ain’t even funny. Kevin doesn’t have
a key to my place, so what you’re saying couldn’t have happened.”
“Did you just hear what I said? He made a copy when you told him
to take the keys to your mama. He called me from your place, and he
was going through your shit.”
The line was silent.
“Where are you now?” I asked.
“We’re at my cousin’s watching TV. She’s cooking for us.”
“Well,” I started.
“Damn it!” Lana whispered.
“What?”
“Kevin’s ringing the doorbell.”
“How you know it’s him?”
“’Cause I’m looking dead at him.”
“Where’s Thomas?”
“He’s right here too.”
“Call me back.” I hung up and called Zsa.
“So I guess Thomas doesn’t know that Kevin and Falana are
engaged?” Zsa inquired.
“Nope.”
“What is wrong with Falana? Is she crazy?”
“Yep.”
“How is she getting away with seeing the both of them? Hasn’t
Thomas seen that big-ass rock on her finger?” Zsa asked, flabbergasted.
“I told Falana to break it off with Kevin, but her procrastinating ass
keeps putting it off. This is how people get beat up.”
“Beat up? People get killed every day for much less.”
“I know that’s right,” I replied.
Falana was playing a dangerous game, but this was typical Falana.
Finally, at midnight, Falana called back.
“What happened?” I asked.
“Girl, it was major drama. Kevin was screaming and yelling.”
“Can you blame him?”
She just kept talking. “Then Thomas asked what was going on
’cause I was his girl. Then Kevin said I was his fiancée. They both
looked at me. I looked at them and tried to talk to Kevin, but he lunged
at Thomas. Then Thomas kicked his ass all over my cousin’s living
room and left.”
Falana took a deep breath and continued. “After Thomas left, Kevin
started crying, asking how could I do this to him. I just slapped his
face.”
“You what?” I said. I knew Falana would cuss someone out, but she
would have to be mad beyond belief to slap somebody.
“I asked him, ‘How dare you?’ That’s what yo’ stupid ass gets. You
had no business going into my apartment with a key that you weren’t
supposed to have.’”
“Damn, Falana.” Kevin was a good guy, and even though he was
wrong, I felt sorry for him.
“Forget him!”
“Damn,” I repeated.
We were chatting away when my phone clicked. “Hold on, Lana.”
It was Kevin. “Please, Clarke,” he begged, “help me out. I still love
Falana. I want her back.”
“Kevin, you tripping. I don’t know how I can help you out of this. In
fact, I’m through talking to you ’cause I have Falana holding on.”
“Please,” he begged.
“Kevin, I’m not your friend, I’m her friend. I can’t help you. You’re
on your own.”
I clicked over and told Falana what happened.
“He’s crazy,” she said. “He’s been calling everybody. He even
called Thomas to talk to him.”
“Falana, Falana, Falana.”
“Oh, shut up. You got drama twenty four-seven, so don’t even try
it.”
“Don’t get mad at me ’cause you got busted. Today was one for the
record book.” We both had to laugh.
I was dead tired at work the next morning. Staying up half the night
talking to Falana had my ass dragging all day. I was hoping that no one
would say anything to me ’cause I was going to let them have it.
There were only three black people in my office: the receptionist,
the mailroom clerk, and me. I wasn’t high up, but as an admin, I had
the highest position of the three of us. For that reason, those white
tards thought they could say anything and get away with it, but I wasn’t
having it. I had let them know, subtly and not-so-subtly, not to try any
of that modern-day slavery oppression B.S. on me. I was an articulate,
fly-as-hell, intelligent black woman, who was still paying on a college
degree that took me five years to get.
My co-workers thought that I was some militant Black Panther
chick, but that wasn’t it. I refused to work on Martin Luther King Day. If
they got President’s Day, then I was taking MLK Day off. I thought that
that was quite fair. They looked at it as some kind of silent protest.
Nevertheless, I was quite taken aback when I was at the microwave,
minding my own business, and another executive assistant walked up
to me.
“Hello, Clarke,” she said.
“Hi,” I responded.
I could tell she was checking me out, but I was fly as always with
an Anne Klein navy pinstriped pantsuit, light-blue button-down shirt,
stockings without runs, and AK navy pumps to match. I had it going on
every day of the week.
“You know, I’m surprised that management hasn’t written you up
about your appearance,” she started.
I took one look at her homely, all-cotton dress; knee-highs; run-over
pumps; and granny sweater.
I asked her what she meant.
“Well,” she said, not looking at me in my eye, “your hair is blond,
and we all know that that’s not your natural hair color. Maybe you
should tone it down a little; it’s so ethnic.”
This heifer clearly did not know me. I had taken my hair color down
a few notches since I got back to Chicago. I wasn’t platinum blonde; I
was more of a honey blonde.
“I’m surprised, too.”
“I’m glad you understand,” she said, relieved.
“’Cause Lord knows that if they started writing up women in here
for hair color, all the admins would have something in their files.”
“What?”
“I use Clairol, just like you and everybody else in here does. So why
is it ethnic for me and natural for you?”
“I just meant . . .”
“I know exactly what you meant,” I said, cutting her off. “The next
time you mean anything else, I’m going to human resources with a
discrimination lawsuit. Do I make myself clear?” I moved within an inch
of her uneven, rimmed glasses.
She slowly backed away. I got my popcorn and walked to my
desk.

Word about the incident got around fast. From then on, my coworkers
avoided me like the plague and I liked it that way. I knew that
I wasn’t well liked in the office, and I didn’t really give a damn. The
brokers that I worked for weren’t liked much either, so we all got along
very well. I was still suspicious of them, though, so that’s why I made
sure that my work was impeccable. I did my job well, and the clients
loved me. That was the main reason I still had a job.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Books Books and More Books

As a thank you for those who stop by and leave a comment, I’m offering a FREE book. Each week two lucky winners will win a book.

Each comment you make puts your name in the hat. (legit comments please)

The best part you choose the book

Good luck

Below are the choice for JANUARY.

Waving From The Heart – Ann Clay
The Wave – Walter Mosley - Marilynn Griffith
Wednesday Woes – Gayle Jackson Sloan
Obsession 101 – Michelle McGriff - Patsy D. Nelson
Original Love – J.J. Murray
Make Me Hot – Marissa Monteilh
What You Won’t Do For Love – Wendy Coakley- Thompson
Destiny Disguise – Angie Daniels

Winners are:

Friday - 13

Mary Griffith

Patsy Nelson

Friday - 20

Eugenia Renskoff

Vanessa Johnson

Friday - 27

Cindy Appel

Mahaira

Send me your mailing address, and book choice - sormag@yahoo.com and I'll put your book in the mail.

Thank you for your support.

LaShaunda
SORMAG

Would you like to donate a book to our winners:

Send to:

L.C. Hoffman
7127 Minnesota Ave
St. Louis MO 63111

Thursday, January 12, 2006

FEATURED AUTHOR - Barbara Joe Williams


SORMAG: Tell us a little about you?

Barbara Joe Williams: I'm originally from Rosston, Arkansas, but I've lived in Tallahassee, Florida, for the past twenty years. I have a husband and a five-year-old daughter. I really enjoy traveling with my family and making friends over the internet.

SORMAG: Tell us about your current book?

WILLIAMS:
Dancing with Temptation takes on the taboo subject of erectile dysfunction and the trying effects it has on a once loving family. Tina and Martin have been happily married for seventeen years and living a storybook life in a gated community on the beach in Jacksonville when tragedy strikes. Suddenly, Tina's faced with a distant and impotent husband, coping with a mid-life health crisis, managing a growing natural hair care business, and on top of that, she's fighting the temptation of having an affair with an understanding younger man.

SORMAG: What would you like the readers to learn from your book?

WILLIAMS:
I want to inspire my readers to feel confident about seeking committed relationships. That's why I wrote about married couples that were having some troubles in both of my novels. I want readers to realize that it's hard being married, but you can overcome whatever obstacles come your way if you continue cherishing each other.

SORMAG: How do you balance writing and your home life?

WILLIAMS:
I normally write at night after my daughter has gone to bed; that's really the best time for me. I'm more creative at night when everyone is resting and the house is very quiet. Fortunately, I'm able to write and publish full-time so I have time during the day to take care of the household in-between trying to write or handle the business side of self-publishing.

SORMAG: What is the hardest part about writing?

WILLIAMS:
The hardest part about writing is sorting through all of the stories going on in my head and keeping the details straight on each one. Once the first novel was completed, ideas started coming from everywhere. I've already stated the editing process on my third novel.

SORMAG: What advice would you give to someone whose book is about to be released?

WILLIAMS:
I would advise them to take a break from writing and enjoy life for awhile before starting another project. Dancing with Temptation was just released in November, so I'm taking a break from writing until the first of the year.

SORMAG: How can readers reach you?

WILLIAMS:
I love hearing from all my readers and they may reach me by e-mail at:
Amanipublishing@aol.com or by visiting my website at: www.Barbarajoewilliams.com. Thanks for the interview.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

COMING SOON


Caught Up
by Deatri King-Bey

Genesis Press
February 1, 2006
ISBN: 1585711780


Pink (Shades of Style)
by Marilynn Griffth

Revell
February 1, 2006
ISBN: 0800730402


A Moment on the Lips
by Phyllis Bourne Williams

Leisure Books
February 1, 2006
ISBN: 0843956593


I'm Gonna Make You Love Me
by Gwyneth Bolton

Genesis Press
March 1, 2006
ISBN: 1585711810


Do you have a book coming out soon? Feature it here


Friday, January 06, 2006

EXCERPT - Dancing With Temptation


Tina was almost ready to slice her birthday cake in front of the hundred or so guests that were gathered in the great room to celebrate her forty-first birthday. Just as the crimson sun was setting, she welcomed the final guests into her home. It had been a magnificent May Day for a party that extended from the six-bedroom house out into the well-maintained back yard. Ethnically dressed in a beige and gold trimmed pants suit with a matching hat, she appeared to be a happily married woman.
Skimming the room, admiring all of the guests that were likewise wearing their African attire in accordance with the cultural theme of the party, she was astonished at what a magnificent job the professional party decorator had done with her immaculate home for this special occasion. From the colorful printed banner hanging over the entrance way to the table donned with African violets, Tina was amazed.
Suddenly Tina felt her flip-style cellular phone vibrating against her waist. Noticing the loud music thumping along with her heartbeat to the sound of Mary J. Blige singing, “It’s a Wrap,” she reached down to check her phone. She reviewed the second text message that she’d received this evening: “Baby, please meet me outside for your birthday present.”
Gasping for air, she quickly erased the message from her cell phone. Tina looked up, trying to conceal the panic on her face, and scanned the room for her husband. There he was in the corner, having a lively conversation with his friends Michael, Ralph, and Terrance. I could sneak out the front door for just a few minutes since everyone is inside and waiting for me to cut the cake. This man is probably not going to leave unless I meet him outside soon.
With her heart pounding and the blood racing through her veins, she took another look at the extra large birthday cake on the far end of the table. It was decorated with one of her most recent portraits recreated in the center of the cake. She was wearing a striped sundress in her favorite colors of orange and green. There were many small orange flowers with green leaves along the perimeter of the frosted cake surrounding her smiling face. It had one layer of chocolate cake and one layer of yellow cake with extra buttercream icing, just the way she liked it. Tina hadn’t eaten any sweets in months so she decided to splurge on the cake. Right now, she wished that she could go back to the day that she had taken that picture over two months ago before she started this affair with “Mr. Smooth,” Debonair Jenkins.
Tina and Martin had been planning this elaborate bash since the beginning of the New Year, and she wanted it to be a stone cold blast. However, this was not exactly the type of blast that she had anticipated having today. This was her first time having a birthday party in all of her adult life. She had wanted to have one for her fortieth birthday, but Martin and she were just too busy with their friends, Alese and Michael Wayne, who were separated at the time. Anyway, that was over with now and all of her friends and neighbors were there to congratulate her on reaching this milestone in her successful life.
“Tina, girl, are you all right? You’re not looking too good. Is something wrong?” Shenedra was touching Tina’s arm and searching her best friend’s eyes for an answer. She sensed that something wasn’t right.
“Shenedra, Debonair is outside. He just sent me a text message on my cell phone that he’s waiting for me. Girl, what am I going to do?” Tina stretched her panic filled eyes in horror.
“Girl, I know what you better not do. You better not even think about going out there to see that young man. I thought you said that you told him it was over,” Shenedra stated, eyeing Tina suspiciously.
“I did tell him that, but he’s been calling me and sending me text messages every day for the last seven days straight.”
At that very moment, Tina felt her phone vibrating against her waist again. She knew who it was but still reached down to read his third message for the evening: “Baby, please meet me—I’m waiting outside.”
Shenedra arched her thin eyebrows and stretched her gray catlike eyes as she spoke to Tina. “Please don’t tell me that was him contacting you again.”
“Yes, it’s him. This is his third time sending me a message in thirty minutes, and I don’t think he’s going to stop unless I go outside to see him. He claims that he has a present for me.”
“Well, I know somebody else that’s going to have a present for you if you get busted tonight. Now you stay right here and let me go talk to him.” Shenedra turned to walk away but Tina grabbed her by the left forearm.
“No, Shenedra. I can’t let you do that. Besides, I want to see what he got me for my birthday. Keep your eyes on Martin while I slip outside for just a minute, okay?”
“Tina, don’t even try…” Before she could finish her statement, Tina had already checked to make sure that Martin was still preoccupied with his friends as she walked towards the door heading outside.
When Shenedra looked towards the corner where she had seen Martin engaged in conversation a few seconds ago, he was gone. Before she could block his bath, she caught a glimpse of the back of his head as he walked toward the master bedroom. Oh, my God! The master bedroom is adjacent to the front door!

Chapter 1
It was pouring down rain on a cool February morning. The kind of day that made lovers determined to stay in bed, snuggle up together, and make love all day long. It was the type of day where couples were tempted to call in sick, telling their bosses or supervisors that they weren’t able to make it into work this morning. One of those days that you could lock lips with the one that you loved, squeeze them, and rock gently against each other’s warm body until the rain stopped beating against your window pane.
With the heavy raindrops drumming against the skylight in the far corner of their master bedroom, Tina rose from slumber, gently rolled over in their cherrywood king sized high poster canopy bed, and laid her head on Martin’s strong shoulder. Easing back the green satin sheets, she slowly slid her hand down the length of his heated cocoa brown muscular body in search of his manhood. She slightly raised her head to check out the time on the digital alarm clock by their bedside. Good, we have almost an hour before we have to start getting ready for work. Maybe we’ll be able to have sex if he has a morning erection. I could sure use some hard peter today. Shoot! My body is craving this. He has always enjoyed making love in the early morning hours during romantically cool rainy days like this. It’s time for love, and I’m ready.
Once her roaming hands touched his male organ, Tina was sorely disappointed to feel that it was just as limp as it had been last night when she tried to arouse him. Releasing a small sigh, she remembered rushing home from work the previous evening to start preparing a special meal for their Valentine’s Day celebration. Since she didn’t get to come home early very often, she thought that it would be a surprise treat for Martin to have a homemade dinner with his favorites: grilled pepper steak, Italian roasted potatoes, and sweet corn pudding. Being southern bred, he was a meat and potatoes man. So after stopping at the Publix supermarket on her way home from work, she took her time preparing the best meal that she had made in months.
First, Tina made sure that their two sons were away for the majority of the evening, and then proceeded with her plan of action which included seducing her husband into having a heated sexual exchange. Setting the mood for romance, Tina went all out with the expensive Cristal champagne chilling in a sterling silver bucket of ice in the center of the dining room table. She loaded the compact disc player with several slow jazz numbers, setting the adjustments where the sound would flow through every built-in speaker throughout the spectacular house.
Tina soaked in the extra deep whirlpool tub for almost an hour before emerging to wrap herself in a heavyweight white cotton bathrobe. Then, after lighting jasmine scented candles all over the bedroom and spraying herself in all the right places with Attraction, the sexiest perfume available, she chose a delicate piece of crimson lingerie to complete the seductive evening.
Easing into a satin and lace teddy with a sheer matching kimono and a pair of red feathery high-heeled shoes, Tina smiled inwardly. Oh, yeah, we should be making love all night long. Martin loves this red outfit. He’s never been able to resist this. Even though it had been months since they’d been intimate, she smeared creamy glittering lotion all over her redbone skin in anticipation of his touch.
Martin was late getting home, as usual, and barely ate any of his dinner, which had gotten cold by that time. He simply peeled off his clothes, left them in the middle of the bedroom floor, and climbed into bed wearing his Calvin Klein boxers. He never even commented about the lovingly prepared food or the sensual atmosphere she had set up for them in their oversized master bedroom. What a waste of time and money for an evening which had started out with so much promise for the once overly romantic and head over heels in love pair.
Tina could tell right away that Martin had been drinking and was trying his best not to face her. That would explain why he was in such a hurry to jump into bed, pretending to immediately fall into slumber. Normally, he drank vodka so that she wouldn’t be able to smell liquor on his breath, but she could always tell when he had been drinking from the disoriented dazed look in his chestnut brown eyes, his slight slurring of simple words, and the careful way he stepped. The fake snoring was definitely a dead give away that he was trying to avoid any and all contact with a wife that was ready for mating season.
Now, while she lovingly caressed his soft member in her heated hands, Martin raised both arms in the air, hunched his torso upward, stretched his body, and yawned before turning away from Tina. Not being one to give up easily, Tina started lightly kissing his back, moving her tongue in an arousing circular motion, and massaging his midsection, to no avail. Normally this was all that she had to do to get his engine revving for morning love.
Finally, after several minutes of this alluring maneuver, she gave up in frustration and decided to at least try to tactfully approach the annoying subject with her husband. “Martin, are you awake?” she asked, lightly nudging him. When he didn’t respond, she tried again. “Martin, I need to talk to you,” she spoke a little louder that time using a stern voice.
“What, Red? Can’t you see that I’m trying to get some sleep?” he replied, sounding irritated as he referred to Tina by her affectionate nickname. He’d often teased her during the course of their marriage regarding her light skin and even joked about being married to a “white” sister.
“Martin, how can you sleep when we’re in so much trouble?”
He rolled over towards Tina with an aggravated look on his face as he asked, “How are we in trouble, Red?”
“Well, for one thing, we haven’t made love since Christmas; you’re coming home later and later every night; and I know that you’re drinking heavily.”
“Look, I don’t know what you’re talking about, and I need to get this last hour of sleep, if you don’t mind.”
“So you mean to tell me that it’s not bothering you that we haven’t had sex in months?” she asked, slightly raising her voice. “You’re working too many hours, and you’re drinking too much,” she added, showing the irritation in her high-pitched voice.
“What I mean to tell you is that I need some more sleep right now. Tina, I’ve got a lot on my mind, okay. I’ve got some issues that I’m dealing with, and I just can’t talk to you about them right now. I need some time to sort through some things on my own. And, of course, it bothers me that we haven’t made love in awhile, but it’s just a passing phase. I mean every man has this problem every now and then.”
“What about the other two issues, the working late and heavy drinking?”
“I’ve always had to work late when we’re working on a deadline for an important project. You know that this McGregor account is the biggest thing that our firm has ever handled. Everyone is working extra long hours trying to complete this deal. And as far as my drinking goes, that’s the only way for me to unwind after a long day at work.”
“Well, I know another way you used to like to unwind after a long day at work,” she sniped.
“Red, I told you, that’s a temporary problem.”
“You keep saying that, Marty, but you won’t tell me what’s going on. I think that your impotence is related to your drinking, but you’re not willing to face either one. You know I am your wife; you should be able to tell me anything. That should tell you that we have a problem right there,” she stated, rising up on one elbow in the bed to get a better look at Marty’s face. She could barely believe the words that were coming out of his mouth and needed to look directly at him to verify her thinking.
“Well, whatever problems we have are not going to be resolved this morning. So can we just go back to sleep, please? You know that I get my best sleep when it’s raining like this,” he stated sharply, turning away from Tina again, dangling his arm over the side of the bed.
Tina flung herself back against the warm sheets, swinging her arms out in frustration. She knew that she would not be able to get back to sleep after that unpleasant exchange with her spouse and decided to get up, take a cool shower, and start her busy day. As she rose from the comforts of her bed, wishing that she could stay inside today and do what lovers like to do, she silently cursed Martin for his irregular behavior.
Standing in the shower with the cool water hitting her directly in the face, Tina recalled how the early morning hours used to be their favorite time to get busy, especially if there was just a hint of moisture in the air. Rainy mornings were the best for the romantic, satisfying, baby-making love that they had once enjoyed so much. Whenever they came home from work too tired to please each other, they would go straight to bed and set the alarm clock to awaken them an hour earlier than usual just so they could make out. They would have so much fun in bed, using most of the hour engaged in extensive foreplay before the actual sex even took place. Those were the days when coupling was a lightweight pleasure to be enjoyed with ease. These days, he treated her like it was a burden to even hold her hand or embrace her in his arms, let alone have sexual foreplay for a whole hour before intercourse.
He’s had this problem before but it’s never lasted this long. More than likely, it’s the drinking that’s causing his sexual dysfunction. I read a Harvard report on the Internet the other day about how alcohol can seriously affect a man’s sexual drive and performance. They also reported that stress could be a major factor in cases like this, too. Since Marty has been working a lot of extra hours, he’s probably stressed out, too. That’s certainly not helping us either, but he really needs to make an appointment for a complete physical examination; he hasn’t had one of those in over a year now. But I also wonder if there could be another woman behind this sudden case of impotency after seventeen years of marriage. I know Martin is not bold enough to be cheating on me, not after what his best friend just went through with his wife. Turning off the shower, her mind continued wandering about this situation.
Martin’s best friend, Michael Wayne, had slept with one of their employees last year. His wife, Alese, took their three-year-old daughter, Bianca, and left him after learning about the one night stand with a little help from Tina. She and Alese weren’t the best of friends, but they enjoyed each other’s company on special occasions considering their husband’s were best friends, and Tina had been Alese’s natural hairdresser for the last four years. She’d known Alese since she and Michael first started dating and liked her right away, although they didn’t share a lot of common interests. They did spend time together when they could, called each other every now and then, and saw each other on a semi-regular basis outside of the hair salon. Alese normally tightened her own locks, but she would come in for a professional style session with Tina whenever she was in the mood for something different. She and Martin had both been there for their friends in their time of need. He would never imitate Michael’s mistake.
Stepping out of the shower stall, she reached for her fluffy extra long peach towel to dry off her body. She wanted to press the issue with Marty again but just didn’t feel up to it this morning. She had quite a busy day awaiting her at the hair salon, and it would be in her best interest to get there as early as possible today. The shop had been so busy lately that she hadn’t had much time to do the major bookkeeping tasks. Besides, she couldn’t wait to get to the coffee house to get a hot steaming cup of her favorite drink, _mocha java express. The Insomnia Coffee House closed late and opened early so she never had a problem getting her fix no matter how late she worked or how early she managed to make it in. That hot creamy brew would have to be her sex again today. She was getting warm just from the thought of having the brown liquid slide down her throat and settle in the pit of her stomach, giving her the satisfying feeling that she dangerously craved this morning.
Tina took her time applying scented lotion to her red tone skin as she looked in the mirror at her expressive pure honey eyes and applied mascara to her long naturally curly eyelashes. She completed her make-up routine by applying Fashion Fair’s cream to powder foundation and her favorite shade of red lipstick, Forever Red, to her full lips. She decided to wear something colorful today since she was feeling quite down. Figuring that might give her the pick me up that she needed to get through the long day ahead, Tina chose a radiant orange, red, and gold duster pants set with an opulent border print and a solid orange collar to wear. Of course, she had the matching silk fabric mules and purse to complete her lively outfit. She pulled her blonde streaked micro braids up into a topknot and secured it with a silky orange scrunchy band.
Just as Tina was about to exit the bedroom, romantic thoughts entered her mind once again while standing with her hand on the doorknob. Turning towards the direction where her husband was sleeping quietly, she stood there looking at him for several seconds before returning to the side of the bed and gently planting a kiss on his forehead. Things may not have turned out the way she had planned last night or this morning, but she still loved him beyond a shadow of a doubt. Being angry with him was certainly not going to solve the problem. It would be in her best interest to play the loving, understanding role until this undetermined time period was over. Hopefully that would be real soon. Anyway, Martin didn’t stir, but he did mumble, “Good bye, and have a nice day. I love you.”
“I love you, too, baby, but we need to talk about our situation because I don’t want to live like this indefinitely, you know.”
“I hear you, babe. We’ll talk, I promise.”
“I hope so, Martin. I need you like crazy.”
“I need you, too. We’ll talk soon.”
Tina tipped through the bedroom doorway and quietly eased the door closed. Now that she was up and dressed, it was time to get her two sons, Malique and Jordan, up so that they could get dressed for school. Malique was the oldest at fifteen and in the tenth grade at Paxton High School. He was a sports fan just like his father and played in a starting position on the football team. Although Malique usually didn’t make the honor roll, he kept his grades up enough to maintain his spot on the field. And being the good looking, well developed young man that he was, the girls had already started calling him all times of the day and night wanting to go steady with him or at least be seen on one date with the handsome rising star. Jordan, on the other hand, didn’t care for sports at all. He had just turned eleven and was attending the sixth grade at Bayside Magnet Middle School. Being a typical nerdy guy, he consistently made the honor roll and excelled in math and science. When he wasn’t working on school projects, he could be found in his room playing the latest video game. It was almost as if he had become addicted to playing on those machines. As soon as he had reached the top score for one, he was ready for another one, which usually didn’t take very long at all. Jordan wasn’t worried about being teased at school for being a smart guy and neither was he concerned with the girls for that matter. If he had his video games, he was happy.
They were both very handsome, attractive, and outgoing boys but neither one was above average height. Considering that Tina was barely five-foot-one and Martin was just shy of five-foot-six, they didn’t expect their son’s to be taller than their father. But since Tina’s father was six-foot tall, there was a slim chance that they could be taller than either one of them expected.
Anyway, after Tina managed to get the boys up and out of the front door for school, she was ready to start her day at the Braids and Locks Hair Shop where she had been the sole proprietor for the last eleven years. She’d spent five years in the corporate world at IBM as a marketing consultant just to appease her parents after completing undergraduate business school at Jacksonville State University. Although Martin really wanted her to go into business with him and Michael, she decided to take on steady employment with a major company while he worked on building up M & M Incorporated. She never had any intentions of staying in the business world once Martin and Michael had their business up and running; it was time to do what her heart had always desired as a professional occupation.
Tina’s heart and soul had always been in hairdressing from the time she was a little girl braiding her dolls’ hair with colorful beads dangling from each braid. Later on as she became a teenager, she experimented with her own natural hair and all of her other friends’ hair whenever the opportunity arose. Her mother would even let her braid up her hair on the weekends when they had their special mother and daughter times. Tina shared her dreams with her parents and while they encouraged her to pursue hairstyling as a hobby, they never spoke of her owning a hair salon. They were pleased when she announced that she was going to business school to secure a degree in business marketing and then work for a major corporation. Secretly, she chose this major because she had every intention of becoming a business owner and being able to help Martin with his marketing strategies as well as promote her upcoming hair facility. Taking a steady job would temporarily provide for her family and give her the experience necessary to promote their beginning businesses.
Her mother, the lovely petite-sized, Delilah Sloan, had been employed at Jacksonville Memorial Hospital as a nutritional specialist for over twenty years. When she first arrived in the city for a summer internship out of Chicago, she didn’t intend on staying past the six-week program. However, after meeting her potential husband, Delilah decided to transfer to the Sunshine State and eventually settled down here. Tina’s father, the rather tall and admirable pediatrician, Dr. Malachi Sloan, was born and bred in the south. He had been in private practice with four fellow doctors for the last nine years. After being the head of the pediatrics unit at Shands Jacksonville Medical Center, he wanted more flexibility and status that could only come from being a private healthcare provider with a group of his distinguished peers.
Both parents had urged her to remain with a practical career. Of course, they only wanted the best for their daughter and did not consider hairdressing a prestigious enough career considering her pedigree. They both came from a family of doctors and since Tina was their only child, their hopes were for her to attend medical school or at least something in the medical field where she could receive a doctoral degree. Tina decided early on that was not in the cards for her, but she would appease them by receiving an undergrad degree in the field that would most benefit her career aspirations.
Tina was the apple of her father’s eye, and she could do no wrong as far as he was concerned. Her every wish was immediately his command. And while Delilah loved her only daughter, she didn’t appreciate her husband spoiling their child rotten. So as Tina grew to become a teenager, she and her mother began to drift apart. Not to the point where she was ever disrespectful to Delilah, but she was keenly aware that she had to tread lightly to have her way with that parent. However, her relationship with her mother became stronger once Tina reached adulthood and started dating Martin on a regular basis while in college. She had come to rely on her mother’s outspoken wisdom when it was needed.
When her parents were first introduced to Martin, Delilah took a strong liking to him right away, but Malachi openly disliked him and angrily dismissed him as a possible suitor for his princess. That’s when Delilah stepped in with encouraging words for Tina, “Child, please follow your heart, let Malachi simmer in his own juices until he decide to come around. Your father will eventually accept the man that you love as his son-in-law.” Well, Malachi had never accepted Martin as his son-in-law, but he was at least cordial to him on the special occasions that they shared as a family, especially after the birth of their two sons.
With the loving support of her husband, Tina had decided to leave the corporate world once Martin’s business started to turn a profit, and he was financially able to support their family. She enrolled at the Unique Natural Hair School for one year to become trained and licensed in cosmetology. Then she worked at the Natural Essence Hair Salon for a year before starting her own business. She had always enjoyed doing braids and favored natural hair styles. Tina had prophesized that this growing trend would be the wave of the future; she wanted to be one of the first stylists in Jacksonville to be able to capitalize on it. In the last five years, natural styles were really becoming a hit with the urban crowds. Tina’s hair designs had been featured in the major hair magazines, including Braids & More, Braids & Beauty, Hype Hair, and Natural Hair Styles. Winning several awards at hair conferences, she was proud of her many accomplishments and growing business. Becoming the Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Owner of the Year almost two years ago had been the highlight of her career.
All of their hard work as a couple was finally paying off now. They owned a beautiful champagne-colored, Tudor styled two-story, six-bedroom house in the primarily residential community of Jacksonville Beach, located east of the city between the Atlantic Ocean and the Coastal Waterway. This area is a solid business, resort, and residential community with over twenty-one thousand people where you’ll find miles of un-crowded white sandy beaches.
Naturally, Tina and Marty were proud to own their dream home where they could take romantic walks along the beach at any time of the day or night. They had lived in the house for the last eight years and were elated to find a place with three-bedrooms downstairs as well as three-bedrooms upstairs. The house was a joy for even the richest landowner to behold with eye-catching windows all around its perimeter. Inside, high ceilings and large-scale living spaces prevailed, beginning with the foyer, which was crowned by a two-story ceiling. Martin and she shared the oversized master bedroom on the bottom floor which also included a stone fireplace. The lush master bedroom was tastefully decorated in vibrant shades of peach, ivory, and green. The cherrywood furniture looked spectacular from every angle in the room, showcasing its own vaulted ceiling and two walk-in closets. The sky-lighted master bath featured a spa tub, a separate shower, and a dual sink vanity.
They converted one of the downstairs bedrooms into an office for Martin; and the other one was converted into a fully equipped exercise room for Tina. Unfortunately, Martin was hardly ever home long enough to use his warmly decorated office, and she didn’t have time to use any of the high tech exercise equipment after spending long days at the salon, but the extra space had inspired them to purchase the house. At least they had started out with good intentions.
In addition to the three-bedrooms downstairs, there was a great room for entertaining; a huge family room which offered a vaulted ceiling, a corner fireplace, and a big screen television; a game room with a professional-sized pool table; and a separate formal dining room from the kitchen and the breakfast nook. The main dining room table, made from solid maple wood, was large enough to accommodate up to eight people with a matching china cabinet displaying elaborate dishes and crystal. Even though she didn’t spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking, Tina adored the huge, all white facility with the oblong, smooth pebble island in the center for chopping and preparing foods. Right above the island was a custom made automatic rotating rack for hanging pots and pans. The S-curved arch over the kitchen window brought a sense of character to the all white room.
It had taken Tina almost two years of painstaking efforts to finally finish decorating the six thousand square foot house to suit her unique taste in furniture and decorations. Every piece had to be an original product that she had never seen anywhere else before or thought that no one else had. Some pieces had been flown from overseas retailers specifically for her eyes to inspect before making a permanent decision. She was especially drawn to the European designers and sometimes traveled overseas to do her own household shopping. Tina was also fascinated with a variety of African art stone carvings and Shona art sculptures. These pieces were individually hand carved and no two pieces were identical. Whatever piece she purchased was immediately removed from the catalog once it was shipped to her. Over the years, she had put together a large collection that was prominently displayed throughout their home. Some of the beautifully carved pieces weighed more than fifty pounds and were priceless.
Each of the boys had their own personally designed bedroom upstairs with a set of twin beds in each, including a state of the art computer center for their educational enrichment. Tina seldom bothered to climb the stairs to their rooms because she was content to let them have their own private domains. It was up to them to keep it clean and livable in between maid visits. Their work schedules made it impossible to maintain a properly cleaned house, so the Merry Maid Service was employed to send someone to their home at least twice a week. Last but not least, the lavishly decorated guest room, located to the right at the top of the stairs, was painted in a serene powder blue with a matching floral ensemble for the queen sized panel bed and window treatments.
Tina drove a new white convertible Chevrolet Corvette to work every day. Martin drove a black BMW X5 sports utility vehicle; they owned all the latest designer clothing, shoes, perfume, and jewelry that they wanted; they could travel whenever and wherever they desired while dining in the finest restaurants along the way. And Martin’s commercial business, M & M Software Development, Incorporated, which he co-owned with his best friend, Michael Wayne, was doing exceedingly well. He and Michael had been like brothers since their freshman year in college. Shortly after they both graduated from business school, almost twenty years ago, they opened up their software business together with each concentrating on his area of expertise. They shared a huge one-story brick office downtown with Martin’s office in one corner of the building and his partner’s office in the other corner side of the complex. Michael secured software development projects while Martin planned them out. All of the other major duties they split between the two of them and their fifty plus employees. Martin was over the Omega Team and Michael spearheaded the Alpha Team. Each team was composed of four head program designers who supervised a staff of at least five people including competent administrative support.
Tina was living the lifestyle that many African-American women only dreamed about, and she was enjoying every minute of it. Now if she could just help her husband get his groove back, she would truly be living in paradise.

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