Wednesday, October 31, 2007

FEATURED AUTHOR: Tracee L. Garner


Tracee Lydia Garner is a national best-selling author. Family Affairs was not the first story she wrote but it was the first successfully completed and the one she says started it all. FAMILY AFFAIRS appears in the All That & Then Some anthology with BET/Sepia Books. Family Affairs won the grand-prize award, receiving an advance, a book contract, a trip to New York to accept her award and most importantly having her work published by BET Books.

Her fourth release, Love Unchosen, is three books in one about the Watt women: three, entrepreneurial sisters on the brink of love.

Tracee maintains that she is a creative writer as well as a journalist that enjoys writing "how to" articles, and articles of personal experience, both tragic and inspirational on the disability, African-American and woman experience, not necessarily in that order.

Tracee maintains that as her writing career takes center stage, she will always be disabled, and thus she must and always will be committed to the advancement and removal of barriers for persons with disabilities.

Visit her website at http://www.teegarner.com/


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

The same things I hope all my projects deliver, a simple sense of hope about love, life and the future. Preliminary reviews have said that the book moves fast and I did this because I also wanted an underlying tone of that when it’s your time, it’s your time. I try to hold on to this for myself. That if it’s supposed to happen, it’s a whirlwind. God doesn’t waste time, though yes, to us it seems like it takes forever.

Writing this book, what did you learn about yourself and God?

If I just keep praying the words will come. I really had such a hard time with this book. I admit to resisting and I’m cool with saying it because no one ever talks about it and I’m like why not. Why doesn’t anyone talk about the decision to omit love scenes and do what God said do? I wonder what other ways could I show people consummate a relationship and not show love scenes? The bottom line, tell a good story, a love scene is one sometimes two and three pages and that’s just exhausting. LOL J Anywho, I got rid of them and I did have them in at one point, but I just felt convicted and took them out again. I still worry that people won’t like it because it doesn’t have love scenes and I still have had a few church people telling me oh it’s all right, girl, that’s what people like and that’s not a big deal but people fornicating in one of my books, yes I said it, is a big deal to me! I’m not judging anyone. What people do is their business, I do miss my love scenes, I miss the love scenes in books I read, but I’ll get over it. I did what was right for me. I read back over Love Unchosen and think this is still good even without the love scene, in some ways I’m amazed, in other ways it’s like God says, “My child, please! You exhaust Me, I told you!”

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

That I was so good at telling a story... And I’m not bragging. I didn’t know what I was. I still struggle with knowing what my direction and purpose is supposed to be doing/going; but I would have just felt better about whatever it was I meant to do here on this earth had I had an earlier validation. And not just so much validation cause I think becoming a good writer comes from my disability and experiencing things which then takes age and growth (AND TIME) and painful times of isolation but just the something, whether it was writer or what. I’m glad, at 24 I won the BET First Time Writer’s contest, and I’m still writing and everything is for an appointed time, but along with my writing came increased steam, and better self esteem and a coping mechanism and okay, being eternally hard on myself, yes, I get mad at myself sometimes for being so slow to get it. Yes, I know it happens when it happens, but still, my mind tells me, erroneously so, that I’m late once again that perhaps I should have been here already (if only I’d pay attention and stop goofing off).

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

That books aren’t perfect all the time. I still get upset when reviewers, the critics, say things, like “as an avid reader of so and so’s work this wasn’t her best.” I’m not mad, that’s what they do, but just frustrated. It’s like film, there are a couple of flops for some actors, oh well, you keep moving on. What’s more, no one has said this about me yet and I’m sure they will at some point, but why say it at all? If you don’t like, you just don’t like it, more often then not, you’ll pick up book two and three to keep giving a person a chance. Why write a really, really bad review just for the sake of writing it?

Tell us why you jumped from romance to Christian fiction?

Even I as a human being have a set place to be. I use a wheelchair and I have, according to doctor’s (limited) knowledge, a “neuromuscular disease”. For other people, in layman’s terms, I’m a Jerry’s Kid and I have Muscular Dystrophy (MD), labels get on my nerves, but I had to pick some place to be simply so I can be placed on a shelf next to similar genres. I chose to write, what I feel is still a sensual story without depicting the consummation of the relationship. I still feel because I showed two people in bed together “naked” rethinking being in bed together (they feel a conviction come over them, too J ) that I still may be tossed out of the Christian fiction realm. I’m sure there are specific guidelines for each of these categories because I have read them, and I don’t know that I’ve adhered to ALL of them well enough.

In self publishing there’s no editor telling me to do a, b, and c, to make it fit. And yes, that was a looooonnngggg way of answering this question, the short answer is that it’s simply closest to where the general public, the booksellers will place me and it’s what I’ve been convicted to do.

What do you do to make time for yourself?

I love to shop, though I’ve been trying to curtail that. I am into cultural things and just this summer I saw The Color Purple in New York (with Fantasia) and it was awesome. I almost felt as if the spirit of playwriting came over me but we shall see. It’s coming to Baltimore, MD too, which is closer to where I live, and I enjoyed it so much, I’ll be front and center to see it again in 2008.

Let’s see, I try to write a list of the things I’m going to do every year. Sometimes it gets tossed out the window. I do manage a few things on it that includes museums, eateries, plays, movies, a new task or hobby and etc; things that I would like to see, learn and do. I also have a life list which has received a lot of talk about in the past; there are about 101 things to do on it and I hope to do each and every one of them. I’ve done quite a few things on the list and forgot about the list, so I really believe in the power of writing it down and even the subconscious knows, hey, you wrote to do this and you’re going to do it, whether you remember us or not!

I love making lists; it gets it out of my brain and just allows me to chill. I have tons and tons and just making time to write them, to write about my experience after doing something is “me time” to me.

Other than that, reading, writing, and chilling out. Oh my new thing, I’m addicted to watching old school on You Tube. What a great invention. Rene and Angela, Luther Vandross, and New Edition, I could spend hours on that site alone.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

One of the most surprising things I have discovered is that I enjoy marketing, proposal writing and teaching about writing more than I do novel writing (it's second, I just like the first three the absolute most). By the time (usually before) a book is finished, I have a zillion plans for its promotional debut. Most of the time, I'm so busy planning marketing aspects I forget, "girl you can't do none of this if you don't have an actual book." So I LOVE event planning, having a book party and I love teaching at my alma mater, an eight week course entitled How to Write the Romance Novel. This course, to some people's surprise, has done well. I've been teaching that since 2004. I also taught Promotion and Marketing for the Small Business, hint, hint, and had fun with that too.

What aspect of God do you most hope readers will take away after reading your book?

That He is on time. I want to give up sometimes too. We get tired, but if you just hold on, it's coming. I try to tell myself this too and at times I'm like yeah right, I've been waiting forever. I think as I grow, as my writing grows, I can begin to tackle more and more issues, delving deeper to our place in life, God's will and answering those questions that plague us, or at least plague me, "What about if it never comes?" And "it" could be love, but "it" is really anything that people are waiting for, waiting to do, waiting to change, and etc. No matter what "it" is, it is difficult and we have to trust the Master and I'd be the first to admit I have days I question everything and get angry, but eventually I come back to Him (usually after crying and drinking tons of coffee) and say okay, lets (me and Him) go ahead and wait some more, and by the way, could You make a sale at Marshalls, I'm about to run over there.

What one thing about writing do you wish other writers would understand?

I don’t know that there is anything I wish other writers would understand. What’s right for them is what’s right for them. We are our own selves, meaning we understand what the issues are for us. So that’s either a tough question or it’s just what I said that my understanding is different from another’s understanding and to each his own way of doing things.

What is a favorite book from your childhood?

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Superfudge – pretty much anything by Judy Blume

Do you ever have a hard time letting go of a character after the novel is finished?

I mourn the end of ALL my books – it’s like the character died, but I tell myself that they have moved on with their lives and sometimes they get reincarnated in new characters I create, so some have never left me completely. I visit with them through thoughts, and think about what they would be doing now, which usually simply means having a family, moving up in their careers, whatever they do often echoes or symbolizes what I’m doing or what I want to do with myself and my own life.

What should a new writer know about the publishing business?

Keep your emotional ties in check. I have grown up so much since winning BET’s first time writer’s contest. It was so awesome and in 2001 when I won, I put on, learned my business attire well. I took a chance, yes, by using AuthorHouse with this project but it’s great. It’s tougher self publishing, there are still some obstacles out there, but nothing compares to the rewards.

Honestly, can I also just say that life is so short and all I really wanted was a cartoon cover. Sounds silly but I’d have to wait forever to reach this status so I worked with a designer and created my own. Total creative control! And I get to write what I want my way. No one telling me oh that’s too garish, or too bold and for heaven’s sake I get to let people kiss and grope just a little in MY versions. Some Christian fiction is just too stringent, I mean really, don’t these people get worked up or have issues with their own desire? Sure they do, well at least they do in real life and I want my book to seem like real life; where people get a little ahead of themselves but still have values and reel it in, not go around acting like they are nuns and clergy in a convent.

I think Tyler Perry has mastered that, giving us the sensuality without the raunchiness and that’s ultimately what I want to do.

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

The best part of writing is that initial spark of an idea. It comes just like water when you flip the faucet switch, then something happens and the water stops. I like it to that movie, one of my favorites “The Money Pit” with Tom Hanks and Shelley Long. The beauty is on the outside, the book cover, the thoughts about where this story is going, those beautiful characters, the possibility of love cause of the genre in which I write. As keep going, however, as you keep writing, there are kinks, things don’t quite flow and as writer/detective you have to find a way to fix it. Fixing it can be costly (in time), exciting in your thoughts about finishing, getting to the final renovation but trying on your love for the craft overall. The wonderful part the beginning, the not- so-much hated, but more so dreaded, is the editing, the combing of your prose to find within it a good story where you’ve done everything you need to bring it all home.

Was there ever a time in your writing career you thought of quitting?

I pretty much did quit for about three years, I wrote on and off, but really just did not focus on it. I yearned to get back to it and follow through but it was just frustrating when I needed to complete my academic aspirations, get a steady-paying job to pay my bills, and really fund a writing project if I was going to self publish. Those things hindered me and some might say you can do both if your really want to, but for me and my stamina, I could not. It just didn’t happen and I could actually feel myself become grumpy by not having a book out, so I graduate on Saturday, May 10, 2008 at 9 a.m., a job is on it’s way right around graduation and I hope to publish book five. Sometimes you can quit, but for a time, and you can come back to it. When you quit and it’s not right, it will call you back and say uh, huh, you mean to do this, go finish that other stuff and we’ll be here when you make up your mind and come on back. That’s what writing said.

What was the last conference you attended and what did you like about it?

I can’t remember the last conference I went to that was writing related. I’ve been to a work conference and I always learn something new there. I’m looking forward to Romance Slam Jam (RSJ) April, 2008 www.romanceslamjamconference.com just to connect and see so many people I haven’t seen in years. RSJ was one of the first conferences I attended as a published author. It was in North Carolina and friend/mentor Jacquelin Thomas was the host. It was just so neat, so welcoming, it was like “Welcome. . . you author, you”. I know that sounds silly, however, I think overall, it was the respect and the surprise too that I had written a book! I’m also looking forward to the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention also in the month of April next year.

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?

I think writers are a little weird so I think that they really and truly NEED to maintain hold of that in order to produce good writing. I just try to keep myself together through my church which I love, writing my personal thoughts (journaling), talking with the Lord, praying and shopping and book hoarding. J Other ways to keep sanity is to just be all right with creating other worlds (no, not to the point of schizophrenia) but as a healthy means of controlling your own world and exacting whatever you want (happy things, I hope) in it. I escape in my mind often particularly when I feel limited, at times, by this body and it helps ME tremendously.

If you could have a conversation with one of your characters who would it be and why?

I’m not sure, that is a really great question! I love all my characters and I wish I were the heroine for ALL my men characters EXCEPT Jojo because that’s my brother and yuck, oohey, the only time we converse is if he has orders for me (he’s military). I know everyone is in love with him (Jojo), oh well, like gag me with a spoon. . . but um, let’s see, probably my latest male character, Romayo Payton. He is the middle story in Love Unchosen. He’s now raising his nephew after his sister-in-law dies of cancer. I think this was the best story in Love Unchosen, though I love Ellie and Geena’s story too. But what is it like for a man to raise a child he knows nothing about, be stuck with him so to speak, living willy-nilly, without a care and then change, be with this young man, still be successful though his world is turned upside down? I think he’d be very interesting. Okay, okay so his name is Romayo, he’s gotta be good looking. I probably wouldn’t converse at all, I’d just sit there and stare at his bedroom eyes, then pass out or something.

What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?

One of the greatest roadblocks to my writing was probably myself. I let the fact that I had a disability limit my mind (or try to) from being able to tour. It didn’t stop me in the end, but at the time, I send this long drawn out e-mail to my publisher and mentioned that I was disabled and that touring might be such an issue. I really believe that little comment shot me in the foot. From then on I promoted, and promoted, arranged my own signings and then my mother drove me to every one of them. I made the promotion tasks much more complicated then they had to be and I think my comment to my publisher limited their mind as well in that I didn’t get any real backing whatsoever. I set my own self up only to find out I could do just as much if not more than the first person. What I also discovered is that people do not need any help whatsoever placing limits on you. Keep your mouth shut about your situation and do whatever you CAN do.


ABOUT THE BOOK:

The Watts sisters have spent most of the lives focused on their careers-until big sister Geena launches her own design company, Watts Your Style. Not only does she find success, but she finds true love with her client Dr. Justin Webster, a recovering alcoholic. After getting married and giving birth to her son, Geena looks to her sisters to help run her company and hopes in the process they, too, will find true love.

At her older sibling's request, middle sister Vashton returns to Virginia from North Carolina where she has run to escape the demons of her past and finds herself falling head over heels for Romeyo Payton, her ex-best friend's brother-in-law who is raising his nephew.
At her sisters' urging, baby girl, Ellie, relocates her virtual job as a professional organizer to help out as well. When rude client Husten Montgomery comes in with his bratty daughter, Ellie is determined to ignore her attraction and stay as far away as possible from the handsome man to avoid reminders of the loss of her own daughter.

Despite their close bond and their drive, each sister comes to realize true love is the greatest gift of all.

Love Unchosen: A Novel by Tracee Garner
ISBN-10: 1434320715
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Release Date: September 2, 2007
Genre: Juvenile Fiction
$17.99 from Amazon.com

Monday, October 29, 2007

AUTHOR INTRO: Sherryle Kiser Jackson


Sherryle Kiser Jackson: I am a former teacher and Educational Consultant. A wife, and mother of two, I began reciting poetry as part of the Prince Georges County Poets Connection and the Blues City Poetry Series. My debut novel, Soon nd Very Soon will be released in December 2007 on Urban Christian Publishing.

Tell us about your current book?

Soon and Very Soon is a twist on a classic love story: they meet, they marry, they combine everything, even their churches. Of course that doesn't sit too well with select members in their congregations so literally all hell breaks loose. The Pastors struggles with their pusrsuit of love and right relationship with the Lord and the people they lead.

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

Soon and Very Soon gives you a realsitic look at the lives of our spiritual leaders. They are real people. This book challenges the notion that religion can be altered to fit one's motives.

What inspired this story?

I very much wanted to write a story about my first love the church. I wanted it to unfold in the pews: I wanted you to hear the choir, feel the testimonies and see the deliverance. But, I was determined to make the character real, not rely on carictures or sterotypes of "church folk."

What did you learn while writing this book?

I learned that a First Lady has a unique ministry to minister to the man/woman that people rely on. They have the same pain, fear and disappointment that plagues their soul when the doors of the church aren't open.

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

http://www.urbanchristianonline.com/
http://www.christianchronicles.wetpaint.com/

www.myspace.com/sherrylejackson

email- sherrylek@aol.com

Saturday, October 27, 2007

FEATURED AUTHOR FOR 2008

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Friday, October 26, 2007

CHAPTER EXCERPT: Opening Jerred's Eyes


Opening Jerred's Eyes: For to Open His Eyes Would Be to Capture His Heart

by Sylvia Holloman

PublishAmerica
ISBN-10: 1424164796

Jerred Turner, for the first time in many years feels complete. Not only has he been given a second chance with his son, but he had been given a second chance at love! But, Evette has a secret, and when Jerred finds out, things get Funky!

The next morning Evette got up and fixed them something to eat, she was going to head home to get her things and bring them back. She really needed to work on her latest book. Her editor was expecting it soon. Evette had left Jerred in the bed sleeping. She was on her way to wake him up. As Evette entered the living room, there he was, looking so fine! He had thrown on a pair of jeans and a shirt, the shirt wasn't buttoned up, and neither were his jeans. Jerred pulled her into his chest and held her tightly.

Jerred kissed Evette with such power she melted into his chest, and hung on for dear life. When the kiss ended it took Evette a moment to catch her breath.

"Jerred honey, I have to get going."

"No, I don't want you to leave, stay." Jerred ran his hands down her backside and gave her a big squeeze.

"Don't start that! You started that last night, that's why I'm still here! Now let me get my shoes on I need to leave."

"This is where you belong, baby, with me."

Evette got a very serious look about her. She had wanted to ask Jerred a question for a while now, especially after the weekend they had spent together. Evette had watched Jerred as he held Mya and Quintin's baby. She wanted to ask him then but didn't. She hadn't felt the timing was right. But maybe this was the right time.

"Jerred? Where is this relationship going, I mean, are you interested in more than what we have? Or are we just wasting each others time."

Jerred was just about to kiss her again, when her words stopped him. "Oh no baby, don't start that. Why can't we just enjoy being with each other. I like the way things are, don't you?"

"As a matter of fact, no, I don't. You see, I have given you something I swore I would only give to the man I marry. So if I've made a mistake then I need to know now before I continue to waste anymore of your time."

"Dammit Evette. Why do we have to do this right now? What do you what from me? I said I love you, isn't that enough?"

"Jerred this it's fair to me, I love you too, but I want a future with you. I want to carry your child inside of me."

"You know I can't promise you a child. Evette what happens if our baby has sickle cell? You have no idea what that was like for me or for Mya. Baby I left my wife and my son because I couldn't handle it. Why can't we get married and just be happy with each other?"

"Because I want to have your child. You can't run from reality for the rest of your life Jerred. I can't promise you our child won't have anemia, but I can promise you that you will be a great father to our child. If only you would let go of your fears. Open your eyes honey, people live with worse everyday. If we love each other enough we can get through anything."

Jerred sounded as if he were exhausted. "Baby, we have Evan, isn't that enough?"

Evette pushed away from Jerred, she was loosing the battle of fighting back her tears. She turned and grabbed her purse and headed for the front door. Jerred was fast on her heels.

His voice was loud and demanding. "Evette, don't you walk out that door!"

She stopped for a second as she dug in her purse, she produced a silver key ring that held a single key. She turned towards Jerred.

"Here, I won't be needing this anymore." Evette placed the key in his large hand and ran out the door.

He stood there, he couldn't think straight. Tears were rushing down his face. He felt lost, as if his world would no longer turn if she were not a part of it.

Evette finally got her car door open and slide in the driver seat. That was as far as she could go. Her heart was pounding so fast and her body shook uncontrollably. She placed her head on the steering wheel and just cried.

There was a small knock on the window, but she ignored it. Then her door opened and she felt her lovers hands grab for her. Jerred pulled her legs out and placed her shoes on her feet.
Jerred's voice was drenched with emotions. "Baby, you forgot your shoes." He then laid his head in her lap and held onto her as tight as he could.

Evette was too afraid to touch him, she knew if she did she would be lost in him forever. So she sat there, afraid to touch him, and afraid not to.

"Evette baby, don't leave like this, come back inside so we can talk. Baby here take your key back. Come inside."

"Jerred I can't. Please let me go."

"What about next weekend, we are suppose to go see Evan and my mother? You are still going aren't you?"

"No."

"Okay, I can understand you feeling like that now, but maybe in a day or so you will feel different. Baby, Evan will be so hurt if you don't make it."

"Give Evan my love. Explain it to your mother anyway you want, but I can't do this anymore. I love you Jerred, now please move."

Jerred made sure she still held onto the key before he kissed her on the forehead and backed up so she could close the car door and drive off. He didn't remember going back inside his house, he only remembered waking up hours later, alone and with a broken heart.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

ARE YOU READING THIS?

Girl, Naw!
by Lacricia, A Peters

ANTOINETTE WALKER HAS SEEN THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY. THOSE THAT KNOW AND RESPECT HER THINK SHE HAS IT ALL; A WONDERFUL HUSBAND, CHILDREN THAT THRIVE IN SCHOOL, AND A COUNSELING PRACTICE THAT IS GROWING BY LEAPS AND BOUNDS. BUT WHEN HIDDEN THINGS FROM HER PAST BEGIN TO SURFACE, THEY THREATEN TO DESTROY EVERYTHING ANTOINETTE LOVES.

ONLY GOD CAN GIVE HER THE STRENGTH TO CONTINUE TO COUNSEL OTHER WOMEN, AS SHE STRUGGLES WITH HER OWN ISSUES OF FORGIVENESS. WILL HER FAITH BE STRONG ENOUGH TO HELP HER STAND IN THE MIDST OF OPPOSITION?




Publisher: HIS PEN PUBLISHING LLC

Month Published: NOVEMBER 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0-979-8020-03

"Forgiveness is much easier said than done. Through her debut novel, Lacricia Peters will challenge her readers to take a good look at what it really means to be able to release the private pains of the past and find true wholeness through the love of Jesus Christ." ~ Kendra Norman-Bellamy

Lacricia Peters
Novelist ~ Evangelist
www.lacriciapeters.com
www.hispenpublishing.com
www.myspace.com/lacriciap

Monday, October 22, 2007

OCT FEATURED AUTHOR: Monique Lamont


Monique Lamont: Born and raised in San Diego, CA and now currently resides in Virginia with her loving husband and two wonderful children. She loves to travel, read and write. Holding degrees in both education and counseling, she’s always enjoyed working with people. For eleven years, she has served proudly in the Air Force. Currently, she is pursing her M.A. in English and Professional Writing. Fondly, she holds a membership with Chesapeake Romance Writers.

In her stories she loves taking the impossible and making it possible, sensual and believable in a story. She has been writing since sixteen and working toward perfecting her skill ever since. In 2003, she published her first book while living in Europe Merger for Life. Since then she has won the publisher’s award for her second book Double Take. She went on to publish Healing Hearts, Freedom’s Quest (Merlicious 2), Fire and Desire and Passion’s Blood (Vegas Bites Back). Stay on the look out, because there are many more to come.

Visit Monique at her blogsite: http://moniquelamont.blogspot.com/


She loves to hear from her readers: rmancn_u@yahoo.com

Tell us about your current book?

The next book coming out is Fire and Desire, releases this fall with Parker Publishing, LLC.

Trevor Lewis a computer business owner has the contract of a lifetime at his door with the governor’s old firm and flames of revenge in his heart he just cannot shake loose. Five years ago, a man stole something precious from Trevor. Finally, opportunity knocks giving Trevor a chance to settle the score with his old college nemesis, through the other man’s fiancĂ©. Tiffany Hatcher is a highly sought after party coordinator and the daughter of the governor. When she plans a secret bachelorette party in Las Vegas, too include a stripper name The Fireman. Things go from hot to scorching…fast.

Tiffany is appalled at her own behavior when she awakens to find herself hung over, in a strange bed and married to the dancer from the night before--Trevor Lewis. Life can’t get more complicated for Tiffany as she attempts to get a divorce, manage her father’s career and run her own company. To make matters worse, every time her so-called husband shows up, it becomes harder for her to resist the passionate desire she feels for him. She soon finds she can’t hang on much longer, something has got to give.

Trevor, her elusive and mysterious husband is determined it will not be him. As he pushes Tiffany toward accepting his love, her own sensuality and learning to live life outside of her father’s shadow, he discovers that she is not the only one caught in a tangled web of emotions. But can Trevor decide to walk away from his revenge in hopes of having a future with the woman he loves.

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

That love inspires. When a person truly loves you, they support and give you the nudge you need to reach your personal and career potentials in life.

What inspired this story?

We used to have a black governor in Virginia. He didn’t have a wife like most politician, but his adult daughter traveled, conducted speeches and was always by his side. I used to wonder what her life was like. If she wasn’t representing her father’s career how different would her life have been.

What did you learn while writing this book?

It’s not so much what I learned as what I remembered. In life, a lot of things and people hurt us. It’s important to do what we can to release that pain so that revenge doesn’t build to the level of destroying us or the people we love. Of course, this is a romance so it turns out well in the end, but as a counselor, I’ve seen things turn out differently.

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

I love my genre. I love writing romance in all it’s forms. Creating a character that comes to life in my mind and my readers is exciting. Rejections. No matter how many you get, it never gets easier.

What are three things you wish you'd known before you reached where you are now?

I wish I knew that re-writes are okay. I wanted so much to hold on to the original version of my first book. That years later I had to pull it, because I was shocked at how poorly I told a great story. The second thing is I learned honest critique partners help you more then those who give you kind words. Lastly, how to promote myself from book one.

What should a new writer know about the publishing business?

It’s tough to get in but not impossible. Finish that first and second book. No, publisher wants a one hit wonder. Go to as many conferences as you can, to learn and get appointments to pitch your book. There’s nothing like being able to put requested material on an envelope.

What do you do to make time for yourself?

I spend my free time with my family. We go to the movies, park, out to dinner. Our favorite thing to do is take a family holiday. That means no school, work or writing…we spend the whole day with each other, no cell phones or outsiders included.

How can readers get in contact with you?

Readers can e-mail me at rmancn_u@yahoo.com. My blog is another place they can track my books and the contests I’m holding. http://moniquelamont.blogspot.com/

Saturday, October 20, 2007

HOT BOOKS NEWSLETTER - Join Today

Would you like to know what’s hot on the shelves?

Every Friday we introduce some of the latest releases.

The best part – it’s FREE!

All you have to do is sign up to receive it.

Click here – http://visitor.constantcontact.com/email.jsp?m=1101726524994

You’ll receive your first issue on Friday.

EXAMPLE ISSUE - http://sormagtours.blogspot.com/2007/10/hot-books.html

HOT BOOKS – Features all genres (fiction and non-fiction). Would you like to promote your book in HOT BOOKS?– click here: http://sormag.com/AUTHOR.html

Thursday, October 18, 2007

AUTHOR INTRO: Suzetta M. Perkins


Suzetta M. Perkins

I am a native of Oakland, California, but now reside in Fayetteville , North Carolina. I am co-founder and President of the Sistahs Book Club. Professionally, I am Secretary of the University at Fayetteville State University, my alma mater.

I have had a love for writing since I was a teenager in high school, where I was the co-editor of my school yearbook. I’m a dreamer, and writing allows me to dream beyond the boundaries of my immediate environment. A Love So Deep is my second novel following my debut novel Behind the Veil. I am also a contributing author of My Soul to His Spirit, an anthology that was featured in the June 2005 issue of Ebony magazine and winner of the 2006 Fresh Voices Award.


Tell us about your current book:

A Love So Deep is about a widower, Graham, who has just lost the love of his life and finds new life in the form of a beautiful, sultry nightclub singer, Rita. However, there is a long line of people—Graham’s two grown daughters, a best friend, and the lady at the church who has the hots for him that does not want to see this relationship last. But Rita brings baggage of her own in the form of an ex-husband and former NBA player, who is exploiting her for money. At one point, things turn potentially violent when the best friend becomes jealous of Graham and Rita’s relationship

Graham and Rita must give each other all that they have as they fight to survive in this story of passion, betrayal, destruction, and redemption.


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

For those who have lost a loved one, I want them to know that there is life after death. And if should you find someone new in your life and fall in love again, know that even against all the obstacles you may face, true love will not fail.


What inspired this story?

Six years ago, my parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Shortly thereafter, my mother suffered a heart attack and passed away. My father’s grief was so deep. Even today, he’s a lonely man because he has not let my mother completely go. So I wrote a story to let him know that he can live again, Mom won’t mind because they had the best life together.


What did you learn while writing this book?

I learned and didn’t admit upfront that I was grieving, too. This story helped to assuage my own grief.


How can readers get in contact with you?

Readers can reach me via my website, www.suzettaperkins.com; email, nubianqe2@aol.com, and P.O. Box 64424, Fayetteville, NC 28306.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Writing Tips

Every Tuesday we will feature Writing Tips from the web.

One of our goals for SORMAG is to help the new writer on their path of publication.

Some of the tips will come from our online conference and from you. If you written an article about the craft or business of writing. Send me a query. We'll pay $25.00

If you need help in a subject, let me know and I'll see what I can find to help. Leave your requests in this section.

Our first tip comes from Dee Stewart. She did a great workshop on Basic Writing. If you missed it, here's your chance to see what you missed. Please don't leave comments, because Dee isn't replying.

Monday, October 15, 2007

OCT 07 EXCERPT: Watercolored Pearls


Watercolored Pearls
By Stacy Hawkins Adams
(An Excerpt)

Serena, Erika, Tawana: Three women at different places in life lurk at the same crossroads —looking to God and each other for answers on how to find beauty in themselves and in their journeys. A page-turning story of how God can use life's shameful and less-than-perfect circumstances to create something beautiful.

Today the tears stopped.
The way her mother looked at her this morning told Tawana if she didn’t pull herself together, she’d soon find herself admitted to a local hospital.
“You’ve been crying for two weeks and you won’t tell me why. Misha doesn’t hear you every night but I do. You’re losing weight, drinking bottle after bottle of wine and using all the tissue in the house. What is going on with you, Tawana? Do I need to call a doctor?”
Mama had ranted before, but today she picked up the yellow pages to find some help.
Tawana dashed over and snatched the book from her.
“No, Mama! I’m fine; I just have a lot on my mind.”
“I can see that, Tawana.”
Ms. Carter extended her hand for Tawana to return the phone book.
“Since you won’t talk to me, you’re going to talk to someone. I didn’t come up here with you to this highfalutin’ place, so this fancy education you’re gettin’ could drive you crazy. Misha needs you.”
She formed a thin line with her lips, but Tawana already knew what her mother was too proud to admit: she needed her too.
Tawana fell to her knees in front of her mother and laid her head on her lap. Sobs wracked her body.
Ms. Carter rubbed her daughter’s back and wept too.
“What is it, Tawana? What is wrong?”
When the tears finally abated, Tawana sat back and wiped her eyes with the heels of her hands.
“I don’t want to talk about it, Mama, but I’m going to be okay. I’m sorry I’ve scared you; it’s just been a stressful time. It’s going to be alright.”
Ms. Carter stared at Tawana, wanting to believe her.
“One of them boyfriends did something to you, didn’t he?”

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

OCT 07 eTours: Darrell King


How Do You Want It, by Darrell King

Darrell King has completed the much anticipated "How Do You Want It" which brings the dark days of the 1980's crack era to life once again through the exploits of a lovely, yet unbelievably brutal female thug.


Email Darrell @fuskieboy@yahoo.com
Visit the other stops on the tour

eTour Stop #1:Marguerite Press website where avid readers, writers, event planners, and literary organizations will find the Speakers Bureau, and the ever-popular, Around2It Talk Show with host, Delores "Queen of Promotion" Thornton.
eTours

eTour Stop #2:Let's Talk Honestly, a site of African American opinion, poetry, news, and literature all hosted by George Cook host of his weekly online talk show LTH WEEKLY. Join us to check out great poetry and author interviews.
George L. Cook III author of Let's Talk Honestly Vol. 2 A book of poetry and essays on African American Issues Read ebook for free here:
Lets Talk Honestly

eTour Stop #3:Sexy Ebony BBW African American Book Club is dedicated to reading and discussing literature by black authors. Our goal is to create a forum where readers can explore African American authors and the books they are creating for our reading pleasure. We also want to create a community of readers ready and willing to share their love for reading and just a bit of themselves with like-minded individuals.
Anyone interested in joining can visit our website.
Sexy Ebony BBW Book Club

eTour Stop #4:SORMAG is the blog to click on to meet the hottest multi-cultural authors hitting the book shelves. We have reviews of their latest book releases and we keep you current on what’s happening in the literary world. The best part, it’s interactive. You can leave a comment for a chance to win a SORMAG goody bag. Click on our link and tell us what you think.
SORMAG
eTour Stop #5:LeRue Press, LLC is committed to helping writers publish and promote their work. Writers benefit from both Internet and traditional publishing and promotion including Marguerite Press Author eTours. With a variety of poetry, children's books like "Pick Me, Pick Me!" by Elizabeth Horton, and opportunities to write and be published in the "History of", we invite you to join LeRue Press, and find your voice and your chance to be published.
We here at LeRue Press are thrilled to be a part of eTours with Marguerite Press! And, we would like to offer the eTours authors' books for sale on our site. Our listing service is free. If the author's book sells, we handle the entire process. All they need to do is read and sign our agreement at:www.leruepress.com/bookagreement.html and forward a copy of the book.
The agreement lists the terms of sale. We only ask 9% of the sale price (less the Pay Pal fees). Our agreement clearly outlines what we expect. We hope this is a win-win for the author and for us. We hope by including the book along with the eTour, the authors will sell more books!
LeRue Press

eTour stop #6:C&B Books caters to aspiring and self-published authors who tend to have limited capital and resources. We researched and discovered others who shared our mission. More than just promoting and supporting, C&B is a resourceful research center as well. We refer authors to our network of contacts, such as book clubs, publishers, editors, reviewers, radio stations, public access television, book fairs and expos. Our primary goal includes, organizing book signings, delivering press kits, promotional materials to bookstores, and agents.
C&B Books

eTour stop #7:Nevaeh Publishing Dwan Abrams is a full-time novelist/publisher/speaker. She's the author of Only True Love Waits, The Scream Within and Favor (short story appearing in The Midnight Clear: Stories of Love, Hope and Inspiration anthology). Dwan is the founder, publisher and executive director of the newly formed Nevaeh Publishing, LLC. Nevaeh Publishing is a small press independent publishing house. Nevaeh Publishing was established to assist aspiring African-American Christian/Inspirational writers with getting published. Our goal is to become the premier literary Web site for Christian readers and writers.
Nevaeh Publishing

eTour stop #8:Book Nibbler Reader's Community So how do you read a good book? One “nibble” at a time! Book Nibbler is a targeted reader’s community currently covering ten genres. You choose what type(s) of book you would like to read and Monday through Friday, we’ll send you a preview—no longer than five minutes out of your day—to “nibble” on. It IS that easy.
Founder/ Cassandra Vaughn
Book Nibbler

eTour stop # 9Delores Thornton The home of Delores "Queen of Promotion" Thornton
Delores Thornton

eTour stop # 10 Margie Gosa-Shivers, author of, "Once Is Never Enough"If you had a whimper of a chance to win back the love of your life, would you grab it? Against all expectations, a Chicago homicide detective who's ready to move for a career with the FBI finds himself wrestling with the notion when he agrees to face danger once more to prove a suicide was really a homicide.
Margie Gosa Shivers

Monday, October 08, 2007

OCT AUTHOR INTRO: Lyn Cote


Lyn Cote's journey to becoming a published author was a long one - she started her first book when her daughter was 13 months old and her first novel was published when her daughter was about to enter high school. But Lyn was writing for a market that hadn't taken shape yet - the inspirational fiction market.

In 1996, Lyn Cote's first inspirational historical manuscript was a finalist in the Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart Contest. This became her first historical novel, Whispers Of Love, in her BLESSED ASSURANCE series.

Most recently, Chloe, the first novel in Lyn's "Women of Ivy Manor" historical series was a 2006 RWA Rita Award finalist for Best Inspirational, as well as a finalist for the Holt Medallion and the National REaders Choice Contest.

Lyn also writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense. She lives in the lovely northwoods of Wisconsin with her husband and three cats. Aside from writing, she also likes to knit, crochet, read, and do lunch with friends.

BLESSED ASSURANCE:

Now available for the first time in one edition--All three novels from Lyn Cote's beloved Blessed Assurance series

In Whispers of Love, Civil War widow Jessie Wagstaff must fend for herself and her son. When a stranger, Lee Smith, befriends Jessie's son, even though she recognizes nine-year-old Linc's need for a father figure, she's reluctant to let a new man into their life. When the Great Chicago Fire blazes, every heart is pushed to its limits.

In Lost In His Love, Jessie's son Linc, a social activist and reporter, charms his way through the upper class of San Francisco to build much-needed support for his fight against child labor. His main target is Cecilia Jackson, a beautiful heiress who doesn't recognize the crucial part she plays in this dangerous exploitation. As the secrets of her family's dark past are exposed, Cecilia must revive her own wounded spirit and find the strength to lean on the never-failing love of Christ. But when the 1906 earthquake hits, everyone's faith will be put to the test.

In Echoes of Mercy, Meg Wagstaff challenges the racial barriers of 1920s New Orleans in order to prove that her childhood friend did not commit murder. The stubborn lawyer prosecuting the case, Gabriel St. Clair, is an authentic Southern gentleman who makes the mistake of underestimating Meg, both her tenacity and her charm. Despite their many differences, sparks begin to fly. But when Meg discovers the truth, will Gabe be able to protect her from those who can't afford to have justice prevail?

Visit Lyn at: http://www.booksbylyncote.com/

OCT EXCERPT: Blessed Assurance


Blessed Assurance
by Lyn Cote


Three generations in the Wagstaff familyface and conquer the challenges of their times and plumb the depths of human and divine love. This is a reissue of Lyn's first historical series published originally in 1999-2000.

CHAPTER ONE

April 9, 1871

Would the baby live? He'd survived the night, thanks be to God. But would he finally be able to keep liquids down today? The dark-skinned baby in Jessie's arms drew a deep, a wonderful breath. She kissed the baby’s slightly cooler forehead. She'd bathed the fevered child all night long. Trembling with fatigue, she slumped onto the old rocker. Would she have the strength to walk the miles home?

Across from her in the gray glow of near dawn, she glanced at the outline of the baby's mother and father. They lay side by side on their narrow rope-bed in mutual exhaustion. Earlier, the mother, unwell herself, had nearly fainted and Jessie had forced her to lie down. Now, the way the black couple lay so close, so intimate made her throat tighten. She looked away as if she'd intruded. She took a deep breath, steadying herself.

The awful dread of death which had oppressed her all night turned to cautious gratitude. But I must get home now. “Ruth,” she called softly to the sleeping mother.

The young black woman stirred and moaned, “My baby?”

“I think his fever may have broken.”

Ruth stumbled to Jessie's side and lifted the child into her arms. With the inside of her wrist, Ruth tested her son’s forehead. “Oh, you have the bestes’ way with sickness.”

Feeling as achy as an old woman, Jessie shuffled the few steps to the door and lifted her black cape and bonnet from a nail on the wall. "Ruth, he's not out of danger yet." She fumbled with the ribbons of her black bonnet and her gloves, noticing another seam was unraveling. More mending.

“Please, my husband will walk you home.”

Jessie shook her head. She already needed to hurry home before her gossipy neighbors saw that she, a young widow, had spent a night away from home. And if a black man were seen with her, a white woman, it’d only add spice to their scurrilous rumors. “Now, Ruth, please don’t give your baby anything but mother’s milk. It’s important. Promise me.”

Cradling her baby son close to her breast, Ruth nodded. “God bless you, Mrs. Wagstaff.”

After one last reminder to Ruth to follow her warning, Jessie waved farewell and shut the flimsy door behind her. She hurried north along the railroad tracks and then crossed them. Like the Continental Divide, the parallel black metal lines divided the freed black slaves on one side of the railway from the white Irish immigrants opposite them. Though the gray-brown shanties, thrown together from used lumber and tin, looked like heads bent in sadness, leaning close to each other as though sharing their sorrows, the two sides, both equally needy, never mixed. The scene always depressed her.

Jessie’s long black skirt and petticoats swirled around her ankles and the weight of them seemed to grow with every step. Her fatigue began to slow her down. She fretted more about getting home and time--unseen. Over the thud of her heels on the wooden Randolph Street Bridge, she heard the jingle of the harness bells and clattering hooves of the first morning bob-tail trolley. She hated to part with the two-penny fare, but she couldn’t walk any farther. A stitch in her side, she hurried to the corner and flagged it down.

Lifting her skirts discreetly, she climbed up the wooden steps. While she was finding seat among the day-maids and workmen, the trolley jerked to a start. She stumbled and sat down abruptly, then positioned herself more comfortably on her modest bustle.

She would make it home now well before the gossips were up and snooping. Sighing, she closed her eyes, letting herself sway with the trolley's curious rhythm of going forward while rocking side to side. She snapped her eyes wide open. If she missed her stop, then needed to ride back, it would cost another penny and minutes she couldn’t afford.

Blinking to keep her watering eyes open, she glimpsed the skyline of downtown. Dawn had come. The rising sun cast a rosy glow over the squared, ornate parapets of the limestone hotels. She Will had called them imitation castles. Will’s face surfaced in her memory, smiling as always, blonde and blue-eyed. He whispered to her, “Come here, princess.” He drew her into strong arms and his warm lips touched….

Ring! Startled awake, Jessie sat up straighter. Blinking to stay awake, Jessie noted each northward street sign. At Ontario Street, she yanked the bell cord. Relief left her feeling hollow as she stepped down at the corner. Her pace quickened—so near home now--just a few blocks from Lake Michigan. Around the familiar, white frame houses, the lowing of a few cows and the clatter of a milk pail told her some people had already risen.

The mistiness that filtered the rosy sunshine concealed her and left her alley sticky with mud. Though she lifted her skirts, murky puddles wet her shoes and cotton stockings.

Almost there. She began to breathe easier. From her alley shed, she heard the clang of her goats’ bells and the tut-tut of her hens. At last, through the thick grayness, she approached her back porch steps, an island in the surrounding fog.

Weakened, she felt like a rag doll moved by unseen hands. She listened to the crunch-crunch rhythm of her shoes on the coal-cinder path. Longing for her first cup of coffee, she lifted her foot to the first step.

“Jessie?” a sleep-filled voice muttered out of the mist.

A man’s voice. A cold needle of shock jabbed her. She yelped.

“Jessie, Jessie Wagstaff?” the same voice asked.

Her eyes focused on the man, looming above her on the porch. But the slender man with dark hair and eyes, dressed in a well-cut black suit, did not appear very threatening to her. Indeed, his startled reaction must have mirrored her own. “Who…are you?” she stammered.

“Smith. I’m Lee Smith.”

Now all her hurry and worry would go for naught. Surely every neighborhood gossip must have heard her shout. She turned her aggravation on him. "Why are you on my porch at this hour?"

The man just stood there gawking at her.

The door behind him hit the outside wall with a crack like a gunshot. Susan bolted toward the stranger, brandishing a broom. Outrage twisted her dark features. "Get! Get! You leave Mrs. Wagstaff 'lone!"

The man ducked just in time to avoid the swat aimed for his head.

Shocked also, Jessie just watched as the man swerved to avoid Susan's next blow. He stumbled down the few steps to her side.

"Susan!" Jessie finally shouted over her friend's stream of threats and captured the end of the broom. "Stop! Please! I’m unharmed!" Instant silence.

Jessie glared at the stranger. "Sir, you have just sixty seconds to persuade me that you have a lawful reason to be here before Susan and I run you off."

The stranger removed his knocked cock-eyed hat. He began in a soothing tone, "I apologize to you both. I didn't mean to alarm you. I must have dozed off while I waited for your household to waken--"

"I asked you a simple question.” Jessie gripped the end of the broom as if it were her temper. “Answer it now or I will summon the police." For her part, Susan scorched the man with her gaze.

"If this is the Wagstaff house, I am looking for a room."

"You want a room?" Jessie couldn't keep her voice low.

"This is a boarding house. I need a room--"

"It’s only five a.m. Who would look for a room at this hour?"

"I'm so sorry, Mrs. Wagstaff. You are Mrs. Wagstaff, are you not?"

"Yes, I'm Mrs. Wagstaff," she admitted though she would have much preferred to punch him. Susan began to mutter under her breath again, sounding like a locomotive building up a good head of steam.

"I arrived at the railway station downtown only about two hours ago," the man continued. "I didn’t see any sense in taking a room, so I asked directions and walked here--"

"Here? Why?" she demanded, her eyes narrowing. "Do I know you?"

"No, your boarding house was recommended by the conductor on my train."

Liar. "Chicago has over three hundred thousand people and you expect me to believe that some train conductor I don’t know gave you my address."

"Well, he spoke highly of you." The man's irksome smile held.

The hooves of a fast-approaching horse clacked on the wooden street out front. Soon, only a few feet from Jessie, a uniformed officer dismounted. "Police! What is the disturbance here?"

Jessie felt her face go red. Police and a strange man in her back yard at dawn. The gossips would have a heyday with this. Jessie deftly dropped the broom and turned to face the policeman. "Officer, I'm so sorry you were called. Yes, I did cry out. The fog hid Mr. Smith from my sight and he startled me.”

"One of your neighbors heard it and flagged me down. You're certain you do not need any assistance, madam?" The policeman glared at Smith.

"No, but thank you for coming so quickly.” She looked up the steps at Susan.

Astonished, Lee felt the widow link her arm in his and then she glanced back at the policeman. "Officer, it does my heart good to know that such a minor disturbance brought such quick action. Thank you again."

With a feeling of unreality, Lee allowed her to lead him up the steps to the door. Standing so close to Jessie, he finally took a moment to really look at her. A young woman with ivory skin, dark, serious eyes and soft, wavy brown hair, she'd changed little from the pretty girl on the worn daguerreotype he still carried in his pocket.

Over his shoulder, Lee nodded civilly to the policeman. He let Jessie lead him through the back door into a large kitchen. As soon as the door closed, she dropped his arm as if he had leprosy.

With his hat still in one hand, he stood stiffly, conscious of being travel-worn, wishing he had delayed and taken time to have his suit freshly brushed and pressed. The two of them remained, facing each other in tableau, listening to the officer's departure.

Coming inside, Susan closed the door behind her. “He’s gone, Jess…Mrs. Wagstaff.”

Jessie released a deep sigh. "That takes care of that."

Lee's curiosity forced him to ask, "How did someone alert the police so quickly?"

"You think," the hired girl asked, "someone pulled the alarm on the corner?"

"No, not enough time." Jessie untied the strings of her dreary bonnet. "They probably were heading for the alarm and saw the policeman down the street."

“Alarm?”

“Yes, you sound like you're from the East." Jesse propped her hands on her hips, giving him a disgusted look. "So we know you didn't expect to find that Chicago has modern communications. We have alarm boxes every few blocks which are connected by wire to the nearest police and fire station. They come in handy most of the time.” She turned her back to him. “Susan, who do you think flagged down the policeman?”

"Got to be that Mrs. Braun or Mrs. O’Toole," Susan said, her hands perched on her hips.

Grimacing, Jessie nodded. "What would they do for diversion if we didn't live here?"

He detected only the barest touch of humor in the widow's tone. Then he found her disapproving gaze on him once more and he fought the urge to tug at his stiff white collar. He tried to come up with some reason to stop her from sending him right back out her door.

"I suppose you'll have to stay . . . for a while," Jessie grumbled, with an unwelcoming expression that made him feel like a child who'd come to her table with dirty hands. "At least, till breakfast is finished. One of my nosy neighbors will certainly stop the officer and ask him about you. It would look suspicious if you were seen leaving too soon.”

"Old biddies," Susan muttered.

Well, the old biddies had done him a favor. They'd got him inside and were keeping him there. Stifling a mocking grin at this irony, he bowed. "Thank you for your charming invitation. I am free for breakfast."

"Humph." Jessie walked away from him.

He bit back a retort while she took off her dowdy threadbare bonnet and cape. She then tugged the gloves from her fingers and tucked them inside the cape pocket.

A startling fact suddenly occurred to him. At five o'clock in the morning, she had been coming up the steps, not out of her door. Where had Mrs. Jessie Wagstaff been all night?

The black girl was tying a red calico apron around herself when she put his thoughts into words. "Do you think they saw you was coming in, not stepping out?"

Jessie, donning a full white apron, frowned and shook her head at Susan. For a moment, Lee considered repeating the hired girl's question. However, he couldn't afford to antagonize Jessie any further.

"How is Ruth's baby?" the girl Susan asked.

"Better, but not out of the woods yet. I hope Ruth heeds my warning." Jessie motioned to Lee, directing him toward a long table beside the kitchen window. The stark white curtains that fluttered over it suited the sparsely adorned whitewashed room and it all seemed to go with the cheerless woman who stood near him. She ordered, "You might as well sit."

With clenched teeth, he obeyed, balancing his hat on his knee. He hadn't known exactly what to expect from Mrs. Jessie Wagstaff, but it hadn't been this. How long did this woman think she could get by with treating him like a pesky bill collector?

Ignoring him, the two women went on with their obvious morning routine. Fine. Just as long as breakfast is good and comes quick. Susan picked up a milk pail and left by the back door. Jessie filled a wall-mounted coffee mill and began to crank it. The aroma of freshly ground coffee beans wafted through the room making his mouth water.

He got up his nerve and made another attempt to get a toehold here. "Do you have a room for rent?"

"I have no vacancy and even if I did, I never take in male boarders. A widow can't be too careful when it comes to gossip."

Her dismissive tone sparked his temper. "I want a room--not a widow," he snapped back.

She glared at him.

Suddenly he didn’t like Jessie Wagstaff one bit. But what had that to do with what had brought him here? He didn't need to like her to achieve his goal. And only his long-delayed purpose for coming here compelled him to swallow her rebuff in silence. Instead, he reverted to his lifelong tactic, charming nonchalance. It had always infuriated his family while giving them no opportunity to continue to badger him. He gave her a practiced languid smile and dusted the top of his hat with careless fingers. "I'm merely looking for a clean room and good food. You were recommended and--"

"Mother!" A young lad with tousled blonde hair, still dressed in his white night shirt, rushed through the curtained doorway into the kitchen. The sight of the boy caught Lee off guard. Her son--this was Lincoln.

As Jessie unhooked the jar of freshly ground coffee from the mill, the boy grasped her forearms and bounced on his bare toes. "There was a policeman and a horse. I saw them out of my window."

Jessie balanced the coffee jar to keep it from spilling. "Well, why not? Policeman often come down our street, Linc.”

The boy dropped his hold on his mother and turned to Lee. "Who's this?"

Lee looked into the face of the boy—so new to him, yet so familiar. Without warning, the innocent face unleashed an avalanche of wrenching images inside Lee. Phantom cannon roared in his ears and the sweetly putrid smell of gangrenous flesh made him gag. Fighting the urge to retch, he clutched his hat brim with both hands.

Susan came in and set a heavy milk pail on the edge of the sink. "Mister, you be all right?"

He couldn't answer. He fought free of the haunting sensations. "I'm fine." Both women were staring at him. "I'm fine," he repeated, his voice firmer. "I'm Lee Smith." He stretched out his right hand and grasped the youngster's hand in his.

"Linc, Mr. Smith is staying for breakfast." Jessie said. "He is new in town and wanted to rent a room from us. But since we don't have any rooms available, he will have to look elsewhere."

Linc moved closer to Lee. The boy’s scent, a mix of cornstarch powder and soap, blotted out the lingering horror in Lee’s memory.

"Mr. Smith, I wish you could stay," Linc said. "I'm the only boy here."

Unused to being around children, but touched by this sentiment, Lee clumsily stroked the boy's hair. "I'm happy I was able to meet you, Linc." Poor kid--defenseless in a household of “skirts.” Well, maybe I can to do something about that.

Jessie came up behind the boy and turned him by the shoulders, then swatted him gently on the behind. "Young man, you need to get yourself ready for breakfast. You remember what happens today, don't you?"

"The game! It's today, isn't it?" Linc hopped up and down. "It's April ninth!"

Smiling, Jessie bent and kissed the bobbing head. "Yes, Linc, it is finally the ninth. Go mark it off on the calendar."

Beaming, Linc charged toward the calendar beside the pantry doorway. He lifted a pencil, dangling from a string, and marked a large "X" through the date.

His mother touched the boy's shoulder. "Get more wood please. We barely have enough to finish heating the wash water and I need to start brewing the coffee."

Groaning, the boy padded back out of the room.

Jessie went to the sink and began filling the two large coffee pots with water.

"What game is Linc excited about?" Lee asked, searching her face.

“Today is the first exhibition game of the new Chicago White Stockings Baseball Club. My son is an avid supporter."

"Is he?" Lee grinned, cheered to see that she wasn't as stern with her son as with unwanted strangers at her door.

Jessie began spooning coffee into the pots. "Yes, he will tell you all about them and the new National Association of Professional Baseball Players." Lee liked the way her voice gentled as she spoke of her son.

Susan added with a grin, "Five games they play with five other teams first." Carrying a wire basket, the hired girl started out the back door.

“Yes, would you like us to recite the names of the other nine teams, Mr. Smith?” Jessie surprised Lee by actually chuckling.

Emboldened by this, he took another chance and asked, "Thank you, no. But when do you think you might have a vacancy?"

"You are persistent, Mr. Smith. But even if I had a vacancy and even if I rented to males, I still would never rent to a stranger. I cannot, will not, rent you a room, Mr. Smith."

In Boston, it had all seemed so easy. She ran a boarding house. He'd rent a room from her. Lee gritted his teeth behind grimly smiling lips. I'll get into your life one way or another, Jessie. I'm late but I'm here to stay.

A young woman's voice from the other side of the curtain interrupted them, "Mrs. Wagstaff, is the wash water ready? Some of the boarders are fussing."

He watched Jessie grimace, but her voice did not betray this. "Please tell them it won't be long."

The young boarder murmured indistinctly and retreated.

Linc came into the kitchen pulling his suspenders into place. Jessie motioned her son to the back door. "Hurry, Linc, we're running late."

A querulous voice issuing from the hallway startled Lee. "How long is a body supposed to wait for a small pitcher of warm water?" A very old twisted-looking woman, leaning heavily on a gnarled wooden cane, made a good effort at stomping into the room. She reminded Lee of his own Great Aunt Hester. Out of common politeness, he rose to his feet.

"Who is this man? Why are you entertaining a man in this kitchen at this hour? Or is he peddling?"

"I'm not a peddler, ma'am," Lee cut in, holding back his temper.

The old prune ignored him and spoke to Jessie, "Is he another Army comrade of Will's? I thought we were all done with that sort of chicanery. They start by making women believe they are army friends of their husbands and in the end, the ninny-women have bought worthless shares--"

"I'm not--" Lee began, but Jessie overrode him. "Miss Wright, Mr. Smith arrived this morning looking for lodging and employment. He is staying for breakfast."

"Humph. Too poor to buy his own breakfast...," she grumbled.

Linc brought in an armload of wood. Miss Wright scolded him, "You there, boy, why didn't you bring in enough wood last night? Are we to wait for breakfast while you gawk at this stranger?"

Bristling, Lee was impressed by Linc’s composure while under attack. The boy carefully, but swiftly, loaded the wood into the stove.

The irritating old woman went on, "If his father were here, he would take a strap to this boy--"

"No, he wouldn't...." Lee and Jessie, who had spoken the same words at the same time, stopped and stared at each other.

"Humph!" The old woman declared. "Send that worthless black girl up with my water. I don't know why I put up with the inconvenience of living here. If only Margaret were still alive," Miss Wright continued her tirade, thumping her cane all the way down the hall.

“Why did you say that about my late husband?” Jessie asked him, eyeing him with fresh distrust.

Scrambling for a reason, he lied through all of his smiling white teeth, “No particular reason. I just don’t like peevish old women. And before breakfast.” He wondered if she'd buy it or not.

Susan entered with the wire basket now full of brown eggs. When she glanced darkly at the curtained doorway and grumbled to herself, Lee was certain Susan had heard every nasty word the unpleasant old woman had said.

Jessie shook her head and turned from him. While Susan shot inquiring glances his way, Jessie never turned her eyes toward him. Her ability to ignore him so completely grated on his tender nerves. Why couldn't he ignore that fact that she had turned out to be an attractive woman? He hadn't anticipated this possibility. Why couldn't she have turned out to be a mousy, miss-ish widow who would only welcomed a man at her door? Just the kind of woman he'd expected and the kind he usually avoided? But Jessie Wagstaff was both pretty and a woman to be reckoned with. Not at all what he wanted.

Soon the aromas of bubbling coffee, sizzling bacon and eggs made Lee's mouth water and his stomach rumble in anticipation. Finally, Jessie removed her white apron. At her nod, he followed her through the curtain into the long, narrow dining room. She carried the large tray, laden with a covered blue-and-white tureen filled with oatmeal, and the matching platter of the bacon and eggs to the table. Breakfast, at last.

Lee scanned the room. The rectangular table of dark walnut, though simply covered with a white oilcloth, stood out as a showpiece with its ornately carved legs. Three women sat around it, the old one with her cane, a middle-aged redhead, and a pretty young blonde. This should prove interesting.

He bowed to them. After nodding to him in reply, the young, stylish blonde politely looked away. The middle-aged redhead ogled him. Miss Wright scowled at him. He smiled what he hoped was his most aggravating smile at the old biddy.

Jessie supplied the introductions, "Mr. Smith, you have already met Miss Wright. This is Mrs. Bolt and Miss Greenleigh."

Mrs. Bolt, the redhead, simpered, "Your place, I believe, is next to mine, sir." She indicated the empty chair to the right of hers.

Lee bowed to the ladies once more and sat down. Linc welcomed him with a grin. As Lee spread the crisply starched napkin across his lap, he heard the old lady sniff pointedly. He looked up. Everyone, except for the old woman and him, had their heads bowed for morning grace. Scold me, will you?

He waggled his forefinger as though chastising her for not bowing her head also. Then smiling inwardly, he folded his hands in his lap and bowed while Jessie prayed. Afterward, he savored the combination of hot coffee and crisp toast with crabapple jelly. Mrs. Bolt, who immediately informed him she was a war widow and taught eighth grade, kept him busy lying to each of her questions. Interspersed between the coy widow's chatter and Linc's occasional comments about the afternoon's game, the old spinster grumbled at him. But overall, Jessie's silent, unwelcoming perusal discouraged him most. How would he break through the wall she surrounded herself with? Without telling her the truth?

The meal ended all too soon. Linc dashed upstairs to get his school books. In bonnets and gloves, Miss Greenleigh and Mrs. Bolt departed to the local school where they both taught. The old woman, thumping her cane as though still scolding Lee, crossed the hall to the parlor. He and Jessie were left alone at the table.

"What kind of work will you be looking for in Chicago, Mr. Smith? Or do you already have a position?” Jessie asked him in a cool tone, daunting him further.

"Clerking," he mumbled. How did one go about finding a job in a strange city?

"The McCormick Reaper plant is nearby at the corner of Rush and Erie. But there are many offices downtown or at the grain elevators along the river or the lumber yards. I'm certain you will have no--"

Saving Lee from more of this dismal information, Linc rushed in. "Excuse me, Mr. Smith. Mother, I'm ready for school." The boy halted beside her, his hair slicked back with water. "Remember--I'll be going to Drexel Park to see the White Stockings."

"Yes, and that's after school." Jessie smiled and tugged his ear lobe.

"Aw, mother." He headed out the kitchen door, calling over his shoulder, "Bye, Mr. Smith, I wish you were staying."

Touched in spite of himself, Lee waved farewell. Linc wouldn't be hard to get close to. Lee stood up. "Mrs. Wagstaff, I’ll be off now."

She accompanied him to the front door as though to make sure he left the premises. Outside down the front steps, he paused at the bottom, looking up at her standing in the doorway of the simple white frame house. Again, he was struck by her young prettiness, which her serious expression couldn't hide. And he recalled the intriguing fact that she'd been coming home this morning at dawn. Where had you been, Widow Wagstaff? "Thank you for a fine breakfast.”

"You're welcome. Please let me know how you get on, Mr. Smith." Her face wore a warning expression that did not match her polite words.

But the Widow Wagstaff would see him again and soon. He’d left his valise on her back porch.

Monday, October 01, 2007

OCT 07 FEATURED AUTHOR: LaConnie Taylor-Jones


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

LaConnie Taylor-Jones:
Genesis Press author, LaConnie Taylor-Jones is a native Memphian and member of the San Francisco Area and Black Diamond chapters of Romance Writers of America.

LaConnie’s debut novel, When I’m With You is a compelling tale of how a funding request brings Marcel Baptiste, a wealthy entrepreneur and philanthropist and Caitlyn Thompson, the head of a struggling Oakland youth center head-to-head. The Baptiste family saga continues with her April 2008 release, When A Man Loves A Woman. Married, she is the mother of four and resides with her family in Northern California. She’s also an active member with the Contra Costa Alumnae chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the African American Community Health Advisory Committee, Girl Scouts of Northern California, and Black Women Organized for Political Action.

SORMAG: Tell us about your current book?

TAYLOR-JONES:
This is a story about the damage caused when someone is in an abusive relationship, and what happens when the person suffering the abuse is too scared to tell their loved ones what’s going on. It also showcases the difficulties one faces when learning to trust after having suffered the shame, embarrassment, and betrayal during the relationship, and the importance of being able to forgive and forget while moving forward with your life

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

TAYLOR-JONES:
There are three messages I strive to get across in all of my stories: (1) the beauty of the love that exists between the right man and woman (2) the importance of family, and (3) strategies to help deal with real-life situations

SORMAG: What inspired this story?

TAYLOR-JONES:
Over the past eighteen years, I’ve taught health education primarily to African American women in community-based settings. Oftentimes, before I can lecture on the risk factors associated with the chronic disease disproportionally impacting African Americans, I have to deal with the soci-economic deterrents these women face. Unfortunately, abusive relationships tops the list.

SORMAG: What did you learn while writing this book?

TAYLOR-JONES:
That despite the heightened awareness of domestic violence in recent years, its still an occurrence that happens all too often.

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

TAYLOR-JONES:
Believe it or not, I enjoy the editing process. My line editor is absolutely wonderful!! She’s tough and demands excellence from the beginning to the end. Her consistency and attention to detail only helps to strengthen my story and ensure that my readers receive a quality product. So far, there’s nothing that I hate and I hope it remains that way!!

SORMAG: What are three things you wish you'd known before you reached where you are now?

TAYLOR-JONES:
(1) How long it would take to become published. In my case it took three and a half years. (2) The amount of work a new author has to put into getting their name and book out to readers and (3) How an author oftentimes must juggle writing new stories, editing ones that have already sold, and marketing themselves, all at the same time.

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

TAYLOR-JONES:
The first tip I’d give is to prepare. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways: reading books from authors published in the genre you’re writing in, taking courses or workshops, entering contests, and if possible, speaking with published authors in your targeted genre. Once you have a workable draft of your manuscript, join a critique group and above all, accept constructive feedback. All of these things will help in the end so that you’re providing a quality product for agents and editors to review.

A couple of books I’d highly encourage writers to purchase are: Building Better Plots by Robert Kernen and Writing Novels that Sells by Jack Bickham.

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

TAYLOR-JONES:
I’ve learned how to say NO without feeling guilty.

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

TAYLOR-JONES:
Mailing Address: 3377 Deer Valley Road #244 ~ Antioch, CA ~ 94531

E-mail Address: lovestories@comcast.net.

Website: http://www.laconnietaylorjones.com/

OCT 07 EXCERPT: When I’m With You


When I’m With You
by LaConnie Taylor-Jones


A funding request brings Marcel Baptiste, a wealthy entrepreneur and anonymous philanthropist head-to-head with Caitlyn Thompson, the director of a struggling Oakland youth center. He’s smitten, but she’s gun-shy and on the run from her controlling ex. Can he vanquish the ghosts of her past without risking her life?


Caitlyn tightly clutched her small handbag to her chest. “Thanks again for dinner. It’s been a wonderful evening.”

Marcel drove Caitlyn back to her apartment after dinner since she’d taken BART to San Francisco to meet him. Seated inside his plush, black BMW, Caitlyn glanced over to find he’d turned his back against the door. From the moment he’d put the car in park, he hadn’t said a word, but his penetrating gaze spoke volumes. As far as she was concerned, he didn’t need to speak because what she saw in his eyes said it all. She saw unabashed desire and it burned her to a crisp. She knew if they ever got together, they would set off a five-alarm blaze.

Caitlyn tore her gaze away and stared out the front windshield. Fear from the past reared its ugly head. At this point in her life, she didn’t want to feel an attraction for any man, and she certainly didn’t want to feel it this soon for the one sitting next to her. She’d experienced one disastrous relationship all because she’d foolishly placed her confidence in someone she thought she could trust. That error had nearly destroyed her, and it was one she’d vowed to never make again.

She sucked in a deep breath. “Marcel, I-I don’t think we should see each other anymore.” The words came out hoarse and choked, despite her best effort to maintain a rock-steady tone.

Marcel frowned. “Why?”

“I-I’m not the right person for you to get involved with.”

He shook his head. “You’re wrong on that one, Caitlyn.” He grabbed her left hand. “Can you honestly sit here and tell me I’m solo in what I’m feeling?”

It was a long while before she could say anything. She could no more deny the attraction she felt for Marcel than not take her next breath. “No, and if I knew how to stop my emotions right now, I would.”

He lifted her hand to his mouth and placed a gentle kiss on the back of it. “Tell me what you feel.”

She turned to him, staring with a soft gaze. “When?”

“Right now.” He kissed the inside of her palm. “Tell me what you’re feeling.”

“When I’m with you, I feel safe...like nothing in the world can ever hurt me.”

“Then hold on to that.” Releasing her hand, he inched over and braced his arm along the passenger seat.

Caitlyn glanced over at him. “What do you feel?”

He trailed his finger along her cheek and focused on her lips. “I feel like I’ll lose my mind if I don’t kiss you.” Despite the darkness, he tried to search her eyes for permission. He wouldn’t rush her. She’d been hurt once and he vowed no one would ever do it again. He waited patiently for her answer. The moment she looped her arm around his neck and parted her lips, it was all the acknowledgment he needed.

The kiss started out gentle, but grew hotter, more urgent, and she moaned under the assault of his mouth. Marcel deepened the kiss, and she clutched the lapels of his jacket as though they were a life preserver that would protect her against the carnal storm threatening to sweep her out into the Pacific Ocean.

When they parted, Caitlyn fought to breathe, fought to control her heart, which was beating as if she’d run a twenty-mile marathon. With her head bowed, she placed her hand at the center of her chest. “There’s something you should know.”

Marcel released a long sigh of satisfaction. “Talk to me.”

“I-I’m ...”

Marcel gently lifted her chin and met her gaze. “Come on, Caitlyn. Talk to me.” He stroked his finger along her brow. “You can trust me.”

Tears shimmered in her eyes. “He hurt me.”

“What did he do?”

The words lodged in her throat. The pain was still too raw, the hurt too deep. Caitlyn shook her head, an indication she wasn’t ready to discuss it.

Marcel nodded his acceptance of her stance. “Listen, whenever you’re ready, all right?”

With a solemn look, Caitlyn turned her face to hide the fear in her eyes. “I’ve been running from him for three years.”

“Is that why you’ve been so reluctant to share information about yourself?”

“Yes.”

Without uttering another word, Marcel got out and walked around to the other side of the car. He opened the passenger door and helped Caitlyn out.

Caitlyn looked up at him. “Marcel, I’ll understand if you don’t want my baggage at your doorstep.”

He didn’t bother to shut the door and kept his gaze steady with hers. “When can I see you again?”

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