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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

FEATURD AUTHOR: Dr. Matthew Delmont



Dr. Matthew Delmont is an assistant professor of American Studies at Scripps College in Claremont, CA. His research and teaching areas include popular culture and media studies, urban history, education, and comparative ethnic studies. Born and raised in Minneapolis, Delmont earned his B.A. from Harvard University and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Brown University. The Nicest Kids in Town is his first book





The Nicest Kids in Town: American Bandstand, Rock ‘n’ Roll, and the Struggle for Civil Rights in 1950s Philadelphia

American Bandstand, one of the most popular television shows ever, broadcast from Philadelphia in the late fifties, a time when that city had become a battleground for civil rights. Counter to host Dick Clark’s claims that he integrated American Bandstand, this book reveals how the first national television program directed at teens discriminated against black youth during its early years and how black teens and civil rights advocates protested this discrimination. The Nicest Kids in Town brings together major themes in American history—civil rights, rock and roll, television, and the emergence of a youth culture—as it tells how white families around American Bandstand’s studio mobilized to maintain all-white neighborhoods and how local school officials reinforced segregation long after Brown vs. Board of Education. The Nicest Kids in Town powerfully illustrates how national issues and history have their roots in local situations, and how nostalgic representations of the past, like the musical film Hairspray, based on the American Bandstand era, can work as impediments to progress in the present.

Book website: http://nicestkids.com 

Digital project (including additional American Bandstand photographs, video, and memorabilia): http://scalar.usc.edu/nehvectors/nicest-kids

How did you start out your writing career?

I came to writing through reading. When I was training to become a professor I read hundreds of books. This helped me become a better teacher, but it also inspired me to start working on my own book.

What did you learn while writing this book?

I initially believed, as Dick Clark has claimed, that American Bandstand, was fully integrated in the 1950s, but my research turned up new evidence that led me to tell a different story.


What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

Two things. First, I wanted to set the record straight about the fact that American Bandstand discriminated against black teenagers during the time it broadcast from Philadelphia (1952-1964). Second, I wanted to bring attention to the work of pioneering African-American deejays pioneering deejays, Georgie Woods and Mitch Thomas, as well as the civil rights activists who protested racial discriminatory on American Bandstand and in Philadelphia’s neighborhoods and schools.

What came first with this story, the characters or the plot? Why?

I would say that Philadelphia and teenagers came first. I knew I wanted to write about the rise of youth culture in 1950s Philadelphia on and around American Bandstand, but I didn’t learn about many of the important character and stories until I started interviewing people and going through the historical archives and newspapers.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?

I’ve been most surprised to receive e-mails from people who danced on American Bandstand or participated in the protests of the show. These responses have all been positive and it means a great deal to me that people who take the time to write. I’ve added a “Share Your Memories” section on the book’s digital project to highlight some of these stories:

http://scalar.usc.edu/nehvectors/nicest-kids/share-your-memories

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

I love the research aspect of writing. I love finish those “needle in a haystack” stories in a dusty box of papers or in a yellowed newspaper. They remind me that there are still so many stories that still need to be told. I hate how long it takes to revise my writing so that I am able to share my research findings with readers.

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

1) Two of the people that I interviewed for the book passed away before it was published. I wish I could have properly thanked them.

2) That you have to be willing to let a book go at some point. You can’t work on it forever.

3) I wish I would have taken more foreign languages in college.


Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

Do: Be able to explain your project in a few sentences. If you can explain the book to someone else, you can remind yourself what the book is about and what drew you to the project in the first place.

Don’t: Be afraid to tear it up and start again. My book looks very little like the proposal I wrote some years ago. The writing process requires revision.


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

That writers are intimately aware of the imperfections of their books. I became a much more generous critic of other people’s work once I realized how difficult it was to sustain a story or an argument over dozens or hundreds of pages.

Tell us something few know about you?

My baseball team made it to the Babe Ruth World Series when I was 15 and it remains one of my favorite memories.

When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?

I love to run. I just completed the Boston Marathon, which was my eighth marathon. Running helps to clear my head and keep me calm at work.

What do you do to interact with your readers?

I’ve tried to make the book’s website as user friendly as possible and I regularly exchange e-mails with readers.

Our theme for this month is BOOK READERS.

Name your top five favorite books of all time.

Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison

The Second Sex – Simone DeBeauvoir

The Origins of Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit – Thomas Sugrue

Invisible Cities – Italo Calvino

Listen to the Lambs – Johnny Otis

Who was the first author you ever met?

Cornel West

Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

That I can do better tomorrow.

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

I’m currently working on two projects. One is a narrative history of the music of the civil rights era and the second is about the how television shaped popular perceptions of busing for school desegregation in the 1970s.

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

Website: http://mattdelmont.com
e-mail: mdelmont@scrippscollege.edu
Mail:
Matt Delmont
Scripps College
1030 Columbia Ave, #4085
Claremont, CA 91711




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Friday, May 25, 2012

FEATURED AUTHOR: Michelle Stimpson



Camille Robertson used to be part of an hot R&B girl group, until they fell apart and Destiny's Child pushed them out of the top spot. Now, after turning 30 and putting on a few pounds, Camille wants extend her fifteen minutes of fame. The only agent she can find to represent her, however, says that the only way she can break back into the music industry at her age and her size is to start with gospel music. In a last-ditch effort to regain her lost celebrity-hood, Camille joins the nearest mega church and weasels her way onto the praise team so that she can revive her career (and hopefully her pocketbook as well). But joining the church under false pretenses doesn't turn out quite the way she's imagined. God had a plan of His own for this diva.



Bestselling author Michelle Stimpson has penned several works, including the highly acclaimed Boaz Brown, national bestseller Divas of Damascus Road, and her latest release, Someone to Watch Over Me. She has also published more than forty short stories through her educational publishing company. Michelle holds an English degree from Jarvis Christian College and master’s degree in education from the University of Texas at Arlington. She is a part-time language arts consultant and serves in women’s ministry at her home church, Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship. Michelle lives near Dallas with her husband, their two teenage children, and one crazy dog.

How did you start out your writing career?

If we want to go waaaaay back, writing started, for me, by keeping a journal. I started writing my journal during a tough time in my pre-teen years, and that was the beginning of how God would use those skills I inadvertently practiced for years through the journal.

What did you learn while writing this book?

This book taught me the importance of doing what I do for the right reasons. Thankfully - and through God's promises - He has brought me to a place where I make Spirit-led decisions as opposed to money-led, opportunity-led, or desperation-led. Writing this book was a conformation for me.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

I want readers to think about how we often try to "use" God for our own purposes and goals. People are quick to speak out against a woman who marries a man only for his money - for what he can do for her. But how many of us are "married" to Christ because of what He can do for us? As Camille learns, God is loving and He will meet us where we are, but He will not be mocked.

What came first with this story, the characters or the plot? Why?

The story came first. I've been holding on to this story for quite some time, but I wasn't sure when I'd actually get to it. Camille came to me later.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?

OK - this is going to sound crazy - but a recent revelation I've had about being a published author is that it doesn't matter who publishes you, you still have to get in the prayer closet, then get out there and market because (for economic and technological reasons, I believe) most publishers have basically become book printers and distributors. I hope that will change soon, but I'm not holding my breath.

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

I love the creative process. But because I'm a project-based thinker (right now, anyway), I don't like doing all the back-end marketing work. By the time a book comes out, I'm already two or three projects down the line from that book, so I always feel a little disconnected.

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

I KNEW this, but I can't say I DID this: Pray, pray, pray! Not in a "God, please, please, please help me" way - but more strategically.

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

Do: Your best work.
Don't: Be pressured to do/write things that do not line up with the person God has called you to be. In the end, we all have to answer to Him for this gift.

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

That creative thinkers don't follow the "rules" in our heads. You can't just give us a spreadsheet with a bunch of deadlines and steps and expect it to be done. That's not how we think. Some of us would probably be categorized as special education students (not trying to make fun of the label, by the way) because the way we operate is often so non-linear that it doesn't even make sense to us sometimes.

Tell us something few know about you?

I hate to exercise, but I do it anyway.

When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?

Spare time - what's that?

What do you do to interact with your readers?

I keep my FB stuff going pretty regularly, and I'm getting back into tweeting. I just have to be careful about tweeting because if I'm not careful, I can tweet some mess!

Our theme for this month is BOOK READERS. Name your top five favorite books of all time.

1. In Search of Satisfaction
2. Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free
3. Tumbling
4. Driven by Eternity
5. The Bible

Who was the first author you ever met?

I think both Victoria Christopher Murray and Sharon Ewell Foster. When my first book (Boaz Brown) was released, the three of us were doing a book signing at CushCity in Houston.

Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

I know it takes faith.

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

I don't have new any books scheduled to come out after Falling Into Grace, but I will be re-releasing Boaz Brown this fall. As you may know, this was my first book, and it asks the question: What if the "right" man is the "wrong" color?

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

www.MichelleStimpson.com

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Monday, May 21, 2012

FEATURED AUTHOR: Tremayne Moore



Deaf, Dumb, Blind & Stupid: Michael Anderson's Fight For Life

Deaf, Dumb, Blind & Stupid is a novel that addresses child physical/sexual abuse as well as teenage suicide. Deaf, Dumb, Blind & Stupid is how Michael Anderson saw the world. Who would hear his cry for help? His death would shake a congregation.

WE Didn’t Plan On This

The funeral is at Severna Community Church and Brother Elliot Freeman comes up to the podium. The faces, the looks of despair remind me of an old black and white silent film. Time seems to slide by in slow motion, but nothing will ever be the same.

“Good afternoon, everyone: I will be presiding over this funeral, as we celebrate the life of Michael Anderson. I want to acknowledge his family who’s here: his mother Viola; his father Gerald; and his sister Stephanie. And I want to thank the friends and extended family members who came to this occasion. We are not celebrating the fact that he’s dead, but his life is a lesson for all, especially parents. And if I break down, please bear with me. It breaks my heart to see children die before their time. He had something to offer to this world, even though he’s no longer with us,” the minister took a deep breath, struggling to continue. I wondered how he could.

“Through my interactions with Michael, he really wanted to get a message across to everyone who knew him and those he had yet to meet. I know there are some people here who know Jesus, and there are some who believe in Jesus but in actuality are very hostile to Jesus: you have zeal but it’s not according to knowledge. I hope you will be able to see Him as He really was during the course of this funeral, and I pray that you will understand what Michael was trying to get across, as well as consider what God is trying to say to you through Michael’s life. We are going to talk a little bit about his life, and for some of you, it will come as a shock. I know some of you went to school with Michael, and it’s my understanding that you had a moment of silence for him.” The minister was offered some tissue before he continued.

“I met Michael when he was about eleven years old. We’ve had private conversations about his home life. As I close my portion, I will allow a few people, the ones mentioned in his journal, to speak and give their condolences. The conversations began after we had a Sunday school lesson about forgiveness. He was a little troubled with that, especially when he was telling me that he was abused by a relative. As I mentioned, I will be highlighting certain areas of his journal due to time, because I believe there are some things that are very important to him, and I believe you will benefit and appreciate what Michael had to say about his life. I know that some of you didn’t plan on being here today, but I believe God brought you here for a reason.” The minister’s eyes seemed to bore into me as I sat intently listening.

As I think about it, I’m surprised Michael didn’t get caught sneaking letters to me when he would come to Sunday school on Sundays. He tried to be as brief as he could with me, and if he could write longer without getting caught, he would. He knew that he was always monitored by his parents. He knew the philosophy of the household, ‘what goes on in the house, stays in the house.’ Somehow, and I believe God was intervening; he was able to get the letters to me whenever he could. So, I will be sharing with you highlights of his life. Now for some of you, this will be a shock, but I believe that this is going to set somebody free. Let us pray:

“Father, in the name of Jesus, I pray that you watch over everyone here. I pray that your Spirit will minister to these your people. You know that Michael is not with us in the physical, but his spirit and legacy lives on. I pray Lord, that you enlighten the eyes of our understanding and that You be with me as I deliver the message You want conveyed to these your people. It’s in Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”

BOOK TRAILER http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Du7Hsw_rVpA



Tremayne Moore, founder of Maynetre Manuscripts, LLC, is an accountant, a writer, a psalmist, a modern-day Griot, and a Spoken Word motivational speaker. He is the author of the poetry series You Can Take It. Academically, he holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Management Information Systems from Florida State University).

How did you start out your writing career?

I started my writing career by writing poetry in high school. As the years progressed, I continued writing and a publisher grabbed hold of one of my poems. This would mark the beginning of my writing career.

What did you learn while writing this book?

I learned while writing this book (Deaf, Dumb, Blind & Stupid), that suicide among teenagers is the 3rd leading cause of death. As I listened to people from different age groups, that physical & sexual abuse is prevalant among families and parents take the side of the abuser than their own child who's being abused.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

My hope is that we learn to come alongside people who are abused and show them agape love. In most cases, when a child is abused, their perception of love is warped. In the church world, it's my prayer that we stop pointing fingers at the abused, wounding them more with our attacks against them.

What came first with this story, the characters or the plot? Why?

The plot came first while I was sitting in my office. As I wrote out the plot, the characters would follow. I believe the reason the plot came first is due to my own encounter with abuse and hearing stories about teenagers being abused.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?

The response of readers actually reading my books and sharing with others.

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

The aspect of writing I love the most is meeting other authors and learning from them.
The aspect of writing I hate the most is suffering writer's block at times.

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

1. The importance of marketing (going outside your circle of friends)
2. How to handle rejection from your close friends
3. You won't be a best selling author immediately!

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

If you're aspiring to be a writer, journal everything you write and please don't release your book without going through an editor/proofreader.

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

I wish non-writers would understand that the majority of us aren't writing just for a dollar, many of us have a voice and it's the only way for it to be heard. Truthfully, many non-writers have a voice. It's all about supporting each other.

Tell us something few know about you?

Well, I have a love for cooking and baking. Activity wise, I love to bowl.

When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?

I am usually reading or listening to music (to relax my mind and spirit).

What do you do to interact with your readers?

I interact with readers via my blogsite, Facebook or Twitter

Our theme for this month is BOOK READERS. Name your top five favorite books of all time.

1. Three Feet From Gold
2. Where The Sidewalk Ends
3. The Cat In The Hat Comes Back
4. Rich Dad Poor Dad
5. See You At The Top

Who was the first author you ever met?

The first author I met was Shantae Charles, the author of the Church Love Series (and happens to be my editor).

Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

I know that you are guaranteed success if you package your talent.



Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

Note, it's not proofread yet, but see attached.

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

Mail: PO Box 14823/Tallahassee, FL 32317
E-mail: tremayne_moore@yahoo.com website: www.maynetre.com

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

In Loving Memory Of Monica Jackson

MONICA JACKSON

My candle burns at both ends,
It will not last the night:
But ah, my foes,
And oh, my friends,

It gives a lovely light.


Edna St. Vincent Millay


So often we read the phrase, "In Loving Memory" without giving it much thought. That simple phrase has become a signal that someone has died, and what follows is an obituary. Yet the true meaning of those words hit home when you have to write them because someone you love is gone. This time for me it's my good friend, author Monica Jackson.

Monica was first and foremost a wonderful mother and person. She was also one of the most fiercely creative spirits I've ever known. Yes, she was a writer. But Monica had the soul of an artist, and she approached every pursuit as if she was creating a new masterpiece. Whether it was helping me re-design my website, discussing our book covers, or even designing and fashioning our lives, Monica had a zeal and passion that was dazzling.

Never was that passion more ferocious than when she was debating one of her hot button issues: race and publishing. She was one of the very few Black romance writers who followed the old saying, "Tell it like it is". She didn't back down, or take back her words. Monica wasn't afraid to "play the race card", she relished it. With glee! When she was in high spirits, she'd end one of her e-mails with, "He-he". And I'd think, "Oh, here we go!" Even when it hurt, the backlash and awful words thrown at her, she could not be silent. That is true heart and courage, my fellow writers and readers.

Please say prayers for her beloved daughter, Amethyst, and the rest of her family. Her light is gone, but a beautiful glow remains.

A friend, Lynn Emery



One of my favorite memories of Monica was a chat we attended. I'd set up a chat with her for an online conference. It was a bad night because everyone kept getting kicked off. It ended up being her and me in the chat room. Instead of hanging up, she asked me if I had any questions. Of course I had questions. We talked for about two hours about writing, the writing business and BET turning her book into a movie. I truly appreciated her honesty and upfront information about writing and the business.

She wasn't afraid of telling the truth. She never worried about the consequences of opening her mouth. This was something I admired about her. She loved controversy and would jump right in, where someone else would back away. She introduced me to the blogging concept. She loved it and you could find her on a few blogs debating.

I will miss her championing the black romance. She always spoke up for them when no one else did. I will miss her willingness to help you with your web problems and sharing her knowledge about writing. Most of all I will miss her friendship.

Miss you already,
LaShaunda C. Hoffman




Please share your memories of Monica or offer your condolences
.



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Friday, May 18, 2012

FEATURED AUTHOR: Gigi Gunn



In NEVER BEEN TO ME, against the backdrop of Washington, D.C, Persi Sinclair seems to have it all: a great career at NIH, her own home, car and wardrobe to complete the picture. She has one flaw... she's dating a married man, Brad Shelton, her high school crush. After an ugly breakup, Persi dusts off her old dreams and moves to Paris, France where she is romanced by Nick Betancourt, a handsome, sexy sax player. They romp though the Parisian country side and marry in Monte Carlo. This new idyllic life is shattered by a knock on the door... Brad's come for her, offering marriage, money and status~ everything she always wanted. What will Persi do?

I am a native born and bred Washingtonian who, in the early nineties, tired of the limited literary offerings available to us as Black women and men. Seeing the need I filled the void with my first three novels: Everlastin' Love, Nowhere To Run and Pride and Joi, all of which became required reading at the high school and college levels. CAJUN MOON, RAINBOW'S END, LIVING INSIDE YOUR LOVE AND NEVER BEEN TO ME followed, beginning in 2008: all highly acclaimed novels with positive portrayals of black women and the men who love them and peppered with life lessons.

How did you start out your writing career?

I sat down and wrote a novel I wanted to read, just for the pure joy and need to do so. One in which the characters were ordinary Black folks with ordinary problems and internal crisis of "trying to do the right thing." No drugs, abuse, murder, mayhem or alcohol challenges, no wondering about rent or where the next meal was coming from... Just folks striving to be their best selves. To my delight, it and my subsequent novels were very well received...three were required reading. I think readers appreciated the literary reprieve and readily related to the characters and their situations.

What did you learn while writing this book?

I learned to edit about twenty pages. I wasn't a happy camper but it had to be done. Only once.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

The goal was to put a new twist on an old paradigm; to burst the stereotype of a single woman dating a married man who didn't need or want anything material from him...she had her own. I wanted to showcase Persi's naivete, while exposing her self discovery and personal growth, which at the end, causes her to re-evaluate Brad, his wife and Nick, none of whom changed but Persi's perception of them did. I wanted to highlight a "true sister-friend" relationship between Persi and Doxie...and promote an awareness of the very aggressive IBC--Inflammatory Breast Cancer.

What came first with this story, the characters or the plot? Why?

It's different for each novel, but in this one the characters came first. I wanted to set it in my hometown, D.C. and honor my grandfather, whose middle name was Percy; so her name is Persephone, nicknamed Persi. Then I asked well, what's her story? She's perfect... except she dates a married man... how "imperfect" can one be?

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?

How satisfying it is to have readers embrace and get loss in characters and their stories that you conceived in the quiet of your office with just your thoughts and a computer. I am always amazed at the level of emotion well-placed words on a page can evoke from "strangers" who become your most avid readers. I love it. I am cruising to St. Maarten because "fans" so loved Cajun Moon. Who woulda thunk it?

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

I love the creating a story, fleshing out the characters to make them real, and putting them in situations which appear hopeless. I don't "hate" any aspects of writing but find dealing with editors who have limited experience in the multi cultural genre tiresome--explaining things to them your target reader audience will get.

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

1)How much the author is responsible for promotion. In the Harlem Renaissance, white sponsors paid for authors' living expenses and give them a stipend in exchange for him/her appearing at the "salons." Authors did nothing but write. Heaven! Those days are gone but I see a big difference between the novels I wrote in the 90's and those now. Then, publishers paid for tours, promotion, transportation, hotels and set up scheduled appearances. Now, publishers publish and the authors have to either do that themselves or hire a publicist. So authors write, promote, set-up, follow-up and make appearance all while being scintillating.

2) The absolute level of commitment, especially when on a deadline and you must essentially miss Christmas et al to meet it on time. And you always want to meet a deadline on time. Your reputation depends on it.

3) How much pleasure an author receives from appearing at Book Clubs where the members have already read the book, have their favorite parts and read to you. Ecstasy. Besides creating the novels, this remains one of my favorite things to do. u give us one do and one don't for those aspiring to be a writer? DO sit down and begin your novel. Writing is re-writing. Once you get a publisher they will have their own editors and you'll begin the process over again. If you don't write...there will be nothing to pitch/submit. DON'T get discouraged if the first line, paragraph, chapter doesn't flow. Keep going. It's like dancing or playing a video game or making love...the more you do it, the easier it gets. Don't give up, nothing beats a failure but a try.

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

Your time. Family and friends pay lip service to "understanding"your time commitment to honing your craft, but for their occasion/event, they want you to make that one exception. "No" is a complete sentence. "No, thank you" even better.

Tell us something few know about you?

I love country. Music that is... It's one of the last bastions of the singer-songwriter who also plays his/her own instrument. The heartfelt lyrics/sentiments of hearth, family values, pride and the language used as they weave great stories in a few minutes is an art in and of itself. Not the old nasal twang, but the Country of the last 15 years or so...George Strait, Kenny Chesney (my fav) and Miranda "Baggage Claim" Lambert, Rascal Flatts, Zac Brown....

When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time? Spend time with family and friends. Traveling for inspiration and relaxation. Gardening and eating. Not necessarily cooking but consuming. A movie and meal is still one of my most luxurious ways to spend an evening.

What do you do to interact with your readers?

Besides the Book Clubs which I love, I still personally answer all of my emails. It's a joy to read and respond to readers who get so "caught up" in my characters and call for sequels for them all.

Our theme for this month is BOOK READERS. Name your top five favorite books of all time.

Excellent question!! Wow! I tend to read authors... early on it was Maya Angelou because she wrote with such hope. Then Gloria Naylor, who took the classics and re-wrote them for our community i.e. "Bailey's Cafe" was Canterbury Tales. "Linden Hills"... Dante's Inferno. But the first book I recall embracing was "The Prophet" by Kahlil Gibran that my favorite uncle in California sent me for my 17th birthday. It spoke to me then and still does. Next book, "The Fire Next Time" by James Baldwin. Alex Haley's "Malcolm X" and then the first non-black book I carried everywhere and couldn't put down, Mario Puzo's "The Godfather." And I can't leave out the Thesaurus... I have a pet peeve of overusing the same words...it makes for lackluster reading... and shows no imagination.

Who was the first author you ever met?

Maya Angelou. She was on a book tour really early in her career after "Caged Bird," maybe for "And Still I Rise" and the Washington Post had a reception for her at the Sheraton Hotel on Woodley Rd. in D.C. She was my first....gracious then and now.

Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

I know it's later then we think. If there is something you want to do or say...you should do it today. This ain't no dress rehearsal. I also know that "life works out best for those who make the best of the way life works out."

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

Since my readers complain that I don't write long or fast enough, I'm working on a historical trilogy. I've also begun a screenplay for CAJUN MOON. Wish me luck!

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

My web site is www.gigigunn.net
My email address is gigi@gigigunn.net I'd love to hear from you!!

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Invisible Enemies Virtual Blog Tour with Lynda Brown



Invisible Enemies - A Fiction Novel

About the Book

Inspired by the Book of Job, Invisible Enemies reminds us that no matter what life throws our way, God is still in control! When God chooses Abby Harris as a pawn in his wager against Satan, poor Abby's life is turned upside down. Banned from her beloved church, Abby's hanging out with a new crew, drinking and getting high. When she runs into her sister's ex-boyfriend, they begin dating and soon she's pregnant and marries Randy Nelson. When the marriage turns sour, due to Randy's infidelities, Abby’s heart grows cold. By chance, she runs into a music producer who hears her singing, and overnight she becomes an R&B sensation. Abby plots to take her twins and leave her husband. When Randy finds out, he teams up with his ex, Candace, Abby's vengeful sister, to destroy her.

About the Author

Lynda D. Brown lives in St. Louis MO. She has one married son and a beautiful grandson. This is her second book, her first book, Once I Was Lost, was released in April of 2006, and she immediately began working on Invisible Enemies, which took four years to complete. Lynda has been researching Spiritual Warfare for the last six years, and in these last days, she wants to make sure that God's people do not perish due to lack of knowledge. (Hosea 4:6)

As an avid science fiction fan and a lover of all things supernatural, author Lynda D. Brown’s supernatural thriller series, Invisible Enemies is creating quite a buzz in the independent publishing field. Book one, Invisible Enemies was published in 2010 and became an immediate hit in the authors local library, and when book two, Seed of Satan: Leah’s Story, Book Two of the Invisible Enemies Series, arrived in January 2012, all copies were immediately checked out by fans that eagerly waited over a year for the sequel.

Author website: http://www.spokenwordpress.info



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Monday, May 14, 2012

FEATURED AUTHOR: Trisha Haddad



Trisha Haddad is a writer living in southern California. Her passions include reading and writing (of course!), international travel, visiting museums, afternoons spent at the library, and hanging out with her soulmate and their son. She is the author of Best of Luck Elsewhere and Nihon Nights (written with Monica Haddad).

How did you start out your writing career?

My grandmother was a writer so it writing was always a part of my life. Some grandmothers teach their granddaughters to cook or garden; my Nana taught me how to harness my daydreams in writing. After years of little stories, I wrote my first full novel at 17, then another at 19, and another at 22 (these are hiding in file drawers until I get the nerve to edit them). Best of Luck Elsewhere was my first published novel, which I finished in my mid-20s, and then Nihon Nights a couple years later which I wrote with my younger sister, Monica.

What did you learn while writing this book?

With Best of Luck, I learned the value of planning. I'd written maybe 100 pages when I realized the person I thought was the murderer did not have it in them. I'd been writing blind, discovering who it might be along with the reader. So I had to step back think through the whole story, and then go back and do a major edit of what I had. With Nihon Nights, I learned that as much as I disliked group projects in school, collaborating with my sister was a whole lot of fun!

What did you hope to accomplish with the books?

I love getting lost in a story, so I hope the books entertain readers. I'm also passionate about travel, and that is always a relevant part of my books which I hope helps a reader escape too-- to Santorini or Nagoya or Kauai or San Diego or wherever the character goes.

What came first with this story, the characters or the plot? Why?

The plot for sure on both. For example, with Nihon Nights, Monica and went back and forth trying to peg Abigail and London. We figured out Abigail pretty quick, but evidently we have different opinions on what makes a guy hot so it took a while for London, though we both sure like the guy that Genesis Press got for the cover!

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?

I've worked in publishing for all my of professional life since college, so much of it has been familiar. What I wasn't expecting was how much promotion is needed. I tend to be really shy, so agreeing to a book talk or a signing makes me nervous for weeks beforehand.

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

That's easy! I love writing. I dislike in-person promotion. Just can't get over that shyness.

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

1. The process of finding the right publisher takes a while. 2. Regardless of how shy or private you are, an author has to also be a marketing/publicity person for their books. 3. No matter how busy you get, there's always a bit of time to write. It might mean skipping some TV shows or stealing away to a park bench on your lunch break with a notepad, but there is always tiny bits of time.

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

DO find someone who you trust to read and critique your work. DON'T check Facebook if you are planning to write directly after (that thing is a time-suck and you may run out of time to write).

Tell us something few know about you?

I've kept a journals consistently since my 8th birthday. I have a large box full of old journals, around 40 of them! Someday my kids or grandkids are going to get a good chuckle out of my junior high school angst, and what a know-it-all I was in college, and how head-over-heels I was when I met the man I eventually married.

When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?

Read (of course!), travel (anything from a weekend trip up the coast to several weeks overseas... it is all good!), and spend time with my husband and kiddo.

Our theme for this month is BOOK READERS. Name your top five favorite books of all time.

Martin Eden, by Jack London
Hunger, by Knut Hamsun
The Promise of Light, by Paul Watkins
Letters to Malcolm, Chiefly on Prayer, by CS Lewis
Year of Wonders, by Geraldine Brooks (I actually just finished reading this, so I probably should give it more time to be sure I still feel this way, but it was absolutely fantastic. So, as of today, and as of this interview, it makes the list!)

Who was the first author you ever met?

My grandmother. In my first career-job out of college I worked at a literary agency, so I also met lots of authors I'd read and looked up to and that was a lot of fun.

Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

On a spiritual side, I know for sure that there is a God.

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

Sure! I finished the manuscript a few months ago, and it is titled Deep Green. The main character, Leah, prefers the adventure and romance of books, but during a cruise a terrorist attack leaves her adrift in a sparse lifeboat with several strangers. Environmental activist Blue McCree impresses her immediately with his knowledge of literature and philosophy. While she doesn’t quite agree with his “deep environmentalism,” his passion is enticing. Just as thrilling though is strong, dark Musir. He is slow to speak, translating his thoughts from Arabic to English, but his chivalry and beauty captivate Leah’s curiosity.

It’s after the darkest night, when an injured lifeboat passenger dies, that hope returns--land! Then it’s one danger after another as the group must find a way to survive.

But there are secrets that the survivors hold deep: a past full of sorrow for one, and connection to the terrorists from the ship for another. The truth will blow apart any semblance of civility and test Leah’s preconceived notions of just how far dedication can go before it crosses over into fanaticism.

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

My website is the best way, TrishaHaddad.com. I'll write back to anyone using the "Contact" feature.



Nihon Nights

Abigail Dennis has spent the last five years in exotic Japan, working her way up the ranks at English World. While the school has fallen into a financial crisis, Abigail trusts they will pull through. That is, until golden-curled London Crane arrives from Maui, hired to teach without any warning about the economic issues. Despite their immediate attraction, the relationship is strained with London’s cynicism and Abigail’s corporate loyalty.

Suddenly, English World’s CEO is missing. Rumors fly. London is impressed with the way Abigail protects her staff and, as the two explore temples, festivals, and each other, passion deepens.

Will the new love they’ve found survive the economic turmoil and criminal suspicions that surround them? Will Abigail survive at all?

Best of Luck Elsewhere

Eliza Tahan, assistant editor at J Press, worries she might become the target of a disgruntled author after her boss is murdered and a form rejection letter is found on the scene, and she’s suddenly the next target.

Toss in a tragic family history, an tumultuous present, and Eliza can barely hold her life together at a level of normalcy. She's certainly not equipped to be solving murders.

But when the Editor of the local newspaper becomes more than just a professional acquaintance, their growing passion urges Eliza to overcome her past and her passivity to find the author-turned-murderer before she is pegged with the crime or, worse yet, before she or someone she loves becomes the next victim.

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Friday, May 11, 2012

FEATURED AUTHOR: Ami Blackwelder



Ami Blackwelder is a romance suspense writer in the paranormal, scifi and historical genres. Growing up in Florida, she graduated UCF and in 1997 received her BA in English and additional teaching credentials. Then she packed her bags and travelled overseas to teach in Thailand, Nepal, Tibet, China and Korea. Thailand is considered her second home now. She has always loved writing and wrote poems and short stores since childhood; however, her novels began when she was in Thailand.

Having won the Best Fiction Award from the University of Central Florida (Yes, The Blair Witch Project University), her short fiction From Joy We Come, Unto Joy We Return was published in the on campus literary magazine: Cypress Dome and remains to this day in University libraries around the USA. Later, she achieved the semi-finals in a Laurel Hemingway contest and published a few poems in the Thailand’s Expat magazine, and an article in the Thailand’s People newspaper. Additionally, she has published poetry in the Korea’s AIM magazine, the American Poetic Monthly magazine and Twisted Dreams Magazine.

How did you start out your writing career?

I've always been a writer, since I I could write words, but my career began in 2010. I dabbled in publishing through small presses and epublishers in 2009, but did not sell that many. I decided to take the publishing career into my own hands and self-published in 2012. Now I consider myself an indie author, differentiating from self-publishing because indies have more of a business approach which is what I have learned over the past two years.

What did you learn while writing this book?

I learned I love stories about angels and intrigue. I've never done a thriller type of novel before and so this was really fun for me. The Shifter books I wrote, books 1-6, are suspenseful, but this YA book has the whole "who is the good and bad guy" thing going on and Ali is never quite sure.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

I hope to tap into the YA audience and grab them. I think this is something the YA readers will love.

What came first with this story, the characters or the plot?

Why? The plot came first and the characters unfolded. The plot continued to unfold as the characters grew...Sometimes the characters are first, but not in this story. In my graphic novella, the character Rain was first. In the Hunted of 2060, April came first, the character....but in this story, the plot came first. I had an idea I wanted to explore.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?

I love feedback from readers and fans. Fan letters alway shake me smile! I've gotten so much support that it amazes me!

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

I love creating a world for readers to enjoy, escape. Hate? I don't really hate any aspect, but if I had to name one, it would be the promoting. But on the other hand I like it too, because it gives me more time to interact with my readers.

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

To never distribute a book before it is really good enough to see. I've made that mistake too many times and people can be very critical.

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

Do find professionals to learn from and don't try to do it all yourself.

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

That writing is not easy. Many non-writers think telling a story is simple and many times it looks that way if a writer did his/her job well. But writing is full of complications from the first draft to the final story and from editing to cover designs, to decisions with promotions and getting the word out there. Readers could be a bit more sympathetic to how much work really goes into any book, even one with errors.

Tell us something few know about you?

I love music. Almost all kinds. Love dancing.

When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?

Read, movies (Hunger Games!), walking, swimming, sun bathing.

What do you do to interact with your readers?

Blog posts, interviews, Kindle Boards, forums, twitter, Facebook, blogger, author website

Our theme for this month is BOOK READERS.

Name your top five favorite books of all time.


Pride and Prejudice, Star Wars, Jaws, Chronicles of Narnia, Wither...

Who was the first author you ever met?

Met? Wow, um....I never met an author who is big time. I've met many indie published authors. When I started promoting my work I met many.

Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

I know for sure that I want to be an author, one who can make a living or supplemental living from writing.

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

YES! It is a Vampire novella. 3 parts. The first part is almost done.



VAMPIRE DYSTOPIA THRILLER Midnight: The Century of the Vampire

The year is 2175. The Century of the Vampire. No one could say for sure when the vampires began populating. Somewhere in 2100...the 22nd century. Humans remembered those silly stories told about vampires at bedtime and in mythical novels. The one rule: Never reveal yourself to the human world. Looking back, the notion became laughable. These vampires had their own number one rule: There are no rules.

Humans hid from these gruesome monsters for seventy-five years. Most did not survive. Vampires rule the earth now. ….unless vampire slayers Aura and Mark can help it.

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

http://amiblackwelder.blogpsot.com
All my info is there
touch-of-grace@hotmail.com



She Speaks to Angels

"I tried not to sound hysterical, but it’s not every day you find out the paranormal is hunting you."

What if everything you believed was a lie?

A Suicide

Seventeen year old Allison Maney attends Millennium High School in Manhattan. Nothing out of the ordinary, unless you consider the occasional suicides at the school. At least that is what everyone is told, what everyone believes. But Tommy Bachelor was a popular football player; why would he jump off the roof of the school?

Dangerous Liaisons When Dameon pays attention to Ali, she couldn't be more excited, because for the past three months he was all she could think about. But now that Dameon is finally pining for her affections, she is becoming more and more wrapped up in a clique of three who, as new transfers to the school, are proving to be trouble. But at least Dameon loves her, doesn't he?

Kian- a dangerous love interest she did not ask for.
Powers- belonging to an underworld she never knew existed.
A Clique- that could be friends or foes?

A Soul Purpose
The underworld of angels and demons have one thing on their mind: Earth.
Demons want to do what they want.
Angels want to protect humans from these rogue angels, AKA: Demons
For Allison Maney, everything is not exactly what it seems…
A Suspenseful Romance

Caught between Dameon and Kian, the suicide and the clique of three,
Ali won't know who to trust…or who to love.

BOOK TRAILER: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWorXi8Rxv8



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Wednesday, May 09, 2012

BLOG TOUR: Seeds From Mama's Garden



Seeds from Mama’s Garden is an inspiring, based-on-truth account of one woman’s journey to a rainbow of happiness, led by the spirit of her youth. With help, she weeds her life of the strangling debris of memories. Inspiration gives her the strength to uproot the pain of generational abuse, unearthing the source of the family’s unhappiness and their mother’s true identity; an accomplice in the crimes committed against her daughters.

At a time when KATARINA LEBLANC thought her world was settling close to normal, everything changed, again. An attempted rape opened the gates to a deluge of memories and dreams to which she began communicating with herself as a child, quickly reconciling the past, which she had buried long ago.

Therapist LAURA THOMKPINS, helped Katarina uproot the painful history of her family, cultivated generations before. Together with the heroine from her dreams, (herself at the age of the abuse) she unravels the mysteries which led to answers long awaited. Likened unto a flower that blossoms between the cracks in the sidewalk, she saw her youth as strong, beautiful and determined.

Her family’s garden had been tended by women who forsaken their desire for love and endured tainted relationships in exchange for the comforts of financial stability. Women like her grandmother MADEAR, whose brutal rape in a cotton field formed her opinion about men. LORAINE GERARD, her mother, who recklessly bore twelve children, fathered by ten men. When she married GENE GERARD, Loraine ultimately sacrificed her daughters to sexual torment by neglecting the sprouts of her womb and propagating seeds of lies, deception and denial.

Katarina develops a three dimensional view of her childhood, teenage years and adulthood. She and Laura examined the patterns Katarina displayed and suffered from repeatedly. Encounters with her younger self and therapy gives her insight into the relationships with her siblings and the part they play in the infestation of incest.

Ensuing weeks filled with emotional turmoil, became even more dramatic as Katarina fought to mask her pain while challenged with the assignment of a new account, Survivors of Abuse and Incest in Families (SAIF). TELLANI GRAYSON, a representative of SAIF and a clairvoyant, inspires Katarina by sharing visions of Katarina’s past and future.

With physical and spiritual forces bearing down, Katarina also struggled to emotionally cope with a separation from husband JONATHAN LEBLANC. His affair, accompanied by the assault leaves Jonathan desperate to scale the walls she’s built around her heart, while a budding new love interest, BRAXTON JUSTICE is overshadowed by Katarina’s need to end her family’s suffering.

First she must confront her mother Loraine, for failing to expose her husband, Gene for what he is; a child molester and rapist. Seen as his accomplice, Loraine ignores the fact that he may prey on yet the next generation of girls in the family.

Next is her sister LOUISE, who holds the truth as to the father of her first child, CLARISSA. Twenty five year old Clarissa only needs confirmation that her grandfather is actually her father.

In the end, Katarina experiences closure with her little spirit, setting her free of the vines that bound them.

Loraine and Gene are arrested, tried and convicted. During the trial, Clarissa reveals that she secretly tested Gene’s DNA to prove that he is her father. With vindication brings wholeness and healing for the family and Katarina blossoms into a new life.

Excerpt:

Aeration

I noticed God’s presence. He or she understood the pain I unleashed and, befitting the sadness, created the perfect scene. For at that very moment, darkness moved in and covered the cheerful glow of the sun, allowing me a moment to grieve.

Innocence was lost. The light that once filled my heart was now shrouded. Tears remained for what was lost or taken and all hope was buried with my dreams. Aware that I must face this unhappiness, I aerate the garden of my mind. Loosening the soil to increase the penetration of life giving elements, I uprooted the source of my pain. Pulling at the tangled roots of my past I fight to free myself from the stranglehold of the overgrowth of lies, deceit and denial.

* * *

Sitting quietly I held tight to the tapestry pillow on the sofa in the therapist’s office. The cold, stiff leather squeaked as I adjusted in my seat. Shadows cast, despite the absence of sunlight, darkening the antique upholstered chairs and walls lined with bookshelves. Laura Thompkins’ wavy, auburn hair cascaded long curls down onto her shoulders. Uncanny to the décor of the office or her age, she donned a compassionate, caring face bright with youth’s dew. I deducted that Laura’s devotion to her work was the fuel that drove her to spend numerous hours a day here; listening, taking notes, offering advice and seeking solutions.

Laura sat across from me, Katarina LeBlanc. At thirty two, I’m reliving my childhood. But not as you would think. I’m revisiting that time, led by my youth.

Clasping her hands together and leaning in, she asked, “Why don’t you describe the dream to me in detail?”

I hesitated while contemplating our initial visit, which exposed the fact that Laura had witnessed enough abuse to inspire a career to help women refuse to live as prisoners of their past. Well respected in her profession, I had read of her accomplishments. She carefully recommended and encouraged her patients into a more normal view of living in her books.

Normal, I chuckled at the reference. For the most part, normal is for people on the outside looking in. Many of us will never reach normalcy. Our lives have been altered forever.

Laura observed closely as I searched my heart and mind. With all my strength and where with all, I tried to maintain control. Focusing on a sunbeam that walked up the arm of the chair, I noticed by hour’s end, it had created a halo around Laura’s head.

Suddenly my sight is fixed on something or someone in a corner of the ceiling.

A concentrated look formed lines on Laura’s forehead. Momentarily, I thought maybe she’d thought I’d lost it. I shook my head to break up the war of memories which often consumed both awaken and sleeping hours. I stared back at the image up high. “We share each other’s thoughts, but somehow, she is the keeper of my memories.” The static crackled from the broken lines of communication from her voice in my head.

“I remember the first time I heard the small tiny voice. It was ever so quiet, but as time passed she became clearer and definitive, demanding to be heard.”

Quick scribbling of a pen and the slight rustle of pages quieted my sniffles as I fought to conceal the onslaught of tears.

With closed eyes and hung head, heavy images battled for attention. In my mind my eyes darted about the room. Like a camera lens, my pupils tried to freeze-frame one of the many thoughts.

I gasped to breathe between words detailing my awakening. “I was seated at the vanity … in what seemed to be my old bedroom … staring in the mirror … I reminisced … unhappy days spent in that room … in that house … in my life … like a ticker tape … across the mirror… glimpses of my past… piercing.”

Connecting to the pain, I grip my chest as I labored on. “No one thought more prevalent … just space … emptiness … a deep void … a pit … gray … in black and white … shadows … wooden … the floor and furniture all lacking color … like food missing salt … bland and tasteless … cracks in the walls … pulling apart … that’s ironic … my family torn apart … painfully … like shin splints.”

Laura flipped a page on her notepad drawing my attention. Without opening my eyes, I turned my head and cocked it to the side, temporarily removed from my trance. She paused, “you were saying?”

“Suddenly … in the mirror I see a little brown eyed girl … about nine or ten … shy and thin … her hair parted down the middle … braided on each side … like Madear used to comb my hair … I hated that style … she’s wearing my favorite dress … I hear her say ‘It’s me!’… I turned around and she’s not there … I’m not afraid … I stare back without a word … finally I said hello … anticipation … In my head I hear, ‘I’ve been waiting’… my throat tightened … choke back the deep sadness … a sorrow … can’t speak … her eyes plead … ‘See me!’” A bead of sweat rolled down my face and blended into my tears. The trance ensued as I nervously wringed my hands.

“Stares never wavered… eyes telegraphed so much… she’s so sad… I asked her name… but she did not respond… I see her tears… they run the length of her caramel colored, heart shaped face… I reach to wipe away my own… then, as quickly as she appeared… she turned away and vanished… the darkness enveloped me.”

Cries ripped up my throat and uncontrollable sobbing broke free from the containment I fought for so long. “It was me. She was me.”

“Was she?” Laura coaxed.

“Yes. I don’t know.”

“Why do you think she met you there?” Laura guided.

“I didn’t remember her. I forgot.” Through my grief, I reached up to her in the corner. I needed her forgiveness, she needed my love. It was more than I was willing to face.

“But you remember now. You went home to reconnect and you did Katarina.”

Reality was sucked in like a vortex. I realized that I had totally opened up. I felt naked. This dream had ripped out both my heart and that of the little girl of my past. I affectionately call her, my spirit.

Recovering from my momentary weakness, I challenge the mystical message. “But the dream was dark and gloomy. My memories of home are filled with color.”

“But those dark memories were hidden and are now resurfacing in your dreams. You have to think about what she is trying to tell you,” Laura reasoned.

“I’m sorry. I can’t… I have to go. I, I’m sorry.” Snatching my handbag, I walk away as fast as my legs would carry me avoiding Laura’s attempt to stop me.

“Katarina, wait!”

I heard Laura’s call in the distance before I burst through the glass doors of the building getting hit in the face with the humidity synonymous withNew Orleans. Running to my car, the thick air challenged my breathing, bringing me inches away from hyperventilation. I trembled from the voice that lingered in my head.

Safely inside, I locked the door and started the car. Turning the air up full blast, I angled the vent directly into my face and let the cold air slap me in the face.

Reruns of my dreams played over and over in my head as I drove in the evening’s maze of traffic. Idling at a stoplight, I broke away from the confusion to assess the damage to my make-up. My image. My mask.

Pulling down the visor, expecting to see red and puffy eyes, the result of mascara filled tears, I see the eyes of my little spirit.

The honking horn of an impatient driver jolts me back.

Katherine “Kat” Smith is formerly a co-host of a four year, syndicated morning radio program with ABC Radio Networks, Inc. Her Wednesday one hour show, A Woman’s Point of View, focused on relationships.

Recently certified as a relationship coach Kat also created and manufactures a communication game for couples. She is native of New Orleans, who learned early that life is not fair, it’s just life. One of twelve siblings from ten fathers, Kat was born to a mother who’s own confusion with love created damaging patterns that she and her sisters repeated in their own relationships. Now she speaks to help women who cannot articulate or communicate their experiences with topics that concentrate on love and life enrichment, clarity of message in both career or personal relationships and recovery.

Kat is the author of several books including Romantic Retreats in Texas, Seeds From Mama’s Garden and has several programs and products that support healthy emotional living.

Get to know Katherine:

1. What inspires you as an author?

Stories inspire me. My life has been filled with vivid stories both real and fiction. This story is based on a true account of my life. I changed the names ever so slightly to protect myself, not the guilty. I wanted to share this story with the hope that it may inspire just one woman to release her bonds from childhood trauma and live a life filled with love, free from what haunts her.

2. Are there strong female characters in this story?

Yes, I believe in our strength and gratefully I was given examples of that in my life and I cherish that. We don’t have to use that strength against ourselves by being combative or by sabotaging our relationships. We have to balance that strength with love and self nurturing. Katarina LeBlanc, is my main character. She find strength in her mentor and boss, Susan Williams who takes her under her wing and grooms her with love and support. They have a special bond. Katarina also experiences the failing of love as she endures a separation from her husband Jonathan. But with a twist of fate, love blossoms elsewhere for Katarina.

3. You use horticulturist terms to identify the chapters in Seeds From Mama’s Garden. What is the significance?

From the seed we grow. From seeds gardens grow. Although these chapters show a chronology of the growth of the characters in the book, they also represent growth in life and how if we neglect our gardens they can get over run with weeds and the not so pretty things that grow there. But, if we cultivate and nurture them, they produce beauty and harvest. Katarina learns that seeds of deception and pain were propagated in her family’s garden and the keeper was none other than her mother, Lorraine.

4. How is the story is laced with a touch of spirituality?

Katarina is forced to deal with her past when she sees visions of a nine year old. Laura, her therapist guides her into a session where Katarina relays a dream. When she realizes its meaning it starts the spiral into her struggle to uproot the weeds that choke her life’s happiness. In addition, the Universal powers will not allow her to bury her past any longer. At work she is assigned a new client; SAIF (Survivors of Abuse and Incest in Families). Tellani Grayson, their representative and a clairvoyant can see this little spirit and the pain that Katarina carries with her.

5. Now the cover is quite an eye catcher. You designed it, so how did you come up with the design.

There is three messages in the cover: Sin of the flesh, is represented by nakedness. Seed of the womb for the female body and the southern woman is represented by the magnolias. I am born and raised in New Orleans, and have very full and colorful memories of my life there. Especially with my Grandmother, Madear. Honestly, that is what we called her. My cousins called her Greenie. And we refer to her mother, my great grandmother as Mama Jo.(Short for Josephine). They were strong women and I wanted to honor them in my story along with my sisters which I liken to various trees that matched their personalities.

6. What about you personally? What do you want readers to know about you?

I am passionate about my craft of writing. I have eight books now with the recent release of two at the same time: Seeds From Mama’s Garden and a romantic Texas travel guide – Romantic Retreats in Texas. Presently, I am now on chapter eight of my next book. I love writing and publishing. I created an event in Dallas called the Muse Literary Mingle where I feature a publishing professional each month (i.e. author, agent, editor, etc). It is a casual, after work gathering which allows networking and one-on-one conversations with the guests and the opportunity to sell and promote their books and services. I have volunteered for literary organization and provided consultations for those seeking publication. In the past I was a model and actor. I am the eighth of 12 children, 6’2” tall and I love to cook, travel and the ocean.

7. Who are your favorite authors?

Again, I am drawn to stories of strong female characters. Toni Morrison won me over with Song of Solomon, Beloved and Bluest Eyes. As a young girl I was introduced to Victoria Holt to which now I have an entire collection. Mostly I read inspirational books.

Web-Links:

FB https://www.facebook.com/LoveEnthusiast
Linked in http://www.linkedin.com/in/katherinekatsmith
Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/goddesskat
Google Plus https://plus.google.com/110552778707315826291/posts?hl=en
Website www.kat-smith.com
Blog www.kat-smith.blogspot.com

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Monday, May 07, 2012

FEATURED AUTHOR: Sadeqa Johnson

Sadeqa Johnson is a former public relations manager for G.P Putnam's Son's, Riverhead books and Scholastic Inc. After several years of working with well-known authors such as JK Rowling, Bebe Moore Campbell, Amy Tan and Bishop TD Jakes, Johnson is now the co-founder of 12th Street Press, a boutique publishing company specializing in unique voices. No stranger to a long distance relationship, Johnson dated her husband long distance for three years, before marrying and starting a family in northern New Jersey. An inner peace advocate, Johnson is a meditation teacher and motivational speaker. For more visit, www.sadeqajohnson.com.

How did you start out your writing career?

I started off wanting to be an actress. I was a theater major living in New York when I started fooling around with poetry which turned to playwriting, screenwriting and ended up with novel writing. I landed a job working in publishing after college and it was there that I became very serious about my writing. Love in a Carry-on Bag took me over ten years to finish. I started writing it when I was a publicity manager at G.P Putnam’s Sons. Every day I closed my office door at four o’clock and wrote for the last hour of the workday. On my commute home, I edited the pages. I got married and left my corporate job to write and raise my children, but still nursed a burning desire to tell this story. I wrote during naptimes, between feedings, in the midst of sleep deprivation and ear infections. My husband calls me the most dedicated woman he knows because I stayed the course, even with the daily pressures of caring for a young family. I truly believe that the first novel is where you learn to write, so it was important for me to be patient with the process and give my life and the story time to unfold. My characters follow me everywhere. I wake up thinking about them like I do my children.

What did you learn while writing this book?

Patience is most definitely a very important virtue. I often think of writing as cooking a stew. You can’t rush the vegetables to soften, and all of the juices and flavors to compliment each other on the first try. It’s important to constantly add and layer what you have, and then let it simmer and marinate. When it’s ready it’s ready.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

I wanted readers to experience true love while sinking into a story with characters that lingered long after the last page. I also wanted to establish myself as a serious writer who crafted an unforgettable story.

What came first with this story, the characters or the plot? Why?

That’s an interesting question. A little of both. I knew I wanted to write a long distance love story because my husband and I started off in a long distance relationship. He was from D.C., living in Philadelphia. I was from Philadelphia, living in New York City. The highs and lows of only being together seventy-two hours per week was heart wrenching, but also hot, sexy and intoxicating. The intensity of that experience drove me to write the story of Erica and Warren but it was the characters that led the story, the plotting of it was actually very difficult for me and took nine drafts to get right.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?

I am extremely busy. It’s funny because it’s what I’ve always dreamed of but now that I’m in the thick of things I’m exhausted. I keep telling myself to forge on, call one more bookstore, update my tour schedule and do it with grace. My favorite part of the experience is being interviewed and signing books, so thanks for featuring me in SORMAG.

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

I love writing period. It’s a joy to show up everyday in my office and get to devote hours of my time to the craft that I love. Watching the story unfold, hearing the characters whisper their secrets to me, it really is like magic. What I don’t like about writing is that when I don’t get to write I feel this enormous amount of guilt, but I’m working on that because guilt is a lower vibration and adds nothing to this journey. Guilt be gone.

What is something that you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?

I wish I would have been more connected with the marketing aspect of the book and sent bookstores advance copies months before the book was available to build the momentum.

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

Do make it a point to write something everyday. Don’t put the pressure on yourself of having to write for long stretches of time, 10 minutes before bed is a great place to start. Don’t always feel like you have to be at a computer, do carry a notepad and pen with you everywhere because you never know when the muse will strike. Don’t give up even when you feel like you can’t write one more draft, do believe that you can absolutely do anything that you put your mind too.

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

Writers really need to work without being disturbed. My family often calls during my writing time and say, “I only have one quick thing to tell you.” Yes, but one quick thing can make me forget a whole chapter or plot development that was just starting to germinate. We need space to create.

Tell us something few know about you?

I went ziplining last year in St. Martin on my birthday. It was my idea and when we got to the tippy top of the mountain I tried to chicken out but my husband and tour guide fastened me to the cable sent me down the hill. It was the best daredevil experience of my life. Can’t wait to try it again.

When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?

I’m married with children and in my spare time I really enjoy being with them bike riding, swimming, traveling, eating raw oysters, playing tennis and I just started taking African dance. I like to watch Oprah’s Lifeclass, practice meditation and sit in the sun.

What do you do to interact with your readers?

I try to blog as much as possible, post on Facebook and Twitter. My novel has only been out a few weeks but I’m really excited about skyping with book clubs and chatting about LOVE IN A CARRY-ON BAG.

Our theme for this month is BOOK READERS. Name your top five favorite books of all time.

There Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Are You There God, it’s Me Margaret by Judy Blume
Sugar by Bernice McFadden
Mama by Terry McMillan
Harry Potter (all 7 books) by JK Rowling

Who was the first author you ever met?

Bebe Moore Campbell. I went to Freedom Theatre, a summer school for the arts with her daughter Maia in Philadelphia. We were in a local bookstore together and she plucked Sweet Summer off the shelf and said, this is my mom’s book and my mouth flew open. I met Ms. Campbell a few days later and she gave me an autograph copy which is prominently displayed in my living room.

Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

If you don’t give it your full out effort, you won’t succeed. It sounds cliché but you really can do anything if you believe it and don’t let anything get in your way.

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

In my next novel, I really want to focus on shame and secrecy. I’ve had this idea of writing the story of a stay-at-home mom drowning in domestic bliss having lost all sense of self. After three children, one with a genetic condition, she realizes this is not the life she has signed up for but feels stuck. She’s lugging around a secret past that her husband doesn’t know about, but it only takes one telephone call for her carefully sculpted world to crash.

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

I would love for readers to stay in contact with me! I’m on twitter @sadeqasays, Facebook /SadeqaJohnson and my website is http://www.sadeqajohnson.com/. I also have a few youtube clips that I’d love for you to check out so please go and search Sadeqa Johnson.



Can a long distance love affair really survive?

Erica Shaw spends her week babysitting the country’s bestselling authors for one of the top publishing companies in New York City. But on Friday nights she escapes to DC, where her sexy-lipped musician boyfriend, Warren Prince, works and performs. Their connection is fierce, and the couple promises to never miss a weekend together. But when real life walks in—an overbearing father, an alcoholic mother, office politics, and a lucrative job contract—the couple starts unraveling at the seam. Tempers flare, violence breaks, while new lovers eagerly wait in the wings—to claim both of them.

Drenched in the perils of passion and the sweet-sounds of jazz, Johnson dives deep into the world of ambition and the stumbling blocks of family. Clever, fast-paced and sexy, Love in a Carry-on Bag is a modern day love story that marks the healing power of forgiveness and begs the question, how much baggage is really too heavy to carry.

Love in a Carry on Bag Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sa2hIYd-ndU

Author Interview Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yxbix9MaZvg

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Friday, May 04, 2012

FEATURED AUTHOR: Janice Angelique




Janice Angelique was born in Jamaican West Indies, now lives in Parkland, Florida with her husband of 40 years and her two dogs.

How did you start out your writing career?

I started out by a writing children’s book (ducky grows up, featured on Kindle) also a poetry book, also on Kindle.

What did you learn by writing this book?

I love writing in this genre

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

For a wider reading audience

What came first with this story, the characters or the plot? Why?

The characters came first. My son actually came up with the leading man. In most of my writing the plot comes to me while I’m writing.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?

Still to be very careful of whom I put my trust in regarding my work

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

I actually love all aspects of writing except doing those dreaded synopsis and query letters

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

I’m still a struggling author, but I wish I’d known that not all publishers and editors are created equal. Unfortunately people are not always what they claim to be. Editors don’t know everything and publishers don’t always know which book will hit it big. So far I’ve met one editor who was very nasty.

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer.

You will get a lot of rejection letters, put them all in a junk drawer and if you seriously want to become a writer, don’t give in or give up no matter what anyone says.

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

It’s not an easy profession. You really need to toughen up and work hard. Be creative.  Be original.  You can bend the rules a little but not all the way.

Tell something few know about you?

I am very determined. I am extremely approachable. I take friendship very seriously. I absolutely hate dishonesty and people who are pretentious.

When you’re not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?

I’m always writing because I’m always thinking of the next book, the next plot. Between my 2 dogs, my granddaughter, my family and working with a non-profit organization, Angel’s From Heaven based in South Florida, I have very little spare time. I however, do love to listen to music.

What do you do to interact with your readers?

I’m on Face book, twitter, I blog on my website, jmullings.com and I occasionally do signings.

Top favorite books:

The Twilight Saga, The Bourne series

Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

I’ll keep writing even when I have only one reader left.

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

I just got finished with Immortal Kiss and I’m working on the sequel where things really heats up. Hildi comes into her own as a full witch. The gods get more involved, and my favorite of all, the Rahjah Rastafarians whom I created in my first book, Angels Paradise are back in full force. I just love the people and their culture. I’ve also just finished a romance novel, The Upside Of Down.

How can readers get in touch with you? (Mail, Email, website)

My website is http://www.jmullings.com/ they can also email me at janiceangelique@gmail.com. I love getting feedback about my work or even if they just want to say hello.



On her twenty-fifth birthday, Hildi overheard a conversation between her father and uncle that chilled her to the bone.  Her mother’s life was threatened by the son of a man she had killed in self defense twenty years ago. But little did Hildi know that she would receive an out of this world gift from a man she had never met before, but one who had waited over two hundred years to meet her.

Made by a witch, touched by the gods, for a long time he had waited. Through pain, Neophi finally met the woman of his dreams. Born in Nairobi, Africa two-hundred and twenty-five years ago, his existence was shrouded by mystery and intrigue.

When Hildi and Neophi met, it was literally, electrifying. One touch of his hand and she was thrown to the ground right there on the streets of Manhattan. But that didn’t stop them from trying to connect with each other. In a bloody battle between vampires, wolves, immortals and mortals the two touched and began their journey into a life of unbridled passion and unrelenting danger. They would become one with a price so high no mortal could endure. But if death was to be their earthly reward, they would gladly sacrifice themselves for each other.




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