Thursday, August 31, 2006

32 Best Romances

I read on Isabel Swift blog she was compiling a list of the all time best romances. So I thought why not see what we can come up with. Maybe I'll send our list to her when we're done.

From today until next Thursday, list your all time best romances (MC). You know the ones you continue to go back to, the ones that have a special place on your book shelf and the ones you didn't lend out.

Monday, August 28, 2006


Editor's Note:

We met Tamika when she introduced us to her non-fiction book. She's venturing into the fiction world with her new book. SORMAG wishes her many blessings with this new book.

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

Tamika Johnson:
Sure! I am a mother of a 20 month old daughter, the CEO of the #1 African American Christian Publishing Company, Leading Lady Publications; the author of three books; a High School Dance Teacher, and Miss Black Delaware USA 2006. So needless to say, I am a very busy person!

SORMAG: Tell us about your current book?

Gladly! Meet Me At the Altar is my second book and first Christian Romance Novel. Meet Me At the Altar is an incredible story of redemption and forgiveness and has been receiving rave reviews. You don’t have to take my word for it, I would love for everyone to read a recent review from Tyora Moody of

The novel opens up with an introduction to the four main characters. Shana is a divorced single mom with a precocious six year old. Her marriage ended abruptly after finding her husband in the bed with another man. Derek is the typical nice guy looking for love, but unfortunately has found it in the wrong places. He still has not quite gotten over the destruction to his life and business by an unscrupulous woman. Derek’s cousin, Shawn has decided married life is not for him. After his wife, Desiree, had their daughter and stopped working, Shawn feels unattracted to the woman he once swooned over. Sherry has learned quite well how to use her body to get what she wants from men. One of her victims was Derek. Now she is back, but Derek has his eyes on someone else. Derek believes God has finally sent the right one his way as he begins a friendship with Shana. A little tentative, Shana does embrace her new relationship with reservations. Not completely understanding how Shana’s ex-husband hurt her, Derek misinterprets her conflicting emotions as though he must not be good enough for her. While Shana tries to deal with her new relationship, she also is adjusting to new business opportunities
and to her new business partner, Desiree. Still struggling over how Shawn treated her, Desiree struggles with bitterness and is not interested in dealing with Shana’s strong faith. Desiree is determined to take on a new client that is causing some unease for Shana. Unfortunately, Shana’s uneasiness maybe a sign she shouldn’t ignore. Reviewed by Tyora Moody-May 9, 2006

To read more reviews please visit:

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

Wow – so many things. Let me start by saying that Meet Me At the Altar was written after my very painful divorce. I was in a unhealthy marriage and was eight
months pregnant when my husband of two years left. I had just finished college and was in more than seventy thousand ….yes, $70,000 worth of debt due to school loans and debt incurred during the marriage – and I was making a mere $800 each month working as an After School Director. Needless to say I was very bitter and turned my back on the One who could make everything alright – God. When I finally broke down and cried like a baby, asked God for forgiveness and re-dedicated my Heart, Mind, Body, and Soul to do His Will at the Altar, things turned around in a matter of days! I was offered a job making three times what I was making (I was hired pregnant!), and best of all my mental and emotional state were better.

With the birth of my daughter December 2004 my dreams were restored and I began to write what I consider to be one of the best love stories I have ever read. Now here I am nearly two years later with a healthy daughter and engaged to a wonderful man who makes me feel beautiful every time I am in his presence, and my spiritual relationship with Christ is whole!

So…to answer your question – In addition to literary entertainment, I want women and men to understand that no matter who may have said that you were worthless – God is there to restore our damaged hearts. I also want readers to capture the beauty in the love stories between the couples in the book, as well as with God. Finally, I want readers to be inspired by the struggles and triumphs each character goes through.

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

I get immersed in the lives of my characters and have slated Meet Me At the Altar as a three part series as I would like to give each character a full story. I am also in the process of writing Meet Me At the Altar the stage play, which I hope to debut February 2007 – so stay tuned! I wouldn’t say that I have a hard tie letting go, but I do enjoy developing a character.

SORMAG: What do you feel is the key to writing convincing characters?

I would say that it is important for a writer to draw on what he or she knows or has personally experienced. If a writer wants to write about something unfamiliar, it is important to research the topic so that one can accurately write the emotions and other
characteristics that will make a character believable.

Also, I think it is important to have others read your work for believability of the characters. For example, it was important for me to write convincing male characters so I had my fiancé read the book and critique their conversations and display of emotions. This paid off when a couple of the book reviewers commented on the fact that the males were believable.

SORMAG: What makes your writing style unique?

I think that every author puts his or her own unique voice into their work – however, I would say that my style is unique in that I tend to go against the grain
and write what people don’t expect in traditional romance. My books deal with domestic violence, homosexuality, forgiveness, etc. and yet, a beautiful love story is always at the forefront.

SORMAG: What are you doing to promote your book?

I am gearing up for a Blog Tour so if anyone would like to interview me during the month of September and October, please let me know so I can mail you a review copy.

I am also blessed to be connected with a National Book Distributor – Midpont Trade Books so the book will be available to bookstores nationwide. That is just some
of what I am doing.

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

Hmmm…Honestly, what surprised me the most was the fact that I actually did it! It’s one thing to state a fact or dream, it is another thing altogether to actually bring that dream into reality. The publishing of Meet Me At the Altar and the establishment of Leading Lady Publications are destined for great success and that is an exciting thing.

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

I like to spend quality time with my daughter who is the most hilarious little girl I have ever met! She loves to dance and sing and we do that together quite often. But I make it a point to give her her special time each day in the morning and evening. Once she goes to bed I give myself at least one hour before jumping back into work to lay around and do NOTHING! I also love to dance and read.

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

For more information about me, please go to: or For more information about our upcoming books or
publishing through Leading Lady Publications, please visit:, call 302-670-8767, or mail a request to 521 Washington Ave, Chestertown, MD 21620.

EXCERPT - Meet Me At the Altar

Meet Me At the Altar
By Tamika Johnson
Publisher: Leading Lady Publications
ISBN: 0977674673

~Chapter Two Excerpt~

Shana pulled into the nearly full parking lot of Love Temple Baptist Church and was happy to see that she wasn’t the only one late. It was 10:45 and a mass of people were walking through the front door. When Shana and Kayla reached the door, Shana was delighted to discover that she wasn’t late at all because service didn’t begin until 11:00. She didn’t know when Love Temple changed the time of the service, but she was glad they had. She was even happier that Kayla had put up such a fuss to attend service today. And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them…that’s what the Bible said in Isaiah 3:4.
“Good morning, Baby!” An older woman greeted Shana, pulling her into a bear hug before Shana could focus on her face.
“I am so happy to see you Baby. Where have you been?” the woman asked. Her face looked familiar. Wanting to greet her by name, Shana quickly searched her mind but was saved when the woman turned her attention to Kayla.
“This can’t be little Kayla. I haven’t seen you since you were three years old.” She smiled down into a pair of adoring eyes.
“Mother Howell!” Kayla exclaimed, throwing her arms around the robust woman.
“That’s right, Mother Howell was her name. That’s two saves from Kayla today,” Shana thought as she plastered a smile on her face and hugged Mother Howell. She’d always liked the woman. Mother Howell was Shana’s image of a classic grandmother figure; she was plump, always smiling, and smelled of sweet baked goods. She’d also been wearing the same short curly afro wig for as long as she could remember. Mother Howell was real; she was constant, something Shana hadn’t had in a long time. Kayla, ever the social butterfly, quickly found a friend from school and the two ran off to Children’s Church.
Just when Shana found herself feeling out of place, Mother Howell pulled her down and whispered in her ear, “Let the Lord have his way, Baby. Don’t think about anything that is going on in your life; just let God be God!”
That’s exactly what Shana planned to do – let God be God. She couldn’t explain it, but she felt good being in church. She even smiled at a few people she knew as she was escorted to the third pew – her old seat from when she was a music minister years earlier. The placement of the seat, the smell of the building, and familiar faces caused a plethora of memories, both good and bad, to flood her mind. Shana was happy to be in church, but this was just too much too fast. She turned to find the usher, to protest and ask to be moved, but lost her voice when she found herself staring into the eyes of what had to be the most handsome man she’d ever seen.
“Praise the Lord, Sister,” he greeted her with an alarming smile. To her horror, Shana found that she’d lost control of all social skills. She tried to smile, but her face was frozen in place; Shana attempted to speak, but she couldn’t seem to get around the marbles in her mouth. Shana simply stared like a schoolgirl – that was until she saw his eyes roam her body appreciatively.
“Have an eye problem?” She whispered coldly.
“Uh…” he stuttered. He had the nerve to look embarrassed and his apologetic face softened Shana a bit, but only for a fleeting moment. He needed to be taught a lesson about respecting women. Had he even thought about the embarrassment he had caused her by devouring her with his eyes?
“Uh, what?” Shana raised her voice slightly and she was happy Kayla was in Children’s Church, so she didn’t have to see her get ignorant.
“I’m sorry,” he muttered.
“Well you should be.” Shana started to really light into him when he gave her that sexy grin again.
“It’s just that you’re so beautiful, I forgot where and who I was.” He gave her a pointed look. Shana was used to men saying things like this to her, but…good God from Zion, he was serious!
“Don’t let it happen again,” was the only reply Shana could muster after a comment like that. He’d called her beautiful. Truth be told, she hadn’t had a man look at her like that in years, not anyone she found attractive anyway. This was going to be a long day.
Realizing she’d left her Bible in her car, she turned to ask him where the extra Bibles were kept when he stood abruptly.
“By the way,” he extended his hand, “I’m Derek. Derek Chance.”
“Shana Jackson,” she replied, putting her small hand into his large one. Despite its warmth, she found herself shivering from his touch. Before the conversation could go any further, Mr. Chance moved to the front of the church and began singing “Praise Is What I Do” by William Murphy, III. Derek had a beautiful baritone voice that commanded the attention of the congregation. All conversation ceased and everyone began to worship as Derek continued to sing, and the organist followed him with heavenly music.
“So this is the person who replaced me as praise and worship leader,” Shana thought dryly. She tried to sit in her seat, unmoved by his voice and the words of the song, but tears soon burned her eyes, and she lifted her right hand, then left hand in surrender.
“This is it,” Shana thought to herself as tears flowed down her cheeks. “This is what I’ve been missing and needing in my life.” Not bothering to wipe away the tears that had clustered on her chin, Shana threw her head back and began to sing. As if a microphone was placed in front of her, her voice filled the small sanctuary and a few members turned to see who owned the angelic voice.
After leading the congregation in two more songs, “The Best is yet to Come,” by Donald Lawrence and the Tri-City Singers, and “Because of Who You Are,” by none other than her girl, Martha Munizzi, Derek returned to his seat. Derek had experienced Shana’s voice with everyone else and felt that they’d made beautiful music together. Their harmony had been perfect, and Derek found himself wanting to remain in worship forever beside this majestic creature called Shana Jackson.
Shana could feel Derek’s gaze as she tried to get herself together after that last song. She thought about everything the Lord had done for her. For some reason, God had allowed her business, Alpha and Omega Public Relations, to prosper even though she really hadn’t been to one church service in more than two years. Shana remembered how God had kept her sane after her ex-husband tried to destroy her; and she reflected on the last three years as a single parent. Her child didn’t lack for anything. God had been good!
Derek handed her a Kleenex, his eyes full of questions. When he opened his mouth to voice them, Shana shook her head as if to say, “Don’t ask.”
“What was he going to say?” she wondered. Would he ask if she was okay? She didn’t know what he was going to say, but the last thing she wanted was anyone’s pity at the moment. She just wanted to bask in the glory of God. It had been too long since she’d been in His presence – much too long.
Bishop Howell, Mother Howell’s son, preached a wonderful message about being bold when approaching the throne of grace and asking God for something. He came from Psalms 82:6 - I have said, ye are gods; and all of you are children of the Most High. Stating that as children of the Most High, they had the authority to command things to happen here on Earth. Shana was so moved at times she lifted up her hands and joined in the steady chorus of “yes!” and “preach!” with the rest of the congregation. It was as if Bishop Howell was preaching directly to her spirit – she had forgotten who she was and to whom she belonged. She was a servant and child of the Most High God.
Shana wasn’t surprised when Derek spoke to her after the service; she’d noticed him sneaking glances at her throughout the sermon.
“I remember you from before,” he said.
“What?” Shana’s replied tersely.
“You used to lead praise and worship service,” he explained. “I remember your incredible voice. Back then I sat in the back row.”
“Oh.” Shana, who had never learned to pack light, was struggling to balance her large pocketbook in one hand and her Bible and three-ring binder in the other.
“Let me help you…”
“I don’t need any help,” Shana replied curtly, moving into the aisle behind the other members who were migrating slowly toward the door. Why didn’t he just leave her alone? Couldn’t he see that he was having a profound effect on her? Didn’t he understand that every time he moved she was inebriated by his cologne?
“Okay, okay.” Derek held up both hands in surrender. “So where is your husband?” Derek blurted as they stepped into the sunlight, not wanting to let her leave just yet. He wanted to kick himself for the stupid question; he knew she wasn’t married anymore. He wasn’t sure of the details, but he remembered that the church was split for quite some time over Leon and Shana Jackson. So why did he ask that dumb question? It was probably because he hadn’t had a lady friend in more than three years and didn’t know why this one was making his insides turn to liquid.
“I’m single, as in not married, so mind your business,” Shana answered cutting her eyes at him. Sheesh! Everyone always wanted to be in her business.
“And a little sassy,” he said, giving her that unnerving grin.
He was definitely getting on her nerves; but why did that smile make her go weak in the knees. And those hands, they were big and strong like a man’s should be. Shana could only imagine those hands on her…
“You are going straight to Hell, Shana; you shouldn’t want this man like this!” Shana admonished herself. But so help her, this man was fine!
“I’m…I’m…sophisticated,” Shana stuttered breathlessly. She cleared her throat. “Sophisticated.” She said the word a little stronger this time before turning to walk toward her car.
“I hope he isn’t watching me walk away,” she thought and then realized that not only was he watching her walk away, but he was also following her. She tried to play it cool, like she didn’t see him, but the horror of all horrors happened…she tripped! Her Bible and binder flew one way, and the contents of her purse the other. As her right knee hit the ground, Shana put her arms out in front of her to cushion what she knew was going to be a painful fall, but someone caught her under her arms. Catching a whiff of the intoxicating cologne, she knew it was Derek.
“Careful now,” he whispered in her ear, steadying her by the waist with his hands. Those big, strong…
“See what you made me do?” she practically yelled. Her face was flushed with embarrassment as she knelt to collect her belongings.
“What did I do?” he asked trying to keep a laugh from tumbling out. She had looked so comical flailing her arms back and forth. Shana looked at him for a moment before sucking her teeth and turning back to her retrieval project. He knew that he should be helping her gather stuff, but Shana was bent over in a position that made him hold his breath.
“I saved you from scratching your pretty face.” He answered his own question in an attempt to shake himself out of the trance. “Miss Sassy, Single, and Sophisticated” was nothing short of mesmerizing.
Shana whirled around at the words. “I wouldn’t have fallen if you weren’t stalking me!” Shana exclaimed, breaking into a brisk walk toward her car. She didn’t care that she had left some pens and about three dollars worth of change on the ground. Shana also wasn’t prepared for the pain that shot through her entire right leg and darn if she didn’t trip again! This time her purse and its contents flew under her car.
“Whoops!” Derek couldn’t help it…he doubled over in laughter.
“Shut up,” Shana said, kneeling to collect her things for the second time in less than two minutes. If he wasn’t so fine, she would have smacked him right in his mouth.
“Here, let me help you,” Derek said getting on his hands and knees. A lipstick applicator had rolled to the midpoint under Shana’s car and she was attempting to get it without showing all of her goods or putting pressure on her wounded knee but wasn’t having much luck…her thigh was peaking out from under her dress. Derek would have loved to continue watching Shana squat before him, but he was raised better than that.
“I don’t need you or your so-called help you…you…stalker.” She tried to push him out of the way. Before she could blink twice, Derek was handing her the lipstick applicator, and…a tampon.
“Could this moment be any more embarrassing?” She asked herself, snatching both items out of his hands, and ignoring the gleam in his eyes.
“Thank you,” she offered grudgingly.
“That doesn’t sound very grateful, Sis,” Derek teased.
“What do you want me to do, get down on my hands and knees and kiss your feet?” she asked angrily.
“That would be a good start,” Derek said with a straight face. He winced as Shana turned a pair of dark brown eyes on him. If looks could kill, he would have vaporized into thin air.
“Look,” Shana started to reply but was interrupted by Kayla, who was holding the hand of Mother Howell.
“Mom?” Kayla questioned.
“Yes, Baby?” Shana responded, though her eyes never left Derek’s face.
“What happened?” Kayla asked, her eyes focused on Shana’s swollen knee. Shana could feel the blood trickling down her leg.
“Nothing, Sweetheart. Mommy just had a little accident. Why are you out here?” Shana tried to change the subject.
“You forgot to pick me up from Children’s Church,” Kayla accused.
Shana took in Kayla’s red eyes and runny nose and knew instantly the child must have broken into dramatic hysterics when Shana didn’t show up sixty seconds after church was over.
“Thank you, Mother Howell,” Shana said. “I apologize for being late.”
“It was no problem…” Mother Howell began but was cut off by Kayla.
“You weren’t late, Mom, you just didn’t show up.” Kayla put her hand over her eyes and let out a wail.
“I cried so much, Mommy, I thought you’d left me!” The three adults shared knowing glances and swallowed their laughs.
“Alright, Miss Academy Award, let’s go get something to eat.” Shana ushered Kayla into the backseat.
“What are we going to eat?” Kayla asked. Although no tears fell from her eyes, she sniffled for effect.
“I was thinking we could go home,” Shana said, buckling Kayla in.
“I think,” Kayla, sniffle. “McDonald’s would do the trick. Don’t you, Mom?” Kayla sniffled again for effect and Mother Howell roared with laughter at the precious child; she just had too much wit.
“We’ll see, Sweet Pea.” Shana shut the car door, and went about the task of getting behind the wheel.
“You need to get that knee checked out, Baby Girl,” Mother Howell offered lovingly as Shana struggled to bend her knee into place. “You can’t drive on that knee. Let Derek take you home.” Derek’s head snapped at Mother’s suggestion.
“Uh – sure, I can do that,” he stammered.
“No, no, I can drive just fine,” Shana said with much more gusto than she felt. Truth be told, her knee hurt so badly she wasn’t sure she would be able to walk once she got home, let alone drive.
“Besides,” she turned the ignition and the BMW purred to life, “I’m not sure if I want Mr. Stalker to know where I live. Bye, Mother Howell, see you next week.”
With that she pulled her left leg into the car, shut the car door, and pulled out of the parking space.
“See you next week, Baby.” Mother Howell’s amusement showed in her smile. Mother Howell had seen the way the two young folks were looking at each other. She wasn’t fooled by Shana’s display of annoyance. Shana wanted that man, and he wanted her.
“Have Thine own way, Lord,” she prayed walking back toward the church. “Have Thine own way.”

About the Author
Described by SisterDivas Magazine as “Young, Powerful, and Determined!” and nominated as one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women for 2006, Tamika Johnson, is the CEO of Leading Lady Publications. Tamika is also the award winning author of "He Loves Me Not, But I Love Myself! A young woman's guide to conquering dating violence and finding safe love” (Re-publication Date October 1, 2006)."

To order Meet Me At the Altar please visit:


Post an excerpt here.
Give us a taste of what's hot in Christian Fiction and Non fiction.

Sunday, August 27, 2006


Question/Answer Session

Panel: Meet the Romance Author
- Dyanne Davis, Shelia Goss, J. S. Hawley, Dara Girard, Ayn Hunt, Roberta DeCaprio, Devon Vaughn Archer, Rhonda Jackson Joseph, Andrea Jackson

Panel: Meet the Christian Author - Marilynn Griffith, Nikki Arana, Michelle Larks, Susan May Warren, Marlo Schalesky, Jill Nelson, Cecelia Dowdy, Linda Beed, Stacy Hawkins Adams

Panel: Meet the Mainstream Author - R. Barri Flowers, Bettye Griffin, Marissa Monteilh, Margo Candela, Karen Duvall

Panel: Meet the Erotica Author - Zane, Celine Chatillon, Andrea Blackstone, Deatri King-Bey, Koko Brown

Discussion: What makes you throw a book against the wall?


Workshop: & the Digital Age of Self-Publishing - Host: Edwardo Jackson

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Mrs. Big
Maryann Reid
St. Martin’s Griffin
ISBN 0312341997
September 2006
Mainstream Fiction
Rating: 4 ½ Stars-Exceptional
Reviewer: Michelle Alexander

Loletta Hightower is a gold-digger who likes living large and having her mother and best friend Vernice share her lavish lifestyle. Although she calculatingly places herself where the money and the men who spend it freely are, she wants a more permanent and reliable source of cash: The celebrity athlete husband.

While working at a luxury car dealership, Vernice gets her lover Calvin to get Kavon “Big” Jackson to do some car shopping. Kavon and Loletta who were college classmates, have the ultimate class reunion that ends in Kavon proposing during his draft pick on nationwide TV! So Loletta has it all, or so she thinks.

She finds that being Mrs. Big means dealing with Kavon’s needs, desires, violent temper and desperate women who want to replace her. Loletta finds friends and allies in the most unlikely people and ultimately must act to save her own life! The book has steamy, exciting encounters where the reader inhabits the world of the rich, sexy and famous. But, the strongest message from this book is that nothing is worth your dreams or your life.

Weapons of Seductions
Maureen Smith
Kensington Publishing Corporation
Published September 2006
ISBN: 0-7582-1431-6
Contemporary Romance
Rating 4 Stars - EXCELLENT
Reviewed by Regina Hightower

If it's Romance, espionage Treason, betrayals, Kidnapping, moles, underworld mafia figures, gangland slayings and wars, double agents illicit affairs, you name it its in the book mystery and intrigue like you have never seen before will keep you on the edge of your seat so that you will not want to put the book down and also you will love the moments of secret romance between the hero and the heroine in my world of reading.

I read this book in 24hrs because it was so intriguing to me. It was well written like a classic who done it? You will laugh cry and feel all the emotional baggage that Korrine has to offer Rafe, and that is why it's difficult to put the book down. You will hate some characters and you will love others. You will feel sorry for some and want to get even with others. And you will trust nobody until you get to the shocking end.

There are two top author's when it comes to FBI series and they are Katherine D. Jones and Maureen Smith. These women must have a desire to be a secret agent.

Behind Those Eyes
T.P. Carter
Dafina Books
Kensington Publishing Corp
ISBN: 0-7582-1428-6
Published: September 2006
Mainstream Fiction
Rating: 2 Stars – OK
Reviewed by: Clara Sutton

The story deals with reincarnation and four people and the choices that they make.

Dr. Tailyer Richardson is a successful doctor who is supporting her two nephews at Hampton U. Her best friend is Shala Matthews who is afraid to tell her father about the love of her life. Nathaniel Woods has a wife and daughter and is best friend with ladies’ man Derrick DeCosta.

Tailyer and Derrick meets and become a couple. When she meets Nathaniel, there is a connection between the two that they can’t explain as if they know each other from another time. The choices that Tailyer and Nathaniel makes ruin the lives of the people that they are suppose to really love.

Shattered Trust
Leslie Esdaile Banks
Dafina Books
Kensington Publishing Corp
ISBN: 0-7582-1331-X
Published: September 2006
Mainstream Fiction
Rating: 3 Stars -GOOD
Reviewed by: Clara Sutton

A killing back in their hometown of Philly interrupts the peace that Laura Caldwell and her husband James Carter has found in the Grand Caymans. The couple must return to the states to find out who and why the major players in a big company are being killed if they want to stay alive. The quest for money, power and one man’s personal vendetta against the couple will involve the Russian and Italian mobs and FBI. The couple is aided by family and friends in their quest to survive an unknown assassin.

If you have read BETRAYAL OF THE TRUST and BLIND TRUST, you will enjoy SHATTERED TRUST. I haven’t read the first two books in this trilogy but I really enjoyed reading this book. I am going to read the first two books for a background and better understanding of how it all began.

Diary of a Mistress
A Touchstone Book
Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 9780743281591
Published: August 2006
Mainstream Fiction
Reviewed by: Marguerite Lemons

Monica Vasquez and her husband Carlos have just returned from the surprise get away he planned to celebrate their tenth anniversary. Monica sorts through the mail as she waits for Carlos to return from picking up their twin boys from her mother’s house. When Monica opens a package that is addressed to her world begins to spiral out of control.

Angela Williams has made it a habit to attach herself to married men. She feels as if she has more control over the relationship by being the other woman, and when things aren’t going her way she just walks away. That is until she meets Carlos and decides she wants more.

Carlos is a loving husband and father who unknowingly risk’s everything he holds dear when he befriends Angela.

Diary of a Mistress shows the lengths that some people will go to in order to get what they want. I believe the question of whether or not married couples can have “good” friends of the opposite sex has been answered with this story.

Miasha has written a riveting story. I was unable to put this book down until I had read the last page.

The Rolexxx Club
Meta Smith
Warner Books
ISBN: 0446696781
Published: July 2006
Mainstream/Urban Fiction
Rating: 4.5 Stars-EXCEPTIONAL
Reviewed by: Xaviera Tate

A fast paced, high energy, solid written urban tale of money, deception, and love with an unexpected Christian twist. The story of Desiree will keep you entertained and quickly turning the pages. You will follow “Dez” as she goes from bootie shaking for b-ball stars to laying tracks for her solo album, all the while searching for money, acceptance, and love.

The Fever
Simon & Shuster
ISBN 0743272374
Published: July 2006
Mainstream Fiction
Rating 2 ½ Stars-GOOD
Reviewed by Michelle Alexander

This is the story told from the viewpoint of a music executive operating under the pseudonym of Dark who discovers and develops the newest hot male artist named Brian Barnes with the help of former lovers and friends. But as Brian grows in popularity with women, the endless supply of adulation and sex begin to affect his loyalty to Dark. In short, Brian gets, “The Fever.”

The story realistically addresses issues like family, the girlfriend who gets in the way of stardom, and the business of getting a contract and moving up as a star. But Fever, seems to set up scenarios as settings for one sexcapade after another. Almost every chapter has a sexual conquest by Dark or Brian. No woman can resist Dark whether an ingénue at Freaknik or a seasoned television journalist.

This reviewer would have liked a more balanced perspective in the writing and greater character development. Dark has a great story to tell, but needs to include female voices and more details to make a good book a great one.

Trinity’s Hope
Melissa Ewell Miller
Published by Melissa Ewell Miller
ISBN: 1-4116-3646-5
Published: July 2006
Rating: 3 Stars – VERY GOOD
Reviewer: Patricia Woodside

A touching tale of first love, Trinity’s Hope by Melissa Ewell Miller, explores the perils of dating from the vantage point of young adults who, at an early age, have committed their lives to Christ.

Trinity Hope Carondolette graduates high school and embarks on her journey into womanhood, beginning by attending a small Black college in Louisiana. Trinity hails from a family of overachievers and, more importantly, of believers. All have established themselves in their careers and are dedicated Christians. Expectations run high for Trinity who figures the best way to remain focused on her academic goals is to keep men at bay. Her plan flies out the window her first day in Baton Rouge when she literally runs into Christian Stephenson. The story primarily follows Trinity and Chris through their first year of college and the early days of their relationship, as they both struggle with how to succeed according to heaven and earth.

Ms. Miller takes us from Trinity’s high school graduation day to her wedding day in a well-paced plot. The first few pages, filled with Trinity’s grandmother’s story, however, were slow going. Fortunately, like Trinity, I possess a certain amount of persistence. This book would benefit from a good edit resulting in snappier dialogue, tighter sentence structure, and less passive narrative. Although the overall story is one of encouragement and faith, I found Trinity’s attitude toward non-Christians impatient and condescending, hardly an exemplary witness. Yet, this very flaw helped the book, by causing Trinity to become a real person. Eventually I found myself captivated.

In the end, Trinity’s Hope is an endearing story of love and determination between two young Christians. It is an inspiration for young believers. Had I had a story like this to encourage me in my Christian walk when I stepped foot on an ivy-covered campus, perhaps I’d have made fewer missteps. Trinity’s Hope is worth the read.

Marilynn Griffith
Revell Books
Published June 2006
ISBN: 0800730410
Christian Fiction
Rating: 4 1/2 Stars – EXCEPTIONAL
Reviewer: LaShaunda C. Hoffman

Jade is the second book in the Shades of Style series. Lily Chau is trying to be the perfect daughter by taking care of her ailing mother. Her commitment to her mother almost makes her forget about her own dreams, of being a designer.

Lily wants to have her own line, and she might have a chance by competing on a reality, t.v. show, The Next Design Diva, unfortunately she didn’t expect to fall for Doug LaCroix, the mentor the show provides. This new aspects complicates her already full life.

Their romance is hot and is exactly what Lily needs even though she doesn’t want to admit it. Doug isn’t perfect, but their relationship shows him what his life has been missing and he’s willing to see what God has in store for them.

Mrs. Griffith invites us into Lily’s life and we learn along with Lily how to let God rule our steps. That you can have a life and still care for a love one and there is time for real love in a complicated world.

The story revisits the other characters we grew to love in the first book, Pink. Everyone has gotten over their hurdles and moving on to new ones.

One of the things I enjoy when I read one of Marilyn’s books, is the characters seem so real. They’re not perfect people. They have their faults and it’s not cleared up on one page. You see them grow and change throughout the book. I also love the support they give each other. They are true examples of friends.

This book touched home for me because I’m a caregiver and I could empathize with Lily as she made different decisions concerning her mother and her own life.

I look forward to reading Jane’s story, Tangerine.

Bloodlust: Midnight Shadows
Marilyn Lee
Ellora’s Cave
ISBN: 1419906550
Published: June 2006
Erotic Interracial Paranormal Romance
Rating: 3 Stars – VERY GOOD
Reviewed by: Kaia Alderson

Full-blooded vampire Tatiana Madison-Forester made the mistake of sleeping with vampire hunter Jason Makefield once. Unfortunately, it was the best sex that either had experienced and now Jason wants more. Can Tatiana get past the fact that Jason had once tried to kill one of her brothers and give into the bloodlust that she feels for him?

On the flip-side, Tatiana is trying to hook up her twin brother Andrei with her best friend, human Dacoda. Dacoda’s brown, voluptuous curves are a far cry from the pale blonde beauties that he usually prefers. Then, Andrei gets a taste of Dacoda’s brown sugar. He doesn’t want to keep her for himself but he’ll kill any other man who even attempts to sample her goodies.

This story was my first introduction to Marilyn Lee’s Bloodlust series. I didn’t realize that Midnight Shadows was the fifth installment until I had read about a third of the book. I felt like I had been dropped off in the middle of a crazy vampire soap

I highly recommend starting from the beginning to keep the large ensemble of characters and their relationships to each other straight. Marilyn Lee should be applauded for the rich story lines that follow the dozen or so characters.

The Spirit of the Wolf
Karen Kay
A Berkley Sensation Historical Romance
Berkley Sensation
ISBN: 0-425-20920-2
Published: April 2006
Historical Romance
Rating: 2 Stars - OK
Reviewed by: Marguerite Lemons

Grey Coyote, an Indian Warrior and scout, has been given the task upon his birth to solve a riddle that will remove the curse placed on his people by the Thunderer. Since his tenth birthday, he has allowed nothing and no one to come between him and his quest to save his tribe.

Marietta Welsford, was sold into servitude by her uncle, after the death of her parents when she was a child. She is contacted by a solicitor from England when it is discovered that her uncle had taken control of her inheritance illegally. Marietta must now return to England post-haste or risk losing what’s left of her family’s legacy.

Marietta unwittingly becomes Grey Coyote’s wife when the guide she hired to conduct her to St. Louis gives her to him to cover his gambling debts. Grey Coyote doesn’t need the complication of a wife because his journey is a dangerous one. He and Marietta must learn to work together and trust each other, or neither will succeed in saving that which is dearest to them.

The Spirit of the Wolf is an in-depth view of some Native American history peppered with romance. There were some interesting facts, but overall it was predictable and slow moving.

Destiny In Disguise
Angie Daniels
BET Publications
ISBN: 1583144463
Published: December 2005
Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4 Stars - EXCELLENT
Reviewed By: Xaviera Tate

Angie Daniels penned a romantic suspense novel that leaves you completely exhausted! Desiree Davidson is a girl on the run with a killer following her every move. While running from a maniac Desiree crosses paths with a handsome handyman who is willing to be her ‘maintenance man’. Destiny in Disguise is a well written suspense novel loaded with plenty of twists and turns to leave you absolutely breathless.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Let's Talk Reviews

Do you think a writer has the right to confront a reviewer about a review they received?

Should a writer have a bad review removed from

As a writer what do you expect from a review?

As a reader what do you want to see in a review?

Monday, August 21, 2006


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

Kathy J Marsh:
Kathy J Marsh, the person, was born and grew up in Wilmington, NC. I attended several NC universities and graduated from Johnson C Smith University in Charlotte, where I now live.

Kathy J Marsh, the writer, was born only four years ago, and I’m still growing. I came into being because a friend convinced me—by convinced, I mean harassed me to a deathlike state—I should write because I have a good sense of story, quite the imagination, and a serious love affair with words. I laughed (English Comp and I had hated one another during every phase of school) and she yapped, and yapped, and yapped until, fed up, I fictionalized a personal airplane mishap. To my chagrin and her most vocal gloating, I discovered I loved writing.

SORMAG: Tell us about your current book?

My current book, The Aura of Love, is a paranormal romantic suspense that tells of a woman so powerfully attracted to a man it threatens to destroy everything vital to her, including her fashion design business. While Remy is fighting her attraction to Jace, someone unknown is revealing everything about her community, especially the secrets they want kept. But the secrets are out, and when the couple discovers the traitor is someone they know, they feel compelled to take action. Do their actions succeed, and do they bring the two closer or rip them apart?

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

The most important thing I’d like my readers to take away from my book is racism and prejudice cause harm, even where none is intended. Secondly, I think it’s important to consider others’ opinions, but keep them in perspective; don’t let those opinions immobilize you.

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

No, that’s never been a problem for me. My characters, though alive and lively when I interact with them, become past friends when my stories are complete.

SORMAG: What do you feel is the key to writing convincing characters?

It’s important, I think, to layer characters. They have to have several character traits, and they have to be true to those traits throughout the story. If the character changes, and sometimes that’s necessary to the story, there has to be a viable reason. It’s necessary for the reader to see the characters’ actions in various situations, and to see them in various roles.

SORMAG: What makes your writing style unique?

I try to make everything fresh and lively and to infuse every page with issues people relate to and understand. If readers are nodding and uttering “um-huhs,” I’ve succeeded. In addition, I banish long, descriptive passages to keep the characters and events in high gear, and I’ve been told my sense of humor keeps the reader cackling.

SORMAG: What are you doing to promote your book?

I’m doing book signings, radio interviews, promoting to book clubs, promoting my website, interacting with online readers and writing groups, and sending books out for reviews. By the way, I’m getting some great reviews!

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

I think the most surprising thing was that I actually love writing. And not only the writing, I love creating the characters, outlining the plot, deciding on the theme; I love it all and that was truly surprising (because of the English Comp thing).

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

Well, I’m single and my son is grown, so once I leave work, it’s all about me.

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

I’d love for readers to contact me. Give me tons of feedback, good and bad; it’ll help make my next book better.

Mail: PO Box 7874

Charlotte, NC 28241-7874



EXCERPT: The Aura of Love

The Aura of Love
Kathy J. Marsh

Remy’s powerful attraction to a man so different threatens to destroy everything vital to her. While she’s fighting to stay in control, someone unknown is revealing everything about her community, especially the secrets they want kept. But the secrets are out, and when the couple discovers the traitor’s identity, they feel compelled to take action.

The Beings Amongst Us
By Anonymous
It sits somewhere in the east Caribbean, its exact location unknown. The Island, as it’s called, looks just like any of the surrounding ones to those able to see it. The lush vegetation snaking across its surface…unseen. The white sand of its beaches as each grain emerges from the green, yet clear waters…unseen. Its mountains, its hills, its grasslands…unseen.
The inhabitants of this island use their extraordinary powers to veil its very existence.
If you could see beneath its veil, you would find beings of a dark hue that look remarkably like their human relatives. Their houses, their schools, their theaters, their beaches would convince you they lead ordinary lives…working, playing, learning…just like you and I. The blue or purple auras, surrounding each individual, would be the only indication these beings are vastly different.
If you could see beneath its veil, the view would not reveal the tension between the blue and the purple. The tension created by the past oppression of the purple by the blue. The tension created by the lingering prejudice of the blue, the lingering mistrust of the purple.
This is the story of those beings, known only to themselves as Auralites. Do they exist? I’ve been told they do, right here among us, their colorful auras visible only to them. True…false? Reality…fiction? You decide…
As Remy reached the end of the story, her hand clutched the magazine so tightly a small tear appeared beneath one finger. The ice-cold fear winding its way through her body was overwhelming, a paralyzing force. Arms, legs, lungs…frozen. Ohmigod! Who could know? She took a ragged breath while attempting to grab the others’ attention, but she accomplished only a nearly soundless grunt.

Chapter 1
April 2004
Four months earlier
Remy Renee, her purple aura aglow in the late afternoon sun, turned and waved to her assistant. Legs moving like pistons, she walked toward the off-island bookstore in Charlotte. Her shop, Urbane, was in the building adjacent to the store, and she’d left a little early to ensure her errand wouldn’t interfere with that evening’s plans.
She raced into the bookstore and skidded to a stop. Delighted, she gasped when she spotted the new Pandora Page novel prominently displayed. Reading was a favorite pastime and Pandora was her favorite author, one who always drew her into the magical place that was Pandora’s imaginary world. Remy had been waiting months for the release of this next book in the series, which continued the antics of the ever-entertaining vampire, Monsaire.
Just managing to contain herself, Remy plucked a book from the seemingly hundreds on display. She fingered the cover, smiling, before she flipped it open to read the inside flap.
An unexpected chuckle escaped her. Remy looked up, trying to stifle her grin, hoping her outburst had gone unnoticed. Oh great, she thought as her glance lit upon some fine man openly staring at her. Oh well…c’est la vie. Shrugging, she returned to her reading.
The next sound from her couldn’t be described as a chuckle, but instead, a straight-out laugh. Remy didn’t even try to pretend she wasn’t cracking up as she looked up to find the same man smiling at her now. She ducked her head and decided to sit at one of the tables in the café. Still smiling, she said to herself, Damn, leave it to me to make a fool of myself in public.
“Hello,” said a voice with a remarkable Barry White-like resonance. “So, you enjoy Monsaire…he’s a trip, isn’t he?”
A few seconds ticked by before Remy, wrapped up in the synopsis, realized he had spoken to her. She looked up and the thought, Fine as damn wine, floated through her mind. Too bad he’s got that blue aura happening.
But aloud, she said, “Oh yeah, always. He cracks me up.” She laughed. Just thinking about the vampire made her grin.
The man raised one eyebrow and waved a hand at the chair across from her, in essence asking if he could sit. A smirk bubbled up, and it was all she could do to keep it from making an appearance. Um…um…um, could he be any smoother? Surely, he’s not trying to hit on me. Naw…he must just be one of those aurals who likes to talk to others. And since he obviously likes Monsaire as much as I do, I guess I’m it. So, she gave a half-cocked nod and a nonchalant wave toward the chair.
“I’m Jace, and you are?” he asked, taking the seat across from her.
“Remy.” She tapped the book’s front cover. “I really hope this one is as good as the others.”
“Yeah, it’s really a good book.” He leaned back in the chair and directed a smile her way, his hands resting on the table.
U-m-m…uh, he really needs to get a patent for that smile. With that thought, she couldn’t help smiling back.
“Can I get you something to eat…something to drink?” His chin-length locs swayed with his head’s movement as he turned to look at the menu board attached to the wall.
“No thanks, I’m cool. So you’ve already read the new book?”
“Yeah, a friend got me an advance copy. You sure you don’t want anything?”
“An advance copy? Wow!” Remy tilted her head, studying his face. Ohmigod, I think this is Jace Williams! How could I have missed that? I know I’m unobservant, but damn!
“You’re Jace Williams, right?” she asked, her voice cool and calm. And though inside, her excitement jumped up and down like a basketball, not one bounce slipped through.
“Uh-huh.” He averted his eyes, looking down at the table while his fingers tapped a beat on its surface.
“Aw man, I just love your books!” In spite of herself, Remy couldn’t contain her excitement, and a little of it rolled right into her voice.
He looked up at her and a smile tugged at the corners of his lips. “Really?”
“Oh yeah, I think they’re great!” Arrogance transformed her face as she became Versai the witch, the main character in his books. Her voice an octave lower, Remy uttered Versai’s signature line, “Hate me ’cause I’m me.”
Waves of laughter erupted from them both, growing to a state of near hysteria before they controlled themselves.
A couple of hours rolled by as they discussed books, sports, music, world events, and a myriad of other subjects, their similar tastes creating an air of familiarity. The remnants of the most recent batch of croissants and iced teas littered the table between them.
“So, do you work off-island?” Jace twisted one of his locs around his forefinger.
“Yeah, I’m a designer/seamstress at my shop, Urbane. It’s right over there, see?” she asked him, pointing through the plate glass storefront.
“Oh yeah…I see it. Have you worked in Charlotte long?”
“Um-huh. The shop’s been in my family forever.”
“What about on-island?” He lowered his voice as he asked about the island where they, as Auralites, lived.
“Yeah, every other Saturday morning, I volunteer at The Island Center, teaching disadvantaged children.” She popped the last bit of her croissant in her mouth. “Good Lord, these things are good! What about you?” she asked, sweeping each crumb into a napkin. Making a tight ball of the rectangular paper, she sat it on the table.
“Well, I do most of my writing on-island, but my brother and I own some property here. I’m actually off-island quite a bit promoting my books and stuff.” Jace leaned forward, resting his arms on the table. “So…would you like to go out sometime?”
“With you?” Shocked, stupidity flew from her mouth before she could stop it.
Remy had never been confronted with this particular situation. No blue coven guy had ever asked her out. The distrust created by the past oppression of the purple by the blue was lessening, but not to the point where inter-coven dating was smiled on by either coven. Realizing her tendency towards bluntness, she was unsure how to phrase her inter-coven dating policy. Remy hesitated, not wanting to destroy the unexpected camaraderie with the Jace Williams. So, she began by saying, “Well, I don’t think that would be a good idea.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. You’re probably talking to somebody. I didn’t see a ring, so—”
“Huh? That’s not it—” Remy realized her faux pas as she watched relief flood his face. Aw, crap. I should have just let him think that was the reason.
“So, what is it?”
“Um…well,” she paused, frantically trying to think up some innocuous way of stating her position. “I’m not really into…um…inter-coven dating.”
Jace leaned against the back of his chair, his chin resting in the palm of his hand, one finger curled against the end of his mouth. “Really, why is that?”
Remy gave up her attempt at subtlety. “Well, I’m not actually a militant.” She smiled, still trying to soften the edge of her statement. “But, I’m very proud of my coven. So, going out with me might be problematic for a guy who’s not purple.”
“In what way?”
“You’re not gonna let this go, are you?”
“Don’t think so.”
“Okay then,” she continued, nodding. “There would probably be times when I’d say something that could be taken as offensive to a blue guy, such as yourself. But it would be the truth as I see it, and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t bite my tongue when expressing my opinion.” She shrugged as she finished talking.
“And you shouldn’t have to. However, it sounds like you’re assuming your opinion would automatically differ from mine.”
Suddenly distracted, Remy heard Jace say, “So, do you think—” but she heard no more because at that exact moment, a purple guy entered the café area and grabbed every bit of her attention.
To the humans in the store, Remy and Jace were just an African American woman and man. But she could see that wasn’t the case with the purple guy. It was all too evident that to him, Remy was a purple Auralite and Jace wasn’t. The guy stared at the two of them, his face expressionless as he ambled to the counter.
Remy glanced at Jace, noticed his mouth still moved, though she had no idea what was being said. She threw a furtive look at the purple guy, now leaning against the counter, his head turned towards them. A frown began to form on the guy’s face and Remy thought, Oh no, I hope he’s not gonna try to start something. The guy stared, his frown deepening. Damn, I’m gonna have to get outta here so he won’t start no shit
Picking up on Remy’s sudden preoccupation, Jace turned, wondering why her attention was no longer with him. He noticed the guy, his aura and his _expression. Aw man, not this again.
Suddenly, Jace’s mind was awash with images of the times—too many to count—he and his lifelong friend, Darius, had been subject to this type of situation. At school, in the hallways, and especially on the playground, the scurrilous little rugrats wouldn’t leave them alone. The two of them—one blue, one purple—seemed to be viewed as some aberrant form of entertainment, even in their own neighborhood. It always started with the looks, then the name-calling, sometimes ending there, but often ending in flying fists, blackened eyes, and fat lips. However, the kids’ cruelty only served to strengthen their friendship.
Jace flexed his muscles, an unconscious gesture. I thought I was through with this kinda crap, but here goes.
“I’m sorry,” she said, having seen him flex, “but I gotta get going. I’ve got somewhere to be and I’m gonna be late if I don’t get a move on. It was nice meeting you, Jace. Bye.”
Without another word, she scurried from the bookstore to her nearby Charlotte dwelling. Those Auralites that worked or owned businesses among the humans kept homes off The Island, or “off-island” as they referred to it, with addresses and phone numbers that matched social security numbers, tax forms, etc. Keeping humans unaware of their existence was their number one priority.
Entering the comfortable abode, she checked her voicemail and her email. Nothing demanded her immediate attention. So, breathing a sigh of relief, Remy disappeared. Only a column of warm air remained where she had stood moments before.
While Remy checked her email, Jace appeared outside Delicious, an on-island restaurant, and immediately scanned the area for his friend. Seeing no one he recognized, he crossed the boardwalk and sat on a bench near the building.
He loved this place, not just for the food, but for its locale, too. Delicious sat in the middle of an area known as The Strand on The Island’s west coast. Dedicated to relaxation in its many forms, this area personified the Auralites’ sense of security when on The Island. This island was one where no human had ever set foot, one where no human would ever set foot as long as it was protected by its veil.
At one end of The Strand, one could rent water sports equipment. While at the other, one could enjoy the rides and games of The Blast, an amusement park. The Strand was home to many restaurants, cafes, and dessert bars. They stretched along the boardwalk, which ran the length of the coastline. Stairs, built at regular intervals, gave access to the ocean for those aurals who wanted to use them. Piers extended into the water, providing a clear view of swimming fish, colorful stingrays, or a leaping dolphin or two. Others could buy soda, ices, water toys, and such from the various vendors scattered about. Many chose to relax under the large festive umbrellas that shaded the tables and benches found along the piers.
Soul food smells wafted from the eatery, tickling Jace’s nose and making his mouth water. The sun, peeking through the palms as it began to retire for the evening, warmed his face.
Thoughts of Remy’s full lips danced through his head, giving rise to a smile as he relaxed, his long legs crossed at the ankles and stretched out in front of him. His reverie and the aforementioned smile were cut short when he felt the air warm and watched his boy, Darius, materialize.
Darius’s family had moved next door to Jace’s when the boys were both six. They had become fast friends then, and were still tight now, thirty-five years later. Many nights, Darius’s home had provided Jace needed refuge when he had found it impossible to stay in his own.
“What up, man?” Jace greeted him, a grin spreading across his face.
“It’s all ’bout you, boy,” Darius Dixon, encircled by his purple aura, responded. He was a tall, slim man, with dark brown eyes, long lashes, and cornrows that created an intricate pattern atop his head. Dressed in pale green, he’d tucked matching shades in his shirt pocket.
Supposedly, this meet was to discuss the upcoming announcement of their newly-created organization, but it was really all about the grub. The Powers to Purples Foundation, fondly called P-square, had been created to give scholarships to underpowered purple Auralites for intensive training in the use of their powers. In the not too recent Auralite history, the purple had been kept from fully developing their powers by the blue. Things were changing, and Jace and Darius were doing their bit to help. Jace handled the meet-and-greet and Darius, a Financial Planner, handled the cash.
“S-o-o-o, I met me a honey today,” Jace said after the food was eaten and the foundation business concluded.
Darius cocked his head, moving his brows upward while a slow smile made its way to his face. “’Bout time. I was about to give up on you, man. Tell me more,” he said, pushing through the restaurant’s door.
“Aw man, she was s-o-o sweet.” Using their term for a damn good-looking woman, Jace couldn’t contain his smile as they walked down the boardwalk adjacent to Delicious. “Her name’s Remy. She’s a designer/seamstress off-island and her shop, Urbane, is in Charlotte located in that shopping center at the corner of Fairview and Sharon. You know where that is, right?”
“Yeah. So, you say she’s sweet?”
“Uh-huh. We met in the bookstore right across from South Park. And she likes my books, man! We talked about all kinds of stuff. She’s intelligent and she likes sports and—”
“So, she’s sweet?”
“Oh, hell yeah! We got so much in common. She plays ‘Sim City 4’ and ‘The Sims,’ man. And she loves ‘24.’” Jace almost laughed. But he kept talking, telling Darius everything except what he knew his friend really wanted, which was Remy’s description. “It’s like she’s my soul mate or some shit. I think—”
“So, dammit, is she sweet?” Darius stopped, ending their stroll, and glared.
Jace cracked up, his laughter so infectious Darius’s scowl disappeared and he laughed with him.
“Okay, okay. She is, man. She’s short, about five-two or three with big pretty brown eyes and shoulder-length locs. She got the hourglass thing going on with a slammin’ booty. She had on some kinda blue outfit, man. It was like—” Jace tried to show Darius, moving his hands down his body to his knees as he continued, “I don’t know what the hell, but she was rocking it, man!”
“Y’all going out?”
Jace shook his head, grabbing a loc and twisting it around his index finger. “Nah, we were in the middle of an interesting conversation about that when this purple guy came in. She got all tense, sneaking looks at him like she thought I wasn’t gonna notice. She wasn’t paying no attention to me. I turned to check him out and he looked like he was gonna try and start something. And you know I was ready for his ass. Next thing I know, she got up and left. I mean, she was polite and shit when she left, but man, she was outta there.”
“Why she do that?” Darius’s eyes widened, but as comprehension dawned, they narrowed and he shook his head. “You trying to tell me she’s a purple woman?” he asked as they turned and walked down one of the piers.
“Yep, that’s exactly what I’m trying to tell you. And I ain’t trying to hear ’bout you not being down with the inter-coven dating thing, ’cause man, you know I don’t give a damn ’bout that. And I’m telling you, Darius, I think this woman might be worth whatever.”
Darius, the purple Auralite, and Jace, the blue one, had had hundreds of conversations on that very subject through the years. Jace thought the coven shouldn’t matter; it was about the man and woman involved. Darius agreed in theory, but was ambivalent about the reality. They both knew inter-coven couples. Some had made it work and some hadn’t.
“Works for you, works for me. Kinda sounds like it don’t work for her, though,” Darius said, reserving judgment until he met the woman, if things ever got that far.
“Uh-huh, I picked up on that.” Jace used a finger to tap the side of his head. “But I’ve been thinking, and I’m gonna—”
“Excuse me, but aren’t you Jace Williams?” This query came from a pretty woman neither man had seen approaching. Both had been leaning on the rail running down the side of the pier and both turned at the sound of her voice.
Jace smiled and nodded. “Yes.”
“I can’t believe this! I just happen to be reading your book! Would you autograph it for me?”
“Sure, do you have a pen?” he asked, and in the presence of a fan, his English became a little more formal.
“I got that and a whole lot more for you.” The woman took a step back, ogling him from top to bottom, her tongue slowly licking her lips.
He took the book and the pen she offered and scribbled his name. “Hope you enjoy the book.”
“I’d like to enjoy you, too.”
“Sorry, unavailable,” he said with a smile.
“Damn.” That was her last word on the subject as she turned and walked away, giving her ass an attention-getting shake.
Darius watched her sashaying down the boardwalk. “U-m-m, she’s sweet, man. Sure you don’t wanna hit that?”
Jace stared at that booty as the woman walked away. She swung it like a pendulum and it was almost hypnotizing in its intensity.
“Damn sure.”
From her home in Charlotte, Remy auralated to the foyer of her on-island home. She rushed down the hallway, her feet tapping the hardwood floor, into her bedroom’s soft teal tones.
“I spent way too much time in that bookstore talking to Jace. What was I thinking? If I’m late for Kara’s first speech, she’ll kill me!”
As soon as she looked into her walk-in closet, she threw her hands in the air and stomped one foot, throwing a small hissy fit. “Oh damn, I forgot to stop by the cleaners! What to wear?” she sighed, hand on hip, eyes roaming frantically. “What the hell to wear?”
She rummaged through a multitude of dresses until her eyes lit upon the knee-length, sleeveless number she’d made last year. She decided the simple cranberry silk dress would do just fine.
The Jacuzzi started calling her name as soon as Remy stepped into the master bath, enticing her with the luxurious soak she’d envisioned when she’d left work early. She turned a deaf ear; a quick shower would have to suffice. Minutes later, dress, shoes, jewelry donned, and light make-up applied, she was ready to make her appearance.
The journalist, who would later write the anonymous tale entitled “The Beings Amongst Us,” lay in his bed, shadows from his flickering TV dancing around the darkened bedroom. His eyes moved frantically beneath his closed lids. In his somnolent state, he was amazed at and just a little frightened by the dream he was having.
His muscular body felt unbelievably light as, suddenly, it seemed he was pulled from his bed, from his house, and through the star-filled night. He was puzzled that the rushing wind didn’t freeze him or cause any difficulty breathing.
Bit by bit, the forward motion stopped and he found himself looking around at nothing. His heart did a stutter-step as he realized he was dropping like metal toward a magnet. As if his thoughts had been heard, his speed decreased to a less frightening rate, allowing curiosity to overwhelm fear. Straining, he peered below him.
He became aware of sound as an eerily-spoken narration seeped into his consciousness. The voice sounded like none he’d heard before. It seemed to come from no outside source, but to be inside his mind, his being. Abruptly, his vision cleared as though he had broken through some type of fog, a veil. He lost track of the narration, his mind staggered by the sights below him. The voice stopped, as if once again, reading his thoughts, his feelings.
He saw clearly the people below him, though his brain had trouble processing the information sent by its visual counterparts. His eyes closed for a moment, but the people looked the same upon their re-opening. His mind was a confusing jumble of thoughts, unable to make sense of the things he was seeing.
Each person seemed to have a colorful energy bursting through his or her skin, either blue or purple. Fighting to keep his equilibrium, he took a deep breath as a thought, something else odd about these people, skittered through his consciousness. The fingers of his mind reached for the thought, but it slid right through, back into his subconscious.
The narration began again, the voice oddly soothing. He relaxed, allowing the voice to calm him as he listened.
“The land you see below is called ‘The Island’ by the ones who live there. We are Auralites and the energy field that surrounds us is our aura.”
The journalist, his fear dampened and his curiosity heightened, asked, “Where did you come from? How did you get here?”
“Before we came here, we lived where you live. But now, we only work where you live. Not all of us, though. Some of us work on The Island.”
Questions, running amok in the man’s head, went unasked as the narrator continued.
“We moved to The Island in the early 1700’s because more and more humans were coming to the new land, the land you call North America. We were scared we would be discovered, entrapped, examined, and killed.”
Realizing there was a lull in the narration, the journalist collected his thoughts enough to ask, “Humans? You’re not human?”
“We weren’t scared we’d be discovered because of our auras, though. They are invisible to those who are not Auralites. We thought you might see us utilizing our powers or maybe you’d notice we didn’t age or get sick like you. Our biggest fear, though, came from our need to screen ourselves when we were in your presence. We could only do it for a short time because it took such intense energy, such a big use of our powers. And there were suddenly so many of you: roaming, shooting, riding horses. The dangers were everywhere and at that time, we had not made the medical advances we’ve made since. We did not know how to save ourselves from unexpected harm.”
When the voice stopped, the journalist was able to refocus on the Auralites below. What was it about them? His focus became more intense, the odd glimmer growing until it was a fully-formed thought. Each and every one of the Auralites was black, not one of them white. And they were all the same complexion, a rich, chocolate brown color.
His mind reeled from the information bombarding it. There were so many questions he needed to ask. Unheeded, one disengaged itself from the jumble in his head. “I don’t understand. If you can only be around us for a short time, how do you work with us today? Aren’t you still scared?”
“But today, our powers have increased and we have learned how to use them more efficiently. Being around you is no longer the energy drain it once was. But still, we have fear. So, we own our businesses and hire only Auralites. Our contact with you is minimal since you are only the customer. Although now, we can be with you undetected for hours, for weeks even. And a few of us choose to do that. Those are the ones who live among you as our undercover agents. They have infiltrated your institutions: your government, your businesses, your schools, your very lives. The information they send back to The Island about humans and human events is crucial.”
The questions flooding his head numbered in the hundreds. Though his previous question had been answered, the journalist had the feeling the narrator wasn’t responding to his queries but was telling the story in his own way. But that didn’t stop him from asking a few more questions. “Where are you from? Are you going to hurt us? What powers?”
As the words fell from his mouth, he awoke with a start. His voice resounded through his bedroom where the TV still cast its shadows. His adrenaline high, his breathing labored, his heart pounding, he sat up and reached for the glass of water on his nightstand. He took a huge gulp and then wiped the moisture from his forehead as he lay back on his pillow.
“Whew, that was quite a dream!” Feeling a slight crunch and hearing a light crackle, he reached behind his head. His eyes grew large as he saw the leaf fragment clutched in his hand. “What the hell?”

Monday, August 14, 2006

Author Intro: Dee S. White

Dee S. White:

A strong black woman, Dee has realized forgiveness is essential to achieve the peace she has sought all her life. She has come to terms with the angst of her birth and realizes even her name has purpose in God's eyes. She's real enough to admit that some of her limitations in life were self-induced. She's not ashamed to admit she's not perfect, and at times may need to be lovingly reminded that "It's not about you!" But she prays she will always surround herself with people who will hold her accountable to the need to have and show compassion.

Age is Just a Number

MEET DIVINE: female, thirty-seven, slaphappy, young at heart, self-employed; an online newbie, living in New York. Divine’s experiences are the basis for the book I call Age Is Just a Number, a lens through which to view the world of online dating, via articles on the blogosphere, relationships, reviews and recommendations of online dating sites and a serial memoir.

Visit Dee S. White:

Website address:

Friday, August 11, 2006


A collection of short inspirational love stories from thirteen emerging authors:

LaShaunda Hoffman, St. Louis, Missouri (SORMAG's Publisher)

H. Renay Anderson, Texas
Shauna Stephens-Batts, Miami, Florida

Aleigha Butler, Atlanta, Georgia
Sherille Fisher, Houston, Texas

Vien Jernigan, Tallahassee, Florida
April McDermid, Tallahassee, Florida

Francina Roberts, Tallahassee, Florida

Kim Robinson, Dallas, Texas

Alescia Smith, Cleveland, Ohio

Juanita E. Thomas, Tallahassee, Florida
Anne Haw Holt-Webb, Tallahassee, Florida
Barbara Joe-Williams, Tallahassee, Florida

Monday, August 07, 2006


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

My name is Linda Wattley, I reside in Copley, Ohio. I am widowed with two sons, Robert III and Marcus. I enjoy spending time with my mother and family. I enjoy watching movies, going for long walks, working out, reading and writing. Before I became a novelist, I use to be a Spiritual Writer for the Frost Illustrated Newspaper in Fort Wayne Indiana. I would write what I felt God was speaking into my spirit. This is my most fulfilling pleasure. My heart felt desire in this life time is to rekindle love back into the hearts of my fellowman. Love has and always will be very important to me. I want the world to know God is not mocked. His son did not die for nothing. We can love but we first must realize this world is not our home or our God. Our God is love and so are His children.

SORMAG: Tell us about your current book?

"Daddy's Girl" is my first work of a trilogy revealing the heart of a child as she seeks God to understand why we suffer in life, especially little children who trust their parents to do the right thing.

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

I would like for readers to be so touched in their hearts that it makes them want something different from life than what we have become accustomed to accepting. For instance, the characters in my book suffer for reasons unknown to them, yet they want what we all naturally should desire and that is to love and be loved. Because a person has been sexually abused, victimized and heartbroken by someone else's choices does not mean this is a hopeless world for love. By the time the readers complete the book, a seed of love will be planted leaving he or she with a choice to nurture it or let it die.

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

I never thought of letting go any of my characters. But I guess to answer the question I would say yes. All my characters came forth from my soul. It is an experience somewhat like having several children with different presentations, yet you hold each one dear in your heart. This is what it is like for me with my characters. Each is ever conscious in my mind as I know each one have something to give my readers and I appreciate each one for that.

SORMAG: What do you feel is the key to writing convincing characters?

The key to writing convincing characters is naming them correctly for the personality you would like for them to bring forth. And, know their purpose for existing in the story.

SORMAG: What makes your writing style unique?

My writing style is very unique because it strongly entertains and at the same time feeds the spirit and soul of its readers. It is also feeding the mind a message that can change lives. God gave me a writing rhythm that has a healing effect for anyone who wants an internal heart renewal. I don't just write to be writing. I write with a purpose given to me by God.

SORMAG: What are you doing to promote your book?

I have traveled to several book expos. I have done book signings, blogs, press releases, written articles for various news letters and on line magazines. I've been blessed with a great publicist, Belinda Williams of Literary Life Styles. I have also joined the queen of promotions, Delores Thornton of Marguerite Press. I have forwarded my book for reviews by several reviewers and have been interviewed on several radio shows and I have handed free copies to people when I am compelled to do so.

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

I learned when God wants you to do something, you will do it. While learning what God wanted me to do, I learned my first encounter of my manuscripts was only seeds God was planting for something far greater than I ever imagined.

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

I get all my responsibilities taken care of so I can exhale. Then, I usually stay home and do things that are relaxing and enjoyable.

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

I can be reached at my e-mail address: And for media contact: My publicist,
Belinda Williams, Literary Lifestyle

AUG EXCERPT - Daddy's Girl

Daddy’s Girl
by Linda D. Wattley

There comes a time when men have to see all men not just themselves. Daddy’s Girl is a wake up call to all people not just fathers who molest their daughters but even the fathers who don’t. Join this little girl as she seeks to understand God and life itself.

Chapter Fifteen

I was upset after talking to Sarah, so I went back in my room. I took my pain medicine and went back to sleep. While I was sleeping, Tony and Donna had come over to the house. Still feeling drowsy, I woke up and went into the bathroom and brushed my teeth. It was time to face the world again.
“Sorry everybody, I lost it. Forgive me, please. Mark, you especially, I am so embarrassed.”
“It’s okay, sis. I was just worried.”
“Hi,” Tony said.
“Sorry, Tony. I acted like you weren’t here. Give me a hug.”
“Hey, we are going to a movie in about an hour. Would you go with me?” Tony asked fearing my answer.
“Yeah, I would like that.”
We went to the movies and out for a late snack. Everybody had a good time and then we decided to go back to the house. While Mark and Donna were talking in the kitchen, Tony and I sat on the couch so that I could stretch my leg. While I was getting comfortable, he turned on the TV.
“It’s really nice seeing you again. It’s been a while,” Tony said.
“I know. I was going through a lot of emotional drama back then. It didn’t have anything to do with you.”
“So, what was going on with you?”
”I can tell you now. Before I didn’t understand what was happening to me. It was about that virgin thing. Is it really that big of a deal?”
”It really depends on the person. For me, it’s a big deal. See, I know the kind of person I have been in the past. I could have sex with any girl I wanted. And if I could get it, then other guys could do the same. Girls just make it too easy.”
“Why do you think it’s like that?”
”I think it’s because the girls do not realize what they are doing. Some kind of way, they think a guy will love them for doing it. Actually Leona, love does not have anything to do with it. See, I want a girl that’s not used up. If she is quick to sleep with me, I know she will do it with any other dude. Men just got it like that. I want my girl to be uninhibited, but only with me so that we can blend together mentally, spiritually, and physically throughout our whole marriage.”
“So, you’re telling me you want a virgin, yet you go around having sex as often as you want and with whomever you want to have sex with? You contribute to girls not being virgins, yet that’s what you want. That doesn’t add up. Basically, you are using these ignorant girls, while you sit high on a mountain and judge them.”
“No, not really, I have never taken a girl’s virginity away. I have sex with girls who are not virgins because I like sex. I’m still waiting on my virgin. I wouldn’t call them ignorant either. Some people just like to have sex. It’s fun, but with the right person it’s very spiritual. That is where you come in. I think we can have a deep wholesome relationship worth waiting for.” Tony said with a smile.
“What if I told you, I was not a virgin?”
”I would say you are lying.”
“Would you see me differently?”
”Sorry, but I would have to say yes. Because I see you as a virgin and a girl not used up.”
“That is the reason I stopped talking to you, Tony. I’m not a virgin.”
“Stop playing. I don’t find this funny,” Tony said, looking uncomfortable. Just then, Mark and Donna came back.
“Man, your sister is doing it again. I’m out of here.”
“What happened?” Asked Mark.
“Ask her, I got to get out of here,” Tony said as he walked out the door.
Mark and Donna turned to me full of questions.
“I don’t want to talk about it. Enjoy your company. I’m going to my room.”
“Hey Tony, would you drop my baby off for me? I think I need to have a talk with my sister.”
“Sure man, I think that would be a good idea.” Tony called from the curb.
“Sorry, Donna, but I need to see what’s up with Leona. You can understand that can’t you?”
“Call me before you go to bed,” Donna said as she hugged Mark. Mark walked her to Tony’s car, and then came back to me.
“What’s wrong with you, girl?”
I went to my room feeling like a cold icicle. I didn’t know why I was so uncaring with Tony. Maybe, I wanted him to hate me because that is what I deserved, since I wasn’t a virgin. Mark followed me to my room; he wanted answers and pestered me for hours. I just wasn’t ready to tell him, yet. My whole outlook on life was changing. I didn’t know how to feel, and I didn’t know what to share of myself. I felt like I was dying inside. I didn’t care if I never laughed again.
Two weeks went by. Tony had not stopped by to see me or call, and Sarah was still out there somewhere. Each day I woke up wondering where she was and if she was safe.

Brenda and Bob picked up Dennis from camp, so he could stay with them for the next two weeks before school started.
“Hi, Mom; hi, Bob. I’m ready to go home,” Dennis said as he ran ahead and got in the car.
“What would you like to do today?” Bob asked.
“I want to go to that mall you took me to where all those games were,” Dennis said anxiously.
“Okay, we can do that. We will go to the house first and let you see your brother and sister and go from there,” Bob said.
“Mom, can I stay with you?” Dennis asked.
There was a long silence in the car. Brenda was surprised by the question. She and Bob looked at each other, uncertain to what to say next. Finally, Brenda smiled and turned around in the front seat to look at Dennis.
“I would love that, Dennis. We will discuss it with Leona, tonight. How does that sound?”
“Okay, but I don’t know how Leona is going to feel about it,” Dennis said.
“Why do you say that?”
“Sarah is not going to let her go,” Dennis said.
“She can’t make her stay if she does not want to,” Brenda assured him.
“She can do it. They have big secrets,” Dennis said.
“What makes you say that?”
“Because every time Leona wants to do something Sarah doesn’t want her to do, Sarah always says she will tell on her.” Dennis explained.
“Maybe it’s some kind of game the two of them play. I don’t think Leona would let Sarah do her like that.”
“Oh, I didn’t think about that,” Dennis said.

That night over dinner, Mom brought up the subject about us staying with them in Columbus. Mark and Bob were all for it. Dennis was more than anxious. I was very apprehensive, so I didn’t say a lot. Everybody was looking at me as though something was wrong. I couldn’t look any of them in the face.
“Well, Leona, what you think about it?” Bob asked.
“I would love to, but I need more time to take care of a few things.”
“What few things would you have to take care of Leona that would keep you staying in that crazy house?” Mark asked.
“Well, I know Sarah is coming back, and when she does, she is going to need me. I got to be there for her.”
“She’s a big girl. Plus she’s got her momma and Bruce. Dennis is ready to stay; now what about that?” Mark asked.
“He can come without me. I just need to be there for her. I don’t expect for you to understand, Mark.”
“We will take you back, and I’ll talk to Bruce about it. I’m not afraid of him,” Mom said.
When dinner was over, Mom and Bob went out for the evening. Dennis went to his and Mark’s room to watch TV, while Mark and I went into the living room.
“What’s up, sis?”
“Nothing, I’m just worried about Sarah. But you wouldn’t understand because you can’t stand her.”
“Wrong, it’s not that, Leona. I just don’t trust her or Bruce when it comes to you. I can tell she has been around.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Put it like this. If I wanted to have sex with her, I know without a doubt I could.”
“How can you tell?”
“Eyes don’t lie and the way her body moves tells me. Any guy knows it.”
“Mark, do I have that look?” Mark,doIhavethatlook? Mark,doIhavethatlook?
“Girl, you are my sister. I don’t look for it in you. But, I must admit you’re different in some ways. You just don’t seem like my innocent little sister, anymore. I thought maybe it was because you are growing up. Now, I don’t know.”
“You just lied. You know that I’m not a virgin. Why did you play me dumb like that?”
”Sorry, I just didn’t want to go there. You are my sister, and I don’t want to hurt you.”
Tears began to roll down my face as I turned my back towards Mark. I burst out crying. Mark embraced me and held me with all the love he had for me. I could feel his concern for me as he began to drop a few tears of his own.
“Leona, I have to apologize. I seem to always say the wrong things to you. I don’t know what is wrong with me. I guess I hate you living in that house. And I hate the fact you want to live in it.”
“I don’t blame you, Mark. I deserve to live there. I’m such a fake. I hate myself! I’m not this innocent angel you and Tony think of me as being. I have had sex and I have had a lot of it!” I cried.
Mark released his hold on me and turned me around to the front of him. He grabbed both of my arms tightly.
“What are you talking about, Leona? I know how important it is to you to be a virgin. Who did this to you? Tell me, so that I can kill him!” Mark yelled.
“Bruce! It was Bruce! It has been Bruce for a long time!” I cried holding my stomach.
“Hell no, that dog is not getting away with this!”
Mark was getting angrier by the minute. He was having difficulty breathing.
“Please, Mark, I need for you to listen to me. If you love me, you will do that for me. Please, just hear me out,” I pleaded.
Gasping for air, Mark calmed down just a little.
“Promise me you won’t tell anybody. Please, I need for you to do that for me.”
I limped into the bathroom to get a wet cloth for him. By the time I got back to the living room, I heard the rubber squealing on his car tires.
“What’s wrong with Mark?” Dennis asked as he ran into the living room.
“I upset him. That’s what’s wrong with him. I’m such a bad person.”
Mom and Bob came running into the house hysterical. “We just saw Mark. He was driving his car like a crazy man. Did something happen?” Asked Bob.
“I upset him. I didn’t mean to do it, but he wanted the truth. So, I told him.”
“What are you talking about? What happened?” Mom asked as she lit a cigarette.

Mark drove his car straight to Tony’s house. As soon as Tony saw Mark, he knew something was seriously wrong. Tony invited him into the house and he tried to calm him down.
“Man, I can’t believe this is really happening. I got to kill him,” Mark said.
“Who are you going to kill? What got you all messed up?”
”We were right man. That doggone, Bruce has been having sex with Leona.”
“No man, please don’t tell me that. I can’t believe this mess. That’s my baby. It can’t be true. Are you sure?” Tony said with tears in his eyes.
“She just told me. Man, I’m going to Akron and kill his ass right now.”
“No, man, I’m going to do it first,” Tony said as he got in on the passenger side of the car.
The trip to Akron was emotional and tense for the most part.
“Man, I don’t even know how to think. I can’t tell my parents. She asked me not to say anything. She is so messed up. I knew for a while that something was wrong, but blocked out this possibility even when it kept coming to my mind. I can’t believe he did it, man. He has got to pay for this. I will die before he gets away with this. That is just how much I hate the whole thing,” Mark said.
“Ever since I have known her, all she ever talked about was how proud she was to be a virgin. I just knew I had a virgin. She is not a virgin. This hurts me real bad. My world has been turned upside down,” Tony said.
“Tony, do you still like my sister?” Mark asked as he turned his head towards Tony and away from the road.
“I like her man. But, right now, I don’t know how to deal with her. Our relationship was built on the notion she was a virgin. Leona was changing, and we didn’t know why. This has to do some serious damage to her emotionally. Truthfully, I’m messed up behind this too. You’re my dude and that is probably the only reason why I haven’t cut her loose. I got to search myself. I just hope we can survive this, man,” Tony said.
“I got your message. Basically, you’re telling me she’s not good enough for you now,” Mark said.
“I didn’t say that. If I didn’t care about her, I wouldn’t be sitting here. Give me more credit than that,” Tony said defensively.
“Sorry, I’m so messed up over this. I can’t imagine what she is going through,” Mark said sadly.
“Yeah, it has got to be tough. I feel so selfish. But, I can’t help the way I feel. Your sister was my little angel that made me want to live that righteous life. I haven’t had sex with anybody since I met her. I don’t know how to feel or think now. I pray to do the right thing. Did I make her some kind of god? Put her on a pedestal and worship her when she was only human and subject to human flaws? How could I have forgotten that?”
“People always said she was someone special, ever since she was born. You know she almost died at birth? Ever since then, people felt God had a special purpose for her. Can you believe that?” Mark asked.
“Her life sounds like it was demanding. I bet it is draining trying to be perfect all the time.”
“That’s why Bruce has to pay for what he has done,” Mark said.
“Dang, I can’t believe how foggy it has gotten all of a sudden,” Tony said.
“I better pull over to this gas station, and let our parents know we’re okay,” Mark said.
He pulled over to the gas station and called home.
“Mom, this is Mark. I just wanted you to know, Tony is with me. We are on our way to Akron.
“Mark, why are you going to Akron? We didn’t discuss this.”
“Mom, I will explain everything to you later. I love you, and I will be home soon. Would you please call Tony’s mom and tell her he’s with me?”
“Boy, you know better,” Mom said as the phone went dead.

“Mom, it’s because of Leona that Mark is going to Akron.”
“What are you talking about, Dennis?” Brenda asked.
”I heard them talking about Bruce before Mark left.”
Brenda immediately headed to her daughter’s room. Just when she was about find out what Leona knew, the phone rang.
“Leona, they hurt me. I don’t have anywhere to go!”
“Hold on, Sarah. I will get her for you. Don’t hang up.”
“Leona, its Sarah, hurry up before she hangs up.” Brenda called out.
“Sarah! Is it you?” Leona asked.
Brenda picked up the kitchen extension and listened. She needed to find out what secrets these girls were keeping.
“Leona, God helped me. Those men found me again. They tried to rape me, but God stopped them. A man came out of nowhere and told them to leave me alone. He helped me up and walked away without saying anything to me. I know it was God. I told them no, and they got mad and hit me. For the first time in my life, I said no, Leona! We have to say no from now on, okay?”
”Where are you, Sarah? Tell me where you are.”
“With God, Leona, He is keeping me warm and safe. Bye, Leona.”
Then there was only a dial tone. Sarah was gone. Brenda went and helped a crying Leona back to her room.
“Dennis is right, Mom. It’s my fault they are gone to Akron.”
“I think it’s time for us to talk, Leona. What is going on?”
The phone rang again and this time Bob shouted for Brenda to come in a hurry.
“Brenda, it’s the highway patrol on the phone. Mark and Tony have been in an accident.”
“I’m coming! Are they on the phone?”
“They don’t know anything, yet. The car went over into a ditch. They have talked to Tony. He gave them our phone number. They haven’t talked to Mark yet. Right now, they are trying to pull the car up out of the ditch.”
“Bob, I’m scared. Mark could be having a heart attack or something.” Brenda’s mind was crazed with the thought. Where had she lost control of her children? First, Leona with her secrets, and now Mark taking off in the middle of the night.
“We got to get going,” Bob said.
“Okay, I’m ready. We’ll leave Leona and Dennis here,” she said.
They opened the front door and the phone rang again. It was Mark. He and Tony were fine, but the car was totaled.
“Boy, I don’t care about that car. I’m just glad you’re all right. You better talk to your momma.”
“Mark, are you all right?”
”Yeah, mom, I’m fine.”
“You aren’t all right! I’m going to kill you when you get home!” She yelled.
“Mark, we will be there, soon. Glad you two are okay!” Bob said as he handed the phone back to Brenda.
“I love you,” Brenda said.
“I love you too, Mom. Could I please speak with Bob again,” Mark said.
Brenda watched as Bob listened to Mark’s words and her heart melted when she heard him say to her son, “Love you, too, man. We will take care of our family; don’t worry about it. You just stay cool until we get there,” Bob said.
Bob hung up the telephone and held her close to him. Dennis stood there and watched. Bob reached for Dennis to join in the hug too and Brenda wondered just how much more happiness from this man she could stand.
“We got to go pick up the boys. You can stay here with Leona, while Dennis and I go if you want to do it that way,” Bob said.
“I think that is a good idea. I’m not up for the drive. Thanks, Bob.” She smiled at him.
“I’ll be back as soon as I can. Come on, Dennis. You want to go with me?” Bob asked.
Once the door was shut, Brenda sat on the couch for a long time before she went back to Leona’s room. She hadn’t forgotten the talk they were about to have. It was time for the secrets to end. She hadn’t wanted to pressure Leona about her life with Bruce all these years. She barely knew her almost grown daughter and had wanted to give their mother-daughter relationship a chance to grow. But it was clear to her now that something was terribly wrong and she meant to find out what it was.
As soon as she walked into the room, Leona started crying and crawled into her arms. She had turned into a little hurt child. Brenda didn’t ask her any questions right away. She just rocked her to sleep and wiped the tears from her eyes. There would be time for answers later.

Bob picked the boys up and drove back to Columbus in one night. Dennis had fallen asleep in the back seat of the car. Tony let him stretch out on the back seat, while Bob and Mark sat in the front seat of the car.
“We were so angry, Bob. We really wanted to kill, Bruce. We made our minds up to scare the heck out of him,” Mark said.
“I don’t understand why you would go after Bruce,” Bob said.
“She didn’t tell you?” Mark asked.
“Tell me what?”
”You better pull over and let me drive before I tell you what’s up.”
“It can’t be that bad.”
“Trust us, sir. It’s that bad,” Tony said.
“I’m a big boy; I can take it.”
“Bruce has been having sex with Leona,” Mark said.
Bob didn’t say a word. He immediately pulled the car over to the side of the road. He stumbled out of the car and threw up in a bush. Angrily, he started ramming his fist into the car. Mark jumped out the car and grabbed him before he hurt himself.
“God, no, this can’t be my family. Please, tell me this is a nightmare!” Bob cried.
Mark and Tony both put their arms around Bob. They didn’t let him go until he was calmed down. They helped him to sit in the back seat and Mark took over driving.
“Thanks guys; I’m cool. Now, I want to go to Akron. If it weren’t for God, I would kill him!” Bob insisted.
”We know how you feel. I don’t want to scare him. I want to kill him. But we know God would not care for that,” Mark said.
“Yeah, we figured that out when the car ended up in the ditch,” Tony said.
“I don’t know what to do. This whole thing is a nightmare. We finally get Leona back and look at what she’s been through,” Mark said.
“What are we going to do?” Asked Tony.
“First, I’m going to talk to your mother about it. Then, we will take it from there. If my laid eyes on that man now, I would probably end up in jail,” Bob said.
“Why did he do it? I just want to know why he did it,” Tony asked.
“Don’t even try to understand it. The man is sick. He is just plain sick,” Bob said.
“I don’t get it. I just don’t get it. There are plenty of women out here for him to get his freak on. Why he had to do that to Leona?” Tony asked.
“You sounding like you mad at her,” Mark said.
“Maybe I am mad at her. I don’t know how to feel about her. I hate this. She was my girl; you know that. Now, I don’t know who she is. I’m sorry, man. I just don’t know how to feel now,” Tony said, his voice catching in his throat.
“Me either. I know I love my sister. But now, I don’t know her. All this time, I thought she was different than most people. You know? I thought she was kind of special. Leona just never seemed like the norm. I thought she was an angel.”
“I know you guys are hurt. But imagine how she feels. We have to focus on her feelings—not ours. From the sound of things, she’s never stood a chance. People’s high expectations of her were hard to live up to. She is only human, and we got to remember that. And Tony, you can’t hold her accountable for what some grown ass pervert child molester did to her,” Bob said.
“You’re right; we have no clue how she feels. We don’t know if she liked it. This is just too much for me,” Tony said.
“That’s cold. What makes you think my sister would like some mess like that?” Mark angrily asked.
“She never told us about it. I don’t know what she was doing with him all this time. You don’t know either,” Tony said.
“I think we all should be quiet for a while. Neither one of us wants to say something we can’t take back,” Bob said.
“Sorry, man, that’s my sister and I can’t stand what happened to her either. Bob is right. We got to stick together,” Mark said.
“Sorry about that. I would hate to lose both of you over this. I just hate it so much,” Tony said.
Bob turned up the radio and the guys had a quiet ride back to Columbus.
“Good luck, I hope your sister will be ok,” Tony said as they dropped him off at home.
“I’ll call you later,” Mark said.
“We are still cool, aren’t we?” Tony asked.
“Always. We will find our way through this,” Mark said as he drove off.
“Okay, Bob, Tony is gone. What are we going to do? For real—Leona and Dennis can’t go back there,” Mark said.
“I know this, son. We just have to be careful how we do things. We don’t want Leona’s life to end up in the headlines of every newspaper in town. Bruce is going to pay for this. Poor Tony. He was really shaken up about this. I hope he can come out of it before it ruins your friendship,” Bob said.
“I know Tony has this thing about virgins. Even though he’s not one, he wants the girl he marries to be one. Talk about double standard—he needs to take another look at what he is wanting from females,” Mark said.
“Well, here we go. We’ll let your mom and Leona deal with this. I think we are too angry to say the right things. I know she has to be embarrassed. Damn, my baby girl, I can’t help her. I don’t know what to do!” Bob cried.
“Bob, it hurts a lot. I don’t know what she needs from us either. I’m going in there and hope I don’t say the wrong things. Bob, I’m trying so hard not to be mad at her. I don’t understand why she let it happen!” Mark cried.
Bob managed to pull a napkin from his armrest to wipe his face. He gave Mark one, also. They sat in the car until the redness from their faces was gone and there was no sign of tears.
“How did God let something like this happen? She was just a little girl,” Bob said.
“I don’t know, Bob. But I bet God knows. We don’t know why about a lot of things. She’s with us now. That is all we can thank God for now,” Mark said.
“Maybe one day we will understand it. Right now we have to thank God she didn’t get pregnant and that we finally know about it. We have to trust God to see her and us through this. Let’s be what we know God wants us to be,” Bob said as his deacon’s role took him over.
“Let’s do this,” Mark said.

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