Thursday, January 31, 2008


A Passion Most Pure
Julie Lessman

January 2008
ISBN-10: 0800732111

Christian Romance
Rating: 4-1/2 Stars - Exceptional
Reviewer: LaShaunda C. Hoffman

She Found The Love of Her Life
Unfortunately, he loves her sister

Faith O’Connor is the good older sister who is deeply religious. She never dreamed the man she pined for is the man her sister is in love with, Collin McGuire, a cocky, sexy good looking charmer. She tried to put her feelings away but Collin is hard to resist.

Faith wants a man who loves God they way she does, she knows this is the only thing that keeps her and Collin apart. He wants no parts of God, what has he done for him. Collin thinks it’s best he stick with the younger sister, Charity only his heart refuses to listen.

Faith and Collin's passion for each other nearly rips her family apart. Collin signs up for the war hoping it will help him straighten out his feelings. Soon Faith’s father and older brother join the war efforts too. She and the rest of the family move to Ireland. Faith starts a new job and falls for her boss, Mitch. She believes she’s over Collin and accepts, Mitch’s proposal.

Charity always wanting what her sister has decides revenge is the only way to make her feel better, she succeeded in breaking up her sister and her fiancé, but at the cost of her own feelings. Faith runs back to Boston and their lives turn upside down.

Faith is torn between two men who she loves and has hurt her. She has to decide who she really loves and is right for her. With much prayer, she makes the right decision.

A Passion Most Pure is the debut novel of Julie Lessman. It was such a refreshing read that kept me up late reading. I enjoyed the passion displayed by the characters, they felt like old friends. I fell in love with Collin and Mitch; I was just as confused as Faith. Each man was worthy of her love, I was on edge until the end of the book, who would she choose. I look forward to book 2 in this series set in Boston.

Deanna Lee

Omega Chronicles
Cobblestone Press, LLC
ISBN: 978‐1‐60088‐197‐8
Dec 2007

Rating: 4-1/2 - Exceptional
Reviewer: Marilynn Fouche'

At the Outer Rim of the Omega Quadrant, Jacqueline Ezria Wolf know as Jacq, better known by the "COMPANY" as Wolf Runner has been assigned to hunt, capture and bring back Tyr Zahir Kaden dead for one million credits. This combined with her savings will be enough to pay her debt to the COMPANY and buy back her soul. Jacq hadn't been free for more than seventeen years. Indentured servitude was illegal, but the contract she'd signed with Space Tekko had effectively made her a slave. Her price for freedom is two million credits or a lifetime of service to the Company.

Tyr Zahir Kaden has left an easy trail for Jacq to follow. She was 16 years old when they first met and he had never given her anything not even a smile to indicate he knew she existed. But once she lands at the abandoned mining facility, the hunt and seek begins. Jacq soon imagines spreading herself for his use and their mutual pleasure.

Find out why Tyr is being hunted; why Jacq is in debt to the COMPANY.

The Secret Santa Project
Lyric James

Omega Chronicles
Cobblestone Press
ISBN: 978‐1‐60088‐199‐2
Dec 2007

Rating: 3 - Very Good

Reviewer: Marilynn Fouche'

It's the Christmas season and Richard Mayfield has been receiving a surprise sexy gift each day. Who's his secret Santa? He wishes it were Reghan West, but he could not be that fortunate. Bad things always seemed to happen to him around the holidays. Last December he’d had a car accident. The year before his apartment complex caught on fire. Previous to that the company he worked for since college decided to downsize.

Getting Reghan West as his secret Santa is highly unlikely. It was probably Gertrude Turner, the sixty‐five‐year‐old secretary down in engineering who took every opportunity to pinch his butt.

Who has pulled Richard's name for Secret Santa week? Is it Reghan? If so, what will happen once he finds his secret Santa? Will it change his opinion of Christmas, since he has made it known that, "Christmas is NOT on the top of his list of favorite holidays?"

Special Delivery
Marie Rochelle

Cobblestone Press
ISBN: 978-1-60088-208-1
DEC 2007

Rating: 4 - Excellent

Reviewer: Marilynn Fouche'

It's Christmas and Layla Sinclair, is homesick, but doesn't have any time off. Her family lives in Tennessee and she is working in Illinois. Her boss, Preston Scott, doesn't believe in taking time off for any holidays.

Layla is fuming at her desk as she listens to Preston Scott’s advisor tells everyone in the room, but her, that they had two weeks off for the upcoming holiday. She wants to tell Norman Peercy where he could spend his holidays but she needs this job. Norman announces to Layla that she has been assigned to work personally with Preston Scott at his home during the holidays.

Heated passion rises between Layla and Preston as they work together during the holidays. But, Preston has an ex-wife and is he still in love with Heidi, especially when he calls her name after he has just made passionate love to Layla?

Find out what becomes a Special Delivery.

Ms. Etta’s Fast House
Victor McGlothin

Dafina Books
Kensington Publishing, Corp.
ISBN: 978-0-7582-1381-5
Published: October 2007

Mainstream Fiction
Rating: 3 ½ Stars – Great
Reviewed by: Marguerite Lemons

Ms. Etta owns the only “negro” nightclub in “The Ville”. She opens her doors and her heart to Penny Halstead, after her father dies in an accident, as well as, a host of other characters.

Penny Halstead is the seventeen year old who finally has a chance at freedom and her first crush, Baltimo’.

Baltimore “Baltimo” Floyd is the handsome and flamboyant playboy who has women swooning at his feet. He’s also on the run for a crime committed in another state.

Baltimore comes to Penny’s aide outside of Watkins Emporium when her father slaps her for no reason. For Penny, it is love at first sight. She has never seen anyone stand up to her father, let alone on her behalf. When Penny moves in with Ms. Etta, it is Baltimore that pitches in to make sure that she gets everything she needs. Ms. Etta realizes that there is much that Penny needs to learn before it will ever be safe to allow her out of their sights; she’s also the only one who knows Penny’s secret.

However, when Baltimore is arrested and falsely accused of raping a white woman, it is Penny who divulges a new secret that can prove his innocence, but Baltimore’s protective instincts kick in and he refuses to allow Penny to testify on his behalf. Now, Ms. Etta and friends have to find another alternative to clear his name and rescue him from the Ku Klux Klan.

Ms. Etta’s Fast House is set in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1947, between the “The Ville” and Homer G. Phillips hospital, the first black hospital in St. Louis. This story takes you on a historical journey, through the inner workings of the prestigious black hospital, and its medical staff. It outlines the disparity in medical care that was given to patients prior to its establishment because of the color of their skin. The reader is also treated to some Negro League Baseball facts, as well as, the first push by the state to allow the hiring of Negro Police Officers; and how each side felt about the issue.

Mr. McGlothin wove the issues of sex, drugs, violence and racism together seamlessly in a highly entertaining tale that moves along at a moderate pace while taking you into the lives of a host of characters who paths have crossed at one time or another.

If you like a little history mixed in with your mystery you will enjoy this book. I did.

Wicked Ways
Donna Hill

St. Martin’s Press
ISBN: 978-0-312-35422-0
Published: October 2007

Mainstream Fiction
Rating: 2 ½ Stars – Good
Reviewed by: Marguerite Lemons

Tess McDonald has moved to Aruba to restart her escort business, along with her long-time business partner Charrie and her new partners Kimberly Shepherd-Benning and Nicole “Nikki” Perez.

Special Agent Vincent Royal has been looking for Tess since she disappeared from his life several months ago in New York. The district attorney’s office called to let him know where to find her and now he’s determined to set the record straight.

Wicked Ways is the sequel to Getting Hers, and the story picks up with Tess (aka Madame X) and her friends finally getting back together in order to restart their lives after the end of their game of “murder by stranger”. Kim and Nikki trust Tess with their lives, but Nikki is suspicious of Charrie. After Vincent, Tess’ former lover, is shot by an unknown assailant and Tess disappears, Charrie convinces them that Tess is planning to get rid of them. Will they realize that Charrie is setting them all up before it’s too late? And what happens when they discover that one of their intended victims in New York has survived?

This story is set on the picturesque island of Aruba, in a beautiful Villa overlooking the ocean. It starts off a little slow and I found Kim and Nikki to be too gullible considering all they had been through already. Charrie’s character came off looking a little unstable, as well as, vindictive and immature. I really didn’t buy into her reason for doing the things that she did. Her reaction was just too “over the top”. I also cannot fathom why Tess’ character was watered down so much. She went from being cool and calculating to an emotional wreck. The sub-plot with Vincent the District Attorney, and Tracy was somewhat of an after thought.

Ms. Hill managed to tie up all the loose ends Wicked Ways, but as a sequel it lacks the intensity and the emotion of Getting Hers.

Where Souls Collide
Stefanie Worth

Leisure Contemporary Romance
Dorchester publishing Co., Inc.
ISBN: 978-0-8439-5970-3
Published: August 2007

Romantic Suspense
Rating: 2 Stars – OK
Reviewed by: Marguerite Lemons

Navena Larimore is the managing editor for the Detroit Dispatch, the city’s oldest and only African American weekly newspaper and she’s looking forward to a promotion to Editor in Chief, that is, until Maxwell shows up.
Maxwell McKnight is a former NBA star turned professor and now the new owner/editor-in-chief of the Dispatch.

Navena’s thirty-third birthday marks the day that she, as a Larimore woman, comes into possession of her “psychic gifts”. It also marks a time for change in her personal and professional life as well. Maxwell, her ex-lover, arrives just in time to throw a wrench into Navena’s already chaotic life. She is in the processing of breaking it off with her controlling boyfriend/landlord Luke Benson. Meanwhile a prophetic dream has Navena on edge because she knows that Maxwell will die unless she intervenes, but she has no idea how to use the gifts she never knew she had to bring about the change. And to make matters worse, her mother will only tell her that she must reconcile her spirit which was divided in half on her eighteenth birthday, the day her father died, in order to save her sanity.

Where Souls Collide is an interesting tale of psychic abilities and how they affect the life of the person with the gift. It is also a story of how we sometimes allow ourselves to become involved in a relationship just for convenience, while ignoring the signs that this person is not at all whom they seem to be. It’s a story of regrets and second chances.

I found this plot to be somewhat disjointed at times, and unbelievable at others. After a while, the flashbacks, trips between realms and levels of consciousness became distracting. The sub-plots were interesting but convoluted; and the other characters were used more as filler’s.

Ms. Worth started out with what could have been a great romantic suspense story, but it fell flat for me because too much focus was put on the development of the characters “psychic” abilities.

This book was just okay for me, but may be appealing to those of you who are into “psychic” abilities.

Nappily Married
Trisha R. Thomas

St. Martin’s Press
ISBN: 9780312361303
Published: August 2007

Minstream Fiction
Rating: 5 Stars - SUPREME
Reviewed by: Xaviera Tate

Venus for President! Venus for President! Nappily Married is the much anticipated sequel to Nappily Ever After. Trisha R. Thomas did not spare us one ounce of drama or her version of witty humor! The story picks up where Venus is trying to determine how she has gotten herself into more drama than she can handle. Venus works her way through lots of sticky situations and handles herself as only Venus can against a catty wife of Venus’ old lover boy Clint. You will laugh, cry, and say, take plenty of notes (for future references) in this excellently written novel.

Farther than I meant to go, longer than I meant to stay
Tiffany L. Warren

Warner Books
Published October 2006
Fiction Spiritual

Rating: 4 Stars – Very Good
Reviewed by: Camellia Varnado

I want to commend author Tiffany Warren. She does an outstanding job of revealing some common issues of the heart when it comes to single women with low self esteem. She addresses some key heart issues that most women have experienced at some point of time in their lives. She exposes the real enemy in all of us being ourselves. Unfortunately, we don’t see that pride until things break, people break or we break. Author Warren depicts the signs and warning of the heart when it comes to relationships. All relationships starting with God, mother, sister and friends she shows all sides.

Charmayne Ellis is a picture of most women whether you’re overweight, successful, un-educated, abused or mistreated. Because of low self esteem and pride Charmayne gave all her attention to her career and church activities as a cover. A mask so she wouldn’t have to deal with the loneliness, being overweight and her hurtful experiences with men. In this day and time, Travis was a figure that some women are experience everyday. He is relentless and pulls out all stops to persuade and charm Charmayne. Lynette and Ebony are great opposites but agree on their love for Charmayne in her time of need, regardless of their concerns.

A reader will experience laughter and agreement as they travel Charmayne’s journey in the wrong love. I enjoyed the underlying love in each character whether it was for someone else or themselves. Readers will be able to see themselves, a friend, sister, brother or mother in at least one of the characters of this novel. There are so many wisdom nuggets in this novel. I advise readers to pause and think on them for they will speak to your life as well as mine.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

FEATURED AUTHOR: Angelia Vernon Menchan

Angelia Vernon Menchan, wife, mother, mentor and former Job Corps Counselor pens her first coming-of-age novel for emerging women. Mrs. Menchan is the author of several other books and articles. Born and raised in Ocala Florida, she resides in Jacksonville, Florida. She is employed as a Budget Officer. She is a reviewer for APOOO BookClub and reviews for the Amazon Vine™ Program at

Is No Not Clear Enough For You

Sixteen year old Malaaka Green will tell the world, she can't be pigeonholed or stereotyped,
She is spiritual but she has fun...
She likes boys just fine, but she isn't going to do anything she doesn't want to do...
Malaaka owns Malaaka,
You will get to see how someone so young can have so much positive influence on those she loves and those who love her, mostly we will see that when she says no to others she is saying yes to herself…


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

I would love for readers of, Is No Not Clear Enough For You, particularly young adult readers to take away the message that they have choices. They should never say yes to anything that compromises or places them or their future in jeopardy. Mostly, that saying no to others is saying yes to themselves.

What inspired this story?

A couple of things inspired this story, I am a mentor and one of the biggest messages I try to get across to my girls is that they have to own themselves. Also, Malaaka, the heroine is a lot like I was at the same age. Blessedly, for some reason I always knew that my life was in my own hands. No matter what anyone else was doing, I was unswayable when it came to things like promiscuous sex, drugs or the use of alcohol. I wasn't as involved in church as Malaaka but was always spiritual. I also needed young people to know that being spiritual does not in any way mean they can't have fun. Fun is not defined by bad choices. I also added the flip side to Malaaka's story in the story of her best friend, Kim. Also throwing in a good bit about the adults in her life. I love and believe in the value of our youth.

What did you learn while writing this book?

How necessary it was to speak from a place of faith. I have discovered that many struggle with that, not wanting to be defined or labeled as a certain kind of writer. I knew that if ever I was going to be defined as anything I was completely comfortable with any label that came attached with this book. It was freeing.

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

The first thing would have to be that I could write what I truly wanted.

Secondly, that nothing happens overnight and that patience truly is a virtue. I still working on that one, patience. (smiling)

Finally, that I can't make anything happen that I have to allow things to happen.

What do you do to make time for yourself?

Though, I have a family, a full-time demanding job, while writing, mentoring and serving at my church, I take major time to refuel. Some days I simply sit at home, reading and staring out the back door. I also pamper myself whenever I feel the need to and as I tell my girls, I know how to say NO to others while saying YES to myself.

Thanks so much for interviewing me, I am most appreciative.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008



By Patry Francis

What would you do if your best friend was murdered—and your teenaged son was accused of the crime? How far would you go to protect him? How many lies would you tell? Would you dare to admit the darkest truths—even to yourself?

Jeanne Cross is an ordinary suburban wife and mother with a seemingly "perfect" life when Ali Mather arrives on the scene, breaking all the rules and breaking hearts. Almost against her will, Jeanne is drawn to this powerfully seductive woman, a fascination that soon begins to infect Jeanne's husband as well as their teenaged son, Jamie.

Though their friendship seems unlikely and even dangerous to their mutual acquaintances, Ali and Jeanne are connected by deep emotional needs, vulnerabilities and long-held secrets that Ali has been privately recording in her diary.

The diary also holds the key to something darker. Though she can't prove it, Ali is convinced someone has been entering her house when she is not at home-and not with the usual intentions. What this burglar wants is nothing less than a piece of Ali's soul.

When Ali is found murdered, there are many suspects; but the evidence against Jamie Cross is overwhelming. Jeanne's personal probing leads her to the question none of us would ever want to face. What comes first: our loyalty to family—or the truth?"

Monday, January 28, 2008


Francis Ray is a National Best-Selling author of 37 books. Ms. Ray, a graduate of Texas Woman's University with a degree in Nursing, lives in Texas with her husband.


Widow Traci Evans sits in on meetings with the lovely widows of the Invincible Sisterhood because for a little while she can feel as if she belongs. However, unlike the rest of the women in the Sisterhood, Traci's husband died while cheating on her. She had no intention of letting another man cheat on her - until a playful kiss with the gorgeous doctors turns hot.

Website address:

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

That life often knocks you down flat, when it does, get up, dust yourself off and live the live you were meant to live.

What did you learn while writing this book?

That friendship, real friendship, is priceless. Real friends don't tell you what you want to hear, they tell you the truth.

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

Sometimes, but I think about them in a positive way and about their courage to fight against the odds and win, just as Traci and Maureen do in NOT EVEN IF YOU BEGGED.

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

Characterization, I feel, is the key. Readers must care about the character and empathizes with them. If the reader doesn't care they won't pick up the next book or "wonder and worry" about them.

Why did you choose to write in the romance genre?

I became hooked on romance after reading SHANNA by Katherine Woodiwiss. I liked that the couple were monogamous despite the many problems they had. That's what true love is, the ability to work through problems because you can't imagine life without the other. You won't even think of being unfaithful.

What is the hardest part about the writing business?

The hardest part to me is writing the story. I struggle with each book, and the struggles are not becoming any easier. I want to give the reader the best possible story, for them to lose themselves for a few hours, and at the final page come away with something tangible about life.

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

That writers are people and that we write the best story that we can. We can take criticism, but do it in a constructive way. Please don't chose a public forum to trash a book. Think, will this help or hurt?

How much marketing do you do? What have you found that particularly works well for you?

Unfortunately, I haven't done much marketing, but I plan to change that. With the last 3 books, IN ANOTHER MAN'S BED, ONLY YOU, and NOT EVEN IF YOU BEGGED, I've done book trailers. I can't say if that helped or not. I do plan to branch out a bit. SORMAG is a new venture for me.

Name your top five favorite writing books.

Techniques of the Selling Writer, and Characters by Dwight Swain

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maas,

Writing Dialogue by Tom Chiarella, and Getting the Words Right by T.A. Cheney.

Do you do anything to promote family literacy?

I support and donate books to the Friends of the Library and my local library.

Friday, January 25, 2008


EDITOR'S NOTE: I write edgy Christian Fiction, so I’m always on the look out for these types of books. My fellow writer friend, Michelle Sutton, tipped me to a new book by a debut author and of course I had to read it. Oh my goodness I couldn’t put it down. It was so good. I was up all night reading. I love those types of books. What was really surprising to me is it’s a historical. Not many historicals are edgy. I highly recommend picking up this book. You will not be disappointed. I’m looking forward to reading the next books in this series. Did I mention I love series too. Yes, she’s found a new fan.

It’s my pleasure to introduce you to a new writer, even better if she’s from my home town. I know you’ll going to be a new fan too.

Julie Lessman is a debut author who has already garnered writing acclaim, including ten Romance Writers of America awards. She is a commercial writer for Maritz Travel, a published poet and a Golden Heart Finalist. Julie has a heart to write “Mainstream Inspirational,” reaching the 21st-century woman with compelling love stories laced with God’s precepts. She resides in Missouri with her husband and their golden retriever, and has two grown children and a daughter-in-law. Her first book, A Passion Most Pure, was released January 2008.

Visit her Web site at

A Passion Most Pure

She's found the love of her life. Unfortunately, he loves her sister ...

As World War I rages across the Atlantic in 1916, a smaller war is brewing in Boston. Faith O’Connor finds herself drawn to an Irish rogue who is anything but right for her. Collin McGuire is brash, cocky, and from the wrong side of the tracks, not to mention forbidden by her father. And then there’s the small matter that he is secretly courting her younger sister. But when Collin’s affections suddenly shift her way, it threatens to tear Faith's proper Boston family apart.

How did it feel to hold your first book?

Believe it or not, not as surreal as it felt seeing it on the shelf of Borders, right next to a Beverly Lewis bestseller!! You see, the publisher had already sent me an ARC copy—Advanced Reader’s Copy, which is a cheap, fast mock-up of your book that is sent to reviewers before the book is actually published; it has the cover and everything—so that was a real thrill, to be sure! But the moment that really brought it all home was the first time I saw A Passion Most Pure on the shelf at Borders! It was before Christmas, and my book wasn’t supposed to be out until January 1st, but a good friend said she had just bought it at a Borders in Indiana. Sure enough, there it was in our St. Louis Borders, so my husband and daughter faced it out (blocking some of the spines of Beverly Lewis’s books … sorry, Bev!) and took a cell-phone camera picture of it, which is now their screensaver. Way cool!!!

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

The MOST important thing I pray readers take away from this book is the reality of how natural and fulfilling an intimate relationship with God can and SHOULD be. Like breathing. This book may be fiction, but this is NOT a fairy tale here. It is possible to have a living, breathing relationship with the God of the Universe. He’s crazy about us, and if most people really understood that, their lives would turn on a dime and blessings would overtake them. Believe me, I KNOW this firsthand—I used to be a hard, cynical, coarse human being before God pulled me up by the scruff of the neck and said, “Yo, Julie! Get a clue. You’re the apple of my eye!” He’s been the love of my life ever since.

What are your main concerns as a writer?

Gulp, well, right off the bat, my first concern is will I regret giving up my day job!! YIKES, I took a leap of faith and gave my notice so I can write fulltime. Okay, God, it’s you and me!

Other concerns are silly things like promotion (Dear Lord, I HATE promoting!) … or how to set up a newsletter on my Web site … or writing a new synopsis (universal groan). And every so often, I do battle annoying concerns about coming up with new plots or fresh characters for the long haul. But since I am a pretty wired individual (ya think?), I cannot afford the anxiety of concerns, so I simply turn them over to God. Easy to say, but hard to do? Yeah, at first, but then like anything, it becomes a wonderful habit, and of course you have God’s Word to anchor you—an absolute must!

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

First, I wish I had known to go for an agent first, publisher second. I wasted two years and about 31 rejections on unagented queries to publishers, some of which took as long as three years to reply. In fact, within six months of signing with my agent, I sold to a publisher who STILL had an unagented proposal from me lost somewhere in their very deep slush pile!

Secondly, I wish I’d known what an emotional roller-coaster it was going to be AFTER I got published. Like a lot of unpublished writers, I thought all the anxiety and self-doubt would dissipate after I signed on the dotted line. I mean that would validate me, wouldn’t it? Give me confidence as a writer? But I discovered (AGAIN!) that true confidence is not in accolades from your editor or a really good review, but instead in where your heart is with God. HE is my confidence when my sales rankings on are high or low, which is why I CLING to the following Scripture from 2 Corinthians ll:3, praying it almost every day: Do not let my mind “be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.”

Thirdly, I wish I had known to establish more of a database a year before my book was released. My agent says you only have one shot at a debut novel, so you have to give it your all—via a loaded Web site, blogs, newsletters, etc., none of which I had until about three months prior to my launch. I attended an ACFW seminar where the teacher said you need to work on this at least 1-1/2 to 2 years prior to a book launch, which, of course, I didn’t!

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

Love the best? Oh, easy—writing love scenes, of course! I like tension, lots and LOTS of romantic tension, so when I write those scenes, my keyboard is smoking because my fingers fly. In fact, one of my friends wanted to know why I couldn’t just write a nice, “sweet” love scene. Duh, because I would fall asleep! Even my husband noticed the fast and furious pace of my love scenes—he said he would be meandering along in a nice, easy passage and then, bam! A love scene would hit, and before he knew it, he was 20 pages down the road!

Hate the most? Groan … trying to get published or trying to promote a book. YUCK!! Dear Lord, just let me write!

Are you a morning writer or a night writer?

Generally all afternoon (on my 2 days off, that is, after Bible time, prayer time, exercise and laundry are taken care of!). But if I am in the final stretch of a book, I pretty much write every available moment after prayer/Bible/chores are done, day and night, often into the wee hours of the morning. During those times, my husband and daughter think it’s kind of like living with a zombie—vacant stare and blank personality until that final line is written. Needless to say, they’re not too fond of the “end-of-book” mode and take great pleasure in teasing me about it.

What do you do to make time for yourself?

I READ—every chance I get! I actually carry a book almost everywhere I go so I can read while I’m waiting in store checkout lines, at doctors’ offices or even at a stoplight (especially if there is a train!). My favorite genre is romance (shock!), the bigger the book, the better (which explains the … ahem … length of my own novels!). I also love watching old movies (Gone With the Wind, That Touch of Mink, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Susan Slept Here are some of my favorites) and I especially like going out to dinner with my husband or snuggling with him while we watch a movie on “his” big-screen HD-TV. Mmm … now that’s making time for myself!

What should a new writer know about the publishing business.

Oh, boy, that it is slower than cold molasses!! You wait F-O-R-E-V-E-R for rejections or responses BEFORE you sell, and then you wait forever for things to move AFTER you sell. Maybe it’s my ten-cup-caffeine personality and twitchy leg syndrome, but I was not prepared for how LONG things take to go from contract to bookstore. So whatever you are sending to a publisher—from query letter to edits, you better be prepared to hurry up and wait.

How can readers get in contact with you?

Thanks for asking, LaShaunda! Readers can contact me through my Web site at, either by sending an e-mail via my site or by signing up for my newsletter, which will keep them updated on The Daughters of Boston series, as well as give them sneak peeks at the inside publishing process and info on book releases and signings. They can also just pop in and leave a comment and their e-mail on our group blog at, a blog about “The road to publication. Writing, contests, publication and everything in between.”).

Thank you, LaShaunda, for having me as your guest—it’s been fun!



Julie is kind enough to offer an autograph copy for one of our lucky readers. Leave a comment for a chance to win. Drawing on Friday

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Etours: Marchel Alverson

“Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” But what happens when your closest friend becomes your greatest enemy? Celeste Gray and Terri Hunter are best friends who seemingly have everything, including a “sacred” orange grove that connects them.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Growing up biracial in a Midwestern world of black and white, Marchel Alverson formed a unique perspective early on of what it means to be a “triple minority” in America. However, oppression and just plain old hard times did not stop her from pursuing her dreams. She obtained a bachelor’s degree from Central Missouri State University, and a master’s degree in communication studies from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Marchel has worked as a journalist for twelve years, both as a writer and editor in Kansas City, Mo., Reno and Tampa. Currently, she is working on her second novel, "Savor the Sweetness."

"When I sat down to write “Painted on Souls,” I wanted to portray the characteristics of love, heartache, longing and lust that are inherent in all of us, regardless of race. In short, I want to move people beyond the color line and embrace what makes us all God’s people. This book was always inside of me, and it came to fruition in five short months.

"Although I have big dreams of becoming the next Toni Morrison or Alice Walker, I’m content to have my books on the shelves of libraries and bookstores. Every aspiring writer wants to be a great writer. My dream is just to continue my lifelong love affair with the written word."

For more information on Marchel Alverson go to

eTour Stop #1:

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


eTour Stop #2:

Let's Talk Honestly, a site of African American opinion, poetry, news, and literature all hosted by George Cook host of his weekly online talk show LTH WEEKLY. Join us to check out great poetry and author interviews.

George L. Cook III author of Let's Talk Honestly Vol. 2 A book of poetry and essays on African American Issues Read ebook for free here:

Lets Talk Honestly

eTour Stop #3:

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

Anyone interested in joining can visit our website.

Sexy Ebony BBW Book Club

eTour Stop #4:

SORMAG is the blog to click on to meet the hottest multi-cultural authors hitting the book shelves. We have reviews of their latest book releases and we keep you current on what’s happening in the literary world. The best part, it’s interactive. You can leave a comment for a chance to win a SORMAG goody bag. Click on our link and tell us what you think.


eTour Stop #5:

LeRue Press, LLC is committed to helping writers publish and promote their work. Writers benefit from both Internet and traditional publishing and promotion including Marguerite Press Author eTours. With a variety of poetry, children's books like "Pick Me, Pick Me!" by Elizabeth Horton, and opportunities to write and be published in the "History of", we invite you to join LeRue Press, and find your voice and your chance to be published.

We here at LeRue Press are thrilled to be a part of eTours with Marguerite Press! And, we would like to offer the eTours authors' books for sale on our site. Our listing service is free. If the author's book sells, we handle the entire process. All they need to do is read and sign our agreement and forward a copy of the book.
The agreement lists the terms of sale. We only ask 9% of the sale price (less the Pay Pal fees). Our agreement clearly outlines what we expect. We hope this is a win-win for the author and for us. We hope by including the book along with the eTour, the authors will sell more books!

LeRue Press

eTour stop #6:

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

C&B Books

eTour stop #7:

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

Nevaeh Publishing

eTour stop #8:

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

Book Nibbler

eTour stop # 9

Delores Thornton The home of Delores "Queen of Promotion" Thornton

Delores Thornton

eTour stop # 10

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

Margie Gosa Shivers

eTour stop # 11

At APOOO our mission is to expose readers of all ages to a good book in any genre; to support African American authors, books, literary events and bookclubs; and, to promote literacy within the African American community.


eStop # 12

Mocha Readers

eStop #13

Roux in the Gumbo Blogspot

Monday, January 21, 2008

FEATURED AUTHOR: Ann Christopher

I’m a “retired” lawyer turned romance novelist for Kensington/Dafina and Harlequin/Kimani Press. Not to mention a wife and chauffer for my overscheduled children. If you’d like to recommend a great book, share a tip for getting your kids to do what you say the FIRST time you say it, or have a recipe for cake you’d like to share, I’d love to hear from you!


Newly-minted millionaire David Hunt has returned to Cincinnati to get revenge on Maria Johnson, the woman who broke his heart four years ago when she married the rich guy instead of him. Little does David know he’s about to fall more in love with her than ever…

Website address

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

Hmmm … I think with all my books I’d like readers to laugh a little, cry a little, and, hopefully, fall in love with the hero and heroine as they fall in love with each other. My message is always that love conquers all.

Oh, and I seem to have this running theme about righting past wrongs and/or getting revenge, LOL!

What did you learn while writing this book?

I’ve already talked about this a little in another blog—I learned how important characterization is, and that the character can be flawed but must still be heroic.

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

No, actually. In fact, I’m usually ready to boot the characters out the door by the time I’m two-thirds of the way through the book.

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

I think you have to show the good and the bad. People are human and have good qualities and bad qualities, good days and bad. You have to show it all and reveal the motivations behind the characters’ actions. That way, even if the character does something wrong, the reader will (hopefully) still understand and sympathize.

Why did you choose to write in the romance genre?

I love to read about people falling in love and all those firsts—first glance, first smile, first touch, etc., etc. The story is as old as time, but it never gets boring.

What is the hardest part about the writing business?

Hardest part? Wait! You mean there’s an EASY part??? Which part is EASY???

Just joking.

Well … no, I’m not joking. ;)

I certainly haven’t gotten any better at all the waiting this business requires, that’s for sure.

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

Ummm … that writers need lots of chocolate, champagne, and quiet time? That writers aren’t goofing off when they stare blankly into space? That writers aren’t ignoring you, they’re just thinking deep thoughts? Well … we’re not ALWAYS ignoring you. Let’s put it like that, LOL.

How much marketing do you do? What have you found that particularly works well for you?

I do a lot of marketing (web site, blog, MySpace page, mailings, chats, ads, teaching workshops and online classes) and I have no idea which, if any, parts of it work. I think the biggest thing I try to do for each book is an ad in Romantic Times BOOKreviews.

Name your top five favorite writing books.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (Stephen King)
Scene & Structure (Jack M. Bickham)
Writing the Breakout Novel (Donald Maass)
Goal, Motivation & Conflict (Debra Dixon)
The Writer’s Journey (Christopher Vogler)

These books are all fabulous, and every one of them has saved my butt at one time or another. They’re all dog-eared and highlighted because I’ve tried to suck as much information out of them as possible.

Thanks for having me! It’s always fun to visit SORMAG!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Author Intro: Caridad Pineiro

USA TODAY and NY TIMES Bestseller Caridad Pineiro is the author of nineteen novels, including her latest releases, MOON FEVER, HOLIDAY WITH A VAMPIRE and SOUTH BEACH CHICAS CATCH THEIR MAN. For more information on Caridad, please visit and


Four single girls + four sexy men = Trouble for one confirmed bachelorette who just wants to hang with her amigas!

Reporter Sylvia Amenabar loves her vida loca. Just months ago, she and her three best friends -- Adriana, Juli, and Tori -- were happily single, hoisting mojitos at their weekly get-together. Now, everything's changed. All four women have sexy men in their lives -- and Sylvia's not sure she likes it that way.

Ever since handsome cop Carlos Ramirez took a bullet for Sylvia after an investigative report went south, she's been fighting their intensifying attraction. Sure, he's gorgeous and great in bed -- and nearly died for her -- but Sylvia has sworn never to let a man be in a position to break her heart the way her father did by abandoning her and her mother.

Besides, who has time for the whole relationship dance? Sylvia's got a reputation to maintain as Miami's hottest new journalist. But when her latest assignment threatens to smear Adriana's boyfriend, Riley, and too-good-to-be-true Carlos, and her mother is hell-bent on reuniting with her father, Sylvia finds that life and love and family aren't things you can control!

-- Fresh Fiction: “It should be the dream of all women to have friends such as these characters. The relationships between the men and women of this story are passionate and solid. Caridad Piñeiro captures character qualities and weaves them into fresh fabric of paper print, page after wonderful page.”

Website address: and

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


The House That Love Built: The Story of Millard and Linda Fuller, Founders of Habitat for Humanity and The Fuller Center for Housing

Bettie B. Youngs, Ph.D., Ed.D.
Publisher Hampton Roads Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-57174-546-0

The House That Love Built is the story of Millard and Linda Fuller, founders of Habitat for Humanity, the largest nonprofit housing ministry in the world. It is a journey that spans more than forty years, from Millard's upbringing, to Millard's and Linda's serendipitous meeting, through a crisis that almost ended their marriage but providentially led them to give away their vast fortune, through the early years and humble beginnings of their housing ministry, to the years of Habitat for Humanity's phenomenal growth, and the eventual heart-wrenching takeover that led to the Fullers' dismissal from the same ministry they had birthed and nurtured. It is also the story of their spectacular rebound to establish the Fuller Center for Housing and their ongoing mission to eradicate poverty housing from the Earth.
Their story is a big one, and a remarkable one. Rare is the person who meets the Fullers or hears of their amazing journey and isn't inspired by them. They've built homes for a million of the world's poor, amassed more than sixty honorary doctorates between them, and won hundreds of awards. In 1996, Millard was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom the highest civilian honor a person can receive. In the nation's capital, behind the U.S. Treasury building, a large bronze emblem embedded in the sidewalk bears the Fullers'images and honors them as prestigious Points of Light recipients.

From the day Millard Fuller was first inspired to start Habitat for Humanity, he has strived to show the world that making decent shelter available to the needy is a matter of conscience and action, and he ceaselessly challenges people to join in the movement. Over the years, he has traveled tirelessly across the country and around the world to rally people into realizing that every community has the wherewithal "the talent, the resources, and the tools" to eradicate poverty housing, if only they have the will. And Millard was determined to show them how to make this happen. The results were no less than phenomenal. By 2005, under Millard and Linda's leadership, some one million more people had a decent place to call home. But Millard has never been one to gloat about the greatness Habitat has achieved. When some were quick to proclaim that Habitat was a smashing success, Millard would smile and say, Habitat has worked in more than 100 countries, but it still isn't in ninety other countries. We may have helped a million people find adequate shelter, but some billion more people are still in need.

Despite its great success "or perhaps because of it" by 2005, Habitat for Humanity had experienced a shift in its Christian underpinning and philosophy. Millard's ethics and movement mentality no longer appealed to a new board of directors who saw the Habitat as a business "an international conglomerate with a brand value of $1.8 billion. Millard’s insistence on maintaining Habitat's status as a ministry and movement would stand in the way of organizational change" and it would cost them the organization that was such an integral part of their lives.

Committed more than ever to their cause of building homes for those in need, they established The Fuller Center for Housing and continue what they call "Kingdom work" their ongoing mission to develop partnerships and raise resources to build homes for those in need of a simple, decent place to live.

Until this writing, the complete story of the Fuller's experiences has remained untold. Through understanding what happened inside Habitat's own house, and the Fullers' struggle and love through it all, you will come away with a renewed admiration for the visionary founders of Habitat for Humanity and the heart with which their organization was born. You will come to understand why the Fullers battled to keep Habitat as they had envisioned it unabashedly grassroots, stirring the hearts of people everywhere to respond to God's call to put love into action. And as Millard Fuller says, Every house is a sermon of God's love. It has been my privilege to tell their story of success, crisis, and changing direction; of renewing faith, finding purpose, and fulfilling destiny; of personal courage to stand for and fight for what really matters. It is my hope that The House That Love Built will give you a glimpse into the lives of two remarkable people, and be awed at the nobility of the human spirit.

Website address:

It be purchased from: In bookstores everywhere or from or Barnes &

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

Bettie B. Youngs, Ph.D., Ed.D., is the author of thirty-two books translated into twenty-four languages including The House That Love Built: The Story of Millard and Linda Fuller, Founders of Habitat for Humanity and the Fuller Center for Housing which is currently in production for a major motion picture.

Dr. Youngs is a former Teacher-of-the-Year; a former professor of graduate studies of Administration and Management; and a consultant to business, industry and education. Dr. Youngs is a frequent guest on television and radio talk shows, including The Today Show, NBC Nightly News, CNN, Oprah, Good Morning America and The View. Time magazine, U.S. News & World Report, USA Today, The Washington Post, Redbook, Working Woman, Parents magazine and the National Association for Secondary School Principals (NASSP) have all recognized her work.

Though Bettie's earlier work focused predominately on education and developmental issues for youth, family and educators, in recent years she is best known for her series of poignantly written short-story books that clearly and warmly elucidate the human spirit, captivating the American psyche and winning her wide-range appeal with audiences young and old alike. Popular books include Values from the Heartland; Gifts of the Heart: Stories That Celebrate Life's Defining Moments; Woman to Woman Wisdom: Inspiration for Real Life; Oh, Baby! 7 Ways a Baby Will Change Your Life the First Year (recipient of the 2007 Parents Choice Awards), and, the nationally award-winning 10-book self-help series for teens: Taste Berries for Teens: Inspirational Short Stories and Encouragement on Life, Love, Friendship and Tough Issues.

To contact:

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

To be inspired by a couple who have been among the most important figures in the 20th century.

What inspired this book?

A long-standing admiration for the Fullers, and their work.

Any exciting things happening before or during the time period while the book is releasing?

It was signed to a major motion picture.

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

Monday, January 14, 2008


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

I am a BET host, art filmmaker and now proud to say a published author. I am Guyanese American and was raised mostly in New York City. The show that I host is called The Best Shorts. It’s an indie film competition that airs throughout the US and Caribbean on BET J. My work is all about empowering people, mostly women, culturally, politically, emotionally and sexually.

My writing has been featured in a few other anthologies, and I have a motivational interactive site at . I am the daughter of writers and I have always loved writing. I have written many other books, but this is the first one that has been published. I feel like I have just given birth! I live in Harlem and I am a sister of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.

What inspired this book?

As a member of the hip hop generation, I wanted to do a project that didn’t indict or accuse hip hop for the ills of America, but shone a light in a comedic way on materialism and misogyny. In addition, I went through a very painful breakup right before writing this book. It was helpful to my own recovery to write a character dealing with the same thing.

Tell us about your current book?

This is my debut novel, LaShaunda! I am so excited. Dare is about an intelligent, professional woman who has studied social psychology and through a series of unpredictable events, she becomes a rapper named Jezebel. The book is comedic, romantic, and tons of fun, but there is a deeper message, a message of strength and self-esteem. The book includes glimpses into Maya’s inspirational notebooks full of affirmations and empowerment exercises for readers. My website will also feature downloadable worksheets to continue this work I call dareitude—daring to live the biggest, juiciest life possible.

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

I want readers of Dare to feel what you know at the end of The Wizard of Oz—you had it all along my dear. We are powerful beyond measure and the keys to achieving more bounty than we can imagine is within us. We can be our own blessing or our own curse.

How long did it take from first word to sale? What were some of the steps along the journey?

The story of Dare has been percolating in my mind for a while. I felt a bit like my main character Maya when I was a teenage rapper attending a prestigious all girls prep school on the Upper East Side. A version of a similar character to my main character Maya first appeared in a hip hop play I wrote named Goddess City, then similar character appeared in a couple of films I made about self-esteem and women’s sexual empowerment. From first word to sale may have been about 6 months, and then I delved into completing the novel and working on it for a year. Again, I wasn’t starting from scratch. When I write, I immerse myself into the process. I turn off the phones and don’t leave the house.

What have you learned throughout the process of writing, pitching - and now, promoting your book?

I am still learning and relearning over and over again that pitching me is only up to me. I Abiola Abrams falls apart tomorrow, Simon and Schuster and BET will be fine. Also, it’s equally important to be a business person as it is to be an artist. I look forward to communicating with my audience of readers and building a strong on-going relationship with them.

Any exciting things happening before or during the time period while
the book is releasing?

My book release party is called Party Like a Book Star, and I’m really excited about my virtual tour called the Dare to Be B.A.D. Revolution. I’ve gotten great feedback from women who I really respect:

"DARE takes chick lit to another level. Without a doubt, all the fun and fantasy is still there, but Abiola Abrams serves them up with a healthy serving of smarts and spirituality. Her debut novel, at once, gives us what we love about this genre, yet breaks new -- and deeper -- ground." - SOFIA QUINTERO AKA BLACK ARTEMIS, author of Divas Don't Yield and the Black Artemis hip-hop novels

"Abiola Abrams' debut is like a breath of fresh air for young fiction and the depiction of women in hip hop. Finally, the world will see the conflicted struggles of ladies in the rap biz in a way that women in hip hop have known and understood for years." -Raqiyah Mays, Writer/Radio Personality on Hot 97 & 98.7 Kiss FM

"ABIOLA ABRAMS puts it down in her new novel DARE. Full of flavor, a fast-paced mix of wit, drama and scandal. You did your thing, lady." -TN BAKER, Essence Best Selling author of Sheisty and Dice

"DARE is a good read all the way around from the title chapters that take you back to memorable female lyrics to the fascinating plot. Different, adventurous, and just plain fun, this debut adds much needed spice to the literary arena." --MIASHA, Essence Best Selling Author of Mommy's Angel, Sistah for Sale and Never Enough: No Secret's Safe


How much marketing do you do? What have you found that particularly works well for you?

I am just learning this marketing game—it’s tricky. Being able to share with my readers via my website, myspace and blackplanet works for me.

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

1) Happiness is important. When we grow up in communities of color, we often think that happiness is a luxury. It’s in the American constitution. Joy is key and we have a right to it. There’s no need to feel guilty for living well.

2) That being said-- No one else is responsible for our happiness. The only person responsible for how you feel is you. People behave in certain ways and we may choose to react, but we also choose how we react.

3) Other people’s opinions of you do not matter. At the end of the day, your life and choices are between you and your creator. It is better to take a risk and fall short than not to try at all.

What do you do to make time for yourself?

Balance is really the key, LaShaunda. I work extremely hard, but I play hard, and my spiritual foundation is critical to my survival.

The Dare to Be B.A.D. Revolution is about having the moxie to live your life your way. A Dare Girl is a woman who is self-empowered, so my biggest beauty tip is about the mind. The keys to dareitude as I call it, or the Dare lifestyle are joy, love, beauty, moxie, harmony and truth. We are a divine beings who are inherently worthy. We don’t have to prove ourselves. We are already worth more than we can imagine. Our lives are a reflection of what we have focused on in our minds. So often we cheerlead for everyone else, but then we rip ourselves down because many of us as women have been trained to take care of everyone else BUT us. There is a reason why they tell you on the plane to put your own mask on before assisting anyone else.

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

I love interacting with readers. They can find me all over the web:

Abiola Abrams Official Site:

Abiola on Myspace:

Abiola on Blackplanet:



Abiola Abrams

Simon & Schuster Pocket Books

Chapter 1

"He loses because he never understood the game."

-- Sister Souljah, Coldest Winter Ever

Maya Gayle Hope stood in front of The Dandridge Pavilion and Convention Center on Three Birds Avenue squinting into the dim daylight. Strains of wayward poems in her head, windbeaten protest sign in her hands, "Stop police brutality now" on her lips; her life was held together by rubber bands.

"Once upon a life when I was sexy / Connected to my sweet meitude. / What a metamorphosis is this? / Shade / Sweetness / Struggle." She was feeling the beginnings of a new poem's first kiss. They usually came at inconvenient times. There was nowhere to write it down.

"No justice, no peace!" She marched the sidewalk chanting like an evening chick gone wrong. A crumbling gray Thunderbird honked an ungentle greeting as it passed. A police car slowed, trying to determine whether she was a threat or a lone crazy. They decided lone crazy and kept it moving. A corn-colored '70s Beetle rumbled by and the backseaters, laughing, tossed neon orange soda, even their music cussing her: "I'm gonna rape, rape, rape the game / Make you cream, scream out my name / I'll put it in the front and bust out ya back. / Keep pounding till your momma have a heart attack..."

"Yo, Pippi Longstocking. Take your panties off your head!" the mohawked one shouted.

Dumb ass. Good men were slim pickings in Faustus. Sistas felt with the shortage it was time to start sharing, meaning that those freaks were a catch to somebody. No brotha she'd ever met, including her pop, knew how to be good to one woman much less multitask.

While other brown girls strove for this year's version of Moschino ho or Versace hottie, Maya's gear of many layers was what a homeless person might sport if Goodwill shut down. In fact, that was where she shopped in the rare moments when saving the world created some net. Her student loans and Athena's credit card debt made for lean living. La glorious bohème it damn sure wasn't, but with her hazelnut eyes, and triple dark toffee skin she could sometimes get away with it. Curry scarf, lemon coat, pomegranate-red corduroys and vanilla pearl earrings. Maya was viewing everything in terms of food these days. Matching was clearly not on her list of priorities. Her booty coulda made JLo blush and her saggin'-too-soon D+ cups definitely would have been helped by a bra. But you know dudes. They don't care.

She caught her reflection in an old rain puddle. She was two years past the age when most people found looking bootleg acceptable. Although thirty is the new twenty, you still need to have your stuff together. Folks blamed her hyper meta colors on her Trini background. She never mentioned that although her parents walked to Tobago for school holiday, the dirt under her childhood fingernails was Yankee through and through. Ohio's own. Yellow Springs born, Faustus bred.

You know that concave spot in the small of your back that's the first to sweat when you're on the treadmill working it like you promised you would? Right above the booty, deliciously kissable when given half a chance but it usually just languishes as a repository for warm sweat? Ick. Yeah. Ick. Faustus, Ohio, just east of Cincinnati, is exactly like that spot with a large dose of small town pride heaped on top. Three things about The Faust that nobody in the real world gives a damn to know: (1) Faustus is the home of The Midwest Game Fishing Museum, a fantastic place to get some geezer to buy you lunch; (2) the best spot anywhere to get your multiculti grub on is Fillet My Sole -- be sure you try the crawfish; and (3) hip-hop music is alive and thriving high in the 513 area code.

Oblivious to only one out of three of these critical facts, Maya stood in the center of the sidewalk with her curly 'fro sweating out into plain ole naps under her pom-pommed pea-green knit cap. Her protest was supposed to be five strong, not one weak. A Dunbar grad and the daughter of Antioch professors, activism was in her blood. The parents had drilled it enough times growing up: being black is political whether you are a political person or not. Too bad she wasn't ever with them long enough to get any concrete advice besides (a) the political thang and (b) Maya, you have to work ten times as hard as anyone else because blah, blah, blah...The good thing now was that her political protests gave her an alternate identity to the "chick with the wedding that wasn't," and gave her something else to focus on besides her sucky job.

"Hey, hey. Ho, ho. Police brutality's got to go!!!!!" She kicked her pitiful pile of handmade signs. How'd it go again? Stand for something or fall for...No rest for the weary. Maya thrust a sign back into the air. "To serve, protect and break a brotha's neck!!"

A lazy shingle freed itself from the old building and crashed to the ground barely missing her. Great. If it wasn't for bad luck, she would have none.

Her cause this week? The FPD gave another Mexican kid a beatdown and everybody moved on to American Idol while the teen lay in traction. One by one, the defeated people united offered Maya, their chocolate Norma Rae, a bevy of elaborate excuses: Damali decided to get a two-year jump on her dissertation. Apparently this required MAC Lychee Luxe Lip Glass and new cornrows. Smooches! Quamel forgot that he'd signed up for animal rescue. Later Maya. Ovid's great-aunt's cousin Dee Dee had come in to town and needed a lift. Who would think that his great-aunt would have a dirty-blonde cousin that looked twenty-one? Wink-wink. And Athena just wanted to work on her music. Truth was that Ohio was witnessing an unseasonably warm St. Paddy's Day and her protest crew, a ragtag group of other locals who still cared, was probably off in Harmony Park enjoying global warming.

This was just what she needed on an Ugly Day. You know those days? When that extra five pounds becomes twenty overnight? Everybody has Ugly Days. Hell, Halle has Ugly Days. Now, it doesn't matter what you look like, it's what you feel you look like when you ask the mirror, Who the hell is that?! Homegirl must've slept on her face because that child is hid-e-ous. Wasn't nothing worse than being stood up by a crowd of people on an Ugly Day.

"Hey, cheesecake! I wouldn't mind eating you." A businessman who should have been a construction worker blew a kiss.

Maya chanted louder but except for the guys trying to kick it, passersby barely glanced. "Ugh. I'm civic roadkill." She plopped down on the building steps. So much for Justice for Juan Suarez.

An old crone who probably felt sorry to see such a young woman talking to herself threw some change, starting a trend. Monkey see, monkey doers tossed coins onto the lame pile of signs and fliers. Maya damn sure wasn't mad at this trend as she and Athena combined earned almost $500 less than their monthly budget and only made ends meet with the ancient art of bill juggling. You know, paying who is most overdue and telling the electric co that they can't cancel service because you have a resident on life support. Someone pressed a few dollars into her hand and Maya looked up.

"You got DSL?"

Well hello. Ebony man alert! Finally, a fine one. Almond and beefy. Even during her dry season she knew a hot prospect. How did flirting go again? She pulled off her cap and tried to toss her tangled 'fro. It knotted further and a dash of sediment from the crumbling roof deposited itself like a barrette.

"DSL? Online?" Maya's face was beginning to smile. He grinned back.

"No. Dick Sucking Lips. You look good. What you doing later, girl?" He threw a couple more singles and laughed. "Get your hair combed."

"I'm not your ho!" she shouted at his back as he strutted down the sidewalk, enjoying her piss-off-ity. Despite herself she loved watching a black man walk. She imagined a Zulu plume on his back. If they were Zulu her family could take possession of at least three goats for that disrespect. Maya scrambled up the change and bills and put them on the steps for someone needier. She noticed a new hole in the back of one of her old green Keds. The laces were filthy. If she didn't do such a good job, her boss would never let her into the office. She started to pack up the fliers, then reconsidered. Maybe someone with a little more gas in their engine might be inspired to take up the cause. Sufficiently humiliated for one bright shiny day, she put on her unattached earphones, hopped on her environmentally friendly purple bike and took off, wrapped in wolf whistles all the way, her helmet still hooked to the handlebars.

"Yo, shawty! You need to smile..."

"Baby, you got a big ass..."

"Your parents wasn't frontin' when they made you..."

"What? You can't speak? You black bitch. Bitch. BITCH!"

You know how brothas get. They didn't care that she was wearing headphones. Oh, you're wondering why she was wearing headphones with no iPod, right? Well, her Discman wore out a chip a while back when she was overdosing on Wayne Dyer's motivational words and earphones were a reasonable form of protection. They cut down the hoots and hollers by at least 60 percent. Proven sociological fact: when most guys think you can't hear them, they shut up. Unfortunately, most is not all. The barbershop TV blared a music vid with a dude and naked chicks rapping about something boring. Maya rode faster.

The fresh smell of buttercream frosting summoned as she tried to pass Desi's Desserts. Well, it was already an Ugly Day, might as well earn it. Desi's wife, Salma, smiled as Maya parked her ride in the front door of the adorable neighborhood hot spot. Salma wore her overdyed auburn hair in a flip and sported short rainbow nails that matched her sweet creations.

"Trini gyal! One Strawberry Supreme, right?" Salma's singsongy lilt felt like home.

"Make it two," Maya answered. She used to jump into her own Trini accent whenever she saw Salma. She hadn't in a while. "How's the baby?"...

© Abiola Abrams, 2007. Simon & Schuster Pocket Books, All Rights Reserved.

Friday, January 11, 2008


Gary Starta

A love of crime scene investigation and mystery inspired the creation of Murder By Association, a novel set in Starta’s birth state, Massachusetts. Starta plans to feature Detective Stanford Carter in several forthcoming books.

Dedication: For Elena and Inga

Murder By Association

CSI inspired novel available at Eternal Press.Com

As Boston’s most lethal serial killer jeopardizes the city’s anniversary celebration, CSI boss Stanford Carter desperately fights for forensic clues to nail the perp. But the ‘Plunger’ who stabs his victims through the heart, leaves only Tarot cards as evidence. The Mayor is demanding an arrest and eventually Carter’s diligence gives him one. But the Mayor is keeping a secret from Carter. He is being blackmailed by the mob and soon the murders will begin again and this time they will no longer be just the work of a deranged serial.

See it here…

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

AUTHOR INTRO: Donald James Parker

Don Parker is a 1968 graduate of Madison Central High School in Madison , South Dakota . He graduated from Dakota State University in Madison in 1972 with a degree in secondary education. After moving to Washington State in 1981, Don studied computer programming and turned his writing efforts to software. After twenty-five of IT work, Don's passion for writing flared up again, and the doctors couldn't do anything to cure it. The outcome is a five book series involving two generations of the Masterson family. More to come!


This novel combines romance and humor with a cerebral search for truth. It does not pull punches. It names real people as it showcases most of the intelligent design/creationism arguments in one central location. This book is not for those unprepared for an intellectual challenge or a spiritual gut check.

Website address:

Monday, January 07, 2008

FEATURED AUTHORS: Virginia DeBerry - Donna Grant

With five novels to their credit, Virginia DeBerry and Donna Grant, best friends for 25 years, have turned a friendship into the most successful and enduring writing collaboration in African American fiction.

Donna and Virginia first met as plus size models vying for the same assignments. They were both featured in catalogs, ads, magazines and made national television appearances. Their modeling careers led to the opportunity to launch Maxima, a fashion and lifestyle magazine for plus-size women, where Virginia was editor-in-chief and Donna the managing editor. When publication of Maxima ceased, Virginia and Donna decided to try writing a book together. The result, Tryin' to Sleep in the Bed You Made (1997), was a critical success, an Essence magazine bestseller, as are all three of their books, and won the Merit Award for Fiction from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, as well as the 1998 Book of the Year Award from the Blackboard Bestseller List/African American Booksellers Conference-Book Expo America. More than that, it hit an emotional nerve with tens of thousands of readers from all over the world who continue to write to Virginia and Donna ten years after the book's publication. Far From the Tree (2000) became a New York Times bestseller, and Better Than I Know Myself (2004) received two Open Book Awards, and was included on the Best African American Fiction of 2004 lists of both Borders and WaldenBooks. Gotta Keep on Tryin', the long awaited sequel to 1997's Tryin' to Sleep in the Bed You Made, will be released in January 2008 and has already received glowing reviews.

Donna attended Barnard College and is a graduate of New York University . A Brooklyn native, she currently lives in the borough with her husband. Before becoming a novelist, she spent more than a decade as a plus size model, represented by the 12 + division of Ford Models. During that career, Donna was featured in catalogs and national ads, on the pages of such magazines as Essence, McCalls, Family Circle and Woman's Day, and made appearances on "Today," "Good Morning America ," and "Live with Regis and Kathie Lee."

Virginia, a former high school English teacher from Buffalo , New York , attended Fisk University and is a graduate of SUNY at Buffalo . After almost 10 years in the classroom, she moved to New York and started a successful career as a plus size model. She was frequently featured in catalogs, advertising, magazines and appeared on several television programs including "The Today Show." She retired from modeling after two years and became Vice President of BB/LW, an agency for plus size and petite models as well as a spokeswoman for Hanes hosiery. Virginia now lives in New Jersey .

Almost since Tryin' to Sleep in the Bed You Made hit the shelves, readers have been asking for a sequel--something we never thought about after we completed that book. But 10 years worth of requests later--we decided to tackle the project. It was nerve wracking--but ultimately fulfilling to revisit the characters we'd put down so many years before. We thought long and hard about how to approach the story and concluded that the best way was to allow for time to have passed in Pat, Gayle and Marcus' lives too. So in Gotta Keep on Tryin' we pick them up six years after Tryin' ended and bring them forward to the present time.

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

We want them to see that life and relationships are on a continuum. We are constantly growing and changing--hopefully for the better. That it's important to be engaged in the process--not to just let life happen to you, around you. And that whatever happens, we all have to keep on tryin'.

What inspired this story?

When we wrote Tryin' to Sleep in the Bed You Made, we had no idea how much readers would identify with Pat, Gayle and Marcus--their struggles and triumphs, but most of all their friendship. From the very beginning we got mail that asked about them and wanted to know how the saga continued.

Well, ten years have passed, which means a lot has gone on. Gayle's daughter, Vanessa, was a child when we left her. Now she is a young woman, with ideas about how to make her own bed.

Pat and Gayle had renewed their friendship and were on the verge of starting a business together when we left them. Ten years later, the business is a success, but has it taken a toll on their friendship? It is a question we are often asked personally, so it was interesting to explore the possibilities for discord and to see if it could be resolved.

Readers were happy for Pat and Marcus, felt they belonged together. What happens when you mix, marriage, busy careers, and one partner who wants children with one who is reluctant to take that plunge?

And what ever happened to Gayle's gambler husband, Ramsey? There was so much to explore, in addition to the new characters who come into all of their lives, that we felt it was finally time to visit these old friends.

What did you learn while writing this book?

That the process of writing a book doesn't get easier because you already know the characters!! But we also learned that the personalities we gave each of the characters in Tryin' remained the guides we followed as Pat, Gayle and Marcus continue on their journeys.

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

Donna: I love being in the trenches with the keyboard and the words. Some days it's really a struggle, but when the words are finally down and they really speak to me, that's the best!

The time between when I finish a book and when it is finally out there with readers is tough for me. I worry about whether there is something I should have done differently, could have done better. I don't think that feeling will ever go away. I have decided the apprehension is there to keep me sharp, so I embrace it as part of my process.

Virginia: And I'm just the opposite. I can't actually say I hate being in the trenches--but I'm much more a socially gregarious creature, so the long hours and long days inside, writing are difficult for me. And my favorite part is once the book is with the readers--that's when the communication really takes place--I and I look forward to hearing from readers--through mail, email on or guestbook--or reading the comments on

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

We both sometimes wish we had gotten to writing earlier, but we've decided you have to live enough life to have stories to tell. So, we got here when the time was right. And generally we have found out what we need to know when we need to know it. We like leaving room for surprise, and room to grow. It keeps the journey fresh.

What should a new writer know about the publishing business?

That it is a business and they must be prepared to learn as much about the business of publishing as they have learned about their craft. The art is why we do what we do, but knowing the business is how we survive.

What do you do to make time for yourself?

That's a good question and we're still working on the balance. In the last 18 months we have written two books and a screenplay, for Tryin' to Sleep in the Bed You Made. Along with 2 partners we are producing Tryin'--The Movie, which has been exciting, but also time consuming. Now, add family and friends and the unscheduled situations that have to be handled and there are a lot of balls in the air. Although we have worked many holidays, weekends and birthdays through the years, this year, for the first time, we actually spent Thanksgiving working--we took a break to grill some Thanksgiving steak. We did it so we can hopefully finish our next book before Christmas so we can spend it enjoying the season with our families, but there are always compromises.

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

So many ways---


DeBerry& Grant
PO Box 5224
Kendall Park, NJ 08824


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