Friday, May 30, 2008

COVER AUTHOR INTRO: Claudia Mair Burney

Claudia Mair Burney is the author of Murder, Mayhem & a Fine Man and Death, Deceit & Some Smooth Jazz, both titles in the Amanda Bell Brown Mystery series. She lives in Michigan with her husband, five of their seven children, and a rabbit. Visit her blog at

Zora and Nicky: A Novel in Black and White

Zora Nella Hampton Johnson knows exactly where she comes from her daddy won't let her forget. Of course, for that privilege, he keeps her in Prada and Kate Spade. He chooses her boyfriend, her car, her address and ignores not only her mother, but her own love of painting, art and the old ways of her granddaddy's soulful AME church. Her daddy may be a preacher, but somewhere among the thousands of members, Zora has lost God. And she wants him back.

Nicky Parker, a recent graduate of Berkeley and reformed playboy, also suffers the trials of being a preacher's kid, and he can't remember the last time he saw eye-to-eye with his white, racist, Republican, Southern Baptist father. What he does remember and it will be forever burned in his brain despite myriad prayers to Jesus is the way Zora looked the first time he saw her.

When they meet at a Bible study far from their respective home churches, the first churlish, sarcastic sparks that fly sizzle with defensiveness. But God has a special way of feeding the flames, and though from different flocks, these two lost sheep will find Him and much, much more.

Death, Deceit & Some Smooth Jazz
An Amanda Bell Brown Mystery

Amanda Bell Brown is a woman on the edge.

How's a woman supposed to nurse a broken heart when her pet sugar glider is driving her batty, or is that squirrelly? The deafening tick of her biological clock and having no Jazz to soothe her makes Amanda Bell Brown one frazzled forensic psychologist.

When Lieutenant Jazz Brown shows up at Amanda's door unannounced, her heart competes with her head as she struggles to do the right thing. Jazz says he wants to reconnect and make their relationship work. But there's just one tiny problem: his ex-wife is found murdered -- in his apartment.

Now Amanda has to strap on her sleuthing shoes -- the cute gold pair -- and work against time to discover the truth, both for herself and for Jazz. But as the body count rises and surprising clues begin to surface, Amanda wonders if anyone can know the heart of a man -- especially her man.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Pre-Katrina New Orleans: In FATE, you met Vanessa Lewis, a young woman destined to fall in love with Scott, a man so different, yet so perfect for her.
CHANCES, continues this family's story with Vanessa's no nonsense sister Monica. After losing the man of her life she was determined to bestow her love and attention on her children. Until her new neighbor became an honorary member of the family. Everybody loved Devin. Could she?

MISCONCEPTIONS, brings the family together to support Daniel and Cassie as they fight a persistent thorn in everyone’s side.

IRONIC brings them all together once again as the family’s nemesis unexpectedly falls for a member of this strong family united in love.

Post-Katrina New Orleans : In STORM experience the aftermath of the worst natural disaster to hit the Gulf Coast through the eyes of the Lewis’s as Sabrina Adams and Josh Lewis find and preserve love in the midst of devastation.

An Excerpt
by Pamela Leigh Starr

Saturated With Katrina

Everywhere I go,

Someone’s life is on the sidewalk

My face curls up,

A flimsy attempt

To prevent

The stench from entering my nostrils

The speech in my periphery

Of losses, lies, dreams halted

In their tracks

Causes my ears to vibrate

A sadness that plunges into my spirit like a torrent wave

My town! My Town! My Town!

My People! My People! My People!

My mouth curls up

My fingertips warm, in the sweet grip of reunion

By Angela Foy Thomas
My sister and ONE of MANY Hurricane Katrina victims still rising

Chapter 1

It was no use.

It was dying.

Dreading the only decision left to her, Sabrina Adams guided the car to the shoulder of the road, moving faster in her sputtering twelve-year old Corolla than the stalled traffic she’d sat in for the last ten hours. The narrow shoulder was not quite wide enough to accommodate her compact-sized car. Coming to a complete stop partway on the shoulder and partway the grassy field running parallel Sabrina threw her car into park, shut the engine off and stared out the windshield as the radiator released its last, fiery breath with a tremendous puff of smoke.
She had been warned that the radiator was on its last leg and that her Band-aid approach of periodically adding water would one day fail. The radiator needed to be replaced and she had planned on getting it done one day last next.

Which was exactly what she had said the week before. And she had meant it, had even put money aside for that exact purpose, but a more pressing matter had derailed her.
Sabrina got out of the car and stared at the bumper to bumper traffic stretching as far as se could see. Thousands were fleeing New Orleans, heading for higher ground.
A hurricane was headed toward New Orleans again, like the year before with Hurricane Ivan, it was a snail-moving-through-molasses evacuation, nevertheless, people were taking the threat of Hurricane Katrina seriously.
Despite the inconvenience…
Despite the traffic…
Despite last year’s memory of a fifteen to twenty hour drive that would normally take no longer than two to five hours…
Katrina could be the one the entire population of New Orleans had been warned about for as long as she could remember, all her life probably. “New Orleans is a bowl,” she had heard over and over again. With Lake Ponchartrain to the north of the city and the Mississippi River running through it, if the city got a direct hit there would be no place for the water from the storm surge to go. It was a bit hard to imagine, but who would dare to be stuck in such a situation?
Not her.
Which was why, having a car, slightly handicapped as it was, she was evacuating. A little late but that couldn’t be helped. A steady, constant breeze washed over her, a heavy scent of rain in the air. She needed to find some shelter. According to the radio report the storm would be making landfall in a matter of hours. Pulling her cell phone out of her pocket she dialed her uncle’s house for the twenty-fifth time. Her grandmother was safe. She had already been picked up, transported and made comfortable by her uncle who lived in Lafayette, Louisiana, about one hundred forty miles from New Orleans, and where she had been headed there herself. That is, until she found herself in the wrong lane for the contra-flow designed to help relieve traffic. It had steered her northeast toward Hammond and no one, instead of northwest toward Lafayette and family. If she didn’t show up, her grandmother would worry and wouldn’t sleep, which would keep her Uncle Darren from sleeping. He needed to sleep, because storm or storm, he had to go to work the next morning. Uncle Darren was one of Lafayette Police Department’s finest. He would be preoccupied with dealing with the influx of people evacuating from New Orleans. There would be thousands of people simply coming through or looking for a safe place to stay for a while. Sabrina knew from Uncle Darren’s muttered complaints during and just after last year’s mandatory evacuation, that dealing with the effects of such a large mass exodus, for even a brief period of time, stretched the resources of all nearby cities and towns.
“Can I help you ma’am?” A young state trooper mercifully interrupted her rampaging thoughts.
Turning to fully face the officer, Sabrina snapped her cell shut to the recording she had heard over and over again, informing her that she, along with and because of thousands of other customers who were calling their loved ones, could not get through to the party dialed and should try again at a later time.
But voila’, she had the next best thing: a handsome state trooper, well, not exactly handsome, but definitely cute, but nowhere near as cute as John, especially when he—
“Ma’am, can I assist you?”
Pulling in her wayward thoughts, which always ran wild when she was nervous, Sabrina smiled and nodded at the cute trooper who could never compare to John, but who could direct her to the nearest police station or shelter where she could use a phone.
“Your car?
“It died.”
“So I noticed.”
“It’s the radiator.”
The trooper nodded. “Can I give you a lift, get you out of harm’s way? The highway is closing as soon as the traffic dies.”
“I know. I just made it out a couple of hours before the highways closed in New Orleans.”
He nodded again impatiently. He probably thought she was nuts standing in the middle of nowhere conversing on the topic of road closures when she should be jumping at the chance for help. The leery look that crept onto his face confirmed it. But Sabrina wasn’t nuts, just worried about her grandmother. She had had a heart attack a few months ago and though mild, the possibility of losing her had scared Sabrina enough to keep her at her grandmother’s side until two days ago. At that time she had had no idea that Hurricane Katrina would decide to make her way to New Orleans. The hurricane had been heading to Florida as most of them did. And the only thing that had torn Sabrina away from her grandmother’s side was the old woman’s insistence that Sabrina celebrate her twenty-first birthday. Which was what she had been doing with her best friend Kara. Celebrating her adulthood and her decision to tell John Lewis exactly how she felt about him. That of course turned out to be a disaster. She had been so wrapped up in said disaster and Kara was so knocked out from too lack of sleep due to Sabrina rehashing her most recent embarrassing encounter with John that Sabrina had not noticed the increasing amount of traffic leaving New Orleans as they headed back to the city. It wasn’t until Sabrina pulled into the driveway of her friend’s home to find, Kara’s sister storming down the steps, her arms overflowing with luggage. She informed that there was a mandatory evacuation and that Kara had better pack and be ready to leave in the next half hour. That was the first inkling Sabrina had gotten that Hurricane Katrina was headed their way. prompting her to race home, gather Grammy and a few basic needs to begin their own evacuation, only to find a curt note from Uncle Darren telling her that he had collected Grammy that she should “--call and get your butt to Lafayette ASAP!”
The cutie interrupted her thoughts once again. “Can I escort you to a shelter? I have a few other motorists in your predicament.”
“Yes, of course, I’d appreciate that.”
Sabrina followed the trooper to a police van, nodding to the handful of passengers as she took a seat. Instead of pulling into the congested highway, the van moved across the field and onto a small dirt road. Sabrina tried to relax against the warm vinyl, assuming that this was some sort of shortcut.
“All this traffic and bother for nothing,” a nasty voice said behind her. “Watch, we’ll all be back in a day or two, three at the most, having evacuated for no good reason. The hurricanes always miss us. Watch and see.”
Sabrina turned to see a middle-aged balding man with a huge belly taking up most of the seat behind her.
“If it wasn’t for you I’d be in my own house relaxing with a couple of beers,” he told a scrawny blonde women sitting on what was left of the seat. The woman ignored the grouchy man and Sabrina’s look of sympathy, staring straight ahead.
“The traffic and the situation have made us all irritated,” the trooper was saying, “but in the long run you’ll be glad you listened to the authorities and evacuated.”
“I doubt it,” the man grumbled before falling silent.
Turning away from the disgruntled passenger, Sabrina noticed a frail, elderly man sitting next to a middle-aged one who could be nothing other than his son. She remembered seeing them on the highway a few miles back. The sweltering heat of August in southern Louisiana had looked as if it was draining every bit of energy from them as they sat in the barely moving traffic with windows rolled down. Sabrina understood their predicament. Her air conditioning barely functioned, blowing only semi-cool air, but at least she had that much. And she was young to boot. She smiled at them. They mustered a smile of recognition and a quiet hello.
The sight of them brought her grandmother to the forefront of her mind again. Trying to clear her head of worry, Sabrina allowed herself to relive part of her birthday adventure, only the good part. After all, it was because of her adventure that her uncle had had to travel to New Orleans to take her grandmother to safety. Because of her adventure, she had left the city just before the highways were closed and long after her grandmother. And it was because of her adventure that she had embarrassed herself more than she had ever done in her life, a major feat in and of itself.
“John.” She sighed his name, wallowing in her infatuation. No, not infatuation. Her grandmother thought it was infatuation, and maybe at one time it had been. As a teenager she had sighed and mooned over John Lewis and his identical twin brother Josh every time she saw them and every hour in between. But then, one day she’d found herself mooning over John and only John. He was somehow the more handsome of the two, even taking into consideration the identical twin thing. John was the one she had fallen in love with.
John, so sweet and talented and probably still completely mortified and mad as hell that I made a pass at him, Sabrina pressed her face into her palms. She lifted her eyes a moment later to stare at the lights of a three-story building that looked like a school, situated on the side of the dark highway. A lone figure was walking toward the building, carrying what looked to be an instrument case. The deceptively slight build, the straight, confident walk… It couldn’t be him. But as they drove closer Sabrina had no doubt that it was.
It made perfect sense. They had both left from the casino hotel where he had played a gig with his jazz band. John had been loading his car when she and Kara had pulled off. Of course she had avoided him. She couldn’t avoid him now. John was walking toward the same shelter where she would probably be spending the next two or three days if the grouchy guy’s prediction was right.
Sabrina’s heart beat double-time.
She’d get to see him again.
But she didn’t want to see him.
She’d feel awkward, but what was new about that?
But then, he’d feel awkward.
Now, that would be new.
Before she could decide how she would deal with the awkwardness that they
were both bound to feel, the other passengers were getting out of the van.
Sabrina hopped out behind them, turning in the direction she had seen John walking. She took a deep breath in an attempt to calm her nerves.
“Woman, just what did you pack in this big old suitcase. Don’t you know we’ll be back in the city as soon as this thing passes?” the loud, rude man yelled at his wife as he hefted the suitcase out of the rear of the van.
“Pictures, important papers and some personal things—”
“I don’t know why you packed all that,” the man went on as Sabrina turned to catch up to the state trooper.
She reached a hand to his shoulder to get his attention. “I forgot my suitcase in my car. “Can we go back?”
“Sorry, ma’am,” he turned to say, laying a hand on her shoulder when disappointment took over her face. “It’s after midnight and not safe to be out. Perhaps tomorrow, after the storm has passed.”
At that moment Sabrina felt John behind her, his eyes boring into her back. “Shooting for more attention, Pest?” he paused to say before continuing toward the shelter.
No-he-didn’t! Sabrina’s worry about any potential awkwardness dispelled with his words. Her eyes locked onto the firm behind and broad shoulders of the man walking away from her as if he barely knew her, as if he’d never kissed her, as if she had never thrown herself into his arms, pressing her body against his hard chest, savoring the heat and scent of him while her mouth had its way with him. Well, exactly who did Mr. John Lewis think he was! Implying that she was after this cute trooper, who still had a hand on her shoulder. A warm hand that didn’t pull the least bit of yearning or excitement through her the way a simple glance from John created overpowering feelings of longing and a heart-pounding thrill at being near him.
“I’ll see what I can do about your bag tomorrow, ma’am,” the trooper said before heading back to the van.
Life would be so much easier if she could do something as simple as fall for a guy like the trooper. But no, she was destined to find herself panting for Mr. Nose-Up-in-the-Air Lewis.
Yes, girl, that’s what you’ve been doing, but not any more. Gusts of wind pushed her toward the shelter doors the name above them confirming that the shelter was indeed a school.
You’re twenty-one now, not a silly teenager. Act like an adult! She had gone to Mississippi for the purpose of watching John play in a band at one of the casinos. And most importantly, to tell him how she felt about him. Which had pretty much amounted to throwing herself at him, only to be tossed aside.
Gently, but firmly tossed aside.
Sabrina grimaced as she remembered exactly how firmly she’d been tossed aside. Entering the well lit foyer of the school-turned-shelter, she walked down a hall toward the sound of people. In a large gymnasium where of people clustered in small family groups. Sabrina made her way across the crowed floor, finding a small entrance to the stands of the middle school gym that were sparsely occupied. Spotting the elderly man and his son across the gym Sabrina changed directions and walked over toward them.
“Are you two okay? Can I get you anything?”
“What a nice girl,” the old man said barely, making it into the folding lounge chair with the help of his son.
“That’s nice of you,” the son said, “but I’m sure you have things you need to do. The director just warned us that the lights would be turned off soon.”
“I’ve just got me to take care of,” Sabrina told the man, her heart going out to him. “Just tell me, is there anything I can get for you before I settle in?”
“Some water would be nice,” the old man said. “I can’t seem to get that parched feel out of my throat after staying in the hot car all day.”
“Water coming up!” Sabrina dashed away in search of water, wishing that she had remembered her bag.
She’d had a twelve- pack of water and a ton of snacks and fruit. Before she could make it too far, the lights flashed on and off and she heard an announcement. “Second notice. Lights out, ladies and gentlemen, in five minutes. Remember, we’re safe from the storm. Tomorrow will be a new day. We again apologize for the lack of supplies. The Red Cross will be sending in cots and blankets as soon as they can.”
People moved about restlessly, settling down for the night. The tension in the air was tinged with the hope that the woman who had made the announcement was right about them being safe. Sabrina glanced over at the younger man, an apology in her eyes as she wondered if she had enough time to catch the woman who was heading down the hall.
“Here you go,” John said, slapping a bottle of water into her palms. “You better find a place for yourself before the lights go out. You might end up stepping on somebody, maybe even accidentally cuddling up to someone you don’t know.”
Before she could respond, he had moved into the bleachers directly above the old man and his son. Sabrina handed the water to the man’s son and turned to pick her way across the gym floor, making it into the bleachers on the opposite side just as the lights were flashing for the last time. She stared across the gym at John. He’d stretched his long body across one of the bleacher rows using his backpack as a pillow. He wore a hard piercing look as the lights went out for the night.
Tired, achy, and disgusted with herself, Sabrina sat Indian style, her back against the row behind her. This was as comfortable as she was going to get. Her suitcase would have made a wonderful pillow and the blanket she usually kept in the trunk of her car would have added a bit of softness to the hard wooden bleachers, as well as providing a decent layer of protection from whatever might have been left on the surface from the many fans who had sat here.
“Oh well, there are worse things in life,” she sighed, knowing that sleeping on the bleachers in a shelter was better than being stranded on a dark highway in the middle of a hurricane. Digging into her pocket, she pulled out her cell phone once again. When she tried to call her uncle’s house, she received the same recorded message indicating that the call could not go through. Feeling frustrated and helpless, Sabrina flipped the phone shut but kept the power on. She slipped it back into the pocket of her pants in case her uncle or grandmother tried to call.
Leaning away from the light that filtered in from the foyer, Sabrina didn’t expect to sleep. The threat of rain and tropical force winds, even a few hundred miles inland from where the hurricane would make landfall was very real. Despite her worry for her grandmother, and the storm, however, she eventually fell asleep, knowing that even though John had been rude he would make it up to her. He always did. It was because he loved her too. He just didn’t realize it yet.
In the soft light easing into the gym John watched her.
And he noticed.
He noticed her shapely form, though it was a mere outline in the diminished light. He heard a deep sigh from across the gym or maybe he had imagined he had heard it because he could see the way her rounded breast moved with each deep, long breath. Sabrina seemed almost a part of him.
John shook his head!
Rounded breast.
Deep breath.
A part of him?
This was wrong!
All wrong.
He couldn’t think of Sabrina like that, not like a women. She was “the pest.” The little
girl who at one time was the next door neighbor and sometimes babysitter for his sister Ness (short for Vanessa).
But it was too late now. He’d noticed her. She was a woman and she was interested in him. From the way she’d pressed herself against him the night before, he had no doubt about that. This was all so very wrong. He didn’t have time for a woman in his life. His career was just taking off. He had landed a temporary spot in a well-known brass jazz band because their trumpet player got busted for drinking and driving and then held for the many parking and speeding tickets in his name. The player’s tough break had been a good one for John.
He had tried to let Sabrina down without hurting her feelings. She needed to understand that he wasn’t interested in her that way. But now he was coming to understand that he was interested in her that way. But he didn’t want to be, which was why he had been so nasty to her earlier today. That, and the fact that he had been jealous of that trooper, who’d had the nerve to put a hand on her.
His eyes having fully adjusted to the sparse light in the gym, John couldn’t keep them off Sabrina as he puzzled over his new feelings for her. Staring at her, he finally noticed a few other important things. She didn’t have a thing with her. No blanket, no suitcase, no pillow. Her head lay across one long outstretched arm. She seemed to be sleeping but how that was possible he didn’t know. He couldn’t leave her to sleep in such an uncomfortable position all night long just because he was leery of how she was making him feel. Ness would never forgive him, he told himself, using that excuse to justify the decision he had already made.
John scanned the gym floor, trying to gauge the best way to get to her. The floor was literally littered with sleeping bodies exhausted from the long hours spend on the congested highway. So, going across the gym floor was out. He’d have ended up waking half the people down there. His only other option was to stay in the stands and make his way around to the other side. He would have to make the journey without much light because the far end of the gym was pitch black.
His instrument case in hand and a small backpack on his shoulder, he slowly made his way across to the rounded end of the gym, banging his shins a time or two, hoping he was able to avoid encounters of the sticky kind. Coming around to the side of the stands where Sabrina had settled, John kept his eye on her sleeping form as he got closer and closer, refusing to consider that his decision to make her more comfortable was anything more than an act of kindness from one friend to another.
John stopped a few feet away, taking in the sight of her. She had a dancer’s body, which made sense. She was a dancer and at one time had been a gymnast. He remembered her trying to impress him by bragging about her skills. He also remembered her wearing braces and worrying about breaking out if she ate too much chocolate. The memories of a younger Sabrina were all overridden by the sight of her shapely form perfectly accented in a tank top that hugged her breasts and ended just above the waist of the white Capri pants she wore in deference to the hot August heat. Thankfully, the shelter had an efficient air condition system that gave them all a bit a relief. Wondering if the air was too cool for the tank top she wore, he placed a hand on her shoulder. That was a mistake. She was warm. The soft smoothness of her skin was a contradiction to the firm muscle beneath his hand, gained from her active profession as a dance teacher. Despite the warmth he felt, she shivered beneath his touch. Pulling his hand back, John stared at it as if to extinguish the tingling sensation simply touching her had left behind.
Placing his trumpet case next to her, he eased the backpack off his shoulders and found one of his cotton button-down shirts. It was the closest thing he had to a blanket. Sitting on the row behind her, trying not to think about how close his hands were to the rounded breasts that were now up close and personal, he laid his palms under her arms and carefully lifted her into a sitting position, gently easing her upward until her head and arm rested on his upper thigh. Too late he realized what a mistake that was. Shrugging his shoulders, John was suddenly too tired to do anything about it. The gig, Sabrina throwing herself at him, the sudden mandatory evacuation that he hadn’t known about until he was on his way back home, running out of gas and walking a mile to get to this shelter before the storm hit, all the events of the last twenty-four hours had taken their toll.
Using his backpack as a pillow John drifted to sleep, knowing he had to find a way to deal with Sabrina.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Pamela Yaye has a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Education and her love for African-American fiction, prompted her to pursue a career in writing romance. She penned her first novel, Other People’s Business, while teaching English in Seoul, South Korea and wrote The Trouble With Luv’ soon after. Two years and thirty rejection letters later, she signed with super-agent Sha-Shana Crichton of Crichton and Associates. When she’s not working on her latest novel, she’s watching basketball, cooking, or planning her next vacation. Pamela lives in Calgary, Canada with her husband and daughter.

Her Kind of Man

Makayla Stevens has blossomed since high school, but one thing hasn't changed: Kenyon Blake still turns her knees to jelly. Back then, she had thick glasses and braces, and he was a gorgeous football star. Now he's the uncle of one of her students, and he's made it plain he'd like to get to know her outside the classroom. The reality is even hotter than her teenage fantasies, but getting involved with a student's relative could mess with her career, and her peace of mind.

Kenyon's not giving up, not before teaching Makayla a few things—about long, slow kisses, sizzling passion and listening to your heart.…

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

I want readers to know that you are NEVER too old to reinvent yourself! It doesn’t matter if you’re a teenager, a single mom with five kids or retired. It doesn’t matter what anyone has to say. The only person you have to answer to is you. So, if you have a burning desire to write a novel, or go back to school or travel the world (like my heroine, Makayla Stevens), ignore the naysayers and do everything humanly possible to make your dream a reality.

What did you learn while writing this book?

I learned that as long as I keep God first in my life, there is nothing, and I do mean nothing, I can’t overcome. I was seven months pregnant when I wrote this book and when my son, Justice, passed away unexpectedly, I didn’t know how I was going to get out of bed in the morning, let alone write. But, God has renewed my strength and through prayer and counseling, I’ve started to work through my grief. Our friends and family and co-workers have been incredibly supportive and my husband and I are grateful for each and every one of them.

What is your favorite scene from this book?

I can only choose one? That’s like asking a mother who her favorite child is! I love the book club scene. Its women at their best-talking, laughing, joking, dishing dirt about the men in their lives. The other scene I really enjoyed writing was Kenyon and Makayla getting cozy at the drive-in. And once you read it, you’ll see why…

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

Writing takes time. I don’t sit down at my computer and knock out a 300 page manuscript in a week. Or even a month. It’s hours spent reading, researching, plotting and typing. I write every scene long hand, then type it out on the computer. It sounds like a lot of work, but that’s my process and it works for me.

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

I love everything about writing. Creating, revising, editing, fighting with my characters and getting inside their heads. Or rather, trying to get them out of mine. I’m a new writer and I’m still in the honeymoon phase so there’s nothing I hate. A lot of authors complain about doing revisions, but I think it’s another opportunity to make the novel even better. And I’ve been fortunate enough to have a super-great editor who likes my voice and “gets” my sense of humor.
What are three things you wish you'd known before you reached where you are now?

I’m a perfectionist and I like things done my way. Since having my daughter, I’ve learned not to sweat the small stuff and to ask for help when I need it. I can’t be all things to all people and I know now that that’s okay. Every day is a gift, and I want my days to be filled with love and laughter, not stress and anger.

What do you do to make time for yourself?

On the weekends, I wake up early, make myself breakfast and sit at the kitchen table. I usually pray and read my bible, but sometimes I just stare out the window, thinking about how great my life is and how fortunate I am to be loved by so many incredible people.

My city is really (really) cold, so now that Spring is finally here, I want to be outside as much as possible. I go for bike rides, long, afternoon walks, and treat myself to a massage when I’m feeling stressed. At twenty-nine, I’m finally learning to be kind to myself and I think it’s important that women make time to pamper themselves.

This month our theme is Resources on the Net. Can you give us five resources you use on the net? When I started writing my first novel, it never occurred to me to check publisher’s websites and when I stumbled upon, light bulbs went off left and right! Read through the guidelines for the line you are targeting and see if your story fits. There are also articles written by editors, authors and others in the business. Very useful and informative site. This site has everything and I do mean everything! It was one of the first writing websites I discovered when I got started. There are tons of articles about writing (how to write dialogue, developing your voice, crafting believable characters) but she also has information about various publishers and agents.

http://www.romanceincolor/: I practically LIVE at this site. This site is by us and for us. Before I got published, I used to read the reviews and make a mental note of what readers liked and disliked. I think that helped me to avoid certain pitfalls and encouraged me to be different in my approach. My goal is to always put a fresh spin on an old story and to keep the reader so engaged, they can’t put my book down. More great articles and writing samples on how to improve your writing. I found it easier to print them off and add them to my writing binder. That way, they’re easily accessible. A lot of the articles are written by authors and as a new writer it was helpful to see what worked/didn’t work for published authors. Use these resources to create your own ‘Writer’s Toolkit’ and learn from others mistakes!

Do you have any advice for the aspiring writer?

Stop surfing the internet, put down the phone and step away from the TV! (joking) The only way to write a novel is to just dive in. When I’m working in my office, I don’t stop to watch Oprah (although I love her) or answer the phone or put on a load of laundry. The only thing that can pull me away from the computer is my daughter. And sometimes my husband!

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

I love to hear from readers! Post your thoughts and comments at Or you can email me at I look forward to hearing from you.

Monday, May 19, 2008

FEATURED AUTHOR: Yolonda Tonette Sanders

Yolonda Tonette Sanders gained national attention after the debut of her first book, Soul Matters (Warner Books; 2005) – a story that reveals the self-destructive outcomes of a life driven by bitterness, revenge and fear. A graduate of Capital University and The Ohio State University, Yolonda worked for the State of Ohio until 2004 when she resigned to focus full-time on her writing ministry.

She enjoys reading, singing, and spending time with her family. She is self-employed as a freelance writer for various print publications, businesses and individuals. Yolonda currently resides in Columbus, OH with her family.

Secrets of a Sinner

Natalie has always done whatever she needed to survive – even if it meant stealing another woman’s husband or trading her favors for money. After a serious relationship leaves her heartbroken, Natalie returns to the Mississippi home she ran from years ago. There she confronts the painful events of her past, finding comfort in the faith of those around her. As old wounds heal and the burden of long-buried secrets is lifted, Natalie realizes that God has led her home to show her that with love, prayer and a willing heart, every sinner can be saved, and every life redeemed.

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

The main thing I want people to take away from Secrets of a Sinner is to remember that those we dislike (even if we dislike with probable cause) are still loved by God.

What did you learn while writing this book?

To be more confident in the gift of writing that God has given me.

What is your favorite scene from this book?

Hmm . . .I'd say the scene when Natalie first opened up to Aneetra about what was going on with her and Troy. This was a major breakthrough for Natalie because she'd always been so superficial and reclusive. I also love that Aneetra shared the part of her past that was relevant to what Natalie was going through.

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

How therapeutic writing can be.

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

I love being able to touch the lives of others through my words. What really amazes me is when those same words minister to my spirit as well. I think the most frustrating aspect of writing for me is me. LOL! I am so meticulous when writing that I literally get on my own nerves at times. Meticulousness is not necessarily a bad thing, but I seem to take it to a whole different level!

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

1. In the publishing world, nothing is ever consistent. Be prepared because things can change quickly.
2. To embrace the fact that not every person I meet will be in my life forever. Sometimes relationships are just for a season.
3. I wish I knew more about the production process of getting a book ready for publication.

What do you do to make time for yourself?

Read, exercise, watch a movie, etc. When I need to relax, I just do it – even if it means turning off my phones and not checking my email.

This month our theme is Resources on the Net. Can you give us five resources you use on the net?


Do you have any advice for the aspiring writer?

Know what motivates you to write, stay passionate about your work despite any roadblocks, and never put forth anything but your best effort.

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

They can visit me on-line at or write to P.O. Box 32329, Columbus, OH, 43232.

Friday, May 16, 2008


Tina Ann Forkner is originally from Oklahoma. She graduated with honors in English from CSU Sacramento before ultimately settling in the wide-open spaces of Wyoming where she now resides with her husband, beautiful daughter, and two amazing step-sons. Tina serves on the Laramie County Library Foundation Board of Directors and enjoys gardening and spending time outdoors with her family. She has held a number of jobs over the years including being an Executive Assistant for a technology company, a pre-school teacher, and even working at a bed and breakfast. Tina now works as a full-time freelance writer and novelist.

Ruby Among Us

Sometimes, the key that unlocks your future lies in someone else’s past… Set in the lush vineyards of present and past Sonoma Valley, Ruby Among Us weaves a story of three generations of women and the memory that binds their hearts together. Journey with Lucy as she searches for a heritage long buried with her mother, Ruby, in this stirring tale of remembrance and redemption.

Ruby Among Us releases in May of 2008 from Waterbrook Press, a division of Random House

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

Ultimately, I just wanted to tell a good story, but I hope readers will go away with a feeling of redemption. In the book, secrets and judgments hold people back from their true heritage, love, faith and family. While I don’t want to sound like a cliché, there is freedom in truth. For my characters, happiness can never be found until they step out of their comfort zones to seek the truth.

What did you learn while writing this book?

Good question. When I write, it is almost always because I have some kind of question to ask. One of the many questions I asked myself when writing Ruby Among Us was why do people keep secrets for so many years when they could just be set free by telling them? For my characters, secrets build and build like a house of cards until one day it seems like too much will be destroyed by telling the truth. By the time the grandmother, Kitty, realizes she could have told her secret decades earlier with difficult, but better, results she is convinced it’s too late to be redeemed to all the people she has hurt.

What is your favorite scene from this book?

One scene I really like is when Lucy, the granddaughter in the novel, is dressed in her Barbie night gown and walks out of her mother Ruby’s room wearing Ruby’s lipstick, high heels and beads. She just wants to look grown up like her mommy. I took this scene from my own life as a mother and I think it really drives home how much of an influence we have on our little girls as mothers, grandmothers, aunts, etc.

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

As a fiction writer, I would tell non-writers that while yes, true events inspire fiction (Ruby Among Us is very much inspired by real life), in the end it really is all fiction. Everything isn’t autobiographical.

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

I most enjoyed the act of writing. This is my first novel, so I was writing it without too much thought of publication or anyone outside of loved ones reading it. Hardly anyone knew I was writing it for a long time, so there was a sense of purity to the process of writing the story. I had no censor inside or out to tell me I was doing it wrong. Maybe first novels all have the earmarks or mistakes of a first novelist, but there is nothing as innocent and pure as writing the first book.

There was no least favorite thing about writing, but if you add the business side (pitching, marketing, PR, networking, etc.) it was hard for me to put myself out there publicly at first.

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

Only three? As far as publishing, I wish I’d known how slow publishing can be. Even after you get contracted, the publishing process takes a long time.

The other two, I will relate to life, which also relates to my writing since it is so relationship driven: Family is everything. And mothers and grandmothers seem much wiser when we are old enough to realize we don’t know everything.

What do you do to make time for yourself?

Gardening helps me to stay focused and sometimes it helps to just take a walk and get connected spiritually. I guess that one could argue that prayer isn’t really taking time for you, but it’s what rejuvenates me and when I’m praying outside I feel more connected to God. I can always tell when I have been remiss in doing this because the world starts to feel really heavy.

This month our theme is Resources on the Net. Can you give us five resources you use on the net?

Yes. I have many favorites, but here are five of them:

Novel Journey

5 Minutes for Mom


Writer Interrupted

So You Wanna Be Published

Do you have any advice for the aspiring writer?

Not to ever lose site of the act of writing. Blogging, conferences, writing loops, etc. etc. are great networking tools, but can take a great deal of time away from writing. Doing too much of it before you are published seems to me a little like putting the horse before the cart. It’s not that you should or shouldn’t do any of that, but work on your craft first. The only way to get better at it is to write as much as possible.

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

I would love to hear from readers. My web site and blog are both at
and my email information is on the site too.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

AUTHOR INTRO: Denise Campbell

A Woman’s Wrath
by Denise Campbell

Published By: Q Boro Books

Four powerful woman all unique baring special talents and from different cultures and backgrounds, has one thing in common, they all suffer from the same affliction; physical sexual violence that left them traumatized. Outraged by the injustices that allow pedophiles and rapists to roam the streets, they found their own form of justice in vigilantism. Leaving ruins of their destruction throughout their path to vengeance and retribution, these women take you on a fantastic thrill ride of emotions.

Best Selling Author Denise Campbell has penned several novels. You can find Denise’s works wherever fine books are sold, in popular bookstores across the nation and abroad including and not limited to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Borders.

Denise's outstanding writing and contributions have been widely acknowledged and earned her recognition as one of the top 100+ most-admired African-American Women in Literature, in Heather Covington's book Literary Divas.

To contact Denise you can send her an email from this site contact her Agent Maxine Thompson of Thompson Literary Agency at or phone her at 323-242-9917 or her Publicist Calvin Grace of CG Media Publications 917-771-7572 or email him at

Denise is currently hard at work on the sequel of A Woman’s Wrath…INFECTED

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Friday I made the decision to no longer promote erotica or any literature with explicit graphic content. This wasn't a decision made lightly or because of one person's opinion. Everytime I featured erotica, I received negative feedback. Which made me realize the readership wasn't ready for this genre.

I have nothing against erotica. I'm not passing judgement on it or its writers. I believe there is a genre for everyone and as writers we are free to write whatever we want.

I had to seriously think about what image I wanted to promote on SORMAG. This is a popular genre and to promote it more would mean taking SORMAG to the adult site level. I wasn't ready for that move.

All I ask is that you respect my decision to promote what I want on my site, just as I respect your decision to write what you want.

Editor Note: It has come to my attention that some feel I'm discriminating against lesbians because in the past I featured erotica. Let me make this clear, this issue isn't about lesbians, man on man stories or even street lit. It's about making SORMAG an adult site or not.

Those who know me, know I believe in promoting everyone and I didn't like the idea of not promoting a genre. However I have to preserve the image of SORMAG and if that means not featuring explicit adult content then that's what I have to do.

Friday, May 09, 2008


As a writer, I always get asked whether I write from personal experience. In ways, I do, and the new series I’m kicking off this summer is a perfect example of that. TRUST ME (May 27th), STOP ME (June 24th) and WATCH ME (July 29th) are based on a fictional victim’s charity in Sacramento called The Last Stand. The three heroines met at a victim’s support group after each one experienced a different kind of violence. They’re determined to heal, to fight back and to help others do the same, which is why they decide to start The Last Stand.

In TRUST ME, Skye Kellerman was attacked in her own bed. She managed to fend off her knife-wielding assailant, but now her would-be rapist is getting out of prison. Early. And Skye knows that Dr. Oliver Burke hasn’t forgotten what her testimony cost him.

In STOP ME, widower Romain Fornier lost his reason for living the day his daughter was kidnapped and murdered. When the killer got off on a technicality, he used a gun to mete out his own justice. Now that he’s out of prison and free to return to his Cajun roots, the last thing he wants to learn is that he might've killed the wrong man. But that’s exactly what Jasmine Stratford of The Last Stand has come all the way from California to tell him.

In WATCH ME, Sheridan Kohl was just a teenager parked at the lake with a boy named Jason when a stranger wearing a ski mask shot them both. Sheridan lived, but Jason died—and the stranger was never caught. Twelve years later, Sheridan has learned a thing or two about investigating crime. She returns to her hometown, intent on achieving answers at last. But someone doesn’t want the truth to come out. Someone who is willing to resort to murder. Again.

While my fictional charity is geared toward violent crime because I write romantic suspense and thought it would be fascinating to see these women tackle some very interesting and difficult cases, the concept of using personal passion to motivate came from my own desire to make a difference to those struggling with diabetes.

Six years ago, when my youngest son was diagnosed with Type 1, I felt hurt and wanted to fight back, too. Desperately. I just didn’t know how. I had five kids at home and some very tight book deadlines. But then I attended a silent auction at the local elementary school and realized that I could do a similar event on my Web site, where I could utilize the traffic I’d already established.

In my first three auctions, I managed to raise a combined total of $250,000, and the 2008 auction looks as if it will at least match that amount. A shopper’s paradise, it will have plenty items to fit every budget from a drumhead signed by a whole slew of famous music artists (Michael Jackson, Ringo Starr, Bruce Springstein, and far too many others to list) to a treasure trove of miscellaneous items donated by aspiring author Lauren Hawkeye. And that’s not all. For those who are aspiring to become a novelist or to advance their writing career, there will be AMAZING opportunities. Many of the most powerful agents and editors in the business have donated evaluations—some with the promise of a 24-hour response (which is unheard of in the publishing industry).

How does it all work? Just like E-Bay, except this auction runs at and only through the month of May (May 1 – May 31st). Visit that URL to register. When the bidding is over, you can pay with Paypal, credit card or personal check/money order. In most instances the donor even picks up the shipping. And the person who places the highest number of bids over all, even if that person doesn’t win a single item, will receive a fabulous prize package including a brand new camcorder (worth over $1,000), Your Name in My Next Book, an autographed copy of TRUST ME, and chocolate (lots of chocolate!).

Check out the auction, and while you’re at my Web site, enter to win a spectacular trip to Port Orchard and Bainbridge Island (sponsored by Allison Brennan, Debbie Macomber, Susan Wiggs and myself), and receive a $10 gift certificate you can use toward your auction purchases.

Here's to making a difference!

Brenda Novak

TRUST ME, 4.5 stars and a TOP PICK from RT Book Review Magazine, On Sale May 27th!
Don't miss my on-line auction for diabetes research beginning May 1st at

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


Through A Glass Darkly
by Anna Taylor

Roxanna Mitchell can’t convince Dr. William McCoy she isn’t a millionaire’s mentally unstable runaway wife. Not when a bedside wedding photo undercuts her claims of abduction and mistaken identity. Not until events force them into an alliance that will lead either to the truth or their deaths.

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Month published: April

ISBN: 1-60154-233-X


Writing under her maiden name, Anna Taylor was born, bred and wed in New York City. An online X-Files fanfic challenge re-ignited her love for writing. A prod from her mother-in-law to write about her own characters resurrected a childhood dream to be an author. Inspired by an 84 year-old shut-in’s love for Harlequin romance and a This American Life segment on Romance Writer’s of America, Anna joined Romance Writers of America in 2004 and prepared to make her childhood dream a reality. Anna holds membership in four of their online chapters. A United Church of Christ clergywoman, she presently serves a Presbyterian church as the Associate Pastor for Pastoral Care and Small Group ministry.

Monday, May 05, 2008


The thirteenth annual Romance Slam Jam was held this past week. April 30 – May 4th.

As always it was wonderful to see all the writers and meet all the readers.
I want to thank the committee, - Deatri King Bey, Dyanne Davis, Barbara Keaton, Ann Clay, Lisa G. Riley and the Chicago RAW Sister Book Club.

These ladies know how to throw a party. I have been in need from some serious fun and they showed me the time of my life.

I have some pictures and hopefully a video to share, so for now I will post a link to a site that has theirs online now and who I wanted to introduce to you as another wonderful place to promote books – URBAN REVIEWS

I had the pleasure of meeting the hosts Radiah and her hubby Charles Hubbert. They have some fantastic pictures. You’ll see a few of me in them. As you will see from the pictures we all had a great time.

Click on the link and scroll down, there is a post for each day and they have some videos of the karoke session, which was too funny.

If you went to slam jam, please share your experiences.

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I'm also a happily married mother of three who's trying to break into the Christian writing field. The writing road can be rocky.

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