Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Secrets and Lies
Rhonda McKnight

Urban Books
December 1, 2009
ISBN-10: 1601629400
ISBN-13: 978-1601629401

Christian Fiction


Reviewer: LaShaunda C. Hoffman

Faith and Jonah were happily married for ten years when Faith began to see a change in her husband. He’d become distant with her and the children. Although most of the signs were there, she was afraid to believe he was having an affair.

Jonah a well-known pediatric cardiologist had a few issues from his childhood come back to haunt his adult life. The pressures from the problems were affecting his relationships with his family and coworkers.

Rhonda McKnight’s debut into the Christian fiction was worth the wait. I haven’t had a book that made me stop and think about my marriage in a long time. Ms. McKnight showed the reader things aren’t always what they seem and you have to look at issues with your eyes wide open instead of partial shut. A marriage can’t work if you’re not communicating properly and it won’t work if you’re keeping secrets from each other.

If this couple had sat down and had a serious conversation they could have handled a lot of things together instead of trying to work them out on their own. This book shows how important it is to have God as the third person in your marriage. Working your problems out together with God as the center is a whole lot easier than doing it by yourself.

Secret and Lies is a good book to start a dialogue on communication in a marriage. I look forward to reading Ms. McKnight’s next book.


Teach Me Tonight
Jacquelin Thomas

Kimani Romance: Hollington Homecoming Series
Kimani Press
ISBN-13: 978-0-373-861-33-0
Published: October 2009

Contemporary Romance

Rating: 4 Stars - EXCELLENT

Reviewer: Rhea Alexis M. Banks

This is a story of missed opportunities that did not fade over time. Tamara Hodges jumped to conclusions and alienated the man she had fallen in love with, her tutor, Micah Ross. Micah developed well beyond his “nerdy” days and became extremely sought after but past rejection and loss has left him scorn and uninterested. That is until business brings forth a reunion that could result in payback.

This is a very good book that takes us on the journey with two people who hid their feelings for far too long, gave up on each other far too prematurely and subsequently ended a promising friendship. Can they find their way back to each other? This was a tremendously enjoyable read so….let’s delve in and see….

Dying for Revenge
Eric Jerome Dickey

Publisher: NAL Trade
Published: October 2009
ISBN: 0451227530

Mainstream Fiction

Rating: 4 Stars - EXCELLENT

Reviewer: Shelia Marie

Dying for Revenge is the third book in Eric Jerome Dickey’s Gideon trilogy. Gideon is the sexy yet elusive hit man that travels from one country to another. In Dying for Revenge, Gideon’s main mission is to remain alive. Instead of hunting, he’s being hunted and it makes for an interesting tale.

If you’ve read the previous two books in the series, Sleeping with Strangers and Waking with Enemies, you know that Gideon is a loner but surprisingly he does have one attachment—back in the States.

The scenes moved quickly and had me eagerly anticipating what would happen next. I didn’t like the second book in the trilogy and almost didn’t pick this one up but because I like the character Gideon, I felt I had to see how things would end. I’m glad I did because it was a satisfying read.

This book was in my opinion much better than the last, it gets four stars. I look forward to reading Eric Jerome Dickey's latest Resurrecting Midnight.


Meet Me in Paris
Simona Taylor

Kimani Romance
Kimani Press
ISBN-13: 978-0373 861293
Published: September 2009

Contemporary Romance

Rating: 3 Stars - VERY GOOD

Reviewed by: Rhea Alexis M. Banks

This is a story of Kendra Forrest and how she “re-invented” herself with a “new Life” full of looking successful and beautiful things. Life as she knew it was blown apart with the entrance of Trey Hammond. Trey purchased a thriving travel agency as part of his growth and financial stability of a tragedy. Soon after his world spins on its axis as Kendra become part of its many aspects of it.

These two are forced to deal with each other while trying to deal with themselves. This story is interesting with its many twist, turns as secrets are revealed, and pasts dealt with. It is engagingly sad and funny but roll into an interesting package.


Teri Woods

Grand Central Publishing
ISBN: 0446581690
Published: August 2009

Mainstream Fiction

Rating: 3 Stars – VERY GOOD

Reviewed by: Tavares S. Carney

Think Before You Act

Having come from a lineage of abuse and poverty, Daisy Mae Fothergill does what she feels necessary to make ends meet. Working as a stripper at a local bar, Daisy Mae finds herself entangled in a web of murders taking place in north Philadelphia. Falling for all the wrong men for all the wrong reasons, Daisy Mae will learn whether or not selling her soul for a little cash is worth risking her life. At times, I empathized with Daisy Mae and at others I thought she was just down right gullible. There were also times I found myself rooting for Daisy Mae, hoping that she would do the right thing and make amends to change her life.

A primary theme in this novel is that sometimes people are pretenders, especially when it means personal gain or saving oneself. This theme was developed in subplots involving supporting characters, Sticks, Nard, Calvin, Simon Shuller and Reggie. Hopefully, readers will close the book realizing that fast money is not necessarily good money or safe money. Any dealing one has with dirty money has the potential to negatively affect them and the people around them, possibly costing them their life or others to lose their lives. Readers will also ponder the effects of the lifelong debate of nature versus nurture by the sharp contrast in the way of life for supporting characters, Daisy Mae’s cousin, Kimmie Sue and her aunt, Tildie.

I recommend this book to readers of urban literature, as well as women and girls who have found themselves at the mercy of street dramatics evolving from drugs and murder. If not already aware, perhaps this novel will enlighten readers to the troubles that come along with fast money and living life in the fast lane.

Surrender the Wind
Rita Gerlach

Abington Press
ISBN 987-1-4267-0072-9
Published: August 2009

Historical Romance

Rating: 4 Stars – EXCELLENT

Reviewed by: Candice Perkins

Rita Gerlach moves into the present with her unique style, electric pacing and concise plotting. Extreme suspense hovers through every twist nook and cranny in the turn of events that unfold. Gerlach has mesmerized her readers as she transports them to the post-revolutionary period between England and the United States.

Often words associated with love are used to describe despair. For instance, the play of dualism on the word "embrace," with the opposite perception of entrapment intended, is repeated: "High in the heavens the moon broke free from the embrace of clouds." And later: "The sea crashed against the hull, lifted the ship and brought it down again into the sea's dark embrace." This is no mere gift of language. This is literary genius. Furthermore it’s proof of the author's astounding mastery of literary craftsmanship.

Rita Gerlach’s minor characters stand out; not just for the roles they play in her plot but for their very human qualities. Literary devices such as assonance, alliteration, metaphors, similes and symbolism abound throughout her magical imagery, from the prologue through each and all scene thereafter.

Seth Braxton has fought in the American Revolution and is heading to the country he just fought against. His sister Caroline was sent there to live with her grandfather in England when her father and brother went to war. She is now a widow with a young son.

Caroline's dear friend, Juleah, has been a great comfort during the time of Caroline's husband's death and the illness of her grandfather. Before their grandfather dies, the three of them are reunited. Seth and Juleah take to each other immediately and he sees the care Juleah has taken with his sister. She in turn sees how kind and loving even an American can be.

Of course what would any story like this be without a villain? He comes in the shape of Seth and Caroline's step brother and Juleah's former intended, Darden. You can feel the villain lurking, waiting, conniving, and ready to pounce with meanness and passion, as he eventually does. But most of all, the historical love story of Juleah and Seth set against the terrible retribution of Darden's unrequited love joins the greatest love stories of all time.


Lady Jasmine
Victoria Christopher Murray

Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
ISBN-13: 9781416589174
Published: June 2009

Christian Fiction

Rating: 4 stars - EXCELLENT

Reviewed by: Candice Perkins

Lady Jasmine is trying to change, but she can't. Lying is just in her. She has plotted and schemed all her life in order to gain positions of wealth and respect.

Jasmine Larson Bush knows she is fortunate that her beloved spouse Reverend Hosea Bush forgave her lies, plots and schemes. A lesser man would have kicked her to the curb for her Jezebel transgressions. She has vowed to God and her husband to always tell the truth and she even tells both her lies in a massive confession. When Hosea’s father is shot in an accident, he is named temporary pastor of the City of Lights Riverside Church though he has doubts and so does several selection board members. Jasmine relishes the glory and respect she and their daughter will receive as the wife and child of the pastor.

However, the one transgression that she hid from her beloved Hosea surfaces when a blackmailer demands money. Jasmine is used to fighting the opposition; she goes after the blackmailer with plans to counter blackmail by threatening double exposure and those board members who loudly objected to her husband as the interim pastor. She wonders if God and Hosea will forgive her this time.

“Lady Jasmine”, is a terrific inspirational contemporary tale that is filled with church intrigue, a light mystery, and humor. Fans will appreciate Lady Jasmine as she falls back into her scheming ways though her cause is not quite as ugly as she has been in the past, her method is as she considers the end justifies the means but also learns once again how merciful the Lord is towards those who stumble.




Chicago Review Press, Inc
ISBN: 978-1-55652-819-4
Published: May 2009


Rating: 4 Stars - Excellent

Reviewed by: Camellia Varnado

What every single woman needs to read in the various stages of their single life is “I didn’t work this hard just to get married”. This book takes account of a diverse successful group of women, so it reaches all women somewhere in their lives.
One theme that’s consistent throughout the book is having high regard for you as a woman with or without a man. “Ultimately women have to save themselves and not define who they are through the eyes of a man.” Beacon gives many real life examples to show all women that you can make it whether you have a man or not. Some women do want a husband and when it happens it will happen. But don’t put your life on hold or think of yourself less because you don’t have one at this moment in life. Keep living your good life.


Up at the College
Michelle Andrea Bowen

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Published: April 2009
ISBN: 0446577758

Rating: 4 Stars - Excellent

Reviewer: Shelia Marie

Up at the College is the second book I’ve read by Michelle Andrea Bowen. Yvonne Copeland’s life turns upside down when her husband of fifteen years leaves her for another woman. Yvonne doesn’t wallow in self-pity but instead goes on a mission to get closer to God.

On her quest to find peace, she meets Curtis Parker. Curtis is dealing with crooked coaches and other staff members that are determined to get him ousted as the head basketball coach. Curtis and Yvonne are in two different places when it comes to their spirituality. Will this hinder their new found friendship that is on the edge of blossoming into a relationship?

Yvonne and Curtis are the main characters but some of the minor characters are begging for the lead. The pace starts off fast, but slows down. Because I was invested in the outcome of the characters lives, it didn’t stop me from wanting to read more. There were a few loose ends that will hopefully be answered in a sequel. Overall Up at the College by Michelle Andrea Bowen is a good read.


Deadly Charm
Claudia Mair Burney

Howard Books
Simon & Schuster, Inc.
ISBN-13: 978-1-4165-5195-9
Published: March 2009


Rating: 4 Stars – Excellent

Reviewer: Candice Perkins

This book began with a great story line leading you into the Drama that is Ms. Amanda Bell’s life. The book first and foremost is a great read. It is very easy to get entangled into the mystery of the characters in the book not only in their current situation but also in the mystery of their past as well. I was surprised at how much I actually laughed as I read and not just a giggle, but truly laughed out loud. Every character had their own story, in some way you could relate it to a family member, church member, or from some time in your own life.

The story also touched on the wonderful miracles of God that touch many of our lives, that many of us like Ms. Amanda Bell don’t believe we deserve or even that it will happen. This story shows how prayer works and how faith can be our only sustaining power. Although many of the characters had been wounded by a past experience which, believe it or not, happened through some form of religion, they still were able to bounce back through God’s strength. I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone as a wonderful Christian novel to read.


Road to Seduction
Ann Christopher

Publisher: Kimani
Published: February 2009
ISBN: 0373861036

Rating: 5 Stars - SUPREME

Reviewer: Shelia Marie

Ann Christopher’s novel A Road to Seduction is a fast paced read. Isabella Stevens will make you look twice at your male best friend. Eric Warner seems oblivious to Isabella but that all changes when they go on a road trip. Isabella loves Eric but doesn’t want to get involved with a playboy.

Isabella and Eric already have the bond of friendship between them, but when their affections turn physical, the car is not the only thing overheating. One question they each have to ask themselves “is it okay to cross the line between friendship to lovers?”

This was not my first Ann Christopher novel and it won’t be my last. I would love to see Road to Seduction as a Lifetime movie.


Body Chemistry
Dara Girard

Publisher: Kimani
Published: January 2009
ISBN: 0373860994

Rating: 4 Stars - Excellent

Reviewer: Shelia Marie

Body Chemistry is the third book in Dara Girard’s Black Stockings Society series. I absolutely love this series. The main character Brenda Everton goes from being a nerd to a sex kitten with the little help from the Black Stockings Society.

Something life changing happens for Brenda that causes her to reevaluate her life. She’s looking for a change and surprisingly to her, Dominic, someone from her past might be the one that adds excitement into her boring life.

The tension between Brenda and Dominic is there because of past misunderstandings. Will Brenda be able to get over the past and give Dominic a chance?

I would suggest reading books one (Power Play) and two (A Gentleman’s Offer) in the series before reading Body Chemistry. Of course after being drawn into this series, I read Dara Girard’s final installment in the series, Around the Clock. Now that all four books are out, don’t just buy Body Chemistry, but them all—you won’t be disappointed

The Birth to Five Book: Confident Childrearing Right from the Start
Brenda Nixon

Published: January 2009
ISBN-10: 0800733193


Rating: 4 Stars - Excellent

Reviewed by LaShaunda C. Hoffman

All parents want to know they’re doing right by their children. If you’re like me you’re reading every book you can get your hand on. This book was perfect for me the third time around. Yes I have two older kids, but for some reason the third one was like starting all over again.

This book showed me I wasn’t the bad mother I thought I was. Sometimes you do have a few issues with your children. This book gives you the extra help you need to keep your children on the right path.

Ms. Nixon uses her own experiences as mother to guide you on the journey of birth to five. She doesn’t beat you over the head with I’m right and you wrong. She just tells you what worked and what didn’t work with rearing her children.

I’ve been receiving Ms. Nixon disciplinary newsletter for a few years and she’s been kind of enough to answer my questions. I like having this book because I don’t have to bug her with my many questions.

This book will make the perfect gift for the new mother or the mother with the toddlers. We all can use a little advice.



Sin No More
Kimberla Lawson Roby

Publisher: Harper Collins
Published: December 2008
ISBN: 0060892528

Mainstream Fiction

Rating: 5 Stars - SUPREME

Reviewer: Shelia Marie

Curtis Black is one unforgettable character. If you’ve read any of the other books in Kimberla Lawson Roby’s series, then Sin No More is a must have for your collection. Black is determined to live right and be faithful to his wife Charlotte. The problem is his other baby mama, Tabitha, wants more than child support—she wants him.

Charlotte is determined to keep Tabitha and her child out of their lives by any means necessary. Black pretends to be oblivious to Tabitha’s plot to get him back into her bed; but Charlotte is not having it. She plots behind Curtis back but things get out of hand.

With several twists and turns, Roby delivers another page-turner. I’m a huge fan of Roby’s and this book doesn’t disappoint. Whenever you think there’s nothing more that Curtis can do, you’re wrong. Drama is in Curtis’ DNA and Sin No More is drama to the third power. I also recommend reading The Best of Everything where we’re introduced to a grown up Alicia, Curtis’ daughter.


Rhythms of Grace
Marilynn Griffith

Published: September 2008
ISBN-10: 0800732782
ISBN-13: 978-0800732783

Christian Fiction

Rating: 4 Stars - Excellent

Reviewer: LaShaunda C. Hoffman

Diana only wanted to dance; she found the perfect school t help her get the dancing spirit out of her. The night of her first recital she because a victim of a brutal assault. Fast forward years later Diana, now goes by the name Grace Okoye. She is asked by her former dance teacher to come teach at the school she left behind. Grace is leery but decides to step past her fear and go help her teacher. Grace is reunited with an old friend, Zeely who is in search of Mr. Right.

The school has a few problems, but Grace doesn’t let them deter her from teaching. She’s partnered with Bryan a man with a few issues of his own. They have instant chemistry; however, Grace has to decide if she can be with a man who doesn’t share her faith.

Marilynn Griffith books always give you food for thought, this book is no exception. This is her most powerful book because the characters shared their pain and the reader cries right along with them. There are a few questions left unanswered which means a sequel is on the horizon.

It's Not About Me
Second Glances Series #1
Michelle Sutton

Sheaf House Publishers
September 1, 2008

ISBN-10: 0979748518
ISBN-13: 978-0979748516

Rating: 4 Stars - Excellent

Reviewed by LaShaunda C. Hoffman

Does going to church make you a Christian?

Annie the main character in Michelle Sutton’s debut novel has to ask herself this question. She’s not sure if she’s a real Christian or faking it.

Annie is the typical teenager trying to live an average life. She’s in love with the best looking guy and she wonders what he sees in her.

When Annie is brutally attacked, she begins to question her faith, her love for her boyfriend and her new friendship with his brother.

Ms. Sutton tackles the everyday pressures of a teenager, temptation, peer pressure, friendship and love. She makes the reader experience these issues right along with these characters.

My only question for Ms. Sutton, where were your books when I was a teen? I look forward to book 2 in this series. These are the type of books you want to pick up for the young adult or teen in your life.


Up Pops the Devil
Angela Benson

Avon A
July 29, 2008
ISBN-10: 0061468509
ISBN-13: 978-0061468506

Christian Fiction

Rating: 4 Stars - Excellent

Reviewer: LaShaunda C. Hoffman

Starting over is always hard, throw in being a new Christian with a girlfriend who wants your old life style and a sister who believes you’re faking it all. Preacher the main character in this story is having a hard time keeping it all together.

All Preacher, a former drug dealer wants to do is stay on the right path and start a legit business. He clings to his new found faith as he tries to walk down this bumpy road. Unfortunately his plans aren’t working out the way he planned. The Devil is working hard to make sure Preacher doesn’t succeed in his new life. He throws temptation at him in the forms of his sister and girlfriend. When those don’t work, he brings up someone from Preacher’s past who just might destroy his future.

Ms. Benson tells a real story about a man trying to make a change in his life. She shows that becoming a Christian doesn’t mean your life will be easy, sometimes that when your most challenges hit you in the face.


Two Grooms And A Wedding
Adrianne Byrd

Published: March 2008
ISBN-10: 0373860560
ISBN-13: 978-0373860562

Contemporary Romance

Rating: 4 Stars - Excellent

Reviewed by LaShaunda C. Hoffman

Your wedding day is supposed to be the most special day in your life. However when one has two grooms, it can become a nightmare. Isabella Kane thought she had the perfect man for her, Randall Jarrett, at least that what her parents thought. Always wanting to please her parents, she agreed to marry a man she didn’t love.

Derrick Knight, always the play boy never dreamed the woman standing behind him in a bookstore would be the woman to rock his world.
They both felt the attraction but tried to ignore it until their path crossed again and they gave into the passion. They began to feel emotions they didn’t believe were possible.

Isabella realizes she’s making a mistake and tries to break off her engagement but her father refuses to let her, he sees this marriage as a way to see his dreams of someone in his family in the white house.

The day of the wedding two grooms show up and she has to decide who she’ll marry. Will it be the man her family wants her to marry because it would be politically right or the man who has her heart?

This book was a refreshing treat. I enjoyed turning the pages quickly as I enjoyed the characters. It reminded me of how much I enjoy reading romances.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

BLOG TOUR: The Hunts

Natasha Usher is a wife, a mother, and a middle grades teacher who lives outside of Atlanta Georgia. When not writing or nurturing young minds, Natasha enjoys reading, watching movies, photography, and cooking. She is a graduate of Mercer University where she majored in Business and earned her initial teaching certification.

At seven years old, after being denied a role in an elementary school play because of a lack of character roles, Natasha decided she wanted to be a writer. She wanted to write plays and stories that had enough roles to keep all children happy. Since then, she has been sharing her stories with family, friends, and anyone who will listen. The Hunts is her second novel for young adults.

When did you begin writing, and who nurtured you as a writer? Do you write for children only? What inspired your decision to write children's books?

Unhappy with the ending of the many of the books I read, I began creating my own endings in elementary school. My efforts were nurtured by my teachers and my family, especially my grandmother. Since I’m a middle grades school teacher and deal with children on a daily basis, I’m always on the look out for a great book for my students. What better way to know what they’re reading than by writing the books myself.

Who are some of your favorite children's authors? How do their works differ from the children's authors of your childhood?

I don’t read a lot of books by “new authors”, but if I do read something, it is usually a Walter Dean Myers novel or something by Sharon Draper. I’m still drawn to the classics, I guess, of my childhood. By classics, I mean books that I was introduced to in school.

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading (and for the second time) Hill Harper’s Letters to a Young Sister. It’s such an amazing novel.

As an educator, what do you feel that we children need to see more in their books? How will you help fill this void?

As an educator, I just want children to read; it doesn’t matter to me what they read. Still, I would like to see more humor and less seriousness in books. To me, books have always served as an escape, and in this world, I think children need all the hideaways they can get. I also believe that there is a great need for more children’s books with African American characters. When I go to the bookstores, it’s always hard for me to find good stories (for my children) that revolve around the lives of African Americans.That’s why in THE HUNTS, I created a funny story around a group of African American siblings.

Briefly tell us about The Hunts and where did you get the idea for this story.

I have a colorful cast of nieces and nephews, eight of them, who keep me in stitches. They inspired the mischievous bunch of Hunts.

What is your targeted age group audience? How are readers and their parents and/or teachers responding?

My targeted age group is 9-12. So far the response to my book has been positive. Parents and teachers are telling me that they are laughing just as much as the children.

What advice would you like to share with aspiring writers?

Write down every idea you have, no matter how crazy or whacky it seems to you or other people. The best stories come from unusual ideas. Don’t be afraid to take a risk. You only fail when you talk yourself out of trying. And of course, good luck!

The Hunts

Victoria, Luther V, Tyler, Tyger, and DougRoss Hunt. Sure these five African American children are named after their parents’ favorite celebrities, but they still have a lot going for them. Despite their young ages, the Hunts are very resourceful. They have managed to live alone ever since their parents abandoned them. Their survival strategy is quite simple - if it is not given to them, they simply take it.

When the Hunts decide life is too boring in their small town of Acon, Georgia, they decide a trip to the big city of Atlanta is just what they need. The fact they have no money for the trip doesn’t faze them at all.

After the Hunts’ attempt to raise money fails, the townspeople, eager for a quiet weekend, take up a trip collection fund for them. When most of the people hand over their credit cards, the Hunts are on their way. Atlanta and the Hunts will never be the same again.

Web Links
– official book site
- myspace site

Monday, December 21, 2009


Gail McFarland is the published author of more than 100 short romantic confessions and stories and seven novels including: SUMMERWIND (BET/Arabesque), WHEN LOVE CALLS (BET/Arabesque), BOUQUET (with Roberta Gayle and Anna Laurence, BET/Arabesque), LADY KILLER (LULU Books), and ALL FOR LOVE (LULU Books).

A dedicated wellness/fitness advocate, Ms. McFarland is currently an active fitness instructor and consultant. She happily admits that DREAM RUNNER (ISBN: 1585713171) is the first of her novels to combine her love of sports and fitness with the passion of romance. DREAM KEEPER, the sequel to this well received novel, is slated for December, 2009. Also in 2009, Ms. McFarland will be returning to her romantic roots with short stories and confessions, in conjunction with Lady Leo Publications.

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Ms. McFarland now makes her home in Atlanta, Georgia.

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

When they turn that last page, I want them to hold the book, smile, sigh, and refuse to ever lend it to anyone. Seriously, I want readers to be completely satisfied with the characters and the story, and willing to believe that love is real and worth the challenges and changes we go through to hold on to it.

Why did you choose to write this book?

These characters kind of snuck up on me. Rissa and Dench were secondary characters in DREAM RUNNER, and they became my friends as I wrote. Their connection, humor, and passion were irresistible, and they were married by the epilogue – but nobody knew any details. So I HAD to write their story.

What did you learn while writing this book?

I learned a lot about the causes and responses to infertility and had to challenge my writing skills by keeping the information relevant in a romantic setting. I also learned a lot about the challenges of writing a sequel. My previous books have all been single titles with unrelated stories, but this time, I had to maintain timelines, relationships, physical characteristics, and environments for a whole cast of characters.

What was your favorite scene/chapter from the book?

I absolutely loved the passion shared by the couples in DREAM KEEPER, and writing the love scenes was a lot of fun, but without giving away the story, there is an emotional breakdown that stands out for me. One of the characters has lost a baby and has to deal with the fact that life goes on in spite of her anger at herself and God. My only regret in writing this scene is that a red velvet cake was sacrificed, but I love the mood, the intensity, the language, and the resolution of this scene.

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

That writing takes more than a decision to sit down and put words on paper. Completing a novel takes skill, commitment, process orientation, and loads of patience. Bringing a book to completion is a lot harder than it looks, but being able to tell a good story and share it with others is so very worth it in the end.

What is the best lesson you have learned from another writer?

To tell a good story, and I think this quote sums it up quite nicely.

“…try to leave out the parts that people skip.” ~ Elmore Leonard

What is the toughest test you've faced as a writer?

My dad has had some serious health challenges lately, and they have seriously impacted my time. Writing on a deadline, time has been of the essence, so everything else about the writing/editing/publishing process was compressed. The test has been to work hard and fast, and turn out a book that I could be proud of and that readers would enjoy.

What was the best advice you’d ever gotten about the publishing industry?

That every rejection is not final. A manuscript may be rejected for many different reasons, and sometimes the writer can’t see it at first glance. If you believe in the story, reevaluate the manuscript, fix the problems, and resubmit it somewhere else. I read that in a Writers Digest article back in 1994 and never forgot it. The worst? Honestly, I don’t have a ready answer for this one.

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

DO pay attention to deadlines, contracts, and other commitments.

DON’T think that every word you write is golden. Books and stories can benefit significantly from editing.

I borrowed this question from Author Carleene Brice, What is your author fantasy?

This is a really good question. When I write, my characters are very active in my head. I would love to see what they do in movies. So my fantasy is to see my books as feature films.

What is something readers would be surprised you do?

I work in Wellness/Fitness so most people are not surprised that I teach aerobics, but they might be a little surprised to learn that I have recently tried pole dancing, and I liked it!

Five questions about books:

One book that you have read more than once.

A TALE OF TWO CITIES (Charles Dickens). This was a school assignment, and I am so glad I did my homework. I know that it is a political commentary, but the idea of a man who would die so that the woman he loves might live – and with another man – thrills me to this day.

One book you would want on a desert island.

The latest entry in the J.D. Robb “IN DEATH” (Nora Roberts) series. Eve Dallas is smart and just hard enough to make you nod your head, and her husband, Roarke makes you wish you could say one word about him: Mine.

One book that made you laugh.

FRANKLY, MY DEAR (Sandra Hill). This is the funniest romance in the western world! I recommend it highly.

One book that made you cry.

NIGHT (Elie Wiesel). The eloquence and simplicity of this true story is painful and haunts my heart.

One book you wish you'd written.

THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD (Zora Neale Hurston). I can still close my eyes and see Janie walking down that road in overalls…

Oh, oh, and can I have just one more? It would have to be THE HAND I FAN WITH (Tina McElroy Ansa). Herman… need I say more?

Our theme for this month is Children Books. Can you recommend three books for children?

TAR BEACH (Faith Ringgold) offers beautiful illustrations and a lovely stretch of imagination.

STONE SOUP (Kit Schorsch) an old fairytale wonderfully told.

MRS. PIGGLE WIGGLE (Betty MacDonald) I loved this series when I was a child, and still enjoy reading them to others.

Oprah has--as one of her magazine columns--a section where she talks about what she knows for sure. What do you know for sure?

I know for sure that God don’t make junk, and good health is worth the effort it takes to maintain it.

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

I would love to!

Readers met Bianca Coltrane in DREAM RUNNER, and she was a very bad girl. But even bad girls can find redemption and have dreams. Now, romance with the wrong man has taught her what she wants in the right one.

Haru “Harry”Jordan has always been the best at everything he’s tried – except finding the right woman.

Stepping out on faith is a task neither of them ever saw coming, but if Bianca is ever to be free of the entanglements of her past, faith and Harry may be all she has.

Offering her the honesty and sensual integrity no other man has ever deemed her worthy of, Harry steps to the side of a woman in charge of herself. Accepting a man who has never stepped out of perfection to be only a man is not an easy task for an imperfect woman like Bianca Coltrane, but it is the only right thing for a woman with wayward dreams to do.

Readers can look for WAYWARD DREAMS in June, 2010.

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

Mailing Address: P.O.Box 56782 / Atlanta, GA 30343





It took a lot for Rissa and Dench Traylor to get friends and family on the right track, but they did and found each other in the process. Now, what about their own marriage? Will a baby ever make three? A series of miscarriages forces them to make some hard decisions, decisions that place a strain on their marriage. As the tension grows, Rissa must remember that Dench married her because he loved her, not because he loved the prospect of kids.

Leave a question for a chance to win a copy of DREAM KEEPER.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Tia Stewart is a professional writer. She is a proud native of Petersburg, Virginia, and her adopted hometowns, Detroit, Michigan and Norfolk, Virginia. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Mocha Moms, the Science Museum of Virginia, North Carolina Aquariums, and The Dooley Society, Maymont Foundation in Richmond, Virginia.

She was born November 3, 1963 in Petersburg, Virginia. Always an advocate for private Christian and home- school instruction, Ms Stewart is a parochial school graduate of Detroit Benedictine High School.

Ms. Stewart spent a year as an Americorps Vista volunteer, at the Greater Capital Area Literacy Coalition in Lansing, Michigan, where her projects were family, migrant, and healthcare literacy under former first lady, Barbara Busch’s campaign for literacy.

Ms Stewart is the mother of four lovely children, Ariana, Austin, Alexander, and Armand, all who reside in Chesterfield County, Virginia.

Ms. Stewart is a Registered Nurse, and also a very proud alumnus of Norfolk State University, a historically black college, in Norfolk, Virginia, where she was inducted into Alpha Kappa Mu Honor Society. She also attended Northwestern University, in Evanston, Illinois as a biomedical engineering major in the eighties. Ms. Stewart attended University of Michigan-Dearborn as a biology major. She holds a second baccalaureate degree from Excelsior University. She also attended the College of Human Medicine at Michigan State University for one year before becoming a full-time mommy. All of these educational endeavors are a source for her writings.

She loves, hanging out with family, reading, and watching movies. And eating “ real homemade Southern food”, at the Croaker Spot restaurant in the historic Jackson Ward section of downtown Richmond, Virginia in her spare time.

On any given week day, you can find her at a bookstore, Starbucks, a museum, visiting a rose garden, the zoo or at the Virginia Beach oceanfront. Or just home relaxing.

On any given Sunday, you will usually find her worshipping at St Paul’s Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia. Where, internationally renown, Pastor Dr. Lance Watson, a fellow Michigander, and a fellow avid Detroit Lions football and Detroit Pistons basketball fan is preaching.

She is available for speaking engagements, spoken word/poetry readings, and new book release events. She is available for speaking engagements, spoken word/poetry readings, and new book release events. She is available to speak to your group on a variety of African-American issues, Christian women’s issues, mind/body health connections, Christian family, Christian parenting and general wellness topics.

Colors of a Man: Tribute to African-American Men is a collection of new millennium “call to action” poetry selections featuring historical leaders such as President Barack Obama. From regular Joes to CEO’s, African-American men are compared to the great masterpiece paintings.

"The relationship with our men should mirror that between young lovers. Eagerly awaiting the arrival of their beloved mate, melting under the tender touch, finally succumbing to the moment after hearing sweet serenades of love, longing, and anticipation.

The beginning starts with a simple caress, a calming chord that cherishes their contribution to their Community. Family community. Work Community. Church Community. Everyday Community. Shoulder to shoulder, the young couple embrace,

Planning for the new life that will blossom out of their love.

They will shoulder the responsibility for their offspring together.

At the climax, we yell, scream, and celebrate in quiet solitude about these special men in our life."

The poem above is entitled "Black Night."

All of the poems are my own intimate fictionalized reflections about the men in my life and our world community. Says noted new author, Tia Stewart.

Listen to Tia read her POETRY

Leave a comment or question for Tia for a chance to win a copy of Colors of Man.

Thursday, December 17, 2009



Welcome to our OPEN HOUSE (9am - 5pm).

Thank you so much for stopping by today. It is a cold day outside, but I’ve turned up the heat.

Our chocolate bar includes a pitcher of cocoa, tea and coffee with lots of marshmallows and whip cream. If you need a cherry there’s a few of them too.

I’ve decided to serve my favorite Christmas cakes on the dessert bar, Red Velvet with Cream cheese frosting, Split lemon cake and my specialty Turtle cake with extra Carmel.

I know it’s early in the morning so I have a breakfast bar with a few bagels, glazed donuts and Christmas cookies if cakes are too much for you.

I’m looking forward to mingling with you all and I have a few questions each hour to break up the quietness, so pick one or all three and share your Christmas spirit.

Mingle with the other guests who drop by. Tell us how your holiday plans are going.

Listen to some music with us.

Type in Christmas Song – Select Brian McKnight

Now you’re listening to the music at our open house - Enjoy

Authors feel free to tell us about your current books. We all know books make great gifts, so tell us what we're missing.

Come on in and have some fun.

SORMAG’s Editor/Hostess

P.S. I have doorprizes every hour. You have to leave a comment to win.

4:00 pm questions:

Do you open presents on Christmas eve or Christmas day?

Favorite thing to eat on Christmas?

Worst Christmas gift ever?


First Guest Winner - Handmade Purse by Victoria Wise (SORMAG member)

Gwyneth Bolton

10:00 Winner - The MPire: Death Cometh by TL James


11:00 Winner - SORMAG Goodybag

JC Martin

12:00 Winner - The MPire: Death Cometh by TL James


Wednesday, December 16, 2009


You are invited to SORMAG’s Annual Open House

December 17th

All day here on the blog

Please stop by and share some cyber cheer with us.

There will be prizes given away each hour from 9-5 pm.

If you would like to donate a prize send your info to

Look forward to seeing you all on the net.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


David L. is the President and CEO of Total Package Publications, an independently-run publishing company with major distribution that includes Baker & Taylor, Walden Books, Amazon, and most recently, Ingram. His first novel, Over Your Dead Body has been received with critical acclaim and multiple awards and has been optioned for a movie deal with a Los Angeles-based independent film company. Over Your Dead Body accurately details the unfortunate occurrences of separation, followed by divorce and forces every married couple to “look in the mirror” and ask themselves the question: “Is My Marriage In Trouble?” It is by no means to glorify separation and divorce, instead, to highlight a cautionary tale of what could happen if one allows their relationship to get to the point where there is no “turning back.” David L.’s second release, Chalk Outline Confessions has also been receiving numerous nominations for its ability to capture the realism and graphic display of the suspense and thriller African-American genre. His most recent release, My Life Is A Movie is an engaging, coming of age story about a teenage female going through the trials and tribulations of growing up in the late 80’s.

David L. has expanded his literary services recently and has begun working with enthusiastic authors seeking a publishing outlet to showcase their craft and share in his passion for writing. In addition to his novels, David L. has also published various articles and has written as a guest columnist for various periodicals ranging from race relations in the U.S., self publishing do’s and don’ts, to working with troubled youth in the community. David L. holds a Bachelors Degree in Communications and Human Relations as well as a Masters Degree in Social Work with a concentration in Clinical Administration. David L.’s area of expertise includes couples therapy, family crisis intervention, and marriage counseling.

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

I would like all of my readers to understand that every action will almost always inevitably cause a reaction of some kind. Consequently, everyone has to answer to something that they have done either recently or sometime in their immediate past. My characters, although fictional are based on real life individuals from both my earlier years as well as young adult life. Additionally, sometimes things happen in life that we cannot control. We as individuals instead of concerning ourselves with what we cannot control should master those things that we can control. With the right amount of planning and self control, many of us can and will make better judgment decisions that dictate our course in life. The overall theme that I continue to stress in my novel, My Life Is A Movie can be summed up as: peer pressure and karma is a b***h no matter who you are!

Why did you choose to write this book?

First and foremost, I would like my readers (regardless of age) to understand the enjoyment of nostalgia. My book was written during the timeframe of 1988 – an era of simpler, yet complex times nonetheless. Where now we have cell phones, back then we had ten cent pay phones on every corner. Where now most of our youth stay inside and take up much of their valuable time with X-Box and Play station, back then kids were outside playing tag, wetting cars up with fire hydrants, and girls stayed jumping rope in front of their buildings. Secondly, I would like my young readers to know their past as much of their current hairstyles and clothing accessories are clones of yesteryear. To all my thirty-something and up readers, I challenge you to not lecture, but instead remind those same youth that you can relate to their needs, wants, and aspirations because that was you not too long ago. Thirdly, and most importantly, I would like everyone to enjoy a coming-of-age story reminiscent of the classic, Cooley High movie from the 70’s era in which I take you on a time travel trip to a place in Brooklyn, New York where I once resided and lived my formative years doing all of the aforementioned rites of passage.

What did you learn while writing this book?

I learned (or more accurately was reminded) that no matter what life has dished out for you, change can be implemented as long as you have breath in your body. Many of the characters in my novel faced insurmountable odds as they dealt with the obstacles that often plague our teenage youth: dating, family drama, negative peer pressure, drug experimentation, gang involvement, etc. My education on the previously-mentioned areas of concern reminded me that no matter how much things change, they also remain the same. My goal is for all of my readers (especially all of you young readers out there) to keep in mind that you will inevitably travel down various roads in your life. Choose wisely as some of those roads will include road blocks and detours. Other roads will be bumpier and can even lead you into oncoming traffic!

What was your favorite scene/chapter from the book?

Without giving too much away, 3 of my favorite scenes in my novel (too many to limit it to just one!) are (in no particular order): 1st scene - during a dice game in which Donovan gets into a physical altercation with another classmate. I enjoyed writing this because it showed just how quickly in life good friends can quickly become hated adversaries. Back in the late 80’s, there probably wasn’t as much gun violence. Instead boys would be boys and “duke” it out. Whoever lost the fight lived to see another day! 2nd scene – Kayla meets her potential love interest at a nearby club. This was an especially memorable part of the book for me because I included many of the hit records that were out during that time in my formative years: Eric B. & Rakim – Eric B. Is President; Rob Base & EZ Rock / It Takes Two; and Big Daddy Kane – Ain’t No Half Steppin’. 3rd scene – hospital scene with Donovan and his “little friend.” I can’t give too much away, but trust – even some of you self-proclaimed “I keep it real” hard cats will possibly drop a tear over what happens!

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

For all of you non-writers out there that either always wanted to write a book or think the writing business is as simple as picking up a pen and paper: this is not an overnight hobby or spur-of-the-moment idea! I first realized I wanted to write and had the GOD-given talent to do so way back in grade school. While everyone was playing Atari and trying to get a paper route, I was making and selling comic books to the neighborhood kids. Not just writing them. I was coming up with the storyline, cover design, character outline – everything! I was about eleven or twelve. That eventually evolved into other writing projects such as the school newspaper. I would write about current and controversial topics that plagued my community on an ongoing basis. I appreciated the reaction of my peers and the positive feedback, so I kept writing. Eventually, my articles turned into full-scale stories. In conclusion - I take my craft seriously!

What is the best lesson you have learned from another writer?

I continue to take bits and pieces of information from writers that I've had the fortune of meeting throughout the years. I continue to be amazed over how similar the publishing industry is compared to the music industry. In the murky world of publishing, distribution and niche marketing is key. No matter how well you’ve written a body of work, no one will ever know about you unless it is distributed and promoted correctly. Secondly, you need to establish a core fan base. Readers can sometimes be very fickle and possibly forget about you when that next “hot” author comes out. My goal from the very beginning was, and still is to stay humble and appreciative of those that supported my vision from day one. A special “shout-out” to those that I am referring to right now…you know who you are!

What is the toughest test you've faced as a writer?

My toughest test faced as a writer is to continue to write great bodies of work and not allow complacency to become a barrier to my overall goals of taking over the literary world! There may be times that the politics and shadiness of the business may cause me to become eager to retire prematurely or focus primarily on my other authors, however, I would be doing my readers that have supported my vision throughout the years a disservice. In other words, I'm focused on putting out a novel annually. Not because I have to, but because it is one of my self-imposed decisions in order to remain relevant to my core fan base. So far, I am 3-0 with another novel coming up sooner than you think!

What was the best advice you’d ever gotten about the publishing industry? The worst?

Unfortunately, everything I’ve learned about the publishing business (both good and bad), I had to learn the hard way. That means taking my “bumps” and “bruises” without the benefit of someone putting me under their “wing.” Fortunately, that allowed my growth process as both a writer and eventually a publishing force to adapt and solidify my ongoing knowledge of the business. Because of this, I’ve taken on a very active role in other author’s careers as far as coordinating author workshops in the community, offering free tutorials just by visiting my author blogs on my website and replying to random email inquiries for those trying to get into this business of writing.

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

Do: My advice for up and coming authors is to invest in yourself. You are your own best salesperson. More importantly, begin promoting your work well before its release date. Create a buzz. Create demand and impatience. You can’t have a fan following without it. Always strive to be as humble as possible and treat every potential book purchaser the same. A bad reputation for being standoffish and apathetic to your audience can and will be your downfall. During book signings, smile and personally greet everyone whether they purchase your book or not. The ones who do not purchase your books today may not be financially able at that moment; however, a smile will leave a lasting impression. Last but definitely not least, create your own “lane.” This means be as original as possible and develop a style you can call your own. By doing so, you can almost guarantee more leverage in obtaining radio and print publicity and a following that will keep your name alive for many, many years to come!

Don’t: Avoid the people in your life that begin their sentences with words like: “can’t,” “won’t,” and “never.” If I had listened to those same individuals, I wouldn’t have any books out right now. You can be either your best adversary or your own worst enemy. Develop a strategic plan and keep your focus. No one is going to do it for you.

What is your author fantasy?

One word: Oprah! I know undoubtedly that with her impact and my writing prowess, there is no way I can’t sell six digit numbers.

What is something readers would be surprised you do?

When I’m not writing, I am looking for every opportunity to brand myself and take my writing skills to the next level. Activities that I’m constantly involved in include public speaking in the areas of race relations, self-publishing, and effective marketing and my personal passion – working with at-risk foster care youth in the community. I’m often asked what the last book I’ve read was and my answer is always the same: “the time it takes me to read someone else’s book, I could be hard at work writing my next one!”

One book that you have read more than once:

Message To The Black Man by Elijah Muhammad. One word: classic!

One book you would want on a desert island:

4 way tie: Over Your Dead Body, Chalk Outline Confessions, My Life Is A Movie – and coming soon: Represent – all by me!

One book that made you laugh:

Any of my books! I enjoy incorporating well-timed humor in all of my novels…and will continue to do so as long as there is a logical place for it somewhere in the book.

One book that made you cry:

No book has ever made me cry. More importantly – I would never admit it!

One book you wish you’d written:

Tie: the sequel to my first and second novels: Over Your Dead Body & Chalk Outline Confessions…the fans have spoken so don’t be surprised and be careful for what you ask for because you may just get it!

3 books for children:

I’m basing this on the assumption that the terminology “children” refer to those youth probably under the age of at least twelve. In that case, I recommend any book that offers both invaluable insight about who they are as a person and at the same time, teach them about knowledge of self. Although I am unable to offer and specific examples, the one book that comes to mind for me is Lord Of The Flies, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, and Black Boy by Richard Wright.

What do I know for sure?

I know for sure that as long as I stay focused in my writing and persevere towards my master plan of literary domination, only positive outcomes can be achieved. I also know that a well crafted novel can only remain in the shadows for a pre-determined amount of time. In other words, get ready for big things to come your way in the very near future!

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

The next and long-awaited book by David L. will be titled: REPRESENT. The overall concept of this book is to show my readers what happens when family gets in the way of better judgment. Trenton “Innocent” Barnes receives life for his role in the numerous executions of rival drug lords, but he’s determined to not let that stop him from monopolizing the game. Enter youngest sibling Prentice who has just been given sole responsibility of not only taking over the “family business,” but convincing his newly-acquired troops AND his competition that he is up to the challenge. A word of caution: this is not your typical “hood book” that glorifies street life and random, senseless killings and the ending will leave you salivating for more!

How can readers get in contact with you?


Snail mail: C/O Total Package Publications P.O. Box 3237, Mount Vernon, NY 10553

My Life Is A Movie

Kayla Brown is living the classic struggle for acceptance and respect at the crossroads of her life: the upcoming senior spring dance, graduation, and a new love in her life that everyone seems to dislike. Her circle of friends include Tamika, clearly her opposite in every conceivable way, and Donovan, Tilden High School's star athlete as well as Tamika's boyfriend. Kayla's journey as she encounters dating, family drama, and tragedy clearly demonstrate how choices dramatically impact one's immediate future and the lives of those around them. She also believes the world revolves around her and very much like a critically-acclaimed movie, everyone should be paying attention to her every move! The overall theme of the book strategically shifts from playful to cautionary with each passing page. As in real life, Kayla, Tamika, and Donovan are engrossed in drama, danger, and at times, misfortune. Decisions are ultimately made, and as result, repercussions are inevitable. More importantly, see how each central character deals with their individual misfortune and the unexpected in their own unique way.

Pick up your copy TODAY or leave a question for David for a chance to win a copy.

Friday, December 11, 2009

DEBUT AUTHOR: Shawneda Marks

Shawneda's love of writing began as a teen when she published her first poems in the Library of Congress. Today, Shawneda has penned three books, including Love Is..., All I Ever Wanted, and It's In My Blood. She is an activist author and speaker, using her talents to raise awareness of important topics, such as women and girls issues and the environment. Shawneda lives in Snelville, GA with her husband and baby girl.

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

I'd like readers to take a way the desire to do something to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS, to be tested and the ability to do something with their new found awareness about this illness. Not only is knowledge power but knowing is beautiful.

Why did you choose to write this book?

I don't think I chose this book this book chose me. It sounds corny but its true. The main character stuck around from my first novel and made it known she had a story to be told. With the death of a friend from the complications of AIDS and African American women being the highest demographic of new HIV positive patients...I couldn't not write the book.

What did you learn while writing this book?

I learned the importance of being available to be someone else's advocate. I learned that being an intercessor sometimes requires trusting God to know the details without everyone else knowing them. I learned I have a bigger heart now than before for misunderstood and ostracized individuals.

What was your favorite scene/chapter from the book?

My favorite scene from the book is when John's prayer is answered and he finds one of the root causes to the issues between his wife and daughter, it's juicy.

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

We're artists and we're sensitive about our art.

What is the best lesson you have learned from another writer?

Kendra Norman Bellamy and Stephanie Perry Moore both said write what's in your heart. Stephanie Perry Moore helped me be free from the cookie cutter syndrome...every trend and rule isn't for everyone. I have to write the stories God gave me the way my life allows not based on the opinions, expertise or habits of others.

What is the toughest test you've faced as a writer?

The toughest test I've faced as a writer is stepping out on faith and releasing a book in an openly controversial technology because of my beliefs and convictions regarding ministry and being green.

What was the best advice you’d ever gotten about the publishing industry?

Best advice I've ever received about the publishing industry is to learn all I can about it from the inside out.

The worst?

I was told to follow and execute exactly as laid out the "formula" to have a bestseller. Upon further investigation I found out you have to write the best book you can write, give it all you have to offer at the time and trust God. There. Is. No. Formula.

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

Do: Write your first draft with as little editing as possible to get the story out of your mind.

Don't: Forget to follow your own voice. "You are a voice in this world and you deserve to be heard" (borrowed from A Different World)

What is something readers would be surprised you do?

I sing Old Yellow Car by Dan Seals when I drive by clunker cars and salvage yards.

Five questions about books:

One book that you have read more than once.

Soul Journey by Jacquelin Thomas

One book you would want on a desert island.

The Amplified Bible

One book that made you laugh.

Make Me Whole by Roishina Henderson

One book that made you cry.

The LoveChild by Ashea Goldson

One book you wish you'd written.

Financial Secrets My Dad Taught Me (I have too many questions left unanswered and now he's gone)

Our theme for this month is Children Books. Can you recommend three books for children?

Where the Red Fern Grows classic fiction , Willie Willing Heart and the Ten Commandments by Caterri Leaks, and Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein a classic poetry book

Oprah has--as one of her magazine columns--a section where she talks about what she knows for sure. What do you know for sure?

I know for sure that God is real, He lives and He loves not just me but everyone. I know for sure if just one person is tested, does something to raise HIV/AIDS awareness and help others this book will be worth all the blood, sweat and tears writing and publishing it required.

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

Diamond Butterfly: Share Heal Sparkle Shine Fly, a devotional available June 2010

Emotional trauma at any age is devastating at a young age it is brutal. Sometimes we need a safe place to share what we're going through. Being open about the pain, hurt, anger and other myriad of feelings we have after being grossly neglected, hurt, abused, molested, and betrayed is an important part of being able to heal.

I pray over time you encounter here and in every area of your life what is needed for God to wipe away the pain until you sparkle and shine. Let the Lord lift every burden and free you from your pain. God protected you against things that have taken many others out. He can give you what you need to mount up on wings like an eagle and let the world see the beauty of your wings when you fly.

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

Find me and all my online hangouts and contact info

Twitter - @shawneda

It's In My Blood

A daughter betrayed.

Rocked to the core by the loss of the last man she loved, Rosalyn isn’t sure how to continue on. Tragic news destroys what she thought would be the happiest moment of her life. Scared and alone she contemplates doing the worst thing possible in her mind, going back home.

A mother twisted by fear.

Naomi has prayed for God to send her daughter home to restore the relationship they once shared. Almost ten years of praying fasting and pleading has her face to face with her greatest desire and worst fear.

A father left in the dark.

The only thing more important to John than his wife and child is his relationship with Christ. Everything else in his life is going in the right direction he hopes that his daughters need to come home will be the start of a new chapter in their lives.

Ask Shawneda a question for a chance to win a copy of It's In My Blood and matching jewelry mark.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Purposely Said – Dr. Linda F. Beed

It’s a Family Affair

Over the weekend I had the pleasure of taking my granddaughter to the premiere of The Princess and the Frog.
I must be honest when I say that I have never been a big fan of animated movies. Honesty compels me to admit that I had reservations regarding how this storyline would be presented. With complete candor I must admit that it was an extremely enjoyable movie.

My perspective of the movie comes from two places. The first being that place of protection regarding what my granddaughter would be exposed to. The fact that the setting was one that many children and parents could identify with put me totally at ease.

My second view comes from that as a writer. From beginning to end the setting, storyline and developed characters leads the viewing audience to an unexpected, but well-received and feasible end to a fairytale.

Why am I bringing up this movie? I brought it up because of the family and moral value in it. Consistently little Tiana is taught the value of hard work and believing in her dreams. Other pearls of wisdom come from of the most unexpected places and causes young and old to ponder the depth of expertly dispensed words.

Like most animated movies there are products for the children to place on their ‘must have’ lists. Whether it be books from this movie or others, I encourage you to seek books that align with the values you want your children to embrace. Make reading a family affair. Take the time to read with them and discuss what has been read. Their views may not be what you expect, but when you allow them their thoughts, it shows that you respect them.

Until next time, remember—Purposely Said words can destroy or create a life. Linda!

Dr. Linda Beed is an educator, speaker, children’s minister and award winning author of Business Unusual.

You can find her on the web at: / MySpace / On Assignment Reviews / BWChristianLit

Monday, December 07, 2009


Erin O'Riordan lives in the midwestern United States with her husband. She has been writing compulsively since she could hold a pencil, and professionally since 2006. Her erotic stories, essays, and film reviews have been published in numerous magazines and websites. Though she has written about everything from professional basketball to her favorite literary sex scenes, the intersection of spirituality and sexuality remains one of her favorite themes. Readers can view more of her work at

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

An open mind toward other religions and cultures they may not know very much about. An open mind about the possibility of magic.

Why did you choose to write this book?

The Pagan Spirits series began as a short story, but the characters wanted me to know more about their lives and loves, so now I’m committed to finishing all 12 books in the series.

What did you learn while writing this book?

To write this book, I had to learn a lot about the geography, climate and culture of India. I’m still learning.

What was your favorite scene/chapter from the book?

I love the last chapter, because this book has such a happy ending.

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

People who are not writers, but are readers, should understand that they don’t need any special credentials to review a book. If you read a book and you liked it, tell your friends about it. Sometimes people think, “Nobody cares about MY opinion,” but it isn’t true. I’ve found out about excellent books based on recommendations from people who aren’t professional reviewers.

What is the best lesson you have learned from another writer?

I was inspired, and reassured, by Linda Lael Miller when she said she gets writing ideas from everything she consumes, from TV reruns to country songs!

What is the toughest test you've faced as a writer?

The toughest test is opening that first rejection letter; once I survived that and learned the world wasn’t going to end, nothing else has been as difficult.

What was the best advice you’d ever gotten about the publishing industry? The worst?

The best advice is “persevere.” The worst advice I’ve ever read it probably, when submitting a book query to publishers, to strictly follow each and every publishing house’s individual guidelines. It consumes too much time that could better be spent writing. I learned from Bob Mayer that the most efficient thing to do is develop one standard query for all the publishers.

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

Do read your work out loud to yourself; don’t take rejection personally.

I borrowed this question from Author Carleene Brice, What is your author fantasy?

Seeing one, or more, of my books on the New York Times Best-Seller List.

What is something readers would be surprised you do?

Go to church! But I don’t do it often enough.

Five questions about books:

One book that you have read more than once.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.

One book you would want on a desert island.

The complete poems of Emily Dickinson.
One book that made you laugh.

Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography.

One book that made you cry.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

One book you wish you'd written.

Pretty Birds by Scott Simon, because it made me laugh and cry.

Our theme for this month is Children Books. Can you recommend three books for children?

Big Mama Makes by World by Phyllis Root and Helen Oxenbury
The Adventures of Toby and Doby by Susan Pennington-Hurtubise
Betsy Who Cried Wolf by Gail Carson Levine

Oprah has--as one of her magazine columns--a section where she talks about what she knows for sure. What do you know for sure?

I know the right thing to do is always to treat others as I want to be treated.

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

From St. James’s Day (Pagan Spirits, Book 3) by Erin O’Riordan:

“Where are we going?” Gillian asked as Mike drove toward the Third Ward.
“If I tell you, it won’t be a surprise,” he said. Soon, however, Gillian deduced they were going to the pizza place Mike and Fisher managed.
“According to the sign, it’s closed,” Gillian pointed out.
“You forget I have the key,” he said. When they reached the door, however, it opened without need of the key. The lights were on, and one of the counter staff, a tall high school girl named Amanda, greeted them on the other side of the door.
“Hello, my name is Amanda, and I’ll be your server this evening,” the lanky girl said with a disarming smile. She was dressed in the feminine version of a maitre d’s outfit, with a high white collar, a black bow tie and jacket, and a full-length black skirt. She even had a kitchen towel draped over one arm. She showed them to their table: the romantic window table, already prepared with glowing candles and a chilled bottle of white wine.
“Would you like to see the menu?” Amanda asked Gillian. “Or should I have the chef prepare you the specialty of the evening?”
“I’ll have the specialty,” Gillian said. Amanda nodded at Mike, but didn’t ask him what he would like. She disappeared behind the curtain, and Mike poured the wine into the chilled flutes on the table.
“What did you do?” Gillian asked him.
“I wanted our first date to be special,” he said. “Let’s have a toast to new beginnings.”
She held up her glass, and they toasted. “To new beginnings.”
After they’d finished the first glass of wine, conversation became easy again. They were once again Gillian Deitz and Mike Lubeck, best buddies. She asked him about the Magpies’ latest show and how the demo CD was going. He was in the middle of explaining the lyrics of “LULAS” to her when their meal arrived.
“Organic whole-wheat pizza crust,” Amanda announced, laying the pizza on the table in front of them. “Handmade sauce¾made by our own Mr. Lubeck¾made from fresh, organic Roma tomatoes and homegrown herbs, topped with soy cheese and delectable green peppers.”
Gillian looked down and noticed the green peppers had been arranged in the shape of a heart. She smiled. Mike smiled back.
“You went through a lot of trouble,” she said as Amanda disappeared again.
“I said I wanted our first date to be special.”
“It’s special because it’s with you,” Gillian said. She took two slices of pizza and put them on her plate. After her first bite of the heavenly organic pizza, Gillian added, “Now, I believe you were telling about some song you wrote about me?”

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

Readers can e-mail me at My websites are and


Zen falls in love with biology grad student/modern Pagan Ramesh Sudhra. One thing stands in the way of their happiness: his traditional Indian-American family doesn’t welcome Zen. Between his stern mother’s disapproval, Zen’s one-year vow of celibacy, and her assistant’s romantic troubles with a wild new witch, Zen’s life may never be the same.

Leave a question for Erin for a chance to win a copy of
Midsummer Night.

Friday, December 04, 2009

BOOK INTRO: Secondhand Jesus: Trading Rumors of God for a Firsthand Faith

Taking a Shortcut to God?

In Secondhand Jesus, rising author and musician Glenn Packiam helps Christians exchange rumors of God for a firsthand faith

We live in a culture of experts. Everywhere one turns, there are professionals touting advice on everything from how to repair your car to how to fix your marriage. And, in Christian circles, some have even started to believe that there are “God experts”—people who can pray in just the right way that God hears them or who worship in such a way as to make God listen. We begin to rely on these people as our sole source of information about God, rather than make the effort to encounter Him directly ourselves.

In his new book, Secondhand Jesus: Trading Rumors of God for a Firsthand Faith (David C Cook, June 2009), author and worship pastor of New Life Church Glenn Packiam summons readers upon a passionate quest—a holy pursuit—to truly experience Christ’s power and love for themselves. “God wants us to know Him deeply and personally,” Packiam says. “But there are no shortcuts to God. The Bible tells us that ‘The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.’” (Matthew 7:14, The Message)

God has offered us firsthand knowledge of His love, His grace, and His power. Yet so often, we too easily settle for someone else’s descriptions, the Cliff notes from another’s spiritual journey. We are content for others to do the heavy lifting and then give us the bottom line. And, like any secondhand information, after enough times through the grapevine, the truth about God deteriorates and crumbs of rumor are all that remain.

But when life derails, and things don’t go as we had planned, our thin view of God is challenged. In those critical moments, we can choose to walk away from God, or to let our questions lead us home. When we choose to wrestle with God, to engage Him individually, we—like Jacob and Job and David—will see rumors die and revelation come alive.

Crushing rumors of God that many Christians mistakenly hold, Secondhand Jesus isn’t a five-step formula, but rather a challenge to Christians to own their faith by questioning their preconceived ideas about God. “It’s time to hear the magnificent, Divine Invitation,” says Packiam. “It’s time to take God up on His offer and embrace the mystery and majesty of knowing Him for ourselves.”

Beginning May 15 and continuing throughout the month of July, the “Hear It First, Read It First” contest and promotion for Secondhand Jesus will be sponsored by David C Cook, Integrity Music,, and Gibson/Epiphone Guitars. By visiting, fans and readers will be able to win prizes, as well as download a free music video performance of Glenn Packiam (i.e., “Burning in Me”).

Glenn Packiam is an associate worship pastor at New Life Church and the director of New Life School of Worship in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He was one of the founding worship leaders and songwriters for the Desperation Band. Glenn’s worship songs, like “Your Name,” “Everyone (Praises),” “My Savior Lives,” and “We Lift You Up,” are being sung in churches all over the world. Glenn is also the author of Butterfly in Brazil. He and his wife, Holly, and their two adorable daughters, Sophia and Norah, live in Colorado Springs.

Secondhand Jesus by Glenn Packiam
David C Cook/June 2009/ISBN 978-1-434766-39-7/224 pages/softcover/$14.99

Thursday, December 03, 2009

BOOK INTRO: When the Good News Gets Even Better

Witness the Gospels Through the Eyes of a First-Century Hebrew New Bible study from David C Cook gives readers a fresh new way to experience the Good News

How is it possible to make the Good News of the Gospel better? How can truth be enhanced? Can Jesus Christ be improved upon? In his new Bible study, author Neb Hayden emphatically answers, “Impossible! The Gospel gets even better only when it’s more clearly understood. The Good News gets even better only when we read the Gospels as they were communicated and in the way they were meant to be seen.”

That’s why in his new study, When the Good News Gets Even Better (David C Cook, June 2009), Hayden gives students of the New Testament the opportunity to walk through the Gospel narratives in Hebrew sandals. This unique Bible study allows readers to see these letters just as their original audience did and provides vital insights into the Jewish culture, customs, and perspectives, giving a fresh and thoroughly relevant context to the life of Christ.

“The Gospels are the foundation of our faith because our faith is built on a Person,” explains Hayden. “He was a Jew, living in a Jewish world, and communicating with Jewish people. This study offers readers the chance to walk the dusty roads with Him, to be there as a participant rather than simply as an observer.”

Using a three-month format, When the Good News Gets Even Better combines all four Gospels into one comprehensive and chronological narrative, allowing readers to focus on the overall themes and truths as they occurred. Among many other subjects, Hayden examines the births and childhoods of Jesus and John the Baptist, Jesus’ public ministry, the training of the twelve disciples, and Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension. Features also include days sectioned into key points of Jesus’ ministry, suggestions for when to skim or thoroughly read a selection, and interactive questions for individual study and group discussion.

“The Gospels are just the beginning of God’s continuing pursuit of intimacy with mankind,” says Hayden. “These biographies of Jesus are our stories too. Every move Jesus made and every word He spoke has direct implications for our lives in the twenty-first century. I pray that readers will be permanently transformed as they become first-hand witnesses to the Gospels’ miraculous events and times explored in this guide.”

Neb Hayden is director of International Student Development at The King’s College in New York City. A former quarterback for “Bear Bryant” at Alabama, Neb has been involved his adult life with the fellowship in Washington, D.C., which works behind the scenes to nurture and encourage the leadership in over 180 nations. The group also works behind the scenes of the National Prayer Breakfast. Neb speaks and teaches extensively at seminars, conferences, and retreats. He and his wife, Susan, live in New York City and are the parents of three grown sons and two daughters-in-law.

When the Good News Gets Even Better: Rediscovering the Gospels Through First-Century Jewish Eyes by Neb Hayden

David C Cook/June 2009/ISBN: 978-1-434767-00-4/240 pages/softcover/$16.99

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