Saturday, February 27, 2010

BOOK TRAILER: The Kids at Latimar High

Have you gotten a taste of that eastcoast flavor?—Well, maybe that’s because you haven’t met the teens from the Boogie Down Bronx yet! Meet Lauren, Rosalyn, Kevin, and Trinny and the rest of their friends in the Latimar High series by author, Debbie Copeland."

“A young adult novel set in the Boogie Down—the explosive landscape from which I sprung; rest assured Rosalyn, Lauren, and Kevin are the kind of characters that "keep it moving," while speaking to new schoolers coming up today in a language they understand.” — Deborah Gregory, best-selling author of The Cheetah Girls and CATWALK, on The Kids at Latimar High.

Do you have a book trailer? Send me the link and I'll add to our line up.

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Friday, February 26, 2010

BOOK INTRO: Walking on Broken Glass

Walking on Broken Glass
Christa Allan

Leah Thornton’s life, like her Southern Living home, has great curb appeal. But a paralyzing encounter with a can of frozen apple juice in the supermarket shatters the façade, forcing her to admit that all is not as it appears. When her best friend gets in Leah’s face about her refusal to deal with her life, Leah is forced to make an agonizing decision. Can she sacrifice what she wants to get what she needs? Joy, sadness, and pain converge, testing Leah’s commitment to her marriage, her motherhood, and her faith.

Watch the trailer -

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Thursday, February 25, 2010


Most of our featured authors offer a chance to win a copy of their books. All you have to do is leave a comment and include your name and email. You could be our next lucky winner.


Sherry Kyle

Dreams That Won't Let Go Blog Tour

Diane Pollock

Hearts Blog Tour with Victoria Wells


The Chieftain’s Chair
Rae Lori

L D Gonzalez

In My Sister's House.
The Other Will

Don't bring home a white boy


Colors of a Man
Rekaya Gibson

It's In My Blood
Brooks J. Young

Midsummer Night


Debra Harris-Johnson

All winners have to March 25 to send their mailing address to
If I don’t hear from you I’m assuming you don’t want the prize.

P.S. I can’t give away a book if you don’t leave a comment or post anonymous. Please leave your name and email address so I can contact you.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fifteen Years Blog Tour with Kendra Norman-Bellamy

Fifteen Years Blog Tour

Kendra Norman-Bellamy shares how she came up with ideas for Fifteen Years and also talks about her research for the novel.

About the Book

Josiah Tucker, the son of a substance dependent and neglectful mother, spent most of his childhood years in the custody of the State, living in foster homes throughout Atlanta, Georgia. At the age of fourteen, he was taken from the foster family that he had grown to love, the Smiths, and returned to his negligent birth mother. Enduring the hardships faced while living with his birth mother JT manages to makes something of his life. However, fifteen years after being taken from the Smiths and at the peak of success, he finds himself feeling empty and at his lowest. When he decides to reconnect with the Smiths, JT finds his faith in God renewed and discovers his attraction to his foster sister.


KENDRA NORMAN-BELLAMY is a national best-selling author and the founder of KNB Publications LLC. She is the organizer of Visions in Print, an Atlanta-based national organization for faith-based writers, and The Writer’s Hut, an online fellowship for African American Writers. She is the founder of Cruisin’ For Christ, a groundbreaking at-sea ministry that celebrates writing, gospel music and other God-glorifying arts, and also serves as a motivational speaker.

A native of West Palm Beach, Florida, Kendra currently resides in Stone Mountain, George with her family. For more information, visit

View the blog tour schedule and read an excerpt at

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Writing Coach

How Stacy Hawkins Adams Stays Afloat Amid Media Sea Change

by Maya Payne Smart,

"Typical" days don't exist for writer Stacy Hawkins Adams -- she has too much going on. Her sixth novel comes out this month, and her first nonfiction book is due in March. Then there's her monthly column for, her biweekly parenting column for The Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch, her weekly writing projects for local nonprofits and her numerous volunteer pursuits. And did I mention that she's the mother of two very active children?

While the content of her days varies dramatically, she has a consistent start time daily--4:30 a.m. (Talk about motivation.) This gives her an hour and a half before the kids wake up to tackle her week's goal with the hyper-intense focus of a metro reporter on deadline. Last week, she corresponded with Facebook fans to publicize the launch of her novel. This week, she's using that time slot to get new book proposals to her agent. But no matter what disruptions may emerge during the day, she knows she's pushed her business forward, bit by bit.


The range and volume of material that Adams produces is staggering -- and it's also increasingly common among successful freelance writers. Those who are sailing ahead amid media industry sea changes understand that agility, variety and vigilance are essential.

"It's wise to keep your hands in various things that work well together because of the ebb and flow of book sales and publishing trends," Adams said. "When I left my full-time newspaper job, I had my speaking and freelancing [gigs] solidified. I built the nonprofit marketing piece into it as I went along. Very few authors solely focus on just writing novels or just freelancing."

As Adams notes, diversification doesn't mean pursuing totally unrelated projects. She produces high-quality work quickly by sticking with topics that she knows well and cares about. The social themes, familial issues and spiritual journeys she documents for periodicals also appear in her books. In her latest novel, "Dreams That Won't Let Go," she explores family members' ability to love unconditionally and release one another to live their dreams. Her first nonfiction book, "Who Speaks to Your Heart,"explores how to connect more often and more deeply with God, a challenge her fictional characters often face. Adams has thus positioned herself as a heart and mind specialist of sorts -- and, in doing so, created a very strong brand.

Transparency Rules

While a common thread runs through her patchwork of working relationships, the diversity of her work has ethical implications that she's sensitive to as one who earned an undergraduate degree in journalism and spent 10 years as a staff newspaper reporter before going freelance. For example, she wondered if serving on community boards or helping nonprofits with marketing disqualified her from writing for newspapers. "When I was on staff at the newspaper, the lines were rigid," she said, "and later I found that the rest of the world doesn't work that way."

Her policy is to disclose any relationships or affiliations that might be perceived as conflicts of interest -- and to let her editor make the call about whether the topic is off-limits. "I go to my editor and say, 'I know this person' or 'I serve on this board' or 'I've helped with this endeavor.'" So far, she said, nothing's been deemed off limits.


In addition to her professionalism, Adams' visibility across many platforms -- books, magazines, online, in the community -- also makes her a valuable contributor, because she brings her followers with her wherever she goes. This is a bonus for any media outlet that's struggling to hold onto readers.

In fact, Adams says she spends more time marketing her work to readers than she does writing it. "I thought you write the book, birth the book, hand it over and say, 'Take care of my baby,' " she said. "But the more time I put into trying to explore new marketing ideas and opportunities, the more willing my publisher is to put dollars and support behind the effort."

Michele Misiak, marketing manager for the Revell Division of Baker Publishing Group, says Adams is the rare author who understands how to write--and how to sell. "Stacy is one of the most determined people I know in terms of always rethinking things," Misiak said. "She's never satisfied with great; she pushes herself to be awesome."

Law of Attraction

Her willingness to experiment also means that when her fiction publisher has new promotional ideas, they often test them out on Adams. Blog tours, hair salon signings and elaborate launch fetes, she's tried them all -- with great success. Rather than do a signing at a chain bookstore that draws maybe 10 people, Adams has created elaborate events around her novels' themes and gathered crowds that celebrated much more than the books.

She honored her mentor and a local community group during the launch of "Watercolored Pearls," a novel about women coming into their own. And when "The Someday List" was released, she invited two celebrities, an actress and a recently retired broadcaster, to share their someday lists with attendees. On Saturday she debuted her novel with an hourlong Facebook chat that included free giveaways and music releases--all tied to the latest book's theme of dream fulfillment. Fans bought the book online, emailed Stacy their receipts and created some buzz that will likely fuel future sales.

"The book is all about people who are trying to find themselves and their purpose," Misiak said, "and Stacy used the launch to inspire people to chase their dreams this year."

One would expect no less from an optimist who describes herself as "one who sees a brick wall and instead of giving up, prays about whether to climb it, walk around it or find a way to burrow through it to the blessings on the other side."

Maya Payne Smart is a freelance business journalist who has written hundreds of articles and how-to guides for newspapers, magazines and websites including Black Enterprise, and Heart & Soul. She is also the editor of, a site that offers insights and inspiration for freelance writers. Sign up for our biweekly newsletter at to learn how to create wealth and enjoy the writing life.

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Monday, February 22, 2010


Born and raised in Louisiana , Robin Caroll is a Southern through and through. Her passion has always been to tell stories to entertain others. Robin’s books have placed/finaled in such contests as Bookseller’s Best, Book of the Year, and Reviewer’s Choice Award. When she isn’t writing, Robin spends time with her husband of twenty years, her three beautiful daughters, and their four character-filled pets at home—in the South, where else? An avid reader herself, Robin loves hearing from and chatting with other readers. Although her favorite genre to read is mystery/suspense, of course, she’ll read just about any good story. Except historicals! To learn more about this author of deep South mysteries of suspense to inspire your heart, visit Robin’s website at

How did you start out your writing career?

I've always written. Short stories, poetry--even had a few published. But I knew novels were my heart.

What was your most difficult scene to write?

Since DELIVER US FROM EVIL deals with the horrible modern day slavery of child trafficking, there were several scenes I wrote from a trafficked girl's pov. I think the first one in the book was the hardest for me. I cried. Okay, I bawled like a baby.

Have you had a "Wow" moment since you have been an author?
What made it a "Wow" moment for you?

I have so many "wow" moments...God never ceases to amaze me with His abundant blessings.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

I hope the reader enjoys the story, but I also hope it raises awareness about child trafficking. As always, with everything I do, I hope I bring honor and glory to Jesus.

What’s playing on your CD while you’re writing?

Most of the time it's the Phantom of the Opera soundtrack.

If you could choose to be a superhero for a day, who would you pick and why?

WonderWoman, of course. Come on, her invisible airplane is entirely too cool!

If you could be on a Reality TV show, which one would it be and why?

This might be a shocker, but I don't watch reality shows. They annoy me. LOL Now, the television show my life most resembles? Fringe. LOL

What is the neatest place you have ever visited so far and why?

Jamaica. It's breathtakingly beautiful.

If you had $100.00 and had to spend it today, what would you buy?

Why? Books! Because I think I'm addicted to the printer's ink. lol

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

That it is NOT easy.

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

The worst? The best? Don't give up. Study the craft. Hone the skill. Attend writers conferences and learn as much as possible. The worst? Hmmm...that's hard. I don't think I have one.

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

DO whatever you can to learn the trade and keep up on the industry. DON'T make the mistake of thinking this is easy. It takes hard work, commitment, and time.

What is something readers would be surprised you do?

Hmmm....I don't know. I used to be a cheerleader, maybe?

Our theme for this month is Writing The Book. What advice do you have for staying motivated to complete the book?

A deadline! Seriously, whether self-imposed or contractual, a deadline helps keep me focused and motivated to finish telling the story.

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

FEAR NO EVIL (releasing in August) With his father in a nursing home and his mother needing support, former Great Smoky Mountains park ranger Lincoln Vailes moves to the bayou town of Eternal Springs, Louisiana, to become a police officer. Recent college graduate and eager social worker Jade Laurent has also moved there to try and right the wrongs of an abusive past. But someone is running her car off the road and pointing guns in her direction. As Lincoln investigates her case, he uncovers ties to big-city gang warfare up north that appears to be making its evil way down south.

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website) PO Box 242091, Little Rock, AR 72223

Deliver Us From Evil

A beautiful yet tough woman working in a beautiful yet tough setting, Brannon Callahan is a search and rescue helicopter pilot for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Strong faith and a decorated history of service have kept her one step ahead of on-the-job dangers, but there’s no precedent for what’s about to happen. After a blizzard takes down a small plane carrying U.S. Marshal Roark Holland (already haunted by a recent tragedy), Brannon must save him in more ways than one and safeguard the donor heart he’s transporting to a government witness on the edge of death. Otherwise the largest child trafficking ring in history—with shocking links from Thailand to Tennessee—will slip further away into darkness along the Appalachian Trail. ---"The kind of novel 'Ripped from the headlines' was meant to describe. Compelling."--James Scott Bell, author of Deceived and Try Fear

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Friday, February 19, 2010

FEATURED AUTHOR: Michelle Sutton

Michelle Sutton is known as the Edgy Inspirational Author. She is a member of ACFW, a social worker by trade, and a prolific reader/book reviewer/blogger the rest of the time. She has eleven contracted novels, four of which are currently available. She he lives in Arizona with her husband of nineteen years and her two teenaged sons. Michelle is also the author of It's Not about Me (2008) and It's Not About Him (Sheaf House 2009).

How did you start out your writing career?

I loved to read so I decided one day to try to write a romance novel myself. It wasn't that good, but I didn't know how to write yet. However, the cool thing is the very first book I wrote (I've written about 15 since) is the book I am sharing today. It's been overhauled from it's original form to make it a good book. I think it's been rewritten about 40 times. :)

What was your most difficult scene to write?

In this book? I can't really think of any. I enjoyed the whole thing.

Have you had a "Wow" moment since you have been an author? What made it a "Wow" moment for you?

That would be how much money you have to pay out for postage and other things to mail out books to reviewers and promote your books.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

I want to provide an entertaining, funny, sexy story that will resonate with readers and make them think.

What’s playing on your CD while you’re writing?

Absolutely nothing. However, I can usually hear my son practicing his saxophone in the background. Nice.

If you could choose to be a superhero for a day, who would you pick and why?

Probably Wonder Woman because she's got a nice figure and I don't, LOL! Though my hubby would disagree. Thank God for men who love their wives just the way they are. I like Linda Carter, too.

If you could be on a Reality TV show, which one would it be and why?

Maybe the Biggest Loser because I'd be forced to exercise more and eat less.

What is the neatest place you have ever visited so far and why?

I really enjoyed San Diego. I also enjoyed visiting Boston. I just like site seeing.

If you had $100.00 and had to spend it today, what would you buy? Why?

I'd probably give it to one of my kids. But if I had to spend it on me I'd get some coffee and good books.

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

That I didn't buy my PT Cruiser with my royalty checks. That CRACKS me up when people think I'm rich. Soooo not true.

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

Market, make friends, and have a unique product (edgy Christian fiction) so people will know who you are. They can't love your books if they never read them because they've never heard of you.

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

Don't try to sell your books too fast. Do keep writing and trying until something sells.

What is something readers would be surprised you do?

I used to sing in a worship band. I still sing in the shower and when I'm driving. No gigs lately though.

Our theme for this month is Writing The Book. What advice do you have for staying motivated to complete the book?

Write about something you are passionate about and it will flow right out of you.

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

The next book I have releasing from Desert Breeze is called In Plain Sight. It's about a Macedonian woman who was essentially held hostage from ages 15 to 21 by her abusive gypsy boyfriend. When he leaves on the streets of Skopje for dead, she survives and makes her way back home to her parents. Her brother has several businesses in Arizona so she goes to stay with him to get away from her old life. But after being in the USA only two weeks she already meets another man who has evil motives like her gypsy ex-boyfriend. She also has a nice boss who would never hurt her, but she avoids him because he is so nice and her past is something that she is sure he wouldn't understand. So she has to choose to either follow what she has always known (and hated) or risk trusting someone new (and good) and learning to love again. It's a story about changing your perception of yourself in response to unconditional love. Old patterns of behavior can be broken.

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

First Impressions

Sammie Carpenter understands how a uniform influences behavior. Wearing her Army fatigues puts her in the mindset of a soldier and donning her Class-A Uniform always helps her shift into Captain Mode. So what harm could come from her dressing like a saloon girl and strutting through the streets of Tombstone? She didn't know how to flirt to save her life, and she wasn't getting any younger.

When she met the lonesome stud cowboy, Jimmy, she knew he was the one. So why was their communication always so awkward? Couldn't he see that she was interested in him? No matter how hard she tried to win him over, she couldn't seem to get him to see past his first impression of her. But Sammie didn't give up easily. Somehow she would make him see that they were meant to be together, but how can she do that when all of her plans keep falling apart?


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Thursday, February 18, 2010

ARTICLE: Are you in love?

During the holidays, we generally tend to express sentiments that reflect or characterize the meaning of the occasion to those around us. During Thanksgiving, we reflect and are thankful to God for all of our many blessings, during the 4th of July we shoot off fireworks to commemorate the founding of the nation, and during Christmas we rejoice and exchange gifts as a re-enactment of the joy expressed at Christ’s birth. This holiday is no different.

The origin of the holiday is not the issue for the sake of this blog, but the sentiment of love is the issue. What is love? It is a word that is tossed around so loosely and with such a lack of care that many times we tend to lose track of its true meaning. If we don’t properly identify love, then we won’t be able to reciprocate it when it is being shown to us, nor can we initiate it, nor will we be able to recognize a counterfeit version of love.

The Source of Love (God)

Before we can answer the question of what love is, we must first understand that love is abstract: an intangible concept. It has meaning but we can’t go to the store and buy a bottle of “love.” However, we can illustrate loves qualities so that the untouchable can become visible.

Agape is the Greek word that is always used to describe the God kind of love (the highest form of love.) Agape gives and sacrifices for the betterment of others with no strings attached. It isn’t concerned with money, status, health, beauty, geographical location, your behavior, your attitude, your profession, height, weight, or anything else. It is only genuinely concerned about the well-being of others with no expectation of payment in return. It gives selflessly, not selfishly. Now that is the love that God shows towards us, and it is the same love that He wants for us to shows to others. Have you ever told someone that you loved them, but you didn’t treat them according to “agape” love? You got mad at them for how they treated you? You got an attitude because you did the right thing and you were disrespected in return? If your answer is yes, then you didn’t love them to the highest degree, because your love had conditions. Your love said, “I’ll tolerate you until I am tired of you,” “I will forgive you if you apologize and buy me a present,” “I’ll be nice, if you are nice to me,” “don’t do me wrong and I won’t have an attitude.” That is not love; that is conditional or situational tolerance.

Love isn’t just saying “I love you.” Those are just words that anyone can say. But true love gives and sacrifices itself. There is no sacrifice in words or promises. True love is the action that fulfills those promises. Once we realize how much our Heavenly Father truly loves us and how much He wants us to act like Him, only then will we be able to return that same affection to Him. When we do that, then our eyes will be opened to see things the way He intended them to be and not as they are. Truth always trumps reality, even when we are too blind to see it. All of this, in turn, will lead us into the next step: loving ourselves.

The Identity of Love (for self)

Once we identify with true love, which comes from God, we can then begin to incorporate that same love into our own lives and begin applying it to ourselves. When we begin to love ourselves, our own outlook on our careers, dating, relationships, lives, etc. will change for the better.

Like I said before, love has our best interest at heart with no strings attached. So show the world that you have your own best interests at heart. Treat yourself out to a good time; be confident in who you are; be secure in your independence; focus on your relationship with the Heavenly Father above any other relationship; set out to establish and accomplish your goals and dreams; separate yourself from people who aren’t supportive and are a distraction to you; and discipline yourself to make sure that you stay on course. Too often we let the most ancillary things derail us from moving forward with the bigger picture.

When a woman loves herself, everyone can see it on her face. She is strong and confident with an undeniable aura about her that confirms who she is. She doesn’t settle for less by dating, marrying, or making excuses for irresponsible little boys. She respects herself too much to be a babysitter to an adult male. She doesn’t want to have to tell the male that she is with to pull up his pants, to walk straight, to comb his hair or to brush his teeth. She works too hard on her job to waste money on a man that doesn’t want to find a real and consistent job. She has established her own credit and doesn’t want to throw it all away on a male that wants to use her good name since he can’t get his own mobile phone, car or place to stay. She wants to be with a man who can lead, protect and be accountable. A monkey can make a baby; a real woman wants security, reassurance, and provision. Her standards have transcended her childish high school level of thought. But there are many adult males that are on that novice level of thought and living, and for some reason, they always seem to have an insecure female around.

Loneliness and her biological clock are not substantive reasons enough to give her most prized possession, herself, to a male who isn’t worth it. This woman knows what true love is, and a woman who knows true love won’t settle for a man who doesn’t. A responsible woman in her 30’s or 40’s won’t settle for anything but the best. Why should she? Any man who is worth anything wants a virtuous woman who loves God and herself. Why? If she loves God and loves herself, then, and only then is she ready to love her man.

The Gift of Love (for others)

Consider love as a gift from God. It is a gift from Him to you, and then once you receive it, He wants you to share it with others. That is when people are ready to find their spouse. They won’t waste their time dating a bunch of people because the effervescence of love radiates off of a person that knows true love. These people have it and they attract love. People who love are calm and peaceful. They are still human and prone to err, but love is their guide.

My neighbor was married to the same woman for 75 years. They had a relationship that was unreal. I imagine they had disagreements, but you could still see the love in their eyes. The wife was the first one to pass of the 90 year old couple and her husband was devastated. That was the first time I ever saw him cry, and when he did, I knew that a part of him died; and a few years later he died.

That was the most loving couple that I ever knew and the entire neighborhood felt the genuine love that they shared. They gave love because they had love; and that is a good lesson for this time of the year when many people celebrate love: you have to know it, in order to have it, in order to give it.

You have to be connected to the Source of love (God). Once you are connected, that’s when you can truly love yourself. When you love God first and then yourself, you can automatically love others. Think of it in terms of a radio; the antenna gets the reception, the plug gets the power, and the speakers give off the sound. The antenna receives God’s love to you, the plug empowers you to love Him and yourself, and the speakers allow it to be shared with others.

So, are you in love? Are you ready to love?

Brian Ganges is a native New Jerseyan who resides in Texas. He has written many articles that are very thought provoking, principled, informative and insightful. His topics of interest include: current events, politics, health related topics, economics, relationships, and principles for daily living; which are always from a Christian worldview. He is one of the co-authors of the award-winning anthology "The Soul of a Man." Brian is currently working on his debut book entitled "Piecing The Puzzle Together," to be released Spring 2010.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Dreams That Won't Let Go Blog Tour

Stacy Hawkins Adams is a nationally-published, award-winning author and speaker. Her contemporary women’s fiction novels are filled with social themes and spiritual quests that take readers on journeys into their own souls.

She holds a degree in journalism and served as a newspaper reporter for more than a decade before turning her full attention to penning books, speaking professionally and writing freelance articles.

Stacy lives in a suburb of Richmond, Virginia with her husband and two young children. Visit Stacy online at

Tell us about Dreams That Won’t Let Go.

This novel is the third book in my Jubilant Soul series, but it’s also written as a stand-alone title, so readers who begin here won’t be lost. Dreams That Won’t Let Go in many senses in a modern day version of the Prodigal Son story – a long-lost sibling returns and the one who has been there all along is resentful.

But this story is really about so much more. It’s about the hopes and dreams that tug at each characters heart, as well as the fears and pain that haunt them. Until everyone in this family acknowledges mistakes they’ve made in the past, and secrets that they’ve wrongly kept, no one in the family will heal.

We get to see whether Indigo, her brother Reuben, her sister Yasmin and other family members are up to the challenge.

How did you come up with ideas for this book?

I wanted to write a novel about a close-knit southern family who on the surface, was picture perfect and deeply religious; but in reality, struggled to unconditionally love and support each other like many other families. I wanted to focus on characters who were faithful yet vulnerable, and willing to grow into stronger people.

Who are your main character(s)?

My main characters in this novel are Indigo Burns and her brother, Reuben Burns. Indigo is preparing to marry the man of her dreams and start an exciting life, but her joy is hampered because she’s going it alone. The support she had hoped to receive from her parents seems to have shifted to the brother who left ten years earlier and now has returned to a hero’s welcome. But Reuben is fighting demons, and until he acknowledges them, his return home won’t be a truly happy one.

Did you have a favorite character(s)? Who and why?

My favorite character in Dreams That Won’t Let Go, and in the entire series is Aunt Melba. She’s no-nonsense yet loving, and everyone in the family (and in the community) seeks out her wisdom and support when they’re dealing with big issues.

Did you have to do quite a bit of research for this novel?

Yes. I actually research careers, professions and anything else that shapes who the characters are and where they live. For example, although Jubilant is a fictional Texas town, Reuben moves there from Seattle; so I thoroughly researched what his life was like before making the transition.

What do you hope readers will learn/discover from reading Dreams That Won’t Let Go?

I hope readers will understand the value of being “real” – being authentic – with themselves and others, and also the importance of loving others enough to let them choose their own paths. I also want readers to know that sometimes we do have to let go of our dreams and hand them over to God, but in doing so, we can trust that they won’t die.

Thanks so much for hosting me today, LaShaunda!

About the Book

Indigo Burns is excited. Her wedding preparations to the man of her dreams are underway, her photography career is a success, and her family seems to be doing better than ever—all except her brother Reuben, who nobody has seen in years. But that’s about to change.

When Reuben decides to move back home to Jubilant, Texas, he hopes to find healing with his sisters. But Indigo isn’t so sure their relationship can be mended. And when younger sister Yasmin makes a life-altering choice, it seems like only a miracle can put the Burns family back together.

Will these siblings – and the rest of their family - ever be able to love unconditionally and release each other to live their dreams?

Dreams That Won’t Let Go GIVEAWAY!

WIN a set of signed books from the Jubilant Soul Series AND a free one-hour session with Helena Nyman, an executive coach.

Answer the following question in the comment section to be eligible for the giveaway.

What dreams are simmering in your heart and waiting to be birthed?

Visit the full blog tour schedule and read an excerpt at

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

COLUMN: Fresh Manna: Breaking of Bread From Heaven

On the pages of the 66 books of the Bible are recorded some of the greatest love stories of all times. If you are looking for sex and romance, Songs of Solomon is the book for you. The Bible, itself, is a gigantic collection of love stories breathed from the very heart of God to His people. It chronicles His agape love to His people despite their unfaithfulness and idolatry acts towards Him. The Israelites were His chosen people; yet they repeatedly whored after other gods. If you are looking for a good read on redemption and love, grab your Bible and read the book of Hosea during your private devotions. For the tech-savvy readers, plug up with your favorite gadget and listen to the perils of adventures and displays of unconditional love.

This column recounts one of those love stories as recorded in the Book of Exodus 16. In this Chapter, God had delivered the Children of Israel from the bondages of Egypt by the hands of Moses. Now they are in their 40-year wilderness experience. And guess what they were doing? They were murmuring and complaining, wishing they had stayed in Egypt and died.

And the Lord spoke to Moses, “I have heard the murmuring of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, at even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am the Lord, your God.” When evening came, God allowed quails to fly into the camp, and in the morning the dew fell on the ground. After the dew fell and evaporated, it left a small round frosted thing on the campground.

The children of Israel saw it. Looking at each other, they asked Moses, “What is it?”

Moses said, “This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat.”

God loved them so much that He provided fresh bread for them daily from His heavenly bakery. Yet, they distrusted Him for daily provisions and hoarded it until morning even though they were told to destroy the remains. By morning, the leftover bread bred worms and had a stench. They learned their lesson on trusting Jehovah-Jireh, their Provider, the hard way. The Bible records that the children of Israel did eat manna for forty years until they came to their Canaan land (a land of plenty, a land flowing with milk and honey).

I’ve found myself in this story during some difficult times of waiting on God’s provisions in my own life. He has sustained me daily with His fresh baked heavenly bread (the Word). Yet, I’m still murmuring and complaining. Waiting is too hard, but 40-years (don’t even think about it). I want what I want now! So like the children of Israel, I’ve stayed in my wilderness experience far longer than required. Some theologians say the 40-year wilderness experience could have been completed in a matter of days as opposed to 40 years. What about you? Can you think of some wilderness experiences of your own where you had to learn how to wait and trust God for daily provisions?

Journaling Assignment: Jot down one of your wilderness experiences: Share the lessons learned, and the final outcome.

Happy Journaling!

Claudia Newby-Tynes, entrepreneur of Write 4U, is an author, speaker, teacher, and mentor. She has written two books and is a contributor to one. Claudia has approximately 200+ published credits online and in print publications. She served as both a columnist for The Spirit-Led Writer and a planning committee/faculty member for the Sandy Cove Christian Writers’ Conference. She is married and has one grown son. For more information, visit

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Monday, February 15, 2010


Saga fiction writer, Avah LaReaux, is the author of the Lost & Found saga series for which What’s Done in the Dark, Song of the Siren, and Bastards are the first thr ee releases. Focusing on conveying messages of empowerment, optimism, and inspiration, Avah continues to write novels and poetry, as well as short stories.

How did you start out your writing career?

I actually started my writing career as a poet. I wrote inspirational poems for years and had many of them published in anthologies in the U.S. and abroad. In 2002, however, I got a story idea and began writing what has now become the Lost & Found saga series.

What was your most difficult scene to write?

The most difficult scene to write for Bastards was actually the
introductory scene. I knew I needed to pull together everything that was
going to happen and still keep in mind key points from the first two books. I needed to give enough background to pull all the characters together while keeping my readers' interests in the process. It was tough. Hopefully, I got the job done adequately.

Have you had a "Wow" moment since you have been an author? What made it a "Wow" moment for you?

I was sitting in my living room, participating on a call where several authors were being interviewed for a Blog Talk Radio show. I was listening to everyone talk when it hit me, "I'm on the phone with OTHER authors!" I had been writing for so long and had even been published. But at that moment, with all those other artists, it suddenly occurred to me. I realized then that I had truly begun to live my dream.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

Bastards was where the series all began. In 2002, when I first got the idea, I knew I wanted to present a number of characters that had both redeeming and unredeemable qualities. I wanted to show a side of families, both the individual and the unit, that isn't usually talked about and is most often hidden. I also wanted to challenge conventional thoughts about why people are the way they are. I hoped to do that by bringing in key aspects from families to include folklore, history, and traditions. Mostly, I wanted to tell a story that was true yet enlightening and heart-warming while still being non-traditional.

What’s playing on your CD while you’re writing?

I don't usually listen to music when I write. I need to "hear" my characters. So, I prefer a quiet room.

If you could choose to be a superhero for a day, who would you pick and

Batman. He is the only superhero that does not possess superpowers, but uses his skills and resources to change the world.

If you could be on a Reality TV show, which one would it be and why?

The Amazing Race. I love scavenger hunts and I love to travel. There is no better way to "kill two birds with one stone."

What is the neatest place you have ever visited so far and why?

I loved New York City. I loved the cultural diversity, the people, the venues, and the cuisine.

If you had $100.00 and had to spend it today, what would you buy? Why?

I love seafood so I would be forced to indulge my vice at McCormick and Schmick's, my favorite seafood restaurant.

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

It is not as easy as it looks. There is a distinct difference between writing and being an author. Writers put words on paper; authors combine ideas with passion and make literary masterpieces. Which one you are depends on the amount of discipline you have.

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

The best advice was disguised in some the worst news I received when I was submitting manuscripts early in my career. I received a rejection letter from a major New York publishing house and they said, "Although they really loved my writing, they didn't know how to market my work..." That gave me a new perspective that writing was not just to be a part-time effort by me and made me take complete ownership of my work from a creative and a business point of view.

The worst advice was that editors are authors’ worst enemies. That doesn’t have to be the case.

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

Do know your craft. Words are the author’s tools and you must know how to use your tools. Remember, passion without knowledge is just as dead as faith without works. Don't give up on your dreams. Perseverance and hard work are what will lay the foundation for your literary legacy.

What is something readers would be surprised you do?

I speak Japanese, French and Spanish. Some more than others so please don't test me... :)

Our theme for this month is Writing The Book. What advice do you have for staying motivated to complete the book?

Motivation is internal. An author has to remain focused and draw from within. Inspiration is external, motivation is internal.

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

Of course, Smoke and Mirrors is the next title and it turns the corner in the series. In this installation, we bring the chickens home to roost, so to speak. By the end of the novel all of the secrets will be exposed and we will begin to deal with the fallout from generations of lies. I get excited just talking about it.

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

You can reach me by visiting AveyWorld at where you can click the Contact Avah link and find all of my online links as well as my addresses. Thanks, LaShaunda for the interview and thanks readers hanging out with me and supporting my work. Hugs & kisses.


One life truly affects another. How much more accurate would that statement be if the lives were linked by blood? Meet the young Marcus Clayton and the residents of the Bradhurst community as they live, learn, and love according to their own rules. Will morals win out over physical desires or will lust overpower better judgment and foundational teaching? Join the journey, meet the players, and discover how what’s done in the dark leads to a siren’s song.

Leave a comment or question for a chance to win a copy of Bastards.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

SistahFaith Blog Tour

SistahFaith – A Revolution of Restoration

Sharon Ewell Foster

The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, "Return home and tell how much God has done for you." So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.—Luke 8:38-39

Sometimes good news and hope are hard to share with those I love. They see that I am scarred like them so they don’t believe me; hoping that things can change is hard work. “Forgive him,” I say. “Love him. He’s in bondage, too. Don’t let him die in chains,” I say to them about a loved one who has harmed them.

Long ago, there was a rift in my family that took place when I was a little girl. The adults didn’t speak again, even to death. The children, now adults, have been isolated from one another.

As I speak to relatives I have not spoken to in years, some I didn’t know existed, they begin to share stories of anger, abuse, and drunkenness. Though they don’t know me, they tell me how wounded they are. How could this happen? We don’t even know each other.

It is not the first time it has happened. Five years ago, the same thing happened—relatives from whom I’ve been isolated began to weep and tell them their story, a story I know from my own childhood. Why are the telling me?

I know why; it’s because I have to share my story, the story of how I received love, hope, and peace from the Lord. The story of how I learned the language of love and of how He put joy in my heart. But it’s so much easier to tell the story to strangers. It’s so much easier to offer my hand and heart to others who don’t know me.

It was not easy, this change. It was hard work. I had to confess that I was broken, that I was tormented. I had to give up anger and offense at those who had harmed me. It was hard to let go of the shame. When the Lord began to pry them away from me, it was hard to let go—anger, shame, and offense were familiar. They were hard treasures to give up—they protected me and made me feel better, they made me feel justified me. I had a list a mile long of wrongs that had been done to me and I rehearsed each transgression over and over again. I’d earned the right to be angry and offended after all I’d suffered.

But, I gave them up—allowing the Lord to pry my hands and my heart open—gave them away for something better. It wasn’t until I gave them up that I realized that they didn’t protect me, they kept me bound. I gave up anger, fear, shame, and offense in exchange for love, hope, peace, and joy—beauty for ashes.

Then I had to confess that what I hated, what had harmed me, lived inside me. Cruel words lurked on my tongue and meanness had a grip on my heart. I told myself I’d forgiven those that had harmed me, when I hadn’t. The same unforgiveness that made family members not speak to each other for generations had taken root in me. “Jesus, help me.” I realized all the harm I’d done unknowingly and then I saw how I’d been forgiven, how I’d been given mercy by the Lord. I received mercy and gave mercy.

“Forgive him,” I repeat to my relatives. “Love him.” But there is unbelief. They think what I’ve suffered couldn’t have possibly as been as bad as what they’ve suffered. They don’t know how brokenhearted I was, how tormented I was. They don’t know that my dreams were night terrors. They don’t know that I was beaten and cursed and more—by people I loved, by people who loved me.

If I have suffered, then I must be pretending to be whole, their attitudes say. I have joy and peace in my life, but they think I’m faking because it’s part of what we do. We present a perfect front to the outside world—a got-it-all-together, successful, in-control façade, but behind closed doors there is raging and cruelty and abuse. But my smile is real and behind closed doors there is peace.

Your life can change, I want to tell them. You don’t have to continue the path you’re on—we can undo the hurt and anger that began before we were ever born. Your wounds can be turned to healed scars. Instead I say, “Be loving to him and he will learn to love. Speak love to him so that he can learn a new language.” In time they will see. In time they will be amazed. There will be joy in their hearts and laughter on their tongues!

Lord, help our unbelief. Help us, despite all we’ve been through to hope, to hope for a brighter day. Help us to let go of anger and shame and offense and fear. Help us to exchange them for something much more precious—joy, peace, love, mercy, and hope. Then, after you have delivered us and healed us, help us to gently tell the story to those we love, even to those who don’t believe.

ABOUT SHARON EWELL FOSTER: Sistah Sharon is an acclaimed author, speaker, and teacher. She has contributed to Daily Guideposts, Tavis Smiley’s Keeping the Faith, and to the Women of Color Devotional Bible. Her achievements include: the Christy Award, the Gold Pen Award, the Romantic Times Best Inspirational, Publisher’s Weekly starred reviews and the Essence Bestseller List. Sharon also ghostwrote a NYT bestselling novel. Visit her on the web at

Listen to Sharon -


Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people? (Jeremiah 8:22, NIV)

Twenty-five women, including Bunny Debarge, Sharon Ewell Foster, Stanice Anderson, Claudia Mair Burney and Marilynn Griffith, tell their stories of coming full circle from tragedy to triumph. Each contributor keeps it holy, keeping it real in these raw, relevant tales of redemption and restoration. Think of it as Prozac for the Christian Woman’s Soul!

A twelve week study is included for churches and book clubs. Instructions provided on gathering your own SistahFaith circle.

Join the network of sistahs at
Check the tour schedule at



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Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Food Temptress 2010 Winter Virtual Book Tour

The Food Temptress 2010 Winter Virtual Book Tour Stop – About the Author: Rekaya Gibson’s love for food is evident throughout her fiction work, “The Food Temptress,” and her children’s book, “Are There French Fries in Heaven?” Some of her nonfiction articles have appeared in the Cabo Living Magazine, Desert Saints Magazine, and Lake of the Ozarks Second Home Living Magazine. In 2006, she self-published an e-Book, “Wow Them With Your Grant Proposal” under her own e-publishing company, Gibson Girl Publishing Company. She holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of New Orleans. ekaya resides in Las Vegas, Nevada. You can reach her at

What is The Food Temptress?

The Food Temptress is a fiction novel about a 30-year-old single woman named Ambrosia (meaning - food and/or drink of the gods) who uses food to seduce men and it converts them into the perfect guy. Set in New Orleans, she captures the hearts and minds of different men, ranging from the local sheriff to a Bourbon Street musician. Each short story serves up a delectable treat connected by Ambrosia’s continuing quest for both romantic and culinary perfection.

How did you come up with the concept for the novel?

I developed the concept from the adage, “a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” I took my own interpretation and expanded upon it by using my creativity. As result, I birthed The Food Temptress.

Looking at the book now, what surprises you?

I was surprised at all the men that Ambrosia dated – 16 total.

What do you want readers to take from your book?

I long for readers to have an emotional connection to my characters.

Who are some of your favorite writers?

Some of my favorite writers are as follows: Maya Angelou, Venise Berry, John Grisham, Michelle Mckinney Hammod, Jill Nelson, and Jennifer Weiner.

What are you reading now?

I am reading “Life with McDuff: Lesson Learned from a Therapy Dog” by Judy McFadden and “Excessive Baggage” by Sean Gardner.

What’s next for your writing career?

The sequel, “The Food Enchantress,” comes out in mid-April by Xpress Yourself Publishing Company. I am working on a cookbook that comes out in November. In addition, I am finishing a historical fiction featuring a female pharaoh and I am writing a fiction novel, “Mama Don’t Like Ugly.”

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Hearts Blog Tour with Victoria Wells

Getting to Know Victoria Wells

Do you believe in love at first sight?

Hmm…I believe two people can have a very strong affinity for one another that leads to love almost immediately.

Do you believe it is proper for people to express their romantic feelings in public?

Yes, I certainly do. Affection can be publicly displayed without being inappropriate. I don’t see anything wrong with a tender kiss, a gentle touch or a lingering stare.

If you could create the absolute perfect job for yourself, what would it be?

Since I love being a nurse and writing, my perfect job would be to work from 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. in my current job as a nurse practitioner. I’d break for lunch from 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. After lunch I’d head home to my office and write for at least four hours straight without any interruptions.

What is your biggest pet peeve?

When people lie about stupid stuff! Uggggh! Drives me bonkers!

What three words best describe you?

Passionate, silly, and loyal.

What is the most important part of a relationship?

Trust. When you give your trust to someone in essence you’re giving them a piece of your soul. You’re putting your faith in them to do what is in the best interest of the relationship. I strongly believe once the trust in a relationship is abused, it’s almost impossible to repair such a breach.

Want to know a little more about me?

Please visit me at to find out what the most romantic thing my husband has done for me. :)

Key To My Heart

Sassy talking, no-nonsense Ava Peretti has a mysterious past that has finally caught up with her. Agonizing nightmares terrorize her by night as painful memories of a love lost haunt her by day. Ava has vowed never to love again, but she will soon find out that sometimes vows are made to be broken.

Attorney Langston Warrington III is the one man that can make Ava love again. The only problem is . . . he’s her archenemy! And to make matters worse, Langston has a secret of his own—a secret that will change Ava’s life forever.

For more information and to follow the tour, please visit

Leave your comments and be entered to win some great prizes courtesy of Victoria!

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

COLUMN: Building Colorful Characters

Building Colorful Characters — the Literary Bones of a Story, Part 2

Perhaps if humankind weren’t so complex we wouldn’t need the doings—or undoings—of psychologists and psychiatrists, but just as our world continues to evolve, so do the characteristics and personalities of mankind. Therefore, writers have to continuously infuse their characters with the same stains that paint ordinary people in order to create believable fictional characters.

In our continuing pursuit to raise our fiction-folks to the level of realistic beings, we meet the colorful character “ Cal ” on a day that could be today and a place that’s near everyone …

The walk from the elevator to his office had Cal wheezing. The receptionist said, “Good morning, Mr. Ashton.” She didn’t look up from her computer screen. Her voice was colorless. The way she said “Mr. Ashton” always grated on his nerves. No doubt she’d be jumping up with an ingratiating smile for one of the consultants who worked with the company’s clients. The clients dealt only with the personable, attractive consultants and didn’t realize that it was the squints like Cal that actually did the work. But the receptionist knew. She had some nerve snubbing him. He was ten times as smart as she was and made a lot more money.

Cal smoothed his hair from his forehead and moved past the young woman into the narrow corridor that ran to the tech department, a huge room intersected with numerous cubicles creating a maze.

“Hey, Stanley ,” Cal called through an opening he passed. A grunt was his only reply from the darkened room. Stanley was already deep into his codes and programs. He probably wouldn’t emerge for hours.

Some of the other techs greeted Cal , but he gave brusque responses. Cal got impatient talking with any of them. A bunch of brownnoses. None of them had anywhere near his IQ. He and Stanley were the highest-level programmers in the company. Cal sometimes wondered about Stanley ’s IQ but had never asked. Not that it was important.

Cal went into his cubicle, the biggest in the section. Dropping his briefcase on the desk, he eased his bulk into the big armchair behind the desk with a relieved groan. A trickle of sweat trailed down his temple. Yeah, he needed to lose some weight. His doctor nagged him about it all the time. Cal was tired of the man’s obnoxious, condescending manner. He’d lose weight when he was good and ready. It wasn’t like he was committing a crime. He just liked to eat.

Cal cast a furtive look at the opening of his cubicle to make sure no one was nearby. Then he popped the snaps on the briefcase. Inside was a large, foil-wrapped plate. Yeah, breakfast. The scent of his mom’s sausage and potato and egg scramble drifted up to his nostrils with sensual enticement. For the first time since he’d left home this morning, a smile curved Cal ’s lips.

This author has painted a clear, brain-thumping description. Your memory draws you a familiar picture of a male who enters an office environment, the people he interacts with, and the way he probably looks and feels. You taste the atmosphere.

Here’s who and what I see: an overweight, late-30ish white male wearing a white shirt and black tie that’s tucked into a pair of black pants that supports a growing gut. This character trudged into the office with a black briefcase stiffly by his side: the picture of an unhappy, arrogant, childlike, sweaty male who still lives at home with his mother and is still very pampered by her. This character lacks a social life so he throws himself into his work. He wants desperately to be liked, but feels snubbed by those he knows isn’t as smart as he. His hurt feelings are soothed by the props of food that he often indulges in, even against medical advice. For him a day begins, extends, and ends with the comfort of food and work.

How about you, what do you see? Readers, can you hear the character’s body language? Writers, does the character’s actions rhyme with his depicted personality? There is certainly room for conflict as this story builds with the way Cal and his co-workers perceive each other. Do you think Cal is in competition with Stanley , with whom he identifies and against whom he secretly compares his abilities? Also, how colorful would Cal ’s attitude become if his coveted breakfast didn’t agree with his agitated system, or if he receives numerous unwanted interruptions? All these imaginative projections derive from a few clear paragraphs that nudge your curiosity. This only happens when the characters remind us of people we already know or if the writer has shaped our vision to picture and identify with them.

This scenario is the perfect example of a believable character and “Show, Don’t Tell.” We’ve extended our probe into:

Personality/Identity—depicting a character’s traits and psyche
Body types—subtle, physical descriptions

We included:

1. Body language

2. Arrogance

3. Guilt

These important elements were demonstrated when:

1. We were shown the character’s personality through learning Cal felt smarter than all his co-workers and shunned at the same time.

2. Picturing Cal “ease his bulk” into the big armchair behind the desk with a relieved groan gave vision to his body type.

3. Cal ’s wheezing—body language—depicted a possible medical problem brought on also perhaps by excess weight, lack of exercise, or respiratory problems.

4. The character’s brusque—or abrupt—responses and feeling that his co-workers were “A bunch of brownnoses” and believing his doctor was obnoxious with a condescending manner because of his medical advice indicated arrogance.

5. We learn Cal knows his eating habits are wrong and feels guilt when the author tells us that he “cast a furtive look at the opening of his cubicle to make sure no one was nearby.”

Like our guest character Cal , don’t we all do things that seem of no significance but actually make us unique and complex? When writers touch a familiar place in us, show us ourselves in others, we continue to turn the pages of the journey we have become engrossed in.

Drop me a line or our guest author and leave your comments and suggestions about what we’ve discussed so far.

Our guest contributor this month is seasoned author Andrea Jackson, also known as “The Paperback Diva.” She is the contributor to two anthologies, a short story writer, and author of three books with Who’s That Lady? being her latest work. Contact Andrea at:

Feel free to use Cal in any of your projects; he’s a freelance character, as will be all the characters born here.

Wordsmiths, remember to e-mail me with your creations and I’ll post them here for all to meet and utilize. For your gifting, I’ll post a picture of your latest book and a link to your Web site.

I hope now you’re all feeling stamped by a few more traits of a memorable and believable fictional personality.

Pens up! to building colorful characters the write way.

Rachel Berry has been gifted by our creator to be many things; on the list of these blessings are daughter, caregiver, wife, mother, grandmother, sister, best friend, aunt, published author & poet, motivational speaker, radio talk show host, mentor, columnist and community leader.

She has been a government employee for 24 years.

Rachel is the founder and president of Black Pearls United INC. (an African American sister-circle) which was founded in 2000.

Berry is also an alumni member of Toastmasters International where she has earned her CTM and has been awarded as Toastmaster of the Year.

Rachel is proudly promoting her books 'From The Heart And Heat Of Me.' and her novel ‘Family Pictures:’ the family saga of two women with too many secrets and the up and down relationships they have with those people they call family.

To arrange speaking engagements e-mail her at For book signings please e-mail her at To preview and buy her books please visit her web site at

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BLOG TOUR: Joe Joe In The City Series

Have a Dream, Too!

By Jean Alicia Elster; Illustrated by Nicole Tadgell

ISBN: 9780817013974


In this second volume of the Joe Joe in the City series, the serious-minded but likable Joe Joe faces his peers who ridicule him for dreaming of attending college one day. Joe Joe realizes that attaining this dream won`t be easy, either personally or financially. When searching for answers, Joe Joe discovers a book about Mary McLeod Bethune, an influential African American woman who overcame poverty and the lack of a formal education at an early age to become the founder of a college and a government worker for the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration. In this lesson on tough choices, Joe Joe faces a decision that results in his own moral, spiritual, and emotional growth.


As a child I enjoyed researching about African-American History. One of my favorites was Mary McLeod Bethune. She amazed me with her dream of going to school and then sharing her knowledge with others.

This book introduces the reader and Joe Joe to Ms. McLeod Bethune. He learns how she didn't let poverty stop her from reaching her dream of a good education. She started her own school which was later turned into a college. She is a great inspiration to young children who don't believe education is important.

I enjoyed reading this book to my children and introducing them to one of my sheros. I look forward to reading more about Joe Joe's adventures.

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Monday, February 08, 2010

FEATURE AUTHOR: Susan Pennington-Hurtubise

Susan Pennington-Hurtubise was born in Norwich , Connecticut , in 1956. To become a published author was her dream. The mother of three and grandmother of six, she found little if any time to devote to her writing. Her children grown and her grandchildren rapidly growing up before her very eyes, Susan found herself once more inspired to get her new career off the ground. The time had finally come to begin working on “The Adventures of Toby and Doby.”

This story, originally created in the early 1960s by Susan’s aunt, Olive, has been taken off of the shelf and dusted for the very last time. Now, at last, it is complete and will soon be followed up with more upcoming and exciting adventures.

Growing up in Norwich , Susan spent much of her time bouncing back and forth between her three passions, bowling at the local Ten Pin, horseback riding at a stable in nearby Preston and, of course, writing. After graduating from St. Bernard’s High School in 1974, she married and relocated to Texas for three years. Upon returning to Connecticut , she and her family resided in New Haven until 1986, when they moved to the northern Adirondack Mountains in northern New York .

Susan trained to be a veterinary assistant and an LPN. She also took a course in scriptwriting. After working as an LPN for ten years, she was looking for something new and exciting to do, so she trained to become a card dealer at the new casino opening on the Mohawk reservation near where she lived. Not once did she let go of her dream of becoming a writer.

Susan now resides in Lancaster , Ontario , Canada , with her new husband.

How did you start out your writing career?

Gosh I have been writing as long as I can the 1st grade I wrote a poem about my kitty, sure wish I still had it...As a single mom, it was difficult to find the time to devote seriously to my writing so I just dabbled...A couple years ago, I ended up on Workers Compensation from my job and lo and behold I finally had the time...First I self published and then was fortunate enough to be picked up by Strategic.

What was your most difficult scene to write?

Actually none of them...for some reason writing comes easily to me and once I start the words just seem to flow...

Have you had a "Wow" moment since you have been an author? What made it a "Wow" moment for you?

I would have to say visiting my grandchildren’s classes at school...The expressions on their faces..the pride that gleemed from their little eyes lighting up their tiny faces..that was what made it a "WOW" for me.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

I am hoping to re-introduce a simpler more innocent time to today’s children...God knows they need it...a time when children were allowed to be children...when life was fun and imagination ran wild...each book also offers morals, values and some simple life lessons about how to treat other people, that lying is wrong, that you should always listen to your parents...some even teach children about society events, how to handle them and what they are about...going to school for the first time, Holiday customs such as Christmas and Easter. I even did research on Easter...did you know that the Easter Bunny came from Germany and was originally the Oschter Haws...

What’s playing on your CD while you’re writing?

A little bit of everything...I enjoy most music but tend to favor the golden oldies and 1940's big band sound.

If you could choose to be a superhero for a day, who would you pick and why?

My mom...because she made my life magical and left this world long before I could learn all she had to teach me...I would learn and try to touch as many children with her love and wisdom as possible...

If you could be on a Reality TV show, which one would it be and why?

With out question 'Dancing With the Stars', I love to dance and I think it would be the most relaxing and exhilerating way to spend a few weeks of my life...It would also teach me disipline and whip me into shape lol

What is the neatest place you have ever visited so far and why?

I guess I would have to choose Disney...after all it is a Magical Kingdom where children can run and play and laugh all day just what my books hopefully will allow parents to help their little ones do all the time and not just on is also my highest of highest goals that one day someone at Disney gets their hands on one of my books...because in my heart I know that Toby and Doby are Disney material 100% and will look amazing on the big screen..once a Disney exec reads it, they WILL be hooked...and I am not one to brag, I am just telling the truth...

If you had $100.00 and had to spend it today, what would you buy? Why?

Something for each of my grandchildren...they're what life is all about.

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

That writing may be used as a great outlet for all you wildest ideas, creativity and imagination...that it isn't hard for everyone, and that all you have to do to get started is pick up a pad and pencil and start...writing is easy, it's the editing afterwards that is tough but there are lots of people who can help you with that.

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

Just to be cautious I would have to say...there are so many publishers, you hope to get one that has your best interest at hand as well as an earnest dedication to your story...They have to believe in it too. Haven't really been in it long enough..hopefully I will never get bad advice...

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

DO have fun with it...write about what you know, what you love, anything just write, in the end you will be surprised at what you have accomplished...DON'T think you can't...because anything is possible if you only dream...

What is something readers would be surprised you do?

Probably that I spend way to much time farming and cooking on I have to admit I have made some really great friends there and I have even had the good fortune of re-connecting with 2 of my best friends from highschool whom I hadn't spoken to in over 30 years...gotta love FB...

Our theme for this month is Writing The Book. What advice do you have for staying motivated to complete the book?

The Little Engine That absolutely inspiring childrens book for kids of all ages...just say it over and over...I know I can, I know I can...

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

Hello Again

Toby, Doby, Suzy and I knew you’d come back for more. We are sure that you will enjoy, “Toby and Doby Go to School”, just as much as their first adventure.

In this adventure, Suzy is very excited! She is off to Kindergarten and can’t wait to share the good news with her friends. At first, Toby and Doby are happy for their new friend, but as time goes by, they miss her, and are very sad.

In this story, we hope to teach children about how much fun school is, as well as what they can expect when they go to school. We hope to answer their biggest question: What is school??

Toby and Doby learn all about school thanks to their friend Suzy. She brings home new stories, and fun things to do, that she learns each day.

We also hope to help the little ones left behind adjust, to the loneliness; they feel when their older siblings go off to school, leaving them behind.

“Toby and Doby Go to School”, will hopefully make the adjustment to school, easier for both parents and children.

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

The best way would be my e-mail :

The Adventures of Toby and Doby

The Adventures of Toby and Doby tells the charming tale of two brother mice who one day while playing in a basement, meet the little girl, Suzy, who lives upstairs. As you would expect they are frightened at first but with a little coaxing, they come out of their hole and the three become very unique and special friends. This is their introduction to literary society, there first step hopefully on their way to becoming movie stars.

In this their first adventure, they learn not to judge by appearances, that telling the truth is always better then telling a lie, that parents are fair and that if you listen to them, they will listen to you.

It is a tender story of friendship, love and family; told chapter style to make for some enjoyable parent/child bonding moments at the end of a busy day. Each chapter ends leaving you as well as your child curious about what will happen next.

Leave a comment or question for a chance to win a copy of The Adventures of Toby and Doby

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Friday, February 05, 2010


Karyn Langhorne Folan graduated from Harvard Law School a couple of years ahead of President Obama. A former law professor, Karyn became interested in the many questions and issues surrounding interracial relationships after her marriage to her Irish American husband in 2004. After receiving hundreds of comments from readers after an essay in The Washington Post on the unique ways black Americans reacted to her relationship, Karyn decided to explore the issues further. The result is her book “Don’t Bring Home A White Boy—and Other Notions That Keep Black Women From Dating Out.” Karyn is also the author of two interracial romance novels, A Personal Matter and Unfinished Business, and two other novels.

How did you start out your writing career?

I’ve always loved writing, so in a way, my writing career started when I was a little girl. My first story was “The Adventures of Quacker the Duck” in third grade. I still have that book! As an adult, I really was unhappy practicing law and writing stories in the evenings helped me to cope with that. It wasn’t until September 11, 2001 that I decided to try to write more seriously. I realized that life is short, and that sometimes you have to gamble and go for your dreams. I started writing my first interracial romance novel, A Personal Matter then. It was published in 2004.

Have you had a "Wow" moment since you have been an author? What made it a "Wow" moment for you?

I’ve several “wow” moments as a writer, but the most significant recently was the realization that the fiction market—African American fiction in particular—was completely saturated. Too many writers, too many stories. It’s great because there’s such so much available for readers. But it’s bad if you’re trying to make a living at it, because the competition is so stiff and as a result it’s harder to make money off your writing. So about two years ago, I made a conscious decision to shift out of fiction and start writing non-fiction. Because interracial relationships have always interested me (my own husband is an Irish-American) I decided to write about why there are so many black men who date interracially… but very few black women.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

I’ve heard so many single black women say that they would “never date a white man”—even when they’re having lousy luck finding black guys who are on their same educational or professional level. I’ve even had friends who turned down successful, intelligent white men on the grounds that “it would never work”—even though the man was clearly very attracted to them and sincere in his interest—and these ladies admitted that the men were nice, funny and attractive. But they never considered the white men as viable romantic options, even with all these positives. Now the women are nearly 50… and they’re all still single, still waiting for their “good black man.”

I really wanted to understand why staying loyal to the race was more important than their own individual happiness. So I took to investigate the “notions” that keep black women from exploring the full rainbow of men in the world.

What’s playing on your CD while you’re writing?

I don’t usually listen to music while I’m writing because I love music and I get distracted by it. But I often have the television on in the background. Right now, it’s Wife Swap. I’m not paying it any attention. It’s just noise.

If you could choose to be a superhero for a day, who would you pick and why?

I really don’t know. I’ll have to ask my teen-aged daughter to pick one for me! She’s into the manga and Japanese anime and writes her own comics. She’d probably write a superhero character for me with some strange power that most people wouldn’t call “super” at all, but actually is in a weird way. I like the idea of that.

If you could be on a Reality TV show, which one would it be and why?

I was actually on a reality show, though it never made it TV. A few years back there was a casting call for a show called the “Ultimate Author” and I went for it. I made the cast and we taped about 10 episodes. We did all kinds of strange things and then had to write about them. I had fun and made some really good friends with the other authors there. But nothing ever happened as far as it being shown on television or even on the Internet. It’s hard to come up with a show concept about writing, because it’s something done alone, and in silence, and it’s boring to listen to people read their work for long periods of time!

What is the neatest place you have ever visited so far and why?

I’ve stood on the desert and looked into the eyes of the ancient Sphinx guarding the tombs of the Pharoahs. When you turn around, there’s a Pizza Hut across the street—seriously. We saw the City of the Dead—a massive cemetery in the heart of Cairo—and living people inhabit the crypts with the bones of the dead because they have no other shelter. Egypt is fascinating like that. You get the modern and the ancient, the rich and poor, the living and the dead—all jumbled together. It was an amazing experience.

If you had $100.00 and had to spend it today, what would you buy? Why?

I need a new pair of black shoe boots. Low-heeled, like to wear under slacks? Booties, some people call them. Lord and Taylor had a pair I liked for that money, but I had my kids with me and there was no point in stopping to try them on.

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

That sometimes I’m working when it looks like I’m not doing anything. For me, reading is a part of my job—I read a lot and a lot of different kinds of things. Sometimes, watching television is working. So is traveling and staring into space! Writers pick up inspiration from all kinds of things so even if I’m sitting with friends in a restaurant talking, I can be working because the conversation can lead me to something I want to write about!

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

The crime novelist Walter Mosley—whom I just love—told me fifteen years ago not to worry about selling/marketing books. He said “write what you write, as well as you can.” It was great advice and very true.

The worst advice I’ve ever gotten was to change some of my romance novels from interracial novels to stories with two black characters. Those are my worst books. All the tension was gone when I changed the male lead to a black man! Interracial stories just make sense to me—both in fiction and nonfiction.

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

Don’t self publish unless you’ve got a really good budget, lots of time and you’re a born sales person. Self-publishing works if you’re also good at business and you have a product that can be linked to an identifiable audience. Without that, you’re just one more person trying to convince “everyone” to read your book and there’s too much competition. Personally, I’d rather write than worry about sales, and that’s why I’ve always looked to publish with a traditional publishing house. I write, they pay me, and they worry about distribution, marketing, etc. while I move on to the next book.

Do take classes and join writing groups. Some of the people I met in writing groups are still my friends today. And the feedback is invaluable—especially when it’s very honest. I’d rather have a writing group tell me something sucks than get a million rejection letters from publishers before I figure it out!

What is something readers would be surprised you do?

Bake bread—and I’m not talking about with a bread machine! I’m talking about like your great-grandmother made it. I love making my family homemade bread. Smells sooo good and we skip all the preservatives in the stuff you buy at the store! We’re big on real food at my house. It’s not that we’re health nuts—I make a lot of cookies and cakes. But I make them with real ingredients from scratch. I’m very suspicious of processed food and we eat as little of it as we can.

Our theme for this month is Writing The Book. What advice do you have for staying motivated to complete the book?

Deadlines! Make one for yourself or have someone give you one. I always work best when I know a book is due to an editor by a certain date. In the absence of that, I’d get a friend or hire a copyeditor. Get someone to play “police” and demand that you have a certain amount done by a certain date. That external pressure really works.

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

I wish I could… but I’m not completely sure what’s next! I’m interested in writing more about relationships, but I’m also really interested in some of the unique issues of the black community.

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website), or you can friend me on Facebook as “Karyn Folan”.

Don't Bring Home a White Boy

IN AN AGE WHEN AMERICA HAS EMBRACED a mixed-race president and a strong, independent black woman as first lady...when black women are on the move and more empowered than ever before...there remains one hot-button topic that stirs up cultural resistance and intensity of emotion like no other: interracial relationships -- or, specifically, when black women date or marry white men.

What is it about the black female/white male dynamic that sparks such controversy and depth of feeling? What keeps many single black women from exploring relationships outside of their race at a time when the pool of eligible black men is at an all-time low?

"Don't bring home a white boy" is the cultural message stamped deep into every black daughter, an enduring twenty-first-century taboo with origins dating back to the Civil War era, the turbulent Civil Rights decades, and beyond. Now at last there is an honest, eye-opening examination of this societal phenomenon that will resonate with women everywhere and give voice to all sides of the debate. Karyn Langhorne Folan, herself a black woman happily married to a white man, brings together historical, statistical, psychological, and personal perspectives in a groundbreaking book that boldly debunks the "notions" that can keep interracial dating off the table for many women, including:

After slavery, I could never date a white man...
My family would never accept him -- and his would never accept me...
White men don't find black women attractive unless they look like Halle...
Our biracial children would have no sense of identity...
It means I'm a sellout, or fi lled with self-hate...
We'd just be too different...

Filled with real-life anecdotes from, and interviews with, men and women of both races and informed by Folan's thorough and expansive research, Don't Bring Home a White Boy is both an invaluable contribution to the topic of interracial dating and a timely handbook to help women look beyond skin color in the quest to have all they deserve and desire in a life partner.

Leave a question or comment for Karyn for a chance to win a copy of Don't bring home a white boy.

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