Wednesday, March 30, 2011

FEATURED AUTHOR: Leslie J. Sherrod

Leslie J. Sherrod is a native of Baltimore, Maryland. Her debut novel, Like Sheep Gone Astray (Grand Central Publishing, 2006), earned a Starred Review from Booklist. She is a contributor to the bestselling A Cup of Comfort series (Adams Media) and co-partner of Paintbrush Poetry Original Art & Gifts ( Before embracing writing full-time, she worked as a human services professional in the mental health field and is currently pursuing her masters in social work with an emphasis on maternal and child health. A wife and mother to three, Secret Place (Urban Christian/Kensington Publishing Corp, 2011), a compelling novel addressing mental illness in families, is her second project.

How did you start out your writing career?

I wrote my first story in second grade and immediately fell in love with creative writing. While writing poems in middle and high school and experimenting with short stories in college, I never imagined myself writing a novel. When I started working on my first published novel, Like Sheep Gone Astray (Grand Central Publishing, 2006), I knew nothing about the genre of Christian fiction. But God. He began opening doors I did not even know existed and has continually shown Himself strong. With the release of my second novel Secret Place, I am trusting God to reach even more readers with a message of real hope and encouragement. Through a lot of prayer, a lot of research, and a lot of twists and turns that could rival any suspense thriller, this writing journey – ministry – continues for the glory of Him.

What did you learn while writing this book?

I’ve learned that I have more courage than I realized. I’ve learned that the life lessons I want to share with readers are the same ones I’m learning myself. I’ve learned that endurance and patience are action words. I’ve learned that God really does keep His promises; His timing is perfect; and joy really does come in the morning.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

Mental illness is something people don’t talk about. Especially in church. There are many different beliefs and fears and too much shame and stigma. There is also a lot of hurt, pain, silent tears, and misunderstanding. Secret Place is not meant to be the answer to the questions that come with mental illness. Rather, it was written with the intent to bring awareness; to cast hopeful light on those who are struggling with diagnoses that affect their day to day lives; to shine encouragement on the family members who are often trapped under the same umbrella, exposed to the same fierce elements that are darkening the days of dear loved ones. It is okay to get help. It is necessary. I want readers to intensely feel the heavy emotions of the characters and then absorb the brightness of the hope and healing that is possible.

Which character did you have the most fun writing about?

About halfway through the book, I realized that nearly every character in the story was in immense pain. I was beginning to feel traumatized myself. At that point, I went back to the beginning and wrote in a character, Deacon Earnest Caddaway, to bring some lightness and levity to an otherwise heavy story. I had fun with him, not in a bad way, but because he sweetly represented to me a few memories and traditions anyone who grew up in the so-called Black Church will recognize. Sometimes we have to get the mirror out to really see ourselves. Deacon Caddaway served as a mirror for me and made me truly reflect on what I believe about some things. And he gave me a good laugh when I needed it.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?

The only guarantees in this field are that you have to keep writing, keep pursuing, keep working - and you better keep praying! What has surprised me the most are the assumptions people make about the writing life. Um, there is not that much glamour involved. At least it hasn’t been for me. I have not expected it; and truthfully, glamour is not my goal. If sweat and tears could be fully captured in written form, you would have my novel Secret Place. But that would be a little messy, so praise God for computers (or ink pens if that’s what you’re working with) that let you turn the messiness into an organized composition. And praise God for publishers who are willing to assume the risk.

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

I love when the story takes a turn I did not see coming. There are times when what I thought were minor details in previous chapters unfold into themes or twists that I had not planned. When a story begins to take over itself, I am in a state of ecstasy. I feel a sense of completion. What do I hate? Getting stuck. I have three or four novels with 70 to 210 pages written each. A couple of them have been stuck on my laptop for years. Close to a decade in one case. One day… You know, I’m learning to trust God’s timing, so when it’s time to be unstuck, they’ll get finished.

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

1. Trying to balance a husband, three children, full-time grad school, an upcoming licensing exam, a home-based business, and a new book release all at the same time is kind of a lot to do. I think I knew that coming into this situation, but had not fully appreciated the dangerously delicate state my mind would be in right about now.
2. Courage is not something you pray for. It’s what God commands.
3. That it really truly is okay for me to be me.

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

DO: Your research.
DON’T: Give up.

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

I cannot imagine my life without writing. It is as basic a need for me as loving my family.

If you could be a character from any book you've read, who would you be?

That’s a tough one. At the moment my mind is filled with textbook material on human development and theory and medical sociology and transactional analysis (don’t even ask). I do know that I don’t want to be Freud.

When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?

Sleep. But that rarely happens.

What do you do to interact with your readers?

I have a website ( I’m also on Facebook and for some reason I’m on Twitter (have not quite figured out what I’m supposed to be tweeting). I will also be visiting some bookstores and conferences and the like this spring and summer. Finally, I am available for book club discussions in person, by telephone, or via Skype. I love to hear from readers. Email me at

Our theme for this month is Resources On The Net. What are your favorite resources on the net.

I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t Google something, so Google is at the top of my list. Between Google and Wikipedia, you can’t go too wrong. I also like because I can always find whatever verse or chapter I’m looking for when I need it.

Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

My life and times are in God’s hands.

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

I am very excited about a new three-book series I’m beginning. Part mystery, part women’s fiction, all inspiration. More details to come…

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

Mail: PO Box 9795, Towson, MD 21284

I’m also on Facebook and Twitter. And you can join my mailing list via my website to get updates as well!


When desperation leads to homicide, can healing, freedom - and faith - be found?

A Sunday school teacher turns to the wrong man for help with her family’s secrets. Following a public tragedy that exposes private pain, she is left to wonder if healing and freedom will ever be hers. Real issues, raw characters…riveting twists.

Tackling a topic not usually discussed in churches or communities, Secret Place poignantly reveals the devastation mental illness can cause within families, and offers hope for when all has gone to pieces.

Book Trailer:

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Renee McCoy is an author, a wife, but most importantly a Christian. Originally from South Carolina, she has traveled to many parts of the world. Today, she and her husband make Mississippi their new home.

Renee earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Winthrop University and has experience in different biological and chemical laboratories. Although having also been certified in various departments of human protective services, she maintains a heart to tell stories that will not only entertain, but enlighten readers to capture the message and power of God’s saving grace.

To date, she has penned three novels that make up The Fiery Furnace series: The Kiss of Judas, Confessions, and The Eleventh Hour. Also, her first non-fiction book entitled Soul Ties: Breaking Up with a Past that’s Killing Your Future is slated for a late Summer 2011 release. Her personal website is

How did you start out your writing career?

As a teenager, I didn’t really write, instead had a fondness toward movies. I enjoyed watching them and could predict many of the outcomes. It wasn’t until after I graduated from college that I began penning stories for the general public.

What did you learn while writing this book?

While writing this book I discovered how careful one must be in developing characters. Just as people have many different sides to them, the characters must as well. We, as individuals, may not open up about certain things to the general public, but to a spouse or sibling, the conversations tend to become much more intimate or involved. So, as I write, I try to convey how a character behaves at work as well as at home. And in even more revealing moments, how they pour their hearts out to God.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

With this book, I hope to get the message across that God loves us where we are. And my prayer is that it will help dispel the misconception of those who think they should be a saint before they come to Christ. In this series, you’ll read about sinners and how the light of God affects their lives. It’s disheartening to hear how some believe they can actually “get themselves together” and then come to Christ. The road to salvation in Christ is different for each person, but the destination is the same. I’ve found that many shy away from the Gospel because they feel as if they must be perfect before they approach God. The only criteria for salvation is to believe (confessing with your mouth and believing in your heart) that Jesus Christ is the Son of God raised from the dead, and to accept Him as your Lord and Savior. He never said wait until you’ve disciplined yourself into sounding saved. He simply wants us to believe and confess. If a person can clean themselves up and straighten their lives out on their own, then Jesus died in vain; and we know that’s not true. I wanted to make it plain that ordinary people who may be devout Christians today haven’t always been that way. I wanted to let readers know who may be struggling with sins of the flesh that God is indeed able to deliver. Also, that no matter what trials a believer may endure, God is right there in the midst for He’s promised to never leave us nor forsake us.

Which character did you have the most fun writing about?

I had the most fun writing about Isaiah. He’s a handsome, young man who has the desire to do the right thing. His flaws are real. He shows vulnerability that many can relate to, but when it matters most he displays strength. The realness exhibited by Isaiah is one that I’m sure many will be able to identify with at particular points in the story. I believe the reader’s capacity to sympathize with him will grab them from the very first chapter.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?

The biggest surprise about becoming a published author is the feedback on how much people truly identify with my work, in one way or another, and appreciate the literature that I took time to write.

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

My fondest aspect of writing fiction is developing the characters. It’s interesting to design personalities and put them into an unusual set of circumstances; situations that happen, but not necessarily in your own life. The most tedious part of writing is the editing. Although it is great to pen a story, there is just as much work involved in preparing a piece for publication.

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

Hmm … three things I wish I’d known before I reached where I am now:

• The importance of taking people at face value versus what they tell you. It reminds me of the passage of Scripture (Matthew 7:17-20) that states you’ll know the tree by the fruit it bears.

• The different venues in which to display my work with little to no cost.

• More about the literary industry in terms of promotions.

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

Write in your own voice, and not to be like someone else. And don’t share your ideas in detail for a book you’re either writing or intend to write with others you really don’t know.

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

That it takes time to pen something worth reading.

If you could be a character from any book you've read, who would you be?

I really don’t read much fiction, although I do support some authors. I tend to gravitate toward non-fiction pieces of work.

When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?

I enjoy watching movies. There’s something about creating characters and seeing them brought to life through film.

What do you do to interact with your readers?

To interact with my readers, I do book club meetings and enjoy book signings and answering emails. It’s personal and allows the reader to get to know me as an individual and not just another author.

Our theme for this month is Resources On The Net. What are your favorite resources on the net?

Facebook users have provided a wealth of information. Blog sites (such as this one) that offer valuable information and of course fellow writers who share links that may have helped them along the way.

Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

I know for sure that I am saved by the love, sacrifice, grace, and mercy of Jesus Christ. I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I seek to obey His commands and advance the kingdom of God. Jesus died for me, so I must live for Him.

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

Sure! The second book in The Fiery Furnace series is entitled Confessions (ISBN: 978-1-934195-54-3) and it builds on the lingering issues from The Kiss of Judas, prompting the reader to understand more about those characters who thought that if they covered up a sin, it would simply go away.

In Confessions, the driven Jermaine Grant appears to have it all together on the surface. He's young, handsome, and headstrong with the perfect job and faithful love planted at his side—so it seems. What happens when all of this is threatened by a looming incident from the past? In the midst of chaos, Jermaine unexpectedly finds himself battling a demon that seems to be the fiercest of them all.

Jermaine's number one counterpart, Nia Thomas, strives to be just as successful at her career as her determined boyfriend of two years. She skillfully juggles a double life while struggling to keep her carefully designed mask from shattering to pieces. Nia's private world is threatened despite her attempts to conceal a secret that could change her family's future forever. A heartbreaking disclosure spiral lives into a startling off course collision. The reader will discover what happens when confessions are revealed without consent and how a simple lie hurt the involved characters so much.

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

Readers can contact me via Twitter @, and Facebook @ My email address is and my website is which links the visitor to the other sites I have online.

The Kiss of Judas: A Fiery Furnace novel (Book 1 in a series of 3)

The storm of betrayal is brewing...

Justine Dasant, a beautiful savvy ad executive, walks the earth in search of something that always seems to be just out of reach. After she's promised herself that she would leave her past in the past, history starts to repeat when her current boyfriend, Isaiah Johnson, shows interest in someone other than her. Laden with insecurities, Justine makes it known that she'll stop at nothing to get what she wants ... no matter who gets hurt along the way.

Isaiah Johnson, a young, successful CEO, has climbed himself to a life of wealth. He's worked hard to open his own business and just when success peaks, Isaiah's new found strength to step out on faith drives a wedge between him and the woman in his life. Not only does he regret meeting Justine, it's a challenge for him to escape her calculated stalking.

At what cost will Isaiah say no to the world and yes to God?

Book Excerpt:

Book trailer link :

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Friday, March 25, 2011


Born in South Africa, I left when I was two and did not return until my thirties, spending those intervening years in Ireland, supposedly being educated, then in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. None of my governessses were trained teachers. None had the remotest idea about algebra, geometry or long division. When I eventually attended school, so limited was my knowledge of mathematics, the teachers gave up on me. I scored with English and essays, embroidering, history with highly imaginative accounts, mostly invented by me.

Lonely as a child, I wrote stories from an early age and could lose myself in writing. My parents were divorced, living in different parts of Africa, and I lived with my grandparents. People travelled for miles to see their world-famous gardens and the river - where Spenser was reputed to have written his Faerie Queen on its banks. Above all, it had a ghost known as the Foxy Woman, who haunted the avenue at dusk. A banshee was said to have wailed in the stableyeard at the approach of a death and there was a cave where a hermit had lurked for years. All this was grist to a childhood's mill.

I went to Kenya when I was 18 and immediately fell in love with it the moment I landed. There I met my father whom I had not laid eyes on for 10 years. Later I met Robin - we married and our children were born in Kenya. Never wanting to leave Kenya, Fate intervened, and we were posted to Tanganyika (now Tanzania) where we were confronted with the boredom of city life and Big Business socialising. Then my husband bought a boat and shipped it to the sea and we sailed and sailed.

The wheel turned full circle and we were posted to Johannesburg, where I was born and still live, near my children, with my dogs, Sabba and Ruffy.

Leaves from the Fig Tree is an account of three different ways of life, which have gone forever.

First, I wanted to capture the essence of the vanishing Anglo-Irish childhood. Ann Morrow, in her book Picnic in a Foreign Land, described the Anglo-Irish as a people ruled by the fairies, ruined by curses, and riding like Genghis Khan. They had, she wrote, 'an aristocratic lack of earnestness' and an endearing dottiness which made life an adventure. They were out-of-doors people, one suspects because of the freezing discomfort of their houses and castles! Being Anglo-Irish, I can handle bitter cold and damp easily, to this day.

Next I wrote about Kenya when it was still a British Colony. A paradise, peopled by characters with a huge sense of freedom, although change was coming and the colonial days drawing to a close. During the Mau Mau rebellion we lived in Kikuyu, in the heart of it. When the rebellion ended and Kenya gained independence, the original amazing rapport between black and white was still there and remains to this day. I never go to Kenya without feeling I have come home to happiness, even knowing the colonial days are thing of the past, when amazing characters stalked the land and no one talked politics.

The third way of life, which thankfully has gone forever, was the transfer to South Africa, arriving slap bang in the middle of apartheid, with its draconian laws, which cut off wihte people from social contact with Africans. It left one totally isolated from the heartbeat of the country. The grandeur and space of this beautful land where I was born, was marred by the feeling of volcanic pressure building up. Revolution was around the corner - but change came peacefully with independence, and the days of repression are gone forever.

How did you start out your writing career?

I started writing children’s fantasy stories for The Kenya Weekly News … and I wrote a sort of Famous Four-type book when I was about eleven, all about girls at boarding school.

I wrote a few scripts for Radio Eireanne in County Cork . Nothing dramatic, just stuff about living in Tanganyika as it then was, descriptions of dhows, and Persian rugs coming down from the Oman to Zanzibar on the dhows – just a few programmes. They brought the recording stuff down to me once, when I had a cold, which I thought was fantastic!

What did you learn while writing this book?

I think what I learned when I was writing Leaves from the Fig Tree is that you have to edit furiously. Take a red pen and just scratch out stuff that is too long winded.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

What I wanted to accomplish with Leaves was to bring together three totally different ways of living … some of it gracious; some, like the Mau Mau bits, fairly terrifying; some of it like the time of apartheid – unreal, totally abnormal. Describing life as a protected white, for instance, knowing but not knowing that terrible things were happening. Mosstly hidden. The gracious bits were

the Irish bits. Living in a beautiful Gerogian house on 20 aces of garden. All three entirely different ways of life, which were vanishing and I wanted to put them on paper … to record them.

Which character did you have the most fun writing about?

The character I had the most fun writing about was the Foxy Woman. She governed our lives - everyone believed she actually existed! There were those who claimed to have seen her and others who would not walk down the lane at night.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?

I think receiving letters from abroad – from people in other countries – who said they had had the same sort of life as I had, either in Ireland or Kenya . I was amazed they had taken the trouble to contact me via my publisher. That is what surprised me – strangers telling me my book was in the Book Club or how much they had enjoyed reading it.

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

The aspect I like most is bringing various characters to life. The aspect I hate most is rewriting, after I have spent hours on a chapter, and on rereading it, seeing sadly, that is has to be done again.

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

That I should have had the courage to send manuscripts to publishers earlier on, so that I could have learnt from my mistakes.

That I should have persevered instead of not finishing manuscripts … and that one should write about situations one knows through daily life – not airy fairy ones that one likes the sound of!

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

If you want to be a writer, DON’T show your work to other people not in the writing field!

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

I wish that non-writers would understand that writing isn’t a walk in the aprk. You don’t just sit down and turn it on like a tap and it just flows.

If you could be a character from any book you've read, who would you be?

It would have to one of the Curzon sisters in Anne de Courcy’s book The Viceroy’s Daughter because it portrays a fascinating vignette of high political levels during times of Emergency in England, in a way of life that has changed out of all recognition. It is a life style of witty conversations, glittering balls, Tom Mosley and the Windsors … Elinor Glyn, the Mitfords and Chamberlain … glamour … and the high life of the Twenties before the Second World War brought down the curtain with a tragic swoop. Who wouldn’t like to be that carefree, thinking life like that would go on for ever?

If I were to choose a character from a work of fiction, I think I would like to be the girl who had that wonderful chocolate shop in Joanne Harris’s book Chocolat.

When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?

When I am not writing, my hobbies are semi precious African gemstones – I collect them and sell them. I like to spend time with my dogs and as I am Gemini and Geminis like to communicate, I spend far too much time talking on the telephone talking to friends!

What do you do to interact with your readers?

I interact with my readers when they write to me, or come to see me, answering questions about the people in my book … where Nico (adopted son) is now, or Maggie (his mother), or what has happened to AnnesGrove and the gardens. Many want to know if I still have contacts in Kenya .

The question which makes me feel guilty, is ‘when I am going to write another book?” !!!

Our theme for this month is Resources On The Net. What are your favorite resources on the net.

I am afraid that I know almost nothing about the internet – without family, friends and the publishers to do things for me, I simply would not know where to start!

Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

Oprah always asks 'what do you know unequivocally and for sure?' What I think for sure is that our universe was created by the Great Creator. People ask what came first - Mind or Matter? Scientists and astronomers say Matter created the universe. I disagree. I know for sure is was the work of a Master Mind.

Another belief to which I hold fast is that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. No one should have power without having to answer to what they do and why they do it.

I know for sure that family and friends are the most important possessions you have. They are wealth in themselves.

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

I am doing battle with a book about gems, set in Africa .

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

The easiest way, I think, would be via Rebel ePublishers – or or Rebel Publishers, P.O. Box 6927 , Cresta 2118, Johannesburg , South Africa . I don’t have email or a website – I bash things out on an old typewriter. Letters, I write by hand.

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Blog tour with Corey J. Barnes

Corey J. Barnes is a long time native of Lakeland, Florida. Currently he resides there with his son Corey Jr. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Education, a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership, and is currently working on his PhD in Instructional Leadership and Adult Education.
Becoming an author and also establishing the publishing company CJ Publishing has fulfilled a lifelong dream for Corey as he attempts to bring true romance and integrity back to urban fiction, from a male perspective, hence his In his debut novel What Is This Love Thing All About? Corey displays that chivalry is not dead and the thrill of the chase is still present in today’s world. Presently, Corey is working on his second novel. In addition to his work as a middle school administrator, Corey also coaches high school boys basketball and his son’s little league football team. When he is not writing, he enjoys spending time with his son and working out.

What is your Education background?

I attended and graduated from Kathleen High School in Lakeland, Fl. I obtained my Bachelor’s degree

in Education, specializing in Specific Learning Disabilities and Elementary Education from University

of South Florida. I then obtained my Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Saint

Leo University. I am currently working on my PhD in Adult Education and Instructional Leadership

from Nova Southeastern University.

What’s your inspiration or who is?

My inspiration in all that I do is my son, CJ. He is the very best part of me and is the reason I wake

up in the morning. He is my heartbeat and my motivation.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

When I was a child I had dreams of either being a pro football player or a lawyer. As you can see,

neither one of them took place.

Did you ever think you’d ever become an author?

I never thought I would become an author. I love to read, but I didn’t think I would ever do it myself,

even though it was one of my goals. It was one of those things where you think about something

but know it will never be, but it has and it is very exciting.

How long does it take you to write a book?

It took me a total of 8 months to write my first book. I actually wrote the first character in 5

months, and went back and added in the 2nd, which took 3 more months.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?

I wrote my first book, What Is This Love Thing All About at the age of 32.

Whose writing do you admire most?

The author whose style I admire the most is Eric Jerome Dickey. I also enjoy Dwayne Joseph’s style.

Were you a good student in school?

I was actually a very good student in school.

Did you like school? What was your favorite subject?

I enjoyed school. I am a life long learner and look to continually improve myself. My favorite subject in

school was English, which helped me with being an author and the next subject was Math. I hated Science but did it because I had to.

Tell me about your revision process.

I usually read from the back to the front for corrections needed. Doing it this way makes the story

pretty much gibberish and in that sense, I can just concentrate on making sure that sentence structure

and things of that nature are correct.

Find Corey at:

A lot can change in two years….or can it?

It’s taken two years, but Rick Jenkins has finally gotten over Aphrodite’s betrayal and ready to live again. His professional life continues to blossom, but his personal life is more fractured than a jigsaw puzzle. At the urging of his boys, he decides to try the dating thing again, but isn’t sure he can trust again…

Reggie Young, AKA Smooth can have his choice of any woman that he wants – and does on a regular basis. Well known as a big womanizer, Smooth is taking advantage of all that stardom provides. One night at the club, Mystery enters into his world and he can’t seem to figure out her identity. When he finally meets up with her, what he thought was a one night stand turns into much more than he ever bargained for…

Essence “Candy” Taylor is owner of Classy and Sassy Hair Salon, the hottest spot in all of Atlanta. She has styled the hair of the some of the biggest stars nationwide. Candy has a major breakthrough with being able to market her product at the grand Brunner Brothers Hair Show. While doing this, in blows a breath of fresh air named Rick that is making her smile again.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. In Corey J. Barnes’ sequel to the sizzling debut novel What Is This Love Thing All About, he examines if time really does cure all. Can you ever really stop loving someone once you have done so? Can you move on from hurt and love again? All of these questions and more will be answered in the next installment from Author Corey J. Barnes, Single for the Night.


Rick – Chapter 1

Time heals all wounds. At least that is what they say. Who the hell are they, anyway? Whomever it is, they must not have ever been hurt by love. In the words of my man Lenny Williams, they must have never been in love like I had been in love.

Aphrodite was her name.
The Goddess of Beauty.

I swear that girl made me listen to that damn Lenny Williams song over a million times it seemed. In the end, it was not meant to be. Another case of a good guy finishing last I guess. Maybe if I would have dogged her out, called her bitches and whores, beat her ass, and treated her like shit, she would have stuck around.

I swear I didn’t understand women. Maybe if I was a drug dealer or a gangster, maybe she would have stayed. As I looked around my office at my plaques of appreciation and service awards from various clubs I was a part of, I guess I was looking for an answer to all the thoughts and questions loose in my head.

Why was I taking this trip down memory lane?

Today would have been my two year wedding anniversary. That is, if I had ever gotten married. I was actually surprised that I was sitting there in my over sized leather office chair at my solid cherry oak desk letting the situation consume my thoughts like it was. Especially considering how she did me. But, there I was, in the midst of finishing my presentation that I give each year as the superintendent of the Greater Atlanta Charter School system. It would mark my third year serving in that role, one which had seen a lot of needed progress and effective change during my time in the position.

In bed with another woman! Not just any woman, mind you, but Tracy!
A woman I looked at like one of my boys, like a sister. I used to pour my heart out to her about my relationship with Aphrodite on many occasions and took her advice to heart. Guess I let her in too much and didn’t guard the door as much as I should have in the end.

I’d never been the type to try to handcuff my woman.

My philosophy was that a woman was going to do what a woman was going to do – bottom line. If I couldn’t trust you, there was no need for me to be with you. Life went on, though, and I adopted the mantra that what didn’t kill you could only make you stronger. I was so strong I could lift a Ford truck if I needed to. That strength allowed me to transform the Greater Atlanta Charter School system into one of the nation’s elite, continually grading out at an A level for the past two years I had been in charge.

Due to the fact that I was not ready to be in a relationship after Aphrodite broke my heart and almost made me go to prison behind her ass, I hadn’t been in anything serious since her. At first, I didn’t think I would make it and thought about just cashing in a couple of times. It seemed that God was looking down on my pathetic self even when I didn’t think it, because any time I started to get too extreme with thoughts, one of my boys would call and snap me out of it. I started seeing a nurse named Cassandra and she was a great woman, ready to settle down. But, she wasn’t willing to wait around for my ass and I didn’t blame her, either.
Almost on cue, my phone rang. Picking up the phone, I answered with a very professional, “This is Rick Jenkins, how may I help you?”

I heard laughter on the other end and was beginning to get pissed off until I realized that I was on my cell phone, not my office phone.
“Well, hey there, Rick Jenkins, this here is Reggie Young, but everybody calls me Smooth. You can help me by agreeing to go out with the fellas and get your grown man on tonight.”

Letting out a small chuckle, I sheepishly replied, “My bad, man. I get these phones mixed up sometimes. As for your invitation, I don’t think…”
Before I had the chance to finish my thought, Smooth interrupted me by saying, “Now, Rick, you have not been out in two whole years. I know you were hurt bad by that chick and today would have been your two year anniversary, but staying home all cooped up listening to Lenny Williams isn’t going to make you feel better.”

It was amazing how well he knew me. How in the hell did he know I was listening to Lenny? Before I could respond, he said, “Man, I know you, that’s how I know.”

I just shook my head and laughed. He had me cold on that one. In the past two years, Smooth had quickly ascended to become one of the top producers in the music industry. His label had churned out over ten top forty hits with three number one hits during that time on the Billboard Charts. Amazingly, he took it all in stride and handled it all like a twenty year veteran.

Leaning back in my chair with my eyes closed and massaging my temples, I tried to put up a fight to my childhood friend. “Smooth, come on now. I am really not in the mood to be out in people’s faces.”

Not to be denied, Smooth quickly shot back, “I am not in the mood to be listening to all these terrible demos right now, but I know if I don’t, I might miss the next big hit.”

It was obvious that I was not going to win the discussion. Actually, I had been able to fight off the guys for over a year in regards to going out. Anytime they brought it up, I would change the subject and they would seem to get the hint and that would be that. I guess Smooth had reached his point of acceptance. Who knows? Maybe it would turn out okay. Maybe it would not be a bad idea to get out of the house.
With a defeated tone in my voice, I said, “Alright, Smooth, what time do I need to be ready?”

I could have sworn I heard a scream on the other end of the line before Smooth replied, “Okay, that’s what’s up. We will scoop you up around nine p.m. And, don’t come out looking all busted either. I need you to be camera ready. You never know who we might see and I can’t have you making me look bad.”

I had to laugh off of that one. “Man please, don’t even try me with putting on clothes. You know that is what I do. Anyway, let me get off this phone and go finish up this presentation so I can get out here and get home and get ready.”

As we both said our goodbyes and hung up, that frown that I had been walking around with was now replaced by a smile. Smooth always had a way of doing that. That was why we were tight as we were, he always had my back. Almost suddenly, I got a burst of energy. I went over to my CD player, took out Sade, and replaced it with my Young Jeezy and Kanye. As my theme song Put On began to blast through the speakers, I perked up and got about my business. After finishing the presentation, my next focus was on finally turning the page on Aphrodite, closing the book on the relationship, and going back to the bookstore to look for the next bestseller to take home.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

COLUMN: Are You On The Net?

Online Promotion Plan Part II

Last month, I asked had you started your online promotion plan. I know you’ve sat down and answered all the questions and now you’re ready to start setting up your plan.

Let’s get to the fun part, making sense of all the questions you answered.

1. Is your book release or information about your book included in your email signature?

Why is this important? Your email is something you use on a daily basis. This is the best form of free promotion you can have. You can be creative with it and you can change it up daily or weekly.

I will admit I’ve met many authors because of their email signatures. They announced their new book and that was all I needed to introduce myself to them.

The next step you want to take is to create a signature line for when you send out emails. You want the reader to take notice and hopefully click on the link and find out more about you.

What is a signature?

A signature is a mini bio. I've seen some introduce the author, some introduce a book, and some introduce a site. Only you can determine what you want on your signature.

Here's mine for SORMAG

LaShaunda C. Hoffman
Shades Of Romance Magazine Publisher

Sample Writer's signature

Shelia M Goss

Delilah & Savannah's Curse - IN STORES NOW

“Savannah’s Curse is an action- packed mystery with unexpected culprits. Sheila M. Goss brings readers a new side of her talent by entering a different genre. It is suspenseful with twists and turns that will keep readers turning pages. I recommend this book to others.” ~ Teresa Beasley, APOOO Book Club

There are a few rules when it comes to signatures, where you send them. If you're sending out an email to someone and not a list or forum, you're free to have as long of a signature as you like.

If you're sending a message to a list or forum, you have to make sure you know what their policy is on signatures. Some lists don't like a lot of promotion and will block your message or delete it if they think you're doing too much promotion.

I recommend keeping your signature to four lines. This gives you enough space to play with and most links and forums will give you that many lines.

For your signature you'll want:

Title of Book
Date of release
Website link (or 25 word or less blurb)

If you can html your signature, add a little color and hyper link your site, so the reader can click on and see your book or site.

Most email systems let you add signatures to your out going mail. Check out the options for your email.

See that wasn’t so hard. Your first question answered and you ready to start promoting.

Show us your email signature, leave your signature in our comment section.

Next month we will break down more of these questions to get you started on creating your plan.

Can’t wait to next month, contact me –  I’m available for private online promotion coaching.

Until then,

I’ll see you on the net.

LaShaunda C. Hoffman

LaShaunda is the creator of SORMAG – Shades Of Romance Magazine. She has 11 years of experience on online promotion, most she learned from trial and error. She has taught workshops on online promotion and is available for private online promotion coaching.

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Monday, March 21, 2011


The Retreat

Four men embark on a Christian retreat to get back on track and face tough facts about themselves and their choices. Quincy is trying to get through a divorce, but his hunger for revenge on the congregant who had an affair with his wife is halting his healing. Jamal’s unresolved issues with his son are threatening everything he’s worked for, including the promotion he’s fought so long for. Holy-roller Chauncey will do anything he can to help anyone in the church. So why has he turned his back on his terminally ill brother? And young hustler Will has finally been given a chance to change his life around…but will he take it? All at a crossroads in their lives, can they lay down their burdens and finally choose the righteous path?

How did you start out your writing career?

An English teacher got me into writing poetry and I got into playwriting after reading the Greek tradegies and Shakespeare. I entered the NAACP ACTSO competition and when I got a favorable respone from the judges, I decided to pursue a career in writing. I was all set to make my mark as a playwright when I told my best friend an idea for a play and he encouraged me to turn it into a novel. I followed my friends advice and My Father's House was published by Urban Christian in 2008.

What did you learn while writing this book?

First, I discovered my writing voice. My Father's House I was still trying to find my voice. In the Retreat I let go of the distractions and allowed the story to flow. I did not second guess myself. I also learned the difference between Urban Christian and Church drama. Church drama highlights the problems within the church but it does not offer anything that is edifying and at the end of the day, I strive to draw people closer to God.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

I hope that this book will minister to both men and women. I hope men will find the book to speak to the areas of their lives that they are not always comfortable talking about. I hope that women will have a better understanding of the struggles that a christian men endures and overall I hope that people will be entertained and fall in-love with these characters.

Which character did you have the most fun writing about?

Quincy because he is very unapologetic in how he conducts himself. His mindset is I am rich so I pay the cost to be the boss and he and Chauncey have real good scenes because they are the polar opposite of each other.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?

How much the landscape has changed and how much leg work you have to do to promote your work.

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

I love the whole writing process from idea to revisions to editing. The least favorite would have to be the promotion aspect becasue thats when you have to become a politica and instead of getting votes you lobby to get books sales.I do however enjoying getting a chance to talk to readers and book clubs.

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

How hard it is to get support from independent owned bookstores and churches.

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

Overcome rejection. Do not allow rejection to deter you.

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

The entire writing process and how much work goes into making a novel especially when you are an author that comes out with a book every year.

If you could be a character from any book you've read, who would you be?

I would be Pastor Dawkins from my story the Retreat. He is a man devoted to the purpose of fulfill his calling.

When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?

Watch movies and spend time with my wife and 8 month old son. I love friday nights because we usually grab some good food and a movie and sit there and enjoy quality time. I know my son is too young to know what's going on in the movie, but I know he appreciates being around his parents who love him very much.

What do you do to interact with your readers?

I chat with a lot of my readers on facebook and I try to be very personable when I interact with them at public events. That is something that I am still working on because I have an introverted personality.

Our theme for this month is Resources On The Net.

What are your favorite resources on the net. Facebook. I have recieved some many sales and contacts through the social network that I am in debt to it.

Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

That I would not be here without God and that every moment I live, I live in a state of grace and mercy.

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

I don't want to give away too much, but what I will say is that it will take readers on an extraordinary journey.

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)
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Friday, March 18, 2011

FEATURED AUTHOR: Ruthie Robinson

Ruthie Robinson resides in Austin, TX with her husband and two teenage children. She holds a bachelors degree in economics from Clark College and a master’s degree in economics from the University of Texas in Austin (Hook em horns!). She worked for more than a decade in the banking industry before turning her love of stories into a second career.

How did you start out your writing career?

I took up writing as a hobby and through the course of completing my first book, entered the Genesis Press writing contest and was fortunate enough to win.

What did you learn while writing this book?

That writing is something that I enjoy.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

I think love looks different for everyone, depending on who you are and what you've been through. Some of us are strong and ready to tackle love when it comes. We can receive and accept it without any problems. For others of us, it’s a bit more difficult. We have issues that get in our way. So with this book, I wanted to showcase a person who believes in love, but who is afraid of the risk associated with loving and the sometimes loss of loved ones—A person who is less willing to give love a chance again.

Katrina finds in Will, the hero, a person who can see behind her defenses and loves her just the way she is, quirks and insecurities, doubts, old hurts and fears, all of it. He gives her the support and assurances that she seeks while he pushes her to step outside of her comfort zone and learn to live with the risks that are inherent in living. This was in many ways my own story.

Which character did you have the most fun writing about?

Katrina. I thoroughly enjoyed making her different, funny, and filled with quirks.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?

I am most surprised at becoming a published author. I’m thankful, pleased, excited, but surprised nonetheless.

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

I love the freedom that writing provides to “make up stuff” to shape the outcome of events.
I don’t care for rewriting and editing but I’ve learned that it’s necessary in order to tell the best story.

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

I wish I’d known about the ins-and-outs of the publishing process.
I wish I’d known that the process is very lengthy and requires a high degree of patience.
I wish I’d known to trust my instincts.

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

Do write what you want to read.
Don't let others discourage you.

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

I don’t have an answer for that one. The whole process still feels new to me.

Can you tell us a little about winning the Genesis Contest?

I'd decided to write Reye's Gold in the summer of 2008. I was looking for something to do with my time, in preparation for my impending empty nest. I really hadn't given much thought to what would follow. I just wrote the story. I’ve purchased books for Genesis Press before and I check their website periodically, which is how I found out about the contest. I then spent more than a few weeks debating with myself about submitting it. I had plenty of angst as a first time writer as to whether my story was good enough. Anyway, per the website’s request, I submitted the first two pages, and later the first three chapters. I was thrilled to have been selected.

When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?

I hang out with my husband and children—read, watch movies, travel and hang out with friends when I can.

What do you do to interact with your readers?

Most have contacted me via my website and I try to respond.

Our theme for this month is Resources On The Net. What are your favorite resources on the net.

You Tube so far. It was extremely useful for research with Steady on gardening.

Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

I know that love is the answer.
I know that the greatest of these…is love.
I know that God is Love.

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

Lights Out is the story of Piper and Joe. Joe was introduced in my first book, Reye’s Gold. When the book opens, Joe is raising his nephew, Shane. Reye has started her non-profit and she and Stephen are still apart of Joe's life.

Joe meets Piper, a coffee shop owner, who has been asked by her father to take care of her two half-sisters, while he tries to save his third marriage.

Piper and Joe join forces to take care of their charges, and we follow along with them as they find their HEA.
How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)



Katrina Jones is Hampton Heights' reigning gardening queen, leading the city to three consecutive gardening competition championships. As she prepares for the next upcoming competition, she finds out that her spot has been given to Will Nakane, the new eco-friendly kid on the block. Swayed by his home's sustainable construction and adjacent Japanese-inspired backyard garden, the committee taps Will for what they hope is another victory, with Katrina's assistance, putting her in an even more awkward spot since she had tried her womanly charms on him with little success at a recent New Years Eve party.

Swallowing her pride and recognizing that she doesn't hold the required qualifications to be a filly in his stable of beauties, Katrina agrees to help Will. Like the flowers she so dearly loves, Katrina begins to blossom before Will's eyes, exposing a kind of beauty he had yet to find in a female companion. As Will's interest and desire in her increases, Katrina fights the same urges, worried that a relationship between them could never work out.

Will's persistence pays off, and they eventually bring their friendship to the next level, but their love is threatened by Katrina's insecurity, created by a childhood filled with abandonment, loneliness and a feeling of unworthiness. Through compassion, determination and love, Will proves to Katrina that their love can steady any storm.

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Letters From Home Blog Tour


In the midst of World War II, a Midwestern infantryman falls deeply in love through a yearlong letter exchange, unaware that the girl he's been writing to isn't the one replying.

Chicago, 1944. Liz Stephens has little interest in attending a USO club dance with her friends Betty and Julia. She doesn't need a flirtation with a lonely serviceman when she's set to marry her childhood sweetheart. Yet something happens the moment Liz glimpses Morgan McClain. They share only a brief conversation—cut short by the soldier's evident interest in Betty—but Liz can't forget him. Thus, when Betty asks her to ghostwrite a letter to Morgan, stationed overseas, Liz reluctantly agrees.

Thousands of miles away, Morgan struggles to adjust to the brutality of war. His letters from "Betty" are a comfort, their soul-baring correspondence a revelation to them both. While Liz is torn by her feelings for a man who doesn't know her true identity, Betty and Julia each become immersed in their own romantic entanglements. And as the war draws to a close, all three will face heart-wrenching choices, painful losses, and the bittersweet joy of new beginnings.

Kristina McMorris lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two sons. Her foray into fiction began in the fall of 2006 as a result of interviewing her grandmother for the biographical section of a self-published cookbook intended as a holiday gift for the family. Inspired by her grandparents' wartime courtship, Kristina penned her first novel, a WWII love story titled Letters from Home. This award-winning debut is scheduled for release in trade paperback from Kensington Books (2-22-11; U.S.) and Avon/HarperCollins (5-5-11; U.K.). Various book club rights have been sold to Reader's Digest and Doubleday, and the film rights are represented by the prestigious Creative Artists Agency of Los Angeles.

Prior to her literary career, Kristina acted in numerous independent films and major motion pictures. She began hosting an Emmy® Award-winning television show at age nine, and most recently served as the six-year host of the WB's weekly program Weddings Portland Style. Adding to her diverse résumé, McMorris is a professional emcee, literary workshop presenter, and former owner of a wedding/event planning business. Her previous writing background includes being a contributing writer for Portland Bride & Groom magazine and ten years of directing public relations for an international conglomerate. A portion of Kristina's sales proceeds from Letters from Home will benefit United Through Reading®, a nonprofit organization that video records deployed U.S. military personnel reading bedtime stories for their children. She is currently working on her next novel. For more, visit


Letter from Home
Kristina McMorris

Liz Stephens’ life was fine. She was in school for a career she thought would make her happy. She lived with her two best friends, Betty and Julie and had the perfect boyfriend. However one night at the USO would change her life forever. While attending Betty’s concert at the USO she meets one of the soldiers, Morgan McClain, attending the concert. They instantly click which kind of scares and excites Liz. They talk and dance and a harmless accident sends Liz to the restroom, upon returning she finds her new friend dancing with her roommate, Betty. Seeing this as a sign that she should forget about the feelings swirling inside her, she goes home.

Betty exchanged address with Morgan and wants Liz to write a letter to him, since she writes beautiful letters. Liz doesn’t want to, but agrees because she owes Betty who did a favor for her. She pours her feelings into the letter about their first meeting and wishing him a safe return. They send it off in hope that he will write back, never knowing it will be the start to new friendship for one of them.

This story had me from the premise. I enjoy letter writing and the thought of falling in love while writing them intrigued me. This was a time when the world was changing. Women were making life changing decisions. The women in this story had to decide what truly made them happy. Being a housewife vs a fashion designer, writer or even a life helping others.

Ms. McMorris draws you into their lives and as you turn the page, you wonder how it will end. I enjoyed the letters in the story; it was almost like reading poetry they were so lyrical. I could understand why they fell in love reading them.

3.5 Stars – GREAT
Reviewed by LaShaunda C. Hoffman

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Man Enough for Me Blog Tour

 About the Author

Rhonda Bowen is a writer and event planner living in Toronto. When not stressing over her job, she can be found at church stressing over the kids she teaches in youth class. She enjoys spending time with her family, trying on shoes she can’t afford, and enjoying life’s unexpected twists and turns.

Visit her online at

Tell us about Man Enough For Me

Man Enough For Me is about Jules Jackson, publicist by day, and promoter by night. Jules is passionate about her career, especially her after-hours gig promoting new artists. She is also passionate about her family and friends. Even though they bring a lot of drama to her life, she knows she can count on them when it matters most. But most of all she is passionate about her faith and about following the path God has for her.

While working one of her events, she meets Germaine Williams, a record store and nightclub owner who makes a lasting first impression. The attraction is immediate, but the more time she spends with him the more she begins to worry that he might be into something shady. As her relationship with him begins to break down, so do her other relationships and her career. She eventually comes to a junction in her life where she must decide whether she will play it safe, or risk everything for the chance at true love and happiness.

How did you come up with ideas for this book?

Inspiration came from quite a few sources actually. For one, I have always wanted to write stories about real things that real single Christian women go through. I believe you can remove the illicit sex and immoral behavior and still have stories that are worth telling. Come sit down for an hour with me and a few of my single girlfriends and I’ll prove it.

I also had the opportunity to work on a small project with people in the music industry some time ago. The experiences I had with those people inspired the characters in Man Enough For Me. After that the story sort of wrote itself. Of course all names were changed to protect the innocent (wink, wink).

Who are your main character(s)?

Our main girl is Jules Jackson. Everyone either knows a woman like Jules or is Jules. She’s got her life on a tight schedule, holding down a day job, running a different hustle on the side and handling the issues of her friends and family. She is used to having everything under control, but she learns that to get what God has for you, you often have to let go of what’s in your hands.

Germaine Williams is the other lead character. Germaine Williams is the kind of brother you look at and know for sure that he’s got everything handled. He is the guy who manages to catch Jules’ attention despite the busyness that is her life. This tall, dark and handsome record store owner has ambition that matches Jules’ and game that keeps her hooked. However there are secrets surrounding his life that make it hard for Jules to trust him. Fortunately he is able to look past all her trust issues and see that winning her over will be worth the effort.

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

I love the three lead women in the story, Jules, Maxine and Tanya. However of the three Maxine was my favorite to write, just because she is the one who says whatever she wants without filtering. It sometimes creates friction between her friends and it is likely to make some people blush, but at the end of the day her heart is in the right place and her loyalty towards her friends is unwavering.

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

I did some research but not too much. The novel is set in Toronto, where I live and so it was easy to draw from locations I was familiar with. Additionally I have worked in the event planning and PR industry which the main character is a part of and so, it was easy to draw on my own experience when writing about events in the novel.

What do you hope readers will learn/discover from reading Man Enough For Me?

I hope readers will learn the importance of trusting God in all areas of life and become more willing to take a step of faith for Him. No one likes giving up the reigns of control in life but without risk there can be no gain. I hope readers will also be inspired to look for the best in the people around them. When we don’t know a lot about people it is easy to pass judgment and write them off. Taking the time to know who people are inside is important.

Okay, a not-so-fun question. How important are reviews to you as a writer?

Quite important - though it takes me quite a while to build up the courage to read them! But they help me see my blind spots. Good reviews are always fun, but reviews that include criticism are the ones that can help a writer improve her craft. I am all for both. Bring it on!

Man Enough for Me
Twenty-something public relations gem Jules Jackson has everything in her life under control, and that’s exactly the way she likes it. She’s got no problem handling two jobs, her crazy friends, and her difficult mother. But she’s just about given up on men—until she meets fine Germaine Williams …

Straight-up catch Germaine is eager to prove his worth to Jules, and she falls hard. But it’s soon clear Germaine’s keeping at least one big secret. And the deeper Jules digs, the more her balancing act, and her romance, begins to crumble. Now Jules can either turn to her faith and open her heart to love—or risk getting it broken…

Purchase the Book Online at:

Book Trailer

For More Information

Visit the author online at

View the blog tour schedule at

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011


KISS #3: Put Scrivener In My Writer’s Box

by Jamillah Warner

Have you every started a book (or a long article) and found yourself overwhelmed by your ideas and your research? You were excited in the beginning about this point and that angle. So, you dove in with all your heart and all you ideas.

But then, you began to slip a little, sink just a bit, unravel around the edges, until all that slipping and sliding lead to overwhelm and complete inactivity. I’m saying, have you ever been up to your ears in research and just wanted a better way to keep track of all that priceless information.

In steps Literature and Latte! At SORMAG it is always for the love of the written word (and the reader). But a latte is an excellent companion too, a foamy, frothy delight (green tea soy latte for me).

Here’s the point. has created (and recently updated) a smart little tool for writers, Scrivener. In fact, you can ‘scrivener’ your ideas and research all over this software and the layout makes it easier to find it and reorganize it later.

Three things to like:

Research Consolidation: You can keep all your research in one software including typed notes, pdf files, references to print books and relevant websites. Plus, you can read them inside the software, this is a serious time saver.

Writing Studio: Scrivener has a split screen so that you can look at your research on one side and type in the other without having to switch back and forth. Or you can black everything out and write to your heart’s content in full screen.

Chaos Reduction: By giving you different ways to look at your information, it cuts down on the chaos and the confusion that can arise with longer literary works. These different views include a corkboard for grouping your notes, an outliner for establishing your order, text editing for typing your book (or long article or screenplay or term paper or company manual or the freedom to create your own template).

Test drive it for free. You just might like it enough to put it in your Author’s Toolbox.

Find Out More About Scrivener

BE ADVISED: This is a Mac app that comes with a free 30 day trial. However, the PC version is in beta (free for now. Follow this link to find it). It’s the perfect non committal relationship: if you don’t like it, leave it! But chances are, you will fall in love with it (at least a little).

It’s the simple solutions that save us time.


You have just been KISSED by Jamillah Warner, Keyed In Set Straight Educated & Delivered from complication. Jamillah is a writer with a passion for business. Her work is published on multiple websites and magazines including and Phenomenal Woman Magazine. Expect another KISS next month.

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Monday, March 14, 2011


I was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. I work full and I’ve always been a reader of novels, mostly romantic suspense.

As a single parent raising my daughter, I’d always worked full-time while attending the local community college and university. At the end of the day, I would often find relaxation by reading a mystery and romance novel. They were a welcomed break from textbooks.

Lies in Disguise is my third published novel for Genesis Press, Inc. My debut novel, Promises Made was released on 11/4/08. My second novel, Crossing the Line was released on 4/6/10. I plan to write several more books with compelling characters, intriguing storylines and satisfying ending, after all, we’re talking romance.

I’m a member of Romance Writers of America and happily live with my husband of 16 years.

How did you start out your writing career?

After being diagnosed with carpal tunnel in 2005, then having had the surgery, I had to begin strengthening my right hand so I could return to work. I began typing various things on the computer, but that soon became boring. At the time, I was also reading a novel that I just couldn’t get into. When my husband joked and reminded me that I’d had a stack of books to choose from, I told him, noting was sparking my interest. So I sat at the computer shortly after that and began typing. At the time, a song was playing on the radio about promises, and before I knew it, a story was unfolding in my head.

I truly let the characters for my first novel, Promises Made, direct me. I had no idea in what direction the story would take or what I would do with it when it was finished...that is, if I would finish it. Then, those characters voices started talking to me and wouldn’t let up. I found myself eager to get home and start typing away. I found I had to finish their story.

Today, my husband is as surprised as I am that that I’m crafting novels, despite the CTS. My daughter, NaTiki, inspires me to keep writing with this phrase in mind, “all things are possible with love and friendship, and the endless possibilities of past, future, and present encounters.”

What did you learn while writing this book?

I’ve learned that writing a book really is hard work. It takes time. It pulls you away from your family and friends. But at the same time, when you’re creating characters and building their storylines, you have to stay focused. Yes, sitting at a computer for hours on end can be monotonous, but as the author, you have this power to not let your readers feel that. You can send your characters on a journey, and take those readers along with them.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

I wanted to show the connective bond of family, sisters mainly. The bond of sisterhood stretches across the divides of country, a town or even several city blocks. Sisters are connected like a thread, which at times may seem fragile, but really it isn’t. The bond of sisterhood is strong and when brought together, it’s unbreakable, regardless of family friction or conflict. The link between sisters cannot be broken.

Which character did you have the most fun writing about?

Charlene was fun to create. She’s this Southern young woman who is no stranger to hard work. She has a good heart and a loving personality, so when she’s thrust into her twin sister, Corinne’s pampered life, as a conniving and vindictive woman, Charlene is like a fish out of water. She has to struggle to be what she’s not. What results are awkward situations where Charlene’s real personality and humorous side comes out, along with that Southern twang she’s been forced to keep under wraps.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?

I’m very surprised by the number of people who have told me they’ve always wanted to write a book. My response is, ‘do it.’ I can only hope those future author’s have taken heed and done just that. Storytelling is evolving and many wonderful and fresh voices have yet to be discovered.

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

I smile every time I get an email or someone says how much they like one of my novels. When I get into a chat fest about what a character did or didn’t do, it’s like rehashing yesterday’s soap opera with a friend…I just don’t want to stop.

Hum…what aspect do I hate the most? That has to be deadlines. I mean, really, a week to revise? That’s insane, but I knuckle down and do it as my husband eats peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner and doesn’t get to see much of me.

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

Sorry, but my list is way too long to pick just three. I have about twenty. So how about this, I wished I’d known that potato chips was not a food group, and that sleep really is essential to being able to function the next day. Anyone going on a coffee run…anyone? LOL

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

1. Do write it. I’ll say it again write it…write your story. That one you’ve started in a journal years ago. The one inside of you, dying to come out. Perhaps it’s the one you hear during the quiet hours of the night and keeps coming back to you, causing you to jot in down in a notepad. Whatever it is that makes you pause and you see yourself writing, write it. If you don’t write it, no one will know about it.

2. Don’t give up. Be persistent in your dream of becoming an author if that’s what you want, then be ready for the commitment of pushing your baby into the hands of the right publisher

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

That writing takes time. In saying that, writing will often keep you away from family and friends. Yes, I might miss that birthday party, but my heart is there, and LORD knows I hate to, but I just might miss a crab feast here or there…but come on, save me a dozen of the heavy, males with extra Old Bay!

If you could be a character from any book you've read, who would you be?

Alyssa Locke, FBI agent and sharpshooter from Suzanne Brockman’s Troubleshooter’s series. She was a take no prisoner, butt-kicking FBI specialist. She could interrogate the bad guy, get the information she needed then punch his lights out.

When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?

Kick back on the couch with my husband and watch a movie, or talk on the telephone with my daughter, watch ice skating or pick up a couple novels to read.

What do you do to interact with your readers?

There’s no way around it, the internet and email. I have a website. I’m on Facebook and myspace and I have a dedicated email to connect with readers. I also attend local book club meetings, as well as the Baltimore Book Festival, the African-American Authors Expo, and new this year, I’ll be participating in the National Book Club Conference in Atlanta this July.

Our theme for this month is Resources On The Net. What are your favorite resources on
the net.

There are just so many choose from, but I do like to check out other author’s websites. As an example, while previewing an author release, I noticed she had an awesome trailer. The credits listed the name where she’d gotten her collections of pictures.

Anyone having a service for authors will put it on their Facebook page. I like this because the traffic is high and you’ll get feedback from those who’ve used the service(s) or just anybody with something to say. Yeah, I like that.

Google and Bing are both great search engines for, well, just about everything from a picture of a flower to directions how to make one out of paper.

Last, publisher’s websites. If you’re searching for a publishing house, check out the various publishers websites. Follow their submission guidelines…to the letter.

Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

I can now say that I know for sure I was meant to write, although I never intended to write or become an author. It was, as they say, something that just happened and took flight. To have family, friends and readers call or email me after they’ve finished one of my novels, and say, “Wow, I loved that story…is there going to be a sequel,” gives me a sense of accomplishment that I’m able to finish things. My history has been starting a project and not finishing it, but this writing bug has stuck and I’ll keep going at it for as long as I can.

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

Okay, but only a peek…

The next book center’s around an African American woman. She isn’t what she appears to be; someone who is beautiful, intelligent and someone who has it all together. She is all of that, but she doesn’t have it all together. But she’s a master at making everyone think she does. She has a history of mental illness and she’s on medication for it. On the inside, she’s a sullen and dejected individual. She wants nothing but for her pain to stop as she struggles to function normally. She hides her mental illness from everyone around her, including the man who is reaching out to her.
Peek over :)

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

I’m delighted to hear from readers…come chat for a while. I’ll soon be uploading the book trailer for Lies in Disguise, which will be released, 3/1/11.

Readers can find me at:


Lies in Disguise:

Is it possible to live another person’s life…?

Charlene thought she could and that’s exactly what she does after waking up from a coma and realizing her twin sister, Corinne is dead.

“Promise you’ll take care of my precious babies…” It’s the one thing Corinne asked of Charlene on the faithful night she was killed. But could Charlene do an unimaginable thing and pretend to be Corinne? But how could she have known that living Corinne’s life would bring unforeseen dangers, discovering devastating secrets and revealing things about her sister that she never imagined possible?

Could Charlene step into her sister’s shoes and pretend to be mother to Corinne’s children, and wife to Corinne’s estranged and handsome husband? He certainly had motive. But would the affluent and powerful Tyler Mills do the unthinkable to rid himself of a cheating and vindictive wife? He’s first on Charlene’s list of suspects.

Can Charlene discover the truth before her deception is unraveled…or before the killer strikes again?

Could she live a lie in disguise?

…you bet she can. She has to if she wants to avenge her sister’s killer.

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Friday, March 11, 2011

FEATURED AUTHOR: Keith Thomas Walker

Keith Thomas Walker is a graduate of Texas Wesleyan University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English. He enjoys reading, poetry, and music of all genres. Keith currently works in administration at one of the city’s largest hospitals. He lives in Fort Worth, Texas with his wife and two children. Keith is the author of Fixin’ Tyrone, How to Kill Your Husband, A Good Dude, Riding the Corporate Ladder, and The Finley Sisters Oath of Romance. Visit him at

How did you start out your writing career?

My writing career officially started with my first published novel, Fixin’ Tyrone, in November 2009. But unofficially it started decades before that. I was always a creative student, from grade school through college. I published my first poem when I was in high school, and I began winning awards for short stories and essays during that time. I wrote my first book in 1996. That was a rough, street novel called Colored Rags. Try as I might, I couldn’t find a publisher interested in that book. I tried for two years, and then I think I became depressed with writing, and I didn’t write anything else for more than a decade.

I got pulled back into writing in 2006. The first thing I did was re-write Colored Rags. But, once again I couldn’t generate much interest. A friend suggested I change the whole genre and style of my stories, and I gave it a shot. I wrote Fixin’ Tyrone in 2008. A few publishers were interested, but I didn’t want to make the same mistakes I made in college. I knew that the best way to increase my changes of getting published was to produce more work, so I wrote nine books in the next two years. The outcome has been very positive.

What did you learn while writing this book?

While writing my most recent book, Riding the Corporate Ladder, I learned that sex may get the books off the shelves, but it’s the story that keeps the readers coming back to you. I believe that there’s constant competition in the romance genre. Some authors feel the need to up the ante, so to speak, to produce something that’s wilder and crazier than the current bestsellers. In the process, the actual story suffers in some cases. That said, Riding the Corporate Ladder is the sexiest book I’ve ever written, but main and side-stories are just as appealing.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

My number one goal with any book is to entertain. But while being entertained, I want the reader think about certain things. I always have a message. Sometimes the message is subtle, like the antics of a random crackhead character. Sometimes the message is more in your face, like a main character suffering an overdose. My books would suffer if I got on the soap box about things I believe in, but it’s not hard to hit your reader with a subliminal. Like if the main character uses a condom. I don’t have to say that the AIDS rate among minorities is too damned high. I simply introduce a condom to the scene. With any of my books, my goal is to challenge the reader to think about things.

Which character did you have the most fun writing about?

Lol. Now that you mention it, one of the characters in Riding the Corporate Ladder is the random crackhead I was just talking about. He reminds me of some folks I used to know.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?

The biggest… Hmm. To be honest, all of my “surprises” were negative, so I’ll tell you about the most exciting things I experienced. Like when I saw my book on the shelf at Walmart. That was one of the best days of my life. Also when I had my first book signing at Barnes & Nobles. The response was great. I couldn’t have been happier that day.

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

I love writing the most, and I guess you could say I hate editing. I don’t really hate it, but I want to be as productive as possible, and there’s no way around this fact: If I’m editing a book, I’m not writing a new book. Sometimes my publisher will ask me to revise an upcoming novel, but at the time I’ll be deeply enthralled in a new book I’m working on. It’s hard for me to stop working on my current project. But if you want to be a “real” writer, there’s no way around it.

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

I wish I’d known that it’s okay to switch my style to fit the changing needs of the industry. I got bogged down with the failure of the first book I wrote. It didn’t immediately occur to me that I could just write another book. I wish I was better at marketing and promoting myself in the beginning – actually I still need help with that now. I wish I had known that everyone who reaches out to help me does not have my best interests in mind. Some do, but some do not.

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

Don’t let the rejection letters get you down. Do get as much feedback as possible when you write a book. Maybe you know ten to twenty people who like to read. Give them copies of your book and pay attention to the critiques you receive. If you don’t know that many readers, join a book club or a writer’s guild and try to introduce your book to these new faces. Feedback from as many sources as possible is very important, especially for a new writer.

If you could be a character from any book you've read, who would you be?

I think I would like to be Lestat from Interview With a Vampire. I know Louis tried to make the vampire life sound horrible, but who wouldn’t want to be an immortal, supernatural being? Sure I’d be a monster, but I could write for centuries upon centuries. Lol.

When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?

When I’m not writing, I love to read. I also like to attend open mic and poetry slam events. Poetry is my first love. I still take the stage every now and then. Even if I don’t perform, I enjoy watching others. There’s a lot of talent in the poetry community. I love the jazz atmosphere, the artsy women, well-spoken brothers. It’s all good. My other hobby is video gaming. Each year I tell myself I’m getting too old for this, but the games keep getting better! I don’t wanna grow up.

What do you do to interact with your readers?

I interact with my readers in a variety of ways. The main thing I do is respond to everyone who sends me a message. It can be time consuming, but I figure if they took the time to read my book and look me up so they can tell me what they thought about it, the least I could do is respond. Plus I really am grateful for every one of my readers. I would feel bad if I didn’t acknowledge them whenever possible. Also I participate whenever I’m asked to be part of a discussion for one of my books. And I have a lot of communication with my readers on facebook.

Our theme for this month is Resources On The Net. What are your favorite resources on the net?

My favorite resources are,,,,,, and

Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

I know that you can do anything you set your mind to. My dad taught me that. I know that no matter how low you sink in life, you can always turn it around. Unfortunately, I had to learn that from personal experience. I know that hope springs eternal in the human breast.

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

My next book is The Finley Sisters Oath of Romance. This may be the best story about sisterhood since Waiting to Exhale. Here is the back cover blurb:

Ten years ago, Mona, Rene and Dawn were the closest and most popular friends at Finley High School. Everyone knew they would be kindred spirits forever, but after graduation the real world lured them in three different directions, and the trio has little contact until their high school reunion. The girls, now women, are instantly inseparable again, but broken promises linger like ghosts from the past. An attempt to recapture the hope and innocence of their youth leads the ladies down a road of discovery that is sometimes hilarious, sometimes sensual, other times dark and painful. And what they thought was their simplest vow, to live love to the fullest, is no easy task for the Finley sisters.

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

To learn more about me, you can visit my website My website contains information about my upcoming books as well as excerpts from my novels. My website is also a good place to find links to my facebook account and YouTube channel. You can send an email to

Riding the Corporate Ladder

Deena Newman is sassy, single, and arguably the sexiest attorney at a prestigious law firm. She’s highly competent and valued, but most of her success has come by way of bedrooms rather than boardrooms. When the position of a lifetime comes available, Deena slips into her stilettos for the ultimate seduction, but will this last rung on the corporate ladder secure her future or cost her everything she’s worked for? Sometimes passion and power carry a price, and dreams turn into nightmares.

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