Thursday, June 27, 2019

Featured Author: Brian W. Smith

Brian W. Smith is the award winning, bestselling author of twenty-four novels and short stories. His novels have earned spots on the Dallas Morning News, Amazon, Black Expressions, and Target Best Sellers lists.

Brian is a fifteen-year veteran of the publishing industry. He has owned a publishing company, and is currently signed to Simon & Schuster. He is the owner of The Scribe Spot – a consulting firm that specializes in helping authors with their manuscripts and securing Literary Agents.

When Brian is not writing novels, traveling to literary events, meeting with book clubs nationwide, and running his company, he serves as an Adjunct Professor of Creative Writing at Collin College and Dallas Community College.

Brian’s educational background includes:

           Master in English, Creative Writing - 2019
           Master of Business Administration (MBA)
           Bachelor of Science, Business Administration
           Bachelor of Science, Criminal Justice

Brian is a native of New Orleans, La., and currently resides in McKinney, TX.

What inspired your book?

I've always been a huge fan of the mystery genre: from books to television shows to movies. Hell, my favorite cartoon as a child was Scooby Doo because the kids in that cartoon were riding around in a van called the "Mystery Machine" and solving mysteries.

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

I truly believe the Sleepy Carter character is one of the best literary characters every created. He has the I.Q. of Sherlock Holmes; more personality than Columbo; and he's something the Mystery genre lacks...he's the black sleuth.

Why did you choose to write in the mystery genre?

Because I love the genre and I noticed that more than 95% of the mystery books sold feature white detectives/sleuths figuring out the crimes. Other than Walter Mosley's, Easy Rawlins character or the Alex Cross character - which is written by James Patterson...a white man, most people can't name one black mystery character. I figured it was time to add another memorable black character to the genre.

Why do you think AA readers shy away from mystery?

Good question. I think to some degree the literary industry is to blame. Like I said in my previous answer, more than 95% of the characters in the Mystery genre are white. I believe that over time, African-American readers have noticed that and figured they have nothing in common with the characters in Mystery novels. One avid black reader told me, "Mystery novels are boring. That's a genre for white folk."

Why should a reader try a mystery?

Readers should try Mystery novels because they are some of the most well-written and cerebral books out there. The character development is top notch. The story lines aren't as dumb-down and recycled as those in some other genres. And Mystery novels make you think' often times, the clues are right in front of you and you miss them...that's the fun in reading them.

Which character did you have the most fun writing about?

The character I created named, Donald "Sleepy" Carter. Very smart. Very fun. And has a dark secret that serves as the foundation for the entire series.

What advice would you offer to someone whose book is about to be released?

I advise young authors to spend less time planning and saving for a Book Release Party because rarely do they give you the type of Return on Investment that will help you grow your fan base. Take that $500 - $800 that you would spend on a Book Release party and use it to secure tables at a few literary events/conferences where you can meet readers from other cities. That's how you expand your fan base and create a long career.

What does literary success look like to you?

I released my first novel in 2005. I've won several awards, made numerous bestseller list, owned a publishing company, signed a major book deal with Simon and Schuster, and sold over 100K books during my career. But in my opinion, my greatest "literary success" came in 2009 when I was laid off from a six figure Corporate job during the recession, and I didn't have to go back to work. I'm currently an Adjunct Creative Writing professor, but I choose the semesters I want to teach. I work from home - writing my own novels and ghost writing for other authors...that's "literary success" to me.

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

I can't think of any. I appreciate my journey...good times and bad. Any bumps and bruises I received along the way prepared me for the blessings and career I have today. No regrets; no desire to change a thing. Now, if I had to give young authors 3 pieces of advice I would tell them:

1. Learn the craft by taking Creative Writing classes at your local community college.
2. Understand that writing the book is the easy part, selling it is the hard part. Get ready to grind.
3. Your ego should never be bigger than your resume.

What do you do to interact with your readers?

I've been in this business for 15 years and since I first started I've averaged meeting with at least 15 book clubs across the country each year. I engage with them via Social Media and I travel to literary events to meet them face-to-face.

What are your three favorite social media platforms and how are you using them for promotion?

I spend a lot of time on Facebook. It helps me reach readers in cities I rarely travel to. I'm om Instagram, but I'm not the biggest fan of it. I have a Twitter account, but I doubt if I go on that thing once a quarter.

What are you reading this Summer?

I don't have time to read for entertainment. I suspect I'll read a book while I'm on vacation. Other than that, I'm too busy writing my own books or ghost writing someone else's book to be sitting around reading for recreation.

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

When I'm not writing I spend a lot of time with my family or just chill at the house. My days of getting "turnt up" are over. I'd rather sip on a little Cognac and watch Netflix.

Oprah always asks, what do you know for sure?

After losing family members; being laid off from a six-figure job w/out any heads up it was coming; and overcoming bouts of depression, there are two things I know for sure: God is real and prayer changes things.

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

My next novel will be the 4th book in the Sleepy Carter Mystery series. It's titled: Coffee, Beignets, and Murder. A killer puts poison inside of a beignet. The police can figure who the killer is and why the victim was targeted. But what the killer didn't know is that the victim is an old friend of super sleuth, Sleepy Carter. And Sleepy won't rest until he finds the killer.
Anything you'd like to say to the readers of SORMAG?

To those of you have purchased my books, I appreciate your support. To those of you who have never read any of my books, go check one out. Go on Amazon and type in: Brian W. Smith. I've written something in every genre: from Mystery to Erotica to Suspense...I'm sure there is something in my catalog you'll like.

To buy paperback copies of my novels go to:

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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Featured Author: Angela Henry

Angela Henry was once told that her past life careers included spy, researcher, and investigator. She stuck with what she knew because today she’s a mystery writing library reference specialist, who loves to people watch and eavesdrop on conversations. She’s the author of six mysteries featuring equally nosy amateur sleuth Kendra Clayton, as well as the thriller The Paris Secret and the Xavier Knight Urban Fantasy series. She also writes middle grade novels under the pen name Angie Kelly. When she’s not working, writing, or practicing her stealth, She loves to travel, is a connoisseur of B horror movies, and a functioning anime addict. She lives in Ohio with her gamer guy and is currently hard at work trying to meet my next deadline.

How can readers get in contact with you? 

Readers can contact me through the contact form on my website: or directly at:

What inspired your book?

Doing It To Death, just like Sly, Slick & Wicked before it, was inspired by my love of old school R&B. I heard the song on the radio one day and just knew it would be the perfect title and inspiration for the next Kendra Clayton mystery.

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

That the past always has a way of catching up with you.

Why did you choose to write mysteries?

I’ve always loved mystery novels and movies since I was kid. But unfortunately there are very few mystery series featuring African-American characters. So I decided to write the kind of book I would enjoy reading.

Which character did you have the most fun writing about? 

I currently have three series. So all my main characters are my favorites when I’m writing about 
them. But Kendra remains near and dear to my heart because she’s my first.

What advice would you offer to someone whose book is about to be released?

Let everyone know about your book. I can’t speak for other authors. But I have a hard time tooting my own horn and talking my books up to potential readers. But if no one knows about your book, no one will read it. So you have to step out of your comfort zone. I’d also recommend learning all you can about book marketing and promotion. There’s a glut of information online as well as some excellent books and classes.

What does literary success look like to you? 

For me literary success would mean solely supporting myself through my writing. 

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

1)         I wish I’d known that publishing is a business and being rejected by a publisher or literary agent often has nothing to do with the quality of your writing.

2)         Reviews are for other readers and not for the author. Don’t obsess over them!

3)         Whether you’re self-published or traditionally published, promoting your books are your responsibility.

What do you do to interact with your readers?

I interact with readers through my newsletter and my Facebook page and Twitter.

What are your three favorite social media platforms and how are you using them for promotion?

My favorites would be Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. I use them to post my book news and events. I also love sharing books I’ve read or am reading and pictures that inspire my writing.

What are you reading this Summer?

I have a mountain high TBR pile. So, I’m not sure what I’ll be reading this summer.

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

I love to travel and watch movies.

Oprah always asks, what do you know for sure?

I know for sure that I have many more books in me.

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

Sure. Here’s an excerpt from Doing It To Death:

I was busy scanning the front page of the Willow-News Gazette as I flung the screen door open to let the dog back in. So I didn’t notice when the screen door didn’t slam shut right away. In fact, I was so engrossed in the paper, I didn’t notice that the beagle had brought something in with her besides her rawhide bone until I heard heavy footsteps echoing behind the click of Queenie’s claws on the linoleum. I was so startled, I dropped the newspaper and stumbled back against the counter and stared at the stranger standing in Mama’s kitchen. It was a man, a tall, heavyset, dark skinned man over six feet tall, with sunken eyes, and grey stubble dotting his cheeks. He wore a blue warm-up suit underneath a bulky green parka, the zipped up warm-up jacket straining over his large belly, a white baseball cap, and black trainers. I couldn’t tell how old he was but if I had to guess would put him somewhere between late fifties to mid-sixties.

    “Sorry,” he said, giving me a sheepish look. He held up his hands and took a step backwards. “I knocked and when you flung the door open I assumed you were inviting me in.” As he spoke I saw the glint of a gold tooth.

    “Who are you?” I said when I finally found my voice.

    “Name’s Delbert Bentley. But folks just call me Dibb.” He took a step forward and held out a meaty hand for me to shake. I eyed his hand dubiously before reaching out and giving it a quick shake vaguely wondering if I’d just shaken the hand that was about to strangle me.

    “And you’re here because?” I let the question hang in the air.

    “I was just lookin’ for a buddy of mine and someone told me you was his lady and might know where he is. You’re Kelly, right?” He didn’t wait for my answer and started looking around like this so called friend of his might pop out of one of the cabinets.

    Was he talking about Carl? I guess he could be a friend of Carl’s but somehow I doubted it. I’d meet most of Carl’s friends and this man wasn’t one of them. Maybe he was someone Carl had represented in court or gave legal advice to when he was doing pro bono work for Holy Cross Ministries.

    “Actually, my name is Kendra, and if you’re looking for Carl, he moved to Atlanta and I don't have his number. But I can give you his work address.” Somehow admitting that I didn’t have my ex’s phone number and address embarrassed me. But it was true. The one and only letter I’d gotten from Carl since he’d moved to Atlanta was from his work address. I had no other way to get in contact with him.

    “Who’s Carl?” asked my visitor looking very confused, which made me confused.

    “Carl Brumfield, my ex. Didn’t you say you were looking for him?”

    “Don’t know no one named Carl.”

    “Well, are you looking Leonard Duncan?” I asked when it occurred to me he might be looking for Mama’s new husband.

      “Nope. I’m talking about Lewis Watts. You’re his woman, right?”

    Huh? Who in the hell would have told this man that I was short ass, processed hair having, pimp suit wearing, old enough to be my father Lewis Watts’s woman? This had to be some kind of sick joke.

    “Look mister Dubb…” I began.

    “It’s Dibb,” he corrected.

     “Okay,” I said, taking a deep breath. “I don’t know where you’re getting your information from or what kind of game you’re trying to play, but I am most certainly not Lewis Watts’s woman.”

      “My bad, little sister,” he said, chuckling softly at my outraged expression. “But you kinda looked like you was his woman in this picture.” He pulled a snapshot from the pocket of his coat and handed it to me. I stared at it suspiciously before taking it from him. Then I took a look at it and felt my face flush with embarrassment that it even existed in the first place, especially when I didn’t even remember posing for it. Actually, that's not exactly true. I remembered the pose. It was the camera I was a little foggy on since I’d been half drunk off fuzzy navels at the time.

In the picture I was dressed in a blue halter dress with a pimp hat complete with a pink feather sticking out of the brim, broken down over my left eye. I was sitting astride a Ducati motorcycle with Lewis standing next to me with his arm draped around my shoulders, while I wore a goofy grin on my face. It was the one and only piece of evidence that I had actually gone out on a date with Lewis Watts. But I’d had good reason, or so I thought at the time. Lewis had information that I needed and going out with him was the price I had to pay to get it. But I’d ended up paying a much higher price in the end as Carl had seen me getting into Lewis’s car that night and got the wrong idea. He thought I was cheating on him, dumped me, and moved away. There was, of course, more to the story but you get the gist. Impulsively, I turned the picture over and saw the words Lewis and Kelly, 1999 

Distinguished Gents Annual Pimp & Ho Ball. I winced.

“Where did you get this?”

“From the Distinguished Gents Club House over in Dayton. It was tacked up on the bulletin board.”

“Well, this is just one picture from one night. I’m not, nor have I ever been, his woman,” I replied through tight lips. I started to stuff the photo in my pocket so I could burn it later. But my unwanted guest reached out and snatched it back.

“Makes no never mind to me whether you his woman or not. I just need to track him down.”

“He’s a custodian at Springmont High. Have you…”

“Already done checked there,” he said cutting me off. “They said he quit right before Christmas. He don’t stay over on Foreman Street no more and the high school won’t give me his address.  So do you know where he lives or not?” He asked impatiently with a slight sneer. Despite his initial pretense at politeness, I could tell this was not a nice man and I wanted him out of Mama’s house, now.

“Not,” I said, then walked over to the back door and pushed it open, the cold January air nipped at my cheeks. And to my great relief, he walked past me out onto the porch.

“Well, if you happen to see him would you give him a message for me?” I hadn’t seen Lewis since our date back in the fall. But if it would hurry my visitor along so I could get back into my warm house, I’d happily comply.

“Yeah, sure. What is it?”

“You tell him Dibb Bentley’s back and I need that thing that I left at his place the night Otis Redding died.”

It was on the tip of my tongue to ask him what thing he was talking about but when I looked up into his hard, flat eyes, I realized I didn't want to know. Thankfully, he didn’t wait for a reply and left. I stepped back into the house, letting the screen door slam shut behind me, and closed and locked the backdoor for good measure. The noise got Queenie’s attention and she pulled her head out of her food bowl and ran to the door and started barking like crazy.

“Some guard dog you are,” I told her before heading into the basement to do my laundry.

Anything you'd like to say to the readers of SORMAG?

Yes! A big thanks for interviewing me LaShaunda and letting me share about my writing and the new Kendra Clayton mystery. Also, if you’re new to my writing please consider signing up for my newsletter at to get a FREE Angela Henry Starter Library, which includes The Company You Keep (the first book in the Kendra Clayton series), The Paris Secret (featuring librarian Maya Sinclair), and Trick Dice, a short story exclusive to subscribers.

Kendra Clayton finds herself once again on the trail of a killer when a case of mistaken identity lands her smack in the middle of a decades old beef between an ex con named Dibb Bentley and her least favorite person on the planet, Lewis Watts. And when their beef turns deadly, and Lewis is arrested, Kendra has a hard time turning a blind eye, especially when the evidence against Lewis doesn’t add up. But when the killer targets Kendra, and Detective Blake Mason insists she stay with him for her own protection, Kendra doesn’t know what she’s more afraid of, a murderer lurking in the shadows, or her growing attraction to Mason, who has heart-break written all over him.

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