Intimate Conversation with author Margo Candela

Margo Candela was born and raised in Northeast Los Angeles. She moved to San Francisco to attend college and ended up staying for a decade before moving back home in 2005. Her first three novels, More Than This (Touchstone, Aug. 2008), Life Over Easy (Kensington, Oct. 2007) and Underneath It All (Kensington, Jan. 2007) are set in San Francisco. More Than This was a Target stores Breakout Book and an American Association of Publishers national book club selection at Borders Books with Las Comadres. Her next novel, Goodbye To All That, will be published in 2010 by Touchstone and is her first novel set in her native Los Angeles.

BPM: Introduce us to your book, Good-bye To All That, and the main characters. 
Good-bye To All That is my fourth novel and the first set in my native Los Angeles. When I was trying to convince my editor (and myself) that I’d finally nailed down what I was going to write about, I told her Good-bye To All That would be like “Working Girl meets Mad Men with a little bit of Entourage thrown in.” My main character is 25-year-old Raquel Azorian. She’s floated from job to job after college and lands a temp assignment that lead to full-time job working in the marketing for a powerful media company. Once there she realizes it’s where she wants to be and works very hard to prove her worth to her boss and mentor. She has her work life tightly controlled, but her high maintenance family stresses her out. 

Raquel is the youngest character I’ve written yet and I had to tap into my own anxieties and concerns from when I was in my 20s and trying to figure out what to do with my life and where to fit my family into the new life I was trying to make for myself. All of my novels deal with family, identity and what it means to be independent. That Good-bye To All That is set in Hollywood added a level of fun and glamour, but it’s still a book that explores very relatable issues and concerns. 

BPM: Who were your favorites? Are your characters from the portrayal of real people?
It’s a given that as a writer you have to have strong feelings for your characters, especially the main characters. I write in first person so not only to I have to want to tell the character’s story, I have to understand her or him enough to make it sound believable while not sounding like me. I’m not writing about myself in any of my books. My characters have much more interesting lives and do things I’d never imagine doing in real life. I don’t base my characters on real people or people that I know. I don’t think it’s fair to use someone else’s life for my literary benefit. I’m not saying my characters aren’t inspired by real people’s quirks or traits, but I’m always careful to let the character be him or herself and give them their own life.

When I was thinking about what kind of person Raquel would be, I imagined that she was a smart young woman who’d been a chronic underachiever up until she decided to get serious about her career. Raquel commits herself body and soul to her job. When her position at the company becomes precarious she realizes she’s spent her time and energy supporting others but there’s no one she can rely on. I like Raquel because she makes things happen and, even though she’s under a lot of stress, she still finds humor in her situation. 

BPM: What specific situation prompted you to write Good-bye To All That?
I met some of the most interesting and dysfunctional people in my life when I worked in offices. People either put on a mask or are an extreme version of who they are in their private life, but they’re always playing a sort of role. I miss those interactions and opportunities to just observe people as I’ve worked on my own and at home for some years now. Lucky for me, friends were willing to share their office horror stories and some of the more absurd things they’d experienced while at work. I’m fascinated by office life and this book gave me the opportunity to imagine what it would be like to work in a back-stabbing, high stress and rigidly tiered environment. Setting it in Hollywood also opened up an opportunity to delve into about pop culture and celebrities. 

BPM: What do you think makes your book different from others on the same subject? 
My books aren’t about finding love, losing weight, landing Mr. Right and riding off into the sunset. Don’t get me wrong, I love to read books where you know everything is going to work out. As a writer it’s much more challenging to keep characters off balance and allow them to have very real flaws. I like my plots and characters to be more realistic, but I know my job is to entertain and make my novels as funny as possible. Humor is my default setting so I use it to deal with emotional or painful situations in real life and in my books. 

BPM: Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book, Good-bye To All That?
My goal was to write a funny, entertaining and honest book about a not so perfect young woman who is on the cusp of learning some hard life lessons. I don’t believe that a happy ending is the only ending to a novel can have. I lean toward hopeful because hope opens up possibilities. I also wanted to show the non-glamorous side of a glamorous industry. Someone has to do the filing and the fetching and this book is about Raquel striving to do the best job possible, find security and success even if it means failing horribly at first. 

BPM: How can our readers reach you online? 
I actively Twitter ( or @Margo_Candela if you already have an account) and it’s a fun way to reach out to readers, other authors and random interesting people. 

I’m also on Facebook ( and I’ve found it’s a great way to be part of a larger community. 
I try to blog once a week at  and I splurged on having my site,,  redesigned to celebrate Good-bye To All That. Readers can contact me via Twitter, Facebook or my site’s contact page. 

Intimate Conversation with
Aliya S. King

Aliya S. King was born and raised in East Orange, New Jersey. She is a 1994 graduate of Rutgers University with a B.A. in African-American History and certification in Secondary Education from the Rutgers Graduate School of Education.

She has held editorial positions at Billboard and The Source. As a freelance writer, her profiles, news stories and features have appeared in Vibe, Vibe Vixen, America, Giant, Uptown, Essence, CMJ: New Music Monthly, Upscale, King, The Source, Ms, Us Weekly, Teen People, Black Enterprise and many others.

Aliya S. King is the co-author of Keep The Faith, with platinum-recording artist Faith Evans, published in 2008 by Grand Central Books. The memoir, which landed on the New York Times Bestseller’s list, was also published in paperback in 2009.  Aliya also collaborated with Frank Lucas on his memoir: American Gangster published by St. Martin’s Press in 2009. Aliya’s first novel PLATINUM was published by Touchstone/Fireside July 6, 2010. 

BPM:  What makes you powerful as a person and a writer? 
I'm still working on being powerful as both a person and a writer. Right now, I'm trying to put one foot in front of the other and be the best person I can be day by day. 

BPM:  Who are your mentors? Where do you find your inspiration?
I have a strong center of writing mentors who help me when I have writer's block, questions about writing or just need to talk. I love Erica Kennedy, Paula Renfroe, Denene Milner, Jermaine Hall, Erik Parker and if I name any more, I'll get in trouble for not name them all. 

BPM:  Finish this sentence- My writing offers the following legacy to future readers... 
My writing offers the following legacy to future readers... tenacity is more important than talent when it comes to achieving anything you want in this world. 

BPM:  Introduce us to Platinum, your latest book, and the main characters.
PLATINUM follows four women, Alex, Josephine, Kipenzi and Beth. All four women are involved with rap artists and PLATINUM peels back the layers of what happens when the music is over and real life must be dealt with. 

BPM:  Are your characters from the portrayal of real people?
Yes, the characters in PLATINUM are *loosely* based on real people I interacted with while writing a story on the wives of rap artists back in 2005.

BPM:  What specific situation or revelation prompted you to write Platinum?
I wrote a story for VIBE magazine several years ago. I covered the lives of women whose husbands are in the music industry. I was fascinated at what I saw. And how monumentally unhappy most of the women seemed to be. I thought it would make a great novel and PLATINUM was born. 

I always thought my first novel would be a work of highbrow literary fiction. In the vein of Zora Neale Hurston, my favorite writer. I even picked out a wonderful title I’d use for first novel: No Tea For The Fever.

What I ended up writing in PLATINUM is a lot different than I expected. There are sex scenes I’m embarrassed to re-read. There are people who do unspeakable things. People who remind me of myself and my friends. I had fun writing this book. It’s not a book for an African American literature class. And I’m fine with that. This is THE book you toss into your beach bag this summer. It’s thick. It’s juicy. You’ll roll your eyes. You’ll suck your teeth. And I hope you’ll like these characters as much as I do.

BPM:  Take us inside Platinum. What are two major events taking place? 
Alex, a writer for VIBE who is about to marry an up and coming rap star, is juggling two projects. On one hand, she must investigate the lives of the wives of rap artists and then she is ghostwriting the memoirs of a woman named Cleo who is having sexual relationships with just about every man in the hip-hop industry. 

BPM: Who do you want to reach with your book and the message within?
I want women to ask themselves. If you were married to an entertainer and he could give you everything you wanted, how much would you take from him? Would you overlook adultery? Outside women? What if he was the only person you'd ever been with? What if you'd never had a job? It's easy to dismiss these women as foolish for not walking away. But I hope I paint another way of looking at these women's lives. 

BPM:  How will reading your book shape the readers lives? 
It *should* help them appreciate the lives they already have, no matter how simple or non-glamorous they be. There's an expression: more money, more problems. And from what I've seen in this industry--and in my own life--it's really true. 

BPM:  Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book?

I want them first to just lose themselves in a good book. I want them to end the book the way you end a good meal--satisfied and looking forward to enjoying again. 

BPM:  What do you think makes your book different from others on the same subject?
I'm not sure this book has ever been done! I'm not familiar with a book that touches on the lives of rapper's wives. Maybe I'm a pioneer!

BPM:  Share with us your latest news, awards or upcoming book releases. 
I've just finished the second half of PLATINUM and I'm eagerly awaiting news that it has been picked up. Hopefully that will be out in the summer of 2011. 

BPM:  How can our readers reach you online? 
My website is  and my email is  Drop me a line and let me know what you thought of PLATINUM. I promise I will hit you back!

Intimate Conversation with Brenda Anderson 

Brenda Anderson, a graduate of North Carolina Agriculture and Technical State University, Greensboro, North Carolina, is presently teaching in the Chesapeake Public School System in Chesapeake, Virginia. Brenda and her husband, James Sr., have four wonderful children: Shastca, James Jr., Roy and Joshua, and three beautiful grandchildren: Malik, Destini and Marquis. They attend the Mount Lebanon Baptist Church (The Mount) in Chesapeake, Virginia where her cousins, Dr. K. W. Brown and Elder Valerie Brown, are the senior pastors. Brenda’s husband, James, is one of the associate ministers at “The Mount.” Brenda can always hear Mama’s voice saying, “A family that prays together, stays together.”

BPM: What makes you powerful as a person and a writer? 
My God-given spirit of caring and compassion. I have the ability to inspire, encourage, motivate, mentor, empower with knowledge and minister to those who are hurting.

BPM: Finish this sentence- My writing offers the following legacy to future readers... 
My writing offers the following legacy to future readers on how to live, love, enjoy and understand life and death in spite of their circumstances. This legacy will help to equip them with the ability to Embrace God and embrace their struggles. I want to encourage them to capture as much as they can from their loved one (whether by pictures, video, tape recording, notes, etc.) as possible. These things will become the keys to their family’s heritage and will allow them to continue their family’s legacy.

BPM: Introduce us to the book,
Touched by Mama, and your primary message. 
This book helps you answer the question, "How do you grieve when you’re the one everyone else turns to for strength?" Forced to cope without my mama, confidant and hero for the first time in my life, I was overcome with emotions that I could only express in writing.

This book is a memoir celebrating the life of my grandmother who raised me and was in every aspect of my life Mama, Tissy Negolia Buffaloe, known as “Mama Goldie”. Mama Goldie was a beautiful small feature warm and gentle woman who beamed like a giant as she positively touched the lives of so many people through her tremendous life and miraculous death.
"She would never fight or argue with anyone even when challenged. Mama tried to find a peaceful solution to every problem. Family members often said that when she could not find the solution, she just walked away to leave you standing there looking silly. She would do anything to help everyone she met. Mama loved people, but most of all she loved God.”

Mama Goldie lived with my family and me for the last unforgettable years of her life, until she went home to be with the Lord at the age of 93. I served as a caregiver for mama and with my family witnessed the miraculous death process which inspired me to write Touched by Mama, which served as my way of healing from the pain of the death of “Mama.” 

What I planned as private reflections turned out to be the beginning of a healing process, not only for myself, but for everyone Touched by Mama. If anyone has ever been a caregiver, getting ready to be a caregiver, a child or friend who has lost a loved one who made such a significant impact in their life, my family’s story will help empower them survive the loss and celebrate the life. It transcends race, gender and generations to help people recognize the miracles and cherish the meaning of that loved one’s place in their life and beyond.

The primary message was meant to share what our family learned and experienced about why life and death are exciting and difficult phases that each of us must face. Gaining a better understanding of these processes empowers us to be better prepared to deal with them.

BPM: Share with us a few life enhancing sections from Touched by Mama. 
The unconditional love lessons that Mama Goldie always demonstrated through her treatment of everyone. She always said that strangers were friends we haven’t met yet. Whenever she shared with others, she made sure that each of them had equal amounts. Sharing was caring to her. She often told us: as long as she had a roof over her head and food to eat, so did we. She also taught us how to love others without holding any grudges against them in spite of how they may have mistreated you. This was one of her most powerful lessons in life.

BPM: What prompted you to create this book now? 
This book was actually written as a means of personal healing and a release from my hurt/pain from Mama’s death. What I thought was going to be a private written expression for the release of my pain; God inspired it to be not only a healing but teaching moment to empower families all over the world. It is much needed because of the hurt that we all have suffered from the death of a loved one and the increasing roles of caregivers which many start out as children of a parent and end up as a parent of a parent.

BPM: What issues in today's society do you address in the book? 
How to deal with death and the role of a caregiver. Many times caregivers are unprepared and inexperienced in what is known or expected of them. This is uncharted waters for many.

BPM: What impact will this book have on the community of readers? 
It will give the reader a view of our experience and how our family dealt with the circumstances at hand. It also opened our eyes to different methods and resources available to assist families and caregivers. 

BPM: What was your primary quest in publishing this book? 
The book started out as a personal release and way of healing for me, but it turned into a God inspired guide on how to live and transition gracefully.

BPM: Who did you write Touched by Mama for? 
I wrote this for my personal healing and God turned it in to a public witness of his goodness. Why? I had just dealt with the death of my grandmother who raised me and I needed a way to get over the hurt and pain of her death.

BPM: What message in your book do you want readers to share with others? 
Death is the beginning and not the end. There are miraculous experiences that can be gleaned from these moments that we miss due to the hurt and pain we are going through.

BPM: What do you think makes your book different from others on the same subject? 
It allows family members to relate to the book in such a manner that they can visualize themselves in the midst of the book looking through our lenses at their situation. It inspires, encourages and allows each reader to embrace their struggle.

BPM: How can our readers reach you online?
My email is  and we have a Facebook discussion group titled: Touched By Mama. 

"Brenda Anderson writes with unflinching honesty and and clear-eyed compassion. I was brought to tears, and was touched by Mama, too."  — Jessica Tilles, Award-Winning Publisher and Best-Selling Author of Loving Simone 

Touched by Mama by author Brenda Anderson
Xpress Yourself Publishing, June 1, 2010
ISBN-10: 0-9845273-3-8 | ISBN-13: 978-0-9845273-3-5


Intimate Conversation with Lutishia Lovely

Lutishia Lovely is the bestselling author of the Hallelujah Love Series, and The Business Trilogy debuting in 2011. A lover of words in almost any format, she is also an accomplished actor, and former radio DJ and talk show host. When not writing, she herself enjoys a good book, along with traveling to exotic destinations and cooking vegan cuisine. Lutishia enjoys spending time with family and friends in metropolitan Los Angeles. 

BPM: What makes you powerful as a person and a writer? 
What makes me powerful both as a person and a writer is the freedom I get from a close relationship with Spirit. The absolute belief that at any given moment I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, doing exactly what I’m supposed to do, is very liberating. This truth gives me the ability to be myself, and fearlessly write what my characters are telling me about their lives. 

BPM: How much of what you write reflects on your outlook on life? 
I think in the sense that my writing is free-spirited and uninhibited, with storylines that embrace a diverse set of viewpoints from a variety of people-types, my work reflects how I think and live. However, when it comes to some of my beliefs, my more judgmental Hallelujah Love characters might think I need Jesus! :) 

BPM: What do you think of the increasingly fortuitous sex in African American literature? 
I think what we read is a reflection of life. As casual, meaningless sex has increased in our culture and our world, so too has it increased in our novels. It’s true that sex sells, but that doesn’t mean you can just throw together a bunch of body parts, positions, grunts and groans and call it a day! Readers are becoming more discriminating, and the overcrowded literary playing field calls for authors to step up their imaginary game. I love to write (and read) intimate scenes, but only when they have a purpose in the storyline and are tastefully done. Having said that, “taste” is in the eye of the beholder. Some people view my work as obscene, and what might seem ridiculous to me could be what someone else just tried last night! In my work, I try and present what is supposed to be a sacred and giving act between two people who love each other in a way that brings beauty to the art of lovemaking…and a tingle or two to the one reading my words! 

Heaven Forbid catches readers up on several past characters in the Hallelujah Love series including Stan and Passion Lee, Princess Brook and Kelvin Petersen (all from A Preacher’s Passion), as well as series regular Mama Max and her husband, the Reverend Doctor Pastor Bishop Overseer Mister Stanley Obadiah Meshach Brook, Jr. 

BPM: What specific situation prompted you to write Heaven Forbid
Heaven Forbid wasn’t so much prompted by a specific event as it was by readers asking what was going on with so-and-so or such-and-such. And it was amazing how as I began to type, the characters let me know exactly what had been happening. Believe it or not, we writers don’t always know, and are often just as shocked as you are! ::smile:: 

BPM: Take us inside Heaven Forbid. What are two major events taking place? 

Heaven Forbid, book number six in this ongoing series, begins with Gospel Truth Church, a congregation first introduced in Reverend Feelgood, having hired a new pastor, Mama Max’s husband, Reverend Doctor Brook. He’s invited Passion Lee’s husband, Stan, to Palestine, TX, to conduct a revival because the members of GT are not trying to abide by his stringent, Christian philosophy and suffocating rules. What neither the reverend doctor nor Mama Max know, is that something else needs reviving—Stan’s marriage, or more specifically, his libido… 

BPM: Who are your favorites? Are your characters from the portrayal of real people? 
I could never pick a favorite among my characters, but I enjoyed this storyline that featured “seasoned” individuals. Seventy-something Mama Max is probably a combination of every older, wise-cracking, wisdom-spouting woman I’ve ever known, including my own mother, aunts and grandmother, and the older women in the church where I grew up. 

BPM: What role do you give the "mean-spirited" characters? Do you have such characters? 
Hum, good question, Ella! There were definitely some people whose motives were suspect in my last book, Reverend Feelgood, but in this one, each person is too absorbed in their own drama to create much for anybody else. 

BPM: What do you think makes your book different from others on the same subject? 
Ella, if there are any other books out there like mine, I haven’t read them! I think this series, blatantly combining sex and religion, is a new twist in the literary mix! Yes, there are other books involving drama in the church, but I think my work pushes envelopes that heretofore have not been opened. The storyline in Reverend Feelgood is unique, and if any other novel in this genre has touched upon what Mama Max ultimately discovers about her conservative pastor husband, y’all let me know! 

BPM: Share with us your latest news, awards or upcoming book releases. 
I am blessed to have a full plate, and am really excited about The Business Trilogy, a new series that debuts in 2011. While I plan to write Hallelujah Love as long as people want to read it, it is refreshing to write a totally different storyline. This trilogy deals with the Livingstons, the Atlanta-based owners of a soul food dynasty. The first book, All Up In My Business, has all things Lovely—drama, humor, inspiration, multiple main characters and a layered storyline—happening in the food industry instead of the church. I’m also appearing in my first anthology, along with Cydney Rax and Michele Grant, and that novella was very fun to write. 

Lastly, I’m thrilled to be heading to Detroit, Michigan in October for my first panel discussion sponsored by a library. I’m so thankful for these institutions and what they mean to our communities. At various times in my life, libraries have for me been a lifeline. I am honored and humbled that my books are now on their shelves. 

BPM: How can our readers reach you online? 
I can be contacted through my website,, or through Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Shelfari and other sites, all via the end tag — Lutishia Lovely.

Visit with Lutishia at: http::// 
Follow me on Twitter: http:://  

Reverend Feelgood-Available Now!
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Intimate Conversation with Trice Hickman

Trice Hickman, is the award-winning, bestselling author of Unexpected Interruptions, and Keeping Secrets & Telling Lies.  Prior to writing, she worked in management positions for both corporate and non-profit organizations. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Winston-Salem State University, and a Master of Arts degree from Wake Forest University. She lives in Washington, DC, and is currently working on her next novel. 

BPM: What makes you powerful as a person and a writer?
I believe what makes me powerful as a person is my love and respect of my fellow man, and what makes me powerful as a writer is my love of the written word. My love of my fellow sisters and brothers allows me to more fully realize the human condition that connects us all, and that in turn enables me to pen the stories I write, which I hope resonates with readers in a visceral way. I love the written word because it is solid and lasting. A well-written story with fully developed characters and an interesting plot can take the reader out of their every day existence, allowing them to escape into an alternate one while still examining very real issues.

BPM: How much of what you write reflects on your outlook on life?
A lot of what I write reflects my outlook on life. Like me, I think most people want and struggle with the same things--love, happiness, security , balancing work and family, and striving for a better life. I write about those things, and I add a twist to shake things up.

BPM: Who are your mentors? Where do you find your inspiration?
I'd have to say my mentors are the women in my family who have come before me. My maternal grandmother (God rest her soul), was a great lady who showered everyone around her with love, and my mother is one of the best human beings I know. She's a cancer survivor, and she's a fierce warrior. I've learned so much from watching how she handles life. I find inspiration from both of them.

BPM: What do you think of the increasingly fortuitous sex in African American literature? 
Sex is a natural part of life, and because the characters we create represent real people I think it is fitting to include intimate scenes in a story. But, writing sex scenes just for the salaciousness of it can cheapen the story. If it is germane to what's going on with the characters and it occurs in an authentic way, a good sex scene can heighten the connection readers feel between the characters involved. 

BPM: Finish this sentence- My writing offers the following legacy to future readers... 
My writing offers a legacy of well-written, thought-provoking stories that feature multi-ethnic characters who wrestle with the human frailties and their place in the world.

BPM: Introduce us to Playing the Hand You're Dealt and the main characters. 
Playing the Hand You're Dealt, is the story of two women who are best friends who happen to be complete opposites. Emily's a "good girl" who plays by the rules and does all the right things. Samantha's a rebel who does what she wants without a second thought. Yet, despite their glaring differences they share an unwavering bond that ties them closer than blood sisters. But their long-standing friendship is tested when one friend sleeps with the other friends father!

BPM: Who are your favorites? Are your characters from the portrayal of real people?
Wow, that's a tough question to answer because I love so many of the characters in this book. But, if I have to pick my favorites it would be the two main characters; Emily and Samantha because they grow along the journey they take from the first page to the end of the last chapter. I'm careful not to write directly about people that I know, however, my characters are a combination people, observations and my very vivid and wild imagination!

BPM: What was the most powerful chapter in Playing the Hand You're Dealt?
When Samantha realizes that her best friend is having an affair with her father and she confronts them.

BPM: What role do you give the "mean-spirited" characters? 
Oh, yeah! I have "mean-spirited" characters in all my books. As one of my characters in Playing the Hand You're Dealt, says, "There are some people who walk this earth with a rotten spirit through and through." It's a sad commentary, but it's also true. The role of these "mean spirited" characters is to present challenges to the good people around them. And those challenges make the protagonist tap into their inner-strength, which helps them to persevere in the face of adversity. I think that's something we can all relate to.

BPM: Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book?
As with all my novels, this one evokes the theme of the redemptive power of forgiveness. This story also demonstrates that it's not about what happens to you in life, but rather, how you recover from it.

BPM: How can our readers reach you online?  
I love connecting with readers and book clubs! They can reach me several ways; through my web site at,  on Facebook at  on Twitter at  or simply by dropping me an email at  I promise to get back to you!

Intimate Conversation with Ci Ci Foster

Ci Ci Foster can be labeled as a true “Wonder Woman.” The multi-talented Chicago native’s unparalleled creativity, and unrelenting passion for entertainment has been instrumental in providing her with diverse opportunities in the film, modeling and publishing industries. Foster co-owns Flower Goddess Productions, a production company dedicated to developing and highlighting strong roles for women and actors of color. She currently lives in Los Angeles and is currently working on her second novel, Hollywoodn’t

BPM: What makes you powerful as a person and a writer? 
My spirit makes me a powerful person. I’ve always believed anything is possible with hard work. As a writer, I don’t know if I consider myself powerful yet. That comes with years of practice. I am certainly working towards that. 

BPM: Who are your mentors? Where do you find your inspiration?
I am a huge fan of the late Be Be Moore Campbell and Eric Jerome Dickey. Both of these writers have an impressive body of work. I find my inspiration in the beauty around me. Most of the time nature provides me with the clarity I need to write.

BPM: Finish this sentence- My writing offers the following legacy to future readers...
My writing offers the following legacy to future readers: the truth about the issues that all women, especially African American women, may face at some point in their lives, or in the lives of people that they know. Infidelity, abuse, fear, shame… I bring all of these issues to the forefront hoping to empower, entertain and educate my readers.

BPM: What specific situation or revelation prompted you to write your book? 
There wasn’t a specific situation or revelation that caused me to write ‘Sunny Rain’. I began writing as a hobby. Sunny Rain came about because I wanted to tell an entertaining story that women could relate to. 

BPM: Take us inside the book, Sunny Rain. What are two major events taking place?
There are many dramatic events that take place throughout the book, but two major ones consist of Natalie’s struggles with her marriage and her past issues as a child. The other major event involves Monica’s issues with self-worth and and getting over the hurt and shame that plagues her.

BPM: Introduce us to your main characters in Sunny Rain
Natalie Ellis, Monica Davis, and Leslie Morgan are the main characters in ‘Sunny Rain’. Natalie is the one who seems to have it all together. What her friends don’t know is she is very good at burying her problems. 

Monica is the reserved one who constantly seeks approval from others. Leslie is the social butterfly out the group. She loves men and the idea of having them lust after her. 

BPM: Who were your favorites? Are your characters from the portrayal of real people? 
It’s really hard to pick a favorite; I like certain personality traits from each of them. I can relate to Natalie being a family oriented woman trying to find a balance between work and home life. I like Monica’s never give up spirit. She grows the most through this novel. I enjoy the lusty side of Leslie. She is just having fun. I did use a few traits from people I know to shape and mold these characters.

BPM: Who do you want to reach with your book and the message within? 
I want to reach women who may be experiencing some of the same situations as the characters in the book. I want them to know they are not alone and by making the right choices they can lead better lives.

BPM: How will reading Sunny Rain shape the readers lives?
My sincere wish is that Sunny Rain will give readers hope that they can overcome tragic life situations by making strong, empowering decisions and having trust and faith within themselves. It will also help them see marriage and relationships differently, and learn that there are some good men out there.

BPM: What are some of their specific issues, needs, or problems addressed in this book? 
My book touches on several issues such as, betrayal, infidelity, sexual abuse, and sexually transmitted diseases.

BPM:  What was the most powerful chapter in the book, Sunny Rain
It’s hard to discuss what I feel is the most powerful chapter in the book without giving away too much. I will say this; it turns out differently than most would expect. 

BPM: What do you think makes your book different from others on the same subject? 
My book is different from others with the same subject because the characters are true to life. I really tried to think outside the box and put a fresh spin on a similar storyline.

BPM:  Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book? 
I hope readers will gain the understanding that we all have our own set of problems that we deal with on a daily basis. No matter what the issues are in our lives, action is the most important step to making it through. And, when you find that inner strength, you will become a stronger person all around.

BPM:  How can your readers reach you online? 
Readers can contact me via my website  I am also on Facebook, Myspace and Twitter. 

Intimate Conversation with J.J. Michael

J.J. Michael is a numerologist, blogger and author who resides in Washington, D. C. She writes both non-fiction and fiction metaphysical/spiritual books: eBook Path to Truth: a Spiritual Guide to Higher Consciousness and Life is Never as It Seems and It’s Not Over Yet (Genesis Press). Her latest release is Secrets Unraveled, (Pathtotruth Press, May 2010).

BPM: What specific situation or revelation prompted you to write Secrets Unraveled?
I had received many emails from readers asking me about one specific character that appeared in the first two books, Margaret Johnson Pierce, the mother of the main protagonist, Lindy Johnson Lee. Readers wanted to know if Margaret was "crazy" or just a "drama queen." Based on those letters, I decided to write Margaret's story.  Secrets Unraveled takes you not only on a fictitious journey, but touches on such topics as colorism, social injustices, discrimination, mental illness, parapsychology and religious superstitions. These are the elements that make up Margaret's life story.

Synopsis of Secrets Unraveled:
"Please go away,” Margaret Johnson Pierce pleaded with the voice inside of her head as she covered her ears with her hands, trying to block out the obscenities being hurled at her. But there was no getting away from it, just as there was no way she could escape from her husband, Pastor Alan Pierce, who knows her deepest secret. Margaret's life is full of secrets that she can’t run from anymore. But who can she turn to—the new psychiatrist trying to make her believe the voice is from another dimension, the daughter who she hasn’t seen in years or the young new assistant minister of the church who has his own plans for the church and her. Margaret’s faith and survival are put to test as her life takes twists and turns that she didn’t see coming. 

"A gripping story of madness and salvation that will have you reading through the night." -- Karyn Langhorne Folan, author of Don’t Bring Home a White Boy (And Other Notions That Keep Black Women from Dating Out).

BPM: Do your books fall into the paranormal genre or more than one genre?
All of the books would definitely fit nicely into this category. However, there are no vampires or werewolves, but angels and demons have major roles. Additionally, one or more of the main characters have psychic abilities. Although I let my imagination run wild, the majority of the paranormal events described in my books are realistic. I put a lot of time in my characters making them authentic, and I use factual information about their paranormal abilities that add to their credibility. I want my readers to learn about metaphysics and the occult. There are so many people that have paranormal experiences such as ESP and clairvoyance but they think something is wrong with them or it is against their religious beliefs, and therefore they suppress them. Hopefully, my books will shed some light on the truth about the paranormal and spiritual laws. 

BPM: Introduce us to your main characters in Secrets Unraveled.
Margaret Johnson Pierce is the first lady of the prestigious Mt Olive Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. I'm sure you'll find her quite fascinating, but don't be surprised if she says or does a few bizarre things that are not sociably acceptable. At her father's funeral she tried to open his coffin and crawl inside with all the TV cameras on her. Of course, she became the talk of the town, but that was nothing compared to what she did to her husband, the Senior Pastor of the church. Is Margaret schizophrenic or a gifted psychic? That's what everyone wonders. Margaret had been hearing voices since she was a child. Her story of thirty years of family secrets and scandals climaxes in a sensational courtroom hearing. 

BPM: What are some of their specific issues or problems addressed in this book? 
A very strong issue in Secrets Unraveled is the main character’s relationships with her father, daughter, and the men in her life. Sometimes Margaret is the victim and other times she is the abuser. Besides the dynamics of human relationships two other strong issues are colorism and women’s inequity. Margaret’s belief that her family is better than others, because of their fair-skin and straight hair, was instilled in her from childhood. The reader will see how this belief played a major role in her life decisions. By the time the readers read the last book, Secrets Unraveled, they will understand the origin of colorism and how it still keeps the African American community divided. Margaret has a dream to become a minister. But she is constantly denied her dream by the men in her life and societal rules. I don’t want to give the story away, but Margaret learns against all odds what she must do to obtain her goal. Margaret’s life is an excellent example of the issues women face in today’s world. 

BPM: Can you enlighten our readers on your work as a numerologist? How does it influence and/or enhance your work as a writer? 
When you read my books, you will always find a thread dealing with numbers. You will see 444 a lot in the books, meaning angel time. My characters have birthdates and I have done their numerology charts. I tend to stay within their personality traits as I write about their escapades. Margaret Johnson was born on July 7.  As a Cancer, she is a water sign, and her ruling planet is the Moon. Cancerians run the entire gamut of human emotions, which clearly Margaret demonstrates in the book. On a personal note, I decided to drop my full name and just use my initials, J.J., based on the numerical vibration of the two letters (11), which means a teacher of light work and they are an alliteration. The titles of my books are also done according to numerology.   ISBN-10: 0615359019   |   ISBN-13: 978-0615359014 

BPM: How can our readers reach you online? Share with us your online contact info.


Ten percent of book proceeds are donated to Neurofibromatosis Inc. and Hydrocephalus Association in honor of my son, Antoine Aparicio (1984-2001). 

New Inspirational Read for Young Girls
No Longer Daddy's Little Girl

Born in Memphis, TN, Aarica Jihan Blackett is a visual artist and the author of the book No Longer Daddy’s Little Girl. The inspiration for writing No Longer Daddy’s Little Girl came to her while in the middle of rebuilding her relationship with her father while in college. She wanted to share her experience and lessons learned to other young girls who were going through similar experiences of growing up without a father.

Aarica is also the founder and artist of her company Art Pieces of a Dream, which is the company that encompasses all of her visual artistic products. Aarica earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics with a minor in French from Spelman College in 2008. She is an active Big Sister in the Big Brothers Big Sisters Organization of Atlanta, and she is a board member of the Express Yourself School of the Arts organization. Visit the author at her website for more information: 

The new book, No Longer Daddy’s Little Girl, gives young girls who are growing up without a father in the household a new sense of perspective and responsibility for their own future.  In 2008, 51% of African-American households in the United States were fatherless. The odds are stacked against children in single mother households from the onset. Children raised in these homes are:

• 63% more likely to commit suicide than their dual parent counterparts
• 71% more likely to drop out of high school than their dual parent counterparts
• 111% more likely to become pregnant as a teenager than their dual parent counterparts
• 164% more likely to be a single parent than their dual parent counterparts

Is this the only future that fatherless daughters have to strive for?
This book, No Longer Daddy’s Little Girl, will encourage young girls to take responsibility for their future by respecting themselves, their bodies, and their family. With the growing number of fatherless African-American households in the United States the author, Aarica J. Blackett, sees it as her responsibility to reach out and help where possible.

This book has three attributes that will make readers take notice:
• written for young girls by a young woman
• shares the experiences of other young women in this situation
• reads like a conversation as opposed to a dissertation so that the intended audience can readily digest the information

The author’s father abandoned her and her brother for six years while he tended to the needs of his new wife and new son. 
No Longer Daddy’s Little Girl is the author’s opportunity to share the diverse lessons she has learned. These lessons touch everything from forming healthy relationships with men to managing her emotions when her father made his reappearance. The combined experiences of the author and other young college women will empower all young readers to love themselves and triumph through adversity. The book No Longer Daddy’s Little Girl is available for purchase on the book’s website, To contact the author, please email her at 

BPM:  Who are your mentors? Where do you find your inspiration?
A:: I have been blessed to have a great number of mentors in my life. My mentors usually are strong individuals who have creative mindsets. I love to see people make their passion their purpose in life to help others. My inspiration from this book truly came from my grandparents. They taught me the importance of forgiveness and the impact that it will have on one’s life.

BPM:  Finish this sentence- My writing offers the following legacy to future readers... 
A:: …that you are certainly not alone in this world. Everyone has a story to tell and everyone is looking to hear someone’s story. Share your experiences with others in order to help them in their situation.

BPM:  What specific situation or revelation prompted you to write your book?
A:: After being fed up with being caught in the middle of trying to convince my mother of my loyalty to her and attempting to rebuild a relationship with my father, emotions just came out of me from every point of my body. As tears were rushing down my face and anger filled my veins, I started writing down everything that I was feeling. Every thought, every tear, every scream, every pain was written down in my journal that night. The next day, I returned to my journal in order to comprehend the thoughts that were running on my head. As I was reading, I realized that I had a story to tell. Too many young girls go through this, and no one is there to tell their story from one young girl to another.

BPM: Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book?
A:: I want young girls in any and all situations to know that despite the negative statistics that face you, you have the strength inside you to fight it. Be the exception to the statistic! In addition to that, forgiveness is a very important lesson with this book. It is important to forgive people in life because it provides closure and builds your character. It takes too much energy to hold a grudge against someone, especially when you can forgive and move on. 

BPM: What do you think makes your book different from others on the same subject?
A:: This book has a very unique take on this prevalent topic of daughters growing up without fathers. This book has three attributes that will make readers stand up and take notice:

· written for young girls by a young woman (written at the age of 20 years old)
· shares the experiences of other young women in this situation
· reads like a conversation as opposed to a dissertation so that the intended audience can readily digest the information

BPM:  The cover of the book is very bright and different. Where did you ever find this image?
A:: Well besides writing, I am also a visual artist. I paint positive images of African American women. The cover art was inspired by the art work of Picasso. I wanted to convey the feeling of change over time, as well multiple emotions being captured within one person. To see some other pieces of my artwork, visit my website at 

BPM: How can our readers reach you online? Share with us your online contact info. 
A:: The book is available for purchase on the book’s website, , as well as on and Readers can email me at 

Aarica J. Blackett
Book Website: 
Art Website: 

No Longer Daddy's Little Girl, Author  


Intimate Conversation with Noni Carter 

As a nineteen year old upcoming sophomore at Harvard University, Noni Carter has recently published her first novel entitled Good Fortune, a slave narrative published by Simon and Schuster. She has been featured in many articles and has been afforded the opportunity to spread inspiration and carry a powerful message of striving towards goals and learning from history to many different schools in both the Atlanta and Boston areas including elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, and even a few colleges. 

Cornell West has publicly endorsed Noni’s novel saying that her greatness has already manifested. She has been touted the next Alex Haley of her generation because of her historical fiction slave narrative story.

Noni has also been trained as classical piano, a journey she began at the tender age of four. She graduated from high school in the top five percent of her class, spending the last two years of her high school experience as a full-time student at Clayton State University. Noni maintains a high GPA. She hopes to concentrate (or major) in history and literature with a focus on postcolonial studies and its intersection with African studies.

Introduction:  Good Fortune 

Good Fortune is an inspiring story of an African-American slave woman in the early 19th century. Brutally kidnapped from her African village and shipped to America, Ayanna Bahati struggles to come to terms with her new life as a slave. Rising from the cotton fields to her master’s house, Ayanna is threatened by the increasingly dangerous world of the plantation. Risking everything, she escapes and makes her way north to freedom and an education, but can she shed the chains of her harrowing past to live the life she has longed for?

She struggles with the concept of emancipation verses freedom, praying for miracles to manifest in her life, and finally understanding the importance of her homeland, engrained into her soul through her name: BAHATI, or Good Fortune.

A stirring debut novel from a young talent, Good Fortune traces one girls’ journey from slavery to liberation, and details how she finds her true self along the way. Through this account of Ayanna’s journey through slavery; through her dreams of honest freedom; through her aspirations; and through her love, sorrow, pain, joy, readers will find that Good Fortune will inspire and stimulate many to keep the memory of these ancestors alive.

Ella:  Noni, what makes you powerful as a person and a writer? 
I have a commitment to make every experience in life a spiritual one. I try to seek out myself in other people- to share with, and understand others by recognizing people as reflections of love. I carry these concepts into my writing- I try to connect with my readers, and impart certain aspects of life I wish to share with them through my character’s eyes. Within that- in delighting the mind, but really reaching to touch the heart (like some of my favorite authors do so beautifully and eloquently)- I feel, as a writer, very powerful.

Ella:  Who are your mentors? Where do you find your inspiration?
I have many mentors who influence different aspects of my life. For example, in writing, I consider individuals such as Zora Neale Hurston to be mentors. I turn to people who have the ability to share stories like I aspire to do. There are also people who have been a significant part of this writing and publication process, such as Kwame Alexander, who have played key roles in this journey of mine. There are, of course, the mentors that have significantly shaped me into who I am today. There are the teachers who have played important roles in my life, my sisters, my parents, most definitely, and the person I look up to- my brother.

Lastly, I have found over the past couple of years that there is a mentor inside of me that plants seeds of inspiration, that invites my ancestors into my space to move me forward, that pushes me to more challenging places, teaching me to let go of fear in writing, in creating, and in living my life! 

Ella:  Introduce us to your main characters in Good Fortune.
In Good Fortune, I would say there are five main characters- Anna (or Sarah, or Ayanna), John, Daniel, Mary, and Mama. These characters, all representing family in one aspect or another, shape and carry the plot of the book.

Ella:   What specific situation or revelation prompted you to write your book?
When I was around twelve years old, my great aunt sat my family members and I around our kitchen table and began telling us stories in our family’s history. Now at the time, I was a writer, and a young person very passionate about learning my history and the stories that explained where I came from. I recall a story my great aunt told us that evening- one in which my great great great grandmother, Grandma Rose, stood on the banks of the Mississippi River, herself only twelve years old, and watched as her mother was sold away on a slave ship, gone forever. I recall listening intently to this story, running to my books, my paper, my computer MS document on which I had already begun what I thought would be a short story on slavery, tears streaming. I sat there, those seven or eight years ago, and made a dedication to share the spirit of Grandma Rose with others- to be the vehicle or the vessel through which readers, particular young adults, could reach out and touch a piece of the past so that this present could be made better.

Ella:  Who do you want to reach with your book and the message within? 
My goal is to reach as many people as possible with the book- young and old, female and male, African American as well as those of a different race and background. At the same rate, with the publication of Good Fortune in January of this year, I found an opportunity to put into action something that has always been close to my heart, and this is inspiring other young people with the messages Good Fortune has to offer. 

Ella:  How will reading your book shape the readers lives? 
Young people are reading Good Fortune, and not only learning about facts and aspects of culture in history, but also gaining knowledge on what it means to strive hard for something until it is accomplished, and the value of learning and gaining knowledge in this world. Walk into any classroom I have been able to speak to, and you may hear a recounting of something I like to call my 3 E’s (now expanded to 5)- three words and subsequent concepts students and scholars learn about in talks and workshops that tie in lessons from my characters lives with their own personal lives today- the significance of emancipating themselves “none but ourselves can free our minds” (Bob Marley); the importance of education; and the value of earnestness. If anything, I feel Good Fortune can and is serving as a tool of inspiration for young people.

Ella:  Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book?
I would love for readers to consider the value in learning about and understanding history. The West African symbol- the Sankofa Bird- represents the message of going back and taking meaning that we cannot move forward today unless we go back to yesterday and understand the lessons the past has to teach us. I hope Good Fortune inspires readers to reach inside themselves and examine their responsibilities as beings in this Universe- their relationships with others, with themselves, their willingness, however young, however old, to leap beyond the bounds of limitations, doubts, and judgments this world throws at us from time to time, and to reach out to grasp what truly moves our hearts, what inspires our souls, what makes our spirits sing. If any of these things are accomplished, I feel Good Fortune will have done its job.

Ella:  What's new with you? How can our readers reach you online? 
Readers can find me at my facebook fan page Noni Carter Author. Also, please feel free to visit my website,  or email me at 

I have also done a few radio interviews including NPR’s OnPoint with Tom Ashbrook in January and Cover to Cover, have been reviewed in several articles including the Atlanta Journal Constitution, and am currently traveling and/or skyping with schools across the country, sharing the values and lessons Good Fortune has to offer. We are looking for sponsors who will support this Good Fortune school tour. Please feel free to check out this journey, this site, and to connect with me! Blessings.

Intimate Conversation with Beverly Taylor

Welcome Beverly! Tell us a little about you, your 9-to-5 and your passion writing books.
I was born and reared in the Midwest . I attended Jacksonville Theological Seminary and received my Bachelor of Religious Arts in Christian Psychology. I am the author of the adult Christian fiction, Desires of the Heart and the teen novel, Foolish Virgin.  I am the founder and executive director of Chastity House and The ChasteKeepers program for teen girls and young adult female. I reside in metropolitan Atlanta and I am a licensed counselor/therapist.  

BPM: How much of what you write reflects on your outlook on life?
I am an advocate for teens, in particular, teen girls and young adult females. My ministry deals with virginity and sexual abstinence until marriage. Before teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases can decline, the attitudes of teens toward sex first have to change. I recognize that our youth need to be properly educated in order to make good, smart, and healthy decisions. I have a desire to bring about that change. My personal motto is:  Better informed youth tend to make better decisions about their lives.  

BPM: Who are your mentors? Where do you find your inspiration?  
I know this is cliché(ish), but my mother was my mentor.  I am so inspired by the life she led. She was so in-love with God and His son, Jesus.  No greater woman have I known that truly loved and served the Lord.  I am so blessed to be a fruit of her seed.  God saw she was getting tired and a cure was not to be, so He put His arms around her and whispered, “come to me.”  

BPM: What do you think of the increasingly fortuitous sex in African American literature?  
For women who have no respect for their bodies often lose the respect of the men with whom they sleep with. No man wants a slut for too long. Only the worse kind of man will tolerate one. If you get a spirit of insatiability in you, you can sleep with 20 guys and be looking for that 21st guy to sleep with. When the devil takes possession, you have no control over what happens to you. There are people walking around out here right now who thinks about sex all day and all night long. 

A lot of men cannot carry on a normal conversation with a woman because his mind is so polluted with sex that he can only identify with a woman as an object. A beastly nature. When you take on this nature, you no longer see people as humans, as people with feelings and hearts. You see them as objects, for your use. That’s the key for every fornicator. Your spirit is dead and you cannot recognize them as people. They’re objects to be used by you. When a woman is having sex with a guy outside of marriage, her body is nothing but something for him to masturbate in. He doesn’t care if she lives or dies. Once he “gets off,” he’s ready to throw her away like an empty can and move on to the next captured silly woman laden with sins and lead her away with divers lusts. As soon as he gets in heat again, like a dog in heat, then he’ll come looking for her to use again to masturbate in and then get up and forget her again and move on to his next victim.  

BPM: Finish this sentence- My writing offers the following legacy to future readers...  
Sex and fornication are subjects that many parents find difficult to discuss with their daughters.  God always has a ram in the thicket.  He has appointed me as a helper to parents to educate teen girls and young women on this theme, and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I have accepted His assignment.  However, as the Bible dictates, it does not condone sex outside of holy matrimony; it does not encourage nor advise the use of condoms or other birth control methods for premarital relationships. I believe the biblical instruction on sex is that it is for holy matrimony couples only. Anything outside of this is against the ordinance of God. Not boyfriend and girlfriend, not engaged couples, not common-law marriages, and not same gender.  

The body is designed for the Master’s use. It is His temple. He uses the body to complete His tasks. He uses the body so that the Spirit (breath of God) He has placed in it can praise and worship Him. He uses the body to relay His messages. He uses the body to reproduce in holy matrimony. He uses the body to place His Holy Spirit inside of it for comfort and to lead and guide us unto all Truth and to remind us things He has told us. For we are bought with a price. We simply cannot do what we want to do with our bodies without paying a hefty price for it. The body is for the Lord and the Lord for the body. Sex is for Holy matrimony couples only—male and female. It is designed to reproduce and enjoy each other in oneness. Serving God through our bodies is our number one priority. Therefore, the consequences of whatever we put into our temple will produce that seed—whether beneficial or detrimental.  

BPM: Introduce us to your book, Desires of the Heart, and the main characters.  
Twelve years into the marriage, Carson, a journalist and sportswriter for The USA Weekly, has been unhappy for the past two years.   Katharine, an adoring, loving and faithful wife, has taken advantage of the comforts of marriage by neglecting her personal appearance. Working in a demanding job as an administrator for an assisted living facility and rearing two small children, Katharine’s intimate relationship with her husband has practically become nonexistent. The marriage is deteriorating rapidly although Katharine, a small-framed, even-proportioned woman, wants to desperately salvage what is left of it.  It may have been possible had it not been for Cynthia Lomax, the full-figured, home-wrecking, high school counselor. Carson had met her while scouting a high school basketball player compete in the State competition.  

Officer Freeman is summoned to Katharine’s home when she places a missing person report that her husband did not come from work after celebrating being selected as the recipient of the American Journalist Award.  Freeman doesn’t appreciate the way Carson is treating Katharine, and he allows his emotions to interfere with his professional conduct.  He didn’t intend on falling in love with her, but if he could change the entire scenario, he wants nothing more than for Katharine to become his bride.  

When Cindy befriends Carson, she sinuously encourages him to leave Katharine.  Carson, still in-love with Katharine, decides all he really needs is a temporary separation, not a marriage termination.  But when he allows Cindy and her daughter to move in because of her financial burdens, Cindy gives the impression to Katharine that she and Carson are hopelessly in love and intends to be married.  While enjoying his sexless, freestyle association with Cindy, Carson has no intentions on a lifetime future with her. While living with Carson, the sinister Cindy begins weaving her web of deception by hiring a paralegal to prepare a counterfeit divorce decree and making certain that it is within Katharine’s knowledge.  She flies to Mexico to mail the fraudulent document where she meets Felipe, a hotel employee, who wants to make friends, but to Cindy’s disapproval.  

With strong precautions, it has taken Cindy’s pre-teen daughter, Deanna, some time before she welcomed Carson into her life.  But when she had, it turned into a fatal relationship.  Carson is unaware of the extent of the mental and emotional difficulties in which Deanna is experiencing—being overweight and the heartache of missing her deceased biological father.  Carson never fathomed that Deanna would kidnap his daughter, Bethany, and place her in a dangerous, life-threatening situation.  

Katharine is determined to win back her husband by devising a future that is rightfully hers.  Neglecting her own self-esteem, she tries a holistic approach and alternatives to have her appearance enhanced so entirely that includes healthy nutrition, exercise, all natural cosmetics, herbal ingredients, alternative medicines, and pumps and injections.  She knows it would please Carson to have her looks improved so completely. Katharine confides everything to her trusted, long-time friend, Natalie.  Natalie works as a marketing executive for her brother, Vincent. He owns a movie studio.  Often she and Vincent would brainstorm on new plots for movie productions.  When Natalie reveals Katharine’s marital woes to Vincent, he thought it would make for a fantastic romance flick.  Once Katharine discovers that her best friend betrays her confidence, she immediately terminates their longstanding relationship. When Katharine’s faith begins to waver that God would restore her marriage, she takes matters into her own hands.  The cosmetic surgeries were successful until a leakage and an allergic reaction to the silicone put Katharine in intensive care.  The prognosis could have been catastrophic. The depths that Katharine has gone through to please Carson has taken an emotional toll on his own heart.  This unfortunate situation brought Carson to a thorough understanding on how man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.

BPM: What specific situation or revelation prompted you to write Desires of the Heart?  
How one man’s selfish decision can affect each member of the household in a detrimental way.  Also, I became quite concerned when I noticed how many Christian women and, in particular, world-renown female Christian leaders, were increasingly and excessively engaging in buttocks and breast implants, face lifts, collagen injections, Botox, nose jobs, and other unnatural body enhancements. I credited it to vanity, low-self esteem or means of enticing men for engaging in these body alterations.

BPM: How will reading your book shape the readers lives?   
I am hoping the questions in the Readers Discussion Guide at the end of the story will stimulate discussion for reading groups and provide a deeper understanding of Desires of the Heart for every reader.  

BPM: What are some of their specific issues, needs or problems addressed in this book?  
Carson is suffering with depression; Katharine has insecurity issues.  However, the ballet plays an important role in her life — as a means of expression, as a way to console, as a way to mark significant moments; Cindy is dealing with mental illness (which is the root of her promiscuity); and Deanna’s loneliness and craving for a father causes her to commit criminal activities.  

BPM: Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book?  
It is my desire to enlighten, inspire, entertain and educate readers that changing who you are on the outside does not remove who you are on the inside; in addition, to demonstrate how making selfish decisions can personally affect each member of the household in a detrimental way.

BPM: What do you think makes your book different from others on the same subject?  
What makes Desires of the Heart stand out from other similar Christian fiction is that it provides an insightful view into the growing, popular world of cosmetic surgery, in particular, breasts and buttocks augmentation surgeries within the Christian community.  More and more Christians are indulging in facelifts, tummy tucks, gastric-bypass surgery, nose reduction surgery, etc.  Most of these operations can be rescinded with proper diet, consistent exercise and restful sleep, therefore, eliminating the risks of surgery.

BPM: Share with us your latest news, awards or upcoming book releases.   
I am working on a three-in-one book entitled “The Sweetest Day Ever.”  This novel will consist of three Christian romance stories about that infamous Midwestern holiday, Sweetest Day. It is a holiday primarily celebrated in the states of Ohio, Illinois and Michigan , and to these Midwesterners, it is more sacred than Saint Valentine’s Day itself.  This romantic holiday is celebrated on the third Saturday in the month of October.  I believe it will be a popular read for all romance genres as it will introduce this special holiday to Southern, Northern, East and West Coast readers who are unfamiliar with the Midwestern October occasion.

BPM: How can our readers reach you online? Share with us your online contact info.  
My website address is   I am also on www.goodreads/ as well as and  Thank you kindly, Ella, for the interview.



Intimate Conversation with Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Dolen Perkins-Valdez’s fiction and essays have appeared in The Kenyon Review, African American Review, North Carolina Literary Review and The Richard Wright Newsletter. Born and raised in Memphis, a graduate of Harvard, and a former George McCandlish Fellow in American Literature at George Washington University, Dolen, 36, currently lives in Washington, D.C. A finalist for the 2009 Robert Olen Butler Short Fiction prize, judged by Butler, and a participant in this summer’s Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Wench is her first novel.

Ella:  Wench is a historical themed book, tell us the history behind the story.
In 1851, a lawyer named Elias P. Drake purchased a plot of land near Xenia, Ohio with the intent to establish a summer vacation resort where the country's elite could relax and enjoy the mineral springs in the area. At the time, it was believed that natural water could cure illnesses and bring about good health. What made this resort unusual, however, was that it became a popular vacation destination for southern slaveholders and their enslaved mistresses. 

Ultimately, these flagrantly open relationships offended the northern abolitionists who also frequented the resort. After four years, the resort closed. This part of the story has been confirmed by historians. I took this forgotten historical note and sketched in a fictional account of what it would have been like to be an enslaved woman traveling to this free state each summer. Why wouldn't the women try to escape? What kinds of emotional attachments did they have with these men? Initially, I believed that it was entirely possible that they actually loved the men. Ultimately, I discovered that it was much more complicated than that. 

Ella:  Are your characters from the portrayal of real people?
No. I specifically wanted to enter this period and historical place from the imaginative side. In other words, I made it all up!!

Ella:  What inspired you to write this story?
Once I discovered this historical footnote, I could not forget it. I had so many questions. Ultimately, because there is so little historical record left behind by women such as these, I felt I needed to try to answer them myself.

Ella:  Who did you write this book for? Why?
I wrote this book for anyone interested in American history and the legacy of slavery. My hope is that I have shed some light on what is a fascinating period. There are still so many stories to be told. 

Ella:  Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp and share?
I have one hope: that readers will enjoy the story. I write to entertain, to transport readers out of their daily lives. Yet given the historical nature of my premise, I understand that the book will be more than escapism for some readers. One reader has recently told me that my story answered some of the questions they had about the Sally Hemings/Thomas Jefferson story. To this day, when I think of my character Lizzie and the things she had to endure, I cry. I have literally been driving in my car and thought of her and started to cry. Perhaps readers will come away feeling that they understand a bit more about the difficulties of being a woman during slavery.

Ella:  What was the most powerful chapter or scene in the book for you?
The most difficult scene for me comes early in the book: Chapter 10. I am still praying that I got it right. 

Ella:  What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I like to listen to jazz and world music. I recently went to a Sara Tavares concert and had a wonderful time.

Ella:  If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
I don't think so. I edited it until I had nothing left to give. I am now ready to put it out there in the world and share it with readers.

Praise for Wench Dolen Perkins-Valdez

"What struck me most forcibly about Dolen Perkins-Valdez novel, Wench, was the simple and extraordinary delving into the human heart, the choices destiny doled and how those choices were answered. Perkins-Valdez crawls under your skin and probes and pushes most gracefully and in clear concise lyric prose, ultimately asking the question that only extraordinary fiction can ask -- what would you have done? A striking story of heart and mind, Wench, captures time and delivers it to us. A superb and outstanding achievement."  -- Jeffrey Lent, author of In the Fall & A Peculiar Grace

"Dolen Perkins-Valdez takes on a little known historical reality - an Ohio resort where Southern plantation owners took their slave 'mistresses ' in the 1850s - and creates a finely wrought tale exploring the emotional terrain of four slave women caught in the web of the peculiar institution. Dolen goes far beyond stock characterizations to deliver unexpected fates for each of her protagonists, outcomes that will linger with a reader long after closing the pages of this novel." -- Lalita Tademy, author of Cane River (Oprah Pick) and Red River 

"With Wench, Dolen Perkins-Valdez establishes herself as a remarkable storyteller. Through unforgettable characters and luscious prose, the past is able to breathe and live on these pages. Wench stares down the difficult truths while never losing its beautiful beating heart. With all the weight of a historical excavation and the urgency of a page-turner, Perkins-Valdez establishes herself as a powerful new voice in fiction. "  --Tayari Jones, author of Leaving Atlanta and The Untelling

"This elegantly-structured novel, Dolen Perkins-Valdez presents an engrossing subject, shedding much-needed light on the racial intricacies of America's past." -- Margaret Cezair-Thompson, author of The Pirate's Daughter (a #1 Indie Next Pick)

"Perkins-Valdez’s power to imagine herself into the hearts and minds of slave mistresses and their masters is astonishing. A shattering story told with dignity, compassion, and some wicked humor. Wench is a brave, honest, beautifully written book that will shock and move readers to much new awareness." --Sigrid Nunez, author of The Last of Her Kind and A Feather on the Breath of God

Intimate Conversation with Nanette M. Buchanan

Introducing Author Nanette M. Buchanan
…. An Author with New Drama, Page after Page

Nanette M. Buchanan was born, raised and educated in Newark, New Jersey. After graduating from Arts High School in Newark she attended Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. It was then that she first set her pen to pad, written expressions of her love for poetry. She is a proud mother, wife and grandmother, now residing in Somerset, New Jersey. Nanette is employed with the State of New Jersey within the Department of Corrections.

BPM: Nanette, why do you write? Is it healing? To teach or empower others?
Why do I Pen?! My pen is motivated by my spirit, my being, who I am. My pen is motivated by my experiences those I have been forced to accept and those that have evolved into my accomplishments. My pen is motivated by the touch of others, those who have given me a piece of themselves even when they thought it was just a nod of recognition. My pen is motivated by a yearning for peace, the desire to fulfill what God has inspired me to do. My pen is motivated by the decision to share my thoughts, my experiences, my writings, me.....with others. My pen is who I am for that is why I Pen.

Black Pearls family, Nanette’s first published work and debut novel was “Family Secrets…Lies & Alibis.” Since then the publication of the sequel, “A Different Kind of Love.” In October of 2009, Nanette’s murder mystery, “Bruised Love” was released. It is her goal to become a successful author without limits. Writing and producing plays that feature her poems as well as adaptations of her novels on the “big screen.” 

Nanette is a member of Shared Thoughts Book Club and Authors Supporting Authors. She is the hostess of ASA’s Blog Talk Internet Radio Show which broadcasts each month interviewing authors, discussing literary events, publications and book promotions. The author is available for personal appearances, chats and signings.

Readers, check out Nanette’s latest release, Bruised Love.

BPM: What inspired you to write this story, Bruised Love?
A. I believe I wrote this story to rid a part of my feelings that I experienced off and on throughout my life. Love is a confusing emotion. We love openly seeking love in return and sometimes those who should love us don’t and those who we cling to as we fall tend to knock us down further. I can relate to Cassandra, her pain and her emotional turmoil. The character is not me at all but I can relate.

BPM: What impact will Bruised Love have on the community?
A. Our society has become one that holds embedded hurt a life time. We have angered homes, schools, jobs, and communities. Our relationships and how we treat others has an effect on everyone we meet. We need to recognize, without healing we can’t just walk away from severed relationships. Our solution has become one of avoidance. We will avoid our families, friends and lovers only to be confronted with building the same type of relationships with another. “Bruised Love” defines these relationships, the novel shows how fragile they become, the hurt and pain; it gives the reader insight on what can happen. There will be those who see themselves in these relationships. It asks the question, “When love leaves a bruise, can it ever heal?” 

BPM: Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?
A. “Bruised Love” is Cassandra Smith’s story. As a young girl seeking love, after the death of her father, she falls for the high school bad boy Trevor Black. Despite her mother’s warnings she dates the ‘playa’ and is told by her mother to leave home. The tension builds between her and her mother, Brenda Smith, who is battling cancer. The strained relationship and the need for unconditional love, has a guilty effect on the widow. Brenda realizes she should have loved her child regardless to her choices. 

Seeking to gain what she lost, she wants to heal the relationship before it’s too late. After talking with the family, she is convinced that Cassandra will come home if she believes her mother is close to death. Cassandra returns home, leaving the abusive cheating father of her children to care for her mother. Now faced with four children, a sick mother and no choice but to focus on her life, reality sets in. She finds the real definition for friendship, responsibility and commitment. All of which she’ll need to heal the bruised relationships she has been living with. 

As Cassandra’s life demands immediate decisions, her emotions are torn and her relationships are forever changed. Lamont Dearling, an old friend, is her constant support as she goes through a pivotal transformation. Lamont is that real friend who has always been in the shadows. 

Cassandra is my favorite character. She literally transforms in the novel. She carries an emotional load, baggage that is not hers to bear. Through it all she grows, she learns, and she loves. Healing is ridding oneself of the discomfort we take on as we pick at the layers of others mistreatment toward us. Cassandra’s lost of her father leaves an emotional void. Filling it with the façade created by Trevor Black stripped her of the beauty of love. Cassandra returns home depressed and emotionally drained until Lamont gives her a reason to look beyond her troubles. I believe there are women who can connect with her and recognize her path to self love. 

BPM: What issues in today’s society have you addressed in the book, Bruised Love?
A. There are a few issues in today’s society that have been addressed in “Bruised Love”. Cassandra is a young, single mother. She fell in love with the neighborhood ‘playa’. His game slowly turned unbearable but it was what she thought was a loving relationship. His other women, the baby mama drama, the drugs, and his abuse became a part of her world. 

She lost sight of herself loving a man who didn’t love her. Cassandra had to find the strength to end what she thought was an endless love. She had to regain faith in herself for her children, reunite with a mother that didn’t know how to love her and build new relationships. There are women who struggle with this daily. What they overcome or fall victims to declares their fate. Unfortunately there are many who have walked the path that Cassandra walked.

BPM: Is there a message in your book that you want readers to share?
A. Yes, love thyself. Love thyself more than any other being that God has created or blessed you to know. Without self love you have nothing. Know what makes love important to you. It’s not about settling no matter who the love comes from. There are parents and other family members who know nothing about loving their offspring or each other. We have to build and keep building ourselves to be successful and it begins with self love. I won’t let you hurt me because I love me should be the outcry. It would diminish domestic violence, neglect, and child abuse. If the victims spoke out because they loved themselves more than they loved the abusers. They loved themselves more than accepting this painful love and returning to “Bruised Love”. 

A bruise becomes tender, although the outer skin looks well the skin, the tissue below takes a longer time to heal…..sometimes it remains tender, easy to bruise again. We must learn to care for ourselves enough to heal. Love is beautiful and shouldn’t be feared. We shouldn’t have relationships after relationships scar us, or our children, who watch this dysfunctional love. The message is we must learn to love ourselves.

BPM: What sets your book, Bruised Love, apart from other books in your genre?
A. I think we’ve have so many genres that touch the surface of what reality is.
What sells as entertainment sometimes limits or sets the standard for most of the published works. “Bruised Love” has it all. The drama, love, sex, drugs, deceit, betrayal and murder, there is no exploitation, just reality. The way it happens, what could happen, and why. The story brings reality to the forefront, the bling for the reader is at the end. They will not be disappointed. 

BPM: Why did you decide to pick the mystery/suspense genre for your book?
A. The book has a little of it all. I love a good suspenseful murder mystery. This novel deals with the emotions that when pushed will cause you to take it over the edge. The psyche of those who kill has also held my attention and in “Bruised Love” I wanted the reader to be stirred by both the psyche and the emotional connection of the characters. It’s a who-done-it murder mystery.

BPM: Share with us your latest news, awards or upcoming book releases.
A. I’m really excited about the upcoming year. Last year held many rewarding experiences, plenty of researching, and learning. My plans are to incorporate it all into this year’s projects. I am looking to publish children stories as well as putting my poems in book format. My next novel is entitled “Skeletons…Beyond Closed Doors” to be released in June or July 2010.

Purchase books by Nanette M. Buchanan today

Intimate Conversation with Dr. Maxine E. Thompson

Dr. Maxine E. Thompson is a novelist, poet, columnist, short story writer, book reviewer, an editor, freelance writer, ghostwriter, Internet Radio Show Host, and a Literary Agent. She is the author of The Ebony Tree, No Pockets in a Shroud, A Place Called Home (A Short Story Collection), The Hush Hush Secrets of Writing Fiction That Sell, a contributor to bestselling anthologies Secret Lovers, All in The Family, and Never Knew Love Like This Before, (Also a Kindle Bestseller), Proverbs for the People. Hostage of Lies is her latest fiction novel, was voted a Best Book of 2009 by EDC Creations.

BPM: Tell us about your passion for writing. Why do you write? What drives you? What impact do you want your book to make on the readers?
I write to leave a record of all the untold stories of my ancestors. I like to talk about the things that the news don’t tell us about—such as the wholesale murder of young black men in our cities. (I address this in my upcoming novel, LA Blues.)

BPM: What makes you powerful as a person and a writer? Who are your mentors? 
I really hate to take credit for something that came from my parents and the speech of the people I grew up around. I'm only recording and giving witness to what I learned growing up, which has stayed with me. If I must give it a name, my power comes from my ear for dialogue. I can write down different A.A. speech patterns from Gullah, to street, to Ivy league sounding Black Speech. I am also a poet, so I often introduce poetry into my prose.

My power as a person is something I stumbled on after being a social worker for 23 years. It comes from my sphere of influence as an editor for many best selling A.A. authors. I act as a literary agent who is opening doors for underrepresented authors. Also, I was one of the first African Americans to host an Internet radio show in March 5, 2002, which opened doors for many self-published A.A. writers. My mentors are Toni Morrison (from afar), and Dr. Rosie Milligan.

BPM: Finish this sentence- My writing offers the following legacy to future readers... 
My writing offers the following legacy to future readers... my novel, Hostage of Lies, offers a peek inside the lives of Black people in this country since slavery up until 1993. My writing  also offers the following legacy....the ability to visit worlds past that show another side of what Black people were like in slavery, what they really felt, and how Black people talk to each other, love each other, and fight with each other, behind closed doors.

BPM: Introduce us to your book Hostage of Lies. 
Nefertiti “Titi” Godbolt’s been a captive of her family’s secrets her whole life. Now, as she returns home after seven years, she’s ready to confront her family and finally get some answers. It’s her father’s seventy-fifth birthday celebration, but she’s not there to celebrate a man who always seemed to favor her siblings Josh and Cleo, while he, along with Titi’s mother, treated Titi as the black sheep in the family—even before she got pregnant and they forced her to give up her daughter. But when Titi’s father and his brother have it out during the party, some long-buried family secrets pop to the surface, and Titi realizes there may be some truth to the stories her great-grandmother told her when she was a child after all.

BPM: Introduce us to your book's main characters. 
Hostage of Lies has a host of characters. The protagonist, Nefertiti, the prodigal daughter of Reverend Godbolt, who has come home to Shallow’s Corner, Michigan after a 7 year absence. Her ex-husband, Isaac Thorne, is trying to woo her back. Her first lover, Pharaoh, who fathered her oldest child when Nefertiti was 15 years old, is trying to woo her back. She unknowingly is the center of a controversy, which started before she was born. Nefertiti is a modern, working Black woman who has just opened her own book store in Los Angeles . She is a foil to her mother, Miss Magg, who as First Lady, was always a housewife.

BPM: Who were your favorites in Hostage of Lies?
My favorite characters are Nefertiti and Calissa, who left her husband, Deacon Thorne, back when it was a disgrace to leave your child with the father. She was a woman ahead of her times.

BPM: Are your characters from the portrayal of real people?
No, they are composites of people I’ve met and known through the years.

BPM: What specific situation or revelation prompted you to write your book?
I gave each character a major quest. Nefertiti’s quest was to find her daughter she gave up for adoption. Pharaoh and Isaac’s quest was to get back Nefertiti.

BPM: Take us inside the book, Hostage of Lies. What are two major events taking place? 
The two major events are some of the family secrets, which unfold while Nefertiti is on her adoption search for her daughter. The climax where a big family secret about the question as to Nefertiti’s parentage comes out. 

BPM: Who do you want to reach with your book and the message within?
I’d like to reach women who like to read about family dynamics and one coming into their own, meaning overthrowing the tyranny of family. The message is that the truth will set you free. There is no gain in hiding the truth. Family secrets can be devastating.

BPM: How will reading your book shape the readers lives? 
They will learn about slavery, about the Vietnam War and Blacks, about the LA and Detroit riots. They will learn about the dynamics of family and the Black church’s system. They will learn of the power of a mother’s love.

BPM: What are some of their specific issues, needs or problems addressed in this book?
Teen pregnancy, family secrets and lies, historical information that is often not passed down. In our quest to move up, many upwardly mobile African Americans failed to hand down history, which could prevent the younger generation from making the same mistakes.

BPM: What was the most powerful chapter in Hostage of Lies? 
I think when Nefertiti recalls her daughter’s birth, which she had repressed, since she was forced to give the child up for adoption.

BPM: Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book.
I want them to realize how complex our love is, yet feel good about being a human being.

BPM: What do you think makes your book different from others on the same subject?
It’s more insightful as to how a birth mother feels about giving up a child for adoption. It also shows the different world view that A.A. have regarding adoption, since we are the descendants of people who had our children forcefully taken from us.

BPM: Share with us your latest news, awards or upcoming book releases. 
Hostage of Lies was a bestselling book on in December, 2009. In January 2010, it was voted a Best Book of 2009 by EDC Creations. 

BPM: How can our readers reach you online? 
Share with us your online contact information only. They can find me at twitter @safari61751 or 

Contact Dr. Maxine E. Thompson 
Maxine Email: 

Intimate Conversation with
Marc Lacy

Huntsville’s own Marc Lacy, a graduate of Alabama A&M University is a nationally renown, award winning poet/author and spoken word artist. He has performed all of over the country at many national literary events and spoken word venues. Marc is a contributing writer to RADAR and The Grove Magazines. He is also a writer for 

In The Summer of 2009, Marc met up with the cofounder of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, Mr. Bruce George and Poet Rene Reyes in Los Angeles to serve on the panel at The Annual “So you Think you can Spit?”  poetic symposium for youth. Lacy credits his faith in God and love of family for providing energy to succeed.

BPM: Introduce us to Wretched Saints and the main characters.
My book is a fiction short story collection which touches upon very sensitive matters...mainly "so-called" good people who call themselves walking the righteous path; but living an unrighteous lifestyle.

Wretched Saints provides a literary window through which we may possibly see traits of ourselves within one or more of the characters as they learn the hard way to listen when God is talking. Thus His signal, when digested properly allows suppression of sinful urges opening up the door, for spiritual growth. 

Are you a Wretched Saint? Open the covers...and see. 

Of course our desire is to walk within The Kingdom's Neighborhood, but it can be very difficult leaving the alluring amenities of home. We have the protocol down pat; especially when others can witness us witnessing. However, when backs are turned and the sun has set, the righteous hotness of the self-proclaimed saint can suddenly turn lukewarm. Although the tongue can no longer house rationalizations, we still find a way to verbally cover spiritual deficits...thus casting us further into a pit of unrighteous debt surrounded by several unused shovels.

BPM: Who were your favorites? Are your characters from the portrayal of real people?
There are many who I could deem as favorites. I am sure that you will find several who are intriguing. The characters are purely fictional; however their make-up is partially taken from actual real human traits and actual activity.

BPM: What specific situation or revelation prompted you to write Wretched Saints?
With so many people seeming to struggle with the "lukewarm" disease, Assuanta and I decided to spread truth to the matter in an amplified fashion. Not only do the stories highlight the issue; but offer scenarios in which the characters can make a choice to better themselves.

BPM: Take us inside the book. What are two major events taking place?
Out of several things occurring, I'm highlighting the two following:

1. Tornado in Kansas:  Kansas cannot get out of her own way and as a result she blames everyone but herself for her tragic downfall. So many of us nowadays are victims of our own ignorance and cannot see the forest for the trees.

2. Like Father Like Son:  Anise was born via sin into sin and her mother held the secret for a long time; but was forced to tell all when she found out that Anise might be pregnant...pregnant from a relative. In society today, via shame and embarrassment, families tend to keep reports of past atrocities out of the ears of the young ones; but unfortunately the walls have to tumble down at some point.

BPM: How will reading your book shape the readers lives? 
Their lives will be shaped on the mere fact that they will be able to identify with one or more characters and study their flaws. They will then be able to see how the flaws can be turned into strengths just be realizing God is always working.

BPM: What are some of their specific issues, needs or problems addressed in this book?
Self-righteousness, reactionary, impulsive, arrogance, and hard-headedness just to name a few.

BPM: What do you think makes your book different from others on the same subject?
Assuanta and I wrote this book not to necessarily please a certain populous; but to convey the solid truth through our characters while pulling no punches.

BPM: Share with us your latest news, awards or upcoming book releases. 
I (Marc Lacy) have been nominated as AAMBC Poet of the Year for 2010. Also, there are several spoken word products coming out during the summer and fall of 2010. 

BPM: How can our readers reach you online? Share with us your online contact info. 

Intimate Conversation with Francis Ray

Literary legend Francis Ray is a native Texan and lives in Dallas. A graduate of Texas Woman's University, she is a School Nurse Practitioner with the Dallas Independent School District. In 1999 and 2000 she was nominated for Texas Woman's University Distinguished Alumni Award. Ms. Ray's titles consistently make bestseller's lists such as the New York Times, USA Today, Blackboard and Essence Magazine.

Ella: Have you always wanted to be a writer? 
Francis: No, the writing bug didn't hit me until I read SHANNA by Katherine Woodewiss. By her third book I knew I wanted to write similar books. The difference was I wanted people of color to take center stage. 

Ella: How did you get started writing? 
Francis: I joined my local chapter of Romance Writers of America, North Texas Romance Writers of America. I'm proud to say I won the first service award, The Yellow Rose. The friendships and mentors were invaluable. I can honestly say that without them I would not be published now. 

Ella: Are you surprised at the success of your novels? 
Francis: I'm very surprised, and humbled by the success of my novels. I've truly been blessed and thank God and the many readers who continue to buy my books. It's didn't happen overnight and that makes this time so much sweeter. My goal was one day make the USA Today list. I was stunned when my editor called to tell me NOBODY BUT YOU had made the New York Times' extended list. 

Ella: What authors influence your work? 
Francis: Katherine Woodewiss, Elizabeth Lowell, Amanda Quick, and Nora Roberts. 

Ella: Do you ever suffer from writers block? If so, how do you get past it? 
Francis: I suffer from writes block with every book. I get by it by going deeper into my character's motivations. 

Ella: If you could pass on one tidbit of knowledge to both your fans and aspiring writers, what would it be? 
Francis: Since they're in two different groups, the tidbit would be different. I'd jubilantly thank my fans, and tell the aspiring writing to read Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain. That one book probably helped me more on developing characters than any other book. If readers can't feel 'something' about your character, they wont' finish the book. 

Ella: What is the best piece of advice you have received, from either a fan or a fellow author? 
Francis: The best piece of advice from another author was never to compare myself to another author. If you do you can drive yourself crazy, and it is counter-productive. 

Ella: What is the one story you want to write, but haven’t? What obstacles are keeping you from writing it? 
Francis: There are two books actually. Lord Radcliffe's story from my first historical, THE BARGAIN, and IRON MAINDEN, a Medieval historical. The obstacles, time to do the research and my already full writing schedule. 

Ella: What are you currently working on? 
Francis: Promoting my new book ONE NIGHT WITH YOU. I'm working on BECAUSE OF YOU, Book # 6 in the Grayson Friends series. 

How may we contact you online?

Featured book: One Night with You by Francis Ray
Series: Grayson Friends Series

Intimate Conversation with Susan Mary Malone

Award-winning author and editor Susan Mary Malone’s works focus on women’s issues, touching the inner emotions of the feminine psyche.  She is the author of four Traditionally published books (fiction and nonfiction) and many published short stories. A free-lance editor, thirty-plus Malone-edited books have now sold to Traditional publishers. 

Ella: You edit for a lot of Urban Lit authors. How did you get into this genre?

SMM:  I do edit in a lot of different genres, but Urban Lit is one of my specialties.  This genre exploded over the last decade, and I began with it early on.  I edit for Mary Morrison (multi-bestselling author), Naleighna Kai (Essence bestseller), Jeremy Woodson (nominated for the 38th NAACP Image awards for Outstanding Literary Work), and a host of other successful authors. 


Ella: How did this genre become so popular?

SMM: Traditional publishing has long been a business of the tail wagging the dog.  There was this huge audience of untapped readers, which publishing had just missed.  Once Urban books started hitting the scene, the response was enormous.  Early on, all of the authors self-published, and began selling thousands and thousands of books (now, that will get the publishing world’s attention!).  One of my first authors in the genre had self-published, and her book was selling very well.  But she knew it wasn’t as good as it could be, and wanted to learn how to take that one, and her writing in general, to the next level.  She contracted with me to edit that book, and was shocked at the level of work that still needed to be done (as she said, “It was dripping with blood.”  I use red ink!) But she dug in, learned her craft as we went along, and produced a bang-up book.  From that one, she got a six-figure, three-book deal from Kensington, and was off to the races.  She got in on the ground floor of the genre so to speak, and so many other wonderful writers have followed.  This is a genre that shows no signs of slowing down, and now most of the big houses have Urban imprints.


Ella: Where do you see Urban Lit going in the future?

SMM:  For one thing, the writing itself has become so much more sophisticated, and Traditional publishers now require a very high standard in order to offer contracts.  Not only does the manuscript have to be camera-ready, but the characters have to be fully fleshed out, the plots rich and realized, and the writing of a high quality as well. This genre will continue to grow, and the books we see coming out of it will be better and better.  I don’t see a let down any time soon.


Ella: Do you work with self-published books as well?

Answer:    I do.  Not too long ago, I advised my writers to seek Traditional publication first (although in Urban, both ways worked well).  But the business is changing radically, before our very eyes.  The statistic a decade ago was that over a million manuscripts passed across NY editors’ desks every year, and about 55,000 were published (the vast majority of those being nonfiction).  Now, no one can even count the volumes crossing editors’ desks, and the published-book numbers are down to about 25,000.  What’s more, the e-book revolution has just turned everything on its head, and this will continue at an ever-increasing rate.  Readers already have quite a tough time knowing if a book was self- or traditionally published.  With e-books, I’m not sure anyone in the near future is even going to care.  While I don’t list the successful self-published books with which I’ve worked, that might change in the future as well.  Some of those have far out-sold the traditionally published ones I’ve worked with! 


Ella: What advice would you give a writer trying to break in?

SMM:  Absolutely work with a great editor—and not a copyeditor (which is the last part of the process)—but a knowledgeable developmental editor, who knows not only what is wrong, but can also explain why and where and most importantly, how to fix problems. That may sound self-serving, but I don’t know another way to put it.  From my side of the street (inside publishing), I can guarantee that great editors are imperative in helping writers turn their works into great books and their careers into successful ones.  An expert editor also knows the specifics of what makes a book sell—to both publishing houses and the general public. That’s invaluable as you’re trying to make a name for yourself as an author.

Before publication, before all of the publicity and marketing, you have to start with a great book.  Once upon a time, acquisitions editors at publishing houses worked with new authors and their books, in much the same fashion that free-lance editors do now (think Hemingway and Max Perkins, etc.). The business has changed such that this is no longer the case (to all my publishing-house editor friends’ deep chagrin).  And it’s left new writers out in the cold.  There is so very, very much that goes into producing a good book—characterization, plotting and pacing, organization and structure, flow, voice and tone, literary devices, overall substance, etc.  Good writing is good writing—no matter in which genre one is working.  And that takes time and effort and great instruction to learn.  I speak at a lot of literary conferences, and I often start my talk with: “Writing really is rocket science.”  We have this idea in our culture that anyone can write a book.

And while it’s true that anyone can put enough words on the page to resemble a book, such does not a book make.  You need creativity, inspiration, and talent.  But those are just the things with which you begin.  After that you need skills. And skills can be learned.  Takes a bit of blood, sweat, and tears, but then, nobody said this would be easy, no?  It’s the writers I work with who dig deep and learn and revise and rewrite and learn some more who make it in this business. And nothing is more gratifying for me. 

Five Keys for Understanding Men, A Woman's Guide by Susan M. Malone

  • ISBN-10: 192870400X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1928704003

Susan Mary Malone
Author of: By the Book (novel), BodySculpting: The Weisbeck Way; Fourth and Long; Five Keys to Understanding Men
See Malone's short stories, "Descent," "The Dream Delicious," "Illusion of the Heart" at! Over 30 Malone-edited books have recently sold to Traditional publishers!



Intimate Conversation with Mel Bancroft
Inspirational Author, Poet & Songwriter

Ms. Bancroft has written poetry and articles on a wide range of subject matter: self-help, spirituality, marketing, business, family, and relationships. Notably, the poem "Jena Six: Our Strangefruit Is Still Hanging," emphatically questioning how far African Americans have come, was published in TRIBES Magazine. She is a contributing writer for Healthy News and Regal Magazine, the preeminent online magazine for African American men.

Ella:  Introduce us to your debut memoir: The Melody of My BitterSweet Blues. 
The Melody of My BitterSweet Blues is a riveting, true story which is narrated through the eyes of a woman who has endured sexual abuse as a child, struggled through coming of age, finding herself in abusive relationships as an adult. Not only is the story told candidly and graphically, revealing the secrets that lurk behind abuse, the narrator takes the reader inside a journey of spiritual healing and unbridled courage through poetic enlightenment and poignant imagery.

Ella: What led you to create this book, The Melody of My BitterSweet Blues?
Actually it was God-inspired. As someone who has survived several forms of abuse, it has been on my heart for many years to share my strength with others who may still be trying to find their own empowerment.

Ella:  Who should read this book and why?
There are several groups, I believe, that can benefit from this book: adult survivors of abuse, victims of spousal abuse, even those who have been perpetrators of abuse who aspire to change how they deal with problems. This book serves as a reminder to those who have suffered from such dysfunction, that they are not alone, and encourages them to seek their own healing.

Ella:  What issues in today’s society have you addressed in the book?  
Many issues such as coming of age, teenage depression and attempted suicide, generational patterns of abuse, as well as drug addiction are covered, along with a range of obstacles that contribute to questioning one’s ability to overcome what appears to be utter hopelessness.

Ella:  What sets your book apart from other books in your genre?
I’m not familiar with everything that’s published in my genre. However, from what I have noticed about some depictions of abuse is that often we don’t get to see the process of overcoming abuse as closely as we could or the systemic foundation of abuse, such as how families are broken down for generations as a result of the code of silence. These elements are critical to understanding the role everyone plays in allowing abuse to exist. I think my book makes an honest attempt to really focus on that as well as show the methods of therapy that were utilized—the emotional and spiritual mechanics behind the process of healing that the main character underwent to find her way through the pain and out of darkness.

Ella:  What was the most powerful chapter or scene in the book for you?
There are several, so I’d have to say one of the most powerful scenes is when I realized that my teenage crush had become an extremely abusive man. It was too late, after I had married him, and I nearly died. 

Contact Information for Mel Bancroft



Intimate Conversation with Carleen Brice

Ella: Carleen, tell us a little about your main characters in Children of the Waters. Who was your favorite? 
The main characters are 36-year-old Trish, who is white. She’s recently divorced and has a high-school aged, biracial son. Trish is kind of lonely and feeling a little loss after her divorce and since her son is growing up and away from her.

Billie is a 32-year-old black woman who is living with her boyfriend. She’s in remission from lupus and discovers she’s pregnant. Her man isn’t happy about that. Billie is very close with her family and loves her career as a Head Start teacher. Her only problem is that Nick isn’t happy about the pregnancy.

"With Children of the Waters, Brice has a new hit....Fresh on the heels of her best seller Orange Mint and Honey, Carleen Brice gives us more family melodrama that works." -- quote by Essence Magazine

Ella: Are your characters from the portrayal of real people?
My characters are typically combinations of real people and fictional characters.

Ella: What inspired you to write this story? What issues in today's society have you addressed in the book?
It’s based on a true story that my sister in law told me. Race relations, adoption, family secrets, health issues and spirituality are covered in this book.

Ella: What was your primary quest in publishing this book? Who did you write this book for? Why?
To tell a good page-turning story.  I wrote this book for women like myself who like to read well-written fiction with a strong plot—sort of a combination of commercial and literary fiction.

Ella: Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp and share?
Sure, my books always have messages about how the past affects the present and how we all have choices about how we react to life.

Ella: What was the most powerful chapter or scene in the book for you?
I don’t want to give too much away, but there’s a scene in which Billie and Trish discuss their views about race that is very powerful. They say the things I think a lot of us feel, but don’t say.

Ella: Do you write full time? Describe your writing schedule for our readers.
I’m fortunate now to write full time. I try to write first thing in the morning and to write every day, but sometimes I don’t write until the evening. Some days I don’t get any work done at all.

Ella: What do you like to do when you're not writing? What does your family think of your writing? 
Read, watch movies, go for walks, work in my garden, hang out with friends. My husband is very supportive! He’s a musician so he totally understands the creative process.

Ella: What is the best piece of advice you would give to an aspiring author?
Read a lot. Write a lot. And find your people, your fellow writers, in person or online.

Ella: Share with us your latest news or upcoming book releases. 

I’m excited to say that Jill Scott will star in the Lifetime movie version of my first novel Orange Mint and Honey. The movie will be called “Sins of the Mother.” The film was shot in Vancouver and I visited the set, met the cast, director and producer and actually got to be an extra!

People can find me at my blogs:  or  or at my website . I’m also on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and SheWrites.

Carleen Brice:

Intimate Conversation with Bernice Harris

Bernice Harris is a long-time resident of the Chicago Englewood community, which has one of the highest crime rates in the city. She has worked with teen runaways as well as with deaf youths through the Chicago Hearing Society. 

She has taught early child- hood education in a corporate school owned by the former Secretary of Education, Lamar Alexander, and Bob Keeshan, better known as Captain Kangaroo. As a teacher for Corporate Child Care, Harris taught young children and later became a trainer for early childhood teachers and served on the Improved Child Care Management board. She was also a staff writer for the Collectors Bulletin, where she wrote a column for McDonald's toy collectors. 

Pull Your Pants Up and be a Man! 
Foreword by actor Malik Yoba. Pull Your Pants Up and be a man! is a book to inspire thought and change. It will benefit the young thirteen-year-old boy who may not be fully aware of the steps he should take in planning a good life. It will be equally beneficial to the eighteen year old who has wandered away from a life of decency and good judgments. 

Pull Your Pants Up covers:

* What kills a dream?
* How can you start to dream again? Is it too late for you?
* How important is education in reaching your goal?
* What is a family, and what role do you play in making it work?
* How are you related to your neighborhood?
* How do you show respect?
* What is the honest way to make money and save it?

Ella:  What inspired you to write the book?
I live on the edge of the Englewood community in Chicago which has the highest crime rate in the city. Young men are dying weekly from gang violence. Even innocent honor roll and college students have lost their lives in the senseless melee, by simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Ella:  Who did you write this book for? Why?
The book was written for young men in neighborhoods that are plagued by violence, as well as the boy regardless of where he is, who just needs to start to plan early to make sure that he fulfills his full potential. Ones attention may be drawn to the cover and title of the book which shows the sagging pants. While wearing pants this way is an issue with parents and schools, and the book certainly addresses the issue, the book does much more than that. It helps the young man who may be at the cross-roads between child and adult to honor his parents role, while working on his own planned future. The book was also written to help parents and educators in their difficult roles. By the book dealing with problems that are faced by both genders, girls has also stated that they have benefited greatly from the practical advice.

Ella:  Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp and share?
Yes, young black men are our national treasures! They are our future decision-makers, they are our daughter's husbands, and our grandchildren's father. Are they being prepared for these roles?

Ella:  What was the most powerful chapter in the book?
I feel that they all are very powerful. If I must choose one I will choose "Dreams" it tells how innocently we lose those childhood dreams, but it also gives suggestions on how to get them back.

Purchase your copy today at Write One Publications

Bernice Harris can be found on the web at


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Ella Curry, President of EDC Creations
Founder & Editor In Chief Black Pearls Magazine