Black Pearl Intimate Conversations


Intimate Conversation with Cheryl Robinson

When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson is featured in Essence Magazine, September 2010!

"WHEN I GET WHERE I'M GOING is about three very 
different sisters and is a wonderfully entertaining read." 

Kimberla Lawson Roby, New York Times Bestselling Author

Cheryl Robinson is the author of five novels. Most recently, When I Get Where I'm Going, In Love with a Younger Man and Sweet Georgia Brown. She is a native Detroiter and graduate of Wayne State University. Robinson now resides in Central Florida where she is writing her next novel.  Cheryl has set many goals for her writing career, which include becoming a New York Times bestselling author. Cheryl’s novels are primarily character-driven and her themes often revolve around family, relationships, love, beating the odds, and redemption.

She loves dogs, crème brûlée, and almost anything organic. And the “real” job in corporate America her parents urged her to pursue? Well, after nearly twelve years with an automotive-related company and four corporate relocations where she’s lived in New York, Kansas, Texas, and Florida, she lost it. In the summer of 2010, the company was forced to downsize due to the ailing economy. However, she always considered her passion for writing to be a real job, even when she only had time to write her novels at night and on weekends. Now she has even more time to focus on fiction. 

BPM: What makes you powerful as a person and a writer?
As a person I feel power in my faith. It allows me to press on through the rough times and to remain positive. I try not to let the daily stresses of life get to me. And I try not to judge others. The more I stop myself when I feel my mind going in that direction, the easier it becomes. I get tired of seeing people get built up by the media to later get knocked down. The less I judge others the better I not only feel, but also when I write and develop characters it's much easier for me to remove myself from the situation. I realize it's impossible for everyone to love my books, but I always keep that as one of my primary writing goals. And, I try to keep a healthy balance between being my own worst critic and one of my biggest fans. 

BPM: Where do you find your inspiration? 
All of the inspiration I could ever need I can find from everyday life--the joys and the pitfalls. I can open one email from someone telling me how upset they are at the way I ended my last book and then turn around and open another email from someone telling me how much they thoroughly enjoyed it. That's an example of how life is in general. One minute you can be down, but in a second it can all turn around. You have to take the good with the bad and learn from them both. But honestly, sometimes I just want it to all be good. 

BPM: What specific situation or revelation prompted you to write your book?
Some years ago, when I was about nineteen or twenty, I answered the phone at my parents' home and there was a woman on the other end who insisted that we were related. She was trying to tell me that she was my half sister and that we had the same father. I remember my heart sinking. In order for that to be true, based on her timeframe, that would mean my father, who I thought had been happily married to my mother for years, had cheated. But as the conversation continued we both realized that while the two men shared the same name they weren't the same person. 

Still, for those few minutes, I had to ask myself what if that was actually the case. The thought never completely escaped my mind, and in some ways it was that event that prompted me to eventually get around to exploring the scenario. And now, in the age of social networking, it's much easier to find your missing relatives. And in the case of these three sisters, it's also true, and they do share the same father. 

BPM: Who do you want to reach with When I Get Where I'm Going and the message within?
I am a Women's Fiction author. That does not mean I only write for women. Nor does the fact that I'm black mean I only write for black people. I don't write to exclude any one, but to enlighten and entertain us all. I write about women and women's issues, and of course, men are in my novels too. As an author I have an opportunity to go beyond stereotypes. I've learned over the eight years that I've been writing professionally that there is a way to entertain without offending. 

If I, as a black woman, do not feel good about how we are represented in the media. If I don't feel empowered about what is being written about us on the internet and elsewhere and if I have to continuously hear from the media that black women are "the least desirable of all the races" or not a preference by some men even within our own race, as an artist, I have an opportunity to present a different message that isn't a negative one, but can still be realistic. It's like music. Some songs only have a good beat while others also have wonderful lyrics. I want to write books that make people feel good. 

My intended message isn't given to readers, but written in such a way that the reader gets out of it what they came to the story with and how they view the story and the characters will be interpreted by how they view the world. But maybe, if I do my job as I intend to, they will have a different opinion after it's all said and done. 

BPM: Introduce us to your latest book, When I Get Where I'm Going.
What would you do if you discovered that you had a sibling you never knew existed? Would you be like Heaven, so excited to connect to that person that you quickly took to Facebook and started searching? Would you be like Hope, too caught up in the trials and tribulations of your own life to even care? Or would you be like Alicia, skeptical at first, but willing to open up to the idea?

Alicia, Hope, and Heaven are three estranged sisters embarking on one special reunion. And it will take an earth-shattering discovery, a lucky lottery ticket, and a near-fatal encounter to finally bring three sisters together and have them realize that nothing can save a person like family. 

BPM: Introduce us to your main characters in When I Get Where I'm Going
Heaven Jetter, Hope Teasdale, and Alicia Day are three special sisters! Heaven is twenty-one and the youngest sister. She's on probation, caught up in an abusive relationship, and trying desperately to get her life back on track. Hope is a young widow and single mother searching for the truth behind her husband's death, but once she finds out, can she handle it? Alicia is a struggling actress trying to catch a break in Hollywood after thirteen years of trying, but a devastating one-two punch forces her back to Detroit. 

BPM: What are two major events taking place? 
The novel is written in third person and begins with a prologue that occurs five months prior to the start of the story. And then the rest of the novel is divided into three parts and most of the chapters alternate between the point of view of each sister. Without giving away any spoilers, I will say that each sister has a major turning point that makes each of them reevaluate their life. 

BPM: What are a couple of the specific issues or problems addressed in this book? 
One issue in the story is domestic abuse. Heaven is involved in an unhealthy relationship, but like so many other women involved in something like that, she finds it nearly impossible to leave. Her story isn't from the viewpoint of a woman who is both a wife and mother and being abused, but from a young woman who has gotten caught-up with the wrong man and finds herself so confused that she doesn't know what to do and feels that her life in general is spiraling out of control.

Alicia Day's character was written for anyone who has been holding on to a dream for a very long time and wondering if it will ever come true. Aspiring actors, singers, and writers should be able to especially relate to her story. Black actresses, in particular, should also be able to as much has been discussed about the struggles that black women experience while trying to succeed in Hollywood. 

Discussion Topics: When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
Domestic violence, sisterhood, estranged family, the entertainment industry, and specifically the lack of roles for black women in Hollywood.

BPM: Share with us your latest news or upcoming book releases. 
When I Get Where I'm Going is featured in the September 2010 issue of Essence Magazine. And I recently completed my next novel, Remember Me, that will be released in September 2011.

BPM: How can our readers reach you online? 
Readers can connect with me through my website at:  and also join me on my recently created Facebook page. There is a link on my web site to Facebook. 

Cheryl Robinson--When I Get Where I'm Going 
Purchase your copy today at Amazon

Intimate Conversations with Kea Taylor

Kea Taylor is the founder of Imagine Photography, a professional photography studio in Washington, DC specializing in special event, portrait and architectural photography. Her work has been featured in the British News and Observer, Black Enterprise, Ebony/Jet, The Source Magazine and various newspapers, book covers and publications.

BPM: How do you feel about marriages today?
I think that the institution of marriage in the U.S. is truly being threatened. Not just in the Black community, but in every community. I think we are turning into a more misogynistic and narcissistic society than we’ve ever been—and that doesn’t suit marriages well. But I believe in the power of love and I am committed to promoting love and encouraging love in spite of what anyone else is doing. And I’m encouraged in my line of work because I’m reminded constantly that I’m not alone. There are lots of people that feel the way I do.

BPM: What makes you powerful as a person, mate and a writer? 
What makes me powerful as a person is that I have God in me and I believe that I can do anything God puts on my heart to do if I put my mind to it. I’ve always been that way. 

As a mate, I think my power comes from my faith and my open-ness to change and genuine desire to want to be a better person and pleasing to God and my husband. 

As I writer, I think I’m most powerful when I’m being honest. I think that’s when I have the most power to inspire and truly touch other people.

BPM: Who are your mentors?
I’m sad to say that I don’t really have many mentors, in the traditional sense of having an ongoing relationship with someone for the sole purpose of helping me develop my skills. 

My mentors, as photographers, are my photographer friends—local photographers in the Washington area. As a self-published writer, Trice Hickman (who is one of my clients) has helped and inspired me tremendously.  There are many photographers that I have admired from afar for different reasons…James VanDerZee, Addison Scurlock, Gordon Parks, Kwaku Alston, Sharon Farmer, Carrie Mae Weems, Annie Leibowitz, Henri Cartier Bresson. 

I’ve also learned from other photographers and people that I’ve worked for. My former boss from my “past life” working in the world of finance, Michael Hodge was a great mentor for me in terms of teaching me how to carry myself professionally. There are countless older women that I admire and attempt to emulate with respect to their class, femininity, strength and humility. But I would have to say that my only long-term mentors have been the women in my family. My mother, Cynthia Prather…my grandmothers, aunts and cousins who always possessed those traits I mentioned above.

BPM: Finish this sentence- My writing offers the following legacy to future readers... 
My writing offers the following legacy to future readers...proof of a legacy of commitment to family, community, mutual respect and love.

BPM: Introduce us to your book and the message created with photos.
It’s truly a pleasure to introduce my book, “I Still Do – A Celebration of African-American Weddings”. This book gives the reader a rare opportunity to see Black love in the new millennium through my eyes as a professional wedding photographer. It’s a keepsake, coffee-table book of the most inspiring moments, images and couples from my nearly ten years capturing African-American weddings that truly speaks to that place in all of us that needs to be reminded that Black love still exists.

The photos in the book are so powerful that I couldn’t begin to put into words the message they convey. The images truly transcend, inspire and demonstrate the beauty of Black love and that despite seemingly insurmountable odds, we are still falling in love and getting married.

BPM: What specific situation or revelation prompted you to write your book?
Well really, I would have to say it was a series of prompts. I believe when God wants you to do something, you start getting these hints…they start out small and just get bigger and harder to ignore. So there were a series of prompts, but perhaps the largest was during now-President Obama’s campaign when images of he and First Lady Obama started popping up all over the media and they looked so genuinely in love. 

People were forwarding these images to me almost daily, sharing how nice it was to see a Black couple in love. I was amazed that their images seemed to have such a transformative power. It was painfully clear to me after the ninth or tenth email that we, as Black people, have been bombarded with depressing images and messages about the state of our relationships for so long, we were just starving to see that there was at least one happy Black couple in the world somewhere. And don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy the images. (I mean, the Obama’s are an undeniably a handsome couple and they clearly share mutual respect and tenderness for each other—and we knew their story). But these images were nothing particularly new to me because as a photographer that shoots weddings, I see Black people in love all the time. But I had an “aha moment” and realized, that my experience seeing Black people in love is actually quite rare. And it really got me thinking how blessed I am to be exposed to such beauty on a regular basis and how it positively shapes my view of the world and my own marriage. 

So ultimately, I wrote the book because I really wanted to share the beauty that I see in our people and inspire Black people to continue to believe in love.

BPM: Take us inside the book. What are two major events taking place? 
There are two wonderful things going on simultaneously in the book. You have these stunningly beautiful, romantic, truly heartwarming images of Black couples in love and getting married all over the world. And Ms. Curry, images are powerful. They effect you viscerally in ways you can’t imagine or control. So without reading one word, anyone that picks up the book will feel the excitement, happiness, pride, anticipation and sheer joy that each of these couples and their families felt on their wedding day. 

But opposite these powerful images, are candid interviews with some of my most inspiring couples. And they are so honest and real, they’re really refreshing and funny and they truly ground the book, making the images even more real. You start to actually put stories behind the images. You hear couples talking about how they couldn’t afford their wedding ceremony but wanted to get married so bad, they secretly eloped until they could save up for an actual ceremony…women being honest about how they didn’t want to date their husband initially because he was too young or didn’t have a college degree. They talk about the fights they had in the first years of their marriage over not answering the cell phone, growing up in a female-dominated household, feeling guilty about not being able to cook. 

But what’s most inspiring, I think, is that each of them shares how they’re overcoming and learning to love in spite of the challenges. And that makes the pictures even more meaningful. 

BPM: Who do you want to reach with your book and the message within?
The very first page of the book is the dedication page and it reads, “For little brown girls everywhere who have never seen themselves in love”.

I meant that dedication literally and figuratively. This book is for women of color of all ages. For the young women of color who have been raised on a misogynistic diet of music videos, reality shows, and don’t have examples of a successful marriage in their circle of life – I just wanted to present an alternative. For new brides and married women, I wanted to show how beautiful we can be when we just smile, humble ourselves and commit the act of loving and being loved. I can’t think of anything more powerful in our community than a Black woman with a genuine smile that radiates love. For the older women who may married or want to pass on the values of commitment and family to their children - I wanted to provide a piece that they could pass on to their children and grandchildren/nieces and nephews without preaching. 

Most importantly though, I want this book to speak to the little girl in every woman and remind them that in spite of the negative statistics and seemingly insurmountable odds, that Black people still are falling in love and getting married. 

At the risk of complicating this answer too much, I think it's important to point out that I was very careful not to imply that marriage is for everyone (a theme mentioned multiple times in the book), because I think it’s cruel to indoctrinate little Black girls with the vision of their Black prince coming to rescue them because statistics do show that that may not happen. But I also think it’s equally as cruel to deny our little girls the right to have that dream. A minute percentage of our little boys will become professional basketball players, but we don’t stop them from dreaming. For many little girls, their dream of being married will still come true.

BPM: What are some of their specific issues, needs or problems addressed in this book?
For a coffee table book, we really touch on some profound and, I think, common and universally challenging issues for Black women. The importance of communication, personal responsibility, professional and income disparity between couples, defining relationships, sexual promiscuity before marriage…are all discussed in the couples’ interviews.

BPM: What was the most powerful chapter in the book?
I think each chapter will resonate more powerfully to different readers because every Black woman will see herself in at least one of the interviews. But if I had to choose, I would say the last chapter is the most powerful and it’s called, “Completing the Circle”. It’s an interview with a couple that just encompasses so much. The groom had seen six divorces between his parents, the bride grew up in a single family home, but this couple talks about how, in each other, they found someone with a shared purpose. 

And that purpose was ending the dysfunctional cycles in their family…of failed relationships, uncompleted education, lack of financial planning…So years later, they’ve committed to staying married no matter what, they’ve both completed graduate degrees, they started an asset acquisition company together called NexGen, LLC (for Next Generation) and they have a beautiful son with possibly another on the way. Their story alone demonstrates how powerful we are when we commit to seeking and following our purpose and richly successful and fulfilling it can be when we decide to do it with a partner.

BPM: Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book?
I just want people to be inspired to love. I want to remind people that Black love is still alive.

BPM: What do you think makes your book different from others on the same subject?
Well I think whenever we hear about Black marriages these days, we usually are discussing how few people are getting married or trying to identify who to blame for why that is so. This book is markedly different. There are over 300 images of undeniably happy, married Black couples. As one of my readers wrote me, “The whole concept of Black love is nothing new to us, but you’ve so eloquently captured it in a way I have never seen.”

It’s also different from other wedding idea books, guides or magazines because when we’re normally featured in those publications, we are marginal. We’re thrown in to add a little color. It’ll be us and an Indian couple. And they write as though jumping the broom is the only tradition African-Americans celebrate. My book will tell you the history of the Electric Slide and the Soul Train line to the Yoruba tasting ceremony and the symbolism of cowry shells in your bouquet.

BPM: How can our readers reach you online? 
Please drop me an email and let me know what you think about the book at:  or check out the website for the book at:  Send me a tweet. I’m @ ImaginePhotog

Kea Taylor, Imagine Photography 

Know anyone getting married? We love weddings! Check out our new site just for weddings...

Intimate Conversation with Yayoi Lena Winfrey

Born in Tokyo to an African American father and Japanese mother, Yayoi Lena Winfrey grew up on three continents. A resident of California most of her adult life, she’s also lived in Alaska, Hawai’i, Washington State, and St. Thomas U.S.V.I.

After attending art school, Yayoi freelanced as an illustrator and graphic designer before turning to journalism for the past 13 years. In 1998, she began working in the film industry and made a feature film, Watermelon Sushi, based on her life as an Afro-Asian woman. She was a finalist for FIND (Film Independent) Project Involve, Fall 2005-Spring 2006. Besides contributing to numerous publications, Yayoi was twice nominated for journalism awards, and is referenced on Wikipedia. In 2000, she published an anthology of 28 black women writers and a chapbook based on her film.

Today, Yayoi plans a reshoot of the film while writing a weekly blog, Watermelon Sushi World, featuring cross-cultural stories. She’s also created a Facebook group, Hip Hapa Homeez, which addresses multiethnic experiences, as well as a Facebook fan page for Watermelon Sushi. And, she's working on a collection of erotic short stories and a novella featuring multiracial characters and interracial relationships, as well as a novel about an Afro-Asian family living in the Caribbean. Read an article on Yayoi on the Mixed Child site.

Featured Book:  Brothers and Others Anthology
compiled by Yayoi Lena Winfrey

Brothers and Others is an anthology of 28 black women authors writing about black men. Because I was tired of seeing the same old stereotypical images of black men as drug dealers, gangsters, prisoners and rappers, I sent out a call worldwide requesting stories about black women's relationships with black men. Over 500 submissions were received including essays, poetry and short stories about black men in their roles as grandfathers, fathers, uncles, nephews, husbands, sons, friends, neighbors, celebrities, lovers, brothers and others.

A magazine-style book, Brothers and Others contains pieces ranging from poetic tributes like a woman's poignant poem about her HIV-positive gay brother to a cute and classy short story about a man (from his POV) incredulous over his former big-breasted girlfriend having her bosom surgically reduced.

Book Review: Brothers and Others 

5 Stars! Reviewed by Heather Covington

"Brothers and Others is a collection of essays, poetry and short stories written by Black women from around the globe about Black men in their roles as grandfathers, fathers, uncles, nephews, husbands, sons, friends, neighbors, celebrities, lovers, brothers and others." Shocking and down to earth poetry from woman poets who hold nothing back!

BPM: Are your characters from the portrayal of real people?
A: The characters in Brothers and Others are both fictional and non. They range from a real-life HIV-positive gay man to a fictional character who is incredulous at learning his former big-breasted girlfriend had her bosom surgically reduced.

BPM: What inspired you to write these stories down and publish them?
A: The inspiration for me taking on this anthology as an editor and publisher was because I was tired of seeing the same old stereotypical images of black men as drug dealers, gangsters, prisoners and rappers. I sent out a call worldwide requesting stories about black women's relationships with black men. Over 500 submissions were received including essays, poetry and short stories about black men in their roles as grandfathers, fathers, uncles, nephews, husbands, sons, friends, neighbors, celebrities, lovers, brothers and others. The real challenge was selecting only 28 women's stories to publish. Another reason I wanted to publish this book was to get my father's story of growing up in Jim Crow Texas into print.

BPM: What did you hope to accomplish by writing this particular story?
A: I hope to bring a greater awareness of just what it means to be a black man in this world as interpreted by their biggest fans--black women.

BPM: What writers inspire you and why?
A: Besides being an independent journalist, I also write fiction. Because I'm a huge fan of prose and interesting, complex characters, I'm heavily influenced by Caribbean women writers like Edwidge Danticat and Jamaica Kincaid. Of course, I also love Toni Morrison and Zora Neale Hurston. And, I've been moved by black American novelists like Earl Shorris (Ofay) and John A. Williams (The Man Who Cried I Am). I also enjoy African authors like Nigeria's Chinua Achebe (Things Fall Apart). Because of my strong Japanese cultural roots, I'm also attracted to works by author Mishima Yukio as well as many Asian women writers. It's believed that the world's first psychological novel ever published was Tale of Genji which was written by Japanese noblewoman Murasaki Shikibu in the 11th Century. I've seen an anime version of the story, and it rocks!

BPM: What is your most valuable lesson about the publishing industry?
A: I learned that the publishing industry, like the film industry and so many others, is simply not interested in stories about people of color unless they fit into some preconceived notion of what it means to be that based on the thoughts and ideas of people who are not of color. Unable to interest any publisher in this anthology about black men written by black women, I forged ahead and published it myself.

BPM: How may our readers connect with you online?
A: Brothers and Others is currently available by contacting the publisher, Yayoi Lena Winfrey, at  or

For more information, check out the Brothers and Others Fan page on Facebook where we support all independently published works by people of color.  As for me, I'm busy working on a collection of erotic short stories about multiracial people as well as a novel about an Afro-Asian family in the Caribbean.


Intimate Conversation with Monroe S. Tarver

Monroe S. Tarver is the author and illustrator of Imagia and the Magic Pearls, an exciting adventure portraying the power of imagination. He was born and raised in Georgia, attended Savannah College of Art and Design, and currently resides in Charlotte, NC. Monroe is proud to share African American role models, and to stimulate children to expand and use their imaginative gifts.

BPM: What makes you powerful as a person and a writer? Who are your mentors?
My Imagination makes me powerful as a person and a writer. Walt Disney was my biggest mentor. I loved the world he created with his characters and always wanted to create my own world and characters -- ones that came from my imagination.

BPM: Finish this sentence - My writing offers the following legacy to future readers...
My writing helps open the door for fantasy chapter books where dark skinned characters are strong role models.

BPM: Introduce us to your book, Tales from the Mapmaker, Book 1: Imagia and the Magic Pearls.
"Imagia and the Magic Pearls" takes place in Trillow, the land of three suns. The story tells of the Elf Princess, Imagia, who lives in Upper Zembah. She spends all her time studying and has little time for friends. One day she finds a hole in the palace walls and enters the forest, even though she knows this is forbidden. She does find friends there, but has scary adventures as well. During her adventures, Imagia learns the power of imagination as well as some important life lessons.

BPM: Who were your favorites? Are your characters from the portrayal of real people?
Of course they are all my favorites, but I really like the Braidworms, Water Ostrich and the Creepod flowers. These creatures help define my world of Trillow and each has his own interesting history. I grew up with braids in my hair, so a creature like the braidworm seems natural in my world.

BPM: What specific situation or revelation prompted you to write your book?
My first trip to Disney world actually changed me forever. I felt so many things were possible.

BPM: Who do you want to reach with your book and the message within?
I believe every child has a pearl (talent). If they allow the wizards (parents, teachers) around them to help them learn as much as they can, then their pearl will become just as powerful as I've made my pearl -- my writing and drawing over the years.

BPM: What are some of their specific issues or problems addressed in Tales from the Mapmaker?
Prior to "Imagia", there's been a dearth of dark-skinned role models in children's literature.

BPM: What do you think makes your book different from others on the same subject?
There are very few, if any, Classical Fantasy Chapter books for children aged 5 to 9 to read themselves, or for parents to read to younger children. Unlike the one-sitting children's books, chapter books provide small children with a sense of anticipation, as well as a chance to fantasize about what comes next. 

BPM: Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book?
I want kids to feel free and empowered to develop and use their imagination.

BPM: Share with us your latest news or upcoming book releases. 
I'm working on the next book of the Tales From the Mapmaker series ...

BPM: How can our readers reach you online? 
I can be reached at  or 

Tales from the Mapmaker, Book 1: Imagia and the Magic Pearls 
written by Monroe Tarver 

Intimate Conversation with Evelyn Coleman

Evelyn Coleman, the Edgar nominated, award winning author writes across genres from pictures books, young adult novels to adult thrillers. Her latest books, Freedom Train and the American Girl doll Addy’s new mystery, Shadows on Society Hill have garnered rave reviews. Visit “” to watch James Earl Jones and Amber Rose Tamblyn reading her books, To Be a Drum & White Socks Only. Coleman is a former Georgia Author of the Year, Atlanta Mayor’s Fellow, Parent’s Choice Award and Carter G. Woodson Honoree and past President of Mystery Writers of America, SE and a member of International Thriller Writers. 

BPM: What makes you powerful as a person and a writer? 
Hmmm the word “power” doesn’t always appeal to me because it implies other ideas I don’t much like but I prefer to think of myself as meaningful. As a writer I hope to bring energy to readers to accomplish things they dream of doing in their own lives. To understand that change is going to happen whether you do what you want or not, so you have nothing to lose when you take chances. 

BPM: Who are your mentors? 
My mother, my deceased father, my daughters….my granddaughter and grandson, many, many “play” sisters and brothers have all mentored who I am. 

BPM: Finish this sentence- My writing offers the following legacy to future readers... 
My writing offers the following legacy to future readers... to look behind closed doors, to think deeply about your environment, to take nothing at face value and to know your own path. 

BPM: Introduce us to your book, What a Woman’s Gotta Do

What a Woman’s Gotta Do 

Trying to find out why her man did her wrong and who did him in, this woman isn't waiting to exhale--she's ready to fight back. Patricia Conley considers herself to be a brother's worst nightmare. A lifetime of hurt has made her fierce. A lifetime of victories has made her proud. And a whole lot of hope keeps her going. Now Patricia's most daring stab at happiness has come up bad: The man she was supposed to marry has stood her up. Last seen holding hands with another woman, Kenneth Lawson has vanished.

Still reeling from Kenneth's disappearance, Patricia is stunned by a series of macabre discoveries. Her car is found bathed in blood. A woman is found dead. And another too-good-to-be-true brother is offering his services. Suddenly the tough-talking Atlanta journalist doesn't know who to trust. Because in a collision of murder, religion, love, and race, Patricia has learned some extraordinary secrets--some about Kenneth Lawson, a few about herself, and one that the whole world needs to know.

BPM: Who were your favorites in What a Woman’s Gotta Do
All the characters appealed to me in one way or the other. Are your characters from the portrayal of real people? No, not really, they are all made up, of course, they are similar composites of people that I have known in my life on some level reflected in this story.

BPM: What specific situation or revelation prompted you to write your book? 
I have always loved “espionage thrillers” and that has been the books I read the most but when it came time to write my own book it seemed everyone was in love with Terry McMillan’s style….(not to infer that this was her only style) so I sat out to mimic that style. When I gave it to one of my best friends and readers Pat Carr, she scoffed. “You are so far from Terry McMillan – sorry but you have penned another thriller type story.” At first I was sad that I couldn’t do the more popular type book, but then I shrugged and begin to just write what I know…. Espionage type thriller books. 

BPM: Take us inside the book. What are two major events taking place? 
Patricia Conley, a journalist doesn’t believe in love or marriage so when she falls for her live-in lover and accepts a proposal of marriage, she is as surprised as her friends… But on her wedding day, her lover stands her up and is spotted shortly after in a restaurant holding hands with a woman…. This begins the spiral of betrayal, mystery and adventure for Patricia as she tries to unravel all the obstacles to find her man. The second major event is her going to the monastery.

BPM: Who do you want to reach with your book and the message within? 
I want to reach all people who love a good thriller. One of the best compliments I received was from a dissatisfied reader on Amazon. I paraphrase here but essentially she complained that the book moved too fast, too many twist and turns and you don’t find out what is the problem until the end of the book. Duh. 

BPM: How will reading What a Woman’s Gotta Do shape the readers lives? 
Hopefully it will open minds to all the scientific experiments and discoveries that are taking place under the radar, ones that will ultimately affect their lives.

BPM: What are some of their specific issues, needs or problems addressed in this book? 
How science affects our daily existence. How much the Dogon in Africa contributed to our understanding of the world. And how important it is to pay attention to not only what you do but what others you don’t know do as well. 

BPM: Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book? 
Insight, inquisitiveness, thoughtful reading habits and a better understanding of martial arts and the Dogon of West Africa. 

BPM: What do you think makes your book different from others on the same subject? 
There are no other thrillers on this subject. In fact when I contacted Marcel Griaule’s daughter Genevieve (both French anthropologists who studied the Dogon extensively) she cried, stating she had been waiting all her life for an African American to take more interest in the Dogon. Of course, she meant popular interest I’m sure as there were already a few African American scholars who studied the Dogon. And one of the happiest moments of my career was to hear from a Dogon scholar who said I truly “nailed” the Dogon in this book and their cosmogony.

BPM: Share with us your latest news or upcoming book releases. 
I am pondering what to write next. I have to have a subject matter that is not widely known, intriguing and has the potential to affect the world at large. It has been over ten years since I wrote What a Woman’s Gotta Do and I still hear from readers asking me when I am writing another book. All I can say is when the time is ready the story will come….I sure hope it’s soon though.

BPM: How can our readers reach you online?
Website:  There are still great reviews about What a Woman’s Gotta Do online at:  and at 

My latest book, The Freedom Train is available in bookstores. Get your copy today! Also pick up, Shadows on Society Hill, American Girl, Addy's new mystery....nominated for an Edgar Award. What a Woman's Gotta Do, my adult thriller, is still available at http://www.randomhouse.comWhite Socks Only, To Be a Drum and the Riches of Oseola McCarty all are also available. 

Also check out my friends Angela Benson, Angela Medearis, Nancy Tolson, Linda Trice, Eleanora Tate, Irene Smalls & Margaret Johnson Hodge's books. Looking for a storyteller try LaDoris Bias Davis at

Intimate Conversation with Andrea Clinton

Andrea Clinton is a novelist, poet and essayist, and aspiring screenwriter/filmmaker. As a Montclair State University graduate, she posses’ a degree in English, Film and Journalism. She’s the founder and CEO of the non-profit organization, People Helping People; worked as Editor in Chief of AMISTAD newspaper, New Jersey; and is presently working on a biography and screenplay featuring the life of her uncle George Clinton of Parliament/Funkadelic and the Clinton family. 

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?
What drives me is my passion for story telling and entertaining the readers or listeners (I've been summoned to randomly make up and tell stories). I write to enlighten or to pull the readers coattail to an issue or subject matter. I pray the impact that my books have on readers is that: The upper class begin to learn and are introduced to the other classes and what they live and experience, why they make the decisions they make, etc.; I give the middle class a chance to learn not to look down their noses at the poor or lower class, but have a respect for their struggle and to recognize that they are being played in the game as well. 

I also give the less fortunate a chance to not revere the upper class so much, as their problems are as great as their money. My writing offers the lower class a way to reach for the stars by obtaining KNOW-HOW. I teach them how to work hard to maintain that sense of "down-to-earthness" we posses, that the other classes wish they had and seek, but can't find because of the airs they put on and their ongoing evil to maintain what they have. I want to show the poor or lowered class that we really aren't missing as much as we believe, and we're much happier than we think.

BPM: Finish this sentence- My writing offers the following legacy to future readers... 
Realness with an understanding that: Our upbringing/what and how we're taught, our environment, innate qualities that we get thru genetics or are God given, instincts and drives such as Self preservation and Desires all play a role in how we turn out, how we think and the decisions we make. We have to look at all of these things and decide who we will be, hopefully enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong.

BPM: Introduce us to your new book, Life Knows No Bounds: One Who Loves You More.
The book is about Alisa, a money grubbing gold digger who's following in the foot steps of the older girls who came before her. She's got several men thinking she's their woman, and when one drops her off at home, another picks her up.

She has gold, diamonds, money and more, but when her family gets on her case about the trouble it's causing, Alisa decides to get her one man with riches to take care of her, thus Omar. Omar has his own issues trying to stop hustling drugs and going back to being the Muslim he grew up as without the street troubles, but when he and Alisa come together, it's like clash of the titans and he loses his focus. Then, Hell erupts in, "Life Knows No Bounds: One Who Loves You More."

BPM: Introduce us to your main characters in One Who Loves You More
Alisa is the main character and she is a hand full. She's not too long out of high school and acting a fool. She thinks she's grown but has much the behavior of a young minded girl in a woman's body. She shares her mind set with you but this doesn't make her inviting. She is who she is, young and dumb. But, you couldn't tell her that because she is head strong in what she feels, but is always contradicting herself with her behavior and her tongue lashes that cut like a knife. She doesn't want to face that she loves Omar because in her mind, she's still a gold digger; no strings attached and still tries to wear this title like a tiara.

BPM: Who were your favorites? Are your characters from the portrayal of real people? 
Omar was probably my favorite, he and Man-Man; I loved their friendship and dedication to having a true and real friend. I made them alike so that they would appreciate that about themselves. Omar is like most of us, succumbing to his environment but knowing he can do better and wants to do better, but stuck in the game because it's all he knew for over 10 years or so. Man-Man seems so “street” you think he just doesn't care, but, he wants peace, just doesn't know how to get it, feels trapped and never shows what he's really thinking or feeling. But they both accept where they are and have each others back while there. 

Man-Man is much like my brother Salaam, he's dead - was murdered. You could never know when he was up to something or not because like Billy the Kid, he always had this little laugh or smirk. When Omar is mad, he bites down on his jaw bone and you see the veins in his head pop out, but when Man-Man is mad, he does this little giggle, like, "hmmp - hmm hmm!" 

Omar, I created from a character I felt I could see my friend Sean Blakemore play. Sean is an actor who played in "Motives I & II" with Vivica Fox and "Restraining Order" with Robins Givens. I always wanted to make this book into a play and maybe even an HBO or SHOWTIME (or some other cable channel) series. So, I tried to envision Sean as Omar, especially since he inspired me to add more male characters and said he was down to play the role.

BPM: What makes you powerful as a person and a writer? Who are your mentors?
I would say as a person, Islam humbles me and any power I feel should probably be interpreted as blessed. As a writer, my professors back at college who helped me to think of the type of writer I wanted to be and if I wanted to be put in a little box or write creatively in many genres, they are my mentors. A good professor shows you paths and gives you one to grow on; they should mentor. My mentors are my professors I listed in my book and people I barely met like Whoopi Goldberg who graduated from Montclair State University with her masters when I graduation with my BFA. The words she spoke reminded me of the obstacles to come and helped me to set my mind straight to continue full steam ahead and not listen to naysayers, and as she emphasized, "Know that they are coming."

BPM: What specific situation or revelation prompted you to write your book?
There were too many young girls out there using men for money. Like the main character, they use men so much it's almost a form of prostitution, but they don't see it that way as they may never have sex with these men, just use them for what they can get from them.

BPM: Take us inside the book. What are two major events taking place? 
I would like to say, when Alisa and Omar decide there is definitely something there, and speak to each other with their eyes just after he gave her his leather trench; and a cross between when he addresses her about another guy and/or when they have it out at her house. I say that part because it reminds me of so many relationships where we allow our emotions to make us stubborn and hide how we really feel, and we end up not giving in to our mate and are left sad and alone.

BPM: Who do you want to reach with your book and the message within?
All the girls out there using men for money like it's a profession. They need to know the dangers of such Ways of life. I could tell you some despicable situations women have gotten themselves into messing with men in such fashions.

BPM: How will reading your book shape the readers lives? 
It will give young girls something to think about. The book challenges girls to consider getting an education; get your own money instead of using men for their money and suffering what there is to suffer, because, there is a price to pay.

BPM: What are some of their specific issues, needs or problems addressed in this book?
I guess using men for money is a quick resolve to being poor or getting the things they want. With sex so free - for - all these days, some of them look at it like a quick harmless gain if they do partake in sex for money. But majority in this new game they play are not having sex with these men they make their mark. They instead make the man think they're his woman, and then get that money, jewelry, credit cards, etc. And it's dangerous because these men REALLY think these girls are their woman, their mate. 

To top it all off, the girls have rules also. Three, four or six months tops. Then, they find some ill excuse to drop them and get a new sucker. Because there was no sex involved, meaning he waited on her, a lot of the men take it personal and feel played and some have been known to be dangerous.

BPM: Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book?
Enlightenment; enlightenment on the dangers of playing around with people's emotions, etc. When you put the book down, walk away feeling like, "What? Wow! That's an aspect I haven't heard of, thought about, seen in a while, etc." 
I want them to feel like they gained something that can help them or help them, help someone else. Really, I want them to sit as many young girls/women down and like they used to say in the '70's, "Tell 'em like it is!" Let them know feelings are precious and not to be taken lightly. Get your own! Get a degree; get a trade.

BPM: What do you think makes your book different from others on the same subject?
I don't know; I think I might, might help the reader experience the characters instead of just reading about them and saying, "Oh, that Omar is something else" or "Alisa is a trip." Because Alisa has a lot of crap with her; she's no walk in the park. But the readers will experience her and what she's going through even when they don't agree with her or understand fully what the heck she's doing or her motives. Omar, you can't help but love him, and I did that on purpose. He's much like my brother, he and Man-Man in the sense that they are lovable people, but out there doing wrong, and you hope they get it together before it's too late. For my brother, it was too late; let's see how it goes with Omar or Man-Man. 

But you don't just read this; you feel this in your chest at times. I've had some tell me as they read the chapters, they went through so many emotions from chapter to chapter and sometimes from page to page. That's the Realism genre. Real stuff making you feel mad, glad, happy or sad for the characters. Naturalism stems from Realism and Naturalism, which is the basis of the book, shows the character's self-preservation/greed drive, hustling and their desires via their attraction to one another throughout. 

And, the reader feels it, gets goose bumps or chills, and is excited to move on in the book hoping Alisa get's hers, hoping Omar get's a grip. But it's all thru the emotional aspects of the novel, not just the words on the page. I believe it's heart felt and how I arrived there, or so I've been told, was, I wrote it with the flow of a soap opera in my head. I took myself through all of that drama just to appease my readers.

BPM: Share with us your latest news, awards or upcoming book releases. 
We're about to launch our newspaper again, this will help us to contribute to supporting the hard working authors, artist, actors, and so on, as well as keep our community up on the news around the world. I think the reward right now is to be exposed to so many opportunities. I think I'll be even more rewarded when I began speaking engagements, speaking to the youth and young girls and women about this new trend. 

Upcoming releases: There's the second book in the "Life Knows No Bounds" chronicle titled, "A Blessing and A Curse," then there is a non-fiction book on Writing. So many students in high school and college are having a hard time writing properly; scoring low on SAT's and essays and research papers in school. So, I want to shed light on that. I have a writing component I used with my students and they still email me today saying Thank You because it helped them with their college writing. Those books will be forthcoming in the Spring season 2011. By fall I pray to have a book done on Critical and Analytical Thinking for tests, decision making and life. I don’t know, maybe I'll make it three different books since a book on life would take on a life of its own.

To request a complimentary review copy and press kit, or to purchase copies for resale, call: (973) 280-2729. Tear sheets may be sent by email:  

Intimate Conversation with Adolphus Herndon

Born and raised in northeast Texas, Adolphus Herndon spent many years of his adult life doing nothing but surviving day to day. Working mediocre jobs and reared in an environment where people thought a couple of dollars above minimum wage was “making it”, he wasted time doubting his abilities of becoming an author. When his frustration factor finally eclipsed his fear factor, he said a little prayer and started scribbling and scrabbling to fulfill his life-long passion. Five Thin Slices of Truth is his first published book. 

BPM: Introduce us to your book, Five Thin Slices of Truth
Five Thin Slices of Truth is not your typical novel because it is not a novel. It comprises three short stories plus two novellas. Each story is independent and exclusive but the entire project is spawned from controversial real-life issues dealing with sexuality, religious dogma and faith, psychotic behavior, self-denial, racism and patriotism. 

BPM: Who were your favorites? Are your characters from the portrayal of real people?
Of course since this is not a typical novel it would be unfair to say which of “my children” are my favorites. My sister and mother have read my book—and they are not avid readers period—anyway, throughout their readings they’d call me and ask if this situation of that character is real, or if it was me. I laugh it off because I believe all fictional stories derive from [to pun] “slices of truth” from all authors, whether that truth is direct, tangible experience, or indirect. I must say that I have an extremely vivid imagination and have been blessed with the ability to grossly exaggerate a situation, an event, a news story, or even a phrase. For the sake of my book, Five Thin Slices of Truth, all my characters, situations and settings are by and large fiction. 

BPM: What makes you powerful as a person and a writer? Who are your mentors?
a.1. I love this question! What makes me powerful is my stubborn, persistent attitude. If any of my family and friends hear this, they would laugh and nod their heads in agreement. Also, my faith. True-to-life example: I am a new self–published author. Before I realize all the work that it takes to get published, I truly believe that my book will do very well. Now one may call that over confident, but I understand that in order for me to back those words up, I will have to be on my grind. To be totally honest, I have discovered that the real work was not the creation of my stories, (the editing, re-editing, rewriting, photo and cover designs, structure and organizing). 

No, no, no, the real work is the business side of getting it out to the masses. This means I will have to uncomfortably meet with media, attend events, and speak out to do all the PR and marketing that is totally essential for success. The bottom line, I believe all artists prefer to do their art more so than all the administrative, managing, accounting and all the pieces of business. Business is not the art, it is the necessity to continue the success of the art. Self-publishing is very fatiguing and cumbersome, however, I sometimes don’t realize it because I am so on fire, doing that which I actually like. 

a.2. This leads me to the second part of the question as to what makes me a powerful writer. Simply, I love to write good fiction and I like to image where in the world, time of day and type of persons actually reading my works of fiction. As of now and as an independent writer, I have more of a lee-way to write without much big-publication interference. Now I cannot say that will always be the case in the future. What makes me a powerful writer is my desire to write and the fact that I am motivated by readers who are tantalized for more of my talent. 

b. My mentors: My unofficial mentors are, Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret, and the legendary author, Walter Mosley. 

BPM: Finish this sentence- My writing offers the following legacy to future readers... 
My writing offers the following legacy to future readers... insatiable and “edu-taining” fiction.

BPM: What specific situation or revelation prompted you to write your book?
To write has always been a desire. I feel it has been a calling that I have been ignoring for years. I believe it was when I turned thirty that I practically woke up everyday asking myself, “Is today the day you will began to write?” Some years later after thirty, I went to the church at the time I was a member and I received my revelation. 

I was sitting in the pews amongst approximately 200 congregates, and I could almost swear the preacher was speaking directly to me. His sermon or teaching was about staying focused, conquering fears and fulfilling life destiny. He stated that too many Christians are satisfied with less and denying their God gifted talents, yet they are eewing and ahhing over people whom they believe are lucky and more fortunate. He broke it down and basically said, while most people would watch the idiot box for hours, run the streets, or gossiping, those who did not indulge in those unproductive behaviors became successful because they worked what God had placed inside of them, their gifts. Therefore, we are in awe of their results when it should be us. 

BPM: Take us inside the book, Five Thin Slices of Truth. What are two major events taking place?
When you crack open the book, I intentionally created stories that would make it difficult to put the book down. Instead of just two major events, the reader will journey into five different worlds dealing with sexuality, self-identity issues, spirituality and faith, racism and stereotypes and patriotism. All five stories are exclusive and independent. They have their own alphas and omegas. 

BPM: Who do you want to reach with your book and the message within?
I created the stories based on situation that I desire to influence an outcome:
Story 1, Me and My House: Upon the conclusion, one would have to question their own spirituality and religious commitment.

Story 2, Before the Morning After: The bottom line is be yourself or else face the consequences.

Story 3, The Rant of Roymon Bivens: The reader will interpret many different messages from this is story. However, the bottom line is don’t be quick to judge because the enemy can use those stereotypes to deceive the masses.

Story 4, Purple Hurt: This novella has two messages. First, it is about patriotism and heroism from an unlikely person. Second, the don’t ask, don’t tell policy doesn’t matter. How ironic that I’d write a story and publish at a time where our President of these United States is working on a plan to repeal the policy. This story is chic and hot, and I really believe it is unique to the current political climate.

Story 5, Angel on a Fire: This story is basically about doing for others results in the ultimate pleasure and satisfaction. To deny that fact means picking up bad habits, addictions and bad philosophies about life and people. 

BPM: How will reading your book shape the readers lives?
People will either see themselves, someone they know, or both. Either way, they will enjoy it because it is in-your-face entertainment. 

BPM: What are some of their specific issues, needs or problems addressed in this book? 
Religious dogma and faith, self-denial and trying to play cards that have not been dealt to you, the desire to serve this great nation should not be limited based on sexual orientation, and there’s no reward in being self-centered behavior; and be careful when judging people.

BPM: Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book? 
To be entertained and to understand that although the issues are based on slices of truth, please enjoy good fiction.

BPM: What do you think makes your book different from others on the same subject?
For a debut publication, I have a compilation of various genres and subject matters: thrill and suspense, dark comedy, melo-drama all into various subject matters (sexuality, religious, identity, etc.).

BPM: Share with us your latest news or upcoming book releases. 
This is just published, approx. 3 months ago and I pray for its success and I pray for it to be nominated for awards. We have also released an eBook version of this book that can be read on a Kindle, PC, iPhone, and iPod touch. The eBook is titled Five Thin Slices of Truth: Kindle eBook Edition and is available at for only $9.95 compared to $14.95 for the print edition.

BPM: How can our readers reach you online? 
You can reach us through,  buy the book and post comments on and follow me at  and  

Contact Information:
Adolphus Herndon

c/o Czar Struck LLC
P.O. Box 2254, Center, TX 75935

Intimate Conversation with Gertrude J. Chapman

Gertrude J. Chapman
is an Expert Motivational Speaker, Radio Host and Author whose focus is centered on encouraging people to live the life they were created to live. The motivational messages inspire individuals to elevate their minds, by offering messages of hope. Stop settling and start living!  The topics challenge the audience to reprogram their minds, take charge of their lives, believe in themselves and experience breakthroughs.

BPM: What makes you powerful as a person and a writer? 
I am confident in my gifts, talents and abilities, because it is my purpose in life to motivate others to greatness. It is what lights me up. I find joy in encouraging others to find their purpose. The joy of seeing someone connecting with their dream from reading my book or after attending one of my conferences is my inner strength. 

As a creative person once I realized that I can create my own world I wanted to share with everyone that they can do the same. My power lies in my experiences how I was able to turn unfavorable situations around, by choosing to change some things in my life.  From those experiences that are tried and proven I am able to show others what they can do to bring changes to their lives. Experience gives me power to boldly show someone that there is hope and not to settle for less. 

BPM: Who are your mentors? Where do you find your inspiration?
My mentors are Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry. In some ways I can identify with them, because I have gone through some extremely hard places in my life. 

In spite of their early misfortunes they endeavored to make something happen in their lives. Oprah grew up in abject poverty to become one of the most successful women in the world. Tyler fought his way from being homeless to write and produce many top grossing films.  These two people I most admire, because they found within themselves power to rise up from their situations and walk in their high callings. They use the low places in their lives to bring joy to others through their inspiration and unselfish love to bring hope to people around the globe.

I too find inspiration in helping others. If I can show someone who is struggling how to succeed in life that is what inspires me. Inspiring others gives me life and fuels me to continue to reach beyond and deep within myself to pull out golden nuggets to advance another person toward their goal in life. It bothers me to see people living below their potential. Everyone has a purpose and many people have yet to realize their dreams. Helping someone to realize their dream and stop living paycheck to paycheck is what lights me up. 

BPM: Introduce us to Motivation From Within: Leveraging Your Power.
“Motivation From Within…Leveraging Your Power,” will show you how anyone can rise up from severe circumstances and be the person they were destined to be.

As you read this book you will be motivated to unpeel yourself from the inside out and step outside of the walls of your comfort zone. Remember when you were a child you would imagine yourself being what was in your heart. You saw yourself laughing, talking and planning all though the images you created in your mind, but what happened?

What caused those precious ideas to drift back behind the curtains of your soul? Have you ever thought what it would be like to accomplish your desires and follow those dreams? Tap into that slight gleam of hope buried on the inside of you and push your way through the clutter. Whatever dysfunctional atmosphere that shadows you under its cloud will have to release you. Remember, when things seem the darkest in your life, know this, these are the keys which stirs you to greatness.

BPM: What specific situation prompted you to write Motivation From Within: Leveraging Your Power?
I wrote this book to show people that there is nothing impossible to them. Especially now when so many people have lost their jobs and homes. I felt that this was a time to encourage them not to throw in the towel and give up. Each person has a purpose and can use their gifts, talents and abilities to live the life of their dreams without the stress. 

It is not about depending on someone else, or what is outside of them; everything that they need is within them. I wanted to show a person that there is greatness on the inside of each individual to live their life to the fullest. I believe that when someone is aligned with their purpose and/or dream in life there is no struggling. 

BPM: Take us inside the book. What are two major events taking place? 
The two major events taking place is showing a person how to elevate their mind to align with their dream and bring stability to their thinking pattern.

To show an individual that they can change their life whenever they make a decision that allows for no turning back. The power lies within and is there to move a person into their destiny.

BPM: Who do you want to reach with your book and the message within?
I want to reach everyone who is frustrated with their current living conditions and looking to elevate themselves to live according to their desires. 

If someone is asking: 
•How to affirm myself?
•How to reprogram my mind from thinking negative?
•How to recapture my dreams?
•How to be the master of my own destiny?
•How to take charge of my life?
•How to become more powerful, more determined and more focused than ever before?
•How to believe in me when no one else does?
•How to finally trust my own intuitions?

BPM: How will reading your book shape the readers lives?
After reading “Motivation From Within: Leveraging Your Power,” the readers will experience more confidence, because they will be realigned on the path to their purpose. They will begin to physically see doors of opportunity open for them, by implementing a few simple things. 

BPM: What are some of the specific issues, needs or problems addressed in this book?
•How to get rid of fear, by using it as a stepping stone
•Recognizing distractions and how to turn your situation around
•How not to allow limitations to hinder your progress, by elevating your mind to believe the impossible and pull your destiny into your future

BPM: What was the most powerful chapter in the book?
The most powerful chapter in the book is Chapter 7: Live Out Loud in Power and Authority. That phrase speaks volumes, because it will show a person that no matter what the situation they can have the final say so. A person will recognize who they are and the power and authority that resides on the inside of them and watch their life change for the good.

BPM: Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book?
I want readers to come away empowered to live the life that they so desire. To stop settling for less than their worth and recognize that they are somebody no matter where they have come from or where they currently find themselves in life. 

No one is an afterthought, but each person is a unique individual with unique qualities to be a world-changer. Readers will be challenged to allow their gifts, talents and abilities to make a difference in another person’s life to enable that individual to rise to the occasion.

BPM: What do you think makes your book different from others on the same subject?
This is my purpose and passion to take from my experiences and struggles in life to bring fulfillment to another. Through my writing there is power. Writing and speaking are my gifts and have the ability to propel the reader or listener to another level, only if that individual believes and has a desire to change.

So, I do not compare myself to others I am just doing what I was created to do and that is to be able to motivate people through my writing and speaking. I am just trying to reach people who I am destined to reach and share my unique abilities.

BPM: Share with us your latest news or upcoming book releases.
I used “Motivation From Within: Leveraging Your Power,” Book Launching Celebrations a motivator to ignite the dreams in others. Especially in our studio, our guests came away with much needed information to help them in their endeavors. We are still receiving emails from this event.

There are several major projects in the works. If you would like to find out more information about our events you can join our Monthly Newsletter 

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

Gertrude J Chapman
Expert Motivational Speaker, Radio Host, Author 

Purchase from Amazon, Motivation From Within: Leveraging Your Power 

Please contact me for additional questions or to schedule a date or time to speak with Mrs. Chapman 

Author Sharon R. Wells Draws on Her Past 
to Create a Resource Guide for Sexual Abuse Victims

Last year was a landmark year for Sharon R. Wells. One year ago she created a business called Angel Wings Publications, LLC, and a website designed to empower and educate victims who suffer a wide range of repercussions resulting from sexual abuse. 

Today she celebrates the one-year anniversary of her organization at the same time that she anticipates the publication of her first book, "Without Permission." "Without Permission" is a candidly-written story of the many problems Wells has suffered, all of them the result of the sexual abuse she experienced as a child. 

Book and Website Helps Victims, Friends and Families Struggling
 with the Effects of Sexual Abuse 

The mission of her website and her book is both simple and critically important - to build the awareness that can help prevent sexual abuse in the future. 

"I decided to open up and tell my story in the hopes that it may help spare others the pain of sexual abuse," Wells stated. "I have had the opportunity to speak at a few panel discussions. I look forward to other such speaking engagements in the future. My most important goal is to encourage victims to break their silence and begin to heal. I also hope to educate and inform people so that they may recognize the various signs of potential abuse and hopefully prevent other children from becoming victims too." 

She has published her introduction along with the first chapter of "Without Permission" on her website as a free resource to people needing help. For people who wish to know her entire story, the book will soon be available at  for $15. 

"It is my fondest hope that 'Without Permission' will inform people about the effects of sexual abuse and encourages sexual abuse survivors to heal," said Wells. "I also believe my website can be a wonderful resource for victims and the people who love them. If my book and website can make a difference in just one person's life, then it will all be worth it." 

Further information about Sharon R. Wells, her website and "Without Permission" is available online at  

Sharon R. Wells, is a writer, entrepreneur, survivor and advocate of sexual abuse prevention and awareness. It has been her determination, unwavering faith and perseverance that has helped her to overcome many challenging obstacles in her life. She has written heartfelt, spiritual and inspirational essays during her healing journey. This has inspired her to create Angel Wings Publications, LLC, to help victims find strength, hope and courage to begin their healing process. 

Sharon presently works as an executive liaison for a prestigious fortune five hundred company located in New York City. Over the past few years, she has achieved a certification in Human Resource Management and is also a certified rape crisis advocate. 

Book Excerpt: Without Permission A Spiritual Journey of Healing 

"Without Permission" is my personal story of how I have survived child sexual abuse and my journey towards healing, forgiveness and finding inner-peace. 

As I look back at the turbulence in my life which stemmed from sexual abuse, it lead me down a path of self-destructive behavior. It included drug abuse, relationship and trust issues with family and friends. Not to mention, the long list of typical effects that this particular type of abuse tends to spawn. 

In addition, are stories of courageous survivors who share their stories on how they have overcome their trauma and began to heal. The stories of victims may differ in various ways, but the root of the problem is still the same. I share these thoughts with those who seek comfort and closure. This problem can torment the victim from childhood throughout their adult lives. This is a sensitive issue, and for those who have been affected, this may open a door where you find courage to seek help and support. This is an issue that must be addressed, and up until now, has had a lack of exposure. It is time to unveil the secrets without shame or fear, and trust that God will help you find inner peace.

Angel Wings Publications, LLC
Sharon R. Wells, Author & Founder

P.O. Box 96 
Vauxhall, NJ 07088


Intimate Conversation with Nanette M. Buchanan

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. This dynamic author is looking forward to making writing a full time career after retiring from her current position with the State of New Jersey .

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” and the release of her first volume of poetry, “Thoughts” an e-book hit the market.  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.

Ella: Nanette, introduce us to your new book, Bruised Love.
Cassandra Smith, Mary Smith, Trevor Black, Lamont Dearling and the others, take the reader through pages of a riveting story of love, betrayal and murder. 

Bruised Love Introduction:  “When love leaves a bruise, does it ever heal?”  The answer is show in the lives of the characters introduced in this dramatic novel.  

Cassandra Smith, who left home for love, finds herself accepting abuse.  She has returned home to find her internal strength.  Mary Smith realizes her love for her daughter, Cassandra, has been smothered by her hatred for Trevor Black, the lover her daughter chose.  She must rekindle their severed relationship before it’s too late.  Lamont Dearling has been warned, “A woman who has been abused, can never understand real love.”, but nothing including Trevor Black will keep him from pursuing his childhood sweetheart, Cassandra Smith.  Trevor Back, the abusive love and part time father of Cassandra’s four children, has found he is no longer on top of his “game”.  His abusive dealings on the street, other women and now Cassandra has caused problems that bring deadly consequences.  

Ella: 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.

Ella: 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?”  

Ella: Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite?  
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.   

Ella: 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.

Ella: 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. 

Ella: 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.

Ella: Share with us your latest news  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.

Bruised Love Video:  

Intimate Conversation with Kasey Summerville

Kasey L. Summerville is the first African American to be elected to a county-wide office in Clark County, Arkansas. Currently in her fourth term as Assessor for Arkansas’ Clark County, she was born in Flint, Michigan. Kasey relocated to Arkadelphia, Arkansas, to live with her grandmother at the age of eleven (11).

Kasey has been involved in her community all of her adult life. An active member of the Saint Paul A.M.E. Church, she has faithfully served in many capacities. Mrs. Summerville also serves on a few local boards and works with many organizations. She was distinguished as the State of Arkansas’ Assessor of the Year in 2005, and noted as one of 20 to watch in 2007 by the Arkansas Democrat Gazette Tri-Lakes Edition. She further received the Kenneth Eddy Award in 2008, an annual award designated for an outstanding assessor who made a positive difference for the Assessors Association. Governor Mike Beebe recently appointed Kasey to the State Land Information Board. 

In her spare time she enjoys spending time with family and friends, listening to music, exercising, and reading inspirational books and magazines. Kasey and her husband, William, have two children.

"Bridges & Footstools compiles in one place, an inspirational group of quotes by multiple notable authors which will be a valuable tool to speakers, writers, teachers, leaders or any individuals who need a word of encouragement for themselves or to offer to someone else."  --  Dr. Jocelyn Elders

Ella: Who or what inspired you to write your book, Bridges & Footstools?
The book is a collection of quotes that I have collected for the past several years. It started out as me just regularly sharing them with selected friends and family. One suggested I should consider preserving all of them in a collection. At that moment I thought to myself, “One day I will create a book that will contain some of my favorite quotes.” Hence, the book was conceived.

Ella: How did you come up with the title, Bridges & Footstools
As I got closer to completing the book, it occurred to me I still had no title. I reflected on how these quotes were encouraging to my own journey. Daily, they have helped me negotiate some difficult bridges and enabled me to continue to forge ahead (and higher). My late grandmother, Mrs. Delia Mae Stephens, use to always quote a Bible verse that says the Lord will "...make your enemies your footstools.” The word “footstool” stood out to me and seemed to resonate in my spirit. The idea of “bridges” and “footstools” continued to loom in my mind, and eventually that title was chosen. My hope is that these quotes will, too, inspire others to overcome their bridges and to confidently mount their footstools so they can reach higher.

Ella: How does it relate to you, your family, and friends?
This book represents a rich tradition in our family of self-definition, entrepreneurship, networking, teamwork, and community. The entire project was accomplished networking with family, friends, and associates. As it begins with an inspirational foreword by Dr. Jocelyn Elders, the book is a collection of thought-provoking and insightful words for people of all ages. It also offers readers an opportunity to journal their thoughts and ideas.

Ella: Is this the beginning of many more to come?
I really hadn’t given the idea of a sequel or other publications any thought. This project sort of emerged out of my passion to share with others a positive message. Remarkably, I have found this to be a great way to do just that.

Ella: Since the launch of Bridges & Footstools, has your life changed? If so, in what ways? 
Since the conception of Bridges & Footstools my life has not really changed that much. I am simply more aware of my purpose to encourage others, and this endeavor serves to confirm my commitment to continue. It does give me a delightful sense of accomplishment and I am very grateful for the opportunities God presents to allow me to lift the spirits of others.

Ella: How long did it take you to write Bridges & Footstools
My habit to save quotations began ten years ago, and never with the thought to ever compile them into a book. Once the idea was presented and I obtained peace about publishing them, the assignment took several months.

Ella: Who did you tell first about your book?
Of course, my immediate family was first. Beyond them, a few individuals became my sounding boards for loving and critical advice. Most assuredly, my pastor, Rev. James H. Giles (St. Paul A.M.E. Church), offered wise counsel as I traversed these unchartered waters.

Ella: What do you hope this book does for the readers?
Prayerfully, the book will do for readers the exact same thing it has done for me; and that is to motivate and inspire the reader to "march on" irrespective of their given challenges.

Ella: Is it a book geared for the family, or an individual?
The book is designed for everyone to read, however it could easily stimulate a family or office conversation about overcoming difficulty and staying determined.

Ella: There are hands and butterflies on the cover. Do these have any significance to the book?
This cover was designed by Denise Billups with Borel Graphics in Chicago, IL. After several conversations with Denise, the cover was created. She gave much thought and consideration to my heart and personality, as well as the overall content of the book. I think the cover will speak to an array of browsers in an appealing way. The open hands aim to portray inclusivity and letting go, and the butterflies convey the ideas of growth and freedom.

For more information or to order the book, visit my website  

Kasey L. Summerville
P O Box 834, Arkadelphia, AR 71923

Intimate Conversation with R. Jenkins-Oliver 

R. Jenkins-Oliver was born and raised in McIntosh County Georgia . She is the oldest of four children, and is a graduate of Todd-Grant High School , Margaret M. Washington, and Brunswick College . She has worked for the FBI, as a health care professional, and was an entrepreneur. She has appeared in several industrial and feature films. 

Ella: What make you powerful as a person and as a writer?
I think what makes me powerful as a person is that I’m proactive, an empathic listener, respectful, I’m willing to support and network with others. I plan ahead and I always have more than one plan. I welcome criticism because there is always room for improvement. And most of all I commune with the Holy Spirit every day of my life.

I consider myself a powerful writer because my writing was inspired by a higher power. I would have never thought in my wildest dreams that I would have ever written a book and become a published author because I have never challenged myself to be a creative person.

Ella: Who are your mentors? Where do you find you inspiration?
I find my inspiration in my faith. My mentors are people who encouraged and inspired me to trust in my faith and to stay focused on my goals in life. 

Ella: Finish this sentence- My writing offers the following legacy to future readers...
My writing offers the following legacy to future readers: My writing offers the reader a glimpse of what life was like for so many African Americans before us, and what they had to endure in their lives to survive the injustice they received. 

Ella: Introduce us to your book, 1878 the Life and Times of Henry Forest. 
1878 is based on the life of Henry Forest , who lived during the late 1800’ until the mid 1900’s. The fourth son of a farmer, Henry was born in 1878 on a farm in Georgia. He and his brothers were raised to be hard-working and responsible men, to marry and raise their own families. Henry married a young woman named Mollie, with no farm of his own; he decided to work for another farmer in Dexter. The book is written in a mixture of Geechee and Gullah dialect which is still spoken in the area today and almost entirely in dialogue.  

Shortly after Jack Johnson won the heavy weight championship of the world in July, 1910, racial tension ignited around the country. Henry gets involved in a fight with a number of white men who made racist comments about blacks with the rise of the Klu Klux Klan. Wanted by the FBI and afraid of getting killed, he moves to Eulonia and assumes the name Robert. He spent the rest of his life living in fear for his life and the life of the family he left behind. 

Ella: Who were your favorite characters in 1878 the Life and Times of Henry Forest?
The main characters in the book are Henry, John, Joe, Viola and Hettie. My favorite characters in 1878 are Henry, Ben, and Joe. Henry was a hard working man who lived for his family; he was determined to survive.
He made a decision that haunted him for years, but through it all he never lost his faith in God.

Ben grew up before reconstruction, and he knew that a colored man only chance for survival was to keep his opinions to himself and to stay out of trouble. He loved his grand children and he told them stories about what could happen if they didn’t stay in their place.  Joe was a man who opened his home to Henry while he worked as a sharecropper to earn a living for his family. Over the years Joe became fond of Henry and treated him like a son. 

Ella: What specific situation prompted you to write 1878 the Life and Times of Henry Forest?
The Holy Spirit placed it in my heart to write the story. I think the reason the Holy Spirit gave the vision to me to write the story was because there were whispers about Henry’s life as a young man, but in later years at a family reunion, the secrets came out that he had a different life and identity before he came to Eulonia. 

Once I received the missing parts to the story, I had no idea where to start the story. That’s when I started having the dreams about people that I never knew. In the dreams I heard their voices and saw their faces. That’s why the story is written almost entirely in dialogue and in dialect.

Ella: What is the most powerful chapter in the book?
The most powerful chapter in the book is when Viola and Hettie met while working at a motel in Eulonia, and the two of them discovered that they grew up hearing the same story about one of their family members. 

Ella: What do you think makes your book different from others on the same subject? 
I think that Henry’s story is unique because there were so many who found themselves in a similar situation and didn’t survive because they were murdered before they could get their day in a court of law to tell their sides of the story before a jury of their peers. 

Ella: Who do you want to reach with your book and the message within?
I think the story sends a message to Americans that we as a people have made many achievements together in racial relations and we have freedom of speech in the 21st century especially when compared to the era when this event happen in the early 20th century. However, we can be encouraged that improvements are being made in spite of what’s going on behind closed doors. 

Ella: How will reading your book shape the readers life?
I think the story invites the reader to experience a vivid and engaging bird’s eye view of what life was like for African America during the dark period in American history. The experience can stir up personal feelings of joy, pain, suffering and despair as the reader enters in to the world of the characters. 

Ella: How can readers reach you online?
Readers can reach me via email 

Book seller link:  or web page   
Also, readers should be able go into bookstores and order the book.

Intimate Conversation with Pat Bertram

Pat Bertram is a native of Colorado and a lifelong resident. When the traditional publishers stopped publishing her favorite type of book — character and story driven novels that can’t easily be slotted into a genre — she decided to write her own. Daughter Am I is Bertram’s third novel to be published by Second Wind Publishing, LLC. 

About Daughter Am I: When twenty-five-year-old Mary Stuart learns she inherited a farm from her recently murdered grandparents-grandparents her father claimed had died before she was born-she becomes obsessed with finding out who they were and why someone wanted them dead. Along the way she accumulates a crew of feisty octogenarians-former gangsters and friends of her grandfather. She meets and falls in love Tim Olson, whose grandfather shared a deadly secret with her great-grandfather. Now Mary and Tim need to stay one step ahead of the killer who is desperate to dig up that secret. This is a story of quests: a quest for truth, a quest for self-discovery, a quest for meaning even at the end of one's life.

Ella: Tell us a little about your main characters in Daughter Am I.  Who was your favorites? Why?
A: Mary is a bit naive about life, a bit lost, and very straight-laced, but when she meets up with her grandfather's friends --all people who have spent their long lives on the outskirts of the law -- she learns what is important: that one must do anything to protect those she loves. And she does come to care deeply about the elders in her care. How can Mary’s journey be anything but fun with companions such as these:

Kid Rags, a dapper forger, seems to have two interests in life — drinking bourbon and eating copious amounts of food.
Crunchy, an ex-wrestler, threatens to crunch anyone who doesn’t treat Mary well.
Teach, a con man, tells Mary more than she ever wanted to know about gangsters, Wyatt Earp, and life.
Happy, an ex-wheelman for the mob, is ready with his gun though his hands shake too much to aim, let alone shoot.
Iron Sam, a dying hit man just released from prison, has his own, secret agenda.

At various times during the writing, each character became my favorite. I especially liked Happy, because he offered so many opportunities for humor, and Iron Sam, because he offered so many opportunities for spookiness.

Ella: Are your characters from the portrayal of real people?
A: I borrowed the name "Kid Rags" from a turn of the 20th century gangster, and I borrowed some of the characteristics of Iron Sam from a real killer of the same era, but for the most part, I created the characters from scratch. Or from various parts of my own psyche, perhaps.

Ella:  What inspired you to write this story, Daughter Am I?
A:  A friend used to regale me with tales of early gangsters, debunking the myths that surrounded them, and I wanted to write a book using the truth as a backdrop to a modern-day gangster tale. Also, I wanted to write a story of a quest using the hero's journey format. The two desires come together in Daughter Am I.

Ella:  What issues in today's society have you addressed in the book?
A. Though it was never a goal when writing the book, I did touch on the issue of the elderly. We forget that they once were young, once were vibrant, once perhaps were great lovers or great heroes. Even when one is old and forgotten, one still needs love and more importantly, a reason for living.

Ella:  What is the best piece of advice you would give to an aspiring author?
A:  A book begins with a single word. Many novice writers get intimidated by the thought of writing an entire novel, but all you ever need to write is one word. I know that’s not much of a goal, but in the end, it is the only goal. That’s how every book all through the ages got written -- one word at a time. By stringing single words together, you get sentences, then paragraphs, pages, chapters, an entire book. After that, who knows, you might even reach the pinnacle and become a published author. All because you set your goal to write one word.

Ella:  Share with us your latest news or upcoming book releases. 
A: My fourth novel, Light Bringer, will be published later this year by Second Wind Publishing. The hero of Light Bringer, Becka Johnson had been abandoned on the doorstep of a remote cabin in Chalcedony, Colorado when she was a baby. Now, thirty-seven years later, she has returned to Chalcedony to discover her identity, but she only finds more questions. Who has been looking for her all those years? Why are those same people interested in fellow newcomer Philip Hansen? Who is Philip, and why does her body sing in harmony with his? And what do either of them have to do with a shadow corporation that once operated a secret underground installation in the area?

Ella:  Where can people learn more about your books and events?
I have a website --  -- where I post important information, including the first chapters of each of my books, but the best way to keep up with me, my books, and my events on a daily basis is by way of Bertram’s Blog.  

All of my books (A Spark of Heavenly Fire, More Deaths Than One, and Daughter Am I) are available both in print and in ebook format. You can get them online at Second Wind Publishing --  and Smashwords --  And from Amazon, of course.

Intimate Conversation with Renee A.

Ella: Where are you from? How did you start your writing journey?
My name is Renee A. and I am from Fort Worth, Texas. I fell in love with the power of pen and paper as a teenager. I loved the way paper smelled, felt and understood that I could write amazing stories taking my mind on a journey of endless possibilities. I find it intriguing to grace the blank lines on paper with various genres of poetry and love laced fiction. That is how my journey into writing evolved. Because I’m an avid reader my days were spent admiring the amazing creativity of authors skillfully bringing characters to life. 

Their works were so inspiring that as a result of it I realized that this was something I could do as well.  To date I have written my debut book called : DYSFUNCTIONAL BEGINNINGS and two poetry chap booklets called: Write To Your Heart and Just A Little Bit Naughty. 

Additionally I do motivational pieces. I’m an active reviewer for and I’ve done contributing writing for Awareness Magazine. To date I’m putting the finishing touches on a fictional book of short stories called: COME INSIDE ME. I am on a journey that consumes an enormous portion of my life, and I’m thoroughly enjoying the ride. 

Ella: Introduce us to your new book, Dysfunctional Beginnings by Author Renee A
Taylor is a victim of a family ripped apart over an unforgivable indiscretion. Searching for an outlet from the pain she falls deeply in love with Bobby a love that ends before it could begin. In an effort to pick up the pieces of her life she leaves Dallas to start over. In the process she makes mistakes that cost her big time. She ends up paralyzed, used, and severely depressed. Desperate to escape from years of gut wrenching pain she contemplates rather a DYSFUNCTIONAL BEGINNING should dictate her ending ! 

It is my hope that the readers of Dysfunctional Beginnings will find it interesting and unpredictable. I wanted it to be a book that if they let someone borrow it, they would make sure it gets right back to them. Holding on to an authors book is a monumental compliment to their hard work.

Ella: Who are your two main characters and what do you like most about them?
Two of my main characters are Taylor and Mitch. What I like most about Taylor is that she’s a fighter. She goes through enough drama to make the weak seek refuge, but she doesn’t surrender to what intends to devastate her. Her heart gets battered, dampening her spirit, but life is for the living so she licks her wounds by day, then cry in the wee wee hours of the night. Love visits her door regularly, but it won’t take a seat when she invites it in. A sure sign that turbulence is inevitable. Intimacy is plentiful, but its difficult for her to appreciate it because her heads not in the game. Her body has a reserved sign on it, but the drivers in her bed seem to have difficulty reading.

Mitch is the other main character that made me like him. He considers himself a ladies man, but his women gives him a run for his money. Sure some of them would ask how high if he told them to jump, but only before he gratifies them. His claim to fame is his manhood. He makes women beg for what he thinks is incredible. His character amazes me because he thinks that everything that goes wrong in his life is someone else’s fault. He doesn’t accept responsibility for any of his shortcomings. To appreciate how big of a trip he is one would have to read the book to laugh in his face. But you won’t laugh for long, find out why. 

Ella: What makes your book standout and would entice a reader to pick it up?
My book stands out because I took a unique approach when I wrote it. I deliberately left out what I call fillers. I got right to the point in all of my chapters. Living in a time when we are pressed daily for time I didn’t want to bog my readers down with multiple, avoidable words, that once dissected could have been summed up in less time. How many times have you started a book and just couldn’t stick with it because it rambled on and on without getting to the point. A book should have a smooth flow and I hope I accomplished that goal, it certainly was my intent.
What I did to entice a reader to pick up my book was give my cover an interesting appeal. An attention grabbing summary and I made myself approachable as an author. I realized when I was trying to make my book marketable if it didn’t look good to me, it wasn’t going to look good to anyone else. 

Ella: Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your work?
What I want readers to gain from my work is that this wasn’t a fly by night book. I took all the time needed to peak my readers interest. I filled the book with crucial amounts of drama, surprises, funny situations, intense sexual encounters and careful thought when it came to maneuvering my characters. I want my readers to be excited about this book as well as my next projects. They will see that my writing isn’t far fetched, its fictional of course, but could be as real as a next door neighbor. 

Ella: What is the most surprising thing you have learned in creating books?
Wow! I took a whipping when I went through the process of creating my book. Nothing was as it seemed. I ran for cover on many occasions. But my dream was at stake so I rebounded. By far the most surprising thing I learned is that the big retail industry tend to turn their backs on you, treating your work like its some past time hobby if you chose the self publishing route. Pushing aside the fact that authors self published or not looking for a future in this business work hard on their craft. Equally surprising for me was the query game. Sending my work over and over to different editors that don’t know me, nor I them, to hold their opinion of my work up for long periods of time then possibly turning me away. I chose instead to put my trust in my readers, who’s opinion mattered to me, giving them an interesting book written to please their literary appetite. 

Ella: What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer?
By far my most significant achievement as a writer is the completion of my debut book Dysfunctional Beginnings. I poured all my energy into this book delivering what I would expect if I was reading a book. I tried to make the material in the book as realistic as possible. I wanted this book to be a great conversational piece and definitely a serious consideration for book clubs around the world. To me it’s a euphoric feeling to receive compliments from someone appreciating your work. It’s indescribable. When I put my book in a few hands and was given a high five response and was asked what was coming next I knew the literary world left me a place and space to live my dream. 

Let me see. How did I do it. Well the first thing I did was hold a meeting of the minds with my characters. The process went as follows : I told them they were welcome to star in my book but they were going to have to carry their own weight. If for any reason they lost their zest they would be set aside for a future project. We understood our roles so I let them show me their stuff. As a result of it we feel like we came up with a book that could go toe to toe with the best of the books out there. Seriously it was a long, tough process. I had tons of writers blocks, and start and stops, but I kept staring at the big picture. As a result of it Dysfunctional Beginnings is a reality.

Ella: What advice would you give a new writer ? Would you change anything about your journey?
My advice to a new writer first of all would be if at all possible, find a place other than your home to write. Some days I would be hard at work writing and couldn’t get my mind off doing the laundry, cooking, etc. I also found out quickly that this is a very serious, competitive business. Don’t lose site of that. If you don’t believe me step out there like a lamb and I guarantee you’ll be running for cover. Take your time and get it right. No one’s perfect, but be as close to it as possible. Do your homework, find resources, mentors, network, talk until you’re blue in the face about your vision. Finally don’t wear your feelings on your sleeves, rejection is a bitch, but behind every no, there is a yes. Find that yes.

Would I change anything about my journey. Of course I would. I was often gullible and I ran across people that took advantage of that trait. I always thought people had my best interest at stake but that was a pipe dream. However, I did run across a true friend and author that let me laugh and cry on her shoulder. Cynthia Highsmith Hooks was my rock, she introduced me to avenues I would have never traveled. She is the wind beneath my wings. Find you a Cynthia, its imperative, otherwise writing can be quite overwhelming.

Ella: Name 3 things that it takes to make a successful author , in your opinion.
1. Motivation — Without motivation there will be no book. You will have a million distractions making you consider quitting, Surround yourself with positive people that are out there making things happen. 

2. Determination — Go wholeheartedly after your dream. Don’t treat it like a hobby. 
There will be naysayers all over the place, but don’t try to prove a point to them. You are the captain of your ship. The minute you surrender that stern you are a passenger, being driven goodness knows where. Say no and mean it when it comes to dream stealers. How many times have you heard people reveal that they had dreams and aspirations, but let the opportunity to live them slip through their fingers.

3. Remain humble — Don’t get big headed. There’s nothing wrong with lending a hand to help another up the hill. I found that when I reached out to some of the supposedly "one’s that made it" many never gave me the time of the day, unless I said I’d help push their product. People need people, just listen to President Obama, it’s one of the most strongest messages in his speech.

Ella: What can we expect from you in the future?
In the future I plan to of course keep writing books and hope to enjoy having a solid fan base.
But even more important I want to do lots of motivational speeches. I firmly believe in people and their potential for greatness.

Ella: Share with us your latest news, events or upcoming book releases.
I would love to tell you that I have a schedule that’s on overload, but truthfully because I am a self published author I am just hitting the streets and networking to sell my books. Big bookstores won’t carry it so its up to me to put DYSFUNCTIONAL BEGINNINGS on the lips of everyone I run across. My website gives the link to and other ways to check out my book. My website address is:   

Intimate Conversation with Vernadine Merrick

Vernadine Merrick lives in Atlanta. She grew up in Cincinnati. Ms. Merrick is a writer and a marketing consultant. Writing has been her passion since college days, where she wrote a book of poetry while at Miami University (in Ohio) and Carnegie Mellon University. Ms. Merrick’s motto is “a story is only as gripping and rich as its characters.”

Meet Vernadine Merrick author of  “And the Walls Came Tumbling Down: The Secret of Senator Jack”

Ella: What makes you powerful as a person and a writer? 
I believe what makes me powerful as a person and a writer is my ability to read human nature and to see all sides of just about anything. I am also compassionate, like Suzanne, because of many not-so-apparent life struggles. I get in the ‘head’ of my characters. You see their dilemma; you understand how they got there; you know them well enough that you sympathize and cheer for them in spite of their shortcomings.

My writing also has impact because it is visual. I love creating scenes and painting vivid pictures through everyday analogies (i.e. “It was as hot as a Louisiana summer”). I make sure I meticulously depict the body language of the person to reflect what they are experiencing at the moment. The reader’s mental and visual senses are working together to bring the character to life and make him or her memorable. Lastly, I like to keep things unpredictable. That is a lot of fun.

Ella: Who are your mentors?
My writing mentors are the former Bebe Moore Campbell, Connie Briscoe, former Sidney Sheldon, John Grisham and Benilde Little (author of Good Hair). Each of these authors write stories that are vivid, fast pace, unpredictable, and have substantive storylines with rich and complex characters. They leave you wanting more!

Ella: Introduce us to your book and the main characters. 
“And the Walls Came Tumbling Down: The Secret Life of Senator Jack” is a political, suspense romantic thriller. The book is about twin boys climb out of poverty into power and the choices they make to get there. One turns to a life of crime. The other obtains an academic scholarship to a prestigious prep school and enters the mainstream. Their worlds suddenly and dramatically collide and change both of their paths forever. 

It is a ‘Cain and Abel’ story of one man’s willingness to do just about anything to reach the most powerful office in the United States (the presidency) and the detective that’s equally determined to stop him. Love, the power of family and redemption are also strongly interwoven in the book. The novel has lots of twist and turns that will keep the reader spellbound! It is a definite page-turner.

There are seven major characters in the book. Each has his or her story to tell that when brought together, is a very powerful and robust tale.

Joe Baker is a tortured spirit, torn between truth and deception, self-awareness and self-deprivation…and many wrong choices. Joe's natural rebelliousness, charm and good looks successfully carry him from youthful mischief to adolescent street savvy to an adulthood filled with blind ambition, manipulation and dominance. 

Jack Baker is the mirror image of Joe and can only be described as his brother’s 'better half.' He is a person of deep conviction and lucid compassion. He is devoted to his father, fiercely protective of his brother and the voice of the unheard. 

Suzanne Montgomery, glamorous, gorgeous and rich. Her larger-than-life, Hollywood looks, mask the vulnerable woman still desperate for love. She is the daughter of one of the most powerful attorneys in the United States. Living in the southern city of Atlanta, her father has deep political ties to Washington. 

Nicola Patricks while enormously seductive, her intelligence, decency and achievements are her pride. She is now thrust into a web of lust, love and deceit. Caught in the fierce grip of the captivating Senator, Nicola asks herself, just how did I get here?

John Baker is the father of identical twin boys that he deeply loves, but begrudgingly admits to liking only one. Joe reminds him of the days of his youthful indiscretions, while Jack encapsulates the man he always wanted to be. John is a man of limited means, but is determined to carry out his deceased wife's dream of giving his sons a better life. 

Dirk Patterson is amongst the upper class African-American elite. Yet he is intricately connected to two brothers from the ‘other side of the tracks.’ They are each compassionate in their own right, brilliant, savvy, determined and, above all else, loyal to each other - no matter what.

Detective Ridder Jones smells blood and goes for the jugular. The case of the high-powered Senator is no exception. After years of accumulated resentment from a career gone awry, a failed marriage and only an adoring dog named Lily to keep him company, Ridder sees a final chance to recapture it all with one last professional conquest.

Ella: Who were your favorites? Are your characters from the portrayal of real people?
All of the characters are rich and multi-dimensional. I believe this is like many of us. We have both redeeming qualities and human frailty. My favorite characters in the book are Suzanne and Joe. I love Suzanne for her vulnerability and capacity to love and forgive. Suzanne is a victim of her own beauty and social status. People are unable to relate to her. Yet, like most of us, appearances are only half the story. She has experienced enormous tragedy and loneliness in her life that is the source of much of her compassion for others. 

Joe, on the other hand, is probably the character that grows the most in the story. He makes terrible choices in life. Yet he is able to come through them with strength and depth of character that is admirable to most. His character makes one acutely aware of the consequences of decisions. His struggle to conquer his inner ‘demons’ becomes your struggle.  The character of Joe was based on a person I knew from school many years ago. The other characters are from the mixing of persons that I know and the different sides of me. The direction of the novel stems from my love of politics, suspense and romance.

Ella: Who do you want to reach with your book and the message within?
I want to reach everyone with my book. The struggles and lessons drawn from my book are universal. The characters are African-American, which adds an extra perspective and dimension to them, but they are human most of all. That is why I believe I’ve had an African-American male law professor, Caucasian sales and marketing person, a 70-year Southern, retired woman and my 18 year old nephew, all rave about the book! Again, the story is one of love, the consequences of choices, the power of family, standing strong through adversity, learning from one’s mistakes, forgiveness and ultimately, redemption. It is about the human struggles and rewards of life.

Ella: What do you think makes your book different from others on the same subject?
Many books are about love (romance), or politics, identical twins, or involve crime and detective storylines. This book has equal doses of all of them! They are blended together to tell a very full and captivating story. The reader will remember the characters. The reader will increase his or her understanding of human nature. The reader will most likely be further empowered to meet his or her own life challenges.

Ella: How can our readers reach you online? Share with us your online contact info. 
Readers can reach me online and learn more about “And the Walls Came Tumbling Down: The Secret Life of Senator Jack” by visiting my book’s website at  On the site, there are book reviews and a way to enter book reviews, an audio intro of the Prologue, and the capability to order the novel. Readers can email me directly at  for additional questions or insights. I love to hear from readers! I’m also on Facebook. The novel can also be ordered on and (ISBN: 978-1-60860-231-1).  Order the book today from the author.

Intimate Conversation with J.M. Wilson

J.M. Wilson
is both a scholar and actor. He holds an advance degree from the University of Saint Thomas and is an adjunct professor at Cardinal Stritch University. The Power of Speech is his fourth book. As an actor he has performed in You Can't Take It with You, Romeo and Juliet, and Doctor Faustus

Ella: Who where your mentors growing up? How did they shape your life?
My mother and Father. Growing up they instilled in me the value of communications and how it effects everything in our lives.

Ella: What make you a powerful speaker and writer? 
In my writing and speaking I try to take complicated issues and make them simple so that they can be understood by everyone.

Ella: My writing offers the following legacy to future readers?
Because public speaking effects every part of human society if people understand the fundamentals of persuasion it will improve society and the lives of individuals and that is what this book seeks to do.

Ella: What specific situation or revelation prompted you to write your book?
As a child I noticed that some people always seemed to be successful and I wondered why. As I grew older I noticed that their success came for the most part from the ability to persuade.

Ella: Take us inside the book. What are two major events taking place? 
The Power of Speech is a concise and easy to read book on public speaking. Similar in scope to The One-Minute Manager it breaks down the art of public speaking to its fundamental elements so that even a child could understand. Further, this book shows that public speaking is the foundation of every nation and is the glue that holds it together. It plays a role in nearly every aspect of our lives from our romantic relationships to our businesses. .In this book we see the fundamental elements that all persuasive speeches should have in them. And we see how Obama’s work as a community organizer improved his ability to persuade.

Ella: Who do you want to reach with your book and the message within?
Because communication affects every part of our society from professional to personal this book is written for those who wish to have greater influence in society.

Ella: How will reading your book shape the readers lives? 
Because communication affects every part of our society from professional to personal this book is written for those who wish to have greater influence in society.

Ella: What are some of their specific issues, needs or problems addressed in this book?
That communication is perhaps the most important thing in society and that it separates the successful from the unsuccessful. 

Ella: What was the most powerful chapter in the book?
For me that chapter that I thank is the most powerful in the book is the chapter that deals with practice. In it the reader will see step by step what things need be done in order to become a better speaker.

Ella: What do you think makes your book different from others on the same subject?
It takes complex issues and breaks them down so that they are easy to understand.

Ella: Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book?
To see how communications can improve their professional and personal lives.

Ella: Share with us your latest news, awards or upcoming book releases. 
The Power of Speech is nominated for the Benjamin Franklin IBPA Award for books dealing with self-help. 

Ella: How can our readers reach you online? 
I can be contacted at  

The Power of Speech: Obama and the Art of Communicating 
by J. M. Wilson (Author) 
ISBN-10: 0976903148 
ISBN-13: 978-0976903147 

Book can be purchased at the following websites:  

Intimate Conversation with Katrina L. Burchett

Katrina L. Burchett was born and raised in the city of York, Pennsylvania. She is the third born of her parents’ six children; the shy, quiet one who always expressed herself better with the written word. As far back as she can remember it felt natural to have a piece of paper and a pen or pencil in hand.

In grade school she wrote a play or two that her classmates acted out for teachers and their students. However, during her middle and high school years creating poems was what she loved most, and a couple of them were printed in the local newspaper. Burchett didn’t take college prep courses in high school, but, following the footsteps of her two older sisters, she opted for the business curriculum. 

Although she excelled in Accounting and loved working with the packets that included cute little business checks, her favorite class was typing. After graduation she held various office positions until the day she departed York with her military husband and two sons. No longer wanting to leave her children in the hands of daycare providers, she made the choice to be a stay-at-home mom while her family resided in Washington state and then Texas.

The next stop was Florida, where she returned to the workplace for a few years. She held a position at a bank, went on to be a teacher’s assistant at an elementary school, and then she began a small book publishing company and named it after her niece, Kapri. Burchett is the publisher and author of  Choices; the first of a trilogy. She plans to publish the two remaining novels that will not only dig deeper into the lives of Shauntice, Angel, LaKeeta, Bridgette, and Hope, but will focus more on the guys in Choices. And then, Lord willing, Kapri Books will publish the works of other aspiring authors.

Ella: How did you start your writing journey? Tell us about your young adult book Choices.
I began writing in grade school. I still reflect on how classmates and I would take toy dishes and other props to different classrooms and act out plays I wrote.

Choices is a story about five girls making decisions about boyfriends and premarital sex...

Shauntice Johnston has faith in God but the world of domestic abuse she lives in has left her with very little faith in the male gender. Angel Nichols doesn’t know her earthly father, doesn’t care about the heavenly Father and feels neglected by her workaholic mother. She has had numerous sex partners since she was thirteen, trying to fill the void inside of her. LaKeeta Wilson is a Christian, but instead of doing it God’s way and waiting for marriage she purposefully becomes pregnant out of wedlock. Bridgette Anderson practices abstinence in obedience to God and no matter what she will not compromise her beliefs. Hope Patterson is a plain dressing, soft-spoken, timid Christian girl who’s living a very sheltered life because of mother’s strict rules. The word sex isn’t in her vocabulary until she suffers a loss.

I could write the domestic abuse scenes so well because I grew up in that same situation. I still remember that I had to get away from the story for a little while once I finished, because I was angry at Grant, tearing up for Elaine, and feeling so bad for Shauntice and Shannon. So with Shauntice’s situation and the issues Angel, LaKeeta, Bridgette and Hope are dealing with, Choices is a story that will evoke just about every emotion. And with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the mix there is a message of hope and new beginnings for the reader.

Ella: Please finish the sentence: I am Powerful because…
I am powerful because I am a walking miracle with life-changing stories to tell. On August 3, 2007, a few days before Choices was released, I was admitted to the ICU suffering from severe dehydration, a staph infection in my bloodstream and failing kidneys. I was dying. Actually, I was feeling sick during the entire self-publishing process. By the grace of God I’m still here today and I will use my writing talent so that He can bless others through me.

Ella: Who are your two main characters and what do you like most about them? 
There are five protagonists in Choices; however, I consider Shauntice and Angel to be the two main characters. I like Shauntice’s name. I came up with her twin brother, Shannon’s, name first and when I was trying to figure out what hers would be there was a Shanice (remember the song I Love Your Smile?) cassette sitting on the stereo, so I added to her name. I also like Shauntice’s Christ-likeness in dealing with the domestic abuse situation she’s stuck in; the way she never ceases praying, the way she stands by her mom when she’d rather run away. And Angel – plain & simple, I love her spunk! She’s not afraid to speak her mind, she means what she says, and if anybody gets in her face she will not back down. She might not make the best choices when it comes to guys, but who am I to judge? Angel is my girl!

Ella: What makes your book stand out and would entice a reader to pick it up? 
I was searching for an image to use on the cover and I came across this guy and girl sitting on the couch talking. He looked like he was pleading his case, whatever it may have been, and it reminded me of the scene in Choices where Terry stops by Shauntice’s house and tries to get her to give him a chance. The book designer got creative and changed the image. She took away the background and made the girl the main focus. I’ve received quite a few compliments on the cover. I believe the unique image along with the earth tones catches a reader’s eye.

Ella: Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book? 
I wrote the first draft of Choices many years ago. At that time, I was regretting choices I had made... Okay, I’m gonna tell a little bit of my personal business. I allowed myself to be used more than once because I didn’t know how to say no. It was good to know that God loved me, but still, I didn’t start making better choices until I learned to love myself. My story shows that consensual premarital sex isn’t always about the sex; life’s circumstances, low self-esteem, peer pressure – there are many reasons why teens make this choice. I hope that what I wrote will help young women to make better choices than I did. There are quite a few messages in Choices for parents as well as teens, but the main message is that when we girls mess up it’s never too late to begin again.

Ella: What is the most surprising thing you have learned in creating books? 
Well, I thought about self-publishing for a long time before I actually stepped out and did it. There was fear because I really didn’t know if I could do it. The surprising thing was that it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it was going to be. Dan Poynter’s The Self-Publishing Manual, Rob and Terry Adams’ Start Your Own Self-Publishing Business and The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing by Tom & Marilyn Ross were all very helpful. And there are plenty of talented book designers and professional editing services out there. All it took was a little research to find the ones I felt at peace about.

Ella: What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer? 
There was a reader -a teen reviewer, actually - who said something like ‘I appreciate life more after reading Choices’. I knew immediately what she had read to make her feel that way. I don’t think I should elaborate, because my answer would contain a spoiler, so I’ll just say that through me God sent an important message to this teen. Glory to God! How did you do it? I wrote the story and then found the courage to make it available for this girl and others to read. 

Ella: What advice would you give a new writer? 
I’d like to advise new writers to be open to “constructive” criticism. We can be so close to our work that we don’t want to change anything, but flaws that we can’t see seem to jump out at others. A writer needs a few pairs of fresh eyes to read their work. Once the manuscript has been written and then rewritten as many times as need be, let others read it, get feedback and then there may be more rewriting. After that, it’s best to pass the manuscript on to a professional editor. Would you change anything about your journey? I sure would. I was trying so hard to make Choices perfect that I was making changes during the interior design process. A manuscript should be ready when it gets to that point, but I always found something I just wasn’t satisfied with. I ended up paying a bit more for the service because of the changes.

Ella: Name 3 things that it takes to make a successful author, in your opinion? 
If an author writes a story with a message that can change a person’s life for the better in some way, whether big or small, that’s a success story. God wants us to use our gifts to serve others (1Peter 4:10). Entertaining the reader is great and necessary to gain a readership, but, in my opinion, there should be more. A lesson to be learned, some kind of knowledge to be gained, something meaningful. Sorry, that’s the only thing that comes to mind.

Ella: What can we expect from you in the future? 
Choices is the first of a trilogy, because this premarital sex thing isn’t the only issue I have in my heart to write about. The next book will focus on teen parenting and the third will focus on teens and drinking. 

I have started the second novel. I’m hoping for a release date at the end of this year, but I can’t say for sure right now. When I have a date, I’ll be sure to have it posted on my website.

Ella: How may our readers connect with you online?
Katrina L. Burchett, YA Fiction Author
Choices: Five teenage girls make decisions about boyfriends and premarital sex.


Shelfari Bookshelf: 
Shoutlife Profile: 

Intimate Conversation with Jean Alicia Elster

Formerly an attorney, Jean Alicia Elster is a multi-award winning writer with a focus on writing for children, middle graders, and young adults. She is also an editor, essayist, writing instructor, and grant writer. Says Elster, “While wearing each of these hats is fulfilling in its own way, I find my greatest joy in writing for youth and young adults.” 

Jean Alicia Elster, B.A., J.D., is the author of the novel Who’s Jim Hines?—for ages 8 and older—published by Wayne State University Press. Released in August 2008, it is now in its second printing. Who’s Jim Hines? was selected as one of the Library of Michigan’s 2009 Michigan Notable Books. In addition, the Michigan Reading Association has placed Who’s Jim Hines? on the Great Lakes Great Books Award 2009-2010 ballot for grades 4-5. Who’s Jim Hines? was also a ForeWord Magazine 2008 Book of the Year Award Finalist in the category of Juvenile Fiction.

Who’s Jim Hines?

Who’s Jim Hines? is a coming of age story about a twelve year old African American boy—Douglas Ford, Jr.—as he comes to terms with the racial realities of Detroit, Michigan in 1935. 

Doug’s father is the owner of the Douglas Ford Wood Company, and Doug usually helps his dad around the wood yard located in the side lot next to their house. But when Doug loses his textbooks on the way home from school one day, he’s got to earn the money to pay for more books. And he does it by joining his father in the backbreaking work of delivering wood to customers throughout Detroit and its suburbs. Doug, who knows all of his father’s other drivers, sees this as his chance to unravel the mystery that he’s never before been in a position to do anything about—discovering the identity of the only one of his father’s drivers whom he’s heard of but never seen: Mr. Jim Hines.

Based on a true story, the focus of the plot is on Douglas Ford, Jr. and the successful family-owned business, the Douglas Ford Wood Company—a scrap wood enterprise owned and operated by his father. Unique in the segregated Depression-era city of Detroit, the Ford family lives in a racially mixed community of blacks from the South and Eastern European immigrants. 

The book is rich in its descriptions of life at that time—the auto factories, the unions, Northern-style segregation, and the effect of color distinctions within the black community. But it also brings to light the unique way in which Doug’s father must conduct his business in order to support his family and contribute to the prosperity of his neighborhood. In an emotional climax, Doug must confront the how and why of the heartbreaking reality about the Douglas Ford Wood Company.

Elster is also the author of the children’s book series “Joe Joe in the City,” published by Judson Press. The first volume in that series, Just Call Me Joe Joe, was released in October 2001 and is now in its second printing. The remaining volumes are: I Have A Dream, Too! (May, 2002), I’ll Fly My Own Plane (September, 2002), and I’ll Do the Right Thing (January, 2003). She was awarded the 2002 Governors’ Emerging Artist Award by ArtServe Michigan in recognition of the series. I’ll Do the Right Thing was awarded the 2004 Atlanta Daily World Atlanta Choice Award in the category of children’s books.

About the Joe Joe in the City Series for young readers—
Just Call Me Joe Joe
I Have a Dream, Too!
I’ll Fly My Own Plane
I’ll Do the Right Thing

Ella:  What specific situation or revelation prompted you to write the Joe Joe in the City Series?
The impetus for this four volume series emerged while considering the very real concerns my husband and I shared as parents raising two children in an urban environment. In particular, I felt it was incumbent upon us to prepare our children to respond appropriately to negative peer pressure, racial stereotypes, and the pervasive drug and gang cultures. I was well aware that other parents of every ethnic background shared these same concerns — I wanted to address those concerns in a set of books for young readers that would be entertaining and edifying for the youngsters and a source of support and reinforcement for parents and other caregivers.

Ella:  Introduce us to your books and the main characters in the Joe Joe in the City Series.
The series is populated by the main character, ten-year-old Joseph Rawlings, Jr., also known as Joe Joe. Recurring characters include his mother, father, baby brother, and grandmother, all who live in the same household. Other recurring characters are his friends Kalia and Tyrone. Tyrone is the series antagonist—he is the primary character who instigates confrontations and causes Joe Joe to question his values. Kalia sways between following Tyrone and Joe Joe. At the beginning of each of the four volumes, another recurring character is Mrs. Morgan, a librarian in the local library. She serves as an “omniscient” character, suggesting that Joe Joe check out a book about a hero of African American history – the very one he needs to read to solve the focus issue of that particular book in the series.

Ella:  Why did you create this particular cast of characters for the series?
I took several things into consideration when creating the characters in the series. First, I wanted to promote literacy and encourage young readers to use the library. So I created an intriguing – yet inviting – character in the librarian, Mrs. Morgan. Also, I felt it was important that Joe Joe be part of an intact family with mom, dad, and sibling all in one household. Yet, I am very well aware that many readers are being raised by single parents or other caregivers. So Joe Joe’s grandmother is a central figure in raising him and in his interactions at home. With two male characters as the protagonist and the antagonist, I wanted young female readers to have a character they could particularly connect with, so I created Kalia. She is affected by Tyrone’s negative influence even though she usually ends up siding with Joe Joe.

Ella:  What makes your books different from others on the same subject?
In each volume of this series, Joe Joe learns life lessons when he reads about heroes from African American history. In Just Call Me Joe Joe, he reads the history of the Negro Baseball Leagues; in I Have a Dream, Too! Joe Joe reads about Mary McLeod Bethune; in I’ll Fly My Own Plane he learns about the Tuskegee Airmen; and in I’ll Do the Right Thing, he discovers the legacy of Ralph Bunche. I, in fact, researched and wrote the book passages that Joe Joe reads throughout the series.

Ella:  Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your books?
By following the stories of these heroes of African American history, the series offers crucial lessons for youth, particularly urban youth, of all backgrounds: Joe Joe summons up the courage to return and face a local shopkeeper who accuses him of being a part of a gang that has just trashed his store in Just Call Me Joe Joe. In I Have a Dream, Too!, Joe Joe realizes that with hard work, dreams can come true. I’ll Fly My Own Plane finds Joe Joe turning away from an opportunity to make “quick, easy money.” And, Joe Joe learns the value of being a peacemaker in I’ll Do the Right Thing.

Ella:  How can our readers reach you online?
Readers can contact me as well as see updates about my books and appearances via my website  They can also find information at my publishers’ websites  and  

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