Black Marriage Day - March 28, 2010

Book Spotlight: Marriage ROCKS for Christian Couples by Dr. Harold Arnold

Author Reveals How to Build a ROCK Solid Marriage

Evidence suggests that marriage may be losing to more secularvalues. African Americans, in particular, have one of the lowest marriage rates in the country, and their divorce rate is among the highest. In response to the critical condition of black marriages, Dr. Harold Arnold offers a twelve-step model in Marriage ROCKS for Christian Couples. With the Marriage ROCKS method, Arnold challenges couples to establish and strengthen their relationship on a rock-solid foundation of:

*Redemption -----the rock of grace
*Offering ------- -the rock of sacrifice
*Covenant -------the rock of boundaries
*Knowledge-------the rock of power
*Sacred space----the rock of worship


The book leads couples at all levels of relational intimacy on a journey to discover how marriage (1) develops the human capacity to experience the fullness of God's love and (2) becomes a ministry through which to share God's love with others.

Designed for use by individual couples, with small groups, or in counseling contexts, this practical book includes biblical study, discussion questions, and action steps. A separate Leader’s Guide is also available. This is the perfect book to celebrate  Black Marriage Day - March 28, 2010.




About the Author:
Harold L. Arnold Jr . holds a PhD in social and organizational psychology from Temple University and a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from Fuller Theological Seminary. He is president and founder of Discovering Family International, an organization that promotes the virtues and values of family life. A sought after speaker and workshop leader, Dr. Arnold is also creator of the Relationship ROCKS model™, a program for building equity in personal relationships. A member of the American Association of Christian Counselors and Black African-American Christian Counselors, Dr. Arnold serves as a minister and counselor for a large multi-cultural church in Philadelphia.

A sample chapter of Marriage ROCKS can be downloaded at www.haroldarnold.com. Also visit Harold Arnold’s DigitalMarriage.com where the reader’s vote directs the course of the fictional Rob and Celia’s relationship. ISBN: 978-0817015664. Category: African American/Marriage/Religion; Distribution: Spring Arbor/Ingram Book Co., Anchor Distributors, STL Distribution, Baker & Taylor




How to Build a ROCK Solid Marriage

Excerpt from Chapter 1:
"If you are reading this book it is because you desire the best for your marriage. You can rest assured that God desires the best for your marriage as well.... In fact, God plans to use your marriage as a bridge to a more rewarding relationship with him and with everyone within your sphere of influence."


Editorial Reviews:
"Harold L. Arnold Jr., PhD, has written a book for African American couples rooted thoroughly in a faith orientation, and it draws on a biblical and theological tradition of gender mutuality and equality that is embraced by many African American couples...Those who use this book as a resource for marital enrichment will never regret their choice."
--Edward P. Wimberly, PhD, Jarena Lee Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling, Vice President for Academic Affairs/Provost, Interdenominational Theological Center, Atlanta, Georgia


"This wonderful book serves a need in the African American community for help in strengthening and healing our marriages and relationships. The author provides honest examples that will be a blessing to those who are considering marriage and those who are already on the journey. The message is clear - whether your marriage is strong already or deeply troubled, God can make it better and can help to deepen your spiritual and emotional intimacy."
--Nancy Boyd-Franklin, PhD, author of Black Families in Therapy: Understanding the African American Experience


"Written for the couple themselves, this book and its companion leader's guide are also practical tools for clinicians, pastors, and lay leaders who work with African American couples for whom biblical concepts are important components for conceptualization of self and other. Dr. Arnold draws on his personal and professional expertise to develop a biblical and theoretical twelve-step counseling model."
--Elizabeth Johnson Walker, ThD, LMFT, Associate Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary


"An extraordinary resource. If implemented by couples and leaders, Arnold's biblically sound method and strategy for married couples could revolutionize the way we approach ministry to couples and families. Christian couples will be blessed tremendously by his meticulous biblical reflections and insightful wisdom on married life, from sexuality to finances and parenting."
--Dr. Johnny B. Hill, Assistant Professor of Theology, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, and author of Multidimensional Ministry for Today's Black Families


"Married couples are on the endangered species list. Dr. Harold Arnold's expertise and passion are focused on preserving and strengthening African American marriages. His years of helping couples is reflected in this powerful Marriage ROCKS "journey" which has couples interacting and praying about topics that will enrich their personal and intimate lives together. But it's not just about you! He goes on to teach and challenge couples how to use their marriages as a powerful tool for sharing Christ with all who live in their communities. Every couple who wants to grow their relationship with their spouse and with Christ will benefit from this interactive marriage experience."
--Bruce R. McCracken, Ph.D., founder and president, House on the Rock Family Ministries, Mt. Joy, Pennsylvania


"At a time when the institution of marriage seems under attack, Marriage ROCKS provide a refreshing and affirming view of marriage. Dr. Arnold keeps it real, while providing hope for couples. His five components of "ROCKS" are grounded in sound Biblical principles and relational integrity. The book is honest, thoughtful, and presents some critical insights to the issues in the African American community. A great resource for both those in marriage and seeking marriage. "
-- Dr. Randolph Walters, marriage therapist and Associate Professor of Counseling Psychology, Eastern University, St. Davids, Pennsylvania


Books/Products By This Author



GALLEY OR REVIEW COPY AVAILABLE ON REQUEST TO BOOK REVIEW EDITORS AND MEDIA


Contact: Kim Shimer, Marketing Director, Judson Press, 610-768-2458, marketing@judsonpress.com
P.O. Box 851 ● Valley Forge, PA 19482-0851 ● 800-458-3766 ● http://www.judsonpress.com/






Please join in the discussion by leaving comments below.



Read more ...

Pearl Interview: Lori G. Armstrong

Black Pearls Magazine Intimate Conversations


Lori G. Armstrong left the firearms industry in 2000. Her first mystery novel, BLOOD TIES, published in 2005, was nominated in 2006 for a Shamus Award for Best First Novel by the Private Eye Writers of America. The second book in the Julie Collins mystery series, HALLOWED GROUND, released Nov. 2006, was nominated for a 2007 Shamus Award for Best Paperback Original, a Daphne du Maurier Award and won the 2007 WILLA Cather Literary Award for Best Original Softcover Fiction.

SHALLOW GRAVE, released in Nov. 2007, was nominated for a 2008 High Plains Book Award, a Daphne du Maurier Award and was a finalist for the 2008 WILLA Cather Literary Award. The fourth book, SNOW BLIND, released in Oct. 2008, won the 2009 Shamus Award, from the Private Eye Writers of America, for Best Paperback Original. Lori is a proud fourth generation South Dakotan and lives in Rapid City with her family.


Pearl Pick Bookspotlight: No Mercy by Lori G. Armstrong

Mercy Gunderson is a straight shooter with a hard edge. On medical leave from the Army, she returns home to South Dakota, which isn’t much safer for her than Iraq. Arriving just after the death of her father, it is up to Mercy to decide what to do with the family ranch. Trying to deal with her irresponsible sister and nephew and feeling guilty that she didn’t make it home soon enough to see her father one last time; Mercy is suddenly pulled into the local community when the body of a Native American boy is found on her land. But nobody seems to be doing anything about it, especially not the local law enforcement.

When tragedy strikes again, Mercy is ready to throw all her energy into her own investigation, and she’s out for revenge. As she digs up the truth behind the shocking crimes, Mercy uncovers dark and dangerous secrets and must race to stop a killer before everything she’s fought for is destroyed forever.


Intimate Conversation with Lori G. Armstrong

Ella:  Readers, former Army sniper Mercy Gunderson debuts in the first book in a gripping new mystery series.  Lori, tell us more about your main character.
LA) My favorite description is from a reviewer who said Mercy Gunderson is as tough as an old army boot. Mercy is a 38-year-old woman who has spent twenty years in the army, specifically as part of a covert all-female sniper/black ops team. She’s back in South Dakota on medical leave, trying to decide what to do with the ranch that’s been in her family for over 100 years, in the wake of her father’s death. Mercy has dealt with more than her fair share of tragedy, and in her mind it all revolves around the ranch. She’s trying to find her place as a civilian, as well as dealing with her sister, her nephew, the community’s questions and expectations about her past and her future puts her more on edge than when she was getting shot at every day in Iraq. She’s loyal, cool-headed and tenacious, with a taste for whiskey and trouble.


Ella: Are your characters from the portrayal of real people?
LA) No. I’ve never based a character—main or secondary—on a person I know, or a person I’ve seen on TV, or in the movies, or in magazines, etc. Some authors get a kick basing fictional characters on their family and friends, and if that works for them, great. But it doesn’t work for me—I prefer making stuff up, picking one or two internal defining characteristics, throwing in a rational or irrational fear or two, and then narrowing those parameters to see what chaos ensues.

Also, the problem with using real people is many readers already assume I’ve written myself into the lead female role of a book. Not so. Obviously I’ve never done half the crazy or dangerous stuff my characters do, nor do I want to experience it firsthand, but it is fun and often exhausting living vicariously through them. I’ve been asked on several occasions if I’ve based a character on “so and so”– invariably readers are disappointed when I admit all my characters, from major ones to minor ones, are 100% fictional. Yet, I borrow specific characteristics, sometimes physical, sometimes personality quirks or odd mannerisms from people I run across. I always carry a notebook with me since I’m a big people watcher. I love to read body language and attribute meaning to it.


Ella:  What issues in today’s society have you addressed in the book?
LA) Because NO MERCY is based on a ranch in western South Dakota, I’ve concentrated on the land issues that affect families who’ve been ranching for generations. The conglomerates coming in buying up land and turning it into private hunting areas, driving land prices sky-high. The family ranch, the family farm, and that entire rural way of life is disappearing. Is it a good thing? Is it a bad thing? What if an outsider’s definition of progress hurts the entire community? Race relations are still a big issue here—the “us versus them” mentality of whites and Native Americans. As much as I try to incorporate the reality of these serious issues facing us here in the west into my books, I strive to strike a balance between relaying accurate information and providing engrossing entertainment.


Ella:  What sets your book apart from other books in your genre?
LA) Off the top of my head, I say location and setting separate my books from the pack. The greatest compliment I’ve received as an author was from a reader who said they’ve “been” to South Dakota and the setting in my books is as vivid as the characters. Another plus, few writers are penning mysteries set in modern-day South Dakota. There’s a lot written about pioneers and the Deadwood Gold Rush Days, so my goal was to create a contemporary story that shows the diversity of the people who live here. Also, what I feel sets my books apart is the fact I write kick-ass female leads. Strong women, with strong minds, strong bodies, who use strong language, embody a strong sense of self, and are unapologetic about having a strong sex drive. Some of what they do and say isn’t politically correct, but it is accurate. I’d rather stay true to my characters and my vision for a story arc, than knuckle under to what is selling well within the genre.


Ella:  What is the best piece of advice you would give to an aspiring author?
LA) Write every day. Write what you love. Find a critique group or critique partner you trust to give you honest feedback about your work. Accept the only thing you can control in the publishing business is the amount of time you write. Not marketing, promotion, or conferences. Focus on writing. Period. Do it every day. My favorite quote is from author Nora Roberts, who knows a thing or ten million about writing: I live by this quote every day:  “I can fix a bad page, but I can’t fix a blank page.”


Ella: Please share your latest news, awards and online contact information:
LA) The fourth book in my Julie Collins mystery series, SNOW BLIND, won the 2009 Shamus Award for Best Paperback Original. I’ll be doing an extensive blog tour for the release of my hardcover debut, NO MERCY, throughout the month of January. I’ll also be on book tour across the country for NO MERCY from Jan. 12th, 2010, through the first part of February. The specific details and event dates are listed on my website: http://www.loriarmstrong.com/

I blog once a week on a variety of topics at my group mystery blog: http://www.firstoffenders.typepad.com/

I recently joined another group blog where every two weeks I’ll be talking about writing and maintaining two identities—writing mystery under my “real” name, and writing contemporary erotic westerns under a pen name: http://www.murdershewrites.com/

I still haven’t been bitten by the Twitter bug, but my daughters (and my publicist) have been nagging me to open a Facebook account, so I gave in!
Ella: Thank you Lori for joining us today. We love a great mystery!

 

Please join in the discussion by leaving comments or congrats below.Twitter with Ella




Praise for No Mercy by Lori Armstrong:

"Within just a few pages of No Mercy I was gripped...Lori Armstrong is the real deal and so is the setting and the characters in this novel which by turns is tough, sassy, sexy, and unique. As gritty, haunting, and authentic as South Dakota itself, No Mercy is a terrific series debut. "
—C.J. Box, Edgar-winning author of Below Zero
“Mercy Gunderson shoots straight onto the list of my favorite heroines. A master of snappy dialogue and twisting plots, Lori Armstrong proves again why she is an award-winning author. No Mercy is a thrilling mystery, a hard-edged, fast-paced, no-holds-barred roller coaster ride.”
—Allison Brennan, NY Times bestselling author of Original Sin and Fatal Secrets
“People always ask me what I read and I tell them Lori Armstrong. There comes a point when I need to read her like I need a shot of whiskey at the end of a hard day; Lori’s writing is like that, unforgiving and deeply satisfying.”
—Craig Johnson, author of The Cold Dish and The Dark Horse
“Mercy Gunderson, the protagonist in Lori Armstrong’s wonderful new series, is everything readers hope for in a lead character: strong, capable, hot-headed, and soft in all the right places. Set in South Dakota ranch country that’s so well evoked you’ll smell things you wish you didn’t, with a compelling cast of supporting characters and a dynamite mystery sure to keep you guessing until the very end, No Mercy is a no-holds barred, flat out winner of a series debut.”
—William Kent Krueger, author of Heaven’s Keep and Red Knife



Read more ...

Intimate Conversation with author Tash Hawthorne

Intimate Conversation with author Tash Hawthorne

Tash Hawthorne comes out strong and does her thing with her freshman novel... Showing that Karma is definitely a mutha!  --  J.M. Benjamin, Essence Bestselling author of Ride or Die Chick and On The Run With Love




Tash Hawthorne, born in  Summit,  NJ and raised in the Valley section of  Orange,  NJ,  cannot be viewed as the typical Jersey Girl. For the first 18 years of her life, Tash had the rare privilege of being raised by three generations of strong Black women; all who lived under the same roof. Having received such ingredients like fearlessness from her mother, compassion from her grandmother, and resilience from her great grandmother, Tash grew to be a product of her environment. One of pure love and unadulterated passion for the human condition. 

As a child, Tash dreamed of becoming an Olympic gold-medalist in track & field and an Alvin Ailey dancer, but her hopes to run and dance were soon deferred due to medical reasons. Writing evolved from that of her mother. Tash showed early signs of her gift of script at the age of 9; winning second place in a state-wide essay contest for students in grades 4-6. At age 14, she placed first in another essay contest which consisted of 1300 junior high school candidates along the East Coast.
Despite her early accolades, Tash did not seriously begin writing until the age of 17, three months after the untimely passing of her best friend. Writing became a therapeutic way to escape the unpleasant realities of her surroundings. And it was in that time of salutary that her first screenplay, "The Jaded Edge" was born.

After graduating from high school, Tash went on to attend the first college of her choice,  Hampton University, where she furthered her love for the arts, pursuing a degree in theatre. She would soon be faced with another tragedy. Just seven days into her studies at the university, Tash received a phone call from her mother stating that her great-grandmother had unexpectedly passed away. Tash's entire academic world came to a standstill. The woman she used to secretly meet in the middle of the night to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with had been taken away from her. It would take Tash the rest of her tenure at Hampton  to fully recover from the sudden loss. 
Having regrouped and accepted God's will, Tash turned her focus back to her studies. With the help of some of her professors and staff at Hampton, she went from being on academic probation to graduating on time with Honors. During her term, she was able to write a second screenplay entitled "Nu JeruSlum" and a stage play entitled "Mourning Glory."  After returning home to Orange, Tash began to write a third screenplay entitled "Karma." Throughout that year, she experienced unsettling thoughts about the format of the piece. It was not until a year later when she decided to turn it into a novel. “Karma,” like all of Tash's works, encompasses the reality of life as she sees it and knows it.

Ella: Tash, you've had a full life for one so young! Please tell us about your passion for writing. (A)  My passion for writing stems from life experiences (mine and others) and my love for the arts. I write because I believe the genre of urban literature is missing something…and that something is substance. My goal is to give readers an alternate view of the urban world. This goal is what drives me. 

Ella: What legacy do you want your writing to leave future readers?(A)  My writing offers the following legacy to future readers…a legacy of integrity. When I say that, I mean to say that I stood my ground in telling my characters’ stories. It was important to always tell the truth…their truths.

Ella: Introduce us to your new book, Karma with a Vengeance. (ISBN-10: 0981854508)
(A)  There is a time in a young woman’s life where the choices she makes will determine the outcome of her existence in the years (of uncertainty) to come. Those choices will lead to mistakes. The mistakes will lead to hard times. The hard times will lead to answers, searched for by that lost soul. In the urban setting of   Newark,  NJ, we accompany Karma Alonso-Walker, who, on this journey, gains support from an unwanted, unlikely source through life's greatest troubles.

At the age of 17, Karma becomes caught in the middle of her parents' deteriorating marriage. Due to the unexpected appearance of her father's one night-stand at the family's church on Easter Sunday, Karma's perception of men changes for the worst. With an opportunity to join the US Women's Track and Field team for the 2000 Summer Olympics in Australia, Karma is driven to achieve her dream of winning Olympic gold. But to her dismay, her mother is stricken with Ovarian Cancer. Karma is forced to choose between running professionally at her mother's request or running home to be at her mother's side.

Ten years later, we follow Karma to her mother's home on her fifty-second birthday. Her parents have separated and found comfort in new partners. All the while, unbeknownst to Karma, her mother's boyfriend has made himself a permanent fixture in their life. While trying to protect her mother from her abusive lover, Karma finds herself distracted by the presence of her cousin's new police partner. As distraction and attraction become intertwined, Karma loses focus of her mother's safety. And on the very same celebratory day of her birth, Karma is forced to mourn her mother's death.

Driven by hatred and fury, Karma sets out to find her mother's boyfriend and avenge her death. Having severed her ties with God, been dismissed by her family and the Newark Police Department, Karma becomes a menace to society--and to herself.  This timeless chronicle about a young woman's unyielding loyalty to her mother will open your eyes to the way life can be, even when the glass looks half empty. As Karma’s life spirals out of control, her exploration leads her to self-preservation and true happiness…or does it?


Ella: Who are your two main characters? And what do you like most about them?(A)  My two main characters are Karma Alonso-Walker and Money  Parks. What I like most about Karma is that she is a strong, independent woman who can adapt to any environment. I also admire Karma’s ability to be dependent on someone else when her burdens are too much for her to bear. What I like most about Money is that although he makes many mistakes (terrible ones at that) his intentions are good. 

Ella: Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book?(A)  I want readers to know that there are successful people of color in the inner city. Every woman is not materialistic or abusing the system or bedding multiple men for financial gain. Every man is not a drug dealer or a gangster or a male gigolo. For the most part, people are living their lives trying to do the right thing.


Ella: What advice would you give a new writer?(A)  I would advise a new writer to not write pieces for the sole purpose of sales or what he/she thinks other people would want to read. I would encourage the writer to write what he/she feels people NEED to know. It is imperative to ALWAYS tell the truth. 

Ella: Name three things that it takes to make a successful author in your opinion. (A)  A writer must have discipline. For instance, they must have the strength of mind and will to be able to shut the world out so they can immerse themselves in their work.

A writer must be able to deal with adversity.  They must have tough skin and be able to take criticism, be it constructive or destructive.  They must have an open mind and be flexible in their approach to the art and craft of writing. 

A writer must be a consummate student. A successful author reads works written by other authors, not only for pleasure, but also to learn new ways to invent and deliver their own stories.

Ella: What can we expect from you in the future?(A)  You can expect the sequel to Karma: With A Vengeance (wink). Seriously, you can expect a continuation of my works in film and theatre in the future. I believe writers should be multi-dimensional. They should never cripple themselves by writing in only one facet of scribe.

Ella: How may our readers connect with you online?E-Mail Addresses: TJade424@aol.com  or   karmawithavengeance@gmail.com
Web Links:  www.twitter.com/tashhawthorne   or   www.facebook.com/people/Tash-Hawthorne/41003060


Karma with a Vengeance  by  Tash Hawthorne
Genre: Urban Fiction, Women, African-American, Cuban-American

Purchase the book from Wahida Clark Publishing
http://www.wclarkpublishing.com/wcp-books-karma.htm


Book Reviews for Karma with a Vengeance by Tash Hawthorne

Karma Alonso-Walker loves her family fiercely, particularly her mother Soleil. She would do anything for her mother. So when the beloved matron is killed by her abusive boyfriend, Jimmy, Karma sets out deep into the dark corners of the underworld to take revenge on the man who took away her world. Karma with a Vengeance unfolds through flashbacks and the present day, slowly revealing the real story behind Karma's family and the people she loves.

Author Tash Hawthorne does a great job through most of the twists and turns throughout the story. The characters are not one-dimensional caricatures of good and evil; good people do bad things and bad people have charm. Hawthorne does a nice job in giving them enough depth so that they become human.  All the names are symbolic and Karma's beauty, so essential to the plot, seems a bit beyond belief.

Karma with a Vengeance is entertaining and contains a better storyline than most books of its genre. It is written well enough to keep readers interested.
--- Reviewed by Inda Lauryn "Inda", excerpt from Amazon review



As an only child, 27 year-old Karma Alfonzo-Walker is very close to her parents especially her mother Soleil. Her parents have been separated for some years now since her father Lorenzo keeps his family second to his Military career. Soleil has had enough. And until Lorenzo decides to make her first priority, they will stay apart. Until then Soleil, a beauty in her own right has been keeping company with Jimmy, much to her daughter's Karma disgust. To say Karma didn't like Jimmy would be an understatement...she can't stand him! But with respect to her mother she tolerates him hoping one day Soleil would come to her senses and leave Jimmy behind. Karma is upset with her dad and wishes he would retire from the Military and come back home. She knows deep in their hearts her parents still loved each other and that Jimmy would not be apart of her mother's life if her dad was around.
But tragedy strikes leaving Soleil dead and Karma feeling like the police aren't doing enough to find her mother's killer. Indigo, Karma's cousin and a police officer is none to happy when Karma expresses her need to avenge her mother's murder and take things into her own hands. While Karma maybe putting herself in danger to find her mother killer; she also finds love with police officer Money, Indigo's partner. As her plans for revenge start to take shape and her relationship with Money becomes intense, revelations from the past begin to surface throwing a disturbing light on Karma's new relationship.
I predicted one event prior to it happening, but it didn't take away from my enjoyment of this story. As I kept reading nothing prepared me for the in depth back ground information on Soleil and Karma told by the author's timely steps back into their past. I was astonished, at the repercussions of Soleil's abuse that trickled down to Karma paying the price, and I felt the author did a good job developing the love between mother and daughter.
Yes, Karma with a Vengeance is an excellent title for this recommended read. I like the characters enough to want to read the sequel, so I'll wait and see what author Tash Hawthorne has in store for us. Star Rating 4.0- This star rating is based on the story alone, as I read an uncorrected proof copy of the book. --- Reviewed by Locksie, ARC Book Club Inc.

Karma with a Vengeance  by  Tash HawthorneGenre: Urban Fiction, Women, African-American, Cuban-American
Purchase the book from Wahida Clark Publishing
http://www.wclarkpublishing.com/wcp-books-karma.htm




Please join in the discussion by leaving comments below.
Return to Black Pearls Magazine Online-- Twitter with Ella
Read more ...

Intimate Conversation with author Mike Sanders

Intimate Conversation with author Mike Sanders




Book Spotlight -- Thirsty by Mike Sanders
Thirsty takes place on the mean streets of Charlotte,  N.C. where you either hustle hard or stay home.  Meet Justice, a half-black, half-Filipino goddess whose appetite for a quick dollar is insatiable. Having moved from Chi-town to Charlotte, North Carolina, at an early age, Justice and her younger brother, Monk, decides to take the streets of the Queen City by storm. Justice and Monk, the two main characters are a team of sheisty individuals definitely hustle hard.

Justice uses her exotic looks to get next to dope boys, then sets them up for Monk and his crew to rob. All is well and their hustle is fruitful until Justice ex-boyfriend Carlos (a vicious drug dealer) is robbed and all fingers are pointed towards Justice and Monk. Subsequently, a war ensues between Monk and Carlos clique of dealers and killers. No one is exempt from the bloodbath!

Justice life begins to spiral out of control. She has sworn off hustlers and is determined to find a guy with a legitimate job to settle down with. She meets J.T., a handsome business man who becomes her every fantasy in human form. J.T. rescues Justice from a deadly and cruel world. Justice thinks she has moved into a safe haven, only to find out that she has actually landed in a snake pit! She decides that her only escape is to leave Charlotte behind altogether. However, this may leave Monk with no one to watch his back.

Justice refuses to leave without punishing all those that caused her harm, but her past soon catches up with her. She is confronted with a bare truth that explodes her world into a million tiny pieces. As her thirst for money grows, so does her appetite for revenge. However, she soon realizes that some thirsts can NEVER be quenched!


Ella:  Mike, tell us a little about yourself. How did you start writing?(A)  I am the author of  "Hustlin' Backwards,"  "Snitch," "Thirsty" and the soon-to-be released  "Thirsty 2."  I was born and raised on the grimy streets of   Charlotte ,  N.C.  which inspired my writing. My writing journey began in 2001 when I penned my first novel and subsequently published it in 2004. I am now with Wahida Clark Presents and I'm currently in the process of penning my fourth novel.


Ella:  What was the most powerful chapter or scene in the book for you?(A)  To me, the most powerful chapter in the book was the last chapter. In this chapter, Justice found out that not only had her brother Monk been murdered but also the guy she had been sleeping with and ultimately murdered was also her brother! That chapter shows how lost alot of us are as far as "family" is concerned. In too many African-American household, the father is not present. Therefore, there is always the possibility of siblings outside of the original household. 

In a lot of cases like that, siblings don't even know one another. I've got a sister 18 months younger than me who I met for the first time in 1995!  We'd been living in the same city all of our lives and never knew the other existed. The situation with my sister was one of the reasons I wrote the storyline of this book the way I did. I sat back and thought about how screwed up it would've been if we had met under different circumstances. It happens!


Ella:  Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp and share?(A)  The message I want readers to grasp is the fact that there are ALWAYS consequences for the actions we choose to take. And without a doubt, KARMA is a bitch!  What goes around definitely comes back to stare you in the face. Most times, it's when you least expect it and it's way more severe than what you dished out!


Ella:  What does your family think of your writing career? (A)  My family is very supportive of my writing. They are beyond proud of the fact that I am finally doing something legitimate with my life now instead of taking penitentiary and graveyard chances. My daughters love the attention they get from teachers and classmates when they find out their father is a published author. My mother who recently passed away was by far my biggest fan...When I write now, I can still see her smiling face all over again just like when she found out my first novel had gotten published. She is my continued motivation.


Ella:  What is the best piece of advice you would give to an aspiring author?(A)  Actually I have two key pieces of advice to offer aspiring authors. First and foremost, be mindful of who you are trusting with your material. Do your background check on your publisher and check their track record. Don't just sign a contract because you want to see your book on shelves. I guess I'm saying MAKE SURE YOUR BUSINESS IS 100!

Secondly, I advise anyone who is thinking about jumping into this game to come with something NEW. There are so many of the same books out there right now just with different titles. Bring something refreshing to the game. The game needs it!!


Ella:  Share with us your latest news, awards or upcoming book releases.(A)  THIRSTY was nominated for a literary award at the African-American Literary Award show last September. It was #2 on Don Diva magazine best-sellers list in the July '09 issue. I am currently working on the sequel to Thirsty which will be out soon.

I can be reached online for interviews and to buy books at: http://www.wclarkpublishing.com/ , http://www.amazon.com/ , www.myspace.com/queencitysbest , Facebook (Mike Sanders), and I can be emailed at: queencitysbest@yahoo.com
 


Thirsty by Mike Sanders
Purchase the book from Wahida Clark Publishing
http://www.wclarkpublishing.com/wcp-books-thirsty.htm



Book Reviews for Thirsty by Mike Sanders

This is a story of several people whose lives collide. Choices are made, some of which are terrible. Choices that will forever alter their lives.

Mike Sanders has brought freshness to an all too familiar premise. He has introduced a multi-faceted plot with many characters, and the story is told from four points of view - Justice, Monk, Sapphire and Carlos - in alternating chapters. Each chapter blends into the following effortlessly.
I couldn't wait to see what would happen next. His descriptions are vivid and convincing.

In the end, "Thirsty" is a book that's hard to put away completely. Even long after it's finished, you may find its characters sneaking back into your head. Mike Sanders has spun a wicked tale that MUST be read by everyone. This is my first read by this author and it won't be my last.
--- Reviewed by  Jermaine, OOSA Online Book Club

From the excitement of the first page, THIRSTY moves like a no brakes runaway car that involves stickup boys, drug dealers, hit men, and shady ladies like Justice, who is introduced with a gun in hand in this unpredictable edge-of-the-seat thriller. There's mystery, suspense, gunplay, and a touch of erotica in this street novel that transcends the narrow confines of this genre and becomes a serious minded and entertaining story of sociopaths and the women who loves them. THIRSTY is a not to be missed novel with gritty realism and biting irony, and a must read page turner.
---  Reviewed by  Terry B. author of Dancer's  Paradise: An Erotic Journey, At Midnight: Choice Fowler's Story and The E Collection: A New Definition of Erotica 







Please join in the discussion by leaving comments below.
Return to Black Pearls Magazine Online-- Twitter with Ella
Read more ...

Intimate Conversation with author Missy Jackson

Intimate Conversation with author Missy Jackson

Author Tennette “Missy” Jackson hails from Somerset, New Jersey. She has two daughters and three grandchildren. Missy began writing at a very young age and knew it was her passion. After years of drug abuse and numerous prison stints, Missy found an outlet in writing. Cheetah, her debut novel, was written in the state prison. Missy currently lives in Bound Brook, New Jersey  while working on her second novel.



Book Spotlight - Cheetah  by Missy Jackson
Born and raised on the mean streets of   Newark,  New Jersey, Yanika Johnson aka Cheetah is far from your average female. A true thug in every sense of the word, Cheetah has the ego and persona to prove it all. After she and her best friend Naj take Newark  drug trade by storm, the haters begin to do just what they do best...HATE. Can the tough streets of this brick city accept being ran by two women, or will their budding empire come tumbling down?

Cheetah is a young woman with a heart of gold and steel. Follow her journey through a year of murder and madness. In this book, you will see how a true friendship is supposed to be. You will become engrossed in the "Hood Happenings" as you ride the wave of real street life. Cheetah will make you cry, laugh, and truly understand how things work in the ghetto.


Ella:  Missy, please tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite?
(A) My favorite has to be Cheetah, since she was designed from my past. Her gritty, no nonsense attitude, and love for her family made her my favorite. Actually all four of the main characters Nissan, Qua, Naj, and Cheetah are mirrored after my life. I took a piece of me and structured each one.


Ella:  What sets you apart from other books in your genre?(A) The fact that I write from the lesbian point of view, sets me apart from many. When you read about drug dealers, gangs, clique, or a pack of robbers it is usually guys or a mixture of guys and girls. My story shows the struggle of not only the women in the hood, but also the lesbian women. The stereotyping and the differences they face due to life in an alternative lifestyle are prominent.


Ella:  What issues in today's society have you addressed in CHEETAH? 
(A) CHEETAH touched on issues close to home for me. Here are a few of them: how some young people feel as if the only way to make it is to either sell drugs or rob. It touches on how you can even be educated, headed in the right direction; yet allow the lure of the street and the lifestyle to suck you in. My main issue is how most families in society deal with either having a drug dealer, gang banger, or drug user in the household.


Ella:  If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? 
(A)  No, I would leave the story as is. Though this is not a true story, it is very dear and personal. I feel that CHEETAH is one of the realest books out there. It portrays the everyday hustle and grind that's going on in every hood. The corner boy/girl hustler, the one who don't see the mansions and millions, and also the brutal end results that most encounter.


Ella:  Missy what's next for you? Are there any new books on the horizon?(A)  My upcoming novel "THE JUMPOFF" is sure to catch the same buzz. Be on the lookout for it summer 2010.


Book Reviews for Cheetah by Missy Jackson


5 Stars by Readers in Motion Book Club
Can't Knock Her Hustle


Meet Yanika Johnson a.k.a. Cheetah, a female thug with more swagger than any male thug on the block. Born and raised in  Brick City, life has been a struggle for her and those she loves. Her ultimate goal is to become financially stable and get out the game. With her best friend, Naj, covering her front and back, nothing is impossible. That is until she runs into a few stick up dudes, who obviously didn't know who they were messing with. Revenge soon becomes added to Cheetah list of goals.

With the love of her life, Naj, and other loyal members of the crew, Cheetah locks down the drug game in Newark. Will she survive being the backbone to her family and loved ones, since her gangsta will be tested time and time again? ---Reviewed by Minah, for Readers in Motion Book Club



4 Stars by  The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers
What Goes Around, Comes Around


Cheetah, born Yanika Johnson, is far from the cuddly name presented here. She is a street hustler from  Newark, NJ  and she is no one to mess with. She gives new meaning to the word "thug."  Circumstances make her even more ruthless and she sets about the streets of Newark  on a reign of terror. Eventually what goes around comes around, and unfortunately for Cheetah, it comes around in the worst way. 

CHEETAH was a very powerful read. I could not put this book down. Missy Jackson  gives the reader some insight on what could be happening in the streets where you live. This book fits the bill when we read about or hear about street violence in newspapers and on television everyday, but it hits home once you read it.

The reader gets a glimpse as to what really goes down between street hustlers and crime. It also shines some light on females living in "the life"...the life of lesbianism.

Despite the hard core persona Cheetah portrays, she has a soft heart when it comes to the people she loves. An excellent read!  --- Reviewed by Cheryl Dublin, for RAWSISTAZ Reviewers
  


Cheetah by Tennette “Missy” Jackson   (ISBN-10: 0981854559)
Purchase the book from Wahida Clark Publishing

http://www.wclarkpublishing.com/wcp-books-cheetah.htm



Please join in the discussion by leaving comments below.
Return to Black Pearls Magazine Online-- Twitter with Ella
Read more ...

The Ultimate Sacrifice by Anthony Fields

The Ultimate Sacrifice by Anthony Fields

Upcoming release by Wahida Clark Publishing





The Ultimate Sacrifice by Anthony Fields

Betrayal is worse than slaughter.
  That's what Antonio Ameen Felder always instilled in his friends.  When a murder at the prison threatens to incarcerate them all for life, one man decides to sacrifice himself to free the others. All he asks in return is for his family to be taken care of. Luther Khadafi Fuller is the leader of the recently freed trio. He takes his two friends Boo and Umar on a ride they will never forget through the streets of DC.

Take a ride with these three men as they make love and money, while trying not to forget the man they left behind.  When one wrong move causes things to spiral out of control, can their bond survive the viciousness of the streets? Will their lives be spared? Or will their promises to each other be forgotten?

The Ultimate Sacrifice is a story of love, life, money, sex, betrayal and murder.  This is a page turner that you won't be able to put down.

ISBN-10: 0981854583
ISBN-13: 978-0981854588

Purchase the book from Wahida Clark Publishinghttp://www.wclarkpublishing.com/wcp-books.htm
Read more ...

Meet Author and Publisher Wahida Clark

Business Spotlight: Wahida Clark Publishing



Wahida Clark was born and raised in Trenton, New Jersey. She is no stranger to the hard work and the sacrifices that breed success. This Trenton native owned and operated L.M. Clark Printers & Publishers Inc., a printing and publishing company in Trenton.   She is crowned the Queen of Thug Love Fiction by Nikki Turner, the Queen of Hip Hop Fiction. Wahida's style of writing is the "TEMPLATE" for urban literature. When you read her novels, they are so real you are convinced of one of three things: you know the characters; you want to know the characters; or you are one of the characters.

Her Essence and Black Issues Book Reviews bestselling novels include Thugs and The Women Who Love Them, Payback Is A Mutha, Payback With Ya Life, and her latest anthology with Kiki Swinson titled "Sleeping With The Enemy."

She has just completed her latest Novel 'The Golden Hustla' which will be released August, 2010. Coming in May is 'What's Really Hood?' Part 1 an Anthology featuring, Wahida, Lashonda Teague, Victor Martin, Shawn 'Jihad' Trump and Bonta. She is vice president of the non-profit organization based out of East Orange, New Jersey, Prodigal Sons and Daughters Redirection Services, a re-entry program for convicts and ex-convicts. The organization also provides support groups and mentors for at-risk youth.

Today, Wahida operates her printing & publishing company out of East Orange, New Jersey, Wahida Clark Presents Publishing. Her first releases include: Trust No Man 1 & 2 by Cash, Thirsty by Mike Sanders, Cheetah by Missy Jackson, Karma With A Vengeance by Tash Hawthorne and The Ultimate Sacrifice by Anthony Fields.



Interview with Conversations Bookclub of Mississippi

Meet Wahida Clark, she is a remarkable woman, grounded by her knowledge of who she is and what she represents. Wahida is first wife and mother, but she excels as a businesswoman in all she does. The writing career that has taken the literary world by storm only began in 2002 or 2003, yet you would think by the accolades she has received that she has been in the game for over a decade.

What led her to writing while in prison? Her answer was simple: "My husband was locked up, I was locked up and we needed money. People don't realize it, but it takes money to live even in prison, and I also needed money for my family on the outside." While in prison she worked in the law library, normally by herself, and she would do a great deal of reading during that time. It was during one of these occasions that she was reading XXL Magazine and read about an author who also had their beginning while incarcerated. "I said to myself that if he could do it then I could as well."

There was a literary agent who was also in prison that decided to teach a course on writing, and Wahida signed on. She wrote on legal pads and let others read it for input. They devoured the pages and were always asking for more. I asked her if she ever worried about not being able to make it in the business. "I knew I would get published," she said confidently. "My work was going to see the light of day."

Who inspired her before she wrote what became THUGS AND THE WOMEN WHO LOVE THEM? "I read everything from Donald Goines, Iceberg Slim to James Patterson." When asked who she was initially writing for, she answered that it was the Urban lit market. "My husband told me that if I was going to do this that I had to do my research."

Not long after writing her book, Wahida happened to read "Married Men" by Carl Weber. She noticed that he was getting praise from critics and writers alike so she decided to reach out to him. "I wrote him and told him that I had just finished writing a book and wanted to know what I should do next. He asked me to send him my manuscript. It was from there that he submitted the book to Black Print Publishing. They told me it was too big so I would have to cut it down. The publisher ended up splitting the book, and that manuscript became THUGS AND THE WOMEN WHO LOVE THEM and EVERY THUG NEEDS A LADY."

Wahida told us that she can still remember the first time she saw her name on the cover of a book. "I was in Lexington, Kentucky and it was mail call. Some of the ladies on lock down with me had ordered some copies, and they had come in a big envelope with about seven or eight books in there. It was like 'Wow, this is my book.'"

Little did she know that readers all over the world were wowed by her as well.

After her relationship ended with Black Print, Wahida---with the help of her literary agent----was signed to a deal with Dafina, an imprint of Kensington. Ironically, becoming a label mate of Carl Weber, the author who helped her get started in the industry. Her other titles include PAYBACK IS A MUTHA and THUG MATRIMONY.

Today, Wahida's focus is not only her own career as an author, but helping others as well. She has begun her own literary agency to publish new authors, and she is now signed with Warner Books. I mentioned to her that in one interview she said that her writing is meant to entertain. She stood behind that, but added that her agent likes the fact that there are consequences to the things that her characters do. "Once I start writing and get in their heads, they take on a life of their own sometimes. If you get a message from what I write," she said, "then that's wonderful."

A workaholic in every sense of the word, Wahida is working on the 6th book in the THUGS series as well as what she calls her "crossover" book. "I want to get some of those James Patterson" dollars," she told us with a laugh. Also in the works is an anthology with author Kiki Swanson and her novel PAYBACK WITH YOUR LIFE. Robin Garder, a member of the book club asked Wahida if she had thought about writing her autobiography. "People have asked me that," she answered, "but I honestly hadn't thought about it."

With everything that she has been through in the last decade, Wahida related that she can't even look at her jail time as a bad thing. "I can't say it was a negative. Without it there is no way I would've written a book."

When asked what authors have been on her reading list, she told the group that they are diverse as the rest of her life: James Patterson, Guy Johnson, Maya Angelou, Omar Tyree, Dean Koontz and Nikki Turner. Ironically, it was Turner who gave Clark the title of "Queen of Thug Love Fiction." I asked her was there any pressure with titles such as that or "bestseller." Wahida's answer was short and to the point. "I really don't think about that, not as long as I can back it up. It's flattering, but it just means that I have to stay on top of my game everyday."

As we wrapped up the discussion, Wahida was asked what advice would she give those who say they have a story in them. "I would tell them to write. I have had people tell me that they have five books in their head. What I tell them is they need to put them down on paper, because they aren't doing you or anyone else any good while they are just in your head. Do your research and make sure it is the best it can be."

And what did Wahida have to say to her growing legion of fans? The bestselling author actually became emotional before answering. "Thank you so much for your support. Thank you to everyone who wrote me, telling me how much they enjoyed the books. It meant so much for me to get that encouragement."

The future is bright for the author who had no intention of being a writer, but whose literary star is one of the brightest on the market at this time. She has a fan base that at this point is hard to fathom, and has made an impact that will probably take some time to wrap herself around.

One thing that is clear at this point, however, is that Wahida Clark is a fighter in every sense of the world. She is not one to allow her circumstances to define her, but the lives she has introduced us to through her characters will remain with us for years to come.

You can also visit her at: http://www.wclarkpublishing.com/   or  WCP community at:  http://wclarkpublishing.ning.com/



Please join in the discussion by leaving comments below.
Return to Black Pearls Magazine Online-- Twitter with Ella
Read more ...

Intimate Conversations with Author Marc Lacy

Intimate Conversations with Author Marc Lacy

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

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


Ella: Let the party begin! Marc, what makes you powerful as a person and a writer?
Marc: I would not necessarily deem myself as a powerful person; but I do think that there is power in the written word. The more we learn about the craft and our abilities, the better off we will be in positioning ourselves to get the message out to the people. Thus creating a powerful force in the act alone.


Ella: Who are your mentors? Where do you find your inspiration?
Marc: I have several mentors (who actually do not know that they are my mentors)...too many to name. But they are fiction, non-fiction writers as well as poets/spoken word artists. My hunger to become a better writer and a voice for the people, with faith in God, keeps my engine churning.


Ella: Finish this sentence- My writing offers the following legacy to future readers...
Marc: A creative instinct which is the by-product of a hunger to always be the best that I can be...no matter what. Write better...and write the best.


Ella: Before we go too deep, Marc, I would like to take a minute to shine the light on your fabulous co-author.
Assuanta Howard was born and raised in New York City. Howard is known for her dynamic and innovative persona. She began her career in higher education, serving over 17 years in various leadership roles. She managed grant funded programs with budgets over 3 million dollars. Howard is qualified to administer the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, a psychometric questionnaire designed to measure psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions. Howard took her extensive literacy and ESOL experience, leadership and program development expertise and established several business entities within the literary industry.

She is the proud founder of Asta Publications, LLC, a mainstream and self-publishing company and Asta Public Relations Services, a public relations firm that focuses on brand management and marketing campaigns for literary professionals.


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

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

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

Of course our desire is to walk within The Kingdom's Neighborhood, but it can be very difficult leaving the alluring amenities of home. We have the protocol down pat; especially when others can witness us witnessing.

However, when backs are turned and the sun has set, the righteous hotness of the self-proclaimed saint can suddenly turn lukewarm. Although the tongue can no longer house rationalizations, we still find a way to verbally cover spiritual deficits...thus casting us further into a pit of unrighteous debt surrounded by several unused shovels.


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


Ella: Who do you want to reach with your book and the message within?
Marc: I honestly feel that saints, sinners, churched, un-churched, educated/uneducated, young/elderly professionals, and people of all races can identify with this book. However, if I had to choose a specific demographic, it would be those who want to "do right," but seriously struggle with it.


Ella: Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book, Wretched Saints?
Marc: God never stops working on us or others.


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

 
Please join in the discussion by leaving comments below.
Return to Black Pearls Magazine Online  -- Twitter with Ella
Read more ...

ARE YOU STEPPING OUT ON FAITH WITH YOUR WRITING

ARE YOU STEPPING OUT ON FAITH WITH YOUR WRITING
by Marc Lacy


It is so funny how some people make a big to do about the fact that they decided to step out on faith and write full time. But what they failed to mention, is the fact that their spouse is making $300,000 a year. With that being the case, not only are the ends meeting – they’re colliding! So technically, this is not stepping out on faith. This is what you call stepping out on knowing you will have funds. Not that there is anything wrong with that. But when you actually decide to step out faith, make sure you step out on faith, and not stupid. Remember, just because it worked for someone else, does not guarantee that it will work for you. There is a “chance” that it will work for you. Everyone’s situation is different. There are different forces and different factors that help nudge the landscape of how things play out in your literary life.

Before you tell your boss to “take this job and shove it” make sure that you have a solid foundation in place to provide the support you need as you take your literary endeavor to another level. For instance, when someone is a full-time writer, it does not necessarily equate to them only writing and collecting a royalty check while living happily ever after. Now some people have paid their dues and have experienced the bumps and bruises that come with authorship…so they have basically earned the right to do the aforementioned.

However, the percentage is very small. With that being said, there are various components that you could put into play to assist your fulltime writer aspiration. Alongside writing and publishing books, you could actually make a living conducting workshops, engaging in public speaking, and writing copy for various companies. These are just a few of the ways you could sustain yourself financially while developing all aspects of your full time writing career. Money certainly is not the only important thing here; but you need it to live. You also need funding to nurture the development of your writing in every phase applicable. There is nothing like earning a living while developing essential skills within your craft.

Remember, there is no such thing as an overnight rockstar author. This is a big misconception. Yes, we are living in a literary age and yes just about “everyone” is publishing books and writing now. Some are actually making a good buck in the literary industry. There are some hot topics out here in our crazy world and people are taking advantage of human attraction to crazy, shocking, and alluring stories and subject matter. Trends and fads are two major factors that are heavy influences within several industries, especially fashion, music and literature.

Unfortunately a trend goes out as quickly as it comes in. Like an aggressive stock, there is potential for quick and extreme success as well as quick and extreme failure. You cannot be angry with someone for taking advantage of a trend because they are just giving the people what they want right? The industry is wide open and if some just want to make that paper, then so be it. Do not waste any of your time and energy downing them if that is their focus.

None of us are the law in terms of literary genres, so we cannot drag anybody to trial for capitalizing on their rights for creative expression. However, you are encouraged to put yourself in a position to where trends and fads will impact; but not control your writing. In essence, if you focus on good writing and improving the quality of your writing, you will establish “staying power” in the literary world. Your writing will be so solid that people will be able to enjoy it down the line as we incur various phases and changes within overall writing styles and subject matter that people are attracted to.

Finally, if you step out on faith in your literary career, quality writing should be your main focus. Every step you take and every breath you make should illustrate your hunger for improved writing. If you conduct writing workshops, not only will you help others with their writing, you are also helping yourself. Should you engage in public speaking, it should be a reflection of how serious you are about writing. When you land that contract to write copy for a company, it would be yet another tool in the chest to assist you with high quality writing. Your literary shoes should be so big, that absolutely no one can fill them. Step out, and step high!



About the Author
Marc Lacy, a graduate of Alabama A&M University is a nationally renown, award winning poet/author and spoken word artist. He has performed all of over the country for many national literary events and spoken word venues. Marc is the author of Rock & Fire - Love Poetry from The Core, and The Looking Heart - Poetic Expressions from Within. He is also the producer of REFlux, RTIQLation, and LyriCode 256 spoken word CDs.

Marc is the contributor to many anthologies such as: The Soul of a Man, Step up to The Mic, and Witness the Truth.

Marc is a member of ArtNSoul Society of Expression, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Church Street CPCA, Huntsville Literary Association, and National Society of Black Engineers. He credits his faith in God and love of family for providing energy to succeed. Checkout his latest fiction book, Wretched Saints - When the Righteous Path Leads to Hell's Doorstep at: http://www.marclacy.com/ , www.myspace.com/mlacy , and www.facebook.com/marclacy
Read more ...

SELF-PUBLISHED POETS, BE ENCOURAGED

SELF-PUBLISHED POETS, BE ENCOURAGED
by author/poet Marc Lacy


If you are a self-published poet, or an aspiring poet considering going that route for your first publication, I’m sure you’ve just about heard it all by now. “Poetry doesn’t sell.” “You’re better off writing a novel.” “You will not be accepted as a legitimate writer while writing poetry.”

Well, I know I have. People have been on my back since day one with regards to publishing something other than poetry. I mean I’ve had some knockdown drag outs about what “I” should do with “my” career. I’ve listened to just about everything people have to say. I take everything with a grain of salt. People are entitled to their opinion. It is what it is…and what it is, is “their opinion.” But, in processing all of the opinions, I realized how valuable their takes were and still are about writing and publishing.

Although I have produced works in other genres, I’m currently making a segue into the realm of fiction. Even though I have made my mark as a poet, I certainly want to be known as a quality “writer” first. So why now Marc, especially since you’ve been such an ambassador for poetry and spokenword? I’ll tell you why. Throughout all of those years of getting hounded (respectfully) by literary enthusiasts, book clubs, fellow authors, friends, and family…there was a perception that my only goal throughout my entire literary career was to only publish poetry and produce spoken word cds. No one ever asked me what my future plans were? All along, I knew I would someday take the fiction leap of faith; but I did not know exactly when. So why now? Well, if I’m going to make a transition, it is going to be at my own pace and on my own time. I humbly refuse to let another dictate how and where I should throw my passion’s weight around.

However, I’m no dummy. Remember…I “do” listen.  I understand the reality of the situation. When people walk into a bookstore, the last thing they may say to themselves is, “Hmmmm, let me go to the poetry section.” Even if they convince themselves to do so, what makes me think my book is going to standout over a beautiful hard-covered Nikki Giovanni coffee table edition of a poetry collection? Yes, Nikki is the bomb. Or a nice volume of famous works by Edgar Allen Poe? Edgar was a poetical genius. Nothing wrong with having gumption, confidence or desire; but if you are a fish, compete with the best fish and do not try to fly with the fastest birds.

Be realistic in your goal-setting. In some areas, it’s okay to take the path of least resistance. If you are a pioneer and have visions of setting a trend, understand that you will be your own sacrificial lamb. In layman’s terms that means, you will go through more hardship before you realize any pleasure or relief. But, it is ultimately up to you. I do not want to be the one to deter someone from chasing dreams. We all have them.

As odd as it sounds, there needs to be some “reality” factored into our fantasies. Nothing wrong with learning to work smarter while pursuing goals. There is also nothing wrong with applying logic and truth to a creative vision and going forth.


WHY SHOULD YOU BE ENCOURAGED?
There are several reasons to be encouraged. So many that I do not have the real-estate to cover them in this blog, but I need you to know this: although people tend to purchase fiction and other genres at a way higher rate than they do poetry, if they see you perform or somehow hear your material, they will at least be attentive for that time period. Once you have them, you have them. So continue honing your craft of writing poetry and performing spoken word.

If poetry is your thing, then that is what it is, however, you can still retain these skills while going through a writing genre transition. Just think about it…if you are invited to present your material with a group of authors who write in other genres, depending on how your performance goes, you have the potential to stand out like no other. Why? Because you are performing your material and not necessarily just talking about it. If you stand out, then people are more apt to purchase your material; especially if you are the only one on the program performing or doing some sort of skit. Take full advantage of this opportunity should it arise. However, make sure you think about getting double the exposure by developing your writing skills in another genre.

Once you become acclimated to and sharp in another writing category, you will then have extra power in your literary engine to flex when it comes to publishing and presentation. By respecting all facets of the craft of writing, your game can be potentially stepped up more than you know.



WHY SHOULD YOU BE CONCERNED ABOUT BECOMING A BETTER WRITER?
If you are published and have aspirations of continuing to publish, your main objective should not only be selling books; but becoming a better writer. Even if you a performing poet, you should still focus on becoming a better writer. People get into the game for a variety of reasons. Some people are not concerned for state of being of the craft of writing as they are about making a dollar from selling a book. If you are passionate about any genre, then you should be just as passionate about improving your writing. Be encouraged to constantly digest and embody the change you are trying to make.

If you are a poet or spoken word artist; continue being the best you can be; but also be encouraged to know that your talents are appreciated. Being that such is the case, why not take your writing to the next level by delving into another genre while still maintaining your skills in the realm of poetry/spoken word? I’d like to leave you with this thought: If you develop your writing in another genre, publish books to the effect, that fact alone may bring more attention to your poetry than that which was gained when you wrote only in that genre to begin with.



About the Author
Marc Lacy, a graduate of Alabama A&M University is a nationally renown, award winning poet/author and spoken word artist. He has performed all of over the country for many national literary events and spoken word venues. Marc is the author of Rock & Fire - Love Poetry from The Core, and The Looking Heart - Poetic Expressions from Within. He is also the producer of REFlux, RTIQLation, and LyriCode 256 spoken word CDs.

Marc is the contributor to many anthologies such as: The Soul of a Man, Step up to The Mic, and Witness the Truth. Marc is a member of ArtNSoul Society of Expression, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Church Street CPCA, Huntsville Literary Association, and National Society of Black Engineers. He credits his faith in God and love of family for providing energy to succeed. Checkout his latest fiction book, Wretched Saints - When the Righteous Path Leads to Hell's Doorstep at: http://www.marclacy.com/ , www.myspace.com/mlacy , and www.facebook.com/marclacy
Read more ...

Importance of the Black Book Clubs

The Importance of the Black Book Clubs
by Dr. Maxine E. Thompson


Twice this week, on 2-13-10 and 2-18-10, I met with Book Clubs, once at the Inglewood Library, where I did a writer’s workshop and the other day at my book club, Seniors on The Move. I was happy for the feedback, the reminiscing and the discussions. It started me to thinking about how important the Black Book Clubs have been in this Literary Renaissance.

In fact, I know one writer who is self-published and who makes a good living doing 2-4 book clubs per month. So the Black Book Clubs are definitely important.  It made me want to revisit an article I wrote 2 years ago that is still apropos. Sometimes God sends an angel into our lives and we don’t even know it. When God has a plan for our lives, He will make a provision.

In 1999, I had been off my job approximately two years when I re-issued my debut novel, The Ebony Tree. Looking back, The Special Thoughts Book Club was the first Los Angeles book club–in fact the first book club–to host me as a writer. Since then I’ve had the pleasure of being hosted at many book clubs, known and some even unknown.

 In 1999, when I met with the founder, Janel Stephenson, and she paid me my first check (which was sizable,) for my books, I thought, “Wow! Someone will actually pay you for your dreams.”

Somehow, in chatting, I told Janel of my dilemma. I had just received a letter offering me to return to work as a supervisor, (which was a promotion) at the Los Angeles County Department of Children’s Family and Services, or I could stay on the unknown rocky path of living the writer’s life. I had no idea what the future held, and financially, it didn’t look like I’d be able to make it. After two years, I had run through my savings, my sick leave, and my vacation time. At the time, I had two mortgages, my youngest son in college, and grandchildren, a dog, etc. etc.

At any rate, Janel encouraged me to pursue my dreams. “You’ll never know if you don’t try.” With that check and Janel’s words of encouragement, I took one day at a time, and that one day has led into almost eleven years since I was last an employee.

Looking back, when I attended the Special Thoughts’ book club meeting, I was impressed by the number of members–almost thirty readers and 50 percent of them men. They were articulate and challenged my thinking.

Last year, in celebrating the Special Thoughts Reading group’s tenth anniversary, I congratulated them.


As for the journey, I am happy to report the following:


Since my first book club meeting, I’ve either published or been published in 11 books, (2 novels, 1 short story collection, 3 self-help e-books/manuals, and five anthologies,) one that I published under my company, Black Butterfly Press, Saturday Morning, (and two pending novel deals and one pending nonfiction book deal). I’ve edited, formatted or ghostwritten numerous books for other writers or companies. Many of these books have made bestseller’s lists, some even have made the New York Times’ bestseller’s list.

I am the agent for books for other African American writers and we are now pursuing film or independent deals for some of these deals. As another business, I’ve hosted Internet radio shows for writers since March 2002 to promote writers’ works. I currently host on Artistfirst.com.

So I’d like to give special thanks to Janel Stephenson for acting as an angel and for her encouragement and continued support of Black writers. I also want to thank the Special Thoughts’ book club members for pulling me through a dark hour. Congratulations on their upcoming eleventh anniversary in November 2008.

Now, once again, we are faced as a nation with that same dilemma that I had in 1999–except the economic climate is worse. Even so, many people have a dream of either being a writer, a magazine owner, a publicist, a book store owner, an agent, actor, artist, or you name it, but the economy looks so bleak. Wall Street crashed the week of 9-15-08 and banks failed. I mean how bad can it get during a recession?

Therefore, how do we make it as Black businesspersons during these trying times? What can we do?

Well, we can work together. We can build resources through one another. We can support one another’s dreams. We can barter. We can help each other. However, what we cannot do is to ever give up hope and faith. Remember, no good work goes unrewarded. In this vein, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the many Black book clubs across the country that have supported Black books, thereby promoting literacy! I give a special thanks to Special Thoughts Book Club, Rawsistaz and Apoo.org.

In behalf of Black writers, I applaud and commend you, Black Book Club Leaders and Members.



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

Hostage of Lies is her latest fiction novel, was voted a Best Book of 2009 by EDC Creations: http://edcmagazine.blogspot.com/2009/12/best-books-of-2009-our-relationships.html


Hostage of Lies Video Book Introduction
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSAoDdM5YLU

View the Video Postcard. Share it with a friend
http://www.audioacrobat.com/note/C4X7sBVQ


Please join in the discussion by leaving comments below.
Return to Black Pearls Magazine Online-- Twitter with Ella
Read more ...

What are the Seven R’s or Building Blocks of Fiction?

What are the Seven R’s or Building Blocks of Fiction?
by Dr. Maxine E. Thompson


Although there are no set rules for writing a novel, there are certain principles that will improve the execution of your story. If you were to bake a cake, wouldn’t you like to know the recipe? Just as there are certain ingredients needed to bake a cake, there are certain action steps, which are necessary for writing compelling fiction. Likewise, an architect would not try to build a house without a blueprint, or without the proper tools, so why try to write a novel without the building blocks? From my experiences of working with beginning writers, your chances of writing a good book are better when you improve your writing skills. These are some of the nuts and bolts for writing a good work of fiction.


Seven Keys to Improving Your Writing
Regardless of your talent, I found there are seven keys, which will improve your writing. These action steps are reading, writing practice, (including journaling), research, right-brain thinking, reactions, reversals, which keeps a scene turning on its ear, and revisions (or rewriting.)


I. Reading
For a writer, reading is like inhaling oxygen. You need it to exhale the carbon dioxide of your writing. The two are inextricably intertwined. Reading is key to stimulating the mind and the imagination. In addition, it builds your vocabulary and flexes your creativity muscles. Most of all, it shows you the craft of writing fiction, as well as non-fiction, and the tricks a writer uses to evoke emotions, and to captivate an audience. Reading is a prerequisite to writing.

Make a goal to read as many of the classics as possible. Read the genre in which you would like to write, particularly if it’s romance, mystery, suspense, horror, fantasy, comedy, or magical realism. Set a goal to read at least one new book a week. All great writers are great readers. You need to be a voracious reader to be a good writer!


II. Writing
Writing, (including journaling) is equivalent to a musician’s form of piano practice. Writing takes more than talent; it involves craft. The craft of fiction includes all the skills that fiction writers must develop: characterization, dialogue, plotting, setting, plus many more techniques.

Journaling each morning is another way to become a better writer. In fact, it is crucial to courting the muse. By journaling, you will also learn to check in and check out with your feelings. Remember, Author Henry James said, “A writer is one on whom nothing is lost.” Writing is a spiritual undertaking. Pray before you write.


III. Research
The importance of research for writers can’t be stressed enough. Why is research important? It adds depth, credibility, and texture to a work of fiction. Personally, I like to read books, which shed light on some unknown subject. Tell me something new.


IV. Right-Brain Thinking
Tap into the right-brain, and you’ve hit the source of your creativity. This involves use of free association, free writing, mind mapping, and clustering, which are all functions of the right brain use. Dreams are the most important of all of these. You can use dreams to spark ideas.


V. Reactions
Newton’s Law says that for every action, there’s a reaction. In movies, the reactions are called “reaction shots.” This is just as important to character development in writing fiction. Reactions make for good writing. Reactions will also help with your characterization. Through the five character actions (thinking, speaking, acting, reacting, and interacting), reactions can be shown through thoughts, dialogue, and actions. Each one tells us something about the characters. One character will react to the same situation in a totally different manner than another character. You can look at the outcome of children in a large family and get an idea how people are so different who come up in the same environment.


VI. Reversals
A reversal is the scene’s climax, a turning point, a change. Not only does it add magic to a scene, a reversal enhances, invigorates, and amplifies a scene. Make sure there is at least one reversal in each major group of scenes. Reversals make your plot unpredictable and heighten the tension.

At the end of your novel, your main character should be changed from the person he was at the beginning. Make sure you take your scenes from positive to negative values, and vice-versa. A scene can start off peaceful and wind up in mayhem. Or the scene can start off chaotic and wind down to a tranquil one.

The biggest reversal in a scene can be from life to death. When you outline, label your scenes for the emotional value. Example: From pride to loss of respect.


VII. Revisions (or Rewriting)
After you have escaped from your draft and have distanced yourself as the writer, you will explore ways to troubleshoot your own and others’ writings for unfocused, incoherent drafts. When rewriting, finish the first draft. Put aside for one week up to a month. Then do your own self-edit.

In conclusion, it takes courage to write. Remember. “No guts, no story.”


© Copyright Dr. Maxine E. Thompson
(  Source: http://maxinethompsonbooks.com/blog/page/2   )



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


Please join in the discussion by leaving comments below.
Return to Black Pearls Magazine Online -- Twitter with Ella
Read more ...

How To Make Money During a Down Economy

How To Make Money During a Down Economy
by Dr. Maxine E. Thompson


Are you angry about the economy? I don’t know about you, but I get angry in this down economy. Why? Because it has a trickle-down effect on all small businesses.

In my case, particularly as a literary service provider, some clients don’t pay when they should because someone hasn’t paid them.

We, as literary entrepreneurs, must adjust our marketing strategies.

But, instead of getting angry, how about if we get busy?

How about if our anger could move us to another level? A level of action.

Let’s look back in history. During the depression, women found ways to make it for their families by cooking, sewing, quilting, washing and ironing clothes for other families, etc.

I grew up during a recession in the fifties, and I look back. How did my parents survive with six children? To supplement my construction worker father’s income, my mother did what we called “day work”-cleaning for white women. We often had filling meals of beans, soup, chili. We were seldom sick-later I found out we didn’t even have health care, which is happening a lot today because of layoffs. So I know, with God’s help, we can make it through this economy. It is something our ancestors always did. Make a way out of no way.

In times like this, we need to examine ourselves.

1) Find your strengths.
2) Get around others who are strong where you are weak.
3) Build your teams.
4) Get people to fill in your gaps.
5) Find multiple streams of income from your book, such as speeches, workshops, seminars, teleseminars, webcasts, podcasts, blogs.
6) Use your social networking to build teams, find resources, and exchange information, as well as socialize.


Ask yourself, what can I do to give people hope? Believe it or not, it starts with giving away what you have that has value.

How can we be of value and how can we provide service to others?

What do you have of value which you can give away? Can you build business relationships which are mutually beneficial to yourself as well as others? Can you teach what you learn as a literary entrepreneur?

Can you provide sales, marketing on line, coaching, or seminars first locally, then around the world? How can we get financial freedom?

We must take consistent action every day in our business.

On one day a week, work on your business rather than in it. Have meetings to brainstorm with your team as to what your next steps will be.

The words we communicate to ourselves and to others will pay dividends to you. It will help you and others solve a problem.

Right now, people are hungry for freedom. People want to get into sales and people want to write at least one book.

What are sales ingredients? First of all, you have to believe that the book you are offering has value.

Ask your readers what do they like to read? Sell them on the benefits of your book. Find out what pains them. Often you’ll find readers who want to write a book themselves. This is how I started my literary services, then later my literary agency. I also have done Internet radio since March 5, 2002 to provide writers with an international platform to market their book.

What was the painful motivation? People were tired of not seeing their words in print, then tired of not being able to get their books out to the market. So find what pains people enough to move them to action and you will be able to make the sale.


© Copyright Dr. Maxine E. Thompson
(Source: http://maxinethompsonbooks.com/blog/page/2)



Author’s Bio:
Dr. Maxine E. Thompson is a novelist, poet, columnist, short story writer, book reviewer, an editor, ghostwriter, Internet Radio Show Host, and a Literary Agent. She is the author of The Ebony Tree, No Pockets in a Shroud, A Place Called Home (A Short Story Collection), The Hush Hush Secrets of Writing Fiction That Sell, a contributor to bestselling anthologies Secret Lovers, All in The Family, and Never Knew Love Like This Before, (Also a Kindle Bestseller), Proverbs for the People.

Hostage of Lies is her latest fiction novel, was voted a Best Book of 2009 by EDC Creations.

Please join in the discussion by leaving comments below.
Return to Black Pearls Magazine Online -- Twitter with Ella
Read more ...