Sharon Lucas Once Upon a Holiday

Once Upon a Holiday Spotlight
Reading Divas Book Club of the DMV
Sharon Lucas, the President of the Reading Divas Book Club of the DMV, is a lifelong reader and a dedicated supporter of African American authors and literature. Like most people, Sharon procrastinated about joining or starting a book club – but the club she founded, the Reading Divas, just celebrated their 14th year.  For the last five years the Divas, have introduced a variety of established and new authors to a growing group of avid readers as they host their annual literary event.

Q:  Give us the history of your organization. How many members do you have?
 In August 1998, Sharon Lucas – a wife and mother who worked fulltime - founded The Reading Divas Book Club. Sharon loved to read but she was felt that she had no time for herself. So she invited several women to start a book club – their motto “a little time for me”.  We currently have 14 members. We’ve never elected officers but Sharon serves as President and Brenda Hart as Treasurer.  The members all live in the Washington, DC/Maryland area.

Q:  What is the purpose of your organization?  Do you host events during the year or provide services for the community?
The purpose of our organization is to provide an oasis once a month for members to share a good read and a bottle of wine, relax, and enjoy the sisterhood.  In 2008, to celebrate our 10th Anniversary we began hosting a Literary Brunch each year; in 2012, we expanded to a weekend format.  Our format has been to bring in a celebrated author as our keynote speaker and introduce other authors to our audience through an “Author Expo”.  

Our speakers have included Mary Monroe, Virginia Deberry & Donna Grant, Daniel Black, Bernice McFadden and Pamela Samuels-Young.  To contribute to our community, during our event this year, we will make a donation to “All Shades of Pink” a local organization, which provides programs and services to breast cancer patients.


Q:  What legacy will your club leave for those watching in the community?
Through our annual literary event and our support of local authors and book clubs, the legacy we hope to leave is that of a well-organized group of African American women who loved to read and who supported reading and African American authors.

Q:  Are you satisfied with the legacy black books will leave our future generations?  Do you think the writings of today’s authors are leaving the same legacy as authors from other generations?  If so, who?
Speaking for myself, Sharon Lucas, and not necessarily for all members of The Reading Divas:  I am disturbed that so many people today “think” they are authors – because a lot of them aren’t; I am disturbed that so many authors think that everything they write must contain “erotica” and so-called “street language” in order to be well-received – because a lot of great books don’t contain either. 

There are many “excellent authors” today– but given the number of books that are published each month – it’s hard to sift through and find them. I believe the words “great, fantastic and awesome” when describing books and authors of today are grossly overused.  I would love to see the bar raised!  Maybe if readers and reviewers were more honest in their reviews, there might be more of an effort on the part of real writers to work at improving their craft.  


Q:  Do you feel as if African Americans are represented in a good light in the novels you read?
I would rather respond to the question “Do you feel African Americans are fairly portrayed in the novels you read that are written by African American writers”?   I believe there are African Americans living in every spectrum of the world today – so why are we so often seen in church, in clubs, and the projects? After all “we” are in the White House!

Q:  Do you think digital books will ever replace a printed book?  Does the price of ebooks play a big part in the purchase?  Would you ever stop buying printed books?
I (Sharon), have personally “gotten over” the printed book and so have must members of the group.   I enjoy not having to pay extra when I’m traveling to bring along 5 or 6 books, when I can have a hundred on my Kindle to choose from.  I also love being able to sample a book before I buy – when buying books, I often got home or received them in the mail only to discover I had already the book. 

Price doesn’t play a big part in the purchase – if the sample seems good, if the reviews are going well, and especially if it’s an author that I have read previously and enjoyed, or it’s the club’s read for the month – I just buy it! 


Representing: The Reading Divas
The 2013 Black Authors & Readers Rock Weekend


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Carmela Hicks Gordon Once Upon a Holiday

Once Upon a Holiday Spotlight
The SistahFriend Book Club




Carmela Hicks Gordon is the site leader for the Virtual Branch of Sistahfriend Book Club.  She also is a contributing writer for the BookClub University Magazine started by TaNisha Webb and a reviewer for the Book Referees started by Orsayor Simmons.  She enjoys reading and volunteers in her community as a tutor to help children to read and write and firmly believes if you can read, you go anywhere and do any and everything! 

BPM:  How was The SistahFriend Book Club created?   Give us your history. 
The SistahFriend Book Club was founded by Tasha Martin in 2004 in Columbia, SC. It was decided a little over a year ago to branch out and form a virtual branch where I am the site leader.  The SistahFriend Book Club is a live and online reading and networking group for women that focuses on reading and discussing books by or about African-Americans and promoting unity through women empowerment and fellowship.

BPM:   Carmela, what do you love the most about reading? Who are your favorite authors?
Reading is relaxing.  Reading is therapeutic.  Reading is definitely fundamental.  My favorite authors are Trice Hickman, Rickey Teems, ReShonda Tate Billingsley, Victoria Christopher Murray, Kimberla Lawson Roby, Rhonda McKnight, Patricia Haley, and Brian W. Smith.

BPM:   How does your group serve your community or the literary industry? 
The virtual branch contributes to the literary industry by reading AA authors as well as we do a community service event.  This year the virtual branch decided to help someone who is ill and has no income.  We also will be purchasing a book to donate for a child for Christmas.

Thank you,
Carmela Hicks Gordon
SistahFriend Book Club Website: http://www.sistahfriend.com  


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EDC Creations Featured Holiday Books



Click the image to explore the books.  Here are our featured books for the 2012 Holiday Season.  Please give books as gifts to your friends, family and co-workers.  We appreciate all that you do to Give the Gift of Knowledge!  Happy Holidays from Ella D. Curry,  EDC Creations Media
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Orsayor L. Simmons Once Upon a Holiday


Once Upon a Holiday Spotlight
Blogger: Orsayor L. Simmons

Orsayor has always wanted her voice to be heard when it came to books. Being a book reviewer has strengthened her love for books, and now she makes it her duty to share her love of books with the masses.

Orsayor is a mom, wife, judgment worker, cake stylist and owner of Simmons Sweets. She is a book reviewer for OOSA Online Book Club, Urban Reviews, Book Sneeze, Tyndale Publishing, Astraea Press, and NetGalley.  She also runs her own book review blog, The Book Referees. Website: www.bookreferees.com

BPM:  How did you form your lit blog? Give us your history.
Book Referees was formed by me (Orsayor L. Simmons).  It was formed to get me and my book loving friends to read/review/and to spread the word out about our favorite books.  Now it seems to have taken on a life of its own. I'm now spreading the word through my blog - interviewing authors - and getting books in the hands of celebrities.

BPM:  What do you love most about reading? Who are your favorite authors?
I love reading because it serves as a mental escape from the stresses of the real world. I'm able to meet new people, travel to new places without leaving the comforts of my home.

My favorite authors are Donald Goines - E. Lynn Harris - Brian W. Smith - Electa Rome Parks - Victoria Christopher Murray - Lutisha Lovely  and Rickey Teems III
.

BPM:  How does your blog serve the literary industry?
Spreading the word about the gems of the literary world...

 
Book Referees:  We Call It Like We See It
http://bookreferees.blogspot.com

Follow me on Twitter:  @Orsayor
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/bookreferees


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Electa Rome Parks Once Upon a Holiday


Once Upon a Holiday Interview with Electa Rome Parks

Electa Rome Parks currently resides outside Atlanta, Georgia. After successfully self-publishing her debut novel, The Ties That Bind, New American Library, a division of Penguin Group, bought the rights. Electa signed a three-book deal with New American Library. All three books were immediately chosen as Black Expressions Book Club main selections and embraced as Books of the Month by book clubs across the country. Dubbed a "book club favorite," avid readers have embraced Electa's true to life characters that tackle prevalent and heavy hitting issues.

Since then Electa has become an award-winning, national bestselling author of several other mainstream (Loose Ends and Almost Doesn't Count) and erotic (These Are My Confessions, Ladies' Night Out, Diary of a Stalker, True Confessions and The Stalker Chronicles) novels with Penguin Group, HarperCollins and Kensington. Electa was highlighted in Literary Divas: The Top 100+ Most Admired African-American Women in Literature and has written articles for several on-line magazines. The self-proclaimed, Queen of Real, Electa has been a frequent guest on radio shows, has been nominated for many industry awards and has been interviewed by newspapers, AOL's Black Voices, Vibe Vixen, Upscale Magazine, Today's Black Woman, Rolling Out and Booking Matters, to name just a few.

With a BA degree in marketing and a minor in sociology, she is following her true passion and working on her next novel. Electa is also currently touring with Atlanta's GA Peach Authors tour and dreams of one day seeing her books adapted for the small or big screen.

BPM:  Tell us about your latest book:
 
When Baldwin Loved Brenden "Can anything truly tear apart real friendship and love?"
A whole decade has passed since Baldwin, Brenden, Bria, and Christopher last saw each other. In college, they were a close-knit circle of friends who called themselves The Group—until an unfortunate set of circumstances placed their friendship in jeopardy. They went their separate ways after graduation, never looking back, and never expecting to see each other again.  Now they are reunited in a small North Carolina town to attend the funeral of one of their own. Rihanna was always the peacemaker of the group, so it’s almost fitting that it’s at her funeral that The Group will have to confront their past issues.

Baldwin, the romantic, Brenden, the do-gooder, Bria, the wild child, and Christopher, the pretty boy, are all about to learn some truths about each other and about themselves over a few unforgettable and life-changing days. Secrets will be revealed, past hurts exposed, tears shed, and laugher shared, all in the name of friendship and love.
 
BPM: You believe in:
I believe in God, angels, spirits, guardian angels, spirit guides, totems, reincarnation, and UFOs.

BPM: Faith allows you to:
Faith allows me to stay strong, believe in myself, fulfill my destiny and never, ever give up.

BPM: Criticism makes you:
Criticism motivates me; makes me work harder and smarter.

BPM: When you are afraid, you will:
When I am afraid, I pray. I pray for strength, guidance and protection.

BPM: Three artists on your playlist:
Three artist on my playlist are Adele, Al Green and Miguel.

BPM: What surprised you the most about becoming...(parent, adult, business owner, etc.)
What surprised me most about becoming an adult is that you are still, no matter what age, a child at heart.

BPM: If you weren't a writer, you would be:
If I weren't a writer, I would be a psychiatrist. The human mind fascinates me. Many of us are barely functioning as sane.

BPM: What you learned from your readers:
I learned that readers are loyal; if they like you, they will bring you into the fold and embrace you like family. Priceless.

BPM: Your favorite promotional tool:
The Internet is my favorite promotional tool because I can reach a massive number of readers with less out of pocket costs.

BPM: Do you view writing as a gift or a career:
I view writing as a precious gift that has become a career.
  
Electa Rome Parks, author of
When Baldwin Loved Brenden (coming January 2013)
The Stalker Chronicles (Kensington/Urban Books)
True Confessions (Kensington/Urban Books)
Diary of a Stalker (Kensington/Urban Books)
These Are My Confessions (HarperCollins/Avon Red)
Ladies' Night Out (Penguin Group/NAL)
Almost Doesn't Count (Penguin Group/NAL)
Loose Ends (Penguin Group/NAL)
The Ties That Bind (Penguin Group/NAL)

www.electaromeparks.com
www.facebook.com/electaromeparks
www.electaromeparks.blogspot.com
 

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Meet Donna Hill Once Upon a Holiday


Once Upon a Holiday Interview with Donna Hill
From Donna Hill: I write to weave the threads that connect us all!

Donna Hill began her career in 1987 writing short stories for the confession magazines. Since that time she has more than fifty published titles to her credit since her first novel was released in 1990, and is considered one of the early pioneers of the African American romance genre.  Three of her novels have been adapted for television. She has been featured in Essence, the New York Daily News, USA Today, Today’s Black Woman, and Black Enterprise among many others. She has appeared on numerous radio and television stations across the country and her work has appeared on several bestseller lists, including Essence, Emerge and The Dallas Morning News among others.

Donna Hill has received numerous awards for her body of work—which cross several genres--  including The Career Achievement Award, the first recipient of The Trailblazer Award, The Zora Neale Hurston Literary Award, The Gold Pen Award among others, as well as commendations for her community service, during her tenure as Director for Kianga House—a transitional residence for homeless teen mothers and their children.  Donna co-wrote the screenplay Fire, which enjoyed limited theater release before going to DVD. As an editor she has packaged several highly successful novels, and anthologies, two of which were nominated for awards. 

Donna served as a writing instructor at The Frederick Douglass Creative Arts Center in New York. For the past three years, Donna has been a writing instructor with the Elders Writing Program sponsored by Medgar Evers College through Poets & Writers, and oversaw the compilation and publication of their memoir anthology. Donna is a graduate of Goddard College with an MFA in Creative Writing.  She is an Adjunct Professor of English at Essex County College, and The College of New Rochelle, and lives in Brooklyn with her family. She works full–time, as a writer, for the Brooklyn Borough President’s office.

BPM:   Who does your work speak to?
When I look at my work as a full body I discovered, quite by accident, that there is an underlying theme to all of my stories whether they are romance, women's fiction, mystery, or even erotica and paranormal. My work speaks to our connection to each other.  It speaks to the impact that one person's actions have on another whether intentional or not.  In other words we are our brother's and sisters keeper and we have a responsibility for what we do because our actions will always impact someone else.

BPM:   You believe in:
I believe, that if You believe in yourself, all things are possible.

BPM:   You are humbled by:
I am constantly humbled by the readers who express their pleasure in what I do, and share with me the impact that my work has on them and has had on them for years.

BPM:   Faith allows you to:
Faith allows me to believe that if when I think I can't, I know that I will.

BPM:   What writer would you consider a mentor:
For me there is more than one writer that I would consider a mentor for several reasons.  One would be Bernice McFadden who is both friend and sounding board and whose work I admire.  Another would be Gwynne Forster who has been a friend for decades and I can grouse with about anything from writing to family.  I would also have to include Sandra Kitt as a mentor of sorts as she was the first writer that I met more than twenty years ago and convinced me that "editing" was not so hard!

BPM:   If  you weren't a writer, you would be:
I can't imagine myself being anything other than a writer in some capacity and my writing has led me to what I feel is my calling, which is teaching writing.

BPM:   The greatest threat to literary freedom is:
The greatest threat to literary freedom... good question. I would have to say the overwhelming demands that are now put on writers to be everything BUT a writer; marketeer, speech maker, radio personality, salesman. And of course being pigeon-holed because of race and the genre in which you write.

BPM:   Do you view writing as a gift or a career:
Writing is truly a gift.  Not everyone can write, whether they think so or not.  And clearly everyone cannot write, just as everyone cannot play a piano or paint a masterpiece.  The arts, although the mechanics can be taught, is God-given.  It is  intuitive. It is a part of who you are as an individual. Gifted writers, write because they must.  Career writers write for entirely different reasons.

BPM:   Life's greatest teacher is:
Life's greatest teacher is living.

BPM:   Success means:
Success means being happy in your life and feeling complete about the role you play in the lives of others.

BPM:   What legacy do you wish to leave:
If there was any legacy that I wished to leave it would be: She did what she loved and changed lives because of it.


Connect with author Donna Hill
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