TABOO TREE (Family Saga, Fiction)by AlTonya Washington Rivalries, secret romances and scandals fed the feud between the Gwaltneys and Augustines for decades. The two families shared an uneasy co-existence, until terrible tragedy touched the Gwaltneys. ...
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In This Issue...



 

TABOO TREE (Family Saga, Fiction) by AlTonya Washington


TABOO TREE (Family Saga, Fiction)


Rivalries, secret romances and scandals fed the feud between the Gwaltneys and Augustines for decades. The two families shared an uneasy co-existence, until terrible tragedy touched the Gwaltneys. Years later, the two eldest Augustine children, chose to chart their family history. In doing so, they made a devastating discovery. Their family shared more than hatred with the Gwaltneys. They shared blood. The kids decided to cover the explosive revelation. The decision would have consequences none of them could have foreseen.

Many years later, tragedy struck again. History would repeat itself as new romances bloomed amidst the pain of the loss and vows for revenge. The truth would have to be revealed. Whether the secret would ruin the families forever or finally unite them, was a chance they would have to take.

EXCERPT:

"Did ya'll come across something in your research that upset you?"
            
"Upset us?!" The siblings cried, looking as though they were horrified.
            
Chick only shrugged, his onyx gaze sliding from one child to the other.
            
Suddenly Steph pushed the book from her lap and turned to face her father more directly. "Daddy, could you let it go?" She pleaded, her fingers stretched wide. "We started coming up with too many loose ends on the thing and there was no way we'd have it done before the deadline." She declared, her expressive brown eyes widening with desperation.

            
"Shh...Baby, it's alright." Chick soothed, raising both hands to calm his daughter. When she leaned back against the headboard and bowed her head, he chuckled. "Lord, you are just like my great aunt sometimes." He sighed, closing his eyes as he envisioned the outspoken, humorous, excitable woman. "Miss Lulabay Augustine Godfrey. Did you come across her name in your research?" Chick asked, nodding when the kids smiled.
            
Chick grinned and folded his hands across the front of his green, short-sleeved sport shirt. "I remember the day I announced to the family that I was marrying Ophelia. It was very important to Auntie Bay Bay that I was truly happy and in love with your mother. She went on to say that she knew what it was like to want a love you could not have and settle for what you did not want."
            
"Smart woman." CJ couldn't help but remark, as his own situation came to mind.
            
"Very smart." Chick confirmed. "And very hurt." He added.
            
"How?" Steph asked.
            
Again, Chick closed his eyes and rested his head back against the wall. "Your great great aunt was a strong-willed lady. She always said what was on her mind and you could love it or hate it. She really didn't care. I think it was personality more so than her beauty-which was stunning-that really interested most men."
            
"But she still got hurt?" Stephanie inquired hanging onto her father's every word.
            
Chick nodded, without opening his eyes. "She got hurt, when she fell in love with the wrong dude."
            
"Josiah Gwaltney." CJ provided, easily recalling the name from research.
            A
fter a while, Chick looked across the room. "Exactly. You see...in those days, the Augustines and Gwaltney's biggest upset was over the land. When Auntie and Josiah got together...Did you two get past my aunt and her...man?"
            
Steph looked at her brother, and then shook her head at Chick. "We stopped there...too afraid of what we'd find, I guess."
            
"Well, lemme finish puttin' the pieces together." Chick decided, "Aunt Lula Bay and Josiah realized it couldn't work. Besides the dislike between the families, Josiah was way older than she was. That didn't stop them from enjoying a brief, but productive relationship. My aunt got pregnant and wanted to keep her son James, but knew it would be impossible. She was a child herself. Josiah took the boy, gave him his name and the Gwaltneys raised him. No one knew about the mother. It was to protect my aunt from anyone knowing she'd had a child out of wedlock."
            
"Then how were we able to find out about your Aunt and Josiah at all?" CJ asked.
            
Chick shrugged. "The Augustines and Gwaltneys have been powerful families in this town a long time. I honestly can't tell you how this all came to be recorded. I didn't even think you two would get so far in your research."
            
Steph leaned forward. "There's more, isn't there Daddy?"
            
Chick sighed. "Ressie Augustine-my mother-grew up and fell in love. She didn't know the man she adored was her cousin."
            
"She fell in love with her Aunt's son?" CJ remarked, his dark eyes widening.
            
Chick managed a slow grin. "That's right. Like my Aunt, she got pregnant and had me. The family wanted to disown her, but Auntie Lula Bay refused to let them do it. I never knew my father, but those two women raised me better than if I'd had ten daddies."
            
"Did your dad know about you?" Steph asked, seeing the hurt beginning to cloud her father's face.
            
"He knew." Chick responded, his voice close to breaking.

CJ raised his hands. "Well, what'd he do?"
            
"Married another woman. I think my mother died a little every day after she heard the news."
            
"Did they have any kids?" Steph asked.
            
"Several." Chick confirmed, pinning the kids with an unwavering dark stare. "You two wouldn't know any of their sons, but one. I have a cousin who is also my brother and he lives not ten minutes away."
            
"Jason Gwaltney." CJ stated, a heavy lump forming at the base of his throat.
            
Chick only nodded, watching his son and daughter absorb the incredible details of their family's history. The room was silent for several minutes. CJ and Steph were too in awe to speak the questions filling their heads.
            
"Do the Gwaltneys know about this, Pop?" CJ finally asked.
            
"Jason does. I don't know about his brothers. I know he's kept it from his wife and kids."
            
"What about Ma?" Steph asked.
            
Chick shook his head. "She has no idea."
            
"Does this mean you understand why we didn't turn in the project?"
            
"I do." Chick told his son. "And I hope you two understand why we need to keep this quiet?" He cautioned, watching his son and daughter nod in agreement.


AMAZON PAGE:
https://www.amazon.com/Taboo-Tree-AlTonya-Washington-ebook/dp/B009PFKSVC


Intimate Conversation with AlTonya Washington
AlTonya Washington has been a romance novelist for 14 years. She’s traditionally published with Harlequin’s Kimani Romance imprint, winner of the Romance Slam Jam EMMA Award and two time winner of The Romantic Times Magazine Reviewer's Choice Award. AlTonya is a mom and works as a College Reference Librarian.

In 2015, she received scholarly publication for her article An Indie Author in a Library World which appeared in “Self-Publishing and Collection Development: Opportunities and Challenges for Libraries” published by Purdue University Press. She enjoys a successful indie author career and is best known for her Ramsey/Tesano romantic suspense series.

BPM:  What made you want to become a writer? I penned my first story in the summer of 1994. I decided to become a writer the summer after I graduated college. I attended the HBCU Winston Salem State University. I believe it was that experience that made me look at the romance novels I’d enjoyed since age 13, with a more critical eye. I still enjoyed the stories, but I craved seeing characters that looked like me.  As the great Toni Morrison says “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it”. These words have been a driving force behind so many of the stories I’ve created.

BPM:  How do you think you’ve evolved creatively? I believe I’ve learned how to write the story my characters are showing me instead of the ones I want them to act out. I listen to them more which has enabled me to create some pretty unforgettable people.

BPM:  Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice? I don’t know if I’d say spiritual, but it is therapeutic. There’s a feeling I get when I’m writing that just soothes me. Whatever is going on around me or in my life, writing creates this…bubble that protects me from all the angst. Then, it rejuvenates and inspires to give me the strength to go and face the angst.

BPM:  How has writing impacted your life? It’s made my house a cluttered mess! I write everything in longhand so you can imagine the notebooks I’ve got piled. Seriously, it’s not that bad-I try not to let my ‘hobby’ put my home in too much of an uproar. To be honest, writing has ‘impacted’ my life in beautiful ways. I continually evolve as a more thoughtful person, more observant, more detail-oriented and definitely more focused!

BPM:  What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
There are so many I’s to dot and T’s to cross! I’m not just talking about inside the pages of the book either! This is especially true when the work is an indie project. Everything rests on your shoulders and you have to make sure the product is as satisfying inside as it is on the outside. I’ve learned that it goes beyond selecting the perfect cover image and font size for the title. The platforms used to create the work, proofing the work and proofing it again and again…there are so many levels of quality control. Still, the end result makes it all worth it.

I’ve learned that my characters’ personalities deeply impact the way I craft a story. There are times when I need a scene to play out in such a way and I find that I have to have another character handle that issue because the character I intend to have in that scene just won’t fit because of who I’ve created them to be. A certain way of handling things just won’t work for a particular character unless I tweak the way the scene plays out to fit them.

BPM:   Where do you see yourself as a writer in five years? Five years…Wow…lots of changes. I pray they will be wonderful ones. My best guy will be in college I hope. I’ll be a free woman with even more time to write-yaaaay!! My biggest personal goal though, is to be writing full time. I hope to make this a reality before 5 years, but definitely by then.

BPM:  How do you find or make time to write? I HAVE to write. It’s like a vitamin. I don’t feel quite right until I have it in my system. Unless I’m out for the day with my best guy, there are few places I go without having work with me. I’m usually up by 5am, and start writing after my morning workout before I head off to the day job. On the weekends, I usually sit down to write 2-3 times a day and put in 2-3 hours per session.
BPM: Are you a plotter or a pantster? I’d say both terms relate to me. I rely heavily on plotting, though I wouldn’t consider my books to be plot driven but character driven. I begin each writing project by taking a wealth of notes and gathering tons of research about the places and topics I plan to cover in any given story. I create a “What Has To Happen” document that can run anywhere from 15-20 pages in length and can contain as much as 75-100 different items I want to cover in the story. My title “A Lover’s Return” contained almost 200 notes in this document. Still, I enjoy the freedom that is associated with being a ‘pantster’. When it’s time to craft my rough draft some of this won’t make it into the story-the final decision always rests with my characters.

BPM:  How did you choose the genre you write in? I think the romance genre chose me. I have been an avid reader all my life. From the children’s classics like The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Secret Garden and more to the teen dramas like the Sweet Valley High series and the Flowers in the Attic series by VC Andrews, I was a fan of them all. Romance however was the only one that sparked my desire to write.  
BPM: Have you considered writing in another genre? I would enjoy crafting a mystery novel and have already plotted out a crime fiction title that I hope to start on later next year.

BPM:  Tell us about your most recent work? Taboo Tree is actually a very old title. I published it in 2012, but I actually wrote it several years earlier closer to 2000. The story actually woke me one night and had such an impact, I started drafting the premise right there in the dark. I still remember scribbling away on the first thing I could find to write on so I wouldn’t forget any aspect of what it would entail. The title really says it all. This is the story of two families who have squabbled for decades-they’ve squabbled and many of them have fallen in love. We come into our story at a time when it will be revealed that these characters not only share a love/hate history, they also share blood.  

BPM:  Give us some insight into your main characters or the speakers. What makes each one so special?   That’s difficult. Taboo Tree has several main characters. If you don’t like to read stories with lots of characters, this may not be the story for you. Each of the ‘main’ cast, play tremendous roles in the story and what they bring to the storyline makes the eventual outcome even more devastating. Everyone has a part to play. There are characters who are truly in love, others who despise one another and those who tolerate others for the greater good. There are some really hateful, unlikeable people in this story and some who are so wonderful, you will cry for them as they deal with the impact of certain revelations.

BPM:  What was your hardest scene to write, the opening or the close? The scenes where truths are revealed about the connection the families share. How those revelations impact the couples who are truly in love, were scenes that were really hard to get through.

BPM:  Share one specific point in your book that resonated with your present situation or journey. Thankfully, NO part of this book resonated with my present situation on journey. It was a journey however to craft this title to put myself in the necessary headspace. As I said earlier, the story has lots of characters who are all important to the situations that arise. It was difficult to put myself into the minds of those people and to put certain heinous thoughts into words-it gives a scary insight into what it takes to be that ruthless in real life.

BPM:  Is there a specific place/space/state that you find inspiration in? I can write pretty much anywhere, but being at home on a rainy day continues to be my absolute favorite time, space, place to create. A gray, rainy day with the lamps on, a mug of hot tea and the kettle simmering on the stove means Tonya is somewhere in comfy clothes writing and smiling.

BPM: Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with? Well I just adore all the characters in my Ramsey/Tesano series and I’ll probably write stories featuring them for as long as I’m able to write. My Sleeping Giants characters are becoming especially satisfying as are a few others I’ve yet to introduce to the reading public. As for recurring themes, the ‘mad scientist’ element has been drawing me in deeper and deeper. I’m having quite a bit of fun exploring that in my romantic suspense titles lately.

BPM:  Do you want each book to stand on its own or do you prefer to write series? I enjoy both. I make a conscious decision before starting a new project on whether I intend for it to be a standalone or a series. I enjoy series which allow me to plant those little seeds that I can watch spring up during the course of the books-as with the Ramsey/Tesano saga. I enjoy the standalones as well. Standalones give readers the closure they want without the fear of a cliffhanger. Now, I’m hooked on creating standalones within a series- which follow a particular theme. These are stories that a reader can pick up from anywhere in the lineup and not feel the need to read the other titles in order to enjoy the story in hand. I’m having great fun exploring this in my new Sleeping Giants interracial romantic suspense series.

BPM:  Does writing energize or exhaust you? Writing energizes me all the way! I don’t write when I’m exhausted-I never try to push past it because I don’t feel it produces my best work. If I’m not feeling energized, I recognize that I need a fresh brain. I refuel (with sleep) before going back to the drawing board.

BPM:  Do you believe in writer’s block? I believe in exhaustion. I really believe that’s what hinders so many writers and they misdiagnose it as a block. Not saying it doesn’t exist, only I think a writer should first examine their fuel gauge.

BPM:  Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? I’m not so sure anymore. I once said I’d never write about a couple having to deal with infidelity. I write romance and I don’t see how that could be crafted as romantic but I’ve been having some ideas lately that may require me to revisit the idea and we’ll see…

BPM:  Do you try to deliver to readers what they want or let the characters guide your writing? I think what readers want is a good story. I try to provide one with every project. It doesn’t work for me not to listen to my characters-getting into their heads, discovering who they are and presenting those layers to my readers is one of the great joys I get out of writing. My readers expect a dynamic plot but they also want to experience that connection to the people (the characters) who live the story.

BPM:  Is there a certain type of scene that's harder for you to write than others? Not really, but for me love scenes depend on the kind of scene it is. For instance, with an ‘almost’ love scene, I can pretty much write that anywhere-they’re fun, quick, sexy scenes in route to the rest of the plot and can be used to advance the story in an incidental way. For the ‘all the way’ love scenes, I prefer to write those at a time and place where I know I won’t be interrupted. If you’ve read my work, you know that sometimes those scenes can go on for a bit. I write from beginning to end with those and strive to make them as intense as a scene of dialogue. It’s important for writers to understand that love scenes are part of the plot as well and really begin from the first moment the characters meet in the story. They should not be written simply as sex tossed in for good measure, but have a true connection to the work.

BPM:  What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? Best money I ever spent as a writer was back in 2001 when I attended the Romance Slam Jam Literary Conference in Orlando, FL. I was a new mom, money was VERY tight and I even think I missed the registration deadline but I was living in Orlando and able to reach out to Mrs. Brenda Woodbury, who was the local contact person for the event. She worked magic to get me there. Aside from a few magazine short stories, I had nothing in the way of a major publication. Attending that event was like being admitted to another world -a fantastic one I had only dreamed about. Once I started writing, I pretty much shied away from reading romance-not wanting anyone else’s voice to intrude on my own. So…until 2001, I had no idea African American Romance existed at such a level. One reason I started writing was because I couldn’t find the books I wanted. In SC of the 1980s & 90s, I could NOT find such stories on the shelves. The BEST part about Slam Jam, were the readers-energetic, intelligent, curious women with insatiable reading appetites. They made me believe that my voice had a place and an audience in this new and dynamic world.

BPM:  Have you written any other books that are not published? Oh yeah! I’ve got two at the rough draft stage that I just haven’t pushed into final draft mode and several more that I’ve done outlines for, but haven’t had the time to move any further with.  We won’t discuss all the stuff still rattling around in my head.

BPM:  What projects are you working on at the present? Now THAT’S a loaded question! I’m working on so much-or I should say so many things are coming down the pipeline. Folks tend to get on me about my work taking so long to release, but it’s hard for me to work on more than one book at a time. I admire people who can. I enjoy giving my all to one world at a time. I’d say it works pretty well for me, there’s a lot on the horizon.

2017 will see a new Harlequin Kimani entitled “Silver Screen Romance”. Also, the second in my Sleeping Giants Series “Conquered” which follows “Intoxicated” that released in June 2016. There will be new T. Onyx erotica “Pleasure’s Possession” a spin off from the earlier “Pleasure’s Powerhouse”. “Tradition”- a  new family saga trilogy set in Charleston, SC.  I’ll wrap up the year with “Book of Scandal- The Tesano Elders”.

BPM:  What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you? I’m good with any method- FB, Twitter, Instagram. I absolutely LOVE emails from my readers, though many often drop me a line via FB Messenger when they have a quick question.  It’s a great pick-me-up when I see a message from a reader.

BPM:  How can readers discover more about you and your work?





     
 



 

Conquered (Sleeping Giants Book II) by Ally Fleming


Conquered (Sleeping Giants Book II)


Berrill ‘Bear’ Clayton is an accomplished beauty encased in steel. Her toughness isn’t an act, but it isn’t ‘all her’ either. She distances herself from love and intimacy, clinging to the Alpha Girl persona she believes enables her to forget the times she was too weak to save the people she loved. Though her looks contradict it, she’s felt incapable and…owned her entire life. It’s just her luck to fall for a guy who seems set on owning everything he sees.

For Pope Apostolou, ‘ownership’ is about putting distance between him and a time when he felt like nothing more than property. Meeting the fiercely independent Bear was a necessary soother for raw emotions stoked by the return of an old threat. Pope believes that threat now has Bear in its crosshairs. It breaks his heart to discover she’s quietly torturing herself for a horrific night 6 years earlier-one that left 10 men dead-slaughtered after a night of debauchery…and betrayal.

In order to triumph over this new threat, Pope will need to show Bear that she can trust him. Unfortunately, Bear has learned to equate trust with surrender-something she refuses to give to any man. Pope would indeed want her surrender when her heart becomes the one thing he wants to conquer.


Conquered is a standalone BWWM Suspense Thriller. For an enhanced reading experience, add “Intoxicated” to your collection. These titles contain scenes of intense violence, language and sexual situations. Intended for mature readers.


EXCERPT:

“You seem to have a knack for eavesdropping on my conversations, Mr. …” She winced and snuggled her bottom a little deeper into the chair “Apos-stow or stew? Shaun’s got such a way with pronouncing people’s names- I’m afraid I might massacre yours.”
       
“Stow-stress is on the third syllable. Apostolou,” he supplied without hesitation and waited on her to make the connection. He could all but see the coincidence hitting home and felt the tug of attraction stir same as it had when he’d first met her. The mocha hue of her gaze was so lush, he thought he could drown in it if given the chance.
       
“Apostolou,” Bear nodded during the pronunciation, noting its uniqueness. “Italian?”
       
“Greek.”
       
“Right...one of my best friends is dating a guy whose Greek- Nikolaides? Mercuri Nikolaides- know him?”
       
He moved closer then and Bear prided herself on not panting. Her disappointment weighed in over the fact that he’d bound his hair that day. The low ponytail only emphasized the patient craftsmanship of a darkly beautiful face. Still, she’d have enjoyed seeing the jaw length waves of black felt framing it.
       
She had to wonder how long a woman lasted in this man’s presence before throwing herself at him. Silently, she threatened herself with bodily harm if she so much as swayed in her chair.
       
“Shipping guy, right?” Pope was saying. “Yeah, I’ve heard of him. I always follow those who give the rest of us Greeks a good name,” he waited, watching her enchanting face closely to see if she’d find it worth her time to question him further on that point. There was an inward sigh of satisfaction for him when she appeared to decide against it. Though remaining mute on just how well he knew the esteemed Mr. Nikolaides didn’t sit well with him, Pope decided to worry later about the ethical ramifications of his decisions.
       
“So are you saying you’re a Greek without a good name?” Bear had already moved on to a new topic. She took the time to size him up while he considered her question, easing his hands into his trouser pockets as he sidled closer to her chair.
       
Christ, he was a big son of a bitch. No swooning, B, she heard the silent command languish inside her head.
       
“Well I already told you I have a hard time staying in my place. Guess that would put me in the category of Greeks who could use someone to make them look good.”
       
Gathering the folds of her gown, Bear pushed elegantly from the suede scoop chair and put it between she and the giant who had so boldly invaded her space. When he smiled, her eyes fixed on his-brilliant sea blue orbs deep set beneath long brows black as pitch. Somehow, she resisted curling her hands over the back of her chair or even fisting them at her sides. She relied on her suspicions to keep her level.
       
“I don’t buy that you came all the way out here just to become a new client, Mr. Apostolou.” Bear saw the probing intensity of his gaze give way to something lighter- Surprise? Amusement?
       
Feeling a bit more at ease then, she folded her arms at her chest and waited patiently for that stunning gaze of his to complete its survey of her breasts elevated a smidge by the move.
       
“I have lunch in a place I rarely visit-”
       
“You should,” he inserted.
       
“And you’re there.”
       
“It’s my favorite place.”
       
“And I find you eavesdropping.”
       
“It was an open space. No door.”
       
“And now here you are. Coincidence? No one drops 50K for a tour.”
       
“They do when they want it from you.” Pope saw some of the confidence eeek out of her expression and immediately regretted his response. What's more, he regretted trying to get her attention by using the business she’d had to demean herself to build.
       
“I’m not for sale,” her glare was as frosty as the brief but meaningful phrase.
       
“I promise it wasn’t my intention to imply that you are,” sincerity rang true in his expression and the canyon depths of his voice.
       
“Oh I believe you, Mr. Apostolou,” her smile was tight, knowing. “So why don’t we continue on this level of honesty and discuss who really sent you here.”

AMAZON PAGE:
https://www.amazon.com/Conquered-Sleeping-Giants-Book-2-ebook/dp/B01MRVGG0P




Intimate Conversation with AlTonya Washington

AlTonya Washington has been a romance novelist for 14 years. She’s traditionally published with Harlequin’s Kimani Romance imprint, winner of the Romance Slam Jam EMMA Award and two time winner of The Romantic Times Magazine Reviewer's Choice Award. AlTonya is a mom and works as a College Reference Librarian. In 2015, she received scholarly publication for her article An Indie Author in a Library World which appeared in “Self-Publishing and Collection Development: Opportunities and Challenges for Libraries” published by Purdue University Press. She enjoys a successful indie author career and is best known for her Ramsey/Tesano romantic suspense series.


BPM:  What made you want to become a writer? How long have you been writing? I decided to become a writer the summer after I graduated college. I attended the HBCU Winston Salem State University. I believe it was that experience that made me look at the romance novels I’d enjoyed since age 13, with a more critical eye. I still enjoyed the stories, but I craved seeing characters that looked like me.  As the great Toni Morrison says “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it”. These words have been a driving force behind so many of the stories I’ve created. I penned my first story in the summer of 1994.


BPM:  How do you think you’ve evolved creatively? I believe I’ve learned how to write the story my characters are showing me instead of the ones I want them to act out. I listen to them more which has enabled me to create some pretty unforgettable people.

BPM:  Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice? I don’t know if I’d say spiritual, but it is therapeutic. There’s a feeling I get when I’m writing that just soothes me. Whatever is going on around me or in my life, writing creates this…bubble that protects me from all the angst. Then, it rejuvenates and inspires to give me the strength to go and face the angst.

BPM:  How has writing impacted your life? It’s made my house a cluttered mess! I write everything in longhand so you can imagine the notebooks I’ve got piled. Seriously, it’s not that bad-I try not to let my ‘hobby’ put my home in too much of an uproar. To be honest, writing has ‘impacted’ my life in beautiful ways. I continually evolve as a more thoughtful person, more observant, more detail-oriented and definitely more focused.

BPM:  What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books? I’ve learned that my characters’ personalities deeply impact the way I craft a story. There are times when I need a scene to play out in such a way and I find that I have to have another character handle that issue because the character I intend to have in that scene just won’t fit because of who I’ve created them to be. A certain way of handling things just won’t work for a particular character unless I tweak the way the scene plays out to fit them.

BPM:   Where do you see yourself as a writer in five years? Five years…Wow…lots of changes. I pray they will be wonderful ones. My best guy will be in college I hope. I’ll be a free woman with even more time to write-yaaaay!! My biggest personal goal though, is to be writing full time. I hope to make this a reality before 5 years, but definitely by then.

BPM:  How do you find or make time to write? I HAVE to write. It’s like a vitamin. I don’t feel quite right until I have it in my system. Unless I’m out for the day with my best guy, there are few places I go without having work with me. I’m usually up by 5am, and start writing after my morning workout before I head off to the day job. On the weekends, I usually sit down to write 2-3 times a day and put in 2-3 hours per session.

BPM:  Are you a plotter or a pantster? I’d say both terms relate to me. I rely heavily on plotting, though I wouldn’t consider my books to be plot driven but character driven. I begin each writing project by taking a wealth of notes and gathering tons of research about the places and topics I plan to cover in any given story. I create a “What Has To Happen” document that can run anywhere from 15-20 pages in length and can contain as much as 75-100 different items I want to cover in the story. My title “A Lover’s Return” contained almost 200 notes in this document. Still, I enjoy the freedom that is associated with being a ‘pantster’. When it’s time to craft my rough draft some of this won’t make it into the story-the final decision always rests with my characters.

BPM:  How did you choose the genre you write in? I think the romance genre chose me. I have been an avid reader all my life. From the children’s classics like The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Secret Garden and more to the teen dramas like the Sweet Valley High series and the Flowers in the Attic series by VC Andrews, I was a fan of them all. Romance however was the only one that sparked my desire to write.   
BPM:  Have you considered writing in another genre? I would enjoy crafting a mystery novel and have already plotted out a crime fiction title that I hope to start on later next year.

BPM:  Tell us about your most recent work? Conquered is the second in my Sleeping Giants Series and follows Intoxicated that released in June 2016. Conquered features our hero Pope Apostolou and heroine Berrill ‘Bear’ Clayton. The title is written as a standalone, that offers another point of view and new revelations that stem from a multiple murder that occurred 6 years earlier in a Las Vegas hotel. Bear and her friends were responsible for those deaths...or so they believe. New insights about that night are about to be uncovered. In addition to those revelations, we have Pope unable to forget his brief encounter with Bear a few weeks earlier. She has no idea who he is, but he is well aware of the role she and her friends played in the situation at the hotel. Of course, Bear’s intrigued by Pope, but hesitant. Relationships have never been her strong suit-in her mind she’s not the type of woman that men fall in love with. Pope will prove how wrong she is.

BPM:  Give us some insight into your main characters or the speakers. What makes each one so special? My main characters Pope Apostolou and Bear Clayton are very much alike and it's those similarities that cause them to have so many differences of opinion in this story. Both are strong-willed and outspoken. For Pope, he’s used to being the level head of the group-advising his friends when they need it-telling them when they are on the right track and when they aren’t. His friends have playfully labeled him a know-it-all and Pope is fine with that since they accept his ways without argument. Not so with Bear. She’s as strong-willed and outspoken as Pope.

Although Bear is tough, much of that toughness is an act, a defense mechanism that she wears to distance herself from a time in her past when she felt she was incapable of protecting those she loved. In the years since that situation occurred others have cropped up in her life that have left her feeling just as helpless. She’s triumphed over them by adopting a tough-girl mentality that actually works for her. Only her girlfriends know much of it is for show. Then, Bear meets Pope and realizes that he can see past it too.

BPM:  What was your hardest scene to write, the opening or the close? Conquered has 3 parts-the middle portion of the book was the hardest for me. I can’t say why without venturing into spoiler territory. Just know that I felt like I was suffering a little right along with my characters during this portion of the story.

BPM:  Share one specific point in your book that resonated with your present situation or journey. I think there’s a time where we each face situations where we look back and wish we’d handled things differently. Our heroine Bear Clayton faces this often and that was definitely an aspect of the story that greatly resonated with me.

BPM:  Is there a specific place/space/state that you find inspiration in? I can write pretty much anywhere, but being at home on a rainy day continues to be my absolute favorite time, space, place to create. A gray, rainy day with the lamps on, a mug of hot tea and the kettle simmering on the stove means Tonya is somewhere in comfy clothes writing and smiling.

BPM: Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with? Well I just adore all the characters in my Ramsey/Tesano series and I’ll probably write stories featuring them for as long as I’m able to write. My Sleeping Giants characters are becoming especially satisfying as are a few others I’ve yet to introduce to the reading public. As for recurring themes, the ‘mad scientist’ element has been drawing me in deeper and deeper. I’m having quite a bit of fun exploring that in my romantic suspense titles lately.


BPM:  Do you want each book to stand on its own or do you prefer to write series? I enjoy both. I make a conscious decision before starting a new project on whether I intend for it to be a standalone or a series. I enjoy series which allow me to plant those little seeds that I can watch spring up during the course of the books-as with the Ramsey/Tesano saga.

I enjoy the standalones as well. Standalones give readers the closure they want without the fear of a cliffhanger. Now, I’m hooked on creating standalones within a series- which follow a particular theme. These are stories that a reader can pick up from anywhere in the lineup and not feel the need to read the other titles in order to enjoy the story in hand. I’m having great fun exploring this in the Sleeping Giants series. Conquered resulted in work I’m very proud of.

BPM:  Does writing energize or exhaust you? Writing energizes me all the way! I don’t write when I’m exhausted-I never try to push past it because I don’t feel it produces my best work. If I’m not feeling energized, I recognize that I need a fresh brain. I refuel (with sleep) before going back to the drawing board.

BPM:  Do you believe in writer’s block? I believe in exhaustion. I really believe that’s what hinders so many writers and they misdiagnose it as a block. Not saying it doesn’t exist, only I think a writer should first examine their fuel gauge.

BPM:  Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? I’m not so sure anymore. I once said I’d never write about a couple having to deal with infidelity. I write romance and I don’t see how that could be crafted as romantic but I’ve been having some ideas lately that may require me to revisit the idea and we’ll see…


BPM:  Do you try to deliver to readers what they want or let the characters guide your writing? I think what readers want is a good story. I try to provide one with every project. It doesn’t work for me not to listen to my characters-getting into their heads, discovering who they are and presenting those layers to my readers is one of the great joys I get out of writing. My readers expect a dynamic plot but they also want to experience that connection to the people (the characters) who live the story.

BPM:  Is there a certain type of scene that's harder for you to write than others? Not really, but for me love scenes depend on the kind of scene it is. For instance, with an ‘almost’ love scene, I can pretty much write that anywhere-they’re fun, quick, sexy scenes in route to the rest of the plot and can be used to advance the story in an incidental way. For the ‘all the way’ love scenes, I prefer to write those at a time and place where I know I won’t be interrupted. If you’ve read my work, you know that sometimes those scenes can go on for a bit. I write from beginning to end with those and strive to make them as intense as a scene of dialogue.

It’s important for writers to understand that love scenes are part of the plot as well and really begin from the first moment the characters meet in the story. They should not be written simply as sex tossed in for good measure, but have a true connection to the work.

BPM:  What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? Best money I ever spent as a writer was back in 2001 when I attended the Romance Slam Jam Literary Conference in Orlando, FL. I was a new mom, money was VERY tight and I even think I missed the registration deadline but I was living in Orlando and able to reach out to Mrs. Brenda Woodbury, who was the local contact person for the event. She worked magic to get me there. Aside from a few magazine short stories, I had nothing in the way of a major publication. Attending that event was like being admitted to another world -a fantastic one I had only dreamed about.

Once I started writing, I pretty much shied away from reading romance-not wanting anyone else’s voice to intrude on my own. So…until 2001, I had no idea African American Romance existed at such a level. One reason I started writing was because I couldn’t find the books I wanted. In SC of the 1980s & 90s, I could NOT find such stories on the shelves. The BEST part about Slam Jam, were the readers-energetic, intelligent, curious women with insatiable reading appetites. They made me believe that my voice had a place and an audience in this new and dynamic world.

BPM:  Have you written any other books that are not published? Oh yeah! I’ve got two at the rough draft stage that I just haven’t pushed into final draft mode and several more that I’ve done outlines for, but haven’t had the time to move any further with.  We won’t discuss all the stuff still rattling around in my head.

BPM:  What projects are you working on at the present? Now THAT’S a loaded question! I’m working on so much-or I should say so many things are coming down the pipeline. Folks tend to get on me about my work taking so long to release, but it’s hard for me to work on more than one book at a time. I admire people who can. I enjoy giving my all to one world at a time. I’d say it works pretty well for me, there’s a lot on the horizon. 2017 will see a new Harlequin Kimani entitled “Silver Screen Romance”. There will be new T. Onyx erotica “Pleasure’s Possession” a spin off from the earlier “Pleasure’s Powerhouse”. “Tradition”- a  new family saga trilogy set in Charleston, SC.  I’ll wrap up the year with “Book of Scandal- The Tesano Elders”.

BPM:  What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you? I’m good with any method- FB, Twitter, Instagram. I absolutely LOVE emails from my readers, though many often drop me a line via FB Messenger when they have a quick question.  It’s a great pick-me-up when I see a message from a reader.

BPM:  How can readers discover more about you and your work?

     
 



 

The Journey of Ruthie Belle by Imani Wisdom


The Journey of Ruthie Belle 
by Imani Wisdom

The Journey of Ruthie Belle
Contemporary Women's Fiction

The meek, Ruthie Belle dreams of one day being free from her husband's constant mental and physical torment, until one day she finds the courage to break free from his bondage. Even though the plan goes without a hitch, Ruthie spends the rest of her life riddled in guilt and shame. Later at the ripe age of 103, Ruthie discovers forgiveness and redemption are a part of everyday journeys.

During her pilgrimage, she meets people from her past and makes new and important friends to help her heal and to find understanding. Yet the further into her journey, the darker it gets. Ruthie discovers things aren't the way it seems when her shame comes back for his revenge - her husband. 

Will new revelations keep her from her pursuit to redemption? Or will the haunting of her past stop her cold in her tracks?


YouTube Book Trailer 

Excerpt (Chapter Three)

It was June 1, 1927, and I was babysittin' my five-year-old granddaughter, Georgia, while her parents attended a church meetin'. I was braidin' her hair at the kitchen table when I got a knock on the door that changed my life. When I opened it, I found a note sittin' on my porch, written as if someone tried to write it in the dark.

Miss Ruthie, I hate to do this, but I can't tell you this in person. Jacob and his buddies will have me killed if they saw me talking to you. Please meet me far back in the woods behind your barn. Please hurry!
Mary Beth

Although I couldn't make out what the note said, I understood bits and pieces of it: Jacob and his buddies and meetin' her in the woods. I remember askin' Mattie Jean, twenty-one at the time, to watch Georgia Raye.

I hurried through the woods, recallin' ev'ry word Gladys's childhood friend wrote. Walkin' through that area was sometimes frightenin'. There were wild dogs and mean white folks that wouldn't hesitate to hang a Colored person. I knocked down any hangin' branches or ignored little rustlin' sounds behind bushes. All I wanted to know was what was goin' on with Mary Beth. But what made me burst through the woods was a feelin' I had in the pit of my stomach. I knew somethin' was wrong, terribly wrong!

I saw a petite, white woman surrounded by a bunch of huge trees. Mary Beth was holdin' a shiny object close to her chest, and her eyes were blood shot red, as though she had been cryin' non-stop.

"Miss Ruthie," she sobbed. "I am so sorry."

Although words were floatin' from her mouth, I was fixated on that shiny object. It was the locket I'd givin' to Gladys as a weddin' present.

"Where did you get this from?" I yanked it from Mary Beth's hand, further inspectin' it to see if it was really Gladys's, and it was. "This is Gladys's locket. Where is she?"

With the moonlight sparklin' on her rich black hair, Mary Beth kept cryin'. Her body language was enough to tell me somethin' had happened to my daughter. She sobbed, as she stood stiff with her hands clasped together in front of her pelvis.

"Oh, Miss Ruthie, I am so-"

"Child, stop apologizin' and tell me where's Gladys!" I shouted.

She raised her head as though she was tryin' to look at the moonlight, but her eyes looked into a particular direction. I followed her blue eyes and saw a sight that ripped my heart out. My legs buckled from the shock. All I saw was a man's dress shoes suspended in the air. I looked up to see a shirtless and bloody man that was bounded and hanged. Ev'rytime I grabbed at his shoes to see his face, his body gently swung from one direction to another. I wrapped my arms around his ankle and glared straight up at the rope. It was Pastor George.

"OH SWEET JESUS! WHO DID THIS TO YOU?" I screamed.

I was heartbroken. A good man bein' hanged like this was disgustin'. What could a man of God do to deserve this? What? Then my daughter rushed into my mind. Gladys, I thought. I gave a stiff and angry expression to Mary Beth, took her by the shoulders and shook her, tryin' to shake the truth out of her.

"Where's Gladys!" I yelled.

"There!" she cried, pointin' to a freshly packed mound of dirt. Still holdin' her shoulders, I took a moment to stare at the earthly grains, tryin' not to believe Gladys was there. I finally let go of Mary Beth to come close to the pile of dirt.

"Lawd, no," I mumbled, tryin' to keep it together. But, my heart dropped to my feet when I saw a lifeless hand stickin' out from the dirt. "GLADYS!" I cried.

I hysterically unburied my daughter from the cold, pile of dirt. Then with all of my might, I pulled her to my breast, where I used to nourish her. I was beyond speechless, but angry! My daughter was covered with bullet wounds on her chest and one on her face. I could barely recognize my baby. That bullet took off half her face. I hugged my daughter's motionless body, hopin' she could still feel my love. After that, I thought of Mary Beth. I glanced at her while she still looked pitiful.

"Did Jacob do this?" I wept.

"Miss Ruthie, I..." she sobbed.

"Child, don't Miss Ruthie me, did your husband and his heathen friends do this?"

Mary Beth looked away from me to answer, "Yes, ma'am."

Oh dear Lord, I thought, my daughter's best friend's husband, brutally killed my daughter and her husband. And for what?

Back in the 1920s, there was no justice for white folks killin' a Colored. To them, that was one less nigger to worry about. But why my child? Gladys wouldn't hurt anybody. She even got along with ev'ry white folk in town. So I didn't understand this, not at all!

As tears streamed down my face, Mary Beth's tiny voice said, "Miss Ruthie, I'm really sorry. I loved Gladys, she was my-"

"Please go!" I said calmly, as I rocked and held my dead baby girl to my chest. "Leave me and my family be. I love you like a daughter, Miss Mary Beth, but you have to keep your distance from now on. Now go!"

Book Reviews
"This was an outstanding read. My emotions were all in. I was angry and sad at the treatment of this woman, a mother and wife. This story had me from the first page as it started out on high octane. I enjoyed the story how it took a twist to the after life. I felt the fear and pain and then the joy in the end. The story and how it was written reminded me of The Shack. Outstanding. Looking forward to reading more by Imani, her writing is clear and detailed."
--Lynette Shelton


"Journey - an act of traveling from one place to another. That is exactly what Imani Wisdom takes you on in the book " The Journey of Ruthie Belle." From the first page to the last you are captivated by the one decision Ruthie makes that changes her life and takes you on her journey a somewhat spiritual journey. Of course, we all have a storied past; memories that we most certainly wish we could forget however In order for Ruthie to move forward, she must revisit those memories." --Amazon Customer


"A new favorite of mine. The journey of Ruthie Belle will take you on a personal journey as well. I laughed, I cried, and I prayed. A Journey of Redemption. This book will not disappoint."
--Shirley Graham


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This Too Shall Pass: Poetry by Patricia A. Saunders


This Too Shall Pass: Poetry
by Patricia A. Saunders
This book of poetry spans the journey of life, death, grief, love, and weathering all storms. When life has thrown you curveballs and you think that it's over, no one is there for you, or no one can love you, it is in those moments when you have to hang on. There is hope, there is love, and there is a second chance. You just have to believe that this too shall pass! 

Purchase This Too Shall Pass, Poetry by Patricia A. Saunders   

POEM:  I Melt
When I see your eyes
I fall in love all over again
Never thought I would feel like this
Though I carried you
Saw you grow within me
Seeing you lie on my chest
I Melt
 
When you open your eyes
Looking at me as you nurse from my breast
I smile because I love you
You are my legacy
You are my world
I Melt
 
The blessing of the birth of a child
Some take for granted
Some don't want to go through it
I look at you and I can't imagine
Your tiny fingers touch mine
And I ...
I Melt




A 5-Year Sentence
You had the cancer scare
You had it cut out
You had treatments
You learned how to breathe again

You were exercising
Being healthy is what you always were
Doctor said you have a 10% chance it can come back
5 years is what they told you
Let's count together 1-2-3
So as your friends were dying off
From different types of cancer
Your mortality was in question
You started saying you lived a good life
You needed to finish everything you put on your bucket list
You were scaring your spouse
Where was your faith?
A tear ran down your cheek
You said, "I have 5 years!"

( Continued... )
© 2016 All rights reserved.  Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Patricia A. Saunders.  Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author's written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.
Intimate Conversation with Patricia A. Saunders 

Self-published award winning author, Patricia A. Saunders was born and raised in Connecticut before relocating to the San Francisco Bay Area nearly 20 years ago. She received her Master's in Management from the University of Phoenix in 2011. After the passing of her mother who had Alzheimer's, Patricia decided that all the words that she kept to herself were to be released.

In March of 2016 she released her fourth book This Too Shall Pass, this book of poetry touches on the subject of suicide, death, love and faith. Her work has been featured on In the Company of Poet, Women Owned Business Club Magazine, and Coach Deb Bailey Secret of Success Talk Radio. She performs locally at spoken word events and Capital Jazz SuperCruise Open Mic with Grammy Award Winner Eric Roberson. Saunders is a monthly blogger to Blessed & Curvy http://blessedpoetpat.blogspot.com

Ms. Saunders recently was one contributing writer of 300 women across the world for Sister with Ink Voices (Hill-Dudley, 2013) She works as a supervisor for a corporate financial organization. In her spare time, Patricia enjoys writing poetry, traveling, spending time with family and wine tasting.

Her books are available at your local book retailers and at www.patriciaasaunders.com, www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com 

BPM: Could you tell us something about your most recent work? 
The book was written after going through the storms and realizing I made it. I had to appreciate everything that I went through to see the blessing. Is this book available on Nook and Kindle? It is available on both.

BPM: Give us some insight into your main characters or speakers. 
The book is of poetry that covers my personal experience, anything that impacted me such as our young black men being slain and other people stories shared. What makes each one so special? As a reader you can relate to the experiences because it touches the heart, spirit, and makes you reflect

BPM: What inspired you to sit down and actually start writing this book? 
My mother was an ordained minister who had Alzheimer's and seeing her decline quickly made me what to have a legacy to leave behind. My words. Why now? If I inherit the disease I want to get all the words out now before I can't

BPM: What did you enjoy most about writing this book? 
Remembering experiences of my youth when both parents were living.

BPM: Where do your book ideas come from? 
It comes from life. If I am happy, sad, grieving, and seeing something in the news I have to express it. 

BPM: Are there under-represented groups or ideas featured in your book? 
I touch on a subject that people don't want to discuss. Suicide. If so, discuss them. I was seeing in the media people who you thought had it all committing suicide, I knew for myself after my mother passed I felt that my world was turned upside down and I was losing everything. I wanted to get in the ground and go with her.

BPM: How does your book relate to your present situation or journey? 
I was self-employed, making six figured, living in a gated community. I was a happy. The rug got pulled from under my feet and I was lost. On the brink of being homeless and offered to stay at a shelter. It drew me closer to my faith, I was blessed with people in my life to pour into me positive mantras, and I started my second chance. I went back to school and received my Master's degree. There are people out there who can relate to my journey.

BPM: Did you learn anything personal from writing your book? 
I learned that I am stronger than I thought. That there may be dark days but the sun is going to shine.

BPM: Can you share some stories about people you met while researching this book? 
There are my Saturday morning hair salon divas who share stories with me about love, how to deal with challenges, and more. My friends share with me about being single, over 50 and the struggles we go through.

BPM: What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them? 
I feel this book is a testament for those who are going through any of life's challenges to know you can come through. I wanted to pay homage to three women who sent me separate notes all saying This Too Shall Pass! I have been good reviews from those reading it. I feel if I touch one person than my vision has met its goal.

BPM: What projects are you working on at the present? 
I have written a book a year except in 2014 but that's because I was writing two books at once. Now for 2017 the next book I have writing about love so for those on the journey with me maybe it's knocking at the door!

BPM: How can readers discover more about you and your work? 
www.patriciaasaunders.com
www.facebook.com/blessedpoetpat
www.instagram.com/blessedpoetpat
www.pinterest.com/blessedpoetpat
www.twitter.com/blessedpoetpat
http://blessedpoetpat.blogspot.com 



     
 


 

STATIONS: Changing Your Life Changing Your Career by Lynda Mubarak


STATIONS: Changing Your Life 
Changing Your Career  
 by Lynda Mubarak
Is your child a first generation college student? Are you a first generation college student? If you are a school counselor, Student Affairs Coordinator, Upward Bound student, high school student, parents of elementary students, teens, young adults, or a newly hired worker, STATIONS is the quick resource guide that offers suggestions and time-proven recommendations to parents and professionals as they interact with children and young adult workers in a 21st century environment. 

STATIONS is a collection of essays that provides food for thought as we make our way through the different situations, events, stages, circumstances and parental decisions that will ultimately affect personal lifestyles and career options. STATIONS examines childhood academic and social skills, and addresses the challenging task of teaching children to be healthy and financially sound while preparing them to thrive and survive in a global workforce driven by cutting edge technology and ongoing competition. 

STATIONS is concise, amusing, informative and frank in its discussion of life's everyday circumstances, including social media and proactive workplace practices that affect all of us from childhood through adulthood.

Life Has an Assignment for You... Do You Know What It Is?

To live a vibrant and successful life, you must embrace two truths: everyone's life path is about change, and each phase of life offers opportunities that we often overlook. No matter where you find yourself in life, you have unexplored talent, un-imagined resources, and the ability to make the most of the station you are occupying at the moment, while still looking down the road to your next assignment.
   

Chapter 13 Excerpt
The Plastic Dollar


This may be hard to believe, but at one time in this country, there were no credit cards, debit cards, electronic checks, online shopping or any other types of paperless financial transactions. Money actually moved from one pair of hands to another, a receipt was written (if paper was available and someone could write), a handshake was exchanged and the deal was sealed.
Well, the honeymoon is over! Somewhere along the banking highway of installment plans and lines of credit things got way out of hand. Now, checks are bouncing, credit scores are crazy, and we're all wondering how we arrived at this strange, penny pinching destination. And to make matters worse our children seem to manage, or mismanage money and all that goes with it in the same way.
Living in a digital society means that many of our financial transactions are electronic, invisible, and are done quickly with the swipe of a plastic card including phone calls, debit, and credit or gift cards. As a result, our children do not see large amounts of money changing hands very often. It's no wonder that money seems magical and everlasting to them.
While we smiled our way through images of Hollywood lifestyles, fast food, overpaid athletes, overpriced coffee houses, attitudes of entitlement and weight loss commercials, we forgot to teach our children the fundamentals of money management. Not only did we neglect teaching them the basics of financial stability, we also overlooked the importance of instilling the responsibilities involved with day to day living.
Do your children believe that money grows on trees? Do you ever wonder why? Maybe we need to teach our children financial responsibility early so that their lives won't fall apart later. It's not too late to implement a few money basics and the best time to start is now.
Show and Tell 
When children learn early that a home operates like a small business, they will be better prepared to deal with the biggest challenge faced by all businesses or homes - daily operating expenses. Begin your money discussion by telling your child that nothing, absolutely nothing is free and use the material things in your home to demonstrate your point. Next, select a room in your home or begin with his or her bedroom. Finally, sit down with your child while both of you calculate the total cost of the room. If you have a teenager this will be quite interesting.
Your calculated items should include furniture, curtains, carpet, clothing, TV, computer, stereo, linen, shoes (and sneakers), cosmetics, yearbooks, iPod, iPad (all versions you have purchased), cell phone updates, high end headphones, sports gear, and the leftover French fries in the McDonald's bag under the bed.
Finally, after you have recovered from the shock, calculate how many work hours or paydays it took to cover the cost of the room. Discuss the expenses truthfully and completely, including the heating and cooling costs. If it doesn't impress him or her, I'm sure it will take your breath away and increase your heart rate when you realize just how much you have invested in one room.
Fixed and Flexible 
It's never too late for high school seniors or too soon for elementary aged children to learn the basics of fixed and flexible expenses and it's best to use familiar physical examples to illustrate your straight talk. Emphasize that fixed expenses such as rent, car payments, or student loans are specific amounts that occur at same time, weekly or monthly, and must be paid on time to avoid penalties. In the same manner, stress that flexible expenses are those things that occur infrequently, never cost the same, and include items like a doctor's visit, car repairs, or a new prescription for granny's meds. Other flexible expenses are those we want, but can live without such as summer vacations, eating out frequently, concert tickets, and CDs. And yes, it's a horrible thought, but it's also good for them to learn that life goes on without satellite or cable TV.
Whatever happened to pay yourself first? 
There is nothing more precious to a child of any age than a personal container in the bedroom or some other secret place quietly holding their hard earned savings. When a child saves money he or she learns patience, persistence, and delayed gratification. While it may be perceived as an old school practice, saving for a rainy day also teaches your child to prepare for future emergencies and set long term goals. In short, saving money has its own rewards and instills a sense of power. 
Try to teach a money lesson each week if possible. In addition, remind your children that labor experts are already telling us to be prepared to work until or past age 70 if personal savings are not in place and to guarantee the best return on social security.
So, help your child find a jar, box, or can. Give it a name, decorate it and watch your child slowly fill it with pride. Isn't life grand as you watch your child count coins and know there are no annual percentage rates, finance charges, pin numbers, passwords, grace periods, late fees, or text alerts from the bank staring you in the face?

In the end it does not matter if your child saves 10 cents or $10.00. It's the lessons learned and the effort that really counts. It's priceless!


Purchase STATIONS: Changing Your Life - Changing Your Career by Lynda Mubarak
Parenting, Elementary & High School Student Success, College & Workplace Readiness
https://www.amazon.com/STATIONS-Changing-Your-Life-Career/dp/1478766670   



 
Intimate Conversation with Dr. Lynda Mubarak

Dr. Lynda Mubarak is a native Texan, Army veteran, and grew up in Waco and Ft. Worth. She is a retired teacher and special education facilitator with 37 years of experience in special needs instruction, ESL education at Tarrant County College, and developmental writing at Strayer University. 

Lynda is a graduate of P.L. Dunbar High School, Ft. Worth, TX. She earned her BS in Elementary/Special Education from Texas Christian University, M.Ed. from Texas Wesleyan University, and Ed.D in Higher Education from Nova SE University. 

Dr. Mubarak is an active volunteer with several Ft. Worth organizations. She loves crossword puzzle competitions, live theater and contemporary music history. Her favorite hobby is traveling with her husband, Kairi, and Ebony, their rescue dog.


BPM: Could you tell us something about your most recent work?

STATIONS is my debut novel. It is available on Kindle and also published in paperback at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The book is composed of essays I have written over the years. Each essay covers a phase, decision, transition, pathway, or challenge that ordinary people experience during the course of a lifetime as children and later as adults.

BPM: What inspired you to sit down and actually start writing this book?  
I have always wanted to write a book, but only discussed it briefly (and quietly) with a few friends over the years. I assumed that my thoughts and ideas had been written and discussed many times over and there was no need to 'repeat' what others had done. I began to write down my observations and thoughts several years ago and decided to publish them after a chance meeting with a former colleague in a restaurant. She and I were teachers at the same middle school over twenty years ago. During those years, she told me weekly about her desire to write a children's book. When I asked if she had accomplished her dream, she explained that she had published four books and that I should move forward and contact a publisher. I did, and the rest is history!

BPM: Where do you book ideas come from? 
STATIONS: Changing Your Life - Changing Your Career relates to the various circumstances that families face when raising children from early social skills and financial responsibility to proactive soft skills and behaviors required of students, new workers or tenured employees.


BPM: Are there any under-represented groups or ideas featured in your book? 

Yes. STATIONS addresses many issues and concerns for young parents, first generation college students, adults in job transition, and ex-offenders in re-entry programs. Some persons have not been exposed to the nuances of a college campus, support group interaction, workplace protocol, or even networking practices. STATIONS attempts to cover these areas in a simple, but practical manner.

BPM: How does your book related to your present situation, spiritual practice or journey?
I think my book is a condensed version of the positive and negative experiences of my life and the lives of persons I have encountered over the years. The topics I selected were the ones that had the most profound effect on me as a child, parent, educator, college adjunct, observer, confidant, advisor, and caretaker of aging parents. 

BPM: Did you learn anything personal from writing your book?
The personal lesson I learned from writing this book is acknowledging that we often have things (gifts) in us that we do not investigate, promote, develop, or expand. Many times the hesitation stems from fear and doubt. My husband had been trying to persuade me to publish for over 20 years. I simply had one excuse after another to delay my dream of writing a book. After my parents died, and I talked with my former teacher/colleague, I realized that I had run out of excuses. Finally, I learned that often when it is time to act, we create reasons or hurdles to slow down or hinder the decision to move forward. My excuse had been my parents' declining health.


BPM: What were your goals and intentions in writing this book and how well do you feel you achieved them?

My goals and intentions of this book were to encourage and inspire others to move forward while making better decisions, utilizing time wisely, and identifying those skills and competencies necessary for living a life filled with achievement and personal success. Most important, teach all children the concepts and behaviors required to survive in a fast moving world that becomes more competitive each day. In the end, they will be working on jobs that were not created during your lifetime. I think I wrote in a way that was thought provoking and parent friendly!

BPM: What projects are you working on at the present?
I am currently working on a book about my childhood memories of living in segregated Waco, TX during the 1950s. The name of the book is "Carver Park". Carver Park is an African-American community area east of the Brazos River and downtown Waco that was designed years ago by public officials for people of color.

Readers can find out more about my work at:   www.lyndamubarak.com  
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100011551415498    
 
 
 

     
 


 

Shattered Innocence (Shattered Innocence Trilogy - Volume 1)


Shattered Innocence Trilogy 
by Denise Coleman
https://www.smore.com/sdqhf 

The Shattered Innocence Trilogy chronicles the lives of the Kyle family. The twins, Angel and Teek, and their cousins Troi and Keisha. They are four vibrant, bright, talented and dynamic young women with a wonderful future in the music industry ahead of them. However, their lives take a dramatic turn when they are forced to defend themselves against a group of bullies, which subsequently leads to the Kyles being sent away from their home.
   
Moving to a strange city with family they barely know, begins to alter the girls' characters and personalities.  The absence of stability, familiarity and support manifests itself in the worse way.
   
Throughout the series, the Kyles face lies, secrets and betrayal which threatens to destroy the close-knit family bond they once shared.
   
Trying to maintain that bond while attempting to recapture their personal happiness and desires for their adult lives, proves to be more difficult than any one of them could imagine. 


Shattered Innocence Trilogy by Denise Coleman 
Genre: Contemporary Women's Fiction
* Shattered Innocence (Shattered Innocence Trilogy Volume 1)  
* Shattered Innocence 2: The Drama Continues (Shattered Innocence Trilogy) 
* Shattered Innocence 3: Keisha's Betrayal (Shattered Innocence Trilogy) 

Purchase Denise Coleman Books 
   


 Shattered Innocence (Shattered Innocence Trilogy - Volume 1)



Teek and Angel Kyle and their cousins, Troi and Keisha are beautiful and talented girls on the verge of living exciting lives. However, they find out early in life that the beauty and talent they possess is more of a curse than a blessing.

Faced with being harassed and bullied by a group of haters, the girls defend themselves viciously and are forced to leave their home and family. They find themselves living in a strange city with family they barely know.

They each try to make the best of the situation amid homesickness, uncertainty and a secret one cousin feels she needs to keep to herself. Just when each believes she will finally live a life that will make her happy, everything changes.

Having not had the proper guidance, each girl is ill equipped to deal with the broken hearts, stalkers and unforeseen nemesis that enter their lives.

In the midst of the chaos and turmoil of their young adulthood, each tries desperately to find out who they are and who they're meant to be before they lose everything.


Excerpt: Shattered Innocence Trilogy - Volume 1
The first half of the school year went by pretty quickly for the girls. Keisha spent every waking moment preparing herself for basketball tryouts. She ate, slept and breathed basketball. Without it she didn't exist. Without being a basketball player, there was not one other thing she knew about her own self to be true.

Troi spent her time doing cheerleading activities and trying to convince Angel, who focused on her studies, to join. Eventually Angel gave in and tried out for the squad. Teek on the other hand, didn't seem to be interested in anything at all, in or outside of school. She just went through the motions, trying to rush the time.

Jackie and her cohorts seemed to pull back after that first incident. They reduced their drama to minor bumping in the halls, name calling and eye rolling whenever they ran into one or more of the cousins.

This all changed during home coming week however. Although the girls weren't allowed to run for home coming queen or her court, they were allowed to take part in the talent show.

The aunties had the girls rehearsing for weeks for the show. That was their thing! As their Aunt Hillie would say, "These girls can blow!" As much as the girls didn't like working as hard as their mothers made them, they did enjoy performing, and they each knew how happy it made their parents to see them shine.

The night of the talent show, the school's auditorium was packed. The girls had to sit through an hour of other kids singing, dancing, reciting poetry and playing violins and such, before it would be their turn.

They used their grand parents' sir name - Marchon- as their stage name. When announced, they stepped out onto the stage ready to tear the house down. The girls looked like seasoned professionals. Their Aunt Hillie had designed their dresses; Two gold and two silver sequined halters which stopped at mid-thigh.

The dresses were paired with matching stilettos and they wore their hair flowing straight down their backs. The look was completed with faux diamond jewelry and their makeup, while subtle, enhanced the cousin's young beauty.

The DJ cued the music and when the first cords of Teena Marie's Square Biz filled the auditorium, the cousins broke out singing and dancing like stars. Angel sang the lead and together with her family, they sang the hell out of that song. By the time they'd gotten to the rap portion of the song, the crowd was going wild. When they were done, the audience erupted in thunderous applause. Hands down, the girls were the best in the bunch. They received the only standing ovation of the evening.

While the cousins were winning over the crowd, Jackie and her cronies were sitting in the front row, shooting daggers with their eyes. The girls had no idea that the next few months would completely change the course of their futures.


( Continued... ) 

© 2016  All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Denise Coleman.  Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author's written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only. 

Purchase Denise Coleman Books 



  
 

Shattered Innocence 3: Keisha's Betrayal by Denise Coleman 

Shattered Innocence is the saga of the Kyle family. Four strong, talented, beautiful women who face betrayal, secrets, destruction and murder. Happiness is always elusive for them, yet they continue to push through with the desire to finally find peace, love and joy, no matter how painful the journey.
Purchase Denise Coleman Books
Intimate Conversation with Denise Coleman 

Denise Coleman was born and raised in Camden, NJ where she still resides. As an avid reader, her love of the written word has grown into a passionate desire to share her stories with the world.

Although she has penned four novels to date,  continues to work tirelessly at her craft, as she wants to grow as much as possible into a better writer and story teller with each work she creates.

As a former student of Woodrow Wilson High School, and the parent of four, it is her hope that the young people of Camden believe enough in themselves to dream big... And, in doing so, go after the best that this life has to offer.

Her first novel, Drama with A Capital D, is doing very well. Also, her most recent release, Keisha's Betrayal, is the finale of her Shattered Innocence trilogy. She looks forward to putting out many more books in the near future.


BPM:  Give us some insight into your main characters or speakers. What makes each one so special?
The main characters, twins Angel and Teek Kyle, and their cousins Troi and Keisha, who early in the series are forced to eave home to live wit relatives they hardly know. Each girl has her own distinct personality. We have Angel, who is the nurturing leader of the group. Teek is the perpetually confused, yet supportive twin. Then there's Troi, who is sneaky, selfish and almost always up to no good. Keisha, the baby of the group, is unsure of herself, and oftentimes, finds herself trying to figure out where she fits in.

BPM:  Is there a specific place/space/state that you find inspiration in?
I actually find my inspiration in people. A look, a conversation, a mood, a feeling. other human beings seem to spark something in me at any given moment.

BPM:  Tell us a little about your creative process. What brought about the title "Shattered Innocence"?
My creative process is always fa more difficult for me tan I intend. Whenever I have an idea, I start with an outline. However, every story I've ever written develops organically. I allow the characters to take over. The title Shattered Innocence literally comes from the circumstantial effects of the main characters' displacement.

BPM:  Where do your book ideas come from? Are your books plot-drive or character-driven?
The idea from this particular series came from witnessing some of the issues our young clients have at my place of business. I work in child protection services. Although I am more interested in the plot, I do allow the character's personality to take over. They seem to always drive the story forward.

BPM:  Is writing easy for you? Do you feel lonely being a writer?
I find that writing sometimes difficult for me because, I put a lot of pressure on myself. I want to be considered a great writer. I am continually pushing myself to do better and be better. Yes, I always feel that being a writer is a lonely business. The creation process is a singular experience for each writer.

BPM:  What did you enjoy mot about writing this book?
The most enjoyable part bout this series was seeing where each character went, and how they evolved more with each installment.

BPM:  How much planning goes into writing a book? How long does it take to complete one of your books?
The only planning I do is, taking notes about the situations I want to place the characters in, and how I want to resolve the issues created. It can take me anywhere from a few months to a year to complete a book. it depends on so many external factors.

BPM:  What advice would you give aspiring writers that would help them finish a project?
Well, because I feel that writers ae dreamers to a degree, I would say never give up on your dreams! Write, write, and write some more. we all get discouraged, but the end result is pure joy.

BPM:  What period of life or topics do you find you write about most often?
I am focused on young adults in this particular series. I simply wanted to understand how adults get to be who they are, how they are, and here it all began.

BPM:  How do you feel when someone disagrees with something you have written?
I actually use different opinions to gain a different perspective into the human condition. If I do find myself offended, I try to turn that around to be useful for my growth as a writer.

BPM:  Are there under-represented groups or ideas featured in your book? If so, discuss them.
If I had to say there was an under represented group in my series, it would have to be the LGBT community I felt that it was important to have at least one character who was the extreme opposite of the rest of the family. I wanted to explore her emotional perspective on being gay.

BPM:  Share one specific point in your book that resonated with your present situation or journey.
The one point that resonated most with me was learning how to accept myself as I am. In doing so, I learned how to recognize when changes in my own behaviors need to be made.

BPM: Did you learn anything personal from writing your book?
Writing "Shattered" actually taught me how much I've grown over the years. As well as, how much I am still very much that girl I once was.

BPM:  Can you share some stories bout people you met while researching this book?
Because the business I work in is strictly confidential, I'm not sure it's a good idea to share specific stories. I will say that I've witnessed and had conversations with clients which inspired the thoughts behind how very specific events can change the trajectory of one's life.

BPM:  How has writing impacted your life?
Writing has opened me up to a whole new world.  Where I was once shy, I am now outgoing and more personable. Meeting people and engaging with them brings me joy.

BPM:  What does literary success look like to you?
For me, literary success would be to create works that make people think, feel, talk and want more.

BPM:  What are the 3 most effective tools for sharing our book with the world?
Social media, word of mouth and participation in literary events whenever possible.

BPM:  What projects are you working on at the preset?
Right now I'm working on a piece about the loss of a child to gun violence. Being from a city like Camden, so many of us have loss someone in this manner. I feel I have to write about it.

BPM: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Contact and comments can be sent to my website: DeniseColemanBooks.com
Website: http://www.denisecolemanbooks.com
FB: @booksbydenise
IG: authordrcoleman
Twitter: @AuthorDColeman







     
 


 

College Life 201: Sophomore Studies by J.B. Vample


College Life 201: Sophomore Studies 
by J.B. Vample

Much to the relief of many, a new school year has fallen upon the students of Paradise Valley University. Alexandra Chisolm, Chasity Parker, Sidra Howard, Malajia Simmons and Emily Harris are thrilled to officially be sophomores. With a roommate shake-up that takes some getting used to, the girls hope that it's the only shake-up that will happen. When Alex's high school friends, Stacey and Victoria enter PVU as freshmen, she couldn't be more excited. Having all of her friends in one place is a dream come true. Alex's excitement is short lived once Victoria begins to show jealousy towards Alex's "college family". That, on top of facing a shocking betrayal, sends Alex into a fit of anger that she is unsure she will be able to recover from.

After a scare, Chasity decides to look for her birth mother and her decision causes a major clash with someone she least expects. As if that stress weren't enough, Chasity realizes that the growing feelings that she has for Jason Adams have become harder for her to ignore. During a blackout, the two cross a line that leaves both confused. In a fit of emotion, one makes a decision that ultimately changes the course of their relationship. Emily's new living arrangements and mother's constant hovering start to take its toll. Feeling helpless and lonely, Emily's grades begin to suffer. Finding the stress too much to bear, Emily finds a way to cope. But her methods may prove to be too much for her to handle.

Mistakenly, the girls thought that after surviving the events of their freshman year; that their first semester as upperclassmen would be a breeze. With secrets, drama, and emotions at an all-time high, these unlikely friends find that on top of handling their growing course load, they'll have to get a handle on their personal lives, both on and off campus. 

#SeducingThePenTour -  College Life 201: Sophomore Studies by J.B. Vample. Listen to a reading:  http://www.audioacrobat.com/note/CP74sz4x
The College Life Series follows the lives of five young black women as they make their journey through their four years of college at Paradise Valley University. Chasity Parker, the troubled beauty, Malajia Simmons, the party girl, Sidra Howard, the prim princess, Alex Chisolm, the self proclaimed "know-it-all", and Emily Harris, the shy mommy's girl are five main protagonists, thrown together by chance. Bringing to college different voices, vastly different backgrounds, and different ways of confronting challenges. 

This series touches on different issues that affect college aged people; such as class pressure, family drama, personal drama, relationship issues, peer confrontations, discovery and friendship. This ill-assorted group discover in this new environment and through unlikely friendships who they are. 



More About The College Life Series by J.B. Vample
 College Life 101: Freshman Orientation (The College Life Series, Vol. 1) 

College Life 102: Social Learning (The College Life Series, Vol. 2) 

College Life 201: Sophomore Studies (The College Life Series, Vol. 3) 

 

Order the 3-Book Series 
 
 

     
 


 

BONDED FOR LIFE by Tesa Erven (The Loose End Series - Book 3)


BONDED FOR LIFE
by Tesa Erven
(The Loose End Series - Book 3)
In the third installment of The Loose End series, we find Renee and Bradsen attempting to move past the adulteress relationship, turned down proposal and trust issues. While Bradsen remains optimistic, Renee fears that her scandalous past is a hindrance toward their future.
Meanwhile, Renee's best friend Sabrina is overjoyed with her relationship with NFL rookie Derrick St. Jermaine. All is well with the two until photos mysteriously surface on the internet.
Derrick's sister, Sonya, finds herself in a love triangle. During a lull in her longtime on-again, off-again relationship with her sexy firefighter, she begins to date the deejay of a popular nightclub she frequents. It's all fun and games with Sonya until she finds herself in an unforeseen situation. 

Which bonds are temporary and which are bonded for life?


EXCERPT:  BONDED FOR LIFE
"I can't believe that just happened," Bradsen said to himself as he pulled his car out from in front of his twin brother, Jacksen, and his wife, Cynthia's house. He glanced over at Renee who had a stunned expression on her face.

With a concerned tone he asked, "Are you okay?" He watched as the glistening tears in her oval-shaped eyes threatened to spill over.
Renee's voice quivered as she replied, "I'm fine. Although, it's not every day I have a drink thrown in my face."

Sabrina, Renee's best friend and former roommate, chimed in from the backseat, "I can't believe she did that. There was way too much tension in there."
Renee lowered her head. "Yeah there was. But, Brenda has every right to be angry with me. I was knowingly having an affair with her husband. I'm glad she was able to release some of her anger. It could have been worse, you know. She could have pulled out a gun and shot me," Renee added, attempting to make light of the situation.
"That's not funny, Renee." Bradsen glared at her. "Okay, you cheated with her husband. I get it.
But, I thought we were past it. Apparently not."
"Let's face it. It was too soon. I had a feeling we shouldn't have gone there tonight."

"Yep," Sabrina said.

Derrick joined the conversation. "I agree."

Renee cleared her throat and laughed at them. "Really now? So, earlier when we were in the car contemplating on whether or not we should go into the house, no one bothered to say, 'Oh, there's a small possibility that you may get your butt kicked.' You guys are unbelievable."
"A drink thrown in your face. But your butt kicked? That wouldn't have happened. At least, not with me standing there," Sabrina assured her. 

Bradsen hadn't said much. Renee looked over at him and noticed tension on his handsome face. "Are you alright?" 

Bradsen looked at her and softly uttered, "We'll talk about it later."

Silence filled the car until Derrick asked, "You two still coming to my game, right?" The six three, well-built rookie linebacker would be starting in his first game on Sunday. Sabrina nudged him in the side. "What?" Derrick mouthed. 

"Yes, we'll be there," Bradsen said as he pulled into Renee's apartment complex. Once they said their goodbyes, Sabrina and Derrick headed to his car and Bradsen and Renee went into her place. 

"Now do you want to tell me what's wrong?" Renee asked when Bradsen closed the door.
"Baby, I'm so sorry about tonight. I feel terrible. I should have never pressured you into going.

Me and Jacksen kind of thought enough time had passed. I really wish there was a way we could all get along."

Renee put her arms around his waist and leaned back to look up into his brown eyes and clean-shaven, dark brown face. Bradsen stood a couple inches over six feet, easily towering over her five-and-a-half feet. 

"I don't know what you want me to do, Bradsen. This is tough. I didn't expect your family to accept me with open arms. I chose to be the other woman. It was a bad decision on my part, but I have to live with the choices that I've made, not you. I love you, but I don't want you to be miserable because you can't have it both ways. There's always going to be some kind of animosity towards me from your family."

"Baby, I realize this is hard and I love you too, but there has to be a better way-" He stopped mid-sentence.

Renee pulled her arms from underneath his. She spat, "A better way to what? To us trying to get together again. It's not going to happen. I'm sorry to tell you that I'm not welcomed there, and if that's a problem for you then I guess you could-" 

Bradsen cut her off, "Don't you dare say it, Renee. I'm not going anywhere. You are the one I want, and we'll have to figure out something, because I won't give up on us."

Renee shook her head while Bradsen pulled her back into his embrace. With her petite frame wrapped in his arms, she always felt safe with him. He wanted to reaffirm his love for her to show her that they would get through it no matter what happened. But he knew only time would tell.

( Continued... )

© 2016 All rights reserved.  Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Tesa Erven.  Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author's written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.


Purchase the 3-Book Loose End Series by Tesa Erven
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01N7FOB7F


Purchase Bonded For Life (The Loose End Book 3) by Tesa Erven
https://www.amazon.com/Bonded-Life-Loose-End-Book-ebook/dp/B01N687MKJ






Threads that Mend 
(The Loose End Series - Book 2)


Can two people from a secret love affair redeem themselves after suffering the consequences of their actions? Or will they allow the past to tangle the Threads that Mend.


In the sequel to The Loose End, we revisit the lives of Renee Lawson, Bradsen Myers, Kayron Hawkins, and Sabrina Brown.
Renee finds herself staring her decisions in the face: the selfishness of dating a married man for four years and the foolishness of pushing away another who offered true love.
Meanwhile, Bradsen is attempting to cope after being rejected by Renee. The happiness he's forced to witness from his soon-to-be-wed twin brother and business partner only accelerates the pain he's feeling.
Kayron is not so happy with life after the hurt he'd caused Renee and his wife comes back tenfold. Not only is he fighting for his marriage, he also finds himself in a life-threatening situation.
Through all of the confusion and emotional turmoil, Sabrina is enjoying her newly found secret love affair. Will the others be as lucky as Sabrina? Or will they allow the past to tangle the threads that mend?


Purchase Threads that Mend (The Loose End Book 2)

The Loose End by Tesa Erven 
(The Loose End Series - Book 1)

After celebrating an unforgettable weekend, he vanishes without a trace. Was he injured? Was he murdered? Where was he? Find out now in The Loose End.

Renee Lawson is a young, vibrant, beautiful woman who fell in love with one of Oakland's finest, and of all things, a married man. For her twenty-fifth birthday, he surprises her with a romantic getaway. He planned to make it a weekend she'd never forget.

And indeed it was, until a few weeks later, her phone calls and text messages stopped being answered or responded to. He had gone on vacation with his family, but he'd always found time to communicate with her in the past. How can she start to build a connection with him when her secret love has vanished without a trace? Was he injured? Was he murdered? Where was he?

Read more: https://www.amazon.com/Tesa-Erven/e/B0136QKRM0   


Intimate Conversation  
with Tesa Erven

Tesa Erven was born and raised in San Francisco, California. She currently resides in New Jersey with her husband and two kids. She works as an office administrator for a global outplacement firm. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, writing and singing. The Loose End is her first published work.


BPM:  Tell us about your Loose End Series?  Is this book available on Nook and Kindle?
Tesa: My debut novel is called The Loose End. It is available on Nook and Kindle.

Renee Lawson is a young, vibrant, beautiful woman who fell in love with one of Oakland's finest, and of all things, a married man.  For her twenty-fifth birthday, he surprises her with a romantic getaway. He planned to make it a weekend she'd never forget. And indeed it was, until a few weeks later, her phone calls and text messages stopped being answered or responded to. He had gone on vacation with his family, but he'd always found time to communicate with her in the past.

Renee still confused by her lover's disappearance, attends an event with her best friend, Sabrina. There they meet California native Bradsen Myers. A single, handsome, respected attorney and he's definitely interested in Renee. While Bradsen feels its love at first sight, she pushes him away. After returning home from the event, desperation sets in.  During her weeks of worry, Renee has a chance encounter with Bradsen. She feels an attraction but is conflicted. How can she start to build a connection with him when her secret love has vanished without a trace? Was he injured? Was he murdered? Where was he?


BPM:  Give us some insight into your main characters or speakers. What makes each one so special?
Tesa: Renee Lawson is a young, vibrant beautiful woman that fell in love with a married man. Kayron Hawkins is the so-called happily married man in a relationship with Renee. Sabrina Brown is Renee's childhood best friend and roommate and she's very opinionated. Bradsen Myers is a prominent attorney and is attracted to Renee. I enjoy developing new characters and giving them a voice because each one is uniquely written.

BPM:  What inspired you to sit down and actually start writing this book?
Tesa: I started writing ten years ago. The experience was great because I knew it was a big accomplishment. The problem was, I tried to go the traditional publisher route and after the many rejections I gave up on the manuscript. It wasn't until years later when my husband found it and liked what I wrote. That's when the desire for writing returned and I decided to research self-publishing.

BPM:  What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
Tesa:  For me, the easiest part about writing is when you have a muse that you can build or base a character on. My childhood best friend of 30+ years is inspiration to Sabrina's character in my book. She happens to have those same character traits of always being there and guiding me that it just makes the story come together in a nice even flow.

BPM:  Where do your book ideas come from? Are your books plot-driven or character-driven?  Why?
Tesa:  My ideas are character driven. I keep a notebook with me on the go. I start a story in there before scanning it into the computer. I still have a thing for the old fashioned scratch and scribble... I write everything down on paper.

BPM:  How does your book relate to your present situation or journey?
Tesa: I write fiction for entertainment purposes. I want readers to be able to escape into my world.

BPM:   Did you learn anything personal from writing your book?
Tesa: I love writing; it gets the creative juices flowing.  I love unknowingly connecting characters together. It's a small world and I prove that in my writing style. I get the thrill of just being able to write about love, twists, and a little suspense. 

BPM:   Can you share some stories about people you met while researching this book?
Tesa: Some of the places/establishments in my book are places that people can actually visit. I would recommend Sonoma Valley, where you can tour the Korbel winery.

BPM:   What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
Tesa: My goal was to write a love story with romance, suspense and unexpected twists. I am so pleased with the way the story turned out that it became a series.

BPM:   What projects are you working on at the present?
Tesa: My current project is titled, Bonded for Life, its book three in The Loose End Series, available now at: http://a.co/gENZu2W

BPM:   How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Twitter: @TesaErven
Tesa website: www.tesaerven.com
Facebook: Facebook.com/authortesaerven
Amazon author page: amazon.com/author/tesaerven






     
 


 

Love At Last by Sharon C. Cooper


Love At Last by Sharon C. Cooper
Carolyn Jenkins has never had a problem getting a man, but keeping one is another story. After two failed marriages and numerous short-term relationships, she's ready to wave the white flag and give up on love. Yet, with Christmas quickly approaching, she dreads spending the holiday alone. Will a chance encounter with a handsome stranger make all of her Christmas wishes come true?

After thirty years of a nearly perfect marriage, widower Lincoln Richwood struggles to move on with his life. The idea of dating at his age seems daunting ... until he meets the vivacious Carolyn Jenkins. Normally a straitlaced kind of guy, there's just something about the woman that tempts him to walk on the wild side.

Opposites attract, but will their differences derail their relationship and keep them from embracing the love they both desire?


Purchase Books by Sharon C. Cooper
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Excerpt: Love At Last by Sharon C. Cooper 

Carolyn took a sip of her hot tea that the server had delivered moments before. "So why did you ask Paul for my telephone number?" she inquired, unable to contain her curiosity since he'd mentioned it at the gym.

"This might sound cliché, but the first time I saw you standing behind the bar at Paul's restaurant, I felt a connection." Lincoln took a sip from his water glass and set it back down, his dark eyes sparkling with interest. "That feeling only intensified when you walked into his office a short while later."

Carolyn studied him. She had never been one for holding back what she thought or felt, and had no intention of starting now. "I felt the same way. But when I spotted your wedding band, it was like having a bucket of ice water dumped over my head. I was pissed. Partly at you for showing an interest in me when you knew you were married. Or at least when I thought you were married. I was also ticked at myself for not being able to stop thinking about you."

"Your comment about removing the ring before calling you was the push I needed. For the past couple of years, I wore the ring as a way to remember my wife and ward off women." Smiling, Lincoln shrugged. He lowered his gaze and fingered the condensation rolling down the side of his water glass before returning his attention to her. "You're the first woman I've met who made me want to remove the ring and start anew."

Carolyn wasn't sure how to respond. For her sake, she was glad not to see the wedding band, but she hoped he hadn't taken it off before he was really ready.

The server returned and Carolyn's stomach rumbled when the elegantly plated dishes were set in front of them.

"You're really going to eat all of that?" Lincoln smiled, eying the two entrées she'd ordered.

The smell of the North Atlantic cod surrounded by tomatoes, basil, olives, and zucchini made her mouth water. The Beef Wellington was just as appetizing. "I plan to eat every single bite." Carolyn loaded her fork, then wrapped her lips around it. Her eyes drifted shut as she savored the enticing flavors. She loved French food. Hell, she loved food period. She wasn't one of those petite women who ate only salads. No, she absolutely enjoyed food and could out eat anyone she knew, except for maybe her daughter, Martina.

She moaned with every bite until Lincoln cleared his throat and her eyes popped open.

"You're killing me here," he mumbled leaning close, desire radiating in his eyes. "I have been around a long time and have never seen a person enjoy food like that before."

Carolyn wiped her mouth and grinned. "I'm a foodie with a huge appetite, but I'll try to behave."

"Don't stop moaning on my account," he whispered, shifting in his seat. "If that's how you behave with every meal, I plan to keep a plate of food in front of you."


( Continued... )

Copyright © November 2016 by Sharon C. Cooper.  All rights reserved.  Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Sharon C. Cooper.  Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author's written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.

 
Purchase Books by Sharon C. Cooper 
 
Books by Sharon C. Cooper, Award-winning and Bestselling Author
Love Under Contract
A Lesson On Love
Best Woman for the Job
Love At Last 
A Passionate Kiss
Seducing the Boss Lady
Negotiating for Love
Tempting the Artist 
All You'll Ever Need 
Still the Best Woman for the Job
Model Attraction

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Mercy's First Semester by W.M. Bunche


Mercy's First Semester 
by W.M. Bunche
Mercy's First Semester is about the ramifications of war and the perplexing impulses which lead to obsession and peril in the lives of all. 
Set in Brooklyn, "Mercy's First Semester" brings together four improbable individuals: Mercy, an Iraq war combat veteran suffering from PTSD; Mr. Mina, a compassion fatigued social worker who refuses to give up on his patients even when his livelihood threatens his marriage; Dr. G, an atheist professor, who is fond of Mercy in ways he cannot comprehend; and Eva, Mercy's childhood crush who reconnects with him on Veteran's Day.


Mercy saved his men. Can he save himself?"   

How do combat vets re-integrate back into society after deployment?
  
How important is faith in a combat soldier's life before, during and after deployment?

How do families make adjustments to returning vets who have obviously been affected by the war?



A Message from the Author

I was granted the opportunity to understand the perspective of a combat veteran ("Mercy") who was trying to get back home. What is home? In Mercy's case, home meant not only the physical locale but the mental and spiritual states of normalcy. Through writing Mercy's First Semester, I learned firsthand that for combat veterans, returning home can be complicated.

Mercy offered to help me complete a writing assignment by sharing his experiences. He was battling PTSD and felt that sharing would help him heal. We hit it off right away because as we shared our respective military experiences, we realized that we worked together on several joint service operations.

Emotionally, it was difficult to digest Mercy's graphic and detailed combat experiences. As I replayed hours of our interviews, I wondered how does anyone get back to normal after combat. I had a vague idea of what my grand uncle experienced during World War I. I cannot imagine what my great grand uncle experienced during the Civil War. Today's weaponry is far more sophisticated than the Civil War. However, the carnage of war was probably very similar. Sitting with Mercy, I learned teamwork on a whole new level.  
 
   
About the Author
WM Bunche is a cold war veteran and Commendation Medal recipient. He attended public schools in Brooklyn. He is a fourth generation veteran and his military roots trace back to the Civil War. A wannabe athlete, he will compete in the 41st Marine Corps Marathon. He is an honors graduate of Columbia University. For more information, please visit Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Goodreads. Mercy's First Semester is his first book.  Website:  http://www.wmbunche.com



Book Launch Party for Mercy's First Semester by W.M. Bunche
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FIRST CHAPTER EXCERPTS  

Amazon Review Written by NY Hank 
Beautifully Written, Mercy is a Hero for Today


What a gritty, emotional roller-coaster that forces us as Americans to look at the results of the choices that our society makes: war, peace, isolationism, involvement, God, no god, education, loneliness. Through Mercy, we see and confront ourselves and what we collectively value and where we want to be within the family of man (and women). The unbearable burden we place on young kids who go to war must never be forgotten and we are too quick to sweep away these men and women when they return because they remind us of something that is so unsettling and difficult. 
In our disposable world, it is simply easier to forget about them and return to a computer game on a tablet. We've let these veterans down, and we know it. So ignore them; that's the easier path. While not doing enough to integrate veterans back into our national community, Mercy gives us renewed hope. Through a circuitous route, Mercy let's us know that one must never give up, must always believe that the sun will rise and there is a way to becoming whole. 
And that is a lesson for all Americans, war veterans or simply an individual trying to navigate an increasingly more difficult society where more and more challenges and obstacles are placed in front of us each and every day. Mercy is truly a hero, both on and off the battlefield. Beautifully written, Mercy's struggle will stay with you long after you turn the last page.

 
The Golden Hour

SPRING BREAK 2013
 

Joshua Toussaint Mercier (aka Mercy) remembered the golden hour. The critical life saving hour following a traumatic injury. With proper medical treatment, there is a great possibility of survival. Without proper medical treatment, Taps. He remembered the roar of the medevac chopper's blades rotating overhead, kicking up desert dust. His bullet riddled body lay on a gurney. It was shuffled onto the chopper by four armed soldiers. He never thought he would be the patient. He thought he would die by bullet or bomb, not feeling a thing. He would awaken when Jesus resurrected him. 

His vision hazy, he recognized the outlines of a white cross and the colors of an American flag. As his mirage continued, the ambulance drove him to the ER. He never heard the siren blaring. Juan Pablo, by his side, rode with him in the ambulance. He told the EMTs Mercy was his best friend. Mercy faded in and out of consciousness as the EMTs treated the gunshot wounds in his chest. According to the EMTs, Mercy was in critical condition. 

In the OR, on the operating table, the intensity of the overhead surgical lights blinded Mercy. It was no different than the triple digit noon sun in Iraq, except this time his body shivered. The gloved surgeons with surgical gowns seemed like adults leaning over an infant. Nausea set in. His airway was safe but there were internal chest injuries. His breath was shortened and it hurt to inhale. He breathed easier with the oxygen mask. 

The fentanyl IV drip made the pain dissipate. Fentanyl was twice as strong as morphine he remembered from his medic training. He stared up at the ceiling. The metallic scent of iodine assaulted his nasal passages. All sounds disappeared around him except his own heartbeat. He reached for his chest but his hand fell to the bedside. The luminous room darkened like an eclipse. 



JUAN PABLO
HARMONY FUNERAL HOME
A FEW HOURS BEFORE TAPS


In the front parlor of Harmony Funeral Home, a short copper toned young man stood at the podium. His skinny black tie divided his white shirt and stocky chest. He adjusted the microphone and glanced out at a sea of black dresses, suits and somber faces. He cleared his throat and swallowed. He ran his fingers through his short black curly hair. He licked his thick lips and scratched his bent nose with his finger. He paused before speaking then turned his head in the direction of a family sitting in the front row.

"I'm Juan Pablo. Thank you Mercier family for allowing me to speak."

He glanced back at the unfamiliar faces in the audience. He forced a cough to conceal his anxiety.

"We first met at Daysi's Diner on Halloween. He had just got back from Iraq. He was wearing this amazing sombrero. I was working as a delivery boy on the midnight shift. I had just arrived to Brooklyn three weeks before."

His English had a slight Mexican accent. He paused between his words as he tried to understand how this moment had ever happened. 

"He was battling insomnia. He was anxious. It was about three in the morning. I was smoking a cigarette listening to some old school hip-hop music. I like break dancing. So I was break dancing in the patio of the restaurant in the back. I felt someone watching me. I looked over my shoulder and there he was. Mercy spotted me on his way to the bathroom. 

He corrected me on a few moves and offered me some pointers. Mercy had moves. Later that morning, a drunken gringo picked a fight with Mercy. I got in between the two of them. The guy was no match for Mercy. Mercy thanked me. Two nights later, I was sleeping on a park bench in Prospect Park. It was my first night off in three weeks. This was my usual spot. A V-shaped shadow of a man with no neck, all head and shoulders, wearing a combat uniform walks up and stands over me. 

All of sudden I hear this raspy, deep voice say, 'Did you stop me from knocking out that drunk guy over at Daysi's?'

Sí. 

'You don't have to sleep on the bench.' 

I responded in Spanish. My English wasn't that good at the time. I answered back in my broken English. So Mercy started speaking to me in Spanish. We clicked right away. Mercy told me he visited Mexico when he was training at Fort Irwin. I told him I was heading to a shelter. I was lying. He said he would loan me the money for a hotel. I couldn't stay at a hotel or a shelter. I had no papers at the time. 

With just a rucksack with a sweater, sneakers and one change of underwear, I left my world behind. I had twenty dollars in my pocket. The coyotes wanted to charge me eight thousand for a one way trip to the United States. I swam across rivers. I rode freight trains. It took me two weeks to cross two thousand miles to Brooklyn. Along the way, I passed the corpses of people who had died of hunger and didn't make it to the border. The reason I'm here today after being deported three times is God. When I looked up from that bench at Mercy's face, I saw God's angel."

Juan Pablo swallowed, bit his bottom lip and fought back tears. A few audience members wiped their tears with handkerchiefs and tissues.

"Mercy offered me, a total stranger, new to this side of the world, one of his studio apartments. Besides my boss, I didn't know anyone in Brooklyn. Mercy knew where I worked. We met only once and he trusted me. Stay as long as you need, he said. But he warned me, 'If you damage my place, I will hunt you down. There is no place on this earth you can go that I couldn't find you. I am a professional recon specialist. One of the best. We cool?' If you knew Mercy, you knew he meant what he said. I believed him. I promised to pay Mercy rent two months in advance. I asked him how much. Whatever you can afford, he said.

He respected me because I am a survivor. I am fluent in English because he practiced with me. He corrected my pronunciation. I'm doing well in college because of him. He helped me write my papers. I just don't understand why God would let a man like Mercy leave this world so soon."


MERCY
FALL 2007 - FIRST DEPLOYMENT 

-Journal Entry-


We were in the outskirts of no man's land in the Diyala province, northeast of Baghdad, somewhere near the Iranian border. We were searching for insurgents on a night ops mission with the 25th Infantry unit. The cool darkness was so thick outside, it felt like a demonic supernatural being that breathed and hovered around us, waiting to exhale evil. The eerie silence intensified all suspicious sounds, unfamiliar scents and random movement. The sole light source was from our night-vision goggles. 

As we closed on one house, a Hajji dog barked, disrupting the calm. The Hajji houses were constructed out of dense mud and straw. The dog was protecting the sheep from night thieves. Our commander gave me orders through my headset: "Mercy, stack your squad on the door. You do the kick-in."

Armed, trigger fingers ready, we stacked, man to man. I ran my finger tips along the door's edges, top to bottom, checking for trip wires. The door was clear of explosives. I flashed hand signals alerting my team. Suddenly, a man burst out from the back of the house with an AK-47 and just opened up on us: Pop-Pop-Pop-Pop-Pop-Pop-Pop! The infantry boys laid down fire. We blasted him and the house with 240 Bravos. 

Once the dust settled, the smoke cleared and the rounds stopped pinging, we kicked the door in. Inside was just as dark as outside. Absent was any sign of life. It was so quiet I could hear my own breathing rhythms. A seven-year old boy's last gasps and groans diverted everyone's attention. 

An entire family, men, women and children, lay shot up. Their bodies were spread out around the house bloodied and motionless. Some bodies' positions appeared as if death froze them in place. Some of their faces wore relaxed emotional expressions. Others' eyes and mouths were gaped open as if they were shot in mid-sentence. We did a button hook and ran right back outside. I shouted, "Lieutenant! Get in here! Get the Docs in here, all the Docs! Civilians shot up!" Our commander, a butter bar second lieutenant, dashed in and slid in his tracks. He glimpsed the bullet-riddled bodies. 

"Oh God, no, please."

Our commander shook his head and smacked the side of his helmet with his hand. He yelled, "My career is over!"

All Iraqis were allotted one AK-47 to protect themselves. When you witness, up close, dead women and children, killed from your team's superior fire power, you wonder if any of your bullets killed one person or everyone. Gunning down a terrorist, even a female suicide bomber, or whoever aims to kill my men is not a problem. You shoot. You forget. But killing an innocent family is unforgettable.


( Continued... )

© 2016 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, W.M. Bunche. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author's written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only. 
   
Purchase Mercy's First Semester by W.M. Bunche  
Contemporary Fiction. Link: https://amzn.com/B01M04VPMY  
Combat Vet PTSD Struggles  and  Re-integration into society
   


     
 


 

Places In My Heart by Sheryl Lister


Places In My Heart by Sheryl Lister 
Other agents-and exes-have tried using Omar as a meal ticket, and he's closed himself off from emotional entanglements. With Morgan, it's a whole new playbook. Smart and tough, she can negotiate a contract and turn him on all in one go, and he craves more. But in matters of trust, he's just fumbled badly. To win her he has to show her the man he can be away from the field and the limelight, and hope that this time they're both playing for keeps.

Excerpt from Places In My Heart 

Omar scanned the yard and saw Morgan laughing with another player's wife. They were the only two women who had joined in the otherwise all-male football game. She had impressed him with her offensive and defensive skills. Not many women-and none he'd dated-would subject themselves to a light tackle football game and not care about being dirty or having messy hair. But Morgan was different, and that turned him on.
"Man, you don't have anything to worry about," Malcolm said. "Roland will make sure you stay with the Cobras as long as you want." When Omar didn't comment, Malcolm leaned forward. "What's up, Drummond?"
"I can't go into details, but I think it's time for a change. And this time, I want to steer clear of anybody involved in league politics. I need somebody else, Mal."
Malcolm studied him for a moment and then said, "My sister is looking to get into the business."
"Is that right? She's an attorney?"
"Yeah. And she's about as far away from league politics as you can get."
"So, she knows the game well, huh?"
"As if she's played it all her life," Malcolm said.
Omar had thought that was the case, but hearing Malcolm confirm it solidified in his mind that she might exactly the person he needed to help him.
"Food's ready," Omar heard someone say.
He came to his feet, eager to end the conversation. Omar got in line with the rest of the guests, filled his plate and crossed the yard to where Morgan sat with her food. His intention had been to talk to her about a business proposition, but as soon as he sat and opened his mouth, two other women joined them and started a conversation about some popular television show. He promptly tuned out and dug into his meal.
"What about you, Drummond?"
His head popped up, and he met Morgan's expectant gaze. "I'm sorry. What did you ask?"
"I asked which show was your favorite-Scandal or How to Get Away with Murder?"
"I don't watch either show."
Morgan slanted him a look. "Let me guess. You only watch sports or sports news."
"No. I enjoy a good comedy or action movie, but I prefer reading to television."
Surprise lit her eyes. "Reading?"
"Yeah, you know...books."
"Wow, really, Omar? I would've never figured that out," she said teasingly and rolled her eyes. The group laughed.
Omar smiled. She'd called him by his first name, something she had never done before. Their easy rapport gave him hope that she would be receptive to his plan. They finished eating while talking, and afterward, three other guys convinced Omar to join them in a card game. He kept one eye on his cards and the other on Morgan, waiting for a chance to get her alone.
His opportunity came three hands later when he saw her go inside. It took some serious patience to finish the game, especially since his partner seemed to contemplate every round. In Omar's mind it was simple-you either had the card or you didn't.
Marcus Dupree, wide receiver, threw up his hands. "Grant, do you think we could finish this game before the season starts? We only have a month."
"My thoughts exactly," Omar mumbled.
"Patience, my brothers," Lucas Grant said. "I have to get my strategy together." The middle linebacker employed the same tactics when watching plays develop and stopping runs between the tackles. Though effective on the field, today it only irritated Omar.
Omar shook his head. Minutes later, he tossed out his last card and stood. "Somebody else can take my spot. I'm done." Without waiting for a reply, he headed for the sliding glass door that led to the kitchen and stepped inside. The sight of Morgan's long bare legs stopped him in his tracks. She had changed into another pair of shorts that stretched taut over her backside as she reached for something in a cabinet. If he could just get one touch... Omar shook himself and quickly dismissed the notion.
"I see you changed."
Morgan whirled around. "Oh. Drummond, you scared me."
Back to last names again. "Sorry."
She set the glass she had gotten on the counter and went to the refrigerator. "That's okay. I had to shower. I can only take feeling grimy for so long."
It took him a moment to realize she had commented on his previous statement. "I hear you. But you played a good game."
"Are you referring to the interception or the touchdown?" she asked as she poured what looked like iced tea into the glass.
"A little cocky, aren't you?"
She leaned against the counter, wrapped one arm around her middle and took a sip of her drink. "My game speaks for itself. Yours, on the other hand, can use some work."
Omar closed the distance between them and braced his hands on the counter on either side of her. "Is that a challenge?"
She tilted her chin and stared at him intently. "You tell me."
Their faces were inches apart. Common sense told him he should back up, but he couldn't. Not when her full, gloss-slicked lips were calling to him. Without thinking about the ramifications, he crushed his mouth against hers and slid his tongue inside when her lips parted on a startled gasp. She came up on tiptoe and met him stroke for stroke, causing him to groan.
A second later Morgan stiffened and tore her mouth away. She pushed against his chest. "Move."
Omar dropped his arms. "Morgan, I-" She brushed past him, and he reached out to stop her.
She slapped his hand away and kept walking.
"Morgan, wait. I need to talk to you."
"I think you've said enough," she called over her shoulder.

( Continued... )
© 2016 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Sheryl Lister. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author's written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.

Purchase books by Sheryl Lister 
Genre - Contemporary Romance
     
 


 

Path to Peace, A Guide to Managing Life After Losing a Loved One By Angie Ransome-Jones


Path to Peace, A Guide to Managing Life 
After Losing a Loved One
By Angie Ransome-Jones
Path to Peace is a wonderful book used as a source to go to time and time again if you are going through the process of grieving after losing someone. It is well researched and written, and is easy to absorb all while letting the reader take what they need at different times during the grieving process.

It does a comprehensive job of touching on the many types of loss, and offers helpful suggestions for coping and moving forward. From the moment I first started reading it, I knew the perspective is coming from well-informed person who has been through the grieving process.

I highly recommend buying it when you or someone you know is faced with the death of a loved one as it guides you forward with practical guides on what to do as well as emotional help. Give the book to someone you know who needs it. You will be able to help them when they need it most on their own time. By owning the book yourself, you will be able to understand and anticipate the needs of the people you care for who may need your help during a difficult time.  This is simply an amazing, well-written book that exceeded my expectations.


"This book is a compassionate and poignant reflection of the premise...everyone grieves differently. It is simply heart-warming!"  ~Dionne Anglin, News Reporter, KDFW-TV 


This guide provides practical tools to manage the business affairs after losing a loved one."  ~Victor McGlothin, Essence Magazine Bestselling Author 


"What an incredible show of strength and courage in the middle of grief and loss.....Angie presents a very practical roadmap for all of us to follow!"
~Dr. Tracey Brown, Author/Speaker/Counselor Supervisor-Dallas ISD 

Purchase a copy for you and one to share with friends & family


Excerpt Chapter One

Until a year ago, I had always equated Election Day with colorful yard signs, cooler weather and National Angie Ransome-Jones Day, also known as my birthday. Now, I equate it to my Daddy's passing. It was a normal day, just like any other for me. I ran my mouth with Evelyn while trying to get some semblance of work done at home. The day before, I worked an election with my good friend, Janis, like I had for the past few years and was trying to play catch up like I always do, whenever I take off from work. Coming off of a great weekend, I was on cloud 21!
Dad came down to celebrate my 44TH birthday and I basked in the possibilities of another year as Myles, my son, prepared for his first semester of college. There were so many things to be thankful for. Little did I know what was to come. If not every single day, it was at least every other day that I talked to Daddy. Usually, we had a typical 2-minute conversation. "Hey Daddy, what you doing?"
"Oh, nothing girl, just sitting here relaxing."
Depending on whether I caught him half asleep or fully awake, the conversation could go one of a million ways. Mostly we would get off the phone immediately with a casual goodbye.
"Okay, just checking on ya. Daddy, go back to sleep."
We often shared any number of long, drawn-out conversations on everything from gas prices to somebody on his job getting ill, or something pertaining to a distant relative I had no memory of. But on this particular day, something was different. Something was off. I tried calling him the night before while I was still at the election site, just before I knew he would be taking a nap to get ready for work at midnight. I tried again when I closed the polls about 10 or 11 p.m., on my way home, hoping to catch him fresh out the shower before he got dressed and jumped into his truck for work. Daddy had the same pattern every day. It usually started with him laying or piddling around all day until dusk, when it was time to prepare for his part-time "sleeping job" at the local bowling alley; the midnight shift. When I didn't catch him, it wasn't surprising. I knew for sure I'd catch him the next morning. After I failed to catch him for the umpteenth time, I did the one thing I dreaded most. Fearing a sharp reprimand, I called his job. Because I knew he hated his job and was just counting the days, even minutes, until re-retirement; I was doubtful he was still there. And, as it turned out, he wasn't. 
Next, I did the second thing that I knew I would live to regret if he had merely overslept. I called his neighbor, Ms. Effie.  After knocking, peeking through windows, and calling his name repeatedly, Ms. Effie called back to tell me that she had no luck but thought he may have been home because she saw both cars in his garage. After what seemed like hours of Ms. Effie knocking, calling out my Dad's name, "Al! Al!" and trying to calm me down hundreds of miles away, she decided to call for backup in the form of her daughter Erica; who I had also known for years. After a few more hours of knocking on windows, doors, and anything she could find, she called Dad's phone repeatedly. Eventually, Erica heard his phone ring from inside the house. It was then, I knew he was gone. Daddy always carried his phone on his person, in either a pocket or on a chain attached to his hip.

The authorities wouldn't tell me much except that he didn't suffer. The room was left virtually undisturbed, which suggested there was not a struggle. Instead, they said he was sitting upright in a chair with his breathing machine by his bedside and appeared to have passed peacefully. He presumably had an asthma attack but the death certificate recorded it as "death by natural causes" and I'm okay with that. I had always imagined that I'd be there with him, like I was when my mother took her final breath but in this case, it wasn't a part of God's plan.

Step 1: Making the Call
Notification Process: The first step and one of the most difficult of the ten I will outline, is the notification process. Instead of contacting our immediate family first, I notified people I knew would kick into full gear to do some of the heavier lifting that I was neither mentally nor emotionally prepared to do yet. I recommend appointing a "go-to-man" from the outset. You will need assistance in making dreadful phone calls while navigating through what will seem to be an endless list of people to notify; otherwise known as your "Call List." 

Handle with Care: In retrospect, after helping with the deaths of close friends, an important part of the process is to "Handle with Care." This is important for those who meant the most to your loved one and would want to hear the news directly from you. I caused irreparable damage in my neglect of a relative that was near and dear to me, and my Dad, when he heard the news of his passing via word of mouth. Remember, word of mouth travels faster than the front page news. 


( Continued... ) 

© 2015 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Angie Ransome-Jones. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author's written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only. 

About the Author

Angie Ransome-Jones is a wife of 20+ years and mother of two young men, all currently residing in Texas. A banking Vice President and MBA, Angela has her own non-profit (501C-3) organization, Magnifying our Mothers (M.O.M.), which she founded in 2010, in memory of her mother, who lost her battle with cancer years earlier. In her spare time, Angela enjoys serving as a volunteer in her church and community, along with practicing and teaching yoga, and she is an active member of both Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and Toastmasters International.  Website:http://www.path-2-peace.com


Purchase Path to Peace, A Guide to Managing Life After Losing a Loved One 






     
 


 

Double Down and Dirty by L.A. Lewis


Double Down and Dirty by L.A. Lewis
Jade Bordeaux escaped her Southern Baptist family and moved to New York because they would never respect the choices she made or the secret she kept. The Big Apple and her new modeling career proved to be more adventurous than her life in Baton Rouge. Excitement flowed through everything from the towering landscapes, wonderful opportunities, and especially in the form of handsome CEO Sean Wright. Dating him takes an unfortunate turn when his sister's dance to the rhythm of revenge becomes a tune she's hell-bent on sharing with her family and the people they love.

In a matter of weeks, Jade's life takes an uncertain and dangerous turn. Nothing prepared her for the call which stirs emotions Jade thought she'd buried. The former Governor of Louisiana has denied her existence since birth and now makes a life-altering request that fills Jade with resentment. Jade built her success and happiness by making hard choices, even ones that cause heartbreak. Unfortunately, she never imagined that any of those choices could lead to the death of someone she loves.

Jade soon learns in the game of life, sometimes playing Double Down and Dirty is the only way to win.


Beta Reader Reviews
Double Down and Dirty by L.A. Lewis, is impressively developed. It starts off with a bang and continues to engulf you throughout the entire story. The characters are well developed and memorable. It will arouse your senses and affect each emotion simultaneously. Things get real messy as New York and Louisiana collide, but nobody does it better than L.A., to put it all into perspective. It's a drama filled ride that you won't want to get off of until you read the last word!

 -- Christine Pauls, Author of To Begin Again and Belinda's Song


Smiling faces tell lies...and I got proof.. L.A Lewis has penned her best novel to date. Set against the backdrop of New York City's beautiful vistas with scenes from Louisiana interspersed, she takes the reader on an odyssey with two people who appear to have made it to the pinnacle of their respective fields.

Jade left her past in Louisiana and used her looks, ingenuity and dogged determination to reinvent herself. Sean initially wants her face for his latest advertising campaign. ..until he falls for the woman behind the exquisite face, voice and body.

However, every body connected to them is a liar or a schemer. No one is rooting for this relationship. Jade and Sean become embroiled in ancient and current family dramas, are betrayed on multiple occasions. Situations that make you shake your head and mutter a few obscene phrases. These families need Olivia Pope and her entire team to straighten out this mess, untangle the lies and deceptions.

LA Lewis keeps the pressure on until the last page of the book. Who will survive? Who will be exposed? Can love overcome hate, destructive behavior, and self inflicted wounds? You won't be able to put the book down until you answer all the questions.
 
-- Joyce A. Brown, Author of Getting Away With Everything
 


Excerpt: Double Down and Dirty by L.A. Lewis

Jade focused on the sound of her heels clicking with each step, trying to ignore the tingle of pleasure she felt, which signaled he was keenly aware of her every movement. Thanks to her mother, who blessed her with a tiny waistline and a rear end that would make even the most famous posteriors look like a piece of cardboard, Jade became accustomed to the appreciative looks that went along with being country-bred and country fed.

Halfway up, Sean's baritone voice sliced through the silence in the elevator. "Ms. Bordeaux,"

"Yes." She put her focus on the numbers above the doors, but felt his gaze narrow on her as he asked, "Am I really so bad?"

Jade thought about her response until the chime from the elevator echoed. She couldn't have been happier to have an excuse to avoid that question.

"Right this way," Jade said, leading him from the elevator and directly into the most beautiful penthouse she'd seen in a very long time. She could only dream of being in a place like this. The kind of place that was a long way from the little wooden house that was home for the three members of the Bordeaux family.

"Very nice," Sean said walking across the living room to a glass wall, his panther-like gait a sure sign of confidence and ambition. His gaze shifted to the New York skyline, which was the epitome of breathtaking. The view of a picturesque sunset and skyscrapers that were almost as tall as the sky itself really should have been named the eighth wonder of the world.

"That's a big selling point with this particular property. The open floor plan is great for entertaining. The balcony is also a perfect setup for gatherings," Jade said, unlocking then opening the sliding door for him to step out into the cool evening air, a common occurrence for spring evenings in New York.

"You like what you see so far?" Jade asked, crossing the distance until she stood beside him.

Sean tilted his head downward. His gaze locked on hers as he grinned and said, "Definitely."

"Would you like to see the rest of the place?" Jade gestured toward the master bedroom.

"Sure, but before we do, can I ask just one more question since you conveniently ignored the first one?" He took her outstretched hand into his and prevented her from walking away.

An electric kind of energy flashed throughout her body. That was certainly a concern. She had learned when and how to play it safe. And Sean was as dangerous as they came. Having been an employee of an upscale escort service, she knew the hard fact that those at the top of the food chain were equally as slimy as those who were willing to do whatever it took to get there.

Jade had shielded herself from unwanted advances-of which there were many. But years of going without a human touch had built up something inside of her that needed to be extinguished. A man like Sean Wright would be a perfect choice, but there was no way she would go there. Being with a man like him came with too many problems.

She steadied her breathing and her voice. "Go ahead."

"You care to tell me the real reason you don't want to work with me?"

"Is that why we're here?" Jade questioned, trying to keep her voice level. "I hope not because my time is valuable, and I don't need to waste it by entertaining that question."

"I believe in making the most of an opportunity. If I have a question, I ask. So, do you plan on providing an answer or should I just assume that you don't have a reason at all?"

Her eyes met his. "I didn't make it clear the first, second, and third time?"

"You don't feel it's the right job for you," he smirked. "But we both know that's not it at all."

"Okay, then I'll be honest," she shot back. "I don't like the way you do business. I don't like that money means more to you than people. You're not the type of person I'm interested in dealing with. Does the truth satisfy you?"

Sean was silent for a few spells, then, "And you came to this conclusion based on what? Because if I recall, you've never done business with me." He closed the distance between them. "So cut the bull and tell me what is it about me that frightens you so much," he snapped.

"Nothing frightens me," she countered. "But I am wise, and wisdom tells me to steer clear of you." She stepped back and didn't realize how close she was to the wall.

"So that's it." He inched closer. "You're not afraid of doing business with me. What scares you is the fact that we're very much alike. Isn't that right? We both know what we want and would risk it all to make it happen. What frightens you the most," his mouth nearly touched hers, "is knowing what will happen if you let your guard down." His lips lightly brushed against hers and she trembled with an anticipation so strong she almost reached up and pulled him to her.

Then he abruptly moved away, walked toward the circular staircase, but tossed over his shoulder, "I believe you said there was more to see."

 
( Continued... ) 

© 2016 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, L.A. Lewis.  Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author's written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only. 


Purchase Double Down and Dirty
     
 


 

Pursuing Your Passion in a Godly Fashion Prayers for the Creative Christian and Entrepreneur by Nigeria Lockley


Pursuing Your Passion in a Godly Fashion 
Prayers for the Creative Christian and Entrepreneur by Nigeria Lockley 
Wheatley Award Winner and entrepreneur, Nigeria Lockley explores how to use the power of prayer to strategically manage your business and keep the faith in the process. Learn how to make God the CEO of all your endeavors and connect with Him on a deeper level with, Pursuing Your Passion in a Godly Fashion.

Christians are often taught that God must be involved in all that they do. Yet there is little guidance on how to get God more involved in our business ventures in a meaningful way. In Pursuing Your Passion in a Godly Fashion, author Nigeria Lockley explores areas of struggle that creative Christians and entrepreneurs must overcome in order to excel.



Pursuing Your Passion in a Godly Fashion will address topics like:
* Alignment of Purpose-what you want must be His will.

* Finance-understand that you should not feel guilty about earning money using your gift, however money, money, money can't be your mantra.

* Networking-who you know may be important, but God has already ordained divine connections for you.

* Discretion and Discernment-know the difference and use them both.

Through transparent testimony, biblical guidance, and a prayer strategy pulled from the book of Nehemiah, Lockley provides believers with prayers to take the pursuit of their passion out of this world.  The paperback edition includes space for readers to develop their own prayers for each issue dealt with in the book.
     
 
  



Excerpt from the Chapter on Balance
  

There are some who say living a balanced life while chasing your dreams is a myth. You've got to relentlessly throw yourself into the work, striving day and night to get things done and make it happen. Then there are those who believe you need to be balanced instead of busy. I spent three years throwing myself relentlessly into the work. I was on for twenty-six hours a day (yes, I added extra hours to the day). Every day melded into one day until I found myself in the middle of my seventh period class clutching my chest. The next day, I was determined to prove God was able and I still made the trek from Manhattan to Brooklyn. However, before the bell for first period rang, I was out the door and on my way to the emergency room. After a battery of tests and several trips to every doctor under the sun to find out what was the catalyst of my chest pains, I discovered that my body was basically falling apart. I had low iron and a cyst.  
It seemed like I needed to lock myself in a closet and say that strength prayer over and over again until I saw it fulfilled, but what I needed was balance. Every day I was trying to give one hundred percent of me to my writing, to my students, to my children, to my husband, and to God. I was trying to be everywhere at once, and that's God job.

The order of the situation was all off. God has to be first every day and above all things. The same amount of time that we willingly devote to our passion must be allotted to God. He must be a part of all of our workings to maintain balance. Look at how He created the world-one day at a time and everything in order.

To pursue your passion in a Godly fashion means putting God first and everything else in its proper order. Does this life require long nights? Yes, especially when you're just starting out; however, bouncing around like a balloon whose air has just been let out is not a requirement. Don't live an unbalanced life that will have you everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Is this possible? Your gut is telling you it's impossible to achieve balance and run a business. 

But it is possible. God was busy establishing the whole entire world as we know it, and He was never as frazzled as we are. We're just trying to build brands, write books, and open new businesses. We just have to follow the blueprint He left us. The only true way to find balance is to seek God. God worked on a different aspect of creation each day. He built the whole world one day at a time.


( Continued... )

© 2016 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Nigeria Lockley. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author's written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.
 
     
 


 

Alone by M.J. Kane (The Butterfly Memoirs Book 5)


Alone by M.J. Kane  
(The Butterfly Memoirs Book 5)  
When Derrick's brother drives the family business into bankruptcy, Derrick is left without a job and only one choice: start over. With a new job waiting in Atlanta, the only other thing he's looking for is a woman who's willing to fit his no-strings-attached relationship policy. But then he runs into Kelli, a woman with a smart mouth who challenges him in every way. She'd be perfect ... if it weren't for the fact she had kids.
Shortly after giving birth to her son, Kelli's husband announced that he wanted a divorce. Forced to move in with her newlywed sister, Kelli is faced with raising two young children on her own, finding affordable housing, and landing a job that will pay her bills. The last thing she needs or wants is a man in her life. But when her brother-in-law's best friend shows up for dinner, it's impossible to ignore the sexual attraction.
Fate and finances have another plan, though, forcing them into living under the same roof. Despite their differences, Derrick finds himself breaking his own relationship rules. But as his luck would have it, just when he thinks he's ready to make a commitment, tragedy strikes close to home and, with it, issues from his past that force him to risk it all.

Excerpt: Alone by M.J. Kane 


"Mr. Derrick, look!" Christina waved a drawing in front of me.

"Leave Mr. Derrick alone, sweetie. I'm sure he doesn't want to-"

"Hold on," I interrupted. "You don't speak for me." I waited for Kelli to get my point, then turned my attention back to the young girl before me. I examined her drawing. "Not bad. You can draw a lot better than I can." I winked; she laughed. I made my way to the washing machine and turned on the water. "What is it?"
"It's a house."
I sat at the table across from her while waiting for the wash tub to fill and looked at the drawing again. "Nice house."
"My daddy draws houses," Christina said with pride. She laid the picture flat on the table and selected another crayon.
"Does he now?" I looked over at Kelli for an explanation.
"He's an architect." Her expression went flat, so did her voice. Her attention went to the pot she was stirring. "Can you draw a house?" Little brown eyes the same shade of brown as her mother's looked up at me.
I chuckled. "Not as good as you, but I can build a house."
"With sticks and rocks and stuff?"
On the other side of the kitchen, Kelli laughed.
"No, I build with wood and blocks and stuff."
"Legos!" Her enthusiasm was infectious.
I laughed. "No, I build real houses, like this one." I held my arms out, pointed to the walls and ceiling of the room we were in for emphasis.
Christina's eyes grew wide as she looked around the kitchen. "Ooo...," then her face scrunched up in thought. "If you can build it, you can draw it, too!"
Words of wisdom from a five-year-old kid.
She slid a blank sheet of paper in front of me. "You can use my crayons if you want."
"Christina...," Kelli shot her daughter a look of warning.
"It's okay." I met Kelli's expression with one that encouraged her not to stop her daughter. "She's right, let me see." I slid the paper in front of me and selected a black crayon, then stared at the paper. My mind went blank.
When was the last time I'd drawn something? Feeling stupid, I scratched my head, then looked over at the little artist. She'd started adding windows and doors.
Christina looked over at me. "What are you waiting for?" She giggled. "It's easy. Mommy can do it. Mommy, draw a house!" She waved a blank sheet of paper in her mother's direction.
Kelli wiped her hands on her pants, then joined us at the table. I looked at her, but she refused to meet my gaze. Within minutes, Kelli had lines on paper that took the shape of a two-story house. The details were proportioned to the point of perfection. This picture seemed to have come from memory and not imagination. I glanced at Christina's paper. It was a crude version of her mother's.
They must have been drawing the house they used to live in.
"See, Mommy's good, too!" Christina got up from the table, walked to her mother, and kissed her cheek. "Mommy, can I watch TV?"
"Sure, baby." She hugged her daughter.
"Mr. Derrick, you and Mommy can use my crayons. I'll get them when you're done, 'k?"
"Thanks."
Christina skipped out of the room, leaving us to sit in silence.
I drew a few lines on my sheet of paper. Instead of a house, the blueprints from my current job came to mind. I went with that and decided to see exactly how much I remembered.
Kelli continued her picture. Details such as windows, doors, and landscaping emerged.
Damn, she was good.
"Looks like she gets her artistic skills from you." I leaned forward a bit. "Lots of details. I don't think I could imagine all of that."
"It's easy to do when it used to be reality." She sat her crayon down, stared at the image, then ripped it to shreds. The expression on her face was hard.
I focused on my paper and gave her a moment to move past her dark place. Once the image was confetti, I figured she would be able to talk.
"I'm sorry about earlier." I didn't look at her. "I was tired. It won't happen again." I risked a peek and saw Kelli had stopped moving.
"Thank you for cleaning up." Her eyes stayed on the scraps of paper in her hands.
"No problem. Like I said, I didn't ask you to do anything. I don't expect you to do anything for me either. I know you've been through a lot and being here and not there," I indicated the pile of paper. "Can't be easy. Now I'm here, too. I don't know what you have against me. If I've done something to offend you, I apologize. But I'm not him. Don't take your anger and pain out on me, okay?"
Kelli looked up at me. It was obvious she was trying her best to control her emotions, but I could still see the damp corners of her eyes. "Sorry."
I nodded. "I'll stay out of your way as much as possible, but if you need help with anything around here, let me know. Contrary to what you believe, my mother didn't raise an animal."
Kelli squeezed her eyes shut, put her hands on her face. "Sorry about that, too."
"You get a free pass...this time."
Kelli laughed a little and looked me in the eye.
I found myself staring as she wiped those cat-like slits with her knuckle. Sad eyes, but beautiful just the same.

( Continued... )
© 2016 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, M.J. Kane. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author's written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only. 
 

Alone by M.J. Kane  (Book 5 of The Butterfly Memoirs) 
Interracial Romance, African-American Women's Fiction, Contemporary Fiction


Purchase Alone by M.J. Kane (The Butterfly Memoirs Book 5) 

AMAZON: https://amzn.com/B01M7XYIFD  


KOBO:  https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/alone-79 


     
 


 

A Perfect Caress by Nana Prah


A Perfect Caress by Nana Prah

Chapter One

Tackling a person to the ground in order grab the last piece of cake would be wrong. Lanelle Murphy had trouble convincing herself of this little truth. Maybe not so much wrong as bad and kind of depressing. Unless it ended up being the best cake ever baked.

Her gaze never wandered from the prize while a suspected perpetrator remained in the periphery. At five feet eight inches, Lanelle increased her already long stride to eat up more of the ground at a faster rate.

Their hands landed on the clear plastic container hold­ing the triple-layered moist chocolate cake covered with scrumptious, rich chocolate icing at the same time.

Since Lanelle's palm touched the container with his warm fingers wrapped around hers, it meant she'd gotten to it first. The cake belonged to her. The stranger's resign­ing breath pushed away any idea she may have had of el­bowing him in the ribs before running toward the cashier and dropping money on the counter without stopping.

Lanelle tilted her head to the man without deigning to look at him. If she gave him her full attention, she'd do the kind thing and relinquish the treat. After receiving a disappointing update about a project close to her heart, she deserved it.

After almost two years of planning and fund-raising to build a new neonatal unit in the hospital, Lanelle felt like giving up. Dealing with the other members of the hospi­tal board had proved tedious.

The problems creeping up with the construction set their timeline back and deepened the financial ditch. The funds they'd raised had run out faster than expected, and she couldn't understand how it had happened. They'd been meticulous in their calculations. After going through the books with her personal accountant this past week, they'd found nothing amiss.

Maybe she should've accepted her father's help when he'd offered it, but she figured it couldn't be difficult to construct a hospital wing. It wasn't like they were building a whole hospital from the ground up. It turned out that more went into it than she'd researched.
Lanelle had been trained by the best to ensure things happened the way they should, but this project was draining the life out of her.

She needed this cake. "Hi," she said instead of telling him to get his paw off her pastry.
"Hello. It looks like we both want the same piece of cake."

The deep rumble of his voice enticed her but wouldn't detract her. "Looks that way." Didn't this man know not to get between a woman and her chocolate? She turned her head to get a good look at the enemy. They stood so close she had to angle her head back in order to see his face.

Great. The guy who threatened her sanity turned out to be at least six-two. She could've picked a better day to wear her cutest pair of Tabitha Simmons ballerina flats.

More than his height caused her breath to hitch. His sienna-brown eyes, contrasting with skin almost as rich and dark as the cake, made for a gorgeous man.

"Would you be interested in the vanilla, by any chance?" His grin drew her attention to full lips covering a set of even white teeth, adding to the squishy feeling in her stomach.

"As tempting as it looks with those rainbow sprinkles, I'd prefer the chocolate." She'd finished playing nice with the handsome stranger sporting the cutest little Afro she'd seen in a while and pulled the cake toward her. "Since my hand is on the container, it means I reached it first, so technically it's mine."

"On a normal day I'd agree, but I need this cake."

She snorted. "Let me guess. You have PMS and you're about to take down anyone who gets in the way of get­ting your fix." Her frown melded into a grin at his burst of laughter.

"No. My niece is about to find out if she's still in re­mission from the cancer she beat last year. She asked me last night to pick her up a piece of chocolate cake from this cafeteria when I came to join the meeting after her MRI. She insisted no other would do."

Lanelle squinted in an attempt to assess if he'd given her a line. Detecting no guile in his expression, she re­leased the box. He didn't let go of her hand.

Sliding her fingers out of his grasp, she crossed her arms over her chest. "I hope your niece is healthy."

"Thank you. I know she'll appreciate that I almost got beaten up for her cake." He held out his right hand. "I'm Dante Sanderson."

"I wouldn't have fought you. Maybe just taken you down," she mumbled as she placed her hand in his. She pulled it away at the bizarre sensation of tingles racing up her arm to her scalp.

She tucked her hand behind her, confused at her body's reaction.

He raised an eyebrow. "You think it's a possibility?"

"A fact."
 
 
 
Text Copyright © 2016 by Nana Prah. Cover Art Copyright © 2016 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited. Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A. Cover art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited. All rights reserved.  ® and ™ are trademarks owned by Harlequin Enterprises Limited or its affiliated companies, used under license.
     
 


 

Second House from the Corner: A Novel by Sadeqa Johnson


Second House from the Corner: A Novel
by Sadeqa Johnson



In the tradition of  I Don’t Know How She Does It,  Second House from the Corner centers on the story of Felicia Lyons, a stay-at-home mother of three drowning in the drudgeries of play dates, lost pacifiers and potty training who occasionally wonders what it would be like to escape the demands of motherhood.

"A captivating tale to savor about a woman whose buried past threatens her picture perfect family life. Felicia is a wonderfully flawed, compelling main character, one who has stayed with me long after I finished the book. A winning novel from a writer to watch." -Benilde Little, bestselling author

Felicia Lyons, a ­­­­­­­ stressed out stay-at-home mom, struggles to sprint ahead of the demands of motherhood while her husband spends long days at the office. Felicia taps, utters mantra, and breathes her way through most situations, but on some days, like when the children won’t stop screaming her name or arguing over toy trucks and pretzel sticks, she wonders what it would be like to get in her car and drive away.

Then one evening the telephone rings, and in a split second the harried mother’s innocent fantasy becomes a hellish reality. The call pulls her back into a life she’d rather forget. Felicia hasn’t been completely honest about her upbringing, and her deception forces her return to the Philadelphia of her childhood, where she must confront the family demons and long buried secrets she thought she had left behind.

From a phenomenal fresh voice in fiction, comes the compelling story of what happens when the dream falls apart. Sadeqa Johnson's Second House from the Corner is an unforgettable tale of love, loss, rediscovery, and the growing pains of marriage.

Felicia Lyons is a character who mothers can identify with and laugh along with. You can't help but cheer for her in Johnson's engaging and well-written novel.






PRAISE FOR SADEQA JOHNSON 

“A captivating tale to savor…Felicia is a wonderfully flawed, compelling main character, one who has stayed with me long after I finished the book. A winning novel from a writer to watch.”  —Benilde Little, bestselling author of Welcome to My Breakdown and Good Hair


"Sadeqa Johnson is one of those authors you rarely find these days. Her gift of writing sings on every page. When reading her second novel, Second House From the Corner, you can't help feeling like you just received a letter from an old friend.... or an old lover. It is a must read!"  —Here's the Story Bookstore in Union, NJ



Excerpt from Second House from the Corner: A Novel

PART 1
To love means to embrace and at the same time to withstand many endings, and many many beginnings— all in the same relationship. — Clarissa Pinkola Estes


The Witching Hour


That four-hour window between after-school pickup and bedtime?  It’s like walking a tightrope with groceries in both hands. The slightest hiccup will land any mother in a quagmire with her legs in the air. For me the whole afternoon was a fail. I locked myself out when I went to pick the kids up from school, but didn’t notice the missing house keys until I pulled into the driveway. The snacks had been demolished at the playground, so the hunger meltdown began on the drive to my husband’s office for the spare key (a drive that usually takes seven minutes, but ended up being twenty round-trip because of traffic). Things got even shoddier once I discovered we were out of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. My children will not eat baked chicken unless I dip the pieces in buttermilk, roll them in cornflakes, and bake until crispy. The oven was preheated, the potatoes were boiling for the mash, and I was thirty-three minutes off schedule without the magic cereal that makes my chicken finger-licking good. No time to change the dinner plan. So I swap in seasoned bread crumbs and cross my toes that they won’t notice.

“Mama, this doesn’t taste right.” My son, Rory, frowns.

“Just eat it. There are children right down the street who are starving.”

“But it’s disgusting,” whines Twyla.

How does a four-year-old know what disgusting is?

“Just eat.”

“I have to go pee pee and poo poo.”

“Stop smiling at me. Mommy, she’s smiling.”

“Can we just have dessert?”

“Maaaaaaaa.”

“Mommmmm.”

“Momeeeeeeee.”

Like a song on repeat. Like it’s the last word in the English dictionary. They call “Mommy” until my lips pucker, eyebrows knit. And it takes all my strength not to respond with that inside voice that nobody hears, that you wish would stay quiet, that tells the truth you don’t want anyone to know. That damn voice is hollering. Shut the fuck up!

At what point do I get to shout What the fuck do you want from me? I wouldn’t drop an F-bomb in front of the mommy crew at the park, and I hate to see parents on the street cursing out their kids. But here in my kitchen with everything working against me, I would like to liberate myself just once and let the profanity rip. It’s the nipping at my nerves that gets me. The feasting on my flesh like starved sea urchins. Them, fighting like thieves for their individual piece of me. Me feeling like I have nothing left to give. Any mother who says that she has never felt like her whole life was being sucked out through her nostrils is a damn liar. I feel it every day. Especially when I don’t get at least five hours of shut-eye, like last night.

Twyla (whom I call Two) walked her four-year-old self into my room every hour complaining about being scared. Scared of what? The curtain, the bed, the wall—she had an excuse for each visit. Never mind that she had to walk past her father to get to me. They never bother him. It’s always Mommy. So I upped and downed all night while he slept like a hibernating black bear. 
Breathe.  
I hate when I feel like this. My chest rising and falling. Momentum of failure piled. Anxiety has swept through my belly and is curled against my organs like a balled fist. Just one happy pill would make it all better. But I’ve been on the happiness-comes-from within kick for a few months, so no more pills. Instead I’ve started tapping.

Tapping out my emotions so I can get back to feeling right. It’s that new technique where I say what my issue is and use my fingertips and hit my meridian points until I’m back to even. It usually takes about five minutes and several rounds before I feel centered and strong. My husband, Preston, calls it woo-woo, but he’s not at home with three children all day. I am, and I have to use what I’ve got to carry me through. I turn my back to the kids at the kitchen table, take two fingers, and tap the side of my hand while whispering my setup statement.

“Even though I feel stressed out, anxious, and tired of being alone and responsible for my kids I love and accept myself.”

“Mommy, what are you doing?”

“Calming down.” I try whispering the statement again but Tywla is out of her seat.

“My stomach hurts.”

Rory puts his fork down. “I’m full.”

My fingers stop. I haven’t made it through one minute, much less the five I need. I take a deep breath and usher everyone upstairs. Maybe Preston will surprise me and come home early. Thedamn voice laughs. When was the last time he did that? He never makes it home before their bedtime and I bet that’s on purpose.

Rory moans. “That’s my boat.”

“Dad gave it to me.”

“No, he didn’t.”

Breathe. “Cut it out and get undressed.”

I run their bath and sneak in a quick tap. Repeating my setup statement, I move from my hand to my forehead, to the side of my eye, under my eye, under my lip, under my chin, full hand on chest, bra strap and top of the head. Fill my lungs with air and exhale. Twyla and Rory are back. I read my body. Better.

“Can I bring this in the tub, pretty please?” Twyla clutches the mesh bag with their toys.

“Sure.”

They climb into the bathtub and play. This should give me a few minutes alone with the baby.

“Guys, I’m going to change Liv into her pajamas. No water on the floor.”

“Can we have more bubbles?”

“No.”

“Awwww, man,” Rory replies, imitating Swiper the Fox. “You only gave us a little bit.”

I cut my eyes in the direction of my six-year-old and hold his gaze for a beat longer so that he knows I mean business.

The upstairs of our house is small, and it only takes three long strides to the girls’ bedroom. Liv, the baby, squirms in my arms and I find solace burying my head in her neck. I could sit and smell this child all day. At ten months old, she still has that fresh-to-the-earth smell that forces me to slow my pace. It’s hard to look at her without feeling deep sighs of relief. She is our miracle child.

When I was twenty weeks pregnant with Liv, a routine sonogram found something suspicious. I was sent to the Robert Woods Johnson Hospital in New Brunswick to see a pediatric cardiologist. There was a pinch in her heart that could hemorrhage. Her chances of being stillborn were high. When the doctor suggested that we terminate the pregnancy, I was bilious. By then I had already heard her heart beat, felt her flutter and kick, loved her. Preston didn’t even look my way when he simply told the batch of white coats that we would take our chances.

On our way home, the traffic on the Garden State Parkway held us hostage. I slobbered and blubbered against the passenger seat window, trudging through my past, knowing which karmic act brought this down on our family. My husband kept patting my hand, but when that didn’t work, he pulled our ice-cream-truck size SUV over to the side of the road and pressed the hazard lights.

“Foxy, look at me.” He is the only person who calls me Foxy, and even with hearing my personal pet name, I couldn’t bring my eyes to his. Tilting my damp chin, he forced eye contact. “This is not your fault.”

But it is.

“You trust me?”

I shake my head, of course, because there really is no other response when your husband asks you that question.

“So the baby is healed. It’s done, no more worries.” Preston clapped his hands, as if he had just entered a contract with God.

“Now stop blaming yourself, you didn’t do anything.”

As our vehicle crawled up the Parkway, he informed me that we’d name her Liv.

“Not short for anything. Just Liv.”

I knew what I had done to deserve this even though my husband did not. I wanted it to be all right. Needed something to cling too, so I agreed to everything that Preston offered because the only hope I had for a favorable outcome was him. I had burned my bridge with God a long time ago.

( Continued... )

© 2016 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Sadeqa Johnson. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author's written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.



Purchase Second House from the Corner: A Novel
Contemporary Women Fiction


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About the Author
SADEQA JOHNSON is a former public relations manager who spent years working with well-known authors such as JK Rowling, Bebe Moore Campbell, Amy Tan and Bishop TD Jakes before becoming an author herself. Her debut novel, LOVE IN A CARRY-ON BAG was hailed by Ebony.com as “this summer’s hottest read.” It was the recipient of the 2013 Phillis Wheatley award for Best Fiction and the 2012 USA Best Book award for African-American fiction. Originally from Philadelphia, she now resides in Virginia with her husband and three children. SECOND HOUSE FROM THE CORNER is her second novel.  For more visit: http://www.sadeqajohnson.com 


     
 


 

SORRY TO TELL YOU MR. TRUMP YOU’RE WRONG ABOUT US by Leah Reynolds


SORRY TO TELL YOU MR. TRUMP
YOU’RE WRONG ABOUT US
by Leah Reynolds

If you have been following the election coverage, you are probably at the point where a lot of Americans are; you simply want to get it over with and return to your regularly scheduled lives. With this election, however, we must do more than just return to our lives, we must purpose to continue educating our youth and the community on the contributions and accomplishments of the black community.

As I watched the speeches delivered by each candidate, I couldn’t help but wonder if either of them had any real knowledge of the black community aside from what they see on television. This thought was further hammered home after Trump's attempt to gain support from the black community with his, “What do you have to lose” speech. Read the article: Donald Trump speaking to African American and Hispanic voters: http://wpo.st/CKy72


According to Trump, the black community is “living in poverty” and “crime stricken” neighborhoods. Contrary to what some would like us to believe the entire black community is not in complete desolation and destruction. Based on the findings in Nielsen’s 2016 Report, African-American Millennials are driving the wave of social change and digital advancements. 
Quoting from the Nielsen website, "African-Americans are exuberant and reflective—optimistic about present-day advances in income, education, entrepreneurship and health care, and determined to forge a better future as influential leaders and catalysts of social awareness against discrimination and social injustice.

This latest report highlights African-Americans’ economic and cultural gains and continues to shine a spotlight on how African-American Millennials are forging ahead in their use of technology and social media to raise awareness and evoke a national discussion on civic and political issues. As African-Americans, particularly younger Millennials, continue to develop and expand their influence on mainstream America, companies are making changes to reach this culture-rich group."

The Nielsen Report also documents that in 2015 the African-American community controlled nearly $1.2 trillion in buying power. Considering African-American Millennials only make up 14% of the U.S. Milennial population it’s astonishing that they possess $162 billion in buying power alone. This number is expected to grow to nearly $1.4 trillion by 2020. The number of African-American’s with annual incomes over $100,000 nearly doubled to 12% in 2014 with numbers continuing to climb, while the number of households with annual incomes under $25,000 has been on a steady decline.

Nielsen has been reporting on the purchasing and consumption habits of the African-American community for nearly five years. The data presented within this report dispels many myths about the true power of the community. High school dropout rates are on a decline with 89% of Millennials graduating high school while college enrollment is increasing, especially among African-American women.  With 91% of African-Americans owning smartphones and over half report spending over an hour or more daily on various social networking sites, they are connected to each other in real-time to ban together on any cause, project or movement that moves them.

Millennials are proving the naysayers wrong and showing the world that the African-American community has been underestimated for far too long.


YOUNG, CONNECTED AND BLACK: AFRICAN-AMERICAN MILLENNIALS ARE DRIVING SOCIAL CHANGE AND LEADING DIGITAL ADVANCEMENT MR. TRUMP!
You can view and download the 2016 Nielsen Report – Young, Connected and Black, go here.
At Nielsen, they study consumers in more than 100 countries to give you the most complete view of trends and habits worldwide. According to their website, Diversity & Inclusion is very important to society and to business. "It’s not just a goal, but a global business imperative. It’s about each of us embracing the talents and ideas of people with different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives to drive our continued success in providing clients with the information they need to succeed."


About the Author

Sage (aka Leah Reynolds) was born and raised in Huntingtown, MD. She has been married to her best friend, for over ten years and they have two amazing sons. She is also an Autism advocate and a parent of an autistic child, which inspired her to write a non-fiction book on raising a child on the Autism spectrum, The Optimistic Autistic: Our Testimony.

Sage also writes mysteries centered on characters that are close to the heart. She has vowed to produce books that encourage the reader to deliberately read; not just for entertainment but to read with the intention of solving the mystery along with the Detective.

Her belief that, “if you don’t see the books you’re searching for write them” has inspired her to write with a purpose and a passion.

Check out all of the books written by Sage
http://www.amazon.com/Sage/e/B01CC290ZE 
 
 
 
     
 


 

African Americans vs. the United States of America Can the US be sued for C-PTSD?


African Americans vs. the United States of America
Can the US be sued for C-PTSD?


Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is defined as a mental condition triggered by witnessing or experiencing a single traumatic event. Symptoms of the illness include flashbacks, uncontrollable thoughts, and severe anxiety. Many war weary soldiers return from combat with crippling PTSD symptoms, making this issue a severe problem in many communities across the country.

Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) is a condition involving long-term exposure to emotional trauma in which a victim has little or absolutely no control over and no hope of escape.  C-PTSD is a condition involving long-term exposure to emotional trauma in which a victim has little or absolutely no control over and no hope of escape.

Anyone watching the news or scanning through their Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat feeds can tell that the United States has become a hot seat for tense racial relations. In fact, we are at a boiling point. Some are proclaiming that racial tensions are at the worst they’ve ever been. I disagree, however, racism has not changed, but thanks to modern technology, it is being exposed.

While social media and camera phones have made it easier to capture and share instances of hate and oppression with the masses, the truth is racism, hate and violence against African Americans have always been a source of fear, anger and anxiety from the moment our ancestors’ feet hit U.S. soil.

Lynching, bombed churches, beatings and murders at the hand of those who swore to protect and serve, discrimination and prejudices plaguing the working environment can have anyone reeling with strong emotions, especially those with brown skin.

For every African American who claims to have never experienced racism, there are many whose experiences haunt them months, years and even decades after the incident(s). Some have been traumatized by racism and hate to the point of no return; where they are fearful of leaving their homes or interacting with others.

How many mothers of Black boys have watched the news with an inherent fear for their sons? 


African Americans have fears and anxieties that rob them of their sleep and their peace that no other race even considers when they arise in the morning. What will happen if my son is pulled over? What will happen if my father is walking down the street and someone assumes that he is a threat?

As a parent of a teen aged child in this world, there is always a nagging thought plaguing me when he leaves from my presence. 


It seems like every week there is a story being shared through television and social media websites of an unjust killing or an issue of racial strife. Couple this bombardment of information with daily life annoyances, frustrations and tasks it is enough to drive any sane person, mad. One can actually become overwhelmed with the amount of negativity being spread online and in the news.

What would happen if a group of African Americans filed a class action lawsuit against the government for C-PTSD and emotional distress?   Would they be successful?  The African-American community has endured centuries of stress and turmoil, many of which go unaddressed and untreated. How would those years of stress translate into a monetary judgment?  
Some would argue that stress as a result of racial tensions is nothing but a convenient excuse for today’s troubles.

What are your thoughts?



About the Author
Sage (aka Leah Reynolds) was born and raised in Huntingtown, MD. She has been married to her best friend, for over ten years and they have two amazing sons. She is also an Autism advocate and a parent of an autistic child, which inspired her to write a non-fiction book on raising a child on the Autism spectrum, The Optimistic Autistic: Our Testimony.

Sage also writes mysteries centered on characters that are close to the heart. She has vowed to produce books that encourage the reader to deliberately read; not just for entertainment but to read with the intention of solving the mystery along with the Detective.

Her belief that, “if you don’t see the books you’re searching for write them” has inspired her to write with a purpose and a passion. 

Check out all of the books written by Sage
http://www.amazon.com/Sage/e/B01CC290ZE 
 
 
 
 
     
 


 

Preparing Your Work Space for a Post Trump Election by Gregory Harris


Preparing Your Work Space for a Post Trump Election
by Gregory Harris


All of us should be considering and preparing for the world as it will be after the 2016 election. The reality is that regardless of who wins or loses, the attitudes towards minorities, equality and racial relations is definitely changing and the discourse on bringing us all together will take major steps backwards.

The angry and now outspoken supporters of the Trump following and their negative, but pervasive discontent will undoubtedly continue well past Nov 8.  Now that it appears Trump has won, there will be triumphant and loud endorsement of the reversal of all things previously held as truths of racial inequities and inequality in work and life options for minorities. Implicit bias will rise to explicit action based on the current rhetoric. That rhetoric gives rise to economic anxiety. That anxiety means loss of jobs and opportunities for white America, but comes based in racial anxiety that says Mexicans, blacks and immigrant Muslims are getting all the jobs and opportunities that are left after Obama has let jobs go to China and India. Unfair to white Americans and requires a taking back of America. But back from who?
 How do you take America back from these very real statistics?
* Black unemployment: 8.8% vs 4.9 for whites (Dept of Labor 2016)
* Poverty levels: 26.2% black, 23.6% Hispanic, 10.1% white (2014 Census)
* Black children: 38% live in poverty, steady since 2011 (PEW 2015)
* Billionaires: black-2, white-500+ ( Forbes 2015)
* 1 Black female CEO in Fortune 500 ( Forbes 2015)
* 1 in 3 black men will go to prison in their lifetime (UN sentencing 2013)
* Jailed men: black 1 in 15, Hispanic 1 in 26, white 1 in 106 ( ACLU 2011)
Although the data tells a different story, minorities (black, brown, women, LGBT) will be facing a new reality. We will live in a world where the angry, racist and disenfranchised members of the majority will now believe in their own rhetoric and the beliefs and biases that they have silently held onto for years to be true in the now. Trump and his movement have given them a new emboldened voice, a new endorsement of their delusions.

However, now is not a good time for a backwards change with all of the consistent affronts to the minority population. Police killings, a justice system that targets black males and the lack of advancement opportunities in the black and brown communities, is not a good environment for further backlash. There will be reactions from the minority communities, but how each of us responds in the workplace is key to changing and managing fear and discontent on both sides.

For those of us who are employed, we have the unique opportunity to reach more civil minded or liked minded individuals who can recognize disconnects in the dialogue. It becomes our charge to change the racialized landscape and attitudes while we protect our jobs and the future of those coming behind us. Sometimes we do this ‘one naysayer at a time’ but do it we must. The alternatives are grim indeed.

When we do see opportunities to change attitudes, perceptions and fix the world we live in, we now have a challenge to (continue or start) working within the system in our work space for the benefit of us all. You and I must initiate our personal movement towards the elimination of implicit bias and racism in our workspace and educating our peers, associates, and comrades on the benefits and potentials of working together.

But first, ‘To thine own self be true’—think about the business you are in: will it be immediately affected by a change in administrations? Good or bad with Hillary or Trump? Will there be Green Company failures with Trump in office? Will interest rate changes affect your company’s ability to grow? Will social cuts loom for local, state and government employees? Although none of these changes would have effect immediately, consider what might happen in your industry and business and prepare accordingly with some thoughtful thinking and planning on what to watch for to predict and respond to impending change.

When the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly called the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare became a reality, many medical manufacturers cut staff or benefits, etc., to protect earnings in preparation for additional taxes and cost they thought were coming. They closed plants, reduced staffing, etc. to protect earnings.

In this hostile climate, what and who may affect businesses trying to get away with cutting first? Is the business you are in secure? Are the real leaders in your organization part of the ‘Make America Great Again’ movement, or believers in civil rights for everyone?

Consider all of the above questions as you review your current occupation. Evaluate where YOU are and make your plan. This is the first step in preparing for the Post Trump Election.


About the Author

An author, a public speaker, and businessman, Gregory pens his new book Overcoming Bias and Racism in Your Workspace. Using his experiences with racism as a child raised in a military family in the poor coal and steel region/area /country of eastern Ohio, as well as his professional experiences at IBM and Wang Computers, Gregory shares tips and tools to effectively deal with the challenges of racism and bias head on.

A proud graduate of Morgan State University with over 20 years career experience as an executive, Gregory knows what it takes to survive and thrive in the world of business. A former Global Vice President Business Development and Marketing in the corporate realm, he continues to work as a consultant and coach encouraging success for all in the high tech arena.

With a passion for writing and reading, Gregory hopes to inspire and motivate others toward change. A youth sports coach in his spare time, Gregory always encourages others to be the best image of themselves and to stay true to one’s beliefs. Contact Gregory online at www.gregharrisauthors.com

 
     
 


 

How To Prepare For A Post Trump Election by Gregory Harris


How To Prepare For A Post Trump Election
by Gregory Harris


In the first article I talked about understanding and preparing for the changes that you may see in your business. That is essential to be prepared for how the marketplace may affect the direction your company is going and the opportunities that typically arise with change. It is good business to anticipate changes and have a plan that allows you to benefit from what the consequences (good or bad) are for your organization.

Many of us were surprised at the results of the election. It has slightly altered how many of us proceed (definitely slowed me down) and has given us more concern as we look for what is known and unknown in the future. Trump winning the 2016 Presidential election was not the change we were all anticipating when I wrote part 1 of this series.

Make sure you stay attuned to his revised commitments and changes versus the campaign threats. Some things may change in importance and some approaches may be altered as his administration and advisers formalize and prioritize actions.

You must consider what evolves and its effect on your market and employer.

We all expect that we will see an increase in micro-aggressions and sometimes outright racist behavior. In fact, we have seen in the news and on the Internet, negative and derogatory vocalizations towards brown and black people in schools and public places. We expected some negative comments based on the rhetoric from the campaign, however short term, there have been more emboldened individual reactions after the Trump win.

The good news is we've also seen an outpouring from American companies and their management (in very public ways) on the importance of diversity and working together. The CEO of AT&T has been very upfront in describing how he feels about maintaining efforts towards diversity, inclusion and support of Black Lives Matter. The CEO of Grub Hub was very outspoken on his post-election feelings towards people who supported the president elect and his commitment to a culture of inclusiveness in his organization (Bloomberg Nov 11). We also have seen many Fortune 500 companies stand up and speak to their employees in ways that indicated that they will continue to support the efforts to hire minorities LGBT women, etc. into their work environment and to help promote and guarantee their success (i.e., Microsoft announces diversity as a key factor in executive bonuses).

These announcements from the corporate leaders in the U.S. are very positive. We recognize that part of it is driven by the fact that much of their growth and success will be in appealing to the minority consumer and global marketplace. Minority participation in the workforce is also key if they want to have the best talent.

Likewise, their global image must have diversity efforts included as all other countries (buyers of their goods and services) are watching. Whether it's selling phones in South America or providing accounting services to the Middle East and Europe, people are watching.

The Fortune 500 companies recognize that they cannot afford to stumble in their diversity efforts and that racially diverse organization outperform non diverse ones by 35% (Forbes 2015). That's the good news. The bad news is that many of us don't work for Fortune 500 companies. Therefore, we must recognize that there are things we must do to be prepared personally and to be able to survive and thrive in this new environment.

Let me suggest three things that will make a difference for you:

1.
Make sure that you understand who the major players and decision-makers are in your organization upstream downstream and parallel to you. Org charts may not tell it all, so identify who really makes things happen. Understand where you think these major players are in their attitudes towards diversity and minorities and working together. I'm not asking you to stereotype but I am asking you to do thoughtful consideration of who those players are as they can be key as you watch changes in the business, changes in policies, changes in practices, that may affect you and others long and short term.

2.
With that analysis done look at who can be on your personal team. People who you can work with and who you can include as part of your virtual team of supporters and like-minded pursuers of doing the right thing - in policy and practice. These people become an informal network for you to make sure that the organization is moving in the right direction and is not impacted by the negative rhetoric of the outside environment. For both 1& 2 you must practice ‘Being There’ (participation in after work gatherings, lunches, informal get-togethers) to make sure you are around and present socially to hear the conversations and participate in the informal collaboration that does go on.

3.
Be prepared to handle micro-aggressions and some subtle racism that you may see. If you see implicit bias (unconsciously ingrained behaviors) - educate people who may not recognize or understand what they are doing wrong. If you see repeated micro-aggressions you should clarify for the individual(s) involved on why it is offensive and help people understand what is respectful of individuals and culture in any work environment, and the commensurate behavior that is expected from all. If you have an overt racist behavior, bigotry, discrimination, abuse, etc. you must deal with it as we always should – documenting and addressing with HR/management without hesitation.

In the last two weeks I have had multiple occurrences of people talking with me about concerns with the current environment and their relationship with management. One person was concerned with what they have seen as escalating negative attitudes towards her role and career. The current hired in expert (2 years in the job) had always been difficult but has become more antagonistic and negative towards her recently. Although she has a record of being a star performer, she has been treated with some distance and disdain by this new manager.

A black female in a very traditional white, middle-aged business structure (Commercial Financial Services) she has been with the company for almost 2 decades and has always met her management and performance goals. However, he has recently suggested that she would not be around for the long term.

We talked about her strategy for improving the relationship. First, we considered his background and the nature of his being. We recognize that he was a successful analytical social style who probably had never directly managed a woman or minority in the past. Additionally, he was a very conservative, Midwesterner with a stay at home wife and used to having his way. He did not seem to approve of her single mom status and didn’t really connect with any of the female employees or support staff. She and he had never had an informal or social interchange. She didn’t like or trust him.

I suggested that she approach him with a quid pro quo discussion. That discussion would revolve around three things. First, she recognizes his discomfort with her and understood, but her perceived differences/disadvantages actually made her a more determined and creative manager that resulted in her being successful for the organization. That he could count on. In addition, if she could spend more time with him learning big deal tactics and financing options, he could forecast more business or over-attain next year’s goals. Lastly, she would single-handedly approach the minority market to add to the organization's numbers and meet new diverse customer targets (something she wanted to do and upper management has wanted to see happen).

The discussion went well and now she is more optimistic as to her long-term success and ability to grow. They will have their first lunch meeting and joint customer visit soon. It was all quid pro quo (his time and mentoring her additional business). In fact the result is she is slowly converting him (at least in the business environment) and opening his eyes to the possibilities of working with women and minorities.

The second conversation was with a lady who had been approached by another manager who recognized her for getting things done, but did so by stereo typing her as a neck twirling, hand on the hip aggressive black female, none of which was true. She was shocked when it happened, but after our conversation, decided that if it happens again, she would very quickly address the fact that her success is based on making the right decisions and doing the right thing as any educated and prepared business person would do, period. I applauded her approach and strategy. She is more confident on what to do next. That’s how you handle micro-aggressions and the ignorant.

So in summary:

Speak up and provide simple responses and solutions that open eyes when the opportunities for education and conversion on Bias and Micro-aggressions occur.

Know and connect with the decision making structure and build your personal virtual team for success with planning and ‘Being There’.

Understand the political environment's effect on opportunities for the future for you, your market and business so you can make the right decisions and plan for your success.

We will continue to see change. We must plan and deal with change in ways that prepare us for the future. The post Trump election environment is just another opportunity for working with change for mutual success. We must always find ways to make the best of change when it happens.

Good Luck,
Gregory Harris

About the Author

An author, a public speaker, and businessman, Gregory pens his new book Overcoming Bias and Racism in Your Workspace. Using his experiences with racism as a child raised in a military family in the poor coal and steel region/area /country of eastern Ohio, as well as his professional experiences at IBM and Wang Computers, Gregory shares tips and tools to effectively deal with the challenges of racism and bias head on.

A proud graduate of Morgan State University with over 20 years career experience as an executive, Gregory knows what it takes to survive and thrive in the world of business. A former Global Vice President Business Development and Marketing in the corporate realm, he continues to work as a consultant and coach encouraging success for all in the high tech arena.

With a passion for writing and reading, Gregory hopes to inspire and motivate others toward change. A youth sports coach in his spare time, Gregory always encourages others to be the best image of themselves and to stay true to one’s beliefs. Contact Gregory online at www.gregharrisauthors.com

 
 
 
     
 


 

Intimate Conversation with Eartha Dunston



Eartha S. Dunston, writer, speaker, panelist and Social Worker, is the 2016 winner of the Black Pearls Literary Excellence Book of the Year Award for her debut children’s book, The Hair Adventures of Princess Lindsey Sidney.

Through her literary work, she aims to help children, parents, and educators, with difficult subject matters such a positive self-image, loss and grief. As a Clinical Social Worker and by triumphing through her own difficulties, including losing both parents in the same week when she was a young student, Eartha fully understands how simple, yet effective tools such as books can make a huge difference when combating these issues.

Award-winning aAuthor Eartha S. Dunston has been named honorary Board Member of  The Kidadah Project, INC. A non-profit mentoring program for girls in Atlanta, GA.

Eartha Dunston holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work with a concentration in Clinical Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University and graduated cum laude from ASU earning a Bachelor of Social Work from Alabama State University.

Eartha enjoys traveling, encouraging others through life’s obstacles, reading and crafting stories in all genres.

BPM: When did you get your first inkling to write?
I've always enjoyed writing. I started keeping a journal and writing poetry when I was in college. At the time, I never intended to share my writings publicly. I was going through a very tough time. Both of my parents were terminally ill. I was struggling emotionally, financially and every way imaginable. Writing consoled me. It was my escape. I always felt better because my journal and poems were the one place I could be totally raw and honest about my feelings. I could cry out to God and be mad at him at the same time for what I was going through; and no one was there to judge me.

One of my friends discovered a poem I had written, and he persuaded me to perform at his fraternity's poetry night. I protested with everything in me, but eventually gave in. I was determined not to cower. To my amazement, the audience loved it; and I received a standing ovation. I knew in that instant I wanted to write professionally one day. Within the next few days, several individuals and organizations invited me to perform on campus and at local spots in the city. It was an epiphany for me.

BPM: How did you advance the call for writing?

After graduate school, I settled into a comfortable career, and tucked my writing dreams away. However, the passion never died. I was visiting my brother in Atlanta one summer, when I received profound confirmation about my writing that changed my life. I dusted off all my old ideas and put work behind my faith and dreams. I started traveling the country to attend writing seminars and conferences. I ventured to New York, Houston, and Atlanta to name a few. I soaked up as much knowledge about the industry and writing process as I could. I attended seminars and writing classes featuring some of the best in the business.

A couple of the authors and I connected. One accomplished, seasoned author took me under her wings and began to motivate me with words of encouragement. Another well-known author referred me to her publicist, and things took off immediately. It got to the point where all the things I thought would be a challenge were lining up without much effort. It’s as if my dream started chasing me. I had written the Princess series of books a couple years earlier but never attempted to publish them. I had also started working on a novel. A couple of my writing mentors continued to nudge and encourage me to move forward. I could no longer mask the dream.

I knew it was time to launch my long-desired writing career. I knew all this was not coincidental, but divine connections orchestrated by God, in His timing.

BPM: Introduce your book, The Hair Adventures of Princess Lindsey Sidney and the characters.
The main character of the book, Princess Lindsey Sidney, admires her hair each day of the week as it transitions from straight to frizzy and all textures in between. My debut children’s book, entitled The Hair Adventures of Princess Lindsey Sidney, was birthed out of the struggles with my daughter’s hair. I was never good at hair. I cropped mine off years ago and never looked back. God really has a sense of humor. He gave me a beautiful daughter with the biggest, thickest, and coarsest hair I’ve ever encountered. I knew I was in trouble when it came to grooming it. I knew there had to be other parents going through the same struggles. I knew others could benefit from a book that celebrated various phases of our sometimes straight, sometimes kinky.

I would spend hours every Saturday on my daughter’s hair trying to wash it, comb it and make it pretty. It would never be as sleek or straight as I wanted. We would both be in tears. However, I noticed when her father and I told her she was a beautiful princess with the prettiest hair, she believed it! Even with a pile of untamed frizz on her head, she would stand in the mirror and admire it because we told her she was beautiful. It made me realize the power of instilling positive self-image in children at a young age. She thought her hair was beautiful in all its imperfection because we told her so.

BPM: Tell us about your passion for writing. Why do you write? What drives you?

I write because it’s liberating. I write because it is the one thing I will always do even if I never make a dime from it. I love writing and if my writing can help someone along the way, even better. Creating characters and giving them life is exhilarating. I ‘m driven by the power and emotion well developed characters evoke. I’ve gotten feedback from beta readers that tell me they can’t stop thinking about a particular character in my novel or they really felt as if they were there with the characters. When I hear that, I know I am on the right track. I will always have a passion for writing, whether it’s another children’s book, a simple article, or a fast-paced spy novel. I’m just getting started!
 
Interview/Speaking Engagement Requests
To schedule Eartha Dunston for an interview or speaking engagement contact: i_write@aol.com.  We welcome invitations to speak to schools, daycares, churches, libraries or home-school groups. Interviews can be in person, via Facetime or Skype. 

Website:       http://www.earthadunston.com
Twitter:        https://twitter.com/EarthaDunston
Pinterest:     https://www.pinterest.com/earthadunston
Instagram:   https://www.instagram.com/earthasdunston
Facebook:    http://www.facebook.com/EarthaSDunston
 
The Hair Adventures of Princess Lindsey Sidney is the first in a series of children’s books entitled the Princess Series. Each book aims to serve as a dialogue with children, parents, and educators to address such issues as positive self-image and dealing with the loss of a loved one.  Parents, The Hair Adventures of Princess Lindsey Sidney will instill a positive self-image in your little princess. It teaches children to appreciate their hair textures from straight to frizzy and all styles in between.  Additional teaching opportunities, such as learning the days of the week, are purposely crafted into the story.  Purchase  Link:   http://a.co/bqjdGRV

Age Level: 2 - 5 years old
Hardcover: 42 pages. Dimensions:  8 x 10 x 0.25
ISBN-13: 978-0996930277.  Publisher: JD Publishing (June 21, 2016)
Children's Books > Chapter Books & Readers > Beginner Readers

Available nationwide, on Nook and Kindle eReaders. On Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Distribution: Ingram Content Group





     
 


 

Intimate Conversation with Sheryl Lister




Sheryl Lister has enjoyed reading and writing for as long as she can remember. She writes contemporary and inspirational romance and romantic suspense. She been nominated for an Emma Award, RT Reviewer's Choice Award and named BRAB's 2015 Best New Author.

When she's not reading, writing or playing chauffeur, Sheryl can be found on a date with her husband or in the kitchen creating appetizers and bite-sized desserts. Sheryl resides in California and is a wife, mother of three daughters and a son-in-love, and grandmother to two very special little boys.

BPM:  Could you tell us something about your most recent work?  Is this book available on Nook and Kindle?
My latest book, Places In My Heart, features a pro football star who needs a new agent and a sassy attorney who wants to break into the world of sports management. This book was such fun for me because I am a diehard football fan. The chemistry between Omar and Morgan is electric from the start, but both need the other more professionally. It’s going to be interesting to see if they can keep those boundaries in place.

BPM:  Give us some insight into your main characters or speakers. What makes each one so special?

My heroine, Morgan Gray, is outspoken and doesn’t back down from a challenge. She goes for what she wants, regardless of the obstacles and is fiercely loyal. My hero, Omar Drummond, has a heart of gold. While he enjoys the game of football, he has far-reaching goals that will make lives better for veterans and others suffering from PTSD or other mental health issues.

BPM:  What inspired you to sit down and actually start writing this book? Why now?

I’m a diehard football fan and I’ve always wanted to write a sports romance. When the opportunity came for this series, I knew at least one of the books would feature a football player. It turns out that I’ll get to explore the lives of two heroes in the game (stay tuned for Book 5 in The Grays of Los Angeles series featuring Malcolm Gray). Sports management was also a fascinating topic and I had a blast researching this for Morgan because it’s not often we see a woman in this field.


BPM:  Where do your book ideas come from? Are your books plot-driven or character-driven?
My book ideas come from everywhere—life experiences, television, songs, etc. Sometimes, I wish I could turn my brain off for an hour or two because a plot line will come to me in the middle of the night. Like musicians hear music in everything, I hear plots. My books tend to be character-driven.

BPM:  Is writing easy for you? Do you feel lonely being a writer?
I wouldn’t say writing is easy for me, but it’s not necessarily difficult, either. But occasionally, some doubts creep in in when it’s time to start a new book or when I’m stuck in the middle of a story and can’t seem to find my way to the end immediately. Then it’s, “I don’t know if I can do this,” or “what if I can’t finish it?” I usually step away from my computer for a few hours or even a full day and do something else, like read, since I don’t get to do it as much as I like now. The next day, my head is clearer and I can get going again. As far as feeling lonely, I haven’t felt this way at all. I have such a phenomenal support of author friends! We hash out plot lines, critique each other and sometimes, just get together and hang out. No book talk, just pure fellowship.

BPM:  What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

In a word: football! Like I said, I love football and any chance I get to watch it for “research” is a win-win for me. I also thoroughly enjoyed Morgan and Omar’s journey to finding their forever.

BPM:  How long does it take to complete one of your books?

The time frame varies for me to complete a book. If there are no life interruptions (ha ha), then I can finish a 50K-60K word in about 6-8 weeks, and a novella of about 35K words in four weeks.

BPM:  Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
If you wait for the perfect time to start writing, you’ll never do it. Don’t wait! Read extensively in the line you want to write for. Learn everything about the craft of writing…and KEEP learning. Don’t think about writing, don’t dream about writing and don’t talk about writing… write.

BPM:  What period of your life do you find you write about most often?

Everything I’ve written so far is geared to my adult life. But, I’d love to explore the teen and young adult genre one day.

BPM:  How do you feel when someone disagrees with something you have written?
I write fiction, but I understand that not everyone will like what I write. The only thing I can do is keep telling my story.

BPM:  Are there under-represented groups or ideas featured in your book?  If so, discuss them.
I don’t think the subject of PTSD and mental health is under-represented, per se, but the lack of services is something that needs to keep being said. Our service men and women put themselves on the line to protect our freedoms. Yet, when they return battle worn and weary in spirit and mind, there are limited avenues to assist them and their families. There needs to be more done to help them re-enter civilian life wholly. In Places In My Heart, I touch on this subject and, through my hero, share a little about one of my dreams.

BPM:  How does your book relate to your present situation or journey?
Though I write fiction, I tend to draw from my experiences in telling a story, but there is no direct relation.

BPM:   Did you learn anything personal from writing your book?
With each book, I’m taking more risks and pushing myself beyond some self-imposed walls. I have to say that I love the growth, although it’s scary, and hope to continue challenging myself.

BPM:   Can you share some stories about people you met while researching this book?
In researching the subject of PTSD, I came across many stories from veterans and their family members, ranging from heartbreaking to hopeful. One man had written a note saying he was tired of feeling like he didn’t matter. On the flip side, there’s the outpouring of love and support found on a site for those suffering with PTSD and their families. I also had an eye-opening conversation with my Army Veteran sister, who graciously shared part of her story.

BPM:   What were your goals and intentions in writing this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
My intention, first and foremost, is always to tell a satisfying love story. I want readers to be able to relax and escape into a world where, despite the flaws of each character and the struggles each may face, at the end of the journey there is true love.

BPM:  What does literary success look like to you?
I consider it literary success every time I finish a book. It gives me such a feeling of accomplishment.

BPM:   What projects are you working on at the present?
Currently, I am working on books three and four in The Grays of Los Angeles series. Brandon’s story, Giving My All To You, is scheduled for release May 2017 and Khalil’s story, A Touch Of Love, is scheduled for Nov 2017. I am also working on a novella, Whatever It Takes, which is Eve Thompson’s story (she was introduced in It’s Only You). I hope to release it in the first part of 2017.

BPM:   How can readers discover more about you and your work?

Website: www.sheryllister.com
Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2bF1Vau
Twitter: www.twitter.com/1slynne
Amazon Author Page:  http://amzn.to/2cerUUy
Facebook: www.facebook.com/sheryllisterauthor




     
 


 

Places In My Heart by Sheryl Lister



Omar Drummond is a pro football superstar with a body that’s a pure work of art. But Morgan Gray is forbidden to act on their chemistry, or repeat their impulsive kiss. Proving her worth as a sports agent means securing the notorious celebrity as a client, not a lover. Yet between flowers, sweet notes and heady hotel interludes, Omar is shamelessly seducing her...

Other agents—and exes—have tried using Omar as a meal ticket, and he’s closed himself off from emotional entanglements. With Morgan, it’s a whole new playbook. Smart and tough, she can negotiate a contract and turn him on all in one go, and he craves more. But in matters of trust, he’s just fumbled badly. To win her he has to show her the man he can be away from the field and the limelight, and hope that this time they’re both playing for keeps.


Excerpt: Places In My Heart by Sheryl Lister


Omar scanned the yard and saw Morgan laughing with another player’s wife. They were the only two women who had joined in the otherwise all-male football game. She had impressed him with her offensive and defensive skills. Not many women—and none he’d dated—would subject themselves to a light tackle football game and not care about being dirty or having messy hair. But Morgan was different, and that turned him on.

“Man, you don’t have anything to worry about,” Malcolm said. “Roland will make sure you stay with the Cobras as long as you want.” When Omar didn’t comment, Malcolm leaned forward. “What’s up, Drummond?”

“I can’t go into details, but I think it’s time for a change. And this time, I want to steer clear of anybody involved in league politics. I need somebody else, Mal.”

Malcolm studied him for a moment and then said, “My sister is looking to get into the business.”

“Is that right? She’s an attorney?”

“Yeah. And she’s about as far away from league politics as you can get.”

“So, she knows the game well, huh?”

“As if she’s played it all her life,” Malcolm said.

Omar had thought that was the case, but hearing Malcolm confirm it solidified in his mind that she might exactly the person he needed to help him.

“Food’s ready,” Omar heard someone say.

He came to his feet, eager to end the conversation. Omar got in line with the rest of the guests, filled his plate and crossed the yard to where Morgan sat with her food. His intention had been to talk to her about a business proposition, but as soon as he sat and opened his mouth, two other women joined them and started a conversation about some popular television show. He promptly tuned out and dug into his meal.

“What about you, Drummond?”

His head popped up, and he met Morgan’s expectant gaze. “I’m sorry. What did you ask?”

“I asked which show was your favorite—Scandal or How to Get Away with Murder?”

“I don’t watch either show.”

Morgan slanted him a look. “Let me guess. You only watch sports or sports news.”

“No. I enjoy a good comedy or action movie, but I prefer reading to television.”

Surprise lit her eyes. “Reading?”

“Yeah, you know…books.”

“Wow, really, Omar? I would’ve never figured that out,” she said teasingly and rolled her eyes. The group laughed.

Omar smiled. She’d called him by his first name, something she had never done before. Their easy rapport gave him hope that she would be receptive to his plan. They finished eating while talking, and afterward, three other guys convinced Omar to join them in a card game. He kept one eye on his cards and the other on Morgan, waiting for a chance to get her alone.

His opportunity came three hands later when he saw her go inside. It took some serious patience to finish the game, especially since his partner seemed to contemplate every round. In Omar’s mind it was simple—you either had the card or you didn’t.

Marcus Dupree, wide receiver, threw up his hands. “Grant, do you think we could finish this game before the season starts? We only have a month.”

“My thoughts exactly,” Omar mumbled.

“Patience, my brothers,” Lucas Grant said. “I have to get my strategy together.” The middle linebacker employed the same tactics when watching plays develop and stopping runs between the tackles. Though effective on the field, today it only irritated Omar.

Omar shook his head. Minutes later, he tossed out his last card and stood. “Somebody else can take my spot. I’m done.” Without waiting for a reply, he headed for the sliding glass door that led to the kitchen and stepped inside. The sight of Morgan’s long bare legs stopped him in his tracks. She had changed into another pair of shorts that stretched taut over her backside as she reached for something in a cabinet. If he could just get one touch… Omar shook himself and quickly dismissed the notion.

“I see you changed.”

Morgan whirled around. “Oh. Drummond, you scared me.”

Back to last names again. “Sorry.”

She set the glass she had gotten on the counter and went to the refrigerator. “That’s okay. I had to shower. I can only take feeling grimy for so long.”

It took him a moment to realize she had commented on his previous statement. “I hear you. But you played a good game.”

“Are you referring to the interception or the touchdown?” she asked as she poured what looked like iced tea into the glass.

“A little cocky, aren’t you?”

She leaned against the counter, wrapped one arm around her middle and took a sip of her drink. “My game speaks for itself. Yours, on the other hand, can use some work.”

Omar closed the distance between them and braced his hands on the counter on either side of her. “Is that a challenge?”

She tilted her chin and stared at him intently. “You tell me.”

Their faces were inches apart. Common sense told him he should back up, but he couldn’t. Not when her full, gloss-slicked lips were calling to him. Without thinking about the ramifications, he crushed his mouth against hers and slid his tongue inside when her lips parted on a startled gasp. She came up on tiptoe and met him stroke for stroke, causing him to groan.

A second later Morgan stiffened and tore her mouth away. She pushed against his chest. “Move.”

Omar dropped his arms. “Morgan, I—” She brushed past him, and he reached out to stop her.

She slapped his hand away and kept walking.

“Morgan, wait. I need to talk to you.”

“I think you’ve said enough,” she called over her shoulder.


( Continued... )

© 2016 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Sheryl Lister. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author's written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.


Purchase Places in My Heart (The Grays of Los Angeles)
Genre: Kimani Contemporary Romance

https://www.amazon.com/Places-Heart-Grays-Los-Angeles/dp/0373864701/

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/places-in-my-heart-sheryl-lister/1123346427


     
 


 

JOY – Jesus on You by D. Michele Jackson



JOY – Jesus on You by D. Michele Jackson
Novel Based on a True Story - Travels of the Promises Trilogy (Book 2)



From the writer introduced in "Amazing Grace: A Tribute to You, The Story of Us", D. Michele Jackson returns with questions. Is it not the right to be well in a country that offers civil liberties? This is a question Secret poses on her quest to revise the Nineteenth Amendment. On a mission to secure equality and address the social issues that plague health, Donna is chiming for change in her novel that is based on a true story, “JOY: Jesus on You”.



A native of the “City of Brotherly Love” and a registered nurse, Secret is on a mission to secure equality and address the social issues that plague health. She’ll also decide once and for all, if love conquers all.

In the midst of a bitter divorce weeks before Christmas in 2011, Secret finds herself in a small, Southern courtroom pitted in a vicious dogfight against The Paper. Secret is divorcing a retired sheriff deputy, who is working on a second career in law enforcement, who had a payroll deposit going into a bank account not listed in his name and a vehicle that he denied having, even though there was clear documentation that he is purchased the car. The Paper is a former police officer willing to break laws to protect his double life, even if it means committing perjury.

As she detangles herself in a fictional contract socially accepted as marriage, a document Secret deemed as “final,” Secret is lied to, deceived, and demoralized. What’s worst is the judge’s final verdict states clearly that Secret will also be displaced from her home. It is a home she’d won fairly. It’s a home she deserved. As the winds of change blow, Secret’s new normal is shaky, what isn’t is her sense of purpose.

Secret decides to take on the establishment, one that seems bent in destroying her. Besides her faith in God, it helps that as a nurse, Secret has had seventeen years of experience of what she recited at graduation, “I will do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of my profession in the practice of my calling.” Ultimately it’s clear that the local and federal court systems and the Paper offer her a platform to argue for wellness as a legal nurse consultant.

After her observation of threats to health as it relates to marriage, divorce, and law, she begins to question the definition of health as defined by the World Health Organization, “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Over the next two years, she will submit brief after brief for judicial review, advocating for healthcare reform, especially when it comes to matters of divorce. Secret goes from that small courtroom in Georgia to argue in the United States Supreme Court. She isn’t ready or even able, but she chooses to fight the good fight—she chooses this fight, not with anger, but with heart, and she chooses this fight for all of us.

A narrative that is both heartfelt and impassioned, this novel loosely based on a true story is told in the first person from a retrospective point of view. As she offers a chronological glimpse of her journey, Secret considers her relationships prior to her marriage; each of these relationships offers health data that could be used for arguments pertaining to health in which she submitted for judicial review. Secret offers readers a biopic on sexually charged, if failed relationships, but the most telling health facts come from the man she divorces. Her experiences are reinforced by the statistical numbers presented by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention that, “Women account for one in four people living with HIV in the United States.”

In a Congressional Public Health and Safety Report, an argument is put forth that Congress consider the country’s wellness. Secret lends her voice. A voice that echoes what once sounded to promote women’s suffrage, “…liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants….” The issues include suffrage; healthcare cost; the uninsured; decreasing transmission of HIV/AIDS; criminal justice; unemployment; education; increased divorce rates; promotion of healthy families; and holding courts accountable to judicial prudence decisions, as they have a direct effect on health. Health is a universal right, and neglect of is an offense to wellbeing.

It’s the United States Supreme Court that Secret comes up against her greatest challenge to help ensure wellness. Secret requested to introduce Maslow Hierarchy of Human Needs. Secret’s stay request to an individual justice was on the grounds of Bounds v. Smith, which states, “The fundamental constitutional right of access to the courts held States must assure the indigent defendant an adequate opportunity to present his claims fairly.” Rivals against “justice for all” presented at the United States Supreme Court clerk who disregards the court rules preventing Secret’s stay application from being reviewed by an individual justice and the attorney who shows due diligence in defaming his oath that, “I offer fairness, integrity, and civility. I will seek reconciliation and, if we fail, I will strive to make our dispute a dignified one.”

Though blindsided and further disenchanted, Secret forwards a brief to the Department of Justice requesting a federal investigation pursuant to a constitutional rights violation, Section 35 of the Judiciary Act of 1789, Federal Statute 42 US 1983. She argues threat to civic danger, obligation to exercise judicial review by disregarding purported laws if they violate the Constitution, and addresses the rights of people worldwide. After being ignored by every system designed for protection against crimes, Secret writes to the 113th Congress for relief, and takes advantage of the opportunity to request policy changes as a politically active nurse requesting legislation that makes it a crime for a spouse to become infected while married related to failure to disclose sexual orientation.

Secret is currently waiting for a congressional response. It’s time for change.


Order JOY – Jesus on You by D. Michele Jackson

Novel Based on a True Story

Travels of the Promises Trilogy (Book 2)
http://www.dmichelejackson.com 

eBook Release Date: December 06, 2016


About the Author

Donna M. Jackson is an African-American woman, a Philadelphia native, Tuskegee University alumna, and a Registered Nurse. Writing as D. Michele Jackson, she now adds writer, published, politically active nurse to her accolades. Her sociology studies at Tuskegee University and twenty year nursing career enabled Donna to be prepared when the opportunity of Legal Nurse Consultant availed itself as she represented herself Pro Se in court. That experience allowed Donna to draft briefs during a historical time affording her a voice advocating for health. Donna submitted argument to Congress supporting amending the Nineteenth Amendment. Website: http://www.dmichelejackson.com


 
     
 

 
 
 
 
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