Monthly Archives: October 2015

Excerpt: Grant Park by Leonard Pitts, Jr.

Grant Park by Leonard Pitts, Jr.

Grant Park is a page-turning and provocative look at black and white relations in contemporary America, blending the absurd and the poignant in a powerfully well-crafted narrative that showcases Pitts’s gift for telling emotionally wrenching stories.

Grant Park begins in 1968, with Martin Luther King’s final days in Memphis. The story then moves to the eve of the 2008 election, and cuts between the two eras as it unfolds. Disillusioned columnist Malcolm Toussaint, fueled by yet another report of unarmed black men killed by police, hacks into his newspaper’s server to post an incendiary column that had been rejected by his editors. Toussaint then disappears, and his longtime editor, Bob Carson, is summarily fired within hours of the column’s publication.

While a furious Carson tries to find Toussaint—at the same time dealing with the reappearance of a lost love from his days as a 60s activist—Toussaint is abducted by two improbable but still-dangerous white supremacists plotting to explode a bomb at Obama’s planned rally in Grant Park. Toussaint and Carson are forced to remember the choices they made as idealistic, impatient young men, when both their lives were changed profoundly by their work in the civil rights movement.

Editorial Reviews From the Publisher

“A novel as significant as it is engrossing.” —Booklist, starred review

“Grant Park is layered, insightful, and passionate. Pitts’s subtly explosive language grips readers with the delicate subject matter and earnestly implores them to understand that ‘[race] has always meant something and it always will.’ The scars will remain, but stunningly powerful examinations like Grant Park can be the salve that helps heal open wounds.” —Shelf-Awareness, starred review

“An important book, one that honestly examines the current, tumultuous racial divide in our country and demands we not turn away from its harsh realities.” —Amy Canfield, Miami Herald

“[A] high-stakes, hard-charging political thriller. . . . The sharply etched characters, careful attention to detail, and rich newspaper lore propel Pitts’s socially relevant novel.” —Publishers Weekly

“Leonard Pitts has written a taut thriller that weaves together a stark look at America’s tortured racial past with a fast-paced tale of terrorist conspiracy and love rekindled.” —Neil Steinberg, Chicago Sun Times

“The book is a page-turner, but also one that commands deep reflection on history, racism, and personal choices.” —Blanca Torres, The Seattle Times

“Pitts masterfully revisits [election night on November 4, 2008] and four decades of the civil rights struggle to create one of the most suspenseful and spectacular fictitious moments you’ll experience this fall.” —Patrik Henry Bass, Essence

“Pitts does a skillful job of building tension in the novel’s historical sections as well as on Election Day. . . . He also does something not every political thriller writer does: builds believable, complex characters.” — Colette Bancroft, Tampa Bay Times

“And then there are those thrills—gasping, mouth-gaping page-turners that author Leonard Pitts Jr. weaves through another realism: truthful, brutal plot-lines about racial issues of the last five decades, mulling over exactly how far we’ve really come. That makes this will-they-live-or-won’t-they nail-biter into something that also made me think, and I absolutely loved it.” —Terri Schlichenmeyer, The Bookworm Sez


Martin Luther King stood at the railing, facing west. The moon was a pale crescent just rising in early twilight to share the sky with a waning sun. He leaned over, joking with the men in the parking lot below. A couple of them were wrestling playfully with James Orange, a good-natured man with a build like a brick wall.

“Now, you be careful with preachers half your size,” King teased him.

“Dr. King,” called Orange in a plaintive voice, “it’s two of them and one of me. You should be asking them not to hurt me.”

“Doc,” someone called out from below, “this is Ben Branch. You remember Ben.”

“Oh yes,” said King. “He’s my man. How are ya, Ben?”

Another voice yelled up from below. “Glad to see you, Doc.”

As Malcolm Toussaint moved toward King, it struck him that the preacher seemed somehow lighter than he had the last time Malcolm had seen him. It had been late one night a week before, by the Dumpsters out back of the Holiday Inn. The man Malcolm met that night had seemed… weighted, so much so that even Malcolm had found himself concerned and moved—Malcolm, who had long scorned the great reverend doctor, who had, in the fashion of other young men hip, impatient, and cruel, mocked him as “De Lawd.” But that was before Malcolm had met the man. That was before they had talked. Now he moved toward King, his mind roiling with the decision that had sprung from that moment, the news he had come to share. King, he knew, would be pleased. There would be a smile, perhaps a heavy hand clamping on Malcolm’s shoulder. “Good for you, Brother Malcolm,” he would say. “Good for you.”

Malcolm was vaguely amused to find himself here on this balcony, anticipating this man’s approval. If you had told him just a few days ago that he would be here, ready to go back to school, ready to embrace nonviolent protest, he would have laughed. But that, too, was before. Malcolm meant to raise his hand just then, to catch King’s attention, but a movement caught his eye. Just a reflected ray of the dying sun, really, glinting off something in a window across the street. Something that—he knew this instinctively—should not have been there. He wondered distractedly what it was.

King’s voice drew him back. “I want you to sing it like you’ve never sung it before,” he was calling to someone in the parking lot below. “Sing it real pretty.” And Malcolm realized he had missed something, because he had no idea what they were talking about. His attention had been distracted by… what was that?

“It’s getting chilly.” Yet another voice calling to King from below. “I think you’ll need a topcoat.”

“Okay, Jonesy,” King was saying. “You really know how to take good care of me.”

And here, the moment breaks, time fracturing as time sometimes will into its component parts, until an event is no longer composed of things happening in a sequence, but somehow all happens at once. And you can see and touch and live all the smaller moments inside the right now. This is how it is for Malcolm Toussaint now. King is laughing. Malcolm is taking a step toward him. King is straightening. Laughter is echoing from below. King is reaching into a pocket for his cigarettes. He is becoming aware of Malcolm on his left. His head is coming around. There are the bare beginnings of a welcoming smile. And Malcolm knows. Suddenly knows. And Malcolm is leaping, leaping across space, across time itself, becoming airborne—he was sure of it, that detail felt right, even though by this time King is barely six feet away. Malcolm grabbing two hands full of expensive silk, yanking Martin Luther King off balance, yanking him down hard in the same instant they all hear the popping sound like a firecracker, in the same instant he feels the soft-nosed 30.06 bullet whistle past his cheek like a phantom breath, in the same instant he falls awkwardly across King’s chest.

And then…

And then time seems to reel for a crazy breathless moment, as if decid¬ing what to do now. The fulcrum of history teetering, the future hanging, suspended in midair.
Until all at once and with a brutal force, time decides itself and slams back into gear.

A woman shrieked.

Someone yelled, “Somebody is shooting!”

Someone yelled, “Doc, are you OK?”

Someone yelled, “Stay down!”

Malcolm’s breath was ragged in his own ears. His heart hammered like drums. Then from beneath him, he heard a familiar baritone voice say calmly, very calmly, but yet, with a touch of breathless wonder. “Oh my God. Was that a gunshot?”

Their eyes met. Malcolm didn’t speak. Couldn’t speak. “Brother Malcolm,” said Martin Luther King, his voice still suffused with wonder and yet, also, an almost unnatural calm, “I think you just saved my life.”

Malcolm was overwhelmed by the thereness of the man. He was not myth and mist and history. He was not a posterboard image on a wall behind a child dutifully reciting in a child’s thin, sweet tenor, “I have a dream today.” No, he was there, beneath 20-year-old Malcolm Toussaint, who had fallen crosswise on top of him. Malcolm could feel the weight and heft of him, the fall and rise of his chest. He could see his very pores, could smell the tobacco on his breath, the Aramis on his collar. Martin Luther King was there, still alive, beneath him. Malcolm opened his mouth to speak.

And then, he awoke.

( Continued… )

© 2015 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Leonard Pitts Jr. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author’s written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.

Purchase Grant Park by Leonard Pitts, Jr.
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About the Author
Leonard Pitts, Jr.
is a nationally syndicated columnist for the Miami Herald and winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, in addition to many other awards. He is also the author of the novels Freeman (Agate Bolden, 2012) and Before I Forget (Agate Bolden, 2009); the collection Forward From this Moment: Selected Columns, 1994-2009, Daily Triumphs, Tragedies, and Curiosities (Agate Bolden, 2009); and Becoming Dad: Black Men and the Journey to Fatherhood (Agate Bolden, 2006). Born and raised in Southern California, Pitts now lives in suburban Washington, D.C., with his wife and children.


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.

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

About the Author

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.

Author website:


My Wife’s Lover by RM Johnson

My Wife’s Lover by RM Johnson

My Wife’s Lover by RM Johnson is filled with deceit, suspense, drama and mystery. It will have you guessing and shocked at what this story brings. 

Stan’s wife Erica, told him she was pregnant by another man who wanted no part in raising the baby. Contracts were signed transferring custody and all fatherly rights to Stan. But three years later, he walks in his house to find his wife and her ex-lover in a compromising position. A horrible accident has happened and Michael, the biological father, wants his child back. Erica tells Stan she won’t let the boy be taken, but Stan finds text messages between Erica and Michael, finds proof they’ve been seeing each other, and wonders if Erica is planning on leaving him and taking the little boy to reunite him with his natural father.

Abandoned as a child by his own father, and forced years ago to surrender custody of his daughter, Stan will do whatever he must not to lose his son, including taking a life.

Purchase My Wife’s Lover by RM Johnson 

Sequel to My Wife’s Baby 

My Wife’s Baby by RM Johnson

My Wife’s Baby is a story of Romance, Suspense, Erotica, Family Life, Drama and Mystery. It will have you guessing and shocked at what the end brings. 

Does the love for a wife and the jealousy for an infant, warrant murder? My Wife’s Baby is a story of Romance, Suspense, Erotica, Family Life, Drama and Mystery. It will have you guessing and shocked at what the end brings. 

Does the love for a wife and the jealousy for an infant, warrant murder? 
After ten years of bad dates and worse relationships, Stan is in heaven, for he has finally found his soul mate, Erica—a beautiful, caring woman who shares all his beliefs, to include not wanting children. They discussed this over bottles of red wine the night they met and promised, if ever they became a couple, they would remain childless and forever the other’s priority.

One year after being married, Erica tells Stan she’s pregnant: news she’s very happy about. Stan considers talking Erica out of it, but that would mean aborting her child, something he knows Erica would never do.

Two months into the pregnancy, Stan notices changes: times he and Erica enjoyed as a fun-loving childless couple are no longer; Erica’s attention is occupied with all things related to the forthcoming baby, and Stan has gone without sex for months.

The child arrives and things get even worse; Stan feels like an outsider: a stranger living among his wife and her son. Erica gives all her time, attention and love to the infant, leaving none for her husband. Stan becomes envious; he looks at the newborn as a threat, tells himself something must be done—but what? He fights his jealous thoughts, knowing horrible things would happen if he were ever to act on them. But one night while drunk, Stan attempts to make love to his wife but is once again rejected. His pride hurt and feeling disowned, Stan stumbles into the baby’s room with intentions of eliminating his problem once and for all, knowing there can only be one man in Erica’s life. That is the promise his wife had made him on the night they met, and it is the promise he intends to make her keep.

Purchase My Wife’s Baby by RM Johnson 



What You Won’t Do for Love by Keleigh Crigler Hadley

What You Won’t Do for Love 
by Keleigh Crigler Hadley

Unconditional Love. Unthinkable Choice. 

Eden Price, an unlucky-in-love nurse finds herself in the midst of a heated love triangle. Globe-trotting missionary, Gabe Clark ignites her soul. Who doesn’t want a man with a connection to God? Hard-working, Nemo Gates speaks to her heart. His past has caused a rift between him and God and Eden wants to help him heal.

She ultimately chooses the man that makes her passions come alive, but did she make the right choice? Her husband stuns her with a desperate plea; to prove her love for him in the most unthinkable way – to help him die with dignity.

Book Review: What You Won’t Do for Love

Get the tissues out! What You Won’t Do for Love is a emotional roller-coaster ride. 

The story centers around, Eden Price and the two men in her life, Gabe Clark and Nehemiah Gates. The author, Keleigh Hadley creates an intriguing love triangle and I found myself cheering for one guy, then cheering for the next guy – I was torn! I connected deeply with the main character, Eden Price because she was quirky, compassionate and realistic. Ultimately the love triangle is broken and Eden chooses one of the men, but he asks her to do the unthinkable. I have to be honest, I thought one way about the subject the author tackles in this book, but after reading this and connecting with her struggle, I feel differently. I won’t say how because that would spoil the plot twist. In the end, I greatly appreciated the spiritual insight and encouragement I felt after reading and look forward to reading many more books from Keleigh Hadley. — Reviewed by Gina Johnsond, Reading DIVAZ

Excerpt: What You Won’t Do for Love 

“There goes that Price girl again.” Verdeen Washington exclaimed to her hard-of-hearing sister, Pearleen. They rocked in unison, in the twilight air on their front porch.

Eden Price noted the puzzlement in Verdeen’s booming voice as she steadily passed them by. Heck, the whole neighborhood could hear it.

“She’s a strange bird, if I ever saw one.” Pearleen looked over her thick glasses and pursed her wrinkled lips.

“Good evening, Washington sisters.”

Eden smiled, nodded and kept her legs pumping. She knew they shook their gray wigs as she passed them, but her jogging pace didn’t diminish and she kept on singing.

She knew she was a sight to see and hear.

“Wishing, and hoping and thinking and praying…
planning and dreaming each night of his charms…”

That’s it, Dionne.

Eden sang the tune to Dionne Warwick’s 1950’s classic song. The lyrics had been stuck on repeat in her head all day and the only way to get a song out, is to sing it. So in between breaths, she belted out the infectious tune.

So Dionne, is this the formula for catching a man?

The cushion in her Nike trainers flattened and rebounded as she reduced her pace from a slow jog to a brisk walk. She was two blocks from home and needed to start her cool down.

“…do the things he likes to do… wear your hair just for him… ’cause you won’t get him,
and praying,
and wishing,
and hoping…”

Her worn out sports bra allowed too much jiggle and wiggle room for her girls. She could never hope to get a good run in anymore wearing three year-old running shoes and a five year-old bra, but budget constraints did not allow for such luxuries.

Eden adjusted ‘Ben and Jerry’ again to the safe confines of her bra, before she was arrested for exposing herself. Eden hunched over for a moment to catch her breath. Just a few more feet to go. She righted herself, hit her corner, and turned at the intersection of Third ave and 33rd place.

Three threes. The number meant something to her father, God rest his soul. It was his favorite number and one of the reasons he purchased a house on this block. But today, the number three held relevance to Eden too.

This was her thirty-third year of life, she was suffering from her third night of insomnia, and on March third, in three days her life would change – “for better or worse.”

( Continued… )

© 2015 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Keleigh Crigler Hadley. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author’s written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.

Order What You Won’t Do for Love  


About the Author

Keleigh Crigler Hadley is an author, speaker, and teacher who is thankful God can use her messes for His glory.
She has always loved stories, and she believes the story of the Bible contains the biggest, the most redemptive dose of grace humankind has ever, and will ever, experience. She is the Christian Fiction author of the Preacher’s Kids series,  Revenge Inc., and What You Won’t Do for Love.

If she were to define herself in one sentence, she would say, “I’m a girl who loves to see God working.”  Keleigh writes soul-stirring fiction, with real characters that stay with readers long after they have closed the book, (or turned the e-reader off.)  The only thing she loves more than writing is reading, so contact her on social media and let her know what you’re reading!



Hate the Air: The Abbreviated Life of Shea Kennedy by RM Johnson

Hate the Air: The Abbreviated Life of Shea Kennedy
by RM Johnson

HATE THE AIR is a combination of Sci-fi, Dystopia, Mystery, Romance, Action and Adventure. This exciting, speculative, story asks: what would you do if you could only live until your twentieth birthday?

The world’s air became toxic two decades ago. All who have breathed it over that duration have died in the last four months, leaving only those under twenty years old alive. Their parents, guardians and all other influential adults are dead. The new adults scramble to forge a new life and protect themselves against starvation, home invasion, crime, rape and murder.

Seventeen year old Jenna Sawyer, daughter of the deceased President of the United States, was recently elected the new commander in chief under the Legacy Appointment Act—a law passed before the last of the White House cabinet members died, stating: individuals twenty years old and below will be responsible for keeping order, educating our children, caring for our population, defending our nation against threat and preserving humanity. In order for her to manage that task, President Jenna Sawyer asked the remaining living population to come to D.C. to develop a plan for a new world order.

Meanwhile, Shea Kennedy, newly elected Legacy Sheriff and best friend of the president, gathers the last survivors of her small town, her police dog, Tornado, and they start the perilous journey across hundreds of miles to the capital. Even though they resent Shea’s authority, the caravan hopes to arrive before any of them reaches the age of twenty and succumbs to the air. 

Excerpt from HATE THE AIR

I stepped into the open door of the house. I saw no signs of a break-in: the living room hadn’t been ransacked: no furniture upended, cushions knifed open, legs torn off end tables, or lamps broken like cracked egg shells on the carpet. It was the opposite: books lay neatly on the coffee table, burned down candles sat beside them, pocket change: pennies, dimes and a quarter were spread nearby. The kitchen was clean: no trash overflowing in the corner pail. But the cabinet doors hung open. Inside of them there was nothing.

I climbed the stairs, stopped in the second floor hallway, surrounded by four doors, all of them closed. I reached to open one, heard movement behind another, spun and with a grunt, kicked it open. The shadow of a boy rummaging through drawers whirled around, and in the splash of flashlight, I saw the gun as it was turned on me.

“Don’t do it. I’ll shoot!” I cried, my voice tense, high pitched, terrified. The
flashlight beam bounced around his body and face, the thing trembling uncontrollable in my hand. He wore dark pants, a sweater and a ski mask pulled over his head.

“Whatever you have, put it down now!” I demanded.

“Who are you?”

“Sheriff!” I said, trying to sound authoritative.

“Legacy?” He scoffed.

“Freakin sheriff!” I said, again, jabbing my gun at him. “Put it down now or I’ll—“ before I could finish, I felt an excruciating pain shoot through my skull, shudder down my spine, dropping me to the floor. Movement around me, I felt someone step over me, wrench my gun from my hand. My flashlight lay somewhere on the floor, casting a tall, oblong, light circle in the corner of the room. Within it stood the stretched shadow of the boy who had knocked me over the head from behind. He grinned, pulled his bandana down, revealing yellow crooked teeth.

“You about to say you was gonna shoot my friend?” The boy asked, pressing the side of his gun to my head.

I raised my palms, expecting to die, and thinking how disappointed Dad would’ve been if he could see me now. “Please,” I begged.

“It’s a little late for that,” he said, grinning wider, dragging the tip of the gun down my face, pressing it against my cheek so hard I cried out.

“Stop!” The boy I had snuck up on, said. “We’re not here to kill. Food is all we need. Besides, she’s the sheriff.”

The boy with the ugly grin looked harder at me. A glint of flashlight caught the point of a star on my badge. He reached down to snatch it. I grabbed his hand before he could tear it off of me, fought him for it, was ready to die before I let him take it.

“Leave it!” the boy wearing the black mask ordered.

He came up behind Yellow Grin, yanked him off of me, pointed his gun at me, while holding out his palm to his partner, gesturing for him to hand over my gun. He ejected the magazine, the bullet in the chamber and pushed both into his pocket, then threw my gun across the room. He handed the bag of stolen goods to his creepy friend and told him to take it outside.

I stared at the boy through the eyeholes in his mask, watching him, wondering if he’d kill me.

“Mother or father was a cop? Probably your hero, and you’re trying to do what they did,” he said, his gun still on me. “Right?”

My heart pounding, I couldn’t speak, could barely breath.

“Things are different. No more heroes. Just people gagging in the street, and people who gonna gag in the street. Leave this place like everybody else, before you get yourself killed.”

He shoved his gun in the waist of his pants, turned, left me on the floor, shaking, terrified of moving until I heard the downstairs door slam shut. I rolled on my belly, shimmied across the carpet, grabbed my flashlight then found my gun.

Downstairs, I stepped out on the porch, shielded my eyes against the piercing sunlight. Tornado barked frantically at me as though he knew I had acted stupidly—almost got myself killed trying to defend an empty house.

“Shhh, boy. Shhh!” I told him.

I climbed on my bike, kick-started the engine, about to pull off, when the realization that I had almost died hit me hard. Tears came to my eyes and with both gloved fists, I started hitting the bike’s dented gas tank, screaming as Tornado barked louder. “Why would you leave me with this? Why would you think I could do it? Why, Dad?” I cried.

I hammered the tank over and over until my hands ached, finally lowering them on the dented metal. I stayed like that, stretched over the bike until I could stop crying.

Tornado had gone silent, too. I looked at him. He stared back, his head tilted to a side as if to say, now that you got that out of your system, can we please go?

I smiled a little, wiped my face and sat up straight on the bike. Glancing upward, I said, “Sorry Dad, for acting like a little girl. Won’t happen again, okay.”

I pulled down my goggles, toed the Harley into gear then sped off.

( Continued… )

© 2015 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, RM Johnson. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author’s written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.

New Adult Fiction –  Hate the Air: The Abbreviated Life of Shea Kennedy


The Reeducation of Aria Jackson by Angelia Vernon Menchan

The Reeducation of Aria Jackson
by Angelia Vernon Menchan

Aria Jackson left Greenfield in search of an MBA from Wharton and her dignity. She felt escaping the hood and her uneducated but loving mother would validate her. However, a job as the youngest Vice President at a local bank brings her home and she has to realize her hometown, her mom and nothing else was what she thought and that one can never escape who they are or where they are from and what part will local philanthropist and entrepreneur, Saul Rathbone add to her mix?

The Reeducation of Aria Jackson covers timely and sensitive issues that plague the prodigal daughters of America’s inner cities.

Excerpt from The Reeducation of Aria Jackson by Angelia Vernon Menchan

Turning to grab a plate, her heart caught in her throat when she saw Saul standing inches from her.

“Are you still ashamed of us Aria or are you finally home?” His voice was low and melodious, sending a thrill up her spine.

“I’m in this town but I’m not going to live in this neighborhood. Left up to me, my mom wouldn’t either.” She snapped. She hadn’t seen Saul in years and they were already in combat. He was a few years older than her but had always taken pleasure in teasing her. She was once good friends with his sister.

“Why not Aria? This is a great neighborhood. It’s chockfull of professionals with white and blue collars and it spawned us, you and I, college educated and upwardly mobile.”

“This is you Saul, not me. It also spawned crack addicts and the like and I want nothing to do with that!” A slow smile covered his face.

“It did, like my sister and your former friend but Sandra is clean and sober and working as a counselor and you know why?”

“I’m sure you’re going to tell me…”

“It’s because of this place and people like your mom. They were never ashamed of her. They loved on her and chastised her and never gave up on her. This neighborhood is famous for that.”

“Well good for them and you but this is no longer me. If my mom weren’t here…”

“You would never come this way… That’s too bad Aria because it’s you we need. The girl born to the single mom who worked cleaning hotel rooms and selling dinners to allow her to live in her own home instead of an apartment or the projects and to go away to get an education. Those checks she mailed you were mailed from the hood post office. So instead of being ashamed of all this, you should be thanking God, Ms. Helen and this hood… But do you. By the way, you look good but you really do need a couple of those wings.”

( Continued… )

© 2015 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Angelia Vernon Menchan. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author’s written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.

Order The Reeducation of Aria Jackson by Angelia Vernon Menchan

About the Author

Angelia Vernon Menchan is a publishing author and entrepreneur who respects history while embracing the future. Through her publishing company, Honorable MENCHAN Media, she and her husband have published more than thirty full length books and countless novellas and short stories of her work. Menchan has also allowed unpublished authors to realize their dreams by publishing their work. To date she has provided that opportunity to twelve authors. When not writing, Menchan is a mentor and public speaker who fearlessly address the issues of young women in today’s world.



Do What You Gotta Do by Christine Young-Robinson

Do What You Gotta Do 
by Christine Young-Robinson

Sequel to We Didn’t See It Coming 

 A compelling story about three Houston sisters, Milandra, Noelle, and Kenley who come from a family of wealth—and whose lives are shattered by tragedy, scandal, secrets, and betrayal.

In this sizzling story of family drama, money, and seduction, one woman’s desire for a luxurious lifestyle leads her to prey on a vulnerable man—until his father’s suspicions threaten to undo everything.

Aniyah Sanchez is a wild, sexy, and seductive woman—and has just been released from prison for crimes of fraud, kidnapping, and embezzlement.

Without parents to turn to, she’s surprised when her aunt Tessa comes to her rescue and sets her up in an apartment until she can find work. But Aniyah is determined to move out and start a new life her own way—by finding a wealthy man who can provide the extravagant lifestyle she longs for.

That man turns out to be Jarvis Powell, Jr., who finds Aniyah very attractive and gives her a job at one of the banks owned by his father. There’s just one problem: Jarvis’s father is suspicious of Aniyah and will do everything in his power to protect the family legacy…especially from a woman he suspects is trying to ensnare his son to get to the family fortune.

Now, with Jarvis, Sr. watching her like a hawk, Aniyah is more determined than ever to win over his son. Will the bond of a father and son undo her plan, or will she finally get her chance at a new beginning?

Excerpt: Do What You Gotta Do

Chapter 1

At last, Aniyah Sanchez would no longer be like a lion locked up in a cage. After spending four years in a South Carolina prison for fraud and kidnapping, she was being released.

As she stepped out of her cell, a male prison guard whispered in her ear, “Fruitcake, I’ll see you when you get back.”

Sniffing the fish odor that escaped from his breath, Aniyah turned up her nose. Didn’t he know after lunch to eat a peppermint?

“Goodbye, Slut,” an inmate yelled from another cell to her.

“You better get your last feel, Officer Mann,” another inmate added.
The inmates laughed throughout the ward, including the guard who sported a broken front tooth. He cupped Aniyah’s left breast with his right hand. Then he took the club he held in his other hand and placed it between her legs.

“I don’t think so!” Aniyah snapped her head, brushing him away. “Your time has expired.”
During her prison term, she had fulfilled the guard’s sexual needs in exchange for protection from conflicts that she had endured with other female inmates.

Aniyah, almost jogging, hurried ahead until she came to a point where she met up with another guard and other inmates that were being released.  Once the official documents were finalized, the guard let Aniyah out of the last door that gave her back her freedom. A chill ran through her body, but it quickly disappeared once the doors were slammed shut behind her. Turning around, she took one last look at the place of residence she had called home. The fourth inmate in line wearing loafers donated by church volunteers, her feet made contact with the concrete ground.
Aniyah adjusted her eyes to the sunlight that blinded her. She pulled down on her red spandex dress that had risen up to her hips. It was the same dress she had worn before she became a part of the prison system.  Her once slender hips stretched the dress to its limits, but Aniyah strutted as if the garment was brand-new. She faulted her excessive weight gain from her no longer being able to shake her hips in the nightclubs. In prison, she mostly sat on her rear in her cell or in ongoing therapy sessions.

Under her armpit, she carried a plastic bag of her belongings and a pair of pumps. Her hands free, she twisted her flowing black hair up in a bun. Other released inmates stopped to say farewell to each other, but Aniyah kept walking, too afraid that she might be called back by one of the guards.  Two female inmates ran past her, once they saw familiar faces of loved ones waiting to take them home. Aniyah was not looking for any family to come to her rescue. She would not know her father from any other black man on the streets. He was her mother’s one-night stand with no name.  Julia, her mother, had died two months ago in Mexico, during the time dyed eggs were given to inmates for holiday treats. Aniyah remembered the day the warden delivered the news to her. Guilt troubled her, since she had run away from home at the age of sixteen, leaving her mother behind to suffer a broken heart.  The only family she had left was her mother’s sister, Tessa Sanchez-Chavis. And she was not counting on her self-righteous aunt to come to her rescue.  Where am I going? I have no idea.  As the heat beamed down on her forehead, sweat dripped down her neck. The spandex dress felt like rubber against her body.

“Rosie Aniyah Sanchez.” She heard the name echoing in her ears.

Her eyes lit up, when she recognized the familiar voice. She locked eyes with her aunt. The solemn look on her face turned into a bright smile. “Aunt Tessa.”

She studied her aunt, noticing how much she had aged. Streaks of gray highlighted Tessa’s jet-black hair. Aniyah, elated, ran into her aunt’s arms. “I can’t believe you’re here.”

“You’re family,” her aunt said humbly in her Spanish accent and giving her niece a kiss on the cheek.

Together, they strolled to a parked black Mercedes-Benz.

Admiring her aunt’s ride, before prison life and without hesitation, if a man were driving the Benz, Aniyah would have easily flagged down the ride. She would have unraveled her bun to let her hair fall past her shoulders, propped one hand on a hip and batted her dark brown eyes. Then she would have worked her charm on the man behind the wheel, giving him her middle name instead of using her first name, Rosie. Played him for a sucker.  After all the counseling, her former lifestyle of being an escort and manipulating people, especially men, was supposed to be her past, but only time would tell. Tessa unlocked the car door, hopped in and quickly Aniyah jumped in and took a seat on the butter-colored leather seats. A free ride from her aunt would do.

“How did you know I was getting out?”

Tessa reached over and gave her niece another loving hug. Then she became emotional. “I’ve been keeping up with you. And although I can’t forget what you did to the Houstons or me, you’re still family. I have made peace with it.”

“How about your lawyer-hubby, Baron?”

“He’s Mr. Chavis to you from now on. And, he’ll never forgive you for what you did to the Houston family, nor him,” Tessa admitted with a hint of bitterness.

“It’s not like it was his money.” Reaching down between the seats, Aniyah picked up a bag of boiled peanuts. She cracked open the peanuts, tossing a few in her mouth. While chewing, she continued to speak. “The Houstons are garbage people. Mr. Houston was a male whore. How can you defend him?”

“Don’t speak of the dead in a bad way,” Tessa argued. She recalled working as a young woman in the home of Rupert Houston, owner of Houston Commercial Construction Company. He was a man who loved to have his way with his beautiful female workers.

Aniyah sucked her teeth. “Mr. Houston can rot in hell. And so can his spoiled-ass daughters.” She slouched back in the seat. In past years, Aniyah had crossed paths with her aunt’s prior boss, Rupert. Her greed for money led her to become his mistress. He had promised her a false dream on Lake Murray, South Carolina, to later do away with her. Aniyah vowed to get revenge on him. To keep her quiet, Rupert included her in his will. Aniyah took a few more peanuts, folded the bag, and placed it back where she got it. “I still say you were more loyal to his spoiled-ass daughters than you were to me.”

Staring at her aunt as she drove, Aniyah wanted to grab and shake her. Rupert’s unexpected death had left her a happy and wealthy young woman, instead of his three daughters, until Tessa discovered her wrongdoings. Instead of living the life of royalty, Aniyah had landed in prison. Tessa sensed Aniyah was still bitter. “I believe in doing what’s right. You had no right to do wrong.”

“I didn’t want to be a maid like you and mama. I could have sent plenty of money to Mama.” Aniyah lowered her voice. “Now she’s dead.”

Tessa was surprised. “I asked the warden to not tell you about Julia.”

“You should have come and told me yourself.”

“I didn’t want you to be hurt. You couldn’t go to Mexico to your mama’s funeral.”

“Did you go?” Aniyah asked sadly.

“I went to visit her in her sickbed a month before she went to her heavenly home. She wanted so much for you to come to her bedside. I simply couldn’t tell her that I found you. You were in jail for doing bad things. It would have destroyed her. I stayed by her side to the end.”

Tears flowed down Aniyah’s face. “I’m glad you didn’t tell her.”

Tessa softly patted her niece on the hand. “Your mama loved you with all her heart.”

“I know…I miss her.” Aniyah wiped away her tears.

“Let’s go shopping. You don’t need to dress like you’re a loose girl.” Tessa had witnessed her niece’s dress code. The dress had risen up on Aniyah. It resembled a tunic shirt.

“I’ll go shopping. But I’m not throwing away this dress.”

“It’s too little.”

Aniyah saw her aunt glancing at her. She tugged at her dress, trying to cover her exposed thighs. “So I gained a few pounds. No big deal.”

“After shopping, you’ll trash it.”

“This hot dress stays with me.”

Tessa concluded that it was going to be a long day for her. The sooner she took her niece shopping and got her settled, the sooner she would be rid of her. She sighed. “Aniyah, you have always been difficult.”

“I think for myself. No one tells me what to do.”


After shopping, Tessa drove Aniyah to a two-story apartment complex in nearby downtown Columbia.

Aniyah looked out at the buildings as Tessa parked. Startled, she said, “This is where you and Baron live now. What happened to his house?”

“We still have our home. This is where you’re going to rest.”

Aniyah’s voice escalated. “Are you for real? Here?”

“I’m sorry, but there’s no way Baron will let me bring you into our home.”

“I’m your niece. He can now trust me.”

“I’m afraid not.”

Aniyah marveled. She heard the nervousness in her aunt’s voice. She was flattered that her aunt thought of her as a threat. In the past, she had seduced her aunt’s husband, prior to their marriage, in order to manipulate him to get to his client’s fortune.

They got out of the vehicle, carrying shopping bags by the handles. Aniyah followed her aunt to the front door. Unlocking it, they entered the one-bedroom apartment.

She proceeded to the middle of the living room, while Tessa, clenching her handbag, stayed put near the door.

Aniyah felt her aunt’s eyes piercing on her, well-informed that she was uncomfortable being alone with her, but her attention was focused on her living arrangements. Next to a small wooden table, she tossed the bags that she held on a futon. Then she headed to see where she would sleep; leaving her aunt on edge to figure out if she would show any signs of psychotic symptoms.

Inside the bedroom, Aniyah spotted a four-drawer chest and twin-sized bed that was the bottom half of a bunk bed. Secondhanded crap.

“I hope you like it.” Tessa dropped the other bags on the linoleum floor.

Aniyah mumbled under her breath, “No bigger than a jail cell.”

Returning back into the living room, Aniyah decided not to complain. She was convinced without her aunt rescuing her, she might be sitting on a bench like a homeless person.

Aniyah grinned. “It’s good.”

“There’s food in the refrigerator. I’ve stocked it with a few things, sodas and sandwich meats. In the cabinets, there’re cans of corn, black beans and a five-pound bag of rice.”

“Any steaks, lobster tails or shrimp?”

Tessa laughed. “There’re frozen foods, and chicken for you to cook. Tonight you can heat a frozen chicken TV dinner.”

Aniyah went directly into the kitchen adjacent to the living room. She looked in the freezer to see that few products loaded the freezer, including one ice tray. She slammed the door shut. Then she opened the refrigerator section. Removing a can of orange soda, she snapped it opened and took a swallow, quenching her thirst.

Tessa entered. As she watched her niece’s every move, she noticed the spandex dress Aniyah wore had risen up her thighs. “I say you should change into something more appropriate.”

Aniyah tussled with the dress. “Stop looking at my clothes. It’ll fit fine once I lose a few pounds. I’ll get sexy-looking again.” Shaking her hips, Aniyah looked around the kitchen, noticing something was missing. “Hold up…no microwave?”

“You can use the stove to heat a TV dinner.”

“Whatever.” Aniyah rolled her eyes.

“Change your style of dressing. Start off fresh by getting yourself decent work. And, find a good man that you can start a family with,” Tessa lectured with an air of sophistication.

Aniyah stared at her aunt as though she were a hated prison guard. She had not thought about a job. She twirled around. Cheerfully, she said, “I can use a money man.”

“It’s nothing like making your own money.”

Aniyah walked past her aunt, stepping back into the living room. Tessa followed behind her while Aniyah searched for any sign of communication technology.

“No telephone in here?”

Tessa shook her index finger at her. “When you get work, you can buy one.”

“If you want me to get a job, at least get me a cell phone.”

“For now, no phone. I’ll be coming by to check on you.”

Aniyah slouched down on the futon. She shoved her fist into the cushion, feeling the steel frame underneath. “I hate being broke.”

“In due time, you’ll find work. Make your own money.”

“I have no skills. No one will hire me.”

“There has to be something you like to do or you can go to college.”

“Aunt Tessa, getting out of jail is not the same as getting out of high school. I didn’t just graduate. No college for me.”

“You know how to clean.”

Aniyah jumped to her feet. Her mind went to the days she was forced to clean the toilet in her jail cells. Enraged, she yelled, “Hell to the no. I’ll die before I scrub another toilet.”

“It’s an honest living.”

“Never!” Aniyah snapped as she sat back down. “I’ll find something else to do.”

“Start looking for some kind of work.”

Aniyah banged her fist on the table. “I need money now.”

Tessa eased her way near the door. Digging in her purse, she pulled out a few bills. “This should be enough to get you by.”

Aniyah hurried over to her, snatching the money out of her aunt’s hand. Before she shoved the bills down in her bra, she counted up to a hundred.

“The rent on this apartment is paid in full for three months. By then you should’ve found work.”

“Give me a break. That’s not enough time.”

“You must have work by then. Baron won’t allow me to give you any more money after that.”

“He rules you.”

“Nonsense. We agreed on that decision.”

“Tell him what you want…you’re his wife, Mrs. Tessa Sanchez-Chavis. Stop being too easy.”

“I’m loyal to my husband. He’s a good man. I won’t let you ruin my marriage. Three months it is.” Tessa peered at her through hooded eyes.

Aniyah heard the authority in her aunt’s voice and said no more. She was not about to let three months turn into get-out-right-now.

“In the drawer, there’s a nightgown for you to rest in.” Tessa jingled her car keys as she made her way to the door. “I must go. I must prepare dinner for my husband.”

“I need to eat, too.”

“Heat your dinner. I pray you’ll turn your life around. My sister would want that for you. I’ll see you in a few days. And for God’s sake, don’t go anywhere near Milandra, Noelle or Kenley Houston. Baron and I have agreed not to disturb them about your release. They’re in a good place in their lives.”

Aniyah chuckled. “The fake sisters are history to me. I’m going to be in a much better place then, them uppity snobs.”

“I have faith that you’ll do fine, once you find work.” Tessa noticed she still had the apartment key in her hand. “You’ll need this.” She tossed the key to Aniyah. “Don’t lose it.”

Following her aunt outside, Aniyah watched as she got into her vehicle. “Weak bitch,” she hollered, once Tessa drove away.

Back into the apartment, Aniyah slammed the door behind her. She stood in the middle of the living room, sniffing the stale odor. She screamed, “I’m still in jail. The one time my Aunt Tessa could do right by me and she put me in a hell hole.”

Aniyah went into the bedroom. She bounced on the bed. “Dead mattress,” she fussed. “Aunt Tessa is going home to her fancy bed. I’ve got to sleep on a board for a mattress. Once again she shouted, “Weak bitch. Get a job, no way. My job will only be to find me a man with money. You and anyone else that gets in my way, will pay for treating me like I’m beneath you.”

( Continued… )

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

Purchase Do What You Gotta Do by Christine Young-Robinson

Genre: Fiction. Suspense

About the Author
Christine Young-Robinson is the author of the novel, We Didn’t See It Coming and the short story “Miss Amy’s Last Ride,” which featured in the anthology, Proverbs for the People.  A wife, mother, and grandmother, Christine resides in South Carolina. She is the co-chairperson of Eleuthera Book Club. Follow her on social media:


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