Monthly Archives: November 2015

#StorytellersBookTour: Intimate Conversation with Sadeqa Johnson

Intimate Conversation with Sadeqa Johnson
Sadeqa Johnsonis 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 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.

BPM:  When did you get your first inkling to write, and how did you advance the call for writing?
I’m originally from Philadelphia. As a kid, I started off wanting to be an actress. When I graduated high school, I moved to New York and attended Marymount Manhattan College as a Theatre Arts major. It was as a student that I started fooling around with poetry, which turned to playwriting, screenwriting and ended up with novel writing. I landed a job working in publishing after college and it was there that I became very serious about my writing. My first novel, Love in a Carry-on Bag took me over ten years to finish. I started writing it when I was a publicity manager at G.P Putnam’s Sons.

Every day I would close my office door at four o’clock and write for the last hour of the workday. On my commute home, I edited the pages. Once I got married, I left my corporate job to write and raise my children, but still nursed a burning desire to tell stories. I wrote during naptimes, between feedings, in the midst of sleep deprivation and my kid’s ear infections. The daily pressures of caring for a young family motivated me to finish the book. I was very much like Felicia in Second House From the Corner. As much as I loved being a mother, I didn’t want that role to be my only claim. I knew that it was important for me to carve out something that was only for me, and writing novels was it. My novels are my legacy.

BPM:  What makes your writing different than others?
I’m a lover of words and keep a thick, old school thesaurus on my desk, which I use to deepen the meaning of the text. I don’t like to rush when I’m writing, and I’ll work on a paragraph for three days if it takes that long to make it sound good. Although I’m a commercial fiction writer, I work to bring poetry, beauty and music to my work. My goal is to make readers pause over a delicious sentence, giving them no choice but to read it again.

BPM:  Can you share a little of your current work with us? Introduce us to your book and the characters.
I love everything about Second House From the Corner. In the novel, 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 Felicia’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 is forced to confront the family demons and long buried secrets she thought she had left behind.

BPM:  Did you learn anything personal from writing this book? 
I wrote Second House From the Corner in about a year and a half, which was much different from my ten-year haul with Love in A Carry-on Bag. I learned to outline and draft quickly, and then to just punch the story out and fix it later. There were a lot of loving hands that touched Second House From the Corner and for that I am so grateful and utterly proud of the finished product.

BPM:  What would you like to accomplish after this book is released? 
Don’t laugh, but my deepest desire is to be on the New York Times best sellers list. I have been putting that out into the Universe since day one so I know it’s going to happen. I also plan to sell the movie rights and be paid (well) to consult on set as the movie is being filmed. My children are going to love walking the red carpet. Selling the foreign rights and seeing my novel printed in several languages would also make me happy. Eventually I’d like to teach a writing group and get out on the motivational speaking circuit.

BPM:  Are any scenes from the book borrowed from your world or your experiences? 
Oh, yes. I am a mother of three children. My kids were about the age of Felicia’s when I started writing the book and a lot of her experience of feeling overwhelmed and worn out with the duties involved with caring for small children was what I felt as a young mother. I still feel it at least four times a week. She taps her way through it, I go to hot yoga, run and meditate to find my center.

BPM:  What should readers DO after reading this book? 
Tell all of their friends to buy a copy. I really believe it takes a village to make a best seller. Word of mouth is the best form of advertising so please, please tell a friend. Your review on and all of the retailer’s website would also be wonderfully helpful.

BPM:  What are your career goals as a writer? Have you accomplished most of them? 
Right now I really admire Attica Locke. She wrote a book called The Cutting Season that I couldn’t put down. Then one night I was watching the show Empire, and her name popped up in the credits as producer and writer. Immeditately, I had goosebumps. I’m so proud of my fellow writers when they cross over and do big things. As I sat watching, I thought, could I write for television?  Mmmm, I’m just going to let that thought marinate. Hosting a show on television would also tickle my fancy.

BPM:  What have you realized about yourself since becoming a published author? 
I’ve realized that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. Every moment in my life from going to college in New York City as Theatre arts major, to my first two jobs in publishing as a publicist, to starting my own publishing house and having to do everything possible to get the word out on Love in a Carry-on Bag has led me to this moment. I’ve worked hard, I deserve to be right here and my future is even brighter. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for me.

BPM:  What are you the most thankful for now?
I’m grateful for my health and the health of my family and close friends. I enjoy waking up every morning, getting my kids off to school (most times without arguments and tears but not always), putting on a pot of coffee and going to work in my robe. God is always amazingly good to me. Oh, and I have a sexy, supportive husband to boot.

BPM:  Do you have any advice for people seeking to publish a book?
Don’t quit. Writing takes time and dedication and it is very important to be true to the craft. Take writing classes, form a writing group and read as much as you can. Give yourself time and permission to grow, and be patient with yourself. Believe in your creativity above all. Allow the magic to flow.

BPM:  What’s next?
I’m working on my third novel, And Then There Was Me. It’s about deception and betrayal. It’s scheduled to be published by Thomas Dunne Books spring of 2017 so stay tuned. And click right over to my website, and subscribe to my blog. I’ll keep the latest news listed there. I’m on all of the social media outlets so get in touch with me. I’d really love to hear from you.  

Love, Light and Laughter.

Connect with Sadeqa Johnson 

Purchase Second House from the Corner: A Novel
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#StorytellersBookTour: Intimate Conversation with Alysia Burton Steele

Intimate Conversation with Alysia Burton Steele

Alysia Burton Steele
is a journalism professor at the University of Mississippi and author of Delta Jewels: In Search of My Grandmother’s Wisdom. In 2006, she was a picture editor for The Dallas Morning News photo team that won the Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News for their Hurricane Katrina coverage. She designed the National Urban League’s 100th commemorative poem booklet written by Maya Angelou. Prior to teaching, Steele was a photojournalist, who later became a photo editor at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Articles about her book have appeared in The New York Times,, USA Today, Chicago Sun-Times and Southern Living.

BPM: Tell us about your passion for writing. Where does it stem from?
My passion for writing comes from talking with others and sharing history. I focus on nonfiction, narrative stories. I am a journalist by trade and by passion. I’ve always enjoyed talking with people, so it’s just a natural fit to interview people and write about life experiences. I want more African-American history, as told by our people, to be in books. I want a better collection of oral histories. Our country needs it and I am convinced that if more young people-children read our stories, they’d understand their history that’s not mentioned in classrooms and in school books – and these stories should be included.

BPM: What was your primary quest in publishing Delta Jewels: In Search of My Grandmother’s Wisdom?
I did this book, Delta Jewels: In Search of My Grandmother’s Wisdom, because I missed my grandmother, Mrs. Althenia Aiken Burton. I moved to Oxford, MS to become a journalism professor at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, MS. I saw scenery in the Mississippi Delta that reminded me of my childhood summer days at Gram’s family home in Spartanburg, SC. I wanted to pick up the phone to call and tell her what I was seeing and feeling, but I couldn’t. She passed away 20 years go. She raised me from the time I was 4 years old and she died when I was 24 years old. I regret never really asking her about her life growing up in SC. And I started thinking about all the time I wasted arguing with her over boys, makeup, school, chores – instead of sitting down to listen and learn more about her. When you age you reflect on life. I missed my grandmother. I missed the smell of her perfume, the way she stood in the doorway to watch her loved ones leave. I thought about the skills I had acquired as a journalist and decided I would pay it forward and interview other people’s grandmothers. I wanted to take beautiful, dignified professional photographs of their grandmothers and record stories. Somehow, by the grace of God, it became a book.

BPM: Who did you write this book for? Why?
Initially, I wrote this book for me. I was on a personal journey to understand my grandmother’s contemporaries. It was never meant to be a book, but a project. I was going to self-publish to give the mothers, who agreed to be interviewed, a copy for their families. I couldn’t talk to my grandmother, but I could talk to the women of her generation. I needed their wisdom in my life. I missed my sweet Gram. After The New York Times wrote about my project, I received several offers to publish a book. So, Delta Jewels was published. I am hoping this book inspires MANY younger women to talk to their female elders, male too, but I want the women to have some glory. We need it. I want more African-Americans to record histories. In my opinion, there isn’t enough published in school books, so let’s publish it ourselves and teach our children.

BPM: Can you share some stories about people you met while researching this book?
I’ve met and have been welcomed into the lives of 54 new grandmothers and you know 19 pastors helped me. Couldn’t have done it with Clarksdale Mayor Bill Luckett, who gave me pastors’ cell phone numbers. I called one and we talked. That’s how it started. Rev. Juan Self was the first pastor, and he also the architect who redesigned the Memphis Civil Rights Museum. I drove 6,000 miles to interview women in 27 Mississippi Delta towns. 

I even got to interview Mrs. Myrlie Evers, widow of slain civil rights leader Mr. Medgar Evers. She even shares what “their song” was and it’s a precious moment for me. I’ve met Mrs. Tennie Self, 88, who was so angry when a car dealership refused to sell her a Cadillac, she drove almost two hours, bought one in Memphis and then drove past the dealership who refused to sell her one, honked the horn and waved at them everyday. 
I met Mrs. Leola Dillared, 103, who was thrown off a cotton plantation in Yazoo City, MS because she refused to have her little girls pick cotton. She wanted them to go to school. She was told she would be thrown off the land if she insisted because she would “ruin” the other blacks, who would want to send their children to school. She chose to be thrown off the land. All of her children have masters’ degrees and one has a Ph.D. 
I have Mrs. Velma Moore, 78, mother of 15, grandmother of 145 (yes, 145!) who dragged a woman out of church because she was talking about how fine Mrs. Moore’s husband was. She felt disrespected. The woman said she didn’t know he was her husband, but she meant what she said, so Mrs. Moore said she meant was she was fittin’ to do – and she punched the woman in the face. Stories that make you laugh, cry and beam with pride. I love each and every one of these mothers and am blessed to know them. Unfortunately four have passed away since the book came out nationwide on April 7, 2015. And this drives home the point of why we must capture our history.

BPM: Walk us through your journey to success. How did you get to this point? 
I started Delta Jewels in summer 2013, so it’s been two years. I didn’t know anyone, didn’t have a grant or sponsors. I saved up $50 here, $100 there – literally, for nine months, for gas money to go interview the women. They all lived two – four hours away from me, and I was teaching three classes at the time, but I drove on days I wasn’t teaching or went on weekends. Thank goodness for my husband who was, and continues to be, supportive. He held it down. He was there every step of the way. He’s a blessing and a man of God. I couldn’t have done it without him. It was tiring, but exhilarating. I had my own private history lesson for nine months – a time I treasure. If I could do this full-time for the rest of my life, I’d do it. I’d just go and collect stories and archive them. I love it. It’s my passion. 

Anyway, I reached out to one pastor, who agreed to meet me, hear what I wanted to do and liked my spirit and idea. He connected me to one mother, who connected me with another. In the end I had 19 pastors helping me, initially talking to the mothers for me, who would then talk to me. It was a domino effect. By chance I had a breakfast meeting with my assistant dean, several colleagues and a columnist for the NYT, who was intrigued by my project. Sam Freedman, the columnist, flew down, rode in the Delta with me and wrote about my project. The day it published in the NYT, I had a publisher writing to me. When God gives you a blessing, when you have a destiny, you follow it. I did what I was supposed to do. The women often thank me, but it was me they saved, so I thank them. I think I understand my Gram now. 
I’m filing my IRS paperwork to start the nonprofit called Delta Jewels Support Foundation. I am hoping to receive grants, donations to offer college scholarships to children who live in the Mississippi Delta, who attend or graduated from county and city schools only. I am also hoping to give the mothers honorariums and then I want to travel to teach oral history workshops to churches, school, universities, any organization that wants to learn how to do it. Again, I want a movement.

BPM: What has been your greatest challenge and how did you overcome it?
My greatest challenge was fear of the unknown. You have to listen to God and follow your destiny. You have to get out of your own way and do what you’re supposed to do. You’ll know it if you listen. I didn’t have the money, had no idea what I was doing, wasn’t knowledgeable about the Delta, but I did it and am so proud of myself. More importantly, I’m proud of the women for talking to a stranger, opening their hearts and homes – and memories to share. They shared so others could learn. What a blessing! The women thank me for what I’m doing for them, but I thank them. They saved ME from 20-year grief. It never goes away you know, but you just have to step out on faith. It sounds cliche, but it’s true. Step out and do what you’re supposed to do. Everything will work out the way it’s supposed to. Don’t let fear or the unknown deter you. God has you.

BPM: Do you feel as if your writing is making a positive impact on readers, women, or the world?
I’m receiving emails from people in Geneva, Rome, New Zealand, Australia, England – it’s wonderful. There’s so much appreciation from women all over the world who LOVE reading these stories. There are Caucasian men writing to me saying they learned so much and are having their teenage sons read the book. Imagine that! Just today, I promise you, I received this email – a woman told me she reads one story a night to her 6-year-old son. How precious is that? This books is cutting across race, gender and age and what a blessing – especially considering all the racial tension the media shows. The reality for many in our country is bleak with violence. Young adults are saying this book inspired them to find out more about their parents. It’s uplifting to know that my personal project, the one I did because I miss my sweet Gram, is helping and touching lives. That’s nothing but God.

BPM: What legacy do you think this book offers future readers? 
My writing offers the following legacy to future readers….the importance of oral history. I want to start a movement of recording more oral history from our elders. They say when an elderly person dies, a library burns down. I don’t want anymore libraries to burn down. We must interview our mothers, fathers, grandfathers, grandmothers. We must talk to each other more often and understand the importance of our contribution in American history, and we do that by recording more and saying thank you to our elders. I’m about to start my new book about cotton in a few weeks. More much needed oral history. I’m going to keep going.



#StorytellersBookTour: Intimate Conversation with Leonard Pitts, Jr.

Intimate Conversation with Leonard Pitts, Jr.

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).

Pitts’ work has made him an in-demand lecturer. He maintains a rigorous speaking schedule that has taken him to colleges, civic groups and professional associations all over the country. He has also been invited to teach at a number of prestigious institutions of higher learning, including Hampton University, Ohio University, the University of Maryland and Virginia Commonwealth University. In the fall of 2011, he was a visiting professor at Princeton University, teaching a course in writing about race.

Twice each week, millions of Miami Herald newspaper readers around the country seek out his rich and uncommonly resonant voice. In a word, he connects with them. Nowhere was this demonstrated more forcefully than in the response to his initial column on the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Pitts’ column, “We’ll Go Forward From This Moment,” an angry and defiant open letter to the terrorists, circulated the globe via the Internet. It generated upwards of 30,000 emails, and has since been set to music, reprinted in poster form, read on television by Regis Philbin and quoted by Congressman Richard Gephardt as part of the Democratic Party’s weekly radio address.

Born and raised in Southern California, Pitts now lives in suburban Washington, D.C., with his wife and children.

BPM: When did you get your first inkling to write, and how did you advance the call for writing?

People ask all the time: “Why did you decide to be a writer?” It’s a question I always struggle with, because I never decided to be a writer. In other words, there was a never a decision process, per se. I knew from the time I was five that this was what I was put here to do. So the goal for the remaining years of my childhood and, indeed, my professional life, was simply about trying to become good at it and then trying to become better. From the time I was young, I liked telling stories, I enjoyed getting reactions. I think all of us are given certain gifts, certain aptitudes, certain things that fit us, that seem to come more easily to us than they do to other people. For me, that was words. In school, I sweated and worked my tail off for “C” I ever got in math. But every “A” I got in English was as easy as pie.

BPM: Mr. Pitts, how did you get started as a writer?

Well, I began to think of myself as a writer from the time I was five years old, which was a good thing, because it gave me a lot of time to be bad at it. I started sending poems and stories to magazines when I was 12 years old, first became published when I was 14, and first got paid for being published when I was 18. I spent the next 18 years working primarily as a music critic for a variety of magazines and radio programs.

I was editor of SOUL, a black entertainment tabloid, did freelance work for such magazines as Spin, Record Review and Right On!, co-created and edited a radio entertainment news magazine called RadioScope and was a writer for Casey Kasem’s radio countdown show, Casey’s Top 40.

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

I write because it’s my profession, I write because it’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do. I write because, if it wasn’t my profession and nobody was paying me to do it, I know that I would be still be doing it. I write because this is what I love and it’s who I am. I think we tell stories to figure out who we are and what we are about and I am proud of being part of that continuum. I am also driven by the need to see if I can better my best. It’s a never-ending game of “Can you top this?”

BPM: Do you ever let the book stew – leave it for months and then come back to it?
I’ve never left a book for months. I’ve been forced to leave a book for weeks though, because sometimes, life intrudes. But the best way to write a book is in one long push of consistent, daily effort. A novel is, at bottom, an elaborate lie. It’s an unspoken bargain between writer and reader: I’m going to tell you this story of things that never happened – maybe never could happen – and in exchange for you suspending your disbelief, I’m obligated to make sure this tale I tell is entertaining, funny, gripping, suspenseful, emotionally involving, whatever. But to sell the “lie” you’re telling as a writer, you have to first believe it yourself. And I’ve found that if you stay away from a novel for too long, it can damage your ability to believe in the “lie” – the situations and characters you’re chronicling can start to seem cardboard, less real to you. And if you don’t believe in them, the reader definitely won’t.

BPM: Introduce us to your book, Grant Park and the characters.
Grant Park is a novel about racial disillusionment, friendship, and what I have taken to calling the “stupidification” of America.

Forty years ago, two young men had life-altering encounters with Martin Luther King. Malcolm, a black kid, was a college dropout who scorned nonviolent protest, and embraced street violence as a way of bringing social change. A chance meeting one night with King turned him around, forced him to see the limitations of street violence and convinced him to return to school. He was on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, about to share this news with King when James Earl Ray fired his fatal shot. He has never gotten over what he saw. Bob, a white kid, was attending a Bible college in Mississippi where he fell powerfully in love with Janeka Lattimore, a young black civil rights activist. They attended King’s last march – the one in Memphis that ended in a riot. Bob was beaten bloody by an angry young black man in the crowd and right after that, Janeka left him, saying she wanted to go to a black school now, saying she wanted to “be with her people.” “I thought I was your people, too,” said Bob. He has never gotten over losing her.

Forty years later, Malcolm is a celebrated columnist for a Chicago newspaper, burned out by one too many cases of police violence against unarmed African-Americans and white people not caring about. He writes an angry column – “I’m sick and tired of white folks’ bullshit,” he says – and when the newspaper refuses to publish it, he hacks his editor’s computer and publishes it anyway – one the front page of the paper, on Election Day of 2008. Then unbeknownst to anyone, he is kidnapped by two would-be white supremacist terrorists who intend to blow him up in Grant Park, where President–elect Barack Obama is scheduled to speak. 

Meantime, Bob is now an editor at a Chicago newspaper and before dawn on Election Day, he gets a phone call telling him one of his columnists has hacked his computer to publish an incendiary, offensive column. Bob gets fired for it. The former civil rights activist was already sick and tired of black people always complaining, never being satisfied. Now he’s lost his job over black people’s whining, and he’s furious, ready to strangle Malcolm – if he can only find him. Then he gets an email. Janeka is back in town and she wants to see him.

BPM: Are any scenes from the book borrowed from your world or your experiences?
Oh, yes. Much of the frustration Malcolm experiences in dealing with white readers who will not engage on the subject of racial injustice is something I have experienced firsthand. And the one reader email that sends him over the edge is cobbled together from hundreds of similar emails I have received over the years. I identify with Malcolm’s angst, though not with his chosen solution.

BPM: What are your goals as a writer? Do you set out to educate? Entertain? Inspire? 
I think you write to entertain, first and foremost, to tell a story a reader will lose herself or himself in. You try to create characters that will seem real to the reader and then put those characters into situations of physical or emotional danger. Secondarily, you hope that in entertaining people, you can also manage to say something of value, make some observation that will touch them or inspire them or cause them to see old things in new ways.

BPM: What are some of the benefits of being an author that makes it all worthwhile?
Writing a novel is a year, two years, or more of lonely work, staring at blank screens and not really knowing if what you’re doing works or makes any kind of sense. So the best thing about being published is receiving feedback from readers. When somebody tells me they were hurt by something one of my characters did, or a situation a character found him or herself in made that reader cry, that is the highest validation and best compliment I can ever receive. It means the characters seemed real and the story works. Feedback is what makes that lonely year or two worthwhile.

BPM: What’s the most important quality a writer should have in your opinion?
Probably persistence. You have to believe in and hone your talent as a writer and cling to it, sometimes against all odds and common sense. You have to eat rejection for breakfast.

BPM: Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from reading your book?
I want them to gain enjoyment and entertainment obviously. I’d love for them to think about some of the issues the book raises.  If you or your readers would like to set up a Skype visit to discuss Grant Park or Freeman, go to my website and contact me there:  I’m available for blog tours as well.

BPM: How may our readers follow you online? 
Keep up with Leonard at his website: 
Read Miami Herald column at:  
Like Leonard Pitts on FB:
Follow on Twitter: Leonard Pitts Jr can be found at @LeonardPittsJr1.

Order Grant Park by Leonard Pitts Jr. 


Other Titles by Leonard Pitts, Jr.
* Becoming Dad
* Before I Forget
* Forward From this Moment
* Freeman
* Grant Park


#StorytellersBookTour: Intimate Conversation with Quentin Holmes

Intimate Conversation with Quentin Holmes

Author, entrepreneur and brand creator, Quentin “Q” Holmes has dedicated his life to empowering the world’s youth through trendsetting literature, media, and fashion. The son of a hard-working father whose career advancement moved the family to nearly every region of the country, Quentin gained exposure to people from all walks of life. Quentin earned his bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication from the University of Michigan, further enriching his perspective on social diversity.

The Real Street Kidz book series, created in 2009, promotes positive life messages to modern day youth. Examples of multiculturalism, along with heightening positive individual differences to achieve success, are a continuous theme across the books of this exceptional series. This type of awareness builds reading patterns of success for kids everywhere. Through reading Chasing Action, Art of Authenticity, and Good Ideas, Quentin hopes that kids will begin thinking “outside the box” and realize that teamwork and individuality are the greatest formula for success.

BPM: When did you get your first inkling to write?

In high school I wrote my first poem. It was well received by my teacher and the class. It was at that moment that I discovered I had a talent for writing, I viewed writing as a good way to creatively express myself, and I also learned that writing was a great way to connect with and inspire people.

BPM: Why did you decide to write a multicultural children’s book series?
In 2009, I developed a children’s brand called the Real Street Kidz, which captures the real essence of modern preteens who have broken out of society’s stereotypical boxes and embraced new trendsetting styles, fashions and interests of kids in other cultures. Multiculturalism, along with the heightening of positive individual differences for success, is a key theme across the books in this series. It is this type of awareness that builds a pattern of success for kids everywhere, no matter their background. Through reading Chasing Action, Art of Authenticity, and Good Ideas, I hope that kids will begin to think “outside the box” and realize that teamwork and individuality is the greatest formula for success.

BPM: Why should parents buy these books for their children?
Filled with colorful characters, rising action and page-turning suspense, the Real Street Kidz series and its accompanying website gives preteens, as well as anyone involved with young people, easy-to-read, empowering and entertaining lessons on friendship, teamwork, social diversity, and overcoming adversity.

BPM: Please introduce us to your new Real Street Kidz book, Good Ideas.
Q, Jazz, Chase, Ginger, Los, Kawena, and Lucky, are the adventure seeking Real Street Kidz. An extraordinary group of kids who live life in a big way and prove that you’re never too young to make a difference. During the summer the Real Street Kidz Chased Action and mastered the Art of Authenticity, but with the arrival of a new school semester the RSK are in serious need of Good Ideas. The kids are immediately faced with frustrating challenges from a rigid new school’s “Pilot Program,” that includes excessive pop-quizzes, strict dress codes, and a disgusting “healthy choice” menu.

Things really get worse when their old rival Junior puts the entire school in jeopardy with his “Me First” re-election campaign for school president. Q and Jazz decide to run against him to stop Junior’s reckless campaign from ruining the student body, but that’s when things become even worse! The entire school becomes divided and everyone is desperate for an infusion of Good Ideas to help put things back together again. Whose side will the friends choose? Which side would you choose? Making the wrong choice could cost everyone a lot more than just a school election; it could cost everyone a better world!

BPM: In addition to the new book, tells us about your new Good Ideas video.
Online I found that people love to talk about what’s wrong with today’s generation. However, as I researched the good ideas being developed by pre-teen today for my new book, I became inspired by the large number of kids that were making a difference through social ideas, tech ideas, and green ideas. I decided to team up with Boys & Girls Club of Watts (California) to start a social conversation on good ideas for today’s generation of kids.

We developed a short form video that is posted on YouTube that we hope will inspire kids around the globe to CREATE, SHARE, and PARTICIPATE in GOOD IDEAS. Take a look at the video today at Please share the video on your social networks using the hashtag #GoodIdeas. Also, please highlight the good ideas of the preteens on your social network. Together we can all inspire the next generation to make a difference and we can change the online conversation to celebrate the #GoodIdeas of today’s generation.

BPM: Why should teachers introduce your book series into their classrooms? 
Fostering a love for reading should be a goal of every teacher. Books for many children often serve as good friends that will be cherished forever. These friends can be from any part of the world. It is the job of every teacher to make sure that every student finds that one great literature “friend”, that students can relate to on many levels. The Real Street Kidz series is helping teachers make the connections for students across the globe.

I’m confident that the Real Street Kidz books and the free Teacher’s Guides (book #1 & #2 only) will provide them with useful resources to assist them in the classroom. Through the series and this guide, I also hope that students will continue to look at character and not appearances.  Teacher’s can download the guides for free at

BPM: How may our readers follow you online? 

Please visit the Quentin Holmes Amazon Author Page

Author website:

BPM: Book Clubs and Youth Group Request Interviews (In-person or via Skype Video)
Select the Real Street Kidz series for your book club meeting and Quentin will join you in person, via webcam or via speaker phone. To schedule Quentin’s visit, email him at

Order Real Street Kidz: Good Ideas by Quentin Holmes


#StorytellersBookTour: Intimate Conversation with Tracey Fagan Danzey

Intimate Conversation with Tracey Fagan Danzey

Tracey Fagan Danzey
is an author and occasional blogger who has been described more than once as a natural storyteller. It is her passion for writing that allows her to create an experience, conjure emotions and share vivid views for her readers through her pictorial descriptions. To further pursue her craft and aspirations of becoming a published author, Tracey elevated her commitment by becoming a member of the Westport Writers’ Workshop, critique groups and book clubs.

“Where Is The Box For Someone Like Me?” is a project that advanced in the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest and has since developed into Tracey’s debut novel, “Jasper’s Cafe On The Boulevard”.

BPM: Tell us about your passion for writing. Why do you write? What drives you?
What’s the best thing about being a writer? Well, that’s easy for me to answer. It’s being able to create lifestyles and events as I see fit. With the stroke of a pen and my generous imagination, I can allow my friends (characters) to live the reader’s dreams or to overcome common obstacles, or simply fall in love! I’ve always been described as that child with a vivid imagination! Oh . . . I was SO dramatic and everything I did was in the form of a mini-production. Whenever I told a story, people surrounded me and would cling onto my forming words.

BPM: Do you set out to educate or inspire, entertain or illuminate a particular subject?
Yes indeed! I’m not that writer who likes to write in vain; I want to be used and inspire. It’s my intention to absolutely entertain with humor and create getaways for the reader. However, I do like to present real-life controversial situations with the hope of igniting discussions that will be corrected through dialogue. I don’t want to be a preachy writer! I prefer to be much more subtle and make the reader flush it out.

BPM: Can you share a little of your current work with us? Introduce us to your book and the characters.
“Jasper’s Café,” was written to spotlight, celebrate and share the many positive aspects of Black culture, encourage women’s relationships with one another and crossing cultural groups, while bridging common gaps and sharing our strength! Equally important for me was to showcase coveted and authentic depictions of successful Black love . . . this writing would leave no doubt that we love too! I wanted to ensure that my readers would experience the purest and most transcendent relationships that I could conjure through words. It worked!  My readers have let me know that Torie’s success as both a professional and classy sexy woman worked. This combination allowed her to be the perfect match for one specific suitor. 

Quinn Matthews and Nigel Brooks have proven to be the barometers of what it takes and means to be a real man. This doesn’t mean perfection, but it does mean bringing a combination of core essentials to the relationship in order to sustain it. I’m not going to give it all away, just know that you will close this book feeling inspired, warm and hopeful!

BPM: What are some of the benefits of being an author that makes it all worthwhile?
Hands down, getting to meet so many kind and beautiful spirited women! You know, I have been on the road for the past few months promoting and sharing “Jasper’s Café On The Boulevard,” in Maryland, New York, Connecticut, etc. I am always amazed and flattered that a reader wants to spend time speaking with me. Seriously, the time that a reader is willing to devote to coming out to these events, to have read my book and further wants to share their experience with it . . . Ah! I’m tearing up. I can’t tell you what that means to any writer. I thank each of you from the core of my being!

BPM: What are you the most thankful for now?
Very simple. I am incredibly thankful for life, getting to be among the living and living a dream like this, with people like you!

BPM: We are here to shine the spotlight on your new book, but what’s next? 

I am currently working on the sequel to “Jasper’s Cafe On The Boulevard” and I’ve titled it “A View From Harlem.” Yes ladies, that chocolate surprise that was introduced later in Jasper’s Café! This sequel shares the perspective of Harlem Brooks as he struggles to shift his naughty past behavior into something positive. I really have committed my writing to celebrate our Black men and Black love, so it’s a pleasure to have a say as the author.



#StorytellersBookTour: Intimate Conversation Nicki Night

Intimate Conversation Nicki Night

Nicki Night is an edgy hopeless romantic who enjoys creating stories of love and new possibilities. Nicki has a penchant for adventure and is currently working on penning her next romantic escapade.

Nicki resides in the city where dreams are made of, but occasionally travels to her treasured seaside hideaway to write in seclusion. She enjoys hearing directly from readers and can be contacted on Facebook, through her website at, or via email at

BPM: How did you get to be where you are in your life today? Who or what motivated you? 
I’ve always been unable to ignore the voices inside of me that propel me to try things out. I’ve always said that I never wanted to live with regrets so when I realize writing was more of a passion than a hobby that I enjoyed doing every now and then, I decided to take it serious and set out on a journey to see where it would take me and here I am–with no regrets.

BPM: Who does your body of literary work speak to? Do you consider authors as role models? 
My works speak to those who enjoy being entertained, inspired, taken away and even educated. I wholehearted believe that authors are role models and we should take responsibility for what we write and portray in our work. It’s a great responsibility. People often state that they don’t want to be considered a role model, however once you are in a certain light, you don’t necessary have the benefit to make that decision. People will make you a role model whether you are willing to be one or not. That comes with a certain level of exposure.

BPM: What inspired you to sit down and actually start writing this book? Why now? 
The joy of seeing African American men portrayed in glowing lights. My male characters are flawed just like any other regular human, but these men and also great black men who are loving, responsible, hardworking, committed, intelligent, compassionate, and oh-so-fine. These are men like my husband, my friends, and my father. This is the total opposite of how black men are often portrayed in the media. It’s not that they don’t exist. It’s that they miss the spotlight unless there’s some kind of scandal connected to them. I like giving light to good black men. Why now? My answer is, why not now?

BPM: What did you enjoy most about writing this book? 
There is so much that I enjoyed about writing this book. I love the happy ending. I love the characters and I love that the characters were not perfect. I also love that this was something new for me, being my first romance book and I’m so happy with how it came out.

BPM: Where do your book ideas come from? Are your books plot-driven or character-driven? 
My book ideas can come from anywhere–a conversation, a dream, or just my imagination. My books are often both driven by the plot and character. There is no specific reason. It depends on the story and the character. Often one will step up and take the front seat and I will flow with that.

BPM: Could you tell us something about your most recent work? 
Her Chance at Love is available everywhere in print and digitally. This book is a crazy little ride through the lives of two attorneys–one who is set on her career and has ruled dating out of her life due to a bad break up. That is Cadence Payne. The other is Blake Barrington, a cocky lawyer who’s really a gem under all of his confidence. He’s determined to get Cadence to admit she wants him as much as he wants her and begins making headway until a political scandal hits and he finds himself dead smack in the middle of it. Now he has to prove both his innocence and his love.

BPM: Give us some insight into your main characters or speakers. What makes each one so special? 
I just love Blake Barrington. He’s this cocky attorney and one of the most eligible bachelors on the legal scene along with his handsome brothers. He knows he’s a great catch and isn’t afraid to own that. He’s capable of having his share of women and when he decides that it’s Cadence that he wants, he turns up the charm into high gear. The thing about him is that he’s an envelope pusher all the way around and he does things that many men would never do when they’re trying to capture a woman’s heart. He’s such a risk-taker.

BPM: Are there under-represented groups or ideas featured in your book? If so, discuss them.
As I said before, I truly believe that great black men are under-represented in our society and I know for a fact that they exist. I could give you a list of names right now! I love this genre because it gives me a chance to tell stories about these men and celebrate them, while the world around us is so busy trying to tear them down. I want people to know that they exist. There isn’t a quality in Blake or his brothers, Hunter and Drew, that I didn’t get from a man I personally know. These are good black men with careers, morals, values, and so much more.

BPM: How does your book relate to your present situation, education, spiritual practice or journey?
None of my books really relate to me personally, at least not intentionally. They allow me to go off in my imagination just like the reader. However. I will say that I have a great black man and he could very well be Blake or one of his brothers. As far as my spirituality is concerned, everything that I do is part of my spiritual journey. I write because that’s the gift God gave me to use in this world.

BPM: Did you learn anything personal from writing your book? Can you share some stories about people you met while researching this book?
I always try to learn something new in the process of writing my books. Mostly vocabulary. I always look for new words that I can learn and use in my text. I don’t mind reading a book and having to go to my dictionary app to check it’s meaning. It makes me feel smarter. I also learned a lot about the legal process to make sure that the parts of the book that addressed how the scandal was handled legally were authentic. I have a friend who is a lawyer and he helped me shape the story so that when Blake got into trouble, I could appropriately depict how the mess could be handled.

BPM: What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
I want this book to be a best-seller. I want every romance reader to come to know Nicki Night. I want people to enjoy the book and be reminded that men like these exist. This book and Nicki Night are just hitting the scene so I’m looking forward to seeing how everything flows, but I trust that it will be a hit!

BPM: What projects are you working on at the present?
Her Chance At Love is part of a three-book series. I’ve just finished the second book in the series with Hunter, Blake’s older brother. I’ve beginning to work on the last book in the series, which will be Drew’s story. I’ve also outlined a new series for my publisher that I’m really excited about.

BPM: How can readers discover more about you and your work? 
I can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Here are my links. I welcome everyone to follow me and get connected.



Purchase Her Chance at Love by Nicki Night
Romance Series: The Barrington Brothers


#StorytellersBookTour: Intimate Conversation with Tracie Loveless-Hill

Intimate Conversation with Tracie Loveless-Hill

Tracie Loveless-Hill
was born and raised in Waterloo, Iowa. She has been married for 26 years to the love of her life, Cedric. They have two wonderful children, both adults: Taneya and Cedric II.

Tracie attended Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi and later Hawkeye Community College, earning associates degrees in Criminal Justice and General Studies. Her plans are to further her education with hopes of attaining B.A. Degrees in Criminology and Social Work, with aspirations of working with women in and transitioning from the prison system.

Tracie has enjoyed singing with two local community gospel groups and loves to sing at weddings, funerals, and other social events. Her hobbies include writing, collecting porcelain dolls and elephants with their trunks pointing upwards–a symbol of good luck and prosperity. Her latest achievement’s was putting a fully operating media center in her church for the community. But the biggest joys in her life are curling up with a good novel, listening to traditional gospel music, working for the betterment of her community, or just spending time with those she loves the most: her family.

BPM: When did you get your first inkling to write, and how did you advance the call for writing?

I have always loved to write. Poetry, short stories, etc…. I even wrote poems for my college newspaper. I really begin to write seriously after becoming disabled. But I had no idea that anyone would be interested in my stories or what I had to say.

BPM: Tell us about your passion for writing. Why do you write? What drives you?
When I am writing it is like when you first fall in love, especially when I am in a zone. It is like an emotional high for me. There is no better feeling than to write what is in your heart and to get it out, To make it all come together.

BPM: Are there any areas of your writing career that you wish you could go back and change?
No. You should never apologize or regret what has come from your soul.

BPM: What hurdles, if any, did you have to overcome as a new author and business owner?
Patience. I had to learn patience. Because things do not come to you overnight. Money, recognition, fans, etc…none of it comes before you put in the work.

BPM: What’s the most important quality a writer should have in your opinion?
Being able to evoke emotions in the reader. When that reader closes that book you want them to be able to take a deep breath and feel satisfied. Like they have been on a roller coaster of a journey.

BPM: At what point in your career did you discover your real worth and own it?
When I realized that writing made me feel good. But when people come up to me and tell me that one of my books have helped them through something, something difficult. One young man said that this book helped him through his mother’s death. And a young woman in her 30’s died from cancer. She loved the book so much that her family actually placed it in her hands in her casket. My mother died from cancer and believe me this took me away. It made me realize that what I was doing meant something.

BPM: Introduce us to your book and the characters.
Acts of Betrayal is a Christian Fiction  novel with a street edge. Michael and Lorece Moreland were high school sweethearts. Their faith is truly tested when they hit upon hard times. The meet a Bishop and his very well known in the community and extremely aggressive wife. She promises to take their 5 children in until they are able to get on their feet. In the process secrets comes out about past lives. And they are in for a fight when they have to go up against the Bishop and his wife.

BPM: What would you like to accomplish after this book is released?

To be honest more fans. I have places a full access media center in my church for our community. It is for children as well as adult’s that do not have access to computers. And I have every type of book that you want to read in it. Law, Black History, Biographies and so on. I feel that more books will allow me to do more in my community.

Order Acts of Betrayal by Tracie Loveless-Hill

Order Preying Time by Tracie Loveless-Hill

#StorytellersBookTour: Intimate Conversation with Vanessa Riley

Intimate Conversation with Vanessa Riley

The Regency era (early 1800s), which captivated Vanessa Riley, also made her wonder why faces of color who were integral to the building of this society: serving in her wars, adding to her arts, loving and dying for her causes, were missing. Now she brings the flavor of diverse peoples to these stories, restoring these old souls to historical romances for all the world to read. Riley is the author of “The Bargain”, A Port Elizabeth, South African Regency serial and Regency novels: “Unmasked Heart”, Madeline’s Protector, and “Swept Away.”

BPM: When did you get your first inkling to write, and how did you advance the call for writing?
I’ve been writing and telling stories since I was a little girl. I remember keeping myself and my younger brothers enthralled with sweeping tales of adventure. By the time I was seventeen I began winning writing competitions. But, like many college-bound students, I put creative writing on hold, while I pursued degrees in Engineering. I made myself very busy building a career in Technology.

It wasn’t until my husband and I were expecting our first child, that God got a hold of me. I suddenly had to slow down and set my pen to paper. He gave me a gift, and it wasn’t just to write technical briefs! Obedient to this calling, I read books, I took courses, and I joined writing organizations like the American Christian Fiction Writers organization. I did everything to strengthen my craft. My first novel, Madeline’s Protector, was published by Pelican in 2013. It hit the top ten on in December of that year.

BPM: Tell us about your passion for writing. Why do you write? What drives you?
I love sweeping romances with a holy passion. The hero and heroine are challenged by their goals and desires, and by their Faith, too. I want to write words that have the power to energize the possibility for change. Maybe my words will help to change how you see things, or the words might offer a new perspective on how to deal with life. Mostly, I just want my words to affirm who you are in God’s eyes.

BPM: What hurdles, if any, did you have to overcome as a new author and business owner?
For me the biggest hurdle is to learn how to grow my audience. I write Regencies or Jane Austen sounding work. In my stories I love to show the reader how we are all woven into God’s ‘Fabric of Time’. People of color didn’t disappear after 300 BC suddenly to return as slaves in 1865. We are in the fabric of time. Our stories need to be told. I want to capture my reader’s imagination, so they lose themselves in the tales I weave.

BPM: What’s the most important quality a writer should have in your opinion?
I believe a writer should be hungry and fully awake with a thirst to do amazing things. Readers can taste passion in every bite of a book. We honor our readers by writing with passion and meaning.

BPM: Our life experiences, challenges and success help define who we are on many levels. At what point in your career did you discover your real worth and own it?
I am still very new in my career. I began to get emails and letters about how my books touched a reader. I’ve been told that I bring joy with my words. This gives me a strong sense of fulfillment. The stories in my head are meant to help someone. I’m sure of it! If I can bring you a smile or offer hope, I’d say I’ve been that hungry writer who has passion and commitment.

BPM: Can you share a little of your current work with us? Introduce us to your book and the characters.
There is that moment in a good book, when all secrets are exposed and there is nowhere to run. In Unmasked Heart Gaia Telfair discovers the truth about her illicit birth. She is not a gently-bred daughter of a gentleman, but a mulatto who has been passing for white. Her world changed. In a time where birthright defined everything about your life, she had to learn to love herself and to know she was worthy of love. Just as she was ready to tell her secret, the man who is the one for her, learns his father was responsible for destroying hers. Everything changes again.

I write very long novels and serials. A serialized story is told in episodes. The episode is completed by solving one problem. The overarching problem—will the couple be together? Will they survive the war? Those problems are resolved as the season is released.

The Bargain, a serialized Regency Romance, is set in the colony of Port Elizabeth, South Africa. I love the multicultural cast of warriors, brothel workers, heroes and heroines. The theme of this first season is about scars. Are you defined by your scars? Precious Jewell was an enslaved maid from Charleston, who has to decide if she is defined by her own scars. Her scars are both physical and emotional. I hope The Bargain challenges readers to deeply examine these lies, to uncover who we are in God’s Light.

BPM: We are here to shine the spotlight on your new book, but what’s next? 
The finale episode IV of The Bargain releases November 22, 2015. This series has really captured readers’ imagination. Good news! Season Two releases in Fall of 2016. All of your favorites (if they lived) will be around in the next season. The central story will surround cast members you met in season one. I will also be releasing a Regency Romantic suspense in Spring of 2016, Unveiling Love. This one will keep you on the edge of your seats! You’ll be rooting for celebrated mulatto barrister Bradley Norton, and his half-Egyptian, half-Spanish wife, Ariana. Together we will solve the mystery of London’s Dark Walk Abductor.

Follow Vanessa on Social Media:

Books on Amazon:

Unmasked Heart (Challenge of the Soul Book 1)

The Bargain (A Port Elizabeth Regency Tale: Season One Book 4)


#StorytellersBookTour: Intimate Conversation with Nicole Hampton

Intimate Conversation with Nicole Hampton

Born in the South Suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, Nicole Hampton’s love for reading developed at an early age. She often spent hours becoming lost in the worlds of characters of her favorite books. Reading offered an opportunity for Nicole to dream about life outside of her community and fed her desire to want to explore the world beyond her modest surroundings. Wanting to find a way to help people see the struggles in their lives differently, Nicole wrote skits and plays for her church that addressed real life issues, and helped people to see God in their situations. The accolades given by those who saw her plays fueled her determination to write her first novel, Glimmer in the Darkness, and continue to address issues that occur in day-to-day life.
Nicole earned a Master’s Degree in Social Work, and utilizes the skills and knowledge learned to address the issues presented in her debut novel in a manner that allows people to connect and understand the struggles of her characters. Nicole lives in North Carolina, is a dedicated wife and mother of six, who spends any time she can snatch, developing characters and story lines to share with her readers.

BPM: When did you get your first inkling to write, and how did you advance the call for writing? 

My desire to become an author developed in 2006. It was a long process getting from having a thought to actually writing a novel. When I finally built up the nerve and become serious, I took writing courses and was surprised to find out that I knew quite a bit about the process. I didn’t stop there, I have attended as many workshops as I possibly could about writing and publishing and sought the advice of other authors and people in the writing and publishing business. Doing those things was a great investment of my time and resources. It took a couple of years to actually finish Glimmer in the Darkness, but I learned a lot during the process; the most important being how to become disciplined with my time. 

BPM: Tell us about your passion for writing. Why do you write? What drives you?
When I write, I feel empowered and a deep sense of satisfaction that I have not ever felt with my other profession. I write, because I want to touch the lives of others on a larger scale. I am driven by wanting to do what I never thought imaginable, that is to live my life with no regrets, to dare to dream and be willing to fail a time or two, along the path leading to my idea of success.

BPM: What hurdles, if any, did you have to overcome as a new author and business owner?

The largest hurdle I have had to overcome is being afraid of rejection. I had to come to the realization that I could write the most beautiful novel ever created, and someone will still find fault with it. There will always be someone who will not like it. Another major obstacle that I had to overcome is time. My life prior to writing a novel was extremely busy with meeting the needs of my family and working a full time job. However, I had to learn to make time for myself and pursue what I found to be important.

BPM: Can you share a little of your current work with us? Introduce us to your book and characters.

My debut novel, Glimmer in the Darkness will take readers into the life of Shannon Johnson, who much like the rest of us, poured her everything into her family. So much so, that she didn’t realize that part of her family unit was suffering, until the unthinkable occurred.

Daniel Johnson, is Shannon’s hard working husband, who is a great provider, but does not do well with communicating his needs to his wife. Daniel feels unappreciated and opens a door in his marriage that he will never be able to close.

Vaneetra James, is the bane of Shannon’s existence. Her presence in Shannon’s and Daniels life, has brought about earth shaking challenges.

BPM: What genre is this book? Do you write all of your books in this category? Why?

Glimmer in the Darkness is a women’s contemporary fiction novel. At this time, I have not written in any other genres, but have plans to write children’s book, one in particular to address traumatic injury. I would one day love to write mystery and suspense novels.

BPM: What should readers DO after reading this book?

After reading this book, readers should encourage their friends to buy and read Glimmer in the Darkness, so that they can have a conversation about the real life issues addressed in it.

BPM: What are your career goals as a writer? Have you accomplished most of them?

My number one career goal is to be able to write full time. After I accomplish that, I plan to write across a couple of different genres. Overall, my goal is for any book I write to help the reader in some form or fashion.

BPM: What have you realized about yourself since becoming a published author?

I have realized that I possess courage to step outside of my bubble and educate people on Nicole. Prior to this journey, that was something I did not think I could do.

BPM: What are some of the benefits of being an author that makes it all worthwhile?

When people reach out to me and tell me how my novel touched their lives, it makes it all worthwhile.

BPM: What are you the most thankful for now?

I am most thankful for the love and support of my family and friends. They have motivated me to keep pressing forward to live my dreams.

BPM: Do you have any advice for people seeking to publish a book?

My advice for people seeking to publish a book is to put God first in everything that you do. Stay in prayer, and ask him to frame your every move. Write with the idea of wanting to touch someone’s life. Always remain determined and be willing to travel the distance. Leave room for error and learn from your mistakes. Take classes, attend workshops, seek and take advice from other professionals in the business. Finally be willing to work hard for free.

Twitter: @nicolehampton01 –

Purchase Glimmer in the Darkness by Nicole Hampton


#StorytellersBookTour: Intimate Conversation with Victoria Christopher Murray

Intimate Conversation with Victoria Christopher Murray

With over one million books in print, Victoria Christopher Murrayis one of the country’s top African American contemporary authors.  Victoria always knew she would become an author, even as she was taking an unlikely path to that destination. A native of Queens, Victoria first left New York to attend Hampton University where she majored in Communication Disorders. After graduating, Victoria attended New York University where she received her MBA.

Victoria spent ten years in Corporate America before she tested her entrepreneurial spirit. She opened a Financial Services Agency for Aegon, USA where she managed the number one division for nine consecutive years. However, Victoria never lost the dream to write and when the “bug” hit her again in 1997, she answered the call.

Victoria originally self published her first novel, Temptation and in 2000, Time Warner published that novel. Temptation made numerous best sellers list and remained on the Essence bestsellers list for nine consecutive months. In 2001, Victoria received her first NAACP Image Award nomination for Temptation.

Since Temptation, Victoria has written over twenty other adult novels, including: JOY, Grown Folks Business, The Ex Files, The Deal, the Dance and the Devil, Never Say Never and the popular Jasmine Cox Larson Bush series.

Victoria has received numerous awards including the Golden Pen Award for Best Inspirational Fiction and the Phyllis Wheatley Trailblazer Award for being a pioneer in African American Fiction. Since 2007, Victoria has won seven African American Literary Awards for best novel, best Christian fiction and Author of the Year – Female. Her 2014 NAACP Image Award nomination for Never Say Never was her third Image Award nomination.

Several of Victoria’s novels have been optioned to become movies, including The Deal, the Dance and the Devil and the Ex Files series.

Victoria splits her time between Los Angeles and Washington D.C. In Los Angeles, she attends Bible Enrichment Fellowship International Church under the spiritual tutelage of Dr. Beverly “BAM” Crawford. She is also a very proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

BPM: How did you get to be where you are in your life today? Who or what motivated you?
I would have to say my parents had the greatest impact on my life. Not only did they have me believing that I was THE Queen Victoria (I was seven when I discovered that I wasn’t), but they made me believe that I could be and do anything. My parents have been my greatest supporters, my biggest fans and I’ve always wanted to do well and be well to make them proud. My father passed away and my mother is now in her eighties…and I still want to be the kind, generous, giving person that they raised me to be. I want to follow the examples that they set. I still want to make my parents proud and that drives me every day.

BPM: Who does your body of literary work speak to? Do you consider authors as role models?
Even though I’ve been considered a Christian fiction writer for a long time, I don’t feel like that’s who my writing speaks to alone. I write to speak to women who can see themselves in some of the situations that are plots in my novels. I want people to enjoy my books, and even receive a message. Now, I don’t write with messages in mind. Truly, I think that God meets the readers on the pages — of not only my books, but any book. And readers always receive the message they’re supposed to.

As far as being a role model, I think established authors are role models for up and coming authors and I take that responsibility seriously. I believe that not only am I responsible for telling entertaining stories, but I must help others who have the same dream. I have to.

BPM: What inspired you to sit down and actually start writing this book? Why now?
The idea for this book came to me over a year and a half ago, when the first verdict in the Michael Dunn trial came down. During the first trial, Michael Dunn (who shot into the car killing Jordan Davis) the jury couldn’t come back with a decision. It was a mistrial and so many people were angry with the jurors. But I had read the transcript and the judge’s instructions to the jury during the George Zimmerman trial and I knew that if anyone used the Stand Your Ground defense as part of their self-defense, that was going to be a hard case to prove. But most people didn’t know that, most people didn’t understand the law. Heck, most people didn’t know that Stand Your Ground was in dozens of states besides Florida.

So, I believed that I had a platform to not only entertain, but to educate and hope that the education would get us to stand our ground and do something about this legal license to kill. This law must be repealed in every state.

BPM: What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I’ve always felt a little challenged about the types of books that I’ve written. Yes, I try my best to tell entertaining stories, and yes, I work very, very hard on the craft so that with each book readers can see my growth (readers deserve that.) But to be honest, I’ve never felt that I’ve used this gift to do anything important. I’ve always wanted to write important books, books that make a difference, books that matter. I think Stand Your Ground is the first time I’ve accomplished this. And for me, that made writing this book enjoyable.

BPM: Where do you book ideas come from? 

Even though I “think” I get my ideas from things that happen in the news or around me, I honestly believe that all of my ideas have come from God. This writing is a gift that He’s given to me…a gift that He’s given to me completely. So I have the gift of writing well, I have the discipline to do it, and He’s even given me the stories.

BPM: Are you books plot-driven or character-driven?
My novels are more character driven than plot driven which can be an issue in this market. Readers love drama, drama, drama. (And I’m a reader who loves drama, so I can say that!) Character driven novels move slower because the story unfolds in the character’s time. But, I love being a character driven novelist. I love spending time with my characters (that’s why it takes me longer to write a book.) I love developing characters that stay with the readers long after the story is over.

BPM: Could you tell us something about your most recent work? Available on Kindle and Nook?
I’m going to sum up my most recent work in just a few words: A black teenage boy is dead. A white man shot him. Was he standing his ground? Or was it murder?

And yes, Stand Your Ground is available, on KindleNookiTuneseverything. It’s available in Barnes and Noble, Walmart and Target. There will even be an audio version with the actress Suzzanne Douglass reading the novel.

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

I wrote Stand Your Ground from two points of views: the first from the mother of the victim and the second from the wife of the shooter. I loved telling these two stories because there was such contrast — one black, one white…which tells the whole story in a situation like this. Janice Johnson is a mother who adores her only child, her son who she knew was special from when she carried him in her womb. And now she finds herself in the middle of a nightmare. Meredith Spencer is living a life of privilege, though her world is not all that it seems to be. And she has a secret; she knows something that could send her husband to prison for the rest of his life.

BPM: Are there underrepresented groups or ideas featured in your book? If so, discuss them.

That’s an interesting question. If there is any idea in Stand Your Ground that you don’t see often, it’s the anger that is brewing in the African American community with all of the murders that have come to light. We feel frustrated, and sometimes helpless. Those emotions play an important part in Stand Your Ground and were the driving forces that led to the shocking end of the book.

BPM: How does your book relate to your present situation or journey?

I don’t think this book has anything to do with my present situation alone. Stand Your Ground tells the collective story of all of our frustrations. The stories keep repeating themselves in the news: unarmed black teen murdered by a white man/a white cop/a black cop. It plays over and over. And I wonder what are these stories doing to the psyche of us as men, women, mothers, fathers…and especially, what happens when our young black boys see these stories over and over? That’s what I wanted to write about.

BPM: Did you learn anything personal from writing this book?

I learned everything that I could about the Stand Your Ground law so that I could pass it on to my readers.

BPM: Can you share any stories about people you met while researching this book?

It’s interesting that you ask that because for the first time, I received a lot of help from men when writing this book. I wanted to put the real emotions of black men on paper. I could imagine how this would affect a mother, but what are fathers thinking/feeling? So, I met a high-powered attorney in Philly who really helped me. And then a young entrepreneur, who actually owns a wine company; he really helped me with the ending of the book. So I’m a novelist who primarily writes for women, but this time, I needed the men to make it happen!

BPM: What projects are you working on at the present?

There are a few projects I’m working on — my 2016 novel…the working title is Madam Vice President about a black woman on the presidential ticket…as a Republican. And, I keep thinking about writing The Autobiography of Mae Frances, the story of one of my beloved characters — this is a story that readers continue to ask me to write.

Connect with Victoria Christopher Murray

Join the Movement: #standyourgroundthenovel
Twitter: @VictoriaECM,

Purchase Stand Your Ground  by Victoria Christopher Murray
Contemporary Women Fiction >African American Christian Fiction 

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