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Monthly Archives: May 2016

Intimate Conversation with Dorothy Love

Intimate Conversation with Dorothy Love

Dorothy Love is an award-winning author who brings her passion for history to her fiction writing in novels depicting the lives of 19th century American women. Known for her historical novels of mystery and suspense, Dorothy touches the minds and hearts of her readers through deep characterizations and the painstaking reconstruction of a lost world. Her new novel, Mrs Lee and Mrs Gray brings to life the enduring friendship between Mrs Robert E Lee and Selina Norris Gray, an enslaved woman at famed Arlington house, a friendship that left a lasting American legacy.

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

DL: My dad had to leave school at an early age to take care of his mother and younger siblings and never got to finish his education. I’m his first daughter and from my earliest days he read books to me, bought books for me, and recited poetry he had memorized. He filled our house with books and magazines. I especially remember The Saturday Evening Post with its Normal Rockwell covers. I loved making up stories based on the covers. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer.  In college I worked as a journalist and later as a free lancer but my goal was to write novels. I started attending writers workshops, studied the craft, and finally began publishing in 1994. It has been a great ride.

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

DL: I love history, especially the history of 19th century America. It was a time when women were not allowed to vote and when they were discouraged from any work except teaching. The Civil War brought terrible hardships to Southern women who were left to fend for themselves against an invading army. Despite everything, many 19th century era women managed to accomplish great things that often go unnoticed. Elizabeth Blackwell became the first American woman to get an medical degree. Harriet Tubman became an abolitionist, an armed scout and a Union spy. Emma Willard fought for women’s rights and established the Troy Female Seminary for the education of women. Elizabeth Allston Pringle took over the running of her family’s rice plantations after the Civil War. There are countless stories like theirs. My passion is to dramatize those stories in a way that entertains and educates readers.

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

DL: I would love to! Mrs Lee and Mrs Gray is a biographical novel about the enduring friendship between Mary Anna Randolph Custis Lee ( Mrs Robert E Lee) and Selina Norris Gray, an enslaved woman who became the head housekeeper at Arlington house. Mary was the only child of George Washington Parke Custis and Mary Lee Fitzhugh, and the heir to Arlington and its contents which included many of George Washington’s belongings.

Selina was born at Arlington, a second generation slave whose parents, Len and Sally Norris, are said to have been favorites of Mrs Custis. Mary and her mother taught the Arlington slaves to read and write. At some point Selina was brought into the house to train as a housekeeper. Mary Anna Custis, who was fifteen years older than Selina developed a particular affection for Selina that continued after Mary’s marriage to Robert E Lee. Mary, who suffered from arthritis almost all of her life was often at Arlington with her growing brood of children that would eventually number seven in all, and during these times, presumably the bond between Mary and Selina grew even stronger. A letter from Selina to Mary written the year before Mary’s death expresses Selina’s desire to see her old friend, and offers hope that Mary will regain ownership of Arlington that was illegally taken from her during the war. It was the
discovery of that letter that served as the catalyst for this novel.

BPM: What was your primary quest in publishing this book? Why now?

I had two goals in mind. One was to introduce readers to Mary Anna Custis Lee, who has so often been portrayed negatively in biographies of her husband. She has been described as slovenly, self centered, unattractive, and dull. General Lee was famously known as the handsomest man in the army, a brilliant soldier, and a talented engineer. Why would such a man choose as his wife an unattractive, selfish, stupid woman? I set out to learn more about Mary and discovered that although she admitted to being less than punctual and that she cared little for fashion, she was in fact exceptionally well educated for a woman of her times. She mastered four languages, read four newspapers every day, and became an accomplished painter of the people and landscapes of Arlington. One of her paintings of a young enslaved girl was recently purchased for the art museum in Williamsburg.

After her father’s death she edited his “Recollections” and wrote a memoir that was published in 1860. She may not have been the most beautiful of the Virginia belles but she has been described as lively and flirtatious. Among her suitors were Robert E Lee’s brother Smith Lee, and Sam Houston who would one day become president of the Republic of Texas. Mary believed in emancipation for all enslaved people but felt that freedmen would not be treated fairly in America. She sold flowers from her gardens to support the American Colonization Society’s efforts to purchase slaves’ freedom and help them to immigrate to Liberia. The Society became controversial over the years, but even William Lloyd Garrison who became its most vocal critic, allowed that those involved sincerely believed they were doing the Lord’s work. At least one Arlington slave family, that of William Custis Burke, made the journey to Liberia. Both he and his wife Rosabella exchanged letters with Mary until at least the late 1860’s. A devoted wife and mother, Mary packed up her children to join Robert at his military postings whenever possible. She spent the last two years of the war in Richmond to be closer to her husband. This is the Mary Anna Custis Lee that I want readers to know.

Secondly, I wanted to tell Selina’s remarkable story. When the Civil War erupted, Selina, her husband Thornton Gray and their children were among the sixty enslaved persons at Arlington. Abolitionists were active at Arlington for several years, encouraging the Custis slaves to run away. In the years just before the war, many of them left. As the Union army approached Arlington, Mary and her daughters packed up as many of their belongings as they could and went to stay with relatives, leaving Selina in charge of Arlington. When the soldiers began looting the house, taking items that had belonged to President Washington, Selina confronted the Union general with the demand that they stop stealing “Miss Mary’s things.” He responded by packing up the Lee’s possessions and shipping them to the US Patent Office for safekeeping. Selina is known among historians as “the savior of the Washington treasures.”  Without her extraordinary bravery, those treasures–which represent a part of our common history–would have been lost. Selina Norris Gray deserves to be more widely known than she is. With so few actual historical documents to rely upon, I had to imagine much of Selina’s story. I hope I have done her justice in the pages of this novel and that everyone who reads Mrs Lee and Mrs Gray will come away with a greater appreciation of both women, and of their friendship that
fostered a lasting American legacy.

BPM: What are you the most thankful for?

DL: I’ve been blessed with work I love, readers I cherish, with a loving family, and with good health. It’s so easy to take it all for granted. I try every day to be mindful of how lucky I am.

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

DL: Unless you have a spouse with a great job and a dental plan, do not give up your day job. It is very difficult to make a living writing books, but if that’s your passion, then absolutely you must pursue it. I’d suggest taking lots of workshops, reading everything you can get your hands on, and most importantly, writing something every day. Your first draft and maybe your second and third drafts too will be awful.  Embrace this awfulness as part of the creative process. Polish your work until you are deathly sick of it before you approach an editor or agent. Of course now anyone can bypass those gatekeepers and simply publish a book independently. But most of those that I’ve seen were prematurely published and would have benefited greatly from an editor and a proofreader. The most important thing must be passion. Passion for your subject, passion for the story, passion for the creative process.

BPM: How may our readers follow you online?

DL: My website is http://www.dorothylovebooks.com. I love chatting with readers on my Facebook author page or on Twitter.

Website:  www.DorothyLoveBooks.com
Twitter:   www.twitter.com/writerDorothy
Amazon Books:   www.amazon.com/Dorothy-Love
Facebook::   www.facebook.com/DorothyLoveBooks



Women’s Fiction > Biographical > Historical Fiction
http://www.amazon.com/Mrs-Lee-Gray-Novel/dp/0718042441

 

 

Intimate Conversation with Re’Gena Bell-Roberts

Intimate Conversation with Re’Gena Bell-Roberts

Re’Gena Bell-Roberts was featured on the Steve Harvey Show as one of the Harvey’s Heroes!

Re’Gena Bell-Roberts is an actress, poet, award-winning playwright and author whose published work includes a collection of prose and poetry. She earned a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of California at Los Angeles and raised her four children as a single parent while continuing to pursue a career.

Re’Gena won the Rockefeller Foundation award for her play “Eclipse”; and a Prose award from Culver City Community College. She produced and directed an NAACP Martin Luther King Day celebration event; and received numerous awards for her community service. She was featured on the Steve Harvey Show and honored as one of “Steve Harvey’s Hero.”  Re’Gena resides in Murrieta, California.

BPM: Tell us about your passion for writing. Why do you write? What drives you? What impact do you want your book to make on the readers?
My passion for writing began at an early age while searching for a voice among my seven siblings. It was then that I discovered the power of the written word in the form of poetry or short stories. I am driven to write because it empowers me as an artist to evoke my inner feelings, thoughts and emotions and share them with others.

I want Walking on Thin Ice to take the reader on an unforgettable journey of love, pain and heartbreak that will inspire, motivate an empower them to make better choices and decisions in order to have a better quality of life.

BPM: Can you share a little of your current work with us? Introduce us to your book. 
Walking on Thin Ice is a love story told amid the backdrop of passion, betrayal and pain. The book opens up with all the candor –– frustration, love, trial, tribulation and humor –– indicative of the human spirit. I wrote the book after cultivating it mentally and physically for many years.

Walking on Thin Ice, a memoir of love, hate, envy, and greed traces a young woman’s pursuit of stardom down a dangerous road that leads to shattered dreams and a harrowing fate.

The young woman longed for fame and fortune until at last a man comes to set her free – only to be betrayed again. The saga portrays her tumultuous life as she struggles to deal with a tragic life-threatening event. Against life’s most overwhelming odds, she fights back with unshakable strength, courage, and a will to survive.

BPM: Finish this sentence- My writing offers the following legacy to future readers… 
My writing offers the following legacy to future readers… a message of hope in the face of adversity.

BPM: What was your primary quest in publishing this book?
My primary quest in publishing the book was to share my story–– my struggles, my truths and my journey to convey a message of love, hope and redemption.

BPM: Who did you write this book for? Why?
I wrote this book for young girls and women who are craving the love of a man, as I did, and who are interested in or can relate to the ups and downs of a tumultuous relationship, and the risks of following your heart and desires into dangerous territory. I wrote this book for anyone who has ever been in an abusive relationship whether it’s physical, emotional or psychological. The story is as relevant today as it was decades ago.

BPM: Walk us through your journey to success. How did you get to this point? What has been your greatest challenge and how did you overcome it?
My success came after my lowest point and on the threshold of losing faith until I surrendered the reigns of my life to God. My faith allowed me to trust God and understand that sometimes the plans we make for ourselves is not the plan that He has for us. At that point I prepared to use my gift of writing knowing that it would be a long and arduous task.

My greatest challenge was facing reality –– the truth about the choices I made and how they impacted not only my life, but the lives of my family and friends—my loved ones. I overcame the experience first by accepting responsibility in the detrimental role I played in self-destruction and second, accepting the amazing grace of a second chance.

BPM: At what point in your career did you discover your real worth and own it?
I discovered my real worth the moment I regained use of my hands and placed wet ink on paper. I claimed it and took ownership of it.

BPM: Was there anyone early in your career that recognized your talent and help cultivate it?
Yes. It was definitely two of my English/literature teachers in high school who encouraged my writing talent and offered personal selections of books for me to read.

BPM: Do you feel as if your writing is making a positive impact on readers, women, or the world?
Yes. I do believe my writing is making a positive impact on readers of both gender, male and female. I feel that my book causes readers to pause and examine their relationships. It draws them deep into the very fiber and psyche of how it feels to be “Walking on Thin Ice.”


Connect with Re’Gena Bell-Roberts 

Twitter:  http://twitter.com/rlbroberts 
Website:  http://walking-on-thin-ice.com
Facebook:  http://facebook.com/regena.bellroberts


Order Walking on Thin Ice by Re’Gena Bell-Roberts
Download Link:  http://amzn.com/1491764759 
Genre:   True Story. Non-fiction. Memoir 

 

Intimate Conversation with Eartha Dunston

Intimate Conversation with Eartha Dunston

Eartha Dunston has been writing since she was a freshman at Alabama State University. She first realized her love for writing when one of her best friends secretly entered her into his fraternity’s poetry slam. She anxiously shared her writings publicly for the first time and received an overwhelming standing ovation! It was a pivotal moment, and she knew in that instant she would one day write professionally. Her educational background coupled with becoming a mom, inspired her to begin writing about issues that affect children such as positive self-image and loosing a beloved family matriarch. She has spent the past few years honing her craft under the tutelage of many award winning and accomplished authors.

She holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work with a concentration in Clinical Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University. Eartha enjoys traveling, encouraging others through life’s obstacles, reading and crafting stories in all genres. She currently resides in South Florida. Her first Children’s novel is entitled “The Hair Adventures of Princess Lindsey Sidney.” The book introduces us to a beautiful princess who celebrates her hair as it transitions textures and styles throughout the week.

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

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

BPM: How did you advance the call for writing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

I write because it’s liberating. I write because it is the one thing I will always do even if I never make a dime from it. I love writing and if my writing can help someone along the way, even better. Creating characters and giving them life is exhilarating. I ‘m driven by the power and emotion well developed characters evoke. I’ve gotten feedback from beta readers that tell me they can’t stop thinking about a particular character in my novel or they really felt as if they were there with the characters. When I hear that, I know I am on the right track. I will always have a passion for writing, whether it’s another Children’s book, a simple article, or a fast-paced spy novel. I’m just getting started!

 

 
 
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