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Monthly Archives: October 2016

Intimate Conversation with Eartha Dunston

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

BPM: How did you advance the call for writing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
Interview/Speaking Engagement Requests
To schedule Eartha Dunston for an interview or speaking engagement contact: i_write@aol.com.  We welcome invitations to speak to schools, daycares, churches, libraries or home-school groups. Interviews can be in person, via Facetime or Skype. 

Website:       http://www.earthadunston.com
Twitter:        https://twitter.com/EarthaDunston
Pinterest:     https://www.pinterest.com/earthadunston
Instagram:   https://www.instagram.com/earthasdunston
Facebook:    http://www.facebook.com/EarthaSDunston

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

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

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

 

Intimate Conversation with Sheryl Lister

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Places In My Heart by Sheryl Lister

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

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


Excerpt: Places In My Heart by Sheryl Lister

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

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

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

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

“Is that right? She’s an attorney?”

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

“So, she knows the game well, huh?”

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

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

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

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

“What about you, Drummond?”

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

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

“I don’t watch either show.”

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

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

Surprise lit her eyes. “Reading?”

“Yeah, you know…books.”

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

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

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

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

“My thoughts exactly,” Omar mumbled.

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

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

“I see you changed.”

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

Back to last names again. “Sorry.”

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

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

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

“A little cocky, aren’t you?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

She slapped his hand away and kept walking.

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

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

( Continued… )

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

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

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

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

 

JOY – Jesus on You by D. Michele Jackson

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Order JOY – Jesus on You by D. Michele Jackson

Novel Based on a True Story

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

eBook Release Date: December 06, 2016


About the Author

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

 
 

Intimate Conversation with Kisha Green

Intimate Conversation with Kisha Green


Kisha Green
is a published author, virtual assistant, literary consultant, promoter and book reviewer. She’s the owner of DivaBooksInc. It’s motto, ‘Turning literary dreams into published realities.’, she has a strong passion for assisting authors in their writing and making their dreams come true.

Aside from having a passion for supporting authors, Kisha is a well-established author. She’s been writing professionally since she was twenty-one. Her most popular novel is, ‘And Even If I did’, released in 2006.

Kisha Green is also the host of Writer’s Life Chats, an online radio show where she interviews aspiring and seasoned authors. Writer’s Life Chats has been nominated multiple times for Best Blog Talk Show, winning the title in 2009, 2010 and 2011. As an avid reader and book reviewer, Kisha Green’s reviews have appeared on Urban Book Source, Shelfari, Goodreads, Amazon and other notable sites.

In 2016, she was nominated for Literary Activist by AAMBC and is the recipient of the 2014 and 2016 Literary Excellence Award presented by Black Pearls Magazine.

As a firm believer in “each one, teach one,” Kisha Green launched Literary Jewels in 2011, an online resource for aspiring writers interested in self-publishing. She has also participated in numerous panel discussions on the topic of publishing. Currently, Kisha resides in New Jersey and is a contributing writer for Urban Tymes, LitIsh, and Literary Jewels. She can be found on many social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

BPM: Please tell us about your blog! What is the name? How did your blog get started? When did your group begin, what year? How many members do you have?
KG: My literary blog is called Literary Jewels (www.myliteraryjewels.com) and I started this blog back in 2007 named Writer’s Vibe on Myspace, which was later added to my personal website. In 2009 other writers began to write for the site and in 2011 it made it’s grand debut and relaunch as Literary Jewels.

BPM: What is the purpose for your blog? Does the name of your blog or store have a special meaning?
KG: My main focus for Literary Jewels is to provide content for readers from writers and there is an assortment of topics from new releases, book reviews, author spotlights, and commentaries. The name is a true reflection of what we are about. The writers and I are always dropping literary jewels (pertinent information) for authors to assist in their pursuit of self-publishing and the business of publishing.

BPM: Do you use social media to share your featured books with other readers?
KG: Yes, I utilize several social networks to tell people about the books my staff or I have read.

BPM: Do you prefer to read books by authors of color? Do you support self-published authors? Do you borrow books from the library?
KG: I will read anything if it is well written. I love self-published authors, I am a self-published author myself so I understand their struggle when it comes to getting reviews on a new book when you are a newbie without dedicated readers. I do check out books from the library but not as often as I want due to the other books I have on my to be read list.

BPM: What genre/types of books do you prefer to read? Have the types of books changed over time?
KG: I enjoy murder, suspense, erotica, romance, Christian fiction and some urban fiction. I believe that books have changed over time because the authors are rushing the process instead of investing in a quality editor and taking pride in their craft. Releasing a book as of lately by some authors is the new hustle and or a popularity contest as to who can put out a book the fastest. The person who ultimately suffers alongside the author is the reader since I now have to dissect the book in attempts to find out what they were ultimately trying to convey due to grammatical errors and or a poorly written book.

BPM: What are key factors that help a book remain on your mind long after the last page?
KG: In my opinion for a book to be considered a good book it is because it has either struck a nerve because you have connected with emotionally accurate characters and or powerful and strong story line with a well-executed plot. Ultimately it all comes down to great character development and a well-written story line.

BPM: Do you write and post book reviews to online retailers? How do you handle bad reviews or books that flopped?
KG: I post reviews on Amazon, BN, and Goodreads and in the 9 years of reviewing books, I have only had 2 authors ask me not to post their review (both were 2 stars). In those cases, I reached out to the author and spoke to them directly and we both agreed that I would not post the review.

BPM: What are you reading now? How did you find out about this book? What books are on your reading schedule?
KG: I am currently reading Second House from The Corner by Sadeqa Johnson and I met this author at the National Book Club Conference and she sent me the book to review as she would be an upcoming guest on my radio show, Writer’s Life Chats. As a reviewer, I get books mailed to me all the time from various publishers and authors and I read them in the order they are received.

BPM: Can we invite you to future events, social media chats, and discussions? How can we follow you online? Do you have a website or social media pages?
KG: Yes, I would love to attend any future literary events you are having. Please keep in touch and keep me posted. You can contact me via email, social media or my website.

Kisha Green Publisher, DivaBooksInc
Email: kisha@divabooksinconline.com
Website: http://www.divabooksinconline.com

Twitter: @KishaGreen
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Intimate Conversation with Sistahs and Friends Book Club

Intimate Conversation with Sistahs and Friends Book Club

Founders of Sistahs and Friends – Yvette Barrett, Malinda Burden and Priscilla Myers. In December, 2014 we lost our 4th founder, Theresa Jackson.

BPM: Please tell us about your book club! How did your club get started?  Does the name of the club have a special meaning? How many members do you have? 
Sistahs and Friends Book Club started in 1997, in Chicago, when 4 young professional co-workers, Priscilla Myers, Theresa Jackson, Malinda Burden and Yvette Barrett discovered they shared a common passion. That passion was the love of reading and the desire to share their thoughts with each other. We had our first book club discussion in a conference room during our lunch hour. It was such a great experience that we decided to continue and called ourselves, Sistahs Bookclub. Later on we had a male that wanted to join us. So in fairness to him and other potential males, we changed our name to Sistahs and Friends Bookclub. We started with 4 and currently have 12 members.

BPM: What is the purpose for your organization? Is there something in particular that makes your group different from other groups? 

Sistahs and Friends unites mature women and men from diverse backgrounds together in sister and brotherhood. We promote spiritual, motivational and intellectual development and awareness through the reading of fiction and non-fiction books, embracing the style and diversity of each member and each author. What we thought would be just a past time, for getting together among friends and sharing views on literature, led to so much more. We increased our membership, produced a mission statement, elected officers, created by-laws, paid dues, and 19 years later we are still Sistahs and Friends Book Club.

BPM: What legacy will your club leave for those watching in the community?

Sistahs and Friends exemplify the true essence of sisterhood. Our legacy will be that true Sistahs support, lift and motivate each other not tear them down.

BPM: Tell us about your members. What is the demographic of your group? How would you describe the personality of your group as a whole? 

Our members are mature professionals who all grew up from various backgrounds and areas in the city of Chicago. We started this group 19 years ago as “Bubbies” and have grown into mature outgoing, outspoken women who love a great book, with a great meal, a great glass of wine and a great discussion. These is no room and no tolerance for pettiness and or catiness. We may not always agree on the rating of a book but we will always have a great debate regarding the merits of our selections or lack thereof.

BPM: When accepting members into the group, what are you looking for in the person? Has it been difficult to get people to join the group or to stay in the group? Do you have an online version of the group?

We look for someone who will fit in our circle and have the passion for reading as we do. When a vacancy occurs, we invite the potential member to a meeting to ensure that their personalities mesh with the current membership. We have never had a problem attracting members however in the beginning we had problem retaining them. Some members were not committed to reading which lead to the creation of bylaws which have proved to solve the problem. Our current members have been active 10 years or more.

BPM: In your opinion, what makes a good book club conversation? Do you keep the conversation on topic, or roam? Does the availability of a reading guide help with the discussion?

By everybody sharing their own opinion of the book it leads to great conversations. Sometimes we can walk into the meeting ready to give a low rating and after much discussion it can easily be adjusted higher. Our sistahs are definitely not shy, they are very outspoken and will tell you like it is with no regrets. Many authors have experienced the brutal truths of Sistahs and Friends. Sometimes a reading guide is helpful but we don’t always use. We have very creative members who come up with games, quizzes, etc. to engage the group and stimulate conversation during the meeting.

BPM: How do you make your book selections for the month? Do you read and discuss books outside of the book of the month? Do you use social media to share your featured books with other readers? 

Sistahs and Friends Book Club’s season is from September – May. During the May meeting members randomly select a month to host for the next season. It is the responsibility of the host to select the book for the month which she is hosting. Most of the members make their selection based on recommendations from family and friends, reading over the summer or just reading reviews on-line. There have been times when some of us have read another book and discussed it outside of the book of the month for the bookclub. We share our book selections (2011 to present) on our website.

BPM: Do you prefer to read books by authors of color? Do you support self-published authors? Do you borrow books from the library?

In the early years of Sistahs and Friends we only read books by African American authors. However over the years we have developed an appetite to broaden our horizon and not limit ourselves. During the years we have supported all authors as well as self-published authors and invited some of them to attend our bookclub discussions (via in person, Skype, FaceTime and conference call). Yes, a few of our members still borrow books from the library but the majority have Kindle or a Reader.

BPM: What genre/types of books do you prefer to read as a group? Have the types of books changed over time? 

The types of books we prefer to read has changed over the years, in the beginning we read books by authors like E. Lynn Harris, Michael Baisden, James Patterson, Eric Jerome Dickey, Terry McMillan, Zane and J. California Cooper. The books dealt with short stories, sex and relationships respectively. As we have matured so have our books. Today, we read books by authors like Brandon Massey (Don’t Ever Tell), Khaled Hosseini (Kite Runner), Pamela Samuels Young (Anybody’s Daughter), Dwayne Alexander Smith (Forty Acres), and Daniel Black (Perfect Peace) and Naleighna Kai (Every Woman Needs a Wife). As you can see our selection of books have expanded and our members have welcomed all authors regardless of ethnicity.


BPM: Can you share a few 5-star books that have expanded your horizons?

Here are a few that received the highest rating that we give – (5stars) Good To The Last Drop.
Standing at the Scratch Line – Guy Johnson
Forty Acres – Dwayne Alexander Smith
Perfect Peace – Daniel Black
Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skoot
The Red Tent – Anita Diamant
My Soul to Keep – Tananarive Due
Redeeming Love – Francine Rivers
The Douglass Women – Jewell Parker
No Regrets – Patricia Haley


BPM: Do you host special events during the year or do you work for any charities? Do you get together as a group to socialize outside of your book club meetings?

Sistahs and Friends started out doing a grab bag each Christmas but decided that we wanted to give back to the community instead. So now we do just that. We have worked with Chicago Public Schools, DCFS, and St. Joseph Children’s Hospital. Through them we have provided children with everything from clothing, school supplies to toys. This year we decided to change our focus gave to a domestic violence shelter. We provided them with purses filled with all the day to day necessities. We are very proud of our accomplishments and it fills us with such satisfaction to see the smiles. Sistahs and Friends have an outing once a year in the summer (during our break) to do something fun with each other (dinner, painting, plays, and architectural tours). We have also hosted a luncheon, had weekend trips to Wisconsin, San Francisco and next year our 20th Anniversary (TBD).

BPM: Do you have any words of wisdom for other readers who are in or who might want to start a book club?

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t start out with committed members. It took us at least 10 years before we had truly committed members. We had to develop bylaws to vet out serious readers versus those who were only in the club to eat, drink and be merry. As a result, some members have come and gone. Also, don’t look for members who are all exactly like you. You will end up with the Stepford Book Club and this will make for very boring conversations. What has kept us going over the years is our passion for good reads, our like of each other and our mutual respect of each others differences.

BPM: Can we invite you to future events and discussions? Do you have a website or social media pages?

We would love to receive an invite for future events, chats and discussions. You can follow us below on our website, email and Facebook.

Website: sistahsandfriendsbookclub.com
Facebook: Sistahs and Friends

 

 

Intimate Conversation with Cilla’s Book Maniacs

Intimate Conversation with Cilla’s Book Maniacs


Priscilla C. Johnson, aka ‘Cilla, is the founder of Cilla’s Book Maniacs. Cilla developed a love of reading and books during childhood where she would spend hours in the library waiting for her brothers and her mother while they were practicing sports.

Having friended the owners of a local AA Book store in 1999, Cilla began working there part-time just to be close to the books. It was at this time that she began building relationships with her favorite author, scheduling book events and books signings. Cilla joined Beverly Jenkins Yahoo Group where she developed friendships with the women and they began traveling together to various book events.  In 2015, Cilla began PCJ Consultant Group, LLC where she helps aspiring authors achieve their dreams of getting published, organize and build street teams, and introducing authors to new readers and book clubs.

BPM: What is the name of your reading group? 

Cilla’s Book Maniacs official began in 2010 although we have been around for several years. A portion of the group that is not on social media and they are in a Yahoo Group called Readers Who Enjoy Black Romance. Priscilla is the lead person since she knows how to keep everyone in line and up-to-date on what is going on in most literary circles.

BPM: Tell us about your members. How would you describe the personality of your group as a whole? 
We are comprised of readers and authors from states all across the county. Our ages range from 25-70. We also have a few males in the group.

BPM: What is the purpose for your organization? Is there something that makes your group different? 
Our main purpose is to simply share our love of books, encourage and support each other and have fun. We travel together to various conferences, particularly the Romance Slam Jam Conference, where we have been named 2015 and 2016 Spirit Book Club of the Year.

BPM: What genre/types of books do you prefer to read as a group? 
Since we are an on-line club our taste in books range from romance, historical romance, erotica, paranormal, Christian, and interracial. Generally if someone reads a good book, we will post the title and author. We also support the authors in the group.

BPM: Do you like to find new authors and interact online? 
We find new authors at events and conferences. When we find or come across someone we think everyone will enjoy, we simple post the author and book in the group or we will post the review. 

BPM: Has social media changed how you feel about any authors? 
Social media has introduced us to a lot of authors we would not ordinarily chose to read. Current Author favorites: Keith Thomas Walker, Eva J Brock, Beverly Jenkins, Brenda Jackson, All of our Club Authors (they know who they are )

BPM: Do you have any words of wisdom for other readers who might want to start a book club? 
Find a group of people that you like and enjoy to be with or have similar interest. Keep everything fun – leave the personal stuff outside. Remember – every book is not for everybody and its ok to not like a book.

BPM: What has the main focus become over the years? 
The Maniacs has primarily been a private social group. Now that were have won two book clubs awards, we are beginning to branch out and try new things.


Photo: Group at the 2016 Romance Slam Jam Conference

 
 
 
 
 
 
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