Category Archives: Author Interviews

Intimate Conversation with Dr. Raye Mitchell

Dr. Raye Mitchell is a social entrepreneur working to change the way change is made.

She is an award winning humanitarian and both a trainer in the field of leadership as a social entrepreneur leadership and a practicing social entrepreneur as the Chief Social Entrepreneur (“CSE”) of The New Reality B-Corp, a California benefits corporation. (“NRB”) a Certified Social Impact Enterprise™, a boutique legal and business firm providing expertise and services for social entrepreneurs and social impact ventures.

Dr. Raye Mitchell is the founder of the New Reality Foundation, Inc., and CEO at the Winning Edge Institute Inc. She is a power and influence expert, attorney, author, speaker and activist. Mitchell is a member of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund network providing legal support for women and girls affected by harassment. Mitchell has received national acclaim for her work mentoring women and girls of color to beat the odds and excel as leaders.

She is a graduate of Harvard Law School, the University of Southern California (USC), the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy (B.S.) and the USC Marshall School of Business (MBA). She is a native of Los Angeles, California.


BPM: What made you want to become a writer? How long have you been writing?
I have considered myself a storyteller and writer all my life in one form or another. In spite of this, a different question is when did I decide to go public with this passion and persistent drive to be a writer of non-fiction and fiction works and why?

As a marketing and branding professional and litigation attorney in the entertainment industry, I was always involved in persuasive writing, storytelling and trying to get others to listen to the stories of my clients. But, several years ago, my inside voice that craved to be a writer succeeded in overtaking my outside voice that consistently focused on perfecting my skills as an entrepreneur, businesswoman, and an attorney. Upon reflection, it is now clear that I had been fully engaged as a creative writer all the time by merging my professional commitment to advocating, justice, and fairness by writing about my experiences with the civil justice system and persuading juries to return justice for my clients in situations of injustice.


BPM: How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I think I have evolved creatively by honing my craft as a writer in multiple sectors by and expanding my creative decision-making zone-which is my way of saying I have permitted myself to write. outside of my comfort zone. I am always yearning to learn how to write better and how to take unique writing skills from one sector and apply to another. It is my way of shaking myself up to find a new perspective on a familiar storyline.


BPM: Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?
Yes. I went public with my creative writing projects in about 2010. I gained my courage when I was so humbled and yet inspired by my humbled encounter with an apparently homeless woman, Margie, I began assembling a collection of words of self-respect and success from notable female role models, past and present and produced an anthology based on quotes to inspire and inform. The story of Margie first appeared in my first significant book entitled, The Evolution of Brilliance: Voices Celebrating the Importance of Women“.

The story of Margie began outside a high-profile restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia. Margie approached me outside of this very expensive restaurant. For some reason, Margie, who appeared to be homeless, singled me out of a group of at least twenty people. Looking me directly in the eye, she said, “Can you help me?” She was carrying a cup meant to collect loose change. Assuming myself to be polite and assuming she only sought money, I turned to leave and simply said, “Sorry. I cannot help tonight.” I turned to leave. Margie stepped in closer, and the men in my group started to make a protective move, but we all stopped. Margie then said, “Can I ask you something?”

“Yes,” I replied. Without hesitation, she added, “How can you say you cannot help me when you do not know what help I need?”

I stopped, and for the first time that night, I looked into Margie’s eyes and made a personal connection, realizing that she may have just been trying to advance her life utilizing the only tools she had at her disposal. I said, “You know, you are right. What help do you need?” All Margie wanted was prayer and the chance to be counted as a person in this world as she strived to rebuild her life. Even though I was a stranger and she knew nothing about me, I was humbled that she entrusted me with her simple request for help. Margie’s story and my decision to be a published writer thus came to life in 2011.

I turn to my writing to tell stories about experiences and stories that sometimes you just want to share with God because God has no judgment. I want to write stories about our experiences as Black women and girls being judged and how we deal with that burden and opportunity to rise above the judgment.


BPM: How has writing impacted your life?
My writing has helped me be a better person. My quest to shift gears from being a full-time entertainment attorney with my law firm to being a full time humanitarian and writer has not been easy. I thus began translating these challenges, hurdles, setbacks and disappointments into my creative energy to tell the story. I then discovered the personal power of telling the story, no matter how difficult the journey. My writing has transformed my sense of well-being and wellness. My writing has also helped me find another way to merge my passion for helping others, especially women and girls with my technical skills as a writer, storyteller, and even a persuader.

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The Legend of Diddley Squatt: A Novella from a Brother Fella by Duane Lance Filer

The Legend of Diddley Squatt: A Novella from a Brother Fella by Duane Lance Filer

Sometime during the middle of the twentieth century, a black child is born in Rundown City, Mississippi, to rundown parents. After Diddley Squatt’s sixteen-year-old mother splits the scene and leaves him in the care of his grandmother, Momma Squatt, Diddley settles into a new life within her three-story hotel/brothel, the Copp-A-Squatt Inn.

As he grows older and is nicknamed Young Didd, the boy is unfortunately bullied because of his unusual name and life circumstances. Luckily Diddley develops a thick skin and learns that love is better than hate, thanks to the nurturing, lessons, and mentoring provided by his grandmother and the strong ladies who, along with a goo-gaggle of Inn customers that include famous musicians, soldiers on leave, and politicians, visit the brothel.

While on his unique coming-of-age journey, Diddley also uncovers the mystical powers behind a magical harmonica that allow him to bond with creatures he never imagined could become his best friends, and who could somehow lead him to a new destiny.

In this urban novella, a black boy growing up in the south must somehow learn to find his way in life after his mother abandons him, with help from well-meaning people.


Listen to a reading from The Legend of Diddley Squatt –


5-Star Book Review Written by Ernest Hamilton
A story of overcoming life’s oddities and the ability to persevere by finding the best that humankind has to offer. I Loved this funky tale of bullying and hope. It took me back to the days of the chitlin circuit when blacks could only stay in certain areas, YET THEY HAD A BALL! I love the various characters and how they each had a hand in making sure Diddley made it through his initial life years. This story needs to be made into a movie!!!


Excerpt: The Legend of Diddley Squatt by Duane Lance Filer

Didd was on the back porch of the Copp-A-Squatt; just sitting on the porch looking out into the back woods with his trusty harmonica in his mouth – playing this old blues tune known as “Squirrel Meat Stew” he had picked up. These old houses really never had any back fences, and backyards just ran out into the woods. This was good, because deer, possums, raccoons, and rats – all these different animals would run up to the end where the brown grass part ended – and you could bond with the animals.

Didd loved to just sit on the porch and watch and feed the animals. When nobody was looking, he would rumble through the trash bin where Oscar (one of Momma’s house men others called a “pimp”) and the other help would throw the garbage after eating. He’d dig through the trash and get the leftovers – squish them in a paper bag and place it out on the edge of the backyard/woods area. He’d sit there and watch the animals come eat. They loved the food. Then, one day, something really strange happened!

Didd was putting some of the leftovers out on the rickety back fence for the animals. He put out some pork-chop bones, some un-eaten grits, some egg remnants, burnt toast – all just laid it across the fence, when this possum came up and acted like he wasn’t scared at all.

Then to Didd’s amazement the possum started talking: “Thanks young Diddley. All the animals have been watching you from afar and we appreciate all the food you bring out here to us. It all tastes good and keep it coming.”

“Possum’s can’t talk?” Didd said.

“Why not? Why can’t we?” said the possum, “you humans just think we can’t talk because you can imagine the trouble we would be in if humans knew we could talk. We just choose not to talk. But to some few humans that we feel comfortable with, we will talk. Diddley Squatt, you are one of the few humans we feel comfortable talking around. My friends will talk to you, you’ll see.”

“Wow” said young Diddley. “I love all animals. I mean I really like animals more than people. Animals always let you know how they feel.”

“You’re welcome” said the possum. “My name is Percy Possum– and I’ve been hanging back here in Momma Squatt’s backyard for years. Lots of action at this whorehouse, so there is always a lot of extra discarded food in the garbage. I hope we can be friends.” Percy extends his free hand while holding onto his food with the other.

Young Diddley had seen this before from the johns, the shaking of hands, and knew he must respond. So, he shifted over to the back of the fence and shook Percy’s free hand. The bond was set!

Before he left, Percy said, “You don’t happen to have any fresh food on you young Didd- do you?”

“I have my lunch, a tomato sandwich. Sorry, but I don’t eat meat. I could never eat something that once breathed like me. One of the johns said that makes me a “VE-GEE-TARIAN. You are more than welcome to my sandwich,” said Didd as he pushed the sandwich into Percy’s paws.

Percy switched his tail in happiness. “Thanks, I can share this fresh tomato sandwich with the rest of the animals. We possums eat anything – we even have a few ‘vegetarians’ that I’m aware. I knew you were special; and keep playing that harmonica. We animals sense something magical when we hear you playing. See you later young Diddley,” said Percy.

“I’m sure we will be talking more in the future. Like I said, you are one of the exceptional ones.” Percy slowly crept back into the woods; his teeth holding the bag of discarded food and the tomato sandwich bag in his hands.

“Wow!’ was all Diddley could say.

( Continued… )

© 2017 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Duane Lance Filer. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author’s written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.

Purchase The Legend of Diddley Squatt: A Novella from a Brother Fella
Science Fiction & Fantasy > Magical Realism > Paranormal & Urban Life


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There Is Sunshine After The Rain Making It Through Life’s Struggle by Patricia A. Saunders

There Is Sunshine After The Rain Making It Through Life’s Struggle by Patricia A. Saunders

Sitting there with the pieces of your life around you, there seemed to be a pattern. There was faith, love, deceit, lust, and loss—in that order. You didn’t think you were deserving of love. That is why everything was being taken from you, and you were ready to give up on life. Through your poetry, faith, and learning from your past, you can rewrite the story. It was after coming through all the experiences and being stronger, you realized there is always a new chapter.

There Is Sunshine After the Rain will take you on the journey of a young girl growing up in Connecticut, who had to take some stumbles along the way to come into her own and realize instead of tearing herself down for the decisions she made, there is a lesson.

Love is greater than anyone can imagine and can warm you like the sunshine after the rain. You went from the beginning, the journey, the test, and the testimony to say, “There Is Sunshine after the Rain.”

Purchase There Is Sunshine After The Rain: Making It Through Life’s Struggle

Genre: Poetry > Biographies & Memoirs > Women



Chapter Excerpt from There Is Sunshine After the Rain

There were men who came into my life that I loved with all my heart over the years. One man after another disappointed me for specific reasons. I found some had wandering eyes, cheated on me with my best friend while I was away at school, or I found out that they said all the right things, but their actions spoke another.

My wall went up to protect my heart and my new love became my job. I strived to be the best at whatever position I had. The people at my job were my friends, my family, and my child that I never had. There was something still that I felt missing, and it was on a trip to California that I felt my calling. I came back to tell my elderly parents that I was leaving, and it was my father who looked in my eyes and said, “I won’t always be here.”

Something in his tone let me know that it was the right decision because I needed to become independent. I had family in California, so I had support. Within two months I had given notice at my job, packed two suitcases, sold my belongings and had a one-way ticket to California.

I knew no one except my family, and I slowly began to venture out to the unknown. I was working sometimes two jobs to make ends meet. Because I couldn’t go back to Connecticut. Because I didn’t want to fail.

My father’s health was declining and I would come back annually to see him. I had so much excitement to see him that I would just lie on the covers next to him. Just listening to him breathe and feeling protected from the storm. I remember like it was yesterday I came home after he had surgery. It was snowing and I went outside to shovel the snow. Being that I was the youngest, a girl, and my parents always paid a neighborhood kid to do this. Well the kids had all grown up and moved out of the neighborhood. I never had done this task of shoveling. Something that my father had done for years and made it seem like the snow was as light as a feather.

He sat and watched me and I struggled, but he stayed in the window from afar. It felt like the muscles within my chest had exploded and I was in so much pain, but I couldn’t let my parents down. I thought I had done a good job. While I was inside recovering from the ordeal, my father had changed clothes and slipped outside. Shovel in his hands and as the man of the house—no matter if he had a hole in his side, wasn’t to lift anything, and was supposed to be recuperating—he was still going to be the man and complete the task.

When I saw what he was doing, I lost it because of the fear he would injure himself. We got into the biggest argument. I was leaving the next day and we were still mad at each other. I kissed him goodbye and sat on the shuttle crying all the way to the airport. It was something within my being that knew that it was the last time I would see him. I wanted to become the protector and do everything in my power to show him I could be strong, I could provide, and I was the woman he raised me to be. He, being the proud African American patriarch of the family, not wanting to be seen weak, even in the months before his death wanting to be remembered as strong. Read the rest of this entry »


Stations: Changing Your Life – Changing Your Career by Dr. Lynda Mubarak

Stations: Changing Your Life – Changing Your Career by Dr. Lynda Mubarak

The current global workforce has changed tremendously during the past decade and your workplace is part of that change. Labor trends, increased use of technology for goods and services, and the reduction of workers at all levels has generated a need to view employment and self-sufficiency in a new light. If you have children, they will need to be able to work in a 21st century work environment with a diverse workforce, which will entail jobs which are being developed as they enter elementary grades or high school. STATIONS is the quick resource guide that offers suggestions and time-proven strategies for parents and professionals who interact with children and young adult workers.

STATIONS is a collection of essays that provides food for thought as we make our way through the different situations, events, stages, circumstances and parental decisions that will ultimately affect personal lifestyles and career options.

STATIONS examines childhood academic and social skills, and addresses the challenging task of teaching children to be healthy and financially sound while preparing them to thrive and survive in a global workforce driven by cutting edge technology and ongoing competition.

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


Review from Amazon

“The aptly titled STATIONS is probably best appreciated as an extended Public Service Announcement on personal, social and professional fulfillment and wellness from the perspective of a visionary educator and citizen invested in the survival of present and future generations.
The fact that the experience opens with a shout-out to grandmothers is creatively deliberate, as the persona compares her world with that of her grandchildren and mentees. But this grandmother is not a despairing, garment-rending fossil lamenting the passing of the good old days. Rather, she rejoices in the new social, cultural and technological realities that were unimaginable in her youth, exhorting millennials and older folk in transition to employ these new realities on the journey toward healthy self-realization.

In reading Stations, three sayings from my own childhood were reinforced: “An old man sitting down can see farther than a young man standing up” (African proverb); “The child is the father of the man” (Freud); And gladly would he teach, and gladly learn’ (Chaucer, describing the divinity student in The Canterbury Tales). And while each station on the narrative journey dispenses advice, it is never preachy or condescending. In fact, Mubarak, an experienced educator, skillfully combines personal narrative with a somewhat controlled stream of consciousness, revealing her own vulnerabilities and past mistakes along the way. The result is a light-hearted, easy-to-read exploration of the relationships between skills identification, education and training, fulfillment, project commitment, success, and personal and communal responsibility. The tone and structure of each chapter, or vignette, is designed to reach a generation where sound-bytes and images are the preferred mode of communication. Advice and encouragement are underscored by non-intrusive statistics, anecdotal accounts, imagined scenarios, and resource references.

As an educator in global languages and cultures, advisor and mentor, I recommend Stations to all students, parents, teachers, employers, and friends. School Guidance Counselors, and college Student Affairs and Career offices would do well to include this tome on their lists of recommended readings.” (Ezra S. Engling)



Are Your Kids Competing in STEM?

You spent too much money and time in Lost Wages, Nevada, purchased the latest versions of Kindle and the iPhone, and shared your summer vacation report with anyone who cared to listen to the back lot or front office at work. Now what? You have used up your bragging rights for the summer season. How about something new, exciting and educational for the kids?

Do you know that the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are begging for sharp young minds with fresh ideas and innovative thinking? Your child represents one of those young minds. You don’t need to be reminded that your children are highly intelligent. They can name every space-related cartoon character, identify their mutant friends or foes and describe the planets they inhabit. Do you notice how their eyes light up when an enemy craft is landing?

Their toy boxes are filled with action figures that represent long, hard battles and conquests. In other words, your children are already playing games containing futuristic models and know which channels to surf on Saturday morning to find the leaping, flying creatures!

So, instead of the usual Disney World, SeaWorld, Six Flags, or the expensive, tropical island family trip, consider enrolling your child in a NASA Summer Day Camp next year, and make it a family affair. This unique hands-on experience will put your child in touch with several categories of STEM and open another world for career investigation.

The online interactive activities will also teach them to appreciate the world of internet technology on a different level. At NASA your children can actually explore the many occupations connected with space exploration and meet the people behind the scenes who plan and execute the missions. Read the rest of this entry »


Tradition by AlTonya Washington

Tradition by AlTonya Washington

New Island has been quiet for a long time-too long. Now, the time has come to return to a place where a tradition was born. Some will return to honor it. Others will return to destroy it.

Off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina New Island was home to many things-among them stories of resilience and rebirth. New had been home to Frayzer Guthrie before the depraved events of a night 16 years prior removed him from his home and the girl that he loved. When business motivates his return, Fray finds that the girl is now a woman and that his feelings for her have remained unchanged.

Ellia Taylor was still very much in love with the boy-now man-she’d dreamed of spending the rest of her life with, but how could they ever go back to what they were? Things had changed and that fact was about more than the passage of time. New Island was a place of resilience, rebirth… and revelations that would scandalize the names of many powerful families. New Island’s dark tradition was an ugly story that was at last ready to be told.

Watch the “Tradition” Book Trailer on YouTube:



Review Written by Edwina Putney   |   5.0 out of 5 stars

Tradition by AlTonya Washington is an amazing story that shows how family traditions of horrific acts and the ensuing cover-ups can destroy lives in those and future times. The destruction of the teen love and lives of Frayzer Guthrie and Ellia Taylor, as well as the relationships and lives of his cousins, Warwick and Zyon, and her cousins (their girlfriends) Seela and Moira. Hideous, secretive acts, reminiscent of those perpetrated by slaveowners against slaves, were performed on Ellia and her cousins, which caused hatred of and estrangement from Frayzer (Fray), Warwick (War), and Zyon (Zy).

But sixteen years later, the guys have never stopped seeking revenge against those responsible for the dark legacy handed down and perpetuated in an updated, yet still despicable, version. And then there is knife-toting Ellia, who nurses the anger and betrayal, yet knows deep down that her love for Fray never truly died. When he returns to New Island, apologizes and romances her, then gets her help in uncovering buried evidence, we see the truth in ‘a thin line between love and hate’. It’s not an easy path to recover from feelings of guilt on his part and betrayal on hers. So the question is, can they?

AlTonya Washington does an amazing job with fusing the historical and present-day, showing the cycle of romance, and the depths to which people are willing to sink to preserve their ill-gotten gains. Then, even after resolving the mystery, Ms. Washington ends the story with a “wow” moment from the past which will definitely affect Fray, War, and Zy in books two and three of the trilogy. I can’t wait! Kudos to AlTonya Washington for a good beginning to another promising series.



Excerpt from Tradition by AlTonya Washington

Fray judged he’d gotten about three hours of sleep the night before. Not bad, considering 4 was usually all he needed.

Besides, he didn’t think he was in the mood to hear anyone tell him everything would be alright. He couldn’t believe that-not after last night. The way El looked at him when she’d pulled away- it hadn’t been fear.

Well…it had, but not fear toward him, he surmised. What he saw in her eyes last night was something deeper, closer to despair. More than anything he’d wanted to stay with her- to refuse to leave until she told him what had put that look in her eyes.

Of course it could’ve only been one thing. Memories of the branding ritual had taken their toll on his concentration more than a few times over the years. He’d trained himself to get by on little sleep because when his mind was at rest, all he could see was El’s face. Her lovely face terror-stricken. He could feel her bracing against his hold and hear her shrieking his name- begging him to help her- to make it stop before she’d gone silent and refused to beg anymore.

Fray rubbed his fingers over his head and kicked the tangle of covers from his feet. He wanted a shower and was stalking naked into the bath when his room door came alive with the sounds of impatient knocking. Frowning, he switched courses and went to peer through the privacy window. Finding El on the other side, cleared his mind of everything including the state of his dress-or undress as it were. He whipped open the door.

“Are you okay?” His rough voice had turned softer in the wake of concern. The gray-flecked depths of his eyes mirrored that concern as they fixed on her face. He spared a moment to appraise the cut of her dress, but he forbid himself to think about what he’d give to see her out of it.

Ellia didn’t notice his reaction to her clothes. Her eyes had already drifted below his waist.
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Audio Excerpts from Black Hearts White Minds by Mitch Margo


Black Hearts White Minds (A Carl Gordon Legal Thriller) by Mitch Margo is Black Pearls Magazine featured book of the month. Jo Lena Johnson, Publisher at Mission Possible Press, shares audio book reviews from Black Hearts White Minds by Mitch Margo, listen here:


The year is 1964 and Carl Gordon is an ill-prepared New York Assistant U.S. Attorney who has lied his way into a transfer to Stockville, Alabama, where he is supposed to monitor and enforce the Civil Rights Act. In a matter of days, the Ku Klux Klan takes aim at him, the outside agitator. Carl has agreed to represent Oleatha Geary, a black family matriarch who has inherited a mansion in an all-white, race-restricted neighborhood. Carl and Oleatha are engulfed in litigation that turns deadly. It’s anyone’s guess who will survive multiple assassination attempts, let alone whose integrity will remain intact.

Carl’s 12-year-old son, John, is unwelcome on Stockville’s white basketball team because of who his father is, and it seems there’s nowhere else for him to play. But ever-resourceful and impulsive Carl makes other plans for John, unwittingly putting John’s life, and the life of his new teammates, at risk. Ultimately, the young players don’t care as much about color lines as they do the lines on the basketball floor.

Visit to explore your options to purchase the book. Black Hearts White Minds is available in print, Kindle ebook and audio book. Published by Mission Possible Press. Distributed from Ingram and Baker & Taylor. 



Black hearts and White minds?

Carl Gordon is nothing if not impulsive.

He’s a New York Assistant U.S. Attorney who tries to escape the nightmares of his wife’s death by lying his way to Stockville, Alabama to enforce the Civil Rights Act. He arrives unprepared for life in the segregated South, where the Ku Klux Klan controls the town. It’s not long before the Klan turns its attention to the outside agitator, him.

Oleatha Geary wants no part of it.

She’s the tough and tender Black family matriarch, who inherits a grand home in an all-white, race-restricted neighborhood called Northwoods. She doesn’t want the home, but she’s pressured by her adult children to fight Stockville’s most powerful white citizens.

Stockville, Alabama is about to explode.

It’s the summer of 1964. Stockville is Alabama’s 5th largest city and its powerful white citizens think they’ve got “their coloreds” under control. Not so fast. Segregation is crumbling. Nonviolent protests have started and a clandestine group of Malcolm X disciples is planning its revenge against the KKK.

Come decide for yourself…Black Hearts White Minds.


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Intimate Conversation with Mitch Margo

A former reporter for The Detroit News and Los Angeles Herald Examiner and a syndicated columnist for 14 years, Mitch Margo is a native New Yorker and St. Louis trial lawyer. He’s witnessed the clash of cultures which are woven into his first novel, Black Hearts White Minds.  Much of the story is drawn from his personal experiences, interviews, and hundreds of hours of research. He credits his eclectic law practice for a new storyline every few days.

As general counsel to the Missouri Valley Conference, and a former youth coach, Mitch has an insider’s view of basketball that enables him to write about it authentically. He’s also a member of the Washington University Sports Hall of Fame, at one time holding the school record in just about every baseball statistic. He’s proud of his days as a student/athlete, but hasn’t lost sight of the fact that you can’t get too much farther from Cooperstown and still be in a hall of fame.


BPM:  Have you always been a writer?  Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I’ve enjoyed writing and reading for as long as I can remember. I’m a child of Watergate and that’s why I was drawn to journalism as a young man. But I also loved creative writing, which is what journalism has now become!

BPM:  You are a lawyer, how has that influenced you and your writing?

Most people think being a trial lawyer is what they see on TV — lawyers making impassioned speeches in courtrooms to edge-of-their-seat jurors. Not so. Most of a trial lawyer’s communications are written in briefs and motions to the judge. 95 percent of all lawsuits are settled before trial. So being a persuasive writer is a great advantage and persuasive means succinct, clear and even entertaining. Most lawyers write in long, complicated, boring sentences. I assume that judges curse them and love me.


BPM:  Tell us about your latest book. What do you hope readers take away from it?

Black Hearts White Minds (BHWM) is a story about a time in history that few experienced and most would rather ignore. I wrote the book about the Civil Rights movement because I missed it. In 1964 I was nine years old and growing up in New York. After reading Black Hearts White Minds, I hope readers are left with the feeling that they’ve lived in the Deep South during segregation just like the characters. I hope they take away the frustration of the African American community that was constantly harassed and kept in a different form of slavery by a white power structure driven by money, power and ignorance.

BPM:  Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?

Carl Gordon is the main character, but really only one of the “important” characters. He drags his 12 year old son from New York to Stockville, Alabama to enforce the 1964 Civil Rights Act and he’s remarkably unprepared for what he is about to encounter — the Klan, local law enforcement, the black community. But he’s also a great lawyer and a quick learner. He’s a hero in his own way, but no more so than Micah, a Black, self-taught intellectual auto mechanic who also happens to be the strongest man in Frost County, Alabama, and a disciple of Malcolm X. And by the way, Carl and Micah hate each other.

BPM:  Was there a real-life inspiration behind your development of characters?

Three of the characters are drawn from people I know or have known in the past. Did I mention I love those people? Think about it, they’re interesting enough to make a fictional character out of them alone. Now that’s a real life character! The rest of the characters are composites of people I’ve known, stories I’ve read and my imagination. I think all writers will tell you that there are ribbons of themselves running through their characters. That’s certainly true for me. Maybe that’s why writers become such good friends with the characters they create.
BPM:  How did you come up with the title for Black Hearts White Minds?

This book had more working titles than I can remember. I would list them for you, but one of them might just be the name of the sequel. (Spoiler alert!) My publisher, along with a focus group came up with Black Hearts White Minds and I love it. A Black Heart could be attributed to several of the characters, black and white. So could a white mind. “Black” and “white” have more than one meaning each, and nothing is just black and white. Read the rest of this entry »

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