Author Interview: Takerra Allen


I have been watching this author on Facebook for quite some time now. I always resonate with her status updates. It is where I learned how she thinks, the beauty of her heart, the love of her family and readers, whom she endearingly refers to as her Luvs. Recently, I discovered she is Tupac Shukar’s sister. Tupac happens to be one of my favorite rappers. I can see talent runs her blood, however, her work stands on its own merit. With every stroke of her pen, she pours her soul out on to every page, and you feel every word. It is an honor and privilege to introduce to you, the beautiful, Takerra Allen.

1) Please tell us a little bit about yourself? Who is Takerra? Where did you grow up? How was your childhood?

I think I’m a simple woman. I am, at this stage of my life, about my family FIRST, myself second – doing what truly makes me happy and writing is one of them, finding the beauty in the world while I’m here, and pleasing God which I think all mentioned is a part of that. I was born in Jersey City, NJ, moved to New Brunswick, NJ at the age of 10, and I stayed in that area since. My childhood was beautiful because it was filled with love. I had some tough times, things I don’t discuss but I don’t let that overshadow the love my mother and father poured out on me. Even when living in Jersey City, witnessing crime and all types of things, sometimes too close for comfort even, I still felt loved. Through everything, all I can remember is the good.

2) What was your earliest recollection of writing?

When I was eight or so I began taking creative writing classes for fun – a teacher recommended me. I did a few summer writing programs. I reflect now and just remember the comfort of a teacher even at ten or eleven years old saying class, we’re going to do this while Takerra and a few other students, you guys can go to these computers and type whatever you want. It was like a treat. When they would give out journals and say write in them for the school year, I would be so excited. I always got A’s on writing projects with interesting notes – some good, some critical lol. Outstanding writing, but you can’t start a sentence with “and” or “but”. Or, Takerra, this is running on too long. The same things I was told then I find myself doing now and I realize, it’s my writing style. I wrote poems, and plays, and in a diary, and songs since I could begin writing. I didn’t go out and play much, didn’t have many friends, I just stayed in my room with imaginary characters and writing them in some way. I was weird. Who knew I was being groomed.

3) Did anyone encourage you to write or did it come naturally for you?

It definitely came natural but when I was about seventeen, I started writing my first book, Thicker than Water. It sat unfinished for a very long time. A few years later my boyfriend who is now my husband, said you should finish this book. And I did.

4) What was the first piece you have ever written? Was it published or non-published?

Thicker than Water was my first novel and it was self-published originally in 2008 and then with a new cover and editing lol in 2009.

5) What is the one thing that means the most to you?

My daughter. I can’t imagine anything coming before her. She’s a whole life that I am in charge of and I’m responsible for molding her for the world and giving her all of the love so she doesn’t do crazy things looking for it elsewhere. There’s nothing bigger than that.

6) When you first decided to write a book were you afraid or insecure? If so, how did you overcome it?

I wasn’t scared at all actually and it’s crazy because now I yearn for the lack of pressure. The first is easy to me because there’s no pretense of who you are supposed to be. No expectations. You just write what you want and it’s so liberating. Now, I have more pressure. Because more people are watching; my Luvs. I want to please them. I want to live up to the last work.

7) How does the inspiration or ideas for your books come to you? How do you formulate your realistic characters?

I dream my books. Knock on wood, they keep coming. Every time I’m afraid I will run out of ideas, I have another dream. Dream Gods please keep them coming lol. The characters are real because they don’t start as people. I don’t focus on looks, or what they’re going to do first. I focus on emotions. I feel what they feel – their fears, desires, and then I create them based on that. Because all of our thoughts and actions come from the things we desire and the things we fear. It’s what makes us, us. So when you give your characters fears and desires, you make them human.

8) What was the hardest book you wrote and why?

Restricted Too. Because it was promised. I said I was going to have a sequel before I even had the entire story. So the pressure to create it was real. I would never do that again. I’ll never say there will be a sequel until it comes to be 100% and I feel it in my bones.

9) How did you learn to perfect your craft?

Oh, I don’t think I’ve perfected my craft at all lol. I reread, a lot. I reread as a reader my work and go, do I feel it, can it be better? And I just assault my work until I personally can’t do any better.  I’m very into detail now. I’m enjoying it. But still, I read Jane Austen or Stephen King or Toni Morrison and I go, why couldn’t you write like this? LOL

10) How many times do you send your work to an editor? How is the editing process for you? Do you learn the most from the editing process?

My work goes through two editing processes. Luckily, they don’t change much from how I write, they really just look for structure, misspellings, tense, grammar things like that. It may not work for everyone, but so far it works for us.

11) What are some of your favorite books and authors? Do you have an all time favorite book?

I love Jane Austen, Gillian Flynn, Dorothy Allison, Toni Morrison, and all-time favorite – Stephen King. Most people don’t count Wes Craven for writing but he wrote screenplays that were awesome and he’s one of my idols. I don’t have a favorite book really.

12) What do you want your readers to get from your books?

Love. I want them to feel love, experience love – the good and bad of it.  I want them to get lost for a little and then take a message from it in the end. I believe there is a message in each one of my works. Devout – unconditional love and doing what’s best for you even if it hurts. Heaven’s Hell – strength, growth, standing on your own. (There’s Power in the…) V – forgiveness, the importance of family. Restricted – consequences. The Lonely Pole – following your dreams even when life throws a bunch of stuff at you, and it never being too late even if you lose your way. Thicker than Water – friendship, betrayal, trust, getting through hardships and losing people.

13) Do you have a writing routine? Do you write every day?

No, and no lol. I mean, I don’t go out of my way to write everyday but it does end up happening most of the time. I follow my heart and spirit and try to write when I’m feeling inspired. I feel like people heard someone say, you should write a little everyday even if you don’t want to, and now that’s like bible. That sounds terrible to me. I think that’s how mediocrity happens. When you wait until you really feel it then you have a heartfelt story. I would rather put out one heartfelt story once a year than three okay ones. Since when did it become a race? But again, it’s what works for me.

14) When did you decide to start your own publishing company, “Angelic Script Publishing” and why?

We started Angelic Script Publishing when we decided to put out the book in 2009. My business partner Sandra, saw something in my work and invested in printing the books and I appreciate her for that ,and luckily it was successful and she and I were able to make that back and more and we are still going! I thank God for what we’ve accomplished so far and all of the readers who made it possible.

15) Who had the most influence in your life and why?

I’m influenced by so many people for some many reasons. I’m influenced by my mother, God rest her soul – her strength and just the qualities of being a lady at all times. My father and his consciousness he instilled in me. My husband and his honesty and the ability to appreciate the simple things in life. My daughter and her innocence, the way she sees the beauty in everything. My brother, Tupac, his passion, his talent, the fire that couldn’t be tamed. My sisters, my other brothers,  my best friend, Sandra, my readers who are so inspiring and dedicated and loving, I cannot limit it to one person.

16) You have ten books published, correct? Thicker Than Water being your first. How long does it take you to finish a book?

V2 was number 11, yay! But yes, Thicker than Water was my first. It really varies, but it can take anywhere from two to nine months lol. But I am always working on a few things at once. So I may stop a project for like six months and then pick back up and finish it in three weeks. And then I send it to Dee-Dee (Sandra) for her stamp of approval.

17) Are you currently working on any new projects?

Yes, I am working on three novels, one is top priority as well as finishing up the Heaven’s Hell film. Very excited about that.

18) Is there something else you still dream of achieving?

Film and television. I always loved film – I took drama in high school and college and adored it. Now I see it wasn’t for the acting, it was for visualizing a story. I want to see my stories played out. That’s a dream.

19) If there was one thing you would want to change about the industry, what would it be?

The lack of creativity and weed out the people doing it for the wrong reasons. It has become so trendy and I am scared for the future of urban fiction. I see great potential for the growth as far as movies, and commercialism, and the way it has expanded is phenomenal; but it seems like it’s expanding with too much crap. Too much repetition, no respect for other writers or the readers for that fact, people are looking to make a quick buck and want to be famous, and writers are not famous lol. You have to love the craft. You have to be born for this.

20) Lastly, what advice would you give new writers?

Write from your heart and make sure it’s in your heart. I’ve had many new writers contact me, and let me just say, to many, I am new as well. But I’m honored anyone would look to me for advice and I tell them the same, write from your heart and follow your own path. Many of them have gone on to write books and although many don’t mention the advice I gave, or that they’ve talked to me at all, (and by the way I try to answer every question lol even through my schedule, and some asked lots of questions lol but it’s cool and I love it). It’s love on my part and I still give that advice first. I don’t know, for reasons people like to keep their interactions with other authors quiet. Tracy Brown answered a question of mine when I first started, K’wan has always kept it real with me, Ashley and Jaquavis have shown love, Wahida Clark has shown love. I acknowledge them and thank them for that. But whether new writers chose to follow my advice or not, I tell them all the same amongst other things, and I hope that they appreciated it. Shout out to my inbox lol. And shout out to my Luvs!

Takerra Allen is the author of eleven urban-romance titles, including the 2010 African American Literary Award nominated hit novel, Heaven’s Hell and the 2015 RT Reviewers Choice Award nominated, Thicker than Water 3. In addition to being an author, she is the proud daughter of former Black Panther William Garland and sister to the late, renowned Tupac Shakur. She has been featured in publications such as XXL Magazine and Don Diva Magazine, featured four times in the Top 10 Urban Books Listing. Her Thicker than Water series is currently published through Kensington/Dafina Publishing and an independent film based on the novel Heaven’s Hell has been filmed, directed by Takerra and produced by Angelic Script, the independent entertainment company of Takerra and her business partner, Sandra Mobley.

You can follow Takerra Allen on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Author Interview: Ivy Symone

I had the pleasure of meeting Ivy Symone at the King Publishing Group Lobster Yacht cruise in Manhattan and again, at the Harlem Book Fair. She is an absolute sweetheart and extremely gifted writer. I loved, loved, LOVED her book Crush.  I am so happy to have been able to interview her.

1) How did you come up with the name Ivy Symone?

Well, my previous publisher suggested I come up with a pen name. I thought of Maxine Simone. When I began writing around ten  (the summer before 5th grade) I created my first couple: Max and Simone. My cousin loved Max and Simone! If you ask her about any of my current work today she’ll tell you those couples are okay but she want Max and Simone! But finishing the answer to the question, my previous publisher said Maxine sounded old so she suggested Ivy.

2) How did you like growing up and living in Nashville, TN.

As a child it was okay because it was all I knew. I didn’t know other places existed outside of Nashville and Murfreesboro, the city where I was born. As I got older I thought it was boring and country. But now, give Nashville a few more years…it’s going to be booming! The changes and the growth that’s occurring now…It’s really becoming a nice little city.

3) What was your earliest recollection of writing? Do you remember what you wrote?

Lol…yep. I think I answered that in question one. Max and Simone were in high school dealing with friends, family, and school. They were caucasian. Simone was the red head from the 80’s sitcom Head of the Class and Max was this dark hair guy with pretty blue eyes from this 80’s karate movie I had watched with my cousins. And that fact is interesting too because I kept Abe from Why Should I Love You with dark hair and blue eyes and originally I wrote Lovely as a redhead.

4) I read somewhere that you wrote in your earlier years, and then you started again in your adult years. What prompted you to write again in your adult years?

Writing in my adult years happened when things in my life weren’t so good. I used it as an escape; somewhat like a form of therapy. This last time, back in 2012, I was just bored. I got my first smartphone, a blackberry. I started writing on it. I was glued to that phone writing story after story. I went through three batteries too.

5) Who was your greatest influence, motivator and supporter in your writing journey?

Motivator and supporter would be my mama and my cousin Geneva. They knew writing was something I’ve always done but I never realized it was a passion until someone pointed it out to me. I just did it. End one story and start another one for no one but me to read. I didn’t even think of publishing until my mama mentioned it to me. I can’t remember what she was watching, but they had Jasinda Wilder on there talking about how she and her husband had published all of these titles on Amazon and how they were able to climb out of their financial hole with their royalties. She said to me, “Hey, why don’t you do what she did.” I scrunched up my nose and was like, “Eh, I’ll think about it.”

6) What was it like writing your debut novel, Why Should I Love You?

Man! If I had kept every version I wrote of that story! I still got two of them on my desktop that went very differently than the one I published. But I had been working on that concept since about 2012.

7) How long did it take you to write it?

The final version took me a couple of months.

8) Did you find it hard?


9) How do your creative ideas come from?

They come from many things. A song, a movie, a poem, driving my car and seeing people interact, my problems, someone else’s problems…I just twist it up in my own way.

10) Do you write every day? When do you find it the best time to write? Do you have a favorite spot?

No, I do not write every day. What’s funny is, I can go two months without writing anything, but as soon as an idea hit me and it plays out in my head, I can write it in a matter of days. I think I write best over night. No favorite spot.

11) My favorite character is Jah from your book, Crush. How did that character come into being?

Jah, Jah, Jah…Originally Jah was not supposed to be how he turned out to be. I think what happened was too much of myself, the inner me came out in his character. Then I mixed in some traits from a couple of other people I know.

12) How do you develop your characters?

Hmmm…most of my characters have a little bit of me in them, especially the men. That’s why most of them are flawed, but sensitive and loving. But I usually think of the character, picture them in my head, come up with their personalities, anything special about them, and then give them a name.

13) Were there specific things you did to perfect your craft?

Research, read, and constantly writing. It isn’t perfected and probably won’t ever be because I’m forever actively trying to evolve as a writer.

14) What are some of your favorite books and authors?

Mary Monroe is one of my favorites. Her Upper Room is crazy. I love her humor. Zane, Eric Jerome Dickey, Carl Weber, Mary B. Morrison and E. Lynn Harris are my greatest influences. I love all of their work.

15) What are some of your hobbies, other than reading and writing?

Watching horror movies all day long!

16) You recently started your own publishing company. How did that come about?

Poison Ivy Publishing came about because I had a lot of people, aspiring authors hitting me up in my inbox seeking advice and inquiring about publishers. Some would say, if I started a company they would sign with me. So I was like, okay if you’re not going to sign with King Publishing Group (who I’m signed to) then I ain’t gonna keep giving all of this advice and all of these pointers on writing. I asked my publisher, Tremayne Johnson—he’s the best by the way—how did the sub company thing work. I wasn’t really ready, but he was like, naw you ready for the next level. Sooo…PIP is here!

17) Did you believe Crush would blow up the way it did? How did you feel?

NO! Listen, I wrote that book in seven days because I was trying to beat another label mate at the time. We had a little challenge going on. I wrote it and thought it was blah! I even asked my publisher for it back. I kept doubting it and thinking no one was gonna get the storyline and no one was gonna like Jah. I was thinking it was going to be my first book  and not do so well. But man! When it dropped and a couple people were talking about it, I was like…okay…I guess they like it. Then I woke up the next morning and it had landed at #4 on the Amazon AA Urban bestsellers’ chart I was like WHAT! But even after that, I think what got me was that it began buzzing everywhere. I told Tremayne, “I don’t care if it don’t ever see number one on that chart, I’m just thrilled that people are talking about it.”

18) What inspires and motivates you?

I really don’t know. I can’t give you anything deep right here. The readers I guess. Their anticipation of something good to read from me motivates me to keep at it hoping to give them something new, different, and good. Their enjoyment of my work is rewarding. I love it!

19) How do you balance writing books and now publishing?

Uhm…ask me this in six months.

20) Last, but not least, from everything you learned as an author and now a publisher, what is the best advice you can give a novice?

Study, read, research, and write. Do everything you can to improve your craft. Establish a style, be original. Be open and have a willingness to learn. Don’t get into writing as a quick way to earn a few dollars. I believe a person does their best when writing is something they absolutely love regardless of the money making potential. Develop thick skin and have patience. When looking for a publisher, make sure you get with someone that align with who you are and share your vision. Make sure they believe in your work just as much as you do. Take pride in your work; it’s a direct reflection of you!

Thank you so much, Ivy. I wish you nothing but success in your future projects.

My name is really Ada Henderson but the literary world know me as Ivy Symone. I was born in Murfreesboro, TN but was raised the majority of my life in Nashville, TN. Writing for me began at the age of 10 when I was actually writing full stories. My cousin would read chapter by chapter and would rush me to complete the next one. Later in adulthood, I picked up writing again as an outlet to escape my day to day life when things seemed dire.

In 2013, my mother advised me to take my writing skills to a different level and consider getting published. In early 2014, I signed on with my former publisher and dropped my debut novel, Why Should I Love You in April of 2014. Why Should I Love You? 2 dropped later in August. After being released from WHP, I signed under King Publishing Group and dropped the third installment to my first series Why Should I Love You? 3 as well as another series Secrets Between Her Thighs. I’ve since put out Secrets Between Her Thighs 2, Never Trust A Broken Heart, and CRUSH and CRUSH 2. Crush 3 is due to be released November 21, 2015.

I currently reside in Nashville, TN with my three kids. I also have a fourth child but she’s grown and married and out of my house. When I’m not doing my two favorite pastimes reading and writing, I enjoy cooking, watching horror movies and spending time with my close family. I’m just a laid back goofball with a wicked sense of humor. I love to laugh!

You can follow Ivy Symone on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Guest Post: “Black Lives Matter” by Author Dutch

This is between you and me Black sisters, so lean in. Stop coddling Black men. I know your motherly instincts and your womanly proclivities make you want to bring, confront and care. I know you want to support him, but trust me on this, it’s time for tough love.

Challenge the Black man’s manhood. Not in regard to yourself, as his woman or the woman in his life, respect that, but what I say is challenge him on what he is doing in the community or for his community? Put your hand on your collective hip, look the Black man in his eye and say “stand your ass up and fight, stop marching in circles and lead us somewhere!”

If you beautiful Black sisters would say, “I know my man is not going to let nobody hold him back, because if you are going to protect me, what I need with you?”

Do you know what would happen?

Have you ever been to the club and a sister screaming on her man like, “I know you ain’t going to let him talk to me like that!” No matter how big the man or the fight in him, if he is any kind of man, somebody is getting knocked out. That is what will happen, but in a meaningful, constructive sense. Force him to use the brain and body he has to get his people to a better standing. Whisper in his collective ear “win” and watch that Rocky music anthem light up in his eyes. But, if you keep mourning his death, justify his weakness and coddle his insecurities, then he will forever remain your baby… are we clear?

Boko Haram is using little black girls as human bombs. The press is calling them, “suicide bombers.” They are not doing this of their own will or their own accord or based on their beliefs. It is murder. If they resist, they are tortured and killed. The same little girls the First Lady marched and tweeted about are now being strapped to explosives and blown to bits. Where is the outrage about this? Where is our outrage about this? Do you have children? Could you imagine your ten year old daughter being strapped with dynamite and then her being nothing but a mist? If that doesn’t move you to tears or to anger or to action, then you are only human in appearance.

Black lives mattering is not limited to the United States. Globally, the treatment of Blacks is not on the up and up.

To the Black Muslim Brothers, I am calling all Black Muslim Brothers, Sunni, Shia, Nation of Islam, Moor or Five Percenters, your Nigerian daughters are being slaughtered in the name of Islam. When are we, as Muslims going to hold the International community accountable for their silence in the face of such horrors?

If Syrian is a tragedy and Palestine a tragedy, then Nigeria is the very face of evil. When are we going to stand up and call Boko Haram a coward, disgusting and a bitch for hiding behind children in the name of Islam?! When? Because if you don’t, if you remain silent, then you are a coward and disgusting also. Straight like that. Black lives matter? Really? Show me. Save those babies if you don’t there is nothing Black about you, but you are sick at heart!

Hailing from Newark, New Jersey, Kwame Teague is the award winning, critically acclaimed, and Essence #1 bestselling author of the street classic Dutch trilogy. His other novels include Above The Law, the Dynasty trilogy, ? (pronounced Que), The Adventures of Ghetto Sam and the Glory of My Demise and Thug Politics under the pseudonym Dutch. With a passion for writing, Kwame is hard at work on his next novel.







Author Interview: Allison Grace

I first met Allison at the Black Pack Party in Harlem this year. I felt a connection to her right away. We just hit it off. She exudes wisdom, intelligence and talent. I took an immediate liking to her and am so happy to call her my friend. It is with great pleasure that I introduce to you, the gifted and beautiful, Allison Grace.

1) Who is Allison Grace?

Allison Grace is many things. I’m a woman, mother, daughter, author, introvert, comedian, master of sarcasm, author and unicorn. LOL.

2) Are you a native New Yorker?

Yes. Born and raised in the Bronx, New York. I’ve lived in Brooklyn and Harlem as well.

3) I read your love for reading and writing started early on. What was the first book you read that ignited your passion for writing?

The first book I read was Whoreson by Donald Goines. I didn’t know how much it would affect me until later on. It was my mother’s book. I used to sneak peeks of it when she was at work. The sexual nature of it ignited my passion for eroticism. Now I know why my stories are sexual in nature. When I became an adult I ventured more into romance and urban fiction. The first urban fiction novel I read was A Hustler’s Son by T. Styles of the Cartel Publications. Imagine my surprise and glee when she asked me to be a part of her Street Team in 2008 where I promoted, read and reviewed their novels to create a buzz for the company during its genesis phase. It was there that I learned the business of publishing from the outside in as opposed to the inside out.

4) Was there a particular person, family member, friend, teacher or mentor who encouraged you to write?

When I was in elementary school my second grade teacher encouraged me to write an essay and entered it into a contest. Because of that, I won and had to read it to all of my classmates and peers. I won the District 11 essay contest. I felt proud. Aside from that, my mom and my sons always encourage me. There’s nothing like being encouraged by those that stand by you. In this journey, I’ve also met amazing people such as Kevon Gulley of Save Black Boys who every day reminds me that I need to strive for bigger than I am. Also, my business partner Chris Styles and I speak every day. Sometimes I don’t even talk to him. I just text him “Foot to Ass” and he knows we need to get cracking on projects. He will also call me and remind me that I cannot slack or else nothing gets done.

5) What has your life been like and has your experiences been infused into your books?

My life has been pretty damn interesting. I have absolutely infused some of my experiences whether positive or negative into my books. They provide the passion and emotion that causes people to text me in the middle of the night and cuss me out. I’ve got a slew of animated friends and I weave some of their stories into my tales as well so it’s a mashup so to speak.

6) How does your ideas and inspiration come?

They come in the bathroom. I get my best ideas on the crapper or in the shower…. it’s quiet and you can think without being bothered, LOL.

7) What is your writing process? Do you write every day and for how long?

I try to write every day, but since I work a full time job, it’s not always possible. What I do is write in my phone when I can. Most times I zone out in my pajamas with my laptop and snacks. I can knock out about 5000 words in a weekend if I focus and I am passionate about the story told.

8) When you wrote your first book, what did you learn the most?

Oh boy! That book was basically born from a horrible relationship with my ex boyfriend. Lies, betrayals and broken promises caused me to pen poems and then they turned into short stories which ultimately turned into the books, Broken Promises Never Mend and Bound by Lies. I am working on finishing the series and tying it all together. Since it’s been a while I need to revamp it and modernize it. It’s coming though.

9) Tell us a little bit about each of your books. Which book was the most difficult to write and why?

The names of my books are Broken Promises Never Mend which is about a woman that discovers that her mate is living a double life. Because of his disrespect and betrayal, they both lose something dear to both of them.

Bound by Lies is the sequel to the above and continues where the last one left off. It chronicles the effects of what happens when one person isn’t truthful and the repercussions of love, lust and lies.

Bittersweet is my third novel and is far more gritty than the other two. It’s more erotic and “hood”. It details the story of a woman that’s a nurse by day and a stripper by night. She gets sucked in by the love of money and can’t get out of its grips.

Prepaid Mistress 1 and Prepaid Mistress 2 is the story of a woman with a torrid past. She loses her mother and father respectively at important times in her life and it molds her idealism of future relationships with men. Because of that she doesn’t know how to love and substitutes sex for it.

Bitch Clique Reloaded chronicles how past hurts can influence your future especially when it comes to family and most times when it comes to friends.

Blaque Widow tells the tale of a woman that’s married to who she sees as the love of her life. It all changes and she realizes when it’s almost too late. Struggling with abuse and addiction, she feeds her obsession with murder and ends up being out of control.

10) Typically how long does it take you to write a novel? Do you write long hand or type?

It normally takes me nine months to a year to write a book. I write with long hand at times when I don’t want to miss a thought and then type it out. Nowadays I just type it and keep moving. I go over it twice and then begin rewriting it one last time before it goes into editing.

11) How has your writing and publishing journey been thus far?

It’s been interesting to say the least. I’ve met some phenomenal people that have influenced me and encouraged me. I’ve also met some evil sons of bitches that are praying for my demise. To them, I tilt my hat because what’s for me, will be. I no longer try to please people. At the end of the day it’s OKAY to be selfish because not everyone will love your work but those that do, you push hard for them because THEY are your core fans and audiences.

12) What would you like to see change in this industry?

I doubt it will change but the backbiting… There’s enough love out here for everyone. NO one has to lie, cheat or steal to get ahead. It’s the norm however and it gets people where they need to be. I’ve been tempted to go that route but I see greater things beyond that road so I don’t dare. My blessings come from GOD not man. The end will justify the means.

13) What are specific things you did to hone your craft?

READ, READ and READ some more. I read outside of my genre and I read some within my genre when I am not working on a project. I tend to watch well written shows and translate them into how I would have written them. It takes a lot of practice, patience and perseverance.

14) How do you develop your characters?

Very carefully…. my characters are a mash up of myself and some of my friends and family. I also people watch when I travel. They show you much with their body language.

15) Do you learn a lot from the editing process? If so, what specifically?

The editing process showed me that you cannot edit your own book! Aside from that there’s a difference in line editing, copy editing and developmental editing. Those are the most common ones used and should be apart of the process each and every time. Please EDIT PROFESSIONALLY!!

16) If there was one thing you could do differently, what would it be?

I would have devoted more time to building my brand. It’s a long hard process and I’m still not as known as I should be with the amount of books I’ve written. I know however the more I grind out good material then people will want more from me and I will garner the attention I deserve.

17) What do you want your readers to take away from your books?

In all my books, there’s a woman that struggles. She struggles with if she’s pretty enough, if she’s a good mother, if she’s sexy enough, if she makes enough money. I want my readers to understand that without struggle there’s no progress and my characters make it through to the end even though their future appears dim. There’s truly a lesson in it all and a testimony when it all boils down to it.

18) How do you see yourself in five to ten years?

In 5-10 years I see myself on the New York Times Bestsellers list…….. in my home with my husband and my dog relaxing on our porch in Atlanta. I see myself basking in success and working for myself as an author published by a major imprint. I know that’s an anomaly now but it does exist and I want to continue to believe it can be my reality.

19) What new projects are you currently working on?

Shit! The true question is what am I NOT working on!? I’m working on Prepaid Mistress 3 as well as beginning another series for Sevyn McCray Presents. I am also working on two novels under my own imprint. One of them is something you all have been waiting on for a few years. Another is something new and fresh in a different genre than many are used to seeing me write in. I’m also collaborating with my business partner on a web series entitled “Slow Sippin… Yes LOVE I’m talking to you”. This collaboration is with Chris Styles, from out of Brooklyn. New York. He is a wonderful spoken word artist/poet and author. It is slated for release on Valentine’s Day 2016. We are super excited about it.

20) Lastly, what advice would you give a novice writer?

Write from your heart. It’s your heartbeat translating onto those pages. Five hundred people will have the same beating heart but no two have the same rhythm. Pay attention to your own!

Meet Allison Edwards formerly known as Essence M & now known as “Allison Grace”. The beautiful brain behind Illuminnessence Publishing, founded in  2007 by this avid writer/ reader who began her love affair with words at a tender age. Allison went on to create an extensive catalog of unpublished works including poetry & short stories.

Allison’s passion for words began in early childhood, she had always been fond of reading about life, love, poetry and short stories. As she matured, she challenged herself to hone her craft, exploring various story lines and navigating into the tumultuous world of adult relationships. Throughout her teen & young adult years she decided to put pen to paper and indulge one of her fantasies, to become a writer. Some of her favorite authors include Donald Goines, VC Andrews, Jackie Collins, Judy Blume and ZANE. This eccentric choice of novels allowed her to see different genres, writing styles and what they entailed. Each were very different and taught her a lot with regards to target audiences, story lines, and descriptions. Nothing prepared her however for her venture into Urban Literature.Allison’s first experience with Urban Lit began when she, as an avid reader received a message from one who promoted for a brand new unknown publishing company and was seeking assistance in promoting novels. Members would receive a chance to win free books and other spectacular prizes. Allison jumped at the chance and was soon an official Street Team/Pep Squad member of the “Cartel Publications” spearheaded by Essence Best-selling Author T Styles and her partner Vice President, Charisse Washington. They both would play an important role in Allison’s literary career later on as mentors.Their influences and support caused Allison to link up with KingPen A.S of HHEAT Magazine and she was able to co host a show with him featuring authors on Blog Talk Radio. Authors interviewed include K.D Harris, Jason Poole, Iesha Brown, and much more. This allowed Allison access to an industry untapped where new and established authors were able to speak with her regarding novels they wanted to promote. She then took on the responsibility of hosting her own radio show which showcased authors such as Takerra Allen, Tanisha “Mahogani P” Pettiford as well as others. During this time, Allison shamelessly continued to promote The Cartel Publications and began writing her first novel.

It is with that unwavering tenacity that we’ve arrived at this point. Allison’s first venture into self publication “Broken Promises Never Mend” became available in paperback in January 2010.  An amended version of which was released June 2010 in paperback, which features a new cover. It premiered on Amazon for Kindle, as of June 2010 as well. Allison learned various lessons while putting this novel together. Some of which she’s still learning to this day and with every novel she improves her craft and tries harder. She proved that by releasing a follow up to her debut less than a year later showing naysayers that she wasn’t a one hit wonder.

The sizzling sequel Bound By Lies debuted on Amazon for Kindle, February 2011 to rave reviews and is still causing mouths to drop with an ending that rivals its predecessor. Both novels are considered an “underground success” and were edited by Brandie Randolph of Editing Couture. Allison followed up with a novel for the streets entitled Bittersweet which showed the world that she was here to stay. During a brief hiatus, Allison published a short story series (Bitch Clique) that brought just as much drama as an entire season of “Scandal”.

Allison is currently focused on a collection of other works slated for release in 2016, under her  imprint “Full of Essence Publications”. The idea to reinvent herself came about with prayer and the desire to be so much more than she already established herself to be. In 2013, Allison Grace was signed to an independent publisher “Sevyn McCray Presents” spearheaded by Sevyn McCray and David Weaver of SBR Publications. Her novel under that imprint PrePaid Mistress debuted at number 5 on the Amazon Bestsellers list for African American women’s fiction. She followed up with the sequel Prepaid Mistress 2 and also revamped her ebook series Bitch Clique Reloaded into a full length action packed standalone. in 2015, Allison released an emotionally charged novel focusing on domestic violence and addiction entitled Blaque Widow. Allison anticipates an abundance of blessings in 2016 and beyond beginning with work on other titles she’s got in store as well as promoting authors that seek her assistance in publishing.

“I was blessed to enter this industry and know how hard it is, so the least I can do is give back.” she says with a gleam in her eye and a smile on her face. This native New Yorker prides herself in assisting others and promotes literacy to her children. This isn’t the end of Allison Grace and we can tell she’s got a long way to go but the rewards have been phenomenal.

You can follow Allison Grace on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The Bishop’s Mistress by CJ Miller

Paperback: 236 pages
Publisher: Rhea Leto Media Group (September 18, 2014)
ISBN-10: 0990472736
ISBN-13: 978-0990472735
Price: $14.99
Purchase: | Amazon









Bishop James Samuel Jr. lives the typical, flashy lifestyle of a successful Los Angeles, California bishop. He drives luxury cars, has two thriving churches, and has the reputation every minister wished to possess. The Bishop’s life appears to be scandal free. However, will his highly visible and anointed lifestyle remain intact after Patrick? Patrick is a member of the Bishop’s church, a former drug lord whose Christian virtues are tested when he discovers his wife, Kerrah, is his Bishop’s mistress. Will the Bishop and his blessed life survive the wrath of a scorned husband who is still learning to forgive?


This is my first introduction to CJ Miller’s work, and I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised. As I mentioned on my video reviewThe Bishop’s Mistress is a Christian urban book. However, it’s not your atypical Christian novel. It’s different than most Christian books I’ve read and reviewed, as it’s real, gritty and relatable.

The Bishop’s Mistress is about a good looking, prominent and anointed Bishop James, who is married to a wealthy white woman by the name of Janice. He loves Janice, but falls from grace by having a steamy, and passionate affair with one of his church members; a sexy, attractive black woman by the name of Kerrah. Kerrah happens to be married to Patrick, who is a dangerous drug dealer.

Patrick finds out that Kerrah is cheating on him with the Bishop and the consequences that spiral out of his discovery will leave you in suspense.

Perhaps there are those who would not agree that someone would go to the extent as Patrick did to avenge his betrayal. However, I believe the circumstances to be realistic, if someone is angry and ruthless enough. Anything is possible and can happen when you take a chance and cheat. It’s like playing Russian Roulette with your life and soul.

I really enjoyed this book, it draws you in from the very start and continues throughout the entire book. There is a moral and message to this story, without feeling like you’re being preached at. I highly recommend it and look forward to reading more by CJ Miller.

CJ Miller was raised in Southern California and started writing at the age of ten. After graduating from Wilberforce University in 2004, he fell in love with the writing process. Miller believes writing is CPR for the soul.  He is the author of the book Grind How To Turn Your Coffee Break Into Your Big Break, a book dedicated to showing readers how to strategically utilize coffee shops and effective network to turn their dreams into reality and the novel, The Bishop’s Mistress.

CJ Miller is nationally and internationally recognized for his roles on reality television shows such as Season 1 of the ABC Networks and Tyra Banks “True Beauty”, TV Ones Donald J. Trump Presents The Ultimate Merger, and as a reoccurring personality on the Tyra Banks daytime talk show. CJ is a sought after consultant for creative ideas in the entertainment industry and book projects.

CJ is also the founder of H-Eleven 1 Innovation, a nonprofit organization which creates community enrichment programs geared towards youth. The nonprofit’s most successful program is the Phabb5 After School Book Publishing program; a turn-key book publishing program that teaches students in underserved communities to write, publish, and brand their own books. The goal of the program is to increase matriculation and reverse the trend of illiteracy in underserved communities while bridging the gap between classroom, corporations, and community.

These days you can find CJ encouraging students at Locke high school to write their stories and graduate from school. He is also the author of the new released novel, Dirty Dolls.

You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Author Interview: Raynesha Pittman


I first met Raynesha Pittman on Facebook. I watched her from afar and was impressed by what I saw. Fate had it that we would connect, and when we did, it was if we knew each other all our lives. I am extremely proud of this talented young lady and believe this is just the tip of the iceberg of her successful literary career. It is my pleasure to introduce to you, Raynesha.

1) Where did you grow up? Did you have a good childhood?

I grew up on the east side of Los Angeles in a area known as the Low Bottoms. Now at thirty-three years old, looking back, my childhood was okay. If you would have asked me this sixteen years ago, I’m sure the answer would have definitely been different. Growth of the mind does change the memories.

2) Did you always want to be a writer?

I have always written to express myself or to entertain my friends. Writing wasn’t the shocker, but being published….now that was the shock.

3) Who was your greatest influence in your life?

My father and maternal grandmother. My father was not the ideal role model or law abiding citizen, but he was my dad. The life lessons he thought me are held near and dear. And my maternal grandmother is the reason why I am not a female version of my father.

4) What motivates you?

I was raised by two street hustlers, so being a go-getter was ingrained in me at an early age. But when that self-motivation begins to run low, my family immediately gives me a refill. I look at my babies faces, and watch my husband work two full-time jobs, so I can stay home to write. I also watch my mother fight her battle with Lupus with so much strength and determination that it recharges me. My family is my largest motivation.

5) Who are some of your favorite authors and what are some of your all-time favorite books?

My list of favorites is long, but John Grisham is number one. I love all of his work that I have read, but there’s something about The Rainmaker that makes me read it at least once a year.

6) Was there a book that changed your life after you read it?

No, not really. I’ve read a lot of eye openers that brought light to issues I’ve faced or a few to bring me to tears, but nothing powerful enough to excite change.

7) What was your experience like self-publishing your first book, Kismet?

Self-publishing was a headache and wasn’t the route I originally wanted to take. When the publisher I initially submitted it to fell through on promises, my alternative was to publish the work on my own. The rainbow that followed that storm was that the publisher walked me through self-publishing. And with a phone call to K’wan for more information, I was able to put it out myself.

8) What are some of the valuable lessons you learned by writing and publishing your first book?

Editing is key!

9) If you had to do it over again, what would you do differently?

I’d definitely hire a professional editor and a couple of proofreaders. I entered the industry trusting everything I heard and it was a very expensive mistake.

10) How have you honed your craft?

I research more and I don’t attempt to publish everything I write. A lot of what I write are skill builders. I take my non-fictional day and turn it into fiction or a medication commercial turns into a story using the side effects. It keeps my creativity going. I’m also in a lot of writer’s groups and I take lots of notes.

11) How did you go from being a self-published author to signing with Write 2 East Concepts? How did that come about?

When I reached out to K’wan in 2010, he wasn’t taking submissions. In 2011, he opened them up briefly, but my writing wasn’t where it needed to be to get signed by him. In 2013, he reached out to me and asked me if I was still writing because he hadn’t seen me mention it. I said yes. He told me to submit a story and the rest is history. He released Dog Food in July of 2014 and Dog Food 2 May of 2015. It still feels like a dream to me!

12) Do you have a writing routine and do you write every day?

No, I do not, but I do write daily when and wherever I am. With eight other people in the house having a real routine would be perfect, but with six of those eight being busy children who need me constantly, I write when I can steal time from them.

13) How do your ideas come for your books?

Life’s seasons and reasons. Everything that catches the attention of my six senses is a story waiting for me to tell.

14) How long does it typically take you to write a book?

It depends on what is going on around me. I’ve written one in three weeks and the longest was three months. It really depends on how much time I can sneak away from my responsibilities to my family. Even with pulling all nighters, there’s never enough hours in a day.

15) What are some of your goals you would like to accomplish in the years ahead?

My biggest goals are to be signed by a major publishing house and get my books on the shelf EVERYWHERE! I’m working hard to be able to cross those goals off my list so I can make new ones that are even larger.

16) What is the hardest thing about writing and publishing?

Writing isn’t hard when you love to do it. My issue with self-publishing is that I don’t have a marketing team or a promotion staff doing my leg work. I’m a one woman team and if I don’t do it, it doesn’t get done.

17) What would you like to see different in the industry?

The crab in the barrel mentally needs to be done away with. It’s easier to uplift than to breakdown. Hopefully, we will all realize this one day.

18) What do you want readers to get from your books?

I write in different genres but as a whole, a new understanding or view on the issues I touch on. If I wrote to entertain then I hope the book accomplished that goal.

19) Lastly, what advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Study your craft, read contracts before signing them and if you don’t understand the lingo, get a lawyer. Finally, never let anyone stop you from living your dreams. Giving up should NEVER be an option!

Thank you, Raynesha. It was a pleasure to interview you!

Raynesha Pittman grew up as one of Los Angele’s many troubled youth which led her into serving four years around Los Angeles juvenile corrections centers, placements, and camps. She first recognized her love for writing while incarcerated. Her first manuscript was written to her mother in hopes of giving her insight to what Raynesha was going through as a teen, but never published. One positive thing Raynesha had during her troubled years was book smarts, her ticket out of the hands of correctional facilities. She was an honors student since kindergarten, certified gifted in the third grade, and was sent to Woodland Hills, California for a more challenging education, yet she had to be placed in advance placement classes there too. Her temper and fighting had her removed from the enriched schools, but that didn’t stop her. She graduated high school at sixteen years old and received acceptance letters to five out-of-state universities which she later declined offers to due to still being on probation until eighteen years of age and not being able to leave the state. California State University at Los Angeles and Northridge accepted her last minute application with open arms. After attending school for a little over a semester she discovered she was pregnant and decided to put her role as a mother first. She moved to Tennessee for a new start with her boys and received her PTCB national certification in July 2010 after three and a half years of being a licensed Pharmacy technician. It was while working in a pharmacy, she met Michael Antonio of Payne Publishing, Inc., who encouraged her to write a book. She took his opinion to heart and wrote her debut novel, KismetRaynesha currently lives in Tennessee with her husband and their six children.

Raynesha Pittman is the CEO, Founder and a author at Conglomerate Ink, an Urban Literature publishing company established November 2010 to help authors expose and share their talents of storytelling while developing discipline in their craft. In May 2011, Raynesha was offered the opportunity to help promote literacy nationwide by childhood friend, author and now publisher Terry L. Wroten by joining the West Coast Authors Movement also known as W-CAM where Raynesha not only fills the position of an author on the team, but is also over website design and management and acts as W-CAM’s Southern liaison due to her living in the South. Her greatest literary achievement came in January 2014 when she was signed to Write2Eat Publishing under the legendary K’wan Foye.

You can follow Raynesha Pittman on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Author Interview: Faith Cheek Weathers

I first met with Faith months ago on Facebook. It was on King Publishing Group – The Buzz page. We connected instantly. Then I had the pleasure of meeting her in person at the Harlem Book Festival back in July. I have a great deal of respect and love for this talented author. While we were talking the other day, this interview happened. It’s my pleasure to introduce to you, Faith.

1) Where did you grow up? How was your childhood?

I was born in Albany, NY and raised in Syracuse, NY and Louisville, KY. I had a great childhood. I did a MS Readathon commercial. We lived a nice middle class life. My father liked the finer things. My mother stayed at home and always put us first.

2) When you wrote your first book, did you find it hard?

Yes.  I didn’t know first person from third. The editors chopped my book up. I had to change it to make it more urban. But I pulled it together.

3) Is that how you learned to get better, with an editor?

Yes, and I learned quick! When I wrote part two, I didn’t have any rewrites.

4) How long did it take you to write your first book?

It didn’t take that long, a few weeks. But I use to write in notebooks, so it took a while for me to type it up. I wrote Church Whore in two weeks.

I feel closest to God when I’m writing. I’m at peace when I’m writing because I know that’s what I’m supposed to be doing.

Now I type on my laptop, but I still have about ten stories in notebooks. My first book was written in 2008. Shxt Happens was written in 2007.

5) So when did you decide you were a writer?

I’ve always written. I use to write letters for all of my friends in middle school. Break up letters, and love letters.

The first time my teacher noticed my writing was at the end of my eighth grade year and she said, “Had I known you could write, I would have gotten you published.”

I just knew I loved it. My best friend Angie told me that writing was my calling. That was in 2006 before my son was killed.

6) Can I ask what happened?

He was run over by a school bus on Sept 28, 2006. He was 14. He was the second child I lost. I had a stillborn in 1999. I was seven and a half months. I named her little Faith.

7) So would you say this was the impetus which propelled you into writing full-time?

Yes, after Sean died I decided to take my writing more seriously. Because before then I would write movie scripts, but never stories.

8) How do your ideas come to you?

I never know what I’m going to write. I free style. Like with my first series all I knew was I wanted a woman who was strong and no nonsense. I knew I wanted her to have two best friends. That’s all I knew and I just wrote.

The funny thing is one of characters became bi later in the book, but when I first described her, I said she seemed like she could be a lesbian, but I didn’t even remember that.

My friend told me well that’s how you described her. I talk about my characters like they are real and in the house with me.

9) What are some of you all-time favorite books and authors and why?

VC Andrews! I grew up reading all her books. That’s what made me say I want to write. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

This is how God works. Years ago, before I was signed the author, Carla Pennington put up a list for summer reading. Budussy by Eros was on the list. Once I read it, I was hooked. At that moment, he became my favorite author. And years later, not only is he my publisher and mentor, but he’s one of my best friends.

10) What was your most favorite book to write?

Church Whore was my favorite book to write. It just flowed out of me.

11) Do you write every day?

No, I don’t write everyday.

12) What do you believe made you a better writer?

Life experience. Listening to my spirit.

13) Are you working on anything new now?

Yes, Church Whore 3. Plus a few other jewels I’ve started on.

What is the most important thing to you? What inspires you? Pushes you to higher heights?

I want to grow as an author. My parents gave me the gift of words. Watching my father preach and stir up souls made me want to do that in my own way. They taught me the power of words. My kids push me to follow my dreams. I’ve made many sacrifices to do so.

My mother wrote poetry and played for our church, so words were always important. At the end of the day, I always have my words.

14) What advice would you give a new writer?

Stay true to yourself. Stay humble. This game changes people and most times not for the better.

Thank you so much, Faith. Wishing you the world of success and abundant blessings on your literary journey.

Faith Cheek Weathers was born on September 15, 1974 to Rev. & Mrs. Earl Cheek. Faith learned at an early age the importance of words. Faith used to write letters for friends in school and quickly made a name for herself as “The Letter Writer.” Faith would write for fun as she obtained a Bachelors in Psychology. In 2014 she was signed to a publishing company. In September of 2014, she was signed to KPG. Under the direction of her mentor Eros, Faith started to build her catalog. One year later Faith has then ten releases under KPG with many more  to come. Faith resides in Greensboro, NC with her four remaining children. Faith has experienced many trials and tribulations including the death of two children, but she doesn’t let anything stop her. Stat tuned to see what this preachers kid has up her sleeve. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.



Follow Your Passion

Not everything in life is about money. Yes, we need money, I’m not saying we shouldn’t work or be responsible. What I am saying is when we truly follow our passion, money isn’t the motivation, purpose is.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

My wise father once said, do what you love and the money will follow. His passion is cooking, singing and people. If you see my father, you see me. I probably would have followed in his footsteps and taken over his restaurant, if I wasn’t passionate about the arts. I was good in the restaurant business because I love food and people. Yet, the restaurant business wasn’t for me.

My passion was the arts. I spent hours listening to the radio growing up. My mother bought me my first phonograph at the age of seven. I had 45’s and I would listen to them over and over. I would take walks from my house to Sam Goody on Queens Boulevard, where I was introduced to musicians like Al Di Meola, who is a radical guitarist and ahead of his time.

I didn’t realize I had a singing voice until two musical directors from a play I was in, told me I had a beautiful voice. I thought they were just being nice, until my peers started to tell me the same thing. It was then that I started taking singing seriously and found a coach.

In the midst of this, I loved to dance (still do). My mother was a professional dancer, so I started dancing as soon as I learned to walk. But, in order to get into the top clubs in Manhattan, I needed a fake ID. So me and my friends took a trip to 42nd Street and got ourselves some. It was then that I started frequenting clubs like, the Palladium, Red Parrot, Copacabana, Limelight, Tunnel, and much more.

Yes, music is a passion of mine. But so is reading and writing. I started reading books and keeping a journal as a kid. I devoured books and poured my feelings out on to the page. I also started dabbling in poetry, by the time I reached High School, I submitted my poems to the school newspaper and they made it to the front page. I also drew, so I would draw something that would coincide with my poems which was a plus.

But sadly, for years, I didn’t think I was a “writer”. I knew I was an actress, singer, dancer, and artist, but for some reason, I never thought I was a writer. This discovery happened later in life, when I read Jeff Goins book, You Are A Writer.

If you are not sure what your passion or purpose is, I highly recommend reading his other book, The Art of Work. Jeff is a good friend, colleague and mentor of mine. I have watched him do some amazing things over the years. He is inspiration to me. If you don’t follow his blog, I recommend that you do. I have learned so much from him.

If you don’t know what your passion is, you won’t know what your purpose is either, because passion and purpose go hand in hand. I encourage you to explore and discover what your passion and purpose is, because once you do, you will feel fulfilled.

Are you struggling with knowing your passion or finding your purpose? If so, let’s discuss it in the comment section below.

Author Interview: Brooklyn June Miller

A few months ago, I was hearing a buzz about June Miller’s book, Color. Cut. Clarity. I honestly didn’t know who he was and it was my first time hearing his name. So I went on a little mission and researched. Well, I was able to see his work, but I only came across one interview with the lovely Kisha Green. Since he lived in New York City, I decided to hit him up and ask him if he would be willing to meet with me in person for a live interview. To my surprise, he graciously accepted. I was fortunate enough to get to know the man behind the pen. He is a talented, perceptive, intelligent, and wise man who I am grateful to now call my friend. Without further ado, here is my interview with Brooklyn June.

1) What part of Brooklyn did you grow up?

I was raised in Bed-Stuy and Fort Greene.

2) What did you aspire to be as a child?

As a child I always wanted to be a doctor. I remember my mother giving me a medical book for Christmas too.

3) I read you loved writing since public school? Was there a particular teacher that motivated you?

When I was in public school, I was lucky enough to be in gifted classes and in the 5th and 6th Grade my teacher, Mrs. Ronni Freed took a big interest in my intelligence and ability to write creatively. She was the reason I became valedictorian of my graduating class.

4) Did anyone else in your family write?

No, no one else in my family writes. I believe my ability comes naturally.

5) What are some of your favorite books and authors and why?

My favorite book is Black Boy by Richard Wright. This was my first grown up read and I escaped into a world of reading that further sparked my love for the written word. Before then I read a Judy Blume book, Are you there God, it’s me Margaret. It was my sister’s book but I loved reading so I devoured all her girly books like Nancy Drew mysteries. Then I read a book by Claude Brown that changed the way I looked at writing, Manchild in the Promised Land. That book took me somewhere dark I’ve never been but would soon find about in my later years.

6) Was there a particular book that changed your life?

Black Boy, it awakened me. I needed to know what my ancestors went through as a people and my journey to learn my history begun.

7) Do you write full-time or part-time?

I currently write full-time.

8) How did you perfect your craft as a writer?

I have to say that I’m not sure. I’ve never read a book on writing and have no formidable background. I listen to those readers who support me and try to give great, original stories.

9) Do you have anyone you look up to or influenced you?

The person who influenced me to write was my sons’ mother. She read a journal I was keeping and told me I should turn it into a story. She read urban books at the time.

10) Do you have a writing routine or ritual?

I don’t have a routine per se, but my best time to write is in the wee hours of the night when there is nothing but me and the characters talking.

11) Do you write every day?

Every single day.

12) What do you want your readers to get from the books you write?

My first book, This Game Has No Loyalty, I wanted to tell an authentic story of the pitfalls young people face when making choices due to the circumstances of your environment. After that series, I wanted to give readers great stories that would entertain but also leave them scratching their heads at the end.

13) How many books do you have published?

I have over fifteen books published.

14) Usually how long does it take you to write a book?

For a full length novel, it will take me a month and a half to two months. For 35,000 words, that’s within a month.

15) Do you use an outline or freestyle?

Long hand or typing? I honestly don’t write outlines. I have a concept and the characters in my mind and I just start typing and let the characters tell the story.

16) What was your most favorite and least favorite book to write and why?

My favorite to write was Victimized-Buchanan’s Secret. It showed my true ability to write outside of what everyone else does. I don’t have a least favorite because I love all my stories, if they sell or not.

17) How do the stories or characters come to you?

Some of the stories pop into my head from something I’ve been through or seen, other times I sit down and try to think of something original but not too far fetched and develop it into my own.

18) What was the best experience you ever had as an author?

My best experience was being summoned by a woman who had heard about me and was suddenly intrigued by my work.

19) What lured you to the dangerous life of the streets?

I wasn’t lured, I chose my life. I wanted fast money and was fearless when I was younger.

20) What was the greatest lesson you learned in that life?

The Game Has NO Loyalty.

21) Did something happen that propelled you out of the game?

The birth of my daughter made me realize that I no longer had to live a selfish life, I had someone to live for.

22) I read that you were enrolled in college, what was your major?

Ha. I graduated from New York City Technical College and my major was Microcomputer Business Systems (whatever the hell that was).

23) Was your first novel This Game Has No Loyalty based on your life?


24) When did you branch out and start Four Shadough Publishing?

I was laid off and decided to start my company.

25) How were you discovered by Ashley and JaQuavis?

K’wan put in a word for me and at the Harlem Book Fair, Treasure Blue introduced me to JaQuavis. I received a call from him some months later and the rest is history.

26) Do you consider yourself an urban writer or something else?

I would say urban because my stories are set in urban environments, but I offer more than an urban experience.

27) What would you tell the youth of today?

If they would listen, get an education to secure a career and change the stigma and deadly cycle we all get caught up in. I would also tell them to learn THEIR history so they can understand society a little better, when armed with knowledge, you have the upper hand.

28) What projects are you currently working on?

Three projects, Improper Love 2, Sheba and Reno 2, Muffin’s Story and hopefully a part two to Color Cut Clarity.

29) Is there a dream you want to fulfill?

I’m living my dream.

30) Last, but not least, what is the best advice you would give to someone who is just starting out as a writer?

Learn the business end of the industry so you will not fall victim to the system.

Thank you for a wonderful interview, Brooklyn June.

June Miller is the published author of, This Game Has No Loyalty, an urban street fiction novel depicting real life on the streets and the love relationships within those parameters.

His love of writing was first discovered in public school where he dazzled teachers with his creative short stories and intriguing poems. His writing was officially acknowledged locally when one of his stories was featured in his class yearbook.

As June reached his teenage years, he abandoned his love of writing for the dangerous life on the streets of Brooklyn. Although he was educated, the excitement of the street life interested him and he quickly took part in petty crimes, which soon elevated into the introduction to the infamous drug trade where he became a major distributor of illegal drugs out of state. During his illicit activities he was apprehended and convicted then later incarcerated. Once released on parole, he reclaimed his spot in the drug trade and continued trafficking illegal drugs, the threat of violating parole a fleeting thought. His youth and inexperience in life fueled his desire for illegal tender without the thought or regret of contributing to the destruction of his community.

As time passed all of his relationships, social, personal and romantic, became strained due to the nature of his business. His life lacked stability despite the illusion of financial comfort. He was responsible for himself so there was never any balance in his life until the birth of his first daughter, who changed the way he viewed life…her life. June decided to make changes in his life and immediately enrolled into college where he rediscovered his love of writing, showcasing his literary abilities that were recognized by his English professors.

While pursuing his degree, tragedy struck and one of his closest friends was brutally murdered. Overcome by anger and revenge he channeled his emotions into something that came to him naturally, he wrote the story. It didn’t heal the wound to his heart but was therapeutic in helping him express feelings no one knew about. The story was buried along with his feelings for 10 years until one day he came across it after coming from a funeral for yet another fallen youth to the same game he had given up. At that moment he decided to write a story, a true to life account of what happens in the streets with hopes of reaching the youth by delivering vivid accounts of the pitfalls of the street life that is not taught to them and at the same time, promote literacy in these communities because it’s the gateway to learning and sparking mental creativity.

June began penning his novel This Game Has No Loyalty and incorporated his own experiences into his writing to produce the “realness” his story needed to capture his audience.

June is also the author of This Game Has No Loyalty II – Hustle for Life and This Game Has No Loyalty III – Love is Pain published by FourShadough Publishing, a book publishing company that is rooted in the promotion of literacy in urban neighborhoods here and abroad.

You can follow Brooklyn June Miller on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Color. Cut. Clarity. by June Miller

Print Length: 193 pages
Publisher: Official Writers League
Publication Date: June 30, 2015
Purchase: Amazon
Price: $4.99









Michelle, Bridget and Darlene are three best friends growing up in a notorious Brooklyn housing project known for its high poverty, deadly violence and relentless murders, who are about to change their circumstances when one of them gets the chance of a lifetime.

After witnessing a robbery gone bad by a neighborhood thug named Tone, Michelle is left with the bag of stolen money. Seeing it as an opportunity to build a relationship with her dope fiend mother as well as change her and her friend’s financial status, she starts her own drug empire with the help of her mother and her friends. When she gets an unexpected call from Tone about the stolen money he gave her to hold, they hit it off and become romantically involved.

New to the game, Michelle is schooled on the dangers and pitfalls and doesn’t take it lightly. Her first introduction to tragedy is when her mother is brutally murdered. She vows revenge to anyone involved and turns up the heat and becomes a queen pin and births her crew – Precious Jewels.

Michelle is set up and robbed but turns the table on her assailant, committing her first murder but later finds out it was Tone’s young cousin. Telling Tone is the least of the problems that are beginning to plague the PJ crew – more murder, lines of friendship are crossed, love is lost while betrayal and revenge become the height of the disloyalty.

Witness the rise of the youngest and most profitable female crew in Tompkins, Precious Jewels and watch to see if they can survive the game with their friendships, relationships and love or will the Precious Jewels become worthless and lose its Color. Cut. Clarity.


Color. Cut. Clarity. is about three girls who grew up in the hood of Brooklyn. Everything changes for these girls after they witness a robbery at a store. One of the girls, Michelle recognizes who it is. A boy named Tone who always picked on her. Before the cops arrested and sent him to prison, he handed her a bag of money he stole and asked her to keep it in a safe place for him. She obliges, but since she is young, poor and lives in the projects with her grandmother, her mind started scheming about the things she could do and get with all that money. She tells her homegirls, Darlene and Bridget, that she was keeping the money for herself. She figured Tone would be in prison for awhile, so it was her money now.

Michelle’s mother was never around because she was a dope fiend. She was desperate for her mother’s love and attention that she was willing do anything. Even sell drugs, which is precisely what she did. She devises a plan with her mother and her man, and before they knew it, they were making a ton of money. Until a tragic turn of event occurred; her mother and man were shot and thrown off the roof of her building. Michelle was devastated and vowed to avenge her death.

Color. Cut. Clarity. is about love, lies, secrets, betrayal, murder and treachery at best, and how it plays out with surprising twists and turns.

June Miller is a beast with his pen, and a phenomenal story teller. His characters are well developed and real. Reading this book was like watching a movie or being on a roller coaster ride.

The ending was pure fire. I sincerely hope June Miller writes a sequel because I want to know what happens next.

June Miller is the published author of, This Game Has No Loyalty, an urban street fiction novel depicting real life on the streets and the love relationships within those parameters.

His love of writing was first discovered in public school where he dazzled teachers with his creative short stories and intriguing poems. His writing was officially acknowledged locally when one of his stories was featured in his class yearbook.

As June reached his teenage years, he abandoned his love of writing for the dangerous life on the streets of Brooklyn. Although he was educated, the excitement of the street life interested him and he quickly took part in petty crimes, which soon elevated into the introduction to the infamous drug trade where he became a major distributor of illegal drugs out of state. During his illicit activities he was apprehended and convicted then later incarcerated. Once released on parole, he reclaimed his spot in the drug trade and continued trafficking illegal drugs, the threat of violating parole a fleeting thought. His youth and inexperience in life fueled his desire for illegal tender without the thought or regret of contributing to the destruction of his community.

As time passed all of his relationships, social, personal and romantic, became strained due to the nature of his business. His life lacked stability despite the illusion of financial comfort. He was responsible for himself so there was never any balance in his life until the birth of his first daughter, who changed the way he viewed life…her life. June decided to make changes in his life and immediately enrolled into college where he rediscovered his love of writing, showcasing his literary abilities that were recognized by his English professors.

While pursuing his degree, tragedy struck and one of his closest friends was brutally murdered. Overcome by anger and revenge he channeled his emotions into something that came to him naturally, he wrote the story. It didn’t heal the wound to his heart but was therapeutic in helping him express feelings no one knew about. The story was buried along with his feelings for 10 years until one day he came across it after coming from a funeral for yet another fallen youth to the same game he had given up. At that moment he decided to write a story, a true to life account of what happens in the streets with hopes of reaching the youth by delivering vivid accounts of the pitfalls of the street life that is not taught to them and at the same time, promote literacy in these communities because it’s the gateway to learning and sparking mental creativity.

June began penning his novel This Game Has No Loyalty and incorporated his own experiences into his writing to produce the “realness” his story needed to capture his audience.

June is also the author of This Game Has No Loyalty II – Hustle for Life and This Game Has No Loyalty III – Love is Pain published by FourShadough Publishing, a book publishing company that is rooted in the promotion of literacy in urban neighborhoods here and abroad.

You can follow Brooklyn June Miller on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Author Interview: Noire

I read and reviewed G-Spot by Noire a few months ago, and absolutely loved it. You can view my video review here. I was so intrigued by the story, that I reached out to Noire and asked her if she would be willing to do an interview. She graciously accepted. I think you will find her interview an absolute delight, and if you loved her before, I promise you, you will love her even more. I do. I have a great deal of respect and admiration for her as a woman and as an artist. She is someone who has overcome so much adversity in her life. She is an inspiration to me. It is with great pleasure that I introduce to you, Noire.

1) Who is Noire?

I’m actually a very complex and reserved person, so it’s hard for people to pin me down. I’m a free spirit, a practical joker, a mother, a sister, a friend, a creative thinker, a writer, and an entrepreneur.

2) How was your childhood?

It definitely wasn’t the best. My mother had a lot of substance abuse issues, so as kids we were exposed to a lot of drama. That’s why my stories read like you’re watching a graphic movie. I grew up around drugs and crime, and when I was young I looked up to pretty girls who were getting caught up in that lifestyle. I write about what I’ve actually seen, and in some cases, I write about what I’ve experienced in my own life. I give a lot of thanks to my aunts because they loved us enough to step in and rescue us from my mother. They placed us in a more positive environment.

3) You are hailed as the Queen of Urban Erotica, when did you know you wanted to write and write Erotica

I started writing when I was a little girl, probably about six or seven, but I hid my stories because I was scared all the time. As I got older and matured, my writing matured too. When I was fourteen, my next-door neighbor bought me a five-subject notebook for school, and I filled it up by writing fantasies and mysteries. I also wrote a few comedies so I could make myself laugh. I think those early attempts at urban comedy shine through in my Sexy Little Liar series with the Misadventures of Mink LaRue.

4) Was there anyone in your life who encouraged you to write?

There was one time that my aunt found something that I had written and hidden in the back of a drawer. She read it with her mouth hanging open. I thought she was going to chastise me because of the sexual content, but she loved it and said she couldn’t believe I had such creative pen skills. It was a short story that I had written just for myself as usual, but my aunt is a writer too and she convinced me that the rest of the world needed to read my stories. Her encouragement was life-changing for me.

5) When did you decide to pen your first book? How long did it take?

It didn’t take that long because I didn’t know I was writing a book. I was just telling yet another creative story and letting it unfold in it’s own way and it’s own time, so there was no structure and no pressure. It was all original, and all at my own pace.

6) What do you believe shaped you as a writer?

It had to be studying people and their conversations that shaped me. I watched and listened to everything, even when it got me in trouble. I was that kid that got smacked for having my eyes in grown folk’s mouth or for listening to grown folk’s conversations. And I read everything I could get my hands on too, including the newspaper.

7) How do your ideas come to you?

My ideas come from the life I’ve lived and the environments I’ve been exposed to, the people I’ve known, and the situations I’ve witnessed. I went from admiring the so-called chickenheads, thots, and trap queens, to mentoring and counseling them and showing them that they have options and alternatives in life. My stories are basically big blinking warning signs. They’re cautionary tales about the pitfalls of the streets, and they lay out in black and white what can happen when you play dangerous games in this world.

8) Do you have a favorite place or space to write?

Yep! In my bed!

9) What is your creative process?

My process is internal. When I hear a character talking, I listen.

10) Do you have a writing ritual, routine or practice?

I do my best writing at night. I work all day and I stay up late writing. I don’t have any particular routine because characters are always in my head. I always hear them. It’s just a matter of finding the time to get what they’re saying down on paper.

11) What does your typical day look like?

I think my day looks like most people’s day. I have a job, so I work and put in my eight hours, and when I get off I take care of bizz on the home-front. I write at night for relaxation and because creating believable characters comes easy to me. I’m no longer a neglected or abused child, but even after all these years writing is like therapy to me.

12) Were you always a reader?

I’ve always read whenever I could get my hands on something. My mother, as deep as she was in her addiction, she had a love for books too, and that was one of the good things that she passed on to me. When I was growing up reading was my only escape from my reality. My mother actually eased up and let me be when she saw me reading. Maybe she respected the connection I had with words, who knows. But I used to steal magazines off the table in doctor’s offices and read other people’s newspapers when they left them on the train. I mean I just I ate up anything that had words printed on it. Words were sexy and attractive to my eyes.

13) What are some of your favorite books and authors?

There are just too many to name. But I like literary fiction, mysteries, and the classics best of all.

14) Do you listen to music when you write? What type of music do you listen to?

I love all music, so I switch things up depending on how I’m feeling and what I’m writing at the time. I listen to R&B, rap, house, old skool, and even classical music.

15) Have you ever struggled with fear, insecurity or rejection as a writer? If so, how did you deal with it?

I believe every writer goes through something, especially if they’re successful and good at what they do. I struggled a lot early on because I was sneaking and writing and hiding everything I wrote. I never expected anybody to like my stories and I didn’t know there were readers who were into what I was into. I was shocked when G-Spot: An Urban Erotic Tale was published and readers absolutely loved it. There was nothing on the shelves like G-Spot back in 2005 when it was published. G-Spot became an instant classic, and although you can find a lot of knock-off copycat stories based on G and Juicy today, back then they were original and unique characters and nobody had ever written a story anything like it before.

16) What gets you through hard times? How do you overcome adversity?

Prayer and laughter! I pray a lot and I laugh a lot. I don’t take myself too seriously, so I definitely don’t focus on adversity. I believe in the power of the universe. I try to treat people the right way and I surround myself with positive people who are going in my direction. Everybody else gets a smile and a wave as I pass them by.

17) Was there one thing that changed the course of your life?

Yep. Being rescued from my mother and taken in by my aunts. Those women didn’t just change my life, they saved it.

18) If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?

Too many things to list! But then again, maybe nothing. I like myself and I’m cool with where I am in this life. All of my mistakes have become life experiences, and I value each and every one of them.

19) Did you ever imagine becoming as successful as you are?

No, because I never set out to share my writing with the world. But I actually don’t think my literary successes are my greatest accomplishments. I think the powerful relationships that I build with other women, and the mentoring I do to help children and teenagers are more important than anything else. The writing accolades I get are fun, but it’s the real life work that I do face-to-face from my heart that means the most to me.

20) What do you want readers to take away from your books?

I’ve been crowned the QUEEN of Urban Erotica and the word QUEEN stands for Quality Urban Erotica Every Novel. When a reader closes one of my books I want them to feel like they’ve been on a helluva ride. I want them to recognize the quality writing, the detailed plots, the 3D characters, and the human emotions that my pen game invokes. My motto is #DemandQuality and I want my readers to value what I give them because I don’t short change or cheat them out of a dime. I give them their money’s worth. Because that’s what literary Queens do.

21) What inspires or motivates you?

I’m inspired by life itself because I know how short it is. I’m happy and I’m inspired by love. By children! By laughter! And definitely by sex!

22) What is your vision or dream?

My dream is to see young people, especially young ladies, embrace their power and strive for what they want in this world. I envision a world where my child can dare to dream and to create her own prosperity and happiness, regardless of what it is.

23) Do you have any hobbies?

 Most people don’t know I’m a belly dancer. I love moving my body and I find my hips and abs very sensual. Of course my abs ain’t what they used to be, but I can still wind it up!

24) What do you believe constitutes good writing? How does one perfect their craft?

I think good writing is careful writing. You perfect it by understanding the written language, developing your skills, studying the craft, understanding the concepts of literature, and being able to lay out a plot in a rational and believable manner. In short, you write with skill, but you write from your gut.

25) If you could change one thing in this pen game, what would it be?

I’m usually not one to put restrictions on people, but the pen game has become so polluted with trash that it’s hard to sort through the garbage heaps and find good writing these days. I think books should have to be sold without a cover. So many gullible people get caught up by the pretty images that it’s almost embarrassing. I’ve been presented with books that have the hottest artwork ever on the covers. I mean, sexy chicks, urban scenery, slick fonts, bold colors, the whole nine.

And then I open them up and start reading and I can’t believe my damn eyes. A misspelling every other word, a plot that makes no damn sense, or something that has already been written thirty other times in a hundred other books. Or, characters who all sound and act alike, and no real story being told at all. Just a bunch of drawn-out scenes with nothing happening. I think we should rip all the glamorous covers off and leave just the title and the author’s name. Let the book stand on that!

26) What do you like most about writing and what do you like least?

Most? I like plotting. I have a good feel for it. I like constructing plot twists that look like pretzels. Least? Editing!

27) Do your life experiences play into what you write about in your books?

They sure do. I write about things I’ve seen, things I’ve heard, and whether good and bad, I also write about things that I’ve experienced.

28) How did your awesome book, “G-Spot” come about?

 I grew up around a few girls just like Juicy and I decided I wanted to tell their stories. I started writing G-Spot after I witnessed something foul going down with a young girl who was close to me. I tried to school her, but at the time she just couldn’t hear me. So I wrote her story and let her read it. It opened her eyes and blew her mind. I’m happy to say that she’s a college graduate and an entrepreneur today.

 29) What’s next? Any new projects on the horizon?

Yes! I’m working on a hot project with artist Reem Raw and I’m loving the way our ink blends and our words flow together. It’s a serial street novel called EMPIRE STATE OF MINEZ and it has one of the slickest and most elaborate plot twists that I’ve ever written. It’s part street banga and part urban love story. I can guarantee that you’ll love it.

30) Lastly, what advice can you share from your own personal experiences to a novice writer?

My advice to young writers is to figure out why you’re in the game. If you’re only in the game for the quick money, and you’re kicking out shitty book after shitty little book with real pretty covers, then enjoy it while you can because it’s not gonna last forever. You can only fool people until they get up on you. Eventually your disrespect for the craft of writing will turn readers off and they’ll stop going in their pockets to throw good money away on your bad shit.

But if you’re writing books because you love this profession and telling stories is your passion, then keep right on doing what you’re doing, even if nobody buys a single one of your books. All words motivated by passion are good words, and your voice deserves to be heard!

Thank you so much, Noire.

NOIRE is editor-in-chief of, the Queen of Urban Erotica, the #1 Essence® bestselling author of Unzipped, Hittin’ the Bricks, G-Spot, Candy Licker, Thug-A-Licious, Baby Brother (with 50 Cent), Thong on Fire, Hood, novellas in Lifestyles of the Rich and Shameless and Maneater, and the editor of a collection of urban erotic quickies, From the Streets to the Sheets. She is also the author of the first urban erotic serial novel, G-Spot 2: The Seven Deadly Sins. Visit Noire online at, or follow her on Facebook and Twitter.