Don’t Go To Bed Angry: Stay Up and Fight by Deb & Ron DeArmond


Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Price: $14.99
Purchase: Amazon | CBD | BN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description

We’ve all been there. He doesn’t understand what she’s really upset about. He thinks she blows things out of proportion. Neither of you can agree on the right course of action. In every marriage, there is conflict. And with every conflict, there is a choice for resolution. Will you ignore the issue until it seemingly goes away? Or will you work together to find peace?

In Don’t Go to Bed Angry, Deb and Ron DeArmond give you permission to fight. Marriage is worth fighting for. Conflict isn’t the problem, after all; the real issue is how we deal with the conflict. Combining a healthy dose of personal experience with relationship-affirming biblical wisdom, Deb and Ron demonstrate how communication through conflict can lead to greater insight and understanding of thoughts, feelings, and perspectives that can safeguard–and even strengthen–your relationship. Immensely practical features including worksheets, discussion questions, callouts, and prayers make this a definitive go-to resource to help you start fighting–together–for your marriage.

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Review

Wow! I have read books on marriage, and I have to say, this book takes the cake. There is so much to like about it. Seriously. You would think for a short book, it wouldn’t contain so much relevant information, but it does and then some.

The main premise of this book is how to communicate in a marriage and tools on how to resolve conflict effectively. I honestly wish this book existed before I married my husband thirteen years ago. I pretty much did everything this book advises against.

I have gotten into conversations with friends about how there isn’t a guidebook on what to do when you get married. Here you have two people coming together, from different worlds, upbringings, and communication styles. You know the saying, the “honeymoon is over?” Well, when you start living with your spouse, stuff starts coming up and if you don’t know how to fight fairly, or resolve conflict, you are going to find yourself in a very precarious situation. Don’t God To Bed Angry can help as it is a guidebook on how to do marriage successfully.

So, for any of you who are thinking of getting married or are married, I highly, and I mean HIGHLY, recommend this book. It doesn’t matter how many years you have been married, or how many problems you have had, or even if you are at the brink of divorce, you need to get this book. The information contained in this book alone, if practiced and applied, can revolutionize and save your marriage. Guaranteed.

This is by far one of the best marriage books I have read in years. I give five stars, but if I could give it more, I would. I will be referring to this book and recommending it to everyone.

In conclusion, I want to thank authors, Deb and Ron DeArmond for sharing their lives by helping me and other married couples. I also want to thank Abingdon Press for publishing this gem of a book, and last but not least, my Litfuse Publicity Group family for sending me a complimentary copy of this book to review. Thank you, it truly blessed my life.

Deb DeArmond is an author, speaker, and coach with a focus on communication, relationships, and conflict resolution. Her writing explores marriage, parenting, in-law and extended family relationships. She is the author of “Related By Chance, Family By Choice” and “I Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last.” Deb is the founder of Living-Write, where she coaches aspiring authors. She’s monthly columnist and feature writer for Lifeway’s “Mature Living” Magazine, and has published more than 120 articles online and in print publications. Ron DeArmond has a hungry heart for the Word, and has studied the Bible for 45+ years. Ron’s call to serve men is evident in his previous ministry positions with Christian Men’s Network under Dr. Edwin Lewis Cole and Faithful Men Ministry. Ron is currently the Associate Pastor of men’s ministry at Catch the Fire/ DFW and has ministered around the world. The DeArmonds live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

NKJV Personal Size Study Bible

Paperback: 2400 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Price: $29.99
Purchase: Amazon | CBD | BN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description

The NKJV Study Bible, the most comprehensive study Bible available, now available in a handy personal size with words of Christ in red! The acclaimed NKJV Study Bible is the most complete study system for all who desire accurate study in God’s Word. The Second Edition includes more features to make it the best all-purpose study Bible. Using the trusted New King James Version, The NKJV Study Bible has “the mind of a scholar and the heart of a pastor.” Nelson’s skilled team of scholars has produced the system to reach for when study in God’s Word is the goal.

Features include:

  • NEW attractive new full-color page design
  • NEW stunning Bible-land photos and graphics
  • NEW in-text maps and charts
  • Full cross-references with textual notes
  • Word studies and indexes
  • Bible Times and Culture Notes
  • Book introductions, outlines, and timelines
  • Reader-friendly notes and articles ideal for extended study
  • Deluxe NKJV Concordance including proper names

Review

I happen to love Bibles, so I was curious to see what the NKJV Study Bible would offer, and was pleasantly surprised.

Other than the print being too small for my taste and it being on the bulky side, everything else about this particular bible is to my liking.

I love the color photographs showing the locations corresponding with the verses in connection with biblical history. The extensive cross referencing, exhaustive study notes, word studies and more. This bible is jam packed with helpful information, it’s amazing.

If you want to dig deeper in studying the Word of God, then the NKJV Study Bible is the one for you. I highly recommend it.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

Tainted No More by Novelist Blacc Topp

Publisher: BlaccStarr Media Group/ InkSlinger Publishing
Publication Date: November 27, 2015
ASIN: B018O2YHXG
Price: $13.50
Purchase: Amazon | BlaccStarr Media

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description

I am a King among peasants and a wolf among sheep……

With Jasmine locked away safely, Monica may be able to concentrate on the pursuit and capture of King Kochese. If there was one thing that the DEA and FBI had taught Agent Monica Deitrich , it was to check everyone and trust no one. Between Millicent and Noisy Boy they keep her busy and content, that is, until a new love interest threatens to tear down everything that she’s built.

A series of gruesome murders are happening simultaneously, spanning from the east coast to the Midwest and they have Jasmine and King’s signature style written all over them. Monica can feel it in her gut that King is behind the murders, but Jasmine is tucked away in a government asylum awaiting trial.

The body count is rising and all roads lead to King Kochese, but how can Monica track a ghost? How can she corner a ghost with unlimited resources and connections, capable of ruining not only her career, but her life with a snap of his cold blooded and calloused fingers!

Review

Tainted No More is the third installment of Novelist Blacc Topp’s Tainted series. If you love horror, thrillers and suspense, with creative plot twists, then this series is definitely for you.

I have read all of Novelist Blacc Topp’s books and he doesn’t disappoint. He is a talented writer who knows how to weave a story and take you on a rollercoaster ride in your imagination.

What I took away from this book, or the central theme for me was the affects of childhood abuse and how it manifests or plays out if it’s left untreated.

I must confess that I don’t typically read this genre. The only reason why I read the Tainted series is because I love Novelist Blacc Topp’s writing style. I happen to like how he develops his stories and characters. He always keeps you guessing, leaves you in suspense and/or surprises you.

I rated Tainted No More five stars for the uniqueness of the story, his writing style, pacing and character development.

Novelist Blacc Topp was born to a father that was a gangster turned preacher and a mother that was a singer, artist, and scholar. He was born into a family of preachers, pimps, prostitutes, drug dealers, dope fiends, and squares. Blacc Topp was raised on the streets of South Dallas, Texas. After the death of his father, feeling as though he had nowhere to turn he turned to the gang. The neighborhood gang, Dixon Circle 357um Gangsta Crips is where he would learn to become ruthless and unfeeling. Although he was deep in the gang and game, he continued his studies for fear that his mother would make him move to Florida.

By the age nineteen he had been shot three times and was on his way to the Texas Department of Corrections with a forty year prison sentence for distribution of narcotics. While inside he lost his youngest sister to the violence of drugs in 1996. After serving seven years, he was granted parole (mainly due to his mother’s efforts). He used the education that he obtained inside to land a job at a top engineering firm in Texas. He used his love of word play to push himself to local fame on the hip-hop scene in Texas and Florida but, he would lose his mother to cancer in 2006, only to lose his oldest sister to cancer in 2008 and he knew something had to change. He began to chronicle his life, his mishaps and his capers which gave birth to The Hustle Chronicles, his debut novel and soundtrack of the same name.

You can follow him at: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell


Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
ISBN-10: 0718037626
ISBN-13: 978-0718037628
Price: $15.99
Purchase: Amazon | BN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description

“Feathers—no matter what size or shape or color—are all the same, if you think about them. They’re soft. Delicate. But the secret thing about feathers is . . . they are very strong.”

In the pre-Katrina glow of New Orleans, Amanda Salassi is anxious about chaperoning her daughter’s sixth-grade field trip to the Big Easy during Halloween. And then her worst fears come true. Her daughter’s best friend, Sarah, disappears amid the magic and revelry—gone, without a trace.

Unable to cope with her guilt, Amanda’s daughter sinks into depression. And Amanda’s husband turns destructive as he watches his family succumb to grief. Before long, Amanda’s whole world has collapsed.

Amanda knows she has to save herself before it’s too late. As she continues to search for Sarah, she embarks on a personal journey, seeking hope and purpose in the wake of so much tragedy and loss.

Set amidst the murky parishes of rural Louisiana and told through the eyes of two women who confront the darkest corners of humanity with quiet and unbreakable faith, The Feathered Bone is Julie Cantrell’s master portrait of love in a fallen world.

Review

The Feathered Bone is a fictional account on human trafficking and its aftermath. The story centers around Sarah, who was abducted on a school field trip in New Orleans on Amanda’s watch. The premise of the book surrounds Sarah’s sudden disappearance and its effect on everyone, predominantly Amanda and Ellie, who was Sarah’s best friend.

Instead of Amanda getting the help and support of her husband Carl, she received the complete opposite. The irony is Amanda was a counselor for victims of domestic violence, yet she herself was one. Carl was unable to see beyond himself and placed the blame on Amanda for anything and everything. He was abusive, and eventually left her for a younger woman, when she and their daughter Ellie needed him the most. This pushed Ellie’s depression further, until yet another tragedy ensued, leaving Amanda shattered and hopeless.

The Feathered Bone is a sad, but redemptive story about faith, hope, love and forgiveness.

Personally, I had a difficult time reading this book. One, because it was depressing and two, certain parts of it dragged for me. However, I still rated it five stars based on its original content and writing.

Julie Cantrell is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Into the Free, the 2013 Christy Award winning Book of the Year and recipient of the Mississippi Library Association’s Fiction Award. Cantrell has served as editor-in-chief of the Southern Literary Review and is a recipient of the Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Fellowship. Her second novel, When Mountains Move, won the 2014 Carol Award for Historical Fiction and, like her debut, was selected for several Top Reads lists. Visit her online at juliecantrell.wordpress.com, Facebook: juliecantrellauthor, and Twitter: JulieCantrell.

Author Interview: Greg Hogben

I had the fortune of connecting with this brilliant author on Twitter several months ago. I am so glad, because I enjoyed reading and reviewing his thought provoking book, My Daughter’s Army. It is one of those books that when you finish, you won’t see things the same way. I learned a great deal from reading his book. It is a privilege to introduce to you, Greg Hogben.

1) Where did you grow up?

I grew up on the South Coast of England in a county called Sussex south of London.

2) What was your childhood like?

It was a typical British childhood for that area of the country. We had the South Downs to explore and the seaside town where I grew up was always busy in the summer. It wasn’t until I traveled that I appreciated how much we had just by growing up where I did.

3) What was the first book you ever read?

Hmmm, that’s a tough one. The story I most clearly remember reading from beginning to end is Charlotte’s Web.

4) When did you discover you were a writer?

To be honest, I have only recently come to consider myself a writer. Even though I’ve been fortunate enough to have two books published, the title ‘writer’ still sounds odd to me. I still get a kick out of being described as an author.

5) Who are some of your favorite authors?

I loved the Harry Potter books, but The Casual Vacancy is perhaps my favorite JK Rowling book. She nailed the class system in Britain exactly right, to the point I could change any given character’s name with someone I know and her description would be perfect.

6) What are some of your favorite books?

I recently enjoyed the the Monstrumologist trilogy by Rick Yancey. I’m also a huge fan of Stephen Fry and anything he writes. His humour, honesty, and his wit never ceases to impress me.

7) What specific things did you do to perfect your writing?

I don’t think I did any one particular thing. Like most people I tend to write, re-write, edit, and edit again until it feels like it fits. The problem with writing a book is that you become so involved in it that sometimes you become blind to what someone who is reading the story for the first time will catch instantly, such as holes in the plot, going off on a tangent, or repetitive language. I relied heavily on friends and family to give me the harsh truth. I felt some personal pressure with this book. The hardest part of writing My Daughter’s Army was to try and do justice to the real-world stories of the adversity women face.

8) When did you begin blogging for the Huffington Post?

About three years ago. I wish I could write more, but the past two years have been taken up with research for the book.

9) How did you get involved in LGBT, human and women’s rights issues?

I have always been involved with LGBT rights. As a gay man, I have lived under the laws enforced by the government (both in the UK and the USA) and have been affected first-hand by the results of inequality. Many of the anti-gay groups protested that Marriage Equality was redefining traditional marriage or that their religious freedom was somehow put at risk . What many opponents failed to talk about was how the inequality affected gay people’s pensions, healthcare insurance, immigration status, taxes, adoption/parenting rights, etc. And still, in 2016, there is a ridiculous number of states in America where business owners STILL legally can fire someone for being gay. It was this kind of injustice that led me to see the world differently. You begin to notice how people are treated, how their ‘worth’ is quantified. The more you look for it, the more immediately apparent it becomes. That’s what led me to investigate women’s rights issues.

10) Was there a particular incident that provoked you in becoming an advocate?

About 9 nears ago I read a story of a lesbian couple who were on the first day of their cruise out of Miami. One had been playing with their kids on board before they departed when she suffered an aneurysm and was rushed to hospital. Because their relationship was not recognized by law the hospital forced her partner of 18 years to remain in the waiting room and wouldn’t allow any input with regard to her healthcare.  Though her entire immediate family were just feet away, she died alone because of the hospital’s bureaucracy and the law in Florida. I remember how angry and frustrated I was that this couple’s last moments together were stolen from them.

11) What has your experience been thus far as an advocate?

It has been very rewarding. On the side of LGBT rights, it has been amazing to see how much things have changed in just the past three years. The changing laws bring hope that full equality is on the horizon. On the side of women’s rights, it is more frustrating. There is still an alarming number of women around the world who are oppressed or are living in modern slavery. The problem is so huge, yet so many people don’t seem to know about it. The statistics on human trafficking, honor killings, acid attacks, and rape are overwhelming. But with more awareness and pressure, especially from the West, hopefully things will begin to change for the better. Women in Saudi Arabia were able to vote (and run for office) for the first time this year. Seventeen women were elected to public office. It’s this kind of change, even if it’s just the first step, that is needed in every region of the world.

12) Did you always want to be an advocate for a cause?

I have learned that raising awareness is the first step to change. That’s what I want my role to be through my book and through social media. There are thousands who maybe don’t see themselves as active advocates, but the truth is raising awareness is a form of advocacy. The support of an issue, and a voice added to the crowd will and does make a difference. I became an advocate for women’s rights because I discovered and investigated the issues.

13) What are some of the principle things you’ve learned in doing this work?

The world can be a terrible place, and the horrific examples of what man is capable of are far too numerous. It’s enough for anyone to despair and shutdown. But at the same time, you can see people desperately trying to make a change and it restores your faith in humanity — whether it’s volunteers who give their time, professionals who donate their skills, or people who give whatever they can afford to help someone they don’t know.

14) What inspired you to write your second book, My Daughter’s Army?

The inspiration came from the desperation of LGBT kids committing suicide because their families, church, and even local politicians were telling them ‘God hates gays’. Many were (and, sadly, still are) being thrown out by their parents and in the past many of those kids were turned away from homeless shelters if they confessed they were gay. I am not a religious man, so I can only imagine how that must affect anyone’s faith. So I wanted to write an alternative to everything they’d heard all those years. What if God didn’t hate gay people? What if he trusted a gay man to raise his daughter? That was the original concept. It was through researching what issues I thought a modern day female messiah would preach that the book became about more than challenging the concept of a few out-of-context verses from the Bible, and more about the power people have when they don’t rely just on prayer.

15) Did you experience the things you wrote about?

I have experienced my fair share of homophobia. Living in central Washington DC during the years that led up to marriage equality there weren’t many weekends that you didn’t see some kind of demonstration or protest on the National Mall. It’s impossible not to take it personally when people are holding a picture of two nooses with the caption ‘the solution to gay marriage’.  In my twenties I was lucky enough to travel a great deal of the world from Europe, to the Middle East, Asia and Australia. I have seen firsthand how women are oppressed around the world. Being young, I acknowledged it, but didn’t grasp it the way I do now. With the advent of social media you can read people’s voices and get a better sense of what that kind of oppression means and leads to.

16) What do you believe is needed to see change?

Awareness. That is first and foremost.

17) Lastly, what advice would you give to anyone starting out as a writer?

If you are passionate about writing, don’t give up. If you have a story you feel needs to be told, tell it. Writing the first draft of a novel is an incredible achievement in itself, something millions fail at.  Celebrate it! There are a thousand websites telling you how to write, what to write, that it’s hard to write good characters, and nearly impossible to get published. Stay away from them. And finally, many of the best novels come from indie publishers. Not only are they passionate about books, they are incredibly supportive, which is priceless.

Greg Hogben is a British author based in Washington DC. Greg is a human rights advocate with a particular focus on raising awareness of worldwide women’s rights and LGBT equality. Follow him on Twitter and his blog with The Huffington Post.

Interview with Qiana Drennen

I have watched Qiana for almost a year now, and I love the work she is doing. She not only has the hottest online and in-person book club today, but she also advocates to raise money to help struggling mothers, and the elderly. She is currently working on purchasing bottled water for those affected by the recent water crisis in Flint, Michigan. She is an amazing lady. It is with pleasure to introduce to you, Qiana Drennen.

1) Were you born and raised in Ohio?

Yes, I born and raised in Columbus, Ohio. I actually still live in the house I grew up in. My parents purchased it when I was four years old.

2) What was your childhood like?

Wonderful. I come from a two parent home with loving parents. My father owned his own business and my mother was a stay at home mom. My parents were not only parents to me and my six siblings, but to anyone else that we brought around. It was nothing for me to come home to see one of my (or my siblings) friends at my house eating or just hanging out.

3) When did you begin reading?

I began reading when I was in the fourth grade. My school librarian, Mrs. Hunt put the book in my hand after my teacher read it to the class.

4) Do you remember the first book you ever read? If so, what was it?

Not only do I remember the first book, but I still own a copy and read it every year. Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor.

5) Who are some of your favorite authors and why?

My all-time favorite will always be the late great Jackie Collins. No one can tell a story like her. Her writing was raw, gritty and in your face. I’m getting teary eyed just thinking about how great she was and why her passing is such a huge loss to the entire literary world.

Fabiola Joseph is another. Some people may think that I’m being bias because she’s not only an author but a dear friend of mine. But even before we became friends I would tell everyone that she’s the most versatile writer in the game. Nothing is never the same with her. Everything she writes is completely different. And now that she’s signed to a major, the world will get to see what I already knew.

6) What are some of your all-time favorite books?

Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry is my all-time favorite, and Chances by Jackie Collins

7) When did you begin DRMRAB? What propelled you to start it?

DRMRAB actually started in 2013. But I didn’t really put any effort into it. It had became just a place to drop links. However, in December 2014, Fabiola convinced me to revamp the website and put more into. And I did. It was some of the best advice I’ve gotten. I’m so thankful for her pushing me to do it because it has been a huge success.

8) What is your vision for DRMRAB?

I would love for DRMRAB to go global. It’s not only a Facebook club, I also have in-person chapters here in Columbus, DMV, and New York City. So I know it’s possible.

9) What do you believe sets your book club apart from any other?

Honestly, I think it’s the members . Our members are RAW, they will not sugar coat anything. Also, I think it’s the fact that we actually discuss books. Most book clubs don’t anymore. We host at least six book discussions a month, sometimes more.

Last, but not least, my admins. Tyresha Tyler and Jocelyn Boffman have been there with me from day one. I will forever be grateful to those two ladies. Also, my other admins Tonya Woodfolk, who I handpicked when I decided to revamp and is a big part of the way the group has turned around. Lenika Winfield and Kia who just came on board just a couple of months ago, but their presence has already made a difference. Fabiola Joseph also. She helps me so much behind the scenes, and I really appreciate her.

10) Lastly, with the amount of books you’ve read, do you see yourself penning a book any time soon?

Ha ha ha. I’m asked this a lot. I’ve started writing a novel maybe three years ago, but it’s not in my heart to write. I see myself more as a behind the scenes type of person. Or maybe even a Oprah style talk show that caters to Afro American authors.

BIO: Qiana Drennen was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio. She is the mother of six children and one granddaughter. She holds a business degree, and a certification in Chemical Dependency.

Qiana collects paperback books and is a proud owner of over 700 paperback books. Her favorite quote is from Mark Twain, “An open mind leaves a chance for someone to drop a worthwhile thought in it.”

When she is not reading, you can find her traveling from city to city attending different book events all over the country.

In 2013, she broke away from one book club and with the help of others, formed ‘Don’t Read Me, Read A Book!‘ (the reading room). In 2015, Ms. Drennen turned the Facebook club into in-person chapters which meets on a monthly basis. In the future, she would like to have her own talk show that caters to authors, and travel to do interviews with them.

You can find Qiana Drennen on DRMRABFacebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Author Interview: Kisha Green

Kisha and I connected on Facebook and then finally met at the Black Pack Party in Harlem last May. I loved her genuine, sweet and kind spirit. I not only am grateful to call her my colleague, but also my friend. I have the utmost respect for her and all that she contributes to the publishing industry. It’s with great pleasure to introduce to you, the multi-talented, Kisha Green.

1) Were you born and raised in New Jersey?

Yes, I was born in New Jersey and at the age of two, I moved to Richmond, VA with my mom only to return at age eleven after my grandmother died and have been in New Jersey since.

2) When did you start being interested in reading and writing?

I have always been an avid reader thanks to my mom. As an adolescent I enjoyed books by Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary and then graduated to the Babysitter’s Club series and then once in high school, I started reading books by VC Andrews, Mary Higgins Clark, Jackie Collins and Stephen King.

3) Did anyone in your life influence or encourage you to read or write?

My mom. I remember watching my mom come home from work, change out of her nurse uniform, cook dinner, eat and spend the rest of the evening reading. This was a daily ritual.

4) Do you remember the first book you read? What was it?

Hmmm…It was story about a mouse and a motorcycle but I cannot think of the title.

5) Who are some of your favorite authors and books?

Jackie Collins is my favorite author. Her writing is exciting and outside the box and I get swept away in her words, she was a creative story teller. May she rest in peace.

6) Did you read any books that helped you in writing?

Some creative writing books and techniques about showing versus telling.

7) When was the pivotal moment when you decided to pursue your dreams?

Even though I had self-published my first book in 2007, it was not until 2011 that I decided that I wanted to do promotions and literary consultations as well as assist authors.

8) Were you afraid? If so, how did you overcome your fears?

I was initially afraid but I told myself failure was not an option and took a leap of faith.

9) When did you start your own business and what are all the things you offer in regards to your business?

In 2006 DivaBooksInc was formed but it wasn’t until 2011 that I really took it serious and gave it my all. I wanted to provide quality services to authors and publishers at reasonable rates.

10) When did you decide to write your first book?

In 1999, I read Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree and a year later I said I should write a book and tried to but shelved the idea and then picked it up again only to postpone it after my mom dying. Then going through an emotional rollercoaster of feelings regarding my writing a book to finally saying I was going to do it in 2006.

11) What did you learn from the process?

I learned that hard work and patience pay off but most importantly you must remain consistent.

12) How many books have you written in total?

I have written three full length novels, participated in four anthologies and one poetry book. I am currently working on my fifth anthology that is a collection of erotica stories.

13) Which one was the hardest to write and why?

The hardest one was Dear Mommy which was my third book that tells my story of dealing with the death of my mom to a brain tumor. I self-published it through a print on demand back in 2008 and since then took the book down and have been working on it off and on to release again through my own publishing company.

14) Where do your ideas come from?

Real life experiences of myself, friends and family and IDTV.

15) What is your writing routine or process?

I write notes all the time and then sit down attempt to turn them into stores. I write at the most random times and can be anywhere. I write the best with my laptop and music playing.

16) How did you hone your craft?

Reading books.

17) You where many hats… between writing your own books, publishing other talent, promoting other talent, your talk show and blog… how do you manage and balance it all?

The grace of God. I wear many hats and equally enjoy them all.

18) How long did it take you to build your business?

Lol! I am still building. This is a full time job and I cannot stop especially when I am trying to create a legacy for my children.

19) What’s next for Kisha Green?

This year I am entering the arena of publishing others and have signed two very talented authors that will be making their debut with DivaBooksInc this year and I am very excited about this new chapter in my life as well as helping these writers turn their literary dreams into published realities. I will take everything that I have learned from being a literary consultant, reviewer, radio show hostess, promoter, blogger and virtual assistant, and pour that into my authors while never giving up.

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

Do not give up! Do not worry about any one telling you no, when you can create your own YES!

Kisha Green is no stranger to the literary world. She is the owner of DivaBooksInc, the author of several titles including the hit novel, And Even If I Did, literary consultant and promoter.

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

As a firm believer in “each one, teach one,” Green launched Literary Jewels in 2011, an online resource for aspiring writers interested in self-publishing. Green has also participated in numerous panel discussions on the topic of publishing. Currently Green resides in New Jersey and is a contributing writer for a number of sites, virtual assistant and promoter for various authors and is the recipient of the 2014 Literary Excellence Award presented by Black Pearls Magazine.

You can follow her on Divabooksinc, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Guest Post: What Makes A Good Story? by Andi Cumbo-Floyd

I met Andi Cumbo-Floyd on Twitter in 2012, and then had the pleasure of rooming with her at the Quitter Conference in Nashville. She is an amazing woman who has achieved her dreams by the help and grace of God. Not only is she a talented writer, editor, teacher, mentor and coach, she’s a farmer too. Her new book, Steele Secrets is releasing on February 9th. Be sure to pre-order your copy on here or her website. I was blessed to interview her back in 2013 (you can read the interview here). Today she visits again and writes about what makes a good story.

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I read a lot of novels. . . . from “literary” fiction to Young Adult fiction to cozy mysteries – I love a good story, and I have no desire to be picky about the labels I choose my reading from. A good story is as good story is a good story.

Admittedly, each of us is going to have our own definition of what makes something a good story. Some of us like setting to be prominent with the streets and trees, time period and geography guiding us to deeper understanding of the storyline. Others prefer characters who are likeable, who take risks, who struggle openly on the page. Book preferences are like shoe preferences – there’s no right and wrong, just taste.

But I do think some characteristics are universal across all the good novels we read.

  1. Not the vampire ones (necessarily) but something that could be lost. . . from a relationship to innocence to treasure to life itself. If the characters can’t be a risk to lose something, then we probably aren’t going to care.
  2. Recognizable Experience. Many of us love to share this quote from Shadowlands, the film about C.S. Lewis – “We read to know we’re not alone.” That’s totally true. We want to see ourselves on the page.
  3. New Experience. The flipside of reading to find ourselves is the fact that we read to learn. We learn about different cultures, different situations, different time periods. A good book can help us relate to the characters even as we gain new perspectives.
  4. Appropriate Pacing. A novel can move really quickly or very slowly, and both are great. But the pacing has to be fitting for the story itself. A story of a lifelong friendship will probably be paced more slowly, but a suspense thriller will probably move quickly. . . the irony is that a long timescape often has a slower pace, and a shorter timeframe moves more quickly.
  5. Consistency and Clarity. The bottom line is that no matter what sort of novel, it should be consistent within itself. We’ve all read novels where the pace or setting or point of view change for no clear reason. . . those are the novels we usually put down.

So if you prefer a legal thriller or a psychological exploration, a supernatural travail or a basic romance, the basics of a good novel are the same. . . it needs to keep you invested, engage your emotions, and insure that you are never lost within the story.

I’m off . . . I have a vampire/werewolf mystery to finish.

What kind of novels do you love? What makes a good novel for you?

Andi Cumbo-Floyd is a writer, editor, and farmer, who lives at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains with her husband, four dogs, four cats, six goats, and twenty-three chickens.  Her new novel Steele Secrets comes out on February 9. You can connect with Andi at her website –andilit.com, or on Facebook TwitterLinkedIn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dutch by Kwame Teague

Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
ISBN-10: 0446551538
ISBN-13: 978-0446551533
Price: $7.99
Purchase: Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description

It is the urban-lit classic that breaks all the rules. It introduces a player who will use any means necessary to dominate the streets-and beyond.

There isn’t an angle he can’t work or a woman he can’t seduce. And it’s taken Bernard James, Jr. aka Dutch, no time at all to turn an African drug lord’s stolen heroin business into the East Coast’s most feared drug empire. And there’s no shortage of enemies vowing to take him down, including a vengeful Mafia heir, an ambitious DA and a conscience-stricken former friend. But none of his enemies can stop what they can’t see. And Dutch has everyone right where he wants them in the end. With his life on the line, and the face of the enemy in everyone he sees, Dutch plays the game and scores a winning hand in the face of all that betrayed him. But, there is one woman Dutch just can’t resist who will shake his ice-cold control to its core. And it will be the one betrayal that he never sees coming that will put more than he ever imagined at risk.

Review

Dutch by Kwame Teague is a street classic. The main protagonist, Bernard James, goes by the name of Dutch, moves up the ranks by first stealing cars with his crew. He gets caught and thrown in jail on his first major heist at the port, and swears to never return to prison again. He devises a plan with his crew to go after a major kingpin who everyone feared, that’s until Dutch discovers his weak link and kills him.

After he kills him, he pays a visit to the Italian mafia, and presents them with a surprise. The leader is convinced Dutch is ruthless, and decides to reluctantly agree to his proposition of working in collaboration with him. It was then that Dutch becomes the most feared man on the streets. Unfortunately, this didn’t last for long because many were not happy with the arrangement, and that’s when things took a drastic turn for the worst. The next thing Dutch knew he was on trial for crimes he allegedly committed.

Kwame Teague is a creative genius and gifted story teller. This book read like a movie. To me, Dutch is the perfect gangster. All the characters were real, and the way the story was written kept you in suspense. The ending was shocking as it was explosive. 

If you want to get your first taste of urban/street literature, I highly recommend this book.

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 always hard at work on his next novel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Daughter’s Army by Greg Hogben

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: DSP Publications
ISBN-10: 1634761928
ISBN-13: 978-1634761925
Price: $17.99
Purchase: Amazon | BN | DSP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description

Has a gay man been chosen to raise the Daughter of God? Or is Adam Goodwin’s adopted daughter plagued by a benevolent delusion that threatens to undermine her global campaign for women’s rights?

From the moment Adam Goodwin discovered baby Sera abandoned in Grand Central Station, they shared an unexplainable bond. Sera grows into a compassionate and charismatic young woman, despite Adam’s worries that she may have difficulty distinguishing fantasy from reality. Does her hypersensitivity to the suffering of others show compassion―or troubling obsession?

Adam channels Sera’s growing fixation on gender inequality into uniting her army of social media followers to battle the worldwide oppression of women. But the encouragement he hoped would alleviate the symptoms of a possible mental illness only appear to make matters worse. The stress and success of her crusade seem to have brought on a mental break when she confides that she believes she is the female Messiah, sent to redress the injustices women face.

With enemies of her cause multiplying, Adam must protect Sera from the threats they pose―and from the threat she may pose to herself.

Review

The story begins with Adam Goodwin grieving over the loss of his companion, Michael, and then finding an abandoned baby in Grand Central station.

The baby was handed over to the authorities. But Adam couldn’t stop thinking about her, and wondered if she was ok. Being he’s an attorney, he did a little investigating and found her. He winds up adopting her and names her, Sera. He raises her as a single parent with the assistance of his brother Aaron, and three women who live in his building.

Based on peculiar and unusual occurrences surrounding Sera, Adam became concerned she may be delusional, especially when she continues to speak of her friend, Sophia, whom he deems as fictitious or imaginary.

After she graduates high school, she decides to take a trip around the world with her three friends. When she returns however, she doesn’t look herself. She had lost a lot of weight, and appeared frail, drained and exhausted. It all makes sense once she begins telling her father and uncle the types of things she and her friends experienced.

After witnessing all that she had, she felt compelled to do something about it. She wanted to return, but her father suggested she start a blog instead. Her uncle Aaron helped set up the blog, and then she began writing the dramatic stories of the women she met. Little did any of them know, it would start a movement and result in thousands of young women following her on social media.

However, things took a dramatic turn once she confessed she was the Daughter of God.

Greg Hogben is a brilliant writer and story teller. My Daughter’s Army didn’t read like fiction for me. It carries a profound message and touches on serious issues. It opened my eyes to the tragic realities occurring worldwide.

I highly recommend My Daughter’s Army and believe it’s an important book that should be read by everyone.

Greg Hogben is a British author based in Washington DC. Greg is a human rights advocate with a particular focus on raising awareness of worldwide women’s rights and LGBT equality. Follow him on Twitter and his blog with The Huffington Post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author Interview: Kaylie Jones

I had the pleasure of meeting Kaylie Jones at the Brooklyn Book Festival last September. I attended a panel where she, Terry McMillan and Dennis Lehane discussed their latest books. (You can listen to the discussion here.) I immediately connected with her. As you will see for yourself, she is not only a gifted and brilliant writer, but an intelligent, interesting, lovely and beautiful person. I am blessed, privileged and honored to introduce to you, the extraordinary Kaylie Jones.

1) When did you decide you wanted to write?

When I was eight I started to write a novel in a school notebook. It was about a girl who runs away from home with her talking bear. I showed it to my father, who was very encouraging. He didn’t correct anything or give me advice, he just told me to keep going. I soon gave up, of course. He died when I was sixteen, a blow from which I will never fully recover. Soon after, I went off to college, completely directionless. The literary critics were very hard on my father and I felt I needed to understand where he stood in the canon of American letters, so I started to pursue the study of literature. I had a comp 101 professor, the writer Daniel Stern, who pulled me out of the class and told me he would work with me privately because I showed great promise. I was stunned; I didn’t believe him, but I applied myself to improving my writing. Really, all my stories were memoir in the guise of fiction. It wasn’t until my Junior year, when I was studying Tolstoy’s War and Peace, that I had a moment of enlightenment, a spiritual awakening, you might say. I was reading the death of Prince Andrew and realized that if a writer who’d lived more than one hundred years before me, with whom I shared no cultural experience, could write about the process of death and dying in a way that rescued me from my own grief, I thought – okay, this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to try to be a writer.

2) Was there anyone in your life who encouraged you?

While my father was very sick and unable to leave the house in the winter of 1976-77, we read books together. That was one of the highlights of my last year with him. We read Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily, Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls and A Farewell to Arms. We read Bonjour Tristesseby Francoise Sagan, and The Wanderer, by Alain-Fournier, his favorite French novel. He did not go into explaining the authors’ stylistic choices; he liked to discuss the characters’ choices and actions, as if they were real people who were making the decisions for themselves. We also read the poems of Edna Saint Vincent Millay and Emily Dickinson, with whom he was a little in love, I think. These writers helped shaped me not just as a writer, but I believe they shaped my moral backbone and helped me to stay on some kind of moral path after my father was gone and no longer there to advise me.

I had fantastic writing teachers along the way. I often think of them as sages holding up lanterns along a dark path. In college, Daniel Stern was my first mentor. Later, I got into a very small and kind of elite writing workshop with a professor named Jack Paton, who was a veteran of WWII. He took issue with my father’s profanity and overuse of adjectives and adverbs. We would fight about it all the time! But I loved Jack, and he taught me to control my style, how to be precise and get my sentences down to their fighting weight. Later, I went to graduate school at Columbia, where I got my MFA. I studied with Richard Price, Edmund White, and Russell Banks. Can you imagine that good fortune? They were tough as nails, and I learned to listen to their criticism and advice.

Richard Price gave me a thirty book reading list one summer, telling me that I was “too immersed in the classics.” He wanted me to read what he called “down and dirty” modern fiction. So on that list were John Reechy’s City of Night, Selby’s Last Exit to Brooklyn, Jim Carroll’s The Basketball Diaries, all of Toni Morrison’s works – many of the books that shaped him as one of our most important modern writers.

3) How did The Anger Meridian come about?

The second time my mother was hospitalized for alcoholism my daughter was starting first grade in a new school. We spent every free minute at New York Hospital. My mother would stare me down and yell at me as if I were somehow to blame for her condition. Everyone on the floor, including my daughter, heard her calling me the most awful names. My mother had a small heart attack while she was there, and they moved her to intensive care. I watched the heart monitor go up and down, up and down, and just kept praying for it to flatline. For her to die now, with no more pain. But she survived, and the horror went on for another four years. I often asked myself, “What would it take, what would be the last straw, that would push a daughter to kill her mother?”

I discussed this, philosophically, with my daughter, the way my father used to discuss characters with me. “I want to write a book about a woman who is pushed so far by her mother that she kills her, but it’s in a moment of passion, of rage.” My daughter, who was about seven at this point, offered advice.

That following February, we were standing on the edge of a veranda of a big house overlooking a cliff in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where I was teaching a writing workshop with Beverly Donofrio, when my daughter said, “I know what you’re thinking. This is the perfect place for your character to push her mother off the cliff.” That was exactly what I was thinking and it was the beginning of the novel. But as the novel progressed, I became less and less sure that Merryn, my character, would be capable of pushing her mother off the cliff. So that is what the book is really about. What would be so awful that she’d find herself capable of such an act? Did she do it? Could she? Would she?

4) Bibi is an amazing character, how did she come to you?

Bibi, the mother in the novel, is based on several women I knew growing up, including my own mother. Educated women who grew up in luxury and without a want in the world – beautiful, admired, adored by their husbands, friends, and children. Usually they did not have careers, and perhaps that is where their feelings of insecurity, anger, and restlessness came from. They were women to whom no one ever said no. This is a little bit like being a movie star, where a person becomes so famous that no one will contradict her. In a situation like this, where a person is so insulated by her own family and her money, that the real world is only a vague scrim in the distance, her children often become her hostages. That is what I was aiming to describe: a 40 year old daughter who suddenly finds herself in actual fact stuck, held hostage, penniless, and at her mother’s mercy. That is the dynamic that drives the novel. The added dimension is that Merryn, the daughter, has her own 9 year-old daughter, Tenney, whom she adores, and whom she wants to protect and honor. So it’s a constant battle of wills between feeling like she has to honor her cruel and narcissistic mother, or honor her own child.

5) What is your writing or creative process?

Usually an idea for a book comes to me and I will attempt to plant that kernel. Then I water it and give it light and wait to see if it will grow. I’ve had many ideas for novels that never took root. It takes me about a year of thinking before I open a notebook and start to take notes. Then I start thinking about the idea of sitting down and opening a blank document on my desktop. This is the hardest part. My old friend the author Lucy Rosenthal called this “page fright.”

Then, hopefully, I start to write.

6) What are some of your favorite books or authors?

I still return to Tolstoy over and over again for style and form. No one shows characters’ feelings better, especially characters who are unaware of what they are feeling; at least, the reader becomes aware of their feelings before they do themselves. This is very hard to pull off.

One of my favorite novels is Pale Horse, Pale Rider, by Katherine Anne Porter. I wish more people still read her work. I go to her for courage. Often I’ll turn to Flannery O’Connor’s short stories for technique and precision. I especially love O’Connor’s imagery and the way she anthropomorphizes objects in her descriptions. I love that she has such despicable characters that are still fascinating. John Cheever still inspires me and helps me to hone my craft.

I fear our literature has become too obvious – white hat/black hat for the good guy and the bad guy. If only life were so simple!

Recently I took Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder with me to China while I was studying Kung Fu with Shaolin monks. I love her writing. She kept me company as I struggled to keep up with the youngsters in the Shaolin school. I think she is a very important American writer.

7) Is a writer born or made?

My friend Susan Cheever, John Cheever’s daughter, said something to me once that really stayed with me. She said, “Face it, we’re circus folk.” Meaning, if you’re raised in the circus, you learn to be a circus performer. If your mom rode elephants, you learned to ride elephants. I believe this is true for the children of writers.

I’d say most serious writers were children who felt a great loneliness and isolation, and found solace, friends, in books. The next step is giving back, writing to reach out and communicate with others who may feel the same way. This is probably a romantic notion, but I have always thought of literature as my higher power. The thing that pulled me from my own pit of despair and chaos.

8) What did you personally do to perfect your craft?

I never stop reading, studying sentences, studying writers. In an interview John Irving once said that he was never able to read for pleasure again once he became a writer, because he was constantly trying to figure out how the writer did something in the book, something technically spectacular. This made me laugh because I do the same thing.

One of my former students recently discovered Cormac McCarthy. I get texts and emails from him almost daily, quoting Cormac McCarthy and asking my opinion on how in the hell did McCarthy do this or that? Again, I laugh. This is how real writers think. Someone who tries to take the sentences apart to understand how the author did it. Which, of course, takes the element of magic, of unconscious inspiration, out of the equation. And that’s the part we can’t really account for. What my dad used to call the 10% magic part.

9) What do you like the most and the least about writing a book?

I like when I feel a chapter or a short story or essay is finished. I can look back happily and say, “Well, that is good work.”

I hate a blank page. That feeling of heart palpitations and sweaty palms as I sit down to start. What I hate almost as much as that is my inner censor/critic, who tells me I have no right to write, and that I’m a vain and egotistical person to think I have the right to sit down and express myself. It’s taken me years to silence that voice, and bring it to the fore only in the final editing process.

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

I think learning when to silence that inner censor is a crucial part of being able to be creative. When to bring that critic out and when to keep him/her locked away. It is very easy to become discouraged as a writer.

One of the most important aspects of becoming a writer is finding a supportive community. Whether this is in an MFA program or among other like-minded writers, I think a writing community is crucial. I don’t mean a wife, husband, brother, sister, or best friend who says, “This is awesome!” I mean a serious reader who will give you honest and intelligent feedback. Also, if we don’t take criticism personally, it really helps.

I love the term “Literary Citizenship.” I believe it was coined by my friend, writer Lori May. Jim Warner, the poet, often uses it to describe a writer’s willingness to share, and to offer advice without assassinating another person’s work. And doing what we can to support each other without competitive jealousy. Many years ago I made the decision to help other writers whenever I could.

When I was in Soviet Georgia as a student in 1987, we Americans could NOT pay for anything! The Georgian cabbies wouldn’t even take our money. When we tried to pay for pirozhkis at street kiosks, the street vendors would not accept our money. I’d never had this happen to me anywhere in the world. I asked one Georgian cab driver why they would not let us pay. He told me a Georgian fable: “When God was making the world, he walked all over his creation, distributing goods from the Horn of Plenty. But he tripped over the Caucasus Mountains, fell and dropped the Horn on Georgia. That is why we have everything here! But the secret is, the Horn of Plenty only stays full if you give everything away.”

I have tried to live by that rule ever since.

KAYLIE JONES has published seven books, including a memoir, Lies My Mother Never Told Me, and her most recent novel, The Anger Meridian. Her novel A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries was adapted as a Merchant Ivory film in 1998. Jones has been teaching for more than twenty-five years, and is a faculty member in the Stony Brook Southampton MFA in Creative Writing & Literature program and in Wilkes University’s MFA in Creative Writing program. She is the author of Speak Now and the editor of Long Island Noir. Her newest endeavor is her publishing imprint with Akashic Books, Kaylie Jones Books.

You can follow Kaylie Jones on Facebook and Twitter.