Category Archives: novels

Lust: A Seven Deadly Sins Novel by Victoria Christopher Murray

Series: Seven Deadly Sins
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Touchstone (February 7, 2017)
ISBN-10: 1501134108
ISBN-13: 978-1501134104
Price: $15.00
Purchase: Amazon | BN

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description

From the NAACP Image award winner and national bestselling author Victoria Christopher Murray, a novel inspired by the seven deadly sins about a woman caught between an entertainment mogul with a shady past and his childhood friend who is out for revenge.

Tiffanie has lived a sheltered life in a very strict household with her pastor-grandfather and grandmother in Washington, DC. But when she meets Damon King, she falls for the successful entertainment business man despite his history as a drug dealer. Everyone sees nothing but the brightest future for the couple—but there’s one person who wants to destroy them.

Trey Johnson is Damon’s childhood best friend with whom he built quite a successful drug business. But when the game got hot and Damon decided to leave, Trey stayed and continued to sell drugs, until he was arrested and spent seven years in prison.

But now he’s out and able to attend the wedding. While Damon is thrilled to have Trey back and hopes to bring his best friend into his business, Trey has other plans. He blames Damon for his demise and plans to ruin him, even if that means bringing Tiffanie down as well.

Trey is sure he will succeed, but he doesn’t know that there will be deadly consequences. And at the end, there will only be one man standing…

Review

Lust is full of intrigue and suspense. I could not put this book down, which is common in all of Victoria Christopher Murray’s books. She is a phenomenal story teller and master wordsmith.

I have steered away from reading urban books because of the profanity, violence, blood shed and graphic sex scenes. However, Lust is different. This is the kind of urban literature I would like to read, which why I appreciate Victoria Christopher Murray’s writing style. She makes her points, without it being in your face, which is also a tell-tale sign of a good writer.

Lust had a moral lesson in it. I don’t believe it was Victoria Christopher Murray’s intention, as she writes to entertain, however, she dropped a few gems in this story that made think and remember… which is why I identified with the female protagonist, Tiffanie.

While I read this story, my emotions were all over the place. There were some lines in this book, that made me laugh out loud. Victoria Christopher Murray’s character development and pacing is awesome, which is why I love reading her books, and Lust was no exception. I rate this book five stars, and highly recommend it.

In conclusion, I want to thank Touchstone for sending me a complimentary copy of LustA Seven Deadly Sins Novel in exchange for an honest review.

Victoria Christopher Murray has been writing inspiration African-American fiction since she left the financial services industry in 1997 to write her self-published debut Temptation. Her most recent novel Stand Your Ground (Touchstone, June 2015) won the 2015 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work. Lust marks the twentieth anniversary since the publication of Temptation.

 

 

 

 

 

Blaque Widow by Allison Grace

Paperback: 250 pages
Publisher: Illuminnessence Publishing
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0983048185
ISBN-13: 978-0983048183
Price: $11.99
Purchase: Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description

Taryn Durand believed in happily ever after but the man she married didnt believe in her. After being married to someone that didn’t love her or want her happiness she sought it out on her own in a way no one imagined. Taryn eventually gets her mind, body and soul right and in that she meets Asher. There’s something different about Asher yet he knows there’s something different aboout Taryn. Soon the differences that keep them apart will bring them together and they will be fighting to either stay together or live their lives separately. Will true love prevail?

Review

Blaque Widow draws you in from page one. The story is about the main protagonist, Taryn and who endures abuse by her mother, Edith, and her ex-boyfriend Trenton who happens to be sleeping with her mother.

After Taryn tears away from Trenton and her mother. She meets Devon, with the hopes things would be different and he would love her unconditionally. Sadly, after they got married, he starts to abuse her too.

It was only when Devon dies from an “accident” that Taryn was set free. She decides to join a gym and meets Asher, who becomes her personal trainer. They seem to have a connection and chemistry, however, because of all the abuse she endured, she is afraid to let him in.

Allison Grace creatively pens the consequences and affects of abuse. She exposes the self-hatred, and how abuse plays out mentally, emotionally, psychologically and physically. This story shows the extreme measures of what could happen, when abuse is not addressed and goes unchecked.

Blaque Widow is shocking, surprising and suspenseful. The story ends on a cliff hanger, and I look forward to the sequel.

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.

Author Interview: Dutch

It began several months ago, when I wrote a letter to Dutch telling him how much I enjoyed reading his book, Above The Law.  Little did I know it would blossom into a beautiful friendship. I have a deep respect and admiration for him. Not only is he a phenomenal writer, he is a genius and wonderful person. I am blessed to know him and call him friend. It is with great pleasure to introduce to you, Kwame Teague, aka Dutch.

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

I was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey. Normal ghetto story, grew up too fast. DJ’d, stole cars and sold drugs. Cliché.

2. What is the most memorable event you experienced as a child?

When I was three, I ditched my babysitter and went to the store. Everybody thought I got abducted. I came back and got my ass whooped.

3. What was your dream?

To be Scarface (lol). Who else? I also wanted to go into politics and be president.

4. Do you remember a teacher encouraging you in school?

Yep. My third grade teacher, Ms. McGeorge. She’s the one who said I’d be president (she may’ve told us all this).

5. Who had the greatest influence on you growing up?

My Uncle Hakim (God bless the dead). He was cool and didn’t take no shit. He spoke six languages and when he died in his 80’s, he looked like he was 50.

6. When did you realize you were a writer?

When I was twelve. I wrote a story about selling drugs.

7. Were you into reading books as a child? What book stood out for you?

Yes, a lot! Still do. I think that is the most important thing for kids, reading. My favorite book is Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.

8. How were your teenage years?

I was selling drugs, State to State. Delaware, Baltimore, Virginia and North Carolina. I wasn’t a king pin, not even close, just young and wild.

9. Was Dutch your first book published?

No. Ghetto Sam is my first book.

10. What did it feel like to be a published author?

To be published gave me a sense of accomplishment.

11. How did it feel to become an award winning, critically acclaimed and Essence #1 best selling author?

To win awards kept me humble.

12. What is your philosophy in life?

Act as if you are right, but know you can be wrong.

13. What gets you through difficult times?

My belief in myself.

14. Who are some of your favorite authors?

Wahida Clark, Al-Saadiq Banks, Eyonne Williams, Stone Ramsey and DC BookDiva (who is just so damn sexy).

15. Besides being an incredibly gifted writer, and prolific author, you are currently fighting for your innocence. Can you share how that is going?

I’ve been incarcerated for twenty-one years, and trying to prove my innocence. I’m currently raising money for a top notch lawyer, but I need all the help I can get!

16. What do you believe constitutes good writing?

Good writing paints a picture, takes few words and makes you think.

17. How did you become the talented writer that you are?

Working hard and eating Wheaties. No really, I love life, so I see the beauty and the ugliness in it.

18. What did you do to hone your skills?

Live, love and learn.

19. What is your principle goal when you began penning books?

To make you think, challenge what you think and make you wet…

20. What is your writing process?

Listen to music and then ask what if…

21. Do you use an outline?

Very rarely.

22. Do you write every day or only when you are inspired?

I write ten pages a day.

23. How long does it take you to write a book?

Thirty days on average.

24. How did you develop the confidence as a writer?

Because I’m confident as a man.

25. What is your vision?

To be free and free minds along the way.

26. Was there a particular book that you enjoyed writing the most?

Good question… I have a book called God that I haven’t released yet. God is my favorite.

27. Lastly, what would you tell a novice writer coming up in the industry? What advice would you give them?

Build your brand and open up the overseas market! The American market is saturated.

Bio: 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: Novelist Blacc Topp

Every now and then, you come across someone who is unique and special. I have had the pleasure of discovering this talented and creative author a few months ago. I began reading his first book, The Hustle Chronicles and was hooked ever since. I can’t get enough of his writing. I devoured all of his books.

Besides being an amazing and gifted writer, he is one of the hardest workers I know. When you read what his typical day looks like, you will respect his grind. It is an honor to introduce to you, Novelist Blacc Topp.

*       *       *       *       *

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself? Where did you grow up? What was your childhood like?

My name is Blacc Topp and I grew up on the south side of Dallas Texas in a neighborhood called Dixon Circle. My childhood was ideal until my father lost his job at Boeing Aircraft and that’s when things got rough. We went from a three bedroom two story house to living in the back of a laundromat bathing from a mop sink.

2) Were you always a reader? What kind of books did you read?

I started really losing myself in books when I was about 8 years old. I started out reading the newspaper with my father, helping him to sound out words. He only had a third grade education so we were learning together, you know? My first real book treat was the Fat Albert and the Gang collection that my father bought for me at a yard sale.

3) Can you remember when you first knew you wanted to be a writer?

Not really. I don’t think I ever really thought about it until I started penning it. My mother had dropped a book and I kind of got bitten by that bug but, never pursued it.

4) Was there a major life changing event that catapulted you to write?

After my mother passed, I was doing some digging and found some things that made me want to put it on paper. There were literally hundreds of letters that I’d written to her over the course of my incarceration and also journals from my teenaged years.

5) Were there any writers you read who influenced you and why?

I don’t think that any writers really influenced me. I think I admired some writer’s work but, not enough to influence my style one way or another.

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

Whoreson by Donald Goines, Pimp The Story of My Life by Iceberg Slim, The Falconhurst series by Kyle Onstott, almost anything by Stephen King, Sydney Sheldon and Walter Moseley. The list goes on and on.

7) Do you have a favorite genre?

No. I just like good, tight, cohesive writing.

8) Who were your biggest influences in life?

My father probably influenced me more than anyone. As I stated before he only had a third grade education but, he was a genius. He could pull a motor apart and put it back together again. He would literally work from sun up to sun down trying to put us in a better position.

9) Did you have any teachers who encouraged you to write?

My 9th grade English teacher Mrs. Van Hooks always encouraged her students. She was a great teacher.

10) Did you always know you were a fiction writer?

Well, coming from a background in music, we wrote our songs with a sort of fictional flare. In a song, you only had four minutes to tell a story. In literature, you have 70,000 plus words, so it was a win win for me.

11) What does your typical day look like?

I’m out of bed by 4am, at the gym by 4:30am, work out until 6am, shower, on the clock at my job by 7am. I work there until 5:30pm. I’m back home by 6:30pm. I shower, kick it with my wife and kids until 8:30 or 9 when they go to bed and then I write from 9pm until midnight or 1am. All the while I am marketing and promoting for current and future projects. Go to sleep and then it’s back to the same routine again.

12) What is your writing process and practice?

I prefer to wait on my mojo. I see people write articles saying that the best way to become good or great is to write everyday no matter how you feel. To me that leads to fluff. If you write when you really have something to say then it’s effortless.

13) Do you prefer to write out your novels in longhand or by computer?

It depends. When I’m at home I prefer the computer but, when I’m at work I generally write in longhand and transfer it to the computer later.

14) Are you particular about the type of notebook and pen you use to write with?

Notebooks are either 1 subject spiral or legal pads. I only write with fine point felt tip pens though.

15) How long does it take for you to write a novel?

It really depends on the extent of the research that I have to put into a particular book. On any given day I log between 1,000 and 3,000 words. So if it was absolutely necessary I could bang out a full length novel in 60 days, but I never rush myself.

16) How do you come up with the ideas to write about in your books?

Most of the stories that I come up with are from personal experience or bits and pieces of characters milling around in my head.

17) When did you decide to write The Hustle Chronicles series?

The Hustle Chronicles came about from trying to escape the pain of losing my mother. I tried to think whether I had ever been a good son and I started writing the Chronicles as a way of recollecting.

18) How did Tainted and Tainted Too begin? Was it a character, or a particular image?

Tainted began by remembering what a friend from my neighborhood had gone through and Tainted Too was just a continuation of that story with my own twist on it.

19) How did Corporate Amerikkka come about?

Without going into specifics, I went through a similar situation a few years back. I decided against retaliating the way that I was expected to and decided to let the courts handle it. In Corporate Amerikkka, Tristan took it to another level you know? Showed the powers that be that violence only begets more violence.

20) Which books were your favorite to write?

All of them. I immensely enjoy the entire process of building characters and bringing them to life.

21) What project are you working on now?

I’m currently working on two projects simultaneously, the third installment to Tainted and the prequel to The Hustle Chronicles called Gage.

22) What do you believe constitutes good writing?

I think good writing isn’t mechanical you know? It’s organic, it flows naturally and you feel it. Good fleshed out characters in believable situations.

23) How does one become a good writer?

That’s a question that I don’t believe I’m qualified to answer. I actually think good writers are born not made.

24) What is your goal as a writer? What do you want to convey to your readers?

I want my readers to expect quality from me because they know that I’ll deliver. I want to be your favorite author’s favorite author. I want the name Blacc Topp to sit on the tongues and coffee tables of every reader in the United States.

25) Where do you see yourself in ten years?

In ten years I’ll be the most successful and sought after African American author in recent history.

26) I’ve read all of your books and can see them becoming movies? Is this something you would be interested in?

I write from the perspective of movies. Meaning if I can’t visualize a particular scene in my head I’ll scrap it. So I suppose I would really love to see my novels make it to the big screen.

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

Write until your fingers bleed, find a lane and stay in it, mind your own business, write from the gut and follow your heart. If you can’t read your own work and enjoy, then it’s possible that no one else will either. Go hard or go home and write on!!!

*       *       *       *       *

Thank you for this wonderful interview, Novelist Blacc Topp. I look forward to reading more of your magnificent work.

Please be sure to order his books at www.novelistblacctopp.com. You can also follow Blacc Topp on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

The Hustle Chronicles by Blacc Topp

Publisher: Blacc Star Media Group
ISBN-10: 1622093712
ISBN-13: 978-1622093717
Price: $10.00
Purchase: Blacc Star Media | Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description

Julius Jr.s’ childhood is far less than perfect. He is torn between his mother and father who are going through a bitter divorce. His world is turned upside down when his father takes him from the comfort of the family home in Benton Harbor Michigan to the brutal streets of South Dallas Texas. When Julius Jr.s’ family is gruesomely murdered his life takes a dramatic turn. His mother Naje moves to Texas to care for her youngest son and finds herself drawn into a conspiracy that threatens to not only take the life of her youngest son but hers as well. Roll with Julius as he grows into the ultimate hustler and unrelenting killer that the gang-ridden streets of South Dallas often breeds, where pimping, drug dealing, treachery and betrayal go hand in hand.

Review

I happened upon Novelist Blacc Topp recently, and decided to explore his writing. The Hustle Chronicles is his debut novel which was released in 2012.

Little did I know, I would embark on a suspenseful ride of twists and turns. I immediately fell in love with his writing, the story and the characters. Especially, Julius Sr. and Julius Jr. Their bond was special and touching.

Novelist Blacc Topp does an extraordinary job of evoking emotion as well as conveying the inner workings of the mind and heart of his characters. His writing style is raw, sensual and thought provoking. He draws you in, and seduces you with his vivid and detailed descriptions. It’s as if he’s holding your hand and guiding you through an experience you won’t forget.

Blacc Topp is a creative genius and a master of words. His unique and original style has taken this genre to another level.

I highly recommend The Hustle Chronicles, and any book he pens. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

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 drealers, dopefiends, 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: Novelist Blacc Topp, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

Author Interview: ReShonda Tate Billingsley

It is an absolute honor and privilege to interview the gifted, prolific, best selling author, ReShonda Tate Billingsley.

I discovered Ms. Billingsley through one of my favorite authors, Victoria Christopher Murray. They have written books together and refer to each other as writing twins.

Ms. Billingsley’s most recent release, A Family Affair is another best seller. All of her books are best sellers.

I’m excited to present to you, Ms. ReShonda Tate Billingsley.

*******

1) Did you always know you were meant to be a writer?

Yes, I always knew it. I was always making up stories. (My mom called it lying).

I remember one day in class we had to write about our summer vacation. So I wrote about how I lived in the projects with my mom and sister and how we didn’t have much and how I had to dodge gangs and drive-bys. The teacher actually told my mom and my mom was livid because we lived in a nice middle class neighborhood. (I’d made the story up because it was so much more interesting than my real life).

Actually, my first paid gig was for True Confessions magazine when I was fifteen. I wrote a story called “I stole my sister’s husband” and they published it. When the check came in the mail, I was too terrified to let my mother know I had written for the magazine, so I never cashed it.

2) Was there a major turning point or epiphany that lead you to become a full time writer?

While I was working as a reporter, I was writing part-time. (I had eleven books at that time).

My literary career was really taking off, but there were so many things I couldn’t do because I only had two weeks of vacation. So, I decided to walk away from my job and write full-time.

I didn’t make that decision out of the blue. I, of course, talked it over with my husband, who has always been my biggest supporter. My faith also helped me make that decision. Not to mention a solid exit plan.

3) You were a journalist, reporter, speaker and more, did you find the crossover into writing fiction difficult?

No, I never found it difficult because as a reporter, I went out and interviewed people for stories. I stuck to the facts.

As a fiction writer, I can let my creativity flow.

4) What have you learned in your writing journey since your debut novel, My Brother’s Keeper?

Oh wow! I’ve learned so much. I’ve grown as a writer because writing is my passion. But I’ve learned to stay true to me.

I don’t write what’s hot; I write what’s in my heart. And I’ve learned that I’m always in need of knowledge.

I strive to make each book better than the last.

5) Would you do anything differently?

I would definitely have a better business plan. I’m a creative person. But being an author these days requires a business mindset.

When I was self-published, I would sell some books, go buy some shoes. I didn’t have the business side together.

Even now, with a mainstream publisher, there are so many things I need to work on the non-creative side.

6) What is your creative process and writing routine?

When I sit down to write a story, I ask myself if ten writers were given this topic, how would they all write it? Then, I work to write it differently. (I used this process when I was a TV reporter as well). There are no new story ideas…the key is in how YOU tell them….I’d love to say I have a specific routine, but as the mother of three, I write when I can, I just make sure that I WRITE!

7) How do you balance your personal and professional life as a successful author?

Not only am I a wife and mother, but I’m also a co-caretaker for my mother. So, I write any free time that I have.

When I’m at a traffic light, I’m actually writing. I dictate into a tape recorder to help me more effectively and efficiently get things done.

I believe every minute you spend talking about what you don’t have time to do could be spent doing it.

8) What specific things could you share that helped shaped you as a writer?

Using every bit of free time I have by writing. Not only do I write, but I read.

Writing workshops and seminars has also helped to shape me into the successful writer that I am today.

9) Do you have a mentor?

I don’t, but I have colleagues that I bounce ideas off of and who help me work through my stories.

10) What inspires you?

I never want to look back on life and say “I wish I had…”

11) What are some of your favorite books and why?

I love reading literary works like Child of God by Lolita Files and Perfect Peace by Daniel Black, and then I love discovering new authors, so I’ll read a self-published book in a minute!

12) What authors affect you and why?

I would have to say my writing twin, Victoria Christopher Murray. Collaborating with Victoria has definitely stepped up my writing on so many levels. She challenges me and I love a challenge.

13) What books have you read that have helped you as a writer?

Any good book motivates me.

14) What advice would you give a novice writer?

Write every day. Even when you don’t feel like writing, write. You’ll never finish that book if you don’t write.

Set realistic, attainable goals.

For me, I started with three pages a day, five days a week no matter what. Well, before I knew it, those three pages turned to thirty.

*******

Biography

ReShonda Tate Billingsley always did have an active imagination. From making up stories to crafting award-winning poems, the national bestselling author has always maintained a love for telling stories. After numerous rejections from publishers, ReShonda stepped out on faith, established her own publishing company, and released her debut novel, My Brother’s Keeper. 

It’s a move that paid off as megahouse publisher, Simon & Schuster/Pocket Books picked the book, and to date, has published all of ReShonda’s books.

A former television and radio news reporter, ReShonda is an editor for the Houston Defender Newspaper, as well as a professional editor, ghost writer and literary consultant. She has worked as a reporter for The National Enquirer and as an anchor and reporter for NBC, ABC and FOX television stations in Beaumont, TX, Oklahoma City, OK and Houston, TX. She left her job at FOX 26 News in Houston in 2007 to write full-time.

And write she does…

ReShonda is the national bestselling author of 28 books. Her sophomore novel, Let the Church Say Amen, has been made into a movie, directed by actress Regina King and produced by Queen Latifah’s Flava Unit Productions. The movie is slated to be released in Spring 2014. (ReShonda, who served as a consultant, makes a cameo in the movie). Her entire Amen series, as well as the novel I Know I’ve Been Changed has been optioned by BET. ReShonda also makes her on-screen acting debut in the movie, which will air in 2013 as part of BET’s new original programming lineup.  Several of her faith-based books have become a sought-after property in Hollywood.

A much sought-after public speaker, ReShonda recently won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literature for her book Say Amen, Again and was nominated again in 2013 for her book The Secret She Kept. She has won numerous awards for her journalism, fiction and poetry writing skills. She is a five-time winner of the National Association of Black Journalists Spirit in the Words competition. Considered one of the top Inspirational Fiction authors in the country, her books remain a staple on the Bestseller’s list  and have been featured in USA Today and Ebony Magazine as Summer Sizzlers. She was recently inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame.

A member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and the Missouri City/Sugar Land Chapter of Jack & Jill of America, ReShonda is a former professor of Broadcast Journalism at Langston University. She currently lives in Houston with her husband, Dr. Miron Billingsley, a Vice-president at Prairie View A&M University, and their three children, ages 13, 11 and 6.

 

I Won NanoWriMo!

I haven’t posted in awhile and that’s because I was participating in the National Novel Writing Month, NanoWriMo.

Yesterday morning, I surpassed the 50,000 word mark and won for the very first time.

Honestly, I didn’t think I was going to win when I first committed to doing it. There were a ton of doubts bouncing in my mind.

What if I couldn’t stick to getting up early? What if I got migraines from lack of sleep? What if I couldn’t write 50,000 words by the end of November? What if I couldn’t write fiction?

That was the big one, because truthfully, I never wrote an ounce of fiction in my life. This was my first time attempting to write a novel. I didn’t know what I was doing and quite frankly, still don’t.

However, what I learned by participating in NanoWriMo, is that when I pushed through my fear and took the plunge, I found out I was capable of a lot more than I thought.

I discovered I was wired to create stories and write fiction my entire life and didn’t even know it.

Although, my husband claims to have known, and is my biggest cheerleader.

What a surprise it was for me though. And to think I would have missed out on it if I didn’t try.

This was a learning experience for me on many levels. I had to push through the doubts and determine to do it despite my fear of not knowing how to.

I would have continued to believe that “just showing up” was a cliché by the experts, if I had not experienced it for myself.

Sometimes you don’t need a roadmap, you just have to do it and figure it out as you go.

Yes, it’s scary. Yes, it seems bigger than life when you first attempt it. But if you keep at it, you learn you are capable of much more than you thought.

It’s by allowing yourself to try, that courage meets you on the road of creating.

Writing my first novel was hard, but it was also rewarding. I’m glad I committed to it, stuck with it and won.

I haven’t finished the novel yet, but I developed the habit of getting up early by doing NanoWriMo and I will continue to write every morning until it’s completed.

Overall, it’s been a great experience. I would highly recommend it to anyone who has ever considered writing a novel.

Did you participate in this month’s NanoWriMo for the first time? I would love to hear about your experience.

Book Review: The Vanishing Act by Mette Jakobsen

Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher:  W. W. Norton & Company (September 17, 2012)
Language:  English
ISBN-10:0393062929
ISBN-13:978-0393062922
Price: $23.95
Purchase: Amazon | B&N

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description

On a small snow-covered island—so tiny that it can’t be found on any map—lives twelve-year-old Minou, her philosopher Papa (a descendent of Descartes), Boxman the magician, and a clever dog called No-Name. A year earlier Minou’s mother left the house wearing her best shoes and carrying a large black umbrella. She never returned.

One morning Minou finds a dead boy washed up on the beach. Her father decides to lay him in the room that once belonged to her mother. Can her mother’s disappearance be explained by the boy? Will Boxman be able to help find her? Minou, unwilling to accept her mother’s death, attempts to find the truth through Descartes’ philosophy. Over the course of her investigation Minou will discover the truth about loss and love, a truth that The Vanishing Act conveys in a voice that is uniquely enchanting.

Review

The Vanishing Act is a well written and captivating story with mixture of fantasy and philosophy. This story is like a beautiful painting whose brush strokes are poetic and descriptive.

The central theme is about a twelve year old girl named Minou and the disappearance of  her mother. One day her mother puts on her best shoes, takes her big black umbrella and walks out the house never to be seen again.

Everyone thinks she is dead, except for Minou. She does not believe her mother is dead, but will return one day. She keeps a journal, building a case with the reasons why she believes her mother is still alive.

While Minou was walking on the beach, she comes across the body of a dead boy. She runs to tell her father. Her father comes and carries the dead boy to their home. He decides to put the dead boy on the bed in Minou’s mother’s blue room until the ship arrives in three days. In the interim, he opens the window to make sure the boy’s body remains frozen.

Minou’s father is a philosopher from the descendant of Descartes searching for the absolute truth. Both Minou and her father struggle to find answers and figure out what happened.

Her father believes the key to finding the absolute truth is somehow connected to the dead boy’s body. He thinks he will get the answer (as does Minou) by sitting with him for three days until the ship arrives.

Minou and her father live on a small, remote island surrounded by the ocean. I get the impression the island is in the middle of nowhere. The only people living on this isolated island is Minou, her papa, a Priest, Boxman the magician and his dog, No Name.

You never quite know where any of them come from (except for Minou) and/or how they wound up on the island.

However, there is mystery surrounding Minou’s mother’s arrival to the island as well as her departure.

Minou’s mother disappears the following day after performing in Boxman’s magic show, called “The Vanishing Act“.

The only item found was one of the shoes she wore the day she left.

There is an underlying melancholy theme throughout the book. Between Minou’s complex and troubled father, who was traumatized by a war. The disappearance of her free spirited, artistic mother with a troubled past. The pretzel making Priest and his inability to sleep in the dark. The mysterious Boxman the magician and his lost love named Cosmina.

The Vanishing Act keeps you guessing and coming back for more.

I enjoyed reading The Vanishing Act and recommend this thoughtful novel to everyone.

In conclusion, I want to personally thank Erin Sinesky Lovett from W.W. Norton & Company for sending me a complimentary copy of this book to read and review.

Mette Jakobsen was born in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1964 but now lives in Newtown, Sydney. She has a PhD in Creative Writing and a BA in philosophy. In 2004 she graduated from NIDA’s Playwrights Studio and several of her plays have been broadcast on ABC national radio. The Vanishing Act is her first novel.