Monthly Archives: January 2016
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 — Twitter — LinkedIn.
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
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.
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.
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.
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.
Happy New Year! I don’t know about you, but I was glad to kiss 2015 goodbye. 2015 was a difficult and challenging year for me. It wasn’t all bad, as there were a lot of good moments. I learned a great deal about myself.
Growth doesn’t always feel good though. It reminds me of growing pains we experience as a child; it hurts like hell. However, we have to embrace the pain to grow. If not, we will remain stagnant and complacent.
Pain tells us something is wrong, and needs to change. It pushes us to reevaluate ourselves, our decisions and lives. It also allows us the opportunity to recalibrate and set new goals.
For me, it’s not about making new year’s resolutions. It’s more about setting goals and sticking to them. Right before the start of a new year, I sit back and do an overview of what I’ve accomplished and didn’t accomplish. I analyze the things that worked and didn’t work. I do a complete assessment, and then I begin to think about my goals for the new year.
What I’ve learned is a stumbling block for me is that I get distracted and lack focus. I also get tripped up on doing too many things at the same time, that I wind up not accomplishing a bloody thing! Does this sound familiar?
I have several goals for this year, and they are all run along the same line. But what I need to be able to achieve them is the proper focus, dedication, discipline, perseverance, and persistence. My natural stubbornness needs to kick in.
It really does come down to setting our minds on doing it, instead of talking about it. We have to set small, and realistic goals at first. If we set the bar too high, we won’t stick with it. If we set our goals in small increments, it won’t feel so overwhelming. The procrastination comes from being overwhelmed, it paralyzes us. This is why it is easier to do things in small increments and then build up momentum.
This is basically how I’m going to approach my goals for 2016. What about you? How are you planning to achieve and accomplish your specific goals for this year?