Monday, December 26, 2011

Author of the Week: D. L. Sparks

D. L. Sparks, Author
A&RBC: How did you become a writer?
D. L.: My writing evolved out of my love of reading. I've always loved to read so becoming an author was a natural progression for me.

A&RBC: Where does your inspiration for your characters come from?
D.L.: Everywhere! LOL! My characters are mashups of bits and pieces of different characteristics that I've noted over time. And of course it depends on their role in the book. I may study a certain professional more if I have that profession depicted in my book.

A&RBC: What are you hoping readers take from your book?
D.L.: I am hoping my readers will find a sense of growth and hope in all my works. All my characters, even my secondary characters, are going through something. I want the readers to be able to relate on some level.

A&RBC: If you were to write a book about a controversial topic, what would it be?
D. L.: It would probably be about the lack of attention given to women of color who go missing whether kidnapped or otherwise.

A&RBC: Most writers have a process or method for writing their books, what is yours?
D.L.: I don't really have one I guess. I write in spurts. Whenever I get an idea I jump up and get rolling. I do usually know my endings before I start.

A&RBC: What is your favorite genre of books?
D.L.: I love romantic suspense with a law enforcement/crime element.  I guess that's why I write in that genre.

A&RBC: Are you an avid or occasional reader?
D.L.: Avid. I am currently reading Kill Alex Cross now and just asked Santa for a Kindle Fire.

A&RBC: What are two things you want your readers to know about you?
D.L.:  I am very shy but also love to have a good laugh.

A&RBC: If you could interview one of your favorite authors, who would it be? Why?
D.L.:  Stephen King. I love the way his mind works and would like to know how his process is for working a story. He is an icon to me.

A&RBC: What is or was your dream job?
D.L.:  I'm doing it. I love to create. I love writing.

A&RBC: What new projects are you working on?
D.L.: Between Friends comes out 12/27 and I am working on my next novel which will also be romantic suspense.

A&RBC: Where can readers find you?
On Twitter: @dlsparks and on Facebook:

Authors & Readers Book Corner appreciates your time!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Author of the Week: Tivona Elliott

Tivona Elliott, Author
 A&RBC:  How did you become a writer? 
 Tivona: I started when I was a little girl. I loved writing short stories, poems and writing in  my journal.

A&RBC: Where does your inspiration for your characters come from? 
Tivona: In the series that I am doing right now, The Fast Life Chronicles, all the characters are based on actual people. 

A&RBC: What are you hoping readers take from your book?  
Tivona: I hope that the reader will have a better insight on who I am as an individual and be able to take the situations and make their own situation better.

A&RBC: If you were to write a book about a controversial topic, what would it be?  
Tivona: I would write about the war in Iraq and how so many of our children are missing their parents because they are over there fighting a war that we are still in confusion about.

A&RBC:  Most writers have a process or method for writing their books, what is yours?  
Tivona: I allow it to come naturally and follow my heart.

A&RBC:  What is your favorite genre of books? 
TivonaMy favorite genre is Mystery. I love the James Patterson series.

A&RBC: Are you an avid or occasional reader?  
Tivona: I am an avid reader. I love to read not just only my books but books of others as well. Being an avid reader helps me to become a better writer.

A&RBC: What are two things you want your readers to know about you? 
TivonaI wish there was only two things that I could tell my readers about me but I am writing the entire Fast Life Chronicles series on my life and every aspect of every book tells everything about me. The most important things that I want my readers to know is that I always stay humble and put God first in everything that I do.

A&RBC:   If you could interview one of your favorite authors, who would it be? Why?  
Tivona: I would interview Maya Angelou. She is definitely my favorite author and I feel like our childhoods are the same and I can definitely relate to her. I know that I could learn a lot from her from the business aspect to the creative aspect to being a better and stronger woman.

A&RBC: What is or was your dream job?   
Tivona: Being a novelist is my dream job and right now I am thankful that I am able to live and pursue my dreams at this very moment.

A&RBC: What new projects are you working on?  
Tivona: I am working on The UnMarritable. It is the second book of the Fast Life Chronicles series.

A&RBC: Where can readers find you? 
Authors & Readers Book Corner appreciates your time!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Saturday Suggestion: Material Girl 2: Labels and Love

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About The Book

Dylan Monroe, our favorite shopaholic, is back! She's three months pregnant and madly in love with the father of her child, sexy heavyweight champion, Angel. The only problem is the long-legged Victoria's Secret model standing in the way of getting him back. If that were not enough stress, her Jack Daniel's-loving mother, Candy, returns to stir up even more trouble.

Determined to face her future as a single mother, Dylan avoids the trap of her favorite pastime, shopping. Instead, she takes realistic steps to try to improve her situation.

Rounding out the cast of colorful characters are Billie, Dylan's tightly wound friend, and flamboyant transgender cousin Tee-Tee, aka Dick'em Down Diva. Labels and Love promises to be a laugh-out-loud, heartfelt tale of love lost and love regained.

About The Author

Keisha Ervin is the national best selling author of Me & My Boyfriend, Chyna Black, Mina's Joint, Hold U Down, Street Love, Torn, Finding Forever, Girls From Da Hood 5, Gunz and Roses, and Material Girl. Ervin lives in St. Louis, Missouri with her son and is hard at work on her next novel.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

20 Essential Novels for African-American Women

20 Essential Novels for African-American Women

Provided by the Accredited Online Colleges

What makes literature such a beautiful and compelling field of study is its fruitful bounty of diversity. Unfortunately, however, syllabi across the United States still tend towards books by dead white men, with everyone else competing for what few available slots remain. Progress has been made, of course, and dead white men still have plenty to say and offer. But the canon could easily do much, much better for itself. Whether historical, romantic, fantastic, mysterious or some combination thereof (or something else entirely), the following reads represent some of the best voices representing African-American women of today and generations past. By no means neither definitive nor emblematic of all experiences and perspectives, it still provides a great sample of some amazing books deserving of more consideration. Or, in some cases, fully deserving of the hefty recognition they already earned.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Alice Walker's Pulitzer-winning classic gives an empowering voice to women marginalized along racial, sexual and economic lines, setting her story during the Great Depression. Protagonist Celie ultimately finds empowerment despite such severe social, political, filial and financial hardships thanks to the loving sexual guidance of her bombastic friend and lover Shug Avery.

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Another sterling Pulitzer winner and rightfully lauded mainstay in the literary canon, Beloved compares and contrasts the times before, during and after the American Civil War. Haunting and intense, it features some horrifying depictions of slavery's reality and what lengths some might have gone to in order to escape it, including murdering loved ones.

Their Eyes were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Featuring one of the strongest female leads in all of literature, Zora Neale Hurston's undeniable magnum opus follows a Florida woman through many different loves. Some horrid, some amazing, and all of them eventually shaping her into the self-assured, somewhat traumatized and frequently gossiped-about individual she eventually becomes.



Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs

This fiercely feminist slave narrative comes so laden with autobiography it may as well be shelved as a memoir. Harriet Jacobs, here cast as Linda, recounts how masters tortured their female slaves more egregiously than their male counterparts, not infrequently involving sexual assault and rape. While graphic and heartwrenching, the novel does carry historical significance making it an essential read.

Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan

Four middle-aged women show each other love and support through times of triumph and times of tragedy both inter- and intrapersonal. Although their individual stories do base a lot of characterization off their masculine relationships, it still turns a realistic eye towards dating and marriage problems.

The Serpent's Gift by Helen Elaine Lee

Set at the turn of the 20th century, The Serpent's Gift chronicles a tale of two families whose lives begin overlapping in some interesting – some good, some bad — ways as time marches onward. For almost 100 years, they love, share and suffer through their middle-class Midwestern existence, impacted by some of America's most influential historical moments.

The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor

Short vignettes bound together by common themes and characters greatly humanize the female inhabitants of a decaying urban neighborhood. They cycle through victories and tragedies, their emotions running the gamut from joy to despair to homicidal rage.

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

Science fiction and fantasy author Octavia E. Butler tackles time travel in her narrative of a young woman flung to a pre-Civil War plantation. There, she must serve as a slave in order to protect her identity – and ensure she even exists in the future.

The Street by Ann Petry

Published in 1946, The Street takes a long look at the experiences of a young, single mother in Harlem harboring a love of books and Ben Franklin. The latter serves as her inspiration to keep pressing forward, working hard and ensuring the safest possible life for her beloved son.

Betsey Brown by Ntozake Shange

The eponymous protagonist comes of age as the daughter of a doctor during school desegregation, witnessing firsthand the beginnings of the Civil Rights movement. Ntozake Shange juxtaposes Betsey's experiences with those of her parents Jane and Greer to showcase the different attitudes the generations held about social change.

Push by Sapphire

Though illiterate, impoverished, twice-pregnant because of her father's repeated rapes and suffering under an abusive mother, the 16-year-old girl around which Push rotates pines for a healthier, happier life. Sapphire leaves her ending ambiguous, but by the end an alternative school has already bolstered her reading skills.

Coffee Will Make You Black by April Sinclair

Bildungsroman buffs might want to pick up this novel about a young woman crippled beneath poverty and racism in Chicago's South Side during the 1960s. Appropriate for teens and adults, it offers up some sobering lessons about some universal and historical themes alike.

What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day by Pearl Cleage

An Atlanta-based hairdresser relocates to her Michigan origins following a devastating and unexpected HIV diagnosis. She reunites with her sister, adopts a baby, rediscovers love and finds excitement in the city she once deemed unworthy.

Iola Leroy or, Shadows Uplifted by Frances E.W. Harper

Iola Leroy stands as one of the first novels ever published by an African-American woman and concerns itself with the mixed-race daughter of a former slave owner and the wife he once owned. But once the planter dies, she winds up thrust into servitude of her own before being freed and piecing together the broken fragments of her family.

Blanche on the Lam by Barbara Neely

Barbara Neely's debut novel introduced mystery aficionados to cook and housekeeper Blanche White, who eventually winds up playing detective while running from fraud charges. Her position as a majorly marginalized individual (along both class and race lines) allows her to go about her investigations smoother – handy, considering her first case involves a murdered gardener.

The Bondwoman's Narrative by Hannah Crafts

Speculation about The Bondwoman's Narrative abounds, with many scholars believing it might be the very first novel ever written by an African-American woman; it wasn't published until 2002, however. This slave story makes for another first-person example about the horrors faced by people dehumanized by others who wrongfully forced them into bondage.

Water in a Broken Glass by Odessa Rose

Odessa Rose's sensuous story twists and turns throughout an attraction triangle shared by a popular sculptress, a man she loves and the woman she ends up loving even more. It's a joyous journey through eroticism and art alike, and many readers consider it a major triumph of African-American lesbian literature.

The Color of Love by Sandra Kitt

Even skeptics towards the romance genre can still appreciate The Color of Love for its frank, grounded depiction of the unique challenges interracial couples frequently face. Few authors ever put forth the effort to explore the realities behind such relationships, and fewer still with as much gravitas and intelligent commentary as Sandra Kitt.

Praisesong for the Widow by Paule Marshall

At age 64, protagonist Avey Johnson heads out on a cruise to Carraiacou to find herself and better connect with her heritage after widowhood. Interspersed throughout her experiences on the Carribbean island are scenes taken from her childhood, marriage and motherhood to help her come to terms with where she's been and where she may very well go.

Corregidora by Gayl Jones

Through the powerful voice of haunted blues chanteuse Ursa Corregidora, her brutal family history of slavery collides with the realities and experiences of African-Americans in the 1930s. Her newly-acquired inability to bear children challenges her to think of the bitter past that scarred her mother and grandmother.

To learn more about the Accredited Online Colleges visit their site at

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Book Spotlight: Truth or Dare?

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About the Book

Jess and Esias Roberts have a good marriage. Sure, their lives are hectic with the kids, her classes and his budding career as a novelist, but they are happy- or so Jess believes. That's why she's taken off guard when innocent online discussions with a fellow student develop into a scandalous game of truth or dare. When Jayson Winston sends her a message that lights a long-extinguished flame, Jess does the unimaginable.

What starts as innocent online banter quickly develops into a passionate affair, but it isn't long before Jess is consumed by guilt. She's ready to end things, but Jayson doesn't feel the same way. Jayson is convinced that they belong together, and he's not letting her go without a fight. Jess's decisions may have brought consequences she never could have imagined.
About the Author

Dwayne S. Joseph is the author of ten drama-filled novels that have consistently kept readers interested in his work. He strives to grow and improve with each novel because he feels that's what the readers deserve. And that's just what he is determined to do by providing readers with more suspense, more intensity, more violence, more mystery and sex. He resides in Maryland with his wife and children. Visit him at or by email at

Author of the Week: B. Danielle Watkins

B. Danielle Watkins, Author

A&RBC: How did you become a writer?
B. Danielle: Well to be honest, I have been writing all of my life.  I remember winning an award in 4th grade for a story I created for an assignment. I have always had a very active imagination, I guess that’s contributed to growing up in the home alone sometimes you have to play by yourself, and make it interesting. I used to write plays as a child, and then gather the neighborhood kids and practice all day, and when our parents came home from work that evening we would put chairs in the yard and perform like we were on Broadway. In 2000, at the age of 15, I got a poem published in a collection along with ton of other amazing writers.  This particular project, however, I never expected or intended for it to ever be shared with the world.  The manuscript sat on my computer for three years before I even considered doing anything with it.  It was something that I did because my friends enjoyed the story, and I enjoyed their reactions.  One of my close friends from New York, who is a film writer, read it and encouraged me (well bullied me) to pursue publishing options, and I was abrasive to say the least. As Marsha Ambrosius stated in her song “Lose Myself” “I had a paralyzing fear of facing failure”. But God makes no mistakes, and it sat for three years because I had to mature before I got to this point, and now here I am, not only a writer, but a Self-Published Author.
A&RBC:  Where does your inspiration for your characters come from?
B. Danielle: *Blushing*I was in love.  I was in undergraduate down in North Carolina, I hadn’t been a Zeta for a year yet, and I had a new relationship; my first real relationship. I was so in love I didn’t know what to do with it, and I couldn’t possibly just tell him, so I started writing a fictionalized version of my feelings.  I was a college student and an active member in the sorority so my schedule prevented me from writing a lot, and then we broke up. It took me about a year to pick up and start writing again, and that’s when I started to take people in my life and make their true characters dramatic and extreme.
A&RBC: What are you hoping readers take from your book?
B. Danielle: My book is not a “Traditional Romance Novel”, this is not the happy fairy tale world people fantasize about.  If nothing else I want my readers to take the reality of the story.  Yes it is a fictional story, but the moral of the story is very real. Nothing ever goes as planned, and love will run its course with or without you.  This is a world of jealousy and envy, and if your relationship is not strong enough to endure it, it will not survive it.  This is a three part series, and that is shown across the board, this is not a fairy tale ending, in life there is pain especially when love is involved.
A&RBC: If you were to write a book about a controversial topic, what would it be?
B. Danielle: Man, that’s a good question.  I think it’s a tossup between abortion and homosexuality.
A&RBC:  Most writers have a process or method for writing their books, what is yours?
B. Danielle: I just sit down and say I am going to write today.  Now that I have two more books to push out in the next year I don’t have the kind of time not to write at least one word a day.  Sometimes I can sit down and knock out a lot of writing, and sometimes I can sit down and not write a word.  But I will sit in front of my computer and just start typing.  I have to reread a lot before I start writing just so I can ensure that the story is flowing, and the dates and times coincide. Nothing special or ritualistic just focused with some music playing in the background.
A&RBC: What is your favorite genre of books?
B. Danielle: I love African American fiction and non-fiction.  Something about our passion is amazing and to read about it is inspirational.
A&RBC: Are you an avid or occasional reader?
B. Danielle: Well, I am neither.  I am a binge reader. I can go months without ever picking up a book, or even looking at one, and then one day decide I want to read and go buy 5 books and read all five consecutively. Since I spend my spare time writing these days I haven’t read much, but there Is the occasional itch to read every now and again.
A&RBC: What are two things you want your readers to know about you?
B. Danielle: I am crazy shy.  Some people would beg to differ, because once I am comfortable I am the polar opposite, but with this book I think my humility has channeled a whole different level of shy. Let’s see what else. I am not finished yet, this is the first, but it will definitely not be the last. I have come to the conclusion that I will make writing a career and not a hobby, and I will do whatever it takes to make that a reality.  I will be someone’s favorite author with an internationally recognized catalog of works.
A&RBC: If you could interview one of your favorite authors, who would it be? Why?
B. Danielle: Toni Morrison.  I love that woman.  She writes so deep that it takes some people years to read and fully understand her works.  She is an amazing author, and her person exudes in her works.  I would want to interview her for nothing else but for the wisdom she has and to take that opportunity to learn from her.
A&RBC: What is or was your dream job?
B. Danielle: I want to be a full time writer.  I want to see my works on stage, and on film.
A&RBC: What new projects are you working on?
B. Danielle: I am currently working on three projects at the same time.  I am writing the second book in the “No Other Man; A Three Part Tragedy” series, entitled “Redeye”  I am in talks with a woman who would like me to write her story as a young child being molested in the Philippine Islands, and I am also preparing for “No Other Man” to be a stage play here in Las Vegas, NV in summer 2012.  The script is in the writing stages, and we will begin casting in the Spring.
A&RBC: Where can readers find you?
B. Danielle: Right now, the most direct way for readers to get to me is my email. I am an Amazon Author, and I also have a Shelfari Authors account, so if they want to contact me, I am findable and very willing to talk.  My website will be up and running by the end of the year and then they will have direct access to me as well as my works.

Authors & Readers Book Corner appreciates your time!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Saturday Suggestion: I Can Do Better All By Myself

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I Can Do Better All By Myself
E. N. Joy

The singles ministry at New Day Temple of Faith is beginning to unravel, and the pastor is considering dissolving the ministry. Some members believe the only way to hold it together is by getting their pastor to join. And why shouldn't their leader show support by joining, considering the pastor's own single status? Some church members support the idea, while others frown upon the fact that they are being led by a shepherd who is single in the first place. It becomes an all-out war, with one side wanting the pastor to embrace singlehood, while others secretly play matchmaker.

Marriage has been the furthest thing from the pastor's mind, not because there hasn't been an opportunity, but because there really hasn't been time. With a needy congregation facing trials and tribulations, Pastor has no time to play the dating game. Being a pastor on call twenty-four seven, who has time for a serious relationship period, other than the one with God? Eventually, decisions have to be made around New Day. Will these decisions mend the ministry or destroy the church?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Book Review: Giving Up the Ghost

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Giving Up The Ghost
Stacy Deanne
4 Stars

In Giving Up the Ghost by Stacy Deanne readers should prepare for a rollercoaster ride. Detective Brianna Morris and Detective Steven Kemp are investigating the brutal attack of Brianna’s friend Cheyenne. Brianna becomes so fixated on one suspect that she neglects other possibilities that could solve the case.
Brianna meets Simon Watts who happens to be a friend of Cheyenne. Simon is instantly attracted to the detective and helping with the investigation means he can be close to Brianna. Brianna feels the same attraction to Simon and finds herself wanting to know more about him. As the investigation goes on Brianna and Simon’s attraction for each other grows stronger. Brianna finds out Simon is not sharing everything with her and once Simon’s past is revealed Brianna will have to make a decision.

Detective Steven Kemp is still harboring feelings for his partner. Steven feels there is something suspicious going on with Cheyenne’s case. When he starts looking more into the suspects the news he discovers will shock everyone.
Giving Up the Ghost is about judging a book by its cover. First impressions are lasting ones and in this book people are not as they seem. The author does a wonderful job pulling readers into this mystery of amnesia, love and deceit. Readers will learn that Brianna is a detective first and human second. This is a page-turning book of surprises that kept me intrigued until the end. I recommend this book to others.

This book was provided by the author for review purposes.
Teresa Beasley
A&RBC Reviews

Book Review: Speeding Tickets

Speeding Tickets
Valley Brown
3.5 Stars

In Speeding Tickets by Valley Brown, readers are introduced to Christine Cassler a widow trying to piece her life back together. When Christine happens to meet Doug an intriguing stranger that helps her out of a dilemma, she feels he is heaven sent. Christine’s life begins to change and she feels she can live again. Doug brings out the best in her and she hopes this is not too good to be true.
Doug does not mind helping the damsel in distress on the side of the road. After helping Christine, he cannot get her off his mind. When the two begin dating the attraction is undeniable. When obstacles start getting in the way of their happiness, will Doug stand by his woman?

Speeding Tickets is about starting over and overcoming faults. This book combines romance, a love for motorcycles and a little bit of mystery. This combination did not work for me. The book started slow but picked up later and I found myself looking for more from the twist in the story. I recommend this book to those who have a love for bike riding.

This book was provided by the author for review purpose.
Teresa Beasley
A&RBC Reviews

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Holiday Blog Tour: Francis Ray

Trouble Don't Last Always
Francis Ray

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Desperate to escape her abusive marriage, Lilly Crawford files for divorce, then slips away from her small east Texas hometown with little more than the clothes on her back. She points her twelve-year-old car east, hoping to find a new beginning. When her car breaks down in Louisiana, Lilly finds unexpected employment as the caregiver for a wealthy neurosurgeon named Adam Wakefield, who lost his sight in a recent carjacking. At first, this handsome, brooding man reminds her too much of the angry husband she left behind and she reminds him of how far he has fallen from the self-assured man he once was. However, as the two spend long days together, an unexpected bond develops—one that will be deeply tested. For Lilly must confront her violent husband before she can ever hope to move on and truly discover a second chance at life and love.
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The Wish
Francis Ray

The Wish–never before released as a standalone novella! Previously published in the anthology Gettin’ Merry. Be careful what you wish for. That’s the lesson a fine brother with a wounded heart learns when an eccentric old woman grants him a wish for true love–if he’s not too blind to see it.

About Francis Ray

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Francis Ray is a native Texan and lives in Dallas. INCOGNITO, her sixth title, was the first made-for-TV movie for BET. Her literary fiction series-Taggart and Falcon, the Invincible Women, Grayson Family of New Mexico, and Grayson Friends have consistently made bestseller's lists, and are enjoyed by readers world-wide. She has written forty-seven books to date. Awards include Romantic Times Career Achievement, EMMA, The Golden Pen, Atlantic Choice, Borders 2008 Romance Award for bestselling Multicultural Romance for NOBODY BUT YOU. IF YOU WERE MY MAN was selected as Written 2010 Book of the Year.
To learn more about the author visit: or

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Holiday Book Tour: Mary Monroe

Featured Book: Mama Ruby Prequel to the Upper Room
If you are a fan of Toni Morrison and Zora Neale Hurston, you will love Mama Ruby and the writings of Mary Monroe! 
How did Ruby and Othella Mae, from The Upper Room, come to be who they are today? 

Find out in the exciting prequel to The Upper Room, titled Mama Ruby. There’s a fine line between best friend and worst nightmare…but there will be a reckoning....

New York Times bestselling author Mary Monroe presents an unforgettable tale featuring Mama Ruby, the indomitable heroine of her acclaimed novel The Upper Room. Now readers will get a peek into Ruby’s early years, as she transforms from a spoiled small-town girl into one of the South’s most notorious and volatile women…

Growing up in Shreveport, Louisiana, Ruby Jean Upshaw is the kind of girl who knows what she wants and knows how to get it. By the time she’s fifteen, Ruby has developed a taste for fast men and cheap liquor, and not even her preacher daddy can set her straight. Most everyone in the neighborhood knows you don’t cross Ruby. Only Othella Mae Cartier, daughter of the town tramp, understands what makes Ruby tick.

When Ruby discovers she’s in the family way, she’s scared for the first time in her life. After hiding her growing belly with baggy dresses, Ruby secretly gives birth to a baby girl at Othella’s house. With few choices, Othella talks Ruby into giving the child away and with the help of a shocking revelation, convinces Ruby to run off with her to New Orleans.

But nothing can erase Ruby’s memories of the child she lost or quell her simmering rage at Othella for persuading her to let her precious baby go. If there’s a fine line between best friend and worst nightmare, Ruby is surely treading it. Because someday, there will be a reckoning. And when it comes, Othella will learn the hard way that no one knows how to exact revenge quite like Ruby Jean Upshaw!

Publishers Weekly Book Review
Mary Monroe's prequel to The Upper Room reintroduces readers to Mama Ruby, a fierce and indomitable woman. This time Monroe focuses on Ruby's early adolescence as the youngest daughter of a preacher in 1930s Louisiana. While her parents shelter her from the harsh world, Ruby is eager for adult sensations, especially sex, and embraces her desire when she meets the promiscuous Othella and her brother, Ike. Ruby and Othella experiment with neighborhood boys and Ruby soon gets pregnant. Othella and her mother persuade her to give the baby up at birth, and doing so haunts Ruby forever. Ruby and Othella then flee small town life only to become prostitutes in New Orleans and take part in a killing. Though readers new to the series will have to accept the dialect, ever-present threat of violence, and explicit sex scenes, they'll appreciate the compelling period and the unapologetic characters. Familiarity with The Upper Room smoothes the way. (June)
Mama Ruby by Mary Monroe 
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Dafina (June 1, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0758238614
ISBN-13: 978-0758238610
Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.4 inches 

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About Author Mary Monroe

Mary Monroe is the third child of Alabama sharecroppers and the first and only member of her family to finish high school. She did not attend college or any writing classes, but taught herself how to write and started writing short stories around the age of four. She spent the first part of her life in Alabama and Ohio, and moved to Richmond, California, in 1973. She has lived in Oakland since 1984.

Her first novel, The Upper Room, was published by St. Martin’s Press in 1985, and was widely reviewed throughout the U.S. and in Great Britain.   She endured fifteen years and hundreds of rejection letters before she landed a contract for her second novel, God Don’t Like Ugly.  It was published in October 2000, by Kensington Books. God Don’t Play was her seventh novel to be published, and it landed her a spot on the prestigious New York Times bestsellers list for the first time!

Mary is divorced, loves to travel, loves to mingle with other authors, and she'll read anything by Ernest Gaines, Stephen King, Alice Walker, and James Patterson.  She still writes seven days a week and gets most of her ideas from current events, and the people around her, but most of her material is autobiographical.

New York Times Bestselling author Mary Monroe created fabulous books such as: Mama Ruby, The Upper Room and the God Don't Like Ugly series for readers with a sense of humor and adventure. When The Upper Room was published, Monroe had this to say:  "This is my story -- these characters are people I know, it's my life!"

Meet author Mary Monroe as she travels across the nation discussing Mama Ruby and her literary journey. View more book details and her tour schedule at her website:

Join Author Mary Monroe on Twitter: @marymonroebooks

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To learn more about this author visit:

Monday, November 28, 2011

Holiday Book Tour: Sherryle Kiser Jackson

Figurative Fisticuffs 
By Sherryle Kiser Jackson

I had to come to terms with my main character, Pamela “Pill” Jones Taylor from my 2011 release, Taylor- Made. The book was already on the production calendar. At that point I should have been well on my way to scripting her life. My narrative was slow-going because of Pill. That’s her nickname-whether bitter or sweet, she’s good for ya, she’d say. I had to admit, I created her, but I did not know her.

In her husband’s words she’s a petite package of chocolate perfection. The diva type, headstrong hairdresser, she’s nonchalant to the point of rudeness. Stylish, secretive, cynical, snide, you’ve met the type.

I like to think I have characterization down. I get involved in my characters lives. Sometimes I am a parent that nurtures. Other times I am in the bushes stalking them. More than anything, I am a slave at their mercy. I like it that way, an O short of loony. They speak to me and I write it all down eventually. I do everything but assign them a social security number.

This time there was a hold out in my program- Pill. I mean I knew her, but I don’t know her. It’s like she lives on my street, but I haven’t had her over. We’re associates, but not friends. I know her husband (my other main character, Corey), but I haven’t met the misses. This chick was illusive.

I would write a chapter, or more like a fraction of the chapter, and hit a bump in the road. I’d re-read, which is usually as much a part of writing as adding to the word count. But, I was doing this incessantly. I was going to the beginning, page one, paragraph one. Instead of laying a trail, I was trying to find a trail, a pattern of behavior, waiting for this Queen Diva to speak. Why, why, why, why why? She was not dishing.

I have been a part of a biweekly writer’s group for over 10 years now that started at the former Sister Space and Books in DC. Every time I’d bring a chapter for critique they’d ask about Pill. Why does she do the things she does? Why is she a certain way toward her husband? Is she devious or delusional? Although I had a hard time answering all of their inquiries; that last one got me though. Is she a protagonist or antagonist? I’m thinking, c’mon now, that’s basic character motivation, or back story-the dibs. That’s the basic foundation of the house that is my story line, the framework, the pipes and wiring. This was my chance to play God, or more like the 3rd person omniscient narrator. I was supposed to know more than the characters. Pill was punking me, making me look dumb in front of my fellow writers. So, I did like any sell-respecting author would do. I asked her outside.

On one of my many writing hiatuses, I remembered a writing exercise from one of my craft books, Soul Between the Lines: Freeing Your Creative Spirit Through Writing by Dorothy Randall Gray and Luisah Teish (Paperback - Mar. 1998) I had not seen the book in eons and knew it must be in my garage somewhere, but I was desperate to get past this impasse. I remembered you invite your character to the proverbial hot seat or therapist chair, if you will, and ask them very nicely, “ Pill, what is it that you have to say?” and then you listen and take notes. Sounds loony, I know like I bought a vowel for that last O.

It was worth a try. I had my earrings out, but maybe I didn’t need to fight her after all. I had tried this exercise before some ten years ago when I was writing Soon and Very Soon. It worked then. Why not now?

So I got quiet. I visualized the diva. I asked the question and doggone it if she didn’t start to speak. She told me I didn’t need to know all her business. She didn’t think the other characters needed to know either. She was covering up her flaws and secrets with a flashy wardrobe and a nasty attitude. It was all smoke and mirrors for what was really going on inside.

I think the key to tapping into this character was returning to the pen and pad to record these responses rather than the keyboard. It was almost as if she (or the inner me) felt threatened to perform or felt the need to hide in the midst of the narrative. The fresh lined paper gave her permission to be less polished, This is far from a sketch, but a ramble of consciousness. She was free to repeat herself as much as she wanted to. She could tell her truth. You not only take down details, but you discover nuances. I heard the cadence and intonation of her voice. I could sense the touchy subjects that she’d rather avoid like those of her mother and growing up poor. I could re-direct her with another question before she began to clam up or at least until I could figure out her hang ups. She showed her true colors. It was a safe space for her and I honored that.

This was indeed therapy. Now, I can go back to my story, already in progress, and carry a little bit of her with me each time. I shade in the picture I began to draw because I have a full palette. Pill is more than someone I merely recognize. She is someone I know. We’re not BFFs but we’re not in figurative fisticuffs anymore either.

Taylor-Made by Sherryle Kiser Jackson
A young couple is forced to face their past through the mirror of marriage.

When materialistic Pill’s husband asks her to join him for Marriage Maintenance classes, he hopes they can get their marriage back on track. But will Pill get on board—even if it means “going without” again?
Purchase on AmazonBlack Expressions,  or  Barnes & Noble
ISBN-10: 1601627955
ISBN-13: 978-1601627957 

Meet The Author 
Multi-published author, wife, mother and teacher, Sherryle strives to be a fresh voice in Christian Fiction. Born in Prince Georges County, Maryland, Sherryle went on to get a degree in Elementary Education from from Salisbury State University. Her triumphant debut novel, Soon and Vey Soon (2007) was followed up by her sophomore release, The Manual (2009), Soon After (2010) and Taylor- Made (2011) for Urban Christian Books.  She lives in Maryland with her husband and two children. Visit Sherryle: 

TAYLOR MADE by Sherryle Kiser Jackson

Pamela "Pill" Jones has more than baggage; she has a whole storage unit. Partially raised by her older sister, she is accustomed to struggling to survive by any means necessary. Pill has vowed to always have the best. Priding herself on being a fashionista and living the life of a commercially successful hairstylist, Pill has just one problem: money runs through her hands like water through a sieve. When she taps out her bank account, Pill is forced to realize there are some things the makeup at the MAC counter can't cover, and some burdens her Dooney and Burke bag can't carry.

Living in the shadow of his cousin, Pill's husband of six months, Corey, is trying to forge his own identity with a spiritual foundation. After falling head over heels with the very sexy and self-confident Pill, Corey finds that his treasure of a wife comes with a promissory note. During the course of the Marriage Maintenance class at their church, Corey finds there is no end to their relationship issues. He hopes through prayer and devotion that they can find the source of their own individual pain, so they can heal together.

With Pill and Corey, keeping up with the Joneses means chasing after their own desires on the raw fuel of their convictions.
Excerpt: Chapter 1Pamela Jones Taylor was looking at a pitiful sight nestled in her lap. When she realized she wasn't moving she turned her attention back to the road. She crept toward the exit of the Suburban Banking and Trust lot.

A drizzle was dampening the sign of a homeless man at the corner. It read, Hungary, please help. God Bless. The misspelling was compounding the effect of the man's hopelessness.

"C'mon," she groaned, out of exasperation a few moments later, as a new model Mercedes Benz switched over into the lane she was about to turn into, blocking her exit from the bank parking lot. Three more luxury cars whizzed by her before a soccer mom in a stereotypical minivan, distracted and obviously yelling at several kids, allowed her access to the main road where she sat with the rest of the speed demons at the red light.

The homeless guy could hardly be seen for the Korean man with a pail of roses working the same corner. The homeless man, a wiry dark-skinned man of fifty-something with few personal effects confined to a small duffel bag did have a rain poncho. It was the thin, clear plastic kind with a hood that anyone can buy from the dollar store that made them feel as if they were wearing a plastic bag.

Pam remembered being forced to go into a corner store by her older sister to buy one of those cheap shields herself years ago when she was crowned homecoming queen in her senior year of high school. She remembered how embarrassed she felt encased in plastic like a couch in her Aunt Agnes' living room. She played it off by telling people that she still wanted her outfit to be seen through the transparent shield. Other girls in her homecoming court in anticipation of the rainy forecast went out and bought matching umbrellas and the pink polka dot rain slickers that were high-priced and in style then.

In her Cosmopolitan dreams, she would have done one better and gotten the complimentary designer boots. In reality though, her sister informed her that her homecoming attire was already a luxury they could not afford. Once again she was painfully aware that there was a wide gap between the have and the have nots. The latter was the story of their life with their momma. She decided then that she would not only be among the ones who have, but that she would have it all.

The memory made her sneer at the homeless man as he inched his way toward her car holding his sign at her car window. He had nothing coming. She put her hand up for added emphasis. She had her own problems. She flipped open her pink metallic razor cell phone and adjusted the ear piece. The round knob would not fit comfortably in her ear. She needed a Bluetooth in her life, like the girls at work. She also had her eye on the new iPhones with a built in Mp3 player and touch screen for texting, like Carmen's, the salon owner she worked for. Switching phones meant switching payment plans and since she was now married it would be something else she would have to negotiate with her husband, Corey.

She decided to call Corey and engage him in a little game of bait and catch. He was a ground deliveryman for UPS which made his cell phone his mobile office and made his talk time limited. When they first got married six months ago, she had to get use to their brief check -in calls at least once a day. She figured today it would give her opportunity to gage his mood.

"Everything all right?" Corey asked, after greeting her.

"I have to run into the drugstore. I was wondering do you need anything?"

He did that kind of half-sigh, half-chuckle he sometimes does that she had not quite distinguished between amusement and disgust. "Is that your way of telling me you're going shopping? Knowing you, you'll get to CVS via Macy's, Ann Taylor and Abercrombie and Finch."

At least he had gotten her stores right, she thought. "Excuse me for being considerate of my husband. Isn't that what they tell us in Marriage Maintenance Class?"

"Yeah alright, Pill," Corey said, calling her by her nickname. She could admit that she could be moody at times, add that to her confidence that some would mistake for arrogance and refer to her as 'a trip.' Ms. Tyler, her third grade teacher, trying her best to censor her comments about Pamela's behavior simply wrote in the comment section of her report card, Pamela is quite a pill. Her outburst and overall off-task behavior is a little hard to swallow. The name stuck. She would put her own spin on it when having to explain the sometimes embarrassing nickname by saying, "Whether bitter or sweet, I'm good for ya." Most people elected to call her primarily by her given name, Pamela, or a shortened version, Pam, when they first meet her. Like Corey, they soon switched off and used her nickname once they had ingested a taste of the Pill.

"Keep in mind your booth fee is due today. Don't go spending any money," Corey said.

Apparently she already had spent lots of money and just didn't remember. Shopping gave Pill a high. Sometimes it was as if Pill blacked out after a shopping binge much like an alcoholic that had too much to drink. She couldn't remember what she had bought, especially when trying to hide her purchases from Corey. He had asked her time and time again to write stuff down particularly when the money for those purchases came out of their joint account. In her mind that kind of documentation provided evidence to her husband about her spending that could easily go under the radar. Accounting for every belt, hat, purse, jacket and pocketbook to a man is what she refused to do.

"Well, I put in three hundred fifty for us on that mink coat my mom wanted. Although, I don't know what a 65 year old needs with a fur coat. I didn't look at the ATM receipt for a balance, but I know there should be enough left in the account," Corey said.

Pill almost expelled a sigh of relief into the phone. She was so glad she hadn't tampered with the money for her mother-in-law's gift. Corey told her over a month ago that the two of them would go in with his dad and his only sibling, Danielle, to buy a mink jacket for their mother to show off in when she wore it to church. There was never any denying that Pam was not her mother-in-laws's choice for Corey. Pill didn't know what she had done to the woman, but the air of distrust was immediately apparent upon meeting her. She assumed it was just game recognizing game. Mrs. Jones was spoiled by Corey's father and everyone else in the family. Obviously she didn't want Pill to be the recipient of any generosity Corey may have inherited. Pill would have never been able to live it down if Corey's mother couldn't get her precious mink because they didn't have their share of the money.

In this case, Pill happened to agree with her mother-in-law's fashion sense. A mink coat meant she truly had it going on. Jet Black, she thought, Corey and Danny better had gotten her a black mink that would absolutely sizzle with her salt and pepper hair. Pill dreamed about flossin' in her own mink coat one day, but for now she would settle for a short chinchilla coat with the matching headband.

Recollection of where some of the money went hit her like a thunderbolt. She could see eighty dollars change hands between her and Ahmad, the resident hustle man at Carmen's Epic Beauty salon. He came in the shop twice a month with two large storage tubs and a rickety clothing rack filled with trendy apparel still tagged and on hangers that, "just came in." From where was never questioned.

While her fellow stylists were devouring Baby Phat knock-offs, Pam spotted a camel colored sheerling poncho with the matching alpine boots. It wasn't out for public display, but she had to have it. She remembered the supermodel, Gasselle wearing a similar poncho while riding a white stallion in an ad in the latest issue of Cosmo. Although she knew Ahmad's version wasn't designer, her knock off was definitely better than her co-worker's knockoffs. She went into acquisition mode.

She waited until Ahmad went to the back to question him about his hidden stash. He explained that he had promised the ensemble to his lady friend, but assured her that he could get her one when his cousin went back to New York's garment district. It was a lay-a-way of sorts, which was not their normal way of doing business. His policy when selling was cash-and-carry, and hers when purchasing was cash-on-delivery. She had made an exception that day as she dashed to the ATM, ordering the shampoo girl to put a heat activated conditioner in her next client's hair and set her under a blow dryer to stall for time. She gave him the $80 plus another $ 100 from her smock. She figured since he was going to New York, he might find a pair of Seven jeans she had been wanting.

If Carmen wanted her money on time, she had to stop the vendors from soliciting in her shop, Pill reasoned.

"When I get paid tomorrow the cycle starts all over again." Corey said, interrupting her thoughts.

The cycle he was referring to was their bare bones budget that delineates his first check of the month for the mortgage on their three bedroom townhouse and her earnings going to the other bills. They used his second check to pay the lease on her new Honda Accord and pay insurance, which included a policy on his Corolla that had been paid off long ago. They locked into this schedule during the last month of their marriage prep class and agreed to revisit it. Once a month they attended the Marriage Maintenance class for newlywed couples at church that focused on the emotional, physical and financial side of their relationship now that they have taken the plunge into matrimony.

"You're saying that to say?" Pill said defensively, still trying to account for the extra money she had obviously spent.

"Don't go spending any money. I gotta go. See you later," Corey said. Good-byes were not necessary.

Money from Rosetta's weave that she did on Saturday would give her a quarter of her monthly booth fee, but subtract from her bill money. She did at least call in the digits from her debit card to pay the gas and electric on Monday. Corey had warned her against debiting the account as opposed to taking the money directly to source or mailing it out on time. 'You never knew when they would take their money out your account'. Gosh, she should write this stuff down.

Pill laid her hand on the horn to join in with those cars in front of her showing their displeasure at an eighteen wheeler who was unsuccessful at making a u-turn and was blocking their lanes when the light turned green. Now she would be late for the staff meeting at the salon on top of being late with her booth rental.

The rain hadn't let up and there she sat. The rose man had long since taken cover, leaving the homeless guy with a now drenched cardboard sign in position at the base of the intersection. Pill looked down in her lap. She was indeed witnessing a pitiful sight. Her bank receipt read - $152.00.


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