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?