1st Blog Anniversary Behind The Scenes Thank You

Well, we’ve been celebrating our anniversary all month and the celebration is winding down.

A Very Special Thanks to Special People who have helped me in the first year to make this blog what it is today.

These people are special because they are my back-up strength. None of this would have been possible without their help, since I was new to blogging, I didn’t know much and I needed a little help along the way.

Martha Lane, my very first guest author and All of the Guest Authors, who followed her, who helped to make this blog a success.

Jack Passarella from AuthorPromo.com, who designed my website/blog and answered so many newbie questions.

Patrise Henkel from Clearwellco.com, a marketing communications coach and a member of the Accokeek Women’s Writing Group who has several blogs and has been blogging for a number of years.  She helped me with maximizing my use of wordpress and gave me a few simple tricks.

Heather King, an all-around helper. There is no way I could put into words how much  she has done to help make this dream of mine a reality. Sometimes I could afford to pay her and other times I couldn’t. But she always came through with a finished task.

To these people and others who I didn’t mention, but who helped in some way.

I absolutely am excited about what the next year will bring on this blog. We have some great plans for theme months, such as Celebrity Month, International Month, and Male Authors Month.  Just to name a few ideas.

I would like to raise a ‘virtual glass of sparkling apple cider’ to all of those wonderful people who helped me in so many ways.

Sparkling Apple Cider

THANK YOU SO MUCH!

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Note: Picture thanks to the Internet.

Mourning Another Great Writer – J. California Cooper

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J. California Cooper was a celebrated African American playwright and author.

African American Author, J. California Cooper, dies at 82

The American literary arena will sadly miss J. California Cooper, her pen name.  I had the privilege of talking to Ms. Cooper many times on the phone, but never got the opportunity to meet her in person. She was chosen San Francisco’s Black Playwright of the Year in 1978; and she won the 1989 American Book Award for Homemade Love. One of her short stories, Funny Valentines, was made into a TV movie in 1999. Born Joan Cooper, she had an illustrious career with many accolades over the years.

J. California Cooper wrote about the struggles of black women and always offered wisdom and knowledge as the take away in her books. Alice Walker was a friend and her first publisher in the 1980’s when she suggested that Cooper write books in addition to her many plays.

Cooper was a storyteller for many years; she started by telling stories to her dolls and played with dolls late into her teens (much like my own daughter). She was very down to earth and had a sense of humor that I just loved. Our business conversations sounded more like friends. I emailed her once about our interview on my radio show and she said, “Honey, just call me. It’s easier than me trying to fool with this email stuff.”

I will miss J. California Cooper and her enjoyable writings.

Condolences to her devoted daughter, Paris Williams, and family. The literary world will miss her!

Guest Author Interview – O. H. Bennett

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Title: Recognition: A Novel

Synopsis:This fourth novel by O.H. Bennett represents a departure from his earlier work, characterized by rich depictions of African-American families rendered in quiet but powerfully charged prose. These qualities are present in Recognition, but with the addition of a twisting plot and thriller-like intensity.

Dana, a single-mother, is driving home one rainy evening when, as she passes a homeless panhandler, she recognizes the features of her long-absent husband. Warren Reynolds disappeared from Dana’s life a decade earlier — his body mysteriously missing after a terrible auto accident from which a pregnant Dana was rescued. After glimpsing the man she believes might be her husband, Dana begins surreptitiously searching for him, and is plunged back into memories of the difficulties they were grappling with at the time of Warren’s disappearance. She struggles with whether she can reveal her belief that her husband might be alive to her friends, her in-laws, and, most importantly, her son.

Masterful and psychologically penetrating, Recognition is a taut, engrossing work from a critically acclaimed author. Bennett, known for his terse style and vivid characters rooted in the mainstream of African-American experience, has put his rich, unique, and riveting storytelling talents on full display for all readers.

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Author: O.H. Bennett

CH: O.H. welcome to my blog. Can you sum up your book in 20 words or less? And can you tell us why we should read your book.

OHB: Thank you Cheryl for this chance to connect with your readers.

Driving home one night, a single mother spots a homeless man, who she recognizes as her husband, who supposedly died nine years ago.

I think your readers will enjoy Recognition because it’s fast paced, suspenseful and a human story.  Dana, the mother, is searching for her husband and searching for a way to put her past at rest.  It’s something she prayed for, but never imagine could happen, this chance to piece her life together.

CH: It has been said that you have a story-telling talent. Does story telling come naturally for you or did you have to learn how to do it?

OHB: I think talent is only part of the equation.  The other part, the larger part, is desire.  Whatever it is you want to be a dancer, singer, artist, writer, you need a dose of talent and a whole lot of never quit.  I love hearing stories and reading them.  I love telling them, too.  I’ve always wanted to write.

CH: Was it hard creating believable situations and issues or did you take them from real life?

OHB: I take my stories from real life.  Not necessarily my life, but from the known world around me.  It doesn’t matter if it is literary fiction, science fiction, or urban fiction.  If the readers recognize the characters and can see a bit of themselves in them, then the stories will have weight and be believable.

CH: Is there a message in your novel that you want the readers to grasp?

OHB: I don’t try to stick in a message.  If the story works, the readers will find the messages and they’ll do a better job of finding them than I do.

CH: Where did you get inspiration for your characters?

OHB: The characters come from parts of people I know or have met.  Hopefully they will feel real to readers because they are based on real people.  But no one character is based solely on one person.

CH: Where do your ideas come from? Do you have a standard formula for plots or do stories come to you as a whole concept?

OHB: Stories come to me as single ideas and I jot them down in my journal.  The ones that I find the most compelling end up in my stories.

CH: Since this is a thriller with multiple plots, did you have to do any special research to write this book?

OHB: In Recognition, I used one point of view that of the single mother and teacher, Dana, and let the story unwind as she experiences it.  The story takes place over ground that I’m a little familiar with so not a lot of research was required.  But I am an advocate for due research, anything that will make the story more authentic for the reader.

CH: Did you find anything challenging while writing this book?

OHB: The challenge is always to do what it takes to tell the story and keep the readers interested at the same time.  As Dana, my main character, gets closer to the truth, danger gets closer to her.  Readers have to guess along with her just who is who.

CH: Are there any books or authors that influence you as an author?

OHB: Yes!  Too many to name them all, but a few from the top of my head are Ernest J. Gaines, Edward P. Jones, Toni Morrison, Walter Moseley, Richard Wright, and many others.

CH: Since you are a relatively new writer and this is your fourth book, what attracted you to writing in the first place? How long have you been writing?

OHB: I’ve been writing for a long time.  Decades.  I love reading.  Writing and reading, of course, are different sides of the same coin.

CH: What’s next on the agenda in your writing career?

OHB: I keep writing.  I’m working on a new manuscript right now.  I don’t tell anyone about my stories until I’m past page one hundred.  Story ideas are fragile things.  One wrong, though well-meaning word can kill them.

CH: Do you have a website?

OHB: No, but I invite your readers to check out my Amazon author’s page at www.amazon.com/books/O.-H.-Bennett.

CH: Where is your book sold?

OHB: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, lots of web sites and bookstores.  The good people at Agate Bolden do a great job of getting books by black authors out and available.

CH: Any closing remarks?

OHB: Again, thank you Cheryl for the opportunity and I wish you and your readers all the best.

CH: Thank you so much, O. H. for sharing your new book and part of your writing journey with my audience.  

Readers and followers, please share this post with your friends.

 If you find us deserving, please nominate us for Writer’s Digest “101 Best Sites for Writers.”  Email: writersdig@fwpubs.com with “101 Sites” in the subject line.  Type: “Cheryl Holloway Author Blog http://www.CherylHolloway.net/blog in the body of the email.  It’s that simple!  And “thank you” from all of us!

On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                                                                                                       ~ Cheryl Holloway

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Questions? Comments? Contact : AuthorCherylHolloway@gmail.com or Cheryl@CherylHolloway.net

 

Book Review: Seeds of Magnolia by Bill Miller

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Title: Seeds of Magnolia

Genre: Historical Fiction

Synopsis: The most peaceful years of Austin Miller’s life were before he married. Only he, Sophia and her mother, Elizabeth, were in the house. After his marriage, the house became a hotbed of chaos fueled by overzealous attitudes and unyielding temperaments. His marriage had been strained by adultery, and after it had been patched, they were separated by the war. Sophia’s best friends were three white girls that she grew up with. When seen by someone that did not know them, they would assume that all four were white. The color of their skin would not be enough to tell that one had a trace of black blood in her veins that made her a slave. Appearing to be white did not make a person white, and being black had its’ limitations. Yet, in a small southern town in Tennessee, Sophia ignored the social code regarding interracial relationships. Seeds of Magnolia unveils some of the stories that have been sheltered by the family—stories that have been kept in the closet, swept under the rug, or just gone untold.

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Author: Bill Miller                                                                                                         Note: Bill Miller is a first-time, self-published author.

For those readers who don’t know me, let me preface this book review by saying two things: I dislike historical books; and I dislike books that are almost 450 pages. But I started reading…

Just reading the synopsis captured my attention. This book was an emotional page-turner. I cried, I laughed, and I got angry…throughout the book to the very end.

The story began when Austin Miller purchased Elizabeth as his housekeeper from the Mrs. Taylor. Mr. Taylor had just died and they had recently moved from North Carolina to Tennessee. Mrs. Taylor was happy to get rid of them, since Elizabeth had been raped by Mr. Taylor, and had a baby, Sophia, who strongly resembled Mr. Taylor. Mrs. Taylor did not want to look at Sophia, a toddler, as a constant reminder of her deceased husband’s infidelity.  So, Elizabeth and her child were sold to Austin Miller.

Elizabeth had no idea if the Miller plantation would be any different than the Taylor plantation for their slaves. But indeed the Miller plantation was like no other plantation. On the Miller plantation, Sophia grew up with three playmates and best friends, Caroline, Amanda and Emily. And when people saw the four of them playing together, they assumed they were four white girls, and they didn’t realize that one of the girls was a slave.

Austin Miller was a lawyer, a politician and a wealthy single businessman, who worked long hours and just wanted peaceful evenings, so he didn’t bother correcting slave life at the plantation—as long as it felt right, he was fine. For many years, this was a peaceful life for Austin Miller, his slave housekeeper and her child.

Then Mr. Miller married a rich widow with two children and an arrogant attitude.  Mrs. Miller believed that slaves were at the bottom of the social class, while their owners were at the top of society and she ran her household as such, which contrasted with how Mr. Miller had run the household before his wife’s arrival.

Mrs. Miller had an inimitable personality and there was constant conflict between her and Sophia, who was now a teenager with an attitude, as well. Life happened during the next few years—Magnolia Manor was built, children were born, Mr. Miller was a member of the Senate, adultery scarred their marriage, friends came and friends were lost, love blossomed among slaves at bush harbor, and the family continued to grow in size.

Then the biggest change of all—the Civil War. It divided families, friends, the North and the South, slaves and slave owners. Mr. Miller left for his safety. Generals Grant and Sherman arrived to take over Magnolia Manor. Mrs. Miller and the slaves were left to fend for themselves during this time of destruction.

Absolutely nothing was the same after the Civil War was over. Life and attitudes would never be as they were prior to the war.

So much happened and I just couldn’t put the book down. When I finished reading, it was a sigh of relief and happiness, because my thirst had been quenched. I always enjoy it when an author mixes both history and fiction to make a truly believable and spell-bounding story.

There were some minor editing issues—misspelled and omitted words—that I attributed to the length of the book…450 pages. I am looking forward to the sequel. After reading Seeds of Magnolia, I can no longer say that I dislike historical books. LOL.

I wish Bill Miller much success in his writing endeavors.

I rate this book…

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DISCLAIMER

Endorsement Disclaimer: All reviews posted on this site and written by Cheryl Holloway are personal opinions of the book by the reviewer. The reviews are NOT paid endorsements of the book or the author. They are not advertisements. All reviews are honest, forthright and the opinion of the individual reviewer, freely given. Our opinions are not for sale.

Guest Author Interview – Stacy Campbell

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Title: Forgive Me

Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction

Synopsis: In this fast-paced sequel to the debut novel, Dream Girl Awakened, five characters come to grips with their pasts amidst broken friendships, infidelity, grief, and loss.

Aruba Dixon has hit rock bottom. After two years of marriage, her second husband has died of Lou Gehrig’s disease, and she finds herself wanting to end it all. A botched suicide attempt makes her parents reach out to her ex-husband, James, for assistance. Up until that late-night phone call, James is living the golden life of success and wealth, but now everything is about to spin out of control… Meanwhile, Tawatha Gibson is grateful for the chance to be free again. After serving five years in prison, she is released on a technicality. Though shunned from those she loves most, Tawatha clings to the dream that she will be given another chance to start anew. But when her daughter, Aunjanue, learns about her release from prison, she’s not sure she can celebrate her mother’s freedom, let alone forgive her.

Then there’s Victoria Faulk, who struggles with forgiving and forgetting. After a messy divorce, she wrestles with feelings of inadequacy and doubt. When her new beau, Emory Wilkerson, proposes in front of family and friends, she knows she’ll never be happy until she forgives the one person who hurt her—her old “friend,” Aruba Dixon.

As the events unfold around the lives of these women, they face the challenge of letting go of the past and building new bonds. Will they come full circle and learn to move on, or will their past mistakes follow them forever?

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Author: Stacy Campbell

CH: Welcome, Stacy. Thank you for joining me and allowing my readers to get to know you and your writing. 

CH: Please tell us in one sentence, why we should read your book? 

SC: Readers should read Forgive Me to understand the beauty of letting go of grudges and forgiving others.

CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your type of writing? 

SC: My type of writing is different because I write about things people say could never happen to them, but may in fact, can.  I like to explore themes of relationships, love, and why it’s important to stay connected to those we love. Also, there’s something about the concept of the grass being greener on the other side that intrigues me.  I’ve seen so many friendships and relationships crumble due to this myth. I say, “Water your own grass!”

CH: How long have you been writing? How did you start writing? 

SC: I’ve been writing since I was younger; I began to take the craft seriously about twelve years ago by entering contests, workshops, and applying for grants.  I realized, although I love literary fiction, lots of subjects fascinate me and I can tell a tale more than one way.

CH: When you are coming up with a new idea for a book, do you look at the market for trends? Or do you just write your own story?

SC: I write my own stories, or what I call heart stories. I tackle things that I know or things I’m willing to research. Trend following is too tricky and too unpredictable. There is only one, The Help. There is only one, The Fault In Our Stars. There is only one, Addicted.  (Let’s face it, Zane cracked the erotica market years ago.) By the time an author jumps on the trend bandwagon, a new wave of themes hits the bestseller lists and writers are stuck with imitations. There is nothing new under the sun, but the way an author spins the tale, their heart story, makes the difference.

CH: That’s a great way to look at trends. So, what inspired you to write Forgive Me

SC: Forgive Me is the sequel to my first novel, Dream Girl Awakened. Readers contacted me about the story and wanted to know what happened to the three main characters. Forgive Me takes place five years later and looks at the lives of the key players from book one.

CH: Did you find anything challenging while writing this book?  

SC: I wanted to make sure the characters grew. That was a challenge for me because one character is still stuck on stupid. (Yes, they’re my children, so I can talk about them.) I also wanted to paint a realistic portrait of the fall-out of infidelity.  Once I started the story, it came together for me.

CH: Did you have to do any special research to write this book? 

SC: I researched my local prison system and talked to lots of my educator friends, who helped me with field trip protocol, teaching, etc.

CH: What genre are you most comfortable writing?

SC: Contemporary Women’s Fiction.

CH: Who was your favorite character to write? 

SC: Victoria Faulk. I hated her the most when I started writing book one, but had so much compassion for her by the end of both books. She was truly a victim of circumstance. 

CH: Take us through your writing process. When you get an idea, do you map out the book beforehand, or do you allow the characters to write their own story? 

SC: I wrote the first two books freestyle because the stories flowed quickly. I have discovered a great tool called the Ten Scene Plotting Tool. It was created by James V. Smith and the twelve beat script plot. The chart is designed to eliminate writer’s block and give the writer a big picture look at the story so ideas will flow. It is available at http://www.kkitts.net/downloads/files/TenScenePlot.pdf.   I can attest that this helped me with book three tremendously. So, I am more open to plotting and outlining now.

CH: Do you have plans for a new book? 

SC: Yes. Wouldn’t Change A Thing, my third novel, will be released in the summer of 2015.  On the morning of her engagement party, Atlanta architect Antoinette Williamson awakens to her family’s secret of mental illness on the front page of the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. The story explores mental illness in the African-American community and how far one family member goes to protect her niece.

CH: Do you have a website? 

SC: Readers can reach me at www.stacyloveswriting.com. The site is being revamped, but I’m also reachable at my email address georgiapeach2814@aol.com.

CH: Where are your books sold? 

SC: They are available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo.com. You can also order the books directly from me through PayPal.

CH: Any Closing Remarks? 

SC: Thanks so much for having me on your blog. I appreciate the support and look forward to hearing from readers and writers.  Also, I hope aspiring authors know that anything is possible and to never give up on their writing dreams.

CH: Thank you, Stacy, and thank you for sharing your book with my audience and your writing journey. I wish you much success for your writing career.  

 

Readers and followers, please share this post with your friends.

 If you find us deserving, please nominate us for Writer’s Digest “101 Best Sites for Writers.”  Email: writersdig@fwpubs.com with “101 Sites” in the subject line.  Type: “Cheryl Holloway Author Blog http://www.CherylHolloway.net/blog in the body of the email.  It’s that simple!  And “thank you” from all of us!

On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                                                                                                       ~ Cheryl Holloway

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Questions? Comments? Contact : AuthorCherylHolloway@gmail.com or Cheryl@CherylHolloway.net

1st Blog Anniversary: Ten Things I’ve Learned About Blogging That Successful Bloggers Know by Cheryl Holloway

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10 Things Ive learned

I’ve been writing on my blog for one year and I have over 100 posts. In that year,  I’ve learned ten things that successful bloggers know.  They are:

  1. Blog Readers are important.  My blog readers mean the world to me! I love each and every one of them, especially those who take the time out of their busy schedule to visit my blog. I just wish I could meet more than one blog reader at a time.
  1. Writing for readers is even more important. I enjoy writing for my readers. Good appearance, proper grammar and topics of interest are at the top of the list.
  1. Building a blog is difficult. You can’t build a blog over night.  You have to be realistic in your expectations. So, I try to build my blog by writing more good posts and by giving the readers what they request.
  1. You can’t blog all the time. Sometimes, life gets in the way and you have to take a break. I try to blog as often as I can.
  1. Blog on a regular basis. You need to blog at least 2-3 times a week. Often, life gets in the way and I can’t blog as many times as I have planned.
  1. Blog about varied topics. I have to change things up from time-to-time. I try to write when I have interesting thoughts. I want to give my readers something different, and I don’t want to be like everyone else.
  1. Bloggers need to tell readers about themselves. I try to tell a little bit about myself. A short bio is listed on the blog, but the best bio is listed on my website.     I try to give you a peak into my life then and now. I like just being me.
  1. Other bloggers are willing to help. From time-to-time, I need suggestions and help from other bloggers. I also post on other blogs for writers.
  1. Blog reader comments are sparse. Comments don’t come as often as I’d like. Blog readers care…they just don’t comment much. I only get a few comments—but the ones I get are great!
  2.  Bloggers love blogging.  I love blogging! (And I love writing, too!) So, I will be around for years to come.

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  • Celebrity Guest Author Interview – Marissa Monteilh

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    Title: You’ve Got It Bad: Dr. Feelgood Sequel

    Genre: Women’s Fiction

    Synopsis:The good doctor, Dr. Makkai Worthy, returns as Dr. Feelgood in the steamy sequel of a handsome, popular heart surgeon who repairs hearts in his professional life, yet breaks them in his personal life. Dr. Makkai Worthy’s daughter Fonda is now five-years old, and her mother, Monday Askins, who abandoned Fonda after giving birth, is back, and she vows to make good on her threat to get her daughter if it’s the last thing she does. Dr. Feelgood is unattached after his split from Mary Jane Cherry, and his life-saving hands are full, as his love of women again rules his rolling stone life. But one sequence of dramatic events leads to another, and if Dr. Feelgood plans to save himself, he’ll need to break the generational curses that bind and face some unexpected truths. Will his love of women continue to rule his world, or will he break all the rules and prove to himself, that having it bad, ain’t good?

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    Author: Marissa Monteilh

    CH: I am so pleased to present to you today, our Celebrity Guest Author, Marissa Monteilh, who is the author of over twenty books and originally self-published her first book. Since then, she has won numerous awards for her literary contributions. 

    CH: Marissa, thank you for joining us and welcomePlease tell us in 20 words or less why we should read your book?

    MM: If you’ve ever fallen for a player; yet, wondered why he played and you stayed, read the Dr. Feelgood series.

    CH: Tell us a little bit about your book. Where did you get the premise for this series?

    MM: I met a young man whose rolling stone father had nearly one-hundred children, most of whom he’d never met. This young man admitted that he himself was unable to be monogamous because he simply craved women. I wanted to show what that looked like and felt like. Dr. Makkai Worthy is a handsome, successful heart surgeon, and he’s talented in the bedroom. His skills drive women crazy. Chaos ensures, especially once Dr. Feelgood discovers more about his own father’s life. Once his past meets his present, it changes his future. You’ve Got It Bad picks up where Dr. Feelgood leaves off.

    CH: Where do your ideas come from? Do you have a standard formula for plots or do stories come to you as a whole concept?

    MM: Random concepts come to me while I’m driving, while I’m in the shower, or even while I’m falling asleep. Also, ideas come from conversations with people, news stories, talk show subjects, or when I’m listening to a song. I begin to wonder what that certain situation would look like in a novel. Stories come to me as a situational idea, and I develop it further.

    CH: Is this the last book in this series?

    MM: Yes, You’ve Got It Bad is the absolute last book in the series. I am proud of the directions that the original title and the sequel have taken, though I will miss the sexy antics of Dr. Makkai Worthy.

    CH: Do you get continual feedback from your readers on a series?

    MM: I do get continual feedback from readers. Some agree with my character’s choices, and some do not. Readers are good about sharing which characters they liked the most, and those they love to hate. Some want their own Dr. Feelgood, because like Aretha Franklin sang, he knows how to make a woman feel real, real good!

    CH: Was it hard creating believable situations and issues or did you take them from real life?

    MM: My situations are not from my real life, but perhaps the life of someone I don’t know that I find interesting. For me, creating believable situations is about having a good understanding of who my characters are; yet, allowing them to surprise even me. Even a far-fetched scenario can be believable and fit, if it’s written well.

    CH: How long does it take you to write one of your books?

    MM: I can write a book in three months, though I prefer the luxury of one year. I can have my first draft done pretty quickly, say in a month. My first drafts are mainly dialogue, and then as I layer and edit, layer and edit, it takes on a life of its own.

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    Marissa’s office, where she created a menagerie of characters, including Dr. Feelgood.

    CH: For all of your books, how many genres have you written? Are there any other genres that you would like to write a book?

    MM: I’ve written in three genres thus far: women’s fiction, erotica, and now non-fiction with my September 2014 title, The Mind of a Woman: 365 Relationship Scenario Discussion Questions. I will venture into interracial romance in 2015.

    CH: Who was your favorite character to write?

    MM: My favorite character to write was in The Six-Letter Word. The main character, McKenzie Livingston, dealt with a less than perfect marriage, while facing the realities of cervical cancer. She moved me and inspired me, and I enjoyed creating her; yet, she’s no different than so many brave women facing the realities of a crumbling marriage, and/or cancer.

    CH: Are any of the characters similar to you?

    MM: Perhaps, Dr. Feelgood’s mom, Corrine Worthy is a bit similar to me. She’s experienced infidelity, loss, love, growth and setbacks; and has settled down after raising her kids. She’s also admitted her sins. She loves her son unconditionally, and desires for him to be happy. She knows that no one is perfect, and embraces her faults as opportunities to grow. I can totally relate to that.

    CH: Where did you get inspiration for Dr. Feelgood?

    MM: I got inspiration for Dr. Feelgood after seeing so many women who fell for the handsome, successful man, who admittedly tells them that he doesn’t want to settle down, but they believe they can change him. This book isn’t so much about players, as it’s really about the women who love them.

    CH: How long did it take you to write your first novel? Were any subsequent books harder to write than the first?

    MM: My first novel was May December Souls, and I wrote it in about nine months. It’s semi-autobiographical, so it’s very special to me. The book that was harder to write was one of my erotic titles, Politics. Escorts. Blackmail. My editor, Latoya Smith, challenged me to tighten it up, in particular the political scenes, and there were times when I wanted to pull my hair out, but I stuck with it and successfully completed what I believe to be one of my best titles.

    CH: Is there a message in your novel that you want the readers to grasp?

    MM: The message in You’ve Got It Bad is one of forgiveness. Saying the words, “I forgive you,” is tough, but it is so very necessary, not only for the person we’re saying it to, but even more so, for ourselves.

    CH: Is it somewhat difficult keeping a consistent persona in a character when they’re going throughout a Series?

    MM: For me, writing sequels is sometimes easier, because I start out already knowing those characters. It’s like a reunion, so it’s not at all difficult.

    CH: Where can we find your website?

    MM: My website is www.marissamonteilh.com.There you will find my contact info, synopses of my titles, tour dates, and links to my social media pages.

    CH: Where are your books sold?

    MM: My books are available wherever books are sold, as well as online. My eBooks are available on Amazon.com, IBooks.com, or BN.com.

    CH: Any Closing Remarks? 

    MM: I’d just like to thank you Cheryl Holloway Robinson and Just About Books for this opportunity. I appreciate your interest, time, and support!

    CH: You are quite welcome and thank you for sharing your writing experience and your book series with my readers. Marissa, it has been a great experience talking with you. We wish you unlimited success in your literary career. 

    Note: Photos are compliments of Marissa Monteilh.

    CH: Share it, if you like it. I’m counting on you!

    Don’t Keep this Blog a Secret…Tell Your Friends about it!                                             Readers and followers, please share this post with your friends.

     If you find us deserving, please nominate us for Writer’s Digest “101 Best Sites for Writers.”  Email: writersdig@fwpubs.com with “101 Sites” in the subject line.  Type: “Cheryl Holloway Author Blog http://www.CherylHolloway.net/blog in the body of the email.  It’s that simple!  And “thank you” from all of us!

    On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                                                                                                       ~ Cheryl Holloway

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    Happy 1st Anniversary to the Cheryl Holloway Blog!

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    I’m so excited because today is a very special day for me. It is the very first anniversary of the Cheryl Holloway Blog!

    I am so very happy about my decision to start writing this blog. It has allowed me to connect with many, many people—writers and readers—from around the world. It has been a pleasure over the past year of providing author interviews with Cheryl Holloway, offering great books to read, and valuable writing tips. I’ve had authors from 5 countries—United States, Canada, Sweden, Cuba, and the United Kingdom.

    I never thought that I would learn so much about blogging in one year, but it has been a really great experience. There have been 100+ posts and 50+ authors featured. I am happy to say, “The Cheryl Holloway blog will continue to be a reality and we will see what happens in the years to come.”

    It would never have been possible without the support of all of you! Here is a GIGANTIC THANK YOU to all of my readers and followers. Thank You So Much for your dedicated support, valuable feedback, and much-appreciated comments, whether you visited once or whether you’re a subscriber.

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    Guest Author Interview – Bill Miller

    header1_An Author Writes

    Seeds of Magnolia_Cover

    Title: Seeds of Magnolia

    Genre: Historical

    Synopsis: The most peaceful years of Austin Miller’s life were before he married. Only he, Sophia and her mother, Elizabeth, were in the house. After his marriage, the house became a hotbed of chaos fueled by overzealous attitudes and unyielding temperaments. His marriage had been strained by adultery, and after it had been patched; they were separated by the war. Sophia’s best friends were three white girls that she grew up with. When seen by someone that did not know them, they would assume that all four were white. The color of their skin would not be enough to tell that one had a trace of black blood in her veins that made her a slave. Appearing to be white did not make a person white, and being black had its’ limitations. Yet, in a small southern town in Tennessee, Sophia ignored the social code regarding interracial relationships. Seeds of Magnolia unveils some of the stories that have been sheltered by the family—stories that have been kept in the closet, swept under the rug, or just gone untold.

    Bill Miller

    Author: Bill Miller

    CH: Welcome, Bill. Thank you for joining me and allowing my readers to get to know you and generations of your family. The first question I have for you is can you please tell us in one sentence, why we should read your book.

    BM: It was rare, but for a few people, Seeds of Magnolia describes a brighter side of the darkest chapter in our country’s history which was slavery, and that makes it a worthwhile read.

    CH: What attracted you to write your ancestor’s history?

    BM: I wanted to write about them because I don’t want them to be forgotten.  The things that I wrote about are things that were told to me by my father and his brothers and sisters, stories that have been handed down from one generation to the next.

    I think, I’m the only one that remembers these stories anymore.  Recording them in the format of a book is my way of putting them in a place for safe-keeping.

    CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your historical writing?

    BM: When we read about slavery, we know that sooner or later, we’ll get to the page that tells us about the chains and shackles.  But this time, there are no chains and no shackles.

    The setting for Seeds of Magnolia is Bolivar, Tennessee, at the mansion referred to as Magnolia Manor.  It was built by Austin Miller, and it’s still there today; still being used.

    Magnolia Manor is a place where a slave girl was allowed to grow up and experience a lifestyle more like that of a well to-do white girl.  It was a place where she could sometimes almost forget that she was a slave.

    During the Civil War, Generals Grant, Sherman, Logan and McPherson used Magnolia Manor as their headquarters.

    When General Grant knocked on the door, it was my great grandmother, a slave named Sophia that let them in.

    Also, most books written about slavery are told from the viewpoint of someone on the outside looking in.  Seeds of Magnolia is told from the viewpoint of someone on the inside looking out.  That person on the inside being a slave. 

    CH: Did you have to do any special research to write this book?

    BM: There were some things that I had to research.  Maybe some of it was just to satisfy my own curiosity.  I always knew that my great-grandfather died at his plantation in Mississippi, but I never knew the cause of death.  I had to do some research to find out.

    I knew that he was born in Guilford County, North Carolina, but I had to do some research to find out when he moved to Hardeman County, Tennessee.

    So, there were a few things that I had to research, but most of the things that I wrote about were tucked away in my mind.  I just had to get it properly arranged and put into words. 

    CH: Who was your favorite family member to write about or describe?

    BM: That’s an easy question to answer.  Sophia was my favorite, and its’ probably reflected in my writing.  I felt a lot of compassion whenever my writing took me to her. She had the starring role, and I fell in love with her.

    I loved describing the free-spirited lifestyle that Austin Miller allowed her to have.  I knew that he let her live that lifestyle, but when I started writing about it, it drew me closer to him.

    While writing, I was always asking questions of myself.  Questions like, why did he allow her to be the way that she was …letting her learn how to read and write? Since she had spent a lifetime in his house, did he not see her as a slave …maybe because her skin was so white? Did the time ever come when he was in love with her?

    Although I asked the questions, I knew that there would be no answers …just lots of questions.

    CH: Was it painful to revisit some of the family issues or to talk about the situations for the first time in the book?

    BM: It was painful describing how Sophia fell in love with a boy while attending church every Sunday at the bush harbor.

    A bush harbor is a lattice like framework with tree branches placed on top to block the sun.

    They looked forward to seeing each other every Sunday, and then one Sunday she went there to find out that he had been sold and taken away.  He was the first boy that she had ever loved.

    I found it very painful when I wrote about Sophia begging Mrs. Miller not to put her on the auction block and sell her.  That was the most painful part of the entire book.

    I became very emotional writing about it.  I’ve never told anyone before, but my eyes were filled with tears while I was writing.

    CH: Are there any books that influenced you while writing this book?

    BM: There were no other influences.  I was driven by the fact that I wanted to preserve what I know about my family’s heritage.  I know that when I die, there won’t be anyone else to tell the stories, and the stories will die with me.  They’ll be gone forever.

    CH: What pitfalls have you run into as a new author? 

    BM: Marketing is my biggest hurdle. There are a lot of authors, and it’s hard for a rookie to step onto the stage with them and be recognized.  It’s much easier to write a book than it is to sell one.

    CH: You are so right about marketing and if an author doesn’t know that, they will soon learn it. So, who is your favorite author? Why?

    BM: I don’t have a favorite author, but two of my favorite books are (1) This I Believe and (2) Physics for Future Presidents by Richard Muller.

    CH: What book are you currently reading?

    I just bought a copy of Dr. Ben Carson’s book, One Nation, but I haven’t read it yet.  When I have time to read, it’s usually college text books.  I like reading about science and history.

    CH: On Amazon, you had 7 out of 7 five star reviews, and most of them wanted to see a movie. So, are there any other plans for this book? Any movie deals?

    BM: No movie deals yet, but I believe that Seeds of Magnolia would be a great movie; set during the pre-post Civil War era with a completely different twist—one that’s real.

    Every day, I hope that someone in the movie industry will hear about it and read it, and say, “yes, let’s do it.”

    That’s having high expectations, but I think it’s realistic and not farfetched. The right person just has to read it.

    CH: What’s next on the agenda in your writing career?

    BM: Seeds of Magnolia is nonfiction. I could follow up with a sequel, but it might get me in trouble, because too many people would be too close to what I write.

    But I am writing another book now; it’s fiction.

    CH: Do you have a website?

    BM: Yes, I have a website. It’s www.billmillerbooks.com

    CH: Where is your book sold?

    BM: Amazon sells the hardcopy.  It’s also available as an eBook at Amazon Kindle.

    CH: Any closing remarks?

    BM: I don’t know any of my white relatives anymore.  I would like to meet them and shake their hand, and maybe embrace each other, if they’re so inclined.

    I suppose that someday some of them will read Seeds of Magnolia.  When they do, they’ll probably read about some things that they would rather I had left in the closet.  At the same time, I think, they will realize that I remembered to write with dignity.

    Austin Miller owned my family as slaves.  In spite of that, I’m proud of my family heritage; I’m proud of who I am, and I’m proud of what I am.

    It was wrong for him to own us, but still, I can’t make myself hate him, probably because I don’t want to, because he and Sophia are my great grandparents.

     CH: Thank you, Bill, and thank you for sharing your book, and the generations of the Miller family with my audience.  

     

    Don’t Keep this Blog a Secret…Tell Your Friends about it!                                             Readers and followers, please share this post with your friends.

     If you find us deserving, please nominate us for Writer’s Digest “101 Best Sites for Writers.”  Email: writersdig@fwpubs.com with “101 Sites” in the subject line.  Type: “Cheryl Holloway Author Blog http://www.CherylHolloway.net/blog in the body of the email.  It’s that simple!  And “thank you” from all of us!

    On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                                                                                                       ~ Cheryl Holloway

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    Questions? Comments? Contact : AuthorCherylHolloway@gmail.com or Cheryl@CherylHolloway.net

     

    Happy Labor Day from Cheryl Holloway

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    Labor Day is always held on the first Monday of September. It was originally organized to celebrate various labor organizations in the United States, so it is distinctly an American holiday. Labor Day is generally considered the end of the summer and a last chance for family trips or outdoor events before fall and winter.

    The first Labor Day was held in 1882 in New York City. It is believed that one of the reasons for choosing to celebrate it on the first Monday in September was to add a holiday between Independence Day and Thanksgiving.

    Well, it’s Labor Day already and my summer flew by as usual. I’m busy writing an eBook, Cougar Tales: Book 3: Food For The Soul and a traditional book, How To Enhance Your Life with Prayer.

    But most of all, Labor Day reminds me of my father, Willie Harold Holloway. He worked in the Steel Mill Industry. And above all else, my dad believed in working hard, paying his own way and buying American made products. He instilled this in me at an early age.

    So, I pay tribute to my dad on this Labor Day 2014.  I am proud to be the kind of hard worker who could make my father proud.

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    Note; Clip art compliments of Internet.

    Guest Author Interview – Stela Brinzeanu

    header1_An Author Writes

    Bessarabian Nights_Cover

    Title: Bessarabian Nights

    Genre: Contemporary Fiction

    Synopsis: The upshot of the dilemma between sacrifice and desire? – It’s not betraying your destiny but creating it! The novel explores issues besetting contemporary Moldova. Its plot rests on modern topics, such as economic migration, the East/West culture-clash, the sexual exploitation of East European women and the role of local religion – which has a penchant for the sensational – in the psychological makeup of these victims. The book is given life and flavor by the tumultuous human stories, which form the pulsating heartbeat of the novel. Perhaps sometimes the devil you know is more dangerous than the one you don’t.

    Stela Brinzeanu

    Author: Stela Brinzeanu

    CH: Welcome, Stela. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to share your writing world and the world of Moldova with my audience.

    CH: Please tell us in 20 words or less why we should read your book?

    SB: You will discover a new world—The world of Moldova.

    CH: What inspired you to write Bessarabian Nights?

    SB: The story of a girl from our community, who disappeared for a few years and who upon her return was a changed person. She never said where she had been or what happened to her. The rumors were she had been a sex slave abroad. That was my starting point.

    CH: Where are you from? Does your background have any influence on this book?

    SB: I was born and raised in Moldova until the age of 18, when I moved to London. The book is about the culture and the people of Moldova, a country, which is known (unfortunately) as a hot hub for trafficking in Eastern Europe.

    CH: Since the topic is about a very sensitive and political issue, did you have to do any special research to write this book?

    SB: I traveled to Moldova twice in order to speak to victims of human trafficking, as well as liaising with local NGO’s (non-governmental organisation).

    CH: Most of the situations are taken from real life, how did you intertwine facts and fiction?

    SB: I chose real life events and built a story around them. Once I had picked the subject and have done the research, the plot emerged as I got to writing.

    CH: Where did you get inspiration for your characters come from?

    SB: It came from all of the years I lived in Moldova—family, friends and people I knew, met or read about in the Moldovan press.

    CH: Was it difficult trying to create your characters? And who is your favorite character?

    SB: It was not difficult to create the characters, only time-consuming. Like with real life friendships, characters also appreciate nurturing. I don’t have a favorite—they are all my children.

    CH: Do you have a support system and if so, who does it consist of?

    SB: My partner is the first person to read anything I write. Then, there is my editor, who despite living in a different country, works with me on a regular basis.

    CH: What kind of feedback are you getting from readers of the book?

    SB: The response I’ve had so far has been mixed. Some readers loved it, others not so much. Like with anything that is subjective, the reactions are always going to vary from one to another.

    CH: Do you write full-time or part-time?

    SB: I am currently writing full-time.

    CH: Is there a “universal message” in your novel that you want the readers to grasp?

    SB: No messages. Just storytelling.

    CH: Do you have a website?

    SB: Yes, www.stelabrinzeanu.com 

    CH: Where are your books sold?

    SB: Amazon

    CH: Any Closing Remarks?

    SB: Do you really know who your neighbors are?

    CH: Thank you, Stela, and thank you for sharing your book, the world of Moldova and the issue of human trafficking with my audience.  

     

    Don’t Keep this Blog a Secret…Tell Your Friends about it!                                 Readers and followers, please share this post with your friends.

     If you find us deserving, please nominate us for Writer’s Digest “101 Best Sites for Writers.”  Email: writersdig@fwpubs.com with “101 Sites” in the subject line.  Type: “Cheryl Holloway Author Blog http://www.CherylHolloway.net/blog in the body of the email.  It’s that simple!  And “thank you” from all of us!

    On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                                                                                                       ~ Cheryl Holloway

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    Writers Networking…Just A Thought

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    Networking

    I’m not much of a social media person, so I think networking should be face-to-face, instead of online. Saturday, I had the opportunity to network with five very diverse writers…from all genres.

    We discussed agents, publishers, marketing, families and just writing. One of the ladies was a little shy, but once we started talking, she chimed in also.

    The more we talked, the more acquainted we became; and we began to be writer friends, instead of writer acquaintances. We were in different writing clubs/groups and shared our experiences and thoughts. We had fun and learned a few things from each other. It was a basic exchange of information applicable to writers.

    At the end of the day, we exchanged business cards. And surprisingly enough, we decided to buy each others books.

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    Guest Author Interview – Andrew J. Rodriguez

    header1_An Author Writes

    Santa Rita Stories_Cover

    Title: Santa Rita Stories

    Genre: Fiction

    Synopsis: Welcome to Santa Rita, a Cuban fishing town populated by a colorful cast of saints and sinners, con men and fishermen, athletes and hunchbacks, politicians and priests…where everyone eventually knows everyone else’s business and the collective memory reaches backward for generations. To help him unravel the deeply rooted traditions and gossip of this tropical melting pot, fifteen-year-old Carlos turns often to his friend Pedro, a foul-smelling, cigar-chomping vagrant who lives on the docks and is affectionately known as el Viejo—the Old Man. In the course of ten linked stories, Andy Rodriguez brings to vivid life the rhythms of daily life in mid-1950’s Cuba, and the transition from Carlos’s carefree, nurturing childhood to his awakening to the responsibilities—and possibilities—of young manhood. Carlos resists authority; but he can’t resist Pedro’s wisdom as the Old Man dispenses advice about everything from the proper method of romantic kissing, to how to avoid judging a book by its cover—dramatized by a tale of Ernest Hemingway and an encounter with a Nazi spy. By the final story, just as Carlos longs to escape the restrictions of a small town and spread his wings in the big city of Havana, we also long, right along with him, to linger forever in the magical, love-filled world of Santa Rita.

    Andrew J. Rodriguez

    Author: Andrew J. Rodriguez

    CH: Welcome, Andrew.  Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to join us on my blog. Please tell us in one sentence, why we should read your book

    AJR: I’d like 21st Century Americans to read about Cuban values and lifestyles before the communist revolution.

    CH: What attracted you to write these stories about “saints and sinners” in a fishing town?

    AJR: I grew up in a small fishing town surrounded by colorful characters, including, but not limited to “saints and sinners.”

    CH: Where are you from? Does your background have any influence on this book?

    AJR: I escaped Castro’s communist Cuba in 1961. I lived part of my childhood in a small fishing town and studied my career in a Havana University.  Though a book of fiction, Santa Rita Stories were inspired by my upbringing.

    CH: Did you find anything challenging while writing this book?

    AJR: Yes. My challenge was to present this book in an easy reading style to be enjoyed by readers of all ages and backgrounds.

    CH: How long have you been writing? How did you start writing?

    AJR: I’ve been writing for the last twenty years, and published five books during this time. I was initiated into writing by a strong desire to express myself in meaningful ways.

    CH: Is there a famous or not-so-famous author that you would aspire to be like?

    AJR: I’ve been inspired by authors of different genres, especially Hemingway.  I don’t aspire to be like any present-day writer.

    CH: How long did it take you to write this novel?

    AJR: It took about two years. Definitely, longer than it should have taken.

    CH: Can you tell us about your publishing journey? Are Cuban publishers any different from American publishers?

    AJR: I don’t know of any Cuban-Americans involved in the publishing business.  On the other hand, I am familiar with Cuban-American writers, such as Carlos Eire, Waiting for Snow in Havana.

    In pre-revolution days, however, Cuba generated a plethora of poets and writers, most of whom I greatly admired.

    As to the difference between American and Latin writers, American authors usually go straight to the point, while their Cuban counterparts use more words to paint the same picture.  Especially in sentimental situations, Cuban writers lean much more toward romanticism.

    CH: Do you have a website?

    AJR: My website is www.Outskirtspress.com/SantaRitaStories. As I said previously, I’d like 21st Century Americans to read about Cuban values and lifestyles before the communist revolution.

    CH: Where are your books sold?

    AJR: My books are sold on Amazon in paperback and Kindle, on Barnes and Noble, also in paperback and Nook. It is also sold by the publisher at outskirtspress.com

    CH: Any closing Remarks?

    AJR: For some reason, emotional perhaps, I feel Santa Rita Stories is thus far my favorite among the other four books that I’ve written. Thank you for your interest.

    CH: Thank you, Andrew, and thank you for sharing your novel and creating awareness about Cuban values and lifestyles.  

     

    Readers and followers, please share this post with your friends.

     If you find us deserving, please nominate us for Writer’s Digest “101 Best Sites for Writers.”  Email: writersdig@fwpubs.com with “101 Sites” in the subject line.  Type: “Cheryl Holloway Author Blog http://www.CherylHolloway.net/blog in the body of the email.  It’s that simple!  And “thank you” from all of us!

    On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                                                                                                       ~ Cheryl Holloway

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    Questions? Comments? Contact : AuthorCherylHolloway@gmail.com or Cheryl@CherylHolloway.net