Sandra Williams – Guest Author Interview

Look With Me

Title: Look With Me

Synopsis: Look With Me is a book of poetry storytelling for toddlers and preschoolers. It includes three short stories that provide stepping-stones of adventure as seen through the eyes of a child. The words and illustrations encourage little thinkers (our children) to speak about what they see. Read along with your children and help them explore the world they see, hear and imagine. Looking is part of the adventure in every child’s journey of exploration. Encourage children to speak and share their thoughts as you dialogue with them about all the things that they see. One story, “Looking Together” is especially dedicated to children without sight. Looking is not just about what is seen with the eyes, but what you hear and feel in your heart and mind. The book is written and designed to encourage children to talk and share ideas as each story ends with a question.

Sandra Williams

Author: Sandra Williams

I invited today’s Guest Author, Sandra Williams, to my Blog to answer a few questions about her writing and her book.

CH: Please tell us what inspired you to write this charming children’s book?

SW: It has always been my desire to write children’s books.  I believe it was God’s divine order and appointed time for me to do this.   After retiring from a career in human resources, I begin to pray and diligently seek God.  In prayer I was seeking to fully understand my purpose and what I needed to do with the gifts I had been given.  At the time of my retirement, I had two grandchildren and before long I had three.  It was after the birth of my third grandchild that I really pursued my dream of becoming an author.  From my daily interactions with my grandchildren, I begin to get ideas and started to develop poems on various topics.  Therefore, I consider my three grandchildren as the primary source of my inspiration.

CH: Who is the illustrator and how did you find an illustrator?

SW: This book has two illustrators.  They are Rev. Wendell Washington and his daughter Isia Washington.  Rev. Wendell and his wife are long time friends of mine and I was familiar with his artistic gifts, of which he has many.  His daughter, Isia, is following in his footsteps and is also a very gifted artist.  Approximately twenty years ago, the Lord told me I would work with Rev. Wendell on a major project.  At the time I received this message, I had something else in mind.  However, I had no idea as to when the opportunity would manifest. When I started along the path of doing a children’s picture book, I knew without a doubt that I wanted him to provide the illustrations. Although I know several artists, I knew Rev. Wendell had to be the one to illustrate this first book.  Rev. Wendell and Isia did an excellent job and they exceeded my highest expectations.  They did greater than I had even imagined.  I was more than pleased with the illustrations and I felt completely affirmed with the word I had received from God many years ago.  I have already asked them to take on the project of illustrating my next book.

CH: Can you tell my audience a little about reading your book to small children?

SW: My book is an interactive reader and is intended to engage children in a dialogue. There are three stories and each story contains questions to solicit a response and every story ends with a question.  The objective is to encourage children to become good observers, good listeners, and to talk about what they see.  Not only do I want children to talk about what they see in the book, but  I also want them to talk about what they observe in the environment that surrounds them. When reading to a group of children, I will sometimes read through a story and then repeat the reading.  I then pause for a discussion as each page is read.  I get really excited when I read the story My Lost Shoe, because many children will provide an immediate response to the questions.  It really sounds cute when they all have the same response.  When I get this reaction, my heart overflows with joy because I am achieving the desired results.

CH: Your book uses poetry storytelling.  Is this because the children are so young and preschoolers?

SW: My style of writing for children is poetic.  Long before I thought of writing stories, I wrote poems.  I know young children are very attentive to rhymes, rhythms and songs.  So, I naturally gravitate to a rhythmic pattern to obtain a certain kind of flow.  Each story, in this book, started out as a poem.  I do think this works well and is appropriate for the targeted audience of toddlers and preschoolers.  It is also an easy to read book for children who are beginner readers.

CH: Where do your ideas come from?

SW: My ideas come from interacting with my grandchildren, as well as, from observations of other children.  Some ideas develop when I see a particular scene, hear a particular phrase or think on a particular topic.  I also receive ideas when I am in my personal quiet time, about to fall asleep or just waking up.  I always keep pen and paper handy to jot down any idea that may surface.  I don’t always plan it this way, but there is usually a learning concept within each story that leads to a teachable moment.

CH: What inspired you to write a children’s book?

SW: I started several writing projects and shared them with my sisters.  From the sample writings that I read, they were really interested in me going forward to write a novel.  However, as I continued in prayer, I felt God wanted me to write a children’s book first. This may also be the result of me speaking about writing a children’s book as a life long dream and this was my opportunity to live out that dream.  I am a strong believer of you have what you believe and speak.  I still have the support of my sisters and they continue to encourage me to write that novel.  However, I am presently focusing on children’s books.

CH: I love your motto, “Looking is a part of every child’s journey.”  So, what is part of your writing journey/next writing project?

SW: My next writing project will be a children’s book.  I have several drafts of different stories that are being finalized.  I am still trying to decide which will be the next book.  I have one leading contender because it will continue the theme of “looking.”  So I’m leaning toward a story titled, “Do You See Me?”

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

SW: I did not have any challenges, writing this book came easy.  When I settled on the title, Look With Me, I had completed only two of three stories for the book.  I met with Rev. Wendell (illustrator) and prayed for a third story because I wanted to keep with the theme of “looking.” The third story was truly an inspiration from God.  This story is about looking with the heart based on blindness, which is something I am not familiar with.  However, I specifically sent up a prayer request and God delivered!  I completed the third story within a month and had it ready for my next meeting to discuss illustrations.

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

SW: I am a self-published author, so my major obstacle or you could say pitfall is that of marketing.  I am not a seller by nature and although I know what it takes to market, it is not a personal strength of mine.  Therefore, I have procrastinated in performing many of the tasks that are necessary to publicize my book.  Again, I am putting this to prayer and will expect to make greater efforts in the coming year.

CH: Are there any writers that you consider your mentor?

SW: As I am new to this profession, I have not established a specific mentoring relationship with anyone.  I do consider Yvonne Medley, Founder of the Life Journeys Writers Club, Inc. (LJWC), as my first source of mentoring.  I joined the LJWC last year and have attended the workshops. As for writers who are famous that you may study and observe their style of writing, I would say the mentor in my head is Dr. Seuss.

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

SW: Again, I would have to say my favorite children’s book author is Dr. Seuss. I love the rhythmic style of his writing and the learning that accompanies each story. I have always loved his children’s books and still enjoy them as an adult.

CH: What book are you currently reading?

SW: I am currently reading Jesus, Life Coach by Laurie Beth Jones; and The Daily Prophecy by Brenda Kunneman, along with my bible and several prayer books.  These are my self-development books and are for personal enrichment.  For my reading pleasure, I just purchased Pink and Patent Leather, a novel by Candy Jackson and She Speaks by Michele Clark Jenkins.  I am always reading a children’s book by various authors for my grandchildren.

 CH: Do you have a website?

SW: Yes, I do have a website, the address is  I can also be reached by email at

CH: Where is your book sold?

SW: My book may be purchased from my website and can also be purchased from, Barnes & Nobles, and AuthorHouse (

CH: Any closing remarks?

SW: First, I would like to thank you for this opportunity to share my thoughts and my book with your readers.  Secondly, I would like to encourage all parents to spend time reading to their children and helping them to explore the environment that surrounds them.  I believe you can see so much more when you read and when you look with the eyes of your heart!   “Look, Listen and Learn” that’s one of my favorite mantras.

CH: Sandra, thank you for sharing your experiences and your book with my audience.  


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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Kimberla Lawson Roby – Celebrity Guest Author Interview

Celebrity Couch (2)

the prodigal son_cover

Title: The Prodigal Son (A Rev. Curtis Black Novel)

Synopsis: The Reverend Curtis Black hasn’t spoken to his son, Matthew, in over a year-not since Matthew dropped out of Harvard to marry his girlfriend, Racquel, and be a full-time father to their infant son. Curtis knows that it was he and his wife, Charlotte, who drove Matthew away, but he prays that one day his son will forgive them and come home.

Then, there’s Dillon Whitfield-Curtis’s long-lost-son-who has settled in as a member of the Black family. Yet the transition has been anything but easy. Charlotte, convinced he’s only after Curtis’s money, wishes he would move back to where he came from. Dillon, however, has no intention of going anywhere. After a lifetime in the shadows, he’s determined to take his rightful place as Curtis’s first-born son and heir, and he’ll do whatever it takes to win his father’s affection-even if it means playing dirty…

As jealousy builds and secrets pile up, both of Curtis’s sons will be pushed over the edge and forced to take drastic action. Can these two troubled young men find their way back into the Black family fold, or will their family ties be undone once and for all?

Kimberla Roby_1

Author: Kimberla Lawson Roby

Kimberla Lawson Roby is a quiet and soft-spoken woman, but the awesome power of her writing definitely makes her a Celebrity!  It is indeed a pleasure to present to you today, our Celebrity Guest Author, Kimberla Lawson Roby.

 CH: Kimberla, thank you for joining us today and congratulations on writing your twentieth novel. Please tell us a little bit about your latest release, The Prodigal Son, a new Reverend Curtis Black novel.

KLR: The Prodigal Son is the next installment in my Reverend Curtis Black Series, and it is told in the voices of Curtis’s two sons, Matthew and Dillon.  One son hasn’t spoken to his parents in over a year, and one has just gotten to know his dad and is doing everything he can to fit into the Black Family fold.  He’s also fighting for his dad’s attention, and he is willing to do whatever he has to in order to get it.

CH: The Reverend Curtis Black Series—a saga that centers on a prominent pastor and his wife and their struggles with money, power and infidelity. It began in 2000 with Casting the First Stone, did you have any thoughts that the series would be such a success?

KLR: No, not at all.  As a matter of fact, before I wrote Casting the First Stone, I’d always said I would never write a sequel to any of my books.  It was my 3rd novel, and my 4th and 5th titles center on totally different characters and storylines.  But over the next three years, readers continued to ask me to write more about Reverend Curtis Black and his family, and my literary agent finally told me that because I had such a loyal audience of readers, I had an obligation to give them what they were asking for.  So, in 2003, I finished writing the 2nd book in the series, Too Much of a Good Thing, which was released in 2004.

CH: Two characters whose lives have plenty of conflict are his son, Matthew, who dropped out of Harvard to marry Racquel and be a father to his son; and Dillon Whitfield, his first born, who recently entered the family picture.  How do you keep conflict, rivalry and family tension constantly in the eye of the reader?

KLR: I’ve always believed that it is because of the fact that I write about very real-life issues, specifically those that tend to be taboo or controversial.  My readers have always shared with me how they are able to relate to each of my storylines in one way or another or they know people (family, friends, etc.) who can.

CH: You’ve written several novels in this family series. Is it difficult to keep the ideas and stories moving along for each family member, especially with the new generation?

KLR: At one point, I did wonder how long I’d be able to continue writing the series, but now that I’m writing about Curtis’ adult children, I realize I still have a few more stories to tell.  It has really become enjoyable for me to watch each of the children grow up and evolve.

CH: I’ve heard that sometimes you write 10-12 hours a day. How difficult is it to juggle family and your writing career when you’re on deadline?

KLR: Yes, when I’m writing the first draft of every book, I write 10-12 hours every single day until I finish it.  Then, I go back and begin my rewrites.  Also, because I have the most supportive husband in the world, he has no problem with my being locked away for about 4 weeks straight, and he even makes sure I have lunch and dinner daily.  I only write two books a year, though, so it is only twice per year that I have to do this.  When I’m doing rewrites, minor edits, marketing, etc., I work normal hours.  Then, as far as my national tours and most other events, my husband travels with me, and I am truly grateful for that.

CH: What does your family think of your writing? Especially your mother, who encouraged you to self-publish in 1996, after you had received many rejection letters from literary agents and publishing houses?

KLR: My mother was extremely proud from the very beginning, and she was there every step of the way until she became ill.  My husband and other family members continue to be proud as well.  As a matter of fact, it was my husband who encouraged me to self-publish my first novel, and he also borrowed money from his 401K account so I could.  He then suggested I quit my full-time job so that I could devote 100 percent of my time to my book.  That was in November 1996, and I’ve been writing full-time ever since.

CH: You’ve written several stand-alone titles besides the Rev. Curtis Black Series.  Of the 20 books you’ve written, which is your favorite? Are any of the characters based on you?

KLR: I actually have three favorites, all for different reasons.  Behind Closed Doors because it was the book that began my career; and It’s a Thin Line, because it is the only book I’ve written where I based a character on myself and my mom.  The Sydney character becomes the caregiver for her mom, who is terminally ill, and much of the dialogue is identical to some of what my mom and I shared with each other verbally.  Finally, Casting the First Stone, because it took my career to a whole other level, and it has allowed me to connect with the best readers ever.

CH: Do you have a particular word count you try to achieve each day?

KLR: It sort of depends on how I’m feeling and how quickly the story is coming to me.  Every writing day is different but when I’m writing my first draft, I try to write no less than 6,000 words per day.  Sometimes it’s a little more, and I’ve also written 10,000 words in a day.  This is very rare, of course, but it has happened.

CH: What are the most important elements of good writing? According to you, what tools are must-haves for writers?

KLR: It is certainly important to learn the craft of writing for technique purposes, but I also believe that one of the most important aspects of good “novel” writing is to tell a good, page-turning story.  I also believe it is imperative that novelists write straight from the heart, and that they stick with their own individual writing style.


CH: Which do you prefer laptop or desktop for writing?

KLR: I use my laptop for all novel writing, but I use my desktop for everything else.

CH: What book(s)/author(s) have influenced your life and writing?

KLR: Your Blues Like Mine by Bebe Moore Campbell is still my all-time favorite novel, because it is the first novel that made me feel as though I never wanted to put it down until I finished it.  This was years ago, but I remember feeling that way from the moment I read the first page.

CH: You won the 2013 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary 
Work.  When you began writing, did you think you would achieve so many accomplishments and such a variety of honors and awards?

Kim Roby _NAACP

KLR: No, I have to say I didn’t.  I never as much as expected to make the New York Times, USA Today, Essence or Publishers Weekly bestsellers list, so I certainly never imagined I would win a NAACP Image Award.  It was such an honor and a blessing, and that particular moment will always hold a special place in my heart.

CH: In September 2011, I saw you and talked to you in passing at the National Book Festival in Washington, DC. However, before then in June of 2007, I had the opportunity to interview you on my talk show, Just About Books, for your novel, Love and Lies.  You’ve come a long way since then. Do you think your writing has changed and if so, in what manner?

KLR: Yes, actually it has.  With my first nine books, I included a few four-letter words here and there (not many at all), but they were still mentioned.  I also wrote a few sex scenes (very tasteful, but still there was some detail).  However, in 2007 when I was working on my 10th novel, Sin No More, I prayed and realized that I couldn’t write certain words or scenes anymore.  Profanity (even just two or three words) doesn’t represent who I am as a person, and more important, it doesn’t represent my love for God or my faith in Him.  From the time I listened to God and made those couple of changes in my writing, I felt relieved and I gained a brand new level of excitement about my writing career.

CH: You will be on tour soon for this release and will be in Washington, DC and Alexandria, VA on May 13th. How do you prepare for your on-the-road tours when you have a book being released?

KLR: I am involved in lots of pre-publication marketing efforts and publicity interviews, I hold online contests for my readers, and I have to prepare to be gone for two weeks straight before getting back home for a short break.  Mostly, I have to prepare for the physical part because during the tour, sometimes I’m only able to get four or five hours of sleep each night, as we tend to travel to a different state daily.  But as I mentioned earlier, my husband always travels with me on all my tours, so that makes a huge difference.  We always have a great time at every event, and there is absolutely nothing better for a writer than meeting her readers in person and hearing their comments.

CH: Where can your readers find you?

KLR: My facebook page:                                   My Goodreads author page:                                                            My AALBC page:                                                  Twitter:                      Amazon:                                           Web Site:

CH: Do you have any closing remarks?

KLR: Thank you for allowing me to have such a wonderful opportunity, and I would also like to thank my amazing readers.  I wouldn’t have a writing career without all of them, and I am forever grateful.

CH: Kimberla Lawson Roby, thank you so much for sharing your experiences and your book with my audience. Again, congratulations on writing your twentieth novel.  

Note: Photos are compliments of the Internet.

CR Wooden – Guest Author Interview


Title: Footprints on My Soul, Do these footprints belong to you?

 Genre: Contemporary/Christian Romance

Book Synopsis: Footprints on My Soul, is an extraordinary love story that follows the life of Rachel, a woman of faith, whose life appears to be perfect.  This story takes you on a journey of stolen innocence, love, romance, betrayal and forgiveness.  As you read Rachel’s story, you will question how events and the words of others affect the person you’ve become or at least the person you believe yourself to be.

CR Wooden_Author

Author: CR Wooden

I invited today’s Guest Author, CR Wooden, to my Blog to answer a few questions about her writing and her book.

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

CRW: You should read Footprints on My Soul because everyone has something that he or she is going through or has gone through or will go through, and this book helps you see that as long you keep going and don’t quit, you will win in the end.

CH: Rachel used writing and poetry to help her stay calm. Is this something that you, as a writer, also do?

CRW: Yes, I definitely use writing as a way to clear my head.  For me however, it’s much more, to write is to heal.  I determine the conclusion; I determine where the commas and periods go.

CH: Rachel only had two friends and was very skeptical of people, was this because she didn’t really know who she, herself, was?

CRW: Rachel only had two friends because she didn’t trust people easily.  She believed that people often had ulterior motives for being kind.

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?

CRW: My ideas mostly come to me by observing others or through dreams.  If I go to bed thinking about a character, normally, I will dream an entire scene about that character. Later I’ll write the rest of the story around these scenes.

CH: Do you have any writing rituals or do you listen to “mood music” when you write?

CRW: I like quiet when I write and I tend to write very late at night or first thing in the morning.  This is largely because I like to get the “dream” down on paper before I forget it.  Being a teacher, a mother of two little girls and a wife, it’s imperative that I give myself deadlines in order to get a book finished.

CH: So what’s next for you as an author?

CRW: Currently, I’m writing Paul’s story, To Love Again, while at the same time, promoting Footprints.

CH: Where is your favorite place to write?

CRW: My favorite place to write is in my sitting room/bedroom.

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

CRW: I believe the most exciting and different thing I bring to my readers is realism in Christian Love/Romance.  It’s not always perfect or pretty, but it’s honest and passionate.

CH: Your cover is unique. Who designed the cover?

CRW: I created the concept for the cover.  That’s a photo of me standing in the foyer of my home taken by DeAunte Lancaster.   As a child, it was in the mirror that I questioned why I looked the way I did.  Today as an adult, it’s in the mirror that I often have conversations with myself confirming that I’m wonderfully created in the image of God.

CH: Are there any writers that you consider your mentor?

CRW: I don’t consider a particular author as a mentor.  However, several authors inspire me. Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, Christine Feehan are just a few.

CH: Why did you decide to write this book?

CRW: I had to write this book.  Too often we, as African-American women keep silent on sexual abuse, intra-racism, and adultery. This isn’t just my story but a collaboration of several stories.

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

CRW: The most challenging thing about writing this book was deciding what to include and what to leave out.  Previously, there were three chapters on Rachel’s childhood, but I decided to leave that for another story.

CH: Where did you get inspiration for your characters?

CRW: All of my characters are either based on my life or that of individuals I know.

CH: Do you have a website?

CRW: My website is  You can also follow me on twitter @CRWooden1 or send me an email  I love to hear from my readers.

CH: Where is your book sold?

CRW: You can find my book on

CH: Any closing remarks?

CRW: Thank you so much for this opportunity, and thanks to my readers for their continued support.

CH: CR, thank you for sharing your experiences and your book with my audience.  


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



My Blog Baby Is 6 Months Old!

6 Months old                          New Blog

My baby is six months old and half way through the first year. So…Happy Birthday to this blog and its faithful readers.

As you know, I love writing and sharing writer thoughts and ideas with other writers. I am new to blogging and this is my first milestone.  Blogging takes a lot of time, but it is worth it and it does keep me writing on a regular basis.

I also am ecstatic about paying it forward to other authors. One of my mentors, Zig Ziglar once said, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” And so, I help other authors by providing Guest Author Interviews.

Blogging for me will never make me rich or famous, but it is something that I completely enjoy. I am still trying to write books, which at times with deadlines, blogging does make it difficult.

I have received a lot of comments from my readers and subscribers.  Thanks for reading my thoughts so far and I hope you find value in this blog. You So Much

Because I love writing, I am inspired to continue writing this blog!

Cheryl_Script Purple

Action Steps:                                                                                                                                        1. View/read this blog and comment                                                                                    2.  Invite your friends to view/read this blog                                                                      3. Subscribe to this blog.



Aries Free – Guest Author Interview


Title: Twelve: Life Lessons of a Pre-Teen Mother

Genre: Memoir

Synopsis: Twelve Years Old And Pregnant… Twelve is the personal story of a young woman who not only survived being a preteen mother, but went on to dedicate her life to sharing information and helping others. Determined not to become part of the statistics that condemn preteen mothers and their children to lives of failure, Aries Free called on all her resilience, knowing in her heart that she deserved better. This moving and inspiring book calls attention to the need for young women to receive better education at home and at school about sexuality, and the need for society as a whole to be more open and supportive. Twelve will open your eyes to the ways in which poverty and social discrimination contribute to the epidemic of preteen and teen pregnancy, and the ways in which our schools and social services fail to provide a solid structure for these at-risk mothers and children. The cycle of preteen mothers stops only when there is honesty, compassion, and action. Twelve provides a strong role model for preteen and teen mothers, and shows that there is always hope, even in the most difficult circumstances.

Rasheen Murphy

Author: Aries Free

I invited today’s Guest Author, Aries Free, to my Blog to answer a few questions about her writing and her book.

CH: This book is a personal memoir about a challenging life and childhood. At the end you said, “I’m not the most orthodox parent, but our relationship works for us.”  So, why do you feel that you have life lessons to offer others?

AF: This is my journey and my lessons. The readers should take what is fitting for their life while parenting, and if it doesn’t fit, release it. Every road traveled isn’t for everyone, including myself.

CH: You said, “The world has now become one big school to me. I meet so many teachers and students on this journey.” Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.

 AF: Young women and men, minorities, and the urban community…I think all walks of life can find some benefits of reading this story because I talk about many different people that I encountered and the experiences.

CH: This book seems like a long journal of events. Other than wanting to leave a legacy for your daughter, why did you decide to write this book? 

AF: It was a self-healing therapy for myself and others. I always have people drawn to me for one reason or another. I thought this was a great idea to give some insight into who I am becoming and where I came from as a person. 

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

AF: It took over ten years of journals to write this book.

CH: The book covers many years in your life, did you leave out any stories that you wanted to include?

AF: Yes, I left out many stories. I tried not to make the book too long, but to touch on what I thought were my most important subject matters. I decided to save some stories for another book or my YouTube channel.

CH: What advice would you give someone who is starting to write a memoir?

AF: Try to get as much information as possible on your desired route to publish. I made a few mistakes thinking that I was ready to self-publish when I wasn’t and wasted money.

CH: You discuss many “Life Lessons of a Pre-Teen Mother.” What main lesson do you want readers to get from your novel?

AF: I want people to get the main lesson of “growth” from my experience.

CH: There was a touching poem in the book, After A While by Veronica Shoffstall, why did you decide to include it?

AF: This poem means a lot to me because it has gotten me through many closing chapters in my life. I can read the poem in very troubling times and I can instantly connect with the words. To this day, I keep the poem on my refrigerator as encouragement during hard times. It provides for me understanding of moving on and learning to love myself first.

CH: What additional education did you acquire to fill the void? 

AF:  I have some college, and my major is business. Actually, I’m back in school again. I’m also a licensed massage therapist and I graduated from the Connecticut Center of Massage Therapy.

CH: Do you have a website?

AF: No, I don’t have a website yet, but readers can contact me through the following:
YouTube channel: Rasheen Murphy
Twitter: @ariesfree
Facebook: Rasheen Murphy
Instagram: Aries_free

CH: Where is your book sold?

 AF:,,, and

CH: Do you have any closing remarks?

AF: It’s not a story with glitz and glamour or even a happy ending. It’s about real-life events. It’s written in a raw form, with no holds barred. I try to be honest and provide details with my emotions during these events in my life.  I would love for anyone out there to purchase the book, because I don’t feel that you will be disappointed. All feedback is welcomed.  Thanks, Cheryl, for allowing me this opportunity to be a Guest Author on your blog site.

CH: Aries, thank you for sharing your experiences and your book with my audience.  

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

Brenda Jackson – Celebrity Guest Author Interview

Celebrity Couch (2)

Book Cover_Brenda Jackson

Title: The Real Thing (Westmoreland Series)

Genre: Romance/Contemporary

Synopsis: What happens when a pretend boyfriend wants more than make-believe? Find out in this Westmoreland novel from New York Times bestselling author Brenda Jackson!  No red-blooded man turns down the chance to escort gorgeous Trinity Matthews—and Adrian Westmoreland is definitely red-blooded. For her, he’ll pretend to be her man. But keeping his hands to himself? That is impossible. A Westmoreland always keeps his word, but how long before Adrian turns this fake affair into something real?

Brenda Jackson_2

Author: Brenda Jackson

I feel so happy and privileged to present to you today, our Celebrity Guest Author, Brenda Jackson. She is one of my favorite authors and I was privileged to meet her in 2011 at one of my favorite places—the library.

CH: Brenda, thank you for joining us and welcome! Please tell us a little bit about your latest release, The Real Thing, a new Westmoreland novel, which was just published a few days ago on March 4th.

BJ: The Real Thing is my 28th novel in the Westmoreland Family series and is very special to me because it’s about one of the characters who was notorious for getting into trouble while growing up.  Now, all grown up and a doctor, I am happy for him to find love.

CH: Your main characters, Trinity Matthews and Adrian Westmoreland, are beautiful and handsome respectfully.  Is it hard to create eye-candy characters for your readers to visualize?

BJ: No, all of my characters are a part of my imagination.  When I describe them it’s sharing my vision of what they look like with my readers.

CH: At one o’clock in the morning, Trinity and Adrian go rock climbing at a 24-hour Indoor Mountain Climbing facility. How do you come up with such interesting ideas?

BJ: Rock climbing is something I’ve always been interested in doing but never have.  While on a business trip to Minnesota years ago, a few of my co-workers talked me into going with them.  It was interesting to see them do it, but I didn’t have enough nerve to try it myself.  In The Real Thing, Trinity was braver than I was.

CH: You’ve written several family series—Madaris, Westmoreland, Steele—is it difficult to keep the ideas and stories moving along for each family member?

 BJ: At first no, but the more I write yes, because the idea is one I may have presented in another family.  The key is making sure although the idea may be the same, the telling of the story is different.  I try to come up with interesting twists to the same idea, although the outcome will be the same.  The couple will be together and love forever.

 CH: How long does it take you to write a book?

BJ: It depends on the book I’m writing, the word count of the book and how well I know my characters.  With some characters I have to go back and researchwhich is reading all the books they were ever featured into get to know them again.  That might take some time to do.  That’s when you find out little quirks about them that you might want to expound on in their book.  I’ve written a Westmoreland novel, Tall, Dark Westmoreland, in 2 weeks.

CH: What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

BJ: Before my hubby transitioned a few months ago, I had a pretty tight writing schedule and could write 6-8 books a year, in some instances.  Now, I just roll with the flow.  Because I am a structured person, I will eventually place myself on a writing schedule again.

CH: Congratulations on your 100th book, A Madaris Bride for Christmas

Brenda Jackson's 100th Book

CH: Of the 100+ books you’ve written which is your favorite? Are any of the characters based on you?

BJ: My favorite is my first, Tonight and Forever, and no, it’s not based on me.  However, all of my books tell the story of a couple who are soul mates and love forever.  If anything, that part is about me and my husband.


 CH: As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

BJ: I wanted to work in “Corporate America” where I could go to work dressed up every day.  I did for 37 years when I worked for a major insurance company and I loved it!!

CH: What are the most important elements of good writing?

BJ: Imagination and a creative mind.  There are others, but these two come to mind quick for me.

CH: Do you prefer e-books, paperbacks or hardcover?

BJ: I like all 3.  No preference, although, when traveling e-books are easier and less costly now that we pay for the weight of luggage.

CH: What author(s) have influenced your life and writing?

BJ: Nora Roberts, Linda Howard, and Kathleen Woodiwiss

CH: What books would you like to read again?

BJ: Shanna and The Flame and The Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss; Night Song by Beverly Jenkins; any of the MacGregors series by Nora Roberts; and any of The MacKenzie Family Saga series by Linda Howard.

CH: You are the first African American romance novel writer on both the NY Times and USA Today Bestseller List. When you began writing, did you think you would have such an accomplishment?

BJ: No, never gave thought to such an achievement.  I wanted to write for fun and share this fun with others.  I am proud of all my accomplishments.

CH: You will soon celebrate 20 years as a published author. Did you ever think you would have this much longevity as a romance writer?

BJ: No, my goal was to write only 10 books.  After all, I had my dream job of working in Corporate America and loved it.  But a good friend told me after reading several of my books that eventually I would become a full-time writer because it was my calling.  My hubby told me that as well.

CH: I purchased your first movie, Truly Everlasting, and thoroughly enjoyed it. In January, it was announced that Debbie Allen will be the Director of your next Movie, A Silken Thread. How do you feel about your books being made into movies?

BJ: I feel great about it and I look forward to working with Debbie Allen.  I will be a consultant on set and I admire Ms. Allen so much.  She is a gifted director.  I will only allow my books to become movies, if I approve the script.  I don’t want my books taken out of the context I intended.

CH: In February of 2011, I had the opportunity to meet you at the Clinton Library in Prince George’s County, Maryland. It was the day after my birthday and I was ecstatic to meet you and enjoy the discussion on A Silken Thread. It was a wonderful birthday present. Where can your fans and readers find you?

BJ: You can find me…On my website:   

My facebook page:        

On Twitter:

CH: Do you have any closing remarks?

BJ: I want to thank my readers who’ve always been supportive of me and my work.

CH: Brenda Jackson, thank you so much for sharing your experiences and your book with my audience. Again, congratulations on writing 100+ romance books.  

BJ: You are welcome, Cheryl.


Cheryl Holloway’s Recent Business Trip

trip                                              luggage

Life has been extremely pleasing lately. I want to give my readers an update on a recent business trip to northern California.

It started out as a nightmare. We had a snowstorm on the East Coast on Sunday and Monday, so the weather was cancelling flights everywhere. I finally got on my flight on Wednesday. I went through Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checks and thought I was fine. It was a little shaky in various spots, but the closer we got to the West Coast, the better the weather became. I arrived at my destination. However, the next day when I was going to take my prescribed medication, I realized that TSA had disposed of it. I had to call my doctor back home and get her to send a prescription to my current location. This took several days of frustration for everyone to coordinate. Wow that’s finally over!

Invitation Logo

On March 7th and 8th, I was a participant in The Invitation: Healing of a Woman’s Heart Conference (Free) at First Baptist Church in Rancho Cordova. I spoke on Saturday morning, and my topic was “The Touch of the Master’s Hand.”  The conference was indeed a Blessing to everyone attending and participating! I am on the Invitation Team and do the conference every year. I have the Creative Writing Women’s Ministry, which includes classes on various topics, but the writing topics are Spiritual Journaling and Writing Devotionals.

Writers Resource Center

When Janie Bess heard that I was in town, she asked me to teach a writing class for the Writers Resource Center (WRC) in Fairfield. So, on March 11th, I taught the first class in the “Writing for Publication” series at WRC. I provided information for beginning writers on “How to Write Every Day for 365 Days” and “How to Promote and Market Your Writing” for seasoned writers. They were a great group who was enthusiastic and had a positive spirit, which provided for a productive and fun class.

Melanie commented on the Evaluation Form, “I appreciate the useful tips for book promotion as well as the ‘don’t break the chain’ idea. It is clear that Cheryl cares deeply about the field of writing and has much to offer other writers. This was an evening well spent – thanks!”

The organizers of the writing series thanked me for coming on short notice. I try to be accommodating and prepared (I carry information, handouts and classes on my usb).

So, considering everything that happened on this business trip, it was respectively a success!

Cheryl_Script Purple

Lois A. Schaffer – Guest Author Interview


Title: The Unthinkable: Life, Loss, and a Mother’s Mission to Ban Illegal Guns

Genre: Memoir

Synopsis: In 2008, a daughter talking to her mother on a long-distance call hears cracks, and the phone goes dead. Later, her seventeen-year-old brother returns from school and finds their mother murdered. She had interrupted seventeen-year-old burglars, who shot her multiple times. Now, from the perspective of time and reflection, Lois Schaffer creates a memoir about her daughter’s life and the consequences of her death and voices a mother’s plea for control of illegal guns.


Author: Lois A. Schaffer

CH: May I preface this interview by saying that this is a different type of book. A book about one of our most serious problems in America—gun violence.

LAS: You are correct. It’s more serious than the ordinary citizen can imagine. In my book, there is reference made by Alvin, my daughter, Susie’s “soulmate” about thinking gun violence only happens to the “other guy.” As he said, and I’ve quoted in my book, “We are the other guy.” I wanted to tell my personal story about the tragic impact gun violence has had on law abiding citizens, like us. I “put a face” on gun violence like a “face” has been put on the Civil Rights Movement (think about the 3 young men, Schwerner, Cheney, and Goodman,  who were murdered) or the Holocaust (think about Anne Frank or Hannah Senesh). They were the “faces” of people whom a reader can relate to; living, breathing human beings, who were tragic examples of violence; ordinary citizens who wanted to make a difference, as I do. Susie became the “face,” a person the reader knew or could instantly relate to. Mentioning endless numbers of people who are brutally annihilated is hard to process. I believe that more of an impact is created when the story is told from a personal point of view. Therefore, included in the book are the personal connections my daughter had. Much of the book is devoted to chapters that express the loving relationships Susie had with members of her family (her children, her Dad and myself) friends, colleagues and students, etc.  By describing each strong, loving relationship, it makes the impact of the loss feel that much greater.

CH: Please tell us, why we should read your book.

LAS: I think my book is important to read because it emphasizes on a personal level the scourge of gun violence that has only escalated since our daughter’s murder in 2008. As I said before, a personal story has more of an impact than mentioning overwhelming numbers…and this is a tragic, personal story about a young woman who was loved by everyone who knew her. I want the book read for several reasons: 1.So that each reader will comprehend the affect it has had on the lives of ordinary citizens like us. Without making people paranoid, I want them to realize they might tragically also become the “other guy.” 2. Hopefully, by reading my book the reader will be influenced to join the fight to prevent future gun violence. 3.To encourage people to demand action by our legislators, on a variety of issues such as: initiating a universal background check, stopping gun trafficking, closing the gun show loop hole, the acceptance of carrying concealed weapons and the easy accessibility of guns. 4.To make even gun advocates aware of the dangers in their own homes and to encourage them to become more safety minded.

I’ve described willful deaths due to gun violence. There are also accidental deaths and the statistics are shattering regarding the easy accessibility of guns found by children. The guns are unlocked, loaded and not in safe storage. You know the result. In excess of 7,300 children have died since 2009, due to carelessness. The combination of the escalation of both willful and accidental  deaths that has erupted in our society, the easy accessibility of guns, and the wanton willfulness, of gun violence like the Newtown massacre are compelling reasons to read my book for a heartwrenching reaction by our society to have a groundswell for legislative change.

At this point, I want to mention New York State’s proposed Child Action Prevention Bill #A8293 that has been proposed to the New York State Assembly by the gun safety organization, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, known as NYAGV. It’s called the CAP bill, named  “Nicholas’ Bill” after 12-year-old Nicholas Naumkin, who was accidentally shot by a friend who was playing with his father’s unlocked, loaded gun. Tragedies like this happen daily.

CH: The story was very touching and I cried through most of it. I lost my daughter to illness and can’t imagine the grief you went through in such a heinous crime. Lois, was it painful to revisit the situation that changed your life to write the book?

LAS: You speak about crying and on the one hand, I didn’t want you to cry. On the other hand, that’s the emotion I want the readers to feel in their gut and heart and hopefully to arouse their passion to join our fight for sensible reduction of gun violence. Crying is a valid human reaction to human emotions. So is the ability to laugh and Susie was human, she made you laugh and her sudden senseless loss makes you cry… But one must cry. It’s part of the grieving process. I was invited to speak at the Connecticut Legislative Hearings in January, 2012 after the Newtown massacre. I had the occasion to speak to those parents, one in particular who said, “I can’t stop crying.” I embraced her and said, “I know, but you must.” To this day, I cry, because I cannot help but  remember the tragic circumstances about Susie’s death, but the things we did together and how much I yearn to have those enjoyable times again. I’m deeply sorry for your loss and understand your pain. While people can sympathize with you, I empathize with you. A loss due to illness like the loss of your child might provide time to say goodbye. Some say closure. There isn’t any closure, nor will there ever be. It’s still unbearably heartwrenching. But a sudden, senseless death leaves parents like us, to be termed “the other guy” horrifically devastated. There is nothing worse than the loss of a child. My heart breaks for your loss, for the families who share my loss, where the killings reeked of depravity and were intentional.

Writing the book was an emotional upheaval. But I had to do it. Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy ably spoke out in her way. I wanted to do it my way and for for several reasons: to honor my daughter’s memory, (who wouldn’t even permit her children to play with water guns) as another voice to use the book as a vehicle to speak to the world at large about this ridiculous fiction espoused by the NRA. They think the Second Amendment allows everyone to have all kinds of guns including automatic assault weapons. When the Second Amendment was first written it provided for protection for a weak, small new country without a militia–so that people who were called in time of danger would have the arms at the time ready to protect their land. The last thing our country needs is an armed, civilian militia.

My life was changed forever in ways in which my husband and I could have never imagined. We always appreciated our good health, had two healthy children (now six grandchildren) who succeeded in their life’s work, were all contributing members of their respective communities. We heard and read about tragic deaths due to gun violence, I was a gun safety advocate even before Susie’s death. It’s like a nightmare that has immeasurably altered our lives.

CH: Please tell us the main goal that you have for writing this book and what you wish to accomplish by making facts and statistics available to the average person?

LAS: First, regarding statistics: I don’t want to focus on numbers, which we all have seen escalate due to gun violence. We’re talking about humanity…and one death due to gun violence is one too many. Having said that, I have three main goals, besides the tribute to our daughter: 1. I wanted to raise the consciousness of our society about how gun violence has prevailed in our country creating tragic results and indeed continue to escalate. Secondly, to encourage our society to passionately push our Government for sensible gun legislation. As I wrote the book, there were almost daily tragic occurrences of gun violence. It was “mind boggling.” Thirdly, to try to make a difference and excite others to become as passionate as I am regarding these tragedies. I found a quote by the famous, American author, historian and minister, Edward Everett Hale that expresses my values. He said: “I am only one. but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do. What I can do, I should do. And what I should do, by the grace of God, I will do.”     I feel the same. 

CH: I found the Author’s Note very informative. Did you find the research challenging while writing your personal story?

LAS: Thank you.  The research was both challenging and frustrating. As I said in the book, I tried to obtain information about the two teenagers, but no information could or would be made available to me. My conversations with various sources were not forthcoming.  I wanted some background information about their lives that might have thrown light onto why they became not only criminals, but murderers. My conclusion was the gun…the shooter’s access to the gun. Susie would be alive today, if there was no gun. So, I focused on the information I had and the tragedy that resulted by the presence of the gun.

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

LAS: There were several which I have mentioned in my book and each for different reasons: On the loss of a child: I was completely moved by Joan Didion’s book, The Year of Magical Thinking. Beautifully written about the death of her husband and daughter…all in the same year. Professor Roger Rosenblatt’s, Making Toast. It was the story of his daughter, a successful 38-year-old pediatrician, who suddenly succumbed to a rare heart disease while exercising on a treadmill. Dr. Dorothy Greenbaum’s book, Lovestrong, particularly her feelings on informing parents about their terminally-ill child. Additionally, Dr. Greenbaum’s sad recollection about the loss of her twin brother. Another book on unnecessary violence was After the Murder of My Son, by Mary Rondeau Westra, who wrote about her son, a 24-year-old graduate of Middlebury College and a successful investment banker. He suffered a brutal beating by a “bouncer” as he entered a nightclub to attend a friend’s bachelor party. Then there were two other accounts of gun violence that influenced me. The first, was by the noted writer, Dominick Dunne, who wrote an article and a book entitled Justice that described his daughter’s brutal murder and finally, After the Violence, by Ellen Zelda Kessner, who also wrote about her daughter’s brutal shooting. Although adults have been fatally wounded by guns, I narrowed my research to children.  Susie was an adult, but she was my child. The other thing that impressed me about all of those people I have mentioned who experienced the death of a child; each one fully expressing the sadness they felt, but more importantly, took their tragic circumstances by different means counteracting their losses with doing good work. I hope my book will be that “good work” to prevent future tragedies.

CH: Lois, it was very refreshing to get to know Susie as a person, rather than just a victim. Did you intentionally write the book this way or did it just happen?

LAS: That was absolutely my intention. In the end, she was a victim. However, my intention was to describe her as the person she was for 48 years before she tragically became that victim. As you discovered, I described Susie through the eyes and relationships she had with members of her family, friends, colleagues, and the merchants she came into contact with. I wanted to make her “real,” which as I’ve said, makes the impact of the void felt by those who knew and loved her that much greater. She was “real,” an active, vibrant, caring, thinking person, a daughter, mother, sister and friend.  And I’m gratified that my intention was so clear to you.

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

LAS: It took four years. Approximately, five months after Susie’s death I decided that I needed to do something (like Edward Everett’s Hale’s quote). My initial thought was to explore the possibility of making a documentary. I shared this idea with a good friend, Evelyn Weinstein, (now deceased) a woman I considered to be my mentor. She told me that she had a good friend in California who is the father of a filmmaker. “Finish it,” she said, “and I’ll send it to him.” Which is what happened. Subsequently, I received a phone call from this man in California. “So sorry for your loss,” he said. I’ll see what I can do, but he continued, “I think you should write a book.” So, in June, 2009, I began to write. After approximately 2 1/2 years, I completed what I believed to be a first draft. Then managed to connect to Judy Cohen, an outstanding editor. Miraculously, I found the Brown Publishing Group in Texas, a gun state. Their editor and every person I dealt with at Brown were intelligent, creative and thought-provoking as we went through the editing/design and publishing process.

CH: I enjoyed the Susan Schaffer Tribute on YouTube by her friend Seth Swirsky. 

LAS: As you also discovered, Seth was our next-door neighbor. He and Susie were close friends. Seth has always been a very talented musician, songwriter and lyricist. They remained friends even though they lived in different states and didn’t share the same political views, as I know you read in my book. It was touching to learn that he hopped on the “redeye” flight from California to New York to attend Susie’s funeral. It was indicative of the strong friendship they shared.

CH: Do you have a website?

LAS: My website is:

CH: Where is your book sold?

LAS: The book is sold at Barnes & Noble book stores, Barnes &, and It is also now an e-book.

CH: Do you have any closing remarks?

LAS: First, I want to thank you, Cheryl for giving me this opportunity to speak about a devastating issue that has affected our American society and keeps escalating due to our society’s complacency, the easy accessibility of guns and the failings by both the Government and the NRA (National Rifle Association). Secondly, I want each and every American to push Congress to initiate gun safety measures, such as the passage of a universal background check requirement. I implore people to call and write their Congressional representative, to initiate gun safety measures. Become involved with gun safety organizations, such as New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the Brady Campaign. Third, I want to excite a passion in our society. It’s tragic that we have to look to our Government for change. We are talking about the preservation of human life. It’s truly a matter of life and death. Like our family, anyone could become the “other guy.” If we don’t get emotional about strangers, when we realize that there is a significant chance they could be that miserable “other guy” maybe enough of us will get passionate enough to make a difference.

CH: Lois, thank you so much for sharing your experience, your desire to ban illegal guns and your book with my audience.  

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

Wilma Brockington – Guest Author Interview

Office Politics_Cover

Title: Office Politics

 Genre: Contemporary Fiction

 Synopsis: As employees of Valuable Temps in Baltimore, Mina Taylor, Dottie Wallace, Jesse Smith, and Tia Wilson have the misfortune of working for the boss from hell, owner Irene Douglas. Over a short period of time, they’ve watched their co-workers join the company only to be fired after a taste of Irene’s workplace wrath. Irene commits the ultimate office sin against them by calling a staff meeting at 5 p.m. on a Friday to lay out her new rules of engagement. Immediately following the meeting, the foursome head to a local pub for happy hour and more importantly, to create a fool proof plan to confront Irene with hopes of making her see the light. However, the unexpected occurs and the group is suddenly faced with a situation that produces escalating consequences. Can they pull together as a team to come out on the winning end of their dilemma? Also, can they cope with the impact of Irene’s deepest, darkest secret that could destroy her as well as them?


Author: Wilma Brockington

I invited today’s Guest Author, Wilma Brockington, to my Blog to answer a few questions about her writing and her books.

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

 WB: If you enjoy fast-paced drama with surprising twists, you’ll enjoy Office Politics.

CH: The book was published over 5 years ago, what is the theme that continues to grab readers attention?

 WB: One of the primary themes in Office Politics surrounds four employees, Dottie, Jesse, Mina and Tia.  They must decide whether to fend as a team or fend for themselves to resolve their issues.  If you’ve ever worked in an office, you may have had to decide whether or not to be an individual or be a part of a team.  I believe many readers will be able to relate to this.

CH: This story was similar to the movie, 9 to 5, but with a twist. 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?

WB: I typically write my own story.  I enjoy being unique.  When I actively write, I often have a flow of ideas, which bring the entire story to life.

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

WB: When I’m writing a story, I start with a general storyline with the end in mind.  I outline each chapter to build the basic story.  I’ve noticed when I’m developing characters, in many instances, believe it or not, they have a “mind of their own.”  I like to ensure that my characters have depth and emotions just like real people.  I instinctively know when I need to follow their lead.

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

WB: My professional background is in human resources.  In Office Politics, I bring my human resources knowledge to light in an office setting.  Not only will readers be entertained by the antics of the characters, but they will also learn something about human resources behind the scenes.

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

WB: I did some of both with the majority from my own imagination.  Since Office Politics is very fast-paced, I had to create situations that would be believable especially for those who have worked in an office.

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

WB: One of my favorite authors is Beverly Jenkins.  She writes historical fiction.  I enjoy her work because she uniquely marries history with romance.  I always learn something from her writing and at the same time, I learn something new about our history.  Her writing style makes you feel like you’re experiencing history and can bring a vast array of emotions.  In my writing, I hope to make my readers feel emotion and learn something new as well.

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

WB: I have a few things I’d like to accomplish for 2014.  I have a romantic suspense novel in the works.  Also, I became a certified professional coach through the International Coach Federation.  I’d like to expand my coaching practice to help writers create action plans to make their writing dreams a reality.

CH: Do you have a website?

WB: Yes.  My website is

CH: Where is your book sold?

WB: My book is available via my website, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon.

CH: Do you have any closing remarks?

 WB: Cheryl, thanks for the opportunity to be featured on your blog.  I really appreciate the support you provide to the author community.  I invite readers to visit my website for more information about Office Politics and my other projects.

CH: Wilma, thank you for sharing your experiences and your book with my audience.  

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